Sunday, 23 December 2012

So What If The World Ends!

Barcelona, how I survived without you in my world will forever be a mystery! It is so amazing! The food and just this entire city! If the world ends, I would be happy knowing I spent time here!

Poor Mama has been very sick so I think it was definitely the right choice to leave Morocco. When we arrived at our hotel we got a free upgrade so we are in this huge suite and Daddy, ever so kindly, has situated us on two of the biggest shopping streets in Barcelona.

We have been here for a few days now and have managed to see some of Antoni Gaudi's most famous works like La Sagrada Familia! We also have eaten some tremendous food and have plans to eat more.

Tomorrow should the world end you will find me in Barcelona's top restaurant! I am having such a hard life! It's actually been so amazing being here though.

Like today we went wandering one of the biggest shopping streets. When we decided to stop for Lunch and this lovely old couple were just sitting down to eat. We were unsure if we wanted to eat there but they said in perfect English that it was very good and we were more than welcome to eat with them if we wanted and they could help us understand the menu and give us some tips on what to order.

We found out over lunch that they were a lovely old German couple who were on holiday as they had a house in Barcelona and we ended up sitting and talking with them for just over 2 hours having one of the yummiest meals of traditional Catalan food!

If the world ends tomorrow I am so glad that I managed to do this trip with many people I love and being able to eat such amazing food. Luckily, I don't believe that it will end tomorrow and I look forward to the rest of what is to come.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Quick Change

WE ARE GOING TO BARCELONA! Mama and I have been booking extrodinares today and we are going to Barcelona tomorrow. Mama is quite sick now and I am not that great either so I think it probably is the right decision.

Neither of us are in love with this country, we like it but we don't love it so going to Barcelona for a week should be good. If I was by myself I would do the south but I think Mum has had enough. I think it's hard because we have been here for almost two weeks and although we loved Chefchaouen and Moulay Idriss the cities like Casablanca and Tangier we didn't like.

I am really excited for Barcelona. It should be amazing and I have mother her so maybe some shopping may be done. Christmas sales and all that. Mother says we are going to see the architecture and art but I am sure she can be swayed a little.

Yesterday, after mother and I booked the flights and kept dad up all night (sorry!) I went to the the Jardin Marjorelle with Rosie where the Yves Saint Laurent Memorial was as it was his garden which he donated to the Moroccan people. This had to be followed by a drink at the swankiest hotel called Mamounia.

So hopefully will be leaving Morocco on this high because I have had such a lovely evening. I shall leave you with a picture of the Yves Saint Laurent Memorial Garden.

The Beginnings Of The Female Jamie Oliver

This morning we woke up and we went to a cooking class to learn how to make Tangines. It was really fun and my one actually tasted pretty good but I am not sure how easy they will be to replicate them at home. This basically is going to be my line if anyone actually trusts me to make them one.

It was interesting walking with the lady while she brought her ingredients. It was interesting seeing where everything came from. It was a little disturbing when we went to buy the chicken and they weighed them alive and then killed them right in front of us!

I am surprised after writing this that I still managed to eat my Tangine with gusto. This afternoon we are going to meet up with Rosie. I think Mum wants to talk to Dad about leaving but we have to decide one way or another by tonight.

Marrakech Part 1

Today we arrived in Marrakech and we're still quite tired from the overnight train but we went into the main square which was actually rather intimidating. People were hassling you and basically chasing you with snakes and monkeys that were wearing diapers which sounds a lot more comical than it was.

You couldn't even take photos because they wanted money for the photos and you had to bargain for the price and the people you had to bargain with were scary and intimidating and I feel like I know about both those things having a judge as a mother. When she doesn't get her way...

So we ended up spending very little time in the main square and heading for the nearest cafe seeking refuge. Mum has been humming and haring about going on the second half of the trip as she isn't really loving morocco and the south looks even more basic and we can't bail so we sat in the cafe using wifi and looked at places we could go.

This evening we went to try find mums friend Rosie who was in Marrakesh for a conference however we ended up just missing her so we ended up back with the group because one of the girls was leaving the tour.

At this meeting they went over what was in the next part of the tour and when our tour leader said that "I cannot assure the safety of the food" I think Mum was shocked as what we have been eating (and already been sick from) was considered safe. Poor Mum. I think she plans on talking to Dad but as our hotel has no wifi and there is no cell signal for her in this whole country... Good luck.

Wishes On Tangier

We left Chefchaouen the next morning and jumped onto a public bus which is an interesting experience... The little boy on the seat opposite me vomited all over his mother and the floor and when the mother got off the bus driver just put newspaper over it and we continued on our merry way. Standard bus in Morocco.

We arrive in Tangier and we have lunch and we go wandering. If I am perfectly frank it's not really that amazing. Don't get me wrong, I like it but it doesn't blow my socks off. We had a look around the medina and souq but not as stunning as what the guide book made it out to be.

This evening we are getting on an overnight train to Marrakesh. Mum is excited as she has always wanted to go to Marrakesh so I am hoping that it will live up to all her expectations.

To be fair and I do always try to be. Morocco is a little dissapointing. When you look at photos of this place you would think it is vibrantly full of color and really picturesque and some of it is but a lot of it is incredibly poor and dirty and smelly and actually quite seedy.

As its an Arab country I get stared at constantly and having ransoms grab you bum or wink and you is not that fun. Don't get me wrong, most of the people have been amazingly nice but not all.

I think it's harder for Mum than me because she has wanted to come here for so long. I am enjoying being here but I wouldn't say that I am in love with this country or having the time of my life like I was when I was in every other country I have been to so far.

