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Archive for July, 2010

Bonjour, actuellement, ce n’est vrai pas… we have just left Paris as I mentioned at the end of NYC final blog and are god knows where (we’re guessing Limoges). we’re on our way to Bordeaux after a fun day touring through Loire Valley stopping off at Amboise and then the Chenoceau Chateau, which was beautiful but overcrowded. However, as I have loads of pics of the fun times in Paris, this is going to be a pic heavy, word light kinda blog. Although here are a couple of comments about Paris;

1. Amazing, the history of this place is astounding and we love wandering up any given street and discovering something beautiful or incredible with historical significance.

2. The pastries are magnificent… we even found a hybrid of the almond and chocolate croissant, combining these two greats to make a symphony in the mouth. I couldn’t even bring myself to share mine with Sean (he had his own, mind!). We have snacked on some form of crispy, buttery deliciousness every day.

3. After American coffee being pretty average, we were hoping for something special in Paris. Unfortunately, it went downhill which would have been hard to believe after our last Starbucks. French coffee is bitter and they put a drop of milk in despite “cafe au lait” seriously suggesting the inclusion of our dairy friend. We’re even considering popping into one of the Starbucks, which proves dire situation.

4. Parisians are yet to receive the memo that smoking kills. French women don’t get fat because their poor little lungs are dying, not because they’re any stronger in the will department than us Aussies! We eat chocolate, they smoke. Who are the winners in the long run?

Ok that’s enough ranting, on with the pics!

Our first night in Paris, Sean finds the french put ice cream in their profiteroles instead of custard... he a happy man

Our dining companion Marco, great company and he even provided...

Marco brought me roses! So sweet... check out Prawn, passed out even though I was wide awake with jet lag.

Sean out front of the Louvre

And me right out front of the fabulous pyramid entrance to the Louvre

The beautiful sunset on our second night overlooking bridge leading to Place de la Concorde

This cute little girl statue reminded us of our niece Lulu who we hope is having fun skiing with the family!

 Woohoo, the big guy and the Eiffel Tower!

At the second level of the Eiffel Tower, we did the stairs option so didn't get to see the top (stairs stop here, boo!)

Us doing the night tour of the Louvre, at the ancient Egypt exhibition which was tres cool

Then things started getting cheeky... yes we are 10-years-old.

Monkey in the Louvre... or a man with a BO problem? Either way, what did you expect, that we'd just LOOK at the art?

Ok that was officially the point where things got ridiculous, I straightened my headband and we became adults again

Coz it was time to see some serious art... the Mona Lisa! WOw... it really is an incredible painting albeit a little small.

Fourth day we wake up at 1pm and make a run for the Notre Dame! Darn jet lag...

Sean out front of the Pompidou Centre

 

Seano meet Alberto... the best ice cream in Paris, the best we've had on our whole trip!

 

So good he used a photo to distract me to go in for the kill... popcorn and salted caramel right there, dreamy.

And then there was the Tour de France! We got to hang out with Sarah Egan all day long and lunched with Annie, Thommo, JP, Mel and Timbo while watching Lance, Andy and Alberto screaming up and down the Champs Elysee. Such a cool day!

Starting with a cafe trip (Sarah et moi)... I'm on to chocolat chaud, can't do coffee no more :o(

A truly french lunch with the STC gang, out of context and tres amusement

Getting into the spirit with our TDF t-shirts, the crowd already building with 3 hours til the riders arrive

Sean getting creative with his viewing spot... until half hour later when 10 more peeps joined him and police kicked them all off.

Have you ever known Sean to resist a challenge? Let the creativity continue…

Sarah can't believe the lengths Sean'll go to... monkey boy himself. Hehe love Sar's expression.

And that's what we waited for... the perfectly timed snap of the Astana boys with yellow jersey as they made their first loop around the Champs Elysee.

So we sat and watched til the end and some old dude nearly fell off his step ladder cheering for Mark Cavendish (“He’s unbeatable, the best ever, gahhhhhh!” except he wasn’t in the green jersey was he… but hey, enjoy your moment, British old dude) and the Spaniards cheering “Contadorrrrr, Contadorrrr, Contadorrrr” while Sean and I said quietly “Schlecky, Schlecky we love Schlecky!” or maybe it was just me while Sean tried to prevent me from being beaten up by said Spaniards…

Anyhoo, we left the area and went on a crazy hunt for shops that turned out not to be open and ended up at one of the most beautiful places in Paris totally unintentionally… Sacre Coeur! The music from street performers was so loud, the buzz from other tourists was electric and I just loved it up there. See if you can tell…

We have had a great day, full of fun times with wonderful friends and crazy adventures that left us with sore feet and happy hearts.

And just in case you don’t believe how much fun we had in Paris, I leave you with my final and fave pic of the time we spent there…

Eiffel Tower in the background, hip hop street entertainers filling our ears and we were having a giggle... good times indeed.

So for now, we leave you as we road trip to Biarritz via Bordeaux! And I really need to stop going to bed at 1am… yikes.

Big love, hope Perth is pushing up with some sunshine (or wherever you may be, hope you got sunshine :o).

Lisa and Sean xoxo

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It had to come to an end, if we wanted to squeeze in Europe. I know, cry me a river right? But I was seriously sad to leave the States after such a ball. So without further ado, here are some of the fun times in our last stop, back in NYC! It will be fairly quick coz I want to get up Paris tonight too… we write from a small town on the way to Bordeaux and Biarritz! We think it’s Limoges, but we ain’t sure, we just stopped at the cheapest hotel we could get wifi. Priorities, check.

