Northern Iceland!

anna

Remember me telling you all about the sixty-five plus year old woman whose camper van we stayed in? Her name was Anna and she was such a lovely woman. She and her dog Shnorty (I know I’m mangling that spelling) live in a small town and host visitors every evening. Her front yard was twinkling with tea lights when we arrived and she showed us the amenities before leaving to great her final guests for the night as they arrived.

The van was comfortable and reminded me a lot of ours in New Zealand. The biggest difference being, we were told this one, “doesn’t move.” Just in case we wanted to get crazy in the middle of the night. So I got to experience once more the fun of climbing over Marc to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night and trying not to wipe out on the very slippery lader. There were tons of horses hanging out in the front yard, but the little stallion made sure no one got any love from me.

Didn’t take us long to get our stuff together and hit the road again. It also wasn’t long before we were stopping for another gorgeous waterfall. Got a nice little hike in through a well-worn sheep trail to get a little closer to the falls and traded taking pictures with some of the other folks.

waterfallWe continued to drive on through a landscape that became less and less green and more and more rocky. The mountains resolved into individual volcanos and the grass finally disappeared completely.

volcanos

It Looked Like This

Every so often, we would see little pools of toxic looking water either off in the distance or next to the side of the road. We kept going as we were starving. The potato chip supply began to dwindle. Our destination for the night was a homestay in the second largest town in Iceland, Akureyri. Before we got there though, we had to stop at a hot spring  everybody had been telling us about. Myvatn Nature Baths  are unique because there is a sandy bottom and the water itself is full of beneficial minerals that leaves your skin feeling silky smooth. The water stays at a comfortable 96 to 104 degrees and they warn you to take off any brass or silver before you enter as the water will literally turn them black during a visit. These pools were so amazing for lounging around in and people watching. The cafe was rather nice too and it meant we could lay off the chips for a while.

myvatn2

myvatn

Aftermath. Do we look relaxed, or what?

Marc had to drag me out so we could leave, but getting changed presented its own challenges. Although we had the option of renting towels, we decided to rough it. How do you dry off without one? Easy, after the shower… you use a hairdryer mostly all over and use paper towels for the delicate bits. Worked out pretty good actually and soon we were back in our seats and on the way to Akureyri.

Our hosts Paulina and Samuel showed us our room inside their beautiful home. Everywhere we looked art works were on display and it didn’t take long for us to find out Paulina and her husband (whom we didn’t get a chance to meet) were artists. I took many pictures inside their home.

paintings

I also took many outside their home as Akureyri had cool stuff to see everywhere we looked. Paulina’a husband we were told, teaches art in town and there was an art exhibit going on during our visit.

1917

Cute Little House. Not Our Homestay Though.

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The Door of Akureyrarkirkja. A Prominent Lutheran Church.

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Paper Mache Monster from the art show

Our breakfast was included the next morning and it was neat to experience what an Icelander might normally have for breakfast. Of course, I always bring our own tea, but otherwise, we did as the locals do and enjoyed soft-boiled eggs, cucumbers, red pepper, oranges and banana’s and granola. Marc  even got to try a little of the local yogurt.

breakfast

Satiated, we did a little more poking about before we had to take off again. Just as well since Akureyri had more tourists and simply more of a sheer mass of people everywhere than any other place besides Reykjavik. After seeing the wild and wide expanses of nothing from the safety of our little car, being shuffled along with throngs of people palled quickly. Besides, we had another homestay lined up in Dalabyggo to get to. Off again we went!

end

This is how you know you’re leaving town… if it isn’t already obvious.

 

 

 

 

 

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Iceland! The Reykjavik Experience!

ReykjavikLake

Tjornin: Icelandic for The Lake or The Pond

Wow! Has it been a whole year since I’ve gone on vacation? It sure felt like it. Especially the last few weeks leading up to our departure. Marc had set a goal of one new country a year and when I heard that you can fly to Iceland in about the same time it takes to get to the west coast, I was in!

