Tuesday, 23 December 2014

So sad to leave and I haven't even arrived yet

So, it has been a while. Plans have been made, steps taken, it's coming together! We applied for our Australian Working Holiday Visas and, when I checked the next day, we had already been approved! That was a huge step and a huge relief. It was actually happening! 

While working on this past job, the production was using my credit card to book flights and other things. They spent tens of thousands of dollars on my card. By the end of the show in November, my husband and I had enough flight points to book two one-way tickets to Australia. We transferred the points to where we needed them and now our flights are officially booked! We fly out of Toronto on June 1. We had to push it back a bit further than we had wanted because we will be working in Winnipeg, Manitoba again starting in February. That show won't end until mid-May and we wanted a couple weeks to get everything ready. We decided on a city to live as well. We originally thought we would live in Sydney, but from what I read, Sydney is really expensive. I looked up which cities were cheapest and Brisbane popped up on the list. We decided this would be a perfect place for us to start. We land in Brisbane the morning of June 3, 2015! I know I said it before, but now it's REALLY actually happening!!

Once our first Winnipeg job ended, we flew back to Toronto and spent just under two weeks packing up all of our stuff. We drove truckloads of stuff to Goodwill (and to my little sister). We had 1-800-Got-Junk come and take away almost everything else in our apartment, and then we drove to the in-laws with the small amount of stuff we were keeping and loaded it into their basement and their barn. We kept our bed, one desk, our kitchen stuff (pots, pans, and dishes) and our linens (towels, sheets, blankets). We also had a couple boxes of important papers and DVDs we didn't want to get rid of and photo albums. This stuff will stay in storage until we get back from Australia (if we come back hahahaha). It felt good to have all of this dealt with. Our apartment is cleaned out and we let our landlord know we were out and wouldn't be renewing our  lease once it was up. Now we are homeless, haha. But it feels awesome to have another piece of the puzzle in place. No turning back! 

The minimum amount you need in your bank account to be let into Australia on a Working Holiday Visa is 5000$ AUD. I now have enough in my savings to cover that for both my husband and myself! You also need to prove you have a way out of the country, either a return flight booked, or enough additional money to purchase a flight home. We have decided on a slightly different route. Recently we put down a deposit for a 24-day cruise from Sydney to Vancouver, Canada! With our next job, my husband will save up enough to pay this cruise off before we leave for Australia, and I will continue to build on our savings so we have as much money as possible and less chance of failure. Sometimes I am actually more excited for the cruise home than for the actual Australia holiday itself!! I've been on a couple cruises and I think it will be such an awesome way to end our trip. We stop in Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Samoa, and Hawaii! It is going to be the best ever. 

I feel like we have accomplished a lot so far for this trip! We both have unlocked phones ready to go so all we will need to do is buy a new SIM card in Australia. We have looked into a couple ways of transferring our money to our Australian bank account when we get one. We have checked out furnished apartments online and airbnb rentals. I have my Lonely Planet Australia guide book, and I just finished reading "In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson. I watched a movie called Tracks about a girl who walks across the Western Australia desert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean and then got the book when I found out it was based on that. Everything is just making me sad though. I know one year isn't going to be enough time. There is so much to see and so much to do. I planned out a month-long, cross-country train trip thinking it might be a good idea to see the whole country before we picked a place to settle down and find jobs. It would cost us almost all of our money though so we know we have to get jobs and save up money before we do anything like that. I have been looking for blogs about people who did Working Holidays in Australia but haven't found very much. I just need to know everything there is to know, is that so much to ask?? 

I started thinking we would work for the first 6 months, save up like crazy, and then spend the rest of our time travelling across the country. BUT then I remembered that there is no way I am going to be that close to New Zealand and not go there... and Indonesia will be so close too...and I really want to go to Asia... DO YOU SEE?!? This is my brain right now. It is excited and happy and sad and nervous all at once. I am so sad to leave Australia and I haven't even arrived yet. It is comforting to know that if I really wanted to stay an extra year, I could work really hard and find a job on a farm for 3 months (or multiple farms) and apply for an extension. I know we would be able to push our cruise back to the next year as well. 

