Monday, February 18, 2008

Back From Vacation

Hey All! I’m finally back; back home after a long holiday hiatus. Hope you all have been well. Although I’m still recovering from jet lag somewhat, I cannot wait to tell you all about my overseas adventures. On my trip across the pond, I saw, heard, touched and experienced many things that were beyond imagination, at least for me. In the process, I learned and developed a new appreciation for nature that I never had before.

So about three weeks ago, I took the opportunity to escape city life and embarked on a twenty-two hour flight across the country and over the Pacific Ocean to the island country of New Zealand. It was sort of a spontaneous trip originally proposed by a friend of mine. She wanted company on her travel and since I needed time away to recuperate from my broken clavicle, I decided to join her for the trip.

The journey began with an auspicious start. My flight out of NYC was delayed for 4 hours, causing me to miss my original connecting flight in Los Angeles. It ordinarily wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, except that because of the flight change, my bag was not yet there by the time I landed in New Zealand. Not only that, but because I miss another scheduled flight on the night of my arrival that was supposed to take me from the North Island to the South Island, I had to spend my first night at the airport waiting for the first flight to the South Island. So, no bags, and no place to stay that first night…not a good way to start vacation.

But once I got to my first destination, Christchurch, the next morning, everything seemed to work out pretty well from there. As backpackers, my friend and I drove up and down the South Island, through most of the important towns. We stopped frequently along the way to do a lot of hiking. And boy, were there lots of hikes. There were hikes up mountains, hikes alongside rivers and streams, twenty minute hikes and six hour hikes. Honestly, I had never hiked as much as I did during this one trip. I guess the reasons they have so many hiking trails is to take advantage of some of the most breathtaking scenery that nature has to offer. Although the trek maybe difficult at times, the sights at the end were so spectacular that you never felt like you were disappointed by your efforts. Not only so, but at times, you got to see beautiful flowers, mushrooms, and the occasional animal in their natural habitat. I mean, where else, can you see a penquin walking in front of you, seals and sea lions sunbathing close enough for you to touch, and dolphins jumping in and out of the water less than 5 feet away from where you’re treading water. I am saying all of this because I have never been a big nature person before, having grown up in big cities all my life. But after this trip, I think I might have to rethink that.(I have included some of the better pictures for your enjoyment. I hope they do some justice to what I have witnessed, because what I witnessed was all pretty amazing.)

As for the people of New Zealand, they were for the most part, very cordial, friendly, and helpful. Although their pace of life was not surprisingly a bit slow for my taste, they took their time to make me feel welcomed in their country. One of the bartenders even sat with me to explain the esoteric rules of cricket, which I previously never understood on my own. (Just as an aside, the only reason I was in the bar in the first place was because they were showing highlights of Super Bowl XLII. I still cannot believe my football team, the NY Giants decide to wait until I left the country to play the most exciting football game in recent history, beat the New England Patriots and make history. That’s alright. I’m mighty proud of them anyways.) They are pretty fanatical about their cricket, just like we are here about baseball. Same thing with rugby. In the few conversations I had with the locals, I get a sense that they secretly despise Americans almost as much as they hate Australians. Don’t know if it’s true but just a gut feeling.

Overall, it was a great trip; much too short, in my opinion. I know I have a lot of running blogs to catch up on. Will also update the status of my left shoulder as it pertains to my running plans in the next post…(for a hint, see that counter on the right side, it’s still running!) In the meantime, I have to sleep off this jet lag.


nwgdc said...

welcome back! amazing pictures--i think that first one is fake...

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Welcome back. I hear NZ can be really special. Sounds like you found that out. Good for you!! Hope you are healing up.

Hmmm, a friend that is a girl. Very intersting. :D

Take care!!

Jamie said...

Sounds like an amazing trip! I am now re-thinking my short layover in Auckland...Great pics! And I am sorry you missed an incredible Super Bowl but it looks like it was worth it.

Frayed Laces said...

Welcome back stranger! I got scared there for a sec and thought you were running again. We still need to be co-chairs of the "do stupid thing, don't run for awhile" club.

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