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Fab Oceania Travel

    Fab Oceania Travel

    Six Amazing Things Not to Miss in Sydney Australia

    My New Favorite City

    Location: Sydney Australia

    I usually prefer our more rural destinations more than our city destinations.  And yet – Suddenly Sydney.  I’m gobsmacked.  I wish I had the time to stay longer, but we used our time well, and discovered six amazing things not to miss in Sydney Australia.

    The Sydney Opera House – When visiting Sydney the Opera House will always top any list, as it does in our six Amazing Things not to miss in Sydney Australia.  At first glance I thought, “Huh – it’s not as white as I was expecting.”  At second blush I was enamored.  Wow.  When you are inside, you realize what a marvel of architecture and engineering is.  You don’t need to know anything about architecture or engineering to see clearly what an impressive

    Sydney Australia

    Sydney Opera House

    specimen it is.

    We booked a tour ahead on line, although we could have walked up that day and got on a tour.  We are here in the “shoulder” season, so at other times of

    Sydney Australia

    Interior of the Opera House

    the year these two-hour tours fill fast.  Our tour guide Lyn was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the history, construction and current state of one of the most iconic buildings in the world.  I loved the tour and would do it again in a heart beat.

    We learned that the multiple theaters within the building are home to several resident companies, as well as an ever revolving schedule of visiting shows and artists.  While in Sydney we actually saw an outdoor opera, just across the bay looking back at the Opera House.  This seasonal show happens each March and April and it was a beautiful location to watch La Boheme outdoors with the lights of Sydney in the background.

    Sydney Australia

    The view from the outdoor opera

    We also got tickets to attend a dance/circus performance (think Cirque de Soleil on a small-scale) inside one of the theaters.  The multiple theaters in the opera house can seat anywhere from 200 to 2000 people, depending on the theatre, the show and the configuration.

    The Sydney Harbour Bridge – built in 1932 this bridge towers over the harbour with it’s beautiful

    Sydney Australia

    Sydney Harbour Bridge

    arched structure.  The bridge is the worlds largest (but not longest) steel arch bridge with 6 million hand driven rivets.  You can drive across, walk across, cycle across or take a boat and look at it from underneath.  There is also a museum in the top of one of the Pylons.  Although there is no lift, it’s worth the 200 steps and the $8.50 to see the view.

    But – the most amazing thing about the Sydney

    Sydney Australia

    On top of the bridge

    Harbour Bridge is you can walk to the top as part of the Sydney Bridge Clilmb.

    First let me tell you, it’s very EXPENSIVE.  Choke.  But I talked my husband into it, even though this is the kind of tourist activity he despises.  But, in hindsight, he loved it.  And once you spend the

    Sydney Australia

    Our tour group

    nearly four hours it takes from start to finish doing the bridge climb, the price no longer seems so high.  You are completely outfitted (remove all your clothing and wear the gear they provide), you are connected at all times to the bridge with a tether guide cable, you have a radio and headset that you use to listen to your guide.  You learn about construction, history, people – but most of all, you have the most amazing view you will ever see.  Particularly if you are lucky enough to enjoy the climb on a sunny and calm day like the day we went.  They climb rain or shine, and only stop the tours if the wind is 80km per hour.  You also get one heck of a work out.

    It’s difficult to describe this experience, but I sure am glad we did it.  Once in a lifetime.

    The Rocks and Circular Quay – the hub of

    Sydney Australia

    The view from Circular Quay

    Sydney’s tourism activity is The Rocks and Circular Quay.  Here is where you find the Sydney Opera House, the Cruise Ship Terminal, The Ferry Terminals, the Harbor Tour Boat Terminal, the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as many restaurants, bars and shops.  It’s a very hopping place with outdoor seating, views that go for miles and a happening vibe.

    Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk – we had exceptional weather the day we did this four mile one way walk along the Pacific Coast, but honestly it would be spectacular no matter the weather.  We

    Sydney Australia

    Coogee to Bondi

    took an Uber from our condo in Rushcutter’s Bay to Coogee (mid-day $17) and after a lovely cappuccino at Little Jack Horner we started the walk.  This meandering, paved and well-marked path is very popular with locals and visitors alike.  It is often touted as one of the most beautiful shoreline walks in the world.  And I have to agree.  I took so many photos – the turquoise blue water, the crashing waves, the cliffs and sandstone outcroppings.  Beautiful.  Easy.  A must do.

