Archive for the ‘Tourist attractions’ Category

Dunedin, New Zealand: Cheese, Churches and Beer!

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

I was feeling a tad envious as I watched other passengers board the charming Taieri Gorge vintage train.  They didn’t even have to drive into Dunedin because the train pulled up alongside our Celebrity ship.

However, had I known how wonderful a day in Dunedin, New Zealand was going to be, I would have merrily waved them on their way, without a second thought.

I found out later those folks didn’t get much of a chance to explore Dunedin (Celtic for Edinburgh) and that would have meant missing so much.

Read on . . .  (more…)

Whitewater Rafting: Water Torture or Death by Extreme Fun?

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Paddling desperately.

The wall of icy water hit me so hard that I sat unable to take my next breath – for over a minute – I’m sure of it.  I am also sure our whitewater rafting guide had it in for me.

I could see it in his eyes, from the moment he handed me that ridiculously small wetsuit.  I mean, who in their right mind expects any self-respecting woman to don one of those things; it outlines your fat, for heavens’ sakes.

But wear it I did, and what’s more I got back at our nasty guide.

Read on . . .

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Hana, Maui, Hawaii: Dramamine and Orchids – the Perfect Pair!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Photo by Sheree Zielke The road to Hana may be a cruel drive for those who suffer from motion sickness, but for orchid lovers, it might be the pathway to Nirvana.

Driving the road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii is a trip that can’t be committed to lightly. Replete with narrow roads and endless curves, driving to Hana is not for the squeamish.

But it is the way for orchid lovers to reach one of the prettiest places on Maui.  You might even see Oprah Winfrey’s land.

Read on . . .

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Florence, Italy: A shocking encounter behind Dante’s house!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Photo by Sheree Zielke

Favorite travel destinations?  The question is hard to answer because there are so many.  But if I am asked what some of my favorite foreign cities are, the question is more easily answered.

In the number one position is the ancient city of Florence, Italy.

It’s in Florence that I had my best cappuccino, at a sidewalk café; it was so artfully decorated with the image of a fern leaf designed with coffee in the milky foam.  Florence is also the city that introduced me to one of the most surprising street performers I have ever encountered.

Read on . . .

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New York City: Meet the Line-up Police!

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Sheree with ExpodiskSheree with ExpodiskPhoto by Sheree Zielke

New York City has an ample supply of police and security personnel; that’s commonly known.  However, there is another type of policing official you might not know about: the “line-up police.”

If you are a theatre-lover, or a lover of the Bard’s works, and you plan to take in New York’s famous Shakespeare in the Park event, then you are guaranteed to meet the Big Apple’s line-up police.

Read on . . .

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Brownsville, Texas: Home to One of the Top-rated Zoos in the United States!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

 

It wasn’t my first choice.  It wasn’t even my second, third or fourth choice, but we are still bound for a place we’d never heard of before: Brownsville, Texas.

 

It’s a really nice place,” my travel advisor said.”  But I merely shook my head.

 

“Where the heck is Brownsville?  And why would anyone want to go there?” I asked.

 

“It’s right on the Gulf of Mexico just near South Padre Island,” she added.  “It’s a really pretty place with Spanish influence.  And the beaches are out of this world.”

 

“Yeah, but I’ve never even heard of Brownsville.  Never mind South Padre Island.”

 

“Trust me,” she said.  “The price is right, and you’ll love it.”

 

Yes, I never planned in my wildest dreams that I would be bound for Brownsville, Texas, but now I can hardly wait to get there.

 

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Exotic Travel Destinations: Explore Without Leaving Your Armchair!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Is it hard for you or someone else you know to go traveling?  Maybe you are a grandparent who would love to take a grandchild traveling, but can’t afford the expense.  Or maybe you have some spare time; you like playing computer games, and you would like to explore some unfamiliar cities.  Here’s a cheap solution; it’s called Big Fish Games.

The online games site offers a variety of “hidden object” games that take the player to well-known tourist spots in big metropolitan areas around the world, like Rome, Venice, Sydney, and San Francisco.

The site’s “Travelogue 360″ games take players to Paris and Rome. Sydney, Australia, and San Francisco, California are featured in the site’s “Big City Adventures” games.

The games are challenging and can be easily understood by nearly any age of player.  And best of all, they are fun!

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How to Get Arrested, Booked, and Escape in Under 45 Minutes in Melbourne, Australia!

Monday, February 11th, 2008

“Hey, did you guys take the Experience tour yet?”

“The what?” we responded.  Doug was intense with excitement.  He was one of our new cruise ship buddies who happened to be visiting the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail), too.

“You have to do it.  It runs every half hour, but they only take 20 people,” he added.  “There’re lining up right now in front of the building.”

“Okay, thanks.”  We nodded and scurried out of the somber building.

Ned Kelly Death Mask by Sheree ZielkeBut my stomach was feeling a little queasy; I was not sure if I was up for more of this gaol’s brand of “experiences.”  I had already spent an hour inside the Old Melbourne Gaol; the death masks, the whipping frame, and the horrific correctional devices employed by the gaol in its early history were not for the faint-of-heart.  And mine was feeling very faint.

