Edinburgh Week One

Edinburgh, Scotland, Travel

I have been in Edinburgh for just over a week now and already my time has been filled with ups and downs. We trained from Banbury two days after Christmas. Yes, we are idiots. We didn’t have seats for a good three hours, we spent that time cramped with other disgruntled travelers in the small section between carriages. It could of been worse though and we got to Edinburgh eventually. As soon as I exited Waverley Train Station and was in the middle of the Christmas Market I was in love. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. The bright lights, carnival rides and the sound of bag pipes filling the air. But you know the way the universe works, every high is followed with a low. So we hopped in a black taxi, feeling good and filled with hopes, dreams and all that jazz. As it happens we chose the stupidest possible time to move to Edinburgh. We moved the week of a little thing called New Years Eve – ever heard of it? Well Edinburgh does New Years big time with a festival called Hogmanay. This means that accommodation prices are ridiculous and all reasonably priced places are booked out months in advance so the only place we could find was a wee way out of the city. We told the taxi driver where we were staying which was Sighthill to which she replied “why are you staying out there?” As soon as we got to our accommodation I knew that it was the low I had been waiting for. The house was down a quiet, dark street, well away from the city. I had booked it through Air BNB but for the place we were staying it was the first time they had ever used Air BNB so didn’t really know what they needed to provide for two people to stay. I’ll give you a little hint – you need to provide two pillows. We got inside and were shown to our room which looked fine until I noticed the one single pillow. I asked if there were any others and the host got confused and said no. The place was also filthy and smelt like burning Chinese food but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get back to Edinburgh itself shall we!

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We’ve spent our days exploring the streets and different areas of Edinburgh – Old Town, New Town, Tollcross, Bruntsfield, Grassmarket and Leith. Each are so different and so lively except for Leith but that’s another story. A lot of our time has also been consumed with trying to find a permanent living place to escape the aforementioned hell hole. I’m going to be honest guys it was slim pickings out there for houses. I thought New York had some weirdos looking for room mates but Edinburgh gives it a run for it’s money. Each place was stranger than the last. We had almost given up hope until the angel that is Maureen called. Maureen is our lovely new land lady who found a room wanted ad I had posted online. We came to view the place and took it straight away. It’s a two bedroom house close to Holyrood Park which is beautiful and filled with swans which kind of terrify me – also a different story for another time. So there’s another high for you and soon enough the universe tapped me on the shoulder to serve me that next low.

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First dinner at our new house

First dinner at our new house

A few days after arriving in Edinburgh I had a telephone interview for a job as a Travel Consultant which would be an ideal job for me. I thought the interview went really well but turns out I didn’t get it. Ouch. Onwards and upwards though and back on the job hunting grind. I am so happy we chose Edinburgh as our next adventure though. I think we’ll have fun here. It’s beautiful, the people are friendly and I get to hang out with Abi whenever the hell I want. I lived with Abi back in New Zealand and it’s pretty damn cool to be living in the same city again.

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Until next times friends
x

Take A Hike Buddy

New York, Travel

To be honest with you it is quite the miracle that I am home safe and sound writing this. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Because of the constant energy New York has it can get quite tiring and sometimes you need to escape, so Will and I did just that. Before leaving New Zealand I would quite regularly go for hikes in the Waitakere Ranges which was amazing. When we caught the Metro-North train upstate I was expecting hikes of the same beginner-intermediate intensity. Well let me tell you, this shit almost killed me. It was a day filled with wrong turns, mishaps, stunning views and by the end of it extremely sore legs.

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I had wanted to get out in to nature for a while so did some googling and found this link. We decided on Bear Mountain State Park as we had seen photos that looked incredible. The Metro-North train only stops at hiking stops such as Bear Mountain on the weekend and only one door of the train opens for you to exit. We missed our stop. Manitou was the stop we were meant to get off at and then walk across Bear Mountain Bridge but the conductor was a real shithead and didn’t explain that you had to be on the small area between train carts that specifically says “NO STANDING”. Go figure as to why we thought that’s not where we should be waiting. Any who there was an absolutely lovely lady passenger on the train who told us that a couple stops away was another hiking trail and she explained exactly where we needed to go. It wasn’t our trail of choice but what the hell.

