A Travellerspoint blog

Attack Of The Ozone Layer... Or Lack There Of

A day at the beach in Auckland

semi-overcast 15 °C

Auckland is difficult. It is difficult to navigate. Very much so. Some of this is in part to the city having privatized its bus network, resulting is SEVERAL completely separate entities running buses (more on that later) and some of this is in part to the unique geography of the city and its surrounds. But this unique geography (the city is built on a peninsula which is also the field of 49 volcanoes, some of which are still active) also means that the city is surrounded by many fantastic beaches.

My first weekend in Auckland was fortunate enough to fall on one where the local couch surfing group was planning a beach outing. Sunday afternoon was spent BBQing and relaxing on Orewa beach, which is just north of Auckland.

DSCF2455.jpg

The day was not very hot, and actually quite windy so I didn't partake in any of the water activities, although a brave group of couch surfers decided to take a raft out onto the water for some recreation and due to the strong wind and the receding tides had to be later rescued.

DSCF2451.jpg
Thanks for bringing the boat back guys.

I learned one very important lesson during my day at the beach. A science related lesson. Apparently the ozone layer is thinnest over New Zealand. and it is also at its weakest during New Zealand's summer, so despite the weather not being very hot, I still managed to get an epic sun burn. Chest, face, neck, and somehow... only one of my legs.

Luckily, since my luggage had still not yet been found and returned by the airline, I had no bikini and thus my epic burn was somewhat limited. Unfortunately, the only clothes I had were those which I wore on the plane. Perhaps not your first choice in beach attire.

DSCF2467.jpg
These are my beach going shoes. Obviously.

Posted by Jadabond 01:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland orewa Comments (0)

Lost Luggage, and the Soundtrack for a Plane Crash

A step by step guide

How to file a lost luggage claim with US Air:

1) To go baggage services, be referred to ticketing counter
2) Go to ticketing counter, be referred to baggage services
3) Go to baggage services, be referred to next airline
4) Go to Pacific air, be referred to baggage services in Auckland
5) Call US Air. Be told that claim must be filed with US Air, Pacific Air, AND Auckland baggage services or else no action can be taken
6) Go to US Air, be told not to file a claim
7) Cry
8) Stamp feet
9) Eat chocolate bar
10) Repeat
11) Fly to Auckland
12) File a lost baggage claim with Auckland baggage services
13) Cross fingers
14) Wait

The moral of the story is:
Everything that US Airways tells you is wrong, absolutely and completely wrong. Don't believe a word they say. Keep all your receipts. And if possible, do not, ever, fly with them.

However, my experience with Pacific Air was extremely good! Not only did the depart on time, AND arrive on time, but they were also genuinely friendly. Although they did not seem to process my vegetarian meal request. Which is OK, because only Air Canada can seem to get that one right.

I have one amazing talent when it come to taking airplanes. It's sleeping. I can sleep through even the most uncomfortable of experiences. Just ask any of the people that I have flown Ryan Air with. Not only can I sleep in a cramped plastic seat, but I can also sleep through both take off and landing. Although, on my flight to Fiji, I did wake up once. This was due to extreme turbulence. And considering that I can previously slept through the take off of this same flight, that is really saying a lot for the turbulence. I looked outside the window and saw the most vibrantly terrifying lightening display that I have ever witnessed.

Coming to the instant conclusion that I was obviously about to die, I decided that the only thing I could really do in this moment was to choose the soundtrack to my death.

Caribou - Swim

Posted by Jadabond 23:03 Archived in USA Comments (1)

A Comedy of Errors - at 30,000 feet

Sometimes you just need to find the joy in small places

all seasons in one day
View Moving to New Zealand on Jadabond's travel map.

Its 1:15 am, and yet I don't feel the slightest bit tired. Even though I am a hardcore morning person. And even though I have been going through the rigours of travel all day long. Why am I not tired? Blame it on the adrenaline rush.

I left quite early from the neighbourhood of Chelsea in NYC so that I could get to La Guardia through public transportation. This was actually just as easy as taking the airport shuttle, as I would have still needed to take a metro to get to the shuttle anyways. The only difference - it cost me only $2.25, or one token on a metro card.

Once I got to La Guardia, things got a little more difficult. I was several time misdirected as to which terminal building to be in, and after quite some time walking around I was feeling pretty frustrated and exhausted. All my possessions are only in two backpacks, but yet those backpacks combine to be about 3/4 of my body weight. Suddenly, I didn't feel like I needed all those pairs of sunglasses after all.

After about thirty minutes of working out with my backpack, I found the check in for US Airlines, and proceeded through security. It was here that the trouble began. My flight was delayed almost two hours. One hour before we boarded, and about one hour after we were on the plane due to air traffic. I wasn't as stressed out as I could have been at this time due to my mostly being asleep through the whole delay. However, by the time I got to my first port of transfer, Washington DC, I realized that I had missed my next flight. I also found out that my baggage had been put onto an earlier flight (which apparently I was not allowed to do with myself) and that it had make its connection without me.

The very friendly woman (sarcasm) at special services booked me onto a new flight to Charlotte North Carolina (my second point of transfer) and assured me that I would make my connection to London because the London flight had been delayed. She even moved me into a seat in the very front so that I could make a quick get a way once the plane landed.

This probably would have worked fine if there was not another plane in the dock where our plane wanted to go, causing us to be stuck on the plane waiting for twenty or so minutes... enough minutes for me to miss my flight to London.

However, during all this fate did throw me a friendly neighbour on my flight who worked wonders at taking my mind off unreasonably freaking out. I even managed to not burst into tears when I found out that the next flight to London was not until the next evening.... just enough time for me to miss my flight to New Zealand.

