Joined December 2018
  • Jun2

    Home time - day 51

    June 2, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    The hotel did really nice breakfasts each day – omelette and rice and fruit as well as toast if you wanted it. After breakfast we went back to the massage salon, and I had a leg massage for an hour – cost of $10, and it was great. Then had a last wee shop – Jody managed to find me a Shark silver pendant – a nice lunch, and then it was time for our driver to take us to the airport.
    I don’t think I will ever arrive at an airport again with a thin strappy dress and jandals – it was really hot even inside the terminal. I had more of a clear out of luggage while we were waiting to board, and managed to get within the baggage allowance.

    We had a brilliant flight home as Jody had the 4 centre seats to herself, and I had the 3 window seats. We had changed our seat selection shortly before the flight as we had noticed the spare seats. So that was very nice to have a bit of sleep.
    We arrived in Auckland around 4.20am. I bumped into a work colleague who I knew was arriving about the same time from South America. We were going to have a chat, but ended up waiting a long time for Jody’s bag to turn up. We really thought it wasn’t going to, but nek minit there it was. So it was time for us to say goodbye after 51 amazing days away with someone I didn’t really know that well before we left. I can’t quite say the same now! Jody went off to domestic for her flight to New Plymouth while I caught a bus to the Manukau terminal – which was way flasher than last time I did this – and then a direct bus to Hamilton where Christine and my boys were waiting for me.
    Looking forward to the next holiday already!
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  • May31

    Bali - day 50

    May 31, 2019 in Indonesia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    It might nearly be time to go home. We had thought that today we might go and visit one of the other beaches, but our enthusiasm waned. We had a swim in the hotel pool first and talked to some of the many Australians that were staying there. Then went out for a walk around the block looking at shops. I picked up my red light leather bag which I am very happy with. We also bought a bag for Polly who was checking them out on messenger video. Then the packing started. On the way to dinner we stopped in at a massage salon and I had the most amazing shoulder and neck massage - $8.50 for 45 minutes. We had dinner in a more up market hotel and it was rather nice.Read more

  • May30

    Bali - day 49

    May 30, 2019 in Indonesia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Slack morning today and we got to breakfast just before 10 and then had a swim and a shower. Then caught a taxi to the galleria and went shopping. Before shopping, we roughly packed our bags to work out what weight we had to deal with and checked out the additional baggage allowance for Emirates. Yikes it is $115 for an extra 5kgs, so I don’t think I will be doing that. I love a pair of trousers I had bought at UNIQLO and have been searching for another pair – Bali you were the winner and I now have a navy pair. Jody has more weight left in her bag, so might have bought a couple of things. She also started thinking about different bag options as her current large bag has a big rip and needs replacing and we saw some amazing Thule bags that were not cheap at all but very tempting. I was interested in the double zip concept for all of these new bags – so you can’t insert a pen into the zip and open them easily like you can with older bags but my trusty pack is going to last a bit longer. Jody also decided (for now) that she didn’t need a new bag from here, but you never know as we are still here for 2 more days.

    By the time we caught a taxi back, got changed and got to the beach it was around 3.30, and the lunch place was closed. Never mind, our helpful people went searching and soon came back with a plate of Nasi Goering again which is very tasty. We also had a plate of fruit and some drinks delivered before having a swim in the sea. I really enjoyed the big waves, swimming between the flags with lifeguards on duty, and knowing Jody was on shore waiting for me to return. Between the big waves the sea was quite calm, so I would have been easy to see if I was in difficulty. We left the beach just before sunset and had another rest before dinner. Going back to work is going to be very very hard without all these wee rests! Our time is currently 4 hours behind NZ time, so getting up at 9am is like 1pm NZ time. We could be making the time change easier for ourselves by getting up early, but that doesn’t seem that easy to do! Oh well, at least Monday is a holiday.
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  • May29

