Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Zealand – Auckland and North Island

by Dani On our flight to Auckland, we have lost a full day, namely the 30/12/2014, as we flew over the international date line. We started on 29/12/2014 in Rarotonga and landed in the morning in Auckland on 31/12/2014 at about 2.00 am. We both have never experienced losing one full day. Very funny! Now, our real honeymoon was about to start... We initially had a few problems since we got our rental car only after a call from the manager of our apartment hotel. We had forgotten to take into account the time difference, so we ordered the car too early and could not pick it up in time. We had a great time in Auckland! Auckland is a beautiful city with beautiful residential neighbourhoods and a beautiful city center, where you will find many skyscrapers next to very old buildings. They are situated around a pedestrian walk to the Skytower, which is the main attraction of the city. The Skytower is 198 m high and has apart from several viewing platforms a restaurant with a beautiful view over the city and which slowly rotates 360 degrees. You can make a kind of bungee jump off the Skytower, which is slightly cushioned and therefore not a real free fall. And you can also make the "Skywalk"with a guide in 192 m height where you walk on a grid path that leads around the tower, but which has no railing and you are only secured by two ropes and where you can perform a few nerve-wracking (if one is notafraid of heights) tasks - what we have done, of course :-), but more on that later ...! At the harbour there are many restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail overlooking the opposite peninsulas. The New Year's Eve, we spent at the harbour in a bar outside looking at the Skytower, which was colorfully lit and from which later the fireworks was started. Hundreds of people were standing in the warm night on the road, waiting for the new year. We were standing with a bottle of Prosecco in the crowd and looked at the Skytower, where the minutes were displayed. The last 10 seconds were counted aloud by all people, it was a breathtaking atmosphere ... and then it was 2015, yeahhh! We were very happy! This was our first New Year's Eve as a married couple and on our journey around the world in an exciting city! Later we landed in a salsa bar and danced salsa and bachata the whole evening before we eventually headed back to the hotel and fell exhausted into bed. The next day we walked through the city and did the Skywalk. It was a little exciting, to be secured in 192 m height only by a rope and to stand outside and to look down to the city. The tasks that we had to deal with, began with pushing the toes over the edge of the path and looking down and ended with hanging ourselves with our full weight into the rope and over the edge, so that we practically hung free over the city, which was a scary feeling. We had a lot of fun and excitement! In the afternoon we drove with our car to the opposite peninsula to Devonport, which is a nice place from where we had a fabulous view of the sunset and the skyline of Auckland. The next day we started our small 3-day road trip. It should lead us on the Coromandel Peninsula, passing Bay of Plenty, towards Lake Taupo and down to Wellington where we supposed to be arrived on Monday. We had not booked any accommodation as we did not know where we wanted to stay and thought we would certainly find a B & B or any similar. So we drove off in a good mood and saw many beautiful places and beaches on our first day. The scenery and beaches were very different from the beautiful beaches of the South Seas. The beaches here reminded us more of beaches in the south of England or France. The sea was much colder, as well as the entire climate. But it was still very nice, we only had to get used to it again. In the evening we landed on the east coast in a small place called Hahei. As we slowly became too hungry and were tired, we decided to look for accommodation here. But the only things we saw were signs with "no vacancy". Huh, we had not expected to face such difficulties. We went from street to street, from one B&B to another, but did not found anything. Eventually we just ignored the sign and asked in a B&B for a room. The elderly lady laughed at us and said that we were here in the high holiday season and that they already had reservations for 2016! Whaaat?? Ok, we tried not to become discouraged and called all possible hostels and B&Bs in our guide, even these which were 100 km away, but we heard only "sorry, fully booked". Also online there was no accommodation so far. Now, we had become discouraged and the atmosphere was at the lowest point. Apparently, we had only the option to sleep in the car because we were too tired to continue driving. We decided to eat something first and then to search for a place somewhere where we could stay with the car overnight. After the meal, we were standing undecisively before our small car and looked on the bulletin board behind us. Suddenly, I saw a notice in which a house was for rent. I asked Michael to call and ask, whether they might rented us only a room - and finally, we were LUCKY!!! In the house there was a flat that we could have. We were incredibly relieved! We immediately left and found a very nice house where we definitely wanted to stay. We were so happy and grateful. Lorne and Carroll, the owner of the house had never rented before only the single apartment, but made an exception for us because they had been as a young couple in a similar situation. They invited us even to a glass of wine and