Tag Archives: drive

Javea, 2013

My husband, daughter and I left Barcelona the next day for a road trip down south to Javea. Our Belgian friend Bill owned a holiday house there are we were to meet up with his parents and brother Ben with his partner and baby son.

The house was an authentic white washed villa on the hill of Balcon al Mar and was a great place to call home for the week.

We hit the beach straight away and went to Granadella beach. The white rocks contrasted beautifully with the blue water and it was everything a Spanish beach should be. The weather was nice, the sea sparkled and there was a sailing boat moored in the bay.

When we had had enough fun in the water and of sitting under the blue and white stripped umbrella on the beach, we went to the restaurant overlooking the beach for a tasty seafood lunch.

Unfortunately, my husband got an ear infection from swimming that day, so the rest our time in Javea was not to be the active beach holiday we envisioned, but was still a restful time.

I woke with my daughter most mornings with only the dog Coco and the BBC news channel for company. Sunrises were colourful, but late here. French lunches with the family were had on the outdoor balcony and afternoon drinks on the terrace by the pool.

My daughter liked the hammock in the garden and Baby Bjorn walks around the neighbourhood. We also tagged along on a few of the shorter dog walks into cactus laden plains.

My husband got enough energy together to head into Javea old town with us all one day. The streets were lined with balconied houses, old wooden doors and wall murals. The fort/church in the middle of the town was huge and there was both an indoor and outdoor market with colourful red Spanish dresses for little girls.

One day we also managed a driving tour of the surrounding area. The most beautiful sight was the lookout point at Cap de la Nau. It was ocean as far as the eye could see, punctuated by rugged cliffs and islands. We also saw the white washed lighthouse and went to the rock shelves of Calla Barraca Beach.

We visited the main beach at L’Arenal where the sandy beach was lined with palm trees and restaurants. We had a nice lunch and bought our daughter her first pair of sunglasses. On our last day we returned to a glass fronted restaurant for paella.

It was a fitting end to our Spanish beach holiday, before we drove back to Madrid for an overnight stay near the airport. The hotel was hard to find with all the surrounding ring roads around, but after a few double paid tolls, we made it in the end.

Related posts: Barcelona, 2013, It’s a Spanish Thing, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona

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