A Travellerspoint blog

March 2009

San Francisco

sunny 16 °C
View Rob and Jo's Adventures on rob_harvs's travel map.

This last week has gone soooo quickly! hard to believe we only have 3 and a half weeks until we have to fly home!!
We have been pretty busy and seen most of what san fran has to offer us in the way of tourism etc... So we had to leave the fairmont and head down the street a few blocks on the cable car 102_2481.jpg to our cheaper place- the Opal.102_2483.jpg Which is still pretty nice, except for the first two nights where something in my bed was eating me alive!! apparently pest control found nothing but my itchy bites said different. Obviously we moved rooms and got money back etc!!
So we checked in to the new place and jumped on the bus down to fishermans wharf 102_2484.jpg where there is loads of stuff going on! you have all your typical tourist shops selling a whole world of rubbish and then restaurants serving the famous clam chowder served inside a big round crusty loaf and the sourdough bakery. DSCF1659.jpg theres a good walk along the marina wall to get a good view of the city and the wharf 102_2507.jpg and some of the tall ships 102_2496.jpg. We then walked up the hill to ghirardelli square the home of the famous chocolate brand, where we got some free samples and had a look around the posh shops around it! 102_2493.jpg. We also checked out the free musee mechanique where the have all the old games and photo-booths and fortune teller machines etc 102_2488.jpg. After a late night of tom foolery
102_2512.jpg we had a lie in and then headed out to the golden gate bridge! At over 2miles long its a pretty impressive bridge...apparently if you took all the wire out of the bridge it would wrap round the world 3 times!! 102_2518.jpg we had a bit of a walk over the bridge but not all the way! haha too lazy for that. 102_2522.jpg
it didn't take too long to see the bridge so to fill the afternoon we decided to try and find Mrs Doubtfires house! yes its here, in san fran! exciting times...haha. We walked all around the neighbourhood 102_2534.jpg until we ended up exactly where we started...and as it turned out right outside the house! 102_2536.jpg. Not far from the house is the "crookedest street" so we checked that out as well. We rushed back to the hotel that evening so Jo and Zoe could try to get tickets for a musical. We got to the box office just in time and they managed to get tickets for that nights performance of "Wicked".DSCF1624.jpg It is the musical of the untold story of the witches from the wizard of Oz! i think its safe to say they LOVED it!!DSCF1625.jpg while they were singing and dancing along to that i got to watch some stuff on tv that i hadn't had chance to watch in 6months...things like boxing etc.
The next day we took the bus in to town and went round a few shops before heading to Golden gate park DSCF1627.jpg which is ALOT bigger than we expected! we went through the botanical gardens DSCF1641.jpg and walked all the way to the beach near the dutch windmill they have restored DSCF1648.jpg. That night we met a couple we met first of all in San Diego, they went on to LA from there where they stayed with the bassist from the Eagles who is related by marriage to Richard. We met for tea in the Cheesecake factory which is really good!! nice huge portions!
Yesterday we went to Alcatraz. I was looking forward to the trip all week! so at 4pm we headed out on the ferry to "the Rock". DSCF1671.jpg 102_2605.jpg as you arrive its hard not to see why they though the place was escape proof! you can imagine how intimidating it would have been getting off the boat there.102_2622.jpg 102_2627.jpg we walked up past the old living quarters to the cell block where we picked up our audio tour of the prison DSCF1690.jpg it was the voices of former guards and inmates leading us round 102_2636.jpg the cells were TINY i think 8 by 9 feet...none of the luxury they get these days! 102_2637.jpg the cells in the "special case" block were worse 102_2642.jpg and then there were the solitary confinement cells 102_2650.jpg. The rec yard was the only space for exercise 102_2658.jpg and the doors on the way offer that killer view 102_2671.jpg. They tell you about the escape attempts and the one that was successful where 3 guys made fake heads for their beds 102_2683.jpg and escaped through holes they had scratched out with spoon handles 102_2684.jpg they were never caught and various theories are told about where they ended up (if they made it out of the water). The view of the city would be hard to look at if you knew you could never leave! 102_2680.jpg102_2674.jpg and the sun was setting over the golden gate bridge as we left 102_2707.jpg.
So tomorrow Zoe leaves for london and me and Jo leave for Seattle/Vancouver!
Speak to you soon!
Love Rob, Jo and Zoe xxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 15:01 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Grand Canyon and Vegas baby!!

sunny 15 °C
View Rob and Jo's Adventures on rob_harvs's travel map.

