All around Oahu: Hiking Diamond Head

I’m taking a little break from my A-Z Challenge.

I still have R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z to do… And I have some cool ideas for those posts!

But I’m far too excited about our recent trip to Hawaii so that’s what I’m going to cover first.

Views from parking lot at Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

Earlier this week James and I wrapped up a 10-day trip to the island of Oahu.

One thing we did during our vacation was hike Diamond Head, the volcano that makes up the iconic background setting of Waikiki Beach.

We first took a city bus to the base of the hike, which is really more of an incline walk.

Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

The walk itself was nice. Lots of families with young children were able to do it so it’s not impossible with little ones.

The bus dropped us off just around the corner from the driveway entrance, which took about 15 minutes to walk through to finally get to the park entrance.

James’ Kiwi-ness paid off in helping us gain entrance because we were without cash — it costs $1 per person or $5 for a car.

James mid-hike at Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

The kindness of the people working at the park was incredible. A woman working the food/drink truck gave us two free bottles of water because it was too dangerous to be walking up without hydration.

It was so hot out! Well over 30 degrees celsius (close to 90 degrees fahrenheit).

Lesson learned: Bring CASH to Diamond Head!

Views from Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

As for views, you won’t see many until you reach the top but MAN is it worth it!!

After climbing some rather intense stairs, you ascend to the summit where you’ll find a stunning lookout over Waikiki Beach and the Diamond Head lighthouse.

The color of the water is breathtaking. See for yourself…

Views from Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

Overall: It’s a great thing to do if you’re wanting to stay active and if you’ve got a couple hours to see Honolulu from a beautiful birds-eye perspective.

It took us about an hour and a half round-trip. We took some time relaxing and appreciating the scenery once we reached the top.

We both highly recommend Diamond Head!

Views from Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

Alexa Rae & James at Diamond Head in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii via ZaagiTravel.com

A-Z Challenge: QUESTIONS (& answers) about my life here in New Zealand

James and Alexa Rae at the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comMy boyfriend James is a big fan of Reddit, a site known for their AMA “Ask Me Anything” interviews.

I thought that a Q&A would be a fun way to post about the letter Q in my seemingly never-ending alphabet blogging challenge.

So… on Facebook I asked my friends and family to send me their quandaries. Scroll down to see my responses.

___________

How many hours difference are you from San Diego?

Well, it depends on the time of year actually. Right now, we in New Zealand are nineteen hours ahead of San Diego (or I like to think of it as five hours behind but a day ahead haha).

That will change when each of us (NZ & California) goes through Daylight Savings. It will change to 20 hours ahead and then 21 hours ahead.

 

How does working there compare to here?

Let’s see…

Here in New Zealand there is a 90-day trial for every employee. Before you hit 90 days at your place of employment you can basically be let go without reason.

Our salaries are a bit higher (but our dollar is weaker and cost of living fairly expensive) so it ends up being somewhat similar.

 

What are the benefits like?

In New Zealand we get many more days of paid annual leave (the minimum for everyone is four weeks but some businesses offer even more).

We also have PAID parental (yes, BOTH parents) leave (which will move from 16 weeks to 18 weeks next year), as opposed to the US – which federally speaking has zero paid leave and only 12 weeks unpaid leave… California does now offer six weeks at 55% of your salary.

And if you’re wondering why I know so much about parental leave? I wrote an article on it a few weeks ago.

 

When’s the wedding and am I invited?

Ha! Not anytime SOON – we are not even engaged!

 

What are your work colleagues like, and are their accents the coolest ever?

Yes, Heath. Your accent is awesome. haha And you, along with all of my co-workers, are pretty darn great! I feel very fortunate to work with such a dynamic group of people. There’s a fantastic energy in our office.

 

View on the kiwi foodie scene?

The amount of health food restaurants and stores is incredibly impressive for its size!

One of the things that stands out most about the food here is how fresh it is. It just tastes more real and fresh off the vine if that makes sense.

 

And what would you recommend to those travelling to NZ?

In terms of food? If you’re in Auckland I really love Mexico, ironically. I didn’t even like Mexican food when I lived minutes from the Mexican border. But Mexico is a really fantastic restaurant with a few different locations around AKL.

In terms of just regular travel? In summer I absolutely LOVED spending a few days on the island of Waiheke just off the coast of Auckland.

I would also definitely recommend the Coromandel Peninsula and Cathedral Cove as well as the Glow Worm caves down in Waitomo and hiking Duder Regional Park in Maraetai.

But honestly… this country is the most beautiful and diverse place I’ve ever been to. Everywhere you turn it is absolutely stunning. There truly are endless opportunities for adventure here.

 

Are you an All Blacks fan?

Sure am! I even have an All Blacks jersey! But I’m still figuring out how rugby works…

 

Do you say mate yet?

I don’t say mate and I don’t think I ever will. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it just doesn’t come naturally like some other kiwi words do.

 

Other than missing family & friends, what’s been the most difficult thing to adjust to and how do you deal with it?

Driving and the weather.

I have managed to conquer driving on the left – with the steering wheel on the right. Well, for the most part.

The weather? Still a daily struggle for me. It’s not the arctic or anything but WOW. It really FEELS like it.

I’ve had to go out and buy new clothes – including merino wool tops, wool socks, more tights/leggings, more thick sweaters, more boots, etc.

I also have had to purchase an electric blanket which has made a massive difference in the evenings!

