Tag Archives: Beach

Napier – Art Deco Capital of New Zealand

The last stop on our New Zealand trip was Napier, which is a town on the eastern coast of the North Island. After an earthquake in 1931 wiped out most of the city, they decided to rebuild it in the Art Deco style so it’s a unique and interesting town to walk around. The buildings have so much character and we really enjoyed checking them all out – many of them are in the art deco style, some were extra colorful, and all were lively and fun to admire.

Napier Collage

After walking around town a bit, we went out to see the nearby coast while the weather was nice. We quickly noticed a sign for roller blade rentals – we had recently been joking about how we wished we could try roller blading again because we both had loved it as kids. And there, right in front of us, was our chance so we went for it – it’s not every day you get the opportunity to relive your youth, right?! I have to admit, it was not as easy as I remember it being when I was little but we had a blast nonetheless and spent the afternoon roller blading along the trail by the beach!

Rollerblading in Napier

Our hotel, the Art Deco Masonic Hotel, was one of my favorite buildings – it certainly had the charm from the 1920′s on the exterior as well as the interior…I loved that they had taken efforts to preserve such a fun era! Our first night there, we ended up playing trivia in the bar below the hotel  - we formed a team with another one of the locals and had a great time! Travel Tip – We always try to find local activities to do to learn a bit more about what life is really like in those locations beyond the big touristy sights. We find it often leads to some of the more unforgettable memories from our trips. If you ask around, you can usually find some fun things to do that way, and maybe even some locals to join in!

Art Deco Masonic Hotel Collage

The next day, we rented bikes and visited many Gimblett Gravels wineries in Hawke’s Bay. The best part about this was that a lot of the wineries were small, family owned businesses, so we had a chance to talk to the owners while they explained more about their wines – it’s fun to get to know the face behind the wine so we usually ended up buying a bottle after the tasting, put it in the baskets on our bikes and continued on our journey. Some of them had great food platters, too, so we enjoyed olives, fresh breads/oils, and salami & cheeses. It was such a wonderful day! (Unfortunately we didn’t have our camera that day so we didn’t get too many pictures…we’ll just have to take more next time we go!).

Napier Wine Tasting Collage

Sadly, this brought our vacation to an end…it was such an incredible adventure! We loved every minute that we got to spend in New Zealand hope to return one day!

Air New Zealand

NYE in Sydney!

As I said before in my last post about Sydney, spending New Years Eve in this amazing city was very high on my bucket list! We booked a cruise ahead of time so we could enjoy the fireworks in one of the best seats in the city. With tickets in hand, we didn’t have to board until 7 PM meaning we had all day to explore a bit more. So, to make our NYE even more amazing, we headed to Bondi Beach to spend the day.

Bondhi Beach 2

The weather was perfect so we enjoyed the day at the beach before heading back into town to get ready for the main event!

Bondhi Beach Collage

We went to Darling Harbor to get on the boat and then took a cruise around Sydney harbor – we got a great view of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.

Sydney NYE Harbor Cruise

Harbor Bridge on NYE

Our cruise boat was in the Harbor of Lights parade so all of the ships had lights all over them and we made a big loop around the water before parking right in the front row.

Harbor of Lights Parade

We were one of a few ships allowed to be as close to the bridge & Opera House…we were literally right in the front row.

Front Row Seat - NYE Fireworks

The fireworks were amazing – it’s hard to put into words just how awesome it was. It was absolutely the best firework show we’ve ever seen!

Sydney NYE Fireworks 1

Sydney Fireworks 2

It was the best way to ring in the New Year – 2014 is going to be one to remember! I’m so glad we went and highly recommend everyone putting this on their bucket list!

White Beach

Every time we left our hotel, the tricycle driver, Raul  would ask us if we wanted to go to “White Beach” and we finally took him up on the offer.  He got his buddy  with an additional tricycle and we all headed that way. We were worried that it was going to be a very touristy beach but when we got there, we were the only foreigners on the beach and there were a lot of locals out enjoying the sun and the sea – perfect atmosphere for us.
White Beach
They had small huts with tables so one of the locals found us one and then brought us a cooler and a few blocks of ice with some beer in it.
Group in Beach Hut
It had quite the beach front view which made it even more awesome.
View from Hut
We went to the stalls nearby and got some food and we had a really delicious little lunch (approximate price for all 6 of us including drinks: $10).
White Beach Feast
We were silly and forgot towels and they didn’t have any for sale so we got sarongs instead which we showed off later and the locals got a kick out of that (they were all laughing and waving at us).
Sarongs

We loved our sarongs so much that the boys got jealous and wanted to try them out…this is when the cheering and laughing from the other beach patrons erupted.

