travelling

Plaid & Denim for Summer?

mornington7

Groundbreaking is what I hope Meryl Streep’s character would say if she looked up at me through her glasses and did a head to toe flick with the eyes. In reality, she’d probably get her assistant to throw me out.

Victoria is known for its crazy four seasons one day kind of weather so I wanted to be as prepared as possible in Mornington Peninsula even if it meant sweating a bit and looking out of place on the beach. Everything about this outfit is a travel essential regardless of the climate you’re jetting off to. Converse are a given, boyfriend jeans are comfortable eating pants and flannels make great swimsuit coverups. Plus, a boater hat and aviators are just good sense.

I spotted this long line of brightly painted beach boxes as soon as we docked and couldn’t wait to get a proper look at them and call dibs for the future. For a cool, 150k you can buy one to store all the flamingo blow ups, boogie boards and neoprene wetsuits you need for a day by the sea. Its a sound investment because the government has stopped allowing people to build new ones only to purchase and repaint old ones. I think mine would be turquoise, with a white roof and a pink door.

What colours would your beach box be?

Recreate my Look:

Flannel / Jeans / Converse / Hat / Backpack / Sunnies / Watch (c/o)

mornington4mornington1mornington3mornington2mornington10mornington11mornington6mornington13mornington8mornington12mornington5mornington9signoff2

Seas the Day with P&O

po40Aslings Beach, Eden 

Ahoy! I have returned back on shore with sea legs and a full belly after seeing some of the ‘Secrets of the South‘. Last week, I spent 8 nights onboard the newly launched Pacific Eden which sailed from Sydney to Kangaroo Island and back. To give you a little idea of what a day in the life of a cruise-ling is like, I present to you a 48 hour recap that consists of one port day and one sea day.

po59po61po58Daily Essentials: Hat / Sunnies /Reversible Swimsuit (c/o)

Port Day

0700 – Breakfast at The Pantry: The Pantry is the closest thing to a buffet that you will get on the Pacific Eden. Gone are the days of sticky salad tongs and soda dispensers. Instead, the citrus coloured interiors are divided into cuisines and everything is served by cruise staff. If you want quick food without the hassle of waiting for a 3 course meal, The Pantry is the place to go. My favourite sections were the salad bar and the dessert bar 🙂

po26po43po25

0800 – Shore Tour: A port day means that the liner docks for a whole day  (usually around 7am -5pm) and you’re free to roam the place as long as you get the last tender back to the boat. This particular boat docked at Eden, Mornington Peninsula, Portland and Kangaroo Island. I squeezed in a couple of shoots at these places so I can’t wait to show you more beautiful photos in the coming weeks.

po35Seal Bay, Kangaroo Islandpo34Cape du Couedic Lightstation, Kangaroo Islandpo28Admirals Arch, Kangaroo Islandpo31Clock By The Bay, Portlandpo30Mac’s Hotel, Portland

1900 – Dinner at Waterfront: As the name suggests, this is the restaurant with views of the ocean. Serving up ‘Modern Australian’, Waterfront was my favourite dining option that didn’t come with a cover charge because the menu changed every night, the staff were wonderfully enthusiastic and the decor was stunning. There’s three courses for lunch and dinner plus an extra sharing platter for the evening that is another meal in itself!

2000 – Pre Show Drinks: The drinks on the Pacific Eden were flowing every hour of the day and there are plenty of bars all around. Keep your wallet at home – all you need is your cruise card and everything purchased is put on your tab.

po4The Ocean Barpo55The Domepo50Angelo’s Bar

2045 – Velvet Rope at the Marquee: There was live entertainment on most nights but the Velvet Rope was my favourite because it coincided with The Great Gatsby party. Expect lots of singing, dancing and beautiful costumes – all delightfully tied up in a neat 45 minutehigh action show.

2230 – Late Night Movie: If you’re still not ready for bed you can always head over to the Torquay to catch the last movie of the day. Some of our options included Jurassic World, Kingsman, Gone Girl, Age of Adeline and Fantastic Four.

Sea Day

0800 – Morning Dip: Sea days are the perfect opportunity to test out all the amenities starting with a swim in the many pools available.

0900 – Breakfast at Waterfront: Then its time to have a long breakfast complete with all the juices, pastries and sweet and savoury breakfast options in the world.

1000 – Zumba in the Dome: With all the 3 course meals you’re consuming, this is a great morning workout to do. Can you still pull a one leg stretch with sea legs?

1130 – Hair Appointment at Elemis Spa: The Elemis Spa has a a huge variety of services available including massages, fire and ice manicures or even a chop and colour which is what I had done!