    Manly Ferry and Manly Beach – on our last day in Sydney we rode one of the many Sydney City Ferry boats to the popular destination of Manly – a small suburb of Sydney.  Manly now is a tourist destination with many shops and restaurants, but we headed straight to Manly Beach for a bit of

    Sydney Australia

    Sydney City Ferry

    R&R.  Manly is a surfer’s beach and much of the beach is off-limits to swimming due to high surf and strong undertow.  But areas on both ends of the beach are safe for swimming and lifeguards are on duty making sure everyone has a good time. A beautiful spot and a great place to work on your tan, watch the surfers and enjoy the Pacific views.

    Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney – Last but not least in our list of six Amazing Things not to miss in SYdney Australia. During our time in Sydney we were staying in an Airbnb in Rushcutter’s Bay, about two miles from Circular

    Sydney Australia

    Royal Botanic Gardens

    Quay.  There is metro and bus service, Uber and cabs, but since we really enjoy walking, we walked into town each day.  And each day we took a different path through Sydney’s stunning Botanical Gardens.  First let me say, this city is awash in green space.  Lovely pocket parks and grand expansive parks seem to be around every corner. But the 200-year-old Royal Botanic Gardens was my favorite.  We have visited many botanical gardens around the world.  I don’t believe we have visited any that were both FREE and so well manicured and presented.  Clearly a favorite for locals for the beautiful lawns to play and relax, the forested hills, the blooming flowers, the abundant bird life and

    Sydney Australia

    Royal Botanic Gardens

    the waterfront views.  All of this, a public park, free for the taking.  One of my most favorite things we discovered in Sydney.

    So there are my six amazing things not to miss in Sydney Australia.  I know I will need to return to this beautiful place, and find six, 12 or a hundred more amazing things.  And hopefully, it won’t be too long until I do.

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    Want to read more of our blogs about Australia?  Click here for more.

     

     

     

    Fab Oceania Travel

    The Great Barrier Reef Australia

    Just Keep Swimming

    Location: The Great Barrier Reef Australia

    “Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills… When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” – Dory the Fish from Disney’s Finding Nemo

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Nemo

    Finding Nemo is one of my favorite Disney/Pixar movies, and this past week I have had endless Finding Nemo moments and quotes running through my head.  Being

    in Australia and finally snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, my thoughts have wandered to the

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Reef and fish

    adventures of that movie and I have smiled to myself underwater and thought “Just keep swimming.”

    Although going out on a snorkel trip on The Great Barrier Reef took us way over our Grand Adventure daily budget (actually everything in Australia is

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Birdseye view

    taking us over budget), we could not come here to beautiful Cairns and not see the reef.  It’s another one of those “I don’t have a bucket list” bucket list items.  I love snorkeling and I wanted to have that once in a lifetime opportunity.

    The weather on the day we went wasn’t great – grey and overcast and we even saw some rain.  I am in constant worry about my motion sickness

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Colorful

    problem, so I stood outside and watched the horizon the entire hour and half boat trip out to the reef, even when the rain started to come down.  Hey I was gonna get wet anyway right?  Luckily, thanks to massive amounts of drugs, my sea sickness problem did not materialize while on the boat.  That was a good sign!

    “You got a problem, buddy? Huh? Huh? Do ya, do ya, do ya?” Dory

    We booked our reef tour with Reef Magic out of

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Marine World of Reef Magic

    Cairns which took us to the outer reef and a pontoon platform stationed there called Marine World.  We disembarked the boat to the pontoon and here we were outfitted with our snorkels, fins, masks and Lycra “stinger” suits to protect us from

    Great Barriee Reef

    Jellyfish

    jellyfish.

    “I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.” Dory

    Reef Magic offers many options from the pontoon, all at an additional charge including snorkel safari, snuba, scuba, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible boat and helicopter rides.  But since

    Great Barriee Reef

    That’s us!

    we had already exceeded our budget (for two of us we paid $426 Australian about $330 US), we were just interested in snorkeling.  We were dressed and ready to go pretty quickly and one of the first people in the water.

