Bucket-list

18 Life-Changing Places To Visit Before You Die

Prepare to believe in magic again.

October 14, 2015

Why You Need A F*#k It List And Not A Bucket List

It’s likely that you’re already familiar with the bucket list, but have you ever considered creating a f*#k it list? While the nether is great for listing all the goals and dreams that you hope to one day fulfil, it doesn’t take into consideration the now – which, according to numerous spiritual gurus, is where all of our power lies. So, dear reader, what exactly is a f*#k it list and why should you be ditching your trusty bucket list in favour of one?

RELATED: Throwback Thursday: Hidden Treasures To Add To Your Bucket List

The FU list is ultimately about letting go of anything that might hold you back from reaching your full potential and achieving your goals. This could be anything from caring too much about how others perceive you, to not saying how you really feel. In essence, it’s about taking back control of your life in order to get to where you want to go; saying “f*#k it” to the things that really don’t serve you a purpose.

Let me ask you this: how many times have you withheld an idea or a comment in fear of being wrong? How many times have you not acted on something – like giving that cute stranger your number – because you were afraid of looking foolish? And how many times have you looked back on that moment only to be filled with some type of regret? The point is that if you act out of fear, doors are less likely to open up for you and you’re less likely to be open to life. As the saying goes: it’s better to say ‘oh well’ than ‘what if.’

So, on that note, ladies, here’s the top 5 f*#k it’s to include on your list!

  1. F*#k it, I can’t be liked by everyone.

It’s a fact: you can’t be liked by everyone. And if you were, it would be a damn exhausting job people pleasing 24/7 – because let’s face it, that’s exactly what you would have to do. According to an article by the Huffington Post, if “about 85 percent of the people you meet like you, you are probably doing something right,” and on the contrary, “if much more than 85 percent of the people you meet like you, you are probably doing too much to get along.”

This isn’t to say that you’re not a likeable person, it just means that not everyone has the same likes or holds the same values as you do. If you find that you rub people the wrong way or vice versa, let it go. Instead, cherish the wonderful friendships that you do have.

  1. F*#k it, I’m going to say what I feel.

This is something that a lot of people struggle with, and surprisingly, it can do a lot more harm than good. In an article by The Guardian, a palliative nurse who had counselled the dying revealed the most common regrets that they had in their final days. Interestingly, not saying how they truly felt was among the top five.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others,” the article read. “As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

  1. F*#k it, it’s okay to fail.

Getting knocked back or failing at something is a part of life. But just because you fail once doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail for the rest of your years. Some of the most successful people in the world, including Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling, were told no several times – and low and behold, they found their way to a big fat yes.

Let us all take some advice from Thomas A. Edison the next time things don’t go according to plan: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

  1. F*#k it, I’ll worry about it if and when it happens.

Did you know that 85 per cent of the things that we worry about never happen? Let me repeat that number: 85 per cent! Yep, research conducted by the University of Cincinnati proves it. What’s more, the study found that 79 per cent of us actually surprise ourselves in our ability to handle the 15 per cent that does happen.

This is incredible considering we spend a good part of our lives worrying about all of the things that could go wrong. Can you imagine what could happen if we were to put that energy into thinking about all of the things that could go right? Oh the possibilities!

  1. F*#k it, it’s okay not to have all of the answers.

Life is full of uncertainty. You’re guaranteed to keep your job no more than you’re guaranteed to live for the next fifty years. So, why is it that we feel control over circumstance equates to stability and happiness? Because quite often, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, it leads to frustration and disappointment.

It’s okay to make the wrong decision, adjust it or learn from – you weren’t to know the outcome. Besides, sometimes it’s the wrong decisions in life that ultimately lead to the right ones. As Tony Robbins once said: “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.”

What would you put on your list?

June 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Hidden Treasures To Add To Your Bucket List

There will always be amazing places to add on to that never-ending travel bucket list, but here are 3 that have to be seen to be believed

Paro, Bhutan

This historic town is a peaceful getaway for those wanting to relax and get in touch with nature. Paro is home to many sacred sites including that of the unofficial symbol of Bhutan: Taktsang Monastery located right on the edge of a 1,200 meter cliff. The Monastery was first established as a place of meditation in 747 CE by Guru Taktsang, and now restored as an impressive site of glory. The trek is strenuous and long, it can take up to 3 hours completely uphill, though all worth it in the end. If that doesn’t sound achievable, there is a horse ride for a small price of USD $10 for a one-way trip up the mountain.

Switzerland, Bhutan, Iceland, travel, adventure, bucket list, destination, holiday

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

This wonder was formed in 1976 as a power plant when employees began to notice the amazing effects on their skin from bathing in the lagoon, it was then in 1987 the facility was opened to the public as a bath and sold skin care products for psoriasis patients.  Now Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited spots in Southwestern Iceland, the geothermal spa is situated in a lava field in Grindavík on top of the Mid Atlantic Ridge, meaning technically you are also swimming over two continents. The mineral-rich waters of the lagoon have an average temperature of fourty degrees Celsius and are still rumoured to have remedial powers.

