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since 25/05/2004


Daintree River Cruise, Cairns 15/10/2005

Cruising the Daintree River with Bruce Belcher

Daintree River Cruise, Cairns One of the Must- Do activities when visiting Tropical North Queensland is a Daintree River cruise. There are many options available to choose from, you can go for a short 1 hour cruise or you can make a day of it. Check out all the different companies offering river cruises and you are sure to find the one that is right for you. Our needs were simple enough, we were doing a day trip from Cairns to Cape Tribulation and back. We wanted to do a river cruise on the way but didn't want to be tied up for too long in the process. I had flicked through brochures and booklets and hadn't really decided which one to do before we left that morning. We arrived just before 12pm and thought we would see what was on offer, if we ended up in Daintree Village it would have been well timed for lunch so we weren't sweating it. We drove past two or three companies offering cruises but our timing was off for most of them. Because it was lunchtime, most of the cruises where scheduled for 1or 1:30 but I thought I had noted a sign as we whizzed by one establishment , saying 'Next Cruise - Noon' We did a u-ey and headed back down the road and pulled up in the car park of Bruce Belcher's Daintree River Cruises. With barely minutes to spare, we bought tickets for the noon cruise and made our way down to the river to meet the boat. The walk down to the jetty was very pleasant via a boardwalk through the tropical forest. THE CRUISE On our particular tour there were only six of us which was ...

Cairns (Australia) 09/10/2005

A few days in the tropics ...

Cairns (Australia) I took a short break from the cold New Zealand winter and flew ' across the ditch ' to the land of sun and surf for a short break. After catching up with family for a few days in the Gold Coast, we boarded another plane bound for Cairns. This was my first time to Cairns so we rented a car and went off exploring far and wide. We were only going to be in the area for 41/2 days so we wanted to see as much as we could of the region while we were there. We visited in mid-August and the weather was great. Warm and tropical but not too hot or humid. It was prone to showers (downpours) but these were never enough to be a hinderance. Just added to the tropical feel of the place. My impression of Cairns was of a small city that was fairly laid back and cruisy. There was quite a large focus on the tourist dollar, especially around the waterfront area where every second shop was selling various tours, cruises, adventure activities and discounted fares. The streets were crammed with people, predominantly young backpacker types but a smattering of families, older couples and 'coach tour' types. The atmosphere was relaxed and chilled out and across the road, in the park-like gounds of the waterfront, people were sunbathing and sitting under the shade trees while a four piece band was providing free entertainment. There is a huge swimming pool here which , on this hot sunny Sunday afternoon, was being well patronised by all age groups. As the waters around Cairns are ...

Dollar Rent A Car Worldwide 14/12/2004

Save some dollars by using Dollar Car Rental

Dollar Rent A Car Worldwide I have used Dollar Car Rental twice now and have had absolutely no problems whatsoever. The first time was back in 2000. We were heading to the States to do a road trip and I was looking for a three week rental that wasn’t going to charge the earth. On all my searches, Dollar came up consistently cheaper than the other nationwide companies. Sure there were heaps of cheaper options but I wanted to steer clear of the mum and pop type deals so only concentrated on nationwide companies. I booked an economy car, unlimited miles over the net using the Dollar website and while there, noted a coupon promising me an upgrade. I printed it off and tucked it in with all my travel papers. We arrived at LAX very early morning after a tedious long haul from New Zealand and found our way to the free-phone to the Dollar depot. They said to wait out front and the shuttle bus would be along soon to pick us up. We seemed to wait for quite awhile but eventually we spied the Dollar shuttle and signaled to the driver. We jumped on board and off we went to the depot. We were the only customers at that early hour so we were dealt with promptly and courteously. I remembered my upgrade coupon and pulled out the page I had printed off, this was accepted without a word and we were upgraded to a compact car. We asked directions to our booked accommodation and the attendant printed off a map for us showing us exactly which route to take … such service! We were pointed in the general ...

Vanuatu (South Pacific Islands) 13/12/2004

Getting hot and steamy in Vanuatu

Vanuatu (South Pacific Islands) When the opportunity to visit Vanuatu arose I jumped at it. I was aware that it was the rainy season and it would be hot and humid ( I don't do hot and humid very well) but the timing couldn't be helped as my husband was attending a seminar. Nothing I could imagine could prepare me for the initial blast of hot air.The heat coming off the plane as we walked across the tarmac made it almost unbearable and thankfully it was slightly cooler in the airport, but only slightly. We realised fairly soon that the locals pace is slow to very slow. In this heat it is basically a matter of survival. There is nothing for it but to relax and adopt " Island Time " as well. The line at immigration inched forward at a snails pace. With our passports stamped it was onto baggage claim. Another long wait in the heat here and fellow travellers were starting to get restless. I had instantaneously slowed down but that was more because, as I have previously stated, I don't do hot and humid very well. As we headed off to the hotel my first impressions were how similar to Tijuana it all looked. Lots of rundown shops and houses, old cars and derelict buildings but being tropical, everything was covered in greenery. Lots of banana trees and tropical flowers everywhere you looked. *** Shopping *** We did venture away from the hotel pool on most days. We went into downtown Port Vila a few times to visit the supermarket for bottled water. We could buy it at the hotel but the mark-up ...

