Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Doubtful Sound

 Doubtful Sound / Fjordland, New Zealand. A few memories of my trip over the festive season. Definitely made to feel insignificant when viewing the vastness of this beautiful place. If you have a love of nature this place is for you. We even had a few dolphins come and join us on the cruise. Amazing!

View looking down on Doubtful Sound

On the sound.

One of the many waterfalls

One of the locals



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Southwest Airlines

In my last post about Southwest Airlines (Southwest Airlines Jury is Still Out) I was undecided whether I was leaning towards a hit or miss verdict of the Airline. My mind is now swaying towards the miss now thanks to the news that a Southwest flight to Denver forced to land shortly after take off due to fault and was damaged when a hole exploded through the cabin. Together with cracks found in five more Southwest planes which has resulted in a large 700 services being cancelled since last Friday (as reported by the Daily Mail Southwest Airlines in Daily Mail) Im a little unnerved.

So realistically this could have been any airline, however thanks to this little snippet of news I can proudly say the Jury is still well and truly out on this airline and it is going to take some convincing for this verdict to be a positive one!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Vancouver on my Mind

Stepping outside into the fresh crisp clean air I wondered why it took me so long to visit this beautiful city. My first time in Canada and it most definitely will not be my last! It felt like I was coming home - the fact that every second person I met was Australian definitely helped me feel at ease here. Unfortunately again this was only a fly by visit but we fit so much into our days that action packed would be an understatement. As soon as you arrive in Vancouver its easy to sense that the locals have a love of the outdoors...no matter what the climate!

The weather would have made Jack Frost smile with satisfaction - Sleet the first night, snow and sleet the following day. Did this negatively affect our love for this city....never, after all we were hardly expecting warm weather in Canada in February!

Vancouver City with Stanley Park in background

We decided to stay at the Comfort Inn Downtown Vancouver which we thoroughly enjoyed. The location could not have been better and the Irish Bar there certainly helped us recover from our activity packed days! The Irish Bar had live music each night we were there which added to the atmosphere and continental breakfast was thrown in to the hotel rate and the rate very affordable. The room was comfortable....and the most important thing for me....WARM!!

Totem Poles in Stanley Park

The first day we braved the cold (and sleet) and hired bikes to cycle around Stanley Park. What a stunning sizable park to have right in the city (1,000 acres). Even though the fog was in the views were beautiful and I can only imagine how nice it would be on a clear day (another reason to return to Vancouver!). The totem poles in the park were a great little addition and there was definitely something spiritual about them.

Detailed Close Up of Totem Pole
The afternoon was spent at the Capalano Suspension Bridge which was nice in its own way but once it started snowing heavily even a hot chocolate couldn't raise a smile from me (must be the Australian in me - I don't do the cold very well).

City View from Stanley Park

 Of course on the last day we had to visit the Look Out at the Harbour Centre (a building which dominates Vancouver's skyline). Great views and scenery saw our appreciation and love of the city grow - There is nothing like seeing snow capped mountains surrounding a city. Whistler being only a few hours drive away is definitely an added attraction to visitors and without a doubt I shall be gracing it with my presence on my return trip. Hopefully I might pull off some slick snowboarding moves too.......okay, highly unlikely I know! And talking of snowboarding, around 3pm on the first day in the city I spotted to guys walking down one of the main roads in downtown all decked out in their snow gear and snowboards - An amusing site to me but as the locals didn't bat an eyelid  this is obviously a regular occurrence. Turns out, after speaking to a few locals, that many people finish work early to catch a bus to the slopes for an afternoon/evening ski/snowboard. Jealous! The Vancity folk definitely have their priorities right - Work to Live, not Live to Work!

View of Vancouver Harbour and North Vancouver in distance (note the Sea Plane fuel staion)

Our last tourist attraction stop was Gastown - A little neighbourhood just east of downtown. To me it had a pioneer feel to it and the main attraction to see here was a steam powered clock. It would have been great to have known of this place a little earlier as I'm sure the nightlife and bars would have been great fun here but once again....all the more reason to return!

