Tag Archives: solo travel

solo travel

Sunday and Monday

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I slept very well in my suite. The bedroom was very dark . LOVE that. I would happily stay here again , as long as I can stay on the top floor again. All the staff have been very nice. I have my own deck but it was a bit chilly and wet last night to use it. It is nice having an open window tonight. I couldn’t do that in the apartment in Queenstown as it was so close to the road ( and there was so much traffic) that it was not really on before 1 am.

Today, I went to the Dunedin public art gallery, they have a beautiful collection of art. Predominantly from countries in the Commonwealth. The New Zealand art was a standout and I may drop back in tomorrow on my way out just to see it again. I had a chat to the gift shop lady about where I should go. She suggested the Otago Settlers Museum down by the harbour, I am glad I took her advice , it was really quite spectacular. It was a wonderful collection and told an interesting story about the early years of New Zealand .

in 2008 they dug out at site to build a building and found a lot of wonderful treasures.

in 2008 they dug out a site to build a building and found a lot of wonderful treasures. this is thought to have come from th 1870s

in 2008 they dug out at site to build a building and found a lot of wonderful treasures.

in 2008 they dug out a site to build a building and found a lot of wonderful treasures. They believe this is from 1870s. it was beautiful. this was a bit of favourite.

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a well travelled hat box

a well travelled hat box

James Leslie lots his life in a world war. he didn't have the Leslie forehead though.

James Leslie lots his life in a world war. he didn’t have the Leslie forehead though.

New Zealand can claim the origin of the pavlova all they want.My Mum and sister's make the best ones though.

New Zealand can claim the origin of the pavlova all they want.My Mum and sister’s make the best ones though.

If you don’t want read a paragraph of me ranting please scroll on down to the picture of the cute dog.

Sadly, there were a few people wandering around that have no museum/art gallery etiquette , talking very loudly and whistling . There should be a one warning policy and then once they continue , taken away to a loud room , with the sound of their own voices turned up to full and if that doesn’t teach them anything , just be shot. It really shits me and makes me appreciate my upbringing .

Ralph the delta dog at work

Ralph the delta dog at work

I went off looking for the Otago museum , but got lost ,had a kebab and ended up at the Speight’s ale house beer tour instead. Whilst not as cultural it was an interesting 90 mins nonetheless . You can free pour beer in the last half hour. That’s always fun.

every week the Speight workers were paid in wages and 23 litres of beer. the single barrell up the top is one of 23 that they would get to take home every week.

every week the Speight workers were paid in wages and 23 litres of beer. the single barrell up the top is one of 23 that they would get to take home every week. ( I am now wondering if that was a fortnight)

James Speight

James Speight

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the weight of his pile of hops cause them to combust and start a fire in the early days.

the modern stainless steel tanks

Then it was off back to my nice suite at Scenic Hotel ! It is minutes walk from the ale house and the heart of the city. My niece and nephew have conflicting reviews of Gone girl so I wanted to see it to see why it gets so much talk. It was only 10 nzd.  They pronounce Readings Cinema as Reddings Cinema.

The popcorn selling boy ripped me off, I think I unwittingly , well I hope unwittingly. So swings and roundabouts on the cheap ticket. It was a lot longer than my attention span copes with but mostly I liked it. I was a little disappointed in the end, but it was so disappointing maybe that was the aim of the author. Getting a very quick glimpse at Ben’s schlong wasn’t disappointing though.

I went back to my room and packed and reminisced about the good points to travelling with no luggage albeit for 2 days.

I have really liked Dunedin, the tours and the food of Queenstown were great. I but I do like an art gallery.

Today is Monday

Today, I drove to Christchurch, it seemed to take forever. I stopped off at the Moeraki boulders, very are pretty amazing, I like to believe the Maori legend that they are the remains of calabashes, kumaras and eel baskets that washed ashore after the legendary canoe, the Araiteuru was wrecked at nearby Shag Point (Matakaea).

