Monthly Archives: September 2015

Fiji time! (Days 1-4)

Hello from New Zealand! I’m trying to catch up from where I left off as the wifi in Fiji was like a month of Sunday’s.

Day 1
We arrived in Fiji having travelled in time over the date line. We set off from Hawaii at 1am, flew for nine hours and then arrived the following day at 9am. I think I just about understand this concept, but if I ask Tom to explain it one more time, I fear he may kill me. So yeah. Time travel.

We spent one night on the mainland, in a really lovely hostel. There were hardly any other guests, so we had a really peaceful time and even had a bathroom to ourselves!

Day 2
The next morning we got a bus to the ferry port, checked in and boarded the boat that takes you to the islands. Onboard we booked our first stop. The port is at the bottom of the islands, so we decided to stay onboard for four hours, right to the top so that we could work our way back down.

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(this guy was guarding the entrance to his island.)

We arrived at our first stop, Nabua Lodge, looking very lobster like. (Tom neck, me thighs) bloody idiots. If everyone didn’t already know we were British, they certainly did now!
(Lesson one learnt in Fiji – you can get sunburnt through cloud.)

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The rest of the day was spent eating mutton curry, wandering down the beach for tea and cake at a ladies’ hut (banana cake) and nursing sunburn. In the evening we met all the other guests, there was around ten of us, and had tea and I drank too much wine because it was my birthday. 🙂

Day 3
Sunshine! Glorious sunshine. Little did we know that it would be one of the few sunny days we had in Fiji. Typical.
I woke up early with the sun, and waited for the Fijians to bang the big drum that signals breakfast. (I quite like this idea, and I may start banging a big drum at home whenever I’m hungry and see if anyone feeds me.)
We booked onto the “Blue Lagoon” snorkelling trip. Having somehow reached the age of 25 and never been snorkelling before, there was a short drowning episode before I got the hang of the flippers and breathing through the mouth. I’ve always learnt by doing haha. Once I’d grasped it, it was absolutely incredible! In the clear water we saw so many fish swarming for the bread the instructor threw in: Bright fish, dull fish, long fish, stubby fish, nemo fish, Dory fish, sinister sting ray fish, and my favourite: bright indigo blue starfish!
It was truly awesome. I wish I had an underwater camera so I could show you. It amazes me that they’re down there, it’s a whole new magical world.

UPDATE
Liked scuba diving so much that we went again in the afternoon and I had a half hour drownathon (water in nose, mouth, throat, feet not working, flailing around etc.) and then decided to give up because I was exhausted. No steps back onto the boat and zero upper body strength so had to be hoisted in like a six foot flapping white beached whale. Oh well, it’s rare that I go a day in life without completely humiliating myself!!

(Lesson two learnt in Fiji – snorkelling is hard)

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Day 4
The day of the cave trip.
We got a boat over to another island (nice and choppy) and went to visit the Limestone Blue Lagoon Caves. We had a brief brief, and then were left to our own devices for a bit. This was bizarre as it was just Tom and I, and two Chinese girls who didn’t speak English. We found a big yellow door. (Lesson three learnt in Fiji – sometimes caves have doors) and then steps down into a big blue pool in the cave. We were alone, and so a bit like “do we swim? Or what!?” So we decided to jump in and swim around a bit. Unfortunately again, I don’t have a photo to show you, but it was stunning! Really deep blue water, and it was so nice to swim in a cave. We’d never be able to do that in the UK. We ducked through a small gap into the next cavern, which was a bit scary. But otherwise, we loved it!
On the return to Nabua Lodge, our water taxi man, David, decided to stop and do some fishing… All very nice in theory, but in reality this meant slowing right down for half an hour in choppy waters whilst we were all trying our best not to be sick. Luckily, he caught a huge fish, so that was a great sight! Needless to say, we were relieved to be back at the resort for our final night before moving on.

Things that have surprised me so far:
-in Nabua Lodge, the electricity is only on for certain times in the day. I found it surprisingly refreshing, but the head torch certainly came in useful.
– in the evenings it felt so dark – there was only one lightbulb in the dining room. It made me realise how many lights we have on at home to comfort us in the winter months!
-the tap water was unsafe to drink, so we filled our water bottles from a huge rainwater barrel. It tasted nice though.
– wifi is only available when the electricity is on (duh) and you have to pay for it, so we didn’t bother. It made me realise how long I spend looking at my phone, wasting hours. I didn’t miss it all. Well, only on my birthday haha!

