Tuesday, 16 October 2012
So we got a lot done in the last five days of our trip, despite the fact that I was so excited to come home I couldn't really concentrate on much! The day after I last wrote was spent in Salem (I have never seen so many pumpkins in one place) and in Boston. Both places were really enjoyable, after so many interstates and theme parks it was really nice to see a bit of history and something a bit different. Salem was really beautiful and old fashioned and obviously had witchy stuff EVERYWHERE including a statue of Samantha from Bewitched. We saw the memorial to the people that were killed in the witch trials and it had fresh roses on it and the final words of the victims so it was really interesting. Driving between there and Boston was a bit of a nightmare but I used the time wisely and spent the 15 miles counting how many Dunkin Donuts we drove past - I got into double figures. It's true what they say, America runs on Dunkin.
Boston was really nice too, much more Italian then I realised it would be, and all the historical stuff was going on about somebody called Paul telling everybody that the British were coming, so I took that a bit personally. Other than that awkwardness it was a really nice place and we enjoyed strolling around the streets until it got too chilly and we retreated.
The next day was our last big drive between there and New York, and in honour of this fact it poured it down all day long. We did decide to treat ourselves to huge hot chocolates/coffees and were so pleased when we took them up to pay and we were told it was complimentary! Absolute highlight of the day! The drive into and through NY was as horrific as I thought it would be and we were very pleased to get to our motel at the end of it. We spent Thursday being massive tourists and trying to dash round all the things we wanted to see. Managed to see the Met (or some of it as it is huge!) as well as watching them film Gossip Girl for a while. We then went for a stroll in Central Park as it was a beautiful day, and had a trip on the Staten Island Ferry and gawped at the New York skyline and at the Statue of Liberty as well as making friends with a nice old couple. From there we went to see Ground Zero and despite normally having to apply online for a visitors permit it was quite empty so we managed to get in. It was surprisingly subtle considering the memorials we saw in Washington but it was really moving and also quite peaceful. We were near Chinatown and also dinnertime at this point so went to explore the dumplings. I mean area.
I will be honest now and say that although we did have one more day in New York it pretty much passed by in a complete daze because all I could think about was the fact that we were actually coming home! My tummy was so full of butterflies that I didn't eat or sleep from Thursday evening onwards and Saturday was hell because our first flight wasn't until 850pm and I couldn't wait. My only consolation was that once we were on the plane they had all the Lord of the Rings films on the little screens so I was able to watch that and doze a bit. Our second flight was slightly delayed and caused me no end of frustration when it looped round Heathrow FOUR TIMES before finally landing and bringing us home! Sean's entire family were there to meet us off the plane and it was so exciting to see them all and have lots of cuddles and kisses from all the kids. Just as exciting was the roast dinner waiting for us... I've never been so pleased to see broccoli after the delights of American cuisine!
It is really weird to be back, although a good kind of weird I think. Am really looking forward to getting round and seeing everyone and then I think I will really feel like I'm properly back home and back in the real world. It has been a really amazing trip and I'm so glad that we went and saw all these things that I never knew existed, but there is definitely no place like home, and no bed quite as nice as mine!
Thanks to everyone for reading my blog, I hope my obsession with toilets hasn't been too annoying for anyone!
Lots of love
Monday, 8 October 2012
I have to confess... I thought it had been about 4 days since my last blog, and then this morning Sean informed me it has actually been well over a week! I have lost all concept of time I think.
So, we were in Florida last time and had driven 6500 miles. We have now achieved 8500 miles and in all that time you would think that we would have become accustomed to American driving. However, not a day goes past where we don't have a near death experience or at the very least have to use some pretty rude words (I never aim them at the people in case I get shot as you never know in this country).
Since Florida we have been working our way north, and one of our days driving was along the blue ridge parkway, which is apparently one of the most scenic and beautiful drives in the country. I say apparently because we didn't see any of it. After 2 solid months of sunshine the weather finally caught up with us and threw everything at us. We spent the whole route stuck in cloud so thick that we couldn't even see the trees at the side of the road. The only plus point was that it provided excellent cover for toilet breaks as it is pretty remote round there.
