Hawaii

Ahh, it’s hard to imagine how I used to find the time to blog everyday! Although I spend so much more time these days commuting to and from work. Not to waste time, let’s jump right into the final honeymoon post-3 nights in Hawaii.

Funny thing, when we first planned on a quick stop in Hawaii on our way back to the states, we thought it was a 2 night stay. A way to break up the trip home (2-9 hour flights instead of one 18 hour). However, as I booked our New Zealand accommodations I realized we left New Zealand Tuesday morning but arrived in Hawaii Monday evening, which meant another hotel night in Hawaii.

This was my first time in Hawaii-we stayed at the Westin on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. It was beautiful but full of tourist and extremely humid. Made me appreciate the quiet pool and beaches of Bali. I wanna go back!

Hike to the rim of the extinct volcano at Diamond Head.

Once back to the hotel we showered, it was so humid, and changed for a free hula show at Waikiki‘s Kuhio Beach Park (free show every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings around 6/6:30).

On our last full day in Oahu we attempted to avoid some of the crowds at Waikiki beach and drove to Waimanalo Beach. Unfortunately the first spot had too many jellyfish and a warning to stay out of the water. Although we ended up on the beach a little further down the waves were too rough for my liking.

While the immediate eats along Waikiki beach are pretty commericial, a little driving gives lots of yummy options.

Koko Head Cafe-for brunch, I had the Breakfast Bibimbap.

‘Ai Love Nalo vegan restaurant with some of the best smoothie options near Waimanalo Beach.

Our final dinner was celebrated like one of the first in Bali-a little fancier, at MW Restaurant.

Special dessert to congratulate us as newlyweds. They also gave us some yummy banana bread (brown bag on the right) to take home. It made for the perfect breakfast the next morning.

Highway Inn-traditional hawaiian food featured on diner, drive-ins, and dives. Our last meal before heading to the plane.

I had the grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich on a taro root bun.

Ryan had a hawaiian combo plate.

See ya soon!

New Zealand-the highlights

Hey all-

This is the second part of the New Zealand post, aka go back and read the other first if you have not yet done so:).

As mentioned in the previous post after landing in Auckland and grabbing food we returned to our hotel to prep for the next 24+ hours with limited food options. And we got creative, hard boiled eggs in a teapot (the kind that plugs in).

Then it was up with the sun and on the road for our first destination…

Rotorua.

After walking around to stretch our legs and eat some breakfast it was back on the road. Driving in New Zealand was the best, little to no cars on the road once we got out of Auckland and animals running freely.

After about 2 hours of driving on a dirt road winding through mountains we arrived to Lake Waikaremoana.  We quickly checked into our tourist cabin-for a few extra dollars you are given a fully equipped kitchen, towels, and linens-and then went for a hike before the sun set. I knew we were given linens but wasn’t aware of the fully stocked kitchen, otherwise we would have brought more substantial food items. Instead we had hardboiled eggs, pb and jelly sandwiches, etc. C’est la vie…

The next morning we slept in a little and then got back on the road for the next 3 hour stretch of driving to wine country-Hastings.

From mountain to coast.

We stayed in an area about 20-30 minutes outside of Hastings- Napier: an area known for it’s art deco inspired architecture.  In 1931 an earthquake and the following fires destroyed the town, which was later rebuilt in Art Deco and Spanish Mission styles.

Hotel-Art Deco Masonic:

Direct access to the patio.

First black beach experience!

After 2 nights and 3 days relaxing in Hastings/Hawkes Bay/Napier area we were back on the road for a night in Lake Taupo.

Day hike:

The view from our room thanks to B and B:

Another day, another location:Whitianga for a scallop festival. This would have been a great area for watersports and we did see quite a few people kayaking but it was too cold for us.

So we ate and sampled a few more wines instead.

We missed the memo but apparently the cool thing to do was group themed costumes.

Shells everywhere.

So plentiful that everyone can fish, but with limit to preserve the populations of shellfish. Probably the thing I loved most about New Zealand, respect for the environment and future generations.

Wild turkeys.

View from the back of our accommodations.

Evening walk.

Morning walk. Waters so blue.

Luck ran out and we finally had a day of rain. We had planned to stop in Hamilton region on the way back to Auckland, but with rain that seemed less ideal so we headed to the northern region of Auckland to checkout a few other wineries.

Brick Bay Sculpture: sculpture garden, winery, restaurant.

Around sunset we headed back to the downtown region of Auckland where we would stay for our final days in New Zealand.

Hawaii, final post to come.

New Zealand-the food

The food first this time. Highlighting the best eats from the northern island of New Zealand.

After another day of travels-overnight flight from Bali to Sydney, hung in the airport for a couple of hours, and 3 hour flight to Auckland New Zealand. FYI Sydney had the worst airport food options especially for a major city. According to locals it’s because the  cost to rent in the airport is so high. Without doing research into the subject I would assume that to be true based on the amount of shop vacancies.

