School holiday has arrived and that meant traveling for me. Although just for a short 5 days, but I packed my bags and headed to the airport , excited to discover a new country, which is just 3 h away from Sydney.
Lucky with a window seat, I watched amazed the turquoise blue water of the sea and was ready for a few days of warm weather and beach.
The view looked quite good already from the plane.
As soon as I arrived I went to the shuttle and shortly I was headed to the capital of New Caledonia: Noumea, my home for the next 5 days.
I was between the last people on the bus to be dropped off, so the journey to Noumea lasted much longer than I expected, almost two hours.
By the time I reached the city I was starving, so my first stop was a restaurant.
Parfumsd’Olive has every week food from different countries and I was there for Croatia’s turn. I paired my delicious meal with a glass of Chardonnay and I was totally enjoying my holiday.
The weather was pleasant and the atmosphere nice, people very friendly and even open to speak English.
New Caledonia is a French island, therefore the official language is French, but assuming because they get lots of Australian and New Zealander tourists, thanks to the location, people are very open to speak English and it made things much easier for me.
My first night was relaxed, after dinner I went to my accommodation and had an early bed time because the following day I had a tour booked.
Little did I know that my next day will turn out to be completely different from what I planned.
I got up early, at 6:45 to be at the meeting point for 7:40, as agreed with the tour company. I waited and waited and at some point I decided to ask for help because there was no tour bus coming to pick me up. My Australian phone number didn’t work, so I went into a hotel and asked the receptionist to call the tour company and ask why aren’t they coming to pick me up. He was very kind and helped me and soon I found out that the pick up point was actually in another place, so I missed my tour. I thanked the receptionist for his kindness and started wandering around, at first quite upset. I went to Baie des Citrons and walked around, then decided to go for a coffee, connect to the wifi and research what can I do in the area.
The day was looking to be beautiful, warm and sunny.
I found out that I was near a very nice lookout , so I decided to walk there. Along the way I met a friendly French lady, who spoke a bit of English and we ended up walking together and taking pictures of each other with the beautiful views. I especially liked the beautiful blue colors of the sea.
OuenToro, the name of the hill, from where you can see the city, is an aprox 30 min walk from Baie des Citrons and it’s a popular location for people who wish to start the day with sport. I saw many people walking or biking or jogging.
After completing the walk we said our goodbyes with my new French friend and we parted ways. I decided that my next stop will be Place de Cocotiers but I wasn’t sure of which way I need to go so I asked directions from a lady who was on the side of the street with a few more people, they were Jehovas witnesses. The lady that I asked for directions kindly offered me to take me there by car .
So I got a ride all the way to Place de Cocotiers, where there was some sort of musical event happening.
I hang out around there for a while , walked around, discovered The Best Cafe, where I ate a delicious crepe filled with fruits and cream and soon after that I went back to my accommodation which was very near.
The following day I decided to take a daytrip. Amedee island, where I was supposed to go with the tour, didn’t seem to be working out, the boat was fully booked, so I went to Ilot Maitre instead. Ilot Maitre is a 20 min boat ride from Port Moselle and it’s a small island, where there are overwater bungalows and the color of water is absolutely stunning.
I spent a good few hours just sunbathing and enjoying the 27 degrees. When I went back to Port Moselle I met up with two of my new Latino friends, we had dinner at Le Bout du Monde and then we headed to another little island, called Ile aud Canards, which was just a 5 min taxi boat ride.
We went there to watch the sunset and it was spectacular. Probably the best place to watch the sunset while in Noumea.
On day 3 I met up with a lovely lady from Tahiti and her local friend and we went for breakfast to Ilot Maitre. So during this trip I ended up going twice to Ilot Maitre and to be honest I’d happily go again. It’s a nice place, breakfast was amazing and the color of the sea very beautiful.
Unfortunately my trip was too short to explore more of New Caledonia, but at least I had enough time in Noumea.
Other things that I enjoyed while in Noumea were:
Port Moselle market
Port Moselle sunset
Sunset at Anse Vata
On day 5 my flight was at 10 am back to Sydney, again I was lucky to have a window seat and could watch for the last time the beautiful colors of the sea and wave goodbye to New Caledonia. Would be great to go back sometime…
Already before going to Rio I knew that it’s an amazing city for outdoor lovers. Plenty of hiking opportunities and I was ready to do a few of them. Four days out of the two weeks I spent in the city I went hiking and I really enjoyed.
Pedra da Gavea
In my opinion the best hike that you can do around Rio. It’s also the hardest one, which involved proper rock climbing with ropes , which was a first for me. It’s definitely a challenging hike but at the same time very rewarding too. And the views!! The views are amazing both along the hike, but especially at the top.
The whole hike, including the rock climbing took aprox 4 hours, luckily along the way there were people who were willing to help me because sometimes it seemed impossible to complete the hike. All sweaty and with my body shaking, I felt so proud of myself that I reached the top.
