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?

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.]

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 …

colombia, travel

A Cali Christmas

First things first: It does not feel like Christmas here because I have a dozen mosquito bites up and down my legs and I can’t stop sweating!

This Pacific Northwest girl is not used to a hot Christmas.

Although, Bryce’s family has been telling us that it has “cooled off” this week. (My phone says that it is current 88 degrees Fahrenheit in Cali right now!)

Last night (Christmas Eve) the streets outside the house were “lively” with neighbors shooting fireworks and sparklers. It did not keep me up since I think I’m still making up for sleep deprivation from our 26+ hours of travel to get from Seattle to Cali, Colombia!

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Bryce, his aunt and I went on a walk this morning. She said we needed to go before things got crazy in the afternoon for the fair. (It’s a big fair that starts on Christmas Day and goes until the 30th full of lots of dancing and fanfare).

I was actually surprised to see “so much activity”on the streets during our walk. I expected to see other people going on family walks as well. But, there were lots of street vendors out and restaurants opened, too.

Back home, it’s really just big chain grocery stores and Starbucks that are open for like half a day on Christmas. There seemed to be more going on here, but maybe it was just in preparation for the fair.

As we headed back to the house, Bryce’s aunt asked if we wanted some water as we walked by a little convenience shop. The shop owner had the store gate closed but stood inside as a few people voiced out what they would like to buy — probably drinks as well.

“It’s closed, but opened,” Bryce said.

After buying the water bottles, we stopped in a grocery store that was opened and bought a few groceries. Knowing that I love avocados, his aunt said she knew a better place to buy fresh avocados than the grocery store we were at.

Just around the corner from the grocery store was a stand that solely sold avocados.

“This is my heaven,” I told Bryce as his aunt consulted with the stand vendor to make sure we were buying the best ripe avocados he had to offer.

And, these avocados put all the avocados I see back home to shame. These ones are like the size of what I think a papaya to be!

Merry Christmas from me and the avocados (not pictured, but I’ll need to upload the photos later!)

FYI: I have yet to sync my Instagram to the blog but for those wanting to see more photos and videos (in my stories), feel free to follow along at @ottertravelmore

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.