??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise – Robinson Crusoe Island, Fiji

After a lazy day poolside, following a huge ( as always) buffet breakfast, we dressed up for a 4:15pm pick up for a sunset dinner cruise and show. The show was to be held on a small nearby island – obviously Robinson Crusoe Island.


The brochure promised us –
• 30 minute Jungle Cruise to the island

• Welcome Kava Ceremony

• Fijian “Lovo” (earth oven) Buffet

• Fire Walking Demonstration

• South Pacific Performance featuring Fire & Knife dancers

• Island bonfire and string band serenaders

and I must say it delivered!!

The bus arrived on time and after about a 45 minute bus trip we arrived at the Robinson Crusoe Island Ferry Jetty , with a few other mini buses and a coach.


We swapped our ticket vouchers for boarding passes and watched the first boat start its trip down the river. Our boat filled quickly. We were assured there was no deadly wildlife in the river, given instructions on the use of life jackets, then with a loud ‘BULA’ off we sped.


Our trip took us through the mangrove lined Tuva River. At the mouth of the river the sunset painted a glorious picture of orange glow. Small boats,the other ferry and palm trees cast silhouettes against the strong glow.



Docked on the island we were met by a serenade and we were led to the meeting area.


First we were told the story of chiefs and kava ceremonies. We watched a ceremony then all were invited to partake in Kava.

A bonfire on the beach followed. Songs were sung as hungry tummies awaited the final cooking stage of the Lovo. We soon watched the foods removed from their rock under earth oven.While the rocks were still sizzle hot we witnessed some Fijians walk on them. This must take a lot of mind psyching.


Dinner was served- a delicious menu of tender beef, chicken and an assortment of vegetables. With full plates on our tables ( and soon very full tummies) the performers serenaded us- melodic and peaceful.

The end of dinner signalled the start of the show- I was captivated from the beginning to the end. We watched as women and men performed traditional dances with a variety of costume changes. The knife dance was impressive but the fire twirling was what thrilled me the most- I have long been intrigued by watching the flicker of its dance. The finale is on the beach and without ruining it ,let’s say it was totally riveting and a spectacular visual.


To the strains of Isa Lei – The Fijian Farewell Song, our dinner show ended and we headed back to our buses via another trip in the island ferry.

It was a little unnerving wondering how the trip would be, aware we had seen no navigational poles but had seen tree stumps exposed in the rivers while on the daylight leg. The light turned out to be from someone sitting up on the roof with a large torchlight beam. A little concerning at first, but YOLO. The trip with the sparkling star sky canvas and the roaming floodlight beam added to the adventure.

Would thoroughly recommend this to Fijian visitors. It was an amazing evening! Money well spent 😀

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Departure – with a twist

Was woken at 1:30 am Monday morning,  by a text from Jetstar advising our flight would be delayed in the morning. Departure time moved from 8:55am to 10:30am. This meant the wake up alarm could be moved forward from 5 am to 6:30. Luxury 🙂 I woke up super early and enjoyed the extra time watching the airport come alive against the majestic sunrise hues.


Arrived for an easy check in,  but as per usual our check in gate was J !!! Handed over the bags and proceeded to border control and security. Had all my lipsticks, mascaras, eyeliners and moisturisers in my little liquids plastic bag. Popped my jacket onto a tray, removed all my ventolin canisters into the tray, placed my liquids bag in the tray then needed another tray for my handbag then sent them in their way to be xrayed. Of course, I was the one chosen for the body scan.

On exiting the scan I was asked to move to the left to observe my picture and note the images. The images indicated coloured spots and I had to suggest anything that might be the reason for this. I sheepishly suggested my underwire bra and cheap necklace along with the metal zip in my dress (yes all poor choices for travel wear haha) . I was then advised I must submit to a pat down , so stood patiently while I was patted. Passing that test I then was ( as always) chosen for the explosives wand check. Passed that, and was free to proceed to a cafe for breakfast. Yes …all that with no coffee!!!

At check in, although the departure board indicated out flight was leaving from gate 26A , we were told it was in fact gate 55. Deciding to eat closer to the gate we headed that way assured by the signs it was just a 7 minute walk – I do so love walks. Obviously they use a slow walker to gauge the distance and we were ordering at a cafe in less than 5 minutes including a window browse of shops – Tiffany for me, duty free liquor for Brian.

After breakfast we headed for gate 55. I wasn’t confident that this would be our gate as the departure board still indicated 26A. Arriving at the gate I decided to use my plane geek skills to establish which plane we were waiting on to be our plane. Worked that out, with the help of flight aware and flightradar, establishing it had landed at a gate B1. Not much help. As I stressed, I heard an announcement that …sure enough…we were leaving from gate 26A ( yes double 13). The board also indicated the walk time was 12 minutes ….arghhhh… But I had 20 mins and of course it was significantly less.