Pedra do Telegrafo
A much easier hike than Pedra da Gavea, Telegrafo is as popular. The hike itself is not too long, maybe around 1 h, but the line for the photos is at least an other hour usually. Actually that was the hardest part to deal with because it was very hot and you’re basically in the burning sun waiting to take the perfect picture. There’s a professional photographer at the spot, who I luckily hired because my hiking partner took horrible pictures.
Translated as “Beautiful Rock”, this hike is one of the easiest ones that I did but still with very rewarding views. From the top you can see Pedra da Gavea and the beautiful coastline of Rio.
Out of the four hikes that I did, this was the easiest, less than one hour hike, but in the heat it wasn’t the most pleasant, however the views were worth it. We took an Uber and then a motortaxi took us through the favela, all the way to where the trail starts. From then it’s quite straight forward.
I listed the hikes in the order of preferance for me. There’s plenty more hikes around Rio, which I’d be happy to do if I ever go again. As much as I loved Pedra da Gavea hike, I’m not sure if I’d be willing to do it ever again. I was sore for the following 3 days… In any case hiking in Rio has been one of my favorite activities. Highly recommended.
I’ve been warned about São Paulo as being dangerous and especially intimidating city considering it’s size, however to me it didn’t seem so intimidating. Dangerous, yes, in some places I didn’t feel exactly safe, but quickly ubered myself out of such places. Actually there was only one sketchy place where I felt a bit out of place.
My friends and I went to the rooftop of Unique hotel, Skye bar for amazing cocktails and beautiful views of the city. Very enjoyable place that if I ever go again to Sao Paolo I’ll revisit.
We arrived just in time for the sunset, which was not necessarily impressive but the views were still quite spectacular.
After a bit of warm up at Skye bar, my friend Vanessa and me headed to a bar, can’t recall the name, where we ended up singing karaoke after a couple of cocktails. It was a fun night, we met a very nice local couple, they even ended up giving me a lift to my accommodation.
The day started with meeting up with Vanessa, who’s a professional photographer that came with her camera ready to capture some nice shots of me exploring her city. We went to Beco do Batman, which was just a few minutes walk from my accommodation in Vila Madalena. The murals we found were beautiful and the atmosphere very laid back. Vila Madalena neighborhood was the perfect base for me, being full of nice little restaurants and cafes, I checked out a few.
After Beco do Batman we went to the famous Avenida Paulista, walked around and had nice conversations along the way.
On Avenida Paulista it’s a must to go up to the Sesc Building for amazing views.
This is the part where I felt a little bit strange… I went to Mercado Municipal to try the famous mortadella sandwich, which was delicious, however the area is full of homeless people and it’s just not the place where you’d like to hang out. Straight from the Uber I walked into the market, where it’s completely fine, but outside it’s just a weird vibe. The market itself is quite impressive, the vendors give you many types of exotic fruits to try with the hope that you buy some of their produce. I ended up trying at least 6 fruits that all tasted delicious.
I enjoyed hanging out at the market, but the highlight was definitely the mortadella sandwich, which basically is a giant sandwich with at least 10 layers of ham. We were three people and we shared one and all of us was full after eating a portion.
After such a treat we headed to Ibirapuera Park, a big park where people go for their work out, to ride a bike, like we did, or just to chill on the grass.
On my last day in São Paulo I checked out the Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade. It’s a beautiful neighborhood where there are lots of cafes and restaurants. I ate a delicious crepe at Hachi Crepe&academy.
Although people say that São Paulo it’s like a jungle, to me it didn’t seem that chaotic at all. It’s busy and vibrant, so after four days I was ready to leave it and search for the sun and the beach, but it wasn’t overwhelming for me.
The first thing Brazilian people told me when I started my amazing journey around Brazil, was, I quote: “Under no circumstances go anywhere near a favela.” And what do I do on my second day in Rio? Hell, yeah, I’m totally going to a favela!
It’s no joke though, that place can be not just intimidating, but real dangerous and to be honest I was skeptical at first, it certainly wasn’t on my to do list, but everything changed when I met Sally, the super adventurous and fearless American lady, who together with her son are involved in a project helping people living in the favela. She told me so passionately about the project and gained my trust and interest when she mentioned Diogo, who grew up and lives in the favela. Diogo, was going to be our guide around the favela. I decided, yes, I’m gonna go and see how is it.
So yesterday at 5 pm we met, took an Uber and was headed to experience my very unique Brazilian favela visit. Worth to mention the fact that most Uber drivers refuse to drive to the favela because of the crime and danger they may encounter there. So we were driven basically until a certain point in the favela, where Diogo met us and we continued walking around. It was unreal to think that I’m there and can see how people live their life, which is a whole different reality from mine or yours. We walked around a bit, saw the houses built next to each other, saw some people , who were harmless and they minded their own business, greeting Diogo and us as well. I felt safe the whole time, but I’m not writing this to encourage visiting favelas. I think some organized tours might be a good option, but I wasn’t going to take any of those. To me it felt safe because I knew Diogo is part of that community, a respected member, who they know won’t bring people there unless it’s for a good cause.
