Expat Life: 2 Weeks into Melbourne

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since we’ve arrived in Melbourne… if I’m being honest, it seriously feels like we’ve been here for a month or two already. Here’s the lowdown on the past two weeks…

Arriving in Melbourne

Remember that nice hot pot dinner we had two days before leaving town? Well, unfortunately, that cold from the dinner didn’t go away anytime soon so we started our 33 hour travel time with a cold.

For me, as I slept on the plane, my cold progressed into a small fever. I normally don’t mind flying but every little thing was irritating me since I had a cold. When we landed in China for our first layover, I failed the health screening and their machines picked up a higher body temperature and I was told to go into quarantine.  

So, let me just tell you how scary it is to be sent to quarantine in a foreign country. Dan went through the screening first and was waiting for me on the other side. When I tried to go through the screening, the gates wouldn’t open and the guard pointed to the quarantine room after giving me a mask. I walked into the office and a female doctor was there typing away. She requested to see my passport and then gave me a thermometer stick to stick into my armpit to test my temperature. After a few minutes, she requested the stick back and told me in English that my body temperature is higher than normal.

I don’t speak Mandarin so I replied back in English that I don’t have a fever (like seriously, why would I admit to that in an unknown situation?) but I told her I did have a runny nose. She didn’t understand me and started replying in Mandarin so I told her I don’t understand her. We both stared at each other until she returned back to her screen, backspace a few times and recorded a lower temperature number for me. And with that, she let me go catch my connecting flight to Chengdu.

Chengdu Airport. This city is known for its pandas, hence the art display.

We left Vancouver on October 30th, 11:55pm. We didn’t arrive in Melbourne until November 1st, 6pm (local time). By the time we left the airport, we decided to just hail a cab to our Airbnb and the last thing I remember was sending a voice message to my mum and dad saying I’ve arrived and it’s 7pm and I’m going to sleep.


The first week…

Within the first week, we had our bank and cellphone set up. Can I just say that I can’t believe I’m paying $30/month and I have 18+ gigs of data?! Like, what do you Australians need this much data for?!?!?!?! If I was back in Canada and wanted 10gbs of data or something, I’ll be forking over $300. 

We also noticed the Starbucks out here are soooooo much better than back home! Look at all these damn goodies they have in store…

During the first week, we started cracking down on some job and rental applications. I think we did two days worth of applications and decided to take a break and enter into the city to explore.


Week 2…

Job hunting with a restrictive work visa is hard and very discouraging. The Working Holiday visa only allows you to work for an employer for up to 6 months… so, you can only imagine how companies are reluctant to hire for such short terms. I took Kendel’s advice and started putting my CVs forward to agencies and contract roles only and not waste time for permanent roles.

Also, during my 1st week here, I discovered Target is big in Australia…and as a Target lover, I was extremely thrilled to see them. I needed a new eyeliner so I decided to stop by the one in CBD.

And… I came to this disgusting realization that since everything is imported,the cost is triple in price…

So, how are things going? Well… I feel a bit confident on the trains but not so much on the trams and buses yet. The CBD area is super walkable so I’ve been getting my steps in every time I head downtown. I’m starting to recognize and remember suburbs and wherein relations they are to the CBD. 

Earlier this week, to get out of the house and take a break from job applications, we decided to head over to Southbank and check out the Korea Week festival. There were delicious food stalls, dance performances and a funny comedy performance by a well-known Korean comedy group.

To end the week, it was super sunny and hot in Melbourne so we decided to relax in the park. We also went to check out the Melbourne Museum.

Anyways, I realized how ridiculously long this post is so thanks to anyone that actually read it til the end… and I’ll try to keep the posts shorter next time!

