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Honeymoon first 24 hours


Our wedding day. Mum and Dad and our (well searched for) ethically treated Elephant for our wedding morning entrance. We threw away all modern conventions.

It isn’t every day you go on your honeymoon and while I have been accused of having too many holidays (in general and also to fancy/luxury places) that I will have spoiled expectations of my honeymoon and the pressure will be on to outdo a “normal” holiday for us.

Well, I had been ill and reassessed my life and direction so I embarked on a new adventure and our honeymoon moved from 9 months to plan to 2 weeks. We had flights booked to Hawaii but changed the dates so we could go between my work adventures.

Hawaii and Canada. Minds made up. 16 days was too long for Hawaii and we have never been to Canada so it seemed like a great plan to split the stay. We would fly in to Honolulu, stay 3 nights but 4 full days due to flight times, then fly on to Vancouver. From there we have a hire car booked to drop off 8 days later in Montreal, a flight from Montreal to Maui for 2 nights at one of my most memorable hotels – Hotel Wailea which has been upgraded since our original stay – and one final night in Waikiki before our early fight home.

Solid plan, apart from the 5000km drive in 8 days but we were excited for the trip and our first actual road trip adventure together.

Vancouver to Montreal

Our intended route in 8 days

Robert, my Halekulani rep provided me a great rate for a last minute booking and we decided to spend our time in Waikiki at both of his resorts. Halekulani on our arrival for 3 nights and Waikiki Parc Hotel for our final night on the way home.

TW has just dropped from Platinum status, I lost mine late last year, with Qantas Frequent Flyer so we weren’t super excited about the airport experience. Qantas business class lounge at the airport is great – as long as you had never been in to the first class lounge. There is a big step between the two and having been locals of the first class lounge for a few years now, business class was a less than exciting prospect. It did however fill the void between clearing security and the flight departing.

Our flight was Jetstar economy and I had been offered an upgrade the day after I changed the flights, we didn’t decide on it until the offer expired so economy we flew. We forgot to ask at check in for better seats or if we could still pay for an upgrade so it was only once we were on board that we found out we were in the middle seats, both with an aisle, and a stranger between us.

The Jetstar Dreamliner is a nice enough plane, I prefer bumpy flights because of my motion sickness. Smoothing out turbulence makes me feel like I am in a boat which I have a problem with, rollercoasters are fine. The flight went well, lots of kids but no real noise and when there was noise, it was everyone all at once and just that once. Not one person here and another there and an annoyance the entire flight. That was handy.

Shortly after meal service is where everything went down hill. Not to say it was bad food because we don’t know yet if it was food poisoning and while it was chicken on the flight it could have been other food we had eaten.

Jetstar Boeing 787 dreamliner

Stock Image

I went to sleep, ish, I am a window girl so being on an aisle and not next to TW made it very difficult. Each time I woke I would look over to Triston. I noticed most of the time he was not there but I was unaware of the time frame. I looked over, he wasn’t there. Next time I looked he nor the stranger in the middle were there. Then the stranger was back but Triston still was not there. I assumed these had been big time frames or all within 20 minutes. Like Triston was just standing out of the way while the guy in the middle got up and went to the bathroom himself and he had just sat himself down and Triston was about to re-seat himself. I was mildly concerned and in my next dream the worry came out so when I woke and he was there I held his arm.

TW then passed me a note – I have been vomiting – like 7 times already. I put the call button on, and waited. I looked at the map to see her far we were – 3 hours to go. It took almost half an hour for someone to respond to the call button/light. In that time Triston had been up vomiting twice. He was in the bathroom when the staff member arrived, I asked for sick bags and explained Triston had been very ill but because he wasn’t the person sitting directly next to me, even though I said we were travelling together, there was little concern. He rummaged through others seat back pockets and handed me one sick bag. I said I would need more and he said ok and left. Never to return.

40 minutes before landing TW was again out of his seat. He had spent maybe 20 minutes total in it since handing me the note. I went to find him. Waiting by toilets that were occupied until the person left, only to find each were not him. I went down the back and found a staff member and complained that no one had been to help. He was very ill. He had not been offered water or a more convenient seat or checked to see if this was something he was going to pass on to everyone else on the plane. I said I asked for help more than 2 hours ago. I had sat and waited, looking up and down the aisles for the staff member that was going to make this problem less of an issue. She handed me more sick bags and asked where he was. At that moment he left the toilet, I said this is him, the announcement for everyone including staff to be seated had already been made so I returned to my seat, waiting anxiously for Triston to return to his.

He didn’t.


Why isn’t he back yet. What is happening. Is he ok. What should I do. Did I do enough. Am I doing enough.

We landed and as every person got off the plane I sat. I wondered. I worried. Was he so ill he passed out. Was he just sitting at the back. Did he fall. Was he injured. Were they doing CPR. There was no announcement for people to wait seated for the medical emergency so I must assume he is ok. Fear is not rational. I still worried, knowing he was most likely fine and just seated at the back of the plane, because I didn’t know for sure that he was ok.

Last off the plane, last in to immigration, I got changed in the toilets as I was wearing PJs and TW took that time to change out of his vomit covered shirt. He vomited in the toilets for good measure.

Immigration wasn’t too bad because the lines were down by the time we were ready to go through. Our bags were out and off to the side of the baggage belt because they were getting it ready to be set as unclaimed/lost luggage. Our customs screening was also quick and simple – no lines.

We had a driver booked, he was waiting. He was wonderful. We told him of TWs illness and we spoke of Waikiki and dodgy back streets. Dog the bounty hunter taught us how dodgy the areas can be, it turns out he was one of the drivers for Dog during filming. We had a laugh. TW was grey, cold and sweaty but he chuckled. He spoke of how busy it had been because of some “Joint Travel or Flight Client or something” – me – Flight Centre – yes that was it. They just had a big convention so the hotels were busy. Oh I know the one, Flight Centre Global Ball. Yes a lot of people go. He told us of how busy the hotels were but car companies were experiencing a decline. Hmm, figures, cheapskates.

The single best thing we did was have our driver booked. We never do this. it cost a bomb. It was worth every penny. I booked through the hotel. It was then noted our arrival was early and departure was late and check in access requested. I am sure this helped us a little.


Our hotel and view from the room

We arrived at the hotel to an amazingly friendly welcome. TW took a seat and I wandered over to Reception. I was explaining, poorly, how Triston was sick so I would like to know where a bathroom was if he needed it and as we were early was there any chance of using the hospitality suite that is for these events. Triston came over during this and asked for the bathroom. Reception was trying to check availability for a room for us for immediate check in because I had confused the situation. Triston needed a toilet, right then or probably 5 minutes ago as it turned out. He explained he just needed to use the bathroom now and she explained where to go and would look for a room for early check in.

Moments later a room is assigned and we are ready to check in to our room, almost 8 hours early. We wait for TW to return. And we wait. I am offered a seat and when he is ready they can take us up. I sit. I wait. I get worried. I go to find Triston. I loiter near the toilet. I linger half way between the toilet and the reception then I go back towards the toilets, think better of it. Try to call on Facebook which isn’t the best idea so I start to send a message to say the room is ready if he is comfortable to leave the bathroom we can get to another fairly quickly where he can stay for the rest of the day. I then turn to find him walking towards me.

Welcome gifts and letters

Our welcome platter, iced tea and champagne with some fresh pineapple. Lovely surprise

The room is ready, I tell him. He says to me he had to chuck out his undies. I laugh in disgust and ask why but we are back at reception and he says he will fill me in later.

Our bags are already in the room by the time we get there. Amazing.

We have no cash for tips – queue guilt.

A quick overview of the room, we are left for TW to explain what he meant.

While he was sitting, waiting for me to check in, he had to fart. The fart was a bad idea and loaded. That was why he had asked for a bathroom, why he was desperate for it now and why he had taken so long in the toilet. He pooped is pants at one of the nicest hotels in Waikiki.

The fart chair

The chair in question. No marks or damages in sight. Phew!

I laughed. He is gross. I asked if it went through his pants. Yes, slightly he says. I asked if he wet the seat he was on. No. Luckily. What would we have done if he pooped the couch. I mean. What would anyone do if their new husband had soberly pooped the couch. I don’t know. I understand maybe people with kids have experienced this. Fully functioning adults. I am not sure how often that happens.

The rest of our first 24 hours was spent in the bathroom as now he had diarrhoea and vomiting or in bed. We had tablets on hand so he took those.

No Longer grey

TW when he finally stopped being grey. He was still cold and clammy but he no longer looked like death.

Canada doesn’t seem like such a great idea anymore. 16 days in Hawaii doesn’t seem too long. We will probably fly rather than drive from Vancouver to Montreal but we are waiting to see how TW feels before changing anything.

The first 24 hours of our Honeymoon complete.

Trying to Catch a rainbow

From our room I saw a lovely rainbow, I decided to try to catch the rainbow. The syrup decanter for our iced tea was a lovely pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


Next: Honeymoon: 24-48 hours
Or skip ahead: Honeymoon: 48-72 Hours Honeymoon: 48-72 Hours Honeymoon: 96-130 hours Honeymoon 130-130+ 5 minutes Honeymoon 130 hrs + 5 min – 159 hrs Honeymoon day 8-9.5 Honeymoon days 9.5 – 11

Honeymoon days 11 to 13

Waking up in Quebec was a great feeling. We could take our time with everything today. Our road trip is now basically over and it has been the first time since we left Vancouver that we really could just relax. We didn’t want to see much more than the old town itself and we saw almost all of it last night while deciding where to have dinner. At some point we have to drive to Montreal but it is just a few hours drive and check in isn’t until the afternoon anyway so we aren’t even thinking about any of that yet.

Oversleeping was a bit of an issue until now, we had always planned to be on the road by 7 and then we were waking up at 9am or 10am and feeling behind before we got started. Obviously we needed the sleep at the time though so we couldn’t be too disappointed and the sun was always up very late. Our days were just thrown off. Today is no different. A nice 11am wake up for a midday check out. Well, there goes the whole morning. Wow. So easy to lose time. We decide we will just get ready and pack and leave at midday, check out, store our bags and come back to get them and the car when we are ready to leave.


Cute sculpture in front of the hotel

A slight sleepy wander around the front of the hotel to look at something I thought I saw but didn’t really see so we couldn’t find it. We took some standard tourist photos and looked at the different art and historical pieces on the board walk.

It is just after midday, we are hungry – for breakfast – luckily right near the hotel, in the overpriced tourist trap, we see an all day breakfast place and we both order what is a light breakfast off their special menu. I have the crepe with ham and TW has pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.


Nom, nom, nom.

The special comes with a drink. TW has a coffee, black, no sugar (there is a recently released study that shows it is the psychopaths drink of choice, I think our waitress has also read the study….). I take a non killer profile drink, one that might kill me but doesn’t show me to be a killer myself, a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Yay. Now we are talking.


Vienna style hot chocolate + TW’s Homer Simpson t-shirt. Undies, coffee, scratching his butt.

A further little wander after breakfast and some deep discussion about what we should do for the rest of the day. Should we high tail it to Montreal and have a look around or should we try to find a Maple farm and stop in along the way. We both searched but couldn’t find any real attractions between Quebec City and Montreal that were open, available or of any interest to us. TW wanted some Canadian Maple Syrup though so we decided to start to get ready to go and we would go to a Walmart/Costco and get a bulk lot of maple syrup.


Another day, another photo in the hotel parking courtyard.

We now have less than 18 hours left in Canada and 8 of those will, no doubt, be spent sleeping and getting to the airport, check in and waiting. The drive between our hotels in Quebec City and Montreal is roughly 3 hours. Leaving us about 7 hours of stuff. We didn’t manage to find anywhere specifically to stop in-between the two cities so we decide to head to the local Walmart for our maple syrup shopping.



In the time it takes for us to get back to the hotel, get our bags, get the car and get going we change our mind and decide just to hit the road. Get back on a highway and try to have time to see Montreal. If we see a place to stop along the way we will. So off we go, the very last leg of our road trip. I can no longer remember life outside of the car and a new city or town each day. What does that look like, isn’t that a boring existence? I sure wouldn’t mind some decent sleep, no time frames, time to explore and not unpacking and repacking each and every day. That sounds very luxurious indeed.


1608 – WINE & CHEESE BAR very cosy

Less than an hour in to the drive we see an exit for a service centre/town square and can literally see the stores from the highway so we decide to do our maple shopping here. There are cheese curds in bulk and it takes all of our restraint not to buy them. Too many flights and still too many days before we get home, plus we have to go via Hawaii and I am not 100% sure what food items we can take to the islands so we stare for half an hour or so. The curds are cheap, in bulk and on a shelf so they don’t need a fridge, should we just buy them. We don’t. Should we though. No. But then we can make it at home. We shouldn’t, are we sure. Another 20 minutes or so walking away and circling back.

Finally I go to the syrup aisle and add one of every kind to our wheelie cart. TW is wandering other aisle and joins me eventually. They aren’t cheap. It is the same price as the real maple syrup at home, maybe more expensive, but there are options here. The cart is full and heavy, we think about how much room we actually have in our bags and we can’t fit all of these so we take most and put them back on the shelf. One tin and two glass bottles. Different grades of syrup. That should get us through. We have to walk past the poutine cheese curds to get to the register, another few minutes debate. No, we didn’t. Instant regret.

TW tries to lighten the mood by showing me a photo, it is a Simpsons reference. I don’t get it. It is something he found while he was wandering and I was syrup deciding. The photo:


The reference:



He thought it was funny. It kept him amused. It was the most exciting part of the drive, for him. I would’ve thought the syrup was, considering it is his favourite thing. I am not fussed.


Almost there

We arrive not too long after check in. There is parking under the hotel. It is part of a shopping centre. We have the car valeted as they say the parking is quite far if we want to park ourselves and as we have an early flight we decide it is easier for us not to do it and arrange the time that they will bring the car and have it ready for us in the morning.


Getting closer

Check in is busy, there are a number of people in front of us and every desk is open. We have about 2 or 3 people per check in agent in front of us so this is going to be a long process. Finally our turn, we confirm the car will be ready and a wake up call with the front desk on check in. Our room is paid for with points, whenever we use points we always expect less. A lot of the time we might actually get more but this time it was less. No letter, no acknowledgement, long waits. The timing of our stay is the reason behind the long wait but we had honeymoon listed in the booking and they had more notice than any other hotel. TW had booked with his profile (he had the points) and usually, due to his status with Hyatt, he would be offered something based on just that alone. This hotel, no acknowledgement of the status, honeymoon and it was very busy so it felt like a much lower end hotel.

It appears there hotel is hosting a conference and the lifts are full and the wait is long. The long wait for the lift is frustrating because it is too full each and every time so we have to wait for the next. Getting to the room wasn’t difficult but getting from our room to any other part of the hotel was a nightmare. It would take at least 20 minutes. From the time we dropped off our car, to getting to our room, was over an hour. Then getting back out of the room was 20 minutes. When you are short on time, little things like that really grind your gears.


Montreal baby 🙂

We take a walk around town. There are many cool old buildings, really solid thick walls. We wander, wishing out walls were thick. Wandering, wondering, we are hungry so not much is sinking in. Now is the time to look for food. We bounce between many different places, just down from this church. There are so many, some are full with wait times of half an hour or more and some are empty. Frustrated with walking in circles, we come up with a plan. We will walk and follow the green lights at the intersections and the next place that we see that is open, with people but less half full we will eat at.
The plan is thrown in the bin fairly quickly and by chance I see a sign, we walk to the sign and on the way, agreeance. We don’t care how long the wait is, how many people are there, we will eat there, no matter the cost. Dinner is decided.
Turns out our choice was the restaurant Osco! inside the Intercontinental Montreal. Fine with me, probably going to cost a mint, I hope we are dressed well enough to get in and for the sake of avoiding any hangriness lets also hope the wait isn’t too long.


