Honeymooning on Oahu

I am currently enjoying my last week off before I start my new job –I am so ready to start working again. The past two weeks, since I found out I got the job, have been dragging on and on. Before, searching for a job, applications and job interviews kept me busy for at least part of the day but now I have way too much time on my hands and there is only so much daytime television one person can cope with.

So, time to recap our short stay on Oahu during our honeymoon in February. It’s already been two months – hard to believe! We spent three days in Waikiki before we flew to Maui for a week. Waikiki felt completely different from Maui – this entire part of Honolulu is filled with high-rise hotels and so. many. tourists. We also didn’t have a hire car while we were on Oahu, so we weren’t able to venture out too far.

It was amazing to see the beautiful nature Oahu offers and we really enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine there. After spending two days trying to see as much as we could of San Francisco, we really enjoyed slowing down a little and taking it easy while we were in Waikiki. I wish we had had more time to see a bit more of the island but it was a lovely three days.

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On our last day there, we took a trolley tour that took us along the south coast of Oahu and we saw some stunning places such as Hanauma Bay and Halona Blowhole where we saw whales for the first time.

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We also went on a trolley tour of Honolulu and visited the Diamond Head State Monument although we did not hike up to the top.

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We managed to catch a free torch lighting and hula ceremony while we were in Waikiki and saw fireworks on the beach on our last night.

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My third UKiversary & a new job

After we came back from our honeymoon, I threw myself back into my job hunt. Over the next month, I had a few interviews, even made it to the second stage at one company, but the 3-month mark of being unemployed came and went and I felt like I was still no closer to a job. I must admit I was getting a little frustrated and tired of searching for a job and most of all of the uncertainty of the situation. I hated not knowing how much longer it would be. I had been so sure that I would find a job again quickly – if not before the honeymoon at least soon after we returned.

Yes, I was getting interviews, which was fantastic, but in the end, it means nothing if the interviews don’t lead to a job offer. And then one did.

I am so happy to share that my job search was finally successful. It took longer than I had hoped – but I think the wait may have been worth it. It’s an excellent step up in terms of career and the conditions are a lot better than at my last job. I finally feel like I am not compromising on anything.

Well, maybe one thing: the commute is a lot further (30 miles) and I will be driving instead of taking the bus, but the good thing is that I will probably not be spending more time on commuting than I would if I commuted to the city centre on the bus. Our new car is also extremely economical, ideal for commuting. So not much of a compromise.

So I will be starting working again soon – exactly four months after I left my last job – and I can’t wait.

This past weekend, N. was off work on Friday and Monday for Easter. We didn’t do anything special but it was nice to have a long weekend off together. On Sunday was my third anniversary of living in the UK. I am so glad that even though my fourth year started with me still being unemployed, I now know that this will change very, very soon. My situation of being without a job is so much easier to handle knowing that it will change so soon.

Honeymooning on beautiful Maui

During our honeymoon, we spent one week on Maui. It was an absolutely amazing week – as you will be able to see from the pictures in this post. Speaking of, there will be loads of pictures in this post. So, you have been warned.

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We loved the hotel we stayed at, we had an amazing view from our room and we had a great time exploring the island and what it has to offer. We hired a car for the duration of our stay which I can absolutely recommend if you are going there. Nothing is very far away and driving was very easy there.

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Some of our most memorable experiences from our stay on Maui:

We went whale watching and saw whales really up-close. We saw a whale and a baby whale go underneath the boat we were on and come up on the other side right in front of us!

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We went up Haleakala and watched the sunrise from Maui’s highest summit, then we cycled (freewheeled) down from the top all the way to sea-level. This was something N. really wanted to do. I was a little worried about how I would do cycling down the mountain but it turned out to be absolutely fine and we had the most amazing view of the sunrise.

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We drove the Road to Hana. The Road to Hana was one of the things I definitely wanted to do while we were on Maui, I just wasn’t 100% sure whether I wanted to drive us or take a tour instead. We decided to drive ourselves and it was absolutely fantastic. Truth to be told, we probably did miss out on some must-see places along the way, but it was a great day and we saw lots of amazing places such as the Garden of Eden, a botanical garden – and it was great to be able to stop wherever and whenever we wanted.

