The Final Two Weeks

I am back in England and although I am enjoying being home and seeing my loved ones I can’t help but want to be back in Vancouver. I’m stuck in a weird limbo right now, waiting to start a new job, lots of free time on my hands but no money. Money is what I need to start my visa to get back to the place I miss so much. I follow thegoodquote on Instagram and  was reminded to “never give up on something you really want. It may be difficult to wait, but it is worse to live with regret”. I am struggling with the waiting but I’ll get there eventually.

So what better way to spend my time than write about my final two weeks in Vancouver. It really does seem like a lifetime ago now. I remember those two weeks going so quickly. Always thinking to myself to take every little thing in because I don’t know when I’ll be back. So after getting back from the Sunshine Coast I basically ate my way through my final weeks. Eating is a common ground with the majority of my friends, so what better way to say bye than eating together at my favourite restaurants.

With a beach day planned at Jericho, Cassie and I arranged to meet at 33 Acres Brewing Company for brunch. If I see avocado on a menu, 9 times out of 10 I will order it. So I went for the avocado smash, basically fancy avocado on toast with an iced latte on the side. Fueled up and ready to go we headed to the beach for a day of relaxation. The seagulls provided great entertainment and the views from Jericho didn’t disappoint. We had dinner at Chickpea. This restaurant is the bomb. I never thought I’d be one to order vegetarian/vegan food but two of my favourite restaurants are meat free. You just simply have to go to experience it in all its glory. Don’t forget to order the chickpea fries. Oh my goodness, they are out of this world. I am salivating at the thought.

I ate more and more salad rolls, knowing full well I won’t be able to find them in England. I have actually had one since I’ve been home but I’ll save that story for next time. I had donair poutine, killing two birds with one stone. Donair Town is my favourite donair spot in Vancouver. I drank Milano’s coffee and had Cup Sushi on my lunch break. Milano’s became a Starbucks alternative whilst at work. Hedgehog mocha for the win. Cup Sushi is like a Poke place. Raw fish and fresh ingredients all placed in a big bowl to enjoy. It’s never busy and the lady is so lovely. I hope it’s still there when I return.

I tried to sell my bike, well I didn’t try hard enough. Believe it or not, well my family will tell you I used to hate biking. Since owning a bike in Vancouver and working in a bike shop I’ve become a little cyclist. The thought of selling my beloved bike hit me hard. I became attached to Marilyn the Marin and only wanted the best for her. So knowing I want to go back to Vancouver, my good friend Rachelle kindly offered to babysit Marilyn in my absence. I miss you Marilyn and I miss you too Rachelle. I hope you are regularly wiping the cobwebs off her.

IMG_6441

I worked my last ever shift at Spokes. What a place. The customers were challenging, the majority of them were arseholes. But I will always remember the nice, friendly ones. My coworkers made those shifts bearable. Sometimes after working just 10 minutes I was ready to leave but my work besties never failed to put a smile on my face. They became my family in a way. I have so many awesome, life long friends from that place so I can only say thank you for that. Hopefully that is the last time for Spokes and I, although I have already said that before and I somehow ended up back there.

Vanessa and I introduced Rachelle to the best chicken wings you’ll ever find in Vancouver. Phnom Penh chicken wings are devine, don’t knock it until you try it. You’ll be describing them as devine too. Crispy, garlicy chicken wings and so affordable. You can’t go wrong. Surprisingly, I didn’t stuff myself on chicken wings so Vanessa and I went for gelato at Bella Gelateria. I’m pretty sure they’ve won awards for their ice cream. It’s something else ladies and gents.

IMG_6530

I met James for breakfast at Denny’s (I secretly love this place). If you’re a friend or family member or even followed my blog from day one, James is my ex boyfriend. We came to Canada together so it only felt right to say bye to him. We went our separate ways last September and we stayed in touch. I have no regrets and I do wish him all  the best. Although maybe I’m a little bitter that he got to stay and I had to leave. Damn you James and your dual citizenship. I’m not jealous, I promise.

