Muriwai Beach

On the 12th of February Anna and I spent a beautiful sunset at Muriwai beach.  Muriwai beach is about an hour drive west of Auckland. 

Muriwai  Muriwai 2

At the southern end of the beach is a massive Australasian Gannet colony that you can walk right up to along a well maintained path.  Just prepare for an overwhelming fishy smell!

Gannet Colony 1  Gannet Colony 2

And then there was the gorgeous sunset!

Muriwai Sunset  Muriwai Sunset 2


The wedding, the big move from Auckland to Dunedin, and starting new projects pushed the blogging priority down to the bottom of the list.

But we have finally finished updating the posts about our trips to America.
Once Dan finishes blogging about Fiji, we will no longer be blog-blocked!

Hopefully we will still manage to explore new areas of the south island soon and post more photos.


July 23rd & 24th - Toilet-less in Seattle

It was Dan's 3-day-weekend in Oregon, so we were off to the city that's famous for its seafood and chick-flicks - Seattle!
We got up early on 23rd July 2010 and drove for a few hours to Seattle. The weather was incredible and we were both as excited as monkeys with a big basket full of bananas.

The first stop for us was Woodland Park Zoo. We read that they had snow leopards there so we didn't think twice about spending some decent hours taking photos of those beautiful creatures.

Then we arrived at our hotel - The Mediterranean Inn Hotel. Seattle hotels were all quite costly (compared to what I usually look for = $100 per night) so when I found this place for about $250 for 2 nights, I was sold.
It was already getting late, so we left our hotel room in a search for a good seafood restaurant. Most of the famous restaurants seemed to be fully booked, so we asked Lonley Planet and headed over to Queen City Grill. Thankfully they had one table available, so we raced over to browse through their menu.
For appetizers I got "Penn Cove Manila Clams" $12, and Dan got the Soup of the Day $4. The clams were perfectly cooked, and the combination of tomato, vermouth, and clams was just ingenious.
For mains we ordered "Grilled Alaskan King Salmon" $27 and "Fresh Rainbow Trout" $17. They were both incredible. We left the restaurant completely satisfied.

Next day we needed to do everything that Seattle was famous for. We started with Pike Street Market.
The market atmosphere was sensational. Dan was feeling a bit overwhelmed by such a huge crowd of people, but it was still a really exciting experience to be smelling fresh produce amongst screaming people.
Dan quickly dragged me out of the market to escape the craziness and we ventured onto the Gum Alley.
All the colourful chewed up gum that is now a part of what makes Seattle so unique could be seen here at the Gum Alley.
And here is Seattle Starbucks!
The seafood restaurant Tom Hanks was filmed at for Sleepless in Seattle.
And the crazy Crab Pot where people line up for hours to eat at.
And it was well worth the wait. The amount of seafood you get is very very grand. And it's just fun to smash your food with a mallet before eating it with your hands!

After that shock to my stomach with monsterous amount of seafood, we tried to walk it off. The night scenery in Seattle is gorgeous. 
However I found it too touristy and superficial for me. Seattle didn't have enough of its own personality.
We did have a great weekend, but I think 2.5 days was long enough to spend in Seattle.

One thing I might add about Seattle that doesn't get brought up in conversations is it's absolutely impossible to find a public toilet. There doesn't seem to be any. The one at the market closes when the market closes, so when you are out and about in the evening and you just had spicy seafood curry, then you will need to bid farewell to your pants. (This is a particularly vexing problem in a town that's known for its coffee - Dan).  Our best bet was ordering a soft drink at a nearby Subway and using their one and only LOCKED bathroom while their staff was chasing the flies with rolled up newspaper. Sanitary.

July 17th - Splashing in Idaho

The scorching heat in America was making me want to kill everything that breathed around me.
So Dan took me to Water Park in the next state. And we had a blast. The rides there were insane. And even though the lines for each ride was filling up the entire staircase leading up to the ride, everything was worth it.

This was none other than a park full of water, so we didn't take our cameras with us.
Here are some images I found on google instead.

Roaring Springs Water Park, Boise, Idaho

Avalanche. This is the best ride they have there.
This ride is absolutely terrifying. But totally worth your 30 minutes spent in line.

July 8th - Goodbye New York

Day 3 in New York. The day started out a tad muggy. But it didn't stop us from exploring like hyper maniacs once more. Once we checked out and left our bags at the reception at Park 79 we went to have salmon omelette at Barney Greengrass Deli. Pastrami salmon omelette and Nova Scotia salmon omelette on bagels.
And then we strolled through the Central Park and kept ourselves entertained by turtles.

