An open letter to the woman in the supermarket.

New zealand

Today I spent my Sunday afternoon grocery shopping. As did you. I love grocery shopping, but somehow I got the feeling you were not really enjoying it. The process of being amongst people and yet totally alone, Yet you weren’t alone- you had two kids as well as your mother.

We crossed each other in the aisle- and you had given your little girl a cuff around the shoulders, which made me stop.

And then she cowered away from you and my heart just broke. She was fearful and resigned, trying to hide her tears and hide from you.

You twisted her ear and told her to “harden up or I will give you something to cry about” she recoiled again. You used some pretty filthy words to explain to your mother that she had been running around the supermarket.

This woman- I am guessing your mother, just said disinterestedly- “you needa keep more control, give her a better hiding” you promised that was exactly what you planned when you got home.

I came home today from my grocery shopping, in tears.

The worst part today was I was paralysed by the knowledge that if I did or said ANYTHING I would just make it so much worse for that little girl tonight. I literally had to stop and watch you hurt and threaten your child- the most precious thing in the world, and do nothing. I do not judge what I saw today- but it certainly made me pray for your daughter. and for you.

See you will never read this but I am so heartbroken by this- i feel guilty that your behaviour could be so foreign and repugnant to me. For the luxury of never having experienced what to you is common and normal. For the misguided society that says “she should know better” when judging by your mothers actions- HOW could you know better. The anger and frustration I saw in your face made me cry- the fear and resignation in your daughters made me weep.

I was furious at myself when I got home, because I can cry and think on it, in my comfortable home, with my loving husband and supportive community, and parents who would never think of having threatened me as a child. But after I have got over it, which I will, what then? I go on in my little bubble, and you continue you in yours. And our worlds never collide, even though you may not live more than a few streets away. You are in my hometown, in my community and yet our worlds are so far apart.

Aotearoa, this cycle must be broken. I so desperately want to be a part of a generation that is the solution- this issue is not one of race, or of us and them, every single person regardless of finance or race has a chance to be involved in challenging our collective psyche that says “it’s ok” or “thats the problem if your poor” or sometimes even “it’s a Maori problem.” This is a problem to every single person who identifies as a kiwi, who embraces the fact that we belong in this land, and this land in us. It is not about making people feel guilty and ashamed- it is about fixing the gap and creating tools and equipping those on the bottom of our widening economic gap. We all need to be working to a New Zealand with a more equal playing field, where opportunities and expectations available for one, should be a REALISTIC option for all. Like climate change, the time for action is now. Not in the future. And if  not us- then who?

don’t have answers, just lots of questions and a pretty bruised heart, my prayer though, is that my heart is the only thing bruised tonight.  

 

 

 

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Morocco 10 days and 10 tips!

Africa, Driving, Morocco, Tips, tourist, Travel, wanderlust

Morocco! The name itself evokes mental images of colour, spices, smells! This country that rests in the North of Africa and seems to meld middle eastern, European and African flavours into one was definitely an experience for us! We will be writing TWO blogs about this country. This one aims to provide information about how to operate (somewhat) successfully here.

  1. The culture in Morocco is VERY different. People are super friendly and ready to help, but they have no problem in asking or expecting you to do something for them in return. For instance, in 8 days in Iceland we had NO-ONE else in our car. In Morocco we ended up taking 8 different people at different times places. The Moroccans who shared our car generally used the line “yes,  come with you, we go here…” whether we were going there exactly or not was irrelevant. No asking, no western “politeness” but then here it is deemed unnecessary.
  2. Anywhere that has tourists, expect to be harassed, called at, shepherded or have little children pulling at you. This was definitely something we could have done without.
  3. Your attempt to converse in other than English makes a HUGE impression. Our basic attempts at hello, thank you, bless you and numbers in Arabic- made such a difference to how he locals treated us. Warmth was racked right up! Most hostel, hotel or tourist operators speak an impressive array of languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Sometimes Mandarin and Russian as well as Arabic). So you can always ask the first place you arrive, write down the phrases and then PRACTICE with everyone you meet!
  4. Prices are NOT set. We both hate haggling, but here they are nearly always expecting to get 20-50% lower than they say.
  5. As a woman, it can be really hard to follow local customs. But making the effort and covering up definitely made me feel better and also made me less conspicuously touristy.  It is not a matter of trying to dress like a Muslim woman, it is just out of respect for how things are culturally. The same way you wouldn’t go for a cup of coffee with your Nana in clubbing clothes  (I definitely wouldn’t anyway)!
  6. Driving in Maroc this should have been number 1 actually! Remember, you are in Africa. Chill out, breathe deeply and go with the flow. Unless you have an issue, city driving is NOT fun. But it is doable. You need a gps (or Maps.Me!!!) and a dedicated navigator. Keep your eyes front and sides and let those behind you do the same and you shouldn’t crash!
  7. There are many slow down signs as you enter a village,  but no speed up signs. so y often see “80” then “60” then a village, then more road and “80” then “60” reappears! Take this to mean that the national speed limit (100kmh) is n force once you leave a village. You have to kind of guess!
  8. Obey the signs.  Cops with cameras lurk JUST past the slow down signs ready to sting you with a fine! We got a 300Dh fine (about $45NZD or $30USD) But if you are good about it, so are they. We paid the 300 and got a 100 in return because he was feeling generous i suppose.
  9. Many people try and flag you down. We stopped at what we thought was roadworks but was just a broken down truck. When we stopped, a guy jumped in saying he was going to the next town. He stunk of alcohol but we couldn’t do much. So we dropped him off in the town (about 30kms away). He wasn’t  dangerous just a bit unsettling. To avoid this, slow down and give a WIDE berth, keep windows UP and doors locked. Our door was locked but he just reached in and unlocked it!
  10. Lastly, do not take offence! Have fun, remember you are n THEIR world, they will do it differently and that is OK!

Overall Morocco was WONDERFUL but it is a place where your experience will be infinitely better with a bit of local awareness.

Iceland; raw, glorious, powerful, incredible. A week where the true meaning of these words was glimpsed.

europe, Iceland, Northern Lights, photography, Travel

Due to poor Colombian Internet, and a laptop that hated the tropics and now won’t type half its keys. Putting this blog together has been an absolute time consuming mission. Disclaimer at the beginning. This is super long and features selfies. But this blog is for us in ten years time when our memory of this trip has faded, we hope to still be able to relive our time in this most wonderful of countries through this blog. So if you get bored, I don’t blame ya! But if you do make it through. Thank you! Hope you enjoy the bits you read and the photos you see!

Words cannot describe Iceland appropriately. Images are about the only thing that we have found that comes close to revealing the awe, majesty and overwhelming-ness of this remote island. We were lucky enough to tick this off our bucket list in September and had one of the most beautiful weeks ever….

This is our map of Iceland. We drove roughly 2,500kms in a week starting from Reykjavik on the south western side in an anti clockwise direction.

This is our map of Iceland. We drove roughly 2,500kms in a week starting from Reykjavik on the south western side in an anti clockwise direction.

We arrived in Iceland just at sunset and once arrived in Reykjavik set out about 10PM i hunt of the mysterious Northern Lights. We got a mere taste but even that was enough to make us stop and go

We arrived in Iceland just at sunset and once arrived in Reykjavik set out about 10PM in hunt of the mysterious Northern Lights. We got a mere taste but even that was enough to make us stop and go “WOW”

Day 1 and Reykjavik was FREEZING. And so windy! we had been out of the car for about 3 minutes. The Umbrella was no more. FYI I am wearing a t shirt, cardigan, hoodie, pufferjacket and windbreaker. I as still cold!

Day 1 and Reykjavik was FREEZING. And so windy! we had been out of the car for about 3 minutes. The Umbrella was no more. FYI I am wearing a t shirt, cardigan, hoodie, pufferjacket and windbreaker. I am still cold!

