Wednesday, November 29, 2006

There's no place like home...

Whew! As most of you know, I've been back in Sydney since July. Given it's now November, that means it's taken me about 4 months to get the trip posts all up here...

I'll have lots of Sydney adventures posted soon too - I've still been having heaps of fun since I got back here. There's also parts of my trip which may not have made it to the blog... So those will be coming up too from time to time!

"Aloha" - Surfers Crossing

Crossing near Sunset Beach

Hawaii. The perfect place to finish an around the world trip. Also conveniently located as the natural last stop on my itinerary therefore it made perfect sense to stopover rather than doing the long flight from Canada direct. We got into Honolulu at about 11pm on the 4th of July, pity we seem to have missed most of the festivities though.

Another thing I loved about Hawaii was all of the beautiful flowers

From the moment the airport bus guy threw our bags onto the bus, we could tell that Hawaii was going to be a bit more laid back than most of the places we'd been. You could see families on their relaxing holiday wandering around Waikiki with matching Hawaiian shirts for father and son, wondering whether they would ever wear them again when they got home... Everything just seemed to happen on "Hawaii time", a far cry from the hustle and bustle of cities like New York, London, Istanbul or Moscow. But perhaps that was just what I needed.

Left: Here I am on Sunset Beach, Right: Surfboards on Waikiki Beach

We had a great couple of days in Hawaii... I was at the stage of the trip where I was happy just to relax, do a bit of sightseeing but nothing too adventurous. Hawaii is a fantastic place for that kind of holiday... Some nice hot weather before hitting the cold winter in Australia, a chance to relax on the beach (after to getting to a place with the best beaches since leaving Australia) with a good book, and having a nice swim, enjoying the sunset and the first time I've been on an island out in the middle of the Pacific.

Left: Sunset Beach, Right: Waikiki Beach

As is often the case with me, someone who doesn't relax well, we did do a little adventuring. One day we caught the bus all the way around the island of Oahu, stopping off for a break at Sunset Beach on the northern side of the island (I will say the hamburger and chips we got there felt more like a takeaway on the beach in Australia than any of the places in Honolulu or Waikiki) . Another day we took a trip to the beautiful Hanauma Bay near Honolulu - a protected bay famous for its snorkelling. I hired a snorkel and had a go myself, and got to see some beautiful coloured fish. That afternoon, we also visited Diamond Head, a volcanic crater overlooking Waikiki. I did the climb to the top, which included climbing stairs through claustrophobic tunnels, and the view at the top rewarded me with views all over the area. It was fantastic.

Inside the crater on Diamond Head (Left) and the view from the top over Waikiki

The other day? Relaxing down at Waikiki with a good book!

Above: Waikiki beach
Below: Hanauma Bay

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Vegging in Vancouver

Our last Canadian port of call was Vancouver, when after 7 months of travelling around, I finally saw the Pacific Ocean again.

Left: A spectacular flight over the Rockies, Right: Vancouver Skyline from Stanley Park
After a spectacular flight from Calgary over the Rockies, we landed in Vancouver, a city of about 2 million people in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Vancouver lies on a short width of land between the mountains and the ocean - it's fairly spectacularly located. I really loved the city, a great mix of outdoors, cosmopolitan shopping and dining, and culture.

Above: Canada Place
Below: Fish market at Lonsdale Quay and some beautiful flowers in Stanley Park

While in Vancouver, we spent some time wandering around the fantastic Stanley Park. There is a bus that during summer travels around the full circuit of the park (it's a fairly large park!) It was a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed the sights, from the raccoons to the flowers to the great skyline views of Vancouver city.

Left: A raccoon out in Stanley Park, Right: The Lion's Head Bridge

I also managed to fit in a spot of shopping on Robson Street, wandered around Canada Place, and got to ride the funky Skytrain. We also wandered down through Gastown, and watched one of the World Cup matches from one of the Gastown breweries. I really enjoyed Vancouver - it had such a great atmosphere, a really great place to be.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Bavarian Wedding in Canada

Table decorations, and Right: Greg and Andrea cut the cake
My brother Greg got married last December in Bavaria - complete with Lederhosen, and his wife Andrea in a Dirndl. Because Greg is Australian, Andrea is Canadian, and they were living in Germany, they had three wedding celebrations. Firstly in Munich, secondly in Sydney (unfortunately I was away in London at the time) and then lastly in Canada, in Andrea's hometown of Edmonton. Mum and I stopped into Edmonton for some time and got to meet many of the McLeods.

Left: Greg with Mum, and Right: Andrea's sister Shirley makes a speech for the couple
It was a beautiful sunny day, and was much enjoyed by all. We felt very welcome and it was great to meet so many new people, including all of Andrea's immediate family.

The McLeods also have a beautiful puppy, Koda, a black Labrador. A mischievous and friendly puppy, Koda liked to be part of the action.