Switzerland, Bhutan, Iceland, travel, adventure, bucket list, destination, holiday

 

Interlaken, Switzerland

This town is located in the Interlaken-Oberhalsi administrative district in the Swiss canton of Bern, the mountain getaway is a well-known beauty full of adventure. The popular resort destination is the perfect winter sport holiday, you will find yourself constantly entertained with the many activities including skydiving, and toboggan rides, sledding, and of course snowboarding or skiing down the amazing snow covered mountains. There is also things to do when you are in need of some down time, a leisurely hike or boutique shopping will keep you occupied until you are refreshed and ready to head back out to explore and get the adrenalin pumping.

Switzerland, Bhutan, Iceland, travel, adventure, bucket list, destination, holiday

Images via geminitourtravels.com, airpano.com and krebshotel.ch

 

May 7, 2015

10 Hottest Beach Travel Escapes

It’s beginning to feel like Autumn: the leaves are turning rusty gold colours, the mornings have a crisp bite and that coffee before work has become more of a warm necessity than a choice.

RELATED: Travel Light: 5 Tips For Efficient Packing

As the months get cooler, we take a look at the 10 hottest travel destinations for sun seekers to escape the winter chill. From the dramatic mountainous bays of Budva in Montenegro to kite surfing on the glass-like Aegean Sea in Paros, there’s something for everyone’s travel taste. Be warned: this gallery will make you want to book flights, stat!

  1. The Algarve, Portugal

Boasting breathtaking cliffs and achingly beautiful stretches of sand, The Algarve in Portugal is an unbeatable summer escape. This southernmost region of mainland Portugal is a holidaymaker’s paradise. Relax on a gold sand beach, sip on cocktails at one of the many beach bars or try your hand at watersports.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Budva, Montenegro

Ever since Australian travel blogger Jessica Stein (aka Tuula Vintage) uploaded snaps in Budva, Montenegro we’ve added this stop to our bucket list! Located below Croatia in Southeast Europe, Montenegro boasts jaw-dropping dramatic mountain peaks and stunning crystal clear water.

It’s much more than just a resort town though. Head inland to the rugged mountains and forests for a hike or hire a kayak and explore Montenegro from the water.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Komiza, Croatia

Croatia is often featured on travel hit lists for its jewels Dubrovnik and Hvar. This summer, explore one of the lesser-known towns in Croatia, Komiza. This quaint fishing village sits on the western coast of the island of Vis.

Organised tours such as The Yacht Week do make stops to this Adriatic paradise, but you’ll easily find secluded beaches and quiet lookouts unrivaled by other Croatian towns.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Paros, Greece

Imagine winding cobblestone alleys, exquisite seafood restaurants and azure beaches, and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of Paros. This Greek island sits in the central Aegean Sea, a hydrofoil ride from Athens.

Paros is the ultimate destination for sun seekers who want the restaurants of Mykonos without the crowds. The old town centre contains white washed boutiques and bougainvillea covered balconies. Grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants, then quad bike across the island to try your hand at kite surfing or paddleboarding.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Santa Barbara, USA

Dubbed as the ‘American Riviera’ by local Californians, Santa Barbara is the perfect coastal escape for families or loved-up couples. If it’s your first time exploring the West Coast of the United States, take the time to hire a Mustang and drive from San Francisco down the coast, stopping for slow sunsets with the top down!

When you reach Santa Barbara, drop the car off and explore the 20 square miles of boutiques and restaurants by foot. Stop for a wine and take in the surrounding mountains and beach – perfection!

Beach, Summer, Travel

  1. Palma De Mallorca, Spain

This slice of heaven is situated just off the coast of Spain, a short plane ride from Barcelona or Ibiza. Unlike its other famous Spanish counterparts, Mallorca operates on a slower pace.

Famous for its world-class resorts and white sand, turquoise beaches, Mallorca is truly the stuff of dreams. Be sure to book ahead and also hire a car – the island might be small but its transport system is basic and the best beaches are off the bus line.

Summer, Beach, Travel

  1. Upper Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Perfect for Australians fleeing the cooler months, Fiji is only a four-hour flight from Sydney. Don’t get caught in the usual tourist trap – book a boat transfer from Port Denarau to the Yasawa Islands. The upper islands take up to five hours to reach, but believe us, it’s worth it.

Choosing an island will be the hardest decision you’ll make on the trip. Accommodation ranges from locally run huts on the beach to five star resorts with jacuzzis and private beach access. Don’t miss a snorkeling trip to the Blue Lagoon and day trip to the floating bar with a cult Instagram following, Cloud 9.

Travel, Beach, Summer

  1. Positano, Italy

A list of iconic beach destinations wouldn’t be complete without the Italian coastal town of Positano. Nestled between Amalfi and Sorrento, you might recognize Positano’s famous beachfront of pastel-hued houses built at impossible angles into the mountainside. If you can’t get enough of the European boutiques and turquoise water, catch a boat to Capri and visit the legendary Blue Grotto.

