PARIS

I am obsessed with everything French – the food the, the wine and especially the effortless style of a French girl. I will be forever trying to emulate the natural je ne sais quoi they all possess. As stereotypical as it may be I have dreamed of travelling there for most of my life and was so happy to start living my French dreams with a trip to Paris in September 2018.

Advertisements

I am obsessed with everything French – the food the, the wine and especially the effortless style of a French girl. I will be forever trying to emulate the natural je ne sais quoi they all possess. As stereotypical as it may be I have dreamed of travelling there for most of my life and was so happy to start living my French dreams with a trip to Paris in September 2018.

img_0601

Two long flights, countless movies and some bad plane food later we had arrived. The city of lights – it was love at first sight, it really took no time at all for me to fall completely head over heels in love with Paris and I hadn’t even seen anything yet.

We stayed in Le Marais district, which is host to beautiful architecture, great restaurants and shopping and is also relatively close to a lot of the main sights or just a short metro ride away. It is also a great spot to feel in the middle of it without breaking the bank on accommodation (thanks Mum for another great find!). Hôtel Bastille Speria was our home for the next four days and while four days it not very long and I know there is so much more to see, it is what we had. I think that just gives me more reasons to go back!

Day 1.

We landed at 9am and hit the ground running. The first thing I wanted to do was see the Eiffel Tower, well the first thing I wanted to do was check into the hotel and shower but after that we headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower and grabbed some lunch on the way. Lucky for us my beautiful French friend Laura was staying with us and translated the whole menu at a tiny little bistro and also ordered for us too. Having someone French around was super handy. After the tower Laura and I split off from my parents in the afternoon and just walked around the city, grabbed a drink or two by the Seine and then met my parents for a quick dinner.

Day 2.

This all started with an unintentionally long sleep in for me assisted by an ill-advised sleeping tablet taken at 2am, thank you jetlag. My parents headed out early to a GF bakery for my mum and after I awoke in panic from my sleep in Laura and I got ready and went for a traditional French breakfast of baguette, croissant, juice and café au lait. First sight of the day was the Arc de Triomphe where we joined the other tourists in the battle for the best shot. We strolled along the Champs-Élysées and stopped for champagne cocktails and macaron at Pierre Herme. We then set off in the general direction of Notre Dame stopping for spritz and rose on the seine. Then another food stop this time in the form of gelato and then our good old friend exhaustion hit so we headed back to the hotel. Laura and I got ready for dinner and went for crepes with traditional French cider followed by a cute little cocktail bar for some drinks.

Day 3.

No sleep in today, we had early admission tickets to the Louvre and sadly had to say goodbye to Laura. The Louvre is beautiful, expansive and everything you probably have ever dreamed. Also impossible to do all in one day so I would suggest picking your favourite sections before and hitting those first. At our first coffee break disaster struck when I opened my bag to find sans phone (if you know the feeling then you know). A combination of bad Internet and my attempt not to get upset ended in a lot of upset and a trip to security. THANKYOU to the kind person who handed in my phone and while it was embarrassing to admit I had lost it to the people at the desk (thanks again Mum) I was elated to be reunited with it. With my phone safely in my bag we did more exploring and headed out for a late lunch. After visiting some gardens we trekked and I mean trekked to Sacré-Cœur stopping in Montmartre for an Aperol Spritz and to look through the art being sold in the square. My dad and I climbed the dome, which I only recommend if you are not afraid of heights and claustrophobic (both of which I am), however I faced the fear and it was worth it for the amazing views. Another gelato was well deserved after the climbing and we headed back to our hotel. We also had a failed dinner cruise that night but that is a story for another day.



Day 4.

A very special day! Mum’s birthday and the event that sparked the whole trip to begin with. We had a lie in, coffees and headed to the Picasso Museum. Then we walked around the Le Marais and did some shopping. Next we had more coffee and some macaron and eventually a little siesta before our final dinner in Paris. We went back to a restaurant my parents had visited previously which they entitled “The one with the grumpy hostess”. I had some quintessential French onion soup and shared some fries…all the croissants might have been catching up with me because I could not face a full main meal. Then back to the hotel again to pack before our flight the next day.

It was a quick trip but it just cultivated my love for everything French and especially Parisian even more. We walked a lot, I ate a lot of carbs and drank a lot of rose and loved every moment. I can’t wait to head back to this beautiful country in the future and explore more!

HONG KONG

Hong Kong is busy, expensive, overcrowded but lots of fun. I can’t say that I will be racing back to Hong Kong any time soon but I am glad that I have been.

