Travel Spotter

Seeing the sites, One spot at a time

Travel Essentials… The Shrug

Call it what you will, shrug, bolero, cropped cardigan. Casual cotton or knit, or fancy with lace and sequins, the humble shrug is the perfect clothing item to pack for travel.

Long sleeved or short sleeved, the shrug can change an outfit instantly, freshening up your look when you feel you have been in the same dang outfit for 3 days (Hello, Contiki 2005). Great for mixing it up day to night. A fancier shrug can dress up jeans and a tank top, a cream lacy shrug and some neutral flats and you can head out for the night not feeling like a dirty backpacker (or less of one).

They are also great for those destinations where you will probably live in singlets and sleeveless tops but may need something to warm you up on a cooler day or if the nightly temperature drops. A shrug keeps the shoulders and back warm but won’t overheat you. Great for air conditioned places too.

A pair of sisters I know packed 4 different shrugs each (well they do take up less room than the average cardigan or jacket!) for a 4 week Europe trip, then borrowed each others to mix and match with the rest of their tops and dresses. Literally created a tonne of outfit choices. Genius!

Shrugs

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Travel Quote of the Day… The Book

travel book

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Photo of the Day – Croatia

Flashback to my Croatian cruise – Split to Dubrovnik and back in August 2007. Glorious weather, with plenty of sunbaking, swimming and sailing, interspersed with wandering around gorgeous little towns and eating all sorts of Mediterranean / Greek / Adriatic inspired food.

096 Zlatni Rat - one of croatia's most famous beaches

Croatia has to be one of my favourite countries, I had very little knowledge of the country or the specific places I was going to visit before landing in Split on a balmy Tuesday night, around 35 degrees Celsius at 9pm. Sometimes its best when you know little, you then usually have a fantastic experience.

Especially one that starts with climbing 5 storeys to stay in some old lady’s attic with UK Michael and American ‘Reckless Maggie’ who then take you on a 2 km bar hopping adventure, wading in the ocean at 10pm and having drinks with random Croatian strangers…

But that night is a tale for another day!

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Spotted! Cattle on the move, Mexico

While turboing through the Mexican countryside of Puerto Vallarta on a Quad bike day tour, we stopped at a tiny farming village for a much needed coke and to rest our bottoms from the bumpy workout on the ‘off road’ track.

I spotted:

- some cute-as-all-hell kids playing on a dilapidated playground

- what appeared to be a coke bottle opener nailed to a tree

- a farmer just herding his cattle through the village like you do on a Monday afternoon in Mexico.

After our stop we headed down to a swollen river to do burnouts through the run off and a few splash-worthy creek crossings. Was an awesome day!

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Travel Essentials – Neck Pillow

Anyone who does long haul flights realises just how different the sleep portion of the flight can be with the right neck pillow. Or if you are like me the ‘eyes are closed and trying to sleep but cannot sleep’ portion of the flight. I normally take a blow up / inflatable neck pillow to save space in bags. Which of course, has its benefits. But I stare enviously at those with snuggly, squishy bean bag style pillows and curse for not ever buying one!

For my upcoming 35 day trip I AM going to try out one of these, despite the obvious ‘where do you put it between flights issue’. I chose a black and white striped one, like below. I’ll report back on the success! However if I ditch it mid trip we may be rethinking the idea ie:  not a success!

 "Neck Pillows - Flying Essentials" by beavercity on Polyvore

 

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Travel Quote of the Day…Learning

Travel-Quotes-Oliom-Travel-Clean

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Photo of the Day – Istanbul

This month’s edition of SHOP TILL YOU DROP featured 2 photo shoots set in Turkey, one in Istanbul and one in Bodrum. I love when fashion and travel combine!

 

4.Kath's mosque at Ortakoy, fishing village

When I visited Istanbul in 2007, my friend was living and teaching there (she still does actually!). This was her favourite mosque, in the fishing town of Ortaköy. A place you probably wouldn’t see as a regular tourist, with great views out over the Bosphorus and the bridge.

 

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Palm Beach

At the northern most point of Sydney lies Palm Beach. Famous for Home and Away, rich celebrity homes and wedding destinations, us mere mortals can enjoy a leisurely drive up the Northern Beaches peninsula and a wander around the beach, bay and headland. 

We often go for a drive up to Palm beach and simply walk along the beach, walk around the rocks and the ocean pool and if we’re feeling adventurous, climb up North Head to visit Barrenjoey lighthouse and lookout. 

Last time we found a delightful little path that links the beach and a road further back that meanders through some rainforest reserve. A great local find which didn’t look like much from the road. 

I remember on my last day of high school, half of the cohort of students caught buses to Palm Beach (a good hour journey) to have BBQs, drinks and sleepovers on the beach in sleeping bags (not sure who decided this was a great idea since it was September and it rained! ) A fun carefree night nonetheless.