I now use a room heater in the bathroom for when I get out of the shower and I wear a robe, and slippers or house socks pretty much constantly when I’m home.

 

What is the main differences in food compared to the U.S.? In terms of what people eat, the taste, fruits, etc.

Food in New Zealand is generally a bit healthier — less processed, smaller portions and so on. Supermarkets don’t look that different really but people appear to eat somewaht less fast food and more homecooked meals, and you can tell the differences in sizes at the movies for example.

There’s a lot of pumpkin/kumara served here which makes me a very happy camper! And definitely a British influence in the food – the commonality of things like savoury pies, fish and chips, etc.

 

How different are the road rules other than driving on the other side of the road?

I’m still getting a hang of that.

The first thing that comes to mind… ROUNDABOUTS! And I actually LOVE them. They scared me for the first couple months but now I can’t imagine life without them. They’re so much more functional than sitting at red lights for forever.

In more rural New Zealand there are one-way bridges where one side yields until there are no more cars coming, which I’ve never seen in the US.

The speed limits in the US are a bit higher and I think I still drive at US speeds – oops! But I haven’t been caught yet. Only by James.

 

How did your perception of kiwis change after you moved here (if it changed at all)?

Hmm… I think I just learn every day how friendly kiwis are. I personally find them very welcoming and warm, more so than the average Los Angeles resident.

They have a wee bit (see what I did there?) of that formality that Americans associate with the UK. Sort of a sophistication. Well. Some kiwis. 😛

 

What do you wish the US had that NZ does and what do you wish NZ had that the US does?

I wish NZ had Target! And quark. And less-expensive shopping. And warmer weather. And currency as strong as the USD. And my family. I really miss them.

Hmm… I wish the US had the lifestyle that NZ has. And the amazing level of healthcare that NZ has. And the far lower crime rates. Children walk home from school here without the fear that they’ll be kidnapped. Police in NZ don’t carry guns or even tazers. It’s very safe and you can feel that.

 

What’s the main differences in lifestyle from the U.S. To NZ?

New Zealanders have a healthier work-life balance. Americans live to work, where in NZ it’s more about working to live. The focus here is on enjoying life – BBQs with friends on the weekend, an emphasis on O.E. (Overseas Experience) for young adults, etc.

People here just seem more ALIVE, instead of simply going through the motions. I never noticed that the US is like that until I spent more time here and realized how much people

 

If you have any other questions for me ask them in a comment below and I will add them to the post!

A-Z Challenge: Pulling up poissons in the Hauraki Gulf

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comTwo weekends ago James and his buddies took me fishing in the Hauraki Gulf.

We woke up before the sun to head down to the boat dock at 6 in the morning.

Being that I’m Southern California born and raised I still struggle to dress appropriately for the chilly weather.

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

For our ocean excursion I wore a pair of Lululemon leggings, a pair of sweatpants from my university days, a tank top, a long-sleeve shirt, a running jumper, my New Zealand sweatshirt and my beloved Marmot puffer jacket. Oh, and a beanie and my runners.

Overkill? Probably. The guys asked me if I thought we were going skiing.

Oh well, I was warm. And I caught the most fish out of everyone.

So I was doing something right. 😉

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Upon pulling out of the Half Moon Bay harbor, we headed north, straight towards Rakino Island.

The sun joined us over the horizon just as I caught the first fish of the day, a too-small snapper.

With some help from the guys we got the hook out of his lip, and I gave him a quick little kiss before sending him back to grown in to a 20 pounder.

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Grabbing the knife, I cut up some bait – mostly squid and pilchard – and dressed my line for the next fateful reel-in.

But first, I had to learn what a “boil up” is, which is when the fish are chased up to the surface of the water by a larger predator and the birds are used as a signal by fishermen to determine a good spot to cast a lure.

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Before I knew it I was pulling up a decent-sized snapper pretty much every 15 minutes. A bit in part to the tools I was using.

After awhile I offered to switch poles with James so he could have a shot at catching some and he had better luck. So I can’t take ALL the credit.

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comFishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

We eventually decided to begin heading south, passing by Waiheke Island and shedding layers as the day warmed up.

Once we were back we met up to clean the boat (or in my case, watch) and count/divvy up the fish we had kept. I can’t quite remember how many there were, at least 15 and at least 75% of the lot was caught by yours truly.

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

When we got home James filleted the fish and prepped them for dinner.

Then, we cooked it beer-battered style and served it up with kumara fries! YUM!!!

Fishing on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com Fresh snapper from the Hauraki Gulf via ZaagiTravel.com

In the meantime, a photo I shared to Facebook of my first wee little fish was shared to an account called Girls Who Fish NZ.

It truly was a great morning and now I’m itching to head out on the sea again.

A-Z Challenge: Oob Organic Berry Farm & Ice Cream Stand in New Zealand

More than two months in and I’m very ready to have this A-Z Challenge done with. So I can start blogging exciting things like… my upcoming trip to Hawaii!

But, in the meantime, what better way to pass the time than to tell you about one of my OTHER favorite ice cream spots in New Zealand!

It’s an ice cream kind of month, apparently. All months should be ice cream months, don’t you think?

I visited the OOB Organic Berry Orchard Shop over the summer, when I was staying in Omaha Beach.

The farm is located in Omaha Flats, which is about an hour’s drive north of Auckland.

OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

On the way back south I asked James if we could stop here to get a snack before our drive, as I’d heard so much about it from his family.

Johnny, his best friend, supported my request for ice cream so off we went.

OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

After leaving the beach, passing smaller farms with clusters of grazing furry sheep, we eventually turned down a gravel road.

A couple turns later, the car bumping along the rough drive way, we eventually reached our destination.

With rows of blueberry plants on our right, we finally spotted the cafe building just past an area of covered tables and chairs.

Ice cream from OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

After parking up we walked inside, immediately identifying the smell of fresh cream and berries.

Upon checking out our options, I chose a blend of frozen yogurt and mixed berries while James and Johnny went for ice cream and mixed berries.

The girl behind the counter went to work, scooping out berries and combining them in a big metal machine.

Ice cream from OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

OOB is known for their blueberries but also offers strawberries in their cold creations as well.

I waited in anticipation for my waffle cone-filled deliciousness.

Flecks of the fresh fruit could be seen mixed in, giving the creamy concoctions a pale pink/purple color and a subtle berry flavor.

After paying, James, myself and our third wheel (just kidding J-honny!) walked out to the covered patio to lap up our melting sweet treats.

Ice cream from OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com Ice cream from OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comIce cream from OOB Omaha Organic Berries Orchard Shop in Omaha, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

If you’re craving these like I am now… you’ll be happy to know that OOB ice creams can be purchased in grocery stores (including Countdown and New World) but fresh right out off the farm is my favorite way to enjoy them!

The orchard shop – at 89 Jones Road, Omaha – will re-open in summer 2016.

I think I can speak for all three of us when I say we can’t wait to go back.

A-Z Challenge: Nom nom nom! Giapo Haute Ice Cream in Auckland, New Zealand

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

If you read my blog regularly than you know I love ice cream.

And you could also assume that I’m on a hunt to find the best ice cream in Auckland.

Well, Giapo is definitely a contender.

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

I’ll admit that Giapo isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s so rich (for both the taste buds AND the wallet) that I honestly don’t think I can justify going more than a couple times a year.

James and I absolutely LOVED our concoctions, but were left clenching our stomachs after consuming them. The sweetness was just so powerful!

Nevertheless, visiting this shop is a unique and worthy ice cream experience.

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Giapo was created by Giapo Grazioli in 2008.

On his website Grazioli – an ice cream genius – lays out his passion and theory: “I am committed to changing the way people experience, see, feel and eat ice cream. My approach comes down to transforming the most popular dessert in the world into something fashionable and artistic by paying attention to the smallest of details: textures, flavours, smells, and by applying highly laborious techniques and methods used in haute cuisine and in artistic set ups.

He adds: “Through my creations I aspire to get the world down to New Zealand so they can experience this beautiful country that I have the privilege to be living in.

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comWhen ordering here, customers are not able to see the flavors in their case, because as the staff told us, they do not want everyone to order based on sight.

Every ice cream is treated like art, with various toppings added, so the final product is always different than what the base begins like.

After sampling 3-4 each, James went for the triple chocolate (I originally did also but changed my mind as to be able to eat some of his as well as mine too!).

His ice cream, a chocolate lovers’ heaven, had chocolate pieces and raspberry bits all adorned with a large chocolate half-moon.

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

I opted for the Giapo Buono – which doesn’t appear to be available anymore.

Their flavors are constantly changing based on season and the latest creative spark they have in the kitchen.

My ice cream was decorated with a thickly packed layer of very fine cookie crumble dust, marshmallow topping which was toasted with a torch, and a handful of glimmering gold-dipped hazelnuts. Can you say WHOA?!

Giapo Buono haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comGiapo Buono haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

It was great ice cream. There’s no denying it. It was beautiful and it tasted wonderful.

But it was SO SWEET. My stomach began aching before even digging in, and it aches now just thinking about that day.

But it was worth it. Oh, how it was worth it.

Giapo haute ice cream in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

A-Z Challenge: Meet Ruby, my new car!

RubyCar at Eastern Beach in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

My one-month blogging challenge has turned into a three-month blogging challenge.

But you know what… priorities.

I managed to land an incredible job with an amazing company, which I’ll tell you about in an upcoming post.

Work and paying the bills will always take precedence. Because adulthood, yo.

But on with the post. I’m pretty damn proud of myself to be honest, for ALL the things I’ve accomplished since I arrived in New Zealand more than two months ago.

One of these things is buying a car – the second one I’ve ever had in my name.

RubyCar at dealership in Otahuhu in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

She’s not brand new, but she’s beautiful.

We’ve named her Ruby, for her stunning deep red paint job.

James’ son, who turns three this month, calls her RubyCar. It’s SO cute!

I found RubyCar on TradeMe, a Craigslist-type website of sorts.

She was the first car I test drove and after considering others I just kept coming back to her.

And a couple days later, after getting a pre-purchase examination and (sort of) working out bank issues, I picked her up from the dealership in Otahuhu.

RubyCar at Eastern Beach in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

I chose RubyCar for a variety of reasons.

1.) I never would’ve chosen a red car before now but because I’m in a new country, which drives on the opposite side than what I’ve been used to for 24 years, I figure it’s good to stand out on the road so other drivers see me!

2.) I have always preferred SUVs. My previous cars have been a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler, a pearly white Ford Explorer, a silver gray Ford Escape and now this ruby red Subaru Forester. I simply feel safer in a larger car.