Steam Clock in Gastown

So, how would I rate Vancouver overall - 10 out of 10! I absolutely fell in love with this city and would encourage everyone to add this city to their bucket lists! This city  even has me thinking that a relocation could be on the cards in the near future............to be continued!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Southwest Airlines - The Jury is still out!

With hundreds of flights up my sleeve with various airlines (although I am an Airline Snob and usually fly with airlines I have at least heard of before), I did not have much knowledge of Southwest Airlines. This changed on my trip to the US though as I took my chances and flew from Oakland to Seattle return. And to be quite honest I have mixed reviews or maybe possess a little confusion at the whole idea. Sure, they were a no frills airline and very reasonably priced airfares, but to have such contrasting experiences. This might help explain myself a little better.....

Oakland to Seattle
Besides being a little put off by having to line up and be herded like cattle before even leaving the terminal building, the ground staff were friendly enough. However, being greeted when boarding the plane was a much different story altogether. Happiness was radiating from the crew and I received such a warm welcome - As though my dreams of celebrity had finally come true (even I can strive for such reasonable and reachable life goals....). I felt valued as a Customer, which lets face it, in these days is very few and far between. What surprised me was not only was the flight continuing on from one city, it seemed that it had been weaving its way throughout North America all day and  passengers who were on the plane when we embarked were flying from Las Vegas (I could not contain my jealousy on this detail until I saw the post Las Vegas special of "I spent the last few days non-stop partying so why did I pay for a hotel room" look which was all too apparent on the faces of those disembarking the flight).

At this point still undecided on my thoughts of Southwest, any concerns I possessed were soon put to rest by the Safety Procedure display by the cabin crew. Hard enough as it is to get seasoned travellers to pay attention to this announcement at the best of times, this crew definitely found a unique way of engaging the attention of most, if not all passengers. It was absolutely hilarious - Yep, you heard me right - The whole cabin full of laughter. The use of comedy, together with the props (we had a fake chain smoking Elvis delivering the 'no smoking on board' reel) were so effective that even 'those seasoned travellers' mentioned above were enticed into looking up from their newspaper or books so as not to miss out on any fun (or maybe they were more concerned that by not paying attention would only give the crew ammunition to be singled out.....either way it was effective).  Better yet, this continued throughout the entire flight but two of my favourite lines....."Welcome to Hawaii" (we were landing at this point into a wet and windy Seattle) and the other..."We hope you enjoyed this flight and if you did, please look out the window and smile and wave at the customers travelling on our competition as we taxi in to show that you made the right choice".

Seattle to Oakland
What a contrast to the last enjoyable Southwest Airlines flight. The crew were polite, I'll give them that but would it have been so hard to raise a smile? The crew on my flight to Seattle actually seemed to enjoy their job and if not enjoy then they were making the most of a bad situation. This flight on the other hand, I would give the experience two thumbs down it it weren't for the fact they delivered me safely to Oakland!

So as you can see I'm a little conflicted on Southwest Airlines. Either I was lucky enough to get a great experience on the first flight or just unlucky enough to get a crew who were not taught to smile on their job training course.

The jury is still out on this one folks. Maybe a few of you could enlighten me as to your experience with this airline.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

San Francisco Delight

Oh how time flies when having fun.....cause it definitely ain't fun times when flying! Well that is how I'm feeling after six flights in one week. I am quite happy to keep my feet firmly planted on Terra Firma for a month or two right now! And yes, I do have the sniffles thanks to the recirculated air. But was it worth the doom and gloom - Without a doubt! So, lets begin with a little teaser of the tri-city travels.