Travel, summer, beach

  1. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest might seem like an odd addition to a sun seeker hit list, but this European gem boasts some of the best outdoor pools and thermal spas in the world. In summer, temperatures soar to 30 degrees Celsius and there’s no better way to enjoy the heat than to don a bikini and head straight to the thermal baths.

Unlike our concept of ‘spas’ or ‘baths,’ Budapest’s thermal baths consist of indoor and ourdoor heated pools infused with thermal waters that boast healing qualities. Our top pick is the Szechenyi Baths and Pool. Stay after dark for their world famous night Sparty, a giant club held in the baths!

Summer, Beach, Travel

  1. Port Douglas

Just because it’s winter in Australia doesn’t mean you need to jet set out of the country for a tropical escape. The best time to visit Northern Queensland to swim is between April and October, when the infamous Box Jellyfish doesn’t rule the water.

Soak up Australia’s most famous destinations with a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or Daintree Rainforest and repeat after me: there’s no place like home.

Summer, Beach, Travel

Images via Wikipedia, Tuula Vintage, Greece Tourism, Santa Barbara Home and Lifestyle, Let’s Go Spain, Get Your Guide, Typischich, Szechenyifurdo Info, Diving Port Douglas

March 26, 2015

Plan Your Next Getaway To Queenstown, New Zealand

Looking for a short trip – either a girls weekend or a romantic getaway – look no more; Queenstown New Zealand is picture-perfect for both. The town offers bespoke and authentic luxury experiences, charmed by the ruggedness beauty of the surrounding mountains.

RELATED: Why New Zealand Should Be On Your Bucket List

Queenstown is nestled on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and famous for its wineries, restaurants, golf courses, paramount scenery (For the movie buffs, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies were filmed in various locations across Queenstown and yes there is movie tours). For thrill seekers, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital, including helicopter rides, bungy jumping, jet boating, horse riding, canyoning, sky diving and river rafting all year round plus skiing in the winter!

For an unforgettable experience would highly recommend a helicopter over Cecil Peak stopping at The Ledge for a glass of French.

Accommodation

For a romantic getaway stay at the Hilton Queenstown like no other Hilton, Kawarau Village is Queenstown’s lakefront lodging and dining precinct situated directly on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Showing off unobstructed views of The Remarkables, the hotel is located just outside of the main town area where you can be delivered by water taxi, cruise or jet boat. Make sure you book the suites that have their own private hot tub outside overlooking the lake (Don’t forget your man!).

And for the ultimate indulgence, I beg you to visit their spa eforea and try the Rest and Restore Body Wrap (bliss).

Hotel St Moritz perfect for a girl’s weekend away located in the heart of town, known for its architecture and style capturing the essence of the alpine landscape featuring live fire places, great bar, nooks and crannies for that girly gossip session.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Dine

As I am a burger gal, you must try Fergburger. A hamburger restaurant specialising in gourmet burgers it’s so famous also known internationally in spite of not being a chain and only having the one location, my favourite the Southern Swine (make sure you try).

Wanting a fine dining experience, Jervois Steak House is definitely worth the splurge (and certainly not a restaurant for vegetarians) run by New Zealand’s Masterchef Simon Gault. Who has created some of New Zealand’s most innovative food offerings, try the JHS steak tartare with truffle and parmesan (I’m a sucker for truffle), Wagyu sirloin (marble score 4-5, they even have the Blackmore Wagyu marble score 9+ regarded as the best Wagyu outside of Japan pretty impressive, don’t you think?!) and if your still hungry would suggest the chocolate fondant or crowd of New Zealand cheeses for dessert.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Without a doubt, you will return home tranquil and fulfilled, knowing that you have just had a one-of-a-kind experience in Queenstown.

By Lisha Singh

Image via demo.gumgum.com, stmoritz.co.nz and jervoisqueenstown.co.nz

February 6, 2015

5 Reasons You Must Visit Poland

Enduring a rough historical period over the last century, Poland has reshaped itself and has become one of the main destinations for anyone travelling through Europe.

Between the white-winters which are amazing during the Christmas period, through to the scorching hot European summer, we’ll show you why there’s no place quite like Poland.

RELATED: Christmas Gift Ideas For Travellers

Food

CK Browar, Address: 7 Podwale Street, Krakow

There is no denying that that Polish are famous for their delicious pierogi and cold-meat dishes which form the basis of their traditional meals. For genuine Polish food, you can’t go past a tasty Borscht soup which is hearty and healthy and the same time!

Visit C.K Browar for a traditional Polish pub-meal, with their world famous beer to wash down your food.

5 Reasons You Must Visit Poland

Architecture

Krzywy Domek, ul. Haffnera 6, 81-717 Sopot

Influenced by the heavy Gothic influence at the time, Polish Architecture is among one of the oldest styles in the world. Houses are still very much influenced by the Gothic themes of the 13-14th century, and are easily characterised by their high upper reaches and timber-framing on doors and walls alike.

