At long last, we have sunshine..Transportation…Safety…All new photos…

This morning’s sunny day.

Yesterday, we called Rasnesh to pick us up tomorrow at 11 am for a duel purpose; sightseeing earlier in the day, shopping after sightseeing.  We’re excited to be getting out.

We’d hoped to get out on Tuesday but on Monday, he called and cancelled when he had a longer distance fare to Labasa, where another airport is located, a two hour drive each way from Savusavu.

When we first arrived, we offered to request his services on dates and at times when it was most convenient for him with our schedule wide open.  If he has a fare where he’ll make more than with us to various sites and the villages, we’ve encouraged him to take it.


View from our veranda to the three unit vacation home as a part of this four unit resort.  The lawn guy is here today, mowing and trimming.

We hadn’t negotiated special rates with him when we arrived when the amounts he charges for trips to the village or for an hourly rate for sightseeing is so reasonable.  As we’ve mentioned in the past, here are the costs for his services:

  • FJD $20, USD $9.39: Round trip to the village for shopping, dropping us off and picking us up when we call.  We add an addition FJD $10, USD $4.70 when he helps us carry our purchases to the house.
  • FJD $30, USD $14.09:  Cost per hour for sightseeing. 

We’ve noticed when we do both, sightseeing and shopping on the same day, we’re charged for the trip to the village, plus the hourly travel rate. Ah, who’s to complain at these reasonable prices?  If we’re gone for four hours at FJD $120, USD $56.35, its a very fair fare (no pun intended)!

When we recall paying for taxi fare in London in August 2014, when we visited the highly rated pub (Andover Arms) on two occasions, the round trip taxi fare was USD $50, GBP $32, FJD $106.  In Fiji, that amount would give us almost four hours on the road!  


Colorful ocean view from our area.

Although four hours on the roads in Vanua Levu may sound exciting, on this remote island, it would be four hours of bumpy roads, dense greenery and occasional ocean views, all of which we love and easily experience on shorter trips to specific destinations.  We prefer aimlessly driving when we have a rental car, stopping as often as we’d like for photos and restrooms breaks.

With the sun shining we’re excited to get out more often, subject to the availability of the only driver in this village willing to tackle the steep road to this resort area.  It would be impossible for us to walk down the long mountainous road.  For mountain climbers and seriously fit hikers, it may not be a problem.

How easily we could feel trapped.  But, long ago we decided, after realizing we’d need drivers in various countries, we accepted that there would be days we’d want to get out and weren’t able to do so, based on our driver’s availability.  Sticking to the same driver or their designated co-driver has been important to us, particularly when safety has been an issue in several countries.


The bright blue of the bay is breathtaking from this elevation.

Upcoming in 46 days, when we fly to the next Fijian Island of Viti Levi, the larger main island, where we’ll stay for one more month, we’ll be renting a car at the Nadi Airport and driving two hours to our new location, again a private house. 

With high crime rates in the downtown Nadi area, when we booked Fiji long ago, we’d decided to stay in another more remote location where the likelihood of crime is greatly reduced.

Many tourists stay in the Nadi area in resorts and hotels, generally insulated from criminal activities when onsite.  The risks for tourists escalates when out on the streets in the busy city, as we’ve been warned by the locals here who often travel to Nadi to visit family.  Muggings, pickpocketing and car jacking is not unusual.


Another ocean view from our area.

With our preferred choice of vacation homes as opposed to staying in hotels, we usually don’t have the safety net of on site security as is often available in most hotels.  Generally, one can feel relatively safe from crime in a hotel, although there are isolated exceptions.

Currently, we’re living in a resort but, in the only stand alone vacation rental house on the property. Further up the hill behind us is a separate building with three apartments including one penthouse type upscale unit on the top floor.  Mario and Tayana’s private residence is off to the side as shown.


When Rasnesh picks us up he pulls into the driveway of the three unit building in this resort.  The driveway near the steps down to our house below is too steep for stopping the vehicle, making getting in and out nearly impossible.

Junior is around during the day and Mario is onsite in his separate house to our left as we face the ocean.  We feel totally safe and protected in this ideal location.

Criminal activity on this island of Vanua Levu is almost non-existent.  When we’ve driven by the courthouse on several occasions, located on the edge of town, there are no cars in the parking lot.  Most likely, they only open when they have a case.  From what we hear, its a rare occasion.
 

Oceanfront view of Mario and Tatyana’s house, much larger than it appears in the photos.  We took this photo from the steep road. 

The fact that we prefer living in smaller towns and villages in our travels has more to do with our lack of interest in crowds and the fact that we don’t shop other than for food and supplies as needed.  We love the quaint charm and nature of small villages and the friendly, less harried lifestyle of its people. 

