Australia/Fiji/New Zealand-January 2019

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Having been born and raised in the Chicagoland area, you would think I would consider that home. Nope. Brisbane is where my heart is. And apparently for good reason! It’s funny how my “family” can still surprise me. Jenny and John, my Australia parents, surprised me at the airport. Any frequent traveler will tell you it’s always a lovely surprise when you get airport meet and greet. The surprises continued when I arrived at the Hilton. It does freak me out just a bit, seeing my photo on the big screen. Ben, of course nailed it by having my favorite mocha from Noosa Chocolate Factory. And then arriving in my room to find this smorgasbard. Really makes me wonder why I left!

My dear friend Beau was getting married in Auckland, so I took advantage of escaping the brutal Chicago winter and booked in so need time in Brisbane. Days always seem to go by way to fast while in Brisbane. So Jenny and I headed out to Byron Bay with Adam from Koala Transfers for the day, to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.

Katherine and Evander flew up from Sydney to hang out and get out cake and chicken fix! Trust me, it’s the best way to spend an afternoon!

After a great few days in Brisbane, I headed to Fiji for some relaxation. My flight was delayed, so I set up shop in the lounge and attempted to get some work done. Imagine my shock, when I look up and see my dear friend Anthony from Melbourne! Turns out we both heading to Fiji! Lucky for me, I was headed to Marriott Momi Bay! What an amazing place. I know I sound like a travel ad, but there was honestly something so relaxing about this resort. The lagoon was full of fish, you could walk in and they were at your feet. It was soo peaceful. I rarely saw anyone walking out near my bure. I’ll be heading back for sure!

Next stop was Auckland for Beau and Anton’s wedding. SO beautiful to witness them exchange their vows while embracing their heritage.

I unfortunately confirmed on this trip, that I allergic to something in the air in Auckland. It only took like 10 trips to realise this. It won’t stop me from continuing to visit, but at least next time I’ll maybe will be better prepared.

I headed back to Brisbane to enjoy the sunnies days before returning to the Polar Vortex that was Chicago. I was almost a little sad to head back to Chicago, but then I remembered I was heading back in 3 weeks, so stay tuned!

Queenstown, New Zealand- May 2018

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Well this is an easy one to write. I flew to Queenstown, had a burger and meat pie and flew back.  Oh and I took some pictures.

 

I had planned on going to Milford Sound, but the weather was not cooperating.   I checked out the famous Fergburger, proclaimed to be the best burgers in the world.

Fergburger is good,  but it’s not the best in my book. But I am from Chicago, so I am bit biased. For the sake of this review, I took one for the team and order 2 burgers. And well  if I am honest, I was hungry and could not decide what to order. Per the cashier’s suggestion, I ordered the Deluxe and the Wiggum. 1st impression, I much prefer New Zealand meat to Australian. 2nd- Big burgers. 3rd- Why did I think it was good idea to order 2?  I did not actually consume the entirety of both burgers. I managed about 1/4 of each.

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The next morning, I was suppose to fly down to Milford Sound. The weather was not cooperating, so I took a stroll back down to Fergburger for breakfast. Now meat pies are all the rage in Australia and New Zealand, but I just never felt the love of them. Until I had the Lamb Shoulder and Kumara Pie from Fergbaker. First all, what is Kumara? New Zealand’s version of the sweet potato, in case you were wondering.  It was ridiculously good.  Like I would fly back to eat one. And the worst part? I was not overly hungry after the previous night’s debacle, so I ended up only ordering one!!!!! Rookie mistake.

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Since I was no longer hungry, I headed to the airport to get out of dodge. It never dawned on me that because the little planes could not fly, that the big ones might be having trouble as well.  The plane I was departing on had some trouble landing…..

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It eventually landed and I was off to Auckland, where I was lucky enough to catch up with a friend. And I finally got see Black Panther on the flight from Auckland to Brisbane. Which of course was SO good.  So while it certainly did not go as planned, it turned out pretty well in the end.

Until next time…..