The best part of this story is this. My visa has a time period in which you must enter the country. It is a wide time period.... it is a year. But of course, I pushed my limits on this and had booked myself to arrive the day before it expired. Firstly, I called immigration in New Zealand to see if I could extend my visa by a day to which I was told I could not. I then called Singapore Air (my carrier from London to Auckland) to see if I could move onto the next flight which would still get me to New Zealand just in time. I was told I could....if I upgraded to business class.... for the paltry sum of $4000 dollars. (about half my yearly income as a student) This is where the tears came. I have to admit, I cry when I'm frustrated. I can't help it. But I did get a hug from a random middle aged man and a pat on the back from his wife, so that made me feel better.

Finally, I gave in to the idea that I would just have to buy a new flight. Thankfully, wonderful friends back home (thanks Matt and Neal) consoled me and helped me figure out a new strategy. Matt even took it upon himself to call up US Airways and give them a stern talking to until they conceded to reroute me to LA for free. Meanwhile, I spoke with Singapore Air and got a partial refund for my flight.

So the new strategy is this: Sleep in the Charlotte airport, and then fly to LA in the morning. Then I change to Pacific Airlines and fly from LA to Auckland in the evening. The gives US Airways plenty of time to delay my flight, lose my luggage, and find it again without me missing yet another flight.

So despite all this, I end up still arriving in Auckland at almost the exact same time as before. And even though it was a pretty shitty day at parts, it did have its joy in small places. My friends really came through for me, I made a new friend, and I get to totally justify consoling myself with a big pile of chocolate bars.

Posted by Jadabond 22:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Halloween in NYC

overcast 5 °C

Halloween in NYC is an all out event, and I was lucky to be there when Halloween fell on a weekend. Of course, I had not properly planned out a costume. I would like to blame my lack of organization on the fact that I was busy getting ready for my travels, or perhaps even on my luggage situation,, but really, let's be serious. I never have good costumes. Well, I should say creative. This year I went as a 1920's flapper girl, because lets face it, all I had to buy were fake eyelashes and a headband with a feature. Because of course, the dress is a part of my regular wardrobe rotation.

I just wanted a costume which included fake eyelashes

I just wanted a costume which included fake eyelashes

Our Couch Surfing host went as PeeWee Herman. Easiest costume ever, as he only really needed to add a red bow tie to the elements he already owned, but you should have seen the reactions he got walking down the street. I have never seen a more popular costume.

Matt and PeeWee Herman (Rob)

Matt and PeeWee Herman (Rob)

One mistake we made in NYC was neglecting to confirm our Halloween plans in advance. A month ago there were tons of parties to choose from for extraordinarily cheap prices, but on the day of the event the prices would jump considerably. For example one party went from $35 to $135. In the end we went for one of the cheaper of the last minute events - a party at Webster hall which cost $60 to get in. Let's face it. I was not too wild about paying $60 dollars to go to a party which I had pre decided would be lame. So you couldn't imagine my (secret) delight when the bouncer also decided that I should not go to the party either.

DSCF2443.jpg

After some arguing, I realized that the bouncer would never come around to the fact that my ID is valid and government issued. He didn't even care that I can use this particular ID to board domestic flights. The hilarious thing is that I needed just as much documentation to get this ID as I did to get my new passport.... but regardless.... I saved $60.

So after giving up on Webster hall, we wandered into a bar just off Union Square to have overly priced drinks. There I became the centre of attention of some East Indian guys who proceeded to buy me tequila shots until I was drunk out of my mind and beet red in the face.

Note: All that is needed to achieve that affect is two shots. (Thanks Asian genetics)

The moral of the story is, if you are going to a night spot and want to make sure you actually get in, take your passport along. But if you don't really want to go, just take along your dodgiest looking piece of ID, thanks MLCC.

Posted by Jadabond 21:08 Archived in USA Tagged halloween nyc Comments (0)

New York on the Cheap

overcast 8 °C

New York is one of those cities where person A and person B can engage in the exact same activities and yet one person can end up paying vastly less than the other.... with a little creativity and time management. New York is a big city, and like all big cities, there are tons of great free or cheap activities if you look in the right spots.

For example, almost all of the major museums or galleries have either free days, or days where you can "pay what you wish". For example, Friday evenings from 16:00 - 20:00, MoMA is free (go a bit earlier to get in Q), and the Met is pay what you wish at all times. For a full list of how to do museums on the cheap check out this website. I've actually been rather lazy on the museum front. I went to the Met and MoMA, but nothing else. I actually did put in a good effort in going to MoMA PSI in Queens, but got rather ill and decided to rest up instead.

For general trip planning, and for a list of free events in New York try NYC Go. A great way to really learn details about the city that would otherwise be almost impossible to figure out, is to attend one of the many free walking tours. You can find a great list of them here. We did the tour of Grand Central Terminal. The tour was about 90 minutes long, and considering that it was a tour about a train station is was actually EXTREMELY interesting.

For example, there is a small hole in the ceiling from when they erected a massive rocket INSIDE the terminal to calm American's fears when the Soviet Union put Sputnik into orbit.

But my favourite free thing that I did in NYC has something to do with this statue.

Some well known monument, or something

Some well known monument, or something

You *can* take the ferry to Ellis island to see the statue of liberty....but that would require standing in a GIGANTIC Q and also paying $12. But if you don't care about whether you are actually standing on the same piece of land as the statue or merely quite close by to it, you can take the Staten Island ferry, which is free. The ferry passes right by the statue, and then once you get to Staten Island you can either explore its attractions, or just turn right back around and take the free ferry back to Manhattan. Also, for free, you will get amazing views such as these ones:

Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry

Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry

DSCF2433

DSCF2433

Posted by Jadabond 17:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 33) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 »