Tag: travel

24
May

A trip to Europe is a YES, no matter your age or life stage.

When my friends and overlords at Expedia asked me to write a piece about Europe as a good holiday destination I said NO WAY and pretended to jam my fingers down my throat.

“Europe is the worst.”

“Then why do you keep going?” they said.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “That’s right. Europe is the FRIGGEN BEST.”

It really is. God, it’s good. And I’m not alone in loving a trip to Europe: USA and Asia aside, Europe is where Aussies go most for holidays. And good on us, I say! If we can suck up a 30-hour flight to Athens/Rome/Heathrow, we bloody deserve it.

Depending on our age or life stage, your Euro holidays will vary tremendously. But they’re all significant, whether they’re building resilience, or inspiring us creatively, or just giving us some unrivalled memories. After all, having your handbag stolen in Berlin when you’re 25 means you’re a smarter traveller when you’re in Venice at 35. Missing your flight to your cousin’s wedding in Sardinia at 22 and having to spend a night in Naples and $1,000 Euro on a new flight ensures you’ll never miss another flight again. And taking a two-month trip around Tuscany at 48 because you’ve earned it, well, that’s just bloody golden.

But before we get to the elegant-strolling-through-vineyards bit, there are a few European-holiday rites of passage…

*These may or may not be based on personal experience. You’ll never know and I’ll never admit it.

The Total Blur Trip

When you’re 18 and fresh out of high school, a party trip through Europe is a fantastic idea. (Do NOT tell my children this, please.) Mostly because organised tours, backpacking, compulsory socialising with strangers, and being broke doesn’t yet faze you. You must capitalise on this. Within a few years the idea of sharing a Spartan room with three snoring, deeply-boozed mates (and 1-2 non-English speaking but quite handsome holiday flings) in Mykonos will not seem fun, nor will having no money when you lose your credit card on a nightclub floor. Also, your body won’t be resilient to a daily diet of gyros and red bull vodkas forever. You’re here because the tour was cheap, because everyone else was going, and because FOMO in the age of social media is torture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeeing important ruins with a hangover/while being a goose, and not paying any attention is a vital part of growing up. 

 

The Fun Seeking Adventure

In your early twenties the thrill of being overseas far outweighs the expensive and largely prohibitive experience of visiting places like Paris and London. But you’re 23! You don’t care that your bedroom is the size of a mandarin! That you’re sleeping next to a train line and a nightclub! That the low cost airline lost your suitcase and you’ve been wearing the same jeans for 10 days! You’re as robust as McDonalds lard, which, funnily enough, is probably your major food group, along with street crepes and pots of cider. You walk or catch trains everywhere; you actively and happily meet new people (a trend that will fade with each subsequent trip), and the idea of your accommodation being anything more than a place to store your suitcase, and occasionally, your head, is truly foreign. You’re here for adventure, for excitement, and for experiences: good, bad, uncomfortable, ecstatic: all of it. Your energy, resilience and enthusiasm is disgustingly buoyant. Embrace it.

VENICEPlease note my elegant bumbag. Please also note it’s fake Gucci. Many thanks.

 

The Grown-Up Euro Holiday

By thirty, many of us have set off on the classic sightseeing adventure of, say, Venice, Rome and Florence. This is when travel finally starts to look a bit more like Real Life, as opposed to making you feel and live one notch up from a backpacker. Your hotel offers more for breakfast than boxed cereal and cordial, decent dining kicks in, and souvenirs extend beyond ashtrays and shot glasses. Since you saved up so much money for so long to take this trip, you chew the bone and suck the marrow: no landmark is left unphotographed, no three hour queue for David unjoined, no signature aperitif undrunk. You give every day 120% and your sore feet, depleted bank account and sky-high calorie count are proof. You’re here to see and appreciate other cultures, collect memories, and amass a nuclear social media feed. GOOD!

 

SCOTLANDThis is a small Scottish castle. It was 11.30pm and freezing, despite being mid-summer. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA ladies trip to Santorini. It may not get better.

….. Read the rest of the article here!

But not here.

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04
Apr

Can you take a toddler to the Maldives?

Yep. And you can do it very cheaply if they fit into your suitcase and are good at being quiet.

I jest! I jest. Luggage restrictions are so tight these days that it would actually cost more to pop your kid into your Samsonite than pay for his or her seat. (Also, where will all of your vacation Crocs go?)

It’s a valid question.

