Quote of the week

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“And it’s not what you’ve lost, it’s what you find”

Ellie Goulding

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Travel Theme: stone

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There was a time when I believed as hard as stone in you, in us and everything that it entailed. No stones can survive the passing of time so how could we… All that remains are the ruins of what used to be, as only proof that it ever existed, till it finally comes to the ground and disappear for good.

Time for goodbyes is not there yet it seems, till then, we hand on to what we can…

This post is part of the Travel Themes

 

How long is forever? Sometimes just one second

Hello!

On this rainy Sunday, let’s talk about another wet land: the glaciers of New Zealand! Franz Joseph was on top of our Must See list as we started in NZ. My brother had contacted me a few days prior to our arrival in the glaciers zone to say happy birthday of course but also to tell me he wanted to offer me a sky dive experience… What better place to do it than in the glaciers?? Don’t get too exited, it did not happen… First, my mad foot needed to be cured ASAP. 15 days of antibiotics and a traumatizing egg bursting later, all that was left of the poisonous spider was an enormous scar, still visible as of today. Second, the impossible weather. Foggy, raining and windy, what was the point?? Third, probably my lack of confidence in my ability to jump from a plane…

Both time I went to Franz Joseph I first had a stop in Hokitika. It is only after wandering in the ‘city’ the second time around that I had to admit I had already been there, once, when the Intercity bus took a two hours break… Lonely Planet says it is a nice place, worth to spend one or two nights, and that’s about the only thing I’ve been mad at them about. Because Hokitika may have plenty to offer, I absolutly hated it. Can’t get anymore boring, wondering in the city on a Monday with everything closed. Sunset viewpoint yes, but not enough to make it a stop! We were staying at a lovely hostel though,Birdsong Backpacker. We had one of the private rooms, that actually consisted of two rooms and a bathroom. The common area is fully opened on the coast with a very nice kitchen, there is a balcony bif enough to have a meal or read a book in the sun.

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So as I’ve mentionned before, the first morning we woke up in the glaciers it was raining a bit… To say the least… Very foggy on top of it. We only had one day and two nights planned in Franz Joseph so we had no choice but to go for it anyway… The man from the hostel told us ‘when it rains, the glaciers is blue’, so why not? We were with that French girl then, that we met back in Punakaiki, Laurence, that had the same itinerary as us up to that point. We took all our strength to get in the shuttle that was to take us to the glacier site, armed with the huge umbrellas the hostel had landed us. Downpours of rain by the time we arrived, so much fog we couldn’t see anything. Did not matter, we did the hike as far as it is allowed, and yet, we did not see the glaciers… However, we met a group of 3 guys, the only ones on the trail. One English man that had been travelling for 8 years in a row, one crazy german guy, Oscar, who had spent the past 6 months in a tent , the only human being that I’ve met that claims to actually have seen a wild kiwi one night he was camping in the woods, and A., the cutest English man I had the opportunity to meet! They stayed at our hostel then and it is one of the best nights we had on the trip! That’s when I started to understand how amazing it is to meet people on the road, people you are going to share your entire life story and all your dreams with for just one night, wake up the next day and leave without a word of goodbye and later realize you don’t even know there names. These nameless people are the ones I remember the best. And Oscar and his rainbow world of course…

We were staying at the Chateau Backpackers, hostel that we only picked because of its name. Very cheap, free soup, what more could we ask for? The dorms were very basics, although we did have a girls only dorm, but it is one of those hostels were you just feel at home. Very homelike kitchen where they serve free soup everynight, they also have a ounge room with a huge flat TV screen and tons of DVD to borrow for free. Of course we watched the Lord of the Rings, with some free pop corn offered by the hostel for those who want to spend some time watching movies. There is a room downstairs that I called the Fire Room, with obsviously a fire and stuff to hang your wet clothes, and sofas to have a read while warming up. By the time we arrived that night after the hike in the rain, this room was unapprochable because of the horrendous smell of wet dirty socks…  The manager is lovely, there is a hot tub, there is nothing wrong I can really say about that place. Just go and try it for yourself!

