A city in ruins Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch.jpg

 

I was really interested to see Christchurch and how it was progressing 3 years on from the tragic earthquake in Feb 2011. I hadn’t been to Christchurch before so didn’t know what it looked like prior to the earthquake, but I still remember hearing all about the devastation when it hit. Its really hard to comprehend what a city might look like after such an event.

It first became apparent to me how much damage had occurred when I had difficulties finding a hotel in the heart of the city that was more than a small 2 story motel ( I really wanted a high floor to be able to look out over the city). We ended up staying at the Ibis, which is right downtown and one of the few hotels to have been rebuilt. This was good and bad. It was great for really seeing the impact of the earthquake, as we were pretty much staying in the epicenter, however this also meant it was basically a ghost town around us so finding restaurants was tricky (especially without a car).

You really cannot understand just how devastating the earthquake was until you see the city. At first it felt like we were staying in the ghetto part of town. Its very open ( lots of parking lots), kind of dirty, everywhere is still boarded up, there are funky little makeshift places, basically it just feels dodgy. It wasn’t until we had been there a day and wandered all around the city that we started to stop and look closer and realised where we were would have been the heart of the city, the trendy, up market area. You start noticing dusty signs to boarded up expensive restaurants like Wagamama, what would have been artsy extras like trendy benches, flowerbeds, rubbish bin covers, now all run down. This sounds naive but if you haven’t seen the city before as we hadn’t its hard to picture what it was like.

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Christchurch construction collage

Three years on and the city of Christchurch is still a virtual ghost town with blocks of abandoned buildings or empty blocks where buildings have been torn down, old buildings propped up with scaffolding to try to keep them standing. Sure there is quite a bit of construction happening but considering the time frame it just doesn’t seem like much.

Building held up by scaffoldingpropped up building The poor people of Christchurch, what happened to them? Where did all the businesses go? There are so many large corporations who’s buildings are abandoned, what happened to the workers? It was sad to see the city in ruins, but it was also fascinating. They have done a great job at trying to maintain some of the vibe of the city. They have pop-up style marque covered clubs pumping at night and a creative shipping container mall which had some unique shops. There was even a bank in container with a built in ATM.
Shipping Container Mall

 

They also don’t have simple fencing around, most of it has colourful patterns which stops it from feeling too depressing or ghetto-like.

colourful fencing

I was particularly impressed with the lack of graffiti and vandalism.

Christchurch in its current state shouldn’t be discounted, it was still a cool city with really beautiful botanical gardens that we spent an afternoon exploring, they are huge!

Harry Potter Tree

IMG_3003water wheel

 

 

Christchurch Cityscape

We also stumbled upon the most delicious Italian restaurant, just thinking about the amazing pasta and pizza we had makes me drool. It was super trendy style inside as well with exposed brick walls (seems to be the rage right now) and artsy pictures all over. It had a great vibe (and I’m all about the vibe).

Christchurch has a long way to go, but for now its pretty unique.

New Zealand by caravan

New Zealand Collage.jpgWhat’s the best way to be sure you can handle living with someone? Spend 2 weeks in a caravan. Before announcing to my family that I was going to move to Berlin with Daniel, I wanted to be sure we could actually handle living together. Sure we had practically been living together the last couple of months he was in Australia, but that doesn’t compare to the stress of moving to another country and only having each other to rely on. Living in a caravan in a foreign country for a couple of weeks I’d say comes pretty close if not goes beyond. And so came our first trip… 2 weeks traveling around New Zealand’s gorgeous South Island.

Now I say ‘caravan’ pretty lightly, because in reality it was just a glorified mini-van (mini being the operative word).

Happy Camper

Not a full picture of the caravan but you get the idea. Clearly I was pretty excited about the whole living in a van concept at this point.

You know what else was mini? The bed. And guess what’s not mini? Daniel and I. With him being 6’3″ and me almost 6′ it was pretty damn cosy. I love cuddling as much as the next girl but sometimes I just want to sleep and in a position that isn’t dead straight with my arms stuck my side. Anyway needless to say we more than survived. We had a truly amazing 2 weeks together and just loved New Zealand. Seriously I keep recommending it to anyone I talk to. New Zealand had never really been on my ‘must see’ travel list (even though it seems to be the latest trendy location on everyone else’s) but it was so much more than I expected. I’d always thought of New Zealand as a similar but smaller version of Australia but it isn’t at all. It is completely unique with the most diverse geography. We’d go from mountains, to ocean, to rainforest, to rolling grass fields all in one day. Keep posted, more of stunning New Zealand to come!

 

And so it begins…

I want to travel the world My blog! Ok and the next step in my life (which really gave birth to this blog). I recently decided to quit my job, sell my baby (aka my new red convertible, every girl needs one at some point in their life right?), and leave my cushy life living with my family, close to all of my friends to move to pretty much as far away as you can get… Berlin, Germany!

I started working full-time my final semester of university and soon realised I was so not ready to be an official member of the workforce for the rest of my life. That’s when I met my boyfriend Daniel who had been on the same path headed for full-time work when he decided he wanted to spend his life traveling and pursuing his other dreams, number one being professional water polo. I met Daniel while he was playing water polo overseas in Sydney (he’s from California). It didn’t take long for us to discover how similar our dreams were (no not water polo, I’ve tried it, pretty much drowned) but traveling, living all over the world and just making the most out of life as we possibly can. We want to be those annoying old people who are constantly saying “that reminds me of when I was living in [insert obscure country] and I [insert even more obscure event]“. So when Daniel said he was moving Berlin to continue water polo the decision for me was difficult, scary, huge easy.

So here we are about to start the next stage. I just told my family and friends the news last week that I’m headed out in August, which also meant I gave notice at my job (oh yeah I work for my parents, talk about making the decision to leave doubly hard on them and me!). Bring on Berlin!