Tag Archives: Sports

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

We jumped out of a plane in New Zealand!

There is only one word to describe this experience: Awesome, absolutely awesome. It was quite possibly the most amazing adventure we have had yet – skydiving from 15,000 feet in Taupo, New Zealand! We jumped over Lake Taupo where the scenery was spectacular –  from the plane right before we jumped, we could see the eastern and western points of the North Island of New Zealand – fantastic view! It is truly hard to put into words just how great it was so I’ll let the pictures do it for me…

We headed up in the plane on our way to 15,000 feet on an absolutely beautiful day! Part of the way up, they had us put on oxygen masks (that’s how high up we were going) but it was all smiles from both of us…


 When it’s your turn, they have you sit down at the very edge of the door of the plane with your feet dangling outside…there’s no way to go but down from here…

Ready to JumpAnd down you go…Ryan jumped first and his guy did a barrel roll right out of the plane…

Ryan Skydive Collage Roll 1

There was a lot more screaming when I exited the plane…the free fall feeling was crazy!


Don’t worry, we got to smiles eventually during the free fall…


This was my favorite picture – it was such a rush! Check out the plane from over my shoulder! I was having a blast! I promise those are screams of pure joy! IMG_0030Ryan was equally having a great time during his fall…



The views the whole time were absolutely stunning – what a remarkable place to do our first sky dive!

Erin Skydive Collage 1

Erin’s Skydive

Ryan Skydive Collage

Ryan’s Skydive

And after about 60 full seconds of free fall, they pull the parachute…

Parachute Pull CollageAnd then it’s a smooth ride down where you are happy to have your feet back on firm ground after an unforgettable experience!

Ryan Landing Collage

Ryan is clearly the more bad ass of the two of us….he landed on his feet and they made me slide back to land on my bum.

Erin Landing Collage

We absolutely loved this adventure and will keep it as one of our favorite memories! Not sure if or when we’ll go again but we’re certainly glad we’ve been once! We HIGHLY recommend this adventure so I hope you will be able to experience the rush of skydiving at some point in your life! I’m sure you will love every minute of it just like we did! If you find yourself in Taupo and want to Skydive, Skydive Taupo is a great place to go! 

Where to Next?! (Gaby – Chemical Engineer)

To kick off Engineering Week, Gaby will tell us her story of what she’s been up to while studying and working as an engineer. I knew her while at school and have had the chance to work with her in Houston – she has more energy and enthusiasm than anyone you will meet and it’s contagious so it always brings the group up wherever she is. What’s great is that she takes the time to learn at least 3 new things from everywhere she lives – she’s had some great experiences, so read on…

My goal in my twenties: visit a new country every year! This obsession started at WPI, where I studied chemical engineering (and where I attended university alongside some of the fantastic women who have previously written on Erin’s blog). I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and experienced some of the impacts of cultural differences when I moved to Massachusetts. But it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to spend several months in the poorest areas of Thailand that I learned  just HOW MUCH you could truly gain when you step through these cultural boundaries. There was no turning back.

Thailand (right - Elephant Park; Left - Wat Pho aka Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Thailand (right – Elephant Park; Left – Wat Pho aka Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

I interned with ExxonMobil my junior year in Miami, FL. I got to travel to Panama, Fairfax, Houston, and Ft. Lauderdale and did everything from gauging oil tanks, to observing the Panama Canal, and having some of the best meals I had eaten in my life! I received a full time offer from ExxonMobil and moved to Houston, Texas! There, I joined an organization which helps manage the engineering, construction, installation, integration, and commissioning of future oil & gas facilities all over the world. This brings me to the three miscellaneous things I learned in Houston:

1. Bullfighting and being a rodeo clown is a lot harder than it looks: I have been to the Houston Rodeo for four straight years and fully intend to make this year the fifth. The food, crowds, the music, and did I say the food? You can get fried Oreos!!! Yumm!

Gaby Houston Rodeo

At the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo – over 75,000 spectators!!

