FAMILY VACATION

Hey guys,

For the past week I’ve been to the island of Sylt with my parents and Julian. Sylt is an island located at the north-western coast of Germany. We have spent at least one weekend there for the past three years. And this time, we even had a whole week!

Since the water was still super cold (about 11°C), Julian and I didn’t want to go surfing. However, we did another fun outdoor activity with my parents. We went on an E-bike tour! Originally, only my dad wanted an E-bike and we would have rented normal bikes to get some exercise but then Julian saw this super fancy electrical mountain bike which he wanted, so my mum and I also got e-bikes so we could keep up with the boys. The weather was really nice and after a while I got used to my bike, it wasn’t super crazy fast at all, like I had feared. It was definitely helpful, to have a bit of a support while driving on the dyke, since it was super windy up there! Just before getting lunch at the Kupferkanne in Kampen, Julian and I switched bikes. His bike was very cool because you were totally able to feel the engine pushing you forward and it was very fast! While getting down from his bike I almost fell though, because I had forgotten, that I was riding a men’s bike and got caught on the rod. After a little shock, I managed to land on my feet again, without being squashed by a bike.

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Our lunch was rather a tea-time with giant slices of cake, compared to New Zealand the portions you get in German restaurants and cafes are huge! Since it was so full, we sat on a table with two couples, who were a bit older than my parents. Since tea is better to be enjoyed in ease, we had some time to talk to our table companions. We even told them about New Zealand and they said that they were happy for us, to be able to do such things as travelling before starting a job. It was super nice to meet such friendly people as Germans are often portrayed as being quite reserved to strangers.

Another day, we went to go swimming in and indoor pool (as I said, the North Sea was still freezing cold). Julian and I went ahead and had a bit of a battle on who could go down a slide faster (it had a stop-watch function). Unfortunately, Julian bet me because I didn’t have enough weight to get a lot of speed. It was a lot of fun nevertheless, and I really enjoyed wearing my swimsuit again.

For the evening, we had booked a bowling alley, which I wasn’t too excited about. To be honest, I really suck at bowling, although I tried to be good at it many times. Therefore, it was no surprise that I ended up being the last place every round, with my dad having more point in one game than I had in three. Being my competitive self, I was quite frustrated afterwards but watching an episode of my current favorite show Riverdale made up for it.

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On our last day, we basically just walked around in Westerland (one of the bigger cities on Sylt) and bought some froyo at a little cafe called “Icery Sylt“, which had amazing and pretty cheap ice-cream. You get one cup on froyo with as many toppings that fit in the cup for only 5€ I believe and the portions are big enough for two people.

For the past few times we visited Sylt we always got cocktails at the “Cafe Extrablatt” while watching the sunset, so it was also must to go there this time. It was super fun, to slurp on our cocktails and talk about random funny things with my parents.

Anther quick tip from me for chocolate lovers who visit Sylt: you HAVE to go to the shop of the “Sylter Schokoladenmanufaktur“, as they let you choose your favorite chocolate from dozens of types (I chose the organic dark chocolate with 70% cocoa percentage and it’S delicious). I must admit, with three to five Euros per 100g the chocolate is a little bit pricey, but it’s definitely worth it.

What places do you want to visit? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you have a great day!

Yours, Jess

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FIVE THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN NEW ZEALAND

Hey guys,

since I’m home now, I wanted to share a few things with you, that I’ve learned in New Zealand and while travelling.

#1 Talk to the locals

Even though New Zealand has millions of very well signed roads and attractions, there are some things you just don’t think of/ know as a tourist. For example: some spots can only be visited at certain times because they are only accessible during low tide or some animals can only be seen at night time. Many families safed us from driving around for hours to see a specific tourist attraction, by telling us that we couldn’t go there at the time we wanted to. I mean, most web pages on tourist attractions warn you, that you have to think about the timing of your visit, but those warnings are sometimes not as obvious as they should be.

Also, locals mostly know their hometown and it’s surroundings and can tell you about super cool lonely beaches or beautiful waterfalls to where they take their children and from where it’s totally safe to jump down. They will show you walks through forests or on private land, which you wouldn’t think of doing unless someone showed you the way. And they know the greatest cheap places to eat. I had so much fun staying with our host families and learned so much about their country and even adapted to their accent a bit (I still remember everyone laughing at me for saying “tomaydo” instead of “toe-mah-toe”). I made some great friends/ a family away from home, which a hope to visit again in the future.

