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Doubtless Bay to Puketi Forest - Day 67

A lazy day around the bays

18 °C

An overcast day in the Northland, which was supposed to be a beach day for us! Never mind, we drove around Doubtless Bay, going to a little local fete in Taipa, watching men fish on Coopers Bay and had lunch at Cable bay.
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Then on to a quiet little fishing village called Mangonui, where people of all ages were fishing off the jetty and the community centre had stalls inside selling honey, soaps and knitted items amongst other things.
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It was still early, so we took a scenic drive through a harbour town called Whangaroa - a centre for big game fishing.
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Then round the coast road through Matauri Bay. The scenery was pretty and we saw the strangest post boxes that were made from microwaves?! As usual, we were going to quick to get a picture and then there were no more!
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We stayed down another long dirt track tonight in Puketi Forest, which was peaceful but the toilets were covered in flies. Not only were there dead flies covering the seat but when I felt brave enough, I flipped the lid and flies flew out at me! Needless to say, I couldn't bring myself to go in there so a little nature 'going' had to commence. Ill never think public toilets in England are bad again!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees boats fishing views harbours Comments (0)

Coromandel - Day 59

24 °C

The first night in the van was a success! With team work, we managed to cook, wash up, put away everything we'd used, turn the back into a bed, brush our teeth and wash our faces - in cold water! You have to work together to do everything as the space is so small. Andrew being tall is handy to put the tent on the back and sort the awning velcro out and me being small means I can make the bed even with little space and move things around inside the van without injuring myself! Perfect! And we slept well too. We were warm, especially with the extra quilt, and the bed was comfy enough too.

We drove up to Coromandel Town, on the western side of the peninsula, via a little town called Thames. The roads were so windy and relatively narrow in places too, we had to concentrate on every turn to make sure we didn't drive off into the sea! It was a very pretty drive though, with sea, beach and hill views along the way.
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Both Thames and Coromandel Town are small with, to me, a 'small town' America feel to the towns and houses, which are made out of wood. We kept a look out for camp tables in the charity and camping shops, but there was either none to be seen or they were very expensive.

Andrew wanted to travel down the 309 road, as apparently it was a scenic drive, but there wasn't much there! There was a waterfall we could have walked to see, but Iguassu Falls has spoilt us for waterfalls and everything seems tiny now, and there was a walk to see their native kauri tree but we weren't sure we'd know what one looked like if we saw it, so we decided to research that and try and see one later! What is interesting down here is the vegetation, that we also saw a bit of yesterday and this morning too, which is much more tropical than I had expected. It reminds me a little of Brazil.
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Once we got the end of that road we headed north to somewhere I wanted to see - Cathedral Cove. After parking the spaceship, around about 20 other campers and caravans, we walked the 45 minute track to get to the cove. The day had turned out lovely and warm, so lots of people were on the beach enjoying the weather. We had to run through the cove to get to the beach on the other side, trying to time it right so we didn't get soaked by the waves. I still got wet! The beach, cove and rocks were really beautiful and I could have stayed their all day.
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But we had to carry on! It gets dark about 8pm here so we need to be at our campsite before then to cook in the light. We drove down the eastern coast, stopping at a few beaches along the way, including hot water beach, where you can make your own hot spring pool in the sand, but it wasn't the right time of day that.
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We arrived at Wentworth River campsite in Whangamata, which is a big place with good facilities and even hot (outdoor!) showers that you put a two dollar coin in for 4 minutes of water. The woman at reception asked us whether we'd booked as their little town of 4,000 people was being taken over this weekend by another 80,000 people attending the Beach Hop - a 50s/60s festival with music, stalls and classic cars. luckily they still had space for us, but I did wonder where this town had put 80,000 people up?!

