Friday, April 30, 2010

Happily Married at 356 Days

Love is...

the Mrs. supporting the Mr. while he gets a TV big enough to be a bed (this after the PS3 incident):

the Mr. surprising the Mrs. with the blue ray version of Monsters, Inc. - just about the coolest movie ever made.




xo

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Model Contest Returns

Okay, people, time to really vote. Who's the cutest - and the answer is so clear.







xo

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hot Water Beach

I have no idea how many other places there are like Hot Water Beach in the world, but I’m guessing it’s a very, very special place. It is a beautiful beach on the side of Coromandel Peninsula with a quirky little twist: boiling hot water flows right below the surface of one section of the sand and is accessible during low tide.

If one wants to really have the Hot Water Beach experience, its quite easy:

  • drive to a beautiful beach
  • wait for low tide
  • rent a shovel ($5 from the corner store)
  • walk to the exposed rock line
  • dig about a half foot, maybe even a foot down (making sure you’re friends and family are creating walls around this hole you’re creating)
  • take a seat on the edge of the hole you’ve created, with your back against the walls
  • watch the boiling hot water spring up, allowing it too cool a bit before reaching your seating position.
Ta Dah! A natural and temporary hot tub. Enjoy – just make sure that you don’t put yourself right where the water boils up or you’ll burn some skin off. Seriously.

If one is feeling a little bit lazier, its even easier:
  • drive to a beautiful beach
  • wait for low tide
  • walk to the exposed rock line
  • take lots of pictures of self-made men digging into the sand
  • walk further down the beach
  • play in sand until you’re too bored
  • walk back to the rock line
  • take pictures of the people in the natural and temporary hot tubs
  • burn your feet while taking pictures of boiling sand
Guess which approach we took?

The more ambitious with their shovels.

Playing in the sand, which was brown, white, blue, black, and green

The more ambitious enjoying a well-earned hot tub.
Notice the middle is empty - the water is boiling hot.
Picture the Mr. right in the middle, where he burnt his feet.


Boiling sand.
I burnt my feet right after this picture.
Just shows you shouldn't laugh at your husband too early.


xo

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moments of Beauty

While we were in Mt. Cook we had two very special moments of beauty. First, we saw Mt. Cook, which is apparently runs close to being a miracle.


Then we shared this sunset.

Happy Saturday!!



xo

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Verliebt

Now, with a distance of some four weeks, I believe it is time to share with you dear readers that I had a little, very short, emotional affair during our trip to New Zealand. I fell in love, suddenly and completely while on my honeymoon.

I didn’t mean it to happen. We went peacefully and without any idea of what laid before us on the Otago Peninisula. The peninsula is just outside of buzzing Dunedin but feels a hundred miles away. Somehow it feels empty with all of the rolling hills covered with farm land and countless sheep, even with the countless little homes and vacation lodges dotted along the roads.

First we stopped over at the only castle in New Zealand, the Larnach Castle.
The weather was dramatic, lending an amazing view from the castle towers.

And led to some silliness

We then drove further towards the Penguin Place for a penguin tour. The Penguin Place is a privately organized and run nature reserve for the yellow-eyed penguin, the only solitary penguins in the world. They evolved without any natural predators and when the Europeans brought over dogs, cats, shoats, etc. suddenly the little penguins were breakfast for too many of them. And then as the Europeans cleared away the natural bush that the penguins had lived beneath they suddenly found themselves quite homeless as well. Now, generations later, the penguins are protected but it is still difficult for them to live in peace. Thankfully the Penguin Place was founded and dedicated to helping these little guys out.

These days the reserve is financed through tours given through a series of half-underground and heavily protected chamaflouged trenches. The penguins are very sensitive, so while humans are brought close to their homes, they are also carefully hidden and quite very quiet. At first we saw a few penguins resting in their nests.

And then we saw a solitary penguin approaching, slowly waddling towards us on the way to his nest.



And he got a little closer and BAM! I felt myself drifting towards that emotional itching called ‘falling in love’. Who wouldn’t fall in love with this face? Really. And the waddle! A heart must be very hard not to melt.

The tour guide impressed greatly upon our entire group – but somehow looking a little too knowingly into my direction – that penguins cannot be tamed and they certainly aren’t interested in getting to know humans. I was crushed.

Thankfully the Mr. was not only forgiving but also a great sport about it.





xo

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pittsburgh aint got much on this place

While Pittsburgh does have a number of insanely steep streets that rock and roll up the hills – it aint got much on Dunedin’s Baldwin street! Baldwin Street is officially the steepest street in the world and people actually live on it – meaning that this dead-end street is regularly used for transportation beyond the groups of tourists trying to climb it.

Baldwin Street from the bottom



Two of the houses on Baldwin Street



The view from the top



xo

Is this where I sleep?

Throughout our trip around New Zealand the Mr. and I stayed in a lot of places. I started to count them for this blog but gave up counting to go with “a lot”. Most of the time we stayed in a double room at a backpackers with shared bathrooms, kitchens, and communal rooms. With one exception from “a lot” they were all well taken care of, clean, and comfortable: our two favorites were the Mousetrap on the Bay of Islands and the Old Countryhouse in Christchurch.

Mousetrap was instantly comfortable with views of the Bay of Islands; comfy and warm common rooms; and cuddly beds. The owners – Nikki and Jake – were consistently ready with tips, answers, and pleasant conversation. While we originally planned on staying at the mousetrap for two nights, we ended up staying for five. The amazing area of Bay of Islands helped influence us to stretch our stay, but the Mousetrap was a very happy supporting factor.