    Bali - day 48

    May 29, 2019 in Indonesia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We were up early, nice breakfast at the hotel which is called Fourteen Roses Beach Hotel. We have separate rooms and breakfast is included for $50 per night. It also has a lovely pool which we have been using a bit, nice to cool off before bed. Our driver – Warren - picked us up at 8am, and we were off on our big day. First stop was a silver factory. It was fascinating watching them make individual pieces by hand. Such steady hands and good eyesight. Apparently ,they work from 7 to 7 with a break for lunch. I think it would be heard to concentrate that hard for that long. Then we went into the shop which was really huge. We must have spent at least an hour trying to see all of the different stands full of jewellery and may have bought some. Most of the pendants were about $20 to $30 and when we had just seen the work that went into creating them, they were extremely cheap.

    Then we went to a temple which was interesting, but not that much to see. The next stop was the butterfly house which was amazing. There were loads of different colours flying all around and settling on leaves close to us. I could have watched them for hours. They also had an enclosure for big moths – I think called Atlas moths. They have a life cycle of 5 days, and have no mouths so basically hatch out of their crysallis, procreate and then die. There were guides in the enclosure who would put as many moths on you as you wanted, and they just stayed there until they were moved again. Apparently, they fly around at night.

    Then back into the van again to our next stop which was a waterfall. It was quite a lot of steps down and up, and it was pretty hot. They had cool baskets that we posed in for pics, and it was fun watching the people at the bottom of the waterfall posing for pics. At the entrance there were lots of shops, and all of them were advertising their toilets. I bought a roasted corn cob from there which was rather tasty. Then Warren took us to a restaurant by a rice paddy field for lunch which was very nice. There was a breeze coming in the open window which cooled us nicely.

    Then we went to another temple which had a purification ritual which many people were doing. They put on a special sarong, entered a pool of water, and dunked their heads under the flowing taps. There were maybe 15 taps along one side, and people moved along the taps, dunking at each one. Warren was surprised that we hadn’t done this ritual – apparently many people go to that temple just for that reason. Our next journey was to the rice paddy terraces. By this time it was getting later, and the terraces looked pretty steep so we just took some pics from the car. The road we were driving down is apparently 10kms long and looked amazing for shopping. It was probably a very good thing that we had stayed in the car. Then it was a 1.5 hour drive back to our hotel. I was pretty sick of driving through Bali by then – it is not a quick exercise!

    We got back around 6pm and had a wee rest before dinner. We went to a place which had a lady boy show which was very entertaining. The first guy that was targeted really didn’t cope very well and left the entire restaurant while muttering under his breath. Some of the other guys were very good sports, and as there were only around 20 people in the restaurant some of them were targeted more than once. I was pulled up to have a dance with one of them which was fine, but I missed out on the entertainment of Jody being up there as I went to the loo. It sounded like it would have been a good thing to have videoed! So back at the hotel we had a swim in the pool until 10, and then went to bed. The pool was pretty cool, but outside was maybe 25 degrees so nice to cool off.
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  • May28

    Bali - day 47

    May 28, 2019 in Indonesia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    I took ages to go to sleep, but eventually slept quite well. Woke up at 9am and had a light breakfast at the hotel before we went out exploring. We found a sim card for Jody, and a few other interesting shops. I wasn’t expecting the leather shops – lovely soft leather bags. I have ordered a leather cover for my red-light mat which should be ready on Friday, that will remind me of this trip. We also found a really nice jewellery shop and I will have to get a decent jewellery box when I get home to ensure that I start wearing some. I bought a light dress and top for here as it is pretty hot, around 29 degrees. Around midday we went back to the hotel, changed into our togs and headed for the beach which is maybe 500m away. Jody has been to Bali a few times and has a particular part of the beach that she goes to. I didn’t quite understand why but do now. Annie and Sammie have charge of a small section and remembered Jody and her other friends who have been here. We got some lounge chairs close to the beach, and they brought us drinks, Nasi Goering for lunch and we both had a foot massage and our toenails painted. Oh, and the water was lovely and warm for a swim as well. The chairs were under an umbrella, so it was a perfect place to read books and people watch for the afternoon. It cost $5 for the chair, $2.50 for my watermelon juice, $2.50 for the food, $5 for the foot massage and $5 for the nail painting. So, $20 was very cheap for all of that! Also had clean water at the foot of the chair to wash our hands and feet after being in the sea.