We got back to NYC, checked into our new hotel (much nicer and our own bathroom yewww!) and headed to Soho coz I was getting my hairs done, whoop! Throughout the four hours I was there, new record for me, Sean also snuck out and got his hairs done too so we both felt totally fancy with our NYC hair. This is us the next day feeling pretty, oh so pretty, we felt pretty and witty toniiiiiight!

Sean - shorter, Me - fringe, copper highlights and layers (hair less of a mop, more of a styled broom)

Did any of y’all get the broadway reference back there? Oh yes, us and our fancy hairs were off to see West Side Story!!

Someone was uber excited, someone could hardly keep his eyes open...

Hahaha his face, cheeky bugger would not smile for West Side Story. His choice too! I wanted Promises, Promises so I could dream that one day I will be just like Kristin Chenoweth but we had to make a compromise somewhere. We queued up in the cheap TKTS line for hour and a half, it was worth it to get half price and great seats too!

The nest day was Sean’s birthday so we went back to Soho and had a ball wandering around the fantastic shops, eating yummy food (how I will miss the humble bagel with cream cheese when we leave) and sightseeing.

Prawn not sho we at this place for his birthday treat or his wife's...

Looks like he was on to something! Where are we? PB & Co!!! We found it randomly, I swear I didn’t plan it, we stumbled across it on a walk from the post office back to shops!

Fancy seeing yoooou guys here! Peanut butter dreams... I sent some home :o)

After this it was total boy heaven, we went to see the new action movie Inception with Leonardo di Caprio. It was v good, I recommend despite the slight state of confusion you might be in the entire movie. Sean believes he understood the whole thing, no ifs or buts… although we did have a hearty discussion about a few loose ends over dinner. And yes I did make sure he had cake! Course I did.

Think it was rhubarb, but it had ice cream with it more to the point

But that was the sugar he was really hoping for, I think I got a bigger grin than the cake!

Our final day in NYC was very chilled. One final bagel (sob! Croissants aren’t as good… ok I sound totally spoilt now, sorry to anyone reading over a soggy bowl of weetbix), a wander up Fifth Avenue, a Magnolia Bakery latte (couldn’t do another cupcake but the coffee there is goood), a stroll through Central Park to check out some baseballers doing their thang and Time Warner Centre for a Wholefoods salad bar lunch, Godiva for dessert and Sean being told off for this photo…

Heh heh, Sean puffing up his cheeks likening his weight gain to this funky mama

Not sure whether alluding to this ladies largeness or the fact Sean’s hand was on her booty, but some old ladies wandered past and told him he was naughty and did the whole “tsk tsk” hehehe. We laughed all the way to Godiva for more plumping.

And finally, here we are in Central Park. Goodbye America, thanks so much for having us, y’all!!!

Sean ready for Paris, me never wanting to leave NYC

Ok hang tight, I’m aiming for a double tonight! There may or may not be a Paris blog in a couple hours… no promises! Sean has to check his emails and it takes him a hundred years if he has to reply to anyone. Aye.

Thanks for the messages, miss home a lot now in Paris. Obviously there’s the language barrier (although people have generally been sooo nice helping us as we try our limited French), but the lack of vegetables featuring anywhere on the dinner menu, terrible coffee and jet lag have left us in a bit of a heap! But we shall recover!

A bientot! Bises, Lisa and Sean xoxox

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While we have sadly left the States, but happily it was for Paris, it’s about time we updated you on the fun we had in Boston and Philadelphia (I know, witty title right? I’m trying to think in French most of the time so cut me some slack). 

We spent a fairly hideous 5 hours on a bus from New York to Boston (a young Bostonite lady and an old one carried on all trip talking about their sister’s broken hip and an unruly boyfriend to their childhoods and rude New Yorkers… at the top of their voices – even the busdriver asked them to keep it down to which the young lady said “how else are we supposed to entertain ourselves on a 5 hour bus trip?” how bout a book, ipod, magazine anything that involves you shutting the hell up!!! I backed up the busdriver with my most evil “mmm-hmmmm” look, yes I did). Anyway, we made it and Boston was frickn gorgeous! 

Me just hangin' in Back Bay, on our gorgeous tree-lined street near our hostel

 

We only had one day in Boston and two nights, so during our day we got as much done as possible. We decided to find the Freedom Trail (2.5 mile walk) which leads you to the most important parts of Boston’s history which includes plenty of  important moments for democracy and a history rich in Irish refugees (being Sean O’Neill, you might guess he has some Irish heritage somewhere along the line!). Here are a couple of snaps of cool things we saw along the way. 

Seano at a fountain in the Boston Common, the starting point of the trail

 

The State House, with its gorgeous gold dome, is apparently known as one of USA's finest pieces of architecture

 

Big bad Ben - statue of Benjamin Franklin out front of America's oldest public school Boston Latin School, which Mr Franklin graduated from.

 

 After a good wander and not quite making it to the end due to our growling stomachs, we went off to Flour Bakery which is renowned for its excellent sandwiches. It was a long walk but we had such a nice lunch there and recommend it to anyone visiting Boston (there are two). We then caught a bus to a beautiful university (although in honesty, I think UWA is more beautiful, I haven’t seen a uni yet to compare with UWA campus) and one of the big names of USA’s colleges, Harvard. With a JP Licks in hand (oh yes, Boston has a brilliant ice cream store chain which must be visited multiple times, even if you are there only one day and two nights), we wandered around the campus soaking up the green. 