Our flight was relatively easy although the cabin itself was freezing! Marc was kind enough to jump up to snag my coat from my carry on shortly before we departed, only to get yelled at by the crew. ” I’m sorry, it’s my fault! ” I yelled loudly to defend him , ” I thought I would only be cold once we got there!” That seemed to defuse the situation and I wore that coat half the way there. I think WOW airlines likes to acclimate people to their destination as on the way home, it was really warm.

We landed in Keflavik at about 6 am on Sunday morning to a surreal world of rain and foggy mist hanging in the air. The time change is just four hours ahead of the East coast, but when you leave at seven pm, you kind of miss a nights sleep. This probably contributed a bit to the alienness we experienced our first day there.

We drove about 45 minutes to get to Reykjavik through a green and gray landscape of rocks and moss with the occasional  seagull flying by. I think we passed one small town, but it was almost a ‘blink and you missed it’ kind of deal. We were more entranced with the radio and seeing what Icelanders are listening to. Turns out they are big into 90’s nostalgia and I know I heard a Brittney Spears song followed by a reworked version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. Heavy metal style!

Once we found our digs for the night, we parked the car and started exploring. At 7 a.m., not much is open yet, but we found the Einar Johnsson grounds open to the elements and to visitors. He was Iceland’s first sculptor and died in 1954, at which time his home and grounds were turned into a museum and sculpture garden. His work is very powerful and found in several parts of Iceland. Neat to see the rain on the sculptures too!

InarJohnssonStatue

We had heard that Iceland is big on pastries and breads and it didn’t take us too long to find a good spot for breakfast. The  cinnamon roll was fabulous and it was so neat to hear the polyglot of languages swirling around us as we savored  our meal.

Pastries

The rest of the day was broken up by short naps; stolen wherever  and whenever we could, a trip out to a lighthouse, hunting for a natural hot spring that someone had pointed out to Marc on a map (found it too, but it was more for feet than anything else), and soaking in a nearby spa that was recommended to us as a good place to meet locals. They had much to say about immigration and tourism, not all of it positive, but it was good to get some different perspectives, and to ride a water slide again! A great way to wind down after a crazy first day.

Marc.Lighthouse1

Grotta Lighthouse in Reykjavik

Our second day in Reykjavik was cool and sunny. After an early morning cup of tea,  and an apple, we went out to do some more exploring around town. Iceland has about 320,000 people and 200 thousand of those live here in Reykjavik. We headed up the hill and turned in at the sculpture garden again to get a different perspective in the sunshine.

Sculp2

As we were strolling the grounds, we started chatting with a young woman enjoying the sunshine. Birna was sitting on the grass enjoying a cigarette and, as she told us later, waiting for her class to start. We all sat in the sun, warm enough to take our jackets off and   have a cross cultural experience with this cool artist! She’s a painter and does the most beautiful tatted lace. We also talked about the music scene and she showed us a music video of one on her friends. Olafur Analds featuring her friend Nanna Byndisilmards. The song is called Particles.

Birna

Birna showed us a couple of her favorite streets on the way to a coffee shop close to her class. We parted in  brightly lit square after sipping tea and being harassed by a some opportunistic bees.

We continued down to the waterfront, and found the spiffy cool sculpture honoring the Vikings.

VikingShip.jpg

Solfar (Sun Voyager) Sculpture

As we continued to walk the streets, we got a sense of how accessible and sensibly laid out everything is and that you can pretty much walk everywhere you want to go if you have several hours available. We got to Harpa for a neat little four wall and a ceiling nature movie experience before turning inward again towards our hotel. That’s when we found the coolest little gem of a cemetery. Hollavallagardur  is the oldest cemetery in Reykjavik and was opened in 1838. Amazing to walk through the narrow, lanes between graves green with moss and age.  Mature trees sometimes growing directly  above.

We found embassy row and a nice park by the lake, and more amazing art work.

Wall3.jpg

Do you see stealth Marc in his Elven cloak of hiding?

