So this is my final blog entry! I will be putting a few more photos on so that this is a complete record of my trip though!
I got back yesterday afternoon and luckily was not affected by the car bombs etc. It is the first time in a while that I have seen police with machine guns at Heathrow. Fab to be met by Mum, Dad and Clare and whisked home in BMW style!
I am looking forward to catching up with you all in the next few weeks, its been a while! Lots of love to you all. Lucy xxx
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Well its my penultimate day of being a carefree backpacker - time has flown! I can't think of a better place to spend my last couple of days - San Francisco really is a lovely town - very impressive hills though - quite exciting going downhill in a cable car!! So this may well be my last blog entry from overseas.....I have really enjoyed writing it.
Karen is here in SF too which is great. Yesterday we did lots of walking - around Chinatown, up to Grace cathedral - dead ringer for Notre Dame...today I am off to see Golden Gate park and bridge - and we are off to Alcatraz at 6pm which will be interesting.
Flight back to Blighty at 7pm tomorrow night....I will be a reluctant passenger but can't wait to see you all my loyal blog readers! xxx
Location: Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, USA
Day 2 of 7 days on the beach in Maui - bliss! Since last diary entry we have conquered a couple of major sites. Last Sunday, we rented a moped each and went to see the USS Arizona memorial site at Pearl Harbor. Hoards of people again - but this did not detract from what is a pretty humbling and moving experience.
The visit is a 75 minute free guided tour - first a film about the run up to 7th Dec 1941 and then the Navy take you by boat to the site where the Arizona sank - it is the grave of almost 1000 naval and marine servicemen. You can see bits of the boat above the waterline and oil is still rising to the surface - very eery - there is a wall at the far end with the names of all the men who perished - including 29 sets of brothers as well as fathers and sons. On a lighter note, moped bashing was lots of fun!
On Monday we hopped onto an inter island flight to Hilo on the Big Island - our base so we could go and visit Volcanoes National Park. We needed a car and Karen had her heart set on a Wrangler jeep - massive great big red thing - fun to drive about in tho - until the rain started...Hilo gets I think 278 days of rain - whoops!
We spent most of a day at the Volcano - sadly for me there is no lava visible currently - but it is very active - they had closed Chain of Craters road which takes you to the lava flow at the sea edge because of all the seismic disturbances but we were able to take the Crater Rim drive - the road actually runs inside the crater for a while too.....very smelly and scratchy on the throat in places with all the sulphur fumes rising - an amazing site - the crater is massive!
Hawaii is a strange and slightly jarring mix of american and polynesian - it has only been a US state for 100 years or so. Consequently laid back fijian overtones clash with the high stress american whine - interesting - Ipod very helpful...as is my new found travellers ability to shut most of it out! More soon.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Greetings from Waikiki beach where I have just spent a bonus day...I left Fiji at 22.50 today Friday and arrived here at 0700 today Friday - very bizarre experience crossing the international date line!
I had a great 4 days in Fiji relaxing by the beach - met a great group of people too - it was sad to leave them. Fiji is very laid back and still pretty basic in terms of development - lots of manual farming visible, dogs, cows and horses wandering the roads too! Food is a mix of Indian influences, combined with some very antipodean influence as its not far away - for all you Ozzies you can get Twistie chips - cheese and chicken! At the Beach House we were given tea and fresh scones at 4pm - very popular indeed!
But being here is exciting as I am about to see my friend Karen (ex Square One) for the first time since October - can't wait. We will be here for 3 days and then off to the Big Island to see the volcanoes.
Location: Coralevu, Viti Levu, Fiji
Bula Bula from Fiji!
Well, now I have left Oz, the countdown to home has really begun - and this is as good a place as any! Blue sky, swaying palm trees, an hours massage for about 7 quid......need it today - seemed to take forever to get here - flights to Fiji all seem to leave around midnight - its only a 3 hour flight, 2 hour time difference = no sleep - I know I shouldn't complain but......so more later!
PS. Photos may have to wait til I get to the US - the internet here is definitely on island time!
Location: Darwin, NT, Australia
Well Kakadu was great - Beej you are going to love it!
I am off to the airport in a couple of hours - first flying to Brisbane, then 6 hours in transit and overnight to Nadi, Fiji!
I have a few days to relax in Fiji so I will do all my photo updates and things then!
Location: Darwin, NT, Australia
Well, I finished my 9 day Broome to Darwin tour about 5pm today - and feel totally exhausted but also that I have seen a small part of what makes Oz such a special place.
We spent 3 days driving along the Gibb River Road which was built to get beef cattle from the vast cattle stations to market - before the road - mostly dirt not tarmac - the stations had abattoirs and the beef was then flown out!
It was a trip of gorgeous gorges and charismatic chasms - Windjana Gorge national park, Bells gorge, Galvans gorge, and then we got to the million hectare El Questro station - they need a helicopter to muster the cattle here. We had 2 nights here - and it is magnificent - 8 kms hard walk climbing wet rocks etc get you to pools and falls so clear you fill your water bottle up!
