alta lake + 23

Alike most, I am well and truly into the swing of self isolation and buying everything that pops up on my Instagram ads; obviously because I need it and I can’t possibly live without. The only time that I am not at home is when I go to the grocery store for an “adventure”. To be honest, I don’t not like it. After getting over the fact that I had to spend my twenty third birthday in isolation, I’ve developed a nice little routine and I’ve had time to do things that I enjoy.

I get up at about 7.30am and have a fuelling snack whilst logging some feelings, goals for the day and gratitude. With this perspective, I then do my workout. I’ve been using the ‘Keep it Cleaner’ app as a motivational tool to get up and get moving, and follow this with a weights program. Jordan already had a lot of equipment from when he was younger that we were able to dust off and start flingin’ around. Karen, my mother in law, has also been consistently coming down to the deck to join in the workouts with me. Karen’s involvement and interest has kept me driven and accountable.

Breakfast is next on the list and is arguably my favourite time of the day. I’m talking fried eggs, wholemeal bread, cheese and sautéed onion, spinach, mushrooms and broccoli with moroccan seasoning, and some smokey bbq sauce on the side. Some home made kombucha and most likely a coffee, accompanied by a comfy couch and some comedy or motivational tv show on Netflix. A complete recipe for the best breakfast and what I’d be requesting as my last meal on death row.

That’s my morning. It’s usually followed by some tidying, reading, stretching, cooking/baking, going for a walk, listening to a podcast, editing photos, playing music, watching some tv and, of course, scrolling through Instagram; because that weird shaving butter, discounted leggings and fruit enzyme face mask ain’t gon’ buy themselves.

For the moment, I’m feeling content, whole and aware of my thoughts and feelings. I’m wanting to double down on my night routine, to aim for better quality sleep and encourage more productiveness the following day. I’m making sure the weekend is the weekend by relaxing to the max on ‘doona days’ with a couple drinks and indulgent foods. It’s been nice looking forward to something other than a trip to the grocery store.

On another note, I’ve been looking at some photos taken in the last week we were in Whistler and realised that I hadn’t yet posted them. We had just been laid off and, day by day, the village became a ghost town. Everyone that worked for the mountain was hanging out by the grocery/liquor store or down at Alta lake, so we headed down with a couple of subs and ciders to check out the frozen lake and enjoy the sunshine.

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somewhere over the rainbow

Most days went along the lines of ‘Eat, Sleep, Gym, Repeat’ up until we started work. In between, we chatted within our new estate and became friends with Rachel and Emma. Steering away from going crazy (and only just avoiding it), we ventured out to Rainbow Falls, positioned on the opposite side of Alta Lake; a somewhat short distance. We took a taxi from Whistler Village to the base of the trail (we probably could have walked but.. the more you know, right?) So, fresh and ready we spend fifteen minutes looking for a trail leading in the direction of Rainbow Falls. Clueless, we begin to walk into the forest.

We eventually figured out where we were going, only to have been confused as to whether we passed Rainbow Falls or not (we did). A lovely, serene walk all the same and a perfect time to take in the cool, fresh air and appreciate mother nature.

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lost lake

We arrived in Whistler a day before my first day of work. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan. I worked approximately ten hours over the span of a month before I even had part time work. Jordan didn’t start work till later in the season either. This made it tricky. Moving to a new country is a big change, let alone a very popular ski resort. It felt like we were bleeding money, with the expensive groceries and rent. We tried to settle in, but without working and earning money, we were going stir crazy.  With the lack of snow, the mountains were far from being opened. We tried our best to stay positive and busy, structuring our days well, eating well and staying active. We purchased a six month membership at The Core gym, conveniently located in the centre of the village, of which we religiously attended daily. Thank goodness for the house we were assigned, as many of the units in other housing complexes didn’t even have a stove. Blessed with a full kitchen, dining and lounge area, we made the most of these spaces. As a way of looking forward to something and goal setting, we made plans each week to go on a hike or do something inexpensive, as there wasn’t anything coming in. In those weeks, one of the hikes we did was to Lost Lake.

Lost Lake is quite close to Whistler Village and doesn’t require a car or bus ride. We took the path leading through Upper Village, in means of checking out more of the area, and got onto the Valley Trail there. A beautiful and breezy walk, with clear paths the entire way. Once at Lost Lake, there are tables and a bbq and areas to lay down a picnic rug. We walked all the way around the lake, as the sun went down, then took a trail right into the village (well the car park just outside the village, but you get the idea).

We met a lovely person on the lake that was particularly interested in our stories and how we came to Canada. She insisted on taking our photos with my camera. She told us about some of the good value places to eat and visit and a bit about the mountain and other hikes we could do. So happy and friendly.

