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City break at the hipsterish Wellington a.k.a Windy Wellington

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on
March 23, 2018

New Zealand’s windiest city – the lovely hipsterish Wellington was where we spent our next 3 days after Christmas. To sum up our short stay in Wellington – hipster vibe all around with all the cafes, craft beer quirky bars, skaters in the streets, beautiful coastline, and extreme winds all the time. We have spent our days in Wellington wandering the streets, dying my hair blue (wanted to do that for a really long time), pub crawling through craft beer venues with travelers we’ve met up with and by some chance ending up with tequila shots at The Establishment (definitely  place not of our choice, but in its own way it was fun and reminded of Erasmus times), exploring some cafes and Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand), driving the coastline as well as hiding in our not so nice (to put it nicely) hostel as being out we were spending way too much and having unlimited wi-fi is a rare thing in this country.

Some interesting facts about hipsterish Wellington

  1. Wellington is actually the third and current capital of New Zealand. It replaced Auckland in 1865. Travel to and from Parliament in Auckland was very difficult and it took the members from far south at least 2 months to get there, so more central capital location was desired and needed to avoid the South Island becoming a separate colony. (By the way, the first capital was Okiato or Old Russel in the Bay of Islands between 1840-41).
  2. Wellington is the southernmost capital in the world.
  3. Legend has it that Wellington’s well-known Parliament building, the Beehive, was actually sketched as a joke. While some say the architect’s paper of choice was a napkin, others claim it was drawn on a cigarette packet.
  4. There are plenty of houses on hilltops of Wellington that do not have road access, therefore, can only be accessed by private cable cars, which can carry up to 2 passengers per journey. If you make any friends from top of the hill, you might even get to enjoy the ride if invited to dinner.
  5. Mount Victoria tunnel is also known as the honking tunnel for it is the only tunnel in New Zealand where drivers can honk their car in celebration of the working week’s end. The first time we went through there we couldn’t understand the reason of honking and though it was due to the lights switched on. Well, how wrong we really were. Apparently, the honking starts already around Wednesday afternoon but the peak of it is Friday 5 PM – on the way home from work.
  6. Wellingtonians love their coffee and with quality cafes at every corner, they take pride in being named as one of top 8 international coffee destinations by CNN.
  7. Wellington is also known as New Zealand’s capital of craft beer and is well known abroad for the variety of interesting brews. With new craft beer microbrewery opening up every week it is a must-visit destination for every craft beer lover. Wellington is also a home to a last year’s SOBA award winner brewery – Garage Project as well as the runner-up – Panhead. If feeling adventures enough, try and complete a self-guided Wellington’s trail exploring plenty of craft beer venues and bars (http://craftbeercapital.com/). So far we’ve managed to try out the Rogue & Vagabond, Little Beer Quarter and Golding’s Free Dive, so still have quite a lot to go.
  8.  Here’s another fun fact – only now writing this post I’ve realized we have been enjoying Wellington so much ourselves, we forgot to take any photos…

Best Ugly Bagels

Speaking of those cafes, let me tell you about the most delicious bagels ever at Best Ugly Bagels (expensive but so much worth it). Well, Best Ugly Bagels is definitely one of those hipster places, where we happened to be during Saturday brunch together with a bunch of people coming in to heal their Friday night’s hangover with good coffee and delicious bagels. Not only the food and coffee are great, but the vibe is amazing as the bagels are freshly baked right in front your eyes by a big crew of guys who just seems to be enjoying themselves and what they do. One thing some like, some hate that definitely gives an extra to the atmosphere is the staff shouting your order out loud. The member taking your order shouts it out loud to which all the staff responds by echoing the shout. I personally loved that aspect, but I guess spending more time at the place, or working there the constant shout outs may get on your nerves.

Sweet Mother’s Kitchen

Oh sweet mother, what an incredible find it is. A true gem in a middle of busy Wellington CBD. It really is a busy little cafe at the end of a Courtney street. At first, we walked in a bit wary since it seems quite too crowded and too busy and we were looking for a place to settle for a few hours enjoying slow brunch and internet for updating the blog and stuff. Lucky for us, we soon found a perfect spot by the bar at the corner even with a power socket to plug in our laptops and dived into the lively yet homy cafe’s atmosphere. Not to mention the breakfast burrito, waffles and coffee were exactly what we needed after a few too many drinks last night. Anyways, if you’re looking for a lovely place to settle for a few hours, Sweet Mother’s Kitchen is just the right spot for perfect meals and coffee. Just be considerate and make sure to settle at the counter instead of occupying a big table, since it really is a very busy place (at least during weekends).

