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Entries in holidays (5)

Sunday
Jul302017

Holiday To Do List

I’ve just had ten days off … Heaven, right?  Sure, the first week was pretty awesome.  I headed to Perth, hung out with a stack of my besties, drank too much red wine, ate too much dessert, slept a lot … and fed my soul with all the things that make me happy. 

The weather was a bit crap in Perth.  I had been bragging about flying over to get some sunshine so imagine my disappointment when the average temperature was 17 degrees.  Plus rain.  Lots of rain.   Oh well, I’m on holidays I thought.  It doesn’t matter about the weather.

Off I went, having the time of my life.  I probably poisoned my body with too many carbs and a stack of sugar – but you’d think the antioxidants of that much red wine would counteract most poor food decisions.

Apparently not.  On my last day, I woke up with a sore throat, stuffy nose and achey body.  Oh God, here we go.

Thanks to my buddies at Qantas I was sitting at the front of the plane and could curl up in my big comfy seat, drink a stack of Ginger Ale and black tea, and work my way through a pile of throat lozenges.   Off to bed I went on arrival back home. 

Four more days of holiday joy up my sleeve and I had plans.  Big plans.  Stuff to do.  A list of shit to get done.  The final hoorah of getting my life on track before I headed back to work on Monday.

The Universe had other plans.  I’ve been sick for four days.  Housebound, except for a visit to salt therapy and a chemist.  My long list of grown up chores thrown out the window.   Here’s what it looked like … and how it went:

Exercise:  Every day.  Lace up those runners and walk for at least an hour and maybe start to get back into running.  Throw in some stretches and maybe a bit of yoga.  Oh and don’t forget PT with Anthony on Saturday = then a 6km run / walk on Sunday at Run Melbourne.

Reality:  I walked for 20 minutes and my head pounded so badly I went home and slumped on the couch. 

Cook great food:  Head to the markets and stock up on lots of fresh vegetables, fish and superfoods that you can turn into healthy salads, curries and meals.   Freeze stuff so that you have delicious nutritious food to take to work each day.  Impress your new flatmate with your cooking skills.

Reality:  I’ve been living on soup (out of a bag with the occasional home made bowl) twice a day for four days.  Tonight I burnt my Mediterranean Cauliflower soup in my Soup Maker, something I’ve never done before.  My new flatmate tried hard not to laugh.

Massage:  Indulge in a relaxing massage and take time out for yourself.  Maybe add a facial too, so when you go back to work you look relaxed.  Fresh even.

Reality:  My body aches from coughing and blowing my nose.  I couldn’t lay on a massage table for more than five minutes without my body kicking into coughing spasms … or worse still, a non stop runny nose.  I’m two boxes of tissues down. 

Declutter:  Finish reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying.  Unfortunately I forgot to take it to Perth with me.  Never mind, I can just get started and donate items to the Salvos, take photos of the books I want to sell and check out the second hand clothing place around the corner. Decluttering makes me feel in control.  I will transform my space and my mind.

Reality:  My house resembles a Bric a Brac store.  

Writing:  I will write blogs.  Every day.  I will finish The Painter chapter of my book (it’s only taken seven months).  I will find my writing mojo and spend hours writing, happily tapping away on my Mac.

Reality:  I retweeted a Happy Friendship Day video of Elmo dancing.  And wrote this blog.

But it’s a really really cute video.  

Monday
Jan262015

Long Haul Flight Torture

I love traveling. It's one of my passions. A few years ago I made a promise to myself that if I could go overseas once a year I would (subject to work commitments and finances). So far, so good. I've been lucky enough to see much of the world ... With more exciting adventures to come. Hopefully.

There's one thing I hate about going overseas. Long haul flights. I don't know anyone who loves them (except Penguin Mike who spends more time at the pointy end of the plane than most pilots) but they're a necessary evil. I guess I'm just thankful I don't live in the 1800s and have to travel for weeks by boat to get anywhere.

My trip home from New York was pretty tortuous. Although it's really only 18 hours of flying (compared to 23 for Europe) this was a tough leg for me.

One of the hardest things is when the plane is full. Jam packed full.  Not a spare seat anywhere. On the short five hours from New York to LA I had four seats to myself. #Winning. It's the equivalent of a straight flush in poker. I spread out and had a short nap. What a great start to my journey home.

