Lisbon, Portugal- June 2018

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Something I had to consider when I was planning this trip was limiting the number of stops and connections I made because I was at maximum capacity with my bags.  Originally I had planned on going to Porto, but it required a connection so instead I opted to fly direct to Lisbon instead.  I was meeting up with friends and after 8 days in practical seclusion, I was looking forward to social interaction.

Ironically it was pouring rain the first few days, I ended up just giving up on site-seeing. , including skipping my trip to Porto.  I made the mistake of leaving the hotel and got into shopping trouble. More like I discovered Vista Alegre. Which would have been fine had I been heading straight home, but I had one stop. Oops. I could not resist.

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Luckily the sun finally came out and we were able to do a bit of sightseeing. But first we ate. We had asked the hotel for a recommendation and they suggested A Gina. I was intrigued by the Secret Black Pig. It was SO good. So much so that we went back for seconds the next night.

After a very filling lunch, we decided to walk around town  and burn it off.

It a little chilly for June in Lisbon.  And having walked too many of the 7 hills the day before, we decided to do a Tram Car Tour. It was hilarious. We had seats right behind the tram driver and it added to the enjoyment. First all the streets are narrow in Lisbon. They have to fight with pedestrians, cyclists, motorist and stupid people.  At one point a cyclist was riding in the middle of the street.  No amount of bell ringing was making the guy move. Finally at the red light, the tram driver told the guy you have to share the road. The guy started arguing “Why? It’s Saturday, I want to enjoy my bike ride”…even though this exchange was in Portuguese, it was obvious the guy was not going to give in. After a 2 minute exchange, the Tram driver just said enough and resumed our tour. We hit another snag, with a car blocking the the tram tracks.  The driver kept ringing the bell, which brought out some on lookers. They then proceeded to yell at the driver that he had plenty of room to clear and why wouldn’t he just try.  5 minutes later a harried van driver arrived and we were on our way.  45 minutes on the tram, who knew it would be so entertaining.

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We did so more walking around, more eating and just enjoyed our time in Lisbon. Frequently stopping for drinks and food.  If it only it had been a little warmer.

Its always fun to discover new places with friends.  Soon it was time to head off to my new and final stop, Paris.  But first I had to figure out how I was going to sneak my new purchases on the flight, since they clearly were NOT going to fit in my suitcases.

Travel tip- look for a friendly business man that has only one carry on. Ask him nicely if he wouldn’t mind carrying your 3rd carry-on because you are over the limit……..

Stay tuned for Paris!

Mallorca, Spain- June 2018

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While most of the world has heard of Ibiza, due to it’s party place reputation, it’s actually one of the islands that make up the Balearic Islands. The others are Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera. After Malta, I headed to the bigger island of Mallorca.  Why? Simple there as a new Park Hyatt. Talk about brand influence….

To get Mallorca, I had to fly thru Frankfurt. Before moving to Australia, Frankfurt airport was my 2nd visited airport after Chicago.  I could complain but Lufthansa has some pretty nice lounges.  I had to rent to a car to get to the result, as it’s located on the east side of the island.  It was so worth the hour drive…..

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I had originally thought that I would finished with my finally assignments before I got Mallorca, so that I could relax. I was not, but it turned out to be a blessing. It was a little colder then I thought it would be for Spain in June. So I was able to enjoy the blue skies while cranking away on finishing my assignments.

The location of the hotel is optimal for relaxing and recharging. It’s quite close tot he local beach and the town of Arte.

I am happy to report the mountain air did wonders for me. Not only did I manage to finish my assignments, I got top marks, which was bit of shock.

I did not get to see as much of Mallorca as I would have liked. But I would definitely go back, if for no other reason then to recharge my batteries.

As this is the never ending trip, next stop Lisbon!

 

Malta-June 2018

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After my long weekend in Bangkok, I started working my way back to the States, via Europe. First stop was Malta.  Which was interesting choice. I was meant to meet up with friends, but our dates got crossed and I forgot that I did not actually need to be in Malta.  It turned out well, because I actually needed to finish up my last assignments. The days were beautiful, but it was a bit chilly. So I spent most of my time looking at the ocean, while working. Not exactly the best way to see Malta.

