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Archive for 'Travel'

Relaxing at the Summer Palace

Thailand was one of our stops during our recent cruise. We’ve visited Bangkok before, and this time we elected to do a trip to see Bang Pa-In Palace, in Ayutthaya Province, which is where the Thai royal family always spent the summer. The current king and queen still hold receptions and banquets here and use part of the palace as a residence at times.

The gardens are gorgeous, full of flowers and mature trees. There are loads of pagodas and places to sit and rest with views of the garden and large bodies of water.

Pond_Bang Pa-In Palace

Peaceful bodies of water to stroll past and admire.

Pagoda_Bang Pa-In Palace

Bang Pa-In Palace

Pagodas to admire  Flowers_Bang Pa-In Palace

Gorgeous flowers everywhere

Garden Topairy

Topiary -  A herd of elephants. They had lots of different animals—a real menagerie, but the elephants were my favorites.

Turtle_Palace

The locals checking us out as we strolled through the gardens.

Royal residence

A corner of the current royal residence. I loved the Wedgewood-like scroll work.

There were lots of other tourists present during our visit, yet the place seemed to absorb everyone and retain its peaceful air.

Shelley

I enjoyed our visit very much, and immediately plot bunnies started jumping around inside my head. Travel does that to me. The grounds and buildings are now a part of a scene in Snared by Saber, my current WIP.

What do you think of the topiary? Have you seen other shapes?

Alaska, A Slice of Paradise

Today I’m turning back the clock and making a return trip to Alaska. I loved Alaska. It reminded me of a frontier town – how I imagine America used to be before it became settled. The scenery is gorgeous, the towns few and far between and the locals are friendly, especially if you’re a female. Ladies, if you’re looking for a husband there are lots of single men in Alaska!

We spent about two weeks in Alaska. We traveled down to the Kenai Peninsula then up to Denali National Park and up as far as Fairbanks. We also did a cruise down the coast to take in some of the towns only accessible via water.

I have memories of HUGE mosquitoes (laughingly referred to as the state bird) and long, long days. In Fairbanks, hubby and friends played golf at midnight because it never got dark.

Along the way, we stopped at towns that were dots on the map and full of friendly locals. From memory wet T-shirt competitions were very popular in the pubs.

Here are a selection of photos:

Glacier Alaska

This is Bear Glacier. I love the blue ice. Very pretty.

Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska. This town is only accessible by boat.

Anchorage Fishing

A salmon fishing contest in Anchorage.

Anchorage Salmon

A determined angler with his prize, Anchorage.

Hyder Alaska

Hyder, a small town near the border with Canada.

Hyder ghost Town

Bears, Alaska

Bears, near Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Not far from Alaskan border.

Mr Munro and I hope to make a return trip one day. It’s a beautiful spot.

Have you ever visited Alaska? Have the desire to visit?

The Hell-Hole of the Pacific

Today, the small township of Russell in the Bay of Islands is a sleepy place. Tourists and summer boaties visit the place, but on the day of our visit, we wandered across the street without worrying about traffic. Not so back in the early nineteenth century.

Russell Sea Front

In the 1830s it was wild and full of whalers, seamen, traders, escaped convicts and adventurers. Some sailing captains steered clear of the place because they feared their crews would desert. Russell or Kororareka, as it was also known, was the original capital of New Zealand. Missionaries, who intended to bring religion to the new lands, were horrified by the behavior of drunken men and of the loose women who cavorted with them.

Russell still has New Zealand’s oldest church—Christ Church.

Christ Church Est 1836

This church came under fire during the Battle of Kororareka in 1845. You can still see the musket holes in the walls of the church.

Christ Church Bullet Holes

Pompallier House was the headquarters of the French Catholic mission. This is a National Trust building and very interesting to visit. After the Catholic ministers moved on, the building was used as a tannery and later a private residence. The gardens are lovely.

Pompallier House

Russell also has the oldest licensed premise in New Zealand, the Duke of Marlborough. We visited the second oldest pub a few weeks ago at Riverhead.