Our next big destination was Washington DC, which I was pretty excited about as I was looking forward to being a proper tourist, walking around taking pictures of everything and getting in everyone's way. I wasn't disappointed, and we had a great day looking at the White House (Obama wasn't at home, he was in Denver for the presidential debate) and I have to say it's a pretty nice house. We also saw the Washington monument, the Vietnam War Memorial, and my favourite which was the Lincoln Memorial. Size really does matter over here, and I'm not sure if they've heard the word subtlety but it was all very impressive anyway. We also went to the natural history museum, where we didn't learn anything at all. Wished we had gone to the gallery next door as it looked amazing but we had already run out of time. While we were in the area we also went to Annapolis, where we saw the state building and a hand-written draft of George Washington's resignation speech. Plus we saw the hugest bug I've ever seen. All in all a successful day trip!
From Washington we drove onwards to Ohio to a theme park (last one I promise!) This was my chance to understand what I had put Sean through at Disney as we were there for 13 hours and it was FLIPPING FREEZING. We had to run back to the car at one point to dig out our gloves and more layers as the park is right out on Lake Erie. To be fair the rides were brilliant but it was a long day!
Next day we went to Niagara Falls, which I was actually a bit disappointed with at first as it didn't look that big from where we were standing, but then we went on the 'Maid of the Mist' which is the boat trip which takes you right up to the falls and I had to change my mind after seeing them properly- they were amazing! Despite the woman who used the top of my head as a tripod to lean on while she took pictures.
I'll leave it at that for now, as I only have 5 days left of the entire trip and I'll need something to write in the final episodes!
Lots of love
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Well we are still in Florida so that means it's the longest amount of time we've spent in any state so far! And what a magical time it has been... Firstly we stayed in tampa and visited busch gardens. It was a bit touch and go at times on the rollercoasters due to the lightning storm that kept threatening (and even appeared) a few times. Luckily our day wasn't ruined as the storm continued on its way and we continued to be hurled around on as many ridiculous rides as possible, although doing that straight after a pizza and pasta buffet may not have been the best idea... but we managed to keep it all down and there were no incidents.
After that we moved on to Orlando to spend 5 days immersing ourselves in Disney and Harry Potter (me) and more rollercoasters (sean). On the first day there we went to Downtown Disney and watched Finding Nemo in 3D which was very cool. The day after that we headed to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I was in absolute heaven, I got to walk around Hogwarts and fly around with Harry and Ron and have a butterbeer. I was like a child running around trying to see everything all at once.
The next day we went to Magic Kingdom at Disney which. Is. huge! I was a bit gutted because they are currently building a MASSIVE new section which will have the little mermaids castle and the castle from beauty and the beast but it's not quite finished so I couldn't go in :-( will just have to come back again very soon. The day was a bit stressful at times though as it was so busy - I was desperate for a bit of personal space by about midday! The next day we had to decide whether to go back to the magic Kingdom or try one of the other parks and we couldn't face another day of being jostled around so we decided to give Hollywood studios a go. We ended up having a really good day, and there were far fewer people body slamming us which is always pleasant. Hollywood studios was actually really good - it was all still very Disney ish but themed on old movies so there was loads to do and see plus I met Mike and Sully! At the end of the day we went to see an AMAZING show where they somehow managed to play clips of films onto mist with fireworks and mickey mouse running around. So exciting!
I don't want to be boring so I won't spend ages waffling on about our return trip to Universal. I will say that I got a gryffindor top and pyjama bottoms and was a right geek all day long. And also a toilet flushed twice while I was on it. Blooming plumbing.
After all that excitement I was quite depressed about leaving Orlando, and I don't think it was helped by how absolutely knackered we were after walking around for 12 hours at a time, four days in a row! Yesterday we drove from miami to Florida Keys and basked in the ridiculous sun, it was like an oven! Nice to get the last bit of sun before returning to the beautiful weather in England! Of course sean turned a pretty shade of pink and matches my new Minnie mouse toy.
So, we have now driven 6 and a half thousand miles and have started to head back up north towards new york and home! We have one theme park left and about another 2000 miles, and then it will be back to reality with a bump, I can't wait for some baked beans and a proper cup of tea though!
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Hello from Florida this time! I was going to blog on Monday but I discovered a Kentucky fried chicken buffet and after that I just had to go and die quietly in a corner. I've recovered now though and am ready to update you all with my latest adventures.
