Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Road trips, long or short they can be exhausting

Road trips conjure up a lot of different things for different people.

It's a relatively cheaper experience than going by plane or other forms of transport.

It is usually reserved for trips made within one's own country where there are wide open spaces, in such countries as the US, Canada, and Australia, to name a few.

The time away can be for a few days, or a week or so, can be used to stay in a number of different places, or go to one specific place, usually not all that far from home.

It can be used a means to go visiting relatives in another state, or on the other side of the country.
It can also be a time when a parent or both parents may reconnect with their children, or find out how much they have changed without them noticing.  It might be different for one parent, particularly if they spend a lot of time at work and tend to miss that awkward growing up phase.

Holidays and in particular, road trips, are a great way to discover how much their children hate them, resent them, or are prepared to make their parents lives miserable.

Especially if they didn't really want to go.

Or hate the idea of meeting their mothers, or their father's parents.

It's that continuous confinement in the car, for long periods, in close proximity to each other, and their parents, that begins to work its magic very quickly.

A small argument starts then erupts into a brawl, one or other blames the other when the car stops and a confrontation erupts.

And parents have to choose their words wisely, otherwise, a molehill becomes an unclimbable, immovable mountain.

Hang on, it's only three hours out and we're way past that.

"I didn't want to go in the first place."

"I'm old enough to stay home alone, anyway."

While they might consider 12 is not the new 18, I've seen the home alone movies.

And this is followed by the deal breaker, "I never wanted to go see your parents anyway.  They're creepy."

Whilst your mind flips over to an Adams Family episode, and think, for one second, that Uncle Joseph might be little like Uncle Fester.  But it does not change the fact, we're still going.

It's about the same moment you realize you don't know who your children are anymore, and the fact work has become so consuming you are missing out on their lives.

This may be deliberate of course, another way to hide from your responsibilities, but quite often the excuse you have to work long hours to support the new throwaway lifestyle every child thinks they deserve, along with going to the best schools and having the latest fashion trends.

Of course, the fact money grows on trees is a given rather than expected.

It might also explain why your children are getting into trouble continuously, a cry out for the attention they deserve.

Making an attempt is only the first step, and you will have to endure a lot of attitude before the thaw sets in.

It might also be the time when one or other parents use the words 'bonding time'.

Of course, you might just get past the children's resentment, but what really hurts is the other spouse saying, the only reason they're going by road is it takes five days there and five days back and it's ten days less you have to spend with them.

That, of course, is the icing on the cake.

Along with the fact you didn't prebook motels along the way thinking it was not the time of year for them to be full, and then suddenly realizing because the kids are with you its school holidays, and everyone else has the same idea.

Organizational skills, zero!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Hotels - the number of stars doesn't necessarily classify it

Hotels can also be one of the major let downs of a holiday.

If you are going to use a travel agent to pick a hotel for you, make sure you check as much as you can because no matter how it is described, seeing it, in reality, is always completely different than the pictures in a brochure and sometimes on the Internet.

It requires research and a good look at TripAdvisor.  Or word of mouth by someone you know and trust who have stayed there.

Take, for instance, staying in a five-star hotel the usual stomping ground of the rich and famous, it is always interesting to see how the less privileged fare.  Where hotel staff is supposed to treat each guess equally it is not always the case.  Certainly, if you're flashing money around, the staff will be happy to take it though you may not necessarily get what you're expecting.

We are lucky to be in the highest loyalty level and this gives us a number of privileges; this time working in our favor but it is not always the case.  Privilege can sometimes count for nothing.  It often depends on the humor of the front desk clerk and woe betide you if you get the receptionist from hell.

Been there, done that, more than once.

Then there is the room.  There is such a wide variety of rooms available even if the hotel site or brochure had representative pictures the odds are you can still get a room that is nothing like you're expecting or were promised.

Believe me, there are rooms with a view, overlooking pigeon coops or air-conditioning vents.

And if you’re lucky, at Niagara Falls, it might be that six inches of window space that allows a very limited view of the falls.  Still, why should I complain, you can see the Falls can you not?

A bone of contention often can be the location of the hotel and sometimes parking facilities, not the least of which is the cost Valet parking; forget it.

