Sunday, 26 April 2009

Magic Bus

Magic Bus is perhaps one of the most fun ways to travel through New Zealand. Teresa and I got on at Nelson and promptly started talking to our fellow ten travellers (numbers vary each day). There was various stops throughout the day to see things, such as food and toilet breaks and the more exciting tourist stops where we followed a trail that led through rainforest and ended on a beach where blue pengions can occasionally be seen, and a stop where we saw fur seals from up a mountain as they lounged around on the cliffs below, and another stop to see the exciting pancake rocks and blowholes. It was just really fun! We saw a Weka bird which came to investigate our driver (not a Kiwi, though it looks similar) and saw the most stunning scenery you can imagine. Mountains, plains, clouds, rivers of the most stunning turquoise colour, it's just gorgeous here!

That night we ended up in Greymouth and most of us all got put in one big room. There were free bakery goods in the kitchen (lunch, dinner and breakfast!) and then we headed off on a brewery tour of Monteith's brewery, very fun and informative. It ended in a tasting of all the seven different types of beer they have (I gave mine all away to the boys we were travelling with as I don't like beer) and then we got a free barbeque dinner in the local pub. They'd also put on a karaoke machine just for us, so later on in the night we were all pretty much forced to go and sing a karaoke song. Some of the boys did a very bad rendition of Madonna's "Like a Virgin". One being German and the other being Dutch, it was pronounced "Like a Wirgin". Hilarity ensued. For some reason, Teresa, Yoshi (Japanese) and I won the competition with Dancing Queen. Another free jug of beer!

Next day another early morning wake up and then off to Franz Josef where we said goodbye to our travelling companions for then and did a half day hike up the Franz Josef glacier. It. Was. Stunning! It was so amazing! It's huge, so when you're an hour hike away it looks like it's only ten minutes away The valley to get there is full of stones that the glacier pushed there when it last advanced and there is a pretty river too with run-off water. We got hiking boots and crampons so it was pretty easy to walk on the ice. The guide hacked steps into the glacier so we could walk up and then walked us around the top and through various crevasses and under roofs of ice and through massive cracks in the ice with hastily made footholds. It was pretty awesome! the ice was so blue in the cracks, it was gorgeous! And once you've made it all the way to the top, you have to go all the way down again...

(more later, internet time about to run out....)

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Yes yes, I've not updated here in a while. I've not really had much chance to get onto the internet, so no time for blog posts!

I have been to Fiji, where it was boiling hot! Took a shuttle bus to Port Denerau from Nadi airport and hopped onto the Yasawa flyer and went out to Beachcomber Island! Stayed there for three days and two nights, drinking lots of water, reading, lying out in the sun (and getting horribly sunburnt) and snorkelling in the beautiful water around the island. I was staying in a 100 bed open air dorm, which was a bit of a takeback at first but it was really nice and sociable and only too loud on the first night when I was terribly jetlagged. Stayed another night in a hostel in Nadi and met some lovely English girls (who promptly added me on facebook) who I might do a bit of travelling with in Australia. Hurrah!

New Zealand is the most fantastic place in the world, I love it! I spent a day in Auckland wandering around and it just reminded me a lot of England. That evening me and Laura (landlady from Nottingham doing a medical thing in NZ for 6 weeks) took a bus to Paihia which is further north and spent two nights at the Bay of Islands. We went on a cruise the next day where we saw dolphins and went snorkelling and saw some pretty fish. There was a beautiful rainbow and the landscape was so beautiful! Got out at the small town of Russell which was the first capital city of New Zealand and where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the settlers and the Maori.

Since then it's been a mad dash of travelling from Paihia to Auckland and then on a flight to Wellington where I met Teresa. If my flight hadn't been delayed I would have also had a chance to look around the place, but I got there almost three hours later and we just ate and organised things for the next few days. From Wellington we took a very early shuttle bus from outside the hostel to the ferry and travelled across (feeling quite seasick, very rough seas!) the Cook straits and the Marlborough Sound. Landed at Picton which was small and picturesque and then took the Intercity to Nelson where we stayed at possibly the coolest hostel in the world (free washing powder, noodles and soup in the evening!) and then we started our magic bus journey around the south island of New Zealand!

(more later, need to go out and meet people tonight!)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Fun Times

Have had an interesting few days in LA. Spent evenings with Laura making food, eating dinner and doing domestic things. She works a lot and also has grad school, so I'm spending what time I have with her, with her. Also seen Eric Froats again (at his house now). I got stranded in Fullerton last night coming back from Downtown Riverside and so he picked me up and we went to his house. Eric, his girlfriend, his housemate and I bought some drinks and snacks and went to the park thing right next to his house that is open to residents of the area and sat in the hot tub there and swam in the pool and generally had a nice time.

Earlier that day I took a train from Orange to LA Union station and then figured out the metro lines and got to the Walk of Fame. Was touristy for a bit and walked up and down taking a few pictures and then ducked into the Graumann Chinese Theatre and looked at the hand- and footprints of famous people. To be honest, it wasn't that exciting.

Weather however, continues to be beautiful and sunny, though cold once in a while.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Los Angeles

To be fair, I can't really write about LA because since getting here last night I have seen the freeway in Laura's awesome car, a grocery store and her apartment. But her apartment is AMAZING! It is really like a resort or a hotel or something, there is a lobby and a lounge and a gym and a raquetball court and a swimming pool and a hot tub and lounging chairs and it is literally the most amazing place in the world. I would love to be able to afford a place like this! Her apartment itself is large and roomy with everything fitting in nicely in a large square sort of thing, and a balcony! And a walk-in closet! All just so amazing, she's doing really well for herself here with a good job in airport planning and grad school, all very nice. Oooh! I forgot, we did go out last night to some bars in downtown Orange, where she lives. We met some very interesting people, everyone was very friendly, and we got free drinks so that was a win situation!

I got in last night to LAX, flying in from SFO which was a nicely uneventful flight, though it was very confusing to exit the plane and not have to go through passport control and the baggage carousel was right next to the exit where everyone could get in, so weird! Luckily my backpack was still there when I got out, though the carousel had stopped moving already. Eek!

The weather here is lovely and sunny and warm, and after a waking up today we went to the gym downstairs (after a nice healthy breakfast) and then changed upstairs, and then went to the swimming pool downstairs again and swam and sunbathed, and it was all very lovely and relaxing. It is so good to see Laura again! Squeee!