After rolling into my hotel as a hot a sweaty tourist with 2 large suitcases and a raging headache, I showered and took off on foot to start discovering all that New Orleans had to offer at 5pm on a Sunday. Too see my adventures getting here take a look at Adventure is now… and for a bit of background on me check out Solo Female Traveller on the Move
I arrived at Chicago union station at just after 6pm on the 4th of June 2016. I checked into the first class waiting lounge as I had booked a sleeper for the trip. I rearranged my hand luggage for the train and then checked my suitcase. In the lounge they had complimentary drinks and snacks. There was also free Wi-Fi!!!. my headphone batteries had died on the CTA ride over and so I purchased some new batteries and a few snacks, a bottle of sparkling water and a Cosmo magazine for the trip. At 7:30pm we boarded the train, I am staying in Roomette 004 which is smaller than the pictures lead me to believe, but is perfect for 1 person.
After I dropped my stuff off I headed over to the dining car for dinner, which is included in the price of my ticket. Dinner was a cold sandwich. I had the turkey and Swiss on whole grain “ciabatta”, it came with potato chips and a pickle??? America is strange y’all. I also had a root beer, which is caffeine free because I am dying for sleep at this point. I diner with a few other people, each table seats 4, I met a really nice couple and a guy who was travelling on his own. All heading to New Orleans for vacation.
After dinner I met my room steward, a lovely girl called Keisha and she turned my room into a bed for me. By this time it’s 10pm and it is finally getting dark. I looked out at the scenery for a while before it got too dark, set my alarm for 8am and I finally got a good night’s sleep. I woke up several times throughout the night partly from jet lag and partly from the trains whistle.
I woke up in the morning around 6am, I dozed on and off until the first announcement came in at 7am, after which I grabbed some coffee and headed off to breakfast. This morning I had a cinnamon roll with yogurt and fruit cup and several cups of coffee. I was joined by a really nice guy and his son, who had just spent 2 days in Memphis doing as much as humanly possible and then a bit more before heading home to Baton Rouge.
After breakfast I headed back to cabin with another cup of coffee to watch the world go past and to edit my blog until lunch time. I’m finding my cabin Is quiet chilly and the air con dial doesn’t seem to have any impact on the temperature so I asked Keisha to leave my room made up as a bed till lunch time in case I need another nap and so I can have the blanket.
It seems to be mostly farm land which the odd small town along the way, these towns are small capsules lost in time. Picturesque farm house or ghost town main roads with abandoned shops and houses going to ruin and slowly begin reclaimed by nature.
This was pretty standard for the rest of the trip. I got off and walked around at the Jackson stop, singing Johnny cash in my head the whole time. After we got back under way I headed in to the observatory car and chatted with my new friends Emma and Glen. Lunch was probably the best meal of the lot lasagne.
All the meals are pretty much airline food, pre prepared and pre-packaged items, mostly cold sandwiches and what not. Definitely not what I was expecting when the website said “chef prepared”. There was also no Wi-Fi on the train either.
After lunch we had an hour and a half till we arrived in New Orleans, I waved good bye to derrick and his son at Hammond and then packed up all my things to get ready for our arrival.
After arriving in New Orleans, I had to wait for the luggage to be unloaded. I had checked my big suitcase and I’m glad I did. The room on the train was not as spacious as I had anticipated. Certainly perfectly sized for 1 person but very cramped for 2. If going on a longer journey, I recommend getting a full on family room.
With my luggage in tow I headed on down to my hotel in Lee Circle. After checking in jumped straight into the shower before heading out to explore my new city.
This post is updated after each step and then uploaded once I reach any Wi-Fi signal.
My journey to the other side of the world began very early on Saturday morning. My very first flight departed at 6:20am. This meant I had to be at the airport by 4am, which in turn meant leaving the house just before 3am.
At around 1am I received a call from Qantas staff advising that my connecting flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles has been delayed an hour. The trip hadn’t even started yet and already plans were changing. This delay shouldn’t have too much of an impact as I have a 3-hour window in LAX before my connecting flight to Chicago.