We are reasonably near transport, yes, if we could walk the distance (which feels like the length of a marathon) to the nearest bus or tram stop.  The problem is we both have trouble with knees and ankles and walking distances are difficult at the best of times, and for us, it is a long, long way when you can't walk and that's when the hotel starts to feel like a prison.  Taxis may be cheap but when you have to use them three or four times a day it all adds up.

Also, be wary when a hotel says it is close to public transport.

While that may be true in London, anywhere else and especially in Europe, you could find yourself in the middle of nowhere. It’s when you discover your travel agent didn't exactly lie but it is why that weekly rate was so cheap.  In the end, the sum of the taxi fares and the accommodation turns out to be dearer that if you stayed at the Savoy.

So airline, hire car and hotel aside those front-line experiences are fodder for the travel blogger, these people who are also known as road warriors.

I wondered why until we started traveling and discovered the incredible highs and lows, of flying, yes there are good and bad airlines and the bad are not confined to the low cost, of rental cars and of hotels.

There is a very large gulf between five stars and three and sometimes three can be very generous.

And of course, l now have a list of hotels l would never stay in again, the names of which might surprise you.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Aratiatia Dam, Taupo, New Zealand

Aratiatia Dam water release, Taupo

The Aratiatia Dam, rapids, and hydroelectric power station are located on the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river.  It is about 16km from Taupo, and 6km from Huka falls, and there is a walking track, for the fit, of course, between the two water attractions.

This happens three or four times every day, depending on the season, and lasts about 15 minutes.  Water is released at the rate of about 80,000 liters a second, so it is quite a lot of water being sent through the rapids.

There are a number of viewing points, the most popular being from the bridge, where I took these photos, and 5 minutes down the walking track to the ridgeline where you can get an overview of the river.

This is looking towards the rapids, as the catchment leading to the rapids starts to fill

The pool is almost full and the excess is starting its journey towards the rapids

Now full, the rapids are at capacity as up to 80,000 liters a second are heading down a 28-meter drop heading towards the hydroelectric power station.

And once full at the bottom, there is a jet boat ride available for a closer view of the water, and a few thrills to go with it.

The Trials of Traveling: Arranging a trip for 7 passengers

I'm in the middle of arranging a holiday.  No big deal, really.  Airfares, accommodation, rental car, simple.

I know where I'm going from, I know where I'm going to.

How hard can it be?

Oh, did I forget to say there's seven people traveling, four adults, three children?

OK, airlines do not class 14-year-olds as children, but adults.

But this time it seems that booking the airline seats was the easiest of the tasks.

Of course, we have yet to the seating arrangements on the plane, and at the moment we are supposed to be on an A320-200, which has a 2-4-2 seating plan.  8 across when we have 7.  Who is going to sit by themselves?  Someone else can sort that out.

So, try using any combination of 7 to book hotel rooms.  I tried several times with all sorts of whacky results and expensive options.  Seems you have to use a more basic combination, 4 adults and 3 children, and this two brings up a multitude of different options, but one or two hotels recognize the fact you may have a larger family and accommodate it.

Yes, I booked what we needed, two adjoining rooms with twin queen beds.  You try putting two children in the same bed, you need space between them.

Now we have to do something about transportation.  A car is not going to be big enough.

We have 7 passengers, this time it doesn't matter how old they are.  7 passengers, 7 bags, and 7 cabin bags, computers, handbags, etc.  You get the drift, plenty of luggage.

No matter which car site you go to, putting 7 people in, doesn't do anything but give you a list of all their cars, so I move to the end of the list.

Small cars, medium cars, large cars, aha, down to the SUV's, seating 5 and space for 4 cases.

Not enough.

Going down.

An iMax, seating for 8 and 4 cases, quite possibly more.  A bit iffy.

Keep going.

Aha!  A Toyota Highace, 12 passengers, 12 cases, bingo.  And a reasonable cost too.

Now all that's left is the travel insurance, that's reasonably easy, but not necessarily cheap.

All of this was not easy, and it took nearly a week.

One thing I discovered is that you need a travel agent, and make sure you know what you want.  It may take a little longer but it's worth it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rome - August is not the time of year to go there

We visited Rome in August

It was hot.

