Tag Archives: Rain

Tokyo, 2016: Ueno and Harajuku

It was raining, so we decided to go to the Tokyo National Museum. A museum is always a good wet weather plan and this one was top of the list as it has a collection of samurai swords and armour, which I knew my husband, would be keen to see.

The metro system was fast, efficient and we figured it out fairly quickly. The only downside was we sometimes had to walk a long way to transfer between lines. I amused myself by looking at the manga style advertisement posters on the walls and the practiced power nappers in the trains.

There was a highly organised stand outside the museum for all the umbrellas. Inside, I was drawn to the beautiful kimonos, room divider screens that told a story with pictures and the unusual tea sets. My daughter loved the kids stamping section and couldn’t get enough of it.

Outside the museum, we discovered that it was set in Ueno-Koen Park with the famous Ueno craft market that had been recommended to us. There were teapots of all shapes and sizes, colourful wooden chopsticks and other cooking pots and implements.

Next we went to Harajuku as I thought my daughter would enjoy the teenage haven. Takeshita-dori was packed and had lots of cute shops with novelty items for kids like the Paris Kids shop where my daughter got an umbrella with a rabbit head, some hairclips of fruit and sunglasses with rabbit ears.

Locals come to Harajuku for crepes and rainbow fairy floss, but we came to see the teenagers dressed up. However, not many were, just a few girls dressed in short skirts and high shoes. Which led to the question- where have all the Harajuku girls gone? Probably elsewhere to escape the tourists. The store staff at the lolly shop were dressed up the most with their cat ears for Halloween.

We had lunch at a local restaurant and then went over Harajuku Bridge to Meiji-jingu- Tokyo’s grandest shrine. The old wooden gate popped out of the oasis of green trees. It got a wow out of me- this was what I had come to Japan to see. The walk to the shrine was one of welcoming cool in the busy city.

There were lots of families in kimonos and their Sunday best, clapping when they pray. There was the massive wishing tree and the marriage trees tied together by a rope with lightning bolts. We also stumbled upon a wedding procession. The bride was still in white, but had a strangely shaped hat.

For dinner we went to the closest neighbourhood restaurant for Hantei skewers of pork. The chef of the restaurant was also our waiter. He thought we tipped too much, but it was so delicious, that it made me wonder, why is it bad manners to tip in Japan?

Related posts: Japan, 2016

New Caledonia, 2014

In the approaching winter of 2014, my husband’s family including assorted partners and children, flew to Noumea for a week. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel where our balcony overlooked the pool, Anse Vata beach and Canary Island.

The weather was not the beach weather we had hoped for, being rain with sunny periods. Definitely not swimming weather. Although that didn’t stop me trying, resulting in a very short lived dip in the cold pool, before it started raining again.

We made the most of it anyway and the holiday became all about eating instead. And what a great place for this to occur- in French food heaven. There were the decadent coffee shops, the fantastic French bakeries with sticks of bread and fancy cakes; and our favourite, the French supermarkets with Cote D Or, French wine and yummy carbonara chips. All delicious.

My husband and I also managed to escape for a date night in a French restaurant called Astrolabe in the next bay for a lovely traditional three course dinner. And I had the best Carbonara pasta with raw egg that I have ever had in an Italian restaurant in the hotel complex.

On our first day, we caught the bus to the city market. The bus trip was entertainment enough for our one a half-year-old daughter, but she was very excited by the local musicians playing when we got there too and danced up a storm.

The market overlooked the boats of Port Moselle and had lots of fruit and vegetables for the locals, plus colourful souvenirs for the tourists.

The following day, we caught the bus all the way into town to Coconut Trees square, which funnily enough had lots of coconut trees; and a gazebo. I found a Mango shop amongst all the expensive French clothing shops and we found some French children’s books for our daughter. We also saw the old coach house, Moselle Bay and many colourful murals.

We took a walk along Promenade Roger Laroque to Lemon beach- the beach next to ours. The promenade also had a train running along it that my daughter enjoyed along with the statue of Marilyn Monroe outside the Rock café once we go to the beach.

One day, we dragged the whole family to the Aquarium of the Lagoons to see the coral, fish and related sea creatures. My daughter liked the hands on kid’s section and I liked the porthole windows that you could see luminescent jellyfish through.

On our last day, we took a walk up the hill to Rte Due Ouen Toro for a view over the island and all the beaches we had visited. On the way back we found a large park with lots of swings and dolphin bins. It was heaven for the kids and I’m sure they wished we had found it earlier.

Related posts: Fiji 2008, It’s a South Pacific Thing

A Hawaiian Wedding, 2014

I had never been a bridesmaid before, despite having attended 50 weddings; so it was awesome to be asked by my bestie, have a dress and jewellery bought for me and get my hair and make up done. Most of all, I felt incredibly honoured to be a part of my bestie’s special day and to have the opportunity to feel like a part of her fantastic family.

The day of the wedding, it was raining. There had been talk among the locals of a 50-year storm that had been brewing, but I really hadn’t paid much attention until then. But raining it was, with waves so high, they were crashing over the sea wall onto the area reserved for the ceremony and reception.

Panic ensued, as well as a trip to Walmart to see if we could stock up on umbrellas, gumboots and tarps. With the ground soaked through and the waves and rain showing no sign of abating, the groom put in a call to the bride to postpone the wedding until the next day. My bestie took it quite well all things considered.

Being housebound due to rain, the evening turned into a pre wedding party with much drinking and dancing- Australian style. The groom was an Aussie after all, so there were enough of us around to take control of the tunes.

Wedding day take two went much more according to plan. The beauty team returned to make us all look more beautiful than we already were again and there was pre ceremony photos and champagne for the ladies of the wedding party.

