Australia, day 1: A triathlon of a trek (+ an announcement!)

It’s 5:00 am on a Thursday here in Australia. My body thinks it’s noon on a Wednesday in California and that I should either be at work or devouring buckwheat pancakes at brunch (if only). Alas, here I am, hunched over my brightly lit laptop and likely the only non-beach jogger awake right now at this hotel.

Oh, right. It might be good if I mention what’s going on with the trip in the title. Yes, I will be in Australia for the next nine days! The last time I wrote about traveling was some fourteen months ago and, since then, I’ve been inundating you with hypothetical letters to teenage girls and job search pep talks. What can I say? We’re not known for having a niche market over here at IC. I write what my frantic little mind deems appropriate to write at the time and I cross my fingers that you guys get something out of it each time. Knowing that I have 2 or 3 of you who do just warms my heart, let me tell you.

Now, I’ve experimented with different types of travel blogging in the past – some more review-focused, some more story-focused – but I think the approach I’m going to take this time is going to be much more visual. After all, I have a big-girl camera now. One does not complain about camera crappiness for so long and not buy a new one to take nice pictures with. Especially in freaking Australia. Australia!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a logophile if you’ve ever met one. Words were my first love and I want to write hundreds of them on pages all the time. But I’m learning that so much can be said with so little. I will likely put a funny/interesting story or two in each entry, along with a few travel tips, but I’m really hoping that you get a new desktop background out of one of my entries. I’ll try to blog every single day, though it’ll always be 14-17 hours ahead of you stateside homies. Yes, I’ll be writing to you…from the future!!!!

Anyways, since today was our first day in Port Douglas, Queensland, and the five of us (my dad, my dad’s girlfriend, my two brothers, and I who are on this trip together) are the real-life embodiment of the walking dead, we didn’t go crazy today. Sadly, the big-girl camera was too tired to come out, so these are pretty Snapchat-esque. As in, directly from Snapchat (with some ethical saturation editing to match what my little eyes actually saw, of course). Voila:

small blue jellyfish
We found a tiny blue jellyfish on the beach in Port Douglas. He was too cute, even if he wasn’t with us anymore. Is that disrespectful?
cairns beach australia
Sorry in advance for keeping the geotag intact.
port douglas beach australia
The beach near our hotel, the Pullman Resort, in Port Douglas.

I didn’t eat dinner last night, because I figured I had begun my day with Ruffles and ended it with french fries and that I’d be good. A mistake was made there. I’m about to eat my lampshade.

Up ahead in just a few hours: snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef (yeah, I never thought I’d say that in my life. Ever). Hopefully, tomorrow’s entry will NOT put you to sleep like this one might have.

Speaking of sleep, before I go catch, like, 30 more minutes of it, I have a special announcement. I am starting a new blog! It will be called Building Your Bold and will be focused on helping women (or anyone, really) find confidence in their twenties and beyond. I know that confidence has been my biggest issue for the majority of my life and the world we live in doesn’t make it any easier on me (or, rather, us). We tend to think these issues will subside after teenagedom, but we are more often than not sorrrrrely mistaken about that. Since I know many of you feel the same way, I think it’s time that we have a safe space specifically to deal with and talk about this issue. I hope to launch the site by the end of the month, so I’ll keep you posted! Yay for building confidence!

That said, IC will, of course, continue in full swing, but I might be narrowing my niche back down to experience/lifestyle/travel blogging. My goal is to try to return to my roots by focusing on local (as in, LA area) adventures as well as outside travel, but we will see how that works out (don’t you love how sure I sound??). In addition, I will try and post at least once a week consistently on here from now on. Yay for goals!

Until tomorrow (er, 15ish hours from now), my cornsnakes! If you’re stateside, have a fantastic rest of your day. You’re in for a treat tomorrow.

-H

Travel tip: For long flights, pack a small, easy-to-access bag in your carry-on with a toothbrush, a razor, deodorant, face wipes, moisturizer, a hairbrush/comb, and a change of at least some of your clothes (I like to do a new shirt, new underwear, and new socks). You won’t just look way more fabulous, you’ll feel a lot better. Go on, girl (or boy, or however you identify)!

UK and Ireland 2014: Edinburgh, Part Dos – Running on our Own Time

Days 3 and 4

Heh. The title of this entry makes me laugh. Primarily because of the time we stayed up till (5:00 am on Tuesday) and woke up at (3:00 pm that same day), secondarily because of the running we were doing a mere two hours ago. More on why that’s funny later. So, you’d think that waking up at 3:00 and leaving the house at 5:45 would impede our options and potentially our fun, but we wholeheartedly disagree.

Following is the recap; you know the drill by now:

Stayed: Same place. Shower and I got into an argument this morning yet again, so I’m still pretty sore at it. Also, “stayed” is more accurate then sleep, as we haven’t slept since the above described timeframe and thus did not sleep Tuesday night.

