Quote

Travelling enhances our knowledge on other cultures – the way they work, the way they dress, their way of life. The art of travelling teaches us to empathise and admire which will perhaps urge us to make the difference we wish to see in the world.

– Ashlyn Taylor

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Bali, Indonesia

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Bali, Indonesia

From the rolling hills and lush rainforest of Ubud, to the bustling beaches and markets of Kuta, Bali portrays two extremes and is just one the many islands of Indonesia, waiting for you to explore.

Each city of Bali is different to its neighbour. Each has its own personality, or possesses something unique.  Sanur offers a laid back and cheap dining experience. Feel the sand between your toes and tune into the gentle crashing of waves as you indulge in a tasty meal on Baruna Beach.  Kuta is known for its nightclubs, but its markets are worth a visit during the day.  Filled with countless bargaining opportunities and the beach within walking distance, the Kuta Markets satisfy.  The city of Seminyak is home to boutique stores, unique to this part of Bali.  Potato Head Beach Club ticks all the boxes – great food, great view, great service.  Complete with an infinity pool, Potato Head is a Bali hot spot, located just out of Seminyak.  These Balinese cities have their own strengths, something that sets them apart from the others.  It is up to you to decide which ones are worth discovering.

If you wish to trial a taste of the traditional side of Bali rather than the tourist portion, Bali Hai Bicycle Tours doesn’t disappoint.  This tour includes a free Balinese tea and coffee trial in the rainforest and brunch at the foot of Mt Batur, an active volcano.  Take in the scenery as you venture on a 30km downhill bike ride through rice paddy fields and villages.  It is on this journey that you get a first glimpse at how the Balinese really live.  As you continue on through small villages, the occasional group of Balinese children pause their games to trail behind your tour group, or plead for a quick high five.  After 30km, you may think your journey has come to an end, but this is not the case.  Instead, you are welcomed into an authentic Balinese home to savour some traditional Indonesian cuisine.

After a long bicycle ride through the Indonesian countryside, the word ‘massage’ may come to mind.  InTan Spa will accommodate your needs.  Located at Baruna Beach, Sanur, InTan Spa has a lot to offer.  Many cheap but quality packages are available, but to give an idea, a two and a half hour massage, facial and pedicure will set you back only twenty Australian dollars.  The service is great, the ladies are friendly and ensure your massage is as relaxing as possible.

For a truly enlightening experience, visit the Elephant Park & Lodge, Taro.  Forty-one beautiful elephants inhabit the park, each one saved from Sumatra, and named and cared for by the dedicated staff.  It is worth investing in an elephant ride – your visit just wouldn’t be complete without one.  Your journey lasts 35 minutes and is incredibly relaxing.   The elephants finish their walk with a refreshing dip in the lagoon.  Elephants also jump at the chance to boast their skills at the Talent Show.  Ball skills and painting are just the beginning, but be sure to watch out for the wet surprise.  I won’t give too much away!

Tanah Lot Temple will satisfy the aspiring photographer.  Waves crash against stubborn rocks, sending shards of sea spray into the sky. The sun sheds light over the temple on the ocean, creating the perfect silhouette.  A photographer’s paradise, right?  If you’re wishing to snap a sunset, arrive at Tanah Lot just before 6.30pm (this was in September – check sunset times for your visit) and set up by the café on the cliff with a cold beverage in hand.  This beautiful seaside landscape can be found west of Seminyak and is very popular with tourists.

You’ll find your heart torn between the two faces of Bali –  the silence of the rainforest, or the calling of the city.  Why not fall in love with both?


May the travel-bug be with you….

Things to do and places to see:
Bali Hai Bicycle tour – http://www.balihaitour.com/
Elephant Safari Park & Lodge – http://www.baliadventuretours.com/index.php/en/elephant-safari-park/safari-park/about-safari-park
Tanah Lot Temple – is west of Seminyak (ask your driver and he’ll know where it is)
InTan Spa – visit Baruna Beach Markets, Sanur or call 286 413

In Bali, bargaining is just a way of life – and you’ll need to know the correct prices.  This website gives these prices and will be a vital for your Bali adventure:
http://home.mira.net/~wreid/bali_p2m.html

Diverse Dunedin – New Zealand

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Diverse Dunedin – New Zealand

Dense green grass coats every inch of the gorgeous city, making Dunedin’s prairies the perfect grazing site for sheep.