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Everyone in New York must have been needing to get out into the wilderness because so many people got off at the next hiking stop. We followed the ladies directions which lead us to a desk with two rangers at the beginning of trail helping people. His first words- “This is an extremely challenging trail which involves rock climbing where you need to have your arms and legs free”. Nope. Not happening. My response? “Is there an easier option”? There was! Hallelujah! He showed us on a map where we needed to go, how long it would take and where the best views were. When we asked if we could take a copy of the map he said “Sure, for $2”. Obviously we weren’t THAT far out of New York City.

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Even though we still managed to get extremely lost, it would have been a lot worse had we not purchased that map. The first part of the hike I found incredibly difficult, it was mostly up hill and we climbed 1000 ft. We were also idiots and only took a 500ml bottle of water each which we almost finished just on the train ride. It was tough. As Will kept pointing out, you can last two days without water and we are complaining and dreaming about our next beverage after 20 minutes. Fair call. Our lunch spot was incredible. Sprawling views of the Hudson River and other state parks. I packed tuna for our lunch but stupidly left the can opener at home! So Will being the Survivor fanatic he is put his hours of watching to use and bashed the can open on a rock. My hero.

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After lunch was when things started to go wrong. The ranger had told us to start on the Yellow Trail till we get to the White Trail. Follow the White Trail for 10 minutes until you get to the Blue Trail. From there continue on to the Red Trail. It took us hours to find the White Trail. Each point where a new colour would appear was very confusing and the map did not give us a good indication of where to go. We eventually got to the White Trail and then to the Blue but we took a wrong turn. After what must have been 3 hours of hiking we thought we were coming to and end but instead ended up at a kids summer camp. We exited the park on to a huge green field with a climbing wall and soccer goals. Surely this couldn’t be the finishing point. It wasn’t. But it had water fountains! So after our run in with severe dehydration (not really), we ran to the fountains and guzzled that cold water like never before.

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We managed to find some people who gave us directions how to get back to the train station. This involved walking through the entire camp which was incredible! It was just like the summer camps you see in the movies. It turned out to be one of my favourite things I have seen while I have been here. At the end of the camp we ended up back on the trail…for another 2+ hours!! That’s not even the best bit though. Once we finished the trail we still had a 30 minute walk to get to the train. I slept real good on the way back to the city, reeeeal good. It was a great day though, filled with adventure which included me sliding down a hill on my ass. That happened when we took ANOTHER wrong turn and had to trudge through thorn bushes. Ahh nature. You can’t beat it.

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What other hikes should I get lost on in NY State? Please let me know!

Until next time friends..

xx

Fourth of July

New York, Travel

Well it is certainly getting hot here in NYC! Today we had a scorcher of 32 degrees. Urgh, it was disgusting. This pasty lady is not meant for sweltering heat. We celebrated Independence Day here in ‘Murica and it was fabulous. My favourite holiday I’ve celebrated here so far. Most New Yorkers leave the city for the long weekend so we made the most of the quiet streets and no lines for restaurants. Ironically my day was spent surrounded by Kiwis rather than Americans. But what a great bunch of Kiwis they are. photo1 The festivities began at The Essex in Lower East Side for a boozy bunch. It was delicious, food always puts me in a good mood. Lots of laughs and mimosas later we were on the move but the rain stopped us in our tracks and ruined the fun outdoor activities we had planned. Never fear though, off to Brooklyn it was for Cranium and shelter! Our kiwi clan spent the afternoon drinking beer, playing games and eating pizza, so we got a little bit of American tradition in! photo1 We finally got the weather on our side and the clouds began to clear. Each year New York has an incredible fireworks display for the fourth of July. Usually in the Hudson River but this year they were in the East River which is between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Lucky for us we have a rooftop that gets sprawling views of the city, so once the sun came out we hiked up 6 flights of stairs to finish the night off on the roof.

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It was a splendid day, with splendid people in a splendid city. I bet the word splendid sounds funny to you now.

