Adventures in Oz

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Day Five & Six: Skiing

Thought I would never see the day that I would actually go skiing! I can’t say I had a strong desire to go previously but I’m so glad I did give it a try!

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20120709-090951.jpg. Let me stop here and say I am having a really bad hair day so don’t judge the rest of these pictures!

20120710-095830.jpg. We purchased a bundle so we could rent our equipment and have some lessons. We skied at the remarkables ski slope about 45 minutes from Queenstown. Its really not that far from the city but its 15 km up the mountain…and that drive was SCARY! A great deal of the drive doesn’t have guard rails and no shoulder which means no margin for error before you are off the side of a mountain!

20120710-214555.jpg. Once we had our equipment we had an hour to kill before our first lesson and i foolishly let Reggie convince me we could make it down one of the smaller slopes….not the baby slope. Reggie went first and he was FLYING down the hill,he made it all the way to the bottom before wiping out. This should have discouraged me…or maybe even seeing the amount of effort it was taking him to get up…I did think twice, I mean i really
thought about it….but I didn’t want to be the coward, so I went for it. This just was not smart! I didn’t know how to slow down, turn or stop….so, I made it half way down, rolled about another 25% down, lost a ski, my poles and I’m sure gave several people a good laugh. And this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day…I fell so much I was no longer embarrassed by it. I laughed and had a great time. We learned some basics in our lesson and by the time we left we were excited to come back the next day and give it another go.

20120710-220415.jpg. The second day we got an earlier start to get a full day of skiing in. We had more lessons and ventured up the ski lift to the real slopes….yes to this point we have been hanging out in the kid zone.

20120710-220602.jpg. We went up without our skis to check things out…and these slopes were the big time. After watching a number of people rash and burn while trying to get out the lift I realized this was beyond my current skill level. Reggie on the other hand was convinced he could handle it….rumor has it he did some rolling around in the snow….he looked like a pro by the time he came I to my view though🙂.

20120710-220843.jpg. Watching the kids (4-6 years old ) flying down the intermediate course was mind blowing! These kids must have been coming to the slows since they were able to walk! There were also a group of teenagers dressed as cartoon characters and various animals e.g. Elmo, an elephant, giraffe, etc. they were easy to spot coming down the mountain and appeared to be having a blast.

20120710-221301.jpg. We had a blast and are making plans to come back to Queenstown for more skiing next year! By then the bruised feet ( from the tight boots) and the sore bodies will be distant memories.
We freshened up at the hotel and headed to town for a seafood dinner and a night cap at the ice bar. When we arrived the temperature was minus 9 degrees celcius.

20120710-221719.jpg. I should have known we were in for something “special” when they provided us with huge coats and gloves before allowing us in the bar.

20120710-221850.jpg. This bar charges $25 admission and must make a killing because people don’t tend to stay long!

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20120710-222116.jpg. It was sooooo cold in here! Everything was made of ice, including the glass holding our drink!

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20120710-222323.jpg. What a great day! Queenstown was the highlight of our time in new Zealand and we will definitely be back!

July 9, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Day Four: Glaciers

We woke up bright and early to catch a small plane tour over the Franz Josef glacier. There were 7 of us on the plane in total including the pilot, so a very small plane.

20120708-220239.jpg. This was a short flight but it took us over the glacier, the coastline and up into the mountains. Here are some pics.

20120708-220542.jpg. The Franz Josef glacier

20120708-220638.jpg this is where the glacier used to be and the mark it has left.

20120708-220752.jpg. A few more pictures

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This flight was the highlight of our trip but I’m very excited about what lies ahead in Queenstown. We drove another five hours down the south west coast to Queenstown and it was soooo picturesque. Just a few more pictures.

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20120708-221538.jpg. We arrived in Queenstown and immediate went out to explore. This is by far going to be the highlight! We are already planning a trip back!

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20120708-223713.jpg. This picture shows the madness inside Fergburger, where we had the best burger we have had while in the southern hemisphere…hands down! We had to throw some bows to get a seat and wait 40+ minutes for our burgers but it was so worth it!
Tomorrow we go skiing for the first time ever,please pray we don’t break anything!

July 8, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Day 3: Holy Cow!

We drove seven hours to Franz Josef today, it is south west if where we were yesterday in Blenheim. We have one night here before heading five hours further south to Queenstown where we will essentially spend the rest of our time in new Zealand.

