I’ve been wanting to go here for the longest time, since I was a kid watching Cardcaptor Sakura. Yes that’s an anime. It’s also where I first discovered cherry blossoms, and then lost my mind when I realized they were real flowers that grew on real trees. Since then though, I’ve discovered more about Japan, and the more I hear, the more I want to go. There’s so much culture, sights, experiences there that I wouldn’t get to do anywhere else!
We’re hoping to go next year, and we plan to visit at least Tokyo and Kyoto!
If we ever get here, it will be nothing short of a miracle. I searched flights to Iceland from New Zealand and it takes more than a day, and is crazy expensive. That being said, I still want to go. I’ve been hearing more and more about the natural beauty and landscapes of Iceland, and seeing it through a screen has never been enough. Not to mention, the Northern Lights. If I could see it in person, I think I would lose my mind. Iceland literally looks like it’s another world, and deserves to be on every travel wishlist.
Europe in general is on my list, but there’s a few countries which I want to see more than others. Greece being one of the top. You guys may know the place in Greece I’m thinking of. Santorini. Look up any pictures of that place and tell me it isn’t stunning! The colours of the houses against the cliff, the water, the views. It all looks incredible. Culture wise, I don’t know too much about Greece, but I would be willing to learn. Also, if someone is willing to pay for me to get there, I would gladly accept.
So this may be more Harry Potter related more than anything. Also, from pictures I’ve seen of Scotland, it reminds me a lot of New Zealand. Lots of grass, farm animals, gloomy weather, I feel like I could live there. They do have a lot of history, and castles, and it’s always been on the back of my mind to visit. Rory also has lineage there, so maybe visiting Scotland will be in the works one day.
This time, it’s fairytales that draw me here. So much photos I see online of Europe villages and towns look like they came out of a story book. I want to see them. Also, the food in Germany looks to be on another level of decadence. Maybe I should just visit a whole bunch of European countries. They have train tours right where you stop in a few countries. That would be amazing!
I may have gone a little on a tangent there in the end, but there you have it! Five places on my travel wishlist that I would love to visit! I don’t know if I’d ever get them all ticked off, but a girl can dream right?
As you guys may or may not know, Rory and I have been away the past few days. We went up to Auckland, and Waiheke Island for my sister’s wedding. It was good fun catch up with family, beautiful scenery and some amazing food. Also, lots of photos. Seriously, nearly all of us were busy snapping away the whole trip, that we have a whole shared album on Google Photos and it keeps growing! (I apparently took over 700 photos during the weekend, a new record!)
On Sunday morning, we headed off to the airport for our short flight up to Auckland. Once we got there, we took a bus up to the ferry terminal, then caught the ferry to Waiheke Island. By the time we got there, it was lunchtime! We caught up with the family and had some fish and chips.
After lunch, we headed off to our little place we were staying at. It was a neat little studio with some pretty gardens.
Rory and I decided to explore around the village for most of the afternoon.
We stopped by for some gelato. I had lemon and thyme cheesecake and Rory had Coconut and Lime.
Then we stopped by and lay in the sun at Oneroa Beach.
Later that day, we all caught up at the place where the rest of the crew was staying. They had rented a holiday home for a few days, and it was really nice! They were quite high up so they got some good views.
We had dinner together and made the plan for the following day.
Wedding day! We were up and over at the holiday home by 8.30am. Jo had her hair stylist arrive and then florist. As we all ran this way and that getting ready ourselves. By 10(ish) we were ready to go and headed over to Mudbrick.
The wedding was beautiful and sweet, made even more amazing by the place we were in. As I said, we all got snap happy and took lots of pictures. Here’s a bunch.
The food was also incredible. It was four courses, and I tried my best to get through all of them. The whole meal took a few hours, and by the end it was mid-afternoon and no one even considered having dinner.
After the wedding, we all headed back to the holiday home one last time and just hung out together for the rest of the day.
