Dreams Are Not Greater Than Reality

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The long-awaited arrival of EPL giant, Liverpool Football Club into Australia was finally a reality back in July 2013. (I know! SLACK SLACK SLACK)  We (#boyfie and I) are HUGE Liverpool fans and we could not wait to see them play, live, in front of our eyes.  Having missed out watching a game while I was in the UK (being off-season), this was going to be the next best thing until I could save enough cash to get back over there during football season.

Months had passed and my ticket was just waiting to be scanned so I could see my Reds play.  A week or so before the game, a rumour of a closed training session was surfaced and tickets went in a flash.  Not realising until after they had all sold that it was even on, I was super disappointed we weren’t going to have the chance to go.  I searched high and low over Ticketek to try to find if they were to release more seats but I couldn’t find a single date.  I ended up on the Official Melbourne Liverpool Supporters Page on Facebook and asked if anyone had spare tickets or couldn’t go, I was willing to pay for the tickets (as they were free at that stage if you has the right password).  I ended up buying two tickets from a member of the group and hoped to god (pardon the wording) that he had not ripped me off and the tickets worked.

I had sneakily bought #boyfie a new jersey for his birthday (even though that is in August) and planned to give it to him on the day of the game.  That ended up not happening and I  gave it to him a few days earlier.  He LOVED it.  His shirt had our new star “Coutinho – 10″ on the back.  I also got myself a new jersey with my favourite player ”Agger – 5″.

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A few more days after that, the training session turned into an open session and tickets went on sale with all proceeds going to charity.  We got 2 more tickets; one for #boyfie’s dad and his best mate.  The training session was the day before the game and I managed to find #boyfie’s dad while I was lining up to go in.  #boyfie and his  buddy were running late so it was up to his dad and I to find good seats.  We ended up on a wing side, right near a corner.  Not many people has crowded around us yet so it gave us a moment to relax and for me to set up my camera.

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Fast forwarding to when the players came out; I think they would have been expecting a decent sized crowd but not the reception they actually got.  Fifteen to twenty thousand people showed up just to watch a football squad train.  It was insane.  I was a little teary when they came out but tried to get some decent shots.  (I really need to get a good zoom lens for my Canon.  I was running an 18-55mm lens and a 55-200 lens and it was just that little bit too short.  If I had a lens of 70-300 I would have got some more decent shots… Back to the story)

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I decided to get my merchandise while the training session was on, so I wouldn’t have to wait in the crowds tomorrow.  We had already passed some stands outside in which I got our match programs and a tour scarves.  I did however, want a jumper if possible.  When I got to the shop, there were people everywhere.  I found the jumpers and what I expected was a reality.  No small sizes.  JOY!  However, they did have youth sizes left.  I tried on a large and wait for it… YAY, it fitted.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t any cheaper but I still wanted one.  I ended up with a jumper, t-shirt and beanie for an amount in which I cannot remember but probably too much. Where I has purchased the scarves and match programs, they had these amazing flat peaked hats but I was indecisive about getting one.  Eventually I saw enough people walking around with them on for me to decide that I wanted one.  I asked #boyfie if he wanted one and he told me no, so out I raced and got my hat.  After that, he kept pinching it and wearing it.  I said I has asked if he wanted one but he kept saying no so I didn’t  bother.

The team ended up finishing training with a small sided match which happened at our end and then it was all over.  They clapped and thanked fans for coming out and left.  If tonight was a thrill, what was tomorrow going to be like when the stadium will be filled with 5-6 times more people?

MATCH DAY

Words cannot describe the feeling I had when I woke up on match day morning.  Excited just didn’t make the cut.  I’d had a count down at work from 10 days until the match and today read “Match Day :D”.  Ony a select few at work shared my excitement.

After work, I went home with a friend from work and went to dinner with her and her husband as they were going to the game as well.  I got changed and we set off to find a restaurant near the MCG so we wouldn’t be late. I was almost too excited to eat but I scoffed down some yummy Indian buttered chicken then we ventured outside and walked with the masses to the infamous MCG.

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The crowds outside were insane.  People frolicking around everywhere.  Seas of red and specks of navy for the opposition.  I managed to get a platinum seat which was on level 2 at the Liverpool “Supporter End”.  Kick off was nearing and I finally found my seat.  Smack bang in the middle of a row, completely already filled with people.  As my knee was still not diagnosed, lateral movement was still an issue.  I tried so shuffle across the best I could but I still ended up twisting it when I accidentally stood on someone’s foot because they wouldn’t move.  I was in a lot of pain but tonight was going to be one night I wasn’t going to forget and it wasn’t going to be due to a painful knee.  Liverpool Football Club.  In MELBOURNE. I had a ticket and it was going to be the best night of my life!

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#boyfie and his dad were in another section and honestly I was wishing that I could be with him to share this experience but it was okay.  I knew he would be excited.  Maybe even more excited than I was.  We would be able to discuss this experience of a lifetime for many weeks, months or even years after the final whistle.

The suspense was finally lifted when the song began to play.  “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  This is a club tradition.  It is played before every home game at Anfield and that stadium holds around 45,500 people.  Imagine 40,000 plus people singing that, in tune, perfectly, word for word. Now that is in your head, imagine double that number. 95,446 people attended the game and I believe there was not one single Liverpudlian with a hushed voice.  The song boomed around the MCG with a sea of red banners and scarves lifted in the air.  Half of Melbourne would have been able to hear us and that’s what we wanted.