Los Angeles (California) 22/11/2004

Jet lagged in LA.

Los Angeles (California) LA is so big that I knew we were not going to be able to see overly much in the time we had there but we had given ourselves quite a big itinerary to get through with about 4000 miles of driving ahead of us so our time in LA was basically enough to get through the jetlag before hitting the freeways on our road trip. After a gruelling 13 hour flight with no sleep we landed at LAX at 6.30am. We picked up the rental car at DOLLAR and they printed off a map with directions to our accommodation at TRAVELODGE, PICO BOULEVARD. We didn't fancy hitting the freeway till we were a bit more experienced with driving on the right so inched our way along the LA streets to our hotel. My first impressions were of a pretty shabby city, lots of litter and slightly worse for wear. We were lucky that the guy at the hotel ( more motel) took pity on us and let us check in straight away, the only problem was the non-smoking rooms were not available till later in the day. We took the room on offer and crashed for a few hours much needed sleep. We woke a few hours later and had fun trying to figure out how to use the coffee pot and the bath plug and a few other things. The room wasn't bad for $59, continental breakfast included in the deal and free parking. We sorted ourselves out, jumped in the car and headed off to find the ocean. *** SANTA MONICA BEACH.**** Spent the first afternoon taking in the sights of Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach. Santa Monica beach area seemed ...

Tristar Lateral Thigh Trainer 20/10/2004

Great back-up service.

Tristar Lateral Thigh Trainer The Lateral Thigh Trainer ad campaign hit the TV screens here in New Zealand around March this year and I pretty much caved straight away. The ads were catchy and there was so much that appealed to me about this product. I think the main attraction was that it was small and portable and didn’t need a huge area to workout in. This suited me down to the ground and the fact that I could be working out while watching TV appealed to me too. Who doesn’t want to have guilt free soap viewing? “Heck honey, I’m not wasting time watching The Bold and the Beautiful … can’t you see that I am working out here?" * TV shopping and credit cards were made for each other . * Ordering the LTT is a cinch. Just ring the free phone number provided and have your credit card handy and you will be the proud owner of your very own LTT in no time at all. * Some assembly required * I was very excited when my LTT finally arrived and Mr Zed the cat and I had fun opening up the box. The LTT required a couple of things to get it ready but that’s where hubby came in handy. It turned out that I could have done it easily enough but why deprive him of his fun with the screw driver. Mr Zed was inside the box having fun with the packaging … aren’t cats delightful. All that was required to get the LTT ready for action was to attach the Rubber Feet. Slip them on, line up the hole and put in the screw provided. Next was to put the battery provided into the little calorie ...

Honolulu 17/08/2004

5 days in Waikiki

Honolulu Hubby and I took a Hawaiian vacation in May 2003 which was a nice break during the New Zealand winter months. The weather was fantastic and even though there was an occasional passing shower every now and then, overall the days were sunny and oh so very warm. The nights were lovely and balmy and just what you want when visiting a tropical island paradise. Now, calling Honolulu a tropical paradise is a bit of a stretch but it sure is a great place to have a holiday. ~ ARRIVAL ~ We landed at Honolulu International Airport around 10:30 pm local time. It seemed to take forever to get through the rigmarole of Immigration and Customs as usual … (damned visas) … but we made it out the other end eventually. Thankfully there was plenty of security present at Baggage Claim as our bags were looking mighty vulnerable all on their own on the carousel. We decided to take a cab to our hotel rather than the cheaper option of the shuttle. It was going on midnight and we just wanted to get to the hotel. It cost about $25 for the cab and the cabbie did the usual trick of taking the tourists to the wrong hotel. “Sorry, I thought you said The Park Hotel, not the Waikiki Parc Hotel “, yeah right! Hubby still gave the man a tip though which didn’t go down well with me at all. We checked in, got to our room and crashed. The hotel (Waikiki Parc) was excellent and I highly recommend it to one and all. ~ FIRST IMPRESSIONS ~ When most people think of Hawaii, images of ...

Auckland & Northland (New Zealand) 22/07/2004

Auckland / Northland highlights.