Tuesday saw us all up not so early, as we took a little lie-in before catching the ferry back to Auckland City. Mum, Dad and Andrew headed back to Wellington, while we crashed at Jo and Tib’s place for one more night. Jo and I (plus Rory) decided to head to town to do a little shopping just for fun. We also had lunch out.
I wound up buying a few things, but otherwise I resisted pretty well. In Lush, I got another bath bomb, this time Avobath. At Mecca Maxima I got a mini version of Too Faced’s Natural Radiant Concealer. In Farmers I got the NYX Photobox Primer, and Real Technique’s Miracle Complexion Sponge.
Back at their place, Jo showed me some clothes she wasn’t too keen on, so I have a few new pieces. This white lacey singlet thingy, and this super comfy shirt with some kind of American slogan. It’s soo comfy though.
The next morning, we flew back to Wellington, and now we’re home! That’s it for my little recap of our mini getaway. It was such a nice couple of days, and I have an endless supply of pictures so I’m happy! As always though, it’s nice to come home after being away as well. I have a few more Waiheke Island posts coming up, but I wanted to start off with this recap.
Hey! So this is kind of a DIY post, I just wanted to share a little project I’ve been working on in my office. It’s not finished yet, but I wanted to show what I’ve done so far.
The idea came to me randomly, I am a fan of scrapbooking, but it requires a lot of time and I get impatient. So I made it a little smaller, I thought why not make a little wall display of the places I’ve been to.
I printed a bunch of maps of the countries I’ve been to, and a bunch of photos from all the places. I made the photos small, so that I could collage them around the maps. Then, I also got some themed cardboard paper, and some sticky notes.
The next step was cutting everything out, which I always enjoy for some unknown reason. Then I chose a themed paper for each country. I stuck the map in the middle, and all around I stuck photos from my time there. I dotted the cities I’d been too, but realized you couldn’t see it from a distance. So I used the sticky notes to write the city name clearer.
Here’s how it looks so far.
It turned out pretty good! I had no image in my head at first of what the end product would be like. I want to do more on it. I’m not sure what though. I don’t have much memorabilia from my time overseas. All my Peru ones are in a prior scrapbook, and while I do have some tickets, and other things left from trips, I feel like it would get too messy. I don’t know, it’s still a work in progress, but I like having it up in the office.
Any ideas on ways I could extend my little travel wall?
Since this post is still really popular I thought I would include an update of my travel wall. I have since included a scratch map, and used that as the centre of my travel wall. As I do more on it, I’ll be sure to update this post again!
**Guys! We still have no Wi-Fi and it is a pain trying to get it sorted. So here’s an old post about somewhere I would love to teleport back to right now. FIJI! Rereading this cheered up my day, so I hope it cheers your day up too!**
As you’d know from Honeymooning Through Food, we stayed at Taveuni Island Resort. To travel there from New Zealand was a bit tricky however. We flew from Wellington to Nadi on Sunday afternoon (it takes around 3 and a half hours). Then we needed to take a connecting flight from Nadi to Taveuni. The timing of both flights always clashed. So we ended up having to stay the night in Nadi. This was on our first night in Fiji, and again on our last night as we ran into the same problem timetable wise.
For our one-night stay in Nadi, we booked with Aquarius on the Beach. This was a lovely hostel, only 15 minutes from the airport. They also offer to pick you up and drop you off to the airport (for only $14 FJD), so we thought it would be a good place to stay.
The last chapter of our Peru Adventures. It was an amazing experience altogether! I’m so glad I did it, I have so many stories from it! I hope you enjoy this final chapter and entry on my trip to Peru!
After our Amazon adventure, we spent our last few days in Peru mostly relaxing at the hostel. We stayed at Golondrinas Hostel, which was lovely, as it had a pool. As we were winding down and getting ready to come back home, we didn’t do as much the three days we were there. We visited the Plaza de Armas as we always do, and took a look around the local neighbourhood.
