Iā€™m turning Japanese!

Found a great little place for brekkie in Narita village near the JR train station. It serves great coffees that look like art works … super cute!

The atmosphere was really comfy, the service friendly. Best of all we’re the freshly baked goods, scones and muffins. They were unexpected in a place where the decor was fairly authentic, with a choice of tables and chairs or seated on cushions, on a raised platform šŸ™‚

Cirque…. for the very first time.

So I have never been to a Cirque de Soleil until now! In Perth over the weekend I saw Kooza. Not only did I see the circus, I attended as a VIP šŸ˜Š 


DJ, Lisa and I were shown through the VIP entrance into a tent that felt like a boudoir, all dark flowy curtains and ceilings. Once inside we were treated to bubbles and the most amazing finger food I have had………. tiny prawn blinis, tiny salmon tarts, very mini cheese and beef burgers, tiny watermelon salads. All of it beautiful to look at and to taste. 


We then moved through to the Big Top and saw Kooza!! What an amazing performance from all the acts. My favourite : The Wheel of Death. These two guys were so hard ass, I loved them, the act was mesmerising.

The music, singing, all of it was so polished and professional, absolutely incredible. Half time and we popped back to the VIP area and more bubbles and a tiny chocolate and salted caramel mousse! Heaven !

After the show we we treated to a backstage tour, we met and spoke with 3 of the performers, we saw the costume area, the prep area for the artists and many of the props.


We left the Big Top on a high and totally a fan of Cirque…… bring on the next one šŸ˜Š

Talofa Lava

Welcome to Samoa!!

33′ hit us as we disembarked but it felt amazing šŸ™‚

Faleolo Airport is still undergoing renovations (has been for some time šŸ˜¬) so we queued to line up for only 5 immigration desks. That process was very quick, then off to the one and only baggage belt where it was like a scrum, find the baggage instead of the rugby ball. Quick trip past Ag and Fish, X-ray and out into the masses and the arrival area.  

Our shuttle was waiting and we were immediately lei’d šŸ˜œ


The drive from the airport to the resort took over an hour and was quite the bumpy ride, as many roads were still flooded from the recent cyclone. Those that weren’t flooded were potholed!

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It had been 10 years since I was last in Samoa and the drive to Apia had not changed too much. The houses were still very much Samoan style, maybe just a little bigger than they had been previously. 

Apia town has grown a bit, the biggest surprise though was the TRAFFIC LIGHTS!

A couple favourite bars/ restaurants were still where I had left them.

Taumeasina is a very modern resort joined by a causeway to the mainland. As we left Apia town and turned into a side street, it was there before us looking very pretty despite the rain.


As soon as we arrived, the checkin staff were so friendly. It is not a very large hotel so feels quite personal. As our room was not ready, we made our acquaintance with the casual bar and cafe where we became frequent visitors šŸ™‚


Once our room was ready, we unpacked and then explored. The grounds are lovely and as well as the obligatory hotel gym, there was outdoor exercise gear in the resort gardens. I’d like to say we used them ……. but we didn’t!

The sunset viewed from our balcony that first night was stunning! Lots of PINK so we knew the next day would be a stunner and it was. We spent the whole day at the pool, one of two on the complex. Both are very nice pools.



By the afternoon we had to be under the umbrella as the sun was scorching ….. not complaining. It was Mothers Day and the resort was very busy with local visitors.

Monday was a public holiday for Mothers Day so that was the day we drove around the island.  


The weather was again lovely, just a few rain showers along the way. As we passed through the villages, many were having a game of village cricket , so cool to see šŸ™‚ Lots of fun but lots of skill too !

Everything was closed for the day so the villages were all busy with chores at home.

We drove to Lalomanu beach, famous for being able to sleep in a Fale on the beach ( at a cost). On the way we passed a high waterfall, free range piggies, one way bridges, lots of small villages and village shops, churches and schools.


The highlight of the day around the island was To Sua Ocean Trench, amazing, challenging ( the climb down) but worth the twenty tala entrance fee. 


Lunch stop was Sinalei Resort on the South Coast. Great food, wine (NZ) and service. We dined on a jetty over water.


This resort seemed more authentic to the Samoan way of building but was older than the Taumeasina.

Whilst driving around the island, we decided to pop the iPhone on shuffle and boom!! Rick Astley, “Never gonna Give You Up”, very much our 80s go to song when we flew together, was the first song up , spooky, and very cool.

Our hire car was a great little car, Nissan Duke, We hired it from Samoana Rentals and they were great. I now have a Samoan Drivers License for the next month. I’ve been admiring the Duke for a while so was cool to drive one. Handled really well. A lot of the roads were not great and had been further affected by the heavy rains, potholes were a regular feature 

Driving around the island really was an experience, without a map and no road signs, however it is an island so you can only go around, and can’t really get lost haha.

