Andreas and Whitney

Joined January 2017
  • Day303

    Mendoza, Argentina

    March 12 in Argentina

    We are engaged!!! Mendoza is famous for its beautiful vineyards and wine tasting! Andreas and I rented bicycles and planned on a day of riding from vineyard to vineyard. We went with a group of people from our hostel.

    To the good stuff, how he popped the question! At the second winery (MEVI Bodega Boutique) after a delicious tasting, Andreas suggested we go on a walk through the grapevines. Another girl in our group said “let’s all go,” but Andreas said no, let’s go just us. I thought that was a little strange, but agreed. As we were walking down the steps Andreas was acting a bit odd and I thought this is it! Because I am a crazy person, I immediately did a sneaky check of both of his front pockets for a ring box bulge. I didn’t see one so I thought okay, it’s not happening, enjoy the walk. As we were walking through the vines and I was busy commenting on grapes, Andreas said “Whitney...” I turned around and there he was... on one knee in the dirt holding out a ring. My jaw immediately dropped. He said “... I forgot what I was going to say... I love you! Will you marry me?” Obviously I said “YES!!!” Andreas knows I am super observant, so he hid the ring in his back pocket! We went back inside the winery and everyone was cheering for us! The owner gave us two glasses of very special wine to celebrate! We ended up buying two bottles, one to drink now and one to mail home (great sales tactic). We were on cloud nine for the rest of the day!

    I asked Andreas how he pulled this off without me knowing because we are literally together 24/7. He said “remember that time in Luxembourg when I went for a run?” Monica actually left work and picked him up and took him ring shopping. They didn’t find one, but he got an idea of what he wanted. Then, he had to go to the bank with his uncle and I couldn’t go because I wasn’t family... nope, ring shopping, but no luck there either. Then, we were at the airport in Zurich, and I couldn’t walk very far because of my knee, and he went to go “exchange money”... this is when he found the ring! Andreas said this ring is my ‘travel ring,’ and a bigger one is to come. However, I love this one! Our entire time in South America, the ring box has been hiding in a sock, in his bag. Sneaky boy!

    If traveling has taught us one thing, it is that Andreas and I can get through anything together and we have a ton of fun doing it! I didn’t think it was possible, but our bond and love for each other is so much stronger now than when we left (aside from the occasional argument when we are hungry, hot, and tired). He proves time and time again what a loving, strong, intelligent, funny, and beautiful person he is. I am so overjoyed that we get to spend our lives together. I am honored to be his FIANCÉ!
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  • Day301

    Bariloche, Argentina

    March 10 in Argentina

    Bariloche is a beautiful little adventure town in the north of Argentina's Patagonia region. It sits next to a glacial lake surrounded by the Andes. Just out of town is the well-known Chico circuit - a 22km road threading its way between lakes and mountains. We hired scooters and biked around this circuit with friends we met at our hostel. The circuit is unbelievably picturesque and we all had a refreshing dip in the lake.

    The town of Bariloche was abuzz with athletes due to an Ironman event happening during the weekend. Totally unexpectedly, I ran into an old Argentinean friend named Luca who was in town to compete in this event. Luca went to my high school in New Zealand in 2007 as part of an exchange programme and we hadn't seen each other since. It was great to catch up with him over a drink (me beer and he lemonade)... such a small world!
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  • Day298

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    March 7 in Argentina

    Buenos Aires is a vibrant, huge city that reminds me a lot of New York. We started traveling with a friend we met from New Zealand who is traveling the world in search of the ultimate party. Per his recommendation we stayed at the ‘best party hostel in Argentina,’ Milhouse. We explored the city by day and tried to keep up with the partiers at night, but failed miserably. In Argentina people do not go to the clubs before 3:00 am!! This is way past Andreas and my bedtime. We did manage to hang in there until 1-2am. However, I didn’t mind when we saw people coming HOME from the club while we were eating breakfast at 9am!!!

    We had a great night at a tango show. It included a three course meal, unlimited wine, tango lessons, and a spectacular tango show. The costumes, music, and dancing blew us both away. We even got certificates to show that we passed a basic tango course... if you are lucky we will show you our new skills. Another day we went on a bike tour of the city and the famously colorful La Boca area. It is clear that football (soccer) is life here. We met one fan who is so dedicated to his team that he had the La Boca stadium tattooed on his back. We experienced this passion first hand at a football game! Getting into the game was an experience in itself. We walked through multiple security checks and passed rows and rows of police in full riot gear. Once in the game we sat behind chain linked fence topped with barb wire. Alcohol is also banned in the stadium. Obviously these games get pretty out of control. The game was fun and full of spirit (we tied 1:1). Fans even climbed the fence and shook the barb wire to show their support!