Once we landed in New Zealand we picked up our car, checked into our accommodations, and picked up groceries. Groceries to keep us fed during our many long drives in between towns, and for the next night when we would be in a cabin in the woods far from a restaurant.

At this point it was nearly 8pm and if following our schedule we had to be out of the hotel by 5:30am in order to get to Waikaremoana in time for a hike before the sunset. However, before relying on peanut butter sandwiches and hard boiled eggs, and because we had just been traveling for nearly a day we decided to look for a jazz show and something light to eat. Instead we happened upon Depot which was on Ryan’s list of restaurants to try while in Auckland.

We walked in with no expectations that we would be seated and instead were immediately given the chef’s table. Depot is just our kind of restaurant with seasonal dishes made to share, and so affordably priced-granted coming from New York this often is the case.

The wine list was spectacular with so many by the glass options. I had a glass of Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle  and Ryan I believe Ryan had the Pegasus Bay Sauvignon/Semillon Waipara Valley 2012.

Then a few plates to share. Everything was outstanding.

Fish tacos and duck fat yams:

Lamb ribs and baked cauliflower mash with cheese. I let Ryan have the ribs because I was all about the mash and even then neither of us was able to finish. So so so good!

I was happily content at this point but then saw the sugar pie and was like dessert is a must tonight even if I only take a bite!

Best sugar pie ever especially when paired with a cappuccino dusted with cocoa powder. I didn’t even know that was a thing! The US now has the flat white why can’t we import the idea of cocoa bits on our cappuccinos?

From there we walked back to the hotel and passed out-well somewhat. I must say the bed that night wasn’t so comfy…

Moving on to Hastings=all the wine tasting and eating after a day of hiking.

TeAwa for some wine tasting and an afternoon snack/lunch:

Owner’s cat was not shy.

Food options were rather average in Lake Taupo. But I will highlight Ryan’s stone grill meal from the Lake House. Assortment of meats including beef, lamb, and chicken brought out on a HOT stone where they would continue cooking to Ryan’s liking.

Whitianga for a Scallop festival!

Scallops prepped so many different ways. And we had all the scallops😉

Close up just in case you never saw  the coral/roe of the scallop…I wasn’t really into the texture of the coral and only had a few . Mostly ate the white meaty part and gave the rest to Ryan😦.

Back to the northern area of Auckland for more winetasting and lunch…Bali was about cleansing and relaxing, New Zealand was about discovery and learning about their wine-especially since only a small percentage are available in the US.

Finally back to downtown Auckland, Giapo: ice cream creations like you’ve never seen before! Basically, flavor names are posted but the ice cream itself is behind a steel barrier so you can’t judge by looking alone. You’re allowed to taste as many flavors as possible until finding the one of your liking.

Later,

Nicole

Eats from Bali

Continuing the honeymoon post…the food post!!

We ate at a mixture of places:

-Hotel: buffet the first night (the worst of the hotel dining options), fine dining on the beach night two (pictured below), and a few breakfasts delivered to the room (best hotel priced item)

-Bali collection: one night for dinner, not pictured-I think we ate american that night or maybe rice and fish, and free salad bar. The salad bar, well that and live music, were the restaurant’s selling points. There are so many restaurants in Bali Collection with similar prices and food options, so all the hostesses stand by the walk way trying to lure diners.

-Local eats: thanks to our lovely driver we were able to experience several local places that were inexpensive. FYI we hired a driver for the week to take us all around, again very affordable option in Bali and easier than worrying about taxis all the time. Plus he watched out for us-regarding shopping and dining options.

First of cheap Balinese eats:

Wish I had a picture of the layout of various restaurants, but basically they give a wicker plate with a layer of paper and started you off with a cup of rice-white or coconut rice. Then you point to the selection of dishes available until you’re content. Most dishes were tofu, vegetable, or seafood based and then made in different sauces like curry coconut, spicy peanut, or simply sauteed or steamed.

My plate, don’t remember exactly but I think coconut tofu, steamed cabbage, a broccoli dish, and a string bean like vegetable with peppers. The latter had a nice kick of heat/spice.

 

Ryan’s plate:

Layout of the restaurant, minus the area where food was ordered. Lots of locals including Australian surfers.

Different day, another lunch at a similar type of restaurant-and only Indonesians minus us. This plate and the sweet treat came out to less than a US dollar! Ryan of course had more food and a fruit drink so I think his total was 3 or 4 dollar, so expensive😉.

With all our lunch savings we splurged on a couples dinner on the beach-5 courses including 2 with lobster. Not usually a huge lobster fan but the island had 2 kinds of lobster that I had never tried before, a little sweeter than Maine lobster, and it was incredibly tender every which way we had it prepared.

