Posts Tagged pie

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!

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Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oye, Oye, Oye!

Sydney Train Station

Ms. HalfEmpty with her duffel in a Sydney train station

After spending a week on the beaches in Noumea, we headed back to cooler weather to visit the fourth country on our 30/40 World Tour — Australia.  We flew into Sydney and took the train downtown.  But we weren’t the only ones visiting Sydney; Lady Gaga was also in town.

Perhaps that’s why we were awoken at 2 AM one morning to a man shouting, “Welcome to f#@*!ng Sydney, Australia,” from the sound tunnel street ten floors below our room.  I’m fairly certain that drunken outburst was not our welcome committee.

Lady Gaga Kids

Lady Gaga fans in crazy costumes doing a photo shoot @ Sydney Harbor

The Lady Gaga followers were quite a sight to behold.  We watched them pose in their crazy outfits as multiple photographers swarmed to capture the shot.  It’s not the type of thing you see every day.

chocolates

No wonder my pants were sung... look what I was eating in Sydney!

Our hotel room turned out to be a suite with a full kitchen, two balconies, and a washer/dryer.  I guess they ran out of standard rooms or made a mistake.  Score!

It was awesome to have a free washer/dryer in our room.  This was a single front-load machine that washed and dried.  It seemed like a pretty neat concept… until Mr. HalfFull washed my jeans.  Now remember that I only had 1.5 pairs of pants for 10 weeks.  Plus, those jeans were my warmest pants and it was winter.  We soon learned that the all in one washer/dryer uses extreme heat for the drying cycle.  It was so hot that it melted the leather tab on the waist of the back of my jeans.  That made the pants way too snug and I certainly wasn’t losing weight on the trip (although Mr. HalfFull was).

Sydney Walkway

Wide sidewalk through Hyde Park under a canopy of trees

We were only in Sydney for a couple of days, so we mostly explored on foot.  Our hotel was across the street from Hyde Park, which had a huge canopy of trees above an oversized walkway with fountains and monuments throughout.  It was a fun place to people watch and stroll.  We noticed that pinstripe suits are very popular in Sydney.  It was quite a departure from the less formal attire we generally saw in Fiji and New Zealand.

Hyde Park Rainbow

Sometimes even Ms. HalfEmpty spots a rainbow @ Hyde Park

The Royal Botanic Gardens was another green area near our hotel.  Despite being winter, it was still beautiful.  But I think I was most surprised by the colorful birds we spotted flying free.

birds in Royal Botanic Garden

Birds munching on bread @ Royal Botanic Gardens

Our second day in town was unseasonably warm and sunny.  I was quite congested and didn’t feel very good, but I decided to be a trooper and take a short ferry ride to Manly Beach.  I was apprehensive about another ferry ride, but I hoped I would fare better than last time.  I knew it was a much shorter ride, not on open waters, with great weather conditions; so I took my chances.  Fortunately, the ride was uneventful.

Manly Beach

The tiny dots in the water are surfers @ Manly Beach

When we arrived in Manly Beach, we headed to the drugstore to find a decongestant for me.  I read a pamphlet at my doctor’s office a while ago that said the cold medicines you find on the shelves are ineffective as decongestants and you should buy the type with pseudoephedrine behind the counter.  Those are also sold behind the counter in Australia.  So I spoke with the pharmacist to see which ones they had in stock.  She asked me if I wanted codeine!  I didn’t take her up on her offer, but I was certainly surprised that you don’t need a prescription for narcotics in Australia.  Anyway, I took my decongestant pills and felt better.

We spent a few hours walking along the beach and watching the surfers.  Even this half empty girl could realize that it was a glorious day!

Sydney Harbor

View of a sailboat, the Sydney Opera House, and another ferry while ferrying back to Sydney Harbor

In the afternoon, we went back to Sydney and walked A LOT.  We were on a quest to find the best meat pie after reading a review.  We never did find that restaurant.  I was disappointed because I fell in love with meat pies in New Zealand.  Those pies were so delicate, flaky and delicious.  But in Australia, the pies I tried in Sydney were rather disappointing.  Maybe it’s because I was sick, but I don’t think so.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Fortunately this bird did not poop on Ms. HalfEmpty @ Sydney Harbor

In fact, I didn’t like much Australian food.  We always try to sample the local cuisine in each country, but we were generally disappointed with Australian restaurants.  We soon learned that the Asian restaurants were delicious.  I guess that makes sense with the close proximity and number of the immigrants.  So we ended up sticking to Thai and Japanese with great success.

Coffee School

Should Ms. HalfEmpty enroll at the Coffee School?

