Fun Friday 

Yay team! Friday has arrived again, you made it. 

What do you have planned this weekend? 

Bush walking, beach, picnic, a nice cafe with a view for lunch? 

Ahh those Friday possibilities are endless…….

My suggestion is, hop in the car and come visit  Gerringong ! It’s so pretty this time of year and not far from Sydney……..

   
    
 
Just an idea
Peace 

Claire xo

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Mystery Hotels…should you, shouldn’t you?

Has anyone tried the Mystery Hotel Experience?

I have, a few times and I have to say…

it ain’t bad but you have to understand a few key things to make it work and I will share these tips with you…..for free

First of all I know two travel sites that offer them, last minute and Wotif, I’ve used both and they seem pretty comparable. There are possibly more out there that do them, I don’t know of them though.

Secondly if you are flexible, not wanting a particular hotel and like surprises, this might work for you.

In my opinion they’re great for a weekend getaway to a city because it’s easy to work out what type of hotel you might get and also the location you will be in. Please do not make the mistake of thinking you can guess the hotel because you can’t. I know this because when I do it I always play this little game where I think I know what the hotel will be…..and it never is that hotel!  Which is fine for me because I don’t really care, it’s just a silly game I play. If you did care, you may be disappointed…that’s all.

Firstly when you are doing your search in (for example) – Sydney, work out what star level you want. I usually do 5 star and eliminate the rest  (choose the stars that suit your budget). Then choose the area of the city you would like to stay in, for us this is around the historical part of the city (which is close to Circular Quay and The Rocks). That way you guarentee getting a place that is 5 star and in a great location.

CBD of Sydney

CBD of Sydney = Great Location

Now keep in mind there are usually only one or two maximum that are in the mystery selection for 5 star and NO you are not definitely going to be put in the Park Hyatt (definitely not)…

BUT…

You will be put in a pretty swanky, centrally located 5 star hotel and you will make pretty decent savings compared to the normal rates on offer. The best I’ve had so far has been the Radisson Blu in Sydney, it is such a lovely hotel and the rooms are pretty sweeet (see link above).

Another thing to remember is you do not find out the name of the hotel until you PAY the money then they immediately send you a confirmation email with the name and address of the hotel on the itinerary. Before purchase you can see all the facilities on offer of the Mystery Hotel, if it has a pool, parking, restaurants, bars, concierge services etc and a general location map.

Don’t worry, you won’t get this:

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Crappy Hotel

But you also won’t get this:

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Super Amazing Out of this World Hotel

You’ll probably get something like this:

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Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney

Which is quite lovely and convenient and nice.

We have booked one for this weekend and made about a 25% saving. It’s the           Amora Hotel Jamison and looks like this:

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Not too shabby

Not too shabby

So I say you SHOULD give it go, if saving a little money and surprises are your thing then I think you will enjoy the experience.

I will let you know how the Amora goes ; )

Peace

Claire

Favourite Quotes

Good morning,

Wet, windy, overcast days are seeing me retreat inside to focus on things closer to home. I’ve been working from home the last two days and also studying so I don’t forget everything I learnt about nursing while waiting for my registration – it’s possible!

I thought I’d share some of my favourite quotes with you,

just because…..I’m nice like that:

 

“I will dare to just do what I do. Be just what I am and dance whenever I want.”
-Beverly Williams

“All good things are wild, and free.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
— C.S. Lewis

 

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I hope you have a magnificent day and enjoy whatever it is you are doing.

Peace

Claire

 

 

 

Winter Warmers..

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Winter is that time when the mind arches towards tropical fantasies, laying in deck chairs feeling the sun prickle and steam our skin until we can bear it no longer and we must ease the heat by lowering into the refreshing coolness of the water…..

It’s the time when you cosy inside and flick through ideas of summery getaways, where can we escape to for a few days warmth? Where can we go that only sandals are needed, or even better – bare feet on sun kissed sand?

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The imaginings of coconut water, mangoes, barbecued meat, chilled drinks and afternoon sea breezes carry us through the colder months.

Here’s to summertime trips, getaways and adventures…….

Peace and love xo

Sunrises and Study

 
It’s true I haven’t posted in a while and I only have one excuse (me), so that will need to suffice! In my defense I have been having loads of existential issues which is both time consuming and it turns out expensive also. The short story is I have devoted a good portion of this year to getting my nursing registration back and continue in the profession I began many moons ago! 

This post is not really a travel post, rather an appreciatation post. 

I have spent the last 5 weeks completing part 1 of getting my registration back, which involves a 5 week block of study at the Australian College of Nursing in Burwood ( a mere two hour drive from my little sea cottage). 

Thanks to the generosity of friends of ours (you know who you are ; ) I was able to stay in Abbotsford (a mere 20min bus trip to the college) in a gorgeous waterfront apartment! 

