new zealand, pre travel

Off to New Zealand!

I’m a planner.

But, usually my planning tends to stress me out because I get worked up about every little detail.

My husband has taught me that not all things need to be stressed about nor planned to the minute. (Well, it’s something I’m working on).

A week before our honeymoon to New Zealand, we still hadn’t planned out the second half of our travels. So on Tuesday night, we hunkered down and searched for the remaining places to stay, and the route we should visit cities. I also dusted off the Lonely Planet book we had bought several months ago and did more research on exactly what else we wanted to do and see.

We start and end the trip in Auckland but are also driving down to the South Island and back — all in about  2.5 weeks. The South Island portion of the trip was what we needed to iron out.

As we talked through things looking at our map of the country, I paused for a moment and asked “Are we trying to see like all of Oregon and California in a week??”

It was sort of meant as a rhetorical question but Bryce responded that we were trying to fit a lot in during a short period of time. (Now I laugh to think that originally I wanted to go to Australia in the same trip as well! Ha!)

Are we crazy that we won’t be spending more than 2 nights in the same city or town? Are we doing too much? Will there be too much driving?

Maybe.

But, it is our honeymoon. So, we’ll do what we want!

 

[PS – By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be in the air on our way to Auckland. Or, we will already be in New Zealand.]

pre travel

Just like that, from summer to winter

Within a week I went from being in upper 80 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures in Colombia to snowy trails in the Pacific Northwest. Just like that, from summer to winter.

No, it’s not snowing in Seattle.

Yesterday I dragged Bryce with me to go on a “short nature walk” that turned into a five-mile hike.

After all, I do need “to train” for our upcoming trail race in New Zealand. (I’ve put quotation marks around train because I’m a runner who will mostly be walking/hiking said race because I’m injured and am not cleared by PT to start running).

Even though I’ll be walking, I want to be able to enjoy the 8-mile trail race. I don’t want to be sore the rest of the trip because of this fun run!

There was snow throughout most of our hike along the Iron Goat Trail in the Central Cascades. It was a nice change from the hot and humid in Calí. There’s also something nice and magical about snow when it’s in the mountains and not in the city causing horrendous traffic and car accidents.

About five other cars were at the trail head when we arrived so we knew we wouldn’t be alone. However, we didn’t come across anyone else on our entire hike. I guess the others took different paths as there were a few junctions to turn off the main trail.

We only came across the remnants of a snowman — a large pile of snow with two sticks coming out of either end — and two squirrels.

It’s weird to transition to polar opposite climate, as well as returning from one trip just to prepare for the next in the same month. But, I’m not complaining.

I’ll just go from summer to winter back to summer — because it’ll be summer in New Zealand!

pre travel, travel

The canceled flight and the two ships crossing in “the night”

I don’t know what happened to all of my time but the week came to an end and I was scrambling at midnight to pack for my Colombia trip. To clarify, I was packing at midnight for a morning flight where we’d be leaving the house at 4 am!

Trying to find all my summer clothes — since I hadn’t touched any of it in Seattle for several months — I heard Bryce yell in frustration from the living room.

“What’s wrong?” I asked as he starred at his computer screen.

“Our flight just got canceled,” he replied.

“WHAT??” I shouted as suddenly a series of spiraling events started infiltrating my mind. But, then I followed with “Which one?”

After all, we’d be taking four flights to get to Colombia.

Once he explained that it was our first flight — yes, the one that was supposed to start boarding in approximately five hours — and that the airline booked us on another flight two hours after our original scheduled departure, I felt a little better.

We were originally going to have an eight-hour layover in San Francisco where we had planned to go into the city to hangout and grab lunch. Now this time would decrease to six hours. I guess that would be fine.

My dad was going to drive Bryce and I to the airport for our original flight and hang out in the area for a bit to wait for the arrival of relatives who’d be coming into town to spend Christmas with my parents. And now with this shift in flight times, everything may be a bit more convenient for my dad, the family Lyft driver.

I got like two hours of sleep. Woke up around 4 am to touch base with my dad to let him know of the new flight time (as he was obviously asleep when we first learned of the change). Went back to sleep for an hour. And then we headed to the airport around 5:45 am.

Our relatives texted my dad saying that they had landed at the airport as we were on our way there.

“The timing of all of this may be spot on,” my dad said.

And, it was!

As we were literally like two minutes away from the terminal, my uncle texted my dad — whose phone I was managing as my dad drove — and said they had gotten their bags and were waiting at the curb of arrivals.

When my dad pulled up, we all surprised my uncle, aunt and cousin as they were not expecting to see Bryce and I. We gave each other hugs and helped them with their luggage.

“It’s like we’re two ships crossing in the night!” my aunt said.

It was all perfect timing. Despite a brief — no more than four-minute interaction — I was so happy to see my relatives, who I’d be missing with going to Colombia. My family, including my extended relatives, are very close and we usually all spend Christmas together.

Who would have thought that all of this was made possible by a short-notice canceled-flight.

new zealand, pre travel, travel

Why New Zealand?

IMG_1734

I’m not sure when Bryce and I decided to go to New Zealand.