We did visit Pilpintuwasi, which is a nature and wildlife conservation park. Entry tickets were only 10 soles ($4 NZD) for students. Getting to the park itself was a bit trickier. You have to take a boat there, and arriving at the dock, you will be bombarded with many people offring to take you there. Sarah and I pushed our way through and went with an English speaking gentleman who took us over in a little boat. He was under the impression that I was a local taking Sarah around. He was surprised when I said I was also from New Zealand. We made it to the park in no time and went off to explore.
We saw lots of animals again. Toucans, parrots, butterflies…Orcilla, Sloths, capuchin and uakari monkeys, and more. These were all rescue animals and being looked after by mostly volunteers. We really enjoyed having a look at the butterfly farm too.
All in all, this month long adventure was an amazing experience. I saw and did so much that I would never have done if I didn’t join Sarah on this trip. The pictures and videos I took are all safely stored so I can peruse them as much as I want. Relieving them through this blog again has been a blast! We did stop by Tahiti for a few days on the way back, but I’ll save that for another day 😉
So, we’ve nearly come to the end of me reliving the best parts of my Peru trip I took with Sarah a few summers back! I hope you’ve been enjoying these, as reading them all over again has been quite special for me 🙂
Iquitos was our last stop in this month long Peru Trip. We arrived at the airport and were immediately picked up to go to our lodge in the Rainforest. We spent five days in the Amazon Rainforest, getting amazing catered meals, going out on tour everyday, seeing an amazing range of animals and sights, and constantly battling mosquitos.
We took a boat ride down the river for around 3 hours before arriving at Muyuna Lodge. We went with the Majestic River package, which was for five days. Once we arrived, we quickly got settled in. The lodge was beautiful. Just sitting in our room, it was nice to sit and listen to all the new noises around us. Then we went out on our first of many boat rides. We saw sloths, vultures, birds, monkeys. At one point our guide, Edson, was explaining about catfish, then just pulled one out of the water for us to have a closer look.
We went back to the lodge for dinner ,then we were off again to have a look at some nocturnal animals. We went by and had a look at some young caiman. Again, Edson gently scooped one up so we could have a closer look. It was very relaxed as we had a good look at it. The food at the lodge is amazing, it’s all catered, and there’s a wide selection.
On our second day, we went for a walk into the rainforest. We saw monkeys, snakes, insects.
We also heard this crazy noise, we thought it was some ferocious animal, turned out to be a howler monkey. I didn’t get a video of the sound they made, but here’s a video I found on youtube. They’re small, but so loud.
So afterwards we had lunch then went piranha fishing. I managed to catch only one teeny one, I have no fishing skills. It was still exciting when I felt the reel wriggle though.
After dinner, we went for a stroll nearby. This time we saw frogs, another snake, and a tarantula. The last one was a bit of a shock. Edson pointed in a direction and said there was a tarantula. I couldn’t see it and kept looking around then realized it was sitting on a tree branch near my face. My freaked out reaction amused the rest of the group.
The third day was meant to be a longer hike, a few hours worth, but me, Sarah and the Canadian couple with us on the tour pulled out after 45 minutes. The mosquitos are very intense in the forest. We were covered from head to toe and douses in strong insect repellant and we still got stung. Also whenever you moved you were just covered in a cloud of mosquitos, they know when someone warm-blooded is around. So instead, we visited a nearby village, which was nice.
We had our boat ride after dinner again. This time we found some glass frogs. They’re very small, and the unique thing about them is you can see some of their insides. Their abdominal skin is translucent, so by shining our lights on them, you could see their internal organs. It was so weird and fascinating. I held it on a leaf and looked at it for ages, luckily it didn’t seem too mind and was happy for me to stare. Sorry for the blurry picture, but in our excitement we didn’t check the quality of them until once we were back in the lodge.
The fourth day woke us up with pouring rain. When it cleared, we rode to another part of the river. We saw pink dolphins! I didn’t get a good picture of them as they were too fast, but they’re a light pinkish colour. We were offered a chance to go swimming in the river, but I declined as I’m not a confident enough swimmer, but Sarah dove in.
