So, how is life in Sweden?

I know, I know, in the last post I promised to keep you updated… and then all of a sudden it was months later :/

But, to answer that question up there, life in Sweden is very very good ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t really believe it’s been 3 months already since I came here! Time certainly did fly this summer and only the calendar and the slowly changing nature are telling me that it will be autumn soon.

So what happened in the meantime? I learned how to survive in an all-male household, that would be the biggest change ๐Ÿ˜‰ One teenage boy and his little brother plus their dad did take some adjusting for me who had been living alone for the last 12 years ๐Ÿ˜› But now we have worked out a pretty good rhythm and I think everyone is quite happy – I know I am ๐Ÿ™‚

With the man in (and of) my life being away at work for two weeks at a time comes a certain responsibility to make sure that the oldest gets breakfast in the mornings and leaves in time to get the bus to school, then taking care of the household chores and cooking our dinner before driving him to and from sports training and church events. Actually, from Thursday on, it’ll be the first time that I have the car to myself since I came here, so I’m training driving it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Should be fine, only the garage is a little bit scary ๐Ÿ˜‰

During the summer, we did a lot of walking around the area and the city, you have probably seen the pictures on fb and Instagram. Yes, we had beautiful weather most of the time and yes, we have forest and water just outside the door ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ve eaten wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and now blackberries straight from the bush, covered a lot of kilometres walking and cycling and it feels like home to me now!

There was a baptism and a confirmation, the most baffling feature (to me, a German raised Catholic) probably being the young, female (!) priest who loves a woman (!!) and also draws people in so much that even I would consider going to church again ๐Ÿ˜‰ Apart from the fact that the Swedish church seems to have taken all the good bits from the Catholics and mixed it with a very modern Protestantism.

We also spent a little time up in Dalarna at his dad’s and I think this country is even more beautiful up there ๐Ÿ™‚ Not to mention that granddad has a lake just outside the front door and a big bbq behind the house ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some setbacks have been the fact that pretty much everything is closed for a certain period over the summer, so not much progress with bureaucracy and such, and also I had no luck finding a job yet. But it’s work in progress and I’m sure there’s something out there for me ๐Ÿ™‚

If you want to know anything specific, just put a comment and I’ll reply quickly ๐Ÿ™‚

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It’s back!

Hello my dear readers (if I still have any…) ๐Ÿ˜‰

The blog is coming back, so is the Instragram account and hopefullyย I will be able to post more in the near future when I embark on yet another adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a little different to the last one, not travelling as much or as far, but still very exciting and I hope you will follow this journey as well.ย Tomorrow, I’ll leave for Sweden. Yes, I know, been there, done that, so just another round of workaway? No, this time it’s for good (at least that’s the idea) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do you remember the hiking in the Fulufjรคllet National Park last year and that I was going with a friend? Well, said friend is in fact my boyfriend and I will be moving in with him and his eldest son! We’re based in Kalmar, so Southern Sweden, on the East coast, right next to ร–land – where the Swedish Royals spend their summers, so not a bad place at all ๐Ÿ˜‰

To start with, all my stuff that I am taking will have to fit in the trunk of the car tomorrow morning… I am quite positive, but we will have to see how realistic that was ๐Ÿ˜› We will have a little roadtrip from Hamburg and should board the ferry in Rostock on Saturday evening, arriving in Kalmar about lunchtime on Sunday – with a high probability of comatose sleep once we get to the apartment. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then it’s a national holiday on Monday and from Tuesday onwards we’ll tackle the bureaucracy in Sweden – supposedly it’s worse than Germany, but I have my doubts about that ๐Ÿ˜› Also, the little son will join us on Tuesday night and we will take it from there.

There are lots of plans for the summer and the boys’ holidays, hopefully we can make it all happen and have a great time! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks to the EU I should be getting jobseekers’ allowance for the first 3 months and after that I am hoping to find myself a job. Not necessarily as a translator, I’m open to anything that will get me in touch with people and will teach me about the society.

So from a travel blog, this will turn into more of an emigration blog, but I hope you will still be interested. And as time goes on, travel will be back on the agenda – but for now it’s all about building a new life ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S.: Any EB people who are still undecided about coming to the Summer Party tonight – I’ll be doing my rounds there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Merry Christmas and a very happy 2016!

