First full day exploring Dunedin, NZ

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Dunedin is the second- largest city in the south island of New Zealand. Dunedin is more urban than I expected; you can walk practically anywhere within the lines of the city.

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This past weekend, I had a jam packed day full of exploring around both Dunedin, and its’ surrounding areas.


  1. St. Clair Beach
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First stop is the ocean, are you surprised?

St. Clair is just south of Dunedin and is a popular surfing spot. There are some nice outdoor cafes, but the main draw is the ocean.

2. Sheep

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After a scenic drive on the Otago Peninsula, it was time to tack into a famous icon of New Zealand: sheep. I visited Nature’s Wonders, which offered a sheep sheering demonstration along with any facts you can imagine about wool and the sheep of the area.

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There also was a short herding demonstration.

3. 4-wheeler trek

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What’s awesome about the company mentioned above, is they offer packages where you can see the sheep demonstration and then hop on a 4-wheeler to trek down to sea level. As you can see, the views were green and gorgeous.

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The first official stop was at a Southern fur seal colony (they blend in so well)! Since the fur seal pups were so young, they weren’t daring enough to stray far from mom.

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top tip – If you plan it right, say two weeks from now, the pups are about the age where they get curious about humans and will come close for better viewing.


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(I apologize about the quality, I only had my phone on the tour)

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Next up, was to a beach untouched by humans for seventeen years. What I learned was how temperamental yellow eyed penguins are; if one feels they are unsafe or uncomfortable, their entire colony will flee the next day. A general example is blood or other samples were taken humanely from penguins for research, the next day the whole colony fled.

The yellow eyed penguins are known as one of the rarest penguins of the world; different factors play into their decreasing population, like disease and habitat degradation.

A vital tool in viewing the penguins, is doing it in a way that doesn’t break their trust.

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A tunnel and hidden viewing platform (under vegetation) was built to give both the yellow eyed penguins, and also the blue penguins (another species found here) enough room to do their own thing. Conservation is at its prime importance here in New Zealand, and it’s great.

My tour was able to see a yellow eyed penguin strolling on the beach.

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….but… the penguins have a ramp… for when they get curious…

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4. Signal Hill

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To get to the top you can either walk it, or drive it. This time it was by car, but next time I’m excited to walk up. Signal Hill is located just north of Dunedin and overlooks the Otago harbor. On top there is some parking and areas to picnic.

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5. Baldwin Street

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Known by the Guinness Book of World Records as the steepest street in the world (even beating San Francisco).

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It is an amusing tourist spot, which attracts many different kinds of people. Some walk it, some make it their work out, and some drive it. Those who drive usually are the ones with rental cars because the trek both up and down I would imagine isn’t great for your car… Also there is barely any room up top to turn around to go back down…. but your call!! While I was there, one group even did the drive two times….hm.

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More personal updates will be posted soon. I caught some sort of sickness while traveling, and with it being mixed with jet lag, it has required a longer adjusting period.

But nonetheless, a lot is to come!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

year-round Jersey Shore top spots

In the lines of coming to terms with my departure (where am I going?? check this out), I felt the need to stop by some of my favorite places while at home.

They range from cats to coffee (my two loves), enjoy!

1.Catsbury Park – Asbury Park, NJ.thumb_IMG_3626_1024“Catsbury Park” is a word play on the town it resides in, Asbury Park. It is a cat cafe that opened up in Sept. 2017.

My impression from the beginning: the employees’ main concern was making the building clean and comfortable for the resident cats, while also showcasing them to help them find a permanent home. All the cats living there are adoptable, and are from local animal shelters around Monmouth County. Most of the cats get adopted within 2-3 weeks (which is insane).

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thumb_IMG_3367_1024The cafe is split into two parts: the cafe and the cat room. The cafe offers tea, coffee, snacks and soups, with some vegan and gluten free options. thumb_IMG_3364_1024thumb_IMG_3624_1024The cat room does have an admissions fee (current fees can be found here) but was totally worth it. Around the cafe, were signs mentioning exactly what the fee and anything purchased at the cafe is used for (an example is a 25$ t-shirt they sell, can feed and provide care for a cat for a whole week). They do recommend booking ahead as there is limited space in the cat room. All bookings can be made on their website.

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thumb_IMG_3427_1024thumb_IMG_3490_1024Although, if you chose not to go into the cat room, the cafe is free to enter and you can easily view the cats while grabbing a hot drink to-go. thumb_IMG_3515_1024The staff was very welcoming and really informative about each of the 17 cats’ personalities. Different areas of the room had a “Catsbury Park” take on well known Asbury landmarks (with some hidden spots for the cats too)! thumb_IMG_3521_1024thumb_IMG_3421_1024thumb_IMG_3533_1024thumb_IMG_3608_1024I found it really fun and relaxing to spend time surrounded by little bundles of energy (with occasional cuddles).

