Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

To many, you have been a bloody terrible year. With the loss of so many famous icons, Harambe being shot and Trump becoming President, it’s not hard to see why you, 2016 will be one to forget. However, let’s look at the positives, giant pandas and tigers are no longer endangered, Leo won his first Oscar and us Brits dominated the Olympics. There is ALWAYS good to out way the bad.

I always read the quote ‘what’s meant to be will be’ and this year this has proved to be true. Wherever I went in the world, whatever friends I made and the struggles I have faced have put me where I am today. No, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m getting there.

This year has been a year of acceptance. Of course we all want the ‘Love Actually’ moment where the man we love stands on our doorstep telling us how perfect we are, but unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. 2016 has made me realise that we have to live in the NOW. Nothing can be forced, whether it be your job, friendship or relationship, everything will slowly fall into place and suddenly everything will make sense. All the time we sit around, moping that life isn’t how we want it, we are forgetting to live. We only get one life so why not go out and do something about it.

2016 has been a year of self growth. Travelling to the other side of the world alone was an incredible start to the year and if meeting people from all walks of life doesn’t make you learn a lot about yourself then I don’t know what will. Doing a job that was completely outside of my comfort zone made me realise what I actually wanted from life, and without that experience, I wouldn’t be doing a job that I love now. This justifies the point that everything will eventually make sense. You just have to struggle a little to appreciate the good things in life.

This year I have learnt that being sociable can actually be… fun? I’ve met people who I know will be friends for life, they’ve got me through so much, not by saying much, but just by being there and for me that’s the biggest challenge a friendship will face. Who is there in your time of need and who will you go to the ends of the earth for? People have made a huge impact on my 2016, whether I actually spoke to them or not, for the majority of the year I have immersed myself in enjoying being around people and taking in all the quirks which would usually annoy me.

So overall, 2016 has been one of the best and one of the worst. Overcoming emotions I’ve never dealt with before, understanding that sometimes things just don’t work out how you want them to and working in a job that I hated made 2016 not the best. But watching the sunset over Sydney opera house, meeting a group of people who have made my year the best and my insane family make my world a happy place.

So thanks 2016, hears to the next 365 days.

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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

After camping at the Grand Canyon, we all couldn’t wait to get to our hotel and have proper beds and showers! When we arrived in Vegas we drove down the strip and it honestly is mind blowing. Everything you could possibly want is on the strip and there’s so much to take it. Having only one day to explore is definitely not enough, I could have spend a week looking in the shopping centres and people watching!

We were all doing the party bus in the evening, so we headed off for dinner and tried to make ourselves look pretty after being slobs for 2 days.

The party bus was INCREDIBLE. I was expecting a small van with maybe a few lights but nope! It was a full size coach, leather settees and 2 stripper poles included. We stopped at the Welcome to Vegas sign, went to a light show and watched some live music. We got attacked by a man dressed as a goat, was in someone’s live stream and got called the most intoxicated group in Vegas! We then went to the Bellagio to watch the water fountains and tried to get all us under 21s into what ever club we could… Let’s just say it wasn’t a success! We eventually found a country bar and headed of for some karaoke. If you’re single, head to Vegas, believe me… The men are desperate!

The next day we were all shattered but walked along the strip. We did some shopping, walked about 6 miles and planned to go to a show called Aussie Hunks.

We arrived at the show and I couldn’t stop cringing. The women were dressed in as little clothing as possible and got so excited at the sight of one of the men. Think the 4 of us were the only normal girls at the show! The show itself was hilarious but I’m not going to lie, they wasn’t much to look at, only one was good looking! It’s so annoying, I go to Australia and don’t meet an Aussie boy, but I come to Vegas and see a hot Aussie stripper… Life’s not fair. They even had their own currency, you could buy ‘Hump Bucks’ and couldn’t use your own money!

The next morning we had to say goodbye to the fourth member of the group and we became a trio again. (Hey Sarah)

Our next stop is Yosemite!!

BYE XXXXXX

The Grand Canyon.