Then the other highlight for me - Purnululu National Park, better known as the Bungle Bungles - 240 000 hectares of perfect beehive shaped sandstone domes - with the necessary gorges (Cathedral) and chasms (Ecidna)!!
I splashed out on a 30 min heli ride over the domes with Karen and Cindy - we all agree it was one of the best things we have seen for a while - and the pilot was cute too!
Our journey on towards Darwin took us near the entrance to the Argyle diamond mine - would have waved to you Beej but you are in Perth!
But since it is 11pm now and I am off at 0630 in the morning, I will stop here - photos will have to wait - sorry guys! I am off to Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks - Kakadu in particular is very famous so had to be done really. Amazing to think I am off to Fiji on Monday!
Location: Broome, WA, Australia
Well, the tour is over! We arrived in Broome on Saturday afternoon - and I am here until Wednesday morning when I am off on the road from here to Darwin on another 9 day tour!
Last entry I was about to head into Karijini - look at the pics, it was stunning - breathtaking....but we had to patient, it took a whole day to get there! Then it was time to roll out our swags - a fab ozzie invention - mattress and tent for 1 person - pic to follow soon!
The last 2 days after that we were pretty much driving flat out - our last night we spent at 80 mile beach which was beautiful but brief we were out of the bus at 6pm and back in at 10am!!
Overwhelming impresssions of the 10 days - flies everywhere - 6 dollar flynet very good investment....space everywhere, big road trains, HUGE sky. Can't wait to do the next trip - will be very remote - lots of bush camping and washing in waterfalls....more soon.
Location: Exmouth, WA, Australia
Well Ningaloo reef is amazing! We went out on a glass bottomed boat so we could see all the different types of coral - they are very different to the Great Barrier Reef corals - blue and green tipped staghorn and huge corals shaped like flowers and massive brain coral - yep it looks just like it!
We went to 2 different snorkel sites - at the first the water was so cold we were practically hyperventilating but lots of good tropical fish and then the second site we were more used to the water and we jumped into a huge shoal of snapper - very curious they were brushing right up against us!
After lunch and some more snorkelling, we left Coral Bay and headed for Exmouth where we stayed last night and tonight. This morning we walked into Cape Range national park to Yardie Creek - fab views and dark red striped rock. After lunch - sandwich eaten under recently purchased flynet - the flies are SHOCKING - we went to Turquoise Bay - still in the Park - to see more of the Ningaloo Reef. There is a very strong current there so you walk to the end of the beach and drift back over the coral. This was the best snorkelling I have done in Oz - stacks of angel fish, clown fish, rays, hundreds of tiny tropical fish, turtles - sadly we did not see the resident leopard shark but.....
Tomorrow we are heading for Karijini National Park - 2 nights bush camping and exploring. So no internet now for 3 days - so more then....eyes are boggling as I can't seem to take it all in! Fantastic.
Location: Coral Bay, WA, Australia
Well it is the end of day 3 of the 10 day tour that I started at 7am on Friday in Perth and we were up at 6am today - its now 9pm and we are yet to eat!
I was refreshed and ready to go though as I had just spent 4 lovely days with Mark and Marylin who spoiled me rotten - it was great to see them - thanks again you two x
So this will be very brief.....We have already seen Nambung National Park which holds the Pinnacles Desert - amazing, Kalbarri National Park - red and yellow striped rock, deep gorges - amazing! Then today we were in the sea at Monkey Mia at 7am to get close to the dolphins that arrive every day to say 'hello' to the gawping tourists - and a lucky few get to feed one, which I did - fantastic. 12 dolphins arrived and were literally 6 inches away from us for about an hour...you are not allowed to touch them, as they are wild animals but its pretty special. I thought of Beej, as we had been there about 2 years before and only seen 2 dolphins and had to wait until 10am even then!
Tomorrow we are snorkelling the Ningaloo Reef - and we get a lie in - even better!!! More soon!
Location: Perth, Australia
Welcome to sunny WA. Much warmer and bluer here than the eastern seaboard!
Arrived in Perth about 9pm Monday night, Beej came to collect me from the airport which was great. I had been on the road since 9pm Sunday when I left Wellington!
Tuesday morning, we headed 3 hours south of Perth to the lovely Margaret River region - beautiful beaches, stacks of fantastic wineries, not to mention the famous pie shop in Dunsborough....but we were good and only visited it today as we were leaving!
We had 3 nights at a really chilled out spa retreat - there was a hot tub on the balcony, wide screen TV, lots of DVDs and fantastic treatments.
Wednesday and Thursday we spent cruising round some wineries I had not visited as well as some old favourites of mine and Beej's. Some of the wineries also have great restaurants so lunch was al fresco and very tasty.
