After being in the rainforest, I thought that Sydney would be slightly cooler, but the first thing that hit me when I got off the plane was the heat! We also figured out pretty soon that driving in Sydney, was worse than driving in London; our taxi driver was going so fast out of the airport that when the bottom of the car hit a speed bump, it actually cut out! As we made our way out into the city, the first thing I noticed was the amount of traffic; it was rammed with cars, ALL of them ignoring traffic lights and queuing across junctions. When we arrived at the hotel, I couldn’t wait to get out of the taxi!
That evening we found ourselves a small vegan café to eat at, and then headed over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to do the bridge climb. Before I’d even reached the top I was wearing ALL of my layers, including a fleece and a hat – it was freeeeezing!! The view was amazing though; seeing Sydney all lit up in the darkness was a breath taking sight.
The next day we got up bright and early to use the gym before heading off to explore the city. The heat was exhausting. There were Christmas trees and decorations in all of the shop windows and we couldn’t get our head around people celebrating Christmas in the sun! We saw workmen in the street putting up the main Christmas tree and placing a star on top; it just didn’t feel right.
There were so many park areas in Sydney that it didn’t feel like a city, and when we headed into the Botanical Gardens there were cockatoo’s everywhere, rather than the pigeons that we get here in the UK. Leisurely strolling around the gardens, taking in the sun and the landscape I realised that I really liked Australia but couldn’t believe I was actually there! We’d been planning the trip for quite some time, and now the reality had finally set in. When we reached the Sydney Opera House I wasn’t prepared for how magnificent it would look; it was such an awe inspiring building. We spent two nights down on the harbour taking photographs and the exploring the city by night.
On the last night we found a small Italian restaurant not far from the harbour, and as we ate our evening meal, we toasted to the next part of our journey…….we were leaving Australia and heading off to Queenstown, New Zealand………
Filed under: Personal, Travels
| Comments Off
I’ve been a busy little bee over the past few days, so this is a little later than expected this week………
We flew from Brisbane to Cairns, and then from Cairns we drove up to Daintree Rainforest. We had been panicking about getting across the Daintree River. What if we missed the ferry? There’s no other way across the river. People we met along the way laughed at us and just told us not to worry as the ferry was regular and there was no way we would miss it. When we reached the ”ferry” we realised why everyone had laughed at us. It was a car ferry. It held about 4 cars, it was on a pulley system, and the journey took about 2 minutes! I was quite grateful really, because the one and only time I’ve been on a ferry from Dover to Calais, I was really sea sick.
As soon as we left the car ferry and entered the rainforest we had no phone signal. When we checked into our Motel and realised there was no internet access either, it was quite clear our rainforest adventure had begun! It was peaceful. We drove around exploring the walks and beaches that the rainforest had to offer. Luckily just before we arrived, there had been constant rain for a few weeks, so the rainforest was just coming to life; before that it had been dry for months. Apparently, it had been one of the worst droughts for a number of years.
We went out snorkelling to the Great Barrier Reef one day. It was beautiful. As the boat made its way through the clear blue water, I suddenly felt so small; so tiny and insignificant. I looked around, and for miles in every direction there was nothing. Just open water. Luckily I didn’t get sea sick on the boat! We got to see two sea turtles which is quite rare; we had been warned beforehand that we might not get to see any, so it was an amazing sight. As we relaxed on the boat and headed back towards the rainforest, we were greeted with the sight of Cape Tribulation. It was another beautiful sight to put an end to a perfect day.
The night before we left Daintree, we headed out onto a nocturnal walk of the rainforest. Murray, our guide, gave us flashlights each and then we headed out under the cover of darkness. It was amazing just listening to the sounds of the rainforest, trying to figure out which animals were making the noises. When we turned off our torches, we were met with the sight of a group of fireflies circling above us in the night sky. Throughout the walk Murray pointed out all the creatures of the rainforest, some of which only came out at night.
The next day we headed out of Daintree and back to civilisation; we drove down into Cairns to continue onto the next part of our journey; we were flying to the vibrant city of Sydney…….
Filed under: Travels
In November 2009 Ian and I took a month out to go travelling around Australia and New Zealand. When we first started planning the trip, the idea was to spend a month in Australia, but then we realised that it would be silly to travel all that way and not go to New Zealand as well. It’s one of the best thing’s we’ve ever done.
When we arrived in Brisbane, we were on a high, and 2 days of travelling wasn’t going to stop us from doing anything. We sat and had a coffee whilst waiting for our apartment to be ready and decided what our plan of attack was.
We were staying at Kangaroo Point, about a 20 minute walk from Brisbane city centre, which suited us. We headed out into the sun ready to begin our adventures, but by the time we sat down to lunch jetlag started to kick in. We sat by the Brisbane river watching life go by. People watching. It was so relaxed compared to back home. Boats sailed by and people enjoyed a glass of wine with their food. Laughing. Smiling.