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But, I took a detour by the glaciers once again when my mom came to visit, I would have hated to stay on a failure like that… The glaciers are, I find, a very unusual sight in the rest of New Zealand. I still don’t really understand what they are doing there, but what I know is that they are slowly disappearing. They say slowly but I was astouned by it actually, I think the glaciers decrease by something like 20 meters each year.

One more thing about Franz Josef: Picnics Bakery.

Cheers!

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Heading south

Hello!

Hump day YAY!!

In early September, I was lucky enough to move my little brother in his new flat, where he would start off university. We took the car, both of us and the rest of his stuff, and drove all the way down to Bidart, a good 5hours from where we live.

Bidart is in that beautiful surfing region, area code starting in 64, region that we name: le pays basque. As sad as I was to let my last brother go, after years sharing our home, watching movies and picking ridiculous little fights, I was very happy with that short week end, and I did not have any worry the day I left him in the rugby territory of france.

Bidart is a small village, very basque, counting no less than 3 frontons! A fronton is the name they give the field for that very tipycal basque sport: la pelote basque. I know what it looks like but I’ve never actually seen anyone play that game, I think that would be an experience and I hope I will have the opportunity while he is down there to see a game.

It is a surfing coast as I said, very dramatic landscape, very green with a lot of gorgeous beaches and huge houses.

If you have a chance to go down there, remember to try a gateau basque, the traditonal cherry cake from the local boulangerie.

That was a lot of Frenchness for one day, I hope I made it interesting enough!

Cheers!

M.

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Bidart's boulangerie

Bidart’s boulangerie

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One of bidart’s fronton

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Travel theme: Brown

Hello!

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The pavlova is a recipe I brought back from Australia, their national dessert being the white pavlova. It turns out that a chocolate pavlova in France has a name: un concorde.

Do I need to say it is delicious? The best part: everytime I have a bite it reminds me of that wonderful birthday night in Picton with E., when the restaurant manager, having noticed it was my brithday while checking my ID (I was turning 23 and yet, he still needed to check I was old enough for a gin and tonic!), decided to offer us a pavlova for dessert with a single candle on it…

Cheers!

M.

This post is part of the travel themes.

 

Recipe of the week

Hello sweet sunday!

I haven’t done a recipe post for such a long time… Not that I haven’t been baking, in fact, seeing the extra pounds I seem to have put up this past month, I have to admit I might have gone over the top…

I luckily noticed the other day passing through the alleys of my local supermarket some Lait Ribot (Laez Ribod as the bretons call it), I name: buttermilk! I first started to notice buttermilk in recipes when I first came back from travelling last january, while I was looking for a scone recipe. I checked it online and found a lot of French people wondering the same thing: what the hell is it?? It looks really popular in UK and US baking, but not much around here! The answer was Lait Ribot, a fermented milk very tradional in Bretagne. Outside of Bretagne, it could be found only on very special food store but I guess now, we too can have our fresh delicious scone!

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I decided to try Joy of Baking’s recipe for Cinnamon Roll Scones, recipe that I’ve been drooling over for a long time! When I lived in the US I never really liked Cinnamon Rolls, but somehow I have started liking cinnamon in the past few years. These little babies were so delicious let me tell you! Great texture and amazing taste! They looked pretty bad, as I was adding the buttermilk I quickly felt I had poured too much, but I did not want to add too much flour.

I only added the minimum she advises but even that was a bit too much. Everything else was perfect, thanks for sharing that recipe!

Cheers!

M.

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Pancakes at the Pancake Rocks!

Hello!

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I think from now on I will do the NZ posts on Saturday instead of Friday, I just don’t have the time and the energy after a week of work to do it. Sharing my experience in this country is important to me, so I feel more comfortable doing it that way, taking the time to do it properly.

After the Abel Tasman National Park, we took a bus to Punakaiki, best known as the Pancake Rocks (due to their funny shape FYI), in order to have some fresh pancakes! And pancakes we had, 16 dollars for a plate of two pancakes no less, but the fattest pancakes in the planet for sure…

We had booked a room at the YHA, which is apparently the second best hostel in town. The other one looks very fun from the outside and is located right in front of the beach. However, we chose the Te Nikeau Retreat because it was ‘in the middle of the rainforest”. It is a very different type of hostel, they have (our dreeeeeam if we win the lottery) a bungalow with a glass ceiling to see the stars as you fall asleep, and we loved it. We had a little bungalow that we shared with another 8 people I think. Their was a kitchen, bathroom and living room downstairs, an upstair living room and the dorm in sort of a mezzanine, with the mattresses on a half circle on the floor, to create sort of a sleepover party! We met a crazy English guy, we had already ran into him in the Old Macdonald’s farm a couple days before and had a fun night of board games and scrabble. He told us the craziest stories of the lamas of the old Macdonald being Shamels and miniature poneys for blind people.

