I still haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that almost 31 months after leaving New Zealand as a decidedly unbearded youngster, I’ll finally be back later this week.

[Edit: One of the border staff members in Taiwan seemed a bit suspicious about the beard, too.]

I’d be inclined to ponder the marvel that, in the space of a day, one can be back on the other side of the world, back to such a familiar life. But it’s 5.30am and I’m sleep-deprived, waiting at Frankfurt Airport, half a day into what’s actually a three-day journey. My marvelling is now completely consumed with gazing dozily after the dinky bikes and super-scooters airport staff use to get around the terminal.

It’s a well overdue adventure. Expats may get used to not seeing family and friends for a long time but it doesn’t make the distance any more pleasant, especially at this time of year.

I find myself wondering,”What’s changed back home while I’ve been gone?”

Knowing the small town I grew up in, ‘not much’ might be the answer. But in all seriousness, perhaps the more relevant question should be, “how have I changed?”. Travel undeniably has that effect.

As long as I don’t nod off before my boarding call, I’ll find out.

It’s going to be a Christmas at the beach and surfing over the new year, before winging down to the South Island for the remainder of my holiday and a day in Taipei each way to break up the 26 hours of flights each way.

After a whirl-wind year, thoughts on my overseas experience (so far) are hard to pin down. Some weeks relaxing in New Zealand might be just the key for that, before diving back in.

For now, given that my train from Berlin arrived a long time ago and my brain power appears to have long-since departed, I’ll leave you with some spooky nocturnal photos of Frankfurt from last night’s wanderings.


Eiserner Steg, Frankfurt


Weihnachtsnachte auf dem Römerberg


Empty Christmas market under St Paul’s Church

Abandoned (closed for the evening) Christmas Market

Closing time