Trek to Everest Base Camp

It has been really hard for me to write this post as looking back on this trip is bittersweet. Many of you know that I did not actually make it all the way to Everest Base Camp and as amazing as the trek was, it was still hard to look back knowing I didn’t make it. I have made peace with it, but even now, it is easy to think back and ask myself of all the what ifs. What if I had taken it easier the day before I got sick? What if I had taken that extra rest day that I was offered? What if I had flown from Colorado altitude instead of Australia? The fact of the matter is, I just got sick. I work medical for Ironmans all the time and people come into the medical tent who have done a million and one of these and for some reason that day, their body tells them no. They are crushed and sad and don’t understand why this is happening to them. They are in incredible shape and they are so experienced, but that day was just not their day. That is how I got to this point of being at peace with not making it. For whatever reason, it was just not meant to be and I am a huge believer in everything happens for a reason. I know without a doubt that I will be back and will make this trek again and I WILL make it to base camp. To clarify one thing though, we were actually doing a loop and base camp is just a trail that comes off that loop…

…I did make the full loop, I just had to sit at the next town (in Dingboche) and recuperate while I waited for my guide and trekking partner to do it. It took me a long time to get to this place of being okay and realizing that what we did was still a huge accomplishment.

Okay, let me start from the beginning. My trekking partner was Zach, who I actually didn’t know going into this trip. I was originally going to do this trek with my friend Anna who had also invited her friend Zach. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Anna was unable to come on the trip. Now, me and Zach could have easily decided not to go, but we agreed that we both still were up for the adventure with a complete stranger. It could have gone one of two ways, but lucky for us we got along so well and had a lot in common. We had our ups and downs for sure as is expected when you go from not knowing each other to fast friends to spending every waking moment together on the trek. I usually pride myself on how I love to travel alone, but I was very happy I had him there for me as I tried to wrap my head around not making it to base camp. Zach, thank you for putting up with me throughout this whole journey. You have seen me at my best and seen me at my worst. We had an amazing time and I could not have asked for a better trekking partner. I experienced a whirlwind of emotions all at once that I didn’t know what to do with: being sad, then happy, then not wanting to be alone, then wanting to be alone, and despite these weird mood swings after the trek, I can say we are still amazing friends and I am happy to have had you by my side. I realize this could have been a very different experience without you there. They say Everest does weird things to your emotions and moods and they (whoever they are) would be correct. Honestly, it is probably due to the lack of oxygen. Someone randomly had a pulse ox at 17,500 feet and my oxygen was reading 72%!

Now to the actual trek! It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life. The views we got to see were incredible and unreal and I still cannot believe that we got to experience it.

DAY 1 (April 12, 2019)

Ramechhap-Lukla

Ramechhap airport getting ready to fly to Lukla

The only way into and out of Lukla is either by plane or by foot. Lukla is the most dangerous airport in the world due to its short runway and dangerous terrain on either side of the runway.

Lukla-Phakding

4.29 miles, 722 feet elevation gain

After arriving in Luka, we wasted no time and started out trek. Pictured in the left photo is Om (our guide) and on the right, Kul (our porter).

DAY 2 (April 13, 2019): Phadking-Namche Bizzare

8.00 Miles, 3,776 feet elevation gain

Made it to Namche Bizzare today. This is the last “big town”. Little did we know, this was also the last time we were warm for a while.

DAY 3 (April 14, 2019): Acclimatization Day in Namche Bizzare

2.86 Miles, 1,364 ft elevation gain

Day hike around Namche to the Panoramic View Point. There was a possibility to see Everest today, but sadly it was too cloudy.

DAY 4 (April 15, 2019): Namche Bizzare-Thame

5.92 miles, 2,088 feet elevation gain

We were able to see some pretty spectacular views on today’s hike. Zach of course, being an engineer, was fascinated with all the suspension bridges. I have to admit they were very cool.

DAY 5 (April 16, 2019): Thame-Lumde

6.12 miles, 2,156 feet elevation gain

Today was my birthday! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to spend my birthday in such an incredible place.

DAY 6 (April 17, 2019): Lumde-over Renjo La Pass-Gokyo

7.82 miles, 3,547 feet elevation gain

Renjo La Pass (Elevation: 17, 550 feet) was our first mountain pass of the trek. It was incredibly hard, but so beautiful.

DAY 7 (April 18, 2019): Gokyo-Thange

5.32 miles, 2,501 feet elevation gain

Hike to the top of Gokyo Ri (Elevation: 17,575 feet) where we were finally able to see Everest! It is the tallest mountain directly behind us with the wind blowing off it.

After we summited Gokyo Ri, we went on to Thange. Unfortunately, this was where I started to feel like I was catching a cold. I was starting to cough and get some sinus pressure. I was also hiking slower than usual.

