The good, the bad and the ugly

Between this whole working full time gig, the packing up of our house, the catching up with friends and family and general need to ‘netflix and chill’ the pre-trip blog has been quiet. Sorry! There are probably only so many times you want to hear about how un-romantic planning a trip like this is. The endless lists, the numerous contracts, the 50-gazillion rolls of packing tape – you get the idea.

So, to condense some thoughts here is a quick list.

The good:

We’re making progress. The bank account is looking healthy and the cupboards, nooks, crannies and general hidey-holes are looking empty.

We haven’t killed each other. Something like this has the potential to really stress any one out. We’ve defiantly had ‘some words’ but there haven’t been any stand up rows, or slammed doors. We even took a couple hours out to enjoy our third wedding anniversary on Wednesday.

We found *the* list. Our parents have been pushing us to document every facet of our lives, in case we get killed by terrorists or something equally morbid. After an extensive google search I found an excel doc template that will be perfect. It has about 50 tabs and lots of boxes to fill out. I’m kinda excited by it….

The bad:

FOMO. We’ve had our first few ‘save the dates’ for upcoming events that we wont be able to attend because we’ll be away. Its dumb to feel like we’re missing out since we’ll be off on the best adventure of our lives. It will be weird to miss out on all the social things though!

Party planning. We want to have a bit of a farewell knees-up party, which is proving hard to fund. Some bars want up to $10,000 to host 100 or so people on a Saturday night. Thats 1/5 of our annual budget!!!! Hell-to-the-no.

The ugly:

Me, after a day in the garden trying to move lots of gravel, paint a fence, do some weeding and generally make the house more presentable. Andrew helped by water blasting the entire place which is no mean feat.

Really….it hasnt been that ugly at all. Just administrative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needles, Mosquitoes and Rabies, oh my!

Back in early January, Andrew and I drew up a list of about 1 million vaccines that we may need for our adventure. Going to places like India, South East Asia, South America and Africa got our backs up a little and we were freaking out!

We booked a visit with the Travel Doctors for January 30, thinking it was ages away. Well, knock me over and call me a goose, today is January 30!

So out 1:30 appointment included us filling out a huge page of medical history, our families medical history and a list of countries we plan to visit. We then sat down with the doctor and together went through all the vaccines we COULD have (like 10 of them) and the ones we have to have (like 4 of them. In fact only 3 for Andrew after his recent thumb slicing incident).

Some of the vaccines are worth like $600, which is just mindblowing – granted, its better than dying from a monkey bite and all, but still, $600!

So, after about 45 minutes of chat where the prospect of dying came up a good 5 or so times, we signed on the dotted line for our essential vaccines:

  • Hep A (now with typhoid included, its a great 2 for 1 offer!)
  • Yellow fever (Sarah has to go back and get this done separately as she’s full of a chest infection, yay!)
  • Tetanus

We declined the Rabies vaccine on the promise we wouldn’t pet any animals. Sad, but not as sad as death by mouth froth…..

Once the doctor was done with us we caught up with the nurse who administered the vaccines. Andrew isn’t a massive fan of needles and pulled such a face that even the nurse recoiled in horror! He did a great job getting it done. Then we got a sales pitch about the other drugs we can and should buy. We took home a menu to peruse at our leisure before my return trip for another shot.

$700 poorer and with bandaids on our arms, we left the travel doctor feeling a touch woozy but happy to have made progress. Bring it on diseases!

 

 

Packing, selling, donating and $$’s

So we have a 2 bedroom house, with an attic, a shed and a garage, all of which seem to be overflowing with stuff!

A couple years back our house was broken into, and I thought that the experience had opened our eyes to how good life can be with less stuff, but man, I did no realise how much stuff we still had……

So, operation minimalise has been my main focus since New Years. Every week I rummage around the house, and create 3 piles; Pack, Sell, Donate.

Packing has been slow, since we still have a few more weeks in the house, but the sell pile has grown and shrunk and grown again. I had my first experience selling on facebook, after 18 months of selling exclusively on Trade Me (that’s kinda New Zealands version of eBay…..) and it was great. Ive even been hustling my facebook friends to buy stuff off us – its a little embarrassing but it works!

 

We made almost $300 in just a couple days, getting rid of all manner of things to a real cross section of people. Since the initial flurry of activity things have slowed down a bit – maybe because everyone is back at work, and school and the reality of the Christmas credit card spend has come home via the bill. Either way, the stuff that hasn’t sold is moving piles.