Tuesday saw us visit town briefly, popped our nose into the markets that had not changed in years. We then spent the rest of the day under an umbrella in the sun, reading our books by the pool. That evening we visited Sheraton Aggie Greys Hotel, for pre dinner cocktail. The last time I was at Aggie Greys , it was not a Sheraton, was still a family run hotel. I was keen to see the differences …….The lobby was very distinguished and the layout was different. We wandered trough the pool area and the other accomodation bungalows reliving old times when we stayed as crew years before. 

For an animal lover the many many dogs wandering was heartbreaking. I really don’t know how many were homeless and how many were not. I do know that there doesn’t seem to be an animal welfare body so if I win the big Lotto ticket , that is where I will spend the first million…… desexing the cats and dogs.

The Samoan people don’t have a lot, but are so very friendly, eager to please and love to know what you think of “their place” ā¤

Fabulous Fiji šŸ‡«šŸ‡ÆĀ 

Bula!!Fiji is always a good idea and never disappoints. The weather was incredible , the staff and facilities at The Westin Denerau were attentive and friendly. 

The break was 3 days and felt great, we only left the resort to visit the shops at Port Denerau. After a few purchases, the resort became home again and being attached to a sun lounger a distinct possibility. 

The resorts along the Denerau beachfront are all neighbours so you can walk from one to the other easily. We were based at the Westin and ate there mostly. Each morning breakfast was served with a smile, a chat and awesome omelettes.

The food at The Flying Fish restaurant at The Sheraton was divine also. On the 25th, along with scallops and salad, I had the special Anzac dessert of Pavlova with Anzac cookie crumble !!

Frog spotting was an entertaining evening, they were just sooooo cute. 

The people of Fiji are so happy, friendly and welcoming that I am already thinking about next time ……

I

I Hiked it and Liked it ..

I completed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with the 3 best hiking companions. We did 34500 steps, 19.4 kms. This is one of the most amazing things I’ve done. It was hard at times but always incredible, from the aptly named Devil’s Staircase (Jacobs Ladder in Perth is a breeze compared to the Devils Staircase šŸ˜œ) climbing and hanging on to a chain rail to the summit, and looking up and not believing that you are going up there! Then down the slippery scree slopes which provide a bit of fun, slipping and sliding, sometimes on your bum! There were incredible views along the way. Mt Ngaruahoe (Mt Doom) my favourite …..The Emerald Lakes, STUNNING! 

Then through the red crater, expecting to see Orcs! The scenery changes for the last 2 kms to something that West Aucklanders would be comfortable with , damp bush.

We were totally prepared as the weather changed often, sun, cloud, rain, sleet and even snow. We became very quick at costume changes. šŸ˜

It was not an easy day but totally satisfying. Feeling lucky to be alive in this amazing world šŸŒŽ.

Zephyrs……

Well the weather in Perth was uncharacteristic this trip ! Could have been in good old AKL!!

Didn’t stop me trying two new eating places and getting out with a friend and seeing stuff. 

Walked to Jacobs Ladder this morning, climbed it, ran down again and had brekkie at the Health Freak Cafe. It was amazing. Hana and I shared each other’s amazing  choices and were not disappointed with either šŸ˜Š the granola with coco whip: gorgeous . The pumpkin spiced pancakes with fruit: perfect. Great coffee completed that meal šŸ˜Š



The next part of the day involved food too. I got picked up by a lovely friend and we drove around a big part of the Swan River, some great views taken in and some magnificent homes admired. We stopped at the Zephyr Cafe, on the River,  and again I was not disappointed. No sharing of meals here as mine was way too good lol.

I chose the Mushroom Brushetta, with haloumi, on garlic bread and it was yum!


Perth is a great city to visit, still heaps I haven’t seen……. one day ā¤

Cool Cottesloe….

So I was lucky enough to escape a couple of days of that disgusting Auckland weather and fly to Perth. Beautiful weather awaited of course šŸ˜Š 

A friend picked me up early Saturday morning and we drove to Cottesloe beach for brekkie. Brekkie was good but that’s not what this blog is about today ……

It was “Sculptures by the Sea” time at the  beach and I took a couple snaps. I think it’s still on for another week, so worth a look! My tip … go early ,so fresh, feels good and not too busy šŸ˜ŠšŸ‘


PS I didn’t swim , so glad I didn’t after hearing wee šŸ¦ˆ shark story šŸ˜¬

“China Girl”

Love views from the top? Me too!! 

I ticked off another tower on this trip. The Oriental Pearl Tower is up there with the tall structures of the world and the view was amazing. Shanghai often has very smoggy days but today was clear enough ( by their standards) to see for miles and miles.

When you compare the view in Shanghai to the view from Auckland Skytower, it makes you realise the magnitude of this Chinese city. ( but I prefer our beautiful city and the smaller size ! )

We didn’t wait long in the queue but apparently you have a long wait at sunset or evening! 


Waiting for the lift šŸ˜‰
The World ( or a city ) at my feet !

We’ve all seen those t shirts with strange translations on them ???

Check out this kids jacket !!!!! Hahaha