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I took the scenic route in fear of missing a jaw dropping view but it was cloudy so I think all the wow in the scenic route may have been hidden. It was uneventful and that is always good. Originally, I was going to spend one night in Dunedin and then one night in Timaru -OMG thank god I didn’t .

I got to Christchurch and Google maps directed me to my accommodation, The George, check in was easy and then it was off to find a bottle shop. Driving in Christchurch is not for the feint hearted but shopping at pak n save made it all worth it. The prices are great !

I had a delicious dinner at the less formal restaurant in the hotel. As the waitress was welcoming me and telling me the usual things an Asian descent businessman came and interrupted and wanted it to be all about him and his 8 friends, I let him ask one or two questions, but then I went a bit Broni on his a$$’he stopped momentarily and then continued being the rude person that he is so I reinforced  the Broni code  and the waitress giggled and thanked me as he walked off .

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beef fillet with slaw dressed with a blue cheese dressing

beef fillet with slaw dressed with a blue cheese dressing

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they give you a bear at the George. This is percy mid staking his territory.

they give you a bear at the George. This is percy mid staking his territory.

Ps. once again they do they weird thing of a quilt in the middle of sheets at The George as well. It seems there is no getting away from it.

😦 maybe I should have a conference / paid web blog on putting a doona cover on in 30 seconds or less.

Tuesday 11th November

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Percy and I had some dodgy ice last night ( not the illegal kind) so I was very relieved when my flight to Milford Sound was called off due to unfavourable weather conditions. I moped around most of the day feeling sorry for myself . Typing that reminded me of a quote from “how the grinch stole christmas”

“The nerve of those Whos. Inviting me down there – on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go my schedule wouldn’t allow it. 4:00, wallow in self pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me – I can’t cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing… I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear?”

Earlier in the day I had deleted two emails thinking they were spam, but it was actually a rep from Air New Zealand trying to let me know my luggage was getting closer to me.

Then there was a knock on my door at 6.25pm

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and with that joyous event I have my appetite back and my frown was turned upside down.

Thank you Air New Zealand.

NZ- the land of many bridges.

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I had the best night sleep I have had in a very long time in the Lake Tekapo cottage that I stayed in. It was very clean and well worth the money. I am the type of person that travels with alcohol wipes to wipe down things like door handles and remotes. I think me doing that here may have been redundant as it was so clean.

I set off for my drive to Queenstown

I took the turn off to Twizel, they promote themselves as the “town of trees” it was a very sleepy town. I nearly nodded off half way through buying a sausage roll. Instead I wrote a postcard to mum and posted it.

I drove past a couple of “home of Icebreaker” sheep farms. I wanted to stick my head out the window and thank the sheep for producing smell resistant wool ;). On the outskirts of Omarama there all these rock mounds and pretty flowers I should have pulled over and taken a photo but I was afraid of getting stuck behind the elderly man driving at 30 klm below the speed limit again. Speaking of speed limits there are signs along the major roads giving driving advice , like slow down or showing the turn coming up. Having not driven in NZ before I am not sure if they are driver specific ( as there are signs telling you the speed you are driving) or if everyone gets told to slow down. I approached every sign with the anticipation of it saying ” your driving is sweet as” but it never happened.

I stopped off at the Roaring Meg lookout, it was beautiful.

these trees looked more amazing in real life

these trees looked more amazing in real life

the water was a beautiful blue in real life

the water was a beautiful blue in real life

i should have sat here and enjoyed the serenity.

i should have sat here and enjoyed the serenity.

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At this point, I was going to turn back and drive to the Mt Difficulty cellar door but I just wanted to continue doing something that was going well. I did take the turn off to go to Arrowtown though, as people I like have raved about it. I went to Saffron restaurant for lunch. I was the only person in there which seemed odd , as it gets rave reviews. My crisoy pork and chargrilled squid salad was delicious,

The Saffron restaurant crispy pork and chargrilled squid delicious salad.

