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Archive for the 'Travel' Category

The Rebirth of Napier

On Feb 3 1931, at 10.47am an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the seaside town of Napier in New Zealand. Fires soon broke out, destroying buildings that had survived the earthquake. 157 died in Napier due to the earthquake and resulting fires.

Instead of rebuilding the Victorian-style town straight away, the townsfolk formed a committee and made a careful plan for the new town. The decision to go with the Art Deco style was a practical one. The buildings were robust, should there be further earthquakes. They were cheap to build—a consideration since it was the depression. And finally, Art Deco was fashionable.

The first building to go up after the quake was the Market Reserve Building. The builders used rivets on the steel frame, instead of welding it. They wanted to create as much noise as possible to send a message of hope to the the people.

These days the Art Deco features are a real feature and bring a lot of tourists to the town. I rather like the plain block-type style of the buildings and the intricate zigzag and starburst patterns. Egyptian and Mayan designs are also visible on many buildings. Leadlight glass designs were also a common decoration, but I don’t have any photos of those. 

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This is the former Hotel Central, which was built in 1932. It has balconies, balconets and zigzag and sunburst decorations.

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This shot shows the interior of the current ASB Bank. This building features a Maori design in red, black and white. This photo really doesn’t do the decor justice. It’s breath-taking. I stood inside the bank and gawked.

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Napier 148 Napier 199

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Top left: Colenso House, done in Spanish Mission style.

Top right: Daily Telegraph Building. This building contains most of the Art Deco styles including zigzags, fountain shapes, and sunburst.

Middle left: Thorps building as a Mayan flavor to its facade.

Middle right: The interior of the Masonic Hotel.

Bottom left: The exterior of the Masonic Hotel.

Bottom right: A view of the buildings in Emerson Street, the main street of Napier.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.

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The Art Deco flavor is enhanced with music, souvenirs, cars, and costumes. Even the fountain is designed to blend with the buildings around the town. Visitors can take a tour or do a self-tour. It’s a pleasant walk with lots of cafes and pubs along the way to take a break. The perfect way to while away a few hours. I highly recommend a visit to Napier, if you’re ever down this way.

Do you like the Art Deco style?

Travels Through Africa

Today I’m taking a trip down memory lane and posting several photos from my African trip.

sw baby elephant, Kenya

We spent seven months in Africa,  starting our journey in Harare, Zimbabwe. From there we travelled down to Botswana before returning north again. We visited twenty-five countries including Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zaire, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco then on to Spain with a quick flit through Europe on the way back to London.

Our trip was an overland one with a company called Dragoman. We mainly camped with the odd hotel thrown into the mix. After suffering through many cold washes and more than a few cold showers, I grew an appreciation for hot water and specifically hot and cold running water.

I’d always wanted to visit Africa, the animals and the wilderness being the main attraction. I was certainly spoiled for choice when it came to seeing animals.

giraffe

While in Nairobi, we visited a giraffe sanctuary. I love giraffes, but their tongues were a real surprise. They’re so long! We had lots of fun feeding them a few snacks from the feeding platform.

sw Batering in Zim

Part of the overseas experience is interacting with the locals. It’s always interesting visiting the local markets and shopping for meals. This photo was taken in Zimbabwe, and I have fond memories of the avocadoes. They were delicious!

sw Ballooning in the Serengeti

Hot air ballooning in Kenya. As is traditional with hot air ballooning, we were up at the crack of dawn to get ready for our ride. Notice the pith helmet? We finished our flight with a champagne breakfast. So civilized!

sw elephant & buffalo, Kenya sw gazzelles, Kenya

sw lion Kenya sw hyena, Kenya 1

The above photos were all taken in Kenya. Top left: water buffalo and an elephant “butt” shot. Top right: Thomson Gazelle. Bottom left: Lion enjoying the sun. Bottom right: Hyena and pup.

 

Given the choice, which African country would you most like to visit? Which animal would you like to see?

Behind the Mask…

Chinese Masks

Masks in a Chinese craft shop

Since I’m off on a mini holiday and leaving before the birds even think about chirping tomorrow morning, I thought I’d give you a virtual tour through China during the next four days. I hope to pop in and chat during the day, so I’m going to leave you with a question.

If you could pick any mask to wear what would it be? Something elegant, something silly or something else?

My husband would probably pick a snorkel mask since he loves snorkeling. I have trouble getting him out of the water when we’re on holiday! I’d pick a half mask–one that would be perfect for a Regency masquerade ball. A mask to conceal yet seduce…

What would you choose?

Faces of China

One of my favorite things to do when visiting another country is to wander around the markets. I like to see the different types of food, and of course, do some people watching. These are some of the photos hubby and I took during our wanders.

