Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Nov. 25, 2016 - THE FINAL DAY- back to Canada, My flight, and Final Thanks

I decided to walk to the train but it was further than I was told. An old man, owner of the construction site was laughing at all my luggage and next thing I know he's driving me. Nice man but the last thing he said was he would have voted for Trump. And we’re done!

Everyone was so nice. Met a lovely businessman who laughed all the time. We both got carded with our passports...we both must look like trouble. Met a 20 something traveller dude and another older one. Such a delightful 3 hr wait. Then all hell broke loose. I booked my Air Canada flight months ago and they delayed my flight. I had pre-chosen the aisle in the summer so when I got to my seat there was a sullen woman my age from Australia who did not speak English well and refused to get out of my seat. Kept pointing to the man in front of her and mumbling that it was my seat. "No I don't think so." We kept this up for a bit until all the passengers were listening. Finally the sweet attendant kicked her over one and the ugly started. Decided to throw caution to the wind and have some free wine. You know me and free anything.  All three of us have full trays and full drinks and she looks at me and says, “get up, I need go bathroom.”  Now I have no idea how to get out of my sardine seat with a full tray and three drinks but too bad..."NOW!" then she dumps her full tray on the other surprised passenger and told her she had to fill out her Entry to Canada forms because she had problems with English and no, it has to be done now, not in the next 16 hours of confinement. Bless that other woman with her patience when I was just wanting to punch and spit nails.  

So I've just decided to drink for the whole trip and someone can pour me into an UBER when I arrive. Back of the plane is the place to hang. All you can drink but no doubles. Met the  mayor of a town in Michigan who is now terrified for the state of the US and another woman politician's Aide who is freakin’. I've been gone a month...what am I returning to….is the wall built yet?

It was indeed a long, long night but I got a surprisingly fair amount of sleep even with the Angry Woman leaning onto my side and taking all my arm space with her winter coat that smells like moth balls for 16 hours. Ate lots and arrived late, so late that the plane was boarding in Vancouver on the other side of the terminal and I had to go thru security for the 100th time. I ran like the wind and made it with 10 minutes to spare. Sorry, too late! I complained and she looked at me and said, we will put you on another flight that now stops in Toronto and arrives 1 1/2 hours later. "First world problems dear" she tells me. I punched her in the snout, in my mind, and she smiled sweetly and said, "and here's your meal vouchers since you just told me you are hungry." wink wink. I wanted to be furious but it was something free. My defenses were down. Don't judge me for being weak. As it was, I barely made the replacement flight, until they delayed it too. What is with Air Canada? All the other flights down under announced the late comers forever on the PA and waited for them. AC, you are 10 minutes early, too bad. You are on time, too bad. Anyway, the flight was fine, used my food voucher that no one else got even tho they were all bumped too. I even asked for another aisle and OMG I got the bulkhead near a bathroom with about the space of 5 seats. Paydirt!
The view from the plane in Vancouver. Yahoo- Canadian mountains. Canada- I love you. I miss you. I won't ever leave you again... well, until the next time.

Over the course of 2 1/2 days of travel, I watched 4 movies: Bad Moms, BFG, Absolutely Fabulous and Central Intelligence. Arrived, luggage was almost first off, caught the bus with two minutes to spare and got a ride home the final bit.

This final portion of the trip had me take four flights, four buses, four trains, and then I was home. I came through the front door and froze. I thought someone had decorated my house for Christmas. I forgot my house was red and it was the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. I was home to have a huge bubble bath- I miss her so much.

Many thanks to the people who watched over my house: Albert, Yagu, Lenford, Jessica, and Linda.
So many thanks to Yagu for helping me with posting the blog from afar and another unnamed person for putting my life in danger with her driving skills (see, I told you Yagu I would be anonymous for this on my blog), daughter Christelle for planning every minute of Australia, Costa Rica angel and friend Beth for giving me the courage to get started in NZ and Christina and Barbara from Germany for dragging my carcass to all the fun destinations.

