KEWL: Mt Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania

After reading through the Lonely Planet’s account of Hobart, I decided that my first full day out of New Zealand should be spent climbing Mt. Wellington. I figured it was the most appropriate thing. In fact, on the way to the start of the trails I saw an All Blacks flag. It was sweet (extremely bold in a land of the Wallabies).

Just to give some perspective, I climbed up to the top where that "small" pole is.

This morning I got up bright and early and ran for the bus, barely making it. I climbed aboard and told the driver where I wanted to go – halfway up Mt Wellington in Fern Tree. She then proceeded to wind her way through small neighbourhoods and up along small roads (seriously, I couldn’t believe the bus made it up). She then dropped me off,  all alone beside a tavern.

There were multiple trails to take, but being a loyal Lonely Planet follower, I chose their Fern Grove > Radford > Pinnacle > Zig Zag route.

Although I knew that I would be climbing up, up, up a mountain, I was soooooo not physically prepared to climb up, up, up a mountain. I had all the appropriate gear – hiking boots, thick jacket, plenty of food and water, but I didn’t have the right muscles.

Luckily, however, I was completely alone, so I could curse as much as I wanted, trip, talk to myself, huff and puff and most importantly – stop and sit down whenever I felt like it.

After 45 minutes of hating myself, I reached a toilet/parking area. There was one guy in a ute sitting there and all I could think was – he’s going to murder me. So I walked around the toilet, not going in until someone stopped too. Then I went in really fast and took off back up the mountain.

What I didn’t realise is that the first 45 minutes could be considered the “fun” part. The rest of it was almost completely vertical. And in the sun. And rocky. But, about 10 minutes in to this part of the track, I finally saw why I was killing myself (see below).

And it only got better…

And better…

I had originally intended on going down the way I came up, but somewhere around the 4 billionth zig zag (the track was more aptly named than you’d believe), I turned around and stared down at the way I came and decided there was no way I would make it back that way alive. After all, I almost fell down multiple times.

When I finally reached the top. I decided I would hitch-hike for the first time ever. I went to the viewing platform and while paying attention to the sights, I started sizing up candidates. Hmm, doesn’t speak English. Nope, scariest man I’ve ever seen. Oh, I could ride with them – they’re very attractive. Then I turned around and saw the Mt Wellington bus and decided instead to pay the $15 to go back down.

My walk to the top took 2 hours. I was pretty damn proud of myself, and got quite a few “Good on ya”s from the men in the shuttle bus. – Jennifer

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NOM: NZ Brands

As previously mentioned, I’m a big fan of man yoghurt. And afghans.

Pictured below are other things I already miss about New Zealand, one day in from leaving. I bought everything I was going to miss the day before I left, but because it was the day before I left, I didn’t have time to eat all of them. I definitely attempted though… !

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MISSU: Television, Movies… Entertainment

Many times, in particularly awful fits of boredom, I’ve googled and googled until I could find an episode of my favorite television shows. I’ve stumbled across some particularly sketchy looking sites, which ran risk of downloading a virus on my computer. I’ve watched clips with Japanese subtitles, hoping they would go away eventually. Nevertheless, I kept searching, and every time I was successful, I sat for 21 minutes in nothing but pure glee as Amy, Tina or Jon graced my computer screen.

I can’t help it. I love television. I know it’s pathetic. Or even perhaps even dumb, but there is some amazing writing out there right now and unfortunately being in New Zealand, I’m missing all of it. They are almost caught up to How I Met Your Mother and I refuse to miss Happy Endings and Bob’s Burgers, but those don’t even come close to Parks & Rec and 30 Rock.  I’ve even watched a few episodes of shows out of order and completely out of context (is that just overly desperate?). I can’t wait to get back and have Hulu at my fingertips!

I miss you, Amy!

And as for movies, NZ has some wonderful cinemas. Some of the best I have ever been to, in fact (until Laurel and I go to this gem on our way home, of course). And they aren’t too far behind on movies either – especially not blockbusters. If we want to see an “indie” movie, we have to wait a bit longer. And obviously, I was really spoiled by New York’s awesome indie movie scene so patience isn’t as much of a virtue as it should be.

And of course, I miss Netflix. We did take advantage of a daily deal for a smaller NZ-type Netflix called Fatso, but after the trial run it was much too expensive for what it was. And now I suppose Netflix doesn’t exist in its original form any more.

Wellington City Libraries have been my only saving grace here – amazing selection of movies and television at reasonable prices. And I know – even just saying library I have to point out that I should have been spending more time reading books than trying to find people acting out books! Don’t worry – I tried. – Jennifer

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NOM: Biscuits

Growing up, I didn’t know that other parts of the country didn’t eat biscuits. I was even more dumbfounded to find out that in other parts of the world the word biscuit means something else entirely. When I moved to New York, I almost had to say goodbye to American style biscuits entirely. One of the only places that had them (along with sweet tea) was McDonalds. And to be truthful, I did go to McDonalds whenever I had a hankering. And also because I don’t respect my body.