#2 Less is more

Okay, Okay. I admit, I DO need those twenty different products to take care of my hair and skin. However, it was surprisingly easy to wear clothing for two weeks over half a year. Meaning I only packed 14 tops, and four pants of which I only really wore two. A big mistake was to pack about 7 sleeveless shirts, since I would’ve burnt my shoulders in those, which is why I only wore them once or twice.

We learned to be happy about running water, hot showers and flushable toilets and, most importantly, drinking water. Things we never thought about back home. Arriving in Germany, I was quite confused, by all the people complaining about meaningless stuff although they probably still had a great life! While still being pretty privileged, having a car and enough money in New Zealand to basically do whatever we wanted, I still feel like we learned to appreciate our lifestyle back home and will try to consume less.

#3 Living in the moment

While being in Germany, I always think about the future, wondering wether everything will work out fine, always going through all the things I still have to do and I’m afraid of.

Well, since we didn’t really have a plan what to do while in New Zealand, I was just living in the moment, not thinking about what comes next. We obviously had to text potential host families in advance, but other than that we just checked out Google or free guides we got at tourist information offices every morning and decided what to do that day. I can highly recommend the guides by the AA Insurance, they are very informative and the tourist attractions they mention are very cool. Once we discovered them, we didn’t even use Google anymore, which is quite impressive, since we usually look up everything on there.

#4 Spend money on important things

While this point might contradict point #2, I learned to think less about money in New Zealand, meaning that I just bought and did some things quite expensive because I really wanted to do them. It begins with buying some treats like that yummy chocolate in the supermarket and ends with doing a dolphin saphari and the surf lessons. And buying Maggie, of course (I hope her new owner treats her well). We spent so much time, working and saving money to have nothing to worry about in New Zealand, so it didn’t make sense, to hold back on doing stuff because we “didn’t have enough money for it”, because we certainly did. Anyway, why do people even think about money that much? As long as you still have enough money to live, why don’t you just do the things you always wanted, before it’s too late?

#5 Communication is key

Whether with Julian or host families, communicating is SO IMPORTANT. Unfortunately, (well, maybe not that unfortunate sometimes) humans can’t read the mind of others and if you feel offended by someone, you should tell them, if you spent a lot of time together. I’m not talking about those things were someone says they don’t like your shoes or whatever. But if you feel like you are not appreciated enough by your friends or like they neglect you, tell them. If they are good friends, they will understand and want to help you. There will always be struggles in relationships but if you care about each other, you will want to and be able to figure it out. But only when you are talking about it. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but necessary. Julian for example, is not very open about his feelings, while I will tell him how I feel all the time and annoy him by asking about his feelings every ten minutes, when I feel like something is up. That led to problems, but I think we now figured out, how to talk to each other pretty well. And I am proud of that!

What did you learn while travelling? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you have a great day.

Yours, Jess

SWIMMING IN AN INFINITY POOL

Hey guys,

When we arrived in Singapore we got kind of a “cultural shock”, since our hostel had way lower standards than the one in Sydney. Our room was about 2×2m small and didn’t have a window (but an air condition, which we really needed, considering the outside temperature being of about 30°C). Plus, after having a room with en suite we had to share three tiny toilets and showers with other people. In order to prevent getting claustrophobic, we left our hostel, to explore the area (Little India) around it and buy some water. Anyway, our expedition ended soon, due to the lack of interesting things to see for us and being very tired. Except our room being very small, the beds were comfortable and the air conditioning was pretty good at doing its job.

We set an alarm at eight the next morning, got some breakfast in the lobby and went to see the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Mariammam Temple. It was pretty impressive to listen to prayers which seemed to sing or hum their prayers during a mass. Furthermore, the style of the temples was very different from a Christian church, way more loud and colourful!

