Nine Things to Do in Berlin

1. Take a Fat Tyre bike tour. An awesome introduction to this great city.

2. Walk around the area near Checkpoint Charlie, reading the inscriptions where the wall used to stand.

3. Get lost and reflect in the maze created by the inspiring ‘Memorial for the Murder of the Jewish

4. Wander around the front of the Red Rathaus, Berlin’s town hall with Neptune’s fountain out the front.

5. Walk between East and West Berlin pushing crossing lights, just to see the two different characters that is the Stop/Go man, apparently called Ampelmännchen. I love East Berlin’s portlier gentleman with the top hat !

6. Walk through the majestic Brandenburg Tor, which is so much more easy to say in English as Brandenburg Gate. Brace the crowds at this popular meeting place. Imagine a baby being dangled from a balcony by a beloved king of pop.

7. Go on a hunt for remains of the wall, which turn up in all sorts of unusual places, even in a nightclub set outside in a sand pit where you will see John Cusack. Yes really.

8. Check out the remains of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedachtnis Church, in the Nikolai Quarters, bombed during the war.

9. Head out to Schloss Charlottenburg for a day trip to see the 17th century palace with gardens created by the same designer as Versailles.

Glacier Hike, Iceland

With only 2 full days in Iceland, and a half day with a quick stop at the Blue Lagoon we had to maximise our time in the Island’s capital Reykjavik and see some of the majestic sites. We decided on a full day ‘Golden Circle‘ tour, seeing the great Geysir area, Gullfoss waterfall and Þingvellir national park,  scene of the separating tectonic plates, along with a full day glacier hike.

Our glacier hike involved attaching ‘cramp ons’ to your shoes, grabbing some spikes/sticks/poles and walking up  the frozen glacial tongue that is the Sólheimajökull Glacier on Iceland’s South Coast.

We had a small group, approximately 8-10 people and a very informed guide (who we were trusting to rescue us should we fall in a crevasse. Or crevice). After some quick instructions we were on the ice, heading somewhere upwards towards the Mt Hekla Volcano. This was 2007, two years before it erupted. “Oh we expect it to erupt any day now, we’ve been waiting,” the locals told me nonchalantly. Consequently I spent the next few hours looking over my shoulder expecting to see lava flowing down the glacier tongue and sweeping us out to sea. Dramatic? Me?

Despite the lack of volcanic explosions we thoroughly enjoyed our glacier hike and no one was lost inside a giant crack in the ice, swirling down below, Ice Age style. If you only have a few days in Iceland, a glacier hike is definitely a recommendation!

Hunter Valley, NSW

Just an hour or so out of Sydney lies the Hunter Wine region, one of Australia’s premium grape growing areas that produce some of Australia’s best wine. Not that I am much of a wine drinker, sure I love a good Moscato, but I can’t really tell my Rieslings from my Chardonnays.

The limited wine knowledge may explain why I haven’t taken many trips to the Hunter, not even the mandatory weekend away with the new beau or the hire a bus for a hen’s weekend trip. It’s a great place to take tourists, and on my last visit I did see quite the busloads arriving.

The best way to see it is to organise some sort of mini bus tour, so someone else can drive you round allowing you to slosh wine in small glasses all you like, without having to worry about driving. There are plenty of accomodation options, from pubs, boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts and self contained units and cottages. There are also great foodie opportunities, from deluxe restaurants to local produce, perfect for the me types, more into eating that drinking.

Travel Essentials – Good Quality Leggings

The humble leggings are still on a ten year revival high. Once only designated for the gym, stretchy pants have become mainstream with a range of clothes for work, rest, travel and play. May I stress here that I am a PLATINUM level member of the group ‘Leggings ARE NOT pants’. No bum showing of leggings unless you are at the gym. Leggings go UNDER clothes, no one needs to see thin stretch fabric over a couple of cheeks. Especially travelling cheeks.