3.) She drives smoothly. She has relatively low miles for her age. She simply has nothing against her. She’s like a perfectly-aged red wine. My very own Central Otago Pinot Noir with wheels! haha

4.) I can say I drive a Japanese import. Sounds so exotic, right? Her previous owners were in Japan and so to RubyCar we say Konnichi wa. Just kidding, we don’t say that…

RubyCar at Bucklands Beach in Auckland, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Since buying my newest transportation at the end of April I have put on approximately 1,000 kms, mostly driving to and from work, which is about 42 km roundtrip!

When I first began driving I was absolutely terrified. It took about 6 weeks (of being mostly a passenger) for me to really get used to the concept of cars being on the left and which lanes turned where, etc.

My first drive to work was at 5:00am on a very very rainy morning in the dark. I survived and since then have been very confident with my driving here.

IMG_4843

Sort of forcing myself into driving on the motor way, in the dark, in the rain, was a blessing in disguise because now I can get anywhere no problem!

But as much as I love RubyCar, I still love our odd mornings, with crisp air and seabird sounds, when James and I can sit side-by-side gazing at the Rangitoto volcanic island just off the coast as we take the ferry in to work together.

What a beautiful and lucky life I lead.

A-Z Challenge: Lest We Forget… ANZAC Day in Howick

With my Jamesy, who was the Old Collegian pipes and drum band major at the Howick Anzac Parade via ZaagiTravel.com

I started my new job on Monday!! So I’ve been a bit busy…

And, well, ANZAC day was weeks ago.

But let’s do this anyway k?

James in drum major uniform & kilt on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com James in drum major uniform & kilt on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com

I’m gonna just throw you right in… Get ready.

ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps.

In short, ANZAC used to be the combined military created in 1914, which existed during the First World War.

For New Zealanders ANZAC day – on April 25 – is very special, as they celebrate and commemorate their past and present military members.

They show appreciation for their service, in a way that isn’t done in the States. At least not on such a big scale, despite the smaller size of their country! It’s amazing.

Wearing a red poppy on Anzac Day via ZaagiTravel.com

Howick on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com

April 25 was chosen because it was when the ANZACs – fighting for the British Empire – landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey in 1915.

Sadly, about 1/5 of the NZ men that landed in Gallipoli lost their lives in the brutal battles.

Still though, the events of that day were very symbolic for New Zealand, as it established them as a distinct nation.Howick on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com Howick on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com

Now, parades and ceremonies are held all over New Zealand (and Australia too!) to honor the military.

The events I observed in Howick were so special!

James was asked to lead the Old Collegian pipes and drums band which was very cool! He even got to wear his old traditional Scottish kilt, which I got a massive kick out of!

I, along with everyone else, wore a red poppy pin which symbolizes rememberance.

There were plane fly overs, speeches from leaders, songs by local talent, and everyone lined up to clap for the elderly – and not so elderly – members of the various military services. It was honestly incredibly emotional.

Planes flying over Howick on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com Planes flying over Howick on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com

Communities here feel so much more tight-knit and that connection is something that makes a deep impression on me.

I am so grateful I could experience this side of New Zealand culture.

In the words of their national anthem… God Defend New Zealand!James as drum major in Howick parade wearing his uniform & kilt on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com Old Collegian pipes and drum band in the Howick parade on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com Old Collegian pipes and drum band in the Howick parade on Anzac Day morning via ZaagiTravel.com

Lest we forget…

A-Z Challenge: Kiwi Birthday

Blowing out the candles on my 24th birthday via ZaagiTravel.com

I turned 24 on Sunday.

And days in which we celebrate our arrival into the world should always be special. This year was no different, so I feel it deserves a post.

After all, it was my first birthday spent in New Zealand – heck my first birthday spent in another country!

Blowing out the candles on my 24th birthday via ZaagiTravel.com

In the morning, before I even had a chance to have breakfast, I woke to beautiful roses from my ridiculously romantic boyfriend James.

The spoiling didn’t stop there. Many of my Kiwi friends came over before noon for tea and cupcakes.

James’ mom Sami baked delicious frosting-covered mini cakes, which displayed 24 (WOW time flies) long metallic candles.

FlashtyPants made sure to offer his assistance in blowing out the glimmering sparklers, climbing up on a chair beside me with a cheeky grin, a similar one that graced his face hours before when he opened up my birthday pressies.The roses James gave me for my 24th birthday via ZaagiTravel.com

The rest of the day involved watching the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with the result of THAT. But it was still fun to cheer Pac Man on!

In the evening we migrated back to the couch to watch Full Metal Jacket and in between I day-dreamed of what I could create with my new Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 blender/food processor!

One thing is for sure… 24 is already one for the books. And I’m just getting started!

A-Z Challenge: Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand

Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comWell I somehow managed to skip over H, so here we go!

One the most beautiful parts of New Zealand’s North Island is on the eastern coast, a region known as the Coromandel.

And one of the highlights of the Coromandel is a special borderline-magical place called Hot Water Beach, approximately 12 km southeast of Whitianga.

At this beach, just a 5-minute drive from Hahei and the Cathedral Cove, is an incredible volcanic phenomenon.

Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Within two hours either side of low tide, beach-goers (an estimated 700,000 per year) can dig around to find the natural steamy hot mineral water that sits just below the surface of the sand-covered ground.

Families come from far and wide to experience nature’s glorious spa, delivered from deep within the Earth, as they relax in hot holes overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

It should be mentioned however, that while the activity is popular with visitors of all ages, it is important to use caution, especially with young children, because the water can be so hot it can burn skin (and boil eggs too)!

The temperature of the water has been recorded up to 64 degrees Celsius/147 degrees Fahrenheit!