The Incredible cathedral in Reykjavik (despite destroying my umbrella) was an incredible feat of engineering

The Incredible cathedral in Reykjavik (despite destroying my umbrella) was an incredible feat of engineering

Inside of the Cathedral and the wow continued.

Inside of the Cathedral and the wow continued.

Later that day we got to g and experience the Blue Lagoon. Most famous of attractions in Iceland these sulphuric thermal pools allow you to enjoy a glass of Prosecco while soaking in hot water with freezing air temperatures. And yes, it really is BLUE!

Later that day we got to go and experience the Blue Lagoon. Most famous of attractions in Iceland these sulphuric thermal pools allow you to enjoy a glass of Prosecco while soaking in hot water with freezing air temperatures. And yes, it really is BLUE!

Day 2 and we left Reykjavik and started on the long loop around the island. Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss. HUGE and awe inspiring...

Day 2 and we left Reykjavik and started on the long loop around the island. Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss. HUGE and awe inspiring…

Seljalandfoss is the waterfall you can walk behind!!!! And Man was that trippy! But worth it- only problem was the wind was so strong you had to time it so you didn't get the camera gear saturated!

Seljalandfoss is the waterfall you can walk behind!!!! And Man was that trippy! But worth it- only problem was the wind was so strong you had to time it so you didn’t get the camera gear saturated!

The weather started to clear as we continued on down the coast bu left this lovely hazy colourful look around the land. Just stunning really!

The weather started to clear as we continued on down the coast and left this lovely hazy colourful look around the land. Just stunning really!

The cold and the rain and the EXCITEMENT OF BEING IN ICEALAND!!!!

The cold and the rain and the EXCITEMENT OF BEING IN ICEALAND!!!!

Our next stop was a waterfall called Skogafoss. This waterfall had so, much, power! We attempted a jumping photo here and failed miserably. However i loved the fact that we both seem to be under the impression that jumping shot must equal gaping mouth!

Our next stop was a waterfall called Skogafoss. This waterfall had so, much, power! We attempted a jumping photo here and failed miserably. However i loved the fact that we both seem to be under the impression that jumping shot must equal gaping mouth!

If you look closely you can see a seagull flying across the face of the water.

If you look closely you can see a seagull flying across the face of the water.

That's another thing about this country- the emptiness. Hoards of crowds just don't exist!

That’s another thing about this country- the emptiness. Hoards of crowds just don’t exist!

Climbing to the top of Skogafoss was a challenge. A steep 440 steps up and back, but this view- so worth it. literally feels like you are watching water pour into oblivion!

Climbing to the top of Skogafoss was a challenge. A steep 440 steps up and back, but this view- so worth it. Literally feels like you are watching water pour into oblivion!

From skogafoss we continued on down the coast to the first glacier. This incredible ice cap is gradually melting leaving stark contrasts everywhere between ice, water, rocks, grass and volcanic gravel.

From Skogafoss we continued on down the coast to the first glacier. This incredible ice cap is gradually melting leaving stark contrasts everywhere between ice, water, rocks, grass and volcanic gravel.

We clambered off the path ASAP and got to the lake edge and walked along the Lake which afforded us these magnificent reflection views with the added bonus of being completely isolated.

We clambered off the path ASAP and got to the lake edge and walked along the
Lake which afforded us these magnificent reflection views with the added bonus of being completely isolated.

In this shot you can see a little remnant of floating ice. Just the idea that we were so easily accessing a glacier was amazing!

In this shot you can see a little remnant of floating ice. Just the idea that we were so easily accessing a glacier was amazing!

At the end of the lake was the glacier itself. This is right on the edge, a mix of ice and the volcanic gravel, in the silence you could hear it creaking and cracking which was a little intimidating. It was only when we got back up to the path we saw a sign

At the end of the lake was the glacier itself. This is right on the edge, a mix of ice and the volcanic gravel, in the silence you could hear it creaking and cracking which was a little intimidating. It was only when we got back up to the path we saw a sign “do not leave path! Glacier unstable!” Iceland’s protection against idiots like us….

After an incredible day we arrived at the beach town (more like minute village) of Vik. And lo and behold some absolute nutters were surfing!!!!

After an incredible day we arrived at the beach town (more like minute village) of Vik. And lo and behold some absolute nutters were surfing!!!!

Tucked up in our hotel in Vik and set our alarm for 1am in case of NL, even though the forecast was rubbish. We got up at 1 and ummed and ahhed about whether to get out into the freezing night air as we couldn't see anything. Man are we glad we did!

Tucked up in our hotel in Vik and set our alarm for 1am in case of NL, even though the forecast was rubbish. We got up at 1 and ummed and ahhed about whether to get out into the freezing night air as we couldn’t see anything. Man are we glad we did!

Shivering and a lit bit reluctant we went to the beach and thought we saw a glow over the other side of the village so drove over there, where we started getting excited, we could see that just out of the town the lights were starting to dance.

Shivering and a little bit reluctant we went to the beach and thought we saw a glow over the other side of the village so drove over there, where we started getting excited, we could see that just out of the town the lights were starting to dance.

We drove and spent the next hour and a half in complete and utter awe as the heavens danced and we watched on, appalled that we had almost bunked in favour of sleep!!! This night still stands as the most memorable in both our entire lives. We have never felt so overwhelmed to the point of tears at a natural phenomena as Wedid that night.

We drove and spent the next hour and a half in complete and utter awe as the heavens danced and we watched on, appalled that we had almost bunked in favour of sleep!!! This night still stands as the most memorable in both our entire lives. We have never felt so overwhelmed to the point of tears at a natural phenomena as we did that night.

: In the morning we set out from Vik, tired but so happy. Getting back to bed at 4am and feeling every part of my body burning as it thawed out under the duvets meant sleep was a while returning. The ring road around Iceland follows the coast most of the way and these beaches were stunning. This was the morning on Vik's beach. Much nicer in sunlight I must say.

 In the morning we set out from Vik, tired but so happy. Getting back to bed at 4am and feeling every part of my body burning as it thawed out under the duvets meant sleep was a while returning.
The ring road around Iceland follows the coast most of the way and these beaches were stunning. This was the morning on Vik’s beach. Much nicer in sunlight I must say.

As we left Vik, we saw this church. Now I am not a fan of this type of edit. But here I think it highlights two key things really well. 1; this church type is EVERYWHERE, in fact for a population of only 330,000 it seems like they have one church per family. They all look like this and they all have iconic red roofs.

As we left Vik, we saw this church. Now I am not a fan of this type of edit. But here I think it highlights two key things really well. 1; this church type is EVERYWHERE, in fact for a population of only 330,000 it seems like they have one church per family. They all look like this and they all have iconic red roofs.

Ok another aspect of Iceland is the roads. We loved the way this road gently bends and twists nestled between the green hills. Even when nothing else is going on we would stop to marvel at the loveliness of these roads.

Ok another aspect of Iceland is the roads. We loved the way this road gently bends and twists nestled between the green hills. Even when nothing else is going on we would stop to marvel at the loveliness of these roads.

Maybe two hours from Vik (it would have been an hour but we just stop everywhere!) we got to this place. Why is this picture here? As a demonstration of the Icelandic language. So simple,much ease. Not! This and Croatian honestly have been so challenging to even pronounce where we are staying!!!

Maybe two hours from Vik (it would have been an hour but we just stop everywhere!) we got to this place. Why is this picture here? As a demonstration of the Icelandic language. So simple, much ease. Not! This and Croatian honestly have been so challenging to even pronounce where we are staying!!!

