Affectionately known as the GABBA, the Brisbane Cricket ground, home to the Brisbane Lions… is an iconic sporting field in Australia.
On this night, my son and I are venturing to watch a short, newly introduced, cricket game.
It’s called twenty twenty cricket (20 overs each team), or the BIG BASH LEAGUE. It is like speed cricket. Really good if you like seeing a result in sport. It’s especially good in a sport like cricket, which has BIG history as a sport but it typically played over 5 days. Even one-day games require a whole day.
The 20-20 big bash is a perfect family sport. Hard hitting, big knocking, smacking a hard red ball around a BIG part. The Gabba is perfect for the fun, action packed game.
Kids love it and as a parent it is pretty awesome too.
The Gabba (affectionately nick-named after Wooloongabbba – the suburb which is in located in) is a Queensland icon. It is very central to the city – a little too so. Fortunately free public transport moves people in, and out really quickly.
The food is average. I find a cafe/coffee house that had a salad which was pretty good value and reasonably priced. The “other food” is rubbish. Hot dogs, chips, pies RUBBISH! I do struggle to understand the blatant opportunity of sporting venues to drive home how important nutrition is to our youth… but now I sound like a wailing nutritionist who cares…
There is beer on hand, wine is much harder to find. Which suits me as it is a coffee and salad night for me with my son.
We decided to stay at Southbank, and I would love to recommend the hotel, but I can’t. There are plenty though, and for those of us who don’t live in Brisbane, coming in the after noon, going to the art gallery , walking along Southbank, then the Gabba, makes for a great day!
This eclectic warung/bar opened by Putu last year is set amongst the rice paddies in Ubud. You need to know the secret walk way beside Starbucks.
The secret rice paddy walks connects lots of hotels up the road… It’s a leisurely walk and once you are on it, it’s easy to find Sweet Orange Warung. Just follow the rubbish bins…
The beers are cold, the atmosphere relaxed and there’s plenty to see or not see.
I am interested in Putu’s gardening efforts – she is trying to grow lettuce at the moment in piping. Her other crops look fantastic and include eggplant, chilli, spinach, paw paw, corn.
I am going to make this a regular check in when I go to Ubud. Mainly to get out of the hustle and bustle of Ubud and also to support an entrepreneurial female in a third world country who has managed to create an awesome venue!
I did go back to visit Putu last week.
After the first visit I thought I would paint the hanging coconut heads.
My crazy idea is that I would paint the coconut heads, and ask Putu to hang the painting with the aim to sell the painting. I have been giving money to a local Balinese man, Wayan, and his family, for a few years. He was struck by bamboo six years ago and has been a quadriplegic since.
Unable to walk, move and being bed bound, has made life very difficult for Wayan and his family.
To my surprise last week, when I returned with my painting, Putu and her husband, Nyoman said they would buy the painting. They told me how they support local causes and believed this was a good cause.
So gratefully I accepted their money, and for now, the painting of that fantastic warung, Sweet Orange Warung, will remain hanging above the welcome sign.
Situated 40 mins by ferry from Auckland is the lovely island of Waiheke.
The population is about 9000 steady residents that swells to 45,000 in summer.
The scalloped wind-protected bays are delightful and on a sunny day shimmer in the light.
The ferries with Fullers leave pier 2 in Auckland Wharf every thirty minutes on the hour andsimilarly the return ferries leave on the hour and every thirty mins. The full time table is here.
The ferry serves wine so it’s a nice transition from the hustle and traffic of Auckland to the more peaceful, tranquil island living.
Finding an awesome place to stay for two nights, (plenty other options here), my digs are called Studio 16 in the fun bay called Surfdale .
From the studio, equipped with more than one needs for a two night escape, you can walk to the local Irish pub, Malones. Reknown for it’s Argintiniesand latinos (quite a few on the island now) you can find some fun.
From darts, to a pool table and on our first night there, the infamous drones of the Baby Boomas it’s a fun joint!
There’s a lot to do in Waiheke if you chose, or nothing to do. Your choice!
I head for an afternoon of wine tasting – something the island is well known for: rose and reds.
Starting at Wild on Waiheke, we start with some samplers – all around $4 per taste. The winery is also a craft beer distillery and I am told they are excellent beers. The food looks amazing and if you want you can shoot a riffle (laser) or part take in archery.
Next door are two excellent vineyards – Tu Motu – which has some of the best (and most expensive) reds I have had in awhile and Stoneyridge .
