Greetings from the future. The other side of the world. From Down Under! We have made it and i’ll bet you’ve been wondering how it was to fly for 14 hours with 2 young children. That part wasn’t too shabby, but overall it was quite a taxing process. Here’s the story:
On a Tuesday we casually headed to the airport mid morning in -20, cold snowy weather, with josh’s parents toting some of our cargo in their vehicle, as ours was full. Yup, we have a lot of stuff for 4 months; 2 large roller suitcases, a giant but collapsible double stroller, 2 large carseats, 3 carry-ons, and last but not least a big box (containing sporting equipment like bike helmets, lifejackets, wet suits, a travel crib and a baby hiking pack).
Things were fairly flawless until it seemingly took forever for our plane to take off… Finally the pilot announced that “the brakes seemed a little bit stuck”. It was quite the rigamarole, of de-icying, taxi-ing, parking, waiting, trying to taxi, waiting, waiting, going back to the gate. After a total of 4 extra hours we were able to jump planes at the next gate but had to start all over again. SIgh. Our one hour easy flight took about 6 instead. But, we made it out alive. LOL.
In Vancouver we were staying at one of the airport hotels, which was a splurge- intentionally creating a relaxing and easy going place to hang for 24 hours till the next LONG flight. However, we didn’t get there till after the girls bedtimes, so we didn’t even get supper. The night was a bit tumultuous as the toddler was too wired to sleep, and the baby didn’t have a clue where she was and kept waking in the night.
The next morning was more relaxing. Baby slept, Ry and I went swimming, and things were great until NO ONE (not even the baby) would have an afternoon nap (not only had we counted on having one, we also paid extra time in our room to do so). Discouraged but ready to get on with things we headed to the check in counter where they informed us we couldn’t get on the flight without booking our flight out of New Zealand first! Note to self: a cruise booked from Australia wasn’t enough for them. This process (including getting confirmation to prove it) took the entire 2 hour check-in window (this time we were hoping to enjoy, relax, and eat snacks at a swanky airport lounge after security!!). We had to rush through security and right to the gate where I had just enough time to pee and fill up water. No food. No baby changing. Nothing. Let me tell you about disappointment.
The flight on Air New Zealand’s sky couch was well worth it. The sky couch is basically an entire row of seats with a fold up foot rest, which converts the entire seating area into a bed. Initially we had only booked one, but the logistics of sleeping with 2 kids on that thing was a bit scary for me and we freaked and bought a second one with a couple of days to spare. That way Josh had the toddler, and I had the baby. It was perfect. We all “slept” about 8 hours of the 14… I do use the term sleep loosely, as we were restless and lightly snoozing with cramped up legs wrapped around the kids space. But, we made it, and we the parents feel pretty decent.
Getting the rental van was a breeze compared to past experiences. Plus everyone is SO super friendly. While Josh was off getting the car, two separate people helped me move our luggage to various points within the airport. Lots of smiles, and small talk comes easy with the local residents.
What a relief to finally be over here, and after months of looking forward to this trip, we were all in good spirits. The kids were fantastic on the car ride to the “bach” and Zo even slept. Driving on the wrong side and navigating a new city on just a bit of sleep can be a real two person challenge. Things would have gotten pretty real if we had to deal with any yelling, or screaming along the way. Phew!
Our bach and beach
We’ve settled into our little “bach” (a cute little flat with 2 bedrooms and little kitchen) just a couple of houses up from a great beach in Takapuna (just a tad north of Auckland). So far expectations of adventuring have been low. We’ve just planned to adjust to the time change, with a race to see who can convert the quickest. It’s 20 hours ahead of home, which actually means 4 hours behind (but the next day) so its not too bad actually.
Every day we’ve spent time playing on the beach. We pull up a piece of shade under a big bushy tree and the girls have a blast in the sand together. So far Ry has eaten more sand than Zo- which i wouldn’t have guessed would happen. Ry has made friends with the little grand daughter of the Bach owners, who is only a month older than Ry. After a couple of plays on the beach and on our patio she calls Mia her best friend and last night they were plotting for a sleepover!
The Zo has gotten used to being a nighttime milk monster, which we’re now trying to break her of this (by having dad put her down to sleep) now that she’s getting used to her travel cot. Last night she slept through the night! YAY! The first 2 mornings we were up at 3:30…. today was 6am. Ry was a disaster area the first couple of days as she was SO beyond tired that she couldn’t sit still, refused to nap at all costs, and basically appeared to have been possessed by sleep deamons. With puffy eyes and a devious, defiant stare that made you clench your teeth, we had to handle every interaction with care so as not to infuriate the monster inside. By day 3 we are now pushing back to our happy place, and yesterday was very helpful as both Ry and Zo fell asleep in the car after we created a prime opportunity, while cruising around the city.
Our little bach only has a shower, so the girls are bathing in a bucket. They’re loving it.
Drive into auckland – garden
Our car journey yesterday took us to Parnell Village (most shops were closed as it was Sunday, but we saw some pretty Rose Gardens) and to the Mission District (trendy looking shops and cafe’s lining the sea, where we wanted to eat but the kids were napping).
While inside the park we came across this killer tire swing. It wasn’t apart of a bigger playground structure, it was just a stand alone tire swing. I can’t image something like this would fly in a public park in Canada, someone would complain about its apparent danger. To be far though, it was a little extreme, and was positioned on a steep decline. When standing beside it, the tire was at eye level. Anyway, Ry and Josh decided it needed a go. I love the look on Ry’s face as Josh swings way out.
We also found this crazy playground. For scale look at Ry on the small slide in comparison to that tower. Those tube slides are insane, Josh rode one and lost half the skin on his arm from the friction.
We’ve gone for groceries once, which was a long process as ALL the brands are different, other things have different names. Ie. Yogurt tubes are called “suckies”! Coffee shops are one of our favourite thing to try out when we travel (note it used to be beer! haha) and the most interesting things so far is that a kids steamed milk is called a “fluffy” and they don’t know the “sunny side up” term for eggs. Yesterday for lunch I had a “toastie” which is a panini. It’s also more expensive to eat out we’ve noticed…Muffins are about $4.50 each. A mocha frappe was $6.00. Smoothie was $8.00. Ry has had pancakes at every restaurant, and Zo has eaten a lot of muffins and eggs. Who doesn’t love breakfast?!
We headed to the Auckland Zoo after Zo’s nap, and to our surprise it was very good. It’s a lot larger then the Calgary zoo, and has a huge cross section of animals. Not San Diego good, but a close second in our opinion.