February 22, 2019
Yesterday we had a class to make crepe paper flowers with June, our Polynesian enrichment lecturer. Even with the same directions, there were a variety of different beautiful flowers. Here’s mine.
Last night we had a cooking class with the guest chef on board, Olivier Desaintmartin. He is French but now lives in Philadelphia where he operates a restaurant called Caribou Café on 12th and Walnut! We haven’t eaten there but will when we return. We have walked past it many times. I chatted with him to let him know to expect us after 6 months.
He was a Food Network TV “Chopped” Champion. He and our executive chef, Mario, were on stage along with some of the other sous chefs. Chef Olivier made crab cakes and a delicious looking cod dish which Mario says will be cooked and served in the dining room in the next few days. I love my crab cake recipe but will try his when I get home.
Here’s our view entering the Suva harbor this morning.
On our last trip to Fiji we went to the Navua River and did a longboat tour, lunch and swim near the waterfall. Today, we had wi-fi on our minds first. So we went to the local shopping mall and paid $2 in Fiji dollars for each of our devices for 24 hours of wi-fi. That was about $1 in US money – well worth it. We got everything backed up and the new software downloaded in a pretty short time.
We always like to browse the markets and the Suva Market here is really large, clean and full of delicious looking produce, spices, fabrics and yes, lots of eggs!
They also had a lot of kava which they use to make a drink we tasted last time – and could hardly stand it.
We also walked to Victoria Parade. It is a street running along the water with lots of shops including a fairly large handicraft market. We talked to some of the vendors but didn’t buy anything.
After strolling through the market, we hired a driver for a tour of Suva. His name was Rackness and he was a nice guy and a knowledgeable guide. He told us that Fiji is made up of 333 islands but only 110 are inhabited. The population is 850,000 and almost half live in Suva. That explains the heavy traffic in the downtown area. Suva is the largest city in the South Pacific. The main employer used to be sugar cane – now it is tourism.
The weather stays about the same all year and they do get lots of rain. None today though although the rainy season is November – March.
Our butler, Pio, is from India and met his Serbian wife on the ship so now they reside in Serbia. He told us how many Indian people live here and he couldn’t wait to leave the ship and have lots of Indian food. Rackness told us that the British brought people from India to be slaves back in the day and that is why there is such a large Indian population today. Actually, there are many Chinese, Europeans, Arabs and a pretty large expat population here.
We stopped at several locations to take pictures. This is the Parliament building.
And this is the Grand Pacific Hotel. Queen Elizabeth stayed here in 1953. Colonial style and very beautiful.
People are not allowed to visit the Presidential Palace, also known as the Government House. It was built in 1928 and became the official residence of the president after Fiji became a republic in 1987. There is a guard outside wearing a traditional skirt called a Sulu. They stand outside the palace in the heat in 2 hour intervals.
The real security guard was surprised that we wanted his picture too!
The grounds are beautiful. I don’t know if you can see the flying foxes in the trees but they are numerous. They are the black hanging animals.
We stopped at the Thurston botanical gardens and a beautiful park. The trees are hundreds of years old.
Rackness was proud of the fact that Fiji won gold in rugby at the 2016 Olympics and showed us the $7 currency with a commemorative picture.
The local people are being priced out of the housing market by Chinese and Arab people coming to Fiji. A condo building will be the highest building and the lowest price is $3 million. He says only a few Fijian businessmen would be able to afford that so mostly foreign investors buy them.
We paid a visit to the war memorial and passed by the old Parliament building which is in disrepair and no longer used.
The country is mostly Christian. This is the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Next to the bank…
At the end of our tour, Norm gave Rackness some extra money since his daughter is attending nursing school in Australia and he sends most of his money there to support her. Yay for nurses!
We always like to see the fish markets and this one was no exception.
Beautiful (hot) and sunny day in wonderful Fiji.