Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No more dead rat in the back!

Okay, so it only smelled like a dead rat - but for the record it was actually bad enough that I kept wondering if we might not find something back there. Alas, we did not, but we got rid of the carpet and the molding floor board over top of the gas tank (Chris very handily replaced it - and I put Hawaiian beach mats over top) and now we can actually sit in the back without dying! I'm very proud of us - mind you it does look a little hippy like for my personal liking...
Meaning...the car is finally good to go! And yes, we're still in Melbourne - new plan of attack is to leave here tomorrow - but we're so ready for it now - we have a mobile (I'm not trying to be pretencious, but that's what they call them here), the car is all spiffed up and we managed to do a little sightseeing in Melbourne (other than getting to know local television culture!) I have a picture of Chris in some Ned Kelly head armour that I just can't wait to get up here. Ned Kelly (for those of you who don't know the Australian legend, rent the new movie, it has Orlando Bloom and Heath Ledger's heaven...) was actually hanged in the gaol here - so we checked that out yesterday. Near the end I felt like I had seen enough, but I was happy to have gotten to see it - apparently one of the local universities has classes in one of the old cell blocks...a little creepy if you ask me! We also tried to check out the velodrome in the Vodaphone center, but it was all shut up for the night and when we inquired nextdoor, they weren't sure if it was even up at the moment - but regardless, the set-up they have is pretty cool. There are about 5 arenas all within a block - I can only imagine how cool the Commonwealth Games are going to be. Anyhoo - I'm off for a run (it's been rather cold and on and off raining all day, so we decided to delay the ride until later...I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to come back to Canada!!!) Laters.

Monday, September 26, 2005

On the road again....almost

So the money pit is finally roadworthy - doesn't look all that different, or feel all that different, but the charming lads at the stupid car garage have told us that the Falcon is now safe to be on the roads (never mind that 1000km I drove before I paid a million dollars to have the rear door open properly). As a result, our plan is to hit the pavement and start heading back north tomorrow...I feel that we have imposed ourselves on our most gracious guests a little too long now (especially now that Chris has so kindly passed on the death virus to Sandy and myself).
Consequently, the last few days have been full of sleep and cross stitch (I keep surprising Chris, first I helped Hanna with a little knitting now I'm cross stiching...I think he thinks I'm 70!) The footy game was super intense - came down to the final minute - I think we saw an epic match. Unfortunately my adopted team, the Eagles lost by 3 points....booo! But they definately rallied at the end - and footy has my props as an interesting sport...just in case you were concerned! We're now off to the mall to help make Berdt a wee bit prettier (had to pull out the mat in the back because we think something died in it) prior to our travels. So long!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sick for Footy

Based on the 100,000 fans who lined the streets to watch the Aussie rules players parade down the streets of downtown Melbourne yesterday - I think the country might be a little nuts over the game! Lawrence (family friend from Calgary, related to Sandy-super mom) continued in the spirit of great hosting by taking us downtown to his office yesterday to watch the parade. We were able to see everything from the first floor balcony - it was pretty cool. The truly phenomenal thing about the turnout however, is that there isn't even a Melbourne team playing - it's the West Coast Eagles (Perth) and Sydney Swans (both of who's mascots could be mistaken for chickens, but that's not nearly as magestic now is it?) The energy downtown was pretty amazing - I enjoyed it - Chris and I are planning on watching the game today, mind you we figure it'll be a whole lot of confusion - I let you know how it goes. It appears that Sydney has it's very own Todd Bertuzzi on it's hands. Their captain, Barry Hall, apparently hit someone in the last game, but the tribunal has allowed him to compete in the final - this is definatley a front page controversy!
Other than that, Sandy and I seem to have caught Chris' the energy around the house is pretty mellow. There is a great deal of sleeping and TV watching - but I figure it's the first down time I've had since boarding a plane in Calgary over 2 weeks ago - so it's all good :)
Earlier in the week we went to the Healesville Sanctuary which was really great! Kangaroos, wombats, koalas, tasmanian devils...and a thousand devil's school holidays, so we were fighting to see a few of the displays. There are a whole lot of marsupials - and to be honest, after awhile they all kinda blur together into a sea of cuteness - it was great. I also got to pet a kangaroo which was a little foreign (you aren't supposed to touch animals in the zoo!) but super cool.
So Berdt is in the shop getting roadified (I'm trying not to think about how much it's going to cost - but the shop guy seems to have backed off on the number of things he feels he needs to fix) and so we're chillin in the city for the weekend...the Grand Final weekend - I'm going out on a limb here and I'm going to cheer for the Eagles. I figure choosing the team from Perth - they must be the underdogs - and that's a good Canadian thing to do...
Oh right and I feel that it is my duty to inform those OC fans out there that Caleb Nicol used to be on Neighbours here in the land of Oz - weird eh?
Later folks!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Berdt's maiden voyage

