Monday, July 29, 2013

Greetings from Hawaii

Hi everyone,
There is a storm going to hit Hawaii- Tropical storm Flossie. Winds up to 40 miles per hour. So far flights arriving into Honolulu airport have been cancelled. I know Hawaiian airlines are working at the moment but it is 7:26am here. My flight departs here at 2:15pm. I hope I can get away.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Greetings from Hawaii

Hi everyone, I arrived in Hawaii yesterday. I arrived early afternoon and went to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre. Today I am going to Waikele. If I buy anything, I will post it back to NZ. The post office open here at 9am, and the shuttle arrives at my hotel at 10:45am so I'm in good time, if I aim to get to the post office at 9am. The weather is hot. I'm on the 12th floor and I get a beach view. The hotel is close to the Duke statue, one two blocks away. When I arrived my room wasn't ready, but the lady gave me some pineapple juice and within 15 minutes it was ready. I really do like this hotel.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Greetings from San Francisco

Hi everyone, I am now at San Francisco airport waiting to board my plane. This free WIFI at USA airports and Toronto airport is simply brilliant and it is free. My trip to San Francisco was extremely short. I arrived in at 3:23pm yesterday and got to my hotel at 5pm. I was able to catch up with Alissa (Patricia's daughter) for half an hour as she was going off to the Justin Timberlake concert at 6pm. It was lovely catching up with her. Then I went to the Oak Room at the Westin St Francis for dinner. The lady at the door recognised me from last year which was nice as I would have the odd dinner there. My hotel room was on Powell St, more on the cable car turn around here end near Market St. I didn't sleep very well in it. There a homeless man who obviously was retarded, stoned, or drunk that made a lot of noise for a number of hours. The same guy who I saw was making a lot of noise on the street when I walked past him to dinner last night. So I recognised his yelling when he I was trying to get to sleep. Ok as a base hotel / stopover hotel, but liked the Westin St Francis even more.  Today I am flying to Hawaii. I didn't realise but I have two nights there which is great. Hoping to go to Waikele tomorrow and have a swim at the hotel pool. The hotel in Hawaii is very nice and I will stop off at the Honolulu Cookie company before I leave.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Greetings from Chicago

Greetings from Chicago. I have simply loved my time in Chicago. My Google Teacher Academy two days were amazing. It was great to network with people, compare education systems and discuss favourite apps. My team leader for my team was simply amazing, took a huge interest in me and was so very welcoming. I have to create an Action plan to support teachers within my area. Yesterday I spoke to an engineer at Google around having an online sticker system to go along with feedback that you give to students. He thought it was a great idea and he will my suggestion on. My Google group were lovely. I have got them on Google plus and Twitter, so I will be able to communicate with them and have online hangouts with them. I've learnt so much on Apps, Scripts, You Tube that I feel I need a week to play and experiment with my new content. After my Google conference I took a harbour cruise along the Chicago River. It was amazing. I am sold on Chicago. It is not as big as New York, there aren't the large numbers of homeless people on the street, they're not as rife in the downtown areas, you see them but not as intimidating. My hotel was lovely. I had the best views over looking the Chicago river. I would love to go back to Chicago again. It's got a lot of potential and easy to get round. The down town area is very pretty, things are in close proximity and are in walking distance. A great place to visit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Greetings from Chicago

I am going to keep this post short as I have had a 12 hour day at the institute.
Yesterday I went to the Art Institute Museum of Chicago. absolutely amazing. The Art Institute had original paintings by Monet. The impressionist part of the Museum was impressive, a thematic area where they had the period costumes beside the paintings. I went to Millenium Park-Google it amazing park. At 4:10pm I met my Google group. Met them in the lobby then we caught a taxi to a pub and brewery in the west part of Chicago. I had a bite to eat at the pub. They're a great bunch of people, so much fun. I'm a bit of a celebrity with the kiwi accent. One of the guys said that he could listen to me all day. I said I don't think my kids at school would feel like that and laughed it off. Today was early start at the Google. I went to a number of workshops on Google Apps, Scripts, and You Tube. My team are lovely. My team leader is so welcoming. Must go another early start. Now I'm a Google Certified Teacher.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Greetings from Chicago