The Saffron restaurant crispy pork and chargrilled squid delicious salad.

a poster for a movie that is up there as my favourite "feel good " movie. ( even  though it comes with a tinge of :( ). If you haven't seen it . You really should.

a poster for a movie that is up there as my favourite “feel good ” movie. ( even though it comes with a tinge of 😦 ). If you haven’t seen it . You really should.

The lunch was just what I wanted/needed not too big but light and filling. I had a glass of Mt Difficulty sav blanc and had another regretful moment for not going there (the cellar door).

A wise man had told me to be careful on the roads in New Zealand as there were a lot of police cars on the road. I didn’t realise that he meant there were a LOT of police cars on the road. I reckon every tenth car was a police car. I did pass a customs car, it couldn’t have been off to deal with my luggage though as the only declared contents of my luggage are a 100 ml bottle of olive oil and a 100 ml bottle of balsamic vinegar. It also appears that my luggage still hasn’t crossed the ditch.

I got to Queenstown and checked in at my accomm , I had read a tripadvisor review where someone complained about the doona being put between two sheets and thought that must have been a one off but no. The doona is between two sheets . Hopefully that is less icky than I imagine it. The vista is awesome though and the staff have been lovely. I have a laptop charger from the lost and thank you box. Sadly all the phone chargers are from the last millenium so I should have taken up the offer of a free one from the owner of the last nights stay.

The drive to Queenstown was , thankfully , uneventful it was very scenic and very windy ( both pronunciations). The Yaris is pretty sh!t ( said with a NZ accent) at going up hills. I was very glad I had not opted to go up Mt Cook as I would still be chugging on up it hours later. 😉 .

I walked into town to shop but by the time I got there I was too hot to make any good decisions. Tomorrow, I have booked in for a flight to Milford Sound but by all reports the weather will not see that happening. So if I still don’t have my luggage I am going shopping and sending QBE the receipts.

My clothes are washed and I am ready to start tomorrow as a new day. Choice bro! 😉

a week and a bit later

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So I have been home for over a week and have been enjoying some time adjusting back to Australian time without having to be at work at the same time.

I have my bond back from the Madrid apartment with some compensation for having to buy more telephone credit. I did quite well out of that as the money went into  my account in AUD , so I didn’t lose on converting it. I left a balanced review for the apartment. I am also getting the 10 GBP British Airways took off me to select my seat only to end up being squeezed in to a tiny spot. I know some of you will think I am silly for chasing it up but why should a mega corporation have my 10GBP for something they did not provide to me.

pic stolen off the internet

pic stolen off the internet

I learnt my lesson the hard way about staying hydrated on a plane. My eyes are still weeping from being so dried out. Next time I will drink a lot more water, take a  face mister and some eye drops.

Travelling solo was not anywhere near as scary as I had thought. Don’t be scared to do it. Life is too short.

Travelling is great and I will be doing more next year. Maybe a smaller trip , I think I might go to New Zealand and do a bit of a road trip and also go on a overnight cruise up the Doubtful Sound. Travelling is great but we have lots to like in Australia, our food is damn good and I think we are good people. If you haven’t read Bill Bryson’s “down under” I strongly recommend you do. It explains what a great place we live in. I had laugh out loud moments that lasted longer than just a HAHA. ALthough I do wish our internet was as fast as it is in Europe.

I was on a tram and passed Bourke Street mall where their were people in red uniforms just hanging around waiting to answer any questions from tourists. What I would have given to see that sort of thing in Madrid. No wonder they didn’t win the Olympic bid.

I’d like to thank everyone who did things to help my trip like make generous donations of money and books. Also to all the people who lent me things like luggage,luggage locks, torches , an oyster card and city guides . You are all awesome. As are all the people who encouraged me to write my blog.

Next week it is back to work and no more double pay. Hope I wake up on time.

