Vancouver Update!

You can tell I’ve been busy as I haven’t uploaded a post in quite a while!
This whole ‘settling into a new country’ thing actually takes up quite a bit of time.
When I first got here and was staying at the hostel, I was doing so many activities or meeting new people that I found it really hard to sit down and write about my experiences!

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Streets of the city Downtown

However you can now officially call me a Vancouveriette, or maybe one in training!
I’m still getting to know the area but I don’t need to use Google Maps for a lot of things. I know the three SkyTrain routes and where they go, I can even drive to some places without any help – yay! 🙂

I also now have a place to call home.
When I first got here, I pre-arranged a place to live for 2 months from the Facebook Page ‘Kia Ora Vancouver‘ (Check it out if you’re a New Zealander wanting to come live in Vancouver)
I sub-leased a room from a Kiwi guy who was going away for work at the end of January. As I arrived in Jan, I spent the first couple of weeks at the Samesun Hostel and then moved into my new place later on that month. (living with two Irish guys).

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My first home in Vancouver!

The houses here are so big.
The room I first moved into was quite small (paying around CAD$750 a month) but one of the Irish guys ended up moving out so I moved into his room which was a bit bigger which was nice.
As Vancouver has such a housing problem, most houses actually have more than one family living in them. In the house I moved into, we occupied all of the upstairs however there was one guy living downstairs on the left hand side and what I assume was a lady on the right hand side. (I never ever saw her but they had cat curtains so I assumed it was a lady)
Funnily enough, you never run into each other because each renter has their own separate entrance. There’s doors that connect to the inside of the house but they’re completely blocked off so you wouldn’t be able to just walk into someone’s living room. Crazy to think one house has like three separate kitchens!

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Area around where I work

I was pretty organised and got myself a job before I arrived here.
Once I’d explored Vancouver for a few weeks and moved into my new place, I begun working for the same Travel Agency I used to work for back home.
Luckily I got a week of training beforehand because even though we use the same flight booking system as back home, the quoting system and a few other things were completely different! I honestly felt like it was my first day all over again.
Even now, I’ve been there for about 2 months and I still don’t know so many things. The travel market is so different here too. Most people wait till the last minute to book things and so many people go to Mexico for ‘All Inclusive’ packages!
Back home, Fiji, Rarotonga and Australia were the top destinations I always sold, I’d never even sent someone to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta until recently.

Vancouver is such an awesome experience – but how do people ever go away on holiday here??
From what I understand, Canadians only get 2 weeks annual leave a year. (Back home it’s 4 weeks) however I was lucky enough that my company ‘transferred’ my employment over from NZ so I end up getting 3 weeks leave as I’ve ‘been’ with the company for over a year which makes me entitled to more.

20180329_161153-1.jpgIf you follow me on Instagram or read any of my Facebook/IG stories, you probably have noticed that my boyfriend moved over to be with me in Canada!!

I did feel bad for leaving him – as in cried my eyes out and didn’t want to leave on my final day in New Zealand. However, I knew that if I didn’t do this I’d always regret it. I’ve always wanted to live overseas at some stage in my life and I didn’t want to look back and wish I took the chance while I still could.
I’m glad he ended up coming. To be honest, if I didn’t make the move first, we’d still be sitting at home saying “one day we’ll go here or there….” so it was up to one of us to make the first move 🙂

When he first arrived, we lived at the flat for about a month until we could find our own place.
It wasn’t the warmest for our first few weeks in Canada. It even started snowing but it left as quickly as it came.

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About to catch the bus to work when it first started Snowing

As I had to be out of the flat I was in by April the 1st, we started looking for somewhere to live in March. Finding somewhere to live is actually really hard, luckily for us we got the first place we applied for!
It was a bit out of our budget but I’m so glad we chose it.
We live in this beautiful house in a really nice area. We’re literally just down the road from the mall and only a 8 minute walk to the Skytrain. Instead of me taking a bus and a train to work like I used to, I just take the train and it takes me about 15 minutes on a good morning.20180420_154551.jpg
The house is a bit deceitful in that picture haha! We actually don’t occupy the whole thing, We live downstairs in what they call a ‘basement apartment’
Our landlords live in the main house with their 2 teenage children and me and Nathan live downstairs. We have our own entrance, 2 bedrooms, kitchen & lounge area and our own bathroom 🙂
Even though it’s a basement, we have natural light coming through and both the bedroom’s and living area have windows. We even have our own mailbox and recycling schedule so we’re pretty separate from the people upstairs!
We’ve lived here for about a month and I’ve only seen the owners like twice! They’re either really really quiet or I just come home from work too late haha.

