Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Switzerland, one year on

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I have to interrupt my recapping of our New Zealand trip to make a very important announcement…😉
Today is exactly one year since I moved to Switzerland!

Regular readers will have been following along with my adventures from the start, so in the interests of not boring you (any more than I have to) I’m going to make this a very brief recap in numbers.

So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve been doing for the past year:

Times swum in the Rhine: Once – I’m a bit of a wimp!

Fasnacht events attended: Four(ish)

(Swiss) places visited – 16 (Fribourg, Lucerne, Mount Pilatus, Sissach, Liestag, Olten, Mariastein Abbey, Papilorama (butterfly park), Engelberg-Titlis, Bottmingen, Bern, Zurich, Lausanne, Arlesheim, Laufen, Allschwil)

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Lucerne from above

Friends made – possibly 1? I haven’t heard from her since we had coffee though.

Meetup.com events attended: 10 (that’s almost one a month. At least I’m kind of making an effort)

Chocolate bars consumed: More than I care to think about…

Visitors shown around Basel: 17 (that’s more people than I showed around Karlsruhe in 8 years of living there!)

Times I’ve had to remind myself that I actually live in this beautiful place: At least once a week!

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Look at it though! So pretty.

All in all, you could say living in Switzerland agrees with me (but not with my waistline… why must the chocolate be so tasty… and the cheese… and the Rösti!). I definitely do not regret deciding to take the chance and move here. Now if somebody could just tell me how to make friends as an adult (a socially awkward adult who fails miserably at small talk and is scared of people…) that would be great!


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Queenstown Gardens

Because we had come back from Milford Sound by plane, we were back in Queenstown relatively early. I had to charge my camera first since it had died on the plane back, so while it was doing that we went to the convenience store to pick up something to drink then made use of the free wi-fi in the hotel lobby (note to anyone considering staying at Novotel – you get 1 hour of free wi-fi per day in the lobby; wi-fi in the rooms has to be paid for! Remind me which century we’re in?!). We weren’t ready for dinner yet having bought quite a bit of food in Te Anau to eat on the Sound cruise, so we decided to go for a walk and ended up in Queenstown Gardens. What follows will include many pictures of plants! I couldn’t help it – so many of them were so different to what I’m used to!

I spent way too long trying to get a decent picture of these birds, which I’m fairly sure are Paradise Shelducks. They just didn’t want to stand still!

The one with the white head is female and the male has a black head. Shelducks form long-term pair bonds, often life-long (aww!) and tend to hang around as couples. Driving around, we would often see a male and a female Shelduck standing in a field somewhere!

In the rose garden, I took far too many photos, mainly because I was trying to play with my camera’s macro setting. Here are a few:

I love the kind of multi-coloured pink/orange ones! They looked so pretty.

The gardens are on a little peninsula, so once we got round to the other side we had a view of a different part of the lake – a part without lots of boats on it (the side where we had entered from is where all the touristy boats are moored). The view there was stunning, especially with the way the evening sun was hitting the mountains.

Back round the other side, a few more photos had to be taken before we finally decided to head off and find something for tea.

There was also a Disc/Frisbee Golf course in the gardens, so we decided to come back and play on our final afternoon in Queenstown. We hired our discs from a place in town for $5 for five hours, but the Internet tells me you can also hire them from the ice rink, which is in the park.

If you have any idea what any of the plants in this post are (other than roses – I can recognise them!) please let me know in the comments.

New Zealand was my March trip for 2016’s redo of Take 12 Trips.

Also linking up for Monday Escapes:

Packing my Suitcase


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Trip to Milford Sound

I meant to continue my New Zealand posts earlier in the week, but things got a bit crazy and I didn’t have a chance.

Anyway… for our first full day in Queenstown, we had booked a trip to Milford Sound. We chose the coach-cruise-fly option, which meant we were picked up in a coach at 6.30 a.m., drove to Milford Sound (with stops along the way), had a cruise on the Sound and then had a scenic flight back to Queenstown in a teeny, tiny aeroplane. The option with the flight back is more expensive than coach both ways, but so worth it! By the way, if you choose to just do the coach option, definitely go with Mitre Peak Tours. I highly, highly recommend. (We booked through Milford Sound Flights, and the coach/cruise parts were run by Mitre Peak).

