The Egyptian Pyramids

Many people, including myself, find the Egyptian Pyramids fascinating.  So I thought I would provide some info on what I learned after putting them on my bucket list.  I hope you find this mini-history lesson helpful and, like me, want to visit them someday.

You probably already know that most of the Pyramids were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs, and other select individuals, many centuries ago.  But if you are anything like me that is all you can remember from what you learned in school.

(Courtesy of Huffington Post)

The earliest known Egyptian Pyramids are found at Saqqara, which is northwest of Memphis.  Some of these were designed by the architect Imhotep; and they are considered to be some of the world's oldest monumental structures.

The most famous Pyramids, however, are those found at Giza, on the edge of Cairo.  Many of the Giza Pyramids are among the largest structures ever built. And the Pyramid of Khufu is the largest Egyptian Pyramid.

Later Pyramids were smaller, hastily constructed, and therefore not built as well--this was a result of many changes.  Consequently, many have not been preserved well, or are buried by desert sands.

All of the Egyptian Pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile.  As this is where the sun set, Egyptian mythology associated the west bank with the realm of the dead.

The Pyramids have always held our attention, even in more recent times.  In the 12th century, Al-Aziz Uthman tried to destroy the Giza complex.  He did succeed in damaging the Pyramid of Menkaure, but gave up after that because it proved to be too much work.  And the fascination continued into the 20th and 21st century.  Researchers have set out on digs throughout the years; in fact, the latest Pyramid to be discovered was found in November 2008.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini history lesson on the Egyptian Pyramids and that you go visit them.  I know I hope to soon.

Marianne

My Bucket List for Fiji

Fiji...can I just say we should all go visit and be done with this post?  😂

Fiji has so many things to offer...every water sport known to man, crystal blue water, pristine beaches, picturesque waterfalls, and so much more.  Read on to find out about several of the activities available on the island.

(Courtesy of Marriott)

Visit the Island of Taveuni

On the island of Taveuni you will find the Bouma National Heritage Park.  This location offers snorkeling in Waitabu Marine Park, hiking through Vidawa Rain Forest (complete with ancient ruins), exploration of Tavoro Waterfall Trail's three sets of waterfall cascades, bird watching, or views of wildlife.  Make sure you don't miss going on the Lavena Coastal Walk; this is a hiking trail that leads tourists along the coast, through the rainforest, and then to a stunningly beautiful hidden waterfall.

Visit the Coral Coast

Enjoy looking at the scenic coastline, which gets its name from the coral offshore, while you enjoy other regional activities.  Make sure you go for a dive in Beqa Lagoon, take in the views at Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, explore Namosi Highlands, or wander around Tavuni Hill Fort.  Also available in this region is Kula Eco Park...here you can see wildlife, learn about the flora and fauna, go ziplining, and enjoy a water slide.

Visit Kadavu Island

Here you can admire the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest barrier reefs in the world by taking part in reef diving or snorkeling.  Sailing, fishing, kayaking, and hiking are also popular on this island.  Away from the coasts, you will find tropical rainforests in the middle of Kadavu.

Take day trip(s) to the Lau Islands

Swim, snorkel, or dive in the water; and hike the interiors to see tropical foliage.

Visit Viti Levu

Head to Natadola Beach to find a white sand beach that meets crystal blue waters.  You can sunbathe, kayak, surf, snorkel, or swim (regardless of the tide).  While on Viti Levu, also make sure to hike through Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park for amazing views of forest and meadows before reaching the dunes.  Sleeping Giant Zipline, which has 10 separate ziplines, or Orchid Falls and Jungle Safari, with four waterfalls and wild birds among tropical foliage, are additional activities available on Viti Levu.

Visit Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool

On the way to Sabeto Hot Springs you will enjoy a scenic drive past several local villages.  Upon arrival you can also enjoy a massage before or after soaking in the Hot Springs.

Visit Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

This is the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere; it is composed of three sections dedicated to Murugan, Ganesh, Meenakshi, and Shiva.  Admire the wooden statues of the deities, brought over from India, and the ceiling frescoes, created by artisans in India.  Please dress conservatively and remove your shoes before entering the temple

Visit the Church of Saint Francis Xavier.

This church features European architecture, an unusual find here.  The frescoed interior also makes for a stunning attraction.  Take note of the fact that congregants sit or kneel on woven grass mats, as is the custom in Fiji.

Visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.

Stroll through orchids, past lily ponds, and bamboo before enjoying a complimentary afternoon tea.

Visit Shark Reef Marine Reserve

Get up close and personal with sharks; or go on wreck dives or reef dives.

Sail to the islands of Mololo Lailai, Tavarua, Nomoto, and the outer reef

Along the way enjoy snorkeling in Musket Cove sand quay, swim, stroll along beaches, and enjoy a barbeque lunch.

Enjoy some time shopping

Handmade items can be found at La Galerie Fiji or at Nadi Handcraft Market.  (If you plan to take wooden objects back home, the wood must have been treated before boarding your return flight.)