DAY 8 (April 19, 2019): Thange-Chola Pass-Dzongla

3.40 miles, 2,562 feet elevation gain

I woke up today feeling fairly awful. I felt the worst sinus pressure of my life and had zero appetite. We thought we were going to have to hang out here for a day given how I felt, but I managed to stomach an RX bar and muster up the energy to hike. Now, it is debatable if this was a good idea, given we had our second mountain pass today. However, I don’t regret it. I think if I had stayed a day, I would have been full blown sick the next day and would have never made it over Chola Pass and therefore would have had to turn back instead of getting to complete the loop. It was still amazingly beautiful, but I was moving at a slow pace. We ended up getting hit by a snowstorm near the top. Zach had made it to the top before me and put down his backpack then came down, grabbed my backpack and helped me the rest of the way up. I will be honest, I threw a bit of a fit as I don’t like admitting I could use the help (I am stubborn as we all know), but I was very thankful for the help since I was struggling pretty hard.

Zach was a bit cold this morning so he decided to put every single layer on.
We summited Chola Pass (Elevation: 17,782 feet), our second mountain pass of the trek.

DAY 9 (April 20, 2019): Dzongla-Dughla-Dingboche

3.08 miles, 474 feet elevation gain

At this point, I was so sick that it took me nearly 5 hours to walk the 3.08 miles to the next town. I had to stop every minute to rest even though we were barely gaining any elevation. Zach and our porter, Kul, went ahead to the next town before Everest Base Camp and our guide stayed with me. He would carry all our stuff ahead and set it down, then run back to help me walk to our bags, then do it again. I was so thankful to have him as a guide. To be honest, I was questioning whether or not I was going to have to be evacuated at this point.

After finally making it to Dughla, I was able to pay for a horse ride to Dingboche. I was too weak to
walk, so I was so thankful a horse was an option.

DAY 10 (April 21, 2019)

Today was miserable. I laid in bed all day, barely able to get up to go to the bathroom.

DAY 11 (April 22, 2019)

I actually woke up feeling a lot better (health wise), and was able to eat a good breakfast and sit in the sun for a bit. I waited till Zach and Om got back. All morning, I was anxious about seeing Zach. I didn’t know how I was going to feel knowing he made it and I didn’t. We had discussed before the trip even started what we would do if one of us couldn’t continue, and ultimately, we decided we wouldn’t hold the other back and would be happy for the other. I stand by this and I wasn’t mad at him, I was mad at my body, but I was taking it out on him. However, even though it didn’t seem like it, I was so overjoyed to see Zach after being alone in my room for the last 2 days. I was also very relieved that he made it safely.

DAY 12 (April 23, 2019): Dingboche-Namche Bizzare

13.00 miles, 2,275 feet elevation gain

We started our journey back to Lukla today. Even though, we ended up lower in elevation in Namche, we still gained a significant amount of altitude. I was still hiking a little slow, but I was doing much better.

DAY 13 (April 24, 2019): Namche Bizzare-Lukla

11.14 miles, 2,515 feet elevation gain

We finally made it back to Lukla and had ourselves a well deserved beer (or 3).

DAY 14: Travel back to Kathmandu

We were so tired and drained, this day was kind of a blur. We were not even sure we were going to make it out of Lukla given the weather, but we managed to. We then had an 8 hour bus ride back to Kathmandu. We were both so thankful for a warm shower and a bed and we passed out so fast.

The rest of the trip was a lot of fun. We ended up doing a few days in Pokhara. We enjoyed our literal vacation from our vacation. I was still dealing with a lot of emotions from the trek, but was working through them day by day. But traveling is like that, it is not always sunshine and rainbows, but they are life experiences and looking back, I am so thankful for this one.

We were greeted on our last day in Katmandu by Om, who brought us a gift.

It is a tradition amongst Nepalese people to offer this scarf, or Khata, as a symbol of good fortune.

Until next time, Nepal.

Namaste.

Australia Round 2

Okay, I am going to make this post fairly short and sweet. The only reason that I went back to Australia was because I missed people and wanted to see them. I lived there for almost a year, I have already seen all of the sites.

That being said, it was so amazing to see all my friends and the family that I Au Paired for. The kids are just as adorable and awesome as ever and it was so good to see Lucy and Adrian (their parents) as well.

Picture to come! My WiFi is terrible and will not upload pictures 🙁

I also wouldn’t be crazy me, if I didn’t do something silly like, oh I don’t know, run a marathon the week before I flew to Nepal to hike Everest Base Camp. Yeah… I did that. Oops. I ran the New Castle marathon.

It also just so happens, that my friends who lives in New Castle were having a little party the day before the marathon. My good friend Katie is actually pregnant and they were having their gender reveal party. BTW, it is a boy!! I was so happy that I got to be there for that. Also her awesome parents let me stay with them that night as well and actually drove me at 5:30am to the race start. They are so awesome. But the marathon went well!

Picture to come! My WiFi is terrible and will not upload pictures 🙁

It was a short little trip to New Castle and then I was back in Sydney to finish out my last few days in Australia, which I spent just hanging out with the family and all my friends some more.

