Category Archives: United Kingdom

Farewell Fiji – Part Six

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Well it’s back to the office at Qamea and time to say farewell to all the wonderful staff members and management who have looked after us.

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Sonja’s turn to supervise the luggage as it waits to be picked up.

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While waiting for our bus transfer to Matei Airport, I’m having a chat with little Vani and her grandmother who have just set up shop a couple of weeks earlier to sell bananas and other small goods.

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If you like there’s a coffee or tea too.

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Dropping off one of the workers as we make our way on the partial dirt road to the airport.

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Back at the airport where the post office is located as well and handy for any deliveries and collections.

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My turn for the jump seat and I’m not touching a thing …

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Ready for take off and away we go.

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Emergency – hope not.

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All good.

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Flying very close to the mountain range and onto Nadi airport.

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Arrivals and departures are much preferred to be to the south, due to the closeness of the Sabeto mountain range to the immediate north of the airport. A large turn around area, suitable for Boeing 747s, is to the left of the threshold of Runway 02, in case meteorological factors make departure to the north necessary.

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Located less then ten minutes from Nadi airport, ‘Essence of Fiji’ is a newly-opened business whereby passengers can relax and have a spa treatment before going to the airport should they need to fill in time before their departure flight. Costs are incredibly inexpensive and can be charged in either Fijian or Australian dollars. There’s an arrival and departure board which shows your flight so you can keep tabs on how the time is going and updates on any delays.

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Well, it might be Welcome Home for some, but for us it’s time to return home to Australia and we’ve had the most amazing trip to an area of Fiji which has graciously given us an insight into their daily lives and we certainly feel much happier for the experience.

Qamea along with its Local Community, Northern Fiji – Part Five

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Next day out, we’re visiting the local community who entertained us the night before, have invited us to visit the village where they live.

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It’s an interesting walk into the lives of very humble Fijians who take this path daily.

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Vine-covered trees are just the norm and although humid we’re feeling a nice breeze from the sea.

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And who should we run into? Some of the school children about to have their lunch. If you have the opportunity to visit a school, make sure you clear out any pencils, stationery etc to take with you as they appreciate these small tokens to assist them with their everyday learning.

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Cute and not too sure about us coming over for the day.

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Soon enough we’re met by our host for the day and again inviting us to join them for a morning tea and sing along.
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Quality locally-made handicrafts are for sale which assists the locals in maintaining the school and local’s living expenses. Many of the villagers are employed and trained by Qamea in its daily operations such as hospitality; food and beverage service along with outdoor activities and the upkeep of the property.

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The unpretentious Church is set up for everyone to visit and reflect.

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Kava, also known by its Fijian name yaqona, is an indigenous plant that has been long used by Pacific Island cultures for its pleasant relaxation effect. In the past it was solely used by Fijian chiefs, but is now enjoyed by everyone. It is still customary and good etiquette to participate.

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And at the end of the day, we make our way back through the humungous vegetation and glad there’s a well-worn path to follow.

Qamea Resort and Spa, Northern Fiji – Part Four

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Saying goodbye to Matangi wasn’t easy but hello Qamea around the corner with a short speed boat ride from our next host makes the transfer seamless. About ten minutes makes a quick crossing from one island to the next.

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Site inspection of Qamea Resort and Spa reveals some truly magnificent, well-thought-out structures, built and considered for clientele looking for exclusivity.

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My home for the next two nights, the Honeymoon Suite … I’ll keep this Bure in mind for when it really does happen – that’ll make headlines!

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Again louvered windows allow a warm but welcome breeze through this very stylish, contemporary Bure with a separate bedroom, study and lounge area. The shower facilities are available both inside and also outside as a closed-off recess which includes a spa.

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Chess – for big people like me.

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At Qamea Resort and Spa, we’re given a welcoming from the community’s locals including the children who entertain us with their traditional story (Meke) through dance and song.

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An offering of Kava to the nominated ‘Chief’ of our group for the ceremonial greeting of the guests.

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As each community has its own Meke this is definitely one of the best as the youngsters really thrive in showing off their cultural inheritance which will be passed down for generations to come.

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And, if you’re like me and salivate over Kokoda (which is a raw fish salad), Qamea have cooking classes as well to show you how it’s made the traditional way.