There was some relaxing back at the hotel before we went out for dinner. The lateness of the sunset meant that we could go have dinner, and then head to a prime viewing spot. The summit of the little park boasts a sculpture of the first settler to Iceland, Ingolfur Arnarson. Who did the statue? Einar Jonsson. Of course. A great way to end the day.

Sunset1

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Gorgeous, Isn’t it?

Favorite Places to Eat

Marc took me to some of his previously loved restaurants and we also found some new ones to love together. Some of the best were:
Gorgonzola: With great pizzas and enack ( tasty) Italian food how could we go wrong? The setting is lush and low with comfortable coaches and standard tables as well. The owner Gibson is a really gracious host and with live entertainment of Saturday night, it’s easy to stick around for one more daiquiri or Bahama Mama.

Lucy & Agus Entertain

Lucy & Agus Entertain

With Gibson

With Gibson

Puti Intan is a halal place just down the street from Nirmala. Most every time we come, Dani is behind the counter cooking something or serving guests. The food there was awesome, if a tad spicy.

Can you see all the food on the shelves behind Dani?

Can you see all the food on the shelves behind Dani?

Our Usual. Left Plate:Fried Chicken, Tamerind Beef, Casava Leaves and Rice with Sauce. Marc's: Fried Chicken, Crispy Beef, Fried Omlet and Rice with Sauce and Sambal (spicy tomato sauce)

Our Usual. Left Plate:Fried Chicken, Tamerind Beef, Casava Leaves and Rice with Sauce. Marc’s: Fried Chicken, Crispy Beef, Fried Omlet and Rice with Sauce and Sambal (spicy tomato sauce)

The most romantic place we went was Jimbaran Beach @ sunset. The seafood restaurants line the beach and tables stretch halfway or more to the surf.  Watch the sun go down before ordering.The prawns are to die for, and the red snapper, octopus and clams are all pretty good as well. Wash it all down with some Bintang besars, and it’s all good.

Jimbaran SunsetPlay

JimbaranBeachSunset2

Jimbaran Prawns & Clams with Balinese Sauce, Rice, Spinach and Bintangs

Jimbaran Prawns & Clams with Balinese Sauce, Rice, Spinach and Bintangs

Coconut Smoke in the Sky at Jimbaran Beach

Coconut Smoke in the Sky at Jimbaran Beach

We also tried GaRaSe many times for breakfast, lunch and occasionally dinner. Breakfasts were funny. I don’t think we ever got our toast with the meal. It always came when you’ve just finished the eggs and was usually only “warmed”.

Flower in the back courtyard @ GaRaSi

Flower in the back courtyard @ GaRaSi

We went to the Kopi Pot in Kuta a couple of times. Their tea is awesome. Nice when you can score a bale too.

KopiBalet

Also went to Mama’s; a German Restaurant in Kuta that Marc remembers from ten years ago. They are famous for their ham hocks. Their pork scalopine wasn’t bad either.

Looking down onto Legion Street

Looking down onto Legion Street

MamasHam

Right, so before I go, a little menu fun. Sometimes they try so hard…

MenuFun

MenuFun2

And, one ettiquete lesson for folks using Western bathrooms.

ToiletSign

Last one for Bali is the paragliding post. Stay tuned for updates!

Paragliding, Monkeys and Sunset at Dreamland Beach

Food Hall Cooks

Food Hall Cooks Near Timbus. The Food is Great and their fried chicken is to die for!

So some pretty good things have been happening here in Bali recently.  The weather has gotten a little better (thank the gods), but we’re still getting frequent rain storms. The wind continues to try and dissuade the para-gliders from taking off but with perseverance and a second flying site to launch from, Marc has been able to fly more in the last week and a half then the whole time we’ve been here. It means I get to hang out at Gunung Payung a lot and swing in my hammock when I’m not taking pictures of the guys flying or going for a hike through the cow pastures.

Such a life.

Such a life.