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The starting line up was announced and I was so disappointed Daniel Agger wasn’t starting.  I’d been waiting to see him play and Rodger’s has sidelined him.  I could only hope that because it was a friendly, more than 3 substitutions would be made.

Melbourne Victory held their own for the first ten minutes but a simple mistake cost them.  Liverpool pounced and dominated after that.  Steven Gerrard popped the first goal (36th minute) into the top corner and the lead 1-0 going into the second half.  I tried to snap some photos during the game but I didn’t want to miss anything so I ended up putting my camera away and soaking in the atmosphere.

During the first half, #boyfie sent me a text saying there was a free seat next to him and his dad, if I wanted to move next to them.  There was also a spare seat next to me but not 2 seats so  his dad could sit there.  I took advantage of people moving around at half time to shuffle through fewer people and hobble across to where they were sitting.  Their seats may have not been as comfortable as mine but they view of the game was just as good.  The night was ALMOST complete now.  I was sitting with him and we could watch our “Reds” together.  The only thing that would make it perfect was my favourite player being substituted on.

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At the 70th minute mark, the score was still 1-0 to Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers (the coach) made the call.   Almost the entire team was substituted.  My night was made complete with Agger being subbed on.  I beamed at #boyfie and he smiled.  I was beyond happy.

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The game went into extra time and that saw Luis Suarez put through a cross for Iago Aspas and he slotted home the shot for a 2-0 lead at the 93 minute.  That sealed the win.

The only thing that will top this night will be watching a Liverpool match at Anfield.  That will happen.  It won’t be tomorrow and probably wont be next month but it will happen.

You’ll Never Walk Alone,

C. x

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“Run the Rock” Results

 It’s been a while since you guys have seen a fitness update and monthly running challenge; 8 months actually.  The last running challenge I did was in March and I didn’t even post my results.  I don’t have them anymore so I can’t tell you what they were.  I haven’t even posted my results for the Cancer Council Run the Rock fun run, back in April.  Let’s start with that shall we?

 As you can read in my previous post, I am nursing a suspected ACL tear. (It’s not fun, at all. What is more frustrating is my ability to do almost everything normally but still being no clearer on an actual factual diagnosis.)  This incident happened on Friday the 12th April.  My running event was on the (insert date).  There was no chance that I was running the 19km race anymore.  The physio had already ruled that out.  He had given me some hope that I’d be able to run in the 10km race though! *YAY*  I went and saw him a week later and he told me it was my call on the event but if it was him, he wouldn’t even participate anymore.  Well, I couldn’t do that.   People had sponsored me to run in the event so I had to partake, even if I crawled across the finish line.  I made the best decision I could and organized to run/walk in the 5km event.  If my knee gave way, at least I could hobble across the line.

 A few days before the event, this arrived!  An official Cancer Council running shirt.  I wasn’t going to wear it at the event as I would get too hot but I wanted one to show that I supported the cause.  You could also buy Run the Rock tees as well, which I ordered and picked up on the day.   I wanted a memory of my first official fun run (pity it wasn’t what I planned, but hey, I did it!).

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Event day comes around and there are people everywhere. I got there just before my official event (19km) was about to start so I could tell them that I needed to change events.  This meant I was an hour early but that didn’t matter.  I watched the kids 2km fun run around the race track and made sure my knee was supported as it could be.  I was getting nervous because I didn’t know how my knee would hold up.  The announcement was made a sea of people flooded the starting area.  It was a tad chilly but I knew within a few minutes of running I would be warm.  In these few moments, I realised I’d cleaned up my phone and I had no music whatsoever on my phone.  BLANK. GONE! I didn’t panic but I knew I needed something playing in my ears to get me in the right frame of mine.  I live streamed through the Music Hub app on my Samsung S3 and we were in business.  I’d worry about my downloads when I’d finished.

 Blood pumped hard when the starting gun went and it took a while for the people in front of me to move.  I found my way to the fence where there was a clear run.  I shot through and off I went.  The first 2 kms were good.  I had a good pace and I was happy with the way things were panning out, I was making good time.  Just before the 3km mark, I spotted a bloke, looking exhausted and he’d just started walking.  As I passed him, I tapped his shoulder, smiled and said, C’mon mate, you can do it.’  With that, he started running again.  We were all in this together.   Between 3km-4km there was a section of asphalt that spanned around 300M.  Injury free, I shouldn’t really be running on it because it’s really harsh on my joints; so running on it then (with what I know now is a ACL tear) was not really a good idea either.  I made about 100M of it and my knee started to hurt.  I had walked almost the rest of it when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  That same guy I’d inspired smiled at me this time and said C’mon, it’s not far now!’.  With that, I was back on the grass and almost at the 4km mark.  I switched back into my groove and found  the rhythm of my run.  The last kilometre was filled with people cheering on the runners and I knew this was my break to try make a good time.  I spotted a girl in front of me and said, catch her.  I did.  Repeat.  Kids were stretching their hands out, waiting for high fives and laughing.  Why not I said.  For about 100M I high-fived as many kids as I could.  It was amazing.  No one from my family could make the race, so seeing there smiling faces was almost as good.  With about 300M to go until the finish line, I picked my pace and just focused on the end,  I could see the time and I knew it was going to be close to a PB.  It was quite there but it was a decent effort with an injured leg.  I pushed my body over the line and it was over.  I’d done it and I was so proud of myself.  Water, electrolytes and carbs were handed out at the finish line,

 I had timed it on my phone but I knew it would be a few seconds out.  I’d have to wait for my official time.

