Bologna is the largest city in the Emillia Romangna region of northern Italy. It is kind of half way between Venice and Florence. Known as La Rossa (the red), La Grassa (the fat) and La Dotta (the learned), Bologna is famous for its ancient architecture and terracotta colour buildings, rich beautiful food and being home to the first and oldest university in Europe. Not as busy as Venice, Rome, or Florence but certainly a city that is worth a visit when travelling through Italy.
For me, it was all about the food! Being a huge fan of Italian food and in particular Spaghetti Bolognaise (hey that is what it is called in Australia) I knew I had to make Bologna a stop on my recent trip to Italy. After two hectic days in Venice, Bologna was a very welcomed change of pace for me.
To get to Bologna from Venice, I jumped on a train that took about an hour and 20 minutes and cost $25 AUD. Too easy! I chose to stay in the university neighbourhood in the Centro Storico (historical centre) of Bologna which is literally a 10-minute walk into Piazza Maggiore and the Fountain of Neptune. Through Booking.com I managed to find a lovely 1-bedroom apartment to which the owner was simply lovely and very accommodating giving me loads of handy hints, places to eat and areas to explore. My review of Le Casine Di Vladimir (my apartment) is here.
After familiarising myself with the apartment I was off to explore the area. I spent a few hours roaming around Bologna’s famous (and very beautiful) porticos, people watching, grocery shopping and beer drinking at Cluricaune Irish Pub. Upon numerous recommendations from locals and people back in Australia it was an absolute must that I try out one of Bologna’s most famous Osterias ‘Osteria dell’Orsa’.
The place is loaded with people at all hours looking for a cheap, simple but authentic meal. Often there is a wait for a table with people queuing out the front, but the lines apparently move fairly quickly. With this in mind, I decided to miss the crowds and line up and have an early dinner. I managed to score a seat on a shared table filled with the united nations of diners. My table was mixed with a few locals, Germans, Singaporeans, a solo Israeli traveler and this solo Aussie chick. Every single one of us ordered the same. Tagliatelle al Ragu. Or as Australian’s like to call it, spaghetti bolognaise (I promise to never call it that again!)
Let. Me. Tell. You…. How AMAZING this simple bowl of pasta was. It was freaking delightful, never have a tasted a pasta dish like it. So good that I am pretty sure that my eyes rolled back in my head at one point. My dinner comrades must have felt the same as you could hear a pin drop at our table while eating, only 5 minutes before that we were all laughing and telling travel stories! The food is all sourced locally and the pasta is home made. The wine is sourced from a town called Imola which is located 40 kilometres from Bologna. If you’re in Bologna, definitely definitely, definitely put Osteria dell’Orsa on your must do list.
With a full belly, I left the Osteria, grabbed some wine and headed off to Piazza Maggiore to do more people watching while reading, writing and drinking my wine like a local. On a warm spring night there is no better way to enjoy the best of Bologna, the locals certainly enjoy it probably more than the tourists.
The next day I had booked myself on a walking foodie tour. Being in the food capital of Italy doing a food tour was simply a must. You can read more about the food tour in my review ‘Best of food in Bologna’ but, this is when I had my first of many gelati on my trip to Italy. I was soon to become hooked! I was also able to take in more of Bologna’s famous sites, including the famous leaning Asinelli towers. Situated in the heart of Bologna, the towers were built in the 12th century and both have an impressive lean on them which is an interesting view from below when looking up. These two towers have more than a lean on them than the famous ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’. Pretty impressive. After the tour I wandered around the food market and purchased my dinner Lasagne alla Bolognese as well as some really rich balsamic vinegar and other foodie treats for the rest of my trip. It was an early exit to the Cinque Terre the next morning so a home cooked meal fresh from the market in my humble little apartment was a perfect end to my short stay in Bologna.
Bologna really is an Italian food lover’s paradise. The Bolognesi are clearly very passionate about their food, wine and produce and so they should be! It all really is of such high quality. The absolutely lovely thing is that they also nurture the recipes that have been passed down from generations. The food is traditional and while it is simple you really can feel the love and care that has gone into perfecting these recipes. When eating out in Bologna you really get the impression that you are eating food that has been lovingly passed down from the chefs Nona.
Although my stay in Bologna was quite short, it was really enjoyable. I felt safe, comfortable and relaxed. It is a picturesque city with a really cool vibe. I will definitely head back to Bologna and stay longer the next time I am in Italy.
I thought with all of my trips to South East Asia that I was a reasonably ok packer. In fact, the last trip I did to Bali in 2015 I only took carry on size luggage in an attempt to save money on the cost of my flights. And I did ok. Granted a trip to Bali generally means I do some much-needed suitcase filling bargain shopping, yet I STILL managed to get home with only carry on.
So where did it go wrong from Bali in 2015 to my last overseas and overpacked trip to Queenstown in 2018?
I don’t know.
Well I kind of do, some of those trips have been to much colder climates than South East Asia, like above the arctic circle cold! Some trips I have just been a total dick about what I have packed, mostly it is due to poor planning or thinking I really could need this skirt/top/cardi/hoodie/hairdryer etc etc, when in fact I clearly did not.
I mean the amount of times I have come home from a trip with a sore back from lugging around a packed to the hilt backpack only to unpack clothes I NEVER WORE!!!!
This happens to me ALL the time!
Clearly forgetting the packing for Bali rule, which is:
Refill your case with half of what you initially packed
Repack with a third less
Me, no I just pack everything but the kitchen sink. I mean I have contact lenses that had actually expired because I don’t wear them at home but here I am packing them and a full bottle of saline on my last trip to Queenstown because you never know, I may just be inclined to use them.
They were never used, in fact I threw them out so I could bring home a few purchases.
My first trip to France, a local helped me out of a train station by offering to carry my ‘backpack’ up the stairs and onto the street. Here I was worried he was going to run off with my luggage, in hindsight there is no way he’d have gotten 50 meters up the road with all I had thrown into that bag. I know my travel companion Kerryn was probably (and rightfully so) unimpressed with my massive loot on numerous occasions with me holding her up trying to lug this shitbag full of crap, but full credit to her for not giving me the ribbing I most definitely deserved.
A few years later and back in Paris and super keen to impress my gorgeous Parisian man friend (oooh la la) who happens to be a very experienced traveler (being a travel journo and all) lead to an epic fail when trying to scale the steps of a rail overpass at 5.30am to meet a train. Him needing to head off to an assignment and all. How embarrassing when he turns to me all deliciously French and goes “Your luggage is just too much, I cannot wait for you, I have to go” and off he drifts with his teeny tiny little overnight bag into the rising sun meanwhile I’m mid flight of stairs trying to lug this ridiculous bag of shit all the while looking like an unruly mess of sweat and regret.