I hope the south gets better.

Oh Fractious Day! Callooh! Callay!

I am feeling better, still not 100% but much closer than I was yesterday. Today, I went and explored the small town of Chefchaouen. It is really quite quaint and pretty.

We looked around the shops and I love the leather bags but I think I will have to save that to the end as carrying multiple bags could be quite tricky! Tomorrow we have another bus ride which I hope will go better than the last but just glad to be feeling better.

It sucks being sick because I don't have much experience with mild illness for the past year. So when I get sick I get a bit angry with myself. I sort of tell myself off like "you are not dying, you are still alive, you are lucky look where you are! Stop being such a wuss!" but I have to remind myself that I have only been out of hospital for six months and I am still weaker and more susceptible than the usual person.

But hey! I am here so who cares!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Sick As A Dog

Today I feel as sick as a dog. I was meant to go exploring Fes but instead have been lying in bed with the contents of my stomach going out both ways. However I haven't been sick in over an hour so hopefully things are looking up.

So I ended up not getting any better and spent the whole day in bed. I woke up feeling slightly better but still not great and hoped onto a bus to take us to Chefchaouen. It was a pretty drive but sadly I felt sick as a dog and having a quick vom and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. However I am now feeling better now and hopefully will keep my dinner down and i will head into town tomorrow.

I won't post a photo with this blog coz its really not been all that pretty!

A Big Day

Last night we got to Moulay Idriss and it is stunning. We are staying in a guest house of a lovely local family and it is way nicer than I thought it would be. They made us the most lovely dinner! They even showed us how they cooked! It was really interesting and yummy!

The next morning we woke up and walked around Moulay Idriss and saw the Mausoleum which the city is famous for and walked to the highest point and looked out across the valley.

Then we all jumped into these cabs and I am being generous when I call them cabs because they are OLD Mercedes and feel like they will fall apart or blow up at any minute.

We made it to Voulibus which is an old roman city. It was really interesting walking around. Tom would have loved it so I could not help but miss him a bit while walking around but don't ever tell him that!

We saw some really interesting things like apparently they used to put carved penis's as arrows to your nearest brothel and they used to play drinking games, much cooler than those we play now.

They also were so unbelievably smart. They would actually have running water and sewage and warm baths which every hotel in Morroco I have been in so far has not managed to have. They all have Luke warm water and it's sooo cold you have to jump back into bed after a shower.

We then went and hoped back into the Taxi's and headed off to Meknes. When we got here we had trouble getting to the hotel to drop off our bags to go exploring because there was a big protest going on about unemployment rates.

However, we made it to the hotel and then dropped off our bags and went wandering. We went to the old grainary which is really quite impressive and then walked past the kings palace but sadly we couldn't really see in. It was the cleanest area of Morocco I have seen so far though. We then went into the local Medina and had some tea and then went off on a hunt for a camel burger which was surprisingly good! We then headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags only stopping to see how the decorated their plates.

After that we jumped onto the train and went to Fes. We were so tired by this point we all basically collapsed after going out for a lovely dinner having ye another tangine. They are delicious though so no complaining here!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Today we headed to Rabat early in the morning and I mean EARLY! We had to leave the hotel and 8AM which is basically a criminal offense! Anyway, I decided not to press charges as we were heading to Rabat the capital of Morocco.

I liked Rabat much more than Casablanca as it was very clean (in comparison) and it was sunny which is good because it is warmer and not raining so you don't get wet. However hot and appropriate Muslim attire sometimes are not the best combination. I cannot understand how people could travel in summer here!

We went to the Kasbah which is the oldest part of the city and basically a walled city inside a city! It was stunning and such a picturesque place and the doors were so tiny, obviously not made for people like dad or Tom! We also went to Mausoleum of Mohammed the V which is where the last king has been laid to rest!

The whole city was so pretty and so different from any of the European cities I have been seeing. Love the mixture of cultures that have come to create this country! It makes it such a fascinating place.

This evening I am heading to a small pilgrimage town called Moulay Idriss. We are staying with a host family in their guest house. This is very different from all of the tours that I have done because we don't have a bus or minivan and we are catching public transport everywhere.

When mum and I booked this we didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into and got a bit of a shock when we got the breakdown of the itinerary and then another one when we got here.

It's fine though. We have only almost been stuck on a train and had to jump off while people held the doors from closing and been very lost with a photocopy map that nobody could understand but this is an adventure and what is an adventure without a few close calls.

We haven't died, yet. So off to Moulay Idriss we go!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Just The Beginning

I made it, just. I was a little for a while that we wouldn't. The plane was late leaving Zurich because it was snowing then we get to Lisbon and we get on the smallest plane I have ever been on!

The plane only fit 20 people. You had nobody sitting next to you. It was one seat and then the isle then another person. The isle was raised in the centre to accommodate the engine. You could even see out the front of the plane because the pilots weren't even separated from the rest of the plane!

We made it though and arrive into the hotel! We arrived quite late so we were really hungry so we went out and had a lovely dinner. Everyone smokes inside here though shisha and cigarettes so I am going to stink this trip.

Casablanca is an odd city, it's not what I expected but I don't really think that I had any idea what to expect but it just wasn't this but that is not to say that it is a bad thing.

The city is very alive and not really made from tourists. It is an odd mixture between and Islamic country and an African nation. They are really lax about islamic practices here though. I think this might change as we go to smaller towns.

Today mum and I went on a tour around Casablanca and I was surprised at what I saw. It is not a beautiful place in the traditional sense of the word but the people are friendly and the place is incredibly interesting mix of cultures and heritage.