Hi everyone, I'm having a great time in Chicago. Chicago is a big city and has a massive airport. The downtown area is nicely laid out with art on a lot of corners, nice floral displays and a river running through the city called the Magnificent Mile- Michigan Avenue. Today I did a guided tour around the North and South parts of Chicago. The North part of Chicago tends to have a lot of apartments with seaside and lakeside views. We went to Lincoln Park where there was a conservatory. I took lots of photographs of the ferns and orchids. We drove past the Wriggley Stadium and building. The Wriggley brothers were famous for the chewing gum. Then we drove to the south side of Chicago. The South side is well known through being rough, but there are good and bad areas (pockets) that are like this. We drove past Barak Obama's residence where it was fully guided by the CIA. This area had a plaque outside an ice cream shop of Barak and Michelle Obama as this was where he took her on a first date. The South side had some mansions and slaves would live in separate homes on the same properties. The mansions have been bought by churches, university of chicago to house professors. The university of Chicago was on the south side.

After this we were dropped off at the John Hancock Tower. It is the fourth tallest building in Chicago. It is 457.2m tall 1500 ft. I had stunning views over looking Chicago. I took lots of photographs. It was such a nice day I walked back to the hotel. I walked down straight down Michigan Avenue and turned off at Wacker St. I went too Far East, but then realised my mistake and walked back. A nice man pointed me in the correct direction which was great. I stopped off at a sweet shop and bought my kids at school a box of chocolate balls with Stars and Stripes on them. Very American, got a lot of balls in the box so I won't need to worry about anyone missing out.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Greetings from Toronto

Hard to believe my Toronto holiday is coming to an end. This morning I was woken up at 2:30am with a fire alarm going off in my hotel. It was weird as it was more a bell sound going off. Then we had a voice through speakers giving us the low down on the fire department. Everyone just looked at each other in the corridor wondering what the hell to do. I'm up on the 21st floor of this posh hotel. On my floor there were a lot of Chinese people which was rather amusing. i had to tell them to be quiet when the announcements were made. got a message from the hotel that the alarm went off through a fault with one of the extinguishers. The hotel is lovely. I look down on the square and this clock tower. I am virtually a couple of doors down from the Bay Centre and across the road from the Eaton Centre. It's great. Today I did a hop on hop off tour. It was great. I stopped off in Yorkville and had brunch which consisted of Eggs Benedict. It was very nice and I had it outside in the sun. The restaurant had Wifi which was great until we were all told to put our phones away. There was this weirdo walking down the footpath. Stealing of cell phones is common over here. I was told that by Hayley. This homeless man stretched his hands over my table wanting me to buy his newspaper. I just looked at the people beside me and the restaurant staff told him to leave premises and leave the guests alone. They were very good. I think the homeless man was so drugged up he didn't know what he was doing. After brunch I caught the bus to the Bata Shoe Museum. It was very interesting. It had the first Nike shoes, Adidas shoes, shoes from different cultures and celebrity shoes such as Elizabeth Taylor's Shoes, Elton John's shoes. After this I stayed on the bus and went to the market. The farmers market was amazing. Lots of fresh meat, fruit, vegetables. Bought a few souvenirs. I had a short time at the market and then I headed to the Distillary for lunch. It was lovely in the hot sun, having a late lunch. Then after this I caught the bus to the Eaton Centre and to the Bay Centre. There lots of people at the Eaton Centre and the Bay Centre that I just nipped in and nipped out again. Must go, off to bed soon.