Picture to come! My WiFi is terrible and will not upload pictures 🙁

I know that was not super exciting, but I am saving the good posts for my Everest Base Camp trek updates, so keep reading!

Cheers.

The Start to a New Adventure

Well, I think it is official, I have the worst travel luck in the world. Last time going to New Zealand I was deathly ill with the flu and this time, I nearly didn’t make it at all. So, here is a play-by-play of the first 24 hours of my trip:

Thursday, April 1:

2:15pm: On my way to the airport, I get a text that says my 9:30pm flight from LAX to Auckland is canceled.

2:45pm: Get to the airport and find out my 5:15pm flight from DIA to LAX has been delayed until 6:30pm. 

4:00pm: Finally get off the phone with Air New Zealand and feel a temporary moment of relief as they told me they were able to get me the last seat on the 10:30pm flight. However, when it seems to good to be true, that means it probably is. They told me that I 100% had a seat reserved on the flight, however, they were unable to send me a boarding pass because I had already checked into the first leg of my flight. They said, that I needed to go back to the check in counter, get offloaded from the flight, call Air New Zealand back to have them finally get me confirmed on the new 10:30 flight. 

4:30pm: I get told by the ticketing agent (after waiting in line for 15 minutes) that she is unable to offload me from the flight, so she said she just unbooked me from the flight completely and told me that she would rebook me on the flight after I called Air New Zealand back. 

4:45pm: I call Air New Zealand back and they tell me that I have not been taken off the flight because my bag is already on the flight and they are unable to unbook me unless I have my bag with me. They then tell me that when I land in LAX, I have to go get my bag and go to the ticketing counter and re-check in and re-check my bag all the way through to Sydney. 

5:00pm: Finally make it back to security and realize I never got my boarding pass back and have to go all the way back to the ticketing counter. 

5:45pm: finally make it back through security and make it on my flight. 

8:00pm (LA time): Land at LAX in terminal 7 and taxi for a million hours and then have to go to bag claim. Well, as I am sure you would have never guessed, my bag does not show up. I go to the baggage assistance counter where I wait in line for 20 minutes just to find out that my bag has already been checked in with Air New Zealand and that it will be checked all the way through. 

9:00pm (LA time): I now have an hour and a half before my INTERNATIONAL flight and have to make it from Terminal 7 to the International Terminal (in case you haven’t been there, I will fill you in on a little secret… it is on the completely other side of their terminal…

At this point, it was faster to run across terminals than to take the shuttle. I make it to check in sweaty and tired. I ask the ticketing agent about my bag and she assured me it would be checked through. I also was able to relax a little bit after confirming that I was held a seat on the 10:30pm flight. 

9:45pm (LA time): I finally make it through security and to my gate right as it was boarding. 

Tuesday, April 2:

Well, I missed Tuesday April 2 from the time change.

Wednesday, April 3:

7:50am (New Zealand time): Finally land in Auckland before I realize that my next flight is at 9:00am. 

8:10am: Get off the airplane and start booking it to my next flight just to find out, I have to go through security yet again. 

8:25am (New Zealand time); Make it to my gate right as they were boarding. 

This whole travel day has been one of the biggest shit shows, however, the good news is I did make it! I know this was not the most exciting post I have ever made, but it is comical (well now it is because I made it). 

It is over now though and onto adventures! 

Cheers. 

A Not So Exciting Update of My Life

It has been a long time since I have posted. I had really just been adjusting to life back in the US. However it, unfortunately, did not take long. That is the weird thing about traveling; you can be gone for so long, yet once you get back, you feel like the trip was just a dream and it is crazy how fast you settle back into your old routine and old job.

Although, I have decided on a few things about the direction my life is going to take. I have officially decided to become a firefighter as a career. This job is perfect as it gives me the flexibility to still do so many summer and winter sports, gives me the chance to still travel and gives me the hands on physical aspect to a job, and gives me the money to finish my pilot certificates. I have not been this sure about anything in my life in a long time and that feels so good to say. Now, it will probably be at least a year (possibly more) until I get on with a fire department, so I have some time. That being said, I am about to embark on another trip!

I had mentioned at the end of my last post, that my next adventure was Everest Base Camp in Nepal and now it is official. I leave April 1 and return May 5. It is coming up so quickly! I am beginning the trip with 10 days in Australia seeing the family that I Au Paired for and seeing all my friends (I can’t wait). While I am there, I am running a marathon in New Castle, NSW (close to Sydney). This is part of the training for my Ironman that is coming up June 9, so even though I am going on this trip, I can’t stop training 🙁

Up until leaving on my Nepal trip, I will just be working away to try and make money for the trip. I actually will probably be running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to put things in order for the trip. I feel like I have a million and one things to do to get ready and to top it off, I have been invited to tryout for Keystone ski patrol and of course tryouts are the day before I leave! AHHHH! It is exciting though ad if I get it, it will give me an awesome job until I get hired on at a fire department, which will hopefully be in the next year… fingers crossed.