Venture up onto the greener than green hillsides to explore Larnach’s Castle. This medieval structure, once home to the Larnach family, is renowned for its beautiful grounds, unblemished panoramas and complex architecture. The castle itself is complete with aged photographs of the family and authentic furniture. Amble to the tower’s highest point to view a flawless vista, bursting with magnificent flora and fauna. The various gardens have a theme, Alice in Wonderland, a much loved book. Wonderland characters such as the Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter and Alice herself are placed throughout the grounds. But the much anticipated find is indeed the best hidden, will you find the Cheshire Cat?

Continue on to Baldwin Street, which is well known for being the steepest street in the world. If you’re feeling adventurous, have a go at walking it! But if you’re more fit, fun and fired up, have a go at running. At its steepest, Baldwin street is nineteen degrees. For a family fun-filled event, don’t miss Cadbury’s giant Jaffa race. Witness the journey of 25,000 jaffa lollies as they dash towards the bottom of Baldwin Street. Each giant jaffa is hand numbered from 1-25,000 and tickets with the same numbers are available for purchase in New Zealand. The first five to the bottom of Baldwin are winners! Two charities sell the tickets and the money raised is donated towards those charities. Complete with rare yet iconic entertainment, a good cause, and not forgetting the giant jaffas, what’s not to love?

Vintage trucks, purple buildings and the sweet scent of chocolate screams Cadbury World! Take a guided tour to educate yourself on how Cadbury World operates. Watch in awe as you observe machines and people work hard, manufacturing the world’s most loved chocolate. However, this enjoyment comes with a price – hairnets and snoods must be worn whilst visiting the factory! On the flip side, this may benefit you as you snort and giggle at your family and friends. Soaring high above the ground is a purple silo, hike up its spiral stairs to witness a jaw dropping surprise – I won’t give it away! From the cocoa bean to the satisfying products in the supermarket, Cadbury World shows you everything in between. Leave Cadbury World with a bursting belly, filled with the liquid chocolate that you get to sample and the many iconic products given throughout the tour. If you’re hoping for some extra treats, study up on the Cadbury products beforehand.

From picturesque vistas, record breaking streets and a factory full of chocolaty fun, Dunedin is quite diverse, ensuring that there is something for every traveller, family or couple.

May the Travel-Bug be with you………

Places to see & Things to do:

http://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/

http://www.dunedin.nz.com/baldwin-street.aspx

http://chocolatecarnival.co.nz/jaffa_race

http://www.cadburyworld.co.nz/

The Sounds, New Zealand

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The Sounds, New Zealand

As the ship slowly enters, an early morning mist engulfs the top of the mountains of Milford Sound, requiring a game of hide and seek in order to observe the waiting glaciers. Seals laze in coves, enjoying their view of the Voyager. Whilst the banks are teeming with birds as they seek an early morning appetizer.
Pass through the Milford and onto the Dusky and Doubtful Sounds to continue gazing at the picturesque scenery.

May the Travel-Bug be with you……

Los Angeles & Anaheim

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Los Angeles & Anaheim

Boasting two of the most visited amusement parks in the world, Anaheim is a much anticipated destination for families.

Race through the entrance to Disneyland, and enter the magical kingdom. The aroma of caramel popcorn wafts in the breeze and children’s laughter rings in your ears. Venture into Fantasy Land, the segment of Disneyland devoted to fantasy. Appreciate attractions such as the ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Boutique’, the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride and ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Castle’.

Roam into Tomorrow Land to experience the segment of Disneyland dedicated the future. Enjoy rides such as Space Mountain, Star Tours and Astro Orbiter. Catch the Disneyland monorail or railroad from this segment.

Make your way to Adventure Land to experience rides such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, explore Tarzan’s Tree House or simply relax on the Jungle Cruise.

Stroll into Frontier Land and be astounded by the country action. Be wary of the two cowboys having a shootout on the verandah of ‘Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque’! Climb onto the Big Thunder Ranch roller-coaster and take a journey into mine shafts, pitch black caverns and the rocky desert. Board the ‘Mark Twain Riverboat’ to observe Frontier Land whilst cruising around the ‘Rivers of America’.

If you’re feeling like getting wet, find Critter Country, where you can board a log and zoom down a flume from a tremendous height.

For younger children, go to Mickey’s Toon Town, where they can explore Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Tree House, ride on Gadget’s Go Coaster or travel through Mickey’s house and even meet the mouse himself! Celebrate the success of all things Disney by watching the renowned Parade. Witness beloved Disney characters dancing and singing to their favourite tunes.

Journey over to California Adventure Land for some more fun.

Catapult up ‘California Screamin’, the tallest rollercoaster in the Northern Hemisphere. View the park at colossal heights while anticipating the moment the coaster will plunge downwards.

