Statue of Liberty

Five days in New York City

NYC has always been on my travel list. I was so excited to go and explore the city, see all of the places that I’ve seen in movies and experience the city that never sleeps!

Day 1

Our day started by catching the subway to Central Park. The subway is the best way to get around the city and definitely has some characters on it! Central Park was beautiful.

Central Park

We just wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful park. There were so many people enjoying the park in many different ways. Watching the little motorised boats in the pond, children playing with a soccer ball, running around finding sticks.

Cetnral Park pond

We seen an abundance of squirrels running around playing with each other and eating nuts, they had the fluffiest, grey tails. There was also a beautiful bride and wedding party taking photographs, such a beautiful place to have those memories in. After a morning full of walking we went to Blossom, a lovely vegan restaurant close to Central Park. We had truffle mashed potatoes, fries and a vegan pepperoni pizza. I am so grateful that Rob fully supports me and my choices, he even suggests and finds places for us to eat.

Cute Squirrel

We started walking and ended up at Time Square. Very interesting and intense place. Literally every billboard in that area flicks and changes. We just sat up there for awhile trying to take in everything. Watching the billboards change and people watching. Time Square was very busy with people that we almost felt a bit overwhelmed.

Times Square

Last activity for the day was a Yankees Baseball game! Something we had wanted to experience while in the USA. We once again caught the Subway from Times Square.

Yankee Stadium

When going through security they told me I couldn’t take my drink bottle, as it was a metal reusable one. We had to go across the road and store it during the game for $5! Argh I am a water-holic so this was upsetting but not going to ruin our evening! When we went into the game the first 18,000 people got a free Yankees beanie. Another positive of being early, along with no lines for a pregame snack! The game was very cool to watch, the energy and passion that the fans had was amazing! I am also glad I had Rob as he was explaining the game to me! I did accidentally cheer for the other team a few times. Woops! We left at the 9th inning as it was fairly obvious that the Yankees would win and we had to collect my drink bottle before the store closed. Also the train was so packed I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like after the game had finished. We grabbed a pizza on the way home from Joe & Johns that was around the corner from us! Rob literally loved their pizzas, I think he had three or four while we were there!

Yankee Beanie

 

Day 2

To start the day off we headed to the 9/11 memorial. Which is incredibly beautiful and creative. Where the buildings once stood they have put in fountains with the names of the peoples lives who were tragically lost that day. We both thought it was a beautiful way to honour them.

9/11 Memorial

 

There were so many people along with a lot of loving energy. Behind the memorials stood the new trade centre building. It looks amazing! So huge, truly a beautiful addition the the NYC skyline.

 

New World Trade Centre

We walked around an hour to get the beginning of the Highline walk. It and old railway that was out of service for along time before the city came together to turn it into a beautiful park and walk way. The old train tracks are still there with plants growing from it. There were big paths and lots of grass areas, seats and drinking fountains along the way. A great free activity and a way to see the city from above and enjoy some fresh air!
We headed up to the Empire State Building in the early evening. There were a shit ton of people up there! So many that you almost couldn’t enjoy it because someone was pushing you, taking pictures on top of your head or standing on your feet! But that view from the 86th floor was magical. We stayed long enough to see the city during the day, at sunset and see the city come to life with the lights. Very cool experience and some amazing photos came from it!

NYC at night, from Empire State Building

 

Day 3

After walking nearly 20km the last two days we were both exhausted. We had a huge sleep in and then spent the day processing pictures, and researching Ireland. We went out in the afternoon and found a cool little café and enjoyed our coffee walking around the area we were staying in!

Day 4

After reading online about the ferries to get to Liberty Island, we had the impression that you can get tickets and just go basically where the Statue of Liberty is. That was our activity of choice for the day. We arrived to the dock where the ferries left to be instantly greeted with guys in purple shirts, trying to sell us expensive tours and private taxi boats. It was a pretty miserable day in NYC so we weren’t too bothered about walking around the island. We just kind of wanted to see it. After finally getting a way from the purple shirt guys, we went into the free ferry that goes across the harbour to Staten Island, that we were told by the purple shirt guys it would take hours to get on. We literally got on the first ferry, had a seat and a great view of the Statue of Liberty. So don’t trust everything people say to you!

Statue of Liberty

At Staten Island we just hopped off the ferry and lined back up to go back to the main land. We then had a quick lunch at the food court in the building across from the ferry and started walking towards the Brooklyn bridge. We almost accidentally walked through Wall Street which was pretty cool! Nothing like I had expected, more tourists than men in Suits and ties. That afternoon on the Brooklyn bridge there was a protest where there were hundreds if not thousands of people walking across the bridge! It was very cool to see but also made it really hard to be able to stop and appreciate the beauty of the bridge and skyline that you could see! We managed to get a few great pictures from the bridge and then made our way back home, via the subway of course.

Protest on the Brooklyn Bridge

 

Day 5

Our last day in NYC before flying to Dublin that evening. We spent the morning packing our bags before we went on our last adventure in NYC. Grand Central Station was our destination. This station is literally so beautiful. The architecture and details were something I hadn’t seen before. There was a beautiful gold clock in the middle of the station.

