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

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Why I love short trips and oysters

Last Thursday my loving husband and I waved goodbye to our four teens and my slightly worried looking parents, as we screeched off down the South Coast, we headed to Merimbula which is a around 4.5 hours from our home or six hours from Sydney which is heaps better known than sleepy Gerringong ( that’s for the two followers I have that aren’t family, close friends and live overseas!)
It is always incredibly exciting for any parents to be given a leave pass for the weekend and we had more than just a weekend we had three nights and four whole days. Of course I was so excited I began taking selfies with Mark before we’d even left the driveway, which my ever patient hubby smiled through.

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Then we were off! It was a great trip down with only one child in the car (me) we could indulge my every whim….it’s was awesome. We toilet stopped in some petrol station before Batemans Bay and I bought us both a gourmet ice cream, so much more affordable buying two extravagantly overpriced ice creams rather than six! By the way you must get a connoisseur icecream if you see them. The Murry River salted caramel with macadamias covered in rich chocolate is to die for! It is worth the $3.80 in fact I’d pay more.

Next stop was lunch in our Favourite south coast town, Narooma. We bought half a kilo of Crystal bay prawns and six local oysters for me……that was the start of me overindulging in oysters for the ENTIRE trip. Mark was thrilled with my oyster fetish as he’d heard their affrodisiac qualities could have a powerful effect on libido (that’s another story).

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After a completely enjoyable drive down the south coast, passing picturesque towns like Bermagui and Bega we arrived in Merimbula and checked into our modest but very convenient Comfort Inn. By this stage I was starving again and worse, thirsty! We quickly found a charming cafe/ brasserie on the waterfront and ordered food and a bottle of wine. It’s called the Waterfront Cafe and truly should be tried. Sitting on the promenade with lovely water views and friendly service.

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After rehydration was complete we met up with our charming friends and proceeded to have a rather fun, boozy, foody and relaxing weekend away. Highlights were the seafood ( particularly the oysters ) that is so so fresh and local, as well as the picturesque beauty of the area in general. Mark was singing the praises of the whale museum in Eden so we dutifully went. Valya and I were a trifle dubious but it was a lovely drive and rather interesting to hear about the whaling industry that was once upon a time the main financial boon of Eden. Thank goodness it is no longer! Below is me being thrilled to be inside a whale jaw….

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I love exploring towns, villages that are within a reasonable distance from home, it makes traveling so much more accessible and easy. Don’t discount Merimbula as a fine place for a quick get away with a seafood theme. Below are a few shots of the lovely bay in Merimbula and some decadent desserts sampled over the weekend!

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Here’s to romantic weekends away and the joys of oysters……..

Bike riding in Ubud – Claire Style

Most people who know me know that I’m not exactly a sporty sort. I like mild action – you know a leisurely stroll ending in a coffee and lunch. I enjoy exertion like shopping, snacking, more shopping, lunching, bit more shopping, high tea…you get my drift.

In saying that I do exercise regularly because I believe in a healthy body, healthy mind ( or something) plus in todays world you would need to be a hermit from Mount Hua, China not to be completely paranoid and brainwashed about diet, exercise and lifestyle – I mean when did having a donut become tantamount to a cocaine habit?

I digress.

What I did do whilst enjoying the charms of the Balinese culture recently is organize the family to go on a Bike tour of rural Bali from Ubud. We were all excited to do this and it turned out to be a fantastic day, we rode through some gorgeous places and got to visit a local families compound and see how they live. Our guides Gede and Made were so friendly and helpful from the Banyan Tree Bike Tours

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That’s a photo of the six of us pre bike ride. We were taken to a restaurant with stunning views for breakfast before our ride through the rice paddies…..

What I did discover is that I really am a lame bike rider! I was terrified in parts,particularly the riding through rice paddies down a narrow dirt track with soggy rice plants either side to fall in. One of the lovely guides stayed with me at the back of the pack and offered encouragement and tried to make me feel normal……It was clear I’m in no way normal when it comes to off road bike riding, in saying that I did complete the whole 40kms and felt rather cuffed at the end.

As a family activity I can highly recommend it, seriously it was quite easy. Below are some photos, I’ve put in a couple of me looking like a total errrmmm (trying to think of a nice word for ‘tragic’) nah tragic is perfect. Note to self – safety helmets really can and should be removed prior to photo shoots at rest points!!!