    Great Barrier Reef

    Us with Wally

    We immediately encountered “Wally”, one of the biggest fish on the reef.  Luckily Reef Magic’s professional photographer was on hand as we entered the water and she got some amazing shots of us with Wally.  All the photos in this blog are from Reef Magic’s professional photographer.  Since we don’t have an underwater camera we have never gotten underwater photos on any of our snorkel trips on the Grand Adventure.  So, despite the fact my husband almost wet his pants when I told him the price, we bit the bullet and bought the photos for an additional $75 (about

    Great Barrier Reef

    Hey Wally

    $60 US).

    “Ahh you guys made me ink.” Pearl

    Wally is a resident fish of this part of the reef.  He is an amazing species called Maori Wrasse.  This fish is a female for the first eight years of its life.  And then poof.  It’s a male.  I know – what the heck?  Isn’t that nuts?  Some times I think Mother Nature is menopausal!

    Great Barrier Reef

    Coral

    After our encounter with Wally we began to explore the reef.  Marine World has a cordoned off section of the reef for its guests to enjoy.  Within this area there was a huge variety of corals; big, small, blue, green, orange, white.  Some are soft and rounded, others spikey and dangerous looking.  In all the

    Great Barriee Reef

    Coral

    snorkeling I have done, I had never seen coral that waved in the current like it did here.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch.  Most of the coral we see in our lives is dead.  And while its pretty even when it is dead and dry, the beauty of live coral is spectacular.  Yes this is an incredible living

    Great Barriee Reef

    Coral

    creature and we surely must protect it.

    “Righteous! Righteous! ” Crush

    So I loved the corals and kept going back for more of that but of course there were the fish. Many, many fish.  I don’t know all their names, but they really are beautiful to watch.  Some of the fish are very solitary, just going along and doing their

    Great Barrier Reef

    Fish!

    business, feeding and swimming and doing what fish do.  Other fish keep in groups, large schools that move together almost as one, weaving above and around the coral mountains.  There are some fish that are so tiny you don’t even see them until you are swimming right through them, while others

    Great Barrier Reef

    Giant Clam

    are so big that they freak you out a bit.  Many fish are shy and you need to look inside the coral to find them.  There are also beautiful giant clams, sea slugs, squid, eels and rays.  And no we did not see any sharks.

    Great Barrier Reef

    Ray

    From this moment on, you shall now be known as Sharkbait.” Gill

    We swam to the outer edge of the roped off area and we were alone in this section just as a beautiful turtle swam by on the surface.  We

    Great Barrier Reef

    Turtle

    almost missed him because we were looking down and he was swimming right next to us on the surface.  But then he dived and we watched him swim to the bottom looking for a snack.  I believe this was a loggerhead turtle.  We had seen this kind in Sri Lanka. Beautiful brown bodies and not too large.  We watched him swim away beyond the area we were confined to and into the great wide ocean.

    “Saw the whole thing, dude. First you were all like “whoa”, and we were like “whoa”, and you were like “whoa…” Crush

    After about an hour we went back to the pontoon to have a rest.  Reef Magic served a buffet lunch

    Great Barrier Reef

    Pontoon

    that included salads and fruit, bread, chicken, sushi, lasagna, curry and roast beef.  But I only ate a little cause I continued to worry about my motion sickness.  Arne ate my share.  It all looked good.  Great Barrier ReefCoffee, tea and water was also available and a bar on the boat was open when we weren’t underway.  Clearly they have had motion sensitive passengers before and they were well stocked with ginger beer (like ginger ale, non-alcoholic). My beverage of choice.

    “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine.” Bruce the Great White Shark

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Fish in all sizes

    We headed back out to snorkel more after lunch.  The water seemed a bit calmer but it was also more cloudy so not as easy to see – but that was okay.  We tried to swim to all the areas and to the far-reaching parts of the swimming area.  We noticed most snorkelers stayed very close to the boat.  Understandably if you are an inexperienced snorkeler or not comfortable in the water.  Reef Magic had life jackets as well as float noodles and other devices for anyone looking for a little more reassurance.

    Great Barrier Reef

    Some are shy

    We snorkeled for about 30 minutes and then decided to call it a day.  We went back on the pontoon and stretched out on a lounge chair for the next hour and a half.  Surprisingly, despite the overcast sky, it was warm and we both got a bit of a sunburn.