Grand Central Station

 

I was actually in awe of this place. The roof had the star signs on it, perfectly displayed out and the windows were grand and beautiful. They have a huge food court underneath with so many options to eat at. We headed back to our air b&b with a stop at our favourite little café! Grabbed an Uber and headed for the airport. Such a wonderful adventure to the big smoke and many memories to add to our ever growing collection.

If your heading to New York, I would suggest you make a plan of what you would actually like to see, explore and experience. The city has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming. We definitely missed a few things off our list, like possibly a broadway show but I’m very happy with what we got to see. Also you absolutely don’t have to pay and arm and a leg to stay in the city! The subway is fantastic at getting you to the places that you need, along with walking the magical city. We had seen many places on air b&b and stayed in a fantastic place. The best thing about air b&b is that you meet local people who give great advice on where to go and also the luxury of being able to cook a meal after eating out all day is something I don’t take for granted!

Love and blessings,
Aileen.

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Three weeks in Kansas

Roberts Grandparents Jackie & Mark live in Marion, Kansas. It’s been nearly four years since we last seen them, when they visited New Zealand. But I feel when people come to visit you it’s harder to spend proper time with them as you’ve still got to work, run your household and then fit in time when they are not on activities etc. I was well and truly looking forward to meeting and getting to know Robs American family and to just stop for a bit. We have been on the go for so long I was well ready for a stop with people who care about us.

We arrived to meet them in Emporia after 18 long hours of traveling on the Greyhound and waiting at the bus stations. They took us to Walmart to buy food for me as they had no idea what to feed a vegan, which was so sweet. We got a well deserved Starbucks coffee and we’re in our way to their home on the Marion Lake, a beautiful community called Eastshore.

Week 1

The first few days we spent around the house, catching up on sleep from traveling. Chatting with Mark & Jackie about our travels so far and meeting the delightful neighbours. There are so many beautiful people that live there and I feel so blessed to have met them! Everyone who lives here drives around on golf carts to get to the party’s. It was the coolest neighbourhood I have stayed in.

                                                                     Golf Cart parkup at Granmas Birthday!

 

During the week Rob showed off Henry (The drone) by flying it all around. Everyone loved it, the experience they had with drones was from Daniel, who was know for crashing them or the drone flying away and not coming back. They were all so amazed with how much fun he was and how many things Henry does on his own, taking off and landing with no help from Rob. Linda & Bob came out to visit us, Linda played cards with Jackie and I! She is also a card shark like Jackie! That weekend I got to meet and Rob got to see his Aunty Shelly on Saturday. We all went out on and adventure in the boat. It was so nice to be out on the water, with great company on a beautiful boat. Sunday we got to meet Robin and Tom. We played the best game with them, a form of golf where you had to throw the balls and wrap them around one of three poles to get points. Very cool game and a Sunday well spent, with more great company!

                                                                              Henry & Golf Game

 

Week 2

I found a Reiki Level 2 course in Wichita. I was so happy to find a course that worked in with our travel. I had told myself before we left that I would find a teacher if it was meant to be. The feeling of finding a Reiki Master and getting back on track with my energy healing was incredible. The course was wonderful and my teachers were Conrad and Donna. They were such beautiful, energy enriched people who have taught me some incredible skills that I can’t wait to use to help others. I did some practice with Grandma, Joanie and Jodi. Grandma was a little unsure of it, which is fine. I know it’s not for everyone. Joanie loved the healing so much that we did three sessions on her while I was there. Jodi was away for awhile so I only got one session on her but she sat up and said “That was fucking awesome!” Which was an incredible response.

Grandma and Grandpa took us for a day out in Hutchison to go explore the Salt Mine and Cosmosphere science museum. The Salt Museum was 600feet underground and was absolutely incredible. They literally leave everything down there that is not used anymore, for the sake of not having to take it back up. This was great for the museum part, all of the old machines were still down there. It was very informative showing exactly how they mined the Salt, what it was used for and how the process had changed over the years. We went on a couple of tours that took us into the dark parts of the mine that weren’t being used anymore.

                                                                                Selfie at the Salt Museum

The Cosmophere had so much to see. There was plenty of information and exhibits about the WW2 and the presidents involvement with NASA and space exploration. We also watched a super funny show of a professor doing experiments, making things blow up and catch on fire. Very interesting and fun to watch. Last thing for the day was the star room ( I’m not sure the real name!) it was a huge room with a roof that showed  movies and could display stars in the sky! It was absolutely beautiful! Liam Neeson was narrating a short film about black holes and the universe. There was a gentleman at the end explaining which star is which and we how we could see them in the sky that night. A very fun and informative day out.