Then it was time to load onto the enormous A380. We were herded on like cattle, slowly taking our assigned seats and cramming whatever we could into overhead compartments and under the seat in front. I travel light with one bag of carry-on so that makes it easy for me. I always watch in amazement as passengers jam mini suitcases and bags into every nook and cranny they can find on the plane. Mind you, after losing my luggage for 12 days in New York, I understand their fear and need to stick closely by their essentials.

With 500 people in one space the plane heated up fast. It was like a sauna. The fact I was dressed for a minus ten degrees New York day may not have helped. All the oxygen left the compartment before they'd even closed the doors. Eek.

I should point out that I sometimes suffer from travel sickness and overheating is a massive factor. Not a great feeling before embarking on a 15 hour flight.

Finally all of the sheep, I mean passengers, were on board and we were ready to go. Those giant A380s take off like flying hippos ... Slowly, with a lot of run up and everyone wondering how they actually defy gravity and somehow become airborne. I don't like take offs in giant planes much at all, they make me nervous.

I settled into the flight as best I could, super thankful I always request an aisle seat. The lady next to me was quite nice, telling me she was moving from the US to my hometown of Radelaide. Now there's a first. I told her we'd probably run into each other near the malls balls. (Radelaide joke).

My special vego meal arrived: a strange concoction of zucchini, carrots and cauliflower covered in a weird green Thai curry sauce. With white rice. The benefit of ordering a special meal is you get to eat first ... but then food envy kicks in when you see your fellow passengers enjoying tiramisu while you eat a cold banana for dessert.

Just as I finished my last mouthful of dinner the plane started to shake. Nothing major, just a little bit of turbulence. Easy.

Then the plane dipped. My heart went with it. Then again. Over and over the plane rocked from side to side, then up and down. The woman next to me clutched her baked salmon and vegetables, trying to eat and not have it all end up in her lap. I'm sure my whoahs! and ohGods! didn't help the situation. This wasn't your normal turbulence, this was a roller coaster ride. Except I wasn't having any fun.

The Fasten Your Seatbelt Sign Now Or There’ll Be Trouble sign dinged loudly.

After 15 minutes of shaking, rocking and dipping the Captain gave us an update on the PA system.

Ladies and Gentlemen. We’re just riding through a little bit of turbulence (no sh*t Sherlock), so we ask that you fasten your seatbelts and remained seated.  We’re hoping to clear it within the next 30 minutes.

30 minutes!?  Is he serious? I’m not sure that’s going to work for me. Go back and try again Mr Pilot. 

The bumping and rocking continued.  I tried to breathe deeply.  I sipped on my lemonade (a helpful tool to avoid vomiting on planes).  My eyes did their best to stay focused on the TV screen in front of me playing Orange Is The New Black.  I tried hard to stay calm.  What’s the worst thing that could happen? 

Whoah!  The plane dropped dramatically. A lot. In my head I calculated a dip of at least one metre.  I don’t know what that is in plane speak but as a passenger, strapped in tight and clinging to her tray table for dear life, it felt like a lot.

Tan, calm down. It’s fine.  We’re just going through a little bit of bad weather.  We’ll be done soon.  The pilots do this all the time.  Stop stressing.  It’s going to be okay.

I released my hands briefly and smiled at the lady next to me.  She didn’t seem worried at all, tucking into her salmon.  

The plane rocked for another 20 or so minutes and I managed to get to the end of my episode of Orange is the New Black (amazing show by the way) by focusing hard.  The pilot turned off the seat belt sign and I let out a huge sigh. 

We travelled fairly smoothly for the next nine hours with the occasional bumps here and there.  I kept my seatbelt fastened tight and downed another few lemonades for good measure. 

As the wheels finally touched down on the tarmac, I breathed a thank you prayer and wondered if I’d lost my nerve for flying.  I’ve never really been scared of dying on a plane before.  My biggest fear was always vomiting into one of those weird little photo print bags.  Which I do with grace and ease if you are wondering.  Years of practice. 

I’m thinking of heading to Europe later this year.  Will I freak out again?  I guess time will tell.  Either that or I’m booking a room on the P&O Fairstar and taking the long way round.  

Monday
Nov182013

A bad day is still a good day on holidays

I had a bad day. Not the worst day I've ever had. Just one filled with icky moments. The thing is, I'm on holidays. In Spain. How bad a day can that really be?