Stoneyridge is my ideal way to spend a Sunday – funky cool tunes, relaxing outdoor al fresco sitting, wonderful wines and lovely views over the vineyards. We are there in winter and the winter’s sun catches the green of the valley in the most superb way – it glistens.
The only downside to the vineyards on the Sunday is the fact they all close at 4pm!
We miss out on the newer vineyard, which reportedly has been $35million in the making.
Eating out is fun, and we find many options in the town of Oneroa. If you head down a little alley way, bay side, towards, Sandbar you can find a funky little wine bar. The night we are there an acoustic guitar play keeps us entertained while we sip on lovely wines.
The Sandbar is nice and open and great for a drink – apparently they can get a crowd in there as well.
Upstairs is Vino Vino, an Italian restaurant that has a lovely balcony also over looking the bay. The food is OK but the view makes up for it… so best you go during the day or on sunset!
We have two nights in town and the first night eat at the Red Crab, the local Thai place. The foods is good, wines a good price. Not the most amazing Thai food but not bad either.
Across the road is the more elaborate Oyster Inn. With wide balconies, a great wine list and lots of seafood on the menu, it is a more romantic spot. We have the chilli fish curry (very hot) and the John Dory. Really GOOD!
Other activities on the island include kayaking, stand up paddling all back at Maitati Bay where the ferry arrives. You can do lots of short walks around the island and bays as well as a 3km art route. We didn’t get to see much of the island’s art this visit but have been told it is a really thriving scene.
Transport around the island is easy – you will need a taxi from the ferry to most places – budget at least $30 NZD to get 5km. There is a good public transport bus which is only $3.50 per person, or shuttle buses also run regularly.
If you are planning on going, staying at least 2 nights, 3 would be ideal.
If you are booking a trip to Hobart, Tasmania, make sure you include a Saturday morning in Hobart and visit Salamanca Markets.
A local iconic experience shared by millions over the years and a mainstay for locals.
I remember growing up here (in Hobart), we used to frequent the markets every Saturday. It was a way of life!
It’s where we buy our produce, catch up with friends for a coffee, or bump into other people in our community. It is exactly that – the village meet up.
Now I am older, and the boutiqueness of Tassie has been developed more, I love going.
Boutique wines, meads, ports, cheeses, fudges, truffles, dips, relishes, jams… are headline acts for the food scene.
The local farmers will offer their great, unadulterated foods, and produce and flowers.
AND the crafts are incredible.
Tasmania, is a listed world heritage site. Some of the oldest forests in the world offering some incredible walks. Which also have some of the oldest trees and delightful pines. Sasafras and Huon pines are two incredible woods that many use to make bowls, domestic items with aswell as larger scale furniture. you can see it all at the markets.
It is camouflaged catamaran so you may not see it when you are down at the docks. Book on line or rock up and try your luck.
The ferry has two options – sheep class or posh pit. I highly recommend the Posh Pit. For a little extra you get delicious canapes and Tasmania wines.
It’s a perfect way to settle your body with your upcoming fears about Mona (you will hear all sorts of stories about Mona – all good – but it does have adult themes)!
Up at Mona – you can be guided around by the free audio system given to you on arrival. It’s called the “ O” . I would recommend using this as you need… some of the pieces are”out there” but they ALL have a story!
Some of my favorite exhibits (and I don’t want to steal the galleries thunder) are:
Simulation of a live gut… it has feeding times throughout the day! Fascinating.
The Fat Car
This is one of my son’s favourite pieces and one of mine too. I’m not sure why but it makes me giggle!
The spraying waterfall when you arrive is amazing! And almost hypnotises me
This is one of my favourite exhibits in the whole world. A big rap I know but it is a serene, ecclectic experience and worth the line-up. It will take approximately 30-60 minutes to experience it but well worth the wait.
The fantastic pieces are one called Cunts (yes… I struggled typing that) but a wondering sculpture displaying 78 different molded ones.. excellent for women. It gives one a sense of liberation. They are ALL different.
The music room is fascinating and fun.
The strobe light, relics from Hiroshima and Egyptian relics are all incredible.
The privately owned gallery has an amazing bar under ground to enhance your experience. OR upstairs their is the choice of 3 eateries.
There is a simple elegant cafe…a great wine bar/cafe and a more up market restaurant.
Today we shared a platter at the …… restaurant with a bottle of pinot noir, then headed for a wine tasting upstairs at …….. DO IT!!!
A jazz band was jamming on the main stage, kids were running around laughing and chooks being well.. chooks.