However a 45 minute walk/hike with this as a view was not bad. I found it really interesting that types of foliage vary from country to country, some are soft some spiky in an overall way. The flora here is akin to that in NZ, it felt like a winters day hike up Pirongia or something (almost anyway)

However, a 45 minute walk/hike with this as a view was not bad. I found it really interesting that types of foliage vary from country to country, some are soft some spiky in an overall way. The flora here is akin to that in NZ, it felt like a winters day hike up Pirongia or something (almost anyway)

At the end of the climb this was our reward. Commonly referred to as the organ pipe waterfall. Svartifoss (great name huh!) is ringed with these organ pipe basalt rock formations and makes for a phenomenal image!

At the end of the climb this was our reward. Commonly referred to as the organ pipe waterfall. Svartifoss (great name huh!) is ringed with these organ pipe basalt rock formations and makes for a phenomenal image!

After leaving Vatnajokulspjodgardur national park... Seriously that name. Try say it. I dare you. Actually we could patent a drinking game around Icelandic geography. Maybe that can fund our next trip.... Anyway. We reached the edge of the HUGE icecap; Vatnajokull, this has an area of 8,100km squared (our laptop keypad isn't working sorry about the little two missing there). By volume, it's the largest icecap in Europe. WHAAAAT. We stopped many times from many angles to capture this...

After leaving Vatnajokulspjodgardur national park… Seriously that name. Try say it. I dare you. Actually we could patent a drinking game around Icelandic geography. Maybe that can fund our next trip…. Anyway. We reached the edge of the HUGE icecap; Vatnajokull, this has an area of 8,100km squared (our laptop keypad isn’t working sorry about the little two missing there). By volume, it’s the largest icecap in Europe. WHAAAAT. We stopped many times from many angles to capture this…

After a while we saw a few cars parked at the base of some volcanic gravel dunes so we decided to park too. Scrambled over them and what do you know, floating iceberg lake.... Jaw hit the floor. This shot was just as an iceberg broke in half, the crack, splash and gentle crackles and bubbles as it settles is very surreal.

After a while we saw a few cars parked at the base of some volcanic gravel dunes so we decided to park too. Scrambled over them and what do you know, floating iceberg lake…. Jaw hit the floor. This shot was just as an iceberg broke in half, the crack, splash and gentle crackles and bubbles as it settles is very surreal.

A panoramic shot of this phenomenal lake. We were so lucky to have such ideal weather, the blue reflected so beautifully. This was again another highlight (I know this week was basically all highlight), but it was so unexpected and therefore all the more incredible.

A panoramic shot of this phenomenal lake. We were so lucky to have such ideal weather, the blue reflected so beautifully. This was again another highlight (I know this week was basically all highlight), but it was so unexpected and therefore all the more incredible.

Super chuffed selfie. Remember, this blog is basically for us in the future. So sorry for the selfies!

Super chuffed selfie. Remember, this blog is basically for us in the future. So sorry for the selfies!

We left the lake and headed on another four hours of driving around the South east corner of Iceland and started on the eastern fijords just as it started to get to the golden hour. And so we stopped and stopped and stopped. The water and mountains and light.

We left the lake and headed on another four hours of driving around the South east corner of Iceland and started on the eastern fijords just as it started to get to the golden hour. And so we stopped and stopped and stopped. The water and mountains and light.

The black and white edit of this was a bit of a favourite with us.

The black and white edit of this was a bit of a favourite with us.

And again the green and the rocks.

And again the green and the rocks.

Another stop in love with the beautiful reflections

Another stop in love with the beautiful reflections

At the end of one of the fijords we cut inland across the mountains on state highway 1A. This is state highway 1A...

At the end of one of the fijords we cut inland across the mountains on state highway 1A. This is state highway 1A…

As light faded we kept going up and up on this gravel road in our non-4wd. We climbed higher and higher above the clouds and then they cleared directly in front of us and we saw the road bathed in this lovely pink light... Magic.

As light faded we kept going up and up on this gravel road in our non-4wd. We climbed higher and higher above the clouds and then they cleared directly in front of us and we saw the road bathed in this lovely pink light… Magic.

This nights display of the northern lights wasn't as impressive but still amazing!!! To the eye it was a lot greyer rather than greenish. But your camera picks up way more light!

This nights display of the northern lights wasn’t as impressive but still amazing!!! To the eye it was a lot greyer rather than greenish. But your camera picks up way more light!

We made a relatively short trek on Friday only about 4 hours, and on the way we came across a lovely and completely isolated waterfall. This is huge, probably as Hugh as bridal veil falls in the Waikato. And not a soul in sight.

We made a relatively short trek on Friday only about 4 hours, and on the way we came across a lovely and completely isolated waterfall. This is huge, probably as Hugh as bridal veil falls in the Waikato. And not a soul in sight.

We crested over a hill and the landscape changed drastically. Gone were rolling hills, replaced by vast, empty and seemingly endless plane. It was so vast that this blue haze can actually be seen covering the layers of mountains.

We crested over a hill and the landscape changed drastically. Gone were rolling hills, replaced by vast, empty and seemingly endless plane. It was so vast that this blue haze can actually be seen covering the layers of mountains.

: Further on it changes and this ochre colour comes into the foreground. It was a beautiful burnt red colour and contrasted amazingly with the blue skies. Honestly the differences in this country are amazing.

Further on it changes and this ochre colour comes into the foreground. It was a beautiful burnt red colour and contrasted amazingly with the blue skies. Honestly the differences in this country are amazing.

Steam vents on steroids. The smell here, made Rotorua seem like a lavender potpourri bath. This literally had us gagging from the sulphur. And again, Iceland is huge compared to its population, they just don't have the manpower for safety stuff like we do in NZ. This huge, growing steam vent is OUTSIDE of the thin rope which acts as a barrier to the thermal boiling mud pools. It's like the unstable glacier all over. The authorities seem to be under the impression that if you're dumb enough to get yourself hurt its your fault. Fair enough I guess.

Steam vents on steroids. The smell here, made Rotorua seem like a lavender potpourri bath. This literally had us gagging from the sulphur. And again, Iceland is huge compared to its population, they just don’t have the manpower for safety stuff like we do in NZ. This huge, growing steam vent is OUTSIDE of the thin rope which acts as a barrier to the thermal boiling mud pools. It’s like the unstable glacier all over. The authorities seem to be under the impression that if you’re dumb enough to get yourself hurt its your fault. Fair enough I guess.

Five minutes over a hill from the seriously smelly steam vents and we arrived at Myvatn nature baths. Same deal as blue lagoon. EXCEPT: cheaper, incredible views- the pools go right to the edge of the hill and you stare out over the plane seen in the distance, it is also ridiculously uncrowded. When we were in it there was a total of 8 people (U.S. Included) by the time I was dressed and had got the camera from the car it was practically crowded.... Well a few more people anyway. But if you are planning on doing the full loop around Iceland. Don't waste time and money at blue lagoon. Your experience at Myvatn will be just as epic and cheaper.

Five minutes over a hill from the seriously smelly steam vents and we arrived at Myvatn nature baths. Same deal as blue lagoon. EXCEPT: cheaper, incredible views- the pools go right to the edge of the hill and you stare out over the plane seen in the distance, it is also ridiculously uncrowded. When we were in it there was a total of 8 people (us included) by the time I was dressed and had got the camera from the car it was practically crowded…. Well a few more people anyway. But if you are planning on doing the full loop around Iceland. Don’t waste time and money at blue lagoon. Your experience at Myvatn will be just as epic and cheaper.

Ok Saturday we went whale watching!!!! 😮 - Matt gets chronically sea sick. He started off bravely enough....

Ok Saturday we went whale watching!!!! 😮 – Matt gets chronically sea sick. He started off bravely enough….

But after the 3 hours on board we docked and the poor guy was lying dejectedly on the floor! BUT no vomit!!!!! We both had our puffer jackets plus the rest and then donned these huge sleeping bag-esque waterproof onesies and were only just warm enough!