 ***DRUM ROLL PLEASE***

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 I had finished in the top 20 of my age group which was an excellent result for me.  The goal now is to get fit and healthy again for this year’s event and hopefully I can try running the 19km race again.

  I’m trying really hard to get back into it but the unknown diagnosis on my knee is keeping me a little disheartened.  I have tried to go back to football a few times but there is no improvement in my knee.  I need to block out the thoughts of hurting it badly every time I run.  Running in a straight, forward movement shouldn’t have any issues.  It’s keeping motivated to go every day, that is my issue.

 My goal this year is to work as hard as I can on getting my fitness back and power through my physio once I have my operation.  I want to get back to competitive sport; whether that is football, hockey or more running events. I have also taken up another endeavor which will be included in another post! (Finding all sorts of things to post about now! Hopefully I can keep it up!)

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Just keep swimming motivated, that’s what I have to keep telling my brain and my heart will do the rest.

 C. x

Another Catch Up Session!

Wow guys, I feel like I’ve let my web family down with not posting over the last half a year!! So many things have happened and I haven’t kept anyone up to date (apart from those who exist physically in my life and can see the changes themselves!)  Lets go back and look at the last real post I did, without backdating the posts.  It was around April because I was keeping you guys entertained with my trip to Europe.  That was so much fun and now, I’ve finally posted all of my Contiki trip down – minus a few things I missed like Pisa and the Vatican – I  might get around to those one day.

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So, what’s happened while I’ve been gone and what do I need to give you updates on? SO MUCH THAT IT COULD TAKE ANOTHER 8 MONTHS TO TELL YOU! However, I don’t want to be away from blogging that long again so I will cut out all the boring bits and move on.  How about I try and put them in some kind of order.

While I was posting about my Europe trip, I was training with my new football club and everything was going great guns.  I scored a few times in practice matches and I was starting to feeling comfortable with a new team.  I was running almost everyday to keep up my fitness (not only for football  but for the Cancer Council 19km run I had signed up to do) and I could see all that was good in life.  My first official match was  the 12th April; a Friday night game at home, in Eltham.  Managed to gain a spot in the starting 11 and I felt confident in myself and my team that we could take home the three point.  About 20 minutes in, it was still 0-0 and I got an excellent through ball from the keeper.  Sprinting down the wing, I took on their defender and she challenged me.  The tackle was hard but fair and I went down.

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I was in excruciating pain and in fear that I had retorn the ligament (that I’d previously injured) in my knee.  I got helped off the field and given ice for my knee straight away.  Even though I was in so much pain, the thought of not playing football again hurt even more.  I had to drive home because not one else was there to watch me.   Once I was home, I googled as many physio’s that were open on Saturday’s as I could.  I couldn’t afford to leave it for 3 weeks before I got help, again.  I hobbled into the physio Saturday afternoon and he got me walking almost normal without limping.  He told me that he thought it was just a strain and that I’d be out 5-6 weeks a max. I was so happy that could have cried.  I hadn’t reinjured my lateral ligament and my football playing days weren’t over.

I spent the next 6 weeks doing physio exercise and no running/football.  The pain weakened but never left.  I could not full contract my knee as I had sharp pains in the front.  Eventually after several physio sessions, he eventually referred me to get an MRI scan.  9 weeks on and I still had no idea what was wrong with my knee.  I got the MRI and the phyiso called me a day or so after to let me know the report. Suspected full tear of the anterior crutiate ligament and definite tear of the meniscus.

The ACL is the main ligament that runs through the centre of your knee and gives your knee stability (along with you posterier cruitate ligament, PCL)  Really the only thing that could have been worse, was that it wasn’t suspected, it was definiate.   The tear in my meniscus (cartlidge) is probably the cause of my pain as in is in the front left of my cartlidge.  My heart sank and I just cried.  It was worse that I expected and really didn’t have any hope that I would play football for the next year, at least.

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Eight months later and I am stlil no clearer on what is wrong with my knee.  I have seen a physio, 2 specialists and a surgeon and they all are not 100% sure on whether my ACL is torn.  MY MRI scans are apparently not clear enough.  All accounts sound like a typical ACL tear but the fact that I now don’t have huge instability in my knee, I can wear high heels all day (heheheh proobably shouldn’t be) and I am trying to get motiated to run about 5km every few days isn’t convincing anyone.  I have been put on the public waiting list for an arthriscope +/- meniscal repair +/- acl reconstruction.  My letter said I was a category B, desirable to have it operated on within 90 days.  I still haven’t seen an official date and its now past the 90 day period.

My second update for you guys is… I HAVE A NEW JOB and HAVE ALREADY HAD A PROMOTION!  Well, it’s new for you guys but I’ve been there for about 6 months now.  What happened to my old job, I hear you ask?  Well, I  can’t go into the full ins and outs of what happened but in a nut shell, I was made redundant.  It was a long time coming at that company and probably the best outcome, looking back now.  This happened towards the end of April and I job searched for about 2 months and enjoyed spending some of my pay out package on shoes and clothes!