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The day before we left, we decided on a whim to visit Iao Valley, the wettest place on the island and I cannot believe we almost didn’t go. It was the most beautiful rain forest. It rained for the entire time we were there – amazing how different the weather was from the rest of the island. We saw a couple of beautiful rainbows while we were there too.

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On our last day, we decided to drive up to the northern tip of the island and see the Nakalele Blowhole. More windy roads but a view that was absolutely worth it. Again we were amazed by how different the landscape was compared to south Maui, where we were staying.

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We also saw many beautiful sunsets, stunning beaches, breathtaking landscapes and admired the many shades of blue of the Pacific. Maui was our favourite part of our honeymoon and we both really want to go back some day. The landscape is so incredibly diverse and there are so many different micro-climates, it is hard to believe it is all the same, small island.

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On driving on Maui

We just came back from our honeymoon a few days ago. It was absolutely amazing. We spent three days in San Francisco followed by three days in Waikiki and seven days on Maui. On the way back to the UK, we also spent one day in NYC. I am planning to write about our honeymoon in more detail soon – I am still going through the 4000+ pictures I took. But today, I want to write about my experience with driving on Maui.

As you may remember, it’s only been a year since I started driving again. I got my driving license when I was 18 but never drove very much. The most driving I did was actually for a couple of weeks at the beginning of my one-year stay in the US in 2004. After returning to Germany in 2005, I can remember driving my parents’ car once or twice but that’s it. Nearly 10 years passed before I started driving again – in the UK last year after we got my MIL’s old car last February. Since then I have been driving fairly regularly, although it’s only been recently that I’ve been driving a lot more without N. in the car with me and I still haven’t really driven any further away or on busy motorways (I haven’t had to but I am also not that keen to be honest).

N. has been taking driving lessons for a few months now, although not many since Christmas, with us going away to Germany and on our honeymoon and with me losing my job (driving lessons aren’t cheap). He will be taking his test soon but he doesn’t have his full license yet, which meant that I was the driver when we were on our honeymoon.

We hired a car for the week we spent on Maui and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had driven in the States before but it has been over 10 years and it has also been that long since I had to drive on the right-hand side of the road. Of course, having learned to drive in Germany, driving on the right-hand side of the road should be normal to me but since I picked up driving again last year, the only place I had driven was the UK. As a result, I was a bit nervous about driving on Maui.

It turns out, there was no reason to be. As weird as it sounds, driving on the right-hand side of the road felt almost as natural as driving on the left-hand side of the road in the UK does. I also drove us home from the airport in Edinburgh, and again didn’t really need any time to adjust to driving on the left side again. (It took me longer to adjust to driving a stick shift again!)

We picked up our car at the airport and drove ourselves to the resort we were staying at. Random: the woman serving us at the car hire centre at Kahului Airport was German too!

Driving on Maui was actually quite a good experience. The roads there are wider than in the UK and the speed limits are much lower (mostly 45mph max.) on roads that would be national speed limit (60mph) or even 70mph in the UK. It actually took quite a bit of concentration not to speed (especially as it seems everyone does!).

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Our hire car on Maui

It was also different because our hire car was an automatic while I am used to driving a manual (stick shift) car. I remember enjoying driving an automatic when I previously was in the US but this time? Not so much. I found it incredibly frustrating not to be able to control my speed using gears. Driving downhill, I had to brake non-stop to keep the car from speeding up uncontrollably – I realise that that is probably what you are supposed to do when driving an automatic, but when you are used to driving a stick shift, your speed is also limited by the gear your car is in, you just feel more in control of the car and speed. And anytime I started the car, it seemed to take ages to get up to speed (although this may have also been due to the particular car model we had). I never expected to say this but I think I prefer driving a manual transmission car.