MarcFlyGrnGP2

Marc Flying His Green Nivuk2

MarcFlyGrnGP

You meet people from all over the world out here.  The folks that come for a tandem, the wives and girlfriends of the pilots, occasionally a few kids running around. It’s a festive atmosphere made more amusing by the drink and snack folks that fall all over themselves to be the first to sell you a beer, a coke, a snack. Usually at a four hundred percent markup.  Then there are the locals that help to fold up the wings or help you launch.  I’ve seen more than one launch that ended up back in the trees.  Well, it was windy that day.*LOL*

Reky, one of the members of the Indonesian Paragliding Team. He also does tandems.

Reky, one of the members of the Indonesian Paragliding Team. He also does tandems.

GirlPlay1

Playing Can’t Catch Me

Girlplay2I have met a few female pilots but so far it seems to be a mostly male dominated sport. At least, that’s been my observation. One of the people Marc met the other day was a guy from Nepal. I think he has a paragliding shop there and teaches as well. He let Marc try out his new Nivuk3 wing.

Ready to launch!

Ready to launch!

Marc flies the red Nivuk3. Yes, it really is better.

Marc flies the red Nivuk3. Yes, it really is better.

I have a feeling he might be thinking about a trip to Nepal sometime in the future. I told him to bring me back something nice… if he doesn’t bring me. *Lol* Oh, speaking about the people you meet, Marc got to meet up with his friend Kim from Norway. Evidently Kim heard he was here and had some vacation time coming so he came to Bali to visit friends. He stopped by one night with a nice little bottle of Whiskey and with some good music and Bintang’s, they got to catch up a bit and I got introduced. Nice guy, is Kim.

MarcnKim

On another note, I finally got to see some monkeys! We stopped at Bali Cliff one day and there they were. A whole troupe of  Balinese long tailed Macaques! We were totally unprepared and they were not impressed by that. Of course, after Marc came back with some food their attitude changed in a hurry! The big male leader actually stole a bag of nuts right off the bike and gobbled them down in a minute. After that, Marc would distract him and throw him treats one at a time while I threw snacks to the others. Especially the momma with the baby. They wouldn’t go near him. Looked like they were all afraid of him. He’d stand his ground too. The foot stomp didn’t even make him blink.

That big boy had no fear

That big boy had no fear

Grooming Behaviour

Grooming Behavior

MonMombaby

I have an even better monkey story to tell you all about, but that will have to wait till next time. Other things we’ve done that are on this “roll of film” are the sunset we finally got to see at Dreamland Beach. Can you believe in five weeks or so, this is the best and near only nice one we’ve seen? Ya, I told you the weather has been weird.

Sunset @ Dreamland Beach

Sunset @ Dreamland Beach

Sunset Surfers

Sunset Surfers

Oh, and we did get to Jimbaran Beach again for prawns and Red Snapper in Balinese sauce. OMG is it good! So good and we were so hungry we just dove right in and by the time I thought to take a picture my hands were really messy and they don’t really believe in napkins here so I couldn’t take a picture. Next time, ok? I did take a picture though of the wandering musicians who serenade the tables at dinner time. Marc said they must know at least one song in twenty odd languages and they knew plenty of English songs. They are awesome! Next time, I’m going to ask for some Elvis.

JimbaranBand

Next time I promise I will tell you all about my monkey story and the beach and everything else on this next roll of film, ok? Y’all take care!

Swimming Pools & Movie Stars

FlamingoSnail

Been a while since I’ve written, hasn’t it? Sorry for the delay, but Marc took me on a bit of a fantasy trip here in Bali and it’s taken me a while to come back down to earth. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

Carascooter

It started off innocently enough with scooter driving lessons. I’d been wanting to learn for a while and he was kind enough to rent me a “twist and go” and teach me how to drive it. We went to a quiet neighborhood the first few days and he set up and obstacle course and had me going up and down hills and doing figure eights too.  A couple of local women and their child came to watch the fun. Probably waiting for a crash and burn but very supportive at the same time.They’d give me big smiles and thumbs up as I’d come past. I did lay the bike down several times but it was old and what’s one more scratch, eh?

