Round the World - Joe & Ali's Honeymoon 2006

 Diary - Week 1
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 shops.

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 evening.

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.

Week 2

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 Gate Estate, Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard, McGuigan Cellars and Gartelmann) managing to taste no less than 35 wines, and chocolate port!

Tues 17th: A final day around Sydney, mostly shopping. A big thank you to Helen & Chris for having us to stay for a week!

Weds 18th: Flew from Sydney to Wellington to Nelson in New Zealand. Spent the evening at the Lone Star, one of Nelson's fine eateries.

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.

Week 3

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 cottages.

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 restaurants, House of Tricks.

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!

Week 4

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 Peninsular Ridge 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 year.

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 House, Washington Monument, 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.