I've learned so much about myself from this trip which I will promptly forget and do again in a year. I never learn. You know the whole reason why I went to Australia... to see the Great Barrier Reef? Well, I have one small regret. I should have taken the largest boat around that was suggested to me but it was too expensive for both of us. It would have been stable and very fast. I would have arrived raring to go. Look at my dive book picture. 24 dives. I suspect that when Daughter #1 returns to Australia, I will visit and maybe reattempt the final 25th dive and it will be perfect....but this is not number one on the bucket list anymore.
I've been driving in Canada and thankfully the car is on autopilot so it knows what lane to drive in but if I think about it, I second guess my car's decision and have no idea if I'm in the proper lane or not. Scary. Imagine if I had been driving in Australia for 3 weeks and my habit was set.

I just might start stocking mini bottles of wine like on the plane. See there is value in every vice on vacation.

When I left, the leaves were falling on Halloween.  Now everything is covered in snow and all that is left are 5 different kinds of apples on my bare naked tree.  Pretty cool eh?   Maybe I should make ice wine. Unfortunately, the mice found my apple stash in the garage and they have been going to town.  
This winter, I expect to see 400 pound Sumo Mice setting up lodging in the garage.  It won't be pretty.

My travel planner comes home today after her brief trip overseas and ironically, on the last day of my blog post.  Great timing.  Have I got pictures to share.

BUT THIS IS THE ICING ON THE CAKE  Putting Australia and New Zealand pins on my wall map.  Sweet!

Hmmm, I didn't see any on Africa or S. America. Now what am I going to do about that?! 

Thanks for following me.  See you at Santa's second home...Spoiled Rotten B&B, for Christmas.
The End

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nov. 24 - NZ to AUSTRALIA- Almost Home

About a week and a half ago, daughter set up the fitness app on my phone so it keeps track of all my exercise. There are a few days the phone was flipping out of my hand with happiness but generally I just reached the maximum and it reminds me to get off my ass. Must figure out how to uninstall it.
Catching the flight to Sydney today. I really wished I would have planned this better and flown into Sydney and out of Auckland which will be even shorter. I could  do changes to the Sydney flight but I forgot I booked two separate flights to get to and from Auckland so the penalties would have been outrageous. Oh well it's just money right?

Can't wait to get home, clean my house, and decorate.

So the lovely Airbnb host pimped out her daughter's car to drive me to the airport but as I paid for her gas and got my luggage from her trunk, it suddenly closed on my skull and I was afraid I'd hurt myself good; massive head bruise that hurt for days after. At the airport, I got the call from Couchsurfing dude. Why do Australians have a stronger accent than the Kiwis (New Zealanders)? Not only did I not understand what he was saying  or who it was, somehow my daughter had told me it was her number so my heart stopped when a man announced who he was and I thought something had happened to my daughter since her picture came up. It was all so confusing but he is indeed coming to Ottawa to hype the Terry Fox run and do his own marathon. He's becoming quite well known in NZ so I will have a minor celebrity staying with me...sure it's not like Brangelina  but it could be MattCathy if I could only understand what he's saying. Damn, I've said too much.

Two people turned me down for a place to stay but just as I stood to catch my flight, I got a place. I LOVE Airbnb.

The flight was good after they finagled an aisle seat at the last minute. I think the hyperventilating at check-in helped my cause. They served a salad with chicken that was quite exotic but no dessert so out came my NZ getting rid of my final coin purchased chocolate bar...the best ever...until they came by with dessert of chocolate  covered coconut ice cream bars with nuts. OMG so good. I think I just found the NZ national food. Australia's is Timtams. Then, the airlines steward hands me a huge after dinner mint. WTH! Don't they know I have to get weighed in by my darned smart phone? Oh the shame of it all.

Now if you remember, last time I was in Sydney my daughter was here to greet me and take care of all the arrangements, organizing and no thinking on my part. I was spoiled rotten. This time I was on my own. Sure I could have taken a shuttle but no way that's too expensive $35. So I talked to a thousand people and I got help from locals on the plane and they told me, they ALL told me, to take two trains to get to Rockdale so I did after I topped my train card. What they didn't know is  if you take the train from the airport, the $20 you just put on the card is instantly gone. Had I taken one single bus from the airport I could travel for weeks.

