Monday, April 16, 2012

Bimini Once Again

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Yep, Bimini has become an annual trip it seems. And I got the chance to go this year which was awesome! I met some of the people Kel and Dad got to know last year, and I'm pretty sure we did a lot of the same things as well...snorkeled Three Sisters Reef and Honeymoon Harbour, which was gorgeous! Had a lobster feast on the beach, attended Junkanoo!, watched the fireworks on New Years, and of course enjoyed the many amazing sunsets that only Bimini has. We also went on a dolphin excursion, and Dad went scuba diving in some new places he hadn't been before. We went swimming with the sharks, which was amazing! And definitely had some fun nights out, lots of dancing!!

We saw an octopus!!

This trip we rented a cottage right on the beach, so we saw almost every sunset. And it was closer to town, which was perfect because we could just walk wherever we wanted to go and could hear where all the action was. We also had access to a golf cart, which we took full advantage of, and toured around the north island. The brakes didn't work too well, but we managed. lol. 

Besides hanging out with some old friends, Ben, Justin, and Tyler from Canada,....and Norbert and Ashley who live in the Dolphin House,..we made some new friends as well. Hilza and Debbie, we met these two crazy women while watching the sunset. They were drinking wine and chatting up a storm! They were loads of fun and even brought us a Canadian flag that Hilza's husband found on the water, very nice! We also met Captain Jack, from the dolphin tour we did. He's a really nice local guy, and we got to drink with him while out one night. We met Jesse that night too, a guy from Florida who charters fishing boats. He gave us some Wahoo, a type of fish. We took it to Sherri and she cooked it up for us, along with some conch. It was delicious!!! She's the best, and the sweetest person ever! Pretty much everyone you meet in Bimini is great. lol.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Together Again!

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Finally! Once I got back from Oz, it wasn't long til Kel and I hit the road again on another trip. It felt really good to be back at it. Was kind of like we had never left and just picked up where we left off. But we really did miss it. Was tempting to just do the whole east coast. lol. But that will have to wait. This trip we headed to Quebec City and Montreal. Started in old Quebec, browsed the markets, enjoyed the street performances and ate beaver tails! Yum! Nutella banana and apple cinnamon!


The next day we hit up Montmorency Falls. It is just outside the city, so if ever in Quebec be sure to make the trek out there.  Really beautiful views and the waterfall is quite amazing as well. The walk up is a hike, there are about 15 flights of stairs, but you can take breaks and it actually gives a really nice view. After that we headed to Ile d'Orleans. It is just a cute little island on the other side of the falls. There are little shops and such, very country-like.

Montreal was next, and I was most looking forward to it. Kel had toured around before, but it was my first time so I was really excited, especially to see Old Montreal and Chateau Frontenac. We got a place at this really neat B&B. Right in old Montreal. It was old and cottage-like, and everyone was super nice. I loved it! (Too bad Kelly's eyes are closed in this picture. hah!)

We hit up the shops in Old Montreal. Such awesome architecture and I loved the old buildings, the cobblestone streets and all the flowers and greenery. Was really beautiful! I appreciated the detail and the artsy vibe of the place. We then got some lunch and happened to stumble upon a cycling event. Not sure what it was exactly but we watched that while we ate, then walked along the water towards Chateau Frontenac...and it honestly is a gorgeous building.

Before our trip was over we had to get some poutine, and we heard La Banquise was the best. So so good!! Real gravy, actual cheese curds, and savory fries. mmm. They have flavours for everyone, with over 20 different poutine variations on the menu. Definitely didn't disappoint!

To end the trip, Kelly decided to spontaneously get a tattoo! lol. Well, she had been seriously considering it for a couple months. But I guess after we walked by this tattoo shop for the second time she thought now was the time. I'm not sure if it was because I was with her, but for some reason she got the courage. There were some tears and some painful faces at times, but she did good. Didn't pass out and that's always a plus! haha :) The end result was a tiny little heart on her inner arm, near her wrist. Very cute!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Week in Taiwan

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Oh what fun it was! Only a week, but it was well worth it...
My old roommate from Brock, Denise, was teaching in Hsinchu
, and it had been so long since I'd seen her, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to go. Of course I was a little nervous because I knew I would not be able to communicate with anyone, but thankfully her boyfriend, JP, picked me up from the airport and helped me back to their place. Well, he had a scooter and I had a huge suitcase so riding with him was not realistic. He put me in a cab and sent me on my way.

Culture shock sort of set in after that, when the cabbie hinted that he didn't know where he was going and I was trying to speak mixed English, while giving incorrect sign language to him. That was how it was the rest of my time there, but thankfully I had Denise and JP with me from then on

The rest of the week we just ventured around Hsinchu, Taipei, and some places I can't even remember. lol. Went to a market, which was hard to take. Some of the food vendors had really bad smelling food, and they weren't the most appealing to look at either. But clothes and accessories are so cheap it's hard not to buy! We had a night out in Taipei, which was sooo much fun! We all dressed up in jungle attire, then went skating and out to a club. Another day went to a watering hole, and chilled out at some natural hot springs in a beautiful little town. The hot springs are actually the best hangover cure. The hot water feels so good!

All in all, Taiwan was such a great trip! I'm so happy I went, and I had the best time there! Thanks to Denise and JP for a place to stay and being my tour guides! :)

Taiwan beer on arrival. Was pretty good!

Scooting around Hsinchu, the most popular form of transportation.

Hsinchu City.