So last Monday was our first day at Yellowstone. I've done a lot of documentary watching on the subject so was ridiculously excited, and definitely not disappointed! It was amazing. We had been in the park all of 10 minutes before we saw our first bison (I still want one for transportation) and its nothing like being at the zoo because these are wild animals, there is no fence between you and them and its so scary, but good scary! Our hotel was a 100 year old multistory log cabin, complete with real bear and beaver skins on the wall and to get to our room you had to walk between a moose head and an elk head! I went to sleep that night with the thought in my head that if a bear fancied it he could be standing right outside our window! The next day was even more exciting as not only did we explore all the geothermal activity we could dream of (including seeing old faithful erupt) but we also saw a wild and dangerous... CHIPMUNK. Oh and did I mention the bear and coyote as well? WILD ones! I could have been eaten at any moment but I am a survival expert and so stayed safely in the car. Took lots of photographs though! We both agreed that a highlight of the trip was getting surrounded by a herd of bison on the road (they were about the same size as our car!) It was terrifying but such an adrenaline rush.
Unfortunately for me, toilet dramas seem to have found me again. It all started when I locked myself OUT of the bathroom at the hotel in Yellowstone. Which you wouldn't think would be annoying except that all my toiletries were IN the bathroom waiting for me to use them. All I did was pull the door closed behind me when I nipped back to the room for something, as I didn't want any dodgy characters nicking my neutrogena, apparently in America closing a door means you want to lock it! I rattled the door a few times, stared at it, said a rude word at it but nothing would work. Got halfway downstairs to reception while trying to wok out how not to make myself sound stupid when I remembered the room key in my pocket. Seemed like a long shot to use my room key on a public bathroom but I was desperate. Sure enough, open it popped and there was my shampoo. If only this was the end of my troubles. The next day we treated ourselves to a Chinese for dinner and were seated on the same table as an angry looking French family. Popped to the bathroom and before I knew what was happening the little french girl and her mum had opened the door and were staring at me with open mouths. So apparently not ALL the locks in America are as efficient as in the hotel. It would have been awkward enough but the door to the ladies was right next to the door to the kitchen. Poor waiters. Had to then listen to the girl laughing while I finished AND sit and eat my dinner at the same table as them.
After all that excitement we had a few days with a lot of driving to do. We had a brief stop at mount Rushmore which was impressive except for the multistory car park they've built right in front of it! Then our next real stop was Chicago. This was our first big eastern city and I though it had a lot more character than LA. I liked it, especially the angry traffic directors that stand in the middle of intersections with nothing but a whistle and scream at you! On Sunday we went to watch the Chicago Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball). Cue an angry man with a whistle telling you which bus to get on. The baseball was so much fun! On the way in we saw a bride and groom getting their wedding pics done - whatever floats your boat! We had a hotdog and pretended to sing along to 'God bless America' and 'star spangled banner' but we cheered for real when we scored a home run (sean actually lost concentration and cheered when the other team scored a home run but luckily no one heard). I did enjoy it, and definitely felt like we'd got our money's worth as the game lasted four hours and four minutes! Since then we have been heading south towards Florida. We have already driven well over 5000 miles in the 3 and a half weeks we've been in the USA so are pretty tired! Staying in Florida for a while though so hopefully will recover!
Hope everyone is getting excited for our return, I know I am!
Monday, 10 September 2012
Well I did promise I would do these every week, I have even put a reminder in my diary so that I actually notice when a week has gone past!
After Vegas we headed to a place called flagstaff, via the Hoover dam which was really impressive. Saw lots of lightning and rain on the way in which was quite exciting as it had just been so unbelievably hot in Vegas and LA. Our room in flagstaff was... unique. There was a slight smell we couldn't quite put our fingers on (and probably didn't want to) and a man walking two huge Rottweilers up and down the car park the whole time we were there! We used flagstaff as a base to visit the grand canyon which again was very impressive. There is just so much SPACE in this country! We walked right along the edge of the canyon and even saw some elk. Sean was a bit annoyed that it wasn't sunny but it made the heat a lot more bearable to be honest!