Dearest readers,

now the walkabout has come to an end for the time being! As you are reading this, I have hopefully touched down on German soil again and am on my way to catch up with some friends before I go home to mum’s and sleep off my jetlag ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m losing a whole day on this trip, somewhere in the air – starting on Tuesday afternoon and arriving on Wednesday early morning ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you for reading and following my adventures so far! Thank you for your comments and for sticking around even when the internet wasn’t cooperative and I disappeared for a while ๐Ÿ™‚ There will be more, promise, but for now I will takeย a (hopefully!) well-deserved break and relax for a while, at least when it comes to the blog. On the fb page or Instagram, you might see the odd update with a pic ๐Ÿ™‚

My last host had the two most adorable dachshunds, so thanks to the internet for the picture. I couldn’t find out who to credit for it, please forgive me! If it’s your picture, I’ll gladly add the credits, just let me know!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a great start into the new year! May you have a great time and may your wishes come true! Sometimes they just take a little longer… ย ๐Ÿ˜‰

We will catch up, in person when we have the chance, and there’s plenty more news in 2016 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Australia

Yes, in case you had been wondering – I did make it to Australia in one piece and with no hiccups ๐Ÿ˜‰ First stop were three days in Sydney, made easy by a very conveniently located Airbnb (2 stops from the airport and 25 minutes to the city centre).

The weather was quite ok, apart from the cloud cover on the first and the big storm on the second day that was actually a small tornado in some different suburb to the parts I was in. The last day was just glorious, sunshine and no clouds, but also not too hot – perfect! First day I spent just walking around without a plan, second day was good for the hop on, hop off bus and on the third day I went on the free walking tour. That was really good and interesting, I strongly recommend it if you go to Sydney ๐Ÿ™‚ Should have done that on the first day maybe ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sydney really appealed to me, even though I can’t say what exactly it was: Being a harbour city, having such good weather, being very relaxed, all the good looking people… Didn’t see half as much as I would have wanted despite being out all the time, seems I have to come back some time for longer ๐Ÿ˜‰

Unfortunately, it didn’t end so well… I’m guessing my fish and chips lunch was a bit dodgy on the last day, so I didn’t sleep very much that night. With a flight at 9 a.m, that wasn’t the best that could happen and it didn’t really get better either. So when I got to Melbourne and stepped off the plane, I felt the heat hit me like a sledgehammer! From 21 in Sydney to something like 32 in Melbourne was a pretty steep temperature climb. Feeling somewhat wobbly, I opted for a taxi to take me straight to the Airbnb instead of traveling on the bus through the city centre.

Thankfully, my hostess was making up my room already when I showed up and I could go lie down very soon. That’s how I spent my first day… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The second day I was in the city early to meet up with a girl from the Stray bus, Ilse, to do the Melbourne version of the free walking tour ๐Ÿ™‚ Sure enough we started out, but as it was the hottest day of the year (reaching up to 43 degrees!), we spoke to our guide at the half-time break and left the tour. After that, I wandered around a bit and found the free tram, so I took a ride in that and then went back “home”.

Third day I left the house later as the forecast said there’d be a drop in temperatures in the afternoon. And thankfully, that was true – 20 degrees and rain never felt so good ๐Ÿ˜‰ I explored the CBD a bit more and bought some more things and then went back in the late afternoon to end the Sunday lazy ๐Ÿ˜‰

My last day was sunny and in the 20s temperature-wise, I used it wisely for some last minute Christmas shopping and people watching. There are so many different types of people here, it is amazing! Ended up with not a single pic of Melbourne –ย but you can see Sydney on flickr ๐Ÿ™‚

After those few days, ifย I compare Sydney with Melbourne, Sydney is the sophisticated, chicย big sister, whereas Melbourne is the crazy, wild younger one ๐Ÿ˜‰ Melbourne, when I come back to Australia, we’ll start over and I will do you more justice, promise ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Back to Christchurch :)

After a really quiet time in Wellington it was time to head south one more time and go back to spend some more time with Charlotte ๐Ÿ™‚ Me being me, of course I didn’t take the easy option of just flying there – instead I used all other means of transport!