Auckland & Northland (New Zealand) Auckland. I visit Auckland a couple of times a year for various reasons and always manage to find a new side to this city on every visit. This sprawling city is the largest in New Zealand and approx 1/3rd of the countries population live there. This makes for an interesting multi-cultural city but it is pretty much undistinguishable from most other major world cities. The thing that does make Auckland special is its setting. The city is located on a natural harbour and is made up of lots of interesting bays and coves. Auckland is known as the City of Sails and after familiarising yourself with this city you will see why. There are hundreds of yachts moored in various harbours all over this city and on a summer weekend the harbour is awash with water craft of every description. TRANSPORT I always have my own transport when visiting but if you turn up at the airport and need to get to the city, there are various shuttles, buses and taxis at your service. Once in the city, buses are basically the only mode of transport. There is a ferry service to various points around the vicinity but basically, if you want to get around a bit it will be easier all round to rent a car. ACCOMMODATION There are loads of hotels and backpackers lodges in the CBD and after staying in a few, I am not overly keen on staying right in the city itself. The city is quite noisy during the night ... especially on the weekends. If you have your own transport I would suggest ...

General: Utah 06/06/2004

Utah’s glorious bottom.

General: Utah The southern area of Utah is made up of impossibly scenic rock country . It is gorgeous and has a WOW factor of 10. This section of our road trip was possibly the most outstanding as far as scenery went but, we saw so many exhilarating sights on our Southwest adventure that it is too hard to say which was the best. This was definitely up there anyway. Our route took us from Las Vegas, Nevada through to Moab via Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and then onto Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. We followed the Scenic Highways when we could and these routes don't get designated Scenic Highways for nothing. We saw such a diverse range of scenery on this drive that it never got monotonous or heaven forbid ... boring. We had two overnight stops on the way to Moab from Las Vegas ... one at La Verkin and one near Panguitch. La Verkin is not a town at all, it is one gas station and one motel ( The Gateway ) on the junction of highway 9 and 17. It was about 2 hours drive from Las Vegas and probably about the same from Zion N/P. The following night we stayed at The Bryce Junction Inn ($35) which was pretty much on the junction of Highway 9 &12. We had dinner at the restaurant next door ( something like Freds Place or Hanks Place) ... great home cooking and try the Vegetable Soup!!! ~ The Bryce Junction motel is surrounded by a Prairie Dog Colony. The 'dogs' were very entertaining and were not scared of humans at all. I don't think I would fancy having them living ...

Las Vegas 03/06/2004

Its Vegas baby ....

Las Vegas This is one hellava city no matter what you think of it. Love it or hate it you have to admit, there is nothing quite like Las Vegas anywhere else. --------------- --------------- --------------- -- The jury was out after our visit to Las Vegas and even though it’s been a couple of years since I visited, I still haven’t really figured it all out. This was the most surreal place I have ever seen. Exploding volcanoes, flashing neon, roller coasters on the top of tall towers, flashing neon, hordes and hordes of tourists, flashing neon …you starting to get the picture? It all started innocently enough ….. Getting there. --------------- --- We drove from the outskirts of Fresno and it took a good 6 hours to get there. The drive was brilliant and was my first ever desert experience. The Mojave was everything and more than I had been expecting, long straight freeways disappearing into the shimmering heat wave, Joshua Trees and big blue desert sky. Just fantastic. The radio station was playing Pink Floyd ‘s Dark Side of the Moon and life was good. We started noticing the freeway was building up around us and we thought we must have been getting close to Las Vegas but it didn’t look like much. We figured we were just nearing a town at first, then we realised that the freeway was a bit too serious for a two bit town and this must be it.. Las Vegas. Then I noticed the huge gold walls of the MGM and the big pyramid of the Luxor Casino. “This is it” . We ...

8 Mile (DVD) 29/05/2004

A 40 somethings perspective.

8 Mile (DVD) Love him or hate him ... that seems to be the way it is with Eminem. I like his music and even though he pushes the envelope a few times I do think he is one very talented guy. I wasn't a big enough Eminem nut that I was going to go to see the movie at the cinema or even buy the DVD but when it turned up on TV recently, I settled down to watch it. --------------- --------------- --------------- -- THE PLOT. Meet Rabbit, Jimmy Smith jr (Eminem) . Jimmy is a white rapper in a world of black rappers, he works by day a mundane job as a labourer in a car plant and by night, cruises the streets of Detroit with his mates in a dangerous world of gangs and guns. His Mum and baby sister Lily live in a trailer park ( yeah...really) and are struggling to make ends meet. His mum is a drunk whose boyfriend is not much older than Rabbit . Rabbit has to turn to his mum when things go bad for him and his mum turns him away fearing she will lose her useless boyfriend. Rabbit is tight with his mates and they cruise the streets having fun and dicing with death from time to time. B-Rabbit is a rapper and yearns to make it big ...really big. One of his friends is sure he can get him a record contract . He holds onto this dream while all around him life is trying to tell him he is destined to carry on in the factory till he is an old man. The movie captures the time in his life where it is either make or break for young Jimmy.. Will he make it? Watch it and ...

