Romy and Sam go Motorhoming: New Zealand’s North Island

Our Route: 

Wellington > Tongariro > Rotorua > Paihia > Auckland

To avoid totally boring you to tears vs. half boring you to tears, I split my New Zealand posts into the South and North Island. So, picking up where I left off on my previous post, we were about to board the ferry from Picton on the South Island to Wellington on the North Island. Just a side note: I bloody hate boats. With a passion. All consuming panic and nausea takes over. However, Sam’s aunty recommended some absolutely ACE travel sickness tablets, which meant that I not only survived but slightly enjoyed….(?) the ferry to Wellington. I could actually enjoy the spectacular views, take in the blueness of the water, the low lying clouds and lusciously green mountains…..AND watch the Fyre festival documentary on Netflix without feeling like I was going to pass out! Brilliant! It is notorious for being a rough journey, but honestly our experience wasn’t bad at all….. could be the tablets talking, but we’ll go with it. 

Once we arrived in ‘windy’ Wellington (as it’s known), we headed straight to the hotel we had booked for a couple of nights, ditching Marco the motorhome for a bed that actually allows you to sit upright, and a loo that you don’t have to empty yourself. Wellington had a great feel, really friendly people and loooads of independent vintage shops and boutiques, which I loved a browse in, even though I really couldn’t cram anything else into my case. It felt busy and buzzy yet not over-crowded and intimidating. We also found some unusual street art down completely unassuming lanes and hidden alleyways, which we loved. 

What to do: 

  • Explore the streets, without a doubt. There’s all sorts of hidden gems, unique places to explore and unusual cafes that you might not find on Google.
  • Te Papa- The Museum of New Zealand. A pretty big museum, but with some brilliant interactive contemporary exhibitions and a (surprisingly) windy lookout deck. 
  • Wellington Cable Car. We struggled to find the entrance to this at first and walked past it about 5 times while grumbling ‘Google maps is so shit!!’ before realising that in fact it was us that were shit… at navigating. A really sweet, traditional wooden cable car with a light tunnel halfway up. The Botanic Gardens were at the top and although very hilly, were extremely pretty but FREEZING when the wind blows… which is all the time. 

Where to eat: 

  • Viva Mexico. A tiny, hidden Mexican restaurant with the best jalapeño poppers with pickled red onion. AND the most delicious vegan tacos. That you would never know were vegan. However, they asked us if we wanted to taste their delicacy, fried crickets…. Which we politely declined. 
  • Fidel’s Café. If you fancy a hearty but healthy breakfast, here is a great shout. Tasty, fresh and pretty decent portions. 
  • They also have a Wagamama (and it’s on Uber Eats)…. We did get quite over excited about this as we were both feeling slightly yaki soba deprived.

We drove from here to Tongariro National Park, planning to do the famous Tongariro Crossing hike, however, the weather got in the way. Despite this, we did a different, brilliant, slightly shorter hike to Taranaki Falls, which had the most beautiful views all along the route. The terrain changed constantly, from open rocky paths with clear snowy mountain views, to narrow forest trails, streams, rushing waterfalls (where we kept saying ‘is this THE one?’) to the final Big Daddy waterfall, Taranaki. I’m actually so glad we did it and made the most of the National Park, despite our plans changing. It just means we’ll have to go back to complete the crossing hike another day!

Rotorua was next. One of our favourite places in the whole of New Zealand, probably a very close second to Queenstown. We stayed at such a great, central campsite (Rotorua TOP 10) with the best welcome. It was a small town, but packed a punch. Reknowned for its proximity to Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings set, for being the hub of Maori culture and for being located INSIDE a volcano. We loved it and met some amazing people during our stay too. 

What to do:

  • Happy Ewe Cycle Tour. This was recommended to us by some people we met in Australia and I couldn’t be more grateful that they did. It was amazing. Rodger, the guide was honestly one of the nicest (hate the word nice) people I have ever met. Full of energy, enthusiasm and positivity, he really brought the town he lives in to life and you could tell how proud he was to live there. He took us to some amazing locations, gave us such a great flavour for the town and was a complete ray of sunshine. Thoroughly recommend. 
  • Hobbiton. When we visited, I hadn’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings films. I know, I know….but despite this, I loved it. I have a huge fascination with film anyway and it was just absolutely magical. I don’t even think it massively mattered that I hadn’t seen the films. I did lie when the tour guide asked us if we’d watched them I hasten to add….but even so it was brilliant. 
  • Tamaki Maori Village. We did a night experience here and were thrown head first into the wonder of Maori culture. They sang, danced, took us through some traditional crafts and activities, made us a Hangi feast and welcomed us into their village. It was wonderful. 

Where to eat: 

  • Atticus Finch. One of my favourite finds of the whole trip. As I write this, my mouth is watering thinking of the burrata arancini. 
  • Artisan Café. We ate here for every breakfast and loved it. Really lovely veggie options and tasty coffee. 

After Rotorua, we drove past Auckland and right up to Paihia (Bay of Islands). I had a streaming cold by then and luckily we had decided to book an apartment for a couple of nights, so there were a few more comforts (sorry Marco) AND A WASHING MACHINE. We relaxed on the beach and soaked up a little bit of sun (through a sweatshirt) and had a chilled couple of days pottering around the town and reading. There wasn’t masses to do there, but we just enjoyed the scenery and rest.

Auckland was next and where we dropped off Marco and concluded our motorhome journey. We loved Auckland. It was the first place we had been in New Zealand that felt like a proper city. Outdoorsy, picturesque places are probably our favourite, but there are aspects in me that love the city life too and saying that, Auckland actually was very pretty in parts. It was super clean, a great contemporary feel and sooo many cool areas to explore.

What to do:

  • Visit Ponsonby. Our favourite area. Funky cafes, boho boutiques and stylish shops. Oh, and one of the best burgers of our trip was consumed in this area. 
  • Lime Scooters. After our first experience of scooters in Christchurch, we were thrilled to find they had them in Auckland too. They were pretty much our only mode of transport for the 4 days we had here. Fun, cheap and fast!
  • Auckland Tower. So high. Not sure what else I expected, but it had such a brilliant panoramic view of Auckland. And the queue was nowhere near as long as the CN Tower in Toronto, so that was a bonus. 

Where to eat: 

  • Chuffed. Great brunch place, great coffee and located in a tucked away spot, with an outdoor courtyard decorated with twinkly lights and faux fur throws.
  • Ponsonby Central. The foodie area in Ponsonby, with so many different street food spots, cafes and bars and an outdoor/indoor feel.
  • Burger Burger. I couldn’t keep you waiting any longer before I had to reveal where THAT burger was consumed. Wow oh wow. Mouthwateringly delicious.
  • Depot. Yummy, sharing, tapas dishes. Still dreaming about the tempura cauliflower with taramasalata & anchovies.
  • Dizengoff. We didn’t actually eat here, just had coffee. We regretted it as soon as the steaming breakfast plates wizzed past us out of the kitchen. It looked amazing.

We absolutely adored New Zealand. We knew we would. We just didn’t realise quite how much. Without a doubt we’ll go back, experience all the things we missed and feast our eyes on the unforgettable scenery once again.

Romy and Sam go Motorhoming : New Zealand’s South Island

If you read my last post, you will know that our motorhoming newbie status was broken in Australia, road tripping from Sydney to Cairns. We then waved goodbye to the kangaroos, baking sun and sandy beaches and flew over to Kiwi land for the next part of our trip.

I feel like I might have given this post a slightly misleading title. If I’m totally honest, we didn’t stay in Marco the new motorhome every single night on our route and booked the odd night in a hotel along the way…. For complete novices, 6 weeks in total in a camper is quite a long time. We fancied the opportunity to have a shower without flip flops every now and then! Just to clear my conscience… I needed to point that out.

We picked up Marco after a glorious 5 nights in Queenstown in potentially the dreamiest, comfiest bed I have ever slept in and a room with the most spectacular view (The Heritage Queenstown). From there, we had nearly 10 days to make our way to the top of the South Island and get the ferry across from Picton to Wellington on the North Island. Our plans did change a little due to the weather causing a bridge to collapse near Franz Josef, so we will have to return (what a shame) and explore that area at another time!  

So many people said to us that the South Island just pips the North beauty wise and I think I may agree….just. When we came in to land in Queenstown from Cairns I was just blown away. I spent the entire dissent with my nose virtually pressed up against the window, tapping Sam every 5 seconds saying ‘look! Look!’. It was beautiful from the word go. 

 

Our South Island route: 

Queenstown > Wanaka > Christchurch > Kaikoura > Abel Tasman > Picton  

 

So, beginning in Queenstown, potentially our favourite place in the whole of New Zealand. A wonderful combination of jaw-dropping views and scenery, crazy activities and great independent boutiques and restaurants PLUS a buzzier atmosphere than a beehive. Coined the ‘adventure capital of the world’, we were so excited to be there. Again, as always, I won’t outline every single thing we did, but just enough to give you a flavour and recommend some of our must-dos. 