Oh, and forgot to add… 2nd week included us finding a home! We’re moving out of the Airbnb on Saturday and even our Airbnb host said we got super lucky and found something in less than two weeks. The competition here is insane…

Leaving Vancouver

Towards the end of October, things got busy. In the month of October, every weekend was filled with social events, and the days leading up to the departure date was packed as well. I was getting stressed out with packing and cleaning the entire home; paranoid that I was missing some important document or the currency exchange place didn’t have enough Australian dollars. I was getting tired and more nervous as I’m slowly packing my comfortable Canadian life away.

We had a going away party at The Pint, a local bar in Vancouver with a group of our closest friends. Prior to The Pint, we headed over to Metrotown for a League of Legends tournament… I kid you not.

But, it was a pretty neat experience to see a community of League players gather around and have some fun. It was also pretty nice to see how excited the guys were to participate in the tournament. I think they came in 3rd place…

Also, side note: I will forever hold it against the guys for inviting me to join their League team and then they all voted to withdraw their offer a few minutes later.

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Missing these girls while I’m writing this post!

After the tournament, we all went out separate ways to get ready for the going away party.

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As the night rolled on, it was such a nice heartwarming feeling to see the love and support surrounding us. It was a little bit of a shit feeling to see all of this and then reflect on some of my friends that weren’t supportive of my move overseas.

Like any other bar on the weekends, this place closes at 3am. We were at the back of the place and as the night progressed, we were being pushed closer and closer to the front of the bar until we realized they were closing for the night. All of us couldn’t believe where the time has gone – like, seriously?! It was already 3am?! It still felt like 11pm when we were all huddled outside trying to get cabs back home.

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All in all, it was a fantastic going away party and at one point, I was sitting on the Skytrain and telling Dan, “I can’t believe we’re on our way to our going away party…”.


Fast forward to Halloween weekend. Our friend, Tiffany, hosts the annual Halloween party. Since Dan and I were packing and cleaning out our house already, we downsized a lot and since we were moving, we were trying to save money so it wasn’t realistic for us to buy a Halloween costume. Luckily, Tiffany keeps all her Halloween costumes and lent us her couples costume of TJ and Spinelli from Recess.

Prior to the Halloween party, Dan and I were busy throughout the day packing, cleaning, and driving back and forth from my mom’s place to ours. My mom’s garage was housing all our furniture so we got lucky enough to not have to buy storage or sell off our goods.

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Those three blue suitcases? That’s everything we’re bringing to Australia!

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Our bedroom, empty like the first day we moved in.

It was such a bittersweet moment as we cleaned out the place. This was our first home together, and we lived in such a prime location. It was a bit more expensive now that I look back at it, and we blew a lot of our money because of the convenience of the location, so… I lowkey do look forward to moving out to a cheaper place when we return.

Dan and I wanted to relax a bit before the Halloween party so I think we called it around 4PM. We only had half the kitchen and bathroom left to clean the next day. Since we cleared out all our furniture, we crashed at our friend’s place until our departure day and they were amazing hosts to us.

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TJ and Spinelli

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The Nun is a beautiful and wonderful lady named Nicole. We first met back in our going away party so I was super excited to see her again because she’s just a gem! She’s honestly one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. And it’s such a shame that we met only when we were leaving!

I’m not a fan of Halloween but I agreed to the party as it’s one of the last social events for the group. Also, because I had to put zero effort into costumes, haha.


To top off our social events and busy weekends, our friend, Carolyn, wanted to send us off with her famous hot pot dinner. I’m serious guys – you haven’t experienced hot pot until you had Carolyn’s.

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It felt like the Thanksgiving dinner we never had this year as a group because all of those that mattered to us were in the room, sharing a very good dinner.

But, additional sidenote: THANKS TO WHOEVER WAS DIPPING THEIR CHOPSTICKS INTO THE POT AND SPREADING THE SICKNESS AROUND BECAUSE WE’RE ALL SICK FROM YOU!

 

My 25th Birthday

The Big two-five

Oh my gosh, is it even worth blogging about it if it’s well past my birthday already? Like seriously, haha. It’s already November and my birthday weekend was back on October 20th.