Gate 26A turned out to be a bit Harry Potterish. There was almost the brick wall to push through – well an escalator. This time checked with a Sydney Airport Assistant who told me her information didn’t indicate this was the gate for my flight, but she did a walkie talkie check and found it was our gate. The gate board only indicated Seoul, ports in New Zealand , Papua New Guinea and Norfolk Island. Eventually we were allowed down the escalator to the boarding area. Here we proceeded to boarding walking straight through onto a bus!!!! that took us to the plane. But as expected we had to wait on the bus while some late arrivals were paged. Finally I guess they arrived because the bus took us out to the plane. Rydges was visible from the plane – we had in fact travelled a full circle and not left Sydney.


In boarding we were advised to keep our seat belts off due to refuelling. Then we were told to buckle up for our flight – bitter wasn’t to be yet. Seems now there was inclement weather in our path so a new route needed to be approved before we could depart. Turns out this new route required more fuels , so it was belts off again. The pilot then muttered something about it being a much heavier jet now but the fuel was adequate for the trip ( that’s got to be a positive!!)
Finally we lifted off two and a half hours late- much to the delight of the child who had been kicking my seat for hour and a half on the tarmac ,and probably to the man in front who immediately reclined his seat on reaching out ascent height.

Enjoyed some cheese and crackers and soon we arrived in Nadi.


We were thrilled our transport was waiting for us and after an hours drive at sunset we arrived st Shangri La Fiji Resort. Starving we headed to the first restaurant we saw and ate a hearty dinner.


We will explore tomorrow in daylight .


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Bula!

After a few long hectic weeks full of a combination of illness ( the dreaded cough virus that hit the local area and both me and Brian) , heavy workload and consequently no sleep relaxation time has finally arrived. 

Spent the ‘night before flight’ at Rydges Sydney Airport as our flight out was an early 8:30 one. Can’t recommend this highly enough for plane enthusiasts …or those that value an extra hour of sleep before travel! Our room looked over the airport. I was well armed with my trusty binoculars, flightradar24 open on one page of my browser and the flight arrival and departures on another. This is one of the few times I don’t feel hunger – well at least not for food. Had to be dragged away from my window but must admit the food was truly worth it. Watched the planes til no more passenger flights then was up to watch the first to depart Sydney in the morning. Then it was my time to join the travelers.


Check in was easy enough, but in true fashion for me, the check-in counters and gates were always miles apart. Yes, I checked in at counter J (Virgin Australia) and departed from gate 50 …but at least not Gate 63! While waiting for the plane I had to get my teacher voice and face out. Minding our own business I get a hit to the head with a tennis ball. Two kids were playing an active game of handball amongst the crowd of passengers . The first hit got them the death stare and a suggestion to play further away. The second!!!! time saw the deaths stare and a comment that a better place to play would be outside the terminal. The third!!!! time saw them come over and ask for their ball back this time rather than just scramble around our feet. Thankfully it as boarding time then. Is it too much o teach children that there is a time and place for games? I noticed their parents enjoying a quiet coffee well away from the ‘play area’. If only I’d had their insight haha! 

Anyway our flight was to be a great one. Couldn’t believe our luck. We had seats in row 3. Yes I had to be in close proximity to the business class people but had extra leg room and 2 windows , what more can I ask for?? … welll….maybe for no crying baby or the toddler who kept opening and closing the magnetic rope that separates business class from economy. Food was a yogurt, an omelet, with 3 potato wedges and tasty chutney, and a muesli bar, washed down with apple juice . Was even able to stalk my own plane via the Virgin onboard wifi…also had an array of movies, podcasts, books and games. Broke the monotony of just water to look at below. 


Arrived at Nadi to be greater by 30C heat and a balmy breeze…just how life should be. A quick bag grab and walk through customs and in a few minutes we were being whisked away to our accommodation wearing new she’ll necklaces. We saw children on buses going home from school. Learned they have a 3 term year, with 2 sets of 3 week holidays and a 6 weeker at Christmas ( does this now qualify me to call this trip an educational activity and tax deduction??? lol) we passed through sugar cane, and houses with washing dancing on clothes lines , then the opulence of enormous homes ( apparently mostly own by overseas investors) and a well manicured golf course, before arriving at the Westin Denarau. 


We were greeted by a porter and a small band was playing in the foyer ( not purposely for me haha). Check in was a breeze and thanks to my new membership (joined last week) of the Starwood club I was told I was entitled to a 20% off dining ( except breakfasts). Better than a poke in the eye with a blind stick for sure!! 

Our room is in the second floor which means about 12 steps – you all know how much I love steps. But we do have a balcony. 


