Posts Tagged coffee

Coffee Woes

Birkin coffee

Ms. HalfEmpty at Birkin, her favorite coffee shop in Buenos Aires.

Those of you who know me know that I love coffee. Even this blog was inspired by a coffee mug! In 2011, I embarked on a Quest for Passion and discovered that my passions are coffee and napping. Undoubtedly, coffee is an important part of my life.

Mr. HalfFull and I received the Keurig B70 Platinum Brewing System as a wedding gift six years ago.  The Keurig made coffee quick and easy. I never had to measure water, and Mr. HalfFull could have his weak brew, while I enjoyed my concentrated java.

I know there are a lot of people who poo-poo the Keurig and are infuriated by the amount of waste caused by K-Cups. But I rarely used K-Cups. Instead, I ground whole beans and packed my own reusable pod. The Keurig machine was merely an automated way to quickly get hot water in the correct quantity.

Death of the Keurig

On a recent morning when I turned to my trusty Keurig for my morning coffee, it was dead. The LCD display was blank; not even the time greeted me. I tried other outlets to no avail. The Keurig was a goner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Taking Back Control

My jobless summer of attempted spontaneity made it painfully obvious that something was missing.  I wasn’t happy.  (Just in case you’re wondering, I was probably still happier than if I had been working.)  I had all this time and no plan.  I needed some structure.

Even my dad, who retired a few weeks ago, asked me what I do with my days.  Perhaps he wanted me to justify my lack of employment.  But part of me wonders if he was asking for advice.  Not working is a big change.  We once spent our days commuting and sitting in an office.  It took up the majority of our time.  Now we are free.

Self Definition

But what are we free to do?  How do we define ourselves in this new chapter?

Preschool

Ms. HalfEmpty had no problem defining herself in preschool with all sorts of ridiculous garb. But now it’s a different story.

Especially in an area like DC, when people meet for the first time they ask what you do.  It’s part of the customary introductory small talk, but it also helps to categorize people.  We have expectations of people who do certain types of work — stereotypical ideas of what that person’s life might be like.

But where do I fit?  I’m not retirement age.  What do I do with my days?  What should I be doing?  I think there is an expectation that women in their 30s without children or major disabilities should work.  They should contribute.

And I want to.  I just want to do the right thing for me — something that excites and inspires me, something that allows me to meaningfully contribute, something that makes use of my talents.  I don’t want to be another person clocking time in an office, letting the hours and years of my life pass by.

A friend recently sent me a tongue-in-cheek Washington Post article entitled, “How to completely, utterly destroy an employee’s work life.”  This quote sums it up for me:

What we discovered is that the key factor you can use to make employees miserable on the job is to simply keep them from making progress in meaningful work.

People want to make a valuable contribution, and feel great when they make progress toward doing so. Knowing this progress principle is the first step to knowing how to destroy an employee’s work life. 

-Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer 

Time

I’ve realized that I now have time.  I have more time than most people ever will.  It’s a valuable gift.  But it doesn’t mean I have time to do anything and everything.  That would mean my time is worthless.  I still decline offers that don’t value my time. My time is precious and mine to spend.

With endless options, deciding how to spend it (and not waste it) was daunting.  But after my unstructured summer I learned that I crave a schedule. It can be a rough outline, but I need a framework.

Exercise

The first thing I did to recreate a schedule was to reincorporate exercise.  It was a no brainer for me since I already belong to a gym with a fixed schedule of classes.

BodyFlow

Ms. HalfEmpty launching BodyFlow™ Release 57 over the summer

I used to go to the gym each morning before work around 6 AM to take a group fitness class.  But it seemed ridiculous to wake up that early when I was no longer working.  I loved sleeping in and not worrying about staying up late.

Of course, my gym had later classes, but Mr. HalfFull wasn’t a member.  I thought I should be home to spend time with him during his summer break, and perhaps exercise together.  We did take long walks through the neighborhood occasionally, but summers in DC can be oppressively hot, discouraging outdoor activities.

Once Mr. HalfFull went back to work in August, I started going back to the gym.  This became the anchor of my new schedule.  I would workout for 1 or 2 hours a day.  Plus, I got hired at my new gym to teach  BodyFlow™ again.  So during 2-5 of those weekly workout hours I was getting paid to exercise!

That time felt purposeful because I was doing something good for myself.  Without this break from work, I never would have had the combined time and energy to devote an extra 12 hours per week to exercise.  I was getting stronger and more fit!  Plus the structure of group fitness classes appeals to my need for a schedule.

Coffee

Coffee in German Biergarten

Ms. HalfEmpty with lattes in a German biergarten. No she didn’t drink all of those herself!

I also got my caffeine intake back under control.  I used to drink up to 4 coffees per day on workdays.  I would drink one en route to the gym before 6 AM.  My 2nd coffee would be consumed after breakfast.  Sometimes I would have a 3rd coffee when I got to the office, and my 4th would be after lunch for my afternoon jolt.

These were not huge mugs full of coffee, so it wasn’t that bad.  They were generally 6 ounce servings (whereas a cup is 8 ounces and a Starbucks Venti is 20 ounces).  But now I’m down to 2 coffees per day — one with breakfast and one in the afternoon.

Coffee has transformed from something I needed to survive the work world to something I can enjoy.  It’s wonderful to savor each sip!

Sleep

Santa Monica nap

Ms. HalfEmpty enjoyed naps early and often on the 30/40 World Tour

I used to get headaches to varying degrees almost every afternoon at work.  Now when I think I might be on the verge of a headache, I just take a nap.  Napping in the middle of the week is so luxurious and feels a heck of a lot better than a headache!

I’m getting full nights of sleep (since I can wake naturally), and napping when tired.  Sleep is certainly going well now that I am able to listen to my body’s sleep cues.

Transformation

I have the time to enjoy the world around me.  I am able to savor sunny afternoons outside with a picnic or my laptop on a bench.

I now try to act out of desire and joy.  In the past, I generally lived a life of obligation.  I was the kid who never wanted to miss a day of school even if I was sick.  I always did the thing I was supposed to do.  But there comes a point when you are on such autopilot that you no longer want anything.  You merely stay the course.

Another great benefit of not working in the afternoons is that I’ve been able to attend almost all my husband’s home games.  I’ve felt connected to his team as I’ve watched them grow over the season.  I got to be a part of their success as they finished the season with a championship!

