New Zealand Wrap Up: North Island

New Zealand is a relatively short flight across the Tasman Sea from Australia; it is also a former British colony.  These two countries are pretty isolated from the rest of the world.  Unsurprisingly, they are very similar in many ways.

Both countries speak English exclusively, complete with similar accents.  New Zealand TV is mostly Australian TV Channels.  Cars drive on the “wrong” side of the road in both countries.  The people are all very friendly and approachable.  Cuisines largely seemed similar.  New Zealand has even been proposed to be added as the 7th Australian state several times.

Still, the countries are different in many ways.  Australia is mostly desert – or “outback” – and much larger.  New Zealand seemed very green top to bottom, with lots of scenic mountains and lakes.  Look up a list of the deadliest/most venomous creatures, and Australia will be home to most of them.  New Zealand on the other hand has produced defenseless, flightless birds.  Australia’s population (22.3 Mil.) is a little more than 5 times New Zealand’s (4.4 Mil.); in fact, Sydney alone has a larger population than all of New Zealand.


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Napa 2012 Retro Review

General Thoughts

This was our second trip to the wine country.  This time we decided to spend the whole trip in Napa.  We were there for 4 nights/5 days in early August.  The weather was pretty similar to what I remember it being in May – cool mornings, warm to hot afternoons.  It may be a little warmer in the afternoons than May…Still very comfortable compared to Southern Louisiana.  The grapes were pretty well grown at this time, but it was still too early to try to taste any.

Our first trip we really planned around food/dining – wineries were secondary.  This time it was the opposite, wine was the primary focus and the dining was much more quick and casual.  Also, we concentrated on some of the more off the beaten path wineries/areas this time.

I planned to bring back much more wine than the first trip…but we still came back with (or are getting shipped) more wine than I anticipated.  I still believe that the best and most economical way to come back with wine is to buy a shipping box and check it on the plane.

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Sydney Wrap Up

Well…We’ve been home for about 2.5 months, and I’m finally getting around to finishing up my “wrap ups.”  As one might imagine, taking 3 months off tends to put you behind the 8 ball at work, so – needless to say – I’ve been pretty busy in that regard.

Fortunately, I kept good notes and have Alyce’s blog posts to look back on.  Plus, I have a decent memory, so I should be able to recap things almost as well as if I had wrote this while we still on the trip.  On to Sydney…

Sydney is the largest city in Australia; its metropolitan area population (4.7 Million) would put it between Detroit and Seattle in the US.  So it is a big city, but not huge.  The city was pretty clean—maybe slightly less so than some of the Asian cities, but still very clean.  I also found Sydney to be very safe, as was the case with most of the places we visited.

Sydney’s downtown – at least from a tourism perspective – is located around a little cove off of Sydney Harbor call Circular Quay.  A quick note: Quay is pronounced as “key” (like you lock/unlock things with)…something we did not figure out until our last day in Sydney.

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