This evening we met our tour group and I am the youngest by about ten years and surprisingly mum is not the oldest! The tour is a lot more basic than what we thought it was going to be. It should be interesting!

This is truly the beginning of an unforgettable adventure.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Zurich - Part 2

Back to Zurich, hard life right? But mother is coming to meet her. When I started to make my plans for this trip I really wanted to go to places like India and to the Amazon and Africa and my Dad looked at me as if I was mad. He said to me "you realize you won't have even been out of hospital for six months when you start this trip. Are you insane?" Not his exact words but general gist.

However, we came to a compromise. Mama has always wanted to go to Morocco so she is coming with me!! So she flew to Zurich to meet me. Jannie and I met her at the airport and she honestly looked like she had been in the car for an hour not a fourty hour plane ride.

Since she was here we have been snowed in for a day and it has been very cold so we have been taking it very slowly as Mum needs to get over her jet lag but we did manage to squeeze in some Swiss choccy, sweets and all things naughty and shameful. A wee excursion to see Breaking Dawn Part 2 was even on the books. 

It's been wonderful to relax at a home and catch up on some reading, tea drinking me time. Tomorrow however we are off to Morocco so I thought I probably should update the blog as it is a new beginning. 

So Africa, watch out, here I come.

Life Is Hard On Lake Como

So I left the hotel in Milan with sadness as it is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed and it was hard to leave such beauty behind not knowing what the future holds but as all of us must I left and had good faith. We drove an hour to the beautiful Italian Lake Como!

We had a good time driving in Italy even if it was a little adventurous like driving into a tunnel at which the road suddenly finished and having to back up a good two hundred meters on a tiny Italian street. We made it to Lake Como which can't help but take your breath away and when I saw where Jannie had booked for us to stay...

We stayed at the beautiful Casta Diva which were old lakeside Italian villas which have been restored to their former glory. That afternoon we went on a lake cruise in an old Italian boat around this truly picture perfect lake. It is so picture perfect it has been the set for movies such as 'Quantum Of Solace' and 'Star Wars.' Celebs like George Clooney even have houses there and not for the first time I was amazed that this is my life. It was as perfect as it sounds.

After this we went to the spa and had such a lovely time! Jannie and I then dressed up and went to have   light dinner in the bar area and there was a celebrity chef who had been cooking with this group and they were having hors d'oeuvres served and free wine and because we couldn't have dinner while this event was going on we were invited to join them.

Life is hard on Lake Como.


Back to Italy I go!!! Seriously sometimes I wonder what I ever did to deserve this. Everyone always say how strong I am, how brave but I don't really feel like that sometimes. Something awful happened to me and I just got through it as best as I could but whatever reason I am so happy to be here and in Milan!!

Jannie has planned the most beautiful road trip. We drove to Milan from Zurich which took just over three hours and we arrived at one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen. It is called Hotel Principe Di Savoia. It's the hotel where all the supermodels and celebs stay during Milan fashion week!!

It pure luxury. That afternoon we had a scrumptious afternoon tea and then headed 'The Last Supper'. Like all paintings pictures can never be enough but it is such a surreal experience to be over here and experiencing all of this!! 

We woke up the next morning and headed down to breakfast and then headed off to the Duomo not before doing some shopping in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Duomo is such a stunning church and unlike many others you can actually go up onto the roof and have a stunning view out over Milan.

In the afternoon we went shopping on the Quadrilatero della moda which are four of the most famous shopping streets in the world. It was so beautiful. One advantage of traveling in Europe in winter is christmas. Everywhere is decorated with fairy lights. It is so beautiful and romantic. The Quadrilatero della moda was so stunning and amazing. I had one of the best days of my life strolling it. Followed by more amazing food.

I dont think that life gets greater than this, great food, great people and being in such a beautiful place. I really am thankful that I am able to live and see this. 

Zurich - Part One

I am now back in swissy land!! I had to leave Paris but luckily I had a lovely family friend called Jannie come to meet me! Jannie picked me up from the train station (I caught a train from France to Switzerland! How cool is that!) then we went back to her place which is amazing!! It looks right out over Lake Zurich. 

That evening we hatched plans for a wee Italian road trip!! We decided that we would go to Milan for two days and then to Lake Como for one, all over a lovely carbonara!  The next day while we finalized the plans. I relaxed and had to wish father a happy birthday! Then that evening Jannie and I went to Skyfall!! If you have not seen this movie, see it! I am not sure if it was because I was in Zurich but it was my favorite James Bond so far.

I have had the most lovely relaxing time here but bring on Milan!

Parlez-Vous Francais?

I am in love with the city of Paris! It was the perfect end to an amazing tour! When we arrived in Paris we went on a driving tour and got our bearings and I got to see the Eiffel tower with its Christmas lights on! I am unsure whether I think that it is more beautiful at night or during the day. Such first world problems.

It is truly breathtaking! Like I felt like my life could not get more perfect aside from the aching leg and having had cancer and all that jazz. I honestly felt so happy with my life. I was in Paris with Petris and other new friends. 

I even went to the MOULIN ROUGE!!!! My friends Claudia and Vanessa are probably the only people who can comprehend how excited I was about this. Claudia because she is as obsessed about it as I am. Vanessa because she has caught Claudia and I running around my house singing to the songs of the Moulin Rouge movie at the top of my lungs. It really was as tacky as you thought it would be. It was Tacky with a capital T but it made me so happy! 