The meal is surprisingly affordable, cheaper than that in Quebec City tourist trap and it is superb. The best meal we had in Canada, aside from every pouting but those are more snacks than meals. Well. Kind of. I don’t want to take away from poutine being amazing. We decide on a set menu as this basically gives us 3 courses for the price of the main dishes we would have picked plus a couple of dollars, those couple extra dollars buy us the two additional courses. There is bread for the table. All the bread options were fantastic, we tried to limit the bread eating because we had a 3 course meal coming but it is hard when it is so warm and fresh and yummy.


We have starters and I do try the foie gras, TW gets the tartare. Both are massive servings. After we order we decide to google what foie gras actually is, we ordered because we figured the French food would be better here than anywhere else on the trip and we may as well have the French delicacies in a little slice of France outside of France lol. Well, it was a little disturbing but it did taste nice. Nice for what it was. I am not a huge fan of any kind of pâté really and this was balanced, tasty and well… buttery. The size of these starters could have been a meal in their own. We were quite full, without eating all of my pâté discs, there were just too many and too much bread beforehand.
Mains were utterly delectable and far less controversial. My phone battery was on 1% so I didn’t get great photos but I had lamb and TW had steak. The jus and sauces, seasonings, accompaniments. All sung in our mouths. I would order both again, many times.
Dessert is just what you would hope to top off a meal, simple but fantastic. Creamy, smooth. We did share the two, one chocolate mousse and one vanilla custard. I had already tried a spoonful before remembering the photo and TW had devoured almost half of his. Nom nom nom, oh the memories. Good food.

My phone finally gave up after I took this photo. It did well to survive. We still had plenty of daylight so strolled back to the hotel then packed, repacked, organised, reorganised and got ready for bed and our early morning flight.

There was a massive debacle with the car not being ready and the valet desk being unattended in the morning and we find that our restless sleep during the night has turned out to be somewhat founded. Against all odds, we make it to the airport in time, if we were flying in economy our check in would have been closed but being our honeymoon we had booked business/first class tickets so we had an extra half hour to check in and we arrived just 5 minutes before that check in closed. Rushed, stressed, flustered and uncomfortable, but, we made it so now we can relax.

Our first flight is to Phoenix so we have to go through US customs here in Montreal, which is actually very hand and a great program but the officials aren’t the friendliest we have encountered. We decide it is because we are sweaty and stressed, we would have looked pretty suss so it is forgiven, they are doing their jobs and we do look and sound more dodgy than we usually would.  Having the business class tickets and Platinum status with Qantas we do get to go through all of the short lines. First class check in and the priority lines for security and immigration without the check in benefit we would have missed our flight so the officials are understanding as soon as they see our tickets. It really only takes 15-20 minutes to go from dropping off the car to being ready at the gate.

We have a short time before the flight starts boarding and are starving. There will be food on the flight but that will still be over an hour away, we aren’t sure what it would be and we are just completely starving so we ask at the cafe if they are able to get us our food before we need to depart. We are assured they can do it but it seems to take forever. The announcement for people needing additional help to board our flight is made and our food has not arrived. Sigh. Boarding has officially started.

The food arrives just as we decide that we have to leave without eating. There is an awkward moment as we are telling one waitress that we have to go as the other is bringing our food. Ok well, it is here now, we can scoff it down. Our gate is within our sights, there is time. TW had pancakes and bacon and I had the breakfast sandwich with wedges. Both were good. It would have been better for us if we had time to enjoy it. There is time enough to eat probably half of what we wanted. We paid when the food came so that we could run off as soon as we needed to. It was an exciting start to the morning, probably good to get the heart pumping as we have a decent trip to get back to Hawaii so we will be sitting in airports and planes for the next 17 or so hours.

Yay bed hair and airports 🙂


Hotel Wailea here we come #soexcited

Honeymoon days 9.5 – 11

I am excited to talk about Bora Bora, TW has some photos and video he really wants to share and I think there is a lot of expectation but not a whole lot of people know someone who has been so there isn’t much first-hand information on it. Well we, don’t always go to tropical destinations. In fact, we have a lot of different kinds of holidays and our Honeymoon was the first of it’s kind. I have been distracted while in Tahiti, Tikehau, and Bora Bora so I will get back to our Honeymoon. My BIL arrives in Ottawa in less than a week and he really wants my insights to be ready before he goes. At least, he is kind enough to imply that he is interested in our trip and recommendations. So this one is for you Bro 🙂

We are sitting at about 9 and a half days since leaving home and close to a week in Canada, we started in Vancouver and are now between Niagara Falls and Ottawa. For previous days on our honeymoon, you can catch up here: Honeymoon post 1
Honeymoon post 2  Honeymoon post 3  Honeymoon post 4 Honeymoon post 5  Honeymoon post 6  Honeymoon post 7 Honeymoon post 8 Honeymoon post 9

The drive to Ottawa is draining, long, unmemorable. I am sure it is actually a nice drive but we were full, tired and it had already been a really long day with hours left before we could rest.

I book the hotel, we have been debating the hotel in Quebec so I had not yet booked the remaining hotels but on the drive from Niagara Falls, I decide it is time to book the hotels. Andaz Ottawa it is. We are Hyatt members and Andaz is a brand we have yet to stay in so we are excited to give it a try. I book online (though an agent log in, but essentially a retail rate – it was on sale being last minute), and add a little note in the booking that we are on our honeymoon.

The Fairmont Le Chateaux Frontenac is also booked, I add the note about our honeymoon into this also and after I have booked and paid I confirm that it was ok to have booked that as it was the super expensive room. I had decided it was our honeymoon so we were going to have no regrets and stay but it was out of courtesy to TW that I decided to ask if he was happy with spending that much. He rumbled and grumbled and said well we have no choice really, if only it was cheaper. I said great, it was already paid for and no refunds.

We were now sorted for the rest of the trip – Hyatt in Montreal had been booked with points, Andaz in Ottawa and Fairmont Le Château Frontenac  had just been booked. Our final hotels back in Hawaii, Hotel Wailea in Maui and The Waikiki Parc had been booked before we left Sydney so all we had to do now was sit back, relax and survive the rest of the drive. Did I mention it was difficult? The road was fine, We had the same traffic away from Niagara Falls due to roadworks as we had getting there and we really just wanted to curl up and enjoy our food comas.

It was pretty easy to get to our hotel and they had valet parking for us. The parking was beside the hotel and not at the front door, it was a little unusual but easy and well signed.

On arrival, we are valeted, portered and checked in all with ease. While we wait for the room keys to be cut we look around and feel both at ease and out of place. This hotel is far cooler than we could dream to be. Not the way a tired and disheveled driver feels out of place when everyone else is dressed up for a function but out of place in the way that we would never be as cool, hip or chic as the hotel implies its guests will be. Even so, we felt very welcome and at home.


Our room.

Our keys are ready, we have been told about the rooftop bar that will close soon (as we are arriving so late) and we make our way to the room. We have a cute entranceway, a very cool bathroom, and walk-in wardrobe before we get to the bedroom part of the room. Huge windows, a very comfortable bed, an on-trend couch and a mini wet bar area greet us. It takes a while to see it all and slowly we realise we have a special welcome waiting for us.


Cake, wine, card and a happy honeymoon message sit waiting on our table 🙂

On the table waiting for us sit a lovely letter, cake, and bottle of wine. We discuss eating the cake as we are kind of hungry but we are hungry for dinner, not just food and I saw a poutine place just down the street on the drive in so I suggest we walk back to it. We go up to the bar and there is a 21st birthday celebration happening and the bar is only going to be open for another 10 or so minutes. I don’t drink and TW doesn’t feel like one so we head out for poutine, it is our current best offer. It was open when we drove past and I hope with all my might that it didn’t close on the half-hour that has just passed. You always have to hope a store closes on the hour, we have just over 10 minutes for the hour to end and I can’t remember how far it was but I am sure it is just a few minutes walk.


We like your poutine!

Slow walking, tiredness, call it what you will. The block and a half seemed like a 5-hour marathon. Three steps in I think we should get the car and drive because we will never make it. I can’t remember the name though I know it is something memorable. We pass a speakeasy looking place and I question if that is what I saw. I am sure I read the word poutine specifically and then, then we stumble on it. The 3-minute 45-second walk from the bar to the restaurant was, finally over and, worth it. We had arrived!  Smoke’s Poutinerie, how could I forget that name. I read it and remember that I had instantly thought of brisket and texas when I read it. Andaz and Smoke’s are both on Dalhousie Street and it was only 250 meters away.
Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.01.14 PM.png

There was time but not a huge amount of time before it closed. There were 15 or so people ordering and a lot of the ingredients for their special poutines had been sold out so the options were limited. We take in the menu and every time we decide on an order a person in front of us tries to order it and is told something is not available.


Looking empty but it was actually very busy. We are excited to order.

Plain, traditional poutine is probably the best. No one needs to try and improve it and we discuss just ordering the original. Why mess with perfection right? Perfection is available readily (in Costco) across Canada so I convince TW we should try one of the specials as it has not been as easy to get these fusion offerings as it has been for the traditional.


Making my order 🙂

The menu is electronic and we didn’t realise it was changing at first. We were looking at different options and arguing with each other because we didn’t see the option the other person was seeing. Confused but the food coma that appeared to be hanging over our heads. We worked out what we were doing wrong and decided on … one poutine between us.


Philly Cheesesteak Poutine

Eventually, we settle on Philly cheesesteak, jerk chicken, and chicken inferno had been contenders. Korean beef was one we heard was out and there were random ingredients that were sold out – like mushrooms. I don’t really like mushrooms and it was included in the Philly cheesesteak so I am happy to hear it is sold out. Our server expects us to order something different instead but we assure her we are happy with the order and without the mushrooms.

Remember I mentioned it was busy? In the time it took us to decide what we were ordering, only the people who had ordered before we arrived have received their orders. We spent more than 10 minutes deciding. It was difficult, so many good options, most sold out. A tired brain processes everything slowly. We were slow. Now we are starving, having just ordered we don’t want to add to our order. The process of working out what the second poutine would be was bound to take another 10 minutes, maybe more so we agreed just to wait for our order and if we are still hungry after we will order another.

We wait, we watch. Food envy starts to creep across our minds. Almost as soon as we ordered we forgot which option we chose and as the orders start rolling out everyone’s meal looks so good, smells fantastic and we just want to be eating. Even now, if I ask TW what we ordered he will say a chicken one. Our initial choice was jerk chicken or inferno chicken but both were sold out and in our mind, it is what we ordered, in reality, what we ate was Philly Cheesesteak.


All gone.

A second poutine might have been appreciated because this one was so good, it was enough food. We didn’t need more but we were going to be here such a short time it might have been nice to try another flavour. Technically they didn’t have too many flavours available so we didn’t really miss out. It is a chain, we didn’t know that at the time. Everything is a chain and we never know. The meal was exactly what we were hoping for so we make the arduous trek back to our room, although now we realise how close it actually was. Poutine has given our brains some functioning power and clarity. We are tucked into bed in no time.

With the arrival of morning, we can see our full view. I think there is a lot of green space and the city reminds me a lot of Canberra. We really love our room and stay. It is short. Nothing spectacular happened to make us feel that way. The bed is comfortable, bathroom pretty, staff helpful and friendly, atmosphere beyond our own cool factor but we felt at home for a night. We don’t often get the sensation of feeling at home when away but anywhere that gives us that feeling is a place we are likely to return to. Andaz Ottawa, we will be back (hopefully).


Welcome. I am a pretty, walkable city. Enjoy your walk. So inviting.

To make the most of this very pretty city we decide to walk towards the park we can see from our window. The route is through Byward Market and we intend to then continue on to get breakfast at some super special pancake house TW found online. He is craving them and this is meant to be the best place in the city.


High ceilings, huge windows, great view and comfy furniture. Who would want to leave? That’s not a morning beer. It is morning but it isn’t a beer. It is a local ginger beer that was in our complimentary mini-bar. They had some nice local items in there.

Our morning started after 10 am, turns out we overslept. By the time we get to breakfast, it will be lunch so we make sure breakfast is offered all day, or at least until afternoon. It is, fantastic. Our bags are packed and stored. Sadly, we check out before we leave for our walk.


Birthday Celebrations

The 150th birthday display was in the Byward Market area, just out the front of the hotel. We pass it on our way to the park and from the park we walk to the water. I hear this weird noise. I hear a man call out something. It is all foreign to me. I am not expecting to hear any of these sounds so my brain can’t process it. I ask TW if he is hearing any of it but he hasn’t heard anything. I hear something again. Confused but certain that I am not imagining this I walk over to where I think it is coming from. To my surprise, below me, is a series of lochs and boats are coming and going.

OH EM GEEE, I am more excited than a kid in a candy store. Literally. As we walk around to get a closer look (passing the Fairmont, impressive building) there is a family with a son, about 6 years old, and it is also his first time seeing a loch in operation. He is asking a lot of questions and I am squealing with glee. I felt a little foolish but too excited to care. An adult can be excited by simple things. It was unexpected and they are cool so I stand by my excitement.


Boats, gates, water.

I don’t know, TW said he knew that Ottawa had lochs but I don’t know if I believe him. He was just trying to keep his cool and play it down I think. So cool.


Still a manual process and fun to watch. I almost signed up to work the summer I loved watching it so much. There wasn’t actually a job going, I looked.

I mean seriously how cool can this city get. Our hotel was too hip for us but this is certainly a livable city.

I will admit, it took me a lot longer than the 6-year-old to understand how it was working. At first I was too excited to watch the changing water levels, eventually, I focussed on the mechanics of it all. It really isn’t that complex but when something like this isn’t already invented it must be a completely abstract and totally ingenious concept. It works, it is very manual, it all happens faster than I would think while appearing to be slow. TW was happy to move on but we spent a long time, I watched boats go out and come in. I just had to see how it worked in reverse.


TW’s Breakfast.

As soon as we leave the amazing sorcery that is lochs, we head for breakfast. TW’s pancake house. I have eggs benedict, he has pancakes. Pancakes with everything. His cravings have been met. Both were pretty decent meals. A lot of food, enjoyable, fast service. Of course, it was a chain. This time we knew before we went but it met our Eggspectation so it was worth it. The puns I had to endure during breakfast were not.


My breakfast

On the way back to the hotel after breakfast, we stop by the parliament buildings. Impressive. Cute and I see a lot of faces in the buildings.


Faces everywhere.

I am distracted. TW learns some stuff and I take photos of the building faces. I wonder if the design was intentional, are these inbuilt gargoyles? Can it be coincidence? Surely someone recognised on the design that these looked like faces. Some happy enough.


He looks like he should be a goofy animated clock to me.

Others like the scream painting.


This guy is not so happy. Maybe someone just stood on his tail.

I give each face a background story. How they came to be trapped the way they are. What led to those pained expressions and why they were forever that way. Fun times in Ottawa.


Gardens every where.

That is our time in Ottawa over. We head back to the hotel, now it is about midday, pick up our luggage, get the car and drive on to Quebec City.

We are going to French Canada today. We accidentally cross into it on our way out of Ottawa before we realise we took a wrong turn, that doesn’t count.

This drive has an incredibly bad storm. We divert off the highway on suggestion of the GPS and spend 2 hours trying to get back on to it. The traffic wasn’t bad enough to warrant a diversion and the diversion managed to get us about 5 miles in those two hours. Many arguments occurred during this time. Such a waste of time. Should we continue to follow the GPS and her absurd advice or get back on to the highway as directly as possible? Finally, finally, we get back on to the highway.

