Sunday, October 9, 2011

Windy Welly and Frisco

For the final part of my adventure, I went to Wellington in New Zealand, followed by San Francisco before the long (mental) journey home. Wellington was quickly christened Windy Welly and it was definitely felt by yours truly, who was used to the desert heat of Darwin! But shivering aside, I took to the city instantly. It's a small place and easy to get around and there is a nice laid back vibe to it. It has a bit of an alternative flavour to it, and one of my favourite things to do was to people watch in Cuba Street among the cafes and quirky shops there. I got to NZ at the start of the rugby world cup and went to New Plymouth to watch the first Irish game. My mode of transport/accommodation waaas....a camper van! But this was by no means slumming it, no siree. This was a luxury camper van, complete with a mini kitchen and shower n'all n'annyways. Although we avoided using the toilet when we learned that we would be cleaning the, errrrrr, contents. Fail. The match was great but the atmosphere better, and being among a heap of celebratory paddies was a great way to end my too-short visit to New Zealand.

My next stop was San Francisco, a place that I would recommend anyone going to should they get half the chance. It's Californian without being pretentious, and the city is beautiful. There is so much to see - Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, the Redwood forests are an hour away as too are the wine regions. After taking a trip to Soma Valley and spending the day wine tasting (hic) I now know that I don't dislike Chardonnay as I had previously thought, just the cheap stuff. In case it's your round. Just spending time walking around the city is great but bring the walking shoes! Some hills are so steep you're practically horizontal walking down or up them.Don't attempt post-wine tasting. I would go back there in a heartbeat.

After that, the next stop was home. Home is the same, but I feel different. I don't know how I can't quite place my finger on it. It's lovely being back and seeing everyone and everything I missed so much. I missed my friends and family of course, but I missed the little things too, the unexpected things, and it's nice to walk the streets of my city again. I feel back in a welcome cocoon of the familiar, and for the next few weeks while I'm re-adjusting I'm happy to hibernate and just be for a while. No plans. Kinda scary in one way but if I've learned anything in the past year it's this; just roll with it. So I'm rolling with it. But something tells me that travel bug hasn't finished biting just yet...XXX

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


And so as a 2011 goodbye to Oz (I'll be back!) I went on a trip to Uluru, in the middle of the red centre of Oz. It. Was. Amazing. I just loved it. A lot of people (Australians mainly) shrug when you mention Ayers Rock but to me it was worth the trip. The trip is a story in itself, as we decided to drive down from Darwin, which took approximately 22 hours. We left about 2am with the intention of catching the native wildlife when they were awake, and yes there was plenty of wildlife! Wallabies, cows, buffalos, dingos, eagles, snakes, big red kangeroos that give you the evil eye as you slowly pass, and my personal favourite surprise - camels! At parts the drive can be quite dangerous as most of these animals can do considerable damage to your car if there is a collision - you're put of road as they lollop or bound away unharmed. It was brilliant to see 'the real' Australia as its hard to understand the sheer vastness of the country until you see it. When we were driving all you could see was miles of uninterupted outback, with the red soil and dry smell you knew you were far from home Toto.

The rock itself is, yes, a giant rock in the middle of the desert. But how? And why? And how cooool it is... it's very, very big when you get up close and personal, with lots of detail such as caves, watermarks and drawings that are tens of thousands of years old. While you can climb to the top if you want to, the Aboriginal people ask that you don't. There were plenty of people climbing when I was there but I really felt that it was a spiritual place and basically...don't mess with it! Not to be disrespectful and just to enjoy it as it is. Besides, the view from the top was what I had seen for the previous days travel anyway!

We managed the drive back home to Darwin uncrashed as well...actually I lie. A little birdie decided to kamikaze into our windscreen and unfortunately he went straight to birdie heaven. Or should that be fortunately? Anyway if that was our only casuality then we came off lucky. The next few days are going to be spent getting ready to go on the move again and to say goodbyes, which is always hard to do. The past few weeks I've really felt so happy here it's going to be tough to move on, but the travellers bug has bitten me well and truely so let's continue on with the adventure. Until we meet again Oz!!   xxx

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Top End

The 'top end' has greeted me with some much welcome sunshine and warmth back in the bones. But we're not in Kansas anymore Toto! Darwin is completely different to Sydney, which after all was the entire point of coming up here. While not quite having only one main street, it is a big town rather than a city. Although it's winter the average temperature is in the late 20s. The native Darwin(ians?) are shivering though, and assuring me it's their coldest winter in years! I don't think I could handle their summer if this is their cold version of winter! The town has some gorgeous waterfront areas, and I am pleased to say I have found a humble abode overlooking one of them. The nearest beach is Mindil beach, and for the dry season it hosts a night Market every Thursday and Sunday night. The night markets have stalls selling clothes and jewellery, but mainly the stalls are filled with lots of different kinds of food that it would be just rude not to try.

