Thursday, December 9, 2010

P.S. You've Got Mail

Hello everyone,

I had to add a P.S. to my blog. It's been far too long a journey to go without one!

I've been getting a fair bit of mail lately, most of which has been from travel agencies and airline companies... coincidence? I think not! Reckon I should make holidaying my job and find some lucky soul to fund me... going to happen??? I can dream!

This mail has been coming in many forms - from Australia Post, on my email and via my mobile...

Here's a little example of what I've received over the last few days... very tempting... you may want to take one or more of these up...

  • Intrepid travel is offering 10% off tours in North America and 20% off any last minute trip ALL AROUND THE WORLD
  • STA travel is offering an 8 day Egypt tour for $599, a 7 day Morocco tour for $649 or a 15 day Everest Adventure for $1299 as well as flights to Cairo for $1550
  • Air Asia had a sale last week with tickets to PARIS for $188
  • Qantas has a domestic sale and deals start at $119, flying all around Australia as well as accommodation deals from $97 for 7 nights in a hotel in Melbourne
  • Jetstar has a Friday Fare Frenzy sale with fares from $9, yes, you did read that correctly, $9 ONLY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Jetstar also has flights from Melbourne to Adelaide for $39, Sydney to the Gold Coast for $39, Melbourne to Launceston for $39 and Melbourne to Auckland for $139 or Perth to Bali for $169
  • Virgin Blue has flights from Melbourne to Sydney for $59
  • Pacific Blue has flights from Sydney to Auckland for $169, from Melbourne to Christchurch for $179 and from Melbourne to Denpasar for $359
  • P&O Cruises have all inclusive cruise packages starting at $2500 for 14 nights with many options available
  • Flight Centre has a MASSIVE sale with accommodation packages in Hobart for 4 nights for $195, the Gold Coast for 5 nights for $196, flights to Hong Kong for $663, to Bangkok for $499, Round the World tickets for $2234, to Manila for $595, to Los Angeles for $945, to London for $1304, to Vancouver for $1583, to Rome for $1491, to Johannesburg for $1336 , to Hawaii for $949, to Phuket for $493 and to Auckland for $294. They also have some INSANELY cheap flight and accommodation packages as well as a Eurail Saver Pass for 5 days of travel in 2 months for $415
So... what are you doing for Christmas?? Going on holiday?? It's enticing isn't it... :) Maybe I should look into being a travel agent... now THAT would suit me well :)

By the way, guess who made the 2011 Topdeck Anzac brochure?? Me! (well... the back of me did :) ) and 4 of my mates made it onto the front cover! Pretty pleased with that!

On that happy note, I'll head off, for the very last time. Have a wonderful Christmas season as we celebrate our Saviour's birth. May it be filled with much fun, laughter, happiness, sunshine and those you love! God's blessings to you and yours, always.

Thanks for travelling with me,
Love Sarah xox

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's All in the State of the Mind!

I thought I'd post this very inspirational poem that Dr Chris Barnard had on his desk. Quite pertinent really! Enjoy :)

It's All in the State of the Mind

If you think you are beaten you are;
If you think you dare not you don't;
If you think you'd like to win but can't;
It's almost a "cinch" you won't;
If you think you'll lose you've lost,
For in the world you'll find
Success begins with a fellow's will:
It's all in the state of the mind.

For many a race is lost
Ere even a race is run.
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work's begun.
Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you fall behind,
Think you can and you will:
It's all in the state of the mind.

If you think you're outclassed you are,
You've got to think hard to rise;
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battle doesn't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the fellow who think he can!

p.s a few more posts to come! this blog isn't finished yet... stay tuned :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The End of an Era

It's time to hang these up for a while...

And so ends my blog. It's the end of the trip of a lifetime. It's the end of all of those years of dreaming. It's the end of all of those months of planning and reading travel books and brochures. It's the end of all of those months of wondering what it will be like. It's the end of putting on my hiking boots pretty much every day. It's the end of living out of my backpack... for the moment!!
It's the end in a lot of ways but it is most definitely NOT the end of travelling for me. As I have said, there will be plenty more where that came from :) I will go again. Who knows when and who knows where? Maybe NZ or Canada or Egypt or back to some of my favourite places in Europe. Or back to South Africa. Or to those countries I missed that are now on my list - or rather, have been moved UP the list!

It's an incredible world out there. God is so great! His works are wonderful! I am and have been constantly reminded of His Power and Might and am so thankful to have been given this amazing experience. It's a great blessing. I will treasure it always.

I'd like to finish with the lyrics to the song, 'How Great Thou Art', it expresses God's greatness beautifully.

Enjoy - I'm sure you'll sing along in your head :)

Verse 1
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hand has made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou!