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Oh and in case you missed it – I got published on HelloGiggles.com. Click below to check out my piece “The Pros and Cons of Having Bangs”. HelloGiggles Until next time, friends.. X

It’s Not all Fun and Games

New York, Travel

This post may be a bit of a downer but I thought it was necessary. Since deciding to move overseas and especially since moving, I have had a lot of the same responses from people. Usually along the lines of “How did you manage to do that?”, “Oh my god you are living the life” or “I am so jealous/envious of your life”. That last one is something I have never wanted to make people feel. Mainly because, in New Zealand especially, everyone has equal opportunity. So going overseas is within reach and what I have done is not out of the ordinary. Also because, while I have had an amazing time so far, it most definitely has not been all fun and games. Hence the title of this post.

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Moving from New Zealand to New York City has given me some of the highest highs and lowest lows to date. I have met amazing people, seen and done incredible things all while finding out so much about myself. But on the other side I have never been this broke in my life, I get major anxiety and am underpaid and under appreciated. I am not living a life of luxury by any means. Most of what I post about I have done for free because I don’t have the money to spend. I can’t afford a fancy brunch on a Williamsburg Rooftop so instead I go to The Met where you pay by donation (meaning you can pay 1c) and go to their rooftop garden with just as spectacular views without the overpriced Eggs Benedict. While working ladies lunch, I sit at my desk eating tuna and beans. My washing sits for weeks because I can’t scrape enough quarters together for the machine. But still, I’m living in New York so it’s okay. Well at least that’s what I tell myself.

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This city tests my character daily. Wherever in the city I go, New York shows me the extremes of life. A well-dressed, young man leaving his Manhattan townhouse to get into his Mercedes, heading for his summer house. Compare this to what you find when you walk 5 meters and turn the corner. An older man, his clothes filthy and torn, leaving his small, hardly sheltered nook under some scaffolding with his shopping cart full of cans and plastic bottles looking to get whatever money he can to feed himself. It tests my character not because I am scared by the homeless people but because it makes me feel helpless and hopeless. I am confronted with this constantly which forces me to acknowledge that these people and this issue exists it shows me that we as a human race are not doing our part. I know that I could do more. It is easy to ignore if it doesn’t effect us directly. This is the main part that makes me feel hopeless. What I have also seen with these polar opposite ways of life is that those who are less fortunate are the most grateful and understanding. Then there are the people who are more fortunate that seem to live this life of entitlement. If they could remove themselves for one second and just hear the problems they are complaining about as they sip on their Venti Soy Triple Shot Espresso, or whatever trendy bullshit people drink these days, surely they would see how insignificant their problems and their ego are. Well you would hope.

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My time here has been an emotional roller coaster but of course people don’t like to show their vulnerability and weaknesses. With the rise of social media it is there for people to show their highlight reel rather than their behind the scenes. I’m pretty sure that’s a Taylor Swift quote so thanks Tay Sweeze. But this is what I have done. I stand by the fact that Facebook should not be used as a diary but next time you see someone living overseas or doing something else that you may be envious of remember the above Tee Swizzle quote. There is so much more to a person than what they show online. With every photo album shared of great times, there are just as many tough times that aren’t seen. I respect and admire people who use social media rarely or not at all. I would love to be one of you, but my mother would kill without this portal into my life – Hi Mum.

This all may come across a little hypocritical and you make think what the hell is she talking about. Don’t get me wrong, this year has been an amazing opportunity and experience which I wouldn’t trade in. It has made me a stronger person and more aware. I guess moral of the story is don’t glamorize people’s lives through the internet, realize that there is more to a person than their profile and don’t ever feel envious about people doing things that you can easily achieve too.

Memorial Day Weekend

New York, Travel

Wow so a month has been past since I last wrote on here. Eeek i’m sorry. Haven’t really felt the ‘inspiration’ to update with what I’ve been up to. But here is a quick recap of the long weekend we just had here in America.