1300 – Lunch at Angelos: Aside from the Waterfront, there are two other restaurants that are included in your ticket. Angelo’s does Italian and Dragon Lady does Pan-Asian.

po49Angelo’s

po44Dragon Lady

1400 – Silver Screen: Breakfast at Tiffany’s: There’s always a classic flick on in the afternoon. I’ve been meaning to watch this Audrey Hepburn film for the longest time so this long sea day was perfect for that!

1530 – Gym: Get your body ready for dinner ha!

1730 – Spa: There’s an outdoor jacuzzi for those who don’t mind the natural elements but if you want to spoil yourself, try the Elemis spa rooms. There’s a wet and dry steam room, a jacuzzi and my personal favourite, the heated ceramic beds which dry your wet swimmers.

1900 – Dinner at Luke Magnan Salt Grill: Salt Grill comes with a $49 cover charge but its still a price that can’t be beaten if you were to experience his food in one of his physical land stores. The French and Chinese fusion inspired menu is presented in a simplistic way that still packs an incredible punch of flavour.

2145 – Comedy: A bit of cheeky fun for all the adults on board.

223o – Bianco White Party at the Dome: There are a ton of parties on board and there’s a great atmosphere created when everyone gets involved in the theme. Our cruise had a sail alway, a back to school party, a gatsby night, a bianco white party and a las vegas pool party.

2359 – Midnight Snack and Zzzzz: Your stewardess makes your bed twice a day which is service that I have never experienced. They will first make your bed in the morning and then whilst you’re having dinner, they get it ready for the evening by dimming the lights, placing a tray of midnight snacks on the bed and twisting your towels into animals. You will feel incredibly spoiled and taken care of for sure!

po41 2cheeky cheeky po27po57The Opera House as we sailed awayIMG_1115

Post created in collaboration with P&O Cruises

signoff2

Topdeck NZ Northern Explorer

topdeckreview1

When I was initially researching this trip, I looked high and low for a review about this specific Topdeck tour but I couldn’t find anything that answered all my questions and was also recently published. Now that it has been almost a month since my return, I wanted to create a post for anyone who is looking to do the Northern Explorer tour in the future. I will be covering accommodation, food, attractions and the people 🙂

topdeckreview19

I booked my tour a few months in advance with STA travel but you can also book online directly through Topdeck’s own website. I would definitely recommend doing it in person through an agent because you can ask as many questions as you please, the price is exactly the same and you don’t have to pay the whole trip up front, only a small deposit. If you don’t want the hassle of booking flights and buying insurance separately, STA are happy to hook you up as well but if you want to save some money you can grab those through Webjet which is what I did.

topdeckreview20

Accommodation

My friend and I went together so we upgraded to twin share which was an extra hundred each. This was a really great decision on our part because our room was always much nicer and we would always have access to our own private bathrooms and amenities. I think the accommodation was fantastic in terms of variety, as you can see we stayed in a ski resort, a Maori Marae (which is the sacred meeting place) and also a small boat!

These are all the places we stayed at:

  • Pre-Accommodation at Travelodge Hotel, Wellington
  • Skotel Alpine Resort, Mount Ruapehu
  • Maori Marae, Rotorua
  • Sudima, Rotorua
  • Rock the Boat, Bay of Islands
  • Tanoa Paihia Hotel, Tanoa

topdeckreview10

Rotorua Museum of History & Art

Attractions

I paid for three optional extras: Hobbiton, Hell’s Gate mud spa and Rock the Boat. There is a ton of other cool things that you can also participate in such as white water rafting, zorbing, inflatable kayaking and bungee jumping.

Hobbiton: to read more about my Hobbiton experience, you can visit my first New Zealand post here.

Hell’s Gate: was a nice experience after having skipped way too many showers on this trip! We spent an hour in the hot mud and springs where our noses accommodated to the sulphurous scent of Rotorua.

Rock the Boat: this was my favourite part of our entire trip! For 22 hours we went on a tiny little boat and saw all 144 islands with a very enthusiastic local crew. There was a paint balling introduction, fishing for dinner followed by night kayaking which was breathtaking. We paddled out at 10pm and the water was filled with phosphorous algae so when we dipped our paddle or arm in the water, a beautiful trail of glow in the dark algae moved along with us. We also lay in our kayaks and looked up at the glowing night sky and it was quite magical 🙂 After kayaking, the brave kids jumped in for a swim. It was cold but so worth it because as we swam, the algae continued to glow and everyone felt like a mermaid. Once all warmth had escaped our bodies we jumped back out and sat by the fire. The next morning we went snorkelling and hiked up a lush island barefoot. I don’t think I’ve ever had that many adventures in under 24 hours!

