My top travel memories

When we travel, we set out to see things, to meet people, to take part in certain activities. We plan ahead a lot, but it is really when we are on the road and engaging with life in a foreign place that we gain the most. Because we don’t come back with a list of things we ticked off; all we do and see blends into very unique experiences, we create our own stories, we have unique memories that will (hopefully) never leave us.

In this post I would like to share my top three memories of my favourite travel destinations, before I pass the travel baton on to a fellow blogger. Lowcostholidays.com have created a blogging competition for travel writers to share their travel memories and stories. The competition, aptly timed, is a blogger relay in Olympic fashion. Jandal Road is proud to be one of the five team captains kick-starting the Blogger Relay race, for  team BLUE.

To follow the greatest collection of travel memories by passionate travellers, follow the hastags #BloggerRelay and #teamBLUE on Twitter. If you’d also like to take part, feel free to get in touch via the contact form and I’ll do my best to line you up in team BLUE. There are also prizes to be won – including an iPad 2, a digital SLR camera and walking boots, so you are well-equipped to make even more travel memories. And so, without further ado:

My top travel memories

1) The Republic of Whangamomona, Aotearoa

New Zealand's North Island holds many surprises: The Republic of Whangamomona

For regular readers of my blog, it will come to no surprise to read that my favourite travel memories are indeed from New Zealand. I fell in love with Aotearoa  a few years ago, and so I went on a working holiday, purchased a car and drove all over the North and South Islands. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of New Zealand at every turn and corner. Of course I had a few sights and places in mind that I wanted to see when cruising around, but just like the ever-changing landscapes continued to surprise me, so did the randomness of things to see that I had not read about.

I drove a remote stretch of road aptly labelled “The Forgotten World Highway”, on the Taranaki Peninsula. I had never seen so few camper vans in New Zealand before… few as in really none. As we were driving through the rainforest and dense vegetation, the road became more narrow and more lonely every minute. Signs that pointed towards the nearest fuel station became slightly worrying due to the distance they were indicating, and at one point the paved road became gravel. And then, out of the blue, popped a border crossing – for the Republic of Whangamomona! There you go, a republic right in the middle of a remote district on the North Island, whose disgruntled citizens declared the tiny village a republic in 1989 to protest against the village becoming part of a different district. They celebrate their “independence” every other year with a Republic Day and funny activities like gumboot throwing and whip cracking.

2)Pure bliss and island feeling in Fiji

Lounging in a hammock chair on Botaira Beach, Fiji, Naviti Island

While I was in New Zealand, I took the opportunity to go to Fiji. I had always wanted to see the South Pacific, but from Europe that’s a bit of a trek to say the least. From New Zealand this was only a 3 hour flight, and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. I stayed at Botaira Beach on Naviti Island, which is part of the Yasawa group of islands, and a little less developed than the Mamanucas in terms of resorts and package tourists. We had a beach bure (hut) that looked right out onto the beach and the sea, so literally 10 steps to the water, complete with veranda and hammock in the “front yard”. Although we only stayed in that resort for 2 nights, it felt like two weeks. Not in a negative sense at all – we were so relaxed and chilled out and socialised with the locals (there’s a village on the island) that we felt we had soaked up so much Fiji essence! That’s not to say I wouldn’t have stayed there longer. I was sad to leave, and would go there again in a heartbeat.

3)Celebrating 4th of July in Washington, DC

Picnic by the Potomac, view of the Monument on 4th of July, Washington DC
I am fortunate to say I have very good friends from Virginia who live in the state and in Washington, DC. When we went to visit them a couple of years ago, it just so happened to be during the 4th of July. Our friends said they’d organise a few things for the day, and I thought we’d have a barbeque in someone’s backyard, and I was really looking forward to it. I had no idea they would up the ante so much though. We went to a baseball game to see the Nationals play against the Braves. It couldn’t have been a more American experience: we ate hot dogs and curly fries, sang “Take me out to the ballgame” at the 7th inning stretch, and celebrated as the Nationals won against the Braves against all odds.

To round the day off, we went to sit by the Potomac River and had a picnic, hanging out with our friends, as the sun went down. We had an excellent spot overlooking the Washington Monument and watched the whole fireworks display. Quite an experience!

4th of July in Washington DC, fireworks

I hope you enjoyed reading my three favourite travel memories. I’d like to pass the travel baton on to another travel blogger with great stories to share:

Laurel from Monkeys and Mountains

GO TEAM BLUE!!

To follow the greatest collection of travel memories by passionate travellers, follow the hastags #BloggerRelay and #teamBLUE on Twitter. If you’d also like to take part, feel free to get in touch via the contact form and I’ll do my best to line you up in team BLUE.

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  23 comments for “My top travel memories

  1. 30 July, 2012 at 22:32

    Memories for a lifetime! I’ve been to Washington DC a few times and found so much to love about it, but it would be a real thrill to be there on the 4th of July. I’ve got to put that experience on my list!