For a little modern architecture instead, visit the world-famous crooked house in Sopot. It’s bound to give you an interesting Insta-snap!

ul. Haffnera 6, 81-717 Sopot

Countryside

Czersk Castle, 05-530 Gora Kalwaria, ul. Ks. Sajny

Escape to the Polish countryside if you want a real slice of paradise! Life in the country has remained the same as it was hundreds of years ago, and many families are looking towards this for their ideal rural vacation.

There’s plenty to do here without succumbing to your phone or computer – horseback riding, mountain-climbing and canoeing are all great options if you love the great outdoors.

5 Reasons You Must Visit Poland

Beaches

Sopot, Gdansk

If you find yourself travelling to Poland during the summer seasons of June through to early September, then you definitely don’t want to miss the white sand beaches of Sopot. Bathe in the Baltic sea, or simply catch some rays and enjoy the warm weather at a nearby café.

This county is easily accessible by private car or taxi, and railway line if you prefer to save a bit of shrapnel.

beach

Drinks

Chimera, UL. Podwale 29, Warsaw

Known as the birthplace of vodka, the Polish definitely know how to whip-up a drink (or two!). Grab a delicious cocktail at Chimera in Warsaw, (ask for the vodka-orange), and dance the night away to jazz tunes played by the local DJ’s.

5 Reasons You Must Visit Poland

Images via Amazing World, Virtual Tourist, Sky Scraper City, European Food Bay Area

November 24, 2014

5 Reasons You Should Visit Moscow

Moscow is a city with unprecedented history, rich culture, and best of all – there’s so much to do while you’re in town. Although this might not be a popular tourist choice given that a tour guide is mostly recommended on most blogs, don’t let the warnings discourage you from this magnificent city.

Whether you’re travelling through Moscow in the summer or chilly winter months, below are just a few places you cannot miss if you’re ever in town.

RELATED: Would You Do Squats For Free Public Transport?

Museums

Moscow is known for it’s various museums which are spread throughout the entire city. Even if you aren’t so interested in spending your days with a tour guide – you really don’t need to! Most museums are completely open to the public, which means that you’re free to roam wherever you like.

Have a taste of the more traditional culture by visiting the Pushkin Museum which has been dubbed one of the best tourist locations in Moscow. It features some of Pushkin’s most treasured works – which you can’t find anywhere else!

Pushkin State Musuem of Fine Arts

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts – ulitsa Volkhonka, 12, Moscow 119019

Parks

Most Russian literature romanticises the majestic parks and natural beauties of the city – and rightfully so! Gorky Park is one of the most popular attractions since it opened in 1928. Located in the heart of the city, both locals and tourists can enjoy an impromptu picnic, enjoy a meal by the water, and just relax in one of the park’s many gazebo’s.

With more than 40,000 visitors over the weekends, there is no denying that this is a central meeting place for both locals and travellers looking to relax and unwind.

Pushkin State Musuem of Fine Arts

Gorky Park – ulitsa Krymskiy Val, 9, Moscow 119049

Train Stations

It feels a bit weird suggesting a train station as a major sightseeing location – but this is definitely essential for anyone who loves architecture. Russia is known for it’s intricately detailed subway designs, most of which were erected in the late 1800s, and feature remarkable architectural trends which reflect the time. Just like walking through an art gallery, isn’t it?

5 Reasons You Should Visit Moscow

Komsomolskaya Station – Komsomolskaya Square, Moscow

Fashion

There is no denying that Russian style is quickly emerging as the one-to-watch on fashion blogs all over the world. Modern-day fashionistas such as Elena Perminova, Mirsoslava Duma, and Dasha Zhukova have created an unprecedented buzz and the world just wants more! But what are the best places to buy your own piece of Russian style?

Large-scale department stores such as TsUM and Tsvetnoy Central Market both offer a solid amount of established as well as up-and-coming Russian designers to the general public. If you want something that can’t be replaced, then definitely check out Vernissage at Izmailovo – which is the largest souvenir market in the country.

Pushkin State Musuem of Fine Arts

TsUM – ulitsa Petrovka, 2, Moscow

Food

If there’s one thing that any foodie will enjoy in Moscow, it’s definitely the sprawling cafes and restaurants which feature so prominently throughout the entire city. Only in Moscow will you find a fusion like no-other, featuring traditional Russian foods which a subtle touch of European flair.

Make sure to check out many of the food trucks which offer a quick street-meal at a very affordable price.

Pushkin State Musuem of Fine Arts

White Rabbit – Smolenskaya ploshchad’, 3, Moscow

Images via Timeout, Trip Advisor, Deviant Art, Interacticity, Skyscraper City

October 19, 2014

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

If you’re ever passing through Europe, one of the main attractions has definitely got to be Spain. Officially known as the Kingdom of Spain, this southwest European country shares borders with France, Portugal, and Gibraltar on the southern end of the peninsula.

But what exactly is there to do and see in Spain if you’re only in town for a limited time? Below are just ten activities you should definitely be a part of before you jet out of this majestic country.