Yosemite (California) 28/05/2004

Yosemite National Park .... WOW !!!

Yosemite (California) If you are intending to vist the US try to make time to visit the National Parks. I visited a few on our trip and each and every one was an outstanding experience. Yosemite National Park is a must see, if you are in California definitely make the effort to visit because It really is THAT beautiful and I am sure you wont regret it.. Yosemite Valley was formed by glaciers which, over time, carved through the granite rock and has left us with one of the most beautiful places on the planet with towering sheer granite rock cliff faces which will have you spellbound. Driving through this park is definitely on the list of Must-do's when visiting California so beg, steal or borrow, just make sure you get here.... oh, maybe not steal okay? It is the 3rd oldest park in the USA and was established in 1890. It is extremely well maintained and the natural features are only enhanced by the little wooden footbridges and well maintained picnic areas. The wildlife is just that …wild. We are talking bears and cougars here guys so be prepared and read the literature they hand you at the gate. I had hoped to see a bear … preferably a long way in the distance but it wasn’t to be. I did see a lone coyote trotting along a trail and massive amounts of glorious birds and squirrels and the occasional deer . There was an old deer around the visitors centre which was happy to stand still while folk took photos. = Getting there. -------------- Grab a rental and head off ...

Breville KT8 27/05/2004

Stylish little number.

Breville KT8 I got this kettle free from a rewards points programme. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the kettle and after 12 months, it is still working well and looking good. FACTS AND STATS. *1.8 litre capacity. *2400 watt element *360 swivel * Safety locking lid *Removeable filter *Safety boil dry cut off * Automatic boil *Power ON light. MY VIEW. There is a lot to like about this design. It is a good looking style and easy to keep looking smart. After 12 months my kettlle still gleams like new with no visible wear and tear on the handle or base. The 360 swivel suits our household as I am left haneded and hubby is right handed. The base is small and the cordless design is one of the best i have seen. It is a little clunky when it switches on and off and if you are trying to have a midnight brew on the quiet, it sounds so loud as it boils that you think its going to wake the household. I like the Power On light because occaisionally it will get knocked on accidently and the light is just an extra means of letting you know if its on without having to go over to check it. The safety lid is quite tight but that is okay, at least if the kettle is pulled off the bench the lid will stay put. I generally refill via the spout, it is a good sized spout and is short and is wide enough to make doing this very easy. When pouring the boiling water the handle is well positioned so as to protect the hand from the hot ...

San Francisco (California) 27/05/2004

Everyone should visit at least once.

San Francisco (California) San Francisco is well worth visiting if you ever get the opportunity. When planning our road trip around the Southwest I had tossed up whether to include San Francisco at all. It seemed somewhat out of the way and was going to add alot more driving to our proposed trip. Man, I am glad we did make the effort because, as the song says ... I left my heart in San Francisco. There was something beautiful about this city and it was more than just the location. You couldn't ask for a lovelier setting for a city. San Francisco Bay is a sheltered calm retreat from the wild pacific coast. As we were driving in from the south, we realised we were heading straight towards the Golden Gate Bridge so we took the opportunity to drive across and turned off at the Viewing Point on the other side. First sight of the city, the bay, Alcatraz and those magnificent bridges left us almost speechless. It was so stunning that it totally caught me by surprise. We took way too many photos in a bid to try to capture the moment. We decided to take this opportunity to walk across the bridge. The pedestrian walkway provides ample room for foot traffic as well as cycles. There were loads of people cycling and if you are keen to do this, you will find numerous companies renting bikes out on the city side. If you have trouble finding them, head to the nearest Visiotrs Centre and they will have you set up in no time at all. We walked to the halfway point before turning back, we were ... 26/05/2004

Mates rates.... last minute deals on hotel rooms. There are a myriad of discount hotel websites out there but very few have good deals for hotels in New Zealand. The top of the range hotels of New Zealand and Australia feature quite prominently on this site as well as a few more moderately priced hotel options. I have been using for a few years now. It's been around for a while but only serviced a few countries to start with ... mainly Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. I'm pleased to see that the database is rapidly expanding with new countries being included quite regularly. IAt this stage there are currnetly 33 countries available through this site. I use this site all the time for last minute deals in New Zealand and it is consistantly cheaper than the other sites available ( ratestogo and needitnow). I generally try to cover all the bases before booking and check out the other options as well as ring the hotel and check their rates over the phone. It couldn't be easier to use. *select the country you want. * then the city or region. * In bigger cities you can usually narrow your search area down to where you want to stay rather than wade through pages of deals. * Some of the deals are colour coded and some aren't. The coloured ones will have some extras included so wave the mouse over the deal and the offers will pop up. Generally something like free parking or breakfast included. * There is a MORE INFO option to read a bit more about the hotel. Learn more about ...
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