Hola España

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So it was time to leave London and head for Spain. I have found the people of London to be very friendly and welcoming. Yes, there is always the odd one out but on the most part I have been treated very nicely by British people, particularly men.

I got up early this morning and repacked, I was very excited about new adventures. Sarah kindly drove me to the station. The train station near her apartment is very well serviced by the London railway system. Which , while we are on the subject, is pretty damn good. Metro trains has a long way to go before they are anywhere near as good as the Parisian or London train system. On London trains there is a toilet on most carriages and a refreshments trolley. Drivers keep you up to date why things are delayed the seats are nice and in general the vibe is good.

The train to Gatwick is easy, the train to the northern terminal is easy, negotiating the terminal is easy. Except for the man in the WHSmith! he is dead keen on upselling. I had three UK stamps left so I bought three postcards and a pen. He said

Would you like to buy a bag with that – Me: no

Would you like a chocolate bar with that- Me :No

If you buy another postcard you will get one free- Me: No I only have three stamps so I only want three cards

I can sell you two stamps so that you can buy a card and get one free- Me: All i want is what I have put in front of you.

But if you buy one more card you get one free-Me: No. I just want what I have put in front of you and now I want a receipt.

A man behind me said “are you Australian?”and I said “why? ’cause i am arguing with the man trying to up sell me?”  Welsh guy: No ’cause your voice goes up and down like a wave.

Apparently, how English people so easily recognise us (Australians) is by our voice modulation. I never realised we had such a pronounced one. It is not the first time that has been said to me during my week in the U.K.  Maybe I over modulate?

Anyway the newsagent man got me in such a sweat I thought I was going to end up on “Border Security” as they search the very sweaty and wound up person’s bags, but no, once again, it was a breeze. I had allowed myself a lot of time to get through Gatwick and thank god I did as the luggage drop off was not a quick process.

I had breakfast at Jamies Italian at Gatwick. It must be where they send all the staff that aren’t quite up to scratch. Really bad service. I would swear, but I swore in the last post.

I had paid 10 GBP to chose my seat on my British Airways flight, the seat I chose was an exit seat and had lots of room but they changed planes at the last minute , so instead of having leg room I had my knees pressed into my chest for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Now I saved 155 GBP by buying my ticket when I did but that does not mean I won’t try and get my 10GBP back. They should just compensate onboard by giving you duty free goods or plying you with alcohol or upgrading you.  Had I not have paid for a specific seat they could have moved me anywhere and I would not have been so annoyed.

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what I could see when Percy wasn't blocking the view.

what I could see when Percy wasn’t blocking the view.

Barcelona airport was very warm, there was not a pay phone in sight and I had to ring the apartment manager. The UK sim didn’t call overseas numbers and I couldn’t get the sim out.  If I could have used a phone I would have got the bus into Barcelona but I needed someone with a phone so I got a taxi. The taxi guy so really nice , let me use his phone, explained things that we were passing,and wouldn’t accept me giving him money for using his phone.

My apartment is amazing! I have the top floor to myself and it has a 50 m2 terrace that has lighting and wifi. Do I have to leave?

Malcolm and Henry ( my cousins) are here as well for a few days so I caught up with them which was lovely.We went to a restaurant with some VERY relaxed service it still had a nice ambience to it. All the boss cared about was the football between the Celtics and Barcelona.

One night in Barcelona and I am already a football fan. How do they do that?

Tomorrow it is off to a market tour/cooking class in the morning. 😀

A few more things done in London

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Today was my last full day in London, I wanted to see some more sights and post some things back to Australia. When I bought souvenirs for my niece and nephew I didn’t take packing into consideration. So 1.3 kilo of stuff is on it’s way back to the land of Australia. Next holiday I will know better. There are a whole lot of things that I will know better next time, but that is what it is all about.