The next day we set off again for a very long and very very scenic drive to monument valley (some of you may have seen the picture sean posted on facebook of the view from the road) which was exactly the scene you would picture if someone said American road trip! After that we drove to a place called four corners which is where four different states meet (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado - check out my geography skills!) So you can stand in four states at once! Very cool. From there we went right into the middle of nowhere and stayed in a place called Monticello. This is near canyonlands which is another national park and which was really amazing. We went for a hike in here and the views from every direction were just ridiculous - I'm worried I will find England very boring to look at when I get back! I did think we were going to die at one point though as they only mark the 'trail' with little piles of stones here and there and there is no other sign you're where you are supposed to be. Fine except that some of the piles of stone had fallen over in the wind. So we obviously missed one or it wasn't there but either way we ended up roaming around in the desert for a while totally lost and quite worried. Eventually found the road except we were on the wrong side of a valley! We did make it back in one piece though. Just about. The next day we went to look at more rocks in Arches national park which was probably the most spectacular yet for me. Kept expecting to see road runner being chased by Wiley coyote appearing round the corner! Another absolutely baking day.
We spent the night in the town that time forgot aka green river. When I tried to Google green river the only result it came up with was 'green river killer'. Yikes. Luckily we were only there one night, although after driving through the town (which took under 1.5 minutes I timed it) I found it hard to understand how 71 girls were murdered without anyone noticing. I don't think there were even that many people living there. From there we drove to Salt Lake City for a couple of days of much needed laziness. The mall here is the most beautiful mall I have ever seen...it has a retractable roof and streams with fish in them! I bought myself some treats for when we get back home so I don't look like such a scruffbag. Bargains all over the place! The good news is that because it is a big city there is actually a choice of food here, so we had Vietnamese food the first night and Chinese the second. Hello vegetables, even if you are fried at least I remember what you look like now! We climbed to the top of ensign peak and were rewarded with a brilliant view of the city and the salt flats and looked at the state capital building. More importantly though... I've been make up shopping! I am not going to wear any of it until I get back as I promised but its so cheap here! Just to make people jealous, when I got back I added up on the boots website how much my little collection would cost me in the uk... £94. I paid £49!!!!! I may need to visit America more often in the future!
On that note I best go as we have places to be!
Lots of love
Monday, 3 September 2012
Howdy! (Sorry I've been watching toy story 2!)
I am going to have to do these blogs a lot more often as we are literally doing stuff every single day. I will try to keep them interesting for everyone and not waffle on too much. Los Angeles was fab, although one thing that I just could not get over was the TRAFFIC. Every road we went on was about 5 lanes wide each way, and still absolutely packed with lone drivers in the hugest cars I have ever seen. Indicating is not too popular either but lane changing is so there were some hairy moments. On Monday we went to 6 flags magic mountain which is like Disneyland for sean. He was so excited, he had a huge grin on his face all day. The rides were all HUGE and so so tall. Some of them were so intense that I actually lost my vision in places which was a bit disconcerting but overall it was really good.
The day after that we went to Hollywood boulevard and did all the proper touristy things like sticking our hands into famous peoples hand prints at the Chinese theatre which was really brilliant except that it was so hot that the floor burnt if you actually touched it (which was proved again later when we saw a group of girls carrying their dog as he wouldn't walk on the pavement because of the heat. Or maybe he was embarrassed because he'd had his toenails painted bright pink - I'm not joking). We walked along and looked at the stars but it was difficult to stop and stare as there are lots of people going about their daily lives who keep walking even if you stop! After that we went up to Griffith's observatory where you can see alllllllll of LA. Its pretty flipping big I can tell you, and totally covered with a thick layer of smog even on a clear day which isn't that surprising. From there we also got a good view of the Hollywood sign which was very exciting!
The next day was super duper exciting as it was my first visit to Disneyland! I was squeaking as we went in and I did not know where to look first! It was AMAZING. I met all my favourites and made friends with them all, went on space mountain twice and nearly cried when they did the fireworks at the end. We were there 12 hours and I didn't want to go home but I was comforted by the fact that we are going again when we get to Florida. I cannot wait!
