Planning the Big Trip (part 1)

it’s just under a year since I left the Uk to return to New Zealand but before I went, I knew there were so many more places in europe I wanted to see.

The time for small trips had passed so it was time to plan the big one. We wouldn’t have jobs to rush back to, no rent to pay, family that wouldn’t mind waiting another few months to see us. The only thing holding us back was the amount of funds we could save.

We had two way to do this…

1. We could plan everything in advance. We could know where we would be two months before we went, where we would be. We could have budgeted our money to know exactly how much we could spend in each place on each day. We would have a written itinerary ready to recite when needed or

2. We could wing it. Planning day by day, keeping an eye on money, trying to keep things cheap but not missing out on experiences because of how much things cost.

Our decision was a mix of both. We started our trip at the end of summer, when people still trying to find a bargain, were holidaying in all the places we were headed to first. We knew this would be a factor and when we first started looking into where we wanted to go and places to stay, found that a lot were already being booked up.

Athens Greece

Another factor to consider was that I would be in Malta for the month of August so anything we wanted planned and booked would have to be done before I left for there. This meant lots of nights in July debating where we both dreamed of going and how realistic it was to go (“what do you mean you don’t think it would be a good idea to visit the Russia right now!”) Knowing that our first destination was going to be Greece, We booked our one way tickets to Athens in July, 2 months before we begun and started looking at hostels.

Santorini Greece

We also knew that while we were in Greece, one of Ads best mates  would be as well and considering it would be awhile till they saw each other again, that played a part in choosing where we wanted to go. We wanted to see at least 3 different Islands and so we took to the internet for advice, I found Ngaire’s blog post to be one of the most useful and she was such a source for information when I was asking. In the end we knew the three islands we would visit Santorini, Paros and Milos. We booked the ferry to Santorini but left the rest till later.

Dubrovnik CroatiaThe only other trip we booked ahead of time was a Traveltalk sail Croatia trip. This was in the hopes of having a week off planning on own own, but looking back, I wish we had just done it on our own terms. We might not have partied (I don’t think I would have minded that much) or sunbathed (I probably could have found the time on my own like in Bol) as much but we wouldn’t have been forced to skip places so that we could spend 4 nights in Split so we didn’t miss a party with other boats.

Split Croatia

Apart from that, we were pretty much on our own. We had a guide book (left behind prior by Ads sister) and an idea of what we wanted to see and as we went along places were added and taken away. There were cities that I wanted to see but didn’t work into our plans such as Berlin and places I’d never assume I’d go such as Serbia or Romania. Yes sometimes we did backtrack a bit but at the end of the day it was an experience. We spent the better part of 2 and a half months traveling and getting to see things we would have probably missed out on otherwise and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have a look at where we got to on our travels:

Stay tuned for Part 2: How we traveled 

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zaida brunch wellington

Brunching Adventures: Flat Whites at Zaida’s

Another month means another #Bruchclub Wellington and this time it was held at Zaida’s in College Street.

zaida brunch wellington

The last time I was here was 5 years ago and I knew it under a different name. Walking in on Sunday Morning, it all felt very similar despite the name change. Yes, the inside seemed to be done up but food wise, it seemed much the same.

Zaida’s offers both menu and counter choices, and lining up to order, the food on offer was very tempting. I can remember the filo being a firm favourite of mine when I worked up the road all that time ago. After making my decision from the blackboard behind the counter, I discovered a menu sitting by the register… seemed an odd place when I normally want to make my decision before I get up to pay.

Sandwich and Salad

I settled on the rosti, an easy decision when I found out that I could substitute the bacon for mushrooms. And it was good… As was the coffee.

Rosti vegetarian brunch wellington

There were lots of new faces at this #BrunchClub and I finally got to meet Kat from Lady Loves Cake as well as getting to see lots of old faces. I also need to thank Tilly from The Poppy Creative for the amazing print.
the poppy creative flat white

Can’t wait for the next one

Jenna

Dining out at Chow

A lot of things for me seem to start with a tweet and dinner at chow was no different.

If you’re in Wellington, on twitter and like eating then you’ve got to enter #datenight. I didn’t win #datenight but I did win dinner and a show.

Unfortunately for me, traffic meant I didn’t get there on time to take full advantage of the all you could eat offer and bar tab they put on for me and Ad but we tried to make the most of it.

Since I was driving , I got to indulge in the nonalcoholic drinks menu which I found great. The amount of choices you had (that wasn’t just the usual coke, lemonade, juice) meant that even though I was drinking I could have something special made just for me. Blue cheese wontons

The food list was just as good and I found lots of different options that I could have. I needs up choosing 5 small plates from the menu which I shared with Ad while he got a curry just for himself (he wanted something meaty). Each dish was delicious on its own but I found the spiced tofu to be the highlight for me.

Chow Wellington

Sadly we didn’t get time to have dessert so I’ll guess I’ll have to go back to sample some. Not that I needed a reason anyway since their cocktail list is calling my name (on a night I don’t drive of course)

20150226_202600

I’d like to thank Chow for an amazing meal. Despite being busy, we found the service to be great and very attentive. After dinner we were also treated to a show that was part of the Wellington Fringe Fest. It wasn’t something I would have picked to go and see but I’m glad I got the chance to go.

