Thursday, December 30, 2010

Las Vegas NYE 2010

January 2010

We visited Las Vegas in January as a very last minute trip to see family. This was my third visit to Las Vegas and DH's second, and as a non-gambler, non-drinker I still never tire of it.

We always try and see something off the strip, last time it was the beautiful Valley of Fire, this time is was Red Rock Canyon. This one's not as far off the strip, making it a popular spot. Another advantage, is that it's a driving circular route, allowing you to stop at various points and explore as much, or as little as you want.

It was also my Grandmothers birthday, so on recommendations we took her to the Eiffel Tower restaurant, where on the weekends you get a great view of the Bellagio fountains at lunch. My only complaint was we had pre-booked, were made to wait on the promise of a window view, and then someone gave the maitre d' cash and we got bumped back, I know it's Vegas and what happens, but we would have been happy with the seat as long as we didn't have to wait. But the food was great, the service ideal and the view spectacular.

During our afternoon/evening walking up and down the strip (which is a must for an visit) we checked out the new Aria Las Vegas.

As well as the usual suspects in Las Vegas.....

The most flameworthly part of this trip, is we arrived New Years Eve, and we never left the hotel room, jet lag...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Daintree Day 4

April 2009

While I loved our trip, this was the absolute highlight of our trip, and should be one of the things you do in your life time. I'm talking about a trip out to The Great Barrier Reef.

We left Cairns early in the morning on Reef Magic Cruises, and due to it being the end of the stinger season we decided to don the stunning (no pun intended) stinger suit. There are many optional extras you can choose, but we were quite happy to spend our day snorkeling and going in the underwater boat (where we got to see sea turtles).

So don't put it off any longer, book your trip to the Great Barrier Reef today, you won't regret it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Daintree Day 3

April 2009

We jumped in the car and drove down to Cairns to spend time in Kuranda. Most people use the Skyrail or the Scenic Train, but we decided just to take the car. This allowed us to visit the Barron Falls, via the boardwalk.

We then visited the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary to see the gorgeous and vibrant Ulysses Butterfly.

Kuranda emptied out pretty quickly in the afternoon, so just be aware when planning your trip.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Daintree Day 2

April 2009

We spent the next morning in the Daintree Gorge, where it was great just to take some time out strolling through the streams and the valley.

We then spent the afternoon exploring the boutique stores and cafes at Port Douglas, driving up to take in the view across Four Mile Beach.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Daintree Day 1

April 2009

The Daintree and Great Barrier Reef had always been one of my "to do" trips, but you know how it is when somethings in your backyard, it seems like you have plenty of time to do it. Well, we decided with a four day long weekend to extend that time and finally get me to one of the most spectacular places in the world (DH had been previously, but didn't need much encouragement to go again!).

We hired a car, so that we had flexibility and we stayed at The Silky Oaks Lodge in one of their Treehouses, which were gorgeous and perfect for what we wanted/needed.

One our first day we took a cruise on the Daintree River, and got to see a bit of wildlife along the way.

From there we went across on the car ferry to see the Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre. Where you got some stunning views from the suspended walkways. We continued in our car til we got to the Cape Tribulation tip, where you can take a short stroll to the lookout for views up and down the deserted beach (or it was at the time).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wollombi Weekend Retreat

November 2010

DH and I decided we needed to get way for a quite weekend, with an excuse to do absolutely nothing and came across The Wild Edge Retreat in Wollombi, NSW.

There are four Pavilions to choose from and we went for Nature's Mist, due to the private pool. The weather was horrible Friday morning and didn't improve as we took the 1.5 hour drive to Wollombi. Unfortunately this meant that a perfectly good private pool was going to waste.

After a restful night, and a hearty breakfast (ample provisions were provided), we took the car to Wollombi for the weekend fair, a non-event really. We headed back to our well appointed retreat to spend the rest of the afternoon on the plush coach, reading in front of the fire.

Needless to say, the weather never improved for us to enjoy the pool, so I had to settle for the spa bath overlooking the countryside. Weather aside it was a great place to relax, get away from it all and chill.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wish List: Luxury Villas Maldives

I don't need any encouragement, but when an online friend posted this link, well I just could help myself.

Now I have no idea why you need a bath, overlooking the pool, which overlooks the ocean, but it makes me want to be there NOW!

The kiwi collection website, also has a number of other luxury properties around the world (and apparently books to match), but like I said already, I really do not need any more encouragement to add another place to my list...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A weekend in Auckland


March 2010

On one of our many trips to Auckland this year, due to me being based there for work, we decided to spend the weekend in Auckland. We had a very busy couple of days, and even managed to throw in a rugby game (Brumbies vs. Blues) at Eden Park!

So what is there to do?

1. Auckland Tower
With stunning views of Auckland and beyond it's a great place to get your bearings and appreciate how many volcano cones are in the city.

