Posts tagged: farmlands

New Zealand North: Dramatic Whitecliffs of Taranaki

By , January 30, 2011 1:12 am
Whitecliffs

Whitecliffs

I head back to suburbia with our arrival in New Plymouth. In the middle of the city is Pukekura Park. I wish every city had something like this. We spend over three hours enjoying everything about this marvelous park. The botanical garden includes a collection of Japanese plants. I find a new beautiful flower, which I still don’t know the name of. The ponds are filled with ducks waiting for thoughtful visitors to bring bread. There is even an amphitheater where we spot a wild Takahē bird speeding by us. At the free zoo, I watch the cutest monkey entertain himself. I later find the funkiest white bird.

Pukekura Park in New Plymouth

Pukekura Park in New Plymouth

Interesting White Flowers

Interesting White Flowers

Boris Sitting In The Amphitheatre

Boris Sitting In The Amphitheatre

Funky White Baby Bird

Funky White Baby Bird

Cute Monkey

Cute Monkey

Cotton-Top Tamarin

Cotton-Top Tamarin

Takahē Bird

Takahē Bird

In the morning we hike in Egmont National Park through an interesting young rainforest. With all the fog, we don’t see much of Mt Taranaki. Later in the afternoon, Boris is able to finally get a decent shot of the mountain for afar.

Hiking To Taranaki

Hiking To Taranaki

Leaves In The Sunlight

Leaves In The Sunlight

Young Forest

Young Forest

Can't See The Top!

Can't See The Top!

Mount Taranaki

Mount Taranaki

A short drive later brings us to the whitecliffs of Taranaki. Here we do a hike along the farmlands. Unfortunately because of the high tides, we are not able to do the shortcut along the beach. Alone with the dramatic views, it is a great spot to just chill out.

Whitecliffs Walkway

Whitecliffs Walkway

Whitecliffs Beach

Whitecliffs Beach

MuiMui

MuiMui

Enjoying The Afternoon Views

Enjoying The Afternoon Views

Along our road trip, a French custom I am acquainted to right away with is the mandatory coffee break every 2-4 hours, regardless how we travel, by foot or car.

Enjoying A Good Ol' Cup Of Joe

Enjoying A Good Ol' Cup Of Joe

I do not regret any pounds I gained here in NZ. My favorite meats here are lamb and fish. It is so fresh and with every bite, I can taste how natural it is (without all that chemical they have in US meat). Snapper and Trevally are really good too. Some local recommendations that I did not get to try are Tarakihi and Red Gurnard. A great fishery to try all this would be at Thames Wholesale Fisheries.

Lamb With Blue Cheese And Goat Cheese Salad

Lamb With Blue Cheese And Goat Cheese Salad

As for wine, I usually drink red but here in NZ, I stick to the whites. Some of our favorite NZ Sauvignon Blancs are: Babich, Villa Maria, Tohu (on the floral side), Cloudy Bay, and Oyster Bay.

2009 Tohu Sauvignon Blanc Reserve

2009 Tohu Sauvignon Blanc Reserve

Read about beautiful Auckland in our next post.

Ice Cream Shop In The Middle Of Pukekura Park

Ice Cream Shop In The Middle Of Pukekura Park

Parrot Face

Parrot Face

Lemur

Lemur

Pretty Flower

Pretty Flower

Shaved Lamas

Shaved Lamas

Little Pig

Little Pig

Farm Door

Farm Door

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Peru: Lake Titicaca From Puno

By , December 28, 2010 7:40 am
Welcome To The Floating Islands of Uros

Welcome To The Floating Islands of Uros

The city of Puno doesn’t look like much at first glance.  My immediate reaction was to get out of there since it was dirty and filled with mostly fast food eateries, but it grew on us the longer we stayed.  The city was buzzing with lots of teenagers practicing dance routines and working on costumes for an upcoming parade.  When we came to see the parade, we were offered front seats and free beer.  Overall, we found the locals we encountered in Puno to be very nice and chatty with us.

The City of Puno

The City of Puno

Anyone Want Peanuts Or A Baby?

Anyone Want Peanuts Or A Baby?

Yearly Parade Held By University Students

Yearly Parade Held By University Students

Early morning, we went down to the docks where the boats leave for Lake Titicaca.  We were approached by many so-called “captains” offering us their best deal.  Since we had asked a few locals before what we should be paying, we knew we could do better.  Later we approached a tour guide and negotiated on a price we were willing to pay.  We then jumped on small boat for a 2-day tour.

Our first stop was the floating islands of Uros.  It really felt like we arrived in Disneyland but it was still very cool to see.  All the locals were dressed up in traditional clothing and greeted us upon our arrival.  Underneath us and what was keeping us afloat were layers and layers of totora reeds.  While this used to be the only way of life for the Uros tribe, it serves more as a popular tourist attraction today.

