Unfortunately, I barely got any sleep my last night in the apartment. In fact, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a group of guys doing the haka in the courtyard. I would have been mad if I didn’t feel nostalgic about it being my last live haka, and the fact that something like that would never happen at UVM.
Needless to say, I woke up at 7am to begin the process of my departure. I got showered, 100% packed,
100% clean, and 100% moved-out.
Check out was at 10am, and a van was there right on time to drive us to the airport. We went to pick up my family and we all shoved ourselves into the van, remembering what it was like to pick them up from the airport in little Kermit the Car.
Our flights weren’t until the evening, but since we had to be kicked out of our accommodation, we figured it would be smart to get to the airport way early, check in, check our luggage, and then go on one last excursion to a winery near the airport. Check in went relatively smoothly, except that Hannah and I were both over our luggage weight limits so we had to deal with all that drama.
We got a cab to Villa Maria winery.
I have a close attachment to Villa Maria because it was the first winery that Hannah and I visited in the South Island on our tour through the Marlborough wine region. Also, you can often find Villa Maria on wine lists in many restaurants in Auckland. In fact, mom and I had a glass of their excellent sauvignon blanc at the Sky Tower and we bought a bottle for our last night! Villa Maria grows most of its grapes in Marlborough but makes most of the wines on the winery in Auckland.
We arrived and were lucky enough to catch up with a tour that was just a few minutes in. We got to see a lot of their distillation tanks and learned about the right temperature and preservatives for wines.
After the tour, we got to taste a number of their wines (my favorites were the slightly sparkling sauvignon blanc and the pino noir).
We learned a lot about the importance of the right food companion to a bottle of wine.
It’s very scientific!
After our tour, we got a table in the cafe for lunch.
We ordered a bottle of the slightly sparkling sauvignon blac to share, plus two antipasti platters.
After much deliberation, I decided to just go with the soup of the day (roasted pumpkin) and I was glad because it was huge!
We ate and drank like royalty at Villa Maria, and it was a perfect way to end our trip while killing some time before our flights.
We took a cab to the airport, which got sort of screwed up because they send a small car and we had to take two trips. Either way, we made it through security with some speed bumbs. Firstly, they said my backpack was too heavy so I had to throw away a bunch of stuff and give other stuff to my mom. I was mad, though, because most of the weight was due to electronics, which apparently don’t count anyway! Grrrr, I even threw away the rest of the Anzac biscuits! As if I wasn’t having enough bad luck, I was chosen for a random body scan by security, which definitely put me on edge a bit. Then mom got one, too! I guess we are really suspicious-looking, or maybe the enjoy terrorizing innocent American ladies (I’m being dramatic – it was not really traumatic). Then I felt even more anxious because they did not announce our gate and I couldn’t find gum anywhere. Also, all I wanted was a normal sized Whittaker’s bar since it will be my last chance to have it for a while, but they only had huge-ass bars! Eventually our gate was announced and we parted ways (Hannah and I were on a different flight than my parents) and of course the first shop in our neighborhood of the terminal had regular Whittaker’s bars. At least it was a good opportunity to spend the rest of my NZ cash!
We waited at the gate for a short while, though the departure was delayed by a little bit. We boarded the plane and I was able to trade with a woman so that I could sit next to Hannah. I even got an aisle seat! It felt really strange to take off. I even cried a little bit. So many mixed emotions! In the end, I will really really miss New Zealand.
Though I had an aisle seat, it only had some perks. The storage under the seat in front of my was smaller than other seats, so I could barely fit my backpack! It was very frustrating and resulted in limited legroom on my part. I was happy once I started watching movies, though! I got to watch two of the movies on my “to watch” list: Rango and Made in Dagenham. Rango (an animated movie starring Johnny Depp about a lizard in the Wester dessert) was cute, but not as funny as I thought it would be, but Made in Dagenham was awesome – totally inspiring, may favorite kind of movie! If you don’t know the premise, it’s about women who hand-sewed the seating in Ford cars in Britain in the ‘60s went on strike for equal pay. Dinner was really delicious. I love Air NZ food, it’s always so yummy and feels like an upscale lunchable! I got curry chicken which was so great! I also had my last glass of wine for a loooooong time!
After they turned off the lights I tried to sleep but I’m not sure I got more than an hour. It was painful! Specifically, my feet swelled up so bad that I could barely squeeze them back into my shoes in the morning! After breakfast (of white chocolate chip pancakes – hell yeah) I did fall asleep for a bit, but I was jolted awake by our landing in San Francisco.
It felt very strange to be back in America. It’s a little overwhelming and I’m just trying to take it one step at a time. First step, going through customs, which is a breeze as an American citizen reetnering the country with nothing but Whittaker’s bars to claim 😉 We did have to re-check our luggage, which was a bit of a hassle, but at least it was exciting!
After finding our gate, we wandered around in search of a Starbucks since Mrs. Pace sent us gift cards a while ago. We realized that there wasn’t one in the terminal, so I settled for a cup of Pete’s coffee. I’m so not used to it! It’s so strong! But it’s so much better!!! I can’t wait to get my first Starbucks again! We also got our fill on American food by getting some guacamole and salsa with chips as a snack. So spicy, so authentic, just what I have been craving for months! We also shared a mushroom pizza which was less than thrilling, but it did the job.
We waited at the gate for a while, realized we had to get dinner (I grabbed a burrito) and then we realized that we would not be seated together. I struggled to keep my eyes open during the flight. I suffered from ADD – gazing out window, reading, logic puzzle, snacking, Harry Potter, blogging, Glee, etc! Are we there yet?
Once we landed, it was easy. We got off the plane no problem and met up with Mr. and Mrs. Pace. It was so good to see them! They even brought me a snack. How thoughtful! We met up with my driver, who was really helpful getting my bags, and then we drove home and it only took about an hour!
I was greeted at the backdoor by Gram L, Paula, and Ghia. I took the most blissful shower in our newly renovated bathroom and hit the sack.
Even though my ankles are super swollen:
I have cankles!
It feels so good to be home!