 

What to do: 

 Sam did the Nevis Bungy jump which he LOVED. 134 metres. The highest in New Zealand and pretty well known around the world. Definitely not my thing, but he was on cloud nine when he came back and wanted to do it all over again, so I thought it was worth a mention. 
 Jet boating on the sparkling Kawarau River. We booked ours with Go Orange and did the 60 minute Thunder Jet tour. Absolutely amazing. Brilliant views, 360 turns (again, not usually my thing but I loved it), blasting music and also really lovely guides. 
 ‘Safari of the Scenes’ Wakatipu tour. We were taken in a 4×4 off road, through water and epic landscapes, to areas where Lord of the Rings was filmed. We also went gold panning and we found the tiniest speck of gold which Sam insisted on keeping in a little pot for the whole rest of our trip. 
 Milford Sound. Although it is not particularly near to Queenstown, a lot of tours run to Milford Sound from there. We didn’t realise quite how far away it was and I think if we went again, we would potentially stay nearer there when we’re visiting. Saying that, the tour we did was brilliant and although the weather was torrential rain and wind, we had the best time. When it rains, we were told there are 90% more waterfalls than when it’s dry, so although you don’t have the glistening blue water and green mountain views that you see on postcards, the dramatic crashing waterfalls are an equally amazing treat. 
 Walk/cycle around Queenstown Gardens. They are SO beautiful, gorgeously rugged and foresty feeling, with perfectly groomed spots, flowerbeds and a little bridge over a stream. Delightful. Also they have a great view of Queenstown from the other side. 
 The Luge. First of all, hilarious. Second of all, so much fun. You can get the skyline gondola to the top of the mountain and then take a kind of toboggan down several different tracks, as fast as you can, with the incredible mountainous panorama. We had such a laugh and kept wanting to go back up for more. 

 

Where to eat: 

The food was yuuuuummy in Queenstown. Seriously. And yes, we did spend our whole time scouting out our next meal. 

 Blue Kanu- maybe our favourite meal of the WHOLE TRIP. What!!!! ‘Mixing both Pacifica and Asian style’ tapas dishes. Every single plate we said ‘this one’s my favourite!!!’ Then the next dish arrived. 
 Taco Medic- a tiny little street food place with the most delicious, fresh tacos with really unique fillings. Not a huge menu, but we went there twice because it was just so good. 
 Fat Badgers- mmmmmm. Such good pizza. They’re big too so you can share one between two. They also do poutine, so that’s a yes from me. 
 Cowboys- such a fun bar, with mechanical bull riding. And cowboy hats. I’ll leave that there. 
 Yonder- my favourite breakfast place. Amazing corn fritters with sriracha and poached eggs. Also equally amazing coffee. Oh, and equally lovely décor. 
 Caribe Latin Kitchen- super tasty food. They also make their own homemade hot sauce, which is soooo good.  

 

Look out for: 

 The best deals on tours. Look around before you book something, because as there are so many adventure places in Queenstown, they all want your custom, so sometimes places will offer an especially good price if they know you’re looking elsewhere too. 
 The beaaaautiful Remarkables mountains, where you can ski in winter. They have been in several films and give the turquoise blue water the most incredible backdrop. 

Next was Wanaka, smaller than Queenstown, but with a lovely feel. It was our first campsite night in New Zealand and we were really pleased with our choice. Such friendly people and it was slightly out of the way, meaning it was quiet, but not so far away that we felt completely out of it. We stayed at Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park. Again, stunning views, a gorgeous bike track running all the way around the water and a FAB burrito food truck called Burrito Craft. An ideal place to refuel (overeat) after a ‘tough’ bike ride. 

Originally, we wanted to head to Franz Josef after Wanaka to do the glacier hike, but as I mentioned before, the weather didn’t want us to do that…. So we went straight to Christchurch. We visited here less than two weeks after the horrifically tragic attack in the city and so were overwhelmed with the memorial flowers, posters, banners and decorations lining the Botanic Gardens. Although the streets were quiet, the people we met were a complete joy and inspiration and welcomed us into their city whole-heartedly. We had our first electric scooter experience here too, which we carried on wherever we could for the rest of our trip. We did laps and laps and laps of the streets, soaking up the atmosphere and stopping only for coffee and an occasional ‘warm up’ hug. 

Our morning breakfast place was also one to note, called Unknown Chapter Coffee Roasters. Great veggie breakfast and they don’t do their poached eggs too watery!!!! A huge plus for me. There’s an amazing ice cream spot too… Rollickin Gelato Café, located inside the Arts Centre. That was also lovely, and had a dreamy stationary shop….which I drooled over for a while. Overall, we thought Christchurch had a really friendly, small city feel that is clearly growing in more ways than one.

Kaikoura was next, mainly known for whale watching. Again, the weather wasn’t great, but our campsite had a beautiful setting, with views of snow capped mountains in the distance (TOP 10 Holiday Park). We were actually really happy to have a relaxed couple of rainy days. It was sunny on the day we arrived (typical) but on our full day, we decided to go for a chilly walk along the black pebble beach, skimming stones, warming up with copious cups of coffee and a cosy lunch nearby at Hislops Whole Foods café.

We then made our way to Abel Tasman National Park. Wow. Wow. Wow. I typed it once and then couldn’t think of any other way of describing it other than: Wow. We did an amazing self-guided kayak tour, that was totally exhausting but something I will never forget. Exploring hidden caves, spotting seals, paddling in blazing sunshine, then a downpour, then windy waves, then sunshine again. I would thoroughly recommend it. The water is like nothing I’ve ever seen, almost lime green near the rocks in parts, and turquoise, deep blue and almost clear in other parts. As I can never fail to mention food, I would also recommend the Fat Tui permanent food truck for a mouth-watering crispy cod burger and the best sweet potato fries.

After a brilliant couple of days, we drove to Picton, where we were to board the ferry to the North Island after a magical time in the South of New Zealand. One thing I have to note about New Zealand, is that even if I don’t mention the scenery anywhere, it isn’t because it isn’t beautiful. The truth is, everywhere you look is stunning. Rambling hills, snow-capped mountains, rushing waterfalls and gorges, sparkling rivers, dramatic vistas… so if I have made a point to mention how beautiful something is, it’s because it is truly special. 

If you have made it to the end of this mammoth post, I really appreciate you reading my rambling travel tales of the South Island. Thank you. If you want to know my more general motorhome tips, you will find them on my Australian motorhoming post!

 

Romy and Sam go Motorhoming : Sydney to Cairns

After our wonderful week in Sydney, we picked up Mabel the Maui Motorhome (have you noticed we like to name our cars…. I say we, I mean me) and set off on our East Coast adventure for 22 days. We were beyond excited when we went to pick it up and couldn’t believe how big it was! We felt like we were in ‘We’re the Millers’ – minus the drug smuggling. It wasn’t quite RV size but for people who had never driven a motorhome before, Mabel was a big girl! We made ourselves at home pretty quickly and set off on a crazy 3 weeks of beaches, comfort zone crushing, new friends, sunsets, tattoos, fly bites, spectacular views and campsite cooking. 

OUR ROUTE: 

Sydney > Anna Bay > Coffs Harbour > Byron Bay > Miami/ Surfers Paradise > Brisbane > Noosa > Hervey Bay/ Fraser Island > Rockhampton > Airlie Beach/ The Whitsundays > Townsville/ Magnetic Island > Mission Beach > Cairns 

I won’t go into detail about every single thing we did and how we spent every moment *hears everyone heave a sigh of relief*, but I will share our highlights, top tips and favourite campsites. 

(SOME OF OUR) HIGHLIGHTS: 

* Our first night. Climbing up onto the sand dunes behind our campsite in Anna Bay and experiencing one of the best sunsets we have ever seen. The rapidly changing colours, the rainbow on one side, the immaculate sand. Massive wow factor. 
* The town of Byron Bay. We loved the little coffee shops, bars and boutiques, along with the gorgeous beach. It all had a great feel. Also Sam surfed here again and loved it just as much as before.
* Miami… an unexpected gem. We decided to stay here instead of directly in Surfers Paradise, but it was a short taxi ride away and Miami was lovely and peaceful. There was the most epic pink sky both nights we stayed there too. We also loved the buzzy atmosphere in Surfers Paradise and although the beach was busy, we felt totally relaxed.
* Getting tattoos in Brisbane. Just so much fun…..Despite the tattoo shop being called ‘The Stab Shack’ and there being a python in the corner, we loved the whole experience. There was another girl having a huuuge chest piece done at the same time as us,  not even flinching and I was asking a million questions about the aftercare and pain etc. (typical me) for our tiny tattoos that literally took minutes to do – I am so hard core.
* Koalas, kangaroos, dolphins…… the wildlife everywhere is just something else.
* The Noosa Everglades. Woweeee. So beautiful. We rented our own boat and went first thing in the morning. The water was a sparkling mirror, so peaceful and it was actually quite romantic (sorry vom). The previous day, we hired kayaks and attempted to do a 6 hr open sea trip and nearly got stuck (hilarious looking back, but paddling against the wind and going nowhere for a good 2 hours was a smidge frustrating). 
* Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island. Totally clear, going into turquoise and then a deep navy colour. Also 100% rainwater. Paired with the whitest sand… it was ideal. 

