My passport came back, complete with visa, the Monday after the interview (last week). So I’ve been making plans now for flights and the actual move. My boss suggested a holiday first, which is a great idea of course, but pretty tricky to pull off on such short notice. After much searching about, I decided I’d give a Contiki tour of New Zealand a shot. In the end Contiki more or less won by default, since it’s virtually impossible otherwise to find a packaged travel deal for a single person – every place assumes you’re paired up with someone (and very friendly; many assume you’re sharing a bed) which of course isn’t very helpful, and I don’t feel like paying for two – especially when many package deals are really pretty pricey anyway.
New Zealand won out for a few reasons – first, there’s the testimony from Bobo, Gus & Roxanne about how good it is. And although I’d rather do something different, rather than follow in someone else’s footsteps, practicality wins out at this point. New Zealand’s also somewhere I’ve wanted to go to for a long time, if only for the scenery, but then [perhaps more recently] because of the activities on offer.
And thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, it’s the right time of the year to go to New Zealand. I also looked at the Whitsunday’s and various pacific islands, including Hawaii, but it’s the wet season for them and that does put a damper on the sort of things you can do. Plus, they’re relatively expensive, and while money’s not really an issue in absolute terms, I’d still like to feel I’m getting good value.
So yes, that’s the plan. Because it’s such short notice I’ve had to book (and pay) for the Contiki tour up front, and they’ll get back to me “within 48 business hours” – i.e. Wednesday, probably Thursday – one way or another. (and yes, I get my money back in full if I don’t get in; gee people are cynical :) ).
And unfortunately they made me pick a specific tour, whereas I really just wanted to say “I have to be out of there by this date, just find me something, anything”. So I’ve narrowed my odds… I ended up picking the most expensive trip, partly by coincidence, but partly because hopefully other people are more stingy and will favour the cheaper one. :D
It does mean, though, that I’ll be going from Auckland to Christchurch (from memory), whereas it probably would have been more convenient to go the other way round. But, I’m thinking it’s probably easier all round to fly back to Australia, and then off to the U.S. It’s only $200 or so more for the return flight, and that way I wouldn’t have to try and fit into the Contiki trip all the other crap I want to take with me to the U.S. – my laptop, extra [winter] clothes, etc.
It also means I’ll have an extra night, hopefully, to catch up with people before I go. Bobo in particular – she’s in Thailand at the moment, returning on the 22nd or something like that, and I didn’t get a chance to see her off properly before she went (because she [by my recollection] didn’t tell me when she was actually going, so the first I knew of it was when I spoke to her in Thailand :/ ).
It’d be a bit of a bummer if I didn’t get into the trip, since there’s really nothing much else I could try now – it’s just too late. But if I don’t, I figure I’ll do as much road-tripping as I can in the few weeks I have. I’m hoping to head down to Wilsons Prom this week for a few days – the weather looks like it should be passable, and it’d be nice to have a surf and chill a bit. Tomorrow Rob, Tony & I are going up to King Lake for the day for a bit of a cruisy hike about, which should be good, too.
One way or another, though, I’m set to start work in the U.S. on the 9th of April, and I want to arrive the week before so I can settle in, get over the jetlag, and organise bits and pieces (car, apartment, license, etc). Or at least start organising. Anyway, the Contiki tour ends on the 4th or something, but if I don’t get on that I’ll probably head over a little earlier, on the 2nd or so.
So that’s the plan, for now – i.e. wait and see.