And recently Palm Beach was the scene of a very romantic wedding proposal, at night under a supermoon – of course I said yes!

Getting There: Allow about 90 minutes from the Sydney CBD

Look Out for: Ocean Pool, Lighthouse headland walk, Large rocks by the beach, Summer Bay scenery

Eat At: The BoathouseDunes Restaurant

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Travel Quote of the Day… H&M

Travel Quotes Tumblr

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Travel Essentials – All Purpose Parka

Lightweight, stylish, waterproof, wind proof, scrunch proof… A travel jacket / parka / windcheater is the best when layered over other clothes and protecting you from the elements. A detachable hood is a bonus. I am still on the lookout for a great waterproof one, I usually take a puffy jacket then a waterproof thin poncho jacket to put over the top.

Alas, my four pound Primark ‘packed in a bag’ poncho was in my stolen backpack last year. Sad Face. I think I’ll buy a parka though for my next travel jacket to eliminate the need for 2 jackets.

Here are some options I like:

"Travel Parkas" by beavercity on Polyvore

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Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Capilano suspension bridge is a great little day trip, half day excursion from Vancouver. Somehow we managed to get a variety of buses from central Vancouver across to West Vancouver and up to Capilano Rd. The suspension bridge is one attraction, along with the thousand year old trees and the treehouses and paths that connect through the forest. It reminded me of an Ewok village!

An added bonus was on our return journey across the suspension bridge we saw a baby bear playing at the water’s edge below us. Our second bear in the wild sighting in a week! Of course when I returned to Canada 3 years later I was convinced we would see a bear, but no luck!

 

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Singapore’s Chinatown

Love a good Chinatown. And thanks to China’s expanding population, there’s a ‘Chinatown’ in nearly every major city you visit. Cheap yum cha, souvenirs, fabrics, dragons, lanterns, herbal teas. It almost makes you feel at home!

Singapore’s Chinatown is lovely, great streets with decorations, amazing restaurants with cheap meals, local beer and spirits and all your Chinese favourite dishes. It was the day after my Thailand – Singapore 2 week tour and the remaining team headed there for a night out. The boys drank a lot of alcohol and I dashed in and out of the restaurant for last minute souvenir shopping, which was super super cheap! Got a few more watches (who me buy 10 in one holiday?) and some more crazy things for my students.

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Travel Quote of the Days… Secret Destinations

travel-quotes-hd-wallpaper-17

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Cave Ins

I love visiting caves but have realised I love big open caves with awesome lighting, as opposed to small ‘crawl in’ style spelunking adventures. Claustrophobia? Lack of interest in belly crawling? Lazy traveller? Pea brain that likes pretty colours? Whatever…. big bright caves are for me.

Just recently went to the Ngilgi caves in Western Australia, super awesome but feel that it was the artificial coloured lighting made them look ‘super awesome’. The cave torch experience is something different, but you can’t beat blue lights on stalactites and stalagmites.

rb25 rb26

Other memorable cave moments :

Natural Bridge, Queensland, Australia

Wieliczka Salt Mines, Poland

Dau Go Cave, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Dark cave tour - Batu Caves Malaysia

Burial Caves, Sabah, Borneo

Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

 

Happy Spelunking!

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London Days

For someone who has visited London twice and lived there for 9 months, I have hardly any travel photos. It seems I have lots of photos of me and other people (including some random strangers) and many are from some crazy night out in the West End or (god forbid) the Shebu Walkie.

It wasn’t till after my 9 month living-working-in-London-travel-round-Europe phase that I really started to get into photography and take photos for a different purpose than simply catching me standing dorkily or derangedly in front of the famous monuments of the world.

So this is a selection of my very limited photo collection of (selfie-free) shots of England’s capital and one of my favourite cities in the world – London. It was hard not to like it when you live in Notting Hill around the corner from Portobello Markets and Sienna Miller (true story). The food scene in London is amazing, with heaps of cusines on offer, so many neighbourhoods to explore (eg: shops to seek!)

I have some great memories of my time in London, seeing as I was fortunate to live there at a time with 10 other friends. Oh the good old days.

Places I love in London: Notting Hill (obviously!), Brick Lane  (had my first real Indian food experience and have never looked back), Spitafields Markets, Greenwich, Kensington Palace, Oxford St for High Street shopping, West End and the many many theatres, Camden for the funky markets, Hyde Park for serious green time, Pall Mall and the Palace to say hi to Liz, Knightsbridge and Harrods, Portobello Rd Markets, The amazing museums on the river, National Gallery, Picadilly Circus for people watching, The many Thames bridges, Fulham and Putney for the pub on the river scene, Marble Arch, Bakeries in Liverpool St Station, Canada Waters, Northern African Food round Bayswater… just to name a few!

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