Met nog minder dan een week te gaan, begint de eerste week van Januari ons het gevoel van “het einde van de vakantie” te bekruipen. Maar we hebben nog een paar mooie bestemmingen gepland dus we proberen het een beetje naar de achtergrond te drukken. We zijn op weg naar Kaikoura in het noord oosten, we nemen de “Inland Scenic Route” naar Waipara als eerste stop, de rit is zo’n 220 km. Hoewel de weg omringt is door bergen is het hier vrij vlak en rijdt het lekker door, de route is dan ook iets saaier, de leuke schaapjes zijn er nog steeds, maar we komen weinig “Oh” en “Ah” punten tegen. Onze bestemming Waipara ligt in een wijngebied, aan het einde van de middag komen we de eerste wijngaarde tegen en als we bijna bij onze camping zijn rijden we langs Waipara Hills, een grote wijngaard met winkel en restaurant. We zijn wel toe aan een versnapering, dus voordat we onze camping opzoeken parkeren we de camper hier voor de deur. Ze blijken vandaag eerder dicht te gaan in verband met een Nieuwjaarsconcert de dag erna, maar we kunnen nog een drankje bestellen en doen als we niet hadden gezien dat de keuken al dicht is en bestellen achteloos ook wat brood met dips. In een mooie tuin met uitzicht op de druivenvelden genieten we van een Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc en Pinot Noir. Hoewel we genieten zijn we over onze keuze niet dol enthousiast en omdat er geen tijd is om nog andere wijnen te proeven lopen we de winkel dit keer voorbij en rijden verder naar onze camping voor deze nacht.
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Na ons bezoek aan de Milford Sounds en een rustig middag op een camping in Te Anau vervolgen we de volgende dag, 29 december, onze weg via de Southern Scenic Route, die vanaf Te Anau zo’n 300 km langs het meest Zuidelijke stukje Nieuw Zeeland tot aan Dunedin loopt. Onze eerste stop wordt Invercargill omdat we morgen Steward Island gaan bezoeken. De route is mooi, vanuit de Sounds met haar hoge, soms wat donkere bergen, komen we in lagere en dus groenere bergen. De schaapjes die we een beetje hadden gemist sinds het Noordereiland zijn weer in grote getallen terug, ze grazen op weilanden, heuvels en zelfs de schuinste bergwanden, als er maar gras is, lijken ze te denken. Na zo’n 120 km komt ook de zee weer in zicht, de heldere blauwe Pacific Ocean straalt ons geholpen door de zon tegemoet en we stoppen even om pootje te baden.

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Zoals voorgenomen hebben we op eerste kerstdag een rustdag op een mooie groene camping aan Lake Hawea. We slapen uit, douchen laat, wassen het beddengoed en lezen een boekje. Reza wordt gevraagd of ze met de kiwi buurmeisjes van 5 en 7 wil komen spelen, ze vindt dat nog wat spannend, dus uiteindelijk zijn we met z’n drieën op de thee met zelfgemaakte kerstcake bij onze buren. In de middag wandelen we nog wat rond het meer, eten een ijsje en gaan aan de slag voor het kerstdiner. Wraps met super kip/bonen salsa en guacamole van 2 avocado’s, om te smullen!!!

Tweede kerstdag gaan we weer “en route”. We stoppen nog even bij “puzzle world” vlak bij, een museum van puzzles en illusies en reizen dan verder naar Queenstown. We kiezen de scenic route die werkelijk prachtig is. De zon schijnt nog steeds, tussen de bergen bloeien heeeeeel veeeeel paarse en roze bloemen en op de gras heuvels grazen schaapjes. We komen tot een hoogte van 1076m met een uitzicht op Queenstown en het meer waar de stad aan ligt.
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Onze eerste ervaring met het Zuidereiland is nog op de ferry als we door de Marlborough Sounds varen. Het zonnetje schijnt, de zee is blauw, de bergen groen, het is heerlijk om door deze half onder zee gedompelde valleien te varen. De rit van Picton naar onze eerste stop Mapua is een kleine 2 uur, de wijngaarden vliegen ons om de oren, zullen we stoppen? Reza slaapt net, we besluiten door te rijden. Onze camping naast Rabbit Island ligt aan de voet van het Abel Tasman National Park, de volgende ochtend rijden we drie kwartier naar het plaatsje Kaiteriteri waar vandaan je verschillende watertaxi’s kunt nemen naar verschillende stranden onderaan het gebergte vanwaar je Abel Tasman in zoveel km-ers en zoveel dagen wat bij je past kunt verkennen. Wij kiezen voor een Reza safe bezoek. Met de watertaxi varen we in een uurtje naar het strand Tonga, onderweg zien we zeehonden slapen op de rotsen. Read more >

Hello,

Happy new years in advance!!

Hope you all have a great party! We went by bus to Tikal, the place is quite nice, very large temples, you can climb some and see a large extend of the tropical rain forest. Tikal reminds me a little bit of Disney land of the Maya temples. Between the trees all the leaves have been neatly cleaned up. You see signs of jaguar crossings, some kind of ant eaters crossings and some type of birds… like they can read the signs (we didn´t see any of these animals though).