I threw a deportation party at Sunset Beach. I wasn’t technically being deported, I left when I should have. Sunset Beach is definitely one of my favourite places to be in Vancouver so I thought it was a great location for my farewell bash. My friends kept saying Vancouver is sad to see you leave because the sun didn’t grace us with its presence. The weather was shit so I was utterly surprised to see so many of you amazing people turn up and wish me all the best. I couldn’t have asked for a better circle of friends in a country I didn’t know very well. The party went from a windy, cold beach to a small group of us doing shots in Capital. I can’t forget about the karaoke Jeremy and I stumbled upon after. I don’t think Sunday’s are the right night for disco dancing so we went to the next best thing, a karaoke bar. The other 6 people in the bar kindly let us singalong with them. FYI, I’m a terrible singer. I think that was a pretty good leaving party, thanks to everyone who contributed to making my night one to remember (even though some parts are still a bit foggy in my mind).

I finally managed to attend the infamous baseball night at the Ryden/Zimmer household. I know I bailed too many times so I’m pleased I got one night in before I left. The food and beer was greatly appreciated after feeling a bit ropey from the night before. You guys know how to entertain. I’m glad we can discuss the baseball across the globe. I do wish we could have squeezed one last sunset bbq in because I miss Anja’s specially sliced weiners.  Don’t forget about me.

IMG_6537

I spent my last full day running round like a headless chicken. I had brunch with my favourite Spokes girls at Red Umbrella, obviously Daisy couldn’t come (you were extremely missed). I took my beloved Marilyn to North Vancouver with Rachelle. I accompanied Rachelle on the ever so important shoe shopping. It was actually really nice to do something normal and forget about the fact I was flying home the next day. I had coffee with Jeremy and last but not least dropped off all my unwanted homeware stuff at my best Irish pals, Lauren and Lenny’s. We ate pie together for my final dinner and had all the laughs we normally do when we hang out.

I flew back to England on the evening of the 28th June, almost 4 weeks ago (sad face). I had a bit of time to squeeze last minute goodbyes in. I met Cassie at Matchstick for my favourite mocha. I did some last minute packing and dropped off a lot of unwanted clothes at the Salvation Army thrift store. I hate packing with a passion. Why can’t you just take what you want with you wherever you go. I hate being restricted to x amount of bags and weight. I think I did pretty well to fly home with one suitcase, a snowboard bag and a backpack. I met Rachelle for my final supper, even though it was lunch time. We went to Bells and Whistles and stuffed our faces with burgers. Then I dragged her to the airport to help me with my bags. Thank you so so much.

Goodbyes are difficult. I wasn’t expecting to love this place so much. I always thought I’d be happy to return home after the two years. Canada has my heart and I will return as soon as possible. So it is not goodbye but see you soon. I think I wrote the exact thing two years ago when I left the UK, how times change. I also don’t mean this in any offence to the people I care about in England. You aren’t the reason I’d rather be in Vancouver. I’d take you all back with me if I could because it’s bloody awesome and I know you’d love it just as much as me.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about my emotions just yet. I do want to write about that soon. I just want people to understand how I’m feeling because it isn’t easy coming home from a two year holiday. It doesn’t mean I’m miserable or not enjoying seeing my loved ones. Of course I love spending time with my family and friends who I’ve missed dearly over the two years. But I want to clarify a few things and hopefully help people who are in the same boat. I had a few friends who returned to England after their two year working holiday visa so I had some idea of what to expect. Maybe I can help others too.

Advertisements

2 Tickets to the Sunshine Coast

Almost a month ago, give or take a few days I went to the Sunshine Coast with Cassie. Our mutual friend from Big White lives over there so we hopped on a ferry for a day to meet our very own Sunshine Coast expert, Sage.

The day started very wet and rainy. I was close to cancelling actually. Who wants to be outdoors all day in the rain? Not me. Anyways my time in Vancouver was slowly running out so I jumped out of bed and got rain proof ready.

What started as a very, very, very wet day,  quickly transformed into a blue skies and sunshine kind of day. I didn’t want to let the rain stop me so I met Cassie and took the bus to the ferry terminal, borrowed rain mac at the ready. The ferry was shorter than I thought, definitely under an hour (if I remember rightly) and it costs less than $15 to get there and back. The ferry is such a scenic ride, regardless of the length of the crossing you’ll be entertained with the miles and miles of mountains and ocean views. I always look out for the waterfront properties, that’s the dream one day.

IMG_6423

Our tour guide and friend, Sage kindly collected us from the ferry terminal on the other side. We decided to go straight for a coffee to escape the horrendous rain. As we made our way towards Sechelt, the weather began to get progressively better. I even spotted blue skies at one point. We continued to chase the sunshine and eventually escaped the rain for the rest of the day.