So I made it to the second train stop and this guardian angel man walked me through through the whole process and then eventually walked me out of the station directly to the bus stop pointed out the stop told me the direction it was coming from and then said laughingly, "I'm very worried about you. I think maybe I should even take the bus with you to make sure you get there." He was right. So I get on the bus and the bus driver has absolutely no idea where I'm going and it's only up the street all uphill. He's new, of course. Eventually Lady Luck stepped in, said my street sign and I'm in the place. It's an old Victorian home, nobody's here, and it's lovely but I'm all alone. Some days it's good, some days that's bad.

The room has cathedral ceilings and molding and stained glass windows no less than 8 choices of pillows,a wall clock, a huge empty armoire, mirror... It's got everything and all I noticed is the bedspread needs ironing and the sheet is hanging off so I wonder if the bedding is used. How fussy am I or would you be thinking the same thing too? It's worse when you realize there's no top sheet at all so everybody's touching the same quilt on top and they're probably rarely ever washing it. I must remember attention to detail with my rooms at all times- no cutting corners.

I'm full of chocolate and I'm lying down thinking I should get up from my final rest stop

I am so excited about going home I don't even care about the long plane ride. So I finally went for a long walk to shop for supper and breakfast.  Did you know palm trees have off shoots of berry looking fruit? At 10pm the host came home, raided his garden for my soup and asked me if he reduced my room fee, could I change the bed...and we're back to work. I did prepare the room for the next guest but never saw a dime. Aussie scammer.

I know, these pics suck but it was a long uneventful day.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Nov. 22 & 23- Hiking to Cathedral Cove, Separating, Hot Beaches & Trailer Life

Boy it's been a busy couple of days. Let's go back and see what I can remember. We did freeze at night and the girl in the car with a warm blanket was overheated. and my cabin smelled of mold but I had a whole bed to myself so that was nice. The Tofino BC like roads were winding, and twisting and very much deja vu of scuba diving with the upset stomach. The driver lend me their German version of Gravol. She showed me it would not put me to sleep even if I took a whole one but I don't read German so of course I took a pill I don't recognize and I took my chances and within minutes I was sound asleep.  Yes I know it's way too fast but I'm very impressionable. The scenery when I woke up was unbelievable like we're at the top of the world or I guess bottom of the world looking up. Oh I'm so confused.

It's very hard to find any Bed and Breakfast in New Zealand and just as I had that thought it was a sign for a bed and breakfast but of course there was no vacancy.

So we finally arrived in the Coromandel to stay at Hehai in a tent and they slept in the car. This was not a real camping park but it worked.

This was our view from the campground.

 So we packed up our beach walking hiking stuff and they never leave home without their backpacks. I just packed a fanny pack full of essentials and tossed in an emergency twenty dollars just in case. Just in case what? I had no idea but I'm a mom and it's what I do. So they're in their big hiking boots walking along the sand beach and I'm in my Crocs with my feet in the water loving it and then it took a turn for the worst. We had to climb the steps; me with sand  that I hate so much and we had to climb.  I was told it was an hour to climb. They lied. It was a very steep hour-and-a-half which doesn't sound like much but In the Heat of the day it was excruciating and my knee was acting up and I don't want to complain- you know me. By the time I got to the end I didn't care if I lived or died. The people that had finally been there and were returning looked absolutely bloody freaking miserable because they knew what was ahead of them.

So we got to the destination and it was unbelievable -Cathedral Cove and we took a bunch of pictures and the two girls looked at me and said they were not swimming! WTH! We came all this way for nothing and I'm hot and sweaty.

I looked over and the Sea taxi had just arrived $15 to go back. Oh my God best $15 I've ever made in my whole entire life. I'm really glad I did the work I'm very proud of myself. My Phone even congratulated me all day long that I reach my health potential and my knee did not give out. I think the phone was a little over the top cuz she was worried I'd keel over on her watch.