And it is also important to take caution when swimming at the beach, which is known to have rip currents and fairly large waves.

Digging a hole at Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

But back to building your super cool beachside bath!

First off, you’ll need a spade (otherwise known as a shovel if you’re of the American influence).

These can be brought with you – many hotels and hired bachs keep them in stock – or they may be rented for a small price nearby.

I personally suggest borrowing from a friendly face.

Or if you’re feeling extra cheeky, invite yourself into another digger’s handmade pool after all the handwork is finished!

Happy Birthday message for my dad at Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

 

I say this because, as you see in the photos above, many people are standing around.

 

The location of the hot water can be difficult to find. Don’t just stick your spade in the ground and expect to find it (like we naively did).

 

It’s probably best to wait and see who manages to discover the sweet spot, and then do your best to capitalize!

Another tip: We went to during the middle of Southern Hemisphere summer. It’s probably quite a bit less crowded in the off-season.

Happy Birthday message for my dad at Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

On a more personal note, this particularly day happened to be my dad’s birthday.

James – who has the most amazing penmanship – offered to help me write a message in the sand to send to him.

Hot Water Beach proved the perfect background for the photo.

Playing Monopoly with James in the Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comAfter our coastal exploration, we went back to The Church accommodation in Hahei, where we broke out our brand new Auckland-themed Monopoly.

The overcast weather created the perfect environment for a lazy afternoon with board games.

Needless to say, James cleaned up when I landed on the ridiculously expensive Sky Tower tile!

Overall: We both enjoyed Hot Water Beach and highly recommend it to those passing through the Coromandel!

 

A-Z Challenge: Jaunt to Cockle Bay Beach

Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Cockle Bay is a community near the Auckland suburb of Howick.

It is the place I currently call home.

And one of the things I love most about it is it’s beautiful beach – appropriately named Cockle Bay Beach.Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

With a population of less than 5,000 people, Cockle Bay is never a crowded place.

This beautiful East Auckland neighborhood was once the home base for a native Maori people known as Ngai Tai.

The village, previously known as Tuwakamana, also has a historical connection to World War II.

Numerous bunkers – used to defend against Japanese forces – still hide in the shadows of massive pohutukawa trees that line the shore.Cockle seashells on Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Locals and visitors can visit the beach via a hiking trail, known as the Awaroa Walkway.

The walk is relaxing and beautiful, as it extends in either direction towards Howick Beach or the Shelly Park Sandpit.

As you walk along Cockle Bay Beach you won’t be able miss the millions of cockle shells that heavily cover the ground.

There’s no confusion behind the name of this stunning locale. There are simply cockle shells everywhere you look!
Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

The beach is a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Auckland, taking in a romantic or solo stroll.

It is also very family-friendly with a large children’s playground and plenty of climbable trees.

Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grassy lawn that overlooks the local ducks – but just don’t feed them!

James’ mom Sami is a bit of a bird expert, having worked at the Wild Bird Care Charitable Trust, and she has explained to me why it’s important to not throw pieces of food (usually bread) at the precious animals.

Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Visitors, while being well-intentioned in feeding the creatures, likely don’t realize that doing so can cause damage to the environment.

Birds can become reliant on human food sources and young birds can grow not learning the important skills used to forage their own food.

It can also cause them to become unafraid of people, and sadly can become vulnerable to abuse.

Not to mention the spreading of disease, bird-to-bird to bird-to-human, some of which are highly contagious and even lethal.

The boys at Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Bread, specifically, has poor nutritional value. Calcium deficiency, a common occurrence in pond birds, can cause badly deformed legs and wings as well as the softening of egg shells.

Also, bread that settles in the bottom of the waterways can rot and bacteria can easily contaminate the water.

Feeding also attracts larger species, deterring smaller species, and maintaining that natural balance is incredibly important.

Ducks at Cockle Bay Beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

So let this serve as a friendly reminder. :)

It’s highly important to respect the environment you’re in, whether it’s you’re own hometown or someone else’s. And this includes the ducks.

I hope you’re able to come visit Cockle Bay Beach sometime, and that you enjoy it as much as I do!

A-Z Challenge: Guinness World Record Holders… after 36 hours

Well, they did it.

My boyfriend James and his dad Brett are the new Guinness World Record holders for the longest squash match!

On Sunday evening at 5p.m. they set the new bar, playing 36 hours and 2 minutes in front of a massive cheering crowd. It was incredible.

If you want to know more about the event, check out my previous blog post, A-Z Challenge: For Michael Clarke & the Child Cancer Foundation!

Hours 35 of James and Brett Meyers' Guinness World Record attempt via ZaagiTravel.com

There is so so much I could say about this experience but I’ll do my best to keep it simple.

It truly was an honor to watch these amazing athletes do what they do best, in the name of such an incredible charity that works to help young cancer sufferers and their families.

It was an even bigger honor to be apart of the support team that helped pull off such a feat!

James and Brett Meyers beating the Guinness World Record in squash via ZaagiTravel.com

My weekend consisted of baking banana muffins and cooking up pikelets and making smoothies and mixing up Gatorade + coconut water drinks.

I changed James’ plasters (Band-Aids for you Americans!) on his blistered hands and feet.

I massaged his sore, exhausted muscles and offered up pep talks and was on-call for eye drops and lip balm and pain meds.

I dressed up with friends and wore a dragon onesie outfit – which won the adult onesie contest!

I played squash (terribly) with Tessa and our friends in the next court over.

