Mar 12, 2015

Ella in NZ

I want to share some moments from our 10 great days here in South Island. I finished working at vineyards in Blenheim the day before my aunt Ella arrived in Christchurch. So I drove down south to Christchurch early in the morning and picked up a very jet-lagged, tired traveler. We went for a morning walk to Christchurch Botanic Gardens and then to a friend's house to take a wee nap. I somehow managed to drop my phone in the toilet the very same day, after a few days drying it worked again, miracle!

We spent our first night in Hanmer Springs. It's a beautiful small town two hours north of Christchurch and known for Thermal Pools. I booked a night in a lovely hostel, Jack in the Green. I can honestly recommend that backpackers to anyone, it's so beautiful and peaceful. Very good facilities and friendly staff. We both were tired so we had a really good sleep there. In the morning we visited the Thermal Pools before starting the drive back to Blenheim.

Almost survived from Jetlag!
It wasn't my plan at all to go back to Blenheim. When I asked what Ella wants to do, she answered she definitely wants to see the place I lived the most of the time here. So we drove to Blenheim, ate in a really good Indian restaurant (I can recommend Maharaja India) and met up with my friends for beer and pool.

Next day we went for a wine tour, as I promised for my aunt. We visited Makana Chocolate Factory, Saint Clair, Brancott Estate (they remember me there already), Hunter's and Dryland's. At the end of the day we took a beer tasting at Moa Brewery. We also visited my workmates Tomas, Seongyoung, Elisa, Yuka and Jack at the PH hostel.

Wineries, vineyards..!
On Tuesday we drove north to Nelson, ate some breakfast there and continued to Kaiteriteri beach. I booked an Abel Tasman cruise for us. It was beautiful there. We had a chance to take a walk back to the beach but we just decided to enjoy the views from the boat. We were supposed to start driving along the West Coast on the very same day but the weather was so good and the beach so great that I booked two dorm beds in the lodge and we stayed an extra night. Ella enjoyed the sun the rest of the day and in the evening we decided to get some dinner. The receptionist of the lodge suggested us to drive to the next village near by, Marahau, and get burgers from Fat Tui. It was so good. Delicious. Taivaallista. On the way back we almost got lost, but we had so much fun with the speed limit signs that it didn't matter.


Split Apple in Abel Tasman National Park

We reserved the next day for sun. Ella wanted to get a tan and I can tell, we sure got some color! My legs got so sunburnt! It was really too painful to sit and of course we decided to travel to Queenstown the next day! So on Thursday I drove ten hours to Queenstown with my burnt legs... I can tell I was swearing so much every time I got out from the car or moved my legs. We picked up some hitchhikers from Kaikoura and took them to Lake Tekapo. After dropping them off we found more guys who were hitchhiking from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown. We arrived in Queenstown at 8pm and checked in to Base Backpackers. We had a really nice room with one Finnish guy (first Finnish backpacker I've met in NZ! Pretty good after 4.5 months travelling...) and three girls from California. We went to bed quite early, after a few beers downstairs.

Ella, hitchhiker Aurél and me
Friday was exciting! We were supposed to take the gondola up to the hill and just do some souvenir shopping but somehow we got an idea to do a bungy jump! I didn't have enough money to do it so we booked a jump for Ella and the swing for both of us for the same day. I got so nervous! But it was great! Even though I didn't jump, the atmosphere was so awesome! After Ella's jump we did the swing. I would love to describe that all here but it's just impossible by words. Check out a video of the swing. It was incredible.

So excited!


Swing bridge
Ella ready for her bungy!
After great bungy jumping day we had a great night out in Queenstown. On the last day Ella did some souvenir shopping. We picked up the hitchhikers from two days before and started to drive towards Dunedin. We got to Cromwell when Molly (my car) broke down. After a few hours sorting stuff out we got a room in a hostel and bus tickets for the next day. Molly stayed in Cromwell. 