The people here are extremely laid back and no one is in a rush. Although finding an Aussie through the hords of backpackers is no mean feat! It's wintertime in Oz, and anyone who wants to stay in the sun all head north at this time of year. It actually reminds me of when I went to college in Maynooth- stick with me here! Because there are so many people up here everyone has jobs in pubs, cafes, that kind of work. Everyone lives in party houses, and the main form of entertainment is drinking. Ok the weather isn't the same but the similarities have struck me!

Having only managed to get 3 shifts a week in a local cafe my aim for the next few days is to find another job, see more of Darwin, and to work on my very non existent tan. Seriously, whiter than when I left. The problems I have to deal with...

C x

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So Long Sydney!

At this point, I feel at home in Sydney. I have managed to get lost in the city and find my way back again. I know where is good for shopping, food, drinks and how you can get there (for the most part!). I feel a part of the city and not just visiting it. It's starting to feel like home...just as I'm leaving!

I'm heading up north to sunny Darwin in 4 days time - whenever I mention this to any Australians they adopt a look of horror or at best a face that says 'why?!' which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence! I suppose for a girl that has fallen in love with the city of Sydney, Darwin is a strange choice. It's completely different - small town. Its sunny and tropical, and according to my sources there is one main street and everyone knows everyone. To make it more nerve wrecking, I'm doing it alone. Myself and TC are seperating for a few months, and meeting back in Melbourne in September. Until then, its just me and Darwin! My friend Sue is up there for a few weeks now, and she assures me I'll love it. Now, just a small matter of finding a job and somewhere to live. Haven't I been here before?!

I've booked myself into a hostel for a week. A hostel. By myself. On my own. In a hostel. With no TC. Did I mention I was on my own? In a hostel? No that I care of course. I looooooove hostels. Oh yes I do. Oh YES I do (work with me here). What I actually am looking forward to is seeing more of the countryside, more of the real Oz. I'll also be in a much better place to go visit the national parks, swin with sharks (!) and see Uluru, which is top of the must-see list. I didn't want to get stuck in a rut so taking the leap.Wish me luck!

For our last weekend in Sydney, we went to see the Blue Mountains. Which are really the not-blue-hills, but breathtaking nonetheless! Very beautiful, and definately worth the trip. I also visited family whom I haven't seen in years and had one of the best nights with them since I've gotten to Oz. Makes a girl not want to leave! But the itchy feet are bringing me North. So for my final few days here, I'm drinking in all of my Sydney, unsure of when I'll see it again. The walk to work in the mornings bring me down Martin's Place, with all the swish designer stores. Ducking through my shortcut through Wynard station, I hold my nose against what I've dubbed 'fish corner' where the smell of sushi that early in the morning knocks me sideways! The best busker I've ever heard always makes me smile just at the last corner in the station. And this is just my trip to work! Trying to keep all the sights and sounds safely locked in my memory. Sydney, I salute you.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A sneaky peeky of Melbourne

Them sneaky Aussies managed to have 5 days off over the Easter weekend (hooray!) and so I took myself off down to visit Melbourne. A friend of mine who left for the Big Oz Adventure nearly 2 years ago lives down there and so there was major catch-ups to be had. What a weekend! She lives in St. Kilda, which is a suburb by the sea. It is also where all the paddys flock and you know, it actually opened my eyes up a bit! Yes, myself and tc didn't want to do the exact same as everyone, and yes, we didn't just want to hang out with Irish people buuuuut it has to be said it was a lot of fun. All of a sudden I went from quite an isolated space to one filled with people! My friend Sue knew such a community of people from living and working with people in the same boat as her. And not a lonely moment was had. Simply no time or space for such nonsense! So it did open my eyes up to why people do flock together...and also did my liver some considerable damage...

The feel I got for Melbourne in my short time is that it is a much smaller city than Sydney, a bit more personable and friendly but not with quite the same buzz. Kind of like Sydney's younger hipster sister to Sydney's glamourous older one. Does that make sense or do I just miss fashion magazines a little bit too much? (Yes, I know they have fashions mags in Oz, you knowharraImean). I'm looking forward to spending more time there and getting to know the city a good bit better.