It was verrrry hot.

We flew into Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino airport after a rather bumpy flight from London.  Unlike most other airports the plane parked at a satellite terminal and after we disembarked we had to catch a train to the main terminal.

The most notable memory of this airport was my daughter’s discovery of a salami shop.
We had booked a transfer to take us to the hotel the Roma Corso Trieste Mercure in Via Gradisca from the airport.  It was a white air-conditioned van and so far we had avoided the heat.
One of the rooms had a faulty air conditioning an absolute must as the rooms were very hot without it and necessitated a room change which was done quickly and efficiently.

The hotel was in the suburbs and without a car we were dependent on public transport.  According to the reception staff, there was a bus stop nearby, and a longer walk to the tram or light railway.  The bus seemed to be the best option as it would take us to the central terminal near the railway station, where all tour buses also operated from, and particularly the open top buses that went to all the major tourist attractions.

That first day basically was given over to traveling, arriving by plane and settling into the hotel, thus we didn't get to feel the force of the heat.  That came the next day.

After a walk around the hotel precinct to get our bearings and see what shops and restaurants were available, on returning to the hotel we were faced with the limited choices of room service or to go out for dinner.

My daughter and l go for a long walk up Via Nomentana to find several shops and a restaurant.  We went into the restaurant and sat down.   We waited for 10 minutes and got no service nor did anyone come and ask us if we wanted to order food so instead we left somewhat disappointed and go next door to what seems to be the Italian version of a delicatessen and order sandwiches and beer.   I bought a half dozen cans of Moretti beer two of which I drank on the way home.

It was still very hot even at eight at night and the sandwiches are delicious.  It just might be by that time we were starving and anything would have tasted great.

The next morning we are up and ready to chance the weather and some history.  Breakfast at the hotel is limited but very good.

We were going to use public transport and I'd studied up on the Internet.

Traveling on the bus required pre-purchase of tickets which could be bought in certain shops and locally when exploring the area near the hotel, l found a tobacconist.

Next, we needed to understand how to use the tickets. There was no one on the bus who could help so when l tried to scan the tickets and it failed, l gave up.  We had the same issue each day and in the end, the tickets never got used.

The trip to central Rome by bus took about 15 minutes.  In the morning it was reasonably cool and showed us a little of suburban Rome.  We also saw the trams but we would not be able to use them because our hotel not on a direct route.

That first full day we decided to go and see the Vatican.

Not understanding buses and which one we needed to get to the Vatican, we took a taxi.
Wow.  It was the metaphorical equivalent of driving over the edge of a cliff with a daredevil.  It was quite literally terrifying.

Or maybe we just didn't know that this was probably the way people drove in Rome.
Shaken but delivered in one piece we found ourselves in the square opposite St Peters Basilica.
The square is impressive, with the statues atop a circular colonnaded walkway.  The church is incredible and took a few hours to take in and to top off the day, we did a tour of the Vatican museum which took the rest of the afternoon.

Then it was back to the delicatessen for more sandwiches and beer, and an interesting discussion with several elderly Italian ladies, of which I did not understand one word.

The second full day we decided to use one of the open top bus tours and eventually decided on the hop on hop off tour simply because the bus was at the central transport terminal for trains and buses and it was getting hotter.

Our first stop was the Colosseum.  There were other monuments nearby, such as the Arch of Constantine, but as the heat factor increased we joined the queue to go into the Colosseum and gladly welcomed the shade once we got inside.

The queue was long and the wait equally so, but it was worth the wait.  It would be more interesting if they could restore part of it to its former glory so we could get a sense of the place as it once was.  But alas that may never happen, but even so, it is still magnificent as a ruin.

Outside in the heat, it was off to the ruins which were a longish walk from the Colosseum, taking Via Sacra, not far from the Arch of Constantine.  This day in the walkway there were a number of illegal vendors, selling knockoff goods such as handbags and watches, and who, at the first sight of the police, packed up their wares in a blanket and ran.