So we set off from San Diego later than i had hoped around 1pm using the Sat Nav we borrowed from Jo's auntie. I had looked at the route and started in that direction but no the sat nav told me we were going the wrong way...i don't like putting all my faith in something like that but Jo was all for it so we decided to follow it. So after about 5hours of driving and 250 miles to go it was blatently taking us in the opposite direction so we re-programed it and lo and behold nearly 600 miles to go. brilliant! we arrived in flagstaff at about 12.30am after a ridiculous day of driving.
The next day was better, only an hour drive to the south rim of the grand canyon...it was definitely worth the driving! "Spectacular" doesn't do it justice! 102_2259.jpg102_2247.jpg102_2239.jpg102_2238.jpg102_2226.jpg We couldn't get over the size of the place, over 277miles long!! there was also classic north american wildlife all around us... we saw Condors 102_2251.jpg and Elk but didn't manage to spot any of the 20 mountain lions that live in the park.
That night we stayed close by on the famous route 66 102_2279.jpg and on the monday we decided to head on to Las Vegas. During the week the casinos in vegas slash the prices of the hotel to try and get people in to the casino so it worked out way cheaper for us to stay in a 4 star hotel in vegas than to stay in a hostel or motel anywhere else! On the way to vegas we drove over the Hoover Dam 102_2302.jpg which was pretty impressive.
After a 4 hour drive we arrived in Vegas! 102_2453.jpg and the stratosphere hotel casino where we had booked to stay for the first 2 nights. 102_2310.jpg102_2309.jpg its a pretty good view from up there 102_2322.jpg We decided to stay 5 nights in vegas all together because of it being so cheap! We stayed the second two nights in Circus Circus 102_2457.jpg after stratosphere hiked their prices. Both of these hotels are the north end of the famous las vegas strip. 102_2423.jpg102_2426.jpg Our hotels were nice but some of these were in another world. Not only are they casinos they're shopping malls, theme parks, circus' and stadiums! The venitian102_2316.jpg has a canal that runs round the outside102_2355.jpg and through the inside of the shopping mall 102_2365.jpg All the hotels have something unique and extravagant 102_2315.jpg102_2333.jpg102_2334.jpg102_2338.jpg So looking round all these different things takes a long time. We also did a spot of gambling 102_2321.jpg we did quite well really in vegas terms. For most of the time we were up and used our winnings to buy our dinner or pay for activities, but i think we left vegas down $20 between us! Nobody ever wins! We also met some celebs there 102_2378.jpg102_2382.jpg102_2387.jpg102_2396.jpg and of course the man of the moment 102_2414.jpg did i mention this was at madam tussauds? haha. Another iconic vegas sight is the Bellagio hotel fountains, they are brilliant...kind of mesmerizing! It is timed to various songs so changes every time 102_2435.jpg102_2431.jpg
At the weekend the prices of the room increase to what you would imagine for somewhere like that so we had to leave the hotels and get back to the motels 102_2458.jpg but it was ok...no hotel but ok and still on the strip!
On Saturday morning we left vegas and started the drive to San Francisco. This time we decided to break up the drive and stop somewhere for the night. We drove for around 7hrs through changing weather, we even saw a double tornado a long way off to our right!!! we also saw tumble weeds and oil fields 102_2461.jpg to with in 150miles of san fran and stayed the night in King city. On Sunday morning i drove on to san fran with a very excited Jo as Jo's sister Zoe was arriving in to san fran for a weeks holiday! So we dropped the car off with no problems and waited for Zo at arrivals. 102_2465.jpg For Zoe's birthday Jo managed to book a VERY posh hotel very cheap way back in australia! So we all headed to the Fairmont San Francisco. 102_2472.jpg102_2473.jpg and the room is AMAZING! two bedrooms and an awesome bathroom, 2 plasma screens etc! 102_2466.jpg. So far san fran is really nice... a bit cooler than the desert but we're getting used to that, and the streets are SO steep 102_2476.jpg
Unfortunately we have to leave the fairmont today and go to a more realistic hotel :( but im sure it will still be nice!

So thats everything up to now!

Speak to you all soon, Love Rob and Jo xxxxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 10:11 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Los Angeles and San Diego

sunny 10 °C
View Rob and Jo's Adventures on rob_harvs's travel map.

