We could feel the buzz around us in the streets today. People were decked out in their team colors, beers were being served instead of coffee and they had a huge area closed off for pedestrians with a focus on rugby. Today is game day baby…Rugby World Cup 2011.
We grabbed a coffee and walked along Queen street which is the main street downtown. Since it is an evening game, it will be cold so we were shopping for some kind of world cup hoodie. We found an old pub along the way and ordered some breakfast. And since everyone else had a pint of beer in front of them…we wanted to fit in so ordered one as well. It was fun people watching today, the Scottish were in their full kilts, there were plenty of face painters and people wearing either the England or Scotland flag around their shoulders like a cape.
After lunch, we made our way down to the pedestrian only area where the world cup games were being played on big screens and huge blow up tents in the shape of a rugby ball held all kinds of world cup souvenirs for sale. I found a cute New Zealand, aka “all blacks” hat and Giff found an “all blacks” fleece. We took pictures and ordered a beer at the Heineken bar as we walked between the crowd of fans.
One of the other huge bar tents had not only the game, and tons of rugby shirts strung above our heads…but an area called, “taste of the cloud” in the back. It was set up to give tourists a taste of various types of food from the different regions of New Zealand. They also paired local beers and wines. Food and wine tasting? You don’t have to ask us twice, we bought a couple of tickets and began our food tour.
There were 4 main regions set up with their own menu…seaside menu, urban menu, winery/orchard menu and the rural menu. Each menu had 4 different gourmet items to choose from. We went around picking both a food item and drink from each of the menus…they would then hole-punch our ticket, and we would move onto the next menu. The food was so delicious! We could have easily spent a half a day tasting every single thing…it was not a game day type menu, more like a fancy restaurant with top quality ingredients.
After our surprisingly tasty lunch…we realized it was time to get to the stadium for the Scotland vs England game. This should be a great game, these 2 countries have a long history and one of the biggest rivalries in Europe. We asked how to get to the stadium and we were told to follow the official “fan trail”.
As we followed the crowds, we saw the signs…they had little green footsteps and said, fan trail. As we walked the trail, there were many bars to stop and quench our thirst, as well as other things like an outdoor art exhibit to walk through. We had a great time laughing with other fans and slowly building our excitement to see the big game!
Once we arrived at the stadium there were all kinds of activities going on…people on stilts, local tribal dancing, tons of people taking pictures and vendors selling food. We walked all the way around the stadium and into our gate. Once inside the stadium, we went looking for food and beer. The beer was sold differently here vs. a typical sports game in the US. Instead of buying a draft beer, they had refrigerated shelves stocked with 4 pack cans of Heineken. We bought a pack and some food which not only included the typical burger and hotdog but the more popular fish ‘n’ chips.
Our seats were up very high and towards the middle which actually gave us a good view of the whole field. We were however surrounded by English fans but we were rooting for Scotland. Everyone was friendly and playful and although it was cold and raining (our section had a roof thankfully) the game was a really good one. We all thought for a moment that Scotland could actually win, but they let it slip away towards the end of the game. It was kind of entertaining to watch the English hold their breath as their kicker continued to miss his points. They however had a great time teasing us as the game was coming to a close and they were clearly going to win…but it was a close game at 16-12.
After the game, we walked a very long time in the wrong direction and then realized we were going the wrong way so turned around. It took over an hour of walking when we finally arrived at our hotel. It was a long fun day but we were tired. We watched a bit of TV and dosed off.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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