On Friday we drove through a ridiculous amount of desert (stopping at a diner which looked like something out of a horror movie where you shout 'get back in the car' but made the biggest hot dog I have ever seen in my life). We stayed our first night at the stratosphere and went up 900ft to get amazing views of Vegas. Driving up the strip was incredible, everything here is ENORMOUS. Hotels like Excalibur are made out of 30 story high castles and new York new York has an actual statue of liberty and a Brooklyn bridge stuck on the front. We walked along just staring for about 3 hours, plus watched the bellagio fountains which were amazing. Next day we tried a buffet. Oh my gosh. I thought we ate a lot but we're basically anorexic in this country. We saw one man with such a big plate that we thought he'd picked stuff up for his whole family, but no, it was his SIDE PLATE. After that we went to the aquarium the Mandalay bay hotel (where else would you put an aquarium). The size of these places is difficult to explain. Then, in the evening it was to the MGM grand to see Cirque du soleil. It was gorgeous, and so clever the way they make the scenery. Man flying around on a ribbon scared me though as he was wearing a very small pink thong which I just wasn't sure was necessary! Yesterday we went to Caesar's palace where I pined at the louboutin shop and we played the slots ($1 each and we didn't win). Saw a man just grab $1000 out his wallet and start betting. Wish I had that kind of money to throw away! We also went to the adventuredome, a theme park INSIDE a hotel. Was so tacky we loved it! Won some little baby shreks so I was chuffed. After THAT we went to the mirage to see Siegfried and Roy's secret garden. A dolphin pool and collection of white tigers and a white lion INSIDE THE HOTEL. See what I mean about this place being excessive?! Last night we went to the tournament of kings, where you get a 3 course meal while watching a medieval tournament complete with horses, jousting, dragons and indoor fireworks. I ate a whole chicken with my hands as you didn't have cutlery in those days. It was inside a hotel in case you were wondering, and sooo much fun. At first we felt a bit too British to be whooping and banging on the table etc but its infectious and before long we were the loudest ones there! Had so much fun!
Well that's about where we're up to. Sorry if its been a bit long but I havent even told you all of it!
Lots of love, less than 6 weeks left!
Sunday, 26 August 2012
Yo yo yo! Its been a whole nother country since I last blogged but here I am in the city of angels! However, this episode is mostly concerned with the delights of Fiji. The flight there was pretty grotty, very hot and busy as it was one of those double decker planes (we were downstairs with the riff raff though) and the little screens that I love so much didn't even work. Needless to say after that I wasn't looking forward to the 10 hour flight to LA.
Anyway we arrived at our resort with no problems after feeling like we had returned to Asia in the heat and with the questionable driving methods. Thought I saw a dark shape dart into the bushes as we walked down for dinner but put it down to being tired. Restaurant was okay, nice food and good service, although we did have to get used to what we now know as 'island time'. We often played a game of timing how long it took to get a menu, then how long until our order was taken etc. The record was an overall time of nearly 2 hours to get lunch. It may not sound fun but it kept us entertained. On Monday it was my birthday, but as we had said we'd have a nice chilled out time it was a lazy day with a cocktail or two. It was a lovely day but it made me miss home as I'm used to seeing everyone on my birthday! We had decided to stay in one place rather than island hopping as the whole point of our visit to Fiji was to be beach bums and do nothing at all to prepare for our hectic trip across America.
Anyway, the whole trip was lovely and lazy except for a few stressful times... remember that dark shape I'd seen on the first night?! Turns out that when night comes and the sprinklers switch on, our resort is also a well known meeting place for the island frog Mafia. Im not sure if its public knowledge but I really really do not like frogs, and every night there would be about 3 just sitting waiting for us between the pathway and our front door. They definitely planned it, and it all culminated when there was one so fat and stubborn that no matter what we tried it would not move. Sean ended up throwing a pebble at its head which echoed with a surprisingly loud clunk and then the frog finally got the hint and hopped off to its lair.
The only other dramatic thing of note that occurred over the last week was a really weird confrontation, which baffled me for a long time after. We had been sitting by the pool all morning and popped for lunch, leaving our bits and bobs on our loungers (as you do). When we walked back over to our beds less than an hour later, we were pretty surprised to see a middle aged Russian man and a very young pretty Thai girl sitting on them. Just to clarify, there were only about 4 other people anywhere else in sight and about 20 free beds. The girl had moved Sean's stuff to an alternative bed, but the man had just made himself right at home on my towel! We went over and I told him it was my stuff to which he replied 'yes?' and stared at me like I was a moron. Sean got the same response from the girl and meanwhile the bloke was having a nice lie down on my towel - gross! But he would not move, so in the end I had to try and get my towel out from underneath the quite substantial man! It must have looked ridiculous, me basically wrestling with him to get my towel when every other bed around was free. In the end my superior muscle won, which rewarded me with a very dirty look. What baffled me was firstly why sit there out of all the available beds, secondly WHY would a well off man want my ratty towel which has been round the world with me?!!! Its a mystery that I will never understand I think.