we had a lovely evening with them. Lorne also arranged on the same evening a boat tour for us for the next morning. We were infinitely happy and relieved!! The next day we took the Hahei Explorer, a small boat along the coast and watched the caves, found numerous there. Then we went to Hot Water Beach, a beach, which is crossed by underground hot springs, and where you can sit at some places in boiling water if you dig a hole. Therefore, all the people were armed with spades and there was a small battle for hot spots, because you can build a small pool in the sand when you find the hot water and mix it with the cold sea water. Unfortunately, we found no more free place and just laid down on the beach. Later we went to another attraction, the Cathedral Cove, a huge rock that contains a cave or tunnel that connects two small beautiful beaches with each other. Until there, you have to walk for 45 minutes but the scenery is beautiful, so well worth to do the walk. The water was icy cold, but I finally managed to give it a try and survived 🙂 ! We stayed another night in Hahei and spent a fun evening with Lorne, Carol and her neighbours in the pleasant open-air restaurant and with "live" music which later turned out as a simple DJ. The next morning we drove to Bay of Plenty, a stretch of coast further south with miles of beaches. It was beautiful there, the beach did not seem to end. Out of sheer joy I hopped along the beach. But suddenly I felt a sharp pain in the left calf and could no longer stand on this leg. Damn, leg dragged!! And this now one day before our trip was supposed to start, where we would have to do some walks. I laid my leg half an hour into the icy sea, which helped a little. But the rest of the trip was painful and I could not replace Michael with driving first. We drove to Rotorua where we went to the Thermal Wonderland, a nature park where you could see geysers, bubbling craters and boiling mud pools. This is unique in New Zealand and it was a great experience. It smelled horribly of sulfur and rotten eggs, but it was breathtaking. The crater contained red, yellow, green, and blue liquids and toxic deposits (sulfur, manganese, iron, arsenic etc.) and bubbling boiling hot water. After that we drove to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. Taupo is a cute little town with lots of cafes and bars right next to the lake. We ate dinner there and saw one of the most beautiful sunset we had seen so far on our trip. Slowly it became dark and we still had about 300 km to go to Palmerston North where we wanted to stay in a motel. New Zealand is a country of curves and country roads, so the ride was very uncomfortable and the two of us were sick. For hours we did not encounter any car and the ride did not seem to end. Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun, singing loud and talked about funny things 😉 ! At about 11.30 pm we finally arrived in Palmerston North and in our motel. Actually, it was a shame that we could only stay here for one night. The city was very nice, even in the dark. After searching for minutes we finally found the key to our room and fell exhausted into bed. The next morning we drove in two hours to Wellington. We also had time to unload our luggage at Nomads Backpacker Hostel, where our tour should start before we dropped off our rental car. Dutifully, we reported the damaged wheel cover (such a stupid curb edge had jumped into my way, I could not do anything), but we had not to pay anything, "no worries", we were told. Just very relaxed the Kiwis (as New Zealanders call themselves), that's so great! We took the bus back into town and checked in to the hostel. We landed in a "super awesome good times hostel" with "super friendly people" and "super cool kids at the reception" as everywhere written on the welcome leaves. The whole place was crowded with young travelers, there was a large communal kitchen, a communal TV lounge and communal bedrooms (dorms) and bathrooms. Ok, now we were arrived at the backpacker level! Again a new experience ... However, we were still unpleasantly surprised when we heard that we were in different rooms, Michael in the men's dorm, and me in the women's dorm. That was probably a joke?! No, it was not, we were assured, as this was planned on the entire tour. Pardon?? For this, we definitely had to find a solution. For this night we paid our first surcharge and "splurged" us a double room. So far, so good! I marched into the city in the afternoon and wandered alone through the shops, while Michael was resting. In the evening we went to our first meeting with the tour group in the bar next door. We were very excited to see who and what to expect. We found a quite large group of 20 people with an average age of 25 years, some even much younger and only a few in our age. The music in the bar was very loud, so we barely understood anything, the atmosphere was a big party with much alcohol and we suddenly felt very old somehow. We were not very interested in a party trip. Well, we had to wait and see. We asked Rebecca, our tour guide, to try to arrange, if possible, double rooms for us or possibly shared rooms with the other pair, Krista and Saku from Finland. Rebecca promised to take care of it, even if it was actually not planned for this trip. She said that we should have been informed about it by our travel agent what not had happened. Later, we got to know Krista and Saku, the only other couple in the group, ate something, and finally went to bed. We were very excited about the trip and hoped that our first impression would turn out to be wrong! Pictures coming soon ...

