Arrived in Hong Kong on the evening of Monday 9th October.
Had a great time in this wonderful city - fabulous food, good weather, plenty
to do. Definitely want to go back.
Mon 9th: Went out for a great meal in the evening - ad hoc
dining in the street, but one of the best meals we've had.
Tues 10th: Travelled around on the 'Star'
Ferries, went across to Kowloon. Spent a bit of time looking round the
Weds 11th: Went to Bowrington Road market early - some amazing
sights (especially the fish) and smells (hot cakes good,
dried fish bad). Went on the new Ngong
Ping 360 cable car which takes you 5.7 kms over Lantau Island (near the airport)
to see the giant Tian Tan Buddha. Great views! Flew out in
the evening to Sydney.
Thurs 12th: Arrived Sydney 6 a.m. Very warm - Sydney is
having a mini-heatwave. Went to the famous fish
markets for lunch. Spent the afternoon on ferries seeing
how many different angles we could photograph the Opera House
and Harbour Bridge from.
Fri 13th: Temp went up to 37°C today! Visited Newtown
to meet up with a friend for drinks. Great Thai meal in the
Sat 14th: Again 37°C today. Had a lazy day inc. a chinese
meal out in the evening with a big group of friends of Helen
& Chris, who we are staying with.
Sun 15th: An early start - took the train to Katoomba for
a day in the Blue Mountains. Fantastic views from the scenic
cable cars, and the steepest train in the world, which goes
down a 52° incline! Saw and heard lots of interesting
birds including sulphur crested cockatoos.
Mon 16th: Another early start - this time a day trip by
minibus to the Hunter Valley, about 2½ hours north
of Sydney. We went with the excellent Boutique
Wine Tours and visited 4 wineries (Iron
Wilkinson Vineyard, McGuigan
Cellars and Gartelmann)
managing to taste no less than 35 wines, and chocolate
Tues 17th: A final day around Sydney, mostly shopping. A
big thank you to Helen & Chris for having us to stay for
Weds 18th: Flew from Sydney to Wellington to Nelson in
New Zealand. Spent the evening at the Lone
Star, one of Nelson's
Thurs 19th: Rented a car and drove to the Marlborough
wine region - visited Blenheim, and had lunch at the excellent
Saint Clair vineyard, where both food and wine were outstanding.
Tasted wines at two more vineyards (Wither
Hills and Forrest
Estate) in the afternoon. Returned via Picton and the very
scenic Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock then back to Nelson.
Fri 20th: Drove to the Abel
Tasman National Park and walked
along the beautiful coastline.
Sat 21st: Flew from Nelson to Wellington where we were met
by Joe's cousin Anella who took us to the excellent Chocolate
Fish cafe overlooking the sea, which was quite stormy today.
Later in the afternoon we had a look around Wellington and
visited the Malthouse pub, then Mac's
Brewery. Anella cooked
us a lovely meal in the evening.
Sun 22nd (1): Flew from Wellington to Auckland and then
on to Rarotonga, crossing the International Date Line, which
means we have gained a day and arrived late evening on Sat 21st.
We were met by friend Caroline who very kindly offered us
the use of one of her holiday
Sun 22nd (2): Took a bus all around Rarotonga to see the
island - it's just 32kms around and takes one hour. In the
evening we went to Raviz Indian restaurant in the capital
Avarua - superb food.
Mon 23rd: Went on the Aitutaki
Day Tour organised by Air
Rarotonga. A fabulous day out, with a 40 minute flight from
Rarotonga to Aitutaki, a short bus tour of the island, then
a 6 hour lagoon cruise, including a barbecue lunch on the
boat, and plenty of time for snorkelling in the afternoon,
seeing hundreds of tropical fish.
Tues 24th: A lazy day sightseeing and shopping on Rarotonga.
Had an excellent meal at Trader
Jack's in the evening, a restaurant overlooking the harbour. A huge thank you to Caroline
for letting us use the cottage, and lending us her car and
scooter. Flew out to Tahiti at 11 p.m.