And speaking of good causes, I’d like to spread the word about the project Diogo is involved with. He is a 33 years old luta livre instructor, which is a kind of self defense sport, that he and another instructor are teaching to the kids in Fogueteiro and some other favelas around Rio. It started small, just a few kids and now had grown to almost a hundred kids from the ghetto, aka favela. The illegal housing in the hills of Rio is the place of lots of illegalities and bad examples for the kids, so the aim of this project is to show kids a way of possibly breaking out from there, teaching them the meaning of community and discipline, basically giving them the hope of opportunity. I’ve seen those kids and their innocence, there love for life and joy was incredible. I received so many hugs and even some spoke a few words in English and were curious to know a bit about me. It was honestly very touching and so sad to realize that unfortunately some of them may turn out gang members,drug addicts or delicvents just because the place where they belong to turns them into that. On the other hand, I witnessed so much potential and desire to succeed. We watched them having one of these self defense classes and they were so determined to do well. Even the youngest one had lots of energy to compete maybe with a more experienced member.
Some parents joined us to watch the self defense course and they were super nice, although they spoke no English. From what I heard there are lots of hard working people that have been stuck in the favela and navigate through the tough life that they have been given, every day facing possible danger.
As we finished watching the self defense training and the heavy rain calmed down a bit, we continued our way around the favela, still got soaking wet within minutes, seeing a lot up Rio from a different angle.
At some point, at the site of the Main Street we saw a guy with a massive guy just casually hanging out. Not an everyday vista, but we were safe with Diogo. As we reached a reasonably safe place, we called an Uber and left the favela. I was so emotional and touched and in the same time humbled and grateful, it was a good reminder to don’t take things for granted and enjoy the little things just like the kids enjoyed the rain. They got wet and they didn’t care, they just laughed and run around. This memory of seeing powerful on another level but still combined with joy, happiness and so much potential, will stay with me for a long while. Having had the opportunity to see this side of Rio is really a unique chance that the regular traveler doesn’t get.
My eight days long adventure in The Netherlands started with landing at 8 am in the capital city of Amsterdam, greeted by a beyond gorgeous sunrise that I witnessed from my window seat on the plane. It was worth it waking up at 4:20 am in Zurich to catch this early flight.
From Schipol airport I took a train to Amsterdam Central Station, the journey took me around 30 minutes and costed around 10 euros.
The building of the station is quite impressive and my accommodation was a 10 minutes walk from it, right in the city center, so I headed towards it, passing beautiful canal views and observing how the city comes to life.
Once I dropped my luggage I was headed to Dom Square, where my free walking tour started. I definitely recommend booking in advance a free walking tour of the city, the guide was extremely knowledgeable and I found out a lot about the history of the city and discovered sights that maybe otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered.
The tour took around two hours and a half. I made a new friend on the tour and we decided to spend the rest of the day exploring together. He made quite a good city explorer buddy. We walked along the beautiful canals, took pictures and even hang out in the red light distract, which is quite dead during the day.
We discovered the impressive flower market and also some kinky places, such as a condomeria.
Amsterdam is the city of freedom, sexual diversity and acceptance. The city is very vibrant, full of bikers and very open minded and excellent English speaking, tall Dutch men and women.
With my new travel companion we walked around a lot on my first day, reaching also the museums quartier, where especially the famous Rijksmuseum stands out.
On this occasion we didn’t go into any of the museums, but on the other hand was stunned to discover that the I AmSterdam sign disappeared from the museum plaza. Nine years ago was still there, then apparently it has been removed due to some political dispute over it. I wanted to recreate my picture from nine years ago, but that couldn’t happen. Regardless, we had a nice time around there, many buildings are beautiful.
No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without mentioning the coffee shops, which here reffers to the shops that sell weed and other drugs that are legal in The Netherlands. There are plenty of them and basically any adult can try them either in form of a joint or brownie and probably in other forms as well, I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t interested in these stuff. What I do know though is that the best of them seems to be the Bulldog chain, that has a gift shop and museum too. I purchased myself some Bulldog thongs ( = flip flops ) as a memory from Amsterdam.
Apart from admiring the canals, passing by coffee shops and chilling in nice cafes, on another day I visited some museums too.
The most interesting I found to be the MocoMuseum, where apart from Bansky’s art work, there’s a very beautiful and interactive light installation too.
I checked out also the AllardPierson museum, where I learned about the Egyptian era.
In Amsterdam there’s a museum for every taste, from modern art to even the art and pleasure of sexual intercourses, hences there’s an erotic museum and also a museum of prostitution. I guess the name says it all, no need from my side to discuss what can you see in each of them.