First on the agenda was a small hike to Chapman Creek waterfalls, located next to a quarry which you can see from space apparently. The trail itself wasn’t very exciting but the waterfall views at the end made up for that. Along with the regular stops for salmonberry eating. Oh and I can’t forget to tell you guys that I saw a bear. Yes, that’s right one of those furry brown bears that I’ve been wanting to see ever since I landed in Canada. I couldn’t believe it, finally spotted one in the wild with about a month left on my visa. Unfortunately it was a very quick sighting and our furry friend ran off pretty sharpish. I have two witnesses and the memories so I’m happy about that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After all this excitement, we had to celebrate with an alcoholic beverage. We walked from Sage’s house to Bricker Cider Company, a local cidery in Sechelt. We got a flight each of three of their ciders. Very reasonably priced and a lovely beer garden, or cider garden I guess. The sun was still shining so we sipped our ciders and reminisced about our winter in Big White. The frambo was my favourite, tart with a fruity aroma and BC grown raspberries. It is not like your typical fruity cider but I liked that about it. I’ll be back Brickers.

Next up, food. Obviously you want to go the best places when you visit somewhere new. So I’m glad we had Sage to direct us to the local eateries. We went to Gumboot in Roberts Creek, a restaurant that focuses on local produce. I’m very rarely disappointed when it comes to food, as you’ve probably gathered from my whole blog. So I feel like I can’t rely on the “I was not disappointed” phrase but it is true. Another good food memory to add to my overflowing bank. I opted for the wild salmon burger. I haven’t eaten much salmon in Canada so it was a nice change.

IMG_6427

To help the food digest, Sage took us for a wander along Roberts Creek pier. It was beautiful. I am constantly surprised with Canada’s beauty, as ridiculous as that may sound. But seriously the views just never cease to amaze me. And as I’m writing this from England, it’s making me feel sad that I can’t just hop on a ferry to relive this moment. We just strolled down the pier, taking photos and admiring the scenery. Take me back!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The fun didn’t stop there. Honestly we packed so much into this day. And we didn’t get the early, early ferry (I’m not much of a morning person). Sage drove us to Soames Hill, a small hike similar to Deep Cove’s Quarry Rock. After a short uphill hike you are instantly rewarded with never-ending views of Vancouver Island, Keats Island, the Strait of Georgia and the town of Gibsons. It was so silent up there, definitely no awkward silences. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back to spending money on alcohol, we hit up Persephone Brewing Company. They grow their own hops and it has a genuinely cool vibe with an outdoor patio and pizza oven. They serve their beer in mason jars, is that hipster enough for you?

The final stop on this jam-packed day was Gibsons, a small seaside community. We walked along the harbour, spotted a rainbow and admired the boats. The only thing I do regret not doing is buying a postcard. I have been collecting postcards from everywhere I visit for a few years now. I then frame them and pop them on the wall. I forgot all about my postcard tradition, clearly enjoying myself too much. I guess I’ll just have to go back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank you so much Sage for being a fabulous tour guide and chauffeur. You should definitely open your own guided tours. I loved the Sunshine Coast and I definitely want to spend more time there when I go back. No ifs and buts, I want to get back to Canada as soon as possible.

Biking the Murals

I briefly mentioned this activity in my previous post when Naomi came to visit me. I obviously wanted to be a good host and organise an array of exciting activities for my guest. I’ve had my eye on this tour for a while, well ever since I met Jeremy and heard about his new and exciting bike tour to view the murals around Main Street.

The tour began at 2pm so en route we went for ice cream in Yaletown. Mister is probably the best ice cream I’ve eaten in Vancouver. It is made fresh for you with liquid nitrogen. It means the ice cream is more dense and creamy. I mean who can say no to that? So I ordered the Oreo ice cream sandwich and I was not disappointed. Naomi has been raving about this ice cream ever since.

So onto business, after meeting Jeremy, Rachelle and our fellow tourists, we made our way to Main Street on the seawall. I was a little nervous on behalf of Naomi who doesn’t ride a bike regularly. However the tour was very easy and the route is mainly on bike paths. On our way to the murals, Jeremy stopped along the way to share interesting facts about other art in the city.