On top of everything else, I now have to find a new tenant for my house and also move out. I have though a lot about this as I just am never home and barely live there as it is; I would honestly rather have the money for my trip. Luckily, my landlord was very understanding and had no problem with me terminating my lease early as long as I find a new tenant.

Well I think that is all the updates I have. I know it is not terribly exciting, but really my life has just been working and training and working and training and some more working… oh yeah and skiing when I am not working or training. But I will update when I get closer to my trip so stay posted!

Cheers.

Final Thoughts

Okay, so since I was so bad at keeping up on blog posts during my big road trip at the end, I will just skip that part and post pictures on Facebook, so go check it out ! BUT! To give a bit of an update: after Defqon in Amsterdam, I flew way north up to Cairns and hired a van. I then drove all the way down the east coast ending in South Australia and circled back to Melbourne where I dropped off the van.  After that, I flew to Tasmania and did a 5 day tour. I did too many things to name any favourites, but every place I went was an adventure. I met and traveled with the most amazing people and had probably the most amazing time of my life.

This post is just going to be some final thoughts on my whole adventure. I am now two months into being back and just thinking back on my trip is making me miss it. It was really hard going back to work so quickly after traveling for so long. From starting my trip with the flu in New Zealand to finishing in Tasmania, it was an amazing experience. With every trip there are ups and downs, but I really felt like this trip did what I wanted it to do. Unlike my European adventure, this trip was less about the party and more about getting some distance from a few things in the states. What better way to clear your head than fly all the way around the world?

I was not sure what direction this trip would take when I arrived. I do however, believe that things happen for a reason and everything has a purpose. I was not expecting to live in Sydney when I applied for the working holiday visa. In fact, I had my mind on living in Byron Bay per recommendation of some of my friends who studied abroad in Australia in uni. However, I really liked the family that wanted me to Au Pair for them and that to me was more important than location. I met my Australian best friend at the pub I worked at and truly built a life while I was there.

When I left for Australia, I had no idea what direction my life was going to take, and honestly I still don’t know. I have so many different passions in life and want to figure out what I am doing for the rest of it. The whole idea behind this trip was to give me time to think and figure it out. Instead, what it showed me was that my love for traveling will never go away and whatever direction my life takes has to have traveling in it. Now that that is established, I can figure out the rest of my life. Something big on the list is to finish my flying certifications and make a career out of that. I guess it makes sense that I love traveling and flying so much, they kind of go hand in hand.

Anyways, back to the trip. I fell in love with Australia and everyone/everything in it. I am going to miss it so much. Going from one of the most epic trips of my life to being back at home and at work has been really hard. But! It is motivation to figure out the next steps in my life.

Next adventure, Everest Base Camp!

Cheers.

 

Defqon 1

So, I am a bit behind on my posts (what’s new?), but before I do one big post on the epic Australia trip, I will catch you up. The last post I did, I was on the plane heading to Amsterdam for Defqon 1. It really seems like ages ago, but really it was only about a month ago.

Since my friend couldn’t go and sold me his ticket, it meant I was going with some of his best mates, some of which I knew from high school and others I was meeting for the first time. This is always a bit risky since we don’t know if we all will get along, but now I can say, it was probably one of the most epic weekends of my life. All of us got along so well, and we ended up meeting some other people from California and made our own little Defqon tribe.

Going to Defqon had been on my bucket list forever and I never knew if I would get a chance to go. These amazing people just made my weekend one I will remember for the rest of my life.

Defqon closing ceremony!

The festival came and went, but there was still more exploring of Amsterdam to do! We only had a few days, and honestly were too tired to do do too much, but we were able to walk around the beautiful city and just take it in.

I had been to Amsterdam once before about 4 years ago, and I had forgotton how wonderful the city is. I had said, it almost doesn’t feel real; it feels like you are in this fake world because of the crazy architecture of all the buildings.

Unfortunately, I did misread my return flight to Sydney dates and missed my flight back to Australia. It was a very expensive and costly mistake and I honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to get to do the Australia trip, but I managed to make it work and I am so glad I did!

I will keep this post short since I am about to do a ridiculously long one from my Australia trip here in a few days.

Cheers.

Final Thoughts: A Sydney Update

Well I had started another blog post about two weeks ago and called it “The End is Near”, but as we all know I am not very good at time management when it comes to packing and well, the time got away from me and I honestly didn’t have time to pack, let alone finish the post. So… now I am going to write a new one on the plane.