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straight out of a tony hawk video game

If you know, you know.

The Whistler Train Wreck has been a popular attraction for many years, drawing in travellers of all ages. I’d seen a couple of photos from when Jordan last visited this abandoned train site and I had always wanted to explore it myself. Astoundingly, five years later, I am lucky enough to be lacing up my boots and slinging a camera over my shoulder, ready to wander the British Columbian forests with my partner in crime.

South of Function Junction, near Cheakamus River, lies the abandoned boxcars. The train turned a rail, back in the 1950’s, after speeding through an area that was under repair. The wreck happened in a rock cut, where the boxcars, loaded with lumber, became jammed and blocked the track. The Valleau family, now considered pioneer loggers in the Whistler area, used their logging machinery to pry some of the boxcars free. They were moved down into the forest, where they have become a free-for-all canvas for the creative minds of Whistler.

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“adventure is out there”

If you haven’t checked out my short film on our trip into Canada, you should, it’s great, the links here

On another note, hello Vancouver!

By the time we got to the hotel, the sun had retired for the day and my tummy was starting to grumble. Although my entire being just wanted to flop onto the giant, white, fluffy marshmallow conveniently placed in the centre of the room, I fought through the pain, grabbed my purse and headed out the door.

As you may have seen from my video, Jordan and I were staying at The Burrard, conveniently on Burrard Street. The friendly host at reception suggested we checkout Davie St for a meal, being it quite close with an array of options. We went with his recommendation and made ourselves comfortable at a table in Banana Leaf. We chose well and were awarded mounds of fried rice and stir-fry vegetables. The waitress kindly warned us that the dried chilli’s in Jordan’s meal were extremely hot. Sleepy and incapable of heeding her words, we both grabbed a chilli and bit into it with passion. I was fine at first, but then as the heat intensified so did my desire to complete the challenge…whatever that actually was in the first place…

About ten solid minutes later, some crying, some laughing, some crying again and some sugar and water, I was able to eat my meal in peace. Oh boy, that must have been hilarious to Jordan whom spat his chilli back onto the plate mid-bite;  I really showed him.

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The next morning after a dreamy sleep, we started our exploring. We found this cute bistro on Granville Street, Twisted Fork, where we filled our bellies with baked eggs and percolated Canadian coffee.

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Over the next couple days we walked a lot of the city. We spent some time setting up our Canadian bank accounts and our SIN for our jobs in Whistler. We also looked at a lot of snowboard gear, as I was new to the scene. We looked around Gastown and perused the markets of Granville Island. We took full advantage of our complimentary Steve Nash gym passes that we received from The Burrard. We also gave the hotels’ free bike hire a spin and zoomed down to Stanley Park; we rode all the way round! I was really proud of myself, as I hadn’t ridden a bike for many years; it was a success!

We took a second day to visit Stanley Park, with intent of exploring more inland. We spotted a couple squirrels scurrying through the parklands and admired the autumn leaves. I think the reason that I really loved Stanley Park was because of how peaceful and serene the environment was, even being in the middle of the city; a very enjoyable and wonderful way to spend our last day in Vancouver.

Click here to see Stanley Park from my eyes behind the handlebars

italy / day twenty-six / arrivederci italy

Day Twenty Six was mainly spent travelling. We walked from our hotel in Florence to the station, but this time we took the back streets and it was quite enjoyable. I may have even detoured us past ‘Roosters‘ in hope of a green juice to-go – great idea might I add! We arrived at the station and everything was in a bit of a shamble. Thankfully, we had bought tickets a couple days ago, as there were major delays, pushing each train to Termini back approximately two and a half hours.

We changed trains in Termini to the Leonardo Express, taking us directly to the airport. We chose to stay in a hotel nice and close to the airport, as our flight was scheduled to leave early the next morning and we didn’t want to be delayed or anything. Instead of cabbing it, we, once again, chose to walk, as we would need to take their shuttle tomorrow morning. Well this was fun, wasn’t it..? The three kilometre walk started off in high hopes, then we ended up on a highway with about half a metre of space from the sidelines of the road. Let’s just say we were thankful to get to the hotel. We stayed at the ‘Best Western’ airport hotel. The rooms were really cosy and clean. We changed into some activewear and hit their gym for a couple hours. We had some delicious Chinese takeout for dinner, as we sat in bed and watched Iron Fist.

Such a fun, happy end to our holiday.

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Sadly, we didn’t end up sleeping for very long and we were up and out of bed by 4.20am. The hotel shuttle cost us, a criminal, €8 each to the airport, so thank goodness we walked yesterday. We got on the plane A-OK.