I know right? How’d I get so lucky? Well sometimes you come across people who have the ability of sharing what they have in a spirit that is selfless and true, they can transcend ego allowing others to benefit from their hard work and prosperity. I’m so incredibly grateful because it has made my study and seclusion from home and family so much easier to bear. I mean look at that sunrise above! 

I also have woken up to this………

   

Pretty nice huh? 

I never knew Abbotsford was so lovely! 

So while we get caught up in the nitty gritty of  everyday, I’m taking time out to think of those people in our lives who are special and do things that make us smile on the inside.  I’m blessed because I have many in mine and I thank God everyday for them. 
Thank you Greg and Paula xo

Top Ten Travel Destinations in 2015

Who knows where they are travelling to in 2015?

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Well thanks to Lonely Planet we know where is HOT in 2015……

First is Singapore……..well if you are Australian, it’s one of the most popular stopover cities on route to Europe and it has plenty going for it in 2015. Namely that it celebrates 50 years of Independence. So Singapore is putting on a party, its going to have fun festivities dotted throughout the year and it starts on New Years Eve 2014 with spectacular fireworks and light shows….I’m talking big and bold peoples. Singapore has loads going on all year, every year like…….a great noodle market, some high end shopping areas, Iconic Hotels and a pretty diverse range of tourist attractions.

The other countries are as follows some sound appealing and others I have never really considered before but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be seen…….

Namibia – Touted as having the most stunning landscapes in Africa and the place to see  huge sand dunes,  wild animals and African Culture in all it’s glory. Why not?

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photo by bestravel.com

Lithuania – For a mythical Baltic theme and as much ancient christianity history you can handle!

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Nicaragua – Spunky Latin vibes with a great coastal theme. Perfect for those that have been most places and are looking to shake it up next year!

 

 

 

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Photo by visitnicaragua.us

 

Ireland – Pretty, musical Ireland, Blarney Stone kissing, urban spots with loads of atmosphere, haunting history with stunning landscapes plus the whole pub scene – what else does one need?

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photo by cellar tours.com

 

Republic of Congo – Africa is becoming big on peoples travel lists, although this country seems an unusual choice as the north is a little troubled with lots of warnings to stay away. It does have amazing treks though and if you’ve always wanted to Gorilla in the Mist it, then this place is probably right up your alley. 

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Photo by beautyof-theworld.com

 

Serbia – Simply stunning architecture combined with gorgeous countryside and a good dose of Eastern European style plus that Mediterranean climate.

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 Phillippines – Few know the hidden paradise that awaits in this part of the world. Offers all the beauty, beachy, over water lagoony stuff that The Maldives, Tahiti claim for far less moola $$$. 

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St Lucia – Well the Caribbean is always on the list and St Lucia is one of the better islands to partake of some Reggae and jerk chicken! Plus, amazing landscape!!

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photo by socialphy.com

Morocco – sigh*  #mustdo. This place has a lot going for it and I’m talking great medieval history to food to shopping to hotels!! And then you have the landscape…..If you’ve ever considered a Small Group Tour I would recommend it for this destination as you will get a lot more out of the experience. A local tour guide will really open your eyes and hearts to Morocco.

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Turkey – always been popular but it is becoming THE place to go island hopping on a sail boat trip. Much more affordable and breathtakingly pretty…..plus Turkish Delight in much abundance!

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I have no idea how they come up with these lists, I guess it’s someones job to figure it out!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…..

Claire

 

Exploring Oahu

Mahalo

Aloha

Shaka

Gday….

This little Aussie / Pom is back from her favourite Island destination refreshed, renewed and resigned to the fact that she’ll never be able to afford a house in Kailua!

I can holiday there though….YAY!!

And I did, with my best friend and travel security guard (protects others from me more than protects me), Mark. We had fun visiting Hawaii without the tribe we call children. It was blissfully serene, we could eat when we liked, drink when we liked ,rest, shop, breath ……you get the drift?

FIRST HOLIDAY OVERSEAS WITHOUT THEM MIND YOU (pat on the back)

Enough of that, what did we do on this long awaited trip to tropical heaven….

Heaps…but I won’t tell you everything just my favourite bits for now…….

First photo is of the hugely popular Mai Tai……which it turns out I hated! I spent about $15 USD on that baby, had one sip, pulled a face and gave it to Mark ( he didn’t complain ) so with that little cliche done and dusted I moved on the gentler, sweeter beverages like vast quantities of Champagne and wine! Please don’t let me put you off Mai Tai’s,  every one else I speak to seems to love them so go for it and free tip you can get them for a dollar on the catamaran rides 5 metres from the bar I’m sitting in on the beach (their bright blue though)

 

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Being a TC (travel consultant) I wanted to do a couple of day tours that my customers might want to experience, so I did.

