Archive for April, 2011


Used: 2008

Another location that I wanted to go to was Mount Cook. There is only one road in and out and takes about 45 minutes to get from the main highway into the entrence of the park where the town of Aoraki/Mount Cook, so there is no way you are accidently coming across this tiny town and hidden part of the country. When the family was in New Zealand, of course, didn’t have time when we stopped in nearby town of Lake Tekapo, but after seeing a flyer for a glacier kayak trip in Mount Cook, going out there was on my must do when planning my return trip.

Driving into Mt. Cook, New Zealand, 2008

The drive was fanstic. An empty two lane (and lots of one-lane bridged) highway with magnificant scenery around every corner, though most of the drive is pretty straight and flat. There are few places to stay in town and even though I was staying two nights, I had to break my own room rule or otherwise break the bank. There is only one hostel in town and luckily it’s a YHA so it was pretty awesome. It’s funny, when I was booking this part of my trip, when I first looked at hostels, this place was full, but in rechecking it a few weeks later, a spot opened up and I immiediatly grabbed it.

I am not much of a hiker, but the reason I came out to Mount Cook was to do a glacier kayaking trip. I like kayaking and I found a brochure up in Auckland and it looked so beautiful and amazing!

Hiking up the Tasman River, end of the line. Ice burg, RIGHT AHEAD! Mt. Cook, New Zealand 2008

Me at Mt. Cook town, New Zealand, 2008

Unfortunately the whole weekend turned out to be a bust. My first night in the hostel, I arrived, put my bag next to my bed, laid out the blanket and my sweatshirt, clearly stating that THIS BED IS MINE! After wondering around town and going on a small, short hike around the glacier filled Tasman Lakes (which was awesome) I went back into the girls room to grab a book when I noticed that someone else had laid their bag on the lower bunk I claimed. I went batshit crazy. The previously empty beds were now filled with stupid Germans (that’s right, I said it) who had claimed the other nearby beds, as tried to tell me in their broken english that their friend put her stuff on “my” bed. I no longer wanted to sleep on a bed covered with someone elses crap, but I was so mad by blanted stealing and no respect for other peoples stuff. I moved to an upper bunk (blah) on the other side of the room, steaming mad. Later that night, when everyone was going to sleep, the Germans kept coming in and out of the room, yakking away in that god aweful horrible language. To add to it all, the girl below me snored like a hog, which annoyed the fuck out of me (but I snore too, so how much could I complain) but the WORST part was that the FUCKING Germans would immitate her!!! Because that is really going to help the situation! I wanted to scream so loud that after about 30 minutes of it all, I grabbed my blanket, pillow and wallet and went out to my car and slept in that. This is why I HATE sharing rooms. I am the lightest sleeper so this situation was pretty much like my worst nightmare. THANK GOD!! I had a car. I have no idea what I would have done otherwise. Slept in the lounge until I was kicked out? Who knows. I don’t even want to think of it. Even though it was the middle of summer, I was worried that I would be too cold in my car, but it actually wasn’t that bad at all. I was super warm and I didn’t even wake up until my alarm went off at 8:30am. The worst part was my knees hurt so much from bending them all night. Otherwise, not too bad!

I got up and got ready for the day, to walk to the otherside of town (a 10 min walk) for the glacier trip. It was sprinkling a little bit, but I didn’t think too much of it at the time. The moment I walked up to the cafe, I got a bad feeling. I was the only one there. I knocked on the door and a girl about my age came out and told me that the trip today was canceled because of the weather. It was cold and windy and starting to rain at that point. I was so dissapointed, especially after that nights sleep I had, I was about to cry. I chatted with the girl for a while, discovering that she too was American and was currently in New Zealand on the WHV, which as you know, I have an interest in, so we talked about for a while, so it wasn’t a total lost. But in general, a HUGE dissapointment.

I had no plans on calling my family for a few weeks while in New Zealand since I didn’t have a phone card and using my internet time very sporadically, but I had cell service (typical) so I texted my sister and told her I was having a shit time and seeing if she could get online to chat anytime soon. Luckily, between a short time zone difference and it being Dec 30th in the US, she was around and I got on some wicked expensive internet for about 2 hours, as I now had nothing else to do that day. When I bought my internet time from the front desk, the girl who canceled the kayaking trip was there chatting with the receptionist (told you it was probably the smallest town in New Zealand that I went to and that is saying something) and she told the receptionist to take care of me, as my trip was canceled, which was really nice. I love the friendlyness of New Zealand so much! I got on a computer and chatted with my sister and did some internet stuff for a few hours. It ended up raining really hard and was totally freezing that day and I spent most of my time in the computer and TV lounge with a bunch of kids from New Zealand and Australia, which didn’t end up being too bad. Super comfy couches!