Before we found a place, we also bought a car.
Our first big purchase together!
Don’t even get me started on how much it costs to own a car here….let’s just say we pay what the car is worth in Insurance per year. If Nathan ever runs into someone I will strangle him myself.

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First Car, just a cheeky little Ford Escape to get us from A – B

When we moved into our place, we literally had nothing but a few suitcases full of our clothes and personal items. The good thing about rentals here is if you get a good one, they’ll already come with the oven, fridge, (sometimes microwave) and washer/dryer.
As our place is relatively new, all the appliances are nice and in great working order, we just had to buy our own bedroom and lounge furniture which has definitely been the most expensive purchases so far.
Screenshot_20180401-145158.jpgWe splashed out and spent nearly $2,000 on a mattress, bed frame and bed-side tables but we got our couch second-hand from a girl in Vancouver for like $400.

When we moved in we didn’t actually have a bed as it was going to be delivered to us 3 days after our move-in date. (We were planning to just sleep on the couch) however when we went to pick up the couch, the girl was moving out and had a spare bed that she ended up giving to us for like $50. Thank god she did because our bed ended up taking 2 weeks to arrive!!

When the bed eventually arrived and we got it all set up we realized we ordered a bed that was far too big. As in it’s incredibly high!!!
It literally comes up to my hips and I have to do a little jump to get into bed every night.
Nathan and I thought it was funny until the first night when we couldn’t sleep because it honestly felt like we were sleeping in the sky or something haha. I don’t know how to describe it but it was such an un-settling feeling.
When the people from the furniture store called me about delivering the second bed-side table (which we hadn’t received yet) I asked if we could swap the box base of the mattress because that’s what was making it so high and they said yes but they were going to charge us!
I ended up pretty much yelling at the girl saying that the bed was stupidly high and they shouldn’t be charging us a delivery fee of $100 as the bed took bloody 2 weeks to arrive in the first place. For all they knew we were sleeping on the floor!
In the end, they just agreed to deliver it free along with the second bed-side table but now it’s been a week and…..I kind of like the high bed.
I’m so ashamed now. I think i’ve gotten used to it and it’s so much easier to make the bed in the morning without having to bend down. PLUS, it’s the best height to fold clothes at because it’s literally at arm level. Not to mention I talked to one of the girls at work and she said it’s  completely normal for beds to be that high here! Woops…

Anyways, apart from that we’ve got pretty much everything sorted for our place.
The only thing we desperately need are drawers! We had originally purchased them with our bedroom set but they didn’t fit in the bedroom.
(The bedrooms can only really fit a bed and bed-side tables)
The closet’s are good sizes but we really really need some drawers that can go inside them so we can put away our underwear and workout pants etc – pretty much everything you can’t hang up, It’s really frustrating still having suitcases with clothes in them and trying desperately to find socks in the morning.
Oh well….I’m sure a perfect set of drawers are just waiting to be bought at Walmart haha!

In some more interesting news, Nathan and I went to Seattle last weekend.
Nathan plays for a rugby team here in Vancouver and they were versing a Seattle team so we took the drive down on Saturday and stayed the night at a hotel in the city.
Even though it was only for the weekend, it was really good to get away and have a weekend where we could hang out and see a new place together that we’d never been to. I won’t say too much about what we did (because I want to write a separate blog post about our Seattle adventure) but we had fun!
Not to mention the shopping was great. And here I was thinking Vancouver had a good Walmart…

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I’m really loving it here in Vancouver. There’s still so much else of Canada that we need to explore, it’s just finding the time to do it all!
When I started late one morning I decided to explore the area of where we lived. We’re super close to the Queen Elizabeth park which is a great place for morning walks or a visit to the observatory. As it’s Spring, all the Daffodils are in full bloom and the cherry blossoms are thriving! It’s a really pretty city at the moment.

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Not to mention it’s not as cold in the mornings anymore.
I think people have this idea of Canada being absolutely freezing. I’m sure in some parts it is but you really don’t notice it unless you work outside like my poor boyfriend does!