But, it’s my blog and I want to document this day and share it with anyone who bothers to stalk this blog. Also, it’ll be amusing to see anyone wishing me a happy birthday because at that point we both know you didn’t read this entry at all 😛

Friday, the day before my birthday, my fantastic colleagues decorated the office and took me out for lunch. We ended up going to this Vietnamese place where I ended up getting my usual vermicelli bowl with spring rolls. Oddly though, I like my vermicelli to be dry so I never pour the fish sauce that comes with it but this place dumps it in for you so by the time you reach the end of the bowl, the spring rolls are all soggy and the sauce overpowers everything.

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After lunch, we also indulged in a delicious ice-cream cake from DQ! Ice cream cakes are my absolute favourite and I love how the team caters to the person’s interest rather than a generic cake. We had a new girl start with us and she’s from Ireland and never had an ice-cream cake before!

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I was told I’m holding the knife wrong… let me be, please.


On the 20th, Dan took me to see the Titanic Exhibition. I’ve been a Titanic fan for ages so finally being able to see a museum was a dream come true, considering I’ve missed several other ones when they were in town.

The exhibition boasts that you can touch the actual iceberg that hit Titanic buuut… I’m a little bit sceptical on that claim. I did touch it for the sake of it. No photography was allowed but it was an overall great experience to see artefacts and replicas from the ship. The only downfall was the tickets were $20 each and I honestly didn’t feel the museum was worth $20, to be honest.

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After a quick breakfast break, we started our drive up to Whistler Village. I hate to admit it but as someone that was born and raised in Vancouver, I’ve never been to Whistler. Dan surprised me on a trip up to Whistler because we were moving soon and it’d be great to see it at least once.

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Always eating…

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We arrived in the village about 2 hours later. We didn’t plan anything so all we did was stroll around the village and checked out some shops. I did end up finding a cute bear shirt for Caelen which made me pretty happy! We also had some delicious ice cream from Moo.

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I felt we were lucky enough to head up on a sunny day in fall, but I’d love to come back to Whistler in the winter and plan some activities. It was so last minute, the drive up to the village was nicer than the actual village itself.

After parading around the village for some time, we eventually started heading back into the city for dinner at The Keg.

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Ordered the sirloin oscar – steak with scallops and shrimps.

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To end the night off, I had a nice relaxing massage.

All in all, my 25th was very quiet and low key, which is exactly what I wanted. Is it selfish to want to spend your birthday with your boyfriend only and not with a group of friends? I just hate having to plan a group dinner and getting all dolled up for no special occasion!

So far, 25 has been good!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Last year, we had Friendsgiving and it was a blast! Unfortunately, this year, everyone in our group was busy and ended up doing different things. Rather than letting Thanksgiving go to “waste”, Dan and I decided to have our own little Thanksgiving dinner.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night because we decided to catch Venom today at 2pm and it was such an odd time to fit a movie in the afternoon and come home to try to cook a nice meal.

I originally decided against a turkey because I thought it’s a bit too much for a dinner for two but then again, what is Thanksgiving without a turkey, right? Dan ended up picking up a small 4kg turkey for only $8 (!!!), some potatoes, and brussel sprouts.

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Last year, the group purchased a pumpkin pie from Costco and I didn’t like it at all. I was sceptical about the pumpkin pie Dan got from Safeway but after a bite or two of his, I eventually grabbed a plate for myself as well. I’m not a big fan of pumpkin but this was a goooooood pumpkin pie!

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We’re simple people so the fact that it was just the two of us, our Thanksgiving dinner was small and simple as well. It makes my heart feel so full and warm to be able to call Dan my family and not feel lonely during the holidays if it’s just the two of us. Especially with our move to Australia at the end of this month, I think it’s awesome to prep ourselves that we would be spending more time alone and relying on each other more than ever.

So, what am I grateful for this year?

