Tag Archives: flying

Education from Traveling as an American

In the Unites States, it feels like we are the center of the world. There is no second language and everyone knows or should know (in American opinion) English. We know we are a powerful country and certain unconscious thoughts feed into your mind because of that. And these thoughts will bleed out when traveling internationally, too, and sometimes it’s not pretty for either party. I’ve been traveling since I was a baby (a mother from New Zealand will do that), but I never started to realize my own American spoiled nature until recent travel experiences. Even though I consider myself an open-minded and culturally-sensitive person, some American travel habits can be just plain dumb. You can learn a lot from traveling as an American–about yourself, your habits, and other cultures. 

Chris'  favorite burger place in NZ

Chris’ favorite burger place in NZ

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Air New Zealand Review

Wonderful, as far as I’m concerned. There are several factors to this. In my adult life, I’ve used Air New Zealand twice to New Zealand, and both times it has been fantastic. 12-hour flights aren’t easy, but Air New Zealand definitely makes it easier. I’m surprised at the fortitude and endurance the flight attendants have for the whole entirety of the flight. Let’s go over the reasons why Air New Zealand rocks.

View from inside the airplane just getting into New Zealand

View from inside the airplane just getting into New Zealand

1. 75 movie choices. Yes, seventy-five. Usually you have to pay for even one movie, but here you get 75! They range from Despicable Me 2 to Whale Rider to 2 Guns. My goal is to usually watch one or two movies before attempting a sleep and then finishing with one when I wake up. Chris unfortunately watches like four our five and doesn’t get sleep. Go team.

2. Meals of decent to good quality. I know this doesn’t exactly sound like a compliment, but it is! Usually airplane food is blargh! But Air New Zealand does it well. I never had a stomach ache and everything tasted good, especially breakfast! Oh and both are free.

3. An epic safety video. I mean epic. It was completely Lord of the Rings/Hobbit-ed out! Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits galore! Even Peter Jackson made an appearance! It was such a good surprise. We were laughing the whole time. One of the few times I actually pay attention to airplane safety features. Last time I rode Air New Zealand it was Richard Simmons, which was of course hilarious.

4. No baggage fees. Yep. I couldn’t believe this one either. We did have to pay them going from America, but not back! It was so nice! Especially refreshing after Frontier now charges for carry-on items! Can you say rip-off!

5. Wonderful attendants. How would you feel serving a bunch of annoying Americans for 12 hours stuck in a small space high up in the sky? I would definitely not be cheery and helpful as all the Kiwi attendants were. They show that they care about the service you’re getting and want to help you best they can. Like the Kiwi people, they are friendly, laid back, and good-humored.

6. Wellington AirportI know this doesn’t necessarily count, but still. Check out the post. It’s awesome.

7. Free New Zealand wine. I can’t tell you how upset I was when I realized the wine was free and I didn’t take it! I couldn’t help but laugh when they were carrying the leftover bottles in the morning, saying “Wine, anyone?” Plus, New Zealand wine is among the best I’ve had. Before I didn’t like white wine, now I do! Yeah if this isn’t a perk of an airline, I don’t know what is.

DCIM100GOPRO

Those are just a few reasons why Air New Zealand knocks it out of the park. And yet another reason to visit New Zealand. If you’re going to fly to New Zealand, choose your Kiwi airline and you won’t regret it. It’s the best way to spend those 12 hours locked in an aircraft. And as always…stay hungry and fit!

The Coolest Airport in the Southern Hemisphere

Wellington, New Zealand, of course! No really, it is absolutely awesome. And that’s mostly because of Weta Workshop (which you will see in a later post), which created most of the props, weaponry and armor, and lots of the digital effects in Lord of the RingsAvatar, the Hobbit and more. They are truly amazing. More on them later. Tolkien fans will love this airport. I think the shock factor is a big part of this airport’s coolness. You just don’t expect what you’re going to walk into. And my family did a great job not saying anything (shocker there).