For the average tourist, staying in more populous area in most countries provides endless opportunities to find that special item to bring back home, for oneself, and for gifts for family and friends.  Also, easy access to restaurants is an important factor for tourists whereas for us, its irrelevant.


Side view of Mario and Tatyana’s recently built house.

We don’t send our grandchildren trinkets from all over the world.  Instead, we send gift cards or gifts that they’d like, not what we think they’d like from a foreign country. If we did, at this point, their bedrooms would be filled with useless touristy type items, eventually to be tossed away. 

Maybe we’re too practical in the minds of others. Then again, how practical is having no home, no stuff other than what fits into three suitcases, a duffel bag and a laptop bag and…changing countries and homes every few months or less?

Have a beautiful and meaningful day!

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2014:

We were entranced by this colorful Gold Dust Day Gecko, commonly seen in the Hawaiian Islands, particularly in Maui where we were living one year ago.  This gecko was located on the wall by the pool but, from time to time, we spotted them inside the condo, certainly no big deal.  Generally, geckos are harmless if not annoying, leaving droplets of white poop and making peculiar noises.  In Fiji, we see new gecko poop in the house every few days.  For more details, please click here.

Part 2…The journey continues…Itinerary additions…

Celebrity Solstice

Ship Rating:
The first ship to be a part of Celebrity’s Solstice class, the Celebrity Solstice features many of the personal amenities passengers have come to expect from Celebrity while carrying 2,850 passengers. Each of the ships in the Solstice class feature wireless Internet throughout, larger staterooms with flat screen televisions, spacious bathrooms, more storage space and plush European bedding. Balconies are available in 85% of the ship’s staterooms, and the Solstice-class ships include an exceptional range of guest-inspired services and amenities made possible due to the ships’ larger size. Spa-enthusiasts aboard the Celebrity Solstice can enjoy the 130 “AquaClass” veranda staterooms, with unlimited access to the Aqua Spa relaxation room and the Persian Garden, and exotic aromatherapy and steam room. AquaClass guests also receive exclusive complimentary dining in Blu, an intimate 130-seat specialty restaurant.
 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 2008
Tonnage 122,000 tons
Registry Malta
Length 1,033 feet
Beam 121 feet
Passenger Capacity 2,850
Crew Size 999
Total Inside Cabins 102
Total Outside Cabins 1,323
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 1,177
Suites 56
Maximum Occupancy per room 5
Age Restrictions One person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 2
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Assigned
Dining Hours 6:15 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Recommended? Yes
Tipping Guidelines Added to onboard account. $12.00 per person, per day in staterooms, $12.50 per person, per day for Concierge/Aqua class, $15.00 per person, per day for Suites. 15% tip included on beverage orders.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges 14
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino Yes
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing Yes
Elevators Yes
Hot Tub 10
Cell Phone Service Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Note: Available in certain areas
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Movie Theatre Yes
Outdoor Movie Screen No
Onboard Weddings Yes
Self Serve Laundromats No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade Yes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court Yes
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track Yes
Mini-Golf Course No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool 3
Tennis Court No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting Yes
Children’s Playroom Yes
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program Yes
Teen Center Yes
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
(private connecting doors)
Yes
Kosher Meals Yes
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins 30

See below the text for more details about this ship and our booked cruise on September 23, 2014, one year from now.

First, an update on the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya:

Many of our friends have contacted us inquiring as to our safety after the horrific attacks on a shopping in Nairobi. We are saddened by the loss of life and the injuries sustained by many Kenyan residents and visitors. 

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those lost in the devastation and extend our wishes for healing and recovery for those injured. 

As for us, rest assured, we are far from the attacks, a 7-hour car ride, a one hour flight. Although we have no TV and can’t stream news due to data restrictions, we were abreast of the situation only hours after it commenced.

When we registered our travel itinerary with the US State Department many months ago, we couldn’t help but notice numerous warnings for travelers to stay out of discos and shopping malls, often targets for these heinous attacks. We have taken these warnings seriously with no intentions of visiting either a mall or disco.

Today, when once again we went grocery shopping, the gates to the small strip mall were closed, attended by armed guards, checking bags, packages, and trunks along with opening the door and looking at the passengers in the vehicles.  Alfred, our driver, made the transition relatively seamless, speaking in Swahili to the guards as we were waved on after the inspection of the vehicle.

The Nakumatt Grocery Store had several guards at the entrance but this has been the case each time we’ve shopped. As I entered to shop, I was “wanded” to ensure I had no concealed weapons.

When Tom walked upstairs in the strip mall to the SafariCom phone store to buy more SIM card scratch cards (to add more data to Hans’ Hotspot we’re using), armed guards stood in attendance at the door, wanding, checking ID and inspecting passports.