After lunch we took a canoe ride. Sarah, Edson and I didn’t really have a destination in mind, we just let the river take us downstream and chatted a little. At one point the rain came back, but as it was warm rain we didn’t mind. We just kept rowing and chatting. Then five minutes later, the rain just stopped and it became sunny again. We also got to get clsoe to a baby sloth who was hanging out on a lower branch. We opted to relax in our lodge after dinner and to start packing as our time in the rainforest was coming to an end.
We took one last boat ride around the next morning. Then we said good bye to everyone and took the three hour long ride back to Iquitos.
Muyuna Lodge was a fantastic stay. Edson was an amazing guide, the food at the lodge was amazing and the staff were so friendly. They made our Amazon Rainforest experience amazing. If you’re planning a trip to the Amazon, go with Muyuna Lodge, they’ll take great care of you.
Next up and final stop on our Peru Travels, Iquitos.
Ica threw us into the desert part of Peru. It was also my introduction to how I don’t cope well in 30 degrees heat. I get very cranky and I’m constantly aware of how sweaty I feel. That may also have been related to me being sick during this leg of the trip. But we soldiered on, determined to soak in as much as we can, including spending a night in Huacachina, a neat little oasis just next to Ica.
After an uncomfortable bus ride from Cusco to Ica, where I was still feeling sick from the final days of the trek, we arrived in Ica. The hostel we stayed at was Ica Wasi Hospedaje. We had a great stay here. The owners were lovely and chatty, and helped me explain my cough related sickness at the pharmacy. A few days on meds and I was back to normal. I was so grateful.
I will now again talk (complain) about how hot it was. It was humid all the time, sleeping was hard. Even with no blankets and minimal layers, it’s still too hot. Purifying tap water meant drinking clean, warm water. What I’m trying to say is, I like warm weather, not hot weather.
We took mototaxis everywhere in Ica. Boy are they fun/scary. But walking around in the heat was just too much for us. We went to the regional museum of Ica, where they had a mini version of the Nazca Lines out back which was neat, as we weren’t able to see the real ones.
Later on, we checked out local shops and cafes. It was also recommended to us to try a Pisco Sour, a well known-Peruvian cocktail. Again, I don’t really drink, I have never really liked the taste of alcohol. It looked really nice, but I could only drink half, and I didn’t think much of it. I’m sure someone else would have loved it.
Huacachina was a blast. The hostel we stayed at was Banana’s Adventure. I got the same vibe from the hostel we stayed at in Cusco. It was very social, youth-oriented and as a bonus, had great food. We also walked around the whole town and had a blast.
We went for a dune buggy ride along the nearby sand dunes. It was a lot of fun, and we even got to try sandboarding down the dunes. We went through Nazca Flights as they offered touring around Ica. The price was 65 soles ($28 NZD), but it didn’t include the entry fee of 3.5 soles. It’s definitely worth it for a run afternoon of zooming around the sand dunes.
Can you see how much I was sweating in the above photo? We just couldn’t escape the heat.
That evening (when it was cooler and we felt much more social), we hung out in the hostel talking with some other travellers.
For today’s Peru Adventures post, I wanted to share one of the highlights. Our five day trek leading up to Machu Picchu!
The Inca trail is the best known track to hike up to Machu Picchu. It’s extremely popular, and books out very fast. For our trek up, we decided to choose the road less travelled. We went with the Salkantay Route. We booked a five day tour with Salkantay Trekking, as they came highly recommended. It was certainly one of hardest and most rewarding treks I’ve ever done.
Day 1 started with us getting picked up in the van at 5.30am. We met the rest of our group. Ash, Ally, Rebecca, Andrew and Charlie were from Australia. Brent, Holly and Julie were from USA. Then Sarah and me from New Zealand. Our guide was Hector, it was a good group. We drove for a few hours, stopping off in Mollepata (2900m above sea level) for a rest stop and optional breakfast. Then we kept driving up to Challabamba (3550m) where we started our trek. By now it was 9.30, and we were all ready to start. We only needed our day packs from here, as the staff had mules to assist us in carrying the larger packs and tents. It was a slow slope up, and we all enjoyed the view of the valleys and streams. This part of the hike took around three hours, and it was nice. We walked and talked and got to know each other. We also made sure that everyone had altitude sickness pills with them, as after going through that in Arequipa, I didn’t want to go through it again. Not fun. A few hours later, we arrived at Soraypampa (3850m), had lunch and rested.