Starting with what was one of the first buses of the day to leave the Airbnb, it was then on to the shuttle bus for the Interislander ferry. I had checked out the stop the day before so that I would know where to go and when. Once we got to the ferry terminal, we checked in our bags and I learned that because my ferry ticket was part of my train booking I would not have to worry about my bag until we got to Christchurch that evening. Nnnnnice! ๐Ÿ™‚

The ferry journey was rather uneventful as for once it was not windy and the sea was very calm that day. Once we got to Picton, it was very easy to find the train station – a) Picton is rather small and b) there was a yellow line on the sidewalk ๐Ÿ˜› At the train station, it was again very easy to check in and get the train ticket for the Coastal Pacific. Unfortunately there was no chance of choosing your seat, but as it was a scenic train, it had huge windows anyway and a viewing car which was all open.

The Coastal Pacific does what the name suggests – it travels down right by the coast before heading inland to Christchurch. There are headphones and a commentary on every seat and the above-mentioned huge windows. Also, the most leg space I ever had ๐Ÿ˜€ There’s also a cafe car. The viewing car was at the front of the train, imagine a normal train car, just with the windows and walls between the windows taken out. That would be my downfall later…

From traveling the same stretch twice on the bus, I had a quite good idea of when it was worth going to the viewing car for good pictures. What I didn’t think of was that the train was going at some speed and that it would be very windy there… So I took a lot of pictures along the coast towards Kaikoura, but after that I had to stay inside because my eyes were majorly irritated. A mix of the wind and a bout of hay fever (usually that doesn’t bother me in December ๐Ÿ˜› ) made for a rather painful experience until everything finally calmed down. (Pictures to be added to the post and flickr at a later date!)

We came into Christchurch about half an hour late, but Charlotte was sitting in the waiting area and once I had my bag, we got to the car and she drove us home. There had been some changes since I was there last: She had taken in a little dog called Tui, a Bichon-poodle mix, but Tui had somehow scared off the black cat, Monti. He seems to still come eat in the garage at night, but hasn’t been seen since ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Marmi in turn seems quite happy to be the only cat now ๐Ÿ˜‰ Both were very much happy to be cuddled and petted as much as I would want and Tui really showed her cleverness on more than one occasion ๐Ÿ™‚

We had some dinner and then an early night – a full day of traveling is quite tiring ๐Ÿ˜‰ The next day we took little Tui for a walk in a lovely dog park, Halswell Quarry, where she could run off leash and get lots of sniffing done ๐Ÿ™‚ Diana was also with us that day, but later decided she wasn’t going to join us the next day.

So it was just the two of us heading towards Waipara, a part of the Marlborough wine region. Charlotte took me to the Pegasus Bay Winery, first for a small wine tasting (mmh, Pinot Noir!) and then for a lovely lunch! We shared a platter with all sorts of yummy things which left us pretty full and happy ๐Ÿ™‚ Sitting outside in the sunshine, sheltered from the wind by a hedge, it was just a perfect day!

The next day I walked into the city and back – that hadn’t been the plan, but obviously my body wanted the movement! On Saturday, Charlotte had invited two of her friends for a roast dinner and we spent a wonderful evening together. Funny fact: As the ladies are of a certain age and the country itself not very old, they would know all the family connections in the area and know who married a daughter/son of whom and so on. I had no clue, but it was fun to listen to it ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course the food was amazing and seeing what she could do in the time, it was even more amazing. I thought we’d have fresh berries with cream for dessert – the next thing I see when I get to the kitchen is Charlotte making a “little creme brulee” ๐Ÿ˜‰ For starters we had crackers with cream cheese and salmon and the main course was a leg of lamb, complete with mince jelly, new potatoes, kumara, asparagus and carrots. So good that I didn’t even take a picture ๐Ÿ˜›

The day after it was time to say goodbye again and now I am in Auckland, my last night in New Zealand. It will be Sydney and then Melbourne and next week the walkabout will be over for this year – crazy!!!

Tongariro Crossing – epic (fail!)

Now I got your attention, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Tongariro Crossing is one of the must-dos in New Zealand and you may remember that I wasn’t really sure if I actually wanted to do it. After a few days with the same group and also learning that all the equipment can be borrowed from the operator in National Park, I was getting all stoked up and ready for it.

