This post is going to be VERY long and tell you about the last 8 days. I haven’t written in about a week, for a few reasons. One: I haven’t had free WiFi anywhere, and even when I’ve paid there were connection problems. Two: Most of my posts would’ve been disheartening to read because of how furious the past week’s events have made me. Three: I haven’t really had time, nor known what time or day it was. Either way, there have been a few bumps in the road to say the least.
Where to even begin….
Los Angeles. LA both exceeded and failed to meet my expectations. The weather and the beauty of the surrounding areas exceeded my expectations. The “glamour” and the “Hollywood” aspect of LA failed to meet my expectations. When thinking of Hollywood and Los Angeles, I think bottle service, celebrities, fashion, glamour, all of the things seen in the magazines and on tv. I didn’t really find much glamour and the only celebrity I saw was Ben Mulroney (who? Yeah that’s exactly it, F list). I finally got over that my Hollywood fix was different than expected, and focused on the palm trees and beautiful weather.
We stayed with my brother in San Luis Obispo, and that is the best time I’ve had on my journey thus far. We drove along the coast, which took my breath away, and then ended up at the Santa Monica Pier. It was gorgeous, and we had the best burgers I’ve had in a long time! Then we found the Thompson Beverley Hills, checked in, and started to “live the life” on the rooftop pool. The rooftop had cabanas, lounges, poolside chairs, and a view of the entire city of Los Angeles and all of Beverly Hills. I just laid by the pool, being served cold beer, feeling like a Queen. That night we went out to a few different Hollywood bars, saw some live music, and met up with Tarik’s friend who showed us around the local Hollywood area. Overall, the Thompson was everything I expected and more.. The roof was even more beautiful at night when you could see the city lights and sunset.
The Thompson was right off of Rodeo Drive, so of course we had to go take a look. We saw cars worth millions of dollars and I’ve never seen rocks so big on the left hands of women as I did in Beverly hills. I went into Tiffany with a mission to get myself an “adventure beginning present”, but the boys wouldn’t let me. I was frustrated at first, but have now realized I don’t need to be a Tiffany wearing backpacker, anymore than I am already. On our last day, we went to see Hollywood Blvd which reminded me of a place like Dundas Square, just with a bunch of Michael Jackson look-a-like’s running around in it. The cool part was seeing Frank Sinatra’s hand prints outside of the theater. After Hollywood Blvd. Tarik drove us to the airport. Kenny and Chris needed their last Subway fix for a few weeks, so we found a subway, ate, and then finally got to LAX. The three of us were so excited to get on the plane, have a nights sleep, and wake up in the morning for a week in the Fijian Islands. Little did we know ..
We arrived at LAX with 3 hours before our flight departed to find out that our flight has been cancelled. Sorry, “delayed”. We were told to come back in the morning for a 9:30am flight, then told it was going to be 3:00pm instead of 9:30. Air Pacific put us up in a hotel, the Marriott, which was really nice, and we googled Fiji to see what the problem was. We discovered that the flood was said to be worse than the one in 2009 and that the local Fijians were started to become diseased by eating contaminated flood foods. Nadi, the city where the airport is, was covered in water, and the flood was only going to get worse. Air Pacific had known our flight was cancelled since Thursday, and decided not to let any of the passengers know. After finding out we were about to fly into a “state of emergency” and natural disaster, we started trying to call Flight Centre and our trip interruption insurance company. Because it was now Sunday, we couldn’t get ahold of anyone to help us change our flight arrangements let alone give us a clear and timely (yes, I said it) of our vacation plans.
After no sleep, we went to the airport in the morning to try and change our flights. We had two options, fly straight to Sydney and never see Fiji – and waste our $900 on that leg of our trip. OR fly to Fiji, despite weather conditions, and continue on our way. After back and forth, pro’s and con’s, we decided to go to Fiji anyway and give it our best shot. We got on the 10 hour flight, and landed at 9:45 pm Fijian time. We then waited in a line for 2 hours for Air Pacific to give us promised accommodation because of the delayed flight. The lady that gave us a hotel for the night, asked us why we even flew to Fiji and said we should start looking for the first flight out…. Anyway, when we got to the hotel there were toads, cockroaches, and rat droppings all over our room. We went back to the lobby to find more guests wanting to leave this hotel. We waited for another shuttle, and then got to another hotel. This one wasn’t a hotel, but more like a hostel. This hotel wasn’t anything like a Marriott but it didn’t have cockroaches, so we were more than happy with a place to sleep. We woke up in the morning, and were still not sure where we should stay, if we should stay, or what to do – pretty much stranded in Fiji. Normally, I would have NO complaints and would be fine sleeping on the beach and enjoying the sun, but with two tropical cyclones heading straight to Nadi, I felt like I was in a bad dream.