While they were gone I went to the corner store and bought a feast which we cooked up together and it was really good. I think it had been awhile since they'd consumed meat. Then they told me they didn't want to go to the hot water beach that I had my heart and soul set on. I was so crushed but I tried to be upbeat. At that moment something seem to change. I think we both looked at each other and decided it's time to go our own separate ways so they made plans to go to a Homestay in the next day that only had two spots. I told them to drop me off along the way as I would take the tourist bus back to the big city stay at an Airbnb and catch my flight out the next day. Stayed up half the night trying to book it and it didn't work but at least I knew the place I had to catch the bus in.

Nov 23
I even had my daughter working on it but to no avail. I finally figured out with her help how to call the company on my Canadian phone and the lady tells me that stop does not even exist. I give up. They suggested I go with him to the home state  case we could come up with something .
 Before we went we made a pit stop at the  beaches Hot Springs  that I wanted so badly to go to.  Paid for parking lot only 10 minutes and saw  a full Beach of people scrambling to dig their own  hot spring pool.  Most of the people had been conned into buying a shovel used it for a bit and then put it in the sand and forgot about it. We started to do our own new pool and it's hard work and because we didn't build the walls properly the cold waves kept coming in and it was getting colder and colder. I begged a couple of shovels from somebody but still we sucked at it. Another group invited us to join their pool but while I was standing in the empty portion I was burning the hell out of my feet. Nobody else was complaining but then they explain where I was standing with a little hot bubbles coming up which means I was due for some first degree burns if I didn't get out of the way. We got pictures two of us and were thrilled. The third person just stayed on the beach in the shadows. So sad.

On the way to the on the way to the home stay there was a hitchhiker and we agreed to pick him up. He was a scrappy looking youngin’ and sat beside me. He dislocated his shoulder so in no time at all we switched places in the back seat I was giving him a shoulder rub then Voltaren then the bed of nails and finally a sheet of Advil until he could get to the pharmacy. He was only in the car about 20 minutes but he made out like a bandit medically with Doctor Cathy.

Finally we went to the Homestay and the young lady there said well why not go on the website Trains Buses Ferries that all the commuters use. Apparently I can take the train from an hour away to go into the city where I want to go for $3 or $10. I was excited and they dropped me off right away. But not until after I convinced the hostess of Homestay to advertise with Airbnb and told her how to do it. I am hooking people up to Airbnb one person at a time. Soon we will have world domination.

Of course there's no office to buy a ticket so a young woman taught me how to book the ticket on the platform online then told me she was going my direction and she was going to take me right to the house I was going.

Tina was 15 years old and the cutest little thing. I told her all about traveling and how she could afford it with very little money and she said to me, “ I have never met a world traveler before. I will never forget this day.” how cute is that?  She assured me that although she's never traveled anywhere, Canada is now her number one place to go to see me. Then when we were talking about something else I said yeah but I'm old and she goes,”yeah but you’re cool for an old person.” Hmmm that was a “nice” thing to say. I think.
I made it  to another overnight accommodation and it was not quite exactly what I was expecting. The pictures were very limited but with nice furniture I assumed, big mistake, that it was their oversized trailer that they lived in and rented out space in. Not so. It is an older RV in their backyard for $50. Thank gawd the family is fantastic. Those are always the hardest reviews to write.

The host met me with a very welcoming glass of wine that got me quite shnockered and since I didn't have a scrap of food, I ate pizza. If I'm not exercising I might as well go to hell in a hand basket. Watched some TV and went to my cave. They joke about Canadians apologizing for everything and being afraid of the dark. Well I'm sorry but that's dumb. Okay maybe I am afraid of the dark and things that go bump in the night and most especially, the 8 leggedy creatures in confined quarters. It's only a top bunk, quite coffin like and quite dark. I kept hitting the ceiling and was oh so afraid since I hadn't given the place a proper viewing. It's going to be a loooooog night. My worries were all for naught. The bed ended up being incredibly comfortable.

