The Yacht Week, Croatia | A Recap Pt. 2

So did I convince you last week to sign up for the greatest week of your life?? Crystal clear waters, epic seafood feasts and vespa island explorations Oh My! Well the fun only continued with those crazy bunch of ‘ledgends’

The second half of the week just got better. After an amazing day exploring the Island of Vis by vespa we got to see it from the water as we sailed around to Komiza on the opposite side. Beyond seeing the beauty of the Island and the ocean road we had driven along from the perspective of our boat we also stopped off at a secluded rock cave. The water around the cave was the most strikingly beautiful blue water I have ever seen. We dove off the back of the boat and swam for the cave. Once at the entrance the sheer size of the cave became clear. It was much larger than we had thought and had this one piercing beam of light coming through a small hole into the roof penetrating the black waters of the cave. The light was cool to be able to see just how deep it was in the cave (and what was down there, it was a little creepy swimming in black waters). The only annoying part about this cave was a couple medium sized motor boats with tourists came powering into the cave barely slowing even though everyone was in the water. It felt pretty irresponsible and I was not a fan of having to quickly swim out of the way of the motor! After watching people cliff dive off the roof of the cave we went and checked out a second under water cave by dinghy before continuing on to our port for the night, Komiza.

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4 girls in one tiny boat

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How many people can you fit in one tiny inflatable boat?

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right before they dove down through the cave… and absolutely drenched us with water

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We had our first experience of the infamous Yacht Week raft ups (all the boats tie up to one another). This is when you get your first real experience of what Yacht Week is all about. Its one thing to hire your own boat and sail around the Med, its a whole other experience to do it with 45 other boats filled with other young people who just want to have fun. Disclaimer: Do not go on Yacht Week if you want to get a lot of sleep (something I wish some of our crew would have thought of). Whether you stay up until the wee hours or not you will still not get much sleep because how do you think you get from boat to boat… you climb across the decks of other boats (aka you will hear people climbing across your boat all night). My recommendation just embrace it, you’re only there for a week, go hard or GO HOME!

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A little Kings Cup to start the festivities

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t in our favour for the second raft up party so we couldn’t do the infamous circle raft, sad face! But in the end I was just glad we got to raft up at all because we almost ended up in a bay by ourselves because half of our boat decided they’d rather sleep. We spent the afternoon sun baking on ly-los at the front of the boat watching the crazy American guys on the boat next to us use a giant sling-shot to fling water bombs onto unsuspecting boats on the other end of the raft. It was a pretty awesome, stereo-typical feeling Yacht Week afternoon.

Miss this girl!

Miss this girl!

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Not a bad way to spend the afternoon

 

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Just a casual sling shot filled with water balloons

Sunbaking Yacht Week

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the crew

That night we decided we needed to make the most of the raft up party. After hearing the music and shouts from another yacht about 4 boats down from us we realised thats where we needed to be. We quickly grabbed a bottle of vodka as an offering and climbed aboard! Low and behold they were other Australians (typical) but really awesome people let us join their little crew. We ended up meeting up with them each night for the rest of the week. Needless to say things got cray that night. The trip the next day was not enjoyable, thankfully we didn’t have to to travel far.

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The new crew

 Next up the party destination of Croatia, Hvar!

The Yacht Week, Croatia | A Recap Pt. 1

Yacht Week, also known as one of the greatest weeks of my life. How could it not be when you’re sailing through brilliantly blue waters from island to stunning island then partying into the night with all your new yacht week mates. I had been looking forward to Yacht Week since the day I booked it, all the way back in December though it felt like so much longer with all the build up. It did not dissappoint.yacht-week-flags

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Our Yacht! A Hanse 45, trust me that’s a fancy boat for a bunch of 20-somethings to party on

We started in Split, Croatia with the first of many amazing sensational fresh caught seafood dinners at an alfresco restuarant in the midst of the winding alleys and laneways of the Old town. We’re talking a feast of prawns, calamari, whole fish, mussels and for about a quarter of the price you’d pay for it in Sydney. Followed up by drinks in the square, thats when it really began to sink in how lucky we were to be there, I mean its quite a cocktail location. Talk about a map moment. From there we hit up the opening party where people were letting loose, and getting high… I mean literally they were climbing anything they could find. There we made our first friends of Yacht Week, I mean when you see a guy with this written on his arm you have to join the party amiright??

