new zealand, post travel, seattle

Back to an unexpected reality

Three days ago, I was in Auckland, bidding farewell to New Zealand’s summer.

Two days ago, I was swimming at Ala Moana beach in Hawaii.

One day ago, I was back home in Seattle, where Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse 2019 had hit hard for the third time in a week.

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It’s unusual for Seattle to get so much snow for a series of days like this. All my friends are having cabin fever from not being able to leave their houses for several days to a week.

I’m kind of enjoying it?

Yesterday the snow fall was pretty. It felt like a winter wonderland. Bryce and I went for a walk in the late afternoon and saw that some of our neighbors still had their Christmas lights up.

“Their procrastination paid off!” I exclaimed. “It looks so magical!”

But, today the rain came and the snow is melting. There is a lot of dirty slush occupying the sidewalks and streets. My car is surrounded by a bunch of compacted, hard snow. I’m ready for my bus to be in full service again so I can actually go into the office and see my coworkers.

Coming back from a three-week vacation — that was our honeymoon! — I didn’t expect to come back to a reality that would be icy roads and people abandoning their cars on neighborhood roads.

For now, I’m keeping warm by remembering our New Zealand trip and all the amazing places we were fortunate enough to visit on both the north and south islands. And, all the wildlife we saw and people we met.

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You can bet that this blog will come out of its hibernation — who has time to blog when they are traveling?? — with many stories and photos from my kiwi adventure. (Think dolphins, the cutest sheep in the world, Maori culture and a city windier than Chicago, just to name a few things!)

Stay warm, my Seattle friends. And, happy travels to the rest of you out there!

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.]

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.

 

colombia, travel

What 26+ hours of travel looks like

It took us more than 26 hours of travel to get from Seattle, Washington, USA to Calí, Colombia.

From house to house, it took about 30 hours of travel!

We left our place in Seattle around 5:30 am the Saturday morning before Christmas. We arrived at Bryce’s grandma’s house in Calí around 11:30 am Sunday morning.

Our route: Seattle > San Francisco > Los Angeles > Panama City > Cali

Dolores Mission Park
Dolores Mission Park

The first stop in San Francisco was the longest layover. We made the most out of it by actually leaving the airport and enjoying a good, real meal.

For so many flights, everything actually went smoothly. We didn’t miss any flights. Our longest wait in the TSA line was at Sea-Tac, our home airport. And even this wait was maybe 10-15 minutes at most, not bad at all!

Guess the travel gods were on our side.

We even had to wait on the tarmac for about an hour at SFO on our way to LAX. The pilot told us that LAX was experiencing “too many planes” so we’d have to wait a while before we’d be cleared to take off.

Bryce and I just put our headphones on and started season 2 of one of our favorite shows, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Panama City airport
I think leaving Panama City, your guess is as good as mine!

I like to think of myself as a having a lot of patience.

By flight #4, I really did not have much of it at all. I wanted to be done traveling.

When we boarded our final flight in Panama City, I was really ready to be done. The flight attendants only handed out immigration forms in Spanish and when I asked in my broken Spanish for a form in English, the flight attendant replied that they only had them in Spanish.

“OK, this should be interesting …” my sleep-deprived self thought to myself.

The woman seated in front of us asked us if we needed help translating. We kindly told her we were fine. After all, you just check “no” on all the little boxes, right??

When friends and family heard of this grand voyage to Colombia, everyone asked, “Isn’t there a faster way or direct way to get there?”

There is no direct from Seattle to Cali. Yes, there are options for three flights, or even two but we would have been paying at least a grand more — per ticket. No, thanks.

All the flying is just part of the travel experience.

And, I guess I shouldn’t complain because unlike some people, I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere. Funny how an airplane takeoff can just peacefully rock a grown adult to sleep.

 

colombia

Strangers talking to strangers

There were a lot of qualities of Calí, Colombia that I appreciated and enjoyed. When I returned on New Year’s Eve, one of my coworkers asked me what my favorite part of my trip was.

That’s always such a hard question for me. I hate playing favorites. I like multiple things for different reasons.

Other than the gigantic, delicious avocados, I really appreciated the camaraderie between individuals that I noticed.

It’s a place where the milk delivery man will stop to chat with your aunt for a solid 10 minutes — or even more!

It’s where people make eye contact with you as you walk by, acknowledging your existence! Not like in Seattle where strangers will do anything and everything in their power to avoid you. Here in Seattle, we’re all just Zombies starring at our cell phone screens … texting our friend, or playing Pokemon GO. The Seattleite may have even faked a phone call just to act like he or she was too preoccupied to look at you.

But Colombia is where a driver will pull over and ask the young boy doing chores, or the woman selling snacks from a street-side cart, directions to the next destination. Yes, they all have cell phones and use them for navigation, but sometimes the quickest way is to ask a fellow human. I think it’s also just in their nature to stop and ask a person, calling out “Hello, friend!” to a complete stranger. (And by “Hello, friend!” I obviously mean, “Hola, amigo!”)

In Colombia, it’s strangers helping strangers. Strangers actually talk to strangers.

Or, maybe they don’t consider anyone a stranger at all. They’re all maybe just one friend away to arriving at their intended destination.

 

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.