I danced for hours and hours. In part to entertain the guys during their toughest hours – between 2AM and 6AM – and in part to pass the time and help myself stay awake.

The crowd at the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.comThe support crew at the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.com

Because I didn’t sleep. For more than 40-something hours. And people, sleep deprivation isn’t a joke! haha

But every dash to the kitchen, every delirious dance move, every lost bit of sleep… it was all beyond worth it.

James finishing the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.comThe crowd at the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.comThe crowd at the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.com

Please consider donating whatever you can afford to the Child Cancer Foundation!

Click HERE to help support the Meyers’ world record!

The Meyer clan after the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.comThe Meyer clan after the 36-hour squash Guinness World Record on April 12, 2015 via ZaagiTravel.com

Before I sign off, I’ve added a few pictures from our trip to the TV ONE studios on Monday morning!

The troopers woke themselves up at 6am in order to make their live interview on the Breakfast program, and they did an incredible job in front of the cameras!

It was such a blast standing behind-the-scenes watching them discuss the weekend in front of a national audience!

Once again, congratulations James & Brett!!!

James, Alexa and Brett in the green room at TV One NZ via ZaagiTravel.comJames and Brett Meyer on TV One NZ set via ZaagiTravel.com

Check out the guys’ interview on TV ONE Breakfast at… http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/kiwis-smash-world-record-36-hour-squash-game-video-6282672!!

A-Z Challenge: Exploring the Coromandel & Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Hahei Beach in Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Speaking of my favorite places in New Zealand… I fell absolutely head over heels for the Coromandel.

This gorgeous place on the eastern coast of the North Island is truly not to be missed!

James and I took a road trip and stopped in the Coromandel for a few days, staying in Hahei – a good central location to explore the region.

Hahei Beach in Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comIMG_8272

Every corner of the Coromandel offers up a breathtaking view.

There are so many things to see and do as well – from hiking to snorkeling to eating ridiculously good fresh seafood.

While on the beach in Hahei, James and I came across a rope swing, which offered a good hour of free entertainment.

In fact I pretty much had to pry James off of it. In this post I’ve included a couple pictures from his joyous discovery.

Hahei Beach in Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comTree swing at Hahei Beach in Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

The beaches truly are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The volcanic New Zealand coast offers up exotic rock formations in the form of islands, which can be seen while lounging on soft sand, staring out at brilliant turquoise waters and bright blue skies.

As a girl from California, it struck me how serene the area was, considering how stunning!

I’m so used to crowded beaches – I feel so spoiled to enjoy such awesome nearly entirely private destinations.

Tree swing at Hahei Beach in Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comIMG_8354

Like most visitors, one of the highlights of our time in the Coromandel was our hike to Cathedral Cove.

The one-hour walk (each way) offered a massive pay off with one of the most mind-bogglingly beautiful views. It was hard to even believe my eyes.

 

Hike to Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comHike to Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

The cove’s marine reserves covers 9 square kilometers and can be enjoyed by kayak – something we tried to do but had to omit from our itinerary due to rain.

We did rent some snorkeling gear from the local snorkel hire shop… and then spent a rather chilly 15 minutes trying to navigate the murky water, which was caused by the former day’s poor weather.

Heads up! Parking at the entrance to the hike is quite congested, so many people have to park at the bottom of the hill and take a shuttle up to the top. We were able to squeeze in to a spot with the help of parking attendant who charged us extra.

Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

I would love to HIGHLY recommend the place where we stayed – The Church Accommodation.

According to their website, “The Church building was originally the Methodist Church from Taumaranui in the Central North Island,  built in 1916”.

We stayed in a beautiful studio unit with abundant natural light, but they also offer separate cottages as well.

Unfortunately, I don’t have great pictures of the adorable cottage we stayed in because I was so distracted by the beauty surrounding us!

The Church Accommodation in Hahei, Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

But even if you don’t stay at The Church, you absolutely HAVE TO go for dinner at their restaurant!!!

I usually find most hotel restaurants less than impressive – however that is absolutely NOT the case here. It is so so so good!! One of the best meals I’ve had in a LONG time.

We had the Patatas Bravas tapas, the Lamb Kifta meatballs, and the evening’s special – a delicious serving of mussels in a butter white wine broth.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is great, the food is amazing… just go. Seriously!

The Church restaurant in Hahei, Coromandel, New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

A-Z Challenge: Duder Regional Park & Maraetai Coast, New Zealand

Alexa Rae on the Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Serious slacking on my A-Z blogging challenge so trying to catch up as much as possible tonight!

I knew I’d be busy the first week of the challenge, with moving across the world and all… but wow! It’s been hectic.

But no excuses, back to blogging!

Alexa Rae on the Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comThe Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comJames on the Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

In January this year James and I visited Duder Regional Park – one of my favorite places (so far) in New Zealand!

It is only a 20-minute STUNNING drive away, along the Maraetai Coast Rd., from where we live and is an absolutely gorgeous place!

A flying seagull bird on the Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Pohutukawa tree and children playing on a Maraetai Coast beach in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

A summer day on the Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

The regional park – located in East Auckland – was created in 1995, after it was sold by the Duder Family, who had owned the land for 130 years.

It is a working farm with many adorable herds of sheep, which we saw being herded by a shepherd dog as we trekked our way through the fields and trails.

Views of the Hauraki Gulf are truly breathtaking as you hike (or tramp) the Farm Loop Trail, which is about 4 km in length or approximately 1.5 hours long.