Luckily, the stupid Germans had left at that point and they remade the bed I originally had, so I took it back and the snorer was gone too, so the night was really quiet. Happy New Year to me!

Moral: The side trip out to Mount Cook ended up being meh. The drive and the town were awesome and super cute and beautiful and if that was my only plan, then it would have been sucessful. But the reason I drove all that way was canceled, I was really sad and super dissapointed. But I don’t hold it against the town, but just to be prepared.

Beautiful drive to the coast, the glacier water is so beautiful, clear and clean! New Zealand, 2009

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Chicago: Music

Used: 2011

When I travel alone, I am usually a total homebody at night, unless I am with a group of people. Probably the best thing about visiting a city where I already had a friend was a built in activity buddy for night. Since my friend was in grad school, she rarely went out and wanted to listen to some music, which of course I was game for so for the two of the nights I was in town, we went and saw live music.

The Friday I was in town, we went and saw jazz music at the Green Mill, which apparently is one of the best places in town to see it. We arrived early, before the cover charge started, only to discover that they clear out the place and then impose the charge ($12), so it was pointless to get there early. The place does not serve food, so we left for a bit and grabbed a slice of horrible pizza next door. But hey, it was cheap. We immediatly went back in, paid the cover charge and waited for the music to start. Even though the place was empty and filled in slowly once the music began, about halfway through the first set, a couple came over and shared our booth near the front. When the first set ended, I looked back and the place was packed!

The music was pretty awesome. My friend went to undergrad in New Orleans and loves jazz music and was prepared for the music and setting, but I hadn’t listened to jazz since high school and was slightly unprepared for the strictness of it all. But I got used to and quite enjoyed myself. During the break in between the first and second set, we chatted with the couple who was sharing our booth and they were awesome! They apparently flew up a jazz band that my friend had seen and loved in New Orleans, from New Orleans to Chicago for the women’s birthday. It was interesting chatting with a totally hip 40 year old couple who went to school in Ohio and loved Chicago and the midwest. They were the first people to tell us that “Chicago is awesome in the summer”. Just all around awesome. The waitress service was great, cash only (well, some cards just not MC/Visa), decently priced beer and an okay selection. We left after the second set as the bus stopped running around 12:30am and we had to get back.

The next night, my friend suggested a blues club that she had been wanting to go to, so we hit up B.L.U.E.S and it was definatly more my speed. There was a cover charge ($10) We found seats at the bar and there was a lot going on there. The band was singing, asking for audience participation, there was a tv on at the bar, with the sound off of course but closed captioned on and I didn’t feel bad chatting with my friend every so often as the band played as I did the night before. The service at this place was great too, didn’t hurt that we sat at the bar. They took cards, but I think they had a service charge on them, so we paid cash all night. I am all about drinking the local beer when available. I knew Goose Island is local and the waitress suggested the 312 and it was awesome!! I really need to find some in LA. This place was great for awesome, classic blues music. Get there early for a seat as it filled up very quickly! I had a great time. The sets were longer at this place and we only stayed for one, as we had to get back to the bus before the last service.

Moral: I loved how I spent my nights doing super touristy, classic Chicago things. You can’t get more classic then small, packed in clubs! We tried to go Second City but it was expensive and sold out anyway and I am way glad we saw music instead. If you are looking to get out the city center (which by the way is State and Madison and all the numbers go out from there) and get the real Chicago music scene, I highly recomend both of these places. And don’t forget to drink local!

Another book that is getting good buzz and in my opinion, actually meets it! The general overview is a bunch of people, mainly Americans, working at an international newspaper based in Rome. Each chapter is about someone different, so each story is pretty much self contained, which I always like. There was a blurb about how each story could have been it’s own book or stood on it’s own and I totally agree. All the stories were really engaging and while some of the people were annoying or whatever, all the stories were enjoyable. Between each chapter there was like this little interlude about the history of the newspaper that all these people worked for and that was probably my least favorite part of the book as it would skip years to the next “important” part and I would kind of get lost. Thankgod, they were only like 3-4 pages long. But I enjoyed the stories about the people a lot.

Used: 2011

My blog, my rules. I am going to write about various airlines I have flown, whether or not they exist anymore. I am probably not going to talk about rewards and how to make the most out of your experience, as there are “experts” out there for that, I am just going to write about my experiences.