John Harvard, the college's first benefactor and namesake

 

One of the buildings in Harvard, who wouldn't want to study hard in buildings like these?

 

So a short but sweet time was had in Boston and then we caught a flight to see our gorgeous friends, James and Mary Kelley who now live in Philadelphia! It was so fun to catch up with them, stay in a house, get some girl/boy time and just chill out. 

The day we arrived, Mary and I headed out the door almost immediately while the boys were on kid duty (Branson 2 and Lucy 4 months). We headed into the cute town of Ardmore and found some farmers’ markets, grabbed a yummy coffee and hit the shops. While not much was bought, plenty was gossiped about and it felt soooo good to have girl time with my lovely friend Mary (when you movin’ back to Aus again?!). Sean got some fab boy time too, hitting up James’ Wii and got beat at everything bar boxing I believe!! Sean also was totally fixated by the gorgeous Lucy, getting in a cuddle at every opportunity. It was kind of adorable. Here he is having a cuddle with Lucy and the gorgeous Branson hanging out (doesn’t Branson look like a cherub? He is gorgeous and so well-behaved, we kinda fell in love with him too!). 

Sean getting clucky? The Kelley kids certainly warmed him to the idea of babies one day soonish...

 

And we got a home cooked meal! James baked salmon and cooked corn in their husks with salad and to-die-for bread from the farmers’ markets, it was amazing. And tarts from the very same farmers’ markets for dessert were made short work of… check it. 

That's how we roll... haha fun times in the Kelley household.

 

Our second day at chez Kelley was slightly more eventful. We got up early to take Mary’s spin class (Mary was the hardcore instructor, she made our booties burn alright). Sean and I sweated a bucket, as you do in spin, and blew the cobwebs out. Afterwards I ate lunch and straight away took a nap, i am not used to intense exercise right now! Particularly as it was nearly 40 degrees in Philly. Here is Sean working hard – can you see where he has put on the 6kgs? I can’t!! 

Prawn working the magic on his bike, wishing it was his McMurdo back home

Back home, James was booking us in to tour Philadelphie on a segway. And boy was this guy excited! He decided to tour with us, because he’d been itching to try the segways again after ripping one out of a child’s hands for a joy ride while at a museum with his family… or something like that. 

We started at the Philadelphia Museum which houses the famous steps from Rocky 3 (Steven, if you’re reading I hope I got the number right haha). Did we run up them in 40 degree heat after a spin class in the morning and right before attempting segways? Hell yes!! 

The race is on as Jim and Prawn storm up the stairs... who will take the Rocky title?

Oh lookey here, the blue rompered lady stole the title from under their noses! That's a victory dance right there.

And then there was the Rocky statue… 

Sean, Rocky, Lisa. The dream team. Maybe.

And then we jumped on our segways and the madness began. While I tentatively got to know my segway, James and Sean pushed theirs to the limit. Once they worked out how fast they could go, Sean decided to go through a big dirt patch and break in it. The thing stopped dead and threw Sean off who just managed to stay standing but it was pretty graceless and this might have happened afterwards… 

uhoh... we knew it was coming...

Not really, this is Sean taking a rest at the Philly airport while we waited for James to pick us up. This is how it really turned out! 

And they're off oncemore

Here’s that Rocky stairs champion looking seksi with army helmet on segway… 

Hey there hot stuff. Can I get a bom chika wow wow?

All was going swimmingly with the boys racing and me playing nice and slowly, until we set off. You have to keep your knees bent and my feet kind of ached straight from the get go. We went past a couple of amazing monuments including a very golden Joan of Arc… 

Recently polished, Joan and her horse looking their best!

Unfortunately it was soon after Joan that a wave of nausea came over me. I was sure I hadn’t eaten anything dodgy and couldn’t imagine what it was. At the next stop i realised i was about to faint and got off the segway, with a quick “I feel sick” to Sean. Ever helpful, Sean says “that’s no good” and carries on doing wheelies on the segway. 

While listening to the guide’s next spiel (which i caught absolutely none of), I started swaying like a slow-mo hula dancer which Sean thought was pretty sexy apparently (his re-enactments look like slow-mo gyrating which is pretty embarrassing) until I collapsed on the ground and ate dirt… in a short romper. I came to pretty quickly and the tour guide wasn’t as impressed with the slow mo gyrating as Sean was, calling for water. It was pretty much game over for me and I walked back, telling the boys to go on without me. They did although apparently they felt guilty for the rest of the way. I found myself an Orangina (preparing for Paris0 to top up sugar and hydration levels and lay down in the car. How embarrasshment. 

I recovered enough to re-enact the scene for Mary and the kids when we got home and we had a good laugh. Mary then got the kids and took Sean and I out for coffee and cookies while James had to take a nap (turns out i wasn’t the only one a little depleted from the heat and excitement of segway!). That night we went Downtown which was really fun and had the most delicious pizza at Stella, which I highly recommend (get the pistachio pizza, it’s a winner). Here we are getting ready to partay. 

The Kelleys and the O'Neills dressed up and ready to hit Philly town

And then there was Stellllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa pizza. 

Looking good James! Note the pistachio pizza nearly gone down below. So good!

We had such a fantastic time with these guys and felt sad leaving them knowing it could be a while we’d see them again. Fingers crossed they’ll make a trip down under soon! 

So there’s Beantown and Cream Cheese for y’all to see, next stop is a quick revisit to New York including El Prawno’s 27th birthday. Miss you all, give us a shout, you know you want some cyber love. We do! 