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(This photo was carefully selected as the one showing the least double chin action after America!

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A Polynesian adventure

Morning!

The weather here in Hawaii is absolutely bonkers. In the space of two minutes it will go from blistering heat to gale force wind then over to tropical downpour. I quite like it though. My life is a bit poncho on poncho off poncho on poncho off currently haha!

Yesterday we went on our much anticipated volcano hike. I say much anticipated because Tom booked it in January, much to the delight of our taxi driver, who said “you’re so organised! I love this guy! You’re so lucky!” (To me haha)

The hike wasn’t so much a hike but more of a coach tour. It  wasn’t what we were expecting really, but we had a good time. Our tour guide, Walter, grew up on the island and taught us all about the plants and wildlife, which I found fascinating.

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There’s loads of plants like the above everywhere, and wild orchids too. (Can you tell it was chucking it down?!)

On our way to the volcano, we passed a lava beach, formed when the molten lava enters the see, and cools, creating a brand new coastline.

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After a visit to rainbow waterfall, we went to a macadamia nut factory (tasted amazing) through papaya groves.

We then headed up to killer whale volcano. ( i can’t remember the Hawaiian name – whoops) Walter the tour guide had the most soothing voice I’ve ever heard and the combination of that and the heat meant we literally couldn’t stay awake! Haha!

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Behind Tom, you can see the crater and sulphur coming from the magma within the volcano.

We then went on the sulphur walkway (smelt like farts) and we were warned to stay on the path due to jets of boiling steam coming out from cracks in the earth.

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(In case you were wondering, a flower behind the right ear means your available, and behind the left means you’re spoken for)

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After the summit, we were taken to a lava field. I must admit, waking up to the landscape was very surreal, I felt like I’d woken up on Mars!

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As you can probably tell, it was pissing it down!! Everytime I put my poncho on, it would flap in the wind creating a lot of hilariously embarrassing noise pollution, so I decided to brave the t shirt – at least it was warm.

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On our way back down to Hilo, my phone buzzed and I looked down to find this…

imageSlightly worrying huh? Anyway, nothing came of it, so I can thank modern technology for scaring the shit out of me for no reason.

Today we are flying back to Honolulu. Tomorrow we’re doing a scuba dive guaranteed to see turtles (!!) and then we fly to Fiji that evening.

Dont be too jealous, the money will run out soon and we will be scrubbing toilets. Lots of love!

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Somewhere over the rainbow

Aloha from Hawaii!

We stepped off the plane to Honolulu and instantly noticed a difference in the air from LA. The air felt hot and wet, a bit like like a steam room!

imageIn the airport there are vending machines selling lei. Not something you see everyday!

imageAfter dumping our bags in the hostel, we walked straight down to Waikiki beach. It’s amazing that there’s huge high rise hotels against the beach. The sea is so wonderfully clear and blue. There were loads of surfers too, which Hawaii is famous for.

imageWatching the sunset on the beach was absolutely stunning! After a sushi and beer tea on the beach, we wandered back towards our hostel and stumbled across a bunch of Hawaiin locals singing and playing their ukuleles. As we stood to listen, they invited us to sit down. We then watched a few of the women doing the hula dance and they asked me to join in! I was pretty rubbish, but it was an incredible experience!

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Today we woke up, and left our big bags at the hostel and had a beach day. We found this incredible tree (above) which was so cool that I shouted “you are the best tree I have ever seen!” at it! The branches hung down and then took root in the ground. I couldn’t fit the whole tree into the photo it was so big!

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I love Hawaii! I could live here, so chilled. I just need to learn to surf now!

Hawaii is made up of a few islands, and today we took a 45 minute flight to Hilo (the locals call it Big Island) we arrived in torrential downpour in the dark, and got a taxi to our hostel… Only to find the hostel had closed down and we were alone, getting soaked in the dark in a town that looks like something from a Wild West movie.

Luckily we found another hostel to stay in, which looks like somewhere you would stay if you were doing an African Safari in the 1930s!

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Behind tom is actually a bird cage with two songbirds inside, called Sonny and Cher haha!

Things that made me laugh:

– the “hostile dog”… We then realised the receptionist meant “hostel dog.” Phew.

– these:

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Only in America!

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I will talk and Hollywood will listen.