Just as we make it back, we need petrol and take the next exit. For the first time in our trip, we are at a Tim Hortons where everyone else in the state is not. It just so happens we are in French Canada now and the menu, staff and most customers are French speakers. TW orders what he wants and because of our GPS arguments tells me I have to order my own. So I don’t order anything. Our first Tim Hortons and I don’t get to try a doughnut.


Yay, Quebec state. Oops, wrong way.

Petrol is part of the same service stop but the exit implies you can only go one way. We go that way. GPS says to keep going that way, through all the back streets. After two hours of arguing about that, I suggest we just do a u-turn and get back on to the highway the way we got off it. The road is narrow. TW drives past every driveway and turn off that he can, claiming that he didn’t have enough notice to use those as an appropriate place to turn around. Another hour of this and we manage to go through another storm, small local flooding. For a moment, I think we have actually entered the highway before the exit we took rather than after it. I am still not convinced we didn’t but sometimes you just have to let it go. This is our honeymoon after all.

The drive isn’t memorable as far as scenery goes. It might be better in the fall. It would definitely be better without an argument and a GPS insistent on stirring the pot, taking sides and pitting us against each other. Divide and conquer I guess. She gets a little too flirty so I make TW change her to an annoying man. Once that is done he is happy to stop listening to the advice of Mr. GPS.


Are we at Epcot?

Quebec City. Wow, this looks like it is something straight from Disneyworld’s Epcot  and maybe it was modeled on this. TW has been to Epcot so he feels the town is fake, staged and a bit of a rip off of Disney. I remind him that Disney has generally taken its ideas from the real world so this could be their inspiration. Instantly not a huge fan, not a great way to start any city stay.

The streets in old town are filled with tourists. Scoffing at how quickly we will also become one of those people, fully aware that we will be, we look for our hotel parking lot entrance. We miss it and have to do a loop. The one-way streets and tiny alleys make it slow but we get the right entrance on the second try.



Parking the car for Valet to take it away.

Our room cost over $1000 for the night. More than we would ever dream of spending but the hotel was almost sold out, it is peak season and we booked a day ago. With a sky-high price, we expect something fancy and exciting for the money. Château Frontenac is hive of activity. Castle-like and grand, there are a lot of people who want to stay here and be here and been seen to have been here. The lobby is busy with people standing about and generally getting in the way of someone who actually wants to achieve something by being in the lobby.


Little did we know on arrival that our room would be way up there. On the other side but one of the teeny tiny rooms.

Wading through the hoards of families, friends, random strangers all huddling in spots that make a never-ending, impenetrable wall of annoying people, we get to reception. Excitedly check-in and happily head to our room. Our ever so disappointing, hugely overpriced, teeny tiny room.


Can see our hotel from all across the land.

Expectations often set your experience in a hotel. In this case, it was price as well as raving reviews of the hotel. We would have much prefered any of the hotels we could see from our window, which were $200 for the night, and look back at this than to stay here. Had we known the hotel had rooms like this available for such an outrageous price we would not have stayed. Service wasn’t great, staff weren’t super helpful. There was nothing about the hotel, other than name, that stood out about the property for it to command such a high price. It was a huge disappointment to have spent so much money on one night and not received anything of value in return.


View from our workers quarters room in the roof top.

Our room at $200 a night is a fair price and I am sure for most of the year the asking price is somewhere close to that. Unfortunately for us we booked last minute and had been recommended by many people (travel agent peers of mine included) who said it was amazing, iconic, worth every penny. Worth pennies totally $200 for sure, a suite or grand room for $1000 sure. We appeared to have the worst room at the highest price and staff with an unhelpful attitude to boot. Every other hotel, apart from Thunder Bay and Banff, on this trip had been a better experience. We may be a little harsh, the disappointment was huge. We did make note of it. No one was too bothered. The hotel was very busy but that is no excuse to let the service decline.

There is a note in our room and gift. It is always extremely nice to receive a gift from a hotel. We had macarons, no wine. One hotel shouldn’t be compared to another but when this hotel was 5 times the price of the Andaz and they gave us cake and wine, we did feel as though Quebec was having a laugh. The increase in price is just an increase in profit and with that profit, they spared us very little for a gift – though they had made the effort and they don’t have to. It still felt like a slap in the face. 2 macarons. One each. And two mini cupcakes. Thank you for your $1000. Enjoy your honeymoon in this $200 room with a macaron each.


The pool area is quite big.

Again, hotels don’t need to give you a gift. They read the booking notes and acknowledged it, in a full hotel that is impressive and considerate. We don’t speak French, as mentioned earlier so the staff may have been helpful and we just couldn’t communicate properly but for a grand a night, you expect something grand. It would have been nicer to look at the stunning building than to look out of it. No regrets though, we didn’t want any regrets on our honeymoon. If we booked a few days earlier we would have saved many hundreds of dollars for the same room. It is our own fault. This is my travel diary though and that is what happened and how we felt.


The cute stuffed toys, tucked in to every nook and cranny in the pool area.

The building is amazing, there are a lot of historical pieces in the hotel and the pool area is huge. Much larger than I would expect.

Our scoffing selves were right. It was not long before we became those annoying tourists clogging up the streets. The plan is to walk down the hill and into an old town area that is away from this hubbub of tourists and getting dinner. We succeed in walking away. I look up a place to eat and we try to walk to it. Getting lost allowed us to explore backstreets and we weren’t in any hurry. By the time we found the restaurant, it was 8 pm and we are told that there is no availability until 9:30 or 10:30. Something that sounded extraordinarily late. We declined and walked back towards our hotel.


Please, let’s just eat here

Deciding where to eat, when everything looks good, is such a challenge. We spend over an hour looking. Yes. No. Are we going in? Oh, I thought you wanted to eat here. I don’t mind. Happy to eat here, are you? It takes forever. By the time we pick a place, I see the time is 10 minutes to the time we could have reserved the actual good restaurant for. Too late now. We are seated and we didn’t book that spot, no doubt it is full now.


You’re not serious, we can’t go back to the other place.

We eat, what must be the most hammed up and “fake” Canadian/French Canadian/Quebec City meal. It is decent. Very expensive and oh so cheesy but fun. We had fun. Awkward fun. We got to laugh at other people also having awkward moments with the owner/manager who interacts with every guest. It is a nice touch. An awkward touch. Cheesy and only possibly endearing but it is definitely his personal touch. If you are his type, that could be an awkward touch, with a wink.


TW suggests escargot as a starter

We have a starter and main but decline dessert. Our main, we take as the special. It sounds like it will be a feast.


“Cooking” our meal in front of us.


The meal is brought out and cooking is finished off at your table and the carving happens in front of you.


Carving our meat.

When it is plated up you realise there isn’t much to it at all. A small piece of carrot each. That is all we got. For a $100 meal, there isn’t a whole lot on the plate. It certainly isn’t a feast but there is one of everything, for two people, so I guess it is a ‘meal for two’.

We get charged an additional amount for a set menu, which we didn’t order, rather than just the dish we did order. The set menu comes with soup and dessert along with a glass of wine. We had the roast for two and escargot. Not in the mood for debate we pay and leave. We don’t speak French, it is too hard to get into a battle over what we did and did not order and we have already decided that Quebec is a city that just wants to gouge you, a tourist, for every last penny.

It looks like it might be 4 or 5 pm but it is closer to midnight then evening. Tomorrow, all we have to do is get to Montreal before our flight which is in two mornings time. No rush. We have finally made it to the end of the line. Now, all we have to do is decide if we are spending the bulk of our day here in costly Quebec city or chancing it and leaving earlier to see more of Montreal.

Tikehau days 2 through to 6

So here we are, just a couple of days in to our trip and sunburnt, relaxed and time is almost irrelevant. It would be compeltely irrelevant if meal times weren’t so specific.
(to catch up on our previous days check here Sydney to Tahiti to Tikehau and here Tikehau day 1 and 2)

The sun and time is different on Tikehau. It is daylight and hot sun right up until, at most, 60 minutes before the total darkness of night. There isn’t much of an in-between. It is either day or night here. Well it would be if the moon wasn’t so full and bright. The light from the moon keeps the night a nice shade of ‘I can still see’. Out of the water and keeping out of the harsh sun we head to the pool for a cool down and then as the sun starts to set, knowing we have about an hour of daylight left, we get ready for dinner. It is about 6pm and dinner doesn’t start until 7pm so we decide to head for a walk out to the ocean along the reef/rocks/sand that we have been staring at since our arrival.


Thawrted by a river between the rocks and the reef wall.

Currently the sky is bright for our walk out but the sun is setting. We know the light will dim very quickly very soon but the path is farm more treacherous than we imagined. It is slow going. A walk we expected to take more more then 15 minutes there and back, allowing time to take in the waves, has taken us 30 minutes to get most, not all, of the way out there and the sun is now behind the horizon. We have to rely on moonlight to get back.

Moonlight wouldn’t be bad, if the walk was not full of ankle twisting boulders, sharp and discarded coral, rocks, shells and the hermit crabs. Hermit crabs aren’t going to hurt us but we really don’t want to kill any. The ground is crawling with, itty bitty, teeny weeny, hoping not to die today hermit crabs.


Full ish moon from the rocks.

Insistent on making it to the edge – we had come this far and it has taken so long, we should keep going so we don’t need to do it again – we press forward. Arriving at the end of the rocky outcrop we have been navigating, we find there is actually a deep river between us and the lagoon wall. The waves are closer to us now then when we are in our room but they seem much farther away in this moment. All this effort, no reward, and now a walk back in moonlit darkness. At least dinner will be ready by the time we return. Happy to have gone as far as we could but disappointed it was not as far as we thought, we head back.


Raw ham Bruschetta

Dinner tonight is beef tenderloin for TW and Carbonara for myself. I enjoyed the lasagne so I decided on pasta again. Both were really enjoyable. We had a starter, bruschetta. It said raw ham and cheese on the menu. I wasn interested to see what that might mean. Was it a translation error or did they really mean raw ham. What we received is unlike any other bruschetta I have eaten before. It was quite nice, not at all what I would expect.


My carbonara, steak in the background.

Worn out, we again are asleep shortly after dinner. Our bed has mosquito net hanging from it. The first night, it would touch me in the breeze and I would get annoyed awake from it tickling my skin. Tonight, I have tucked it in so it is taught and won’t touch me in the breeze. I am also reasonably badly sunburned on my arms and back so I have to sleep with my arms out. Usually I sleep with an arm under a pillow but to have anything press on my skin is painful which puts that out of the question. I do wake up many times because I am uncomfortable, in pain or in my sleep I have put an arm under the pillow and the pain of that has woken me up.


Almost full moon.

I am restless and trying my best to sleep. A huge storm blows in. My mosquito net is billowing in the wind, even though I tucked it in nice and taught, the whole net is moving so much that at times it is free to touch me. Currently, I am too tired to care about the storm but I am bothered by the net touching me so I get up. We have all of our cabin windows open, both doors to the balcony open and it is raining sideways. Trade winds. These are strong winds. I close windows, TW brings the items we have on the balcony inside and closes the balcony doors. Lucky we got up because the wind was strong enough to blow our stuff away and it would be a shame. Not to lose the items but we wouldn’t want our stuff polluting an area like this.


Standing on the very edge of our balcony looking over to the resort restaurant.

With the wind tamed, the net calms down and I settle in for more of the same uncomfortable, not quite sleeping. My restlessness keeps TW awake so he offers to put some cooling gel on me, in the hopes I won’t continue to keep him awake. The gel is nice and works well but I am too uncomfortable so do not return to sleep. It was about 3am that I woke up properly. 4am for the storm and at 5:30 I lie in bed and watch the sky dance with colours as the sun begins to rise. I tell TW it is a pretty sunrise. He opens one eye, agrees and rolls over.

Breakfast this morning is at 7:30am we were told, at dinner last night. At 6am, I can no longer take pretending to sleep and the morning has already been so pretty so I mutter to TW about going droning, before anyone is awake so we don’t have to worry about accidentally having people in the shot. The wind has completely died away after the storm, the water is still. This is the first time we see the water still. It has always had a tide or breeze ripple in it, not that we have been here that long. We are amazed. The water is almost one with the surroundings, it is so clear, so calm.


I set up the drone and flew.

We decide to walk out where we had last night and drone over the wall. If we couldn’t walk that far due to the river, we can at least film what is going on so we can see it. We set off on the walk. Drone in hand. Ready for the new and wonderful things we might come across from the air. About 20 minutes in to the walk, we give up on that idea and drone from a spot on the way. There is a hard and decently flat surface to set the drone down on. We decide this will be the best spot as there is sand and rocks and small coral pieces the rest of the way and with the force of the air from the drone these things can fly up and scratch the camera. Mine is a Phantom 4 so the camera is not easily replaced. Phantom 3 has the ability to have a go pro attached, mine has an inbuilt camera and because of that I can see where I am flying while flying very easily. It is a great little camera. I am careful not to break rules with it.


Tw took photos of everything on the walk and while I was busy.

The flight is out over the water, just a couple of minutes flying. Right on queue the wind picked up and while my drone can handle winds, I have a very small landing spot. I need to land the drone on the box it came in. This is a challenge in wind. My flight was about 12 minutes, 8 or so of those were bringing her in and lining up to land. Not a whole lot of interesting footage in that flight but it was nice to actually go out and use it. We usually bring the drone when we go away and we rarely find a spot, or time, to use it. Usually it is not finding a spot that meets the rules and also has parking or other challenges in getting there but sometimes it is not having time or not having charged the drone so now we don’t have time to charge and fly it. This trip we did and it it possibly one of the more interesting places to fly over that we have been to, and we are pretty happy about that.

Drone landed and safely put away we head off to see if there are any spots for a trash the dress shoot. We walk over the rocks, away from the resort. We find a path through different deep water channels, so that we don’t need to get wet to get to a beach away from the resort. The plan would be to use the drone. Set it to hover and we want the beach and water in it so we need to find a way to walk to a beach, away from everyone. Away from the hotel. A place we can get to without having to go in the water as we can’t get the drone wet. We find a way, it seems like it will work and we head back in for breakfast.

Breakfast is all the same buffet items as yesterday. We ate. I had resolved to not let the sunburn take away from my holiday. We had creams, gels, sprays, tablets. Everything you might need to have a productive day so I use a combination of those and suggest going for a snorkel now, right after breakfast, before the sun is too high and hot. My arms have been very well covered with sunscreen and I ask TW to do my back. He says how about I wear a shirt in to keep it covered. Not having grown up on the coast, or ever concerned with being tanned, I have not been sunburnt too many times in my life. I enquire if I should still put sunscreen on, to which I am told the shirt ‘will be right’ and we head out.


This is an atoll so there are more rocky patches than long sandy beach but this is more than enough for usl

We set off from the sandy spot on the beach, the same spot as last night and head along the shade to our bungalow. That is the plan. I see so many new and cool things that I get a bit distracted following things. I end up in the sun more often than not. TW is sitting on the sandy patch under our bungalow for most of this. Not snorkelling, just sitting, relaxing in the water. I am exploring. Eventually I end up over there.


Nice deep, soft sand launch spot

I got in trouble for going in to the sun and TW said the shirt was basically see through so now he wondered if it was working at all. That was great to hear, given he had said not to worry about sunscreen. Anywho, we decide to go sit on the beach that is on the other side of the water from the hotel. We will sit in the shade of a palm tree or any other tree offering decent shade over there. This was a new spot for us. There were new reef spots to explore, I got distracted by those and lost the pace a little. I was again in the sun. TW came over and I told him I was now stuck, the reef was shallow and I didn’t know which way to go to get to the other side. I could get back out of this spot but I couldn’t see a way forward, without walking and we don’t like walking on the reef. There is so much down there, best to float over it. He went first. He made it through the spot directly in front of me and I was about to head through as well when I had my doubts and I thought about the sharks and how my back felt like it was burning even though the water was cooling it so walking in the sun to a tree seemed like a lot of pain to me. I kind of just got scared and decided to head back and sit in the shade on the hotel side. At least once I was out of the sun there, I was out of the sun. I wouldn’t need to swim all the way back. I would be done with the burning for the day.