2. Viaduct
A great place to view the sailing ships and to grab a meal, especially in the summer months.

3. Kelly Tarltons Aquarium
Built in an old treatment plant, the aquarium is small but has a great penguin exhibit.

4. Mt Rangitoto
We did the tour to the top, due to being short on time, only having to walk the final step component and it was great to get running commentary on the history of the Island.

5. Mission Bay
The drive from Auckland around to Mission Bay is stunning, and a great place to stop and people watch in one of the many cafes.

6. Parnell
Full of quait stores, cafes and restaurants, it's a great place to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon.

7. Piha Beach
A short drive from Auckland, this famous surfing beach is great to take in Lion rock.

8. Waitakere Estate High Tea
I wasn't overly impressed with the high tea, as the estate is quite aged and would be the one activity I would substitute or skip if I had to re-do our weekend.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe: The Good, the Bad and (thankfully) no Ugly!

I hope you've enjoyed following our 31 day trip through Hong Kong and parts of Eastern Europe as much as I have posting and reliving the moments. I wanted to post a summary page for those of you who may be interested in what we thought were the highlights of our trip and those which were just ok.

Favourite photo:

This one's a hard one and I know I'll change my mind once I post, but I'll have to go with us on the Danube River outside the Budapest Parliament, we didn't get one of us together so I did have to choose 2!

  • Budapest rocked, I was so glad we went and spent some time there as it was the place where we got the most mixed reviews before hand, in particular the walking tour was a great way to see the city.
  • Sarajevo, I had no idea what to expect from this beautiful city where east meets west, I hope it's wounds heal sooner rather than later.
  • Plitvice Lakes, we were not disappointed by choosing the tour that had this location in their itinerary, just a gorgeous spot.
Would miss next time:
  • Belgrade was just meh for me, it was a old, tired city and didn't really add much to the overall trip.
  • Terror Museum Budapest, the museums and books based during or around that era of Hungary's past taught me more than the museum did.
  • Don't waste time sitting around the airport in between flights, if you can get out and about, you never know what you might see.
  • If you're short on time join a tour, Intrepid Travel and GAP Adventures are great for small groups where you do not have to spend every waking minute with a group.

Favourite photo:

Us at Mostar

  • Dubrovnik, the old town with it's cobbled streets and the depth of the walls astounded me.
  • Plitvice Lakes, the walk through the picture perfect scenery.
Would miss next time:
  • Nothing, I loved everything!
  • Never travel without insurance, we haven't had to use it but I don't want to be without it if the time comes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe Day 31

October 2009

Day 31

So while waiting from our flight from Hong Kong to home, we decided to take advantage of having no luggage (already checked through) and the MTR system that we had used so much on our trip over to go into Hong Kong Island for dinner and a quick look around. Tip here is that you can buy a return ticket (for return same day only) from the customer counter just outside the MTR station in the airport.

Once we arrived in Hong Kong Island we took the travellator walkway upwards and enjoyed the people watching and the intricate smells that are so Asia. We dropped by Wellington St where we had found our Yum Cha on the stop over and grabbed some awesome noodle soup from Tsim Chai Kee Noodle, not quite satisfied with just the noodles we dropped into the dumpling store to pick up a couple while we had the chance.

This was a pure quick stop to refuel and get out of the airport, so it wasn't long before we were back on the train and on our plane heading home.

What a trip, it enabled me to cross Croatia off my Top 10 travel destination list and added to my hunger and desire to travel, it's always the way and I wouldn't change it for the world.

As the quotes state:

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe Day 30

October 2009

Day 30

Our third and final day in Zagreb. We sought out the Archaeological museum and spent the morning looking through the displays and the special exhibit on the Myan Ruins (like I needed another location to add to my "to see" list). We then went to see the Botanical Gardens that had been closed the previous day and spotted these cute owl statues on top of one of the surrounding building.

We enjoyed a lunch of hamburger for DH and Cevapcici for me, before grabbing our bags from the hotel and making our way back to the bus station to get the bus to the airport.

Who knew that 30 days and 5 countries could go by so quick? And still 1 stop to go!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe Day 29

October 2009

Day 29

After breakfast we headed off for "upper" Zagreb. We took in the action at the markets, visited the local Cathedral, visited the "bloody" bridge, saw St George statue, visited the stone gate with the Virgin Mary picture and Dora Krupic, saw the Fisherman's Statue (in which there is an exact copy of in Belgrade), visited but did not ride on the Funicular, spent some time on the Strossmayer promenade and visited the Lotrsak Tower, where the cannon goes off with a boom every day at noon.

We enjoyed a lunch in the square and took a walk along to the old stock market (now a bank), followed by a trip to Ilica Street to British Square where they have more fresh produce on sale. We tired our luck at the Botanical Gardens only to find they were closed, so stopped in Railway Square for a refreshing afternoon beverage.

That nigh we met up with a girl from our GAP tour for dinner at Nokturno, a local backpackers hangout, where I had the mushroom risotto and DH enjoyed chicken with a cheese and tomato sauce.

It was definitely a day where we walked and saw allot, I think we definitely earned our ice cream that night!