Friday, August 24, 2012

A Ticket

The sight from my window when
I woke up on Monday morning
Despite another rather mundane week, paradise is still beautiful, blooming with birds of paradise. I had a girls night last Friday with some other au pairs, met up with a friend on Saturday afternoon, and sunday was spent avoiding the rain and seeing the new Bourne movie at Sylvia Park shopping centre. I was also able to sneak a trip for mussels and good beer into Sunday evening. So really, really my life has become "normal," with routines and the wasting away of perfectly good weekends. Since I am pretty much doing the same thing this weekend, I must be enjoying it!
In my backyard
The scary, bizarre part of last week was that I made a significant decision/action for my future travel plans, something I've not done in months and months. I bought a ticket back to the States. As soon as I did it, I was awash with a desire to cry and could not for the life of me figure out the cause. I knew I would have to leave New Zealand and I knew I would need to buy a ticket. I even found a great deal and I am going with a friend. It was maybe just that I had in fact made a decision and my fantasy world with made up plans and fake money kind of dissolved in one swoop. It is very exciting and I am so happy, especially since now I can focus more attention on how to manage my remaining time and travel.

I am often shocked and baffled at my life and how I have managed to get where I am and do what I am doing - it just seems all too chimerical. I spent a bit of my week feeling a bit blue for this new direction, but have now somewhat accepted, though not full realized, that I will be home some time around 1 March. From the time my contract is up in the middle of January until then, I will go to Australia, NZ biggest sports event down in Wellington, and then poor, poor me will be flying home via a trip in Hawaii.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bethells Beach

Another night of babysitting in a peaceful house started out my weekend before some of the friends I met in Wellington came up to Auckland. Saturday we went to the French Markets in Parnell. The market is full of fresh produce, breads, spreads, and baked goodies of all kinds and is a fresh and fabulous place to get some grocery shopping and breakfast out of the way.

We then drove out to the Waitakeres again to Bethells Beach. Despite the shoddy weather, we were able to walk along the coast and visit a few caves, though never actually completed a hike as intended. The area is famous for beautiful summer weather with swimmers, surfers, and people lounging in the hot black sand, so we will have to make another trip back in a few months.
Once back in Auckland, we cleaned up an hosted a casual and entertaining dinner party for our Welly friends.

I spent almost all of Sunday on a friends couch, eating junk food and watching movies while the rain continued to pour down. Good food, a little adventure, friends... This is what life should be about. (our internet usage went over this month and we are now operating at dial up speeds so pictures will follow in a few days)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wonderful Weekend in Welly

View of Wellington from Mt Victoria
The first weekend in August I took my first real holiday since being here. I actually took off the Friday and Monday - a first time request and went back down to the Capital. I was lucky enough to have grabbed a cheap return ticket for 90 bucks and even had a friend to take with me. It can't be said whether it was the unlikely, but amazing weather, the adventures we had, the friends we made, or just the fact that I was finally on a vacation, but it was one of the best trips I have ever had.
Dinner at Shed 5
We left first thing Friday morning and were picked up by a friend of a friend at the airport, a generous individual who was kind enough to show us around Mt Victoria, the water front, an art gallery,and offered his tour guide services again on Monday before returning us to the airport. Friday afternoon we had a leisurely lunch before checking into the hotel, working out, and hitting the town. A fabulous seafood dinner and a few drinks rounded out our evening in Wellington's CBD.
Up bright and early on Saturday, we rented a car, picked up another au pair and drove out to the Southwest coast. Despite the twisty-turny "mountain" roads and the many hours of driving, the scenery and destination were more than worth it. We took a couple hour hike through the Pinnacles Track and over, around, and through a river. Then we went to Cape Palliser, the most southern point of the North Island, a light house, and the home to a large fur seal colony. I have now traveled literally from the top to the bottom of the North Island.
Cape Palliser Light House
Both the views from the lighthouse and visiting the lazy, but cute seal colony were spectacular, but did include a bit more exercise. Two-hundred and fifty stairs to be precise. Then it was back to the car for a few more hours of twisty-turny roads before stopping at Countdown (the grocery store) for dinner supplies. We were fortunate to have more generous and friendly people who had offered us lodging and the opportunity to meet some kindred Kiwis.
Sunday, a group of us went out to the best brunch ever had. To be completely honest, in retrospect, we are not sure what made it so amazing other than we were all famished and the ambiance and food hit the spot. Then we were driven around Wellington, around all the bays, and to a beach walk called Red Rocks. A few more hours of immersing ourselves in New Zealand nature and beauty, another seal colony and we were back in town getting more dinner preparations. Monday we met up with some friends for lunch, toured Parliament, and spent our remaining hours wandering around Te Papa- the national museum.

We finished our trip back at the Mt Eden Belgium Beer cafe with apple crumble, what more could a girl want? I will have to admit the following week was a bit difficult - coming back to reality and having to work with limited rest, but I keep trying to figure out how to do it all again sometime in my remaining time here - there is just so much to see! (pictures to be add soon as the internet connection is extremely slow today)