I can see what people have this on their bucket lists.
Helicopters flying through, azure waters overlooking the reef, a gentle sea breeze and nothing to do but relax!
Everything is stunning. The big details are stunning and what you expect (and do find) on instagram accounts of the rich n famous.
The small details have been carefully considered down to the tiny little flower and crudos.
For entree I start with the local caught Octopus served with caramelised cauliflower, pakis, green apple, coriander and black ink cracker. It melts in your mouth as you simultaneously struggle to take in the views.
The menu is generous with variety and all nationalities and preferences are catered for.
There is a very extensive vegetarian menu, one of the highlights of staying in such an opulent establishment.
The service is second to none and all the staff go out of their way to treat you to the experience of a lifetime.
Whether you stay on sight or visit for the day, this is a must if only for the views and experience.
If you would like to add this into a Bali getaway and join me on a retreat
It is on top of the hill surrounded by a big park (Parque de Urgull).
The walk up can be dramatic and step (there are stairs leaving from behind the old town near the boat harbour, or gradual if you follow the boat harbour round past the aquarium and head up.
Just follow your nose – heading up is the main goal and you will find many little tracks.
There is a secret bar that is open in Summer.
Once up the top you will have amazing views of San Sebastian and the surrounding hills.
Alternative options to climbing the hill
These are some other walking options that are more flat terrain for those with injuries or unable to climb a hill.
If climbing is too tricky there are many walks around San Sebastian.
You can head to the left of the bay towards the south and find the amazing art sculptures of Spanish Artist Eduardo Chillida called Peine del Viento. Also a romantic beautiful spot.
Or you can walk around the Parque to Urgull and head over to Zurriola beach and head back along the river with the trees and shade.
2. Pinxos in the Old Part of Town
This gastronomic delight should be on every foodies global tour.
Apparently San Sebastian has more michelin awarded restaurants than anywhere else in the world – but I think their pinxos are the stand out.
There are two famous cheese cake shops here.
Saint Telmos is my favourite has the best foie gras, blood pudding and iberian pork cheeks and grilled octapus.
Tintos (red wines) are awesome everywhere.
3. La Perla
This day spa (thermalogica) water treatment retreat is fantastic.
Right on the beach at Playa De La Concha, this magnificent building has great views from the far infared chairs. If you go between 130 – 4pm you can get a reduced rate for the two hours.
You can hire a towel and everyone has to wear the sexy blue cap.
Hot steam room, hot sauna, multiple spa pools, relaxation zones and a cold plunge pool. Definitely worth it if you like water and day spas. No need for bookings unless during busy season. Click here for more information.
4. Santa Maria Cathedral
This iconic landmark is found in the old city.
It is 3 euros to pass through but worth it if this is the only church you are going to. There is another up near Saint Telmo which is equally breathtaking and of a different era.
5. Ferry trip
For a small fee (7 euros when we went) you can jump on the ferry and go to La Concha. Here you can disembark for exploring, or in summer swimming and a drink at the bar.
Otherwise you can stay on the ferry and do the round trip.
It’s a great way to get a different aspect from the water.
There are so many sporting activities to do. Stand Up Paddling, swimming, sailing, bush walking, bike riding and more.
Simply walking along the promenade later in the day is wonderful as buskers line the wide pavement entertaining children and tourists. Grab an icecream and slowly meander long.
There is an art gallery, library with an exhibition hall beneath it, museum, aquarium and more.
It is the perfect place for a weekend or a week. Relax, drift and enjoy.
High on a hill and easy to find is the foot traffic only medieval town of Laguardia.
With a centuries old history there is much to see and experience.
I would recommend the bodega and wine tour with cueva DorreTxe. A small family run bodega (winery) in the middle of town.
From the outside…
It costs 5-10 euros per person and includes wine tasting.
It is a short punchy life changing experience.
You walk down a few stories under ground seeing the still in use wine making tools. A bramble bunch that serves as a filter for the fruit from the wine.
Underneath the cave opens up. Apparently during the Teslars rule there were many wars. These spand from 10th century for 4 centuries.
During this time the women and children were often hiding in the caves. Men would bring food, hunted animals and fruit. At one point all the 325 caves were connected as one tunnel. They were sectioned off in the 18th century and now many of the families have their own cave.
This one is used for wine and entertaining.
The wine is boutique, small in production. One Tinto and one blanco.
They also make the local liquor from blueberries. Perfect as a post meal digestiv.
When you receive an invite to have dinner at a pub in the middle of nowhere (well for city folks), you have to say yes, but later go “why?”
It’s a long drive, someone has to drive, what is the food going to be like etc etc.
Let me reassure you that Rudd’s Pub is iconic and very much worth the effort from where ever you are coming from.
It has a typical Aussie bar at the front and the staff are awesome as well as swift. People say g’day and want to meet you, which isn’t always the case in cities.
The pub has massive history and was originally built in 1893.
Its big claim to fame was the writing of many of the series of the radio series called Dad & Dave which was broadcast on Australian radio from 1937 – 1953. You can read a little more about the series here.
The food is great and what Aussies would call good “pub grub.” The meals are cooked out the back by the owners so whilst yummy may take a while if you have a large group. I suggest putting your food order in early if you are hungry and having a couple of “bevvies” with the locals while it is cooked up.