Damn you bag. Damn you overpacking queen!!
A serial over packer I MAY have been in the past, but its time as a 42 year old who has enough travel experience to know better, I am challenging myself to do better with this packing thing.
My next trip which is in a few days time will be CARRY ON ONLY !
Yep that’s right, carry on sized luggage only for 3 weeks in Europe. 3 weeks in Europe with varying degrees of weather.
Am I crazy? I don’t think so but numerous friends and family who have seen the size of my 45 litre High Sierra Convertible Carry On Backpack think it hilarious that I am even embarking on this challenge. There are more than a few that doubt that I can do this.
Always up for a challenge and to prove people wrong, I’ll show them how easy this can be.
I am a few days out from my trip and there are certain measures I’ve had to take to ensure that this will be a success. I have to be very calculated with what I am packing and there are a number of things I have put in place for determining what will and won’t work for me. But even before I’ve started thinking about what to pack the decision to try carry on only has impacted on where I have chosen to stay however, mode of transport has become undoubtedly easier to plan.
So, after landing in Rome I will be heading directly to Munich on an internal flight so naturally, I have selected carry on only luggage which cut the cost of flights considerably. A win for the Aussie dollar competing with the high flying Euro! On this trip I am cutting down on the amount of clothing considerably. Who cares if I am wearing the same clothes in my photos! The first week of my trip I am in hotels so will either need to spend time at a laundromat washing clothes or use the old bar of soap, water, and hanging dirty clothes over chairs and tables trick in an attempt to wash and dry my clothes.
I’ll be totally fine with this; I’ve done this throughout all of my travels.
After a week of hotels its apartments and washing machines all the way! Hoorah!!
Why am I doing this?
There are so many reasons as to why carry on only is such a good option while travelling. From financial benefits of being able to select cheaper flights to skipping queues at airport bag drop off to minimsing the risk of luggage being lost and knowing you have your belongings safe with you. It seems to me a no brainer, something I should have thought of many many flights ago.
What swayed me for this trip is that I will be spending a fair amount of time walking to and from train stations and some of these walks are quite significant. Also, I’ll mostly be travelling by train. Lugging heavy baggage on and off trains is a huge pain in the arse, too much of a struggle that I simply want to avoid.
So if you want to get on the less is better travel bandwagon by minimising your luggage and switching to carry on only, here’s some important factors to consider:
Choose the right bag!
It goes without saying that this is THE most important part of ensuring you have the right bag that will fit airline carry on requirements. Keeping in mind that all airlines have different dimension restrictions so it pays to look up what your carrier’s rules are.
Generally the standard size is: 56cm x 36cm x 23cm Weight 7kg
When choosing the right bag for carry on the whole purpose is to make your travel life simpler. Some other things to consider when choosing the right bag for you are:
Detailed packing list
The second most crucial part of nailing minimal packing is to have a detailed packing list. Having a list keeps you within your limits and on track with what you are packing. I started mine a while ago and have looked at it many times questioning the things I was intending on packing.
Pack at least a few days before you head off on your trip so that you are not throwing things in last minute.
Learn to be hard on yourself and say NO! If you can’t then enlist the help of a trusted friend to help you go through your items and get them to question why you’re packing things. If you can’t find an answer or its wishy washy then there is simply no reason to pack that item. Remove those ‘what ifs’, you don’t need them.
Put a limit on toiletries and bottle sizes. All the major pharmacies, supermarkets and travel specific retailers will sell the small empty travel bottles. USE THESE. There is absolutely NO need to pack a full bottle of saline for a 3-week trip. Nor is there a need for taking all of your moisturiser when you can put a small amount into one of these empty containers. Also buy travel sized toiletries.
While you’re at it, put a limit on the amount of electronics you’re taking. You’re on holidays, unhook from technology for a while!
Wear bulky items on the plane
If it is a matter or trying to get through airport check-in with the minimal amount of weight then do this and once you are through can be repacked into your bag. Also, as a space saver jackets or cardigans can double for a blanket as can a scarf be used as a pillow.
What else am I doing to minimise my packing for this trip?
I’ve ditched the shampoo and conditioner bottles, opting to use an all in one soap bar for my hair from Lush. Let me tell you how gorgeous this smells and how wonderful my hair feels. The one I selected ‘Godiva’ has enough oils in it to condition your hair so you only need the one bar for washing and treating your hair. Such an awesome product I am now using this every time I wash my hair.
Compression packing cubes. Packing cubes in general are a must when it comes to travel. I’ve used them for years and cant do without them now. Compression packing cubes help in that they give you a few more cms in space meaning you can add more to your luggage. Just be careful with your bag weight.
Rolling clothes instead of folding
Choosing clothes that I can get multiple wears out of and can mix and match means you get more out of what you’re packing. Be clever when you’re making your list and work out what goes with what.
Only packing 2 pairs of shoes. One pair I will be wearing on the plane, the other will be filled with socks and underwear.
As I will be staying in apartments and am able to wash my clothes I have purchased washing tablets to use. But instead of taking the whole packet of 20 tablets I have put 6 tablets (more than enough for 3 weeks of travel washing) into an old vitamin bottle so they are secure and do not take up much space.
Ditching tablet boxes and just taking the sleeve of medication. A small thing but those boxes can take up some space that you can fill with other goodies.
Wearing my heavier jacket on the plane to double as a blanket
Not taking my huge Canon 6D MII, instead I have invested in a Canon Mirrorless that is to be used specifically for travelling.
So there you have it. Challenge accepted! I WILL do this and continue to travel in this way from now on.
With under a week to go I have completed my packing list and have attempted a packing trial run. While I had missed a few small items in the trial run, I still had plenty of room left in my case, which means I can do a bit of shopping. YES!!!
Looking forward to simplifying my travels from here on.
If you need any more tips or are interested in how this went for me, feel free to drop a comment below.
If you found this post interesting and helpful check out my recent post about surviving a long haul flight by staying comfortable and entertained.
For Australian and New Zealand travellers, unless we holiday in our own countries, the Pacific Islands or South East Asia it is inevitable that at some point we will have to endure the long haul to the rest of the world.
I think the longest I’ve done is Melbourne – Bangkok – Oslo – Tromso = 23.5 hours flying, not including layovers. Add those to the mix then there is another 10 hours to account for, which is actually considerably good for layover times.