    The sun has been setting really late for us over the last few weeks, so a 6pm sunset was a bit of a surprise. It was very pretty watching it though. Then we went back to the hotel, showered, changed and went out to a Mexican place for dinner. On the way I saw a lady with a python. She said it was friendly, so I stroked it, and ended up having it draped around me. It was a cool experience and its skin was really soft. The lady said the snake had shed its skin only a couple of hours before. I did give her 50 cents as a donation which was well worth it – something I never thought I would have done. Our dinner was nice, and we both had a cocktail.

    First impressions of Bali – hot, lots of people, seems pretty busy with lots of people trying to sell things, but everything is really cheap. Just as well our bags are full full full! The beach is lovely, I am not one to sit on a beach doing nothing but reading a book under an umbrella with an occasional swim is a different experience, and something we will be doing on more days. Tomorrow we have hired a driver for the day for $45, and he will take us around some of the sights. Should be a fun day!

    Nice to have got up to date with this blog. We both have sim cards now for Bali – just as well as the wifi at this hotel is pretty crappy, you think we would have got used to that by now.
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  • May27

    Bali - day 46

    May 27, 2019 in Indonesia ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

    What a different flight this was. Totally full, and the seats were much narrower than I have previously had with Emirates. My neighbour wasn’t the smallest lady, so I was leaned out into the aisle for a lot of the 9 hour flight. I did feel the lack of sleep as well as I didn’t manage to sleep at all on the flight. Jody had a couple of decent sleeps though. Her neighbour was a nice small man, but she had a grumpy woman in front of her who said her seat was broke and she couldn’t put it upright though it seemed to do that just fine at the end of the flight.

    So, we got to Bali around 11pm and took a taxi to our hotel which is fairly basic, but we have separate rooms – Jody’s is looking far tidier than mine, she must be preparing herself for a tidy home again.
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  • May26

    Day 7 of cruise Copenhagen - day 45

    May 26, 2019 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ 🌙 30 °C

    Off the shop at 8.30, and onto a bus tour. We chose this option as we could see a bit more, we would be dropped at the airport and it wouldn’t cost a lot more than a taxi. There was no way we were going to try public transport with the number of bags we had!

    There were showers during the morning, so it was a good option. We had good commentary and visited 2 castles which we went through and had fun taking more pictures. We got to the airport nice and early, and Jody kindly was only checking 1 bag on which was around 26kgs. So, I stuffed a few more things in my smaller bag, and together we had exactly 60kgs which was our allowance. I also had my small pack, and my carry on was a large LIDL shopping bag which is great for chucking lots of things in – including my large fleece jacket. We were there so early that I was wandering around trying to spend my last krona, and then we headed off to our boarding gate. That’s when we realised that we hadn’t gone through passport control yet which took a while, and then our gate was right at the end of 39 other gates. We ran a bit as it was a very long way and got there just as the flight was closing. Was great when we got on though because there were so many empty seats. Jody ended up in the extra legroom seat at the front. I sat beside her for a while until I realised that my socks were soaked from the water that was leaking through from the galley. Apparently, that always happens – hmmm, not to my knowledge!