It was dark when we left, but after a while the sun started to appear over the horizon, so we begin this post’s image overload with my attempts to take photos of the sunrise through the window of a moving coach!

I tried to take more photos through the windows once it started getting light, but it didn’t work very well, so here are some from our first stop instead. I have no idea where this is! Somewhere with mountains…

I don’t even remember whether those photos are from before or after Te Anau, where we stopped to pick up more people and so those who didn’t have lunch included could pick some up from the supermarket there. Jan and I had a sausage roll and a coffee for breakfast there. And I took zero photos.

The next stop was at Mirror Lakes, which is definitely after Te Anau😉 In case you can’t guess where they got their name, here are some photos:

We then stopped at a little stream where our bus driver said we could fill our water bottles if we wanted. Again, I don’t remember where it was (because I’m an idiot), but have some photos.

The next stop was at the Cleddau Valley cascading waterfalls. Our bus driver told us that when it’s raining there are hundreds of waterfalls… everywhere you look, water is cascading down. It was not raining when we were there, but we still saw waterfalls. I can only imagine how impressive it must look in the rain.

Our final stop was at Karangahake Gorge.
Our bus driver told us that he recently found out all the other bus companies only have two stops – at Mirror Lakes and Karangahake Gorge. Apparently this is because people get out of the bus, have a chat, finally decide to take a few photos, have another chat, look at the photos, delete then and take more. So at every stop he asked us to please take our photos then get back on the coach so we could have more stops later. At Karangahake Gorge, he told us we could only stop there if everyone agreed to get round and be back on the bus in 10 minutes. As it turned out, the last person was back on the bus after 12 minutes. As our driver was pulling out he said “And that is how we get to make more stops than any other tour!” (Once again, book with Mitre Peak tours if you can – and hope you get Carlin as a driver).
I could definitely have spent more than 12 minutes at Karangahake Gorge, it’s so impressive! But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos for yourself:

Yeah, I may have gone overboard with the photos… that isn’t even all of them! But if you think that’s a lot, wait until you see the ones of the Sound😉

Finally, at just before 12 o’clock, we arrived at Milford Sound! Our boat was waiting for us, and we had a two-hour cruise on the Sound, complete with commentary from the guide. I have no idea what any of the things we saw are now though (other than Seal Rock). Mitre Peak is one of the mountains, obviously, and the two permanent waterfalls are Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, but I have no idea which is which! Supposedly whales and dolphins can sometimes be spotted following the boats, but we didn’t see any. We did see seals though, which was nice. Anyway, enough rambling from me, you’re here for the photos – yes?

There are a lot of photos, so I thought I’d split this into two. Part two = seals and stuff!

Before we started our cruise, it was pretty cloudy, so the bus driver said he assumed we’d be going back in the coach with him. It gradually brightened up throughout the cruise though, so once we got back he told us to go and ask at the Mitre Peak information desk. Our flight was indeed going, so we wandered over to the airfield to meet our pilot (whose name I’ve forgotten!). Guys, if you ever make it to New Zealand, you have got to do a scenic flight over Milford Sound!! I literally cannot describe how amazing the views were! Here, have some photos, but they can’t do it justice either. It’s something you really have to see for yourself.

(Try to ignore all the random reflections from inside the plane!)
Unfortunately my battery ran out before we got back to Queenstown so I have no photos of Lake Wakatipu. So you’ll just have to take my word that it was stunning! So amazingly blue.

So, to sum up, Milford Sound is definitely among the most beautiful places on the planet and if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you must put this on your list! It was an absolute highlight of our entire trip. I literally cannot gush enough about this place! Also, look how cute the seals are!


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Food and drink in Queenstown

Instead of doing multiple posts on all the places we ate at, I thought I would just do one post and lump them all in together. Apologies in advance for my inadequacy when it comes to photographing food!