This is defiantly an expensive city so I would suggest overestimating your spending money before you go. Not the place I would head to for a “cheapie” holiday, which are totally valid and some of the best holidays. Lets face it we don’t all just have endless funds to drop while travelling…if only right?

Anyway moving on from the money side of things, this a beautiful city but very much a city! I think the point of going to Hong Kong is to embrace the culture and with that comes the business and crowds. You can defiantly find little gaps of peace though.

One of the best thing to do is catch a ferry across Hong Kong Harbour, a practical way to get across it and a nice break from the train system. The ferries remind me of the old ferries in Sydney Harbour.

Also a classic is heading up the Peak (centre image below). You get some really scenic views of Hong Kong but head there early, the line for the tram gets insane! I mean obviously, I think I have already covered how many people there are. So we headed there just before it opened and go onto the second tram of the day, this was great because the Peak itself wasn’t crowded and we got to walk around in peace.

thumb_DSC_0050_1024thumb_DSC_0217_1024thumb_DSC_0079_1024

Next on my list is visit a temple, I really love to immerse myself in local culture when travelling because there is no better way to see a place. Below are pictures from Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road. This is one of the oldest traditional-styles temples in Hong Kong and was built-in the colonial era in 1847. This temple in nestled in and surrounded by sky scrapers.

There are over 600 temples in Hong Kong ranging in various religious beliefs, so there is something for everyone.

thumb_DSC_0231_1024thumb_DSC_0250_1024thumb_DSC_0247_1024

If you are looking for some peace in the busy city head to Kowloon Park, right in the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui. This once military fortress that was handed over to the public in 1970 is filled with lush gardens. My mum and I took a walk and found some local performance’s that were super fun to watch.

You have to go to at least one night market while you are there, they are super busy but super fun. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the market we went too – my sisters local friend took us to a few and this was a few years ago now. There are so many, you can look up some recommendation or ask a local.

thumb_DSC_0144_1024thumb_DSC_0172_1024thumb_DSC_0042_1024

I had never been to a Disney Land or World before so I took this opportunity to go. OMG does your inner child come out or what! I have no shame in loving Disney in my 20’s and this was one of the best days I had. Not sure why but there were no crowds…like none. I think my longest wait for a ride was 5 minuets, which is basically unheard of. There were quite a few people but a lot of families with young kinds that couldn’t go on the ride I was interested in.

We spent the whole day there, if you are planning to go just commit a day. We were exhausted after. It’s only a short train ride from the city and the trains run very consistently so getting there is easy.

Another one (not pictured) is the Hong Kong Ocean Park, much smaller and we only spent a half day there. I think it would be really good for families with younger kids.

thumb_IMG_4161_1024thumb_IMG_4176_1024thumb_IMG_4080_1024

Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden cut through Diamond Hills expansive sky scrapers and high-rise apartments with beautiful traditional architecture and gardens. Chi Lin Nunnery  was established in 1934 and renovated in Tang dynasty style (AD 618–907) in 1990, the Chi Lin Nunnery is a large temple complex of elegant wooden architecture, treasured Buddhist relics and soul-soothing lotus ponds. The Nan Lian Gardens is a public space that were also designed in  the Tang dynasty style and span over 3.5 hectares.

We visited here on our last day in Hong Kong at it was such a beautiful a peaceful way to end out trip. the gardens are serene and easy to while away a day in.

thumb_DSC_0348_1024thumb_DSC_0283_1024

Food time! I thought about doing a whole post on restaurants but it has been a few years since I visited so I am unsure if any of my recommendations would still be open. My top pick is a Korean BBQ called 7080, we went back multiple times because it was just so good! I love food so we went to lots of different restaurants but this is the only one that I am certain is still open.

img_3928

Gilli Islands

The Gilli Islands are situated roughly 3 hours from Indonesia and can be reached by a fast boat from Sanur. They are made up of three small islands, Gilli Trawangan, Gilli Meno and Gilli Air. Gilli Trawangan is the largest of the three and is more know as the “party island” and Gilli Meno and Gilli Air are more suited for honeymooners and couples. I have been to Gilli Trawangan and whilst if a party is what you are after you can find it, there are also plenty of places to relax and unwind.

