Posts Tagged ‘burgers’

But it’s been difficult to maintain this notion in New Zealand. Eliott and I have been living a much quieter lifestyle over here. At first we accounted our early bedtime to the wwooffing lifestyle. It’s hard to stay up late in someone else’s house. Then we assumed it was living in the suburbs- there’s just no where to go. Then we got to Wellington where we lived on our own, in the middle of a big city. On most nights we made it to 11 before crashing. At that point we decided the lack of nightlife was due to our particular situation. As a couple, it’s awkward to sit at a bar for very long where you don’t know anyone. As two guys or two girls you at least have the option of flirting with strangers. As a couple, that’s just weird.

The essence of cool

The essence of cool

So we were really excited when Broghan came to visit. We figured with a third member of our crew we’d be able to make our own party. I envisioned our group seated at a table laughing like hyenas at our own cheeky jokes. Laughing so hard that nearby tables pulled their stools up to ours and we became the largest, loudest, most fun group at the bar.

I know right? And this is when we're sober. You can only imagine the fun after a few drinks

I know right? And this is when we’re sober. You can only imagine the fun after a few drinks

However, that dream never really came true. It was certainly not for lack of trying. On the way to each destination we researched the best bars and picked up a case of New Zealand Lager for our pre-game. Time and again, our plans were foiled. The pre-games at the hostels often ended up becoming the full game, and on one of the best nights that game became Monopoly. Honestly, our night of Monopoly in New Plymouth was the closest we came to my vision. We were the loudest, most fun group in the hostel and we even attracted a crowd of on-looking Germans.

Flashback: is this the outbreak of WWII? American capitalists dominating while hungry Germans chomp at the bit to join?

Unlike every Monopoly game of my childhood, this one did not end with me flipping the board over…I just threw my cards

So we adjusted our expectations and just made the most of the opportunities that presented themselves. For example, the Raglan hostel had a lot of fun-looking guests so we brought our NZL’s into the common area where we found a large group of boys mesmerized by the “Planet Earth” dvds. We awkwardly enjoyed our drinks, watching quietly, until a woman in her late 50’s joined us at the table. We never did get her name, but we refer to her as Verushka, because it just seemed like it would fit. Verushka entertained us for hours with her stories. Kiwis are notoriously good travelers and she was no exception. She regaled us with tales of opium tripping in Thailand and beating back wild hogs with a stick while on a bathroom break in Vietnam. We had intended to visit a bar that night, but for obvious reasons we abandoned that plan in favor of Verushka’s company.

NZL- the unofficial sponsor of the BrogTrip 2012

NZL- the unofficial sponsor of the BrogTrip 2012

Over the course of two weeks we learned some valuable methods for coping with un-vibrant nightlife scenes. First, make dinner a production. If you’re going to cook at home, take your time at the supermarket- carefully select ingredients and when in doubt buy the bigger one. Always drink while cooking. It makes for very interesting decisions and a convenient painkiller if that grill flares up. If you’re going to a restaurant order appetizers, eat slowly, and make sure to stuff yourself to the point that you’re unable to stand up. This will prolong your dining experience.

The grill master. A regular bobby flay here

The grill master. A regular bobby flay here

Let's just zoom in here and take note of the burger size. America really does do everything bigger

Let’s just zoom in and take note of the burger size. We chose the bigger ones obviously

Secondly, be sure to survey the company surrounding you. There are unsuspecting gems here, but also some potential landmines. If you look at someone and think, “what the hell are they doing here,” you should make a point of hanging out with them. They will supply hours of entertainment. If you find yourself surrounded by 19 year-old Germans that arrived at your hostel on a bus blasting techno music, you should stay in your room and create a drinking game to a movie like “Mean Girls.” Know your surroundings and know your limits.

So what if we did feed the black swans? That might make for an interesting night

What if we did feed the black swans? That might make for an interesting night

So in the end, it always came back to the three of us. We had to make our own fun a lot of the time, and New Zealand offered up some unconventional resources to work with. I have a feeling that other backpackers have had similar experiences so these are lessons that we’ll bring with us as we continue to travel and may even have to use at home depending on where we move!