Greetings from Toronto

Yesterday I had an amazing trip to the Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls are 1.5 hours out of Toronto. It was a very hot ride. The driver that picked up did not know how to work the air conditioning and it was boiling hot up until they changed drivers 3/4 of the way to Niagara. We had a chattier driver on the way to Niagara. When we were lining up I spoke to a couple from Tauranga in my group. They were both retired. When we were getting our jackets the Tauranga couple called the poncho jackets blue condoms. This made me laugh big time. They were quite hard to put on with the wind blowing. Then we got on the boat. It was a nice ride. I took a few photo graphs on the boat but we were all huddled up. I feel the best photos came from the other viewing areas. After the boat ride I bought a few souvenirs and then joined my group. We went to the Sheraton Hotel for lunch. It was buffet, it was ok but there were too many hot platters for such a hot day and they only offered us water as a beverage. I'd rather of had a Cesar salad and plenty of liquids. I sat with a mother, her daughter and niece from Sussex, United Kingdom. They were very friendly. After this the driver took us round to the viewing points. The viewing points were great. Then he took us to a village area where we had an hour at leisure to look round. I enjoyed this. Bought my favourite maple syrup chocolates and a few gifts. On the way back I sat with the ten year old daughter who is from the UK. She goes to a private school over there. It seems as though private education is highly favoured over here versus state education. She was a character, highly confident with a posh accent. Her school seems to be a little behind with digital learning. They teach e-learning separately and it's only twice a week. She has specialist teachers in all the curriculum areas. School starts at 8:30am and finishes at 5:30pm. Then there is after school club. After school club finishes at 6:45pm. A long day for kids.

Greetings from Toronto

Off to the Niagara Falls today. It is very hot in Toronto. Yesterday it was 32 degrees Celsius. The weather is similar to Auckland. The humidity is high. Enjoying the warmth. Saw a raccoon on a roof of a restaurant in down town Toronto. Yesterday was a great day. In the morning I did a city and sights tour. It was great. The driver took us to the distillary, the sugar cane factory, Yong Street, University Ave and the Quay wharf. The wharf area reminded me of the Viaduct, with the trendy cafes and restaurants. I have to say Toronto reminds of so many places I have visited. It reminded me of Liverpool with the old brick English themed buildings, Miami because of the sky rise buildings and Auckland because of the harbour. After my tour I went and had lunch at an Irish pub facing the harbour. I have to say my Smirnoff Ice was very refreshing in my outdoor dining area. In the afternoon I took a harbour cruise along Lake Ontario and we sailed passed the islands. It was great fun. After this I walked to the CN tower. it is the second tallest building in the world. I went to three viewing areas. It was very cool, my hotel looked miniature in height compared to the tower. It was scary looking down from the glass floor. I spent about an hour at the CN Tower and walked back to the hotel. Toronto is very easy to get around. My hotel is on Queen St West. The hilarious thing was that I went too far west and ended up walking to the 600s end. My hotel is at the 100 end. I think they should label blocks under the street name for blonde tourists like me. It was a nice walk back and there were lots of people around.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Greetings from Toronto

Off to the Niagara Falls today. It is very hot in Toronto. Yesterday it was 32 degrees Celsius. The weather is similar to Auckland. The humidity is high. Enjoying the warmth. Saw a raccoon on a roof of a restaurant in down town Toronto. Been to the CNN tower. Must go. Will write more later when I get back from the Niagara Falls trip.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Greetings from Toronto

Yes I have made it Toronto. I am on Canadian soil!!! San Francisco was great. I mainly took it easy the day on Tuesday. I slept in, went to my favourite store Macy's and had a bit of a spending spree. I posted my goods back to New Zealand. Then I went back to my hotel. I asked the man at the hotel where I could buy a cable car ticket. He told me to go to the store next door. The store sold all day passes for $14, much cheaper than purchasing them on board. I then walked down to Powell St and caught the cable car from there. It was so much fun. I went down to Fishermans Wharf and had a late lunch. I had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. I had tomato and basil soup and a Cesar Salad. I had a split meal so the Cesar salad was more a side. The tomato and basil soup was served inside a sour dough bun, no bowl needed. It was very cool. Then I decided to visit the Aquarium on the bay. It was very nice. Loved the hands on area where you could pat a fin of a sting ray. They also had a lady handling a snake. The snake was a bit of a novelty to me as we don't have snakes in NZ so I gave it a pat on his back. I was going to do a harbour cruise, but ran out of time. Will do it when I go back to San Francisco, the ticket has no expiry date and I checked it out with management, so all good. Then I caught the cable car back to my hotel. The hotel was vey nice about 4 blocks west of Union Square. When I got back to my hotel, the guests next door were doing their fifty shades of grey. It was quite amusing. The walls were thin. At six o'clock I met Hayley. We went to the Cheesecake Factory in the Macy's building. They were very busy, we had to wait thirty five minutes for a table, but it was worth it. It was very nice. We had lots to talk about and catch up on. She very kindly walked me back to my hotel. Yesterday I caught the plane from San Francisco to Toronto. It was about five hours up in the air. We had in flight entertainment which shortened the journey. I was in the middle between these two interesting guys. It's always nice having someone to talk to. One American and the other Canadian. Canadian customs was busy. There were a number of plane loads of people in front me. It was a long wait. I had a nice Chinese Canadian man serve me. He wished me well on my travels. Suitcase clearance was easy, got through no problems. The shuttle worked well met an educator from New York who is into E -Learning.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Greetings from San Francisco