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The thing I love about Vancouver is everywhere is heated!
When you walk into your house it’s so warm because pretty much everyone has central heating or pipes underneath the floor. Even in Winter if you can’t afford your hydro bill they won’t cut off your heating until it gets warmer so you won’t freeze from the cold.
I hear Summer here is pretty great so I’m looking forward to that.
I would absolutely love to stay longer than 2 years (as that’s all my Visa allows) however the type of job I have doesn’t allow me to apply for permanent residency. (It’s quite a complicated process but you need to be a ‘skilled worker’ to apply for PR). Funnily enough my boyfriend is considered a skilled worker as a builder so he can apply and sponsor me as his spouse! I think I’d have to do a lot of greasing up for him to do that for me…

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I will leave you all with some pictures of my time here so far!
If anyone has any questions about moving to Canada just let me know 🙂

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Day 38 – New York City (Day 5)

Friday morning, I woke up at a semi respectable time.
I organised to meet a few of the girls from my hostel downstairs after breakfast so we could go to Coney Island.

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Coney Island, from our hostel is like a 1 hour journey walking/subway – ing.
It’s in the south Western part of Brooklyn. It used to be an outer barrier island, but kind of became connected to the mainland by land fill.
They have a community of around 60,000 people in its western part, with Sea Gate to its west,Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Gravesend to the north.

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When we arrived at Coney Island we soon came to realise that all the rides that they have on the boardwalk were closed!!
Apparantly with labour day the other day, and there being another Jewish holiday they kept the park open so decided to close it on Friday. We didn’t even know   :|:|

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Usually they have 2 amusement parks on Coney Island where they have The Wonder Wheel ferris wheel, The Cyclone Rollercoster, The B&B Carousell and also other boardwalk games that people play. *sigh*
They had a beach at least.

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We walked the boardwalk for a bit and then decided to chill out on the beach. We did dip out feet in and it was freezing haha, even though the weather was so warm.

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Once we’d sat in the sun for over an hour (and me not getting burnt which is great over here!)
We went down the boardwalk to get something to eat at this diner/type place. The other NZ girl I was with Alicia – we both orders sweet potato fries and normal french fries with cheese.
It was so average.
They don’t have Aioli here which is always a disappointment, and the sauce tasted disgusting for some reason.
The shakes we got were good though but went down too quickly.

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When it was time to leave, the owner took us up to the rooftop area and we took some nice pictures of Coney island from up there.

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Around 5pm we ended up in Times Square and decided to go up and buy tickets for Top Of The Rock. The line was so long and the earliest tickets we could get to the look out were for 8pm. Mine & Alicia ‘s cameras don’t take very good photos at night time so we wernt really keen to do it.

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The other 2 girls agreed so we all headed on our way and stopped at Saks on 5th Avenue to have a look.
Aka. The rich rich version of smith & caugheys or Kilkaldies. I ended up going to the MAC counter (what’s new) and buying my Volcanic ash exfoliant!

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When our feet were aching we went back to the hostel and got yummy Ben and Jerry’s on the way home.
Ahh, I just love that place. Triple Caramel chunk is my absolute fave.
We felt like the biggest fatties afterwards.

We all decided to go out that night so went across the road and got some alcohol after we’d dolled ourselves up a bit.
You’re not meant to drink at the hostel but we all sat at a table with a few others and drunk our Smirnoffs haha.

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The hostel recommended a club out in Chelsea for us to head to so we took the subway and ended up there. I can’t remember exactly what the club was called but it was pretty fancy.
You didn’t have to pay to get in, but since there ended up being 11 of us (6 guys, 5 girls) they tried to get us to get a table for $1200. I was not keen! And so wernt the other girls.
Some of the guys we were with actually were so I think they ended up paying a bit less and getting one for themselves.

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As it was a rooftop bar, the views were amazing. Not that my camera did it any justice again…
The Californian girl Amy who was with us took some amazing photos though. She has one of those Samsung Cameras that’s like a phone as well but it’s got the lense and everything like a camera.
Her night photos were just amazing! And she said she got it for like $250 so I’m desperate for the same camera now.
I dont have any of her pictures so I can’t show what she took 😕

We had a drink (coz that’s all we could afford haha) And then headed off to another pub that 3 of the others went to. Alicia is 20 so she couldn’t get in with her ID. 😧 And my old mate Rob from my Contiki (who’s staying at my hoatel) went with her and this German girl Maria.