Anyway, other than these distressing events, Fiji was beautiful and very relaxing just as we'd hoped. We left on Sunday evening and had a 10 hour flight and landed...on Sunday afternoon. Very confusing as I am now behind England instead of in front as I have been. So far USA seems fab, everywhere you look there are food outlets, and I mean EVERYWHERE. our hire car is very swish after Ron the Mitsubishi and we went to our first mall today where the clothes were soooo cheap. Managed to resist but have got big plans for our last few days in New York!
Anyway its bed time for me, its been Sunday for 43 hours for me and there is lots to do tomorrow! More on that next time....
See you all in seven weeks!
Friday, 17 August 2012
I haven't got much to report since my last update, but am blogging anyway because the day has finally come... we have spent our last day in New Zealand. It seems suitable to write from this amazing country one last time before I get tangled up in all the new adventures that are waiting for me!
Since last writing we have had a massive bit of luck and been able to sell our beloved Mitsubishi, Ronald. We sold him for the exact same price we bought him for 4 months ago, and have only spent a bit on some new tyres so we were made up when we basically got our money back! Have already booked a show in Vegas to celebrate and treat ourselves. The other highlight (aside from a few bikini sales) was our visit to cathedral cove, which is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen and also happens to be where they chose to film Narnia (anyone spotting a theme with my choices of tourist attraction?). So this week I have been to the Shire AND Narnia, my life is literally complete.
Was on Skype the other day in the hostel to alic and ant. Just a normal Thursday 8am, we were laughing and chatting away when very suddenly there was an enormous pink fish held up between me and my webcam and all I could hear was laughter... Grant, one of the permanent residents had been given some freshly caught snapper and was keen to show me. He has a heart of gold but not the most ideal timing skills and was apparently so chuffed that he just couldn't wait until I was off the PC. I think alic and ant assumed I knew what was going on so went along with it, until grant left and I assured them I was as baffled as them about the origins of the fish and the reason it had made it onto Skype. The entire scenario was then repeated when he had filleted the fish and came back. Then wandered off leaving me with the fish on my keyboard! I did go traveling for new experiences and this was definitely one of them.
We got to Auckland this afternoon and had a little stroll around and stuffed ourselves with Asian food while we can get it. Now we are sitting in our room wishing time would hurry up as we are so excited for the next chapter. New Zealand has definitely been the most stunning country so far, and has come to feel like home. I think I might be a bit of a country bumpkin when I get home, I actually saw a cow being born today!! I'm sure a few trips to Oxford street will sort me right out though.
So there you have it, my time as a hobbit is officially at an end. I am pretty sad but have promised myself I will be back, plus its hard to feel too sorry for myself when we will be jetting off to Fiji tomorrow!
I will leave you with that envy causing thought, and who knows where I'll be next time I write. One thing is for sure though I will be officially on my way home!
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Well, this is going to be an embarrassingly long blog as its been about 7 years since I did the last one, a fact I only realised yesterday. So where was I ... oh yes Milford Sound had been amazing and the west coast was just waiting to be discovered. First stop was the Fox Glacier. Like the mints. Now I am experienced in glaciers, having already seen a grand total of 1, but this was pretty impressive nonetheless. You could pay hundreds of dollars to be led there by a guide or just walk there for yourselves so we did that! Even better, we discovered a secret trail that led to a lookout which overlooked the entire valley an glacier. It was a bit more impressive from up there anyway, and like nothing I've ever seen before.
From there we went to see the next glacier, Franz Josef. Not sure what kind of mint that one was named after, but it was equally impressive. There was a sign to show how far it has receded in the last hundred years, and the difference was huge. Luckily we discovered 'glacier pasties which helped us get over the shock. Weather was beautiful and we ended up playing scrabble and drinking beer in the sun. Was going brilliantly until I discovered that the sandfly population had set up a drive thru on my feet. Bad times. And about to get worse...
Had 2 more stops on the south island which were both lovely towns but less than impressive fellow hostel guests. In the first we met a 60 year old from Preston who told us where we could 'score some weed and used f and c words all over the place. In the second we seemed to have stumbled into a Mafia sort of set up and were not welcomed because we were not German or Chinese (that may be a guess..). Either way, I will say this for the south island, they have public toilets EVERYWHERE. Was suitably( impressed due to being the owner of the smallest bladder in the world.
