Sydney, Australia!

Sydney, Australia - Designerella

G’day Mate from the land down under!  The city of Sydney, Australia hosted the summer Olympics in 2000.  But many of the icons of the city, including the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the world-famous Opera House, were familiar to us before the games. There are so many attractions from the amazing Sydney Zoo and the surf haven of Bondi Beach. The city stretches along the Sydney Harbor making water an important part of the city and water taxis are a great way to quickly to the next location.

Sydney, Australia - Designerella

Sydney, Australia - Designerella

One Australian adventure that is “a must” do is climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The structure is referred to as “the Coat Hanger” by locals. Unfortunately no cameras were allow for our safety and the safety of the cars on the bridge below us. As such the only picture is of the sign as you enter the building before you to climb to the top. Surprisingly despite the pouring rain and 80 mph wind gusts the climb was allowed to proceed, and it was the best experience of my life!  Wearing a special jumpsuit and being securely tied down climbers reach the top of the arch 440 feet above the harbor. Not only is there great views of the city, it is an amazing workout. It is an incredible experience that is highly recommend anyone who is not afraid of heights.

Sydney, Australia - Designerella

Sydney, Australia - Designerella

Toodle-oo (an Australian farewell) Sydney! Next time I come I need more time to explore all your adventures.

A Sail to Bay of Islands

Kia ora, a Māori greeting, from the beautiful Bay of Islands located on the north coast of New Zealand’s north island.  The Bay of Islands is the finest Maritime Park in New Zealand with 144 islands, secluded bays and superb marine life.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

Here the locals always provide a warm welcome whether they are greeting you with an attack pose or just view from “behind”.  The Bay of Islands is home to the Ngapuhi, New Zealand’s largest tribal Maori group.  The Maori have called the Bay of Islands home for a millennium and they provide an eco, spiritual, and educational experience for visitors. Visitors marvel the ancient customs, rituals and traditions of this fascinating Polynesian culture.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

As one would expect at a location named Bay of Island there are many boats. Traditional and modern boats of all share this fabulous waterway. There is amazing natural beauty in this place with stunning green hills falling into the beautiful blue waters.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

Bay of Islands, New Zealand - Designerella

As my Māori friends would say, hei kona rā, or goodbye from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.

The City of Sails

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Hello from the “City of Sails”, also known as Auckland, New Zealand! As one would expect from an island nation, sailing is a huge part of the culture here in New Zealand and the city of Auckland has more ships per person than any city in the world. The city sits between twin harbors–Waitemata on the Pacific (east) side and Manukau on the Tasman sea (west) side.

Auckland is home to the tallest freestanding structure in the southern hemisphere, aptly named the Sky Tower. This structure dominates the city skyline at 1,076 feet tall. And where there is a tower, I will climb it! Well in this case climb might not be the correct word as thankfully there is an elevator, or lift as they are called here, that brings you to one of the three observation decks. The lowest of these is 610 feet above street level and it has a glass floor letting you watch the people and cars, which look like ants at this height, scurry below. At 636 feet above street level there is a nice restaurant which revolves providing excellent views. The highest public access is the Sky Deck located 722 feet high. It provides excellent 360 degree views of the city and nearby Hauraki Gulf.

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

For some it may not be enough of an adventure to be 600+ feet above the ground. If you are one of those people then there is the Sky Jump which allows you to jump from the tower and reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour during the 16 seconds it takes you to reach street level. One word of caution for potential jumpers, do not miss the seemingly too small target below.

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland is a major cosmopolitan city. One of the architectural treasures in the city is the Auckland Town Hall. This unusual wedge-shaped building was one of the icon in the city until the Sky Tower was completed in 1997.

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

Auckland, New Zealand - Designerella

This amazing gem has a very friendly and welcoming population. The modern city of Auckland is a a place I will always remember.

Samoa – “A Place in my Heart”

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Have you ever watched a travel movie or even read a story about some heart-warming and spiritual connection at some far away locale? While I have visited many fabulous places, it is Apia, Samoa that provided such an experience. The island is a little speck of land located in the southern Pacific Ocean and has an amazing offering of very distinct and different environments from which to explore.

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

The environment is magnificent, but it is the warmth and happiness seen the people here that provides the spiritual connection. Locals are kind and generous people that follow the Fa’a Samoa, or the Samoan way. This involves respecting the matai, or chiefs, aiga, or extended family, and the church. It is the Christian church here that they follow and the motto of the country is “Samoa is founded on God”.

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

People of Samoa are amazing in their openness. One special person I met, and I felt like I known her forever, is a Samoa native Beatrice. She introduced me to some more fabulous people. The children in the villages are so happy and energetic to be around. Their excitement is contagious and helps you not only explore the island but yourself.

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

The people here are so colorful and maybe it is because they are competing with the natural beauty. Flowers are found in every beautiful tropical color.

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

Apia, Samoa - Designerella

There are no words to describe my experience here in Samoa.  The people are beautiful and honest and I achieved an amazing spiritual connection. I look forward to when I can return to this magnificent island to spend some time with my friends and experience more of Samoa.

Where did the day go?

International Date Line - Designerella

Ever have one of those days at work where you wonder where the day went? In the middle of the Pacific Ocean you can have one of those days and have an excuse for it. The reason–the international date line. So I have a valid excuse for not recalling the day February 13, 2013 as it never happened for me. Not only that, I had the experience of crossing below the equator, so I had my first experience in the southern hemisphere. Combined, I started yesterday in the Northern and Western hemispheres and ended today in the Southern and Eastern hemispheres.