Lisa and Sean xoxo

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That never sleeeeeeeeeps… New York, New York!!! 

Ok, so Sean had found his adult playground, it was time for me to revisit mine. After an amazing time with one of my best friends Rachel in 2004, I was going back with a new best friend – my husband! And in one of the finest strokes of luck, one of my best friends since I was 6-years-old, Vive and her fun boyfriend Harvey would be there at the same time… and then while we planned mad times, we find out another special friend, Chris, would be there for work (I want her job!). 

So, I was excited in a ridiculous kind of way. Almost a stupor, bordering on loopy, which meant a Chessire cat smile was plastered on the moment we heaved our suitcases off the subway and onto Fifth Avenue. Unfortunately, the heat was waiting for us and with our jeans on, we pretty much melted. New York is HAWT in July!! 

We dumped our bags as we were way too early to check in and hauled our jeans-clad legs off to explore. First stop was the wrong way up 5th Avenue, but there’s something cool on every corner. We got to see the Flat Iron building! 

Nearby our hotel, the flat iron building with Sean out front

 

Then we wandered the right way up 5th Avenue and popped into FAO Schwartz which was fun, especially as it had air-conditioning. I didn’t get a chance to find the giant piano from the excellent movie Big (young Tom Hanks), but Sean let me go back when we had more time so i could prance about while he laughed and took pics. He did not prance on the piano. He too cool. 

Prancing about making noise rather than music, but it was very fun

 

We went to Central Park for 5 seconds before nearly melting into a puddle, so we vowed to go back (this will happen in round two after Boston and Philadelphia!) and headed off to Times Square. 

Sean amid the razzle dazzle of Times Square

 

After lots of wandering and window shopping (plus a little purchase in the Lindt store – they had creme brulee! My heart!), we checked into the hotel and tried to find Vivo and Harvey but alas they were already on their way to Bon Jovi. So we had a cold shower and had a totally relaxing night at a local movie theatre and saw some light-hearted rubbish (Grown Ups, get it on dvd if you fancy a cheap laugh) which was fun. 

The next day my eyes flew open as i realised i could see me Vive this morning! I raced up to level 9 with Sean hot on my heels (writer’s prerogative, that’s how i remember it, Sean following me) and tapped on the door. There she was! In all her nightie-gloriousness, my dear friend! Harvey was still unconcious after Bon Jovi (plus it was his bday so he requested a sleep in) so we had a fun chat and  made plans before heading our separate ways. 

Today was a fabulous day! After a quick breakfast we got to do Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre which was awesome. I highly recommend it. After doing Empire State building last time and waiting in line 2 hours and nearly passing out on Rach, we glided up to the top in about 60 seconds without a queue to be seen. Brilliant! And the view was perhaps better as you see much more of Central Park and you see the Empire State. 

Us at the Top of the Rock with Empire State in the background

 

After spotting all we could, it was time to leave one New York icon and find another. Hello cupcake… Magnolia Bakery cupcake. One of the only good coffees in New York too! There’s a new store at the bottom of Rockefeller and we both got sweet treats and were maxed out on a sugary high. Deeelicious! 

So what to do after a sugar rush strikes? Shop of course! We headed up to the Time Warner building at Colombus Circle and had a wander. I then discovered a Whole Foods (my favourite store in US if you recall) and we got salad buffet to negate effects of cupcake. Natch. 

Then it was time to PARTY!!!! We had Harvey’s birthday celebrations after the two of them went to Wicked. We met them at their new hotel (Vive’s prez for Harvey, lucky bugger!) the Standard which was absolutely tremendous (trying to expand vocabulary from “awesome”, work with me). Just look at these party people and their glorious view drinking gin and tonics with cucumber. And that was just the beginning! 

Party people!! Vive and Harvey's luxe hotel room was perfect backdrop to G&Ts and catch ups

 

While Harvey and Vive got dolled up for the big night, Chris, Sean and I headed up to the rooftop bar at the Standard which Chris managed to wangle us in to. It was stupendous, the views extended out to the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey, the cocktails were so yummy and model-types wandered around us. What a way to catch up and experience New York, I loved it. 

Chris and Sean at Standard's rooftop bar looking like celebs themselves eh?

 

We then headed to The Counter, which was an organic vegetarian restaurant aka Sean’s kryptonite. After I pointed out several things on the menu, Sean quipped “sounds delicious… with CHICKEN” and then “BEEF”, “PORK” and so on… he settled for mushroom pizza. It also happened to be a restaurants for those with minimal appetites and Sean’s eyes almost bugged out of his head when his pizza arrived. 

“I didn’t order the ‘mini’ pizza,” he said mournfully. And I couldn’t even share mine with him, I’d chosen spaghetti squash and according to Sean, squash is his one food nemesis. He got a bowl of fries and all was well. 

All smiles after dinner and a few cocktails at the Counter

 

We then hit the streets and decided to see Times Square at night which was very cool and by about 1am, we called it a  night. So much fun, so many laughs! 

Ladies playing in Times Square and looking gorgeous

 

The next day we did brunch at Pastis which was a very chic, must-do brunch spot. We met up with Chris again and her roommate Ben who is a German actor slash model. He was totally entertaining and told us lots of cool stories about meeting celebrities and generlly making us laugh. We also met two lovely Emilys, both from Sydney who were friends of Chris and ended up spending the whole day with this big, random, fun bunch of people. Eventually Vivo and Harvey emerged from their luxurious abode but it took a bit of coaxing! 

