Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tip: If you fly Air Pacific, the national airline, both flights will be late at night so you'll want to sleep. Consider an upgrade to the upper economy section. You will have a small flight of stairs to negotiate, but it's quieter and at least going to Fiji you will have a three-seat row for yourself.
Start with the positives: No tipping, everyone speaks English and you can drink the water.
It is not uncommon to be greeted with "Welcome home."
Once in Fiji, reaching some of these sights is not for the faint of heart. Unspoiled also means under developed.
Roads, even the paved ones ("sealed" to Fijians) are rough and the unsealed ones can require four-wheel drive to handle the hills.
Tip: Consider it a free Fijian massage, but if you have back trouble keep the driving to a minimum.
A little about Fiji
Depending on who did the counting and how high the tide was, the nation of Fiji consists of 303-331 islands, two thirds of which have neither space nor water for habitation. They are of volcanic origin, but no volcanoes have spouted in centuries.
Population was 837,271 according to the 2007 census with indigenous Fijians making up half of that. It is one of the few if not the only nation where the original inhabitants still control the lion's share of the land.
Three are considered "big" islands: Viti Levu, the largest, is home of Suva, the capitol; Nadi, where the nation's international airport is located; and most of the tourist infrastructure. Vanua Levu is half its size, slightly smaller and to the northeast and Taveuni, below and to the east, is by far the smallest and least developed.
A good guidebook, and probably the most recent is Fiji by David Stanley, a Moon Handbook, US$19.95.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Its trim, perfectly manicured grounds, tidy white buildings with thatched roofs and centuries old buildings will make you think a section of Flanders has been magically transported to South Africa. In a way it was: Steenberg is the oldest farm in the valley, having been established by the Dutch in 1682 to provide provisions for ships on the spice route.
Tip: The grounds are basically level with smooth paths and you will encounter very few steps.
Tip: The bedrooms are also upstairs. If a flight of stairs bothers you, request one of the 21 rooms in the Manor House - on the National Register - and Barn.
What to do there?
Count on manager Gaby Gramm to keep it all humming smoothly.
Need pampering? You will love the on-site spa and hairdresser.