For a true Californian experience, head to ‘Soarin ’Over California’. Relax while seated in comfortable chairs before you’re unexpectedly elevated upwards. Let your feet dangle as you go on a simulated flight over California. Observe California’s most famous man-made and natural wonders and inhale the many different aromas as you travel over this breathtaking State.

Hop on board Mickey’s Fun Wheel – this structure is not your average ferris wheel as some carriages actually swing during their journey. To complete your time in the Magic Kingdoms, witness a truly spectacular water show at night, titled “Wonderful World of Color”. Enjoy watching bursts of water create scenes from treasured Disney films accompanied by music.

After bidding farewell to Anaheim, hire a car and travel to Los Angeles for your brush with fame. Purchase a VIP Pass to Warner Brother Studios for a fabulous tour. Witness the street where LMFAO filmed their smash hit, Party Rock Anthem. View the set of successful TV Series, Friends, as seen in the last season. Enter the prop house, where directors are able to choose props for their movies. On my visit to Warner Brothers, I was lucky enough to see the whiteboard used in the TV Series, Revenge, a chandelier used in Pirates of the Caribbean and even Simon Baker himself, Australian star of The Mentalist.

Travel to Universal Studios to experience high thrill rides and wonderful tours. A Fast Pass is certainly worth the money. Instead of waiting in line for hours, you are permitted to cut straight to the front, it saves lots of time! Venture to Amity Bay for your encounter with that infamous shark, Jaws. Nibble on your nails while waiting in line for the rollercoaster, Revenge of the Mummy. It is titled scariest indoor rollercoaster in the world! Join a tour and learn some of the tricks to filming movies by experiencing the heat of cars blowing up and flash flooding in seconds. If you’re fortunate enough, your tour guide might drive you past a scene being shot!

Amble through the Star Walk, a street occupied with pink stars dedicated to important people such as Whoopi Goldberg and Kermit the Frog (he is incredibly important)! With more stars then you can imagine, finding a specific person (or frog), is exceedingly difficult!
Take pleasure in observing the different handprints and footprints celebrities have. Admire these imprints just outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Some interesting ones to hunt for is C3PO’s and R2D2’s footprints! You’ll also notice the Friends casts and the Harry Potter casts.

Enjoy your brush with fame…… whether it’s an actual person, Disney Character or just an imprint, they ALL count!

May the Travel-Bug be with you…….

Things to do and places to visit:

Disneyland and California Adventure Land = http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com/
Universal Studios = http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com
Warner Brother Studios = http://vipstudiotour.warnerbros.com
Star Walk = http://www.seeing-stars.com/immortalized/walkoffame.shtml

Paris, France

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Paris, France

With its grand monuments, elegant cathedrals and exquisite cuisine, it’s no wonder the fetching city of Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world.

Meander yourself up the spiralling staircase of the Eiffel Tower or, if you prefer, use the aid of the elevator.   Either way, you will ultimately find yourself soaring above the sprawling city of Paris, the capital of France.  Sublime sceneries render your jaw to drop and your eyes to widen.   Famous for its flawless panoramas and colossal height, the Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’s most visited attractions.

Only a short stroll away is a remarkable restaurant titled ‘Relais de La Tour’, meaning Relay of the Tower, in English.  Its cuisine is mouth-watering and its service pleasurable.   Two flamboyant waiters, Patrick and Rafik, portray the characteristics of typical French men.  Their persistent smiles and enjoyable conversations make for a superb dining experience.

When travelling with children in Paris, Euro Disney is a much anticipated location.   With its entertaining rides, remarkable parades and groovy cafés and restaurants, Euro Disney is a satisfying site to keep both children and parents content.  From exploring Tarzan’s Tree house to screaming on a rollercoaster, Euro Disney has something suited for everyone.   Make a memory by witnessing the illustrious Disney Parade, where beloved Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Mary Poppins and Ariel can be spotted singing and dancing to their favourite music.  While making your way to the next ride, you may notice Disney characters roaming around the amusement park.  Be sure to ask for an autograph or photo with them.

Wander up to Sacré Coeur, a church dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus, to view the city from towering heights.  The impeccable landscape seen from this historic structure is just a little taste of this minor basilica.  Travelling on, you’ll find various souvenir shops, art studios and cafés.  Sacré Coeur is also well known for its blissful crêpes.   Artists frequently plead to sketch a portrait of you whilst you sit outside a charming café, sipping coffee. 

 May the Travel – Bug be with you…….

Things to do and Places to visit:

The Eiffel Tower = http://www.eiffel-tower.com/
Euro Disney = http://international.disneylandparis.com/index.xhtml
Sacré Coeur = http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/us/index.html
The Louvre = http://www.louvre.fr/en
Relais de La Tour = 27 Avenue de la Bourdonnais

London, England

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London, England

Perhaps it was just because of the upcoming 2012 Olympics that the city of London was bustling with tourists. But something tells me it’s a little bit more…..