Jetlag came in waves. We tried to ignore it and headed off to explore the shops. After I fell asleep in a clothes shop we decided to head back to the apartment. We stopped to rest on the walk back and Ian fell asleep on a bench. This was not the adventure we were hoping for!
Once back at the apartment we rested up before heading out for our evening meal. After we’d eaten, back at the apartment Ian gave in to the jetlag and passed out in the bedroom. I continued to fight it and spent a couple of hours out on the balcony with my camera. Capturing trail lights. Trying to catch the sun setting. Zooming in and out on the bridge.
Hand held light trails as Ian drove across the bridge one night…….!!
The next day we realised that life starts early in Australia. People were up and about well before 6am, jogging, biking and dog walking. This was our kind of place. It felt good. Our stay in Brisbane was mainly to try and combat the jetlag, but it was also the start of our adventure. We wandered around aimlessly just taking in the city and admiring some of the beautiful architecture. For the next month we would be living out of suitcases enjoying a whistle stop tour of places we’d only ever dreamed of visiting…….
Next week nocturnal adventures in the rainforest…….
Filed under: Travels
| Comments Off
When we told people we were going away to get married and that San Francisco was part of our trip, many people gushed over how amazing it was. How much they loved it. How eager they were to return.
We arrived late afternoon, booked into our hotel, had a bit of a rest and then got showered and changed ready to head out for the evening. By the time we left the hotel it was dark. I hated it. The whole place felt hostile. There were panhandlers everywhere asking for money; it was intimidating. Admittedly, exploring a major city under the cover of darkness probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but we had to eat! Once we’d eaten we headed back to the hotel and had a drink in the bar; we took advantage of the free tequila we were given due to the fact that we were on our honeymoon!
We’re not city people, but obviously when travelling the idea is to experience different things, and we realise that there are certain cities that must be visited. The next day we headed back out and things didn’t seem quite so bad.
Alcatraz was on our list of things to do whilst in San Francisco, I’d booked the tickets a couple of weeks before we flew out to Las Vegas, and it didn’t disappoint. It was eery. But interesting. When we finished the tour and wandered around the island we were confused at how familiar everything was. We knew what each building was and seemed to know what was around each corner. It was strange. We soon realised it was from playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 – a sure sign that once we returned home we needed to step away from the Playstation!!
One day we took a brief trip up to the Golden Gate park and on the way took a wrong turn into a very wrong neighbourhood. We agreed to flag down the next taxi or jump onto the next bus that appeared. Nothing did. We walked for about 30 minutes following the age old saying “If you look like you know what you’re doing, no-one questions you”. Luckily we didn’t look like tourists and we made it safely through to the other side. I breathed a sigh of relief!
We walked through Haight Ashbury, the hippy district, and then spent about an hour looking around Amoeba Records, the best music store we’ve ever been to. Other good things about San Francisco was visiting the original Benefit store and having my make-up done for free – the girls in the shop went crazy when they realised we were from the UK!
As with all cities we visit, when the time came to leave San Francisco, I was ready. I definitely didn’t leave my heart there like the song suggests, but I think it has more to offer than I first gave it credit for.
Filed under: Travels
| Comments Off
After leaving the warmth of Death Valley, we set off on an 8 hour drive to Yosemite National Park. Some of the scenery we passed was breathtaking. After being in the heat of the Death Valley sun we never thought about where we were heading and what the weather would be like. Unfortunately for us the difference between Death Valley and Yosemite was as far apart as you could get. I was dressed in shorts and flip flops expecting continued heat, only when we reached Yosemite it had been snowing and it was cold. So cold. The roads were long and winding and it took about an hour to drive across the park.
The next day when we headed out walking, the weather was pretty changeable. Not like the Grand Canyon though; in one day at the Canyon we experienced sun, rain, 40mph winds (with sand storm!), sleet and then some snow! Luckily in Yosemite it was either just warm or cold.
The thing we did experience in Yosemite was just how fast it goes dark. The park didn’t have any lamps as they believe in keeping things as natural as possible for the wildlife. Being regular walkers we had everything with us; changes of clothes, windproofs, waterproofs, food, water, compass etc. We had everything we needed apart from a torch. Rookie mistake. It literally went from light to dark. Pitch black. We were walking around with our arms stretched out in front of us hoping we wouldn’t bump into anything.
Everytime I heard something in the bushes, I thought it was a bear, as it’s at night when the bears come out! As we got closer to the car park we could use the occasional light from a car headlight to try and see where we were, but it was no good. Ian frantically started to press the key fob for the car hoping the lights would start flashing nearby. They didn’t!