RELATED: Check out the Bucket List Travel Destinations here 

Visit: The Alhambra Palace, Granada

This iconic tourist attraction is often bombarded with swarms of visitors, and rightfully so! It is one of the most beautiful architectural wonders in the entire world, especially if you’re into traditional Moorish architecture.

Take a day trip to Granada and don’t forget to visit the Generalife Gardens, which is also a well-known UNESCO Heritage site.

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

Taste: Street Food, Barcelona

While the sale of street food in Barcelona is strictly prohibited, there are still hundreds of outdoor vendors selling signature Spanish foods for both tourists and locals. If you love something a little sweet, then definitely try a churro – choux pastry that is fried until golden brown, then sprinkled in sugar. Finish off your meal with a refreshing drink called a Horchata which is mad of tigernuts, sugar and water – it has a sweet flavour almost like milk and is served cold.

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

Go: La Tomatina, Buñol

The festival is held annually on the last Wednesday of August, and is basically a large-scale tomato food-fight. However there are a few rules, the tomatoes must be squashed before thrown, and participants must keep their shirts on.

La Tomatina has been an annual festival which was started by a bunch of students in 1945, and has been happening every year since.

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

Swim: Menorca, Balearic Islands

Just a short distance away from mainland Spain is the magical sea-side town of Menorca. Known for it’s traditional summer fiestas, sports and crystal-clear beaches which are much-loved by tourists from all around the world.

Be sure to taste some of the local gin which is made in honour of the patron saints of the island.

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

Go: La Boqueria, Barecelona

You’ve probably seen dozens of pictures of the fresh fruit and vegetable produce at The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, which is a huge public market in Ciutat Vella. Try one of the tasty fruit juices or even the refreshing popsicles to beat the heat.

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

See: Bullfighting, Seville

If you want to catch a traditional Spanish bullfight while you’re in the country, then head over to Seville. It’s referred to as one of the main cities of bullfighting and the best season for this is usual between April-October. Stadiums are usually completely packed-out, so make sure to book your tickets well in advance.

6 Things To Do And See In Spain

Images via BCN Lifestyle, Tuula Vintage, The Constant Rambler, New York Times, Itinerarist, Churros Garcia

October 4, 2014

7 Reasons To Visit Scotland

Scotland is a richly historical and unique destination, often overlooked by culture-seeking tourists who flock to Rome and Paris. Whether you’re after adventure, or city-living, Scotland has both. It’s capital, Edinburgh is an artistic hub and historical site, and is among the most uniquely beautiful cities in the world. But if it is the outdoors you crave, your wanderlust will be satisfied by a trip to the mystical Scottish highlands. If you’re unconvinced, consider my top reasons for visiting Scotland.

RELATED: Fly into a world of magic at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Castles
Who doesn’t love an opportunity to be transported into the lives of royalty? Scotland is full of such opportunities, with castles littering the country side and cityscapes. The nation’s most famous castle sits atop the city of Edinburgh and is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland. Perhaps the second most popular – and perhaps the most picturesque – is Eilean Donan,which is poised in the middle of a loch (lake), only connected to the mainland by footbridge. It was recently restored and frequently appears in films and television shows. Fun fact: much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed in Scotland, with castles Stalker and Doune featured in the film.

shutterstock_163030091                                                                                         Eilean Donan castle

History
You’ve all seen Braveheart, right? (Mind you, any Scot will tell you this tale of William Wallace is far from accurate) This film is just a glimpse at the complicated relationship between Scotland and England, and the nation’s great history of invasion, battle and conquest. Long before England took over, the Scots fought off the mighty Roman and Viking armies, the invaders unable to conquer the rugged and uninhabitable highland territory. However, if you’re short on time, you don’t even need to leave the nation’s capital for a dose of the past – Edinburgh’s old and new towns are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

shutterstock_112513559A beautiful view of Edinburgh

Mystery
Ever wondered if there really is a Loch Ness monster? Well, there is only one way to find out…

shutterstock_136877495Castle ruins overlooking Loch Ness

Highlands
The Scottish highlands – referring to the nation’s mountainous north-western region – are a dark, sometimes miserable, but strangely alluring place. Much of the nation’s traditional customs come from the distinctive highland culture, native to the clans that remain strong in the region. Which brings me to…

shutterstock_187732982“Old Man of Storr” in the Scottish Highlands

Culture
Scotland isn’t really a place one would consider rich in culture. Yet, Scots are highly protective and proud of their local treasures and traditions. Think: Scotch (better known to us as Whisky), bagpipes, kilts, haggis, Gaelic – all of these contribute to Scotland’s great sense of nationalism.

shutterstock_196966715A parade of Scottish clan culture

Harry Potter
Speaking of culture, J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter from a little cafe in Edinburgh. Do a free walking tour in one of the most beautiful, medieval cities in the world and see where Rowling wrote the book, the cemetery and school from which she drew inspiration, and even some of the film’s shooting locations.

shutterstock_154644905All aboard the Hogwarts Express! The Glenfinnan viaduct.