20120706-220605.jpg. Today’s drive was tiring because it as sensory overload, the countryside is GORGEOUS and the driving requires your full attention, lots of very narrow roads with hairpin turns and very little shoulder or margin for error.

20120706-220754.jpg. I started the drive today and just as Reggie got good and sleep half way through my shift we came up on some cows…not just a few but like 100.

20120706-220713.jpg. I was amused at first…but they kept coming and then moved into the road! At this stage Reggie needed to wake up and make sure I didn’t hit a cow!

20120706-220730.jpg. I have really not seen anything like this in my life! But we made it safely and I was pleasantly surprised by our accommodation, a little villa.

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20120707-104505.jpg. We ventured out to town to have a look around, partake in happy hour, and just relax.

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20120707-104813.jpg. Reggie challenged himself to 6 beers in 60 minutes and amazingly wasn’t completely wasted afterwards…he was proud of himself:-/.

20120707-111948.jpg. From here we went to chill out to the maximum at the glacier hot pools, we paid a bit more for our own private pool and cabana….can we say exclusive! Quite romantic as well…

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20120707-203648.jpg. Tomorrow we are going to tour the glaciers before heading 5 hours south to Queenstown. I feel so relaxed and I’m having a great time! Today I realized this is our first real vacation in 2 years and the first time in awhile we have gone out of town alone.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Day two: Cheers!

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This morning we got up for a good breakfast to properly brace ourselves for a full day of drinking YES! We booked the Bubbly Grape wine tour and they picked us up from the hotel, which is so convenient and ensures we both get to drink without worrying about the car! Meet Jonathan with Bubbly Grape tours, he was amazing!

20120705-174051.jpg. The weather attempted to play along today, it only drizzled a bit and the clouds lifted periodically for some pics of the mountains.

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20120705-174711.jpg. We learned some facts about the area etc. there are approximately 30,000 people in Bleinheim, 120 vineyards, 50 cellar doors and over 500 contract growers who sell their wines.

20120705-175518.jpg. The first winery we stopped at, Lawson’s Dry Hills had great Sauvignon Blanc that has even won awards in Washington DC!

20120705-175814.jpg. My hair was only about 40% dry in this picture, watch it transform as the day progresses.

20120705-180008.jpg. Another fun fact, 4-5 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc are made from one vine, this equates to about a kilogram of grapes.

20120705-180248.jpg. So another reason Marlborough is right up my alley…grapes that make full bodied red wines don’t grow here…woo hooo! I’m a big white wine drinker and prefer Pinot noir if I’m going to drink red wine. The Marlborough region is growing more famous for its Pinot noir.

20120705-180604.jpg. In the pic below you can see big ole fans that are used to prevent the cold air and consequently the frost from settling on the grapes (causing them to lose the crop). Vineyards that don’t have the fans use helicopters to keep the air moving, of a night when frost is predicted there may be as many as 120 helicopters in the area!!

20120705-181045.jpg There are also three mussel factories here that run 24/7 and yield three tonnes of mussels a day, wow!

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20120705-181413.jpg. There was an art gallery at one of the cellar doors and the artist was in painting. Just gorgeous paintings!

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20120705-181659.jpg. We had a great day, that about sums it up…so I will leave you with a few more pictures until tomorrow (fingers crossed we will have free wifi…we are getting up early and driving 7 hours down the west coast to the glaciers).

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July 5, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Day one: Journey to Marlborough

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For those of you who don’t know I’m gearing up for a move back to the US, so my adventures in Oz are winding down. With this comes the drama of packing, wrapping up my clientobligations andmy very last day at the AU firm (woo hoooo)! I’m taking a hiatus from all of this to enjoy a new Zealand getaway with my other half. Tuesday at midnight we arrived in Christchurch, I’d love to say we kept the party going but with the two hour time difference from Sydney and a full day running around and cleaning to prepare for the trip we only managed to get in bed! Wednesday I had every intention of getting up early and driving to Kaikoura for some whale watching but of course we overslept. I wasn’t too disappointed because it was raining and the cruise would have been cancelled or I would have gone and been irritated to be in the rain for 3 hours. Instead we had breakfast in Christchurch, rode around the city for a bit and checked out the visitors center. As a reminder, there was a huge (7.1) earthquake in Christchurch in September 2010 and the city hasn’t been the same since. My coworkers and others I know from new Zealand said the rebuilding was still in progress so we only planned to fly in and out of Christchurch and not spend much time here , that said I was impressed by the city and not put off by the aftershock that woke us up this am😉.