San Francisco - I heart you! As amazing as I remember it being in 1996 (I know, its a long time since my last visit but its so hard to fly over the east coast, e.g. New York, to get to the west coast). Such a cosmopolitan city with great vibes and one of a kind views. It even brought out the daring side of me...first night there and I sample sashimi which if you know me at all is one big step for anyone and one GIANT leap for Shelby!
Golden Gate from Crissy Field
But alas, my trip only got better when I woke up around the corner from the Marina, coffee run to the local and then I got to sit back and enjoy the view of Alcatraz to the right and the Golden Gate Bridge to the left - Admittedly I was in heaven with the potential people watching on offer at the Marina! Add in to the equation a bite to eat at Noah's Bagel (all this people watching makes one hungry don't you know), a little sightseeing and a leisurely stroll along Crissy Field and you have one happy Shelby on your hands. Okay, so unfortunately the one night here didn't allow for a spot of shopping which otherwise would have made my stay here perfect, don't be fretting too much on my behalf as I made up for the lack thereof at a later stage of my travels (and having shopped here before let me tell you that the Macy's is great for that little brown bag experience)!

Alcatraz or 'The Rock'
So let me break it down for you...San Francisco is an amazing city with so much going on and cosmopolitan to the hilt. Is fabulous when the sun is shining and an experience when the fog rolls in. One night here will never be enough. Noah's Bagels are quite frankly emotional! The sashimi tasting I could definitely do without in the future but the sushi in this town is unbeatable. The must dos here would be Alcatraz (the penitentiary on a rock in the middle of the Bay), Fisherman's Wharf (clam chowder in sourdough is to die for and the seal watching makes for great free entertainment), Golden Gate Bridge (when in Rome.....photo opportunities are a must), the Cable Cars (an experience...just don't hang too far out of the car), the Painted Ladies (the pastel coloured houses...think Full House) and the Crookedest Street in the World (those who suffer from dizzy spells are best advised to steer clear)!
San Francisco from Legion of Honour Museum, Lincoln Park
Was a sad day to bid farewell to one of my favourite cities but at least I know it wont be for long and god forbid those who try to delay my return!

(with a flower in her hair)

Monday, February 14, 2011

California Dreaming

Next little adventure is fast approaching....this time San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver. Not half as long a holiday as I would like but I suppose life cannot be an everlasting holiday!

It has been years since I have been to San Francisco....but I will be sure to wear flowers in my hair! And it has been just as long since I graced Seattle with my presence. So its going to be a holiday of great rediscovery. And as for Vancouver, this is the first time they will have the pleasure of my tourist traits.

Everyone seems to have fabulous things to say about Vancouver so I must admit my expectations are pretty high - Don't worry though, its not like I am expecting to be blown away, but one has to have some standards right? Beautiful cityscapes and stunning scenery is what I have been told to expect but then again, it will be very hard to impress me after the wonders of New Zealand. So I guess you will all have to wait for me to share my views on my return.....with bated breath I should expect!

If anyone has any tips to share on the tricity tryst I am about to embark on please do share!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

European Weekends with Ryanair

Another Ryanair sale....another few weekends gallavanting around Europe! €9.99 one way - Get in!!!

Now, where to go first....Greece, Sweden, Paris, UK - The list is endless. Think Im going to opt for Netherlands first - This ones for you Gregga!

For all those that whinge about the airline they are still going strong so as they say - Up, up and away!


Home Sweet Home - Perth Style

Perth by night
You say Australia.....I say Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!

 G'day from WA (said with a cheesy smile and two thumbs up no less)! So, after being so nice to my home country's "rival" NZ, I think it is time to gloat with glee at how beautiful my home is. 

Perth is a beautiful city, commonly likened to a 'big country beach town', which I agree whole heartily with (am I bias? Of course). The beaches....picture white sands, aqua water and in use year round - After all, us West Aussies don't get the nickname Sandgropers for nothing you know! Cottesloe Beach (approximately a 15-20 drive from the city centre, traffic permitting) is a must for any beach lover. Enjoy a day at the beach, walk across the road to The Cottesloe Hotel (a favourite for Sunday Sessions) and enjoy a beer whilst watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean. If you think that sounds like a great day out, be assured it sure is. Another beach of favour is Scarborough Beach, which is about a 20-30 minute drive from the city. 