After visiting the temples, we walked around the Chinatown Market and bought some souvenirs. Afterwards we took a cap to Sentosa, were we had lunch at the Hard Rock Café. We came there to buy t-shirts, but unfortunately all the t-shirts had Sentosa written on them instead of Singapore. We walked around the island nevertheless and took very nice pictures of a great fountain, when it started to pour down. It wasn’t even rain anymore, it was literally like standing in a waterfall! Eventually, the rain stopped and we were able to get back to the city and to the Hard Rock Café Singapore, which had an offer, to get three shirts and the fourth one is for free! So we all got shirts and Monika even bought one for her boyfriend. Afterwards, we walked to the Botanic Gardens, which had an amazing orchid garden. Moreover, we saw giant fish and even a turtle in a lake! They all looked very hungry, I hope they got their dinner soon after we left. It was a little complicated to leave the park since it only had about four exits, but in the end we still made it to Victoria’s Secret, where I had planned to buy a bra. For some reason there are a few VS stores within a distance of 1km of each other, so we went to the wrong one first but quickly managed to find the one we were looking for. In the store, I went up to an assistant to ask for help but since her English wasn’t to good, she didn’t understand what I was asking for and picked out stuff I didn’t want to try on. I didn’t want to be rude, so I tried everything on anyway and looked for the stuff I wanted afterwards myself. The line at the check-out was quite long and I was a little disappointed, that they didn’t have a style of panty I wanted in my size but I was still very happy about my purchase.

On the next morning, Julian’s Mum surprised us by getting a room at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the famous one with the infinity pool! At first we were a bit shocked, when she told us, that we had to move out of our room by 11 that morning, thinking something went wrong with our booking, but when we got to our room, we were amazed by the beautiful view of the Gardens By The Bay, which we also visited that day. I really liked the giant greenhouse which had a very tall tower with plants from the rainforest growing on its sides. The way of a human made construction working together with nature or being overtaken by nature seemed pretty fascinating to me. The only problem was that the greenhouses where super cold on the inside compared to the outside temperature and I caught a bit of a cold. After walking through two exhibitions located in those greenhouses, we went to the giant metal trees, which are the symbol of the gardens and seemed to be quite famous. We bought a ticket to take an elevator up to a bridge connecting two of the trees 20 meters above ground. The view was amazing, but Monika and Julian where quite scared because of the height. But since you were only allowed to walk on the bridge for a maximum of 15 minutes, they didn’t have to suffer too long. When we were done, we decided to go to the roof top infinity pool to relax a bit, before going to the art gallery.

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Unfortunately, the art gallery was about to close when we arrived, so we decided to eat something in the mall right beside it instead. We ordered some amaaaaazing fresh handmade dumplings and mixed our own dipping sauce with soy sauce, chillies and ginger. Once our stomachs were filled up with delicious food, we walked over the Helix Bridge, from where we had a beautiful view of the art gallery, the Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore skyline. On the other side of the bridge we sat down at a set of stairs to watch the water and light show they do every night at eight and nine. Despite us being quite far away from the area with the water show, it was still pretty cool.

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Afterwards, we went to the pool once more to take pictures in the dark and stayed until the pool area was closed for the night.

It was time to say goodbye to half a year of travelling the next morning. And I’m not gonna lie, I was quite sad about it. Someone came to our room to pick-up our luggage and moments later we sat in a taxi, taking us to the airport. I found it quite weird, that we only had to check-in ourselves and the luggage in the front of the terminal and the security check was right at the gate. Since some seats weren’t booked, we were given the possibility of choosing another seat, so we could use two seats at once, but we decided to stay in the seats we had booked. At some point I was kind of regretting that decision, watching some guy laying on the whole four seats in the middle aisle. Anyway, since the seat in front of me wasn’t taken I still had quite a bit of space for being on a plane.

We almost missed our second flight because we underestimated the size of the Dubai airport, but luckily we made it just in time. When we arrived in Germany, I was a little confused by something one of the police officers had said to me and felt like he was being rude but I guess he was just being less casual than people we have been around the last couple of months. I was super happy to see my friends and family again, but it also felt like I left a part of me in New Zealand. I’m definitely planning on going back after my apprenticeship, to visit our host families and maybe explore some areas we couldn’t because the weather was too bad.

I hope you enjoyed reading the story of my experience in New Zealand. To be honest, I haven’t really decided what to do with my blog now, but I will surely keep writing posts.

