Travel Tips – Greek Islands

Can you imagine anything more relaxing than spending two weeks travelling the Greek Islands?

We arrived to Athens late in the evening & made our way to our Airbnb in the main tourist area of Plaka. Here we spent two very hot Summer days & nights roaming the ancient streets and checking out the Acropolis & Parthenon. There are plenty of shops, restaurants & rooftop bars with beautiful views of the vast city. One of the bars with the best view would have to be Point A.

From Athens, we made our way by plane to the beautiful island of Milos. Here we stayed in Pollonia and spent our days exploring the many cliff jumps and swimming spots hidden around the coastline. I had never seen water as crystal clear in my life! We jumped on a boat tour around the island and loved every minute of it.

From Milos we hopped on a ferry to the Island of Ios. Ios was full of Australians and is known for it’s raging nightlife. After three nights of Espresso Martinis & Mythos Beer we were very happy to arrive to the beautiful island of Santorini. In Santorini we stayed in Firostefani which was perfect for restaurants and a view of the famous sunset. The best way to explore the island is by scooter or quad-bike. There are various beaches to visit – black beach, red beach, Kamari beach. However the best swimming spot in all of Santorini would have to be off the rocks at the base of the cliffs of Oia at Amouddi Bay. Another must see is a visit to Santo Wines, a beautiful winery perched at the top of the cliff overlooking the sea. Taste a dozen of their delicious wines paired with some typical Greek antipasto – YUM!

Travel Tips – Fiji

BULA! Well… Fiji was on my wife’s bucket list – not mine. But our recent trip there left me a touch more than pleasantly surprised. We decided on travel in October out of school holiday time to be more cost effective. After an obscenely early Sydney departure to Nadi with connecting mini bus then catamaran – we arrived at Plantation Island Resort.

With mixed reviews prior to booking here, we were blown away with the idyllic destination perfect for our young family. We splurged on a Beachfront Bure and it was worth every cent to walk out the front door onto the unbearably white sand, with two perfectly aligned palm trees and a swinging hammock. Two more steps and you were in the warm, clear blue water with fabulous snorkelling only metres from the shore. Our children were often found collecting coconuts, chasing hermit crabs and feeding the tropical fish.

We hired bright yellow retro Bula Bikes which were a fun family activity and easy transportation around the island. The children attended Kids Club when the activities suited their interest – tie dye tshirts and coconut boat making were a hit. They also loved the inflatable water park while we enjoyed the sailboats, kayaks and paddle boarding on offer. We had a breakfast and dinner buffet  package and all loved trying new cultured food and island inspired delicacies. The Coco Hut also provided us with a delectable coffee each morning while the kids slurped up fresh coconut water.

We had a day trip to Cloud 9 which is an adults only floating pontoon with snorkelling, sunbathing, music, bar and wood fire pizza on offer. All in all – this holiday represented tropical bliss with a fabulous mix of relaxation and adventure. I highly recommend it! Thank you (or should I say VINAKA?)

Travel Tips – Northern Italy

Lake Como
Arguably one of the most beautiful & famous areas in Italy. Hop in a boat or take the Brunate funicular to enjoy the view of this majestic lake.

Milan
One of Italy’s largest cities renowned for it’s food, culture, architecture and (of course) shopping! The gothic Duomo is a must see!

Cinque Terre
Possibly my most favourite place in the world! The Cinque Terre has it all: delicious food, beautiful hiking trails and all the houses are a sea of colour against the backdrop of the Ligurian sea! The region is famous for being the birthplace of Pesto – so make sure you order a pesto pasta. 

Bologna
Home of the delicious Bolognese sauce, beautiful baroque/gothic architecture. Make sure you walk up the two towers of Bologna (stay anywhere close to this area) for the most amazing view of the city. And as always, eat lots of pasta!

Verona
Such a beautiful city! Made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Verona has a wonderful amount of charming piazza’s & squares to explore. Make the small hike up to Piazzale Castel San Pietro for the most beautiful view of the city.

Venice
It is nice to just walk around the canals & alleys & look in the many shops. Try & book your accommodation close to Piazza San Marco or the Rialto Bridge, it is easy to get lost but do not worry – Venice isn’t too big. Venice isn’t particularly known for its food & it is very touristy. Try not to spend more than 10/12EUR max on a pasta at a restaurant. Visit the island of Murano (famous for its glass) or Burano.

