World Travels by Casey

Arrived in Auckland, NZ

Walking thru the Auckland airport at 11pm and headed to customs I was hit with this overwhelming feeling. It's hard to explain how I was feeling exactly but I was suddenly trying to take long, slow, deep breaths to calm myself down. I didn't wan to cry but I think it was the reality that several months of travailing world wide were now ahead of me and I was officially at day 1!
Alicia and Scott were so sweet, they came inside the airport to get me as I walked out of the security area. I was finally meeting the Peters family that Naomi, a friend from Crossfit had put me in touch with. Until now we had only communicated thru Face Book and for this connection and a few others I think I like Face Book that much more now! They were so kind to offer to pick Alicia and I up 1 day apart from each other at the airport and drive us to their house and allow us to stay with them for as long as we wanted. They quickly adopted us.

I had my first encounter with the driver seat in the car being on the right hand side when Scott went to (what I thought was my door) the door to get in and I thought, that was nice of him to open the door for me but why isn't he moving out of the way so I can get in? That's when Alicia noticed what I was doing and said, Casey, the other side. Haha!

I have heard so many great things about Kiwi's and how friendly they are and eager to show off their land to visitors and then I quickly saw a different side, a comical one as we were all trying to pay the machine to exit the parking lot of the airport. A guy was $2 short at the machine and he kept pushing the help button to explain his situation all the while cars were jamming up behind him honking and people yelling out their windows at the guy responsible. Scott then said, not every kiwi is as nice. A guy got out of his car and walked up to the car having issues and yelled into the box at the person on the other end, "open the bloody gate! There is 20 cars backed up out here! Open the gate!" finally the gate opened and a driver yelled at the box one last time as he was exiting and the man (in the box) yelled back... and what he yelled back was nothing more then yelling noises! It was pretty hilarious.

My first day here (Valentines Day) Alicia and I went to the CBD (central business district) in other words into the city of Auckland via train (similar to Portland's Max). Scott put some money on a Train/bus card to get us started out with our stay here. After Alicia and I arrived in the city we hung out in the train station for a bit to take advantage of free wifi now that we don't have cell plans and then loaded some more money onto the train/ bus cards. We walked around the city ALL day! We hit the Free city art museum first that's very similar to the PDX art museum. we toured around ourselves for a bit and then went outside to eat lunch that we had in our packs. Bars I had brought from Oregon and some food Alicia got at the grocery store the day before I arrived.
We returned back for a free tour a little bit later that was well worth it and we had a lovely tour guide.
Then we walked thru the city hitting a few other free wifi areas along the way (the library, McDonalds...) trying to connect with people in the area we were trying to meet up with. He found a relaxing place at the harbor? Looks like a location cruise ships would come into. We kicked back on some comfortable benches and enjoyed the sun and watching sail boats and kite surfers go by. As the evening came around we walked back towards the art museum where the Lantern festival was kicking off for the weekend in the park behind the museum. We got some great pictures of all the Chinese lanterns and had some tasty fair food for dinner.

Before heading back home we hit up the grocery store which took us a bit trying to find things like eggs that were not in the refrigerator area but in the aisles. The store was gross! There were broken eggs all over one of the egg shelves and a broken jar of spaghetti sauce near the front of the store, where people sit and eat that no one seemed to care about. Also, they had no checkers the only option for buying grocery's was the self check options which seemed a little bit advanced to the U.S. Speaking of shopping, the U.S. dollar is currently a little bit stronger then New Zealand dollar so that is good since this was supposed to be one of our expensive countries.

One the train home a guy asked Alicia and I how our valentines was going and of course we said great. When he got off at his stop he gave us each a cherry flavored Hershey’s kiss. We both thought that was very nice of him.

Yesterday, Saturday we met up with some friends of Alicia’s grandmother who lives in Florida. They, Brian and Cathy have a daughter who lives in NZ with her family so they come to visit on occasion. We had a great time with them! They took us to a tourist look out/ visitor center called Arataki that was beautiful and head great phtoto opps! =) Then to coffee at the Hardwear café in the village near the Peters house, Titirangi where some guys around my ager were talking at a table near by about how the USA is full of genetically made foods and that they don't want that here in NZ. I kind of wanted to jump into that conversation and let them know that I didn't see much of a difference between Home and NZ.  
From there we headed to a beach where it was nice but to windy to lay out so we explored a bit and then ventured off to see our first NZ sheep and have beers at the oldest NZ tavern (it was really nice) I had a hard cider that was ahhh… just like the best ones I’ve ever had in Europe! Clear, clean, & crisp! We had our pictures taken with some strapping young men dressed in drag for 2 separate bachelor parties.  And then headed off for dinner at the home of Brian and Cathy’s daughter before heading back to our home base – Scott and Tish’s house.

Some things I have noticed about New Zealand that I find interesting:

There is very much an Oregon feel to it, lush and beautiful and the weather is pretty similar just opposite seasons but it has a rainforest feel to it as well.

There are no snakes on the island or raccoons (yes!)

They don’t make straight black coffee, basically you get an Americano if you want straight black coffee. They don’t think American’s know how to make coffee. So you have your options of a long black (americano), short white (americano w/cream) or a flat white. Those are the closest you will get to an American style reg. coffee and Starbucks is around but it’s not popular.

It’s kind of 2nd world here and stuck in the past as far as their style and technology goes. 80’s music is played a lot and popular music in the U.S. but not the new popular stuff. Casts (for broken bones) are made of plaster Paris and slinged around the person. Kids take the public transportation to school, they don’t have buses and the kids mostly wear uniforms. Kids can also go to school anywhere they but if they are outside their district they need to apply. A lot of kids have pagers instead of cell phones.

The drinking age is 18

Round-abouts on the road are SUPER popular!

Gas is currently about $8 a gallon here and they do their gas by the liter not the gallon. You pump your own gas but they don’t have a pay at the pump option yet. You have to go inside to pay. Do you think I should tell them what the future will be like?

Today (Sunday) Alicia and I visited 2 different beaches the last one was gorgeous! It felt like Fiji and was also an off leash dog beach. The first beach we got some Kayak time in and had a reef shark below us caught in a fishing net and jumping out of the water. It was a relaxing day with the Peters family and homemade fish taco bar with grilled pineapple for dinner.

My posts will be getting shorter now that I feel caught up and we are getting close to leaving a  place were we have internet practically at our finger tips , just an FYI. I will post an update on the money I have spent so far ON the trip soon.