Big formation

TW was at the other side as I arrived in the shadey spot of my swim back. I waved. He had the camera. I tried to wave him back but he was sitting on the sand. I wanted to take some more photos. Without the camera, I loitered less, so it was a good thing I didn’t have it. Back on shore, I keep out of the sun and 10-15 minutes later TW arrived back. He says I look like my sunburn has been sunburnt. Great news. It feels like it, I don’t doubt that it has happened. To the room. My creams, sprays, gels and tablets. I need to drink as much water as I can. I don’t want heatstroke or dehydration to go with the sunburn.

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Atoll and ocean

We decide we should rest as much as possible and stay out of the sun. Burn on burn is not great so we don’t want to burn it any more. It is about 10am now and it isn’t too long before the wind drops again, the water is calm, glassy. I say, lets stay out of the water but lets drone again. The sun was rising before so the water was black, in shadows, this morning and now the sun is up you can see all the hues of blue.

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The sail boat stayed for the days

On the way back from our walk this morning, we found a short cut. We did not need to walk over as many rocks, we could walk along the beach, past the beach bungalows and overwater suites that are on the other side of the hotel from our room and past the spa. This would technically be a staff area, I think, we came from the staff side not he way back so didn’t see any staff only signs – but I think if you want to walk from the hotel through that spot it does have one. Going past the spa isn’t staff only but we are walking past a barge. A tiny barge. I think this would be a staff area.

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Itty bitty barge

Our plan is to go all the way over to the beach that we found access to this morning but we get to the barge and see 3 sharks circling in the water. I want to try and film that. We should have used our cameras but they were so close yet so far and I thought it would look cool from the air so we set the drone up and flew it off.

It is a bit loud and taking it close to the water disturbed the water so I didn’t hover low for too long. I could’t see the sharks in the water or on the screen so I flew it off to capture some of the beauty of the atoll we were on. There was a sailing ship in the water near the resort. I had to get far away from the resort, to make sure I didn’t breech any general or local drone rules so I flew towards the sandbar we had canoed to. At this point the drone was over 200m away. I couldn’t hear it, I could barely see it. I had told it to stop flying but looking at it and looking at the screen I thought it was still going further away. A little bit of panic set in. I know I can fly it further away than that but maybe the GPS isn’t great here and if it looses signal it should return home (to the launch spot) but what if the signal is mess up. I launched on the edge of water. I have a bit of a panic so I turn the drone, I want to see if it is responding or not. Eventually I see a response to the remote and I panic a little less.

This flight is 15 minutes, though only the first 8 were recorded. We did fly it out over the ocean but none of that footage was saved. At one point my phone fell out of the remote holder, not long after this the footage cuts out so I may have hit the record button to stop filming when I was putting it back in. I am not sure. The file could have been too large for my phone or it might be saved in a spot I can’t find it but for now there is only footage by the barge and out to the sandbar and back. Over the ocean is currently lost. I bring the drone back from the open water and land. Happy that I have managed to land it on its original case. It is difficult but I don’t want the camera to scratch and we haven’t come up with a better solution for when we travel, yet. Packed up, we take the drone back to our room and head to lunch. Lunch is 12-2. We get there right on 12.

It has been a big day already. Drone, snorkel, sunburn. I have the hamburger. TW has the margarita pizza. Both are fine.


Hamburger with chips and a pizza.

More tablets, more aftersun, more water. My skin is hot. Very hot. Burning. The breeze comes and goes, it isn’t consistent today so we again go for a snorkel. This time, I do only stay in the shade. I take a shirt but a different shirt. It is a bit more hardy. We sit under our bungalow. We don’t really snorkel. We don’t take flippers, just reef shoes – because thongs don’t do well when swimming and I don’t want the soles of my feet to burn. It feels like 10 minutes, it was closer to an hour. I start to get cold in the water. I don’t want to stay in the shade of our bungalow or go in the sun. Too cold, too hot. I need more water, possibly more tablets. The resort does have a pool so we decide to head up there and sit in the shade in the pool. The pool water is warm and I will probably still be cooler than our room but not tempted to look at fish. Also, the pool area has a little bit of the limited internet so I play on my phone on the internet while we wander around the shade in the pool.


The water is far clearer than my foggy mask plus foggy case give it credit for. It can be hard to see if you have taken a photo of anything. We tend to point and hope for the best.

Eventually we head back to our room. On the way we ask about diving for TW. The pass is one of the reasons we came here so I think he should dive it. We ask about the bird island tour also. It is mostly selling at the full day tour and I would want to do the half day tour at most. We book diving in for the next morning and the bird island tour the day after. We aren’t committed to going on the full day tour because on a boat, in the sun, for a full day won’t be fun for me at the moment but if I am ok in two days time we might go. We will assess closer.

TW has steak, but a different steak. Prime Rib. I have the bolognese. Yes, sticking with pasta, did I mention the do them really well?


The big dipper visible above our bungalow

Today has been a big day. It was meant to be a stay out of the sun and relax day but we ended up in the sun more than any other day. I got my sun burn more burnt, we flew the drone twice, walked over the rocks and now safely back in our room, after dark we decide to try and take better photos of the night and stars.


Our night time view with the moonlight.

While I get the tripod and camera ready TW ties up the mosquito net. If I couldn’t handle it touching me last night, you can guarantee I will not be ok with it tonight. We set the timer for 8 second and 15 second exposures and test it out. TW doesn’t like the 15 second, he thinks it looks like daytime and why do I want a night time photo to look like day time. We play a little more and then pack up. I put the chip in the laptop so we can see what they look like on a normal screen when I notice something weird with the fan. TW is sitting on the bed, so I point. I say fan. I don’t really have the words. The mosquito net has somehow caught itself on the fan. The fan isn’t moving so I asked if it had been on and is now stuck or if it was off. TW isn’t sure but he thinks it was on so quickly checks to turn it off. A gust of wind has blown our tied up mosqtuito net on to the fan where the moving fan has twisted it and wrapped it around it. TW untangles it. The net is not broken, the fan works when turned back on, though we leave it off to let it rest. We don’t want to over work the motor. He ties the net up again, better this time. I am in too much pain to sleep so I sit up a while longer and take tablets. I set the alarm on both phones. TW has diving and meeting it 8:15am. His phone is notorious for the alarm not working and I have mine set but I set his as well anyway. Just in case. Eventually, I have another terrible sleep and before I know it I am watching another pretty sky during the sunrise.


Large moon, unobstructed – illuminating our surrounds.

I wake TW, he is mostly awake anyway as the light is hitting him in the eyes, and we sit on the deck, in the shade, and watch the rest of the sunrise. We have breakfast as early as we can and TW gets ready for diving. He is a little stressed as he has only been on 5 dives and it has been a number of years since his last one. The signals and procedures are all a blur and he is hoping to re-learn everything in the 20 minutes before he leaves for the tour. I tell him to stop. He will confuse himself, just identify himself to the instructor and ask for help. We have been told the dive is full, maximum is about 12 people but when we arrive at the meeting point (our hotel reception, which is also the boat dock) the instructor says the afternoon dive is full. This morning dive is just him and 3 divers. One of the divers is a dive master, one is highly experienced but might not be certified and the other is TW.


On the way to the pass

Diving is best in pairs, the instructor says that he and TW will be buddies. Everyone is a little surprised that such an inexpereinced diver is on board. It seems that most people coming to Tikehau are experienced divers or those who will not dive at all and just enjoy the snorkelling and serenity of the atoll. My mind is put to ease, the instructor will be TW’s dive buddy and he will be well taken care of. He has booked on two tank dive experience. This is two dives in one trip. They offer different experiences and I think the others had signed up for 10 tanks, over multiple days. The diving itself was cheap compared to what we remember the pricing being in Australia. We have only paid for the PADI course and we were going to pay for a dive at Reef World on the great barrier reef but we did the Reef Sleep instead and at that time, one dive each was included. During the PADI course it became clear I was not compatible with diving so I was not able to dive at reef world or here on Tikehau. I probably could do it but more than likely I would drown so it is put in the ‘not for me’ basket and no one has to worry about death.


It is a massive wall of reef, not a floor but wall. The steepness of the wall changes and this was relatively flat.

TW, being inexperienced and out of practice, sucked the air back like Homer Simpson eating a hot dog. The instructor let TW use some of his air. His one tank per dive ended up about a tank and a half per dive and his dives were still over 10 + minutes before the others. He really sucked it back. With more experience you don’t waste so much air or energy but he isn’t at that stage yet. There were two different dive spots. The boat went through the Tikehau pass and the first dive was outside. Down at about 20m TW said if I think there are hundreds of fish at the hotel there must be millions out here near the pass. It was more fish than water.



Trying to take photos proved to be a challenge. There is so much gear and he was not confident. The camera was tied to his belt and he could not get it to his face to look properly so he just kind of pointed and pushed the button and hoped he got a photo of what he was looking at. There was a turtle and manta ray, one shark and more fish than he could count. At one point a large school of barracuda swam in and the dive crew hid. He was told to hold on to rocks and keep as low as possible. Hiding from fish wasn’t something he was expecting to do so he found that fun. Later he asked if they are really so dangerous that you need to hide. In a group, probably not but on your own, with a school that big, you are safer to hide. As a tourist group though it is better to be safe and hide. Starfish that looked like rocks and black fish, blacker than he thought black was possible. He doesn’t really remember if he was diving through the pass or just once out and once inside of it. Either way, all the fish were there. Not many sharks and not many rays but all of the fish.



While TW was having the dive experience of a life time, I was sitting in the bar area, avoiding the sun, using the internet. The hotel doesn’t have internet in the rooms and the common area internet is slow as soon as more than one person uses it. Having said that, on occasion we managed to get internet in the room, it was slow but it worked. Generally we haven’t used the internet much nor watched tv. We have watched the waves, sharks, fish or sky but not tv. The discussion was, I would do nothing because I needed to let the sunburn settle and that is what I am doing. Nothing. I enjoy the view and breeze. I write up the blog post from Sydney to Tahiti to Tikehau and manage to add photos so I post it. There are a few mistakes, most of my posts have some, and I notice a couple straight away but the internet is now too slow to edit them. It takes a few hours. I spend longer looking at photos than I need to. I enjoy it, I wonder where certain photos are. Things I thought we captured are missing, are they on my phone or TW’s or had we missed the moment. I wasn’t sure so I searched my phone for a while. It is easy to get distracted when your only job for the morning is ‘do nothing’.


Barracuda that they hid from.

Sick of the internet, I head back to our room and stare out in to the expansive nothingness that is our view. Reef, lagoon wall, ocean and sky. Never ending ocean and sky. Less than 10 minutes later TW is back in the room also. I am surprised that it too me the whole time he was diving to do one thing, the blog post and happy he is back, alive and unscathed. He then tells me about the trip over lunch. We can’t decide if he should tell me then show me the photos, tell me with the photos. Let me look through the photos on the laptop. So we start with him telling me and then he gets distracted looking for a photo to show me that goes with his story. Then he tells me to look at the photos and he will just tell me the story while I look but I find one and ask about it. Lunch arrives. We try again. He tells me what happened. No photos. We look at the photos later and he tells me other stories and I see some photos that he told me the story for and I ask is this when that happened. Yes. Ok. Dive relived. lunch enjoyed. My lunch was a sandwich and TW had the pesto pasta.


View out our windows

We have an after lunch nap. My tiredness is either from the tablets or boredom. Today has been boring for me compared to the others. TW is worn out from excitement I think. My nap is longer, hours in fact. I do feel better for it. My burns are hot but as long as nothing touches me that aren’t burning. We put the aftersun gel on as often as I need it. I feel my core temperature rising and drink as much water as we have in our room and take a tablet. Last think I want is the boring, non activity day for me to be the one I get heat stroke on. We decide to snorkel so I can cool down. After days at the hotel we have just found the spot where we can get in to the water from the bungalows. Not our bungalow but the boardwalk for the bungalows. We don’t have to walk all the way to the beach, we can launch in over the water so we decide to give that a try today.


We found the steps in to the water.

I swim straight to the part of the boardwalk where the ice machine sits and take photos of the fish. TW thinks I am recording so he swims through them, rather abruptly. They dart away, usually they would make a slight break and then reform around you but this time they more than just avoiding being run in to. With this sudden movement of fish, two sharks break out and swim off. It seems the fish had been harbouring some shark fugitives and it is a little funny to watch. I swim after one to try and get a better photo than we have already but it is gone too quickly. They both went the same direction. I try to flip the camera to record but it is more difficult than you would think. By the time I am finished playing with the camera settings one of the sharks comes back around. it appears to have done a loop. So I wait and hope to catch one of them on their next loop. I am in the sun. Not the best plan.


r shark, hanging with his fish friends. I call him Bruce. He has looped back around after the big scary man made all the fish move out of the way.

I film the shark and some fish and then find TW. I tell him he should have let me know if he was going to swim in to the wall of fish because I would have filmed it and I didn’t get a chance, the camera is difficult under water to change between camera and record. He thought I was filming not just taking photos, thats the whole reason he did it. Oh well. It surprised us all including the fish and sharks. We try our best to sit in the shade but there is always something new to see so we end up in the sun more often than not. This time it is TW that gets burnt. A slight burn on the back of he ankle. He feels it getting hot and it is late now, after 6, the sun is going down. With the daylight fading we head back to land and to the pool. The pool is fresh water so it is nice to cool off in here after a swim over the reef. We rinse off under the poolside shower before hopping in to the pool and hang out for about half an hour. Not really doing anything but sometimes you want to be in the water without reef and fish and sharks.


Swimming in to the fish. The only photo of it I managed to get. Most of the fish have already moved. It needed to be filmed but I wasn’t ready.

Below is a video I took after. It is a different wall of fish, yes the resort had many walls of fish, but I was so sad about missing it when Triston did it I filmed it from the first person before we got out. We are in love with this place. My day by day run down may make it sound boring, we really didn’t do a lot and not much that was overly exciting. We spoke to hardly anyone, no guests, rarely staff. So there isn’t much to report on that front. Everyone was friendly but the reason we went here and not somewhere else was the pink sand (debate sill raging about what shade of pink or orange you might call it) and the abundance of fish. I didn’t expect to see walls of fish or swim through them ever let alone every day.

Tonight dinner for me is the lamb shank. It is very tender. Served with pasta and napolitan sauce. I enjoy it. TW has the steak, the same as his first steak. He enjoyed the first one better but this is better than the second one. It’s the kind of steak he prefers of the two options we have.


TW no longer waits for food photos. His steak still looks nice in the background.

On our way back to our room after dinner, in the water we see 4 or 5 sharks. There is definitely four sharks as we see all four at once but one of the sharks looks as though it has come from a spot none of the four had swam off too so it could have been a fifth but we aren’t sure so we call it four. One is really big compared to the others. I don’t know if we have seen this one before, I feel it is the one I saw under our room on the first night. The others all look ok sized when on their own but with this big daddy around they all look like babies. There is a second largish one so it might be the mumma shark. I would say one large, one medium and two or three small. The small ones, I am sure, are what we are usually seeing in the water.


Long fish, just hanging. I liked these ones. Though I say that about almost all of them. Some of these fish look small from the side and when you get above them they are really wide!

