Friday, 12 May 2017

The 7 most annoying things in hotel rooms and how to fix them!

I have had a tough week - I admit it. It has left me tired, grumpy and irritable. For a long time I have had a list swirling around in my brain of all the advice I would like to give to all the hotel managers of all the hotels we have, or will in the future, ever stay in. Over three decades of travel, David and I have stayed in hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand, hotels, B&Bs and self-catering cottages. They have ranged from 1-star, budget accommodation to 5-star luxury retreats. Some could only be described as rat-infested, flea pits. Others were so lovely I had to be pried out the door when it came time to leave.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Is QANTAS Premium Economy Worth the Extra Cost?

QANTAS Premium Economy
During the many, many years David and I wandered the globe with our two sons, we would sit in the back of aeroplanes fantasising about the years ahead when, no longer needing to buy four airline tickets for every trip, we might be able to afford to travel in comfort in the pointy end of the aeroplane. Naively, we imagined the cost of four tickets in economy class would be about equal to two in business class - premium economy had not yet been invented.

Friday, 28 April 2017

13 tips to make flying easier - or how to survive a long haul flight without going nuts!

Aeroplane wing
David and I live in Australia and David loves to travel.  Australia is that big island at the bottom of the globe which is literally thousands of miles from everywhere. As a result we spend a lot of time on aeroplanes. Even on domestic trips we can easily spend five hours on a plane - and don't get me started about how long it takes to get to Europe, America or Asia. If time sitting in a tin can in the sky can make you an expert, then we are world experts on flying.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Two Weeks in Western Australia: A road trip itinerary through the south-west corner of Australia

Albany cycle path
West Australians are different. They live in one of the most remote corners of the planet. Their capital, Perth, has a reputation for being the most isolated city in the world. It is 41 hours from Sydney by car, much of it across the barren and unrelenting desert of the Nullabor Plain, 4 hours by aeroplane, 184 hours by bicycle and, for anyone crazy enough to walk, 741 hours on foot.  Even Adelaide, the nearest city of more than a million people is a colossal 2,691 km away. Travel to Western Australia ('W.A') from anywhere on earth and you will have undertaken an epic journey before you even get there. That is why I love it!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Cycling in Hawke's Bay: The Wineries Ride

winery cycling

Location - Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Distance -  33 km round trip.
Terrain - Flat, easy, crushed limestone path. Separated cycle path for most of the way, except Oak Avenue (Ormond Rd) and Omahu Rd (shortcut only).
Difficulty - Easy
Highlights - Lunch in the sunshine at one of the wineries.
Map and website - Download the Hawke's Bay Trails Map here.



Friday, 7 April 2017

Cycling in Hawke's Bay: From the National Aquarium of New Zealand to Bay View.

If New Zealand has a leisure cycling nirvana, Hawke's Bay is it. In a region with a warm, sunny, Mediterranean climate, lovely scenery and lots of things to do on those essential rest days, there are over 200 km of easy year-round cycling trails. Hawke's Bay encompassing the towns of Napier, Hastings and Havelock North in the North Island, is the perfect destination if you have never cycled on a holiday before and want to give it a go. None of the trails take more than a few hours and you will never be far from civilisation.

Download a copy of the Hawke's Bay Trails Brochure from hawkesbaynz.com or nzcycletrail.com, or pick up a copy from an i-SITE & Visitor Information Centre, grab a bike and go!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Vivid Sydney: A festival of light you shouldn't miss!

Vivid Sydney
I love festivals. Even so, it took me a while to get into Vivid. 'Lights shining on buildings' - how exciting could that be? As it turns out - really exciting, especially when one of those buildings is the spectacular Sydney Opera House! Vivid Sydney is in its ninth year. For the first five or so of those years I couldn't be bothered making the effort to drag myself into town to see it. It is only a twenty minute train trip from where I live, but Vivid is on in late autumn. It is cold and dark! I am not a great fan of either. A few years ago a family event forced me into the city purely by chance during the Vivid festival. Since I was there anyway I dragged David into town too, organised dinner in the city with number one son, dug my overcoat and winter boots out of the back of the wardrobe and set off to find out what all the Vivid fuss was about.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, Napier New Zealand

Have I told you I love street art? Ever since David and I stumbled across the Open Air Museum in Valparaiso, Chile, I have been a street art addict, tracking it down wherever we go. Napier, it turns out, is a street art addict's idea of heaven.

In March 2016, Napier hosted the Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans public art project in New Zealand. In collaboration with the PangeaSeed Foundation, Napier City Council brought 30 national and international artists to the city to transform 29 blank walls into stunning works of art. In keeping with PangeaSeed's mission to educate and inform on oceanic environmental issues, the murals draw on the theme of threats to the health of the world's oceans. In February 2017, when we visited Napier, the murals looked as fresh and bright as though they were painted yesterday.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Cycling in Auckland: Was it worth all the hassle?

Cycling in Auckland
If you read my post a few weeks ago titled A Cyclist's Lament: Welcome to New Zealand you will know that our New Zealand trip got off to a rocky start. Why was I not surprised? The last time we flew our bikes to the Land of the Long White Cloud we struggled to get them through quarantine. You can read the saga here - Life in the Slow Lane: Welcome to New Zealand. The time before that, our troubles began at Sydney airport. You can read that story at  - Queenstown and the Flying Bicycles - or why you should never fly with a bike!

Friday, 10 March 2017

From Disaster to Art Deco in Napier, New Zealand: How an earthquake shaped the city.

Art Deco Napier
At 10.47 in the morning on 3 February 1931 disaster struck the city of Napier in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. For two and a half minutes the ground convulsed; heaving upward, pausing for a moment, then slamming back to earth.  Buildings swayed, collapsed and disintegrated. Gas mains burst, fires began and terrified residents ran out into the streets only to be killed by a deluge of brick and masonry. This was New Zealand's deadliest earthquake. When it was over, 256 people were dead and Napier was all but destroyed.

When the city was rebuilt, Art Deco was all the fashion and the inhabitants set about making their home a showcase of architectural design. Today, Napier boasts one of the finest concentrations of Art Deco style anywhere in the world.