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Meeting Up With Friends

8th December 2011

Christmas Market round 2

Since Cathleen had class all day I went to meet Carolin, a girl I had met in Coral Bay, Australia. Turns out she timed her visit home perfectly and was in town seeing her sister. It had been about 4mths since I had seen her, but it felt like just yesterday. We had coffee and caught up with each other, telling stories of each of our new beaus.

Then it was time to explore the Medieval Market, a part of the Christmas Market that has food and drinks from an earlier time period. It was fantastic, and I got to try a version of Gluwein called feuerzangowle. Delicious and apparently more alcoholic. But with the cold rainy weather it was just what the doctor ordered.

Carolin and I

Other than the yummy taste, the mug was the best part. Earthenware and the perfect size to warm your hands round, it is now one of my favorites.

Since the rain was getting heavier we headed to Carolin’s sister’s apartment that was right in the center of town and enormous. It was brilliant and had some beautiful old features. We tried to call Buddha so that Carolin could meet him but couldn’t get through. Later we tried again and he answered, he was super cute and said he was away from his computer and we could skype at 7pm, midnight his time. I was really excited to speak to him.

We did get to skype Carolin’s boyfriend back in Australia though. Much to her disbelief he and I were soon discussing the Rugby world cup, she just rolled her yes at us.

Carolin needed me to fix her bracelet I had made her back in Aus and so we headed back to Cathleen’s house to get my strings. I was able to manipulate the bracelet with some repairs and then it was time to say goodbye to my good friend. I hope to see her again soon.

Christmas Cookies

Cathleen had invited a friend over to make German Christmas Cookies. It was great fun, even if I was a bit distracted waiting for him to come on skype. We made sputniks, zimt sterre and vanilla kipferl. Yummy!!!!


It was great fun and the only thing to mar it was the fact that Buddha never came online and I wasn’t able to reach him on the phone. For some reason I felt devastated, I think perhaps some part of my intuition was trying to warn me, but when the heart wants, it often pushes aside the intuition. Cathleen made the point that it was something out of my control and there was nothing I could do to change it. She was right but emotions can be intense sometimes, especially when other factors like ending a year long adventure are factored into the mix.

Tomorrow is exploring the town of Dresden!

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Germany, RTW, Travel

 

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Kaikoura to Nelson

30th September to 4th October 2011

Picton Pickups

On the way to Nelson we stopped off at the ferry terminal in Picton. We had around 10 folks joining us. As the passengers disembarked we saw a white pompom beanie come bobbing up and down towards the bus, enthusiastically waving and smiling. This turned out to be Tom from England, but I dubbed him PomPom. Got to love the folks you meet on the Magic Bus.

Mmm Icecream

The day was perfect, the drive was beautiful and the company great. At our lunch spot, in the middle of nowhere, the cafe owner gave us double scoops for the price of a single. Woohoo! I got Hokey Pokey, vanilla with honeycomb pieces, it was delicious. At this cafe they also serve a variety of interesting pies, such as rabbit, venison even possum. Then we hopped back on Marg’ the Magic Bus and headed the rest of the way to Nelson, the sunniest town in NZ.

WWOOF

Wwoof means – willing workers on organic farms. I had organised 3 nights of Wwoofing at a lodge just outside Nelson, not exactly a farm but they count as well. Nic and I figured out where it was and we organised for me to hop out of the bus along the road. We just hoped it was the right stretch of road, as it was a long walk into town. As I waved farewell to the crew on the bus I settled down on my bag to wait for my ride. Luckily it didn’t take long till Alan showed up. We picked up their son at school and then headed up the hill to the lodge. The view was breathtaking.

Stunning view

Within a short span I was given chemicals and sent to scrub the shower. It took me a good hour and I was fairly high after cleaning the glass with the water resistant coating…weeeeeeeeeeee

For dinner we had Thai Curry and watched the sunset. I great evening which was followed by heading into town to watch the SA vs Samoa rugby game. I walked in with James and Chloe dressed in my flag, with springbok paste on tattoos on our cheeks, to discover the entire bar supported Samoa. The others grabbed a drink and settled unobtrusively in a corner, I sat at the bar and supported the Boks, as much as possible without risking severe bodily harm from the Samoa supporters.

