Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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Aloha! We arrived home from Hawaii late Friday night and – miracle of miracles – I had finished editing the photos by the end of the weekend.

Here’s a little virtual escape for you if you’re at work or in the middle of a dreary day as it is here.

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We stayed at these condos found on airbnb. In all there were 11 of us split over two condos – The Man & I, his parents, brother and sister-in-law in one and in the other my parents, brother and sister-in-law and their little bub (who of course got more attention than everyone else combined).

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We stayed on Kauai which is a less populated and popular island – perfect as we wanted a relaxed holiday with plenty of natural sights. We did a ton of swimming and snorkelling at various beautiful beaches and the condo pools – bliss!

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Around an open-air museum at an old plantation town.

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Since part of the purpose of our trip was to celebrate The Man’s and my 30th (the other part being to meet up with my brother’s family who live in the US) we had a special dinner at the nearby Hilton restaurant. ‘Floating’ on a koi pond and with a waterfall backdrop, it really was spectacular (and the food lived up to the setting!).

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The Man and I usually try to make our travel budget far by mostly doing free/inexpensive activities like walks, museums and outdoor sights. This time, we splurged on a helicopter flight (we needed four choppers to fit the whole family!) and it was worth every cent with view like these…

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To see the amazing and varied landscape of the entire island from the air was a totally unique experience. The photos make it look very serene when in actual fact it was noisy and windy as all hell, moreso than a usual helicopter flight as we’d opted to fly with the doors off!

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One of the days we went on a hike through one of the national parks. The walk itself was not too bad (probably the most challenging one we’ve done but nothing we couldn’t handle) however it was incredibly muddy and slippery which meant every step could be your last before ending up covered head-to-toe in mud.

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Not a bad spot to wash off the mud and sweat.

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Recovering on the beach after the walk ;)

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One night we went to a luau. I wasn’t sure what to expect (someone else did the research) and I must admit I was getting concerned at the gigantic hall with all-you-can-eat buffet. Thankfully, after the feeding frenzy we were led to an amphitheatre for a dance performance.

It definitely included more cheese than the buffet, but it was still a very entertaining performance.

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For the day in Honolulu on the way home we headed to Pearl Harbor. We had tickets out to the USS Arizona memorial but unfortunately they closed it five minutes before our tour due to high wind. Still, the rest of the tour was very moving and the exhibits were well done.

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Submarines? Totally on trend. Hex tile, industrial lighting and storage, mixed metals, label plates, typewriters, US Navy chairs…

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We ended our trip with a lovely evening at Waikiki with my in-laws whose stopover coincided with ours.

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It was unlike any other trip we had done before. Not only was it our first tropical holiday together, but we went with a huge family group. It was so much fun and everyone got along really well. And I got to meet my adorable baby nephew!

The Man and I share photography on our trips so mucho cred to him for a bunch of these shots. 

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organised toiletries case

I was lucky enough to get a couple of the big things on my birthday wish list earlier in the year (including the lens and adorable handbag) – hooray! I was still really keen on the Apple & Bee toiletries case and decided to splurge and buy it for myself recently.

organised toiletries case

I had a not very feminine camping-store style case before that. I loved how it had a hook so it could be hung somewhere even in the most cramped hotel bathrooms.

What I didn’t love though, was that it didn’t quite fit everything in it. Even with the bare essentials of makeup items, I would struggle to get the zip closed and would have to pack another pouch for larger items such as hairspray.

I thought about it for months because it wasn’t cheap, but in the end I decided to go for it since it was the only case that met all my criteria after a lot of searching.

The Carry-all Traveller lives up to its name and I can fit EVERYTHING in it – including makeup, hairstyling gear and perfume – and has the nifty hook. As you can imagine it is quite a bulky piece, but I now don’t have to have several different pouches floating around in my suitcase and spread out around a hotel room.

organised toiletries case

Here are my tips for packing a travel toiletries case:

  • Pare back your makeup
    When I’m at home I’ll vary up my eyeshadow colours and such but when travelling I’ll usually only take one of each item (although I admit I stash another couple of lippies in my handbag). Choose more streamlined versions of your regular products, for example I use a stick blusher which doesn’t need a brush (I normally take pressed powder for the same reason but I just ran out so on our last trip I had to pack my bulky loose powder and brush). Non-essential items like bronzer and primer don’t make the cut at all.
  • Streamline your routine
    Similarly, simplify your other products to save space. For example, I take a single lotion for both hands and body, only one moisturiser (instead of one for day and another for night) and a razor instead of my usual epilator. Especially if you’re only going for a short time, you won’t miss the full kit & caboodle.
  • Keep a second set of everything 
    Instead of packing my toiletries case from scratch before each trip, I actually keep a second set of almost everything in there so I’m ready to go and won’t forget things. It sounds extravagant, but most essentials such as shampoo, body wash and toothbrushes, are cheap and longlasting. If you’re anything like me, you may already have a stash of gift-with-purchase samples and other spares.
  • Don’t take more than you need
    If you only need a couple of weeks’ worth of supplies, don’t pack a one-litre body lotion or huge hairspray. I prefer buying travel sized products for convenience but decanting into plain bottles will be cheaper.