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The next morning we set sail to our first island port destination, Vis. It was not all smooth sailing. Not a pun. The first day almost everyone was seasick. I was so thankful to have grown up on boats to be able to handle it better but even I was getting to be a little queasy by the time we reached the island of Vis.

All problems were quickly forgotten as we entered the stunning port town. Vis was hands down my favourite destination of Yacht Week (even above Hvar!). It just had this authentic, classic sea town charm to it that made you feel instantly relaxed but at the same time desperate to explore its secrets. Luckily for us our skipper jumped ashore as soon as we arrived and reserved the few remaining scooters (vespas, motorbikes, whatever you want to call them). I highly recommend this, it was the ultimate way to see the island with the wind through your hair and sun on your back.

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We had a bit of a rocky start, I hadn’t actually driven any sort of vespa/scooter thing before. I thought, how hard can it be?? Yeh quite hard it turns out, especially with a second person balancing on the back! Our skipper had to tell the guy we rented them from we had all driven one before. I think the man realised this was a lie when I couldn’t even start it (he even questioned it, I was all like “of course, its just, umm, been a little while). After a quick practice down the street, almost crashing into the wall (but I made it!) Cassie nervously hopped on the back and we were off!

It was a slow journey at first as we were so unstable we could barely make the endless hair pin turns up the mountain behind the town but once we got the hang of it and weren’t in mortal fear it was one of the most fun experiences of my whole time in the Mediterranean.

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After driving through vineyards and rows of olive trees we eventually arrived at this secluded cove beach on the other side of the island. Our skipper had told us before we set off ‘maybe don’t wear flip flops’, yeh turns out what he meant by this was ‘wear your most extreme hiking boots because we are going to pretty much mountain climb our way to the beach’. After lunging and sliding on our butts the whole way down to the beach it was fully worth it for this.

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After getting our weeks exercise coming back up we had some well deserved gelato before heading back to the yacht to get ready for that nights yacht week party at the official Yacht Week castle on the mountain. Yacht Week, they do it right.

Are you hooked yet? Seriously go sign up. Right now. You won’t regret it.

Top 5 Mediterranean Moments

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Quick update on life in Berlin first. Its been an exciting week, I finally have a visa to stay in Germany until October 2015! Happy Days! Its only took numerous visits to the Aliens Office, getting up at 4:30am and a 4 hour wait but it was worth it in the end thank god. We just need to get Daniel’s now and we’ll be living easy (oh and the small matter I still need a job.. any one want to hire me?? I promise to be awesome). It also suddenly got really cold here, its like we glossed over Fall for about 2 weeks and now its just all just flying into winter. We took a day trip to Potsdam again this week to ride bikes around the town and see all of its famous castles and buildings. It was fun… but also miserable. I was so cold by the end of the day I actually felt like crying haha. Poor Daniel was a saint putting up with my complaining. I am not going to survive winter.

Ok so onto my top 5 moments from my month of travels in the Mediterranean in August. I thought it would be easy to pick 5. Nope, definitely not. There was more like 15. I managed to narrow it down to 5 and will be posting on more on each and the other 15+ in the upcoming weeks. Its about time I posted about this trip but for now here is a taster of my time in the Med.

1. Riding a Vespa around the island of Vis, Croatia

One of my favourite days from Yacht Week was when we rented scooters/vespas and rode all over the gorgeous island of Vis. I had never ridden any sort of motorbike or motorised scooter before but figured how hard could it be?? Surely I’ll just pick it up. Our skipper told the guy we rented them from we knew how to drive them, I think the guy quickly realised it was a lie when I couldn’t even switch it on and then almost burst forward into a pole. We finally got going, two per scooter so I had my bestie Cassie on the back. This just made it so much more terrifying, I had images of us crashing and ripping all our skin off. Not nice. AFter about half an hour of puttering along and barely making it around corners we finally got the hang of it and had an amazing afternoon zipping around the gorgeous island. That was probably my favourite day of the entire trip.

scooter Vis Croatia Scooter Selfie Vis Vis, Croatia

2. Partying at Yacht Week

Yacht Week. The ultimate party. I think the pictures speak for themselves but really it just doesn’t get better than yacht week party. From giant cocktail jugs, to extended straws into other peoples cocktail jugs, dancing on walls to dancing on boats, bottles of Moet being shaken and sprayed over the crowd to buying 6L bottles of Belvedere complete with a light inside. It was crazy. Needless to say we all need some serious recovery time and detoxing afterward! But it was oh so worth it.