That is a hell of long time to be sitting on your bum, in economy no less because let’s face it, who can afford business or first? I’d struggle to afford premium economy, or rather I’d prefer to use what I’d pay on a premium economy seat to use on my trip. But hey, if you CAN afford the upgrade, good for you, I would imagine the comfort is well worth it.
So what have I done on past trips to ensure I am entertained and comfortable enough? Lots of things, below are some handy hints that could end up saving you a lot of pain, boredom and sleep deprivation:
Preparing for a long-haul flight
Get in early and choose your seat. The debate over window or aisle rages on however, whether you find a window seat best for sleeping or you prefer an aisle for easy bathroom access you’ll only have the option to get the seat you want if you check in ahead of time. Or select your seat when booking, if you can do that.
Also, not that this works ALL the time, but quite a few times I have managed to secure an entire row all to myself which means I can stretch out more which is easier for sleeping. How have I managed this? I book my seat up the back of the plane. Front of (or closer to the front) means quicker exit and it seems most people prefer to sit up the front. But for the sake of potentially securing a row to yourself then try up the back. You could get lucky!
Get your body ready. The day before your flight go to the gym, go for a walk, eat healthy, hydrate yourself and get a good night sleep. Also pack yourself a little amenities bag (more on this below) for freshening up both on the flight or on a layover. All these measures will help with both your in flight experience as well as combating jet lag.
So what do I do in cattle class to pass the time?
I don’t know about you, but this is the one thing that has failed me time and time again. I am quite in awe of those who can drift off for hours on long haul flights, but if you’re anything like me it’s 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. It is frustrating.
Contrary to what you’d think is the natural order of things when it comes to sleep, you should start your long-haul flight already well rested. That way if sleep evades you on the flight at least you’re only catching up on a few hours’ worth of sleep (as opposed to many days) in your holiday destination.
Some people rely on alcohol or sleeping aids to get themselves a few hours of shut eye. I find for me that red wine gets me sleepy, but still not enough for a few hours of sleep. Plus, too much of that is very dehydrating. I’ve not tried sleeping pills or other sedatives, however this upcoming trip I think I may give the old mother’s helper ‘Phenergan’ a go. I use it before sleep for allergy flare ups and I seem to drift off with no problems.
Will see how it goes!
Get up out of your seat and go for a walk around the cabin. Or head up to the back of the plane and do some squats or leg raises. Not only does this help pass the time but it gets the blood pumping which after hours of sitting on your backside is vital for your health.
I’ve often seen people up the back with their iPad watching a TV show, just so that they can stand up for a while.
While in your seat make sure that you keep pumping your legs, flexing, and stretching both your legs and arms. The risk of developing a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) increases on long haul flights so movement is important to keep the blood flowing. It is also wise to keep yourself hydrated (no, that does not include wine!!) and wearing compression stockings or socks.
Yeah yeah air plane food is nothing amazing, unless of course you’re sitting in first or business of course. But by the time that food trolley comes around you can wipe off about a half an hour of flight time with the whole eating and drinking business.
On a trip from Australia to Europe (via Asia or Middle East) there are at least two to three meals on each flight. For a 9 hour flight from Melbourne to Bangkok that’s at least 1 hour of your time taken up by eating and drinking.
How do I make the flight more comfortable?
Pre-book my seat.
Noise cancelling headphones (or ear plugs).
Small amenities kit including deodorant, toothbrush and paste, face mist or cream, lip balm, hand cream and saline nasal spray (trust me it’s a game changer).
Berocca, Hydralite, multi-vitamins and headache pills – to fight jet lag before it even begins.
Baby wipes. Essential to give yourself a quick body wash.
My own water bottle so I can fill whenever and keep myself hydrated.
Loose fitting clothes – dress comfortably and layer up because it can get cold on a plane.
Loose shoes you can kick off – don’t wear tight shoes if you know your feet are likely to swell.
Travel pillow/scarf. Personally, I use a scarf as it has more than one use but effective rolled up as a pillow.
Only have what I need for the flight under my seat so that I have more leg room. The rest can go in the overhead locker.
Book an overnight flight in order to reduce jet lag
And when the flight is over?
Normally I am super keep to get to my destination and start exploring. Or eating and drinking. However, after 24 hours flying there are a few things I do that ensure that I fight off the dreaded jet lag:
I try to book flights where I arrive in the morning, that way I am acclimatised to the time of the country that I am in.
Unpack. Just get it done, that way you have more time to get out and do fun stuff.
Go for a short walk to get the blood pumping. I mean you have been sitting on your bum for many hours, get those legs moving.
Familiarise myself with my surroundings.
Eat something fresh and healthy.
Loads of water.
Put on a hydrating mask (these are so worth it).
Have a long warm shower.
A glass of wine.
Get a decent night sleep.
In a few days I am off on a long haul flight to Munich via Bangkok and Rome so hopefully it is a comfortable and easy series of flights. I’d be super happy to get some sleep on the Bangkok to Rome leg so fingers crossed for that!
Hopefully some of this post is helpful to those of you whom are embarking on a long haul flight soon.
If you found this post helpful and interesting then check out my recent post on travelling with carry on size only for 3 weeks in Europe.
As a frequent traveller I am often asked why I choose solo travel over travelling with others. It is not that I don’t enjoy the company of others when travelling, it is just that my preferred form of travel happens to be by myself. In the last few years I have had family, friends, and even strangers try to understand my reasoning so it has compelled me to put this piece together.
If you are seriously considering solo travel, I hope that this post gives you the motivation you need to commit to it. If you’re wary, curious, sceptical or don’t think solo travel is for you then I hope that this gives you some insight into the wonders of solo travel and how it can impact your life in such a positive way.
Personally, I have found that there is nothing in life more challenging, yet so fulfilling and life changing than solo travel. By being pushed so far outside of my comfort zone, solo travel has given me the ability to trust my own instincts and has elevated my confidence in ways that I would never have imagined.
Simply put, solo travel is liberating.
It is freedom.
And it is sooooooooooo rewarding!
My solo travels have been periods of extreme growth as an individual. It is where I have learnt more about myself and the world around me than I ever would have done sitting at home waiting for someone to travel with me.
On that topic let me just get this off my chest straight away. DO NOT wait for other people to accompany you on a trip. Just go. Do it. Don’t fall into that trap of letting other people hold you back from your dreams. Once you are out there, you WILL meet people and oftentimes you will forge lasting friendships with people from all over the world. What a win!! For me, if there is somewhere I want to go and I can afford it, nothing holds me back from booking that holiday.
Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed travelling with family, friends and partners and for most parts have had some truly memorable experiences. Some of my happiest travel moments have been experiencing or witnessing something spectacular and sharing those moments with someone else. It is just that my most favourite form of travel is done solo. I do happen to quite appreciate my own company and the bonus is having the freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I want.
For me there is nothing more satisfying than booking a trip, researching locations, choosing accommodation, booking tours and embarking on a solo trip when it is all for my own enjoyment. All without having to take into consideration the needs and wants of others.
Selfish? I don’t think so, life is short. Why not embrace and do what makes me happy! My mother’s early departure from life taught me to grab life with both hands and just do everything I possibly can. For me complacency and not fulfilling my dreams is akin to a slow and painful death, so travel on my terms, when I want and how I want is definitely for me.
I get that solo travel is not for everyone and not being one to sugar coat things, I will say that travelling by yourself can be hard and it will test you. Solo travel really does push you well outside of your comfort zone, and I understand that may not be very appealing for some people.
There have been many times where I have doubted myself. I have worried about my personal safety and general well being. I have wondered about the intentions of strangers, hoping I have got their motives right. I have gotten myself so lost in cities and wondered around for hours. Accommodation and tour bookings have fallen through last minute and I have missed a flight AND a train or two. But never once in all my solo travels have I run into any major issues that couldn’t be fixed.
Solo travel can be a lonely affair at times so the one thing you need to be able to do is enjoy your own company. Eating and drinking alone in a foreign place has been an unexpected obstacle for me to overcome. In the past I have been so worried about being judged for sitting there on my own but now, I am so comfortable with solo dining that I even do it back home.
Another consideration is the loneliness of not having someone to share amazing experiences with. For example, I would have LOVED to have shared with someone the excitement of seeing the Northern Lights in Norway or that time I stumbled across Paul Kelly busking out the front of Shakespeare and Co in Paris. But having those moments on my own far outweigh not ever having had the experience at all.
Have I enticed you to give solo a travel a go yet?
If you are hesitant to go it alone rather than jumping in the deep end and doing a massive adventure that you could potentially hate (unless of course that floats your boat) my advice is to give yourself a solo travel taster to begin with. Start small and somewhere that is familiar enough to you. It could be that you holiday in your own city, state or country. Or like me, to a country that you had been to before. If that seems too much, start by taking yourself out for dinner on your own. The important thing is to learn how to travel by yourself. See if you will be ok on your own.
I started my solo adventures in Bali because to me, it was familiar. I had been there numerous times with others and for me it was important to put myself out there but gently, dipping my toes in the solo travel waters one inch at a time. Bali was easy. If shit hit the fan, I was only 6 hours from home. I knew where I was, I knew the Balinese culture, food, and people. I even had a group of locals that I call my ‘Bali family’ that I could rely upon IF needed (I never did by the way).
That one week in Bali changed my life for the better. I don’t think I had ever been so relaxed and happy, and I felt like I had really nailed travelling on my own. After Bali I was hooked so as soon as I got home I booked another solo trip to France. I followed that up with trips to Norway, Denmark and Uluru. This year I am off to Italy, Germany, Austria as well as the US and Canada (some solo, some with friends). I am so thankful for the experiences I have had and incredibly excited about what is ahead!
Some other valuable discoveries about solo travel that I think are incredibly important:
I am more capable than I ever gave myself credit for. Stepping outside my comfort zone has been a life changer!
To be totally transparent, when I embarked on my first solo trip, I was shit scared and so worried that I wasn’t capable of doing it. I thought that I needed someone with me to have fun with or to rely upon to navigate the holiday. In fact, I still have some of those doubts before every trip (mostly when I am on the plane and it is fortunately too late to back out).
Self-doubt and low confidence have been somewhat of an issue for me my entire life. Jumping into solo travel has really tested me, but with having no choice than to face my fears I have gained a new and profound sense of independence and understanding that I am more than capable of travelling on my own. All I have needed was to trust myself and listen to my gut instinct.
From my solo adventures I have had to talk to people I would normally shy away from. I have had to ask strangers for help, I have had to face eating and drinking on my own, going solo on tours and the list goes on but, by facing those fears I have not lost a thing. Only gained new friends and some fabulous new experiences.
People are inherently good
One of the greatest realisations that I have had while travelling solo is that most people are good and are not out to screw you over. In fact, in my experience, locals are often willing to help someone asking for directions or are full of useful information and recommendations. Generally, they are proud of their home and want to show it off to you by being helpful.
Fellow travellers are often in the same boat as you and can turn out to be the source of endless fun and unexpected adventures. I have been very fortunate in all of my solo travel experiences and have met some wonderful new friends all from asking for directions or getting over my own scardy cat bullshit and striking up conversation.
I have had dinners with a couple from Germany who have invited me to stay with them in their home, a night out in Tromso with a total misfit 70 year old woman from Brisbane, bonded over beers with a new friend from Hong Kong while sitting next to each other on a flight, an awesome new friend in Svolaer who happens to own a bar there (handy friend to have) AND I’ve even had a waiter attempt to pick me up in Strasbourg (ah huh, that happened much to my delight).
Yes, there are some jerks out there, but do as you would do in your own home. If someone looks dodgy, common sense would mean that you probably wouldn’t approach them to ask for directions. Same goes for when you are travelling.
Things can and will go wrong and that is ok.
Sometimes shit just happens and while it can be quite frustrating, when you are holidaying you can’t afford to waste precious time holding onto the what ifs and what nots. Just roll with it.
I mean, what is the point of stressing over things beyond your control while travelling? The only outcome is that the stress will lead to you having a miserable trip and who wants that? So yeah, you missed that flight? Go find an airport bar and drink a bottle of wine (like my friend Loz did in Oslo). Your accommodation is not what it looked like in the pictures? Move places or better still stay, you’re not on holidays to spend the bulk of your time in a hotel room.
It really does pay to lower your expectations of what your holiday should or could be as it inevitably will lead to less disappointment and a more enjoyable trip.
A new sense of freedom.
The first moment I realised how liberating and freeing solo travel was occurred after a 24-hour flight from Melbourne to Paris. After I landed, I navigated through the airport and train into central Paris, found my hotel and now my holiday was to begin. I had done it. I had made this trip happen, I saved the money, researched, created an itinerary, booked tours, hotels, Airbnb’s, train trips and now here I was, totally relaxed, very excited and utterly content on my own in a wine bar sipping on some of France’s finest.