We went back to the airport three times Monday and were waitlisted on flights to Syndey for the next three days. The nice people at our Fijian hostel advised us to “get out while we can” before the hurricane and cyclone hit. He said we were in the eye of the storm, and it would only get worse from here. Luckily, we got on our first waitlisted flight and arrived in Sydney at 10:30pm Monday night. In Fiji we were told they would put us up in a hotel for Monday night because we were never supposed to be staying in Sydney to begin with. When we arrived, several airline staff told us that they weren’t advised about the hotel and we were on our own. The nice lady at the customs desk told us we should wait until 3:30am and speak to an Air Pacific rep directly to get our accommodation. So, we slept on the airport floor from about midnight until 3 in the morning and went upstairs to wait by the Air Pacific desk. Air Pacific Rep didn’t show up until 5am – and checked in an entire flight before even considering our situation. Finally at 6:30 he apologized for the “inconvenience” and gave us a hotel voucher until 6pm. Thanks for the 12 hours, jerk. After spending the last 5 days in an airport, we were happy with the 12 hours with a bed and waited for the airport shuttle. We got the airport hotel, ate breakfast (now 7am) and then went to bed. At 2:30pm we woke up, had lunch and started hostel searching. We called about 6 different places, found one with availability and we took another shuttle to the hostel. FINALLY! We had a place to call home, at least for two nights.
Finding Beauty in the Beast
Yes, the last 6 days were nothing short of inconvenient and exhausting. But while in the shuttle to this hostel I read something on the streets of Sydney “Found beauty in the most ugly”. I didn’t know who they were talking about or what, but in chalk on the side of the Sydney road, I was inspired.. and decided that rather dwelling on the trip of a lifetime being a disaster, I should take it all as it comes and enjoy the ride. I think between homesickness and lack of familiarity, combining with the tropical storm and airport sleeping, I was making myself miserable. This trip is probably the one thing in the last year that I have actually planned. I was really proud of the planning and precision I took in choosing our flights and saving thousands of dollars to make it “perfect”. When it didn’t work out as I planned I became frustrated and regretful. Also, I may add .. its difficult traveling with two grown men who have backpacked before. I lived with my boyfriend and his brother for a few months in Toronto, but traveling together is another thing. I am so thankful for their company, but sometimes it is hard to make three people happy. I have no decided to take a back seat, instead of taking the reigns as I normally do. I am sitting in the hostel now, taking some time to myself while the boys went on a run. I enjoy “my time” and have accepted that it’s okay for me to take some, without feeling selfish.
Today, we are going to take the siteseeing tour of Sydney. It will show us the Opera House and many famous landmarks. The best part is the tour is a hop on- hop off tour for 24 hours. So we can have a free ride to our next hostel tomorrow near Bondi Beach. Our hostel is called the FunkHouse and it is right near Kings Cross, in central Sydney. The architecture reminds me of a European culture, so detailed with little quaint roads and patios everywhere. The weather isn’t good at all, raining every day actually – with the overdraft of the Fiji flooding, but it wont stop us! The boys want to go see the Sydney Aquarium later today, which means, I have to come face to face with sharks. Yesterday I felt sick even thinking about it, and anyone who knows me knows the one thing in life I am afraid of; SHARKS. But, the boys have made sacrifices for me this trip, I will 100% cry, but I too will make sacrifices and face a shark. I may give it the finger though.
I apologize for writing a novel, but it’s a week’s worth of details. I really wish I could’ve enjoyed Fiji. The culture was amazing; it was just an unfortunate circumstance. I did learn though, that “BULA” means hello.. and they use the word Bula for almost everything there. Hello, goodbye, how are you. I feel like they sometimes just say it. I also learned that the government is a dictatorship and that the police in Fiji are all working under the same person – so they aren’t really there to help the middle class Fijians. In Fiji you are not allowed to do ANY sort of business, even have a meeting, unless the government has approved it without getting into serious trouble. You can’t do research either, even if it is part of a University program or just your own research.
Oh! I forgot to mention the Melbourne man we met, named Josh. He told us a few tips about the city and said that we are able to start renting a place in the middle of the month, because in Melbourne you are charged weekly rates instead of monthly. This was great news, seeing as we arrive to Melbourne in the middle of Feb. Now we can just start apartment hunting immediately. He also said there were lots of furnished places, and the two bedrooms were about $1200-1800 a month, which is not bad compared to Toronto. I’ve also discovered, I don’t enjoy “backpacking”. I mean, I love city hopping and bunk beds, and makeshift kitchens, new places, etc. But with my scoliosis (my spine being crooked), the actually BACKPACK part of backpacking isn’t working too well when carrying a backpack twice my size. My body is getting furious with me, and my shoulders and back are refusing to cooperate. Im hoping that by the time Thailand comes – I figure it out. I either ditch everything I have and literally travel with nothing. Or revert to my rolling suitcase and send my backpack home. Sorry mom, I thought I would love it! Maybe it just needs a bit of repacking or shifting the weight, or changing the way it fits. Either way, I have to fix something.. or I will become a cripple by this time next year.
Anyway, the boys just got back from their run – the rain is picking up I guess. So we will probably play some cards, maybe some gin rummy. Europeans vs Canadians. Also, Chris tricked me by feeding me vodka and mango juice in his canteen for breakfast, by telling me it was water. I’m sure there’s more where that came from. This adventure is only beginning and the streets of Sydney will be seeing us in full form tonight.
Thank God for Good Company.
Till Next Time ….