Yes, we are moving again. First of all, it is not that we don’t like Auckland, it definitely has its pros and cons. But there is a but… We’ve been thinking lately on what we want in the long term and it came down to a few wishes. We would like to buy a house soon, somewhere relatively warm. And we would like to buy a house that we can pay off quickly as travel and flexibility will always be (very!) high on our priority list. This means that Auckland is not a possibility, houses are too expensive. Wellington isn’t exactly warm. But we need to be able to commute to one of these two cities as this is where our work opportunities are.
During our first few months in Auckland we enjoyed getting out and about in the weekends exploring the areas close by: the Waitakere ranges in the west of Auckland is a favourite of ours, while the Coromandel to the east has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. We had also explored a little bit of Northland, going as far as Kauri country after a camping trip gone wrong turned into a road trip exploring Northland’s west coast. We were keen to see more of Northland, it being one of the few regions left in New Zealand that we haven’t had a good old road trip through yet. So when Easter came around in April and we found out that ANZAC day was falling only a few days after the Easter weekend we decided to take full advantage of this gift from the public holiday gods and took three extra days off. All of a sudden our Easter weekend became a 10 day holiday! Continue reading
On the 4th of January we finally had to face reality again. After 14 months off work, we were leaving for Auckland to get back to work and find a place to live. Our first week of accommodation was sorted, we were going to house sit for a week for a friend of Julia’s aunt and take care of her cat Mister Ted. Mister Ted is a rather large 14 year old ginger male cat with a just as large personality (Unfortunately he died two weeks ago after a massive stroke which left him partly paralysed). It was a very nice place to stay and get all sorts of things sorted, like job interviews for Julia and house viewings for our own place. Continue reading
We felt a little sad saying goodbye to the Wairarapa, it is our favourite piece of New Zealand and we knew it would be a while before we’d be back. While living in Wellington it was our weekend getaway. The small towns, wineries, good weather and the Tararua mountains have always had a large appeal to us. If only the commute to Wellington was a bit easier… Continue reading
I’ve realised that keeping a blog up to date when you are back in a normal work rhythm is not as easy as when you are a traveller, so this post is unfortunately way over due. It’s a lot harder to recall what happened as well now I have to write about things that happened half a year ago! We want to keep it up though as we have both stopped writing travel journals, instead ‘maintaining’ a blog.
So, half a year ago… We came back from Madrid and Rome and all of a sudden there wasn’t very much time anymore before we were flying back to NZ so we had to make it count. First, Julia and my father shared a birthday party, resulting in more presents for Julia than she had had in a long time with the extended family and neighbours coming over! Score! Then there were two dinners with my parents and sisters. First, Liana had organised a fancy dinner at Merlijn, she even had specified which table we were to be seated at. The food and service were really great and we all rolled home afterwards. Then there had to be a second less formal goodbye dinner at the Pancake House in Heusden. Pancakes Dutch Style are large and one is enough to feed most people. The most popular one is the ‘Farmers Pancake’ which is hearty with bacon in it.
After an amazing time in Madrid we had even higher expectations for Rome, the next and final stop in our cities trip. I’d visited Rome in 2007 and it had been one of my favourite cities during a six month backpacking trip around Europe. I was excited to finally show Richard around it. Unfortunately from the get-go we had a rather South America-esque experience in Rome. Arriving in Rome’s Ciampino airport after a rather horrible flight with cattle-herders Ryan Air we quickly found out that Italian driving is just as bad as the driving we witnessed in South America. Barely 5 minutes into the 20 minute bus ride to the city we witnessed our first car accident. A scooter came sliding across the intersection at high speed. We didn’t see the why or how but there was a car parked by the side-rail and the scooter driver was trapped underneath the car. The bus driver pulled over and he and Richard ran out. With the help of a couple of other bystanders they lifted up the car and pulled the man under the car out. Blood was everywhere. The ambulance and police were on the scene in a matter of minutes and the scooter driver was well looked after, but we did wonder for days and weeks afterwards if he came out of it all okay. Continue reading
Monday the 14th of October my father drove us to Rotterdam airport for our Madrid/Rome trip, which was quite the different trip for me as there was not going to be a car involved, just planes and public transport and carrying our stuff on our backs. After an uneventful but pleasant flight with Transavia we landed in Madrid and took the metro to the city centre. It must have been the nicest entry to a city that I have ever had, instead of seeing the ugly outer industrial areas and suburbs first and then gradually driving towards the centre, this time the metro dropped us off under an old plaza, bang smack city centre. So when we took the stairs up and came above ground we were right in the middle of a very scenic square with lots of activity around, people eating outside, street performers and beautiful buildings nicely lighted. I instantly liked Madrid!
After a busy three weeks filled with social activities and visits in The Netherlands it was time for another road trip in Ada’s little red Corsa. Our first stop was Dusseldorf in Germany to visit friends Christoph and Brigette. Christoph is German and Brigette is a New Zealander. They got married at the start of the year, and travelled around Asia for a few months before coming to Europe with the news that a baby would also be joining them later this year. We arrived at their place early afternoon and hellos, hugs and gifts were given. They showed us our room for the night which turned out to be in a bed and breakfast which Christoph’s parents own. They host people who come to Dusseldorf for one of its many trade fairs. Spotless, comfortable and quiet, what a treat! Continue reading
We had timed our return from France in such a way that we would be in Almkerk for the ‘Regional Days’ or in Dutch ‘De Streekdagen’. This is a yearly two day event in which my family always has been very involved. My father was the director for a long time and the rest of us have always volunteered. Julia had heard a lot about it from me and was keen to visit and so was I as it had been six years since last time I went. It starts on the Friday night with Truck Pulling and in the tent there is a party with a DJ and live music. Truck Pulling means that both modified and non modified (road) trucks pull a trailer over a 100 meter track. On the back of the trailer is a weight that moves forward and increases the pressure on the sled on the front of the trailer which pushes in the dirt. Longest distance or fastest full pull wins. It’s quite the spectacle with lots of smoke, flames out of exhausts and trucks going airborne. Have a look at the videos to get an idea.
Coming from Switzerland we decided to break up the drive and spend a night just over the border outside a small town called Ducier in the hilly Jura region. It is a nice area but we had one of those days that you sometimes have when you travel where things don’t go smoothly. For example, it took us a long time to find our campsite even with the help (lack of) from the GPS. Or, we thought we’d go for a swim as we were in an area with a lot of lakes and it was another piping hot day. Only the lake closest to our campsite had no beach and we weren’t allowed to swim in it because it’s a fishing-lake only. Then the lake that we were allowed to swim in was part of a massive campsite complex and we bypassed paying for parking by hiking a 20 minute trail to the swimming area, only to find that the wind had changed direction during our 20 minute walk and the day was no longer hot but freezing cold. In the end reading our kindles in the fast declining sun and going for a walk to see the waterfalls next to the campsite were the highlights of the day. The pretty walk showed off several waterfalls pooling into each other and was the highlight of our first day in France. We camped in the campground next to the walk, and had one of our quietest nights sleeps. Continue reading