After brunch we found our spot at the bottom of the Standard (stalkers much?!) in the German pub there and got ready to cheer for Spain. The whole group bar Ben was barracking for Spain and so we had a happy day as y’all know. But dang, soccer is a boring sport and i nearly jumped into the screen and kicked those Spaniards in the shins for all those shots they missed. Chris and I were in desperate need of visiting the local Magnolia and every minute that ticked by when the game hadn’t been won was a minute keeping us from butter frosting magic. 

Ole ole ole ole!! Espagna!!

 

Eventually, the winning goal was booted and spared us from a shoot out and any longer we were apart from our fluffy, sweet destiny! All the girls and Sean got stuck in and I found a pink-iced chocolate one that had my name on it. Chris got some great pics found on her facebook if you can check them out. I got kind of a lame one but here it is anyway! 

Now you see it, now you don't... gone in 5 seconds flat

 

Then, because we hadn’t had anything since brunch (Sean insisted we’d missed lunch, but i assured him we hadn’t, because brunch included lunch to which he responded “ok, so we missed breakfast then” at which point I gave up), we headed to the Corner Bistro which Ben promised had the best burger in New York and possibly the world. Having Jus Burgers to set standards, us Perth peeps were going to be hard to convince. And while this burger was tasty and the surrounds very cool (an old speak easy), not a patch on Jus Burgers. But it was yet again, more fun times with a great bunch of people. 

Mmmmmraoowwwwww and then the burgers were gone too

 

One more drink at another bar atop the Standard with Vive and Harvey before they headed to Brooklyn and we headed home. We were exhausted after a long day on our feet!! 

The next day, Vive and Harvey headed to Miami and Chris was at work so it was just the Prawn and I oncemore. We had booked a tour, New York Tv and Movie sites and it was fun being taken around to lots of hot spots. However, it was not even comparable to the fun i had with Rach on Sex and the City tour. Not even close, way too much Spiderman, Seinfeld and gangster movies I’m afraid. And the tour guide was nice, but terrible. I’m guessing he won’t read this but i still felt mean writing that, I’m sorry tour guide but your jokes weren’t funny, you didn’t seem to be having fun really and as an actor, we shouldn’t have been able to tell if you weren’t anyway, right? 

But we did get an awesome slice of pizza at the place from Men in Black 11 (does anyone even remember the pizza in that movie?) which was face-rockingly good. 

Sean gets a bit of Ben's into him and leaves me one cheesy crumb

And then we got a free black and white cookie that Jerry eats on Seinfeld and now I understand why Jerry said after he ate it “it’s like a race war in my stomach”. Horrible. I did get a kick out of all the Friends locations though! 

Rachel, are you up there, you wanna hang out? Chandler, Joey? How you doin'?

Then I told Sean to man up and took him to Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret (hello it’s bras and undies, how bad can it be for a man?) and Bloomingdales and sadly came out empty handed. His reward was a trip down to the Financial District where we found the bull and the eeriness of the World Trade Centre site. 

We also did the Staten Island Ferry which is a New York must-do. Saw the grand dame up close, the Statue of Liberty and saw the city from a different perspective. It was great fun and it was cooler out there which was a great relief after a lot of heat in the city. 

Me and the lady...

The next morning I convinced Sean I had more shopping on the agenda so he watched the tour on our laptop in Starbucks while I found Free People… such a cool store, I loved it and finally spent some dosh in Anthropologie. 

And there lies the end of our New York Part One tour as we jumped on a bus and headed to Beantown – Boston!! Boston and Philadelphia, we have two days in each and we get to hang out with our friends James and Mary in Philly wahooo! I am envisaging a run up the stairs from Rocky too… stay tuned, next blog will be soon. 

Lisa and Sean xoxo

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It was adios Intrepid friends and Bonjour Vancouver as we returned for round 2. This time we stayed in Downtown Vancouver at a local Hostel so we could walk everywhere and it proved a good move. Before Lisa could re-touch her make-up we were out the door and exploring Stanley Park, an amazing inner city sanctuary.

Lisa in the beautiful Stanley Park

Day 2 was spent wandering the streets and checking out the Granville Island markets. Lisa was in cookie, cake and chocolate heaven while i bide my time for more action up at Whistler. Vancouver was a pretty city and all but after a week of haggling with Lisa i had managed to delay our flight and score an extra day in adventure heaven.

I had to drag Lisa away kicking and screaming but not until after i tried one.

Finally we boarded our bus albeit an hour late and made it to Whistler by mid afternoon. Lisa booked us straight into the zip-trekking and somehow managed to get harassed into another timeshare seminar. This one was worth $125 in meal and activity vouchers which came in very handy but we were worried it would cut into our precious time so we came up with some good evasion tactics. “We are poor, don’t even have our own house and couldn’t possibly think of a timeshare holiday apartment” would be our standard line. If it was anything like Vegas this wouldn’t work but fortunately for us it worked a treat and we were kicked out of that place before we even had a chance to eat a biscuit. $125 richer we were ready for action and the next day would be skiing for me and facial followed by Yoga for Lisa.

Tarzan with no hands.

The views from some of the tree-tops where sensational.

Lisa stoked after conquering the "Big Daddy". 800m of pure adrenalin and the longest zip-line in North America!

Where else in the world can you go skiing in the middle of summer? After a 45min chair lift to the summit and 4 bear sightings later i was in snow and enough of it to keep me entertained all day. I can only imagine what this place is like when the whole mountain is covered and you can ski down to your hotel at the end of the day. We tried out some local Japanese for dinner that night and the famous Cows ice-cream for dessert, as far as ice-cream goes this stuff is top-notch. I had to fuel myself well as the next day was downhill mountain biking all day!

