Friday, 23 March 2012

A Winter Whistler Wonderland

After what can only be described as the journey from hell, Chris and I finally made it to Whistler last weekend, via Singapore, Hong Kong, LA and Vancouver...don't ask...somehow the aviation industry is so entirely messed up that it makes more financial sense to go Auckland - Vancouver via most of Asia and America (with a two week break in Bali, of course) rather than to fly direct. Mental!

We have spent our first week here finding our ski legs in the famous Whistler powder, revelling in the joy of having our own little apartment to chillax in and gawping at the 75+cm of snow which has fallen since we got here. It is an absolutely stunning resort with a great vibe and our time here got off to a flying start when we bumped into a group of Old Somervillians in the first bar we walked into. It was lovely to see some faces from home and have a bit of company to introduce us to the apres scene.

We start our ski instructor course next Monday which we're both extremely excited about but also slightly nervous at what lies in store. More updates on this next Friday  - you might even get some videos if you're lucky :)

For now though, I will leave you with a taste of the beautiful Whistler scenery.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Cafe Culture - Great Coffee, Great Cakes

I ain't nothin' but a hound log...
Forget the scenery, the activities, the is NZ's cafes that really steal the show! The Kiwi's have more cafes per head of the population than sheep*, or brands of pet food. They are mad for them. And so they should be. Their cafe culture is the most sophisticated and darn brilliant that I have ever come across. Think the most delicious cakes you have ever seen, the most inventive sandwiches with the freshest ingredients, healthy and not so healthy salads, breakfast food, pastas, gourmet burgers, seafood....and most of them are licensed too so they double up as cutesy, low key places to spend an evening. In a country where the cheapest way to eat is to stuff your face with burgers, fish and chips and pies, cafes are also reasonable  places to get a decent meal.

Perhaps the best bit about them is that they are all unique too, barely a Starbucks in sight. This is true of a lot of businesses in New Zealand, which are, in the majority, privately owned. Local chains are few and far between, leaving the franchise models to McDonald's and KFC and keeping the local joints fresh and individual.

* This might not be 100% accurate but it sure feels like it...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Truman Show meets The Matrix

We have all heard how stunning New Zealand is, and this is very true. So beautiful in fact that Chris and I have been forced to ponder the authenticity of the entire country! Our first impressions are that everywhere you go everything is, well, perfect. There is no other word for it. The scenery almost looks painted on to the background, or like plastic models that you might find on a film set; on top of this, everything is SO easy to organise and they have the world's most wonderful wine and food. The towns are the same - miniature little toy towns with white picket fences and wide streets. If any of you have seen The Truman Show...well New Zealand is it.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A Very New and Different Land

A sad scene in Christchurch
Silence, silence and more silence....despite the jet lag and the 24hr+ journey from India to Christchurch, Chris and I could hardly sleep when we arrived at our hostel...because it was sooooooooo quiet. Our pick up at the airport drove through the most deserted streets we'd seen since the steppes of Mongolia and dropped us at our hostel which was dead to the world. We crept in, found our room and marvelled at the sound of...nothing. Having slept for the past three and a half weeks on Palolem beach front with the waves crashing, the crows cawing, the dogs barking and the bar music blaring (not to mention those Scouser lads swearing!...) it was surreal, and slightly unnerving. Particularly since we'd been told not to worry and that we'd "get used to the tremors after the first couple". As became all too obvious the following day, Christchurch is tragically nowhere near over their earthquake ordeal and is still subject to aggressive aftershocks. It is terribly sad to see what was once a thriving city become so desolate and deserted and it was a sobering and strange introduction to the country.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Festive Fun with Friends

Christmas is a time for treats and even though Chris and I were on the other side of the world and after a more low key affair than usual, we were determined that this year be no different. After several weeks of non-stop travelling around India we were looking forward to having friends come out to celebrate the festive season with us, and to a self-declared 'holiday' from our day to day travelling adventures (I know, it's a hard life, but someone has to do it!). Our plan was to meet Charlie and Phil in Rajasthan for some palacial luxury before heading to Goa on Xmas eve to beach it up. Things didn't quite go to plan with Charlie and Phil who sadly missed out on the Northern part of the trip (who knew you needed a visa!?!) , but the Neemrana Fort Palace certainly lived up to expectations!