So the day that was lost is the 13th making today February 14th, Saint Valentine’s Day and the first anniversary of the Designerella blog!  While the view may not be as dramatic as some of the other locals, the beautiful blue sea is what I see most days. To all my friends, family and loyal blog followers, I hope you have a fabulous Valentines Day and are sharing this special day with your loved ones.  Happy Valentines Day!

Lots of love,
Designerella

Hilo, Hawaii!

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Located on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, the port of Hilo is a gateway to explore a land of fire and brimstone, great waves, jaw-dropping waterfalls, lush rainforest and craggy coastlines.  The natural beauty of Hawaii is just remarkable.

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Akaka Falls is twice the height of world-famous Niagara Falls located at the border of New York and Ontario, Canada.  With a straight fall of 442 feet you can hear the thundering sounds of Akaka Falls as the water crashes into the pool below.  It is also not uncommon to see beautiful rainbows as the sun strikes the misty water spray.

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

While not native to Hawaii, peacocks are found on several of the islands including the big island and Maui. Typically shy creatures there are some areas where they have become accustom to people. Some will even show their beautiful plumage to the delight of visitors.

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

Hilo, Hawaii - Designerella

The Big Island of Hawai’i with its beautiful flowers and natural surroundings provides many adventures. There always seems to be much more to see on this Pacific paradise.

Aloha!

Kahalui, Hawaii - Designerella

Aloha from the island of Maui–the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands.  Maui is everything you can imagine about Hawaii, from its palm-edged white powder sand beaches to the lush tropical rainforest. Kahului is a town on the north side of the island and is an excellent starting point to further explore the island. However the town has nice beaches, which are also an excellent experience here in Hawaii.

Kahalui, Hawaii - Designerella

While some decide to relax on the beach and soak up some of the Hawaiian sun, others use the steady winds for extreme sport. The city of Kahului is known as one of the windiest in the United States which draws people here to try kite-surfing. In this offshoot of the native Hawaiian sport of surfing, a person uses a kite to gather the power of the wind in an attempt build speed for aerial jumps while balancing on a surfboard like apparatus.

Kahalui, Hawaii - Designerella

Kahalui, Hawaii - Designerella

Aloha from the great state of Hawaii!

San Francisco City Highlights!

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco is everybody’s favorite City. From the view of the Golden Gate Bridge it is not difficult to see why.  Located in the beautiful region of Northern California on the Pacific Coast, its hilly streets give striking glimpse of the bay and the famous bridges.

Here are some captures of San Francisco unique neighborhoods, a drive over the world famous Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks spectacular views of the city known as ‘the Jewel of the West’, the infamous and notorious former federal prison Alcatraz, and Pier 39 where you can experience the life of the sea lions.  There is so much to see in this magnificent city and whatever you choose to explore in San Francisco, one thing’s certain you’ll want to come back!

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

San Francisco, California - Designerella

Mexico!

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

¡Hola! from Huatulco, Mexico. What better way to celebrate being in Mexico than attending a Mexican Fiesta Folkloric show? The colorful costumes of the dancers dancing to the  rhythmic Mexican beats from the band La Bamba. Following the rhythmic beats of the tamboras, the dancers twirl and flaunt their colorful skirts.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, located on the Pacific coast in south Mexico, is a tourist destination because of the great beaches, fabulous resorts and beautiful blue waters. The region typically has 330 sunny days a year and its dry season corresponds to the cold winter months in the United States and Canada. People looking to escape those cold, gray days can find relief here under the warm Mexican sun.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Before the tourist flocked here, the only flocks were the sheep. Today wool is still gathered, processed, spun and woven using traditional methods. Even the dyes are applied in a traditional way by grinding natural materials.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Unlike many resort towns, this is actually a place where locals live. Walking around town you see the locals going about their daily activities. But you will also see many things, like sombreros, that remind you of Mexico.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

¡Chau!

The Panama Canal!

Hello from the Canal de Panamá (Spanish)!  The Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the country of Panama is one of the world’s busiest shipping canals. It drastically shorts the trip for ships no longer have to navigate the long and treacherous route around the southernmost tip of South America. The construction of the canal across the isthmus of Panama was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.  Amazingly, the construction took only 10 years. In 2014 the canal will celebrate its 100 year in operation, and construction on expansion of the canal system is being done in conjunction with the celebration.

The transit through the Panama Canal requires a full day. It is quite remarkable to see these large ships navigating the narrow stretches of the canal and smaller tug boats weaving around and between them. Below are a few highlights of passing Gamboa, arriving and the clearing the Pedro Miguel Locks.

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

The Centennial Bridge, opened in 2004, connects North and South America through the Pan-American Highway. It is one of two bridges that connect the two continents.

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

To shorten the length needed to be dug, the canal passes through the Gatun Lake. However the lake is 85 feet above sea level, so a series of locks were needed to raise the ship from sea level to this elevation and then back down. Each lock holds nearly 9-million cubic feet of water, or about 65,800,000 gallons.  It is estimated that the amount of water consumed in the operation of the Panama Canal in one day would keep the city of Boston supplied for 2 weeks.  Amazingly no pumps are used in filling the lock chambers.  The principle action involved is simply that water seeks the lowest point. The lock gates at each end of the chambers are steel structures 65 feet wide 7 feet thick which carry in height from 47 to 82 feet and weigh between 390 and 730 tons. The illustration below shows how the locks are essential to the process.

Panama Canal Illustration - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Onward to the Pacific!