Cook Islands – Aitutaki

by Dani Aitutaki began with a very bumpy flight in a small propeller plane. I still do not like to fly, but I'm not as nervous as a few months ago. While landing, we had a beautiful view over a wonderful lagoon with turquoise water and many small islands! Wow! At the tiny airport we were picked up by Miles, our host, and traditionally greeted with beautiful floral wreaths (it is called neck-ei). They are made from the flowers Frangipani (Tipiani) and are mixed in the colors white, yellow, pink and yellow/pink. They smell wonderful and stay fresh very long. Miles took us first to a scooter rental, where we immediately rented a scooter which I drove following the car - here, of course, again without a helmet. When we got to our bungalow, we could not believe it - what a wonderful place! And the view from our terrace was spectacular. Our bungalow was standing at the end of a row of only three bungalows right on the beach, so everything was very quiet, relaxing and private. To the water it was 20 meters. The bungalow was beautifully decorated and we looked both from the bed, and from the terrace on the white beach, which was surrounded by palm trees and a crystal clear turquoise lagoon. In front of our bungalow stood on the beach two sunchairs for us, inviting us to relax. THAT was now paradise!!! Everything was just perfect: the bungalow, the quiet, the beach, the sea, the weather - everything!! We were very happy! After a short briefing by Miles in all facilities - we had a washing machine, which was like a gift for us after doing our laundry by hand for weeks - we went to the Christmas Market in the town (from the size rather comparable with a village). While observing the whole scenery, we sat on the grass and ate a delicious dish with prawns in coconut milk. We were looking for our wedding plannerin Tania, because she was supposed to be Santa Claus' helper, but since we do not know her yet, we did not find her. Later it turned out that she was standing directly behind us, I photographed her by accident when I just shot a few pictures of the crowd. We met again a couple that we had met already at the airport in Tahiti on our flight to Rarotonga and we had them given a few coins (sorry if you are reading this now, then please do not be angry, but we have forgotten your names ... it is just too many people in too little time, sorry). They told us about their first experiences on the island and we talked for a long time before we went to the supermarket to buy the most important food. On Aitutaki there is no real supermarket, but some small shops selling food and household items. However, each store offers other things, so you have to go to several stores to finally get everything you need. Everything here is very expensive because everything has to be imported. Therefore, you pay e. g. for a watermelon 15 NZD (about 10 Euros). On Tuesday morning we had breakfast in glorious sunshine on the terrace overlooking the sea. Tania contacted us by email asking if we wanted to do the lagoon cruise in the 70 square kilometers wide lagoon today, as we would otherwise have no chance because of the Christmas holidays. Around 9 am Tania was suddenly standing in front of us and welcomed us warmly with a hug and a kiss, as if we were old friends which we liked very much. She told us that we would be picked up at 10.30 am and proposed a meeting to discuss the wedding preparations at 6 pm at our place. Tania is very young, about 21 years old, and a very funny, helpful and very lovely person. We liked her at first sight. The lagoon cruise was incredibly beautiful. We were picked up by the wife of the new owner of the former Samade on the beach and went to the beach where we got overwhelmed by the view over the lagoon. We faced a stunning, huge lagoon with turquoise crystal clear shimmering water inviting for swimming. With a large boat and a few other tourists we drove about an hour to the first small island where we were dropped for a short time to take pictures. The islands are mostly privately owned, but are for tourists - only by boat - accessible. On this island, there were a few small bungalows that were supposed to be rented to tourists, including a bungalow of the Queen of the Cook Islands which she also offers to rent. So, everyone has the opportunity to spend one night on a deserted island, great! We took countless photos of the crystal-clear water, white beach and palm trees. It was just too beautiful!! This was just as we had always expected the South Seas and we were just happy to experience real beach feeling for a second time after Bora Bora! It was wonderful!! Then we drove to a spot in the lagoon where we swam for about an hour with some very large fish and snorkeled. However, the snorkeling tour on the lagoon cruise in Bora Bora was much better, since we had there seen a lot more fish. But this was topped shortly thereafter when we were dropped on a sandbar called "Heaven" directly in front of Onefoot Island, on which we also got married later (we have already reported about our wedding), and walked from there through the waist-high crystal clear water on the soft sandy bottom to Onefoot Island. The view from Heaven was breathtaking. Around us, fine sand, turquoise water and small islands were