Last year we went to the Maldives – a destination typically thought of as being a Honeymoon destination, a lover’s paradise, a rekindle-the-flame getaway, and the perfect place to renew your vows or propose.

In short: couples, not multiples.

But while the bulk of resorts in the Maldives are perfectly and expertly crafted to exclusively accommodate couples, featuring the kind of luxurious over-water bures that would give any parent a heart attack, extremely sophisticated fine dining, and not a single Pixar offering on the in-house movie menu, what you may not know is that many resorts and islands in the Maldives, (an increasing number, in fact) understand that some families actually like each other enough to want to holiday together, and it can be terrifically bonding and the genesis of life-long memories.

And it’s no longer just the super swanky 5-star resorts, either: from nannies, to kids clubs, kids-only pools, and healthy, fresh menus for children, if you do your research, you’ll discover you can take the family to the Maldives, and if you’re clever, still thieve a respectable amount of couple time, too. (Bandos and Kurumba are among the better-priced resorts with kids clubs.)

Read the full article here.

But not here.

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08
Jul

Your ultimate guide to Queenstown.

[This was originally posted on Expedia, cos I am their blogging Travel King, although weirdly they refuse to call me by my proper title or send me the crown I asked for. ]

Until a few years ago, I’d never been to New Zealand. No real desire to, either. I figured it would be like Australia, but, you know, colder. What a goose.

But in 2010 my husband filmed a feature film on the South Island, and I went along to write a novel without the distractions of friends/shopping/Sydney/reliable internet. It wasn’t long before we escaped the ‘bustling metropolis’ that is Invercargill, ahem, and headed to Queenstown. The attraction was instant and profound; this is a remarkable, astonishingly beautiful slice of the earth. Queenstown is now my favourite place in the world and we now head over there a few times a year.

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My spiel to Aussies who are yet to endure the grueling 2-3 hour flight over there goes something along the lines of: OH BUT YOU REALLY MUST. Queenstown and its surrounds has the most breathtaking scenery you can imagine: aquamarine lakes set against jagged, snowcapped mountains and rolling hills, plus outstanding dining, beautiful hikes, world-class wines, every ridiculous physical extreme activity you can imagine (read: good for kids or daredevils) and five-star snow fields.

My more specific spiel is as follows:

DINE, WINE, BUY

Queenstown sits in the Otago region, which produces arguably the best Pinot Noir in the world. While there are several billion excellent wineries to visit, I recommend Amisfield Winery (book in for lunch and pray for sun so you can sit outside and soak up the surrounds) and definitely buy some wine and have it shipped home before you leave, and also Gibbston Winery, who make award-winning Pinot Noir but also some of the very best chardonnay you can guzzle, and serve a fantastic lunch also.

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GO IN AUTUMN

To be fair, each season is as good as the next in Queenstown. Winter brings snow and sees this resort town heaving with funseekers from all over the world, Spring and Summer are picture perfect and ideal for hikers and bike heads, but Autumn is magic. Never have you seen such vivid colour (and such a spectrum of colour). Your best vantage point is in the beautiful little goldmining settlement of Arrowtown, around 20 minutes out of Queenstown, where you should take one million photos and keep an eye out for international car advertisements being shot on the winding, tree-lined streets.

SPEAKING OF ARROWTOWN…

It’s a secret foody go-to spot of ours. We love the breakfast and lunch at Chop Shop, and some early evening tapas at La Rumbla, and never miss a chance to pig on at the award-winning Saffron for lunch or dinner. (Get the curry or forever regret it.) A flick at Dorothy Brown afterwards with some wine and cheese is the perfect full stop.

JUST REGARDING PIGGING ON

Queenstown offers some exceptional dining options. It must! It spends most of the year catering to a well-heeled international crowd who demand good grub. My top pick for a fancy feast is Rata, which is owned by Michelin-starred chef Josh Emmet, and which is probably the most ‘fine dining’ option available. Next would be Botswana Butchery, which does the most succulent lamb shoulder for two on earth, and offers a warm, relaxed, dining-in-someones-house, feel. It’s perfect for a group dinner since they have private rooms, and it can’t be beat on a sunny day for a lunch outside overlooking Lake Wakatipu. (Start with Peking duck; finish with local cheeses.) Some other favourites are Madam Woo, which has a Sydney/Melbourne vibe, and offers hawker style Chinese/Malaysian food in a chic, modern restaurant (start with an Asian-style cocktail and prawn dumplings then definitely order the chicken roti hawker roll), and finally, there is VKnow, which is five minutes out of town and which does some of the most exceptional homemade Italian pizza and pasta you can imagine coupled with an outstanding wine list. The best breakfast in Queenstown is at Vudu, and it goes without staying (but not writing, apparently) that you must try a burger from the world-famous Fergburger. Queue too long? Grab a pie (and a Boston bun) from the Fergbaker next door instead. Deeeelicious.