    Great Barrier Reef

    My Fab Fifties Life!

    Finally it was time to turn in our gear and make our way off the pontoon and back to the vessel for the hour and half ride back.  Once again I stood and watched the horizon the entire way, including during a deluge about half way home.

    But I did it.  I did not get sick.  I snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef.  I can check that off the “I don’t have a bucket list”

    Great Barrier Reef

    Dory

    bucket list.  And remembered to just keep swimming.

    “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” Dory

    Thanks goes to the wonderful photography of Reef Magic!

    Read more of our Australia adventure here

     

     

    This post includes affiliate links and I may receive a commission if you buy any of these products.  Any money earned goes to help support the cost of the blog.

     

    Fab Oceania Travel

    Uluru Sacred Legends

    Kuniya and Liru

    Location: Uluru Rock, Australia

    There are many Uluru Sacred Legends, embraced and told by the local Anangu people.  The aboriginal Anangu are said to be possibly the oldest native people in the world, dating back more than 50,000 years.  The Uluru Sacred Legend is just one of many beautiful stories of this beautiful culture and their land.

    Uluru

    The sunrises behind Uluru

    Kuniya and Liru

    Minyma Kuniya the python woman came from the east near Erldunda.  A bad feeling grew in her stomach – something was wrong.  She had to go to Uluru.

    Uluru

    Uluru as seen from the base walk

    Kuniya created inma (ceremony) to connect her eggs together.  She carried them to Uluru in a ring around her neck and placed them at Kuniya Piti.

    Meanwhile, Kuniya’s nephew arrived on the other side of Uluru.  He was being chased by a war party of Liru (poisonous snake) men from out near Kata Tjuta.

    He had broken the law in their land and they were sent to punish him.

    The Liru men threw spears at Kuniya’s nephew.

    Uluru

    Uluru as seen from the base walk.

    One pierced his thigh and many others hit the side of Uluru.

    One Liru warrior, Wati Liru, was left to care for the injured python man.  But he did not do his duty and left the injured man on his own.

    Uluru

    Uluru cave

    Minyma Kuniya realized that her nephew had been injured and was not being cared for properly.

    She raced to Mutijulu Waterhole and saw Wati Liru high up on the cliff.  She called out to him about her nephew, but he only laughed.

    Minyma Kuniya placed her wana (digging stick) upright in the ground in front of her.  Kneeling down, she picked up handfuls of sand and threw it over her body, singing and making herself stronger.

    Uluru

    The morning sun puts a pink glow on Uluru

    She was creating inma (ceremony) to help her confront Wati Liru.Kuniya moved toward Liru singing and dancing akuta – a dance step used by women ready to fight.

    Uluru

    Shadow play

    Kuniya hit him once over the head with her wana.  He fell down but got back up.  She hit him a second time and killed him.

    Kuniya then went and found her injured nephew.  She picked him up, dusted him off, and carried him to Mutijulu Waterhole.

    She created inma and combined their two spirits into one.  They became Wanampi, the rainbow serpent, who lives in and protects the waterhole today.

    This story teaches a traditional form of payback

    Uluru

    Admiring the 1000 foot cliffs

    punishment – a spear to the thigh.  The punisher must then look after the injured person until they are well enough to care for themselves.

    It also teaches about women’s intuition and that a woman may use force to protect her children.

    This is a powerful story, Kuniya is a powerful women.

    Story credit the Anangu People of Uluru and Uluru National Park and Parks Australia.

    Fab Oceania Travel

    Exmouth Western Australia

    Ten Reasons I Fell For It

    Location: Exmouth Western Australia

    Australia is huge.  So. Darn. Huge.  Unfortunately, we get a skewed image of our world, by the skewed world maps we use.  But the reality is, Australia is the same size as the lower 48 of the USA.  Even here in little ole Exmouth Western

    Exmouth Western Australia

    Same size

    Australia it’s easy to feel how vast this country is.  Wide open.

    Australia has a population of 25 million living in a country the same size as the USA.  The USA has a population of 325 million.  So it’s easy to understand how big and empty it feels.

    They call Western Australia WA and if you compare it to the state of Washington – also called WA – you will get a good feel for how big this place is.

