New York, I love you.

Let it be known that I’m really good at procrastinating. I finished the text for this post exactly three months after I flew out of JFK Airport at the end of my holiday. I guess I’ve been holding onto it, savouring it, because once the blog posts are done then it’s properly over and I can’t swan about indulging myself any more. My holiday photos are dropping off the start of my photo stream, one by one, and each one to go is a pin-prick of sadness.

The positive of all this time is that my broken ankle is 98% recovered. I’ve been using the 98% description for a couple of weeks now. My foot doesn’t hurt much at all, except when I pivot quickly, but I don’t think ankles are really designed for that anyway. I’ve got a lot of cool scar tissue in my ankle that I can push around, thanks to all the ligaments I tore good and proper, but yeah. All healed up and walking on two legs like I was never crippled—so I guess these posts kind of take me back to those painful days of forward-planning and disappointments and struggling through my holiday as best I could. But I gosh darn did it, and it’s a story I’ll have forever.

Tourista Cool Beans.

Tourista Cool Beans.

So let’s finish the story. Here’s my recap of the last week of my holiday, picking up from the end of my last blog post.

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NO. SLEEP. TILL BRKLYN.

Yes, I am the first person to ever reference that when talking about a trip to Brooklyn. Let’s talk about Brooklyn! I am bummed I didn’t get to explore Brooklyn more, but I’m blaming freak snowstorms for that. What I did see of Brooklyn, I loved. Of course. Nobody is surprised.

This post isn’t entirely about Brooklyn—I decided to break my NYC posts up into Brooklyn and Manhattan purely based on our two different accommodations. There’s a fair bit of Manhattan in this post, but this week was our Brooklyn week. If that makes sense. It does to me.

Check out my boss subway-riding mum.

Check out my boss subway-riding mum.

This time I’ve done all my musing within each day’s rundown, so please click through for a full read of what I got up to!

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From Quebec City, With Love.

Here goes the first of my holiday nostalgia posts. I’m reliving the magic of my North American break via blog post and I’m taking you guys with me! I tried to stay on top of posting while I was travelling, I really did. I even started this post on a train from Québec City to Montréal on December 27th. The one line I had drafted was “I am writing this while on the ViaRail train from Québec City to Montréal”.

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Literally just out the window.

I won’t tell you about the trains yet, though. Let’s talk about my magical week in Québec City. People don’t lie when they say Québec is a corner of Europe in North America. So much French! My rudimentary efforts at learning French on duolingo actually paid off a couple of times (“he wants to stop at the bank” dear taxi driver thank you for humouring me) but the rest of the time I was mostly disappointed that nobody wanted to talk about black cats and eating apples. Every person who asked us where we were from was scandalised that we’d chosen to leave the warmth of Australia for the bitter cold of Québec City. The grass is always greener!

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Or whiter, in this case.

It WAS bitterly cold, too. And we loved every second of it. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time out in it due to my broken ankle, but I made the most of it. I stared at the beautiful snowscapes just outside the window. I told myself that one day my ankle wouldn’t be broken any more and I’d come back to Québec City with two working legs so I could explore within the walls of the beautiful Vieux-Québec and take the boxy funiculaire down to the Rue du Petit Champlain, the beautiful shopping street that is shown in so many stunning wintry Christmas photos. It would have been near an impossible feat on crutches. Even without decent snow shoes, walking around Québec City was treacherous—as my sister in her Doc Martens could attest to!

I found the powdery snow the easiest to hop through, as my rubber-based crutches and my own solo Doc Marten would crunch down into the powder and it’d feel like fairly stable grounding. The worst was old snow that’d been crunched down into ice, and I was even wary of ground that didn’t have a powder covering. The good news was that it snowed often enough in Québec that there was usually powder everywhere! Still, having to go any further on crutches than 50m or so was fairly exhausting anyway, and with the added concentration, balance and mild panic from the new terrain I had no experience with meant I was very easily pooped out. My most terrifying crutches journey was downhill one short block on an icy sidewalk from a lunch spot to the ecolobus and is still seared into my memory a month later! I literally crawled onto the bus once I’d made it to the door. Being temporarily crippled means temporarily sacrificing a great deal of your dignity.

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My sister, the able-bodied jerk.

To be honest, the holiday was probably about as challenging as I’d expected it to be, so at least it wasn’t any worse?

And there were so many wonderful things about it, they far outweighed the negatives.

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Somewhere between Québec City and Montréal.

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Memmy White Cripsmas!

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Hello from snowy Quebec! Wait, WHAT? This holiday has actually been in the works for three years or so, when my family decided we wanted to experience a proper White Christmas for once. We settled on Quebec City so we could also squeeze in some time in New York for NYE and my 30th birthday in the early new year. All our tickets were booked back in July; trust me to break my ankle five weeks out from the trip.

