Pompeii

I had not a clue what to expect at Pompeii, yes we studied it at school, but I guess I was expecting flatter more buried ruins.

We met a local tour guide and joined the hustle and bustle of the ancient city.

Pompeii was a port city so we walked along what used to be the beach.  Like all ancient Roman towns there were two arenas, if you were wealthy you could buy yourself a marble seat.  The Romans of that time ate at home very little, using their homes mainly for sleeping.so we walked past the remains of the ancient fast food joints.  When it rained the streets flooded so true to Roman ingenuity there were well placed stepping stones across the main road, not only did they allow you to cross without getting wet but they were well placed to allow chariots to go up and down unhindered.

The baths remained pretty much in tact and as per normal the men’s came first but they were cooler apparently women did not like cold water so they had theirs heated up quite up, umm I think I would have got myself in a bit of strife becuase it was so hot I would have gladly have jumped in the mens, apparently this is not allowed.

Speaking of lucky men the brothels were also well preserved, since alot of girls could not speak the language  so they put up signs showing which favours they would perform.  The men could walk up and down the street and choose from the menu as such but they did not have it all their own way, the bed were just hunks of stone not very comfortable at all.

As with all Roman towns Pompeii had a main square this had ancient pillars which did not allow chariot access to the pedestrian area.  This square amazing views over Mt Vesuvius the mountain that destroyed it 79ad.

I was suprised how well they managed to excavate and preserve the ruins and how it does not look like it was buried.

Glad Mt Vesevius stayed sleeping today but showed herself in all her glory.

Rome

Or to be correct Roma, a very ancient city, sadly a bit dirty.

Personally I found Rome very hard to navigate which was not helped by the crowds and the heat.

My biggest mistake on my first day was thinking I was more awake than I was and setting out to explore which resulted in a taxi back to the hotel and a sleep.  I woke up at 8 o’clock so I got up and ready for breakfast and check out, only to find it was 8pm.

The next day after a sleep I set out again.  My first thought was that Italians can not drive but due to the 1000’s of scooters and cars, very few traffic signals and roads coming from every direction I think they are actually pretty amazing drivers definately not for the faint hearted.

Apparently crossings, red lights and green crossing men are just decorations and since pedestrians do not need the whole crossing they can go around you as you cross.  Welcome to Italy.

My taxi driver was not very complimentary about the way that scooter riders rode, texting whilst weaving through the traffic, but he turned around as he drove and honked that everything that moved or did not move fast enough.  Welcome to Italy.

Learning Italian walking etiquette – in New Zealand we walk on the left, never dare but walk anywhere but on the right in the UK, well I am not sure the Italians have decided what to do, the way I see it:

  • Get as many friends in a group as possible
  • Walk slowly down the middle of the footpath
  • Stop to text all your friends when you are looking in the shop windows
  • Talk loudly using your hands
  • Light a cigarette
  • Repeat as above

This makes walking around especially when you throw tourists in to the mix.

But I have to say I love the way they talk the expressions, the emotions the gestures, just great!

Rome is spoilt a bit by street vendors, they will never want for selfie sticks, rosary beads or roses.

Tourism is huge in Rome and is funny to sit back and watch hundreds of tourists around the main attractions wearing earplugs following a guide holding up a scarf, paddle, umbrella or fan.

Despite the heat and crowds Rome in its own unique way a special experience and it is great to see the ancient ruins so well preserved.

This preservation has added to the traffic woes, after being granted Unesco Heritage status nothing new can be built in the original city, the metro has to skirt around the outside and there is a distinct lack of public toilets so don’t leave home with out your 0.50 euro .

Water is abundant in Rome with plenty of opportunities to refill your water bottles and no shortage of vendors trying to sell you ice cold water.

Apart from getting very lost and not being able to find a couple of places I would have liked to have visited I stumbled on some real gems, don’t ask me what or where they were because I have no idea.

I guess coming from a small place like New Zealand the crowds and pushing seem overwhelming.

Rome is interesting place to visit an experience I am glad I have not missed.

Glad to see in person things we learned about at school.  I had to pinch myself, yes I am standing outside the Colloseum.

Our tour guides were full of information and history and I take my hat off to the locals going about their normal lives among such chaos.

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Trip to Italy – Getting there

It is not about the journey it is all about the destination, no truer words have been said when you are faced with a 30 hour flight.  All you can do is think of the destination as you sit in your seat.  It is amazing to think how many timelines you cross as you fly through the sky sitting in a window seat hoping you do not need a toilet as the people beside you are asleep.