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So, how did I land this job?  My previous boss told me about a job going at his wife’s work and he thought I would be really good at it.  I kept the job in the back of my mind, in case my job search was not going as successfully as I planned.  As I was exploring Seek and Career One for jobs, I gave this job more though.  It wasn’t originally what I was looking for (I was looking for PA/EA work as I had been a PA for the last 5 years) but a change is always good.  The job was a multi tasking role within a big project that the company had acquired.  It’s main focus on was analyzing data and creating future plans for each branch of the project.  It was one a year project so I thought, why not try something new and have something else to add to your resume.  Between being told about the job originally and my thought of trying something new, it was about a 2 week period.  I had no idea on whether the job was still going and if they had even stopped searching for people.

I bit the bullet and called my old boss’s wife and had a chat to her about the job.  She told me they were doing interviews that day and the next day.  She also said that I would need to speak with the Project Manager to see if he was keen on interviewing me.  He happened to be in the office and she passed me on.   I spoke with him for a few minutes and asked whether he was still looking for people.  He told me that they had interviewed some people today.  I then asked him straight up if I could come in for an interview the next day, fearing that I may have acted too forward.  He agreed on a time and I sent through my resume.

Fast forward to the interview and everything went great.  Another gentleman was in on the interview with me and at the end of the interview asked me about my hobbies and interests.  The Project Manager asked me about my photography and I said I’m still learning and teaching myself but I really enjoy it.  The other guy took notice that I loved football (soccer) and asked if I followed any teams.  I questioned if he meant the EPL (English Premier League) and he said yes.  I replied with Liverpool.  He then turned to the project manager and said, ‘We don’t need to interview anyone else.’

I got sneaky a call from my old boss’s wife that night to say that it wasn’t confirmed I had the job but it was pretty close.

Welcome to Ricoh Australia.  I’ve moved from ye’ old sticky tape to photocopiers!
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6 months down the track I have finally been granted the opportunity I had been waiting for since I got made redundant.  A opening in the project team saw some shuffling within the office and I was given the opportunity to become the Victorian State Manager’s Executive Assistant.  I was only in the position for about 2 weeks before we went on our Christmas break so it will be a test in the new year to see how I go.  Hopefully I can keep you updated!

The only pain in the bum thing is travelling to Port Melbourne every day.   The train ride in is just over an hour long and then I catch a connecting bus which takes about 15 minutes.

The final piece on information that I probably need to update you on is the #cuteboy situation.   Last time I posted about him, we were just chilling and getting to know each other.  Let’s just end this with, its now #boyfie. <3

It’s been way too long,
C. x

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P.s. I am going to post my fitness updates and results on my Cancer Council run in a different entry.  I don’t want to bore you guys too much! ;)

Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Nine

*The Adventure Continues*

JUly 6th 2012
DAY TWENTY NINE!!

I woke and it was our last day of tour.  We didn’t have anything planned except for a long ride back to London, where there was dinner planned for any keen participants at The London Pub. We said good bye to those staying on in Amsterdam and those who were dropped off at the airport.  I was sad but excited about starting my own adventure.

It was a typical travel day with glorious landscapes and Arnie playing every time we needed to stop.

We arrived in London late in the afternoon (possibly even early evening!) and we played our tour song ‘So Good’  by B.O.B one more time.  I shed a tear because even though I hadn’t got on with a few of the group, I had spent the last 30 days with them and some of them had become quite good friends of mine.

It was at this point, Cindy (our TM) made the annoucement that we were her first ever tour and that we would always hold a special place in her heart.  That made  me smile and shed a few more tears but happy ones.

After dropping off my luggage at my hotel, I made my way back to The London Pub and had a few quite froffies to finish off a chapter in my 8 week adventure.

I was sad it had finished but glad because I knew what was happening next and it was going to be a blinder.

The adventure never really ends,
C. x

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Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Eight

*The Adventure Continues*

July 5th 2012
DAY TWENTY EIGHT!!

Wow, did I feel like crap.  Crap is a complete an understatement.  The words to describe how I really left cannot be aired on this blog.

Not only did I get no sleep, I spent nearly all the hours away from the bar that night, in my room, throwing up.  I was seriously regretting drowning my sorrows.  I tried to make it down for breakfast but the smell of food made my stomach even more queezy.  I had trouble standing, sitting and even laying down.  Everything made me feel like I was going to be sick, even though I had nothing left in my stomach to throw up.

The entire first part of the day was spent with my walking around aimlessly, trying to find somewhere to try and feel better.  I ended up sitting on our balcony walkway, knees bought up to my chest and head resting on my knees, in the cold.  At least I was thinking about being cold, rather than thinking about feeling sick.

I stayed there for a while; people passed me on the walkway and I either ignored them or grunted.  I did not care on little bit.

Just after midday, I was able to shuffle around a little bit and muster up the courage to walk to the post office.  I needed to send things home as I still had 3 weeks worth of travelling and having excess luggage of 10kg+ was definitely going to be an issue.  I managed to cut down my suitcase by approx half, which gave me the max limit for my Haggis Tour, 15kg.  Off to the post office I walked and hoped these boxes got home safe.  They carried all my heels I’d bought so far (3 pairs) and a whole heap of other souvenirs.  After working out my own luggage and helping others with theirs, it was time for our afternoon canal cruise and dinner.

