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Author Archives: Frank Teslik

  • 11

San Francisco

We Left our Hearts in San Francisco

Like the Tony Bennett sang “I left my heart in San Francisco.” If you have been to San Francisco (S.F) you will know why we love it so much. If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and get there. This city has so much to offer, the hills, the sea, the golden sun and the mystical fog. The city birthed by the gold rush has grown up into a destination with vibrancy and still beating golden heart. Additionally, take a trip to the beautiful wine regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma. You can visit their cute neighbourhoods with each of which offer a different vibe.

This was not the first time we have been to SFO, but this was the first time all Four Friends experienced the city together. As we always say “adventure is better shared with friends” in many respects this trip was a chance to see it through each other eyes.  When you travel with friends, different ideas and different perspectives all play a part in helping to experience somewhere in a new light.

We travelled over the New Year period and given its California it was not overly cold but still pack a jacket, you will definitely need it.

Here is our list of must visit while travelling this gorgeous city…

 

The Iconic San Francisco Cable Car

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Golden Gate Bridge

There are very few structures as ubiquitous to San Francisco as the Golden Gate Bridge. Opened in 1937 with a construction cost of $35 million dollars which in today’s money equates to approximately $493 Million. 8,981 feet (2,737 m) long and with a clearance above high water averages of 220 feet (67 m). Its towers stand at 746 feet (227 m) above the water. It was the world’s tallest on a suspension bridge until 1993 when it was surpassed by the Mezcala Bridge, in Mexico. The total length of galvanized steel wire used to fabricate both main cables is estimated to be 80,000 miles (130,000 km). The bridge has approximately 1,200,000 total rivets. Its familiar Orange Vermilion colour called International Orange requires year-round painting.  It takes so long to paint, by the time they make it from one end of the bridge to the other, they have to turn around and start all over again.

Tolls will cost you.

FasTrak Toll-by-plate Carpool Multi-axle vehicle
$7.00 $8.00 $5.00 $8.00 per axle

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Made famous by many movies/TV shows and is probably one of the most photographed bridges in the world. At the city end of the bridge, you will be able to visit the visitor centre where you will be able to read about the history and the build of the bridge with information plaques outside near the centre also. To the rear of the visitor centre (away from the main outdoor interactive historical display) there is a cross-section of mainstay cable, allowing you a close up of just how big the cable is! Can you get your arms around it?

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Golden Gate Park

The third most visited park in the United States. While the park is free to visit during the day, popular attractions charge admission. Attractions like; the deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers. The park is filled with gardens, museums, art, flowers, trees, lakes, birds and wildlife. There are also plenty of opportunities to participate in sports, clubs and other activities. Browse the site for information on parking, maps, weddings, hotels, permits, making reservations, transportation, contact numbers, and the history of Golden Gate Park.

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Buffalo & Bison in Golden Gate Park

Although the name of this popular Golden Gate Park attraction suggests you will encounter a gang of buffalo, you will actually have the pleasure of viewing the behavioural patterns of the American bison. Located next to Spreckels Lake, pieces of history lumber across an enclosed field of green. Since the 1890s, the bison has become a treasured tradition about the park, serving as a remembrance of the illustrious Wild West. Within the Golden Gate Park, the Buffalo Paddock is situated off of John F. Kennedy Drive in the north/west corner of the park. Heading between 41st Ave and Sunset Blvd/36th Ave will bring you closer to this destination.

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California Academy of Science

Delivering the wonders of land, space, and water in an exquisitely wrapped package, the California Academy of Sciences brings the above, below, and beyond of the entire world to life. Serving as one of the largest, innovative, and most eco-friendly natural history museums in the world, this Golden Gate Park jewel glistens with the promise of prehistoric sensations, astronomical exploits, dazzling gems and minerals, and living examples of extraordinary plants and animals.

Since one of the main goals of the Academy is to explore the various realms of science and then educate the public, there are plenty of interesting exhibits to investigate. One moment you’re viewing the latest changes concerning botany, geology, or biodiversity, while the next is spent analyzing prehistoric toothed birds or coming face to face with live anacondas in the Amazonian Flooded Rainforest exhibit. Specimens from across the globe decorate the inside of the Academy of Sciences, including an impressive display of aquatic treasures.

Location: 55 Music Concourse Drive (located right between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and JFK Drive).

