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the long flight home


View New Zealand - 2014 on Ils1976's travel map.

Although I slept fairly well, when I looked at the time, it was a little after 4 AM, so this meant that I still had a bit of time left to close my eyes, but all of a sudden I hear Tania shouting that it is time to wake up.

Still completely out of this world because of lack of sleep as well as the medicine I was taking, I jumped out of bed. To me it felt like I just closed my eyes, but apparently I slept better than I thought coz it was already a little after 5 AM, time to wake up indeed!

First I was surprised that I didn’t hear the alarm clock going off, but as soon as I was standing on both my feet while trying to open my eyes properly, Tania mentioned that something went wrong coz her alarm clock didn’t went off.

In other words, it was a bit of luck that she woke up, otherwise we had missed our flight, but on the other hand, who invents these inhuman hours for flying anyway!!!???

We got dressed in speed mode and as soon as we splashed some cold water in our faces to make sure we were quite awake, we grabbed our bags and were on our way to the reception of the hotel to hand in our key cards.

Luckily we weren’t that late and as soon as we found our taxi, I noticed it was raining quite heavily, so it seemed that we chose the right day to fly back home again.

The taxi ride itself took about an hour and although I still feld a little bit sleepy, I couldn’t close my eyes, unlike Tania who seemed to had more trouble with it. But can you blame her, it was still the middle of the night and the wipers of the car going back and forth were certainly no help at all, at a given point I just stopped looking at them because I was a bit afraid to become hypnotised!

As soon as we arrived at the airport, we said goodbye to our friendly but quiet driver and than the search was on to find the right check-in, which on this early hour wasn’t too big of a problem.

They weren’t open yet, but we made sure we got in line behind a few other early birds and about 15 minutes later, we finally saw them arrive and half an hour later we were rid of all of our luggage and the search for a bit of food could finally begin.

Hungry as we were, we didn’t really wanted to opt for fast food in the morning and to be honest, there is not so many to choose from besides burgers and pizza, but at long last, we saw a French bakery and after a bit of looking around the decision was made, an almond croissant and a cup of Earl Grey Tea was going to be our choice of the morning and although it wasn’t the yummiest one I ever ate, it certainly was the most expensive one, boy, they certainly know their prices!

With a bit of food into our system and a bit of time on our hands, we just walked from store to store till it was time to board and this time, believe it or not, our flight was on time.

Unlike our arrival into the country, this time we were seated back in economy again and as soon as I found my designated seat, I wished for that business seat again. It is strange how quick you get used to something like that! :)

During our flight, I had not only the company of my best friend Tania next to me, but also a friendly woman from the UK, who went for business to Asia for the last half year. After take off, she and Tania started talking to eachother while I on the other hand wanted to make the most of this 7 hour flight and tried to finish my blog.

While we were on our trip, I don’t exactly had much time to write every evening and now with all of our adventures still fresh in my mind, it was now or never.

I don’t know how I did it, but during the entire flight I did nothing else but type and type and for a moment I thought I was going to become one of those rabbits with a Duracell battery in its behind! Okay, I know this isn’t exactly a right comparison, but now that I had a bit of inspiration, I might as well make the best of it.

When we finally descended into Dubai, my blog was as good as finished.

I was surprised to notice that those 7 hours went by so very fast and I didn’t even had a quick powernap. Unlike most of the people on the plane, I was quite awake and I was starting to think that maybe they had put something extra into my orange juice!

Not really thirsty but hungry as hell, the both of us went on the lookout for something to eat. Like usual, there was of course lots of fast food thingies and bakeries, but for some reason we didn’t immediately found something to our liking.

After checking out all the eateries, we finally decided to give the "Giraffe stop" a try. They had all kinds of things like sandwiches, soups and sweet things, but once I saw that they also had oatmeal with honey, I was sold and together with a big mug of tea, I was a happy person again.

Since we still had a bit of time to kill at the airport, we decided to do what all tourists do and went from one aisle to the another while stopping a few times at different shops, but after a while even that gets a bit boring and in the end we just went to our designated gate and waited till it was time to leave for Europe again, more specifically Amsterdam.