We were given the option to walk up to Lake Humantay (4270m) after lunch. A round trip takes just under 3 hours. It was a very steep uphill climb. We all had to stop a couple of times to catch our breath. My legs were starting to ache after already walking a few hours this morning. But we all made it, and the lake was beautiful. The clouds were starting to come in, but that made everything look more mystical. The photo below I credit to Sarah. She has a good eye 😀
It rained quite hard that night, but lying down inside the tent, it was quite comforting and I slept very well. We walked for just under 6 hours, and covered a distance of 12km.
Day 2 is said to be the hardest day. It’s also the day where you hit the highest peak. Salkantay Pass, at an impressive 4630m above sea level. We had an early start and started heading up. It took around three hours to climb from the rocky valley to get to the peak. It wasn’t too bad at first, like the first day, it was just a gentle slope. Then it kept getting steeper, and it looked like it would never end. This part was excruciating for me. Sarah and I stopped many many times, as did many in our group. My legs were not happy with me, and I was leaning all my weight into the walking poles, willing myself to just keep going and dragging my body up the terrain. I focused on my breathing and focused every part of my mind and soul on just continuing up. Eventually, we reached the top, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much relief in my life.
So much relief on my face.
The walk down the mountain wasn’t bad, but it started raining for real. So now we were wet and tired. 2 hours of walking later, we reached our lunch spot, rested, then continued on our walk. This time we were walking through the top part of the Amazon Forest, where the weather became so hot that we had to lose all the layers we’d put on during the ascent. This part of the hike took around 3 hours, and we were just surrounded by lush greenery. The rain had also made parts of the walk incredibly muddy though, I sank all the way to my knee in one part when I wasn’t paying attention where I was going. Sarah and Hector had to grab my arms and help yank me out. Good times.
We reached our campsite in the evening at Chaullay (2850m), there was a shower there which I was grateful for. We had a nice dinner, chatted lots about the day’s hike, and relaxed. We walked for around 8 hours, and covered a distance of 22km.
Day 3 was a shorter walk. I was feeling the effects of the previous day’s walk so I’m glad the walk was basically on flat ground. We hiked through the jungle for around five hours. Since this was an easier walk than yesterday, we were all able to walk and talk and take our time. I did start to develop a bit of a cough however, I figured it was after effects of putting my body through that workout the day before.
We ended up in Santa Teresa (1650m), and went to the Hot Springs. My legs felt much better after that. My whole body was more relaxed than it had been in days. I felt refreshed and ready to take on the last day of hiking before reaching our destination!
Photo credit to Guide Trip. I forgot to take my own photos there, cause I was too busy relaxing!
We walked for five hours, convering a distance of 15 km.
Day Four had the least amount of hiking. It was all pretty much flat terrain again. I was very thankful for this, as my cough wasn’t getting any better. My legs were no longer sore thanks to the hot springs though. We walked along tracks for the whole way to Aguas Calientes pretty much.
Then once we were we reached Aguas Calientes that afternoon, we were off to our respective hostels. We met up for dinner that night, and confirmed the plans to meet up the next morning to catch the bus up to Machu Picchu. We walked 15km this day again.
Day 5 started off with a bit of a hitch. A giant boulder blocked the path, so buses weren’t able to take us to the entrance. So instead, we had to take the stairs. It took us an extra hour than originally planned, but we finally got to Machu Picchu! We took one final group photo and had a short tour with Hector. Then we said bye and split off in groups to explore it on our own. I’m going to devote tomorrow’s post to just our time in Machu Picchu. It deserves a post all on it’s own.
Tomorrow, I’m going to share (again) all the pictures we took up at Machu Picchu!