most of my friends that i am keeping in touch with have included a question on whether or not NZ celebrates halloween in their most recent emails. the answer to this question? yes. do they celebrate thanksgiving? no, and i don't want to talk about it. (sigh)
anyway, last night i went with one of my flatmates to a friend's halloween party. honestly, nothing really crazy to report. we went to a party, drank some wine, met a few new friends, and ended the night dancing to a live band at a bar on the waterfront. the most interesting piece of the night for me was how difficult it seemed to be for people to understand what i was dressed as. i was pretty sure it was obvious, given that i was dressing as one of my favorite childhood icons. the number of people who questioned my costume, however, was probably somewhere in the teens. maybe i'm more americanized than i think.
i don't want to be vain and post 197312749873 photos of me trying to be cute in my costume (not like i have any of those...), but please feel free to let me know if my costume isn't as glaringly obvious as i assumed it was...
working in advertising, i'm pretty used to having gifts and invitations sent to the office from various media owners. it seems anytime anyone wins an award or increases their circ numbers, such an occasion deserves a branded coffee cup or cupcakes for the entire office. to be honest, however, so far the silly little gifts in NZ don't seem to compare to NY. don't get me wrong, we get our fair share of invitations, but they are fewer and farther between than they were in NY. looking at it glass half full, it does make you appreciate the times when it happens, especially when it's an obscure "gift" like the one we received this week.
this past week, a popular weekly women's publication was given the title of the "number one most read magazine in NZ." not that i'm an expert on the market already, but probably the biggest surprise of all was that this magazine wasn't already number one. to announce such tremendous news, it was only natural that the magazine's sales rep, publisher, and editor send an email to the whole agency to let us know that they were coming into the office at 12:30 with a "big surprise."
and big surprise it was. rolling up in a black limo, out came three women who worked at the magazine, two large buckets full of champagne, several pink balloons, and two young shirtless gentleman - so basically a circus. pretty cool to receive champagne in the middle of the day, especially when most everyone started drinking it, but definitely the most random media owner "gift" i've ever experienced.
i've honestly never really been much of a coffee drinker. while people in college drank coffee to cure hang overs and get to class, i avoided the beverage all together. even when i started working, except for the occasional starbucks gingerbread lattes (i mean c'mon, who can resist those things?), i pretty much stayed away and liked to consider myself a "tea girl."
eventually, however, i ended up meeting someone in new york who got me into this fad of having an iced coffee with a banana in the morning for breakfast and i was hooked. iced coffee has since become a weakness for me and when the weather warmed up this past weekend indicating summer around the corner, my habitual craving kicked in. unfortunately, when i went to a shop here and ordered what was listed on the menu as an "iced coffee," i didn't quite get what i expected.
laura's long black on the left, my "iced coffee" on the right
when my order came out, it looked more like one of those crazy huge frappuccino things people who don't actually like coffee but want to feel like they are a part of the coffee drinking population order. sure, the bottom half of the cup was filled with what i would consider an iced coffee, but the top half had not only whip cream with chocolate and cinnamon powder with coffee bean garnish, but a scoop of ice cream.
so here i was, the girl who ordered muesli and yogurt with fresh fruit for breakfast and basically a coffee milkshake to drink at like 9 am. it tasted like a dd's coffee coolatta and was de-li-cious, but iced coffee lovers coming to NZ be warned before you go casually ordering iced coffees at authentic cafes. not to sound too american, but unless it's dessert time or you're wanting a mid afternoon snack, see if you can find a starbucks instead.
on our way back from whitianga, we decided to stop at a couple of the other beaches in the coromandel. the first beach we went to, was called hot water beach. probably sounds like the name is pretty obvious, but it's not the water in the ocean on the beach that is hot, but the water coming from underground. this beach is over two fissures of water coming from underground reservoirs of superheated water from volcanos. don't worry, we weren't chilling in magma. the water cools as it comes to the surface, however, it cools to about 147˚F (that's the highest temp, but i'm trying to be dramatic here so). most people who come to this beach dig holes in the sand so the hot water comes up through the ground to make something like a natural hot tub/spa, which is a pretty great way to spend your afternoon.
next, we headed over to cathedral cove to spend a few hours relaxing in the sun. this beach is only accessible by boat or by foot, and since i haven't gotten around to buying that yacht yet, we decided to take a stroll. this is somewhat of an understatement as the walk from the car park to the actual sand was about 45 minutes on fairly rocky, steep terrain. if my friend shannon is reading this, table mountain was a 9 and this path was like a 7, but in a bikini and sandals. once we arrived, it was absolutely one of the most beautiful beaches i've ever been to. we stayed for about 3 hours, and it was very peaceful and pretty empty considering it's listed as one of the best north island beaches to go to if you're someone who googles those sorts of things....