This was what freedom was and is to me. Being able to decide for myself on doing something that makes me incredibly happy. And just simply doing it. This is how I continue to feel every time I travel solo.
Solo travel means being vulnerable, and it really is a beautiful thing.
Travelling solo is ALL about being vulnerable. Not all of us are ok with feeling vulnerable and to be transparent once again it took me a long time to embrace the idea that accepting my own vulnerability was going to be one of the best things for me. So good that it has been a part of transforming me into being the best version of myself.
The moment you start thinking about solo travel is the moment you step outside of your comfort zone. The moment you step outside of your comfort zone onto another city, state or country with hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people you do not know who speak a language you do not understand you are ultimately vulnerable.
Being vulnerable is by no means comfortable. But neither is masking our vulnerability and failing to put ourselves out there and take a chance. Everything I have done, things that I am proud of, every brilliant memory I have, my accomplishments, successes, and fabulous life experiences have come about because I allowed myself to be vulnerable and take a chance. I took a chance on solo travel, allowed myself to be vulnerable and I am so glad I did for my life is so rich because of it.
So next time you are wishing that you had the courage to get on a plane, train or in a car on your own to have an adventure I hope my words of encouragement help push you in the direction of saying a big YES to solo travel. Don’t wait for someone else to be ‘available’ to holiday with you, trust me you CAN do this. Those first few days may be a little rough, but I promise you that it will be the best thing that you ever did for yourself.
What are you waiting for? Treat yourself and book that solo trip! Go on, I dare you!
Firstly, happy new year to you all. It’s my first ever happy new year as a travel writer and man it makes my heart sing! Cheers to that!
I started this in July 2018 after some gentle persuasion from family and friends and let me just say, it’s been an absolute treat. Not only is this giving me an opportunity to write about my favourite thing to do, travel, I am actually writing. And taking photos. And learning. Being creative on some level has always been at the core of who I am and what I want to do with my life.
It’s been ace! And there is so much more to come.
I woke this morning on New Year’s Day with mixed emotion. One of my closest life allies and closest of friends was already up in the sky embarking on a new life adventure by moving from Melbourne to Seattle. I felt like I missed her already yet I was so bloody excited for her new path in life.
It got me to thinking about the past year, 2018. Personally, it was hideous on a lot of levels. No need to dwell on the past year, those who follow the blog know. But while it was literally the worst year of my life, I still managed to find it a humbling and life changing year in its own right. One in which I’ve learnt some extremely valuable life lessons and found a finer appreciation for life and living the best one imaginable. Lessons in which with gratitude and love I chose to embody going forward. I’ve dropped people pleasing and saying yes when I have wanted to say no for doing what I want on my terms, basically living my life more authentically and true to self.
And this means change. Professionally, personally and creatively. Some subtle, some huge and really significant and whilst it is scary I am so fucking excited! 2019 I absolutely and unapologetically choose me without any guilt.
And more travel of course.
And so the heart sings some more!
But back to last year. 2018 saw me focus on travel that was more localised. I ventured to Uluru, Northern Territory for the first time and it was monumental on all levels. So much so I really want to go back sooner rather than later. I think it was 2 weeks after my mum passed away that I fulfilled a promise to her and booked my flights and accommodation. At the time (and still now) my heart was completely shattered, I either felt a complete mess or just numb, so jumping on a plane seemed just about the best thing I could do to remove myself from all responsibilities of the last few years. Finding peace and connection in the middle of Australia is my account of one of the most insightful journeys I have had to date.
In July I headed off to New Zealand for the first time ever with a good friend of mine Hannah. While we didn’t stray too far from Queenstown, it was a beautiful holiday, one spent with a great friend, eating glorious foods, and adventuring around the area. Milford Sound was a huge highlight of this trip, the views are truly next level amazing and we got to see it all 3 ways, via bus, boat and unexpectedly via helicopter. You can read more about our Milford Sound adventure here. We had heard that food and wine in the area was sensational but nothing prepared us for exactly how amazing it was. Huge notable mention to fabulous Ferg burger, Ferg bakery, Rata, Bunker and the Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheese Shop. If food is your thing, get mouth wateringly jealous by reading this.
Ship faced at 20 knots; a booze filled family adventure on the high seesdetails a little family get together on honour of my late mum for her birthday at the end of September. This trip saw me join my brother, his wife and numerous members of Mum’s family for a cruise off the coast of Queensland. This P&O cruise on the Pacific Dawn was to celebrate what would have been mums 64th birthday and didn’t we do her proud. Well I hope so anyway. It was a bit of a booze cruise in the end, a few of us got sea sick (not I for I own a stomach of steel) but we all had a really great time being together. Especially that last day bar crawl. Ouch! Never knew there were so many bars on board cruise ships!
It was only this morning I started planning my first ever trip to the US in October/November. I am off to Europe again in April and have done stuff all organising for that trip but the US trip, feel like I’m all organised!
So at Easter this year I’ll be off to Europe again. Landing in Rome on Good Friday I am hightailing it out of Catholic Rome at the most religious time of year and heading to Munich. Swapping religion for beer halls and pork knuckle sounds just about right to me. I’ll be in Munich for 4 days before heading to Salzburg to sample a little taste of what Austria has to offer.
Where I have stalled in organising this trip is… I only have 3 weeks and was thinking of heading from Salzburg to Slovenia and doing a bit of lake bled, and a touch of Ljubljana. But the more I think about Italy, and pasta, and Prosecco, and pizza, and wine, and gelato and um just Italy, the more I am compelled to skip the Slovenia side trip and just launching head first (stomach first) into northern and central Italy. Honestly, tough life choices I know. But what a good dilemma to have.
I am currently taking submissions/help/advice for my 2 weeks in Italy, but I do know that I will be doing Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome. It’s the in between bits that I am unsure of. Do I do Cinque Terre? Pisa? Milan? Parma? Verona? I definitely want to do a bit of lounging around in Tuscany. With wine of course. If you have any insight for me, I am so interested in hearing your advice.
In October I’ll be heading to the US for the first time EVER! Didn’t think I’d be as excited as I am, it’s weird this disconnection I have had with the US until now. Maybe it’s the fascination I have with Europe? And Asia? Maybe like, New Zealand, I’ve stupidly felt it would be all too similar? But hey there’s nothing like one of your closest mates moving there to fuel some interest.
