On our way 2017

Anne here… YIKES there is no getting away from it. It is a very,  very long journey from the UK to New Zealand. And I genuinely can’t decide whether it is better to come more or less straight through as we have done this time. Or to have an overnight stop over half way. Pros and cons for both.

AirNZ Premium Economy Seats

AirNZ Premium Economy Seats

BUT I can’t praise Air New Zealand enough. Just the loveliest staff, fantastic customer service throughout, great food. I have to say Premium Economy seats were worth every penny AND they were expensive, so that is saying a lot.

AND NOW WE ARE HERE IN AUCKLAND… let the fun begin. Although I might just have a quick nap on a real bed first. Lol.
AirNZ's Smaug 777

Arrived Home to Wales via a Dragon

Well, after a long flight from LA to London Heathrow we arrived home on Saturday. We flew on AirNZ’s Smaug liveried 777-300 which is a great plane. Given that we’ve travelled on 6 different planes over the past few weeks we were pretty impressed by AirNZ overall. Comfortable planes and great service.

But the jetlag is already kicking in. Shattered on Saturday evening and then woken very early on Sunday.

More photos on the way 🙂

Santa Monica Route 66 End of the Trail

Santa Monica

Los Angeles / Santa Monica

Anne here . . . Wednesday 30th April (again) to Friday 2nd May

We had the very surreal experience of repeating Wednesday 30th April by crossing the International Dateline just by Fiji. The Fiji Times newspaper claims to be the first (earliest) newspaper published each day.

Also do not believe weather forecasts! Denarau was meant to be very hot and steamy, 29 degrees C. In fact it was much cooler and very very very wet; a tropical storm arrived earlier than expected. Santa Monica was meant to be warm, about 18 degrees C. It turns out to be very hot and dry, about 28-29 degrees C. More like the temperature that we were expecting in Fiji!

First impressions of Santa Monica . . . If we ever emigrated to the USA (highly unlikely but at the moment far from unappealing) we could definitely live here quite happily. We have eventually to late afternoon sunshine and a beach front hotel – the Georgian in name and style. The locals are very friendly, the houses pleasant and the streets are wide and spacious.

Second impressions . . .

Santa Monica Pier and Beach

Santa Monica Pier and Beach

We have just been for the most lovely evening walk along the seafront and then down Santa Monica pier. It’s still hot despite being 5pm in the evening. I love Santa Monica bay and pier. The bay is just idyllic, huge white sandy beach and fantastic waves. The pier is great fun and a bit mad. It is The End of Route 66. And also has Bubba Gump Shrimp Shop (a reference to the film Forest Gump) and a small but very interesting aquarium run largely by volunteers. But by far the best aspect, was the lovely view of the most stunning sunset over Santa Monica bay. A classic sunset over an idyllic bay.

Other iconic impressions . . . American style lorries and taxis, the regular wail of American police sirens, American flags on top of buildings, one dollar notes, lots of very expensive cars, huge sandwiches far too big for one person, lots of excellent fresh fruit, the photo of the President as we entered LA airport . . . Things that are so familiar from television and films but I keep pinching myself as a reminder that we are actually here.

A couple of minor downsides . . . I got short changed by $20; and there are a fair number of street beggars.

But overall we are thoroughly enjoying Santa Monica. In fact we have done so much sightseeing, we decided to give the tourist sights of LA a miss and just enjoy Santa Monica. If that turns out to be a mistake, we will just have to come back another year!!!!!

Fiji from Nadi


Sunday 27th to Wednesday 30th April.

Anne here . . .

We’ve had two very, very, very different experiences of Fiji.

Suva Fish Market

Suva Fish Market

For our first two days, we had fantastic hospitality from Paul’s university friend Mike who has lived in Suva the capital for over a year. Suva is a good three to four hour drive from the international airport in Nadi (I have discovered that this is pronounced “Nandi”). The taxi ride there was definitely an adventure! But we had a really good glimpse of many aspects of life in Fiji: including urban and rural poverty and wealth; the countryside and villages; the churches and temples; and through the anecdotes of the taxi driver a fascinating insight into the culture, economy, history and beliefs and values of the Fijians.

Old and new in Suva

Old and new in Suva

Mike and his family then continued the stream of local information followed by a fascinating tour on Monday of Suva. We couldn’t possibly have done this on our own, Mike’s insider information and experience was invaluable.

Tropical rain in Denarau

Tropical rain in Denarau

Then back to Denarau, just outside Nadi, where contains some of the mainland luxury resort hotels. The contrast was very stark. 24 hours of luxury, and sadly torrential tropical rain! We had a really delicious meal and chilled and relaxed, which was totally fantastic and very welcome.

But we are so grateful to Mike for giving us a fascinating insight into real life in Fiji.

Click on photos for a larger view.

Arrived in Santa Monica

Just a quick post to say that we’ve arrived in Santa Monica.

Glorious here. 28C and sunny. The beach looks great.

Arrived from Fiji via a painful long-haul. We have a few posts queued up ready so will post them later.