Indulged: Another stumble-upon dream, The Devil’s Advocate. I can’t say enough good things about this place, so read up on my TripAdvisor review and see for yourself.

Adventured: We hastened to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions (click here for TripAdvisor review) around 7:00 pm, which sits in an old, white building just before and to the right of Edinburgh Castle. To recap, the views from up top are breathtaking and my stomach is still hurting from laughing so hard at some of the pictures we took in there of us playing with the illusion displays. Following our side-trip to this entertaining little gem of E-Town, we walked around the city a bit longer before stumbling upon Devil’s Advocate and savoring our proper Scottish meal. I did fail to mention in my TA review that the DA (yes, I love acronyms) not only has excellent food and service but truly evokes the feeling of an Italian enoteca, thus giving it that posh, dark, cavey look. Just in case you’re a decor dork like me and were wondering.

Dinner was followed by completely unpremeditated bar hopping. We started by stumbling upon Revolution, a vodka bar filled with people who actually made us feel old. In no way did this stop us from tearing up the (empty) dance floor, so we stayed for about two hours and effectively inspired a good 3-5 additional people to break it down with us. I’m proud!

We next opted for a change of scenery at the Grassmarket hideaway, Bongo, which played hardcore underground hip-hop and was loaded with hipsters. It sits of a fabulously seedy and dingy alley, making it all the better. I think we just got a bit turned off when a female stranger came up and asked us if we liked Spanish men. Like, yes, hello, it’s nice to meet you as well? (“June, I’m totally down to leave.”)

Stop 3 was a short escape route down from Bongo known as Dropkick Murphys. Whether or not it was named after the band, this classic Irish pub was just as awesome and filled with interesting characters to boot. We met a couple of Australians, another American, and a Swiss guy, but the most memorable human being in that bar was, far and away, Creeper Chris. Let me tell you, dear Readership, about Creeper Chris. CC is your typical Estonian male in his mid-twenties just looking to travel and have a good time. Except his idea of courtship is that handsy hellos, far-prolonged stares, and introducing himself as an expletive is appropriate. Per his accompaniment at the bar, he apparently does this on the reg. Power to him if this has honestly worked for him.

I found him enormously entertaining until he was effectively stalking my partner-in-crime, at which point I knew we had to ninja our way out of the situation. Our first plan was running downstairs to the bathroom, where we posted for about 15 minutes. Finally, with the aid of our new Aussie pal, J, we managed to escape his wrath and run home for a few hours before our 4:00 am hike. Yes, you heard me correctly. We went out to three different bars, went home to change, and went straight back out to vigorously exercise. But would you turn this down if you had the chance to see it?

photo 2-1

photo 5 photo 4-1photo 3-1

While we were originally aiming to hike all the way up to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, we were still able to see some stunning scenery set to June’s personal rendition of “Misty Mountains Cold” from The Hobbit. And seriously, if you were there, you’d know that there could not have been a better song to describe it. Cold and wet as we were at the end of it, we were proud of ourselves for pulling through, especially when it got unusually warm and windy towards the end. Speaking of the humor of the title I spoke of earlier, I hate running with a fervor and found myself running just to prevent frostbite at that point (melodramatic, but felt accurate in the moment).

The rest of our day was largely set aside for traveling and logistics planning, as we took the train from Edinburgh to Fort William today. While not much has happened here, we’ve enjoyed the scenery and smaller-town feel of Fort William, even in-spite of the somewhat spotty Internet situation. Ah, the trials of the Y Generation, am I right?

On the train from Edinburgh to Fort William, approximately one hour outside of FW.
On the train from Edinburgh to Fort William, approximately one hour outside of FW.
June chillin'!
June chillin’!
A park dear the heart of Fort William overlooking the sea.
A park dear the heart of Fort William overlooking the sea.
Fort William's ferry pier: the Gateway to Skye.
Fort William’s ferry pier: the Gateway to Skye.

That reminds me – before traveling less-urban Scotland, do bear the following in mind:

  • Bruno Mars was right: everyday it will rain. Not hard, but it will. Be prepared for this and bring some water proof clothing.
  • Cash is accepted everywhere, but many credit card machines only take cards with chips built into them. If you can, bring a good amount of cash and bring a card with a chip in it before you arrive.
  • Finally, as mentioned, Wi-Fi is not extraordinarily prevalent everywhere, so bear that in mind. Plan accordingly and make sure you have all of your information on hand prior to going places, rather than relying on your phone to be able to look it up for you. I suppose this can apply anywhere you travel that’s less urban or even just in any foreign country.

As we’ve now corralled ourselves in a local pub to gather our bearings, I’ll probably have to step off in favor of wrapping up our planning necessities. I don’t see it as a chore, I see it as a “catalyst of fun”, so even though I’m somewhat in the fetal position in this bar stool, I’m cool. I could use some food, though.

Until tomorrow, kiddos!

– H

Thought of the day: Learn to sleep anywhere for short bursts of time in case you need to make up for a poor night’s sleep. You’ll pretty much become invincible.