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School Holidays 2020.
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It reminded me of family beach holidays we used to take as a kid, going to the small beach town and staying in a bach for a week... walking down to the local store and after a few days you are part of the community, smiling and chatting with everyone you meet. It was a trip with my parents, two brothers and sister-in-law, so six of us with very different travel styles and interests, staying in a large villa. It was perfect being able to walk across the road to the beach, or down the road to the small bar with seats and chairs in the sand... watching the sunset and drinking cocktails. We hired a "people mover" and this was perfect to explore around the island at the 50km speed limit. My brothers also hired scooters, and they had heaps of fun circling the island and stopping where they wanted. The night market in Muri was fun, I would recommend going nice and early as they only prep small amounts of food so the stalls sell out fast. Some nice traditional dishes alongside pizza and crepe stalls. As a fun night out we also did the Party Bus - was lots of laughs and a great way to see the 'night life' of the island. Overall, lots of relaxing days by the pool/on the beach and getting into the holiday mode with people doing as much or as little as they wanted.
We started in Longreach, landing in a tiny airport and stepping out into the heat and the expansive landscape you were 'in it' right from that first step. Highlights: Qantas Founders Museum was not only a history lesson in the airline but also the region and how it has developed through the years. Sunset River boat ride and dinner outdoors while watching Smithy perform songs and comedy. Cobb and Co Stagecoach Ride, bumpy and authentic and great characters running the business and the 'Tent Show' performance watched while eating lunch out of a Billy Can. Stockmans Museum - the heritage of those who helped formed "the outback". Touching a Dinosaur Bone and learning that I could go on my own Dino Dig if I wanted to. Matilda Centre in Winton - brand new complex going into the history of the song and the history of the surrounding areas. Overall and amazingly diverse trip and can't wait to go back and spend more time there.
Canada had always been on my 'list' I wanted to experience a colourful autumn/fall season, a cold snowy winter and also the vastness of the nature there. My first 6 months here I worked in a boat-access lodge in Algonquin Provincial Park. Spotting Moose and beavers (no bears lucky!) and watched the green lushness of the trees turn multicoloured. I spend the winter in Toronto, walking to work in snow and celebrating when it was over 0 degrees as it was a 'warm' day. The city is used to these cold winters with so many indoor events and cosy bars. And the snow doesn't stop the street cars/trams running. Then on the warm spring days I could catch the little ferry over to Toronto Island and see the city from a different angle and sit on the beach. This next summer I spend on a Guest Horse Ranch in the Chilcotin Mountains of BC. About 3 hours north of Vancouver. Where I could ride a horse up a mountain and feel very small. My trip was complete with a camping for a week around Vancouver Island. With our own car we covered alot of distance around the island and stopped at campsite RIGHT on the beach, which allowed fire pits. So cosy evenings around the campfire and days spent on the road and travelling what felt like the unexplored.
After a few days of rest and relaxing in Kathmandu, enjoying the food and the monkey temple we caught the bus through to the start of the trek. We downsized our bags as much as possible as we were wanting to carry everything ourselves - making sure we kept in our warm jumpers and sleeping bags! It was an amazing experience hiking for about 20 days through little villages, staying at little 'tea houses' along the way - the Nepalese version of B'n'B's. You got to spend time with the family that lived in the house, one memorable moment was watching the owner hand milk his buffalo cow and then tasting it warm our of a mug - surprisingly sweet. You would catch glimpses of the mountains either side of you, waking up in some mountain villages with snow on the ground and the mountains that were stoney and bare the night before covered in a white blanket. We adventured off-road to Lake Tilicho - the highest lake in Nepal. A mentally and physically draining side trip. Another great memory was going to a movie cinema in a cave, cute and cosy with free popcorn showing avalanche movies... a few nightmares that night! Throng-la Pass 5416m was the highest point on the trek... with each step through the snow taking so much effort at that altitude, but so much pleasure and sense of achievement once I had made it up and over. I caught a flight out of the mountains, with the 24 seater plane flying between mountains with the peaks towering above. My last few days in this stunning country were spend relaxing at Lake Pokhara, catching up with people I have met on the hike and enjoying the luxury of food choices. I view Nepal as the 'softer' version of India, with the people being so friendly and welcoming, and you can enjoy both the city side of the country with the mountain landscape in a number of different combinations.
Too much to say in the small section they have allowed me!! I have been in and out of Europe a few times in the last 10 years, have travelled through it by bus, train, plane and by foot. Most recently I was in Germany (May 2017) to spend time with a friend who had just had a baby and attend another friends wedding - in the Frankfurt area. I am always asked which is my favourite country... they all have their perks, the question I prefer is 'If you weren't living in NZ, which country would you live in?' and my instant answer is Belgium. Belgium is a country that I absolutely adore, the mix of languages is amazing, and with a sprinkling of French and English I felt like a local. There is an amazing town square in Brussels, cobbled stones and surrounded by old buildings. Buy a coffee in the square and watch the world go by, or in the evening grab some frites (fries) and a waffle and sit on the ground and watch the light displays on the buildings and soak in the atmosphere. They have amazingly fun flea markets, also grab a copy of a 'comic map' and wander the town by foot seeing how many of the street art locations you can mark off you map.