Liebstar Award Entry

Thanks to Tamz Explores for nominating me for the Liebstar Award.

My answers to your questions are:

  1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Pretty quickly- it’s my name and writing.

  1. Who or what inspired you to travel?

My parents took me traveling from the age of 6 months and so I was always going to be doomed to a life of wanderlust!

  1. What is that one country/city that you found the most fascinating and why?

India- it’s just so different to anywhere else.

  1. What has been the most memorable interaction with anybody during your travels?

It would have to be with all of those I interacted with during our wedding week in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

  1. Five things you would never travel without?

Camera, day bag, a good book, snacks and a sightseeing list.

  1. Where are you heading to next in 2016?

Off to the Gold Coast to take my daughter to the theme parks.

  1. What is the best food you have had on your travels?

I had the best gnocchi in Budapest.

  1. What is your worst travel memory?

Getting ripped off in a hammock shop in Merida.

  1. Three destinations you would definitely recommend to fellow travelers?

Mexico, New Zealand and Spain.

  1. Name three of your favorite travel bloggers.

Emily Luxton, Jetsetting Fools and Independent Travel Cats.

My nominated bloggers are:

  1. Emily Luxton Travels
  2. Jetsetting Fools
  3. Independent Travel Cats
  4. In Search Of
  5. Global Grasshopper
  6. I Will Travel
  7. Travelling King
  8. Flights and Frustration
  9. Venga, Vale, Vamos
  10. Borderlass
  11. Mallory On Travel

My questions to them are:

  1. How did you made the leap from recreational blogger to professional blogger?
  2. What is one of your most favourite places you have been?
  3. What is special about your hometown?
  4. Where do you see yourself living in 5 years?
  5. Can you imagine ever getting sick of travel?
  6. What is your favourite city?
  7. What is your favourite small town?
  8. Tell me about somewhere you travelled that was undiscovered at the time?
  9. What is your number one tip on travelling with kids?
  10. Where do you see the future of travel blogging heading?

Fiji, 2013

When my daughter was 4 months old, my husband found himself between jobs, so we decided to take a trip to Fiji.

The flight was easy as we had a cot for the little one, inadvertently leading to more legroom on the plane too.

We stayed at the Hilton at Denarau that had a couple of swimming pools overlooked by the breakfast restaurant. From our very comfortable villa we had a view of the beach and our daughter was a very happy baby in her second home with air conditioned controlled temperatures.

She also liked the mirrors in the fancy bathrooms, especially the looking glass; and the ground floor balcony area with comfortable couches that she could roll around on in the fresh air. We both enjoyed the hammock put up on two trees just out the back of the villa and the colourful flowers on the path to the restaurant.

At the restaurant, our daughter was a hit. We had not booked a babysitter, but as soon as we came down for a meal, she was whisked away by the hostess and taken to see the friendly kitchen staff. It was heaven to be able to enjoy a meal together and our daughter was always returned happier when we had finished eating.

She had her first swim ever in the kid’s pool. Unsure at first, our daughter grew to enjoy it over the course of the week. The weather wasn’t too hot, so we made use of the deck chair service for lunch times and it was a short easy walk back to the villa if we needed anything.

One day, we took a Baby Bjorn trip on the Bula bus to the port for a lovely seafood meal in a local café called Lulu’s. On another we took our daughter for her first swim at the beach, which she seemed to enjoy much more than the pool.

But the best part was the firelighters that ran by the room lighting torches at sunset. She just could not take her eyes off the flames.

After such stimulating days, our daughter was always easy to put to sleep so my husband and I really felt like we had a holiday ourselves as we enjoyed rest time in the evenings.

Before we were ready to leave, it was time to take the golf cart to the hotel lobby, check out and fly home. Back to the reality of a new job for my husband and no handy helpers at dinner time.

Related posts: Fiji, 2011, Fiji, 2008, It’s a South Pacific Thing

Marlborough to Akaroa, 2012

Before long, it was time to bid farewell to our New Zealand Sri Lankan family and catch the ferry back to Picton with no view of the Marlborough Sounds once again and a shared baby’s room with no private cabins. We didn’t realise just how spoilt we had been on our previous trip.

My husband and I decided to console ourselves with a rare couple of hours off from the newborn to sample some of the local Marlborough wines near the holiday park we were staying on river in Blenheim.

We started at Lawson’s Dry Hills, who suggested we visit a lovely new winery that I now see popping up in Australian bottle shops everywhere. Wither Hills had an undoubtedly modern cellar door and with old barrels for added character and a view of the vines to the hills.

The next day, we drove the East Coast to Kaikoura to see the seals. We didn’t have to look far as there was one lying in the car park in the sun when we arrived. We walked out onto the rocks and found a few bathing in and out of the beautiful healthy sea weedy water.

That night we stayed at Hamner Springs, a spa town in the hills. We visited the big water park with thermal springs the next day and soaked in the pine forest of the town.

Our final stop was Akaroa, one hour from Christchurch, for New Year’s Eve. Akaroa was a pretty little French inspired town and was my favourite place on the trip.

We stayed in a holiday park overlooking the town which had a comfy lounge building with TV. We walked down the hill into the town and discovered that a cruise ship had invaded for the day.

The French influence could be seen in the French bakeries, lovely heritage buildings and French signage that was dotted around the town. I bought some lovely earrings in a small gift shop and we walked out to the pier on harbour.