People have commented that I smile more and seem happier since leaving my job.  I don’t think that was true over the summer, but it is now.  It’s a lot easier to be happy when you feel rested and unhurried by the pressures of the working world on a taxing commute with deadlines looming.

Mr. HalfFull has even commented that perhaps I have become Mrs. HalfFull (instead of Ms. HalfEmpty).  Maybe I’m finally coming into my married name!

In our relationship, he has always been known for his humor, while I was more of the straight man.  But now Mr. HalfFull is worried that I might be taking over his comedy domain.  Hum…I’m not sure I could do standup comedy at the DC Improv like he did, but perhaps humor comes more naturally to those who are well rested.

More sleep, more exercise, less coffee, fewer headaches…sounds like not working is doing a body good!  I’m probably the healthiest I’ve ever been.  I’m still waiting for my vision, but at least I’m back to living the spaces in between.

  • Do you need a schedule?
  • How do you define yourself in quick introductions?  Does it affect your self-image?
  • Are you the master of your time?  How do you spend it?  How would you like to spend it?
  • Have you found exercise, caffeine, and sleep to impact your well-being?
  • Have you noticed transformations in yourself?  What prompted them?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Coffee Around the World

Mr. HalfFull got his photo op around the world. Now it’s time for mine.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I drink coffee.  In fact, when I ventured around the world on the 30/40 World Tour:  Quest for Passion, I found that my passions are coffee and napping.  I learned this through various opportunities to enjoy them and be deprived of them.  Undoubtedly, coffee and napping are essential to my life.  Deep, I know.

Let’s take a photo tour of my coffee encounters around the world…

Capitol Grounds lattes

I was armed with a latte from Capitol Grounds on my very first flight out of Washington, DC.

Fiji, our first country on the 30/40 World Tour, was not coffee aficionado friendly.  At our first coffee stop, they tried to tell me that Coke was just like coffee!

Ms. HalfEmpty eats breakfast

Much of my time in Fiji was spent on primitive islands with instant coffee.  Quelle horreur!

I didn’t get real coffee until our final night in Fiji when we checked into Sofitel and I had an amazing cappuccino.

My coffee experience in New Zealand was the complete opposite of Fiji. New Zealand has the most coffee roasters per capita of any country in the world.  They take their coffee culture very seriously; even gas stations have espresso machines with baristas, and no one serves drip coffee.

Coffee @ Mecca Stonehouse

My first full day in New Zealand included a latte (and internet time) at Mecca Stonehouse in Mission Bay outside Auckland.

Blogging in Paihia

I seem to always have coffee while on the netbook, including here at Paihia wharf.

Volcanic Latte

We learned that coffee drinks come from volcanoes at the museum in New Plymouth.

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

I even had a coffee in hand outside the Te Papa Museum in Wellington.

Circa Theater

Later that same day when we went to see a show at Circa Theater, just across from the museum, I had another coffee.  Zoom to see me drinking it.

New Zealand was perhaps the best coffee country on the 30/40 World Tour, but the French-speaking countries like New Caledonia weren’t bad either.

Café Malongo in Nouméa

While waiting in line at Café Malongo in Nouméa, I considered my espresso order.

Change in Nouméa

After using bills to buy coffee, we count our change in Nouméa.

Coffee at Le Surf Hotel

Once again enjoying coffee with a side of internet at our hotel in New Caledonia.

Coffee School

When we reached Sydney, Australia, I considered joining coffee school, but decided I didn’t have enough time.

Australian Parliament

I brought a cup of joe with me to the Australian Parliament Building in Canberra.  They wouldn’t let me bring it inside, but I had no problem devouring it quickly!

Phamish in St. Kilda

The coffee drink and coffee netbook seemed to pair well at a restaurant called Phamish in St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

Heidelberg Train Station

After visiting our new Australian friends in Heidelberg (another suburb of Melbourne), I waited for the train with coffee in hand.

Latte Art in Melbourne

Loving the latte art at a café in Melbourne before our flight to Mauritius.

Turkish Coffee in Dubai

Enjoying turkish coffee in Dubai with Sir Expat

Coffee in German Biergarten

Coffee in a German biergarten on Lake Starnberg with my cousins. Yes, I know you usually drink beer in a biergarten, but we had done plenty of that the night before!  Don’t I look just like a beermaid, but with coffee and less cleavage?

Coffee @ Marianplatz

Any time of day is a good time for coffee — even late night at Marianplatz in Munich.

Lunch @ Barcelo Sants

A cappuccino complemented my 3rd course of lunch nicely at our hotel in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Do you try to limit your coffee intake?
  • What things/actions are essential to your life?
  • Do you have any coffee location recommendations for me?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Exposing Ourselves to Spaniards!

Mr. HalfFull and I participated in VaughanTown (an English immersion program for Spanish business people) as English-speaking volunteers.  And boy did we speak!  It was a heck of a lot of talking for an introvert like myself, but even Mr. HalfFull’s extroverted social battery was happily drained by the end of our week.

When we applied for VaughanTown as we were planning our 30/40 World Tour, we were excited at the prospect of cultural exchange with Spaniards.  After traveling for an extended period of time, all the churches, monuments, and town squares start to blend together.  What you really want is the human story and the insider’s perspective.

As a tourist, it’s hard to meet natives; you don’t travel in the same circles.  But even if you did happen to meet each other, how would you start a deep and meaningful conversation?  It’s unlikely to happen, so VaughanTown is a great way to capture real Spaniards and make them talk to us!

Meals

VaughanTown final dinner

Our final dinner at VaughanTown was served on a long banquet table instead of the 4-6 person tables for normal meals

Each day at VaughanTown, we were required to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in groups of 4 or 6 with even numbers of Spaniards and Anglos to keep the conversation going.  Lunch and dinner were always full service meals at the 4-star hotel with an abundance of wine.

One-On-One Sessions

One-on-One Session

Mr. HalfFull in a One-on-One Session on the hotel steps

But the majority of our time was spent in One-On-One Sessions with one Anglo and one Spaniard.  Anglos were given an idiom to explain to the Spaniard, but aside from that we were just supposed to talk about anything for 50 minutes.  As you can imagine from normal life, this can be easy or excruciating depending on the person.

Gredos Lobby

Ms. HalfEmpty waits in the hotel lobby for her One-On-One partner

I learned a lot about the lives of these Spaniards from the personal to the cultural.  I even got to ask my burning questions about Spanish life.  I was supremely disappointed to find out that most working Spaniards do not take a siesta in modern life.