I spent a few hours trying to track down the only person I had met who might put me up as a couch surfer...yes, looking to freeload. Eureka for Facebook. And he accepted my friend request, and then radio silence. Sigh, I would be paying after all. Guess I'm not getting the free bed and a bang special tonight. Oh stop rolling your eyes….did you see his picture? No, and you won't.  Find your own hottie on FB.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Nov 21 Coramandel, Free Fish, Frozen Butts in Trailor

 Back up north. This is the life- no navigating, thank gawd for everyone and no driving. I get to watch everything or just sleep and eat my weight in passenger boredom. Radio is all about Christmas but it's getting hotter and hotter again. Just passed a cemetery on a hill. Plots were all triangles that looked like broken bathtubs. Can't believe how green and hilly it is. Tons of cows and sheep, and the occasional masterpiece of nature with waterfalls and rivers.

Eventually we ended up in a place I never thought it would go and I'm so excited to be here at Hahei near the famous Coromandel and Cathedral Cove. It's so beautiful here.

We squabbled about which camper Park we were going to. I wanted full service and they only wanted to pay $10 a night. so if I get the the cabin for just me it's $35 and they sleep in their camper and it's $10 per person and one sneaks in to the extra bed. This is us sharing all our crappy food and turning it into a feast. Mine was always the rich person's snacks; you know, hummus and feta and sundried tomatoes. Mmmmm, hungry again.

We walked along the ocean and saw the imitation penguin wannabees.

Sunset was stellar. All the recently absent people have all awakened from the dead and the park is now full of party animals.  It's so cool sleeping here.

It's a seniors Camper Park and they were cleaning tons and tons of fish they got in the afternoon in the ocean. We went back later and asked how much it would cost to buy some from them so they just donated a whole bunch to us and it was the best fish I've eaten in awhile even knowing that it started with eyeballs and innards.
The seagulls and baby ducklings had a field day trying to beg from us.  They do make a lot of noise and they're very territorial.

We walked across the road to check out buying some booze to go and buying a drink as well and there was an entire busload of fishermen in the bar.  Woohoo! The lady attending the bar was the biggest bitch anybody has seen in years. Some other old guys we're discussing her and said she pissed them off 3 years ago and they haven't forgiven her -everybody hates her but she still there. She must be banging the boss.

Watched Lucifer on TV in the cabin. It's really cold tonight and there are no blankets here so one of the girls lent me her sleeping bag but I think we're all going to freeze no matter what although the one is in the car has a warm blanket so she might survive….we all did...freeze our asses off.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Nov. 20 - Geysers, Fiji and Bora Bora

Christina and Barbara, both from Germany (let's be honest, if you are traveling in this country you are either German or Asian) spent the entire day together going around all the geothermal national park and swimming in some free hot springs in the middle of nowhere and checking out the mud bad- it was an absolutely fantastic day. It started off on an amusing note. You pay the $30  and everybody goes to watch the geyser erupt at 10:15 everyday.

The geyser looks like a homemade white  volcano for school.  He comes out with a bag full of something like baking soda  and sets it off and it blows in the air- it's the hokiest thing you've ever seen. The day improved much after that.

Bubbling, steaming lava lakes of every colour; black, grey, bright green...there was one regular lake that blew my mind. I felt like I was in Fiji or Bora Bora- the colours were so perfect.  While passing a family with very young girls I heard mom read the sign on a scary cave looking lava pit, casually saying, “ It’s the Devil’s Home darling”. If I were that little girl, I would go no further. I would run in
fear the other direction

The sulphur rotten egg stench is gawdawful for most but my sniffer rarely works. Also this is one of only place in world where I can be gassy and still smell better than the environment.

Tired knees hurt and all it takes is a young lady to tell you her mother would never do what I'm doing and suddenly, I have discovered a skip in my step that wasn't there before.
There are even people that went in wedding attire to pose beside the gorgeous lime green running shoes.