Included in these ruins were The Roman Forum, or just a few columns remaining, the Palatine Hill, Imperial Fori, including the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Caesar, and more specifically the Forum of Trajan.  It was, unfortunately very hot and dusty in the ruins the day we visited.
We walked all the way to the Foro Romano and the Septimus Severo Arch at the other end of the ruins, past the Temple of Caesar.

I found it very difficult to picture what it was like when the buildings were intact, so I bought a guide to the ruins which showed the buildings as ruins and an overlay of how they would have looked.  The buildings, then, would be as amazing as the Colosseum, and it would have been interesting to have lived back then, though perhaps not as a Christian.

I lost count of the number of bottles of water we bought, but the word ‘frizzante’ was ringing in my ears by the end of the day.  Fortunately, the water did not cost a lot to buy.

At the end of the day, we caught the hop on hop off bus at the Colosseum and decided not to get off and see any more monuments but observe them from the bus.  The only one I remember seeing was Circo Massimo.  Perhaps if we’d know it was going to be twice as hot on the bus, yes, there was no air-conditioning; we may have chosen another form of transport to get back to the hotel.

The third and last day in Rome we decided to go to the Trevi Fountain, see the pantheon and walk up the Spanish Steps.  We spent most of the morning in the cool of a cafĂ© watching the tourists at the fountain.  By the time we reached the top of the Spanish Steps, we were finished.

It was time to move on to Paris.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Waitomo caves house, North Island, New Zealand

A relatively unassuming lane leads to what could be described as a grand hotel, called Waitomo Caves Hotel.

The original hotel was built in 1908, and it was later extended in 1928 it was extended.  Part of it is 'Victorian', based on an eastern Europe mountain chalet, and part of it is 'Art Deco', the concrete wing, and a feature, if it could be called that, is none of the four corners are the same.

Views from the balcony show part of the surrounding gardens

and the town of Waitomo in the distance.

In gloomy weather, it does look rather spooky, and I suspect there may be a ghost or two lurking somewhere in the buildings.

We all deserve a break, but just how are you going to take it?

Leave, Vacation, or Holiday - don't you deserve a break?

Some people we know have come up for a holiday in what could be described as a very touristy location.

But is it for a 'holiday'?

They have come from one state and are staying in what could be called an apartment, not a hotel.

They are here for a week.

So, they have a kitchen of sorts and can cook their own meals, unlike staying in a hotel room and having to eat out or in the hotel restaurant, and the apartment has a mini laundry.

How much different is this to being at home?

Perhaps we need to have a definition of the word 'holiday' and its variations.  A lot of people's use the term 'vacation'.  Others use the term 'leave'.  Leave's a difficult term because it can cover a number of types such as annual, sick, and maternity.

But whatever we want to call it, is it when you're taking some time away from work.

Is it when you go 'away', that is to say anywhere but home?

You say, 'I'm going on vacation."

We say, "Oh, where are you going?"

Some say camping.  Is that any different than staying in an apartment, or even a holiday house?  Still all the same chores, cooking, cleaning, washing.

Is this why so many people are now going on cruises and hotels are so full these days.

There will always those who will go camping and stay is self-serve places like apartments, but for me, a holiday is staying in a five-star hotel where the only worry is where the nearest dry cleaner is.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Another visit to Windsor Castle, London, England

A fine day, on this trip a rarity, we decided to take the train to Windsor and see the castle.

This is a real castle, and still in one piece, unlike a lot of castles.

Were we hoping to see the Queen, no, it was highly unlikely.

But there were a lot of planes flying overhead into Heathrow.  The wind must have been blowing the wrong day, and I'm sure, with one passing over every few minutes, it must annoy the Queen if she was looking for peace and quiet.

Good thing then, when it was built, it was an ideal spot, and not under the landing path.  I guess it was hard to predict what would happen 500 years in the future!

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I'm not sure if this was the front gate or back gate, but I was wary of any stray arrows coming out of those slits either side of the entrance.

You just never know!

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An excellent lawn for croquet.  This, I think, is the doorway, on the left, where dignitaries arrive by car.  The private apartments are across the back.

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The visitor's apartments.  Not sure who that is on the horse.

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St George's Chapel.  It's a magnificent church for a private castle.  It's been very busy the last few months with Royal weddings.

