Hobbiton – The Shire

TODAY WAS THE BEST DAY EVER.

I WENT TO HOBBITON. 

 I SAW THE BEAUTIFUL SHIRE.

I WALKED THE PATHS OF BAG END. 

 I can’t believe that I was finally able to go.

I remember falling in love with Tolkien when I was just in middle school.

Now, here I am, years later and I saw where so many of the hobbit shenanigans were filmed.

I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE IT.

It was everything I dreamt it’d be..

We started out our day with arriving on the grounds for our tour. Upon arrival, we were whisked onto a big, green bus plastered with The Hobbit logo across the back.

Slowly, the driver pulled out onto the road that led us down to the completed set and we were immediately stopped by about a billion sheep that were crossing the road. Literally. It was pretty cool, actually. 

 After patiently waiting for the sheep to cross, we were finally off. The drive down to the set was only about 15 minutes and our driver was hilarious and full of film trivia. Great start to the tour.

Once we arrived to the set, we exited the bus and began the walking tour. Our tour guide had introduced herself on the bus as Rosie and immediately my first thought was, “Oh, that’s gotta be some sort of a fake name joke thing.. No way is that really her name.. ” But it turns out that it was aaaaaaand get this, another tour guide’s name there is Sam and he just so happens to be her roommate. WHAT. Already this tour was off to a magnificent start. 

 Anyway, we start walking through The Shire and instantly, I’m mesmerized. Okay, actually I’d been mesmerized since I’d gotten out of the car.. But anyway..

The entire area was gloriously beautiful. Each hobbit hole was so intricately decorated and built.. All of the trees were vibrant and green.. Even the paths to walk on were bright yellow and colorful. 

  I was completely taken aback by the intricacy of the entire place and by all of the strenuous work that each member of the crew put into making Hobbiton vibrantly come to life. For example, the tree that sits behind Bilbo’s house was originally found elsewhere and then cut into 25 different pieces and then put back together on set. And then, later on when they wanted to start filming The Hobbit, they wanted to use the same tree but it had previously died and they still wanted to use it, so they sewed 200,000 fake leaves onto it. The whole process took two years to complete.

WOW.

Dedication.

The whole of the set was just as detailed and meticulously perfected as that one tree. Such an astonishing thing to behold. Especially for a Tolkien lover such as myself.

 
Rosie let us meander as we pleased throughout the whole of the grounds (for the most part – some parts were roped off). Every so often, she’d pull us all back together to tell us more about filming and I learned so much that I hadn’t previously known but I’m still just so excited and over the moon right now that I can’t think of anything because my mind is a blur of colorful hobbit holes and bright pastures. 

  

At the end of the tour, we all met up at The Green Dragon, just like in the films and were given a complimentary ale/cider to gulp down like Pip and Merry (okay, maybe I was the only one gulping it down but that’s because I’m so dedicated that I actually forgot that I, in fact, am not Pippin or Merry.. ). 

 

     

 
At the end of the tour, there’s a cafe called The Shire’s Rest that has a gaggle of hobbit foods and snacks to gobble down if you so please. And of course I did. So get this, I actually ordered “second breakfast.” YES. It was literally an item on the menu.

SECOND BREAKFAST. 

 And I happily finished it all. Pip and Merry would be proud.

So, there you have it, today I became a hobbit. 
 My life is complete.

“Little by little, one travels far.” 

 

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Two Days in Auckland

So, I’ve safely landed in New Zealand! I landed yesterday at 7am, ready to go. I even slept a whole five hours on the 13 hour flight! Wow (insert small levels of sarcasm here because I’m actually impressed I slept that much.. but also.. that’s not very much)!

As per my previous post on jet lag, I didn’t sleep after landing, we just went out and did things and it worked out great!

We saw the Sky Tower.. 

 
We explored the city center..

We went and got fish & chips takeout and ate it on the beach, Point Chev – apparently, “so kiwi.. ” 

 
We took a stroll on the beach and took crazy adorable photos..

  
And I’m sure we did much more but I’m just so exhausted after 24 hours of flying followed by two days in the sun & heat that I can’t function properly right now.

But that’s okay because it’s all been so incredible so far!

Moving on to today, we first climbed Mount Eden, the tallest natural point in Auckland, that also has a great view of the whole city.. 

   
And then.. THE BEST PART.. we walked the trail at Kitekite Falls to the biggest and most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen in my life. It was magnificent! 

 
   
Next, was Piha Beach.. Sprinkled with glittery black sand and filled with the sound of crashing waves, it’s one of New Zealand’s best & also most dangerous spots to surf.. Also it’s just plain gorgeous.. 

   
Finally, we went to Hallertau Brewey and tried some of their beers – which were super delicious. My favorite was #4, black beer.. 

    
  
And now, I need to go to bed because like I said, these past two days have been exhausting, especially with the heat and humidity.

My first two days in New Zealand are over, now bring on the rest!

One Flight Down, Two More to go: The New Zealand Adventure Has Begun

Well, it’s happening folks! Six months of planning, saving, working and waiting has finally come to a close and I’ve begun my trip to New Zealand! 

 It’s going to be a long next 24 hours but that’s okay, I have my LOTR books ready to go so I will not get bored!! I will not get bored.. I.. Will.. Not.. Get.. Bored..

Okay, so I’m already bored. First layover and it’s already too many. The next 24 hours of my life will be spent on planes and I could not be more thrilled.

*Exhausted.

As tradition goes, my entire family – parents, brother, future sis in law, grandparents and baby cousins/sisters/nieces/daughters (I’m only speaking of two individuals here, in case you didn’t know) – met up at Ihop for breakfast and then drove over to the airport together and they all watched me take off. 

   
We ate lots of food.

We ran around the airport.

