Sunday, November 16, 2014

Route 66 - USA

The Place: From New Orleans, we flew to Phoenix to begin a road trip up to San Fransico, via the old Route 66, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Yosemite.
Highlights: Travelling the old Route 66 is like going nowhere slowly, just for the fun of it. We came across road stop diners, low riding Harley's, James Dean cut-outs, Western town facades, Aliens, Elvises, Hollywood icons, walking travellers, American flags, and pretty much any celebration of American culture.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New Orleans - USA

(July 2014) The Place: There is a house in New Orleans... and there are some funky streets, restaurants and jazz clubs too! We had a brief but awesome visit of the city's colourful, festive and crazy French Quarter which sits right on the Mississippi in Louisiana.
Highlights: The food was delicious, mainly Bayou style consisting of Gumbo, Jumbalaya, Shrimp, and Crawfish (yes, with a 'w'), and Chilli Sauces of all descriptions! Just off famous Bourbon Street, which following hurricane Katrina is slightly on the dodge side, is Frenchmen St. where we were lucky enough to watch some authentic jazz, including Washboard Chaz at The Spotted Cat. Also soaked in the art and colour and stories of the french quarter which included the haunted 'La Maison LaLaurie'.

New York - USA

(July 2014) The Place: Having had a great time in upstate New York (near Port Jervis) for Stuart and Amanda's wedding, we (Liz, Tim and I) headed down to the Big Apple for 5 days.
Some highlights: Meeting Michelle, Timon and their two kids at a New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins baseball game, followed by watching the World Cup final (Germany Argentina) within the Mets Stadium and watching the Americans get loose. Michelle took us out to a Broadway show to watch 'Kinky Boots' (2013's Tony's winner) which was brilliant! Straight afterwards we met Stuanda and co. in an Irish pub in Times Square which was yet another great catch-up. To top the night off, we hopped in a cab and headed for a midnight galavant up the Empire State Building with no queues, and apparently 'No visibility!' but we still got some good intermittent views between passing clouds and a great view of the iconic Chrysler building from above. The days followed with touring both the City and Central Park on bicyles, checking out the Italian quarter and Chinatown, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, getting the free trip to and from Statten Island for a view of the Statue of Liberty, visiting the Ground Zero memorial, and strolling through the city's streets; 5th, Broadway, Lexington, Wall Street, to name a few.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Tasmania - Australia

The Place: Off the mainland of Australia, we took a drive from Hobart through the centre of Tassie, via Queenstown to spend a long weekend in Burnie. The scenic drive took us about 8 hours via some very different Aussie landscape including vast lakes and snowy mountains. On the way back to Hobart we headed via 'the Nut' (last pic) to spend a night and then onwards to Cradle mountain for a hike down to the lake. We missed a view of the mountain due to overcast conditions, however were rewarded with some amazing wombat and wallaby spotting. We must've seen about 50 wombats in the space of a few hours of walking, most were pretty active, some running alongside us.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Wilson's Promontory - Australia

The Place: Liz and I spent a weekend camping at Tidal River, on Wilsons Prom, which is the southernmost point of Aus, along with Kate, Leigh and friends.
Some features: There were quite a few surfers on the trip so it was great to head out for three epic surf sessions on what I would call pretty big waves (compared with Muizenberg which is my modest benchmark as a novice). The campsite was in an awesome location, and we were well set up Aussie style with a big tarp for shelter from rain, portable gas cookers and big eskies to keep the beers cool. To be noted as well were that at least 3 of our party owned campervans, equipped with bed and abundant storage space for tools and surfboards. In the early eve, we would see one of the resident wombats patrolling the grounds for food. They were really cool to see, like little bears strolling around with their really big, hard backsides which they apparently stick out at the entrance of their burrows as protection from intruders. Another friendly visitor to the campsite was the crimson rosella which perched on my hand to have a little snack.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Whitsundays - Australia

The Place: For our honeymoon we took a trip to Airlie Beach to stay at a nice little place overlooking the sea and the Whitsunday islands from high up on a hillside.
Some features: We were visited daily by one or more cockatoos looking for a snack or two. Spent a day heading out to the islands for some snorkelling and to see one of the beautiful white beaches, Whitehaven, which instead of having sand, is made up of a very fine white silica. We relaxed at the  'Lagoon' on Airlie Beach which is essentially a massive swimming pool right on the beach front. Our few days of relaxing at the sea was exactly what was needed after a few busy weeks of planning our wedding and relocating to Australia. It was bliss!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Canyoning - South Wales

The Event: Took to the waters (as part of my Bachelors weekend) in South Wales to do some Canyoning which involves jumping into currents, floating down rapids, walking under waterfalls and jumping off waterfalls. It was awesome.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dublin - Ireland

The Place: Toured Dublin on the hop-on hop-off bus, starting at the large spike, which replaces an old statue of Nelson (Battle of Trafalgar) - removed after Ireland gained independence from England because he had no real links with Ireland. We passed the statue of local Irish political hero Daniel O'Connel, which happens to be Liz' great great grandfather. A bullet hole from 1916 can be seen in the breast of one of the surrounding statues, see 3rd from top. We passed  some impressive old buildings including Trinity College and St Patricks Cathedral, a park which celebrated Oscar Wilde with a statue, and a statue of Molly Malone, a peasant woman well known in Irish folk songs for selling her 'Cockles and Muscles' from a wheelbarrow. A good end to the tour was arriving at the Guiness factory which takes you up 7 floors explaining the unique brewing method and family history, and finishes with a free Guiness on the top floor with a panoramic view of Dublin from above. An interesting fact is that the harp, which is the Irish political symbol, is used as the Guiness logo, except it faces the opposite direction so as not to infringe on trademarks (see 3rd & 4th pic).
We were lucky to be in Dublin on a day when the 'Tall Ships' had arrived in Dublins harbour. There were numerous stalls and small festivities along the row of these olden day sailing ships, which were all competitors in a race from A Caruna (Spain) to Dublin.
Following the recommendation of our cab driver from the airport,  we ate lunch at a great spot called the Brazenhead. In the evening we wondered around the area of Temple Bar and, avoiding the really busy bars, stopped in at an old pub where we were lucky enough to get some real traditional Irish music played by Bill and Shaky (Padraig O'Neill) on guitar and fiddle. Their album 'Cobblestones and Brittle Bones' became the theme music on our River Shannon boat trip beginning the following day.