After a quick bite to eat in the Air New Zealand lounge we boarded our A320 flight to Christchurch. Tom is with kids across the aisle from me. They got premium economy and I am slumming it in economy. Not so bad for a short flight. More from New Zealand tomorrow.
I haven’t been doing much writing here lately. I have thought many times about writing but haven’t made the time to do it. So, what’s been going on?
We changed our holiday from Japan, Palau, Saipan, etc to an easier holiday–16 days on the South Island of New Zealand. We have been there before a couple of times but feel equally excited about going again. 36 days and counting.
I quit sugar again. I am on day 3. You would think 3 days without sugar wouldn’t be that difficult. It is amazing how much sugar a person eats without even thinking about it. I have been hungry. Today I have had a headache most of the day. For now I have only cut out refined sugar. I still have bits of fruit and whole-grain bread and pasta in moderation. I plan to cut out refined flour after a couple of weeks off of refined sugar.
Sofia started back to school a few weeks ago now. She is in Year 1 and so far loves it. After school she does gymnastics one day (with Alex) and art class another day. Alex started back at the same daycare he has been going to. He does that three days a week.
We are coming to the end of summer in Sydney. Although it hasn’t been a particularity hot summer I am glad to see the back end of it. I am not fond of the never-ending humidity and blazing hot sun. Bring on my three favourite seasons!
I have been keeping myself busy. Sometimes I wonder where the time goes since I am not working but days are usually full. I help with our local Playgroup (the same one we have been going to for a few years now). I also help with reading in Sofia’s classroom. I am also class parent with two other mums for Sofia’s classroom. And the newest for me is offering to help on the P&C committee at Sofia’s school. I am not sure how much time it is going to take but I hope I didn’t take on too much with three committees!
I have started trying to do more reading again. I used to be such an avid reader and over the past few years I have struggled with focus. On Goodreads I have pledged to read 30 books this year. I am on book #4 so I am not keeping up pace. Of course there are about 100 books I want to read either on the bookshelf or in the Kindle app….
Knitting took a bit of a backseat over summer. Who wants to sit and knit when it is hot? I hope I can get back I to it as the weather cools. I have a couple of things started for people and many more things I want to learn!
We are planning our annual trip home (always the long way) right now. More on this as we get closer. Norway, England and Germany on the table at the moment as well as a stop through Singapore before we get to the US.
The kids are growing up so quickly. Sofia is six and Alex will be four in June. At this point I plan to send him to kindergarten next school year. It is hard to believe Sofia will be seven in October. 7! How is that even possible?sometimes you just want to stop time and keep them little forever. I can see why women keep having babies!!
That is all I have for now. I want to say that I will update more often but I can’t promise anything…
I am about four days behind doing Norway posts but I have to share our day on Monday. It was a long, tiring day but so much packed in.
Monday was one of those days that had grand vistas, glorious views and memorable experiences.
The day started off with this view:
Then a drive through the world’s longest tunnel, the The Lærdal Tunnel which is 24.5km long. It has three lighted cathedral/cave areas:
From here we crossed a fjord by ferry and then drove by some mirror-like fjords.
After more and more tunnels we made it to the glacier area.
We visited a Bøyabreen glacier. It has retreated so much that the terminal end is high up the mountainside now. There was still a large piece down at sea level that we managed, just, to walk to. We had to walk along a rocky shoreline and then cross a river (which we managed to get around on the way back). The river was very shallow here but was full of fine glacial silt. I went first….and nearly lost my shoes! Oops. Too wet and muddy, find another way. Once we got up to the glacier we clamoured up rocks to have a look and feel of the ice. It was a good learning experience for the kids.
After our little adventure I washed my shoes in the river and we were packing up we heard a rumbling noise. I heard it earlier and thought it was an airplane I couldn’t see. Then we saw it, the glacier high up on the mountain was calving, sending heaps of ice flowing down the mountainside. It was all very exciting.
We had been adventuring all day and we really needed to get to our hotel in Geiranger. There were a few viewpoints to see along the way, but Dalsnibba came highly recommended. It is a toll road and is 5km up the mountainside on switchbacks.
Here are a couple of the views from Dalsnibba looking down to the Geirangerfjord. Magnificent, majestic, these are two of the words to describe the view from up here. 1500m up above the valley. The kids played in snow and got dirty. It was so much fun. Of course my shoes were wet so I was standing up at this viewpoint with my summer shoes on. Brrrrr.
We finally arrived at Hotel Union which was a last minute change. We were booked into a hotel in Ålesund but realised it was going to be far too much driving for one day. Hotel Union sat up on the hill overlooking the Geirangerfjord which was fine by us. We had a beautiful buffet dinner and stopped to see the pool area before retreating to our room for the night. It was deserted and inviting so off we went to change. There was a kids area, a sauna, warm pool with crackling fire on one end and the best part was the outdoor heated pool. It was cold out there but jumping in the heated outdoor pool was heavenly. It was 10:00 before we all collapsed into bed for the night.
What a wonderful day! And more to come.