Sunset over Nelson

A weeding We Shall Go

The task of the day was weeding the elevated vegetable garden. Normally this would seem like a breeze, but considering it had spent a couple of seasons cultivating its weeds, the garden wasn’t too impressed when I was trying to pull them out. Add to this the fact that it is at a height of 4ft, meant some of the particularly stubborn weeds threatened to cause me to fall backwards. Luckily I remained somewhat stable and it only took me 3hrs to weed a plot approximately 10m by 1m. Wish I had taken photos, cause I was rather proud afterwards.

Later the 3 of us wwoofers went into town to check out the last few minutes of the market and walk around a bit. The Aussie vs Russia game was on and the atmosphere was electric, with the Aussies all decked out and everyone else (no matter of nationality) all supporting Russia. In the Rugby World Cup the motto is pretty much anyone but Australia/England or France. Unless you are from one of those countries of course.

Aussie Pride

With the rugby game on in the town of Nelson, Candace and Alan (our hosts) were running a snack cart at the game, the boys were watching it live, which left the house to us. It was great having a big house to relax in. We watched movies, I made Toad in the hole for dinner and when everyone did arrive home we watched the next game on the telly.

Chloe and I having "breakfast"

Nelson the sunniest town in NZ…REALLY??

Woke this morning to torrential downpour. It was actually rather impressive. The region did need rain so we didn’t mind the rain too much. It also meant that Alan’s plans to redo the whole garden were put on hold. Instead we worked on changing the beds and cleaning the bathrooms, which took just under 3hrs and gave us the rest of the day off. I worked on my blog and then we all went and sat in the hot tub in the rain. Felt fantastic. A little afternoon nap and then time to make dinner. I had offered to make the Schmidt’s famous Spaghetti Bolognese. In between brownouts and thunder and lightening we sat down to enjoy the meal, followed by icecream. After the rugby game I asked Candace to take a look at my back in exchange I would make her a necklace. She had me stand and bend and squat, then announced that my pelvis was out of line, she gave me some stretches and assured me that would help. Well then, now that I know whats wrong I can work towards fixing it… but then again I am terrible at remembering stretches.

Return to Paradiso

I had been offered work trade at Paradiso hostel for a few days, so ended my time with the lodge and was able to get a ride into town. It was still pissing with rain so moving bags was fun. But I managed with minimum rain dampness. I was put into a small 4 bed dorm and had to quickly dump my bags and slip out as there was someone sleeping. My chore for the day was reorganizing the chemical cupboard. The dilemma – the chemical cupboard was not under cover…and it was still raining, buckets, in fact, cats and dogs. Luckily around 3pm there was a short break in the weather, so I quickly went about tidying and sorting the chemical cupboard. All of 20min for a nights accommodation. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, doing my strings and my blog.

Unpacking for Painting

Trade work for this day was to help unpack the tv room for repainting. This involved removing all detachable items, gathering the furniture in the center of the room and sorting through the VHS tapes and book trade shelves. Its always dangerous going through the book shelf, so far I have managed to keep my book baggage down to one for reading, one for journal and one for guide. But now found myself with 3 extra for reading, and I just couldn’t decide which one to leave behind. So now I found myself with 4 for reading, 1 for journal, but no guide. However, I did have my next journal ready in the wings.

But it was an enjoyable couple of hours of trade work!!

As far as weather went, it was still raining. Nelson is the sunniest town in NZ and it had rained for the last 3 days, solid. Without even a glare to call sunshine. The first time I was here I was sick, and now it was raining constantly. I decided to head out the next day, if nothing else I was fairly certain my departure would ensure the sun’s return for others. Murphy’s Law.

The good news was that during the crappy weather I had managed to secure work trade at a hostel on Stewart Island for 10 days. EXCELLENT!!!

Tomorrow is was off to Greymouth and then Franz Josef on the Magic Bus.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Wellington week 2…

…21st September 2011

Cocktail Parties!!