We did a City tour including the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour, very interesting  tour to do and it isn’t all day  either which is a bonus ( there’s only so long I like to be holed up in a bus). We used Enoa Tours and they were great  – our fearless leader Special K , apparently this is easier than the pronunciation of his name Kaneou (maybe)! Any way he was friendly, funny, informative, knew a heap of history, knew a great hot dog stand….all that stuff that makes a tour guide great.

Tip: Pay the $7 usd for the audio tour at Pearl Harbour it really is worth it and you get so much more out of the museums and memorial.

Your welcome.

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Go to Lanikai, go to Lanikai, go to Lanikai…..

I know I’m obsessed  with this place but truly if you are going to Oahu and not leaving Waikiki……YOU HAVE TO!

And that’s an order. Waikiki is not Hawaii – it is fun, has great shopping, has cheap cocktails (apparently), but it is not the true Hawaii.

 

To get a feel of it you need to go to the Windward side…..you know when you stand on Waikiki all sunburnt and sweaty, with your $1.00 Mai Tai in your slippery fist??? Well stand with your back to the water and look at that Jagged Green beauty of a Mountain Range called The Koolau range, well over the other side only a mere 20 minute drive in car or bus is the Windward side and here lives Lanikai…………..It is beautiful and is very near Kailua ( my other obsession) and has a perfect beach and amazing homes and super chill people  and shaved ice and and and…..just go!IMG_4168

What better why to get to the Windward side than hiring a Mustang convertable!!! Oh yeah very cool fun to be had if you hire one of these babies. We picked up this little sexy number really early from the Hertz rental at the Hyatt at Waikiki across the road from where we stayed and zoomed through the Koolau Range (there’s a tunnel for this purpose) ………

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and into the town centre of Kailua (angels sing) to Lanikai Juice (sunray bursts through the clouds) to get our most fave ever breakfast in the whole entire world……..Acai Amazon Bowls with the works!! Photo below so you get the idea #heaven. To explain in a nutshell click here , it’s faster.

Next we take off to Lanikai Beach (see photo above) for a swim in the gorgeous waters that gently lap the sandy white beach and for me to take photos of all the beach houses that I stalkerishly wish were my own…..Mark never questions me doing this so I believe it’s normal. It’s only when I come home and show my friends and they all question why I’m taking photos of homes I do not know the occupants of, that I wonder if it is normal?

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After our swim we head to our family – yep we have family in Hawaii (jealous much?)  one of our HAWAIIAN  (originally from Canada but with clever parents who moved to Hawaii) cousins  has a fiancé and this fiancé has an amazing wholesale botanicalbusiness in the most stunning location on the Hwy up to the North Shore. Nate (said fiancé ) quite wonderfully takes us on a tour of the beautiful nursery. He cuts down a coconut and shows us how to shuck it and crack it open….Yummo, you can’t get fresher than that!

It’s all very islandy and outdoorsy and I’m feeling quite wild and spontaneous slurping back the coconut water – loved it!

We drag ourself away and head to Waimea Bay this iconic 1950’s style beach town in the cosmic centre of all that is the North Shore. This is where we lunch (under cousins advice) at Haleiwa Joe’s and had the BEST CHICKEN WINGS ever………..So bloody good they put all other chicken wings to shame…..Go  there please! Oh and the waves are sick in winter for those that like surfing and not chicken wings.

This Photo is just down from Nate’s nursery and it is an example of how breathtakingly beautiful this part of Oahu is. Remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the dad and his two children are running down a valley with a dinosaur in chase….filmed it here!

It is stunning and  gets more stunning around every corner.  A drive up here is so worth it and you will want more once you have a taste.IMG_4193

Monk Seal having a rest on the beach, catching some rays I suppose…..she wouldn’t say why she was visiting (quite aloof)IMG_4294

The Koolau range is spectacular.IMG_4331

China Mans hat….Get it? IMG_4333Will be back soon with more ramblings and remember what Pooh Bear said

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Mahalo for reading my post – (such a local now)

 

5 Star and bang for buck!

Staying 5 star is affordable! Don’t scoff, it can be if you’re canny and do it right……
Most of us like the luxury, comfort, service and the facilities a 5 star resort will or should offer, so how do you make it worth the cost and even save a little?

Easy you read my post………

Most ( in fact I’d say all ) hotel chains have reward schemes these days and they are usually free to join….do so and they will offer you great discounts and even great bonuses like “priority checkin”, club access etc giving that little glam edge over the mere mortals standing in that long winding queue (the horror!!!)

Also when you are registering at checkin a great way to save some dough is to ask if there are any upgrades available….please don’t expect this for free, it can happen (a bit like finding a golden ticket in your Wonka bar can happen!) but rarely does. You might get a greatly reduced rate though, turning that teensy tiny City view room into a spacious Ocean view room for just a little extra!