There is something for everyone here. I love it and will continue to viist and applaud (and thank) David Walsh for his insights and philanthropy. Generous soul!
Zurich is one of the great cities of the world, boasting a modest population of 400,000 which swells each working day to 1.3million.
I have travelled here a few times and find it very clean, surprisingly old and the people very friendly. It is a very business savvy city with many of the world’s largest companies based there.
Switzerland has been a constant in many scenarios acting neutral with many debates and wars, and having a strong diplomatic system based on cantons and local law.
A walk around town is a must to fully appreciate the jevity of this modern city.
Buried into the side of Lake Zurich, the town central (centrum) is easy to walk around. The main train station (Zurich HB) is a good starting point and follow your way through the streets to the Kuntzhaus or find your way to the lake and walk from there.
There are a few landmarks:
This simple designed but very Swiss church is beautiful. As with all churches around the world visitors are welcome to come and sit, admire the glass windows or to take pray. You are not allowed to take photos inside or use mobiles.
This is one of the most expensive streets in the world. Fashion shops, curios and others sprinkle along the pleasant walk. In fact Zurich has many of the world’s “most expensive streets” to shop along.
The Old Town
You can wander around the old town at your leisure and many buildings are marked with their year of establishment. Many in the 1500s. They are incredibly well preserved as Switzerland was spared most of WW2’s bombings.
Cafe Presse Club
Is a unassuming cafe in the old part of Zurich but a favorite place for celeberaties.
If you wish to treat yourself, and I highly recommend everyone does nourish, not punish, then head to this day spa. Built in an old brewery the spa has a special charm. There are 2 floors and two tiers of pricing. You can access both with the big ticket which is approximately 60 Swiss Francs.
On the 2nd floor are big tubs, hot spas, Roman baths, hot tiles and a steam room all for your body to unwind and relax. On the forth floor and into to open air is the roof top spa. IT bubbles away and as the alpine cool air hits your face, your body stays warmed and relaxed. Your ticket is valid for 3 hours and is a wonderful way to relax, especially if you have done some alpine walking. Click here for more information.
Lunch on Lake Zurich
There are many places to sit and enjoy delicious Swiss food. Find somewhere in the sun, and if it’s winter you can request a blanket and in some places a woollen underlay for your chair.
The highlights of Zurich for me, are the Swiss wines, the yummy food, the cleanliness, the friendly people and the well preserved buildings.
Roma as it is affectionately known to Europe is an incredible place and will require at least 3-4 full days of sightseeing and exploring… Longer if you have the time and really want to enjoy the Roman lifestyle, of sleeping in, lazying around a piazza for lunch, exploring side streets and relishing in feasts.
I have been to Roma a few times but this time felt different.
Maybe because I wasn’t doing a one day stop over with a contiki crowd, or not with 18 month old daughter so could really savour it from a relaxed grown up perspective.
There is so much to see and do and while I understand people liking maps, I really think half the fun of Roma is following your heart. Not your mind.
See where the streets take you, discover Roma…. you can always ask for directions for the main sites and everyone will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Here are my top 5 things to see and do in Roma
Visit the Colosseum
One of my favourite buildings in the whole world, is the Colosseum.
The sheers size of it is incredible. You can do a tour during the day but can I recommend going at night? It is special. The illumination, the stories, the ambiance, give you insight to a very real world that existed over 2000 years ago.
The Colosseum was a big stadium which had trap doors, floors that could flood and a myriad of corridors beneath it’s surface.
The walls whisper great tales while you are there and it is impossible not to imagine the morbid entertainment, the deaths and massacres that would have taken place hundreds of years ago.
A making of an Empire that would span hundreds of years and travel throughout Europe and parts of Africa, didn’t just pop up.
It has strong roots in Rome and the heart of the Roman Empire is the The Forum.
Here you can see some incredible structures still standing in their majestic beauty and still symbolising strength, precision and beauty.
The architectural genius is second to none. The fact many structures still stand 2000 years on is testimony to its design.
Definitely worth a meander and wander through it’s wonderful gardens and paths.
The religious home of the catholic church and a country in its own right, the Vatican is fascinating.
One of the most visited tourist sites in the world.
Thousands visit each day and just being part of such a pilgrimage is incredible.
If you wish to see the Sistine Chapel, get there early. It opens at 7am. Although check in winter, as this could change.
St Peter’s Basilica is grand and breath taking and worth setting aside an hour just to soak it all in and bath in it’s glory.