* Our last-minute motorhome break in Airlie Beach. We were worried about a thunder storm (that we ended up missing) and so booked an apartment for a few days so we could explore the Whitsundays without worrying about Mabel. It was actually a lovely break as it had…..A WASHING MACHINE!!! I know, I could barely contain my excitement either. Other than our lovely apartment, we had the best time in Airlie Beach. We did an amazing jet ski tour, seeing dolphins and stopping for a delicious brunch spread at Paradise Cove. During this trip we had the pleasure of witnessing another person on the tour having an impromptu nude photo shoot…. no I’m not joking. The next day, we did a snorkelling Whitsunday islands tour ending at Whitehaven Beach. Truly special and Sam was a complete hero as it was totally out of my comfort zone. Overall so much fun, so much beauty and so many new experiences. 

* The Barbie-mobile on Magnetic Island. We rented a tiny mini jeep (I thought it looked like a bigger version of a doll’s car I used to play with) and drove around the whole island. We pulled over for a torrential rain storm, eating cookies and sitting under a tarpaulin on the side of the road until it stopped. 
* Evenings with a glass of wine (or a camomile tea), playing Pass the Pigs and chatting at the campsite about everything we had seen and were still to see. 
* Finding scones with clotted cream & jam in Cairns ….You can take the girl out of England…. Oh and seeing crocodiles in the Daintree Rainforest. 
* Turning all the lights off in the evenings as they made you feel like you’re in an operating theatre….. and lighting our bergamot candle. It actually made it feel so cosy. 
* Singing in the car and snack pitstops. Sam always came back with about 5 drinks because ‘they were on offer’. 

 

TOP TIPS:

* Buy a candle (see above). It made the motorhome feel lovely and cosy at night and made it smell nice too!
* Flip flops in the shower. The camping showers we encountered were actually all clean and completely fine. But still. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…..hygiene. ( And other people’s hair on the floor- no thanks).
* Book your campsites a couple of days in advance if they’re in really popular areas or in a particularly good location. Eg. Byron Bay. 
* Most tours don’t need to be booked too far in advance, especially somewhere like Airlie Beach as there are SO many adventure shops that will pretty much always have some availability. We booked ours 1 day in advance.
* Buy a collapsible clothes dryer/line. It made doing washing soooo much easier as we had somewhere to let our clothes dry outside the motorhome. 
* Camping apps that are pretty good: Maui, Campermate, Maps.Me
* Share the driving. This might be an obvious one, but it is nice to take turns as then one person isn’t completely wiped out after a long drive. 
* Stay at least 2 nights in places you’re really interested in. Maybe more. We felt even 2 nights felt rushed sometimes, so try to set off early on longer drives as then you still have some of the day left once you arrive at your campsite. 
* Keep the motorhome clean. Now I’m not going all Marie Kondo on you, but it seriously makes it more pleasant to be in if there isn’t a whole sandpit in there when you’re trying to climb into bed. 
* Try as best as you can to go to a campsite that is as close as possible to the area you’re exploring. They are sometimes a little more expensive, but it means that you don’t feel miles out from everything and you can walk out and leave your motorhome plugged in and awning set up rather than having to pack everything up and drive a while to get to where you want to go. 
* Ask for a camping spot reasonably close to the loo block. No one wants to walk too far in the dark with bats flying over your head. Even though we had our own loo in the camper, as you can imagine it’s much more pleasant to use a real one!
* Have your own jobs. I did all the booking & organising and most of the cleaning in the camper. Sam did all the outside stuff, the setting up and techy things, and quite a bit of the cooking, although we did share that. It was nice to get into the flow of it and know what both of us would do before we could settle down for the evening!
* Double check your campervan draws before you leave the depot. It sounds totally ridiculous, but virtually every time we went round a sharp-ish corner, some of our draws flew out as they were loose, risking china plates flying all over the motorhome!! This did happen a few times as well! Funny but only until something breaks….

 

FAVE CAMPSITES: 

* Reflections Clarkes Beach Holiday Park- Byron Bay. Great great great location. Right on the beach. Short walk into town. Lovely facilities. 
* Ocean Beach Tourist Park- Miami. Such a peaceful, small campground. Again, really lovely facilities. Again, right on the most gorgeous beach. Perfect morning coffee spot right next door. And the sweetest woman who you can rent clothes pegs/lines from if you do some washing.
* Habitat Noosa- Noosa. Really amazing. We were surprised they had a spot. You can rent kayaks and boats etc. and make you own way to the Noosa Everglades. Opposite our camping spot there was a forest, home to a huge group of kangaroos. They relaxed (and fought) on the grass each evening as the sun went down and it was completely wonderful to watch. They also had a little restaurant on site which was cool. 
* The Palms- Hervey Bay. The people here were SO NICE. They were super helpful when we wanted to book a Fraser Island tour and even came to help us set up the motorhome in our spot. Small campsite but worth a visit. 

 As I write this post, I think how much fun we had…working it all out together, getting it wrong, getting it right, getting cabin fever, getting on each other’s nerves at times, loving the cosy bed cabin, playing music, sitting in the sun on camping chairs, laughing A LOT and Sam always being the one to empty the loo without moaning at all and never letting me do it no matter how many times I said I didn’t mind.

Thank you so much for reading xx

23 in Sydney

I was lucky enough to celebrate my 23rd birthday in Sydney this year. When we were planning our trip, it happened that the dates worked out and we would be staying in Sydney around the time of my birthday, so we decided to stay there for a week to really take in the city. We stayed in 2 different places, firstly Pier One at Sydney Harbour for 3 nights over my actual birthday and secondly Mantra Apartments for 4 nights, further into the city. We loved both for different reasons and would highly recommend both too.

Pier One was beautiful, with great views of the harbour and was situated directly under the Harbour Bridge- how amazing. It was a short walk to restaurants, shops and not too long to the Sydney Opera House and Botanic Gardens too. Our room was a lovely calm white and blue theme with rustic beams and some lovely artwork.

Mantra was also a perfect location in another way, right in the thick of the city. Our apartment was a lovely size, with a sunken kitchen and gorgeous contemporary decoration. There was a pool on the roof of the accommodation and although there wasn’t loads of room by it, it was a great spot to catch some rays in amongst the craziness of the city. We really enjoyed feeling like we had our own little place and really settling in!

I have to say, we adored Sydney. It could be partly because we settled in the same area for longer than our normal stops, but it could also be because it’s pretty fabulous. The perfect balance of beach and city, greenery and buzzy streets, we really loved it. I might go as far to say that it was my favourite city. Although it’s a large place, it didn’t feel it. The beaches of Bondi and Manly really aren’t far at all from the city centre and so you don’t feel as though you have to trek to one area for the whole day.

TOP TIPS/SPOTS

* Go on the Hop on Hop Off- like some other cities we’ve been to in the world, we used the city tour as our way of getting around. Not only are the tours brilliant and show you all of the key spots in the city, but the 2nd Sydney route takes you to Bondi Beach – saving money on taxis and also showing you the whole area!

* Walk away from the main drag in Bondi, into the smaller streets and alleys for some gorgeous boutiques, little cafes and vintage shops. My faves- Tigerlily, Miss Brown Vintage, Playa by Lucy Folk

* Do the Bridge Climb- we had SO much fun! Even for people scared of heights, I’d say that it’s totally worth it. The moments that are the hardest to climb are a bit lower and involve ladders. When you get higher up, it is just a really easy pathway and so rather than focusing on how far away the ground is…. you just enjoy the beautiful views across the harbour. Our guide was brilliant and took some great photos of us too! We did ours first thing in the morning, but I believe you can book them for sunrise/sunset too and I bet that would be amazing.

* The Blue Mountains- these are a bit of a drive out of the city (obviously) but worth the effort. We booked a tour with Mount n Beach Safari and they were great. Such a lovely tour guide and although the day we went was a little bit cloudy, the views were incredible. We did a great hike along the bush trail looking over the Grose Valley. It wasn’t too difficult but the scenery was a gorgeous reward. We also stopped at Calmsley Hill farm on the way, where we saw an orphaned joey kangaroo in a washing basket covered in blankets to replicate its Mum’s pouch. (All together now….. *aaaawwww*).

* Watch the sunset over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair lookout. We met up with some friends from my uni and they recommended this….it’s a must do! Walk through the Botanic Gardens round to the other side and signs will start to appear. There’s a little ‘bar truck’ that sells cocktails, wine, beer… all the good stuff. Grab one, carry on walking up, then sit on the hill and see the beaaaautiful orange sky over Sydney (and lots of people having Instagram shoots).