    Exmouth Western Australia

    Little WA and big WA

    You could put at least a dozen Washington WAs into Western Australia WA.

    Sometimes we meet people who tell us they have traveled to the USA.  We ask where they have been and they say- New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Fransisco.  Sometimes it is also Grand Canyon and Orlando.  Although I love all of these places, I always feel these people have not seen the real USA – that big open prairie, the purple mountains majesty, the crashing Pacific and the Great Lakes.

    Here in Exmouth Western Australia I realize I find

    Exmouth Western Australia

    Sunset Exmouth

    myself guilty of the same.  We will be heading to Ayers Rock next, then the Great Barrier Reef and on to Sydney.  Seeing all the top sites but

    Exmouth Western Australia

    Beautiful water

    are we seeing the real Australia?

    So this is one of the reasons I am so thankful Arne said we needed to come here, and specifically to come to Western Australia where few tourists go.  I love this town and this coast and I want to encourage others to love it too.  So, here are the ten reasons I have fallen in love with Exmouth Western

    Exmouth Western Australia

    Sandy beaches

    Australia.

    1.  The Coast – the West coast of Western Australia is diverse, even here in this tiny part we have enjoyed.  The amazing Ningaloo Reef is beautiful and the water is turquoise and the sand is white. It’s pretty close to perfect.  From the town of Exmouth Western Australia you’re at the beach in
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Amazing sea life

      minutes.

    2. The Marine Park – all along the coast here the marine park draws those who love the ocean.  So much to love here as a diver or snorkeler or fisherman.  Some of the world’s most amazing creatures call this coast home at
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Ant hill

      some time during the year, including the largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark, the Humbpack Whale, Orca Whale, Manta Rays and many other kinds of rays, sharks of every kind and so many, many fish.

    3. Turtles – in addition to all the above mentioned sealife the Coast Range National Park is home to one of the largest turtle
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Amazing

      nesting sites in the world.  You can swim with the turtles by day, and at sunset or sunrise and sometimes other times you can watch the female turtles nest.  They haul themselves out of the water and up to a safe spot in the dunes where they dig a nest and lay their eggs.  They then go back to the ocean and leave their progeny to fend for themselves.  Approximately 50 days later the eggs hatch en masse.  If you are lucky you can witness the little babes scurry to the ocean, drawn by an inner compass telling them where to go.  Incredible.

    4. Wildlife – it’s more than just remarkable sea life around Exmouth Western Australia.  Don’t be surprised if you see an Emu walking down the sidewalk or through the little village.
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Emu

      Kangaroos?  Definitely.  There are three kinds of kangaroos in the area, the smaller Euro, the larger red and the grey.  We’ve seen them all.  We also saw two dingos – similar to

      Exmouth Western Australia

      Kangaroo

      coyotes, they are nocturnal and hard to spot.  We have seen a lot of lizards, including the Perentie, and a plethora of birds big and small.

    5. Hiking – the Coast Range National Park runs
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Perentie

      for about 70km along the coast and provides several opportunities to get out of your car and see the rocky range and canyons dotted through the park.  The favorite is the Yardie Creek at the end of the road.  Surprising to see this

      Exmouth Western Australia

      Yardie Creek

      beautiful creek coming out of the dry and arid mountains.  We also enjoyed visit the Charles Knife and Shothole Canyons for spectacular views as far as the eye can see.  Caution is important in these wild, hot and

      Exmouth Western Australia

      Shothole Canyon

      dry areas and you must carry plenty of water.  A fly net for your face is also extremely important, as the flies are a real nuisance otherwise.

    6. The Village of Exmouth – tiny Exmouth Western Australia is home to about 2000 people.  We visited in the late summer, after the kids had gone back to school.  Few tourists are here at this time of year, although during the Australian summer months
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Using our fly nets

      (November – February) the population swells with many Australians and other visitors from around the world.  We liked how quiet it was.  Exmouth Western Australia has a nice grocery store, a handful of restaurants, a pharmacy, a hair and nail salon and a few

      Exmouth Western Australia

      New Ningaloo Center

      other shops.  The town also has a very nice brand new “center” that includes a visitor information center, senior center, library, and meeting rooms.

