New Zealand summer spritzer.
new zealand, travel

All about New Zealand food, sort of.

Being back from our New Zealand trip for a week, there have been two recurring questions from friends, family, colleagues and strangers — just kidding, I haven’t gone around pushing my NZ travel stories on strangers, yet! — which have been:

  1. What was your favorite thing about the country? (Or, a similar question like “What did you like most about the trip?”)
  2. What is the food like?

Both good questions and what I’d ask a friend coming back from another country.

And, I’m going to start with food, because it’s obviously the most important thing about a vacation!

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So, what “New Zealand food” did I eat? Well, not to disappoint you but “New Zealand food” is pretty much just like Western food you’d find in like, uh, the U.S.

I actually just did a Google search on “New Zealand food” and the top results don’t apply to me because I am a pescatarian. (Yeah, I guess I miss out on a lot of new food opportunities from not eating meat … oh, well!) The internet says roasted lamb, Maori hangi (this contains meat), crayfish and fish & chips are foods visitors must have while visiting the Kiwis.

New Zealand Fish Market

Bryce and I did share a good plate of fish and chips from the Fish Market in Auckland on our first full day in New Zealand. So, I guess I didn’t totally miss the mark on “eating right in New Zealand.” We did come across crayfish in the beach towns we stopped through but crayfish is kind of like lobster and I’m not a huge lobster fan so we skipped it.

One thing none of those “top eats in New Zealand” will include is the truth about what you will actually eat while road tripping through New Zealand. 

Any guesses out there?

Kiwi fruit?

No.

Fast food?

Maybe for some people, but not us.

It’s Indian food!

Indian food in New Zealand.

Our entire trip was 18.5 days so we did a lot of driving to explore as much of the North Island and South Island as possible. Often we found ourselves driving through very small to medium-sized towns looking for lunch or dinner. We never expected or wanted anything fancy but all the cafes closed between 3 to 4:30 pm, which was unusual for us since the cafes back home in Seattle are usually open until 6 pm.

But, we could always find and count on an Indian restaurant to be open and serving food until  9 pm — or, sometimes their signs just said “closes late.”

We ate Indian food four times in the 2.5 weeks we were there and it was tasty and accompanied but good service every time! Another cuisine we had often was Thai. If there wasn’t an Indian restaurant available in the town we were in, there was sure to be a Thai restaurant!

Coming from Seattle where we have a lot of fantastic Asian cuisine, including lots of great Indian and Thai restaurants, I definitely didn’t think we would be eating this type of food in New Zealand.

Funny how we traveled 7,000 miles to eat food that made me feel like I was at home!

Whitebait sammie in New Zealand.

In addition to the Indian and Thai food, we consumed a lot of good New Zealand cheese and wine. (Our hotels and Airbnb hosts were so nice in gifting us a bottle of local sparkling wine or champagne since we were on our honeymoon). We were also able to enjoy some very tasty no-frill “whitebait sammies” and Maori fry-bread sandwiches!

Don’t get me wrong, we also ate tasty salads, quiches, meat pies for Bryce, and other cuisines such as Japanese and Turkish when we were in the big cities.

I am also very impressed with New Zealand’s ice cream — so much that I am devoting another post just for that!

What interesting or surprising foods have you had while traveling?

travel

2018 travel year in review

Kayaking in Alaska.
Third trip to Alaska. First time kayaking!

Prior to the inception of this blog a month ago, a lot of traveling has occurred! Here is a little round-up of my 2018 adventures.

  • Japan (January) — I literally rung in the new year in Kamakura, Japan, where my grandma lives. Bryce, my mom and I walked to a nearby temple and rang a giant a bell while the temple monks chanted. The bell is rung a total of 108 times by temple visitors to signify getting rid of 108 human sins, according to Buddhist belief.
  • Portland, Oregon (February) — Spent a weekend in Seattle’s rival city, also known as the Rose City. Bryce and I ate lots of good food in Portland — I had Puerto Rican food for the first time! — and met baby Lincoln, a baby sea otter at the Oregon Zoo. It was a snowy weekend but that didn’t stop us!
  • Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona (May) — Finally saw the Grand Canyon in person! This is one of those national parks that you hear and see pictures of all the time as a kid, and I have always wanted to see it for myself. Bryce and I flew into Phoenix and drove north through Sedona first and stopped in Flagstaff. The second day was spent hiking at the Grand Canyon before driving in the evening to Las Vegas (where we flew out of back to Seattle). It was the busiest and best 50 hours.
  • Disneyland, Anaheim, California (June) — When my pretty annual jaunt to Disneyland coincided with my bachelorette party.
  • Richmond, Canada (June) — Spent a day-and-a-half in Richmond with my family to explore the Richmond Night Market for the first time. There are lots of food vendors but also lots of crowds. It was fun to go once, but I don’t think I’d go again.
  • Whidbey Island, Washington (July) — OK, this is near home but you didn’t think I would neglect my wedding day on my year recap, right?? I’ve been to Whidbey numerous times since I was a kid and have always enjoyed exploring the beaches and bluffs. The towns are quaint and the people nice. Also, now I know it’s a great place to get married!
  • North Cascades to Canada road trip (July) — The weekend after our wedding, we spent a long weekend road tripping up to the North Cascades where we did one of my most favorite hikes. (Well, I had never done it before, so now it is one of my most favorites!) Then drove up to Kelowna, Canada and spent some time there mountain biking and eating. Our final stop was to Vancouver, Canada, where we ate some more and went to the Vancouver Aquarium to visit the sea otters.
  • Olympic Peninsula, Washington (August) — Despite the rain and grey, we drove to the coast where we visited Rialto Beach and saw many sea otters in the wild! We camped outside of the Hoh Rain Forest and then did a hike in the rain forest. It’s about a four-hour drive from Seattle, but totally worth it. I’m a city girl, and always will be, but there’s something about being out in a forest away from people that’s really good for the soul.
  • Wasilla, Alaska (September) — Bryce and I visited his mom over Labor Day weekend. I kayaked for the first time! And, was introduced to the Alaska State Fair …
  • Calí, Colombia (December) — Visited Bryce’s grandma and aunt for Christmas. This was my first time in Colombia (and South America in general!) It was weird to have a “hot Christmas” but a wonderful time meeting and spending time with new family while exploring a vibrant city.
Grand Canyon National Park
First time at the Grand Canyon!

