After check out and breakfast we packed our things in the car and drove about 3 hours to one of New Zealand’s famous wine country areas…Hawke’s Bay. The drive was beautiful through the green hills but we had imagined New Zealand looking more like Lord of the Rings…which we weren’t seeing yet. We realized we were entering wine country once we started seeing grape-vines and the first winery, Esk Valley. We pulled in and did some wine tasting. Since we love wine so much and have now learned about and tasted it from so many regions around the world, we were excited to venture into New Zealand wine. The wines were definitely cooler climate wines…lighter for reds and a bit spicy, but we enjoyed talking to the staff about their various types. We bought one bottle and continued our drive to get checked into our B&B.
As we pulled up to the B&B, Manor on Parade (www.manoronparadenapier.co.nz)…we saw it was across from the ocean and within a 10 minute walk to the center of the village. The owner was not overly friendly but rather short and to the point. She showed us to our room which had a nice sized balcony and private bathroom. We settled in and then took a walk to go see the town of Napier.
Town seemed quaint with many boutiques and restaurants lining the streets. One of the areas was pedestrian zone only where shoppers could walk around freely without worrying about cars. We found a little cafe on the corner and sat for some lunch. We ordered a couple of teapots of herbal tea and a super healthy salad full of sprouts and raw veggies. After lunch, we continued walking around although many shops were closing down for the day since it was about 5PM. At the end of the street was a huge building called, the wine center. It was practically calling our name… We walked inside and the first room had a film playing about wine making and the various regions in New Zealand. It also had some historical wine props and more informative fun facts on the process. After reading a bit in that room, we continued onto the main room down the hall. The man behind the counter welcomed us and we chatted with him a bit about our wine experience and interests etc. He pulled a wine map out and circled some places he thought would be appealing to us. He also set us up with a wine tasting of about 7 wines. He gave us paper and pencil and we wrote down our tasting notes and ratings as we tasted each glass. Once we finished, we bought a bottle we hadn’t tasted from a different wine maker and left to find dinner.
Most things were closed but we found a Chinese take-out place…the couple walking out said it was great so, we tried it. We ordered several different dishes, took it back to our room and watched a scary movie with the lights off. For those of you wondering, Insidious was the movie…it is freaky…
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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