After a full day of driving we arrived at the Grand Canyon. Before setting up camp, we’d been asked to draw a picture on a brown paper bag and we were all wondering what they were for… We stopped, got told to put the bags over our heads and follow the leader. On the count of 3 we all lifted the bags off our heads and I can’t even explain what we saw. In front of us was an incredible view of the Grand Canyon. Some people cried because it was so beautiful, others were just in complete shock but this view is something that everyone should see! It’s so still it looks like a picture and it’s honestly breath taking.

We watched the sunset which was a surreal experience… Sunset at the Grand Canyon, got pizza and headed back to camp. We sat around the camp fire and played some games which drove everyone mad, and got in to our freezing tents. The temperature in the night was 0 degrees so we were all frozen! Despite wearing 6 layers, it was impossible to get warm and actually get to sleep. The next night we dreaded going to bed because we all knew how cold it would be!

We had the option to get up at 5 am to watch the sunrise and of course, we couldn’t say no. We rolled out of bed, taking our sleeping bags with us, and watched the incredible sunrise at the Grand Canyon. Even though it was early and absolutely freezing, what we saw was amazing! I stayed at the top where it was safe, but some crazy people climbed down the side and watched from different view points. It looked like it would have been incredible but I was happier being safe!!!

We also did the helicopter ride which was one of the best things I’ve ever don. Again, this was a view that everyone should see. It’s amazing to see how huge the canyon is, we flew for 60 minutes and didn’t even cover half of it. The Colorado river was something special. It was the bluest water I’ve ever seen, changing colour as we went past. We could see some rafting boats pulled up on the side, and even though they were the size of the helicopter, from where we were they looked like ants! Our pilot said he hoped none of us were afraid of heights, and then suddenly, the ground went from below us. All we could see for miles was the canyon and we all screamed! This was something that I’ll remember forever.

The rest of the day was completely free and we decided to do a hike into the canyon. It was a really steep walk, with nothing to stop you falling over the edge, getting down wasn’t too bad, coming up however, was a different story! We stopped at a place called the ‘oh, ahh’ point and fortunately for us, we couldn’t go any further for safety reasons! We saw people running up and down, parents carrying babies on their backs and unfortunately for us, a whole groups of girls from an all girls school. We made it back to the top and went back to camp only to discover that our tent had been invaded by squirrels! They’d bitten their way through the tent and stole my chocolate peanuts! We found squirrel poo and had to evacuate the tent. We all slept with one eye open that night incase they came back! We’d been worried we’d be harassed by the Elk, but instead it was small innocent squirrels!

We left the Grand Canyon full of excitement and amazement and headed to VEGAS!!!!

BYE XXXXX

Heading to the west.

Today was our longest driving day of the whole trip and we headed to Scottsdale. It’s the most westerly point of Ameria and it was exactly how I expected. It’s literally how you see towns in wild Western films and all the streets are lit up with fairy lights. We didn’t meet a real cowboy though which I’m gutted about. Seeing as there were no Aussie surfers that met my expectations, I considered a cowboy but nope…

The whole day was spent on the bus but we did make a stop at the Imperial Sand Dunes which were amazing. We did a mini photo shoot and tried not to fall down the slopes. All we could see for miles was sand dunes with only one road going through them.

We we arrived at our hotel and omg it was incredible! WHITE LINEN SHEETS!! After grotty hostels, having a freshly made bed was a luxury. There were mini toiletries, a hair dryer that actually worked and a coffee machine… It’s the simple things that make me happy now! We all headed to the pool before going to get ready for a night out.

We went to a Mexican restaurant and then headed into town. Today’s surprise was that our transportation was golf buggies! It was a really cool way to see Scottsdale in the evening.

Everyone started off by being shy and quiet but a few Johnny Cash songs in, everyone was getting into it. There were only 6 of us left by the end of the evening (shoutout to Mike from Maine) and we took over the dance floor and attempted some cowboy dancing. We were terrible but it was hilarious. It’s just the build up to the party bus in Vegas!!