I hadn’t eaten all day which probably wasn’t a bad thing as I was still feeling pretty average.  The canal cruise was interesting and there some interesting stories on how houses were built leaning forward so you could winch furniture upstairs from the outside for 2 reasons. 1; the staircases were too skinny to fit the likes of a bed or couch and 2; The furniture didn’t smash into the house on its way up.  We also learnt that people used to pay tax on how many windows they had on their street front and that one person built his house one window wide so he didn’t have to pay excess tax.

Dinner was at an Asian Restaurant and I was still reluctant to eat something.  However, when they starting bringing out the food, my stomach quickly realized I was starving.  After about 5 courses, it was time to head out on the town for the last night of our tour.  I had no interest in drinking and neither did a few of the other girls from the night before, so we all decided to head into the Red Light District to get Lauren a tattoo on her foot.

The tattoo parlour was super cool and super clean.  I didn’t feel nervous for Lauren.  In fact, I think if I had been there 10 minutes longer than we were, I may have just come home with a tattoo too.  However that did not happen.  She got “There’s no place like home” on the top of her foot.  It did look pretty sweet.

After that, we cabbed it back to the hotel and went straight to bed.  No drinking and no partying.  I didn’t need a hangover on the last day of travel.

Last day tomorrow.  Stay tuned.
C. x

*To Be Continued*

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Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Seven

*The Adventure Continues*

July 4th 2012
DAY TWENTY SEVEN!!

Only two more sleeps to go and that will be the end. NOOO!! :( Today was our last proper travel day and what was waiting for us at the end was going to be epic.  We had two stops before we made it into Amsterdamage Amsterdam.

Our first stop was small cheese/clog farm called Irene Hoeve.  I found it a little strange that they made cheese and clogs in the same building but hey, this was Holland and they can do what they please.  I am not a fan of cheese unless its on pasta or pizza so I didn’t take a huge interest.  The clog demonstration however, was a little more interesting.  The demonstration was pretty cool and the bloke actually made a clog while we watched. After the demonstration, we could take a little while in the gift shop, buying clogs if we wanted to.  I didn’t  buy a wearable pair but bought a small pink souvinor pair that I could look at to remember my time at the farm.  I also  bought my mum a desk clog which had pens in it, so she coould take it to work.  Also in the gift shop were “un-cheese/clog-like” items like beanies with ginormous pom poms and plaits.  I totally bought 2; both read Amsterdam on the side, but one in pink and one in blue, aka; one is mine and one is for my brother.  That was the end of our cheese/clog adventure and we were about to take on some bicycles before heading in Amsterdam itself.

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Moving on and into the small town of Edam, and we were on a mission to find bicycles and windmills.  We walked from the bus and searched through the small town (wasn’t that difficult) to find the Bike-A-Dijk Shed.  Riding another ‘cruiser’ style bike,  I wasn’t the greatest but I definitely wasn’t the worst.  We road around the town until we came to a big windmill in a paddock and we parked out bikes on the side of the road, and all stood in front to get this most awesome photo!! That’s all we did in Edam. It was a shame we didn’t get more time but we had a schedule and it must be obeyed.  There were much more ahh.. interesting things to see later on in the day.

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WARNING: I am talking about Amsterdam here people.  Everyone knows (or should know) it’s legal here to buy women in windows and smoke/consume substances that are actually banned and illegal here in Australia and most other places in the world.  If you are likely to get offended by politically incorrect information, I suggest you carry on with whatever you were doing before you came across this blog, because the rest of this entry is not so proper.  I’d like you to come back and visit tomorrow though, because there will be a friendlier entry.  You have been warned.

We arrived in Amsterdam in the afternoon and had time to settle our bags into our rooms.  The room I was in had to be one of the smallest in the hotel.  It was TINY with 2 sets of bunks and you definitely could not swing a cat in there.  On the way into Amsterdam, we all got told about shows that play in Amsterdam every night that is not included on the option extras.  It was put to the crew and it was a unanimous vote was cast and everyone was going.   We had dinner then got back on the coach and set off for our surprise show.

No cameras and no phones were allowed and on entry you were given two free drink cards.  Sipping on a strong vodka, I kind of had an idea what to expect but I don’t actually think anything could have prepared anyone for what was in front of us. There were 3 “acts” and in between each act was an entertainment piece. All “acts” and intervals went for approx. 15-20 minutes, After the first act, the first entertainment piece was a lovely dance piece by a classy women….

HOLD UP… REWIND… This doesn’t sound nearly as awkward as it was… This is what really happened.

We were given 2 free drink cards to try and lighten the mood and awkwardness of a sex show. Yep, people on stage, completely naked, doing the naughty thaanngg in front of about 100 people. There were 3 couples to come and entertain us then 3 stripper acts (1 between each couple). These couples were apparently auditioned and were professionals in this line of work. 2 vodkas down and I wasn’t feel any less awkward about this ‘situation’ but I was grateful I wasn’t picked to go up on stage.

Coming out of the show, people were deciding on where to go and what “Activities” they wanted to par take in. I, along with half a dozen other girls decided to have a quiet night at the hotel bar and party hard the next night, as it was our last night of tour. Creating the best party bus atmosphere on the way home, we danced in the isles and over the seats until it was time to disembark to the bar. I didn’t plan on staying long as I had already had a somewhat “interesting” night so I took down 20 euros and thought, that should last long enough.