* Bondi Beach- GO. It’s amazing. Although very busy and definitely touristy, it’s fab. I already mentioned the shops, but as a place it’s a buzzy, vibrant, cool spot. We went on my birthday and had such a fun day. I’d definitely recommend going to the Icebergs pool too ( the one that’s always on the postcards of Bondi where the waves crash over the pool). Although the pool is beyond FREEZING, it’s so much fun sitting right by the edge and being thrown to the other side of the pool by a crazy wave (trust me). Also as someone who doesn’t looove swimming in the sea, it feels like you are!

* Visit the lovely library. Although it isn’t quite as spectacular as the oldest library in Australia in Melbourne, it’s still a gorgeous, peaceful space. And they give you free pretty bookmarks.

* Manly Beach- even if you have a strained relationship with boats as I do…. get the ferry over here. Manly is a sweet little surfy town with some cool shops and a relaxed vibe. Less busy than Bondi, we had such a chilled day here and rented sun-beds (which they don’t offer at Bondi). This was a nice alternative to becoming a sand monster when just lying on a towel… Sam rented himself a surfboard here and had a go at riding the waves…..he actually did really well!

* Darling Harbour- a pretty place to have a stroll around and a meal on the waterfront.

* Royal Botanic Gardens- now it wouldn’t be one of my blog posts without a proper mention of the Botanic Garden. A great place to sit and read or just relax in the sun right by the Opera House but out of the busy streets. Gorgeous views, peace and greenery- yes please.

TOP EATS

* Gelato Messina- this little gem lives at the entrance to the Gateway Plaza on Circular Quay. Hooooly Moly. The best gelato I’ve had outside of Italy. My fave flavours were Dulce de Leche and White Chocolate & Hazelnut….. say no more.

* Contrabando- Latin street food and scrumptious cocktails. We had the Mexicola set menu- lots of little sharey dishes. Our faves- the chargrilled corn with all sorts of tasty things on top, the fish tacos and wagyu cheeseburger spring rolls. Woweee.

* Smoking Gun Bagels- we came here for my birthday breakfast and had yummy, fresh bagels crammed with avocado, crispy fried egg and some other tasties. Coffee also great.

* Public Bar- at Bondi Beach. They do mouth-wateringly good Double Squish cheeseburgers here. As we all know, the perfect bun is very important… I can report it was extremely delicious.

* Georgie Boy’s- our favourite morning coffee spot near our Mantra apartment. They do an absolutely roaring trade, it was crazy busy every morning but we never waited long. Almond milk iced coffee and a halloumi breaky wrap to go?

* Bennelong- this is the restaurant inside the Opera House and I couldn’t recommend it more. Sam booked it as a surprise for my birthday meal and it was so special. The restaurant has a huge jutting-out slanted window treating you to a view of the beautiful twinkly lights of the city as you eat your delicious dinner. Also if you fancy a giggle (hate the word giggle) sit near the window, you see people walk into it as it gives the illusion that it’s flat.

* Mejico- the best chunky guacamole with plantain chips. Tacos were also yum but the guacamole stole the show.

Sydney was a complete dream. We would go back in a heartbeat. Everyone we met was so friendly, the streets were so clean, the sun shone (majority of the time) and we spent our week in perfect harmony with burgers and beaches.

Hobart in a Heartbeat

First of all, what a beautiful, unspoilt, lusciously green place. I feel embarrassed to say that I didn’t know anything about Tasmania at all before we came (except for the Tasmanian devil which I originally thought was just a cartoon not an actual animal…). We wouldn’t have to be asked twice to go back. We originally added it as a stop on our trip to visit an animal sanctuary and see some real life Tasmanian devils (which actually look nothing like the cartoon), but it has SO much more to offer than that. Endless greenery, vast landscapes, incredible bays and mountains to explore. We had 3 days here and oh how we wished we’d had longer…. it is definitely on our return list.

We only saw the capital city and so I can’t give a full description of the entire state, but I’ll do my best to give you a flavour of the wonder that is Hobart.

TOP recs:

Mount Wellington- we drove right to the top in Terry the snot-coloured Toyota ( see below) and could see absolutely nothing. It was hilarious as we saw masses of photos of what it SHOULD have looked like, but the fog was ridiculous. The viewing platform was pretty amazing though because we just felt like we were in the clouds. As we drove back down, the clouds cleared and the view over Hobart was beautiful, definitely worth the trek up there.

Salamanca Place- lots of charming shops, galleries and cafes in a quaint little square. There’s the famous Salamanca Market here too, but unfortunately it wasn’t on when we were here. Kelly’s Steps in Salamanca Place take you up to Battery Point- a lovely old neighbourhood with really pretty 19th century cottages- worth a stroll around.

St David’s Park- we spent a couple of hours relaxing here in the sunshine one afternoon. It was pretty near our hotel so it was our little slice of green in the city. There’s also the best coffee sold here in the mornings from a tiny cart. The girl running it was so lovely, chatting to us about Hobart and we also bought one of her delicious homemade raspberry dark choc brownies.

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens- now if you’ve read any of my other travel posts, you’ll know we’re suckers for a Botanical Garden. This one didn’t disappoint. 100% would recommend. A stunningly beautiful, absolutely immaculate, green haven. Not the biggest, but free to go in and one of my favourites we have visited.

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary- this was about half an hour drive from Hobart and marked our first up close interaction with kangaroos. We absolutely loved it. It’s not huge, but definitely a must see. The rangers look after injured, orphaned and endangered animals and you could see how much they truly cared for them. There were huge boxes full of kangaroo food all over the sanctuary which were free to take from ( I literally emptied my handbag and filled it with food) and then you could just slowly walk over to a kangaroo, crouch down and let it feed right out of your hand. Sam virtually had to drag me out after, I just wanted to keep doing it! The babies were absolutely gorgeous, climbing in and out of their mum’s pouches, with such fluffy fur and fluttery eyelashes. We also saw a male kangaroo standing like a bouncer here which gave us a laugh (see below)

It was here we saw our first Tasmanian devil. Actually much cuter in the flesh and pretty small. We saw loooads of other animals here- a baby wombat, koalas, eastern quolls and bettongs…. to name a few!

MONA- this was one of our favourite things in Hobart. A huge, immersive art experience/gallery mostly underground. Firstly, the building is absolutely amazing, on an island of its own and the architecture will blow your mind. We felt as if we’d been in a weird dreamworld for a few hours when we came out. Films, paintings, sculptures, experiences, sounds, experiments…anything and everything goes at MONA. I feel like it’s extremely hard to describe, but just trust me on this one, don’t miss out. I’ll add some of our photos down below, but I don’t want to add too much and ruin the surprise!

TOP eats:

We went to NoHo (North Hobart) for 2 of the nights for dinner and I would say that’s the main foodie area.

Bar Wa Izakaya- Japanese cuisine. Double yum. We had the tastiest dumplings and crunchy, fresh Asian salad there and the ceiling was covered in fairy lights with sake bottles hanging down, a really cool spot.

Metropolitan Pizza- Sam found this pretty new restaurant modelled on the London underground with vintage train chairs and tables. The menu was set up like a metro map and we had the yummiest pizzas. Sam had one that genuinely tasted like a double cheese burger. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it- a pure genius creation.

Retro Cafe- in Salamanca Place, a really sweet, popular cafe. Such friendly staff and lovely fresh bagels.

Picnic Cafe- tasty breaky, we had avo toasties and great coffee.

Scallop Pie- we shared one of these (wish we’d got our own) for lunch, bought from a little floating cafe in the harbour. Native to Tasmania and I couldn’t recommend them more. Fresh golden puff pastry full to the brim with curried scallops- wow. *Mouth is watering as I write this*

Hobart truly is a special place and totally different from mainland Australia. It was gorgeously unspoilt and peaceful, with super friendly people and some brilliant activities. We tried to cram as much in as we could, but we will definitely travel around it for longer next time! I hope this gives you a little glimpse into “Tassie”….thanks for reading. Xx

Terry the Toyota

A side street near Salamanca Place

Sam posing with Kelly’s Steps

The kangaroo ‘bouncer’….. geddit

Near the top of Mount Wellington- windy!!!

Google what this viewing platform is meant to look like! The top of Mount Wellington

MONA ….

This exhibit was like a ‘word waterfall’ – computer generated based on the most Googled words. Really amazing!

The ‘fat car’

This was a room of screens with people all singing Madonna songs on a loop a Capella! We stayed in here for ages.

The Great Ocean Road and beyond….

Adelaide to Melbourne. What a journey.

Here’s our rundown of The Great Ocean Road and beyond: where to stop, where to eat, what to see. We loved every minute and I wanted to share our recommendations along the way!