    We arrived in Dubai at 11pm and walked and walked to find the shuttle bus to our hotel (that Emirates were putting us up in for the night as there was just longer than 10 hours between our flights). The shuttle didn’t arrive for the 30 mins we stood there in over 30 degree heat. When one did go past, it didn’t stop for us and that’s when someone said oh you needed to tell them that you needed picking up. Not very happy about that as we were told they came every 15 mins. I still had some dirhams from our last visit, so feeling a tad grumpy at this stage I dragged Jody off and we took a taxi. We were in our hotel room for about 5 hours before getting a wake-up call, a quick breakfast and being at our boarding gate about 2 hours before our flight – not sure why, but Jody didn’t want to be late this morning!
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  • May25

    Day 6 of cruise at sea - day 44

    May 25, 2019 in Sweden ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We had a very leisurely day packing and weighing our bags, and eating, and packing some more, then eating a bit more…… The highlight of the day was the Barricade Boys who performed at 3pm. They were even better than the shows of the other day – such energy and crispness to their dance moves coupled with amazing singing. We were in the front row and just loved having the best view of the house. To get those seats we went to the skit at 2pm where 3 married couples were randomly selected and the women sent away while the men were asked questions, then the women came back and supposedly supposed to guess what their husbands had answered. It was really hilarious specially the couple married for 30 years, and he couldn’t remember where he had proposed. The man married for 45 years did – he said it was at a party and I was sozzled. His wife said he was drunk at a party so same answer, and I guess their marriage has lasted pretty well.

    The packing went ok and bags out the door by 11pm. We had to remember to put in our carry on what we would need for the next 2 nights. Oh, and we may have played 2 handed 500 hundred again today – our go to game which I have been enjoying. I did suggest a new game, but we seem to be stuck with that one, and Jody will win one day…
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  • May24

    Day 5 of cruise Helsinki - day 43

    May 24, 2019 in Finland ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    Showers, wind, and cooolllllld. Think it got to 8 degrees. Perfect weather for a bike tour around the city – not! WE had decided to take the ship excursion as we were only in Helsinki for a few hours, and at least then we would be sure to be back on time. We did expect it to last as long as the time we had ashore, but that was not to be. We met to start our tour at 7.30, and the rain started as we got off the ships and got on our Jopa bikes – ie bikes native to Finland with high handlebars but were like commuter bikes. Our guide had had a kiwi partner in the past and was quite informative about how non-communicative the Finns are compared with other nationalities. She said she really had to learn the art of small talk because when she first left Finland she thought that someone asking if she’d had a nice day really wanted to know. She got some funny looks when she gave people a run down on her day. She also talked a lot about the nature and how valuable that was to the Finns. And that sometimes if people have cottages close to the Russian border and they might be out walking, or on a lake and cross the border unknowingly it can take a few days to be returned from that experience!

    But unfortunately, the tour wasn’t really one for stopping and taking pictures. We stopped several times, but basically just kept on biking. Jody and I did quite a good job of taking pics as we were biking – the selfie stick was quite useful for that. One guy was not as proficient as us and dropped his phone on the road – we didn’t ask if it was ok! We did walk through the market as the tour had described but weren’t able to stop which annoyed most people on the tour. So, after 2.5 hours we were back at the ship with 2.5 hours before it was due to leave. The roundtrip bus into the city took 1.5 hours, but could have been longer with traffic, so we decided not to do that, and we were really really cold, so just shopped near the ship at the stalls. Unfortunately, one had lovely leather jackets on sale for 120 euro, and even more unfortunately there was a lovely soft one in a different style to the one that I had, and even more more unfortunately I had no self-control! But I am still very pleased that I bought it!

    Once back on the ship it was to deck 5 for a hot chocolate for me and a coffee for Jody. Then we went in search of heat – sauna and steam room for me followed with a spa while Jody just used the spa. It was lovely to thaw out a bit. Then we both got into bed and read books before dinner and a show – which wasn’t too bad, but not amazing. I also had a little gamble in the casino in which the air-conditioning was very good seeing as one side was smoking and the other side wasn’t. We couldn’t smell the smoke at all on the non-smoking side. So, went to bed about midnight, but our only task tomorrow is to pack, so not really an issue.
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  • May23

    Day 4 of cruise St Petersburg - day 42

    May 23, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    The day was cold but fine – around 14 degrees. We had docked by the time our alarm went off at 7am. But all of the ship excursion people had to get off first, and we were about ready when our call came at 8.30. We had to go through passport control to enter Russia and had a visa for the day. It was easy to find our tour guide – just like going through security at an airport and meeting someone. We had booked our guide and car for the day several months ago. With only having one day there, we wanted to make the most of it.