They were having some road work in Punakaiki the day we arrived and apparently they had cut open a pipe by mistake, so the entire hostel was out of running water… No showers but thank god, the toilets were working! I woke up in the middle of the night with a strange feeling, something weird on my ankle, it starting itching, then burning and aching, then my head starting going nuts, I started to sweat and when I woke up the next morning I had sort of an egg that had grown on my ankle. Of course, the nearest doctor was out of walking distance. I did not want us to get away from our schedule, so I chose to leave to Franz Josef Glacier as planned with my fucked up foot, hoping I’d find a doctor there…

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But back to the story: Punakaiki! There is nothing more than the rocks in this place, and they are worth seeing I’d say. We took a stroll back to the hostel, which was a few kilometers from the rocks, and we found a huge cave on the way. We got in as far as we could even though we had no lights, it’s only as we were walking out of it that we noticed the sign telling us of all the disgusting gigantic insects hanging on the ceiling…

Someone in the Abel Tasman had advised us to take the Truman track, a little track that takes you to a beach with an amazing rock, where we watched one of the most beautiful sunset I have got to see in NZ.

I’d say Punakaiki is a nice stop on the way to the Glaciers if you are coming from Picton for instance but I wouldn’t spend more than a day really. Check it by yourself:

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Don’t confuse your path with your destination

Hello!

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Penguino ice cream in Nelson

How are things? Fall hasn’t even started and I already forgot how the sky can be so blue and the sun shine so high… Last week, I started the South Island with Picton, and today, we reach Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park.

We took the Intercity from Picton, with no idea really on where to sleep, which I find quite surprising now seeing how organized we were. I guess we must have had a phone problem, or maybe we just got lazy, I don’t really remember. All I know is that we got off the bus in Nelson where we had to spend one night before living to the National Park. There was a lot of people from different hostels with mini vans waiting at the station to pick people up, or see if they could get more customers. We randomly picked The Palace, probably because everything seemed to be free on their ad… I don’t think it was on the Lonely Planet and what a mistake! That was an amazing hostel!! One of the first place that made me really want to embrace the hostel and backpacking life. It is right in the heart of Nelson, a neat little city with lots of shops and coffee places. It is set in an old wooden house and when you get in, it’s like you’re entering your grandma’s house: the carpets, the flowery wall papers, the lamps, the tiles in the bathroom walls, etc. All the rooms have a name, we were in the Cathedral room, where we litteraly froze all night, but we did not mind everything else was perfect! The guy at reception was lovely and so helpful, he advised us to book a kayak experience in the Abel Tasman, which we did.

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The best place to get to the National Park is Marahau: it is the nearest from the start of the trail. We booked the Old Macdonald’s farm, mainly because it is also a lama farm and a little because I confused it with MacDonald’s… It was… definitly a challenge! It was more of a campsite than a hostel, we had a little bungalow with spider webs and I liked to imagine no spiders. The showers, toilets and kitchen were outside,  which made it an ‘experience’ given the temperature…

Abel Tasman is said to be the sunniest place of New Zealand, and I believe it. What a weather we had! We went on a hike in the park the first day and on the second day we started with a kayak tour to see the seals. They are such fun and cute animals, they swim around your kayak, play with your paddles and one even jumped on top of the kayak to pose in front of us! We had lunch on the beach, which seemed like a good idea till I realized the sandflies were upon me. I had shorts on so no other options than leaving as fast as possible. I know too well how sandflies can ruin a trip so not risking it again. I was a bit mad at the kayak company for taking us there when I realized the beach was called ‘sandfly bay’ but anyway, we did the way back walking, taking the sun and the view, chatting and laughing.

Cheers!

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Marahau

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extreme cooking

extreme cooking

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