    7. Craft Beer – for a small town we were very happy to find not one, but TWO craft
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Froth Craft

      breweries.  Froth Craft and Whalebone both had excellent locally made brews and food.  We spent one Saturday evening at Whalebone listening to the band our Airbnb host is in.  So fun!  Our server at Whalebone

      Exmouth Western Australia

      Whalebone

      that night was the same woman who was our server for lunch at the local Vegan Social Society a few days before.  It’s a very small town.

    8. Speaking of Airbnb – The one we stayed in here in Exmouth Western Australia is number 39 and it has shot to the top of our list, one
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Social Society

      of our favorite Airbnb’s so far.  A guest house next to the hosts home, we felt so comfortable here in our space and really enjoyed the lovely family.  This family is very entrenched in their community with their two darling daughters and the husband’s local

      Exmouth Western Australia

      We loved our Airbnb

      construction business.  We were very impressed when he went off as a volunteer firefighter to try to put out a big wildfire we had watched out in the distance for several days.

    9. The weather – it is a wee bit hotter than I would like, but “it’s a dry heat”!  We are out in it everyday and we have adjusted.  I’m thrilled  to get away from the humidity for a while and so is my hair!  In  fact, I have realized that
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Sunrise run in our neighborhood

      some of my aches and pains I endure are likely due to high humidity.  Here I have felt great, very little pain in my normal hip and sciatic area and I have been running again everyday!  Feels so good to be back at it, especially with the handy, flat trail right next to our airbnb.

    10. English – it’s really nice to find ourselves back in an English-speaking country.  We get a
      Exmouth Western Australia

      Farewell Exmouth!

      kick out of trying to communicate as we go around the world, but it also is tiring and sometimes problematic.  So here we are speaking English, a somewhat different, but easy to grasp version, and we are very happy.

    So, there you go.  Ten reasons I fell for Exmouth Western Australia.  I even looked at real estate listings.  It’s a sweet town – you should come and see!

     

    Fab Oceania Travel

    Guam – Where America’s Day Begins

    A tiny spot in the Pacific Ocean

    Location: Guam

    A tiny spot in the Pacific – Where America’s Day Begins.

    There are no American tourists here.  There are Americans – a lot of them.  Air Force, Navy and Civilians.  But we have seen no American tourists.  Curious that.

    colorful flower

    Tropical Flower Guam

    Don’t misunderstand – there are a lot of tourists, all Japanese or Korean.  It takes about 3 and half hours to fly here from Tokyo and about four and half from Seoul.  But to fly here from Seattle you need to either go to Tokyo first, or Manila and it’s going to take about 16 or 17 hours or more.

    Well that explains a lot.

    tropical beach

    Beautiful Guam Beaches

    But we are here. Just shy of the international dateline – Guam is where America’s day begins.   On this tiny tropical island (13.5 degrees N) I feel like I’m in Hawaii, but without the bling.  Sure there are hotels, geared to the Asian tourists with some nice beaches and LOTS of shopping and even Vegas style shows at the resorts. But most of Guam is more of a low-budget bar and nightclub scene, geared to the military.  And massage parlors – where maybe you can get a massage but probably a lot more.

    guam beaches

    Interesting rock formations

    But look past these things and you find a remarkably beautiful place, with a fascinating history.  The beaches we have gone to are mostly deserted.  Stunning white sand, sparkling turquoise water and not a soul in sight.

    Mount Lam Lam

    On top of Lam Lam mountain

    We’ve walked through a nature reserve with thousands of butterflies, giant spiders and teeny lizards.  We visited caves where ancient people lived and left cave drawings.

    We climbed Guam’s highest peak Mount Lam Lam where local Catholics (75% of the population) make a pilgrimage each Easter.

    We hiked along an ancient and sharp volcanic flow to a beautiful beach called Sharks Cove.  No sharks but some of the prettiest blue water I have ever seen.

    We took a drive to the south end of the island and up the cliff lined east side and enjoyed amazing views of the never-ending Pacific.

    Guam Sunset

    On of several beautiful sunsets

    We saw some of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever witnessed from our west-facing condo in the town of Tamuning.  As the sun sets on this island the US Mainland is nearly a full day behind.  It’s prompted the local slogan ‘Guam: Where America’s Day Begins’.