    We got in our car for the day and made for our first stop – one of the train stations. These are destinations in their own right, and we went to 3 altogether. The trains were much noiser that others we have caught in Europe. And the escalator was really long. Apparently St Petersberg is built on swamp land, so the train network is 65m below the surface so to find solid ground. Each train station is different, and one we went to had round wooden pillars that were enclosed in glass. The story behind how they made them was pretty interesting. Then it was back to the car again to go to Peterhof which is supposed to be this amazing garden with fountains about an hour away. And amazing it was. The pictures will have to show off the magnificence of the fountains and the tulip gardens. There were also lots of stories about different rulers, and what they did. Also, the trick fountains – ie benches to sit on, or paths to walk on which triggered very strong wetting fountains. Apparently, the ruler had a sense of humour and enjoyed wetting his guests. It was rather cold there this morning with a biting wind. But still there were many people running through and enjoying the challenge of getting wet from the fountains. There was also a whole road which apparently had fountains all the way through at 1pm and 3pm – so if you didn’t read the signs you would get soaked. We were at the gardens for a couple of hours, and it was well worth it.

    Then we got back in the car and headed back to the city. We had raided the breakfast buffet, so had a bacon rolls and Danish pastries in the car on the way. Our next stop was the Church of spilled blood. This church was built over the site of where someone was killed and who had done a lot for the country. The inside was amazing with all the walls and ceilings covered in mosaics. It was really colourful and great to have visited. Our guide – Alisa – told us a lot about structures that were ruined in WW2, and the restoration effort that had gone on to rebuild them. She was very interesting and very informative.

    Then we went to The Hermitage which is an amazing museum. For me it was a bit like the Pitti Palace in Florence, and the Ducal Palace in Venice. We spent around 2 hours in there and saw all the famous exhibits. Generally, Jody and I had seen something else in the room that was more interesting than the supposedly famous ones that Alisa was telling us about. The ceilings, doors and floors were pretty amazing. We were pleased that we had gone, but it was massive. We might have gone through about 35% of the museum and were pretty held up by all the large tour groups at times. It was really good just being a group of 3 as we could go through things quite quickly.

    After the Hermitage we had another couple of photo stops before heading back to our ship. We timed this extremely badly – ie just after 3 tour buses had arrived, so we had to wait for all of them to go through security and passport control again. It took us over an hour to get through – we could have spent that time sightseeing somewhere! But on the other hand, after yesterday we were quite pleased to be back early and were pretty knackered.

    So, after dinner and a spa we are headed for bed. Didn’t go to the show tonight – spa won out. But I found some kiwis on board, and of course we have someone we both know – Euro Coulter you are the one! They are both policepersons (married couple) from Auckland. And in the spa we talked to a couple from Canada and another from Washington. It was interesting hearing what other people had done with their day. And that reminds me… when we got back on the boat there were a lot of people waiting for the lifts. At one stage there wasn’t enough room for us and an Australian couple because some people pushed in from the side. I made some disparaging comment, and the woman said yes they were jolly rude (hmmm, maybe a bit nicer than the language that I had used), then she said, and I bet they were Asians. I had to give her a high 5 (she would have been over 70 and under 5 foot, so it was quite hilarious). Now I have nothing against Asian people at all, but by golly in general they are a lot pushier than other people in these situations. I think they are just used to having to push past a lot of people, and ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry’ don’t appear to be part of their vocabulary.
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