First stop the famous Changi Airport in Singapore this is everything I had heard and more, I was amazed by the shear size of this place a city within itself.  You could shop for all the big brands, Gucci, Prada, Harrods etc or relax in the gardens, as we flew in during the night the famous butterfly gardens were closed, but the other two were open, stepping outside into the Sunflower garden highlighted the mugginess of Singapore.  If gardens and shopping are not your thing there is a mini casino, movie theatre, hotel and designated rest areas with easy chairs and loungers all with in plug ins for your devices and a sky train to transport you from terminal to terminal.

Exciting for me a double decker plane, apparently the largest in the world, don’t quote me on that just what I heard, provided a very comfortable night flight to Frankfurt, could not fault this Luftansa this flight.

Landing in Frankfurt another extremely large airport complete with train to take you from terminal to terminal that that is after you have completed your 10 mile hike, Germany is normally known for it’s efficiency but not this time, organised confusion with two destinations loading from one departure lounge.  Interestingly enough I did not see any other planes other than Luftsansa, I wonder where they hide the others?

On the flight from Frankfurt to Rome the scenery below was stunning, snow capped Alps and very organised farms, paddocks, houses, paddocks.  The paddocks seemed to be the same size and symetrical.  You could clearly see t.he villages in the alps and many windfarms.  It was then over water to land in Rome.Italian Customs - Copy - Copy

Geocaching experiences

I have not blogged for a while, life seems to be wake up on a Monday morning drag yourself to work, or jump out of bed and say yay I am off to work, in case the Boss reads this, slog all day come home, eat dinner watch TV work on your geocache puzzles read your book, go to bed.  Repeat x5 or actually only x4 play badminton one night.  Then it is the weekend, washing, housework then geocaching.

Last weekend I did a very memorable cache which got me thinking what is a memorable cache? There are so many different forms of caching, you have those who are driven by power caches for the numbers, dot days, streaks, first to finds and various other challenges so what makes a cache memorable to you?  Personally I like the experience of visiting a place I have never been some which wow me others are really? Some days I love just caching with geodog alone with my own thoughts other days but what can beat caching with good friends?  Laughter and memories topped off with a coffee brewed in the back of the caching wagon.

Recently I went caching with geodog and my 4 year old Grandson, that took caching to a whole new level of difficulty, geodog just wants to run around and if there is any mud or water all the better, no time to stop and look for caches, whilst Grandson wants to play Elves and Fairies in all the bush and check out every playground so quick grabs are ideal.  While he plays I find with an eye over my shoulder at all times keeping an eye on him, when I find it, he wants to look and keep any treasure, if there is none he loses interest and goes back to his game but I still have to buy him an ice cream because he found the cache, go figure.

There has been a lot of talk about too many mint tins out there spoiling the experience, I tend to agree there are too many which spoils the travel bug experience however if a find a mint tin in a beautiful spot I have never been I am ok with that.

Any way back to these memorable caches, on Saturday we visited Barker’s Boarding Kennel & Cattery GC27B7W a nice easy walk on a all weather track where you will find a dog kennel in the bush with an ice cream container for swaps, carry on walking through nice bush with lots of bridges to carefully cross keeping an eye out for Trolls.

The most memorable cache I think I have done for a very long time is another Gorbygorbaachov special,  he has put together some absolute crackers, he has had you completely dismantle a thermos flask to find the log, go back to your school maths days to solve Pythagoras puzzle to enter a cache, find a tool to retrieve a cache and if you live or are visiting Auckland and you love the bush you just have to visit the join Gorby in Utophia, Gorby’s tinny, greeney, hairy thingy, Docking at Gorby’s space station and Gorby’s gnome comes home.  Top marks for the names alone.  Can not give too much away but know if you do them you will be amazed and love the ingenuity.

Last weekend his latest went live another cracker of a name Gorby has Barney with Tweety Bird at Fire Station, another great name.

Fire Station

All you have to do is open the base, operate the elevator to have the puzzle block drop down, open puzzle box one to find puzzle box two with the log in but then the challenge putting it back together.

Although I said I was ok with mint tins in a beautiful location these types of caches just take the cake and make the whole experience extra special.  Thanks Gorby for these memorable caches and keep em coming and to all other cache owners, ncluding moi think of travel bugs when placing your caches.

Thanks for memorable experiences and I raise a glass to many more.

Whittaker’s Giant Easter Egg Hunt

It is no secret I like geocaching and the the Whittaker’s giant egg hunt is also a treasure hunt, but no gps needed or logs to sign, these eggs are extremely obvious.  There is an app you can download and record your finds, but I have had nothing but trouble with logging in but this has not taken the fun of finding them.

