Did I ever mention where & when I met my friend Julia, the lady who I used to visit in Fethiye and who has spent the last 3 months helping me settle in? No? Ah well, then let me tell you about it:

It was a typical cold, dark day in December 2008 as I made my way to Heathrow Airport in London to embark on a Single Traveller Tour to Hong Kong and New Zealand. After check in I wandered through to the airport lounge where I was meeting the rest of the tour group for the very first time. As I walked in, there was this blonde woman leaning against the bar ordering a gin & tonic. Considering it was 10am I have to confess my first thoughts weren’t exactly complimentary. However, this woman, who turned out to be Julia, had a slightly more favourable reaction to me mainly because, up to that point, I was the only person under 60 who had walked into the room. We soon discovered we both smoked and that was the flimsy basis from which our great friendship grew.

Anyway, so off we toddled to Hong Kong. A wonderful place – busy, overwhelming, a long way from London. We visited all the typical tourists sites – the Big Buddha, the Star Ferry, local markets etc and had a great 3 days rushing around from one spot to another, often to avoid the slightly weird person that was on our tour – there’s always one! It makes me wonder actually – if there isn’t a weird person on one of these tours does that mean the weird person is me? Anyway, I digress…

The Peak in Hong Kong

The Peak in Hong Kong

Looking down on the city itself

Looking down on the city itself

A traditional market

A traditional market

After the 3 days we headed to New Zealand which was what this trip was really about for me. We flew into Auckland and set forth to cover over 3000km in a little over two weeks. On the first day in Auckland we went to a museum. Yeah, sure, museums are nice enough but as myself and Julia had already been earmarked as the naughty children on the tour we decided to skip the museum (much to the tour guide’s disgust) and walk back into town. In typical tourist fashion we got completely lost and probably saw a side of Auckland that a lot of people don’t see – although we didn’t feel threatened in any way I’ll admit we did pick up the pace in some places.

The rest of the holiday passed in somewhat of a blur. We travelled so far in such a short space of time that the names of some of the places we visited completely passed me by. All I know is that every single place was a thing of beauty – rolling fields, very few people (there are only 4.5m people in the whole of NZ), not as many sheep as I’d expected and meals that would feed an army. The best way to describe a burger would be to say that it was a cow with it’s legs and head chopped off stuck in a bread roll!

But one of the most memorable places was Rotorua. The first thing you noticed was the smell, dear god, I can still smell it now. Due to the thermal sulphur pools there was the overwhelming stench of eggs – so strong you could taste it. We were there on Christmas Day so myself and Julia treated ourselves to a ‘romantic’ spa session, sitting in a lesser smelling natural spa bath looking out over the bay. We also went to a National Park, the name of which escapes me:

Well, would you remember it?

Well, would you remember it?

That evening we were also treated to a traditional Maori show and that is where the thighs in the title come in. Good heavens, my hormones were truly awakened that night. The thighs on these Maori dancers were beyond anything I had ever seen. The urge to go up and stroke them was strong but we just about managed to stay seated – can’t say I remember much about the show itself but I remember every movement those thighs made.

The thighs

The thighs

The rest of him was pretty tasty too!

The rest of him was pretty tasty too!

Anyway, after the hormones had calmed themselves down (it took a while, trust me) we headed over to the South Island which is even more beautiful, and empty, than the North. We had the opportunity to take a helicopter up to the top of a mountain and dance around in untouched snow, in a place where few people get to visit.

On top of the world

On top of the world

Then we ended up in Queenstown for New Year’s Eve and I partied like I do every New Year (ahem, I was in bed by 10.30pm!). Early on New Year’s Day we headed to the fjord of Milford Sound where we took a boat trip amongst the magnificent mountains, saw beautiful waterfalls and had any hangovers blown away by the very windy, erm, wind.

A very windy Milford Sound

A very windy Milford Sound

Of course, I couldn’t let a trip to Queenstown pass without doing a bungy jump. After all it is the home of the first AJ Hackett Bungy site.

Bungggyyyyy!

Bungggyyyyy!

Being there also gave us the opportunity to go on a high speed jet boat in about an inch of water. Queenstown pretty much has everything an adrenalin junkie like me wants.

The Shotover Jet Boat

The Shotover Jet Boat

We ended the tour in Christchurch and on our very last morning got up at the stupid time of 4am and went up in a hot air balloon – what a way to end a holiday.

4am, and the eyes are just starting to focus

4am, and the eyes are just starting to focus

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

After all this excitement it was time to come home but I was coming home not just with an appreciation of New Zealand (and it’s thighs) but also with a new friend who, if it wasn’t for her, this blog would have never even existed…

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