2.Crust & Crumble – Asbury Park, NJthumb_IMG_3627_1024Next up is a pizza place and bakery located just down the street from Catsbury Park. An awesome fact is they have an entire vegan menu with loads of options.thumb_IMG_3629_1024They do have a massive regular menu as well, serving pizza, sandwiches, pasta, etc. I found the atmosphere to be warm with a retro feel (very Asbury Park-like).thumb_IMG_3631_1024thumb_IMG_3632_1024aaaaaaaand the pizza is to-die for, just saying.

3.Rook CoffeeMultiple locations throughout the Jersey Shore. Once you are hooked on Rook, well… you’re hooked for life. thumb_IMG_3649_1024Rook focuses on quality, simplicity and experience. The menu is very  straightforward, and I now understand why people are so obsessed. Their stores do not have seating areas, as they revolve around a more upbeat, on the go environment. thumb_IMG_3650_1024Personally, I prefer a less sweet, stronger coffee-taste and they never disappoint; they always give a flavorful cup of coffee.

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4.Broad Street Dough Co. – Oakhurst, NJ thumb_IMG_3635_1024Come here if you want fresh, cake-y donuts, with options that will blow your mind. A majority of the menu is vegan, or does have vegan substitutions. thumb_IMG_3642_1024thumb_IMG_3644_1024Each time I visit, there are new specials displayed behind the counter. They also create custom doughnut concoctions for special occasions (their website can be viewed here).thumb_IMG_3640_1024Let me remind you.

They are made fresh to order.

genius.

Although I created this blog to document my time abroad, I felt my at-home preparation is important to fill in the gaps of my personal story.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

…let the countdown begin

I leave for New Zealand in two weeks.

I’m going to repeat that to help my personal denial wake up, I leave in TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!!!

how am I preparing? did I actually start packing? what do I still need to get? culture shock, what!?

Packing has begun (as of today), and I am trying to be as minimalistic as possible. I’ve always been pretty good at packing and going over what I need and what I don’t. I have gradually been crossing off things from my “opposite-land” list (almost done EEEEEEE), and surprisingly don’t need to get as much as I thought I did!!!

I think most of the preparation for my departure abroad is mental preparation. I am still in shock thinking that this is happening. I feel it won’t hit me until I leave the states. I have been so consumed with what is in front of me that I am not necessarily thinking of where I will be two weeks from now. On one side, it’s a good thing because I’m actively practicing one of  my goals (see: What I hope to accomplish abroad). Although, on the other, I don’t want to be consumed with so much awe that I get distracted (let’s be real I am going to sit on the beaches and stare at fur seals and sob #marinebiomajorsunite).

Once I get there, I think I am going to be so overly ecstatic with everything new and exciting that I will be living on a cloud for a while; there’s nothing wrong with expressing happiness and excitement.

Any tips for me? for possible culture shock? packing? breathing?

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Fortress Hohensalzburg – a photo diary || Salzburg, Austria

When visiting Austria this past summer, Salzburg was one of the main stops. Besides the attraction of “Sound of Music” tours and filming locations, the Hohensalzburg Castle was pretty hard to miss; It overtakes the Salzburg skyline.

The fortress was built in the eleventh century, under the rule of the Archbishop at the time. The castle only went under siege once, in the German Peasant’s War in 1525. By the 19th century, Hohensalzburg was made a staple tourist attraction. It is known as one of the largest and best preserved castles of 11th century Europe.

At the time, I sadly only had my iphone for taking photos so I apologize for the quality.

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To make it to the castle you have two options: hike or take the tram. To save money, my family and I hiked (yes, I mean hike. the pathways/stairs get very steep at the top). Although, the steepest part is at the end; so, even if you take the tram, which goes almost to the top, you will have to hike up the steepest part (which thankfully had spread out steps to help hold your grip).

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There was some signs showing us where to go, but at times it was guessing (& thinking, well ok I know I’m going to head up somehow…).

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A good tip is knowing that there is an admissions fee to enter the fortress grounds. I don’t remember it being that reasonable, especially if all travelers are adults.

After admissions there is, in fact, another steep hill, and a few staircases!!! (Yay!! time to treat yourself to some Austrian pastries!!!!!) The path opens to a large court with a gift shop, restrooms, etc.

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Upon entering the very top, there is a few museum-type exhibits going into the history of the fortress (the lines get long but move quick).

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The top has multiple 360 viewing areas. The amount of photo opportunities even on a cloudy day is insane.

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I recommend leaving yourself a lot of time to explore all the rooms and viewing areas. The views are worth every broken sweat. Times like this, only make me want to explore European castles to the fullest extent possible.

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Continue reading “Fortress Hohensalzburg – a photo diary || Salzburg, Austria”

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