The sun was out and the waves were still curling beautifully, but not too big; except for that one where my bestie, my bestie’s sister Janeen and I were taking sunset photos with our back to the ocean and it sneaked over the wall, making us run!

The ceremony was lovely and the guests were few enough that we could all fit on one long table under chandeliers for the reception. Dinner included gazpacho and lobster with an ice cream station- definitely my kind of desert.

It rained a little on the dance floor, but that didn’t stop anyone. Some of the wedding party ended up jumping in the pool, including the bride and her two bridesmaids. Hair and make up came out unscathed and the party continued – now that’s value for money.

Related posts: Hawaiian Road Trip, 2014, Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014, Canada, 2011, Fiji, 2011, Destination Thailand, 2010, The Seven Year Itch

Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012

Our first trip with our daughter was to New Zealand when she was 3 months old. I had not left the Sydney suburb in that we lived in since she was born, so I was thrust out of my comfort zone to take the trip, which was very much needed.

My parents were joining my husband, daughter and I on the trip as it was over the Christmas/New Year period and the aim was to reach my aunts place in Wellington for Christmas Day. We had rented two Jucy vans for the driving trip around the South Island and planned to stop at various holiday parks along the way.

Landing in Queenstown, a well-known skiing destination for Aussies who tired of the unpredictable snow in Thredbo, we checked into the holiday park under Bob’s Peak and headed straight for the Skyline cable car to the top.

The view of Queenstown Bay and Lake Wakatipu from the peak was fantastic. We could even see the snow capped Remarkables and our bright green and purple van in the holiday park. We stopped for a baby rest stop at the café at the top and took a tasty local ginger beer with the view.

That night, we went into town for dinner at a great Mexican restaurant. Being a little ski town, Queenstown reminded me of Whistler in Canada.

The next morning, the drive to Lake Wanaka was one of the most beautiful drives of the trip. Driving between the two lakes of Wanaka and Hawea was simply gorgeous and we stopped briefly at the flat Lake Wanaka.

Regular baby feeding led to frequent scenic stops to take in the sights, which was a good thing as it forced us to slow down and appreciate the countryside we were driving through.

We got a tip from a van of German blokes to see the Blue Pools, so we stopped for a midday Baby Bjorn walk in the forest over suspension bridges to pools that really were very blue.

We stayed a couple of nights in the very tiny one pub town of Fox Glacier for an enforced rest day in a very comfy holiday park with a large living area and kitchen for the playing of cards and cooking. The rain had prevented us from seeing the glacier on our first day, but it had been nice to take a break from driving anyway.

We went to the pub for dinner for a change of scenery and my dad’s short order cooking cuisine of garlic and chilli. The next day, it was still raining, but we figured we had come this far, so braved the rain in pairs to walk to see the glacier anyway, leaving my daughter behind in the car.

On the drive up to the glacier, I was amazed by how much the glacier had receded in the last 30, and even 10 years. We passed a few flowing waterfalls on the walk up and it was a lot dirtier and rockier than I thought it would be. It was very foggy at the glacier itself, so much so that I had condensation spots on my camera.

Related posts: Australia vs New Zealand, New Zealand, 2004, The New Amazing Race Australia

Las Vegas, 2011

From Cancun, it was an easy flight to Las Vegas. It was the second time my husband and I had been here. Even though we knew what to expect, we found plenty of new surprises.

We stayed in the middle of The Strip this time at the Monte Carlo casino. There were good views from hotel and many Italian statues and fountains out front.

The Cosmopolitan was the newsest casino in town with its open-air nightclub, Marquee, on the roof. We hit the Bellagio and took the time to look up this time at the beautiful glass ceiling and glass sculptures.

We took a closer look at the Venetian on this trip. I was amazed by how much St Marks Campanile, the Brige of Sighs, the Doges Palace and the Grand Canal with gondolas; all replicated the real thing so well.

While my husband gambled at the Mirage, I went to the Secret Garden to see the dolphins, white tigers and leopards. Then we went in to M & M’s World which had four levels, ending in an entire room filled with as many different flavors of the treat that you could think of.

We went to Blondie’s Sports Bar that had a cheerleader as its mascot and tried the tasty Washington Apple cocktail. At Wynn, we ventured behind the waterfall, saw the lake and went to the biggest buffet I have ever been to with cuisine from all around the world. The room was elaborately decorated and the best bit was the toffee apples and other yummy deserts.

Thinking ahead, we had pre booked a sunset dinner at Alize at the top of The Palms. The signature dish, the Lemon Sole, was definitely memorable. On the way out, we passed drenched drunk girls in bikinis at the slots who had just come out from the Rain nightclub.

It was all blue skies above the Pont Alexandre 3 inside Paris. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a view of The Strip by night with all the glittering lights. We could see people lining up for the famous Chateau nightclub and the Bellagio fountain show from above.

My pick for a show was Bite at Stratosphere, which turned out to be a lot of topless vampires. My husbands pick, O at the Bellagio, turned out to be a much wiser choice. Cirque du Soliel and water- what’s not to like? The clown also used me as a prop in his pre show, which was fun.

On our last day, we went to Old Vegas, awash with Mardi Gra beads and showgirls with a zipline running through the middle of it all. We saw the famous neon Vegas Vic, Sassy Sally and Golden Goose.

We found the Four Queens and the buffet at Fitzgeralds. My husband had the biggest win of his life with a straight flush at the Golden Nugget, while I was more interested in the waterslides inside the casino.

It was sad to see the neon gallery from demolished casinos and hotels. Here we found the Hacienda horse and Alladins lamp. I guess with a city that is always reinventing itself, there is bound to be some collateral damage.

Related posts: Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011, Tulum, 2011,  Chichen Itza, 2011, Campeche and Merida, 2011, Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011