Friday, March 25, 2011

Out with the Old and in with the New

Another Friday, another weekend! And of course, another Europe update.

First things first, I have sold my car! A little earlier than anticipated, but it's gone now so it's too late to change my mind. The bike has had a few issues lately and those issues have been costly, so we really needed a bit of extra income. My car isn't anything flash so I put a sign on it and figured that since I only really use it for groceries once a week and we live in a dead-end street, it would take while to sell.

Not so! Within a couple of days we had two offers, both from people that live on our street. This is where we learn a lesson in how to get what you want - try being a nice person. Simple right? Offer One came from three gentlemen who were poking at the car as it sat outside my house. I was on my way out and only happened to cross paths with them but I let them have a look. I popped the bonnet for them and they promptly started twisting and turning things before letting themselves into the car as I stood talking to Courtney and driving it back and forwards. Not a huge deal, but wouldn't you ask first?

The offered $800 and despite us saying several times, more and more sternly with each breath, that we couldn't go below $900, they ended up walking away saying they would take the car and bring us $800 on Monday. They blatantly ignored us, speaking in their own language to each other, and tried to bully us into the lower price.

Offer Two came the next day from a really lovely family whose own car had just died on them the day before. They were polite, built rapport by joking with us and chatting, asked permission before doing anything to the car, and went out of their way to get the money for us as quickly as possible. Despite telling the first group we wouldn't go below $900, I happily sold it to these people for $850, because they were nice to me. It's not that difficult people!

In the end, I'm very happy. I had budgeted a minimum of $800 from the car to take to Europe, and with precision timing, Natalie's new car is coming home with us from a weekend away in Napier this weekend so we won't be stranded with the groceries!

The other big news is that all the accommodation for Europe is sorted! This is a huge milestone for me as the last few places had proven to be quite the headache to arrange. In the end, everything fell into place. Not all places take bookings in advance, but we have emails from each stating as such, and I will print them out to take along just in case.

I really don't want to plan out every day or anything like that - the element of adventure and exploring is the best bit! But travelling in high-season means many places will book out, so we have tried to book our accommodation in areas central to multiple towns, and for a minimum of a week unless we're en route. Hopefully this means we can still explore and enjoy the attraction of the unplanned unknown, but from the safety and security of a home base.

The only other exciting news I have is that I have upgraded from an old Nokia brick phone that couldn't do anything but call and text to an HTC Desire smartphone. It's like jumping and ending up on the moon, it's so different! Despite our tight budget, we realised that a smartphone would be far handier in Europe than what we had and by selling my old phone, iPod Touch and Navman on Trade Me, it hasn't really cost us anything to upgrade. Not only does the HTC do everything those three things did, but it does more. It's ultimately a much better choice.

For now, we are off to Napier to visit Courtney and Natalie's family. I've only been once before but I loved it! Beautiful weather, open spaces, quiet roads. I came back feeling so relaxed and refreshed. If you ever come to New Zealand, don't go past it. Check out the #blog4NZ posts that have cropped up all over the web this week. Bloggers the world over have written about their experiences with our beautiful country in an effort to mend our reputation after the devastating Christchurch earthquake. I was a little late out of the gate and I feel bad for that, but I can still encourage you all to read up - some of the posts have even inspired me, a born and bred kiwi, to see more of this country I call home. Search Blog4NZ on the web or #blog4nz on Twitter.