When things go awry……. Hollywood style

Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan, no matter how hard you try. And…….. when you have tried and planned and tried and planned, it is super frustrating. I really need to work on how I deal with this kind of situation.

We hired a Hummer to take us around Hollywood, we got this……

What the hell? A party bus for 5??!! I was so disappointed. We all felt cheated.

Then, I felt really silly…….have I ever been in a party bus like that? Has anyone I know driven around Hollywood in a party bus? Did anything bad happen? No, no and no! This really is not a problem. The problem lies my expectations and my inability to accept change. To accept that things don’t always go as planned.

The last few days of this amazing holiday have been tough. It has been so hot, I mean up to 46 degrees hot. We have been in close proximity for 3.5 weeks and it is beginning to show. One minute we are up, the next down and worse still…….all at different times!!

This trip has truely been amazing. From the sights of New York, LA and Toronto (modern cities with their own character and charm) to the wilderness of Canada, we have seen so much.

I have felt awe, inspiration, gratefulness, confusion, disappointment, exhaustion, excitement and exhilaration. Such a jumble of emotion! Not all has been what we were expecting but that is a good thing because it opened our minds to new things.

We are all ready to come home. For the luxury of our own beds but even more so, our own rooms and our own space. We will be grateful for what we have and what we have experienced. The world out there is vast and exciting!

This trip has taught me that change is good. Accepting change is the hard bit, but by doing so we open ourselves up to seeing things we never could have dreamed of.


Stress alert – LA

I am trying to hold it together.

This is not work. Nothing bad is happening. There are no time pressures. We are on holiday. Never the less, this is stressful and I can feel the symptoms creeping in. Tight chest, grumpiness, short temper, heart racing.


How is it possible that one of the most exciting times (Disneyland!) planned specifically for the kids, an amazing surprise, can turn out to be the one thing on this whole holiday that really tests the family??!!!

Well……… a 46 degree day might have a little to do with it!! What the hell? I have never experienced this heat, much less walked around an amusement park in it!!

Sometimes kids these days can just be downright ungrateful and moany. Or……..is it that they too are experiencing the exact same symptoms as me and displaying it in that fashion because they know no other way of expressing it? (Probably very likely today, however sometimes they are like it for no good reason!)

Either way, today was and is tough but each time we reach the front of a line, it is pure, outright fun and for those 5 minutes, the joy on everyone’s face makes it all worthwhile.

Check it out, all sorts of Mother’s here with their kids. I wonder if these ones moan too?!


Days 1-9: Glorious food – USA and Canada

As we go off the tourist beaten track and head into the Canadian wilderness, I wanted to reflect on the happiness of my stomach!

I had this notion that while on this trip, we would be eating burgers and chips every day. Boy was I wrong. I had completely underestimated the multi cultural background of these giant cities.

From street food (a whole different entity to that which I have encountered in other travels of Asia for example), to Restaurants of all kinds, to hotel breakfasts, to pubs, we have been utterly spoilt.

Now, unfortunately I have no photos of food (shame my sister isn’t with us, she loves to image food). But, I will have a go at describing some of my favourites.

Night 1: Times Square. Shredded Peking Duck crepes from a street vendor. Thick, succulent pieces of duck with plum sauce and fresh crunchy cucumber and spring onion. Teamed with an ice cold beer. Yum.

Day 1: Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Broadway. This place actually didn’t rate that highly for the food but as I have not previously mentioned it, here is as good a place as any. Here we had a traditional American breakfast of Eggs, Bacon and tater tots (kids super happy with that). But, the special bit was the entertainment (another moment when my son’s jaw dropped and his eyes popped out of his head) as the waiters broke into song as they served you. A special highlight was the rendition of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ (both kids know this song from school and weirdly enough we have now heard it in several different places on this trip!).

This Diner lost 17 waiters to Broadway shows last year, so you can imagine the quality. Was so much fun!

Day 2: Fresh Strawberries from a street vendor in the middle of Manhattan. Juicy, sweet and plump. The family all agreed one of the best Strawberry experiences ever (and we eat a lot of them!).

Night 4: Sbarro. Times Square. Most amazing Italian buffet. Charged by weight this place had yummy bright fresh salads, pastas, meat (including amazing but heavy meatballs!) and pizza. With a glass of red in hand, I was in heaven.

Night 5: Family Restaurant. Niagara Falls. Baby Back ribs and Buffalo wings. My son’s introduction to baby back ribs. He was actually speechless. He mumbled something about why had we not told him about these before!! (Probably because we don’t see them too often). Also a very funny moment here worth mentioning…….. our son asking our waiter if he could please get Dad drunk so he will spend more money in the Arcade!! The waiter thought it was hilarious and did proceed to constantly offer more beer (although Dad resisted!).

Day 7: Poutine. Street vendor Toronto Waterfront. A local delicacy we had previously been told about, fresh cut chips, gravy and cheese curd. Simple but so good (probably our daughter’s favourite). Perfect while sitting on a wall watching a French speaking rock band!!