20120704-221247.jpg We drove 6 hours up the east coast to Blenheim, the Marlborough region know for Sauvignon Blanc (this is likely to be the highlight of the trip for me!). Australia is a gorgeous country but it doesn’t have anything on New Zealand! It’s just so green! And there really isn’t anything like the combination of mountains and the ocean! Along the way we stopped at Ohua Point, a lookout point right off the highway and there were so many seals! I’m going to have to get a picture of the warning road sign to look out for seals (bizarre!).

20120704-221802.jpg. This has also been referred to as the baby seal day care as there are far more baby seals here and the adults are usually out hunting.

20120704-221930.jpg The seals easily blend in with the rocks, but hopefully you can spot them?

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The weather really didn’t cooperate with us today but hopefully tomorrow we can get some more outdoor pictures.

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We are staying at a boutique hotel tonight and it as a pleasant surprise! So I’ll leave you with some pictures and a Happy 4th of July! I hope someone is out there grilling out for us! Since we have access to wifi hopefully I will be able to blog about our wine tour tomorrow!

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July 5, 2012 Posted by | regular | 2 Comments

Better Off Without Him: A Book Review

This weekend I finished the book Better Off Without Him by Dee Ernst.  Kaleena loaned me this book on Kindle….let me digress to say this is hands down THE BEST FEATURE on the Kindle!  Who else has a book for me to read?!?  The only annoying thing is I would like to know if I will be able to loan a book before I purchase it.

Ok, back to the topic at hand.  This book was pretty funny, several laugh out loud moments.  Here is the summary from Amazon.com:

Mona Berman is an expert at Happily Ever After – after all, she’s a best-selling Romance writer and happy endings are what she does best. So when her husband of twenty years leaves her for somebody 15 years younger, 20 pounds lighter, and French, she’s got a lot of adjusting to do, both personally and professionally. Lucky for her she’s got three savvy teen daughters, a few good friends, and Ben, the world’s sexiest plumber, to help her along the way.First she decides that her next book will be the anti-romance – her heroine finds the best part of her life AFTER getting dumped. Next her daughters tell her she needs to start practice dating, and summer at the Jersey shore is the perfect place for that. She’s also juggling her soon-to-be-ex, a loony aunt, and a match-making neighbor, while Ben is sending her romance-driven imagination into overdrive. Can Mona’s life imitate art? Can she write her own happy ending?
I would rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, it is an easy read, very entertaining and you can relate to it BUT maybe the character is too developed.  There are breaks in the story where she “daydreams” about the plumber and the language flips over to romance novel speech.  Unlike the alter ego in 50 Shades of Grey, I wasn’t sold on this style and by the end of the book it was over done for me.  I love how Mona gets back on the horse after her divorce and it was priceless that her husband tries to come back, she really is better off without him.  This is a woman power book (and oh, how I do love these), Mona picks herself up (without doing anything crazy) and advances her career…very admirable! 
 

June 12, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Vivid Sydney 2012

Vivid Sydney is currently underway!  I went last week with the girls and Saturday night with Reggie…it’s a must see and really brings out the best of Sydney.  The best way to describe it is a light festival…or I could let the pictures do the talking!  We all met up at a colleague’s leaving drinks, she is headed on secondment to NYC!, so we had to send her off right!  After a few hours of drinking we headed for McDonald’s AND Max Brenners (don’t judge us) before heading to see the lights (and walk off all the fatness!).

Vivid is set up around the Rocks, Circular Quay and the Opera House.  It really is one of the highlights during winter. 

I didn’t realise you could actually get in this fish thing (pictured right), pedal and it would light up.  I went with Reggie the following weekend and it was gone!!!

I think I got lucky on both days I ventured out because it didn’t rain!  This weekend was the Queen’s birthday (another long weekend) and it rained every day/night with the exception of the one we decided to go to Vivid!

This is the Custom’s House and one of my favorites!  Looking at these lights is like looking at HD TV!!

The next star of the show was the Opera House.  I know some will argue the Opera House’s lights were not as good as last year but I enjoyed watching the woman on the Opera House…she looks myseterious.