The highlight was going to the natural hot springs.  Omg I was in heaven. There were waterfalls and a river to relax in.

Ended with the traditional ice cream sandwiches and cheese n crackers. They haven’t eaten real cheese in a month. I forget how career travelers deprive themselves of the nicer things in life to afford “”the journey”. I think cheese IS part of the journey. Did some backpacker shoulder massages, rubbed some sore feet, applied some ointments, dispensed some advice doctorily and left to tour the town some more. My work was finished.

I'm trying to convince them to drag me along tomorrow by offering more shoulder massages and foot rubs to their ailing bodies but it might not be meant to be.

When you are a serious procrastinator as I am, you don't have enough time to do the things that you want to do like the Glow worm caves and Hobbittown so when I got a late day invite to drive up past Auckland to go to the north for a day or two and they're going to drive the whole way, I was ecstatic. I'm very excited to be freeloading with people even if they are youngins. For one awkward moment, I asked the quieter German girl whose understanding of English is less, how she felt about an extra freeloader. She kind of shook her head like it was a bad idea so I assured them it was no problem. The other lady jumped in, did some quick translation and suddenly the first girl reassured me she misunderstood and yes of course I should join them. Whew. Doesn't matter if they are only 27 years old, you still feel bad.

NZ is now sunny after weeks of rain. BEST day ever.  Natural hot springs, mini waterfalls, geysers,  boiling springs and mud ponds. NZ is becoming quite memorable.

Walked more at night. I don't know what it is about the water but I am drawn to it and I have to be near it when I'm on vacation. All the black swans and seagulls. Rotorua is beautiful as always. It's funny when I drove up from Sydney to Cairns always so many lakes and beaches  and I was sick of it and here I am doing the same thing again. I can't help myself.
It seems like this city has a tourist Main Street but if you're paying attention and you actually walk around you will come across the secondary Main Street which is the city itself it's absolutely gorgeous and reminds me of Bemidji with the Christmas lights.

Did some grocery shopping for our road trip tomorrow but I made a fatal backpackers mistake...I put my open knapsacks all over my bed earlier in the day and forgot to prepare it before lights out. 6 people in my room and I'm crinkling, banging, dropping things and being an utter pain in the ass.  I feel so guilty. It will only get worse at 530 am when I wake up and start the whole process again and when I have the middle of the night bathroom breaks. Why oh why did I agree to share. I never learned that in kindergarten. didn't exist back then!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Nov. 19 - Angels in NZ and Long Bus Rides

Time to organize my adventure. I headed out early to two hostels, both full, one closed travel agency, two more that couldn't help me and just when I'm at the end of my rope in despair,  poof in walks my angel again and she escorted me to the train station. From there we were sent to an information place where the lady was wonderful and she got me on the very next cheap bus out to Rotorua geothermal hot spring area that I desperately wanted to see. My friend and I parted and I was eternally grateful to her. I'm not even sure if she was a figment of my imagination. I took a couple of pictures of Auckland but it's a big city and I don't want to be there.

Took the ever popular Naked/Mana bus to all the popular out cities and they only charge about $25. Five hours by bus and it was only eventful ‘cause two dudes jacked their heavy metal … let's call it "music" from the night before concert. I asked nicely to turn it down, and gave them earphones. One hour later, in a fury, I sat down in their seat and told them turn it off or use headphones as they were bothering all of us. They finally turned it off.  I had steamed for an hour and reminded myself I was almost 60 and wasn't putting up with this bullshit anymore. I lived to tell the story about these two punks but it could have gone either way.

Walked 1000 km to the Airbnb  house...maybe it was 6 blocks but the knapsacks were heavy. Met the only other person renting the house and he told me he was coming down with a bad cold. Me being the germaphobe,  I started to feel sympathetic pains, worried I was dying.

I met another 20 something at another hostel I was checking out and she was driving to the hot springs that you can't  get to by bus. I begged her to let me freeload with them and she said OK.   We made plans for the next morning and I was over the top happy.