only to be seen. It was a dream and by far the nicest place we've ever stayed on so far! Once on Onefoot Island, we were overwhelmed again. This small island was beautiful and was exactly what you would expect from a South Seas island. We were very much looking forward to getting married here. After a great lunch with salads, grilled fish and meat and fresh fruit that had been prepared for us by the crew, we took countless pictures of beach, ocean and palm trees and were swimming in the crystal clear water, which, however, was quite cold (compared to Bora Bora, but compared to New Zealand, it was again really hot). After the cruise we spent the rest of the day at our own beach until 6 pm when Tania arrived. We were very excited to see what she would tell us of the scheduled ceremony. First, I chose, of course in the absence of Michael, my flowers for the bridal bouquet and hair accessories. Michael would get a matching flower neck-ei. Then we were told of any details of the ceremony, what the Celebrant would say, and what was foreseen for us as marriage vows. A marriage ceremony includes here the beautiful tradition (as in many other English speaking countries), that each one swear a marriage vowe, which is usually written by the groom and the bride themselves. Tania proposed a ready draft to us, but we told her that we wanted to write them ourselves, what we were going to do in the next few days. After everything else had also been fixed, Tania gave us a few tips on where in the evening on the island we could go out a little. We spent the evening relaxing on the terrace of our bungalow. The next day (Wednesday) was the 24th December and thus Christmas. We had all the time not really been in Christmas mood, which did not changed today at 30 degrees and bright sunshine, and to be honest we were not very sad about that. We found it rather very pleasant not to have to expose ourselves to the whole Christmas stress, but simply to be able to relax in glorious summer weather. After a relaxing day on the beach in front of our bungalow, we celebrated a little Christmas Eve. First we went to Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa for booking our wedding dinner. We were shown to a small cozy peninsula and the different ways there to have dinner which ranged from an open pavilion to a small bungalow (Gazebo called) right on the water. We opted for the pavilion, but on our wedding day they changed to the Gazebo because of the bad weather, which was much better in the end. After having chosen our location, we drank at the pool bar a cocktail to toast on Christmas. After that we drove a few meters further down to the Aitutaki Village Restaurant (formerly Samade on the beach), where we also sat nearby the water and had a great dinner. We were in a good mood, had a nice chat with our table neighbours and spent a very nice evening there. The staff were all smiling and wearing funny Christmas hairdress (headband with horns of a moose - by the way, such things had been also worne by the official staff in the Justice Department, people are just a bit more relaxed here than at home). Afterwards we drove to the Game Fishing Club, the local disco/bar on the island, which is located on the harbor in the city. It was very nice there, there was a lot of local music played and everyone was dancing. Local dance style looks pretty good, especially shaking the hips in that special way how women of all ages do here, which even me, I could not take my eyes off. People were mixed and of different ages, but they all had the same fun, just beautiful to see. The next morning we wanted to go to church because it was Christmas day. Just at the time of departure, it began to rain heavily. Anyway, we sat down with our rain jackets on the scooter and drove about 20 minutes to church in town. We were still dripping wet when we arrived, but at least the rain was warm 🙂 ! The church was filled slowly, but there were also some tourists and our travel couple there. The church service began with singing very loud Happy Birthday Jesus Christ. What a nice idea!! The whole service was great and lasted almost 3 hours. After a lengthy sermon primarily hold in Maori, the five different villages of the island, each represented by a local pastor and a part of the community, started singing loudly their songs, some of them were swinging in the rhythm and some even got up and danced. The atmosphere was just fantastic! After the service we had a chat with the other tourists outside and then a local couple just gave each of us a few fresh mangos. People here are incredibly nice and generous. We experienced it ourselves later on the beach that local people who we do not know and who sat with their families on the beach and celebrated Christmas, invited us to eat with them. Also, our travel couple told us that they had previously been invited to a wedding and had spent a great evening there, though they did not know anyone. It seems that you will be added here very quickly to the community and everyone talks to you without any concerns or reservations. This openness, hospitality and generosity has impressed us deeply. Something we've never seen before. Hopefully we can keep some of this spirit for us. After church we went to the local water tap, which consists