A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

AMAZING NZ February 23, 2008

Day 5

WOW. Mark and I both just had the most incredible adventure of our lives! We left Auckland on Tuesday morning and headed south towards Waitomo to go on the Black Abyss Caving tour. In a nutshell it was AMAZING! We were greeted by two exceptional guides, Dan and Frasier, who took on an incredible adventure where we repelled 110 feet down into a black hole, ziplined 30 foot into the dark where the only thing we could see was the star-like twinkle of the glow worms all around us-, jumped off a 10 foot cliff into about 4 feet of water with our intertubes, tubbed down the caves inner depths until we reached a WATERFALL and and headed down face first like a penguin on ice (no worries, just a little man made slide), painted stories on each others faces like Maori tribesman, crawled through holes of the cave, scaled up 3 waterfalls and finally reached the top where there was another mini, but beautiful waterfall and pool waiting for us along with the most brilliant shades of green foilage. Simply Spectacular.

Night of day 5-TOGA PARTY!

Who would of thought that Mark and I would be going to a Toga party in New Zealand. Well, it’s true! We caught a ride with Dan to the Cave Hut where we borrowed some sheets/curtains and headed to the one and only local bar, Curlys. From there it was a night of people dressed in Togas, me playing bartendar, pool and lots of fun with new friends from around the world. Perfect end to a perfect day.


Day 6 and 7

Hung out in Waitomo and debated for hours if we should catch our already paid for bus to The Mount or if we should hang out with our new friends Dan and Christen and fire up a New Zealand BBQ. After much diliberation, we ended up catching the bus but regretted leaving the whole way there as hanging out with locals is by far a better experience than just seeing destination after destination. In the end it worked out okay as The Mount was an absolutely beautiful coastal city. We got in late the first night and just crashed, but got up early and climbed The Mount in the morning. There were beautiful views from the top. We spent the remainder of the day looking for a swimsuit for me (I left mine in Waitomo), laying on the beach and swimming in the thermal spa pools, which was really cool. We ended up camping about 20 feet from the beach and had the most beautiful night/early morning views of the ocean. Ahhh, New Zealand…I love you.

Day 8 & 9

Got into smelly Rotorua and Mark has basically been sleeping the past 2 days. At first he thought it was a cold, then tonsillitis but early this morning he determined it was an ear infection. He went to the doctor this morning and got some meds and is doing a lot better!


This morning for me on the otherhand was quite busy! My bunk mate Lee, from England, and I decided to go GRADE 5 white water rafting. There were 14 rapids and 3 waterfalls, the largest being 7 meters high (roughly 14 feet). Such a rush and you definitely couldn’t beat the scenery. Then we went to Hells Gate were we walked along side burning hot and bubbling thermal pools. The whole thing was like something out of a Halloween horror film. We then carved a Maori sign into a piece of wood and lacquered it. Afterwords we stuck our feet in the Sulfer foot baths, which is suppose to be amazing for the skin.

Now Mark and I are off to a Maori dinner and cultural dance event! PICTURES TO COME, promise. Just don’t want to make you all too jealous:-)


New Zealand, The Land of Kiwis. February 18, 2008

Filed under: New Zealand North Island,Round The World Trip — italicana kitchen @ 9:43 pm

After 18 hours of travel, a guy collapsing on our plane one row behind me (he was okay), Mark and I landed in beautiful, beautiful Auckland, New Zealand. We have been here for only 4 days but they have been fun-packed.


Here are just a few highlights–

Day 1

Arrived at 5.30a.m. and made our way to the Magic Backpacker Bus office where we jumped on a backpacker bus at 7.30a.m. to Paihia, a small coastal town about 4 hours north of Auckland. We explored the town, had our first fish and chips on the beach, relaxed in the sun and headed back to our hostel for a backpacker bbq. We met a bunch of awesome people from around the world and hearing their travelling stories has been simply amazing. I crashed early but Mark was the true casanova and headed out with 3 Swedish girls to another bar to go dancing.


Day 2

Woke up early and got on an all-day Dolphin Excursion boat that took us into the Bay of Islands. We saw heaps of shiny grey, jumping, playful dolphins! They swam right along side the boat and did tricks for us like they just escaped from Seaworld…it was amazing to see them up close and in the wild. Unfortunately, we could not go swimming with them because they had their joeys, so we settled for a cruise along the islands, a picnic on the beach with our new friends from London, and watching some daring souls go boom riding (bascially a net-like hammock on the side of the boat that you can hold onto like an adventure ride while the boat moves). Instead of making our way back to Paihia we jumped ship at Russell, a town across the bay, and hit up a pub for a nice frosty beer, a fantastic sunset and great conversations with our European friends about culture, politics, religion and why U.S. citizens have to pay for medical and university!


Day 3 & 4

Got on the backpacker bus headed back for Auckland and made a great friend named Rich along the way. We ended up joining him at the hostel he booked in Auckland, and we met up with three of his Danish friends for a fun night out of drinking, Ive got no shoes dance and late night kebabs-which are a delish slice of heaven. The next morning we got up early and left for Waikeke Island where we spent the entire day out on the beach, boogy boarding and enjoying the NZ sun. Made me happy that I am not in snow!


Now we are just about to embark to Waitomo Caves, where we are going to go underground abseiling and tubing! There are also hundreds of glow worms in the cave. Pictures and more stories to come.

Much love to all back at home!



Building Character February 1, 2008

Filed under: Round The World Trip — italicana kitchen @ 12:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

I am obsessed with convertibles. I love the wind, the sense of freedom, and the eyes of envy that other drivers bestow on me while sitting at a stoplight on a warm summer day.  Even in the Seattle cold, if you turn on the heater and roll down the top the drive to work goes from a dreary commute to an exciting cruise through winter paradise. There is just something about convertibles that are simply magical. 

Even more magical is the concept of combining both a convertible and sunroof into one car. Now, that is perfection! My dream car is an Audi A4 convertible with sunroof included.

Although Audi does not make this model (yet), I am dreaming of the day when I can throw down the top and take a summer cruise along the ocean, roll back the sunroof for a short trip to the coffee shop or use my 4-wheel drive to trek up the mountains to go snowboarding.

However that is my dream and my reality is that I drive an ’89 Honda Accord. Yet, I am fine with this. A new car is not on my list of current goals. My goal is to travel and in order to reach this I sacrifice my dignity by driving a car who’s driver side door is a different color white, whose defrosters don’t work and steam up my windows like a sauna and whose battery dies in the middle of traffic. I’ve even had to crawl through the passenger side door to get into my car when thieves broke my driver side handle. Talk about embarrassing!


Going on roughly 269,000 miles,this car has been through it all and has taken me along for the ride. We have driven thousands of miles, skid on ice, taken road trips, gotten hit by cars and been laughed at by many pedestrians. I hate this car, but love this car for what it is allowing me to do and what it has taught me about myself. This car humbles me each day and reinforces the fact that you should not judge people on what they have or don’t have, as this is often misleading and moreover wrong.

A car is a lot like your outer skin. It protects you against danger, is a first impression to strangers, comes in different colors and is bound to have scratches or imperfections. So, before you judge a person by their car, remember that person driving the beater could be a CEO and the person driving a Porsche could just be a driver in debt.

::To my dad, Robert and my brother Mark who, countless times have had to fix my car, find me new driver side doors (twice!) and pick me up when I’ve been stranded, thank you!::