Hanging out at the Ekhaya suite was great in that I got to meet fellow South Africans, eat good food and get free biltong. It came with another perk too, fancy cocktail parties and dinners. However these were on the 6TH FLOOR… I was pondering this dilemma with one of the guys working there and he was determined to get me in, even if he had to call me the “Under Secretary to the President of the Republic of Empangeni”. Empangeni was the small town I was born in. It was quite a hoot, and it would become my title for the rest of the time I was in Wellington.

As we tried to figure out how to get me on the list, I was chatting with someone and mentioned I had face paint. Next thing I knew I was the official face painter, was on the program and on the list for the cocktail party plus 1. Bloody brilliant!

Emma was my plus 1, and since she was working I went home to get stuff and she directed me through her closet for clothes to bring to her in town.

It felt great to get dolled up and feel all important and spiffy. Actually I was rather out of my comfort zone, but Emma, a budding diplomat was in her element and so I just followed in her footsteps. We met some amazing people, had champagne handed to us before we were even finished the first. Little bite size snacks you see those chefs doing in competitions. The best part was the dance group who did dances from a variety of South African tribes and as soon as the music started everyone was on the dance floor. One diplomat expressed the following sentiment which hit it on the nail
“You can tell this isn’t a European or New Zealand party because it barely took 2 minutes for everyone to cut loose”
All very hoity toity and a whole lot of fun…. I better not get used to this.

Great Dance Group


Old friends

It turns out all my old school friends seem to have immigrated to Aus or NZ as it turned out I had a mate in Wellington too. So we were able to meet up for a coffee and chat about old and new times. Its crazy to see where all our lives have led us in the last 16yrs since we graduated high school.

Old Friends

The Beehive

Lissy and I spent her first morning walking around Wellington and going on a free tour of the Parliment building known as the Beehive. It was recently voted the 3rd ugliest building.

The Beehive


Steps of Parliment

Dinner Party

Well I am on a roll and apparently am in with the staff of the Ekhaya suite I got invited to a very sort after sit down dinner party. I was able to invite a plus one again and this time I chose my friend Lissy who had just arrived from up north. As I had worn my only dress to the cocktail party and Lissy had nothing fancy, Emma let us rifle through her closet again. I love that girl. We had a grand old time, trying on dresses and jewellery and even picking nail polish. Ahhh to be girly, its actually quite a lot of fun!

If I thought the cocktail party was overwhelming, the dinner party was even more so. You walked in and were met by 2 rows of 5 waiters all with silver trays filled with drinks, you didn’t know who to take one from. Totally out of my element and loved every minute of it. The settings were fantastic, the speeches were amusing, especially when the MC asked us the organizers would like the table to settings to remain at the end of the evening… and the food was pretty good too…especially after 3 glasses of free wine.

Lissy and me


South Africa Dinner night

Molly Malones

After the dinner party, we headed to the local Irish pub round the corner, Molly Malones, to meet up with some friends of Lissy’s. We got there and pushed our way through the crowd. It was literally shoulder to shoulder. Crowded pubs are never a place I choose to be and was hoping we would move on. But Lissy, being the young 20 something she is, has no fear and was all about staying. I figured I had to start conquering my fear of crowds. We circled around, and much to the amusement of the bouncer forced our way back in again. Lissy found me a corner and went to grab us a cider. She returned with a cider and a vodka and orange each, plus two more ciders on the way, all paid for by an Irish fella. I am truly in awe of her skills.

It is never a thrilling experience to be elbow height and when you are armpit height its even more unpleasant. One “gentleman” was kind enough to use me wedge his way through the crowd by putting his elbow on my shoulder and heaving through.

It was a good night all the same and I spent most of it occupying my mind by tidying up the glasses piling up on the ledge next to me, much to the amusement and appreciation of the bar staff. Finally it was time to extricate ourselves and grab the night bus home. The ride was up a very windy road and after a number of drinks it made you feel quite queasy.

Face Painting

For the Saturday game I had promised to do face painting at the Ekhaya suite. I also managed to get tickets for Lissy and I to the game, again for $50 each. I arrived around 11am and didn’t stop painting faces till about 4.30pm when Lissy dragged me away to the game. By then I was on the point of blubbering as I had not even had a chance to eat lunch. But it felt great to be in high demand and even had folks arguing over who was next at one point. All rather amusing. I figure I must have painted close to, if not over, 100 faces in all varieties of the South African flag.