Just like the good old days

M&B, Just like the good old days


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After each of our stays we’ll break down our experience into three simple categories to help everyone at home assess the trip. This segment was inspired by the only column ever worth reading in the Hamilton newspaper: Thumbs up, Thumbs down, Who Cares. It has been properly renamed.

Rain = defined by bad, poor, or lesser qualities

  • Our Football Skills: As if being cut from JV soccer wasn’t embarrassing enough? At least back then I was younger than everyone. This time we got schooled by 11 and 8 year old boys.
  • Shoveling Rocks: Enough said.
  • The Weather: We never left home without our matching raincoats
  • The Hills: Of death. So much elevation on Waiheke.

To walk or not to walk? That is the question

Shine = the highlights and triumphs

  • Our Hosts: Dave, Sue, Zion, and Ky Mani were fantastic hosts. It’s like we became a part of the family.
  • The Wine: Bursting delicious reds, notes of sarcasm, and a hint of vintners pretention. The perfect bottle(s).
  • The Beer: Homemade brews packed with flavor and just the right price. We heard they recently added extra hops?
  • Matching raincoats!
  • The Food: 14 days of fresh burgers and home-cooked meals- would you dare to complain?
  • The Work: Not too hard, not too gross, but a good dose of humility and some life skills to boot.
  • The Scenery: Breathtaking views if you could make it to a hilltop…

Find your beach, Corona

Overcast = mehh, who cares

  • Our Social Lives: We didn’t meet anyone else our age, leading to a lot of Eliott and Meg time, and that’s just is too boring for words.
  • I lost a sock. It was smart wool. Only time can heal some wounds.

Don’t we make you want to throw up sometimes?

So as you can sense, it was a great trip. We’re taking with us some good life skills- cleaning, cooking, brewing, and Bokashi Composting. Best of all we got to experience life under a philosophy that’s different from today’s norm. Rather than “keeping up with the Kardashians” and constantly working more in order to buy more, our hosts worked comfortably with what they had. They didn’t overexert their business and they focused on saving, reusing, and recycling their existing property (think composting).

As a result they’ve ended up with a beautiful home, two grounded and fun-loving sons, and best of all the time to appreciate it. Sue put it best when we marveled at the low prices in the burger cart. She said, “I’m trying to make a living, not a fortune, love!” 

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After graduation my friends and I began a little tradition of sending out pictures on our first days of work. I truly enjoyed this tradition (maybe because I sent out so many “first day” pics?) and we’re going to continue it here. We’ll be posting about our first day of work at each venue that employ us so you can get a feel for our alternative livelihoods, in case you’re in the market as well. However, we imagine the pictures will be a little different…

Our first work/stay position is at the Crescent Valley EcoLodge on Waiheke.

A view of Crescent Valley from the gardens below

Each day Eliott and I switch responsibilities; one of us does gardening and maintenance around the lodge while the other works in the food cart that the owners keep in town. Around the lodge the jobs vary by the minute. We keep busy with trimming, sweeping, chopping, and shoveling. Our hosts are also caterers so there is some food prep as well. We’re pleased to report at this point that all limbs are intact and no food poisoning has been reported. Knock on wood and please say a few prayers—there is chain-sawing to be done next week.

Hard at work or hardly working?

Down in the truck, The Flamin’ Burger Food Cart, we are one of the island’s finest purveyors of organic, farm-raised meats complimented by locally grown vegetables and homemade buns. It’s spectacular kiwi fare, with daily lamb specials, venison, “American” hotdogs, and the colossal kiwi burger, which includes bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. Dave or Sue, our gracious hosts, handle the cooking while we prep sandwiches, manage the cash flow, and entertain the locales with our cheery accents.

Definitely ask for the special sauce

Learning about the NZ cuisine is one of my goals during this trip. So it’s great to see the cart in action. Two lessons I’ve learned so far: 1.)  A layer of mayo is standard on almost every sandwich, slightly upsetting for me- Hold that Mayo, yo.  2.) Kiwis order from the menu and they don’t expect special treatment. This second lesson is one we could definitely learn back in the states. Let’s face it people, none of us are really that special, but these burgers sure are…

Suck on that Guy Fieri

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