Either way, here in NZ (and in other UK places), biscuits are what we’d call hard-as-rock cookies in the States. Every time I reference American-style biscuits, I confuse and befuddle people here. In my attempts to explain, I’ve been trying to make biscuits, but I can’t seem to get the recipe of biscuits down and they end up coming out like scones (which is something everyone can relate to here). I can’t wait to go to a traditional Southern cafeteria when I get back to Tennessee. Did someone say Kleervu?

By the same token, I’m going to miss the entire aisle of biscuits here. Especially afghan biscuits, because they’re pretty much the best things in the world. They’re a traditional chocolate cookie with cornflakes in the recipe. And they’re AMAZING.

Maybe I’ll attempt them when I get back to the States, but like my Southern-style biscuit attempts, I’m not expecting much. – Jennifer

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FML: Politics

BTW: I don’t know enough about politics to actually write a post about it, but I have to since it’s definitely not something I’m looking forward to.

So, there’s a PM election coming up here before the end of the year. The buzz surrounding it only just started. There’s also a presidential election coming up in the States in one year. The buzz surrounding that started quite a while ago.

Besides my overall worry that the world is going down the crapper, I don’t really care about politics. At least, not enough to focus on them more than a year before they even have a chance to change. Also, considering USA’s voting system is set up in a way that makes absolutely no sense – in that my vote doesn’t actually count, what’s the point?

Obama holding a doggy - how cute!

Although admittedly I would tend to lean more Democrat, I’m more of a social issues person rather than a “No, MY party is right!” person. Defining yourself by a party is just boring, especially when the overall goal should be making the country a better place to live, not proving that you have bigger balls. I really do wish that someone would work together, just once. There’s a greater good out there and everyone seems to be missing it. Actually, that’s probably the problem – everyone’s opinion of the ‘greater good’ is completely different.

I don’t necessarily like the way that NZ handles their politics, but the people here, overall, seem happier. It might have something to do with the Kiwi vibe of “It’s all good, bro.” They care, but they don’t seem to let anything get them down. Granted, I’ve been working for local government for about five months, so perhaps I have a skewed version of central government.

I will say that although I’m not looking forward to dealing with smear campaigns and political debates, I am excited to see something happen. Here, I haven’t really seen anything besides a few posters that say to “Party vote” National (which I disagree with, as above). Also, I’m not a huge fan of ole John Key. I don’t know much about him, unfortunately, but judging by what he’s quoted as saying, I am just not sure he’s all there. –Jennifer

And, just for good measure:

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NOM: Pies

The first time I ever had a meat pie (besides chicken pot pie) was at an Australian restaurant in the Lower East Side. It was… a game changer and definitely not something I wanted on a regular basis. Something about a massive amount of meat in one concentrated area just grossed me out.

Here in NZ (like Australia), they’re really popular. I’ve given them a go a couple of more times, and as I write this, I’m starting realise that I actually really enjoy them.  I’m still not big on the steak and gravy ones, but my coworkers introduced me to the potato top pie. A mince (ground beef for the Americans) pie with potatoes on it? Yeah, I’m addicted.

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The best pies are at this little place called Art Craft bakery near Civic Square in Wellington. I’m saying this with very limited experience (as in I rarely go anywhere else).

Besides potato top, I’m big on the bacon and egg and any vegetable ones that places have. Meow in Wellington is another good place to go for pies, and they have a lot of gluten free options.  The only place I enjoyed a steak and cheese pie was after surfing one day in Lyall Bay from a little pie shop on the main strip. It honestly could have been because I was starving, but I really enjoyed it. I haven’t found one that I enjoy since.

I think that deep down I’m going to miss meat pies. They’re just so applicable sometimes. Like when you’re hungover. Or bored at work. Or hungry…  –Jennifer

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FML: Men rule!

Let me start by saying I don’t generally describe myself as a feminist. I’ve got my moments and have big ups for equality, but I don’t like the negative connotation that word projects. Also, I really do hate labels. But I have to say this country is absolutely ridiculous when it comes to men. Because if there’s anything that is perpetuated all over NZ, it’s that MEN RULE.

Actually, that’s not true. They (aka the powers that be) actually perpetuate that men are really, really stupid. I feel like that’s the only way that I can explain it.

First of all, there are the PSAs targeted toward men. Our favorite groan-inducing one is “mantrol”. Statistically, men in New Zealand are super bad at driving. It’s kind of nice to hear when people always talk about woman drivers. But as the ad shows below, it’s because apparently all male drivers are super dumb.

I mean, seriously, what driver doesn’t know to slow down in rain? That person should not have a driver’s license (I’m saying this fully realising what a terrible driver I am, btw…).

But what about PSAs for women? Well, they make sure that we know that we can breastfeed anywhere and should get a smear test more often. But, let’s be honest, it’s nice to know they care about women’s health. Most insurances in the US wouldn’t cover an abnormal papsmear test or even pay for ultrasounds.