I headed off into the Victoria Square station and got a breakfast burrito. The young man making it must never have tried the hot sauce as he is way too liberal with it. I have a pretty high tolerance to hot,this was close to inedible. I ate it anyway though ;). Then off to the Post Office to send off my stuff. The young lady was very helpful thankfully. I was very close to Buckingham Palace so I thought I would go and have a tour and perhaps a sly gin with M’aam. I entered through an entrance and paid 8.50 GBP not realising it was the entrance to the stables .

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Her big car

Her big car

a gift from Australia to the Queen

a gift from Australia to the Queen

Not sure if 8.50 GBP is really a fair amount for what was on display but there you go. So that was done and dusted fairly quickly. ( 15 minutes including a pretty thorough security search). I went down to the next entrance  ( maybe I should have researched more 😉 ) and there as the Queen’s Gallery that had a display of tudor and stuart clothes.There was a bit of a queue and after the last “exhibition” my restless ways sent me off looking for a hop on hop off bus instead.

I should have got myself on a hop on hop off bus at the start of my week in London. I was on one with a guide that was commentating as you drove along. I learnt little things that I wouldn’t have known had there not been a guide. The other bus I got on just had a recorded guide not so much fun.  A couple of the little bits of trivia I learnt, there are dragon sculptures around London, if they are facing you , you are in the city of London and if they have their backs to you , you are in the city of Westminster. Black cabs are black as when Prince Albert died at the young age of 42 ,Queen Victoria was so consumed by grief that she ordered all the cabs to be painted black. Most of the railings around the city are black as well. If you buy a hop on hop off bus ticket you get lots of discounts around the city. I only want ones that have the real life guide though. The whole thing that they are too touristy is all a state of mind. I am a tourist so go forth and be touristy.

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one of the dragons

one of the dragons

Queen Anne was quite partial to gin

Queen Anne was quite partial to gin

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a squirrel in hyde park for Juzzy

a squirrel in hyde park for Juzzy

don't know what this was but it looked quite majestic.

don’t know what this was but it looked quite majestic.

Princess of Wales memorial fountain.

Princess of Wales memorial fountain.

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for Katha and Celia

for Katha and Celia

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We went to a lovely local pub for dinner that was really yum and went home and had a” couple” of sambuca shots

It was lovely hanging out with Sarah for the week, I am sure the cat she is cat sitting is going to miss shitting me. 😀

Thanks for having me Sarah.

Sunday – a day of rest

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I had high ambitions of getting up early and heading out to the Marché aux Puces but my feet pleaded for a rest. They were really quite swollen.

So , as most of Paris rests on a Sunday, so shall I !

I wish I had’ve visited the Catacombes and had a morning at the Marché aux Puce. There are so many little obscure museums that I want to do next time.

I leave Paris Tuesday morning to head off to a week in London, it will be great to understand what people are saying to me. I have really enjoyed Paris. Their Metro system makes everything so accessible. Hopefully one day they will realise smoking is très mauvais et laid trop.

I have been using a 28 degree credit card it has no foreign transactions fees or conversion fees. The only fee is the actually ATM fee for the ATM used. I have constantly topped it up with savings so it has a zero amount owing. The interest rate is pretty crap so having money owing is not an aim. Essentially what xe.com says it will convert to is what is debited from your card.

At one shop the EFTPOS terminal asked if I wanted it in AUD or EURO. I selected EURO and checked to see which was lower when it appeared on the statement. Choosing Euro on that occasion worked in my favour. This card is a travel essential for me.

Dropbox is a virtual cloud that means when I walk in my apartment the photos I have taken on my phone are on my laptop before I even sit down. I have been very impressed with dropbox.

I have been using handbags by pacsafe they make you feel like you have one up on the pickpockets. I have looked at the gypsies of Paris as a training ground for when I get to Barcelona  These bags are another travel essential for me.

I went out to post a couple of postcards and had some really yum pay by the weight pizza and a beer. (just as well it wasn’t pay by the calories) 😉

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a bientot