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.