Rob got his fishing license for 5 days. While him and Grandpa were out fishing Grandma thought me how to play Skip-Bo. This is how we spent most of our spare time! I loved this game. All the tricks and practice came in handy when we went to Girls card night on Tuesday! There were 8 gals there ranging from cousins, great aunts to aunts. It was so much fun to play Skip-Bo on such a big scale. Then came about Labor weekend. They have started a tradition of parking boats together and tying them up, so you can walk across the boats and mingle with everyone. This was so cool! I’ve not had very much experience on boats but this was a fun day of adventure. Joanie & Steve ( who may I quickly add, are the most amazing couple, I literally made such an amazing bond with these two that I will never forget or take for granted. Just the most gentle, genuine, friendly and loving people! Love you guys!) brought their jet ski out! It was a super charged fairly new ski. Rob took me out for a cruise and then I took him. It was so powerful and yet so stable at the same time! Was a pretty amazing first communion with some awesome people and beautiful weather!

 

Week 3

Our last week. Time sure flies when your having fun and being utterly spoilt. This week consisted of relaxing, playing lost of cards, Rob teaching Grandma how to use her new laptop, recovery from the cold that was hanging around us and getting little jobs done before we left and before the grandparents set off on their cruise, the day after we flew out. Grandma and I also went to stamp and up with Rita ( one of the neighbours) this is such a cool activity. You build cards from scratch! It was so much fun! Something I will definitely have to do when we get home. Grandpa, Rob and I went out and visited a Sunflower field, it was so beautiful. The Sunflowers were huge and such a vibrant yellow.

                                                                                               Sunflowers

 

That weekend a college football game was on, we watched with the super enthusiastic Darcy and Marvin. It was more fun watching them than anything else. Both so passionate about the game, very cool to see and feel the excitment with them. I also had a great time sitting around chatting to Joanie & Jodi both incredible inspiring women! One of our last days we went to the Kansas state fair! We met Linda, Bob, Wes and Sharon all for breakfast. Sharon had made us some beautiful embroidered tea towels. Some to take home as gifts for our families too. Such a talented woman! She really needs to start making them professionally!! The fair was fun, we met Robin, Tom and Shelly there which was nice.

                                                                                      Big Fair Pumpkins!

 

The day went by quickly! We seen 800 odd pound pumpkins, a butter sculpture, huge sunflowers, played trivia in the beer garden ( we won’t talk about the result haha ) It was a great experience to an American fair! The last full day we had in Marion was Grandmas birthday! We felt so grateful that we got to spend the day with her! We spent the day pottering around, riding Jodi & Dans tandem bike, along with a neighbourhood get together in the evening!

                                                                                                               Rob and I

 

                                                                                              Grandma & Rob

 

All of the neighbours are such a hoot! We drank margaritas and shared many laughs! Tom and Robin surprised us and came out to celebrate and say goodbye to Rob and I. The evening finished up with a lovely Skype seeing Jerry, Emma and even Ashley! Was so special and almost weird being on the American side of that Skype call. The next morning we headed to the airport and said goodbye very sadly to our beautiful hosts and Shelly who had come down to see us off! We sure will miss sitting in the porch chatting with them and watching the neighbours taking their dogs for rides on the golf carts!

Thank you to everyone who made our visit memorable, to all that shared stories and laughs with us! We will forever cherish them! Big shout out to Jackie and Mark for having us!! We had the best time with you guys!

Love and Blessings,
Aileen.

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Solar Eclipse

The August 21st eclipse has been something on our itinerary before  leaving Australia. We made sure that our plans worked so we could be somewhere in totality. That landed us on a little farm Air b&b in Grand Island, Nebraska. It was such a beautiful tranquil space, grass as far as you can see, red barn style trailers that you see on American movies and grand big blue skies.  The only noise you could hear were anmials going about their daily life.

Our Farm Air b&b

 

We arrived a few days early. Making sure we would 100% see it. The days were filled of preparations of the cameras, SD cards and flying Henry (our drone) to find the best angles  and to see how Henry flew in the Nebraskan wind.

I never really knew what to expect. I was excited and had been reading a lot about the energy side of the eclipse. A few days earlier I had this huge internal realisation of some feelings that I had been processing and it felt incredible to feel like I had an understanding.

The day of the eclipse we woke up to two beautiful couples from Texas who had driven up to see the eclipse. Along with our wonderful host Daniel.

Beautiful Grand Island Sunrise

We all sat around drinking traditional chinese tea for an hour or so before the partial eclipse began. I’m not going to lie, I got tea drunk. Yep that’s a thing. Apparently it’s the Chi, the flow of drinking tea in a circle of friends laughing and sharing stories. Being mindful of the flavours that your drinking. While the pourer is in a meditation like state while serving the tea and appling all the appropriate practices. Round after round we changed flavours of tea. It was a magical way to start the day. It was a truly wonderful experience.

Then the solar glasses busted out.  They have a Solar film and look just like the 3D glasses you get from the movies, except you can see no light apart from the Sun. Pretty incredible and mostly the only way to keep your eyes safe while looking at the Sun. Rob and I had found some when we were camping in Yellowstone. They were pretty cool. They had information about the changes of the sun in stages and the strip of visibility across the USA along the side of the glasses.

Solar Glasses

 

To see the sun slowly change into the shape of the moon was incredible. Just before totality I grabbed my crystals and set them out. I had in my mind what I was ready to let go of through this chapter along with what I am grateful for. As this was the perfect oppertunity to move forward with grace.

