Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Country Review: Fiji

Dates there: 2nd to 6th March 2014: 5 days

Fiji's Wonders: None

On the Longlist: None

You don't go to Fiji for the architecture. You go there for the islands, the beaches, or in my case because I've got a friend there. It's a lovely place and feels a little like an alternative universe, where the relics of British colonialism hang out on a remote island in the middle of nowhere. Danielle and I spent a couple of days in the capital, Suva, with my friend Maebh and her partner Tom, then moved onto an awfully pleasant beachside hotel for a couple of days.

Fiji's archaeological history goes back as far as 900 BC, but they weren't inclined towards Easter Island giant heads, it seems. Fijians preferred just to hang about and enjoy the sun. And why wouldn't you? There are no grand ancient mysterious monuments anywhere, just some humble mounds and boulders which would have had some kind of ceremonial function a long time ago. Mostly, Fijians built stuff like this:

That's a traditional house, reconstructed on the university grounds. Attractive, but not exactly durable over centuries.

Perhaps Fiji's most notable building today is the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. This is a proper no-nonsense colonial hotel, and people like the Queen - yes, ER2 herself, the all-time classic Queen (tied first with Victoria and ER1) - have stayed here. In the 1990s, it fell into hard times, but when we visited it was being done up and almost ready to reopen, which later it did in May. You can stay there for about £150 a night, which seems a pretty good deal.

But maybe you'd prefer to stay at one of Fiji's beach or island hotels. That's what most people prefer to do. And that's fair enough, because you don't go to Fiji for the architecture.


  1. Did you consider Latifah in your all-time queens? Hatshepsut?

    1. What was I thinking? I was taking a narrow view there, focussing only on English/British queens. On a wider world queen league table, Hatshepsut definitely rates, as does Cleopatra (I know, a cliche, but she's a classic nonetheless). Catherine the Great probably has a say, and I think Zenobia back from Roman times is an appealing dark horse.

      No room for Queen Latifah I'm afraid, she's just a flash in the pan in my view. Come to think of it, Orbital did an official remix of one of her songs in the early 1990s and I'm sure I used to own it on vinyl, but I've not seen it in years. I hope I haven't lost it.

      --just checked Discogs, and I can apparently buy it for 65p, so no great loss.

  2. OK, I'll admit that Latifah is not necessarily an all-time classic. I do think that QE2 is a contender in the overall rankings and I have a soft spot for Hatshepsut. Remember Tuthmosis III?

  3. The George Costanza of Egypt!


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