Tag Archives: hotel

Traveller vs Tourist

I really don’t like the debate between traveller vs tourist. Unless you live in a country, you are a tourist. And what’s so wrong with being a tourist anyway?

I love being a tourist in my own city. Exploring the places I love, seeing them through new eyes and discovering unknown places. It’s all in good fun. Especially if you are showing some other tourists around your city and get to feel that pride at living in such a beautiful and/or interesting place.

I guess the perceived difference between a traveller and a tourist is that a tourist just goes to see the main sites, take a few photos and tick it off their bucket list. I think we have all been a little guilty of that at some point.

What I have realised is that the more you build up a particular tourist attraction in your mind, the more disappointed you are likely to be; and the real thing that you love or remember about a trip are the off the radar places or the little details like the great sandwich you ate when you got there.

And, oh- the bucket list- another hated term. Life is not a list of things to do, it’s about experiences; and P.S if it is about lists, you will never finish them. The number of places I want to see just gets longer every year, so I know I won’t get to them all, but I’m ok with that.

In the naiveity of youth, I once told an older and wiser man than I that I wanted to visit every country in the world. He told me that he was 50 and hadn’t even seen a quarter of them and he travelled a lot!

I also can’t stand people who count countries. I could tell you my number, and really it’s pretty high, but it’s not a competition. And it’s really not about the quantity, but the quality.

I have been to a hotel near the airport in Finland for 8 hours between connecting flights, but do I count that as seeing the country- definitely not. I’ve been to most of the capitals in Italy, but does that mean I know anything about what it’s like to live in the Tuscan countryside- no way.

I feel like I’m a bit opinionated with this post today, but sometimes you need to be. It doesn’t matter where you travel, or how far from home you venture; it doesn’t even matter if you call yourself a traveller or a tourist- as long as you do it. But only if you want to.

I am the first person to say, I love to travel, but that’s my priority. Everyone has different priorities of what they want to spend their money on and there is nothing wrong with that- it’s your choice.

So wether you’re a traveller, or a tourist, or neither, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a moot point.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Australia vs New Zealand, Memory, Universal vs Personal, People vs Place

Tulum, 2011

My husband and I arrived in Tulum and went straight from the bus station to the beach.

We stayed in one of the separate huts on the beach in a hotel that had a mini statue of the Tulum ruins near the beach bar. The image was very familiar to me as it featured on the cover of our guidebook.

Tulum had the bluest water I had ever seen along with the whitest sand. I understood now why everyone raves about the Caribbean.

We went to an Italian restaurant in the fancy hotel at other end of beach as I had heard it was famous for it’s fresh lobster pasta. We took our sunset cocktails at the deckchairs on the beach before we headed inside the restaurant for dinner, where the floor was also sand. The waiter made us a prawn made out of palm leaves.

Thinking it the safer option, we walked back to the hotel along the road instead of the beach, but it was a creepy deserted country road at night. By day, there wasn’t much to do either, except to go to the local shops for supplies.

I discovered what a real taco was when we had the best fish tacos I have ever had on the beach. No Old El Paso hard shell tacos here, just small soft fresh tacos with fresh fish and some special sauce.

We spent a couple of days lazing on the beach, listening to the other travellers talking loudly, trying to outdo each other; and the regular fruit seller passing by with cries of “Piña, mango, coco.”

One night, we met a group of young Aussie surfers at the beach bar; and on another, an old surfer dude from America who had been living in Tulum for a number of years now. He introduced us to some local friends who proceeded to drink us under the table with double strength tequila happy hour cocktails. We declined their offer to head into a nightclub in town for further drinking.

Instead we went into town the next day for the freshest, loveliest tortillas I have ever eaten at a local restaurant near the bus stop, made while you eat. I really didn’t know what good Mexican food was like until I had been to Mexico. Even the guacamole is made differently here.

On our last day we went to explore the Tulum ruins. While definitely not the most culturally significant ruins, being the newest in Mexico; they are definitely one of the most picturesque as they overlook the beach and the blue waters of the sea.

There were huge iguanas everywhere that roamed around the tourists and the stones. Walls surrounded the site and a small cenote could be found in one of the ruined houses.

We saw the Temple of the Wind God, the famous El Castillo and walked down to the beach. There were many temples, platforms, a palace and a guard tower.