It was SO hard to get a good picture of the Opera House, I really need to read the manual on my camera and learn how to use the settings …a tripod wouldn’t hurt either!

This is the Museum of Contemporary Art and one of Reggie’s favorites based on the number of pictures he took!😉

It was PACKED in the city tonight, it seems everyone was taking advantage of the rain free day (these have been few and far between lately).  There are a number of things that I love about Sydney but pretty high on the list is the number of festivals and how I safe I feel while attending them.  I don’t have to worry about my purse, fights, violence or anything.  I really wish I could say the same thing about most US cities.

This is my first time seeing the Sea Shepherd docked.  This is a not for profit organisation who hunt those who illegally hunt and kill whales.  It is whale season so it makes sense that they were docked and taking donations.

June 11, 2012 Posted by | regular | 2 Comments

Back in the Mountains

Have I told yall I prefer the mountains to the beach?  I’m sure I have!  I love Sydney and all and commuting in a city surrounded by water is relaxing BUT I have yet to get in the ocean (beyond my ankles)…the water is so cold!!  The mountains on the other hand are so peaceful and I really just enjoy taking in the sites and I especially enjoy being in the mountains in colder weather.  I last went to the blue mountains with Kaleena, but that seems like ages ago…maybe because the change in seasons.

We got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and took the two hour train ride to Katoomba for a day of adventure.

We rode the rides…we say the Three Sisters…we ate…let’s let the pictures speak for themselves.

I may have even convinced the boys to let me do a little shopping😉.

 

 

 

 

May 31, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment

Mill River Recluse: A Book Review

So I’m back on the horse when it comes to reading, I flew through this book, IT WAS SO GOOD, different from what I have been reading but I’m so my friend Hayden recommended it. 

Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Disfigured by the blow of an abusive husband, and suffering her entire life with severe social anxiety disorder, the widow Mary McAllister spends almost sixty years secluded in a white marble mansion overlooking the town of Mill River, Vermont. Her links to the outside world are few: the mail, the media, an elderly priest with a guilty habit of pilfering spoons, and a bedroom window with a view of the town below.

Most longtime residents of Mill River consider the marble house and its occupant peculiar, though insignificant, fixtures. An arsonist, a covetous nurse, and the endearing village idiot are among the few who have ever seen Mary. Newcomers to Mill River–a police officer and his daughter and a new fourth grade teacher–are also curious about the reclusive old woman. But only Father Michael O’Brien knows Mary and the secret she keeps–one that, once revealed, will change all of their lives forever.

The Mill River Recluse is a story of triumph over tragedy, one that reminds us of the value of friendship and the ability of love to come from the most unexpected of places.

My Thoughts:

I now realize I enjoy a book that has numerous characters and I especially like when an author fully develops the characters and successfully shows how their lives are intertwined.  Darcie Chan accomplishes all this and more, she reminds her readers not to judge a book by it’s cover.  There are three characters in particular turn out to be so much more than I would have ever guessed, Mary is the most obvious but there is also the fourth grade teacher and  wayward cop.  The characters overlap and the plot is way more complex than I would have thought- especially since the book is set in such a small town.

Mill River Recluse is a fast, easy read and gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me!  I just loaned it out to my mom on Kindle…she is really enjoying her Mother’s Day present😉.

May 30, 2012 Posted by | regular | 1 Comment

Playing Hostess…again

One of Reggie’s closest friends (Brandon) came for a visit!  I am thrilled one of his friends made it over as most of our visitors have been my friends.  It means alot when your friends take the time (and spend the money) to travel across the world to hang out with you.

Reggie wanted to go on a harbour cruise….yes, we’ve done our share of these so I decided to change it up a bit and go with the Showboat cruise that included cabaret dancers.  They didn’t allow us to take pictures of the show, I guess they wanted to protect the half naked woman prancing around on stage:-/.

We were starting early with the birthday celebrations (as Brandon’s birthday was the next day).  These harbour cruises are a huge tourist trap (and so overpriced); however I do enjoy them!  The food wasn’t half bad either…I had to take a few pictures to show you!I wish Reggie had of gotten a full length picture (I thought I was cute!)…oh I digress.  So here are some of the shots of the city at night…what a great skyline!

Soon I’ll be back with more pictures of Vivid Sydney where they do a light show on the opera house, other buildings around Sydney and create all sorts of light structures. 

 

 

May 29, 2012 Posted by | regular | Leave a comment