Adventures in Australia-January/ February 2017

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Well I “survived” a Queensland summer. Barely. Brisbane was HOT.  In fact, the heat in January broke some records.  I grew up in Chicago, I thought I could handle the heat. NOPE.  The main reason is the Brisbane is an outdoor living city. Because most of the time the weather is pleasant, people tend to spend a lot of time outside. Well compared to Chicagoan’s, who spend 3-4 months a year in hibernation.

I celebrated my 1st Australia Day. It’s quite similar to the 4th of July in the States. Including fireworks

So what did I do for the few days I was actually in Brisbane?  I watched a lot of sunrises and sunsets from the inside of my air-conditioned apartment.

Other hot day activities included, actually going inside the Queensland Museum. Never mind I walked past it everyday for months. I went with some friends and I pretty sure we went on hottest day ever, because all we did was complain the entire 2 minute walk.  We almost skipped the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, because it required a walk in the sun.
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For Christmas I had given my parents Opera tickets. I then started getting invites to all sorts of events at their local arts center.  Not that I was going to fly to Florida, but I could handle walking across the street to Queensland Performing Art Center (QPAC). I mean while I watching the world go by I could not help but notice the advertisements for shows.

Some friends were interested in going to see Ludovico Einaudi.  Given my new boyfriend ( OK, not really my boyfriend) Leslie Odom, Jr.  is just amazing on the ivories, I thought I would give Ludovico a shot.  Another friend was in town and I mentioned that “a piano guy” was playing. He wanted to go but could not find tickets for “The Piano Guys” Oops….. The concert was fun, something different. It’s good to get out one’s comfort zone every now and then.

I also took a detour on my way back from Bali to go to Perth. I had do something with the birdnest of hair on my head. Since it was first time going in summer, I decided to book a tour out to Rottnest Island.  I swear it’s amazing how quickly I forget vital facts like I suffer from horrible motion sickness. It’s an island in the ocean…….  I was ok for about the first hour of the boat trip. It was a cruise down the Swan River. Then we hit the Indian Ocean.  Um….. seriously… if anyone reading this hears me talking about getting on a boat… just say NO. It was horrible.

Rottnest is a car-free island. I knew my lazy self would not want to bicycle around so I opted for a bus-tour.  Which was good because it was air-conditioned.  The tour guide suggested I try the pharmacy for some drugs. Luckily I was much better on the return journey.  But I choose to leave the island early because I was just not feeling well and it was  bit hot. If you happen to make it out there, I would recommend plan on cycling around and going swimming. It looked nice.

I flew back to Brisbane, via Sydney on Virgin Australia. I took the morning flight and I passed on the breakfast option. So I was actually hungry but the time I boarded my Sydney to Brisbane flight. I fully expected the curried chicken I had twice a few days before. So imagine my surprise when I was offered something or Pomegranate Baba Ganoush. I don’t remember what something was, but it did not sound good and let’s be honest nor did the Pomegranate Baba Ganoush. But Burnt Fig Ice Cream surprised so bring on the Baba….. Oh man I about to fly somewhere on Virgin to eat that again. It was SO good.  Carrie P or Michelle, if you are reading this, please figure out how to make this for me. PLEASE

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End of February finds me back in Australia. Hopefully I’ll be staying put for the new few weeks. Unless of course I find a reason to get on Virgin flight……Until then, Safe Travels!

Bali, Indonesia-February 2017

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I remember vividly my first trip to Bali. It was when I first caught on to the game for free travel. I was so excited. And then my nephew got sick a few days before my trp. My sister had to attend to something out of town and her husband had a critical meeting. Grandma was in Florida, so that left the Auntie’s. Could I take a day off and help out? Who says no to a sweet 11 month old? Well I should have, the little germanator……  I was sick on my trip to Bali. So sick, I took like 2 pictures. And all I remember was it was HOT.

Fast forward 5 years, I had a credit on Virgin Australia, and  I was in between accommodations in Brisbane.  So it was an easy choice to go back to Bali.

 

This trip was so different then my first time. I actually took a lot of pictures. I hired a driver and went up to Ubud.  I was also able to stop by the John Hardy factory It was interesting to see all the jewelry being handmade.

