Posts Tagged With: Rain

It’s always a good time

Greetings from the YHA Hostel in Taupo, New Zealand. Brooke and I just wrapped up a home made dinner and some time in the community lounge watching, of all things, Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups” with some fellow travelers. Taupo brings us the smallest room stay to date (you might have to step outside to change your mind), but it is clean, cozy, comfortable and friendly so it will work out nicely. We are learning that we prefer hostels and services like AirBnB to hotels since they have kitchens, community areas and a more unique atmosphere. Besides, when you’ve seen one Hampton Inn room, you’ve probably seen them all.

Maps getting us from place to placeToday was mainly a travel day which meant a day of Vela trekking through some towns and some more windy roads in a bit of unrelenting rain past plenty of contented sheep. Driving in the rain makes us sleepy, but State Route 1 took us through plenty of small interesting towns. For example, we drove through a town called Bulls which has a sign welcoming us to (this is true): “Bulls – A town like no udder.” They also had garbage cans that said “Be Responsi-bull.” Hah! You know I love a good pun. The time in the car is always scenic since the terrain changes every 150 miles. Today, we drove through the “desert road” section of the North Island, which was mostly just brown. Not so much with sand. Our spaceship also took us past Mt. Tongariro which had erupted last week but is quiet now. Hoping to avoid a bunch of that. As Brooke keeps saying, while it would make for a good travel story, we don’t need a story that good!

The Silver Fern -Painted on the table at our Hostel

The Silver Fern -Painted on the table at our Hostel

Our New Zealand discoveries continue. This week, we’ve happened across Vogel bread and Vogel cereals which is the pride of the Kiwis. Native to New Zealand, it is beloved and delicious. We also learned that “Old Blighty” is an excellent slang term for England. Yup, when we come home, we’re going to be those people who refer to garbage as rubbish, calling someone as ringing someone and England as Old Blighty. Oh, and from now on, a Zip Line is a Flying Fox. That’s right. I’m also learning about rocker Johnny Devlin – New Zealand’s hip-swinging answer to Elvis Presley in he 1960’s.

Look! A Gum named after me!

Check it out! The kind people of New Zealand and Wrigley’s have named a chewing gum after me!

Wanted to end the post today with something a little bit different. Below are some YouTube videos (sorry e-mail subscribers–you’ll have to go to http://www.luggagetagtravels.com to view these) of sites we’ve seen in New Zealand that just quite weren’t the same in photos. Something to mark our second to last night in New Zealand!

-Phil

Categories: Driving Abroad, Eating, Exploring, Hotels, New Zealand, Random Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Thoughts on traveling in New Zealand so far

We wanted to quickly say that Brooke and I have been flattered and delighted by the number of views and comments we’ve received on the blog so far. We are really glad that people seem to be enjoying (or at least reading) our travel journal. As a reminder, if you’re interested in keeping up to speed (and don’t mind some more junk in your inbox) you can sign up to get an update via e-mail every time we update the blog which is about once a day. To do so, just click on the “follow this blog” link on the right hand side of the screen.

Baby lamb photographed from the side of the road!Our trek through New Zealand continued today as we’ve made our way to the southern tip of the North Island. Our spaceship is now docked in the capital city of Wellington. A day driving in rain ended with a stay overlooking the city and a warm bowl of soup and delicious pizza on Cuba Street in the heart of the city. Another day driving through rain and small towns on roads that you fear might turn to gravel made us twice as glad to arrive. We look forward to explore New Zealand’s most hyped city.

We touched down in New Zealand a week ago and now we’re getting the hang of adapting to the long-term travel lifestyle. Turns out that all I really need to start the day has been a hot shower with good water pressure. Success at at every stop so far. And all Brooke needs is just a solid cup of coffee somewhere along the way. We’ve also found that living in New York City for the last six years has prepared us well for this trip. Dealing with nighttime noise, small beds, smaller hotel rooms, navigating public transportation and even discussing living in NYC (a city that everyone knows and has a thought on) has all worked to our advantage. And, of course, I’ve been blessed with the perfect travel partner who is helping to make this trip amazing each day.

Over the past week, it’s been a blast to soak up all the small differences that we’ve found so far while traveling. I’m getting pretty quick at converting kilometers to miles, centigrade to farenheit and US dollars to New Zealand dollars, but still get thrown for a loop when I have to figure out how much $7.99 NZD per Kg of zucchini really is. There are lots of small but unique contrasts in language, social behavior, and more that we thought were worth sharing.

Coffee for a long drive to Wellington!The first lesson we learned is that coffee is a whole new ballgame here. While there are vibrant, independent coffee houses every two blocks in New Zealand, ordering a cup of black coffee will only reward you with a confused look from the barista. Thanks to our new friend Jason, we’ve learned that a “long black” is what we’re after. It is basically a shot of espresso topped off with steaming hot water. Delicious and strong but not cheap. The minimum we’ve paid for a solid cup of joe has been about $3.50. And there are never refills. American coffee may be living up to the cliché of being on par with mud in comparison, but at least you can get it by the gallon for a couple of of bucks at the local gas station.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that although everyone speaks English, we keep stumbling across some different words. In all public buildings, restrooms are just called the toilet. Which makes us feel relatively crass when we ask “Where is your toilet?” when at a restaurant. Sort of on par to “Point me to the crapper!” but it gets the job done. You “hire” a car instead of “rent.” On a menu, appetizers are called entrees. And entrees are called mains. When spoken aloud, websites such as http://www.Rugby.co.nz is referred to as “dub dub dub Rugby dot co dot en-zed”which is just fun.

Paying for purchases is also a bit different. Everyone takes credit card, but entering a pin number is much more common when you charge a purchase. Signing is decidedly against the norm and they check our signature against the signature on the card every single time. Since no one ever checked in the US, I would sometimes sign faux names like “Johnny Tellyawhattodo.” That won’t fly here.

Lastly, the people we’ve met so far are an incredibly friendly, well traveled bunch who are endlessly hospitable. It’s interesting to hear how they see America. It gives us some perspective on our own country. For example, we forget that, say, since Texas is almost nothing like Maine, 50 different states really does translate to 50 different mini-countries.

Overall, we are glad we started with New Zealand, because even though there are some small and interesting differences, we can generally clear up any confusion by asking a few questions. We are intimidated by our anticipation of how this will work in the next several countries we’ll be in (Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore) where English will be much harder to come by. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

-Phil

Categories: Cell Phones, China, Discounts, Diversions, Health, Museums, New Zealand, Wardrobe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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