Today, our goal is to get our visas for India. We will be moving around pretty quickly from country to country and are hoping the Embassy here can accommodate us and get it processed today. The forms we had to fill out on the shared computer asked us things like what religion our dad has and whether or not we knew anyone from Pakistan…kind of strange. Once we had our answers filled in, we waited in-line until our number was finally called and were told only emergency visas are approved for same day. They said most likely it wouldn’t work but that they would submit it to see if it would go through for us. So, we left our passports with them and walked down the street to a little cafe to grab breakfast, a coffee and free wi-fi.
The manager at the cafe was super nice, he saw we were busy trying to book our hotel and flights for Thailand and called his travel agent to assist. After many hours working online, we walked back to the visa place only to find out, we were denied for same day visa. After some discussion back and forth, they agreed to process the visa with copies of our passports while we are on our Fiji cruise, then the one day we have between getting back from the cruise and going to China…we will drop our passports off first thing in the morning for them to use. They told us we had to pay the $125 each but that they couldn’t guarantee the visas would be approved. We obviously were not comfortable with this whole concept…pay for something that has a 50/50 chance of getting done but, we didn’t really have a choice. We need the India visa and already have our flights purchased to go there, so we hesitatingly handed over our credit card.
Once we got back to Veronica’s house, we all got ready and then drove over to Pat’s parents house. They asked us to have dinner and wine with them and we of course said yes. Their place was beautiful…large home sitting right on the water. The wine cellar had give and I grinning from ear to ear…it was under the house in a small basement-like room and was completely stocked with wine…as in no more space anywhere for another bottle. Pat’s dad is Italian and loves his wine. Dinner was great with fresh seafood and of course a bottle of wine, followed by Pat’s moms homemade dessert.
It was so nice to share dinner with the family…they really took us in and showed us the way through Sydney…our home is open to them (as soon as we find a home wherever that will be). After dinner, we went back to Veronica/Pat’s place and packed our bags for the cruise. We borrowed all kinds of dresses and suits since we have none and the cruise is considered formal.
Before arriving at the Sydney port to board our cruise to Fiji, we stopped at Target to grab dress shoes. Thankfully we had the dresses and suits but needed shoes to go with them. Target may not be the best place for shoes but we will make the cheap “pleather” work!
After our shopping excursions, Veronica dropped us off at the port. We walked up with all of our things and were surprised when a Princess Cruise rep approached us and said we would not be sailing today! There was an issue with the engine and they were flying an engineer from France to fix it. She said the earliest would be Thursday and today is Tuesday. She also said they may have to cut one of the ports. They said we could cancel the cruise for a full refund now or board the ship…stay on board for 2 days while docked here in Australia and then on Thursday after we know more about the engine…decide to stay on or cancel at that time. Giff and I looked at each other and decided to opt for boarding the ship. We handed in our luggage and went to the harbor to grab some lunch while we waited to board.
Once we got to the harbor, we realized the Melbourne Cup race was starting within the hour. It was a famous horserace and would be on TV. They had several people out collecting fun small bets on the horses…we placed our wages on a couple. We found a restaurant with a table right in front of the TV, ordered food and tuned in to see if our horses would be the winners. Unfortunately, we picked a couple really good horses but they placed 4th through 7th instead of 1st through third.
After lunch we got back over to the port where we got in line to board the cruise ship. After customs and check in, we walked on the boat and saw that it was a bit more upscale than other ships we had been on. The colors were a gold and cream and we started noticing right away the age of the other passengers…did we book a senior citizen cruise???
We found our room located right off one of the main floors. It was similar in size to the NCL cruise ship we had been on before…we unpacked and then started to explore the ship. The ship had a familiar layout…the top deck was large with lounge chairs and a giant big screen TV for watching movies under the stars. There were 2 formal dining rooms…we were assigned to one and had to attend dinner at our assigned time of 7:45PM nightly if dining there. There was a theater for entertainment and several lounges for chatting and drinking. There was also a gym and spa…unfortunately we were disappointed with the spa. It was very small and there was not an area for both men and women to lounge around. We also noticed there were 3 additional restaurants in conjunction with the main dining room. One was a pizzeria…pizzas and pastas, the other was a steakhouse but had an additional cover charge of $15 per person and the last was the buffet. All food except the steakhouse was free (included in the cost of the cruise). There was also a casino which could be dangerous…
We decided to sit down in the main dining room for an early dinner. We each had an appetizer, salad and entrée and of course dessert. The food was decent…not a super nice restaurant level of food but not fast food either. After dinner, we wondered around the boat and then watched a movie in our room.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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