We were both sad to leave Fiji especially jo knowing we had an 11 hour plane journey ahead of us! We left an hour late in the end at 11pm, and we managed to score 3 seats between the two of us which was better than nothing...in fairness to Jo the flight for a change WAS quite bumpy haha but we arrived safe in los angeles BEFORE we left Fiji. Theres a 19hr time difference!!
We couldn't believe the size of the place from the air and it took us half an hour to even drive out of the airport! we had to book in to a dorm in LA because its so expensive so bunk beds in a mixed 8 person dorm it was. We had the afternoon to kill so being based in the middle of Hollywood we walked up on to hollywood boulevard to see the stars 102_2122.jpg 102_2125.jpg and the kodak theatre 102_2124.jpg 102_2140.jpg and the hand prints outside the chinese cinema. 102_2136.jpg Our first impressions were of how scummy Hollywood was (except around the kodak where they have the oscars), junkies and beggars and pure weirdos line the street that is for some reason famed for glitz and glamour. Its the only place so far (except for a couple of times in china) that we felt a bit unsafe!
Being a bit jet lagged we went to bed fairly early and didn't really get much sleep thanks to the noisy guys in the room.
The next day we got up and went on the walking tour through the hostel to the Hollywood sign. We got the bus to the bottom of Hollywoodland housing estate...V posh! (the sign originally read hollywoodland as an advertisldement) we walked up the hill and got as close as we could to the sign without getting the $103 fine, 103??!!P3100147.jpg the sign was pretty cool but at the end of the day it is just a sign. In the afternoon we decided to take the bus to Santa monica102_2155.jpg to Venice beach with a couple of guys we met from Memphis. Santa Monica was a much nicer area of LA and the beaches were massive!!102_2154.jpg102_2153.jpg a shame that the weather was too cold for any beach shenannigans.
The next day we took the subway to Union station and jumped on a train as quick as we could out of LA 102_2156.jpg to San Diego. 102_2162.jpg. San Diego was a world away from LA, it was clean and laid back and the people were nice.102_2202.jpg We booked in to a really good hostel with our own room for less than the 8man dorm in LA!
The next day we took the bus out to balboa park 102_2165.jpg which is huge and has 15museums! we chose the natural history museum to see the Body worlds exhibition by that pathologist guy who did the autopsy on TV. The exhibition had real bodies minus the skin plastinated for display. it was amazing! Jo made a new friend too...102_2167.jpg. We met another couple in the hostel that night after another small world moment, and went out for a couple of drinks with them.
On the friday we got up early and took the bus to the famous san diego zoo! 102_2199.jpg which was really good! 102_2195.jpg and then in the afternoon we walked round the coastal track round san diego bay where they have some cool things like the aircraft carrier and plane used in TOPGUN, and some good shops and cafes.102_2213.jpg102_2221.jpg There was also a Grey Whale in the bay that had taken a wrong turn up the coast and got lost! i tried to get him on camera, can u spot it?? 102_2218.jpg.
Saturday was the day we left san diego after picking up the rental car at the airport!! 102_2263.jpg it was really good, brand new only 6000 miles on the clock and pretty good on petrol! Next stop Flagstaff, Arizona.

More soon!

Love Rob and Jo xxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 17:29 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)


sunny 32 °C
View Rob and Jo's Adventures on rob_harvs's travel map.

Well its been a while since i got chance to write one of these so lets see how much i can remember...