During that long walk, we found the perfect place for me — a coffee school!  Was it a sign?

Sydney Opera House sign organ poster

Mr. HalfFull at the Sydney Opera House. Is that the only answer? =)

That evening I took another decongestant pill before we walked to the Sydney Opera House to see a play.  It was our 5th play of the 30/40 World Tour… and the worst.  It was such a strange play.  But perhaps this was once again clouded by my sickness, although I doubt it.  On the walk to the play, my heart was racing, my legs were tingling, and I started shaking.  Then I was no longer able to flex my feet as I stepped off sidewalk curbs.  It was such a strange feeling.  When we got to the theater, Mr. HalfFull got me some juice.  After a few sips, I promptly ran to the bathroom to vomit.  Yes, I defiled the Sydney Opera House; it was an accident.

But don’t worry, even though I’m Ms. HalfEmpty, I got better.

 

 

  • Would you dress up for Lady Gaga?
  • Have you ruined clothes in the dryer?
  • Have you preferred non-native food to local cuisine while traveling?
  • Have you gotten sick while traveling?  Did you notice differences in the availability of medications?

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!

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Adventures Under the Long White Cloud

Ladies Beach

Mr. HalfFull

Kia ora! We toured New Zealand for three weeks and immediately discovered why they call it the land of the long white cloud.  Our first full day was overcast and windy.  But by the second morning, we saw the sun peak through the long white cloud from our motel room.

Taupo

The long white cloud found us in Lake Taupo at sunset

As we traveled around the country, sometimes the long white cloud would follow us, and sometimes we were able to out run it.  We only had a couple completely rainy days, but those were good for laundry, SKY Movies, and napping.

I had expected New Zealand to be one of our most relaxing parts of the 30/40 World Tour since three weeks was the longest we planned to stay in any country.  However, Mr. HalfFull had something different in mind.  His idea was to tour as much of the North Island as possible, which meant our longest stay at any New Zealand accommodation was merely two nights. Planning the next step each day added a level of stress, and we rarely got comfortable or accustomed to a city/town.

Marlborough Sound

Fluffy white instead of long white clouds over Marlborough Sound in the South Island

We flew into Auckland Airport and stayed out there our first night.  The next day we stayed in the Mission Bay area outside Auckland CBD, and made it into the city itself our third night.  The other world travelers we met in Fiji were quite negative about Auckland, but we enjoyed it.  It’s a green city with parks and green spaces, which reminds me of Washington D.C.  I’ve never been a fan of concrete jungle cities.

Whale Bay

Ms. HalfEmpty sightseeing from the rental car on our way to Bay of Islands

After our day in Auckland CBD, it was time to pick up our rental car and explore the rest of the island.  The map below shows all the places we stayed in New Zealand.  I also added Cape Reinga to show that we drove to the northwestern most tip of New Zealand.  As you can see, we traversed quite a bit of the North Island — driving north from Auckland along the Pacific Coast to Cape Reinga where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea, then driving South along the West Coast until we arrived in Wellington, the capital.  From there, we took a ferry to Picton in the South Island.  We wanted to explore more of the South Island, but the earthquakes in Christchurch shut down the train. Plus, we weren’t sure we were ready to drive on icy roads with the colder temperatures of the South Island. For our return trip, we took the ferry and rented another car in Wellington and drove north along the East Coast back to Auckland.


View New Zealand in a larger map

I’m glad I got to see so much of the topographically interesting and beautiful New Zealand, but next time I definitely know which places to avoid (yeah you, Huntly!) and those that would be wonderful for a longer stay.

Volcanic Latte

We learned that coffee comes from volcanoes at the museum in New Plymouth

The thing that most pleasantly surprised me about Kiwi culture was coffee.  I was in serious need of a good coffee shop after Fiji.  But I had no idea that New Zealand had such a passionate coffee culture.  Basically, you can get espresso anywhere and filter coffee almost no where.  Even gas stations have espresso machines where each drink is personally prepared.  Apparently, New Zealand has more roasters per capita than anywhere in the world!  It was awesome to see coffee signs in abundance, even in rural areas.

I also discovered that I love pies — bacon/egg in the morning, and chicken/vege for lunch.  This is the perfect traveling food.  It’s like a personal pot pie that you can eat while walking or in the car; no utensils needed.  I’m not sure if my figure appreciates the pies as much as my appetite.

In a country full of amazing landscapes, creamy coffee, and flaky pies, what’s not to love?

  • Do you prefer being on the move or staying in a single place for an extended period?
  • Do you prefer greener cities or those filled with skyscrapers and an active nightlife?
  • Have you fallen in love with food/drink abroad?

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!

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