After a late night return to Nusa Dua Ryan wanted dinner, I wanted sleep. Our driver made a quick stop at a Chinese restaurant. Indonesian Chinese not the same as American Chinese. I wasn’t planning on ordering anything but this menu sold me and I ordered a small order of noodles.

On our way to the rice fields we stopped to get more seafood, this time more river based than ocean based with a river fish similar to trout.

Our driver:

String bean like veg, grilled fish, grilled prawns, and grilled clams with an interesting sauce on top, plus coconut rice in the basket.

Upon returning to Nusa Dua that evening we stopped at the following restaurant where Ryan enjoyed fried fish (skin, fins, and all) and fried chicken, I kept to the veggies and some awesome fried coconut rice.

On our last day we made use of our food voucher from the time share talk-like the Bali collection it was tasty but nothing special.

Fried rice, grilled prawns and squid, and coconut water:

The final night we went to Jimbaran Bay to enjoy one last seafood dinner while watching the sunset.

Here we had grilled octopus, lobster, string bean like veg (I wish I learned the proper name), and rice. All proper meals in Bali should have rice:).

I’m kinda glad it took 5 months to write this post, it’s been fun reliving the honeymoon through these photos.

New Zealand here we come!

Nicole

 

 

Honeymoon part 2-more Bali

Hey readers,

Welcome back for part 2 of the honeymoon and conclusion of Bali adventures, food still to come.

On our second to last day we ended up checking out a timeshare-like program. I’ll spare you the details but share some pictures because they did have a nice property overlooking the Indian Ocean.

View from the bar-K=Karma group.

Trip down to beach (we were in a lift).

Once we convinced the salesmen we were not interested in purchasing a share we collected our meal voucher and met our driver who took us to the Ubud region. An area full of beautiful artwork including wood carvings.

We also tried the Luwak coffee (among others) while in the region. Luwak coffee is a specialty of the area. Basically raw coffee beans are eaten by the Luwak cat. The beans are then collected from the animals waste and processed.

While I was not willing to spend the $$ to buy an entire bag I did buy a mugful which Ryan and I shared. The $8 mug was well worth the purchase because: A) when am I going to have a chance to try this coffee again, B) the idea didn’t creep me out, I mean Ryan and I ate an almond out of elephant waste a year before and the digestion process is an awesome roaster, and C) we got to try many other coffees, teas, and a snack for free!

Once the sunset we went to see a Legong Dance performance, both the music and dancing were beautiful. The fine movements of the dancers including eye, finger, and toe movement added so much emotion and detail to the story telling.

The final day we enjoyed from sunup to sundown, with more SUP, 2nd massage, and a delicious seafood dinner on the beach!

Other random photos during our time in Bali…

Remember the squatting toilet? Well western style toilets are becoming more common given the number of Australians who call the place home/frequently vacation. We frequented many local restaurants during our trip including one “fancier” (in quotes because fancy for locals) restaurant that had a western style toilet. To avoid confusion on proper use they explained how to use with photos:

Finally posting in hotel, important, but also kinda scary to think about…

Amazing eats from Bali to come in next post!

Nicole

Honeymoon

Surprise, I made the time to blog and of course it’s been 5ish months so I hardly know where to begin…I kinda want to just say-hey, this is what I’ve been eating…but it’s been a lot of Blue Apron so that’s probably not too exciting. The honeymoon, however, that was fun, and I don’t think I’ve shared too many of those pictures with people virtually or in person…so I guess that’s a pretty good place to begin ;)!

Like all of our international travels I can hardly recap in a single post, and this trip was a whirlwind.

After a 15 hour overnight flight we landed in Taipei for our 7 hour layover. We landed way early-5/6 am so it wasn’t really practical to leave the airport for even a quick round of sightseeing.

Instead we wandered around the airport, which kept us quite entertained. They even had an area to play video games for free!

After stretching our legs and getting in our daily steps (before another 6 hour flight) we found a closed off tranquil area to kick up our legs (something we couldn’t even do on the plane) to read and rest.

Then Ryan decided to give some Taiwanese airport food a try-pork belly ramen. I think I stuck with a coffee and trail mix (brought from home), because the food on our flights was actually pretty good and I was not hungry.  

After another 5-6 hour flight we landed in Denpasar, Bali and then spent 30 minutes looking for our driver😦 There were so many private drivers and taxi drivers at the tight welcome area. But at last we connected and were quickly driven to our hotel-The Laguna in Nusa Dua.

(views from the plane as we landed in Bali).