Weds 25th: Arrived in Tahiti and stayed the night in a B&B
near the airport. Late morning we took the ferry to the adjacent
island of Moorea - stunningly beautiful from a distance and
even better on arrival. Caught the island bus service around
half way round to the north side of the island and checked
into our hotel 'Les
Tipaniers' - a lovely place consisting
of a small number of garden bungalows just 1 minute's walk
from the white sand beach.
Thurs 26th: Spent much of the morning snorkelling just off
the hotel beach - huge numbers of tropical fish and clear
warm water. Late afternoon we took the ferry back to Tahiti,
and spent much of the evening in a lively bar in Papeete
as our flight didn't leave until 2.30 a.m. the next morning.
Fri 27th: Flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles, then another
flight to Phoenix, Arizona, where we met by Ali's friend
Mel, who took us out for a superb meal at one of her favourite
Sat 28th: Mel drove us (she's a star) all the way from Phoenix
to the Grand Canyon, via Red Rock Canyon and Sedona. Reached
the Grand Canyon for a great sunset. Had dinner on the way
home in Flagstaff. Big extremes in temperature today - it
was 27°C (81°F) in Phoenix, 16°C (61°F) at
the Canyon rim, and a chilly -1°C (30°F) whilst driving
back to Flagstaff. We even saw a fair dusting of snow on
the mountain tops!
Sun 29th: Flew from Phoenix to Toronto where we were met
by Mark & Laura, who took us back to Marlene & Jim's
(Laura's parents) for an exquisite 5 course dinner with specially
chosen wines to accompany each course - fabulous! Met Mark
& Laura's son Jamie for the first time.
Mon 30th: Mark & Laura drove us down to the Niagara
Region where we did a day of ... you guessed it ... wine tasting!
A lovely clear sunny autumn day in the vineyards, we visted
Estates Winery, Angels
Gate Winery, East
Dell Estates, and finally Vineland
Estates, where we had lunch (very good indeed), followed by an excellent tour
and tastings. We all really loved the wines at Vineland,
and the tastings were especially generous. A huge thank you
to Mark & Laura for driving us around, and to Mark, Laura,
Jim & Marlene for all the lovely food and wine!
Tues 31st: Flew from Toronto to Baltimore where we met by
Joe's cousin Paul who drove us back to Darlington, Maryland
where several members of Joe's family live. Stayed with Aunt
Betsy for the next 3 days - many thanks Betsy! In the evening
we were roped into dressing up in costume and joining the
family trick or treating for Halloween around Darlington
- great fun. A surprisingly warm evening for the time of
Weds 1st Nov: Stayed around Darlington for the day with
the family, awaiting arrival of Joe's cousin Sara, husband
Tim, son Alex and his mate Nate. All the trees in the area
are fantastic colours still - wonderful mix of reds, oranges,
yellows and greens. In the evening we had a fantastic party
over at Meadow Farm, thanks to Paul, Sarah,
Betsy, Bill, Martha, Tim & Sara for organising it and
providing such great food. We even had fireworks in the garden!
Thurs 2nd: Sara & Tim drove us and Betsy to Washington to meet up with Joe's cousin John. Went out for lunch with
John and then had a great tour around some of Washington's most
famous landmarks - the White
the Capitol and the WWII
Memorial. Returned to Darlington
and Sara cooked us some fabulous roast beef.
Fri 3rd: Packed up our suitcases for the last time and we
headed towards Baltimore with Sara, Tim, Alex & Nate.
The boys went to look at the University of Maryland Baltimore
County whilst we went to the Inner Harbour area. Went to
the top of the World
Trade Center Baltimore, with an observation
level 387 feet above the harbour and great views from all
sides. Had a wonderful seafood lunch at the excellent Phillips
Restaurant (Ali had a lobster) then Sara & Tim took us to
Washington Dulles airport for our flight back to London.
Sat 4th: Arrived back at Heathrow around 7 a.m. then flew
to Geneva. Lovely weather making it not so bad
to be back! We were met by friends Brian & Diane who very
kindly gave us a lift home.