What are your tips for packing toiletries?

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Doubtful Sound

Please excuse the radio silence recently – my computer died on me the other day which as you can imagine is a bit of a disaster when you run a blog and a graphic design business! I ordered a new one but I wanted it custom configured so I have to wait for it to arrive. Boo.

Thankfully The Man lent me his laptop (I declared him my Knight with Shining Hardware) but with all the workarounds and file transfers everything is taking three times as long as normal.

The timing could not have been worse: I had an epic amount of work to get tied up before I go on leave and was already having a bit of a panic attack about how I was going to do everything! In fact I still have a list as long as my arm and we leave tomorrow… oh and did I mention I haven’t even thought about packing?! (My Type-A tendencies are not used to this level of last-minute chaos!)

Anyway, all that aside, I am SUPER excited to be heading off to that beautiful place in the picture. Well, sort of: that’s a photo of the South Island of New Zealand from our honeymoon and we’re going to the North Island, specifically Hamilton (for The Man’s work conference) Auckland and the Bay of Islands region.

I haven’t had any time off since January and have been working long hours lately so I know it will be really good for me. I’ve got a couple of guest posts that will be scheduled while I’m gone but for the most part I’ll be taking a much-needed blog break.

I’ll see you back here in two weeks!

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road trip 03

Last week marked ten years since The Man first bought me a cocktail. (Where has the time gone?!)

We don’t normally celebrate our anniversary of being together now that we’re married but we figured ten years was something. And hey, any excuse to get out of town for a weekend, right?

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In rather good timing, I had just picked up a (brand new!!) Ford Focus Titanium through the Voices of 2013 blogger Choose Your Own Adventure series. After I got a quick lesson about all the bells and whistles from the guys at Jarvis Ford, we packed our bags and headed off for a little weekend getaway in the Adelaide Hills.

(Not with the caravan above, mind you, that was just an irresistibly hipster photo to introduce the post.)

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We started off the Saturday with a leisurely breakfast at The White House (my eggs benedict with salmon were amaaazing).

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We stayed in the beautiful town of Hahndorf, an old German settlement. It was freezing (okay, not as freezing as when we were actually in Germany six months ago) but we enjoyed wandering around for the rest of the morning.

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(Scoring sweet parks like these using the automatic park assist means more time to eat cheese.)

We hung out for the rest of the afternoon at a couple of cute wineries we’d never been to before for some obligatory wine tasting. A car with automatic wipers and a log fire = winter essentials.

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The next morning we headed a bit further afield. We were able to enjoy the beautiful views even more thanks to the sat nav. It was so nice to just be able to relax, enjoy the journey and chat to each other without worrying about directions.

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Nothing beats breakfast of a  bacon and egg roll at a country market.

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It was so much fun zipping around the countryside in this baby.

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We spent some time in lovely Strathalbyn, famous for its antique shops. I am even getting The Man interested in antiques!

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After that we enjoyed a wine and chocolate pairing (divine!) and some more gorgeous views.

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When you need a break it’s easy to think you need a big (read: expensive) holiday. But sometimes throwing your overnight bag in the boot and getting out of town for a couple of days is all you need. In our case we were not too far from home but felt like we were a world away.

We had a wonderful time exploring the beauty of our own backyard. So relaxing! We definitely need to do it more often.

Tell me, what are your road trip essentials?

Disclosure: Ford has provided me with a car for six weeks to write about my experience. Opinions are my own.

Why-don't-you-be-a-tourist-in-your-own-town

It’s no secret that The Man and I love to travel. But when we’re daydreaming about our next adventure, it’s easy to forget that we live in a beautiful part of the world with plenty to do and see.

Even if you don’t book any overnight accommodation, simply have a day or two out enjoying the museums, art galleries, beaches, landscapes and restaurants that your area has to offer. Just make sure you’ve done all your household chores during the week so you can completely relax and get that holiday at home feeling.

This is exactly what The Man and I are doing this weekend. We’re heading up to the beautiful Adelaide Hills for a relaxing couple of days to celebrate our ten years (!!) together.

Enjoy your weekend, too, friends!

So this weekend, why don’t you be a tourist in your own town?

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San Francisco Muir Woods

Yowza, well that was an EPIC series. That took me long enough and I still have to put together our album – eek!

Here’s a quick summary of the links:

Day 1 & 2: San Francisco

Day 3: San Francisco

Day 4: San Francisco

Day 5: San Francisco

Day 6: Napa Valley

Day 7: Napa Valley

Day 8 & 9: San Francisco

Day 10: San Francisco & surrounds

Day 11: San Francisco

Day 12: San Francisco

Day 14: London

Day 15: London

Day 16: London

Day 17 & 18: Berlin

Day 19: Berlin

Day 20 & 21: Dresden

Day 21 & 22: Prague

Day 23 & 24: Prague & Pilsen

Day 25: Cesky Krumlov

Day 26 & 27: Vienna

Day 28: Vienna

Day 29: Wels

Day 29: Salzburg

Day 30: Salzburg

Day 31: Innsbruck

Day 32 & 33: Dachau & Neuschwanstein

Day 34 & 35: Heidelberg

Day 36: Munich

Thanks so much for indulging me over the past few weeks. I’ve enjoyed sharing our travels with you but I’m looking forward to getting back into my regular content this afternoon.