Plenty of snow and jumps galore as i watched in awe!

Checking out the wildlife on the way back down the mountain capped off a perfect day!

I promised Lisa i would go ride with her on some of the cross-country tracks to warm up before the lifts opened but that didn’t last for long and i was off! The downhill trails are graded green, blue and black just like ski runs and i intended to warm up slowly on green before hitting the blue and black later in the day. This was fine in principle but halfway down the mountain on my first run i lost course somehow and found myself on a black run. It was too late to do anything so i just let the bike go and somehow i made it to the bottom alive despite some heart in the throat moments. Whistler is considered the best mountain bike park in the world and with good reason. It takes 2 lifts to get to the top and 30 minutes to get back down if you don’t stop but guaranteed you will be suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome at the bottom. The bikes are built like motorbikes without engines and they give you every type of body armour imaginable before leaving the hire shop. I was surprised they didn’t come with life insurance policies as i saw 3 people carted off in ambulances the day i was out there.

All kitted up and ready to rock and roll.

I managed to descend 38 out of a possible 50 tracks on the mountain and despite the lifts being open till 8pm i had to call it a day at 7:30pm as my hands were so blistered i couldn’t hang on to the handlebars anymore. I am dreaming of being back there now but i have heard France has something similar in the Alps so i will look forward to round 2 there.

The Dark Knight trail. A blue run that was a lot of fun.

Rock n roll! The final jump in front of the crowds, I got some air.

After leaving Lisa on her lonesome all day i promised to go riding with her the following day before we left. We hired some cross-country bikes and headed out to the trails for a little adventure. Lisa was working up her courage all morning attempting little bridges and the occasional log over before it all went pear-shaped. A log a little too big got in her way and bucked her straight over the handlebars in slow motion while the bike came tumbling down on top. It was a spectacular crash and one that would attract a lot of cheers and laughter if i was out with the boys but i contained myself and consoled Lisa as the tears started flowing. It did look rather painful but we are still waiting for the bruise to come up a week later.

That was pretty much the end of mountain biking so we headed to Lost Lake and went for a swim and a relax before our bus journey back to Vancouver and our flight to New York. It was certainly sad to leave this place but we will return in Winter to experience it in a different light. Apologies for lowering the standard of blogging on this site but i promise to let Lisa do the next one on everything that is New York.

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Hello friends/ Bonjour mes amies!

We are getting used to having a French translation here in Canada and it’s perfect to refresh my memory of all those high school French classes and teach Sean “Goldfish” O’Neill a few words, over and over again. I think he remembers “bonjour” now but who knows, he make think he’s saying “thank you”. 

Anyhoo, enough Sean teasing (I’m truly an O’Neill now, that family has no teasing boundaries!) and back to our tour. By this point in the tour, we were getting used to Joey’s country music fetish, Sarah talking even in her sleep (to the point she got laryngitis but kept going even with a husky voice hehe love your work Sarah!) and many pees in outhouse toilets (my nose may never recover). Where were we location wise? On our way to Banff! 

Our trip from Jasper to Banff was one I loaded up on coffee for. Everyone told us it was the most incredible drive with mindblowing views and I didn’t want to miss a minute. Joey blasted the air-con (nothing like a hot van to welcome the sandman, right?) and we had lots of photo stops. Here is Sean at the first waterfall, Athabasca Falls. 

He is smiling because he's imagining our whitewafter rafting on rapids like this... sicko

 

And here’s me getting a breath of fresh air amid the exquisite scenery… 

Must. Stay. Awake.

 

Our next stop was Colombia Icefield which I had completely underdressed for. Shorts and a cardigan doesn’t cut it while walking over ice apparently. So i decided to forfeit going on the glacier tour and let Sean go in the promise he would take lots of pics and describe it in details. I did walk over with a lovely lady from the tour, Nadine, who had done it before and we took some snaps on her camera (as Sean had ours). There’s a good one on facebook if you have a yearning to see me rather than Sean at the glacier (don’t feel bad, everyone else is migrating to facebook too right now, you’re only human). 

Sean on the glacier, missing me so bad (he's only human too)

 

After the tour, Sean managed to spot an avalanche with Joey and snapped a pic. He claimed this was way cooler than the tour (man loves danger, a recurring theme in this blog and my life unfortunately). 

Apparently it sounded like massive lightning as the snow crashed down to earth!

 

Another lake (oops should have written down its name) on the way to Banff, the colour of the water was so gorgeous. 

Check out that aquamarine... and look at Sean cuddling me so tight - i told you he missed me!

 

That night we checked into Banff which was a very pretty town. Sean ran up a mountain (duh, what else would he do?!) while I went exploring the town and before we parted ways we checked out the beautiful Fairmont hotel. Wow. 

Despite the hotel at Lake Louise having far more recognition, we both loved this hotel more which was modelled off a Scottish castle

 

It was a very quick turnaround and the next morning we were off to see Lake Moraine and Lake Louise which were both gorgeous. Sean kept looking at his watch though because that afternoon we had whitewater rafting! 

The intrepid team (minus Joey) at lake Moraine... same pic (minus us) is on the Canadian $20 note. With us, surely it'd be the 100.

 

And just us... $1000 note for sure if there was one.

 

Lake Louise and Lisa... so little time there, but very beautiful place

 

The coffee there was delicious and most of the bus bought cookies the size of their heads… 

Which looks more delicious? I can't decide...