My favorite part of Spanish life was just shattered!  But the Spaniards explained that it’s not really practical to drive home for lunch and siesta if you have a long commute.  It just extends the day, and they would rather finish their workday earlier.  Makes sense, but still disappointing.

Walking Back to Gredos

Ms. HalfEmpty walking back to the hotel

Remember when I said we did a lot of talking?  There was also a lot of walking.  The grounds around the hotel were beautiful, so we would often walk and chat for our session.

The closest town, El Barco de Ávila, was cleverly located a 25-minute walk away from the hotel.  So just as you approached the edge of town (with all the Spanish speakers), it was time to return to the English enclave at the hotel.

Sleeping

Ms. HalfEmpty in her room during a free session

After a 10 minute break, it was time to move to your next One-On-One Session.  Sometimes, there were more Anglos than Spaniards and we would get a session of free time.  My introverted self loved these breaks.  I often used them for another siesta, in addition to the one after lunch.

El Barco de Ávila

Mr. HalfFull was able to game his way into town.  Some of the Spaniards requested permission to buy fruit during their One-On-One Sessions.  So 2 Spaniard and 2 Anglos (including Mr. HalfFull) spent their session driving to town.

Beers in Town

Mr. HalfFull and the fruit buyers enjoy a surreptitious beer in town

They were supposed to buy fruit and come back to our English oasis.  But instead, they stopped for some beers.  When the program organizer found out, she wasn’t pleased.  But it actually turned out to be a serendipitous occasion.

One Anglo traveled to VaughanTown from India.  His trip ended up taking 3 days, so he missed the group bus from Madrid.  He had to find his own transportation to the nearby town, but never made it to the hotel.  Apparently, the program sent a taxi to town to pick him up, but they missed each other.

Hides

Animal hides hanging from a balcony in town

So what is a weary traveler to do?  Grab a beer, of course!

Church

Look Mom, I tried to go to church, but they wouldn’t let me in!

Somehow Mr. HalfFull heard the Indian man speaking English in the bar and had a feeling it was the missing Anglo from VaughanTown.  Mr. HalfFull introduced himself and bear hugs ensued!  The Indian traveler was so relieved to be rescued by VaughanTown comrades.

Aqueduct

Aqueduct in El Barco de Ávila

The rest of us got to town later in the week on a group outing.  We all walked to town on perhaps the hottest day during at the sun’s peak!

El Barco de Ávila is a quaint village with Roman and Arab influences.  It contains a small aqueduct, a castle, chapels, and even an old prison.  It was fun to finally enter the town we had been walking toward and peering at from afar all week.

Entertainment

Mr. HalfFull Plays a Bull

Mr. HalfFull in his role as El Torro!

Sometimes, instead of One-On-One Sessions, you would be pulled into a group to prepare entertainment — a skit, dance, etc.  Mr. HalfFull often got roped into these.

Skit

The bull fighter, Carrie, and Lady Gaga dance as Darth Vader watches. This is high art, people!

In his first performance, he was a bull.  He really took this role to heart.  He tore through the space running into chairs.  He even knocked over a floor lamp, that I was able to catch from my seat.  The other characters from his skit were Carrie from Sex & the City, Lady Gaga, Darth Vader, the famous Spanish bull fighter Enrique Ponce, and Big Bird.  Hilarity ensued.

Bollywood Dance

Mr. HalfFull and his fellow Bollywood dancers perform “Jai Ho”

Mr. HalfFull also started his training as a Bollywood dancer at VaughanTown.  If you know Mr. HalfFull, you know that he believes that nothing good can come from a man dancing past age 25 (unless it’s his wedding).  So you can imagine my surprise when he danced to “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire.

Teaching Lindy Hop

Ms. HalfEmpty teaches Lindy Hop

My contribution to the entertainment was to teach Lindy Hop, the original swing dance from the late 1930s.  I taught Lindy-style Charleston to the group and ended with a mini-performance.

Queimada

Mr. MC brews queimada in an elaborate ceremony

On our final night, Mr. MC brewed queimada for the group in the Galician tradition.  The base of this concoction is aguardente, a spirit with high alcohol content, that burns to a fiery blue. While Mr. MC was preparing the punch, others read a spell to confer special powers to the queimada and those drinking it.  It was a rather spooky affair.

Queimada Taste

Ms. HalfEmpty is not a fan of queimada

When I saw that the queimada was flavored with coffee, I was quite excited to try it!  But it was terrible.  I couldn’t even finish my little cup.

The Experience

By the end of the week, I was worn out!  But I am glad that I had the chance to get to know all sorts of Spaniards from recent college graduates to medical doctors and government workers.  Plus, I also got a chance to get out of the city, see a bit of the idyllic country-side, make some personal connections, and even learn about my namesake for free.

 

  • How do you meet natives while traveling?  Do you enjoy making deeper connections?
  • Have you ever found your limit on interaction?
  • What ridiculous characters have you played?
  • If you went to a place like VaughanTown, what talent would you share?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ich bin ein Münchener!

After our 36-hour whirlwind tour of Dubai, we landed in Germany to spend the weekend with my two German cousins and their significant others.  The younger of those cousins, Herr Newlywed, inspired us to visit Mauritius.  He and Frau Newlywed got married there the summer before our 30/40 World Tour.  Mr. HalfFull was so intrigued by the photos that he added it to our trip itinerary.

Herr Newlywed was gracious enough to pick us up from the Munich airport while Frau Newlywed was at a Robbie Williams concert.  I’d actually never heard of Robbie Williams, but apparently he’s quite the heart throb.  So it was especially awesome for Herr Newlywed to chauffeur us while wondering about his new bride and her teenage crush.

In my younger days, I went on vacation with Herr Newlywed.  My first memory of spending time together one-on-one was when his parents took the two of us skiing in Italy.  At the time, I was 13 and Herr Newlywed was 16-years-old.  We were having a great time skiing together until he made me hike up to the highest point of the mountain in ski boots.  He had been skiing his entire life in the Alps, and was an expert skier.  I was not.  When he decided to take the most difficult ungroomed path in unmarked terrain, I opted to find a less challenging route.  I felt sure that he would wait for me at the bottom.