For those who don’t know, I am on my way to Amsterdam to meet some friends for Defqon 1. Why am I going all the way to Amsterdam from Sydney for a music festival that also takes place in Sydney?
A) I will be back in the US by the time the music festival comes around in Sydney.
B) My friend back home couldn’t go and sold me his ticket.
C) I found a really cheap round trip flight.
All three signs telling me I absolutely have to go to this festival which I have dreamed about going to fo a long time. So, here I am on a 26 hour journey to Amsterdam. I am very excited, but need to make it through the 26 hours of travel first…

But, right now I need to back up a little to my last few months in Sydney. The last time I posted I believe I had just finished the Great Ocean Road. So much has happened since then, I am not even sure where to begin. I was trying to make as much money as possible to pay for my trip (both my trips actually), while still trying to see every last thing in Sydney. So rather than write a really long boring post about everything I have seen/done in the last 2 months, I will substitute it with pictures. So here is a chronological list of everything I have done told in pictures…

The Blue Mountains:

The Sydney Aquarium:

The Sydney Half Marathon:

Symbian Wildlife Park #kangarooselfie:

Vivid Sydney:

Toranga Zoo

Hunter Valley Wine Country:

Pancakes On The Rocks:

And the kids are use as amazing and cute as ever…

       

My time in Sydney has been one of the most amazing times in my life. When I first left the US, I wasn’t sure what direction this trip would take. I had already done the post Uni European adventure, so I was eager to see how this trip would turn out. After talking with one of my best friends in Sydney last night, it became clear that the purpose and reason for this trip was different.

Before leaving for my Europe trip, although I did have loose ends in the US, I felt like I needed to get out of the States. I needed a grand adventure to celebrate the end of Uni and to take a bit of a break. I found my love for traveling back when I was 17 and first went to Europe with my dad and family and then of course again when I studied abroad in Spain. Sorry Mom, I can’t say I found a love for traveling when we all went to China. As amazing as that trip was, I was about 11 and was not old enough o appreciate anything (I guess I will just have to go back). So, there was no question that I would enjoy myself in Europe and of course this trip in Australia. However, this time, it was clear that I was really going to miss everyone back in the US more than the last time I traveled. The weekend that I left every possible friend group I have (work group, festival group, hashing group, and of course my main #squad group) made sure I had a proper send off, showing me that although I was ready for another adventure I was really going to miss Colorado and everything in it.

The trip to Amsterdam and the month and a half long trip I have planned from Cairns to Melbourne will be the absolute perfect send off back to the United States. I finally feel at peace with the fact that I need to figure out what I am going to do in life and I think I am ready to be in one place for a bit. I will never scratch the travel itch so to speak, but traveling will always be part of my life, but I am ready to start my life back in the States, for real this time. I get to come home and watch one of my best friends get married and I get to be in the wedding. I am so excited to be back for that, so much so I decided to come home early for her bachelorette party, not because I felt like I should, but because I really and truly wanted to.

I am the happiest when I travel, but I think it is partly because traveling gives me clarity on my life, which is exactly what I wanted this trip to do. I have so many passions: medicine, flying, adventuring, that I have no doubt whatever I decide to do in life, I will be happy, but I needed this big adventure to show me that.

I will always love to travel, but I am also so excited to see where my life takes me.

Goodbye Sydney, hello Amsterdam!

Cheers.

The Great Ocean Road (April 16th-22nd)

Okay, what you have all been waiting for… my time on the great ocean road. Okay, well maybe not what you have all been waiting for, but certainly a trip that I have been waiting for. This post is a few weeks late, but I have been insanely busy trying to work to make up for the week off I took. If you should ever find yourself in Australia, the Great Ocean Road (or GOR as many people refer to it here as) is an absolute must do. Many people do it in three days, but we decided to do it in five and honestly, it was the best decision because we really got to take our time. I went with 3 people that I didn’t know who all just happened to be German, but more on that a bit later. For now, I will just say this, you always run the risk of not liking your travel mates and let’s just say I made the most of my trip once I accepted the fact that we were not going to get along. For now I will just talk about my amazing time on the beautiful GOR.

Day 1: Sydney —> Melbourne

Well day one of our grand adventure started on Monday, April 16, which of course is my birthday. I did not have the best birthday, mainly because it consisted of driving 9 hours to Melbourne. We chose to take the inland (less pretty route) there as it was a lot faster, but I fully plan to take the scenic, coastal route on my big road trip in July. Two of my three travel mates met me at Spaceships Rentals, Kilian and Isabell. We also drove a random third person down to Melbourne who was not going to travel with us, but just needed a ride. It took about a million hours to get paperwork done and get the camper van all ready to go. It was about 11:00 am before we finally hit the road.

I started out driving, which of course I am comfortable driving on the other side of the road at this point. However, the time to switch drivers came and Kilian took over. He had never driven on the other side of the road before and also had never driven an automatic car, we were all scared for our lives. However, I am happy to report, that he did great and we all got to Melbourne in one piece, even though we got there very late. We were meeting the other German, Rebecca in Melbourne who drove there from South Australia. We stayed in a hostel the first night to avoid having to find a place to camp and were ready to hit the road early the next morning.

Day 2: Melbourne —> Torquay —> Lorne

I will start out by saying that the whole GOR is only 243 km (151 miles), so not very long, giving us all the time in the world to stop and look at everything.