SupportCrew

After being deemed ready for the roads, we loaded up the bikes and moved digs to the  Flamingo Dewata Villas. Marc had worked out a deal with Eka for the honeymoon suite (DON’T get any ideas folks) for three days and we made ourselves right at home. What a beautiful place! Private pool & patio, incredibly comfortable bed, huge jaCUzzi tub and a view that reached all the way to the ocean (Indian Ocean or Bali Sea, not really sure). We did have some rain, but some sun as well and we really enjoyed our stay there. Breakfast was included every morning so we’d just go out for lunch or dinner or to get a massage. Our biggest surprise was returning to the property the second day to find a film crew shooting on the grounds! Even better, we got to meet an up and coming new Indonesian movie star named Marcell Darwin. He was very nice and so handsome. I think I went a little crazy. My heart was beating so fast.*laughs*. If you would like a great place to stay at a reasonable price, I highly recommend them.

Private Pool in the Honeymoon Suite

Private Pool in the Honeymoon Suite

jaCUzzi!

jaCUzzi!

Me and Marcell Darwin

Me and Marcell Darwin

Next stop was a night in Kuta so we could hit the nightclubs. We checked into the Bendesa Hotel and went souvenir shopping during the day and I finally got a chance to mail the postcards I wrote the first week here. Didn’t leave enough room for the stamps though so it should be a challenge for the recipients. Have fun guys!

Bendesa Hotel in Kuta

Bendesa Hotel in Kuta

They really like sparkly things there

They really like sparkly things there

Anyway, that night we got dressed up, walked down Legian street and were bule gila’s (crazy foreigners). Bounty was rocking for a Wednesday night and we got large sugary cocktails  and bounced around with huge smiles when we weren’t totally captivated by the way cool  house dancers employed by the club. They were easy to spot; all dressed in white pants with checkered shirts and white Panamas and fluid as silk in the wind.

This is inside a small bit of Bounty Disqoteche

This is inside a small bit of Bounty Discotheque

The rain had started by then but it cooled us down on our way to Apache Club. What a difference. Instead of pounding house music, the theme here is Reggae and the crowd tends to be a bit older. There was a rocking live band playing in front of a shrine to Bob Marley, and two for one drink specials. Evidently, vodka can be mixed with just about anything. The rain really began to pound and it was funny to feel the drops on the dance floor.

ApacheWalking back to the hotel was an experience all it’s own. Legian was jammed with “taksi’s” all looking for fares and Marc must have been offered  most of the illegal  and some of the legal substances available to the young and foolish. Who needs that though when there was Tugu to look forward to?

Mushrooms

We spent three days and two night at Hotel Tugu Bali and it was heavenly! From the moment the car picked us up, any worries receded like an outgoing tide. Indeed, our only major decisions were sitting by the pool or the beach, what do I want to eat and where should we have dinner? We both got fifteen minute massages on arrival and I was handed a beautifully woven fan with frangipani blooms inserted in the folds.

TuguBed

The attention to detail is amazing here. From the accents included with our meals to the poem left on our turned down coverlet each night, we were totally spoiled.

SleepPoem

I believe I’ve told you before about Tugu? The hotel is filled with antiques and they have an awesome pool. You should see their rooms. A king size hand carved canopy bed dominated the bedroom and the private porch featured a hammered sunken tub and more antiques as well as a massage table.

TuguTub

The bath foam smelled delicious and I wanted to take the shampoo and conditioner home with me. I couldn’t though because Tugu is a green hotel committed to reducing waste thus all the soaps are wrapped in paper and the toiletry bottles are earthen and refilled daily.Gotta commend them for that. I did a little shopping in their antique shop while I was there and picked up a new sarong. It’s absolutely gorgeous and made of silk. Can’t wait to show that off back home. When we left, the staff presented us with souvenir fans and a basket containing bottles of water and small fruits for our ride back to reality. They were so nice. Can you tell I want to go back?

A private cooking class @ Tugu

A private cooking class @ Tugu

TuguDinner

In the Balle Puputan room for a private dinner of roast suckling pig.

Tugu employees weaving the accent pieces found throughout the grounds.

