A Travellerspoint blog

Hawaii !!!

More diving!

sunny 30 °C

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Hawaii ! Finally, I tried to do the usual and catch the public transport but was turned away as they have rules about
luggage on busses…shit! Now I had to get a shuttle and that cost $15 as opposed to $2 for the bus. Relenting I hopped on a shuttle and an hour or so later made it to the hostel. The Polynesian Beach Club hostel, sounds cool eh! And it was this would have to be one of the best places I have stayed as far as meeting people and socializing. It wasn’t the flashest place pretty basic but honestly you don’t spend your day’s in your room, do you? and the staff were also great, most of witch are travellers themselves. I spent three weeks on Oahu except 1 day when a group of us whent over to the Big Island. The first week was spent diving doing a couple of speciality (Wreck and Photography) diving courses so I didn’t do any partying .

Sean from Reef Pirates Diving picked me up for my first dive ( the WW2 Corsair plane) of Hawaii kai about a 20 minute drive. The sea out on that side was a little rough and the boat wans.t that big either so I was keen to get into the water quick. We didn’t waste any time as I was the only one with Sean we were able to get in straight away. We jumped in dumping our BCD’s immediately and managed to get down to the wreck pretty quick. You can hop into the cockpit if you want but it pays to check for that the bloody huge resident Moray eel isn’t hiding in there. I had a look in and couldn’t believe how big he was, his neck was thicker than my thigh. It was great to be able to dive on this wreck as it is the only one that was not intentionally sunk, its pilot ditched while on a training mission, the wreck was latter refloated and moved to deeper water. After some decent bottom time and trying out my new camera we surfaced. Getting back on the boat was a lot harder but after a bit of acrobatics I managed. Our second dive was a drift dive along a wall where I saw my first green sea turtle, I thought he was going to swim straight into me but he turned at the last minute. The rest of my dives were just as great, my favourite was a wreck called the Y0257 sitting at about 30m not far of Waikiki. The sea’s were a little calmer over there and the boat was a spacious catamaran. Green sea turtles are often spotted here sleeping on the deck and they didn’t disappoint me as there was about 6 on the first dive giving me plenty of opportunity for pictures.
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So after a week of great diving I was in need of much drinking. I had 4 Irish guy’s in my room so there was no shortage of drinking partners. We went to a bar called the Long Yard which has over a 150 different beers on tap. We didn’t stay long as its quite expensive but I did manage to sample a couple of the local Kona varieties ,very…..nice! Later on that week I made some more friends with which I would spend the rest of my time there hanging out with. For something different a few of us decided to head over to the big island Hawaii, where we hired a car and drove up to see the Volcano. There were five of us Mark, Liz, Toby, Chuck and me. We had great day and plenty of laughs courtesy of Toby who was the only person not to bring (as he put it) a snorkel system. He had the last laugh though, buy the time we got back from the mountain it was getting dark so we went to the Kona brewery instead….great choice! & had one of the best beers ive ever tasted. After a couple we shot back to the airport and back to Oahu.

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Sometimes you meet people and click straight away, that was exactly the case with these guys. We would meet for breaky every morning and then if no one had any tours booked we went to the beach and chilled until we worked up a thirst upon which we would return to the hostel stopping via the ABC store to buy some Icehouse ( the only beer when your on a budget $9 for a 12 pack….bargin) oh yea ,ABC stands for All Blocks Covered ( Different to the ABC stores in Australia). These stores are litteraly on every block, every corner and are a general store similar to a 7 eleven. Back to the important stuff, drinking, we did a lot of this especially Toby ( Mr neutral) from Switzerland, Mark and Liz from Eng , Stew and Carly from Aus and of course me! The beer of choice was of course the cheapest you could find and that was Icehouse. It became a catchphrase which was said in a swiss german accent as it sounded funnier thanks to Toby. I would buy the ice and pack the esky as I couldn’t have my fellow mates drinking warm beer This became a daily ritual, even as our group slowly shrank due to some having to head back home we would still do it. It got to the point where there was only Toby and I left, it didn’t matter there was just more beer for us!