Yacht Week Belvedere Carpe Diem Hvar

Carpe Diem Party at Hvar… Appropriately named

Hula Bar Hvar

Linking giant straws together to steal drinks, stay classy

Hula Bar Hvar Yacht Week Party

Sunset Party @ Hula Bar in Hvar

 

3. Walking the Wall around Old Town Dubrovnik

Any Game of Thrones fans will probably recognise this town as Kings Landing. I loved Old Town Dubrovnik and its classic charm. The rustic stone buildings, the stone roads that were now shiny from being walked on for so many years. But the best part of Old Town and a must do if you go is walking around the top of the wall that encloses the city. The views of the city and surrounding Dubrovnik are breathtaking. It is the best way to truly see the city and all of its little alleyways and narrow winding streets. You get a true picture of how crowded in the buildings are and of how well fortified the town is by the wall itself (some parts are 12m thick!).

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4. White Water Rafting Tara River Canyon, Montenegro

What do you do in Montengro? White Water raft of course. Wait you’d never heard of that? Yeh me neither but it was amazing. The Tara River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world ranked just behind the Grand Canyon and is truly stunning. It looked like a cross between Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon with the most spectacularly blue, crystal clear, snow melt water you have have ever seen. The white water rafting itself was… lets just say interesting. It was more like paddling for 65km, I think we went down maybe 3 ‘rapids’ if you can even call them that? Unfortunately we went at the end of the season and the water levels were unseasonably low. The experience of also spending the night in the middle of nowhere at accomodation that looked like it was straight out of a horror movie certainly added a different element. Seriously, it was so creepy. There was no electricity so the old caretaker stood in the shadows and shone a flash light down the hall so you could kind of see the way to your room. Also the fact that it was just us 5 girls and 5 Serbian men who had pretty much fought to be the ‘lucky’ ones to be our guides in remote wilderness added to the creepy feeling. But the views made up for it and the story unforgettable. That one time in Montenegro…

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Check out that water

Check out that water

Tara River Canyon Montenegro

White Water Rafting Montenegro

Clearly it was rough

5. Exploring Santorini By Quadbike

In Santorini we rented quad bikes (ATVs) for the day and explored the entire island from top to bottom. Such a unique Island we couldn’t get over it, just brown dirt and volcanic ash everywhere but then these stark white houses and buildings in contrast, right up tot the edge of the island that looks like it could just crumble away into the sea. If you go to Santorini do not even bother with a car, you won’t get anywhere and you certainly won’t be able to park. Santorini was made for quad biking and seriously its way more fun than just driving a car, even if we did have to roll start ours a couple times.

Santorini Quad Bike Selfie

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2 Months in Europe… and that’s just the beginning

 

Croatia, Greek Islands, Montenegro, Berlin

Yesterday marked officially 2 months since my arrival Europe and what a whirlwind couple of months it has been! From a month of traveling Croatia, and Greek Islands (plus a little bit of Montenegro thrown in for good measure) with a bunch of girlfriends not to mention time spent with wonderful friends in Switzerland my first month in Europe did not disappoint. There was the crazy antics of Yacht Week, riding scooters around the Island of Vis, walking the wall of Old Town Dubrovnik (aka King’s Landing), 2 days white water rafting the Tara River Canyon Montenegro, partying until dawn in Ios, exploring Santorini by quadbikes. Thats just the tip of the iceberg. But the best part was getting to spend it with great friends, the perfect start to the next European chapter of my life, but some of the hardest goodbyes.