I hope you have a great day. Talk to you soon!

Yours, Jess

FOUR DAYS IN SYDNEY

Hey guys,

Our four days in Sydney have been amazing! On the arrival day, we just walked from our hostel through the city and botanic gardens towards the harbor, where we took photos of the Syndey Opera. We got some lunch at a restaurant by the harbor, which had lunch specials for 17$, however, the drinks were super expensive. Being tired from getting up at half past three, we went back to the hostel early to relax and search for some stuff to do the next few days.

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The second day, I wanted to see The Rocks which is an old “suburb” of Sydney with a great view of the Opera and lots of cute shops and cafés. Furthermore, it is home to an art market. Logically, the Museum of Contemporary Art is also located in The Rocks. Unfortunately, I had a really bad headache due to the big temperature difference between New Zealand and Sydney and couldn’t quite enjoy the Museum or anything really. Once I had finally decided to go back to the hostel and rest a bit, because I was just not feeling good enough for walking around in the heat, the headache finally got better and we went to the Hard Rock Café, where we bought clothes and walked around the mall it is located in afterwards. When we were done shopping, we got dinner at the Hard Rock Café (some delicious Mexican style spring roles, and obviously a giant portion of chocolate fudge brownies and some mocktails).

Later that day Julian and I went to a market in Chinatown which sold tons of jewellery, food, patches and fidget spinners. Julian wanted to get boba afterwards but they didn’t accept international credit cards at the one boba shop we went to and all the other shops had huge lines of people waiting to get their drinks. Furthermore, we felt a little out-of-place, being the only non-asian couple in the shops we went to.

For Saturday we planned to drive to Coogee Beach and walk along the Coastal Walkway to Bondi Beach. Yet, it was quite difficult to get there by bus, thanks to a big construction side right in front of our hostel and none of us having mobile data to find the right bus on Google. Eventually, we made it to Coogee, where Julian and I went into the very cold water. It was supposed to be 20°C warm, but it felt more like 15°C. Anyway, the big waves made it kind of impossible for us, to walk into the water slowly, so we just went for it and jumped in completely. We played “human surfboard” for a bit but Julian was quickly too cold, so we layed at the beach for a while, before starting the six kilometer walk. The path went along the dazzling blue water and lots of little bays and had many spots to take beautiful pictures. When we arrived at Bondi Beach, we went swimming again, this time with our GoPro, and got swirled around by the waves, but it was a lot of fun nevertheless. Afterwards, we got dinner at an award-winning Fish and Chips store and finished with Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream for dessert.

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We spent our last morning in Sydney by going to a cute Café for breakfast and trying to find a harbor cruise afterwards. However, since it was Sunday, all the tours were already finished at 1pm, and we were too late to still get on one. After lunch, we went through the botanic gardens again, wanting to see a special exhibition, which also closed just before we got there. Instead of doing something cultural, we were forced to spend the afternoon going shopping and I must say, I’m not mad about it (just about having only a little bit of time to do so).

For the next day, we had booked an uber to take us to the airport, where we kind of struggled to check in, since the check-in machines weren’t working properly, which resulted in everybody having to get help from an assistant (see, it’s suuuuuch a great idea to replace human workers by machines, it works so well!). After that little struggle, almost everything was fine, besides our plane being delayed for an hour, which meant that we couldn’t explore Singapore anymore that day.

I hope you have a great day!

Yours, Jess

OUR LAST NINE KIWI DAYS

Hey guys,

the day after our dolphin safari Monika wanted to see Cape Reinga, so we drove there and stayed at a campsite at the Ahipara Holiday Park which was super cute and cosy and had lots of surfers staying there. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to go surfing ourselves, since it was already late and we had to drive all the way back to Auckland the next day. However, Julian taught me to play table tennis, which probably looked very funny to anyone watching, considering that I’ve got a very bad coordination and lost the ball all the time and hit the air more often than I hit the ball.