The Gilli Islands are situated roughly 3 hours from Indonesia and can be reached by a fast boat from Sanur. They are made up of three small islands, Gilli Trawangan, Gilli Meno and Gilli Air. Gilli Trawangan is the largest of the three and is more know as the “party island” while Gilli Meno and Gilli Air are more suited for honeymooners and couples. I have been to Gilli Trawangan and if a party is what you are after you can find it, however there are also plenty of places to relax and unwind.

img_5090

Now lets talk accommodation and transportation…because they are both limited. I chose to stay a little out of the main hub as I wasn’t interested in the whole party scene but that also meant being further from restaurants and other activities. While the island is only about 6km in circumference and can be walked in 1.5hrs, late at night and when it is very dark the walk can seem a little longer. Also motorised vehicles are not a thing, its push power all the way…well that and donkeys. You have two options for transportation, a donkey and cart or push bike. If you hotel or villa is not in the main part of the town get a cart to take you to the hotel, not hard to find seeing’s as usual they are all waiting to pounce. Don’t get ripped off but also just pay them and get out of the chaos. Once you are all settled in your hotel head out and rent some push bikes, while walking is a viable option having a bike is great. A little PSA that the “roads” a very bumpy and you can end up with a sore rear end by the end of a long day. Overall I suggest looking at the accommodation carefully and try to get something not too isolated as the roads are barely lit at night and when a bike or walking are your only options it can feel a little eerie.

The Gilli’s are the place to be for snorkelling, beaches, relaxing, beaches and more beaches. I mean obviously it’s an island so don’t expect anything crazy but it is beautiful and perfect to spend a few days to unwind and relax (also so many Instagram opportunities). I am unsure if I could spend more than a few days there as I tend to get a little stir crazy when I feel trapped in my options…hence while you will never see me heading off on a cruise. There are some amazing snorkelling locations and I would suggest heading to the other island which I sadly didn’t, but places like Turtle Point on Gilli Meno are so close by and would be amazing experiences. Just go on Pinterest and look at the pictures if you don’t believe me! Seriously though if you are like me and have done Bali before or you have some time to spare, heading to the Gilli Islands for a few days in the middle of your trip is a nice change of pace and atmosphere.

Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is an island located southeast of Bali and takes about 30 minutes on a fast boast from Sanur. There are many different companies with varying boast sizes and for those who get sea sick luckily the ride is only 30 minutes but it can be very rough at times. You are able to take day trips quite easily but I would really recommend taking some time and going for at least a few days. This is my top location for rest and relaxation.

Nusa Lembongan is an island located southeast of Bali and takes about 30 minutes on a fast boast from Sanur. There are many different companies with varying boast sizes and for those who get sea sick luckily the ride is only 30 minutes but it can be very rough at times. You are able to take day trips quite easily but I would really recommend taking some time and going for at least a few days. This is my top location for rest and relaxation.

Nusa Lembongan is a relatively small island and you can ride around the island on a bike or in a buggy in a few hours. This is a places where you can choose how busy you want to be because while there is plenty of activities and things to explore it is also amazing if you just want to RELAX!

img_8740

The view of Mt Agung – Bali

Let’s start with a must do when you are going to Lembongan and that is diving with the Manta Rays, this will not be such a relaxing time. Be ready and well rested because while it may sound peaceful and they are pretty serene creatures…THEY ARE FAST! I mean obviously they will be better swimmers then me any day but there will be a lot of jumping out of a boat, swimming as fast as you can and then enjoying the moment you are able to spend with these magnificent creatures. We were very lucky to make friends with a local who booked tours for people and he organised for us to go out as family. I think this was the key to it being so amazing, we were not in a large group and our guide was really dedicated to finding us the Manta Rays. It also mean that we were not competing with 10-20 other people to get into the water, while we did sometimes run into them in the water it wasn’t a big imposition on the day. They guide picked us up and we travelled for about an hour or so until we got to the Manta Rays and then it is go time! They guide will spot a ray and tell you to jump, you have to be ready to go in your flippers and mask then just swim for your life in the direction they point.

We dove probably 10 times and were very lucky and got to see them a lot, there is always a risk with these kinds of things that you won’t get to see them. After a few hours of diving, jumping out and climbing back into the boat we were all feeling it. We then decided to go to another more traditional diving stop to see coral and fish. That was also beautiful. At the end of the day we just went back to the island and had a restful night, it is a very big and tiring day but so worth it!

There are plenty of other water related activities like paddle boarding, surfing the break, snorkelling etc. Also go for a tip through the mangroves, while we have mangroves in Australia they are nothing like the ones I came across in Lembongan. Endlessly intertwined roots and shaded canals makes for wonderful and peaceful experience. They are easy to get to, we rented a buggy while we were there and just followed the signs. I would recommend a buggy over a bike as the roads are very rough and especially if you are a family as you can have everyone in the same vehicle. Head up to the mangroves and find someone to take you on a boat , this is not something you need to book in advance but also don’t pay too much for it. There is no harm in bargaining.

