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.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Greetings from Rhineland

Today has been a long day of traveling and more traveling. We left Switzerland early and arrived to Germany. I am now in Rhineland Germany. I am having a one night stop over. It is dark outside and feeling tired. I am not going site seeing with the group. Just having an early night. Today we did a 1 hour cruise along the Rhineland River. It was very relaxing. Tomorrow I am off to Amsterdam. Last full day with the tour group and then on Wednesday I head back to London. I have thoroughly enjoyed the tour, even it was a little rushed at times. I have seen the snapshots of Europe and seen amazing landmarks. Must go off to bed. Up at 5:30am tomorrow for a new adventure in Amsterdam.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Greetings from Lucern Switzerland

Today I started the morning off with a lake cruise. I am simply loving Switzerland. It is quiet and easy to get around. Switzerland is not the cheapest. This morning was grey and murky. Not a typical Switzerland post card day. We went along the lake and saw these beautiful Swiss Houses and a Jesus Christ statue mounted onto the rocks. The main area is called Swan Square. Lots of beautiful white swans floating on the water.

After the cruise we went to Mt Titlis. Mt Titlis was amazing. It was beautiful country side. Took lots of great photos. We went on one main gondola ride and two larger sized gondola rides. The two gondola rides were full of people. The height was very high and I felt a little light headed. It was due to the altitude. After I listened to my tour director give instructions I went on the Ice Flyer. The Ice Flyer was cool as it took us to another mountain. At this mountain there were toboggan rides. The rides were free. I took the challenge and went down. It was so much fun. I went twice and me being the true blooded kiwi competed against my fellow Aussie travellers. I bet them.

After this we went to the ice cave. This was a cave made out of ice in which you could go through. There were some really cool ice sculptures inside the cave.

Then we had lunch. I had some Goulash Soup, a croissant, a sprite, and some fries for 26 Franks. It was an expensive but nice lunch.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Greetings from Lucern Switzerland

Hi everyone,

I am in the country of where Swiss Watches, chocolate and cheese are made. It feels like ages since I was on. Yesterday we drove from Vienna to Salzburg. It was a lovely drive. Salzburg is a lot smaller than Vienna. We went to a square in down town Salzburg. This weekend is a long weekend as they are celebrating October Fest- a beer festival. There lots of market stalls selling beautifully made souvenirs which are made in Austria. There were lots of people wearing their native costumes. I also bought a pastry filled with this meringue mixture. It was very rich and sweet. The pastries and sweet treats are to die for!!! The diet will begin when I get back.
We also went to a church in the middle of the square. I have bought a book of Salzburg so I can remember the names of the places I visit. We had a local guide that showed us where parts of the Sound of Music was made. We drove past the church on the way to Salzburg where Maria Von Trapp got married. Its neat going to places where movies were made.

Last night we went to an Austrian concert that had people yodeling, playing the accordian, dancing and playing unique string instruments that are across between a harp and a xylophone. Beautiful music. We also saw the artists wearing traditional Austrian costume. One of the funniest acts was when this older woman started yodeling then in the middle of her song she started mooing like a cow. She had a deep mooing voice. I think she was a cow in her past life.

I took some photos and made some movies.

Today I went to the Swarovski store , which they specialize in crystal ornaments and jewelry. I couldn't resist and bought a necklace which is very cool as I can change the crystal to match the outfit that I wear. I hope the Swarovski store in New Market has the crystal that fits my necklace. If not it's online shopping.

I am now in Switzerland. It is an expensive city but staying here for two nights. I have been impressed with the city so far. They have white swans on the Lucern River. Tomorrow I am doing a harbor cruise and going to Mt Titlis. Mt Titlis has a chair lift and has panoramic views. Feeling better not tired of my group yet. It's a bit like big brother-27 days - 7 days a week with the same people. 16 hours a day of travel and spending time with each other. Pleased I have my own room- well and truly worth the money.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Greetings from Vienna Austria

Thanks so much for your comments, Room 5. Congratulations to those who have done well in Maths- pleasing results be proud of yourselves.

Today I did a city and sites tour around Vienna. We went to Johan Strauss' house where he was brought up. He is a famous composer who composed the Waltz. Go onto You Tube, and have a listen. It's a well known track, used in advertising as a backing track.

We also visited this area which had beautiful buildings. It was known as the Winter Palace / Imperial Palace. It stores the white horses that are used for performances. The horses are actually born black, but turn white over time.

I have been pacing myself at the moment Mum and Dad. I'm not exhausted yet. Just keep going and going. We do have some down time, which I write post cards and update the blog in between times. The nights out have been wonderful and atmospheric. A great way to explore and learn about the culture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Greetings from Venice, Italy

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your messages especially Quaid and Aryan who commented on my last post. Thanks so much for your lovely letters Room 5, I enjoyed reading them. By now you should have received a post card from London and one should be on the way from Pisa Italy.
Soon you will be on holiday, so keep putting in your best effort into your work and aim very hard to get your work finished before next Friday. I am looking forward to seeing you all in a months time.

Today I was in Venice. Venice is famous for St Marks Square and the Basilica. Today we went to a glass blowing factory, where they made all kinds of glasses, vases, jewellery and ornaments. The glass blowing was fascinating to look at. The guy made a Vase. After this the man took us into the sales room. He introduced us to the glasses and wine glasses they made. These were very expensive and I thought not suitable for me. Then he pulled out a tray for the ladies which was full of Venetian glass necklaces and matching earrings. I bought a pair of earrings with a matching necklace. More of a purple/pink colour which suits me. So far I have been pleased with the souvenirs I have picked up as they have been locally made. I've been mist impressed.

After this we window shopped around St Marks Square. Then at 11:15am we met Truus our tour director and she took us to the Gondolars. It was fun going through the canals. The tour director grouped the young ones together, which was great and she organized each group to have a bottle of champaign each to make the trip even more memorable.

After this I did some independent site seeing on my own. I went to the oldest cafe in Venice to have lunch. The cafe was called the Florian. It was expensive, but I had the cheapest thing off the menu which kind of reminded me of home: a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. I had a hot chocolate to go with it. I had it sitting down inside their beautiful dining area as there was a lot of beautiful art on the walls. I was prepared to pay to have lunch sitting down and to have a toilet stop. In parts of Europe you have to pay to use the toilets, so going to the Florian Cafe, I could kill two bird with one stone. I really loved how men in white jackets served you and how formal it was.

After this I bought a Gelato across from Square. Today it was high tide and the water came up from under the cobble stones at St Marks Square. It was amazing how puddles appeared from no where then the square became flooded. Luckily there were platforms people could walk along.

After this I took an excursion to an island called Burano. This island had these cute brightly colored properties along this lagoon. This area is famous for lace making. I bought a table cloth for the flat and some matching napkins for 42 Euros. The table cloth is machine made, but is machine washable which is handy. Beautiful table cloths. Another great day out and yes I think I am sold on Venice as well. It's Shoppers Paradise I have discovered and yes I have purchased a medium sized Venetian Mask. It is jester shaped with bells on on with lots of red and gold glittery paint. It is made in Italy and is ceramic. Can't wait to hang it up in the flat. When I get back my flat will have a taste if Europe in it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Greetings from San Marino Italy

Hi everyone,

Today I spent the day on the ferry traveling from Patras Greece to San Marino Italy. It has been a relaxing day-catching up on lost sleep, finishing reading my book and generally taking things easy.

I am having a great time. I have arrived in San Marino. I am staying up on a hill over looking San Marino. San Marino is a little village type area. Tomorrow morning first thing we will be independently explore San Marino. I want to climb to the top of the village hills and take photographs of these landmarks which show up beautifully at night. We only have three hours here until we go off to Venice. It will be about a 300km ride.