Checking out some museums has been definitely fun and interesting, but probably even more interesting than that has been all the breakfast and brunch places that I got to eat from.
Eating places in Amsterdam are amazing and my favorite of all probably has been Mr Stacks, where you can eat the most delicious pancake stacks, which look like a tower of pancakes and are filled with fresh and delicious fruits and of course lots of chocolate. I licked all my ten fingers after eating there.
Another amazing breakfast place I’ve discovered it’s called Jacob’s Juice , where I tried the delicious avocado toast and drank a very healthy ginger,lemon,spinach,fennel juice. It’s located a short 10 min walk from Rinksmuseum. It’s small and cozy and everything on the menu sounded amazing, so the choice was quite hard.
A more central brekky place, by Dom Square, is Corner House, where the salmon bagel is absolutely delicious and the hot chocolate equally amazing.
Too many amazing eating places in Amsterdam for sure and the list of great restaurants is just about to start.
The best dinner I had in Amsterdam was certainly at Sea Palace restaurant, which is located just by central station, it’s a massive building right on the water, impossible to miss.
It’s a Chinese restaurant, where we were lucky to get a table without booking in advance. The food is amazing and deserts are wonderful too. If I ever visit again, I’ll make sure I’ll check it out again.
T’Stuiverte has good food in a stylish ambiance, you have the feeling that you are in art gallery. Amazing food, very delicious desert.
The Yeti – for finger licking Nepalese and Indian cuisine, go with confidence to this little restaurant, located in the red light district, it’s wonderful and service is very good too.
There have been a few other restaurants that I checked out, but I didn’t find them so amazing to mention them.
On the other hand, there’s a few bars with a view that I’d mention.
Luckily we got there right in time for the sunset.
A’dam lookout bar
This one is great for the views, especially after swinging above Amsterdam.
Apart from swinging above the city, I can proudly say that I also biked around Amsterdam, with a local, like a local and the only incident that happened was that I nearly took off the mirror of a truck that drove too close to me. It was a fun, but little stressful experience , however I don’t regret any second of it.
Although Amsterdam is a wonderful city, I also traveled a bit further and checked out some other places in The Netherlands.
Bergen Aan Zee
For a daytrip I ventured out to the see and to my amazement I witnessed a gorgeous sunset, walked four kilometers on the beach to catch a bus and ate a delicious onion soup and drank a refreshing smoothie while listening to the waves. It was a fun day!
Oh, and also saw very cute and friendly cats along the way.
Just around 30 min by train from Amsterdam, there’s the modern, also vibrant city of Rotterdam, where I spent threee days, out of which two were rainy and gloomy, but still enjoyable.
Rotterdam is beautiful, very different from Amsterdam. We took a canal tour that took us around the port and could see huge ships there.
Checked out also the Maritime Museum, where we could learn about ships, boats and the importance of Rotterdam port.
A trip to Rotterdam would g be complete without visiting the iconic cube houses, that look like they would be out of a fairytale. Apparently people also live in them and one of them can even be rented out on Airbnb.
Due to the rain we kept most of our exploring indoors, which was just fine when it came to eating .
Markthalle, the food court of Rotterdam was just a short tram ride from the accommodation and was the perfect place to start the day. A massive location full of all kind of specialities. My favorite of course was the waffle and the Brazilian juice.
At Markthalle apart from food, one can buy different spices, cheese and so on.
Also in Rotterdam I’ve discovered some good restaurants, one of them is Ayla, an afghani restaurant where the oysters and frog legs where absolutely delicious, but also the cocktails are remarkable.
Speaking of cocktails, there’s one bar in Rotterdam that I liked in particular, it’s called Spikizi, it’s cozy, little and the cocktails were very good.
I love views, hences I dragged my friend, Jay, who joined me for the Rotterdam part of my Netherlands trip, to Euromast and we ,also him, were impressed of the views. Rotterdam is truly magnificent at night. I let the pictures speak for themselves.
Another place that I dragged my friend , Jay was The Hague, which I heard about a lot, everybody saying how beautiful it is. Well, it’s quite nice, true, but on a rainy day it was just so and so.
We checked out the PeacePalace, but with the Covid restrictions in place, we were not allowed to visit the actual palace, just did an audio tour in a separate building and saw the palace from distance.
Although it was raining, we still went to the beach and saw even people bungee jumping there.
We wondered around the city a bit and eventually ended up at another drinks with a view place.
Skybar – beautiful views of The Hague at night and delicious mocktailes in a romantic ambiance.
Our day in The Hague could have been nicer if there was sun and no Covid restrictions, but I guess nowadays that’s the new normal…
After spending those few days in Rotterdam, by I said goodbye to Jay and continued my trip solo to another beautiful town.