of a huge circular water tank and a sink with two taps, in order to fill up drinkable, bottled filtered water in our bottles. So we were able to save at least the purchase of water. Everything else was already expensive enough. We also could take a few mangos from the road because everywhere mango trees standing on the streets and the mangos simply lay in the grass underneath. In the afternoon I took then finally my wedding dress out of my vacuum travel bag that had been "shrunked" by vacuuming to a minimum size. So, the dress now looked like a nightmare, is was covered with crimples all over. Oh my God, how could I get that without any dry cleaning shop around the island out of my dress in only two days? I decided to first hang it up for a while, so I hung it behind another dress on the hanger and then rolled the curtain over it so that Michael could not see it. The next two days it was very early very bright in our room, but finally the wedding dress was more important and a closed closet was not there. After the next shower I hung it in the shower, unfortunately without success! We spent the evening relaxing on the terrace and unexpectedly got a new roommate, namely a small cat who never left the next two days of our site until it left us again on the third day. The next day, boxing day, we were just laying on the beach and started in the afternoon for a ride around the island. The first stop we made, was at Hotel Pacific Resort and Spa, because I wanted to book a pedicure there. The resort was beautiful and we reserved a table for our last evening on Sunday. We were allowed to go on the beach of the resort and so, we immediately jumped into the sea. But when we wanted to continue our tour, we realized that we had left the key in the seat of the scooter, which contains a small box. The seat could of course only be opened with the key. Crap! Michael went to reception and could fortunately reach the owner of the rental shop who wanted to send someone over. We were quite annoyed, because we thought that we certainly had to wait two or three hours. So, we were quite surprised when, after a quarter of an hour someone stood before us - with our keys in hand. He had already managed everything, he said. Yay, so we could go on! How wonderfully uncomplicated they all were! We had heard that here at Christmas and New Year's Eve one of the villages makes a dance performance and thus they go from village to village on the island, of course, accompanied by a band, singing and lots of food. With these performances the village gathers in any other village money to use for investment in their own village. Since we did not know where the group was, we simply drove off ... and were lucky and caught the group in the last village and were able to follow everything. It was fantastic. Small, large, young and old, men and women danced in the group and a large band accompanied with local songs. The women, even the little girls, swinging their hips and were dressed up with the beautiful flower neck-eis. It was so moving that I got goose bumps. Again, we met our tour couple who've been the whole day already with the group. The event ended with us standing in the crowd around the buffet, which was built there. After initial hesitation, we got food and were served with drinks from a local woman. Within ten minutes the whole buffet was empty and the food orgy ended. To be honest, you can see a little bit that food is one of the local's priority. Then we drove around the island and discovered beautiful little villages, deserted roads and a great lookout on the mountain of the island, from where we could enjoy the view over the huge lagoon. In the evening I started then to iron or steam my dress with the small steam iron. First I ironed the underdress, fortunately with a cloth underneath, because the iron rubbed off black. Oh my God, lucky again. Then I hung the dress on the bathroom door and tried to steam it with the small steam function of the iron. This painstaking work took me two hours and a lot of nerves. But the result was well worth seeing! Then we went again to the Game Fishing Club, because we had heard at the dance event from someone that there should be live music this evening, what we did not want to miss. Although it was not the great music that we expected, we still had fun. When Michael was about to buy a new beer, suddenly a man who was sitting next to us, offered him a full bottle of beer - just like that. We were once again astonished! Later we met the people again who had gave us the tip in the afternoon, and were asked to dance with them and sit at their table, where we had very nice chat with them. At around 11 pm we went back home. Finally, the next day was our wedding! The Sunday after our wonderful wedding, which we have previously reported, we spent sitting in the rain on our terrace, slowly packing our bags and remembering our wedding. It was passed much too quickly and we could not really realise that we were now married and we had such a fabulous wedding. In the afternoon we drove to Tania's place to pay the wedding. That was definitely the unromantic part, but we still had a funny conversation with Tania, who told us a bit more of island life and her family. In the end, we left with plenty of water bottles, as