But after the 3 hours on board we docked and the poor guy was lying dejectedly on the floor! BUT no vomit!!!!! We both had our puffer jackets plus the rest and then donned these huge sleeping bag-esque waterproof onesies and were only just warm enough!

The whale watching town of Iceland: Husavik. Stunning in its own way.

The whale watching town of Iceland: Husavik. Stunning in its own way.

Whale tail one! Humpback whale

Whale tail one! Humpback whale

: The back of a Miinki whale. It came so close, right between us and the one other boat out! (icelandic is similar accent to Swedish I think, so hearing

 The back of a Miinki whale. It came so close, right between us and the one other boat out! (icelandic is similar accent to Swedish I think, so hearing “ohhh yaaah, thee Minki vhale” was very funny)

Humpback whale tail against the phenomenal backdrop. This bay we are in is on the rim of the arctic circle. So even though it is the end of summer, that snow is not going anywhere.

Humpback whale tail against the phenomenal backdrop. This bay we are in is on the rim of the arctic circle. So even though it is the end of summer, that snow is not going anywhere.

Safely ashore again we looked out at the growing storm HIGHLY thankful we had booked a morning tour! Despite the brewing storm we decided we would head on a two hour drive for one waterfall....

Safely ashore again we looked out at the growing storm HIGHLY thankful we had booked a morning tour! Despite the brewing storm we decided we would head on a two hour drive for one waterfall….

: Dettifoss. Getting there was a mission, especially when the car kept having flashing lights and alarms saying that we had lost pressure in our tires. When we are on a crazy gravel road on a very open plane with driving wind and horizontal rain. Not ideal. But getting there was so worth it.

 Dettifoss. Getting there was a mission, especially when the car kept having flashing lights and alarms saying that we had lost pressure in our tyres. When we are on a crazy gravel road on a very open plane with driving wind and horizontal rain, not ideal. But getting there was so worth it.

The valley it runs in is a narrow gorge that is carved out of this dead flat plane.

The valley it runs in is a narrow gorge that is carved out of this dead flat plane.

 The most powerful of waterfalls, also where the opening scene from Prometheus is filmed, that crazy otherworldly edge of the world thing. Yep we got that.

The most powerful of waterfalls, also where the opening scene from Prometheus is filmed, that crazy otherworldly edge of the world thing. Yep we got that.

However after the stormy afternoon and evening we woke to a stunning dawn and we decided to head out half an hour to Godafoss.

However after the stormy afternoon and evening we woke to a stunning dawn and we decided to head out half an hour to Godafoss.

Godafoss literally translates to waterfall of the Gods and it is arguably the most beautiful of all waterfalls in Iceland. Add to that a gorgeous dawn and we were loving it!

Godafoss literally translates to waterfall of the Gods and it is arguably the most beautiful of all waterfalls in Iceland. Add to that a gorgeous dawn and we were loving it!

A view from the side as one of the branches rushes below us- and again, no safety precautions. If I had a death wish and wanted to jump in and canoe over the edge I could.

A view from the side as one of the branches rushes below us- and again, no safety precautions. If I had a death wish and wanted to jump in and canoe over the edge I could.

We left Husavik behind and drove to the only other

We left Husavik behind and drove to the only other “city” in Iceland. Akureyri has a population of 17,000. Cambridge in the Waikato, has 19,000. Just as a comparison. After Reykjavik, this is the next biggest metropolitan area- and it’s about 4-5 hours from Akureyri to Reykjavik with not a lot in between. Except this. An hour plus out of Akureyri and we spot a house in a huge valley…

We parked up and slipped and climbed our way down the steep gravel embankments- the view up the valley as we are approaching the house.

We parked up and slipped and climbed our way down the steep gravel embankments- the view up the valley as we are approaching the house.

Up close we can see it is completely abandoned. In winter this place would have been come tell cut off.

Up close we can see it is completely abandoned. In winter this place would have been come tell cut off.

We went up and peered in and it was eerie. Peeling paint and rotting wood but still evident was that it was a home. Other rooms had radiators, beds with failed mattresses, light bulbs dangling from the roof.

We went up and peered in and it was eerie. Peeling paint and rotting wood but still evident was that it was a home. Other rooms had radiators, beds with failed mattresses, light bulbs dangling from the roof.

Another window showed closer into the kitchen, an empty tin sitting on the bench. Already feeling isolated in this valley so far from anywhere we couldn't get over how anyone could choose to live this cut off from society.

Another window showed closer into the kitchen, an empty tin sitting on the bench. Already feeling isolated in this valley so far from anywhere we couldn’t get over how anyone could choose to live this cut off from society.

The whole time I had no idea why matt kept laughing, he didn't tell me I hadn't quite managed to squish my bun into my hood. It was only on our climb back to the car he took this shot.

The whole time I had no idea why Matt kept laughing, he didn’t tell me I hadn’t quite managed to squish my bun into my hood. It was only on our climb back to the car he took this shot.

Our last day in Iceland we took a 3 1/2 hour detour for one photo. On the way however we passed this. Volcanic rock covered in moss and different colours competing for the same space. Even on a grey dreary day this was beautiful.

Our last day in Iceland we took a 3 1/2 hour detour for one photo. On the way however we passed this. Volcanic rock covered in moss and different colours competing for the same space. Even on a grey dreary day this was beautiful.

The final photo. The detour. Clouds and rain notwithstanding Kirkjufell cannot fail but to impress. It is an iconic mountain that goes up and down so sharply. The little waterfall in front as seen in countless other photos, makes for wonderful composition! From Kirkjufell we drive the 2 and a bit hours back to the airport, and found for the first time a place we desperately wanted to come back to before we even left.

The final photo. The detour. Clouds and rain notwithstanding Kirkjufell cannot fail but to impress. It is an iconic mountain that goes up and down so sharply. The little waterfall in front as seen in countless other photos, makes for wonderful composition!

From Kirkjufell we drove the 2 and a bit hours back to the airport, and found for the first time a place we desperately wanted to come back to before we even left.

If you have made it to the end I congratulate you!!!! This was long I know. But these are the memories we never want to forget. If you have looked at all these photos, you will hopefully feel more inclined to visit. And trust us when we say no photo will ever do this land of fire and ice justice. It is one country you have to experience to believe.

Next blog will be shorter I promise!!!

Zürich, Amsterdam, Paris. Three countries, nine days.

amsterdam, nikon, paris, photography, tourist, Travel, zurich

We had a rather flighty couple of weeks in September travelling between these different beautiful cities. Arriving firstly in Switzerland from Turkey, the key thing we noticed was the temperature drop!
But we spent a wonderful 2 nights/3days in Zurich. The city itself although beautiful and exuding wealth and safety didn’t excite us ,massively. But the people, so unbelievably helpful, the scenery phenomenally stunning, and the chocolate- unbearably delicious.

Dusk on the day we arrived in Zurich

Dusk on the day we arrived in Zurich

Sunrise

Sunrise

Probably our highlight from this trip was heading to the gescultung art gallery which had an exhibition of Steve mccurry. Most famous for his portrait of the “afghan girl”, we spent an incredible morning in awe admiring, reading, watching this master of capturing people, leaving both inspired and mildly dejected at his awesomeness.
We found the most amazing Swiss chocolatier Ladèrach. 2 days running we went for chocolate here. They most definitely focus on quality over quantity as the quality is phenomenal and the quantity appalling and yet still so worth it.
Probably the highlight of Zürich were our airbnb hosts Dinesh and Tina an Indian couple doing post grad study here. They were not only super friendly and helpful but cooked us the most delicious Indian meal.

Zurich at night

Zurich at night

We left Switzerland for Amsterdam and one of the most exciting times of our trip, we had arranged to have the weekemd in Amsterdam with two of the coolest humans on the planet- Taf (matts best friend from almost 20 years ago) and his wifey Laurie.Spending a holiday weekend with here two was everything we had dreamed of.