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The Round Tower, or the Keep.  It is the castle's centerpiece.  Below it is the gardens.

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Those stairs are not for the faint-hearted, nor the Queen I suspect.  But I think quite a few royal children and their friends have been up and down them a few times.

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And well worth the effort to reach the bottom.

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Any faces peering out through the windows?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Surfers Paradise, or the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

It was recently topical because of the Commonwealth Games, but we have been to the Gold Coast on many occasions and nearly always stayed at the Hilton.

Nearly all of the photos here are taken from floor 13 through to 45, some close to the ocean, others facing north, and west, towards the hinterland.

Below is one of the main beaches, where the typical sun, sand, and surf pretty well sums it up.  Been ion the water a few times myself, and it is amazing how warm it can be on some days, and how cold it can be on others.

And a surfer's paradise it sure is!

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At the bottom, the start of the shopping centers and eateries.  The is more different types of food there that can be counted on the fingers and toes together.

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The beach just to the north, and where the market stalls set up at night.

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Further north, through the highrises, and far, far into the distance towards Brisbane.

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North, again, looking up Cavill Avenue.

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South, showing highrises and the Q Tower.

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South, taken from the Q Tower, the coastline to Coolangatta dotted with high rise apartment blocks.

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The two towers behind the Grand Chancellor, are the twin towers of the Hilton Hotel.

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From the Q Tower, looking towards the canal residential precinct.

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Yes, we were looking for whales, no we didn't see any.  The ocean, though, was unusually calm.

The Statues of Florence, Italy

Or some them, at least.

There are a large number of statues in Florence, some more notable than others.

Like castles on the shores of the Rhine, there are only so many statues you can take photos of.  Below are some of those I thought significant

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Michelangelo’s David directs his warning gaze at someone else.

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The impressive muscles of Baccio Bandinelli’s Hercules from 1533. The worked-out demi-god is pulling the hair of Cacus, who will be clubbed and strangled.

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Achilles with Polyxena in arm, stepping over her brother's body

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Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus, in the Loggia dei Lan

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Statue of Hercules killing the Centaur by Giambologna in Loggia dei Lanzi. Piazza della Signoria.

On the back of the Loggia there are six marble female statues, probably coming from the Trajan’s Foro in Rome, discovered in 1541 and brought to Florence in 1789

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Houses of Parliament, London, England

We were in London in Summer, it was a fine afternoon, going into the evening and we decided to get on the London Eye.  As you can see from the clock it was near 7:00 pm.


This photo was taken as we were coming down.

Those long evenings were quite remarkable, not in the least going to a pub and sinking a few pints!  There was one such pub not far from Charing Cross Station

The pub was called 'The Princess of Wales'

And still be light enough to find your way home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Flinders Street Station Clock Tower, Melbourne Australia

This is the famous clock tower of the Flinders Street Station (the main train station for suburban trains) in Melbourne.

We were staying in a hotel (The Doubletree) directly opposite to the station and our room overlooked the station and the clock tower.  I took photos of it during the day:

and this one, at night.  It came out better than I thought it would.


Oreti Village, where we prefer to stay

This is not the name of a village but of a timeshare resort located new Pukawa Bay, about 12 kms from Taurangi.

We have an original timeshare in Rosebud, Victoria, Australia, and space bank our week so we can go elsewhere in the world, though it seems it is mostly to New Zealand.

Oreti Village is about as remote from a city as you can get, and we love it.  Quiet, picturesque, and very relaxing we come to do what we call veg, just wind down and do nothing.  The place we stay is a self-contained three bedroom unit with full kitchen laundry and ample room for six people not to fall over each other.

It costs us 199 dollars for the week.

An equivalent anywhere else would cost between $1,200 and $2,500.  I know, I've tried.

The best part about this place is the walks, all of which are manageable for people like us, no longer able to run a marathon or hike from dawn to dusk, and along the way at be entertained by ducks geese swans and the off rabbit.  Well, this year there were a lot more rabbits.  Even in the rain, early morning or late afternoon, there's always something different to admire.  We tend to feed the ducks and swans.

I'm sure there is more to the facilities of the village, like a tennis court and a heated pool, and more but we never had the inclination to find out.  Maybe in the future, we might.  There's no doubt we will be going back.  One day.