Eventually we managed to find our way in the dark to the shop where we bought a torch. Affectionately now known as “the bear torch”. Luckily our bear torch managed to get us back to the car without being mauled by any bears (dramatic – I know)! We headed back to our hotel to get some rest, ready for the next part of our journey.
The next day we were driving to San Francisco for the last stop on our travels……Continued next week!
Filed under: Travels
After getting married in Las Vegas, we spent two weeks doing a mini road trip. One of the places we drove through was Death Valley and I fell in love with it instantly. For somewhere that was so sparse, it was incredibly beautiful and I’d never seen landscape like it before. We drove for hours without passing anyone; it was so serene and I was deeply moved by it.
We drove for hours without passing anyone……
We were heading for the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort but just before we reached our destination we saw a group of people stood around, so we parked up and walked over to where they were. Luckily enough we were just in time to watch the sun go down. It was amazing.
Before we arrived in Death Valley, we’d heard stories how at certain times of the year the floor can be covered in scorpions. We stayed in a self-contained cabin and while we didn’t meet any scorpions we did meet with an unidentified flying insect that was as big as Ian’s hand! After arguing for at least 5 minutes over who was going to catch it, we finally decided to join forces and do it between us; we trapped it under a container and left it there while we went out to eat. Later on when we returned we decided we still weren’t ready to deal with it so we left it over night; we both lay in bed wide awake listening to it shuffle around! The next morning as we were leaving we quickly removed the tub and then ran out reeeeeeally quickly!!
We only stayed over for one night on our way from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite National Park, but the next morning before leaving we went out for a run. Even though it wasn’t much after 6am, the sun was already high in the sky starting to beat down. As Death Valley is 282ft below sea level the air quality was brilliant and 30 minutes into the run we were amazed to find we weren’t particularly out of breath!
Neither of us realised what an impact Death Valley would have on us and staying over for one night really didn’t give us the chance to explore. I loved our short time in Death Valley and at some point in the future I would love to go back and spend more time there, exploring the landscape and the many ghost towns that this beautiful place has to offer.
Next week: Yosemite National Park
Filed under: Travels
| Comments Off
Week two of the new feature “Travels……” Following on from Las Vegas last week……
On our two week mini road trip, we had factored in a mix of city stops and walking expeditions. A few days after getting married we left the bright lights of Las Vegas and headed over to the Grand Canyon for a couple of nights.
Sunset on the way to Tusayan…..
We were staying in a small town just outside of the Grand Canyon called Tusayan. It was tiny, with just The Red Feather Lodge (where we were staying), a Holiday Inn, McDonalds, Wendy’s, an Imax cinema, the Cowboy Ranch Steak House and a petrol station with store. Everywhere had closed at 9pm apart from McDonalds – I hate McDonalds. It looked like it hadn’t been decorated since the 70’s and the food was dripping in grease. Even after wiping off as much grease as I could, I still couldn’t eat it and went to bed hungry.
The next morning we headed off to the Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise. We arrived there just after 6am and already there were hundreds of people there fighting for a spot with their camera. I was still pretty novice at the time, so I caught what I could – but now I long to go back and get some real photo’s!
We watched the sunrise and then headed off to have a second breakfast before venturing down into the canyon on a walk. There were signs everywhere telling visitors not to feed the squirrels; they were everywhere begging for food. They were all so fat and as we found out when we stopped to eat lunch, they have no problem climbing up your leg and into your ruck sack in the hope of getting some food!
At the end of the day we went back to the lodge to shower and change then headed over to the Cowboy Ranch Steak House. We had the worst waitress in the world and when we asked for more time to order, she literally turned her back on us for 10 seconds and then turned back wanting our order! It’s the only place I’ve been to where I’ve been shouted at for eating my food ‘in the wrong order’! It was an experience to say the least – it makes me so glad that I’m now vegetarian!
The next day we continued with our road trip and headed over to Death Valley ……..(continued next week)
Filed under: Travels
I’ve never really been a fan of cities. I like walking, taking in beautiful scenery, saying hello to fellow walkers and then getting to the top of a hill and being greeted by an A-MAZ-ING view. I love the serenity of the countryside, the wildlife, the flowers and the cleaner air.
….but sometimes I get touched by a city; sometimes I visit somewhere that leaves a mark on my heart. Las Vegas is one of those places. It’s larger than life, friendly, fun and also the place where Ian and I got married. It’s a place filled with character and somewhere I long to return to. We stayed at The Signature at MGM Grand, one of the only hotels on the strip without a casino and it was beautiful. The view from our room on the 15th floor was stunning; looking out across Nevada all lit up at night was amazing.
It’s somewhere I’ll never forget and somewhere I can’t wait to go back to. Las Vegas is also on my list of places where I’d love to photograph someone’s wedding! Maybe one day……!
Filed under: Personal, Travels