• Hiedi Clague

From NZ to SF to PO to MC to FF to AT and a whole lot in between...

We made it! It took a while, having left Christchurch for Auckland on 4th May, we flew to San Francisco and then up to Portland Oregon to meet up with Charne & Mark, friends who we stayed with in their lovely house in Hood River, just outside or Portland, a very pretty town on the Columbia River. It's a beautiful part of the world, where they are creating a beautiful rural home for themselves and their family. We had four fab days, wine tasting, boozing, golfing and exploring along with meeting friends and family, it was really nice to see them in their new abode!

After an early start from Portland and a long days travel, not helped by delays in Mexico City airport thanks to a missing pilot, with no idea which gate to board at (the flight displays are not that helpful) or when we'd be flying or from where, we reached Merida! Oh the joys, thank god for quick bar hops along the way. We arrived on a balmy evening in Merida for three days stay in a charming house aptly named the Orangerie de Santa Ana. Gorgeousness - all found by Charne and her eye for beauty!

Merida is beautiful, with it's colourful and unique architecture, I can see why many North Americans and Europeans buy old homes and renovate them using the gorgeous colours of this town. From a design perspective, the buildings are unique, like something you see in Conde Naste Traveller or Architectural Digest - the colours are just beautiful!

We had a couple of days exploring the town, lounging by the cool pool and playing lucky dice (our new fave game) before adventuring out on a tour to swim in the cool, spectacular cenotes and see some ancient history. If you are ever in Mexico, you must visit one of the 7,000 cenotes located in Yucatan, just amazing. You swim through under ground caves, lit from above, creating turquoise pools in the cool of stalagmite and stalactite laden underground aquifers...an incredible experience. We then went to see the ancient Yucatan ruin in Uxmal, hotter than Satan's asshole. Honestly, we were just as soaked but this time not from the cool waters of the cenotes!

After a brilliant but hot few days in Merida, we had a "short 5 hour drive" to the ferry to get us across to Isla Holbox. By hour 4 we had all had enough, so the sea and the ferry were a welcome bloody sight! A quick 20 minute ferry ride across to this sandy island and here we were, smack dab right on a very beautiful beach, staying at the eco resort Aldea Kuka. You can see why people come to this beach from all over the continent, it's gorgeous; white sand, turquoise warm waters, the whole shebang. Isla Holbox is an island north of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, in Quintana Roo State. It's part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve and separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon, which is home to flamingos and pelicans - not that we saw any! The car-free island, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, is rich in marine life like sea turtles and whale sharks. Nope, didn't see any of them either! Beach was nice though.

Now, I'd like to tell you what an amazing stay we all had here but that would be stretching the truth a tad, well for me at least. You see on the car ride down, we stopped for lunch and it was at this station of bacteria that I contracted what I like to call my own taste of Monte...Monte-zuma and his revenge were exacted on me and boy did it make sure it's presence was known. For the entire 4 days in this travellers delight, I lay in my bed going from hot to cold to bathroom to bed. It was a complete drag. On day 3 it was the doctor for me and a nice big needle in the right buttock before another the morning we were leaving to make sure I didn't die or embarrass myself or the others on the way back to Mexico City. It's not a travel tale I like to tell but there you go, I felt like Charlotte in Sex in the City where they go to Mexico...you know the one, after Big jilts Carrie and so the girls go on her honeymoon with her. I felt so bad that I wasn't part of the fun but the others got to relax and apparently, the food at the resort was delicious. I felt much skinnier on departure. Mexico and me, not mates any more!

Anyhoo, we left Holbox and flew out of Cancun for Mexico City for our last night together we arrived into the very beautiful Mexico City, where we stayed at the Four Seasons, what a delight. Beautiful were the surrounds and the beds were so comfortable and inviting, I took a rather long nap whilst Gav, Mark & Char explored the city - Gav said it was just beautiful and was very impressed by the city, it's architecture and the very large parks and green surrounds. I'd like to go back some day to see it all for myself with more time! That evening we set off for dinner at a wonderful Argentinian restaurant, set high up on the top floors of a beautiful, romantic old building. Complete with a blazing full moon, we said good night to Mexico and we all jetted off the next day, Charne & Mark for Portland and Gav & I for Frankfurt (where I met a hero of mine, Gregory Porter in the lounge) and then onto Athens.

This was a very big thrill for me, I just love Gregory Porter and if you've never heard of him, or heard him sing, you should do so immediately!!

We had a very nice flight to Athens, arrived very early in the morning to our little hotel in Piraeus, went to sleep and woke up for an explore before our overnight ferry for Leros and back to A Fine Balance! We were pretty impressed by how much Piraeus had been cleaned up in the time since we'd been there last, it was a nice surprise. We had a lovely chilled day wondering around, a nice lunch and then onto our ferry for the overnight crossing. What a treat to be back in Greece!

It's interesting, since we've been away, apart from on the flight and in some places, most people don't wear masks and to be honest we haven't really thought about Covid since we left. It comes with the feeling that the rest of the world seems somewhat normalised and that's a wonderful feeling after being locked down for so long!

I'll post again about our first arrival and weeks since we've been back onboard in my next log entry! Suffice to say, we are very pleased to be here...

Hope everyone reading is well and happy! More soon...

All the best,

H&G xo

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