Tag Archives: Solo Travel

Love Lock Bridges of the World

Hopeless romantics love Love Lock Bridges. I am one of them.

Anytime I go anywhere for the first time I love to play the tourist (ok, I love being a tourist anywhere all the time but whatever). So for my first trip to Paris I knew the Love Lock Bridge was a must. I love the story of a couple in love attaching their engraved lock to the bridge accepting the reality of even if their relationship does not last, the proof of their love remains on the bridge forever, throwing the key into the Seine never to be retrieved.

When I found my third, I finally looked it up. How many Love Lock Bridges are there in the world?? Turns out a lot, and city planners are less than pleased about it. In addition to the Parisian bridge, I have stumbled upon one in San Francisco and Wellington. Turns out they have also started in:

  • Las Vegas appropriately located at the Paris Hotel,
  • Vancouver Island, Canada,
  • Toowoombia, Australia,
  • New York City,
  • Bamberg, Germany,
  • Dublin’s Ha’Penny Bridge
  • Tacoma, Washington
  • and more according to Wikipedia’s Love Lock Page

Love Lock Bridge on the River Seine

Love Lock Bridge of San Francisco

Wellington Harbour Love Lock Bridge

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Put Your Hands in the Air Like the Glowworms Don’t Care

The best thing I have ever done in my life: Inner tubing through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Not only was it my favorite part of my New Zealand trip, I have never done anything that combined majesty and adventure in such a serene cohesion.

I remember the first time I watched the “Caves” episode of Planet Earth and thinking how cool the glowworms were despite their distasteful reality, and from my experience if something amazes me on TV or in a movie or photo, it is ten times more incredible in reality. So in my New Zealand research this was an item of interest.

But I am a small girl with little muscle definition. Lifting my 60 pound husky often proves nearly impossible. The more I thought about it the more nervous I got and the more I decided spending the money to spend a minimum of three hours in physical anguish sounded like hell.

I debated over going to the caves many times. But about a week before leaving I received an email from a girl I work with telling me about how amazing her trip to New Zealand was, which she had returned from about a week earlier. Her only regret was not making it to the glowworm caves.

So I booked it. I do not know if it was me being competitive or just taking good advice, but in my already set itinerary I gave myself a three day grace period in Auckland at the end of my trip where I ended up booking a one-day round trip bus ride with Naked Bus and the Wet Hair Deal (which included a boat tour through the caves and inner tubing through the Glowworm caves).

Being in the boat floating beneath millions or glowworms, everyone was silent. It was like being alone in a dark dream with slivers of beauty poking through, seeing stars that you know are not stars only due to their iridescent colors.

The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.

The Black Labyrinth tour with The Legendary Black Water Rafting, Co. was a whole different kind of amazing. Going into it knowing there was a 90% chance I was in over my head, I could not be more excited. The first obstacle was getting into a wetsuit, which, to my surprise I had never done before (possibly due to a combination of family vacations taking place in Maui and being slightly scared of the ocean). It look two Japanese twins (one on each side) grabbing a piece of my wetsuit, yelling ICHI, NI, SAN, JUMP! about three times for me to get it past my hips only to, after successfully get all strapped in, be told by the instructor it was on inside out.

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Welp, after putting the wetsuit on twice I was good to go. On to obstacle number two: Jumping backwards into a river with my butt securely in an inner tube  – and I got to go first (lucky me *sarcastic undertones*). But like getting into a wetsuit, I survived. After I shimmied into the glowworm cave through a small hole and immediately cutting my hand on a rock, the hard part was over. We floated under a cave where the ceiling was two feet above water level (the instructors called it the “limbo” leg), got up close and personal with glowworms to where we could see the actual larva and the small dot in its middle section from where its glow is illuminated, jumped off more cliffs, saw eels, fish and crawfish and even stopped for a chocolate break midway through, ultimately ending with a 300 meter river float beneath the glowworms.

It was a truly unforgettable three hours that I would repeat in a heartbeat.

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Kia Ora New Zealand- Day 1 In Wellington

What more can I say other than Wellington is amazing! Despite the nickname Windy Welly, for which I have first-handedly experienced, the city is like San Francisco, if San Fran were cleaner and located in the South Pacific.

imageDay 1 consisted of a bay view walk along the renaissance waterfront, which you can tell is new but well loved. It stretches for miles from the Stadium up into the wine-tasting covered hills. Along the way you can find tidbits of historical explanations, signs welcoming one and all, industrial-bins-turned-shops (which appropriately shows the connection between the original use of the waterfront for import/exporting services to the now tourist and leisure location), water sports, museums and beaches. It is most definitely my favorite spot in Wellington! image

After checking out the waterfront, I meandered into the city. Wellington long and skinny, squeezed between the bay and Mount Victoria so it seems like it would be easy to navigate through. Well, I was wrong. After my relaxing stroll along the quay I found myself getting wildly lost and profoundly happy. There’s nothing I love more than feeling lost in a new, exciting place. It was that was that I was able to gain a reference for the city which helped me navigate throughout the rest of my stay.

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Packing: New Zealand Edition

I am an organizer, a planner, a list-maker, to the point that sometimes I wonder if the only reason i ever leave the city is to make a plan. With travel, I love the preparation, separating my belonging into groups which will determine how they eventually will be strategically packed.

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In fourth grade when I got my first binder, I added all my paper, dividers, folders and pens about a million different ways until eventually I found the perfect locations for every last item (which, to be honest, was most likely exactly the same as my first try). I think packing is my version of binder organizing in my adult life.

This time around, I’m preparing for New Zealand – land of LOTR and adventure! This is my most extensive solo trip so the need for feeling prepared is of the utmost importance to me. After all, In Omnia Paratus is supposed to be my motto.

Things I’m making sure to not leave home without:

Cash money – my philosophy is there aren’t any situations you can’t throw a little (or a lot) cash at to make everything right again. In Costa Rica my friend and I stayed in one hostel for the trip and on our last day found out they only accepted cash or paypal. I’m the kind of person that never has cash. Hell, until yesterday I didn’t even know my PIN#. If I weren’t with her, I would have had to stay an extra week working to pay back their services.

United Credit Card – related to my first item, I pay for everything with credit cards because I love getting the rewards (note: I full encourage paying them off right away, I love rewards but hate interest). With my United card not only do I get miles, I also do not get charged international fees.

Passport, Visas and other identification – I am flying out of Los Angeles and had a dream I got to LA only to have forgotten my passport. Do not get my wrong, two weeks in LA would be better than two weeks in dreary Washington but I would still be pretty disappointed.

Laundry detergent and garbage bags – there’s no way I am going to lug around two weeks of clothes with me. So I plan to do laundry half way through. But in my meantime, I love using garbage bags to separate my clean and dirty clothes. Nothing is worse than getting all your clothes dirty without having a little fun in them.

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Seahawks jersey – I live in Washington. I love football. And I am damn proud to be a supporter of a team who has made it (and is going to win it!) to the Super Bowl two consecutive years in a row! The twelfth man needs to show the world how far we can go, and I plan on showing it off in New Zealand!

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My travel journal – given to me as a gift when I thought I was going to be moving to Mongolia, my beautiful leatherbound journal holds my travel dreams and experiences. My flight home spent writing every last second I can remember of my trip is one of my favorite parts of traveling.

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Electronic essentials – my wonderful mother has a knack for buying me obscure electronics from REI that always prove to be useful. This year’s gifts are a South Pacific plug converter and external battery charger for my long flight. Have I mentioned she’s the best?

So here’s hoping I’m fully prepared, wish me luck!

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