This morning I planned this trip all out. Land in LA, spend a few days with another close mate from Melbourne who happens to be on holidays at the same time. Then meet the friend living in the US in San Fran for a few days of exploring then heading back to her place in Seattle for a week and half. Being a teenager of the 90s and a huge lover of ‘Grunge’, Seattle has always been on my US list of must sees, but since knowing my friend was moving there, I’ve learnt more about the awesome food, coffee, booze, art and culture of Seattle so needless to say I am hell excited about going there.
While my friend is working, I plan on an overnighter in Portland Oregon, and on one of the weekends we will head into Canada to Vancouver. Ticking another country off my list. After Seattle, I’m solo tripping to Alaska! YAY! The more I learn about Alaska the more fucking excited I am. Glaciers, fjords, micro-breweries, off the beaten path stuff. It’s so me to a tea. BUT the biggest draw card and reason why I’m heading to Alaska, is the chance to see the northern lights again!!!
OMG I AM GOING TO SEE THE AURORA BOREALIS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Speaking of the Northern Lights, I promise that I will have blog posts of my trip to Norway in 2017 up on the blog VERY soon… watch this space).
I’ve also realised that I really have not seen a lot of my home state Victoria. I mean I did grow up in the country and am very familiar with Ballarat and Portland, as well as Geelong, Port Fairy, Warnambool, Hamilton, Buningyong, Echuca and Wangaratta. But it is hard to believe that at 41 I have not yet seen the Great Ocean Road. What an absolute crime, I am actually quite embarrassed to admit that one. I’d also love to do a trip to Lake Tyrell to take gorgeous pics of the salt lake as well as other areas such as Lake Eildon, the Grampians, Bright and the Victorian Alps.
Time for some weekend road trips with my trusty DSLR me thinks.
And speaking of more local trips. Midway through writing this post I got side tracked (happens a lot) but received confirmation from a dear friend who is able to dog sit for me in a few weeks so it is off the Gold Coast I go for Australia Day weekend. Flights booked and all! Yay, I finally get to see my bro Richie and his wife Jas in their new home after too many months apart. Also ticking off the list for this trip is seeing his new band ‘Awake in Time’. I am VERY excited for this!
Before I forget, watch this space as I’ll be announcing a small collaboration with two other travel bloggers Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt and Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse. A piece I wrote on overcoming my fear of travelling solo will be featured with some other solo travellers. Such an honour to be a part of this one as both bloggers have been such a huge influence for me with their combined 14 plus years of experience. These are the bloggers that inspire me to be better and to work harder at what I am doing so it is an honour to be included.
Also, I recently came runner up in a competition to meet my master run by the guys at Red Zed. I had to write 250 words on my business master and what I would gain from meeting them. I submitted the entry on a tram on the way home from work so really have no idea what I wrote but apparently it was enough to get runner up placing and $1000 AUD. All goes into the travel account so I am so grateful for that opportunity. If I had of won, I would have been meeting Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse but the runner up placing was awesome considering I didn’t think my entry would even be considered.
So now I have blabbed on and on about my travels, where are you off to this year?
Do you have some plans set in place or a trip you are thinking about? If you do, I would LOVE to hear all about it.
Queenstown. Queenstown. Queenstown! Are you not the prettiest, most delightful and exciting spots in my Southern Hemisphere neck of the woods. Kia Ora to you, my new destination love.
New Zealand had always been on my list of places to visit, but with it only being a 3-hour flight from Melbourne, I’d always pushed going there far down the travel destination bucket list. I mean I have had quite the ongoing love affair with Europe that has been ticking along quite nicely for the last 15 years and considering I still have so much more to explore in Europe, New Zealand would have to wait.
Anyway, New Zealand is just like Australia isn’t it? (If you’re a Kiwi and reading this, don’t shoot me, please do read on!).
It was after solid advice from friends and a fellow traveller on my trip to Norway in October 2017 that totally changed my perspective of New Zealand, especially the South Island. So, it soon became my new must-go-to destination. That, and New Zealand was a special place for me to visit, as it was on my darling Mum’s travel bucket list – for more on my Mum’s story and why this trip was important, you can read here
My travel partner for this trip was a good friend of mine, Hannah. Work takes Hannah to New Zealand’s North Island quite often however she was yet to explore the South. Hannah is quite like me, not into the crazy adventure sports that Queenstown is famous for, more of the seek some stuff, visit a few sights, eat, drink, people watch and chill, so she was a perfect partner in crime for this trip.
Like Norway, the South Island is majestically beautiful. You get your first glimpse of exactly how stunning the area is from the air and let me tell you the view is eye popping spectacular. From the air the landscape is an extreme contrast of the lush coast line and fjords, never-ending snow-capped peaks, barren brown mountains, turquoise rivers, deep blue lakes, stunning green farming land and the cutest of little towns spattered here and there. If this was what the Queenstown area looked like from the air, I couldn’t wait to touch down and start exploring on land.
Famous for good views, great food, excellent wine, adventure sports, abundant ski fields, and good old Kiwi hospitality, Queenstown was sure to be a sensory delight for us both. Each day brought us a new adventure, a new place to eat, people to meet, and new scenery to take in. Food was a major highlight for the both of us so before we left home we did plenty of research and asking friends of their favourite places to eat while in Queenstown, and every single one of them gave a hyped up notable mention to the Queenstown institution, Fergburger. As we managed to fit in quite a lot of eating, including two fine dining experiences, I’ve written a separate blog post just on the food and wine experience alone. So, if that’s your thing, click here and I promise you that you’ll be booking a flight to Queenstown before the end of reading the post.
Before leaving Australia, we also did our research into where we wanted to go and what tours we wanted to do, and with only one cancellation, we were able to get around and experience quite a lot in our week break. We managed to fit in trips to Arrowtown, Wanaka, Gibbston Valley, Coronet Peak Ski Field and the majestic Milford Sound which was all sort of amazing. We even took a helicopter ride back from Milford Sound which was a last minute-crazy adventure. To find out about the tours we did click here
Our trip was towards the end of July so the weather at that time is cold, but it is winter, so we expected it. And while it was cold they certainly turn on the warmth indoors. It didn’t snow in Queenstown while we were there, but there was plenty of the white stuff in the surrounding mountains to see. We were told that the snow really hits a bit later so if that’s your thing I’d suggest mid-August. We were also told that the autumn months are particularly beautiful, so March, April and May are your best bets for that. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be to go back to the area at that time of the year and sipping wine in the sunshine.