But as we all know, you can’t trust a 16-year-old boy.  He ended up abandoning me for a 16-year-old German girl.  I never found him that ski day.  I was just a little abandoned 13-year-old girl — scared and alone in a foreign country.  I didn’t speak any Italian at the time, and had to make my way back to the hotel on the buses alone.  When I found him again at the hotel,  he had the gall to ask me to go to the ski locker room with him to find that girl’s skis, so he could write down her name to look her up back in Munich.  Ah, young love…

It’s not like I’ve harbored hard feelings all these years.  Okay, it’s exactly like that.  Each time I see him, I take the opportunity to remind him how he abandoned me in Italy.  You know, in a good-natured way.

Alcohol Bottles in 2002

Herr Newlywed and Ms. HalfEmpty out on the town with multiple Bacardi Rigo bottles in 2002. Don't we look young???

My next memory of hanging out one-on-one with Herr Newlywed was when I was in college on a scholarship to dance in Sweden, Finland, and Russia.  During that time, I took a quick break from dancing to visit Herr Newlywed’s parents, my aunt and uncle, in Germany.  One night, Herr Newlywed picked me up to take me out on the town.  At the time, he claimed to be a teetotaler and nonsmoker to his parents.  (This was odd because I’m pretty sure his parents would not have minded.)  I discovered a different reality during our outing.  But to preserve the image he had created, all photographic evidence was staged to look like I was the only one drinking.

Alcohol Bottles in 2002

Herr Newlywed and Ms. HalfEmpty recreate the photo of 2002 in 2011

We recreated that same photograph almost 10 years later on Herr Newlywed’s balcony, with beer instead of Rigo, as we waited for Frau Newlywed to return from the concert.  Even though all the bottles are once again in front of me, please don’t get the wrong idea.  I am not a lush.  There were 3 of us drinking on that balcony.

After Frau Newlywed arrived home raving about Robbie Williams, we all headed to an outdoor bar where a friend was spinning the tunes.  Herr Newlywed’s brother, the Prince of Munich, joined us as well.  The Prince of Munich is one of the most gregarious guys you’ll ever meet.  He knows everyone!

Munich Outdoor Bar

Herr Newlywed with his DJ friend watching the crowd, including the Prince of Munich at the head of the table

Currywurst @ Gartencafe

The Prince of Munich and Ms. HalfEmpty with currywurst at Gartencafe. You can still see my henna tattoo from Dubai, but not the "poop finger."

I’m not a huge fan of German food, but I tried currywurst at Gartencafe.  It wasn’t the wurst, but I can’t say I’d order it again.  It mostly tasted like ketchup to me.  After a short time at Gartencafe, we headed to a dance club.

Bucket of Alcohol

It wouldn't be a Friday night without a bucket filled with Red Bull, vodka, and champagne!

There, my cousins ordered a bucket of alcohol.  More drinking ensued and the Newlyweds hit the dance floor.  By this time I was exhausted.

Remember how we did some cultural immersion training to keep up with the party crowd?  Apparently, we didn’t practice enough.

The next morning, my cousins arrived with their Porsches to pick us up for a drive to the lake.  Mr. HalfFull got the chance of a lifetime when the Prince of Munich offered to let him drive on the autobahn.

Porsche on Autobahn

View of Mr. HalfFull driving the Prince of Munich's Porsche from Herr Newlywed's Porsche

Mr. HalfFull with Porsche

Mr. HalfFull poses with the Porsche he drove on the autobahn. He seems quite pleased with himself.

Apparently, it’s not a free-for-all on the autobahn as we originally thought.  There are actually sections with speed limits.  I learned this while sitting in the passenger seat of Herr Newlywed’s car after he said, “Mr. HalfFull is going to lose his license.”  Um…what?  Shouldn’t someone tell him there is a speed limit here???

Biergarten

Tutzinger Biergarten at Lake Starnberg

Eventually, the Prince of Munich must have clued him in on the rules of the road.  But Mr. HalfFull did get up to 250 kph.

Tutzinger Biergarten

Mr. HalfFull found a helpful German mann to point us to the beer garden

When we reached the Lake Starnberg, we enjoyed one of my favorite consumables — coffee!  It was actually a beer garden.  But since it was still early, and we had already sustained a big night with more to come, coffee was in order.

That evening we were invited to dine on fondue at the home of the Newlyweds.  It was a beautiful spread and so much food!  I only lost a few pieces in the fondue pot.

After dinner, we headed out to a VIP party.  The Prince of Munich had warned us that it would be a dressy affair.  But our duffels didn’t really contain many options.

VIP Party

Ms. HalfEmpty chats with the Newlyweds, the Prince of Munich, and his Princess over drinks

Even though Mr. HalfFull has never met my German uncle, they now have a special connection.  We were staying at my aunt and uncle’s house while they were celebrating my aunt’s birthday in Italy.  I’m sure they would not have minded if we borrowed their stuff, so we took a look in the closet.  As it turns out, my uncle and Mr. HalfFull wear the same size shoes!  So Mr. HalfFull borrowed some black leather shoes and a black button down shirt for the party.  I made do with what I had, but felt underdressed.

Dancer on Stilts

No, that's not a super tall woman. I actually think she was on stilts while grooving to the tunes in her long gown.

The party was quite a spectacle with candelabras, party dresses, and women on stilts.  Of course, it was a night of more champagne and more vodka.  Although this time, we mixed the vodka with ginger beer instead of Red Bull — much better for Mr. HalfFull’s blood pressure.  I called it a night early, but my cousins and their ladies partied hard (as was evidenced the next morning).

Urban Garden in Munich

Urban Garden in Munich

The next day, we tried to walk to the subway.  We got quite close, but our directions were slightly off and we never actually made it there.  However, we did stumble upon some lovely gardens.  Since land is so expensive in Munich, most people don’t have yards.  But they still want to cultivate plants and flowers, so they rent nearby plots.  Each plot had a shed or small house and beautiful landscaping where people could spend the day and escape the concrete jungle.

Prince of Munich Grilling

The Prince of Munich grills sausages on his balcony

For our final dinner in Germany, the Prince of Munich invited us to the penthouse apartment he shares with his Princess.  I’m not usually a fan of sausages (I know you can’t say that in Germany!), but the ones grilled for me by the Prince of Munich were delicious.

Sausages

Delicious spread prepared by the Prince of Munich

We had a lovely evening with the Prince of Munich, his Princess, the Newlyweds, and another couple.  Afterward, Mr. HalfFull and I decided to take a stroll through the city on our way back to the suburbs.  We found some beautiful photo locations and enjoyed being tourists.