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I couldn’t have been more off my mark this night, if I tried. There is a saying that “the best nights are unplanned” and this was certainly heading that way. Endless free shots, cheap vodkas and dancing up a storm was only the beginning of the night. I remember the boys returning home after being lost in the red light district for 3 hours, their brains, ah, not functioning well from some bad mushrooms they ate. I remember having a massive d&m with Jess and Matt but don’t quite remember what it was about. It was at this point, I ordered another drink from the bar and the bus driver from the other group we were staying with, came up and started chatting. I told him I wasn’t interested. He stormed out, angry I’d rejected him and I thought it was probably a good time to call it a night. I started to make my way up to my room until I though “$%”£ it”, I’m having a great night, I don’t need some fool ruining it for me. I marched myself back into the bar and sank a shot.

That’s about all I remember. I don’t have any idea on how I got to my room, let alone on the top bunk. If I had known what I was going to feel like in a few hours, I would have just gone to bed, like I’d planned.

Tomorrow is our last day and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Until then,
C. X

*To Be Continued*

Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Six

*The Adventure Continues*

July 3rd 2012
DAY TWENTY SIX!!

At this point in time we were on our last legs for the tour having only 3 more days to go. :( Today we would leave the spooky, eerie Swiss Alps for the Rhine Valley in Germany.  We were to have a few stops along the way to break up the journey.

Travel days were more becoming about sleep rather than watching the wilderness pass us by through the bus window.  It was a quiet day, having had the party in the Bomb Shelter last night and a few sorer heads than the night before.

Our first stop was just over the border of Germany, and into the smallish town of Heidelberg.   Some say this was the birth place of gummy bears (and even if they weren’t correct on the town, they were definitely correct on the country) so naturally everyone wanted to sort out the best bears they could find.  I cannot stand gummy bears.  Maybe its because they are so chewy and I’m just lazy but really, I just don’t like the  rubbery texture.  I chose to use the hour or so exploring and taking photos.  I may have also looked in a few shoe shops but was unlucky in purchasing anything.  They have an old castle which I am sure  you can explore and I would have loved to but as I said, with only an hour to explore, there definitely wasn’t enough time.  I tried to get some photos but due to the lack in time and so many tall buildings in between the castle and myself, it was difficult.

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We then weaved our way through the valleys, following the Rhine River and passing many vineyards and castles along the way.  We took in the site of  Lorelei Rock and was told of it’s history and folklore as we continued our way through the Rhine Valley. We stopped in the small town of St. Goar to learn how they create porcelain beer steins.  To me and some of my fellow contikians, it was more of a sales pitch rather than an explanation on how they were made.  I had make a promise to myself to buy my dad a stein for his birthday, regardless of the cost.  They literally had thousands. I was browsing through them when I spotted some Harley Davidson LIMITED Edition ones.  My dad owns a Harley and definitely looks like a scary bikie to most people.  It was THE perfect present.  I got them to send it home for me as I didn’t want it broken in my suitcase.  It cost me a pretty penny but it was the only present I had got for my dad and he was definitely worth all the money I paid.  (I didn’t eat for a week though)  Across the road, was a store that made real cuckoo clocks and hold the Guiness Book of Records Record for the World’s largest free standing (but actually hanging) cuckoo clock.  I didn’t find it viable  to buy one of  those as well, so I just stuck with the beer stein.

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Shuttling back aboard the coach, we made our way through St Goar and up the Rhine Valley to a small and very old town.  It had a pub in which all our rooms were owned  by and crowded around the tables and stairs outside to enjoy a few beers and dinner.  It was a pretty quiet night for the crew but the next two days were to be pretty crazy… AMSTERDAM!

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C. x

*To Be Continued*

Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Five

*The Adventure Continues*

July 2nd 2012
DAY TWENTY FIVE!!

Today we were to take the world’s highest cog rail up Jungfrau Mountain to see some brilliant views of the Swiss Alps that engulfed the small town of Lauterbrunnun.  The cog rail was pretty cool and it’s carriages were bright yellow.  It was to take about an hour to get to the top and we would have several stops so people could take photos.  There were a few sore heads on the train from drinking the night before.  I was only tired from having a very shit sleep and was certain I, along with others, had been bitten by bed bugs.  They were nasty little creatures that enjoy biting you, just to you are reminded of their presence by scratching all the time.

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On the way up the mountain, the weather was overcast but it make more a more eerie feeling when photographing the ginormous cliff faces and alps.  As we got higher and higher in altitude, the weather turned sour.  A massive blizzard was cooking up a storm on the top of Jungfrau and it wasn’t about to stop jusst because we came to visit.  I might add in here that it costs approx. $135 CHF to travel up the mountain, which is equivalent to approx $150 AUD today. Unfortunately, because of this blizzard, all outdoor activities were cancelled and some viewing platforms were closed.  Looking out the windows was like looking at a blank sheet of paper, blank and boring.  The fog and clouds were so thick that no matter how hard you tried, it wasn’t at all possible to see through them.

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There was one section of the complex that allowed you to venture outside and see snow.  I know a few people on our tour had never seen snow before so this was an awesome experience or them, but for me?  It was cold, wet and blowing a gail, so I didn’t stay out there long.  I stayed long enough to look like I was shovelling snow and  make a tiny snowball and take a selfie. I didn’t fancy being soaked to the bone and making my cold worse.