Tugu employees weaving the accent pieces found throughout the hotel

Lunch @ Tugu.

Lunch @ Tugu.

Bembek Betutu for dinner.

Bembek Betutu for dinner. This is a dish traditionally made by Balinese women for religious festivals. The ducks are stuffed and marinated with a variety of island herbs and spices before being wrapped in Banana leaves and slow roasted for at least twelve hours. Served with rice, pork cracklings and roasted Balinese peanuts. Better eaten with the fingers as we were to discover. Delicious!

Marc in the pool

Marc in the pool

Antique door leading to a spa room

Antique door leading to a spa room

Isn't it beautiful? This is another part of the spa.

Isn’t it beautiful? This is another part of the spa.

So, you may ask at this point “But Cara, what happened to the scooter?” Am I still driving it? Well… no actually. I did have an accident coming back from dinner while we were staying at The Flamingo.  Nothing too serious. I did donate some skin to the pavement, jolted my right shoulder and put a pretty good bruise on my right thigh. It was actually all my fault really. I was following Marc home from dinner and not paying enough attention to my surroundings. He turned right across traffic (they drive on the left here) into a supermarket parking lot and I was following him when I realized that someone was coming up on me fast from the other direction. In trying to stop quickly I turned the wheel too sharply and laid the bike down right across their path. Out of nowhere thirty Indonesians come running and before I knew it they had gotten me and the bike up and off the road. So, no one was hurt although I did get quite the scare.I think the guy I turned in front of did too. I did drive it a bit more after that but we took taksis  for our longer trips and we decided I’m safer on the back of Marc’s bike.

I won't include a recreation of the accident. Instead, please enjoy this pictures of blossoms.

I won’t include a recreation of the accident. Instead, please enjoy this pictures of blossoms.

So, that’s my story. Pretty cool, eh? Time keeps slipping forward now and I have to finish this up so I can get to my next post. There’s just so much still to say. Love you guys and we’ll be back now before you know it.

Baby Gecko

Baby Gecko

First Week in Bali!

Translation:Welcome to Bali!

Translation:Welcome to Bali!

The first week in Bali has gone so quickly i almost don’t believe it. It’s been fun so far, but not without challenges. One of which was discovering the warung we thought we’d stay at was no longer there after Marc called his friend Nyoman. Fortunately, the second choice was still operating and after checking out the rooms and some negotiation we settled into a nice second floor suite with our own bathroom and a great lanai for lounging. We even have hot water for the shower. What a luxury!

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Marc and Nyoman renewed old acquaintances in person the next day before negotiating rental on a motorbike. We now ride in style on a Honda 125. Marc is very good at keeping us alive as people here are crazy on the streets. Heavy traffic is the norm, cars and buses park on the street and bikes weave through the throngs and over sidewalks fearlessly. Whole families will pile on one bike. I think the max I’ve seen so far is four adults. Few people wear helmets except the bule (foreigners).  Air pollution is terrible and we’ve invested in hospital masks early on in an effort to save our lungs.

They piled on and then rode off.

They piled on and then rode off.

Our first week has been a bit of reminiscence for Marc although he’s also been astonished by how much things have changed. One of our first stops was Puri Gading where he pointed out the house he used to live in. We’ve also been out to Timbus several times where all the para-gliders fly. The first time to just check it out and see who was there. The other times with his wing to fly. It was pretty neat for him to see guys that were students wen he left and now they compete internationally for the  Indonesian paragliding team. Unfortunately, the guys say the  weather has been really strange for about six weeks now with cross winds and rain. Evidently it usually never rains between April and December. I’ve already seen two rain storms in the week we’ve been here. There’s been a lot of para waiting and he hasn’t flown yet. At least we still have time. We both felt bad for a group of Korean para-gliders we met there who came out for a five day holiday and didn’t get to fly once. A few of them did take us up on our offer to fly our one meter kite though so at least they can say they flew something here.