On the road…

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Watermelon pit stop…

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Yes I’m the special one on the end with the helmet!

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At the end we enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch at the owners home. More lovely memories made, you really can’t beat that…

Bali for me

Seriously, is there anywhere I don’t like?

I’m even starting to bore myself. Traveling in a group with my husband and children and friends I realized something….I’m easily pleased.

That’s a good thing right?

I’m enjoying my last day in Bali poolside at Alam Shanti in Ubud, the sun is shining, water glistening and my skin is tingling all over from yet another bloody good vacation.

This is my second trip to Bali in 18 months and it just gets better with each visit in my opinion.

I absolutely love Ubud, next time Mark and I have already investigated staying in Ubud for two weeks in a lovely, simple villa for as little as $45 USD a night people!! It’s not fancy but it has aircon , a pool and breakfast included……..

Ubud has a vibe and feel I like, even though I live on the coast I’m not a ocean going girly, in fact I rarely swim in the ocean (maybe once a year if I’m honest) I’m not comfortable in that environment. My brain is constantly imagining unseen creatures waiting to latch on to my lilly white skin and either sting or take a chunk of it for lunch. So I can never truly enjoy the benefits of sea swimming…

Ubud is fun, rural, not too far from everything and has soul. I get why people come here to find themselves, getting lost at Yoga or meditation retreats. I understand why some people come here and never leave, it has a vibe that screams renewal, revival and creativity. The locals are so friendly and will gladly show you where they live and how they live for little if anything in return. We visited a local compound (this basically means Home for more than one family, although all related) of one family and I sat in the kitchen with the grandmother watching her cook. Just so you know these kitchen are crazy hot, I must have shed a kilo in water just being there for ten minutes. Below are a few photos I wanted to share…

Little old me poolside at Alam Shanti

Mean poolside at Alam Shanti

Sitting on some steps at the palace in Ubud, contemplating deep thoughts like……is it too early for my first Sangria??

Palace in Ubud

This was our bedroom in the villa at Alam Shanti, this one is called Indus and was stunning.

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Turns out turning 40 wasn’t so bad after all!

Highlights on the Voyager of the Seas

Trying to go through the highlights of our recent cruise to New Zealand in my head and its hard to pick one. It was a different and unusual form of travel for me, the times lazing around the Solarium pool deck with a sweet cocktail and my book for company were golden. Then again I couldn’t wait to disembark when we got to port, explore a new city, visit a winery, try a local treat. I always got back on board wishing I’d had a little longer in each port and vowing to return.
Highlights for me were probably more of the land experiences to be honest…..
Waking up in Milford Sounds on day 6 was just amazing, and we had a blissfully rare day of clear skies, no rain or fog – which my mother reminded me for only the 500th time was no accident as she’d pre ordered it – I’m not sure who she pre-orders this kind of thing from btw, apparently she has some direct line to the weather gods and can control such things because they’re such pals! If that’s the case then she turned it on this day for sure.
I can prove it was lovely below, first one has Charlotte in it my youngest daughter, this was one of the brief moments we saw her on the 14 day voyage…..

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So that’s the proof I was there. What stood out other than how stunning the sounds are, was the size of The Voyager in them, goodness me I’m pretty sure that if I was in a regular little ferry or row boat I would have been jaw-droppingly (that is a word and I don’t care what spell check thinks) amazed at the size of the Sounds. As it was in The Voyager it’s like yeah they could be big but up here on the 14th deck of this floating city who’d know? You really can get King of the Castle syndrome ( not sure if that’s a real, certified but I think I got it) – Oh hello little boats and shippy things one day when you grow up you might be as big as me.
Or maybe that’s just me!

But you see what I mean right,

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There’s the Voyager of the Seas making Hobart look like a small country town. Oh wait, Hobart is a small country town – still, Voyager is owning that port!

I spent way too much time waving like Her Royal Highness at tiny vessels with tiny people waving at the big ship – that was definitely a highlight.

This is where I liked to hang out the most onboard,

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I put that photo of Mark in because he was who I liked to hang out with in the solarium, or anywhere really.

Next post I’m going to address whether or not travel in close proximity with 3,500 other tourist’s is a good idea. I will have for and against points and also a little look at what it was like traveling with Mark’s family and my parents (I’m of the medication now and my therapist thinks it would be healthy to share – just kidding, it wasn’t that bad!!)

Until next time.