May 26th was Memorial Day which is a day for remembering Men and Women who have died while serving in the armed forces. It is also considered the unofficial start of summer. So as the majority of New Yorkers headed to their house in The Hampton’s, Will and I stayed in the city. During summer my work has ‘summer fridays’ where the office closes at 3pm. The first of these was on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend to give us an extra long weekend. I spent my few extra hours roaming East Village and Lower East Side and catching up on personal projects at Cafe Pick Me Up on Avenue A. This is one of my favourite cafes in the city, such an awesome location just across the road from Tompkins Square Park. On my way home I got caught in the rain – again. I really need to learn to have my umbrella on me at all times this time of year! But luckily got home before the major thunder and lightening storm set in!

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The forecast for the weekend was a bit iffy and was threatening rain each day. We decided to make the most of the little bits of sunshine New York was tempting us with on Saturday and take our bikes out for a ride. First stop – basketball shots in Brooklyn. All the Basketball courts you see around New York in the movies aren’t an exaggeration. They are everywhere and easily accessible. The one we were at was filled with kids who stole our ball and Will had to beg for it back.

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Pushing our limits with the rain even further we rode to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was a bit more crowded than expected with 4 wedding parties getting photos in front of the bridge. The photos would look great – yes. But being around all those strangers and foot traffic on your wedding day just sounds like unnecessary stress to me! Unfortunately on the way home our luck was out. We got caught in torrential rain and it was not slowing down anytime soon. I was drenched by the time we got home. Sickness soon set in, putting a damper on the rest of the weekend and me missing 2 days of work.

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Sunday the weather completely cleared up and it was a beautifully sticky 25 degrees. We ventured up to Queens to check out Sculpture Park. It’s like an outdoor art exhibit where they make obscure sculptures and put them on display in a park overlooking the water.

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After stocking up on Cold and Flu tablets we headed to a rooftop party just around the corner from us with a couple of kiwi friends. It was a fun night with an INCREDIBLE view. We have a small rooftop at our apartment but it is nothing like this. I’ve got a feeling summer is going to be filled with nights like these.

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We’ve been here almost 7 months now (wow that’s flown by), so that means 7 months being away from the beach and spectacular sea views. I needed a dose of the sand, the sea and the sun so off to Rockaway we went. Rockaway beach is an hour and a half subway trip from New York City. Not as accessible as the beaches back home but not bad when you are living in the depths of a concrete jungle.

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The subway was packed. So many city folk headed out to show off their bikini bods and take a dip in The Atlantic. Which was ice freaking cold btw. Because New Yorkers don’t have the luxury of a back yard or beaches everywhere they really make the most of city parks and any beach you can get to via subway. On a weekend day in summer any park in the city will be covered in people. As the beach isn’t the easiest to get to, people tend to use parks as their place to get a tan. They head down in their swimsuits, find a spot, lather in sunscreen and bake.

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The shore line of Rockaway Beach was something that really interested me. At any beach in New Zealand the shore line will be dotted with million dollar mansions because of the view. At Rockaway, it was project housing. That’s just something you wouldn’t see back home.

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While we were still in New Zealand, Will and I watched a short documentary video by The Selby about a small beachside taco shop called Rockaway Taco. The guy who created this tiny food shop was so interesting and we always said we would go check the place out when we in New York. I am so glad we did. We were in line for probably close to an hour but it was well worth it. See the video i’m talking about below.

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Impromtu Friday Night

New York, Tattoos, Travel

Firstly I would like to thank you all for the positive feedback of this blog. It means a lot that you actually enjoy reading what I have to say and find what I’m up to interesting!

Now, on to the night that quickly escalated from “Hey, wanna get a quick after work drink?” to “Hey, wanna get tattoos?!”

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My day job has been a wee bit hellish lately. Incredibly busy and struggling to find my place there. It’s a rude awakening when something that has been your dream for so long and turns out to not be such a glamorous reality. At the end of a crazy Friday and an equally crazy week, I was in need of drink. Luckily, I can always count on Jackie to join me. Must be those Taranaki genes. After Yelping multiple dive bars – my favourite kind of bar, we decided on Blue Ruin. Heaven may be overstating Blue Ruin, but it was the perfect combination of cheap beer, an amazing happy hour, hot bar maids and A LOT of Black Sabbath. This particular night of drinking ended up costing me a mere $10 at maximum. THAT ladies and gentleman is why I love America. In New Zealand, $10 would get you one drink, just.