We returned to Wellington last Monday and I was reunited briefly with my favourites from inland revenue. Was weird to be back in Welly and staying in a hostel! We stayed long enough for Ron to (somehow) pass the equivalent of an MOT and then were on our way to see what had north island had in store for us. First stop was Ohakune and a lodge called the hobbit. You can't imagine how happy I was about the hot tub until you have gone 6 months without a bath! (I have been showering just to clarify...) then we went exploring mount ruapehu (aka Mordor). Didn't find any orcs, just lots of rich people skiing. Our first sight of snow though and it was pretty impressive. Not sure if its been in the news back home but mount tongariro which has been dormant for over a century erupted the day we got to... tongariro national park. Talk about timing! Didn't see anything though not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. We also stayed in lake Taupo and saw yet more new sights, just when I thought NZ was running out of ideas. Saw some amazing bright blue rapids at Huka falls and discovered an alarming amount of geothermal activity including steam pouring out of craters in the ground and mud bubbling and hissing at us. I felt like we were in Jurassic park! Less dinosaurs mind you. Cost us about £3 to get in and well worth it! Especially when we got to Rotorua (smells like eggs) and it cost about £40 to get into a similar attraction. We are cunning little people though so we walked to the top of the redwood forest right behind the attraction and watched the geyser for free! Muahahaha.
Only one more thing to tell you about then I promise I'll stop...yesterday I finally made it to HOBBITON!!! It was every bit as good as I hoped, someone had even left the door open for me at bag end. I had to be dragged away as everytime you look you just see more and more detail. It was like all the hobbits were out for the day and would be back later. Very glad I didn't come a few years ago before they had rebuilt it all for the hobbit. My life ambition to go to the shire is now complete.
We are now in Whitianga with only a week left in NZ. Just watching the diving and planning to get up early to watch the spice girls do the closing ceremony tomorrow morning. Will try not to leave it so long until I write again, and Janine... I have no idea how to change the font on this thing I'm sorry!
With lots of love from the sunny east coast, plus lots of national pride at the moment.
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Monday, 30 July 2012
Look how good I am! Only a week since my last blog! I spoil you people.
On Monday we arrived in Arrowtown, a 20 minute drive from Queenstown. We had arranged to stay with a couple called Alf and Louise who put us up and fed us for a week in return for us doing some work for them. They were LOVELY. fed us a ridiculous amount and kept telling us we had done too much work and should finish for the day and make the most of our holiday! We worked on their vines for them for the majority of the week, roses the rest, so I am now adept at pruning - that's going on my CV. Arrowtown is an old gold mining village so we went an explored that one afternoon, and Alf and Louise's house overlooked Lake Hayes so we walked all round that a few times in the gorgeous sunshine. On Thursday we treated ourselves to a little adventure and went horse riding in a place called paradise (did I mention they filmed several lord of the rings scenes there? And a little film called the hobbit? Purely a coincidence of course.) It was a very new experience for both of us but luckily my horse, Monty knew much more about it than I did so I left him to it. I did have to get my stirrups shortened as small as they will go though, but at least I got ON.
Continuing with the theme of new experiences we tried something else new on Friday morning and jumped out of an aeroplane. Did not tell parents until after, although did spend the night before writing my will. I joke. Wasn't actually scared, but I think this is more due to it not sinking in until I was in a harness strapped to a 6 foot Dutch man hanging out the side of the plane. Was COLD. Moving at 200 kmph made my podgy little cheeks very chilly, and I could feel them flapping around with the force. Not sure if the video will be going public as its not my best look. Felt quite ill for the rest of the day, that's intense motion sickness! Views by themselves were worth it though... mountains EVERYWHERE.
We left Arrowtown on Sunday and drove to Milford Sound. Its another very remote location, there is only one tunnel as the sole way to get in. Very beautiful though. Checked in and I did what I do best: napped. Man in our dorm told me I wouldn't sleep that night. Fell asleep at 10 woke up at 830 next morning. That showed him. Went on a boat trip through the Sound and picked up a bottle nosed dolphin tag along, which swam alongside us for a good 15 minutes (and another several thousand pictures). So beautiful. This place is the furthest south we will be, in terms of distance when we leave here we will effectively be on our way home! Its been more than 6 months since we left, but I'm sure you all know that and are counting the days until I get back. Well some of you anyway I hope!