The activities that were already included in our tour were just as great and the night at the Marae was my favourite. Some of the things included a hike in Tongariro which you can read more about in my previous post here, a rugby lesson at the NZ Sports Academy and a night learning about Maori culture including the haka and poi dances at the Marae.

topdeckreview16topdeckreview17

If you choose not to participate in an activity you have the option of exploring the city yourself. None of the activities are affiliated with Topdeck so you can do as little or as much as you would like. Here’s a snap of me ‘skydiving’ and another of my friend bungee jumping.

topdeckreview4

Te Papa Museum

topdeckrevie19

Food

Breakfast is included every morning at the location of the accommodation for the previous night. We had a combination of cold and hot breakfasts and three dinners were included. Lunch was always up to us and we were given the opportunity to go to grocery stores and stock up on water and snacks if we were heading somewhere remote.

topdeckreview18

People

For the trip we had a tour leader, a driver and an extra person who did both jobs whenever the main people were tired. No tipping is required and they were all very helpful. Most of the the other travellers were Australian like myself but around 30% were from overseas. We had a big group of almost 40 including people from the UK, US, Germany, France and Switzerland. The best way to describe the environment would be like a big school camping trip. I know tours like these have a reputation for being party tours but I think it usually depends on the group itself. This was a bit of a quiet group so there was no pressure to drink if you didn’t want to and the places we travelled to lacked night life so there wasn’t much on offer in terms of after hours entertainment.

topdeckreview7

Waiotapu Geothermal

topdeckreview12

Overall, Topdeck tours are very fast paced adventure packed trips. If you want to see lots of scenery, I wouldn’t recommend going on one because we were only allowed 10 to 30 minutes tops at some scenic lookouts. However, they are very well organised so you don’t have to do much thinking aside from getting to the bus on time.

topdeckreview6

Huka Falls

topdeckreview18

I never have much use for souvenirs so I only bought one thing for myself – a kiwi charm (only available to purchase in New Zealand) to finish off my pandora bracelet for 2015.

Hopefully this whopper of a post was helpful for some people. If you have any questions in general about Topdeck tours or more specific ones about the northern explorer I would be happy to answer them in the comments below. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back with a fashion post on Friday! Lets hope this weather clears up a bit too eh?!!

signoff2

Gold Coast Digger

goldcoastdigger4

A fortnight ago I was lucky enough to score a last minute deal to the Gold Coast. It’s like the Miami of Australia and where our version of Spring Breakers herald every November. Not exactly in with that scene, I decided to postpone Gold Coast digging until the end of January 2015. The holidays I go on are usually intensely packed – sometimes with 3 am wakeup calls and past midnight showers so it was nice to head somewhere sunny without a plan for once. Click the scrapbook to see it expanded and try and spot my dress twin (I’ve been keeping count and so far I’ve seen it once in Gold Coast and once in Sydney!)

goldcoastdigger2

goldcoastdigger1

goldcoastdigger

goldcoastdigger2

goldcoastdigger21

Transport

In order to maximise out time there, we took a 6 am flight with Jetstar! This was probably the most tiring part of our journey but we were in chill mode from here on. Watching the sunrise while we took off wasn’t too bad either. The traffic around Gold Coast is pretty easy to navigate – we usually took a bus or tram. Our hotel was right beside the Surfers Paradise tram station which was super convenient. Check out that surfboard carrier on the tram below – if this isn’t a surfer’s paradise then I don’t know what is!

goldcoastdigger22

Accommodation

We stayed at a 3 bedroom apartment at Q1. It was insanely spacious for four people and had everything you needed: kitchen, 3 bathrooms, balcony, dining room, Foxtel, game consoles, board games and even DVDs (there was Mean Girls haha!). My favourite part were the views! My goodness we could see the jetty, the coastline, I basically could touch the clouds and we were only on floor 31! The facilities were pretty sweet as well. I loved lying on my back in the pool and staring at the tip of the hotel. They even had poolside tents with awnings if you didn’t want to burn.

goldcoastdigger23

goldcoastdigger25

Sights

Gold Coast is a bit like Florida because it is home to a lot of amusement parks. Since this wasn’t our first time here, we skipped Dream World, Movie World, Sea World, White Water World. Instead, we spent our days never too far from the ocean or the pool and went to Cavill Mall and Robina Town Centre for shopping.

goldcoastdigger24

Food

Although our apartment was fully equipped with a kitchen and even a food processor, we went out to eat most of the days we were there. Some of my top meals included the all you can eat pancakes from Pancake Paradise (you can order unlimited pancakes and they’re HUGE … I stopped at four), the pesto rosso from Vapiano (the wait is tiring but they make it in front of you) and the Hawaiian chicken with curly fries from Hog’s Breath Cafe.

goldcoastdigger26

goldcoastdigger27

Night Life

The Gold Coast is alive up till late and I just loved watching the skyline from up high. They have markets along the boardwalk every Sunday and we would usually walk along the beach back to our hotel in the evening.

goldcoastdigger28

I hope you enjoyed my postcard, one by ones and trademark GIFs!

sign off