Golf
Scotland is considered the home of golf as the modern game was developed in the country. The Royal and Ancient Club of St Andrews is the first golf club and is seen as a ruling body of the sport. Unlike others who perceive golf as elitist, St Andrews is actually a public golf course, run by the council and available to all.

shutterstock_95739565The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

September 21, 2014

Whale-Watching Sites Around Australia

It’s a truly amazing spectacle to see and hear the whales which migrate around the coast of Australia in cooler months. It’s a great free activity for all nature lovers. Some areas are better than others, so we’ve put together a list of the best places in each state or territory to take a peek.

Northern Territory

Spotting whales in our beautiful top end can be tricky. It’s often more miss than hit. In May 2014, False Killer Whales were viewed in shallow water around Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, north-east of Darwin. This was unusual, as these creatures are usually found in much deeper waters. If you are looking for whales in NT waters, check recent reports.

Queensland

There are a number of places to do some whale watching in QLD. The following list includes locations and the peak season:

  • Gold Coast – May to November
  • Hervey Bay – July to November
  • Brisbane – June to October
  • Sunshine Coast – June to October
  • Cairns – July to September
  • Whitsundays – May to September
  • Great Barrier Reef – March to October

New South Wales

NSW has multiple locations. The following list has been compiled as a guide, based on peak season times, May to November, with the exception of August:

  • Port Stephens
  • Jervis Bay
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Nelsons Bay

September to November:

  • Merimbula
  • Eden

June to November, excluding August:

  • Port Macquarie

June to November:

  • Byron Bay

June to October:

  • Tweed Heads

Victoria

By far the most popular whale watching area in Victoria is Warnambool. Peak season is from June to September when Southern Right Whales make the annual migration to give birth to their young, along the sheltered coast. Some people have been lucky enough to spot the whales else where around the state, but these sightings are fairly rare.

Tasmania

Tassy isn’t a prime whale watching location, however Bruny Island is known for annual sightings. They pass by during May to July and again during September and December. Once there, some whales congregate for up to five weeks. Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales are regular visitors, while Pygmy Right Whales, Minke Whales and Orca’s or Killer Whales can be seen as they migrating along the coast.

South Australia

SA has two prime locations, where whales are guaranteed to visit each year. From May to October, Southern Right Whales can be witnessed frolicking, mating, calving and nursing their young. The head of the bight, apparently has the best views, as whales are often viewed as close as 100 metres off the shore.

The second region is along the coastline from Victor Harbour to Goolwa Beach. Middleton, which is located in the middle, is a quaint surfing cove where commuters often view the whales whilst driving past. Once again Southern Right Whales dominate the area. July or August is the peak time, however you might snag you a peak during cooler months.

Western Australia

Albany and Broome are the hot spots around WA. Between June and November Humpback Whales are spotted as they migrate north-west to Broome, while Southern Right Whales migrating from Antarctica are know to visit Albany’s southern bays to mate and give birth.

Image via legendcharters.net.au

By Kim Chartres

August 9, 2014

4 Reasons To Visit New York City

If the inspiration of almost all of Woody Allen’s films wasn’t captivating enough, or the images of fast-paced city life have you head over heels, it seems that The Big Apple is on everyone’s bucket list. Whether you’re planning an upcoming trip or need a little bit of convincing, below are a few reasons why you should definitely book that one-way ticket.

Sports

Even if you aren’t a face-painting sports fanatic, there is no denying that New York City is home to some of the most iconic teams in the world. Yankees, Giants, Rangers and even the US Open have home games where you can spectate and capture some great pictures for the photo album. The Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex is sprawled out onto a 30-acre lot where visitors can participate in various sports activities as well.

4 Reasons To Visit New York City

Visit: Asphalt Green – 555 E 90th St, New York

Food

New York City is home to an enormous amount of cafés and restaurants which serve up a number of cuisines on a daily basis. From Little Italy to the iconic cronut, there is so much to try in New York City – just be patient and find the time to wait in line. There is definitely a reason why there are Food Tours taking tourists up and down some of the most iconic eateries in the city.

4 Reasons To Visit New York City

Visit: Magnolia Bakery – 401 Bleecker Street (Corner of West 11th St & Bleecker St), New York

Shopping

What better place to spend all of your saving money, right? The city is lined with endless department stores, pop-up’s and specialty boutiques which will no-doubt sell something that you’ve been lusting after. Make like Carrie Bradshaw and visit Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, SoHo and The East Village for some great purchases.

4 Reasons To Visit New York City

Visit: Barneys New York – 660 Madison Avenue, New York

Architecture

NYC is known for it’s sky-scrapers, bridges, art-deco buildings and also it’s iconic monuments such as the Statue of Liberty. The entire city combines new contemporary buildings such as 41 Cooper Sqaure (established in 2009), compared with the pre-war beautiful tree-lined streets of the Upper East Side.