I also visited some rice fields, some temples and made some new monkey friends.  And yes, I politely passed on the opportunity to hold a bat

Overall, this trip was quite relaxing. I had my first and last Balinese Massage. Even though I told her light pressure, she took light to be strong.  I ended up in bed at 6pm getting my cuddle on with some Ben-Gay.  It was hurt that I never need to experience again. So imagine my shock when I went for a facial the next day and was told it comes with a massage. And it was the same masseuse from the day before. OH NO….. first of all, what kind of spa gives a massage with a facial? I mean, ok if I had not been pulverized the day before, I would have been happy.  Luckily she was much more gentle this time. And no surprise, that when I went for my pedicure,  it also came with a massage.  The dumb move on my part though, was not all the massages, it was going out in the blazing hot sun covered in oil. I am burnt like a piece of bacon right now. And it’s the worst on the back of my legs… Just want I need before flying for 6 hours.

Now I am not proud of what I am about to write. I do not condone violence. And you should always check your temper before going to the airport.  And yes I need to learn to follow my own advice. I spent 8 days, hairbrush and pant free. So I was not in the best mood when I had to pack up and head back home.I had an issue with trying to check out, which included being double charged by the hotel.  (still trying to get that resolved). So needless to say I was not happy by the time I arrived at the airport.  The airport is modern and clean, so that was plus.  You have to have all your bags scanned before you can even get to the ticket counter. Well somehow I ended up in the middle of Chinese tour group.  I admit it looked odd. So of course I got stopped and asked for my ticket. I pointed and said it was at the ticket counter on the other side of security. “Where are you going? Why no ticket? Why are you in this line with this group? Again, where is your ticket?” Now while I am being questioned, I was also being pushed by the tourist behind me. And the guy was just not letting anyone thru. Thankfully I was wearing my Apple watch and I pointed to my next calendar item that showed I was flying to Sydney and he let me through.  Well there were annoyed tourists behind me and they were determined to get thru the line before me. HA not about to happen. There may or may not be video footage of me elbowing a silly gal trying to cut in front  of me. Or perhaps me kicking her suitcase when she tried to throw it in front of me. Or even still maybe me body checking her so I could through the metal detector.  Not confirming nor denying that any of that may have happen. But if it had I am sure some Indonesian security guards had a good chuckle.

Until next time…. Safe travels.

 

Vanuatu-January 2017

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Most people who have trouble sleeping maybe try some melatonin, herbal tea or some lavender. But not Flo, don’t be silly, Flo gets on a plane so she can get some sleep.

It’s no wonder I was having trouble sleeping, I was in the States, then Europe, back to the States then Australia. It also did not help that the bed in apartment I was renting was AWFUL. So after 5 nights in a row of no sleep, I made the executive decision to get some rest. I was not going to stay in Brisbane, because well, why loose an opportunity to travel somewhere new?  I was so tired, the thought of long plane ride took most places out of the running. Enter Vanuatu. There were direct flights from Brisbane and it was only 2.45 hours away on Virgin Australia. Perfect. Plus it would give me the opportunity to visit a new country.

Vanuatu, according to Wikipedia.,  is an island located in the south Pacific Ocean. It reminds of a Caribbean, for my US followers. The airport has one runway, so you land and then turn around to get to the gate.

There are not many chain hotels in Port Vila, the capital.  I booked in for 4 nights at the Warwick Le Lagon. I’ll be honest, I am not sure why. It was not bad, but I am sure if I done more research I would have chosen a different option.

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It has a pool, was on the ocean and the bed was comfortable. It fit my needs. The plus side was the food was pretty good for a resort. If anything the portions were too big!

So what did I do? I slept. I ate a bit and then slept some more. I felt like a new person!  I did make it out into the ocean. You did not need snorkel gear to see the fish. You just had to go about hip deep and well Hello!

I did not do any tours or go snorkeling or scuba diving. I just relaxed. And it was perfect.

I would not recommend flying just from the US to Vanuatu, because as nice as it was, it made the airport made the Port Au Prince airport look nice. However, if you are in the area, maybe doing some island hoping, I would definitely recommend it.  It was amazing, the people are beautiful and who does not love a bit paradise?

For the country counters, this is number 52 for me.

Until next time, Safe Travels!