Time to pick up our bags at our old hotel, and head over to our new bed pan for day 3: The Carlyle Hotel. Fancy eh? The concierge staff at the hotel let us have a room with a nice view on level 31.
After a quick shower, we were off again!

To The Metropolitan Museum of Art! ($20 per person)
This place was absolutely enormous. And amazing. We spent the entire day just on the first floor and we still didn't get to complete our tour inside the museum. We took about 300 photos. Here are just a handful just because this is none other than a travel blog - not an Art History site.


When we finally made our way out of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, we could only manage to take a photo of the Guggenheim Museum from outside as it was already closed. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Then it was time for some NY dessert! Off to Serendipity3.
Before we went to NY I did some research, and most of the reviews for Serendipity3 revealed that the customers have to wait in line for 30 mins to an hour to be seated. We were lucky enough to get a table in 5 minutes (because everyone had left to come back in 30 mins). We ordered Forbidden Broadway Hot Fudge, and Cinnamon Fudge Sundae. Those monster desserts were so big even I couldn't finish it.
Feeling sick we waddled out of the restaurant and then into a candy store - just to take photos.

In order to burn off all the cream and fudge we consumed, we speed-walked past all the pretzel eating kids, yellow taxis, and the Queen over to Park Ave to see The Waldorf Astoria.
Waldorf, we finally meet!
I had to take the camera to the women's room (and trust me, I wasn't the only one with a camera in there). Past the glowing powder room were individual bathrooms lined up along the hallway for all the visiters. The excited ladies lingered in the bathroom vestibule taking photos of one another.
We then continued on our walk towards the court house, then to China Town.
This is where China Town meets Little Italy
And THIS is where road penalties meet countless rubbish bags on the street. (Another warning to future travelers. Bring a gas mask when you travel to Manhattan during summer. The odour combination of rubbish bags, cars, dog urine and other juices from restaurants is NOT pleasant).
Then we got back to our fancy hotel for some live jazz.
Gettin' ready!
The atmosphere at the hotel lounge bar was really poetic. The waiters were scattered around to service the patrons throughout the night... Although, most men there looked old and ready to decease. And they were accompanied by... what's a polite word for "whore"?
The music was fantastic. It was good to listen to live jazz again (my regular jazz bar got replaced by yet another Thai restaurant. ALL we have in New Zealand are Thai restaurants!) It was lead by Loston Harris who, bless his soul, was forced to listen to my complaints about Thai restaurants for longer than necessary.
Needless to say, after a few Dirty Martinis, I was all over the place. Dan kindly put a rug over me as I fell asleep happily on the bathroom floor.
Next day we checked out of our hotel groaning. I had too much of a hangover we could not do anything but frequently stop for a bathroom upchucking time. We got on a few subways to the airport and thankfully made it onboard. I hadn't eaten anything since the monster sundae until we arrived at the airport. And even then my organs failed to accept anything edible.
But I must say, this was the best trip I've ever had. We had so much fun. It was busy, and I had to work, but it was well worth it. I am hoping to return to NYC in the near future.

Tiring story about flying with Delta:
Checking in our backpack at the JF Kennedy airport was hectic. There seemed to be a lot of communication breakdown. We left our bags near the X-Ray as we were advised to. Got on the plane, arrived at PDX after a few hours, only to our surprise, bag-less. 
This is the side effect of flying with Delta. With a cheap price tag comes bad quality. The Delta representative assured us that we would get a phone call from them the next day. And since we lived 6 hours from the airport it would be shipped to us ASAP.
We did not receive a phone call. We ended up ringing them and they told us the bag arrived on the next plane, and that it was being shipped to us.
When the bag finally arrived after a few days, it was dirty and damaged. We rang up the customer services where they told us we would need to visit the nearest Delta office. (@#$%) We asked if we could just email with photos attached instead. The answer was no.
We drove to an airport in Idaho one weekend with the bag just to place a bloody complaint. NOBODY was in their office. They had a flight arriving, and yet nobody bothered to show up. (And we were told there would always be someone available at any airport at any time) We used the airport intercom to call for the Delta employees. They still didn't turn up. After being on hold on the phone with them for 20 minutes, Dan finally got through and we were told to return home and to just send them an email with photos and details of the damage. (@#$@$%#$)
We send them an email and they sent us some nonsense form to fill out.
I guess this is how they get away without covering for the damage they cause on their customers' belongings.

Delta also charges you for checked in luggage, refreshments, entertainment, headphones and everything else on board. I'm surprised we didn't have to pay to use their toilet.
Once you pay for food, drinks and luggage, it ends up costing just as much as it would with other airlines who don't ship you like unpaid parcels.
My advice, oh great intelligent readers, is: Don't fly with Delta.