So it's official - we now own a vehicle on Australian soil - so like any good Canadians, we decided to jump out on the open road and drive. I'm actually dedicating this part of our trip to Dan - as I feel that the amount of driving we are doing is rather Dan-like. For instance, Monday, after we purchased the car we decided to get back to the hostel as quickly as possible, head to the Olympic park and then get on out of Sydney as fast as possible. The Dan tribute starts with the fact that we made it back to the hostel using the force. We had maps that showed the different areas in Sydney, but nothing more useful - not to mention this was my first time driving on the left hand side of the road (as long as I discount the previous day's test drive where I think the car's previous owner Dan (also he who named the car) was likely praying that would pay for the car even if I crashed it), but regardless, we made it seemlessly back to the hostel. The Olympic park was neat in that the Olympics were there, but honestly, I wasn't overly impressed. The best part was a small fountain with bricks underneath it paying tribute to all the medal winners (I got my picture taken with Jan's!). Then we had to head out of Sydney - one of man's greatest suburban sprawls...and I'm from Calgary! I would like to point out at this time that prior to Sunday, we had been planning on heading up north of Sydney to find some warmth (I really didn't bring enough clothing to be where we are!), but instead we are now down in Melbourne (complicated story, but we had to come to Victoria to register the car as it's a Victorian car, and we wanted to come visit family friends - who are the BEST hosts in the world! and we're leaving our bike boxes here too) so yeah, instead we headed 180 degrees the other way. For those of us in Calgary, it would be like deciding to take a holiday in Vancouver, but heading to Winnipeg first (and you know you'd do it Dan if you thought there might be anything remotely interesting in Manitoba!!!). So we started out on the open road...out to test Berdt's skill (oh yeah, I'm not sure I'm spelling that right, in fact I'm almost 100% sure I'm not...but it's my car!)
So about 30 minutes into our drive we got a scare. Here's some more background - in Australia they have discovered a 3rd type of gas (petrol) that fuels cars: regular (leaded and unleaded), diesel AND LPG...well it turns out that Berdt can do both LPG and regular unleaded (I don't think I've specified unleaded since I was 5 years old but anyway...) and the kicker is that LPG is only 40 cents/litre instead of $1.30/l - so it's a score. So here we are trucking down the freeway and Berdt starts to disagrees with our plans. I would push the pedal and I would have a bit of resistance, then I was getting a little worried as we slowed down to 40km/h, but I kept my cool. I mentioned to Chris that it felt like something was wrong with the fuel pump - at which point he saved the day and suggested that we switch to the other sort of fuel - and presto we were on our way again. Now, I would like to point out just how embarrasing it would have been to call out roadside assistance only to have them point out that our problem is that we ran out of gas and that in actual fact we didn't run out of gas as there is half a tank of unleaded...I tell ya - oh and for the record, there is no gas gauge for the LPG - I'm not just stupid!
So yeah, all's well that ends well...and I would like to say that was Berdt's only idosyncrasy...but it's not. Only the right windsheild wiper works, there is trouble opening all of the doors (you have to physically lift them up), there is a bit of a raunchy smell in it (so we are going to febreeze it until it goes away), oh yeah, and it only starts when it wants to. Yesterday, we had to get jump started from the campsite and then push started from one of the gas station we're getting the garage to look into that one. But he purrs when he's happy (except for in 3rd where I think he is decidedly unhappy) and he fits 2 bike boxes and bags while leaving the rear window completely unobstructed, we're in Melbourne and he was only $700 - a bit of an adventure - but good times all the way. I'll add pictures when I'm able.
Anyways, I'm about to head out on a run. Chris is sleeping downstairs as he's really quite sick, but we have Sandy super mom helping to take care of him, and really with the amount of running around we've been doing, I think it's fair to take a day's rest! So I'm outtie!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Ford Falcon