Beautiful streets of Amsterdam

Beautiful streets of Amsterdam

Canal + Bike + flowers = Amsterdam

Canal + Bike + flowers = Amsterdam

One of our apartments balconies overlooking the canal

One of our apartments balconies overlooking the canal

We ate (mostly) good food, laughed a lot, were appalled at the state of our apartment (it was filthy!!! Booooooo!), cruised the canals, explored the beautiful city of Amsterdam, went cheese tasting over and over and over and sat on the edge of a canal drinking from the bottle laughing hysterically.
It was a beautiful weekend that we could not have wanted to go better.
Taf and Laurie flew out Sunday evening and we had an extra day before taking a train from Amsterdam, through Belgium to Paris.

Bikes at Night

Bikes at Night

Canal by night

Canal by night

Bridge by night

Bridge by night

Paris was a 2 night flying visit, with a definite highlight of chez nous, a wine bar suggested by our hosts. After a day of torrential rain we went into town for an early dinner at chez nous and arrived at this tiny wine bar about 6pm, sitting at the bar we were served by the most lovely knowledgable (British) waiter, bringing us different wines to try and the at incredible cheese and cold meat platters. It was a delicious and wonderfully French Experience (French experience minus the Brit waiter) when we left just after 7.30, there were people both in and out of the bar waiting for bench space inside. Pricey, yes. Popular, hugely. When we walked out, the rain had passed and we walked the streets watching the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower. A truly beautiful evening.
In all honesty Paris didn’t probably receive our greatest attention, it came after London, Rome, Istanbul, zürich and Amsterdam, all with equally stunning and impressive history and architecture.
Sometimes you need to allow yourself to be travelled out. Unfortunately Paris therefore did not really make us “wow”. However it didn’t mean we didn’t love taking some photos….

What i left of the lock bridge

What is left of the lock bridge

The Louvre

The Louvre

Parisian skyline

Parisian skyline

The Eiffel tower.

The Eiffel tower.

The last bit of this trip was to take the Eurostar back to London.
I love trains. Like really really love trains, this was such an exciting aspect for me. And yep, I know you just go through a tunnel but come on!!! You leave France and the quaint French countryside and arrive in ENGLAND. It’s just awesome.
However what was interesting was that not once did we have our passports even looked at between Switzerland and English border control. They’re wasn’t any form of border control to go through! No idea how that happened.

Anyway last thoughts:

Public transport cards, definitely the best way of getting around and when you have mastered a public transport system you feel so satisfied. There are nearly always supporting apps and if you combine that with the mapping app Mapsme you are away laughing! The public transport cards can be pricey, but it is really really useful if you don’t have to worry about getting tickets for the bus/train/tram/metro/ferry. And lastly air BnB has been by far the best part of our trip, we aren’t that interested in meeting other travellers wherever we are but we do want to meet other people who love to travel. This way we meet incredible locals who each contribute something unique to our experience of their culture. So if you are looking into a trip. Airbnb, for any budget, is by far the best way staying.

Until Iceland is done- peace out. X

Turkish delights… And the not so delightful

europe, photography, Travel, Turkey, wanderlust

With 8 days in which to see Turkey we had to make some decisions. If you are visiting this country there are some must sees. The trouble is, the must sees are all very far apart, can be expensive and can also cause some issues to get to. So we had to make a call, this trip focused on the western coast of Turkey. Actually our Turkey trip started a couple of days before leaving the UK when on checking in for our flight I discovered I had booked my ticket in my married name. My passport is in my maiden name…. With much phone call and many frustration i realised I had to suck it up and buy a new ticket which I did. But on a different airline leaving from a different London airport going to the opposite side of Istanbul.

So Matt and I said goodbye in St. Albans at 9 am on a rainy Monday morning and finally met up at 10pm at our air BnB apartment in Istanbul.

An evening at our hosts house (Dundar and Sharry)

An evening at our hosts house (Dundar and Sharry)

Istanbul note… The Istanbul card for the public transport is by far the best option of getting around the city. Fast, easy, cheap and pretty much within walking distance of most places. Our Tuesday in Istanbul started with a walk to Taksim Square. Just 10 minutes we thought, but oh the heat and oh the HILLS (mountains really), annnnnd the sense of direction so we decided we wouldn’t do the walk again. From Taksim it was straightforward to get to Eminonu which has the spice market and the grand bazaar.

A row of spices in the market

A row of spices in the market

These places are amazing and definitely worth a visit. We loved it. Another Istanbul note, majority of stuff in the grand bazaar can be found just outside in any of the streets for ALOT cheaper.

Beautiful lamps in the Grand Bazaar

Beautiful lamps in the Grand Bazaar

Phone photo in the bazaar

Phone photo in the bazaar

We walked 13kms around Istanbul.  This included going to the blue mosque, which was an amazing experience.

Dressed and ready for the mosque.

Dressed and ready for the mosque.

Th Mosque from the outside

Th Mosque from the outside

We also managed to get lost and found in some very very non touristy places with lovely children.

Beautiful girl with solemn eyes

Beautiful girl with solemn eyes

Hanging washing high up in the streets outside of "tourist Istanbul"

Hanging washing high up in the streets outside of “tourist Istanbul”

Mother and Baby, both shy but open and warm

Mother and Baby, both shy but open and warm

This little boy on some steps alone, showing off his toy gun

This little boy on some steps alone, showing off his toy gun

We ate some phenomenal ice cream from the funniest ice cream man ever, and generally just enjoyed ourselves.

Ice cream man knows how to pose with his own portrait

Ice cream man knows how to pose with his own portrait

The Ice cream show which made me laugh so very hard

The Ice cream show which made me laugh so very hard

We had planned to go to Selçuk the next day but still had not sorted out how, so we booked a bus for the following morning only then realising we needed to be on a 6am metro to get to the bus station for the trip, which turned out to be a 11 hour bus journey.

The completely empty metro station just before 6am. The most empty moment in Turkey

The completely empty metro station just before 6am. The most empty moment in Turkey

Matthew as a Packhorse on an almost empty train

Matthew as a Packhorse on an almost empty train

This I would not recommend unless it’s super cheap. The service and seats are comfy enough, but a bus journey during the day feels like such a waste! Especially when we paid about $40NZD each. Anyway we made it to Selçuk and to our surprise where greeted by our air BnB host, retired Turkish wrestler, local person of some renowned; Tekin. Honestly air BnB is the way to go when travelling.  It really was like staying at a mates place, only one we had just met. Tekin took us home and fed us Turkish coffee and some of his home made fig marmalade. So I hate figs, and marmalade, but this stuff is incredible! We went out to his friends restaurant for dinner, that happens to be listed in the top 100 in Turkey. Tekin informed us he thought might be a bit of an expensive meal, but we ate far too much of what was easily our best meal in Turkey! We paid a total of about $24NZD for two people, breads and dip, mains, drinks, and tea afterwards (the tea is a given you pretty much have to drink it)!

The best pile of salads ever.

The best pile of salads ever.

Matt loving the food

Matt loving the food

The morning after, we began our day with Tekin feeding us the most bizarre and phenomenal breakfast.

Breakfast for three

Breakfast for three

He arranged all our transport for our trip further on down the coast, this made such a huge difference as we spoke solely two phrases in Turkish by now “teh sheh ku ederem” which is thank you, and “mashala” which means lovely. Neither of which is great for a conversation on buying bus tickets really. Though you could be very appreciative I guess. Anyway, Tekin took us up the coast and back leaving us at a beautiful beach where we spent four hours swimming, dozing, eating sunflower seeds and icecream, and then more swimming.

Had a lot of fun playing in the water

Had a lot of fun playing in the water

The view at our empty beach!

