Tuesday, 10 October 2017

North Island Sojourn, NZ 2017

Off on VA100 to Wellington this morning for 12 days around the north island of New Zealand. A few days by ourselves before we catch up with Paul and Suzanne in Auckland. Certainly looking forward to some cooler weather and new sights. Only been here a couple of times so far and both times with work, so no time to sight see. Now for a nice coffee and some pancakes in the AirNZ lounge before takeoff.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

VIVID 2017 @Taronga Zoo #vividtaronga

So through my employment I had the opportunity this May to attend Taronga Zoo in Sydney during the Vivid festival. This is now an annual celebration in Sydney where they light up various buildings and structures, ie Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and others as well as displaying numerous illuminated art works in public spaces.
Taronga Zoo for the second year running, have their own displays at night when the zoo is usually closed. These of course consist of lantern art works (sculptures) of a large variety of animals, relevant to the zoo and the conservation programs they engage in around the world. This year they also followed an educational theme to enlighten visitors about the ecological issues relating to mankind's use of plastics.
Here are some of the images I took of the displays and if your in Sydney till the 17th July, I would recommend catching the ferry across to the zoo and have a lovely couple of hours wandering around. You will not regret it.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Europe 2016 Oct 4th-6th Days 37-39 Roma to Brisbane

An easy start this morning as we have to pack, checkout and leave Rome and finally Europe; for this trip anyway. Didn't take long and after a casual breakfast and a little tidy up of the Ritz, the bags were set to the side and we went for a last walk around the local streets. Found a pharmacy to buy some TED's for myself due to Jane's concern over my leg injury and DVT with the long flights home; very fetching too I might say, a black pair look extremely attractive on these legs paired with shorts. Then found a quiet little cafe we hadn't already visited and had a great last cup of coffee before grabbing one last longing look down the road at the the Colosseum, still in awe of this sight. Returned to get our bags and left the Ritz for the last time; a great place and superb location, before waving down a taxi for the trip to the airport.
The ride to the airport was reasonably uneventful, except for one truck trying to merge into our lane, and neither wanting to giving way; luckily our driver saw the sense and finally did with a lot of horn tooting, gesticulating and angry words of Italian. At the airport we just had a thirty minute wait before check in (bag drop and I won the weight battle easily) so as it was twelve already we settled for a small lunch and drink (water only this time) before an easy check in and then off through security etc. Had a wander around the duty free and ended up buying a bottle of Grappa to bring back and a couple of books to read on the flights; Nesbo and James Joyce for me and some girly book (her words) One Summer in Venice by Nicky Pellegrino for Jane.
The Emirates flight to Dubai was good and seemed to go quite quickly except I got the "seat back all flight" person in front of me again; why why why !! Arrived at Dubai just before midnight and had a shortish wait before our 2.45 am flight to Brisbane. It was only now that rather than being direct as was originally booked; it was two legs via Singapore, oh well just grin and bear it. We both had aisle seats opposite each other, however I got a very nice gentleman from Singapore who I chatted with for a while as he was very interested in travel, while Jane had the Irish mother with the sixteen month old child; lucky her. Good flight ( except for screaming kids and babies) and then after a one and half hour stop over in Singapore which was actually a good interlude for leg stretching, we were on the final leg to Brisbane. Another good flight (so much better when someone in front isn't shoving the seat back in your face) and no-one filled the seat vacated by Singapore man next to me (Jane still had Irish family though) and even though a little delayed we finally landed around 1.30 am Brisbane time. Quick trip through customs, etc and a stop at the duty free for some single malts and it was into a taxi and home, all there by 2.30 am; excellent. As you can guess straight into the land of nod as neither of us had much sleep on the plane over the three legs, but I must admit; split into three legs of approx seven hours each was actually a very good way to go; must consider this for the next European adventure.....  ;-)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Europe 2016 Oct 3rd Day 36 Pompeii Positano

Up at 5.30am this morning as off to Pompeii. Quick brekky and them a 20 minute walk to Piazza Republica to meet the tour. Took a small group tour (15 max) as doing Pompeii and then drive to Amalfi coast and Positano. A long 13 hour day but next morning to recover and just couldn't be bothered with catching a couple of trains and finding our own way there. Just lazy and end of trip tiredness.
Met our guide Andrea and on our way with driver, Luigi, best in the business and looks like he's been in it for a while. A family of four on board and mother / grandmother (hard to tell) looks like she's suffering from some ailment and having enough trouble just walking the 5m to the bus with a cane, God knows how she will do the Pompeii walk?
Stopped after almost 2 hours for a pit stop and then about a  further hour to Pompeii to be met by our guide, Francesca.
Was a great two plus hours at Pompeii, just amazing and certainly could have spent more time, but thems the breaks. Great, knowledgeable guide who imparted a lot of information leaving you wondering how much more is still siting there undisclosed in the massive sections still not excavated. Now the woman with the cane; the family didn't think there could be much walking, can't you get a wheelchair, aren't there motorised options? Which bit of the ticket in bold print that says "NOT SUITABLE for those with walking impediments" do they not read!!!!!!! Suffice to say the group did NOT wait for her, don't care, over this and people that can't (won't) read advice (English was not an issue) or expect to be excluded from rules to the detriment of others. Rant over again.






From Pompeii on to Positano via Naples , Seiano and Sorrento along the windy Amalfi coast drive. Brilliant scenery and coastline along a hairy and narrow "highway", ending in a one way only road into Positano. The bus was only a small 20 seater and was the maximum length allowed on this road. Luigi certainly showed his skill here as often he tuned a hairpin with only a few centremetres either side. Great skill.
Into Positano and down the steps, walkway to the beach where we had lunch, veal in lemon sauce for me and tuna salad for Jane with local Amalfi Rose and white wine; lovely. Back up to the awaiting Luigi via some shops (this area well known for lemon product, especially lemoncillo) where a couple of purchases were made.





By now after 4pm so we headed straight back to Rome ( dropping Francesca back at Pompeii) via the coast road and then highway. Almost two hours in to the journey poor Luigi ran straight over a large plastic wheel arch dropped from the truck in front, no time to avoid ( I actually saw it all happen) and he had to pull over to check the damage. Back onto the bus without a word and then on to a rest stop at 60km for the next 15 minutes with Luigi seeming to make a couple of phone calls, police and autostrada seemed to be mentioned. You see now, Francesca was not on the bus, no one spoke Italian and Luigi ( mid to late 60's) didn't speak a drop of English. When we stopped the only damage appeared to be a missing front number plate? Through hand gestures, my VERY poor Italian (nil) I appeared to ascertain that we were waiting for the police as he was not allowed to drive the tour bus any further without reporting it to the police and them viewing the damage. About 10 minutes later Andrea turned up in the other bus and confirmed this was the case and about five minutes later the Autostrada turned up and they had his number plate with them, that they had collected on the way. Signed documents, much talking and gestures and we we on our way again, love Italian beuracracy, no wonder nothing gets done or finished.

We eventually got back to Rome about 8.30pm, a long day. Said goodbye to Luigi, lovely man, and walked back to the Ritz to drop off the days gear before walking to a place nearby for dinner. A different, but nice Radicchio and gorgonzola pizza with a carafe of Vino Bianco before stopping for the best gellato on the way back. Brilliant day but now almost midnight and time for this old boy to have a nap. Last night in Rome and Europe. :-(