Fiji Island Hopping

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Going Island hopping in Fiji's Mamanuca Islands with my friend Alix in our early 20's is probably the most far back I will attempt to recall in a blog post. While some of the photos in this post may look like they're from the 90's they were actually taken in the last decade - but being photos of printed matte photos from a disposable camera they aren't great. In reality the islands are postcard-perfect.

We hired a car and drove to Palmerston North in the middle of the night for a ridiculously cheap flight with the now defunct Freedom Air shortly before Christmas. Upon landing in Nadi we were transferred to Vuda Marina and then took a 25 minute trip via Speedboat to Treasure Island where we were to spend four nights in an island bure.

Tired and confused by the time difference we were handed a tropical juice on arrival and admired the pool and water, wanting to get in there as soon as possible!

It was probably a kids dream rather than an adults, very family friendly. We took part in some of the activities including coral viewing on a glass bottom boat, being thrown about on an inflatable banana tied to a jetboat and snorkeling Both Alix and I are PADI Open Water Diver qualified so we were also able to go Scuba Diving with a guide - my first experience of diving without a wetsuit and in water above 10 degrees Celsius!

Being isolated with no supermarket, it's necessary to purchase a Meal Plan and eat all meals in the restaurant, but they were impressive and we met and talked to fellow travelers, sharing tables during the evenings.

On all the islands the staff gathered to sing each night as entertainment, and being students, we also quickly became acquainted with 'Happy Hour' as to save on cocktails.

We took a short visit to Beachcomber Island, which looked close enough to wade out or kayak too but in reality probably wasn't! We did an island trek and did a bit of kayaking. With a bit of a reputation as the party island, we were told the place comes alive at night but is a tropical paradise during the day.

Bounty Island definitely had a younger crowd and a different vibe to Treasure Island with quite a few backpackers. Alix and I got a beachfront bure this time and spent a couple of days lazing around the beach and playing board games in the main area. 

I was gutted I had to leave the islands and the friendly staff (prepared to even scale trees to pick coconuts for us!). After leaving the island we visited the amazing Garden of the sleeping Giant just out of Nadi and hired a less than roadworthy station-wagon to drive along the coast of Viti Levu (the largest Island) to Suva for two nights - my first experience of such a poor city which I found quite overwhelming.

In Suva we visited the Parliament Buildings and Fiji Museum which is set in the botanic gardens and is full of cultural gems.

We drove back to Nadi and spent our final day enjoying the swim up bar at Tokatoka Resort Hotel opposite the airport - a much better way to kill time than in a departure lounge!

#NoFilter Dublin

Friday, 12 December 2014

London City Airport's #NoFilter Project aims get back to the roots of photography, celebrating the fact that photos don’t need to be Instagrammed or filtered in order to show how beautiful a place is.

Having seen the results of #NoFilter Madrid and #NoFilter Geneva, when I was invited by London City Airport to take part in their #NoFilter Dublin campaign, I was not only super enthusiastic, but revisiting my photos really made me wish I could pop back to Dublin. 

When I visited two years ago, it was without a fancy digital camera. My early model LG smartphone was void of the fancy filters the iPhone 5c I now carry around offers, my photos of Dublin are therefore raw, and truly express the city as I visited it.

I've visited places in the past where I've either been underwhelmed or entirely surprised to see a destination because of the filters people have used on their snaps. Dublin definitely pleasantly surprised me.

In September 2012 summer still hadn't arrived in Dublin and it was freezing in the shadows of the Dublin Castle courtyard. I captured the sun peaking around the turrets and the outline of the facade against the morning sky. I'm not normally one for artsy, ambient photos, but I'm quite proud of this one.

Looking back towards Dublin Castle from Dubh Linn Gardens you see the history of Dublin architecture in a row. There's Gothic, Medieval, Georgian, and something best suited to Legoland. The lack of a filter shows not only the contrast in the variety in colours and building materials, but also the plush lawn and the blue sky.

O'Connell Street in particular is etched in history. Looking straight down this busy street you can see the Millennium Spire, the statue of Daniell O'Connell, the General Post Office. So much has happened here, and yet at the top your eye is immediately drawn to the lime green Tourist Office and modern advertising in the form of a transparent Nokia Billboard, utilising the building exterior in it's execution. The advertising agency too saw something in this facade.

No post about Dublin would be complete without a picture of The Temple Bar. No doubt a tourist trap but a pretty one with brickwork, bright red paintwork, neon lettering, signage designed to look original and bright hanging flowers. An older building is also reflected in the window which I'm sure would be lost with a filter.

My tips for taking great #NoFilter photos
  1. Don't take the shot everyone else is taking. Avoid just taking selfies in front of every landmark. Take something different and special which others might not have thought of.
  2. Be first on the scene. Get up before the crowds to get photos in the best light and avoid randoms in your photos whose presence, facial expressions and stances you cannot control and may need to edit later. This also allows you to see points of interest before they're busy which is a definate bonus.
  3. Trial and Error - It might take a couple of attempts before you get it right. Be critical and try again if something's not working. Practice makes perfect and with digital cameras, you can take as many as you need to and delete later.
#spon:This post was made possible by London City Airport and I received Amazon vouchers for my contribution. Special thanks to Monica Stott from The Travel Hack who is picking one winner to receive one blogger to receive an Apple iPad or Microsoft Surface RT tablet with 64GB!

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