Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Exit Strategy

Here we are in the Aukland airport waiting for our flight to LAX, seems like it will be a long journey home in many ways. Breakfast with Sydney and Sam this morning and then airport goodbyes all around. Seeing my girl was wonderful and leaving her is sad, but the not arm ripping off kind. She is happy here in her little life and though she is constantly looking for ways to spend her time. she is rarely idle. Ate dinner at "her" restaurant last night, The WHite House, very upscale and lovely looking out over the harbor at sunset. They treated us nicely and the food was excellent, impressive actually.
Will be back before you know it complaining about the weather, which is clearly a world wide topic, and feeling like we were barely away.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Windy Wellington

Now I know how this city on many bays got its name. There are no good hair days in Wellington, actually there are no good hair days in the south pacific if you have curly, dyed, sun dried hair at all. And who wears make up? I doubt anyone will recognize me in any of the photos once I finally get them downloaded.
Back to this city that has embraced my daughter and will hopefully spit her back....
All hillsides with spectacular views from every class of home...from Peter Jackson, aka Lord of the Rings, to the local street worker, all have ocean views from their living spaces.
We are off to the botanic gardens....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

All is Well in Wellington

Boy do I have lots of splaining to do! We are now in Wellington, on the Southeast coast of the north island of NZ. Sydney's home away from home. We arrived here last evening by ferry from the south island on a boat that was more like a cruise ship than any ferry I have been on, but it was a smooth 3 hour ride out of the sound and around some bends for an hour, open ocean for an hour and then into the harbor for the last hour. All during sunset and quite spectacular with dolphins playing their role on cue some yummy french fries and hot cappuccino to wash it down. Unfortunately I have been indulging in hot chips frequently and will have to wean when I come home.

Prior to our crossing, we had spent the day in Marlboroough, not spelled right?, on bikes for 2 days wining and whining and dining through the vineyards in the valleys of Blenheim. Stayed at a really lovely B&B and visited about 8 vineyards altogether. It was a lot of fun, I think we all became quite discerning and even found some new faves.

Prio to that, we were soaking in some natural sulphur hot spring rock pools at a Japanese spa to get rid of my aches and pains from hiking the Franz Josef glacier in the south. It was an amazing hike through some bush and some river rock bed up to the ice and then we donned the crampons and cramped on. Beautiful. I don't think I am ready for Everest yet, but eating a ripe peach sitting atop a glacier in the hot sun is a nice way to spend a moment. We headed further south before heading back to our base home in Hokitika to see sunset at a beautiful lake known for its mirror images. Magnificent view, hard to walk!
Hokitika, on the west coast of the south island, the home of Sam's maternal grandmother< Maida, being our base for a 3 days as we explored this tropical paradise. Hard to describe the black glossy sand on the beach and the pounding surf of the ocean that smooths out the abundant driftwood into the most artful shapes and churns up the stones so soft and shiny they look like jewels...oh wait, I just did. Sometimes there is so much driftwood you have to clear a path to the water, but it is not likely that you will swim in this water more than a few times a year as it is really rough and known to eat men. Naturally my man went in! Maida's house is on the beach and she has beautiful gardens and is a born south islander from a farm family whose husband was the only surgeon for miles around. She is also an original feminist and on the board of everything, so she has lore and stories galore. Very interesting woman and her hospitality matched her charm and her intillect in all modern style. Amazing.
Prior to Hokitika we were in Christchurch, spending one rainy day in a museum, one beautiful day in Akaroa, a lovely harbor over the mountains, and eating a lot of lamb, mussels and cheese.
Have I mentioned the sheep or the dairy cows? There are a few here!
So I think we are all caught up for now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Last Night in OZ

Arrived just now in Melbourne, big city after the long stretches of ocean road, farmlands, desert and woodlands. A little bit of culture shock for all of us. Not to mention the fact that our cute little hotel is around the corner from the men's club district...oh well no worries, we can handle just about anything at this point.
The Great Ocean Road was an amazing sight even in the mostly cloudy weather and the bonus of wild koalas cheered us all up. The color of the water is hard to capture on camera, so you will have to just come on down here and check it out. There are some lovely holiday rentals everywhere you go and in the most surprising places. Will download some photos again soon.
Tomorrow we will see the sights of this city and then off to Christchurch we go.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Outback and Back

So Sydney was an amazing city. Clean, friendly and so much to see. We made our rounds of the museums, neighborhoods and parks and didn't quite get it all in. Spent our last night having drinks and appetizers on the harbor at sunset viewing the opera house and the bridge and it was lovely, eh! Then we hoofed it back up to the street where our day began and had an outstanding gourmet dinner at Pello.
Sunday morning we headed out to view Bondi Beach, caught a swim and rescue competition, impressive, and then made for the Blue Mountains.
Beautiful colors, the eucalyptus give off a blue haze, so picture the rocks of the Grand Canyon with the greens and blues and you are in the right zone.
From there we continued around the rim and vistas and heading northwest to Orange, supposedly the "fruitbowl" of the region, although we didn't see any orchards! We did stay the night at a lodge on Turner Vineyard and roamed the vineyard hills at sunset and had a mediocre meal overlooking the hills and dales with nice wine.
Up and out early headed to the outback town of Cobar, the oldest mine town, people wondering why we were there! Very authentic though. We got the last rooms in town as the mine (gold that is) are actively underway and we were lucky to find some food. We did however drink quite cheaply at the local version of the VA hall while shooting pool and watching television! Something to laugh about. But I must mention that upon our arrival in the evening we drove about 70 K to view the oldest Aboriginal rock art that still remains. Along the ride we saw kangaroos, emu, lizards, amazing birds.... so the ride was amazing. The red earth was awesome.
Drove through Griffith the next day on our route south where a waiter asked us what we were doing in these parts, which made us laugh again. Seeing a part of Australia that is off the beaten path. These towns are a real throwback, old time architecture and a step back in time.
Spent the night in Echuca along the Murray River, wine country, had a fabulous Greek dinner.
Now we are headed to the south coast, west of Melbourne.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Who wouldn't want to hold that cute thing?
Posted by Picasa