It started when I got out of  the wrong side of my triple sized bed filled with six fancy pillows. I hadn't slept well so was tired. I only got 8.5 hours sleep, not the usual six I get at home. No wonder I was cranky.

It took me ages to get ready thanks to my stupid head cold ... But I set off and had breakfast at the local cafe around the corner. No big deal. Except that they filled my toasted tuna sandwich with onion so I had stinky breath. Awesome.

Heading to the bus stop I noticed it was a beautiful sunny day. A great day to be outside seeing the sights.

Every other tourist had the same idea as the Double decker Hop on, Hop off buses (HoHo) were jam packed. I managed to find a seat on the bottom floor of the bus. The prime position is of course on top, where you can see everything and get fresh air and sunshine. It's a great way to see the city.

I wanted to go to Parc Guell - one of Gaudi's amazing creations - only five stops into my journey. Unfortunately with so many people getting on and off the bus, and so much traffic, it took an hour to get there. Annoying.

I bought my ticket and wandered around  ... It's a giant natural park with trees and plants, and amongst it all are statues, houses and sculptured arches. Gaudi's style fills me with joy. I can stand and look at his art all day.

Every other tourist had the same idea as there was a 50 minute wait to get into his tiny house. I checked my watch. Nope, no time for that if I want to see his other museums.

I head back to the bus stop and jump on - again, the only spare seats are downstairs. It'll be fine, I don't have far to go.

An old man and his wife get on. She takes the only remaining seat - next to me. The bus takes off and I see that her husband is standing near the wheelchair area.

I stand up and motion for him to have my seat. His wife death stares me as I try and get past her. She slides her legs only a few cms so I have to squeeze out. I try and explain I'm moving for her husband. She continues her death stare.

I move to the spot where the man was standing. The hostess of the bus walks down the aisle and tells me I must sit down. I tell her I don't mind standing. But you must sit, she tells me. For the trip. I only have one stop to go. It's a long way and you must sit, she tells me, getting all antsy.

Fine.

I find a space over the wheel arch in between two sets of chairs. It's not very comfortable but I'm hidden from the bossy bus woman. I understand they have safety issues, however she should take more notice of what the stupid tourists upstairs get up to ... Including standing to take photos as we approach bridges and tunnels. Derr.

My stop finally arrives and I get off to see another of Gaudi's works. This one is an apartment block and inside you can climb to the flat roof (his specialty) for an amazing view. Sounds good. Until I check out the ticket box. They want 19€. That's almost $30 in Aussie dollars.

I'm no tight arse, especially when traveling, but the thought of spending that much cash on a room with a view was a bit too much. I walked around the block and got back on the next HoHo bus.

One stop later and I was at the next Gaudi instalment. It was fast approaching 4pm and I needed to stop for some food ... And a glass of wine to take the edge off. I was feeling a little rattled.

There's a stack of places to eat in Barcelona but choosing the right one is tricky. You want somewhere the locals go, but not so packed you can't get a seat or the waiters attention.

I found a place filled with business men and a few tourists. The sandwiches and salads displayed on the bar were colourful and looked fresh.  Taking a seat I waited a while until a young waiter finally noticed me. I asked for a menu. Five minutes later I got one. Ten minutes later an older waitress came to take my order. Ten minutes after that my rose wine appeared. Hey, it's okay, I reminded myself, we're on Spanish time.

My salad was bland. Even the walnuts and pineapple didn't make it taste any better. The calamari was soggy and tasteless. The wine was like cat urine. I had chosen poorly. Both the food and the place.
Once the bill finally arrived, I begrudgingly paid my 19€ ... Yes $30 for a crap meal. The same price as Gaudi's place. Ironic.

I headed to the street to buy my ticket for Casa Batllo - one of Gaudi's  finest works - one I've been excited to see since I got here. There was no line to get in - excellent. This mustn't be as popular with tourists. No, actually, it's because it's closed. It shut two hours ago for a private function. Come back tomorrow at 8am the sign told me. Ah.

Another HoHo bus arrived and I got on board. This was the West / Green route which I hadn't yet done.
We drove past the Port Area, statues of Alexander the Great and the World  Trade Centre before it stopped at the top of a mountain where the luxury Miramar Hotel is. The view of the whole of Barcelona was incredible so I jumped off.