IMG_1645What really surprised me about Malta, is that limestone and lack of color. The island itself has an interesting history.  It only finally became the Republic of Malta in 1974.

I did see the Blue Grotto but I did not go swimming, as it was a little chilly for me.  When I did manage to finally leave my room, I partook in the local cuisine, like the Maltese Sausage and the local beer, Cisk.

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I think I would have enjoyed my visit more, if I was not under a tight deadline.  I have to imagine that it keeps quite warm in the height of the summer. While it was a bit chilly, it was ideal for sightseeing.

When I booked this trip, it seemed like a good idea to spend 3 weeks in Europe. As I was packing up for my next stop, I realized I was successfully learned how to travel like an Australian. It’s not very American to take a 3 week holiday. So stay tuned, the next stop is Mallorca, Spain

Bangkok, Thailand- May 2018

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My dear friends had moved from Dubai to Bangkok and since it was “easy” flight from Brisbane, I planned a long weekend to say Hello.  What pursed over the course of the next few days was a typical trip, lots and lots of laugh, amazing food and of course a signature drink. The drink of choice this trip, Lychee Martini

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It was really HOT in Bangkok. Coming from winter in Brisbane I was not prepared for how hot it was going to be.  Oliver, the foodie, has arranged for us to have some amazing meals, including brunch at The Siam Hotel. So we decided to surprise him as well, with a photo shoot,  bu the photographer did not show up. Luckily we had Iphone’s, so we managed to get some fun photos.  I think the smiles say everything.

 

We had an awesome tasting menu that evening at Gaa, it was sooooo good.  2 course are missing from the pictures, the corn plate, which was ridiculous and the soup.  If you are Bangkok, so worth checking out.

 

It was great catching with friends, especially in foreign cities to explore. Another friend, Will, happen to be in town and we were able to catch up over breakfast. I love that my transient life means randomly meeting up with friends all over the world.

Until next time

 

 

Queenstown, New Zealand- May 2018

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Well this is an easy one to write. I flew to Queenstown, had a burger and meat pie and flew back.  Oh and I took some pictures.

 

I had planned on going to Milford Sound, but the weather was not cooperating.   I checked out the famous Fergburger, proclaimed to be the best burgers in the world.

Fergburger is good,  but it’s not the best in my book. But I am from Chicago, so I am bit biased. For the sake of this review, I took one for the team and order 2 burgers. And well  if I am honest, I was hungry and could not decide what to order. Per the cashier’s suggestion, I ordered the Deluxe and the Wiggum. 1st impression, I much prefer New Zealand meat to Australian. 2nd- Big burgers. 3rd- Why did I think it was good idea to order 2?  I did not actually consume the entirety of both burgers. I managed about 1/4 of each.

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The next morning, I was suppose to fly down to Milford Sound. The weather was not cooperating, so I took a stroll back down to Fergburger for breakfast. Now meat pies are all the rage in Australia and New Zealand, but I just never felt the love of them. Until I had the Lamb Shoulder and Kumara Pie from Fergbaker. First all, what is Kumara? New Zealand’s version of the sweet potato, in case you were wondering.  It was ridiculously good.  Like I would fly back to eat one. And the worst part? I was not overly hungry after the previous night’s debacle, so I ended up only ordering one!!!!! Rookie mistake.

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Since I was no longer hungry, I headed to the airport to get out of dodge. It never dawned on me that because the little planes could not fly, that the big ones might be having trouble as well.  The plane I was departing on had some trouble landing…..

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It eventually landed and I was off to Auckland, where I was lucky enough to catch up with a friend. And I finally got see Black Panther on the flight from Auckland to Brisbane. Which of course was SO good.  So while it certainly did not go as planned, it turned out pretty well in the end.

Until next time…..

Adventures in Australia-May 2018

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As my time in Australia was drawing to near, it became evident that there was so much I wanted to see that I had not.  So I started planning to go places with every free moment I could spare. But sometimes life has other plans. Like an ear infections, cancelled flights, flooding. But I did manage to see a fair bit.