My ideal trip would probably go like this: 

-Work and live in one or two cities in Australia for a year (3 months of that being on a farm eligible for the extension) 
-Get the extension
-Spend our second year in Australia mostly travelling everywhere with maybe an occasional job thrown in here and there 
-Somehow magically have enough money to then get a working holiday in New Zealand and spend a year there as well.
-Take a side trip to Indonesia 
-Take another side trip to Japan and China
-Take our cruise home 2-3 years later than originally planned (how long is the working holiday in New Zealand?) OMG I'LL BE 30 AND EVERYTHING WILL BE RUINED!!! No I won't ...I will be 29. Phew. 

This is my new plan. What could possibly go wrong?! 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Leslie Street Spit on the Down Low

The Leslie Street Spit, also known as Tommy Thompson Park, started out as a place to drop off junk such as rock, gravel, and building materials. Over the years it evolved. It still serves the same purpose for construction but now it doubles as a wildlife park as well. Birds thrive in this peninsula, in fact, it is one of the best places for bird watching in the entire Greater Toronto Area. It is completely man-made, but nature sort of took over and turned it into something beautiful. One thing I love so much about Toronto is places like this. You can be in the middle of the city and feel like you're miles away in peaceful wilderness. There are great views of the Toronto skyline from the park as well, I'd say even better than from Toronto Island. 

The park is closed during weekdays because it is considered an open construction area. My husband and I went for a bike ride one early evening and just decided to squeeze past the closed gate. We are rebels like that....haha. For anyone who has thought of checking out the Spit, I definitely suggest doing it the way we did. We saw about 4 other people in the park the entire time we were there. This was the only time I have ever been there so I am not sure how it is on the weekend but I am guessing it can get pretty crowded. It felt like our own secret place. 

I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures because my husband just wanted to go for a nice bike ride and I was ruining it by stopping every 5 seconds to take a picture, haha. I had planned to go back by myself to take more but I never got the chance. Now I am out of town until at least January which is too bad, I would have loved to go back. Here are some of the pictures I did get to take...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Cheltenham Badlands

Back in July, my sister and I drove out to the Cheltenham Badlands. It's not a far drive from Toronto and it is a really cool place. Surrounded by trees, there is this rolling patch of land that is just dry red dirt. It's actually looks kind of other worldly. The badlands are right off a road too so it seems extra weird. You just park the car, get out, and you're there! I think it is part of the Bruce trail, or at least part of a side trail that connects with the Bruce trail. Well, a picture's worth a thousand words....

It was really hard to get a picture without any people in it! It's crowded on weekends!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hopefully Australia.

If you read my blog from beginning to end, you would notice that I change my mind constantly and I rarely follow through with the things I set out to do. For once, I just want to finish what I started. Hopefully that thing will be Australia. Plans for a working holiday in Australia have come and gone and come again. I never wanted the plans to go. In fact, I was really upset for a long time when it happened, but they are back now, and the timing couldn't be better! 

In mid-August, my husband and I were both between jobs (our jobs are almost like contract work). I was upset about giving up our plans for Australia, and desperate for travel so I thought why not take the small amount of money we had saved up, and take a road trip halfway across the country? I had never been to BC or the east coast of Canada. My husband had a flight booked to visit friends back in Manitoba later in the month so we didn't have a lot of time for this trip. BC would have taken too long, so we went East! It was really fun, even though we were short on time so most days were spent just driving. We camped along the way to save money which is something we had never done before. It was a really great experience and I am so happy we did it even though it cost A LOT more than we had originally planned for. It was worth it though. Anyway, the details are for another post. The part of our trip that is concerned with this post is the drive home. 

