Tag Archives: animals

Onsen in Nantan, 2016

One of the main things my husband wanted to do in Japan was visit an onsen. Most of the best spas are in the snow, single sex and naked. Seeing as we had our daughter with us we had to find a family onsen near Kyoto that allowed swimwear.

Our journey to Rurikei Onsen in Nantan began with a local train through plunging rivers and mountain tunnels. It seemed like the spa was in the middle of nowhere already, but the best was yet to come.

When we arrived at the closest train station, we found out that we had missed one of only a couple of buses that go to the spa in the morning, so we had to catch a taxi. As the cab climbed further into the mountains and the meter ticked over, I feared that we were lost.

Eventually, we pulled up to the Rurikei Eco Resort Village and there was not a tourist to be seen. The functional spa had pools, hot spas, cold spas, reading rooms, relaxing rooms and a foot tub where fish ate the skin off your feet.

The prettiest was the traditional looking outdoor spa with bamboo decorations and I liked the indoor waterfalls. The weirdest room was the mysterious room that had coloured rocks on the roof that could be seen glinting in the dark room.

The resort also had a hotel and healthy eating restaurant attached to it where we had a tasty light lunch. It also had the only beer vending machine we saw the whole time we were in Japan. I was beginning to think they were a myth.

With time to kill before the free afternoon bus back to the train station, we wandered around the surrounding gardens. The backdrop of mountains was beautiful and they were building a little tent area for future campers. Lots of autumn leaves up here, a cute little friendship pavilion, a water wheel and real waterfalls.

They were setting up the gardens for Christmas with lots of colourful lights, a few Christmas trees, reindeer, angels and even Santa’s sleigh that you could sit in. There was also a strange kids playground that consisted only of stone animals, like Narnia. There were kangaroos, tigers, giraffes and duck statues mixed in with real cranes in the river.

While we were waiting for the bus back at the spa entry with the old folks, I felt the ground roll underneath me. One of the older ladies started freaking out and we realised it must have been an earthquake. Small, but still shaky, it was a very odd feeling.

We caught the train back to Kyoto, happy in the fact that we had been somewhere only locals go and had our last dinner in a neighbourhood restaurant serving Kyoto specialities like mackerel, fried chicken and sake.

Related posts: Markets and Manga in Kyoto, 2016Gion, Kyoto, 2016Food and Fervour in Kyoto, 2016Kyoto, 2016Takeyama, 2016Samurai and Shidax in Kanazawa, 2016Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

10 things to do in Sydney

Here are my favourite places to go in Sydney- a top ten list, if you will. Some of them may seem cliché, but there is a reason that certain places are deemed tourism worthy.

My number one place in Sydney is Taronga Zoo. I love animals and will go to any zoo at any given opportunity. Taronga Zoo is special because you can take a ferry to get there and it has the best views of the city from its grounds. You can even take a gondola from the ferry terminal to the zoo entrance and back again. I also like Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour for an animal fix. It has great shark tank viewing tunnels and they have beluga whales too!

The Botanic Gardens is the place to go for its iconic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I am lucky because I used to work close enough to the gardens to go for lunch time walks there. I always enjoyed seeing the tourists stopping to take pictures along the way as it reminds me what a lovely city I live in. In summer they have open air theatre shows for kids and they always seem to be setting up for a festival or opera on the harbour side.

The Opera House is the best place to catch a show- pretty much just because you are in the Opera House. My favourite bar, Opera Bar, is also here. It’s often crowded and hard to get a drink, but you can’t beat being under the Opera House looking at the Harbour Bridge while you sip your pre- show cocktail. For a more old skool pub, I also like The London in Balmain. Rustic and sturdy, they have a large selection of beer on tap and decent food. Plus, how can you not love a pub that welcomes dogs?!

One of my favourite restaurants is at The Deck at Luna Park. It has great Spanish style seafood share platters and is not too expensive. It’s also located in my favourite suburb- Kirribilli. I was fortunate enough to live here for a while and there is no place quite like it in Sydney. Lavender Bay is beautiful, the Harbour Bridge is above you and the city is just across the water. You also can’t beat walking to work over the Harbour Bridge.

The European clothing brands have finally landed in Australia! So my new favourite place to shop is the brand new H & M‘s that keep popping up all over Sydney. I must admit that I am a little addicted.

But the best way to see Sydney is to be on the harbour in a boat– preferable at the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race. The harbour is what makes Sydney special, and it is beautiful, so if you ever come here make sure you get out on the water.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Cocktail Hour is Sydneytown, Kid at Heart, Degustation Delights

Kid at Heart

I am a kid at heart. I always enjoy a theme park, animals or a museum; and now that I have a daughter it is double the fun.

I will be taking three weeks off from blogging from the end of this week (heading off on a trip to Sri Lanka). So, in the meantime, I will leave you with some fun Sydney activities for kids and kids at heart to keep you all amused over the Easter break.

Royal Easter Show- who doesn’t love a show? The rides, the food and the show bags. The Sydney show this year is on 26 March to 8 April at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park. It’s usually packed and can be quite expensive, but the free displays are pretty mind blowing and the wood chopping and other traditional show events (also free) are always entertaining. The kids will love the farmyard nursery, but I prefer the working dog demonstrations myself- how are they so clever?!