Renewal and Reconnecting…

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There are times in life when you just need to get away from the everydayness of everyday. It hits you at the end of another busy term of school and work. Life has wrapped you up in its tendrils and you realise that last time you had a proper conversation with those you love the most was just too long ago for your liking.

This is when I love nothing better than picking up my family and taking them away from the madness of everyday to a place where it is just US! Where there is no mobile reception, no wifi, no pay TV or distractions that our world is full of.

Where do we go…..

Well for us it’s Tilba , a sleepy old miners village set about 2kms back from the ocean on the NSW south coast. Its nestled at the base of Gulaga (Mt Dromedary), with its majestic peaks, walking tracks and giant boulders it has dropped all over the land like the God’s had a game of marbles.

Tilba camp fire time Afternoons are spent building fires in the bbq and outdoor fire pit. Then we chat, play music, roast marshmallows, burn things……

IMG_1669Great place to be creative, Hunter looking for photo ops..
This cabin is my home away from homeThis is one of the four cabins available, we always rent 2 so the teens have their own crash pad and we can spread ourselves out. They are really very reasonably priced particularly out of season.
IMG_1786This is the leaning dining room where we cook our dinner of BBQ marinated prawns and oysters  fresh of the oyster traps in nearby Narooma

IMG_1738These pretty flowers were snapped rather beautifully by the amazing Mark in the picturesque township of Central Tilba.IMG_1708Charlotte and I enjoying cuddles at Tilba.Original Homestead at Breaside

The lovely couple who own Braeside Farm Cabins, have a big history here. Ron was raised in this original homestead and later built a large home for himself and his wife Tralee. They then built four one bedroom cabins at the back of the property, which they rent out to lucky tourists. IMG_1977The girls and I waiting for the fur seals to say hello in Narooma. The seals hang about along with the Manta rays waiting for the fishermen to throw out the fish guts. IMG_1967Here’s one being friendly… IMG_1982Mark and I love the Eurobodalla on the South Coast. Narooma is a sleepy little fishing village a twenty minute drive to Tilba. We always stop here for groceries on our way through and we always come down to this bay for a walk to the break wall and to look out for the seals and rays.

So when you want to reconnect with your children and life in general, I suggest finding a place that evokes good times and memories. It need not cost much, it doesn’t have to be fancy…. just a place that recharges your batteries and allows you to think clearly and breath deeply.

 

The Highs and Lows of Review Reading

Is anyone else obsessed with reading reviews about places they’re about to visit?

Well it seems I am and I’m over it!

Seriously I’m a review-aholic and I’m sick of myself.

Oh it’s all rainbows and dolphins when the reviews are glowing, I’m patting myself on the back, high-fiving my cleverness at picking such a great hotel or destination. Dreaming about the buffet breakfast described in fastidious detail by some tourist who just couldn’t wait to tell the world how bloody great those waffles were that they ate every day! I Imagine myself sitting in the cocktail bar sipping a Mojito laughing with Rob the barman that PCrider78 (fictional reviewer name) wrote is ‘the world’s friendliest barman, man we stayed until after closing every night and just rocked on with Rocketman Rob!!” . So I’m all excited about getting down at Rob’s bar, laughing raucously, throwing back shots etc…….

Then a bad review shows its ugly face and suddenly all the sunshine is sucked out of the building and I’m left heart broke that I’ve possibly just spent thousands of dollars on the HOLIDAY FROM HELL!!!!!

I’m plunged into a depression that my holiday might quite possibly suck eggs. Because WhinyWendy54  (again, fictional) has ruined everyone’s fun by declaring that not only are the staff discourteous, dirty and ugly to look at but the food is enough to make you throw up just by its smell and the wine glasses look like they’ve been washed in a cows water tub….

Sob*

Is it too late for a refund?

Lucky I’m fickle because when I check again the next day for oh only the sixth billionth time, my little heart erupts with joy because lo and behold there’s a new review by cupcakecrazy85  (I’m getting good at this) and they have just been to nirvana and back and if they were told they had only three days left on the earth they would choose to spend it at this place………AMEN!

So I’m having a break from reviews for my own psychological health.

wierd thing is I write reviews!

Anyhoo I’ll be Travel Tipping tomorrow and it will be a cautionary tip. Can you guess what about?

Claire

 

 

Lately…..

Time sometimes moves so quickly it almost stands still. I haven’t posted in a while due to well…..life!

