Tag: trip log

Trip Log: Around the World in Fourteen Days

This trip log gathers all of my live Facebook posts from my trip to the Society for Ecotourism Conference in South Korea, Stockholm, and through the Netherlands.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 1-3:

The past couple of days have been so busy! I flew from LAX to Seoul (13 hr flight- omg way too long). The next day I presented at the International Society for Ecotourism conference. And then today I spent the whole day touring the wetlands and ecotourism projects of Ansan, S. Korea.

One of the biggest tidal power plants in the world! Ansan, S. Korea (c) ABR 2017

Day 4:

Lots of times people tell me to “let go of my fears” and “stop worrying.” But today all that anxiety saved me. See, I was worried that Ansan was too far away from the airport, so the first night I was here, I booked another place two train stops away from the airport for my last night. That meant that today after lunch, it was time to get in a taxi and move to my new place. Only every taxi refused to take me! It was too far for them. It took me at least two hours by train to get over here. Thank God I didn’t need to do this tomorrow or I would have surely missed my flight.


Day 5:

No picture with this post, because you don’t even want to know what I look like right now. Hahaha. Anyway, I am in the middle of trying to get from Asia to Europe. I had a 5 hour flight from Seoul, a 12 hour (!!!) layover in Bangkok, and once that is over an 11 hr flight to Sweden. Thank goodness for transit hotels, that is all I am saying right now.

Day 6:

I finally made it to Sweden yesterday! We didn’t do too much (besides taking an accidentally long nap). Went close to downtown for some amazing vegetarian food, and stopped by the photography museum. It is beautiful but cold here!

Beautiful Stockholm (c) ABR 2017

Day 7:

We hiked through 9 verdant miles of forest in Tyresta National Park today and then rewarded ourselves with some delicious dinner in Stockholm. Now I’m falling asleep to the sound of rain on the windows.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 8:

Today we explored Stockholm. First, we stopped for some delicious chai before going to the open-air museum, Skansen. This place has lots of cultural exhibits, but due to how quiet it was, we hung out in the zoo section of the park. There were lots of active animals here, with great enclosures and lots of enrichment. Then we got lunch at the Spirits Museum where I tried some alcohol that “wrinkled my tongue” with its bitterness. Finally, because everyone said we should go, we went to the Vasa Museum to see the giant boat (it was worth it).

The famous Vasa (c) ABR 2017

Day 9:

We arrived in the Netherlands and in true Nightborn style we went straight to the Dunes of Loon and Drunen National Park. Really cool to see dunes in the middle of the forest.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 10:

I went to the high point of the Netherlands, visited downtown Tilburg, and saw the Van Gogh bike trail in one epic, mini-road trip. I’m ready to sleep in tomorrow!

(c) ABR 2017

Day 11:

Today we explored the “Little Venice” of the Netherlands (Giethoorn) in a little blue and white boat. We had to navigate through a reedy jungle of a national park, and survive boat jams in the town waterways. It was quite the adventure.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 13:

We’ve done a ton in the past two days. We walked through Amsterdam yesterday and stopped by the Van Gogh Museum. We attempted to see the Anne Frank Museum as well, but we weren’t able to go because we didn’t have reservations. Today we rode bikes through De Hoge Veluwe National Park (saw more Van Gogh), and went to the beach at Noorwijk. The Netherlands is an amazing place. There are still things I wish we had time to see, but tomorrow we begin the long journey home.

Free bikes come prepared for families! (c) ABR 2017

Day 14:

We drove the 1.5 hours to Eindhoven this morning, said farewell to our trusty car, Sasha, and hopped on the plane back to Stockholm. We enjoyed an evening walking around the city, and finally got the waffles we have been craving this whole trip at a beautiful cafe in the old city.

Our trusty car from the Netherlands, Sasha. <3 (c) ABR 2017

Expedition South Island: Day 6 and Beyond: Driving, driving, driving… and resting in Christchurch

One last view of Oban (c) ABR 2017

The morning after my day sliding down stairs and worrying about a broken hand, I was up before the sun and out on the dock for my boat ride back to the mainland. After an hour on the cold boat, and a quick walk through some very frigid wind, I was ready to climb back into my little car.

However, after about three hours in my little car, that feeling had died off a bit. See, I had about 8 hours of driving to do to get from Bluff to Christchurch, and those hours feel so much longer here than in the US. Simply put (and the signs here will remind you of this fact) the roads in New Zealand are different. They are curvy and they are narrow, with only one lane on either side. That means that when you are tired from driving for 3+ hours, you might become more tired when a giant semi-truck turns out in front of you and you are suddenly trapped going half as fast as you’d like.

Christchirch Botanical Gardens (c) ABR 2017

Needless to say, I was exhausted when I finally pulled into my Christchurch hotel, and ready for some rest after a surprisingly stressful week (wonderful as well).

The day after I arrived in town, I moved a little closer to the city central, and took a walk down to the botanical gardens. Unfortunately, I chose a cold, windy day to walk down there, so I ended up retreating into the Conservatory. I fell in love with the rows and rows of potted plants, and the beauty of the greenhouse’s antique architecture. I even managed to find a saguaro in there, which was a nice little reminder of home.

Found me a bit of home! Saguaro! (c) ABR 2017

Getting out of the wind for a bit made me decide that walking around downtown wasn’t an option at the moment, so once I peeled out of the conservatory, I walked right over to the Canterbury museum. This particular Christchurch attraction is free, so even though I am not a huge fan of museums, I knew I didn’t have anything to lose. Turns out, the Canterbury museum is just my kind of institution, i.e. they are very good at immersive exhibits. I especially loved the exhibit on the Paua Shell House (which I had no idea what that was when I walked up), where they showed a movie about the history and story of the house that became an attraction in the southern town of Bluff when the residents started pinning polished Paua shells to their walls. It was quite an enchanting little story, and after watching the movie, it was really delightful to go into the next room and get to experience a recreation of that Kiwi landmark.