Flight One – Auckland to Brisbane
Made great time to the airport. Had the traditional al maccas breakfast and tank juice before wading through security and dosing my gate. My flight was delayed three time before we actually took off. Supposed to depart at 6:20, it was pushed to 6:40 and then to 7am before we finally departed.
I think I got about an hour of sleep before breakfast was served. Fairly average scrambled eggs and baked beans with sausage and hash brown. I did quite enjoy the lemon muffin though. I then decided to watch how to be single which had me alternating between laughing out loud and crying quietly – definitely do not recommend to watch in front of other people.
Flight Two – Brisbane to Los Angeles
Arrives into Brisbane at around 9am. First purport was get somethings. To munch on. I decided to get a boost Caribbean green juice smoothie and some BBQ pork buns for lunch. I then visit the transfer desk and got my seat changed from a middle seat to an aisle seat. I had originally hoped to get a row to myself but there were no free seats on the flight.
After sorting food, I headed down to the departure gate. After we were advised of 2 more delays I asked about my connecting flight but they didn’t have any information. But they did need to put my visa information in the system. The flight itself was pretty uneventful I watched several movies: sisters, joy, and wild. They were all quit good. I cried in almost of them. I got a couple of hours sleep before breakfast.
Flight Three – Lax to Ord
Landing in Los Angeles was minor lily stressful because I was waiting for information on my connecting flight and we landed at just before 8am with my next flight departing at 9:05am. I was advised at the gate that I had been rebooked and I would find out more at baggage claim.
Side note: passport control at Lax is really smooth. If you’d been into the USA in the same visa and passport before they let you check min at these machines which prints you out a receipt which you take to CBP officer and they wave you through.
After I picked up my luggage I got my new flight details. I had been rebooked on to an American airlines flight departing LAX at 2:15pm and arriving in Chicago at 9pm. So this wasn’t going to work because my Train was departing at 8pm an hour away from the airport.
So I lugged my luggage up to the recheck desk where a lovely lady got me rebooked onto a virgin America flight departing at 10:30am and arriving at 4:0 pm. New ticket in hand I checked in my luggage and went in search of terminal 3 to check in for my next flight.
The lines in the terminal were ridiculous. I wanted to change into fresh clothes and get some Starbucks for my flight but there was a line 20 people long for each activity. So I choose bathroom and instead of getting completely changed I changed my shirt and reorganised my bag in the waiting area.
I arrived into Chicago airport, I was on the lookout for a cell phone store to pick up a sim card but I couldn’t find one unfortunately. But I was feeling pretty time conscious because I still had quite a way to go to get to Union station and catch the train to New Orleans. At this point I’m running on around 5 hours of sleep over the last 2.5 days.
Get all my luggage and I start following the sign to the CTA trains to the city signs. I bought a ticket to the train and it was $5, I only had $10 notes and the machines don’t give change, so I tried to use my Qantas cash card but it wanted a zip code for the transaction and I had no idea what that was and it wouldn’t accept so in the end I used my MasterCard visa to pay for the ticket. All the trains from the station are the blue line heading to forest park. The stop I wanted was Clinton and was I think 15 stops away from the airport (approximately). Once I arrived at the station I heaved my luggage up the stairs and wandered along the street till I found Union Station. It was after 6pm by this time and I still hadn’t found a cell phone store.
Oh My God! I’m so excited guys! This Saturday is the day. The day my latest adventure begins.
As always on a trip I like to have a basic plan and then wing it once my feet hit the ground. This is of course because plans change at the drop of a hat and as I am a solo female traveller. What I actually end up doing can be drastically different than the plan I envisioned while sitting at home. Continue reading
So I began my trip at 2am on Mondays the 27th of October. We had to ER up early so I could finish packing and coffee before leaving the house at 3:45am to get to the airport by 5am.
