A neatly wrapped, red package fell into my hands. “What’s this?” I inquired. We had just arrived in New Zealand a couple hours before. This vacation was my “early Birthday gift.” I wasn’t expecting another present.
“It’s part of the trip.” my mom answered. Wasting no time, my fingernails dug into the paper. I tossed the covering away, revealing a thin book; my eyes skimmed over the title: The Hobbit Trilogy Location Guidebook.
“You’re in charge of the attractions in New Zealand.”
Opening the book, I flipped to find the page that had the information of the place where all unexpected journeys began. Hobbiton. A quick, two hour drive from Auckland to Matamata later and our pockets $172 lighter, our family of three boarded the dark, green bus prepared to take us through the sea of green.
“Hello! My name is John, and I’ll be your tour guide, today.”
I barely registered his voice as I felt the bus pull out of the waiting station. My fingers were tingling in excitement. I clutched my camera and flicked the “On” button. Outside the window, flocks of sheep grazed on the rolling, grassy hills. A typical sight. Then, the bus rounded the final hill, and suddenly we were no longer in New Zealand.
The rolling, grassy hills transformed into tiny decorative houses with colorful circular doors and brick chimneys. Some Hobbits had strung up their laundry to dry. Others had grown a garden. Another Hobbit had dried some fish, no doubt for Bilbo Baggins’ Birthday party. We strolled through the small town, taking pictures of the various and unique Hobbit holes. It was a good thing no one was home; otherwise, we would be considered stalkers.
Eventually, we made it to the residency of Bilbo Baggins. Unfortunately, there was a sign that said, “No admittance except on party business.” So, I wasn’t able to meet Mr. Baggins. However, I must say the records we have of the affluence of the Baggins family are true. Even from the outside I could tell his house was the largest one there. After wishing Mr. Baggins a “Happy Birthday!”, I decided to finish my visit to Hobbiton with a drink from the famous Green Dragon Inn.
Taking the stone bridge that Gandalf the Grey, himself, once crossed, I skipped to the inn. Letting my parents grab the complementary ginger ale, I sat by the crackling fireplace. The Green Dragon Inn ironically was the least green thing in Hobbiton. Built with sturdy wooden beams and rafters, the inn was cozy and almost homey. “Got the ale.” my father announced. The three glass mugs thudded on the round oak table.
I grabbed my ginger ale, my fingers slipping through the smooth handle. I raised it above my head. My parents mirrored me.
“Here’s to going there and back again.” I exclaimed.
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