So now we’re on to the donations.

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We have a box of ‘things’ a box of food and a whole rubbish bag of clothes all of which are due to be dropped off at various places by Andrew, and this is just the first lot!  I can only hope once we reduce the piles we will gain our floor space back and I will stop worrying about how the rest of our stuff will fit in to one tiny storage unit.

Suddenly living out of a 70L backpack is seeming awfully hard!

 

Oh my gosh, I just quit my job.

So…part of setting of on a global adventure for an extended period of time includes sorting out what to do with the jobs that have kept us occupied, and paid, for the last umpteen years.

After spending our “summer” break packing up and clearing out and hanging out at the likes of MacPac and Kathmandu for all the good sales, Andrew and I agreed that we would give our respective bosses as much lead in time to us leaving as possible. The reason was two-fold; partially so they didn’t get any nasty surprises 4 weeks before we left and secondly so we could finally start talking about the trip! Yay, no more secrets.

So, Monday came around and I caught up with my manager and broke the news. She was delighted for me but pretty sad to be losing me too. It felt incredible to talk about it and we agreed that while I wont hand in my notice yet, I can at least tell the team. Phew. So much relief. At the same time, talking about it makes it very real and its suddenly feeling pretty scary!

Andrew had a yarn with his boss too and the reaction was pretty much the same. We’re lucky to have such great employers who are so happy to hear we’re off to grow and have fun.

So yeah, that’s it. We’ll hand in our official notice later in February, but in the meantime we have more clearing, shifting, booking and packing to do.

Who I am and why I’m here

A new year, a new day, a new goal and an old blog that needs a bit of a dust! Back in 2015 (basically the olden days now)  I started this site to share a journey with some friends. WordPress are kind enough to offer a ‘Learning the Fundamentals’, even for returning Bloggers like me and today I start this new journey.

I’m Sarah and along with my husband Andrew I’m getting ready to go on an adventure. We want to share our experiences with our friends, both the ones we already have and the ones we will meet on the way and what a better way than this?

 

 

Home sweet home

We were pretty lucky with our flights – the travel agent did well in giving us heaps of time for connections while getting most of the flying done while we did our sleeping.

The best part of our return trip was a tie between going through the ultra fast lane of customs at LAX airport, which was excellent, and the lovely crew on our last flight wishing me a happy birthday over the PA, at Andrews request. Hes pretty good!

We arrived, sailed through customs and that was that. My mother in law was ready to collect us, with a gorgeous bunch of birthday roses, just for me – lucky!

Getting home was exciting. The fire was on, the cats were around and we could just sit and relax. It was strange that by 5pm it was dark, but at least it wasnt too cold.

Takeaways for dinner and some bubbly to celebrate our safe arrival, before an early night.

Now we are back at work and real life is sinking in again but we are well rested, happy and already planning our next journey!

Our last day as tourists before we go back to being travelers

So here we go. I’m sat on the floor at Boston’s Logan airport, 2 hours before we can check in to our flight, eating a dunkin donuts bagel and drinking iced coffee – the last I will have before retuning home to cold and dark autumnal weather!

Between the two is us we have enough luggage for a small African tribe and we are looking forward to getting it on our plane here in Boston and not seeing it again until we reach Wellington. We shopped hard, but hey, you only live once right?

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But this is the now. Let’s travel back in time and space to yesterday for our last thrilling adventures…..

So Boston is the only city in the world that has been graced with my presence where as a tourist you are a fronted with numerous tour and attraction offering passes. Even my memories of big cities on The Continent only seem to recall one or at most 2 tour companies.

I counted at leased 5 different hop on hop off bus services and 3 different pre purchased cards that would grant the holder free or discounted rates into attractions around the city and its not even that big!!!

After some reading, angst and confusion we purchased a Go Boston card, to be used for 1 day only. Our last day – so sad!

That was all well and good and feeling rather chuffed with ourselves we picked up a coffee and sorted our bus passes. Nothing of interest seems to open in Boston before 9 am if you’re lucky or 10 am if you’re not.

It became pretty apparent that the bus company our pass gave us access to was. ..well…. OK at best. The USP  (for you non marketers out there this is the unique selling point) seemed to be that these buses were converted trolly cars from a tram system which made them rattly, old and kinda cramped. But you know, it beats walking everywhere and some might call it eclectic.

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So, we were the only people on our bus which meant Richard, our handy dandy tour guide could tailor his tour a bit to us. He was chuffed when we found out we heralded from Nuh Zeaaaaland. He took us across from Boston Central to Cambridge, where MIT and Harvard sit.