When your car breaks down in Finland, you are screwed. Everything costs so much, not many people stop and help you. You are worrying and stressing about everything. What is going to happen to my car? How much is Laakkonen gonna charge you this time? How about towing? How do you get to work from the middle of nowhere?
When it happens in New Zealand, don't worry. It's all sorted. Of course if you have some money and time. Everyone stopped and helped us. Even a girl with a broken leg helped us to push the car on to the verge. Everyone was so nice. One guy gave us a ride to the closest petrol station where we called help from. Steven, the mechanic who came to help us was the nicest guy in the world. He was so calm and explained everything and even me, who doesn't know anything about cars understood what was happening. Thank you CR Motors in Cromwell, you made my Molly's break-down a pleasant experience.

Our last stop was Dunedin before my aunt flew back to Finland. I visited Dunedin a month before with May and I really liked the city. We spent the last day having dinner with my friend Brandon and his friends. Next day it was time to say our goodbyes; I stayed in Dunedin and Ella went to Christchurch by bus. After Ella left, I was a bit sad of course. But it was hard to stay sad because I have such good memories in my mind of the last ten days. And the beautiful city of Dunedin was smiling to me, so I smiled back and I've kept smiling ever since.
<3

Thank you Ella for an amazing visit here! I had such a good time with you and it was so lovely to see someone from home after a long, long time!

"If you're tired of starting over,
stop giving up."

xo,

Liisa

Mar 8, 2015

5 months and 5 days!

I was going to write this post in Finnish but finding letters ä and ö started to be too hard that I figured it out it's easier to write this in English. Anyway, I'm sorry I haven't been writing much, it's been happening so much! For the first I can say, few pieces of that what was lost, have been found. Thank you for all who were with me searching for them. I can say that here in Dunedin, today on International Women's day, now at 7.39 pm local New Zealand time I feel like I am more whole person than ever. These five months and 5 days in this wonderful country have been teaching so many things to me - mostly about myself.

This time have been teaching me so much. I have laughed, cried and felt homesickness. I have found new places and explored, made new friends, new really good friends (like we call it in Finland by word ''ystävä''). I have fallen in love, loved, hated, broken my heart and survived after. I have been sick, got ditched, lost my wisdom tooth and visited doctor's after hours many times. I have worked in vineyards and in hostels, got so many good friends from work and have had so many good moments there. I have learnt some Indonesian, numbers in German, learnt what is the sound of Korean dog, learnt some Japanese and HEAPS of English!

I have been in world biggest swing, hitchhiked, got stuck in the tree and got in many, many troubles. I have spent so many great days with my dear friends, who I will call by name 'ystävä' after many years. I had a great adventure with my dearest friend May, I just can't describe how important she have become to me. I have spent 10 awesome days with my dear godmother and aunt Ella who flew here just to have an adventure with me. I have learnt so many things from other people who have loved me just the way I am. They have seen that Liisa who doesn't have anything which I would have in Finland. Liisa, who is outside of her comfort area, all the property packed in one backpack and without plans!

I can say it haven't been the easiest trip. I have been deep down so many times, without any direction to go and I have been so high in the clouds, loving everything and having the best time in my life. I have learnt how to tell people who I am, where I come from and where I am going next. I have learnt how to be friendly, polite and social. I have learnt my limits, loyalty and honesty. I have also figured out that life brings so many opportunities in front of you. You just need to grab the right one. It also brings you so many lessons and exams which you repeat and repeat until you've learnt. I also know now that you never know.

Everything here in this great, crazy and funny country have been a really big lesson for me. I appreciate this so much. Thank you everyone who have made this adventure to come true, who I have met here and who have taught me so much about everything. Thank you all my dears at home. Thank you for being there for me. I warn you people, this girl might be different than in last year!

This maybe sounds like I would be leaving the country soon.. Don't worry! I'm not going anywhere. I just figured out that this is about halfway of my trip and just wanted to share few pieces I have found here.

I will write soon about adventures with May and Ella!

Sincerely yours,

most happiest

Liisa