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 OH, SNOW ON THEN

There are two main ski areas in Queenstown: Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, which are open mid-June to October-ish. Coronet Peak, (depending on weather conditions/icy roads) is a much gentler and more pleasant way to get your snow fix (and better for kids) than The Remarkables, which a bit more serious, and which can only be accessed by a hair-raising road brimming with hairy cliff drop offs.

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DO ALL THE ‘THINGS’

You know… the Bungy jumping, the skydiving, the helicopter rides, the parasailing, the paragliding, the gondola up to the luge, the mountain bike riding, the Shotover Jet… all the things. This is an adventure town, after all.

WALK!

Queenstown is home to numerous tramps and hikes. This is New Zealand, land of walking/biking/camping, after all! Try a three or four day hike like the Routeburn Track, which traverses the magnificent Southern Alps, or the Milford Track within the movie-set beauty of Milford Sound. For those who want a quick hit, try the fierce incline of Queenstown Hill (the views are worth it, and you will really earn your Fergburger), or the Moonlite Track, which is as long as you want it to be, and kicks off at Arthur’s Point, five minutes out of Queeny, or a stroll around Lake Hayes, which is scenic and gentle.

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RUB IT DOWN

Any ski town must offer decent massage options; all those poor snow battered bodies need desperate TLC. My pick is either Le Spa at Sofitel, (ask for RiRi if possible), who offer excellent deep tissue massages, and also a fantastic pregnancy massage should you happen to need one, or else make a trip to the spa at Millbrook and watch bunnies hop by a stream as you wait for your treatment to begin.

 HAVE A DRINK BY THE FIRE

Have five! You’ve earned it with all that walking and skiing and that, uh, massage. I love standing by the hearth at Bunker or Bardeaux (both in town) with an Old Fashioned or a Martinez to cap off a night.

A BED FOR THE NIGHT

From the superluxe Matakauri Bay (Prince Willy and Katie stayed here), or the cosy, luxurious comfort of Azure, (both ten minutes out of town), to the boutique feel of Eichardt’s Private Hotel or The Spire (perfectly positioned in town) to the English countryside elegance of Millbrook in Arrowtown, to the familiar names like The Sofitel or The Novotel, there are options for every budget, taste, or group size in Queenstown.

From backpackers to grimy teenage snowboarders to families and honeymooners and the superwealthy, private jet folk, Queenstown caters to everyone. It really is the best holiday you’ve never been on. GO.

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 Expedia’s blog has four zillion great travel articles. Read some, why don’t you?
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05
Dec

Don’t take four serums overseas.

As a beauty editor, frequent flyer and now mother, I wrote a piece for Expedia on the golden rule of travel beauty, which is: take heaps of bubble gum.

No, wait. It’s: keep it simple. Or, pay the price. (Literally. In luggage weight charges.)

Preparation is king.

Travel isn’t the time to be wasting precious minutes on boring stuff like applying mascara, blow-drying hair, fake tanning, manicures and so on. So, do all you can before you leave to make your holidays a, ‘I’m up, let’s go!’ experience, rather than, ‘Just give me half an hour.’ Get eyelash extensions. Have a keratin smoothing treatment put through your hair. Get a spray tan. Get gel polish on your toes and get a nude manicure (no polish or clear) on your fingers so you won’t have chipped, skanky nails a week in. (Natural is the new black anyway.) Waste time on your appearance before you leave, not once you arrive.

Pack everything a week out.

Then, the day before, when you’re adding your daily essentials, (sunscreen, cleanser, foundation etc.) remove 30% of what you packed. You do not need four serums. Nor do you need your hair curler and hair straightener, plus three brushes. Travel provides a wonderful opportunity to do a beauty detox. I’m not asking you to look like a banshee for two weeks, but I am asking you to reconsider how much of your suitcase you are dedicating to stuff you don’t need and won’t use during two weeks in Peru.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

DON’T READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

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15
Oct

Rather Good Things.