  • Dan… everything from our relationship to his love and support, I’m so grateful for our relationship.
  • My friends and family.
  • My employer… they are like my second family. I’ve never dreaded going to work and I’m so thankful they took the opportunity in hiring me. I love my work.
  • My health.
  • All my travel opportunities.
  • My life in general. I know this sounds weird but I’m loving where I am right now and appreciate all that has happened to me to get me where I am now with all the opportunities presented to me and the love I feel from those in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you take a short moment out of your day just to appreciate the things around you 🙂

Until next time!

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San Francisco 2018

San Francisco 2018

Earlier this September, I got to finally cross off San Francisco from my travel bucket list. San Fran has been on my list for a while because I’ve always wanted to visit Alcatraz. I swear, it’s the only reason why I am even remotely interested in San Fran.

I planned the trip a few months ago and the month prior to September, I was agonizing over this trip. I wasn’t as excited as I thought I’d be to visit a new city, and San Fran was the first city that never gave me the travel excited as any other city normally does. I contemplated cancelling the trip so much and expressing my concerns about savings and such. Ultimately, I decided to go anyways because I realized it’s such a hassle to cancel everything and at the end of the day, my trip to San Fran wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be.

Before the trip, Dan and I went to Bandidas Taqueria for dinner. I enjoy Mexican food and tacos but I never saw the hype for Bandidas… I think they’re an overpriced hipster Mexican joint. I enjoy their chips and guac appetizer but aside from that… not a fan of anything else on their menu.

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Day 1 – Sightseeing

It started with a 3:30am wake-up call. Dan was nice enough to wake up with me in the early morning to drop me off at the airport as well. I realized how sad it was to see drive off and felt a little guilt that I made San Fran a solo trip (don’t worry, I double checked with Dan and he has zero interest in San Fran and even agreed this was a good city to do alone).

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The flight wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately, my entertainment system was broken so I ended up sleeping on the flight and woke up about half an hour before landing.

After checking into the hostel, I made my way towards Fisherman’s Wharf. I was looking at the map of San Francisco wrong and thought I’d be heading downhill… when in reality, I was supposed to head uphill! I’ve heard so many things about SF hills and didn’t think it would be that bad… but oh my god, why SF? Just… why?

It took me about 40 minutes to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and I loved every minute of it! I got to see the major streets of SF but also residential streets as well. I don’t know about you but I also love seeing quiet residential streets in new cities to really grasp the culture and the feeling of living in the city.

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Stumbled across the beautiful church!

I dedicated this day to a day of sightseeing because Dan gifted me a voucher for those doubledecker sightseeing busses… I know what you’re thinking – seriously, Claire? But yes, I desperately wanted to try one out and SF was a great city to do!

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A dream come true! Sitting on the top of a tourist bus.

The tour bus starts in Fisherman’s Wharf and circles around the SF area. It’s a hop on/off tour but I sat for the majority of it because the major points I wanted to catch were on the other side of the city. It was still awesome to see the major tourist attractions without having to walk or hop off!

If you ever want to try out these hop on/off tour buses… go for it! Get a Groupon because I wouldn’t recommend paying full price for the service. If you sit on the top, don’t expect to hear any audioguides because it’s so loud.

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I got off just down the street from the hostel and decided to check in in hopes of getting there early with a lower bunk… sadly I got the upper bunk but the girl below me was a very nice Australian girl.

Now, call me a loser but I ended up taking a nap because when I settled into the hostel, I was sooooo tired… beyond tired!

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I don’t care how lame it was but I took that two hours nap and felt sooo good. Mind you, when I woke up from my nap, I also felt so lazy and decided to just call it a day. I Facetimed Dan, read and watched Netflix until I fell asleep. I didn’t feel like I wasted a day or anything – my body really needed that and I knew I would have longer days to come. I still wanted to relax on this trip as well!