Depart from Denarau Port on a cruise

Cruise through the Blue Lagoons and the Mamanuca Islands.  Upon reaching Schooner Island, a private and uninhabited island, you can snorkel, go scuba diving, or enjoy a massage before lunch.  After lunch you will sail back to Denarau Port.

As you can see there are so many fun things to do on the islands of Fiji.  Let me know what all you end up doing if you travel to Fiji.  I, for one, am excited to do all the activities above, plus canoeing and white-water rafting.

Marianne

New Orleans During Mardi Gras

There is so much to do in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, well basically anytime, but it is always more fun to go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  So read on to find out my Mardi Gras bucketlist, beyond the obvious activities during Mardi Gras (such as the parade or drinking).

(Courtesy of Travel Channel)

  • Watch the Mardi Gras parade from a balcony.
  • Go to a crawfish boil in someone's backyard.  It is so different than eating in a restaurant.  Locals use a Crawfish app to find the best prices.
  • Take a ride on the streetcar.  The streetcar is a beautiful, yet historic, means of transportation.
  • Go on foodie road trips.  Middendorf's fried catfish, Tan Dinh Vietnamese food, Mosca's Italian dishes, Drago in Metairie for their charbroiled oysters, and a Cajun country truck stop for boudin and cracklins...these are just some of the places to go on your foodie trip.
  • Catch the Soul Rebels on a Tuesday night.  Make sure to stay for entire set.
  • Eat the city's staples...these include Creole and Cajun cuisine, oysters at Casamento's, muffuletta from Central Grocery, Po-Boys from R & O, fried chicken at Willie Mae's, panéed rabbit from Brigtsen's, and BBQ shrimp from Pascal's Manale.
  • Make sure you get in line early to get lunch at Galatoire's on a Friday afternoon.  
  • See a live tradition jazz performance, hopefully at Preservation Hall.
  • Listen to local legends, like Irma Thomas, sing.
  • Visit Pat O'Brien's dueling piano bar.
  • Get a sno-ball, with condensed cream, from Hansen's.
  • Listen to the church choir at St. Louis Cathedral.
  • Do the tourist-y things.  Eat beignet at Cafe du Monde, ride the carousel in City Park, watch the street dancers in Jackson Square, take a horse and buggy tour, and try on carnival masks at souvenir shops.
  • Visit one of the historic cemeteries, such as St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
  • Get a coveted ticket to the secretive MOMs ball.  Make sure your costume is up to par so you don't get turned away.

If you can't go during Mardi Gras, see if you can line up your visit with any of the events below.

  • Attend the entirety of Jazz Fest.  This is quite the accomplishment that many don't get around to.  Make sure to at least one item from every food vendor at Jazz Fest.
  • Enjoy Bayou Boogaloo from a canoe on Bayou St. John...just don't rock the boat.
  • Watch the St. Patrick's Day parade from a balcony.
  • Watch the World Oyster Eating Championship.

New Zealand Bucket List

New Zealand is at the top of my list of places to go.  I don't know about you but I just love visiting islands.  If you are like me, you have been dreaming about what to do when you visit New Zealand.  So I compiled a list of what would be my top 10 activities.

(Courtesy of Conde Nast)

  1. Hike a glacier.  You can hike Franz Josef and Fox Glacier on the west coast of the South Island.  You won't be disappointed exploring ice caves and crevasses.  There is also Tasman Glacier, in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, that is available for hiking; this is New Zealand's longest glacier.  Whichever you choose to hike, you won't be disappointed.
  2. Visit any of the geothermal parks between Rotorua and Taupo.  These geothermal parks, located on the North Island, have multi-colored pools, bubbling mud, and geysers.  They are truly a sight to behold.
  3. Learn about the Maori culture by attending a traditional Hangi dinner.  These are most prevalent in Rotorua.
  4. Go bungee jumping.  This is only fitting, after all bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand.
  5. Go on a hike.  This is the best way to experience New Zealand's breathtaking scenery.
  6. Explore Milford Sound.  Many people describe this as the most beautiful place in New Zealand.  Ways to see Milford Sound include kayaking, taking a cruise, hiking, scuba diving, or taking a scenic flight.
  7. See a Kiwi.  The best chance to see these is in one of the many conservation Kiwi houses around New Zealand; but if you happen to see one of these elusive nocturnal creatures in the wild, count yourself lucky.
  8. Visit The Hobbit site in Matamata.
  9. Gaze at the stars in a dark sky reserve.  Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve on the South Island is well known for its star-gazing opportunities because the southern hemisphere stars are most vivid.  (And did you know that the South Island is where you can see Aurora Australis--commonly referred to as the Southern Lights.  Aurora Australis is best seen at midnight on a clear night between March and September.)
  10. Enjoy coastal activities.  These include surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sunbathing on the beach.  Just remember, summer in the northern hemisphere is their winter.

If you see the Aurora Australis, or anything else exciting, while visiting New Zealand--drop a comment and let me know.