Perhaps not strictly a first, I did climb Mt Ruapehu years ago, but we took a chair lift up halfway so I’m gonna call this particular volcano a first, based on the fact I climbed the whole thing. To be fair to Ruapehu though, this one was quite tiny and there was no pick axe required in getting to the top…
The highlight was an equal first between the little squirrels living camouflaged in the crater (which looked small but was actually massive) and the views of the rest of the island.
Fuerteventura is almost the definition of a desert island, apart from the fact that there is only sand on the beaches because it blows over from Africa! They import almost everything there, the only exception being goats cheese, the sole item produced locally. And yet produce is still really cheap, although much of the fruit/vegetables are found in the freezer section of the supermarket.
Parc Guell was absolutely my favourite place in Barcelona. Designed by my now favourite architect (not that I had one before, but that’s unimportant) Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi was fairly outrageous in his day for abandoning all the rules and creating structures inspired by organic forms, but eventually the craze caught on and was copied all over Barcelona. Although his pièce de résistance was the Sagrada Familia, the Parc Guell is a really fun, quirky and different place to explore, not to mention its fabulous views. I particularly enjoyed not only wandering through and taking it all in, but being able to round a corner and see an entirely new and different creation. Continual amazement!
We’d planned to see a fair bit of the French countryside, particularly Bordeaux and Champagne, as will as some delightful riviera scenery. Not to mention the rest of Europe, but sadly these snaps were the end of it as we headed to Paris to go banging on the door of the NZ embassy… Luckily there were alternative plans to be made, and locations we never could have driven to! Like the top of a volcano, and islands that were closer to Africa than Europe. Silver linings!
In the middle of Amsterdam is a huge and absolutely magnificent park, also known as Vondelpark. With a huge road around it full of joggers and cyclists getting some inner city exercise, lakes, clearings, and amazing (probably ridiculously expensive) houses on the waters edge, it was a beautiful spot to walk around.
What I really loved about it though, were the adult-sized playgrounds scattered throughout with lots of things to climb on and through and forget your age!