 

Crystals out before totality

 

When totality came about, the other couple sparked up a joint. We all had a puff or two while taking in the pure energy of the eclipse. The feeing of the moon completely covering the sun in the middle of the day. The wind completely stopped, the fire flies came out along with the locust bugs out chirping. The totality lasted over two minutes. The crickets and small animals seemed to be fairly confused. The chickens went to sleep and woke up so quickly. It was absolutely mesmerising sitting there, feet connected to the grass, to the Earth. Breathing in and out all of the new energy in this new change.

Totality

 

It felt like the winds of change were blowing through my whole body was tingling. It felt like I had been upgraded. New fresh energy to help us move towards a more loving Earth. I am excited for this next chapter and so grateful I got to experience it.

Aileen xxx

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What I learnt from losing my luggage

Lost luggage.

You always hear stories about people’s luggage being missed from a plane or even seen that poor guy at the bus stop at 5 in the morning, while the bus driver has no idea where their bag is. I honestly sympathised with the scenarios so much and hoped it was a smooth ride to recovery for their bags.

After traveling buses for over 5 months now I feel like we know the ropes of how buses work, where to catch them, how to ride safely with your belongings. But it happened to Rob and I after arriving in Seattle Thursday at 4pm, after one of the longest buses and stopovers that we have done. We had began our journey from Crescent City on Wednesday at 8:30am. We had a stop over in Medford from 12pm – 2am. Another bus change in Portland where we never got called to re board our bus, so it left without us and another family. We were told our Luggage would be waiting for us in Seattle and we would have to board the next bus that is just under two hours away. We were able to grab the few things we had left on the old bus as it was still there waiting to be serviced which was great!

Our big Kathmandu backpack/suitcase

I can not even describe the feeling that they didn’t have our luggage there. I was so confused as the family that had missed the bus in Portland the same as us had just collected their belongings before us but our two bags were not put on the bus? I had not had very much sleep, and all I wanted was to have a shower, get changed and make a quick easy dinner out of the pasta I had packed in my bag. Not a chance. The unfriendly lady told us to come back at 10:30pm that night as that’s when the next bus from Portland was due in that “may or may not have our bags on it” We had to travel at our own cost to and from our Air b&b. What a nightmare. Our host was completely amazing. She drove us to and from the local supermarket to get food and even offered us her car to travel back to the bus station. We kindly turned the offer down and just took an UBER. We arrived at the station just after the bus was due with it being a little late. The guy came and told us to walk out the back and see if we can see our luggage after the passengers were off the bus. No such luck. The bags were still not here, despite being only 4hours by bus away. The guy informed us that the next buses were due in the next day at 2:30pm and 4:30pm. We had to once again come back the following day hoping our bags were there. If they were not we would have to start the process of lost luggage.

We had the whole house to ourselves the next morning and quickly threw everything we were wearing into the wash so we could shower and feel clean! I am grateful that we always take our toothbrushes with us on the bus and had deodorant in my bag.

My little backpack that I take as carry on.

 

After going back to the station for the second time in hopes to get our luggage back, the nice guy from the night before recognised us and asked the security guard and other worker to take us out to see if our bags had come on the bus. We walked through the inside not seeing them, but they were OUTSIDE!! Wahoo! Pure relief. There were a few things packed in there that are not easy to replace and have special value to me. I was upset that they had cut a part of our bags in hopes of opening it. Possibly trying to find their owners. But with no common sense and a little un called for as we had been trying to communicate with Portland Greyhound with no reply.

But we got our luggage back and I have learnt a few lessons that I want to share with you. When traveling and going to be separated from your big bag, make sure that there is nothing in there that can not be replaced.

The list below are a few things that I now know I need to have so I can survive for a few days if it were to happen again.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant and small Lavender essential oil
  • My mothers golden hair clip that I adore!
  • Reusable Watermelon bag
  • A spare pair of undies and socks when traveling on bus/plane
  • My diva cup! I absolutely adore it, will never go back to tampons, but also looking into Hannah pads!
  • Having a up to date picture on my phone of the inside of my bag.
  • Made me double check my travel insurance to see what I was actualy covered for. Greyhounds policy only paid up to $250 per person, for lost luggage. My bag on its own is worth $399 so this was a slight concern. Nomad isurance to the rescue.

 

My new carry-on  travel additions

 

I think loosing your luggage is a valuable lesson, that everything is always replaceable. What really matters is that you and your travel companions are okay and safe. This made me change the way I pack my bag when changing Cities and had helped me get a little more travel knowledge and patience.

Always make sure that you have your Passport, money and things you don’t want to replace if you had to.  Its a real peace of mind just incase it happens to you. Have you ever lost your luggage? Would love to hear your story!

Aileen
xxx

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas you are a bright, hot, busy hub of lights, fountains, activities and excitement.

Although I feel as we may have experienced Vegas different to most people as Rob and I are not big drinkers. We hired a rental car so we could drive ourselves to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. It was so wonderful being able to drive everywhere on our own terms, no ubers, buses or waiting. Our Air b&b was in North Vegas, so we  also got to sleep well.