Said my goodbyes to my grandfather and my cat and then we were on our way. We got to the airport super early cos surprise! There is no traffic at 4 am. So we decided to have a McDonald’s breakfast a wee waited for check in to open.
Once it opened I went to check my bag and get my boarding passed for my 3 flights of the day. It took a while because she was really interested in what I do and why I was going. I also had a question about luggage that wasn’t easily answered. My question was on my itinerary it said baggage limit: 4 pieces. And that was it no actual information on weight or size also there no helpful information on the help pages. Tash had to ring 2 different places to find out and the answer that came back was it is 4 pieces of 23kgs each!!!! Holy crap that’s a lot of luggage. I checked one bag that weighed a grand total of 16kgs.
After checking we headed up stairs to get coffee and spend my last 2 hours in the gateway lounge. It was really tough leaving my dad but I found it a whole lot easier than last time when my best friends and family were there. Besides I knew I’d be back in April so it’s not like in going forever.
I bought a magazine, a bottle of water and for some money changed in to Australian dollars and some into American, I used the notes in my wallet making the most of my immediate resources. I boarded the plane to Sydney and it was tiny I felt like I had no space in my seat, I was also seated next to a giant man who took up all the room without trying. The flight took 3 hours or so. I think we landed a little late. I then had to go through transfer security where they made me throw out my water. I then spent the next 4 hours wandering through the airport, I found an Asian noodle place for lunch which was delicious and I felt much better after that. But the free Wi-Fi refused to work on my phone which sucked
The plane was late leaving Sydney. It was a 14 hour flight to Dallas, Texas. It was actually a really nice flight I enjoyed the food and the staff were friendly, it was just way to long. Speaking haha of food there was a tonne of it haha with dinner which was a honey chicken salad and fruit bowl I had a Bloody Mary and then a vodka ginger beer. In the middle of the night we got ice cream and sliders. And then scrambled eggs and beans for breakfast. They also had a serve yourself snack station as well.
We arrived late into Dallas, where I had to go through customs, passport control and bag pick up and re check. Then back through security and then find out I was in the wrong terminal all while my flight was boarding. After running through the airport for half an hour I finally get to the desk to discover my flight has already left and I had been rebooked on to a 7pm flight. So I spent 4 hours in Dallas, sitting in TGI Fridays drinking cocktails till I felt better about life.
This last flight was killer. I was so over flying g and being cramped in tiny planes. Luckily this flight was only three hours but it seemed to drag on forever. Once I got to Orlando I picked up my bag and wound my way to the Disney ground transportation and caught a Disney magical express to pop century.
Once I arrived at Pop I discovered once again the frustration of knowing how to do that persons job better than them but not being able to. So I went up to my room and met my roommate. Larissa 50 years Old Russian from Australia. She will be in merchandise on board the Dream.
And so ended my long Monday I left New Zealand at 8 am on the 27th and arrived 35 hours later I arrived in Orlando Florida 10pm on the 27th of October.
So I finally got my flight details and my sign on paper work!
I now know for sure when I am arriving in Orlando!!!!
However before we all celebrate and throw our sassy hats in the air, I have some details about my flights you may all be interested in.
The Dream Flights:
2am – wake up, breakfast, finish packing, freak-out. ETC.
4am – Leave for the airport, cue dad complaining about it being “the middle of the night” and “do you really have to leave?”
5:15am – check in for my first of many flights in one 24 hours period
8:15am – depart Auckland City for Sydney
Spend 3 hours on a plane
9:45am – Arrive in Sydney
Spend 4.5 hours at Sydney airport
2:25pm – depart Sydney for Dallas, Texas.
Spend 18 hours on a plane
1:45pm arrive in Dallas, Texas
(At this point I would like to note that it will still be the 27th of October)
3:25pm – depart Dallas for my final destination of the day ORLANDO, FLORIDA!
7:00pm – arrive in Orlando, be sick of planes. B excited for friends and Disney!!
7:30pm – catch a bus to Walt Disney World pop century resort!!!
8:30pm – meet roommate! Hope like hell my friends love me and are coming to visit, also txt mum and dad let them know I’m alive!!!