When I made my decision to come to Chicago, I also wrote out how much I anticipated to approximately spend on certain items, and since I had my accommodation sorted, the big ticket item of this trip was going to be the flight. I asked my friend how much she normally spent on tickets home and then also did my own research. I put away approximately $250 for the flight, taking into the fact I might spend a bit more since I needed very specific days and times. I kept an eye on flights for my dates starting in the new year, knowing I didn’t have to freak out until about a month or so before, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on things.

Flights hovered around the $250 mark, as predicted but when I saw a flight for $160 R/T, I pounced on it. It was was the faux popular Spirit Airlines. They are best known for their nickle-and-diming of every little thing. They are the first airline to charge for carry-on luggage. But for a short-ish flight (LAX-JFK every few months was normal for me about 10 years ago, so anything less is cake), I decided to risk it. I thought about what I wanted to pack and decided to see if I could possible jam everything I needed into a school backpack, one that I could fit under my seat and therefore wasn’t considered “carry-on”. I didn’t reserve a window seat for any leg, therefore saving $10 each way. Instead I bought a blow up neck pillow, something I wanted to buy at some point anyway. When I planned my weekend, my friend said she could provide a towel and shampoo and soap and sleeping materials, so that weeded a lot out. As usual, I packed so well, I had room to spare! In fact, I didn’t even wear the sweatshirt I brought. Gah!!

Signage for Spirit at both LAX and ORD was horrible. T5 at LAX is currently undergoing lots of construction and I wondered around for about 20 minutes until I found the Spirit counter. Thankgod I arrived super early! I took note of where I disembarked at O’Hare and when I arrived back at the airport to return, the lady who checked my ticket and ID made a passing mention that Spirit was at the L gates, which is the exact same place I arrived at, so it was easier to find in Chicago. I checked in online before I arrived at the airport, so I don’t know how check in is once you arrive, but it was fairly straight forward online. You have a last minute chance to reserve your seat and luggage, if you still want to when you check in online.

I was a little nervous that they were going to try to tell me that my packed backpack was not going to fit beneath my seat, even though I knew it would. Luckily, unlike some other airlines have flown with, they weren’t super anal about carryon and I got it on both ways with no problems, with a bit of room to spare, I could fit my legs under my seat as well! Couldn’t say the same with the dudes I was squished between each way, all 4 felt it was there right to fit their legs under my seat, just because they had no room and I did. I would NOT recommend this airline or at least the coach seats for most dudes. There is also is no sort of entertainment what so ever. Pretty much assume this airline is like Southwest, minus the free drinks and peanuts and Sky Mall catalog.

Moral: Hey, for $160 and the huge price difference between other airlines, how much can I really complain. Plus, everything was on time and I arrived in one piece. All the bare bones worked like clockwork, which is all I paid for and the service was delivered. If I had paid anymore, it probably would have sucked and I wouldn’t make a habit of flying with them, but it was really the price difference that sold me and makes me, maybe consider them in the future. Or at least I wouldn’t turn my nose up at them. Especially if I can jam my whole trip into a backpack and save on baggage fees. If you know what to expect when you book with Spirit, then you’ll be right as rain. Just be prepared.

Chicago

Used: 2011

After my trip to Seattle and Vancouver last year, Chicago was the next city on my list to return to as a place I had been to as a kid with my parents and remember enjoying and wanted to return to as an adult. A friend of my sisters (who is also my friend to now, you know how it is as you get older) is doing a grad program at the University of Chicago this year and when jotting down all my travel plans for 2011 at the start of this year, I added Chicago to the list at the last moment. I knew I could do it in a long weekend and only planned to take 2 days off of work during a slow week at work. I booked a ticket, I had a place to stay and now I just had to figure out what to do! This is probably the least planning I have ever done for any trip. I bookmarked and saved all postings on Chicago that blogs I read post, but that is pretty much it. I managed to fill 3 full days!

Day One:

After arriving after my red eye flight and crashing out on my friends floor for a morning nap, I woke up at noon ready to start the day! The city was nice and cold (which doesn’t bug me) but it was totally foggy (which did bug me) so I couldn’t see the tops of all the tall buildings, which in a city full of beautiful architecture, kind of defeats the purpose. I headed into town, making my first stop Chicago Cultural Center which ended up being one of my focal points of the weekend. I ended up here a lot, with its beautiful open building, loads of places to sit and reorganize myself and use the bathroom. There is also a tourist information center here.