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Monday , North shore! Oh yea! Every Monday there is a trip organized and Andy (one extremely chilled dude working at the hostel) is our driver and guide. We had an awesome time, diving into some nice big beach break waves, jumping of the rock, and lazing on the beaches. In the afternoon we stopped of at Lanaki, this is the bay where the beach set of the Tv programme Lost is located We walked for about 20 mins along the beach before coming accros the set. Its guarded by a lone security guard and a bit of barier tape so your able to take pics so long as you don’t cross the line. We stayed in this spot and watched the sunset before walking back to the car.

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My last night in Hawaii, Halloween! I managed to find a costume at the last minute, a few of us found a place having a sale so we managed to all find something at a reasonable price. I spent the night sipping my beer through a straw( as I was wearing a mask) walking the street checking out the costumes of others and cutting some rug on the dance floor at a place called the Red Lion, cheap beer and Karaoke! I didn’t bother going to bed as I had to catch my shuttle at 4:30 am, so I partied through until morning and went straight to the airport……what a flight…flying jetstar too!

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So some 13 countries 20 flights and 55 different beds, Im finaly home. I feels kind of weird hearing only Aussie accents after being around foreigners for so long. Im goning to have to go back to work at some stage too but it wont be long before im off again, it’s hard to get back into a routine when you haven’t had one for a while……Well! by for now ill be back with more in a couple of Years on my next trip to catch up with all the friends I made on this one!

Posted by clintonb 18:52 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Canada...eh!

The worlds most curtious drivers! no really

So Calgary aka Cow Town, my first impression, where is everyone! I was to learn that there wasn’t much going on in this town, id met Norm (AUS) and Daniel (NZ) in my dorm who had been here about a couple of weeks and had pretty much done all there is to do without heading out of the town. Calgary also has Pedestrian ways above ground some 16 km linking 64 city blocks...so that’s where everyone is! Yup gets bloody cold in the winter so everything you need is indoors. We ended up hanging out for a good part of a week, wandering around and hitting the bar....yup just one Ceili's Irish bar...we seemed to like the place and couldn't really be bothered to find another one.besides the bar staff were beginning to get to know us. Monday night! Norm and I decided to go knock a few back. We thought it would be quiet, well, we were wrong, the bar staff advised us that it was industry night and most of the other bar staff from other establishments were dropping in for a drink. We ended up joining in on a girls 21st for a short time before we had to leg it back to our hostel (3am curfew) or risk getting locked out!

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After doing pretty much nothing the boys were off up to Provost to take on a little farm work and I was heading to Edmonton to catch up with some friends. A little worse for wear due to the Monday night I had I dragged myself to the bus station. Three hours later was in in Edmonton....seems to be a little livelier than Calgary. I spent about 4 days there, done a little shopping at the West Edmonton Mall a massive place but looking a little tired and catching up with Sabrina and Lindsay ("hey guys") who I had met in good ol Thailand! Not wanting to endure anymore of crazy people inhabiting the hostel I was off to Banff.

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I arrived in Banff feeling some what relieved to be out of the cities and in to the real Canada. I walked to my hostel admiring the view assured that I would not be run over due to the courteous nature that Canadian drivers have towards pedestrians. I’m pretty sure if they could see an ant crossing the road, they would stop for it....ha-ha you guys are so nice!! I stayed at the Same Sun Backpackers as it was close enough to everything. Upon walking into the room I realized I had an all Australian one, not hard to do in Canada! The guy's in my room were here for the ski season, something i wish i could stay for, but, i had other ideas. I did a tour of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake the next day as these were two of the places high on my list to photograph. The rest of my time there i hiked up and around the trails that surrounded Banff getting a beautiful view of the town and the Bow River.