Parawaiting

Para-waiting

Some of the Korean Paragliders

Some of the Korean Para-gliders

Nyang Nyang has been a beautiful place to visit. An elaborate open pavilion leads to some stone temples and statues in a garden setting. The pathway winds  around to the pool and tables set up under a long thatched roof beside a cliff that drops dramatically to the ocean. We came back here the night of the super moon to watch the show. A small bribe/ gift to the guard allowed us entry. It was a fabulous night. Just us, the frogs, surf pounding below, the super moon above and an ant marching around in my bra. I did finally manage to squash that sucker though.

Super Moon!

Super Moon!

We’ve also been to Jimbaran beach where I first got to stick my toes in the ocean. The water is deliciously warm and inviting. During the day you can see fishing boats bobbing in the beautiful aquamarine water. At night, the days catch is served up from a myriad of restaurants that line the beach. The tables extend almost into the surf and little lanterns on the tables lend a romantic glow. Smoke from the coconut shells used to cook the dishes wafts aromatically through the air and mingles with the incense from frequent offerings to the Gods. The prawns were incredibly tasty ad we were highly entertained by the encroaching surf and kids playing at the waters edge.

Bali2

Jimbaran Beach

Jimbaran Beach @ Night

Jimbaran Beach @ Night

As it’s been so hot here. we’ve spent the day poolside at a couple of places. Blue Point was pretty nice although we were disappointed we couldn’t use the infinity pool that day as it was reserved for a wedding party. The upper pool was still quite nice though. We’ll definitely be going back there. I want some pictures in the infinity pool.

Blue Point @ Dusk

Blue Point @ Dusk

The other spot was in Canggu and is called the Hotel Tugu. Oh man is this place gorgeous! No pool charge here and the place is  filled with the owners collection of antiques from Indonesia and China. We checked out a couple of rooms that were to die for and I could probably die happy in the spa. The grounds are immaculate and the pool was refreshing and surprisingly cooler that the ocean. There’s a ton of umbrellas and shade palms too to hide from the sun. The menu was amazing and Marc had this Dutch overseers  platter that had something like thirteen things on it.  I ordered less but still, neither one of us could finish. The heat diminishes our appetites.

Sleeping Garuda @ Tugu. Named by the owner because when he found it, it was lying on it's back.

Sleeping Garuda @ Tugu. Named by the owner because when he found it, it was lying on it’s back.

A quiet spot in the pool at Tugu

A quiet spot in the pool at Tugu

Wow!

Wow!

The food here is good and available from street vendor pushcart, to little road side restaurants to fine dining establishments. We’ve learned though to negotiate before being served to avoid being overcharged. Chicken/ ayem is very tasty here as it’s all free range. The only ones I’ve seen in cages are valued roosters used in cock fighting. Juices are fresh squeezed but unless you tell them not to; they put sugar in everything.

Street vendor. His satay was great but he overcharged the bules/ foreigners so we won't be back.

Street vendor. His satay was great but he overcharged the bules/ foreigners so we won’t be back.

Breakfast @ Warung Warung

Breakfast @ Warung Warung

To finish up our first week here we went to the Mal Bali Galeria for a movie. This mall has everything, including a Nine West and an Ace Hardware. We watched WWZ  with Brad Pitt and it was so exciting it took a while to calm my heart rate down afterwards. Still not easy to figure out which bike is ours from the hundreds parked in the lot but we are getting quicker at it.

After he found our bike!

He’s smiling because we found the bike.

I could go on and tell you more about this fascinating place but I think I will wait and give everyone something to look forward to. To my family and friends; we miss you guys and are looking forward to a happy reunion. To all of my followers on here; thanks all for your support and hope you like the post. Bye!

Fish therapy at an Apotek/ Pharmacy. It's only really wierd the first few minutes.

Fish therapy at an Apotek/ Pharmacy. It’s only really weird the first few minutes.