2. Indulging in the local cuisine is always a good idea: Tex-Mex restaurants (a combination of Mexican cuisine with the tendencies of food products in American cities) are abundant in Texas and are absolutely fantastic! And…it’s official, I cannot eat too much guacamole!

3. Always Root for the Home Team: This might come as a shock to you, but I am not a professional football player, baseball player, or any sport for that matter. So instead, I attended as many Houston Texans, Astros, and Rockets games as possible. If you want to feel included among the people of wherever your travels take you, go to a sports match (whatever the sport may be!), you’ll definitely feel included!

At the Houston Texans Season Opening Game

At the Houston Texans Season Opener

Then, in April 2010 I was offered an assignment which included a three week trip across Europe including Paris, among other cities. I could not have said “Oui!” any faster. There, I met with different members of the oil & gas industry to collect market information. About a year later, my Canadian adventure began. I was doing two week rotations to St. John’s, Newfoundland (where I call home today). In April 2012, I officially moved to St. John’s. Here, I am part of the project management team of the Hebron Project: the end goal is an offshore platform which will be taller than a 10 story building and have a topsides operating weight heavier than 30,000 cars! I work closely with our contractors to enable leadership’s ability to make decisions affecting the overall cost and end date of the project. And this brings me to the three miscellaneous things I have learned in St. John’s:

1. Don’t be afraid to kiss a fish: I learned the hard way, but now I know - Codfish DO NOT turn into Prince Charming. Wondering why I would do such a thing?! Well…Newfoundlanders are incredibly welcoming and have an official ceremony to allow newcomers to become honorary Newfoundlanders by engaging in their old tradition of getting “screeched-in.” Naturally, I partook in this ceremony, where I was required to kiss a cod and repeat the following phrase: “Deed I is, me ol’ cock! And long may yer big jib draw!” which actually means “Yes I am, my old friend, and may your sails always catch wind.”

Gaby St. Johns

Top – Overlooking the city of St. John’s from the East Coast Trail Hike; Bottom Left – Whale Watching off the coast of Newfoundland; Bottom Right – Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America!

2. Snow doesn’t shovel itself AND ice and I do not get along: This was a pretty disappointing finding. Somehow in college, I never had a problem with this. I’m not sure what happened. True, shoveling is no one’s favorite activity, but my goodness does winter bring some beautiful sights! Even if you have lived in a winter city your whole life, go and play in the snow this weekend! I gave curling a try, and really enjoyed myself. Interestingly, I spent more time sitting on the ice than standing; and by sitting, I mean slipping.

Gaby Snow Collage

Top Left – my first shoveling experience and it took 7 hours!; Top Right: View on my running route; Bottom: my first “tobbagan” ride!

3. Hockey = football: Ok, so maybe they’re not the same sport but I have your attention. Canadians absolutely LOVE hockey! At least half of the TV commercials involve hockey in one way, shape, or form. If you can’t beat them, join them. Go St. John’s Ice Caps!!!!!

Hockey Fans in Canada

I majored in chemical engineering and minored in management. My favorite classes were differential equations and organic chemistry, but my current job involves working with people more than anything else. From all the skills I learned in university I find teamwork, leadership, and adaptability are the ones which have helped me the most. I feel like the opportunities are ENDLESS, and fully intend to take advantage of them. This brings me to my final list of three miscellaneous things I have learned:

1. Roll with the Punches: It is possible for your luggage to travel more than you – fact. Funny story – In June 2012, I planned the perfect trip to Brazil, only to realize en route, you need a tourist visa to enter the country. My luggage ended up in Brazil and I ended up in Hawaii the next morning. (Don’t worry, I made it to Brazil the following year). Can’t complain, but lesson learned: do your homework. And, you never know, sometimes the unplanned moments turn out to be even more memorable than what you had originally planned so keep an open mind and just roll with whatever comes your way.

Gaby Rio and Hawaii

Right: Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro; Left: Set of Jurassic Park (and many other movies/tv shows including LOST) in Oahu, HI

2. Don’t be afraid to try something new: No matter where you go, you will meet some incredibly interesting and impressive people. I have picked up a new hobby probably every year since I left school. I skied, ran a half marathon, ran a full marathon, surfed, went hang gliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, rappelling, zip lining, spelunking, four wheeling, and white water rafting for the first time ALL within the last five years. Get out there, get involved, make a difference and I GUARANTEE you will be changed.