Verse 2
When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
I hear the birds, sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;


Verse 3
When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, "My God, how great Thou art!"


That's it from me! So I will say good bye, see ya later, hosca kalin (Turkish), tot ziens (Dutch), tot siens (Afrikaans), dovidenja (Croatian), na shledanou (Czech), au revoir (French), auf wierdesehen (German/Belgian), ciao/arriverdeci (Italian), ma as-salaama (Moroccan), adios (Spanish), slan go fóill (Irish Gaelic), beannachd leat (Scottish Gaelic), hwyl fawr (Welsh), uf widerluge (Swiss German), pfueatte/abe d'ehre (Austrian German) eddi/bis dann (Luxembourgish), so long, farewell, see you, catcha later, cheerio, bye, God be with ye!

Love Sarah xxx

Back in the Home State

Hey everyone,

After a GREAT week in Canberra it was time to hit reality and head home...
In keeping with my true style of 'cram in as much as possible, especially on the last day', I got up decently on time to visit the War Memorial before meeting Lauren and Johnny for brunch. Lauren dropped me off at 8:50am, so I'd have at least 1.5 hours to explore. All I found was a closed War Memorial and a sign saying 'Open at 10:00am'. That'll teach me not to check opening times before leaving home!

After touring the gardens and spotting a few cool things (like a pine tree that was grown from seeds from the Lone Pine battle site), I raced around and saw as much as I possibly could in my short time there - it was fantastic to visit after having been to Gallipoli; I noticed things I would never have noticed before, so it was well worth it.

On the way to the airport I received a call from Phil saying that he had been working in Melbourne and was travelling to Launceston on the same flight as me. Pretty cool! I'd checked in already so we planned to meet in the airport to see if our seat allocations could be changed.

In keeping with the non-arrival style of my dear sister, Phil told me that he wouldn't be able to meet me when I landed coz he was going to head out for lunch with some of his workmates - in the airport!! So I rolled up in Melbourne, with no family to greet me and a few hours to kill! In that time I changed our seat allocations and was given the front seats in the plane, which are normally reserved for people who pay an extra fee because the seats are slightly bigger. Nice bonus!!

On the way to Launceston Phil and I chatted away and looked out of the window as Tassie approached. It was cool to fly over the Tamar River and recognise familiar landmarks. There was no mistaking that I was heading home!

I was pretty excited to land as I knew I'd be the first person off the plane! Stoked with that! I though that it would be an excellent way to surprise mum and dad as that would be the last thing they would be expecting :)

As I raced off the place I met Rebecca Snare, who works for Virgin Blue, at the bottom of the plane's stairs. She used to live at the bottom of West Park Drive and I'd bumped into her in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the end of June. It was a crazy coincidence that you'd never imagine happening, so I thought it was pretty cool that she was there when I arrived home!

I raced into the airport, full of enthusiasm, ready to be greeted by my dear mum and dad... only to find that this time the Launceston Airport was distinctly empty of any relative of mine... HILARIOUS! Who'd think that it would happen with Lauren, Phil and Mum & Dad... crazy, crazy stuff. I went to wait by the luggage carousel - no luggage so I headed for the bathroom. After doing my thing I came out to find Mum and Dad standing near the doorway, so that made up for the lack of appearance those few moments earlier :) The plane was a few minutes early, but really, that's no excuse when your daughter has been away for 6 months, is it?!?!

In a lot of ways I was rather pleased that Lauren, Phil and Mum & Dad weren't there - it makes for an excellent story! To top it off, Stu stayed home - he didn't think it was worth the effort to come to the airport because, "You're home ten minutes later anyway!"

If I didn't know better I'd think they didn't miss me! Maybe I should go away again...

Walking through the front door of the house was a funny feeling - everything was so normal, it scared me... things should feel different after being away for so long!! I even had that when I went to church, which was funny because I hadn't been in a Free Reformed Church of Australia for months! As they say, not a lot changes :)

First things first - open that bottle of wine I'd made in South Africa! I had a great evening just chatting and enjoying getting my chance to sit in front of the heater at mum and dads :) Did miss that a bit while I was away! Oh, and Mum's fantastic cooking!

Unfortunately there are no photos - my pics of my first night home disappeared along with the others....

Have a great day!

Love Sarah xxx

Time in the 'berra

First a few photos to tempt you before I start my yapping!