The walks in the Tikal area were nice and we had an English guide which helped a lot and two friendly Americans. After returning from Tikal we had a day of rest and we walked around, had some nice food and packed. The day afterwards we travel to Caye Cauker, an island in Belize. Very Caribbean like, nice weather, a bit windy but very enjoyable. We did snorkling and walking around the island, we met up with a very nice couple, Alex and Billy at one of the grill places, where we had lobster and red snapper… absolutely lovely food! (we ate there the next day as well).

The snorkling was excellent, we swam with Sting Rays and lots of other colourful fish. In the evening we met up with Billy and Alex again, and they sang a lot in the karaoke bar. The day after we relaxed on the beach, chatted and bought some souvenirs (and ate lobster and … another fish steak) From Caye Cauker we took a flight to Punta Gorda (PG), well actually one small flight (2-3 person aircraft) and a slightly bigger one (12-15 people).

Punta Gorda is a very small town that is only used as a hub between Belize and Guatemala. We stayed at a very nice cottage place (Hickatee cottages), which had very nice spacious cottages and nice food. The staff was very friendly, they designed their place very nicely with nature. We biked around to the river and a small Maya town and hiked around the trails they have made themselves. We got stung a lot…. that was too bad.

The next day we travel by boat (1 hour) to Guatemala, and take the bus for 5 hours to Guatemala City, where we are now in the Best Western… tomorrow we travel to Antigua 🙂

Hugs and Kisses, Mike & Fleur

Hi All,

Day 6 we travelled from Panachel to Chichi (long name, I´ll try to spell it in the revised edition). Panachel was lovely, beautiful nature and nice people, although very touristic, so we decide to move our transfer 4 hours earlier so we can be in Chici (biggest market in Guatemala). The driver from the transfer is not really nice, he didn´t stop complaining about our lack of owning a voucher (as we only got one voucher for 15 transfers) and he complained about practically everything (one of our passengers had a cat but wasn´t allowed to take it with her, so the cat had to stay). After a few hours drive we arrive in Chichi, which is not really a beautiful city. Every day there is a ´normal´ market, but on Thursdays and Sundays it is like super market day, where all the stalls have to be broken down and replaced by the more commercial edition (aka touristy).

The restaurant we were visiting was quite nice, San Juan, and had good food and drinks and a good view over the market. As we arrived a few hours earlier than planned we were able to attend the local market and celebrations, so we had fireworks (which scared Fleur a little bit) and some nice atmosphere. We did find out though that Guatemalans don´t dance… There was a band playing whilst the fireworks started, however the non moving crowd could only be the equivalent of a group of dead people, nobody moved or danced at all (except for the odd foreigners here and there.. being us).

The next day was super-tourist market with items ranging from local produce to tourist items… we tried a Guatemalan bagel that tasted like a cookie and costed me 0.10 cents, which most probably would have been the same price for a complete bag…

The next day we travel back to Antigua to the same hotel but room 11 this time… the bed was superb… lovely room and we got a good nights rest before heading back into the bus to drive to Coban. When arriving in the Park Hotel which seemed to be a local resort, where the locals come to have a nice rest, we decide to walk… Fleur read something about 1 km from the hotel, so we decide to start a walk… After 1 hour we ask whether this is still the route, ´yes´ is the answer and we continue to walk… after nearly 2 hours we ask how far it is till the center… we get the answer… about 7km…

After 2 1/2 hours we see the signs for Coban (yet again) and we hop on a bus… nearly 20 minutes later we are in the center of Coban. We book our tour for the next day and walk around a bit, but it seems a little bit a dodgy town, so we decide to take the taxi back (which costs too much because I forgot to challenge the price). After we return we read the paper again and it actually says ¨only 1 km from the highway to Coban¨ which sounds about right… We walked nearly 13 km in vain, but still a nice experience.

The next day we have an excursion, breakfast, go to Chamuk Champay and to the Caves. The companions on this excursions are loud Australians and a couple of Americans… happy happy joy joy. Well the Americans ended up being quite nice and pleasant to talk to, but the Australians… loud doesn´t describe them. Anyways we have a nice hike and we lie in the water of Chamuk Champay which looks very beautiful (natural waterfall etc). The caves were very nice as well, but like always, you seen one cave, you have seen them all…

After this we travel to Saxchyee by bus and later by boat. We arrive a Passade de Carribe, which is a small family run bunch of huts with only cold water and all the insects you don´t really want to meet. The huts are made of straw (the top) and is covered by nets/clam boo’s to prevent the major insects of biting you. In the night the nice grasshoppers/krekels will keep you awake together with the shouting monkey (brulaap), An experience on itself, no opportunity to buy any groceries drinks except from the hosts. The hosts are very friendly and nice, they arrange the excursions so we visited to Maya Sites already, that were very beautiful. The names are not in my head at the moment. They will appear in the revised edition 🙂 San Juan and his son were excellent guides and good at explaining things (in Spanish) and I think we understood nearly everything (for non-Spanish speakers quite an achievement).

