You know how people say to "keep your money in different places" when you travel? You know, they say you should split it between your suitcase, your carry on, and even stuff some in your sock.
Well, turns out it's a DAMN GOOD IDEA! Even better, keep an entire wallet (with IDs and credit cards and money) separate from your other wallet. I did this and it saved me a huge hassle while traveling my second time to NOLA.
I also learned what happens when you don't have an ID to show the TSA at the airport. Apparently, this happens all the time and they have a simple procedure in place. Who knew?!
It's been 7 months since my last major update! A lot has been going on in my life. And it all ties into a major lesson I learned while traveling solo: Nothing is permanent.
In recent months, unforeseen circumstances forced me to move out of the home I settled into a year ago. Plus, I ended a 2 year relationship.
But now things are looking up. I have worked out a new place to live. I've also gained more travel flexibility despite my full-time career.
I think I picked the worst month to visit New Orleans: The month of July.
When I booked my trip there, I did not realize that July is when many iconic experiences of the Crescent City completely stop for the month. Crawfish season is over, second line parades do not pick up again until August, and many more activities cannot be fully enjoyed as a result of the heat and excessive rain.
Despite these downfalls, I still had an awesome time in NOLA.
“Oh, just wait until you get to the West Coast of the South Island.”
“Why, what’s there?”
“You’ll see. It’s stunning.”
I had been hearing about the West Coast of the South Island for weeks. The stretch of shoreline between Westport and Greymouth was argued to be one of the most gorgeous drives in all of New Zealand.
I first arrived there with Birgit after we had trekked the Abel Tasman. Black sand beaches, dinosaur egg-looking boulders, sunbathing seals, unbelievable rock formations, and spectacular sunsets are just some of the highlights we had the chance to witness. But the beauty of this place was deceiving. A flesh-eating evil was lurking right outside our car windows, ready to lunge at us from all directions for a taste of our warm, sweet blood.
A biting chill set in as we tucked into our tent for the night on the first day of our 2 day hike in the Tongariro National Park. I shivered most of the night despite my 10 layers of clothing, sleeping bag and silk liner. I am surprised I managed even 3 hours of sleep between the cold and the pain in my feet from the tendonitis and blisters I developed during the day’s hike.
In the morning, I was simultaneously dreading and looking forward to the walk ahead. We would be reaching the highest peak at the Red Crater where outstanding views awaited us. The views turned out to be more spectacular than I could ever have imagined! The surprise of the landscape was the perfect distraction from my aching feet. But my excitement got the better of me—an additional hike up the Tongariro summit led to my utter defeat.
There I was, a German man and a Czech man in tow, approaching the crest of the hundredth hill I had climbed in the previous 8 hours. “Just one more, guys. Then we’ll see our campsite!” Peering over the top, I was greeted with yet another rocky valley with a steep hill to mount on the other side. “Okay,” I breathed deeply, “don’t hate me but there’s another one.” A long sigh of “UUUUUUGGGGGGGGGH” came from behind.
This was the Tongariro Northern Circuit. Sounds like a nightmare—and perhaps that’s the right description considering we were tramping all day in the shadow of “Mt. Doom” through film locations for Mordor, the dark, treeless setting for the evil enemy Sauron’s base in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) films. As 1 of 9 New Zealand “Great Walks,” the Tongariro circuit turned out to be equally as beautiful as it was challenging to hike.
Five months into my travels and I am on road trip #5 in New Zealand! I road tripped the North Island three times, did some house-sitting in Wellington over the holidays, and then traveled to the south island for a second house-sit. I planned road trip #4 with a German woman around the northern part of the south island. Now I am heading further south, road-tripping with Carolina who I met 5 months ago in Iceland! I’ve mainly been camping as a means to experience the countryside first-hand and save money on accommodation.
After traveling here for over 2 months, I can honestly say I never imagined so much beautiful and diverse landscape in such a condensed space. New Zealand truly has it all: rolling green pastures, monumental glaciers, native tropical forests, pristine sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, snow-covered mountains, active volcanoes, hot springs and pools—the list could go on and on. This is what I came here for. It’s a hiker’s, camper’s, roadtripper’s dream come true. Good thing I’m all three!
I was in Germany for 6 weeks and traveled from cities to countryside visiting Bielefeld, down to Cologne, then Frankfurt, Munich, Regensburg, and finally up to Berlin. After spending so much time in Deutchland, I feel like I got to know the country very well. By the end of it, I had a pretty good idea of what I absolutely adored and you can see this in my many enthusiastic posts about Germany.
There are still many positive aspects of the country I missed mentioning, such as how much I appreciate Germany’s commitment to providing free education to their citizens, the just amount of historical responsibility they demonstrate through the many memorials to holocaust victims found all over the country, and their high standards for education requiring even carpenters and plumbers to go to college and obtain a degree in their trade to begin work in that field.