we before only briefly mentioned that we wanted to go to the water tank. Wow! In the evening we went to the Pacific Resort and treated ourselves to a seafood platter, but it did not taste good and we already noticed at dinner that the quality was not very good. The next morning we both felt very sick and we had to take some pills. It was awful! Fortunately, Annie, Tania's mother promised to take over the paperwork with our marriage certificate in Rarotonga and give it to us at the airport. But even worse was the fact that we had to wait until 9.45 pm in Rarotonga for our flight to Auckland. Miles took us first to the scooter rental service to deliver the scooter, and then to the airport and said goodbye to us there. The airport is so small and everyone knows everybody, so we did not even have to show our documents at check in, but immediately got our boarding pass. They probably knew that we stayed with Miles, and because they knew him, they might also knew us ... or something like that?! Tania came also to the airport and brought us a small gift and a printed version of the text of our wedding. We met Potini at the airport, too, and he gave us a DVD with 50 pictures of our wedding. The rest he promised to send it by mail to our home. The flight back to Raro was terrible. One turbulence after the other shook the small plane and I had to grab a couple of times in the direction of the "white bag", but fortunately I had not to use it. When we arrived in Raro, we were now so sleepy from the pills and still felt so sick that we did not see Annie standing right next to us. But she saw us and waved to us. She and her husband told us that they would not get the apostille, since the office was closed. But suddenly Annie's husband met a friend who offered to help. A few minutes later, Annie's husband was off with this man to get the apostille. In the meantime, we loaded our luggage off at Annie's husband's place and then spent the whole day in a backpacker hostel, which was opposite the airport. It was a terrible day as the only thing we needed was some sleep, but was impossible at this place. So we tried just to survive the day until we could call Annie to pick us up. In the car, Annie's husband gave us the certificate with apostille. Yeah! We were very happy and could finally do the check-in. Then, we only had to wait a couple of hours until we could board our plane. It was done! Unfortunately we had now to say goodbye to the beautiful South Seas. We spent four weeks in the South Seas, whereas Aitutaki was the absolute highlight for us and we would love to fly again to this beautiful island! In general, the Cook Islands were the most beautiful South Sea islands to us, not only because of the stunning scenery, but mainly because of the incredibly hospitable, good-humored and friendly people there. The Polynesians had been very nice, but the people of the Cook Islands have just made us speechless! There is a quote I have seen in Tania's office on the wall that I'm not getting out of my head and which really describes the way of life there: "Live every moment, laugh every day, love beyond words"! WE LOVE THE COOKS!! Pics will follow soon ...

Cook Islands – Rarotonga

by Dani On 18th December 2014 we arrived in Rarotonga. We were very sad to leave Bora Bora, but also looking forward to the new destination. In addition, it was raining in Tahiti when we board the little plane, so it could only get better. After two and a half hour flight we finally arrived. Already on the landing we saw that the island was surrounded of long beaches and a reef, so that there was a chance to enjoy long beaches again. We were picked up by a nice driver, unfortunately we did not understand anything of him, neither his name nor what he was telling since we now had to get used again to a new English accent. On the way to our accommodation we got a first impression of the island, which was quite different from Bora Bora, aside from that it was much larger than Bora Bora. There was a real town with some shops, the properties and houses were well kept, there were churches of many different religions at each corner, the traffic drove on the left side, the scooter drivers and motorcyclists were not wearing helmets, there was an island bus, which drove in two directions (clockwise, anti-clockwise) and always stopped at the place which was told to the driver when boarding, there were everywhere bars, cafes and restaurants ... in short, Rarotonga is much more developed than Bora Bora, but of course a little more hectic than Bora Bora. Bora Bora offered more "island feeling" because everything was simple and original, and there was not very much. Here we had a lot more options what raised the stress level a little bit. Anyway, we had again get used to only a bit of traffic and the many beautiful sounds - especially the insanely loud sound of breaking waves in front of our bungalow. Our bungalow at Tropical Sands was very pretty and here again lovingly decorated by the owners Kanoe and Rudy, both about in their early sixties and artists: Kanoe paints, makes mosaics and designs Maori symbols of wood, which were affixed at the bungalows. Rudy is a musician and plays in a band. Kanoé was born in Hawaii and grew up and stayed in the whole world. Rudy is of