Back in Sydney, it managed to stop raining last Sunday for us to take a trip into the Chinese gardens in the city. If you're ever in Sydney DO IT! For the simple reason that you get to hire Imperial Chinese costumes and get to arse about the gardens pretending you're in a Kung Fu film...Or appreciating the tranquil gardens peacefully, like you're supposed to. Whatever floats your boat. Unfortunately, it started to rain again that night and hasn't stopped since. Did you know it rained in Sydney?! Next weekend I'm going to a one day course than enables me to serve alcohol over here. I figure I could rock being a barmaid if the need arose. Now, has anyone seen my Bet Lynch cardigan? X

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Same Shhh Different City

The past few weeks myself and tc have been settling in to our new place, on Moore St (!) in Coogee. It's very nice to have somewhere to call home, even if it doesn't quite feel like it yet. Still haven't figured out our housemate yet. Very shy, very awkward, very unsocialable or just hates us... Possibly a mixture of all of the above! Office job in the city is a little more hardcore than anticipated. Not that the job is difficult, just long hours and pressurised. I get up early, it could be a little chilly or even raining, go on the bus, spend all day in the office and come back home again in the dark, too tired to do much. Sound familiar...? Working in the bakery on Saturdays as well has me wondering have I done this the right way? Although a friend back at home asked incredulously "what were you expecting?!" Er. Not sure. Fun? Adventure? Something I wouldn't be doing in Dublin? Not that I mind working long hours for a job that would be a career move. Or fun. Negatory on both however... Hmmmm.

What is different though is activities on my day off. Snorkelling anyone? Don't mind if I do! My love affair with all things Sydney is still going strong. It's as if the city has found the right balance between being cosmopolitan without being anonymous, energy without being frantic and there is something for everyone without being knobbish. Sorry, pretentious. Sydney, you have a fan. Cx

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome to Coogee

Ok, ok, I know. It's been a while. A few weeks in fact... but! Cut me a break. I was busy doing things to tell you about. So here goes;
Both tc and myself have employment! Wahey! TC is working in a shopping centre in Bondi Junction, and within 3 days has managed to climb the (shoe) ladder to assistant manager. I have gone from no job panic to having 2 jobs - not too shabby if I say so myself! The first job is a 2 month contract job in Sydney city. Yes, in an office, and yes, requires commuting. However, until that starts (on 1st April...I'm wondering does the job exist?!) I am working in a bakery for a few weeks. Yes that's right kids, I am spending my long day surrounded by cakes that just squeal 'eat me please' all day long! It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. Actually, it is a tough job but have met some very interesting characters along the way. More on that one later...
After a few midly panicked weeks we have found ourselves a lovely apartment in Coogee beach, one of the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. We are due to move in next week, and although our hostel is fine I'm really looking forward to having our own place to relax and unpack for a while. I didn't realise just how much not having a home can affect your mood/experience/people skills. Coogee is a lovely place that has already started to feel like home. It's right beside the beach, and yet half an hour on the bus to the centre of Sydney. Poifect. While the alarm clock still rings the sunny view helps lift my arse out of the bed quicker than a grey Irish sky. Although- got caught in TORRENTIAL rain last Monday three times. Surely it doesn't rain in Oz?!
Hitting the town again next Saturday to check out the Sydney nightlife. After a few weeks of working hard and keeping the heads down, I know tc and myself are looking forward to having a dance and letting off some steam. Trying to find a place to live/work had sucked the fun out of the past few weeks so it's time to get that back, Sydney stylee.
P.S Update on the tan? Still white. With freckles. White chocolate chip cookie?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Morning Sydney!

We landed in Sydney last Wednesday morning and so far, I have to say, loving it. The city has such a fantastic vibe and while I havn't seen that much of it yet, it really seems like my kind of place.
We are staying about 3 hours outside of Sydney in a place called Buttaba with my relatives. It made such a nice change to have someone meet you at the airport and direct you where to go (thanks Liam!) rather than trying to get your fuzzy, jetlagged brain to work. It instantly felt both like home (western, English speaking, left hand drive) and exotic (watching out for suicidal wallabies to leap in front of your car...). Having the space to chill out and get your bearing is a real treat too.
A few days into our Sydney experience and we have decided the general area we want to try and live and work. While I like the city, tc and myself felt that we could have an office job at home so wanted to try something a little bit different. We are aiming to get out on the beach and really work on those tans which, I am sad to say, are still fairly dismal! So the job and accommodation hunt starts this week. It feels very daunting actually! Breezily mentioning "oh yes we hope to get any oul job in Australia" now has to be fine tuned to actually getting one. It's been a loooong time since I have beamed at a shop assistant/waitress/unsuspecting bystander while shoving a CV under their nose and proclaiming to be invaluable member of their team. Hire me. Please. We have been assured that we should have no problem so when I update you next week I hope to come to you employed. *Cough*
In the meantime? Apartment-sitting in Coogee beach next weekend, and the Sydney Mardi Gras on Saturday. See you the other side...X