    Two Lovers Point Guam

    The view from Two Lovers Point

    We visited Two Lovers Point, where the local “Romeo and Juliet” style legend of two lovers jumping to their death has created one of the islands busiest tourist spots. The Japanese love this kind of stuff and they swarm to it.

    We learned about the ancient Chamorro people, their tribal caste system that goes back 4000 years.  We learned that Magellan came here in the 15th century followed by the Spanish who occupied until the United States took control after the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    Sharks Cove Guam

    The deserted beach at Sharks Cove

    Japanese gun

    Japanese gun from WWII

    On December 7th 1941, just hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor the Japanese took control of Guam.  For nearly three years the native people were held in concentration camps, tortured, raped and beheaded before US troops recaptured Guam on July 21st 1944 – celebrated every year as Independence Day.

    Today Guam is an independent territory of the United States.  Residents are US Citizens but they do not have a vote.  Tourism and military are the base of the island’s economy, both which are thriving. It feels American – most of the time.  Lots of familiar businesses, and yet, it doesn’t quit feel like the USA.

    MahiMahi in a Miso mushroom gravy

    We found a delicious and eclectic food scene on Guam and we ate some amazing food.  Chamorro comfort food is rich and hearty and similar at times to Hawaiian

    Inarajan Pools south island

    food with lots of fish, rice and fruit as well as mashed potatoes and gravy and shrimp and octopus.  We enjoyed Mahi-Mahi, bulgogi beef, ahi poke, pork skewers, tacos, Ramen, German food and takoyaki (octopus fritters).  A varied and scrumptious blend of all the influences this tiny (30 miles by 12 miles) island has seen.

    And we enjoyed spending time with family.  Our reason for coming to Guam on the Grand Adventure to visit my niece and her husband.  They have been on the island for a year.  They have learned to like it despite the fact it is expensive and there are some  quirks (no Target, my niece complains).  Spending time with them was a joy, especially as we watch them prepare for their first baby.

    In Guam

    Davy and Rebekah

    So that was the real highlight of our time here.  Everything else was fluff.  Getting a family fix helps me focus on the coming ten weeks.  Ten weeks until we return to

    Chomarro Market Guam

    With my niece Bekah

    the Pacific Northwest for a two month visit.  But meanwhile we have some more adventures ahead – starting with a month in Australia.

    So stay tuned – the grand adventure continues.

    Signing off for now from Guam – Where America’s Day Begins.

    Fabulous.

     

     

    Fab Oceania Travel

    A Fond Farewell to New Zealand

    Chapter Six comes to an End

    Location: New Zealand

    Wow.

    That’s the best word I can come up with to describe the last seven weeks in New Zealand.  Wow.

    I hope to be back some day. This little country packs a powerful punch and we have enjoyed our seven weeks here thoroughly.  Thumbs up all around as a visitor to the beautiful island nation.

    People keep asking me what was the best?  What was my favorite?  It’s a difficult question.  If I had to come up with one thing it would probably be our
    three days on the Abel Tasman trail – although I fell in love with so many other places we visited and things we saw as well. Milford Sound was magnificent.  Tongariro Crossing was spectacular.  Cape Reinga was beautiful.  The sun, the rain, the ocean, the lakes, the rivers.  The volcanoes, the valleys, the farms, the mountains, the fjords.   The stars – they are amazing. The sunrises and sunsets.  And in the last days of our visit finally seeing a kiwi in the wild.  Oh my goodness.  How can you choose a favorite?

    And of course the people.  New Zealand is the only country we have been in so far where we were invited into people’s homes.  What a treat that was – new friends on the South Island who welcomed us overnight at their home on a 700 acre sheep farm and new friends on the North Island who made us a spectacular dinner in their beautiful home overlooking a caldera in Auckland.  Two special experiences not every visitor gets to have.  Fabulous.

    We have spent the last five days in the city of Auckland, a bit of a recovery phase after four weeks in the Kiwi Karavan.  Auckland is a beautiful city – sparkling white boats on the sparkling turquoise water beneath the sparkling blue sky.  An easy city to love and to imagine living here….maybe…??  We did a lot of
    walking in the city, enjoyed the adjacent towns of Devenport and St. Heliers and loved the local museum.  But our favorite thing by far was our day
    on Tiritiri Matangi Island Bird Sanctuary where we saw many endangered birds as well as the elusive kiwi.  What a treat.