At the resort there is a 5-star restaurant where over the years we have stayed has provided us with some of the most memorable dinners and an interesting selection of wines, mostly local.

What more could you possibly want?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Washington DC - The Capitol

When we were last in Baltimore, we decided to take a side trip to Washington DC by the train, and then pick up a rental car in Washington to drive back to New York.

Remarkably, it turned out to be a fine day, clear blue skies, but very cold.

We walked from the railway station to the Capitol and then spent most of the day exploring the buildings and monuments.


The Capitol building is the home of the United States Congress and is the seat of the legislative branch of the US Federal Government.  It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall.


The original building was built in 1800 and the dome was added in a later expansion.  The house of representatives is in the south wing, and the Senate is in the north wing.



Not far from the Capitol was the Library of Congress,

Monday, October 15, 2018

Melbourne, Australia, plane spotting at the airport

On our last flight to Brisbane from Melbourne, and as I usually do when I'm at the airport with time on my hands, I wander off to do some plane spotting.

This is a Virgin Airlines ATR 72.  This airplane is a twin-engined turboprop, short-haul regional airliner developed and produced in France and Italy by aircraft manufacturer ATR.  

A Qantas Dreamliner, the first one I have seen up close, and not in a photograph or on TV.  I have yet to take a flight in one, and hopefully, the anticipation will be over when we travel from New York to Vancouver later in the year (not with Qantas, but with Air Canada).

Other airplanes there were an Emirates A380 and a Qantas A380, also an airplane I have been on (Emirates) from Auckland to Brisbane, and another belonging to Singapore Airlines, not long after it commenced service between Singapore and Sydney.

Taurangi, it's an interesting town

Located at the bottom of Lake Taupo, staying here would make more sense if you were here for the fishing, and, well, the skiing or the hiking, or just a relaxing half hour in the thermal pools.

I saw a sign somewhere that said that Taurangi was New Zealand's premier fishing spot.  I might have got the wrong, but it seems to me they're right.  On the other side of town, heading towards Taupo, there's a lodge that puts up fly fishermen, and where you can see a number of them in an adjacent river trying their luck.

It's what I would be doing if I had the patience.

But Taurangi is a rather central place to stay, located at the southernmost point of the lake.  From there it is not far from the snowfields of Whakapapa and Turoa.  Equally, at different times of the year, those ski fields become walking or hiking tracks, and the opportunity to look into a dormant volcano, Ruapehu.

It is basically surrounded by hills and mountains on three sides and a lake on the other.  Most mornings, and certainly everyone is different, there is a remarkable sunrise, particularly from where we were staying on the lake, where it could be cloudy, clear, or just cold and refreshing, with a kaleidoscope of colors from the rising sun.

I don't think I've been there to see two days the same.

However, Taurangi, on most days we've visited, is even more desolate than Taupo, both on the main street and the central mall.  The same couldn't be said for the precinct where New World, the local supermarket, a Z petrol station can be found.  There it is somewhat more lively.  The fact there's a few more shops and a restaurant might help traffic flow.

There is also a mini golf course, and in the middle of winter, it is a bleak place to be, especially in the threatening rain, and the wind.  It had also seen better days and in parts, in need of a spruce up, but it's winter, and there are no crowds, so I guess it will wait till the Spring.

In the mall, there's the expected bank, newsagent, gift shop and post office combined, and a number of other gift shops/galleries.  But the best place is the cafe which I've never seen empty and has an extended range of pies pastries and cakes, along with the fast food staples of chips and chicken.
Oh, and you can also get a decent cup of coffee there.

There are two other coffee shops but we found this one the first time we came, we were given a warm welcome and assistance, and have never thought to go anywhere else, despite two known change of owners.

But despite all these reasons why someone might want to stay there, we don't.

We have a timeshare, and there's a timeshare in Pukaki called Oreti Villiage.  That's where we stay.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hong Kong, The hotel, the car park, the front entrance, cafes, arcades, and a tailor

I've seen in many times when we visited Hong Kong, but never quite made it to stay at the Peninsula Hotel, not until I decided to put it on my bucket list, and, having just turned 65, we decided to spend my birthday there.