I absolutely loved The Laguna.  It was a perfect first stop for our honeymoon. The hotel was located among other 5 star hotels and in walking distance from the Bali Collection-basically a mall with lots of commercial shopping and dinning options. We dined at the Bali Collection once, nothing to write home about, but it was nice to have an alternative to the high priced hotel food options when we didn’t want our driver to pick us up. The Bali Collection/hotel area was one of the few areas with sidewalks which provided a means to safely walk around. As usual I’ll have a more food oriented post to come.

Upon hotel check-in we were greeted with a freshly made fruit juice and then taken up to our honeymoon suite, which included chocolates, chocolate bath scrubs, and rose petals in the large tub. The roses in the tub were the best!-silky feeling water that smelled like heaven.

More local treats to snack on…

We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening exploring the grounds of the hotel and had dinner.

The next morning we started our day with a two-hour long couple’s massage, which included a full body massage, body scrub, and rose petal bath. They have you strip all the way down and provide disposable underwear so you can go straight from massage table, to shower, to bath tub-all located in the same room. Definitely a new experience, but I quickly got over the two women in the room seeing a lot of skin and enjoyed every minute of the experience. We ended up doing one other couple’s massage on our last day in Bali-this time a 3 hour massage which included a facial and a milk bath instead of rose petals. The rose petal bath was better, but how often do you have the option of a milk bath. Especially one where you don’t have to do the clean up! Massages by the way, so cheap in Bali.

After our relaxing morning we headed to the Uluwatu Temple. Balinese adhere to their localized version of Hinduism, compared to the majority of Indonesians who are muslim. However, they are extremely respectful of all religions and allow all to enter temples given you respect the religion which includes wearing a sarong.

The area was full of monkeys. Apparently nasty moneys who will snatch sunglasses, hats, and hair clips-of which we removed all and left in the car. The monkey below found a little girl’s shoe that had a fake candy bow. He apparently thought it was real candy and worked on taking off the “candy” and trying to unwrap it. Once he realized it wasn’t candy he moved on to see if any piece of the shoe was edible.

On day 3 we relaxed in our room for a couple of hours before taking our first SUP (stand up paddle board lesson). After learning in the ocean, as in a wavy body of water, I think I can handle a lake no problem!

Ryan ordered congee (rice porridge) with all the fixings and I had the best egg whites. Seriously, I need the secret for flavorful egg whites! We also had cappuccinos on the side. Any form of coffee was free for room service 24/7.

Hi birdie!

After SUP (no pictures) we enjoyed the pool along with some local fruit including snake fruit.

Snake fruit it the most interesting thing, looks like garlic cloves once the skin is removed but taste like an apple-not a super sweet one.

Day 4 we stretched our legs in the morning with a beach stroll.

See large figures in the background of the photo…

…here they are up close😉.

Along with a few elephant statues near a small temple we came across.

Before heading out for a three hour drive to the Jatiluwih rice terraces.

Peanuts for sale…

On the way we passed many other rice fields…

And made a stop halfway at another temple.

Before leaving the area of the temple I ran to the bathroom-first experience with squatting potty.

We also made a stop at the Butterfly Park. I wasn’t initially sold on the idea of visiting the park but our driver kept suggesting we go. I was so glad we did! I’ve never seen such large/beautiful butterflies and moths.

Apparently they loved me because I was so calm (the handlers words not mine ;)).

Adding a picture of large stick bug for good measure.

And at last the spectacular views of the rice fields from the Jatiluwih area. We times our arrival to get some beautiful sunset photos, unfortunately the lighting was quite tricky so we only got a few.

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll take a break here and get back to you!

Later,

Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Push

Hey all,

Quickly popping over to the blog as it has always provided a means to keep me accountable! With two weeks until the wedding it’s so easy to skip but I’ve got a dress to fit and bathing suits to wear😉.

Plans for the week:

Sunday-Yoga

Monday-Long walk

Tuesday-Legs and cardio

Wednesday-Arms and cardio (maybe spin?)

Thursday-Chest/back and cardio

Friday-Yoga and walk

Saturday-Legs and cardio

Later

The soon to be bride!

Another month of celebrations

How are we already entering July? 2 months until the wedding and so much to do!! Planning a wedding is seriously another job.

That said popping over here and hoping to get back to regular blogging because Ryan says he misses the updates and being able to refer to life events.

Biggest life event this past month, my sister graduated from high school. It brought back so many memories from my own graduation (from the same school) 11 years ago!

It was also the month of music festivals with Governor’s Ball and Firefly!

So much mud at Firefly!!

There was also a weekend in the mountain with friends.…we never got a group photo😦

But I did get this cute photo of Sarah and Tim!

And the food, I took pictures of the food! Dinner was centered around Cava and California Chardonnay.

I want this grilled shrimp back in my belly:).

And so much chicken!

And of course lots of veggies because we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ryan at work…

I think that’s it, lots going on as always…will try to document more wedding stuff this month because I know I’ll want it in the future…even if I don’t want to take the time now…

Come back soon!!

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