We were nearing the end of our second day of three days driving back to Toronto, we were planning on making it to Fredericton, NB and had booked a campsite at a park near there for the night. Unfortunately, we only made it to Moncton. I was driving and pulled over on the Trans Canada highway because there was something in my eye and I couldn't exactly get it out while I was trying to pay attention to the road. I found an area of the highway with a huge paved shoulder and went to the very edge of that shoulder. I turned on our hazard lights and put the car in park and while I was picking at my eye someone smashed into us going full highway speed. She hit the back driver's side. It was an extremely scary experience. We went to the hospital, and miraculously, we were completely fine. The doctors were amazed at how well we were doing after an accident of that magnitude. We must have one heck of a guardian angel watching out for us. It could have been so, so, soooo much worse. As awful as it was, there was a silver lining...

We owed a lot of money on that car. We bought it new, and we had another car loan that we had added on to that one when we got it. Our monthly payments were pretty big. Our main obstacle for Australia, when we were planning before, was this car loan. There is no way we could have saved enough extra money to make the payments every month while we were gone, and we wouldn't have been able to sell it for enough to pay off the loan. Our insurance company gave us almost exactly enough to pay off our loan...I was ecstatic. I didn't think they would give us nearly enough to cover it. (I love Desjardins Insurance!) Not only do we not have to worry about what to do with our car now but we also have a much easier time saving because our monthly bills have decreased drastically. We have no real need of a car right now because I actually got a job for the next couple of months working in Manitoba and I have a shared rental car while I am here working. I am making more money than I usually make at this job because I am stepping up and doing a job that is above my level. On top of that, I am getting per diem every week! I figure I can save almost enough for Australia by the end of this job, which will be the end of November. We are paying rent on our apartment in Toronto until March, so we figure we will leave either March or April, depending on how much we can save up! 

We are going to apply for our Working Holiday Visas this month! This is it non-existent readers! This is the one I follow through on...

I stole this pic from the internet...from this website which has beautiful photos

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Most Beautiful Place In Ontario - Day 3

Our third day in the Bruce Peninsula started out pretty disappointing, but ended up being surprisingly wonderful. We had planned to go to Flowerpot Island that day. There are ferries that take you there and pick you back up after a certain amount of time. We wanted to go out there and hike the trails on the island. It is supposed to be really beautiful and the flowerpot formations are unreal. When we got to the ferry company to buy tickets, we were shocked. The prices were completely unreasonable. We had already spent way more money than we should have on this trip so we decided against Flowerpot Island. 

The previous day, we had actually tried to go to the Bruce Peninsula National Park to do some hiking and see some sights. By the time we got there, the park was completely full and they were not letting anyone else in so we had to turn around. Since Flowerpot Island didn't work out, we decided we would try our luck at the park again. It was a bit earlier than we had tried to go the day before so we thought we had an okay chance of getting in this time. As luck would have it, we got in with no problem! 

After parking in the parking lot that we were assigned at the gates, we walked towards the Cyprus Lake trails. It actually worked out so much better getting into the Bruce Peninsula National Park on the third day instead of the second day of our trip. We had to walk quite far. I don't think we would have enjoyed it much if we hadn't had a day to recover from that first, excruciating hike, haha. 

The paths took us through forests around a couple small lakes until we got to Lake Huron at Indian Head Cove. I loved the boardwalk paths through the forest, they were adorable and beautiful and magical.

I loved all the twisty trees
The cove was PACKED! People were all over the place. At first I was kind of sad that there were so many people there, it was completely different than our first hike where there was not a soul in sight for hours. Since there was so many people, my sister and I heard about a cool way to get down to the cave below called the Grotto, we wouldn't have found out about it if it wasn't for all the people there! From above we couldn't really see the way down. When we decided we would do it and got down to the entrance, I almost wanted to turn back! It was just a tiny hole leading down into darkness... I am a big scaredy cat, so from what I saw, it did not look like my idea of a good time. I followed my sister down anyways and I am so glad I did! It was really cool and not even very difficult. 

Standing up here I heard someone say "This is why blue is my favourite colour"

This is the hole we had to climb into...