Queenstown is a hot mix of culture, where the Kiwis seem to be outnumbered by international workers and tourists all of whom seem really happy to be there. I don’t blame them really. Although they were few and far between, every Kiwi we did happen to meet was super friendly and quite endearing, even if there was a bit of Aussie bashing going on, ah there’s nothing like Aussie v Kiwi rivalry to keep you entertained.
The town is small enough to not need to hire a car, taxi or Uber. There is a shuttle bus to and from the airport which is $15 NZD each way or you can catch a taxi which can cost approximately $40NZD. This would be the only real time that you would ever need to catch a taxi in Queenstown though. We spent most of our time walking around the town getting to and from places, bars, restaurants and shops, nothing being more than a 10-minute walk from our hotel.
What did surprise me was the shopping. Slightly cheaper than Melbourne, but some real unique pieces of clothing, jewellery and natural beauty products. I shopped up a storm, yes, my credit card took a hiding, but when on holidays, enjoy right? I especially loved the Manuka honey hand creams (feel so good on the skin) and the merino wool everything.
The more I explored Queenstown and it’s surrounds the more it reminded me of different pockets of Europe. The west coast fiords are very similar to Norway’s famous fjords, flying over the southern alps reminded me of my flight from Oslo to a Tromso in Norway. The snow-capped mountains reminded me of Switzerland and on the ground, the buildings and the whole vibe of Queenstown reminded me of many European towns. Basically, Europe on my doorstep. But its New Zealand, and it IS different to Europe and is nothing like Australia thank goodness!
With Queenstown being only a 3-hour flight from Melbourne I can’t help but think that for too long I have had my head in the sand to have left it until now to make my first trip. There is so much to love about the place, so much that I contemplated the thought that I could be very happy living there. Yep! It really is that good! Queenstown has such a relaxed vibe about it, it is pretty, friendly, happy, engaging, charming and draws your heart into falling in love with it. But it is the views that really leave you spellbound. Everywhere you turn there is something so spectacular off into the distance it is hard to know where to turn next, and it is for this reason that I felt at such peace and so still, patient, happy and relaxed. I guess this is why I feel that a week wasn’t long enough. Queenstown is not only a delight to your taste buds as much as it is to your eyes! I honestly can’t wait to go back to the place that has kind of stole my little Aussie heart.
From Australia Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar all fly Queenstown direct. Often there are some decent specials at different times of the year. Peak season is the winter months for the ski season, so prices are generally higher then.
We stayed at the Novotel Queenstown, you can read my review here.
Welcome to the post about one of the most thrilling yet shit-my-dacks-scary travel moments of my life. One that I am still raving about now that I am home.
One wouldn’t normally associate fear with the beauty and tranquilness that is Milford Sound, yet here I am.
Milford Sound is a fiord in the Fiordland National Park area of the South Island of New Zealand. It is well known as being one of the most dramatic and scenic parts of New Zealand, where valleys and mountains are massive and the scale of it all is really beyond comprehension. Located 290 kms from Queenstown, Milford Sound can be accessed by car, bus, small plane or Helicopter. The trip is roughly 4 hours each way, but generally longer on the way to Milford Sound as the scenery just compels you to get out and take a good look.
For mine and Hannah’s trip to Milford Sound we used Jucy Cruises via booking on Bookme. The bus picks you up from out the front of the Station building on Camp St at roughly 7.15am and from there is a few hours of watching the sun rise (or sleeping) on the way to Te Anau where we were able to stop for a hot coffee and something to eat. Back on the bus, it is another few hours before arriving in Milford Sound, but those couple of hours are perhaps the most scenic and includes many stops for photos and to stretch your legs. For those of you with a keen interest in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, you are practically in middle earth here so soak it all in. This is where I got to step my feet out on snow for the first time in my life! Whoo!!
Our bus driver was a real hoot, dropping dad jokes left, right and centre. Some of it was a bit cringe worthy, but mostly hilarious. Regardless of the quality of his jokes Hannah and I quickly came to really respect his accommodating attitude towards keeping his guests happy. On the bus ride to Milford Sound he let us know that after our ferry ride on the sound, the bus ride back to Queenstown would take three hours, BUT there were other options. We could take a small plane that would get us back to Queenstown in 30 minutes, or if there were enough people interested (we needed 4) a helicopter ride that would take 40 minutes and we may be able to land on a glacier, weather permitting. For us, it was a no brainer! Stuff the expense of it, we’d be mad to pass up this once in a lifetime experience! So, with that seed firmly planted in our heads we left it up to the bus driver to get us on that chopper while we jumped on the ferry for the 90 minute cruise of the majestic Milford Sound.
Heading up to the top of the ferry, Hannah and I were able to take a good position up the front of the boat so that we could really take in the view. And what a view it is! The ferry takes you along the right hand side of the Sound, passing numerous waterfalls and out to the Tasman sea before turning back into the Sound on the other side, again passing the many waterfalls and numerous sun baking seals. Although you’re on a boat with at least 80 other people you can’t help but feel the quiet peace and tranquillity of the place. For some part of the ferry ride, I felt complete stillness as I sat in awe of just how mighty Milford Sound is.
Back on land Hannah and I sprinted back to the bus to see if we were able to get on the helicopter and upon seeing the massive grin on our bus drivers face we knew we’d made it! Then my heart began to race. What the fuck had I just committed to? It is hard to describe in words how I felt sitting on the back seat against the door of the helicopter as it took off, so I’ll just say it was a weird mixture of pure fear and absolute elation. Was I that nervous or that excited I could have vomited? I don’t know. Once we were in the air and cruising over Milford Sound I started to calm down a little and really started to enjoy the experience, every moment was just so surreal to me.
That was until the pilot attempted to land on one glacier area and a gust of wind came in so strong that the helicopter jolted out of the blue. Several times! At this point, you can only imagine how I was feeling! Yep, about ready to vomit. There is actually a video of this happening and all you can hear is my very nervous laughter. Now that I am home I can laugh about all of this thankfully. I guess the pilot sensed my fear as he turned to me and said “please just trust me, I’ve been doing this for a long time, BUT if you do see me open my door and jump then you’re in trouble”. Ah yep, totally trust you mate, I actually did though, he was a lovely man.
Attempt number two to land on the glacier was a complete success huzzah!! But, being totally inexperienced and unequipped for the moment when I stepped from the helicopter and onto the glacier, I managed to sink into the ice, shoes and socks wet. Yay me! Once I got myself sorted and the rest of the passengers got out of the helicopter it was time to have a walk on the glacier. Um, I think I managed about 4 steps before realising that it was much safer for me to stand still and hold onto the helicopter, the ice was incredibly slippery and my shoes were useless for moving about as I had no spikes to grip into the ice.