Although I was sad to leave Italy, I was happy to get back home to Australia. This trip couldn’t have happened without my amazing husband, Jordan, and Pops incredible generosity and enthusiasm to travel. This trip has enlightened me in so many ways and I am grateful for everything that I have been able to do, see, taste and experience. I am so blessed to have everything that I have in Australia and how everything is simply at my fingertips. This trip has helped me to understand just how important my relationship is with Jordan and Pop and there’s no one I’d rather travel with and share in these adventures. On a final note, here are some of my favourite pictures of us:

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italy / day twenty-three / firenze

Late checkout has us steadily packing up and we soon walk to the train station for a quick bite before our train arrives at Port Nuova. We had a bit of trouble with our seats, but third times a charm. Once in Florence, we disembark the train and lug all of our bags to the B&B Hotel, to save a couple dollars. We followed the Google Maps route, of which took us straight past the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, where we were swarmed with seas of people. Among the street vendors, an evangelist approached Jordan and grabbed his arm as we dragged our bags. She was very persistent and after politely asking many times for her to let go, Jord had to push her away from him. The walk was no more than three kilometres, so we thought it would be a breeze, but we were absolutely exhausted by the time we got to the hotel. After brainstorming reasons as to why it was so freaking busy, we realised that it was ‘Liberation Day’… 

We get to the hotel and collapse into the bed. Once we gather the strength, we head towards the river at the end of the street. There’s a nice breeze and a park filled with heaps of people enjoying the sunshine, kicking soccer balls and throwing frisbees. When we’re closer to the city centre, we turn down a street and search for somewhere for dinner. We end up with some delish cocktails at ‘Soul Kitchen‘ and add on their buffet style dinner deal for €2. Pretty decent and cheap!

italy / day twenty-four / firenze

By this day, I think we were starting to get quite exhausted. Excited not to be searching for breakfast, we tried to start the day off with the hotels’ breakfast buffet (extra €7.50 each), but it was absolutely atrocious. The limited spread consisted of cold, grey, scrambled eggs, plastic sausages and some cereal, of which I took the last bowl. Also, the cutlery was dirty and the automatic coffee machine was pumping out some seriously mediocre black liquid. We went past the reception on our way out and explained to them our horror, in hope of getting reimbursed.

We ventured into city centre to checkout some of the sights, including the Duomo and Bell Tower, Uffizi Gallery, Vechio Museum and Pitti Palace, but every single entrance was blocked by extremely long lines and expensive tickets, and the whole dance was becoming quite overwhelming. We take a breather near the river and checkout some local shops. In an effort to not waste our day, we rearranged our plans and left for San Gimignano. Approximately a fifty minute train ride to Poggibonsi, then a forty minute bus ride to the old medieval town. A little messy, but we got there A-OK.

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Once in the town, the hype becomes apparent and we are soon immersed in the mystery and beauty of this incredible place. Back in the twelfth and thirteenth century, within the town walls, two rival families,  Guelphs and Ghibellines, would seek to ‘out-do‘ each other building tower houses of increasingly higher and higher heights, for power and political control. Towards the end of the Medieval period, there were seventy-two tower houses measuring up to seventy metres tall. San Gimignano draws in many tourists with its mysterious, medieval history and incredible landscapes. 

We spend the rest of the day staring out at the rolling hills and exploring the streets of this unbelievable town. I have pasta and a sneaky Aperol spritz for dinner, as the sun slowly disappears behind the gothic style buildings. We finish with some world famous gelato for dessert. On the way back to the bus, we gather the balls and pop into one of many torture themed museums. Although creepy and unfathomable, we found it really entertaining and it was one of the highlights of our trip.

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Unfortunately, we ended up  stranded at Poggibonsi station for about ninety minutes, as our train had been delayed. We were so hungry once we arrived back in Florence that we went for second dinner on the way home.

italy / day twenty-five / firenze

After a much better sleep than the previous night, we set out to a breakfast place that had previously caught my eye, ‘Rooster‘. The menu is comprised of westernised breakfast food with fresh juices and specialty coffee galore. I really loved the rustic interiors and groovy furniture. Jordan got a beef breakfast burger and strawberry banana smoothie and I got a potato hash with eggs, onion and cheese, and a basil detox green juice – SO FREAKING GOOD!

Instead of trying to do all of the main attractions, we chose to go to the Uffizi Gallery. We lined up for about an hour and it was majorly packed inside, but I’m really glad we checked it out.

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A little walk around and we pick out a cocktail bar, ‘Buca 10‘ to relax and share some alcoholic beverages, and a tasting platter. We spent a couple hours sitting and chatting about our trip, places we had visited and plans for the future.

We spent our last night in Florence taking it all in and taking it slow. We had some dinner in a quiet piazza and watched the sky turn all hues of orange, pink and purple. A very enjoyable end to our last night in Florence.