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And just when you didn’t think sunsets could be any better than the last one you saw in Fiji.

Taveuni, Fiji – Matangi Private Island, Part Three

Leaving Paradise Taveuni we’re now headed for Matangi Private Island.
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So how do we make it over to Matangi? By speed boat and a quick snorkel on the way at Rainbow Reef.

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Glass-like water at Rainbow Reef as it’s one of the best snorkelling areas in the world and separates Vanua Levu and Taveuni, (the second and third largest islands of Fiji). Among its many wonders is the Great White Wall, a sunken escarpment blanketed in luminescent white corals. Consistently rated as one of the world’s best dive sites, the wall is reached via a tubular swim-through and starts at a depth of 20 metres.

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Snorkelling at Rainbow Reef from our vessel before heading to Matangi. Not far from us is the International Date Line.

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Our crew looking after us as with the required equipment, water and sunscreen.

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We’ve arrived to a traditional welcome song by the staff at Matangi with eight fox terriers jumping around in the water to meet us as well.

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And who best to show our group around is Sireli (centre) who is the resident ‘go to’ person who can help with any enquiries.

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Bures are on the beach frontage and an easy walk to the main dining area, spa, library and pool.

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Standard accommodation appears to be superior in so many ways. Love the open louvers allowing a constant breeze without having to turn on the air conditioning. A big thumbs up in my book.

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However, there’s a Tree Top Villa which is pure luxury and ideal for Honeymooners.
Surrounded by lush tropical foliage, offering ultimate privacy and yet only steps from the beach, these three split-level Treehouses are unique to this island.

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Matangi Private Island is listed in Conde Nast Traveler as one of the “Top Five Most Romantic Resorts in Fiji”

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At Horseshoe Bay there’s the opportunity for more snorkelling and an afternoon tea (this is an additional option which can be taken after you arrive). You’ll uncover the tranquillity of an intimate hideaway of a 240-acre unique horseshoe-shaped Fiji island paradise; boasting virgin tropical rainforest, white sand beaches and volcanic rock faces rising from crystal clear waters.

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Spa treatments are additional but so worth it. The variety of treatments on offer include the traditional Fijian Bobo massage, Lava Shell massage, Hot Stone massage, Earth Sea Salt Body Glow and Coconut Sugar Glow.

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Sunset dinner for two can be arranged.

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Cooking demonstrations are part of the day as an activity to guests.

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Courtney makes friends with the resident goat Blackie.

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A traditional dance is held before dinner – hot stuff and candy for the eye!

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Truly? This is the best lobster I’ve ever eaten in my life. Not sure where the owners source their sea food but don’t change!

Taveuni Island, Fiji Part Two

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What would we have done without our multi-skilled pilot Sam taking a ‘selfie’? We’d have to do our ourselves of course …

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Here we’re flying over the main island of Viti Levu which is Fiji’s largest island and down below is where Fiji Water flourishes and is produced. Best natural water on the planet as far as I’m concerned and it was interesting to see shelves of it throughout European supermarkets late last year.

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Heading towards Taveuni – it’s a 1 hour and 15 minute flight.

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Also known as the Garden Island and third largest of the Fijian group it’s spectacular doesn’t matter which way you look.

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We’re about to land at Matei Airport.

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Baggage arrival and away we go.

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Yes we were picked up and transferred to our first night stay at Paradise Taveuni and what an adventure as most of the northern part of the island is an unsealed road. It is about an hour or so by vehicle depending on the conditions.

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The owners weren’t the only ones to greet us, Beethoven came along as well.

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Orange juice you say? Not likely …

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Beautifully manicured gardens throughout this resort.

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Who needs air conditioning here!

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Paradise Taveuni known for it’s close proximity to Rainbow Reef is a haven for snorkelers and diving.

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Just when you think the sunset can’t be any better, there’s another one to take your heart away.

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So what to do after all the swimming, eating, watching superb sunsets? A game of Jenga is the order of the day with our own Ellie the expert, resident owner and company who care to play. Another round of Fijian 8-year old rum will do that to you!

Fiji – Frontliner’s Conference. Part One

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Photo courtesy of Fiji Airways.

