Monday, November 1, 2010

Down Under Slideshow - Part 1

Below is a two part slideshow of photographs from our trip set to music inspired by trip events. Home Among the Gum Tree was a song we sang and danced to at our dinner at the Wetherby Station Cattle Ranch. We sang and learned the meaning to the words of Waltzing Matilda on one of our bus rides. When we reached New Zealand Linda sang the unofficial anthem and love song, Pokarrekare Ana. When searching for an appropriate song for the grandeur of the South Island, I stumble upon the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's recording of New Zealand Suite - Milford Sound. The final song, Isa Lei, was sung for us by the villagers in Fiji.

Part 1 contains pictures of Cairns and Sydney in Australia.

Down Under Slideshow Part 2

Part 2 contains pictures of Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound, and Auckland in New Zealand, and ends with Fiji.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good-bye Fiji, Hello USA – Day 21

We had a wonderful final day in Fiji.  First we took a long walk along the beach on the hotel grounds to their wedding chapel.  What a picturesque spot!  It was a warm, humid day, as is normal for Fiji, but the breeze off of the water felt wonderful. 
The glass widows in the front provided an gorgeous view of the ocean.

Next we took a glass bottom boat ride over the reef area and saw lots of fish and interesting coral.  I took a dip in the South Pacific Ocean.  Such beautiful water! I was going to post a picture of me in the water, but me in a bathing suit… it’s just not a pretty sight.

View of part of the resort from our glass bottom boat ride.  We were on the 3rd floor of the building to the right.
After cleaning up, we loaded the bus to the airport for our late night flight with Little Brownie in toe.  Do we look like a couple of tourists or what?
A few words about Grand Circle… This has been a great experience for me.  I can see why Bonnie has chosen to travel with this company for several of her trips.  They planned a packed itinerary for us with a total of 7 flights. All went smoothly without a glitch.  As you can see from the pictures, we had great accommodations with wonderful views. The cultural exchanges were interesting and enriching.  But most impressive was our tour guide, Lynda Keene. Being a native of New Zealand and part Maori, she had so much insight into the indigenous cultures on our tour.  She was upbeat and made every effort to meet our needs as they arose. She provided so many little extras throughout the trip.  Although she hasn’t spent time in the classroom, she is a true teacher.
Bonnie, Lynda, Little Brownie & Sheila, at our farewell dinner
Some of the highlights of each area we visited include:
  • Our dinner at the ranch in Cairns
  • The Opera House experience and harbor cruise in Sydney
  • Spending time with our new friends, Ann and Lynn, in Christchurch
  • The glorious beauty of the Queenstown to Milford Sound bus ride and cruise
  • Our chance at the helm sailing in Auckland
  • The cultural experience with the villagers and school children in Fiji
We had many wonderful experiences and enjoyed the other travelers as well.  This will be a trip long remembered.
Parting shot in Fiji as we headed to the airport.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bula from Fiji - Day 20

Tomorrow ends our adventure.  I will make one more post when we arrive home.  Many of us travelers are becoming a bit weary.  We have been on the go constantly for almost three weeks now.

This morning I headed out with the group to the Kula Eco Park. About a third of the group, including Bonnie, opted to take the morning off.  The park is trying to bring back the endangered iguana and peregrine falcon population.  Local plants and animals can also be found on the grounds of the park. It also serves as a place for school children to learn about their environment.
The park is named after this Kula bird

The Fijian Crested Iguana on my head is endangered. The one on my shoulder is the Fijian Banded Iguana


We saw the flying fox, or the fruit bat, in both Australia and here in Fiji.  At night you see them flying around, but during the day they are hanging from the trees.  We saw them up close and personal at the Eco Park, but here they are hanging from the trees at our hotel.

Flying foxes at Kula Eco Park

A few words about Fiji… It is definitely a third world country.  There are many poor people here with an unstable government.  The Shangri-La Resort is beautiful on its 50 acres, but once out of the resort area you see the poverty. There are few paved roads, except for the main roads; and the homes range from cinder block with tin roofs to simple tin houses.  While riding to the Eco Park, we saw men plowing their fields with oxen.  A bridge in town is washed out and not repaired.  But the attitude of the people is carefree and “senga na lenga” - no worries.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bula from Fiji - Days 18 - 19

Day 18 - Depart from Auckland to Figi
We headed for the airport in the morning for our flight to Fiji, arriving here about 4:30 p.m..  Again we had a fantastic view from our room. 
Day 19 - Fiji
We started our day with a tour of the local marketplace which was loaded with fresh produce.  Next we went to a Fijian village where we participated in a welcoming ceremony and were served a great Fijian lunch.  Before heading back to the hotel, we went to a K-8 school that Grand Circle helps support.  The students put on a show, then individual students escorted us to show off their classroom. Beautiful smiles and large almond eyes abound. Tonight we had a traditional Fijian dinner with entertainment including fire-walking. 
Here are peppers and ginger.  Other areas were filled with tropical fruits and many other vegetables.
Bonnie is greeted with a lei.
Our Lunch - Sitting on the floor was a real challenge!


The girl on the right was my host.  She did a traditional dance for our group.

                                     Bonnie and I with the senior fire-walker