Duke of Marlborough Pub

The Duke of Marlborough overlooks the water and is very peaceful these days. It’s hard to imagine drunken sailors, prostitutes and the revelry that so upset the missionaries, or settlers, soldiers and Maoris in the heat of battle.

If you’re ever down this way, I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful area and the surrounding areas of Paihia and Waitangi.

Following the Steps of Our Ancestors Up River

Mr. Munro and I like to explore our city, and yesterday we did a boat trip from Z Pier in central Auckland, up the Upper Waitemata harbor to the historic pub at Riverhead.The Riverhead was established in 1857 and holds New Zealand’s second oldest liquor licence. Incidentally, we visited the oldest one—the Duke of Marlborough in Russell, Bay of Islands—a couple of weeks ago.

Shelley at Z Pier

This is me, sitting on the top deck of the Red Boat and waiting to leave on our adventure. Central Auckland and the Sky Tower are in the background.

Harbor Bridge and City

Our boat traveled under the harbor bridge. Two New Zealand flags were flying on the bridge yesterday. The flags change often and honor different countries. For example on the US Independence Day the US flag will fly along with the New Zealand one.

Property on the way to Riverhead 

We traveled in the footsteps of our ancestors who used ferries and boats on the upper harbor as a means of transport to head north. Lots of gorgeous properties lined the harbor and this is one of them. A big lawn to mow!

Red Boat at Riverhead

This is the Red boat. It tied up at the jetty and we climbed up lots of steps to get to the pub. The view was gorgeous from the terrace and lots of people were dining in the restaurant. Mr. Munro and I chose some bar snacks, beer and wine and spent time in the public bar. The people watching was awesome.

Although children and families are welcome, the management like the children to remain under close parental supervision. They had these cute signs everywhere relating to children, and the one below is my favorite.

Riverhead Children Sign

We had a fun day, although we were tired out when we arrived home. I can’t wait for our next local adventure, whatever that might be.

What is your favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday?

Earthquakes and Art Deco!

I’m visiting Heart-Shaped Glasses where I’m talking about earthquakes among other things. Heart-Shaped Glasses has a travel theme this month and there are lots of excellent posts to check out.

Mt. Maunganui – Surf, Sun and Walking

This week I thought I’d take you on a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand. We’ll start our visit at Mt. Maunganui, a beautiful beach area on the east coast of the North Island. The area is named after the extinct volcano, which dominates the vicinity.

Mt Maunganui

The hill is Mt. Maunganui, and this beach is the perfect one for families since it’s very safe.

Mt Maunganui Walking Track

This is a view from the path that travels around the base of the mountain. It’s a busy walkway, especially during the weekend when we visited. You can also climb to the top of the mountain, which takes about an hour. A little more if you stop to take in the vista on a regular basis. We’ve done both walks. The views are great, no matter which option you choose.

Midden

The Mount (as it is known locally) was inhabited by the local Maori tribe before the Europeans arrived because it was an excellent vantage point and they received early warnings of possible attacks from other tribes. During a walk around the base you’ll see evidence of early habitation. This is a midden (a dump for waste), which is full of empty pippi shells (clam-like shellfish). Just as an aside, my father has several of these middens on his farm, and over the years we’ve found Maori stone adzes.

Surf Beach

Mt. Mauganui is known for its surf beach, and this is a view of the beach, looking back to the mountain. During the Christmas/New Year holidays the population swells since it’s a popular holiday location.

Are you a beach fan?

A Passage to India

Today I’m visiting Gerri Bowen and talking about one of my favorite topics—travel. I’m spotlighting one of my favorite destinations, which is India.

Here are a few photos to get you in the mood.

India - Mysore

This colorful character with the big knife is in Mysore, India.

India -Khajuraho

This is one of the temples at Khajuraho. It’s fascinating to wander around and study the reliefs at close quarters. The temples are known for their erotica—many of the figures are in erotic positions worthy of the kama sutra. Sex education? No one is really sure of their purpose, but they’re certainly interesting.

India - Amritsar

This is the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holiest shrine for Sikhs. I found our visit here very interesting and the temple was beautiful.

