new zealand, travel

Sorry for not writing. Having too much fun in New Zealand!

I know, I know, it’s been weeks since my last post!

I have a good excuse though!

I have been traveling around New Zealand with my husband on our honeymoon!

New Zealand is wonderful. The weather has been great everywhere we have been. It is summer down here after all!

The people are friendly. There is so much to see and do. We’ve seen so much wildlife — it’s magical.

The landscape is beautiful. At times this country feels like parts of the West Coast of the U.S. (even sometimes like my hometown of Seattle!) or like Hawaii. But then there are times when I am in awe and think “I have never been anywhere like this before!”

I have been jotting down notes. I have been snapping photos. You bet I will have the blog posts cranking out on the regular when I am back home.

For now, sending you love from a pretty spectacular part of the world, New Zealand! ❤️

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.]

travel

TSA and the burritos

My parents encouraged Bryce and I to arrive at the airport three hours before our flight to Hawaii (en route to New Zealand).

“With the government shutdown, you just never know!” my mom said. “Sea-Tac seems to be operating normally from what I’ve heard but who knows, maybe the TSA workers will decide on your day of travel to just not show up!”

We arrived about 2.5 hours early — and thankfully there was no line at PreCheck. I guess the sweet spot to fly is 5 pm. Everyone else wants to get a move on in the morning or late at night.

My backpack got searched at security and at first I was a little annoyed that none of the TSA workers bothered to notify me that they were searching it. Isn’t the norm that they ask whose bag it is and then they go through it in front of you?

When I asked why they weren’t searching it in front of me so I could see, one worker replied that “there’s not enough room back here.”

OK, isn’t that why normally you bring the bag closer to where the traveler is awkwardly waiting or standing?

Another worker — different guy from the one who responded to my question — did bring my bag in front of me after the initial rummaging out of my sight and asked if I had food in the bag.

“I’m going to have to look at it,” he said nicely.

When I lifted the brown Chipotle bag out of my backpack to show that there were two burritos inside, he asked for us to peel back the foil.

I obliged.

“Those look like some good burritos!” he said as he told us we were free to go.

I laughed and put the food back in my backpack.

“Well, at least that was quick,” I told Bryce.

He agreed and reminded me that these workers weren’t getting paid at the moment, too.

“Oh, no! I should have been nicer at the beginning when I was giving them a hard time about looking through my bag without me being able to see what was going on!”

I felt a little bad.

Oh, well, at least they didn’t ask to take a bite out of our burritos.

travel

The thing about layovers

On our way to and from Calí, Colombia, one of our layovers was in Panama City. They call themselves the gateway to the Americas, as the airport is a major hub.

I always get a tinge of sadness whenever I have a mere layover in a new city, especially when it it’s in country I’ve never been to.

You don’t have time to leave the airport because you only have a few hours. You get to know that city’s airport’s bathrooms and gate waiting areas. You learn where to find the cheapest meal in said airport. You learn if the airport has good or spotty WiFi.

What cities have I wanted to visit after having a quick airport layover?

When going to New York City during spring break with two of my girlfriends our junior year of college, we had a layover at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. It wasn’t until five years later that I got to visit the windy city. It was to run the Chicago Marathon, so naturally the whole thing was a blur. I really should properly visit Chicago again so I can actually enjoy the city — and remember what I saw!

When I was in elementary school, my mom and younger brother and I had an overnight layover in Seoul, Korea on our way to Japan. We pretty much always fly directly from Seattle to Japan when visiting relatives so this was a new experience. We spent just one night in a nearby hotel and all I remember was that my brother was probably 4 or 5 and fell asleep on the bus ride to the hotel and forgot his backpack on the bus. My mom didn’t realize until the bus had left and she frantically somehow tracked it down. I love Korean food. I think I would like Korea and would love to make more memories of it other than my brother almost losing a backpack.

I have also been to the Amsterdam airport a handful of times to and from various destinations in Europe. I’d like to actually visit Amsterdam and explore it one day. (I mean, their airport is great so I bet the outside is even better!)

It was the same thing with Panama City. Panama would be a neat place to visit, right?

Are layover cities layovers for that reason? They could be fun or interesting to visit but you are always going to visit somewhere else that is just a little bit more fun or interesting?

I’ll keep you posted.

colombia, travel

Like a scene from Narcos

We arrived in Panama City, our first layover (out of three) on our way home to Seattle from Colombia.

It was a Sunday morning and I was hungry.

Why was it taking us “so long” to get off of the plane?

Bryce and I were seated in the middle of the plane and finally the passengers in front of us started moving. We stepped off the plane and started walking through the ramp-way, you know, the one in between the plane and the gate at the airport.

But there was a backup.

Why are we having to wait to get into the airport? 

I’m a pretty patient person but sometimes seeing people struggle with their rolling suitcase, which holds up the line, really irritates me. (I have nothing against rolling suitcases, I own one, too!)

This wasn’t the case this time though.

Up ahead, I could see two men checking passengers’ ID and ticket.

Why are we doing this now? We’ve already arrived at our destination!

Bryce and I got out our passports out and waited for the line to move. Finally it was our turn and one of the men checked Bryce’s passport and in really stern Spanish asked where he was going. Bryce responded and the man motioned that he could proceed.

I next showed the man my passport but he didn’t even glance at it. He waved his hand and was more interested in the person behind me.

That was weird, right?

No, it was intentional. We quickly realized that the men were only checking passports of the male passengers. These undercover cops were clearly looking for someone specific. (They were dressed in regular street clothes so we just assumed they were undercover cops).

As we walked away — to look for breakfast -— we turned back around towards the gate we just left and noticed that a handful of passengers were pulled to the side. We guessed for more questioning.

This is like a scene straight out of Narcos!

Well, maybe. I’ve never actually seen the show but whenever I told people I was going to Calí, Colombia before the trip, they would respond with “Ohhhh, like from Narcos — the Calí Cartel!”

So, it was like an alleged scene straight out of Narcos.

colombia

The sugarcane farm

The most beautiful place in Colombia that I visited was the gardens of a sugarcane farm outside of Calí.

It was peaceful. The sun was shining brightly but it wasn’t too hot yet since we arrived in the morning. There were butterflies and birds chirping. (Yes, I do not like birds, but I guess the sound of small ones chirping can be nice). And, there was just so much beautiful foliage everywhere!

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The gigantic palm trees. The fragrant flowers. They reminded me of Hawaii, which in a sense, reminds me of home. (My dad is from Hawaii so I spent a lot of time visiting grandparents on Oahu throughout my childhood).

Anyway, the gardens are part of a museum where you walk through and learn about how sugar cane is processed — and the history behind it all.

It was a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, I saw the largest cactus I have ever seen in my life!

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post travel

Back to reality — and new music

When Bryce and I drove back to our place from the airport after a week in Colombia, the first thing I noticed in the car ride was that I did not recognize any of the songs on the radio.

“Is this Adele?” I asked Bryce, who had no better idea than I did.

The song finished and then another song started to play. I didn’t recognize this one either.

“We were away for one week and all the top radio hits are different!” I exclaimed.

“Well, when you think about it, you don’t know what any new music in the past month has been,” Bryce replied.

He had a point. I had been listening to solely Christmas music on the radio for the entire month of December.

The alleged “new Adele” song could have come out at the end of November and I would have had no idea.

Some things just seem really different upon your arrival home after a trip far away.

I still don’t know if the song was Adele or not.

But, I suppose that’s really not the point.