Aloha, Greetings to you all. I am now in San Francisco. Arrived in at about 10:30pm. By the time I got my suitcase and shuttle it was pretty close to midnight. Hawaii was great fun. On Sunday I went to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre and bought a pair of sandles and some fragrances. I wanted to buy a pair of jeans but didnt have any i liked. Also the tops were extra small and had a limited selection of colours, styles and sizes. San Francisco might have something for me. Then I went back to the hotel and had a swim at the pool. It was solar heated. There was a spa just off the main pool which was heated and it was lovely and warm.then at around 2pm I decided to have lunch out at the Hard Rock Cafe. I am finding if I have a late lunch, then have something light around 7-8pm at night I sleep better and the food agrees with me. I suppose if I have something heavy, then having it early allows it to break down. I had a burger and some fries at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was very nice. Then after this I went to have a paddle in the water at Waikiki beach. The water was lovely and warm, warmer than the hotel pool. I was at the beach for about an hour. Then I went back to the hotel and just relaxed. The hotel had an iPod dock, which I could listen to my iPod and charge it at the same time. Then got peckish and went to McDonalds to buy a salad. Yesterday my last day in Waikiki, will be returning at the end of the trip. I decided to post my fragrances and lotions back to New Zealand. Unfortunately I could not post my fragrances, as they were highly flammable. They were only 3 for $10. I was put off as I was worried that I could get myself into trouble for having items flammable at the airport so I left them in Hawaii. I am now wondering whether you're allowed to buy perfume from Overseas and bring it back in your suitcase. I love perfume, but don't want to get myself into trouble or waste my money purchasing it if it is going to go into the rubbish. But then I think why would they be selling it if you couldn't use it in your own home country / city? Hawaii is a touristy area, attracts all sorts of people. Keen to know whether perfumes are allowed on aeroplanes? I am now in San Francisco staying at Hotel Vertigo. It is four blocks away from Union Square. About a 10 minute walk. It is going in the direction to the Tenderloin area, but as soon as I leave this hotel I will turn left. The room is spacious and quiet. I suspect there will be lots of people about with the America's Cup on so I'm not worried.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Greetings from Waikiki.

Hi everyone, It's hard to believe that day one is almost over. I didn't sleep well on the plane. There was quite a lot of turbulence between Auckland and Honolulu. My stomach was a bit cobbley wobbley when I got off the plane. This afternoon, I went for a walk along the Main Street, went to the beach, then had subway. I didn't feel like much. The weather is hot. I'm in my Kathmandu shorts and top. My hotel called Bamboo has free WIFI in all the rooms. It's on Kuhio Ave, just north of the Ohana East Hotel. The reception area is not flash, but the pool and rooms are. Love the free WIFI and the room is rather spacious. I am on the tenth floor and I have got a view looking over the ocean on the other side. Well that's all from me. I am feeling rather thirsty. I'm off to the ABC store to get some bottled water. My subway has filled me up and I don't feel like eating anything too heavy before going to bed. I might buy some fresh fruit salad or an ice cream and go to bed. Tomorrow I plan to have a swim in the pool, go to the Ala Moana shopping centre. I'll have more energy. It is 6:15pm Saturday night. In NZ I think it is 8:15pm Sunday night. Write more tomorrow. I had two nice men in Customs, the first man asked me when was the last time I visited. I turned round and said January last year in Hawaii and then I said almost 11 months ago August last year when I was in San Francisco. I said I love the place so much and it is a great escape from the New Zealand winter. He didn't mind, he must think I'm rich or something. Just gone out, to get something light. Next door we have a pineapple cafe. I've just bought a non alcoholic PiƱa Colada smoothie. It is to die for. The pineapples are bright orangey yellow on the outside. So beautiful, might make it my base. Love pineapple. Bought a fresh fruit parfait takeaway. I'll have more energy in the morning. Just taking it easy in my hotel room. It is very comfortable. I think I like it more than the Ohana hotels. No stupid time share people. When I had a load of groceries the men opened the doors for me. Love the warm hospitality that this place offers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Greetings from Singapore