Monday, February 21, 2011

One Night In Thailand

So we are back in Bangkok for our final night in Thailand. It feels like a long time since we were last here, and also strangely enough it felt like we were coming home. To the madness of the Koh San Road!
We went to the lovely island of Koh Tao first where tc was learning to get her Scuba license. It is a really chilled out place, one that I will think of with fond memories. The beaches are paradise, and had just the right amount of bronzed bodies to make it feel private, yet with a good atmosphere. I say bronzed, I do not include yours truly here who reflected the sun like a freshly polished mirror. Sigh!
We moved on then to Koh Phangan, for the full moon party. I was a bit worried that the island would be filled with people that you will soon see on 'Thailand Uncovvvvvered', and while there ws no shortage of them, we had a great time at the party. We had made friends with a lovely group of Welsh people and just danced our lil socks (flip flops) off. The next day however we paid for it getting back to Bangkok on planes, trains and automobiles. With sore heads. Worth it though! While in Koh Phangan, we also went to see a marine national park - this included seing the Lagoon that inspired the film 'The Beach' and we also went kayacking around the Gulf. A highlight, and one that comes highly recommended.
So on my final night in this weird and wonderful place I leave you with a short (but unfinished!) list of things I have learned about Thailand;

- A hotel room does not neccessarily means it comes with a toilet
- A toilet does not neccessarily mean anything other than a hole in the ground
- The people here try to rip you off at every available opportunity
- The people here are really gracious, spiritual and friendly at the same time
- There is no sweat like Thai sweatin'
- The beaches are truely paradise on earth
- Worth it.

Next stop, Oz. Watch out Sydney...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bangkok. Is. Mental!

I write to you from a very florescent internet cafe in Bangkok through a haze of jetlag so apologies if it makes very little sense. Fluent Thai - obviously!
Laaaandaaaan town was brilliant. Thanks to our gracious host and company (you know who you are!) we had a jam packed fun weekend. Saw a lot of sights and good atmosphere as London was celebrating Chinese New Year. Due to TC's slight obsession with Michael Jackson we went to see Thriller on the West End. It was...interesting. Ahem. Also saw Tower of London on Monday - anyone who has even the slightest interest in history should go, as well as those people who can appreciate proper bling bling when they see it as it also is home to the Crown Jewels. Have decided I want a crown...which is very possible in Bangkok!
We arrived to Bangkok after a 12 hour flight and the jetlag shows no signs of disappearing. Not sure if it's that or just the chaos of Bangkok that has me disorientated. No idea of time or days or what's what, just going with the flow. The extremely cheap flow I might add! A shoppers haven, which I have so far managed to avoid. We shall see!
Next stop are the Thai Gulf Islands for some beach bummin'. Chat to you from there folks (if at all possible. I'm sort of hoping not...if ya know whadd I mean) xx

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just one more sleep!

T'was the night before leaving, and all through the gaff
Filled with chaos and noise and having a laugh,
Caitriona put out her suitcase with care in hopes that the morning soon would be there...

My last full day at home for a while - and what a day! In case I was thinking of getting cold feet (yeeeeaaah) Ireland has kindly obliged with manky weather to help shove myself and TC (travelling companion) onto that plane. Hopefully Aer Lingus will do the same! Today is the day of packing. Someone do it for me? Please? Also trying to squeeze in the last few goodbyes. Yerrrra lads I'll be home soon.

Nerves are gone, pure excitement has replaced it. Let the adventure begin!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tropical Medical Wha'?

Second trip to the Tropical Medical Bureau. Lady in tmb decided to give me a parting gift of SEVEN vaccinations in both arms. Lady in tmb told me I may feel unwell for the remainder of my time in Ireland. Lady in tmb said all this while smiling. Lady in tmb is, plainly, jealous. I donsh fleel wooshy at all...

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's all the fuss about anyway?

So. 2011 is the year of The Gallivant. Have decided, at 25, I'm far too old to drop everything and travel for 12 months...doing it anyway. My notice is handed in to work (what?! She's leaving a job?!), tickets booked, vague plan made out, the countdown is on. I have just over a month to prepare for London, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. How much preparation can there be? Um...

Christmas and New Years were surprisingly emotional - every rollercoaster range was felt (inwardly of course, I am Irish after all!!) but am feeling ready for this adventure. It's time to leave this town for a little bit and get re-energised. In Fiji. Little Miss Independent has to admit she is a little bit scared - of coming back. And I haven't  even left! Scared of living out of a suitcase? Bitten by a spider/rabied monkey? Running out of money? No. Scared of coming back to find nothing has changed? Terrified! Determined to discover what all the fuss is about!

Now, onto more practical matters. Is bringing a suitcase rather than a rucksack naive? How much is too much suncream? And whhhhhhhhy did I leave buying a bikini until the post Christmas binge? Ans; (a) probably, (b) 3 bottles and (c) because I leave everything to last minute. See? Travelling. Piss of piece...      xx