Hello Vegas!

 

We traveled to both the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely magical, I couldn’t believe how big it was, how different the colour was to the pictures that I have seen or how dead silent parts were. We paid a $30 parking fee for 7days of use and happily explored, watched sunsets and soaked up the Canyon without huge amounts of people in areas, which made it more special I think. I honestly didn’t have a preference for what side is best, they were both just as beautiful.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

 

South Rim of the Grand Canyon

 

The city of Vegas also dazzled us. We went in to watch the Balegio fountains. They have five different songs that have synchronized water shows. My gosh, they are so well done, the water shoots up to 400m in the air with such force. It’s an absolute must if you in Vegas.

Vegas at night

 

The high roller wheel was also a great view of the city. We rolled at the perfect time and had a whole pod just to ourselves. The strip of Vegas is bright colourful and entertaining. There were a range of characters dressed up to take photos with for a tip. Plenty of places to eat and drink along the strip, along with many shops and souvenirs. The strip heavily smelt of cigarettes and people were even allowed to smoke in the casinos!

HIgh Roller

 

Hoover Dam was so much bigger than I had thought. It was pretty cool to see both sizes and gauge how it worked. We didn’t have enough time for the underground tour, but we heard great things about it. The water was a gorgeous green colour. I thought the bridge overlooking the dam was such a great view too! Made you realise how big the Dam is. We found some free parking on the far side of the Dam, which was a bonus! You just had to walk a little further to the viewing points.

Hoover Dam

 

Hoover Dam

 

Also totally guilty of stopping at the famous Welcome to Vegas sign. Can you believe that the sign has its own parking lot? There was a line of at least 20 people waiting to get pictures directly in front of the sign, with showgirls. Many people were just sneaking to the side and still getting great photos. So we also did too, it was 41 degrees and we didn’t think we would last waiting in the heat.

Before returning the car we stopped at Ronald donuts. My gosh! They literally have two full shelves of vegan donuts that taste incredible! I got the plain raspberry filled, chocolate iced and a iced Cinnabon topped with walnuts. Not one regret for eating them all myself. Well worth the visit if you can.

Vegas is super fast paced, but is also a great place to be a middle ground to et the Grand Canyon. Definitely a great travel adventure for us.

Aileen xx

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7 Days in Los Angeles

We had the most wonderful week in LA. My little sister Grace flew in from New Zealand the day after we did. I was ecstatic to see her! I waited out on the steps for about twenty minutes, and ran to the taxi when she finally arrived. I absolutely adore my sister and felt so blessed that she had traveled so far to come and make some magical memories with me.

Grace & I

 

Day 1

We caught an Uber to Santa Monica in the morning to explore the Pier. It was a bit of a cloudy morning, we walked up the pire to  the top corner. Santa Monica had such a buzz about it. So many tourists and locals alike enoying the activities and views.

Santa Monica

 

We continued along the path and walked to Venice beach,  watched a little of the skateboarding and continued walking further to the Venice Canals. They were absolutely stunning! They have been in so many movies, they are almost a little hidden gem of Los Angeles, I would highly recommend you to check them out if your in the area!

Venice Canals

 

Day 2

The Hollywood stars called to us. We walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard looking at all of the stars, recognising only a small percentage of the to be honest.

Marilyn Munroes Star

 

The street was quite dirty, which disappointed me. It’s always so glam on the TV, but that is not the case in day to day life. We popped into the Chinese theatre and had a look at the foot and hand prints of the stars. Some dated back to 1927, the prints still look pretty good too! After a delicious vegan burger, we headed up to Griffith Observatory at the perfect time. We experienced afternoon, sunset and night.

Grifith Observatory

The best time to make the most of your trip and see all the different sky changes. Sunset was incredible up there, it lingered about for over an hour, as we watched the moon rise beautifully into the sky. They had the large telescope pointed out into Jupiter, even   seen a few of its moons around it. Absolutely incredible!

The incredible sky

 

Day 3

Today we headed to the science centre. This was a high priority on Rob’s LA list as one of the US space shuttles is stored there and you can view  it. We first headed to the the Body section that was the feature of the month. Grace and Rob were a bit creeped out by this and left with very sensitive stomachs. Everything on display was a real human. They had donated their bodies to science. We seen the inside of the body, like never before. The way your muscles sit in your bones, the inside of your brain, the nervous system and even lungs and heart. I found it to be so fascinating, that is actually what we look like on the inside, no cartoons or animal parts to represent our parts. Finally it was time to see the Endevor space shuttle. It was so big! We walked around the room filled with displays of mission control and some parts of the space shuttle including the wheels and toilet.

The Endeavour

We watched a video on how it transported it from Florida to California. Then into the room where the beautiful shuttle was on display! It was huge, and a completely different material than I was expecting. It wasn’t glossy it was made completely of tiles, that were all numbered and had specific places on the shuttle. We spent half an hour just walking around and admiring this beautiful shuttle that had been out to space 25 times.
We spent the  evening at the OUE sky space which is at the top of the US bank building, 52 levels above ground. It has a room filled with some pretty incredible views to look at and interactive lights.