Even though both of my cousins are older than me, that weekend taught me that I am old beyond my years.  I think I may need to continue my study of the party culture.

  • What secrets did you keep from your parents in your younger days?
  • Were you ever abandoned in a foreign country?
  • Do you like to party?
  • How fast have you driven?
  • Do you feel self-conscious when your attire is more or less dressy than the crowd?
  • Do you feel old beyond your years?
English Garden

Ms. HalfEmpty in the English Garden

Touring Munich

Ms. HalfEmpty on the walk home from the Prince of Munich's home; surprising that he doesn't live in the castle!

Lederhosen

My cousin has a work party every Oktoberfest where everyone wears lederhosen. Since we were out of season for that party, at least we found these guys outside the Hofbräuhaus on our walk home.

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Highs and Lows Come and Go

On our 30/40 World Tour, we would typically book our accommodation before we arrived in a new location. However, on the Oz Experience bus tour, we didn’t have much downtime to do research online. Because of the mechanical problems, we usually arrived at our hotel/hostel late and were so excited to have a bed for stretched out sleep. (Sleeping on a bus can get a bit cramped.) We also had to wake up early to cover the mileage the next morning, so neither the evenings or mornings gave us much time to surf.

Melbourne

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull in downtown Melbourne

Everyone else on the bus tour had a reservation in Melbourne – even the backpacker teenagers! (I wonder if their moms booked it.) So Squatter made the rounds through Melbourne dropping people off at their various hostels. After my two nights on the tour, I knew I wanted a nicer place to stay. So we got off at the last stop and started walking toward St. Kilda.

We were tired and hungry at this point, which is not a great combo for a traveler with no idea where she is going and a heavy pack on her back. I don’t do so well with the unknown, especially under those circumstances. Mr. HalfFull often reminds me to live my way into the answers and embrace the unknown. But it’s so hard! I like to have a plan and direction.

Our goal was to find a restaurant with free wifi where we could eat and book a hotel like hobos with all our luggage. Even though we traveled light, I still found it a little embarrassing to have so much stuff at a nice restaurant. But they were super gracious at Phamish café and didn’t seem to mind. We were “phamished” so we ordered the sampler appetizer, which turned out to be a huge platter with all sorts of foodie deliciousness. It was quite a contrast from eating powdered eggs.

We didn’t find a lot of reasonable accommodation options in St. Kilda. There were a couple of fancy hotels, but they were rather pricey. I was leery of sketchy places after our last two nights, but reluctantly I consented to a hostel called The Coffee Place. I think its name and color scheme was the only reason I thought it might be okay.

When we arrived, I wasn’t so sure. It was basically run by kids playing video games. In other words, it could have been a frat house. I’m too old for this!

We went up to our room by climbing several flights of stairs. The door wasn’t secure like a front door; it was more like a lightweight bedroom door. Inside everything was clean, but very sparse. There was almost no furniture aside from the bed. However, there was one small built-in shelf with a coffee maker – after all, it was The Coffee Palace.

After seeing the room, I lost it. This was no palace. The tears streamed down my cheeks. There was really nothing wrong with the room; it was fully functional, clean, and spacious. I think I was just exhausted from the bus tour; I didn’t get my afternoon naps or sleep-in time in the mornings! Plus, I was an introvert on a bus full of people for three days. I was drained from all the interaction. I guess six weeks of being on the move left me feeling rather half empty – maybe even completely empty.

Phamish cafe

Ms. HalfEmpty enjoying cappuccino at Phamish café

We enjoyed Phamish café so much that we went back there for breakfast the next morning. I had a cappuccino and internet time…I was back baby! Plus, we were staying at The Coffee Palace for two nights, so I wasn’t lugging my bag around this time, and knew where I would be sleeping that night.

Mr. HalfFull loves sports; I become a football widow during the NFL season. We actually got married on a bye weekend for his football team! He also loves college basketball, and once again goes missing during March Madness. So he was super excited to have the opportunity to witness Aussie rules football in person.

It was game day, so we walked to the train station and were surprised that there were no ticket kiosks. A person on the platform informed us that you could buy tickets on the train. This seemed strange to us, but obviously we knew nothing about public transportation in Melbourne. So we boarded the train and found the ticket machine. We soon learned that the ticket machine only takes coins. What does an ATM not give you? Coins!

So we had no coins and couldn’t buy tickets; I felt like a fugitive. Hopefully, they would let us play the dumb American card. We really did have the best of intentions!

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Mr. HalfFull looking for tickets outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Finally, we arrived downtown at the enormous stadium that seats over 100,000 people. We were about to engage in some more illegal activity. We didn’t have tickets and were scouring the crowd outside the stadium looking for scalpers. We knew the game was a huge local rivalry between Carlton and Collingwood and thus, was sold out.

We didn’t find the shady people Mr. HalfFull was seeking, so we headed to the club ticket counter. The woman informed us that indeed the game was sold out, but she told us to look for scalpers and warned us not to pay more than face value. An employee advised us to seek out scalpers! Is scalping not illegal in Melbourne?

We walked all the way around the stadium with no luck. Mr. HalfFull didn’t seem so half full and resigned himself to the fact that we weren’t getting into the game. Then he spotted a guy with long hair, facial hair, tattoos, and rings on every finger. He looked like the type of guy you didn’t want to fight. Mr. HalfFull thought he might be a scalper. We hung around to listen to his conversation and learned that he too was looking for tickets.

Stadium Family

Ms. HalfEmpty in the MCG stadium with the side of the family who supports the Carlton Blues

Our chances seemed pretty much exhausted when I overheard the conversation of a family nearby. They were talking about how it was too bad that “those two” couldn’t come. What? Two tickets?

So I butted into their circle and asked if they had two extra tickets. They did, but they were tickets for children. Bummer!

Stadium Family

Mr. HalfFull with the other brother who's a fan of the Collingwood Magpies

We started walking away when they said, “But we aren’t going to use them, so you’re welcome to try. Just walk in with us and be our kids for the day! There’s no harm in trying.” I didn’t know what the penalty was for using the wrong age-group ticket, but we had already ridden the train illegally, so what the heck! Weren’t the Australians descendants of criminals anyway? (Kids, this is why they tell you not to smoke because it’s just a gateway to more and more.)