Utrecht has been recommended to me by many Dutch people I met and I was excited to check it out. Everybody was saying that it’s the smaller version of Amsterdam, but maybe slightly more pretty. I must say I found it in a way even nicer and definitely more calm than Amsterdam. I was also very lucky with a sunny day in Utrecht. I walked around the canals, visited some parks and admired the beautiful autumn colors.
Also in Utrecht, of course I went to eat yummy food and ended up at this cozy, little cafe in the center and had my pancake fix.
Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the cafe, but in case I’ll ever visit Utrecht again I know where I need to go.
On the other hand with the restaurant I dined at I have more memory, it was called Springhaver and it’s right next to the cinema with the same name.
I had so many waffles, pancakes and desserts every day of my trip that now, as a conclusion I can say The Netherlands is awesome for anyone who has a sweet tooth.
But, it’s not only food and desserts that made me enjoy it so much, it’s also the diversity and the kindness of people.
In Utrecht I had a Turkish – German fellow travelled that joined me in exploring. We walked around the town the whole day, doing also a little shopping along the way, but mainly just checking out various landmarks, a beautiful church and a little bar too.
For my last day I returned to Amsterdam and with the same travel companion that I had in Utrecht we went to Upside down Amsterdam, a fun place, where you can’t be upset or side. This place for sure will cheer you up.
Determined to find waffle places back home, I left the country satisfied and happy with how I spent the last 8 days. Dutch people and their country impressed me and left me with great memories that I’ll carry around for long. I might even bike more often from now on…
A few years ago, when I was in Barcelona for the first time I really liked it and said I’ll come back again one day. That day has arrived and because a travel friend that I met in Thailand and then again in Australia, said to me that she’ll host me, I had no excuse not to go . Alisa, my friend welcomed me with the biggest hug ever at the train station and our adventure was about to begin.
I had a few things in my mind that I wanted to do and one of them was to get a haircut. Maybe it’s unusual when you go there just for three days, but I had a good feeling about the salon and I got a cheap and good haircut a la Barcelona.
After the haircut we went to check out Park Güell, the iconic photo spot and the whole park itself.
The good part was just about to begin. We went for dinner to a seafood restaurant recommended by a local, called Lluritu in the neighborhood called Gracia.
It’s hard to describe in words how delicious the food has been. We ordered a few things, such as tuna leaves, sardines, calamari and clams. We licked all our ten fingers after each of them. 100% the best seafood that I’ve eaten in a very long time.
Very quickly the first day was ending, but not before a night stroll to the iconic Sagrada Familia, which now is even bigger than the last time I visited.
And when we said we’d go home now, we end up eating a massive pancake for dessert at like 10 pm. No regrets about it tho! And the nonalcoholic cocktail called Chill out was as delicious and the pancake.
Friday went by quickly but we did a lot and we went to bed satisfied with the day and reminiscing about our memories from Sydney.
How awesome is to meet your travel friends in different locations on this planet!
Saturday we woke up later, almost 10 am, and took it easy. Although the weather was a bit tricky, a bit of sun then lots of clouds and later a bit of sun again, I insisted on going to the beach cause that was going to be my only opportunity this year to go sunbathing. So even though we were the only people sunbathing, bare in mind there was no sun at that point , we still had a beach day. Well, one hour at the beach to be precise. Anyway, it was good and yes, I had a beach day !
It was lunch time and after being so impressed of the food the previous night, I was looking forward to eat some delicacies again. This time we’ve chosen a Lebanese restaurant called L’Autentic . No one recommended us this place, we just went with our gut feelings and it was a good choice once again. The food was great, the service great too.
After filling in our stomachs our next stop was Westfield, the shopping mall. You can’t go to Barcelona and not get tempted to do some shopping, especially if you’re with a girlfriend. We laughed our heads off while buying new outfits.
The day was far away from being over, going up to Montjuic for the sunset being the next to do activity. Sadly there was no sun, therefore no visible sunset either, but ride up there in the cable car still offered stunning views over the city and the castle was quite pretty too.
After we checked out everything on Montjuic we were headed to Salts Terassa Bar, another of the recommendations, for dinner. The view is nice from this place and the patatas bravas really delicious. We even got spoiled with a rainbow.
It was around 8 pm when we decided to go to a new Irish pub that’s called the Old Irish Pub, ready to dance the night away. And that’s exactly what we did! After almost two years of not dancing in my case, COVIDs fault, it felt like normal life again that I could dance and behave normally in a pub. It was like the good old times, when quarantine, isolation and all the other Covid related things didn’t exist. It was heaps of fun and a night that I’ll not forget any soon !
Saturday night we got home after midnight, happy and pleased with how great the whole day was.
Sunday was going to be another awesome day because we were going to Montserrat, a beautiful spiritual place, where Helen, a friend I met in Sydney was going to meet us. I haven’t seen Helen for three years, so this was exciting.