Men in Sarongs

We spent some time swimming and hanging out in the water – it was the perfect temperature and the scenery was to die for. These pictures truly don’t do it justice.
Drinks at the Beach
Best Friends in Philippines
White Beach Group Shot
It was such a relaxing place…even the dogs were lounging around and enjoying the beautiful weather.
Dog at White Beach
One thing we discovered about the Filipino culture is that they are extremely friendly. They were very eager to talk to us and even wanted to take pictures with us which was funny.
Posing with the Locals
Wanted to take pics with us
Matt's Filipino Friend
Ben also got recruited to the volleyball team.
White Beach Volleyball
We watched the gorgeous sunset to close out one of the best days we’ve ever had.
Girls enjoying the sunset
Ryan & I White Beach Sunset

Exploring Geoje Island with Ryan’s Parents!

We spent the rest of the week exploring Geoje island which is quite beautiful. On New Year’s Eve, we went out for a great dinner and then woke up early the next day to watch the sunrise. We were told by all of the Koreans that this is the cultural tradition here. Luckily for us, we had a great spot in our apartment to watch this, so we brewed some fresh coffee and enjoyed it together. Great way to see the first sunrise of 2013!

First Sunrise in 2013

Afterwards, we went on a great hike to one of the smoke signals up on the mountain that was used many years ago to warn Korea against a potential invading Japan. Then, we took a wonderful drive around the island, stopping at two of our favorite beaches: Gujora Beach and then the Pebble Beach – I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s full of black pebbles, so we just call it the pebble beach. We had beautiful sunshine and truly enjoyed our day!

Exploring Geoje Island

Exploring Geoje Island

We also made a stop at one of the local open markets which was fun – the fish market is an experience that everyone has to have in Asia. It’s hard to describe  in words and have someone truly understand what it’s like – you have to experience it. It certainly gives a new meaning to the word “fresh.”

Local Korean Fish Market

We also took them to our favorite Korean BBQ place, Seo Rae.

Enjoying Korean BBQ

The best part was getting to see them – being around family is so important to both Ryan and I so this was such a blessing! CeCe even taught me to crochet so I need to get back to practicing so I can start making fun gifts for everyone! CeCe and Tim did some exploring on their own during the day while Ryan and I were at work…she’s already promised me a post about their experiences, so stay tuned!

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket! We had heard that it was paradise and we simply had to go! We spent the first afternoon going on a long run, relaxing by the pool, and then enjoying a nice dinner. The next day, we got up and spent the day at Kata Beach which is simply gorgeous. We took some fun pictures at night when the long boats came in to dock. :)

By the end of our beach day, we decided we wanted to try something exciting, so we booked ourselves a discovery scuba dive for the next day. This was going to be Ryan’s first time diving and my second and we wanted to test it out to see if we wanted to get certified sometime in the future. So…we headed out to sea and stopped at a smaller island called, Rachai Yai which was stunningly beautiful. The water was emerald and there were great sea creatures all around!

We did our first dive and then went around to another side of the island for our second dive. I have to admit I was a little nervous but I was feeling pretty good towards the end of our first dive and our second dive was great! Ryan was a pro and did awesome!!

When we got back on the boat, they served pancakes which were amazing and it was a great end to a wonderful day! Our dive instructor was awesome and even took a picture with us at the end of the day! She told us to act like we were under water…I don’t think she expected me to be such a goof ball because she couldn’t stop laughing, haha.

The next day we went on a speed boat tour to Ko Phi Phi. This tour was awesome – there were only 7 of us on the tour so it was really nice to have such a small group. The captain of the boat was really funny, too, because he told us his name was “Porn” but told us if we were uncomfortable calling him that, we could call him “Captain.”

We got to explore the beautiful islands of Ko Phi Phi and do a lot of snorkeling! It really was incredibly beautiful! There were lots of islands with big limestone cliffs and coves with crystal water…it was just awesome! They filmed the movie The Beach at Maya Bay which we had a chance to check out (unfortunately I don’t have any pictures because it’s super crowded so our boat dropped us off on the other side of the island so we could walk through and stand on the beach which was really fun – it required us swimming to the island, too which was pretty cool but took away any potential for us bringing our camera) but trust me, it’s gorgeous!! Google it if you don’t believe me. They also took us to a small cove to have lunch and we were the only people on the beach for a bit which was incredible! It truly felt like paradise! We did a bunch more snorkeling and then we headed back to Phuket.