Main Street and its surrounding area is home to Vancouver’s Mural Festival. It is also a super hip area full of quirky eateries and fancy coffee houses. I pass this area daily to get into downtown so I have seen these murals many times from afar. I’ve always wanted to view them closer and learn about them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve had an interest in art since high school. I studied art at school and then went on to study an art foundation course at college. This was a year long course studying different art forms; such as photography, textiles, illustration, graphic design, screen printing and much more. I specialised in photography and fast forward four years I got a photography degree. I haven’t put my degree to much use yet, I enjoy taking photos for my blog and Instagram. I’m not sure what I want to do with it. That’s for another day.

Anyways I don’t want to give too much away because you have to do the tour yourself. But Jeremy knew so much about the various murals. We walked the bikes along alleyways and viewed them up close and personal. He guided us along and talked extensively about the artwork, the history behind it and the artist. He knew a lot and you could tell he was genuinely interested and passionate about this topic. Unlike other tour guides who just reel off facts and move on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped for a short break at Cartem donuts. A nice little touch because they offer some delicious donuts. After the pit stop we slowly made our way back. We went past Dude Chilling Park. It is such a random story but basically what started as a prank sign naming the park “Dude Chilling Park” eventually became a permanent feature at this leisure spot. We also stopped at more murals on our way back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I couldn’t recommend this enough. What a different way to explore the city. I will always do a bike tour/hire bikes wherever I travel now. Biking is more convenient than walking and also way better than sat on one of those stuffy tour buses. Get out and about people. And if you’re travelling to Vancouver, or even if you live there book onto one of Jeremy’s tours asap. I hope the photos do it justice and thanks to Jeremy for being an awesome tour guide. The 3 hour tour costs $65 which includes your bike rental. Worth every cent. Check out his website for further details – Vancouver Bike Tours.

 

April Onwards

So let’s rewind to the 5th April. Oh my gosh it feels like ages ago already. Cassie and I hired a car from Kelowna and drove across to Vancouver for my final chapter on my Canadian working holiday visa. I was super excited to be heading back. I love this city and I had missed my friends.

It was an easy transition. In fact it felt like I hadn’t even left. The only difference being I had about 3 months left on my visa this time round. And I certainly wasn’t wishing my time away. I had such big plans, as always. First adventure crossed off was a brief visit to Grouse Mountain.

Through our Big White staff pass, we managed to snag a free pass to Grouse Mountain before our season ended. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t looking great so Cassie and I decided not to ski or snowboard. In hindsight I kind of regret this decision however on the day the conditions were pretty dire. Mainly slushy snow and a half frozen ice rink. We took the gondola up and walked around trying to avoid slipping on the slush. It was nice to finally see Grouse, after living so close for a long time. Unfortunately we couldn’t see any views from the top. The clouds were hiding all the good stuff you see on Instagram. It is a very small ski hill so I’m not upset that I missed out on skiing. I’m more gutted I missed the views of Downtown Vancouver. Maybe I’ll do the Grouse Grind at some point.

Jemma came to visit! The Big White season ended on the 8th April and Jemma was heading home to Australia, to do another winter season. She stopped in Vancouver for about a week. It was good timing because I was still unemployed so we could explore together. We hit up all the touristy stuff like biking Stanley Park, visiting Granville Island, walking around Lynn Canyon and Capilano Suspension Bridge. We had a good time and I miss her so much. I’m definitely coming to Australia to visit as soon as I magically come into some money.

Daisy and Rachelle bought a car, the beloved Carsandra. She took us on a few adventures in our very limited time together. We went to our very own private beach at Lions Bay. We went to Alice Lake in Squamish. They went mountain biking whilst I soaked up the sunshine by the lake. We feasted many a time on delicious food. It is after all what brought us together. Rachelle and I cheered Daisy on at the Vancouver half marathon. She smashed it. We hung out with Stella the wilderness dog. I’m still convinced we aren’t cool enough for her. Then the 23rd May came and I had to say bye to Daisy. You guys have become my best friends and I’m gutted that Destiny’s Child is now split up. I hope we can eat cheese together very soon.

I was eagerly awaiting for crazy times with my Irish girls, Lauren and Lenny. And it didn’t disappoint. We somehow wangled our way into a birthday party in a hotel room with endless supplies of free champagne. It was a messy night which ended up with me getting “locked out” of their apartment building and then realising I had the key in my pocket all along the next morning. They live so close to work so I’ve popped in numerous of times to talk boys, exchange funny shit that happens to us on a daily basis and just for general lols.

