Travel Momento… Prague Jewellery

When backpacking in Eastern Europe for 5 weeks, souvenir shopping was limited. Besides some practical goodies (a new towel to replace the one I had lost), some new summer dresses to wear in the 40 degree heat, the rest of my souvenirs were jewellery.

On the Charles Bridge in Prague we checked out the various stalls selling gifts and homemade wares. I love picking up pieces of jewellery that I haven’t seen anywhere else. This handmade set of earrings and necklace were perfect, in slate colours and olive green stones, with a hint of bronze. I think the set was about 40 euros (which was quite a bit on my backpacker budget at the time!)

The young fellow selling the jewellery was selling the items on behalf of his father who creates the pieces. A strong whiff of weed drifted down the bridge, despite being a Sunday full of tourists and policemen. We asked the young guy about the weed smell, which he proudly admitted was his and showed us his joint. Enough said.

Mt Victoria Lookout, Wellington New Zealand

Above Wellington city (New Zealand’s small but friendly capital) lies Mt Victoria. In such a hilly region it isn’t noticeable as a towering mountain or distinguishable landmark, mostly overrun with roads and houses.

You can easily drive to the top and see panoramic views from ‘Mt Vic’, its Māori name is Tangi Te Keo. We had a lovely sunny day with great views out to the Pacific Ocean and the Cook Strait.

There are a few interesting statues and monuments atop the  hill as well as several lookout vantage points. I had driven my two cousins and my Nana to the top after lunch on Wellington harbour.

It’s an easy place to visit right from the centre of Wellington or enroute to or from the airport. I can’t believe I had been to Wellington three times before and never known to drive to the top.

That’ s why Nanas know best!

Travel Essentials… Hats

travel essentials - hats


I’ve never been a really big fan of hats. Well I love hats but I don’t actually think I look that good in them. I usually don’t pack them for holidays, truth be told. But then I end up buying them all over the place and carrying them on all my trips, so now I have a collection that is always growing.

Transporting hats is always the biggest issue. Most travel experts advise wearing them on your transiting days so you don’t squash them in your luggage. Easier said than done. Hats aren’t much fun on a long haul flight (well except for a beanie maybe) so where do you end up putting it on the plane? Anywhere is bound to get squashed I’ve found.

Some hats I’ve managed to keep in relatively good shape by packing it with things in and around it in my luggage, such as the cowboy hat bought in Mexico, see photo below. I also brought home a sombrero in the luggage – clearly fitting in 2 big hats is some sort of packing feat.

For summer holidays with sunbaking, hiking in hot weather and walking around in the sunshine all day a hat is a must. If you are worried about wrecking a hat buy something cheap (either at home or abroad) that you won’t mind losing or wrecking, the white fedora hat below was only $5.00.

Spotted! Sleeping Giant Island in Ireland

On my seven day road trip around Ireland we drove around the Dingle peninsula. After stopping for lunch and a stop of shopping (scarves and deep fried mars bars) we cruised around the cliffs through the green rolling hills and misty fog. Our guide pointed out sleeping giant island, which is an island that looks like a giant laying down. So literally, sleeping giant island.

Also spotted:

Three rock shapes jutting out from the cliff, Ireland’s answer to the three sisters

A shark fin, swimming ominously around the bay.

Rolling mist, literally rolling down the hills and over the landscape

The home of Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries

Nine Things to Do In: Shanghai

1.  Eat awesome dumplings! I am not a huge dumpling fan, I find them a bit slimy in texture, but we had pan fried dumplings at Yang’s Dumplings, and they were awesome! Worth the wait and the queue.

2. Catch the Maglev, the magnetic levitating train from the airport to the city, which gets to speeds of over 400km an hour! We caught it from the city and back just for fun.

3. Take a night cruise on the Huangpu River to see the spectacular skylines all lit up. On one side is the modern Pudong district with its skyscrapers, the other is the bund with its colonial style buildings and hotels.

4. Go up the Jin Mao Tower. There are a few high rise viewing platforms to visit in Shanghai, but the views from the Jin Mao Tower are pretty cool on a clear day (pray for smog free – not for me unfortunately!)

5. Visit the Yu gardens, yes they are touristy but you can get some awesome souvenirs, eat more dumplings and other great food and have a traditional tea ceremony.

6. Walk The Bund, the waterfront boardwalk, offering awesome views day or night.

7. Go fancy in posh hotels, even if you can’t afford to stay the night, the lobbies, shops, toilets and cafes/bars of the ritzy hotels along The Bund are worth a visit. Bonus points if you swag your way onto a rooftop for views!

8. Visit the Shanghai Museum for free to see many amazing Chinese artefacts, artworks and furniture as well as admire the cool shape of the building

9. Shop, shop shop! Whether its for clothing, souvenirs, food or panda shaped bread rolls, you’ll find it in Shanghai!