Hours: Monday – Saturday (9:30am – 5pm); Sunday (11am – 5pm)

Admission Price:

Adult $29.95
Senior (ages 65 and over) $24.95
Student $24.95
Youth (ages 12-17) $24.95
Child (ages 4-11) $19.95
Ages 3 and under FREE

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The de Young Museum

When visiting the de Young Museum, one may travel to an assortment of distinct lands without having to step foot on an aeroplane. Thousands of artefacts and international talent are on display that paints a picture of worldwide proportions. Besides art and culture, there are an additional variety of elements associated with paying a visit to this stimulating Golden Gate Park attraction. A café, sculpture garden, and easy access to a Japanese tea garden are just some of the features to look forward to.

Address: The de Young Museum is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, which can be found within the Golden Gate Park.

Museum Hours: The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday and closes at 8:45 p.m. on Fridays.

Admission: The museum entry fee is as follows: (Adults; $10), (Seniors 65 and over; $7), and (College Students with ID; $6). There is free admission for children 13 and younger. There is also no fee charged for visiting the museum courtyard, cafe, store, sculpture garden or tower.

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Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park

A carnival of colors, scents, and vibrant visions decorate the space of the San Francisco Botanical Garden (also the formerly known Strybing Arboretum). As part of the memorable Golden Gate Park, 55 acres of land stretch across San Francisco, laying out the foundation for a symphony of plants, flowers, and trees to share the roaring sound of nature with the public. A visit to this magical display of greenery consists of more than 7,500 varieties of flora from across the globe. As a result, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind on the West Coast.

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Conservatory of Flowers

As you venture into one of the first buildings situated in Golden Gate Park, you will encounter the oldest remaining municipal wooden conservatory in the United States. As the first public structures of its kind in the country, the Conservatory of Flowers serves as a safe haven for thought and imagination as visitors browse about some of the most exotic-looking blooms, sometimes presenting the beauty of colorful rarities. Highly praised in the world of history, architecture, engineering, and nature, the Conservatory of Flowers has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is considered an intensely valued landmark in San Francisco.

Location: The Conservatory of Flowers can be found on JFK Drive at the Golden Gate Park.

Hours: Tuesday thru Sunday (10am – 4:30pm) with the last entry admitted at 4:00pm. Although open on major holidays, the Conservatory is closed on Mondays.

Admission:

Adults: $7.00
Seniors: $5.00
Students w/ I.D. :$5.00
Youth 12-17: $5.00
Children 5-11: $2.00
(Children under 4 are free)

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Golden Gate Park Windmills and Tulips

Located on the western section of the Golden Gate Park, two windmills reside, which at one time served a functional purpose for the city, but now stand as regal representations of their former selves. Lacking in their past lustre and respected intricate craftsmanship, the windmills are still solidified within a deep history attached to the city of San Francisco. These stately attractions were once responsible for pumping as much as 1 ½ million gallons of water on a daily basis. Today, they serve as historic gems that need a bit of polishing before shining to their highest potential.

The North and South Windmills can be found in the western section of the Golden Gate Park.

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San Francisco’s China Town

There is normally a China town in every major city. However, San Francisco’s China Town has some claims to fame. Established in 1848,it is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese enclave outside Asia. Believe it or not, China Town draws more tourists than the Golden Gate Bridge. 

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Mama’s

Now, let’s get talking about the amazing food buzz around S.F. Mama’s on Washington Square is a must for anyone visiting S.F. This cute little café has people lining up for hours, so get there early and enjoy the delightful offerings of food. Their doors first opened over 50 years ago and have been going strong ever since. Great brunch options, super friendly staff, delicious food, great prices – what more could you want? The list of items we tried is too long, but trust us when we say anything you order here is going to be ahhhmazing. The carrot cake left us wanting another slice. Don’t leave S.F without stopping by, you don’t want food regret!

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Union Square

Situated in Downtown S.F is Union Square, also known as the commercial hub. You will find like Sephora, Nordstrom Rack, Barneys, all your favourite designers, plus many many more. There is a large selection of hotels in this district too, so you won’t need to sleep on the street if your credit card can take the bashing. We took the cable cars from Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square. Remember that the cable cars are very popular so give yourself plenty of time for this touristy commute. There are only two cable car lines (Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason) that serve Union Square. Theatre district is also within the surrounding district, so after shopping, go back to the hotel, take a nap and why not take in a show.

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If you’re thirsty for some local microbrew, there is a great place right near Union Square called Mikkeller Bar. For hop lovers our recommendation is Mastodon Mother Puncher. Inspired by the progressive metallers, the IPA features a healthy dose of passionfruit and a little “Brett.”  Not quite sure how they have added some of the band’s lead guitarists and we are not sure we want to know. For those looking for something dryer or creamier, they have a good selection Pils and a delicious Milk Stout.