The tickets worked and we all got in! The introvert had accosted strangers in a foreign country to fulfill Mr. HalfFull’s dream. It was amazing.

Inside MCG

Watching Aussie football inside MCG stadium

The stadium was huge and circular, unlike our oblong stadiums. It was impressive to watch these super fit athletes play with no padding. There was a lot of leg to tantalize the ladies. Plus, there were no big bellies like in the NFL. Even the referees were super fit.

The family we sat with explained the rules to us; they were so much fun. We tried to pay them for the tickets and buy them beers, but they didn’t want anything. They even emailed us a few days later to ask if we wanted to grab “a pot.” After looking that up online, I learned that it’s beer, not tea.

Meat Pie

Sampling meat pie at the stadium

We knew that meat pies are an Aussie football stadium staple. Even after our disappointment with pies in Sydney, we tried the stadium fare. It was okay. I guess they can’t make them like the flaky pastries in New Zealand because it needs to be self-contained and more spill-proof for the stadium.

Red Stitch Theater

Ms. HalfEmpty at Red Stitch Theater

That evening we had tickets to see a play called My Romantic History at Red Stitch theater. It was a super cute playhouse. Much of the play took place in the bathroom and the set consisted of three bathroom stalls. That brought our live theater count to six on the 30/40 World Tour.

Mr. HalfFull got his football and I got my theater. It was a good day all around, especially considering the tears the night before.

  • Do you make reservations before you arrive or wing it?
  • How do you handle the unknown? Are you able to relax and let things unfold?
  • Did you have a breaking point while traveling? What helped you get over it?
  • Have you broken the rules while traveling?
  • If you are not normally a sports fan, do you still think it would be interesting to witness in a foreign country?
  • Have you been surprised by the kindness of strangers?

Related:  All posts in the 30/40 World Tour series

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Bus, 3 Days, 1000 Kilometers

Oz Experience Bus

Squatter walking back to the Oz Experience bus, which acquired quite a bit of dirt along the journey

Australia is a big country.  We knew we couldn’t see it all on our schedule, so we chose a small part.  We flew into Sydney, and knew we were flying out of Melbourne.  So Mr. HalfFull decided that it would be fun to see the part in between from the ground, and booked us on an Oz Experience bus tour.

Squatter

Squatter breaking for lunch after our hike to the summit on the final day

Our driver was an ex-military officer named Squatter.  Even though he currently owns his own house, I think he got the name from squatting at his mom’s house too long.  Anyway, he was a great storyteller and made the ride a lot of fun.

We arrived early at the meeting point in Sydney.  Everyone was just hanging around outside the bus, so we decided to get coffee.  It turned out to be a fairly complicated street to cross with inconvenient crosswalks and fast traffic.  By the time we got back, everyone had selected their seats on the bus.  One side had double seats and the other side had single seats.  Of course, most of the singles had reserved double seats for themselves in the front of the bus.  Mr. HalfFull and I wanted to sit together, so we were relegated to a double all the way in the back.  This was not a good start!

Australian Capital Territory road sign

Our whole bus group posing for a photo on the side of the highway

One of the first stops was on the side of the highway.  I was quite confused.  Was the bus broken?  Did someone need to pee?  No, Squatter thought it was a good photo-op with the Australian Captial Territory sign.  He gathered all our cameras as we huddled and shivered behind the sign.

Oz Experience bus on highway

Walking back down the hill to the bus on the side of the highway

Then he commenced talking about Australian war history. I suppose this was interesting to him because of his military background, but I was beginning to wonder if he ever talked about anything else.

As we slowed down in the capital city of Canberra, the bus repeatedly stalled at low speeds in traffic circles.  I was not impressed.  Already I was in the last seat listening to war stories… and now the bus didn’t even work properly!

War Memorial

Red flowers next to the names of the fallen at the War Memorial in Canberra

I soon learned why Squatter was telling us so much about wars.  Our first stop in Canberra was the Australian War Memorial, which is also a museum inside.  Mr. HalfFull enjoyed the exhibits, but I’m not a huge fan of museums.  So a museum about war wasn’t my cup of joe, but I could appreciate that it was a beautiful memorial building.

Canberra

View of a Canberra promenade from the War Memorial

Canberra was a strange city.  Apparently the citizens in Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t agree on which city would be the capital, so they created Canberra as the capital in between.  Canberra is a planned city (actually designed by Americans).  Rather than the usual grid of streets, Canberra follows a wheel and spoke model, so all the main promenades flow into the center of town.  These wide streets are huge and seemed strangely empty.  But Squatter said they were designed for the influx of millions of people for celebrations.  The normal population is much smaller; plus many of the ministers of Parliament don’t even live there full time.

Old Parliament

Old Parliament House with Aboriginal Embassy on the lawn including the word "SOVEREIGNTY"

Our next destination was the Old Parliament House.  When Parliament was in session here, the Aboriginals set up a tent city on the lawn across the street to demand their own embassy.  The tent city has become their embassy, but must be manned to remain so.  Squatter warned us not to take photos of them because it might start a fight.  I didn’t actually see any people at the camp and we took our photos from across the lawn, so I guess that’s okay.  It reminds me a bit of the Occupy DC camps that were recently dismantled.  However, the Aboriginal Embassy had a lot more green space and fewer tents (and no expensive name-brand camping gear; it was pretty decrepit).

Australian Parliament

Ms. HalfEmpty sips coffee in front of Parliament House in Canberra

Queen at Parliament House

British lad on our tour kissing the statue of the queen at Parliament House

After seeing the Old Parliament, we were off to the current Parliament building.  Squatter gave us a tour of the inside and made sure to add a lurid detail about each political figure as we passed his/her portrait.  The design for the building was selected through a worldwide architecture contest.  While the final result is impressive, it’s not terribly practical.  The flag that flies 81 meters high gets so tattered in the wind that it must be replaced every 2 or 3 weeks at great expense.  On our tour, Squatter dared the 18-year-old lad from the UK to cross the ropes and kiss the statue of the queen.  As he knew (and Michelle Obama learned), you can’t touch the queen!  Shortly thereafter, our group was reprimanded by a security guard.

Australia

View from the bus

The rest of our day was spent driving to our overnight accommodation.  After the decrepit nature of the bus, I was rather worried about where we would be staying.  But as we pulled up, I saw the word “hotel” and was relieved it wasn’t a hostel.  I already knew that we paid extra to have a private room, rather than be in a dorm-style hostel.  But if they had both types of accommodations at the same location, I figured I would be roughing it a bit.