Entrance to Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

James and sheep at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

We went at a leisurely pace, bringing along a little picnic to enjoy amongst the turquoise ocean views.

For the day James and I packed little sandwiches that we had stuffed with ham, lettuce, tomato  and spread.

Sheep at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comSheep at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comJames helping out a lone sheep at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com"Sweet As" sign at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

And then, a hike on a hot day is not complete without an ice cream, right?!

James and I finished up our memorable first day of 2015 by stopping for some hokey pokey deliciousness – a very Kiwi treat – at a dairy on the way home.

Alexa Rae at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

James at Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.comView from top of Duder Regional Park in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Hokey Pokey is now my new favorite! It is basically vanilla with bits of honeycomb toffee throughout. They taste like crunchy, chewy little pralines and they are to die for!

To visitors (and locals too!) I very highly recommend a morning or afternoon at Duder Regional Park, taking in the unbeatable scenery New Zealand is known for.

Because what’s better than vibrant sea views, ridiculously cute little lambs and some mouthwatering ice cream to top it all off?

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream on the Maraetai Coast in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

A-Z Challenge: Customs (Global Entry & NZ Holiday Working Visa)

View from Air New Zealand flight over Manakau Peninsula in Auckland via ZaagiTravel.com

On Thursday evening I flew to New Zealand.

I arrived on Saturday morning due to time changes + the amount of time in the air (almost 13 hours).

For this blog post I thought I would tell you about my experience with Customs & Immigration — including my new Global Entry membership as well as which visa I am on here in NZ!

Flight Map via ZaagiTravel.com

GLOBAL ENTRY

I applied for the Global Entry program back in February.

The program, run by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection agency “allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States”, according to it’s website.

Applicants “undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment”.

The benefits of using Global Entry include…

  • shorter waiting times at both major American airports as well as many International airports as well
  • TSA PreCheck eligibility (cutting the line at security!)

Passport and Boarding Pass via ZaagiTravel.com

Basically, you’ll spend approximately 30 minutes and $100 on the application, and if you travel often it is something you should consider looking into.

The membership will last me five years, and being that I’ll be traveling internationally often, I personally feel that it is very worth it!

In order to be fully approved, first, I had to await the acceptance of my online application. I was then told I had to schedule an interview at my nearest enrollment center, which happened to be at the LAX airport.

The interview was very simple and to the point. I met with a U.S. Customs Border Patrol agent who asked me questions about my traveling habits, if I had a criminal record, etc.

After only 15 or so minutes I was told I had been approved and could immediately begin using my Global Entry membership!

Alexa and James via ZaagiTravel.com

NEW ZEALAND WORKING HOLIDAY VISA

Now, on to another immigration matter!

In order to live and work in New Zealand I am using a special visa, which is referred to as the Working Holiday scheme.

The rules of the visa vary, depending on where you are from.

But for Americans, you can apply for this visa if you are between the ages of 18 and 30. It will last me 12 months and allows me to do any work that I would like, as long as I abide by universal New Zealand employment laws.

The application ended up being absolutely FREE! And I was approved in less than a week!

It went in to effect the day I arrived and will last for 365 days.

When I arrived at the airport in New Zealand I only had to show my passport to the NZ Customs officer. I had copies of my work visa & proof of the amount of money I have (in order to show that I can support myself until I find a job and can afford a return ticket at the end of my visa’s covered amount of time).

The entire process (of getting and using a visa) was incredibly simple and straight forward. Moving internationally – not so much. But I can get into that in another upcoming post.

I’m a tiny bit behind on my daily blogging challenge, which defeats the purpose, I know!

But I have been so so busy the last few days. Trying to catch up now!

Cheers from NZ,

Alexa & James

A-Z Challenge: America to nZ

Alexa Rae on Waiheke Island in New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com
Well, if you’re reading this there’s a good chance you already know I’m moving to New Zealand.

If you didn’t know… now you know!

And I’m moving… this week.

I’ll keep this post relatively brief because there will be some lengthy ones to come.

In the month of April I will be blogging EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Ok wait. That’s not true.

I’ll be blogging every single day of the month aside from Fridays or Thursdays if you’re in North America. Technically the rules of the challenge I’m completing (more on that below) include breaks from blogging on Sundays. However, I’m a rebel so I’m choosing Fridays.

Keep Calm And Move To New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

Basically… while researching blogs about Americans that have moved to New Zealand I came across Albom Adventures, a blog written by a female American expat living in Auckland.

She has completed the A-Z Blogging Challenge for the past four years. I was inspired. And being that this will be one of the biggest months of my entire life thus far, I want to document it the very best I can.

My blogging lately has been pitiful, and that’s being kind. But I feel extremely motivated to complete this challenge.

Some of my upcoming posts will include information pertaining to travel, including my experience with Global Entry as well as the special visa I’ll be on.

But most importantly, it will follow the shenanigans I get up to with the best sidekick in the world, my boyfriend James.

Upcoming topics include…

  • On April 11-12 James and his dad Brett will be attempting their second Guinness World Record, for the longest game of squash, playing 36+ consecutive hours to raise $36,000+ for the Child Cancer Foundation.
  • I’ll also be discussing Kiwi food, Kiwi slang, and some of my favorite places I’ve already traveled to around New Zealand.
  • Some of the most fun you could ever imagine!

Flag Of  New Zealand via ZaagiTravel.com

And! As it turns out… Rhonda from Albom Adventures has themed her A-Z posts ‘AmaZing Auckland’! I look forward to discovering more about my new backyard through her blog as well!