Better end this. Off to bed now.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Greetings from Patras

Hi everyone,

I have managed to find my iPod. It was tucked away on the bus. I have to say it was my fault- I put it down to tiredness, and being a little on edge/ vigellent over our possessions. It was not in the netting area where I thought I had placed it, it was in between the table tray and the seat in front of me. The confusing thing is that we rotate seats every day depending on what side we are on - 2 forward or 2 back.

I feel I just need to relax a bit, take my time packing up, rather than rushing.
You live and learn.

Today I am going on an overnight cruise to San Marino, back to Italy. Greece was a fun place to visit. The Greek food was delicious and full of flavor. The Greek people were very friendly and seemed to be more fluent in English.

This morning visited the Acropolis and the Pathenon. These were amazing landmarks of Athens. I visited the Olympic Stadium which was built in 1896. We also went to Government house and saw the changing of the Guard. I have to say that I am pleased I visited Greece, but simply loved the Greek Cruise I took yesterday. I would love to explore the islands more. They were beautiful, so relaxing and safe.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Greetings from Greece

Today I took an Aegean Cruise to explore three of the Greek Islands. These islands were: Poros, Hydris and Argina. The cruise was for twelve hours. I loved this cruise as I got to see the small islands which looked loved and cared for. My favorite island was Hydris, as there were donkey rides through the village. There weren't many donkeys so I went on a horse through the village with it's owner guiding it. I had a member of my tour group do this with me. The horse was lovely and knew exactly where to go and was very relaxed. Then I walked down to the ocean area and saw some of my group swimming in the ocean. I didn't go swimming as I didn't feel comfortable swimming in the deep water without a life jacket/belt.

The Greek Islands are beautiful. When you get out of Athens you really do appreciate what Greece has to offer. Each island was different. At Argena I chose the bus tour around the island. I visited an excavated temple built around 400BC and a Greek Orthodox Church. The art in the church was amazing. Took lots of photos.

I have to say the people in Greece are very friendly. One thing that has really upset me at my hotel is my dear and darling iPod has gone from my room. My iPod is my relaxant and blocks a lot of noise on the plane. Yesterday after I checked in I left it on the table while I waited for my luggage. I decided to get some groceries. When I came back, my suitcase was in my room, but today I turned my suitcase, day pack, room upside down and it's not there. So annoying but lesson learnt. I miss it horribly, but worse things happen. Glad it's not my money, bank cards, passport taken. An iPod can be replaced.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Greetings from Athens Greece

Hi everyone,

I have just arrived to Athens Greece, which was a four hour drive from Olympia. Athens is a very sad derilect place at the moment, due to the political corruption. There are half built buildings, buildings which have been vandalized and nicely maintained buildings. There is a lot of rubbish everywhere. My room balcony looks out to a roof full of rubbish.

I am looking forward to getting out of the city and going on my harbor cruise tomorrow around three Greek Islands.
Unfortunately we are not going to Santorini the most photographed island with the white buildings and blue ocean. But I am sure the other islands are just as good. I am finding that when you get out of a busy city, the places of interest are better and much more scenic.

Yesterday we arrived to Olympia. Olympia is a small village area famous for the Ancient Greek Olympics. This area of Greece was easy to get around. There were lots of souvenir shops and it was very safe. I bought a pashmina Greek scarf with the traditional Greek artwork on. The art work means eternity, ever lasting.

This morning I did the archeological site tour. It was very interesting because we got to see the remains of the temples, stadium, race tracks, swimming pool, etc. After this tour I found a post office and sent two large parcels of souvenirs back to New Zealand. Postal facilities are very hard to find here. Stamp shops are a mission, postal shops are even more of a mission. After I posted my parcel I bought these gold earrings in the traditional Greek pattern.

Tonight I am going to a flavors of Athens Dinner with my tour group. I am enjoying the dinners out and I have a great tour group. If I need anything from the supermarket we go together as a group. We all tend to look out for each other and the group is very inclusive.

Food prices in Greece are very cheap:
Today I bought:
A bunch of grapes
2 bananas
2 peaches
1.5 litre bottle of water

In total I paid 2 Euros and 15 cents.
Very cheap, but I wonder whether there was any tax I paid on these goods.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Greetings from the Adriatic Sea

Hi everyone,

I am now on a ferry sailing to Greece. The ferry has everything: a Casino, 2 restaurants, a swimming pool, ATM machine and WIFI. Today we had an early start and had to get up at 5:15am to leave the hotel at 6:45am. We had a five hour bus ride to get to the ferry terminal on time. From there we caught the 1:00pm ferry. It was running late so we left around 3pm.

Tonight I have to share a room with another solo traveller. I was put with somebody who snores, but I complained and negotiated to be put with someone who does not snore. I am sharing with a 76 year old Canadian lady. She is very kind and thought it would be nice to open a bottle of wine when we got to the cabin. Everything was going well until we had the wine. After a few mouthfuls I felt queasy and needed food. She had a lot more than me and needed help to her room after the first hour. When I went back to the cabin I found out that the wine had 38% alcohol and I am certain it was spirits she picked up. I am fine at the moment and my room mate is just resting in the room. All I can say is that it pays to read the labels.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Greetings from Rome

Hi everyone,

This is going to be a short posting as we have to be up early tomorrow at 5:15am wake up, as we are catching the ferry to Greece. I've set the timer for 4:45am so I can have my shower, pack everything and make sure I have everything in my over night bag. I am looking forward to visiting Greece and it sure will be a high light of my tour.

These last two days have been historical ones. Yesterday morning we drove from Sorrento to the City of Pompeii. This was a very interesting site, as it showed how the Romans lived in the past. Living was extremely rough. After visiting Pompeii we drove to Rome. Rome is famous for the leader of the Catholic Church-Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict lives in Rome and a lot of his speeches ate filmed in Rome.

Today I visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. We had a guide called Christine and she showed us round. Did you know that Michael Angelo painted ceiling and surroundings of the Sistine Chapel. Michael Angelo's speciality was in creating sculptures but his first ever painting was done at the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling paintings in the Sistine Chapel told stories from the bible and the characters were painted in such a way that they looked like they were in 3D.

We also walked through this Tapestry room, which the tapestries told biblical stories. They were so fine and delicate. After this we went to the Basilica. Inside the Basilica Cathedral the artwork was done in Mosaic. We were allowed to take photos as the camera flash does not affect Mosaic Artwork.

After this we went to the Coloseium. The Colloseium was used for productions. It was a bit like an outdoor theatre. It was very interesting to climb up the top and to look down.

In Italy I have noticed the temperature is a lot higher. Most people have siestas in the afternoon from 1-4pm. A siesta is having an afternoon sleep/rest, as the weather is so hot this time of day. Retailers close shop at this time, go home and sleep. Then after 4pm retailer re-open shop and continue to work until 9pm at night.

Dinner times are interesting here. Most of the Italians have dinner between 8 - 10 pm. It is mainly light. Lunch is to be seen as the big meal of the day.

Tomorrow I am off to Greece. I am not sure whether the ferry will have Wifi. So Internet maybe out for a few days. Looking forward to visiting Greece. On Wednesday I am doing a cruise round the Greek Islands.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Greetings from Sorrento, Italy

Hi everyone,
I am simply loving Italy. I love the warm weather, the food and the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Yesterday we Took a city and sites tour around Florence. At every city we stop off we get a local guide from that area who speaks English and takes us around the city. Its very well organized. We combine the tour with a bit of bus travel as well.

After this we met Truus the tour director and she took us to a leather jacket shop in Florence. It had more than leather jackets. It had shoes, wallets, belts and it offered free engraving on all leather goods.