India - Pushka

This is me and hubby at a Pushkar cafe. You can see the lake in the background and the pigeons and monkeys on the temple. I’m looking pretty skinny here. I’d had stomach problems for a couple of weeks and had malaria, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Despite this, I have a heap of great memories of India. We’ve visited twice – the second time for three months where I remained healthy the entire time.

I hope you’ll pop over to Gerri’s blog and say hello.

Vivid Festival 2013 Sydney

Sydney harbor is an impressive sight most days, but during our recent visit we saw things in a new light. Our visit coincided with the Vivid Festival where lights and patterns are projected onto the buildings around the CBD. There are also lots of hands on displays around the waterfront for people to touch and play with.

The Pacific Pearl was our hotel for the two nights we were in Sydney, and the ship became part of the display. I took a movie of the ship, but it’s a bit long to show here. Just believe me when I say that like the photos of the Opera House below, the patterns projected onto the ship were very impressive and I, along with everyone else, went Ohhh!

Opera House Day

This is a shot of the Sydney Opera House, taken from the public walkway on the Sydney Harbor bridge. The following photos show some of the colors and patterns that were projected onto the Opera House during the evening.

Opera

Opera 1

Opera 3

Opera 2

Crowds of people came down to the quay to check out the lights, and the waterfront was a busy place, despite the rain on the first night. I’m sure the organizers are pleased with the success of their festival.

What was the last festival you attended?

13 Facts About Shipboard Food on the Pacific Pearl

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I’m home again after our cruise aboard the Pacific Pearl. Those who have been on a cruise before will know about the sheer amount of food available. It’s very tempting to have a little of this and a little of that and before you know it, clothes strain at the seams. I’m afraid I am physical proof of this fact, and I’m officially on a diet. Sick smile

The catering is a huge operation, and I found the food related facts they gave us fascinating.

13 Facts About Shipboard Food

1. 3000 dozen eggs are used during a 10 day cruise.

2. Plus 1000 kg of lettuce

3. 4000 litres of milk

4. 2000 kg of watermelon

5. 1400 kg of steak – hubby ate quite a few of these!

6. 7500 tea bags are dunked and drunk

7. 600 kg of cheese is consumed – I like cheese.

8. 12500 plates, 10000 glasses and 15000 items of cutlery are washed each day

9. There are 29 people on the dishwashing brigade

10. Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish are delivered when the ship is in port

11. On average 90 tons (180 pallets) of food are loaded on board after passing inspection by the Food and Beverage Director.

12. There are five butchers on board to prepare different cuts of meat

13. 99% of the passengers put on weight. Unfortunately, I didn’t fit into the 1% category. I blame the pastry chef!

Do you tend to eat more when you’re on holiday?

Crossing the Grand Canal

Last year Mr. Munro and I spent a few days in Venice during our Mediterranean cruise. Venice is a very cool place to visit. It’s bustling and full of color and noise.

Mention Venice and people’s minds drift to gondolas, but have you ever wondered what happens to older gondolas?

Gondola Park

Some of the old gondolas are used as traghetto. And what is a traghetto, you ask?

A traghetto is used to ferry passengers back and forth across the Grand canal for a nominal fee. The locals use them all the time. We decided a romantic gondola trip was too expensive, but a traghetto was our chance to ride in a gondola.

Traghetto

The locals stand for the journey across the canal. All other canal traffic must give way to the traghetto. Note the uniform above – the striped shirt and black trousers. All the gondoliers wear this uniform.

I was a little concerned about this standing business, but I noticed the traghetto had a couple of seats and tourists were sitting for the crossing.

Traghetto

The canal can get choppy with all the traffic, and it was easy to imagine a passenger overbalancing (me) and tumbling into the water. I decided I was going to sit for the crossing.

Traghetto crossing

We paid our fare and stepped aboard. Hubby, of course, decided to stand. Not to be outdone, I stood too.

Traghetto crossing

And I managed to get to the other side completely dry, despite the rocking. No sweat! The traghetto wasn’t nearly as bad as the dug-out canoes in Africa, but that’s another story entirely.

Do you have good balance? Or are you the one who trips over their feet?

I’m generally pretty good, although the canal did concern me a bit. I think my big feet help with balance. They cover more ground Winking smile