25TH October 2022

The weather today wasn’t looking too promising so we decided to take a taxi tour of this side of the island. Our first stop was at the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The first 20 miles of the journey were very comfortable on a tarmac road, however as soon as we turned off the main road to get to the gardens the last 3 miles were a different story!

Unfortunately we arrived at the same time as a coach-load of other passengers from the ship were very slowly getting off a bus. Luckily for us they didn’t want to walk too far so we soon got to overtake them to explore our surroundings!

The Garden, which contains a vast collection of 30 to 40 varieties of magnificent Asian orchids and Cattleya hybrids, was once the private collection of the late American actor Raymond Burr (Ironside) Thanks again to the internet for that little nugget of information!

Although the sky was grey it was still quite warm and we had a lovely visit!

Guess where we went next?…… I know its not a pretty sight……..but what great fun………

This is the Tifjek Mud Pool and Hotspring. Barbara from the ship could see that I was struggling to get a good covering of the lovely warm mud, so we worked out a reciprocal arrangement as you can see!

I’m sat here back home looking at the rain teeming down outside thinking it would be great to be back in amongst all that lovely warm mud!

On the way back along the bumpy road we stopped to buy some local mangos. It’s amazing how many you get for $2US. We had so many that we had to give them away when we got back onboard!

Next stop was the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple. It’s a Hindu temple in Nadi, Fiji, and is the largest Hindu temple in the Pacific. It is at the southern end of the main road through Nadi.

The last stop on today’s trip was to Jack’s department store in Nadi. I think this was Jane’s favourite part of the day, as not only did she get to have a good rummage but the manager let her use the shops WI-FI so she could contact Charlotte back at home!

I bought a very subtle shirt (watch out for the photos!) with the help of a lovely sales assistant, thank you Tukana Ralulu Senibici, and also a big thanks for letting me use your WI-FI.

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We arrived in Suva a lot quicker than expected. The ship had sped up as we had a sick passenger aboard and we needed to get into port as soon as possible. There weren’t any spare berths as we weren’t due in until the next day, so as soon as we had entered the calm of the harbour a small boat was able to pull alongside and the passenger could be safely evacuated to hospital.

The next day, with all the drama behind us, we decided to take a stroll around Suva, the capital of Fiji, but as it was a Sunday there wasn’t much open!

At the entrance to the port we were bombarded with salespeople trying to get us to take a tour with them. We chose a tour in a taxi which would take us to most of the places that the guidebook had recommended, and Rusty was to be our driver.

And what a lovely chap he turned out to be. The first place he took us to on his tour was Colo-i-Suva Forest Park.

This park is part of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) which is an initiative begun in 2015 as a network of forest conservation programmes throughout the 54 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. By 2016, 16 countries had become involved, and by 2019 the number was 46. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

In October 2018 Prince Harry visited, and dedicated the park to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. It certainly was a lovely place and I wished I was as organised as Kev and had had a swim!

The weather wasn’t as good as we had hoped…….. at least we got to see why the countryside was so green and lush!

However business carried on as usual in the torrential rain………..

We got to see a lot of the southeast of Suva during our tour but with the heavy rain we didn’t venture outside of the taxi much……….

Luckily enough when we got to the last stop on the trip, which was a beach resort, the rain stopped. Even though it was a bit windy Kev and I attempted a swim and a snorkel, but the sea was very choppy so we settled on being churned around in a very rough sea!

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We checked the map and saw it was less than 1/2 a mile to walk into town. What we didn’t take into consideration was how hot it was going to be. I think we had drunk all our water within about 20 minutes and had to stop and buy some more!

One of the first things we noticed about Samoa was how friendly the people were. E”veryone we passed whilst walking stopped to say “welcome to our country, and cars would slow down and open their windows just to say the same thing. We felt like royalty!

We stopped to have a look at the huge Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, and it was a blessed relief to explore this lovely building in its relative cool interior!

Something which is not unusual to find on these islands is a beautiful building set very close to something that is in dire need of a little TLC!

Across the road from the Cathedral is the Samoa Cultural Village where we watched the traditional underground cooking using hot rocks…………sadly it was too hot for us to hang around and taste the results!

We carried on walking along the sea front until we got to the fish market. I have never seen such brightly coloured fish on sale before……….all caught that very morning!

It certainly was a day for exploring markets, our next stop was the fruit and veg market……………

.. where it seemed that each vendor specialised in just one or two fruits or vegetables!