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Unlucky water droplet on the lens! :(

Unlucky water droplet on the lens! :(

The only thing that was remotely good about the experince was the ice palace which had heaps of ice sculptures carved out and placed in what seemed like a huge igloo.  Swissman (aka Jayden) and I went exploring and shuffled our way through the tunnels.  Obviously it was cold, but the ice sculptures were pretty amazing and had so much detail.

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All in all, our experience on Jungfrau was not a great one and it definitely wasn’t worth the $135 CHF I paid, basically to just visit a gift shop.  If someone could guarantee me that the weather would be clear and sunny, I may consider another visit, but other than that, it’s just a tick off the list of things to do; been there, done that.

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Coming back into town, I had remembered I needed to relook at the Haggis tour.  There were still vacancies so I decided to book even thought I hadn’t yet heard back from my parents.  I had a feeling they would much rather me travel with another tour group than travel on my own.  Done and paid, I made my way back to camp to do some washing.  It was a rare thing for you to have good washing facilites so you had to take advantage of them when available.  While waiting for my clothes, I ventured into the Bomb Shelter and the bar tender poured me a drink.  A few others came in and we chilled while the bar tender was handing out tiny bottles of Red Bull Liqueur.  I still have mine, unbroken and sealed.  I don’t like the taste of Red Bull so I decided to keep it was a momento.

By that time it was ready to head up for dinner and for me to clear away dishes again.  The other dishies were just as helpful as the night before but I didn’t complain.  It wasn’t going to do anyone any good.

That night was a red and white party in the bomb shelter.  I wasn’t really interested in partying it up as I still had a bit of a head cold and the freezing weather hadn’t helped my system. I crashed early that night, knowing that we had an interesting day tomorrow.

Germany was back and that meant more beer. ;)

C. x

*To Be Continued*

P.s. Here are some photos of the town as we walked back to camp from the cog rail.

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Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Four

*The Adventure Continues*

July 1st 2012
DAY TWENTY FOUR!!

Today was a travel day and to be honest, it was probably one of the two most miserable days on tour weather wise.

We hoped on the bus in Hopfgarten, headed for the Swiss Alps. We were to take a lunch stop in Vaduz, Liechtenstein and a mid afternoon stop in Lucerne to do some watch shopping.

After crossing the border into Liechtenstein, we stopped at a cafe for lunch and had a chance to get our passport stamped in the 6th smallest country in the world. I got out some Swiss Francs out and and bought lunch which was a schniztel sandwich and chocolate milkshake. It was much nicer than the usual pringles and soft drink for lunch.

A small model of the castle in Liechienstein

The heaven’s opened up on our way to Lucerne and it didn’t stop for anyone. Arriving in the bucketing rain, we walked across the Wooden Chapel Bridge but didn’t really get to take the view in as 1, it was bucketing with rain and 2, we just wanted to get somewhere warm. I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t get any photos of the bridge and surrounding buildings. Here is what Lucerne looks like on a sunny day, beautiful isn’t it?

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These photos are  what Lucerne looked like on the day we arrived.

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Harry’s Watch Store was our next stop and I was beyond excited about this experience. I had said from the start of my trip that I was going to buy a Swiss made watch in Switzerland! YAY!

It was warm and dry when we got into Harry’s which was a relief to everyone. I was excited about the watches but most people were pretty happy just being out of the rain. We got our own special welcome then was left to explore for what probably was an between half an hour to a hour. I was not leaving before I had bought a watch so I had to scramble back downstairs and start hunting out the perfect piece. I tried on a few ‘more expensive’ brands but nothing seemed to be taking my fancy until I found Swatch; bright, bold and fun.

I browsed the selection, noticing a few watches that I definitely took my fancy. One was standing out like a sore thumb (in a good way!!). It ticked all the right boxes: Bright and eye-catchy, silver/metal (not plastic or rubber), dimenties (shiny shiny) and it was a shade of pink (ok, it was more purple, but I could live with that ). The one box it gained a cross in was that the face was quite large. I have really small wrists and generally larger faced watches don’t suit. I looked but declined before I tried it on; however none of the others I liked really ‘stood out’ when tried them on. A few other girls had seem me looking at it and said, just try it on Candice! So I got the assistant and we ventured off to the display cabinet and got it out. She took it off the stand and handed it to me and I felt this flood of nervousness come upon me. I really liked this one but what if it didn’t look good? I’d have to start all over again. Luckily for me, and for everyone else in the shop I was holding up (tehe!), it was a perfect fit. The face surprisingly didn’t look overly massive and it was just perfect., TICK, TICK, TICK! (Bad pun?) It wasn’t too badly pricing either so everything was falling into place. (It is something I wear every day now that reminds me of my greatest holiday to date.)

Swatch watches are super awesome!

Swatch watches are super awesome!

Venturing back the coach and it was still raining so we got wet, again. It was time we made our way to Lauterbrunnan, Swiss Alps. The scenery during the trip was incredible even though it was raining the entire way there.

On the way to Lauterbrunnan, Cindy, our tour manager, said that if anyone wanted to book addition trips after this Contiki, to see her after we arrived. I still hadn’t decided on what I was going to do in Scotland for 11 days so I thought I might see if there were any trips around the time I was there. Someone also mentioned to me a company called ‘Haggis Adventures‘. They are a sister company of Busabout (another travel company who do tours around Europe). Haggis did tours just around the UK. I thought to myself, that sounds like a pretty good idea, I’ll chase that up when we arrive in case Contiki don’t have any tours.