The next adventure begins. After spending a few days in California and seven weeks in Grand Forks, ND, I flew to Norfolk, Virginia to my sister’s house yesterday. The kids will be staying here for eleven days with my sister and her family. Tomorrow I fly to Copenhagen via New York (JFK) to meet Tom who arrives there one day before me from Australia.
We will spend a day in Copenhagen then go on to The Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland (a ferry down the western coast) and two days exploring, back to Iceland, and finally back to Virginia. After all of this we will make our way down to Charlotte and back across to California where we will fly home. Whew.
I hope to keep things current on here as much as we have Internet access.
Here we go…
Our 13+ hour flight from Sydney to San Francisco was delayed due to a windshield wiper problem on our United Airlines 747-400. Once we got going it was a pretty good flight. The kids were well behaved. Alex was a bit of work, but what can you expect from a nearly two year old? No behavioral issues from either kid. Alex had a long nap on takeoff, maybe 2+ hours, then slept nearly seven hours only waking a little bit before landing. Sofia drew and colored then watched movies and fell asleep around her usual bedtime and slept all night as well. Unfortunately I only slept about two hours, but I did read The Hunger Games and watch some of Young Adult (it was so bad I had to switch it off). Tom fared better sleeping than I did.
We landed in San Francisco, went through all of the immigration and customs mayhem, picked up our suitcase and car seats for rechecking, back through security, quick stop to get kids some breakfast, and on to our next flight to Santa Ana/Orange County. Uneventful, short flight.
Landed to find our car seats and no luggage. Beautiful. At least we knew that it would be coming on the 5:30 flight and they would deliver to our hotel. And the car seats were pretty important. Our bag arrived around 10 last night. Sofia, Alex and I were already sound asleep.
We have all day Thursday to explore and Friday morning we fly from Los Angeles to Denver to Fargo. Tom turns around and flies back to Sydney on Monday from Winnipeg.
After hours and hours of deliberations Tom has finally booked our tickets back to the US this summer (winter). And because Tom loves flying so much he will make the trip twice. So I don’t have to fly alone with the two munchkins, he will fly with us to ND and fly home from Winnipeg. He will return to the US in August on an award ticket and meet us in Virginia. The kids will be staying with my sister and her family there while Tom and I pop over to Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland for a week and half.
This is the last year we have of free time when it comes to travelling. Sofia will start kindergarten, yes kindergarten, in January so we will be constrained to school holidays. I thought I would take advantage of this last summer (winter) we have before this happens. We live so far away from family that I want the kids to be able to spend some time with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. It also gives me a little bit of a break.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to visit the South Pacific, no one place, anywhere would do. Visions of islands, palm trees, coral reefs, sandy beaches and the good life all settled in my head. We have been in Australia two years now and have done very little travel (boo hoo!). Last year at this time we did a big road trip down to Melbourne and then across on the ferry to Tasmania. No complaints there, it was fab. Tom and I have been discussing the South Pacific since we got here. Fiji. Vanuatu. Tahiti. Bora Bora. Where should we go? Tom loves his travel planning and is really good at it. He managed to find us a trip using some of our thousands of airline miles we have saved up. We ended up booking further afield than the short flight to Fiji or Vanuatu.
In nine days we depart for the Cook Islands, Rarotonga to be exact. We depart Sydney on Saturday night and arrive Saturday morning due to the International Date Line. Of course we land at some silly hour like 5am. If that isn’t torture enough we will be popping over to a hotel for some breakfast and rest before heading back to the tiny airport and flying to Aitutaki about an hour from Rarotonga. Aitutaki is one of those Honeymoon destinations, one of the most beautiful in all of the South Pacific. It is tiny, just under 7 square miles. After a three day visit to Aitutaki it is back to Rarotonga for a couple of nights of fun before we continue on.
Next on the itinerary is Tahiti, French Polynesia. We are staying at some airport hotel in Papeete for one night before hopping on the ferry to another island, Mo’orea. Mo’orea is a bit bigger with 51 square miles. We have five nights on Mo’orea and I hope we can find five days of things to do on this small island! Back on the ferry and a day an a half to explore Tahiti before a midnight departure (sounds fun with two kids, right?)
From Tahiti we will fly to Christchurch, New Zealand with a quick connection in Auckland. Here we lose the day that we gained on our way over. Friday night will not exist! Tom and I visited New Zealand in 2006 when we lived in England so we have seen a large chunk of the South Island. With two tired, weary kids in tow we decided to keep this portion of the trip light. We will spend two nights in Hanmer Springs which is only a short drive from Christchurch. We will also visit Kaikoura before heading back towards Christchurch. Since the earthquakes in Chch last year we decided not to stay in the city, but to have a quick visit on our way though to the Banks Peninsula, specifically Akaroa.
It is going to be a crazy 18 days of travelling, but much appreciated. I have itchy feet and I miss all of the travel we did when we lived in England. I have been waiting months for this holiday. Let the countdown begin!!
And when we return I will need a holiday from my holiday.