Well it appears as if our short sojour in Sydney might be nearing an end...we made a purchase today - an '87 Ford Falcon - it's rather ugly, but it has a whole lot of room in the back and a dent from a kangaroo (that's right, for those of us in North America, I actually think it's a selling point) in the front. The guy we bought it from is heading home really quite soon and I feel that we might have taken him a little. He bought it 4 months ago for $2300, and we are taking it off his hands for $700...mind you, it's most definately a beater...I'm just crossing my fingers hoping that we didn't get taken for a ride. However, as a result, we have had a change of plans and are heading down to Melbourne, Victoria tomorrow - I can't wait to get out of a hostel. It's been fun, but I'm looking forward to roughing it a little more at a campsite and having a little more freedom. Not to mention, I really can't to start the physical activity up again, I'm feeling a little less than charming - mind you, Chris has caught a bit of a bug, so I am doing better than he is.
But we've been troopers with the sightseeing. Yesterday Alex very wonderfully volunteered her day and took us around - Bondi Beach, the Gap, a massive mall with 5 cell phone dealers on the floor we saw and Paddington Market...oh right and Campos coffee - which is supposed to be the best coffee in Sydney....Well I can tell you this much - I was shaking by the time I left the cafe from my cappucino - so it was good times all around.
Anyways, I'm not sure how much internet we'll have in the near future so I'll sign off - but I'll keep you as informed as I can!
Jen :)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tourist in Sydney

September 16, 2005 – I’m in Sydney baby!
Sydney, Australia (Billabong Gardens hostel)

Brought to you by Country Roads Fijian remix…cause it’s still in my head 24/7

So today may not have been the most beautiful day to be a tourist in Sydney – in fact it was pretty awful weather – felt like winter in Vancouver…and let’s be honest, I just don’t have the wardrobe for it to be like that! We started off from the hotel bright at early (think we are still a little jet lagged…oh yeah and everything seems to start early south of the equator) and headed out to find a neat café. We had an amazing breakfast complete with coffee as we were informed that coffee is one of the things they “do” here in Australia and were ready to attack the day! After Chris figured out how to order coffee (an Americano is a tall black – he had to choose between that, a short black and a flat white) we headed on down to see a few tourist attractions including the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and Darling Harbour.

We then started a search for a used car – a neat little adventure…not sure how much progress we’ve made but we did get our bartering debut in Nadi so I’m sure we’ll kick ass! This evening we’re going off to dinner with Alex and Rob (Chris’ roommate a few years back who moved back to Australia 2 years ago) again – it’s been great to see them and it makes the transition here seem really normal. In fact I have found Sydney to be a very welcoming and easy city to become established in. I’m fairly sure we won’t stay here as everyone we’ve spoken to has mentioned that the riding really isn’t very good, but Sydney really is a metropolitan city as it reminds me of Montreal and a few of the European cities I’ve visited. The strip we’re staying on is THE place for shopping and it’s pretty sweet – too bad I’m not making any cash at the mo’!
Anyways, I should get off the computer and rejoin the “real” world…more specifically it’s dinnertime – so until next time…cheerio mate. (needed to get the cheese factor in!)

Feejee Experience photos

Drinking up the Kava

My man Able telling us all about Fijian culture

Left: Chris and 3 adorable Fijian kids in the first town we visited
Right: Showing my little buddy the wonders of the digital camera

Our bus was an all terrain bus - I actually thought I might die at this particular point

Horses on the beach - does it get much more exotic?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's my Birthday - gonna party like it's my Fiji!!!

September 14, 2005 – Birthday in Fiji!!!
South Sea Island, Fiji

Brought to you by 50 cent and UB40 – together at last….Go Shorty, it’s your birthday, we gonna party like it’s your birthday…

BULA!!! The treat of a lifetime – sitting on a beautiful beach, not a cloud in the sky, sipping on the free wine from the bar (free if you don’t count the fact that we had to pay $95 a head to get out here…) and relaxing having received a set of beautiful silver hoop earings from my dream boy …and believe it or not, I need the break!!! Hee hee…hanging out here in Fiji has been tough, I’ll give you the short run down.

Chris and I boarded the jumbo 747 in LA at about 11:30 at night and I was prepared for an UGLY night of half sleep….luckily the plane was pretty empty and we each got a bench seat – a sleeping pill and a glass of wine later I was out for the count…best sleep I’ve ever had on a plane!!! So yeah, arriving in Fiji we were both far better rested than anticipated and besides waking up super early every day (which appeared to be the regular routine for everyone in the country anyways) the effects of jet lag were actually rather minimal. We spent the first day exploring the strip between our hotel and the airport on foot…at the time we didn’t realize that it went nowhere!