Everything was a bit easier tonight as we're starting to learn where we can put things! To think I thought we lived in a small place in London?! Here is our home and bed!
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We're already jealous of the some of the other campers here though, they seem to have every luxury...separate tents for cooking and sleeping, a gazebo for relaxing under, full size caravans with head height and a real bed. A middle aged couple next to us popped open a bottle of champagne under their canopy! What's worse, everyone has a table to eat from but us!!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees views seaside campsite campervans Comments (0)

Buenos Aires - Day 17

Palermo, Recoleta and more steak in San Telmo

32 °C

Palermo and Recoleta were the areas to explore today, in the hot sunshine. We went into the subway, paid the ticket office and went to the platform - the signage was not clear down there and the subway was hot. We walked up and down trying to find the right platform and eventually a nice Argentinian man helped us find our way. Not only was the subway hot, it was dirty and the trains were spray painted and shabby. Not what I was expecting when the city itself was so lovely. We've think we might be 'Subway Spotters' as we said down there "We've been on the subway in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and this is the worst by far". Oh dear... Look out for a new Subway Blog coming soon, where Andrew and I travel the world riding the tubes!

Not to go on, but also unlike any other subway I've been on, here they have people selling things - a pack of scissors with safety pins and a cotton picker, a set of 12 colouring pencils...just what I need when I'm on the tube. Start selling pocket tissues or hand sanitiser and I might be interested!

Palermo was a nice area, with lots of cafes and bars, but not much in the way of sightseeing. We decided this must be more of a nighttime place, to come for drinks and food. We walked through another park, much to Andrew's pleasure (!), and rather than get on the tube again, decided the walk to Recoleta wasn't that far.
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It was! We dodge the sun as we continued walking, seeing statues of Eva Peron and large museums along the way, but by the time we got to Recoleta we were tired, hot and sweaty. There was only one thing for it - ice cream. We asked for two of the specials, which were about £2 each, maybe less, and they were massive. Dulce de Leche and Fresa (toffee and strawberry), delicious and really cooled us down :)
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Next stop was the Recoleta Cemetery, which I'd been really interested to see. Eva Peron is buried there and I'd heard it was completely different to our idea of a cemetery, although I didn't really remember why.
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We bought a map from a woman at the entrance, the money goes to the upkeep of the cemetery, walked through the pillars and it certainly was different. It was row after row of mausoleums, on paved ground, making for an off white, grey and black setting. Such a contrast to our generally small grave stones laid out on green fields, surrounded by trees and a little old church. It was an amazing but sad sight, and almost immediately I felt a little uneasy about walking around there and especially about taking pictures (thanks to Andrew we have some for you!).
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Some of the tombs were impressive - tall, white marble monuments with statues of angels on top, black marble buildings with glass cross-shaped frontage.
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Others were worn down through time and lack of care, and patched over with wood. I was expecting gravestones but these were like a little house, with a door for relatives to enter in, sit and be with the loved one, buried inside somewhere. We saw inside a few, which was ok on some - just a seat and a tiny alter, with candlesticks on top - on others it wasn't. The coffin was in full view and worse, maybe, there were what looked like recent notes and cards for 'mum'. It felt strange to be viewing all that as a tourist.

Down a narrow set of tombs we found Eva Peron's family mausoleum. It was a lot smaller than I had expected but there were many plaques as tribute to Evita and flowers left there for her.
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We decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting a busier part of town, which had nice places to shop but was also home to one of the most beautiful book shops in the world, El Ateneo. We thought it must be the most beautiful, but nope, there was a sign saying their was one better in Holland and that the fifth best was in Glasgow. Maybe we can be bookshop spotters instead of subways?
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On the long walk home we noted a strange thing that had happened today. I must be looking a little tanned (although I definitely don't seem it), and I was wearing my sunglasses (blue eyes are generally a giveaway!), but I was asked for directions in Spanish three times! Obviously I couldn't help, but it made me feel quite good to be mistaken for one of their own!

Tonight we dined on more steak! We'd been recommended a restaurant in San Telmo called Gran Parrilla del Plata and it didn't disappoint. It's set in an old butchers shop, with pictures on the wall to prove it, the same tiled walls and bottles of red wine everywhere. The waiter was learning English and wanted to practise on us, which made it an easy night for us language wise. We ordered a bottle of Malbec and a rib eye steak each (we didn't want to compare to the one we had in Puerto Iguacu) with patatas bravas - they're like small roast potatoes with a tomato sauce, Steve Waugh ;) Along with it came three dips, chimichurri, provencale and another that I can't remember the name of - it was all delicious!
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Afterwards we had drinks in Plaza Dorrego, watched the tango dancing and listened to the musicians...
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Posted by staceywaugh 13:26 Archived in Argentina Tagged trees ponds subway cemetry evita steak geeks Comments (0)

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