We got back to the hotel and the party followed us… The Bird Shit dance is the move of this trip and eventually we all passed out…

We’re now sat on a bus to the Grand Canyon, hungover and still jet lagged!!

BYE XXXXX

 

 

San Diego.

It’s safe to say I had the best night sleep ever. I had a double bed, a luxury that I’ve missed so bad for the last 6 weeks and dominoes was delivered straight to our door. I was so lucky with who I was paired with on the first night… We’ve already had the poo and fart chat so  we’re basically meant to be best friends.

We headed to San Diego and stopped at Mission Beach. I didn’t have any expectations of San Diego but I loved it. The weather was a lot better than LA and the beach was nice to sunbathe and chill. We headed to lunch and I tried not to sulk at the fact that I couldn’t have any alcohol but by this point the group had been formed and we all started to get to know each other.

We all went on the wooden roller coaster which was lot more dramatic than we all thought. I genuinely thought my head was going to fall off at one point and looked around the shops, where we all bought the tacky t shirts and souvenirs.

One thing I noticed about San Diego was the size of the ice creams. They’re basically a whole meal with basically anything you can think of on top of it and actually come with a bowl because you can’t physically carry it…

I also had my first experience of target which to be honest, I was so tired I have no clue what I did or what I got…( Jet lag has been horrible. ) But I imagine I enjoyed it…?!?

It was our first night camping so we all learnt to set up the tents and tried to adjust to the outdoor life style. I bought a sleeping bag that’s as thin as a piece of paper so I was bloody freezing! We got the dinner cooking and the fire set up and all sat round having a few drinks and properly getting to know each other. It was my groups job to do the washing up, not going to lie, we did an amazing job!

Sleeping was actually ok, we were all so tired that it didn’t matter where we were! I was so bloody cold though.

Breakfast was so good. I had my first bit of butter and jam in 6 weeks and could have cried from happiness.

Our next stop is Scottsdale!

BYE XXXXX

LA BABY!

Today I completed my second to last flight of this whole trip and I couldn’t be happier! Being on a plane for 13 hours definitely kills a positive attitude… I’d watched 3 films and still had 6 hours to go and that’s when I started to lose my cool. La is 19 hours behind Sydney so when I felt like it was night time, it was actually 6:30am and I had a whole day ahead of me.

My hotel is on Sunset Blvd, and I didn’t realise how close it was to the Hollywood sign. I was wandering around and suddenly it was in front of me! It’s as good seeing it in real life as it is looking at it in photos. It’s quite easy to get a good view but not so easy to get close! The closer you get the harder it is to get a good photo, so it’s a much better view from afar.

I stopped at the Walk of Fame and it wasn’t what I expected at all. There was hardly any glitz and glamour and the stars aren’t really that cool, it turns out that the celebs pay $30,000 to have a star on the Walk of Fame! It was a very touristy area, with loads of souvenir shops and tacky places to go. It was cool to say I’ve been there, but I can’t say I’ll be rushing back anytime soon!

I felt like I had to do the celeb house tour and well… How the other half live! We saw Leonardo Dicaprio’s house, Miley Cyrus’, Bruno Mars! And Johnny Depps, who was actually inside! Some of the houses in Beverly Hills are about $15,000,000!! And some are millions of dollars for only a 2 bedroom house. The houses were pretty impressive but lots are made purely to look good. They’re not used as homes, they are just to put on a show. Around the Beverly Hills area there really isn’t much to do. There are bus stops purely for the people who work for the celebs and security guards on each of the gates. In the Bel Air area, if a person approaches a front door, there’s an automatic $3000 fine! So you’re basically not able to get out of your car the whole way around.

I was so excited to see Rodeo Drive. Being the shopaholic that I am, I thought all my dreams were going to come true and would feel like I was in heaven… But nah. It’s full of tourists who can’t afford to buy anything and it’s only the odd person carrying a small bag. There’s loads of designer shops- Gucci, Celine, Cartier and jewellers where the celebs get their jewellery for big awards shows, but honestly, you wouldn’t think it was one of the most famous streets in the world! I’m glad I’ve seen it, but luckily for me and my credit card, I won’t be tempted to make a return trip!