On New Year’s Eve we walked a little further to the lighthouse and had a yummy local seafood platter lunch. We were back in the van in time to see the lovely sunset. Our little family of three were all sleeping well before midnight, so tuckered out that not even fireworks hitting the van at midnight woke us up.

By the end of the trip, we had gotten used to our comfy little portable home and were sad to drop the campervan off in Christchurch before we boarded our plane home on New Years Day. New Zealand had turned out to be much more beautiful than I had imagined and I was so glad we had come.

Related posts: West Coast to Wellington, 2012, Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012, New Zealand, 2004

West Coast to Wellington, 2012

After Fox Glacier, my parents and I went for a walk around Lake Matheson which is meant to show a reflection of Mt Cook in the right conditions, which we did not have. Even so, we enjoyed the rainforest walk to the lake while my husband stayed in the café with our sleeping daughter.

Next stop was a viewpoint of Franz Josef Glacier which offered fantastic views of the blue ice and ended up being more scenic than the walk up close to Fox Glacier. I was glad that we had taken the time to at least stop and see a second glacier.

I actually felt like we were becoming desensitised to the amazing scenery as I found myself being blasé about the next stop at Okarito lookout which had a view out to the Tasman Sea.

But then I was reamazed with the drive up the incredibly scenic West Coast. I found the coastline similar to the west coast of Vancouver Island and could see what my Canadian friend Celina was talking about when she had spoken about her trip to New Zealand. Both New Zealand and Canada are countries where natural beauty takes pride of place in their mountains, lakes and forests and I could see the similarities between the two.

We stopped at the windy Pancake Rocks with its strange rock formations. Unbeknownst to me, my husband sneakily bought me a Christmas present of a beautiful wooden jewellery box and a brightly painted plate by local artisans here.

Our lunch stop was for fish and chips at Hokitika. That night we stayed in the windiest holiday park in the west- Westport Holiday Park- and watched How I Met Your Mother on the van DVD player while our daughter slept and the wind howled outside.

The next day’s drive through the mountains was a hard one, but also one of the most beautiful. High windy roads meant a new scenic mountain was around each corner dropping down to the rivers below.

We stopped briefly in Nelson at low tide and came out the other side at the beautiful sparkling Marlborough Sounds complete with bobbing white sailboats. I could just imagine myself on one of those boats enjoying the sun.

We stayed in Picton overnight and caught the ferry to the North Island the next day from Picton Harbour. The ferry trip has good views in good weather, which we did not have. However, we did have a private room with a cot, which was luxury.

We soon arrived at my aunt and uncle’s place in Wellington that overlooked a valley of ferns from their backyard. Christmas Day was the usual lazy affair with the ever-welcoming Sri Lankan extended family that I discovered extended as far as New Zealand.

After a Boxing Day filled with cricket watching, we caught the Wellington Cable Car past the cricket ground to the justifiably iconic lookout point. My cousins took us on a tour of downtown Wellington from the majestic old parliament buildings and the new ones, like the beehive, too.

Related posts: Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012, New Zealand, 2004, New Year’s Eve on the Island, Canada, 1997 

Queenstown to Fox Glacier, 2012

Our first trip with our daughter was to New Zealand when she was 3 months old. I had not left the Sydney suburb in that we lived in since she was born, so I was thrust out of my comfort zone to take the trip, which was very much needed.

My parents were joining my husband, daughter and I on the trip as it was over the Christmas/New Year period and the aim was to reach my aunts place in Wellington for Christmas Day. We had rented two Jucy vans for the driving trip around the South Island and planned to stop at various holiday parks along the way.

Landing in Queenstown, a well-known skiing destination for Aussies who tired of the unpredictable snow in Thredbo, we checked into the holiday park under Bob’s Peak and headed straight for the Skyline cable car to the top.

The view of Queenstown Bay and Lake Wakatipu from the peak was fantastic. We could even see the snow capped Remarkables and our bright green and purple van in the holiday park. We stopped for a baby rest stop at the café at the top and took a tasty local ginger beer with the view.

That night, we went into town for dinner at a great Mexican restaurant. Being a little ski town, Queenstown reminded me of Whistler in Canada.

The next morning, the drive to Lake Wanaka was one of the most beautiful drives of the trip. Driving between the two lakes of Wanaka and Hawea was simply gorgeous and we stopped briefly at the flat Lake Wanaka.

Regular baby feeding led to frequent scenic stops to take in the sights, which was a good thing as it forced us to slow down and appreciate the countryside we were driving through.

We got a tip from a van of German blokes to see the Blue Pools, so we stopped for a midday Baby Bjorn walk in the forest over suspension bridges to pools that really were very blue.

We stayed a couple of nights in the very tiny one pub town of Fox Glacier for an enforced rest day in a very comfy holiday park with a large living area and kitchen for the playing of cards and cooking. The rain had prevented us from seeing the glacier on our first day, but it had been nice to take a break from driving anyway.

We went to the pub for dinner for a change of scenery and my dad’s short order cooking cuisine of garlic and chilli. The next day, it was still raining, but we figured we had come this far, so braved the rain in pairs to walk to see the glacier anyway, leaving my daughter behind in the car.

On the drive up to the glacier, I was amazed by how much the glacier had receded in the last 30, and even 10 years. We passed a few flowing waterfalls on the walk up and it was a lot dirtier and rockier than I thought it would be. It was very foggy at the glacier itself, so much so that I had condensation spots on my camera.

Related posts: Australia vs New Zealand, New Zealand, 2004, The New Amazing Race Australia