06 August 2012

An unexpected destination

After spending 6 weeks in San Francisco it was time to move on, and on a whim I decided to apply to work at a Bed and Breakfast in a small coastal town about 4 hours drive North-West of San Francisco called Fort Bragg. Who would have thought! When I originally planned this trip over one year ago I did not in my wildest ideas think that I would end up in a place like this.

The commute was to be one 3 hour bus to a town called Santa Rosa where I was to stay the night, to then catch a 4 hour bus the following day to take me the rest of the way to Fort Bragg. I had no idea what this town was like, nor did I even bother doing any research beforehand as I figured I'd find out when I get there. Plus it was the best lead I had in my attempt to flee the cities for a while until the American high-season ends, so I didn't have a choice either way.

 The bus drive on the way provided some impressive views which was encouraging at least =)

Waiting to catch the bus made for a great photo opportunity
The bus from Santa Rosa to Fort Bragg the following day
Wow! My spirits were definitely rising after seeing scenery like this.

After the lengthy bus rides I very tentatively knocked on the front door of the inn once I found the place... no one replied so I just let myself in. A young lady comes in from the back room to greet me.

Her: "Oh hey there, are you checking in?"

Me: "Ah, no, I'm umm... I'm here on a work exchange. Is Vivien (the innkeeper) here?"

Her, looking extremely confused: "Oh... Vivien is on holidays for two weeks, she didn't mention you were coming at all, when did you speak to her?"

Me: "Umm... she emailed me yesterday. Maybe I got the date wrong?"

Vivien the innkeeper wasn't even there and wouldn't be for another week, and she didn't even tell anyone I was coming... not the most promising of greetings and definitely not one to calm my nerves!

I got introduced to 5 other helpers all running around the kitchen preparing what looked like dinner for guests. I asked a bunch of questions to try and unravel what was going on, it really looked like an ants nest, I had no idea who was in charge. After a little while I pieced it together.

With Vivien gone the other helpers are literally running the place! 5 other helpers who have all been here less than a week are literally running the place. And when I say literally, I mean literally. They are left on their own to cook, clean, take bookings, organize the chickens, garden, check guests in, answer any questions guests have, and basically are free to run and organize the inn in absolutely any way they like, despite them just being fellow backpackers like I am with no innkeeping experience what so ever... ha! What is this place?

And that dinner they were preparing? It wasn't for guests, it was for themselves! Immediately I was invited to sit down with them for some great pasta, and over dinner they explained more about the place. Basically none of them had the neccessary experience to run a high-class Bed and Breakfast such as this, but just kind of did the best they could, and had fun along the way. That is so cool!

After a long dinner of good food and conversation, the helpers gave me one of the guest rooms because they didn't know where I was meant to be sleeping. I could not believe that this was to be my room for the week...

Woah! It is a $200 a night room with a queen bed and fireplace, all to myself! I have just spent the last 3 months hopping from hostel to hostel and now I was lucky enough to get this? Ha! The bed was so comfortable that it was ridiculous, I was convinced that it was all too good to be true... that I was still on the bus having a rather long dream that I was about to wake up from at any moment.

Thankfully it wasn't a dream, and for the time being it didn't seem too good to be true.

The following week was an absolute blast, it really was the fastest week I have ever had in my entire life, I cannot recall where the last seven days went. My duties included making breakfasts for the guests, doing dishes, cleaning the floors, and some gardening, for roughly 4 hours a day. Fine by me, it was a breeze really, and already I was really liking it here; the other helpers rocked, the town was really cool, I had my own room, we were only 1 block from the ocean (way cool!), and the inn itself was amazing (built in 1886, 3 stories high, 9 bedrooms, and with a big tower outside that had 4 more rooms as well! More pictures and information on that later).

Whenever we all weren't working we were having heaps of fun cooking big dinners, playing games, working in the garden in the sunshine or exploring the town. Great times.

Having great dinners with the other helpers
The view from the top of the house (it's a tall house). We are also right by the ocean!
View of some of Fort Bragg from atop of the house
Fort Bragg main street
Exploring Fort Bragg with Meng Meng, one of the other helpers. She was hilarious.
Dinner with the helpers! Antwon (England), Charie (England), me, Christian (Germany), Biana (Germany), Meng Meng (China)
Oh, and this Bed and Breakfast house has this huge ballroom on its third floor where the other day a world class cello and accordian duo played a concert! They were absolutely brilliant, just brilliant. I talked to the cello player after the show and she said that she has been playing for 25 years... insane! She has been playing longer than I have even been alive...

So that rocked. Also some time during the week Christian, Bianca, Charie and I went to the beach to catch the sunset which was pretty awesome and made for some great photos.

Bianca, Charie and Christian chilling while we watch the sun decend
So after one week I already feel like this is a home away from home. The other helpers rock, I absolutely love having my own room, I am spending next to no money because my accommodation and most of my food is provided, and Fort Bragg has a lot of great attractions nearby that I will have to get around to soon. Lots to do! I have no idea how long I will stay here but I already have a good feeling about this place and am in no rush to leave =)

Top: Bianca, Sadie (America, arrived yesterday), Charie, Christian, Alison and Clint (America, arrived the other day). Bottom: Meng Meng, Felicia (America, arrived yesterday), me and Antwon. Such a great group.


Jas said...

I love this! I am so stoked that you are having the adventure of a lifetime!!

Hannah Marie said...

This seems so awesome! One of those amazing life experiences you'll never forget.

Azz said...

Thanks guys =) It has been one of the most unexpected, but also the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life.

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