Portobello Road, Portobello Road,
street where the riches of ages are stowed.
Anything and everything a chap can unload,
is sold off the barrow at Portobello Road.
You’ll find what you want at the Portobello Road.

You may recognise these lyrics from the popular film ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’. The lyrics speak for themselves. Keen bargain hunters, both locals and tourists, lurk around Portobello Road. Anything from earrings to antique sewing machines is available for purchase at Portobello Road!

If you’re looking for a more tasteful experience, visit a rather unique store in Leicester Square. Everyone’s heard of M&Ms, but what about a whole store dedicated to them? London’s Leicester Square has done just that! In London’s 4-story M&M World, there’s more than just candy. You’ll find merchandise such as chess sets, kitchenware, clothing, jewellery, clothes and glassware. Located at the back of the building is a humungous wall of chocolate where you are able to create your own M&Ms selection from over 100 choices!

For a more historical feel, I would recommend visiting the Tower of London. In the early 1080s, William the Conqueror began building a stone tower at the centre of his London fortress at Tower Hill. Through the centuries, other monarchs have added to the reinforcement of the tower and left us with a wonderful historical precinct. The Crown Jewels can be viewed here. It is also said that the ghost of Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s second wife) loiters around the Tower of London, as she was executed in this fine structure.

Finding a restaurant in London isn’t testing, as there is a multitude of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste around every corner. One restaurant I would recommend is Garfunkel’s. It was at this restaurant that my parents shared their first date when they lived in London, in 1994. Seventeen years later (2011), they accompanied my sister and I to that same place. Garfunkel’s menu includes something for everyone. Not only do they include London classics on their menu, but fabulous cuisine from all over the world. A Garfunkel’s Banana Split is a ‘must-have dessert’!

For something a little fancier, visit Fortnum & Masons. I adore this place as it consists of several different restaurants of such diversity. These are, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, The Fountain, The Gallery, The Parlour and 1707. What is now known as The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was undergoing renovations when I visited, however, on 1 March 2012, the restaurant was opened by Her Majesty the Queen accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge. The Parlour, located on the first floor, is a favourite of mine. It allows you to indulge in sublime sorbets and incredible ice-cream. Their well-known hot chocolate is a winner in many eyes. Made by one of the greatest chocolatiers in the world, it sure makes for a mouth-watering experience. For customers that prefer savoury over sweet, The Parlour’s special sandwich is always available.

For the vast majority of travellers that visit London, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard is on their list of things to do. This was the same for my family and I. We found this ceremony anything but great. My family and I arrived 30-40 minutes early, yet we still barely caught a glimpse of any of it. As you would most likely have your back pack with you carrying valuables like cameras, it’s quite risky due to the large amount of pickpockets lurking about. I would certainly recommend rubbing this off your to-do list!

There are lots of things that London is famous for: films, celebrities, history, shopping etc. But sitting quite high on that list would be musicals. For a great bargain, head straight to the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square. You may have to line up for a while but it’s well worth it. The two musicals I viewed were ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Jersey Boys’. The Phantom was remarkable. The singing was fantastic as well as the instrumentals and acting – certainly my favourite musical of all time! Jersey Boys was impressive; however, I wouldn’t recommend it to children due to numerous scenes with coarse language. The songs were lively though and got the audience pumped.

The laughter of both children and parents rings through your ears as you enter Hamleys, the finest toy store in the world. From stuffed toys to magic tricks, Hamleys features everything you want. Staff are willing to do your nails with their special nail polish or let you paint just to lure you into buying their merchandise. With several floors of fun, hours can be spent looking at everything in Hamleys!

The iconic London double-decker bus is a great way to see the city. Who could come to London and not ride one? These buses stop at many of the sites I have been writing about, and often give you some tips on what to do and see at your location.

So, I guess there is something more to the reason London is bustling, not just the coming of the Olympics…. after all, who wouldn’t want to visit such a magnificent city?

May the Travel – Bug be with you…….

Things to do and Places to visit:

Westminster Abbey = http://www.westminster-abbey.org/
Garfunkel’s = http://www.garfunkels.co.uk/
Harrods = http://www.harrods.com/
M&Ms World = http://www.mymms.com/merchandise/
Hamleys = http://www.hamleys.com/
Fortnum & Masons = http://www.fortnumandmason.com/
London Eye = http://www.londoneye.com/
Half-Price Ticket Booth = http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/buy-tickets/tkts/