We started the first day of the driving to Torquay, the town that is the official start of the GOR. This is where we did our grocery shopping, got fuel and were finally ready to go. We honestly had no idea what we wanted to see or where we were going to camp, which in my opinion is the absolute best way to start an adventure.

We didn’t make it very very before hitting the Great Ocean Road memorial Arch.

And then I decided to crawl on top of the van at a pull off with a beautiful view…

We arrived in the town of Lorne around 3:00pm that first day, not knowing this is where we would camp. When you decide to travel with random strangers, there are things you just don’t think about when you choose your travel mates. The first thing is whether or not they are willing to actually camp. I went into this trip with the intention of choosing free spots, but all the free spots obviously don’t have showers, soooo we paid for caravan parks every night. Not ideal, but it was three against one and honestly something I was willing to compromise on.

And… we ended up finding a pretty spectacular spot.

We decided to have the bday celebration for me that we didn’t get to have the night before, which really only consisted of drinking some VB (Victoria Bitter).

Day 3: Lorne —> Cape Otway

We didn’t get the early start we necessarily wanted; I think by the time we woke up and got the camper all packed up, it was about 10:00 am. That mixed with the surprise hangover I had was a recipe for really needing breakfast. We got breakfast in Lorne, backtracked a little to the visitor’s centre to grab a map, and hit the road again.

We didn’t get very far deciding to stop at Lorne Pier for a few  pictures. There were these three friends who were fishing on the pier, who you could tell this was their regular thing, and I’m kind of obsessed with the picture that I took of them.

Our next stop was Kenneth River, where is notorious for seeing Koalas in the trees, and guess what….

… we saw one!!!

One of the spectacular things about the Great Ocean Road, is there are so many beautiful pull offs that you won’t find on any map of attractions, and we stopped at almost all of them. But, for time’s sake, I will just post pictures of two.

 

After a delicious lunch, a quick walk through Maits Rest Rainforest…

…and a very long dirt, bumpy road, we arrived at our camping spot for the night at Bimbi Park. We drank some wine and ended up having a little visitor…

…a possum!!! Evil little thing, climbed on my towel.

Day 4: Cape Otway —> Port Campbell

Before leaving Cape Otway, we made a stop at the Cape Otway Lighthouse. I took like a million and one pictures of this lighthouse, but I don’t think any one of them can really capture the beauty that we saw, but I will try and pick the best one. It was truly spectacular.

We decided to take the long way around to the Twelve Apostles (the main attraction of the GOR), backtracking a little bit on the Ocean Road and taking the tiniest dirt road called Binns Road, that lead us to Triplet Falls.

Triplet Falls was a very pretty site, but we did not have the best car for a long dirt path, and it probably was not worth the hassle getting there.

Right before getting to the Twelve Apostles parking lot, we took a small little pull off and I am so happy we did because the view we got was absolutely incredible…

Photo credit goes to Kilian, but it was took good of a picture not to post.

We finally arrived at the Twelve Apostles and just in time for sunset. I am just going to let the pictures do the talking on this one.

Port Campbell is the last “big” town of the Great Ocean Road. Technically it is not the end of it, but we decided to make this our final destination before heading back. The main reason for this is because one of our travel mates realized she left her prescription glasses in the bathroom at Bimbi Park. Luckily, someone turned them in, but it meant we were going to have to backtrack a little bit the next day. That being said, we bought some sausages to BBQ for out last big night and called it a night fairly early (well I did at least). It makes it a little easier to sleep early when your travel mates literally don’t speak with you (I am not bitter about that one or anything).

Day 5: Port Campbell —> Torquay

So, it ended up being a blessing in disguise that we had to backtrack for the glasses. Our original plan was to finish the GOR and take the inland route back to Melbourne to save some time. However, I am so happy we did not do this because we had missed a huge site! It is this rock formation called the Razorback caused by all the wind-blown spray that comes off the ocean.

One of the other sites on this pull off was the Lock Ard Gorge, yet another breathtakingly beautiful view.

So, it was a very sunny day, but don’t let that fool you… it really wasn’t that warm. However (I am unsure why), we thought it was a good idea to jump in the water. It was probably because the water was so crystal clear and blue, so logically we wanted to take a swim. Well… It was absolutely freezing and 100% worth it.

Backtracking even let us stop at the Twelve Apostles again, but this time in daylight. I think, I liked the sunset view better, but you can’t pass up getting to see this iconic view a second time.

And, let’s be honest… the trip would not be complete without seeing some kangaroos!

We finally arrived back in Torquay, the town where we initially went food shopping at the start of this grand adventure. We camped for the night there and again I went to bed early not partaking in the wine festivities.

Day 6: Torquay —> Melbourne —> Belanglo (Daly’s Clearing Camping Area)

Now that our adventure was over, it was time to head back to Melbourne to drop off Rebecca, who had left her car there. We stopped at the Brighton Bathing Boxes before dropping her off. I had no clue that this was an attraction in Melbourne, but it was actually super cool.

