Back to adventuring: Mission Bay, NZ

Monday, October 26th was Labour Dar here in New Zealand.

Since we had a day off, we decided to venture out and learn how to use the Auckland metro system and AT HOP card. This pre-paid card enables us to use the cities buses, trains, and ferries for a 20% discount. We caught the bus to the beautiful little seaside suburb of Mission Bay, New Zealand. Immediately upon exiting the bus we noted that there was a craft and food market happening.

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The moment we walked into the market, we ran into the “Pukeko Bakery” which is known for making handmade artisan breads. You guys know that anything that has to do with food has Chad’s attention immediately. We sampled (and bought) beat-root ciabatta bread with pumpkin seeds, and capsicum ciabatta. From there on, we moved onto a the booth next door which was also selling baked goods. We bought a hazelnut tart from them! Can you tell I was excited about that one?

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Wish we had more pictures of the incredible art work and crafts, but most artists asked not to be photographed. You’ll just have to take our word for it and trust that each stand was unique and enticing. There were local artists displaying their paintings, photography, woodwork, cuisine, and clothing. This was by far the best way to spend our Labour Day!

After we explored everything the market had to offer, we made our way to the short board walk and beach area.

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Every time we get near the water I am truly astonished with how greenish blue and clear the water is. Here we spent a little bit of time sitting on a bench and watching other patrons walk by with their friends, family, puppies, or children. Every single person we saw that day had a smile on their face. How could you not when you have great food, pleasant company, and phenomenal weather.

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After we spent a little more time just wandering around town, we head back towards the city center.

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Putting a few Pinterest ideas into action

The past couple of day’s we’ve been relaxing and playing it low key because I pulled a muscle in my back. After a little bit of daily yoga and some hot tub action, my back should be good as new in a few days. In the meantime, we got a chance to practice our cooking skills and put Pinterest to work!  Here’s a few of our daily meals:

For breakfast we had spinach and egg bake over fresh ciabatta bread, with a side of fruit salad:

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For lunch we had avocado and tomato quesadillas on whole grain wraps:

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For dinner we used my cousin Kinga’s recipe for “Turkey Burgers.” Her’s are always AMAZING! The only problem was that no one at the grocery story knew what “turkey meat” was. So we went with plan B: ground beef. We made hamburgers with sheep feta, whole grain bread crumbs, onions and spices mixed in. On the side we made sweet potato fries and salad. I had mine over a bed of lettuce and Chad had his on ciabatta bread.

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My new hobby in NZ, aside from trying all of the wines, is to try every cafe’s cappuccinos and chai latte’s! Each one that I have had so far had been marvelous.

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After I walked Chad to work this morning, I stopped by a little waterfront cafe for a Chai Tea Latte.

Na Zdrowie!

Sixteen miles within two days

Friday:

Yesterday we woke up early, had some oatmeal, and went for a couple mile run. Yesterday was sunny and it almost felt warm outside when the sun hit your skin. After our run, we hurried home to bake some fresh cookies for our lunch date with Chad’s new employer. We made white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. I forgot to take a picture since I had to hurry and hide them from Chad before he ate them all! I couldn’t find brown sugar at the store, so I substituted the brown sugar for organic coconut sugar which is also slightly brown in color. I was really interested to see how the substitution would affect the flavor of the cookies. They were a little less sweet, but equally as tasty. For all of you that don’t know this about me, I love to bake!

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(This is us before we went for our lunch date!)

For lunch we had some delicious local Thai food! After that experience, we are super excited to try all the other Chinese, Korean, and Thai food that New Zealand has to offer. After lunch we head back to our apartment to do a little relaxing since we were planning on going out that night. Unfortunately our Comcast application doesn’t work outside of the states, but good old Netflix was there for us with a small variety of movies. Madagascar 2 was our pick.

That evening we had dinner at the apartment. We made chicken breast marinaded in olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, and red wine vinegar. This was topped with sautéed spinach with a tiny bit of butter and garlic. For a side we had Kumara (purple sweet potato). For some reason, ours wasn’t very purple on the inside. I will have to pick up some more at the grocery store and hope I get a dark purple one.

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After dinner we got ready and went out to the bars! Ponsonby is a popular area to listen to some live music and grab some drinks. It was about a twenty minute walk from us, about 1.7 kilometers. Unfortunately, it was primarily up-hill! By the time we got to the bars, we were thirsty for not only a beer but also some water! After a few drinks at a neat little dive bar, and some great musical vibes, we head back downhill towards our abode. When we got home, my UP said that we had done another 8 miles today! Thats 16 miles in two day, no wonder our soles were a little sore.

Here’s a great picture I got of the Sky Tower lit up at night:

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Saturday:

Today is a very wet rainy day here in Auckland. We slept in the latest that we have since being here: 08:30 am. We had a slow lazy Saturday morning, unlike the past few days. For breakfast we made crepes with peaches and russian fudge drizzle. In our possession we had some “Donovans Russian Fudge” which is a New Zealand based company in Waikato. We melted down the fudge cubes and topped off our crepes. This was the most un-nutritious meal we have made so far but the biggest indulgence.

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After breakfast we had a little cleaning party! We did some dishes, the laundry, dusted and vacuumed our apartment. Since it’s a rainy day and we forgot to pack and umbrella or rain coats, we’re going to have a lazy day indoors. We took this opportunity to face time our families and our dogs:

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Cheers to all our friends and family back home!

                                                                 Sincerely,

                                          The couch potatoes

No one has a good hair day at Devonport.

Today was a windy & cloudy day in Auckland. Even though it was slightly gloomy outside, the sun was still peaking through at times and we couldn’t let the day go to waste. Therefore we decided to take a trip to Devonport!