More On The Return To Auckland

Dr Suess Tree

Dr Suess Tree

Time seems to have sped up lately as we continue to get closer to our leave date for Bali. As I write this, its June 16th here and we leave on the 19th at an ungodly early hour. We sold the camper van last week and it went smooth as silk. I think we both kept thinking it was going far too easily, but I’m not going to question it anymore. We’re both feeling it’s loss, but I think at this point that’s just compounded by last get togethers with friends here as well. Luckily, we will be coming back for ten days or so after Bali so there is still that to look forward to. I’m going to try to fill y’all in on the rest of the trip back to Auckland before we go. Lets see how far I can get today.

He Climbed All The Way To The Top

He Climbed All The Way To The Top

After looking in the Cook book, Marc drove to Deliverance Cove and Castle Point. On the map, it’s located straight east of Masterton on the coast. This is where we each got a free dermabrasion treatment courtesy of the wind  that intensified during our tramp up Castle Rock. I stuck to the trail, but Marc was more adventurous and struck out for the top of the rock. He made it too and got some scary pictures over the side. Once he returned, we fought our way over to the lighthouse. The wind was fierce by that time and we had to literally  hold onto the fence to keep from being blown to Africa! Great views though and in the lee it was awesome to see the wind literally lifting the sea and blowing it into little water spouts. Very cool.

Over The Edge. View From The Top of Castle Rock

Over The Edge. View From The Top of Castle Rock

Deliverance Cove next to Castle Rock

Deliverance Cove next to Castle Rock

Made It!

Made It!

Stopped by a graveyard while we were killing time looking for a place to camp for the night. *Face Palm*Groan* We’ve done that several times to check out the stones and read the dates. It was a very peaceful place with beautiful old graves  on the side of the mountain with only one opportunistic horse for a neigh…bor. All animals in this country have me pegged as an easy mark. I gave this one our last carrot.

Hey! How Ya Going?

Hey! How Ya Going?

Childsgrave2

Childsgrave

I LIke The Sentiment

I LIke The Sentiment

We kept heading north and our next scenic spot was Waihi Falls in Tararua. A long drive down a metal road ended with a short tramp along  a ridge to get to the falls. It was stunning! Even more amazing, we were the only ones there! If we’d had more time and it had been warmer, this would have definitely been a place to go for a skinny dip and  overnight.

WaihiFallsCara.e

WaihiFallsMarc

Don't You Want To Go For A Swim?

Don’t You Want To Go For A Swim?

The next spot was just a stop for a quick photo and some lunch. Taumatawhakatangihangakauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukopokaiwhenuakitanatahu holds the record for the longest place-name in the world. The name has something to do with a Maori chief grieving for the loss of his brother after they fought to get through the area.

Try and say it. I dare you.

Try and say it. I dare you.

Sometimes, even our camp sites were way scenic. On the way to Napier, we stayed at an apple orchard. Dick, the owner took me around and showed me NZ Splendor apples which can’t be bought in stores because they bruise too easily during shipping. Boy, were they good. An emigrant from the Netherlands, he  was such a nice, salt of the earth  guy. He showed me what a sugar core looks like in an apple. This is when liquid sugar collects in the center of an apple. Makes it that much sweeter.

Dick Eating Apples

Dick Eating Apples

A Little Fall Colour

A Little Fall Colour

I had been wanting to check out Napier since first hearing about all the art deco buildings there. You see, there was an earthquake in Napier in 1931 that basically destroyed most of the city. Art Deco was popular at the time and as a result the city was rebuilt in that style. We spent one full day and part of the next wandering about town looking at all the buildings and enjoying the ambiance. Dinner that night was fabulous too. If you’re ever in Napier I highly recommend  Milk and Honey.

Napier1

Napier3

I Got Some Great Vintage Patterns From Penelope at Charleston Chic

I Got Some Great Vintage Patterns From Penelope at Charleston Chic

Pania of The Reef

Pania of The Reef

NapierFountain

You Should See The Glass Dome Inside

You Should See The Glass Dome Inside

I think I’m going to end this post here today as our focus shifted after Napier. We headed for Taupo and Rotorua for the geothermal action next so that’s where I will start the next post. All, hot and steamy as it were. In the meantime, hope you enjoyed the pictures and hope the weather is not as rainy wherever you are  as it is here today. Cheers!