Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wish List: Qualia Hamilton Island, Australia

Starting to see a trend? Another item/location to add to my wish list.

Qualia is on Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays. I don't know if it's the thought of sun, the plunge pools or the feeling of isolation, but it's definitely added to "the list". Perhaps it's also the proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, which was one of my favourite trips in recent years that makes it so appealing. Either way, we can all dream.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Places I have been: My years of travel (1995 to 2011)

Ok, so when I started this list I didn't think I would have to go that far back in my memory, I mean I've travelled but have haven't travelled that much...

1995 The UK and Singapore, my first trip to Asia and I love it
1997 USA, multiple locations including Chicago, Washington DC, Niagara Falls, Texas, Rhode Island, Las Vegas and California
1999 Hong Kong
2000 Phuket, Thailand
2001 Vietnam, multiple locations up the coast from HCM City to Hanoi
2001/2002 China - Beijing, Xian and Shanghai
2003 Darwin and Alice Springs
2003 Christchurch, Queenstown and the West Coast NZ
2005 USA West Coast
2006 Christchurch, NZ
2007 Rarotonga Cook Islands, Akaroa NZ and Christchurch NZ
2007 Dubbo
2008 Mudgee
2008 South East Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam
2008 Rarotonga, Cook Islands
2009 Hong Kong and Eastern Europe
2010 Las Vegas NYE
2010 Rarotonga and Aitutaki, Cook Islands
2010 Bay of Islands, NZ
2010 Coromandal Coast, NZ
2010 Auckland, NZ
2010 Rotorua, NZ
2010 Lake Taupo, NZ
2010 LA, Princeton and Las Vegas
2010/2011 Christchurch, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound,  Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura, NZ
2011 Bay of Fires and Launceston, Tasmania
2011 Waiheke Island, NZ
2011 Tauranga,White Island and Mount Manganui NZ

Don't let the last 2 years deceive you too much, I've been based in Auckland for work and had plenty of weekend opportunities for side trips. And of course, I know I'm missing something....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Weekend in Auckland: Gearing up for the RWC

August 2011
So to cut down on my Sunday work travel (and really who needs an excuse to stay in Auckland for the rugby?), DH flew over to visit for the weekend. We didn't do a whole lot of touristy things, having done a lot of them before, and our main focus was the All Blacks v. Wallabies game. Some would say we (the Wallabies) got hammered, and yes at one stage I was a bit worried that it would be a one sided game, but I have to say it was enjoyable and the 30 to 14 scoreline wasn't all that bad.

Even though Eden Park wasn't at it's new capacity, it was still packed, and it's a bit different from the games in Sydney, where there's a 50/50 supporter split, I seemed to be the only one cheering when the Wallabies scored. I would question how "world cup" ready Auckland really are in terms of transport. No Kiwi wants to hear, talk to the Aussies about how they do it, but really they could learn a thing or two from the SCG and Bruce Stadium (comparing it to Homebush would be unfair, we did build that one fit for purpose). Having said that, I am excited about the 2 games we managed to get tickets to.

To do
Check out my last Auckland post for the basics here
Also check out my Waiheke Island post here

One Tree Hill and Cornwell Park

Love a Duck - Hong Kong Chinese at it's best
Lord Nelson - love the Caper and Blue Cheese Steak
Shaky Isles - great breakfast and coffee in town
Daikoku Britomart - The best fresh, handmade Ramen I've had
Manuka Cafe Davenport - the ratings online aren't that good, but I would go back, we had the muscle fritters

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wish List: Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

A number of years ago I stayed in the luxury tents at Paperbark Camp for my now DHs birthday, so I started looking for other such "camps" in Australia. The Sal Salis at Ningaloo Reef, on the Western Australian coast came up. Needless to say that even if we don't stay at the Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef is embedded on our wish list.

So let's start with Sal Salis, if the pictures don't make you want to go, maybe the description will: Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef is an exclusive safari camp hidden in the white sand dunes of Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park.  Nine spacious wilderness tents are just metres from the water’s edge and the world’s greatest fringing coastal coral reef.

And the attraction of Ningaloo Reef? Besides being a reef that you can access from land (instead of by boat or island as in the GBR), is the specific wildlife. Usually known for the location when you can swim with the whales, it's also where you can swim the the sting ray and swim with the turtles, all at different times of the year (so you have to visit multiple times, or that it doesn't matter when you visit, there will always be something to check out!).

So, did I manage to add it to your wish list?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Bucket List

The problem with bucket lists are that they grow and grow, then priorities change and one location gets moved down the list for another location, or you hear a great review and that replaces a location that you hear allot of gripes about. So needless to say my bucket list has evolved over the years. I have priorities but don't have a specific order. Some are countries, some are specific locations and some are experiences. This list does not include the trips that are coming up.

1. Russia
2. Korea
3. Japan
4. Silk Road
5. Taj Mahal
6. Turkey
7. Jordan
8. Pyramids
9. Swimming in the Red Sea
10. Beer Festival Germany
11. Cuba
12. Myan Ruins
13. Samoa
14. Swimming with the whales Tonga
15. Torres Strait Islands
16. Alaska and the Canadian Rockies
17. Antarctica
18. Bluff Oyster Festival, NZ
19. Kangaroo Island
20. Iran
21. Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, WA
22. Monkey Mia, WA
23. Kimberly Region, WA
24. Kakadu
25. Art Deco Weekend, Napier, NZ
26. Borneo
27. KL
28. Mungo National Park
29. Ice Hotel
30. Maldives
31. African Safari
32. Rome
33. Albania
34. Patagonia, Argentina
35. Yellowstone National Park
36. The Painted Desert. USA
37. The Northern Lights
38. Greek Islands
39. Laos
40. Madagascar
41. Nepal
42. Mongolia
43. Mount Rushmore
44. Morocco, Portugal and Spain
45. Dubai
46. Prague
47. Philip Island
48. Great Ocean Road
49. Savannah Way, Australia
50. Amalfi Coast, Italy
51. Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
52. Freycinet, Tasmania
53. Broome
54. Painted Desert, USA

I'm sure there's somewhere I've left of the list, and needless to say there will be many more to add, but it's a pretty comprehensive list.

What's on your list that's not on mine?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Tips and Tricks

It's been an interesting article looking back on the details of a trip taken over 6 years ago! I have added the best and worst from our trip below, with some recommendations if you're thinking of doing a similar itinerary.

Favourite Photo:

Lone Cypress, Monterey


What would you do differently next time:
  • Spend more time in Sedona, we really only drive through and there is so much more to the area
  • Spend at least one night on the Strip in Vegas, we've been there so many times to see family and never stayed on the strip!

  • We had excellent weather, May was a perfect time of year for this trip
  • Book ahead at the National Parks, I don't know how many people we ran into that we're trying to book that day and had to drive 1+ hr out of the park to find accommodation
  • Buy food and snacks from the grocery stores and take them with you, then you can have impromptu picnics along the way

Favourite Photo:

Kings Canyon National Park

  • Grand canyon, pictures don't do it justice
  • Driving down Hwy 1
  • Death Valley - who builds a castle in the middle of nowhere?
  • The big trees of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, as with the Grand Canyon pictures don't do them justice
What would you do differently next time:
  • I wouldn't miss anything, I would make it longer though to see more National Parks

  • Don't be put off by the Americanism you see on television, it's nothing like the country itself.
  • Hire a car, it's the best way to see what you want when you want
  • Make sure you see the Grand Canyon by helicopter
  • Stay at the Golden Gate B&B in San Fransisco - great location