Well hi there, I’m coming at you through the cornflakes of Los Angeles!

LA has been our first AirBnB experience and it’s been great! We found the apartment no problem, and weren’t sure which room was ours so picked one and dumped our bags. Turned out the room belonged to Ben, who when we apologised, said “don’t worry, you’re in California now, we’re all friends here!” Ben is actually from Melbourne, Australia, and kindly gave us a lift to the beach true Aussie style – barefoot and with his surfboard in the front seat. It was lovely to get some info from someone who lives locally so we followed his reccomendations and went to check out the canal and Venice Beach. image

The lifeguard stations on Venice Beach are true baywatch style!

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Feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time…

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It was a super duper sunny day. In the evening we walked along the pier to watch the surfers and the fishermen as the sun set. It was so lovely!

Today we got up early to get to the Hollywood walk of fame and sign. I must admit I did a lot of squeeling when we first spotted the Hollywood sign, so bloody excited!

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I knew I’d make it to Hollywood one day, haha!

The walk of fame was pretty cool too, and as we were there fairly early, it wasn’t too busy.

imageMr Spielberg look just what you’re missing!

We then decided to spend the rest of the day at Universal Studios. I really enjoyed the studio tour where you could see loads of sets and facades of buildings that they use in films.

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I was super excited by the Bates Motel and house haha!

Overall, it was a really fun, jam-packed and expensive day. Off to Hawaii tomorrow!

Things that made me laugh:

-Eating our tea in a Mexican fast food place sat next to a Charlie Chaplin impersonator.

– Tom knocking over an enormous stack of trays in said restaurant.

– A dog dressed as a lady in the animals from the movies show at Universal.

Things that surprised me:

– There are vast amounts of homeless people in LA.

– The public transport is absolutely appalling so we’ve had to use Uber cabs to get around.

– For the three taxi rides so far, all the drivers have been women.

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Rain in the concrete jungle

Hiya! Day three over here, our final day in New York, and the first day of New York Fashion Week. I must say I fit right in wearing my waterproof poncho. That didn’t stop me being high fashion though.

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Following a really good nosey at the fashion elite (incredible bone structure everywhaaaaar) we returned to the High Line and walked in the opposite direction from yesterday towards Chelsea.

Then the most hilarious and terrifying experience of my life thus far occurred. Tom goes “holy shit, Hep look! There’s Tyrion Lannister!” (For those of you who don’t know him, he’s an actor from Game of Thrones) We were alone on the pavement about 100ft away and snapped a quick photo. He was busy hailing a cab so we didn’t want to bother him…. And then we received what I can only describe as an authentic Vulcan death stare, because it nearly killed us. He glared at us, his eyes watching us all the way up the pavement ( sorry, sidewalk)

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Following this, most of the day was taken up laughing about this episode. We also saw the LOVE sign and ate shit loads of food. Our flight to LA is at 7am tomorrow morning, and we’re getting picked up at 3.30am to get back to JFK, so went out for a much needed salad, had a quick last run round Times Square in torrential downpour and we’re now back at the hostel for an early night.

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(Enjoying some Kendalian weather. Home is where the rain is after all.)blogsignature

The city that never sleeps

I’m writing this at 7am, having been up since 6, due to slight jetlag. Flying west has meant that I’m up early, refreshed and ready to go each day, so it’s been quite handy really!

New York is surprisingly easy to handle on a small budget. Our hostel, the New York Budget Inn is great – reasonably priced and a 5 minute walk from the Emprie State Building. We’re in bunk beds, but that’s fine because there’s so much room for activities! We’ve given ourselves a budget of $50 each per day, which has to cover all food and any attractions. Street food has been mega cheap, we’ve used the subway to keep costs down, and the only other bits we’ve paid for so far are the Empire State and game at Madison Square Garden.

Yesterday we started by visiting the flat iron building, then took the ferry over to Statten Island, which takes you past the  Statue of Liberty and allows you to see Manhatten from the water. It was a really nice clear day for it. We then came back in land and went to visit Ground Zero.

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I really wasn’t prepared for my reaction to the site of the Twin Towers.  New York is so rammmed with enormous sky scrapers that the empty space where the towers were is absolutely vast. In place of their foundations are enormous waterfalls which flow down creating yet more negative space. The size of it is just so massive that it made my chest feel heavy. Around the edge are the names of everyone who died, placed next to their friends, or people they were with on 9/11.