Locals Waiting For Tourists

Locals Waiting For Tourists

View Of Uros

View Of Uros

Neat Seating Area

Neat Seating Area

Tiny Salespeople

Tiny Salespeople

7-Eleven Boat

7-Eleven Boat

Further into Lake Titicaca, we made our final stop for the evening on the island of Amantani. All tourists who want to stay overnight on the island have to participate in the homestay program. The program consists in pairing tourists with a participating family. This allows each family on the island to receive some money.  Esther, a 17-year old girl, came to pick us up and we followed her up the hill, through multiple farmlands, up and down piles of rocks, and finally to her home where she lived with her parents.  Once we unloaded our bags in our bedroom, we made our way downstairs to their kitchen for lunch.  Everyone was there with Julia, the mother, cooking, Esther helping her mother, and Augustin, the father, sitting and talking to us at the table.  It felt very strange to be eating only with Augustin at the table so we asked the other two to join us but they politely declined.  We had potato soup and a potato and cheese dish for lunch.  They live self-sufficient lives where they eat mostly what they grow and raise.  They make seldom visits to Puno for things like flour, rice, and sugar.  While our Spanish was limited, we were able to have basic conversations with them during meal times.

Isla Amantani

Isla Amantani

Our Homestay

Our Homestay

Our Room

Our Room

MuiMui Enjoying The Views

MuiMui Enjoying The Views

Views From Our Homestay

Views From Our Homestay

Our Host Family

Our Host Family

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Locals Eat Mostly What They Can Grow & Raise

Locals Eat Mostly What They Can Grow & Raise

Our Host Mother, Julia

Our Host Mother, Julia

After lunch, we met up with the rest of our group for a hike to the top of the island.  It was a good uphill walk where, in case you needed something like candy bars or a warm hat, there was always a local standing by for your business.  When we reached the top, we got a great view of the island and a dramatic sunset.

Reminds Me Of My Dog, Jojo

Reminds Me Of My Dog, Jojo

Views From The Top

Views From The Top

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Locals Standing By To Sell You Anything

Locals Standing By To Sell You Anything

Sunset

Sunset

Later in the evening after dinner, we met again with our group in a town hall for some dancing.  Our hosts convinced us to dress in their local attire and when we arrived at the hall, it seemed like everyone else was too.   After a few minutes of dancing, I was sweating from all the layers.  It was a very fun night and even though it was arranged just for us, we appreciated the warm welcome.  As we walked home, we were in arms reach of the star lit sky.  I have experienced many wonderful nights before, but this was definitely mesmerizing as there were absolutely no lights on the island or for next thousands of miles except for the millions of stars above us.

Dressed Up To Party

Dressed Up To Party

Boris & Esther

Boris & Esther

MuiMui In Layers

MuiMui In Layers

Dancing Around The Fire

Dancing Around The Fire

After a good night sleep, we had breakfast with our hosts and said our goodbyes.  Our first stop of the day was the island of Taquile, which is known for artisanry. While it was nice to walk around, there was nothing extraordinary about the place.

Isla Taquile

Isla Taquile

Local Girl Hanging On Direction Post

Local Girl Hanging On Direction Post

Back in Puno, we met up with Claire, who we befriended while on our tour.  We were joined by a few others and all headed for dinner.  I was very excited as we were going to try Cuy (guinea pig) for the first time.  It was very delicious; I liked the crispiness and saltiness of the dish.  We tried a few other dishes and as always, Alpaca was a pleaser.

Yummy Cuy Guinea Pig

Yummy Cuy Guinea Pig

MuiMui Eating Cuy ... I like It

MuiMui Eating Cuy ... I like It

Alpaca Dish

Alpaca Dish

After dinner, we went to a bar for what was suppose to be one round, turned into three rounds, of Pisco Sour.  In short, we had a great night and a great time because of the people we met in Puno.  It’s truly the people that make a place.  We are going to miss our host family and hope to come back again.

We Love Pisco Sour!!

We Love Pisco Sour!!

What We Paid: Peruvian
Soles
USD Euro
– Flores Bus From Arequipa To Puno
[5.5 hours]
13/pp 4.65 3.50
– Private Double Room At Vargas Inn:
private bathroom, basic clean rooms [no wifi]
40 14.30 10.80
– Private Double Room At El Inti Hostal:
private bathroom, wifi, great family
[recommend but not the cleanest rooms around]
30 10.70 8.10
– Lunch In Puno 3/pp 1.10 0.80
-Dinner In Puno 5/pp 1.80 1.35
– Dinner Splurge In Puno 25/pp 8.90 6.75
– Glass Of Pisco Sour In Puno 5/p 1.80 1.35
– Lake Titicaca 2-day Tour
[does not include lunch on the last day]
42.50/pp 15.20 11.45

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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