Wellington: botanical gardens & coastal views

Since breakfast was good the day before, we returned to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen. Eric got scrambled eggs on toast and I got a flat white with an order of beignets and the breakfast burrito. Service was pretty slow as I finished my first coffee way before the beignets came out and then they were somewhat burnt. Everything else was fine and as always, the people watching was great. Same waiter, very nice.

First stop of the day was the Wellington Botanical Gardens. Amazingly, we found a 120 minute parking spot right across from the rose garden. The garden is built on a hillside, so all the trails were rather vertical. Our favorite sections were the Japanese maples, rock garden, and swordtail fish in the main greenhouse lily pond area.

rose garden @ Wellington Botanic Gardens

Wellington Botanic Gardens

Wellington Botanic Gardens  Wellington Botanic Gardens

cable car @ Wellington Botanic Gardens

New Zealand parrot (KaKa)  Wellington Botanic Gardens

Afterwards we headed back to Lower Hutt for our retry on Percy Falls. This time we had no problem finding the trail from the parking area at the start of our hike, and we even had the falls to ourselves.

Percy Falls

At this point we headed back through Wellington to the Mount Victoria lookout. Gorgeous panoramic views of the whole area! From there we wound our way to Oriental Beach, then the entire way around the Miramar Peninsula enjoying the lovely scenery in Scorching Bay and Tarakena Bay in particular.

view from Mount Victoria Lookout

view from Mount Victoria Lookout

Evans Bay Parade

Wellington sign

Scorching Bay

Tarakena Bay

We had a couple hours before our late afternoon flight so we stopped in to the Spruce Goose on the west side of the airport for a late lunch before dropping the car off and getting a shuttle back to the airport. This is where we realized that local restaurants are using secondary labels for listing wines. The ‘Lake Hayes’ pinot gris from Otago was actually from Amisfield, one of our favorite wineries from the last trip!

We had a tiny plane for our flight to Nelson and it was the first time we can remember flying anywhere without passing through any security screening.  Our seats were in the very back of the plane but the 35 minute flight was fine with some nice views on our approach.

flying in to Nelson
on approach into Nelson

We picked up our bags in front of the airport off a cart and headed to the Main Parking area to find our rental car. An airport worker noticed we looked a bit lost so he helped us locate the car, gave us advice on what to do for the next week, and helped us with the automated machines to get the car out of the lot.

Finding the hotel was uneventful (thank goodness), so we checked-in and then headed to the grocery store to pick up breakfast supplies in preparation for our kayaking trip the next morning. Not terribly hungry after our big lunch, we stayed in and finished the cheese from C’Est Cheese and enjoyed a glass of one of the wines we purchased in Martinborough, an Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc.

San Sebastian: sights and beaches

Our first night in San Sebastian we spent avoiding drunk teenagers in the Old Town by walking across the bridge to the Gros district. Tasty food was found, along with peace and quiet and this view of the gorgeous sunset…

sunset in San Sebastian

sunset in San Sebastian

The next morning we spent walking along La Concha Beach to Peine del Viento, a lookout point with sculptures.

La Concha Beach

Bay of La Concha

Peine Del Viento

overlooking the Bay of Biscay

La Concha Beach

Between clothes shopping, sitting on the beach, and stuffing ourselves with small, tasty plates of food we found San Sebastian to be a delightful place to spend a few days.

Artzain Onaren katedrala  Iglesia de Santa María
Artzain Onaren Katedrala; Iglesia de Santa María

Bay of Biscay sunset
watching the sun set over the Bay of Biscay from Pasealeku Berria

Public Library
Public Library building

sculpture near Playa la Zurriola

Summer Euro 2013: Lanzarote sights, days II & III

On our second day on Lanzarote we headed along the west coast to El Golfo. First we stopped in town to find an ATM…

church in Playa Blanca

then continued along the side highway LZ-701 through the barren landscape…

Lanzarote landscape

Along the way we stopped for photos of the famous salt works, Salinas de Janubio.

salt flats

Salinas de Janubio

On the far side we stopped at a massive, and nearly empty, beach. Leandra braved the sand in her boot to look for interesting rocks and shells.

Salinas de Janubio


E + L Salinas de Janubio

The next stop was the dramatic and colorful coastline at Los Hervideros.

Los Hervideros

Los Hervideros

Just a few miles further we stopped near Montaña Bermeja for photos of the red hillside against the blue sky and dark grey ground.

red volcano

The beach was just across the street, and full of olivine. Also known as peridot, Leandra loves this semi-precious stone since it is her birthstone.


We continued up the coast into El Golfo, where we drove to the end of the town and found a parking spot to take a break from the car and get a bite to eat at Casa Luis. Leandra managed to order us two glasses of seco and a plate of pimientos de padrón in respectable Spanish.

El Golfo

clothesline in El Golfo
street side in El Golfo

on the road again...

For day three we decided to head along the east coast, taking in Fundación César Manrique first.

Cesar Manrique statue

Museo Al Campesino local flora

The monument is a commemoration of the island farmers, and the Museo Al Campesino has a few exhibits on island agriculture. It was very sleepy while we were there, but I imagine it can be busy when tour buses stop.

Museo Al Campesino
Museo Al Campesino

From there we braved the traffic in Arrecife to see the Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, beautifully situated on the harbor.

Arrecife harbor

Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo Castiillo de San José
the museum used to be a fort

Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo Castiillo de San José Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo Castiillo de San José
artwork inside and out

Summer Euro 2013: Lanzarote sights, day I

The landscape of Lanzarote is stark and dramatic, with volcanic rocks of all colors surrounding small pockets green vegetation. We were based in Playa Blanca so we mostly explored the southern and central sections of the island. On our first full day we drove up to La Geria, the famous wine making region.


La Geria vineyard
green = grape vines

The combination of bright sun and massive landscapes was both a challenge and a great opportunity for some dramatic photos. Some of the hills were especially colorful.


barren landscape
lone palm

After exploring the wine region we meandered up to Tinajo and La Santa.

farm plots!   picturesque town of La Santa

Tinajo town square


pink flowering bush  rusted out La Santa sign
these two photos are from the same location, just opposite sides of the road!

After La Santa we decided to turn around and start back south, taking a route through the volcano park including the Centro de Visitantes e Interpretación de Mancha Blanca.

Parque Natural Los Volcanes

and camels!

camel rides

we didn’t go for a ride

on the road in Lanzarote

cruise control

On our way back our hotel we drove through the mountains at Femes. On one side there was a pretty little white church, on the other a sweeping view of the southern end of the island.


church in Femes

being silly  Eric in Femes

coastline view from Femes overlook

To end the day we were rewarded with a nice sunset.

our view!