Hot Tip Time

Ask about their Executive Club.

What is a this you ask and why would I want it?

Well you might not want it but bang for buck you can save money sometimes if you get a good deal. The Executive Club that 5 star hotels offer is a divine little enclave that you have private access to and will offer a deluxe continental breakfast, refreshments, plus in the evenings (perhaps from 5pm until 8pm) you get a great selection of hot and cold appetizers and all the wine and beer you can drink!

At the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki they have a fabulous Beach Club which offers all this and more. We got a discount at the desk for booking it there and it worked put at $50 USD a day for up to 2 adults and 2 children. It can actually save you quite a bit on breakfast and dinner costs. Alcohol in resorts and holiday destinations can be pricey, having a couple of wines and appetizers will decrease your need to buy more later. We found that the appetizers were more than enough on most evenings and we didn’t feel like dinner at all!

The Beach Club is also at the beach level allowing us to watch the glorious sunsets on Waikiki every evening sitting on a breezy verandah and sipping a cold glass of wine.

Below are a few photos of the Beach Club

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It’s food for thought, if you have a hankering to stay in a gorgeous resort on your next holiday it may be more achievable than you imagine.

Anyhow I’m off to enjoy the sunshine of Hawaii so…

Mahalo

Another reason to holiday more…

Sometimes life skips along in a pattern that is easy to understand and except. We get up, go to work, hug our kids, kiss our partners goodbye, enjoy our weekends, whinge about the tax bill, remind the kids to turn their lights off and drift through this life thinking all is sweet and all in all we have few real complaints.

Then out of the blue….BAM….. we get news that takes the wind out of our sails and the spark from our eye. We lose a loved one, someone we care about, someone we assumed would be around to hang out with you, laugh, drink, travel, chat with. Suddenly they no longer exist and you stop and in slow motion you see what really matters in this life, that its the relationships we share that count.

We lost a dear dear friend suddenly on Monday night the 10th of March and nothing will change that. He has left behind an amazing wife and two grown up children Lachlan and Shannon and a whole heap of people who just loved him because he was that guy that everyone loved to be around.

My husband and I spent tuesday with his distraught wife and family and the whole day I thought of Mark and all the happy times we had shared. I remembered his funny stories, our trips away together, the countless times they’d stayed at our house for Christmas, Easter, long weekend and all the fun we had.

Thats when I realised, LIFE IS SHORT and the good times are what we remember and what count. Doing what makes you truly happy and lights up your life is what matters. Mark died doing what truly made him happy and for that I’m so incredibly pleased.

09/08/1962 - 10/03/2014 RIP

09/08/1962 – 10/03/2014 RIP

Kailua and why it rocks

Have you ever been to place and felt a real heart connection?

37617_444286858453_3746137_nI have and it’s called Kailua. Kailua is on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, it’s a breezy, laid back coastal town that is on the Windward side of the island and about thirty minutes drive from the hype of Waikiki.

I can categorically state it is worth the visit when next you visit Hawaii.

So as a courtesy to you and your future trip to a little slice of heaven, I’ve put together 5 must do things while visiting.

1: Spend a day at Kailua Beach Park and simply enjoy the white sands, turquoise warm waters. The beach here is much quieter than the hustle and bustle of Waikiki and you will feel like a local

2. Grab lunch at the Kalapawai Market at the start of the Kailua Beach Park. Its a beachy casual feel store with a great lunch menu and wine bar, plus a general store where you can pick up all sorts of things.

3. You must indulge in a Acai (A-SIGH-EEE) Amazon Bowl from Lanikai Juice. An Acai Bowl is a delicious blended tasty combo of Acai berrys, banana, blueberries and apple juice (or soy milk for those inclined). Each bowl is topped with crunchy granola and banana slices. You can get extra toppings like local organic honey (my choice!) and they offer “gourmet bowls” with all kinds of yummy combinations to choose from. I love this place and could make it my breakfast every day if only…….

4. Stroll to Lanikai Beach and gaze out at the Lanikai Twin Islands. So so so beautiful and picturesque, the water is divine and the houses surrounding this area are amazing. Lanikai is in Kailua and while the beach isn’t as big as Kailua Beach it sure is dang pretty.

5. Go on a Food Tour of Kailua with Flavour of Hawaii. I must admit I haven’t done this myself yet! I’ve got it on “my must do tour list” for my upcoming trip in September this year. I’ve heard really positives about this tour and being lovers of food, I think Mark and I will really enjoy this. I will blog about it after the fact of course. They also do a Waikiki version which looks just as interesting.

Hope that gives anyone thinking of going to Kailua some helpful ideas. You won’t regret it that’s a promise.

Mahalo x