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My next stop was Kelowna. A pretty brisk morning and i was walking to catch the bus, i passed a couple of dear (standing in a hotels flower bed) who didn’t seem to care much about my presence. I arrived at the bus station to find a hoard of grey nomads (old people) waiting to catch what i guessed was the Rocky Mountaineer. Not long after i got there it arrived, the oldies madly snapping away and chatting excitedly about their upcoming voyage through the Rockies. I on the other hand was travelling a little cheaper...yup the Greyhound, i didn’t care as long as i could sit and veg out i was happy. The bus took me through the now snow capped rocky mountain range and down to the rolling hills and lakes of the Okanagan valley finally arriving in Kelowna. If i had been a little earlier, 3 weeks maybe? i would have had sunshine. Oh well the rain would have to do, i was staying with a friend i had met while travelling through Greece (Thankyou Christian for your Hospitality) a welcome break from the hostels. Kelowna is apparently a great place to be in the summer as many people flock to it for the annual Wakefest but now seemed to be another chilled out little town. Christian kindly showed me around town, the lake and Knox Mountain. I went for a little wander on my last day determined to spot a black bear.....well there were signs up everywhere warning of them so i thought with a bit of luck i was sure to see one, nope! just a chipmunk and some Kokanee salmon. Next time maybe!

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I was expecting it to be raining in Vancouver and it was! no surprises there. A short 6 & 1/2 hour bus ride and a little walk i found my hostel. They had a great amount of info and organized tours so that saved me a little time. I went on a walking tour across to Grandville island and also done the brewery tour while i was there along with a few other Aussies in my group. As expected it was raining so it was the perfect excuse to sit inside and make sure we finished of every last drop of the beer....ahhh nice too! I looked into what it would take for me to get across to Vancouver island. One bus, transfer to another, catch a ferry and one more bus...quite simple but not when you’re lugging all your shit around. You sort of have to manoeuvre your way around (a three point turn just to turn around) when you ride public transport or you risk knocking people for six with your pack. The total time took a merry 5 hours for me to get to the island and into Victoria. I quite liked it, seemed to be a little cleaner and prettier that Vancouver but still has the same vagrant issues. I only had a couple of days there during that time i managed to catch up with Lindsay (Christian’s sister who i also met in Greece) who kindly showed me around...a big thankyou! I would have liked to have spent more time there but i had a Hockey game to get to. I done the old bus ferry bus-bus thing back to Vancouver and met up with a few other people for some pre game drinks and a little lesson on what goes on in a game. The game was between Vancouver (The Canucks) & San Jose (The Sharks) and it was great fun, watching these guy's slam each other into the wall. Ill admit it, that’s my favourite part (full contact) that’s also why i follow rugby...and that i just happened to be, originally, from NZ. I was going for the Canucks, i had to, i was in Vancouver and it was my first ever hockey game. Well they lost 3 to 1, much to the dismay of many fans and their just as passionate about hockey as i am about the rugby.

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Next stop San Francisco and i had decided to bus down to save a little money. It only took a casual 31 hours, 3 of those at the boarder. The standards of bus travel on Greyhound between Canada and America differ as i found out. Canada....nice bus, little rubbish bags next to you, somewhere to put your book or snacks etc, a TV, a nice and polite bus driver and normal people to talk to with the high possibility of getting a seat to yourself. America......crap bus! no little rubbish bags, no TV, bus driver talks twice as loud and a lot of crap, If you get a seat to yourself go by a lotto ticket because you’re bloody lucky. I’m quite surprised; i really thought that a country as advanced as America, would be as good with transportation as they are at dropping bombs? ha-ha couldn't help myself there! I eventually made it to San Fran though and was lucky enough to sit next to a local. He walked with me as he didn’t live far from the hostel where i was staying, he offered me the use of his bike and gave me a few tips on sites to see and where to find good coffee (Peets Place FYI) a must have for me. I stayed at the HI Central which is in an area where there are allot of homeless (especially one block in particular) as well as people just hanging about. So the walk to the hostel lets just say made me a little uneasy. I only had two days to see as much as i could and missed out on getting over to Alcatraz as the tours were full, it pays to book ahead for that one. I wasn't too worried though, id be back around that way again I’m sure. I did manage to ride a cable car (quite fun hanging of the side) up to Lombard st (the one that looks like a wiggly line) and walk up and down the famous streets and they are, bloody steep! In the short time i spent in San Fran, it proved itself to be a great place and one of my favourite cities to have visited so far.

