Rangitoto Island

Guys. I have to tell you about how much I love this cafe. It’s my new home. There’s a “take a book, leave a book” shelf, couches, solid wifi, a decent selection of teas, a giant window I can sit in with my laptop, and a random little vintage pac-man arcade game in the corner. I’m obsessed. This is where I spend every morning.

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I’ve been operating without much of a plan each day. The only problem with this is that all the activities around Auckland require a bit of travel time and therefore a bit of planning. I decide it’s a good day for hiking, and look up ferries to Rangitoto; an island visible from the Auckland port, and home to a dormant volcano! It’s not painfully expensive at $33 return, especially when you consider that’s the same price as visiting the Sky Tower (Auckland’s imposter CN Tower – erected 20 years later, I might add).
A volcano hike seems like a pretty good bang for my buck!
The last ferry heading to the island is in an hour, so I rush back to my hostel to change into some more appropriate hiking gear and walk down to the ferry terminal.

Before boarding the boat, we’re asked to clean our shoes off on these little brush things stationed outside the entrance, and to check our bags for rats, mice, and ants. Yeah, alarming. Apparently people find them in their bags “more often than you’d think” and I am horrified to even look. Thankfully, I’m clean.
Rangitoto has a fragile and well-contained ecosystem that New Zealand is working hard to preserve while still allowing for tourism. There are no shops, hotels, cafes, or anything on the island. Not even a place to fill up a water bottle, so they advise you to bring all the water and/or snacks you might need for the day. I didn’t know this in advance, so I’m extra stoked that I thought to bring my reusable water bottle, and filled it before I left!

In half an hour, we’ve arrived on the other side, and I head straight for the trail. It’s 1:45, and the last ferry back to Auckland is at 3:30 so I want to get a move on. It’s possible to leave after the last ferry, but it’s an extra 50 bucks, and that’s a hard no from me.

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arriving on the island – I don’t know what’s in the little house!

I follow black trails lined sometimes with unfamiliar trees, and at other times with nothing but stark black volcanic rocks. The higher the trail takes me, the better the view becomes. It’s an easy walk, especially for the first half as it’s pretty flat. I’m a city walker; Toronto has no hills. I’m not used to all this stair and hill climbing, and it’s roasting hot out. If this path weren’t partially shaded, I might have died from heat stroke. I apply my weak 30SPF sun screen twice during the walk, just to be sure I don’t burn.

Once at the top there is a view point that looks out over the old volcano crater, which is now entirely covered in greenery. Without the sign post to tell me what it was, I’d never have known. Theย real sight though, is the 360 degree view around the island. You can see Auckland off in the distance, and epic teal blue waters all around. Pretty fantastic for a 1 hour hike.

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You can see the fake CN tower from here!

I soak up the views, finish the rest of my water, and head back down. I end up chatting with a nice elderly couple from Malaysia on my way down, who start a conversation by calling out “where are you from!?” as I pass them on the trail. We talk about Malaysia, Canada, and they tell me all their opinions about “Mr. Trump”.ย They’re pretty adorable.

I’m back down to the pier by 3pm and have 30 minutes to spare, so I find a shaded bench where I can lay down and take a little siesta, but set an alarm so I don’t miss the last ferry. Not that spending the night here wouldn’t be rad af.

When the boat arrives they have so much trouble docking due to the high winds, that they have to try 3 times. I’m a little concerned about the choppy waters back to the city, which weren’t this bad on our way over this afternoon.
They make an announcement on the way back that “If anything should happen, life vests can be found in the lockers”…which I notice are secured and tied up with ropes, so if this ship starts goin’ down, I’m pretty sure I’m done for. R.I.P.

After more trouble docking back in Auckland, we make it safely off the boat and I head back to the hostel. I have to double take when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look like a god damn tomato. Noooooooooooo!ย I applied my sunscreen! I tried to be responsible! I am heavily regretting leaving the 100SPF in my drawer back in Canada. I brought that Nicaragua a couple years ago, and came back just as pasty white as when I left, so I didn’t wanna go totally tan-less again. Huge mistake. I knew about the absence of ozone layer down here but… I thought double sunscreen would do it. Nope. How embarrassing. Now I gotta walk around like this for the next few days. So much regret.

Aside from the burn – solid day.

I go out at night and try to get a look at this blue moon/super moon/eclipse thing, but it’s too cloudy, which is tragic.

Costs for the Day

$16 breakfast at Remedy Coffee

$33 return trip to Rangitoto

$16 for 2 pints at a pub in the viaduct area

$8 fast food wrap for dinner

$20 hostel

Take me there!

Kefalonia In a Day – Beaches, Caves, and Cocktails

It stormed in the middle of the night, cleansing the air so that today feels fresh as opposed to the usual 32 degree, muggy heat. It’s actually breathable.

We dive right in to our day of tourist activities by driving to the Drogarati cave.
Continue reading “Kefalonia In a Day – Beaches, Caves, and Cocktails”

Tinder for Travel

Yesterday was a SHIT day. I was in such a state. Basically, I walked 4km into town in the hopes of renting a scooter and driving up to the Shipwreck lookout point. What actually happened, is that I walked all the way to Laganas just to be rejected by at least 8 shops because I have a Canadian license. Top of the list of tasks to accomplish when I get back to Canada: Get an international license. Continue reading “Tinder for Travel”

Finally Here

The day is finally here! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day forever. Since returning home from my last trip in September, I’ve been planning to get away again. At first I thought I’d leave for Asia in December, which somehow became February, which then turned to March. Those 7 months were long, (in my small town without a car) but now in hindsight feel so fleeting. It’s all been worth it. I’m on my way.

Dad and I head to the airport with Mom and my cousin Krista to see us off. I hate saying goodbyes and I know poor Mama worries, but it’s only a short trip compared to my last. I’m so overwhelmed by the excitement of adventure-to-come that I can’t feel sadness. I just can’t wait for 2:05.
The flight to Tokyo is 14 hours long. For this, I am not pumped. When Dad and I get our boarding passes, we see that our seats aren’t even together…14 hours is a long time to spend wedged between two strangers.
We ask multiple people if there’s some way they can rearrange the seating, but we are consistently told no. We accept our fate.

Pearson International is mediocre at best, although they have been making some improvements. Dad and I wait in a lounge right next to our gate, which has an iPad and charging station next to every individual seat. You can even order food and drinks from a nearby restaurant, with just the click of a button on the iPad screen. Pretty cool.

When we board the plane, we are fortunate to find one young woman sitting alone in the seat next to Dad’s. I ask her if she would mind switching seats with me, and she gets up without hesitation. What a little angel. I don’t understand why every Air Canada employee had such trouble shifting things around on a flight that holds like 800 people, but lucky for us I’m an expert hostess. Apparently seating people is my calling.

I read my book, Escape From Camp 14 (which you MUST read if you ever get the chance/have a soul) and watch in flight movies (all the hype about Frozen is legit) for most of the flight, and try to get some sleep.
They serve Mr. Noodles…how exotic!
It’s 6:30am in Tokyo and 5:30pm on Toronto time. Jet lag is going to be a buzz kill.

 

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Cousin and I ready to get goin’

 

 

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long ass flight

 

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noodles