Hi everyone,
The safari at the zoo went well however the dinner served was made from local ingredients and was under the themes of Asian and Indian. Today I have been paying the price. Burning sensation and discomfort, as it passes through my body. Local food here is very rich and my body obviously cannot handle the spices. IT has coped well in Europe, USA and UK. I am having a complete break from this type of food and found an Irish pub for lunch and an Australian themed restaurant for dinner.

The zoo trip was very good. I find the tour guides here very firm and everything has to be structured. I feel they need to let lose and perhaps are in need of a holiday. I just keep quiet and do as I'm told. They certainly wouldn't cope in New Zealand.

Last nights tour was very good, but very rushed. I think if I came here again I would catch a bus to the zoo.

Today I visited Sentosa Island. I took a morning tour. It is famous for having pink dolphins. We watched a dolphin show and went to the under water world. A bit like Kelly Tarltons. As I was leaving they had a snake handler. For $6 I paid to hold his enormous this snake. It was very long. It was one of those snakes that eats its prey whole. Got about four photos.

Then this afternoon I did another hop on and hop off tour. I went to the Irish pub that I spotted yesterday and then headed to the Art and Sciences Museum where they had an exhibition on the American Artist Andy Warhol. It was brilliant. I love his art works.

Then came back to the hotel and spotted this Australian restaurant. I honestly don't think I could handle a dinner at the hotel. There is a horrid buffet smell with the ethnic foods being cooked. They have an a la carte menu that I have been ordering from. Very limited westernized food menu. The Australian restaurant is a 10 minute walk from the hotel. The menu is fantastic, lots to choose from. I might come here for breakfast tomorrow. The hotel has free breakfasts and is buffet. I think if I have a break from their breakfasts tomorrow I might get quality elsewhere.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Greetings from Singapore

Hi everyone,

It has been very hot here in Singapore. I have been making the most of my mornings by doing conducted tours and then spending the afternoons and evenings at the hotel. Yesterday the jet lag got to me. Spent the afternoon sleeping.

Yesterday I did the city and sites tour that I did around the city. We went to the Merlion fountain, the temple in China Town, the Botanical Gardens-orchids area, Little India and back to the City Flyer (a bit like London's Millenium Wheel). The tour lady was very strict and tended to have a rude disposition when it came to walking in front of other tour group photos.

Today I did the Hop on and Hop off tour around Singapore. It was a great service and it did pick ups and drop offs from the Hotel. I stopped off at Orchard Rd. There were lots of retail shops but I thought the prices weren't cheap for clothes-I think I would do better in the States. Meals prices are about the equivalent to NZ.
I then stopped off at the Sands Hotel and Marina Bay area. I had lunch at the water front area. Then I had a look round the mall and decided to do a forty minute harbour cruise.

After this I went back to the hotel. Tonight I have got a dinner Safari at Singapore Zoo. Looking forward to it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Greetings from London

Yesterday I caught the train to Kensington Palace. It was a small palace but had interesting content such as royalty clothing from Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and guards.

Met Mark after visit and bought two pairs of black shoes. Got to have retail therapy. They were around 52 pounds each. One pair was a slip on type shoe and the other pair had the borock pattern on them. Very common over in England. I have to say there is a lot more variety here than back at home. I bought a pair from Clarks shoes and the other pair from Top Shop in Saffridges- posh store in the UK.

Greetings from London

On Saturday I went to the Tate Modern Art Gallery- just at the Embankment/ river side area. I spent a number of hours there on my own. I really loved the forth floor of artworks. These artworks were abstract but kind of got lots of ideas that I could use on my class. The artworks were very geometric and I felt I could integrate Maths into art easily. I took lots of photographs.