Dominik on the porch of the Mousetrap, enjoying himself immensely.

Old Countryhouse was where we spent our first very night in New Zealand. It was extremely clean, had a great kitchen, and just reeked of ‘relax, go slow, enjoy your stay’. It was so nice that when we found out that we were going through Christchurch again we instantly called up Old Countryhouse to book another room.

We did spend most nights in backpackers but since the Euro is so strong against the New Zealand dollar, we treated ourselves a few nights. In Wellington we splurged big time (paying the normal rate for a European place) and stayed at a Halswell Lodge. The building was built in 1920s as a private house and recently renovated with absolute love into a hotel with – wait for it – spas in the rooms.

The spa we enjoyed numerous times.

Then in Waitomo Caves we read about a wacky hotel, called Woodlyn Park, with a plane, train, boat, and hobbit motel available. One read, one call and we were installed in the ‘honeymoon’ suit of the boat. The boat, now called the “Waitanic” was originally a WWII Patrol Boat named the Motunui. The renovation was successful and we had an interesting and comfortable two nights here.

The boat we stayed in; we stayed at the very end of the boat.

Ze Plane!

Frodo lives here. Really.

The best housing we had by far though was in Wanaka, where we finally cashed in our wedding from the the Mrs. Parents to stay at the Pines Resort. We had a 2 bedroom row house with a kitchen, laundry room, two bathrooms, living room with cable TV, free BBQ, and a stretching terrace. And did I mention that amazing view of an ancient tree that towered above the resort with magical views of Lake Wanaka and the mountain range behind it? The resort was stocked with a life-sized chess board, 2 spas, 1 pool, bikes and helmets for free, daily newspaper, and friendly, helpful staff.

The towering tree right in the middle of the resort. It was so big we couldn't get the whole tree.

The view of the mountains from our bedroom window.

Thanks ‘rents!

Got questions, ideas, comments - post 'em below!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Did you forget something?

These posts won't always be in chronological order - more based on whim - but the first one actually starts with the very first picture we took.

The Mr. and I were sitting in the Frankfurt airport. We had arrived far too early and were burning time in a restaurant that overlooked the check-in area. We were both enjoying one last German beer and our first bowel of Asia noodles.

About a half of an hour after we sat down, I looked down at the check-in area and noticed a slightly nervous airline employee examining a luggage trolley with one, lonely bag sitting on top of it. It was obvious from the start that both the trolley and the bag didn't belong to anyone standing near them.

I doubt I need to explain to my dear readers how chilling the view of an unattended bag can be these days. In most countries I assume the reaction would be rather alarmed and emotionally extreme with SWAT teams, bomb guards, and weeping public members. Did I mention this was all taking place in front of the Saudi owned Emirates* check-in?

Instead, in the Frankfurt airport, peace and order were upheld. The slightly nervous airline employee rang some sort of very discrete alarm. That was followed by three German police officers casually, yet immediately, arriving and gently creating more space around the trolley and bag. Within the next five minutes the entire public was gently, calmly cleared from the space as officers cordoned off the explosion area with magical red and white tape** that very few were willing to challenge.

Frankfurt, one of the busiest airports in the world, looked like this in a matter of mere minutes:


The Mr. and I watched with growing respect and a twinge of alarm. We were sitting up and away, protected by glass and like a car accident, it was just too interesting to turn away. Below the numerous passengers who needed to check in for their flight also seemed to be under the same trance.

The police and then the security guards were obviously waiting for the next level of escalation. Thankfully, that escalation level was never needed because after 15 minutes a rather portly man in a dark red shirt and a jacket called attention to himself. After some discussion, he was permitted to stroll up and then claim the suspect trolley and bag. His identity was checked, the bag was checked, and he was most likely given some sort of talking to. Maybe in English. The policy broke the magic seal and the public flooded into the check-in lines.

Like a small stream of smoke on a winding day, the magical, scary moment was gone. We paid our bill and walked to our gate. New Zealand was waiting for us!




xo
*by the way, Emirates is the best air company I have ever flown with. Forget the free market and those crappy American companies - bring on state supported air travel!
** the magic red and white looks like this. Fascinating the power held by such a simple material.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Are we already back?

Howdy folks. Hope you've enjoyed your little break from Pickles and Onions because the blog is going to be super busy over the next few weeks. We've just returned from our four week trip to New Zealand to celebrate getting married and being alive. I'm proud to confirm that we did both in great qualities and with impeccable quality.


Naturally we took far too many pictures – way over 500 – and experienced too many things to share them here in one little blog entry. And, really, who wants to look through 500 pictures of someone else’s vacation? And, while we are being honest here, who wants to look through 100 pictures without some context?

Exactly, none of us do.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sorting through the many pics and my faithful journal entries to bring the best of the best here to you the faithful readers of Pickles and Onions. Be excited and be involved. Got questions? Got comments? Post ‘em below under “Comments”.

Your wish = (almost) my command.

To start us off, a taster:
Mr. and Mrs. Steinbach at the beginning of the trip in a place called Christchurch.

Mr. and Mrs. Steinbach at the end of the trip in Sydney on a ferry.



Notice the sweet sunglasses - the Kiwis know sunglasses - and the killer tans. Okay, just one tan, but the I did get some red!



xo
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