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We were on our way after a $12 NZD ticket & a 15 minuet ferry ride! Once the ship arrived in port, we could immediately see how majestic the little town was. Mount Victoria couldn’t help but catch your eye.

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Upon our arrival, we walked to the entrance of the park and began to ascend to the top of the mountain.  Mount Victoria is located on Auckland’s North Shore and it is the tallest volcano in the area, roughly 87 m (285 ft) tall. No worries, it’s an inactive volcano. The hike to the summit was quit treacherous.  But, along the way we saw some gorgeous flowers and amazing views.

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We ascended to the summit of the mountain in anticipation of the rumored views. Our hamstrings and glutes were really suffering as we made it to the peak. Once we arrived at the summit, we were able to capture a few photos of the sweeping views of the Auckland harbor and enjoy a light lunch.DSC04319_edited-1

(The incredible view of Auckland and the Sky Tower from the summit of Mount Victoria)

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(This is the opposite side of the mountain overlooking the other islands)

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The coolest part is that there is a bar located on the top of the mountain called “The Bunker” where musicians meet every Monday and one Wednesday a month. We were hoping they would be open for a drink, but no luck. I guess we will have to come back during their hours of operation to listen to some impressive folk music.

We climbed down the opposite side of the mountain and made our way to Cheltenham Beach.

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Cheltenham Beach in located in North Head which used to be a military bunker. The hill is lined with old military tunnels and cannons, as well as the greenest grass imaginable. We took advantage of the secluded environment and had some fun with our new camera. Here’s some pictures from our photo op.:

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We then marched our sore feet back towards the town and the ferry building. Our steps at the end of the day totaled 17,000! Thats a little over eight miles, phew.

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We had some time before the next ferry so we stopped by a local cafe to have our first cup of NZ coffee!

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Best. Cappuccino. Ever.

Don’t forget to check out our youtube video that correlates with the day!

Home Cooked Meals

Chad and I both enjoy cooking, therefore we were both super excited for our first trip to the grocery store. We stocked up on fresh fruits, vegetable, meat, and grains. Cooking with our all natural organic ingredients has been refreshing and rewarding.

DSC04253Our first home cooked meal was couscous topped with green beans, rosemary lamb, and tomato onion sauté. It was delicious! Of course no NZ meal is complete without some local beer.

We finished off every bite, cleaned up, and then fell into a sleep coma until the next morning.

After getting our first full nights sleep, I woke up early and felt inspired to make some more yummy food.

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For breakfast I made a spinach, tomato, onion, and cheese omelets. On the side we had fresh bread with a fruit medley consisting of yellow kiwi, banana, and tamarillos. We also had to try marmite for the first time! Oh how salty!

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Our most recent meal was teriyaki beef stir fry with broccoli, carrots, peppers, and onions over a bed of whole grain brown rice prepared by Chef Chad. Finished off with a glass of local Pinor Noir.

Many Tears & Good Cheers!

We spent our last weekend in Baltimore celebrating our amazing friendships and relationships by going to my best friends housewarming party, bonfires, taco dates, family brunch, and football parties! We ran around all weekend so we would get a chance to see everyone before we left, but it was more than worth it. Leaving is extremely difficult when you are leaving behind the most caring and compassionate people. We are very blessed to have such supportive and loving families.

We began our journey on Monday morning, bright and early. Our bags were finally packed, iPad & computers fully charged, we were ready to go! After saying goodbye to Chad’s parents and my parents, we were off to the airport. The hardest part was saying goodbye to my mom at the airport.

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Our first flight started off with an altercation between a passenger and a crew member which resulted in this person being escorted off our flight and the flight being slightly delayed. After a couple hour plane ride to Chicago, we got off the flight and wandered around the airport in attempt to find some Chicago deep dish pizza. Belly’s full with pizza, we continued on to LAX in Los Angeles. We were kinda bummed that we didn’t get to sit next to each other on either of these flights but after our four hour plane ride we landed in LAX and prepared for our international lay over. After this experience, I am even more convinced that LAX is one of the more frustrating airports to travel through. This is just simply my opinion.

At this point, by the time we got to LAX we were already traveling for close to ten hours. Yuck! We freshened up in the airport bathroom, put on some airport PJ’s, brushed our teeth, and put the baby wipes we had brought to good use. We were ready to board Air New Zealand and cuddle up in our Sky Couch! If you want to know what a sky couch is, check out this link.

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(Don’t mind the awful picture quality!)

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Finally, after close to thirty hours of travel we arrived in Auckland, NZ at approximately 0700 AM. We caught a shuttle to the office where we needed to pick up our apartment keys and trekked a couple blocks with our luggage to our new place. We had only slept for a couple of hours on the plane so we were exhausted! After we settled into our new apartment, we resisted the urge to go to sleep. Instead, we went to wander around our new neighborhood to find some food!

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Auckland blew us away! The city is so clean and up-kept. Everyone we have met so far is beyond friendly and helpful. This is the view of our apartment building:

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After we took our leftover pizza back to the apartment, we grabbed our backpacks and headed to the “New World” supermarket. It was intriguing to wander the isles that held numerous unfamiliar items. We picked out some golden kiwi’s, organic goods, and Chad even convinced me to get some fresh lamb meat. We tried to buy wine but apparently our Maryland license’s are no good in verifying our age. We will have to bring our passports to the grocery store next time we want to buy wine. We lugged our groceries a short half mile walk back to our apartment, put them away, and immediately changed into our pajamas. We can not wait to crash into our new bed the moment 2000 hits! Hopefully we’ll be able to adapt to the time difference and start fresh tomorrow!

P.S.- I will try to get up a video documenting our adventure within the next couple of weeks! First I have to overcome the challenge that is iMovie.