Snowy River

At least the hotel had a nice view of Snowy River

I was right.  This was unlike any “hotel” I’ve ever encountered. We did have a private room, but it was so tiny.  It was basically just big enough for the bed and to swing the door open.  At the foot of the bed was a bookcase.  When I say at the foot of the bed, I mean touching the mattress so that the lower shelves were inaccessible.  This also made the far side of the bed inaccessible without crawling over your companion.  There was a small TV on top of the tall bookcase — far too high to watch.  It was plugged into the cable outlet, but not electricity.  So I brought it down and looked for an outlet.  There was only one, but the cord didn’t reach that far.  I had no idea why they had this TV in the room since it was unusable in the current setup.  We also shared a bathroom with the other room in our block.  Unfortunately for us, it was a dorm style room with 10 people!  The bathroom was a single toilet, single sink, and single shower all behind a single door — such a poor design for so many people.  Our dinner and breakfast were included in the “hotel” dining room mess hall.  Dinner wasn’t so bad, but breakfast was terrible.  They served military style powder eggs.  I was glad when our night was over!

Remember how I told you that the bus was stalling at low speeds in Canberra?  It continued to do this all day.  There was another Oz Experience busload staying at the same “hotel.”  That group was doing the reverse of our trip and would end up in Sydney, the location of the fleet’s mechanic.  So we switched buses with them and were on our way.  I wonder how they fared with the stalling bus.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it would become very important for us to have an operable bus for the terrain we would encounter the next day.

Toboggan Hike

Mr. HalfFull with his toboggan in search of a sledding hill

The “hotel” was mostly inhabited by skiers and boarders since it was at the base of a mountain.  We drove up to the ski area, but only had an hour, so it wasn’t enough time to actually ski — super disappointing!  Instead, we rented toboggans and practiced our most daring sledding moves.

Sledding

Looks like Mr. HalfFull found some snow. Did he leave any for the other kids???

We were a little out of control standing on the toboggans.  But it’s not our fault they don’t steer well!  There were only a few close calls with small children, but we didn’t take any out.  Although, we did see some of them take their friends out.  The real problem was that no one was telling the children not to walk up the middle of the hill where the sledders should be.  We tried to set a good example by walking up the sides, but the children never followed us.

Weighing Options

Mr. HalfFull weighs his options (with two rocks) in the wilderness. Don't fall in!

Back on the bus, our next adventure led us to remote mountainous roads that require a special driver’s license.  These are narrow dirt roads with curves and cliffs — no guard rails.  It was rather exciting at times.  (My mom would have been screaming.)

Squatter & Friends

A koala and other furry friends help Squatter drive the bus through harsh terrain

We stopped periodically to admire the landscape and take photos.  After one such stop, we all piled back on the bus.  But the bus wouldn’t go.

Apparently, there is a safety feature that if the door is ajar, you can’t accelerate.  So Squatter asked the person near the door to shut it.  This shutting process went on for minutes.  There were gentle closes and hard slams, but nothing seemed to allow the bus to accelerate.  Squatter was able to override this safety feature by using the hand brake.  But he knew he couldn’t drive like that for hours on these roads.

Tinkle Tour

Mr. HalfFull goes in search of a tree to tinkle behind

This location was so remote that there is no cell phone service.  So in addition to requiring a special driver’s license, you are also required to carry a satellite phone.  Squatter set up the satellite phone and called the mechanic, who conveniently never answered.  Fortunately, a Mexican girl in her early 20s had similar problems with her old car back home.  She suggested that we remove the fuse to disable the door safety feature.  It worked!

After getting back on the road, the microphone started acting up.  Squatter spent much of the trip telling us great stories about what we were seeing, and also about his experiences working with Aboriginal kids.  So the microphone was essential.

Fixing the Microphone

Squatter breaks out the toolbox to fix the microphone

The microphone was also essential for another reason — making sure all parties were on the bus.  Squatter told us a story about a previous trip where  a guy went into the woods to “hide an Easter egg.”  This trip included two buses with every seat filled, but no one bothered to do an actual count of passengers when they departed that particular stop.  The guy in the woods had been sitting in the back of the bus (I feel his pain) and no one alerted the driver that he was missing.  Apparently, this guy heard the bus engines start, which made him start running with his pants around his ankles and “Easter egg” all over.  He did not catch the bus, and the drivers didn’t realize he was gone until much later.

So on our trip, we would check in on the teams from each country.  Squatter, would ask for Team Germany and the two German girls would respond.  Team Mexico consisted of one girl.  Team Canada sat directly in front of us on the bus and consisted of a 30-something woman, her boyfriend, and her parents.  Team America was me and Mr. HalfFull.  When Squatter would call out, “Team America?” the Canadians thought it was hilarious to scream, “F*@# yeah!” in response.

For a while, Mr. HalfFull abandoned me to go sit up front and hold the microphone wire for Squatter so it wouldn’t be jostled on the rough roads.  Eventually that workaround was no longer effective and Squatter broke out the toolbox, and I got my husband back as a travel companion and seat pillow.

Remember that I told you about my applicator-less tampon experience?  It happened on this day of the journey out there in the middle of nowhere.  But at least there was a port-a-potty with toilet paper, and I didn’t have to use a tree for cover like Mr. HalfFull.

Dirty Bus

Ms. HalfEmpty is incredulous reading the message on the back window of the bus: "I wish my girlfriend was this dirty!!"

It was a dusty, bumpy journey and the bus certainly looked like it.  Remember the British bloke from above who kissed the queen?  He also decided to leave a note in the back window of our bus.  (See photo at left.)

Kangaroo & Joey

A kangaroo with a joey in her pouch

The next day was the final leg of the bus tour and included my favorite part — kangaroos!  I had seen kangaroos twice on the trip so far, but those were only in passing as we drove by.  This time we were in a field of kangaroos.  We were so close; some people in our group even touched the tail of a kangaroo.  It was amazing to watch them spring into the air in person.

Emu

The emu posed for a photo

We also saw an emu in the same field.  It was impressively large, but at least it wasn’t so close that it towered over us.  It fled pretty quickly and I never saw another one, unlike the swarms of kangaroos that allowed us to close in.

Our final adventure of the bus trip was a hike in Wilsons Promontory.  At the summit, we had a picnic lunch on the rocks and enjoyed the view.  From our vantage point, we could see two oceans!