If only took me 15 minutes to take some shots and have a quick look around. Then I was done. I started walking back to the bus stop, wondering how long I'd have to wait. It would be getting dark soon.

I saw the big red bus come down the street so started to run. My heavy bag wasn't helping my cause but I picked up my pace as the bus pulled into the stop. As I was about to step up the doors shut. Bang.

The driver, not seeng me, drove off as I stood there yelling Hola! Hola! helplessly. Incredibly, Stop the Bus isn't in the extensive list of 15 Spanish  phrases I know.

I waited in the dark for another 20 minutes until the next bus came along to take me past the Olympic Stadium, Barca Football Club and a giant shopping mall. It was cold and windy but I sat on the top of the bus ... At least I was on my way back to the hotel so I could finish this bad day.

Then I saw the skyline of the city with the fountains and monuments sparkling in the night light. I'm in Spain, I reminded myself, on an amazing adventure seeing things most people only dream of. This wasn't a bad day, this was one of the best days of my life.

Sunday
Mar172013

Hola Holidays. Here I come. 

I’m going to Spain in November.  Spain.  Home of churros and Sangria and Paella.   Siestas and dancing.  Water, sun and hot bodies.   All the good things in life.  I hope they have nice coffee.   Then my life really would be complete.

My best friend, Shelley Belly is getting married in Seville and I can’t wait.   We made a promise to each other a few years ago that we would meet once a year – somewhere in the world – anywhere – as long as we got to see each other at least once a year. 

So far, we’ve managed to keep our promise, meeting in Vietnam over vegetarian spring rolls in Ho Chi Minh … New York with cocktails after I ran the marathon … London (her current home) for late night dancing … and Adelaide.   Good old Adelaide.

I’ve never been to Spain so I’m super excited at the thought of visiting a new country.   I have a fair amount of holiday leave so am thinking that three or four weeks would be good.  Or forever.  If I meet a hot Spanish man who promises to make me churros for the rest of my life.

Planning a holiday is a lot of fun – but it can also be a bit stressful.   I love to travel and try to fit in as much as I can while I’m away, but I also need chill time.  When Natty Nat and I used to travel together, we’d always have massages and pedicures in between cultural visits and shopping.  One of our favourite moments was in a day spa with non English speaking women who dipped our hands and feet in hot wax, wrapped them in plastic bags, then massaged us half naked on tables next to each other.  By massaging, I mean straddling me and walking up and down my back.  I remember laying there with my hands and feet practically bound, thinking it would be a weird way to die.  Imagine the police telling my Mum; “She was tied up like a dressed roast chicken when we found her … but she had a big smile on her face and looked very relaxed.” Mum would be so proud. 

I’m thinking of breaking my Spain trip up into three parts – running a marathon – Shelley Belly’s wedding – and a guided tour with locals.   Yes a marathon.  It’s a unique way to see a new city.  I’ve done one in New York and Paris, and loved it. Except for the 42km running bit and all the pain, it’s a great day. 

There’s a marathon in Majorca – the Tui Marathon Palma de Mallorca.   You get to run with 10,000 other people in the sun on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.  How much fun would that be?  It beats pounding the pavement around my local hood, dodging junkies and having men yell obscenities out of cars at me.  And imagine how hot all those competitors will be.  I won’t feel any pain as there’ll be eye candy all around.  A great incentive to train super hard before I go.  And get a spray tan.  Extra dark.

The wedding is in Seville so I’ll spend a week there, after sun soaked (30+ covered) Majorca.  The guests are staying in an old farmhouse which looks amazing so accommodation is covered.  That will be a week to relax, hang out with the bride to be and spend quality time with a good book and a bucket of Sangria.   I can feel the stress leave my shoulders already.  Ahhhhh.

After the wedding, I’m thinking of jumping on a guided tour to see the Northern part of Spain.   I love travelling alone but doing a tour with other like minded people is a great way to take the stress and hassle out of getting around.  Plus I’ve met some really interesting people on tours.  Like Helga the German woman on my tour of Thailand who barely spoke for ten days, then told me and Natty Nat at the end of the tour she thought we were amazing chicks and we should visit her one day.  Then she disappeared in her green cargo shorts and matching shirt and we never saw her again.   Shame.  I really wanted to visit Germany one day and sleep on Helga’s couch.