Following people out the other side of the hole

Climbing down into the Grotto
Being in the grotto was awesome! It was my second favourite place of the trip. (The first being basically all the lookouts from the first day's hike...) You can swim under if you are an amazing swimmer or if you have scuba gear, I heard someone say that people have died trying though...

The view out from the Grotto

We climbed back up and continued our hike through the boulder beach and around to another small lake...and then another one after that I think, haha. It was a nice hike through the forest and I went swimming in one of the small lakes off of the trail. It's a beautiful hike and the paths around the small lakes are very nice and peaceful. 

View towards boulder beach

Someone scratched in the word YOLO on this sign, hahahaha

We got back to our car and drove into Tobermory for dinner at the Crowsnest Pub again and spent the rest of our last night in the Bruce Peninsula just hanging out at the Bed and Breakfast on our balcony. We left after a quick breakfast the next morning and made the long drive back to Toronto. I still would love to live up in this area. It was ridiculously beautiful and we hardly explored any of it! If it wasn't so cold in the winter and if there was more to do career-wise up there, I would be seriously considering moving up there! I just don't know what I would do for a job... maybe I will figure something out, haha. 

I would recommend a trip to the Bruce Peninsula for anybody and everybody. I can't wait to go back! If I hadn't injured my foot recently, I probably would have made another trip out there by now. Next time I will definitely be checking out Flowerpot Island! I wish I could spend the rest of Summer there...and Fall....

Most Beautiful Place In Ontario - Day 2

On my second day in the Bruce Peninsula, I woke up with sore legs and blisters all over my feet. We decided we would be taking it a bit easier that day. We packed all of our stuff into the car because we were staying at a different Bed and Breakfast for the rest of our trip. 

Our first stop of the day was to Devil's Monument. It is this huge natural formation of rocks. It is kind of like stacks of flat rocks. It's called a "flowerpot" because of the shape. It starts off thinner at the bottom and gets wider at the top. I had seen pictures of it before when I was researching which trails I should take in the Bruce Peninsula area and thought it didn't look that impressive. It is really cool in person though! Pictures just don't do it justice. It looks so small in my pictures, haha. 

The trail we took was quite small. You walk through forest for a little bit (where we are sure we heard a rattlesnake right by the trail, we ran away so we didn't see it...) until you come to a set of stairs that leads down to a rocky area and towards the lake. You have to walk down the rocks to get to Devil's Monument and the lake is just beyond that. 

You can see how thin the base is
The area had a lot of stacked rocks like this and small waterfalls would come through the cracks. It was pretty!

This is the view of Devil's Monument from the bottom! It's huge!

We walked down to the lake and then back the way we came to get to the car. I think we were only there for about half an hour or 45 minutes.

After the Devil's Monument trail we drove down to Singing Sands beach. There was a trail there too, which we took. I didn't take very many pictures at the beach. We went further along the shore to swim so there would be less people. That far down the beach wasn't very pretty. There were rocks and plants poking out of the sand. It was a very nice place to swim though. I couldn't believe how warm the water was! It was a huge difference compared to swimming on the other side of the peninsula. You could walk into the water forever and not go past your waist. Lake Huron is the clearest lake I have ever been in. There were minnows swimming around and you could see them everywhere. If you stood still, they would come swim at your feet, it was so weird, haha.

After spending a bit of time swimming and walking some of the trails, we headed into Tobermory for food. Our favorite place there was the Crowsnest Pub. I was obsessed with the smokey tequila lime chicken wings. They were amazing. 

After dinner and some drinks we went to our second B&B (Caribbean of the North). We stayed in the Nautical King Suite. It was very nice! The suite was on top of a garage so it was our own little place. We had our own bathroom and a balcony on each side of the garage! One overlooked the lake as it was a lakefront property. 

View from the balcony on the stormy second night of our stay

The second day of our trip to the Bruce Peninsula was very laid back. It was a nice change from the exhausting day before but I was ready for more adventure by our third and last full day!