Next stop to continue our Caribbean adventure was Isla Mujeres, and if I thought the water of Tulum was blue, we hadn’t seen anything yet!

Related posts: Chichen Itza, 2011, Campeche and Merida, 2011, Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011

Dubrovnik, 2010

Choosing a honeymoon destination in Europe that neither my husband nor I had been to was a bit of a challenge, but we finally settled on Croatia and Slovenia.

The Croatian website had promised a room in Lapad Bay in Dubrovnik with a water view, but upon arrival we were notified that no rooms were available in that area of the hotel and were sent to their sister hotel up the hill and away from the waterfront. They didn’t seem to care that it was not what we ordered, or that it was our honeymoon.

My husband proceeded to sleep off his rejected objections (and the week of partying in Thailand) for 12 hours, while I read a book and tried not to feel too deflated that the honeymoon appeared to be over before it even began.

When he woke up, we restored our spirits by having some spirits at the hotel bar which did have a water view and was on a sunny patio. After a calming sunset, we strolled into Lapad town and found a lovely seafood restaurant (also on the water) with a waiter that was happy to be of service and our faith was restored.

The next day, we set off to explore the old town of Dubrovnik. We walked through pile gate, over the drawbridge and up the steps to walk around the city walls. The views from Minceta Tower were the best and simply breathtaking. Orange rooves, ruined houses with the towers of churches thrown in here are there.  Lovrjenac Fort next door looked awesome in its stoniness against the bright blue sea and we followed a tourist tall ship (with a motor) around into the harbour on our walk.

Having taken in the views, we headed down to Placa Stradun- the main street of the old town. I loved the large rotund Onofrio fountain and the strategically placed Sladoled ice cream shop at the bottom of the steps. We saw St Savior’s Church and Luza square with its Orlando column and Sponza palace; but the best part of walking around the old town was exploring the many side streets. We found the morning market in Gunduliceva Poljana and Buza Bar with the self-proclaimed best view in the world out to Lokrum Island. I had to admit that it was pretty good, and we stayed for a few hours, drinking and chatting.

Back in Lapad, we walked up the hill to a recommended local pizza restaurant for dinner which was packed and had a view of the port area that we would be catching a boat from the next day.

We departed from Gruz harbour the following day for our trip around 3 of Dubrovnik’s closest islands. The day trip included as much of the bad wine that you could drink on the boat. The first was a short stop at Kolocep Island where we had just enough time to walk around the small harbour. Next was a longer stay on Sipan Island where we walked around a ruined monastery.

The final stop was Lopud Island, where we forfeited the hike up the mountain for a walk around the gardens and lunch with more drinks at a bar on the seafront boardwalk. The islands were beautiful with their old buildings and the water was so clear. I was glad that we got to see a few of them before we headed off to catch the bus to Split.

Related posts: Destination Thailand, 2010

Fiji, 2008

In the Christmas of 2008, instead of celebrating at home, my husband-to-be’s (HTB) family decided we would all travel to Fiji for 5 nights. We stayed at the Radisson Blu- one of the large hotels on the mainland at Denarau.

I had never been to the South Pacific, never really stayed in a flash hotel before, and never been away with my HTB’s family, which included two brothers, so it was all a bit different.

It was the hottest time of the year, so most days were spent lounging by the pool after the breakfast buffet and swimming over to the pool bar for 11am cocktails. The Blue Marlin was the voted the favourite.

If we felt a little more energetic, we would slide down the fun waterslides or take a walk on the beach. We read, played cards and ate a lot. Every night the firelighters would come down to the beach and light torches that reflected off the beautiful picture perfect sunsets.

After a few days of this, my traveller gene kicked in and I dragged everyone away from the safety of the hotel for a waterfall tour. The bus picked us up and drove us up the coast and into the green hills.

We visited a little village called Biasevu with children running around and went to the community hall for a traditional cava ceremony- strong stuff. Suitably fortified, it was time to trek to the waterfall.

Unfortunately, half way through the walk, it started to rain. Heavily. But our tour guide Nadine lent a helping hand and everyone made it across the river to Sava Mate Laya waterfall intact.

It was flowing quite a lot due to the rain, but I was still determined to take a swim underneath and get my head wet. A little wetter and a little wiser about Fiji culture, we headed back to our little piece of luxury, to enjoy it while we could.