Taronga Zoo- a ferry trip to Taronga Zoo is a fun activity in itself. Although a little pricey to get in, a yearly pass may be worth the money if you plan to go more than once. Apart from the gondola ride and the free daily shows, there is also a kid’s area where farmyard animals and bush turkeys roam free through the park equipment and water play area. My favourite parts are seeing the elephants take their morning shower and the gorgeous views of the city.

Australian Museum- I went here late last year to see the Aztec exhibit. The display had a stamping activity (for kids) and iPad photo activity (for kids at heart). The rest of the museum was free, after paying for the feature exhibition, and is always free for children under 5. This includes a very scary dinosaur’s exhibition- they growl at you and I jumped ok?!- and a great little scientist area where kids can read, play and look through microscopes.

Royal Botanic Gardens- For a free and educational activity, a self-guided walk through the Sydney gardens is a great activity. They are iconic, waterside, beautiful and sometimes you will even find cockatoos feeding on the ground. There is also a Disney Fairy Trails app currently active where you can find and photograph cartoon fairies as you go- very cool.

Sydney Aquarium- not the cheapest, but great for a rainy day. The shark viewing tunnels are unique and the Great Barrier Reef display is very colourful. I love trying to spot the platypus and learning something new every time I visit. There is a touch pool for the little ones and dugongs, but no mermaids contrary to popular advertising- sorry to disappoint.

Museum of Sydney- with a very reasonable entry fee, this museum is at a historic location and not too large, making it easy to navigate. I recently went there to see the Towers of Tomorrow LEGO exhibition which was small but very functional with 4 large Lego troughs for kids to play in next to the awesome tall towers (like the replica Marina Bay Sands) that kids at heart will appreciate. The Lego exhibition is running until 12 July and look out for the Toys through Time display coming on 28 March- showing until 9 August.

Luna Park- for an alternative to the Easter Show (but probably just as expensive!), you can’t beat the location of Luna Park at Milson’s Point where you can gaze over the water at the Opera House, city and Harbour Bridge. The old English merry-go-round and dressed up characters such as Luna Bob are a favourite with kids of all ages. My personal pick is the mouse roller coaster where it feels like you are going to drop right over the edge into Sydney Harbour.

Australian Reptile Park- located one hour out of Sydney, this park has been around since 1948 and has an interesting history to go with it. I cringed at the funnel web milking demonstration, but the kids couldn’t get enough of it. The main attraction is Elvis the crocodile and the free range kangaroo area where an emu sneaked up on me. The dirt paths weave into the trees which lends to a nice bushwalk feel and there is a large play park for the little ones once they tire of the animals.

State Library- I went here last month to see the Lynley Dodd: A Retrospective exhibition. Lynley is the creator of the Hairy McClairy book series for children and the display was definitely designed with kids in mind- very interactive with TV, audio, drawing and book areas. The State Library itself is a beautiful old building with, funnily enough, lots of books. There is even a whole room filled with Don Quixote books. All exhibitions are free of charge and there is always some lovely photography on display.

The Beach- if the weather is good, the beach is the best free fun activity for kids and kids at heart. Water, sun, surf and sand castles provide hours of entertainment. I enjoy going to old favourites like Greenwich Baths and Boat Harbour on the South Coast; and discovering new beaches like Ettalong and Shoal Bay to the North. Just remember to pay attention to life guards and be sun safe.

Related posts: All things Disney, Happy Holidays,  All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small

I have always been a great lover of animals. From an early age I remember watching nature shows with my dad and can still tell the difference between an albatross and a seagull thanks to David Attenborough.

In primary school I completed elaborate and illustrated projects on animals that were four times as long as they needed to be just because I was so interested in the topic.

I begged for a dog as a child, but my parents liked a nice garden with birds so all I could have was a guinea pig, a budgerigar or a pet rock.

I choose to have a budgie called Kiki who flew away soon after when my mother made me clean the cage outside.

Then there was Skye who was my favourite and actually lasted a long time until we left him when we went to Sydney one weekend and he was found dead upon our return.

Next there was Benji who actually turned out to be a girl and was very cuddly as a consequence. She looked hot one day so we watered her down using the sprinkler but accidentally left it on her all day and she caught a cold and died.

The last one, Kokopetal, almost lost his head during an argument with my dad. When I ran into my room my dad said not to slam my door so of course I did and my budgie was on top of the door and the door caught his neck. He survived for a week longer but his neck was so damaged that he could not eat. So that was the end of my pet ownership.

I have always loved dolphins and have seen pods of them many times from boats. I also had a Sea World experience on the Gold Coast where I got to swim, touch and play with a dolphin and it was great. This year I finally got to swim with wild dolphins in Hawaii which was fantastic.

Having a love of dogs, I have always loved wolves and huskies. A few years ago I had the opportunity to play and run with the Malusky husky dog sled team in the Hunter Valley. They are beautiful hard working dogs and I would really love to see them in the snow on the Iditarod trail in the USA.

Working with Labradors and retrievers at Guide Dogs has cured me a little of my rose coloured glasses around dog ownership. Don’t get me wrong, I still think they are cute, loyal and the most lovely bundles of unconditional love. But they can also be stubborn, demanding, constantly test your boundaries and limit travel possibilities.

Related posts: I first started writing, Travel rememberings