As much as I would have liked to spend some time exploring the campuses, graduation week was afoot, the weather was a bit iffy and frankly everything else we wanted to do was back across the river so we thought it best not to chance it. Anyway, with only two undergraduate degrees between the two of us (and only one person who’s name is on those degrees…), we were hardly qualified to be wandering the halls of an Ivy League school!

While we went up and down the streets of the MIT Richard explained to us that Boston only has ~600, 500 residents and 220, 000 of those are in the medical profession.  There are 4 major hospitals in the area, and Boston was the first place anesthetic was used, so hurray for that! If you’re sick, this is the city to be in.

Given the number of university’s and colleges in the area (specialising in everything from law to medicine, engineering to music) the student population during semester is about 300, 000 people which is pretty impressive when  you think about it. Looking around at the food places to would often see young people with coffees and laptops, working away, like I remember doing at uni only a number of these students are post grad.

Back into Boston and down to the Sea port district Andrew and I disembarked to check out the 2 ships marking the Boston Tea Party. For $25 you can join in a bi-hourly reenactment followed by tea ans scones which we gave a miss on, but we wandered the pier for a while and watched.

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A short walk away, and now in the sunshine, we headed for the harbour pier, one of the two original piers built on the Boston harbour. Similar to wellington lots of the harbour is on reclaimed land, only in Boston this is man made…

So we journeyed to the New England aquarium and checked out the seals, penguins and more on offer. They have a cool set up with a huge 4 story tank in he middle which boasts more than 3000 salt water species. A nice easy walking ramp takes to to the top which is cool.

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An hour or so in the aquarium and we were getting hungry for some lunch. New England is famous for its seafood and Andrew was keen to try a Lobster Roll. When in Boston you gatta tawlk like a lawcal so we went and ordered a lawbstah roll to go. Expecting some meat in a bread roll Andrew was shocked to find it was going to set him back $30. Luckily they explained he would be getting fresh lobster, in a warm roll with butter and would also get some fries,  coleslaw and extra bread. It was definitely enough for both of us. Phew!

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So lunch was done and the sun was shining.  The perfect time for us to take a quick harbour cruise, care of our go Boston pass.

The cruise was nice enough, with the majority of the sites off the starboard side. We happened to be sat on port side, which was our own fault. Anyway. The cruise too us out to he Charleston navel base, where the USS Constitution is docked. This is the oldest ship still in commission and isn’t bad looking for its age! I’ll pop up a photo later.

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Back on Terra Firma and we had a couple more things to do, so we hopped on our bus again. This driver was awful. His driving was fine but his commentary was drivel and at some points when he got stuck he would repeat the same paragraph word for word all in monotone.

Finally though, we ended up and Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. A small stadium it still has some of the original seating from 1912, which is pretty cool. Again, on our pass, we took a tour and went all over the place, including the press room! Even I enjoyed myself which is saying something.

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My favorite part was near the end of the tour. A huge 502 ft away from the pitcher there is a lone red seat in a sea of blue ones. This is the seat where a guy got knocked out by a home run, the longest within the stadium. A pretty cool tribute I reckon!

Andrew liked that the store sold all the normal fan gear but also had a special mini store selling memorabilia, like old bricks from the stadium, original seats, used and signed balls and bats. Lucky for me his luggage was already full.

Our final spot of sightseeing was to be from the top of the Prudential Center one of the tallest buildings in Boston. Inconveniently they were closed for a private function. The sign for that wasn’t there at 930 when we checked it out! That was a bit pants, but hey, we couldn’t do anything about it.

So, a long day if sight seeing and touring. There is defiantly more in Boston that we could have visited, like going inside the state house, checking out the cemetery where Ben Franklin’s parents are buried and doing the freedom walk. All things for next time, right?

Out for our final dinner of burgers and fries before a cheeky cheesecake desert at home.

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With our bags already mostly packed it was another evening of TV and sleep for us. A real treat.

And that’s that.  A busy day but a fun day and a good end to a good holiday.

All up we have travelled through 9 states, out of 50, which for 3 weeks ain’t bad. We’ve seen a bunch of history, met some great people, had some laughs, ate good, bad and ugly food and shopped up a storm. Happy times all around.  Now we have 27 hours in the air, a couple more in airports and we will be home to our own place, space and cuddles from the cats. Just what I want for my birthday.

It’s been a blast.

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