We arrived in Fiji at Nadi (pronounced Nandi) airport at about 3pm and got our free transfer to the hostel we had booked. The room was ok, nice and cheap though compared with the sister hostel next door charging double our rate. Plus we got free use of all their facilities!! it was pretty weird being in a room again after living in camper vans for 3months! We pretty much headed straight over to the sister hotel (smugglers cove) to use the highly rated travel information to try and get an idea of which of the many islands we wanted to go to. the lady there was really nice, like all Fijians they're so friendly and always smiling, and we decided that Robinson Crusoe island was the one for us. Since we only had a short 5day stop over there we booked to head out to the island the next morning. For the rest of the night we chilled out in smugglers. SDC11462.jpg
The next morning we checked out of the hostel and got a transfer through nadi town and mainland villages SDC11482.jpg to the river jetty where our boat was waiting to take us up the river to the sea and the island. SDC11489.jpg
The island is one of the biggest of the fijian islands we were told SDC11492.jpg so we asked if we walked round how long would it take? about 30mins we were told! haha it was tiny. We arrived to a typical fijian welcome of guitars and island songs and flowers in the hair.
After we checked in we sat down to our buffet lunch (all meals were included) and watched the polynesian dance show SDC11582.jpgSDC11581.jpg and some of the guys walking on the white hot rocks from the earth oven SDC11501.jpg.
The island has a 2 dorm rooms and a few private Bures (buraays) we splashed out and went for the bure haha. They also do day tours and evening toursSDC11546.jpg, the day tour was there when we arrived so when it left at 4 we could see who was staying on the island. We got talking to three lads from Northern Ireland of all places...where abouts i asked, Lisburn, i told them i knew a couple of lads from there (Phil my housemate for 3 years and his mate eddy who was originally supposed to move in to Jo's room in our house) well it turns out that these three lads were best mates from home with phil and eddy! Small world! SDC11531.jpg mark and ryan and then gary with sophie who arrived on the same boat as us SDC11532.jpg
The atmosphere on the island was so relaxed, the staff lived with you and organised activities doing things like making coconut jewelry, beach rugby, fishing, mangrove kayaking with a mangrove mud fight! and other things like topping up your tan which Jo and two girls from norwich, kim and rachael, were big fans of.SDC11530.jpgBola was our main activity guy and he loved showing off climbing the trees for the coconuts SDC11525.jpg we tried and bottled it about 6ft up! SDC11528.jpg nice to drink though. When you first arrive on the island or anywhere in Fiji you have to partake in a welcome ceremony where you drink the traditional drink- Kava. Kava is a dried root that is pounded in powder and then soaked in water. It contains some kind of drug that causes a numbness in your mouth on your first cup (half a coconut shell) then numbness of your head and full body numbness if you drink enough. Its quite a bitter taste, kind of like bitter mud, haha but i quite like it!! Jo wasn't a fan though along with most of the others. Its very traditional though so to refuse the cup or spit it out as one girl did is a huge insult! the Fijians drink the stuff ALL DAY long... on a daily basis its a very social thing just sat around the Kava bowl. we usually joined them after dark to chill out and have a laugh SDC11572.jpgSDC11570.jpg the only problem at night was the Mozzies and the sand flies!!!! any skin without insect repellent was demolished in record time....as Mark found out on his 1st night SDC11567.jpg. As the food was included we only had to pay for drinks which were CHEAP! because there was only about 25 of us on the island they wanted us to spend more on drinks so most of the time they turned Happy hour in to happy day! good times. SDC11558.jpg.
All in all we loved Fiji and we loved Robinson Crusoe!!! its a shame we didn't have a bit longer there but we'll have to save that for another trip. SDC11507.jpg102_2120.jpg

More to come soon!

Love Rob and Jo xxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 16:16 Archived in Fiji Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Dunedin to Christchurch

sunny 21 °C

The Speights brewery was excellent! way better than cadburys and way better than the other brewery in greymouth! the guide was enthusiastic and we got half an hour to drink as much as we liked (or could hahaha).SDC11255.jpg We went out in to town after the tour and headed to the spots that had all the drink promotions on for the uni freshers! it was a really good night!
The day after we planned to spend the day over on the Otago peninsular but the weather set in again and we decided that another plan was needed. all being pretty hungover anyway we just headed to the other side of town to see the much famed Baldwin St - the steepest street in the world.SDC11278.jpg Well it was quite steep but not THAT steepSDC11279.jpg...but guiness book of records 1997 doesn't lie! yeah 1997 we found out after hahah!
The weather cleared thankfully and we headed out to the peninsular about 6.30pm to a spot that we found out about where you could see the rare yellow eyed penguins for free! everywhere tries to charge you for tours, about $40+ each! well we got there Just in time! the penguins had just started arriving on the beach when we got there.SDC11345.jpg we had to view them from a hide so not to disturb them so the pictures aren't great but with only about 100 of these penguins on the mainland it was still pretty cool! SDC11329.jpgSDC11316.jpgSDC11309.jpg
Also chilling out on the same beach were huge male sea lions! SDC11358.jpg i think we woke this big lad up SDC11289.jpg because we had to leg it when he started to chase us off!! SDC11294.jpg.
We left dunedin the next day and drove up to Mt cook. On the way we stopped that the famous Moeraki Boulders, they were pretty wierd things to see sitting in the middle of the beach with no other rocks around! SDC11362.jpg the scenery improved as we got nearer the mountains SDC11369.jpg but when we arrived at the mountains we couldnt see the peak for the cloud! and then the rain started again! we spent the afternoon in the Sir Edmond Hillary centre reading about all his achievements. The next morning we woke up super early and the sky was clear! we got a great view of the peak that even some Kiwi's have never seen.SDC11394.jpgSDC11414.jpgSDC11405.jpg We did a couple of short walks around the mountain and to the Tasman glacier lake. SDC11422.jpg.
We left mount cook and took two days to drive up to Christchurch, stopping in Timaru and Akaroa on the banks peninsular but the weather was too bad to leave the camper!
We arrived in Christchurch yesterday and walked around town. We are stayin with a family friend of Jo's parents called Elizabeth and her friend Basil. Jo can't stop saying how cute they are and they are trying to feed us at every available moment so i think they're great haha!
We leave NZ on wednesday morning aka Jo's birthday, bound for Fiji!

Speak to you soon!

love Rob and Jo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 15:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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