Ceiling in one of the rotunda's in the Chicago Cultural Center, 2011

Another ceiling in one of the rotunda's in the Chicago Cultural Center, 2011

I then headed across the street to Millennium Park to nerd it up at Cloud Gate aka “The Bean”. That thing is awesome! It was wayyyy bigger then I thought it was going to be. I don’t know why I thought it was be smaller! Anyway, I spent a good 10 minutes taking pictures of myself in and around it before heading off and exploring other parts of the park. I wondered around The Great Lawn, which is kind of amazing for being so close to the highway, that you can’t hear the noise from it while on the lawn. The BP Bridge on the otherside of the Lawn is pretty awesome too. The Crown Fountain was a little creepy as real faces used for art always creeps me out. And in the summer, I think water comes out of their mouths? A little creepy for me. But still kind of interesting.

My reflection in The Bean, Chicago, 2011

City reflected in The Bean, Chicago, 2011

The Lawn on a foggy day, Chicago, 2011

BP Bridge, Chicago, 2011

Crown Fountain, Chicago, 2011. Creepy, right?!

Bridge, Lawn, City on a foggy day, Chicago, 2011

After having some lunch at one of my old New York favorites Cosi, I headed across the river to Navy Pier. Even though I heard the place was kind of a bust for adults with no kids (and it really was, especially with the crappy weather) I heard there was a pretty awesome stain glass exhibit for free. And it really was cool! There was also a mosaic gallery next to it, which I love, so that was really awesome. Plus, even though I unfortunatly read it backwards, intertwined as well was the history of Chicago and it was really interesting. I love stuff like that. The place has tons of gift shops too and it was here that I was reminded that President Obama was like sort of from Chicago. I always forget that, since Hawaii is in our face all the time and he went to Occidental, a school near where I grew up, which of course, is now sort of a huge deal. But since I was overseas for the whole election, I always forget that Chicago plays a major part in his campaign. But it was like a mini Washington DC in the way for tourist crap in gift shops. I was getting pretty tired at this point and just waited for my friend to finish with class, so I sat and hung out in the Crystal Gardens on the Pier for a while. The place is awesome, especially on a cold day. A huge glassed in garden, I love places like that. My friend called me and I headed back to Hyde Park for dinner. We ate at The Nile and it was really good. We did BYO and ran into a couple of people from my friends school as well as her advisor, so if that is a sign that the place is good, I don’t know what is.

Day Two:

After another late start, once again due to fog, I finally headed into town around noon. I made my first stop at the Museum of Contemporary Photography which is part of Colombia College Chicago. I love photography and this was a great place to kill a little time. I always forget how blah on modern art I am and while I love photography, I am meh on the modern part. That is all I am going to say about that. It was free, so how bad is it really.

For lunch I stopped at Potbelly Sandwich Shop and had a meatball sub. When I placed my order, they asked if I wanted a milkshake. It was freezing outside!!! But I guess they are known for them, I just didn’t get one, but just FYI for the future. I did get an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and ohmigod, where those good!!! Highly reccomend those. They had a guy playing guiter as well, familer songs too and it was nice and different background music then what normally plays in shops during a normal, weekday lunchtime.

After lunch, I headed back to the Cultural Center for one of the Chicago Greeter tour. It seemed pretty slow and even though I got there at 15 past the hour, the women locked up shop, asked me where I wanted to go (Millenium Park, North Michagan Avenue or Architecture in the Loop) and I said architecture in the Loop. I wanted to do a architecture cruise at some point, but with the foggy weather, it didn’t look like it was going to happen while I was in town and I wanted to go on some sort of tour of the architecture. It was awesome! Definitely one of the highlights of my weekend. My private guide was awesome and I saw some parts of the city that I never would have discovered from old architecture that’s been around since after the fire in the 1800’s to Thompson Center, which is a state building that was built in the 1980’s and totally shows. Very interesting to see all the differences. The whole city is a goldmine for architecture enthusists! Everything is so beautiful. Another thing I noticed is that the city is really really clean, especially for a city the size. And the reason for this is that there are a lot of ally’s, which are so small and narrow that you barely notice them. How nuts is that?!