Here’s a list of some Rather Good Things. I’ve mentioned before how much I crave recommendations on everything, so I just arrogantly assume others feel the same way.

Oh come on. I know you love lists. Seen you on Buzzfeed, getting your list fix. Cute animals. Seeing if you’re a real 90s baby. Etc.

1. Cinnamon Scrolls from Oregano Bakery in Sydney.

Oregano_Cinnamon_scrolls

I found these cult scrolls when my friends bought me a six pack of them the day before The Logies a few years back. Which seemed a bit cruel at the time, but they weren’t to know I was in pre-event tight-dress sashimi and berries only mode. I of course ate two the moment I got back to my hotel room post-Logies. Obviously. That Gelato Messina did an Oregano Cinnamon Scroll flavour earlier this year has only strengthened my adoration. Obviously.

 

2. The iPhone 6 Plus.

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Oooh, toooo big, I thought. Then I got one. Day one started off with ooh, too big, why am I using an iPad posing as a phone? And then, by lunchtime I had changed my tune to, ooooh, so big! I LIKE THE BIGNESS IT WOULD SEEM. I like it because I can see more of everything. More of my emails. Text rallies. Webpages. And Instagram pictures look phenomenal.  While I am a complete Apple tragic, and I have a Macbook Air and an iPad Air because of their lightness and littleness and ease-of-use-anywhereness, I seem to still do everything on my phone. All my emails. Millions of texts. Researching online. Social media. All of it is done on my phone. (Especially since I am often breastfeeding or holding my tiny giant and have only one hand.) Now I am not peering, now I am reading properly. Everything feels fresh and new!  You Samsung kids were really onto something after all. (AND, it has a ‘recently deleted’ photo album in case, like me, you always accidentally delete pics you didn’t mean to.)

NB: I bought a case for it because the bigness and slipperiness made me feel like I was going to drop it all the time.

3. Surrender, by Slow Dancer

I found this album by serendipity on Rdio and it has been thrashed in our house. Because it is marvellous. Slow Dancer is an Aussie lad, it transpires, which is great but mostly I just want to say that this perfectly edited ten-track wonder is smooth as heck and the perfect dinner or driving music. (Listen for free here.) I tend to pop it on at about 5pm and it makes the whole evening feel groovy and pour-us-a-winey. Put in on and impress your friends, why don’t you.

SlowDancer_Surrender

 

4. Bright Starts Lots of Links

Another mum gave me these when Sonny was about three months. Said she found them useful, maybe I would too? Since then they have proved themselves invaluable about 17 frillion times. I go to text her daily to applaud her vision. They are perfect for his fat little paws to gab onto, they make anything playful, you can jam any toy, teething ring, soft toy (by the tag) and dangly whatsit on a ring or five and you have instant toys. They hang off prams and activity centres, (those play mats you lay on the floor with the overhanging bridges) cots, and they keep muslins clipped over the pram when Sonny sleeps. And they were a bloody lifesaver on our international flight/trip last month because we had new toys and new variations thereof hanging off errthing always to excite our baby and we were total hero parents. That’s what I’ve heard anyway.

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5. The DermaQuest Power Alpha Peptide Resurfacer treatment

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Cool turban, babe. Not so cool pigmentation.

 

I have had two of these at Me Skin and Body in South Yarra (Brooke, the owner, is pretty much in charge of my skin these days) in the past fortnight since I got back from being overseas in a sunny climate which, as usual, made my hyperpigmentation come out, and because of all the flying and sunblock, made my skin dry, dull and just so shit. The idea being that it will help bring out and fade that pigmentation but also brighten the skin in general, clear out all the grubby clogged pores, retexturise the skin and make it JUICY with hydration.

The professional-only treatment (in other words, you have to have it in a clinic or salon) combines lactic and glycolic acid to perform a gentle peel (this is pretty much the ideal combo of AHAs in my opinion for visible results but no flaking or swelling or even redness afterwards) with peptides, the darling of anti-ageing skin care, to rebuild and strengthen the skin, stop inflammation and diminish fine lines. The perfect treatment to get skin looking happy and healthy again. (Peptides become more important for us when we are in our forties, but they certainly don’t hurt to get into if your skin needs some extra TLC.)

I will likely have one more (since it’s racing season and I am doing some events it doesn’t hurt to have nice looking skin, ay) and then just maintain at home with my Go-To cleanser/face cream and Exfoliating Swipeys, plus a brightening serum, like Aspect Extreme-C. Triffic!

 

 

 

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