Let me know if anyone wins any medals, I'll be finding glaciers on the west coast!
PS I think I've managed to attach a pic of my daring feat for those who dont have Facebook!
Monday, 23 July 2012
I dont know why this always happens, but every time I write a blog, something really exciting happens the day AFTER so I end up having to write it down so I dont forget! The day after I wrote my last blog, we experienced our first ever earthquake! About 10 in the evening I was just telling sean something riveting that had happened at work when I heard a funny crunching noise. Thought it was the neighbors moving furniture around again so carried on with my story until sean eventually grabbed my arm and shouted 'morgan there's an EARTHQUAKE '. That's when I realised... it was an earthquake. Felt like we were on some kind of conveyor belt rolling up and down, but then the walls started to bend and then it was pretty frightening. Watched the news straight away and they said it was 6.3 so obviously got straight on Facebook to tell everyone. So annoyed when they changed it to 7 and I'd already done my status. It was definitely not an experience I'd like to repeat any time soon!
We both finished work on 6th July and I was much sadder to leave than I expected. Who would have thought I'd have so much fun working at inland revenue! Spent the weekend packing, organising and watching harry potter films, and finally our last day in Welly arrived. Sean sold his guitar and we got the deposit back on our flat and then we were off on the ferry, two unemployed hippies again.
First stop on our adventures was kaikoura, a place well known for whalewatching. We didn't get off the ferry until dark so the journey there was a bit dull! When morning came though we could see that its a really gorgeous place, with big mountains going right down to the sea. The morning was spent out at sea, where we managed to see 4 sperm whales and get surrounded by about 200 dolphins which was one of the highlights of the trip so far. Next time I get near a PC you'll all be in for a treat when I upload the 7000 pictures I took of what basically looks like a rock in the sea.
That night was full of drama as a middle aged European woman checked into our lovely quiet little hostel and started screaming at everyone from 8pm onwards that she was trying to sleep. Just to illustrate, it was so quiet that she heard me drop my book on the floor at 850 and she screeched through the wall that I had woken her up. She then woke everyone at 7am the next morning yelling and THEN walked into our private room and woke him up to ask if we would take her to Christchurch with us. Sean told her to ask me. Computer says no.
Next stop on our whirlwind tour was Christchurch, via Hanmer Springs which is famous for its thermal pools. To be nice we gave two backpackers a lift there for free. It was lovely, bloody freezing running between hot pools out doors in a snowy mountain village, but gorgeous when you were in (minus the slight distraction of the strange man asking bikini clad girls to pull his finger...no not sean). Then onwards to chch.
Bit of background info at this point: about 2 years ago there was a massive earthquake that destroyed a lot of chch. We thought that maybe there would be the odd building that they hadn't quite got round to fixing yet, so nothing prepared us for the shock of driving into the centre of this city and finding it deserted. Big wire fences stop you walking into areas that are unsafe, but this is actually a massive area. Sides or fronts of buildings are just gone with broken glass still in the windows. Small businesses like family restaurants still have the open sign on the door and furniture laid out for business, and it makes you realise how much people lost. Its like that scene in 28 days later.
The next place we visited was called mount Potts lodge, a sheep station in literally the middle of nowhere. Why? Well they filmed edoras (two towers) there so obviously I had to go! So remote that they've got no phone signal or anything so I embraced being a country bumpkin for a week. We painted lots of buildings, bottle fed baby goats (sean managed to get covered in goat poo during this venture while I remained immaculate) and I looked after a lovely little boy called Archie who has informed me that sean is my dad and Archie is in fact my boyfriend. Sean didn't seem too fussed about this. Managed to sneak onto a tour of mount Sunday for free (everyone else there paid $240) and sniggered at all the geeks while correcting the tour guides lord of the rings knowledge. I dont think we were very popular as a result, the only person who spoke to me started a conversation about artificial insemination in cows. All in all was a brilliant week, although I think I can now confirm that I would not make a good farmers wife and that I am not ready for children!
Left the station in Sunday and headed to Twizel, via a fair few breathtaking lakes, mountains and eventually a glacier. For now I will leave this blog here, I would hate to run out of things to say in the next instalment!
Hope its stopped raining, weather here is fab!