Sporting some Hsinchu fashion.

I love the lanterns!!!

Skating in my jungle attire!
The little asian girls seemed to like our outfits. lol

Partying at LUXY! Who wants a picture!?

Spending the day at the watering hole.

The Good People of Perth

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Christmas Day I was working at the restaurant (yay me! gah.) and obviously wasn't too excited about it. I was beyond homesick, and missing my family more than ever. Spending Christmas alone isn't exactly the greatest.

But luckily, I got to serve a really great family that had come to Melbourne for the holidays. First thing I learned about them was they lived in Perth, and second, they really liked the show How I Met Your Mother... because the two sons, both around my age, called me Robin all evening, and kept asking me random things about Canada. I also learned quite quickly that they liked to drink. A lot. Once I put their drinks on the table we all hit it off real well, and I ended up having a really good time with them....even when the Dad knocked a tray full of beers out of my hand and onto the people in the next table. hah! He said he was practicing his tennis swing. lol. Oops... By the end of the meal, they were inviting me to stay with them in Perth, and one of the sons, Kal, gave me his number. I said goodbye, Merry Christmas and didn't think of them much after that.

Kal and I, Christmas Day

Well, fast forward to February....I arrived in Adelaide, after my outback trek, and was debating where to go next. I didn't want to head back to Melbourne. So I thought "Alright, Perth it is...". Booked a flight, a room, and left the next day. The first day I toured the city, and it was so beautiful! It's sunny with blue skies almost every day of the year. And it stayed warm at night, which I liked because it reminded me of summers at home. I really loved it and am hoping I can return one day.

The next few days were a little rough though. Mother Nature was causing a real ruckus in north-eastern Australia, so lots of travelers were in Perth. And normally the west coast is quiet. So getting accommodation was horrible. At one point I was really struggling, because I had to find accommodation for the next night and everywhere was booked. Of course I had a little freak out, I went to call home, but instead found Kal's number. Completely forgot about it! But it worked out perfectly! I called him up and after some chitchat he invited me home for the weekend to see the family on their farm.

Well, I had no idea they lived in the middle of nowhere. They live about 3 1/2 hours outside the city, and about 20 minutes from the nearest town called Wagin. Where they live is called Kukerin,...population 190, dirt roads and farms, no neighbours for miles, and at night it's pitch black. Kal and I stayed at Josh's house (his brother), and we'd head to their parents for breakfast in the mornings. They have a sheep farm, so I helped herd sheep in the pick up truck, and they taught me all there is to know about the game cricket. Also learned some country drinking games at the local pub. After the weekend they offered me a place to stay in Perth. Kal goes to school in the city and they own a place, so they were gracious enough to let me stay until I figured out a plan. The deal was I had to clean the kitchen and keep tidy. Done!

Big farming community, specializing in sheep!

So I spent 2 weeks there. Relaxed by their pool, read some books, toured Freemantle, which has an amazing market, and got to know the family. Kal, Josh and I got along great. Went cliff jumping with some of their friends one day and had dinner together pretty much every night. haha. Their Dad, Colin, and I delivered pea straw around Perth one morning for peoples landscaping. That was actually quite fun! And the Mom, Ronnie, and I got along really well, chatting quite a bit like women tend to do.

Pea straw to be delivered.

My aussie parents, Col and Ronnie.

I like to call them my Australia family, because they took me in without question, and are absolutely the nicest people. I was so appreciative to them and I had such an amazing time being a part of their fun-loving family. Unfortunately a couple months after I arrived home from Australia, Josh had passed away. It was quite a shock because I had just been getting to know him, but also strange because I didn't know him for very long. Although, it was definitely sad to hear, I'm glad we had the chance to meet. I only hope for joy and happiness in the Joyce family's future, and I know Josh will be watching out for them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Been awhile...

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Over a year actually...and there have been lots of adventures that I have not filled you in on. Obviously I was in Australia, but never said much about it once I arrived...
It was definitely an awesome experience. Looking back now, it's very clear that I took the whole "lost on purpose" motto and ran with it! I wasn't sure what to expect and I didn't have much of a plan for my time I did have some challenges, but in the end I grew heaps from the whole trip and had an AMAZING time!

The first highlight of the trip was the Great Ocean Road. D, Jay, and I got a car, and headed south. It was a little cold but so worth it! The pictures don't do it justice, but there were amazing views and lots of wildlife. Perfect little holiday away. :)

After that, I got a job at a restaurant, The Wharf Hotel. Met some really nice people, and made a whole bunch of new friends. I also worked a weekend at the MMI Melbourne, and everyone there was so great as well.
And I am soo grateful to those who let me stay with them and even offered a bed or a couch. So appreciated, and very needed at times. So happy to have met such amazing people. And D and Jay, love you guys for letting me be the third wheel!

When I wasn't working I just ventured around Melbourne and St. Kilda. Loved St. Kilda beach and it's definitely one of my favourite places. Became a daily occurrence walking down there and soaking in the sun!

I also went to the outback on an 8 day excursion. Started in the desert , in Alice Springs, and made our way down the middle of Australia to Adelaide. Unbelievable! I had THE best time, and everyone I met was such fun. We all got along great, which is sort of rare on trips like those. But we all bonded quickly and it made for a great trip. The only downside, if you can even call it that, was the heat. It was hot. Really hot. Couldn't even get cold water from the tap or do some of the activities because the heat was so strong. I guess that's what I get for going in the middle of summer! But I had such a great time, that I didn't even care too much...