The next morning I went to a perfumery which showed us how perfumes were made and  the history of them. We then went back to the Eiffel tower and went up. Unfortunately from the top you could see nothing as there was too many clouds! 

I ended up having five days in Paris in which time I had some beautiful food and saw stunning places. I tried to go for my first haircut but they said my hair is still too short so I think I will just wait to go home to get it done.

It's weird thinking of my life as I now define most of it as pre-cancer and post-cancer. When I first got diagnosed I didn't think it would change me that much and essentially I am still the same person but I just feel a lot older. A middle aged woman stuck in a teenagers body. Many women's dream. 

I often wish that I was how I was before in looks and how I related so much better to those around me but I guess we can't change who we are and if I think about my life I have amazing family and friends and I'm in PARIS!

I stayed in a hotel next to the Bastille monument. I felt like walking around singing Le Mis. It is such a nice area of Paris and I don't get where people get this idea that the French are rude.

I had the most nice experience with the French and I can understand them being snarky with tourists. Of a group of fifty people only one other girl and I could speak marginal French. Imagine if all Japanese or Chinese tourists showed up New Zealand and didn't bother to make an effort to try to speak English. We would get annoyed. Why should we expect the French to be any different. 

I had the loveliest experience with the local Parisians and just in Paris in general. Such good food!!! Did I mention that? YUM!

Piza or Pizza?

The drive to Lucerne was a long one but on the way we got to stop at the leaning tower of Piza!!!! It is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. I have seen many photos of it but I didn't quite realize how crazy it is. It really does look like someone has stopped it mid fall and told it to freeze! 

We weren't supposed to stop in Piza for that long. The plan was supposed to see the tower, take some snaps and then grab some grub and jump back on the bus. We didn't plan on stopping long because during world war two the whole place was flattened so it is basically now just for tourists. However, two of the boys ended up getting lost so we searched for them for an hour and a half before we found them.

We ended up getting to Lucerne and everyone was sick and tired so we all had an early one. Bec and I literally fell into bed after dinner and were asleep before our heads even touched the pillow.

This morning we have gone up Mount Pilas in the Swiss Alps. It is so stunningly beautiful it takes your breath away. My leg is really sore today so I didn't climb to the tippy top but I had a wonderful Swiss hot chocolate in the Swiss alps.

I am writing this with one of the most magical views I have ever seen. Sometimes i can't quite believe that this is my life because what nineteen year old gets cancer and then is like "hey, lets go to Switzerland!"

After we got down we went to a local restaurant and had some cheese fondue for lunch. It was really different tasting but also strangely nice, it was different to anything that I have tried before but I liked it.

After we finished lunch I went to conquer some Swiss chocolate which I assure you has been hyped up for a reason. I was in bliss aside from the fact that I was still feeling rather grotty. Yay for sickness! It's about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Cool Cat's At Piza


In the last two days I have been to a Italian leather factory and shown how proper Italian leather is made, I have been wine tasting in Tuscany and I have even seen the statue of David!

Life is not getting much better than this apart from the fact that I am sick. I have finally got the contiki cough which I have been avoiding like the plague so this means I am taking things slowly and just trying to stay healthy! 

Though all in all my life is spectacular. I am in Florence and I am having the time of my life. Still trying to catch up on sleep and rest from Rome but doing it in a magical city with magical food.

Life is good. Again I am reminded at how privileged I am. At the moment, yes I am sick, but I am not vomiting continuously, I am able to understand what is happening around me, I am not going to die from having a cough. 

It always scares me when I get sick. I sit there and I worry that the cancer is coming back or I have got something as deadly but then I realize that I am just like everyone else (thankfully!) and I have a cough and to not freak out because I am alive and in Firenze.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Roma - Part 2

Today was a huge day and I am totally exhausted right now . I am not sure I can even keep my eyes awake while I am tying to write this.

Today we woke up early and we were meant to get our washing done but Bec and I didn't get out washing down before the man left! Not a good start to the day! Luckily this was our only bad luck! The rest of our day was awesome!

We went with the group into Rome on the underground and we ended up near the colosseum. I cannot believe I actually was able to see this city. Tom when we were younger was really interested in the ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and basically any ancient civilizations. So it was awesome to see these places that I have read and been told so much about.

We then went walking around Rome seeing sights like the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon and so many other sights it was unbelievable! We had another lunch, of you guessed it, pasta and pizza. After we headed into the Vatican city and saw the Sistine chapel and St Peters.

It was a really moving experience and it is so much more beautiful than any of photos can portray. Petris got quite emotional as it is somewhere he had wanted to go since he was two. This trip pretty much has been a dream come true for the both of us.

After the Vatican I was pooped. The walking had been hard as I had done all of the above on crutches and I could not move so we went to the closest cafe and sat and had a hot chocolate which here basically means melted chocolate in a cup. I die of happiness every time!

Then we end out for the most beautiful dinner ever where I had bruschetta and tortellini with a stunning view of a a gorgeous church.

Everyday on this trip is the best day of my life! Its insane, however sleep calls. Night!

Roma - Part 1

Today went to Rome! On the way we stopped at this fashion outlet mall which was kind of a let down as everything was a bit odd and the stuff people had obviously been not buying. So it was a sort of the reject market but I  still had a nice pizza for lunch. I get the feeling in Italy it's either pizza or pasta. I love both so I am not really complaining.

But Rome is amazing! We went to an included dinner which was rather average apart from the tiramisu which was the best that's have ever had in my life. I cannot express my love for that tiramisu in words alone. Many hand gestures and crazy dances need to be concocted to explain how I felt about it.