The pub they were at was alright, it was real casual so me and London Andra had shots of Tequila and the rest of us decided to call it a night.
I was going to go home with 3 of the girls but then decided to stay with Robert as he messaged me and said he was at some dive bar.

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I left the girls to go and meet Robert but couldn’t find him in the end so took the subway home by myself again!
I met up with the girls when I got off though and we all headed back to the hostel together.

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So yeah, that was my Friday in New York!
Without my daily bus naps these days are getting more and more tiring.

Xx

Day 37 – New York City (Day 4)

On Thursday morning I had a bit of a sleep in because I got home so late the night before.
I missed out on breakfast because of the time I take to wash my hair and do my make up 😅

When I was eventually ready, I took the subway downtown to see the 9/11 memorial in Tribeca.

I stopped and saw the North and South pool which was built in memory of the twin towers.
Everyone who died on that horrible day has their names engraved around the pools which is nice.

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I was considering getting the New York City Pass where you get unlimited visits to all these places around NYC for 2 days for $140 and get to the front of line but I didn’t.
I was actually faster in the normal line than the people that bought the pass.
I also took like 3 hours at the museum so I don’t know if it was actually worth it in the end. Like, how many places can you actually properly experience in 2 straight days by buying the pass?

Anyways, it cost $24 to get in to the museum which was worth it. There was so much to see!

The museum is about 21 metres below ground and houses two tridents from the Twin Towers. One of the museum’s walls is an exposed side of the slurry wall retaining the Hudson River, which remained intact during (and after) September 11th.

Other stuff that I saw in the museum were wrecked emergency vehicles like this fire engine

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There were also pieces of metal from all seven World Trade Center buildings and recordings of survivors and first responders (including 911 phone calls) which are quite sad to listen to. Ecspecially the recordings of people on the plane that knew they were being hijacked who called their loved ones.

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They also had a room with pictures of all the victims and an audio telephone where you could click on a person and listen to a snippet of audio from their loved ones describing what they were like.

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I also saw photographs from the wreckage and other media detailing the destruction (including the crashes, collapse, fires, those who jumped and the clean up)

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You walk out of there feeling pretty sad and you really feel for America. Like so many people lost someone and that day was so horrific. The people on the street who thought they were going to die from inhaling so much dust is even scary to think about.

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When I had eventually had a good enough look around, I left the museum (partly because I was freezing in there. They really blast the air-con!)
And I went outside in the warmth and headed to an ice cream truck for my first meal of the day. A sprinkle cone…

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Please girlfriend, I’m on vacay!
😋

I wasn’t sure what to do with myself after that. I wanted to see the statue of liberty but didn’t know when the ferries were running and couldn’t really be bothered walking down a few blocks #lazy

Instead, I went to Chipotle and had some proper lunch. Chicken tacos for like $8

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And then I headed to a nail bar and paid $10 for a basic manicure haha. (Plus $4 tip)

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It was nice at the time, but I’m currently writing this the next day and 4 of my nails are already chipped. Average!!!

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I was also in desperate need of my eyebrows being done so I Googled the nearest Benefit Eyebrow Bar and it turned out there was one like a 15 minute walk away.
I walked the few blocked and got my eyebrows waxed for like $25. (Not that cheap I know but they always do such a good job)
Now my make up looks heaps nicer when I out it on without all these stray hairs!

When I was done, it was literally like after 5pm so I headed back to the hostel.
I changed my clothes and topped up my make up then headed downstairs for the $7 dinner they had.
To be honest, I don’t know why I bothered. It was another BBQ and since I’m so picky with the meat here, I got a burger but basically pulled out the pattie and just had a bit of bread and some salad.
At 9pm there was a pub crawl going on so I joined up with that.

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We all took the subway and hit up 3 different pubs.
I tried to drink and get into it but I think I was just way too tired. I couldn’t really be bothered making conversation with anyone and even playing beer pong I just wasn’t enjoying it.
I guess every night I can’t be a party animal! Haha.

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I ended up heading home with another girl who lives in Cali and is here for a Wedding – Amy.
And a couple of the other guys.
We did a McDonald’s stop where I got fries and then we headed back to the hostel. Very Un exciting night for me then! Haha.

Xx