We ate pancakes for breakfast the next morning, before heading of to Waipoua Forest, a forest of New Zealand native kauri trees, which are up to 2000 years old. After about 1.5 hours of walking around, we had to get back into the car, to reach Muriwai Beach before darkness. Since Northland’s roads are very windy and hilly, and our car was big and heavy, we could only drive between 50 and 80 km/h, which is why it took us 8 hours to get from Ahipara to Muriwai Beach. Nevertheless, our campsite was very modern and clean and it had free WiFi. The long drive had been quite exhausting so we were all kind of annoyed and didn’t play anything that night.

Thankfully, the sun was shining the next morning and our mood had brightened, too. Julian and I showed his mum around the beach and afterwards we visited Hamilton Gardens. Since it was Sunday, the gardens were visited by lots of people wanting to enjoy the nice weather so it was nearly impossible, to get pictures without dozens of strangers photobombing. Luckily, we were able to visit two more exhibitions than last time, as they finished working on them.

On Monday, we drove to Taupo again, to see the Huka Falls and bath in a hot spring. While that sounds very relaxing, Monika tried to convince us to do a bungee jump or a skydive, and although we were quite tempted to do it, our fear was bigger (plus, skydives are bloody expensive and we still want to have some money for exploring Sydney and Singapore!). In the end, we agreed on doing parasailing on lake Taupo, which was way more affordable than skydiving. Despite us only getting pulled up to 1,000 feet, I was still pretty scared, but it turned out to be fun! We were in the air for about 10-15 minutes and had a great view over Taupo.

From Taupo, we drove to the Hobbiton Movie Set, which was super cute and really made you feel like you were in a different world and a Hobbit would open the door for you to say hello. However, you can only see the hobbit holes from the outside and the tours are scheduled very closely to each other, which means that you don’t have a lot of time to take pictures. At the end of the tour, which took about one to maybe one and a half hours, everyone could choose from four drinks at the bar of the “Green Dragon”. Overall I quite enjoyed the tour but I wouldn’t do it again, hence 84$ per adult are quite a lot and I’m not that big of a fan of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogys.

We spent the next night at a super fancy campsite in Waihi Beach which had a swimming pool, a spa, a sauna and a gym! Unfortunately we didn’t have the time and energy to use anything and we left early the next morning, to go to a parking lot at the beach, where we packed our suitcases and cleaned the car. Afterwards, we drove back to Auckland and got some stuff Julian forgot at Yolande’s. She invited us to tea at her place and caught up with what we had experienced the past few days. Time went by quickly and after thanking Yolande again for everything and saying goodbye to her, we brought James back to the car rental, took a free shuttle to the airport and from the airport one going to the Auckland Ariport Kiwi Hotel. Since our flight to Sydney was departing at 6.50 the next morning, we booked a shuttle to the airport leaving out hotel at 4.20, which meant that we had to get up at half past three. Despite going to bad at 21.30, I only got about two or three hours of sleep because I wasn’t tired at all and was thinking about all kinds of things (I probably was a little nervous about leaving New Zealand, too). Anyway, getting up the next morning wasn’t too hard, the only struggle was to carry around our backpacks until checking them in at the airport, which seemed to have doubled in weight since arriving in New Zealand. Fortunately, this time we had everything we needed to check in and catch our flight. Security was super quick and we even had enough time, to shop at duty free. The plane ride felt pretty short, we had just enough time to watch a movie (Paddington 2, very beautifully made, super cute and entertaining, 10/10 would recommend) and an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. When we arrived in Sydney, the airport had some problems, which is why we had to wait about 30 minutes before leaving the aircraft. From the first step onto Australian land, I forgot all my sadness about leaving New Zealand. We entered back into summer, sunshine and heat welcoming us. On the way to our hostel, I was even more impressed by the beauty of the city, driving by old Victorian houses, modern skyscrapers, palm trees and big green gardens. Compared to Auckland, it was like life and colour exploded all over the city!

If you want to know more about my journey through Sydney, stay tuned for my next post! Until then, have a great time.

Yours, Jess

DOLPHIN SAFARI

Hey guys,

On Monday, Yolande drove us to the airport, to welcome Julian’s Mum, who is going to stay with us for nine days in New Zealand and another week in Sydney and Singapore. We were super nervous and excited to see her, after all Julian has never been separated from her for such a long time! When we got to the arrival terminal, Julian’s Mum was already there and surprised us by running up to us from behind. Yolande very kindly offered to drop us off at our Hotel in Auckland CBD. Since we had four more hours after saying goodbye to Yolande before being able to check-in into our hotel room, we decided to explore Auckland a bit more, especially the area around the harbour. Our last host had told us about the Wynyard Crossing where you could eat in many different container restaurants while looking at the water.

