Addicted to Travel

Hello, my name is Carmen, and I'm addicted to travelling. 

Yes - I just got back from the Baltics and Scandinavia. 

And yes - I just booked a trip to Spain and Portgual for October. 

My excuse - the flight was less than $500. On KLM.

It is going to practically be cheaper than staying at home. Or something like that. 

Anyone wanna donate to a GoFundMe to support my travel habit?

Didn't think so. 


I'm less than three weeks from my cruise. 

I've started pre-pre-packing. 

Which will soon be followed by pre-packing, packing and then finally re-packing. 

I've double checked all of my accommodation reservations for pre- and post-cruise.

I've bought a number of tickets for my shore excursions to beat the lineups that will inevitably occur when a cruise filled with 3000 people invade a small Norwegian fjord community of 250 residents. 

I've exchanged some money. Yes - I'm one of those... I don't like going to a country without a bit of cash in the local currency. It's paid off in the past - I was able to pay my fine on Bulgarian transit with cash - I'd imagine a night in the clink would've followed had I not been able to. 

Now it's just a matter of time. 18 sleeps to be exact. 

The Mindset of a Fat Girl

I've been overweight pretty much my whole life. 

Not "My 600-lb Life" overweight, but overweight none the less. 

In the past five years, I've lost and gained the same 25-30 lbs no less than three times. 

It's simple really - the "better" or "more healthy" I eat, while limiting my calories to 1500 or less per day, I lose weight. 

I get to my goal, get complacent, and then stop doing what I know works. And that's tracking my food intake. 

Tonight, I lost a floor hockey final game. It sucked, but life goes on. On the way home, my first thought was "what could I have as a snack when I get home"... but I wasn't even hungry. It's like I wanted to to reward myself for working out for an hour with a treat. 

Even after losing 20+ lbs since the new year, I still have the mindset of a fat girl. Food is a reward. Food is a treat. 

But it doesn't need to be. I've got some good healthy recipes in my repertoire (thanks Pinterest). 

I need to start thinking about food as what it is - sustinence. While the odd treat is important (so I don't binge), I don't need treats. 

I need to stop yo-yo dieting. I feel better at the weight I'm at, and I know I'll feel better with another 10 lbs off. I need to be more active throughout the year, not just when the sports I normally play are in season. 

I need to give up my fat girl mindset. 

But it's hard. 

I'm a work in progress. 

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I may have been on this earth for almost 39 years, but there's still a lot I need to learn. 

I need to learn to not let things that are out of my control bother me. 

I need to not instantly react to things that bother me.

I need to learn that I'm paid to work seven hours a day, and should focus any of my time outside those seven hours on anything but work. 

I can't make people like me, and I can't make them proud of my accomplishments, even when they should be. 

There are many people with whom I don't agree with and don't like, and I can't change them into someone that I do like. 

And most of all, I can't waste time sweating the small stuff. It's the small stuff that'll kill me. 


My next trip abroad is in 69 days. I'll be adding a shwack of countries to my total number of countries visited, and like all of my other trips, I've entered planning mode earlier than most. 

I'll be spending 16 days on a cruise, followed by a couple of 24-hour whirlwind trips to cities I've never visited. I love the choices of airlines in Europe. For about $200 I've booked flights from Copenhagen to Riga, Riga to Vilnius and the Vilnius back to Copenhagen. I couldn't fly return to the next biggest city in Canada for double that. 

As per my last cruise (so the usual), I won't be participating in cruise ship excursions. The thought of being on a 52-passenger bus with a bunch of old people (face it, I'll be on the younger end of the age spectrum) makes me want to vomit. 

Instead, for the couple of places I'm doing tours (like St. Petersburg where you have to go on a tour to get around needing to apply for a Russian visa), I've booked tours that max out at 16-20 people - a smaller group means (in theory) you can do more as the tour guide isn't spending their time herding kittens. 

69 days... and then I'll take off for Copenhagen and land the next morning on my 39th birthday. A happy birthday to me!

Shit Disturbing

I caused some shit at work this past week. 

One incident was totally and completely my fault, and I'll take whatever (within reason) reprimand that comes my way. I was an ass, and it'll take a long time to fix it. But I've tried, and the best I can try and do is learn and move on. 