One of the happiest hellos though on the trip was finally being reunited with Daniel who I hadn’t seen since New Zealand. Seeing his beaming face walk through the arrivals door was so exciting. 4+ months of long distance was not fun but we made it. Now here we are almost a month into our time in Berlin and things are already falling into place! Daniel has been offered a job! We can’t believe our luck. This means we can now say we are officially staying in Berlin. I am in the middle of interviewing for a position and have another interview for a different position lined up but regardless of whether or not I get them we can stay because I can always get a working holiday visa (whereas he couldn’t).

We are so excited to call this city home and have already fallen in love with its beauty and atmosphere, not to mention vibrant culture. We are constantly exploring somewhere new or going to a different museum or learning more about its history. Beyond the World War history we are all so familiar with, you forget how old this city is and that it had a rich history spanning long before that.

Beginning our time here in Fall has been such a treat. Watching the leaves change to amber from our 4th story apartment windows has been so special and unique compared to the Fall I’m used to in Sydney. We have embraced the season and all its cliches it has to offer like riding bikes through Potsdam, going apple picking at an orchard and drinking beer while eating currywurst at Berlin’s own Oktoberfest. I’ve also jumped on the Northern Hemisphere fall bandwagon and grabbed a Pumpkin Spice Latte the other day. I get it now. It was like a party in my mouth (#PSLlyf yo).

We have started to meet a few people. One guy who moved here a year ago got so excited when he found out we had moved here and weren’t just visiting, with a bunch of flying hand gestures he told me how its the greatest city and a year on he’s still discovering new things. He said the novelty just doesn’t wear off. Right now, I think he might be right.

I have lots of updates and pictures from my month of travels and our time in Berlin to come!

reunited Zurich

Finally reunited in Zurich

Discovering Arrowtown | Pie & Pint Festival

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Sometimes everything just goes right. You know those days where you can’t believe one thing after another just keeps getting better and purely by chance? Well pretty much our entire time in New Zealand was just like that. #blessed …I hope you read that with sarcasm, I cannot stand when people tag that. The best day though where everything kept going right was on our way to Queenstown. It actually started the night before, we had been driving through the beautiful countryside and took longer than we planned because we kept coming across amazing places like this, which we hit at the perfect time with the sun getting low.

We were about an hour outside of Queenstown when it started getting dark and after our bad experiences on our first day where we missed a bunch of beautiful scenery driving in the dark and ended up backtracking, we really didn’t want to miss anything this time. We had heard about the amazing tunnel that goes all the way through a mountain heading into Queenstown and did not want to miss it, so when we came to a fork in the road with both directions saying they were heading to Queenstown we weren’t sure which way to go.

We decided to follow the map and go left but only a few hundred metres down the road we changed our mind, turned around and decided to follow our gut and go the other way, via lake Wanaka. Best decision ever. As we drove through the town even in the dark it looked too cute not to stop so we changed our plans and found a holiday park to stay for the night. After making Daniel walk up and down the main road 3 times reading the menu of every place (he’s such a saint) we had a delicious dinner at Wanaka Speights Ale House, the place we originally picked for dinner. Lamb shanks and blue cod, New Zealand specialties so you can’t go wrong, though it wasn’t hard for it to taste amazing when we had been eating camping food in the rain the few days before.

The next morning we just happened to wake up in time for a stunning pink and red sunrise, for those of you that know me you know I don’t enjoy waking early so this was just pure luck again. And wasn’t it worth itLake-Wanaka-Sunrise-over-trees

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If you are in Wanaka you MUST get a hot chocolate at Patagonia, best hot chocolate (and free wifi win!).

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We then headed off for Queenstown, but once again got side tracked when we saw a sign pointing towards a detour through ‘Historic Arrowtown’ we figured why not, we could always turn around. Again following our gut paid off, as we drove through Arrowtown it honestly looked like a movie set with its cute house and autumn leaves. We decided to head in and try to find the centre of town to check out what real estate was like there, seriously it was so cute we were about ready to chuck out our Berlin plans and move to Arrowtown instead!

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Suddenly we turned down a street and it was blocked for some event, another stroke of luck there happened to be a parking spot right there so we parked and went to investigate. It was blocked off for part of their Autumn festival, that afternoon it was a Pie and Pint festival. Does it get any better than that?! Naturally we bought tickets beer glasses and joined the festivities. Local brewery stalls, gourmet homemade meat pie stalls and folk music, it was like my dream afternoon. I felt like I was in Gilmore Girls, small town just doesn’t get much better than that.

