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!!!!!

More New Posts Below

If you’re just following our travels on this blog (not on Facebook) then it’s worth scrolling down for some new posts that we’ve recently added to fill in some of the gaps that we missed.

They are in date order of when things happened, rather than when we added the post.

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.

View of Auckland from the Sky Tower

Back to Auckland

Saturday 26th April 2014

When we arrived in Auckland many moons ago, all we really saw was the airport hotel. Last night we had a room (in the Quality Hotel, Parnell, Auckland) with a really spectacular view of Auckland by night. We have one day left to explore this huge city of 1.4 million inhabitants.

We started our last day with a fascinating morning in Auckland’s War Memorial Museum. The New Zealand museums really are excellent. Unexpectedly we spent a very happy hour looking at about 100 superb wildlife photos which made the final of the BBC Wildlife Magazine annual photography competition. We didn’t always agree with the judges’ choice of category winner but deciding on our choices for winners was half the fun.

We then spent another couple of hours looking at the exhibitions on Maori culture and the military history of New Zealand. There was so much more that we didn’t have time for . . .

Then a fantastic trip up (initially to the 52nd then the 60th floor) of the famous Auckland Sky Tower (a really lovely treat from Sian, Sian and Michael). The views were panoramic (photo at the top of this post) and gave us a much better idea of the geography of the city, including its volcanic hills, bays and the port.

Tomorrow we fly out of Auckland airport, but only as far as Fiji!

However I suspect that it will be the end of the blog entries for a little while . . .