A full homemade bag (looks like banana leaves) makes its way back to the kitchen!

Next to the markets is the bus station, full of multi-coloured buses all with air conditioning (i.e. they had no windows)!!

If you didn’t want to go to the market you could try the local supermarket……..

After all that walking about it was time to head for somewhere that was guaranteed to have air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Well, one out of two was OK, as this was the only MacDonalds I have ever visited without Wi-Fi. Well at least the coke was cold!

After lunch we found a beach close to the ship for a bit of snorkelling. The current was quite strong but the water was lovely and warm and the fish were beautiful and very colourful!

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After all the driving on the other Hawaiian islands we decided that while we were in Kona we would just take it easy and have a stroll along the sea front. Jane also said that if she saw any shops it might be a good idea to go in and investigate what they had to sell…………….

The good thing about Jane doing a bit of shopping is that I could sit outside and admire the view……we came back to this spot to do a bit of snorkelling later in the day…….

It was very hot walking along the front so when I saw this sprinkler I took the opportunity of a quick cool down!

We saw this truck outside one of the shops……….we both wondered if we could ever climb into it without a ladder ……

The only good thing about walking by all these shops was that there were a few bars………..

And this one had a good view and made some good, strong cocktails…………

So good that when we got back to the ship and carried on dancing Kev didn’t realise that Val had sat down 10 minutes earlier!

After all the hectic activities of the previous day the next day was spent just chilling!

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Maui, known also as “The Valley Isle,” is the second largest Hawaiian island. This was our port of call today.

Before coming on this holiday someone told me that when we get to Maui we should drive the “Highway to Hana”. We mentioned to some American passengers that this was our intention and they warned us against it saying that the road was very narrow and windy and a bit dangerous! I looked up a review on the internet and this is what it said……… “Maui’s “road to Hana” is a curvy coastal road with views of cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and miles and miles of lush rainforest. It’s a well paved road, but you do need to keep your wits about you when you drive it because of the many sharp curves and one-lane bridges.”

We thought that if we could drive in Scotland whilst towing a caravan, then this should be easy……….and that’s what it proved to be!

Our first stop along the Hana Highway was a grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees………amazing!

Further along the road we saw a stall selling smoothies made with locally grown fruit. I can’t remember exactly what was in it but mango and pineapple featured heavily……..delicious!

Next stop was to swim in the waterfalls, well under to be precise! Parking the car for this part of the day turned out to be far more taxing than I had expected. Whilst waiting for the car park attendant to move a bollard so that I could turn left in to the car park a lady, and I use that term loosely, passed by me on the inside and said “you’re blocking the f***ing highway”! Well really, have they got no patience?!!

The next challenge came when the car park was said to be full, so we headed off down the road and parked and walked back. As we approached the waterfalls the parking attendant said “I just saw you driving past and you can’t park there”. I told her that she didn’t know where I’d parked, to which she said “you can’t f****** park there” (although she would have had no idea where I’d parked as it was about half a mile away) but she wouldn’t engage in any conversation at all……. Anyhow, Kev spotted a parking space and stood in it whilst I ran back to get the car…. by this time the grumpy woman was standing clear and a kindly lady assisted us into our spot………I just wanted to get that rant off my chest, an unpleasant moment in an otherwise perfect day!

After our swim we carried on exploring the island without any further problems. We ended up spending a bit of time at Kahekili Beach Park where we managed to do a little snorkelling

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Nawiliwili Bay

Kauai has the reputation of being the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands, and when the fog lifted during our visit and we could see the views I would be inclined to agree with them.

We had decided to hire a car and visit Waimea Canyon which was only about an hours drive from the town of Lihue, on the bay of Nawiliwili (what a great name!) where our ship was berthed.

Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a large canyon approximately ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep, located on the western side of Kauaʻi in the Hawaiian Islands of the United States. Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water”, a reference to the erosion of the canyon’s red soil.

After an hours’ drive to the bottom of the canyon we started the 3,000 feet climb so we could feast our eyes on the stunning scenery that the guide books had promised us. However when we reached the summit we had a little bit of rain and no view at all………

Our luck began to change and as we drove back down the windy road we were able to catch glimpses of the beautiful landscape.

It certainly is a long way to come and it was a shame we only had one day to spend here as I would have loved to do a bit of hiking. We spoke to a few walkers along the way who told us it was great walking country but that they were amazed at how many people they had seen walking to the canyon floor so totally unprepared……….for example, one lady had no map, only 1/2 a litre of water and was wearing flip flops!