Face Painting


Face Painting


Body Painting ??

South Africa vs Fiji

We walked to the game with a couple of other “bokke” fans and it was one of hte best experiences ever. We walked waving flags, singing Shosholoza/Nkosi Sikele and numerous other favorites. We were joined by other fans and eventually formed quite an abnoxious group.

At the game I kept passing people whose faces I had painted and there was great comradery amongst all of us. Our seats were super close to the field in the corner in the middle of the Fiji fans. The game itself was a bit of a walk over but was a good game and the Fiji players played well. With 10seonds to go, I turned to some of the Fiji fans and said “great game guys, thanks for playing”, the replied “come on its not over yet there is still time”. Ahhh optimism at its best.

Dinner


Enthusiastic South African fans

At the end I managed to just grab the train home and Lissy went out to party with mates. Would have loved to join her but was just too exhausted to do anything but sleep.

Road Trip

At Emma’s suggestion we rented a car and spent the whole of a wet cloudy sunday driving in the vineyards outside of Wellington. We had a picnic lunch and 2 wine tastings. At one vineyard we met some South African supporters and ended up chatting with them. Towards the end of the we headed back to Welly and drove along the south coast, just as the weather started clearing.

Wine Tasting

It was a great day with great girls!

South Coast

At the end of the day Freya, Jen and I stopped in town and Emma and Lissy returned the car and headed home. We all went to the Ekhaya suite to watch the England game and finally headed home at 9pm.

SICK!

The last few days in Wellington were spent with me being sick. It hit me really hard one night and just sat in my chest. Then moved to my sinuses and back to my chest. I hate to admit it but I must have been a misery to be around. I am ashamed to admit it that I get “man flu” when I am sick and pretty much curl in a ball and sulk. But after 9mths on the road relatively sick free it had to happen sometime.

Cable Car

I did get a chance to go with some of my wonderful friends from the Ekhaya suite up the cable car. It was not exactly what I expected, more like a vernicular. But the view was stunning the company fantastic. I will miss them when I leave.

Me, Vouise and Andy


Wellington

Free Movie

On our last night there Emma managed to get us a free ticket to “Friends with benefits” that included free popcorn and a drink. It was good to have a movie night and get some down time. At the end we realised that we had to run for the last train. You never realise how short you are until you have to run for a train with taller folks that just take bigger strides. It didn’t help that I was sick and feeling cruddy. But we made it in time, barely and got home without having to pay an exorbitant amount for a cab.

Wellington has been a great town, and I truly enjoyed my time there. I will miss my great friend, Emma, and her folks and all the wonderful people I met there.

But the ferry calls and so does the South Island. So am back on the road again.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Wellington/Rugby/Ekhaya – Days 219 onwards

8th September 2011 and more

The day after arriving, I pretty much did the following: sleep, movie, sleep! ‘Twas a good day!

Discovering a ‘Home away from Home’

Following my veg out day recovering from the overnight bus trip I headed into Wellington town itself. It was a Friday and I had heard about a South African Cultural Festival in the Civic Center. Hoping to discover some long missed South African delicacies I made my way there with much haste. Only to discover… nothing but sealed up tents. Popping into Tourist Info I was informed that the festival was only over the weekend. However, there was something going on at the Amora Hotel called the “Ekhaya Suite”.

Wandering over that way I discovered a very spiffy looking set up with important looking people. Apparently it was open to everyone, but it seemed way to formal. So I decided to head out and go to the Te Papa Museum and see if I could catch the Springbok team that was making an appearance.

“Ekhaya” means ‘home’ in Zulu. And within a couple of days that is exactly what this place became for me. My home away from home…with biltong

Meeting the Springboks

The Te Papa Museum is incredible and I could lost in there for hours. But I headed up to the 4th floor to see the Moari dance performance and hopefully get a chance to meet the team.