You’ll also remember that the weather on the afternoon in Blue Duck was made for relaxing and soaking up the sun, yes? And that it was only about an hour from National Park? So all sounded like the next day would be perfect for the Tongariro – until Lego came back at about 7 that evening after calling the operators. The weather forecast was really bad for the next day and they wouldn’t be doing the Tongariro in those conditions…

The only positive about that was the fact that we had a lot more food than expected and also didn’t have as early the next morning… And sure enough, when we got up, it was grey and raining and really not a nice day. We made our way back to National Park in this miserable weather, but of course it was too early to check into the hostel – especially as the other group had just left a few hours before.

So we went to the cafe for a little while and then Lego took us to Whakapapa (“wha” in Maori is pronounced “fa”, I leave it to you to figure out why that is a funny name…). There we could take a walk of about 2 hours which would take us to the Taranaki Falls or Gollum’s Pool. I set off with a few others, but somehow my stomach was not very happy and it was getting harder and harder to keep going. In the end, I did make it about halfway there and then turned back… to spend the rest of the time at the iSite and not in the cafe as I had left my money on the bus ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Lego picked us up and we went to the hostel which we pretty much didn’t leave again until the next morning because the weather just got more and more miserable. They have good forecasts there it seems… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Blue Duck Station – or the middle of Nowhere ;)

Ourย whฤnau then boarded the bus to go to Blue Duck Station for 2 nights. No internet, no mobile reception, no shops, just nature – can’t get more remote than that. And sure enough, it was an hour’s drive from Tongariro National Park, of which 40 minutes were on a gravel road ๐Ÿ˜‰

We did stop in Taupo on the way and saw the Huka Falls as well as Lake Taupo, even got to go to some hot springs there. Also we did a small photo stop in the National Park as it was a beautiful clear day and all three peaks were in clear sight.

The supermarket stop meant of course getting everything for the two or even three days, main emphasis on drinks because Blue Duck has a reputation with Stray for the most epic partying. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Once we got there, we got a big welcome in the cafe there and then got assigned to our rooms as well as the activities for the next day. They also offered some spaces in a tent and in a very spontaneous decision, I opted for that ๐Ÿ™‚ It turned out to be a very big tent, comfortably sleeping six people on mattresses on camping beds ๐Ÿ™‚

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We had a group meal that night, chicken fajitas and thanks to Hilary teaching me the secret to packing and rolling a wrap, I managed to eat it without any accidents ๐Ÿ˜‰ Was quite funny to watch some of the others struggle though I have to admit! After that, straight on to party and drinking. Add good music (thanks Lego!) and a fireplace to the mix and you get what guarantees the reputation ๐Ÿ˜‰

My activity was once again horse-trekking, starting at about 9 the next morning. The horse I got was called Crocket and he was very nice, just had the habit of throwing his head up and down a lot. The girl leading us had warned me about that, but it did take some getting used to. We took a nice track across some of the land that form the station and made our way gradually up the hill until we got to the highest point, aptly named “The end of the world” ๐Ÿ™‚

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The horses got a bit of a rest and we some photos before it was back down, this time on a much steeper track and my dear Crocket liked to walk right on the edge of the cliffs… it was a little more excitement than I would have liked to be honest, but we made it down in one piece ๐Ÿ˜‰ We stopped and got off and then waited for the “surprise” – which turned out to be meeting the other group of riders who took over the horses from us for their track.

Our group got to see the Blue Duck Falls, first from above and then from the pool below, which meant a very steep and muddy climb down. Guess who lost her balance and went down on her butt for a bit? YES… Down a the pool, a few kayaks were waiting for us and we were to go for a small trip to the next gorge. I had made it through almost all of NZ without a kayak, so this was my first time and I just didn’t get the hang of it… going around in circles and shoving water into the kayak was not really my idea of fun, so I got back out and had someone else take my place. Seems I can do big boats, but no small ones ๐Ÿ˜‰

The next bit was much more fun though, we got to go on a 4WD and speeded around the farmland, stopping a few times for explanations about Oreo cows, Manuka honey and wild pigs before we got back to the Station ๐Ÿ™‚ The day was beautiful, sunny and just made for a relaxed afternoon – so that was what I did ๐Ÿ˜‰

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