This was a genuine Italian leather store and the leather was treated. In Italy there are a lot of counterfeit goods sold on the streets in down town Florence. There are a lot of guys selling fake imitation paintings. If you the tourist gets caught purchasing a painting from these guys you get fined heavily by the police.

When these guys see the police coming they escape very quickly and not be seen until after the police have gone. There are a lot of beggars in your face here- more in the way of female women wanting money. They look poor but they are very good at playing the game.
There was a pregnant woman going round each of us wanting money while we were listening to the guide. An hour later she was seen smoking.

While I was in Florence I purchased a leather jacket. I thought it was a good investment as my black tailored coat is looking a bit shabby. It is very smart and I can dress it up and down. It is black and it will go with anything. It has a button front and is a bit like an anorak. It has two side pockets and a belt that I can wrap round if I wish. It is a classic style and wouldn't out date. I got a nice Italian guy serve me.
The jacket cost $334 Euros, which would be the equivalent to $560 NZ dollars.

After this we drove to Florence we went to Sorrento. Sorrento is a beautiful cliff top village. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.

Today I took a day trip to Capri. Capri is a beautiful sea side area which you have to get the ferry to take you there. The streets are extremely narrow here. We took a mini bus to Sorento, then caught the ferry to Capri. Capri is a touristy area. Nice food souvenir shops, restaurants. The guide took us round. Then we took the chair lift to the highest point of Capri and came down to the village area. We had lunch there. Then we took the bus round the bay area. The guide recommended us to do the boat cruise round the island. The boat ride was fabulous and we went through this cave.

The Young Italian commentator was very smooth. He took a real liking for me out of all people. Probably because I was the younger one in my tour group doing harbor cruise.
There was a lot of banter in my group over the Italian man. All good.

Must go, going to a traditional Italian Dinner tonight.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Greetings from Florence Italy

Today we made the drive from Nice to Florence. It was a 690km drive. The drive was lovely. The villages look amazing in the country side. Hardly any animals here, the main product grown here are the grapes for wine. The houses are cottages, that look in their natural colour-more earthy tones - terra-cotta. Just like the movies.

Today we visited a perfume factory just outside of Nice. It was very nice. We got to see how the perfumes were made. Did you know they employ around 150 people to be the nose. These people create the perfumes and are not allowed to eat spices, garlic, or wear perfumes as this impacts on the actual perfume.
I bought some French perfume called Belle Cheerie. A sweet smelling perfume. If we bought the perfumes in bulk we would get a discounted rate. So I paired up with two others and I bought one perfume while the others bought four perfumes.

After this we spent some time driving and we crossed the Italy border. We stopped at a service station restaurant. Ordering at this place was absolute chaos. We first had to line up and order our food in Italian. Then we paid for it. After this they gave us a receipt. We then had to line up again, give the receipt to another person serving and then we got our food.

I had a piece of pizza. It was plain, just tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. It tasted good.

After a 1.5 hour drive, we arrived at a bus stop and took this kiddies road side train to Pisa. I took lots of photographs of this magnificent structure. I also went to a souvenir and bought a cushion cover of Pisa, a Pisa statue and some post cards.

I am now at the hotel and I am having an early night. The hotel in Florence is a bit rumpty-outdated and I've got a B Day in my bathroom. Tomorrow I am going to the Cestine Chapel. Looking forward to a day full of site seeing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Greetings from Nice

Hi all,
I have made it to Nice-a 690km ride from Barcelona Spain. I am at the hotel And I am going off with my tour group to Montecarlo. We will be driving along the French Riviera to see the Cathedral and the Royal Palace. We will also be stopping at the Casino and having dinner there. I have to say I love the French food here. Lots of flavored and colour.

Tomorrow we will be stopping off at a French perfumery. I am tempted to get some perfume as I am not sure when I will be back here. In the morning we head to Florence and will stop off at Pisa. In Italy we are going to an Italian leather jacket store-a department store. If there is something tailored in black I might just purchase one. Depending on price. I am enjoying my tour and today I paid for all of my optional excursions in cash which came to 1273 Euros. A lot of meals and entertainment are included in this price. I feel as the tours are being offered I am going to take every opportunity and do them. At the moment I am fine, buying bottled water every day, taking the 4.2's and watching what I'm eating. I am pleased I had some days in the USA and the UK before my tour. Some of the people in my tour group only had 2 days in the UK before the tour started. I feel you got to give your body lots of rest before starting an action packed tour. Some people in the group have had upset stomachs already and it is only day 6. Must go, off to Sorrento tomorrow. I just love these hotels in Europe they have free Wifi in the rooms.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Greetings from Barcelona Spain

Spain has definitely won me over. I would love to come back here again, there is so much to see and do here. I have to say I like it more than Paris. Paris wasn't a very clean city-lots of rubbish and dog droppings everywhere. Today I went to Montserrat which is a big mountain in Spain which has a monastery on top. The views were incredible and the scenery here is beautiful. It was like a village which housed monks and nuns in the past. It has become more like a tourist attractions where you could look inside the church, chapels, outside areas.

One thing I love about Barcelona is the Spanish archetexture-mainly by Gaudi. There are patterns on buildings, some in a mosaic pattern. This morning we went on a city and sites tour and stopped off at this Catholic Church. The church is having work done to it. On this church there are statues on the church building which depict biblical stories such as the last supper, the nativity scene, the crucifiction, etc. It also has a sudoku showing numbers adding to 33- the age Jesus Christ died. I have never seen a church with statues on the outside before telling a story- all I can say is that the churches are a bit like maraes. As the art tells a story. We also drove past the 1992 Olympic Village up to this vantage point where we had panoramic views over looking Barcelona. It was a lovely place. Shortly after this we went through the Marina area and Catalona Square- the city area. The marina has beautiful beaches where the Mediterranean sea runs through. The weather is much warmer and today out of all days I am wearing my shorts-first day in my holiday.

In downtown Barcelona there are a lot if cute villages which incorporate old and new buildings. In the past horses use to be ridden through alleyways which linked to the villages. At the villages there are beautiful statues and gargoyles sticking out from buildings. A lot of artwork has a religious element such as the twelve Apostles.

Tonight I went to a Flamenco Show. It was different but I like the French Cabaret more. The Flamenco Dancers danced with lots of emotion and tended to stamp their feet and clapped in time with music. The dancers tended to compete against each other with the stamping of feet. It got rather monotonous after a while. But I am pleased I went to the show. Must get some sleep. Up at 5:30am tomorrow -heading to the French Riviera. Traveling another 600km's.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Greetings from Barcelona Spain

Hi everyone,
I have made it to Barcelona Spain. We left the hotel at 8:45am this morning and got here at 5:30pm. We had a one hour lunch break and a few toilet stops along the way. Today I had an interesting experience going to the toilet. We had to squat and pee down this hole. It was the most revolting experience and being a beginner at this my aim wasn't good. I wished I had taken off my cargo pants. A few sprinkles got on me and I have been feeling grubby all day from this educational intrepid experience. Also no toilet paper either. Luckily my Kleenix tissues I keep in my pocket have been very useful for other things.

Today has been a long day traveling from Bordeaux-south of France to Barcelona Spain. The ride was very scenic. There aren't the animals here on the fields. There is mainly grape vines for wine making and paddocks full of sun flowers. The sun flowers are used for making oil. The villages look beautiful and there is always a church in a village.