I developed a soft spot for Sunset Beach. If you follow me on Instagram you know I am a huge lover of sunsets. If you don’t follow me, then please do (jess_baillie). Well this is the best spot for a Vancouver sunset. And to make it even better, which I didn’t think was possible is a bbq. Anna and Anja, the best hosts bring their bbq down to the grass near Sunset Beach. We have Anja sliced weiners on the bbq and watch the sunset. My Italian sausage didn’t go down as well. It is definitely my favourite spot in Vancouver right now. You guys treat me so well and I will forever be grateful for Spokes bringing us together.

Talking of new loves, I have a slight obsession with salad rolls. Thanks Daisy. Salad rolls are a Vietnamese dish. For people who don’t know what I’m talking about I’m going try and describe them to the best of my ability. It’s like a cold spring roll. Instead of a crunchy deep fried pastry, it’s a cold rice paper. Filled with the freshest of the freshest ingredients and served with the most delicious condiment, peanut sauce. I thought mayo was on the top of my favourite condiment list but it has moved to second place. My favourite salad rolls are from Cafe Phin & Pho on Denman Street. I need to suss out a place in Hull to get my fix or I’m going to have to make my own.

IMG_6102

Cassie and I went on a small adventure to Buntzen Lake, near Port Moody. It is accessible via public transport so we got there eventually. We relaxed by the lake with snacks, Uno and our new pals the Canadian Geese. They literally poo everywhere but kept us entertained. I love getting out the city every now and then. It’s good for you and always a treat to visit somewhere new.

I went back to Spokes, shocking! I guess I wasn’t very desirable to companies with a visa that expires in 3 months. They look for committed human beings. It’s not my fault Canada doesn’t want me to stay because I really want to. I’m looking for single Canadians for possible marriage visa. So I went back to bike rentals. I just can’t get away from rentals. I love this job for meeting people. I’ve met some really awesome people working here. I’ve also met lots and lots of dumb tourists. My customer service skills are depleting as we speak.

My friend, Naomi from home came to visit me very last minute for 6 days. It was a short but sweet trip. She got to see the best bits of Vancouver. The list includes Stanley Park, Sunset Beach, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Yaletown for the best ice cream, a bike art mural tour (check back for a dedicated post on this), Deep Cove paddle boarding and Quarry Rock hike. It was an action packed 6 days and I’ll see you really soon.

I attempted disk golfing again. And I’m still terrible. I went with Anja (the queen of disk golf), Jenny and Mojo. I’m sure you all had a great time laughing at my “skills”. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned disk golf on my blog before. It is something I only discovered in Canada. Very similar to frisbee but heavier and smaller. You throw them into a metal cage on a golf course. I am terrible at throwing so it comes as no surprise to me that I’m awful. In other news I have developed excellent catching skills. Anja likes to throw random objects at me at work and now I can successful catch them. Let’s celebrate!

IMG_6374

I went for homemade cocktails at Vanessa’s house. She has a lovely selection of spirits and a very in-depth cocktail making book. She made me a few cocktails and I left rather tipsy. Can you drink and bike? Well it happened and I survived. I’m thankful for your mint spanking skills. Oh and I got to hold her snake too. What a crazy turn of events.

Cassie and I headed to the Sunshine Coast for a day of exploring with Sage the tour guide. We are all friends from Big White so it was really nice to catch up and see a part of British Columbia I haven’t seen yet. It started as the worse day weather wise, torrential rain. Within 30 minutes of being on the Sunshine Coast, the blue skies made an appearance. I really had one of the best days there and I will definitely be back. I also plan to dedicate a whole post to this day so I won’t say too much right now. Apart from go when you get the chance! It really is very beautiful. And I saw a bear in the wild.

I’m sad it took me so long to write this. I hate to use being busy as an excuse but it’s true. It takes me a couple of hours to write a post and share my photos and I’ve just not had the time. I’m heading back to England very very soon so I’ve just not stopped socialising and taking in every last moment in Canada. I am feeling very emotional about leaving but I know I want to come back. I just need to get my act together and make it happen.

