maandag 21 juli 2014

Arrived at last!

Yes, you read that correctly...we've finally landed in New Zealand! It was almost surreal, after so many months of dreaming, preparing and looking forward to it.

Ready for take off!

Many people at home have asked me to keep them updated - of course I will. I'm not really feeling like starting a new blog though, so I will  just proceed on this one. I hope that's okay :) I will also keep writing in English so my international friends can read it too if they want, but for all the Dutchies out there: I will post a link to an automatically translated version of the blogpost every time! Here's it for this one: Nederlandse versie.

Mark was not at all looking forward to the long flight, while I was pretty much indifferent about it. I now do totally get him though, flying to the literal other side of the world is a VERY tiring thing. My longest flight so far has been to Indonesia, but you still have to fly about 10 hours further if you want to get to New Zealand. Airplane chairs are super cramped, crying and pooping (yes...) Indian kids are no fun and don't get me started on carrying about 50 kg of luggage around. However, we made it, and that's something to be thankful for. Just before boarding in Frankfurt we heard about the Malaysian Airlines plane. With no time left to find out what exactly happened, I got on the plane quite scared, worried we would fly over Ukrain as well. I'm glad that my dad posted a message on Facebook to let everyone know that we were not on that flight, and moved by all the worried questions and relieved responses of friends and family. My heart goes out to the ones that could not be soothed at the exact same worried questions, who could not be told that their friend or family member was not on that plane. It feels unfair, that we can start our great adventure here, while that of others was horribly ended before it could even begin, leaving their loved ones behind in deep and inconceivable grief. Makes me all the more aware of how blessed I am.

Saying goodbye was hard, especially to my parents. It's so strange to realize I won't be seeing them again for a whole year, still didn't sink in completely. They're really the best... I found out that sadness and happiness can coexist. It's not the easy way, some parents might stick with the grief or even bitterness, while others are so easygoing about their child leaving that its abuts indifference. I know mine are proud of me, love me and are very enthusiastic and happy for me, while at the same time they are quite sad about not having me near and missing me lots. Both sides, the sad part ánd the happy part make me feel extremely loved and valued. What else could a child wish for?

Beside a little discomfort our trip went relatively easy and without much trouble. We were pretty worried about our shitload of luggage (especially the ski- and board bag, which we filled with all our outdoor gear - to the point were the seams just didn't tear), but with a printed email from a friendly Dutch Air India employee and a relatively small extra fee we got checked in very easily. Our luggage even got checked through right to Queenstown (even though we'd fly the last part of our trip with Jetstar) no more sweating our guts out! Really, you should have seen us with all our bags loaded on a cart. Try to get through a doorway with a ski bag lying horizontally on a cart that has no swaying's a challenge, believe me ;)

Almost 100 kg of luggage..

Our first flight went from Frankfurt to Delhi (7,5 hours). After a couple of hours at Delhi Airport (looking out over skyscrapers adjoining slums...) we flew to Melbourne (another 11 hours). The last part of the trip went from Melbourne to Queenstown (3,5 hours), leaving at around 11 in the morning. During the flights I started journaling. Just short writings, so I will always be able to track back what we've been doing. I thought it would be nice to copy bits of it in my travel blogs every now and then (the fun parts ;)). They will be in Italian font.

Mark accidentally ate a VERY hot pepper this night at the plane. He got all red with teary eyes and kept asking for water. Took about half an hour before he looked more or less normal again... Just be careful what you eat when flying with Air India.

Delhi-Melbourne takes about 11 hours of flying, which turns out to be long, to put it mildly. Every meal exists of rice and seems to be served at random times. 
Just lost a game of chess against Mark, again... 90% of the passengers is Indian and watching Bollywood movies the whole time. Very typical, those Bollywood films. Regardless the genre (action, thriller, romcom), every 5 minutes all actors suddenly burst into overly enthusiastic singing and dancing.
I watched "The Budapest Hotel" and "Hachiko - A dog's tale". First one was absolutely fabulous, second one got me crying like a baby. 

The arrival in New Zealand was breathtaking. We took off in Melbourne at around 11 am, so it was midday when we flew over Fiord Land and Mount Aspiring National Park. In between the clouds we could see the snowed tops, small and big lakes, rivers and green hills...every new part even more breathtaking then the former. Everyone says: "New Zealand is beautiful" and I've seen thousands of pics, but really? All the descriptions and photographs fall short with the real thing.

Flying over Mount Aspiring National Park...

...and the Queenstown rural area (already pretty low here). 

Stepping out of the Queenstown airport, we took a deep breath of fresh air with a faint smell of wood burners, forming little clouds in front of our mouths when exhaling again. We'd arrived.

A taxi took us to our hostel, this is where we stay: Bungi Hostel. The taxi ride went by like in a dream, even though we drove past the most amazing sceneries...seriously, I don't believe I've ever been this tired in my life before. Lightheadedly and spinning on my legs, I could barely keep myself together. I think I now know what a real jetlag feels like - it's no fun. About 12 hours of sleep later (in a real bed...oh the pleasure!) we were more or less able to have coherent conversations again. Time for action!

At lake Wakatipu.

It's around zero degrees Celsius here, while back at home it's been over 35 the last few days..what a difference! Finally I can wear my new gear, keeping me warm and toasty :) Today we bought New Zealand sim cards for our Iphones (easypeasy!) and did some grocery shopping (would've been 40 or 50 euro's max at home, here it was 'only' 140 NZD. Seriously?!). After that we walked through Queenstown Gardens. Continuous amazement, words fall short to describe the views. People play frisbee here, just like the French play Jeu de Boule. They even have holes and scoring cards! Have to try it out sometime. Tomorrow we will start our car hunt. 

Disc Golf (or 'frisbee', as we'd call it in Dutch :))

Biiig trees...

Queenstown Gardens

That sums up more or less what we've been doing our first full day in Queenstown! It's pretty expensive, but véry beautiful...and that's still an understatement, believe me. Queenstown lies directly at the side of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by snowy mountains (among which the Remarkables). The town centre is compact, everything's at a walking distance, which is nice if you don't own a car just yet. The hostel's alright as well, there's an adorable and stubborn little red cat living here who likes to pay the guests a visit every now and then :) I always feel happier when there are pets around. The cat's purring on our bed sounded so much like home!

Like you could already read, today (21/7) we started our car hunt. Had a look at 3 vans, took some test drives and found out more about registration and such. Most vehicles are sold just alongside the road here (instead of at a car dealer). Taking a long walk through town, stopping by at the supermarket to have a look at the community board and checking the local newspaper will get you a long way! Most vans are just a bit too small for our taste though...that's fine if you use it for work, or short (weekend) trips, or maybe even traveling around for a couple of months. But we plan on living in it for probably longer than half a year, so a little bit of space will be nice. We hope we can get it all settled before moving to Wanaka (Lake Hawea) next thursday.

Well..I guess that's it for now, a complete update! Oh, there's one last thing I'd like to say: the Kiwi's have been very friendly so far. Several strangers showed condolence to what happened with the passengers of MH17, some people I've only met online so far sent worried messages, and warm welcoming texts after they heard we were safe. Heartwarming!

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