Chow can be found at 45 Tory St, Te Aro, Wellington 6141

A new one gets added #30beforeIm30

It’s that time when I get to add a new item to my list and this ones a two parter.

 Introducing 

#24 Get my full licence 

Yep I still haven’t got my full drivers licence but I have 5 years to get and and 5 years to finish this list so it works perfectly (I do really plan on getting it as soon as possible) 

The closest I got to driving a car in a very long time

The closest I got to driving a car in a very long time

The other full licence I need to get is my teaching licence. 

In New Zealand you have to work for two years with a provisional licence to prove that you  are able to meet the criteria for a good teacher. 

One year in and I decided to move to the United Kingdom. After 4 years away there, I have now arrived back in New Zealand and have until the beginning of next year to get my full registration. I’m lucky that I can attribute a year of overseas teaching to my registration and that means I should be done earlier then the deadline. I’ll keep you updated but hopefully in another few months it should be done and dusted and I will have my full teachers registration!

Brunching adventure: dining at Drexels with #Brunchclub

On a cold wet morning, if there’s one things that’s sure to get me up, it’s the thought of coffee and brunch.

Me and a bunch of other bloggers that is, as this month we caught up for #Brunchclub at Drexels, located at 32 Waring Taylor St, Wellington, 6011

Arriving at Drexels, late after a mishap with my phone that morning, it was a lot easier then last time to find the group. Among the group were the familiar faces of DaniGeorginaHannahMorganPip who had been at the last #brunchclub, as well as Emma and Kahurangi who I’d met at the Zomato foodie meet up and a couple of new faces including Alice and Zarette

Normally I’d be the first one to go for bottomless coffee, but knowing I had another lunch to attend meant instead I opted for a flat white, which was just what I needed. When it came time to choosing what to eat, I knew I wanted something sweet, but what… Waffles, pancakes or French toast and then was the question of what to have with it! 

Drexels french toast

drexels berry compote

The options seemed endless as I finally settled on French toast with a berry compote ($5) as extra. Then I had to choose the size. Half, one or two.. Again with the prospect of lunch afterwards I settled for half and I’m glad I did. The portion was huge! One giant piece of French toast with a generous dollop of whipped butter, then the added berry compote. It was fantastic. I was full without feeling like I needed to roll home afterwards. 

Drexels food envy

Unfortunately for me, after arriving late I need to leave early to get to my lunch date, but it was great being able to catch up with everyone again and meet new faces. I can’t wait to see where next months will be and perhaps this time I won’t have to rush off so soon!

Jenna and the Chocolate Factory 

You may not have a golden tickets but here’s an easy way to get into the chocolate factory.

Laima chocolate factory

Up the velvet red stairs. Under the giant bar of dripping melted chocolate (sadly plastic)

Pay for the tickets (€7 but trust me it’s worth it)

Eat all the dark and milk chocolates and biscuits sitting on the counter, and why not put some of the wrapped candy in your bag for later (there’s chocolate wafer bars in there!)

As the woman dressed in a tutu shows you into the first room, pause for a moment to enjoy that smell. What is that delicious aroma you ask? Melted chocolate and you’re about to get a cup full, dark or milk? This is when it’s good to be a couple. Why? Get one of each and share. We were offered another cup but (I’d never thought I’d say this) but it was so rich, one was enough!

Chocolate fountain Laima Chocolate

Chocolate factory riga

Explore the rest of the room finding out how chocolate is produced at Laima factory while deciding how to personalise your free bar of chocolate. Will it be in English or Latvian?

Onto the next room where you get to learn about the history of chocolate and how it’s involved. Where you can get your photo taken and projected onto a clock, a miniature of the Laima clock near Freedom Square. Or where you can record your own video clip.

Laima Clock History of chocolate

Laima Latvia

It may not be the biggest of chocolate factories but walking out those doors to collect our personalised chocolate bars, I felt it was worth the money and the trip. It’s about a 20minute (slow) walk from the old town but if you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to burn off that chocolate you could catch a tram even closer.

Celebrating St Martins Day in Riga, Latvia 

When exploring a new country it’s important to take part in cultural events… Even if you don’t really understand them.

St martins day latvia

St Martins day in Latvia, is celebrated on the 11th November and we just happened to be there to help. On the recommendation of the lady at the hostel, we headed out to the Ethnographic Open Air Museum. Only a tram ride and short walk from the old town. The lines were long and we had no idea what to expect very soon we were inside.

St Martins Day is a feast celebrating the start of winter and the end of fall when all the harvest had finished. Don’t be alarmed by those in costume… They are there to scare away the ghosts.

St Martins Day costumes

The days is filled with activities and things to enjoy. We did stilt walking (where we discovered I’m much better then Ad), tried some (disgusting) tea, brewed in a  large cauldron.  We watched live music that they then begun to play a game much like hopscotch to and we walked around a museum we otherwise wouldn’t have visited.

Stilt walkinglatvian hopscotchSt Martins TeaIMG_3931

The Ethnographic Open Air Museum is a forest filled with old cottages, buildings and even a windmill. On a cold winters day it may not seem very appealing, but add in the celebrations of St Martins Day and it’s definitely a goer. 

Riga forestskipping rocks

Have you ever got to participate in any cultural events that you learn about as you go?