After we went to a club where everyone paid €25 and got unlimited drinks for 2 hours. I had good time but it made me realize that I don't really like clubbing and it's probably not a good idea for me to do it on this trip. 

Everyone was really excited that I was coming out and they would wrap their arms around me and lean on me which added extra weight to my leg which meant that it got sore really quickly. 

Also when people starting spilling drinks and the floor starts getting slippery I worry about falling over. I really wish that I was like everyone else but I HSBC these worries which I cant get rid of and I need to learn to accept that they are a part of who I am now and I need to make the best of my situation which is that I am in Italy right now having the time of my life.

One Of The Best Days Of My Life

Venice was incredible. I had always read about Venice and thought it would be the most magical city but everyone who I talked with said that they were really disappointed when they went to Venice. That it was a monumental let down. So I went with very low expectations and I was thoroughly surprised.

I was also really worried about coming because on they news it said that there had been heaps of flooding and I thought that we would not be able to go but actually it turned out fine as there was very little water left by the afternoon and we had clear blue skies all day!

We woke up early in the morning from our grotty hotel which has been the worst one by far. We had four girls sharing one bathroom and the toilet didn't work and it was not clean and very cold! They forgot the heating!

Anyways we woke up early and went into the old part of Venice and walked through to st Marc's square and wandered around looking at shops and exploring the alleys and I had the most gorgeous food even if highly over priced! Italian food makes me die with happiness.

That afternoon we went on a gondola ride. It actually made me so happy. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face. How much more perfect can life get than being in a gondola in Venice with one of your best friends who keeps on belting out Italian ballards. 

My life is pretty incredible. I cannot even believe that less than six months ago I was still in hospital and sick as a dog. I am so happy and making new friends which is completely out of my comfort zone but it is becoming easier as the time goes on! 

We then went out for a lovely dinner after which I passed out on my bed. Today was one of the best days of my life. 

Who Even Won?

Today we drive to Venice I was really worried because it had been all over the news in Munich that Venice had been flooding but it looks like the weather should be sunny and the flooding should hopefully have gone down.

Today was the most amazing drive. The Italian countryside is indescribable! Like shockingly stunningly beautiful! But I am getting ahead of myself!

On the way to Venice we stopped of Innsbruck which has one of the original Swarovski shops and had an amazing little museum and stuff. The girls we in heaven. I really do feel sorry for the boys who had their girlfriends step into that shop! 

I had a really yummy lunch then I went on one of the most scenic drives down into Venice. On the way we also stopped at this truck station and their were these birds who were doing some sort of incredible flying pattern so we all stood and stared for a while enchanted.

Until we got to the hotel. We were driving in and our tour manager was like "we're here!" as we drive past the Novetell where we pull up behind and there appeared what looked like a parking building converted into a hotel. 

JB (Our awesome tour manager) laughs at our faces! It was not good. We had no heating, the shower head was not to attached to the wall, the toilet didn't work and dubious to how clean the sheets were.

We therefore set about fixing our problems with a few bottles of wine at our quiz night! And who won? Who knows!

Drunken Munchin

Yesterday I left Munich and went to Daqou. Daqou is a concentration camp outside of Munich. It was one of the most moving experiences. It reminded me to be thankful to be alive and really living. The history was fascinating but also incredibly sad.

The thing that got me most is that some of the prisoners were so mentally damaged that when the war ended in 1945 a whole group of prisoners stayed in Daqou and people lived there til 1965. They had no where else to go and no one to look for them or vice versa. The Nazis had broken these people so much that they could not even contemplate leaving jail.

I wondered if this happened for other things. When you have something traumatic happen in your life can you ever really move past it?

That evening I really needed a drink and luckily we were going to the Hofbräuhaus
 which is the oldest beer house in all of Munich. It was seriously amazing! We got these litre jugs of beer and I got this huge pork knuckle! It was actually amazing and it did a good job of lifting the somber mood. 

Sooo this morning was hard to get up but we managed to do it and went walking around Munich this morning. It has a huge amount of history, not all good, but very interesting.

I especially liked the park  in the middle of the city. The leaves in the park were all falling off in true autumn fashion and they were seriously the most beautiful color surrounding these jaw dropping lakes. The whole experience was mind boggling. We really do miss out at home not having all of the seasons.

After walking/crutching around for three hours I was in serious need of a rest so I went to a German pub and I had meat with meat sauce. This is no joke they love their meet ever so much.

I ended up going home and having a nap in the afternoon before going out for a dinner where I was literally served half a chicken! I could not eat it all. 

 Pork Knuckle
 The Park
Could you finish it?

Dreaming And Deep Ends

We left Berlin at what I like to call sparrows fart. For most people they just call it 9AM! We then drove to Dresden a small German town which was basically flattened during the war. It was so stunning as they had rebuilt everything so you would never know. We had such a lovely lunch then we headed to Prague. 

Its rather convenient but also a tad sad because we don't get our passports stamped when we drive between the countries so my passport will still be very empty when I return home! Anyway we got to Prague and went up and looked at the Palace which was really pretty and got to see the sun set over Prague. 

Everyone got dressed up as tonight was the night of the great Prague pub crawl but yours truly still being on crutches couldn't go but was still fun seeing everyone get dressed up in their sunday best. 

I had such an amazing day today! I was ready to go by 9:30AM!  I was super proud that I have been waking up early (I just sleep earlier than most of the people here, potenchly could go into the running for biggest nana to ever have lived) and I went walking around the town.

Prague is stunningly beautiful. I know I say this about everywhere but it is true there is so much history and beauty in these major European cities. Walking around the cobbled streets I could not believe my eyes. Even a very pretty blazer happened to catch my eye as I wandered past Zara....

