Auckland, Fiji and Sydney with Mummy - 14.11.10 - 02.12.10
It was finally time for Mum to arrive and I was so excited to see her that I even paid the extortionate price at the airport car park to make sure we were there well early enough to see her coming through the arrivals gate, and that we did. When I saw her pushing the luggage trolley she looked pale and tired and I waited for a few moments before I ran through the yellow lined bays where you're not supposed to go to give her the hug of her life. As she caught sight of me she let out a little squeal and Adam caught the moment on camera as all the colour flooded back to her face. It was so amazing to see her after 6 months and it was like the time just melted away. No more time for soppiness though, we had lots to see and do. We headed back to Stella and Adam lay in the back as we made our way to our apartment complex in Auckland CBD.
The apartment was very cool and a massive upgrade from what Adam and I had been used to. From our balcony we could see the sea and the Auckland Sky Tower. After catching up and comparing clothes, how I'd missed having my Mum around, we went for a wander around the town and took a trip up the tower itself to soak up the amazing views while the sun was setting. We spent the following days in Auckland visiting the city sights, shopping and eating well. We had our very own, completely out of time, Christmas Day where we exchanged gifts and Adam and I received some really lovely messages from everyone back home, it was hard not to get upset but I was glad to have opened everything while Mum was there. Mum bought me a Pandora bracelet and some lovely charms so that although I am a backpacker at least I feel like a trendy one. It was also Adam's Birthday while we were in Auckland and we took a trip to Waiheke island which is just off the coast of Auckland harbour, the weather was amazing and the views from the winery where Adam and I did some tastings and we all had lunch were breathtaking, Mum said she'd never had lunch in a nicer place but maybe she was to change her mind!
My Great Aunty Pat moved out to New Zealand about 20 years ago and has lived in Auckland since then. She has visited us in England and June Nanny went over to New Zealand to see her as well but it had been about 10 years we think since we last saw each other. We arranged to say our final goodbyes to Stella at the buyer's friend's house which was out of the city and Aunty Pat had arranged to pick us up there and take us for a meal in the suburb of Ponsonby. As she pulled up Mum ran across the road to her and Tina and there was an emotional reunion. The next few days we saw them every day and got chance to catch up on what was happening in each others worlds. It was then that Aunty Pat pulled out the trump card and took us for lunch at the revolving restaurant in the sky tower. As the views unfolded around us with sky jumpers flying past the window and we sat sipping fine wine and eating glorious food with family whom we hadn't seen for a very long time it felt like a really special occasion and it was.
It was time to head out to Fiji, the flight was really easy and it was a short boat ride to our first stop, Bounty Island. Bounty is tiny and you can walk round the whole island in about 20 minutes. Although the accommodation was basic it was clean and the view outside the beachside bure was breathtaking, it certainly looked like it could have been from a Timotei advert. I also found out that they filmed celebrity love island there, claim to fame. We did some snorkelling which was beautiful and drank cocktails while the heavens opened, it was rainy season after all.
The next trip was to Octopus Resort. The island was very different from the first, it was much bigger and rocky as well a green but was also a very pretty island in different ways to Bounty. Here we snorkelled some more and I tried scuba diving just in the pool, it went ok but I need a bit more confidence with those fishes to get me diving the sea. We were here for only 2 nights but managed to really enjoy ourselves. Every Friday the staff are invited to drink cava with the guests after their shift. Cava is an alcoholic drink with narcotic effects made from water and pepperwood that they knead in a mesh bag in the water till the mixture turns muddy brown and I am afraid to say that in my opinion it did taste like drinking from a puddle (I assume) but Adam really liked the stuff and we sat up chatting to the locals about the way of life on the island as well as the mainland and went back to the bure nice and sleepy. We spent our second night there enjoying a fire on the beach with tequila party where I took part in the art of limbo and discovered it was an art that I did not possess. We were sad to be leaving.
The next resort was Blue Lagoon Beach resort on Nacula Island, we were here for 4 nights and it was our longest stay. The island was much greener and very lush and had 4 villages. We heard the local church choir sing and visited the Sawailau caves where a couple of scenes from the film Blue Lagoon were shot. It was a limestone cave where the sea within it was a beautiful deep blue, Adam and I then swam under a section of rock to get into a second pool where there was very little natural light and without the torch of the guide we could see nothing. While Adam went fishing with the local boys, catching an emperor fish I might add, Mum and I went on a trip to what the resort staff called the bakery, but was more like a little tea shop. A local woman had a small tin shed where she baked her cakes in a calor gas oven and served tea and coffee to visitors to the island. It was really rather entrepreneurial and she said she prayed that one day God would send her a kitchen. It felt humbling to know that I'd only ever prayed for God to send me some Jimmy Choos! There was a day while we were at Blue Lagoon that the temperature was almost too hot to bear and even Adam who normally delights in turning an apple red colour from sunbathing sans sun cream was ready for a day in the shade. It was then that we discovered chess. Adam and I played 1 game, Adam turned out to be a shark, pretending he wasn't sure which pieces did what then winning his first game. Some of the other guests then came over for a look and it seemed like the resort was hooked with a mad dash for the 2 chess boards in the morning and a day where mum and Adam did nothing but play chess, eat lunch and then play more chess. We did have to break for the evenings entertainment though of International Crab Racing. We each picked a hermit crab which then got tippexed with our number, the first 10 crabs to the outside circle went to the final round and then the winner received a prize and guess who won, ME! Everyone wanted to know how I'd picked the winner but I assured them that he committee had said that all crabs had passed there drug test so number 16 won on talent alone!