We were starving after our aeroplane food being all we had eaten , but at almost 5 pm found we needed to walk to Sheraton ( maybe 500 meters) for food or wait until 6pm. So wait we did, using the time to look around the resort . So glad I fake tanned before we left. I would have stood out more as a newbie with my milky white legs haha. 

Ate dinner at an Asian inspired restaurant while watching a fire dance . We will get more ‘up close and personal’ to this show another night when we aren’t lusting after an early dinner like we were. 

Ambled along the waterfront before retiring early. 10pm here is just 8pm at home but we were both exhausted from lack of sleep. Zzzzzzzz


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Norfolk Island Experience

Our journey was infinitely more comfortable than that of the early convict inhabitants. We flew Air New Zealand and the staff from check in to the end of the flight were friendly and helpful.of course for us we never travel without ‘a story to tell’. Today’s had a few chapters 🙂

Chapter One Proceeding through Check in and customs
I was feeling a little disappointed as our check in was fast and all too easy. The line wasn’t long, desk staff helped with boarding passes and our bag was within the legal weight ( not always the case – no pun intended).
Customs was a breeze and I had a chatty officer who listened politely as I told her of my travel plans …well she DID ask where I was going , how long and why – she wouldn’t ask if she weren’t truly interested right 😉
Then things turned to our more common ‘Griswald ‘style. We put our carry on bags through screening and of course I’m chosen as the body scan person . So, having had my experience before ‘Your hands aren’t high enough up!” I stuck them up nice and high …this time was ‘too high!” I must commit to travel overseas more often to get this task right 🙂
Then I was told to step forward after the scan and she patted around my waist . I smirked and said, “It’s all fat”. She smiled…I’m sure she was thinking no one could have that waist naturally .
Then, collecting my bags from the security screen, I notice the contents of Brian’s backpack is being scrutinised. At first when he heard it was something ‘long’ he questioned that it could be his selfie stick…but no!! Turns out he forgot he had scissors and a letter opener ( both which had to be handed over) in his pencil case. While all that excitement happened I stood by watching as if I’d never seen him before, only to be chosen for the ammunition check. I must admit though it’s good they do screen.
Chapter Two – Unlucky to some
Those of you who know me,or read my blog regularly, will know the number 13 causes me distress. Yesterday , as soon as I could, I checked us into our flight for today. Our designated seats were in row 13..and the flight showed to be full with exception of row 12 which were exit rows . These seats cost to change to them. My dilemma was should I choose these seats and pay the $50 and risk changing fate or accept and sit in row 13. I remained strong and sat in my designated seat. On touch down I cheered YOLO ( my catch phrase from the beginning of 2014) proud of myself for having sat in the seat. It was only a slightly over 2 hour flight though. Not sure if I could do it for a long haul

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On arrival on the island we were given our hire car and shown to our apartment. It looked nice. Starving we hit the shops to lock for a late lunch. Being 2:30 we had to hurry as lunch cafés seem to close around 3pm. We also found out the liquor store closes at 5:30 ( but discovered that at 5:45 pm) …haha…we will learn to be better organised. We also must remember on Wednesday afternoons many things close , so the residents can play. Good afternoon for a tour that day 🙂 took a drive around the island to get a feel for things and experienced the rule ‘Cows have right of way’ 🙂

My apologies for the poorly presented post. Internet is a bit difficult so I wanted to post while I still had access . Photos are small as when I tried larger it slowed down sending until if totally stopped 😦

 


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Power of Names

This week my name has featured largely in my life. Regular readers will be familiar my holiday plans as I tick off another on my bucket list. If not you might want to have a read here.

I do not have a current passport but need one for my travels. With flights already bought and much of my land content organised and paid for, it was time (maybe this should have been an earlier event) to organise a passport.

“How difficult could it be?” I thought…until I open our document folder. Of course just one item was missing – you guessed it- my birth certificate. I haven’t needed to use it since the kids got their passports so it’s a mystery where it is. Birth certificate copies are easy enough to get. With a few typed facts, some photocopied documents and a credit card payment for a fast processing fee of $75 I was on the way.

 

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It arrived on my doorstep on the third working day after I had ordered it so all was progressing well.

On opening the certificate I saw my name no longer had the hyphen in it that I knew I had on the original one. I also noticed my sister’s name had been misspelled (though luckily her birth certificate has the correct spelling on it). Faced with a Saturday interview appointment for my passport I was concerned what the outcome would be. My old passport has the hyphen as does my Medicare card, drivers license and wedding certificate (all used my original birth certificate to be obtained) the three ID pieces I needed for my new passport.

The post office processed it fine so I guess I now have to wait to see if the Passport Office does too…and to see what name I have on my new passport. Fingers crossed.

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Luckily my air carrier doesn’t accept non-alpha characters in their ticketing process so all should be good either way, according to their representative.