    On a side note, we had an attempted break in of our hostel locker. The lock was very bent, but it held. Luckily nothing was taken. A reminder that we need to be diligent of theft in South America. Next stop we head south to the top of Patagonia, Bariloche.
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  • Day293

    Florianopolis, Brazil

    March 2 in Brazil

    Florianopolis is home to beautiful white sand beaches and wild waves. Andreas and I spent our time lounging on these beaches. One secluded area was a nude beach! Although it was mainly old men. Andreas also watched soccer in a local bar with our English friends, Sean and Ben. We discovered that it is much more expensive to eat out in South America compared with Asia. We have started getting most of our meals from the grocery store and cooking in the hostel kitchen. This also means more picnics on park benches! Next stop, an 18 hour bus ride to Iguazu Falls.Read more

  • Day292

    Iguazu falls, running along the Brazil/Argentina border, is amazing. It is the largest waterfall system in the world with between 150 and 300 waterfalls flowing at any one time. The falls span 2.7km (1.7mi) with an average flow rate of almost 1800 cubic metres per second! Whit and I visited both sides of the falls. I was more impressed by the Brazilian side because you got the full panorama of the falls. Whit preferred the Argentinian side as you got to stand on the walkways above them. Either way, the experience was spectacular and a must-do on any South American excursion.Read more

  • Day286

    Paraty, Brazil

    February 23 in Brazil

    Paraty is a beautiful historic town situated on the Brazilian coast about half-way between Rio and Sao Paulo. Crazily, because the town is so low-lying and built next to the ocean, during the full moon and a high tide sections of it flood up to ten inches. As a result, the beautiful Portuguese buildings closest to the shore have about a foot of concrete foundation raising them off of the ground. The streets have the largest and most uneven cobble-stones Whit and I have ever seen. Driving over them shakes your bones!

    The region around Paraty produces high quality sugar cane. Consequently, it is renown throughout Brazil for its cachaça production - the key alcoholic ingredient in the delicious Brazilian caipirinha cocktail. Of course Whit and I spent some of our time in Paraty taste testing the various forms and qualities of cachaça. Through local recommendation, we even had the best regional caipirinha and it was delicious!
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  • Day284

    Ilha Grande, Brazil

    February 21 in Brazil

    After vibrant Rio, we slowed things down and headed to the island of Ilha Grande. The main island activities are hiking and beaches. As my knee is still not up to strenuous activity, I sent Andreas on a two hour jungle hike with some friends from our hostel, while I took a scenic boat ride. We arrived around the same time at the beautiful white sand beach of Lopez Mendez. It is said that this is the best beach in Brazil (Andreas and I thought it was great, but not in our top 5). The water is colder here than in South East Asia, but it feels great on a hot day. We spent time swimming in the clear water and relaxing in the shade of the jungle. Next stop, the sleepy beach town of Paraty.Read more

  • Day282

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    February 19 in Brazil

    After a flight change and 12 extra hours at the airport we finally made it to South America! We were both pleasantly surprised by Rio De Janeiro despite the warnings from friends about its high crime rate. We found Rio to be a vibrant, fun, and relatively safe city (at least in the areas we visited).

    Our time in Rio was largely spent lounging on Copacabana beach and Impanema beach absorbing the relaxed culture of the Brazilians. One day we took the gondolla up Sugar Loaf mountain to see the beautiful views of the city. Another day we partook in a Carnival blocos party, following a large float blasting samba music through the city streets as we danced with 200,000 other revellers. This bloco party was considered small compared to some which host up to 1.5 million partiers... insane! Despite making our way to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city, poor weather put a stop to this adventure. We will be happy to come back and see it another time.Read more