Overall, Los Angeles has been completely different to what I expected, but in a good way I think. When I’m back at the end of the tour im going to hopefully explore Santa Monica and Venice Beach so maybe that’ll be more like the LA I was expecting!

The whole group just met to discuss the next 2 weeks and I can’t wait for the tour to actually start! We’re off to San Diego tomorrow and it’s our first night camping!!

2 weeks till home!

BYE XXXXX

Kia Ora!

New Zealand is so bloody cold. I’ve got 2 hoodies and a rain jacket on and am still like an ice block. Considering I’ve been used to 36 degree heat, 14 degree heat is a bit of a shock to the system….

It is however, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I’m surrounded by mountains and just by climbing a hill, you can see for miles. Considering I booked this only a matter of days ago, I had no plans and no knowledge of what to do here… I went to a travel agents and ended up winning a bet and getting a free cuppa…long story!

Everything seems really expensive, and considering I’m nearing the end of my trip, I’m trying to be VERY careful! As Queenstown is known for its adrenaline activities, I felt like I needed to do something. I’m not the kinda person who will jump out of a plane or bungee jump so I decided to do another speed boat! It was nowhere near as good as Sydney but the drive to the river was worth it. We drove along narrow roads and went round tight bends. I was scared for my life. I made friend with a dog and the guy who drove the boat but for me, the boat didn’t go fast enough! Everyone else got off the boat saying how fast it was, and how amazing it was, and I was like ‘huh!’ They obviously haven’t been on a jet ski with me!

I also went up in a gondola and almost pooed myself… I was so scared and all by myself going to the top of this huge bloody mountain. It’s basically like a ski lift but almost vertical. The views from the top made it worth it though and there are loads of walks you could do right to the top of the mountains. It was quite a cloudy day but the visibility was still pretty good. Coming down on the gondola was worse, people we laughing at me as they passed so I can only imagine what my face looked like!

As its so cold I’m going to treat myself with a trip to the cinema tomorrow and then heading to Milford Sounds which is considered the eighth wonder of the world.

I’m not going to lie, the hostel is horrible. Anyone coming to Queenstown, don’t stay at Base! I can’t sit up in my bed and there is only 3 plug sockets for 8 girls! The girls are also snotty little rich kids and I honestly can’t stand them for much longer! They thought it was ok to start packing their bags at 4 am this morning… Safe to say I’m loosing my cool!!

This time next week I’ll be in Los Angeles and this time in 3 weeks I’ll be HOME!!!!

Bye xxxxxx

Sydney.

I met up with the girls and it was so nice to have some female company! After not having anyone to bitch to for the last month it was nice to be able to unload and gossip! We went to the aquarium, which to be honest was a load of rubbish… The sea life centre at the seafront is just as good and then headed out for lunch, eating a proper meal was amazing! Something other than pizza!

We also headed to Manly beach but the weather was absolutely awful! We took the ferry over and I can imagine that on a nice day, Manly would be lovely, there were lots of bars and restaurants and the beach was pretty cool. The view of the opera house and harbour bridge on the way home was insane. It had just got dark so everything with lit up. It’s moment like these that make the trip…

Bondi beach called again, and I couldn’t help but go! It was a much nicer day and I did the same walk. It’s amazing how different it was in the sun! The waves were insanely strong, I only paddled my feet but still almost got knocked over. As a fan of the program Bondi Rescue, I was beside myself with excitement to see 2 of the lifeguards from the show. Unfortunately they wasn’t the young, extremely hot ones, they were the old, slightly greying, fatter ones… But still, it’s my claim to fame! Apparently the new Baywatch with Zac Efron is being filmed around Bondi, I did my best strut up the beach in my bikini, but unfortunately, no Zac Efron was insight.