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Fisherman’s Wharf

This is where we decided to stay this time around, given it was NYE we wanted somewhere close to view the fireworks. This is a very popular tourist attraction in S.F and it covers the northern waterfront area. As the name suggests, it is the home base for the fishing fleet of S.F. Sitting along the waterfront is Pier 39, home to the seals of the bay. There is much speculation on how the Sea Lions arrived, some say it is after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Now we personally could watch these guys all day, making their seal noises, jumping in the water and really just basking in the Californian sun. They will make you smile and even laugh at their noises and tomfoolery!

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It is quite hard to resist stopping at In n’ Out burger while in Fishermans Wharf.  Of course being a tourist location it is very busy during the peak hours so expect a lineup.  We like to do all things Animal style with russian sauce, cooked onions, mustard and extra cheese.  Try it with chopped chilli if you like the heat!

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Visit the Musee Mecanique for a trip back in time to play their extensive range of antique arcade games. There are loads of restaurants to choose from and I’m sure you can guess, most offer a delightful seafood affair.

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After a very exhausting day of sightseeing we ate dinner at Fog Harbour, quick service, large meals, be prepared to roll out of there!

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The Painted Ladies

Hopefully most of you have heard of these girls and know that they are the colourfully ornate Victorian style houses near Alamo Square. These houses have appeared in movies, TV shows and probably best known as appearing in the opening credits of the television series Full House. Alamo Square is an elevated park offering great vistas of the S.F surrounds.

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Haight and Ashbury

This is known as the Hippie district of San Francisco, located near Golden Gate Park. Loads of cafes to choose from, check out the street art and if you find you are feeling a little peckish make your way to Street Taco, all dishes there are made to order and don’t be surprised if you have to line up for a little bit, trust us it worth the wait. Authentic Mexican street food done right and cheap on the pocket too.

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Napa Valley Wine Region

Known as the Wine Country, Napa Valley is situated approx. an hour out of S.F and there are many tour companies that offer day trips or an overnight stay if you wish. Given we all come from Adelaide, South Australia (known as the Wine State of Australia), it is pretty hard to impress us with wine, but they did. A few months before our visit they, unfortunately, had a fire around the region, which made us think twice about going, but the best way to help a town get back on track is to visit it so that’s what we did! We spent 2 nights at the Bel Abri.

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When visiting the wineries we found most offered a tasting menu with a starting cost of $35 per person and to be honest we were not prepared for that and neither was our wallet. So we did 2 tastings one at ZD Wines and another at St Clair Brown Winery. Both had lovely wines to choose and lovely views. St Clair Brown Winery is owned by an Irish lady and guys they have beer on the menu too. Roam around their culinary garden and try the fresh produce straight from the garden. Another winery to visit if you can manage to get in is the Far Niente. They have 4 tasting menus you can select from and the gardens are immaculately landscaped.

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Also, pay a visit to the Oxbow Public Market where you are presented with a wide variety of foods, it’s a hall for food lovers really. Can be difficult to find a table to sit and eat, so consider an early dinner. We decided to eat at Gott’s Roadhouse, and the burgers…oh, my gosh the burgers were incredible! The menu has a wide selection of burgers, sandwiches and sides, but most impressively their vegetarian burger is to die for (seriously).

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Muir Woods or Armstrong Redwoods

We visited both of these and they each offered pretty much the same feeling of majestic awe. Muir woods is easier to get to from S.F, whereas the Armstrong Redwoods is less touristy (with a feeling of having it all to yourself), but you need to hire a car to get there. The size of the trees is absolutely incredible and the smell is really beautiful, aahhhh the smell of the clean fresh air, walking around looking up you realise how small you actually are (you will feel tiny!) We can’t even describe the feeling when walking through there, it takes you to another world.

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Alcatraz

Alcatraz and history go hand in hand. Once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique to “The Rock”. The presence of infamous inmates, like Al “Scarface” Capone and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud, helped to establish the Island’s notoriety. Yet, many people are unaware of the historical significance before and after it was one of the world’s most legendary prisons.

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Civil War-era buildings, cannons, and subterranean rooms give insight into the 19th century when the island served as both a harbor defense fort and a military prison. As you dock at Alcatraz Island, visible reminders of the American Indian Occupation, which began in 1969 and ended in 1971, remains etched on “The Rock”, recognizing an important milestone in the American Indian rights movement.