We stayed on the glacier for about ten glorious minutes, snapping photos and taking it all in. All the while the blistering cold wind freezing our fingers and toes to the point that I don’t think I had ever been that cold before in my life! But when you’ve just stepped off a helicopter and are standing on top of a glacier in New Zealand and the scenery is beyond this world spectacular, who cares about the cold right? After squeezing back onto the helicopter it was a peacefully glorious ride onto our final destination of Glenorchy (about 30 minute drive from Queenstown).
I’d like to give a big shout out to Heli Glenorchy. At no point in the helicopter ride did I feel unsafe, there may have been a bit of my own fear, but I felt nothing but utmost trust in the pilot. Giving us lots of interesting information of the area throughout the flight the pilot also made sure to check in with all of us to ensure that we were ok. Back on ground we were driven the 30 minutes from Glenorchy to Queenstown by another of their pilots. He was highly entertaining and endearing with his stories and interaction with us. Rather than dropping us off back at our hotel, he happily obliged us by dropping us off at the Fergbakery, such is the accommodating nature of Heli Glenorchy and Kiwi’s in general.
Standing on top of that glacier was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life, and certainly one that I will never forget. Once I’d overcome my fear the helicopter ride was absolutely exhilarating, one of those moments where you pinch yourself because none of it seems real. From the air, the views are nothing like what you see on land, it is such a different perspective. I remember getting off the helicopter in Glenorchy with a grin on my face so wide that I couldn’t help but laugh and laugh at what I’d just done. I was so happy to have had that experience that I wanted to get up in a helicopter again, and again. Yay, a new expensive love for me.
I would highly recommend that if you do the Milford Sound bus – cruise then consider either a small plane, or even better helicopter ride back. While it is expensive, it simply is money well spent. I’d definitely do it again.
We booked Jucy Cruises via the Bookme website for a much cheaper rate. Depending on your budget Bookme offers all different experiences for your Milford Sound trip.
Let me start of by saying one the one word that you will need to know for your trip to Queenstown is: ‘Fergburger’.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, please read on.
My most recent holiday, a week in Queenstown, New Zealand with a good friend of mine, Hannah was always going to be a sensory overload to the tastebuds. Such is the reputation of the area’s local produce, wine and beer we were expecting utter greatness, and boy did Queenstown deliver the goods to two food and wine loving gals from Melbourne.
So, let me start with Fergburger. There is so much hype that surrounds the place, that when researching things to do, see, eat in Queenstown the first words uttered from every single one of my friends in Melbourne were “you MUST try Fergburger”. Every-single-friend. With a reputation like that how could you not give it a go, and a go we certainly gave it. Because Fergburger was so amazingly mouth watering good I have written a review which you can read here
Most of our days started at the equally famous to Fergburger, the Fergbakery, where we’d fill up on strong coffees and breakfast as well as snacks for the day if we were out touring. In all honestly, the best croissants I’ve had outside of France, coffee was strong and so good (and being from Melbourne we know good coffee), their famous Boston cream donuts a sugary delight, and the pies! I thought Australia did pies well, but nothing comes close to how just how tasty New Zealand pies are. Skip the tomato sauce my friends, it is simply not needed. Fergbakery is certainly a winner, closing only for a few hours to re-bake and clean, it is a Queenstown institution and one that should be on your list.
Being lovers of good food and wine and being up for a good old splurge on our stomachs, Hannah and I booked dinner at two fine dining restaurants, Rata and Bunker. Bunker was a small and quiet little restaurant but the food was robust and delightful. Rata on the other hand, larger and slightly louder in atmosphere, had food that was out of this world orgasmic. I can’t ever remember a time where my eyes have rolled back into my head from the sheer delight of such good food before, it was simply that good! You can read the reviews of those two here (warning serious food envy to ensue).
Two other notable mentions:
The Pub – have $20 main meals that are both delicious and filling. I ate the pork belly and it was twice the size of what we get in Australia. Crisp crackle, not too salty and meat very tender
Eric’s Fish n Chips – located in a little caravan across from the Novotel. For a fresh light meal, this was a great option.
There was only one place that we’d not waste time and money on again and that’s Cow pizza restaurant. Unlike Australia, Italian migration must have skipped New Zealand in the 1950s because the pizza was one of the worst I’ve tasted and the price exorbitant. The base was just wrong, too much cheese (and for a cheese lover that’s saying a lot) and who the hell ruins pizza by putting fresh tomato on it? One word, soggy. Hannah and I felt we were cheated out of a good Queenstown meal considering everything else we ate was top notch.
And now to the alcohol. The wine, especially the pinot noir is outstanding, and I will definitely go back to explore more of the Central Otago wine region for the wine alone. I’m imagining a beautiful warm autumn day tripping from one winery to the next, sampling the best of the regions wines and eating all the good cheeses. Hmmm yum!! The bars and pubs are very welcoming too. The service is great, they’re warm and most importantly showcase local beers which I was more than happy to sample a fair bit of. We particularly liked and frequently visited World Bar and Ballarat Trading Co. A word of caution for anyone who looks young enough to be underage, take your passport out with you on nights of drinking. Hannah at age 29 was refused service, a driver’s licence is not accepted, and I couldn’t buy drinks for her.
One of my most favoured parts of the trip to Queenstown was heading out to the Gibbston Valley winery and cheese shop. After taking the shuttle bus at 10am from Camp Street in central Queenstown in 20 minutes we were eating the most generous and tasty cheese platter paired with a delightful glass of Pinot Noir, and for breakfast no less. As you do when you’re on holidays! Honestly you can’t beat $40 NZD for all of what we ate. After gorging ourselves with cheese it was off to the winery for sampling… wine of course! What I liked about the wine tasting was that you could choose from only whites, reds or sparkling, or mixed tastings. All in front of an open wood fire. How cosy right? We both tried the Pinot Noir tasting, pared with a much smaller cheese platter. We did contemplate going the one we had for breakfast but thought that would be too gluttonous. I also had to sample the sparkling wines. I mean, I’d be a fool not to.
You can check out the Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheese shop website here
What pleasantly surprised me about Queenstown and I guess this goes for the whole of New Zealand, is just how well they do food and wine. I mean I knew it was going to be good but, was the reputation really to be believed? Aside from one shitty meal, everything else was amazingly beautiful. Fresh produce, tasty and felt healthy even if it probably wasn’t. On account of the food and wine alone, I will definitely head back to Queenstown for more gourmet experiences.