The view at our empty beach!

It was a much needed pause button and one we were both quite happy to endure. From the beach, Tekin took us to the ancient town of Ephesus (efes) which was really the reason we had come to selcuk. It is worth noting that going in the evening is definately worth it. We got there at 5, two hours before it the ticket vendors shut their windows. Not only did we have way less crowds, but also beautiful lighting and a much nicer temperature. The city itself is amazing, words cannot describe what it is like to walk the streets of a city who’s bones and structure are still so much intact.

The beauty of the roads still intact

The beauty of the roads still intact

Pillars and light

Pillars and light

Tunnels under the arena

Tunnels under the arena

The incredible library

The incredible library

On the main drag of Ephesus

On the main drag of Ephesus

The view into the distance is incredible

The view into the distance is incredible

On the steps of the arena

On the steps of the smaller arena

Columns still intat

Columns still intact

Tekin put us back on the bus the following day, for our shortish (3hour) bus trip to the town of Bodrum, which we avoided exploring by going straight to the cruise port. We caught the ferry over to the Greek Island of Kos (see previous blog for our experiences there) and spent a full on couple of days there, apart from spending time with the refugees we also managed to fit in a couple of swims and even go kayaking.

Greek views. Mediterranean seas.

Greek views. Mediterranean seas.

Kayaking winning

Kayaking winning

Best way of getting around Kos is by bike/moped, cheap to hire for a day and gives you the freedom to get to the places you want. We got the ferry back to Bodrum on the Sunday morning but honestly could not face an entire day of bussing back to Istanbul, so we booked tickets and flew up, in 50 minutes… Arriving back to Istanbul and the same air BnB flat (we loved it that much) in time for dinner.

View from the apartment

View from the apartment

If you have the money, flying in Turkey is by far the best way of getting around long distances. Just a side note, dinner consisted of an incredibly delicious kebab absolutely stuffed with chicken, hot chips and sliced tomato for about $2! Our last full day in Turkey was Monday and we made it a full one indeed. We left the house early and went back to the markets to buy things. Namely Turkish delight (2 kilograms of it!), and tea oh the tea… I had bought some on the previous visit a blend I chose of mint leaves and ginger and oh my word best tea of my existence. Only I left it in Selçuk , little bit more than devastated, so we bought more of the same (quite a bit more)! Another Istanbul note, there are a lot of expensive restaurants in obvious places but wander the back streets for a bit and you end up with some cheap and cheery options, a regular occurrence is stands filled with rice chickpeas and chicken on top.

Couldn't wait to eat so this is half way through. So delicious.

Couldn’t wait to eat so this is half way through. So delicious.

For less than $2 you can get a plate of this (topped with tomato sauce) and I know It sounds weird but oh man it is really really good. Also men with different types of fruit on the street, we found a man selling cucumbers the size of a fist which he peeled and quartered for next to nothing.

Anyway, we had booked in for a Turkish bath at an old hamam that takes couples together. Definitely an experience not to be missed, however I somehow hadn’t registered just what was involved. The initial part of it involved sitting in a sauna type room with marble slabs to lie on.

Inside the Hammam

Inside the Bath outer room

Inside of a minute I could see a sheen of sweat and after another minute I was seeing little drops of sweat, which rapidly became little rivers of sweat. All. Over. Thighs, feet, scalp, eyelids. Everywhere was sweaty. 40 degrees of intense humidity and I was ready to pass out, and just when you can no longer take it your masseuse comes in and you get doused in cold sweet water. Then exfoliated, then watered, then huge foamy soapy lathered, then massaged, then rinsed, then massaged. Neither of us have ever felt that clean and incredible in our lives.

In our newly relaxed state we wandered back to the waterfront and hoped on a 2 hour Bosphorus cruise, yes it was beautiful and also relaxing in a completely different way. By 6 pm we were making our way home and had a wonderful evening doing absolutely nothing in a home away from home. Turkey was wonderful, it isn’t exactly European but it’s not NOT European either. It is somewhere you definitely need to experience for yourself. On that note, off to Switzerland for a couple of days.

Kos- tourists, refugees, anything but harmony

europe, greece, kos, migration, refugees, syria

I’m going to be honest. Being away from NZ the last few months has meant we have been kind of out of touch with news and what’s occurring. We knew there were issues with refugees, and we were aware that it was an issue in Kos. In the last few days seeing the global voice on this issue, and then being here amongst it, has been overwhelming to say the least.

The castle in Kos, backs onto the port, this was sprayed on the door of the castle.

The castle in Kos, backs onto the port, this was sprayed on the door of the castle.

We arrived here yesterday for 2 days of beach and sun and nothing else, however from the exit of the port the tent city begins, tents and cardboard lining the road and the beach.

The beginning of the tents, tourists seem to walk by with no glances at those around

The beginning of the tents, tourists seem to walk by with no glances at those around

Cardboard beach hut in downtown Kos town.

Cardboard beach hut in downtown Kos town.

Two children walk down a normally clean and empty boulevard now lined with tents.

Children walk down a normally clean and empty boulevard now lined with tents.

The situation these people are in just blew my mind. So today we hired a scooter and went back into the city, to talk and to see what could be done.

We said hi to a family from Syria and through the single family member with some English learned a bit of their story. The whole family had fled in dribs and drabs from Syria, this detachment’s matriarch was sharing a pair of childens croc shoes with a man.

A Syrian woman wearing all she now possesses.

A Syrian woman wearing all she now possesses.

It was all they had, they had made it to Turkey with euros, clothes, belongings and passports, expecting to get a sizeable boat, however in the night they described men with guns that they called “mafia” taking everything from them and shoving them into tiny boats, the men with guns then took infants and threw them off the boats.  The one I took to be her daughter had her three children still with her, however the grandson who was around three had recently had open heart surgery and according to a recent check-up, in two weeks time he needs surgery again upon his “battery” (whether he has a battery in his chest or this is how they describe his heart we are unsure) or he is likely to die.

The little boy proudly showing off his scars from surgery not aware how serious his situation is.

The little boy proudly showing off his scars from surgery not aware how serious his situation is.

His father, her husband is in Germany, she is stuck in limbo with her three babies and a very severe deadline hanging over them.

Men scanning lists at the police station, hunting for names on the list/

Men scanning lists at the police station, hunting for names on the list/

The crowds pressed at the police station, everyone was clamouring to be heard, people scanning the lists, looking for their names,a policeman we spoke to had come from Athens, his group were there as protection for the police station as they were attempting to avoid rioting.

Crowds of refugees swamping a car offering aid. Tourists turning a blind eye.

Crowds of refugees swamping a car offering aid. Tourists turning a blind eye.

Any aid that is getting through is absolutely swamped. Those dolling out supplies from a car could only have the window down a crack as people attempted to get help.

Onwards we encountered two men from Afghanistan and their daughters, both wished to not be named or have their photo taken, but they were well dressed and one of them with impeccable English. He had left his home, job and life in Kabul for such a risky mission and with a 1 year old baby tells enough of the situation. However both baby girls were clean, beautiful, smiley and chatty.

The most beautiful little Afghani girl. Her smile and her eyes were just so lovely.

The most beautiful little Afghani girl. Her smile and her eyes were just so lovely.

Despite their situation they are being loved and cared for. The kids are still kids, they all want to play, the fact they are playing with and among discarded life jackets is a sign of what has occurred.

A little girl throwing rocks into the water amidst deserted life jackets.

A little girl throwing rocks into the water amidst deserted life jackets.

Yes it is a grim situation, but these people have hope that where they are going to is better than where they have been. This in-between time, is just that, in-between.  We- in the west are on the end of their hope, these people desperately need to be allowed to go somewhere they can begin to put roots down, not into a waiting camp for temporary residence where they will grow old and die.

The mother Matriach was beyond happy with her pair of Crocs.