So as the PBR’s kept flowing, the ideas they were a comin’! First, photo booth photos were a must. I am an avid lover of the photo booth. For years I have been trying to convince Will to take photo booth photos with me. Because you guys, how cute would that be? Right? But no. Even though there is a Will, there is no way. Again, Jackie saves the day and jumps at the chance. That Forever 21 photo booth didn’t know what hit them. See my finest moments below.

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A few more PBR’s, this time at Jimmy’s Corner. By now, I had text Willem saying “I’m not coming home tonight”. A good indication of where the night was heading. After discussing our love of all things Miley and deciding we were totally going to see her when she comes to New York, I came up with the next turn for the night. Tattoos! Did I mention that I love Jackie? Because again she is the only person that would be game to do this with me. Good on ya mate!

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Time to brainstorm and refuel. We needed a taste of home so Dub Pies it was. If you haven’t heard of Dub Pies, it is a New Zealand and Australian meat pie shop located in Greenwich Village. Good to know when ya feeling homesick! After pretty much swallowing a chicken vegetable pie whole, it was time to get to work. We both knew we wanted to get New York tattoos and represent our time in Brooklyn. We chose zip codes to do this. My zip code is the first and favourite place we have stayed which was in Bed Stuy with Matt and Rick. Thankfully Jackie is extremely talented and drew up the below. Done with our own handwriting. Before you say it – yes I am extremely pale.

Those crazy New York nights, you just can’t beat ’em…

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Willem was relieved that I did eventually come home and with my “prison tatt” as he lovingly put it. 11233 FOR LIFE!

4 Month Wrap Up

New York, Travel

Wow so the time has been creeping past and we have been in New York for 4 months already! That just seems insane. I remember so clearly the days leading up to leaving for New York and it not seeming real. Now I’m living here like a local, and it still doesn’t seem real.

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It’s so easy in this city to slot into a routine and become desensitised to where you are. This has definitely happened to me lately which made me hit a really low point. I make a conscious effort everyday now to look around me, appreciate where I am and take it all in. It’s easy to forget everything that I’ve done and accomplished. Because of that i’m doing a 4 month wrap up of major things, milestones and just the general awesomeness that has happened during that time.

Getting employed
I know this sounds silly and may seem like a small feat but after months of living the life of leisure aka unemployment, i’ll take this as a victory.

Jay Z live in Brooklyn
As a big Jay Z fan i would have been ecstatic seeing him live anywhere to be honest. But seeing him perform in his hometown, at the building he helped create was just incredible. The crowd knew every single world to every single song. These were his people.

Meeting amazing people
When we first arrived in New York we stayed with two random guys through Air Bnb. These two random guys have turned out to be my two very good friends, Matt and Rick. Some of my favourite times in New York have been with them.

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Riding the Subway
The best entertainment is free in this city and it’s down in the subway. Whether it be a performer at a subway station or a a group break dancing and pole dancing up and down the subway cart. I just love it. I don’t see using the subway as a chore at all, it’s the best place to see New York’s finest.

Seeing Jimmy Fallon rehearse for Saturday Night Live
Again, this probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But for me, this made my life. I’m a nerd when it comes to SNL, i’m just all about it. So when Will and I went on an NBC tour at Rockefeller Center and saw Jimmy Fallon rehearsing for SNL and he waved at us…..needless to say, I lost my shit.

The Secret Life of NYC
New York has something for everyone, giving you the ability to be whoever the hell you want. It was my mission upon coming here to see as much of this city as i possibly can. I want to see the gritty little details, the good, the bad, the fabulous and the just straight up insane. I’ve come across amazing events like Rebel Bingo, Sleep No More, found amazing stores and hidden treasures in the nooks and crannies of this thriving metropolis. That’s what i love most about New York. The secrets.

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Surviving 4 months in the toughest city on Earth

I think that’s a pretty big achievement in itself. This city either makes you or breaks you. I haven’t made it yet, but i haven’t been broken either. Yet.

I’ve been able to find a job by myself, survive while living with a crazy American, thankfully leave the place where I was living with a crazy American, challenge myself, learn about myself and figure this whole travel thing out pretty well. Things can only get better, right?

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