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Today, restoration of the first lighthouse on the Pacific Coast, the historic gardens, and the recently renovated Model Industries Building shed new light on an abundance of stories still locked away. Alcatraz Cruises’ selection of tours reveal those insights directly from the legends.

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The rocky outcrop is situated approx. 2kms offshore from S.F and you can reach it in 15mins by ferry. If you are wanting to connect with San Francisco’s history Alcatraz will satisfy. But you need to get in early as tickets sell really fast.  We recommend you book online before you even arrive. If you have time we suggest you take the audio tour, there is so much information included and it really helps to provide context.

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Sausalito

Sausalito is at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was known as the shipbuilding centre in World War II. It is much cooler here weather wise than S.F given the adjacency to San Francisco Bay. We walked from Sausalito, along the foreshore, up the long hill, over the Golden Gate Bridge back to the Visitor Centre. It was long hard walk (7.5km), but oh so lovely. You will find approx. 400 houseboats along the north end of the town. This spot is definitely worth visiting, just have comfortable shoes on and a jacket to keep you a little warmer.

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Dosa on Fillmore

Where do we start, the food there is exceptional and steers clear of the butter chickens’ and vindaloos’ of the world and serves up some amazing South Indian Cuisine. Vade I can’t remember what we ate here, but you have been here plenty so maybe just write a few items of deliciousness down.

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Top 5 tips for San Francisco

  1. Be Patient with public transport
  2. If you are short on time, take a bus tour
  3. Walk the Golden Gate bridge, don’t ride the bikes on offer (people will get in your way)
  4. Download the Muni app to gain access to their public transport. If you buy a 3-day pass, be mindful that it does not begin the moment you purchase, even if you buy at 2pm it actually begins at 12.01am that morning, so you lose half a day!
  5. Visit the California Academy of Sciences
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  • 11

Kauai Hawaii, USA

Hawaii, oh Hawaii. Who has not dreamt of a paradise getaway?  Oahu, Kauai, Com’on you wanna lei me?

We have been fortunate enough to visit this remote part of the North Pacific previously, namely the Island of Oahu, but this time needed to be different. Whilst planning this trip, high on the list was a less developed Island where we could hike, relax and enjoy the scenery. Kauai covered all points for us and so without hesitation we booked our flights.

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Our plan included only 4 nights in Kauai and 3 nights in Honolulu (Oahu). Unfortunately, we were time-poor (and we knew this) but 1 week in paradise was better than nothing at all! We wanted to do our best to maximise the time we had. Kauai for exploring. Honolulu for shopping, beach and pool time! Hawaii is known for being one of the most beautiful spots in the world and with that comes the high price, it can be done on a budget you just need to prepare and research before going.

WANT TO FOLLOW IN OUR FOOTSTEPS?        CHECK OUT DEALS ON LIVINGSOCIAL.COM

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Kauai’s weather is generally always moderate and warm. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is beautifully lush and green, an enviable tropical paradise. Both Jurassic Park and King Kong were filmed here and once you visit you will know why. Therefore, if you are a hiker, beach goer or a foodie you can cover all bases here. The North Shore has some beautiful hikes, you can kayak the Waimea River or surf the world-renowned break at Hanalei, there is no better escape than Kauai.

Coming into Kauai the view was stunning, the water so vibrantly blue and the mountainous backdrop provided just that something extra special. We were in for a real treat – had we planned enough though? We opted to stay in Poipu, in the south of Kauai after reading great reviews. Off the plane, in the hire car and away we went, our road trip had begun in yet another beautiful place (oh so fortunate us!). It had been a very lengthy trip thus far, with the transit through Honolulu, so we headed straight to Koloa Landing Resort to check-in and refresh. We chose this hotel as it had been recently refurbished and the pool area looked amazing (including a waterslide for kids). On a side note, unfortunately for us the bed was excessively soft (albeit a brand new mattress) and we ended up pulling out the sofa bed mattress and placing it on the floor! So there we slept, like camping in a glamorous room, for the next 4 nights. The hotel did allow us to sample three other rooms’ beds, but they were just the same. We had our little rest and jumped back in the car to check out some of the sights and sounds of Kauai.