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We’re still off to Berlin but moving to Arrowtown is now our future settling down plan (where we’ll be para-gliders of course).

Life Lately | When It Rains It Pours

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Ok clearly I’m not very good at the whole consistently posting thing but I swear I have a good excuse, I finally bought my one-way ticket to Germany! I’ve spent the last week organising that, who would have thought a one-way flight would be so tricky. When it comes to the visa issues that go with such a flight (Europe’s not so cool with you flying in without a plan to leave!), money issues trying to get the cheapest way there and timing it gets difficult. Thank god for the wonderful Erin at STA, so helpful. She managed to find the best and cheapest way to get me to Zagreb, Croatia. Its going to be long and painful as I’m flying Sydney to Singapore, to Helsinki, to Zurich where I’m going to stay with some family friends and leave all of my excess luggage there before catching a 14 hour overnight train Zagreb. Its going to be sucky but oh so worth it.

So today I’ve been off at the German consulate attempting to apply for my German working Holiday Visa, it didn’t go so well. Note for future expats: they are not the most helpful or patient (even though I was the only one in the 20+ person waiting room). Its ok I’ll come back next week, I’m sure she’s looking forward to it as much as I am…

Some really big news last week, my position at work was filled! Eek! No going back now. But its for the best, the new person brings everything I had to offer and more so I can leave feeling relieved that they are in really good hands.

I had a fun but kind of sad weekend fare-welling my 2 best friends as they set off to travel Europe. It was a great night with everyone, dancing, drinking and being merry. But it was sad because it was the last time for a while that the 3 of us will all party together. I’ll see one of them in a month when she gets back and then I’ll meet up with the other in Croatia for Yacht Week and the Greek Islands, but still last time all 3 of us will be together for a while! After almost 10 years of friendship this is so strange to think about.

Best-friendsThe ladies
Sydney-Departure-GateGood luck! Have fun!!

It was a bit of an odd night (besides all of the cocktails, speeches and sparklers) because I saw a bunch of friends who I don’t get to see on a regular basis so hadn’t had a chance to tell them I was leaving and since I may not see them before I leave I had to just randomly drop this news into conversations. Its kinda awkward telling people, its not like it naturally comes up in conversation so I have randomly dump it in like “that’s great your job is going so well oh by the way I’m moving to Germany in 6 weeks” this is usually followed by looks of shock followed by congratulations so its not all bad. Its nice to have such wonderful supportive friends, its going to be hard not seeing them for a while. Its not like the US where everybody leaves their high school friends to go to college then leaves their college friends etc, here most people go to University in Sydney so majority of people still live at home and go to the same Uni’s. This means my high school friends are still my main group of friends, our group has just expanded as people made new friends at Uni and added to it. Its really nice because I have a really strong core group of friends, its going to be tough not having them around in Berlin.

So yeah its been a little hectic, but this week I’m going to post more of New Zealand because I haven’t even gotten to the awesome parts yet!

MY PINTEREST IS ALL BIKINIS AND CAKE

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This is pretty much the story of my life.

Today I noticed my pinterest feed was an unhealthy mix of bikini body inspiration (aka girls in bikinis with bangin’ bods) and cakes. I suffer from a very common issue, I want to eat all the time and still have that perfect bikini body. Thats not so much to ask yeah?? Well today I realised, holy shit its only 2 months until I leave for Europe! 2 months people! Thats only 8 weeks!! (crap just writing this makes me realise how close this is). And I may or may not have slacked off and gone more towards the cake side of my pinterest and less towards the bikini bod side and am now a few cakes heavier than I’d like. So I’ve decided its time to quit slackin’ and make shit happen! I have 2 months, thats doable (I hope, I’ve never really actually properly tried before). Don’t worry I’m not going to go crazy or anything, mostly because I never could I like food waayyy too much but also really all I need is to shed a few kg’s and tone up.