Day two had us out on a day cruise to Malamala island, a small uninhabited island about an hour boat ride away. The snorkelling was fabulous and we got to soak up a few rays while we were at it – definitely a good way to get it started prior to heading out on our 4 day excursion with Feejee Experience the next day.

We boarded a bright green bus the next morning to start a pretty phenomenal trip. During the route around the main island of Vitu Levu we visited two Fijian villages (in one there were 8 month old puppies….SOOO cute!), played volleyball on the beach, bartered our way to some mean deals (or so I was lead to believe), participated in a kava ceremony (everyone wants to drink muddy water that makes your mouth numb – it’s great!), sand boarded on a sand dune, did a 3 hour trek through rain forest (1/3 of which was through a stream), went out on the town to an authentic Irish Fijian pub, swam at a waterfall, tubed down a river, raced river rafts, eat Indian curry, bathed in natural hot springs (on the hottest day we were in Fiji), ate sugarcane, were almost killed multiple times as we tripped on the world’s first off road bus – all the time being thoroughly educated about Fijian culture by super knowledgeable and great guides. It was an amazing experience – super people, learning and sun (except when there was rain in Suva, but I’m brushing over that)…just enough to get me intrigued to go back again. We wished we had had a few more days in Fiji so that we could have stayed and help teach English in one of the towns as two of the girls on our trip did – much to my surprise (why it was surprising I’m not entirely sure, but it was) Fiji is still very much a developing nation and for the first time in my life I truly understood what made people want to participate in international aid.

Which brings me to the beach on my birthday. I still have wonderful Fijian music rolling around my brain – think In Da Club remixed with the refrain from Red Red Wine by UB40 – classic! Or perhaps a remix of Country Roads…I think we must have listened to the same CD 9 or 10 times in 4 days – it was AWESOME… I’m a little disappointed to be leaving Fiji, but at the same time Australia awaits and I’ve been wanting to go there since I was a little girlie – almost as long as I’ve wanted to see the Backstreet Boys in concert!!!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

In Transit - it's about to begin!!!

September 6, 2005—Off Off and Away
LAX—in transit

Brought to you by the Backstreet Boys’ Get Down—a trip down memory lane as I start a new life chapter

So the adventure has begun. Mom and Dad started off the morning bright and early seeing Becca off to China—she definitely wins for the more exotic of our trips! :P We were both still influenced under the bliss that was the Backstreet Boys concert last night—fantastic for the record—I love them ALL over again...especially AJ—drug addiction or no! So today’s post comes to you courtesy of the BSB—both old and new (following the fashion of the concert, did I mention that they finished up with Backstreet’s Back...which some of you might remember the wonderful zombie-like dance...yeah baby!) In short, nothing but rave reviews!

So yeah, while I got to sleep in a wee bit (if you can call what I did last night sleep...lots of semi-awake time, luckily I had the boys to serenade me!) and headed off to the airport with Doug mid-morning. Departure from Calgary was relatively uneventful, save the fact that I was rushed right the way through due to some timing miscalculations (I wanted to hang out with my Momma and Daddy!) but here I am in LA—found a plug in...yet to see if I shall be lucky enough to procure wireless internet.

On a similar vein of thought, while flying into LA, it struck me that while the O.C. (or at least the set that keeps me coming back every Thursday….which reminds me that I’m going to miss the beginning of the 3rd, so yeah while the O.C. is absolutely gorgeous—inner city LA is a whole heck of a lot of concrete...I felt that I should take a picture to illustrate my point: (I've put pictures on my site - but I'm having difficulty figuring out how to post them here...)

As for the new blog—I understand that it is a wee bit presumptuous that you think I am exciting enough to track down what I’m doing on a website—but I figure that it’s less invasive than boring emails that you feel mildly bad about not reading (and consequently become irritated by the fact that I even sent it). But I do assume that enough of my friends have boring jobs where they try to kill time and reading this is a good waste of it—so hopefully I can prove to be at least moderately amusing and interesting.
So here I go—off on an exciting adventure—and most importantly, I can’t get ready anymore...cause I’m here! Chris will be joining me in a few hours and then we are on our way to Fiji at 11:30pm—yippee!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Getting ready to head out

I'm just trying to see if this works - does it work?