A truly beautiful place and eventually we got to see it at very close to its best!

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We arrived in Honolulu just as the sun was beginning to rise, the lights of the city were still shining and it was already very warm.

The best and one of the cheapest ways to see the island is to hire a car. The ship was offering a 6 hour tour for about $150 each and the cost of the car hire was a lot less than that and it took the 4 of us!

Our first stop on this island was the Byodo-In Temple which is located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It  is a non-denominational Buddhist temple located on the island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was dedicated in August 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi.[1] (Thank you Wikipedia!)

We spent a very tranquil hour or so here taking photos and just taking in the ambience of the surroundings.

We stopped at Sandy Beach Park where we had a spot of lunch and then we were going to have a snorkel. We were advised that it was too choppy and we wouldn’t see much, and it would be better to drive further along the coast and seek calmer waters, which we did, and it was great!

It was a weekday and very quiet. As you can see from the photos we pretty much had the place to ourselves!

The ship stayed overnight in Honolulu and that night we were treated to a show performed by local singers and dancers. It was lovely, and a welcome change to some of the shows that the ship had put on!

On our second day on O’AHU we did take a ship tour, as I was really keen to get to see Pearl Harbour. This was a place I never thought I would get to visit. Infamous as the place where the Japanese attacked the U.S Navy and almost destroyed its fleet with one air raid, thus bringing America into the Second World War.

The photo above is of the USS Oklahoma Monument. The only land-based memorial at Pearl Harbor, the USS Oklahoma Memorial honours the more than 400 servicemen who lost their lives aboard the ship during the flurry of attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Second only in casualties to the USS Arizona on that fateful day, the Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island commemorates each life lost with a tall white marble column, symbolizing a crisp white Navy uniform. Taken together, the low black granite walls etched with stories and towering clean rows of columns symbolise the ship, and the crew within, standing tall forever. (I copied this directly from the website as its too important and I didn’t want to get anything wrong!)

This is a picture that I took from the visitor centre of the USS Missouri, or the “Mighty Mo” as it is more commonly known here.

The “Mighty Mo” up close………

On the deck of the “Mighty Mo”. These huge gun barrels are 65 feet long, weighing an incredible 116 tons, and can fire a 2,700-pound shell 23 miles in 50 seconds – with pinpoint accuracy. The Missouri was the last battleship ever built.

From the deck of the “Mighty Mo” you can see the USS Arizona Memorial. Sadly we weren’t able to visit this as it was undergoing maintenance and visitor numbers were greatly reduced!

The USS Arizona Memorial is built over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7th 1941, when their ship was bombed by Japanese Naval Forces. This loss of life represents over half of the Americans killed during the worst naval disaster in American history. (Again I copied this information so as not to make a mistake.)

A map of the devastation caused on December 7 1941

USS Missouri, as this plaque details, is where the the document that ended the Second World War was signed. This was the last thing we saw on our tour and it brought to an end a truly moving and thought-provoking day!

When we got back to our ship we both sat on our balcony gazing at the modern city in front of us and raised a glass to the brave men that went before us and enabled us to live the lives we do today!

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After 7 sea days aboard our cruise liner the Zuiderdam, which is an Amsterdam America company ship, we were all pleased to get back on dry land and explore Hawaii, “the Big Island”. I have to say, before we booked this trip I didn’t realise how many islands there were that make up the Hawaiian archipelago. There are 8 major islands and 129 smaller atolls and islets. We were going to visit 4 on this trip. This island was home to the Volcanoes National Park and this was where we were headed today.

When we went to pick up the car from the rental company they offered us a Ford Mustang convertible as a free upgrade………so we just had to take it! Kev, who fancies himself as a Tom Selleck lookalike, slipped behind the wheel and put the pedal to the metal………

I’m not sure that this impressed “Thelma and Louise” who were sat in the back! Thankfully Jane, as usual, had brought her hair straighteners and the day was saved….(Jane will kill me for that as it’s not true but I thought it was funny!)

It was exceptionally hot that day and I’m not sure being beside a bubbling volcano really did make it feel hotter but it certainly felt like it!

I have visited Lanzarote and been to see the volcano there. You drive over a lunar landscape and see the devastation that the 2 eruptions caused. These were from 1730 to 1736, and the last one was in 1824 and it lasted for 3 months. This particular volcano is the most active on earth and you can actually see the molten lava and the smoke rising from it.