The performance was incredible. The group had just returned from touring Europe and I could see why. After a few dances they came into the crowd to let you try poi. These are light balls on short ropes that were traditional used to strengthen wrists, but now are part used in dances by women. It looks a lot easier than it is. I tried and almost tied myself up in knots. We also got the chance to try the haka, which was a great laugh.

Traditional Performance

At the end of the end of the performance you were in awe of the Maori culture and spirit.

Hier kom die bokke!

Finally it was time for the Springbok team to take the stage. We all eagerly formed a line, which then turned into 3 and finally into a slow moving mass. But I got to chat with some Irish and a Welsh guy named Mike. It took us almost an hour to get to the front of the line. I had worried that I had nothing for them to sign… well there is always something, but there were children present. But they handed out paper flags and so I was all set as I got to the stage. They are a lot bigger, even sitting down, than you think but full of smiles and even looking a little shy they happily signed and posed for pics. It was 3minutes of meeting compared to 1hr of waiting, but it was worth it. In line the Irish had asked me who was the best one to get a photo with, and I had to admit that I actually had no idea which was which.

Later that night when I called my folks to make my dad jealous over meeting them my dad asked: “Did you meet John Smit?”
“Which one is that?”
“The captain”
“Oh!”
“He was head boy of Pretoria boys high where I went to school”
“Oh!”
“Next time you meet him tell him I went there”
“Ummm ok”.

Who knows I might get to meet them again…

Bokke! Bokke Bokke!


Meeting the Springboks

After meeting the team, Mike and I wandered around the museum a bit, did the interactive Haka exhibit and went for a pint of cider.

Opening Game

Friday the 8th September was the much anticipated opening game for the Rugby World Cup, between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Tongan Ikhale Tahi teams. While I waited for everyone to arrive I enjoyed the Ukelele concert and the drumming group.

Emma, her dad and I had planned to watch it in the outside fanzone, but the weather turned cold and so we headed indoors to the town hall. I was concerned about a lack of atmosphere…but fear not, for as soon as the Tongan fans arrived it didn’t matter who was scoring, cause they cheered and sang regardless. By the end of the game you would sworn that Tonga had won by a landslide with the party atmosphere surrounding us. All in all it was a great way to start the world cup!

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Farewell Auckland – Days 217 and 218

7th and 8th September 2011

Power Outage

Last night just as we started watching “Invictus”, very appropriate for the Rugby World Cup that is about to start. All things requiring power turned off. At first we thought something had tripped, but it turned out that power was out all over. The thing that got us was just how quiet it was. You think its quiet when you go to bed and switch off the lights. But take away even the humm of electronics and the quiet is deeper. It was actually quiet a pleasant experience. I went to read in bed by torchlight.

All too soon the power was restored and we were all around the little square box watching the rest of the movie. Ahhh well!

Old Friends!

I have been very lucky in meeting up with old friends everywhere I go. Auckland was another of these places. Megan was a friend from primary school and I had not seen her in close to 20yrs. I had seen her briefly when I first arrived but got a chance to see her again for dinner after returning from Tonga. As we wandered around looking for food we immediately picked Nando’s. If you are South African you will understand, and if you are an expat in a country without Nando’s I don’t need to say anymore. It is always great catching up.

Old Friends

Plans…

So the plan had been to take the overnight bus to Wellington, stay with a mate and her family for 3weeks. Then take the bus back to Taupo and meet Kirsten for a night there. Then return to Auckland for the South Africa vs Samoa game and finally fly to Dunedin. But after meeting the 3 great girls on the Magic Bus tour, plans were in the midst of change.

Intercity Overnight

After saying farewell to Kirsten, Harvey and Rob, I boarded the overnight bus to Wellington. It left around 9pm (I say around because it was 20minutes late) and arrives at 7am. Now normally I would run for the hills if anything longer than a 4hr bus trip was in my future. But after South America, a piddly 10hr trip seems like a walk in the park. Plus I managed to get a whole 2 seats, SWEET AS BRO! So as soon as I was “snuggled” into my seat, I promptly spent the whole trip sleeping…or pretending to so that no one would sit next to me.

Bright and early at 7am we arrived in Wellington and I managed to find my way to the train, buy a ticket and head to my mates house 20min away.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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