4 Reasons To Visit New York City

Visit: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – 1071 5th Avenue, New York

Images via Aaron Symons, CBS Tampa, Eat This NY, Shop Gotham

July 31, 2014

Take Me Away: The Ultimate Girl’s Escape

If it’s possible to feel homesick for a resort – and heartsick to have to leave – then that is what I truly feel for Noosa’s amazing 5-star Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa. I recently packed my bags for a one-night solo mini-break at the opulent resort; Noosa is on the Sunshine Coast, just over an hour’s drive north of the Queensland capital of Brisbane. Of course, being a local, it was only just up the road for me, but what a lovely and rejuvenating experience it was.

It’s rare to have an emotional connection to a resort – but I savoured every minute of blissful solitude at my spacious, stylish and cosy one-bedroom apartment nestled beside the Noosa National Park (pictured), also conveniently located right beside the idyllic Stephanies Ocean Spa, but more on the latter later. I just felt so ridiculously grateful to have chanced upon the award-winning resort. I mean, I’d heard of it – but I never expected it to be this good. Cue happy dance on arrival! Add this one to your bucket list, ladies!

Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa opened in 2010 and is the region’s first internationally-managed 5-star resort in 20 years, renowned for its environmentally sustainable resort design. My apartment was the perfect setting for a girlie escape and much-needed R&R – I immediately felt at home and had to force myself to get out and enjoy the sunshine exploring Noosa’s famous nearby shopping/retail hub, Hastings St. I opted to walk the scenic 500m journey, but a cute dude in one of the resort’s fab, new, solar-powered electric buggies offered to drop me off, who was I to resist?

The eco-designed resort offers self-contained one, two and three-bedroom apartments, plus villas and penthouses; all of which looked pretty damn fine as we whizzed past, but it’s the hotel’s rainforest setting that sets it apart. Upon my return (successful shopping mission accomplished, tick!), I sat on my private balcony, in the sun, soaking up the Zen, complete with rainforest orchestra. A whipbird (I think, I’m no bird expert) made its soothing, harmonic whip-crack call many times that day – indeed it woke me up the following morning. How cool is that?

But back to that magical day – I trotted off to Stephanies Ocean Spa in the late afternoon for a beauty treatment, as part of my R&R mission, and was immediately impressed with the large, tranquil, candle-lit waiting lounge (pictured).Take me away: the ultimate girl’s escape
I opted to enjoy a pedicure, but Stephanies offers the full gamut of your day spa menu, with a twist – there’s luxurious mineral floatation treatments, hot-stone massages and anti-aging vino therapies in 11 treatment rooms.

Post-treatment, all shiny and new, I floated back to my apartment for the night, opting to order in some culinary delights from the on-site View On Little Hastings Restaurant and Bar. I popped some bubbly, turned on Max Music and I was in heaven! Other resort facilities include a very purrty heated resort pool and lap pool.

Villas, penthouses and treetop villas also offer guests exclusive use of Brooke’s Pool (pictured below), with sweeping views of Laguna Bay and Double Island Point. All in all, I had a fabulous time and I can’t wait to get back there!

Take me away: the ultimate girl’s escape

Visit www.outriggeraustralia.com and www.stephanies.com.au.

July 29, 2014

9 Places You Should Add To Your Bucket List

Planning your next holiday is about to get a whole lot harder with the suggestions we’ve picked out. Start packing your bags, and get to the travel agent now to witness these magical destinations up close and personal. Some might fall under the radar, and others will be swarming with like-minded tourists, but don’t forget about these destinations when you’re planning your next getaway.

1. Palma, Mallorca (Majorca)

This idyllic destination has served as a summer-time getaway for Northern Europeans for years. Enjoy the sea, sun and relax amongst all the island has to offer, including fabulous weather from May to September.

2. Cartagena, Colombia

South America offers a diverse mix of cultures which is especially unique and special for first time visitors. Cartagena is branded as one of the best preserved old cities in South America, with architecture dating back to the 16th Century during the Spanish takeover. A rich source of architecture, food and culture is what you’ll expect to find in Cartagena, as well as the popular Palace of the Inquisition to get a taste of some historical Colombian culture.

3. Darwin, Australia

If you’re looking to stay a little closer to home, Darwin offers a relaxed and laid back holiday that won’t exactly burn a hole in your pocket. Take a dip in some of the local beaches such as Casuarina, or visit one of the many Indigenous museums and art galleries that the city has to offer. In just one day trip you’ll find yourself at the World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park which has to be one of the main attractions offering a rich assortment of flora and fauna exclusive to Darwin.

4. Rhodes, Greece

One of the most popular Greek Islands to visit in the Mediterranean, Rhodes is home to some of the most clearest and beautiful beaches in the entire world. Don’t forget to taste the healthy local cuisine, and enjoy a relaxing holiday in the sun.

5. Tokyo, Japan

Japan is one of the most modern countries thanks to it’s developments in technology and fast-paced lifestyle. Tokyo offers a unique blend of traditional pre-war customs, mixed together with modern architecture and technologies that are jaw-dropping. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial will bring you back down to earth, and features the Genbaku Dome which is the only building still standing after the bombing attack of World War II.