this past weekend was labour weekend, which is kind of like labor day weekend in the states. or at least i'm assuming that because both holidays involve a three day weekend that includes "labour/labor" in the title. given that i have a new job and haven't really accrued much leave time yet, i was really excited to get away for the weekend. i was supposed to go on a hike with a couple of friends from work, but unfortunately we received a last minute poor forecasting with high winds and some of the less experienced hikers (i.e. me) had to cancel.
all was not lost, however, as my flatmates were heading over to whitianga in the coromandel this weekend and were able to squeeze me into their room. literally, as i slept on a mattress smaller than a twin bed on the ground. i was desperate to get out of the city for the weekend though and dying to see more of the beaches here, so it was a great escape. we even made a few friends in our unit the first night as we were paired with a group of three french guys around our age who were in NZ for the rugby world cup final game.
the good news for you is i ended up bringing my good camera along, so the next post or two may be a little photo heavy, but it's probably more fun to see photos than to read several of my rambling paragraphs.
on the beach backpackers or "tonky town" as we called it.
probably talking about something extremely intelligent.
just a man sleeping in a tent outside the hostel. completely normal.
the tiny tv we found hilarious enough to take several photos featuring different poses that accentuated the size. funny at the time?
artsy photo #1
grabbed a quick bite to eat in town and managed to refrain from taking a photo of what i was eating (a first!)
the caption i have in mind would be too obvious (hint: it starts with "the")
looking down at the beaches from the road.
in LOVE with this house.
on the walking trail to the beaches.
some exotic nz flower i felt deserved a solo shot.
cute cafe on the beach.
another random attempt at being artsy. sometimes i can't help myself.
some of you might know, but a part of me working on the mcdonald's account requires that i have a "restaurant orientation day." that's basically a fancy way of saying, i have to spend a day working in a mcdonald's store. sounds like a day of observation at first i'm sure, but the restaurant orientation is actually the real deal. you flip burgers, you make fries, you take orders, and even handle the drive thru window. it's pretty extreme but it's a global requirement of anyone who works on the business, so everyone at corporate and all agencies have had a day in the store to better understand the business.
unfortunately i don't have any photos of me in uniform (i didn't get to wear one which i was very disappointed about) or any shocking secrets to reveal. i was actually pretty excited going in thinking that i would get to wear a mcdonald's visor, find out what is in the big mac sauce, AND get off work at 4.
what i did learn, was that working at mcdonald's is pretty hard work. particularly between the hours of 12 - 2 pm - the dreaded lunch hour. the employees were really nice and very helpful when i didn't know what i was doing, but i've never experienced a more stressful two hours of work. every meal is really made to order - from toasting the bun to adding the salad bits to cooking the meat patties - and there's the added pressure of a third party company that checks in on the stores regularly as an undercover customer to ensure that each store is meeting the high mcdonald's standards. it's a great system, and really efficient, but i've never seen people move so fast as lunch time in the store.
luckily, i found my strength early in drinks (it's more complicated than it sounds) and desserts (definitely more complicated than it sounds) so that was my station during the peak time. pretty sure i made an extra strawberry shake by accident and made a few below par sundaes, but i survived and only got chocolate sauce on my hands so i'd say all in all it was a success.
i'm pretty much just thankful this didn't happen (and i figure wordy posts are boring so may as well end on a youtube video): http://youtu.be/wdCsfzzSj8Y
i've been hearing about this one shop since i arrived in new zealand, and today my flatmate and i took our first trip there. martha's backyard is auckland's "american shop" offering us brand foods, candy, beauty products, cleaning products, and clothing.
you're probably wondering why i would even be interested in visiting a store like this and walking in i honestly thought i wouldn't be phased by seeing a store full of products that i've been around for the past 25 years. i've been so excited with trying all the new foods here in nz (probably obvious from the majority content of this blog), the thought of going back to american brands seemed kind of boring. but upon entering, i found that this is basically a store filled with items that were either staple grocery purchases for me for the past few years (i.e. crystal hot sauce) or my absolute favorite foods growing up (i.e. funfetti cake mix). so i went a little nuts.
strange how you don't remember how much you miss wheat thins until they're right in front of you... and you're screaming... and people are slowly moving their children away from you...