The mother Matriach was beyond happy with her pair of Crocs.

The men all wanted to have their photo taken with Matt. Us being there seemed like the happiest situation for them..

The men all wanted to have their photo taken with Matt. Us being there seemed like the happiest situation for them..

We bought what we could and were only made more aware of how much more could be done. Some shoes, some food and water, but what they need is safe passage and a home. They loved that we came and asked them about their lives, they were open and warm, they invited us to share a meal with them. I have never been so humbled as when a people displaced and abandoned wants you to share in the extremely little they have.

This is just our take on the situation- but being here,experiencing this is not something we will forget, yet this is their life not just a two day experience.

One side of the beach- deserted and strewn with life jackets and rubbish...

One side of the beach- deserted and strewn with life jackets and rubbish…

On the other side of the tiny jetty... Umbrellas ad bikinis and blind eyes.

On the other side of the tiny jetty… Umbrellas ad bikinis and blind eyes.

Rome the Magnificent

Uncategorized

Roma! I have sat down to write this three times now and each time I end up getting side tracked. Big surprise guys, but travelling means your just as busy as ever. So alas, attempt number 4!

At the end of July we spent four incredible days in Rome, the city of history, romance and pizza. We arrived off the back of Croatia, which although wonderful was a little disappointing in terms of expectation verses reality. I think because of this, we were anticipating a similar situation in Rome, where our hopes for a quaint old Rome would be met with disappointment that it was just a normal crowded European city. BUT, fear not! From the moment we stepped off the bus it was like we had walked into every fantasy of Rome you have ever had- complete with red and white check tablecloths, old ornate buildings and men with slicked back hair drinking tiny cups of espresso. Just around the corner from our apartment was a little cafe were we thought we asked for menus but instead somehow ordered a three course meal, well at least we had one served to us. When the first plate arrived we looked down to see spaghetti and tomato sauce and that was it, so not normally what I would order, however it smelt pretty amazing so we tucked in and OH. MY. GOODNESS. best pasta of my life, I can’t even begin to describe how cheated we are in the UK and NZ with the pitiful excuses for pasta sauce we know. This has no cheese, no added salt and pepper, no veges or meat but was SO delicious.  After an elongated meal we went exploring.

Piazza Navona including artwork- a rare moment snapped between people roaming through our photo!

Piazza Navona including artwork- a rare moment snapped between people roaming through our photo!


Frances and I having a very flattering caricature done....

Frances and I having a very flattering caricature done….

It took us about 10 minutes to walk down to Piazza Navona, where we encountered amazing gelato, including Viagra flavour. The piazza appears to just be a kind of street market festival, music and dancing and performers and artwork dealers all in the shadow of these incredible buildings.

The beautiful streets that we wandered through.

The beautiful streets that we wandered through.

Further on we came to the Pantheon from behind. The back side of the building caused Frances and I to get extremely excited and the further around this magnificent structure we went the more excited and more silent we became.

The Pantheon from behind- amazing in its own way

The Pantheon from behind- amazing in its own way

It is beyond belief. Rebuilt multiple times, the existing one dates back to roman times. There are some things you encounter which make you go “huh, I always imagined you as bigger, more imposing” and there are others, like the pantheon which make you just stop and freak out about how huge and how magnificent it is.  It was about this point that we begin to get this sense that at the height of the Roman Empire, the awe and the power and the absolute control this empire weilded must have been overwhelming. The fall of Rome must have seemed completely impossible.

Inside of the Pantheon- the famous whole in the ceiling.

Inside of the Pantheon- the famous whole in the ceiling.


The Pantheon with Horse and Cart.

The Pantheon with Horse and Cart.

On Sunday morning Matt and I got up at dawn (5am ish) and went back to the places we had been yesterday and fell in love. The city was still and warm and the huge buildings seemed even bigger without anyone else around. The whole city was empty and the empty streets made the reality of its history seem more tangible, no one taking selfies or driving mopeds to remind you you’re in the 21st century. You can almost convince yourself a roman centurion might march past, or if not that then a monk hurrying away.

Dawn street in summer Rome

Dawn street in summer Rome


Dawn at the Pantheon, no-one in sight.

Dawn at the Pantheon, no-one in sight.


Dawn across the Tiber to St. Peters.

Dawn across the Tiber to St. Peters.


Dawn at Piazza Navona

Dawn at Piazza Navona


Piazza Navona again

Piazza Navona again

After the hour or so wondering alone we made it back to the apartment and back to bed. In the afternoon we went over to the colosseum for a tour. The contrast was striking, the walk across the city was absolutely packed with people and it was impossible to not know you were in a hub of tourism. We made it to our tour and honestly were so thankful we had sucked up our pride and booked a tour guide. The information and knowledge he had just made the colosseum that much more real.

The Colosseum...

The Colosseum…


Frances and I at the Colosseum

Frances and I at the Colosseum

Tagged in at the end of the tour was the Roman Forum. If you get to Rome, this is the coolest, do not miss it! It’s a sunken archeological site of roman ruins, but not only that, it has buildings from the renaissance period with layers upon layers, the builders used whatever they could find, statues, marble, brick all together to form the foundation of the buildings they constructed. The forum is steeped in history as it is also the place that Julius Caesar was cremated as well as the place of formal addresses, those like Marc Antony’s infamous speech.

The view down into the Roman Forum

The view down into the Roman Forum


AN incredible Temple, with steps down showing the depth of change

AN incredible Temple, with steps down showing the depth of change

The following day we got up early (again) and investigated the Vatican and St. Peter’s basilica. This place made me realise two things, firstly exactly why the initial reformation happened: the gold, the glamour the and beauty of the place felt more like being in an ornate temple in Thailand than a church.  Those who broke away, declaring that surely this was idolatry kind of had a point.  However the sheer awe and grandeur and respect that came from a place that magnificent made me think that the awe-inspiring aspect of church and God may have been lost somewhat in the move away from Catholicism.  Whatever view point it was amazing to visit, and SO worth.  Getting there for 7am, being in the cavernous halls with barely anyone there except priests and nuns in their morning rituals of worship was an incredible calming experience.

Nun's taking a photo of one another at the basilica

Nun’s taking a photo of one another at the basilica


Inside one of the lesser domes

Inside one of the lesser domes


The dawn  view from St. Peters

The dawn view from St. Peters

There was this one cafe we went to where I just decided to order want the waiter recommended. Turned out he recommended the spinach, cabbage and walnut pasta. Mmmmm yum. I ordered it despite feeling like I might be wasting a precious meal in Italy but also thinking if it was terrible I would just have a second lunch! However, he turns up with these 5 huge, homemade raviolis stuffed with spinach and ricotta coated in this incredible white sauce with red cabbage and walnut chopped through it. It was literally the most insanely surprisingly delicious thing I have ever had. So chuffed on his recommendation I asked him for whatever his favourite desert was. If ever you need multiple deserts a day it is in Italy. And yet again, bingo. The most perfect unreal panna cotta with a salted caramel treacly sauce. I wish I could cook like Italians.

On Monday night, facing our last night in Italy we walked to a pizza place that serves you pizza by weight, they have rows of pizzas and you just ask for however much you like and it’s a chop, weigh and pay process. Who knew mozzarella and zucchini flower was such a great combination. I swear I ate more on this trip than I thought possible- but it was so so worth it.

For our last night we had planned a trip to the phenomenal Trevvi fountain (via the Lindt shop which we found by accident. Bad accident: Well for wallets and waistlines anyway.)

The Lindt shop. so many choice. so much sugar.

The Lindt shop. so many choice. so much sugar.

We walked a good 4 or 5km to the fountain and arrived about 10:30 equipped with tripod and camera for some cool night shots- One of our closest friends has got some UNREAL photos here and we were excited to try our hand. However it was under re-construction. Mildly underwhelming to say the least. Our photos were non-existent. However you have to laugh- not a lot else you can do really.