During the journey we stopped of at a castle called Carcassonne. This is an open air castle which has villages inside. I loved visiting this place as it was small and reasonably easy to get around. I bought a French apple tart and a baguette with lettuce, tomato and Brie cheese. The cheese is to die for here. Love it. At the village I saw beautiful handcrafts and I bought a table cloth for 12 Euro. It is for a round table 180x180cm. I hope it's not too big for my table, but it was the smallest for the round table cloths. I also went by the diagrams and number of chairs and this appeared to have 2-4 chairs-hard when you are away from home picturing my table. The table cloth has a nice lavender pattern, quite classy with a bit of gold. I know I wouldn't get this at home. It's quite amusing so far: I have bought oven gloves from Harrodsburg in London and a table cloth in the South of France. I sure have the kitchen theme at the moment. I also bought a french overnight bag
for when I go to Greece and sleep on the ferry. Will take my school bag and overnight bag with me. Today I also booked the rest of my optional excursions. I have decided to do all of them. It seems a lot of the cities have pick pocketers in them and I feel it is worth peace of mind to go out on an excursion in a group rather than exploring a busy city on my own. The optional excursion will cost me 1316 Euro which includes some dinners, entertainment, cultural festivities, cruises, visits to cathedrals, museums and palaces. Got to make the most of it. I think if I came here again I would probably take more cash with me than using a debit card. The warnings I have had from people are that you have to be extremely where you withdraw money from, there are skimmers here, pick pocketers here. Observe the area first. The card is a bit of a pain. I have mainly withdrawn money from the small village stops rather than in big cities. All good here, loving the food, champaign and having my own room at the end of the day to go to. The single supplement has been worth it. Must go and check out the swimming pool at the hotel. Looks flash.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Greetings from the South of France

Hi everyone,
It has been a long day-600km's from downtown Paris to Bordeaux the South of France. On the way to Bordeaux we stopped at a market. It was lovely, the market sold fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, sausages. At one of the markets there a beautiful goat and the owner was into selling cough lollies and cheap toys. We were all interested in the goat patting him. At the market i bought these macaroons. There were lots of different flavours to choose from, such as: strawberry, orange and chocolate, caramel, citrus, lemon, etc. I managed to go to the ATM machine while I was there and yes it was in English. A lot of these ATM machines have a maximum rate that you can withdraw from. My tour director said 750 Euros from the machine. Food is reasonably priced here. The majority of the tour group went to McDonalds for lunch. At McDonalds I had a chicken and bacon burger combo which was 7.50 Euros which would probably equate to the same at home. I am now at the hotel. It's in a slightly better area about 1.5kms from the centre of the city. I have to say the streets are not clean here, rubbish everywhere but no rubbish bins. I am going off to dinner shortly to try some more French cuisine. The champaign is beautiful here, very sweet without the horrible after taste. I am sleeping very well here. I have decided to do most of the optional excursions that my tour is offering. You only live once and I'm a long way home. I was told that if I paid through VISA that I would get the bill in two months time, which I would well and truly be back at work. Will aim to pay for everything in cash but if the worst came to the worst there is the credit card. Was told today it was Fathers Day. So Happy Fathers Day Dad, I hope you had a great day. I hope to fly down to Christchurch for Labour Day weekend if there are any cheap fares.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Greetings from Paris

Hi everyone,
Today is my last day in Central Paris. Today I am going to Bordeaux which is 600km's out of central Paris. Here are some facts I found out about Paris:
The Eifel tower was built in 1889.
It was planned to be built in Barcelona. It takes 60-70 gallons of paint to paint the Eifel tower.
Last night we had a welcome dinner in the tour group. It was amazing. When we walked to the restaurant it was like going into a cave. We had to walk downstairs and the restaurant looked like something during medieval times. We all sat along a long table with these high wine colored chairs. We had a five course meal. The first course I had was French onion soup. The Australians beside me had frogs legs and snails. They kindly offered me a sample of their food. The frogs legs tasted like chicken and fish. The frogs legs had a texture like chicken but had a very strong fishy after taste. Glad I didn't order them. The snails tasted ok. They had a very strong garlic flavor.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Greetings from Paris

Hi all,
I am safe and well. Yesterday I started my tour. I met my group at the Kensington Close Hotel in Kensington London. There are a wide range of age groups- I'm not the youngest, LOL. The majority of the people of my group are Australians, 1 American, 1 Canadian and one New Zealander which is myself. There are a number solo transports which is great and we are on the same floor of the hotel. I have made a friend on my tour whom I've been hanging out with. Her name is Wendy and she is a solo traveller too and last night we had dinner at the hotel. Wendy is from Australia but lives at Waiheke Island. Very close to home. My tour group are very friendly and easy to make conversation too. There is a bit of banter between me and this Australian which is great.

The hotel is very nice and has free WIFI. It is in a dodgy area of Paris. There graffiti all around the area. When you go outside there are people whom you're not sure what their hidden agenda is. Yesterday I just walked across the road and bought some bottled water and some fruit. You just do your business and go back to your room. We have been warned about these professional pick pocketers that can sneakily steal from bags, pockets etc. You need eyes in the back of your head here. One of the travellers had her wallet taken from her bag at the train station-that would be a ruination to a holiday.

These aspects happen in big cities, where there is poverty. On the bright side I am enjoying Paris. Today I visited the Eifel Tower, saw the Arc de Triumph and went to Vasai-spelling. It is a palace about 1.5 hours from the city centre. The palace was simply beautiful inside. The artwork on the ceiling leaves you breathless. I took heaps of photos. The gardens outside the palace were simply amazing. Loved the gardens as much as the palace.

During today we went to the Notre Damm Cathedral. The stain glass windows were beautiful. Lots of collie and intricacy. Lots of character in the cathedral-a bit like the St James Cathedral in London. You could look at the artwork for hours. Tonight I am going to a five course welcome dinner. It will be five courses of French cuisine. Last night I had a burger at the hotel. They asked me how I would like the meat I said medium to well done. The meat was cooked but more on the pink side, but no blood what's so ever. 24 hours later I'm fine, no repercussions. Nicely presented. They do have this thing about well done meat.

Last night I went to a Paris cabaret show. It was a little raunchy, but loved the costumes, lighting and the variety of performances. Got a glass of champaign which was beautiful, nice and bubbly. Slept very well afterwards. Got back to the hotel at 12:20am. I look forward to seeing more shows in other countries on my tour.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Greetings from London

Hi everyone,
Today I am starting my tour, it is very well organized and I met a representative from Cosmos yesterday. I have enjoyed visiting London, great landmarks, food and excellent shops. Took my brother Mark to have afternoon tea at Harrods yesterday. We had a plate of scones-2 scones. They were nicely presented with flavorsome strawberry jam, rose gin jam and clotted cream. The clotted cream reminded me of the butter filling you put in sponge cakes. Had the same sort of texture.
Harrods is an amazing department store. I bought an oven glove which I needed with Harrods on it. A great souvenir. Every room was different with colour and themes. During the day we went to see the Princess Diana memorial area. I think it is nice. It is a round shaped fountain in which you can paddle in-dip your hands and feet into. It's a bit like a whirl pool- a miniature hydro slide for rubber duckies. I think it would be cool to let off 100 rubber duckies through the memorial.

Mark also took me to the National Gallery. The National Gallery was very good-lots of very fine oil paintings. The art was very much the same, it was ok but I think the Tate Modern is more me. I tend to go for more contemporary art, which breaks tradition, lots of colour and something made outside the square, which adds the wow factor that leaves you thinking fancy making.... Out of....