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Aloha Hawaii...finally, iv been waiting to get here and I’m going to be here for three weeks!. Its my last stop before heading home so I’m making the most of it. Im doing some more diving and the rest of the time ill just go with the flow of Hawaiian life...a casual-casual no rush kinda pace. Ill do another entry before i head home along with my pics.

By for now

Clint

Posted by clintonb 21:56 Comments (0)

Time to Dive

Hot and Cold and a little bit of Bling

sunny 40 °C

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Anti Paros, the smaller island just a stones throw from Paros its big brother is where I spent the next 6 days. I was here to do a few dives and couldn’t wait to get in the water. I arrived late on the ferry and made my way over to the bus stop to catch the bus going to Punda port which is where I had to catch another ferry to Anti Paros. The first bus was full and the next wasn’t due until 12:30pm but as luck has it I managed to share a taxi with a guy and his daughter (who were from Norway) to the port. Finally arriving I wandered up the street to find the dive shop. It was amazing to see the streets still buzzing with tourists, and the shops still open. I was given directions to my room, found it easily enough and crashed for the night.

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I spent the next day wandering around the quaint little streets and ally’s of the town and watching the local fisherman selling their catch of fish, octopus and squid. The following 5 days I dived, the water was a little cooler than Thailand but the visibility made up for that. I met some great people (Sarah, Vanessa, Louise who kindly shared their balcony with me and Tom who bought us all waffles….yummy! Thanks Tom) and had some equally great dives. We found out that Tom Hanks done his open water certification with the company we were diving with and comes back every so often to dive with his sons….apparently he’s pretty good. Eventually it was time for me to leave the island and head back to Athens. It wasn’t long before I was back and on my way to the UK, where I spent a few weeks before heading to the USA.

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Miami….Pimp your ride and Bring you’re Bling, that’s what it seemed to be all about. I was glad to be somewhere warm. As with Greece I was here to do some diving so wasted no time in booking a couple of dives with South Beach Divers. No wet suit needed on these dives as the water was a warm 32 deg c beautiful! I spent the rest of the time soaking up the sun and doing a tour of the Everglades.

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Next on my list was Las Vegas! And time to stay in a hotel for a change. I stayed at the Sahara in the older part of the strip, not a bad place and let’s face it better than any hostel! I took a rip out to the Grand Canyon crossing the Hoover Dam on the way. The Canyon almost look like a painted backdrop, it’s hard to perceive its depth as it’s so big.

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I spent most of my time in Vegas walking the strip checking out the various shows and casinos. Going to see KA by cirque du soleil was the highlight, an awesome show!. The rest of the time was going as many of the rides the strip had to offer.

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Only five days in Vegas and I was on my way to Canada. There was only one problem, I was flying via Dallas then to Calgary, bags all checked in, the flight was cancelled due to dodgy battery. After a couple of hours I managed to get a direct flight on Air Canada so it worked out quite well, minus my bag though, it wouldn’t arrive until the next day. So now im in Calgary (cow town) sitting in my hostel listening to some guy ( think he’s Jamaican) telling me and another guy that we should not be using our laptops as he cant sleep because according to him, they are drawing too much energy!…..Fruitcake!!

Posted by clintonb 17:12 Comments (0)

The UK and Europe

Stamp my Passport Please!

sunny 35 °C

Hi everyone!

Well I’m on my own now as Team Dmc are no more. Doria and Melissa have returned home and im carrying on through to Europe. So Since arriving in London I’ve managed to negotiate the infamous Underground, not that hard really and spend a few days walking around seeing as much as I could and as cheaply as possible. I managed to get stopped twice by the local coppers whilst wandering around. The first was a random search under the new anti terrorism act, glad to say it all went pretty good. The second time was all my fault; it probably wasn’t a good idea to take pics of government buildings so close to number 10 Downing Street, the priministers residence. It’s just that there’s some nice architecture around that area, so when two officers approached me and asked why I was taking pictures of such a building, I roughly explained and they seem to understand. I ended up having quite a gook conversation about my camera and where id been travelling. I managed to see all that I wanted to in London in a couple of days, so it was time to head south to visit a friend. I caught a bus down to Ringwood just 2 hours south of London, for the princely sum of 1 pound!…..yup some things are cheap in the UK.