Trains in Italy do not always run on time but they are very fast & the easiest way to get from place to place. Book tickets through www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com
When you’re hiring a car make sure you check out: http://www.travelsupermarket.com

Travel Tips – Northern Territory with Mitch

Earlier in 2017 my partner and I travelled to the Northern Territory for two weeks of road tripping with another couple. We hired a 4wd from Darwin and set our sights a few thousand kilometres away in The Kimberley, along the rough and spectacular Gibb River Road.

I had never been further north than the Sunshine Coast nor further west than Moree. I don’t think I was alone having not travelled much in my native country and when I arrived in Darwin it felt like I had left Australia and was in another place. Perhaps it was because of the time taken to get to Darwin or maybe because of the extreme difference in heat and humidity. Darwin itself is a thriving, relaxed low-rise city. The coastline is basically all beautiful green space that overlooks turquoise water and offers a relieving cool breeze. This is where we spent our first evening sitting on a picnic rug sipping beers and watching the sunset. Sadly, we could not venture into the inviting water for a dip for fear of saltwater crocodiles.

Our road trip first took us south to the Litchfield National Park and to the small town of Adelaide River. Both were great icons of Australian bush and hospitality as we swam in water holes and camped at a farm station. Adelaide River has a surprising history as a World War 2 airfield and we joined thousands of people from all over the NT who gathered there for ANZAC Day.

We then headed south and west, for about 15 hours to the junction town of Kununurra. Here is one on of the best Aboriginal Art Galleries in the country and we spent many hours looking through amazing paintings from local artists. The landscape that surrounds Kununurra is nothing like I have ever seen, particularly on the east coast of Australia, or “where the sun comes up” as a few locals referred to it as.

We ventured south to the Purnululu National Park and started an overnight hike through the most amazing rock and valley formations that I have ever seen or imagined, called the Bungle Bungles. We walked for six hours into a valley that was created entirely from bee-hive like sandstone mounds that swept up the valley walls for hundreds of meters and filled your view in every direction. The whole time we walked, we saw no other people and camped on the sand next to a waterhole where it seemed as though you could see every star in the sky. I don’t think I have ever been somewhere quite so remote, so wild or so spectacular.

We reached the Gibb River Road 9 days after leaving Darwin (a few of those days filled with simply driving!) and enjoyed four relaxing days at an enormous station called El Questro. This station is used in the wet season as a working farm with thousands of cattle and as a tourist hub in the dry. We were lucky enough to arrive not long after the rain had subsided and so enjoyed many beautiful waterfalls amidst red rock valleys. There are also a number of running rivers where we tried our best to catch Barramundi – with no luck. The scenery was incredible and totally foreign to the Australian landscape familiar to me. I cannot wait to go back!

Travel Tips – New Zealand with Will

New Zealand is an adventurers paradise. The best way to experience the amazing wilderness and spectacular landscape of New Zealand is via one of their famous Great Walks. The NZ Department of Conservation (DoC) manage and maintain New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. The “walks” are premier tracks that pass through diverse and spectacular scenery. From native forests, lakes and rivers to rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges and vast valleys…there’s a Great Walk for everyone! Great Walks tracks are well formed and easy to follow. While most people prefer to explore on their own terms, guided trips offer a bit more comfort. Great Walks are accessible from major towns that are well serviced by local operators and accommodation and transport providers.

The Great Walks are:

  • Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • Heaphy Track
  • Kepler Track
  • Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
  • Milford Track
  • Rakiura Track
  • Routeburn Track
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit

 

Happy walking!

Travel Tips – Florence Italy

During 2013 & 2014 Ruth spent 4 months travelling around the beautiful country of Italy. It is without a doubt her favourite place to visit, with everything from food, wine, art history and more. The first rule of thumb for anyone when they arrive in a new city is to WALK. Spend a day or two walking around the city centre & visiting gardens & galleries.

Florence

View from our Airbnb overlooking the Arno & Ponte Vecchio

Must see:

– Ponte Vecchio
– Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
– The Duomo
– Best view in Florence from Giardino Bardini
– Uffizi Gallery (birth of Venus is absolutely breathtaking)
– Hire a car/join a tour & drive through Chianti wine region
Chianti – plenty of wineries to see, make sure you visit:
Casa Sola for some really delicious wine & just down the road is San Donato, a little village that has the best pizzeria in Italy, Palazzo PretorioMake sure you order one of the Italian beers on the menu to go with your pizza.