After dropping Rebecca off, it was time to hit the road back to Sydney. It was a long long day as it took probably an hour just to get out of the city traffic in Melbourne. By the time we actually got on the freeway, it was 2:00pm. Luckily, we hadn’t planned to do the entire drive back in one day. It was only Saturday and we did not have to drop the van off until Sunday afternoon.

We (I) decided to camp in this spot called Daly’s Clearing, which was a few miles off the freeway down this dirt road. This was honestly my favorite camping spot, but not my travel mates’. They for sure preferred having toilets and a shower. This one was free, but did not have any facilities whatsoever, causing a little bit of a problem. I chose not to make this an issue on the trip as it was a battle not worth fighting… But, I wanted at least one night of actual camping, so I spoke up for the last night.

Funny enough, we chose the one spot this group was doing a huge forest rave party that lasted… well… all night. I don’t think any of us slept.

Day  7: Belanglo —> Sydney

The last day of our road trip was finally here. We had about a 3 hour drive to Sydney. We stopped at this beach on the way called Hyams Beach, supposedly having the whitest sand in the world. It was beautiful, but out of all the sites I saw, I probably wouldn’t put it in my top ones.

We finally made it back to Sydney, making a quick pit stop at my house so I could change into some work clothes and drop off my bags (sadly I had to be at work at 6:00pm that night).

Of course a road trip wouldn’t be complete without a sexy car wash (Kilian’s words, not mine) for the camper at the end…

Overall, I would say it was a pretty epic week, however (sadly), it was not my travel mates that made it amazing. But hey, that is traveling sometimes, you just have to take it for what it is and make it amazing for yourself… and that is exactly what I did.

Until my next adventure…

Cheers.

 

 

 

Sydney Update

Okay… So, again not too much to update on. I am gearing up for my long road trip on the great ocean road in Victoria. SO EXCITED!!! Camper van booked and travel mates found. I leave on April 16th (my bday) and head to Melbourne. Me and two other Germans are going to drive to Melbourne and then pick up another girl there and start our adventure. I will of course update this after that adventure, but for now I have just been working a lot to make money for it.

Since the last time I posted, I have started working at a bar in the center of Sydney called the Agincourt Hotel. which is pretty awesome. Fun little fact, the reason bars here have “hotel” in the names is because a long time ago, the only way places could serve alcohol is if they provided accomodation as well. I came here on this working holiday with the intention of doing bar work as I had never done it before, so it is super cool that I actually get to do it. I have never had a job before that I have had to be on my feet for hours at a time, so this is new for me, but overall I would say that I am enjoying it. The people I work with are amazing humans and honestly I think starting the work there marked the turning point for this trip. Up until a month ago, this trip was good, but now having people I can call friends and do things with, has turned it into something amazing. I have started to meet other au pairs in the area, one of whom is now going to come work for my current family after I leave. The other day, we all went to the Sydney Tower and had drinks at the 360 restaurant at the top. The tower overlooks the entire city and honestly gives the best view.

 

 

 

 

 

I went with some other au pairs who I had never met, but again, I couldn’t have asked for a better night.

The kids are just as cute as ever. They are truly amazing kids and the family is so amazing. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be living in the same place I worked. I have had plenty of nanny experience, but at the end of my day, I would go home and here I obviously don’t.

   

Jack                                                Emily

This last weekend (Easter), they invited me with them to all their family activities and I wasn’t “on duty” for any of them. Sunday, we went to the beach and this little farmers market in Bundeena, a beach town in Royal National Park. I bought like a million books… hope I can read all them by the time I leave haha. I mean they were $2.00. I couldn’t just pass them up and the money went to a good cause.

Hmmmm… what else can I update on? Oh! Not saying I am homesick, but me and a few other au pairs went out the other night and wound up in this American burger joint called Big Daddy’s. And I will say, it was very nice getting a little taste of home 🙂 I do miss some of the food there.

It was amazing and following that we wound up in a convenient store that sold the good flavors of Pop Tarts!! Here you can get them in regular supermarkets, but they only have the chocolate brand… who wants that? Answer is nobody, well not me. Needless to say, that was my breakfast the next morning.

Well I think that is all I really have to update on and my next post will be after my big birthday road trip, so stay tuned!!

Cheers.

Top 10 Things to Know Before You Travel to Europe

Okay so, I did the top 10 things you should know before your first backpacking adventure, but now I think it is time to get slightly more specific to individual continents. I think I am going to stick with this “top 10 things” idea as it narrows it down to the most important things. Now, I am backing up here to my European adventure about a year and a half ago in August, 2016. Don’t worry, New Zealand and Australia advise to come, but I have a friend about to go on a European Adventure so, Robin, this one is for you!

Now that I got the boring stuff out of the way in my last post, it is time to get onto the fun stuff, actually traveling! So here it is, the top 10 things you must know for your European adventure!