Australian Poop

Can you guess which is emu poop and which is kangaroo dung?

I complain a lot about conditions like the bus and the accommodations.  I’m just not that rugged, and I do enjoy my creature comforts.  But I know we couldn’t have done all of that on our own.  The number of hours behind the wheel was insane; I don’t know how Squatter does it.  But that also meant that we had to wake up early, so he could cover lots of territory.

Kangaroo & Emu Crossing

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull pose with the quintessential Australian roadsign

Three days was certainly enough for me, but there are people who take a series of these trips all the way across Australia and back.  In fact, the British lad did a 31 day tour across the United States!  I know that’s not my half empty cup of coffee, but we did have some great experiences and meet interesting people during our Oz Experience.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Where do you prefer to sit on the bus?
  • Do you ever stop on the side of the highway to take photos?
  • Do you enjoy war history?
  • Are you a fan of museums?
  • What do you think of the Aboriginal Embassy?  Does it remind you of Occupy DC?
  • Do you enjoy sledding as an adult?
  • Have you had vehicle issues while traveling?
  • What wildlife did you see while traveling?

Related:  All posts in the 30/40 World Tour series

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Waterfalls Inside the Ferry

While in New Zealand, Mr. HalfFull and I drove around much of the North Island.  It was gorgeous, but everyone kept telling us about the beauty of the South Island.  However, we visited New Zealand during their winter season and realized that our gear may not be appropriate for traveling closer to the Antarctic.  But we still wanted to visit the South Island, even if we only saw a small part.

Ferry in Wellington

Mr. HalfFull prepares to embark with his duffel in Wellington.

The most common form of transportation between the two islands is ferry boat.  These massive ships even have a parking deck reserved for tractor-trailers transporting goods between the islands.  We also saw a number of passenger vehicles on the ferry, but most rental car companies do not allow it.  So it was just us and our duffels.

Peace, Perfect Peace

Ms. HalfEmpty found “Peace, Perfect Peace” on a memorial in Picton.

The ferry ride to the South Island was fairly peaceful.  I didn’t see anyone turn green and/or run to the bathroom.  After arriving on the South Island, we spent a few days in the quaint port town of Picton, where I did not find my passion, but I did find “Peace, Perfect Peace.”

The return trip, however, was not so calm.  I think that if the trips had been reversed, I would have flown back to the North Island rather than endure another ferry ride.  Ferries seem so charming and romantic until you are tossed around inside the ship like tiny plastic figurines.  It was truly horrible.

Picton Ferry Terminal

Ms. HalfEmpty purchased internet time to keep her occupied in the Picton Ferry Terminal.

We woke up early that morning for our return ferry, bundled up, checked out of our hotel, and walked to the ferry terminal only to find that our boat was 2 hours delayed.  The ferry company claimed that the conditions were poor.  But we heard from others that the ferry wasn’t full, so they made a business decision to combine multiple departure times into one ship full of passengers and cargo.  I didn’t really know what to believe, but I was feeling rather half empty since I had left my warm cozy bed to be there early.  Plus the café wasn’t even open to supply me with coffee as I waited!

Hours later, we boarded the ship.  As we passed through the Marlborough Sound, the conditions seemed fine to me.  What was the weather delay all about?  I soon discovered that the seas got much rougher as we headed into more open waters.  We were on the uppermost deck inside a huge ferry with 9 decks and the waves were crashing against the windows in a sea of white.  It was as if we were on an airplane flying through turbulent clouds.

Ferry

Gentle wake behind the ferry boat was not what we experienced on the return trip.

I went to the food court to find a soda to settle my stomach.  But I could barely stand.  The ship was tossing me as I tried to stand my ground like a surfer in a wide bent leg stance with arms outstretched.  I had to leave without buying anything because I couldn’t hold still long enough to read the labels and grab something without vomiting.  I thought it would be poor form to do so in the middle of the food court, so I returned to my seat.

Sitting across the aisle was a woman whose face had turned white.  She had obviously been vomiting and looked terrible.  The crew came around with ice chips for us to suck on, but that didn’t help.  Soon I couldn’t take it anymore and joined the other woman in the bathroom where I produced my own triple vomit waterfall.  Still shaking, I returned to my seat.  Apparently, there was a similar waterfall scene in the men’s restroom as well.

When we finally arrived back on the North Island (me, a few pounds of vomit lighter), we picked up our rental car and headed to our next destination.  Unfortunately, the drive was filled with winding, curvy mountain roads that were not kind to my already upset tummy.

I survived, but I’m not sure I want to take another 3 hour ferry ride…ever!

  • How do you react to travel delays?
  • Do you find ferry boats charming and romantic?
  • Have you experienced sea sickness?
  • Would you rather fly or ferry?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , ,

Airing NZ’s Dirty Laundry

Let me start by saying that I fell in love with New Zealand.  Since returning, people often ask me which country was my favorite on the 30/40 World Tour.  It’s such a difficult question because I had different goals and experiences in each place.  Sometimes I was staying in a hostel, and other times in a 4.5 star resort.  Sometimes I was looking for adventure, and other times I sought relaxation.  But I do find myself answering that my overall favorite destination, and the place I could most envision savoring my half empty cup of coffee for life, is New Zealand.

Yet, New Zealand is not a utopia.  Yes, it’s gorgeous with great food and friendly people.  But like all countries,  New Zealand has it’s fair share of issues.  As a tourist, signs of social problems are constantly in your face  — advertised all over!  From reading billboards and watching TV, it seems like the issues that garner the most Kiwi advertising dollars are alcoholism, domestic violence, and driving behavior.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Week-In-The-Life of Mr. HalfFull & Ms. HalfEmpty

Nora

Nora, The Professional Hobo, in Spain

Nora, The Professional Hobo herself, asked me to write about a week of our 30/40 World Tour.  She is a full-time traveler who knows about the fun and the work of long-term travel.  Through her Week-in-the-Life series, she hopes to enlighten her readers about the mundane and sometimes trying parts of travel.  It’s not all lying on the beach, room service, and lattes on demand. (Sometimes all you have is instant coffee…the horror!)

I alluded to this post when we wrote about Fiji, and now it’s finally here!  Please click over to A Week-In-The-Life of Mr. HalfFull & Ms. HalfEmpty to read more about our time in Fiji and the start of our adventure in New Zealand.  Thanks to Nora for this opportunity!

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , ,