Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Land of the Tasmanian Devil

This past week I made a small trip to Tasmania to see my friend Ella. After only getting 2 hours sleep I boarded a plane, which seemed like ages ago since I was last on one, and flew to Hobart. Ella hired a car and picked me up at the airport. We went to Salamanca Square and had lunch at a launderette turned café. The square was very cute and had a few art galleries and restaurants. After stuffing my face we made our way to Ella’s hometown in Burnie. You hear tons of things about Tassie, jokingly of course, how its full of bogans and incest and some wonder why you would want to go. I found Tassie to be absolutely beautiful and a breath of fresh air. It’s not very populated and really spread out with tons of farms, small towns and vineyards. I asked Ella if it’s very common to have a farm and she said it was. Her parents have a farm, her uncle has a farm and a couple of aunts have a farm and most of her friends have a farm. Its crazy really but makes Tassie a really green and beautiful place.

The next day we went to her grandparents’ house for some lunch. They were some of the sweetest people I’ve met and so welcoming. Then we were off to see one of her family’s horse race, which was an entirely new experience for me. It was really exciting and it was everything that I’ve heard about the races, well except no big hats for the women. After the races, we went to their farm where they keep most of their horses. We went into some of the paddocks and I met some of their horses, such as Super, Jimmy Becket, Kade One Nut and many others. I believe it was Super who started eating Ella’s jacket and actually ripping the fir off the hood. She told me that one time a horse actually unzipped her jacket completely, so this must be a common theme. After the farm we went back to her house and her mom made a delicious fish dinner for us. Her dad brought up a couple bottles of very nice wine from his cellar, which was very very tasty. After cleaning up, Ella and I rugged up and went wallaby hunting in her backyard. It was so cool seeing these animals that look like kangaroos hopping around, you could even hear them hopping with a big thud every time they landed on the ground. I got so excited I actually started hopping with them. Yes, I’m a dork.

After a good nights sleep, Ella and I headed off for a small road trip to her uncles farm in Smithton. On our way we stopped along a beautiful beach called Boats Harbor and then drove to Stanley. In Stanley they have this mountain, which I guess is technically a volcano, that they call The Nut. We hiked to the top and walked around for a bit trying to stand up right in the strong winds. Since this was right on the coast, we had a perfect view of the endless ocean on one side and miles of greenery and farms on the other. What a beautiful contrast. We headed back down to the main strip and had a wonderful lunch in small café before making our way to Smithton. Before we arrived to her uncles, I decided to get a haircut. Because of the strong winds from The Nut, my hair was extremely tangly and the lady got so bluntly frustrated with my hair and after drowning it in conditioner and trying her luck with a comb, Ella ran to the car to get my brush so I could brush it out for her, which only took a minute for me to do. We arrived at her uncle’s farm, where they farm wagyu cattle, a delicacy in Japan, and had some wagyu steak for dinner. It was very tender and full of flavor. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to venture out to his island (he actually owns two islands) so we went to the local basketball game instead before heading off for bed.

The next day Ella and I made her Uncle blueberry pancakes and set off to Sisters Beach where we had lunch with her Aunt, a woman with a lot of personality and bling bling. She was so nice and so much fun to talk to. Everyone in her family has been so welcoming to me and one day I hope I can return the favor to Ella. After saying our goodbyes, we went to Anvers Chocolate Factory and had free tasting of delicious truffles and fudges. Then we went to Ghost Rock Vineyard where we tasted some wine before sitting down on the outside patio enjoying a glass of pinot noir and an antipasto platter. The weather was beautiful this day and the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect ending to a nice visit with Ella in Tasmania. She dropped me off at the airport in Launceston where I caught my flight home back to Melbourne.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Crazy Rain Storms in Melbourne

Yesterday I think I got a little taste of the winter the Aussies speak of. We were kindly invited to my friend Sophie’s sister’s engagement party (Emily and Jesse are the bride and groom to be). The theme was Mad Hatters Tea Party, which is part of the overall theme of Alice in Wonderland Wedding. We were to all show up with crazy hats and enjoy some tea, cakes, champagne and other munchies. After purchasing a kids flower hat from the one and only IKEA, I was all set for the party and ready to test out my sweet tooth. Emily loves to bake, and might I add, absolutely fabulous at it. She made from scratch different types of cupcakes with different frostings, fillings and cakes. She also made other small cakes bearing phrases such as “eat me” to go well with the theme. There were also colored candies in the champagne glasses, which made your drink turn that particular color. Just everything was absolutely amazing and beautiful, besides the storm outside. Brennan and I still had to work that evening so we had to leave early and caught a train to the city. Well little did we know of the adventure we were about to embark on. We had to get off the train early because of flooding. No more trains were going into the city so we had to join the hundreds of people and try to catch trams into the city. We were the smarter of the hundreds and decided to walk to the stop before this one so that we would be able to get on easier…and bonus get seats. After the tram was crammed with people, we went as far as we could before we had to get off and wait for another tram to take us to St. Kilda, where we could get on yet another tram into the city. After waiting in the rain for trams we finally made it to the city. It was chaotic. There were emergency vehicles sounding their alarms down the streets and drenched people squeezing into any shelter they could. I kept calling work to update them on my whereabouts because this journey took quite some time and I was running late. Once we arrived in the city I had to catch another tram to get me home so I could quickly change and rush off to work. Around Flemington you can see the damage of the storm. There were leaves and branches of trees just covering the sidewalks from the huge down pore. I finally made it to work and quickly got the low down on what was going on 2 hours after I was supposed to be there. Luckily some others showed up late and there was understanding for my major tardiness…and as my friend Branden would say…I was a late loser.

Today the last Italian moves out and there is some confusion it seems to whom will be moving in. From what I’ve heard there are a total of 4 people wanting 2 room vacancies. Some are expecting to sign contracts. And this has all come about through Dannie, my landlord, and her son Tony. They seem to have absolutely no communication with each other at all. We have one person saying one thing and the other something completely different. Its crazy how they can keep people renting this house out and bills (obviously excluding internet) being paid. Dannie can’t even remember when Hannah and I are supposed to pay rent. She called me yesterday asking for rent money when we had just paid a week ago for the month. Let’s keep the contracts in order peeps…I mean really.

Just seeing how this share house is being managed and experiencing the hospitality system really makes me realize how much order and organization I like to have in my life. I like to have rules and I like some things to be structured. I feel like for me, that makes life so easy and straightforward and there won’t be confusion. Now, I do like to be spontaneous, don’t get me wrong, but for things like renting and living with strangers and working efficiently, I need that structure.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Little Something About Flemington

I’m learning a lot about where I live at the moment. Flemington is full of ethnic food places and some cafes. There are a few pubs also located throughout and maybe one or two clothing stores. There seems to be quite a few car repair shops, which I find very odd to have so many in one area. But otherwise nothing too much or super exciting, just the necessitates that any suburb needs.

It seems that Australia is primarily full of private schools with typical school uniforms, just like the ones you see in the movies. They all have the matching jumpers with black shoes and white socks. Well, I think I live by a public school, because there are no school uniforms, and it’s what I would imagine schools to be like in inner cities in the USA. Now this could be my ignorance speaking and me being naïve, because lets face it, growing up in Colorado you don’t get tons of diversity. Well I’m sitting in McDonalds now, waiting for some people to get on skype and it’s about 3:30 in the afternoon. About 20 kids come in, all of them part of different ethnicity, hanging out inside. I can kind of already see the different cliques. I’ve spotted the “cool” crowd, the queen bee and her followers, the quiet ones and the ones who think they are straight up gangsters. As they are all basically sitting by my table, I can hear basically all of the conversations. Keep in mind these kids look like they are in middle school….maybe freshmen in high school but that would be the absolute oldest. One kid, who is part of the gangster crowd and seems to have a lot to say to everyone, is talking about how he is suspended and he doesn’t care because he’s never going back to school, and if he does he’s going to raise hell and devise a plan. And how his friend is going to jail for stealing an ipod and stabbing someone. This kid has the ipod that his friend stole and his sister just found out and is going to tell mom and is turning all dramatic about it. Later he says how he wants to get a haircut like Chris Brown because he gets all the ladies. Then this same group of boys and girls start talking about rape and to whom they lost their virginity to and saying very vulgar things about women losing their virginity that it blows my mind. If I didn’t hear the previous convos about stabbings and such, I might have the guts to say something…maybe. These kids are soooo young… And they were talking about junkies and how one night 6 guys jumped him for no reason and is going to get his revenge. Where the hell am I living and how do kids think they can speak this way?

I also found out that there were 2 separate occasions where people were attacked on the tram that I take on a daily basis to work and the city. Around 12:30am some nights ago, two drunks attacked one guy because he wouldn’t talk with them. This happened on the tram right around where my house is. Fabulous. Then the second occasion was some guy stole a girl’s purse early in the morning. She apparently chased after him and was tapped by his truck. I know things like this happen all over the world, but I feel like I’ve never heard of it so close to home before. It frightens me a bit but it’s definitely a learning experience. It has definitely made me a little more conscious about my surroundings and gave me a reality check that paradise is not always the safest place in the world. It’s just like in Uppsala, where I have never felt safer in my entire life and would feel completely fine walking home by myself late at night. But even then, you would find things in the newspaper about people getting attacked or stabbed, and that still blows my mind.

Now my intention was not to scare anyone….ahem…mom. It’s just something that I observed today and found interesting, frightening, worrisome and eye opening. Something I’m glad I’m aware of now but not too worried about where I’m afraid to leave my home.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome to the Metropolitan, my name is Hannah...

After 80 resumes, weeks of searching, interviews and trials, I have a found a job as a waitress at the Metropolitan Hotel. It’s not a real hotel, that's just the name of it. There is the bar side and the dining side, which is where I primarily work. They are trying to make it a high class dining area with an Ala Carte menu and top service so I really have to pay a lot of attention to detail. Some of the things I have to do are so ridiculous that it makes you really think if the customers would even know the difference. I really have to bite my tongue sometimes with the things they ask me do so sometimes it’s not really that enjoyable. And their service style is different than in the states, which I guess is something you would expect. Instead of everyone having their own section of tables, we all share the tables and potentially serve each table in one way or another whether its taking orders, serving food and drinks or clearing off the plates. To me, even after 2 weeks of working there, it seems disorganized and frustrating. It’s definitely an adjustment that I'm slowly making and something I need to work a little harder at. One thing I do like though is that here, you don’t need to rely on tips for your income. Some people will tip here so its not totally unheard of but not everyone does it. And because we all share tables, we divide the tips evenly between the people that worked that particular shift. Hospitality gets paid minimum wage here and I believe that is around $17.55 AUD an hour. Not bad eh? And because hospitality gets paid minimum wage and doesn’t have to rely on tips, we don’t rely on a high turnover of customers. There have been tables that come in and stay for 3 hours and it won’t matter, as long as they are satisfied and granted they usually go through a multiple course dinner so you kind of need that long to eat everything. We have recently changed our menu and I was lucky enough to attend the tasting of the new entrees and mains. They are absolutely delicious (and pricy might I ad) and I myself would love to sit there for a few hours and get the full Ala Carte experience that these customers receive. Oh, and the dessert looks amazing!!! Unfortunately I did not get a tasting of that. I will have to try at least one of the dessert plates before I go home though.

I did apply and interview at a realty agency and it actually went really well and they said they would hire me if I was going to be in Australia longer (they were looking for at least 2 years) and didn't have a working visa that limited my ability to work somewhere longer than 6 months. So I gave up on receptionist jobs and looked primarily at service and retail jobs.

I'm only working at the restaurant about 15-20 hours a week at the moment, hopefully more soon. So I have a lot of free time and I honestly don't know how I spend it some days. I've gone to the beach a couple times, walked around the city hundreds of times and tried new cafes that pore out of lane ways. They have tons of free music and art festivals located about the city that are always fun to explore. Hannah and I have been lost countless times and have sometimes ended up in cute suburbs and in other times ended up in bad suburbs, with misleading names such as sunshine, where we have to take a taxi to get home. The past couple of days I have spent exploring Flemington and seeing what’s available. Hannah and I have stumbled upon many Thai restaurants, a couple bars, a gym that I have now joined and a discounted food warehouse. As we were piling up on all of these different food items and just amazed on how cheap they are, we started reading the labels. Hannah starts laughing and tells me that the corn nuts she had just purchased were expired in Jan ’10. Aha….that’s why they are cheap. So then I start looking at my items and discovered that this curry ramen thing that I wanted to try (it was only $.40) had an expiration date of August….August of 2009. Haha…oh good. After that interesting experience we made our way to McDonalds to enjoy free wifi because the internet in our place will not work for whatever reason. I cannot believe that I go to McDonalds for free wifi. It makes me feel like a stereotypical American, even if I don’t get anything to eat. This internet problem better be solved sooner than later. They employees might start recognizing me, which something I do not want at all.

Needless to say, there is never a boring day. Hannah and I seem to always make everything interesting and exciting, even if we don't mean to. Some days are really hard and I get a little homesick and just get this feeling of being lost and confused about what I'm doing here but most of the time I enjoy every second of it. I love learning about new things in the city, new quirks about the australian culture and new things about myself that I don't think I would discover if I didn't embark on this journey.

White House on Mt. Alexander Rd.

After staying with the newlyweds Chris and Sophie and cramping their style for 3 weeks, Hannah and I have finally found an affordable place to live that's near the city. After looking at trashy places in sketchy neighborhoods, getting lost trying to find places and being rejected, we have finally found our humble abode. You are now looking at one of the new residents of 150 Mt. Alexander Rd, Flemington VIC 3031. We have been in this house for about a week now and learning many new things about the place daily. We don't live with any Australians unfortunately but we do live with a Dutch girl named Malu, a Mauritius guy named Vivian, German girl named Yvonne and 3 Italians named Fabio, Maurizio and Frederico. Kind of sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? The house is a 6 bedroom place so it’s a decent size. There is one shower and 2 toilets so sometimes it’s a little crowded but for the price it’s worth it. In Australia they advertise prices weekly and I am paying $90 a week, which is one of the cheapest places I have been able to find. And what makes it cheaper is that Hannah and I share the room. It is right on a main street where conveniently a tram stop is located that can take me straight to work, the amazing Queen Victoria Market and to the heart of downtown. The house is pretty old, so old that the house is on stilts and there are holes in our floor where you can see the ground so there is quite a draft sometimes. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s affordable and a good location.

Now to say a little about my roommates. Malu lives across the way from Hannah and I and she is here working at a research center at one of the hospitals. She is really nice and usually out of the house during the days saving people’s lives through her research. Vivian is the sous chef at the restaurant I work at. He is the one that told me about the available room. He is trying to get his permanent residency here and is a really nice guy. Yvonne is traveling a bit I believe and is currently taking English classes while trying to find a job. She has only been here for a couple of months and also just finally settling down. The Italians are an interesting group of guys. 2 of them share a room while the 3rd one has his own. They like to smoke inside the kitchen, which is always pleasant when you are trying to cook or eat your food. There is nothing like biting into your meal with smoke blowing into your face at the same time. We've asked them kindly to smoke outside but they bluntly refuse. Luckily, they are moving out in a week. At first I didn’t really care for them because of the smoking issue, but I tried to keep an open mind and have carried on some conversations with them. They are good-humored guys and nice but I’m still looking forward to when the smoke smell disappears.

The house is pretty old, so old that the house is on stilts and there are holes in our floor where you can see the ground so there is quite a draft sometimes. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s affordable and a good location and it’s not for the rest of my life. If I had money that I could just spend without a care, I would love to take a trip to IKEA and completely decorate this house so it looks like someone lives there and completely get this place organized and clean. But I don’t, so I have to make do with what is available. One thing I’ve also noticed and only in this house so far is that the cold water knob is on the left and the hot water knob is on the right but only in the bathroom. I had a few cold showers before realizing this. The knobs in the kitchen are normal, at least by our standards. In the backyard we have around 6-7 shopping carts just hanging out there. The nearest grocery store is about a 15 minutes walk and by the looks of our fridge and cabinet, no one buys that many groceries to where they need to bring a cart home with them. I’m thinking they got there by some drunken escapade. Needless to say the character of the house and the things I find here definitely makes life interesting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Reality in Australia

So I have been back from traveling for almost 2 weeks now, and you might wonder what I've been up to. Well to be honest, nothing exciting like the road trips, but still managing to squeeze fun into job searching and house hunting. So far, it has been waaaay harder than everyone here said it would be. We were supposed to be these novelties that any place would love to have. That is what some Australians told us when we began our journey. Well any feeling of "novelty" has definitely worn off. After handing out and applying for over 70 jobs and not a single confirmed job yet, is a little worrisome. I have had some leads, and still do. But I feel like I can't count them until I'm told that I'm hired or I see my name on the schedule.

My mom knew someone who knew someone who manages a restaurant in Melbourne called the Spaghetti Tree. Naturally, that was the first place I stepped in hoping that my connection follows through. Unfortunately, David (one of the managers) said that business is very slow at the moment because everyone is on holiday and down by the beach but he would keep my resume if something comes up. After dragging myself out there and forcing the positive thoughts to come back, I have been walking up and down streets looking for help wanted signs on windows. They are out there, but my visa has limited me and have not been qualified for some jobs because of it. After a few discouraging days, I randomly walked in a restaurant called The Trust and they said to come back in a few days for a trial. A trial? What's a trial? I guess they test you out before they officially hire you or tell you any pertinent information you might want to know such as wage, hours, perks etc. After a few days of trialing with the restaurant I find out on my own that they are also really slow and yes my name is on the schedule now, but more as a sub or when there is an event at the restaurant that they need extra staff for. I found out through a dutch guy who was bartending there that he gets paid under the table and roughly every week. He doesn't get much hours either. Fortunately, I had a trial last night at another restaurant called the Metropolitan that I had a connection with through the Spaghetti Tree. The trial went well I thought and Chase, the manager, said he would call me. But is this the "I'll call you" as in no I won't at all and you did terrible or is it really I will actually call you. I hope its the later option. He said they were looking to fill a 25-30 hours a week position which would be PERFECT! The guy who was training me had only worked there for 7 days and it seemed like he was there for longer. This restaurant seems very detail oriented which is good but its to the point where its obsessive. Everything is PERFECTLY in line and there are so many stupid and silly time-consuming things that it makes you wonder if customers will actually notice. Its not like its a 5 star restaurant, more like a wannabe but with average customers. Weird. But beggars can't be choosers and I hope I get the call from Chase. I also had an interview this week for a reception position at Morley's Real Estate. It went really well but their only concern was me only being here for a year and they are looking for someone even more long term. I made up some crap about 2 year visas but I'm not sure if he bought it. Considering its been over 48 hours and that's when he said he would call, I reckon I didn't get the job. Shucks! I'm trying to keep my spirits up and keep applying in hopes something for sure will come up.

The renting market is really competitive here. In the beginning the 5 of us, Hannah, Brennan, Rich, Simon and I were going to share a place. After about 5 minutes looking, we realized that was near to impossible so then we split up and Brennan, Hannah and I are going to try to find a place. After looking and viewing some places, we realized this is also very difficult. So no Brennan is on his own and its down to Hannah and I looking for a place, which today was the first day looking. We called and e-mailed about 10 places in hopes that one of these will work. Rentals here go really quickly and some people pay 3 months rent up front to secure the rental. Unfortunately we don't have that kind of money. Hopefully one of these house share places will take us in. It has come to the point where Hannah and I don't mind if we have to share a room, we've done it for 1.5 months now, what a few months more? And it might save us on rent by quite a bit.

Now after reading that, it sounds like Australia sucks. It doesn't! Melbourne is such a fun city with so many festivals, squares and places to check out. We have gone to this one bar a couple times called Nu Guernica which is this old cabin kind of feel. Pretty funky and awesome specials. We have also gone to few BYO (bring your own alcohol) restaurants in china town and tried out some small cafes that can be found in small lane ways. The city is always moving and people are always hustling. Its so different and so much fun to be a part of. I could sit down on a bench all day and just people watch for hours, that is if I had time or when I have a job. I have all of these chocolate places I want to try out and other small cafes and restaurants to experience....of course when I have a job and a somewhat of a steady income, if there is such a thing here. The international festival is going on and showing some free movies so I plan to see some. They also have rooftop cinemas and moonlight cinemas in the botanical gardens that I would like to venture out to. So many things to do here, so little time and money.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Adventures in New Zealand

Day 16 - January 20
Last night we arrived in Wellington, which is in the north island, pretty late so we slept in this morning. Andy showed us a lot of the city in between his job and an interview he had. He also told us that quite a bit of the city is built on sand to expand the size, and that they lie on a major fault line so if there was an earthquake, they would be screwed. We walked along the coast before Hannah, Brennan and I headed to Te Papa, the New Zealand Museum. This was our first museum of the trip which is weird considering thats what we went a lot to in Europe. This museum was so big and so amazing with everything that was filled in it. We saw the world's largest squid on display (dead of course) and learned about the Maoris, the equivalent to indians in New Zealand. The Maori culture and language is still very visible in New Zealand which I thought was really cool. After the museum we picked up some lamb that we were going to BBQ at Andy's and that is when we got to see our friend Ellie as well! They were explaining to us that the population of sheep in New Zealand is higher than the population of people. Interesting to think about.

Day 17 - January 21
Today we had to get up super early in the morning to catch a taxi to the ferry to take us to the south island. I was pretty tired so I slept most of the ferry ride but woke up right on time to see the amazing views of the south island coming in. It was full of green hills/mountains with patches of really low clouds surrounding them. It was just absolutely beautiful. After the ferry ride we had an hour to kill before the 6 hour bus ride to Christchurch where we were meeting Ellie, our next tour guide. When we were all together, her family kindly let us borrow there car and we drove up to their batch (vacation house) along Arthurs Pass. It was a cute little cottage in the mountains and made me think of Colorado a bit.

Day 18 - January 22
In the morning we woke up to Ellie blasting Sound of Music, quite entertaining. We took a short hike/bush walk/shrub walk along Arthur's Pass and saw the point between east side and west side. The mountains are quite different here than they are in Colorado. They are definitely taller and covered in various types of green trees and shrubbery, but still made me think of home. Then we drove to Fox Glacier where I got to see snow...and a glacier. The Glacier was amazing to see. Unfortunately we couldn't touch or walk on the glacier without a guide but we still got pretty close. You could actually smell the ice, which made us all think of the Titanic. There was a creek running off from the glacier with as you can imagine, extremely cold water, but it was so clear and pretty cool thing to see.

Day 19 - January 23
Today we drove to Queenstown, the well known backpackers town. On the way we stopped at this big open meadow with mountains in the background because it literally looked like it was from Sound of Music. So we all got out and ran out into the meadow while spinning around and singing, a little show for the cars driving by. For dinner we had a picnic by Wakatipu lake while listening to some techno from a nearby boat. Interesting setting for sure. We also learned about FaFa which is this mythical Maori creature that lives in the water and he creates the waves in the water when he is upset. I can't remember what it is actually called but we did the honors and called him FaFa. We thought it suited him. After dinner, we joined all the other backpackers and checked out the night scene. We went to the World Bar where we had there famous tea pot drinks which are basically a mixture of different spirits and juices. They come in actually tea pots and you pour them into these little shot glasses. Brennan and I played it safe and shared a Long Island Iced Tea, something we were familiar with. The backpackers vibe was definitely present in the town and there were people from all over the world.

Day 20 - January 24
Today was another long drive to Milford Sounds. We had a quick lunch stop in Te Anau before making our way to our hostel. The drive there was soooooo beautiful. We were driving in between up and down mountains that had tons of small waterfalls just streaming through them. So gorgeous. After getting to our hostel, we braved the cold and went swimming in the Claddao river, which was incredibly cold. I've never been in cold water like this. We warmed up a bit and walked to Milford Sounds, which we saw at dusk. It was so cool how you could see the different layers of mountains almost with the water in the middle. Pictures could not even capture how amazing of a sight this was. On our walk home we stopped on a little trail and saw glow worms, a first for me. That was pretty cool and surreal to see hundreds of these small glowing things spread out in the bushes. This place is full of wonderful things.

Day 21 - January 25
After our short stop in Milford Sounds we headed back to Queenstown for another night. On our way back, we stopped for a several hour hike and stretched our legs. We did the beginnings of Routeburn track and continued onto the summit hike where at the top you could see everything around you. At the top we were at 920 meters or 3,018 feet. So still not quite a mile high. After a pizza dinner in town we went on a blind fold pub crawl with our hostel. That was so much fun and interesting. We each had to get in pairs and take turns being blind folded while the other person would guide you to the next pub. I was paired with Ellie and Hannah and Brennan were paired. We went to 6 different places where at the entrance you received a different shot. Our roommates (we were in a room of 6 for the night) were from Holland and such fun and happy girls. They also went on the pub crawl and made the evening very fun. It was great to talk to them and hear about their experiences as well. Made me miss my dutch friends. There was also a dance contest, which Ellie won. Her prize was a free bungee jump!!! Amazing. Unfortunately she didn't want it and we were leaving somewhat early the next day so we couldn't use her prize at all. Oh well, at least we all know that she won.

Day 22 - January 26
Today was our 7-8 hour drive back to Christchurch where we stayed at Ellie's parents place. They had such a cool house, away from the city, where they had a pool (not heated but still fun to swim in), a tennis court made of grass and a croquet field. It was so cool. They also have a lot of land and cows. After a delicious dinner that her parents kindly made us, we played some croquet, I was behind for most of it but got 2nd in the end. I guess I did get dad's croquet skills after all.

Day 23 - January 27
Another really early morning to catch a flight back to Melbourne. Our vacation is over, and reality begins, well what reality would be in Australia anyways. It's great to be back but now we need to find a place to live and jobs. Oh boy. Wish us luck!