The day we moved to our final destination, Nanuya Island Resort it started to rain really heavily and we all donned our black bin bags for our boat ride across to Nanuya. However we were in for some bad news, the rain we had endured on the crossing was not to stop and worse than that a cyclone threatened to trap us on the island as the flyer was potentially going to stop running. But as you do in Fiji when on Fiji time, you just have to sit back, relax and just wait and see. Adam and the boys got on like a house on fire again over their bowls of cava and off he went fishing, this time catching a parrot fish and Mum and I did what women do best, read, talk and have a massage! We met a lovely couple from Tasmania who were on their honeymoon but were pleased of the company when we started chatting to them, unfortunately it was their last night when we arrived so Adam and I fully intend on visiting them on our travels to chat some more. Luckily for us, the boat arrived to take us on the 5 hour trip back to the mainland and I can't say it was the smoothest ride I've had, it felt more like being on a rollercoaster but it calmed down as we neared the mainland. I was craving junk food so we headed to Hard Rock Café Fiji and gorged on processed chicken and coke, just what I needed.
After successfully returning to the mainland the next worry was whether we would manage to get out on the flight as planned as the cyclone warning had escalated into a hurricane warning but all we could do was wait in the very lovely Raffles hotel, check us out! As we waited in the airport the boarding time came and went and none of us said anything just quietly hoping the delay wouldn't be massive as at that time all flights after 4.30pm had been cancelled. In the end we managed to board and left only an hour late, the delay due to being unable to refuel as there was a lot of lightening lashing about in the thunderstorm.
The flight was painful with screaming kids on all sides but we touched down in Sydney safely and though the sun wasn't out, neither was the rain. We stayed at a beautiful guest house in the Sydney suburb of Enmore and our hosts Brom and Julian were very kind. I was plying them on useful advice on running a business like theirs which they were happily dishing out. After a great nights sleep we had an amazing breakfast prepared by Brom and I was so stuffed I could have happily gone back to bed but we went into the city centre to burn off all those calories instead. We walked through the botanic gardens which were stunning and saw giant bruit bats mainly asleep but were clearly confused as they were flying about the place. As we walked through the gardens we got a glimpse of the bridge and then a hint of the opera house, it wasn't until we walked out of the enclosed gardens that we were faced with that so very famous image of the opera house backdropped by the bridge and the boats coming in and out of the harbour at circular quay, it was a very special moment for all of us seeing the same thing together for the first time. A million photos later we headed for a tour inside the masterpiece and learnt about the history of the building and we went inside the main concert hall, it was all so stunning. It was then time for a wander along the bridge, I saved doing the bridge climb for the New Year, I think a walk up the stairs to get to walk across was enough for Mum!!! The views were of the opera house from the front and it was cool to see it from a different angle as well. We did a bit of shopping and a bit of drinking and a bit of eating like you do when you're on holiday.
On our last day with Mum in Sydney we went to Bondi beach. The beach itself was lovely and definitely bigger than I imagined it would be and along the beach front there were lots of graffiti paintings that had been commissioned, not just rubbish tags like you usually get. We then went back to the city to look around the shops but the weather was being mean to us and we had to duck into a little coffee shop to shelter from the almost unbelievable weather for this time of year. When inside we found ourselves surrounded by wealthy business workers with expensive everything, even designer umbrellas, we looked a little out of place sat there in our rain macs.
We managed to find further shelter in the form of some shops and wander around the arcades for a while as we slowly progressed up towards the Opera House. Mum had bought us tickets to see a theatre production at the Opera House called The Grenade. Again upon our arrival we felt a tad underdressed but we didn't care ;-) The performance was entertaining and we laughed throughout the show, I think we were all just so thrilled to be there the show itself didn't even matter. How many people can say they've done that?!
On Mum's final day, Adam and I found out that we could no longer stay at our friends place as originally planned and we were suddenly homeless without a plan, not that we'd had much of a plan up till then mind you! We had to do some quick thinking and because of the awful weather they'd been having in NSW we decided to seek out the sun, ironic seeing as we has sought out the snow in New Zealand. The only place in all of Australia that had sun was Perth and in case you're not aware Perth is the other side of the country to Sydney and is a 5 hour flight, like Cyprus to England, not exactly next door. However, we had no other plan and didn't want to stay in the rain carrying our backpacks everywhere so we booked the flight at 11am and got a lift to the airport with Mum to catch our flight at 3pm. Mum's flight was at 4pm so we would actually be leaving her behind in Sydney. It was sad to say good bye but we had an amazing time with Mum and I am so, so glad she was able to come and share some of the travel with me. For us it was off to Perth…