We took the train and in aprox one hour we reached Montserrat.
It looked impressive even from the cable car station and was going to be even more impressive when we reached the top.
A short cable car ride and we reached the attraction. It was quite full of people, but we were not bothered. We went on a short hike to reach silence and just admire nature’s beauty.
A few hours easily passed in good company. We talked about our nice memories and decided on making new ones in the future.
Our fun group
After this beautiful adventure, we had to say goodbye to Helen and Alisa and me returned to Barcelona and went to a dance class and then go dinner to Santa Gula in Gracia, another amazing restaurant. I tried for the first time ever octopus and I’ll certainly eat again in the future cause it was delicious.
My amazing Barcelona trip ended that night with this finger licking dinner at Santa Gula, the next morning rushing early to the airport and returning to normal life in Zurich. Can’t wait to go again to Barcelona and try other good restaurants. Hasta luego, Barcelona!
I’ve been to Paris a couple of times and was living with the impression that it’s overrated and nothing too special. Then I went there un August for just a few hours. And guess what? Paris was beautiful, people friendly and the vibe just great!
I’m not sure if it was just me, super excited about finally traveling again, or Paris is really a cool city?! In any case the few hours that I spent there were amazing and serendipity did its job.
First I headed to the Jardín de Luxembourg to admire its beauty. I was walking around and just enjoying the sights. It was beautiful, even though the sky looked like it might rain any minute. It didn’t in the end. So I spent probably an hour or two just enjoying the beautiful garden and buildings.
Then I ended up hanging out the rest of the time with a fellow traveler, that approached me initially to take a photo of her but then we talked and talked about traveling and without realizing we were making plans of going to the Eiffel Tower together. And that’s what we did.
We hang out around the icon of France and talked about various topics as if we knew each other for ages.
Those few hours in Paris went by quickly but the fun memories will stay for good. And I also spotted a little reminder of my favorite places of all: Sydney. Such layovers I’m happy to have another time too.
I wish I could tell that my first trip after a year and a half break from traveling – thanks COVID – went all smoothly and was great, but that would be a lie. Of course, there were beautiful moments, nice days and there were lonely and eventless days, filled with anxiety and pannick attacks. I actually needed to cut short my holiday and adress my health and forget holidaying for a bit.
That being said, I’ll start with the positives.
I boarded my plane in Paris with lots of excitement and wanderlust, flew eleven hours in a nearly empty plane, where everybody had their own row and still was a lot of space. Landed in Saint Denis, the capital city of the island and the warm weather felt amazing. The beach was calling me, hence I booked an Airbnb close to Boucan Canot beach.
Boucan Canot is that part of the island where mainly the French expats live and it pretty much feels like south of France but just with a bit of island vibe to it, which is very attractive by the way.
As soon as I took a shower and settled a bit, I was headed straight to the beach. That place became my second home while around there, being the place for sunbathing and meditating.
Boucan Canot beach is calm, but the waves are huge, I just went in shortly and went for a swim to the rock pool instead. Those waves are truly intimidating for me, who I’m a weak swimmer.
Boucan Canot has a few nice eating places with beautiful views and absolutely delicious samosas and caris , local food that I loved.
Also, it’s a great spot for sunsets while enjoying a local drink.
As I don’t drive, I was relying on public transport, traveling around by the local buses. Surprisingly they were reliable and quite comfortable.
Just a few bus stops from Boucan Canot, there’s Trou d’Eau, which I always mispronounced as Troudeu, the Canadian prime ministers name. So wrong! Anyway, that place is perfect for stand up paddle boarding, I spotted numerous colorful fishes while paddling around. The water is crystal clear, the beach clean and quiet.
Just nearby is also L’Hermitage beach, perfect for snorkeling and another good spot to sunbath and with lots of good restaurants.
After a few days I changed locations and I was headed to Saint Pierre, which seemed chaotic and was slightly difficult to find my way around there, but that’s probably just because I’m not familiar with the island structures. However, I found my way to the port, which was quite a nice place to hang out at, especially in the morning. I chilled at the beach, ate a massive Americaine and strolled over to a Hindu temple.
Probably the highlight of my entire trip was a day trip to the southeastern part of the island, where I had the chance to step on the youngest beach of the world, which was formed in 2007 , when the volcano erupted and the lava reached the ocean, creating the gorgeous black sand beach called Plage du Tremblet.
Reunion is well known for its beautiful waterfalls and mountains, sadly I can’t comment about the mountains cause I didn’t have the chance to hike, but the two waterfalls I visited were truly stunning.
During this awesome daytrip I visited also the route of the lava, where also the hikes to Piton de la Fornaise start. One day maybe I’ll be able to also hike there, by then I keep as memory two little lava stones on my bedside table.
With the hope of one day revisiting, hopefully more prepared and less stressed out, for now I keep the memories and pictures of the beautiful sunrises and sunsets and not only. Definitely a place to return to.
