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Month: March 2018

Out and About in Christchurch, New Zealand

Out and About in Christchurch, New Zealand

When I first started researching our trip to New Zealand I quickly realized that one week was nowhere near enough time to see it all. New Zealand is made up of a north and south island and even though they look tiny on a map don’t be fooled! You can drive for hours. Our flight from Sydney, Australia took us to Christchurch where we stayed in a lovely Bed & Breakfast. We stayed a week and explored the area all around the South Island. Christchurch really reminded me of Florida, if you’ve ever been you’ll know what I mean. The houses are built close together on tight-knit city blocks. The one thing we noticed that is different from neighborhoods at home in the U.S. is that most houses have a tall fence all around the property, especially along the street side.  

Surprisingly enough, we did not find a lot of hotel options. Christchurch has more motel options and since we were unfamiliar with the area we opted for a lovely Bed & Breakfast that had great reviews and a homey feel since we were staying for a week. We stayed at The Lilac Rose right in the heart of Christchurch and had the most comfortable stay. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the resident Golden Retriever, Maddie. She is the sweetest dog, so calm and pleasant. The owners, Pam and Denis, were most accommodating. Pam made sure that we had everything we needed for a comfortable stay and Denis cooked up a hot breakfast every morning! I would highly recommend staying at The Lilac Rose over a motel any day. Here are some pictures from the lovely B&B, be sure to click through the slideshow:

One of the attractions in Christchurch that you don’t want to miss is the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. There is no fee to enter the gardens and there is so much to see. We were there at the beginning of spring so the gardens were not in full bloom but we were still pleasantly surprised. The Central Rose Garden is absolutely stunning with the arched entryway and the many varietals of roses. One can’t help but stop and smell the roses! There are multiple conservatories, a paddling pool and nice walking paths. Visiting the Botanic Gardens was definitely a highlight of Christchurch.

A lovely day trip is just a short drive away to a small seaside town called Akaroa. This little town is a historic French and British settlement with quaint shops, restaurants and inns. We spent the day here and took an engaging harbor nature cruise with Black Cat Cruises. We were taken on a  delightful tour of the harbor and the captain made sure that we saw plenty of wildlife. The crew were very knowledgeable of the area and knew exactly where to look to find dolphins, sea lions and even White Flippered Blue Penguins, the smallest penguins in the world!

I must mention that on our drive to Akaroa from Christchurch, we stopped at a charming roadside stand for a traditional New Zealand meat pie. This savory hand-held pie is a staple in New Zealand. The one in the picture had chicken, brie and cranberries baked inside of a flaky crust. This was a delicious lunch!

It would be lovely to go back to Akaroa someday and stay for awhile in this little village tucked away from the rest of the world.

Maple Syrup in New England

Maple Syrup in New England

Traveling to faraway places is always on my radar but I also love being a tourist in my own town. I’m keeping this blog post close to home…Mason, New Hampshire, to be exact! The end of February into March is usually when the sap starts flowing from the maple trees and the sugar house’s get busy making that dark, delectable liquid we love to drizzle (or drown) our waffles and pancakes in. Having never been to a sugar house I was very excited to find out that we were not too far away from several. We decided to go visit Parker’s Maple Barn and we were not disappointed!

If you plan on eating at the restaurant on a weekend during peak season I suggest putting your name in at the hostess stand as soon as you get there. We waited for over an hour for a table for two. The smell in the air from the vats of steaming liquid in the sugar house is enough to make your stomach grumble in anticipation of a fat stack once you get to your table. But, there is plenty to do while you wait. We went on a tour of the sugar house and got to see exactly how they make the maple syrup at the farm.  Our guide took us step-by-step through the syrup making process that has been going on at Parker’s since the 1960’s. They still use the old-fashioned method of sap buckets and wood-fired evaporators. 

 

After the tour you can enjoy a nice hot cup of maple flavored coffee or hot cocoa from the little coffeehouse alongside a maple covered donut. Yes, you are in for a sugar shock at Parker’s Maple Barn! They also have an eclectic gift shop onsite that is warm and inviting with a cozy front porch and many intriguing items inside to occupy your time while you wait to hear your name called in the restaurant. We were even lucky enough to run into some friends while we were walking around!

 

I did not take pictures of inside the restaurant but I will say that the food was delicious and abundant. My husband ordered the Parker’s Barn Special which included two eggs, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage, choice of French toast or pancakes, hash browns and toast! I had a pancake and their original ham hash (so good). Needless to say, we did not leave hungry! The trip to Parker’s Maple Barn is definitely worth the drive and the wait!