Well aware of the risks in Kenya before we booked our plans, it’s comforting to know, now that we’re here, that the Kenyan government takes these risks seriously. But, as we see, many scenarios are difficult to fully protect based on the carnage that occurred at the upscale mall this past weekend.

Tom and I also consider our safety with the utmost of concern, avoiding unguarded restaurants and points of interest. Yes, we are across the street from the Indian Ocean and had hoped to spend time walking the beach during the day. 

However, the risks on the secluded beaches are many and we choose to stay away. We’re able to see the beach when dining in resorts located on the ocean, all of which are guarded, none of which we will walk at night. 

In the realm of the recent events, our lives of travel seem so small and insignificant. Although we all carry on in our own lives, in light of the devastation around us, the memories lingering in our hearts and minds.

Now, on to the second leg of our newly booked travels. 

Yesterday, we left at the point whereby we traveled to Boston, MA, USA by cruise ship from London on our eventual path toward Hawaii where our kids and grandchildren will visit us on our rental house in Kona for Christmas.

1. September 17, 2014 to September 23, 2014:  Fly from Boston MA, USA to Vancouver,
British Columbia Canada (one way, under $250 each!),  where we’ll
stay for 6 nights touring this enchanting city.

 

2. September 23, 2014 to October 5, 2014 – Cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu, Hawaii
3. October 5, 2014 to December 1, 2014 – Rent a condo on the beach in Honolulu where we’ll stay until December 1, 2014
4.  December 1, 2014 – Fly from Honolulu to the Big Island of Hawaii where we’ll live in our rented house with our kids and grandchildren visiting for Christmas until January 15, 2015
5. January 15, 2015 – Fly to the island of Kauai, Hawaii where will live in a lovely oceanfront condo until May 15, 2015. 
By next May, we’ll begin booking beyond the above ending date, a full year in advance.
For now, we need to find a house to rent in England for a month, hotels for both Boston and Vancouver and a condo for Hawaii.  Once completed, we’ll
be fully booked through May 15, 2015, looking forward to planning the next
leg of our world journey.  At this point, we haven’t decided where we’d like
to go as we continue to discuss the endless exciting options.
Here are the details of the 2nd cruise we booked over the weekend from
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Honolulu, Hawaii.  As usual, we
booked a balcony cabin on the starboard side to ensure the best views.

(Please excuse editing.  Each time we copy and paste cruse itineraries, they appear differently when pasted and are impossible to edit).

 

12 nights departing September 23, 2014 on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice
Brochure Inside $2,799
Our Inside $1,324
You Save 53%
Brochure Oceanview $3,099
Our Oceanview $1,474
You Save 52%
Brochure Balcony $3,399
Our Balcony $1,699
You Save 50%
Brochure Suite $5,599
Our Suite $2,849
You Save 49%
$$$ Early booking bonus! Book now and receive a FREE US$100 per cabin onboard credit on select categories.
Promotions may not be combinable with all fares.
ITINERARY
DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Tue Sep 23 Vancouver, BC, Canada 5:00pm
Wed Sep 24 At Sea
Thu Sep 25 At Sea
Fri Sep 26 At Sea
Sat Sep 27 At Sea
Sun Sep 28 At Sea
Mon Sep 29 Honolulu, Oahu, HI 1:00pm
Tue Sep 30 Honolulu, Oahu, HI 8:00pm
Wed Oct 1 Kilauea Volcano, HI (Cruising)
Wed Oct 1 Hilo, Hawaii, HI 11:00am 8:00pm
Thu Oct 2 Kona, Hawaii, HI 11:00am 8:00pm
Fri Oct 3 Lahaina, Maui, HI 8:00am
Sat Oct 4 Lahaina, Maui, HI 6:00pm
Sun Oct 5 Honolulu, Oahu, HI 7:00am

 

 

 


Charges







Cruise (includes port charges) 3,558.00
Government Taxes* 270.02
Pre-Paid Gratuities 288.00
 


 

Total Sale (US$) $ 4,116.02

 

*subject to change by the cruise line.


Payments








Paid To Type Amount
 


 

 


 

 


 

Celebrity CC 900.00
 


 

Total Payments (US$) $ 900.00
Balance Due (US$) $ 3,216.02


Final payment due July 1, 2014.

Additional expenses are incurred while cruising including Internet fees, alcoholic and other beverages (ice and hot tea and coffee are free of charge), purchases in the shops (a rare occurrence) and for the specialty restaurants which we may try from time to time.  In most cases, our bill, above and beyond the cost of the cruise itself, usually runs about $1200 for a two week cruise.  This additional expense is factored into our budget.As we book the house for a month in England and the almost two months in Honolulu, we’ll share the photos and details with you.  For now, the search continues.