Today I was back to being on my own. I feel like I’ve seen so much of Sydney already, I wasn’t sure what to do. I decided to walk to Mrs Macquarie’s point which is a look out for the opera house. The weather was beautiful and I walked through the Botanical Gardens which are so lovely. They are such a nice place to go and read a book and just chill out. You feel so far from the busy city, it’s hard to believe that it’s only a short walk away.

I’d walked past the speed boat stands so many times at Circular Quay, but never took much notice. But today I was getting bored, and what better way to cure boredom than getting on a speedboat with views of the Opera House and the harbour bridge! It was insane! I’d seen people get of absolutely soaking even though they had massive rain jackets on and thought they were stupid… How wrong was I? My rain jacket came to my ankles yet somehow I looked like if had a shower. We saw so much of Sydney and the surrounding areas and I’m so glad I did it!!

I’ve got one more day left in Oz before heading to New Zealand!!

BYE XXXXX

Bye Australia!

Trying to sum up the last 5 weeks seems impossible. The people I’ve met, places I’ve seen, things I’ve done, nothing seems real! The last 5 weeks have gone so fast and I feel like I’ve gone through every emotion… Happiness, sadness, heartbreak. It feels like I’ve been living in a bubble and when that bubble bursts its not pretty. I’m excited to go to New Zealand, but part of me wants to hold on to Australia, and not let these memories go. Each place holds a different feeling and I can remember exactly how I felt, every building I walk past has some significance to the people I’ve met.

Australia was the start of this journey and now I’m leaving. It’s been the place that I’ve learnt so much and somehow managed to deal with it all, all by myself. It’s strange to think that the people I’ve met will probably not remember my name when it comes to them going home, and most probably, I won’t remember theirs! Some have made more of an impact than others and they are the ones that I’ll tell people about.

At the beginning of the trip, I hated hostels with a passion. Sharing rooms and bathrooms, not having your own space, SNORERS! But now I think I’m going to struggle with having to sleep in my own room, without the sound of other people sleeping, no sound of air con! It’s been interesting to hear people talk in their sleep. I don’t even want to know if I’ve snored or spoken in my sleep…

Australia itself has been beautiful and the places I’ve seen have been mind blowing. Every place has been so different, and each day I’ve seen something new. Sydney has been my favourite by far, it’s like a home away from home… Only with hotter weather!

The weather has confused me though… It’s so temperamental. One minute it’s bright sunshine, then the next it’s chucking it down! You can be sunbathing on the beach with a clear sky, then 5 minutes later you have to run for shelter. It’s made it exciting though, and to be honest, the remember the days when it was pouring more than the days when there was a clear sky.

I feel like I’m leaving a part of myself here. I hope in years to come I still remember Australia as I do now and tell my kids and grandkids all about the people I met who made this experience simply amazing.

So cheers Australia, you’ve been pretty good.

See you in New Zealand!

Xxxxxx

First few days in Sydney.

Basically, I love Sydney. On my first day here I was worried it wasn’t going to be as good as I hoped, but the sight of the Opera House instantly confirmed it was going to be amazing.

I spent the next day feeling very sorry for myself, I’d had 2 hours sleep, was hungover and basically, timing is a bitch. I wanted to make the best of my time in Sydney so I decided to do the touristy thing and get on the hop on, hop off bus. It does 2 routes, one that goes to Bondi and one that goes around the city.

I made it to Bondi and for whatever reason did the Bondi to Coogee walk, a 6 mile round trip. The views were incredible and the walk itself wasn’t too bad. Every other person was running and I don’t quite no what would possess a person to do that…
The weather was pretty dull so Bondi wasn’t that busy. It was quite nice to see it in a different light to how it’s oftener portrayed- with umbrellas and selfie sticks!

I also did the route around the centre. Although I’d walked through most of it, it was interesting to hear the facts about each stop and it was an easy way to see lots more than you would on foot.

After finding dominoes by my hostel the night before, I had yet another pizza for dinner (and breakfast the next day). The new guy in the room snored so loud and spoke in his sleep. I think he was trying to beat someone up at some point… Safe to say I stayed clear of him!!

BYE XXXX