After the tour, which went on for close to an hour an a half, I met up with my friend and I finally made it north of the river to have a drink at Signature Lounge at the top of the Hancock building. It was still pretty foggy and the top of the Sears Tower (or whatever they are calling it this week) went straight into the clouds, which was kind of cool to see. We got there around 5:30pm on a Friday and grabbed an awesome table right by the window on the city side. Seriously, this is the best deal for an observation deck in town. Drinks are expensive and kind of weak (of course) but I am sucker for an observation deck and drink in hand is just a total bonus. Unlike the observation deck, there are no descriptions of what you are looking at, but on a foggy day where the view is probably not worth the price of admission, this is an awesome alternative. Servers are totally on top of it too and the service is great. And yes, the view from the ladies room is pretty fucking awesome. This has to be one of the best bathrooms I have ever seen.

Drinks at top of the world! Chicago, 2011

Me drinking on top of the world. Sorry that it's so dark, but I hate flash. Chicago, 2011

The fog has lifted slightly, Chicago, 2011

The lake, the pier, the beach! You can find everything in Chicago! 2011

We drank alllllllll the way up there. Chicago, 2011

Transportation all over the place is so wicked easy. The trains go right to the airport where you pick up the Blue line to get into town (O’Hare is end of the line, so it’s impossible to get lost). The trains and buses all take the same transit card, which you can buy at the airport and put some money on it. I am not exactly sure how the transfers work or the details of the trasit card, but everytime you enter the train or bus, you just scan it and it’ll tell you how much is left. I spent about $26 for my entire 4 days, taking about 4-5 rides/transfers a day. My favorite part was that the trains and buses was that you pay per ride and not distance. As far as I could tell, you could only refill these cards at train stations, which I did twice and it was so easy. And both the trains and buses were so clean! I never felt unsafe on either. It was a little weird for me that the buses seem to stop at like every single block. Even in New York, they don’t stop that often. But I guess winters get so misrable in Chicago, that you don’t want to walk longer then a block to get anywhere. Luckily, the bus that I took most went express from town to Hyde Park. The annoucements are clean and clear and on the bus, they visually tell you the next stop. The train maps are clearly posted a lot in every station and on every train, with all transfers labeled. It was just so nice to be in a city with nice, clean, clear transportation! The city is also super walkable and everything in town is really close together, so if you stay in town and only keep to the Loop or slightly north of the river, you won’t need to take the buses at all. But don’t take anything I say as gospal, as I didn’t do too much research on this and didn’t keep to close an eye on how much things cost or transfers.

Day 3:

Baconfest!!!! Coming in a later post

Moral: I loved Chicago!!! Between how clean it was, how beautiful lots of the buildings are and how easy the transportation is, this is my new favorite American city. I didn’t even come close to discovering most of the city and would love to return someday. All day, everyday all anyone would tell me is “the city is awesome in the summer”. I felt like the city sort of shuts down in the winter and it felt like it was in transition when I was there at the start of April. Millenium Park seemed to have a lot of work going on. Navy Pier was dead. Hardly any river cruises. Everything indoors was hopping and so was Michigan Ave (aka shopping), but everything outside was dead. The weather was super spastic too. I arrived and it was quite cold, like 30’s, and rained a bit, but not too bad, I never had to hide from it and the day I left, it was in the 80’s and everyone was in shorts and t-shirts. I don’t know how long term I could handle weather that seasaws like that. But in terms of everything else, I loved it all and have no complaints about anything.

Another self-indulgent wanna-be actress/writer/comedian who just does whatever and there are never any consequences. Jewish-ish girl from the Midwest ends up in New York City for college (tell me something new) and graduates with a useless degree and wants to be an ahhhc-tress. She ends up in some play that ends up touring Europe and since for some reason, none of their passports get stamped when they enter, so once the show is done, she stays in Amsterdam with some old friends and just hangs out. And sort of works. And shit happens.

As always with books like this, I hated the protag. I just didn’t care. I liked that it took place mainly in the ‘Dam, but other then that, the characters were super predictable as was the protag herself. I hate when girls do stupid shit and it seems like that is all she did. Meh.

Now I am all about making the transport part of a trip fun and interesting, but this book was totally extreme. Maybe I didn’t read it to clearly either but did the author want to leave home or not? Did he care about his family? Sometimes it seemed like it and sometimes not. I did like that a lot of it took place inside his head as you don’t have to talk to every single person that crosses your path as a lot of books like this may tend to do, at least on the page. I am a total introvert and it was nice to see that you didn’t have to communicate with everyone to make a good story.

The author wrote about his travels around the world (not seeing anything, just transport. Pointless much?) on the most dangerous forms of transport that locals have to take everyday. It was a sort of suicide mission in those respects that of course, he survived. I liked that idea, but I didn’t like that he put himself in those types of danger voluntarily when he had a family. It’s like, did he not care about them? It didn’t seem like he did. It’s one thing to end up in those situations accidentally or for an article to make a point, but none of that came across in the book. It seemed more like, I’m board, lets jump off a building with no parachute and see what happens! Something was a miss.