In the evening, we decided to be brave and try the fish spa that we had passed in town a few times. These fish naturally eat dead skin so as soon as you put your feet in, they swarm to your legs and start nipping at your legs and feet – it tickled SO much!! I could barely stand it but we kept our feet in and our skin was so clean afterwards!! It was funny!

The next day, we headed to Cambodia…

Summer!

I need to catch up on activities from the past couple of weekends – the rainy season in Korea is over so our sunny weekends are back and we’ve been taking advantage of it!The past two weekends, we have taken some time to see the “sights” on the island. The first weekend, we went to the Mungdong Waterfall. I am a huge fan of waterfalls, so every time I see that word, I’m immediately interested to go check it out. We drove to the area and there was a huge line of cars to get to the parking lot, so we decided to park in an empty spot at the bottom of the hill and walk up to the entrance (I’m not sure why more people didn’t have this idea as well, because there were a lot of angry Koreans in cars and we were the only people walking).We got to the entrance, and Ryan showed me that the path of rocks was designed for you to walk barefoot across and it targeted different parts of your feet to cleanse other parts of your organs. Sounded good enough, so I took off my shoes and started walking across the rocks. It was incredibly painful – you can tell my feet have been in shoes my whole life, haha. Many of the Koreans giggled at me as they walked by because I was making my usual squeaks as I walked across the torture rocks. Ryan kept encouraging me that it feels really great when you’re done, so I kept going. When we got to the end, and stepped on the normal path, it did feel really good. My feet felt rejuvenated - it was crazy!

Start of the Trail

These rocks were much tougher to walk on than some of the smoother ones, but they probably did the most rejuvenation :)

Ryan walking over the rocks

As we were walking, we noticed that there were people camping (or what appeared to be camping) all along the river coming off of the waterfall. The place was packed! They had their grills out and many of them were napping on the rocks or along this path while their kids played in the small pools in the little river. It was interesting because the idea would never have crossed my mind to set up camp on a rock by a river and take a nap there. In the States, people would have their nice camping chairs and other comfortable “necessities”…it’s nice seeing people who take advantage of the small things and enjoy the day wherever they are.

We got up to the top and saw the Waterfall…it was a nice little waterfall and we hiked up to the top to look down. There were a bunch of kids taking turns jumping into the pool at the bottom so this is clearly a hot spot with the kids!

It’s hard to tell from the picture but there IS water flowing down :)

The next Saturday, we headed to the Sculpture Park and walked one of the trails there with Cory & Rachel. It was really hot so we didn’t want to do a hardcore hike, so we thought this would be a good alternative.

This is the Sculpture Park – there are several sculptures and the park is right next to the water!

More sculptures…

As with all of the hiking trails we’ve been on, there is outdoor exercising equipment! I doubt there are very many fitness facilities in such a beautiful spot (the view of the water and islands behind is so nice!)

Cory going to do dips

This was next to us for a ways during our hike – I love the waves crashing on the rocks!

At the end of the trail were these red stairs to this lighthouse so we climbed up and checked out the view

The view from the lighthouse – we live in such a beautiful place!

We wanted to hike down to the rocks to get a better view, so we found a trail that took us down there and it was well worth the trek down!

Ryan has been going mountain biking every Sunday mornings which he absolutely LOVES! This video shows the mountain behind our house that they ride sometimes: Guksabong Mountain Bike Video, (it’s some other guy riding, but the same trail). While they are out mountain biking, I usually hike up Guksabong or go for a nice run. We really want to make sure that we stay fit and healthy and Korea makes that pretty easy for us with access to the mountains and lovely weather!

He bikes in the mountains but he caught me coming up from the local grocery store to get some ingredients to make him a delicious brunch on his way home & I got a shot of him heading up the hill to our apartment! Such a stud! :)

Another tradition that has been started amongst some of our expat friends is to head to the beach on Sundays in the afternoon and then BBQ in the evenings. It’s been really fun and we’ve enjoyed all being together and enjoying the summer!

Happy Summer to everyone!! :)

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