Hey everyone,
My time in Canberra gave me a chance to get used to being in Australia again, to catch up on a little bit of sleep, to catch up with my sister 'good and proper' and to see some wonderful sights. I really love Canberra. There is so much to do! I went ballooning - thanks to some of Lauren's awesome connections, ate the best pizza ever (yes, even better than real Italian pizza), checked out Floriade, did a little bit of shopping for a new jumper - let's be honest, we're all sick of my blue one... (I must have forgotten about my luggage limit in the process of the shopping trip as my dear sister had to bring a number of kilograms of MY gear when she came to Tassie a month later...), went on a trip to the Bateman's Bay to attempt some whale watching, went on a wine tour where Lauren wants me to tell you that I drank almost all of her wine as well as my own when we sat outside to enjoy a glass - I was only tasting hers to decide which one was better so I could buy the best one... it did take me a few tastes to eventually decide... at which point a large percentage of her wine had disappeared... I must add that I did offer her my glass to compensate!!

I also visited a few of the typical Canberran tourist stops, including the National Gallery. I went there after having visited quite a number of world class galleries overseas, hoping that the Australian National Gallery wouldn't be a disappointment... and it most definitely wasn't! I was super impressed! It's definitely way up there, in my opinion, and definitely competitive with the National Galleries of Europe. I enjoyed my visit so much! Be sure to take some time to go there next time you are in Canberra :)

I had the BEST time with my favouritest sister in the whole world. Below are some photos of our adventures... so very unfortunately you won't see everything... somehow, when I copied them onto my computer, most of them disappeared... and I only figured this out AFTER I had deleted them off my memory card...I was sooooooooooo disappointed. The only good thing is that it happened right at the end of my trip rather than while I was still travelling... still a shame though. I had taken some great shots at the War Memorial and also some really tops ones of Lauren and me... oh well! Canberra is much easier to get back to than most of the other places I've visited :) Now I have an excuse to go back!

Lauren, thanks heaps for having me, looking after me so well and for everything you did, I loved spending time with you at your place. Oh, and thanks for being my pack horse, you're rather good at that! hee hee. Love you, can't wait to see ya soon

Love Sarah xxx

Flying over my own country for the first time in months! Love the canola fields

Canberra airport... even smaller than Launceston! Well, almost...

My very welcoming bed :) A super comfortable one too! Lauren certainly has one of the best beds in the world - it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than mine :)

Lunchtime at the lake

Canberra from Mount Ainslie - we walked (read bushbashed) up there because Johnny found an new track that turned out to be a non-track

The balloon being prepared

Lauren being the ballast at the end (see the other balloon? It's a European Union one... wondering if it's telling me I should be somewhere else?!)

Far too early to be taking photos really...!

Look at that flame! If you were there you'd be able to hear the cool noise aswell :)

About to take off! Can't wait :) Wearing about 7 layers! Travelling didn't put THAT much weight on me :)

We drifting!!! YAY!

Beautiful lakes around Canberra and a beautiful balloon to top it off!

A pretty famous building that we flew straight over!! I always thought it looked impressive from the ground but check this out. Definitely far more impressive from above :)

See - I told you we flew straight over!

My fabulous driver

Us with our celebratory champagne - we made it through the landing! Note: I look the most average, my eyes are are little like slits in my face.... Note 2: Lauren looks far too glorious for such an early morning... come to think of it, she usually does look pretty good first thing in the morning... Note 3: I never look that fabulous in the morning, my brothers would attest to that!

Heading to Floriade - aka The Granny Festival - we won't mention that I visited there three days in a row...

A cool chick I met that was willing to travel around with me for a few days - it's amazing how you meet cool people all over the world! Here she is in front of some of the stunning flower beds

A quick shot of the two of us

Just a few of the gorgeous flowers

Reminding me a lot of Keukenhof

Beautiful colours

So neatly organised

This is made of sand - incredible hey!!

Two comedians that we watched who made us laugh ourselves silly!! They were called the List Collectors and were absolutely hilarious! Bubble, granny, flaps, monkey, festival - anymore Lauren?!?!?!?

The ferris wheel looking amazing at night, casting a delightful glow over the flowers

This is an alligator, you can tell by it's snout. That's very important to remember. You can always tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile by looking at their snouts. An alligator has a wide, u-shaped snout while a crocodile has a long, narrow, v-shaped snout. So, remember the snout!

p.s. blog not finished yet :)

Home Soil

First evidence of 'home', complete with bogan Aussie!

It's real - me and my trusty blue jumper (and trusty backpack and trusty hiking boots and trusty everything else) have hit MELBOURNE! The best part was that my luggage arrived with me!!!

After 164 days overseas, it was time for me to head back to Australian shores. I can't express how much I enjoyed my holiday. It was a true blessing from the Lord, to have the freedom of time to explore just a little bit more of His spectacular creation.
I left South Africa with mixed feelings - it was sad to see my journey coming to an end but also exciting to see my family again. Going back to Tassie meant that I would see Mum and Dad and my brothers again. But not my sister. So it's wouldn't be a complete family reunion! This had been on my mind a little during my stay in Edinburgh so I decided to spontaneously book a trip to Canberra.