Rob on the OUE Slide

 

We all went down the glass slide that wraps around and drops one level. The slide is very cool, although it was over in 1.5seconds, I wish it was a little longer. The incredible views that you could admire off the balconies on both sides of the building were amazing!

 

Day 4

DISNEYLAND!!! I hope the capitals let you know how excited I was. Grace was also excited, childhood dreams were coming true for us! Rob had been before but was more than happy to go again.

Such a cool day

We arrived at 8:30am as traffic was about already. Traffic is a real bad thing in LA, it’s there ALWAYS! The lines were huge! You had to line up, go through security where they looked at bags and then scanned your body similar to airport. Finally time to buy tickets and get to California Adventure park first.  Disney filled my heart with joy! The rides are magical and the vibes at disneyland are amzing! We went on Gardians of the Galaxy, Cars, California Scream, Mickeys fun wheel, swinging chairs, The silver bullet, Goofy’s Flying school before another quick two rides on the California Scream roller coaster before heading over to Disneyland! We went on Starwars, Space mountain, Finding nemo submarine, Wild West roller coaster, Indiana Jones. We also went and met Mickey Mouse, seen Minney Mouses house and shopped some Disney products. We missed the fire world as we were stuck in line for one of the rides which is definitely disappointing, but we couldn’t change that. We finally left the park at 11pm after arriving at 8:30am. It was a long, fun day. We spent aleast one hour waiting in line for each ride, except for Space mountain which was much longer as it broke down while we were in line. Disneyland was truly a magical day. I was really upset at the food and had wished that I brought lunch but other than that Disney filled my heart with joy! The rides are magical and the vibes at disneyland are amzing!

Day 5

We slept most of the morning away as we finally arrived home at 1am after a quick stop at Walmart and our long drive home. We spent the day just relaxing at the air b&b. Grace and I watched movies while rob was editing his photos. Day well spent after hours of standing and walking the days before.

 

Day 6

Universal studios. We were up fairly early to head out to the studios again, which I’m glad as the park was fairly quiet at this time. Making it really easy to get through security and grab tickets.

Universal Studios

We headed straight for the minions ride. It was a 4D seat ride and was amazing! Then onto the Simpsons that was just as incredible. Downstairs we did the Jurassic park, mummy and transformers rides before heading up to the studio tours. The tour was pretty amazing,.We went through the sound studio section, on to the buildings, which included the famous city hall from back to the future. On to the New York section. Finally we got to the King Kong part of the ride which gave us an incredible shake up and spray, while dinasours and King Kong were fighting around us. Amazing. We drove through the suburbs where we witnessed thunder and lightning, along with flash flooding during a hot sunny day. Onto the suburbs which were Mexico and Wisteria Lane from Desperate housewives. Before things got crazy with the fast and furious lock down. I don’t want to ruin too much of the tour for you but it was definitely a highlight of my day at universal studios. We did the Harry Potter section to finish our day off and headed to a dinner spot close to our home.

Minion!

Day 7

The morning was spent making and eating pancakes and packing. We then headed out for a walk to the local shopping centre for Grace to get the last gifts she needed before heading home. I was so sad to know she was leaving today. I absolutely love my little sister. We spent the afternoon drinking coffee and eating lunch before heading back to grab our bags for Grace to go to the airport and Rob and I to do laundry before Vegas. I cried for a good ten minutes after Graces Uber drove away. So sad to see her leave and so grateful I get to have her in my LA memories.

There was an endless amount of things to do in LA that we had to choose what we wanted and stick to the plan. We did a tonne of walking and then used Uber to get to the places that weren’t in walking distance. LA has such a cool vibe to it. Was definitely a place I would visit again.

Aileen xxx

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Cancun

This was our last stop for leg one of the world trip. It was such a bitter sweet feeling. It meant that we had overcome all of the challenges, frustrations and fears that had come about during our travels. It also meant that we had seen and experienced many wonderful adventures.

Cancun From above

Upon arriving into Cancun we instantly felt the heat and humidity. We were staying quite far away from the Zona Hotelera, which was a two and half hour walk away. Yes we thought it was a good idea to walk that. Three quarters of the walk we gave in and caught a bus. It was like 35 degrees and we were dying! The beach was well worth it. I had never seen water that blue or clear before. So much like the movies or what you see in pictures. The water was pretty rough in the area we first went to. After lunch we found a great spot that had sand banks so you could stand up in the water and feel much safer.

Playa Chac mool, in Zona Hotelera

Day 5 in Cancun we took the boat to Isla Mujeres and fell in love. This was the most incredible little island. The weather was incredible the beach was breathtaking and our apartment set up was the best that we had on this trip. They had bikes, beach chairs, balls, books and even sunscreen for personal use of all guests. This was such a bonus. I guess it was because the bike had a basket that it made me want to bike everywhere. Also the island is total of 7km long and 650m wide, making it extremely accessible to bike everywhere. Although Rob had many encounters of his chain falling off it was so much fun.

Isla Mujeres

We spent the next four days enjoying the sun and beach, snorkelling, swimming everyday and watching the sun set on the beach. Typical island life.