 

And finally, we reached Golden where whitewater rafting awaited us. I felt pretty confident after totally dominating Jackson Hole’s Snake River but then the instructor started listing all the things that could go wrong. She was a LOT more explicit than our friend in Jackson about getting caught under rocks, swallowed by the river and many gruesome ways of dying if we didn’t paddle hard. My stomach was literally churning as we got into our wetsuits. Our Intrepid team was all together which I was grateful for as not only were they a fun bunch, but we all trusted each other. We did get a Japanese girl on our boat who had NO idea and I was scared for my safety as she sat in front of me. “Paddle FORWARD” i yelled at her as we went over a ridiculously massive rapid that could kill us. She mimicked my words “Paddle forward”, she sang, all the while paddling backwards through thin air. I nearly pushed her overboard, but instead dug deeper and paddled my heart out… forwards. 

After surviving the rapids, which turned out to be way scarier than Jackson, i was on a high (funny how the biggest highs come from surviving life threatening situations) and when we had an opportunity to jump in the 2 degree water – i did it! last time it was only Sean, this time i jumped in and Sean was deeee-lighted. His face lit up as he saw me bobbing next to him with a big grin. I don’t know who was prouder – me or him?! 

The crew in our sexy jumpers. Wasn't Sean's lovely? Mine had shark bites through it - hardcore.

 

And then, our tour guide Joey arranged something I will eternally be grateful for. It was June 30 and it was time for Eclipse to arrive in the cinemas! Joey arranged for us to go to the teeny tiny Golden cinemas and I was first in line. Unbelievably, Sean accompanied me as I told him this was the Twilight with the most action scenes. And he enjoyed it! Not as much as me, I loved it! We had dinner before at an American diner which was really cool. Hehe sorry, another food pic… all part of the experience! 

Sean, pumped for his all-American burger on its way

 

 

Me, pumped for Edward Cullen (above). 

The next day was our final on our tour and it was awesome. We started off at a wolf enclosure just outside of Golden which was sooo interesting. Wolves are such incredible creatures and I found our talk so fascinating, I wanted to get in there and pet them but apparently they don’t care for petting from anyone but their owners, who have their complete trust. I did get to pet the Bear dog though, sturdy little guy whose breed instinctively goes nuts at bears and scares them away. He lapped up a belly rub though! 

Then it was on to Kelowna where we celebrated Canada Day! They get right into it, just like us Aussies. We had dinner at the fair (tried the poutine fries and seriously don’t get what the fuss is about, yeuch!), had drinks at an Irish pub (there weren’t any Canadian ones!) and watched the fireworks. Very fun evening! 

Getting into the spirit, with maple leaf tattoos on our cheeks

 

And getting merry at the pub… the two drinks I had knocked me for six! Lots of funny jokes and Sean’s impression of “what would happen if you wrestled a bear’ was priceless. And why he said it and then did the impression, we’ll never know. Only the rum will. 

What a great night to finish the tour on... fun times!

And then we headed back to Vancouver and bade our new friends goodbye. What an amazing trip we had and we’d highly recommend Intrepid to anyone, but you must put in a special request for Joey. He’s the ultimate tour guide!! 

Adios, next post is of Vancouver and Whistler but for now, we’ve got to catch a plane to New York City where my darling Vive awaits! Wooohooooo!!! 

Lisa and Sean xoxo

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After 10 days of touring Canada with a fun bunch of people, limited internet and many, many good times we’re back with more blogging love for all!

After our fun in Seattle, we were ready for another country and so excited to see Canada after rave reviews from family and friends. Our first day we drove to Vancouver and had the afternoon and evening there (so not long enough!). Our fun tour guide Joey hooked us up with some bikes (and immediately we liked him!) to ride around Stanley Park and take in some beautiful Vancouver views.

Sean gets ready to rumble... you can bet your booty he did a few wheelies to impress his new friends!

Totem poles in Stanley Park, which may not be Stanley Park for much longer...

The girl in the wetsuit and the girl who wouldn't fit into her wetsuit... doh! Keep pedalling Lady O'Neill!

No pics of our first night, but it was spent in a brewery and there was cocktails so of course it was a good start!

Next day we were off to Whistler! Sean and I were both looking forward to this after my aunt, uncle and cousin raved non-stop and have been there the past two (could be up to three) Januarys to ski and have their next one already locked in for 2011. On the way out there we avoided Capilano Suspension Bridge and on the advice of a fellow tour member headed to Lynn Canyon instead for a smaller but equally gorgeous and far less crowded suspension bridge.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge with Sean trying to shake it up and the rest of the tour hang on!

We then hit Whistler and didn’t get nearly enough pics because we started running amok as soon as we arrived! We’ll make up for it when we go there for a second time this week. After a quick lunch with the Intrepid team, Sean and I headed to the bike hire with a couple of others and headed straight to the trails. It was sooo much fun, terrific trails there and I wish some of my mtb buddies from home (Marky and Megs!) were there too as we would have whooped it up even more. Sean did wait for me and as a way of thanking him, i did a few hours biking then headed back, leaving him to it for another couple of hours while I explored the village.

I wish he had have held on to the camera though, because apparently he spotted a bear cub! And after 5 minutes of looking for its mum or dad to no avail, he claims to have petted baby yogi. WoW!!! So cool, he achieved may-jah kudos within the Intrepid camp and our tour leader Joey, who once suspected, was now convinced of Sean’s mental instability. Apparently it’s unusual to approach and pet bears, even of the baby variety, because they have claws, teeth and throw the odd temper tantrum when you pose a threat to them or their young. Ahh Prawn, how are you still alive again? Against all odds, dear husband.