Boarding went once again very smoothly and instead of a friendly woman sitting next to me, I now had a weird but yet at the same time, kind of an interesting older gentleman next to me, but while I was so interested in finishing my blog, I didn’t spend time in asking why it took him hours to read his booklet on how to use a watch … am I glad I don’t own one! :)

3 hours into the flight I finally finished it and as a reward, I treated myself with a few interesting movies. The first one I saw was “The Hundred foot journey”. It was hilarious and told the story of an Indian family who moved to France to open a restaurant in a very small town. I really liked this one and it had been quite a long time since I saw such a good one, I can really recommend it!

After skipping dinner, I saw another movie and this time I had chosen the Australian movie „Tracks” which tells the true story of a young woman who crossed the Australian desert. She started her travels in Alice Springs and walked all the way on foot to the Indian Ocean together with her trusty dog and a few camels. All I can say about this movie is that it is a true tearjerker and if I thought that my first choice was a good one, this one was sublime! It really was a good movie!

Time was flying once again coz by the end of my second movie, there wasn’t even time anymore to see another one. With only half an hour to go, we were as good as home again. I tried to close my eyes for a while, but it just wasn’t working. I was not tired at all, which was kind of strange coz I was already up for more than 20 hours now.

Upon our arrival into Amsterdam, it seemed to take forever to get out of the plane and even longer to wait for our bags, but in the end they arrived and that was the most important thing.

As soon as we went through „arrivals”, it took a bit of searching to find my brother and mum but once we noticed them at the other side of the hall, we could finally say hello to each other again after more than a month. Although I love to travel, in a way i was glad to see them back again as well. I just can’t help it, that’s what you get when you are a family person I suppose!?

Not eaten very much during the flight, me and Tania wanted to „celebrate” the end of our adventure with a typical dish of the Netherlands called a „kroket”. It took us a bit of searching because it was already quite late to find something to eat, but we managed and a few minutes later, after our order, we could finally set our teeth into some greasy junkfood.

The perfect ending to an already memorable trip!

With this bit of delicious junk food into our stomachs, it was more than time to drive back to our homes. After driving a bit more than 2 hours we arrived in Schelle, the hometown of Tania and after a quick hello and goodbye to her parents, we were on the road again, only to arrive at our place about half an hour later. It felt so good to be back home again, but on the other hand, a small part of me was also sad that this trip was over.

Not really tired yet, I talked to my mum for a few hours and after a very hot bath in the wee early hours, I finally closed my eyes at 3 AM while dreaming of more exciting travels to come!

Posted by Ils1976 06:27 Archived in Belgium Tagged people sky home airport shopping city clouds friends plane asia movies Comments (4)

biking or zip lining, that’s the question?


View New Zealand - 2014 on Ils1976's travel map.

One day you get a bit depressed when you see rain, the next morning you wake up with a smile on your face when you see the sun shining. New Zealand is such a strange country and although I am here almost 3 weeks, I still can’t figure it out. Do I hate it or do I love it???

Like usual we had an early morning coz we needed to go on the road again and today we once again had a few hours of driving ahead of us, but luckily we were going to do something a bit more active as well and today we were going for a bike ride.

The trip from the small town of Te Anau to Arrowtown wasn’t that far, just about an hour and a half and as soon as we got there, we had some time to explore this old gold rush town a little bit more. Instead of trying to look for some lost gold flakes, me and Tania just relaxed on a terrace and enjoyed the sun on our face while having a marvelous cup of chai latte together with a yummy scone. I can’t describe how delicious the selfmade jam was without drooling, it was just that good!

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Now that we had a bit of real food in our system (because how long can a person survive on cereals and a piece of toast), we were ready for our 13 km long bike ride from Arrowtown to the Kawarau bridge where me and Tania jumped off just a few days ago. Thinking about that day made me wanna relive it and I guess Tania was thinking the same thing coz as soon as we all got our bikes, she went off like a rabbit on cocaine. I tried to follow but my scone drug of this morning wasn’t helping, so instead I just made it a relaxing one and together with a few members of our group we made sure this trip was going to be unforgettable. During our ride we made a lot of jokes, had some speeding contests, made a few picture stops, but most of all we just laughed and enjoyed the scenery.

