After almost ten months at home in New Zealand, Craig and I are finally back on the road. It was awesome to spend so much time with friends and family, but the cold winter weather was really starting to get us down towards the end of our stay — so we’re glad to be travelling again! Unfortunately, our next destination (Spain) is also heading towards winter, but we should get a couple of months of heat before we freeze again.
August 16-20: Christchurch
After a week of goodbye dinners and parties, we had a final farewell lunch with my family at Villa Maria winery before being dropped at the airport for our journey to Christchurch. Craig’s dad and stepmum Anne live there, and we try to visit them whenever we are arriving in or leaving New Zealand.
We only had three full days with them, which we spent eating out, admiring their new kitchen, and going for a walk in the Port Hills. Craig also played a couple of rounds of golf with his dad and I stopped into visit my friend Oscar at his work.
August 20-26: Melbourne
Though saving $100 on flights seemed like a good idea at the time, it was difficult to enjoy getting up at 4am in preparation for our early-morning flight across the Tasman. Luckily everything went smoothly, my sister Anna collected us and took us back to her farm near Sunbury, and we installed ourselves in the basement unit that Craig and I had helped finish off on our last visit.
I’d managed to convince my brother, Simon, and his girlfriend, Katie, to join us for a family holiday, and they arrived the next day, tired from their own early-morning flight. That night we headed into town to see an excellent production of Les Miserables, and later in their stay we visited ACMI to see an exhibition about DreamWorks productions. Otherwise, though, we mostly stayed at home, eating too much, watching a fair amount of rugby, and playing with our nephews Henry and Leo.
I’d seen the boys back in May when I spent a week in Australia visiting my sister, and Henry (who’s three) hadn’t changed much since then — he’s still remarkably competent, expressive, and headstrong. But Leo, who’s just turned one, is a completely different person from just a few months ago. He’s certainly not a baby any more; he walks confidently and though he isn’t talking yet, he’s very able to let you know what he wants without necessarily crying about it. I really enjoyed spending time with them, and with Anna, Mat, Simon, and Katie.
August 26-31: Bangkok
Glorious heat! As predicted, we loved spending a few days in the hot weather. Although it was the rainy season, we only got caught in the wet once, when we were walking from the train station to the hotel — the roads were rivers and our shoes spent two days on the balcony drying out.
Unlike previous trips to Asia, in which we tried to do as much as possible so we could write about our experience, this time we prioritised relaxing. We got up late, lingered over breakfast, and usually headed out around 1pm for lunch and an excursion to another part of the city. Dinner was usually street food, though on our last night we met up with our friend Robin for a delicious Indian meal and a good catch up.
September 1–now: Alcalá de Henares
The last day of August was the longest of the year for us: by the time we got to bed at 2am Spanish time, we’d been up for 25 hours. Our flight from Bangkok was with budget carrier Norwegian and involved a stop in Stockholm. Their long-haul service was great value for money, and we were pleased with the free entertainment system and the friendly staff.
However, our pre-bought meals were the worst I’ve ever eaten, and we certainly didn’t get enough food for the duration of the flight. I also found the cheesy announcements laughable and wasn’t happy about being given a “window seat” that didn’t actually have a window. Plus, for some reason we weren’t able to check in online. I’d fly with them again, but I’d definitely prepare differently.
Anyway, they got us to Spain, which is all that really matters! We’ve been here in Alcalá de Henares for the last week, and I think we’re falling more in love with it every day. The city and its awesome history have enchanted us, and it just feels so right to be back in Spain.