Day 2 – Alcatraz

On my second day, I walked over to the Painted Ladies. I love Full House and Fuller House so I was pretty excited to head over here. It wasn’t too bad of a walk from my hostel – just under 30 minutes or so. BUT, I had to talk through the Tenderloin in the early morning. Mind you, I’m just a 5″ little Asian girl so I was super nervous walking through Tenderloin. I could’ve avoided it but I was following my GPS and decided it was too late to take another route now that I’m committed to it… and I have poor sense of directions so veering off my GPS route would get me even more lost.

If any of my readers are from Vancouver, the only way I could describe Tenderloin is that it makes Hasting area look normal. I walked by a weed deal transaction and saw people shoot up between parked cars. It stunk of vomit, piss and poop. I saw a few fights/arguments, and drunk people stumbling down the streets. I was so, so happy to leave the Tenderloin area but I was clutching my bag so tightly, haha.

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The early morning just outside of Tenderloin area.

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After Painted Ladies, I headed towards Lombard Street to see the famous turning street.

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Finally, I made it down to Fisherman Wharf and the Piers! On Day 1, I only went down to redeem the voucher and didn’t see much of it.

Can I just say… I am in love with the Piers and Fisherman Wharf! I can’t believe SF has this on a daily basis to visit! I would love coming down here just to relax and watch people. Not to mention shop and eat as well.

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I booked for the night tour which departed the Pier at 5:55pm. It’s about a 20-minute ride to the island and because it was a night tour, we had a live tour guide for the first bit.

It was one thing to see the island from afar on land, but it’s another to be on a ferry heading towards it. It’s almost an eerie feeling because you knew this was how prisoners and residents (and yes, residents! Children lived on the island as well) arrived. To make it even better, we were lucky and got regular SF weather where it was chilly and cold with fog. Our tour guide told me that this was the type of weather most prisoners endured and not constant sunshine.

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The tour guide was amazing. He pointed out several things that I would’ve missed if I walked the island on my own. When we docked, our tour guide led us up to the building and told us some facts and trivia about the prison, followed up several programs that will be hosted after the tour.

Unfortunately, when I booked the tour, I thought it was an actual tour guide throughout the prison… it ended up being a self-guided audio tour as well. I wasn’t impressed. But, to be fair, the audio program was AMAZING! The emotions, background tracks, and acting, and the fact that it was voiced by actual prisoners really made it feel as though you were in the prison. There were so many times that I just had to turn around to make sure that there wasn’t a gigantic rowdy crowd behind me or that someone hasn’t slammed the metal door shut.

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SF from Alcatraz

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The lunch menu

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Sitting on an actual bench from the prison in the prison’s cafeteria!

The downside of the night tour is that it’s freezing. I waited for the ferry back to the city for an hour and it was brutal… insane that people used to live on the island. But, seeing Alcatraz in the night was so haunting. If you picture the boat leaving without you and spending the night there… it’s pretty isolated, scary and cold.

When I got back to the island, I hitched a cab back to the hostel only because it would’ve taken me about an hour to walk back. The cab driver was soooo sleazy! He was hitting on me throughout the ride, and even tried to pressure me into cheating on Dan. Needless to say, I didn’t tip and he was upset that I was adamant about going back into the hostel and not coming out to a club with him.


Day 3 – Chinatown

On my last day, all I had left to see on my itinerary was Chinatown. I moved a few things around so I managed to do a lot of things on Day 1 and 2. I was bummed that I missed the Tenderloin Museum and walking tour because they weren’t open on Monday… not even because it was Labour Day, but they plainly just don’t open on Mondays.

I mean, I did walk through Tenderloin but I wanted to see the museum to learn about its past… oh well, perhaps next time if I ever came back.

I made my way towards Chinatown, North America’s oldest Chinatown. I love how every city’s Chinatown is different… but yet, so similar! Vancouver’s Chinatown is dying so it’s great to see how other Chinatowns are still thriving.