The walls around St Peter’s Square are also grandeuse and on a clear day, there is nothing more crisp than seeing the walls silhouetted against the Roman blue sky.
The Swiss Guards still to this day (some 500 years on from being appointed by Pope Julius II) guard the sacred land. There uniforms are bright, distinguished but slight impractical.
There are many amazing piazzas in rome. Which really are large areas, almost like court yards, where multiple roads and back streets meet.
They bring together people and are the basis of modern day villages. Around the periphery are shops and particularly in Roma, restaurants and cafes.
The social hub is fantastic and one of the best is Piazza Navona.
I visit at night time but any time is good, and later in the day, you can sit and have a local favorite, called an Aperol Spritza. Aperol is a palate cleanser and apertif which primes your stomach for food. I find them very bitter – which they are intended to be. Some people love them. Either way, they are very Roman and appropriate to do in Rome!
Anyone who is not impressed by the Trevi Fountain is going to be hard to please.
With it’s huge sculptured works, carvings and at night, illuminosity, the fountain is more than a water feature. It is a living art piece that draws in hundreds of eager tourists, all with a selfie stick, after that “postcard perfect photo.”
I visit the Trevi Fountain most days when in Rome because of its sheer beauty and for some reason it makes me smile! Becareful of pick-pockets in this area who work the surrounding area stealthly.
Not to be over shadowed by all the other incredible buildings in Rome, the Pantheon, in my humble opinion is the most magnificent.
It’s understated persona doesn’t prelude what is inside her magic walls.
Inside is a captivating, perfect sunlight opening.
To me the hole says, “precision” and also shows what a deep understanding of design and maths that the Romans natural have.
You can walk around the inside of the Pantheon and it is free to do so.
The piazza around The Pantheon is fun and lively.
Something not many people do, is come back late at night and lie on her huge stone tiles. I did this a few times, to marvel at the history and size of this amazing building.
Other wonderful things to see are the Spanish Steps, the BIG house, Circus Maximus and the pyramid….
Over the years I have spent a couple of years all up, but is has been in 1-2 day short stays, or staying out of town and traveling in. There is always something to do, day or not.
This trip I was on the way to stay with my sister who now lives down in Cornwall. London seemed a logical stop over so she came up to play. Without much effort at all our day filled up with incredible sights, walks, foods and interactions.
Your 24 hours in London might look very different to mine. But can be equally as fun and packed.
Arriving from in International flight to Heathrow, getting into London is easy.
You just jump on the train which is right inside the airport.
The train takes you into town and then you simply train hop onto another line until finding your hotel.
This visit we stayed down near the Tower Bridge. Great hotel, good location and close to the river Thames which is always good for walking along. It is a long way fromBuckingham Palace and that side of town, but it suited us and we caught buses up to Trafalgar or the tube is never far a away.
Checking into the hotel at 330pm it was time to race off and explore.
The weather in London can be treacherous. The wind chill can be freezing and things can change quickly but if you are not prepared for the unpredictable wind changes of London. Fortunately most venues are warm once inside and there are plenty of shops if you are out and about, and need to buy a jacket. I think I am trying to say, don’t over think the preparation of a day in London. Just get out amongst it and don’t take your whole wardrobe.
It used to be akin to a goal letting people in and out of the old London. Conveniently located on the outside moat wall is a draw bridge so that boats (in years gone by) could bring criminals directly for hanging. It is affectionately called the execution door. Still with grills and water lapping at the sides of the castle, it is very easy to cast your mind back to a land and culture that sculpted our current politics and history.
From there we go for a “short” walk to St Paul’s Cathedral. On the way passing some new and old landmark buildings. The gherkin, the walkie talkie building and the older oblisk landmark called “ The Monument” which was erected following the great London Fires in 1666.
Along side St Paul’s Cathedral is a modern looking build called One New Change.
Find your way into it’s arcade and catch the lift to the top. If you are “appropriately dressed” (not looking like a tourist in sneakers) then you may enjoy a wine on their roof top bar. Otherwise they allow you to wander the roof’s side to check out the great views of St Paul’s Cathedral and London.
From there you are very central to many brilliant clothes shops. We bought a few things then headed back to the hotel for a cloth-change. Time to enjoy London night time.
Being a Friday night, beers at all the local bars, are the thing to do. People cascade onto the pavements, ale in hand and lots of chit chat. I would have loved to part-took but there was plenty more exploring to be done.
Wanting to chill and watch the sun set on a wonderful day , we headed to the Thames river and found on of the many venues where you can sit on a boat and enjoy a drink.Our vessel was called Hispanic beside Waterloo Bridge.