I like tours with local guides who show you things that most tourists wouldn’t see.  In Japan, our guide took us to tiny cafes and out of the way bars, explaining to us about Japanese culture.  We’d ask her about work customs, drinking and dating and she’d open up to us about her life.  It was fascinating.   We didn’t even have to sleep with our bus driver.

Having a holiday to look forward to will help get me through shitty days at work – and the cold Winter that’s about to embark on us.   Plus, by adding a marathon to that mix  (finish and don’t die) – and a wedding (hot dress) – and an island holiday (bikini body) - I’ve got three reasons to train hard, get fit and stop eating crap. 

Looks like my non stop churros and Sangria fantasy will have to wait til I get to Spain.  Carrot stick anyone?

 

Sunday
Dec302012

I wish I was as amazing in real life 

I want to be as amazing in real life as I am on holidays.

I’ve had this week off work and I have to say, I’ve been pretty amazing.  I’ve done stuff that, in my real life (eg; not on holidays), I would never have had the time, energy or enthusiasm for.  Let me list some of the stuff I’ve done, so you too can be impressed.  You may even be a bit jealous if you’ve not ticked off things on your list like I have. 

SuperGirl and I borrowed her Dad’s ute.  I won’t deny it, we looked hot. What (straight) man doesn’t love two chicks in a ute?   We headed off to Ikea on a mission – to find ways to declutter our lives.  What a magical wonderland that place is!  I haven’t been there for years for fear of going against the arrows and getting arrested, but now I want to visit every week and see what those little munchkins in blue shirts have in store for me.   I bought a flat pack bookcase and we hauled it up two flights of stairs to my bedroom.  Usually I’d never have the energy to carry my handbag up those stairs, but on holidays, I’m strong.  I’m a machine. 

Armed with an Alan key and a cordless drill, I created carpentry symphony with 8 pieces of wood, 8 x long screws and 32 of those weird wooden toggle things.   I now have a beautiful bookcase which I’m proud to say, I put together all by myself. All alone, like Bridget Jones, all by myself.  No one to help me.  Seriously, what do I really need a man for?   Perhaps to point out there was no need for the power tool and I was just showing off.

After I rearranged my room, threw away boxes of stuff I don’t need, packed four bags of stuff to take to the Salvos, changed my sheets and fixed my broken bed (it’s been that way for six months, clearly no one has been in it to notice), I called my Mum.  We talked for more than 40 minutes.  Really talked – not just going through the motions of how’s Nanna, ooh, the weather’s a bit hot, what’s my crazy sister been up to?  I wasn’t doing anything else at the same time (eg; googling or reheating something for dinner).  I was totally focussed on everything she was saying.  It was nice.  Yes, World’s Best Daughter. 

The sun was still out so I put on my gym gear (which was washed and folded and not sitting on the floor like it usually is) and went out in the fresh air for a walk.  I listened to music on my new ipod (which I had uploaded  yesterday), checked out hipster houses in my neighbourhood and got some exercise.   I took my time.  It was a beautiful day and I soaked it up.  Heaven. 

As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel self righteous I then cooked salmon steaks in a mustard and chive sauce, and stirfried fresh vegetables with Thai basil.  I actually chopped and sautéed real food, using herbs, a frying pan and hotplates.  Imagine that.  No beep beep beep, your frozen fish and frozen vegies are ready for dinner scenario for me.   I cooked an awesome meal and it tasted fantastic. I actually enjoyed the process and even washed the dishes – as opposed to leaving them for three days until GFM or I run out of glasses.  I am a Domestic Goddess.

I got lots of sleep.  I read books and trashy mags.  My cat got quality time.  I called friends I’ve not spoken to for months and we talked for hours.  Hours.  I had time to daydream.  

In my normal crazy, busy, intense life – which I love – doing any of these things would be pretty good.  But to nail ALL of them in a few days is a miracle.  I stepped over the line of being a Just get through today and we’ll deal with everything else Tomorrow person, to someone who is organised, in control and has her shit together.  It’s like I’m a proper grown up and just got my pen licence.  No more pencils for me. 

I’m back at work tomorrow so this Utopia will soon be a distant memory. But I’m holding onto the thought that with a bit of work (okay a lot of work and planning) I can continue to be amazing ... with exercise, a tidy house, fresh food and all my relationships in tact.  If not, there’s always my next holiday ...  and a bag of frozen veggies in the freezer to keep me going.