So when you get past checking and get into the terminal, you are first blasted with three huge eagles with Gandalf atop one of them hanging from the ceiling. I was totally amazed. I mean these are huge props, huge. We estimate 20 feet in each direction. Yeah it was literally awesome. Side note: recent earthquake in New Zealand (as in 2 nights ago) actually knocked one of the giant eagles to the ground! Nobody was hurt but…woah.

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And then you walk by more shops and restaurants, and then…boom. Gollum comes reaching in from the ceiling. And I don’t mean Andy Serkis-sized Gollum. I mean freaking huge–42-feet kind of huge! It’s Gollum’s head and arms reaching in for a fish, with bubbles about too! It’s really hard to describe how amazing it is. You have to see it in person to really feel the impact. Especially for Tolkien fans.

HE'S GONNA EAT ME

HE’S GONNA EAT ME

The rest of the airport is definitely unique too. All the shops are Kiwi-focused from Haka shirts to Kiwi poo to Merino wool everywhere! If you leave your shopping to the last minute, this is a perfect spot for you! Food options are also excellent, better than the average as far as airports go. Keep an eye out for awesome statues like dwarves and sheep. In addition, as far as security goes, it’s a breeze. Don’t even have to take your shoes off! Take that, America! Just kidding…kind of. Anyhow, if you’re looking for yet another reason to head to New Zealand, do not miss out on the Wellington Airport. 

One of a few there...

One of a few there…

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  • Question of the Day: What is your favorite airport?

BONUS KITTY PIC

Nymeria kneading...always

Nymeria kneading…always

We’re Baaaack (Sorry!)

We have just arrived back from a nice 5-day vacation on the magical East Coast! We went out to visit Chris’ family (he’s from New Jersey/New York) and also see some friends. We had planned to prepare posts for each day ahead of time…but obviously that didn’t work. We have a little pathetic excuse, that there was no wifi we were able to get onto in the house…but still, sorry! I hope this post of deliciousness and friends will help you forgive us. It will be picture-heavy and text-light.

It was an early start to the Wednesday of us flying out–6:30am flight called for a 3:15am wake-up. We drove the car over to the airport and had a nice smooth ride, stopping briefly in Minneapolis before arriving at Newark. Since everyone who could pick us up were working, we decided to take it slow and just take public transportation back to Chris’ town, Midland Park, New Jersey. We got to the train station, his mum picked us up and we had an early first dinner of some good Chinese food. Two hours and a chiropractic appointment later, we had another dinner with his brother at a great thin-crust pizza. We finished that night off with some great Van Dyk’s ice cream and played video games all night with a good friend, Po.

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Po & Chris, ice cream buds

On Thursday, we wake up bright and early (not getting much more than 5 hours sleep…who sleeps on vacation, right?) and pack in the car with Chris’ mum to visit Chris’ sister in Pennsylvania, right outside of Philadelphia. And grabbed delicious bagel sandwiches on the way! It was a great day of relaxation, visiting Chris’ niece, adorable puppy, spending quality family time, and watching movies like Hotel Transylvania and Puss in Boots. We didn’t get home until around midnight and collapsed right to sleep.

Chris and his niece on a walk

Chris and his niece on a walk

Puppppyyyyyy

Puppppyyyyyy

On Friday, it was another early-wake-up day for us because we were visiting the city–New York! We had a great day seeing lots of friends from college. We found our way to my friend Mary Kate via bus and had a great breakfast with her before she headed into her super awesome 60 Minutes work. Then we took the good old 1 train uptown to the college where we met, Manhattan College. We got to meet up with some friends who still are attending, some who drove in for the day just to see us, and our old bosses. Chris got to fit in a leg workout while I hung out with my old JustPeace (a social justice club I led) club while they held an event. I got to see Kathleen and Hilary here.

Times Square, crazy to be back

Times Square, crazy to be back

Yum

Yum

hi!

hi!