Ending off the night, I was off to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua and it's rated in the top 10 by Conde Naste. Supposed to be $20 but it's $30… what the hell.  I heard three young guys relaxing and talking about life saying this is the den of Serenity ‘cause in the background were 10,000 pigeons and seagulls screaming their head off in their protected Sanctuary at the spa. Ironic and hilarious.

just looked around at all the Asians, (I am a race minority AND solo, so a total freak of nature and mankind) and they all have their cell phones unprotected in the pool doing selfies.  Crazy!

Normally I can easily spend 5 hours at the spa but alone, for the very first time in my life, I could barely do 1 ½ hours.  All this romance was a buzz kill. It was nice but I prefer the one near Ottawa.

I know, my pictures suck so go here if you want to see the better one.

I stayed up past midnight cleaning my bags.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Nov. 18 - Leaving Australia 4 New Zealand and Indecision

 Auckland is surrounded by so many inlets and as you go further inland, it's all mountains and green hills.

Ottawa should have this.  A tourist beer drinking bike. A Beercycle

I was up quite early got ready said my goodbyes walked the five or six houses to the airport pickup and the worrying begin. I no longer have my travel agent super planner with me. She planned every detail of the next portion of my trip but she wasn't there to navigate. Luckily the Airporter bus showed up and the driver was wonderful. The people checking me in at Philippine Airlines fabulous people. The people it security all smiled and we're happy which I have never seen before. Even the people selling food in the airport are wonderful. What a great airport to be in.

It seems like Auckland is 3700 + kilometers away. So it's a little more than what we drove from Sydney to Cairns. The an. Also are no longer exotic and koalas.  No more imaginary koallabies. I will never again fear the encounter in the woods with the dreaded cassowary bird that is part evil soldier and part ému.  And how robbed am I that I didn't see even one terrifying drop bear? Daughter warned me about them and I felt something was fishy but every time it came up, there was not a smile on the group. Could a whole country be that good at punking me? Why yes they could be good at perpetuating the national lie. It was only when we picked up the cutie hitchhiker and I mentioned it that he snorted Urban Legend that I raised my arms in VICTORY.  I Knew it!!! She almost opened the back door of the van and ejected him she was so nail spitting mad.

Oh my, the flight is all Christmas songs. In THIS heat? Santa doesn't come to the tropics, does he?

Watched some TV and slept. Yes I'm now a rebel. She who shall not be named can no longer tell me when to stay awake or sleep and it's glorious. I have 3 whole seats but am I greedy to say that with all the seats in front reclining, I still feel like a sardine? One more hour. Guess I will begin to eat all the food I brought that they won't allow in the country. So much to consume. The adventure continues. On arrival I screwed up. They let me thru the 10 second lineup but when I went to declare and he told me if I overlooked even one apple it was an automatic $400 fine. I was so worried he sent me to my own department to have me tear my bags apart. Daughter should be feeling pretty smug as she told me in no uncertain terms that I was a food hoarder and pack rat.  Final x-ray and I was off.headed to the Airbnb host but rather than mess around with 3 buses and hiking 15 minutes with my over sized backpack, I caved and decided to take the door to door shuttle.
My very clean, very simple airbnb couch in the living room when digs were limited on a busy weekend and I did not pre-plan soon enough.  Great place and host. 

Australia was hooooooot as blazes. NZ is much cooler and rainy but after two days, bright sun. People haven't seen the sun in weeks. With the help of my guardian angel Beth, NZ is now great. My previous trip partner Christelle planned every minute detail and I was paralyzed with fear and indecision after we parted wondering what the hell I was doing in NZ.  This was my sister Diane's dream not mine- oh well. My friend was waiting there and took me around to everywhere since she used to live there. Had supper and parted. I stayed up too late trying to make plans. I have
about 1000  brochures to go through.

And these are the places I wanted to see in NZ in only one week, not taking into account, the air travel days. Did Auckland, Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, Rotorua and many places inbetween. No Waitomo glow room caves or Hobbiton.