Grenada was my first contact with the Carribean and although I had some ideas about it before, the culture shock has been inevitable. I knew I’ll love it before going there because in general the island lifestyle is cool everywhere, but here it’s in particular special.
I suppose I need more time in general to adjust than I thought. I was getting slightly annoyed about many things that function differently than in other countries. Such as when the taxi driver showed up whenever he could and everything was happening in slow motion a bit for my rhythm. With all these, there’s something special about this place and it’s people.
I got there just a day after Independence Day , but luckily I still managed to participate at some local news events.
My stay was initially supposed to be just one week, but sadly due to health issues I ended up being stuck for a month… Looking back at it I’m grateful for the experience because it put me face to face with myself and made me realise how ignorant I’ve been and taught me numerous life lessons.
What impressed me the most was how strong the community is over there. It felt like I’m visiting a little village, where everyone is connected and the mutual support is the main characteristic. I received so much love and support in the most unpleasant of circumstances that it was overwhelming and even suspicious at the time and I was unable to appreciate it right then, looking back at it I certainly do appreciate.
I didn’t do so much as I’d normally do, but there’s a few places I visited and liked, such as:
1. Esther’s bar and Grand Anse Beach
Grand Anse Beach has been named the best beach in the world for a good reason, it’s really beautiful. Along the beach there are several hotels and my favourite bar, where I spent a lot of time with a fellow traveler. For delicious, but strong cocktails I highly recommend.
2. Grand Etang National Park
Grand Etang National Park is great for hiking, meeting monkeys and admiring Grand Etang Lake. The lush green scenery is very calming and comforting.
3. Welcome Rock
In my opinion the best viewing point on the island. The hike is easy and the view is absolutely incredible.
4. Horse riding
At Bonanza Stables apart from the horses you get to see also a donkey, some cats and dogs and duck. It’s like a mini animal shelter, the cutest being the Rottweiler puppies.
5. Belmont Estate
To learn about chocolate making and taste the best ever chocolate, this place stays in my memories. It’s a shame to say that I’ve been living for years in Switzerland and never visited a chocolate factory, just to find out that even Switzerland is getting the coco from Grenada.
Oh, and apart from learning about the chocolate making process, which involves much more work than I imagined, you get the chance of meeting some cute animals too and if I recall correctly, Rainbow, the talking parrot.
6. Saint George’s
The capital city of St George’s is colourful and small, easy to get around just by walking. Fort George and The Carenage area are worth for a visit.
6. BBC beach
Much smaller than Grand Anse, BBC beach is way less crowded than other beaches, a good opportunity to hang out where mainly locals hang out.
7. La Sagesse beach
Another nice beach, especially great at sunset.
Every Grenadian I met recommended me to check out some waterfalls. They are really nice and the hikes there will get you muddy, so a splash in the water will be quite refreshing .
The sad recent events that marked many people’s lives and brought devastating consequences on the wildlife in many parts of Australia have been difficult to witness while feeling and being so close. However, I still had hopes that Kangaroo Island would stay untouched of the fires and it’s natural beauty and uniqueness would remain. Sadly, I received the call while waiting to board my plane in Sydney that the tour I had booked will not take place because the fires are taking over literally the whole island. The next days I followed the news in disbelief and completely helpless, seeing how day by day this beautiful place was being transformed into ashes.
As Kangaroo Island became a no option, my stay in Adelaide got an extra two days to explore, enjoy and discover.
A rather underrated city, that some locals refer to as big village, started to unfold day by day and by the end of my stay I became quite fascinated by how diverse it is and how many things you can get out of it.
Food to feed your body
My centrally located accomodation made it very convenient to just walk my way around the city and within a couple of hours have a proper feel about where everything is.
I’ve chosen to start the day with a visit to Central Market and I instantly knew that the following days will start also there. Why is that? Because it’s the best place to pick up fresh fruits and veggies, provided by local farmers and sold in a friendly environment, which by the way reminded me of St Lawrence market in Toronto, Canada.
While at Central Market, one can pick from many different cuisines , I’ve spotted South American street food stand and Hungarian bakery, just to name some.
A few steps from the market is Chinatown, it’s small but compact, bringing together all sorts of Asian restaurants and stores.
Edo Sushi is a remarkable Korean – Japanese restaurant that I liked and the kimchi I atethere, although burned my tongue, will stay in my memories for its delicious taste.
No doubts that Adelaide is perfect for food lovers or curious people that are interested to check out different varieties.
The iconic Adelaide favourite, The Original Pancake Kitchen didn’t disappoint, although unfortunately I couldn’t even try their signature pancakes cause the gigantic burger they served me with, that came together with a massive portion of chips left no space in my stomach even for a tempting pancake.
