Returning to the Real World

I’ve now been home for about a week and a half.  In that time, I’ve reflected a lot on my experiences the past 8 months.  Overall I had an excellent first contract.  I was challenged in many ways, but also liberated.  I saw many new places and met some wonderful people.  Returning to “the real word”, normal life, has proven to be a bit of a challenge.  Right now, I don’t want to be in the real world.  I want to continue the adventures.  I want to seize the day, take chances, make mistakes, and live my life.  But more on that later…

Voyager of the Seas

Voyager of the Seas

First, I want to share a few of the highlights from my contract on the Voyager of the Seas.

Best Tours

Dancing on the Great Wall

Dancing on the Great Wall

Riding elephants in the rain

Riding elephants in the rain

I cuddled a koala!

I cuddled a koala!

Best Beaches

Bondi, famous for a reason!

Bondi, famous for a reason!

Relaxing, sunny spot!

Relaxing, sunny spot

Small and beautiful

Small and beautiful

Best Nightlife

Everybody in da club!

Everybody in da club!

Overnight = endless fun

Overnight = endless fun

Most Beautiful Countries

Milford Sound. No filter needed.

Milford Sound. No filter needed.

A little bit of everything. A lot of beauty!

A little bit of everything. A lot of beauty!

Favorite Overall Ports

Full of possibilities

Full of possibilities

Nagasaki Bridge

Nagasaki Bridge

Obviously, I had a pretty incredible time.

While working on the ship, many things were taken care of for me.  I felt more relaxed than usual, and loosening the reigns a bit allowed me to grow.  I was less stressed, more carefree.  I felt like a person, rather than a walking calendar.  I was less focused on budgeting, and more focused on experiencing.  It was wonderful.

San Francisco, my home sweet home

San Francisco, my home sweet home

When I returned to San Francisco, I felt like I never left.  While it was comforting to return to such a familiar environment, I expected to feel different.  I’ve changed, so why hasn’t the city?  Shouldn’t I be seeing things differently?  The longer I spend there, the more I feel myself slipping into my old skin.  I’m acting like the person my friends remember, rather than the person I’ve become.  The main challenge of this vacation will be learning how to blend the two versions of me.  I must learn to face reality without losing my sense of freedom.

Leaving the ship

Leaving the ship

Over the next few months, I’ll be traveling around the country to visit family and friends.  I was very isolated on the ship, so now there are a lot of people I want to reconnect with!  During this time, I will not be posting.  The blog will be up and running again at the end of April when I return to Florida to start rehearsing for my second contract.  Then, I’ll be embarking on a European tour on the Adventure of the Seas.

All smiles :-)

All smiles 🙂

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned!

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The Aptly Named Great Wall of China

A couple days ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Great Wall of China.  Needless to say, I was eager to see it.  The prospect of visiting this World Wonder weighed in to my decision to accept this contract.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

I was part of a large crew tour, so it took awhile to get everyone off the ship and onto buses.  We had approximately a two and a half hour drive from the port in Tianjin to the Great Wall.  I slept for most of the drive, and played Spider Solitaire and took in the sights for the rest.  Driving through China was fascinating.  The landscape quickly alternated between developed towns and wide-open spaces.  Some of the areas we drove through, including our port city, actually used to be water.

Carting to the top

Carting to the top

By the time we reached our destination, we only had about an hour and a half before we needed to head back to the ship.  I was one of many crewmembers that opted to take a golf cart to the top of the wall rather than hike up from the bottom.  The hike takes around two hours, so there was no way to make it all the way up.  I’d love to go back some day and climb!

View from a turret

View from a turret

Even though I rode up the mountain, I worked up a sweat walking up and down the stairs that cover much of the wall.  I wanted to see as many sections as possible, so I moved quickly!  It was interesting to see the range of the age and type of stones used throughout.

Gorgeous views!

Gorgeous views!

The views were absolutely incredible.  The wall weaves like a giant snake, and from any point you can see beautiful mountains and trees.  I was actually surprised by how narrow the wall is.  It is about the width of a single lane road.  The length, however, is astounding.

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Before riding back down to the bus, I wandered through a little market.  I attempted to bargain with an old woman for a pack of postcards, but ended up paying her asking price.  Some friends of mine were more successful negotiators.  Apparently I need to work on my bargaining skills.

Dancing, as usual

Dancing, as usual

I slept through much of the bus ride back, then had a busy evening on the ship.  I learned how to work the spotlights for the ice shows, participated in a passenger drill, and performed a short number in a Welcome Aboard show.  It was an exciting, exhausting day!

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

If you ever want to read an amusing, non-fiction book about China, pick up a copy of Lost in Planet China by J. Maarten Troost.  It’s about a spontaneous tour of this giant country.  The author is moderately crazy, occasionally clueless, but very entertaining.

Next post, Taiwan!