 

A point to ponder.

You have but to know an object by its proper name for it to lose its dangerous magic. — Elias Canetti

 

Have names caused you issues? Leave your story in a  comment.


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È molto eccitata

I have been absent from my blog this last week. My head (and every spare second of my time) has been filled with planning my family’s trip to Italy, a hop into Germany and a wander around Austria.

italyI am following Trip Advisor closely.  I read the reports, interpreting the comments to the best I can, to make (hopefully) good judgments about places that will suit my trip. Reading so many of the comments made me a little sad about the mindset of some travelers. Too often they comment on hotel features based on their own country’s style.  Traveling should widen the experiences not be mirror images of what you have at home. If that were the case surely it would be easier to stay home and save all that saved cash for something else.

So far I have booked the accommodation in Italy. Today I’ve started researching ‘Must Do’ activities and the ‘rip your hair out’ job of finding the most suitable transport to get around.

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Having said all that I must admit I actually enjoy the preparation of a trip. I’ve been impressed with prompt replies to emails from businesses. I have spent literally days sifting through information but I think I have selected places that will suit us well. I did drag out the process in Venice to find a reasonable price rate and a canal view. Can’t wait to open those shutter and call out Ciao to those walking past along the canal pathway.

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But with all this planning and 92 days until we leave I realised one most important thing I hadn’t organised… a passport!  A kind of MAJOR thing!!!! Lodging that this week then it will be all systems go.

Tell me about your experiences of Italy, Germany and Austria please. I need all the advice I can get. Perhaps you know some of the more unique ‘off the main track’ attractions to see.


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Il tavolo e marrone and other tales of Anna!

Browsing through the Daily Prompts on WordPress, today’s prompt caught my eye.

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

I come from Italian heritage. My paternal grandfather came to Australia from an island of the northern coast of Sicily, when he was 12 (in 1880). In 1915 he married my grandmother who had come to Australia a short time before that. I guess being an immigrant at that time was not a popular thing and so my grandfather apparently insisted he and my grandmother spoke only English. My grandfather died when my dad was nine and consequently he and his siblings spoke only English (though my dad and brothers knew some very choice sayings in Italian). I remember my grandmother speaking Italian with her sisters and relatives but I was more intrigued by the twigs (bayleaves) she had hanging to dry in the kitchen corner – not to mention the fact they went in the food she prepared!

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Several years ago my daughter thought she would like to learn conversational Italian with a view to one day using it in her travels. I decided to join her, not because I had dreams at that time to travel there but because I thought it would give her someone to practice with and I knew no other language than English. I had done a little bit in high school (sure, a million years before). “How hard could this be?” I thought.”It’s in the blood,” I thought. “The intonation will come to me from that corner of the brain that houses special memories”. Not so, on any count.

cooltext1423796187link to doing these cool texts 🙂

Instead I copped the wrath of the teacher. Turns out Sicilian is not Italian as such. Turns out counting to ten and doing greetings and colours is not conversational Italian either. “What kind of Italian name is Kerry-Anne – you will be referred to as ANNA!!” she screeched in good Italian mumma tones (I remember the tone). This didn’t make for a good experience. Often I missed my questions in class (there were only about 8 of us), only to be berated for doing so- I forgot I was Anna and was looking around trying to see who should be answering the question.

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I tried very hard but I was definitely a remedial student. I tried to complete my homework. One time it was so hard I typed up my daughter’s HSC assignment in return for her completing the homework for both of us – it came easy to her- and I was more successful in my typing. My daughter was dragged down by my inabilities and we laughed in class the day the teacher said my daughter had to complete the remedial lesson with me while the other students got to play fun games. Many times my daughter would whisper answers to me just so I didn’t get into trouble in class but we were often caught out and that wasn’t a nice experience.

I learnt very little to have a conversation with, but I did learn other things. I saw classroom dynamics as they are primary school – yet these were adult women and men. I found one student  (other than my daughter) was more supportive of the slower one (me) while others enjoyed making fun of me to elevate themselves. I learnt that if a teacher doesn’t like you the classroom isn’t a pleasant place to be. I learnt that bright red lipstick isn’t a good look when smudged on teeth of a snarling teacher (in fact it’s never a good look really). I learnt if you aren’t good at something you should just give up (well I got the message but never adhered to it, finishing my 10 week course proudly). So , the course wasn’t wasted time in one way.

I also learnt ‘Il tavolo e marrone’,

800px-Wooden_Table_-_SketchUp‘Dove (insert each family member’s name here)’

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and ‘Caffe latte’.

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I’m actually planning a trip to Italy with my family in the not too distant future. So hopefully I will have a chance to tell someone that the table is brown and I want a coffee with hot milk while I look for my family. You just never know!