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Month Fifty Three saw me finally escape North America after 18 months there, and it has been so nice to have a change.
I spent the first day of the month in New York City, biking around Brooklyn, visiting the Time Out Market and taking a ferry to Williamsburg, then I flew out to Denver in the evening.
In Denver, I returned to cold weather and mostly holed up inside for the six days I was back. I finished working my remote temping position for Vendavo, and got prepared for my big trip, but we also had fun at a big Halloween Party, hot tub soaking at our short housesit, and walking through the Glow at the Gardens Halloween light show at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
After narrowly escaping the snowy grips of Denver, I traveled to Sydney via a two night stopover in Waikiki.
I spent six nights in Sydney, and it was great to hang out with my friend Beck and her boyfriend Jonny in Mona Vale, as well as visiting other friends and some of my favorite places in Sydney, including Manly, the Bondi to Coogee walk, Newtown, The Rocks and the Botanic Gardens.
From Sydney, I flew to Auckland and I spent a week there, hanging out my friends and family, visiting the Domain and the museum, celebrating my birthday in Devonport, and having lunch in Matakana with my Dad and Aunties.
After Auckland, I drove to my Mum’s in Papamoa and spent five days there, walking around the Mount and along the beach, seeing old friends for lunches and coffees, and spending lots of time with my Mum.
The last two nights of the month I spent in Cambridge and Hamilton, visiting my cousin Nikki and her kiddies first, then my friend Ann Maree and her family.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: USA
- New York: New York City
- Colorado: Denver
- Hawaii: Waikiki
- Australia: Sydney
- New Zealand: Auckland, Matakana, Papamoa, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hamilton
National Parks and Monuments Visited: None this month
Islands Visited: Leisure Island in Mount Maunganui
Best Meal: Assorted bagels and cream cheeses from the Bagel Pub in Brooklyn; Tim Ho Wan dumplings in Waikiki; Vegetarian full breakfast from Belgrave Cartel in Sydney; Lime and coriander marinated John Dory with potato scallops from a Fish Called Coogee in Sydney; Chicken dumplings from Sumthin Dumplin in Auckland; Fish of the Day from Le Garde Manger in Auckland; Snapper and Scallop Risotto from Matakana Market Kitchen in Matakana.
Worst Meal: I had been so excited to go to Bang up to the Elephant in Denver, and the restaurant was very funky and I loved the sides, but unfortunately my BBQ seitan was super sickly sweet and I didn’t feel great after eating it. I would go back but would never order that again.
Best Craft Beer: Pink Gallah Pink Lemonade Sour from Grifters Brewery in Marrickville, Sydney and Freshie Watermelon Gose from Nomad Brewing in Brookvale, Sydney.
- Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach coastal walk in Sydney, Australia 6 miles/10km
- Blue Lake loop trail in Rotorua, New Zealand 3.5 miles/5.5km
- Mount Maunganui Base track loop in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand 2.2 miles/3.5km
- Lake Rotoroa loop trail in Hamilton, New Zealand 2.3 miles/3.8km
Reading: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. Wow I loved this book – such a gripping story and beautifully told. The real star of the show in this story for me is the remote Alaskan wilderness, where the Allbright family escape from the real world in the 1970s. The story gets pretty dark but it is SUCH A GOOD BOOK.
Watching: I saw the controversial Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi on my birthday and I really enjoyed it. It’s about a boy in Nazi Germany who is part of the Hitler Youth and has Hitler as his imaginary friend. It is a lot more complex than I thought, and more emotional, while still being funny and lighthearted. A must watch.
A Beautiful Sunny Fall Day in New York City
My last day in New York was glorious – warm and sunny. Dani and I biked around Prospect Park loving the fall colors, then had a drink on the rooftop of the Timeout Market, took a ferry to Williamsburg, then finished the day with a slice at Best Pizza. It was an excellent last day in NYC.
Halloween Fun at Fo and Afor’s Annual Halloween Party
Since moving to the US, Halloween has fast become one of my favorite holidays, and my favorite way to celebrate is at a big house party – my brother-in-law’s and sister-in-law’s to be exact. Their annual Halloween party is always so much fun with a really great mix of people, and this year was no different. There was a DJ, lots of delicious food, and friends and family to catch up with. What a fun night and worth the awful hangover the next day.
A Short but Sweet Stopover in Waikiki
I decided to break up my flight to Australia with a two night stop in Hawaii, and I am so glad I did. As I have been to Waikiki many times before, on this short stopover I could just relax as I didn’t need to rush around seeing everything.
I walked the half hour out to Leonard’s for the best malasada donuts in Hawaii, walked along the beach, sunbathed and swam, ate lunch and had a cocktail overlooking the beach at Hula Grill, and had dumplings at Tim Ho Wan. It was the perfect short trip back to one of my favorite states.
A Day out with one of my Besties in Sydney
One of the reasons I wanted to spend a week in Sydney was to catch up with one of my best friends Beck. She took a couple of days off while I was there, and on one of those days we planned an adventure together which turned out to be so fun!
We started in The Rocks, eating crepes at iconic Pancake on the Rocks, wandering through the historic streets and checking out the Barangaroo Reserve, which wasn’t finished the last time I was in the city. From there we went to the Botanic Gardens, then took a train to one of my favorite places in Sydney: Newtown.
We had lunch at one of my old faves – Pho 236 – then checked out the shops, before finishing up at Grifters Brewery in Marrickville, which had a very inventive and impressive beer menu. What a day!
Brewery Hopping in Sydney
Beck and Jonny wanted to take me brewery hopping in the Northern Beaches suburb of Brookvale, which is now home to four breweries, so we did this on the Sunday afternoon I was in town. We visited 7th Day, Nomads and 4 Pines Truckbar, and although the beer selection was generally not as exciting as Colorado (I am SO spoilt for amazing beer there), I had a really fun afternoon and the beer was good.
