Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Long time, no see!

25th April 2011

It is coming up on three months since I last updated this blog. It is partly due to the fact I have been extremely busy but it is mostly because I have been lazy. Since it has been so long since I last updated this then a lot has happened, where do I start?

I got settled into work pretty quickly which was good and I wasn’t the newbie for long because another girl started two days after I did. I have become really good friends with the people I work with so it is going to be sad when two of them leave in three weeks. I decided I was going to try and bake a cake for them in their last week. The keyword being “try” as I don’t know how good my baking skills are and the oven in our apartment is a bit dodgy. I had my second round of training a few weeks ago. It was all basically a refresher of what we learnt at the start but it meant really early mornings!

I have now been to all of the parks. Animal Kingdom is my favourite even though I have only been there twice. It’s because there is so much to see and you don’t feel like you are in America anymore.

I celebrated my first Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day in the States, they both weren’t as big as I was expecting. This may have been because of the number of tourists in Florida and everyday is a holiday for them (oops sorry I should be saying vacation). Mardi Gras on the other hand was absolutely huge! There are Mardi Gras celebrations in Florida for about a month and on the actual day of it, so many people dress up. Most guests had beads and a lot were wearing at least the colours. It was an interesting month to say the least.

I went to IHOP for the first time. It stands for the International House of Pancakes but what confuses me, is it actually international? Because I have never heard of IHOP anywhere other than America. If this is the case then I think they should change the name to HOP. It would make much more sense.

Our apartment had its first inspection; we passed but the night before we were up late making sure it was completely clean. Some of the requirements for our apartments are ridiculous. We aren’t allowed anything on the walls, no clutter on any surfaces, everything must be spotless, no food packets on kitchen benches, dishwasher empty, bins empty, no smudges on mirrors, and the list goes on. All of this they expect perfect for our inspection which could happen anytime between the hours of 9am and 5pm. I think they are unrealistic of their expectations of us, especially when we live with six people in an apartment. Oh well we passed the first one and the next one is tomorrow sometime so hopefully we will pass that one too.

Mum and Dad came to visit a few weeks ago. It was great to see them because I had been feeling extremely homesick. When they were here I took them to all of the parks which I think they loved. I couldn’t be with them all day though because I had to go to work most afternoons. We also went to the Kennedy Space Centre, the best thing I have done since being in Orlando! On the way there the tour we went on took us on air boats, the type that you see in the movies in hick towns. It was exactly like this and we went out to find the alligators. We found a few but it was windy and overcast so they were hiding. I didn’t really like the boats and I wouldn’t go back on them but the space station was the most amazing thing ever. The space shuttle being launched on the 29th was on the launch pad getting ready to go so I got to see it. It was also the day that they found out the fate of the shuttles being retired and an anniversary for the shuttle program so there was a big event happening and I saw a real astronaut. Of course he wasn’t wearing a space suit but he had his blue overalls on. The whole experience blew me away!

I then met Mum and Dad in New York a few days after they left Orlando. We stayed at a place called Courtyard by Marriot in Manhattan. It was on the upper east side of Manhattan very close to Central Park. Even though we were so close we didn’t end up walking through Central Park which is disappointing but we were on the outskirts of the park. On our first day there we found an amazing Gluten Free restaurant called Peters which was just a few streets away. We ate there three times during the time we were there. I would recommend it to anyone! The rest of that first afternoon we walked around the area around us. It was so different to anywhere I have seen in New Zealand. I can’t even think of any aspects that are similar. It is really easy to find your way around because they use the grid system. It means that the streets and avenues look like a grid. Streets run one way and avenues the other. All of them are numbered. The only place we got lost one area which doesn’t use this system. I couldn’t imagine living in New York. It was exactly like what you see in the TV show “Friends.”

We had bus tickets which had different routes that took us to the attractions and showed us around the city. They were hop-on, hop-off busses which was what we used for two of the days we were there. It meant we got to see everything like Ground Zero, the Empire State Building, and Time Square. On the busses we went to the Canal Street and Little Italy, I won’t go back to Canal Street if I don’t have to. It’s in China Town and I felt like I was being harassed the whole time and the shops sold cheap imitations and I would rather spend more knowing that it was real and wasn’t going to fall apart. Little Italy was nice but it was really on a street of restaurants. The wait for the Statue of Liberty was freezing because we were right next to the river. It took 45 minutes to get to security which was worse than at the airport. After that we got on the ferry to go to the statue. We didn’t get off on that island because it was so cold, we got good photos from the ferry and the island is so small there isn’t anything to do on it. We stayed on until Ellis Island. This was basically quarantine and immigration back in the day. It had a really eerie feel to it, this could be because of how many people came on the ships and got extremely sick then couldn’t enter the country and were just left to die in the hospital. We spent quite a bit of time on the island because there was a lot to see and we also got souvenirs. I got the Ellis family crest which was cool. I only found out when I got home that I could have looked up our family history when we were there.

In New York we did a lot of shopping. 5th Avenue is the street with all the “fancy” shops and designer brands. We found an outlet store which was the first place we went and got heaps of new clothes, especially warm ones because New York was freezing. The prices were reasonable here and a lot of the other shops we went into had really good sale items. I would happily go back to that street after saving a lot of money!

On our last night in New York we went out to dinner to an Italian place that had Gluten Free pizza. I can’t remember what it was called but it was on our way home from sightseeing and it was really good. It was nice but sad because it was the last meal I would have with my parents until I come home. It was funny because Dad was planning what meals he was going to make me when I got back. Mum and Dad left really early that morning so I had to say goodbye to them, I kept thinking about the fact that time would go really fast from then on. Later on I went to the airport to catch my two flights; I had a layover in Detroit. Even though I didn’t leave the airport, I can still say I’ve been to Detroit!

I still haven’t completely gotten used to the food in America but it is getting better. One of my best friends over here decided to go home early so she left on the day I went to New York which is sad. I have to keep thinking about the good things to keep me going. I’m sure it will get better in about two months, I will turn 21, I change jobs into front desk or concierge at one of the resorts and I will move apartments which will mean I will meet new people. A lot of my friends leave soon but new people are coming all the time which makes it not so bad. Plus I will still keep in contact with everyone who leaves so it will all be ok.

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