Denham Sunset, WA
So does Perth have anything other than beaches to offer tourists......without a doubt! Not only does Perth offer beaches of beauty but there are plenty of activities ranging from taking a ferry or boat to Rottnest Island for the day, enjoying a picnic at Kings Park while watching the world go by (with a view of the city and the Swan River), to embarking on surf lessons or a day out sampling the local wineries. 

The city would make an ideal base for those who plan on travelling up or down the WA coast. Only a few hours' drive away is Margaret River. This region is a paradise for surfers, but more so, it is the vino (wine) connoisseurs little piece of heaven. Never rate wine until you have tasted what Margaret River wineries have to offer your taste buds. 

Twilight Bay, Esperance, WA (my personal fave)
The main tips I would pass on in relation to Perth would be to take a shuttle bus or taxi to or from the airport as Perth is widely spread out so public transport is not the most accommodating to those who don't know the city. The Burswood Casino is a great place to head to for a night on the tiles with daily entertainment on offer, selection of bars to choose from, casino, dancing etc. Also for those who prefer clubs, the majority of same are located in Northbridge, Perth city centre and Subiaco. 

I shall no doubt expand on this post with more knowledge, tips and insider secrets later on, but for now I think this gives you an idea of how Perth really should be on everyone's 'To Do List'!

Back soon. 

Perth Cityscape from Kings Park

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Zealand January 2011 - Te Anau, Queenstown, Lake Tekapo

Having returned not long ago from NZ I am feeling the need to share the love of this Lord of the Rings landscape country! Lets start it simple....AMAZING!

The first photo is of Te Anau on the South Island. Great base for tours of Millford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Beautiful scenery, Top 10 Campervan Park great location! Expect four seasons in one day here but the breathtaking landscapes most definitely make one feel so insignificant. Little pricey for tours around here but well worth investing in such memories!

Lake Tekapo - Beautiful spot but would only require a drive by visit!

Queenstown - Favourite town in NZ by far - Mecca for adventure activities and I am thinking it may be on my list for my next relocation. So admittedly I am sure I would not partake in so many activities when living there but between canyoning and skydiving (yes thats right, my lifelong dream became a reality here) I fell in  love. All adventure sports here are very well organised. Skydive was through NZone who were absolutely fabulous. Tandem Masters professional and very personable with a touch of comedy to make you feel at ease before jumping out of a plane - Not  an easy feat! Would definitely recommend one partakes in such activities here and followed by a post adrenalin pint of beer in one of the many bars....well quite simply does life get any better? Why yes I believe it does - Fergburger is a must!

So I am sure I will be back on about Queenstown - So much to share about this little gem! Oh and Ralph from NZone - Legend!!

Over and out


Whirlwind West Coast

Planning and packing started (well almost)! California bound then on to West Coast of Canada - Whirlwind being that Im doing it all in a week! 13 more sleeps....but who is counting? Have had a stop over in San Francisco before so looking forward to a return visit. Then onto Vancouver - Have been told I am going to love this city - Any thoughts or tips to be shared please send them my way! En route via Philadelphia. Heard this is not the airport of choice but needs must I am ready to put on the sneakers and dash to my connecting flight - But will I have time for a quick coffee stop is what I am more worried about! Priorities!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Limone, Lake Garda, Italy - 2010

Little snapshot of Limone, Lake Garda, Italy - Preview of a few tips to come

New Chapter Begins

Shelby in the building......well actually the truth is in decision mode trying to plan my next big jaunt! You see, not only will I share my worldwide adventures BUT tips on the must do and then the avoid at all costs!! What makes me an expert in the area of travel - Simple....I'm not! But I have travelled a lot and now its time to share the experiences and hopefully help other 'Wannabe World Travellers' take the plunge and enter the unknown with a little help, just as I needed to start my adventures. So, with that said....Im back to drawing board of my next adventure, so as they say......watch this space!