With Fiji Airways showing off their new uniforms and livery, we’re off to Fiji for the Frontliner’s Conference to learn more about the products, services and facilities on offer to share with our clients. And some site inspections …

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Right now can’t think of a better place to go.

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Room with a view alright!

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Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa is located on beautiful Denarau Island. This five star Fiji resort overlooks the beachfront, adjacent to the world class Denarau Golf and Racquet Club.

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And what better way to start a conference, mingling and networking at the Radisson Blu with Ellie, Karen, Liz and Julie.

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Relaxing at the Radisson. It doesn’t matter which property you stay at, the sunsets are amazingly spectacular.

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What a treat, we’ve had the pleasure of listening to the local school children’s choir at a mock footy game between Australia and New Zealand. Put this on your ‘to do list’ as the harmonies are like no other.

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Whilst staying on Denarau Island, the Bula Bus will take you around on a circuit for as little as FJD8.00 per day.

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Time to split. Here with my group of specialists in various fields of travel along with our leader Carlah from Fiji Tourism, we’re heading off to Taveuni Island, third largest island of Fiji. Pilot Sam is at the ‘wheel’ of Island Hoppers regular service.

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Although the island technically observes one standard timing convention, there is a marker and sign that observes the official location of the International Date Line, where visitors can straddle time by firmly setting one foot in today while the stands in the past.
the 180 degree line in Fiji is also the international date line. With a single eastward step here on Taveuni island we can leap 24 hours back into yesterday. Stepping back across the line literally brings you back to the future … For a New Years party, this would be the place to be and has been added to be “must do’ list.

Stay tuned for Part Two.

London to Sydney – Homeward Bound

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Make no mistake about London – it’s quirky, fun and a city I love. At Trafalgar Square I have no idea why there’s a blue rooster here, but thought it was quite intriguing.

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The Royal Horse Guards with rider-less bikes in the foreground.

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St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

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On my way to meet up with friends for lunch and a few bevvies.

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At Fleet Street, London. The literary figures Oliver Goldsmith, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton and Dr. Johnson are all said to have been ‘regulars’.

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At the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese with author/writer Vitali Vitaliev (left), who is another train enthusiast and we chatted later about further rail journeys in 2015. At right is Alexander Boot, one of my favourite bloggers who ‘tells it as he sees it’. Check out his post relating to Sydney’s recent terrorist activity. http://alexanderboot.com/content/sydney-could-come-london-says-dave
I know I’m heading home to a country which has never experienced this type of action before.

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Some things never change, just like I can never pick navy-blue stockings for being black (until it’s too late), I am at times a nervous traveller particularly with long-haul flights. Trying to relax before the arduous flight home with Qantas Airways. Twenty-two hours from gate to gate … Transit time in Dubai is less than two hours which makes QF one of the best airlines to travel with. Three months away will seem like a dream when I return to Down Under.

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Not to be disappointed with the Qantas crew going home, they were fantastic and really embraced the spirit of Christmas. Big thanks to Jean-Luc from London to Dubai and Anne and the team from Dubai to Sydney who made the journey home comfortable and bearable.

From Monaco onto the World Travel Market in London

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What better way to go out of Monaco to Nice than by Heli Air Monaco? In Monaco there’s a complimentary Shuttle Service from your home to the heliport and return.
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The pilot just doing his job, but what a view? Hard day at the office …

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Heading into Nice Airport to land.

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Back in London for the World Travel Market.

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Onto the Heathrow Express for a quick ride into Paddington; had a sneak look at first class.
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Excel London – one of the largest exhibition spaces you’ll ever see! Need to change at Canning Town station.

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Rail Europe well represented to give expert advice on all European journeys by train with associated services and benefits.

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Lake Bled, on my hit list when I’m back in Europe soon after.

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Love meine Mutti country without doubt.

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Not sure who you are, but you’re hot!

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Keep up the great work, Big Bus Company!

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Only had one glass bubbly and think I’m seeing double. Wonderful to see Fiji Tourism so far from home.

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Duncan Webb, Chief Commercial Officer of the Onyx Hospitality Group discussing the Ozo hotel brand.

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Caught up with Vicki Holt from Visit Flanders.

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Oman Tourism, you do it so well.

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And there was all this to taste …