As far as I am aware I should have this day off (Food and wine any one???)
Contract signing and schedule review
Disney Cruise Line traditions and training
4:30am – roll outta bed and check hotel room for items that belong to self
5:00am – get on the bus for the Dream.
(Side note if you miss this bus you have to get yourself to the port at your own cost)
11am – begin living the Dream!!!
So now there are only 9 DAYS TO GO. I have to get my A in G quick fast.
To Do List:
- Buy black flats (Sunday!!!!!)
- Buy white socks
- Get my hair cut and coloured ……….. Professionally (Tuesday!!!)
- Pack my bags
- Get my “original medical papers” back from the doctors
- Have a margarita filled leaving dinner!!!!!!! (Friday!!!)
I’ll put up a packing list for you guys soonish….. Once I’ve finished deciding what I’m actually taking!
So with everything I choose to do in my life I love to play the waiting game. This is not true. I am the most impatient person I know. However I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world and be paid for it. I want to live for the experiences and enjoy life to the fullest.
So I have constantly found ways to reach these goals and fulfil my wanderlust and lack of money.
So if you guys have been following me for a little while you’ll know that since I finished my Disney International College Program I have been trying to get on to the Disney Cruise Line. Last time we talked I was mid-way through my application process.
I have filled in the application, which was pretty straight forward … Upload resume….. Now type out resume in the following screens. I found having a reference from within Disney was really beneficial here, even an old manager.
I had a phone interview which lasted around an hour – hour and a half. In which my recruiter a lovely lady by the name of Jan talked to me about my job, my resume, my time at Disney, why I felt I was right for the team, working on a cruise ship and of course my next steps. Have a look at my post “applying for the DCL” for more hints on the interview and this process.
After the interview I had to get a medical check-up which consisted of lots of blood work and immunisation history as well as an eye test and a hearing test. To start with I did have some trouble with this as I was not provided the information for the medical tests until I had already had the meeting with my doctor. This was a very expensive part of the application. This cost me $25o for the first appointment and blood work. After I was provided the correct paperwork I had to get more blood tests done which was an extra $70. I then had to try and track down immunisation records and ended up having another blood test to see if I was immune to chicken pox. Turns out I am, I believe I was immunised as a child but there were no records of it. I also had to go for a hearing test which was slated to cost another $80. Luckily enough it was free in the end.
I also had more information to fill in online, passports, flight availability, marital status etc.
During all this run around I had also booked my visa appointment at the only consulate in New Zealand which is in Auckland. I did however go on the wrong day the first time and felt like a complete dick. So I went back on the right day. Dressed up all professionally I took;
- Both my passports,
- My receipts of the interview
- Confirmation of the DS-160
- Letter of employment
- American Passport photo (5cmx5cm)
Once I waited in line and it was finally my turn I handed all the paper work and my New Zealand passport over and went to sit until they called me for my interview. When they called me up to the second window, they asked
- What I was applying for? A c1/d visa
- Why I was applying for this? Because I had a job with Disney on the cruise line
- What had I done before? Worked as a concierge for Walt Disney world.
The interviewer then told me that I should know what I was doing and advised me that my visa had been accepted and that I would receive my passport by courier within the next week. I was over the moon!!! I did receive my passport 2 days later and I found that my visa was valid for 5 years!!!!
So I uploaded a copy of the visa to the documents website, I am now just waiting on the last of my medical records to be finalised.
So I spent the better part of a week going stir crazy waiting for that call to say they wanted me right now!! I even sent a message to one of the Disney reps to see what my hire status was, and she replied that they would do their best to get me a job by December. DECEMBER!!! Omg I was momentarily devastated. I didn’t want to wait that long. I was going crazy with nothing to do at home, I have had no luck in finding a part time job since I’ve been back.
Finally on September 30th I received an email with the news id been waiting for!
I of course accepted straight away.
I then received a second email.
And now I’m just waiting on confirmation of flights.
23 days to go!