I don't think London is the city for me, too many people, very cosmopolitan and the Tube maps are not the easiest to read, weather is unpredictable. I still haven't got my head around them yet. I think I like the quieter life style such as Manchester and Liverpool-much easier to get around, and friendly people at train stations. I love the face to face contact and having the reassurance I am taking the right train to my destination.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Greetings from London

Hi everyone,
Thanks so much for your messages. I am having a fabulous time. On Monday I had to say goodbye to my great aunt. It was hard as she is 94 years old and I am not sure when I will be seeing her again. She was very kind and would not let me pay for any of the bought mid day lunches out. She was a very sweet lady who would after you, a bit like a grandmother. From her place in Rain Hill I caught the train to Liverpool. From Liverpool I caught the train to Euston Station London. My brother Mark was there to meet me. He then took me to his favorite English pub which served Thai food. I was hesitant about trying the food out, but the food was mild, no early morning side effects. At the pub I met Marks fiancée Aurelia. She is from Lithuania. She is very kind and hospitable. We get along famously well. Yesterday she had the day off and she took me around the sites: bucking ham Palace, Picadilly Circus, green park, St James Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral, embankment area, traffalgar Square, and the Big Ben area. The weather was great-lovely and warm. Today I am doing a hop on and hop off tour. I am in Picadilly at a pub having a late lunch. I'm on my own. It is raining rather heavily outside. I am meant to be doing a London Eye tour-ferris wheel thing, but the weather has turned. I'm thinking in doing this tour after my holiday around Europe. I've got some time in London after my tour. Today I did a harbor cruise along the Thames River. It was great. Then I got the bus to take me to Hyde Park. I wanted to see Princess Diana's Memorial garden. Then it just poured down with rain as I was walking through. I never actually got to see the memorial, as I was walking towards it. There's always tomorrow . On Friday I start a new adventure-my tour around Europe. Looking forward to it. The trains here are bit of an education here. I am starting to get my head around them. So many lines, a bit like spaghetti.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Greetings from Liverpool

Hi everyone,

I am having a great time in the United Kingdom. Yesterday my brother met me at my hotel and we walked to the central Manchester Train Station. From there we caught the train to Rain Hill where my Great Aunt lives. It's about 20 minutes away on train from Manchester to Liverpool. It's amazing the unique houses that are just like Coronation Street in Manchester. It was lovely catching up with her. She took Mark and I to the pub called the Victoria Pub in her little village. We all had the English favorite Bangers and Mash. I quite enjoyed having a mid day meal. After lunch Mark went back to Manchester and then through to London while I stayed with my Great Aunt. Today I have relatively taken it easy. I spent this morning with my great Aunt and then this afternoon I took the train Liverpool. I went to the Beatles Museum. Liverpool is famous for the Beatles, as this the area where all four Beatles came from. It was a great Museum and it was an audio tour, where you listened to someone narrate at each numbered stop at the Museum. There is a second Museum to go to which I will quickly go to. It is just along from this museum on the Beatles. I am also going to buy a train ticket from Liverpool to Euston Station for tomorrow. Trains are not so frequent on Sundays. I have to get the Manchester-Victoria train as this goes via Rain Hill. I'm aiming to get back around 6:00pm as I don't want my great Aunt worrying about me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Greetings from Manchester England

Yes I have made it to Manchester England. The flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt was 10.5 hours. Then I had to wait around Frankfurt airport for about three hours and then the flight from Frankfurt to Manchester was 1.5 hours. It has been a very long day. I had no issues at Frankfurt airport as the signs were in English and German. The security and hospitality staff spoke good English and there were Information people on hand who spoke English. I found Frankfurt airport to be extremely organized and easy to get around. The terminals were upstairs, but it was time to go onto the plane we had to go down stairs to meet a bus and the bus took us to our plane. Security is very similar to NZ domestic security in Frankfurt. Transferring flights were easy as those who had connecting flights were told to go to one end of the airport and those who were residents told to go to the other end. Much better than the San Francisco Airport as the day that I arrived due to the crowds of people getting off planes, those who had connecting flights missed them due to the hassles of security. Well I better end, feeling exhausted but took the no jet lag homeo botanical tablets so it will be interesting whether I will be dozing off at Aunty Mays. Tomorrow is the big day. I am so pleased I bought this iPad. I would like to make a few movies of my time with Aunty May and Mark. The iPad has really good camera definition. Must go and get a light dinner.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Goodbye San Francisco

Hi everyone, well in a few hous time my UK adventure will about to begin. I am at San Francisco airport waiting for my plane to take me to Frankfurt Germany and then from there I will head to Manchester. I have simply loved my time in San Francisco. Yesterday I had some retail therapy and bought some Levi's and some Nike shoes. Labels are cheap here and I love how their are jeans made for the short person. I have posted these goodies back to NZ. San Francisco has been more on the cold side and on Monday I had to buy a hood. My jacket surprisingly enough wasn't warm enough. I mainly packed clothes for a summer holiday. I can see why San Francisco polar fleece jumpers are popular here. On Monday I caught up with Alissa -Patricia's daughter. It was lovely to catch up with her another kiwi over dinner. We dinner at a restaurant in Union Square. I filled her in on the news back home. Well that's about all the news from me. Hope all is going well in NZ. A new country, a new adventure is about to begin. This time it'll be of an adventure of places to see and people to meet. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Greetings from San Francisco

Wahoo, got my iPod touch working. I honestly don't know what happened to it. I took it to the Apple store in Union Square where they have technical support. In the end we just restored to it's original shop settings. I've lost my personal settings eg. Contacts but the majority of them are on my iPhone-not a loss really. While I was there I bought an iPad. It just has WIFI no extra cellular input. I feel I don't want to invest in contracts, I have my phone for that. The Apple Store people went step by step with me. Bought the proper casing. It cost $499 with the latest retina display unit. It also has great camera definition. I also continued my hop on hop off tour.I went and saw these beautiful Victorian Houses called the Painted Ladies. I wanted to see them the last time but the tour driver didn't go near them. I also walked along the golden gate bridge. I just this place. At the moment I am eating Marguretta Pizza in the Italian area of San Francisco. I will be sorry to leave this place, but looking forward to the next big adventure- the UK and Europe

Testing out my restored iPod touch

Hope this works, iPod Touch is back to the original shop settings. Went to Yosmite National Park yesterday. The trip was breath taking. Yosmite reminds me of the Canadian Rockies, Hanmer Springs and the West Coast all rolled into one. There was a free hop on and hop off shuttle that took you round to the different bushwalks.mum and Dad you would love this and it is an absolute must do if you're in San Francisco. The drive was 14 hours. I left the hotel at 6:30am and got back about ten o'clock. We only spent 2.5 hours at Yosemite. Yosemite is famous for rock climbing. It's more of a status thing if you have achieved climbing to the top of Yosemite.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Greetings everyone

This afternoon I thought I would check out the Apple Store to see how much iPads are. I can get the latest 16GB iPad with a retina display screen for $629.99. I am tempted to get one and it has a sim card option so that if I am Overseas I can insert a sim card and have internet access every where I go. I have made a booking with the Apple people to check out my iPod Touch on Wednesday morning. A real mystery, as it was working at home and it worked in Hawaii over the January holidays. I am enjoying my time in San Francisco. I am staying at a posh hotel in Union Square. I haven't stayed in a posh hotel as flash as this before, but my travel agent got a good deal for me, in which my fourth night is free. The hotel has beautiful chandaliers and has a gold leaf trimmed ceiling in the lobby. There's lots of marble in the rooms and there are about four restaurants at the hotel to choose from. I am spoilt for choice. The other night I had a three chourse dinner for $39.00. I got an entree, starter and desert. It was very much like a Masterchef meal. Beautifully presented and I got vegetables on my plate. My entree was a green salad served with a ginger pears and peacan nuts, the main was lemon chicken with rice and corn, baby carrots, brocolli and asparagus. The desert was creme brulee. It was a lovely meal, plus I got a drink thrown in as well as some bread to start the meal off. I had my dinner at the Oak room restaurant at the hotel. It is so handy having restaurant facilities here. My hotel is one block up from the Stratford hotel-where we stayed the last time Mum and Dad. It's close to Macy's and the Cheese cake factory restaurant. I have had a ride on one of the San Francisco cable cars. It's really awesome going down hill. Love the adenalin rush!!! Must go. Got three minutes on the computer. Meeting up with Patricia's daughter tonight. Another New Zealander. Looking forward to catching up.