Come back really soon to read about my art bike tour, my day on the Sunshine Coast and my last week in Vancouver. Be prepared for lots of honest, emotional posts about my move back to England. I want to share as much as possible because I really do not know what to expect. It is very daunting. I’ve already cried twice writing this and once walking home today.

 

La La Land – Part Two

Day Five

We booked Universal Studio tickets online for day five to save cash. I think you only save about $10 but every little helps. We explored Universal Studios for the majority of the day. Riding the rides, queuing in long lines and taking the back lot studio tour. The studio tour is so cool, you get to see where so many shows and movies are made whilst relaxing on a tram with a tour guide. It is always worth the wait so don’t be put off with the long queue times. I nearly forgot to mention the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We got early access into this area of the park with our online tickets. So it opens 1 hour before the rest of the park. The detail of the buildings is incredible. They certainly don’t do things by half here. You can sip on butterbeer and buy all the Harry Potter candy and merchandise in the stores. After a lot of walking we went back to Venice Beach. Holly and I had a quick dinner at the Tocoya, I had a fajita burrito with a hibiscus margarita. The food is just something else in America. We couldn’t walk past a busy ice cream shop without trying it. So obviously we had ice cream after our Mexican feast, at Salt & Straw. I can’t remember what flavour I had now but it was good!

 

Day Six

This was another swap over day, we were moving to West Hollywood into another Airbnb. I love Airbnb however it makes it difficult with luggage as you can’t store it anywhere between checking in and out. So another pool day was on the cards. Unfortunately this was probably one of the worst days for weather. It was cloudy all day. It didn’t stop us buying a day pass for the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica through DayAxe. We just chilled by the pool, playing on Tinder, sipping cocktails and iced coffees and munching on fruit and tacos. It didn’t feel like a waste of a day. It was what we needed. After checking into our airbnb we explored our new neighbourhood. We walked to LA Grove, an outdoor shopping area with restaurants, cafes and food market. We went to the Wood Ranch for dinner. I had ribs with mac and cheese. Followed by Oreo cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. No sign of Penny though.

 

Day Seven

Holly flew home on this day. Not before we had one last feast together. This time at Blu Jam Cafe on Melrose Avenue. I had the huevos rancheros with their homemade lemonade. After saying goodbye to Holly, we caught the bus to Downtown LA. I was a bit apprehensive about visiting this area of LA as I had only heard bad things. However it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. We went to the OUE Skyspace to view the city from up above. It wasn’t very busy and the views were amazing. It wasn’t too pricey either. We stopped for milkshakes on our way to the Staples Center. I had a smore milkshake at the Counter. You can’t come to America and not fill up on milkshakes. We had tickets booked to see a basketball game, the Los Angeles Lakers vs Sacramento Kings. Unfortunately the Lakers lost but it was an experience for my first ever basketball game. I also had the funniest fall, in typical Jessica fashion. So I’ll never forget this night.

 

Day Eight

We went to the Petersen Automotive Museum on day eight. It was actually pretty cool considering it was something I wouldn’t normally do. Lots of car history and even famous cars from movies. The architecture of the building was fascinating too. Horrex had a visit planned to a library, kinda close to the automotive museum so we headed there. Trevor and I sat in the sunshine outside, admiring a lizard that we thought was a snake. We spent the afternoon eating our way through the food market at LA Grove. I had pizza, chicken shawarma wrap and donuts. We streamed I, Tonya in our Airbnb flat and had a chilled evening.

 

Day Nine

My last full day in LA. We were staying very close to the Beverly Center which is a shopping mall. However the majority of it was under construction so it was disappointing. No trip to LA is complete without a trip to In n Out so we made that our mission for today. We got an Uber there and eagerly waited for my double double burger, fries and coke. Unfortunately I didn’t know about their “secret” menu so I missed out on animal style fries. I guess I’ll just have to go back. It is just another burger and fries place but better than your average Maccy Ds. We went souvenir shopping down Hollywood Boulevard. So much tack but we love it don’t we. I can’t be the only one who loves a good tourist gift shop. We had dinner at LA Grove at La Piazza. I shared a carbonara and a calzone with Horrex. Sharing is only good when you both get what you want.