There are two main motivators here. One Daniel and I both got pretty slack with what we ate in the last few months he was here, no regrets it was a great time! So we made a bet as to who could be the fittest by the time we got to Berlin (relative to the person, I mean come on he’s training to be a pro athlete thats just not a fair competition). I told him yesterday I was getting serious and not going to bitch anymore but take action! He said thats sweet but I didn’t need to do that for him, I said I know! You like me just the way I am right? right?! I was kidding (sort of). Really my big source of motivation is happening before I get to Berlin. I have an awesome trip with a couple of my good girlfriends planned. We’re doing… wait for it… YACHT WEEK IN CROATIA!

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This obviously is not my photo its from The Yacht Week facebook

Thats right 8 of us girls (1 poor guy) have hired a fancy yacht and hottie skipper for a week in Croatia to partake in the awesome week long party that is Yacht Week. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what yacht week is check it out here. Basically its a whole heap of yacht hired out by groups of party  people all sailing from port to port during the day and partying at each port/on the yachts at night. Can you say best week ever? (probably not you’ll be too drunk busy.)

But of course what yacht week also stands for? A week of constant bikinis… and photos to document the best week of our lives. So thats why I am busy trying to ditch this winter inner tube for a Victoria’s Secret worth bod (maybe aiming a little too high).

Taking a leaf out of Karli Bell’s book from September Farm I’m writing and publicly declaring this goal of eating healthy and actually making it to the gym at least 3-4 times a week in the hopes maybe this will make it stick. So let it be known!

Motivational tips to keep on track or healthy tips send em this way!

When Spontaneity Doesn’t Go to Plan

When we planned our New Zealand trip we didn’t really plan anything. We booked plane tickets and the van and that was pretty much it besides a vague idea of what we wanted to do. This is pretty unlike me, I’m a big planner, and a big procrastinator, but once I sit down and start planning I get pretty into it (trip advisor is my bible). We wanted this particular trip to be spontaneous and just go where we wanted when we wanted. It all started great…

roadtrip beginning

And then we realised we’d driven an hour in the wrong direction. Thats when Daniel started driving and I took charge of directions (men!).

We were off to Hamner Springs. On the way we read all about it and its natural hot springs, which came highly recommended in the free pamphlets guide books. That’s when we got to thinking, did we really want to go to what sounded like a real touristy destination or would we rather continue a bit further to what looked like a smaller potentially more unique hot spring? We were umming and ahhing when we drove right past the turn off to Hamner Springs, it was a sign!! A sign that that was our first mistake.

Our second mistake was not turning around when we started to rethink our decision as we were driving along a dark winding road through the forest that we could barely see a couple feet in front of our car. Finally we reached Maruia Spring … and drove right past it. What looked like a small town on the map was in fact a one building resort. We should have just cut our losses and turned back for Hamner Springs at that point, but no! We were on the road there was no going backwards!

I’m going to blame it on our exhaustion from driving in the pitch black on seriously windy roads but for some reason we thought that the next ‘town’ on the map, Springs Junction, would be better. Nope, once again New Zealand had gotten the last laugh. Springs Junction is in fact, just a junction. Two roads meet, there is a little roadside shop and a petrol station. That is all. That bitch spontaneity failed us again. So we went back to the original plan and drove to Hamner Springs and it was the best decision we could have made. The drive back sucked and desperately trying to find somewhere to stay for the night was stressful. Luckily the family that owned the holiday park paused their game of twister to take pity on us and let us stay the night in the field with the goat.

Hannah with goat

Hamner Springs was worth it all. I can’t believe we almost missed it for the sake of spontaneity. It was beautiful and I swear if I suddenly woke up there I would think I was in North America. Our one bit of spontaneity did pay off though, we skipped the springs. They were touristy as we had thought, not the natural rock ones you imagine, they were just giant pools fed by the springs filled with kids (human soup, not appealing).  Instead we climbed Conical Hill and had the best view out over the valley.

look out Hamner Springs

red and white mushroom Hamner Springs

Conical Hill

Conical Hill Hamner Springs

Hamner Springs

Hamner Springs Cafe

For the rest of the trip we didn’t give up on spontaneity all together but we did try to have a basic idea of where we were going to stay each night with at least one potential caravan holiday park there. We definitely learned our lesson about these supposed ‘towns’ on New Zealand maps.

A city in ruins Christchurch, New Zealand

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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.