After arriving at the Camping Jungfrau, we stored our bags in our rooms. Most rooms had some sort of balcony and our view was incredible. I took some photos and planned on sending them to my mum.

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I look some time out before dinner and went down to the computer lab, near the reception. I logged in for about an hour and found a Haggis Tour called, Island Explorer. It was a 7 day tour which departed from Edinburgh. It was going to cost me approx. $530 excluding accommodation which is paid for on the way. The tour left on the Saturday after I was in Liverpool and came back on the Friday night and I was due to leave Scotland on the Sunday morning. It fitted in perfectly but I still wasn’t sure because I hadn’t heard whether Contiki had any spots left. Cindy was going to get back to me after dinner. I decided to sleep on it, I sent an email off to my mum asking what she thought of the tour.

Dinner was up next and it was my turn to help out. Everyone was assigned a job and split up over all the stops we had. It was my turn to be what was called a ‘dishie’. I had to clear all the dirty dishes and take them into the kitchen once the people had finished eating. Not a huge problem when you have people helping you but that was the issue; lack of help. I ended up staying back late because not one else took the initiative to do the small jobs like wipe down the tables and push their own chairs in. I was however, rewarded by the forever grateful on site staff. A handful of chuppa chups, shot of Chilli liqueur and a hawaiian lay later, I ventured off to my room to get ready for what was happening after dinner. That was the EURO 12 Grand Final!

As most of you already know, I love my football and two of the greatest national teams in the world were eyeing off the trophy; Spain and Italy. Naturally, due to my major dislike for the Italian team (who robbed us in the 2006 World Cup), I was cheering for Spain. The game was a cracker and to my own delight and the hatred of others, Spain won with an impressive 4-0 victory!

During the game, our tour manager Cindy has confirmed with me that Contiki had no spots left on their England/Scotland tours. I had showed her the Haggis tour and she though it sounded great and that I would learn a lot more going with others, rather than by myself. I had pretty much convinced myself that I was going to book but I just wanted to see what my mum thought of the tour.

I didn’t stay long in the bomb shelter bar that night because I knew that tomorrow was going to be a big day. I was excited for the snow and an adventure on a cog rail.

Until then,
C. x

*To Be Continued*

Adventure-A-Day April – Excerpt Twenty Three

*The Adventure Continues*

June 30th 2012
DAY TWENTY THREE!!

Today was a jam packed day so I am going to break it into four main parts where you can still see my entire day but miss all the boring bits.

Action Packed Part One: White Water Rafting!
THIS WAS INSANE! I am so glad I did this. The water was so refreshing and jumping out of a raft into an Austrian river was one of the most exhilarating things ever. I was in the lead boat with the most experienced guide. I felt a little safer! His nickname was Scouse. This guy was awesome! He was of course a LFC fan, being a Liverpudlian or colloquially “Scouser”. YAY! I didn’t have a waterproof camera so I had to rely on the photos that were taken by the rafting company. It cost me around 15 euros for 2 professional photos.

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Action Packed Part Two: Paragliding!
After feeling super from the white water rafting, I was craving some another adrenaline rush. After being rushed off the coach, I jumped on the next bus which tumbled down the road so I could jump off a mountain. Pairing with an Austrian instructor who had been jumping for 12 years made me feel pretty safe until it was time to take off. Tahlia, my contiki buddy who took the same lift carriage as me, jumped before us. It looked pretty simple. Just run full pelt down a hill until the instructor tells you to jump. Piece of cake, right?

Absolutely not! As I was running down the hill, our parachute decided to think for itself and decided it didn’t want to fly today so came crashing back down to earth. I, along with my instructor, who I was strapped to, came tumbling to the ground and rolled down the hill to where it had landed. After untangling and detaching myself from my instructor, we walked back up the hill and my I held my head down in embarrassment. I was almost certain, I could possibly die from this so called adrenaline pumping activity. After overthinking my own possible demise, I was re-strapped to the instructor and running down the hill again. Thankfully, the parachute lifted correctly this time and off we went, flying over 1000m in the air. The feeling was incredible. I had already experienced something similar when I went parasailing in the Greek Isles but this was much cooler. We would determine on our direction and speed and even do tricks. The instructor alternated our left and right steering handles and we were swinging almost parallel to the ground. He then changed our direction so we were spinning around like a cyclone . It was insanely scary but exhilarating at the same time. Landing wasn’t graceful, sliding on your bum along the ground but at least you knew you were safe.

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Action Packed Part Three: Walk around Hopfgarten! (Ok, not so action packed but a nice stroll)
After arriving back from paragliding, I grabbed my Canon from my room and went for a stroll. There weren’t many houses near our camp and I needed to get some cash out for the night ahead so I set off to find the nearest local town which was in fact further than I had anticipated. If I had known it was going to be a hike, I may have invested in hiring a bicycle and using pedal power. Nevermind! I guess if I had, I would have missed taking these wonderful photos.

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Action Packed Part Four: White, Bright and Tight Party
I had invested in a fluro pink lace dress when shopping in Vienna, so I was set for the night. I had also bought a few bright bandanas, headbands and bracelets for the occasion which clashed with my pink dress but I guess that was the aim of the game. Everyone participated in the event and there was some very very bad pole dancing as our entertainment. All in all, a good night and many drinks were had. Check out the few shots I did get.

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Well, that about sums up the day nicely.

C.x

P.s. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANNA

*The Adventure Continues*