Greetings from San Francisco

Hi everyone and a special thank you to my children in Room 5. I loved reading your messages last night. Today I went to the California Academy of Sciences Museum. It was very educational and lots of hands on exhibits. I got to touch bald python snake. They had an Earthquake exhibit. San Franciscois prone to Earthquakes. Did you know the 1906 quake killed 3000 people and fire destroyed most of the city. The earthquake that happened in 1989 killed only 67 people, yet left a lot of people injured. I also did a hop and hop off tour. I walked down the steepest and crookedest street- Lombard st. Unfortunately my bus was a long way a way that I decided to walk back to my hotel which took about an hour. The streets here are very steep, definitely got my exercise today. Climbed up a lot of hills felt safe. San Francisco has definitely cleaned up it's act since the last time I was here. The homeless people are not so scattered, they're there but there is a lot more security around telling these people to go away. Tomorrow I am off to Yosemite National Park. A fun with nature sort of day. On Wednesday I am thinking in buying an iPad and then continuing my hop on hop off tour. Want to walk across the harbor bridge which takes an hour, want to see these Victorian houses called the Painted Ladies in Alimo Square. iPads are cheap here about $399 for a 16gb 3 g model. All good here. My iPod touch is playing up big time here, using my iPhone only got 100mbs plan. When in the UK will investigate getting a Sim Card with an Internet plan.

Greetings from San Francisco

Today I am going to the California Academy of Sciences Museum. I am using a hop on hop off bus to take me there. Thought it would be a great opportunity to get my bearings sorted. I have seen flags all over San Francisco advertising this place and there latest exhibition. Mum and Dad you probably wouldn't want to go to as the latest exhibit is on Earthquakes. San Francisco is famous for the earthquakes in 1906 and in 1989 . The one in 1906 destroyed most of the city which took 3000 lives. The city was destroyed by fire. It was interesting sitting on the bus as the driver said one half of the street taken out by fire while the other side remains in it's original form.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Third time lucky

At the Cheese cake Factory restaurant. Having a great time will write more if this works on my iPod Touch. Plane journey took 12 hours, and it took 2.5 hours to get through security and customs. Three plane loads of people only ten people on. Security had technical issues with the finger print equipment. Had above man serve me. Very quiet, must interested in flicking through the pages of my passport. It did this about 7 times. Had crying babies on board the plane iPods and music work well with ignoring the noise.

Greetings from San Francisco

Just to let you know I am safe and well. My iPod Touch is playing, not sure why. Using my iPhone. Went to the Muir Woods forest and Sausalito today. At Muir woods they had these cool brush walks with redwood trees. Quite pretty. Sausalito was great. It is an arty village area quite a bit like Devonportu and Akaroa. Doing fine. At fishermans Wharf at the moment. Weather is breezy not as warm as I thought.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Greetings from Oahu

Today was a pretty lazy sort of day. I think the tiredness of early starts has caught up with me. Last week I had four early starts ranging from 2am-7:00am to catch the tour buses, all worth it though. I went out to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre to fill in some time. I bought a black leather bag-more satchel type for when I go out with my cell phone and wallet. I also bought an iPhone cradle for the car as my one at the moment is rather flimsy so I went to the Apple Store. I also bought some Ralph Lauren Pyjamas. Great for those inbetween seasons. The top is black and the pants are tartan. Love the tartan. Yesterday I bought some Honolulu Cookies. Got a big supply to give to close friends and family when I get back. They are properly sealed so our begal friends at the airport don't drool over them. Counter feiting of money is rather rife here. When I give retailers a $50 or a $100 note they put a line on it. They use a special pen to determine if the money is real or fake. If the money is fake the felt tip line turns black if it is real the line is a golden brown colour. Mine is always golden brown. Photographs of the trip will go onto this blog when I get back. I've only taken my iPod Touch. School laptop is a little too precious and bulky to have an international experience. LOL.
Thanks Jay for commenting on this blog. I love reading your comments, mountain biking in Rotorua sounds tempting as I am a free woman without university study.
Well done Mum and Dad, you have picked up commenting well. All goods I have bought are genuine regarding clothing. The USA are pretty strict about that. Off to have a spa and then off to dinner. Peter is still working on the Waikiki Trolley. He has toned down his humor quite a bit. Still funny though. More Japanese visitors and tourists from Asia.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Greetings from Oahu


Sunrise at Haleakala




Well I have made it to Oahu. It took about 30 minutes to fly from Maui to Oahu. The transfer tickets /voucher tickets are working out beautifully. I had someone from Diamond Head Vacations meet kevin the arrivals area and gave me a lei. The lei's are made out of orchids here. I am just laying low here. I am feeling a little toured out. The hotel has a spa so I may soak up in it. My room is not ready yet so I am having a salad at McDonalds. Maui was fabulous. I was meaning to write earlier that I went to a show called Ulalena-- the story of Hawaii. It had a bit of singing, dancing and acrobatics work. Not the typical Hula or Tahitian dancers. The show was divided up into nine different scenes. It was very good and at the end of the show they did this behind the scenes talk, where you could take photos and ask questions. I sat beside this Canadian couple from British Columbia Canada-east Vancouver. They were very friendly and they were Brian and Jan. At the end of the show we picked up some photographs. I asked the guy where is your service counter as I would like a taxi to take me back to my hotel. Jan, Brian's wife said where are you stating? I told her The Royal Lahaina. She said we're going past there and we can take you back. I accepted the offer and left $20 on the seat for them as I left to say goodbye. My hotel was quite a way from the theatre and I didn't feel comfortable to catch the bus to Whalers Village and then the trolley back to my hotel. It is amazing the kind and generous people you meet when you are on holiday.

Yesterday I did the Haleakale-pronouced Ha-lee-a-kala to see the sunrise. Haleakale is is famous as a dorment volcano. In the bus, it climbs 10,024 feet. The tour bus picked me up at 2:55am. We drove for about 2 hours. The temperature is a lot cooler in Haleakale. We had to dress in warm clothes. The sun came out at 6:57am. The sunrise was simply amazing. More fiery in colour. Haleakale is in a National park and it is run by conservation workers. The conservation workers sang this Hawaaian song when the sun came out. There were lots of people. Last night when I was having dinner at the hotel at sunset these dancers did some sort of chant to light the gas sticks. They also danced. It was pretty cool.

Also the other night at the Basil Tomatoes Restaurant I got to try Fried Green Tomatoes. I think it was a special variety of tomato which is sweet. The tomatoes were covered in cornmeal and had freshly grated parmersan cheese over the top. There was some sort of bolognaise sauce without the meet which flavoured the tomatoes. They were very nice. Must go and see whether my room is ready.