On our first evening in Queenstown, after taking a trip to Paradise, we chose to go to a place we had spotted while looking for the hotel: Smiths Craft Beer House. We originally went for the beer, but ended up eating some of the most delicious pub food I’ve had in a while! I went for venison pie (mmm, Bambi! Sorry vegetarians!) while Jan chose the vegan burger, which consisted of a kumura (sweet potato) pattie with salad and pesto, served with hand cut fries and the most amazing aioli!

Obviously beer was consumed. I can’t remember the names of all the ones we sampled, but this one was definitely among them:

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Why bother giving your beer a fancy name?

It was actually quite nice, despite the lack of creativity in the name😉

On the second night, we went to The World Bar, because my sister’s boyfriend had recommended it. Their main claim to fame is that they serve cocktails in teapots. We initially decided to go for something slightly less strong though and chose some interesting sounding ciders from the menu. To eat, I went for “Chicken & Waffles” which, as the name suggests, consisted of southern fried chicken on waffles. It also came with bacon and maple syrup. The combination sounded intriguing, but the chicken was quite fatty and not that nice. Jan had some quinoa wrap thing, which was quite tasty (if incredibly trendy!). Definitely the better choice!

Obviously we had to partake in teapot cocktails, if only so I could take a picture to send to my sister’s boyfriend! Mine was called Bloom and tasted exactly like a strawberry Mini Milk, but with alcohol.

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The teapot came with shot glasses to drink it from, but trying to pour it into them was messy! Much easier to stick a straw in the teapot…

The cocktails are fun, but other that I wouldn’t say The World Bar is an absolute must when you’re in Queenstown. (Sorry A!).

On night three, we went to another beer place on the recommendation of our wine tour guide! We mentioned that we had been to Smith’s, so he suggested we try out Atlas Beer Cafe. According to him, they have the best steak and chips in Queenstown… I can’t comment on that though since Jan and I both chose beef sausage on kumara mash (are you sensing a theme here?). It was absolutely delicious – more than making up for the previous night’s disappointing chicken!

We both chose to drink beer by Altitude here since it’s a local brewing company. Unfortunately neither of the ones we tried was particularly to our taste. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

The next night we went to a fish restaurant where I took no pictures, but was asked for the first time in my life how I wanted my salmon cooked! (They recommended “medium rare”, I went for it and it was delicious!), so to the final night…

Our last night in Queenstown was Good Friday. According to New Zealand law, alcohol is not allowed to be sold on Good Friday… unless you’re having it with a meal! Many places were just closed entirely, some were open for dinner then planned to close afterwards, opening again at midnight (when it wouldn’t be a holiday any more…). Everywhere was absolutely packed! We managed to find some room at a table in  Pub on Wharf though (yes.. that’s its name. Who needs articles?). This time Jan had salmon (because it came with wasabi mash), while I chose pork belly stuffed with apricot, sage and onion and served with mash, veg and apple sauce. It was a good choice! The beer on tap was from Mac’s brewery, and it was all very tasty. Win!

Overall, I can recommend every single place we ate at… except maybe The World Bar. I’ll leave that one for the youngsters and party animals, I think😉


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A trip to Paradise, New Zealand

(Really the title should be to Paradise and beyond, but I didn’t like that as much.)

On our second day in New Zealand, or first full day, we got up early to return to Auckland Airport, where we got on a flight to the south island – specifically to Queenstown. Once there, we found our rental car, drove into town and checked into the hotel (we ended up at Novotel because literally nowhere else had a room available for the entire time we were there and we didn’t want the hassle of changing hotels after 2 days!). We had nothing planned for the afternoon, so we decided to just get in the car and take a drive. A map I had picked up from the airport recommended driving towards Glenorchy, so that’s what we decided to do.

After a drive involving many twists and turns, as well as fantastic views of the lake, we reached the tiny town of Glenorchy, where we parked up and got out to take some photos (along with all the other tourists!)