Please feel free to follow this journey I’m about to partake on.

And buckle up. It’s gonna be a crazy beautiful ride (on the left side of the road… Oh goodness!)

5 Highlights of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Seattle. Land of rain, coffee, grunge, Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Costco and Amazon…

Also the closest major American city to my god son’s family.

A Very Brief History Lesson on Pike Place

Located on First Ave and Pike St, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest operating public farmers markets in the entire USA. The market, which opened in August 1907, was built on a steep hill overlooking Elliott Bay with the goal of offering regular consumers the chance to “meet the producer”.

With 10 million visitors a year it is one of the most visited attractions in the Pacific Northwest. It is filled with farmers and craftspeople looking to offer their produce and products to both locals and visitors.

TIP!: The best places to park are Western Ave., 1st Ave., and 2nd Ave.

Main entrance sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

These are my highlights from our morning at Pike Place Market. Feel free to add YOUR highlights in the comments below! I’d love to hear them!

1. THE ORIGINAL STARBUCKSOutside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com You can’t start your day at Pike Place Market without first stopping at the original Starbucks.

Being a 23-year-old American female I am basically a religious follower of the coffee brand.

Okay… maybe that’s taking it a little far. But barely.

Outside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Starbucks is one of the largest business chains in the world – with nearly 21,000 stores across 64 different countries!

And it all started in Seattle in 1971. The actual very first location, which only sold coffee beans and not fresh brewed drinks, was closed down and then moved to this location in the mid-70s.

Even if you don’t like coffee, this is still a cool place to visit from a entrepreneurial/business frame of mind.

Outside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States with my cousin Johnny via ZaagiTravel.com

When I landed in Seattle my cousins and I headed from the airport straight to the mecca of caffeine addicts.

Can you tell I was excited?

I was surprised to learn that the original store has been kept in it’s most simple state – only serving certain drinks. And that’s all.

It’s kind of refreshing to enter a vintage version of the mega-coffee-maker. I’m all about bringing things back to basics.
Inside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Fun STARBUCKS facts and a tip:

—  The brand was first going to be called Pequod, after a whaling ship from the book Moby Dick. Instead, it was named after the chief mate on the Pequod, Starbuck.

—  The first Starbucks location outside of the U.S. opened in Tokyo, Japan in 1996.

— If you normally order a latte… stop. Order a cafe misto. It’s very similar to a latte but less expensive (and tastier in my opinion). You can have it plain or add pumps of your favorite flavoring.

View from Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

2. The Fish Market

The fish guys are world famous for their fish-throwing ways.

It apparently all started when the workers grew tired of walking back and forth to retrieve a fish a customer ordered. They decided to keep a worker in the back with all the fish who would toss the order up to the front, saving time and energy.

Seafood for sale at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comFunny sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

I particularly liked this sign – “We sell only wild salmon caught by wild fisherman”.

The other fish and produce market’s around Pike Place are impressive also!

Fresh fish being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Fish being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Inside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comInside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Inside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Main entrance sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com3. Flowers at the market

Thousands of flowers line the hallways of the upper street level. Flowers of every color and shape. The tulips here are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen!

And when do you NOT need flowers in your life?

Flowers are always a good idea.

Flowers being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comFlowers being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

4. The Market Theater Gum Wall in Post Alley

The infamous gum wall is located in Post Alley, just around the corner from Pike Place Market.

The tradition began back in 1993 when patrons would place coins in blobs of gum and stick them against the alley wall. It caught on, and by 1999 the wall was deemed an official tourist attraction.
The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com My cousins and I couldn’t pass up the chance to make our mark on one of the “germiest” attractions in the world.

We each popped a piece of gum and started chewing away while we scoped out where we wanted to place our sticky artwork.The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com This is me placing my piece of gum on the wall as my little cousin Sidney looks on.

How “Seattle” is this picture? Starbucks in hand, scarf around my neck, placing my gum on the gum wall….The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com That’s my piece in the very center above. That long stretched-out sort-of white piece. Ain’t she a beaut?IMG_7183Outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

5. Food Highlights

A: The ConfectionalPeanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecake from the Confectional outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comMini peanut butter cheesecake and cheesecake-on-a-stick from The Confectional. No description necessary.
Mini Cheesecake on a Stick from the Confectional outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

B: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Beecher's Handmade Cheese Curds being made at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, USA via ZaagiTravel.com I HIGHLY recommend the mac n cheese from Beecher’s! It’s just phenomenal. Big penne-style pasta and creamy flavorful cheese sauce. It’s addicting. I warned you.
Menu at Beecher's Handmade Cheese outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Macaroni and Cheese & cheese curds from Beecher's Handmade Cheese outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Cheese curds from Beecher's Handmade Cheese outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

C: La Buona Tavola

Leek & Potato Soup with drops of Truffle Oil from La Buona Tavola at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, USA via ZaaiTravel.com

Leek and potato soup (with a few drops of truffle oil)

So while I didn’t order an entire bowl of this awesomeness, I should have…

The sample I was given was TO DIE FOR – clearly, I downed it all before I could even get a photo. If/when I go back to Seattle I’m coming back here and getting a big steaming bowl of it!

Leek & Potato Soup with drops of Truffle Oil from La Buona Tavola at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, USA via ZaaiTravel.com

So… those are my Pike Place Market (+ surrounding area) highlights.

What are yours?! Comment below and tell me!