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A Corner Of The World Filled With Supernatural Beauty

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    On May 24, 2014, my fiancé, Andy, and I got married in New York City. A week later, we hopped on a plane with two carry-on suitcases and two one-way tickets to Paris. We had just pressed pause on our careers, sublet our apartment, and moved all of our things into storage. The only plan was to have no plans at all — and we ended up traveling for 394 days through 25 countries, stopping in nearly 100 destinations. Over the next few weeks, come along on this crazy journey to learn more about how we did it — packing, plotting, budgeting — and see some of the tens of thousands of photos we took along the way.

    By the time we made it to Japan, we had a serious route strategy to contemplate. We were getting as far east as you can go (before you’re back in America), but we still had Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on our wish list, and a strategy of getting north before winter took us from Nepal to China to South Korea to Japan (skipping over the countries of southeast Asia). How could we see everything we wanted and still hit South America on our way home? We decided to head southeast to Australia and New Zealand, then fly back to Southeast Asia, and finally depart Vietnam for Brazil — a 38-hour, three-leg flight. Ouch. That part hurt. I’m not going to recommend it. But at this point, all of our decisions were being dictated by the cheapest route.

    So, on to Australia and New Zealand we went. After nearly three months of being in Asia, the cultural familiarity of Australia was actually a shock to the system. We landed in Melbourne and suddenly felt like we had been transported to a cool, Californian city. We found ourselves eating cheeseburgers, watching surfers, and driving cars on the wrong side of the road. It was tempting to try and cover some serious ground in Australia, but that’s like trying to see all of America in a couple of weeks. So we focused on the southeastern corner and visited Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road coastline, the island of Tasmania, and Sydney before flying to New Zealand.

    When I think of New Zealand, shocking natural beauty is the first thing that comes to mind. And color! For some reason, everything looked brighter, more saturated, and more brilliant; we felt like we needed to get our eyeballs calibrated. We did a two-and-a-half week road trip through both the north and south islands. Ask anyone who’s been to New Zealand, and they’ll tell you that’s a bit...aggressive. (I would recommend about that much time for just one island.) The nature was so spectacular, so diverse, so pure, we couldn’t believe that every inch of it wasn’t crawling with tourists. You had to remind yourself that you were floating in the middle of nowhere on a little island country of just four million people. In that way, New Zealand feels private and protected — an unspoiled, supernatural universe.


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  2. Photo: Courtesy of Kate Titus.

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    The gates to the Luna Park in the St. Kilda neighborhood of Melbourne. The historic amusement park has been in near continuous operation since its opening in 1912.

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    A canopy of crisscrossing tram cables drapes the neighborhood streets. Melbourne has an impressive and quite charming tram network.

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    As if coming from Tokyo to Melbourne wasn’t enough of a head flip, we arrived in Australia a few days before Christmas. To distract ourselves from homesickness, I tried to bring the holiday spirit to our Airbnb rental by picking up cheap Christmas decorations and baking cookies. We spent a 75-degree Christmas day on the beach in dollar store Santa hats — a far cry from the frigid Midwestern holidays we are used to.

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    We traded carolers for kite surfers that Christmas.

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    After a few days in Melbourne, we rented a car and set out on a three day roadtrip along the southeastern coast of Australia known as the Great Ocean Road. I would liken the views to Big Sur in California, if you added dairy farms, pockets of rainforest, and millions of sheep. (No really, gazillions. Both Australia and New Zealand have more sheep than people.) This was our first foray into driving on the other of the road, so it was a bit a daunting. But after the first 15 minutes of struggling out of the parking lot and cautiously merging into actual traffic, we were solid. Well, Andy was. He drove, and in my blind panic I just shouted the opposite of everything he should actually be doing.