Funny enough, I found myself back in Sydney,playing tourist again. My cousin was visiting from the States.  So we did the requisite walk thru the Botanic Gardens, before heading to Bondi for lunch.

 


I continued my Australia on roller skates tour and headed to Uluru/ Ayers Rock or the Big Red Rock in the middle of Australia. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour flight from Sydney. If you go, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plan.  It was pretty cool to see an aerial view.

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Since I was traveling alone and short on time, I only booked an overnight. Plus it’s really kinda of expensive.  So if you are looking to do this on a budget, I would suggest driving and considering camping/backpacker options.  If money is not object I suggest checking out Longitude 131.  Sadly it was $3,000/night with 3 night minimum so I had to pass.  But lucky, Voyages has accommodations for all, from the backpacker to the more luxurious.  If you are like me,  and only doing one night, do not go too crazy with accommodations, it’s all on the same compound.

I booked The Night at the Field of Lights tour., which was great since I had such a short time. It was started with watching the sun go down while viewing the rock.  The outback canapes included crocodile and kangaroo. I would like to say I tasted crocodile but I passed because of my food allergy. But I did try the kangaroo. It’s gamey

This followed by the Sounds of Silence of dinner and an enlightening talk about the stars. Which was fun being in the Southern Hemisphere.  And then the best part of the night, the Field of Lights. A light installation by Bruce Munro. Words and pictures just do not do it justice, it was AMAZING.

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I had a few winks before getting up for the sunrise over the rock.  A few observations, I longer I looked at the rock the I agree that color does change depending on the sun.  And it sort of looks like a elephant on one side.

I suggest if your budget/time allows make the trip before the light installation is gone. There is a energy that is indescribable. I wish I had spent more time.  I am glad I went though, even it it were for such a short time.

I had time between hotel check out and the shuttle back to the airport so I walked over to the on site Art Center. They have local aboriginal artist in residence, that you can watch paint. Indigenous art tells a story. They are abstract because they have a sacred meaning and they design to disguise their meaning from western eyes.  The artist in residence that day had just finished a painting that was really eye catching to me and quite small. Meaning it would be easy to transport and find a place on a wall. WELL….. there was a line at the checkout. So I wondered off.  I just let the photos speak for themselves….

It’s actually stunning in person. I am quite happy with my purchase.

Until next time, safe travels!

Adventures in Australia-April 2018

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My “adoptive” Australian parents, Jenny and John, were heading to Canberra to visit some friends.  There happened to be a Cartier Exhibit... in Canberra?  Well I am always up for adventure.   So off to Canberra I went…..

It was a beautiful fall day in Canberra.

And the Cartier Exhibit was fun

With the added bonus of seeing some art, including a Jackson Pollack and Monet

And that concludes my exciting trip to Canberra. Seriously. Some friends from Sydney were going to drive out to get me, and I politely suggested that I catch a flight.  This is not to say that Canberra is not worth a visit, it just was not a place that I would high on my list. In fact when I arrived back in Sydney it felt like I just flew in from another country.

A funny thing happened when I was flying back to Australia in April. I was on the long route, Chicago- London-Perth-Brisbane. On the London-Perth flight was I was bored, I know shocker, and was having a chat with one of the flight attendants.   Some guy comes in the gallery, complaining that his shepard’s pie was cold, like frozen. I was made a face, because seriously who eat PEA’s mid flights? Especially when bacon sarnie’s where an option.  He noticed my disdain and was like sorry it’s seriously frozen.  The ensuring conversation was funny.  Turns out he is a show producer that was going be touring around Australia.  A George Michael Tribute, Fast Love.  I was intrigued.  Turns out the Brisbane show was sold out, but there tickets still available for the Sydney show. And I just happened to be in Sydney that weekend.

Well wasn’t I in for a surprise. I actually really enjoyed it. I say I was surprised because I was just not familiar with his music.  It was quite good.  If you have the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend it! In fact, go ahead and break out your leather pants.  You will not be only one.

April is probably one of my favorite month’s in Australia.  If you get a change to visit, I highly recommend considering coming over in late April, after Easter and school holidays!

Until next time!