I’ve got lots of fun things lined up for you, including new columns, themed months and easy projects. *Rubs hands together in glee* Can’t wait!

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Heidelberg

We left The Man’s family and took off to the beautiful university town of Heidelberg. Most of these photos are of the semi-ruined castle.

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Can you believe this is a model?!

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There was a small museum on the history of pharmacy, including this fabulous turn-of-the-century shop fitout.

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We had our last dinner at a restaurant that served 100 different types of schnitzel!

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Dachau

After our time in Austria and Czech it was time to head back into Germany, this time in the south.

After a homecooked lunch and catch up with The Man’s uncle (who lives in a town outside Munich) we made our way to Dachau, the location of one of the Holocaust’s most horrific death camps.

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We walked there from the train – not realising how far it was and that there was a bus – but it actually made the deepened the experience as we followed the journey of the prisoners’ arrival.

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“Work sets you free.”

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The bitter cold and bleak sky seemed appropriate for this awful place.

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(I have to admit I was tempted to brighten up these photos so they looked nicer but it was actually nearing dusk while we were there so I kept them realistic.)

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Words cannot describe the chilling experience of visiting the crematorium.

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After our gut-wrenching sightseeing, we relaxed with another lovely homecooked meal, this time joined by The Man’s uncle’s niece and her husband (who all live in the house above). The niece and husband have excellent English, the uncle only a little, while The Man has good German and I have zilch. But we got by with a lot of bilingual talking and a lot of hand gestures.

The Man hadn’t seen his uncle since he was a boy and neither of us had met the niece, but they were so warm and friendly and their hospitality was embarrassingly good.

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They were kind enough to drive us out to Neuschwanstein Castle a couple of hours away. I had been there as a kid (in summer) and it was just as magical.

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We were at the top of the mountain waiting for our guided tour to start, when we heard our names being called out. It was a guy and a girl we went to school with! Totally bizarre.

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On the way back, we stopped off at one of the couple’s favourite churches. It was very strange to see such an impressive church in what was essentially the middle of nowhere.

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It was definitely a couple of days of opposites – both memorable in different ways.

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Innsbruck

We arrived in Innsbruck late at night and went straight to our hotel so we didn’t get a great sense of the city to begin with. Then we awoke to this view (above) from our hotel window. Wow!

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We were on the opposite side of the river to the main town (closer to the ski slopes) but it was a beautiful walk so we didn’t mind at all.

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Just for a change – ahem – we went to an Imperial Palace (we were on first name terms with Maria Theresia & co by this stage). Apart from the usual things you’d find in a royal residence, they also had a great display of the furniture through the ages and showed how they were actually constructed.

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My 10am instant coffee just isn’t the same now that I’ve experienced Austrian hot drinks like this amaaaazing hot chocolate. I still have no idea how I managed to not put on any weight with how we were eating and drinking!

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The Man kept threatening me with a snow fight but thankfully I always had the convenient excuse that he couldn’t throw snow at me while I was holding the camera.

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Dear old men, you know they make small chess sets so you don’t have to play OUTSIDE IN THE FREEZING BLOODY COLD?

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I’ve never got the whole moustache fad, but I had to admit this made me laugh.

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Innsbruck

There were plenty of galleries to choose from, but we felt we’d already covered a lot of 17th-20th century oil painting. So we ditched the idea of the fine art museum and instead went to the Volkskunst (Folk Art) Museum.

It was fascinating and well-presented. They even had entire rooms reconstructed to show how regular people would have lived (quite the contrast to the Hofburg Palace as you can imagine!).

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Goodnight, Innsbruck!

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Salzburg

I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world right now but today’s photos might make you feel a little chilly!

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Pre-school children tobogganing - cutest thing ever.

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As you can tell by the volume of photos, we couldn’t get enough of the Mirabell Palace Gardens.

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Our main activity of the day was a visit to the Fortress, which this guy is looking up to.

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Salzburg

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We found the entrance to the funicular (hillside cable car) but it was closed due to the snow!

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Salzburg

Salzburg

It was not an easy walk, but thankfully the view was so beautiful I’m actually glad we weren’t able to take the funicular. Plus, it was probably good to work off some of the schnitzels and wine.

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Salzburg

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Salzburg

Sorry for the epic amount of photos – I couldn’t decide!

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As well as the normal fortress exhibitions there was a also marionette museum which was quite cute.

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Salzburg

Salzburg

Salzburg

After a more leisurely walk back down the hill, we treated ourselves to some shopping. Actually we mostly bought gifts for our family but it was still great fun.

My face lit up when I saw this shop consisting entirely of Christmas decorations!

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Salzburg

…and this other store window featuring a giant Missoni ‘A’!

Next up, we head to Innsbruck.

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