* Adelaide in 48 hours *

We didn’t have a huge amount of time here, but what we saw of Adelaide, we loved. First of all, we discovered the yummiest burger place (Betty’s)… they have a few scattered around Australia and considering the burger fiends that we are, I’m surprised we didn’t find it sooner. They also have the most amazing thing called a ‘concrete’ which is basically frozen custard loaded with delicious toppings like cookie butter or marshmallow sauce. (Don’t go there looking for a light bite). We also ignited our love for Botanical Gardens here. It was so beautiful. I love how you can find a peaceful haven of greenery and colour in the middle of a city. Gorgeously kept and so many lovely areas, such as the Dahlia flower garden- so pretty. The sunset over the pier at Glenelg Beach was amazing on the first night. It was a little bit cloudy, so that made for the most beautiful orangey sky. We watched it from The Mosley Beach Club on beanbags, which I would definitely recommend. Also, really yummy jalapeño poppers at Beach Burrito on Jetty Street- it had a gorgeous mural on the outside wall too, which I loved.

Barossa Valley Wine Tasting….. On our second full day in Adelaide, we went on a wine tasting tour. We had the best day. We definitely took the average age down a few years, let me just say that.. but we had so much fun. 3 different tastings. Plus lunch and cheese. Anyone who knows me knows I luuurve cheese. I was potentially more excited by that than the wine. I’m also not really a red girl, but I honestly liked 90% of the wines I would say. The people were just so lovely everywhere we stopped, and each place was different. Our first stop was Tearo Estate, a family run winery. They gave us little wine postcards with the story behind each wine on them… I liked that touch. Our second was the Lambert Estate, where we also had a really tasty, fresh lunch. We found the most gorgeous rosé called ‘First Kiss’. Lastly, we went to Pindarie Estate, where they gave us aaall the cheese. Hello!! It had such a perfect, rustic setting, with great views across the valley and huge hay bales looking over the fields of vines.

From Adelaide after breaky at Luigi’s (10/10 would recommend the sharey board) we started our journey towards Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road in Hattie the Hyundai. We made a few stops along the way…

*1st stop- Victor Harbour*

A sweet town, with some cool surfy shops and cafes, not loads to see but perfect for a pit stop. We walked across to Granite Island and the crashing waves were completely mesmerising. We stood there for ages just watching them break over the rocks. I had my first bath in over a month here too… so for that, it holds a special place in my heart.

*2nd stop- Robe*

We didn’t have super high hopes for Robe, as we didn’t know much about it, but it was so charming! We had a little cottage, which I have to say, looked a little bit scary on the pictures…kind of ‘set of a horror film’ vibes…. but it was actually the sweetest thing. We felt like we had a little house there and we really settled in. The 2nd bedroom did have a creepy doll in it though… I did SO MUCH WASHING HERE. Just needed to note that. I was so happy. We turned the cottage into Widow Twankey’s Wash Shop, literally clothes, knickers, towels hanging from everything. We hung most of our stuff outside and found it all scattered across the garden in the morning, so we had to do a scavenger hunt for stray socks….. that was fun! Anyway, I’ve digressed ( no one wants to know about my washing Romy), it was a lovely beachy town with gorgeous blue water. I found my new favourite shop, Holiday- look at their dreamy Instagram. Aaaall the linen, sandals and dangly earrings. Sam tried to teach me chess here too, at the local ice cream shop (standard) and I managed to drop my entire cone onto the chess board (standard Romy). We loved it here.

*3rd stop- Port Fairy*

Someone in a shop in Robe told me that most people prefer Port Fairy to Robe. I think we preferred the town in Robe more, but Port Fairy’s beach and surroundings were prettier. A highlight was the walk over to Griffith Island. The most beautiful lighthouse, wallabies, unspoilt beaches and sparkling water. We had a great breaky here too, someone on Trip Advisor said it was the ‘best breakfast’ they had ever had- bold statement- at Bank St. & Co. I have to say, it was delicious. I had a fresh sourdough bruschetta with poachies, mozzarella, avo and chopped toms. Nothing wild, but it was really tasty. Sam had sweet potato avo toast.

After leaving Port Fairy, we joined the Great Ocean Road. It started with only a few flashes of ocean, then all of a sudden it was there in full force… amazing cliffs and wild waves. Luckily, we left in enough time to do all of the little stop offs, which I would definitely recommend. Bay of Islands, London Bridge, The Arch and The Grotto were some of our favourites. Once we arrived in Port Campbell, we made our way to the heliport for a tour of the 12 Apostles. We only booked a short trip, but when we arrived they upgraded us to a 25 minute tour with all the sights included! An incredible way to see the 12 Apostles… we felt very lucky. For any nervy flyers, it was much smoother than a tiny plane. I was worried beforehand but actually it was really smooth. After the flight, we thought we’d get some food in Port Campbell and decided to get some crispy prawns and scallops to share at a food shack…they gave us 1 prawn and 1 scallop. Oh we laughed… I mean I think you probably had to be there, but considering the expense, we thought there would be at least 5 of each to share… but no. Just 1. Trying to make 1 prawn and 1 scallop feed the two of you is a struggle, let me tell you. Turns out we had to specify that we wanted more than 1….

After that little giggle (hate the word giggle), we drove to Apollo Bay, for our final stop before Melbourne.

*4th stop- Apollo Bay*

So. The most gorgeous room. There was a big bath in the middle, which I completely relished. But in terms of much to see… nada. We strolled out in the evening as we were starving after the 1 prawn 1 scallop saga and there was honestly nowhere to eat. We ended up sharing a takeaway pizza and relaxing in the room with ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (watch it on Netflix- so funny).

I feel like I’ve maybe done Apollo Bay a disservice, but we realised that Lorne nearby had a lovely surfy, beachy feel with loads of little shops and cafes and we probably could have stayed there instead, but considering Apollo Bay was really just the gateway to the 12 Apostles for us, it was perfect. The next morning it did give us a pretty tasty breaky- we can’t remember the name… but we had asparagus, poachies and a great coffee and it was lovely.

We arrived in Melbourne a day early and we were staying with Sam’s cousin and his girlfriend…. we had the most amazing time. Melbourne- what a city. We absolutely loved it. I feel like I can’t write out absolutely everything we did and saw, because it will take this post from being long to snore-worthy… so I will try to keep it as brief as possible.

*Marvellous Melbourne*

WHERE TO EAT-

Yomg- totally filthy, delicious burgers…. complete with cheese injectors (yes you heard me correctly)- cheese you inject into your burger. Ps. We don’t just eat burgers.

Tommy Ruffs- amazing soft shell crab. Buzzy atmosphere, great superfood salads too. ( Am I redeeming myself for the cheese injector yet?)

Bodega Underground- delish, fresh and unusual Mexican, open really late. Amazing guac.

Main Street- super tasty breaky. We both had avocado eggs benedict and it was totally veggie and yummy.

Tulip- great iced coffee.

Hawker Hall- on Chapel Street. The best Asian food. Mmmmm… makes my mouth water now thinking of those mushroom and garlic dumplings…. Also amazing sangria.

All of the Laneways in Melbourne have amazing little restaurants and tiny cafes, definitely would recommend.

COOL AREAS-

Prahran- great foodie market, some great cafes and boutique shops. We met up with some friends there and we went to a really cool cafe called Hobba.

Parkdale- Sam’s cousin lives near there, so we went to the high street a few times. A really lovely area, some cool bars and unique spots to eat.

Southbank- this is in the city and we loved it. So pretty, yet in the middle of a bustling city. Right by the water, lots of restaurants and the coolest floating bar called Arbory.

Federation Square- when we were there, there was a Footlocker ‘House of Hoops’ basketball pop-up there, which we watched for a while… basically people shooting hoops to win trainers. It had a great atmosphere. Also, the area was so clean and modern, we loved it.

Brighton Beach- it has beach huts that are inspired by Brighton in the UK. I loved it! There were so many pretty designs and we kept walking along saying… ‘I’d have that one….actually that one….actually that one!’

Chapel Street- THE street to eat and drink on, famous for its foodie spots and groovy bars (…did I just say groovy?) That was where Hawker Hall was.

The Laneways- these are scattered all over the city, but the main one is probably Hosier Street. Really busy, packed with tourists, but definitely worth a look, famous for its street art.

St Kilda- great buzzy area for drinks. We watched the most beautiful pink sunset and I had a great pornstar martini at Captain Baxter.

OTHER THINGS WE LOVED-

The State Library of Victoria- okay book wormy me needed to mention this… it was complete heaven for me. So beautiful, so peaceful and sooo many books.

The Royal Botanical Gardens- another gorgeous garden, another tranquil break from the busy city. Definitely would recommend a stroll round here.

Cricket! – we went to see the Semi Final and Final of the Big Bash while we were in Melbourne and it was sooo much fun at the Marvel Stadium.

Clementine’s- this little gift shop was my fave. Not just because my middle name is Clementine.

The Peninsula- just an hour from Melbourne was the beautiful peninsula. There are loads of stop offs, but our faves were Arthur’s Seat lookout and Sorrento Back Beach- it had the clearest water with a turquoisey tinge and a natural ‘swimming pool’. Also had a great lobster roll in Sorrento at ‘The Boss’s Daughter’.