There are 46 around Auckland, working in the City I was able to walk around and find most in my lunch breaks.  I particularly love the Kiwi themed eggs.

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Last weekend I went out with my Grandson to find the eggs around Silo Park, Viaduct and Wynyard Corner, he rode his bike around enjoying the sunshine.  It was great to see some children themed eggs, even superheroes.

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The Wally egg made a special appearance in Auckland, Wellington & Christchurch, clues were given to where you could find him hiding, I found him in Countdown, Auckland alongside the special Easter chocolate released for Easter with 20 cents going to Starship Hospital, can’t think of a better reason to buy a block, after all you need energy for a egg hunt.

All the eggs will be auctioned off and proceeds to Starship.  Thank you for making this happen Whittaker’s.

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Travels around the Tutukaka Coast

I have a secret obsession that I will share with you, I love watching travel shows about New Zealand, learning new things and adding to my must visit list, this time is was Whananaki, I was greatly taken by the footbridge and all the travel celebrities walked it it was only right that so should I.

It was decided that this beautiful coastline would be explored on a girls weekend, first stop being Kaipara Village to collect a trade me purchase, well I did say a girl’s weekend.  After collecting the item we stumbled on a roadside jam and pickle store right outside a very cool old Butcher’s shop.  After finding room in the boot for the purchases we moved on.

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Next stop Whangarei and a trip to the Library, another beautiful building, and guess what another jam and pickle stall, and major excitement they had Quince Jelly and Guava Jelly, my favourites.  The boot was getting fuller.

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Driving through Glenbervie we passed miles and miles of old stone walls built between 1850 and 1930 still in good condition.  The coastline boasted beautiful deserted beaches with clear clear water.

Lunch stop was at the Tutukaka Lighthouse, which to be honest I did not know existed.  The walk out was beautiful despite the 188 steep steps down to a rocky beach only passable at low tide, then a zig zag walk up Kukutauwhao Island to the lighthouse, this was an honest walk but the views were worth it, we were even treated to Dolphins frollicking down in the bay.

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All that was left to do was to run back up the steps, well ok puff my way back up to the car.

Mile upon mile off stunning scenery and coastline found us in our weekend destination, Whananaki.  Cup of tea then down to the bridge and to explore the area before dinner.

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From the quiet estuary at low tide to the ocean beach around the corner, what a beautiful spot.  We lost the light so had to head back for dinner.

The next morning the tide was in the estuary looked completely different, a last walk over the bridge before exploring more of this gem of a coastline.

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Just over the hill is a real gem, Otamure Bay, deserted today but I would imagine it would be totally different in the height of the Summer.  We were very lucky to see the rare little Pateke ducks in the roadside wetland.  Time for a refreshing swim in the clear warm water.

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As the road is a dead end we returned through Whananaki and who knew there was a histroric wharf there?

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A really can not describe the beauty of this area, you really should visit and experience it for yourself.

Have driven North several times and always driven past the Hikurangi Lime stones, I always presumed that they were on private property but this is not the case, so this time we stopped at Waro Lake for dinner, swim and a stroll around the limestone, it was like being in an ancient world and who knew there were coal mines there?

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Highly recommended rest stop when heading North.

I am always astounded about these hidden little gems that I have missed over the years, hopefully there are still quite a few more I never want to lose the pleasure in exploring new places.

Geocaches that were different

Everyone who is everyone in the NZ travel world has travelled to Whananaki to cross the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere, 395 metres long, built to connect North and South Whananaki.

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It was my turn, Whananaki is a beautiful spot and the neighbouring beaches, well they are just stunning.

There were geocaches in the area to find, but there were a few that stood out as particularly memorable:

Spoiler Alert!!!!!

Check it out – a geocache hidden in the middle of the library, right among the books, just brilliant.

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Next different cache, knit the co-ordinates

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and last but not least, this one required you to dive into a lake to retrieve the cache, lucky our summer seems to be going on forever and the water was beautiful, this took a bit of doing as my support clue, ok me too, had not fully read the instructions, well who reads instructions anyway?  so after swimming around a bit, I was not game to take my gps swimming, I was not finding anything, just about to give up when the on shore support crew called out the correct measurements from the shore, I decided one more dive and give it a miss, although the temperature was beautiful the visibility was not great.  One move dive and success.

waro container waro searching

Interestingly enough these were all placed by the same cacher, SaltyCacheNutZ, she has also set some awesome puzzles, looking forward to heading up North again for some more.

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Last but not least an earthcache, one of my favourites, this one was the Hikurangi Lime Rocks, amazing landscape and intersting history, who knew there were coal mines there?

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