  • Day278

    Porto, Portugal

    February 15 in Portugal

    Through an airline deal, Andreas and I had the opportunity to stop in Portugal for 4 days at no extra charge. We jumped on the deal... one of the benefits of not having a rigid schedule. We picked the colorful port town of Porto. Once at the airport, we had another great surprise; I heard they overbooked the flight on the loud speaker and were offering money to take a later flight. Because I am currently moving slower, I told Andreas to run!! We got in first and were given a total of $1,400 NZD ($1,035USD) to watch the olympics in the airport for four hours. Score!
    Unfortunately it was raining most of our stay in Porto, however we still enjoyed wandering the gorgeous city. We rode a trolley along the coast one day and watched stormy waves bash into a lighthouse. We were very impressed with Portuguese food; slow cooked pork, soft cheeses, grilled fish, bottomless liters of wine. Andreas took me out to a nice tapas dinner for Valentine’s Day. Portugal is definitely on our list of places to return to.
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  • Day275

    Solothurn, Switzerland

    February 12 in Switzerland

    Before leaving Switzerland and starting our journey to South America, Whit and I returned to Aarau to stay with my uncle Tom and his partner Pia. While we were in Aarau, there was an annual week-long festival taking place in Solothurn, the closest city to my mum's childhood home. The premise of this festival is to scare the winter spirits away and obviously, we had to get in on the action.

    To start the celebratory week off, we awoke at 3am, adorned our white robes, white hats, and red scarves, and made our way to Solothurn to participate in Cheslette which started at 5am. Here, over one thousand people all dressed in the same attire, made as much noise as possible, banging pot lids, shaking tin cans filled with stones, and cracking large whips in the air, while parading the city streets. The cacophony is seriously alarming and if I were a winter spirit, I'd probably bugger off too. After completing the parade route, everyone settles down to eat a traditional flour soup before bar hopping and getting progressively more intoxicated. The morning ends at lunch time and most sane revelers head to bed before the evening events kick off (some people clearly didn't get this message and trooped on all day).

    About three days after Cheslette, Tom, Whit, and I braved the bleak Swiss weather and returned to Solothurn to watch the carnival parade. There were about 40 themed groups marching the city. Some of the floats created for the festival were seriously impressive. Most floats had confetti guns and often some poor unexpecting bystander would get a face full of paper to improve their mood. It was clear to me and Whit that the Swiss people take their traditions very seriously and if you ever have a chance to participate in such an event you won't be disappointed!
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  • Day270

    Schmitten, Switzerland

    February 7 in Switzerland

    Whit and I stayed for about a week in Schmitten, Switzerland with my aunt Fran (we went to Verbier for the weekend). Our highlight during this stay was hiking in the alps near to a holiday house that my mum's family stayed when they were young. Fran brought along cervala sausages for lunch and we made a fire in the snow to roast them. It was a quintessential Swiss experience.

    Our other activities this week included hosting a dinner party for some old friends of my parents, eating delicious meals prepared by either Fran or Susan (Fran' s partner), and playing SkipBo (a fun card game).

    Exciting family news: We welcomed our neice into the world! Gracyn Elizabeth Gresham born Feb 6, 2018, 8lbs 13oz.
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  • Day266

    Verbier, Switzerland

    February 3 in Switzerland

    Friends we made in Vietnam, Eddy and Inga, work at the famous Swiss ski resort, Verbier. The invited us to come stay in the lodging above the bar they are working at so we jumped at the offer. Our Australian friend Adam is working in England so he joined us for a weekend of snowboarding and fun. When we arrived, Andreas and I were both blown away by the quaint beauty of this snowy village among the Swiss alps. The first night we went out to ‘Apre Ski,’ basically drinks after a hard day of skiing. We danced the night away to a band in a packed bar and were glad to have our snow jackets as the done thing is to spray your beer over the crowd (no idea why).

    We woke up to a snow storm so we decided to go sledding. Now this isn’t ordinary sledding. You take the gondola up and sled down a 40 min run similar to a ski slope. It gets wild! This is unfortunately why I had my accident and hurt my knee. However, I think it was worth it because the run before I injured myself I told Andreas “my happiness levels are maxed out!” On the positive, I got to ride down in a medic toboggan and on a snow mobile. Diagnosis: partially torn MCL, stretched ACL, and bruised bone. I have to wear a hinged brace for a while and then it should be ok.

    Andreas, Adam, and Eddy went up snowboarding the next two days. I was jealous as it was blue bird skies with perfect powder. Needless to say, they had an awesome time. I still rode the gondola all the way to the top, drank hot chocolate, and threw a few snowballs. Verbier kicked my butt physically but it was still a weekend we will always remember. We will be back for you Verbier!!
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