We watch for a long time because they are interesting. They aren’t eating, just swimming back and forth and around in circles. Large circles not burnout circles. They aren’t circling and getting ready to eat something, though I really want to see one eat something. Our assumption has been they are well fed but I haven’t seen one eat anything yet so I really can’t be sure. Maybe they are starving and just want to take a bite out of us is we give indication that we are in trouble or vulnerable enough to be good prey.

I have always been afraid of sharks, without ever seeing them. I don’t believe in culling sharks on the coast though. We often hear of a shark attack in Australia and then a shark cull. It is becoming less common but it was happening a lot and I really didn’t like it, even though I was afraid. I just don’t go in to the water. If I don’t want to risk a bite or shark attack, I don’t swim where they live. Simple. I knew these sharks were here and was hoping not to be attacked but was still adventuring in tot he water so if I was attacked it was my fault and that would be it. I wouldn’t want any of the animals killed because of it. Seeing these 4 sharks swarming, circling, I do get a little more afraid. The big one looks big and they are refusing to let me see that they eat. How can I be sure they are well fed if I never see them fill their bellies?

I don’t remember what happened after we watched the sharks. I feel it is likely – apply lots of cooling gel, drink water and take tablets. We have been boiling water in our room to refill the water bottles. I really hate plastic water bottles so try to cut down on our usage of them. It wasn’t too long ago that I decided, and TW agreed, glass or can, no plastic. Here we have very limited choice and rather than buy more and more water in plastic bottles we boil tap water, cool it and then fill the same couple of bottles we already have. We end up with a new bottle each lunch and dinner time but this feels less bad. We did boil and clean the kettle first. I have read of people using the hotel kettle to boil their underwear, in an attempt to clean them. Like putting their dirty undies in to the kettle. I just don’t understand. If you wanted boiling water, surely you could pour boiled water in to the sink and using some soap – possible even before the boiled water goes in – wash them that way? Why do you need to boil them in the kettle. Anyway my guess is, I was gelled and TW boiled some water and I drifted in and out of sleep all night. It wouldn’t have been anything too interesting for me to have no memory of it, it’s not like we were kettle boiling undies.


Calm clear water.

When we get up the water is dead calm and I have a dress with me in case we have time and were able to do a trash the dress. We try to work out if we should go now – 6am or after breakfast. Endless stuffing around means it is 7:08 before we are ready to go and at this point breakfast is open, 7am today so we have breakfast first. As we go to breakfast TW says, all we need now is a breakfast shark, right on cue a shark swam in to view. We sound shark obsessed, I get it. They are cute though. Anyway, we head to breakfast with camera gear and dress packed in a carry on bag. TW is happy because nutella is back on the buffet. It was on the first morning and he hasn’t seen it since. I say the may have run out and just got it back in, or maybe it is only there on certain days a week. The reason doesn’t matter, he is happy.


So pretty.

We walk to one of the spots we have sussed out. It takes a lot longer then we thought. We get about half way there and I say lets take some rocky photos. The landscape is a bit unexpected so we may as well take some here while we can. I don’t know if we moved slowly or if time sped up but everything takes a lot longer than you would think. We change in a hidden spot in the bushes. I pull the dress over what I am wearing and then undo my swimmer top so you can’t see the straps in the photo. My change of clothes was easy, I didn’t really change I guess. TW is butt naked when I turn around. I was like what the hell. He could have taken his shirt off and put the other on then changed his pants with the long shirt hiding his shame but no, he decided the best way to change his shirt and shorts was to be completely naked in the middle of this rocky outcrop. His shirt had been removed first and then pants, he then replaced his pants. So he had no shirt on while he took his pants off and put new ones on. I just don’t understand the logic. What. The. Hell. Did I really marry this guy? I ask him why he didn’t change his shirt and then pants. Confused by the common sense, he says he will take that on board and look to implement such processes in the future. I am not sure I want to take photos with this guy anymore. What is wrong with him.


Looks like sand but its rocks and coral.

So we take the photos. Nothing is ever what you hope or plan. There are photos, we were there, they aren’t great. I tried to explain what we would do and TW didn’t understand. The wind was strong and blowing the dress so I told him to hold the end of the dress, have his feet far away and lean forward like he is about to blow away…


Oh no, its so windy. I might faint. Or as TW called it – it looks like you just threw sand in my face.

With that over we head to the water for the more traditional trash the dress photos. This will be interesting. 10 second timer, water, heavy wet clothes and trying to look stylish. I don’t like the water so underwater photos will be interesting. It is starting to get hot and the only thing we managed on the list is the 10 second timer. The camera was set and it knew what to do. The rest, what can I say, we have photos of us being hot angry fools sometimes in the water, sometimes not, never looking good or like we enjoyed it.
IMG_0525As we get to the beach area that we have decided on we see in the water a fin, on closer inspection it is a reef shark. I don’t manage to get a photo and the water is extremely shallow. He swims off, he was heading that way anyway I don’t think we had anything to do with that decision. I said to TW I was worried that a shark might mistake my dress for a jellyfish, go to eat it and get stuck in the dress. It had netting so I was also worried about “going fishing” in the dress because it might act like a big cast net and I really didn’t want to upset it. We tried to quickly get a photo with the shark, I pretend he is still there and take it, just in case he is and we can’t see him.


Is Brucette still here?

We try different spots, we take photos of each other because, while I had initially said I would, I didn’t want to put the tripod in the water. When we left our room the water was clear as glass and now it was a bit choppy. Not choppy like actual choppy water you see but there were small ripples and waves. A current. I didn’t see a way to anchor the tripod in the water in such a way that the camera would stay underwater – it likes to float – and the tripod would stay in place. There may have been a way, not without damaging something and I didn’t want to damage the reef.


Trying not to get knocked over in the tidal flow.

It doesn’t take long for us to be over it and decide to pack up. It is in this moment that TW has a look back over some of the images we have captured and he says to me that I really shouldn’t puff my cheeks out when I go under water. So, you know when your learning to hold your breath, I think toddlers do it. You jump in the pool and hold your breath and you have your cheeks full of air, for no reason? I never grew out of that. If I get me head wet in water, my eyes have to be closed. If my eyes are closed and my face is wet, my cheeks are full of air. I don’t really understand how not to do it. I don’t consciously do it. I would have to focus very hard not to do it. So, he looks back at the photos and I am doing it in every single one. We are both, hot, angry and tired, we aren’t going to reshoot them. Even if we tried I would still do it, it isn’t something that I can just snap out of.

Version 2

Fish at the top of the water. I like those fish. Always hiding in plain sight.

We pack up and get changed back in to normal clothes. TW takes his pants off and puts a towel on, then undies and shorts before standing around for a while, then changed his shirt. A slight improvement. I tie my swimmers back up. Take the dress off. Put a sarong on and we walk back. A long, long, boring, too tired to talk track back to our room. It feels like we were in the water for 20 minutes and if that was the case this walk back was over an hour. We left breakfast around 7:30am and get back to our room at 11am. I have no idea where the time went. Maybe the walk back took 2 hours. Maybe we were in the water for 2 hours. It is hard to say. I guess I could check the time stamp on the camera but it is set to Sydney time.


Trash the shirt and pants.

As we pass reception we are asked if the carry on bag is our drone. Word has made it back to reception that we were flying one yesterday. He mentions that we must go far to fly it. It isn’t, it is a giant sopping wet wedding dress. He also enquires about TW’s dive yesterday and did he enjoy it. With a monotone voice, convening less interest than intended he said it was interesting and he did enjoy it. He sounds bored and sarcastic. He did enjoy it, really he did. I assure the staff member as he was the one who booked it in for TW. He really had a great time.


The best we could do without a photographer.

It isn’t long before lunch will be open. We take the dress out of the bag and slide it over one of the deck chairs. The chair sits inside the dress as if it were me so that wind can blow through it. The dress is too large and heavy to hang on anything. This seems the simplest solution to get it dry before we leave. We can only hope that it will be dry before we leave. Did I mention it is massive, 15 layers or something. It is a proper big wedding dress with a decent length train on it. Not the best dress to take on holidays, not a great dress to try and dry quickly after swimming in it.

Lunch is uneventful. Lasagne for TW and pizza reine for me. Both are nice.


Lasange again. Nom nom nom.

We let lunch settle and plan to pack as tomorrow is the day we check out to go to Bora Bora and Easter Sunday and our 1 year Easterversary – married Easter  Sunday 2017 – but we aren’t in the mood for packing so we go for a swim to the beach on the other side of the resort. This is a swim. Directly there, very few distractions. We take the snorkels but don’t really stop on the way over. The plan is to explore because I have not yet been to this spot. It isn’t what I imagined so I lose interest in any great exploration of the spot very quickly and would rather be in the water. I don’t want to be out in the sun. Today has been the first day my sunburn hasn’t been constant pain, it is calm. This sandy spot is a bit dirty. The only spot at the resort that I have seen litter and there are ‘stink pools’ – water trapped in the sand formation and now sitting smelly and stagnant. I head back and snorkel over reef and rocks that I had not previously seen. TW follows.
IMG_0783.JPGPast the puffer fish and on our way back to the over water launch spot, I see one of the sharks. I always think it is the small one, it could be the larger one. Hard to say when you don’t have the others around for scale. I try to take a photo. I try to follow as they do seem to be on a loop. TW doesn’t see the shark or the puffer fish. Good thing I had the camera. We see the wind pick up and then a storm coming in. With the cloud cover settling over the water it becomes difficult to see and the waves get a bit choppy so we call it a day. Rain when in the water isn’t an issue but when the conditions turn and you can’t fully enjoy it or you can’t see anything, I don’t think there is much of a point to stay in the water.


I finally made it to the other side of the hotel.

Snorkelling is basically all we have done since we arrived so I am surprised and happy when I see a fish I hadn’t seen here yet. I call him a puffer fish but I really don’t know if he is or not. TW explores the reef differently from me. This stops us crashing in to each other. As we get closer to our launch spot, past the puffer fish and on our way back to the over water launch spot, I see one of the sharks. I always think it is the small one, it could be the larger one. Hard to say when you don’t have the others around for scale. I try to take a photo. I try to follow as they do seem to be on a loop. TW doesn’t see the shark or the puffer fish. Good thing I had the camera. We see the wind pick up and then a storm coming in. With the cloud cover settling over the water it becomes difficult to see and the waves get a bit choppy so we call it a day. Rain when in the water isn’t an issue but when the conditions turn and you can’t fully enjoy it or you can’t see anything, I don’t think there is much of a point to stay in the water.

The storm is big and feels like it is going to blow furniture off the deck. It doesn’t, we get the dress inside, it is now dry, before any rain hits. Everything from our balcony or front porch is brought inside and windows and doors closed. The room gets hot quickly without the breeze. From experience we know that the strong winds won’t last long, the storm won’t last long and we can open everything up and air it out again soon. Rain hasn’t hit yet but it looks like it is going to. Near 7pm and on the horizon we see the rain coming. Dinner being at 7pm and the restaurant was very busy last night we discuss if we should head to the bar and use the internet before the rain hits or be stuck in our room until it passes. We had to the bar. So did everyone else. No one is drinking, just waiting for dinner and making the same choice as us to arrive before the rain.


Mini samosas, olives and coconut.

TW orders two cocktails. Insistent I would probably like one. I test. I don’t. He drinks two. We get an olive, samosa and coconut snack platter with the cocktails. I enjoy that. The storm has some of the heaviest rain we have seen but it lasts no longer than half an hour. Wind arrives first and leaves last, the rain goes hard and fast and leaves just as abruptly as it arrived. It’s like your alcoholic friend, showing up drunk to your party, vomiting profusely everywhere and then disappearing in to the night without cleaning up after themselves. They showed up and you should just be thankful they did. The rain has come and gone, but at least it rained?

Dinner, we have a special spot, the special chairs. A table reserved for us and decorated. Tonight is our last night and this was a very cute way to say goodbye. TW chooses Bolognese. We have enjoyed the pasta. I have Carbonara again. Every night we had planned to get their chocolate molten cake desert, a chocolate fondant if you are more used to that term. The meals were so filling we had not been able to. We made the conscious effort not to eat the bread rolls but we still couldn’t fit it in tonight. I say it is probably ok, it says ‘Pearl Beach’ not ‘Tikehau’ and our next hotel is also a Pearl Beach hotel so we can probably get it there.  When we sign the bill, there is one for food and one for the bar – as it has been any other time we ordered drinks with out meal – only this time the bar one says $0. Confused TW looks up and he is told it is right, he wasn’t sure exactly what she had said but he thought it might have been our leaving gift. He understood the part when he was assured the total for the cocktails was nil and beyond that he tried but failed to hear properly. What a nice surprise. Especially for TW, he drank them both.


One of our special farewell table settings. We had it for our last dinner and breakfast.

Again, we have said we will pack but don’t. The water is still, the storm has passed. We stare in to the water and watch all that is happening in the light of the full moon. Time stops or speeds up when you are mesmerised by the water and the creatures in it. We are ready for bed by the time we stop snooping on the lives of sea creatures. TW moves our open, ready and waiting suitcases out of the way so we have a clear path to the bathroom, should we need it during the night or in the morning.

Easter Sunday, our Easterversary. Yay, our clothes aren’t packed and we aren’t organised. Double yay, our bill and check out instructions are under the door. Yay, we don’t want to go. Don’t make us go. We don’t want to pack. Don’t want to leave. Don’t want to go to Bora Bora, even though it is world famous and TIkehau isn’t, please don’t make us go. How could it possibly be as good, or better than here. Don’t make me leave. Noooo. Mini freak out. We don’t pack. We do watch sharks and eat breakfast. Today is the first day, our last day, that I realise we could have ordered eggs from the kitchen as part of the buffet. I don’t know if I would have their pastries were really amazing and I tended to stick with those and I have already finished my breakfast when I realise so I am too full to do that today. It is good to know though, that you can order an omelette, fried eggs etc should you wish to have eggs a certain way, as part of the buffet breakfast. I tell TW. He asks if I wanted any or would have ordered if I knew days before, he says he might have. Neither of us do today. We need to get back to the room and pack. TW had left the room after me and I saw our breakfast shark so we stop on the way back in the hopes he will also see it. We don’t see him.


A little bit of the room. We were packing up to leave, forgot to take room photos on arrival.

We should pack, so we get ready to start packing and touch everything we own and decide we should get in the water instead. The overwater steps is where we head. Lots of fish hang around me. I am still unsure if they are hoping to be fed or if I smell like sugar because I drink too much coke and pepsi. They tend to like me more than TW and so do mosquitoes so maybe I do smell sweet. We decided to go barefoot. The flippers are our own and we don’t want to pack them wet. We could borrow some from the hotel but it is the other direction from the launch spot and well the extra 10 steps to it just seem unnecessary. Barefoot and snorkel mask. Our snorkel masks were with broken or missing, mine was missing, when we went to find and pack them at home. We borrowed masks from the hotel which meant they didn’t need to be dry for us to pack but our reef shoes or flippers would need to be packed. Items we need to pack we would rather be dry so we don’t take anything we don’t need. We do wear swimmers and hope we are in and out early enough for them to dry before we need to pack them.


The water is so clear and sometimes it is so calm

Lots of fish, some fun with fish. I get swarmed and circled by some fish. A couple keep running in to the camera so I hold it closer to my chest. They just swim closer to me. I change the camera to video in the hopes that I can record them circling me. TW is somewhere else and he isn’t seeing this or being circled. Just fish, no sharks, I don’t think they are getting ready to feed. I get a little panicked because so many fish and getting so close. I feel trapped. Then a big fish joins the crowd. Wow, these cute fish have managed to intimidate my by swimming in loops. The little fish, I was almost ok with but once the big fish (still not a shark) joins in, that’s it. I am unsettled and head back to the stairs. TW meets me there. I tell him about and say he should go. Now that I am away from it I think it might have been fun so he should try. I swim him over to the spot. No fish are around. A few show up but it isn’t the same. It is close to pack up time so we go back to the stairs.