 

Day Ten

Not really a full day because I flew back to Kelowna in the afternoon. So we went for one last brunch at the Kings Road cafe, very  close to where we were staying. After stuffing my face, I said my goodbyes to Horrex and Trevor and ubered to the airport. What a trip! I preferred being by the ocean but loved exploring the different areas of LA. I was looking forward to getting back to Canada though, Canada whoops America’s arse (in my eyes anyways). I was flying back to Kelowna via Seattle. In hindsight I wish I paid the extra mullah to get a direct flight but hey ho. I’m living the budget life.

I have a lot to share with you guys since being back in Vancouver. I’m going to try and hammer it out over the next couple of weeks as unfortunately I am moving back to England in the very near future. Super sad times ahead.

 

La La Land – Part One

After nearly 5 months of snow and minus temperatures I was so ready to hit the beach. I love the feeling of sunshine on my skin and it was much needed after a winter in the snow. So when my good friend Horrex asked me to join her and her lover on a trip to LA, I couldn’t refuse. To make it more awesome I asked my sister to join us. After nearly 2 years apart I was so pleased she booked flights.

I just have one sister, Holly. She’s 24 years old and a beauty therapist. Yes she does my nails, lashes and brows. Thats why I’ve missed her so much. Just kidding. We clash sometimes but we are close. I really wish she could come to Vancouver, I just know how much she would love it. To be honest I was just excited to see her, wherever it was. It’s a long time to be apart from your little sister and I couldn’t wait to see her.

Horrex is my best friend from high school, that’s her last name. She’s known as Doctor Horrex now. I haven’t seen her since I left the UK and I couldn’t wait to catch up. She’s bought a house and finished her PhD whilst I’ve been away. Trevor was actually third wheeling us, not the other way round.

Holly and I arrived on the 25th March and stayed at the Melrose Inn on Melrose Avenue. I was expecting tears when I was reunited with my sister but nothing. I was obviously very excited to see her and I’m usually a very emotional person and cry at anything. No tears shed at this reunion unfortunately. We had a pizza and beer then rested for our first full day.

Day One 

We walked the majority of Melrose Avenue. We ate breakfast bagels and drank iced tea outside at the cutest cafe, Coffee + Food. Very creative name. We passed the famous pink wall at the Paul Smith store and witnessed a lot of Instagram modelling. We walked to Bikes and Hikes LA to do the Beverly Hills and Hollywood Homes tour. Ever since working in a bike rental shop, I will definitely hunt down a bike rental place wherever I travel to. It’s such a good way to explore a city. It was a self guided tour, with an interactive map and speaker. It shouted out the points of interests and which direction to turn. It was a lot of fun and for $45 a great day out. We ended the day at the Staples Center watching the LA Kings vs Calgary Flames with beer and hot dogs.

Day Two 

Our hotel didn’t have a pool and we were moving into an Airbnb later in the day so we wanted a pool day. Google found me a website called DayAxe. You basically pay a fee to use a hotel pool for the day. We spent $15 and headed to the Intercontinental Century City. We arrived in time for breakfast so filled up on the buffet before a chill day by the pool. After soaking up the sunshine we made our way to Venice Beach. We had an Airbnb booked for 4 nights. Horrex and Trevor flew in and met us at our cute little surf shack. It was adorable. We wandered down Venice Beach and munched on vegan burgers from Fala Bar. I had the sweet potato falafel burger with avocado. I’m not vegan but always partial to vegan/vegetarian food.

Day Three

Eggslut was on the menu for breakfast. A small brunch take out place, one block from the beach. It was eggcellent. We walked around the Venice Canals and admired the fancy homes that sit directly on the canal. In the afternoon we biked to Santa Monica and back along the beach. This is a must do if ever visiting this area of LA. Obviously we had to stop for a quench thirsting beverage. I had a watermelon lemonade at Perry’s beach club. After dropping the bikes off and a quick sunbathe on the beach we went to the High Roof Top Bar for overpriced cocktails. The views made it worthwhile. This was followed by a very cheap and tasty Chinese meal at Mao’s. You’ll soon realise this trip revolved all around food.