We absolutely loved Melbourne, its edgy, arty vibe and beautiful sights and were so grateful to Sam’s family for having us for such an amazing stay.

If you’re still here after this looong post, you deserve a gold star and a life supply of cheese injectors (….not sure that would be wise). Well done and thank you so much for reading, I genuinely appreciate it. xx

Our Western Wander

When planning our trip, we knew one thing. We wanted to explore the West of Australia as we didn’t know a great deal about it and people mostly talk about the East. Well, how we loved the West and all it had to offer. After our brilliant stay in Perth, we picked up Tina the Toyota (as mentioned in my previous post) and set off on our 8 day West coast road trip.

Stop 1- Cervantes

Has anyone seen The Sinner? Our motel looked just like the one from the first episode of Season 2… After we got over this minor detail, we set off to firstly find lunch (crucial) at the Lobster Shack- definitely worth a visit. After that we headed to the Pinnacles- what Cervantes is famous for. Pretty cool and we even had our first emu sighting!

Tip-

Eat in Jurien Bay nearby at night. Although there’s not much there, it has a few more options than Cervantes.

After we left Cervantes, we made a pit stop at Hangover Bay before driving to Kalbarri for 2 nights. That was 100% worth it. Potentially the bluest sea I have ever clapped eyes on, the whitest sand… and a pretty much deserted beach. We relaxed there for a while and soaked up the peace before heading further north. Couldn’t recommend this stop enough. Definitely would have spent longer there if we had had time.

Stop 2- Kalbarri

Such a sweet little town! We had 2 nights here and spent Australia Day here. It was also the place where we saw at least 25 kangaroos in the same place at once, during sunset where the sky was pink! Definitely sounds too good to be true… but it did happen I promise! We also had a delicious meal there at ‘Upstairs Restaurant’ (100 points if you can guess the location). The food was tapas style and we had the most delicious local prawn sliders… so good we ordered another portion. I also managed to knock over my full gin & tonic there- typical me! We explored the different surrounding beaches, from Chinaman’s to Jake’s and they were fab. Despite this, the wind was absolutely ridiculous. I have honestly never been somewhere so windy – I thought my sunbed was going to literally take off into the air and fly to the next town. On Australia Day, there was the sweetest little market in the town & in the evening we shared a pizza and sat on a hill overlooking the fireworks- we could have been the only two people there, it felt really special.

The main attraction in Kalbarri is the National Park, where Nature’s Window is. We went there the morning of Australia Day and did a few mini hikes to different lookout spots. Nature’s Window was super beautiful. The flies were releeeentless here though- Sam, usually the most laidback person in the world was waving his hands around as if he was doing a fast-forwarded, frantic ‘Tragedy’ routine. Another wonderful sight are the Pink Lakes near Port Gregory- so bright, beautiful and vast…. and smelly. Despite this, they really were amazing and our cameras just couldn’t pick up the colour, just take our word for it… they’re gorgeous.

Key spots:

Kalbarri National Park- Nature’s Window, Z-Bend

Pink Lakes

Jake’s Bay

The pelican feeding at Chinaman’s beach

Blue Holes beach

(Side note: the nectarines in the local shop were the best I’ve ever had)

Stop 3- Monkey Mia

Maybe our favourite stop on our road trip. From the moment we drove into the bay, we loved it. Walking to our room, we saw two dolphins swimming across the bay. Such a great resort, the only one in Monkey Mia and they have all types of accommodation from camping, to apartments. We had a beach view room and it was definitely worth it. The sand was like molten lava, but worth burning the soles of your feet for. We spent our two nights there in total awe of the wildlife. Monkey Mia on Shark Bay is known for the wild dolphins that swim and play in the sea really close to the shore. We virtually spent 2 days in the sea. Watching a group of 6 dolphins make their way towards you in the water just never got old. They have dolphin feeding early every morning run by volunteers, although the dolphins are wild. They only feed the mothers and only a very small amount, as they want them to stay as wild as possible. They also don’t touch them if they can help it.

The sunsets here were also incredible. We would definitely go back there, a completely unmissable destination.

Tips-

If you want to be chosen to feed a dolphin- grin like a lunatic- we were told they love a grinner… so that’s exactly what I did… and was picked! Or wear something bright.

Take a snorkel!! Loads of amazing fish as well as the dolphins.

Stop 4- Carnarvon

What to say about this town….it was pretty strange to say the least. There was a pretty lake, but other than that, I would say we saw a total of 10 people. Now, we actually quite like exploring really quiet, seemingly empty places.. but this honestly felt like a ghost town. There wasn’t really anywhere we could find for dinner, so we ended up sharing a hot deli chicken in the room that night… Although we wouldn’t go here again, it was just a stop off and for that… it was ideal. One place that was worth seeing though, was Quobba, where there were some amazing blow holes. Every time the water spouted out of the holes, a little rainbow appeared in the sky!

Stop 5- Exmouth on the Ningaloo Reef

This is a contender for our favourite place. So so cool. Emus walking around the garden areas of our hotel, drinking from the fountain. Amaaazing snorkelling where you can see turtles and whale sharks ( in season). A great local brewery with the hot jalapeño dip that I promise I will only mention one more time. We met the nicest couple snorkelling at Turquoise Bay, who said they would send the photos they took with their GoPro of the turtles we all saw together – still waiting for those Ken!! We forgot Sam’s GoPro and so we just had to enjoy the turtles in real life!!!!!! Shock horror!!! Also the most beautiful colourful fish and even sea cucumbers!

We stayed at Mantarays Ningaloo Beach and had potentially the best avo toast I’ve ever eaten – for anyone that follows me on Instagram- sorry to mention it again. It had goats cheese, delicious, soft but not toooo runny poached eggs, fresh chopped tomatoes, sourdough toast and a drizzle of balsamic. Wow. I’ll just leave that there.

Tips-

Make the drive to Turquoise Bay, it’s definitely worth it. Turtles!!!!!

Go to Froth Brewery to eat- fresh prawn & avo salad ( can you tell I like avocado) and of course the mother of all dips. ( Told you I wouldn’t directly mention it again)

After that, we flew back to Perth and spent another few lovely days with Sam’s family.

Top recs and tips of the West:

* Monkey Mia for the wild dolphins and epic sunsets

* Exmouth- Turquoise Bay for the turtles and beaaautiful beaches.

* Hangover Bay- great name and even greater beach.

* Raspberry maltesers- great road trip snack (if kept in the shade)

* Snorkels are a must everywhere- can’t believe I’m actually saying that as a fairly nervy sea swimmmer but they’re definitely a necessity.

* Set off early for any hikes- the sun takes no prisoners.

* The roads can be very long and very empty of both other cars and loos. Go when you get a chance!!!! And make sure you have a Spotify playlist that you and your travel buddy agree on- we have mostly different music taste, but we did agree on the Kisstory Old School Anthems playlist- bit of Nelly, bit of TLC, bit of Akon.. we’re both happy.

* Kalbarri National Park- go early because we were told it gets really busy.

* Quobba Blow Holes- bit of a drive out the way but definitely worth seeing.

* Watch out for kangaroos on the road, they literally just dart out in front of you!

* Buy a fly net- seriously.

Thanks for reading xx

The First 3 Weeks

Feb 5th – Alice Springs

I can’t quite believe we’re in Feb already. January came and went in a flash it seems… although, we were in Cornwall for NYE and that feels like months ago. Sam and I started our trip on January 15th and so far we have visited Dubai and Perth, and also done an 8 day road trip all up the Western side of Oz, up to Exmouth. We have just left for a camping trip at Uluru (Ayers Rock) for 3 days before heading to Adelaide. The neat freak in me thinks I should wait and write about the first month, rather than the first 3 weeks, but the long journey into the outback feels like a good time to write. We have had a great mix of desert, city, beach and outback so far and we have seen some amaaaazing wildlife. Also, as someone who has a bit of a sea-swimming phobia, I have conquered a fear of mine and properly swam in the sea for the first time in a very long time, and not just swam alone, but with wild dolphins and also turtles. For a while, I would just go to the beach and dip my toes in, or get in briefly and get out again, so this is a pretty big deal for me. I think it’s the unknown that frightens me, but this whole trip has been about the unknown, so I have just tried to embrace it. I would have massively missed out too if I hadn’t gone in the sea, so I feel pretty pleased that I did it.

I am going to do another post soon as a mini guide to Western Australia, not that I know half as much as some people, but just from the experience we’ve had. For this post, just wanted to document our progress and what we have loved so far.

Firstly, although Dubai is a unusual place, we loved it. It feels like a vibrant, lively and exciting city to be in. There’s also loads to do and see and we would definitely go back. We stayed with Sam’s family and we had such a great time, it really was a brilliant start to our trip. They really made sure we saw as much of Dubai as we could in the few days we had there. We did a desert safari that included quad biking, 4 wheel driving across the sand dunes and dinner at a camp with fire breathers and belly dancers. We also tried paddle boarding for the first time, and explored Dubai’s amazing malls and hotels. (I had to massively hold back in Sephora… I only bought a pair of eyelash curlers and a couple of eye masks, anyone that knows me would be very proud). Food is also a huge part of Dubai’s appeal, with some great restaurants and breaky spots.