The only place the automatic came in really handy was the Road to Hana, it was much easier driving an automatic along this windy road, not having to worry about shifting gears myself. We decided to do the drive to Hana ourselves, although I was a little worried given that I am not the most experienced driver and it is supposed to be a tricky drive with hundreds of curves and lost of one-way bridges. I nearly chickened out of it the day before we went but then decided to drive it after all. It turned out to be absolutely fine. I was actually surprised by the great condition of the road (lots of country roads in Scotland are scarier), with lane markings easily visible (also not always the case in Scotland). It wasn’t too busy and we managed all the one-way bits just fine. Yes, you have to be focused at all times to make sure you don’t drive off the road and stay in your lane on this very windy road but all in all, it is not too bad a drive as it is a proper, tarmac road at all times and you slow down going around the curves anyway. On the way back, we were in a bit of a rush, as we didn’t leave Hana until 4:50 PM, giving us 1.5 hours until sunset, but we made it back just in time – we just didn’t do any stops. I was not particularly keen on having to drive the road in the dark and luckily we made it back before it was dark.

In hindsight, I am really glad we drove the Road to Hana ourselves as it gave me a bit of confidence about my driving skills as well – I really don’t think I fared any worse than most drivers there, even locals (especially on the way back, ahem).

All in all, I really enjoyed driving on Maui. Once I got the hang of controlling my speed in the automatic when going downhill, it was quite a relaxed experience driving there. With the wide roads and lower speed limits, driving on Maui was much less stressful than it is in the UK. I also loved the guidance lane markings for left turns which we don’t have here. And of course, the landscape we drove in was absolutely stunning.

Since returning from our honeymoon, we have got a new car. My MIL decided to buy herself a new car and give us her old car (again) – so we now have two cars, our 2004 Nissan Micra and a 2014 Citroen C3. These two cars couldn’t be more different to drive. The Micra is quite a small, slow car, where first gear is good for about two seconds after you start the car before you have to shift to second, which can be frustrating but then I have been used to driving this car over the past year. The C3 has a much more powerful motor, and it is also diesel, not petrol. It drives completely differently, accelerates much better (faster) and is generally nicer to drive simply because it is a much newer car.

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Our new car – a Citroen C3

I am kind of late to the party – I reckon most drivers do this in their late teens or early twenties, but I hope that I will continue to build my confidence and experience and become a confident driver over time.

What I want

I graduated university over five years ago and have been working full-time since January 2010 with a short break when I moved to the UK.

Since mid-December I have been jobless and on the hunt for a new opportunity. It seems that my skills are in demand but I have yet to find a new job, although hopefully it won’t be that much longer.

Before losing my job, I hadn’t been entirely happy with my situation for a while. I was considering finding a new job but I also found myself questioning my … path, I suppose. I found myself looking at the big picture, wondering where I was going and where my career would lead me.

All I want is to be happy, in a role that challenges me and doesn’t bore me but that doesn’t ask too much of me either. I want to work for a company that values my contribution (and remunerates it accordingly), where I am treated with respect and there is a balance between what I am giving and taking. I want to be part of a team that works together and sticks together with managers sticking up for their team as well. I want to work for a company where I get the sense that I am appreciated, that I am not just one of many or easily replaced.

Having some real benefits would be nice – by real benefits I mean company sick pay, maybe a pension scheme with the employer meeting my contributions, but mainly sick pay. I don’t want to have to worry about getting sick – not that I do very often, having only had one sick day in the past 3 years, but it’s a little unnerving knowing you’d lose your income if you were to become sick or if you were in an accident.

In my industry working overtime is very common. It is probably not be a view popular with employers but I believe that overtime should only be necessary every now and then. If there is an urgent deadline, sure, I am willing to stay late. But it shouldn’t be a daily occurrence – to me that is a sign that there is a problem with management or that the company is understaffed. Given that jobs in my industry are not that well paid and overtime is not paid either (if they were or if it was, it would be a different matter), in my opinion it isn’t right of a company or manager to expect employees to do overtime all the time. Wanting a healthy work life balance doesn’t make you a bad employee and it doesn’t make you lazy.

I am willing to work hard and go the extra mile for a job, but beyond my contracted hours, I expect my employer to appreciate it and be grateful for this, not consider it a given.

My time is valuable. I only have so much of it every day, and I don’t consider my career to be the purpose of my life. I work to live, I don’t live to work.

Beyond having a job that feels rewarding and makes me happy and pays a decent salary, I don’t have huge career ambitions. It’s not that I don’t have ambitions, but I have no desire to be a CEO one day. I don’t want my professional life to be that stressful. I don’t want it to be what I live for. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, is there?