    • Christina
      1 August, 2012 at 22:10

      🙂 I share your enthusiasm about Washington DC. It was of course the perfect place to be on the 4th of July, and especially with my friends who made sure I had a real American experience.

  2. 30 July, 2012 at 23:10

    I’d read about Whangamomona, but I didn’t get there in the present journey. However, we and many others would agree that Aotearoa is an “exploration project” that could last years, and we’d all enjoy spending every minute of it. I find myself fascinated by the Maori language, and I’ve already spent some time watching Maori television. 🙂

    Goooooo Blue!

    • Christina
      1 August, 2012 at 22:11

      Ah Henry, we’re totally on the same wave length when it comes to Aotearoa. I need to get your advice on Maori television then – any shows you can recommend? Look forward to reading your travel memories. I have a hunch they might include some kiwi bits as well… 😀

      • 10 August, 2012 at 18:07

        When I stopped over in Auckland (before finally leaving NZ for Sydney), I had some time to relax and take things easy, and I began watching Maori television. If I remember correctly, weekday programming was very straight-forward. Morning hours were directed to elementary language instruction, the early-afternoon hours were for intermediate-level, and the late-afternoon hours were for advanced learners of the language. I was fascinated by the fact that the language and grammar aren’t too bad; I’m not saying it’s easy – all I’m saying is that I don’t have to worry about the differences between “Ich fahre in die Stadt” and “Ich fahre in der Stadt.” 🙂 Then again, as in *any* language, I’m sure there would be some kind of sticking point somewhere. At least, I found Maori words and sentences, respectively, relatively easy to pronounce and say. “Toku Reo” (http://tokureo.maori.nz/index.cfm/1,186,0,43,html) was the program that left the deepest impression with me.

        Ah, whom am I kidding – maybe I should just go and move to New Zealand. 🙂

        • Christina
          13 August, 2012 at 12:43

          I guess I should tune in during the morning then. Thanks for the tip. I’m glad to hear that the Maori language is not quite as difficult as German. I really wouldn’t have the patience for der die das in various cases… just takes too long to say anything right!

  3. 31 July, 2012 at 12:10

    I’ve also celebrated the 4th of July in Washington DC – it’s incredible! Your enthusiasm for New Zealand is catching. I want to go! Thanks so much for nominating me. I’m proud to be a part of Team Blue!

    • Christina
      1 August, 2012 at 22:14

      I know you’d love New Zealand, Laurel. You’re from Canada and if you like BC, NZ will not disappoint. I’ve read your memories – you’ve been to Galapagos? That’s totally on my list. Impressive how far you’ve travelled!

  4. 1 August, 2012 at 15:27

    I knew you’d have something from New Zealand. I probably will as well. I’m proud to be on team BLUE!

    • Christina
      1 August, 2012 at 22:16

      Well yes… I am kind of partial to New Zealand. Really curious about yours as well, and please do include NZ! Would love to read about it!

  5. 13 August, 2012 at 22:50

    Ditto on favorite travel memories being in New Zealand. 🙂 The Forgotten World Highway is on my list of NZ to-do’s. Gotta love the randomness of travel, especially there.

    • Christina
      14 August, 2012 at 19:29

      Yup, I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. Then I checked my guidebook (a very German thing to do, checking a map or guidebook AFTER being there), and it didn’t have anything in there. NZ is great for random discoveries like that, but I have to say the determining factor is the road trip – whenever you cruise around, you stumble upon the most random and most fascinating stuff!

  6. 14 August, 2012 at 20:49

    I miss New Zealand road trips – and visiting Whangamomona would be very cool. Micro nations, such an interesting phenomenon, isn’t it?

  7. 25 August, 2012 at 14:05

    Wow! Stumbling upon a republic unexpectedly is pretty cool. That’s one ‘Independence Day’ worth celebrating. 😉

    • Christina
      7 September, 2012 at 07:00

      Absolutely! Who knows, one day I might be there and celebrate by throwing a gumboot.

  8. 7 September, 2012 at 02:36

    These sound like some pretty amazing memories. We have New Zealand on our bucket list and hope to get there soon!

    • Christina
      7 September, 2012 at 07:01

      Thanks Evan and Tracy. Let me know when you go to NZ!

  9. 16 September, 2012 at 15:35

    New Zealand and Fiji Islands unfortunately remain unticked in my bucket list. I’m planning to backpack in Aus and NZ next year though so I’m certainly hoping it will push through!

    Thanks for inviting me to Team Blue!

    • Christina
      10 November, 2012 at 13:53

      Aleah, so good to have you on Team Blue! And I’m glad tohear you’re going to NZ next year. 😀 Big smiles! When you’re down there, just go to Fiji for a week, it’s so far out of the way from anywhere else, so you might as well!

  10. 8 November, 2012 at 21:48

    Fidji looks amazing…But so it is so long to get there from Europe that I dont know if I’ll go there one day

    • Christina
      10 November, 2012 at 13:54

      Hi Julien! I know it’s far, but maybe do a big trip one year, where you cover NZ in 3 weeks, and Fiji in one. Perfect holiday!

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