Notes From The Road: Back in My Spiritual Homeland

Traveling in New Zealand
this is the view from the kitchen.  seriously.
If you’ve been reading Yes and Yes for any amount of time, you’re probably aware of my fondness for cats, cheese and New Zealand.  I own a cat named Rasputin, I eat a lot of cheese and I used to live in New Zealand.  In the future, I would  like to own New Zealand and live in some cheese.  If you can make that happen, please email me immediately so we can get married.
After traveling through India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia for the last four months, I was thrilled (thrilled!) to end my trip in my second home of Wellington, New Zealand.  I lived here for a year and a half while earning my MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Victoria.  During my 12-hour bus rides in Nepal, I fantasized about walking along Oriental Parade.  While I was showering out of a bucket in India, I thought about taking the red trolley up to the botanical gardens.  While I was throwing up on the train to Bangalore, I was wishing I hadn’t eaten train food.  And then when I was done thinking about that, I thought about drinking a flat white at Fidel’s.Wellington really is a home away from home for me and New Zealand is sort of my spiritual homeland.  All the traveling and hiking kiwis do, their commitment to the environment and their love of good dairy products?  They’re my people.So I was obviously looking forward to coming back to windy, windy Wellington.

But here’s where it get’s magical.

Three years after I left, I’ve moved back into my old flat.  With my old flatmates.

We lived in one of the best flats in the city.  Sunny, high-ceiling-ed, on a mountain, over looking the bay, a five minute walk from Courtney Place and priced well below market value because our landlord is fairly useless.  So my friends have renewed lease after lease and now I’m back.  The shower stall is still cracked, the stove still doesn’t shut completely and my teapot, toaster and throw pillows are still in use.I’ve spent the last two days, wandering around town, checking out my old haunts and catching up with friends.  I’ve also been that girl with a smile plastered to her face, muttering under her breath “I can’t believe I’m back here.”  Wellington, if I could hug you, I would.Do you have a spiritual homeland?  Or a second hometown?



wellington would hug you too!! it's so nice to hear people talk with such fondness about the place you actually live.

my "spiritual homeland" would probably be japan as i spent some time there in 2006 and i'm itching to go back, and now with the disaster i feel so helpless but want go back even more.

i have a "second house", which sort of comes with a "second home town"! my second house is in belmont, lower hutt. my boyfriend lives there, and his sister who was one of the first people i met and clicked with when i moved down from the wairarapa for uni, as well her old workmate, and my old flatmate! it's one of my favourite places, and we have our own favourite places around their town. it's nice.

Lorra Fae

Yes, mine is Tofino, BC, Canada. I miss it so much.
I also have always had an attachment to Hawaii, even though I've never lived there. I just feel like I belong there.

Louise C

Miss Von, you are making me miss home! Granted, home is Auckland, but Wellington is a pretty cool city. I want to go there more often.

My other home? Perth Australia, or Antwerp, Belgium. Perth is a little city like Welly, but it's becoming bigger and bigger, possibly because of its proximity to places like Asia (7hours tops to get to Singapore?) and the Middle East. Antwerp is a beautiful little city, full of random bars, cafes and shopping. Highly recommended for European travellers! I also love Amsterdam – and want an apartment with a few of the canals. Though I may be living off baked beans on toast and 2 minute noodles for that.


New Zealand sounds beautiful! I always associate New Zealand with Lord of the Rings, but obviously there is much more to it than that! (I'd totally be a LOTR-tourist, though, especially since I'm finally reading the books…)

My second home is France 🙂 I'm particularly in love with Bordeaux– the city enchants and delights me, far more than Paris. Most of the towns I visited in France were the same way, and I would happily return to any of them. My "home" in France is a tiny little town in the French Riviera, where all my friends live. Pretty boring little town, though!

Hope you have more wonderful travels! 😀

The Curious Cat

You know what? I think New Zealand may be my spiritual homeland too but I haven't actually made it there yet. One day, long ago, when I didn't know what to do with my life (I still don't) I said to the heavens – please show me a sign. (I had been thinking about going to New Zealand and a few other ideas at the time.) I then was late to work but hadn't had dinner so I quickly bought a cookie from the local bakery. The guy gave me my change – a 5p coin but it was unusual as it had a different symbol on it. Turned out to be a New Zealand 5p coin…

Did I listen to the sign? No. Do I still want to go there? Yes.

All a matter of time I guess…

For now New England is, without a doubt my spiritual home – well actually it is my childhood home too – followed by Thailand.


Wow, I already had a wicked craving earlier this week for a big kiwi-style weekend brunch and a flat white, and this post of yours just tripled it! I'm currently on the other side of the world eating my way through the land of pizza, pasta and panna cotta, but I do miss my beloved windy hometown sometimes!


That is so wonderful, enjoy every minute of it!!!

Several places jumped to mind for me when you said *spiritual homeland* I suppose I could make an agrument for all of them, but the two at the forefront are Lake George, NY in the Adirondacks, and Sterling, NY, a small town in upstate NY on the shores of Lake Ontario 🙂 I'm a water baby 🙂


I don't comment near enough here, dear Sarah, but I adore your spirit and your blog. I'm so happy for you and glad that we, your readers, get to share in your many adventures. Welcome home.


I've never lived anywhere outside of Wisconsin, but I have done some short-term travel (more than most people I know but far less than you, fair Sarah!). Quebec City was a place that fit me like a glove.