The atmosphere was friendly and superb, the next day a group of Dutch arrived at the Casa as well, which was a little bit a shame as we liked being the only people there. After the 2nd Maya site, we got back by boat to Saxchyee and we got on the car (very nice car) to Flores were we are now. The hotel was quite ok, but this is like the Scheveningen of Guatemala, many tourist, but nice views and good food! Tomorrow we are visiting the Major Maya site called Tikal… hopefully we will get nice pictures and stories from there as well!

Kisses, Mike / Fleur

Hi all,

We arrived in Pana after a 3 hour bus ride through the mountains , lots of twists and turns.
The hotel is called Utz Be which means in Maya something like good house. The people are very nice, we get a kind of bungalow on top of another, with a small 2 person bed, but still a nice room. We walk around town and to the shore of the lake, very crowded but pleasant. Lots of merchants and shops selling crafts. We decide to book a hike with one of the owners of the hotel.

The hike is planned for the next day, so we go to sleep after eating at a nice Uruguay steakhouse. The next morning we wake up early and head of with Sergio and his two German Sheppard. The walk is gorgeous and the view is terrific, no tourists in sight. It takes us approx. 3 hours up and 2 hours down, but Sergio keeps us entertained with Mayan history and stories of his life. Very recommended to everyone! Afterwards we drink some beers with Sergio until we are tired and fall asleep after dinner.

The next morning we have an excursion that was pre-arranged, we have no idea where to go so we ask Sergio and he is very helpful and after the 45 minute boat ride we meet up with Perez, sadly he doesn’t speak any English so that was a shame. We go to some small companies like weavers and craftsmen to look at how they do their work and of course have to drop by their shop. We end up with 2 paintings and a nice scarf 🙂 We wait an hour or so in the sun for our express boat back.

We walk more around town, have some lunch and dinner and end up playing cards in the lobby. Today we will walk around some more until we travel to Chici (the biggest market in Guatemala).

Kisses, Mike & Fleur

The morning starts by waking up early in the morning at 4:00 after going to bed at 1:00, so we are both a little bit tired. We get picked up by the taxi drives and we get transported (mainly sleeping) to Schiphol airport The queue is already there when we arrive and we need to wait an hour or so before it is our time to check in. After checking we head off to our gate which happens to be nearly at the end of Schiphol. We board the plane and sit next to Dutch people from either Brabant or Limburg that do not know the definition of shutting up.

One of those situations where you think… what did we do.. After a delay of one hour we arrive in Madrid and have to run to our plane in order to be on time… And then we have to wait 2 1/2 hours before we actually leave… Iberia is not good at keeping track of passengers and hence they ´lost´ one passenger… on the plane… terrific isn´t it. We have to id ourselves to make sure we are who we say we are (they don´t seem to know who sits at what spot). Anyways no really annoying loud people here so after 10+ hours we arrive in Guatemala.

In Guatemala we get on our transfer taxi and after a few hours (and some detours) we arrive in the hotel, get some money from the ATM machine (that charged us three times the amount), get some nice Mexican food at Frieda´s and get some ZzZ´s.

The next morning is walking through the city, eating and enjoying the sun. The city view looks like any other Hispanic type of country, very colourful and nice people. A meal costs around 7-10 euros a person, a bottle of Rum costs about 5 euro (real brands no brand less crap) but a bottle of wine is very expensive (in comparison).

We walked past some churches and had some nice views of the volcanos near Antigua. We had lots of problems with Cash Machines, so we had to call the Postbank to try and find out what happens… Today we have to travel to another city, so we´ll let you know how it goes from there 🙂 so far.. nice weather, good food and enjoyable scenery.

Kisses, Mike & Fleur

Owkeee another Japanese Update!

Kon wan ba Piepels!

 

Hier Mike-San met het nieuws uit het land van de rijzende zon, stinkende vis en zoete broodjes!  Ohhh ik was een dagje dood ziek sorry voor de vorige email maar ben weer stukken beter, maar dat stuk komt later lekker uitgebreid met details..
Uhhh als je 18 jaar of jonger bent, die stukken niet lezen en zeker niet thuis uitproberen!

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Nichi San, Yon, Go and Roku

Kon wan ba Piepels!

Hier Mike met het rapport uit Nihon! Het is hier echt fantastisch weer, Patrick heeft z’n voorhoofd verbrand (niet te verwarren met voorhuid), ik begin nog niet echt bruin te worden, maar doe m’n best! Het is hier elke dag rond de 20 graden en we vermaken ons prima, al is de taalbarrière nog steeds heel groot, we zijn niet bang om het te proberen en we beginnen gewoon met “Ego wa dekimasu ka” (spreek je Engels) dan is het antwoord toch altijd Iee (Nee), maar alsnog gewoon de vraag stellen in het Engels, ook wel bekend als Internationaal Engels, harder en langzamer hahaha.. nee langzaam beginnen de standaard zinnen al goed te komen.

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