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

We fell in love so much that instead of leaving on Sunday back to the main land we decided to stay the whole rest of our time on the island until we flew to LA. I know that Mexico has so much to offer and explore but it just felt right to enjoy the beach and time of relaxation before we get so busy sight seeing in the states. When we booked the Cancun trip is was meant to be a two week break in between the legs of traveling and that’s what we made it.

Robs cute bicycle shot

Although it rained everyday after Sunday until we flew out we had the time to get things booked and ready for the states and rode our bikes in the rain. The island life is really the best kind.

Aileen xx

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Banos top 5 Activities

We had decided to spend two weeks in the little town of Banos, because there was so much to offer with activities and beautiful natural wonders.

So I have written a little top 5 list of the things that I recommend you do while in the little town. There are many things to do. Head to the information Centre and grab a map. It has many walking tracks and other activities around Banos.

Banos Graffiti

 

1 – Cycle to Callas (waterfall name)

The bike ride to the waterfall is around 19km and is mostly uphill. It took us around 45mins to get there with a couple of stops at the little waterfalls along the way. There are options to get the bus down, but we decided to bike. Which of course is mostly uphill and completely kicked my ass. You walk down hill around 10-15mins to the waterfall and pay a $1 entrance fee. The view is incredible and you get to walk along the little bridge and get a view from another perspective also. Well worth the trip there.

Callas Waterfall
Bike, great backdrop

 

2 – Tree house 

This is a beautiful little spot really but at the top of the hill looking directly at the Volcano. My tip for seeing the volcano is to catch the 6am bus up there. Yes it’s early, but we went up a total of three times and the 6:30am visit was our favourite. We had a clear view of the volcano, there were no lines for the swings, or flying fox. It was so quiet up there we even seen some beautiful baby blue birds! The buses leave at 6, 9, 11 and 1pm and cost $1 each way. The tree house also has a $1 entrance fee.

Volcano Views @ 7am

 

Treehouse Swing, as you can see we arrived late in the day.

 

3 – Puntzan Canopy Tours

Literally the best zip line company in Banos and there are many to choose from. This one company has six zip lines that range from 100-500 meters. They all lead to each other so it made it a bit easier than walking everywhere, although there were a couple of steep uphill that took my breath away, but they had little water tanks and cups waiting for you at the top of the hill. There was always at least two tour guides, one at each end of the lines and I felt completely safe. We paid $20 USD each for the tour and I would absolutely spend it again. Rob made a little video of our tours on his facebook.

 

4 – White water rafting

This was another first for me and it was so amazing. We had 8 team members in the boat and one instructor. They supplied wetsuits, water shoes and a helmet. Obviously along with the boat and paddles. We had a ten minute brief of what the instructions were that he would be telling us and then we were in the water. We all had to jump out of the boat and then save the person who was sitting opposite us, pulling them up by their life jackets. Our boat tipped once and I fell out maybe five times, the water was cold but you actually couldn’t feel it in the wetsuit, only when it was splashed in your face. We were at the end point probably faster than I would have liked. Lunch was provided for us on our way back to Banos. We even got a DVD with all of the pictures and videos the guides took, but unfortunately we have nothing to be able to watch it on, so it will be something to look forward to when we are back in NZ.

 

5 – Exploring the little town

There are many walks heading up hills sprouting off in almost every direction. There is a Mirador walk to the look out above the city and also a hill that we walked up on the opposite side to get a glimpse of the volcano with no luck. The little town is full of little souvenir shops, candy stores and plenty of places to grab coffee ( Honey was our local coffee shop) or a bite to eat. There were also plenty of Murals on walls along the city and even a wall full of mosaics, which looked so cool.

Beautiful Street Art

 

6 – The hot pools

There were four hot pools all together and were not too busy when we went mid morning. They were hot and relaxing but also had a little bit of cloudy water, which made me question the cleanliness of the pools. If this is not a worry for you, then head along! There is also a spectacular water fall right beside the hot pools, which they filter the water and use if for showers.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Banos, although maybe two weeks was a little too long, but it was nice not to have time pressure and be able to do activities on days when the weather suited. Well worth the trip!

Love,

Aileen xx

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Puerto Lopez

We happily headed to the coast of Ecuador to a small little coastal fishing village called Puerto Lopez. We got there via bus from Quito. We arrived and had to get a cute little tuk tuk to our hostel, which was an adventure in itself. We were staying four blocks from the beach which was so beautiful. We went down the first night and watched the sunset. Just wow. The ocean has such an effect on my body and soul. That night in bed we had decided to extend our trip for an extra three days. Pure happiness.

We spent the next few days walking along the beach, collecting rocks and shells.We also found enjoyment watching the crabs do their weird daily sand rolling. The rain then came and we spent the mornings laying in bed listening to the rain on the tin roof. One of my favourite things to do.