Gaby New Hobbies

Top Left: Ziplining at Petty Harbor; Top Right: Mud Run in Bay Roberts;
Bottom Left: White water rafting through the Macaé River; Bottom Right: Hang gliding over Ipanema Beach

Gaby Adventures

Spelunking inside Angeles Cave, Camuy; Surfing off the shores of Hawaii; Skiing for the first time in Lake Tahoe

And last but certainly not least,

3. Never say _ _ _ _ _: It’s funny, I have been chasing Erin everywhere she goes for years. Her move to Korea was the first I did not follow. But hey, never say never. I’ve also done a lot of things that I never expected but have thoroughly enjoyed them all! Engineering has been a great path for me to see the world, try new things, meet some amazing people, and be a part of exciting projects!  So the million dollar question is now….Where to next?!

Erin & GabyThanks for sharing your story, Gaby! I can’t wait to see where you end up next!

Skiing in Korea

We both love to ski and usually get to do it at least once a year. Luckily for us, this year was no different! One of our friends helped organize a ski trip for a bunch of us who wanted to go. The bus picked us up at 5 AM and got us to the MuJu Ski Resort. We got there and got in line for our ski gear – boots, skis, poles…they even have jackets/pants for rent so that you can look extra good! The ski outfits that a lot of the Koreans wear are particularly colorful and they all match – color coordination seems to be an important aspect to their style. We got in line and headed up on the mountain…it was much colder than anticipated: -10C aka super cold!
Skiing in Korea
The lines were really long but we got a few runs in before breaking for lunch – Korean soup…delicious! After that warmed us up, we headed back out and enjoyed a fun day of skiing!
After a great day, the bus took us home and we could all cross Skiing in Asia off our bucket list.
Group Skiing Pic Jan 2013

Bangkok Muay Thai Boxing

I have spent quite some time dreaming of going to Thailand one day and here we were getting on a plane to head to Thailand and spend 10 glorious days there! Afterwards, we were going to spend 4 days in Cambodia which I was also super excited about – I had seen pictures of Angkor Wat and had always wanted to check it out! I was so incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to get there!! Our first stop on our trip was Bangkok, Thailand; we had 2 days there and a lot to see. Our flight ended up being delayed so we got there at dinner time, but that was totally fine.

View from the plane on our way there!

We got to our hotel and immediately headed out for our first Thai food adventure. We already knew that we loved Thai food so we were especially excited to try it in Thailand! We went to this cute little place near our hotel and Ryan ordered Pad Thai and I ordered Red Curry (these are our all time favorite dishes!) and they were delicious! I do have to admit that the Red Curry was a little spicy for me – I forgot that “Thai” hot is above my threshold and so Ryan graciously offered me his Pad Thai – I am blessed with such an awesome husband!!

Afterwards, we went to Muay Thai Boxing and that was quite an experience – we had ring side seats to the evenings’ fights. It was particularly crazy because the fighters were all around 100 pounds. The main event were two fighters who were 138 pounds and those were the heaviest guys of the night –  very different from any boxing events in the US! What made it so interesting was the ritual involved in it. First of all, there were signs around saying that the boxing ring was considered a sacred place and women could not touch it.

Also, each boxer would kneel before they entered the ring and then walk around the ring and perform their own ritual. It entailed punching each corner, and then performing a dance-like walk in the middle of the ring.

During the entire event, this band was playing non-stop – it was exactly the type of music you would expect at an event like this. This guy was rocking out on the oboe for every fight!

Every boxer had a group of his friends/family cheering him on standing behind his corner of the ring…it really made it feel like a local event (despite all of the foreigners sitting around the ring. :) ).

There were about 10 fights during the night and most of them were about 100 – 115 pounds (smaller than me!!). These guys really had no mercy with each other…it was crazy to watch! It was certainly a fun first night in such an awesome country!

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