Used: 2008

Another big reason I wanted to do a quick trip on the West Coast of the South Island is to catch one of New Zealand’s iconic trains, the TranzAlpine which services a route between Graymouth and Christchurch through the Southern Alps. Rail travel isn’t too wide spread in New Zealand and this route is more for tourists and lots doing a day exercision of going from Christchurch to Graymouth and back, but as soon as I read about it, I knew I wanted to do it. It didn’t fit in well with my families trip, so when I went back and redid all the small parts of country that I missed with them, this was high on my list. And also, in the grand scheme of trying never to backtrack and always use different routes, I knew I only wanted to take the train one way, specifically from Graymouth to Christchurch and boy, I am so glad I did it this way.

Since the train station is right in the middle of Graymouth town and there is only one train a day, when I booked my car and said I wanted to take the train, the guy on the phone knew exactly how to reserve me the car. So easy! I was just to drop it off at the station before the train was to leave and all done. So easy, typical New Zealand. I did, and checked my bag in the same way I did on the ferry, checking it at the counter to pick up on the other end before I relized that the train was going to be delayed. Blah. The train had come into the station and everyone was getting antsy, but it actually gave me time to run near by and grab something to eat as I didn’t have time in the morning and was just planning to eat something on the train, but this was fine. It was a beautiful day and I grabbed a sandwich and ate it on the platform with all the other passengers who were waiting. We finally got moving about an hour later and after all the tickets were taken, the open air platform was open and I made a beeline to the one car with no windows as did it seem like half the train.

Open air car on the Tranzalpine

Open plains on the South Island, New Zealand

Open plains and glacier rivers, South Island, New Zealand

It was fantastic! The cool wind blowing in everyones hair and face as some georgous and breathtaking sceanery rode by. Everyone was clammering for the edge to snap million of pictures and I did the same for a bit, even though the sceneary was going by quickly, until after a while I put down my camera and just enjoyed it. It was late December, so the peak of summer weather and it was perfect. I wish they had more open air cars or that half the train had open air seating and you could choose to sit there, if you wanted. I would have gladly sat there. Luckily, the whole train was smoke free, so there was no worry if someones cig smoke would blow in your face as that tends to be a problem in open air cars like that. But for most of the ride, it was packed. I kept jumping back and forth between sides, always moving and giving everyone a shot to get close to the edge as I tried to keep to the edge as much as possible.

Riding over a river filled with glacier water, hence the bright blue colour, South Island, New Zealand

Glaciers of ice in summer, South Island, New Zealand

Arther's Pass, South Island, New Zealand

The only time I sat in my seat is during the required time when we are going through a tunnel near Arther’s Pass in the heart of the South Alps. The train also stops at Arther’s Pass and we are allowed to get out and walk around the train station for a few moments (a smoke break for the smokers) and it’s lovely, but totally desolate. I actually feel like I was in the middle of the forest in Northern California. We continued on through the mountains before our final decent onto the Canterberry plains into Christchurch and the weather started to fog and the tempature drops and nearly everyone returns to their seat, but I stay outside, to enjoy the now quiet of the open air car.

Typical road, high tourist season, South Island, New Zealand

The train pulls into the station and they unload the luggage the same way you would get it on an airplane, via a baggage carousel except it’s outside. Too funny! I wrote about my trip into town here, so you can reread here if you want.

Plains in the middle of South Island, New Zealand

Next stop, Christchurch, New Zealand

Moral: I loved the TranzAlpine and would reccomend it over the summer, if it fits into your schedule. I don’t think I would waste a whole day on it from Christchurch, especially if you are short on time, but if spending a lot of time (or living) in town and want to get out for the day, this would be a good day trip. There are really only three long range train routes in New Zealand and this one seems the most senic and I think is the most popular. There was a women on the train, a local, and this was her third time taking this trip, she loved it so much. I loved it too and would take it again when I return (if I have the time).

This book was definitely more target to old people then the young. I still kind of enjoyed it for the reference to places I would never think of “retiring” to such as Mexico. The authors live in France but referenced a lot of people in Mexico and Latin America as well as Portugal so I think the accounts of those people were of more interest to me. All in all, a decent read, but didn’t really apply to the young all that much. And of course, only for the upper middle class and above. Those below no need apply.