Sunday, March 25, 2007

We're hiring a Spaceship!

So Sarah and I decided to hire a Spaceship today...

No, not a Spaceship like this! We're hiring a Spaceship like this!

Early on in our trip planning, we'd decided that we wanted to rent a car while in New Zealand and basically make a big long road trip down the length of it. But recently we'd become concerned about the cost of both renting a car for three weeks and paying for hotels and hostels. Then we found out that you can rent camper vans for cheap in New Zealand, and our problems were solved! We'll still have to pay fees at camp sites, but they'll be nominal in comparison to the hostel and hotel costs. Plus, the Spaceship comes with a built in BBQ, chiller, pots and pans and even a DVD player... so we'll be cutting other expenses back at the same time. And it'll allow us to get away for the cities a bit and spend some time hiking and exploring the wilderness which had always been another big goal for this leg of our trip.

We are very excited!

But we actually don't pick up our Spaceship until Thursday. We spent today exploring Auckland, and tomorrow we catch a ferry to Waikehe Island. There, we'll spend a couple of days relaxing, hiking and taking tours of the 24 wineries on the island. Sounds like a rough way to spend a couple of days, no?

Today, though, we actually managed to beat ourselves up a bit. We decided to do a 16 kilometer (about 10 miles) hike through Auckland. It was called the Coast to Coast trail. Auckland basically sits on a thin isthmus on the Northern end of New Zealand and the trail stretches from one side to the other. Along the way, it climbs several of the ancient volcanic hills, cuts through numerous parks and college campuses and provided us with a great way to see a lot of the city quickly.

It also made our feet very, very sore.

My initial impression of New Zealand (or at least Auckland), is that it reminds me a bit of a trip to Vancouver. It's got that "same but different" vibe to it, where the language, culture and city have a lot of similarities to Seattle (lots of water and green space, lots of Asian influences, laid back and hip feel), but it's also got a ton of little differences that suddenly jump out at you. Things like the accents, the money, the warmer climate or just the fact that they drive on the other side of the road (something that will be a bit more of an issue on Thursday). But, at the same time, it's interesting seeing the parrallels between this part of the world and my own home town.

Sorry I don't have pictures to share with you all though; we spaced out (probably thinking about our Spaceship or bemoaning or sore feet) and left our camera back in our room at the hostel. So, to make up the lack of pictues, I'll share a random new vocab work that Sarah and I have made up while on the trip:

Escudoed - (Es-coo-doed) VERB.
1. To drink large amounts of cheap Chilean beer. Particularly while sitting on plastic furniture in front of a divey looking bar. Usage example: "Let's not go there, everyone looks completely Escudoed."

Escudo is a Chilean beer of questionable quality. And while back in Santiago, Sarah used the exact sentence above while we were walking past a bar that always seemed jam-packed with Chilean youths starting at about noon. Since she coined the usage, it's quickly become a new favorite vocab word. I thought some of you back home might enjoy it.

OK, time to quit rambling!


Vocal Minority said...

That's a brilliant verb.

I'm glad you're enjoying NZ, though I have to note that I thought Auckland was a bit of a let down compared the the rest of the country. Nice enough, but in many ways "just another city" where the rest of the place really *isn't* (although it did remind me of england at the time for reasons I'm not entirely sure of). Are you going up to the bay of Islands? It's really beautiful, I heartily recommend it.

Oh, and one note that sprung into my head: when you go to India (long time in the future, I know) remember that you can't take currency either in or out. You'll need to get money out to use once you land, and if you want to take some with you, don't just leave it where border police might look. I met people who had it confiscated!

The General said...

Thanks for the heads up about the money, Mr. Minority.

Sarah and I aren't planning on heading north of Aukland, but are on the island of Waiheke right now, enjoying the wine. (It's a bit blustery to enjoy the beaches.)

I think we felt a bit the same way about Aukland. It was nice, though not amazing. Glad to hear the rest of the country will only get better!

Rick said...

I want a space ship! and I would like to think that I don't have to go to NZ to get one. Or does it just make too much sense for the US.

The General said...

Actually, after our first day of driving our Spaceship, Sarah and I were already talking about how they should rent them in the States. I know a British guy (actually, he's "Vocal Minority" above) who travelled through the US about a year ago. His biggest complaint seemed to be the lack of ways for backpackers to see the US ourside of big cities. Something like Spaceships would be a great option for actually getting to see our "great outdoors."

We're loving our Spaceship so far!