Roomates 4 lyfe

Roomates 4 lyfe

My boss (Lois), Kathleen, and I

My boss (Lois), Kathleen, and I

Quad livin'

Quad livin’

Sweaty buds

Sweaty buds

After that (still Friday), we grabbed Kathleen and kidnapped her back downtown where we forced her to see The Grandmaster (review coming soon), which was pretty epic at one of our favorite indie theatres at Lincoln Center. We walked around Central Park for a bit before walking down to the famous Halal Cart which came from humble beginnings but is now 3 carts deep. We chowed down on some platters and then met up with Allan to go to the Yankee game. It was a lot of fun and we got great seats! Pretty good game too–2 of Chris’ favorite players hit homers. We then got a ride back to New Jersey, had some ice cream, then went to sleep.

Central Park walk

Central Park walk

Chowing on Halal--thanks for the pic, Kathleen

Chowing on Halal–thanks for the pic, Kathleen

DROOL.

DROOL.

Yankee game

Yankee game

On Saturday, we actually slept in! All the way until 9am! I know–crazy. While we waited for our friend, Allan, to wake up, we went and visited Abma’s Farm for some baked goods and sheep humor. After that, and he still wasn’t up, we went to the local Wildlife Conservatory which has beautiful paths and only animals that need rehabilitation. We finally met Allan, Jane Kim (a friend of Chris’) and her boyfriend at a new place in town for “brunch” (…at 12:30pm). Although we were wary about prices and reviews, it turned out to be delicious and a great time! We walked around town afterwards, got some boba, and hung out at the Ridgewood Park. We then grabbed a Tony’s Pizza to eat the next day (because they would be closed on Sunday). Later that night, Chris’ whole family went out to hibachi and it was delicious! Then after, we of course got more ice cream and went to sleep.

This sheep had the deepest voice ever...creepy

This sheep had the deepest voice ever…creepy

Beautiful nature walk

Beautiful nature walk

 

My delicious breakfast burrito at brunch

My delicious breakfast burrito at brunch

Friends

Friends

Best pizza I've ever had

Best pizza I’ve ever had

Hibachi!

Hibachi!

We have another late morning wake-up on Sunday, this time around 8:30. I decide to go for a easy-paced run in the morning while we get started on the day. We basically spent the entire day visiting Chris’ many aunts and uncles–it was really nice to meet all of them as I hadn’t met many before. That night we met up with Pablo and Brit (Chris’ close friends) and we drove 15 miles to go to East, a restaurant with sushi on a conveyor belt. Delicious! We then watched Here Comes the Boom (surprisingly awesome movie) and, of course, got some more ice cream.

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

Now it’s Monday, and we’re wondering how this vacation is already over! However…our flight wasn’t until 7pm so we had a good amount of time to spend with friends before we took off. We had a nice breakfast with Pablo and Brit that morning while we waited for Allan and Po to roll out of bed. I got way too much food…brie-stuffed french toast, eggs, home fries, and toast! We then meet up with everyone else and to everyone’s disappointment, Chris coerces us to go see the Percy Jackson movie. Okay maybe not coerced, but reactions were definitely amusing. After that movie, we all piled into cars and rushed to Mitsuwa (which will be getting its own post), which is a magical place that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into Japan. Once we gobble down some delicious foodAllan is nice enough to take us down to JFK in Labor Day traffic. We owe him a big one.

Brie-stuffed french toast. yup.

Brie-stuffed french toast. yup.

And that was our trip! We had a pleasant flight and watched Great Gatsby (review coming soon) to make the 4.5 hours go by quickly. We are still catching up on sleep, and apologize again for the lack of posts, but here we come on full throttle! I’m probably forgetting a lot in this post, but I did what I could from memory! Make sure you travel to stay hungry and fit!

Thunder storm below us

Thunder storm below us

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BONUS KITTY PIC

Kathleen and I ^.^

Kathleen and I ^.^