In addition to all this we have had huge buffet breakfasts (not every day!), sushi, Thai, burgers and chips (had to be done at some point!) Lebanese kebabs, salads, fruit and ice cream!

The next 10 days we actually have cooking facilities so no doubt my skills in the kitchen will not live up to the last week or so. However, the bank account will be grateful for the break!


Day 3: Liberty and Tragedy – NYC

Today, our last in New York, was about grand sculptures of symbolism.

We started with the Statue of Liberty. She stands for so much that I as an Australian take for granted. She represents freedom, hope, truth, justice and enlightenment.

She is a beautiful collaborative effort between France and America. Her crown represents the sun’s rays of enlightenment, her torch and flame justice, the broken shackles at her feet escape and the tablet of law in her left hand is inscribed with the date of American Independence.

She really is beautiful.

Something else that was beautiful today was the sky around her!! Check it out.

From her, we went to possibly the most grand and heartbreaking symbol of tragedy in modern times…….Ground zero or the site of 9/11. The two ‘reflecting pools’ perfectly symbolise an immense sense of loss. Water cascades down the vertical walls of the tower’s footprints and into the void. Even my 8 year old daughter could recognise the power in the emotion it portrays.

I shed a tear or two behind my sunnies.

So, two very very different symbols almost in contradiction to one another and in such close proximity. The word irony springs to mind.

We completed the day with Ripley’s Believe it or not……… one for the kids (and adults alike).

It is time to move on to our next destination tomorrow. The kids have done super well in the big smoke, but they are country bumpkins really, so our 3 and 1/2 days here has been enough for them and we have been lucky to squeeze in all the things I was desperate to see.

Today no stress only hope then sadness and ………… right now fatigue.


Day 2: Contrasts – Central Park NYC

Trees and skyscrapers. Horses and squirrels. Elderly and children. Concrete and Grass.

Today, we rode bikes around Central Park. Again, I realised I know nothing. Firstly, there were hills, I imagined it flat. Secondly, it was hot (33 degrees and humid) not balmy warm. Thirdly, it was huge just like all things in America!!

We were part of a cycling tour………..The guides are amazing with their knowledge of history.

The fellow cyclists were amazing with their entertaining antics (I witnessed the most spectacular illustration of why you do not ride a bike and take photos, particularly in a park full of joggers, bikes, horses, cars and dogs. That is right people, you will come unstuck. The very fit looking German man went straight over his handle bars in such a dramatic fashion, his blonde girlfriend still posing for the photo. In my mind I thanked him for the wonderful demonstration for my son, who was having trouble listening in his efforts to show off and have fun……… in a park with so many distractions).

The secret wildlife was amazing if you were looking for the details, as I was. As promised, I took notice of ‘that bird’ in Central Park. It turned out to be 3 bathing in a puddle, attempting to escape the oppressive heat.

After the tour, we went to the top of the Rockefeller centre to appreciate the park from height. Amazing. Contrast.

So there you go. Pretty impressive. Looking at this photo, it is kind of hard to imagine the little details, but we saw them.

In case you were wondering………. we made the Yankees game. We ended up with no seats but enjoyed wandering around the stadium and soaking up the atmosphere and trust me, atmosphere there was!!!

As for the tickets in the electronic black hole………… who cares!

Tiny secret. I did have a stress attack today………..Over my backpack. It keeps eating things. Why can I never find what I need?? Now I am laughing at myself!!


Day 1: People people people – New York City

So, here I am in one of the busiest cities in the world. There are literally so many people, all kinds of people……. rich, poor, black, white, American, Australian, French, Brazilian, German, fast, slow, drunk, high, tired, wired, stressed and laid back.

People, people, people.

Even just driving from the airport to the hotel was the most eye opening experience, the things I saw, the people I saw. I literally wanted to cry. This is the one trip I have waited a long long time to do. It was meant to be on the way home from the UK when I lived there, but kids and jobs prevented that. However, good things come to those who wait. Patiently.

I saw….. NYC city lights for the first time, the Chrysler building, Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, cute American homes, apartment buildings, a random man dancing in the street(it was hysterical, the kids eyes were popping out of their heads!) a homeless man in the tube station entrance, horse drawn carts, the transfer driver muttering about traffic ( the likes of which I have never seen), baseball on the radio and all I could think was WOW, I know nothing!

There is a big wide world out there and people of all kinds, my imagination was not even capable of conjuring the things we saw in barely an hour.

So, have I felt stressed? The answer is yes, but only a little…….. my triggers have been a brief daughter tantrum ( on the whole both kids have been great), a problem with tickets to the NewYork Yankees (sometimes the electronic age is a bloody pain in the arse, go back to a ticket being a piece of paper please!!! We spent $500 and can not get evidence of a ticket that is in the electronic black hole). I think this is a normal reaction though. Most would be pissed off with this situation ( by the way I was not the most stressed person in the family over this!!) In the end, a refund was the only option. Now we are winging it and going anyway, who knows what tickets we might get.

Anyway, all I have felt in the last 24 hours is lucky. Lucky to be alive, lucky to be here and lucky to have what I have because so many people have a dam sight less than I do.