    New Zealand has made a major commitment to
    conservation, restoration and preservation of wildlife, native species and Maori culture.  They also have great reverence  for their veterans – in particular the entire generation of men who died in WWI leaving a huge gap.   I appreciate all of this and have a great deal of respect for a country that puts culture, arts, nature, sacrifice and history on a pedestal.  My kind of place.

    Our time in New Zealand has been very busy.  In fact we have broken all of our rules about taking it slow and easy and trying to stay in one place for
    extended period of time.  We have been on the go for seven weeks seeing one end of this country to the other.  And now we are looking forward to some real down time.  Chapter Seven will be a complete 180 from our time in New Zealand.

    Chapter Seven begins tomorrow, with what will be a hellish travel day.  Actually it will be nearly 48 hours from the time I wake up tomorrow to the time I lay by head on the pillow on the other end.  Four flights, four countries as we make our way to the very remote, very small, very sunny and hopefully, very relaxing island of Praslin in the Seychelles Islands.

    We will spend 33 days in the same Airbnb.  Downtime.  Ahhhhh.

    But, our Airbnb does not have wifi, and we will likely not have the same access we have had to social media, internet and email.  But I will blog as often as I can, and post on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter when I have the opportunity.  Between gin and

    A bit of a rest.

    tonics that is.

    So with that, we say farewell.  A fond farewell to New Zealand – where I leave a piece of my heart.  Thanks for a wonderful time.

    Seychelles here we come!

     

    Fab Oceania Travel

    Tiki Tour Comes to an End

    Time to say farewell to the Kiwi Karavan

    Location: New Zealand

    The time has flown by and living in 90 sf never seemed to be a problem.  Even when it rained.  Even when the temperature dropped into the 30’s.

    Abel Tasman New Zealand

    There is no better way to explore New Zealand than in a camper van and we loved every minute.  I would do it again without hesitation – and go pursue those few roads we missed.  Hard to believe we did miss anything, but we did.

    Napier New Zealand

    We still have a week left before we fly to the Seychelles Islands, and during these final days of Chapter Six we will explore the city of Auckland.

    But the Kiwi

    Karavan has been our friend to drive, to sleep, to cook, to eat, to read, to play scrabble – to live.  For a month.

    On the South Island we covered 2083 miles going as far south as Opia/Nightcaps were we learned about sheep farming and to the far north of the South Island where we hiked the Abel Tasman Trek and

    kayaked in the Queen Charlotte Sound. I’ve included a map of where we traveled.

    We then took the Kiwi Karavan on the ferry from Picton to Wellington on the North Island and began our trek North.  On the North Island we covered

    New Zealand

    1820 miles from Wellington all the way to Cape Reinga – as far north as you can possibly go without jumping into the sea.

    I’ve also included a map of our route on the North Island.

    It became a joke as we traveled – every time we looked at Google maps for a distance to a destination it was two hours.  Every time.  So we decided no matter where you are in New Zealand, it’s two hours to wherever you want to be.

    I recommend seeing New Zealand this way.  The country’s government has gone out of its way to make this a lifestyle option for locals and visitors with free campsites, free dump sites, free water, free garbage drop off, free bathrooms.  The South Island had a significantly larger number of camper vans on the road ( as well as many, many more tour busses) than the North Island.  This even though the roads

    Firth of Thames

    on the North Island, while still windy and narrow, were much bettter.

    We went days without paying for camping, only when it was time to shower or do laundry did we pull into a holiday park that cost.  When all was said and done we spent 14 nights at free camping and 14 at pay camping.

    We walked a total number of 200 miles with seven days where we walked more than ten miles. Our longest day was 17 miles.  We averaged just under 5 mi per day

    It was fabulous.

    I’ve included in this blog some of my best photos

    Cape Reinga

    from the past six weeks. The feature photo at the top is a lucky shot.  One of

    Tongariro

    my favorites of many sunrise photos. If you would like to see more of the best images from our world tour please follow our Instagram account. There is a link at the top of this page. Or search My Fab Fifties Life.

    It’s on to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland – to see what we can see!  I will certainly let you know what we find!

    The final week of Chapter Six begins now.