The Crab & his rolled balls

 

Finally the sunshine came back, so we went on an adventure to the national parks beach, Playa Los Frailes. We caught a bus to the entrance and walked about twenty minutes to the beach. Along the way we seen such a huge variety of gorgeous butterflies, lizards and birds. There was nothing but nature to hear and it took my breath away. Playa Los Frailes is the most incredible beach I have been to. Beautiful sand, gentle clear blue water and sunshine! We spent most of the day there. Swimming, laying in the sunshine watching the crabs, eating watermelon and climbing to the look out at the top of the cliff.

Playa Los Frailes

 

The next day we had booked in for the Isla de la Plata boat tour. We were very excited for this tour as it was like the poor man’s Galapagos trip. Something that unfortunately didn’t fit into our budget. The boat took 45mins to get to the island where we split into groups and walked along the tracks in hopes to see the wildlife. We chose to walk along the coastline and we were not disappointed. The water was another gorgeous shade of blue, that was hypnotic to watch. We were so grateful to see the blue footed boobys (my main reason for wanting to come) they were such a beautiful and unique bird. It’s not their mating season so there were low amounts of them about. Our tour guide has even shown us a plant that the locals use for a natural sponge. You just had to peel of the shell to use it, I am still using it today! It works wonderfully.

Incredible coastline of Isla De plata
Blue footed Booby

 

Back on the boat we seen some beautiful sea turtles happily splashing around our boat, they are just such a majestic creature. We had a quick lunch and then geared up to go snorkelling off the boat around the corals. This was my first time snorkelling and I absolutely loved being able to see what the fish were doing under the water and how truly beautiful their home is. Such an experience and I will definitely be trying it again when we have the opportunity.

Sea turtle
Sea turtle

 

This little town has so much to offer and I’m so grateful we made the last minute choice to get some sunshine! If you are heading to Puerto Lopez, please buy bottled water ( I know I hate it too, but their tap water is contaminated with Mercury, we were told it was okay to cook with, just not drink) check out the national park beach, there is also a spa resort not far from the national beach where you use natural mud to have face and body masks and a chocolate shop that do small tours. Of course there’s the beach where you can find many restaurants to sit and enjoy the view or, just take your picnic blanket and enjoy it from the beach with sand in your toes.

All my love, Aileen xx

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Bus Tips

Throughout South America I have so far traveled 11,900km by bus. This is the most efficient way to travel in my opinion. It’s the most cost friendly form of transport and a great way to see the country side that you will not see if you are flying. The longest bus ride I have been on was 36 hours. Yep I know! But it’s all worth it when you get to your destination for a reasonable price.

Leaving Buenos Aires

 

I have 10 tips below to help you survive these bus trips.

1 – Bring your own water.
Especially when traveling for longer than 8 hours I recommend to bring at least three liters. On the buses if there is a food service, you usually only get one cup of tea or coffee in the morning and one glass of soft drink at lunch and dinner. So to keep your body and skin happy bring your own water and keep yourself hydrated.

2 – Bring a scarf/blanket.
It can be cold and it’s comforting to have something over you at night. Some of the more expensive companies do supply you with blankets and little pillows, but most do not.

3 – BRING SNACKS!
I always bring snacks with me on the bus trips, after going hungry for almost ten hours as the bus had no vegan options. I had learnt my lesson the hard way. I just take plain bread rolls, with jam or tomato sauce, crackers and fruit like apples and oranges that are a little forgiving for bruising. Even if you can eat the meals on the bus, they are not huge servings and when you are on a ride for 36 hours like I’ve done before, you will thank me when you have your snack attack plan ready in your backpack.

4 – Keep your bag down by your legs.
I know it’s annoying and there already isn’t much space, but it’s probably more annoying to have your bag stolen. This has never happened to us and I have put my bag above me on the rack, but it did have a lock on it and generally I had it up there when I was awake and aware what was happening around me. I’ve also read cautions to keep your bag on your lap. Trust your gut.

5 – Download offline google maps for the whole of your trip.
It’s so nice to know where you are when traveling long distances. This allows you to know where you are and how long you have to go. Just click the lines next to the search bar and go to offline areas, select custom area and download.

6 – Have a portable charger.
If you are going to be busying using your phone for music and games. Especially if you need it for directions at the other end.

7 – Prepare your self with movies, tv shows or a book.
It’s a great way to kill time. But also enjoy the window. Take in where you are and look for what you wouldn’t see back home.

8 – Sleep!!!
When you want and when you can. It’s not always easy to sleep at night, so you go for that little cat nap during the day!

9 – Pack your bathroom essentials.
Like toothbrush, toothpaste, face cloth, essential oils (lavender is my favorite, helps with calming you down and assists you to sleep) deodorant and a change of undies. Also recommend to have your own roll of toilet paper as they never have any on the buses. When on the bus for long periods of time these few items make you feel so fresh! I also like to have my bamboo socks in my backpack to help fight my cold feet syndrome! Haha

10 – Wear appropriate clothing.
Tights and a loose shirt that you can get away with just wearing a singlet instead of a bra is my absolute go to. A light jumper is also great as I find the air conditioning to become too cold for me. Shoes that are easy to slip on and off are also a wonderful idea. Converse chucks are my go to.

I hope these tips assist you in many long happy bus rides. If you have any tips that I haven’t popped in, I’d love to hear them!

Aileen xx

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