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Yes, it’s a break—a hairline fracture on my talus (ankle) bone and an avulsion fracture (chips of bone) off my fibula, where the ligament tore. Yes, I’ve just travelled for forty hours in a full cast, on crutches. No, it was not fun, and no, I didn’t even get any sweet upgrades because all our big flights were packed full for Christmas. Yikes.

I followed the normal precautions for long haul flights: my fibreglass cast was bivalved (/split by the awesome cast technician at RHH Wellington Clinics and then held together with Velcro) and I began daily blood-thinner injections a couple of days before flying. Unfortunately the packed planes meant there were literally no opportunities to elevate my ankle at all. My leg was mega swollen after the longest flight (13.5hrs from Shanghai to New York) and stayed that way until I finally got some decent sleep (almost 12hrs) in my Quebec bed—it was a big relief to wake up and find it normal again today. There’s a higher risk of DVT for leg injuries so I was pretty panicked last night, but everything feels a-ok today.

The travel itself was exhausting, broken leg or not. My poor sister got lumped with being my packhorse through the airports (four: Sydney International, Shanghai Pu Dong, New York JFK and Quebec Jean-Lesage). We travelled for forty hours and through three time zones. Which way is up? Neither of us are very good at transit sleeping and gathered only 7-8 hours of sleep each in bits and pieces over the duration of the trip, some on flights and some on airport benches.

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There are pros and cons to travelling with a leg cast. The cons generally outweigh the pros, but I’m a big fan of getting whisked through security gates and customs. On the flipside, I’ve been fairly thoroughly patted down four or five times in the last few days (each time by a female security officer at an airport, just to clarify). I haven’t really gotten to browse around at airport shops because once I’m delivered by wheelchair to a waiting area or gate, the wheelchair is whisked away until it’s time to move on, so I’m back to my crutches. I’ve gotten better at them in the last five weeks but they are still exhausting and I can’t go more than a couple of hundred metres without needing a few minutes of recovery time. My sister not only carried my crutches and coat when they weren’t in action but also fetched me food and drinks, and scouted for nearby bathrooms (also a con for some waiting areas I was left at… good job, airport staff). But we survived.

My favourite moment of the trip (apart from my sister bemoaning a little French boy’s ability to speak fluent French when she couldn’t, and the “aviation radish” on our PVG>JFK flight) was our final flight.

“I want to stay awake until we take off, just in case we can see the lights of Manhattan,” said Katie. I agreed.
We both promptly nodded off while the plane was taxiing to the runway.

It was ok though, because we snapped awake just before take-off. We saw…some lights? Maybe Manhattan? Probably not, but let’s say they were. Right after that we fell back asleep, and woke up moments before the “ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for landing:” announcement. Though it felt like only moments after we’d nodded off, it was actually an hour and a half, at least. Perfection.

Now we’re settled in our first accommodation in our Quebec (mum and stepdad arrived a couple of days earlier), it’s time for the real fun to begin! … Except that there’s currently an ice storm raging outside. Hahaha. Oh, dear. An extra full day of resting my leg and shaking off any jetlag is probably for the best, though. We’ve been hanging out in our PJs in our lovely apartment, eating fresh pastries and drinking tea, listening to Christmas tunes and painting Christmas nails, all while watching gusts of white whipping around in all directions outside. Pretty magical.

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Party central.

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A snapshot of my Friday night:

I am tired after two full days back at work. I crouch halfway up the stairs on my hands and knees, my right ankle in a cast. I am watching my cat eat her own vomit.

“Please, go right ahead,” I vocalise. “Don’t let me disturb you. Eat ALL of it.”

I spend five minutes crouched on the stairs and waiting, because if she eats all of it then I won’t have to crawl the rest of the way up there.

Having a broken ankle is tough work.

Baby’s first cast.

I know I was in Melbourne only a few short weeks ago, but I returned again quickly for a very good reason: the wedding of two beautiful long-time friends. Our group of friends (the original posse I was a member of while discovering who I was as an adult) flew in from right along the east coast, from Brisbane to Hobart, in order for a reunion and party weekend of epic proportions. Most of us FIFO guests organised to bunk in together in Airbnb accommodation, in order to spend as much time as possible in each other’s company. These are friendships that will last my entire lifetime and I miss these people fiercely on a regular basis.

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However, as much as I want to wax on about my beautiful friends, this post is for whinging instead. I’m almost thirty years old and I’ve finally broken a bone, hooray! Except not hooray. And possibly even maybe no I haven’t. The joy of injuries! At the least, I have a grade 3 (“severe”) ankle sprain (aka a torn ligament). There’s a small chip of bone that’s come away, too, and at the most there could also be a hairline fracture in there too, but I won’t find that out until Monday’s CT scan (over a fortnight after my original injury, no big deal or anything).

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I mention both the Melbourne wedding and the injury because the injury happened directly after the wedding. Thankfully not DURING the wedding! But literally directly after the wedding. I suppose it’s a half-decent story for the future:

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