The second was basically getting shit on by someone in another department over email. That of course was forwarded up as high as it could in my department. The only thing I can really learn in this situation is to do less, because doing more means stepping on toes to get things done. 

But, I guess we have to learn something from every situation. Sometimes you learn things that can be put to good, and other times you learn that sometimes it just isn't worth the effort. 

It's sad, because I like putting in the effort. It's what makes things interesting. But it sure ain't worth getting in shit for. 

Lesson learned. 

Back on the Blogging Bandwagon...

So, by now, all of my faithful readers have disappeared, because you all think I got so lost in New Zealand, that I'd never be able to blog again. 

Seriously - my last post is a recap of New Zealand... almost a year ago. I didn't blog about Australia, or anything since then. I haven't blogged about my next vacation, about how the Canucks are killing me this season, or... well, anything. 

I need this outlet. I live by myself - which is fine, and as an introvert, I value my alone time. But it means a lot of time to think. I already suffer from mild depression and anxiety (and take medication for it), but when I have bad thoughts, I have no one to talk to them about, so they just keep bouncing around in my head. 

So - I'm going to start using this forum again as an avenue to get my thoughts out, as random as they are. Maybe that will allow my brain to shut down every once in awhile. 


New Zealand - the South Island

Boy... have I ever neglected the updates!! I guess an update of New Zealand's South Island is better late than never... right?

Day 11 - Christchurh (Kiakoura)

I drove two hours north of Christchurch for a dolphin boat tour... only to have the tour cancelled because the morning group didn't see any. So... yeah. Stupid animals. The drive itself was pretty nice, I had fish and chips for lunch, and took my time driving back to Christchurch, after viewing some baby seals frolicking in a stream. 

Day 12 - Christchurch

A day hanging out in Christchuch. There was an earthquake that devastated the city about four years ago... and the downtown area is still not even close to being rebuilt. It looks... wartorn. I visited the Cardboard Cathedral and had a great little tour by a volunteer, and also visited the International Antarctic Centre. Is it weird that I want to work on Antarctica for a summer season?

Day 13 - Christchurch to Oamaru

I'm pretty sure I found the weirdest town in New Zealand... Oamaru. It's probably the steampunk capital of the Southern Hemisphere, and steampunk is something I just don't get. At all. There was a steampunk convention or something the weekend I was there... and those people are... interesting. The Steampunk Musuem did have this cool room with a mini light show of sorts, but the rest looked like junk. I also wanted to see the little blue penguins, but the little jerks decided not to come ashore that night. I'm 0/2 on paid wildlife excursions so far. 

Day 14 - Oamaru to Dunedin

On the way from Oamaru to Dunedin I stopped at the Moekeri Boulders... round boulders in a rather small area on a beach. They were extremely interesting to see, and I managed to get to the site right before a family of about a zillion people showed up and started climbing all over the rocks! I arrived in Dunedin on the Queens Birthday holiday, so the town was pretty dead. Until about 11pm - when I got to experience a 4.7 earthquake, that was only 5km deep and centred less than 30km away. That meant for a lot of swaying! No aftershocks though!

Day 15 - Dunedin to Invercargill

Cadbury World Chocoate Factory!! We weren't allowed pictures inside, but we did get samples! Saw how some of the chocolates were made, and saw some being packaged. It was a pretty decent way to spend a couple of hours - apparently it's the last Cadbury factory that does actual tours of the working part of the factory. 

Day 16 - Invercargill to Te Anau

Since I'd seen the most northern tip of the North Island, I figured I'd have to see he most southern tip of the South Island, in Bluff. The drive into Te Anau was decent... the roads on the South Island are definitely straighter than the North Island! 

Day 17 - Milford Sound

A couple of people told me, that since I grew up when I did, Milford Sound would be a bit of a letdown. It was beautiful, and I got to see a friend I went to university with for about ten minutes, but the people were right... glad I went though!

Day 18 - Te Anau to Queenstown

Bungy jumping! Yup - I did it. And it was awesome. Well, once I'd finished saying "Scheizer" - apparently when I jumped I turned German - and realized that I'd live, that is!  I highly recommend it. I also went up the Queenstown Gondola to watch the sunset - a beautiful time to go!