Day Four

We splashed out a bit today and had brunch at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel. It was the most expensive eggs benedict I’ve ever had but probably the best one too. It was a whopping $30 and I indulged with a glass of prosecco. It was the prettiest outdoor cafe and luckily I didn’t feel out of place. It was a lot more casual than I was expecting. From here we walked down Hollywood Boulevard taking in the Hollwood walk of fame and the Chinese Theatre. This is a super tourist frenzy area so prepare yourself for lots and lots of people. We soon got bored of the many tourist crappy shops and took an uber to the Griffith Observatory. This is a free attraction which my purse was happy about after our expensive brunch. The views were incredible and caught a glimpse of the Hollywood sign. In the evening we walked to Santa Monica from our Venice Beach surf shack. We explored the Santa Monica pier and 3rd street promenade. It is a pedestrianised shopping street. I devoured a Steak and Shake burger, swallowed down with an Oreo mint milkshake. Then causally walked back whilst trying to avoid getting a stitch.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

Working a Ski Season

My time at Big White came to a bitter sweet end on the 25th March, exactly 2 weeks before the resort closed. I had a trip to LA booked and although I was slightly disappointed to be leaving early, I was ready to move on.

It has been a huge dream of mine to work and live in a ski resort. And I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life. As a huge skiing fan, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Well I do wish my house didn’t flood but shit happens. Guess what, my laptop came back to life and my passport arrived in time for LA. So it wasn’t all that bad in the end.

Big White spoiled me with shit tons of snow. I didn’t know it was possible to snow so much, days at a time sometimes. Even when it closed, they had so much snow forecast for the next week. The powder is just on another level. I don’t think I’ll ever see that in Europe but a girl can dream.

I met a lot of great people from all other the world. Who am I kidding, mainly Australians. My first friend was Kerri, my roommate from Toronto and fellow poutine lover. You made sharing a room easy. I was so scared to share a room with a stranger. It wasn’t easy moving out of Whitetail after our flooding incident but I like to think it brought us closer together. Jemma bought me wine when my house flooded and her last name is my hometown. Of course we are friends. Cassie came with me back to Vancouver. Our journey isn’t over just yet. I will forever be entertained with her Snapchat updates.

I wouldn’t rush back to Big White to work another season. To be honest I don’t understand how people do it again and again. You get paid peanuts and pay a fortune in rent. You are basically a slave for 5 months. I’m really selling it to you aren’t I? I did have a good time but it is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. Well for me, anyways. I would live there and not work and just ski the whole time. That would be the dream right? Partying can get boring after going to the same 2 bars every week. Friday’s at Sessions, Sunday’s at Snowshoe Sam’s. I was more than happy to spend my nights in towards the end.

You do get a lift pass for the winter. And incredible snow and runs to explore for 5 months. Does it make it worth it? Yeah I think it does. I really think they could increase the pay though and reduce rent. Come on, everyone is paying around $700 each a month for a shared room. I’m really not sure how that is even legal but people do it, year after year. I was one of those desperate people eager to get set up in a ski resort. They must be make a killing. And it would improve moral across the resort. Staff would be way more happy.

I must have been doing something right anyways because I got Employee of the Month. This surprised me a little because I am so over customer service. I have never encountered so many stupid people in my life since being in my rental jobs. So my patience was wearing thin. I got a free trip down to Kelowna to watch the Kelowna Rockets hockey game. I got to sit in a private box with the other employee’s of the month. We had unlimited free food and drink to work our way through. It was definitely a night to remember.

Talking about hockey, Big White run their very own staff hockey league. So each department play another department once a week on the outside hockey rink. I’m more of cheerleader than a hockey player. So I was more than happy to cheer my team on from the sideline. Go Honey Badgers, Go! We were able to buy a hockey jersey, personalised with our name and number. This is something I’ll keep forever.

As I mentioned before you do get paid next to nothing but you do get plenty of benefits. Discounts in restaurants and shops, free tubing and ice skating, free ski and snowboarding lessons and free and discounted days at different mountains. And you get to ski all winter long for free. What more could you want? The job wasn’t great but I got to meet a lot of cool and interesting people.

img_5721

Honey Badgers 2017-2018

It does sound like I’m complaining about the whole thing, well I am English so what do you expect. It was a weird experience for me. As cliche as it sounds it was a rollercoaster. They were days I was so close to quitting and even flying back to England. Towards the end I didn’t really want to leave. You surround yourself with the same people every day and you become a family. You live in a bubble, not the real world. It was the first time I felt alone since my breakup. And lots of big characters to compete with for a quiet person like myself. But I came out the other side a stronger person and I did have a fabulous time.

I’ll be back Big White, see you soon.