In daylight the lava looks like a muddy lake but I’m assured that at night time you can see the red glow!

Whilst we were there we were informed that the last eruption was on 29th September 2021 but is has since erupted on 9th December 2022….. this year and we were there exactly 2 months before…..scary!

You can see from this photo the remains of part of the road with the white line on it………

This was that same road, the road we walked down to see the crater. They had stopped cars driving down here so we had a long hot walk to the viewing spot.

In the distance you can see a lava flow from a previous eruption heading to the sea…………

We walked through an extinct lava tube thoughtfully coloured with red lights to give you the effect that you were going to burn your feet!

A very interesting and hot day!

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We have reached San Diego, the end of the road trip and the end of this section of the trip. In a couple of days time we will be boarding the Zuiderdam for our cruise around the South Pacific.

But first we have time to explore the busy and vibrant city of San Diego and its local communities.

A great way to get a feel of the-laid back vibe of the city is to take a stroll along the waterfront at the Embarcadero. From here you can pop in and explore the historic gas lamp area or walk on to Seaport village where you can choose from a wide variety of restaurants. We chose the low-calorie burger and fries option and it was delicious!

We took a tour of the USS Midway. This ship was commissioned in 1945 and is named after the battle which was a turning point in the war in the pacific. This aircraft carrier was in service until 1991 making it the longest serving carrier in U.S. history.

The tour was absolutely fascinating and we spent far longer than we had anticipated exploring this ship.

And according to Jane far too long posing for silly photos!

Alongside the carrier is an outsized statue of “The Kiss” based on the famous photograph taken at the end of the second world war.

Kev and Val took this picture of the Top Gun house. It looks a lot different now all these years later!

We both needed to buy snorkels for the next part of the holiday. Jane was shocked at the response to her google search for the name of the sports shop she had been given!

We were walking along the high street in Carlsbad (20miles north of San Diego) when I spotted this beautiful Lincoln Continental convertible driven by what looked like the Golden Girls (1980’s sitcom for those of you too old to remember)! I called for them to give us a wave and they duly did, what great sports!

Next Stop Cardiff, well, Cardiff on Sea, California!

And another chance to see and photograph some more American classic cars!

The next morning I went for my early morning stroll and I found this locally owned and run doughnut shop………..

……….so it seemed rude not to stop and try some of its wares…………delicious!

And as the sun sets on this part of the holiday and we start to look forward the the next chapter, the surfers are still out there trying to grab every last bit of available daylight !

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It was very difficult to find the visitor centre on our trip to this National Park as the “streets have no name”. The park ranger could see I was looking perplexed and asked if he could help. I said that, even with this map, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. The park ranger said “what, U2?” Eventually we were put on the right track but by then Jane had lost interest, so I said I’m going “with or without you”

Ok that’s enough of the bad puns!

The landscape of this park reminded me of the cartoon series “The Flintsones”. I half expected to see Fred or Barney popping out from behind a rock!

We had visited a few other parks in the last week and this one again had a totally different landscape to the others. This is where the Mojave and Colorado desert come together and make some surreal geological features with the help of strong winds and the occasional torrents of rain.

And talking of occasional torrents of rain it was quite alarming (literally) to get this warning sounding on my phone. America has a system where all mobile phones within an area where there might be a potential weather problem have a warning sent out to them. It was very unusual to hear the sound of a loud klaxon emanating from everybody’s phones!

Nobody seemed to be paying this warning any attention so I asked a coach driver who had stopped to let his passengers explore if we should be worried. He pointed to a distant cloud and said “that’s where the problem is, just use your common sense and you will be ok” So that’s what we did and we never saw a drop of rain. We did, however, see evidence of the rain as we drove through a large puddle later in the day!

We didn’t dare wander too far from the car but we did take a little stroll around these rocks to see the hidden valley where in days gone by rustlers used to hide their ill gotten gains!

Joshua trees are incredibly unusual-looking, in part because they aren’t trees at all but a plant belonging to the Yucca family!

Apparently you can see the San Andreas fault from here, or so it says on the sign …….. you will just have to take my word for it!

These are some of the larger examples of the Joshua Tree. They are probably close to 150 years old……who knew I would become an expert?…….Thank you Wikipedia!

Despite the barren surroundings I found an unconventional beauty to the place!

For some reason they call this place Skull Rock, I’ll have to google it!

If you don’t stop now you’ll find lots and lots and lots and lots more desert!

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