On the otherside of London – also known as the Southbank – is always a buzz of activity and things to do. The time we are there is a festival celebrating the river.
One great shows we saw was a film projection, with a back ground small orchestra, showing how Waterloo Bridget was built in 1944. IT was built my women as most of the men were at war.
Brick by brick, pylon by pylon.
It was an impressive slip show with much beautfiul imagery or women working together creating a massive sculpture.
You really can simply waltz along the river’s edge and participate in much. Even people watching is cool.
Time for dinner and we go to one of my sister’s old favorites, Trioia – a Turkish restaurant a block away from the Southbank but with it’s on great energy and vibe. The food is good, the pricing good and service quick. We order a Mezza (banquet) for 2 which more than fills us up.
Quite shattered at this point we call it a day and head back to our apartment to be gret with clean sheets and puffy pillows.
Up early on the Saturday we set off to explore the Tower of London again.
With barely anyone around it was quite a different place. You could imagine how it would have been hundred’s of years. ago. The well kept draw bridge is still in use today and walking across it is easy.
The other side has a few gems to explore. WE find the converted convent from 606AD , now an active catherdral stunning. It is the oldest standing gothic building from it’s time. Shakespeare, Dickens and Harvard were all associated with the church which is conveniently tucked away beside the Borough Markets.
We were there easy and didn’t see the markets in full swing but the foods were incredible. Everything from partridges, delicious pastries to wheels of mature cheese. A simply stunning array of food.
Back to the hotel to check out and my sister was off to get her hair attended to by her long term hair dresser (which sounded like she had followed all around the UK) in Notting Hill.
Notting Hill is a delightful suburb north west of the city.
The hair dressing salon is great and I am served a peppermint tea then treated to a shampoo and blow dry. My self esteem lifts as having my hair done well (and stylish) is not unfortunately something I have mastered yet.
I do a little bit of local exploring around Kensinnton Garden Square, where many of the consults live. Maple leaves drift from the skies reminding me that autumn is on it’s way and whilst today is warm, soon the days will be short and cold.
Back on the double decker red bus to Hyde Park. Which isn’t that far, but we are preserving our legs a little bit.
The War Memorial between Hyde Park and the start of Buckingham Palace is a sombre reminder of New Zealand’ and Australia’sinvolvement in all of the British Empire’s wars. The arch in the middle of the park is quite stunning.
A short wander brings one to Buckingham Palace. Today is it buzzing with people and the sun is shining and everyone is happy.
The park that guides you back to town is called St James Park and simply beautiful. Royal geese and swans make the lake a beautiful sight. Deck chairs for hire are a great option but we find ourselves to the kiosk for lunch, which serves a lovely chilled wine and good food.
I decide to do a quick water colour inspired by my favorite Claude Monet.
Once the sun has dried it off we venture towards town. Today they have the streets sealed off , with lambaginis and porches chasing each other in a movie being made. Lots of street fun for a short interlude.
We follow our noses to Horse’s Bridge which is beside 10 Downing St.
Here the royal guards sit on their magnificent horses, keeping watch. Tourists love the guards and I have a little horse whisper with both of them who both said they would rather be running around a paddock, then strung up on a warm Saturday in London. Surprise.
From here we are close to everything – Big Ben, Westminister and the Thames, but we head left for Trafalgar Square. I love going to the National Art Gallery. It’s pure size is hard to comprehend and art works one of the best (if not the best) collection of post impressionsm anywhere. I love it. And it’s free!
The Great Hall is a magestic set of rooms housing Vincent Van Goughs (such as the Sunflowers, Starry Night and his famous chair). Monets, Degas, Cezanne dominate the opposite wall. And then to remind you of what an absolutely incredible era it was a few guagins, Manet and Pissaros.
Just in one room!
Outside of the art gallery is a festival. There is always so much to absorb around Trafalgar Square, including the shrine landmark to Lord Nelson set up high.
Today we are privvie to an incredible musican playing with just his guitar. The sounds coming from his beaten up guitar are like those I have never heard before. Wonderful. We stay for a few tracks and I purchase his CD.
It’s time to find another wine so back to the Southbank to watch radio BBC hosting a rock n roll contest. The sun has bought our many smiles on the locals and tourists and everyone is happy!
Another little food festival is taking place behind the southbank but sadly we only have time to sample some curries and wild hog. It’s time to head our of London (via Gatewich) to Cornwall.