One of the days when I may have been a little too caught up with doing things and skipped a lunch, by dinner time I was really famishedand also interested to check out the O’Connell street dining scene, that I heard it’s a bit more high class than the rest of the city. Not in the search of too posh or so, but for a real different vibe, Giulia, the friendly Italian traveller that I met and myself, we headed directly to Marrakech not Africa, only O’Connell street. The design and the whole decoration of the restaurant takes you though to Morocco with authentic lamps, cushions and art pieces, accompanied by Arabic music , all this providing a special vibe. The head waiter that looked after us in a typical Bangladeshi ( his origin country ) friendly manner, pointed out that all the decoration objects has been bought from Morocco and the chef is a well respected, award winning personality in the industry. Also, although I’ve noticed that in many countries if there’s aMoroccan restaurant is likely to be called Marrakech – how inspiring – the Adelaide Marrakech is not part of a chain.
Needless to say, the food has been delicious and a looot, our waiter even spoiled us with a dessert, saying: “ because you’re visiting and to have a nice Adelaide memory”. Well, that has been a fun, stomach filling Moroccan trip – with a touch of Bangladeshi generosity, Italian gesticulating and hmm maybe Hungarian hunger?! – right in Adelaide.
Culture to feed your brain
Often times museums and art galleries take the backseat while I travel because the outdoors is more appealing, but I’m glad that sometimes the culture fix gets squeezed in. I mean one day was 40 degrees, the next dropped to 16 and with just a jumper and some leggings that could count as warm clothing?! – the setting was perfect to take it easy indoors.
That being said, off we went to check out the State Library of South Australia, where between all those ancient books I found also a map of the world, that was more figureoutable than many of the words from the 3 kilos book. Not to forget, window shopping for fashionable young lady outfit has been more than inspiring and that’s an understatement. All jokes aside though, I liked the Harry Potter style environment and the collection of the books on various topics in really impressive.
Right next door is the Museum of South Australia, that holds holds collections of national and international significance.
Our last stop was at the Art Gallery of South Australia, a truly impressive place filled with stunning art collections presented in an interactive manner.
Animals and oh, the amazing outdoors to feed your soul
What I loved most about Adelaide is that it has so much green space. Lots of parks and the river Torrens, all easy to acces. I spent without realising a few hours just chilling under a tree by the river with a book in hand and some quaking ducks around me. The scenery is beautiful, peaceful and simply just fills you up with energy. Great for a morning jog, afternoon biking and evening yoga, not all in one day I guess… However, it’s a city where it’s for sure pleasant to live for a while to properly experience all the perks.
A nature oasis in the heart of the city, the botanic garden is Adelaide’s show off big park that hosts a significant diversity of flora and apparently fauna as well, having met several duck families leisurely roaming around.
To my surprise no tourist that I met in Adelaide heard about Himeji Garden. It’s true that’s it’s tiny and maybe not necessarily a must visit, but it’s pretty and peaceful and it’s a loss not checking it out.
Morialta Conservation Reserve
Just a short drive north-east Adelaide, also accessible by public transport, is located this gem that I wish I had more time to explore. Greeted by a sleeping koala, the bushwalk started in a great spirit. The scenes are spectacular and after a couple days of rain some waterfalls will be spotted too, that wasn’t the case during my visit due to the drought.
Cleland Conservation Park and Mount Lofty summit
Within the national park is located also the wildlife park, where in a safe environment the animals are being taken care of and look happy. Attention: this is not a zoo! Yes, you can say they are in capture because there’s needed to have some boundaries in order to keep a control, but the animals are in their natural habitat which is the wild, they do have plenty of space and they do get the care and attention they need to be kept healthy. From dingo to echidna, Tasmanian devil and the iconic kangaroo, you come up close with the fascinating Australian wildlife and no matter how many times you meet these special creatures it’s always an epic experience.
From the wildlife entrance there are several trails that lead to Mount Lofty summit, I doubt that any of them would be difficult, although according to Aussie standards the one I’ve taken has been steep – hahaha , the whole hike I was searching for the steep part, reached the summit without finding it – .
In any case the view from the summit is spectacular and the local cider tastes just a wee bit better from the top.
What I know about Australia for sure is that sunsets will take your breath away, sometimes when you expect the least. The palette of colours that appear on the sky range from dramatic colours to soft, cotton candy style and and all in between, never knowing which one will show up. Adelaide’s beaches are very nice places to watch the sun going down, but occasionally the city center can be just as good.
Whether sunset or no sunset, taking a dip and chilling on Glenelg, Adelaide’s most popular beach is not a bad idea.
On the other hand, Henley beach, the less populated version of Glenelg might be a more suitable option if crowds are not your cup of tea.
It feels like I’ve discovered just a small piece of what Adelaide really is and still don’t understand why many Aussies that I met beforehand gave me a description of Adelaide, which sounded somewhere between the lines “ it’s boring” and “there’s nothing to do there, except wineries”. Wineries, on a next occasion…