Our last day in Rome consisted of more food and wandering- revelling in the fact we were in Rome.

This city leaves an impression. A distinct contrast between old and new. I mean way more than normal. This city can’t have new undergrounds built because there are metres of archaeological sites potentially all over the city. Every place you go you can see signs and markers to a different time. The city itself is kind of stuck here- it revels in the history it possesses and perfects the things they already do well, but I don’t know if it’s going forward in anyway? What will the future hold for Rome? Or will Rome itself also become part of the history it so evidently displays? Whatever the future, I can’t wait to go back and hopefully see more of Italy. Until next time- Arrivederci.

Honest Croatia; Hot, crowded and unequivocally beautiful

Adriatic, Croatia, photography, Travel, wanderlust

So after 5 weeks away only now are we getting round to updating a blog.

For those of you who are unbearably excited to read about every minute of our existence while we are away, I deeply apologize. The problem is, what occurs in England is not an exciting adventure. Despite being on the opposite side of the world- (not exactly but close enough) this country feels like home when we are here. Therefore a blog on England covers: We saw our friends, they are awesome. Maybe at some other point we will post up a proper one about the UK, but not today.

This post really aims to cover our experience in Croatia. First things first….

Croatia is no longer the “hidden” gem of the Adriatic!

As much as it pains me to say it, I was pretty gutted with the crazy number of people.

Around the car from front left: Matt, Lauren, Frances, Hannah, Mirko

Around the car from front left: Matt, Lauren, Frances, Hannah, Mirko

Admittedly we were there in July (dumb ass move number 1), and we were wanting to see all the places everyone else wanted to see (dumb ass move number 2). But despite that, I had to say I was really surprised by the sheer volume of people. Anyway- even though we were overwhelmed with people we made a pretty good go of it, we had our best friend Frances all the way from NZ with us along with her best friend and partner- so together we made a band of 5.

We met up in Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia arriving straight from a standard English summer (Rain, clouds and below 20 degrees….) into a record breaking heat wave!

Dubrovnik Old town

Old town of Dubrovnik

Cable car that climbs the side of the mountain

Cable car that climbs the side of the mountain

 

The old town and the city itself were wonderful, it was beautiful and you could see the history of the place., the ocean was amazing- everything you ever dreamed of for a Mediterranean sea and then some.

 

On Lokrum Island

Abandoned Monastery On Lokrum Island

We took some time to go and explore a close by island (Lokrum), which had abandoned monasteries, olive groves and salt water lakes.

Inside an empty fort the spiral stairs were still beautiful

Inside an empty fort the spiral stairs were still beautiful

We went from Dubrovnik up the coast to our next stopping place Split. Now split was cool; brilliant night life and some great ‘sights,’ but it is really just a big coastal city. We found two towns either side (both less than half an hour), that were magical and we wished we had stayed there instead!

 

  1. On the southern side is a town called Omis.

Omis mountains

The view from the road that descends into the town of Omis

The view from the road that descends into the town of Omis

Here there are these huge mountains that meet a tiny bit of flat land which is where the town is. There was a beautiful beach, leafy avenues and a breathtaking view.

 

  1. To the north, is Trogir.

A UNESCO world heritage sight it has started featuring in famous articles/blogs about its ‘un-famousness’ which means it is sure to become more touristy in the future. But at the time of this visit, the town was a real delight and would have loved to spend more time there.

Trogir Sunset Old Trogir

Behind the beautiful facade of the town- there is a simple and lovely exterior.

Behind the beautiful facade of the town- there is a simple and lovely exterior.

 

 

Excessively Narrow with high stone walls

Excessively Narrow with high stone walls

Split itself had one of the coolest night time vibes. Diocletians palace and the waterfront absolutely buzzed with an awesome open air bar kinda thing. Definitely a highlight.

Built in 4th Century as a retirement for a Roman Emperor- it now has a buzzing night life

Built in 4th Century as a retirement for a Roman Emperor- it now has a buzzing night life

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes, the empty night in a crowded place.

 

The third stop we made was up to the Plitvice National Park. If you have heard of Croatia you have heard of this park- and for good reason. Without a shadow of a doubt was unbelievable.
However the day before we had been to Krka national park (yes I did spell it correctly…). Here we found it cost us 110kuna each to enter (about $25NZD) and to be completely honest the tracks were absolutely crowded, its a 2km loop (very small) and the waterfalls although beautiful, lacked the impressive nature we had been expecting.The one thing that Krka had apart from Plitvice was the ability to swim in the main lake. Along with everyone else in Croatia. This had initially been the biggest draw card, but in actual fact with so many people swimming, the edges o the waterhole were just solid mud and it is clear to see the degradation occurring.

DCIM100GOPRO

Waterhole at Krka

The swimming hole

The swimming hole

So needless to say the expectation of Plitvice had been lowered exponentially- and that wasn’t helped when we waited 45 minutes to even get into the park.

However, there is just no comparison between the two. Where Krka was overcrowded and a little bit on the unimpressive side, even with thousands of people the vast Plitvice lakes still left you feeling like you were one of a few. The lakes and waterfalls were just stunning and the fact that no swimming is allowed was actually a bonus as everything is so pristine. There are a selection of tracks to choose and the 8km one we chose took just over 3 hours and was so so worth it.

The classic shot of the board walk from above

The classic shot of the board walk from above

Clouds rolling in and still amazing

Clouds rolling in and still amazing

Still and blue

Still and blue

The water was so so SO blue

The water was so so SO blue

Plitive  lakes 1

The unbelievable entrance to the lakes

We had booked accommodation not far from the lakes, but it was far enough away for us to get our first and only glimpse of the real Croatia. We stayed in the tiny village of Saborsko with a host couple (AirBnB for the win!) who had little English but had good German, and luckily Mirko, was German. They couldn’t have been more helpful and the untouristified village was what we had wanted the whole time.

In summary: Over the week we spent our car clocked a whopping 40.5 degrees!

Lauren ordered a side small fish…which may have got lost in translation

A"Small fish" side

Matt and Mirko also took it upon themselves to order Jumbo Pizzas…

Matt and Mirko's giant pizzas

Matt and Mirko’s giant pizzas

Overall we spent a full 6 days in Croatia, we loved it and would definitely go back, but were also pleased to leave. If you consider going- definitely DO! Just do NOT go in peak season.

 

Looks like Rome will have to wait till next time.

Wanderlust begins

photography, Travel, wanderlust

This blog is aiming to keep you who care about our travels up to date (which is funny- because I doubt we will be up to date with posting!)

I thought I would start with a little bit about who we are and what we are doing for the next few months.

Myself Hannah and Husband Matt have a love of photography, and over the last while as we have started working professionally- shooting weddings, birthdays, events and families we have felt “busy” with photos. There is always shooting or editing happening in our lives, and we realised we were forgetting just how much we love seeing this incredible world around us, through a lens.

We also both share the common travel bug that most people pick up at one time or another- so while all our dear friends have beautiful babies, fantastic careers and buy wonderful houses we are combining these two passions and taking our cameras and going on a wee adventure

This blog will document our trip- beginning in a couple of days, hopefully with some photos as we make our way from home in New Zealand, through Morocco, Iceland, Turkey, Peru and anywhere in between. Though we are excited about the places we will go, the things we will see, we will not forget the wonderful country that we call home.

Come Journey with us-

If you don’t know New Zealand- it is amazingly beautiful- take a trip and come visit! below are a few of the beautiful places around our home!

Te Mata Peak Manu bay Raglan Golden View over the DivvyLove Raglan  Waikato Winter Fog

If you want to see more of our photos you can check our facebook page: www.facebook.com/mhbeamesphotography.com 

Hannah

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