New Zealand : South Island Part I

New Zealand : South Island Part I

In February of 2018, my husband and I took a three-week self driving tour of both the north and south islands of New Zealand (NZ).   This blog, NZ Part II, is dedicated to our two weeks on the South Island. The NZ blog is in three sections: 1) northern coast, 2) our drive down the more northern section of the west coast, and 3) the southern Wanaka/Queenstown area. 

South Africa Part III: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

South Africa Part III: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

This the third of a five part travel series across the south of Africa. Six family members traveled to four countries over ten days: Capetown (Part I) and Sabi Sands Game Reserve (Part II) in South Africa, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (Part III), Chobe National Park (Part IV), and Johannesburg, South Africa (Part V). We flew into Livingstone, Zambia and following a somewhat nervous border crossing, into Zimbabwe. We stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel, which was simply spectacular.

South Africa Part V: Johannesburg

South Africa Part V: Johannesburg

This the fifth and final post of travel series across the south of Africa. Six family members traveled to four countries over ten days: Capetown (Part I) and Sabi Sands Game Reserve (Part II) in South Africa, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (Part III), Chobe National Park (Part IV) in Botswana, and Johannesburg, South Africa (Part V). We passed through Zambia, so we're counting it! Our day in Johannesburg was quite unexpected.  We flew in from Zimbabwe late one evening in preparation for a morning flight to San Francisco   Early the next morning, we checked out and headed into the airport.  We thought it was strange that our flight was not on the departures board.  Simple explanation - our flight was at 9 pm, not 9 am.  I misread our travel app and was thankful for a very understanding husband.

A Slice of Paradise: The Big Island of Hawai'i

A Slice of Paradise: The Big Island of Hawai'i

It's been a while since I posted.  OK, more than a while.  First, I decided to take a break this summer after our whirlwind Around The World tour and other trips last spring. Second, the technology gods struck.  Big time. So after several fits and starts, including having to repost this blog to reconnect all the "bits and bobs" (my apologies), I'm back on track. Or at least let's hope. August was another crazy month of travel.  A trip to Florida (did I say it was August?)  to see my nephew graduate from college, up to Tahoe for a weekend gathering, and finally a great week on the island of Hawai'i, aka the "The Big Island", for a dear friend's big birthday.  Aloha!

Around the World Trip - Last Stop, Vietnam

Around the World Trip - Last Stop, Vietnam

The final country on our Around the World adventure was Vietnam. We spent eight days in this beautiful country and visited four very unique locations: Hoi An, Hanoi, Sapa, and the stunning Ha Long Bay.  There are a few more images than usual in this post, but represent only a glimpse into this stunning country. Hoi An is a beautifully maintained 19th century trading port and UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its lanterns and the place to get custom made clothes and shoes made within hours.

Around the World Trip - Cambodia

Around the World Trip - Cambodia

Cambodia was a sobering (and stifling hot) experience.  We began in Phnom Penh, the capital city, touring various sites and and visiting the Genocide Museum. This was the actual site where prisoners of war were tortured by the Khmer Rouge during Pol Pot's regime from 1975 to 1979.  We remembered Pot Pot, but hadn't realized the extent of his power and destruction.  In what is now known as the Killing Fields, he is responsible for over 3 million deaths, or 25% of country's best and brightest, through torture and starvation. We flew onto Siem Reap to visit Cambodia's most well known temple, Angkor Wat.  The temple is a huge complex but even so, it was a zoo! Thousands of people were packed in tight battling for a spot to get the classic sunrise shot.  I ended up sitting in the mud to get this shot as there was no way I was going to come this far and not get it.

Around the World Trip - Maldives

Around the World Trip - Maldives

What an unexpected delight it was to find the Maldives!  For those who aren't familiar (we weren't), it's a ring of 1200 islands located about 600 miles south of the southern most tip of India. We'd heard of it many times over the years from multiple well-traveled friends who'd said it was their favorite place on earth. So we gambled and added it to our around the world itinerary.  Not a trivial thing to do as it took four long flights to get into and out of this tiny slice of paradise. Was it worth it? Oh yeah.  We're planning on returning in 2019!

Around the World Trip - India and the Taj Mahal

Around the World Trip - India and the Taj Mahal

Our visit to India and the Taj Mahal started and ended with travel issues.  It was bound to happen, right?  Upon arrival, Steve's luggage didn't make it and on the way out the airlines claimed we didn't have tickets, but that's a whole other story. No matter, on we went to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.  The Taj was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 1600's as a tomb for his third wife.  Don't know about you, but I wondered what the first and second wives thought about that! I knew we'd be impressed with the Taj Mahal, but we were blown away.  It's presence is powerful, emanating elegance and calm, perfect in detail and proportion. It's almost as if it's alive, a queen sitting in her garden.

Around the World Trip - Little Petra and Tea With the Bedouins

Around the World Trip - Little Petra and Tea With the Bedouins

For our second day in Petra we opted for the highly recommended experience of hiking back into Petra early in the morning to watch the sun slowly light up the Treasury. Unfortunately for us, however, it was a cloudy day which turned to light rain. We did spend a few moments at the Treasury, quietly sipping glasses of traditional Jordonian hot (and very) sweet tea. Lucky for us we were the only people there and it was quiet magical. Rain or not, our next stop was “Little Petra,” a nearby archaeological site where the traders used to stop and rest their camels before arriving into Petra. By the time we got there there, the sky had cleared and it was glorious day.  When we pulled into the parking lot we were met by Mamoud, a local Bedouin, who was born his family's tent in Little Petra andused to live in the caves.   He offered us a guided tour of Little Petra and tea in his tent. How could we resist?

Around the World Trip - Petra, Jordan

Around the World Trip - Petra, Jordan

Petra. Wow. Petra. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the grandeur of this ancient city. It is absolutely without question one of the most impressive places I've had the great fortune to visit. Dating back to 300 BC, it was originally the home of the Nabataeans. Until about 20 years ago, this intricately carved city was home to the Bedouins who have since moved to the nearby city of Wasi Musa or into their traditional tents. You enter the city through a long and narrowing passage of red and black waving sandstone called the Siq and at the end, catch a teasing glimpse of the Treasury and what is to come. You catch your breath.

Around the World Trip - Eqypt Part I: Welcome!

Around the World Trip - Eqypt Part I: Welcome!

Greetings from Luxor, Eqypt, home of the Valley of the Kings!  This is the first post of our Around the World Trip: 6 Countries, 17 hotels, 22 flights, 32 days. A crazy trip to celebrate my retirement!!  So travel along with me to Eqypt, Jordan, India, Maldives, Cambodia and Vietnam.

We arrived safely in Cairo late Sunday evening and very early Monday morning flew south to Luxor to begin our four-day cruise up the Nile River to Aswan. An already short night was made even shorter as Steve (and by association, me) set his alarm for 2:30 am to watch the Super Bowl. He had to stop watching the game minutes before it ended as we had to catch a cab to the airport, which was painful.  It was a couple of days before he finally got to hear the outcome but at least the Patriots won!