LA ORANA! (Pronounced Ya-ro-nah means hello in Tahitian ) Every time we go on vacation I try to download the lessons that we have learned and pass them on. Earlier this month we returned from our Honeymoon in Sydney, Australia, Auckland, New Zealand, & Tahiti and Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Here are some things we learned:
1. Pay attention to how the US dollar is doing globally. It can really make or break your budget. Use credit cards with no foreign transaction fees as much as possible. Keep the currency converter app on your phone handy. There is an Apple Watch app for it!
2. Uber and T-Mobile international plans to the rescue again! Never leave home without them (In Australia & New Zealand). Not in Tahiti, T-Mobile is a no go. Not supported. The french said F your data plan. You better get some of this free wifi at the hotel or you will be off the grid or pay to be online. A LOT.
3. If you do any shopping (luxury items or anything over $500USD) on your way out of a country get to the airport early to get your VAT/TAX refund.
4. Australia has some of the best Asian food I have ever tasted. Noodles, dumplings and rice OH MY! This aint bodega chinese/Thai/japanese/vietnamese food.
5. Sydney reminded us of San Francisco mixed with Hawaii. Hills, views and then a dope beach area. Bondi (pronounced Bond-eye) and Bronte (pronounced Bron-tay) beaches were cracking. Surfers, coconuts, vendors and dope views. Look out for sharks though. It's real out there. To quote our boy Malik: EVANDER.
6. The Opera House and the Harbour bridge views are breathtaking. From below and above. The fireworks at NYE were amazing. Seeing an opera in the house itself was great but that open bar Piper-Heidsieck champagne will put you to down. Be easy. They pour heavy!
7. New Zealand might be the most beautiful place on earth. 3 days is not enough. Period. We need 2 weeks just in New Zealand to be even close to satisfied. Next time I go back I am going to Hobbiton and the mountains and out to the Great Barrier Reef.
8. Tahiti is French. Very French. Bread and wine with every meal French. French berets, striped shirts, Camembert, and cigarettes in public French. I mean crusty baguette under the arm with no bag French. I mean bathing is optional French. Escargot on the menu French. Come prepared to get your French on. Blink and you are in a hot, tropical, France.
9. Mosquitoes & bugs in general are REAL in Tahiti. VERY REAL. A flying roach/beetle/cricket thing flew into my shower at the Le Meridien Tahiti and drowned. It looked like a baby lobster. I may or may not have screamed bloody murder like a b*tch.
10. Overwater bungalows with glass bottoms are EVERYTHING you think they are. we stayed in 3 different ones. Open the windows and you are surrounded by water. One we stayed in with sunrise in front of us. Another we stayed in and sunset was in front.. Feel like swimming, jump right off and go for it. Fish swimming underneath? Yup. I recommend the St. Regis Bora Bora above all. 1500+ square feet, butler service. It was huge. Free bikes to ride around the property. You WILL pay for it though. Make no mistake. There will be sticker shock at checkout.
11. I cannot confirm or deny whether or not I turned over our jetski. All I remember is Shaunte saying the water is so warm I just want to get in it. Well......
12. If you drink alcohol buy it in duty free when you get to the island. The resort will charge you $22USD a drink. Yes PER DRINK. That is a whole bottle of Absolut, Bacardi, or Tangueray. Even the chasers were $8. Just imagine mini bar prices on EVERY menu.
13. You can pack for 2 weeks in just carry on bags to a warm climate if you are vigilant and determined. The prop planes have weight limits anyway so they will gate check your bags and not charge you if they are overweight so no real stress.
14. The benefit of the St. Regis is they check you in for your flight, hand you your boarding pass, take you on a private boat transfer to the airport and you get priority check in for your bags, and priority boarding for the flight. Pretty nice.
15. Did I mention the mosquitoes? They are here for blood. They not trying to hear about your tan or see your vacation pictures.They followed us on the flight from Bora Bora to Tahiti so for 30 minutes us and another couple played a game with their son killing about 10 of them as they flew through the aisle. LOL.
Bonus: Can't stress this enough: Use points and miles as much as possible to maximize your trips. Upgrade to comfort seats or business class for flights to/from Australia. 14 hours is a LONG time. Compression socks, quality headphones, backup battery for phone/tablet and you are good to go.
PS: We met another black couple while in Bora Bora. We became fast friends. a reminder that we still have a long way to go in this black travel movement