Paua Shell House recreation at the Canterbury Museum (c) ABR 2017

When the weather was better, I did get the chance to look around the Botanical gardens more. This is a great place to walk and explore; there are beautiful ponds, different groupings of plants, and even some species from my home desert.

Cool art in downtown Christchurch (c) ABR 2017

As for seeing downtown Christchurch, I did walk around a bit, but there wasn’t much to see on your own. I would definitely suggest the gardens and the museum for anyone looking for some cheap things to see, but if you want to get the most out of visiting the city itself, definitely grab a tour.

What did I see before Christchurch? The beautiful (if slippery) Steward Is!

Expedition South Island: Day 3: Mt. Aspiring Inspires

Total Distance Driven: 333km
Total Time Driving: 4hrs

Miles Hiked: 3.2 miles
Time Hiking: 1hr

Today was an interesting day, a mix of good and bad. When I was leaving Twizel, the tiny town where I stayed the night, I spotted two girls on the side of the road, smiling and waving, and looking desperate for a ride. Judging them by their clothes, and knowing I had room, I decided to pick them up. Not something I ever imagined doing, but it turned out fine enough. They were exchange students form the States and their car had broken down while they were exploring Mt Cook. I got them as far as a junction near Wanaka, and then they were on their way.

Thunder Creek Falls (c) ABR 2017

I followed their advice and bought a meat pie from a little bakery called Doughbin. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking the flavor I got (my bad…).

After that, it was an hour drive up to Thunder Creek Falls, the furthest point into Mt. Aspiring NP that I was planning on going before turning around. The journey into this particular NP, which I had no knowledge about and thusly, no expectations, was jaw dropping. The southern alps here have an almost reddish hew, and there’s not nearly as much snow on their peaks as Mt. Cook and the mountains surrounding it. This means that the dark skin of the rock shows through above the bush line; the mountains are colorful and hard to look away from.

(c) ABR 2017

To make the park even more awesome, Haast pass, where you drive through on this side of the NP, is at the base of a gorge that is covered in rainforest! It is one of the coolest things to be able to climb through such a densely green forest, and look out at alpine mountains.

My only regret is that I didn’t have time for some proper tramping up into the mountains, but I’m sure that would have killed me at this point. A steep hike up to Haast viewpoint left me feeling sick and exhausted. I don’t know if it was the altitude, the fact that my body is busy with female business, or if I am still sick from the other day. In any case, it left me wondering what the rest of my trip is going to look like. Part of me really wants to go to the Chatham Islands, because I think this is my chance (and I’ve already spent a good amount of money on it), but there are so many things about the way I planned that leg of my journey that are stressing me out. Feeling sick makes me worried about attempting it. I have no idea what to do.

(c) ABR 2017

What’s the best outdoor stop for a South Island, NZ Roadtrip? Mt Cook!
Fiordlands National Park was my favorite stop! See what hiking in here was like.

Expedition South Island, NZ: Day 2: Seeing Mt. Cook

Mt Cook at the end of Hooker Valley trail (c) ABR 2017

Total distance driven: 399km
Total time driving: 5hrs

Miles hiked: 6.2
Time hiking: 2hrs

I left Christchurch around 9a, and made it up to Mt. Cook National Park around 1p. Much of the drive was through flat country, but the final section climbed up into the hills, and then opened out around some alpine lakes at the base of some insanely beautiful mountains.

Seeing Mt. Cook from far away was awe inspiring. It dominated the valley even from miles away, and its snow capped peak looked sharp and foreboding. The gravel car park at the trailhead for Hooker Valley looked full by the time I got there, although it was not hard to park. The trail itself was likewise busy but not overcrowded.

As the brochures on the NP suggest, Hooker Valley was not a difficult trail, however, it was a slight but steady climb for about 3 miles. The track follows a stream that comes down from the mountains, and there are three major bridge crossings on the way. The view from each was exceptional, and the water flowing under them was a chalky, blue color that was hard to take my eyes off of, even on the swaying bridges. The rest of the trail winds its way through grassy hills, until it ends at the edge of a light blue lake, with Mt. Cook at the other end, towering over everything else.

It was a peaceful walk, despite the crowds. I did hear some cracking ice at one point, and I found myself looking nervously up at the mountains with hanging curtains of snow. I have no idea how far avalanches can travel, but I never doubt nature. Luckily, I arrived back at my car, tired, and ready to head into town for some rest.

Where do you start for a trip like this? Find out with Day 1’s Log.
Where’s the next destination? Read about Mt. Aspiring in Day 3.

Expedition South Island, NZ: Day 1: Arriving in Christchurch

Looking down on Christchurch from Mt Vernon Park (c) ABR 2017

Total time flying: 16hrs
Layover time: 11hrs

I decided not to splurge, and stayed in LAX for my entire 9 hour layover. The international terminal wasn’t a horrible place to be, and I even found a quiet corner to lay down in and get some work done.

The flight to New Zealand ended up being hellish. Either I just had some extremely painful bloating, or I was actually sick. Either way, it started just an hour into the 12 hr flight, and it was torturous. I’m dreading the trip home at this point. I have a rental car on stand by in LA, if I get off on the way home and can’t stand to get back in the air.

(c) ABR 2017

I was still in pain and utterly exhausted when I got to Christchurch, but my hotel didn’t allow check in until 2p. So, I drove over to Mt. Vernon park and walked the Sugarloaf Circuit. It was very nice, all things considered. But I was damn glad to get to my hotel room, and I didn’t leave once I check in. Ended up sleeping for 11 hours.

What happened next? Find out! Day Two

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