Sunset in Maui



The Ulalena Concert in downtown Lahaina Maui

The Cast


Stilt walkers








Props from the concert.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Greetings from Maui




Today Thursday January 26th I went out snorkelling. I did a conducted tour and went out on a catamaran which is only 2.5 years old. We sailed out to Molokini a well known site for snorkelling and scuba diving. The name of the company was Allii Nui which meant to be served like a King or Queen. I certainly was treated well. I got picked from the hotel this morning and drove for 45 minutes. When we got there we were greeted by 8 guides who would look after us. They gave us a cooked breakfast and then we went out. The sail was about an hour. Then we were all given an optional vest to wear, a buoyant vest to wear and a waiste belt that would help with buoyancey, flippers, mask and those floatation noodles. I chose all of the equipment. I wasn't too bad when I got into the water. There were three staff members who helped us initially and there were steps from the boat that helped you enter the water. Once I had my gear on I just floated off the steps and looked at the beautiful tropical fish that were floating below. I paid to have a movie made of my experience and the lady filmed me under the water. The water was 78-79 degrees farenheight but was cold and warm in some areas. It was nice and relaxing. I was in the water for about 30-40 minutes. I was probably the last ten to get out. After this lunch was served. We had salad, sweet and sour chicken, bread rolls, carrots, celery, pineapple, mangos. It was sooo nice. During my lunch time I spoke to a lady and her kids who were from Calgary. I also spoke to a number of people from Minnisota. While we were sailing we saw lots of humpback whales. The whales come here from Alaska to mate. The male whales tend to compete against each other for the female whale. The whales do lots of tricks. Today we saw whales jumping out of the water wanting the female whales attention. It was very cool. The tour started at 8am and finished at 1pm. It was very organized and is a highlight to my holiday. I'm glad I did it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fun in Maui


At the highest point of Haleakala-10,023 feet above sea level.

Hi everyone, well it's been a few days since I was last on this site. I am staying in a beautiful resort which is in one of the older parts of Maui. Maui isn't so commercialized as Oahu but it still has a lot going for it. The resort has a number of restaurants on site. I have discovered this Italian restaurant called Basil Tomatoes which is rather pricey but cooks using it's plantation of tomatoes. The tomatoes are devine so sweet, juicy and flavoursome. At the resort there is a large area reserved for hotel guests. I have been into the beach water and it is lovely and warm. The beautiful swimming pool is cold, but there are lots of deck chairs out so you can read a good book. On Sunday I mainly had a day of relaxation. I went for a swim and paddled in the beach. Water up to waist. I walked along this beach board walk. It was lovely, beautiful scenery. On Monday I did a tour around Maui which went to the Haleakale National park, where there is dorment volcano there. Amazing views, as we had to drive up to the top. I then headed to the Ioa Needle at the Wailuku Park. It was very pretty, a lot like the West Coast of the South Island. The needle was in the shape of a mountain in which we had to climb to the top.




The down hill mountain bike ride

The actual bike. The frame is very sturdy and the guide told us it was made out of concrete.
The hand gesture (shuka), is what the Hawaiian's do which means hang lose.


Yesterday I did the downhill Mountain Bike ride. It was fantastic and so well organized I feeling nervous at the beginning but after speaking to these men I felt much better. The bikes were different from ordinary bikes. You could use your brakes all the way down. The brakes of the bikes were made in France and bike frames were made in New York. Each bike is worth $800. There were seven of us in the group and there a leader from the company that led us down as well as the company van. The driver and leader would communicate through walkie talkie. I cycled 27 miles. I felt sad giving the bike back as I loved the tour so much. The guys were great and took lots of photos.



Humpback Whales

Went whale watching this morning. Absolutely amazing got some close up pictures. Must go. In down town Lahaina. Bus leaving shortly, at a Starbucks cafe.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hi from Maui


The Royal Lahaina Resort where I stayed


The beach board walk from my hotel


The beach

Hi all, can't get free WIFI here using my iPhone. Using global roaming $$$. Will update blog on Friday your time. $9.95 all day for WIfI. Doing a few tours here. Not a shoppers paradise but more of a fun with nature holiday. Food is more expensive here being an island but is grown locally and tastes define especially the tomatoes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Maui here I come!!!

The bags packed the shuttles confirmed both ends Honolulu and Maui. It is about a good 30 minute plane ride. I am staying in the area of Lahaina. I have heard Maui isn't the place for shopping it is more of a relaxation place and a place for snorkelling. I wouldn't mind giving it a go providing there is a beginners level/area and that there are life jackets. I will make some enquiries without the free breakfast included-LOL. If I get offered that in Maui I am going to scream. I think Mr Vintage needs to invent some T.shirt regarding NO to free Time Share breakfasts and lunches. Must go down to reception and check out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 6: The Premium Outlet Centre

Before I forget the cost of an iPhone 4s is $560 plus 4.17 percent in taxes. An iPad is around $700-$800 depending on the number of gigabytes. We sure get ripped at home. Well the Premium outlet store is well and truly worth a visit. A lot of New Zealanders and Australians go to it. They have a whole of brands such as: Gucci, Sax Fifth Avenue, Guess, Samsonite, Levi, Tommy Hillfiger, Ralph Lauren, Addidas, etc. From Waikiki it is a good 45-60 minute bus ride but they have a shuttle which goes out to it departing from the Waikiki West.

Today I bought a top for graduation. I bought it from Sax Fifth Avenue and it is a v neck cashmere jumper with a little bit of lilac. I thought it would go nicely with my black pants as well as my pin stripe pants. Initially it was $168, then marked down to $68 and I got it for $53. I also bought another pair of Levi's for $31. I bought two Levi's shirts for $90. I bought three tops from Tommy Hillfiger. There were two perfume outlets that I could have bought labelled perfume from but I wasn't sure about taking liquids back into the country and if I posted them the question lie would they remain intact. I also bought two Addidas shirts that are made from that special fabric which dries quickly.

The food court wasn't best, but I bought an icecream in a cup. The ice cream was all dotty a bit like chocolate chips. The dots came in different flavours. I had banana split flavour. When you put the dots into your mouth they would melt like ice cream. While I was sitting on the bench a man in his sixties said can I sit with you. I have given my wife two hours to do shopping. I said yes that's fine. His name was Neil. Neil was born in Hawaii but lives in Japan in the American government base. He is a civil servant over there but is out on holiday having full medical treatment. He is a cancer survivor and was very interesting to talk. I have to say that if you are alone in the USA there is always someone that is keen to talk to you. Even in the shuttle I was sitting beside these university students who were from South Dacota. They eager to learn about New Zealand just as much as I was interested to learn about their state. They're in Hawaii because they are doing an assignment on cultural diversity on the native people. What a cool spot to do an assignment on.
One of the requirements for their degree is to gain a certain of credits in this area before they could graduate. One of the students was studying law and justice and the other student was studying English. At two thirty I took the shuttle back to the hotel. It took over an hour. The traffic was very busy. I was a little worried about not getting back before the post office closes. I got back at around 4:00pm. I went up to my hotel room and took the clothes out of their labelled bags. I put the new clothes into my school bag because I didn't want to ask for trouble. I then walked briskly to the post office. It is two blocks over from the Hard Rock Cafe. I got there at 4:25pm. Just made it. My new clothes are on there way to New Zealand.

Well as I didn't have much to eat for lunch I am off to dinner. I have built some appetite. One things for sure, I'm not bloated. I may have a
spa later. Well tonight is my last night in Oahu. Tomorrow I am off to Maui. I hope the hotel has WIFI

Day 6: Premium Outlet Centre

After speaking to a whole lot of people I thought I would go and check out the Premium Outlet Centre-a place similar to Dressmart. I find something for graduation or find some Levi jeans. As it is early in the morning I will answer some of your questions:

I haven't seen Flip Cameras being sold in Oahu, Jay. I did hear they were phasing them out. So mine might be valuable in 50 years time!!! LOL.
There is a website on flip cameras: flip.com
Will be checking an Apple store tonight. I am curious to know how much iPhones and iPads are being sold here.

The Ohana East is one block north of the Ohana West. It is opposite the KFC and that centre where they have those militant soldiers that have the brass band and drums.

Time Share: it seems as though every person who ask about direstions and tours tries to set me up with a free breakfast and says that they will take $100 off my tours. During my stay I have been asked five times. I am getting sick of it. The first thing I get asked is: are you travelling alone? And are you over the age of 28?