Anyhoo, after a nice Greek meal we called it quits due to an early start the next day. We headed out to Wells Gray Provincial Park where we were staying in a cowboy ranch! Can i get a “yeehaw”? No? Even if you see this???

Me ready to roll on Star who was very well-behaved apart from a few appetite issues (numerous grass munching stops)

Sean looking ultra-masculine on his steed, Moon... it wasn't to last...

After a lot of “weeeeeee” and “wooohoooo” (I guess it’s just more me then “yeeha”), we were treated to dinner at the ranch. The best of all was the gorgeous lady with the dessert trays…

Who's that lovely lady?

Would you like a closer look? Allow me!

There she is Seana "Busty" O'Neill looking so very glamorous after having her hair set this morning.

Out of about 40 guests, Sean and another older bloke were chosen to deliver the chocolate cake and did I laugh? I hooted!!! I literally made honking noises and cried tears of hysteria, it was so darn funny. Sean got revenge on all of us by walloping everyone at darts. The man wins everything seriously. Even the contest to dress in a curly blonde wig and lingerie-style aprons, i guess he wanted it really badly.

Here’s the whole Intrepid crew enjoying the fruits of Sean’s labour – recently defrosted chocolate cake! We were lucky to have such a lovely mix of folk, we so enjoyed their company!

Sean, Stephen, Ron, Laura and Marc (left) then Nadine, Kylie, Joey and Sarah - we shared lots of laughs and fun times!

The next day we bid adieu to the horses and cowboys and headed off to Jasper, stopping off for a few hikes. Joey asked if anyone was keen for a swim in the slightly-above-freezing waters of Lake Kinney in Mt Robson. “Ho, ho, ho” said el Prawno. “That sounds right up my alley!” He had begun stripping before Joey had finished making his swimming quip.

Sean enters the freezing water much to the crowd's delight...

Soon after, Joey loves a challenge and stripped down to his jocks (he wished he had picked new ones and not the baggy red ones all the ladies saw right Joey?) and proved he was also “a man”!! Until comments of “champignons” and “toothpicks” started flowing and out they hopped and back went on the clothing, quick as you like. It was heroic of them both and yet again, I was crying from laughter. We have a good video of Joey going in and although he dropped the F bomb at the top of his lungs, the only sound throughout the whole clip is of my hysteria “AHAHAHA oh my gosh AHAHAHAHAHA”. I was seriously lucky not to pee my pants in front of my new friends, it was a truly funny event.

That night we arrived in Jasper, had a pretty awful Italian meal (sorry Miss Italia ristorante, stick to the beauty pagents eh?) and called it an early night. The next day was really brilliant in Jasper, we had so much fun! And we got to spend two nights in the same place, so no early morning craziness (I was 90% of the time last to the bus – a girl’s early morning beauty routine takes time right?) and we headed off for hike one. We were given the option of a flat or hilly hike, so guess which one the O’Neills opted for? Yup, huff puff puff up we went Bald Hill trail with Ron, Marc and Laura. It was steeeeeeeep and 4km up so I was bright red in the face and sweating by the time we reached the top. Hence, I took the picture of the rest of the crew that made it!

Marc, Laura, Sean and Ron after our epic uphill hike

After the first hike, we headed back into town and ate some glorious sandwiches (check out The Other Bear Claw if you’re ever in Jasper, delicious lunch and treats!) before making our way out to the Whistler Mountain gondola! Joey, Stephen, Ron, Marc and I wanted to go up (Catriona Rowntree did it on Getaway!) and I was so glad we did. It was amazing up there.

The gondola making its way up (as i took a pic going down - boo!)

And up top we hiked onwards and upwards to make it to the top of the mountain…

The crew hiking up (Sean raced on ahead for this photo, anyone surprised?). I am the orange-hooded thing in the middle, it was c-c-cold up the mountain!!

And then we thought it would be fun to do “jumping on the top of the mountain” pictures which really only proved that Sean owns most of the athleticism in this partnership…

I like to think our photographer Ron snapped the pic as I was coming down and Sean going up but... probably not. At least I got the whole of me in the pic!

After the mountain-climbing fun, we went out for a much better dinner at Downtown Bar/Restaurant. Seeing as this post is significantly lacking in food pics, here is Joey’s burger which is a chicken, upon beef, upon bacon cheeseburger and he it all. Yeah boy!

Meat-lover's dream...

Joey scores extra points for his burger domination as our next stop was the Miette Hot Springs where we all had to strip down to our bathers! Pretty much a series of pools, two hot and two really cold. They were naturally heated by hot springs. It was really cool hanging out in the pools at 9pm watching the sun go down over the mountains. Such a beautiful finish to a fun-packed day!

Soaking up the hot springs on a chilly night in the mountains, such a cool experience

And with that, it’s time to remember it’s our last night in Vancouver and my husband has gone missing in the depths our you youth hostel so it’s time for me to find him. Last I saw of him he was on a toilet break from watching “James – James Bond” apparently. Hmmm surely that was the easiest line in the movie to quote? I may not be able to jump the highest or throw myself into freezing waters, but thank god I trump Sean at movie quotes.

Night y’all, part two to come in the next couple of days from Whistler! And the countdown is on til New York City!!

Lisa and Sean – Sean O’Neill xoxo

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