I was tired from barely sleeping last night in anticipation for today.

Mom was sad.

That’s how the morning went and it was wonderful – aside from the immediate exhaustion and Mom being sad, of course.

 Now, I’m chillin’ alone in the airport, reading The Fellowship of the Ring and already wanting these next 24 hours to be over but it’s okay.. I’ll just kill the time on MY THIRTEEN HOURS STRAIGHT ACROSS THE OCEAN FLIGHT by watching as many scary movies as I can fit into one nonstop sitting.

Yeah, so the journey has begun.

Now, excuse me while I go eat all the McDonald’s that my wallet can handle.

Finding Flights

Continuing with the money and hard work theme from my post a couple days ago, I thought I’d share this awesome article that I found on aworldofcrazy.com all about how to find cheap flights for your adventures.

Not only is it hard work just being able to afford to travel, sometimes it’s also hard finding good flights on the cheap.. Right now I have about seven flight alerts set up through my Kayak app for places here in the U.S. that I plan to visit after New Zealand.. Colorado, Florida, Portland.. Everywhere basically.

However, “A World of Crazy” talks all about Skyscanner – a site that compares all the cheapest fares you could ever hope to find – & gives great tips on how to travel for cheap. As a spontaneous and free spirited traveler, I love Skyscanner too because if you’re flexible enough with dates, it can be a lifesaver.

I myself learned something awesome and new in this article.. I had never heard of Skip Lagged before but after reading this post I learned that there is a way to save money on flights by using layovers as final destinations! Which is awesome!

Read their article below to get the details and find some more awesome tips for finding flights!

Source: Finding Flights

First Step Toward the Next Adventure

As my waiting time for New Zealand was winding down, I decided to do something crazy and have my first adventure right here at home in the U.S. in preparation for the big adventure.

I decided to dye my hair pastel purple and pink.

Now, this was a huge deal for me. I’d never even dyed my hair in my life until I was about 21 years old. I mean, granted I totally went for it when I finally did dye my hair and went from my natural brunette to an all over Barbie doll blonde. But still, this purple was going to be a huge adventure in itself. 

 ..but I love it! It’s so bright and fairy-like and perfect for the month I’ll be gone.

There we go, first New Zealand adventure done!

It’s Almost New Zealand Time!

Six months ago I downloaded the app, “Countdown,” and set my countdown for the day I leave for New Zealand to be reunited with my other half. Back then it was almost 200 days until the countdown ended but now here we are, mere days until I take off and I can’t believe it’s finally time!

I’ve been planning this trip since the day I returned home from Paris. It’s taken me half a year, three jobs at once, no social life and some sleepless nights but now that it’s time to go I know that it was all worth it. I’ve worked my booty off so much to be able to save up for this trip and it’ll be so fulfilling to finally step off that plane in Auckland and into the arms of my best friend.  

 Now that it’s finally time, I feel like it’s okay for me to talk about how I got here. Once I decided on New Zealand, I started saving immediately. I figured up my budget – for my flight, for all things in New Zealand and for my bills while I’m gone – and knew that I wouldn’t accept anything less and would somehow make it work so that in six months, I’d have this much saved up for when I left. I got three jobs (most days I worked all three in a day) and saved every penny I made.

I made myself a DIY adventure jar that I put all of my loose change in (it actually worked – I’ve saved up almost $200 through that adventure jar alone) and started hanging out with friends mainly just at home in my apartment. It was certainly a tough last six months. Every time anyone would ask me to go out for the night, my response would always be, “Sorry, I don’t have monies.. Wanna come hang out at my place?” It got old pretty quickly but I didn’t mind, I knew what I was working toward. 

 Now look! I made everything I needed for my budget and I’ve saved up $500 more than the goal I set for myself. I am certainly well off on everything we have planned to do in NZ – AND for all of my bills back here in the U.S. Yeah, I saved up enough for a month long trip to New Zealand in six months – in addition to paying all of my living expenses on time that I already have while living on my own. YOU COULD SAY I’M A LITTLE PROUD OF THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT.

It was tough.. And I’m exhausted after everything.. But I did it.

Travel is everything to me so once I set my mind to something and decide on a new place to go – I make it happen. No questions asked. If you work hard for what you love, you can make it happen, too.

NEW ZEALAND HERE I COME!

How to Beat That Jet Lag Once and For All

Everyone knows that jet lag can be such a bummer. It can start your trip off on the wrong foot and impact it entirely. I know firsthand what it’s like to get off that plane and just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for days.

When I first arrived in Paris to start my au pair adventure, I was exhausted. Those ten hours of flying had caught up to me immediately and I stepped off the plane feeling disgusting and in dire need of a nap.
Little did I know that there are some tips and tricks to defeat that sluggishness that causes all of us to want to scream & pass out.

For instance, instead of letting me sleep and catch up on rest, my French family immediately took me home and gave me a tour of their flat, took me to my own apartment to fully unpack & then shower to get cleaned up before we went out to a late lunch together. They kept me going the whole day after I arrived until the evening so that I could get on a regular sleep schedule again. That’s one of the biggest no no’s of jet lag – to try to immediately sleep it off. Sleep will just make everything worse. I made the mistake of letting my best friend sleep all she wanted when she came to visit me for Christmas abroad. She’d end up sleeping until 3pm every day and going to bed early. Sleep is never the answer! We learned that the hard way.

Aside from how I coped with my jet lag my first day in Paris, there are many other tips and tricks to defeat that seemingly inevitable stream of crankiness from flights and this article from The Huffington Post helped me immensely in preparation for my upcoming NZ trip! I learned so much through what The Huff Post had to say on the subject and now I’m getting even more excited for this loooooong flight!

Click here to learn some new ways to battle jet lag!