The menu is quite extensive and includes gluten free options and all the great pub favourites of steaks, chicken parmies and bangers + mash. I am told the rissoles are great as they are home made and home made Aussie rissoles are awesome.
There is accommodation out the back so you can stay on your travels through, a nice venue room for parties and events and lots of memorabilia on the walls to check out.
Overlooking the charming area and suburbs of Devonport it Mt Victoria. Set up as a battalion base in the wars it now serves as one of the best, unadulterated views of Auckland.
The Signalman’s House is on the way up and truly breath taking. For it’s colonial style, it’s obvious connection to yesterday and it’s current purpose of offering writers a retreat. Being a writer I am totally in-love with the idea of a haven. A place to write whilst being frivolous and overlooking the harbour.
You can’t drive all the way to the summit any more but you can walk, hike or stroll. Ie foot is the only way. Up the top you will be greeted by sweeping views to the east, north and west. To the south you have iconic views of Auckland although you need to veer past a few trees.
You can have a picnic on the old forts, while watching the clouds jump and jive overhead.
Or you can share a chit chat with an old mate reminencising over times of old … waxing lyrically about childhood while your feet dangle over the edge of the old fortress.
Exploring is lot of fun which is what makes this the perfect afternoon trip for a family or lovers or solo travellers.
2. Visit the Devonport library
Well blow me down, I have visited many libraries around the world but this library is amazing.
Aside from being an architectural designer master piece it offers peace.
Peace and an open air outlook over one of the most amazing bays in the world.
It’s inspiring and has all the literature greats at your finger tips… all for free… waiting to be indulged.
I whittle away a few lustful moments reading the local rag and absorbing the view.
Whilst not a “tourist” attraction I sincerely hope you visit this space. Especially if you have never been to a library before!
3. Walk along the foreshore
This is one of the oldest, loveliest foreshore walks in New Zealand.
Beautiful trees, spaces, play grounds, picnic areas and Elizabeth House, make this a beautiful lazy afternoon walk.
Grab a photo with your family – a real keep-stakes as the back ground of the azure waters of the harbour and the sky line of Auckland subside away. Truly beautiful.
4. Lunch at the Esplanade Hotel
The Esplanade Hotel is such an iconic landmark. Built in 1857 the interior is everything you would expect from a timeless building.
We rock up on a Sunday and have the bowl of mussels done in white wine garlic and cream. Yes you guessed it! Something I will travel back for again and again and again. Especially at the end of the pier if the ferry from Auckland. It the perfect romantic escape and boys… it has a fire side!
5.Visit an art gallery
Despite everyone assuming art is for the rich or eccentric art is an expression. There are many art galleries in davenport and all worth a Casual wander through. There are too many to name and in my personal (artist) opinion, sometimes it is better to waltz through art galleries than it is to visit one. See where your heart takes you.
Finally I have had to resign myself to the fact that today I can only squeeze in a massage and snorkel at most.
As Western though patterns and chasing leaving my body, so does stress.
I feel myself decompressing like a tension chamber that has become unaccustomed to it’s own internal pressure – in actual fact using it for fuel to chase down more business. I need to step back and I have.
Yesterday I jumped on a plane to Bali with a small back pack, some face masks to deliver to Solemen ( A charity I support here) and little else. I had a sense that escaping to Nusa Lembogan would provide me with my next life lessons, poignant and gentle as Mother Bali delivers, so headed for Sanur to catch a ferry.
There are plenty of ferry companies that cross the 45 minute stretch all day. No need to book ahead and it shouldn’t cost more than 400 rupiah return.
I had to wait a while for mine, but I have learned that the waiting is part of Bali unravelling you from what you know, to where you need to be.
I relish in the wait.
With no accommodation booked, I figure that I could do something about it while the ferry is coming. Incredibly I secure a room in a hut that is truly magic and I feel so incredibly grateful to have been directed here.
A generous local drove me to the villas and would not accept any money for the trip. It sounds naive but I know the favour will be returned one day.
My digs for the night are out of this world – incredible views, and I feel I have arrived at the cusp of heaven and earth.
I settle in, have some mandatory spring rolls, a gin and tonic then go exploring.
It is a full moon and the night light makes for easy walking to Dream Bay.
Today i will explore more and post more tomorrow.
My creative flow is back and I feel alive again. Thank you Mother Bali.
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.
The Vatican , as it is referred to, is a principality inside the city of Rome.
As the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, many make the pilgrimage here to pay honour to the home of the Pope and one of the strongest religions world wide.
Inside the grounds of the Vatican are the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Church (St. Peter’s Basilica) , St Peter’s Square and many museums.
This historical and religiously significant venue is best seen before ALL the crowds arrive. It is one of the most visited places in the world… with millions streaming through ever year.
The good news is the Sistine Chapel and church open really early in summer – usually 7-730am. I would suggest setting an alarm clock and being one of the first in queue. If you don’t want to leg it alone, definitely do a tour as you can jump the queues and this is well worth it otherwise you may spend an hour or two(!) in a line up which is plain exhausting.
The police of the Vatican are the Swiss Army and are a step back into medieval times with their kit and custom. They are friendly and don’t mind a photo but are on duty so don’t be a pest.
St Peter’s square is massive and surrounding the periphery are significant people from the Roman Empire. If the pope is in town and giving a sermon, it will be in this square.