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I spent the next couple of weeks touring the good old English countryside visiting places such as Stone henge, the Dorset coast, Corfe Castle, Bath (known for its Georgian period architecture) and Winchester where the famous round table is. I had a great time, drank beer in a proper pub and ate some proper English food. The weather was as expected very English (cold and wet) but the sun managed to poke through when it counted, so all in all it wasn’t that bad. I have to say I got quite spoilt there, having a comfortable bed and not having to compete for a shower. So after about three weeks I found myself a little reluctant to go back to life in a hostel but Paris was my next stop and I was keen to see what it had to offer.

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Apparently you don’t have your passport stamped out of the UK or stamped into France for that matter. When I arrived in Paris the immigration officer played hot potato with my passport, he gave it about as much attention as you would a blank piece of paper. I wandered through a little confused by the whole thing and collected my bag .I then proceed to try and find the subway., so far I have found Paris to have the worst metro system and airport that I have come across, but I’m sure there are worse. I finally made it to my hostel and was quite surprised when I scored my own room complete with basin…..not bad considering I had booked a 6 bed room. Getting around Paris wasn’t too hard once I got used to the metro although I found it quite hard to find the actual station entrances at times, not really clearly marked. I met a couple of girls at breakfast (Paula from NZ and Kelly from Aus, Hi guy‘s! hope all is well) they were going to Pere Lachaise cemetary to see the grave of Jim Morrison (the Doors) grave and invited me along. The cemetery was huge and so was everything in it. I had a great afternoon visiting the Notre Dame and then the Montmartre area. Kelly and I missed the walking tour around this area as we were late. So instead we found a little café, had a coffee, had a chat and watched the people of Paris go about there business. Over the next couple of days I rode the metro visiting the many monuments and sites that Paris had to offer. Taking pictures at night was a pain in the ass. The sun didn’t set until very late not giving me much time, as a result I missed the last train and ended up walking back to the hostel. It wasn’t a long walk, only a couple of kms although the neighbourhood where I was staying wasn’t the safest……the trade of for cheap accommodation.

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Time to leave Paris and catch my plane to Madrid. A short flight later and I walked into what id have to say is a bloody nice airport terminal, quite new I think. This time there was no one to look at my passport so I wandered on through to collect my bag. I had no problem finding the metro as its right in front of you and very user friendly, quite similar to KL’s and Singapore’s. I short ride and a couple of line changes, I found myself walking out of the metro and wandering along a street full of prostitutes. I seem to book hostels in the seediest of areas. I had two other Aussies in my room (Mark and Andrew) that had pretty much done the same thing I had done back home, sell up and go travelling. Andrew had bought motorbike in London and was riding his way around Europe……brave man! And Mark had just come from South America. Well, we all got along great and over the next couple of days toured the city and had plenty of laughs. Andrew’s curiosity got the better of him at lunch and he decided to try this desert (which we labelled the white stuff!) It looked like white moose but in actual fact, tasted like baby’s puke. After their reactions I opted not to taste it. We were quite surprised when a couple of other patrons gulfed theirs down without an expression

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I was quite surprised by how clean and beautiful the city of Madrid is, everything seems to be in order and there was bugger all traffic, pretty sure that’s because everyone would have been heading for the coast. My stay was only short here as I opted to spend a little more time in Athens and go diving around the islands. I think ill have to come back to Spain and see it all, it’s a beautiful place. With that in mind I said my goodbye’s and made my way to that bloody nice airport and caught my plane to Athens. I didn’t even bother to get my passport out this time, just walked through. I arrived at about 1am and caught a bus into the city walked for a short while with a local guy, who was kind enough to call the hostel for me to get directions. As it turns the easiest and safest way was to catch a cab…..once again not a safe place at night! Only cost 3 euros though so I didn‘t mind. Well that’s pretty much it for now, im at my hostel, I ve got 4 days here then im on the ferry to Paros to do a spot of diving! Well thats all i have for the moment so takecare...........bye for now!

Posted by clintonb 04:59 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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