One of the others guests is also using these stairs to get in to the water. He has a lounge floaty and has tied it to the stairs by some string. I start to get out of the water but slip on the bottom step. It is covered with sea grass and algae like green stuff which is a bit slippery. The floaty is blown off the stairs by a strong gust of wind. As I fall my hand reaches out and I somehow catch the string for the floaty. It wouldn’t have gone too far. TW is still in the water, it isn’t like I just saved a falling baby from a burning building but I am amused by the timing. I hand the string back. I have to climb up a few more stairs because I can’t yet reach that high. He ties in on a bit better this time and once we have room to get out of the water we do.

This time we pack. Swimmers are out to dry. Everything else is packed. We mope about. When it is time to head to the marina for our transfer, we pack the swimmers in a couple of plastic bags and say our final goodbyes to Tikehau.


The boat is ready to take us away from this paradise. Pretty and sad at the same time.


Tikehau day 1 and 2

We arrived on Tikehau island right on lunch time. We plan to head to lunch as soon as we have everything settled in our room. It looks like there will be a storm blowing through.


Our first sighting of a school of fish under the bungalow.

The view is great. The sun is out, sky is blue, water is every shade of blue, we can see clearly in to the water and saw a shark and hundreds of fish under our bungalow on the way to lunch. The weather had been forecast for rolling thunderstorms. Intermittent but a shower basically every daylight hour we were here. There is blue sky and fluffy clouds on one side of us and a small section of sky with a dark and foreboding cloud on the other.

Not sure of what to order, we both get the fish burger.


It looks small but is surprisingly filling. Enjoyable, not the same as the fish sandwiches we had on Rarotonga, but also not the same country nor are we at the Fishermans club. It was nice. While eating lunch the rain pours down. It only lasts a couple of minutes, at best. It looks as though that will be the last rain for some time as we can not see any other heavy clouds in the sky.


Before the rain


During the rain

Recharged, we head for a snorkel. It seems crazy to travel for so long to arrive at lunch time and then snorkel, by the same token is seems silly to travel so far and not make the most of it. We grab some masks, unpack our flippers and camera with the underwater housing and off we set.


Mr shark swiming from under our bungalow as we set off to snorkel under our bungalow. Yes, we still got in. I mean he is swimming towards someone elses bungalow so it should be fine.

I am sure we picked the worst possible route but we walked to the beach and set our stuff down then swam over to our villa. The reef is large and in some parts it has a decent height to it so swimming over it was difficult. We didn’t want to bump it. I can float well but TW has issues with floating. I float on the surface, I guess I am full of hot air because I am very buoyant. TW is more of sinking floater. His head is usually ok but his butt and feet sink. He has to exert a lot of energy to keep his body parallel so it usually isn’t. Some how we made it over to our bungalow and we were met with a wall of fish. The same abundance of fish we saw on our way to lunch. I don’t know why we had forgotten about them but it was super fun to swim with them. About 20 minutes later I remember we saw the fish with the shark, we didn’t see the shark now though. I kind of wanted to see it but at the same time, OMG shark. I don’t care how small, I am scared. We snorkel until the sun went down and have a really relaxing afternoon.


The wall of fish from the water.

After snorkelling we sit in the water at the shore and some fish come and hang out with us. People are told not to feed the fish but I get the feeling they are waiting to be fed. We don’t have anything to give to them and I start to feel guilty about it but I just take a tonne of photos of them instead.


Friendly fish.

The water is so clear, you don’t need to snorkel to see what is going on. We watch from above and enjoy the cooling water. The water temperature is more like a bath so it isn’t actually cooling water but there is a breeze and this is what is actually cooling us down.


Clear water, reef just off the beach. The hut is the main building, it houses the only restaurant.

We more out of the water and I see what I think is an octopus in the water. It isn’t quite clear if it is so I stand up and move closer. I point, TW sees nothing but then armed with my camera and sunies I am sure it is. I take photos of “rocks” but eventually TW sees what I see. It is exciting and we aren’t sure which side we are on. We think he is going to eat a fish or the fish is going to eat him. Neither happened that we saw but we only saw him one time. I had thought I saw one earlier that day but my eye only caught him after he hid and my brian was processing peripheral vision. I doubted what I saw. Now I knew for sure they were there and they can hide well.

It is now near dinner time so we pack up and head back to our room to rinse off and get ready for dinner. It has been a pretty big day so we are excited for the relaxed meal ahead of us. We order a starter to share – the raw fish trilogy. It is very enjoyable.


Trilogy or raw fish. Was very good and the wasabi had a proper hit but no lasting burn.

I like the fine sliced raw tuna the most. Sashimi tuna that I am used to is fairly chunky and this was super thin like you might have for smoked fish. The wasabi was great, one of the better hits of heat without any real burn that I have had and the sauces were all nice. For main I pick the duck. I am not a huge fan of duck but I figure the French do it well so why not try it, TW ordered the Mahi Mahi steak. It comes with Quinoa salad but he gets it with chips. It is basically the same amount of fish as our burger for lunch with chips and none of the burger pieces. It looked a little disappointing. Luckily my meal was very large so I was able to share most of my duck – yeah I am still not a huge fan – with him. I had multiple sides and there are bread rolls with every meal so we were full before we could get any desert.


My duck. It was a large portion. They serving sizes looked small when presented but this could actually nearly feed two.

TW thought he would be up much later because it was decently early but he laid down on the bed and was snoring within 5 minutes. He did wake himself up and I laughed at him but he was off to sleep again in no time so I also went to bed.

About 3 am, after multiple dreams of people crawling in our deck windows – the deck that faces the boardwalk – I heard some flip-flopping in the water and could not stay asleep and pretend any more. I had been dreaming about someone splashing in a bath but our room didn’t have a bath. TW later told me he had also put the splish splosh in to his dream but someone was playing with water in the sink. He mocked me and said even his dream brain knew the room didn’t have a bath. I said it was more concerning that his brain came up with a plausible plan but he didn’t get out of bed to investigate. My dream had nothing of actual concern in it. Anyway, that was a different day so another story.

I got out of bed to see what it was and now that I was awake I needed to go to the bathroom. As I passed by the glass floor I saw a big shark. I went to the bathroom and then told TW that the shark was much bigger than the one we had seen during the day. Like twice the size. He got out of bed and we walked around to try and find it so he could see it. I saw it again but he was looking the other way, he couldn’t hear my attempt to get his attention over the waves crashing on the reef and when I looked to see what exactly he was doing – he was pulling a Homer Simpson and scratching his butt. Annoyed that I had now seen it twice and him not at all he decided to take some photos of the stars, as this is what had distracted him.

There were a lot of stars in the sky but at 4am and not really planning to be awake neither of us set the camera up properly and the photos didn’t come out great. We had taken some sunset photos before going to sleep. Those were a little better.
IMG_0153Back to sleep, ready for the next day and I am actually starving so I can not wait for breakfast time to arrive. TW set him alarm because he did not want to miss breakfast and we were woken by the alarms to start he day.

Our first breakfast at the resort. We both head straight for the pastries. I get the chocolate filed ones and TW gets plain croissants but picks up some nutella on the way. We have water and TW has black coffee. There is bacon, eggs, sausages and hash browns along with breads, cheese and meats, a selection of fruits, yogurt, fruit juices and condiments for breakfast. The buffet is small but caters to just about everyone.

IMG_0183After breakfast, for some unknown reason, we decide to grab a canoe and row ourselves over to a sand bar. TW joined the row team at uni in his final year, so he is an expert. He tells me to sit in front as the back steers more and then rather than either of us call out which side to row on, he will yell at me when he does it wrong and our paddles clash. It is a long and annoying row over to the sand bar. We arrive and find at the end of the sand bar is an island with a house on it, so it isn’t even a deserted island. It is someones home. We stick to the sand bar end and snorkel. Initially we snorkel on the inner side of the sand but the current is flowing that way and while it is a lagoon it is 746 square kilometres of lagoon so getting sucked in to the middle wouldn’t be great. Not wanting to fight against the current we head back to the sand bar, walk to the other side and swim towards the lagoon wall and then float back to the sand bar. It is on this side we come across large coral formations with lots of fish and a shark.


There is a share in the middle of the photo



Zoomed in of the shark, just in case you couldn’t find it.

We saw a shark before snorkelling yesterday but not while we were in the water and we are quite far from the hotel and our bungalow so it was unlikely this was our night time shark. TW has the camera, I try to get his attention and point out the shark. I hope he understands and takes a photo because this is the first time, to my knowledge, I have snorkelled or swam with a shark. It is possible others have been nearby but I have not been aware of them so this marks a big moment for me. I did not freak out, ok I might have slightly. I tried not to look like a struggling seal ready to be eaten, I am sure this shark is too small to be eating seals anyway but I stick to floating and not swimming and soon I loose sight of him again.


IMG_0213We make a few more passes of the rocks and reef, swimming out and floating back, before we decide to head back. At this point we should have towelled off and applied more sunscreen. Hindsight. The row over wasn’t amazing so we try TW in the front. He says the front steers more, I keep in time with his movements. I don’t always bother rowing. The water is shallow so TW gets out and walks as he thinks it will be faster. Then he tells me to get out and walk and pull the boat. He gets back in. I get out. I don’t really know how to get out so I tip it a bit on my way and TW flips it over and falls out about 20 seconds later. He says it was my oafish entry in to the water but the delay was so long, I had already started walking and pulling the canoe with me so I think he just wanted to be flipped in to the water.

Eventually we arrive back to where the canoes are stored. We get ready and head for lunch. I had the lasagne and TW had pesto pasta. These were both huge meals. The lasagne didn’t look big but I could barely get through it. Possibly the bread rolls filled us up but they were both very enjoyable.


My lasange came with salad. It looks small but is more than filling and the pasta is a huge bowl.

By the time lunch is over it is clear we have both been badly sunburnt. Luckily we have after sun and every other cream, lotion and tablet that might be needed in the room. We agree to do everything we can to reduce the damage once back in the room and rest for the afternoon.

It isn’t long before I decide we should snorkel again, we can stay in the shade and just hang out under bungalow. TW agrees but only if we stay out of the sun and we have to apply more sunscreen and wait for it to set in before getting in the water. Agreed. We set off from the beach and this time, trying to stay out of the sun, we swim along the shadow of the boardwalk. It is deeper and easier to get to our bungalow but there are some huge formations to avoid.

IMG_0109We snorkel a little and sit under our bungalow in the shade for a while, it is nice to cool off a bit. My skin is very hot, I am burnt in a lot of places. TW had managed to avoid being burnt for the most part. We aren’t sure yet if the burn is still to show up or if this was the worst of it. Shade is a must and the cool water feels nice.

The path in the shade takes us past the wall of fish. Slightly intimidating but it feels like your swimming inside someones fish take and all the fish have decided to hang out and gossip. They eye you up and down, some swim at you to check out what you are doing. No one seems to care too much that you are there. Everyone is going about the same business as before, once you have been looked over by a few. It is an interesting feeling – being judged by fish.


I called these the upside down fish.

After we finish, we sit by the beach. There are cute little fish at this launch spot. I take photos and a couple of them are playing about and getting really close so I leave my hand out. I dip my arm only slightly under the water and wonder if a fish will swim over it. One did, then another. It was kind of cool. I enjoyed the interaction and then with my hand still stretched out slightly, in a relaxed position, the fish that had been first to swim over my arm bites the tip of my index finger. In shock I say ow and pull my arm back. No pain, I giggle. It was funny. I guess they were hanging out with me because they thought I was going to feed them.


Fish just before two of them bite my leg – with TW watching.

TW comes to the shore. He arrived before me and went to the toilet. I didn’t realise he was out of the water, I thought he was behind me exploring. I tell him about it and make him sit in the spot so I can get some photos of him and the fish. He doesn’t want to sit, he stands near me while I tell him about my finger being bitten and just as I finish telling the story, two fish dive in and nibble on my leg. I jump. Again, it doesn’t really hurt and it is funny but also I hope these fish aren’t poisonous or anything. TW decides to sit while he tells me I had really wanted the fish to bite me anyway. I take some photos. Pointing out that we are in the wide open and bright sunshine, TW suggests we get out of the water rather than get any more sunburnt than we already are.


The camera case is wet and blurs the photo’s a bit when it has spots of water on it but hopefully you can still see all the fish in the water.


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Sydney to Tahiti to Tikehau

We booked to go to Tahiti when we booked London. I had a status credit offer and Qantas had a sale. Tahiti is a bucket list destination for us and given we decided 2018 = no boring bits, we jumped on the sale. TW already had annual leave for another holiday we had planned but cancelled. Points tickets, one way, to South Africa. We cancelled because it was over Easter and made it awkward to have my birthday or our anniversary off and while those days are only 4 days apart they are both on weekdays so we thought we would change the dates and go somewhere on those more important dates. Well, the flight sale landed on the same dates as we had before, so the plan went out the window. New justification, we got married on Easter Sunday and we are away for Easter Sunday so we have 2 anniversaries every year that Easter is not on the 16th of April and at least our first “first anniversary” is spent in Tahiti, more specifically it will be in an overwater bungalow on Tikehau. Date wise, it is the date we change from Tikehau to Bora Bora #bestofbothworlds. Our trip will be 5 nights Tikehau, 4 nights Bora Bora, 1 night Moorea and 2 nights Tahiti – one at the start and one at the end of the trip for flight purposes.


Can’t beleive it was a year(ish) ago! Yay, anniversary trip 🙂

This is one trip TW was excited about before we got to the airport. He had a mini freak out the night before our flight. Nothing was ready, he didn’t feel prepared, he wasn’t packed, the house wasn’t cleaned and in his freak out he sat and watched tv for 2 hours to “calm down”. In reality, he had packed the night before but we couldn’t find the tripod I wanted. I don’t know why I lose this one so much but I can never find it when I want it and when I get back from trips I always find it. I make a mental note of where that is and laugh at how it was in an obvious spot and then promptly scrunch up that mental note, set it on fire, throw the bin our and burn down the tip. I have no clue where it might be. I am looking forward to getting home and finding it and getting annoyed at how obvious the spot was and my mental note taking abilities. Anywho, I have two so I packed the other while TW sat in his cranky state.

Qantas offered us a paid upgrade – start at $200 plus points per person and increase your bid to increase your chances. I laughed. What a waste of points and money. The day before, right on 25 hours, we decided we would put in for an upgrade but a classic points upgrade. It is just the flight to Auckland as Qantas doesn’t fly all the way to Papeete. 20,000 points each, a huge amount of points considering the classic award flight cost in business to Auckland but we are connecting on to Papeete so breaking the flights down to separate tickets wasn’t too appealing and this way we spend no cash. The upgrade was awarded. I checked it was the better business class. We have the plane with flatbeds, not the seats in business. Yes, it is a morning flight and only 3 hours but we have the points and Tahiti – yay. Plus it is a pseudo anniversary trip – not sure if anyone else will count Easter Sunday as our anniversary and we kind of just made it up ourselves to make the dates fit with the celebration we wanted but hey, we can so why not.