We then walked along the Brooklyn Bridge, which was great, it’s such an iconic structure. It was a boiling hot day!

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The next thing we found was the High Line, recommended to us by the lovely Charlotte and Mark. It’s an old rail track that runs above the ground, and was used to transport goods around the city until the 1950s. Now, it has been transformed into a park space with loads of plants and great views. There’s also this giant Lego installation with 2 tonnes of white bricks where you can build your own skyline…. Interestingly there were only adults using it haha.

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In the evening we went to see the women’s basketball, New York Liberty vs Conneticut Sun at Madison Square Garden. After much confusion on my part (“is it baseball or basketball? Do they hit the ball with a bat?!) I have to say I had such an entertaining evening. Great atmosphere in such an iconic venue. My short attention span was satisfied by the way the game kept stopping and starting with interludes for “dance cam” where they zoom in on members of the audience dancing, dance troops running into the court and a huge dancing dog mascot.

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We wandered to Time Square to see it by night, and then went home to bed.

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Something that made me laugh:

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Tom and the lucky balls.

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Start spreading the news…

I’m writing this from our hostel room in New York City. Holy cow! (As my mum would say.)

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The flights were fine, except for our bags being left out in torrential downpour in Reykjavik. Ho hum. The toilets in the airport, however, were incredible. I overheard someone in the women’s loo saying “bloody hell, this makes Harvey Nichols look shit!”

We got to New York, and having navigated the subway, had a slap up meal and went to bed.

It’s been a jam-packed day today. Speaking of jam, if you’ve ever wondered how to get Tom out of bed for 8am, tell him that there’s complimentary donuts and coffee on a first come, first served basis.

Five donuts and an apple? I think that’s the perfect breakfast!” – Tom Copley 2015

We started by having a wander from our hostel. I was really taken aback by the sheer scale of the buildings. It’s like being in London but with each building having an extra 20+ stories slapped on top. Cue reverse vertigo, I did a lot of neck craning today! We are staying a few blocks from the Empire State Building, so we decided to go up the top and have a look at the view.

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To appreciate, please turn your head to the left. Unfortunately the wifi speed won’t allow me to twizzle the photo for your viewing pleasure. apologies!

We stumbled across various bits and bobs including the Natural History Museum, Central Park, the Gugenheim and the HOPE sign. Oh, and Ellen Degeneres doing her live show outside the Rockefeller. Then Amy Schumer popped up on ice skates and it got a bit confusing.

anyway. As for now I’m eating pizza and drinking a beer bigger than my head. Tomorrow we plan to see Ground Zero and Liberty Island, then possibly catch a basketball came in the evening.

Things that made me laugh:

– the curtain separating the business and economy class on the plane. I like the call this the riffraff curtain.

– having no bloody idea how to flush the public toilets until Tom explained it to me.

– $1 dollar notes. why?! And what is the point?

Things that have suprised me:

– Lack of fat Americans. (Sorry but true)

– Lack of crowds. It honestly feels no more crowded than Leeds!

– The heat! It’s around 34 degrees at the middle of the day. Good job we packed the sun cream.

 

N.B apologies for the poor photo quality – currently have no way of getting my photos off my big camera, so iPhone shots are the best I can do!

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Here’s to…

 

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Here’s to taking down special photos and storing them carefully. To ramming your life into a 65 litre rucksack. To bizarre meals concocted out of what’s left in the freezer. To cleaning the oven. To sleepless nights and cuddling the cats. ❤️

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Two more sleeps!

So it’s nearly time to go. Two more sleeps! Tom has driven his lovely car, Cheryl, back to London. I’m left with manically packing up the house, and getting packed and ready to go.

 

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Eating: everything that’s left in the fridge/freezer, resulting in interesting leftover meals – cold pasta and hash browns was tonight’s example. Carbicide.

Drinking: wine. Because wine is needed.

Watching: About Time because I bloody love that film, although after the aforementioned wine, I must admit I cried. Harry Potter and the deathly hollows, part 2 because I was craving it. (Finishing the wine now, so I may cry again.) – “after all this time?” “always”

Reading: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed – the Eat Pray Love author gives a cynics approach to marriage.

Listening: to The Versions of Us on audio book, and finding it very confusing.

Feeling: More anxious than excited at the moment to be honest!

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