With getting married this year, I sort of forgot that I still took quite a few trips throughout the year. I honestly almost forgot about the Grand Canyon trip before I searched through my phone at old photos — even though this was one of my favorite trips from the year! Ah, I guess I can’t play favorites, Colombia is high on the list, too! Funny how time can be …

What are your highlights from 2018 travels?

colombia, travel

Travel blogging while traveling

How do you do it? Travel blog while traveling?

Even on days when we aren’t out doing things all day, I am either too tired, eating or spending time with family (as this trip to Colombia was to mainly visit Bryce’s grandma).

So, how do you make time to blog while traveling? Do you just jot down notes and write posts when you are back home? Do you just “make the time” while traveling and crank out posts instead of sleeping? Do you do something in between the two? Or, something else?

This newbie travel blogger would like to know your secret!

I know there is no right or wrong answer, but it was something that I was thinking about as the days quickly have passed by and I have not written a new post.

And, while I’m here I guess I’ll give you a few Colombia travel updates:

  • The fruits and plants here are amazing! Both to look at and eat. I could eat avocados every day.
  • The people here are so nice and welcoming.
  • I have about a dozen mosquito bites — per leg.
  • Despite being only three hours ahead of home (Seattle), I feel like my sleep schedule is waaayyy off. But, I’m really “only” in East Coast time right now!

More things to say but I’ll probably have to write it all after the trip, as we are getting close to our departure … sigh …

seattle

Being a holiday tourist in your hometown

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Me, a little scared of fake Santa.

A few weeks ago if you had asked me if I had done any “Christmas activities” my answer would have been “no” followed by a long sigh. (I love Christmas and everything about the holiday season — with a hard exception for eggnog).

To make sure I efficiently and effectively got into the Christmas spirit, I changed that a week ago.

Phyllis and I postponed our holiday of fun to holiday afternoon tea at Queen Mary Tea in North Seattle. Why afternoon tea?

We decided on afternoon tea at this specific location because of their holiday decor and atmosphere. And, secondly, we both love tea. (Also, I’ve never been to a proper high or afternoon tea!)

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Phyllis with all the treats and tea.

It did not disappoint. There were more nutcrackers and Santa Claus’s than I could count! Even the sugar bowl had red and green sprinkles in it! I had a white chai tea and Phyllis a hazelnut tea as we stuffed ourselves with sweet and savory treats.

At one point, the owner came by our table and asked us if we’d like to try “Christmas cookie” as she stood holding a tray of what did not look like Christmas cookies. Phyllis and I sort of starred blankly at her. I was trying to make sense of what she had just asked us. I looked at the tray again and thought maybe the little cups with what looked like liquid in them were jello shots? Christmas jello shots doesn’t seem like an afternoon tea thing, I told myself before saying anything aloud.

“Christmas cookie — it’s one of our seasonal teas,” she said, since Phyllis and I still hadn’t said anything.

“OHHHH.” we both replied in unison as we each reached for the small tea sample.

As the woman walked away we both bursted out laughing.

“I had no idea what she was talking about at first!” I said.

“ME TOO!” Phyllis replied.

I guess this is one reason we are such good friends — when we hear “cookie”, we expect to see a a sugary baked good!

Seattle skyline
seattle

Home is where the rain is

I’m from Seattle. 

As the years pass by, this phrase has more and more clout for me.

There is constantly construction going on downtown. More and more transplants arrive in droves to work at Amazon, or the next up and coming start-up. There are just fewer and fewer Seattleites in Seattle. It’s a known fact.

I was born in Seattle. I was raised in Seattle. I attended Seattle Public Schools. Even for college, I didn’t go far. I went to UW. I also currently work for an organization that has “Seattle” in its name … but this is just coincidental. I’m not selecting my place of employment based on its name!

I’m the person who gets annoyed when I hear people say they are from Seattle but really they are from Shoreline, Lynnwood or even Tacoma! This is equivalent to New Yorkers hating it when folks from New Jersey say they are from New York.

I can’t say I love the grey, because I don’t. But, living here for more than 30 years has taught me to love the rain.

Today I walked along Alki in West Seattle and was (again) reminded how special it is here. We have water. We have mountains. And, yeah, we have rain and traffic and roads with potholes that don’t get fixed … but, this city is a special place.

Bryce and I spotted a seal bopping its head up and down along the beach as we walked. We also saw a dolphin (or two?!) out in the distance. It’s no surprise to see wildlife other than seagulls in Puget Sound, but you still get that kid-on-Christmas-day-feeling deep inside when you do.

We were the only ones to spot these friends as other walkers and runners just went on by.

Yes, it was raining. But, it was still magical.

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.