Uber Selfie

Ok, we wake up at 6 am. Get ready and leave by 7 am. Uber to the airport, check in at business. The day is 27th of March and we have just found out the airport has been refitted. No problems, business check-in is still the same place. Immigration is easy with the e-gates. Customs/security is easy apart from people in front of me. Despite being in the express lane the line coordinator for the regular lane gave in to a family of non-travellers and allowed them to use one of the express lanes, the one I had been directed to. Yes, the 3 of them too over half an hour to put their bags on the belt and go through, with all their failed attempts to empty their pockets and follow directions. TW was ahead of them and they were between us. Usually, TW picks the slow lane, this time he was through and waiting for me. We were told where to line up, not a ‘pick your own’ but a ‘go to this line’ kind of day. It worked for TW only I was stuck and he still had to wait. I laughed, he got annoyed. Unscathed by the process and more surprisingly, neither of us bomb tested, we were on our way to the lounge.

Breakfast time in the business class lounge is something I haven’t experienced in a long time. It wasn’t too bad. Bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, pastries, toast, pancakes, coffee, juice, special frittatas – brought around by staff, not available at the buffet, yogurt, fruit, boiled eggs. Soft drink and all your alcohol were available as always. The business lounge is ok, it was very busy. Quiet, which was a nice change from the afternoon when I find it is full of families and the hum of the lounge is a decent bit louder. The best thing about the lounge is that we can wake up and not worry about anything. Wake up late – ok shower in the lounge. Wake up hungry, you know you have a decent amount of options in the lounge. Wake up cranky, well, that’s on you.

Our flight is delayed, an hour or so, but still time make our connection in Auckland, so we are not too concerned, eventually its time to board and we head to our seats 1E & 1F upfront. I plan to watch the end of Coco as I had watched it part way through on another flight but I decide just to watch it from the beginning as the headphones and screen are better in business class. TW watches his own movie, mine was better, sometimes we watch the same thing this was not one of those times. We sit back and relax, we are settled well before take off and after all of the safety and take off announcements there are no more interruptions until the lunch service.
In Business class the choice and quality is a decent step up from economy, I don’t remember the full list of options, but do remember that there was a starter of Bacon and Bean Soup and also a Main of Bacon and Bean Soup. TW joked and said he will get bacon and bean soup for starter and main – He didn’t. Overall the flight to Auckland was smooth and uneventful – exactly how you want a flight to be.


He is pretty happy about using my points to upgrade.

Making our connection seemed tight, and the distance between where we disembarked to the gate to leave for Tahiti seemed to be miles, though after eventually making it through international transfers, TW’s carry on bag was searched and bomb tested this time. We are going through the bomb testing when another transfer person arrives. Our screening is almost complete and his bag is selected for screening. My bags weren’t so it wasn’t a case of everyone gets screened, every other person or flagged – I don’t know. This person makes a huge fuss. Huge fuss. In doing so he confuses the staff and slows his whole process down. He is saying that his flight is about to leave and he is going to miss the plane and they need to be quick. Hurry, hurry. One way to make yourself look guilty is to say something like that. We were also a little concerned about missing the flight, not because we wouldn’t be taken care of, it was booked as one ticket so we would be fine but we wouldn’t be able to get to Tahiti in time for our next flight and we didn’t want to miss the first day of our holiday.

We said nothing and let the guys get on with their job, this guy has caused a kerfuffle and everything takes a lot longer for him, no matter how much he says the process needs to be quick. On the screens throughout the terminal and in the transfer area it said “go to gate” this means you still have a long time before boarding, boarding doesn’t take 2 minutes, usually it would take at least 20 minutes. The gave us a little peace of mind, we were rushing but we weren’t panicking like this other guy. We made it to gate six and find out the flight is actually delayed, it will begin boarding in about 20 minutes. There isn’t enough time for us to go to the lounge so we wait at the gate. Time flies, our row is in the first set to be called. Everyone decides to try and board but the gate staff only let those on who are in the called rows, the other people are told to wait but they wait where they were and cause a huge issue as the people behind them don’t know to board. There are at least 5 couples who are told to wait before we get to the front of the line. No big deal but it is just nicer when people listen to and follow instructions. Although, it is hard to know what languages people were speaking and the announcements were in English and French.


Colourful Air Tahiti seats.

We have not flown with Air Tahiti Nui before so didn’t know what to expect and for this leg, we were in economy. We had the window and aisle seat, the plane was an A340- and had 2-4-2 configuration in economy. Tw prefers the aisle and MT likes the window so the configuration suited us. Towards the back of the plane where the tail tapers in it changes to 2-3-2 so there are fewer people in the middle row if this is more suitable for your travelling party just know there are sets of 3 and sets of 4.

On our London trip, I watched 3 billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri which is on this flight so I tell TW to watch it and we watch together. It is an interesting movie, no happy ending, nothing big or fancy. Just a terrible crime, which you don’t see, and the unapologetic and in no way romanticised life after. I enjoyed the way the story was told and if something could go wrong, like in real life, it generally did. The film had been edited for the audience on this flight where on Qantas it had not. A lot of the movie is lost without the swearing, half the story is told through those words and it was amusing for me the number of crud buckets the town had. This flight wasn’t that long but it felt like it was taking forever. There was bad turbulence for long stretches and the pilots did a great job in trying to avoid the worst of it but we still hit fairly bad turbulence though we were set to fly through severe. TW and I were getting very tired even though the day hadn’t really been very long and economy after business was a bit of an effort.


Air Tahiti Nui – we are on our way to somewhere new!!

Dinner service was actually pleasant, although ill-timed with turbulence and I do believe some people prompts brought meals back up. We both had the beef and it was a stroganoff type beef with a very well made pasta, possibly fettucini.

Our flight lands into Papeete just before midnight, it is after midnight before we get through immigration and collect our bags. We booked an Airbnb as close to the airport as possible so we didn’t have far to travel. Our host had included airport transfers and was standing with a smile and a sign with TW’s name waiting for us just after baggage collection. It was super easy and for a night, where it really was a night only, served us well.

Breakfast was included with our Airbnb, it started at 6 am through until 10 am but our flight was 11 am so we decided to go to the airport at 9. We didn’t want to miss the flight. Our host had suggested 10 am but our luggage might have needed to be repacked for weights so we went at 9 am. We woke up about 8 am and got ready. Had breakfast, which was french bread and condiments. We had plain bread, no butter or spreads. Coffee, tea, and water were also available but we just had the bread. It was really nice bread.


Simple but effective breakfast setting. Bread, spreads including nutella. Tea, coffee, sugar and a kettle.

At the airport, it took all of 2 minutes to check in and now we had 2 hours to wait for boarding. Well, our host had been right but it was better to be there early and bored than late and stressed. We sit about and do a whole lot of nothing, trying to find a seat under the best fan. Flights to Bora Bora and Huahine come and go and eventually it is our turn.


Air Tahiti plane selfie.

Tikehau! How we have waited for this name to be called. It is called first in French and everyone stands up to board so while everyone else has just arrived and we have been waiting for an eternity, we are back of the line. Air Tahiti (different airline from Air Tahiti Nui) has a free seating plan. We board from the back and everyone seems to sit in the first seats they come across. TW says it seems to make sense to sit at the front first and fill backward for speed. That isn’t what happens though so we board and it isn’t long before we take off.


Yay, we got leid on arrival. It has been more than 24 hours since we left home, it shows.

Our flight goes to Tikehau and then Rangiroa. The flight is full but only 1/3 are going to Tikehau, everyone else it seems is heading on to Rangiroa. Those travelling on, stay on the plane and others leave. There is mild confusion among some passengers, announcements are made in three languages but it appears that this does not cover all languages of those on board and additional clarification is required. We are among the first few off the plane and the short walk to the terminal building sees us meet the hotel guide the hands us enough luggage tags for the number of items we checked in on the plane. We tag our bags and they put them on a luggage vehicle and take them to the dock.


Resort stand at the airport.

We wait for a few minutes and then get in the transfer van. There are two vans, ours fills quickly and we head to the dock. The boat has not arrived yet so we take a tour of the town. It is a small and island-like town. Island, in that it was small and laid back, not bure, hut, big wood built with a thatched roof and airy spaces style houses, cute, small and laid back. Chickens roaming at their will, appearing to be wild and free though I am sure someone owns them and will eventually eat them or at least eats their eggs. A few well kept dogs appearing from an empty yard, an air of contentment and positivity. You know, just that nice feeling you get when you visit an island village. Most buildings were brick or fibro/Hardiplank. It seemed both out of place and fitting. Back to the dock, the boat has arrived but it waiting for another boat to depart so it can dock. The other transfer van arrives. We all board, luggage is put on and we make that final journey to our hotel.


First sight of the resort, getting excited now.

Sitting at the front, TW’s idea, not the best plan. Our boat moves reasonably fast and spray smacks us in the face, specifically targeting the eyes. I close mine and enjoy the rollercoaster ride. I create a rollercoaster in my mind when I feel seasick. TW hastily finds sunglasses and puts them on to keep the spray out of his eyes.


Pulling in to the hotel. Reception/main dest is to the left and to the right you can see a few of the overwater bungalows (without direct water access)

20 minutes or so and we are at the resort dock Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort. We fill out forms, put our card down for incidentals and provide the vouchers for the stay and transfer. Once all of the English speakers have also completed their registration documents we get a quick tour of the hotel and then we are taken to our rooms.


Not sure we ahve signed in anywhere so pretty before. Storm is rolling in.

Our room is first, the others are sent ahead to wait and we are walked down to our room. This set of overwater bungalows is in a Y shape, the traditional y where you have a diagonal long line and a small perpendicular line. We are on the small line and even better, we are the tip of it. The other rooms on this little line face 90 degrees away from the boardwalk where ours faces the same direction. With the balconies on the far side of the room away from the boardwalk the other balconies look on to each other whereas ours sees none of those. We can’t see any other rooms, or balconies unless we try. Meaning they can’t see us unless we stand in those spots. This is fantastic. Living in a building of over 500 units, we can not see any other room from our room. We sit in bed and cannot see any buildings on the land or over water. It feels secluded, we leave the front door open because we kind of forget other people are here also. The downside of this room, one that we knew before we arrived, there is no steps down into the water.

Luckily the hotel is very specific in the room, this room has no air conditioning, no direct water access but nor do the other 4 on this arm. We think we have the best room for the money. The funny thing about this hotel is that the rooms on the beach are more expensive. We had to stick to a budget so we took the cheapest room. The cheapest room just happens to be over water. The beach bungalows do have air-conditioning but we have the most amazing, constant breeze. It is so lovely to be inside, look out at the reef and fish and ocean and just have this constant breeze come into the room. We don’t get it at home. We don’t have air-conditioning at home either but we don’t have a wonderful breeze like this to make hot days bearable.


View from our front deck.

Direct water access would be nice. We will need to walk back over to land and then snorkel from there, most likely we will head to under our bungalow as there is a lot of reef and fish here. It would be nice just to step in and snorkel from our bungalow but it is also nice to holiday within your budget and not worry about money so we made the compromise and the room would be perfect if we didn’t have the ability to snorkel so being able to snorkel from the resort if just a bonus really. At this price point, everything is a bonus.

(The constant rumble of the ocean waves breaking on the reef is quite relaxing)

The growth of some large corals would make it hard to position a ladder to get into the water without damaging something. It would be nice but we are happy with this room and the price of it. If we really wanted stairs, we could have paid extra as the hotel offers many bungalows with direct water acess. The bungalows on the long part of the Y have direct water access and the other set of overwater bungalows (overwater suites) also have it. I enjoyed the novelty of booking the cheapest possible room and being over the water.


Glass bottom floor section of our room and a tonne of fish passing by it.

We have seen some great things in our little “looking glass” in the middle of our room so overwater is still worthwhile even if you can’t jump straight in to the water and the pricing here is far more reasonable than some of the other islands that are certainly more heavily marketed in French Polynesia. We decided on Tikehau for the pink sand and the pass diving, we did a lot of research and then had to check availability and pricing to put all of the islands together but the pink sand and pass diving were the main draw. TW isn’t sure if he will go on the pass dive. It is a bit scary sounding, I can’t dive so he has to go without me if he does go but the hotel has pink sand all around it so we have that box checked without the need of any great exploration (although there is a debate on how pink the pink sand actually is).


Pink Sand?


Peach Sand?


Honeymoon day 8-9.5

I have to say, given this has taken over 6 months, I have forgotten a lot of the details of our trip.

I know a lot of people who look forward to their honeymoon – more than they look forward to their wedding. In some cases I am sure their honeymoon was the highlight of the two events. For us, I am not sure there will ever be a trip or experience that rivals that of our wedding.

Our wedding was initially going to be spread over multiple days, venues and ceremonies, to have the more traditional Indian experience and to have a different ceremony or blessing in each city. We wanted to make each part of the trip that little bit more special than just another city on the tour. We changed that to accommodate family and friends who were thinking they could only come on the wedding day. They did not want to tour India with us… but they did want to be at our wedding. We were asked by a few people which one would be the “real wedding” as that is the one they would try to get to. Some people were able to come to the wedding, others ended up on tour with us and sadly there were a few who wanted to come that couldn’t make it at all.


The welcome to our room on the first night of our wedding trip – it happened to be my birthday and this was a lovely surprise in the room. It was an amazing cake too. I would say this was for 6 people.

For us, the whole trip is blended in to the wedding. Though it was meant to be a wedding & then honeymoon. The hotels ramped up as the trip went. We quickly decided that we would need an actual honeymoon, one without our parents accompanying us. This decision came around the same time we changed our wedding itinerary from multi day to single day.
Having said that, I did ask my mum if she wanted to come to Canada with us as she has wanted to go for a while. Kindly mum refused, no matter how much I insisted. There isn’t a person I can think of that wouldn’t love Canada if they went, and I know that for sure now having been myself. I told her on our return that she missed out. There was a lot of driving so really, she may have hated a road trip with us. We will never know.

About the day 8 mark, given that we have constantly crossed time zones and spent hours and hours on flights, we felt like we had been away for close to a month. Hawaii and food poisoning seemed like a life time ago. It doesn’t feel like Hawaii was part of this holiday and boy oh boy Whistler is already a distant memory.

At that time while driving along a random highway – probably through the prairies – I can remember thinking that it was easy to recall the wedding and all the silly little things we did on the day, being fools, the heat, photos, elephant, dancing, sitting, waiting, but I have no idea what happened yesterday. It was an odd feeling. We hadn’t actually been away from home for weeks. We had only been in Canada a couple of nights but it already felt like one of the longest holidays we have ever had.

Enough ramblings back to the honeymoon and we are sitting at approximately 8 days from our Sydney departure:

We are up and off driving after the complimentary breakfast of juice, coffee, pastries, bacon and eggs. It was actually a decent breakfast for the price of the room and it was quick and easy making it very time efficient for us. We aren’t up early and that is a little disappointing because we really want to spend a lot of time in the lakes today but having an almost grab and go breakfast helped make up some of our lost time.


Just a little creek but we went over so many and they looked so clean and crisp we had to stop and play in some. Other people had the same idea and were annoyed we were there as well. So many with no one, we both picked the same one. Made us giggle.

We drive out of town and are almost instantly captivated. Had I written this post in the car (I can’t – I get motion sick) I would recount in detail every twist and turn, the beauty and surprise of the ever changing yet mostly the same scenery. Hours and hours of seemingly unwavering beauty. Every bridge led to a spectacular view of a lake, river or stream. Every turn heralded a new and wonderful surprise, be it a cute town or an unobstructed view or a lone fishing shack. There were industrial sights and some logging trucks. I don’t know if you would love it as much if you lived there but how could you not. This drive is still one of the highlights of our trip. If only we had days or weeks to just take every road, stop in every town, see every sight and do every activity.

British Columbia and the drive from Whistler to Banff has some serious competition now. That drive had been the highlight, up until now. With every passing moment we fell more in love and awe of these amazing lakes, villages, towns. I can’t give you a blow-by-blow recount but I can say – you need to go. If you ever have the chance, do it! If someone you know has a lake house – go there.