Auckland,New Zealand-October 2017

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Have you heard of Teeks? If not, stop reading and click on one of these links, Itunes, Spotify, Youtube. You are welcome.

You would think after Sam Smith and Adele concerts being cancelled, that I would learn not fly to another country to see a concert. Lucky for me, Teeks showed up and gave an amazing performance.

I had been telling my friend Madison about the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney. How it’s worthy of spending a few hours in it. Couple this with @thisteeks having a show in Auckland, it seem like a no brainer.  I however did not factor in daylight savings…. I ended up on 5:00 am flight out of Brisbane, to maximize my lounge time in Sydney.  It was pretty, but way too early, even for me.

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We managed to taste all the champagne offerings, have the requisite corn fritters, get facials and still had time/room for some chocolate cake.

We had a pretty fun flight to Auckland. Although I made mistake drinking the sparkling wine that was offered in economy. Nothing good after came after that sentence. I got a horrible migraine. I am a bit convinced I am allergic to something in the air in Auckland. I had horrible migraine on my previous trip too.  We shall see what happens on my next trip.
On Saturday, we went to Waiheke to do some wine tastings.  The rain stayed at bay, but the day was a bit gloomy. Luckily you don’t need sun to enjoy some wine.

On Sunday, we made the fateful decision to go shopping.  For the most part Australian designers are cut on the smaller size. You would think New Zealand would be similar.  Nope. In fact, the New Zealand designers are just cut better for everyone.  And poor Madison learned the hard way, she should have just brought a bigger bag.  We started over on Ponsonby.  Spring has sprung!

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We ended the day with our new friend Beau, enjoying wine and randomly some fireworks.

And then it was ugly o’clock and I was heading back to the airport for a 6:00 am flight back to Brisbane. WHEN will I learn to stop booking early flights????  It was sooo worth it to hear Teeks live.  Next trip to New Zealand, will NOT be to Auckland. I must get to Queenstown.

Until next time… Safe Travels!

 

Auckland, New Zealand- August 2017

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When I was traveling back from Tahiti, I had an overnight in Auckland, New Zealand. Over the past year, I’ve flown thru there several times, but never actually left the airport.  So on whim, I looked into going to Auckland for a quick trip, I was able to use miles for a free ticket and points for the hotel, so it was easy choice to make.

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I first visited Auckland in 1999, and it has changed quite a bit. I do remember for years saying it was favorite city in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying Australia, but I have a love like no other for New Zealand.  And what’s worse about that comment, I’ve not left Auckland! I am looking forward to exploring the rest of this beautiful country.

On my previous trip to Melbourne, I had purchased a dress by a New Zealand Designer, Maaike.  A google search lead me to Ponsonby.  For someone who “claims” to hate shopping, I really enjoyed Ponsonby . And well, as of late I’ve been a bit more daring in my clothing choices, so shopping off the beaten path is fun.  My wondering took me into Miss Crabb,  where I such fun trying some of their clothing.  My right ankle, however, was not having fun. It decided that it was going to swell to epic portions.  So that night it was room service and cuddle with some voltaren and ice.

The next day, I headed over to a  French Festival at Queens Wharf. And then I checked out the Britomart area and found  a fun store, World.  The decor is a traveler’s dream. The shop was a treasure trove of goodies. I waandered around a bit, then met Beau. Boy did he have some fun with me. Sold me a dress, that “you can wear to 7-11”. Sure sure because I wear black sequins to grocery store.

I headed over to Waiheke island to tour some wineries.  It was luckily a quite and smooth ferry ride. I had arranged a tour, but one could easily manage without one.  I highly recommend taking a day or two out to visit Waiheke if you find yourself in the Auckland area.

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This was seriously a quick hop over to Auckland. I basically saw like 1 block.  I will be going back to New Zealand because there is just so more to discover. I just wish I had endless time.

You know from reading this, that I traveled with the smallest bag ever. When am I going to learn? I would probably save a lot of money, if I just traveled with the biggest suitcase I own.

Until next time, safe travels