Last but very not the least is my favourite restaurant/bar. The Deck is situated right on the edge of the island and the bar practically drops off into the ocean. This is one of the best spots to sit and watch the world go by. Great food and good drinks make for the perfect spot, plus get a coconut because once you drink all the water then will break it up for you and yummm!

All in all Lembongan is a great place to lay by a pool or on the beach for some relaxation, have afternoon cocktails and watch the sun set. I would say no more than a week in Lembongan as there is only so much to see, but it is a must see!

Bali – Mt Batur Sunrise Climb

Mt Batur at sunrise is something you have to experience if you are traveling to Bali! This is defiantly a bucket list moment and well worth the early morning and sweat that you have to go through to have this experience.

Mt Batur at sunrise is something you have to experience if you are traveling to Bali! This is defiantly a bucket list moment and well worth the early morning and sweat that you have to go through to have this experience.There are many different tours available that include activities post climb, however undergoing this climb will mean a VERY early start to your day. Most tours pick you up from your hotel between 1:30am and 2:30am depending on where you are coming from. I personally suggest only booking a tour that has the climb included (plus all the normal additions like breakfast at the top of the volcano).

This is definitely no walk in the park and I would really urge you to be relatively fit if you are thinking about doing this, or be prepared to miss the sunrise if you are slow up the trek. While I would consider myself quite a fit young individual this was still difficult, especially as the ground becomes looser as you get further up. The volcanic rock and loose terrain really means you are only taking half a step for every step you actually take. All this said it was so worth it but I think it is good to note so you don’t have any surprises (also take a jacket – Bali or not it gets mighty cold up the top of that volcano).

img_4833

I picked a tour with a medium-sized group and we were a mix of experienced hikers and a general tourist that just wanted the experience (we went with Bali Sunrise Trekking and Tours, they were wonderful!). The guides were fantastic and I would not recommend doing this walk without a guide. We were picked up from the hotel and taken to the company’s base (which was in another hotel) and given tea or coffee while we waited for all parties to be ready. Then we headed off on the hike! We took a break every half hour or so but if you needed a minute everyone was happy to stop. As it got steeper the breaks increased.

Do not be embarrassed about going alone or taking breaks! There is no harm in looking after yourself and really who cares if you are out of breath. Also be prepared, depending on the time of year, that there could be clouds and fog. My climb was on a very cloudy morning but there were breaks and it was still one of the best things I have ever done!

The guides cooked us eggs in the volcanic ash and had hot coffee and tea ready. There was breakfast of bread and other sweet items too. Enough to satisfy you after the hike, plus it is still pretty early at this point. After that take all the photos you need because seriously you just climbed a volcano! Also take the time to just sit and enjoy the sunrise and the peace and quiet that you get being so far above sea level.

img_4784

Once this is all over you get to climb back down…prepare to slip over on the loose gravel, I sure did. As someone who does not own hiking boots I was wearing sneakers and admittedly they were not as sturdy but I wasn’t about to go buy hiking boots for this one-time thing. We slid our way down the mountain and said our goodbyes to our fellow trekkers. The company drove us back to our hotel (I may have napped in the car on the way back) and we just relaxed for the rest of the day. The trip did take it out of us so we took the opportunity to relax in the pool and have a little walk around Ubud.

All in all I would seriously recommend doing this, I was such an amazing experience and you feel really good about scaling a volcano. Be prepared, take breaks and soak in the sunrise at the top!

Bali – Ubud and Seminyak

While there seems to be some stigma about it in some circles here in Australia, heading off to Bali for a family holiday every year was always exciting and has led to some amazing experiences that I am ooh so grateful for. Have a read about two of my favourite spots in Bali – Seminyak and Ubud

After jetting over to this wonderful tropical paradise over 30 time…yes I really mean 30. It has given me what I would consider some good grounds to write a few post about it. Over the years I have seen Bali develop and change into what it is today, while now it is much more a tourist destination you can still find the spots that give you the true Bali feel and allow you to escape what can only be described as mayhem. I find there are often complaints around how many people there are and are that fact that has become touristy, I think we have to keep in mind that around 90% of Bali’s revenue comes in from international tourism.

While there seems to be some stigma about it in some circles here in Australia, heading off to Bali for a family holiday every year was always exciting and has led to some amazing experiences that I am ooh so grateful for.