By the way, you realize how mainstream the crypto became when sitting at the counter you hear your waitress chitchatting with one of the regulars about their bitcoin investments. Well, bitcoin is the future they say. 🙂

Wellington coastline drive

Despite all the cafes and city life vibes, in my opinion, the no. 1 must do in Wellington is definitely the coastline drive. Just start anywhere in the city center by the shore and drive all the way following the highway to Petone and the road by the shore until the very end of the road. The road still continues (should continue to the very end point) which can be walked by foot or tackled with a bike, but it was extremely windy that day and we chose to drive back the same route to the city instead (so windy it was hard keeping your eyes open to enjoy the view without crying). On our second visit to Wellington later we found out the coast ride to another side all along Maupuia and Karaka Bays might be even more spectacular, but I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

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That is how windy Wellington is (on a calm day)

If not the wind, I think Wellington would be my favorite city in New Zealand (well, or maybe even with the wind it still is my favorite city in New Zealand). However beautiful Wellington was, the time had come to an end for our city break as we crossed the Cook Strait for new adventures that the South Island and New Years had been bearing for us. More on that look forward to our next travel blog post!

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Ruta & Algirdas
Vietnam

We're Ruta & Algirdas - storytellers, world travelers, photography and filmmaking enthusiasts. Our best days are spent admiring planet Earth - exploring, tasting, breathing in all it has to offer. Now, after a year spent living van life in New Zealand, we're enjoying the hustle and bustle of Vietnam. Packing bags and embarking on an adventure is easier than it may seem - just have the courage.

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  • Back in November we did the Tongariro Norther Circuit track and it was nothing less than glorious and felt exactly like stepping right into the #MiddleEarth. 
All those dark rocks and wastelands, steaming mountain slopes, the smell of sulfur in the air and just that feel of something bigger than you. 
Even though, we got some rain, cold winds and annoying sandfly attacks (at the first campsite by the stream), the track was mesmerizing and magical every step of the way. As beside the latter, it also offered the most beautiful night sky I've ever witnessed and the most breathtaking views. Though sadly, for all its beauty, the mountain also claimed the sacrifice of @al.got.stories beloved #rayban sunnies. 😎

We did the track anticlockwise and if I had to choose I would do so all over again. Mostly because I prefer the solitude in our hikes and this option allowed us to enjoy it for most of the way during the 3 days on a track. Though this spot at Emerald lakes was exactly the place where we had to pass the crowds of day walkers doing the Tongariro crossing. While I have nothing against it, it is much more enjoyable wandering the mountains all by yourself (well, maybe sharing with few others) rather than walking in a crowd of hundreds  of other people (who are always always somewhere in your shot). Lucky for us, we only shared the track with others for an hour or so while passing through the crowd at the Red Crater. The crowd finally passed and we got back to our solitude of enjoying the view of Emerald Lakes, Red Crater and mountain peaks which were followed by the way down the Devil Stairs and incredible sunset with a stunning view of Taranaki at a distance. 
Anyway, I guess what I wanna say is - if you ever have a chance, go and do the Northern Circuit!
  • When I get the feeling that something's going wrong, I just take a stroll through my photos and they immediatly bring me back to those special moments when everything in the universe lined out just as it was supposed to and nothing could ever ruin it! And that's enough to just grab and hold on to that happiness that will forever be mine.
  • Well here's one more photo of this amazing lady and her heart-warming smile! I sure miss those evening strolls by the river in Hoi An where life never stops.
  • How really relative is time? 
Seems like over the past year and a half of travelling I've lived more than a decade. Yet it has been nearly 3 months since we got back home, settled in new home and started new jobs. Even though time flies by, life seems stuck at one place, like living the same day over and over again. It is hard to get over traveling and facing the steady life reality - like getting over an addiction for new exciting experiences when you itch for a new 'dose'. Yet can't deny that stability has its own perks. 
Still, funny when you think how relative time really is. Sometimes a month can fit experiences of a year and another month can fly by in an instance and you realuze that nothing really happened. Anyway, I've been gone for the past few months but I guess it was part of dealing with my post-travel blues settling in a new steady routine. 
How have you been lately?
  • Wandering those beautiful ancient streets of Hoi An, I couldn't take my eyes away from the beautiful old ladies selling water lanterns. So many stories they could tell, so many people they've met, so many troubles they've endured and yet they greet you with a wide smile from ear to ear offering to buy a wish in a form of a river lantern costing just a few cents. No matter what, every night you'll find them in their usual spot - day after day, year after year just trying to make a living. It amazes me how after all their troubles and worries, and all the rude passers by  encountered, they still manage to smile at you with all their kindness offering to buy that one lantern for a wish which eventually will help their family wishes come true, or at least will let them put a meal on a table. Even if you don't buy, don't forget to treat one another with a kindness and a smile.
  • So this one finalize my series of the camping shots I took back while doing the Tongariro Northern Circuit. 
Funny story: while I spent the night outside shooting stars, a guy came out of a nearby tent. I silently said "isn't the sky just incredible?" He got startled as appearantly didn't notice me before. Then he took a look up and said 'yeah, it really is'. After a few minutes just staring at the sky he went to the outhouse toilet and back to sleep. 
Only in the morning I heard him telling a story to his friends how he woke in the middle of the night wishing to quickly take a piss just outside the tent as was too lazy to go to the toilet. But it was when a girl out of nowhere interrupted him and made him look up at the stars. Eventually he ended up having to go to the toilet in the middle of the night but if it wasn't for me, he said he may have never seen the beauty of that incredible sky.

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