My other worry is they think that men aren’t able to think about their nutritional wellbeing.There are so many products targeted toward men: man yoghurt, man ice cream, man dip and man bread (just to name a few). They’re apparently just so much better because they’re made for men by men. One such example is the Mammoth Supply Co. who say that man used to be the best job in the world. I can tell they are taking the piss, but it’s still a bit disconcerting. Also, the bad part is that I reallllllllly love Mammoth yogurt. I’m kind of addicted to it. I really want to hate it, I do. But it’s delicious. And I just can’t deprive myself of deliciousness.

There aren’t many “women” things unless you count all the low carb, tasteless beers that are targeted toward us. Sure, women might like those beers, but I know many, many men who enjoy them as well, and I personally dislike them.

I just think all of this is weird when put up against the fact that New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote and also the first country to elect a female Prime Minister.

Obviously, I’m not saying that the US is any better when it comes to sexism. We definitely don’t lead the change for equality. After all, the Burger King commercials for the “queen sized” burger have aired in both countries. And unfortunately, I’ve drunkenly marched into a Burger King here in New Zealand and demanded a “king size” just to prove I could eat it (and I did in about 3 seconds, exclaiming “Is that all you got?!” afterwards)…

Actually, maybe I’m the dumb one. – Jennifer

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FML: Fast Internet

This entire weekend in Martinborough we’ve had to use the internet practically one at a time. The internet is just super sloooowwww. I wish I could say this is just how the countryside is, but it’s this way all over New Zealand.

Additionally, all internet charges you by megabyte, and if you run out for the month, you have to pay extra. And if you travel around New Zealand, almost no cities have free internet at any place besides McDonalds. Welly has it elsewhere, along the waterfront and most recently in the CBD, thanks to my place of work (I haven’t tested it but it’s apparently pretty fast but can’t be accessed as well indoors). However, we didn’t encounter too many other cities offering free internet.

Overall, getting online is a pain in the ass. Especially when you’re thousands of miles away from everyone you know in a tiny country that experiences sudden earthquakes. When the CHCH earthquake hit, Laurel and I didn’t have access to our emails and everyone thought we might have been affected.  Being in Wellington, I didn’t think twice about the earthquake affecting us. But not everyone knew where we were.

Basically, I’m looking forward to having internet that doesn’t suck. I also can’t wait to finally upload pictures and videos from my travels here, and I’m super excited about my future Spotify account. And of course, there’s Hulu and Netflix, but entertainment in general is a whole different ballgame (er, blog post).

I suppose I should note that I will be living in Tennessee with my parents, where internet is still a bit slow. Maybe after all this time I’ll be a bit more patient. Probably not. – Jennifer

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NOM: Wine

To kick off this endeavor, I’m going to post about something that I developed a love for here in New Zealand, and am looking forward to having more of when I return to the States (and as I continue to travel around the world).  This first post is made even more appropriate by the fact that I’m sitting in a friend’s house in Martinborough, the first place I tried New Zealand wine (and where I just tasted some more at the Martinborough Wine Centre).

My drink of choice for years was solely ‘whiskey and ginger’ – everyone knew that’s what I wanted the second I walked in. The reasoning wasn’t because of my undeniable need to be the most dudely in the crowd, but rather because every other alcoholic beverage gave me a migraine. And of course, I really like the way it tastes. But don’t ask me about the difference between whisk(e)y and bourbon, because I don’t know. I’ve been asked that question about a billion times by guys at bars who think I might be the oracle of fermented grain. I’m not, so let’s leave it at that.

Wine, however, I’ve figured out. Not in one of those “You guys, I like totally went to some wineries and I did the swirl thing and I like totally know like what I’m talking about. Also, check out my portable spittoon.” More like, I’ve figured out what I like and what I don’t, but to each their own.

And what do I like? Well, none other than Martinborough’s world famous Pinot Noir. I don’t just like it, I love it. I also quite like Sauv Blanc, but these days I’m leaning toward the redder side of things. Why do I like it? Oh, well obviously because it tastes good. I should probably be more descriptive…so, um, it’s not overly sweet and sometimes has a bit of a bite, like me.

Either way, just know this: New Zealand has developed my taste for wine. It’s not that I can now describe them (obviously), but I have become more adventurous and accepting to have my glass filled by something other than whiskey. And if you are lucky enough to find a reasonably priced bottle of New Zealand wine, go for Vynfields, Ata Rangi, Craggy Range or Cloudy Bay. –Jennifer

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Memory joggers

As you know, Laurel and I are avid blog attempters. We tried really hard to occasionally blog about eating food (since we’re so damn good at it). And then when we decided that since we were moving somewhere awesome, we would blog about that too. And although we were somewhat successful (for about, um, two months), our blog attempts have fallen by the wayside again.

So, I’m going to post every day for the first week of October about things that I’m either going to miss about New Zealand or am looking forward to going back to. Or, of course, things I won’t miss or am not looking forward to. These won’t be amazing blog posts that one day will be turned into a book. Pretty sure that only about six people will ever read these. But if anything, these posts will simply help me remember that year of my life when I lived far, far away.

I’m hoping that as soon as we get back we can continue to reflect on our time here (and post more awesome pictures). However, I hope this short reflection will appease you until then. – Jennifer

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