After jetting over to this wonderful tropical paradise over 30 time…yes I really mean 30. It has given me what I would consider some good grounds to write a few post about it. Over the years I have seen Bali develop and change into what it is today, while now it is much more a tourist destination you can still find the spots that give you the true Bali feel and allow you to escape what can only be described as mayhem. I find there are often complaints around how many people there are and are that fact that has become touristy, I think we have to keep in mind that around 90% of Bali’s revenue comes in from international tourism.

UBUD:

If you are looking for somewhere to unwind and chill, I couldn’t recommend Ubud more to you. Not overly dense with hotels and tourist you can find peace and quite up in Ubud, I would also say it is a good place to take day trips from if you happen to get board of the serenity.

Relaxing and all there is still plenty to do, it just has a much more clam vibe than somewhere like Seminyak…but we will talk about that later. There are some must in Ubud, number one is the Monkey forest also know as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. Hold on tight to your possession, the Monkey forest is exactly what is sounds like. However beyond monkeys (cute or not…depends on your opinion) this is a beautiful place to walk around, it is a site of some beautiful carvings and architecture as well as a spiritual and cultural site for the locals. Additionally if you don’t really like monkeys they will basically leave you alone if you don’t have food, they are far to distracted by all the people who have bought bananas.

Some other beautiful spots are Puri Saren Royal Palace, Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, Ubud Art Market and Tegenungan Waterfall. Obviously you are going to visit some beautiful rice terraces and eat some delicious local cuisine too. While these spots could be considered quite touristy destination they are extremely beautiful, a Bali classic and a must see for first time Bali goers.

img_4674

One less cultural spot but really one of the best days I had was spent relaxing at Jungle fish, a little on the pricy side for entry but worth it. If you have a few people book out a space beforehand and get ready to lay back with a book of your choice and cool off in the pool. Also the food was delicious and a cocktail or two was defiantly had.

My ultimate recommendation is to get a hotel or villa with an infinity pool looking into the forest and just walk around, there is nothing better than exploring a place with your own two feet. Ubud being one of the best for this because the lack of crowds (warning – it can be a little steep at times).

SEMINYAK:

Now lets talk about Seminyak, probably one of the most “crowded” and popular parts of Bali. It has it all, food, shopping, spas and bars. While it can get crazy (so many cars honking) and you can walk faster than any taxi drives, there is something charming about it and after a day or two the chaos seems to fade into the background. If you are planning to stay in Seminyak for an extended time you defiantly need to find the spots off the main strip where you can unwind. My number one recommendation if you are not a family with kids (no offence if you are) is to find a hotel that is mostly occupied by couples or groups that are here to chill out. Now this is very dependant of what you are looking for, you want to party there are places for it, you want lots of kids to keep yours occupied…well there are hotels for that too. Personally Bali is a place to unwind for me so I head towards more relax hotels where I can have a cocktail by the pool with no super loud music or screaming children. Not too much to ask and very easy to find.

Food, food, food! This is the spot if you love food, with a good mix of cheap and cheerful as well as some more up market restaurants, you can basically get everything you are craving. While I generally recommend that you eat local food as local always make their own cuisine better, Seminyak does offer some amazing non-Indonesia restaurants. Sisterfields has to be one of the most currently popular places, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Difficult to get a table for large groups, I would only recommend going in the busy times if you are less than 4…butttt the food and coffee are all worth the wait. As a coffee snob I don’t say that lightly. Wonderful spot for breakfast and lunch or a mid afternoon pick me up! Some of my other top recommendation’s are Batik, The Bistrot, Biku, Potato Head and La Favela.

img_4559

There is also great shopping too and like the food a healthy mix of high-end and market…all depending on what you are looking for. The explosion of boutiques in Seminyak has really been significant over the past 5 year. While it’s not at all market prices you can get some beautify high quality pieces. Also the leather shops! Do your research and find a good tailor that makes leather jackets. If you have the time I couldn’t recommend more than to take your favourite leather jacket or find a style you like and have one made to fit you perfectly! Last time I got a black suede jacket made and I barely ever take it off, I dream about going back just to have a few more leather jackets made. If you pick the right place you will have a well price, perfectly fitted jacket to last you for year and years.

There is plenty of shopping to be had, beaches to see and drink to cool down with. If you want to base yourself in one spot I would recommend Seminyak, easy to take day trips from and explore other part or Bali. Take trips and go snorkelling, visits water falls and serene rice terraces. More adventurous? Go four wheeling in the mud. There is so much to do and see but there is something nice about coming back to a place where you have many dinner options and can choose to have an early night if you need it.

As not to bore you longer with my ramblings, this begins a little series of Bali post. I have many things to tell you and this only beings to cover it so stay tuned!