That turned out to be a brilliant idea!! It meant that I would be able to extend my trip that little bit longer and 'put off' the big return to Tassie. I did want to come home but I was feeling a little hesitant about landing back in Tassie and picking up where I left off. It also would mean the end of a dream and the beginning of a big decision making process. In a way, I could start my life over! No job and no commitments means that you can do whatever you like! Scary stuff :) You don't want to blow it :)

My trip back home was much longer than it should have been. I left Cape Town to fly to Johannesburg, but rather than flying straight across the Indian Ocean to Perth I diverted to Dubai instead.... this was compliments of Emirates Airlines who always go through their 'home' (Dubai) when flying around the world. My flight ended up being 43 hours or something ridiculous like that (including transfer times). It wasn't so bad though - I sat next to some really lovely people, chatted a bit, watched more movies than I had all year combined, slept a little and got used to the fact that I was actually going to land in AUSTRALIA.

Hitting Melbourne was rather unique. I must say that Australian accents sound rather strange (read: terrible) after being away for so long. Don't get me wrong, I'd met plenty of Aussies overseas, I'd hung out with Aussies and I'd certainly kept my strong Aussie accent (much to the humour of my South African relatives!), but when you're bombarded by the Australian twang at every turn, your ears start to curl and you notice how absolutely Australian Aussies sound - there's no escaping it - or the fact that your home! Those of you who have travelled will understand exactly what I mean! Let's just say, I suddenly understood perfectly what amused the van den Berg's so much :) :) :)

Rather than taking my connecting flight from Melbourne to head south, I headed north - to Canberra. I was pretty excited to see my sister again and was rather pleased that, despite all of those travelling hours and lack of showering, I actually didn't look like death!

I bounced off the plane in Canberra, ready to run into the arms of my gorgeous sister, only to find that the airport was distinctly empty of any relative of mine.... Oh well.... just get luggage then. After 164 days, that darling girl couldn't even get to the airport on time!!

I collected my baggage, did a few laps of the Canberra airport until I finally spotted Lauren looking around and not seeing me, so I yelled, "After all of this time, you couldn't even make it to the airport to meet me!!" Cue lots of screaming, exclamations, hugs and full bore chatting! That pretty much didn't stop for most of the week :)
We had an absolute blast together - one of the best diversion trips I've ever had! Love you sis xx

Monday, November 29, 2010

Last Moments Overseas...

Hello everyone,
On my last day in South Africa Aunty Gwen and I visited the Groote Schuur Hospital where the world's first heart transplant was performed by Dr Christiaan Barnard (also the hospital where the medicine students - including Adrian and Rob - do a lot of their work!). This monumental event occured on the 3rd December 1967. Dr Barnard performed his 'maiden' operation on Louis Washansky, with a heart donated by Denise Darvall, who had been fatally injured in a car accident. Although Louis didn't live for long after the operation (18 days), the heart transplant was a success. He eventually died of pneumonia.
The hospital has a section which is set up as a museum that is dedicated to the incredible history of heart transplants and the wonderful work that Dr Barnard did in the advancement of medicine worldwide. It's such an inspirational museum! I'm so glad that I still had a chance to visit before leaving.
After the museum we caught up with Adrian and Rob who were on campus studying and doing exam work. The four of us went out for lunch before Aunty Gwen, Rob and I headed to the airport, with Adrian heading back to hit the books! It was a strange feeling, that drive to the airport. It really meant that the end was near... I had to say goodbye again to our very special family living so far away... take a long trip home and then life would go back to 'normal'...
I had such a wonderful time in South Africa! Thank you Aunty Gwen, Uncle Andre, Adrian, Rob, Simone and Danelle for making it a trip to remember! I had an absolute blast and made so many good memories. It was hard to leave - be sure to keep a 'spare' bed for me as I'm planning to be back :) Soon I hope!
Love you all,
God bless,
Sarah xxx
Time for a last note before leaving - taken quite ridiculously early actually :)
The first home I'd lived in for a very long time, complete with a newly planted garden! a lot like my 'real' home in Australia. If you look out of the top windows you can even see Table Mountain! pretty special :)
Last tourist stop

Dr Barnard in his younger years, at the height of his career

Operation details - check out the time of the anaesthetic!

The operation itself - it's unbelievably lifelike, even though it is a model

Holding/shaking Louis Washansky's hand in congratulations for making it through!

The beginning of the last leg of a very long and happy journey around the world