 Of course, arriving in a green Rolls Royce helps to enhance the experience. and is, if you are going to stay at the Penisula, a mandatory extra.

It is rather difficult to imagine what the hotel would have been like in 1928 when it was built.  Without the central tower behind the old hotel building, the tall buildings around it, and all the buildings between the hotel and the waterfront, it would be easy to say it had a prime position.

It’s not far from the Star Ferry terminal, the main transport from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island.  Since then, there is the MTR and the underground tunnel for vehicles, but back then it was the ferry or nothing.

Outside, the centerpiece to the driveway is a fountain.  Around the edges are the cars, the Tesla’s, the Mercedes, the Audi’s and a Rolls Royce or two.  There was even a Lamborghini.  I could see myself doing a tour of the island by Lamborghini.

Or not.  The traffic would be very unkind to such a machine.

Inside the front door, the main part of the ground floor foyer stretches from one side of the building to the other, save for arcades of shops at the ends.  High priced goods can be bought here by the rich and famous.

What is interesting is that they have a very smartly dressed porter at the front door to open it for you.  It seemed very appropriate for a hotel steeped in old world charm.

Either side of the entrance walkway that leads to reception and the concierge desk, and two magnificent staircases.  It is all marble floor, marble columns with sculptures at the top and ornate ceilings. 

And the endless cacophony of sounds you would expect in such a large space.  Either side of the central walkway is the cafe, elegantly set tables, each with its own flower.

People coming and going, people meeting other people, people arriving, people departing.  Hotel staff bustling from place to place and serving staff moving among the guests dining in the Foyer cafe.

The staircase leads to the mezzanine floor where there are more shops, and then up to the first floor where the veranda cafe and the Spring Moon restaurant is located.  The Spring Moon is where we will be having dinner tonight.


So much for the quick hotel orientation.

I had decided that if there was time, and we could find a tailor, I’d get some trousers made that would fit me.  Previously this had been done at Fletcher Jones, a place where clothes were tailor-made for individuals, but it has now gone.

A search on the internet for tailors near the hotel leads to one which is not very far away.  We will go and see what is possible.

To get to the tailor we have to go up Nathan road to Carnarvon road, on paper, several blocks.  One thing I’d forgotten about the last time we were in Hong Kong was the touts on every corner, and in between, offering tailoring or copy watches and handbags.  They are persistent and in your face every twenty yards.  They are not even Chinese, nor do they have a very good command of English.
I’m not sure where we’d finish up if we ever took up one of their offers.

At the street where the tailor is located, there are more tailor shops and we have to endure more touts before getting to the arcade.  Then, as we headed towards the door to the tailor, another tailor tried to guide us into his shop next door.  You have to have your wits about you.

Once inside our chose tailor, we could almost breathe a sigh of relief.  The question now is whether we had chosen well.  Those in the shop, two men, and a woman are not Chinese, but Indian I think.  There was a brief discussion about the material, with two bolts of material retrieved.  Italian.  They were two of about a thousand that lined the side and back wall.  Whether that would be the material I eventually ended up with was debatable, and would have to be taken on trust.

The owner spent his time sitting at the back while I was measured, and a quote made up.  These two pairs of trousers were not going to be cheap, in fact, there are very expensive.  But, they were made to measure, the first trousers I have bought since my last pairs from Fletcher Jones, a company that no longer exists.

When could I have a fitting?  I only had three days in Hong Kong.

Come back at five.

I paid the money, and left, fully expecting to find the shop gone along with all trace of my money when I returned.

Or I might just get lucky.  We shall see.

Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong

After arriving in Hong Kong early in the morning, we were taken to the Hong Kong Conrad Hotel where we were staying for several days.  We had a short sleep, then I took the grandchildren for a walk and we found Hong Kong park, with a Fountain Plaza, waterways, a waterfall, and turtles.

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Part of the fountain area.

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Turtles resting on a rock

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A turtle about to go in the water

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The waterfall.

It was a pleasant surprise to find this park in such a highly built-up area.

Nearby was a multi-story underground shopping center that was huge, and very conveniently accessible from our hotel.