OPINION: I was too young to enjoy John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg, in his heyday but like many Kiwis I’ve always felt a strong connection to his message of 'we don't know how lucky we are'.
I’m not afraid of a bit of travel – I recently had a fantastic trip around Asia. However, I always appreciate coming home.
That said I’m in a state of constant bafflement at those who seem ungrateful for the privilege of residing in the greatest country on earth.
I know David Kennedy was putting his hand up for a hard-earned Icelandic research junket to investigate how the locals are handling the hordes of curious tourists arriving each year.
Unfortunately for David, my former Winter Festival partner in crime Jo Holley and I beat him to the basalt in September with a nine-day adventure around Europe’s youngest and most expensive island.
Hello Queenstown, how are things back home at the centre of the universe?
I trust a boardie and jandal-clad spring has sauntered in and warmed things up a bit for some goggle-tan days of spring skiing.
Out of a selfless concern for the future of Queenstown’s tourism industry and inspired by David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet series I’ve spent the last two weeks tracking one of the great tourist migrations.
Scandinavian tourist season from January to April each year involves the migration of juveniles making their first trip out of the nest halfway around the world to escape the harsh northern winter.
Wellington 7's - From what I can derive from photos, patches of memory and voicemail, not to mention my imagination, this is how the sevens unfolded.
It nearly went pear-shaped from the get-go, after my Rocky Balboa costume arrived on my doorstep a mere 10 minutes before my sweaty dash through 30-degree heat to the airport.
Arriving sodden, flustered and without time for my customary pre-flight airport terminal Speight's it was stressful times.
At least my costume cost only $110 – the Chewbaccas apparently spent $700 on theirs!
INTRO: As seems to be customary in the Ionian Islands my stay at Corfu’s infamous Pink Palace lasted a little longer than the 2 nights I had planned. Upon sobering up long enough to compile some reasoned cranial thoughts I felt it appropriate to pontificate some glaring similarities between the Palace and extremist religious sects more commonly referred to as cults.
Mark Wilson in Europe, Greece 5th-16th July 2011, 10 things you need to know to get through.
What was I expecting.....? I had just flown from the prosperous lands of Scandinavia to the rock bottom of Europe, from order to chaos from prudent financial management and austerity to complete lack of any financial management at all.
I landed in Greece what was once renowned as being one of the most advanced civilizations on the planet in ancient times, revered for fighting its prowess, technical innovation and the advancement of mankind having heard only a scattering rumours about the state of country beyond Athens sufficiently normal looking airport lounges, to be honest my mind had wandered off into the beauty of Scandinavia and its people.
Where did my Scandinavian fascination start? As a young nipper, charging round the bull rush filled school playgrounds of the Deep South, I completed a project on Sweden. Too young to really appreciate much more than some basic geographical facts and at the tender age where girls were infested with cooties, I had merely opened the book. It would be some years later while living in the tourist mecca of Queenstown and taking my first steps out into the big wide world abroad that I would begin to flick through the glamorous pages of what would develop into somewhat of an obsession in later years .
While travelling I began to notice several trends relating to blonde hair and blues eyes which all invariably led back to Sweden. However like any good Kiwi male, I’m not one for directly confronting issues, so I skirted around the fringes with trips to Denmark and Estonia. These trips, like a gold miner finding the first few specs of gold on a new claim, only served to drive me deeper in search for the large nuggets which rested on the bedrock.
Imagine taking the entire crowd of the Wellington Sevens, complete with costumes, cloning everyone at least twice before sending them off running, walking and dancing through the Capital to Lyall bay on the Pacific Coast. Why not bus in 100’000 curious spectators form the Hutt and Porirua to line the course and you may be able to fathom the insanity that is Bay to Breakers.
San Francisco Oyster Festival - View Website
Being a Southlander I’m filled with great pride to be from the home of the Bluff Oyster surely the world’s finest and most succulent example of a marine creation ever to be liberated from Neptune’s larder. So given the opportunity whist in San Francisco I stoically took up the challenge laid down by the locals to give the 11th annual San Francisco Oyster Festival a nudge and sample the accompanying locally sourced Drake Bay Oysters.
It’s billed as must do and after 5 days in and around Thailand’s Koh Pha-Ngan Island for thefabled Full Moon Party I can concur it’s an eye opening, exciting if not a little scary experience.
Getting to Koh Pha-Ngan Thailand’s 5th Largest Island from New Zealand is like most things in Asia, easy as pie in the brochure and travel guide, but in reality there are a few hurdles and challenges along the way. Flights to Thailand are numerous, budget seekers can sneak through Australia to Bangkok on Air Asia or some concoction of budget carriers direct if you’re extremely lucky or via a series of Asian hub cities. From all accounts it’s long and painstaking but you can save a good amount of dosh if you have the time and patience. I took the far more convenient and comfortable Air New Zealand option which actually sees you flying on code share partner Thai Airways direct form Auckland. Yes it shifted a little more gorse from the trouser pocket but when you arrive in a big, hot smelly Asian city you at least want to do feeling as fresh as possible.
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