China

Banana Lady

China

Sugarcane Lady

China

Grape Man

China

Handicraft Lady

The Chinese people enjoy sightseeing, and we encountered many groups of local tourists at the Great Wall, on the Yangtzee River and visiting the Terracotta men. They’re big on photography, and if we smiled at anyone we’d find ourselves in the middle of a photography session. This couple grabbed me to pose in their photo. In fact, most of our group ended up in their photos. It was a real hoot.

China

Me and Random Tourists

Which one is your favorite?

In Search of The Sun!

It’s winter here in New Zealand, and I’m looking out the window at the rain. I could do with some sun! This photo was taken on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. Hubby and I were sitting at our favorite bar on the beach, drinks in hand and people watching, when I saw this cute little boy.

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

If you’re spending time in the sun today, tell me about it. Let me pretend it’s warm and summery here in New Zealand…

Rituals, Yams & Pentecost Island

During our recent holiday we were lucky enough to stop off at Pentecost Island. It’s a mountainous island, which is covered with lush green trees.

Each year between April and June, the men in the southern part of the island jump 20 to 30 meters from tall, very rickety looking towers with vines tied to their feet. The ritual is believed to ensure a good yam harvest and is also used to show acceptance into manhood.

On the day we visited Pentecost, it was very hot and humid. The adult men chanted while several young boys climbed the tower and prepared to jump. Medical staff from the cruise ship were on hand in case of injuries. Below the tower is an area of tilled soil and the vines must be carefully tied, the length judged so that when the man/boy land dives, his hair will just touch the soil. The ritual cannot be performed too early in the year because the vines aren’t elastic enough to bear weight.

I watched two land dives and couldn’t watch any more. It was the creaks and groans of the vines that I didn’t like. The sounds raised the hairs at the back of my neck. There was the creak and then a thump when the diver hit the ground. The first young boy was obviously winded because he took a while to get to his feet. An older man whisked him up and the crowd cheered. I heard later that some of the young boys jumped twice. In my opinion they must have rattled their brains the first time. I can think of better ways to ensure a good yam harvest. Manure, anyone?

Pentecost Island

Here’s a photo of the tower. As I mentioned, it doesn’t look very strong. There are actually people standing on the tower, getting ready to jump, but it’s difficult to see them. I refused to walk any closer to get a good photo. The land diving wasn’t my cup of tea!

It’s said that AJ Hackett got the idea of bungee jumping after hearing about the land divers.

What do you think of this ritual for ensuring a good crop?

Travel: Lifou, Loyalty Islands

Lifou, which is part of the Loyalty Islands, is a beautiful spot with lots of greenery. The snorkelling is very good here too, although access is down a very rickety and slippery wooden ladder.

Lifou

Once onshore, we walked up a hill to the old chapel on the headland. It was very pretty and the locals had placed flower arrangements inside. They ask visitors for a donation.

Lifou

The white chapel

Here’s one of the locals. The pretty teal color was very striking against the greenery.

Lifou

The snorkelling was excellent. We were there early when it was relatively quiet. Once the other passengers on the ship turned up, the area became noisy and there was a little silt kicked up, which caused vision problems. The ladder access was a bit tricky too.

Lifou

A Glimpse of Sydney

Sydney, Australia

This is a photo of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, taken from the Botanical gardens. Hubby and I spent a day in Sydney at the end of our cruise in December last year. It’s an interesting city to walk around, and we had a beautiful sunny day for our sightseeing.

New Zealand: White Island

White Island, NZ

White Island, NZ

White Island is one of New Zealand’s volcanoes—the most active one. The island is privately owned and was once mined for sulfur. I’d never seen White Island before and was looking forward to our visit. We had perfect weather and the volcano puffed out a little steam for us. Part of the crater has collapsed, allowing views of the inside. The cruise ship sailed around the island several times allowing 360 views.

Labyrinth Relaxation and Plotting

Cottage Grove Labyrinth

I took this photo of a labyrinth at The Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove, Oregon. It’s a simple turf labyrinth and is a replica of one from 9th century Aachen in Germany.

I didn’t realize there was a difference between a maze and a labyrinth and learned differently during my visit. A labyrinth has one entrance and one exit. It doesn’t have any dead ends. A maze has a high hedge (or corn in modern mazes) and is actually a puzzle because it contains lots of twists and turns and dead ends. Mazes are used for entertainment such as the one at Hampton Court near London. I’ve explored the Hampton Court one and managed to get lost but finally made the center with hubby’s help. Labyrinths are used as a compliment to meditation or prayer. I walked this one and found it very soothing. I think it would make a good spot for plotting a book or for pondering plot problems.

Have you ever explored a maze or walked a labyrinth?