Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Successful test pack today

Just a quick update:

Did a test pack today--that Kelty pack will hold a ton!

I'm taking a great pair of Kavu shorts, an Otterbox to protect my camera and a Discovery Trekking Outfitters backpacking towel that literally took up almost no space in my pack (which is great)!

Stay tuned for on-the-road reviews of these items and more as Jenand I take off in two days.

Sent from my iPod

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Songs of Australia

One way to know you love a place--or at least have deeply connected with a country--is if their national songs put a lump in your throat.

The Seekers' "I Am Australian" does this to me.

It's not really the same feeling I get when I listen to patriotic American songs but its similar. I think it happens because when we know the history behind the words, the meaning of the music is enhanced.

I love "I Am Australian" so much I learned to play it today on guitar--it's not hard because it just uses typical folk chords.

Maybe the best thing about this patriotic song is that the Seekers are making a statement about unity and national pride not built exclusively from war. I also really appreciate the fact that the song recognizes the original owners of the land, the Aborigines.

The Australian Post commissioned stamps of the band (pictured in this post).

Have a listen to it, if you're Australian or you've ever lived in Australia it will probably touch your heart.

If you're curious...

Listen to their national anthem (and see lyrics) here.

And their unofficial anthem, "Waltzing Matilda," here. I really like "Waltzing Matilda" too!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Planning the first leg: LA on a budget

Mapped out on paper today some of mine and Jen's priorities for the Los Angeles portion of our trip.

We arrive on Wednesday evening at LAX and we're planning to rent a car from the airport to get to our Couchsurfing location near Koreatown (if we can snag a good deal on rental cars from Priceline--I'm actually going to try and "name my own price)! Otherwise, we'll ultilize LA's notoriously slow public transportation on the first day...

Day one (really night one) we'll hopefully be having a community dinner with our host, Ryan, and his great housemates!

Day two: We have tickets to the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson who tapes in the afternoon around 2:30 or 3. We're planning for a drive around Beverly Hills and The Grove that morning. And, Jen is scoping out for a good places to eat in Hollywood or West Hollywood.

Day three: Hopping over to Venice Beach for a day of sun (hopefully), a picnic beach lunch and people watching! Then, possibly dinner in Santa Monica.

Day four: Hanging out on Hollywood Blvd. (hopefully lunch at Skooby's Hot Dogs). Taking in sights such as the Hollywood sign, Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame! Then, it's to LAX for our over-night flight to Sydney!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just in time for the Queen's Birthday!

We'll be landing in Sydney June 6, just a week before the Queen's Birthday.

Of course, because Australia is in the Commonwealth, it's a great day of celebration for Aussies!

Check out this listing of things to do in Sydney over the long weekend.

Time Out Sydney also has a compilation of things to do.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Only a month to go--Apollo Bay slides onto the agenda

Only a month until Jen and I are leaving for L.A., where we'll spend a few days before hopping over to Sydney.

So far, I feel I'm keeping pace with the things I need to do before leaving:

Visa obtained-check
Flights booked-check
Pack purchased-check
Organized to Couchsurf in L.A.-check
Organized place to stay in Sydney- ....
Set up bank account and TFN- ....
Loads of research on all the places we want to go-CHECK!

My most recent research has been about the Great Ocean Road. This was the first excursion I took during my first trip to Oz and I remember all the lookout points and natural surroundings just being amazing!

This area is known for the London Bridge (the middle collapsed a few years ago), the 12 Apostles (there are only eight), shipwreck sites and cozy towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay.

I saw a posting on a backpacker job site for a hostel in Apollo Bay looking for travelers to stay for at least one month to work two hours a day in the hostel. In exchange you get free accommodation, breakfast, internet, access to washers and--here's what Jen's excited for--SURFBOARDS!

So I e-mailed the hostel owner to inquire about working there in June as our first home/job location. Very nice man, the owner welcomed me and Jen to come visit. He said working backpackers often supplement their hostel work with other jobs in the town at cafes, shops or pubs.

Being that June is winter in Australia, though, work in the town may be hard to come by. Apollo Bay's main money-maker, besides fishing, is tourism and the winter weather keeps most tourists away.

So, Apollo Bay is an option but it might be hard to find paying work here.

Take a look at some pictures of the Great Ocean Road and Apollo Bay and you'll see why it's so hard to resist, even know job prospects are slim! The picture on this post is one I took back in 2009 at the start of the Great Ocean Road.

BootsnAll even ranked Apollo Bay as one of the World's 8 Most Beautiful Coastal Towns, making the list with Santorini, Greece and Knysna, South Africa!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Newly-purchased travel reads

Breakfast at Tiffany's and John Steinbeck's The Pearl.

Newly-purchased but not new (not new items and not new to my reading list).

I found these two gems at a Friends of the Library book sale this weekend for 25¢ a pop.

Truman Capote's title caught my eye because it's so retro-looking (and I enjoy Truman Capote although I've never read Breakfast at Tiffany's). And, The Pearl has been one of my favorites since the first time I read it.

What's even better is that these are thin paperbacks, great for carrying in the rucksack!

Read along to Breakfast at Tiffany's here, and a review of The Pearl here.