The map suggested that, if we had time after visiting Glenorchy, we should “drive on and find Paradise”. We did have time, and so on we drove. About 20 minutes later, after driving down some rather bumpy gravel roads and crossing a few fords, we spotted the sign for Paradise.

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Cue Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise”

There are a lot of sheep in Paradise! Also, toadstools, which I couldn’t resist taking way too many photos of.

We drove on for another 10 or 15 minutes, then we reached a ford that we thought looked a bit too deep for our car to cope with, so we stopped the car, got out to take some photos and then drove back the way we had come.

Our next stop was at Diamond Lake, which is back down in the direction of Glenorchy. My photos seriously can’t do the stunning scenery justice, so you’ll just have to go to New Zealand and see it for yourself😉

Jan also spotted a cricket in the grass and, just as we were about to get in the car, I saw some birds in a tree above us. Yay wildlife! (Click to see bigger photos)

Once we got to Glenorchy again, instead of driving straight back to Queenstown, we decided to drive around the top of the lake. The original plan was to go to Kinloch, but one road was closed, so we turned a different way and ended up in the Routeburn carpark, at the start of the Routeburn track, so we got out and went for a short walk. The trail we took follows the Routeburn track for a little way (the entire track is 33 km!) then turns off onto a small nature loop. Our entire walk took roughly an hour, which was perfect – long enough to stretch our legs without being too strenuous. We saw lots of little birds, but none that would stay still long enough to have their photos taken! So you’ll just have to make do with more scenery, and random plants that I thought looked interesting.

After our walk, we got back in the car and drove back to Queenstown for dinner, having got an excellent first impression of what the south island had to offer!

I’m linking this post up for Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey.

Packing my Suitcase

New Zealand is also my March trip for 2016’s redo of Take 12 Trips, a linkup started by Clare from Need Another Holiday.


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Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand

I’m back! And that means it’s time to bore you all with tales from my New Zealand trip. Sorry, not sorry😉

We landed at Auckland airport at around 11 a.m. on 20th March, but by the time we’d got through passport control, collected our bags, done the security thing and my cousin, who had come to pick us up (so many thanks for that!), had driven us into town, it was afternoon. We quickly showered at the hotel then walked down Queen’s Street (the main shopping street) to jump on a ferry to Devonport, where my cousin lives.

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On the ferry to Devonport

Originally a fishing village, Devonport is now a suburb of Auckland city. It’s located on the North Shore, so to get there you either have to drive over the harbour bridge (incredibly annoying at rush hour!) or take a ferry. I certainly wouldn’t mind using the ferry for my daily commute!

While we waited for my cousin (who had gone to her boyfriend’s while we freshened up), we had a walk around the wharf area and watched the seagulls and other birds that were gathered around.

Once my cousin arrived, she took us for a drive around Devonport, up the various hills (which are actually volcanoes) and then for dinner at her local pub, The Patriot. I can’t remember which photos were taken from where, so here are just all of them. Views from North Head and Mount Victoria:

At dinner, we had our first taste of Kumara, the New Zealand sweet potato that the Maoris brought with them from Polynesia, and also tried our first New Zealand beers. At around 9 p.m. we decided it was probably time to get moving since my cousin had to work the next day and we had another flight to catch – to the South Island, where we would be spending the next five days. After a ferry ride back to Auckland City and a walk up Queens Street that felt much longer than the walk into town we were finally in bed, where I at least fell straight to sleep.

^ terrible attempts to get a night shot as we were coming in to Auckland city harbour!

Next up is South Island. Stay tuned!

* New Zealand is my April trip for 2016’s take 12 trips retake! *


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No time to post – I’m off to New Zealand!

I think the title says it all really. I have three more hours left to work, then I’ll throw the last few bits into my suitcase, do a last minute tidy up, then catch a train to Zurich airport. From there it’s a 6-and-a-bit hour flight to Dubai, and then onwards to Kiwi-a-gogo-land (Georgia Nicholson, anyone?).

I don’t have any posts scheduled for while I’m away, so I’ll catch up with you in about 2 weeks. Dn’t do anything I wouldn’t while I’m away😉

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