I walked around for about 2 hours (which with a broken knee cap is a serious achievement if I do say so myself) after which I went on a boat cruise which was ok. It was beautiful to see Prague from the water but if I could have I would   have liked to walk more around the town.

After the river tour we walked home and on the way home took a detour to the awesome outdoor market where a pretty scarf was acquired and another trip to Zara was made! Hard life right! 

This evening I went out for a very nice dinner on the roof of a hotel. It had glass walls so you can look down into the square. It was stunningly beautiful and it made me so happy to be alive. I am in such beautiful place with such lovely people.

It makes me so happy to see these beautiful places and to be eating such yummy food. It kinda seems surreal that this is my life because after spending so much time in hospital I honestly thought that I would never get out. 

I have dreamed many a time to come to these places but to actually be here and alive and in remission it makes it hard for me not to smile.

I really did through myself off the deep end with this Contiki people. I have made almost no new friends in the past year and I am extremely out of practice. All the Contiki people seem really nice but I just need to get over my shyness and make some friends.

So please wish me luck as I dive into the deep end!!

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

This basically means in German "I am a jam doughnut" and it was said by none other than JFK in 1963. What a bad mistake to make when reassuring the people trapped in east Berlin that the west had not forgotten them.

This is why I love Berlin though. At the moment I am sitting in a coffee shops on one of the main drags and from my perch I am able to see the whole world go by. This main street is not like others though. In the middle of the road there is checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was a confrontation between the east and west which almost caused world war three to break out and for all out nuclear warfare to ensue but opposite it is a Maccas and you can't help but reminded that this is a city where the old and new have become one.

I love Berlin as a city. It's amazing and incredible and I would move here without a second thought. It think it might be my favorite city in the world. I like how old and the new seem to coexist so beautifully. 

I like the history but more than that I love the feel of this city. It seems so alive. There is public art everywhere and it is a truly beautiful place.

I never want to leave but tomorrow we go to Prague. Hard life right...


I AM GOING TO BERLIN! I apologize for the overload of capitals but I honestly cannot contain my excitement! This morning I went to the doctor who took off my cast and said that I am allows to travel. I have to wear a brace and use crutches but these are minor details!

I was so excited I went straight to the airport and got on the next (reasonably priced) flight to Berlin but I still had hours to kill so Popps (the amazing lady who I was staying with) took me to Brighton. It was awesome to actually be able to move around even if the brace is beyond annoying.

I had a wonderful day! We had English fish and chips at the very English sea side. Sometimes life sucks but today was not one of those days. Today I was sublimely happy. I sometimes feel like life likes to mess with me for a laugh but then it gives me days like today that are so utterly wonderful and I don't mind so much about the bad days.

So Contiki, beware because here I come!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Fault In Our Stars

When I was younger I used to play this computer game (like most kids) called sims. It's a game in which you created towns and houses and the people that lived in them.

Sometimes I wonder whether someone is controlling my life, if my life is meant to be a tragedy. That person that has so much bad luck that is almost comedic if it was not so pathetic.

When I got off the plane at Gatwick I went straight to the hospital hoping to get the all clear. No such luck. I have fractured my patella.

I have to go and see the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday to see whether I will need surgery to wire my knee back together, which is the worst case scenario as I would have to fly home and this journey would be over.

Another option would be that I would have to keep the cast on which has reduced me to being a child again as I cannot even get dressed without help and I would have to stay in London and miss my contiki.

As it is I am going to miss going to Amsterdam but hopefully they will give me a brace which has limited movement and crutches and I will be able to go to Berlin and continue my contiki from there.

This is not how I imagined my trip of a lifetime. Yet again I am in pain, yet again I cannot be a normal teenager, yet again I have to miss out on things I have dreamed about and worst of all I again i am a burden and a major worry for those who care about me.

I read this book recently called "A Fault In Our Stars" by John Green which is about this girl who had terminal cancer. Morbid reading I know but it is a really wonderfully written book and her love had osteosarcoma so i felt a little as if he was a kindred spirit. Also, in it she went to Amsterdam and she went to the Anne Frank house.

Hazel has to carry an oxygen tank around with her because the cancer spread to her lungs and when she is in the Anne Frank house she feels like she had to climb to the top because she is alive and Anne isn't.

And I totally understand where she was coming from because sometimes I feel the same. I am one of the lucky ones, one of the ones that get to live. I sometimes feel like I have to live for all those who didn't get to.

But sometimes its like life is against me living. I fractured my knee and I don't even have a cool story. Well I can say that this one time I'm Bosnia but all I was walking down Mostar bridge and it was slick and I slipped.

I did not jump off Mostar bridge and hit my knee on a rock, I was not even out partying. I was walking and I fell over and now I will not be able to go to the Anne Frank house. I will not be able to experience what I have read so many books about.

But that is life. I now just need to pray and hope like hell that I will be able to go to Berlin!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Pain Yet Again!

I can't believe this happened to me. I thought I had suffered enough. I feel like I deserve just a few months of healthy happiness.

I have been having the most wonderful time in Dubrovnik. We have been eating such yummy food and having a really good time. We went on the cable car to the top of the hill and had the most spectacular view, we have been having some delicious food and we even dressed up and went out dancing on Halloween!

Today was supposed to be another amazing day. Today we went to Bosnia and Herzegovina and stopped at two towns. It was such a fascinating place. This is a country which has been decimated by war just within the last twenty years.