Unfortunately, all the restaurants were super full and had waiting times for over an hour. In the end we still found a pizza place, which didn’t have water view but served proper food. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and Julian’s mum almost went to bed immediately to recover from her 26 hour flight, while Julian and I made some dinner and watched “Suit life of Zack and Cody” on Disney Channel.

The next day, we slept in and took the ferry over to Devenport, where we walked along the coastline to look at some boats at the maritime museum and found out, that ships carry boats but never the other way around! We then walked up Mt Victoria, taking a steep pathway instead of the flatter road, which was quite exhausting in the heat of noon. However, the view over the harbour and Auckland was really nice! We shared our apples with some little birds and met an Asian guy who had his cat with him, which was trying to run off!

As we had some time left before taking the ferry back to Auckland after walking down the mountain, we grabbed a bite at a Japanese takeaway place. I ate teriyaki tofu, Julian’s Mum had teriyaki chicken and Julian got udon, a noodle soup. When we got back to the hotel, we played cards and Yatze.

On Tuesday morning we took an Uber to the Jucy Car Rental near Auckland Airport. Unfortunately our car wasn’t ready when we got there, so we had to wait until 12 for the staff to clean and prepare it for us. When we finally got into the car (a Toyota Hiace called “Jucy Chaser” by the car rental company, however, we gave him the name “James” (pronounced “Chames”)) we realized, that it is smaller on the inside than it seems on the outside and struggled to fit all our luggage into the car. When we arrived in Paihia it was already dark, which is why we just booked a powered site at a campground, made some dinner and went to bed.

The next morning was very exciting, because we booked the “Cream Bay Tour” where you travel around the Bay of Islands to the Hole in the Rock and see Dolphins and even swim with them! A shuttle bus picked us up from our campsite at 8.30am and the tour started at 9.15am, so we had enough time to look in the souvenir stores.

About 15 minutes after start of the tour we saw the first dolphins. It was about a dozen of them and there were even some baby dolphins! They were pretty curious, swimming and jumping close to our ship, looking at everyone taking pictures. Our guide told us many interesting things about the dolphins. For example, wild dolphins live for about 40 years on average, however, when they are kept in captivity they die after a few years, since it’s very stressful for these intelligent animals. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to swim with this big group of dolphins, since swimmers would distract baby dolphins from feeding, which makes them weak and vulnerable. Later that day we drove through the Hole in the Rock, which is supposed to make you live ten years longer.

Suddenly, after stopping at an island for an hour, we had to put on our swimsuits and get into the water because we were close to some dolphins we were allowed to swim with. Everyone had to jump into a net at the side of the ship and our skipper got us as close to the dolphins as possible. The guy that gave us instructions on what to do once you are in the water told us, that many people keep their heads over the water, although the dolphins are obviously under water. While still being on the boat, Julian and I found that pretty funny and stupid, but once in the water I noticed myself doing the same thing, since I got water into my snorkel once I put my head under water and felt like I was drowning. I have only been snorkling a few times when I was very little, so I wasn’t used to the feeling of breathing through my mouth under water at all. Furthermore, we were in the middle of the ocean and had to swim quite quickly and far to actually get to the dolphins, which were moving around all the time. Despite being quite used to water and swimming in the ocean and usually not being afraid of the sea, I felt myself panicking and was really glad, when I could swim back to the net. In the end I still got very close to one dolphin for about 20 seconds, which means that the effort was still somewhat worth it. After all I really enjoyed the day and would probably do a dolphin safari like that again, knowing that it’s not as relaxed as it seems in the ads.

I hope you have a nice day.

Yours, Jess

SALTY POPCORN

Hey guys,

Sorry that I didn’t upload a blog post on Sunday, but we were busy trying to sell our car that day (unfortunately we haven’t found a buyer yet). Furthermore, we are basically just relaxing at our new helpx place in Auckland right now, after working in the giant garden for four hours every day, except the weekend, so I thought it would be boring to tell you how we watch YouTube and Netflix and so on. But I want to try to find some interesting things that happend in the past two weeks.