Last night I said to the guy at the desk, if you are to get me to go along to a Time Share presentation I am not interested. I have not travelled 10.5 hours to listen to someone's sales pitch. I said this type of advertising cheapens your hotel and ruins this hotels reputation. The guy and said: there's no such thing as a free breakfast, huh?
I then said my holiday time is way too precious.

Day 6: Sailing Day


Today I did my submarine tour and dinner cruise along the harbour. The first thing I did this morning was to walk to the post office. There is one at Fort De Rossi Park-about 15 minutes walk from the hotel. I thought I would have a light suitcase for my trip to Maui. The postage was express and I paid $57 for it. Not too bad considering the amount of new clothes in it. After this I had a mango, pinapple and banana smoothie on the main street. Then I went back to the hotel for a quick break. Then at 12pm I went to the Hyatt Regency to wait for my submarine trolley. During my wait I was chatting to a Canadian lady from Saskatchewan. I've a lot of Saskatchewan people here today. I think half of Saskatchewan is here. Once my trolley bus arrived we headed out to Pier 6, by the Hilton Hotel. When the boat arrived we were told that there were a few swells in the water. They said that if you suffer from motion sickness they were selling these tablets for $3. I bought some and they worked. The worst part was when the boat had stopped waiting for the submarine to come up. The tour started on a normal boat. Then we went out to sea. It was when we were waiting to be transferred that I felt queasy and stomach churning. I think if I didn't have the tablets I may not have have seen any sea turtles or tropical fish. The submarine wasn't as bad as I thought. It was an Atlantis Submarine that was made in Britain and it was 65 seater.

We went as far down as 94 feet and we could see the coral right at the bottom of the ocean. There were quite a few tropical fish-little babies. We even saw a giant turtle swimming. The water was a little murky today. After the submarine experience I got dropped off at the hotel one street away. I walked to Subway which is on the same street as me. I had a six inch sub to keep me going. Then at 4:30pm I got picked up to go to my Dinner harbour cruise. We sailed from Downtown Honolulu and sailed to Diamond head and back. I was sitting next to these four Americans. One of the couples came from California and the other couple came from New York. They were interesting to talk to. I found out lots about New York and Manhatten is the place to go to see shows and visit the Empire State building and to see the Empire State Building. I'm sold on New York it's definitely on my bucket list.

There was lots of entertainment.
Diamond Head in the background







Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 5: Talk to the animals









Today I got a call from the submarine company that the tour was cancelled so I have re-booked for tomorrow. Today I had my tour guides out and decided to go to Waikiki Aquarium. The aquarium was up the road from the zoo, so I just walked from my hotel. When I got to the aquarium I was given this phone receiver and it was a commentary on all of the exhibits. The exhibits were numbered and so you just pressed the number on you receiver. There were lots of colourful tropical fish and algae. They also had this cute tropical fish movie advising how to look after the beaches and taking care when out snorkelling. As the fishes mouths moved human voices would give the rules.
This was all inside. Then I went and saw the sea lions outside. There was a film crew there and the manager of the aquarium. The sealion went right up to the class. I heard the manager say that this sealion is partially blind and was rescued. He was a very cute sea lion.

After this I walked to the zoo. I spent about three hours at the zoo. There is a new elephant enclosure for the two elephants. I was watching the news last night and the animal rights activists are against this new enclosure stating there isn't enough room for the elephants. The elephants have got two acres of land to roam round in with a waterfall for them to enjoy. Quite an impressive enclosure.

After this I went and had some lunch. I noticed this year that those annoying peacocks had gone. I spoke to one of the zoo keepers and she said that the peacocks got scared around the food/eating area that they are in the shade. This made it more relaxed eating. While I was there it was feeding time. I got to see the giraffes, goats, turtles being fed. It was interesting watching them. The goats were at the petting. I was a bit nervous going into the goats enclosure as there were about the goats kicking and head butting you. There were about three adult fully grown goats and about five baby goats. The baby goats were gorgeous. They made such a scene and were crying out for food. As soon as the keeper dropped some food into the big goat's bowls they were quiet. I spent about three hours at the zoo.

After the zoo visit I made a booking at the Waikiki Tower revolving restaurant. I had seen this tower and thought it would be great to have dinner in it. It was one of those posh restaurants which served little bits of food on big plates. The food was flavour some. I had Beef Mignon served in a Soya Sauce, a potato and bacon croquette and baby spinach leafs. I also had a green garden slad with roasted walnuts and a mango brûlée desert. In total I paid $66 and this included two glasses of lemonade. Not bad considering the panoramic views of this 20 story building. The building moved round slowly and I was able to complete my three courses within one resolution.

Before I went to the restaurant I went to the spa pool at the hotel. It was lovely and very relaxing. The swimming pool was cold. I stayed in the spa until I was turning into a raisin. I spoke to these Australians in the pool. They were very interesting. One of the Australians was a fireman. He knew about the Christchurch earthquake, but he wasn't in the search and rescue team.



Day 4: Shopping

This morning I was meant to have done my submarine tour but it was cancelled due to rough seas, so I decided to do some shopping at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre. I was a lot more relaxed and more in the mood for Shopping. I went Macys which is a department store. I thought I would check out their summer shoes-protected sandle type shoes. I found a pair of navy blue shoes which would look nice with shorts, jeans, cargo pants. They are light weight and are slip on. They have the elastic shoe lace look. I had a man that served me. He had a little gadget on him that would scan the barcode and it would tell him how much stock there is available on site and the numbers of shoe sizes available in a particular style, colour, etc. He kind of had GPS for shoes.

Then I went upstairs to look for something formal to wear to graduation. At the moment big bold patterns are the in thing. The tie dye, animal prints and oriental designs are the in thing over here. Not my style. I then went round and saw some beautiful sequined tops. Would certainly add glitz and glamour to the event. When I picked up the Calvin Klein tops I saw that there were pulls in the fabric. I think it was due to sequins rubbing against each other. The sequins were small not the boing type ones. So I decided that the formal tops weren't to be, so my feet guided me to the casual wear. The more me. The sales here are FANTASTIC at the moment. I bought two Tommy Hillfiger tops for the price of one for $46. I also bought a pair of Ralph Lauren jeans for $45-got them half price. I know I wouldn't get these labels in New Zealand at this price. I then walked round to Not Your Daughter's jeans area and bought a pair of navy denim shorts. They weren't onsale, but it didn't worry me. After this I went into the animal themed shop. I bought a couple pairs of socks that had cats on them. There were a limited supply of socks because the factory burnt down in October. They hope to reopen in February.

After this I went back to the hotel to drop off my bags. Then I decided to have a late lunch. I caught the Trolley to IHOP- International House Of Pancakes. It is an American franchise and so I thought I would try out some pancakes. I ordered some banana and strawberry flavoured pancakes. I thought they would be stodgy but they were light and fluffy. At each table there was a tray of four toppings such as: butterscotch, strawberry, chocolate and some other flavour. I just stuck to strawberry.

After this I walked back to the trolley. It dropped me off at the beach. I walked along the sand. All along Waikiki beach there were warnings about jelly fish and eggs. Some people were swimming but from 17-19th January the jellyfish come out. I was reading it was to do with the patterns of the moon. I think full moons attract them to the shore line. I walked as far as the Honolulu Zoo point. Then I went back to the hotel and updated the blog.

That night I went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I had to wait 50 minutes but the wait was worth it. When my buzzer went off I was guided to a table next to a Canadian couple from Alberta. They said the winter has been rather mild this year. It's been a wet winter but no snow. I was also chatting to a lady from Idaho and she said the same thing.

It is amazing the number of New Zealanders and Australians are over here. I had two guys from New Zealand asking me whether I was from New Zealand. They both lived in Auckland. Small world.