I had a stone massage last night - muscle tension is eased using very hot and then very cold smooth stones. It is an odd sensation as the heat/cold doesn't hit the nerves until the second after you think to yourself that it doesn't feel too bad!!!!
We got back to Perth at lunch time today, so a few drinks tonight, followed by a bit of retail therapy tomorrow...Beej is off back to Argyle on Monday so I will be heading up to see Mark (great grandfathers were brothers...) and Marylin for a few days.
Hate to say it but time is rushing by....still so much to see :))
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Welcome to the 'windy city' - and Wellington, NZ's capital does live up to its name! Been a bit non-stop since I last did my diary!
Rotarua was indeed smelly but a fasinating place - tons to see and do! I did catch up with Nick and Laura for a few beers which was great - they are touring round in a stylish campervan.
Spent most of a very rainy Wednesday at Te Puia (used to be called Whaka for those who have visited here before - Vicks, Clare!). It is home to a couple of huge geysers - 30M jets several times a day and lots of steam and boiling mud - which I could have stared at all day to be honest - but would have been a bit cold and wet! Te Puia is also home to a Maori crafts centre - woodcarving and weaving - very gifted and beautiful designs. There is also a 30 minute show of traditional Maori dancing and singing - including the haka - lots of rolling of eyes and sticking out of tongues - I imagine pretty scary given the right circumstances!
Thursday morning I travelled to Taupo and spent a beautiful sunny day there - took a boat out on the lake - the biggest in NZ and geographically right in the centre of north island. Also went to see the bungy site - confirmed that this is 1 thing I will never voluntarily put myself through! Took the bus to Napier at 6pm the same day to Napier on the east coast.
Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and was then rebuilt in the fab Art Deco style. So Friday morning, I went a slightly damp guided walk - it is a sight to behold. The insides of the buildings are all shiny wood and glass - with the art deco zig zag, sunburst etc. design motifs. In the afternoon, I went on a Grape Escape tour of some of the Hawkes Bay wineries - best way to spend a damp afternoon - and they have some classy wines to chose from! We were only 3 on the tour, so decided to carry on for a few beers and dinner afterwards which was good fun.
Yesterday morning, I did the 6 hour bus journey south to Wellington - had a good tramp around here in the afternoon and today am off for a ride on the cable car and then a visit to Te Papa the NZ national museum, before I am on a plane at 9pm tonight back to Auckland ready for my 5.25am flight to Sydney on Monday morning - ahh well, it was 200 dollars cheaper than all the other flights! Then off to Perth later in the day to spend a week with my lovely friend Beej before visiting Mark (brother of Nigel and Imogen - great grandfathers were brothers part of the family again!) and Marylin for a few days can't wait.
Location: Whangerai, North Island, New Zealand
Left wet and windy Sydney last Wednesday bound for Auckland, NZ, having spent a great few days catching up again with Rob, Anne and the boys in Sydney. I realised that the last time I had a room to myself was when I had left them to head up north 6 weeks before! It was great - thanks guys - hope to see you when you are over in Europe in the summer!
I spent 2 nights in Auckland, taking in the classic tourist stuff like going up the SkyTower - 328M high - with great views of the city and the harbour as the weather was bright and blue which was a pleasant surprise!! You also get to see the crazy people who are going down the tower using the outside route - they stop suspended at the viewing level for you to gawk at - the chap I saw looked absolutely terrified!!
On Friday I boarded the Magic bus - a hop on, hop off backpacker bus that goes from A to B but takes you via tourist stuff on the way. I headed north to a little town called Paihia. This is the best place to take a trip all the way to the northern tip of New Zealand (which I did on Saturday), Cape Reigna, where the Tasman Sea (the Kiwis call it the ditch!) which separates Oz and NZ, meets the Pacific Ocean. 60 miles of this fairly long trip are along 90 mile beach - which is actually a state road - just like the long beach on Fraser Island in Oz. We were really lucky with the weather, more bright blue sunny skies. The trip included sand boarding down a massive sand dune - head first on a boogy board - pretty terrifying - but we did it twice so can't have been that bad!! The whole area is stunningly beautiful and the air is pretty pollution free - lovely.
Sunday morning saw me board The Excitor - a very speedy speed boat for a 90 minute trip out to the Bay of Islands - about 150 islands some privately owned - and a very beautiful spot. The famous landmark is 'the hole in the rock' which we went through - look out for a photo soon!
Back on shore, back on the Magic bus, an hour south to Whangerai, to spend a couple of nights with Imogen and Ralf - Imogen is Nigel's brother - i.e. distant cousin (our great grandfathers were brothers)!
Great to catch up with them briefly. Tomorrow - 1st May, I am heading south, bound for Rotarua - famous for hot springs and mud and for being very smelly!!! With luck I am coinciding with some of the Whitsundays crew which would be great, so fingers crossed and more soon!