so, just a quick warning, as this will be my first whiney blog post. feel free to stop reading if this isn't your thing, but i just wanted to be upfront about it. today's topic: public transportation in new zealand.
before i arrived in NZ, i was warned that i needed a car as the public transportation here was "shit." like most warnings i've received in my life, however, i casually ignored this assuming i'd be able to figure it out. this time i should have listened.
granted, i've been accustomed to the fantastically convenient public transportation of new york city, but i still think that there is room to complain even if this weren't the case. there are regularly running buses in the city that have stops at most of the major areas, however, the trouble is figuring out which bus to take and from where. instead of the "downtown" or "uptown" directional instructions i'm used to, each bus is called "inner" or "outer" and usually has the name of an area of the city on it. sounds easier than it is, as the area that is usually chosen for the bus is one that all bus lines go to, so pretty hard to figure out which direction each bus is going to.
thankfully, they have a website with a journey planner which is supposed to function similar to a hopstop. unfortunately, instead of giving directions on where the bus stop is based on cross streets, the website delivers the bus station number that appears in a tiny corner of the tiny little glass bus shelters. not exactly helpful when the purpose of my being on the website is that i'm not familiar with the bus system.
anyway, all complaints aside, i conquered my fear of public transport and actually managed to master the bus system this past week to meet up with a few friends in mission bay to watch some football (yes, american football!). i had a few minutes while i waited for my friends to pick me up from the bus stop and took a few shots of the beach at mission bay, which hopefully makes up partly for my long-ish tale of public transport woes.
it's no secret i love to shop, and i sincerely doubt this sets me apart somehow from the rest of the female population. so i was pretty excited when coming to a new country to learn about all the different shops and designers that are available here that might not be available in the us.
shopping in new zealand, however, is a bit tricky. there are some really great shops like karen walker, ruby boutique, storm, decjuba, witchery, juliette hogan, and sass & bide (to name WAY more than a few). they have beautiful clothing and about a million things i want to buy while i'm here. it just seems that everything is astronomically expensive compared to what i'm used to. for example, most dresses of bloomingdales quality that would typically run around $200 - $300 seem to be more around $600 - $700.
even the "bargain" brands are pretty pricey around here. stores like glassons, portman's, and dotti with cool clothes at forever 21 quality, sell dresses as high as $160. tatty's, a second hand store that carries nice brand name clothing, sells h&m and forever 21 shirts for $40-$60. (!!!) granted, it's difficult to get these items here in NZ as they don't have the stores, but selling used clothing for more than the original price is pretty insane.
luckily, i've managed to save up my pennies and purchase a couple of gems...
realizing this doesn't look very appealing in a photo, but this is a cropped cut-out poncho from decjuba. gotta love a one size fits all item.
high-waisted shorts from ruby boutique. i can't resists a peace sign button.
maxi skirt from glassons. it doesn't look very appealing in the photo, however it's fully sheer and has a short black mini skirt as a slip underneath so it looks pret-ty cool on. and don't you worry - i'll be tucking in/belting over that elastic waistband..
and finally, the most beautiful dress EVER that i coveted for about 3 months before breaking down and purchasing from karen walker. sigh...perhaps she'll make an appearance at krystle's wedding in march?
last week i had the opportunity to go to a soundcheck for rhythm and vines. honestly, when i was first invited i wasn't quite sure what this meant, but i signed up anyway because hey, who am i to turn down plans?
rhythm and vines is an annual music festival here in gisborne that goes for three days ending on new years eve. so, one might think that the soundcheck is a small venue event where the line up plays music to prepare for the big event - complete with "check 1, 2s" and "test tests," but it was actually a mini- concert of sorts and they announced the official line up for the big show in december.
the music is a lot of dance/electronica/hip hip type stuff, so i'm sure you can imagine it was an interesting crowd. i was with a few co-workers (who are normal i promise) but in general i'd say most of the people there were still in some sort of school - whether that be high school or uni - and even more were on some kind of drugs.
i've never felt so old in my life as when a girl in front of me had a bag of what looked to me like little colored lego blocks confiscated from her and was ushered away by the police (meaning, they weren't lego blocks...). which reminds me, i have been meaning to google what the heck kind of drugs look like lego blocks - anyone have any clue? kids these days.
anyway, after a brief cavity search at the door, we got into the venue and it was packed. i won't lie, i'll listen to a bit of electronica music every once in awhile, but i'm not full on into that genre so i had pretty low expectations of the event, but the crowd was so enthusiastic it was hard not to get sucked in.
here's a little snapshot of the crowd from the VIP section....that i was in....being a VIP....