6. Cancun, Mexico

Known for its extensive nightlife and spring-break central, Cancun can be enjoyed by a variety of people at any age. Cancun offers year-round impeccable weather which allows a mostly outdoor lifestyle for locals and tourists to both enjoy. Expect to find white sand beaches with lots of snorkelling and boating to relax and renew during your break.

7. Montreal, Canada

Montreal offers a taste of European lifestyle despite being located in icy North America. The city is known for it’s diverse cuisine of restaurants, cafe’s, and bars which are cosmopolitan in nature and perfect for both couples and family friendly. A major sightseeing spot is the Montreal Biodome which is a recreation of various ecosystems in North America. Ideal for anyone who loves museums and learning some background information on Montreal.

8. Auckland, New Zealand

Undoubtedly the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland is filled with many outdoor activities and home to idyllic beaches seemingly untouched by humankind. Boating is a popular way to sightsee and become familiar with the various types of flora and fauna the city has to offer.

9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

One of the most popular destinations which can be visited anytime of the year is Amsterdam. The home of countless canals and art museums, this is a must-have destination for the traveller that wants to see it all. From the Anne Frank House to the world class restaurants and cafe’s found across the city, there is nothing quite like Amsterdam to make you feel alive again.

What’s next on your bucket list?

Image Source: ABC Mallorca

By Felicia Sapountzis

May 22, 2014

Bucket List Travel Destinations

We discover some of the purest, and most beautiful, untouched destinations in the world.

The hidden beach of the Marieta Islands, Puerto Vallarta

Hidden from view and protected from the outside world, this secluded slice of paradise is located just off the coast of Mexico. ‘Playa De Amor’, or as it’s more romantically know, the ‘Beach of Love’, is thought to have formed as a result of volcanic activity over thousands of years. To get to this hidden gem, tourists must first swim through a cavernous tunnel that opens up onto the sandy beach and crystal blue water. Now a national park forbidding fishing and hunting, the islands are protected and therefore home to some rare and remarkable marine life, so snorkelling is definitely one for the bucket list.

Jiuzhaigou Valley, China

travel, bucket list, travel tips, travel advice, travel destinations

This remote region of Northern Sichuan in China stretches over six hundred square kilometres and is regarded a holy mountain by the Tibetans. The majestic Jiuzhaigou Valley is home to nine Tibetan villages, seven of which are still populated, and is filled with breathtaking scenery. Think multi-level waterfalls, lush forest, snow capped mountains and colourful crystal clear lakes. Difficult to reach by land, the valley is one of the less frequented scenic spots in China, and one of the purest! It is also home to a variety of rare and beautiful plants and animals, including the endangered Giant Panda and Golden Monkey.

Iceland

travel, bucket list, travel tips, travel advice, travel destinations

When it comes to breathtaking scenery and pristine nature, it doesn’t get much fresher than Iceland. This ruggedly beautiful landscape is filled with adventure – glaciers, waterfalls, streams, lava fields and mountains – and a clash of ecological variants which make the land so intriguing. Channel your inner Viking and enjoy the rawness of nature by taking a dip in a geothermal pool such as the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’ volcanic hot springs, or camp out for a front row seat to view the Northern Lights, one of nature’s seriously spectacular phenomenons.

Sri Lanka

travel, bucket list, travel tips, travel advice, travel destinations

For a hit of culture, you can’t go past Sri Lanka. An increasingly popular travel destination thanks to its beautiful beaches, welcoming people, and affordability, Sri Lanka remains vastly undiscovered due to a history of civil unrest and natural disaster. Sitting like a tear drop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is brimming with culture and home to several World Heritage sites and some of the world’s most incredible ancient cities; from Anuradhapur’s ancient ruins, the stone carved buildings of Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla to the rock-top fortress of Lion Mountain. Witness afternoon elephant gatherings and enjoy the serenity offered by unscathed pristine white-sand beaches.

Madagascar

travel, bucket list, travel tips, travel advice, travel destinations

It’s the world’s fourth largest island and sits off the coast of southeast Africa. Rainforests, trekking, beaches and diving make this undiscovered gem a dream destination for lovers of the outdoors. Half the fun is getting to these attractions. Madagascar alone is home to five per cent of the worlds known plant and animal species, and one of the few places on earth with extensive land diversity; you can go from rainforest to desert in just 300km. Boasting 250 islands, hundreds of kilometres of barrier reef and a pristine coastline that wraps the whole island, much of Madagascar’s population and culture is yet to be touched by western society, offering the purest cultural experiences. Free from public transport, enjoy the views as you meander along the various lagoons and swamps of this inspired destination!

If you enjoyed these pure destinations, and want to find out more about all things pure, smooth and original, head to facebook.com/vodkao or on Instagram @VodkaO, Australia’s purest tasting Vodka. The secret is on Facebook.

May 8, 2014