Day 19 - Queenstown to Auckland

It's kind of hard to believe that is spent almost three weeks in New Zealand and hadn't spent much time in the largest city. I watched my first Super Rugby game... sadly the Auckland Blues suck, but the experience was great!

Day 20 - Auckland

In all honesty, I didn't really find the city of Auckland all that great. I'd already gone to the top of the Sky Tower, and I didn't really have much else on my to do list. I walked down to the wharf area, walked around the shopping area of downtown... and just took it easy. I discovered that Dunkin' Donuts has the largest takeaway teas available in the country, but other than that, the day was a little meh. 

Day 21 - Auckland to Melbourne

Goodbye New Zealand, hello Australia!!

Next I'll update my trip to Uluru... damn that was amazing, and well worth the expense!

New Zealand - the North Island

Kia ora!

It's been almost two weeks since I first landed in Auckland after a rather uneventful, but exceptionally long flight. I'm lucky I can sleep on planes, and I'm also lucky that I managed a successful bid on an upgrade to premium economy on my Air New Zealand flight. 

Here's a recap of my travels around the North Island...

Day 1 - Auckland to Hamilton

This was pretty much just a "get acclimatized to driving on the wrong side of the road" and find a place to sleep day. I did manage a drive out to Bridal Veil Falls for a quick bit of sightseeing. 

Day 2 - Hamilton to Taupo

I visited the Kiwi House... which was nice, but with the stupid Kiwi birds being nocturnal they won't let you take a picture of them (I'm assuming that's because most stupid tourists don't know how to turn the flash off on their cameras). Then it was off to the Wiatomo and Ruakuri Caves. In all honesty - if you have to pick one cave, pick Ruakuri. Better caves, small groups, and you can take pictures. The Wiatomo caves were very touristy and you can't take pictures. 
The pool of water in that picture was some sort of pond used in the Lord of the Rings. 

Day 3 - Taupo to Rotarua

The morning started off with a boat cruise on Lake Taupo out to a large Maori carving that you can only get to by boat. We had great weather, so the pictures turned out really well. 

Day 4 - Rotorua

Today I did a 5km hike around the Waimangu Volcanic Valley during the day, and then saw a Te Po in the evening. 
The Te Po was great... I saw a cultural show (including the famous Haka), and ate food cooked in a hangi, a pit in the ground. The Maori culture is fascinating!

Te Puia is also home to a couple of geysers, that we got to see at night enjoying a hot chocolate on a naturally heated staircase. 

Day 5 - Rotorua to Whangarei

Hobbiton day! Also the longest driving day yet...

Day 6 - Whangarei to Paihia

I decided to go north of Auckland, rather than drive down to Wellington. Stopped in a town called Kawakawa that is know for a public bathroom designed by some eccentric artist that apparently likes to break pottery...

Day 7 - Paihia to Kaitaia

Visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds - this is where the original treaty between the Maori and the British was signed. Saw another cultural show (with another Haka), and wandered the grounds. I also decided to take a three hour detour to see Cape Reinga - awesome decision. The Cape is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet, and is pretty much the most northern part of New Zealand. Almost lost my camera a few times from wind gusts though!

Day 8 - Kaitaia to Dargaville

A must sea on this part of the island is Tane Mahuta - the second largest Kauri tree still standing. I expected it to be taller... since it is about 1700 years old!!

Day 9 - Dargaville to Auckland

I stopped at the Kauri museum on the way back to the city, and was treated to an excellent chat with an older gentleman that worked there. We talked trees, history and more trees. It's talks like that one that have made this trip so far. 

Day 10 - Auckland to Christchurch

I explored Auckland a bit in the morning before my flight to Christchurch. Because the weather was so good, I decided to head up the Auckland Sky Tower, since the last time is been through the city, it was so foggy I couldn't even tell there was a tower, and didn't want to chance crappy weather when I returned in a week. 

In all, a great first leg of the trip. 1960 km driving on some of the windiest roads I've ever driven on, eight different accommodations, and three waterfalls seen!

I'm currently on the South Island, and will write all about it when I'm back in Auckland next week.