Then in the afternoon I met up with Mark and he showed me this interesting market that sold all sorts of food: great for the chef/foodie. They sold rabbit, kangaroo, pheasant, sweets, and other home made things. I tried some lemonade type punch and a fruit smoothy. After this he took me to another market and I bought a black tailored coat for 60 pounds but battered down to 55 pounds. It is made here in England. A great bargain.

After this Mark took me to Veda and Patricks place for dinner-his future in laws. Had a great night with them.

Greetings from London

Well it's been an action packed couple of days in London. On Friday I went on my day tour to: Warwick Castle, Stratford upon Avon and Oxford. It took about 2 hours to get to Warwick Castle. Warwick Castle was the traditional English Castle. We went inside it and saw armor on the walls, a wax works of Queen Elizabeth, wax works of Henry VIII and his wives. Then we went outside and climbed round the viewing points. After this I went to the peacock gardens at the castle and there was a bird prey demonstration. We had 1.5 hours there.

After this we went to Stratford upon Avon. Stratford upon Avon was very quiet and beautiful-just like it is on TV. We went to Shakespeare's birth place Museum, that looked at his birth, marriage, etc. After this I went to get some lunch. As I was about to leave the cafe, it started to rain. I wanted to walk to the river area but it was too wet.

After this we went to Oxford which is famous for it's university. We went to Christ Church college, part of the university of Oxford. This university if famous for the people who studied there such as: JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher.

It was a great day out.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Greetings from London

It's been a busy 48 hours. I had to say goodbye to my tour group. We have now gone our separate ways into the big wide world- no Tour Director, no Driver. I have got some new Facebook buddies from the trip. It was great having a young crowd on the tour- tended to hang out with them the most.

Yesterday I had a clear day in London and went on the London Eye. It was very relaxing. I met a Chinese lady who asked me whether I could take her photo and I asked her if she took mine. It was reciprocal.

After this I took the train from Waterloo to Knightsbridge where Harrods is to start my Vintage tour around London. We went round Traffalgar Square, the Embankment area, Round Buckingham Palace and saw the ceremony for the guards men putting away their horses. After this we had a harbor cruise along the Thames River.

After this the bus took us to Harrods where three of us had afternoon tea. I met these two South African ladies in my tour who invited me to join them for afternoon tea. They were from Pretoria. One of them lives here and is a Social Worker. Having afternoon tea at Harrods was a real highlight for me. We had Devonshire tea and scones, plus Champaign. There was a computerized grand piano playing it's own music. The dining area was huge with starched table cloths and napkins, with chandeliers and beautiful floral displays.

After my day out I caught up with Mark outside St Pauls Cathedral. I am starting to get my head around the Tube Stations and destinations. I do miss my car to take me round. I am starting to like London, but it's not my all time favorite city to visit. I have to say Liverpool was much easier to get around.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Greetings from Amsterdam

Well tonight is my last night with the tour group. I am in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is what I have imagined it to be. There are proper cycle lanes for cyclists, house boats and canals. When we arrived we had 45 minutes to have some lunch. We were dropped off in a nice area where we could get something from the markets and then have some time for souvenir shopping, I bought some ornaments: miniature clogs, a picture and a windmill. After the souvenir shopping we went to a diamond shop where they cut, smoothed and set diamonds into rings, necklaces, etc. We were shown the process and were shown the different types of diamond sizes and values. Most of us were too poor to pay exuberant prices for this luxury. After this we did a canal cruise in downtown Amsterdam with my tour group. We went past Anne Frank's house (diary fame) which has been converted into a Museum. The houses along the canal are very different. They tend to be a number of stories where the kitchen is on the first floor, the living area is on the second floor and the bedrooms are on the third floor. This afternoon we were given some free time to check out down town Amsterdam. We walked to the red light district area and smelt the unique smells this area has on offer. I was not interested in going into a coffee shop and trying out Space Cake, or sampling anything illegal. It was interesting to walk round, but settled for a hot chocolate and a piece of Dutch Apple cake at McDonalds.