Rarotonga. Both are having, like almost everyone here, tattoos with pretty Maori symbols representing their life story. However, they were not as helpful as Annette and Marc. They told us just where on the island which was to be found, but then they said "do it yourself"! So we started walking in glorious sunshine, but very strong wind that never stopped during our stay on Rarotonga, to the next village, where a "night market" should take place, where we could eat national dishes. After three quarters of an hour we arrived and enjoyed fresh fish, a coconut and a cold beer and this time for the equivalent of about 20 euros. We could not believe how cheap it was here. On the way back we wanted to take the bus "anti-clockwise" back home, but found that this only operates to 4.30 pm and now it was 7 pm. Since we did not want to walk again, we had to take the "clockwise" bus, but it went around the entire island, which took one hour. But it was definitely more comfortable and we could see the entire island. The island was very nice, but we changed our plans and booked new flights to Aitutaki on Monday instead on Tuesday how it was planned before, because we wanted to spend more time there. The next morning we took the bus and all the papers to the Justice Department in town to apply for our marriage license. We were a bit nervous whether it would work, but since we were well prepared, everything worked out very well and it was said that we could pick up our license on Monday at 10 am. Yeah! The first step was taken towards the wedding. Then we wandered around the town and started a crazy shopping tour when we found out that everything was much cheaper here. I bought two dresses and a lot of souvenirs that we sent the same day home by mail. Then again, we rented a scooter, which was done in five minutes: submitting international driver's license, credit card brandished, short briefing and then we had a scooter - without helmets of course. The nice lady just said that in the town the speed limit was at 30 km/h and on the highway only 50 km/h and therefore you would not need to wear a helmet ... ok, apparently, the streets here were made of rubber ... well let's go then! Again, it was actually normal for children and adults to sit on the back of the truck, and on the scooter the children were only tied with a sarong to the mother while being so happy to ride with their parents. Everything just seems a little more relaxed and not necessarily dangerous, as anyone speeded on the streets here, but all went very relaxed and quite considerate on the island. Somehow all people here were even more relaxed, cheerful and friendly than in French Polynesia, which also impressed us very much later in Aitutaki. In the afternoon we went around the island and watched out the most beautiful beaches on where we wanted to spend the weekend. We also discovered many nice restaurants and bars right on the beach. It was just great! In the evening we took the bus into town, ate baked swordfish with fries and aioli in the famous (on the island) Bar Trader Jack's and launched into a fun party night that began with cocktails and live music and exuberant dancing, and ended up in another bar/disco with another drinks and live music, and we just caught the last bus at 2.15 am. The next day we only cured Michael's hangover and went out for dinner to a very cozy beach restaurant. On Sunday I went to a church service at 10 am at a Christian/Baptist church, because I had been recommended to see it as it was supposed to be very nice, especially the great songs. To be honest, it was impressive and quite different from ours. The church was packed, everyone was dressed up, especially the women wore almost all hats with beautiful floral wreaths decorated. The greeting of the pastor began with the question "Are you alright?", which was answered by the whole crowd unanimously and loudly with "all the time" while a smile arised on their faces. Wow! The church was open during the whole service, and constantly adults and children came in and out and just spent a pleasant hour in the church. The children met friends and were laughing - and no one bothered fortunately! And the songs that were sung were just beautiful! The whole church sang all the songs with a lot of fun and in a volume, as I've never heard it in our churches. A few English songs I could, thanks to a video projector that projected the lyrics on the wall, even sing along. All other songs and worship were mostly sung or held in Cook Island-Maori. As the people left the church, everyone wanted the pastor again to shake hands or talk with him. It was just a warm relaxed atmosphere that was contagious. In a good mood, I returned to the bungalow and we then spent a day at the beach on the west coast. Monday morning we drove into town to be on time at the Justice Department. But we had to wait because the license was not ready yet. It still had a lack of clarity regarding a mistake in spelling to be eliminated, so that we finally got the license at 11.30 am, dropped off our scooter and took the bus back home to pack our bags as we had to catch the plane at 3.30 pm to Aitutaki. Despite an half-hour delay of taxi we succeeded to get the flight. And so we headed to the next destination - yeah!! Pics will follow soon...