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Queenstown. Helicopters. Bucket lists.

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As a curly haired, chubby cheeked 10-year-old I assumed my parents knew and had experienced everything in the whole world. In my mind, they were the coolest for it. It wasn’t until my late teens that I realized my mom and dad might still have their own Bucket Lists, separate from each other.

One of my dad’s bucket list items, from a very young age, was visiting Australia. In 2012 my parents came to Melbourne to visit me for the first time so I like to think I helped my dad cross that one off the list. He’s crossed it out so many times now his poor notebook has probably ripped. Flying in a helicopter was also on the list for him.

While planning our Queenstown trip, people kept telling my mom that we had to do the helicopter flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound. To make a very long (funny-now, frustrating-then) story short: my mom succumbed to peer pressure and signed us up. Hours later she tried to cancel. She fought but tickets were non-refundable. She spent the entire night thinking up terrible excuses. When we got to the launch pad the next day she tried to stay behind, but we forced her into the helicopter.

We flew from Queenstown, through snow-capped mountains, over disturbingly blue lakes and landed on a glacier. We then flew through the fjords of Milford Sound, past jaw dropping waterfalls (and lots of ice falls) and landed on the pristine coastline of the Tasman Sea.

The views were incredible but the best part was watching my dad taking it all in. He does it quietly, with a slight smile that triples in size once he snaps back to reality. What my mom is thinking is never a secret because she shares it immediately:
“This is the best thing ever!”
“How much would a helicopter cost?”
“Can you tell the pilot to stay away from the mountains.”
“I can’t believe I was going to stay back”.

At breakfast the next morning my mom, confident and proud, pronounced the helicopter ride to be “one of her favorite experience of all her life”. My dad smiled in complete agreement.

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Lucerne’s Golden Round Trip You Asked About.

What is the Golden Round Trip I mentioned  in this post but rudely never described?

The Golden Round Trip starts off with a boat ride across Lake Lucerne delivering stunning views. You get off the boat and speed walk to be first in line for the Mount Pilatus Cog Railway. It’s the steepest cog railway in the world, making it the most terrifying.

“Expert” tip: Try to sit in the last row of the car, you will get all view instead of your fellow traveler’s heads. 

After about a 35 minute ride, you’ll find yourself at the top of Mount Pilatus! Mount Pilatus! Can you believe it?  The Swiss Alps will be your neighbors, the clouds your friends, and the birds your enemy. Two minutes into oh-ing and aw-ing of the panoramic views a bird went #2 on my dad’s neck*. It was hilarious, and I’m being honest when I say I hope it also happens to someone you’re with. Not you though, of course.

Everything is triple the money, but you can actually spend the entire day there; they have bars, restaurants, a hotel, a gift shop and more. I enjoyed relaxing on the raggedy lawn chairs and cheering on tired, ecstatic hikers. It was a four-hour hike for the only guy I built up the courage to talk to and he said he never felt so good! It was inspiring.

I was loving life until I realized what the too-full cable cars were for. Fear swept through me again. My mom and I shared a beer and hoped for the best. The view was splendid of course, but I was too busy trying not to pee my pants. My parents though I was lying, since I had been sky diving in New Zealand, but I don’t particularly enjoy slow things. I’m terrified of ferris wheels, roller coasters are an ally. You get it.

The large cable car drops you at a smaller mountain within a few minutes. There you can find lugging, a rope course, and more restaurants. We lugged; I’m not afraid to say I’m a speed machine.  When you decide you’ve had enough, a comfortable four person gondola takes you down the city called Kriens and a bus takes you back to where you started. The bus is where you’ll start reminiscing.

*I chickened out of posting a picture of it.

Lattee Art: The Championship!

My boyfriend thinks I’m addicted to coffee. To let me know he supports my addiction he got me free tickets to the Melbourne International Coffee Exposition through work. And he even came with me.

Held at the Melbourne Show Ground, the coffee expo was everything I though it would be: the pungent aroma, the coffee, coffee vendors, educators, baristas, coffee machines, coffe beans, coffee enthusiast and one opera singer.

Realizing that every single person was some sort of coffee connoisseur, I decided to avoid eye contact with anyone that looked like they would spark up a conversation. I would sneak to the side of the busiest tent and asked for three espressos. Two for me, one for Jack. I was hungover. We had most of our fun eavesdropping on other peoples conversations. While I love a good flat white or macchiato, I know nothing about the details, procedures, or techniques behind any of it. It’s really a whole other world.

Then, out of nowhere, music started blasting, making it hard for us to eavesdrop without being noticed. We did the only thing you do when you hear unexpected music; we followed it. It lead us to one of the most unintentionally exciting competitions we have ever experienced. The Latte Art Championship! I can check that off my bucket list.

I’ve always wanted to know how exactly how they made that flower so perfect, not to mention the fire breathing snake I was once dazzled by. How do those geniuses posing as mere artists do it? It is a swan or a dragon? Maybe two swans looking the opposite way? I don’t know, but I was beyond fascinated.

Each barista had a total of 7 minutes and 45 seconds to make 9 lattes for 3 judges. They had to recreate 3 previously picked out designs. If they mest up, they could re-do the whole lattee, but all the baristas that did went over the time limit. It was as thrilling as it was nerve-racking to watch! There were 2 hand held cameras covering the action, 2 big screen TVs on either of area showing the footage, loud music the baristas would bob their head to, two crappy announcers commenting on every move, the audience clapping and wow-ing at every completed latte, and the judges silently tearing apart every stroke of the art.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think anything like this existed!