Archive for Gap Year

Making a life in Melbourne

MelbourneI’m officially unemployed in Australia. I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that I have blisters all over my feet from walking around job-hunting all day, the fact that I’m probably going to be permanently sunburnt from being in the sun all day, the fact that I’m getting ill again a WEEK after just getting over the last cold, or the fact that I’m unemployed and surrounded by all kinds of amazing food?  I imagine Hell to be a big old Nutella donut or chunky piece of carrot cake with creamy frosted icing sitting on a plate in from of you and you’re sitting there not being able to eat it. Seriously. Everything just looks incredible. Burgers, Thai, Chinese, sandwiches, cupcakes, pastries….Fitzroy Garcens Melbourne

We have started to make a bucket list of places we need to visit, before we leave Melbourne, which is growing steadily by the day. We’ve also stated on a number of occasions that “Ooh we’ll have to go there to celebrate once we finally get a job.” But we’ve just started going anyway to cushion the blow of being unemployed on the other side of the world. You know, “treat yourself” and all that…

There have been many a time where we have stood outside a cake shop window staring longingly at the food like Oliver Twist waiting for scraps, wondering whether we really should spend money on “treating ourselves” when we don’t have a steady income….The answer is always yes of course. I’m being slightly dramatic – we have our savings of course. It’s not like we came all the way to Australia with a pair of sunglasses and a knotted hankie but you know, there’s that feeling of guilt when you know you shouldn’t be spending your money on something but you just HAVE too….

City Heights melbourne

I’m complaining, but I guess there are worst places in the world to be unemployed. I mean, at least in Melbourne I can sit at a rooftop bar at 2.30 in the afternoon and enjoy a glass of Pimms, or sit down by the river, taking in the view and people watching or spend an afternoon sitting in the sun (read shade) in some gardens and read a book. Yeah, I shouldn’t complain really.

So fingers crossed for us two sunburnt Welsh girls trying to make it on the opposite side of the world. Please, employers of Melbourne, take pity on us.

We’re really good, honest.

The Kiwi Experience

So after my gapyear jaunts around America, next on my list was New Zealand and the Kiwi Experience. I can honestly say that New Zealand was the most amazing country and so much fun to travel in.

I had decided to do the Kiwi Experience – a bus which travels around New Zealand with a hop on-hop off system, allowing you to pick and choose what you want to see and how long you want to stay there. My pass (one of the many passes available to suit your needs) took me all the way up to the top of North Island, down and around to the South Island and also included a cheeky little trip to Mildford Sound.

And it was all incredible. New Zealand is a seriously beautiful country.

I started in Auckland, so spent a few days hanging around, exploring the city and of course ending it with a standard trip up the Sky Tower which offered fantastic views of the whole city. Next, it was time to aboard the Kiwi Express, and get on route to the tip of North Island – to the Bay Islands – where dolphin watching, a wet and windy walk along the beach and sand surfing (a terrifying yet slightly hysterical experience) was on the cards.

As I embarked on my trip around this beautiful country, I saw some incredible places, of which included; Hot Water Beach, Waitomo (where we went on a unique caving trip to the Glowworm caves) Rotorua (including a trip to a Maori Village equipped with traditional dancing and a delicious feast – the food was amazing. I’m actually salivating thinking about it), Taupo (where we saw a geothermal reserve, hung out in the natural hot springs and went on a walk, exploring beautiful waterfalls and taking in the vast surroundings), River Valley (where there was a huge amount of activities to do such as horse riding and white water rafting), Wellington, Franz Josef (Franz Josef was AMAZING. We took a helicopter up to the glaciers and then trekked across them. There were only a few minor incidents which slowed us down -turns out that walking through tight walls of ice can be a bit of a squeeze. And slippery. Praise to the very attractive tour guide who was on hand to pick up the people who fell. What? No, of course I didn’t fall on purpose) , Wanaka and Queenstown.

Queenstown was the perfect way to end an incredible trip where I met some amazing people and saw some beautiful places. I was especially looking forward to Queenstown as this was the place I was keen to do a bungee jump which I had been looking forward too since I started my trip. However, of course, me being me, I may have accidentally got a bit too excited on a night out, thought I’d be able to make a jump down some stairs, only to faceplant the floor and wind up in hospital. So. No bungee for me. My mum wasn’t too impressed either. Oops.

I had the best time in New Zealand and am so thankful for the people I met out there for making it a trip to remember. It is a place I would definitely recommend for anyone who wants to travel and to explore it via The Kiwi Experience bus tour is a pretty good way to go about it as well. It makes for easy transport, great locations, good access to great hostels and you meet so many different people. However, don’t do a me and think it’s a good idea to run and jump a flight of stairs. It doesn’t end well for anybody. Queenstown, you killed me. And my dreams of experiencing New Zealand’s highest bungee jump.

Once I was back in Auckland and everyone had gone their separate ways, I was starting to look forward to the next leg of my journey and excited to stay in New Zealand for a few more weeks. Luckily, with step-relatives living in Mount Maunganui, I was able to head there and spend the next week living in luxury – with a cosy bed and home cooked meals. And a lot of afternoon tea and fruit cake. Ah, bliss. Being quite a small place, there wasn’t too much to do here so I spent the majority of my time walking up and around the Mount (also sailed around at one point as well actually. Not me personally, I can’t sail to save my life ), reading and eating. Eating a lot. I also went to the cinema by myself, come to think of it. But the less said about that the better. In my defense, it was raining. And I’d had done everything else possible to do in Mount Maunganui. But whatever.

So New Zealand done and dusted, I was sad to leave but excited to continue on with my journey. Next was, Hong Kong and Thailand – more on that soon!


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California Here We Come

Here’s a cheeky little throwback piece to that time I went to California. Once I had finished school, and most of my friends were heading to university, I decided to take a gap year, work for a bit and then head off travelling. Travelling alone was terrifying but once I got out there, I completely forgot about everything I was worried about and ended up having one of the best experiences of my life. I kinda wish I could do it all again.

First stop was America, or Los Angeles to be exact. I’m not going to lie, I spent the weeks before I left, dreaming about fact that I was going to California – the land of 90210, of The O.C – where life is glitzy and shiny and perfect. And to be fair, Los Angeles is pretty cool, but not exactly what I was expecting. The beach was beautiful – all golden sands and swishy palm trees and shimmering seas. Although the days I was there, it was blowing a gale, with streaming sunshine and sand hitting me in my face. Very glamorous.

I spent my time in Los Angeles doing all the typical tourist stuff – Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier, Getty Museum, Venice Beach etc, and it was all pretty impressive. I was more impressed with that fact that I managed to find my way to all these places. Well, to be fair a tour bus was included on one of the trips. And most of the others I basically followed this girl who I met in my hostel room as she seemed to know exactly where we should be going. I did however find my way to Malibu all by myself which I was rather proud of. I was half expecting to see Charlie’s house from Two and a Half Men but, nope. I did see dolphins though. And surfers. Lots and lots of surfers. God Bless America.