In winter, it would be a wonderland but also the roads and access would be more difficult. We were there in summer and it was the epitome of summer. It is the summer days you dream of in winter. The summertime feeling you get when you watch 80’s and 90’s movies or tv shows featuring summer vacations. The days aren’t too hot but hot enough for a swim or cool down. The nights are long but pleasant, bugs don’t bite (actually they do but not when you are romanticising your childhood and they rarely bite in movies!) and if you need just a slight bit more daylight to enjoy whatever activity it is you want to do until midnight – it is there, ready and waiting. It felt like summer. Like a summer I have never had in Australia and yet it felt like what the word summertime means and as it turns out definitely like what the words summer and summertime mean to me. I guess I have watched too many American movies and tv shows. Working on the summer camp in New Hampshire may have altered my idea of summer, I was living a movie. I was still relatively young myself, even though I was staff I felt like I was a kid. A kid with a schedule, a kid with responsibilities, a kid whose only measure of success for the season was how much fun you had. Pretty sure that is the same as every camper, staff and campers are basically the same and in some cases there was hardly any difference in age. Camp felt like summer. Driving around Lake Superior I feel like I am not only in summer but I am in the best movie version of summer.

I read a tourist sign wrong, I like what it says and say we should stop. We passed the same sign again closer to the entrance and I realised my mistake. The sign didn’t say (great spot for) photographs, it actually said pictographs. There was a picture of what looked like a thylacine, my favourite animal, so we decided we should still stop.
This was the single most spectacular part of the holiday. Photos cannot do justice to the divinity that is this spot.

It happened to be the Agawa Rock Pictographs that we had stopped to see.


Not impressed yet

It was signed well in advance but the sign doesn’t indicate just how impressive it is. I don’t know what else a sign can do but for something we almost decided to drive past and now has us wanting to buy a house on the lake I feel there must be a way for a sign to be a bit more emphatic in it’s delivery. Maybe people research so they know to keep an eye out. Possibly there were other signs along the way that we paid no attention to because we hadn’t researched and didn’t know what they were on about. We did stop and it was worth it.


First glimpse of the water.

It is a bit of a treacherous path. Kids will be ok, though they do need to slow down a little. A lot of rock, rubble and slippery spots. My nan would be ok to a point but TW’s nan would have no chance. I don’t know if you can get close enough to enjoy it by boat, maybe on days when people aren’t swimming by you can sneak up but that would be the only way for some people to get to enjoy it. I am sure there are plenty of other wheelchair friendly/accessible spots along the lake with similar views, just not with the pictographs. We have less able friends so I always think about access when we do something we love. I am always disappointed when I feel like they would miss out.


Not much further

We did get a bit hot and sweaty on the walk and 400m seemed like a marathon after days in the car. At this point we wondered if it was worth seeing and should we just go back to the car, surely there wasn’t anything actually impressive ahead. What could it be. Some more lush forrest and some water with a picture on a rock? Honestly, how good can something like that be?


The sign was pretty accurate. This rock painting is understandably faded.

We did push through. It wasn’t far, it was a lot of jumping down rocks and trying not to slide and fall over but, it wasn’t far. What we were met with at the shorefront alone, was worth it. There were a few more rocky cliffs to scramble across but we made it to the pictographs.
A rope helps swimmers back in and another aids walkers along the cliff edge.

We toyed with the idea of going for a swim and thought better of it. Having done nothing but eat since the wedding we weren’t confident we could pull ourselves out of the water with the rope. The water was probably a little cold for us to fully enjoy it anyway (or so we tell ourselves). The day was hot, we found it a bit humid after our well air-conditioned drive, we were sweating so it was tempting.

The walk back to the car seemed to be never ending, we had to stop multiple times. It was mostly uphill, which you may have guessed after all the jumping down rocks we had to do to get to the shore front. It was uphill on sliding rocky rubble with an onslaught of oncoming families. It was slow going, mostly from our lack of fitness but partly because kids kept running and jumping – this mean they were sliding rocks in to our faces. It was unavoidable at times based on the vertical climb we were facing them with their feet at eye level, any step they took would result in us covered. Other times it was from a little bit of over excitement and the bouncing and bounding the kids did in that excitement.
We made it back to the car and decided that our return was the right time to read the info booth. Nothing like doing things backwards.

Back on the road we have been mildly aware that we are running out of petrol. The car now says we have enough left in the tank to get us 5km past the next large town of Sault Ste. Marie. The service centres are just small local petrol/gas stations and they have generally been appearing just after we have gone around slow traffic, so we did not stop. Now it is a little bit desperate, we do not know what is ahead and the car estimate of 5km more than the city is away doesn’t fill me with confidence. I proclaim that the next small town we go past or the next petrol station we see – we have to stop! I don’t care who we have passed or how long it took us to manage to overtake, we will stop. I start googling to see if there is petrol stations nearby and also what towns lie between us and Sault Ste. Mario because I don’t easily get any results on the highway so I think we will have to pull off the highway and head in to one to the towns.

I haven’t gotten far in to my search when we see what looks like a buzzing service station. We pull in, even if we did have enough to get through to Sault Ste. Marie – I don’t want to risk it. Nothing would be worse than being stuck on the side of the road waiting for rescue because we didn’t plan well and ran out of petrol. Not that we were in an actual rush, it just isn’t appealing and I didn’t want a drama like that on my honeymoon. A spook in the night at the motel in Banff was enough drama for me.

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Felt like summer

Well, if the drive around the lake felt like summer, this petrol station sealed that feeling. The Agawa Crafts and The Canadian Carver fuel stop. It felt like the start of every summertime road trip movie. They had crackling speakers softly playing radio classics, a market stall with various vendors, a huge bathroom block, a food truck and multiple buildings selling food and souvenirs and an array of teepee’s, carvings and crafts. It looked like everything had been in place since the 80’s or the birth of time, It felt like home, like summer, like it was exactly what you wanted, needed and what it should be plus more. It was well cared for in a non updated way, it was what it was and you either embrace it or you trip over the uneven floors. I loved it. The best part was the complete full service so we could both jump out of the car and wander around. They filled it up, parked it and then returned the keys and you paid for petrol. It was hugely popular but we were watered, rested, shopped and relieved all while our car was being taken care of – refuelled and all the windows cleaned, they even removed the bugs from the wing mirrors and headlights. Most movies that have this kind of scene, lets be honest they are generally horror movies. How many road trip or “summertime gas station refuel stop” movies have ended well?

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Carvings for sale

From here it was a quick hop to the Sault Ste. Marie area and we start to think about where we should stop. If we want to get to Toronto tonight we would be arriving after 2am without stops. That wasn’t too appealing. Google is our friend and we try to find a town that is on the way and affordable. I don’t know how or why but we hastily decide on Sudbury and book the TownePlace Suites by Marriott. It might have been the laundry facilities or the distance between. It was affordable, breakfast was included and it was only a few hours away, which seemed doable unlike Toronto.

With Sudbury booked and night falling, the lake views mostly behind us I settled in to book and plan the last few nights we had in Canada. Distances were far less, affording us time to plan. It appeared that we would now skip Toronto – we weren’t actually ever planning on going to Toronto, we just wanted to see Niagara Falls.

Our plan:
Drive to Sudbury – do our laundry, eat, sleep, get up as early as we could, eat the hotel breakfast.
Drive to Niagara Falls – enjoy it for as long as we like then drive to Ottawa.
Ottawa to Quebec the day after and finally Quebec to Montreal.
Our flight is out of Montreal early in the morning so the night before is really not flexible, I book the hotel with points – Hyatt Regency Montreal. This probably could have been booked weeks ago but it wasn’t. I think about booking the other hotels but feel I need to discuss it more because I want to stay in a hotel that is by far the most expensive hotel we have ever stayed in. We may have stayed in hotels that usually cost more but we got a good rate, this hotel usually costs less but we have left it late and now it is ridiculously expensive but it is our honeymoon and when will we be back in Canada? Moreover when will we be in Canada on our honeymoon again? This one is going to be a battle over the budget so I do not book the other hotels, just the Hyatt with points.

We arrive in Sudbury, the rooms are cozy and spacious. TW orders and then picks up pizza from the other side of the highway for dinner. We do our laundry and sleep. The hotel was great value and breakfast is a small selection but the basics to get the day started. We had only just woken up in time to get the last legs of the breakfast, I am not sure if they had more earlier but out options are all grab and go. Juice and coffee with take away cups if you like and muffins – not english or breakfast muffins, cake muffins. Cereal, again there is the option to take this with you and there had been fruit but it appeared everyone had laid claim to them. We do as the breakfast items suggest – grab and go.

On the road again. Sudbury to Niagara Falls was a bit of a boring drive, we had traffic, road works, probably not enough sleep and were generally irritable all the way to the falls. Luckily for us the 5 hour drive only took 7 hours so our plans to have lunch at the falls added to our agitation. Waking up irritable, getting a basic juice and muffin for breakfast and then driving through road works and traffic for hours made lunch at 2pm seem impossible. There were not too many options for us to stop along the way from the time our lunch time hunger set in (probably 11am) so we had to keep driving and snapping about stupid things, even if we were on the same side, not many nice things were said so we decided it was best if we both stopped talking until we ate.


He made it

We arrived, alive, worn-down and hungry but alive. After a parking debacle (no where to park, no where free to park, no where cheap enough to park with my ever so friendly input – just park and pay I don’t care how much it costs how much more time will we waste driving in circles, argh the guy was saying if you tell him your eating there he will let you park there, just say we are eating there stop saying we aren’t jeeez! Pay. I don’t care. Stop the car in the middle of the road, lets just get out and eat.) we decided to go with the valet service offered by The Keg Steakhouse and Bar. The place we decided on for lunch after I googled Niagara Falls lunch + views and it had decent enough reviews for us to give it a try.


It was all worth it, he loved the view from his seat.

Maybe Outback Steak House and the free parking if you ate there was better and a walk down to the falls but this was the place in the gps and we had already done 4 loops of the town so we were eating here now, hell or high water. Valet parking was not difficult or expensive and compared to the rigmarole on the busy streets any amount would have appeared worth it.

We didn’t make a booking but it was outside of traditional lunch hours now so while it was busy it was not full, we were seated on the window and had a great view of the falls. Lunch was amazing, expensive but amazing. Breakfast was more than 7 hours ago, any meal was likely to be good but this was better than a saviour from starvation. It was a great meal even if I had been full. We ordered one of everything we wanted which is our usual and are quite pleased with the results (yes, our wedding bodies were long gone with ordering habits like that but what is life if you don’t enjoy yourself and we sure do).


My lunch – steak with all the seafood please. (I did share my topper)


The more traditional steak and chips

After lunch, with our car still safely parked we walked down to the Falls Incline Railway that we overlooked during lunch. We arrived just after everybody else arrived and there were some kind of issues with people in front. So after a 45 minute wait and not processing in the queue at all, literally not one single person in front of us had managed to buy their tickets in that time. We decided to go for a walk to the parkland at the end of the street.


I watched the animals play while everyone else watched the water.

We saw animals play and while there were some water views nothing great, back to the car to drive along the front street. After watching a show (altercation… maybe not altercation but heated exchange as a minimum between a valet and one of the car owners in the hotel driveway) our car arrives. We are blocked in for a minute but it gives us time to put the GPS on. It isn’t far but we don’t really understand how to get to the street in front of the falls. Our hangriness (anger from being hungry if you haven’t heard the term hangry before) has now subsided, I offer to drive the car so TW can have a look at the falls, we switch while we wait for the car in front to move out of the way.

The plan is I will park and meet him as I have been before and wasn’t too fussed because the falls are really short. Thunderous but short and we have sat for hours and looked at them while eating lunch (ok maybe an hour – 90 minutes but it was relaxing and felt like a couple hours rest). I am instantly stuck at lights and in traffic and at every cross walk, it is really slow moving, in 10 minutes I move less than 100m.

Finally the light is about to turn green. THWUMP the passenger door aggressively swings open. Dang it, why didn’t I lock the door. I quickly consider my options, can I drop and roll out of the car. The laptop and drone are in the back. A car-jacking was not on my to-do list so this is either disappointing or overachieving. Sigh. I put my hand on the door getting ready to open and run, look over to the passenger door and they are getting in. Keep calm, this is not America they probably don’t have a gun. Then TW’s content little bobbly head falls into the seat with the rest of his happy body and he exclaims he is done we can go.

The light is green, I drive forward, still in traffic we come to a stop and this is when I slap him for scaring the crap out of me. He says he has been trying to call me to say he was on his way back to the car but I was driving so I didn’t pick up the phone and because I am usually the passenger we hadn’t set it up for bluetooth or anything. He saw that I was basically in the same spot so ran to the car, opened the door as I was about to take off so it swung open a little more aggressively than he planned but it was just him so it was all ok.

We swap drivers again as soon as we can, my heart rate eventually settles and we continue on to Ottawa.

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

While many people had their worst year yet, mine was full of fun, laughter and travel. It is the year I got married, honeymooned and tried to move overseas. Not a bad year at all but I am going to be in Sydney, yet again, for New Years Eve. I am not one for crowds, lines or fireworks. I think the story you hear with the Disney fireworks make them so special that the story-less New Years Eve fireworks can never compare. Yes, I do love Disney and their fireworks. I wish someone would do something more with the NYE display in Sydney. Tell me a story about dreams and days to come, get my hopes up. Make me laugh and cry. Dazzling me with explosions is underwhelming these days.

The view from our unit for 8 NYE displays:


It becomes easy to take it for granted when you put no effort in to see the show. The show is great and I encourage more people to watch it – we would rent our spare room through airbnb so others could enjoy without any hassle. Luckily for them, this view was in their bedroom window as well as the lounge room. Making it easy for privacy and viewing for us and guests. I share in the excitement, just not the effort. Not when you have to battle the weather and crowds.

I digress.

With 2017 wrapping up and 2018 fast approaching, I make my to-do list.

I need to post the rest of our honeymoon in Canada and Hawaii, our Wedding trip in India and our holiday to Vietnam before TW’s surgery. I am excited to get those posts up and hopefully provide some useful information. I will also try to get a better iMovie post together for the resources I used and for those that will advance faster than me the other tutorials for things that were too in-depth for me to use in my haste to get a video together. I do recommend having a big amount of storage, I have no storage on my laptop and the wedding video (the full version) is now trapped on it because there is not space to move it in its full size to a safer storage.

2018. I am excited for 2018.

Week by week I will be researching, planning and booking a 12 month world trip. Our first flight is booked – to Johannesburg. I might have a trip to India before and we might need to come home to host two other trips to India from Australia during our time away but there is no concern on my end in doing that!

I will update the blog and keep a ledger. I have always found it interesting to know how much money, time, planning and preparation people put in to their long term travel. We will start planning now so that the trip itself is basically paid for before we go. I think this is uncommon but TW gets a gap year from work so we are planning to use it as soon as it is available. Given that isn’t until the end of 2018 we may as well plan, save and pay for what we can before we go.

My major dilemma right now is how long to stay in South Africa. I have a friend who I want to visit, we want to drive the garden route and go to some reserves. I was hoping for a white christmas but if we are going to see Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique as well we barely have any time to enjoy those countries before heading up in to Europe.

We thought ok, maybe not a white Christmas, TW then says for NYE he might like to be in Russia. We may have to do a bit of zig zagging. We are not buying a round the world ticket, rather using points and the One World reward. This does allow back tracking and is great value. Where we need to we will buy flights. I am excited and I will share our progress.

My question is – how long would you spend in each place? Would you aim for 1 country per month and explore different regions thoroughly or 52 countries in the year and go to just one or two cities briefly?

I wish you all the best end to 2017 and start to 2018 imaginable!