Everyone walks or bikes, even up the steep hill of the walled Upper Town. I remember an elderly man on a bicycle passing me going up the hill as I huffed and puffed with each step.

The food is simple and beautiful. I ate cheese with ashes in it and root beer marinated ribs over frites. I fell in love with every young man who spoke French to me (at least four!). A masseuse rubbed my back and gave me a French lesson. I walked down 400-year-old streets in the rain. I shopped for old records and wind-up toys.

I must go back. I must!


I just got back from 3 weeks in NZ and now I miss it like crazy! My husband's family is from Tauranga, and from my very first visit there it's been my spiritual home. I can't get enough of it!

Enjoy your time in Wellington!


I think that my spiritual home is England. As soon as I walked off the plane I felt at home even though I was alone and nervous. I lived in a tiny village in Suffolk so I feel that anywhere in the English countryside is where my heart is!

I'd like to live in some cheese too!


Wow, I am so glad you wrote this post and articulated a feeling I have experienced but never named, having a "spiritual homeland." I studied abroad in Barcelona in college. At first, I couldn't stand it because it was so different than my first crush, Paris. Then I began to love it for its uniqueness, fantastically whimsical architecture, and all that distinguished it from just another generic-pretty European city.

Though I have since been back, I still think about Barcelona almost every day. If I see images of it or read about it, I am nearly moved to tears and the feeling is not unlike that of missing a person. I can see why you wanted to hug Wellington; I'm waiting to do the same for Barcelona again.

Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous

I found my first home when I moved to Canada when I was 17. A military child, I'd always moved around and just "lived" places, but none of them were home. Canada, and specifically Guelph, Ontario, was the first place I ever felt truly at home and truly a part of the community around me. Even now, living far, far away from there, I always talk about wanted to go back home.

katie d.

Yes! Maui, Hawaii. I got engaged there, married there…in some ways I began adulthood in Maui. When we got married, our minister said we were ohana (family) with Hawaii forever. I totally get what you're saying.


Yes! Florence, Italy is my spiritual hometown after living and studying there for nearly a year. My flat was one block from the central market and I can't ever get over the loss of proximity to fresh produce, pecorino, and piping hot cornetti. Sigh. That said, I've always felt New Zealand calling my name. One day I shall make it there, and would love to hit you up, my dear Sarah, for any tips on finding a home! 🙂


What a lovely post! It makes me want to go there.
My spiritual homeland is definitely Hanalei, Kauai. Whenever I return there (we go back every 2 years or so) I am welcomed by Kauai's balmy plumeria-infused air, and I am home. I feel like the temperature (usually in the 70's and breezy) is exactly the temperature I am most comfortable at.
Then there is the crescent shaped moon beach, and the Hawaiian people, some of the most beautiful and wonderful people on Earth.
Add to that a night of friends gathered around playing ukuleles and singing and what more could you want from life? The spirit of aloha is alive and well there, and it's impossible to leave without a little bit of it imprinted on your soul.


It's great to see you filled with so much joy, Sarah. I saw a phrase that reminded me of you today and what we talked about at the bar… "Just because I wander doen't mean I'm lost" 🙂

Ulterior Banana

I lived in jerusalem when I was little. I hardly remembered it when I left, but when I returned 12 years later, it was like i had found a piece of myself that i hadn't even realized was lost.

it was a beautiful moment. i'm sure yours is too 🙂


ha! reading this from roxburgh street, mount vic. not too many meters away from you i assume? welcome to wellington! given the size of the city i also assume we'll bump in to each other at some point, and i WILL say hi.


Ah, bless!
It always makes me appreciate Wellington more when I read about people who don't take it for granted like I do!

My spiritual home would have to be London (though I will always have a softspot for Wellington) – I didn't think the whole "falling in love with a city" thing was possible until I lived there for 18 months.
I love it so much that even now, nearly 2 years after moving home, it hurts a bit when I think about it.

Karen Mardelli

La bella Roma is mine. This will be my forth time moving back there. It is definitely under my skin. And it is definitely my spiritual home.


Welcome back to Welly, Sarah! I love this town too, moved here from the South Island a few years ago and can't imagine living anywhere else in NZ. The fabulous restaurants, the amazing views, the beautiful waterfront, the kooky people. I'm so proud to call this my home town now 🙂


My spiritual home is definitely Firenze! I cannot think of a more beautiful, interesting, and perfect place to live out my days. Some day I'll make it back there…


I feel the same way about Nelson, NZ. I lived there for nearly a year after teaching in South Korea for two years. When I went back this past January for a 3 week vacation, I realized that Nelson is my second hometown and I missed it terribly. So much that I'm moving there permanently in September this year. Guess my second hometown is about to become my first! <3


Oh I'm so so so glad you love Wellington. It's my home & definitely my spiritual homeland!!

I love it when people fall in love with the coolest capital in the world!!


Gosh that sounds lovely. I studied abroad in New Zealand for six too short months, and I still dream of it. Whenever I think about moving back, though, I get scared because I didn't seem to make a lot of lasting friends who are still in New Zealand. So you're lucky to have that base!


I know that view! I used to live in Wellington, too, and will be a part of the MVC (Mt. Vic Crew) forever. It's one of my several 'spiritual homelands'. Glad it's been discovered and loved by someone else.


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