We finished at Modus Operandi brewery up in Mona Vale, and then it was time to call it – I am in my late 30s after all.
Walking the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk in Sydney
One of the things I loved about living in Sydney was all the great coastal walks, and one of my favorites (and the most famous) is the 10km coastal trail from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. It had been a few years since I had done it, so I was looking forward to hiking it again on this visit.
The day was beautiful, and although the first quarter of the walk was pretty crowded due to the Sculptures by the Sea Exhibit being on, I loved it. It’s just a shame that the water was still too cold to swim, although it didn’t stop some people.
I finished the day with fancy fish and potato scallops in Coogee, and reading on the beach.
Catching up with Friends and Family in Australia and New Zealand
I was so lucky to see so many people I care about during my time in Sydney and New Zealand, including a lot of family and friends that I haven’t seen for ages. This is the best part about coming home and my heart felt very full.
A Low Key Birthday in Auckland
This year I turned 37, and as it wasn’t a big birthday, I wanted a pretty low-key celebration. I caught the ferry to the seaside village of Devonport to meet up with my friend Krystie for lunch, then we walked along the beach and around the top of North Head.
After Krystie left, I went to the historic Victoria Theatre to see Jojo Rabbit, then caught the ferry back to the city to go for a drink at Eagle Bar, then dinner at Le Garde Manger with Dad and Kurt. It was a fun day out.
Breakfast, a Hike and a Soak Rotorua
I love Rotorua, and as it is only a 50 minute drive away from my Mum’s place in Papamoa, it was easy to spend a day there. I left early to go for breakfast at my friends Raoul and Nat’s place, and another couple of friends Shane and Karlene came too with their kids, as well as Nat’s sister Alex, who I hadn’t seen since London days, with her husband and daughter. It was a lovely morning catching up with everyone and meeting the kids.
After breakfast, I drove to Blue Lake and hiked the trail around there, then walked around Government Gardens, checked out the mud pools and steam vents around the lake, then spent a couple of blissful hours soaking in the various thermal pools at Polynesian Spa.
A perfect day in Rotorua.
Beach Time in Papamoa and the Mount
Although it was too early in the season to swim, I really enjoyed being at the beach. I walked along the beach a couple of times, as well as walking around Leisure Island and the Mount. Smelling that sea air was therapeutic and just what I needed.
Snow Storms in Denver
Denver had some crazy snowstorms at the end of October – just as I was arriving back from New York, then again when I was preparing to leave for my big trip.
Leaving our house sit and driving into the city so I could drop off my work laptop was pretty hairy, then I was stressing the morning of my flight that it would be delayed or cancelled, as about half the flights departing Denver were, but I was so lucky that even after being de-iced, we still left on time. It could have definitely been a lot worse.
Month Fifty Three is looking a lot better than my previous two months of crazy overspending. My biggest costs this month was the nearly $400 I spent on domestic flights, and the money I spent at the doctor. The next month should look pretty similar if not a bit lower – other than the dental work I need to get done.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of two nights in a hostel dorm in Waikiki.
For the rest of the month, I spent 3 nights housesitting in Denver, 3 nights with family in Denver, 1 night was lost because of time zone changes, six nights at a friend’s place in Sydney, eight nights at my Dad’s place in Auckland, six nights at my Mum’s in Papamoa, 1 night at my cousin’s in Cambridge and one night at a friend’s in Hamilton.
Food and Drink $633
A more reasonable amount, thanks to staying with friends and family for a lot of the month. Also, the US dollar is worth even more than usual against the NZ dollar and Aussie dollar so even expensive meals over here aren’t actually too bad right now.
- Summer dress $44
- Black leggings $20
- Jandals $14
- Gas $57
- Ubers/Lyfts $85
- Denver Public Transport $21
- Flight from NYC to Denver $88.50
- Flight from Denver to Honolulu $297
- Public Transport in Sydney $54
- Return ferry Auckland to Devonport $9.50
I don’t include International Flights in my spending recaps
- Tickets to Glow at the Gardens $42
- Movie ticket – Jojo Rabbit $10.50
- Polynesian Spa entry fee $20.50
- Toiletries $41
- Gifts $89
- Phone $69
- Kindle books x 2 $25
- Flight entertainment $13
- Reusable bag $9
- Doctor Check up and mole check $118
- Brunch Club ticket $7
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van Costs $61
- Van Insurance for one month $61
What’s in Store for Next Month
I will be spending the first two weeks of the month in New Zealand, starting with a weekend in Papamoa to celebrate Mum’s birthday.
From Papamoa I will be driving back up to Auckland for a night, then I’ll be leaving for a five day road trip with my friend Kurt, visiting Taranaki and South Waikato. We plan to explore the coastal city of New Plymouth and some small coastal towns in Taranaki, two days hiking the Pouakai Circuit in Egmont National Park, then the last couple of nights in Tokoroa with our friend Eddie who bought a house there.
When I get back from the road trip, I will have three nights in Auckland where I will be catching up on work and running errands, then I fly to Bangkok to reunite with Toby.
We have a week planned in Bangkok and I will be getting some more dental work done, but I also want to re-visit Chatuchak Market, eat loads of Thai food, and visit a couple of new spots like a floating market and the Jim Thompson house. And of course, there will be massages.
The last 10 days of the month will be spent island-hopping in Thailand’s eastern islands, starting on Koh Chang then visiting Koh Kood and maybe Koh Mak. I can’t wait for scooter trips around the islands and lots of beach time!
To read additional Monthly Round ups, you can find them here