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After Chinatown, I was blocks away from the shopping district where I went into Ross and Marshalls… and found an entire section on essential oils! If you recall from my previous post, I recently got into EOs and am obsessed with expanding my collection. Unfortunately, I decided to pass on them because I won’t be bringing my diffuser with me to Australia and it wouldn’t make sense to buy a bunch and have them sit in my mum’s garage for a year.

Eventually, I caught the train back into the airport and left for Vancouver. My commute back home was shit because Dan was already asleep and no Car2Gos or Evos were around the area… and to top it off, the moment I got off the skytrain, the bus that brings me just outside my house left. I ended up cabbing it home which was less than $20 but a car share or bus would’ve been cheaper.


So, all in all, my trip to San Francisco was pretty neat. If I’m being honest, if it wasn’t for Alcatraz, I wouldn’t have come down to SF. I’ll give this city a solid 3/5 stars.

I hate telling people that SF wasn’t what I thought it would be. It wasn’t because I travelled alone or anything, but I think it’s because I held SF on such a high standard for so long, I was ultimately disappointed when I visited the city. When I told my colleague how I felt about the city, I was surprised to see that she agreed with me as well and ultimately branded SF as just one of those cities you gotta see at least once in your lifetime.

I don’t have any tips for those visiting SF aside from…

  • Skip the night tour of Alcatraz… it’s not an actual live guide. Book the last daytime tour for a cheaper rate and you can still catch the prison in dark.
  • Even though it’s in California… it’s so windy and cold! Pack a jacket or a hoodie, even in the summertime.
  • Don’t stay overnight in the Tenderloin… and if you are interested in visiting that part of town, bring a buddy with you. I went in the morning but I can’t imagine how it would look like in the middle of the day or at night time.

2018 Vancouver Pride Parade

It’s that time of the year again! Last weekend was Pride Weekend in Vancouver and in seek of something free and fun to do, Dan and I decided to go to the Pride Parade. I haven’t been to the parade in years and Dan has never been to one because they never had a Pride Parade in Nanaimo.

Before the parade, I went to the gym for a quick session before meeting up with Dan.

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The calm before the festive.

I wanted to visit the parade a bit earlier to get some good seats but we also didn’t want to stand around waiting for the actual thing to start. We grossly underestimated the parade because we arrived just a few minutes before the scheduled start time and the streets were packed! I told Dan that in past, I used to go up Robson Street so we started making our way towards the middle of Robson Street only to be smushed like sardines in a can. It was so disgusting that we couldn’t even move for minutes. Eventually, we only got out because people were pushing us from behind. We decided to take an alternative route and head towards the end of the parade route – luckily, we got there in time to catch the parts of the parade we missed due to being crammed on that one block.

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I didn’t take many photos as I anticipated (seriously, bloggers’ problems, right?) and we also didn’t stay to watch the whole thing. I caught a few of my friends’ Instastories and the parade was still going on hours after we left.

It was a fun atmosphere to be in and celebrate the different type of love and people we have in our society. Dan enjoyed it very much as well.

After the parade, we went home and relaxed for a bit before heading out to dinner. We decided to make it a Date Day and splurged for a dinner outside. We went to Biercraft which was 20 minutes walk from our place and that was also Dan’s first time to Biercraft as well. I used to live right next to it and been craving it lately… unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as the location I used to live next to.

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We both ordered a French Onion Soup (I liked The Keg’s much more but Dan enjoyed this one a fair bit) as an appie. Dan got his delicious Mac n’ Cheese with bacon bits and pulled pork (I think… lol) and I got the steak with frites. They had mussels which I wanted but it was super expensive compared to Captain’s Boil. I don’t know what happened to their Dinner Special but back then they had oysters and steak for $35 or so? Mmm… I haven’t had oysters all summer this year!

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All in all, we had a great long weekend last weekend. I missed it very much! It was filled with some nice festivities and relaxation 🙂

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