After Dubai, we headed to Perth, again to stay with some other members of Sam’s family and wow did we love it. I’d never been to Australia before and Sam went when he was a lot younger, so it was such a breath of fresh air for both of us. I had wondered what Australia would be like for such a long time and Perth was a great place to start. With the gorgeous beaches of Scarborough and Trigg, the beautiful King’s Park that I would spend all day in and the buzzy city centre, we loved it. We actually stayed in Perth for a few days before our West Coast road trip and also for a few days when we got back before heading here. I can really see the appeal of Perth, although it could be considered isolated in some ways. As a drama and performance lover, the Perth Fringe was right up my street, and was on while we were there. I would go back to Perth just for that alone! We also went to see the Perth Glory football team play and also the Perth Scorchers cricket team too. I actually really enjoyed both- aided by vod, lime & soda. Some great beach days, bbqs and a look around the famous Fremantle jail too, we had a brilliant time and felt so welcome.

After our first visit to Perth, we picked up our car, Tina the Toyota and drove North, stopping at Cervantes, Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon and Exmouth on Ningaloo Reef. As I said, I’ll do another post on our best tips for a Western road trip soon. Highlights were: seeing an Emu family cross the road in front of our car, some incredible sunsets, Australia Day in Kalbarri and seeing about 25 kangaroos in one place, Hangover Bay- potentially the bluest sea I have ever seen, swimming with dolphins in Monkey Mia, feeding pelicans, the blow holes at Quobba and swimming with turtles in the Ningaloo Reef- oh and the best jalapeño dip ever… already mentioned on my Instagram, but definitely worth writing home about.

As I write this, we’re in the van with our group driving to Uluru and I probably won’t be able to post this until we fly to Adelaide, but we’re so excited to see Ayres Rock and hopefully not have too many encounters with spiders (me not Sam).

A few things we have learnt so far:

1. Aussie drivers like to give a little wave to each other on long, remote roads. Also, if you see somewhere to stop on one of those roads, do it… you never know when the next loo will appear.

2. Raspberry Maltesers are a great road trip snack.

3. Don’t eat before going 4×4 driving on the sand dunes, we didn’t and it was the best choice I ever made. #scrambledstomach

4. Kangaroos are amazing.

5. Flies are relentless.

6. The pink lakes are brighter in person than any photo I’ve seen. Our cameras just couldn’t pick up the intense colour!

7. Take a snorkel to every beach.

8. Dubai has loads of frozen yoghurt spots…one had birthday cake flavoured yog- a big yes from me.

9. Sand gets everywhere…

10. Dolphins like it if you wave at them.

Here’s some of our photos from Dubai and Perth, I’ll include the Western road trip pics in the separate blog post! Thanks for reading xx

Oh Canada!

My boyfriend Sam and I road-tripped the East side of mainland Canada and Newfoundland this summer. Other than our car breaking down and being stranded in the middle of nowhere for an entire day (reduced story on Instagram), it was wonderful. We had the most amazing time, with a real mix of city and outdoors. I just wanted to leave my tips for each place, if you’re ever thinking of exploring the beautiful country that is Canada.

We started off in Toronto on 1st August. As soon as we arrived we loved it and felt really excited by the buzzy city and atmosphere. One thing I loved in particular about Toronto was its various areas, which all felt totally different from each other, such as Kensington Market, Dundas Square and Yorkville. It was one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to and really could imagine myself being there for a chunk of time. A few Toronto tips:

1. If you haven’t been before, buy ‘hop on hop off’ tickets. It’s a great way to get around any city and the Toronto one in particular was great and the guides had so much enthusiasm!

2. CN Tower- I loved this. It was incredible and not to state the obvious… but it is SO HIGH. I actually couldn’t believe it. If you’re a slight wimp like me, do push yourself to walk on the glass floor, it’s worth it! Don’t bother buying an overpriced cocktail at the top though, they’re tiny. One plus though, they came with little CN tower stirrers… so if, like me, you love a bit of tat, go for it.

3. Ripley’s Aquarium- you can book this as a package with the CN tower, definitely worth a visit. Amazing jellyfish and shark tanks and some very excitable sting rays!

4. Burger’s Priest- pretty decent priced burger restaurant/fast food- really tasty but the chilli cheese fries aren’t worth it. Also, don’t buy a fizzy drink can from their fridge unless you want an entire can of coke exploding all over your skirt on the first night. (I’m sure that was just me)

5. There’s always loads going on at the weekend, especially in summer it seems. To name a couple, there was a Caribbean music festival going on when we were there (unfortunately not Sam’s scene), and an amazing temporary exhibition at the National History museum with music and drinks on the top floor.

6. Pancho y Emiliano was a tiny, yummy and authentic Mexican restaurant in Kensington Market, worth the walk just for the delicious homemade guac and white sangria!

7. Casa Loma- a gothic mansion, castle style home converted into a museum. Films such as X-Men and Chicago have been shot there! It definitely had wow-factor.

8. We did a lot of eating….but another place worth a mention is Pizza Libretto, pretty pricey just for pizza, but the most delicious truffle mushroom one I’d had in a while.

We travelled to Algonquin National Park on the way to Ottawa and it was spectacularly beautiful. We unfortunately didn’t have time to kayak there, but it looked incredible. Just the most peaceful, vast space. We loved it there. Despite our lack of water sports, we made time for poutine here. If you don’t know what poutine is (what are you doing with your life), it’s cheese curds, chips and a gravy like sauce. In other words, the best food in the world. The poutine at Algonquin was our favourite of the whole trip, totally unexpected, but perfectly crispy, hot chips, melty cheese curds and the tastiest gravy. All in all, a winner.

After Ottawa, we went to Mont Tremblant National Park, which again was gorgeous. We hired a pedalo and spent the afternoon pootling around the lake. Tip: eat before you go, the sandwiches are questionable, to say the least. Mystery meat anyone? We travelled onto Montreal, a really cool, vibrant city where we stayed for 3 nights.

Tips for Ottawa:

1. There were brilliant street performers when we were there, go a bit early for dinner and enjoy the lively shows.. you won’t want to leave.

2. We went to Parliament, but not for long and we wished we’d had more time. It was so beautiful from the outside and the whole area was so clean and looked after. I would definitely recommend having a chunk of time to look around there.

3. We hardly had any time there due to our car issue, but I would definitely go back as there’s loads of other attractions- I’d recommend going for 3 nights at least.

Tips for Montreal:

1. Hike up to Mont Royal, there’s an amazing view over the city, but definitely don’t wear a skort…. Tried and tested- it’s a no from me.

2. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is FREE!

3. Crescent Street- I’m 99% sure this is the name of street we ate on every night. It was lively, bright and had such a varied selection of restaurants. We loved the (very originally named) Burger Bar and I had the Buffalo chicken mac and cheese- you have to be a spice lover though, otherwise you’ll end up taking it home in your handbag. Reaaaally hot.

4. Street food market at the pier- also a brilliant maze which we thought would be easy after glancing at the average age in the queue- we were so wrong. It was really hard! But we had such a laugh and even got a slushy at the end to continue the childhood nostalgia.

We made our way to Quebec City, one of our favourite parts of the trip. Neither of us knew that much about it before we arrived and had never known anyone that had visited. Sam said this was his favourite city and I would almost agree. It had some wicked bars and restaurants (sensing a theme here) and it was beautifully kept and historic, which still being modern and cool.

Tips for Quebec City:

1. Old town- as beautiful and charming as you could imagine. Definitely worth a visit. We felt as though we were in a European city from about the 1950s.

2. Walk along the Terrasse Dufferin, all the way to the end and climb the stairs…. Yes they will seem endless, but the view is worth it.

3. L’Atelier- amazing cocktails, epic nachos and the best tartare.

4. Visit the Citadelle- the residence of the Canadian monarch and military base. You walk through a private gate, explore the area and learn masses about Canadian military history. I know I’m not selling it, but just go, you won’t regret it.

5. I feel like a total tease recommending this, as it’s both unhelpful and frustrating. But on Grande Allée, we had the best grilled cheese sandwich of our lives. The restaurant was right at the top of the street, I can’t remember the name of it. But we shared it and it blew our minds. I’m rambling because I can’t remember anything else, but I’ll just leave that there.

6. Fireworks- Every Wednesday and Saturday in August, there are fireworks across the water between two cities. Apparently, they are absolutely amazing. We had every intention of going… but totally forgot about them once we started our hunt for dinner and then I got distracted by a dj playing Sean Paul outside our restaurant…. Next time.

We had two other night stop offs in Rimouski and Moncton, which we liked a lot more than we thought we would. I won’t go into detail, because we just happened to stop there on our route, they probably aren’t common visiting spots. One last park was Jacques-Cartier National Park, perhaps our favourite one. There was just something so special about it and I took an excessive amount of photos. There was the brightest blue, clear sky that day, so maybe that helped.