So, it was with a fair level of trepidation that I followed Doug’s advice and joined the queue for the Melbourne Gaol’s “Watch House Experience.”

I began to regret my decision when I met the gaol’s intimidating desk sergeant…

Read on…

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Princess Diana: Is she really worth all the hype?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Princess Diana Exhibit Sign

Sydney, Australia’s Powerhouse Museum and the dainty Princess of Wales don’t really seem to fit together.  But then again, they really do.  Up until early May 2008, the city of Sydney, is hosting a special exhibit dedicated to the late Princess Diana, one of the most influential and powerful women the world has ever known.  So, in that sense, the Powerhouse Museum and the adored Princess are a perfect pairing.

I, as a fan of Diana, could have gone back through the exhibit again and again, but time was short, so an hour was all I could budget.  Here are the hi-lights.

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New Zealand: The Right Cabbie Will Make Your Shore Day Exceptional!

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Need a cab driver in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand? Try Lance — A Great Find! A Great Friend!

There he stood, a large man resembling a sea captain with his salt and pepper hair, and weather-worried complexion.  Laugh lines near his eyes complemented the thoughtful pattern of wrinkles that lay horizontally across his brow; he made me think of the actor, Sean Connery.


Photo by Sheree Zielke

His cab, a small four-door white sedan, occupied the last spot in the taxi queue.  We were in the town of Mount Maunganui, in the Port of Tauranga, situated on the Bay of Plenty, on the eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand.  Since leaving the ship, we had already run the gamut of at least three dozen assorted cabs, shuttles, and tour buses before espying the taxi driver who was to make our day of adventuring very special.

The cabbie’s name: Lance Calder.  He told us later he had chosen not to be part of the vicious back-biting under-cutting group of taxi drivers awaiting the arrival of the cruise ship passengers on the pier.  When we asked his price, he stated simply $60NZ per hour.  “Not per person,” he added quickly, but “for the car.”

Lance Calder - Photo by David Thiel

Photo by David Thiel

He wanted to know what we had in mind; as seasoned travelers and photographers, we told him to drive in the direction of Rotorua, and we would tell him when we wanted to stop.  And that he was to avoid the regular tourist stops.  That gave him pause for a moment, but only a moment.

Lance, also known by the handle, “Olddog13-1,” was very quick to learn our desires, and our sense of humour.  He soon joined in our inside jokes as though he’d known us for years.  As a resident of the area since birth (he was born and raised in Te Puke – not as in vomit) he navigated the roadways well, stopping to give us views of the scenery, and share oodles of insider tips on the lifestyle and cultures of the area.

We spent seven hours with Lance – and in that time we saw stinky bubbling sulphuric mud pools in Rotorua, patted a lamb at the Kiwi Lumberjack Show (farm) (ask for Thomas –a handsome young man with a mischievious nature), tasted exquisite wines at the Mills Reef Winery, paid a quick visit to the art deco style Rotorua Museum, lunched in a small café, just up from the old Whakarewarewa Thermal Village (where young boys would dive for coins thrown into the water by tourists), and we visited the Comvita bee centre in Te Puke.

We also visited the Kiwi360 kiwi farm (Lance was extremely knowledgeable in this – he took us under the kiwi orchard canopy where the fruit was hanging like grapes from vines, he pointed out the male and the female vines and how kiwis are chosen for import, with flat-sided ones being rejected and turned into wine instead.)  Lance took us into the shop where we tasted our first kiwi wine (a little too much fruit flavour for our palate) and he took us to a favorite photography subject of ours, an old Mission cemetery, without ever being asked to do so.

Lance Calder - Photo by Sheree Zielke

We learned, through Lance that the huge tree with the gorgeous purple flowers is a Jacaranda tree, a soft drink is called a “fizzy drink,” a car trunk is called a “boot,” and that cruise ship passengers should never share a cab just to split the cost during shore excursions.

“It’s not a good idea,” says Lance.  “The couples can never agree on anything.”  He says he has never seen a cab shared successfully by people who barely knew one another, and who have gotten together just to split the cost of the taxi fare.  He says the only successful shared cab rides are those where the passengers have previously agreed upon where it is they want to go, and what it is they want to do.

Besides knowing the area so well, and being a charming traveling host, Lance is also specially trained in the art of assisting the handicapped, or the ambulatory-challenged.  He has extensive experience dealing with special needs children, and seniors in wheelchairs.

And if you are a wine lover, Lance has an inside track, having a son-in-law in the business.  Be sure to ask him for a little advice if you are going into the Napier-Hawke’s Bay area on what wineries to see, and the best route to take to see them.

Planning a trip to the Tauranga, New Zealand area via cruise ship?  Contact Lance Calder in advance.  You will feel like family when this burly congenial man welcomes you at the pier.  Tell him Sheree says you’ll need to buy a “Peepsi.”  He’ll know what you are talking about.

Contact Lance via email at lance-calder@hotmail.com.

Cheers,
Sheree Zielke