When we got engaged at the end of October 2017, obviously everyone wanted to know the who/what/where/whens of the wedding. I more so wanted to get planning on the honeymoon.

Once we had the venue locked down, I made sure to constantly bring up conversations on where we would honeymoon.

It wasn’t that hard picking New Zealand. Our main criteria for our destination was to go somewhere international that neither one of us had ever been to. We also wanted some place where there would be lots of options for outdoor activities and being in nature.

New Zealand naturally came up as a good choice.

I think our conversation went something easy like this:

Kristin: I want to go to Greece … or New Zealand.
Bryce: Let’s go to New Zealand. 
K: Yes! Should we go to Australia and New Zealand?
B: We’ll only have time for New Zealand. 
K: OK, New Zealand it is! 

Whenever it comes up in conversation that I am going to New Zealand, or when someone asks me where we went/are going on our honeymoon, the same question always comes up: Why New Zealand?

Bryce says he gets the same first question among his friends and colleagues.

I’m assuming people ask because from Seattle, it’s so far away and takes “forever” to get to. I’m also guessing people ask because maybe if people were to choose between Australia and New Zealand, they’d pick Australia?

Would we be getting the same question had we picked Mexico? Or, Greece? Or, somewhere in Europe?

I want to know “Why ‘Why New Zealand?'” 🙂

pre travel

Better now than in New Zealand!

I caught a cold last week that really knocked me out. It started somewhat slowly — and progressively got worse.

Last Friday Phyllis and I were supposed to do afternoon tea and walk around downtown Seattle and see the gingerbread houses at the Sheraton and look at Pike Place Market all decked out in its holiday decor. It’s normal to coordinate a day off with your best friend months in advance to do Christmas-y things together, right? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Unfortunately, none of that happened because she and I were both sick! A fun day off turned into a sick day. Neither of us could even muster up the energy to drive to the other’s place to sit and watch Christmas movies together.

North Cascades
Non-sick times in the North Cascades of Washington state

I ended up napping most of the day.

Why did this have to happen?? We had been looking forward to this FOR MONTHS!

I was being a tad dramatic that night.

“Better now than in New Zealand!” Bryce replied. “Or, better now than in Colombia!”

He had a point. Being sick during a vacation is a pretty unfortunate thing to happen. You don’t have time to be sick when you’re supposed to be taking in new sights and exploring!

I guess if I can get this cold out of my system now and not catch anything new, I’ll be a happy traveler.

pre travel

So, have you been practicing your Spanish?

Every time I see or talk to my mom — which is at least once a week, if not more — she asks me if I have been practicing my Spanish.

“No, too busy,” I always mumble back.

Bryce and I will be going to Colombia this Christmas to visit his grandma. It’ll be my first trip to Colombia, and South America in general, so I am very excited. (Bonus that we’ll also be away from rainy and cold Seattle!)

It’s no surprise that my mom keeps asking if I have been brushing up on my Spanish. Bryce’s relatives do not speak any English.

I studied Spanish throughout college — fun fact, I was a Spanish major for one quarter when I was forced to declare a major my fall quarter of junior year and had reached all the prerequisites — so you’d think it’d all be OK. I mean, after all, I started learning Spanish in middle school!

Park Güell, Barcelona
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain — Spring 2013, the last time I used my Spanish …

But, I don’t use Spanish in my day-to-day life. Also, since I grew up learning both English and Japanese as a kid, sometimes when I’m searching in the depths of my brain for a word in Spanish, the Japanese equivalent will pop up first.

A few years ago when my cousin Marissa, BFF Phyllis and I were on a flight from Seattle to LA — to go to Disneyland, of course! — there was a woman seated in a middle seat that we wanted to trade seats with. We had an alone aisle seat and thought it would be a good trade to kindly ask for. As soon as we started talking to her, she responded in Spanish that she only spoke Spanish.

I started putting together words to politely ask her, this time in Spanish, if she would be willing to trade seats with us.

“What’s the word for “aisle?” I desperately asked Phyllis, who took some Spanish in grade school. She didn’t know either.

Boarding was pretty much done and my broken Spanish did not translate to the woman.

“It’s OK, I’ll just stay in my seat,” Phyllis said to Marissa and I.

More than eight years of formal Spanish education and I couldn’t even use it in a real life scenario to ask a stranger a simple question! To be fair, this occurred about six years after I graduated (and thus stopped using my Spanish).

So, to avoid an embarrassing situation like this again, any suggestions for a crash-review-course? I’ve done Duolingo before but find the beginning sections super easy. Binge watch Spanish-speaking shows on Netflix? I guess the easiest would be to force Bryce and I to speak Spanish to each other … we’ll see.

new zealand, pre travel, travel

Confirming travel plans from a stranger

Holiday travel can be a fun or stressful time, depending on who you are.

I’ll be traveling during Christmas time and while this trip to Calí, Colombia* is my next upcoming travel, Bryce and I have been more focused on another trip coming up at the end of January.

This one is a trip to New Zealand!

Continue reading “Confirming travel plans from a stranger”