Before meeting our most recent helpx family, we drove to Piha, to see the beach and the waterfall. The walk to the waterfall was quite nice, although nothing special, compared to other walks or waterfalls we saw in New Zealand. We originally wanted to swim in the waterfall’s pool, however, there wasn’t anyone swimming there, but just a lot of people taking pictures and it would’ve been awkward to undress and go for a swim. So we just sat down on some stones and watched the other tourists before walking back to the carpark.

When we got back to our car, we decided to go to a cinema and watch “The Greatest Showman“, due to many people recommending it. We bought our tickets and food voucher on a machine at the entrance of the cinema and were surprised, how cheap it was. I think we only spent about 36$ all together, which is okay, considering that you would spend about 8$ for a block of cheese! (Well, comparing movie tickets and cheese is probably quite random, but I hope you understand what I mean).

When we found out that they didn’t have nachos, we were kind of disappointed, and got popcorn instead. Only to realize, that the popcorn they sell in that cinema was salted! We would never think of buying salted popcorn intentionally, however, it turned out to be quite yummy.

The movie was really good, and I don’t just say that because Zac Efron was one of the main characters. In fact, I was quite sceptical about him playing in a movie set in the 19th century which adressed topics like social equality but he played his role quite well. Altough I’m not sure whether you can call “The Greatest Showman” a movie, it rather felt like a musical or something you would see in a live show. I personally also enjoyed the choreographys, being a dancer myself. Some scenes where a little bit to short and a bit vapid, but over all I can recommend the film to everyone and I’m planning to watch it again myself! Julian and I really enjoyed the soundtrack, even so much, that we downloaded it on Spotify and listen to it all the time.

When we arrived at our helpx family’s house we were pretty amazed, by how big and beautiful it was. We never really look at the pictures of our accommodation when writing someone on helpx so it’s always a surprise for us. After Yolanda (the host mum) had told us what our jobs would be, we moved into our room, which has a nice big bed and lots of windows letting in lots of light and fresh air (quite a big update from our campervan). When we had everything sorted out, we spent the night eating, playing cards and talking. I’m proud to say that I got less anxious speaking English and making mistakes while being in New Zealand, after all it’s not a bad thing not to be perfect. But I still hate talking to people on the phone, though. On the weekend, the two twin boys and their mum went away and left Julian, me and the dog alone in their giant house. One might think that that’s great, a day where you could do whatever you want. Nevertheless, I missed the others and noticed that I actually love being around people and interact with them. It always surprises me how quickly I can get attached to people and miss them.

Anyway, the next few mornings we spent in the garden, weeding, pruning and picking up all the cuttings and weeds we pulled out. Although Kiwis always complain about the weather, it was pretty hot and didn’t rain for most of the days, so we could always work outside.

While I was trying to pull out a weed that grew inside a hedge, I almost got attacked by wasps, when I accidentally pulled their nest out with the weeds. Since I’m a bit afraid of wasps I wanted to get out of the “danger zone” as quickly as possible, and jumped through a gap between two lime trees. Gladly, besides a few scratches from the trees, nothing happened to me. After that experience I avoided the lime trees and the hedge behind them and let Julian do the rest that needed to be done there. Anyway, he soon had enough of the wasps himself and we continued doing another job that needed to be done.

In the afternoon we baked some extremely delicious banana bread, since Yolanda’s kitchen is very big and organized and motivates you to bake or cook. We found this recipe on Google, added some chocolate chunks, and if turned out to be very yummy. While waiting for our banana bread to bake in the oven, I scribbled on a random piece of paper, when Yolanda asked me, whether I liked to draw. As soon as I answered with “yes, but I didn’t take my sketchbook with me”, she very kindly gifted me one of hers, telling me that she had studied art. Although I was quite nervous to draw while having a “professional” sit next to me, I couldn’t resist the temptation and started drawing. It was super relaxing and from that day on I spent about an hour every day sketching. I just love how I’m truly myself while creating something, trying to let someone else see the world through my eyes.

I hope you have a great day!

Yours, Jess