There is evidence everywhere of the war. Whether its skeletons of houses which have now been reclaimed by nature and have trees growing where houses once stood. It's not like you have to go looking for it either, it's everywhere, even on their main streets.

It is strange because you have this war torn country but you also have this picture perfect old bridge and surrounding area. This is where I came into trouble though. It had rained last night quite hard (the weather has not been great) and it was patchy while we were there which left the cobbles slick with rain.

We were all having minor heart attacks here and there until it actually happened. As we were going downturn bridge. I must ave stepped onto an especially slick stone and my legs just went from under me.

As I fall though my leg twists and it has since swelled to about double the size. Poor Mum and Dad were freaking out on the other side of the world when they get a call at 1AM NZ time.

I was in good hands though. Ellen was in her element being the best mum ever and Bex and Danielle were amazing and kind. We ended up coming back to Dubrovnik at about six pm. Dad is organizing an X-ray when I get to London to see what I have done.

I hope that it is nothing serious, I feel like I deserve this amazing time after the awful year I have had. So cross your fingers and toes for me because I do not want this to be the end. I want it to be a hiccup in what is to be the trip of a lifetime.

I can deal with the pain, I have done that far too often for someone my age. I can deal with anything really but if gods out there I hope he will hear my prayers and pleas. I need him to.

Hope everyone had a fab halloween, we did!!

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Lucky One

When I was young I used to see these really cool teenagers who used to be in these amazing places with their friends and I would wish that one day that would be me. Today that is me, my dream has come true!

I am in Dubrovnik in Croatia with Bex, Ellen and Dee. It's such a beautiful place with amazing people! If only the weather was better!

I have been here for two days now. On the night we got here we went out into town! It was so much fun! I haven't really been out to town since I was in Dunedin and when I was there I was only able to stay in town for less than half an hour. When I went out I almost felt like everyone else. I managed to stay out for HOURS!

I have lost a lot of my confidence so meeting people is really difficult for me but I am getting better at it. This trip is amazing because it is making me push out of my comfort zone. Whether it is almost loosing my lunch on the worlds fastest roller coaster, trying to navigate a country by myself where I don't speak the same language or simply getting the courage up to meet new people.

Yesterday we were all pretty tired and a little hungover so we had a lazy day. We went to a local pizza shop and to the supermarket for a bit of a stock up but that evening we all jumped into our complimentary bathrobes and had an amazing night in watching some x-factor, catching up and engaging in the bad habit that is gossiping.

Today we went and explored some of the old town and went and saw one of the old churches which was stunningly beautiful and I lit a candle for Veronica (the girl who I shared my room with in hospital but who passed away) reminding myself that I am one of the lucky ones.

And I am a lucky one, I am in a beautiful place with beautiful people and I wouldn't trade my life with anyone because I am lucky.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Weather's Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

I have been to London before but I was very young (four the first time and six the second) but I was so young that although I have faint memories I have more or less forgotten it.

But what I wonderful city! So vibrant and teaming with life. Something is happening every which way you look and people are EVERYWHERE! Such a contrast from Abu Dhabi!

When I got off the plane though I ran into some problems with British customs and for a few minutes there I wasn't sure I would make it! Apparently a young single female with no job traveling from the middle east is a bit suspicious especially when I wasn't sure of the address I was staying at!

Luckily I called the lovely family friend and she gave me her address and providing copious amounts of documentation I was allowed in.

I wasn't here for very long really. I come back two more times during this trip but I only really had one day here before I carry on to Croatia with the lovely Bex and Ellen and Danielle!

So I decided to be a real tourist and do a double deck tour which was amazing just to sort of cram a lot in for a short amount of time! I am going to explore more in detail when I come back!

The only drawback of the open top double deck buses is that it is late autumn and yesterday it was 2 degrees!! I needed a good warm meal after hat to heat me up! So off to Croatia next!

The weather's here and I wish you were beautiful!

A City Under Construction

For the last four days I have had the pleasure of exploring a city under construction. I say a city under construction as this is probably the best way of describe Abu Dhabi.

It is a place that is run almost entirely off the spoils of the oil industry. Abu Dhabi seventy years ago did not exist. This man called Sheikh Zayed (who was basically king, government and supreme ruler at the time) had this belief that he should share the wealth that the oil industry created, so he did that.

Every person (and by person I mean man) that was born in Abu Dhabi gets a living allowance of NZ$200,000 plus another $50,000 for every child. This means that the country has many incredibly wealthy people but also some incredibly poor too.

On one hand the Sheikh gives the local emirates all of this money, free houses and many more perks. They also exploit many immigrant workers. Immigrant workers are often imported from Pakistan, Phillapines and other surrounding developing counties. These workers get paid very little and sleep in worker camps and are not treated very well.

Sheihk Zayed also had this vision of a time when there would be no oil so he set out to create a ultimate tourist destination. So he has funded all of these developments. Abu Dhabi (when it is finished) will be a city that will be able to support forty million people even though they only have a population of one million. However at this moment in time it is a city under construction.

Even though it is a city under construction I managed to have some of the most incredible experiences. I stayed with an absolutely incredible family. They made me feel so welcome it was amazing!

On the first day I got to Abu Dhabi I arrived at 6 AM! John met me at the airport with a sign saying welcome to Abu Dhabi from which we travelled to their house and met the lovely Larkin ladies. Hinemarie had made muffins so as they were running around trying to get Taylor into her uniform (she's only three and already started school!) I went and got dressed into appropriate clothing.

That's one thing I found difficult. In Abu Dhabi while I was there the temperature ranged from about 32 to 36 degrees and as it is a Muslim country and I am a woman I had to be covered. It is not as conservative as I thought it would be but I still chose to wear respectful clothing.