I have still been thinking travel, breathing travel and planning travel. Happy to say I have finally completed the online modules of my travel course and now only have the facilitated learning part in Sydney for two weeks in January. I have recommitted to the Galileo online coursework! While I’m only up to lesson eight of twenty four, I’m confident I shall get there……one day.

The next six weeks are very busy for our family. The eldest duckling departs for France to her new home for eight weeks,Bois-Guillame in the Normandy region on the river Seine. Finally she has her host family and the excitement is sky high for Miss A. I’m also very excited and worry I may feel rather sad at the departure gate at Mascot airport in a couple of weeks when only one of us gets to proceed through and the other (being me!!) has to stay behind forlornly waving.

Still I look forward to her return and the tales she will tell. She is also equipped with a snazzy new camera that I hope will enable me to share some of her journey on here.

Then I have the long awaited cruise fast approaching. Well that’s easy I shall get on board and my plan is to chill completely, renew, relax and review the year that was whilst enjoying the sumptuous treats of a floating city. I may exercise in that time just a little to ensure my three R’s don’t result in more flabby bits and self hatred on my return to home.

After returning a new woman prepared to tackle 2013 with renewed vigor I dive into my two weeks of training in Sydney. Then what? I’ll figure that out on the way, perhaps a travel job shall arise that suits, if not I shall continue as I have.

Keeping a firm eye on turning 40 in the first quarter of the year and with my delicious husband giving my a wonderful gift of a trip to Bali with all four of our teenage misfits in tow and my dearest friend and her delightful crew also along for the ride – I certainly am spoilt and know it!

That trip to Bali will be the last one in which the whole of our children are present. Miss A and Mr H are almost 18 and will begin their own travel adventures I hope. Thankfully we have been able to give our children a small taste of the world and I truly hope they continue to enjoy exploring the globe with out us.

That’s all I wanted to say and I will be posting more diligently soon. I have some great photos of the south coast of NSW where I live to share with you …..

Bye for now
X

Sweet Sydney

Last Friday I was up at 4:30am bleary eyed, packed an ready for a weekend in my sweet Sydney. Mark had a seminar in the city so I dropped him at 8:30am and by 9 am I had checked in to The Westin in the old GPO building and had a whole two full days of parenting- free fun ahead of me.

The folks at The Westin are always so very friendly and helpful. The lovely French accented concierge took my luggage and assured me they’d be in my room on my return.

Ahhhh……
By 9:30am I was strolling up Martin Place ready to explore, explore, explore.

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The GPO side of The Westin facing Martin Place.

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I wandered around the Mint where we Aussies used to make money!

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This is The Strand Arcade, both ends of the arcade start with fantastic chocolate shops, gotta love that…

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The clock tower on the GPO building, this view is from our room on the twenty four floor. The best room I’ve ever had at the Westin had us eye-balling that clock face.

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The room! Taken from the bathroom there is this cool glass window that brings the bathroom into the living space. Of course there’s a screen for those that prefer privacy.

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Mark enjoying his buffet breakfast…….lucky we walked for 4 hours straight after our morning pigout!

Below are a few shots of the happy wanderers around The Rocks, our historic harbour town.

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Wanted to go to the Discovery Museum in the Rocks to see some history of the early colonization days of Sydney. Great museum incorporates the aboriginal history beautifully with the English history.Love the cute lampshades dangling on the walk to the museum.

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When you walk around the rocks area and get to the water, everywhere you look there are great buildings

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On the Saturday night we went to our fave restaurant, Pendolino’s a fantastic Italian restaurant in the Strand. This time was even better as I had a voucher because they were unable to honor a earlier booking we made! Man we went to town, Degustation here we come.

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Okay this photo does not do this dish justice! It is quite honesty ORGASMIC…..it’s their homemade ravioli stuffed with peas and cheeses and drizzled in burnt butter and crispy little sage leaves. It is worth going to this restaurant for this alone. I usually get this in main size, I love it and demand that everyone who ever goes to Pendolino’s get it! In fact because Mark and I had matching wines with our 6 courses we started advising our neighbors to order it!! Embarrassing…..

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And just when you think you can’t fit another thing in that mouth of yours…..WRONG! This honey nougat icescream is the best!EVER! Just go Please, I beg you.

So thanks Sydney for once again showing your sweet side and making this little gypsy one happy mummy
Love you
Xxx