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Well, this is it. 18 months later. 4 new countries ticked off my bucket list. 2 new jobs on the resume. Countless friends made for life. I am now back in Townsville, or more specifically my parents’ house on Magnetic Island. I am beyond proud of how far I have come since I was last here, but before I get into THAT here’s a look at the last month of travels across the United States, Mexico (!), Canada and a New Zealand layover.
November began back in California, one of my favourite states. San Diego reminded me a lot of Australia, especially as I was staying at a hostel a block from Ocean Beach. It was the laid-back, friendly, casual surfer neighbourhood that Australia is known for.
To go with the beautiful beach was a great downtown area with so many dining options, an outdoor mall, Little Italy and a massive park. It really has it all.
Okay, so I have had this goal to do 25 countries at 25 and I knew the Mexican border was so close to San Diego, so I did it! I did a half-day tour that allowed us to spend some time in the main tourist area of Tijuana, which seems to be the safest place in town. I ate tostadas, haggled like I was in Bali and wore a sombrero. It was perfect.
I stopped in LA overnight on my way north as I had stayed in this hostel before and I knew it was one of the best. I didn’t do much but it was nice to be back strolling along the Walk of Fame as I had 17 months prior. How much I had done since that last visit.
I spent 5 nights in San Francisco aka the most I had stayed in a place since New York 5 weeks before. I really enjoyed San Fran – I think you need to get out of the downtown area though, as the Market and Powell Streets area is just overrun with people. But by the water, it is beautiful: seeing the bridge peeking through the fog and the seals having a great time at Pier 39.
I had two travel companions with me on the weekend too, which made it all the better: Grace, a lovely lass from Scotland I met in San Diego who was travelling up the coast the same time as me so we became fast friends. It was so fun to be travelling with someone who had similar interests and was just a joy to be with. Kate also travelled down from Vancouver for the weekend and it was great to catch up on 9 weeks of life!
We biked across the Golden Gate Bridge on an unfortunately foggy day, but nevertheless the prize is at the end when you get to the seaside village of Sausalito. We drunk, we ate, we danced, we visited Haight Ashbury and we marvelled at the murals in Balmy Alley of the Mission District. It was a fantastic time.
To get to Portland Grace and I boarded the Amtrak, arriving after 20 hours! It was pretty comfy though and I actually managed to sleep a little so that’s a positive for this transport-insomniac. But we were definitely not in California any more as it was so cold! It snowed and dropped to below freezing the first day we were there, so we didn’t get much sightseeing done, except for the mandatory visit to Voodoo Doughnuts.
I had to visit my beloved Powell’s Books again and we also watched a movie at The Mission Theater, which was an amazing discovery: $4 tickets for new release movies, super comfortable seats and, most importantly, booze, dinner and popcorn. Bliss.
Next stop was the last port of call for both of us in the United States: Seattle. I actually really enjoyed my second visit to the city. We visited Fremont, which is a very hipster northern neighbourhood. I enjoyed watching the sunset every night over the water – west (coast) is best.
We also took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which is a perfect day trip from the big smoke. Seattle has definitely moved up the ranks in my opinion.
Then it was time to head home to Vancouver. I caught up with friends and bid them farewell, which made me cry like a newborn baby. I have left behind a special bunch of people in my Canadian home, but I have told them this is not goodbye, just see you later. I had one last epic brunch at Red Wagon; I got my final pie fix at Aussie Pie Guy; we went and saw the latest Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay: Part 1 and I went to the German Christmas Market.
I left Vancouver on Air New Zealand at 6:30 pm Sunday and arrived at my parent’s house at 6:30pm Tuesday night, which totalled 30 hours of travel. But surprisingly, I did not get jet lag! Hurrah! Even though I probably only slept for an impressive four hours during my longest leg. But in terms of the entertainment available, I’m just saying, Chef is well worth a watch and 22 Jump Street – Channing, you are a god.
What a wrap. Thank you for reading and for coming along this expat experience with me. Although I am no longer an expat (sad face) I will still be posting regularly about all the awesome things I got up to on my trip, which hopefully help you in planning your own journey.