That afternoon I went to Abu Dhabi Grammar with John. John runs a after school program teaching kids here how to play touch rugby. We went to this school to promote the program.

I found this really interesting to see after working at Plimmerton for the last couple of months. I found Abu Dhabi Grammar really primitive in comparison. There was almost no room for the kids to play! Each year group has lunch at a different time of the day as there is not enough room for them to all have lunch at the same time! And this was at a private school that cost the same amount as QMC or Marsden.

That evening I went out to dinner with Hinemarie, Logan and Taylor. It had the most beautiful view of the mosque which is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places I have ever been.

From far away the mosque looks like a traditional mosque however when you go inside you find that the prayer times ad displayed on a digital clock and there are even frangipani designs! It also displays how much obscene wealth there is in Abu Dhabi as all of the spires are made completely out of 24 carrot gold.

The next day I along with going to the mosque I also went to Masdar city which is a city that they are trying to make carbon neutral. It was an interesting mix with the old and new but like lots of things in Abu Dhabi it is still under construction. I also may have managed to fit in a little shopping...

The next day I managed to catch up with Megan and we had a lovely afternoon together living a life of luxury! Eating cakes at a gorgeous cakery, smoking shisha on the top on the Souk which was beautiful then proceeding for some haggling at a jewelry market.

On my last day I went to the emirate palace for breakfast with one of the most breathtaking views of Abu Dhabi! And that afternoon I went to FERRARI WORLD!!

I took my own life into my hands when I rode on the worlds fastest roller coaster! Tried (rather unsuccessfully) to drive a formula one car (in a simulation). Beat kids (and nobody else really) in go-karting and even got to sit in an actual ferrari!

I apologize for the massive entry and I don't blame you if you gave up reading by this point but this has been an amazing beginning to the trip of a lifetime. I really feel like I am living life. It's great being ally independent again after being dependent on people for so long .

I have had an unbelievably good time in the city under construction.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Today I have been in Chicago for one week which makes me rather lazy as this is the first time that I have actually updated this blog. My excuse is that I have had a yucky cold. Lame I know but it means that aside from going to a few nearby shops (the supermarket is INCREDIBLE) I haven't really ventured that far from home base.

But then again I don't really need to. The place that I am staying in is incredible, seriously, out of this world amazing! It is a penthouse in one of the buildings in downtown Chicago and you can see everything! Millennium Park, the bean, lake Michigan one of the most breathtaking views I have ever had the pleasure of beholding.

The people we are staying with are so lovely! They are amazingly good family friends who are basically family so it is amazing to see them and where they live.

This city though is one of the most architecturally interesting places I have ever been. It has so many interesting buildings and the way the city is built is incredible. 

At this point you are probably rolling your eyes as I was when I our family friends tried to tell me this. You're probably shaking your head and being like America... Really... But seriously it is AMAZING and so clean and green. Like trees are everywhere.

One thing though which bewilders me a bit is people hassling you on the street for money. It is so very different from home yet not as different as we like to think it is.

It is a different country in many ways which is I wonder if it's a good thing or bad. Only time will tell I guess. Speaking of which I will sign off with a photo of me relaxing after a hard day at Tiffany's.

Don't be too jealous.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Don't Have Expectations, It Hurts Less

What is with people who work in menial jobs but think they are better than you?? Like today after physio I like to lie in the bath and watch a DVD so after physio I trot down to the video store with the intent of getting out some DVD's.

As I get to the counter with the DVD's in hand the guy asks for my phone number and I give it to him. He then retorts that "you are not John Rowland". I almost feel like saying "well done sherlock" however I contain myself and respond "no, he's my dad". This guy then continues to be like "your name isn't on the account so I can't let you hire the DVD's."

I must interject at this point that I go to this DVD store about once a week and as I walked in the other woman on the counter said hello to me. I told him I had my drivers license on me which identified me as Harriet Rowland and even had my address on it. He basically said no.

This should have annoyed me as much as it did but recently I have just been feeling really let down by everyone around me. I think it's because I expect people to treat me in the same way I would treat them. It really hurts when you are let down but I am finding that I am continuously feeling let down.

I have sort of withdrawn from everyone over the weekend hoping that some time away would help but it hasn't really. So here is my SERIOUSLY first world problem rant. It's stupid and it doesn't really matter but it still hurts.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A Fresh Start

My life hasn't really gone to plan. Not my plan anyway. I think that is the way that life is though. It changes and you just have to adjust one way or another you adapt, you find new way to survive. I have decided to leave as a blog about my struggle with cancer and for more medical updates rather than life ones.

I thought I should write a different blog one about new plans, new experiences and the new friends I am sure I am going to make on this crazy journey we call life. I decided to call it 'Plan B' because that is what my life has become.

Everything I do is not what I thought I would be doing with my life but that's what is exciting about life you never know what it will be like. At the moment I am in Hawkes Bay staying at my grandma Jo's house. If you ever came to visit me in hospital you are likely to have met her.

She is one of my constant supporters in this life but just as my family thought we might be allowed a good run she was struck down by a minor stroke. She is ok but a little annoyed as she can't drive. However it just goes to reiterate my point.

You can't predict the future so you really do have to live in the moment and do the utmost you can to enjoy life. I am so excited my trip is slowly coming together. To dream of something for so long and then for it to actually be happening is a bit crazy as I have spent so much time dreaming about it even more than salt and vinegar chips and that's saying something.

So now is just the beginning of my life on plan B.