1. DO NOT plan your entire trip, just wing it! Haha, get it? I couldn’t resist given the name of this blog. I know I said this before, but it specifically applies to Europe. Before I left for Europe, I pretty much had my entire trip planned out… I knew exactly the countries that I was planning to go, exactly how many days I would spend in each place and I knew exactly how I was planning to get there. Now, you may ask did I follow my original plan? The answer to that is no. I pretty much only did the first 2 cities on my plan and that was mainly because I was meeting friends in Barcelona and I had to go back to Granada where I studied abroad. I mean it was home for 6 months and I met some of my closest friends there, so of course, I had to go back.

2. Buy an EUrail pass. There is mixed feelings about this pass, but I loved it and I am going to tell you why. First off, the train system in Europe is amazing! You can literally get anywhere on a train. Second, there is so many different types of passes. You can get a 1 month, 2 month, 3 months, 4 month (you get the picture) pass and you can pick how many travel days you would like on it. Here is how it works. You pick the pass you want. For me, I did 1 month and 7 travel days, but pick the one you think would be most beneficial, keeping in mind that you actually want to see the cities you stay in, so I really wouldn’t do any more than 7 travel days per month.

Once you buy it, they will send it to you in the mail and then you can activate it for whatever date you want it to begin. I did not activate mine until I was ready to leave Barcelona (my first city in Europe). Remember, the time starts once you activate it, so do not activate it for the first day you arrive in Europe. Activate it for the day you are planning to leave your first destination. They have an app you can use to look at train times, but for any high speed trains, just know they do require a reservation. You can do this on the app or just go into the train station in each city to book your next leg (that is what I did, as I do better talking to an actual person). There will be a 10 Euro reservation fee every time you book, but again for me that was worth it for the ease of the train pass.

A few other things to know about this pass, it is only available to be used in countries that are part of the EU, so say you buy the 1 month, 7 travel day pass, spend the full month traveling in the EU and once the pass expires then do the other counties outside of the EU. Lastly, do NOT leave the train pass at home by accident as you cannot get it replaced (I know from experience)!

Money I spent getting my EUrail pass sent to me…

3. Meet people! Everyone and I mean almost everyone does Europe as one of their first backpacking adventures and that means people from literally all over the world. However, I swear Australians are taking over the backpacking in Europe, they were everywhere! I met so many amazing people and in addition to it just being amazing to make friends from all over, the connections really do come back to help your future travel endeavours. For example being able to stay with them when you visit their home country, like New Zealand or Australia. Not only do you get a local tour guide, but you also usually get a place to stay reducing your costs. And of course, you will return the favour when they visit your home country. It is this whole amazing backpacker mentality and honestly, it is amazing.

4. Bring a sleeping bag, but no need to bring a tent or camping gear in Europe. It is not necessary and honestly just takes up space. If you end up going on a crazy outdoor adventure in Switzerland or something, just rent the gear, but trust me, you don’t want to be lugging extra crap around. And on that same note of what not to bring, don’t bring a laptop. It is big and bulky and just takes up space. If you have a tablet or iPad, do that instead!

5. Ask people in your hostel travel advise! There is guaranteed to be someone who has already been to the place you are wanting to go to next. AND! If you do not know where you are going next, I can promise you they have ideas. I think one if my most amazing experiences on my trip was Florence, Italy and I would never have gone if the girl sitting next to me at breakfast told me to go. She told me to do this cooking class on a private estate in Tuscany and it was amazing. Words cannot even describe it and I would have never done it if it wasn’t for the girl in the hostel.

6. Party, but not too hard. Europe is a crazy party place and honestly, it is so much fun, but you don’t want to spend the next day so hungover you can’t move. I mean some days, you can, but don’t make it a habit, or the 1, 2, 3, or however many months you are traveling for is going to pass you by and you will regret not seeing all the amazing sights Europe has to offer.

7. Don’t underestimate Eastern Europe. It is not necessarily on the top of everyone’s list, but it is spectacular. I think two of my favourite places in Europe are Prague and Budapest. Also, it is cheap there!

Kutna Hora Bone Church near Prague!

8. The cheapest flights to Europe are in and out of Iceland, and while you’re at it, spend a few days in Iceland!!! It is beautiful. You can use WOW Airlines that depart from either the East Coast or California and fly to Europe very cheaply. But don’t forget to open an incognito window to search your flights, so you get the best possible price. Oh and best way to get around Iceland is to rent a car and if you do that, use Sadcars.

9. This one may or may not be for you, but go by yourself. Yes traveling with friends is fun, but the experience you get in Europe specifically as a solo traveler is an experience that you won’t regret. There is something to be said for doing a trip like this independently and it truly is a unique experience. You meet people and within 10 minutes, it’s like you have known each other for years.

10. Soak up every second of your time there! It goes way too quickly and it truly is one of the best experiences you will ever have in your life.

Up next, tips on traveling New Zealand!

Cheers!