After that, we flew across from Halifax to Deer Lake in Newfoundland and spent a magical few days with amazing friends. That deserves its own post, so I will write my tips and document our Newfoundland adventures another time *everyone heaves a sigh of relief that this post is nearly over* Thank you so much for reading, after reliving our foodie (piggie) experiences, I’m off to eat a salad.

Ice Iceland baby

On the 30th December 2017, my boyfriend Sam and I went to the land of lava, fermented shark and the blue lagoon… otherwise known as Iceland. We had the most wonderful time, in the most beautifully unspoilt country. I wanted to share how we spent our days, our recommendations and some of our amazing pictures.

We stayed for 4 nights in Reykjavik, in a lovely apartment hotel called ’41 A Townhouse’, which was slap bang in the middle of the main shopping, eating, pretty much everything street called Laugavegur. We couldn’t have wished for a better location after booking pretty last minute and as we all know, if you want to stay somewhere over New Year…. book early. We didn’t, and many of the hotels were full, but luckily this looked gorgeous, and it really was. Complete with the most delightful receptionist who constantly gave us friendly recommendations, it was the ideal place for us. I didn’t know much about Reykjavik before we went as it wasn’t massively on my travel radar, but I can honestly say it is my new favourite city. Completely charming, quirky, trendy (such a Mum word) and unique, it was full of individual shops, restaurants and cafes that we totally soaked up. We didn’t have one bad meal, with some of the most delicious burgers (obvs), soups and breakfasts we’ve had.

So I’ve digressed slightly into a complete love fest for Iceland, but I’ll take you back to the beginning, when we first arrived.

Day 1- 30th Dec
We landed into a dark Reykjavik at about 3pm local time and went to pick up our rental car. The first thing I noticed was that it was FREEZING. Now I wasn’t expecting tropical temperatures, but it really was nippy. After stuffing all of (my) over-packing into the car, we set off for the apartment. Luckily with cars, Sam is like a fish to water, so we were absolutely fine finding our way, and to be honest; the roads weren’t massively complicated anyway. It took us about 40/45 minutes, and when we arrived, we parked on the road outside our apartment. One thing we found in Iceland was that parking is SUPER easy, we were panicking that we wouldn’t get a space but everywhere we went there was plenty of room, which made renting a car that much more of a benefit. We dumped our stuff in the room, and set off to explore Laugavegur and the centre of Reyjavik, making our way towards the famous church, probably the focal point of the city, Hallgrímskirkja (don’t ask me to say it). It was spectacular, and seemed to just appear out of nowhere. Absolutely huge, super high and incredibly beautiful, we walked around there for while and at this point I realised that Reyjavik was somewhere special.

I know I have been pretty detailed up to here, but I just had a moment of ‘Romy people don’t care about your holiday as much as you do…..’ so I’ll be much more brief from now on… thanks for hanging in there.

Day 2- New Years Eve.

After a tasty breakfast at a quaint little café called The Grey Cat, (apparently Bjorn’s favourite breaky- not sure but we’ll go with it), we explored the city fully, shopping, eating and doing everything we do best. One thing I was absolutely amazed by was the vast expanse of sea just on the edge of the city, just the most incredible landscape. From the graffiti covered buildings, to the multi-coloured houses, I was loving Iceland more and more by the minute. One thing we discovered on the first day was how little daylight hours they have in winter. It didn’t get fully light until at least 11 in the morning and started going dark before 3, which restricts you slightly, and you end up feeling sleepy at about 5, but we managed. We went back up to the church, where a quirky waffle van parks every day, and sat watching the sun setting while we stuffed our faces with Belgian waffles smothered in Nutella…. Romantic? Not so much, when you have to eat so fast to avoid your fingers dropping off from being out of your gloves. Cue Nutella chops and HUGE mouthfuls. After freshening up, we set out in search of dinner, and struck gold with a restaurant that had a no-show reservation which meant we had their table- AMAZING! And the food was too. After this, we went back up to the church (sensing a pattern here…) and watched the never-ending firework display done by the whole city, it was PACKED. The streets were completely rammed, and luckily we got there a bit early so we had a really good spot. They were beautiful and it was the perfect way to enter 2018, in the freezing cold with the person who always lets me use his phone to video the fireworks for Snapchat when my phone runs out of battery. No I’m kidding, I promise I didn’t watch the fireworks through my screen, pinky swear.

Day 3- New Year’s Day

Waking up in 2018 with a (reasonably) clear head felt pretty good, and we set off driving around The Golden Circle, a route taking us to several natural phenomena. I won’t describe every single place in detail, as you can literally type ‘The Golden Circle’ into Google and entire websites dedicated to it come up, but I will say, each one was uniquely wonderful in its own way. From the vastness of Pingvellir, to the spectacle of Geysir, we loved road tripping in a different way than ever before, not knowing what each destination would bring. We ended our day at The Blue Lagoon, potentially my favourite moment of the whole trip. We arrived at 4, and discovered that once you check into the Lagoon, you can stay as long as you want, which meant we had a relaxed 3 and a half hours in there! We were given two different masks at the Mud bar, a complimentary drink at the Lagoon bar, and spent the next few hours chatting, swimming and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere of a place that we will never forget. We ate at the Lava Restaurant in the Blue Lagoon, and once again, the food was amazing. Sam and I got very excited for the rest of the meal after the most insane selection of bread came out just after we sat down…. (the best part am I right?). It really was magical, and although we arrived in the dark, we got a different sort of experience of the Blue Lagoon and floating around in the water watching the stars was a truly memorable moment. To top it off, we saw the Northern Lights driving back to the apartment, which was just the best start to 2018 we could have wanted, I mean what more could Iceland give us???!!

Day 4- 2nd January

On our last full day in Iceland, we spent the morning walking around the city, and spent the afternoon Lava Caving. I know, I hadn’t heard of it either, but apparently it’s a MUST DO for Iceland. Before I tell you about it, just another reminder of the BLOODY FREEZING WEATHER. Now I’m ready…. So our lovely tour guide picked us up, and he took into the middle of nowhere (there’s probably a more geographically specific location, but bear with me), and he firstly showed us several different hidden gems, such as the black beaches and a geothermal area that smelt like rotten egg. And we loved every minute! He then took us down into the lava caves, which are lava tubes from volcanoes that have turned into caves which you can explore without getting burnt to a crisp. We didn’t plan on doing any expeditions before we came to Iceland, so unfortunately I was wearing Mom jeans, however I still managed to clamber through some pretty narrow spaces, avoiding the sparkling icicles hanging down from the ceiling. It was an activity completely out of my comfort zone, but I’m so pleased we did it, and we took some pretty amazing pictures, before finishing off with a hot chocolate in the car! We spent our last evening after dinner in our favourite bar near the apartment, drinking mojitos and laughing at each other’s hat hair.

It was the most amazing holiday, I never expected to love Iceland so much and I most definitely would go back, as I realised how much there was left to see. If you’re still here after all of my ramblings, I didn’t quite succeed on making it shorter but thanks so much for reading and I hope it has inspired you to put Iceland on your travel list. Just before you go, here’s my top tips for Iceland.

TOP TIPS-

  1. If you’re going in the winter, bring a WARM coat, and I mean WARM. I know this seems obvious, but I genuinely thought my coat was snug enough, and it bloody wasn’t.
  2. If you can, rent a car- we found the freedom and adventure so exciting and it meant we could travel about on our own terms and at our own pace… also driving in Iceland is BEAUTIFUL, the landscape is just breathtaking, so you don’t quite get the same feel on a coach trip. Plus, you can sing as much Pitch Perfect at the top of your lungs as you want.
  3. Book the Blue Lagoon before you go, and spend as much time there as you can. You won’t want to leave.
  4. Take a thick moisturiser…. the cold holds no prisoners.
  5. Order the house white- EVERYTHING is expensive, so if you fancy a tipple, order the cheapest thing- except if you want a mojito…. Then always go for the mojito.
  6. Be up and out by 9 even though the sun isn’t up, and there’s virtually nowhere open for breakfast. The sunrise is worth it.

 

Food you HAVE to eat-

  1. The Grey Cat- the croquet madame was delish.
  2. Sand- the breakfast there was amazing. We both had Eggs Royale and it came with kale… I know I know, but it was actually delicious, I even surprised myself.
  3. Sandholt bakery- the sandwiches, just the sandwiches. And the cakes, and pasteries…. You get my drift.
  4. Snaps Bistro- delicious fried ravioli & mouth-wateringly rich beuf bourguignon.
  5. Lebowski Bar- we didn’t try the food but fab mojitos and a really lively atmosphere, plus they have this sign on the door…. ‘If you are racist, sexist, homophobic or an asshole… don’t come in!’ I think that sums it up.

Thanks for reading, here are some of our pictures!

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He made us stare at the wall!!!!

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