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Upon our arrival at the bridge, we saw people jumping off it and although I knew that there wasn’t any time left for me to do this as well, I secretly hoped that Tania got her chance and could jump for a second time. When I met up with her, I was a bit sad to hear that she didn’t and as I wanted to ask Craig if it was possible to do the zip lining, he also declined. Apparently there wasn't enough time. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t that bad after all coz there was so much wind, but still, instead I just resorted to looking at the jumpers but unlike a few days ago, the people were just hooked with a harness around their waist. The weather wasn’t really permitting a bungee jump, but a normal jump was allowed. We were so lucky that we could do the real one. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes luck is a bit on our side. A bit that is! :)

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On the other hand, maybe I wrote this down too soon coz while almost our entire group waited for the last people to arrive at the bridge, we suddenly realized that we missed 3 persons. In the beginning we thought they were still coming because they were just slow riders, but when our driver Craig went on the track and tried to find time for about half an hour, they were no where to be found. What the heck???

During our bike ride, we always had to follow the stream, but it looked like those 3 had taking the wrong track which went all the way to Queenstown.

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Not something we wanted of course, so we left Helen behind and the search went on for a tall German guy and 2 petit Australian girls. In the beginning it was kinda funny, but after driving more than half an hour it wasn’t. I even started to think we were never going to find them because once lost, there are more than one side tracks you can take. Where the heck are they??? 

Thankfully Helen called that they were finally at the bridge and as soon as we were back on the road again, we drove all the way back to Kawarau bridge where our 3 missing „sheep" were waiting for us. All in all I am just happy to see that nothing went wrong, but on the other hand I am a bit selfish as well as I was thinking that while all this drama was going on, I’d better had stayed at the bridge so that I had time for a zip line adventure. Am I bad or am I bad!?

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With everyone back on the bus, we continued further along the road towards Lake Ohau, the place where we were going to spend the night. It was still quite a drive and while we passed once again some amazing sceneries, thanks to my great selection of music I fell asleep once more, only to wake up again when we stopped at a small shop alongside the road. This place was called Jones’s fruit stall where you could buy some delicious fruit as well as dried fruit, nougat and all kinds of nuts. If you are a fruit lover, you really would go „nuts" about it.

The two of us bought a nice selection of everything, some freshly cut pineapple, a box of cherries and of course, how can we resist it, nougat with honey and kiwi. What is not to like about that. If the weather isn’t good, the food has to be! :)

Back on the road again, we had one more stop in a small town called Cromwell. It is not like there is much to see in this little town except for a giant display of fruit while entering the town, but I have to admit, the Pad Thai they served in the local Thai restaurant was more than fine to me. For dessert we still had some pineapple and as soon as we all had the lunch we wanted, we could jump back on the bus for another 2 hours of driving towards the lake.

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During our ride, we saw the blue sky turn into some kind of thick pea soup of clouds and soon after even dark clouds where hovering around the Lake Ohau area. By the time we reached it, rain was pooring again. It seemed it was going to haunt us wherever we went. Instead of going for a run around the lake, I chose to relax in a hot bath and by the time I was totally zen again, it was time to have dinner as well. This was going to be our last meal together with the group and afterwards, a few of us met up at the bar. Not that we were such a big party group, but with a few drinks, some nice conversations and from time to time even funny dance moves, the evening wasn’t all that bad.

At 11 PM we all called it a night, after all, we all had to get out of bed early and in the end I think we made a wise decision coz as soon as I crawled into my bed, my Vodka Raspberry did his work and brought me straight to dreamland.

Posted by Ils1976 12:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains bridges art people sky water flowers town river plants clouds friends house sports road tour bike group oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

another bright day in town

Since we had another free day today, this meant that we could sleep in as well and that is just what I needed after a day like yesterday. After not sleeping a whole night the day before, this was more than welcome, but we still wanted to do some stuff today, so we set our alarm clock at about 8.15 AM and while the damn thing was making its usual noise, we slowly got dressed and had some breakfast.

