Aboard the Aranui – First Stop, Papeete

James and I crewed on two yacht deliveries from Hawaii to Australia in the 80’s. Each day at sunset, the entire crew would sit in the cockpit and talk about where we had just been, where we were going and especially where we wanted to sail too.

Certainly, one place that we all dreamed of was the wild and remote Marquesas Islands. It was one that was still on the bucket list, albeit with the idea of sailing on a yacht.

Imagine my delight when Sandy Lawson came by with a brochure of the Aranui 5, a hybrid freighter cruiser, which leaves Papeete and sails via the Tuamoto Islands to the Marquesas Islands. Imagine my surprise when James said “Yes”.

Marquesas Islands


We are visiting Papeete for the first time since 1985 and staying for two days. This gives us time to reconnect with French Polynesia and get ready for the cruise, strolling through Papeete with Rick and Sandy. There are some new buildings and a lovely new information centre and park. Many of the older buildings are looking decidedly shabby chic, still the ladies making flower garlands and crowns are still beautiful to view. The old wooden Church looks the same and the market looks newer, with gorgeous entertainment.

Market Entertainers

We visited the wonderful Robert Wan Pearl museum. They have an amazing selection of pearls as well as the Pearl museum.

We missed the Le Trucks, they were so efficient and available.  We waited for a bus for almost an hour and finally stalked a taxi at Carrefour. Le Trucks are still working on Bora Bora, which was good to see.

The most interesting food was at the local food trucks called Les Roulettes. Each evening you walk down to a local car park and watch as the food truck set up their stoves and barbecues outside the truck. We had wonderful MahiMahi, entrecote steak and chow mein. We didn’t have crepes but they were available too. The serving sizes were huge and the food was delicious.


Le Roulettes, food truck

Papeete is lovely to explore but book a tour or get a taxi because public transport isn’t easy, unless you take a ferry. Try the food trucks and the markets as well as the restaurants. Bring your insect repellant and sun screen and plan for a wonderful time.







Southern Hospitality

Even though we aren’t sailing in the Med, we are enjoying azure skies and the beautiful country of the US.  We are in my Mother’s home state of Georgia, my ancestors were here when Georgia was still a colony, so the connection runs very deep. Ten minutes from landing at the Atlanta airport, my Southern accent is returning. When we were young and going to visit our grandparents, we would practice our Southern accents on the way down south.

We are off to visit cousins, Don and Becky at their gorgeous home just minutes from Atlanta.  Hey you Sydney-siders, would you like to see what $1 million buys you in Atlanta, GA?

Elegant hospitality on offer
Elegant hospitality on offer

As elegant as the house is, it is the 4.87 acres of gardens and tennis court that captured my attention and my heart.

Turns out my cousin Don is a great landscaper and gardener, spending time on every aspect of this very special garden.

This is what Georgia looks like
This is what Georgia looks like.

The garden remind me of Japanese gardens, but with the pine and hardwood forest as a backdrop instead of rice fields. We are in the country but within easy reach of Buckhead and Atlanta and we made the most of the shops in Buckhead and Peachtree City.

Georgia's red clay means lushness
Georgia’s red clay means lushness

You don’t see or hear neighbours, but we did hear their rooster some mornings. We love our neighbours but this garden is serene.

The hospitality is wonderful in the South and we were spoiled with cousins Jerry and Marilyn coming and visiting us, Tanya having us down to her gracious home in Warner Robins and Judy and Butch making us lunch in Rome.

We went to a fabulous restaurant in Atlanta near Buckhead, New York Prime, to hear the wonderful impressionist, Maxwell Taylor reprise all the great male singers of the 20th Century. What a splendid evening.

Maxwell Taylor at New York Prime
Jerry, Becky, Don and us with Maxwell Taylor at New York Prime

Thanks Georgia for all the hospitality. It is so wonderful to visit and connect with that Georgia red clay.