So you need some good quality thick ones, comfy waist banned, plain black or another neutral colour, maybe with some detail around the ankle, either full length or 3/4.

When travelling pair with a long jumper or tunic, an oversized t-shirt (remember – cheeks covered), A long coat and boots for winter destinations, a summer dress and flip flops. They are great to carry in your day pack for when the weather can get cooler quite quickly.

They are perfect for curling up on planes, trains, boats and tuk tuks, great for squatting toilets (no pants touching the floor here) and if you do get extra energetic whilst  travelling you can always wear them for hiking, jogging, exercising. Unless you subscribe to my school of thought  – holidays are not for aerobic activity, sightseeing and eating my only exercise! Except for that hideous of photo of me below halfway up a hike of Mt Kinabalu in Borneo. Definitely needed leggings. And had total no shame and just wore them with a singlet. Sweating and inclining for 9 hours does that to a girl.

Here are some of my favourite leggings and where and how I have worn them whilst travelling.

Naxos, Greek Islands

A travel documentary on television tonight made me reminisce of the fun times I had on Naxos in 2007. Not as infamous as your Santorini, Mykonos or Ios, Naxos is a big island that still has lots of attractions.

We docked our yacht right in town, literally you walked off the gang plank onto the seafront boulevard with shops and restaurants everywhere. For sunset we walked up to the Temple of Apollion ruins. A delicious local taverna served us dinner, then we wandered around the shops looking at lots of gemstones, jewellery and coral, munching on ice creams and baklava.

The next day took us on a whole day adventure riding quad bikes around the  island. We saw ruins, views, villages, local beaches where we stopped for a spot of swimming, dinner in the affectionately named ‘Mama’s kitchen’ – where Mama just serves up a dish for anyone in the village – no menu here! Not even any roads for cars; this village was so old, you just park at the top and walk down. More swimming at little fishing villages, then chasing the sun on the road back to town, for more Greek food and ice cream. What a lovely time!

To buy the featured image, click here

 

Eating Your Way around Seattle

I have been fortunate enough to visit Seattle, Washington twice in my life. Both times I ate so much I nearly rolled home to my hotel at night. The second time we cleverly booked a hotel with a courtesy shuttle. Perfect, eat too much and call for assistance.

Of course it is a foody heaven at the Pike Place Market, infamous for fish throwing, fresh produce and organic goodies. Love a bit of World Spice and Chukar Cherries.

Famous chef Tom Douglas has a plethora of restaurants to visit, Serious Pie for gourmet pizzas, Lola, Dahlia Lounge and Bakery for to-die-for Doughnuts, Palace Kitchen, Etta’s for famous seafood and the others.

One of my favourite places is Purple, for its wine tasters and great deserts, with a gorgeous wine bottle staircase. And French cuisine at RN74.

One of the best ways to get a taste of the city (pun intended) is to do a food tour with Savor Seattle. The Pike Place Market tour is great and last time I did the Booze’n’Bites tour; snacks and alcohol on a weekday afternoon – delightful!

Stay: Silver Cloud Hotels

Eat: Tacos Guaymas

See: Space Needle

Causeway Coast

Our road trip to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Island meandered along the spectacular Causeway coast. The weather was outstanding, we could see all the way out to the puffin home of Rathlin Island, sadly not seeing any puffins though. We stopped in at Ballycastle after driving up from Dublin for picnic supplies. I choose a punnet of strawberries – the tastiest I have ever eaten.

First stop was the Carrick-A-rede Rope Bridge, swaying off the coast above the North Atlantic Ocean. Then onto the Giant’s Causeway, the strange hexagonal rock formations, the result of some weird geological activity or some weird giant activity, I can never remember which.

 

Sorry that some of these photographs are a little blurry, I had to copy them (highly compressed too) from the internet after my camera was stolen on one of my Europe trips.

Luckily I had been uploading my thousands of photos so I still could access them and have my memories, the downside is the quality was reduced.