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We didn’t plan any extreme activities today because like always you’ll never know what the weather is going to be like, but for some reason the weather gods agreed with us and as soon as we opened the curtains, we saw a nice blue sky and that yellow thing that we saw yesterday was back again as well. What a little bit of sunshine can do to a person coz I felt instant happiness.

Because we didn’t plan nothing, this didn’t mean of course that we weren’t planning of doing nothing. Lots of people from our group said to us yesterday that the view from up the mountain was so beautiful, so we planned to go and have a look around. Unlike everyone else, who just took the gondola upstairs and back down again, we wanted to go and hike up the mountain and of course come back as well.

I know that we looked like a few crazy tourists, but since we started this trip we did so many active things, that walking up a mountain is just a part of it all.

As soon as we arrived at the base of the gondola, we could follow the tiki trail all the way up and that was just the thing we wanted to do. The start was pretty steep and so was the middle and the end. For an hour long we did nothing else but climb and climb and this wouldn’t be a biggie if it weren’t for the trail itself. It wasn’t always that flat, sometimes we had to cross rocks, roots, trees, you name it what you can find in nature and we crossed or passed it. But I have to admit that the views on the way up were so nice and as soon as we arrived at the top of the mountain, we even got rewarded with more than beautiful sceneries. It was just so worth it!

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Going back down wasn’t as easy as well coz now we had to do it all over again and sometimes we thought we were going to slide from the mountain sooner than later, but about an hour later we were back at the base, happy to have made it and done with this morning exercise.

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Since it was already after 12 AM, we just went for a quick bite at the local bakery and than we were in search for some bikes. We wanted to rent one for the remaining of the afternoon. Now that the weather was still so nice, we had to make the best of it and what better way to do it than with a cycling trip.

It wasn’t hard to rent a bike, finding a good one was a bit harder, but after a bit of walking, we finally found the right bike shop and about 15 minutes later we were out of the place and were ready to start a trip along the lake, that is if you know that you have to ride on the left hand side, which I must say, wasn’t always that easy for the both of us and I was more than happy that most of the trip we just had to follow the gravel road.

The views we saw on the way were so amazing but by the time we ended up on the other end of the lake, we urgently needed some food into our body and this was hard to come by. It seemed we were always too far away from civilization if you didn’t count the endless houses with a lake view.

It took us a few more minutes of riding when we suddenly saw a sign to a golf club , which also had a cafe and it invited all travelers along the way. This was the ideal situation and since we craved for some food, we went for it. Only the way up wasn’t all that easy and the road was just too steep for me to handle. I had to go further on foot, but hey, although completely tired, I made it.

We ordered some pumpkin soup and afterwards we split a passion fruit muffin and with some food in our system, we felt more human again.

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Back on track about half an hour later, the road got more heavier and above all, it wasn’t as flat anymore, there were rocks on it and getting up a hill wasn’t that easy. I am not a real experienced mountain biker, so after we came to a certain lookout point, it was the ideal place for me to end this ride all together and although Tania went a little further to go and have a look, she also told me it came to an end at a beach. There wasn’t much to do anymore than slowly drive back to the centre of Queenstown where we arrived about a few hours later.

As soon as we got rid of our bike, we searched for some more food and this time we went again for the noodle canteen. It is quick, it is eatable and I guess it is a bit more healthier dan going to do golden arches every day, so we weren’t exactly complaining.

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The sun was still shining so bright that we enjoyed every sunbeam. We walked around town till the sun was almost setting and before we went back to our room, we went for another piece of lemon meringue. It was just so yummy and after a day full physical activities, I felt like we kind of deserved it. 

Since we were going to leave tomorrow for another part of the tour, this meant packing again and this time it was a bit more difficult with all the souvenirs and stuff, but we made it. A quick shower later, I called it a night and closed my eyes. I must have been more tired than expected coz I fell asleep in an instant.

Posted by Ils1976 06:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains bridges sky flowers monument lake plants adventure walk clouds friends hike trail oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

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