Spouting Horn is located on the South Shore and is one of the most photographed spots on the Island. There is a powerful energy that captivates you, as the spout of water has been known to reach as high as 50 feet into the air! A Hawaiian Legend stems from the hiss and roar that is released with each burst. The sea was somewhat calm when we were there, giving us an ample 15-20 feet and more of a gentle growl than a roar. From December to May, you may be able to see some Humpback Whales from the lookout if you are lucky (not us this time around). There is ample parking but watch out for the free roaming Kauai chickens and roosters! They are scattered all over the Island and are a tourist draw card also (especially the fluffy youngsters). You will see plenty of souvenirs that glorify the chicken as an unofficial mascot of the island! Although they are wild, they are in fact descendants of the original Moa brought by the first visitors hundreds of years ago. In addition, this is a spectacular spot to stay for the sunset, trust us you will not be disappointed.

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It was nearing sunset time and, as we made our way to Spouting Horn, we spotted the Beach House Restaurant. We decided this could be a great place to have a cocktail and watch the sunset. After we finished with ‘the Horn’ and ‘the Chickens’, we decided to try our luck and see if we could get a table. If not, we would simply stand on the grassy banks and admire natures goodnight kisses from there. Surprisingly enough we managed to score a table! Upon viewing the menu, we were nothing short of some mouth-watering choices that made it difficult to decide (hrmmm…whose problem you ask?) Our waiter came past rather quickly and was very helpful in explaining all the dishes, the types of fish, flavours and textures. Maybe this made it even harder to choose? However, it was an easy choice for cocktails we sat back and enjoyed the silhouettes of the palm trees framed by the golden sunset glow. Hawaiian sunsets are absolutely spectacular and easily some our favourites. Our dinner arrived and it looked amazing, from the presentation, taste and the service neither of us could complain. A great find and we would suggest you make a reservation around sunset time and request a table near the windows.

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Waking up to a bright new morning it seemed the refreshing turquoise of the pool was calling us (or was that just in our heads?) Moosh went out for a jog along the beach first and then hit the pool. Needing some man-sleep, FT was a little slow getting up and about. Eventually joining in for some relaxing pool time and even awaking his inner child and getting in a few runs on the water slide! (Of course after checking with the attendant that it was OK for a 6’2” 108kg Dude). We can generally handle around 3 hours of pool time, at which point we feel the need to get out and explore. So that is what we did, we had to explore this beautiful island.

Ordered logistically to suit the few days we had, below is a brief rundown on what we did, what we saw and what we enjoyed. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words. So read below, but definitely take the time on the interwebs to research for yourself an itinerary that suits you best.

 

Day 1 – South > North Coast

Koloa Old Town / Koloa Fish Market – Head down for a leisurely wonder around, and make you way to the Koloa Fish Market for some fresh, delicious (and delightful) takeaway.

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Poipu Beach Park – We sat on the grassed area eating our Koloa Fish Market takeaway whilst soaking in the sun and the picturesque view. This Beach is most famous for the Hawaiian monk seals that cheekily sunbathe on the shore. They are endangered with only about 1,200 remaining and many swim in the waters of Kauai (large Honu or Hawaiian green sea turtles also grace these waters). Please, please, do not be an Instagram muppet and try getting too close to the Monk Seals. Always stay behind barricades and signs or at least 150-feet when in an unmarked area and never feed the seals (in fact never feed any wild animals for that matter, you will be doing them more harm than good!)

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Kilaueu Lighthouse – A trip to Kauai is not complete without seeing the Kilauea lighthouse. Who does not love a lighthouse view? You get a wonderful view of the rugged coastline and the beautiful spectrum of turquoise and deep blue water.

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Hanalei Valley lookout – A breath-taking vista that takes in the Hanalei River, distant mountains and the many a colourful taro field (greens, browns and even blues, when the sky reflects off the watered fields). Although the fields are man-made, it really gives you a feeling of Mother Nature’s patchwork quilt.

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Queens Bath (near Kamamalu Loop) – Note that there is not a lot of parking as it is in a neighbourhood, so be prepared to wait for a park. Although we had seen photos of the Queens Bath, we really did not know what to expect from the trail that leads there (should’ve researched better you say?). Be sure to bring some closed toe shoes! The path down is a little treacherous. There are some steps but mainly a dirt path that can be quite muddy and slippery but the exposed tree roots help you along as ‘Natures steps’. Heed the signs! There have been 28 ‘swept away’ deaths that have occurred there. Take some photos, enjoy the view, but keep away from the edges.

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Hanalei Bay – Hanalei Town and its buildings are quaint throwback to years gone by, boasting many colourful shops and eateries. Of course let’s not forget that some of the best beaches are nearby, including Lumahai Beach and if you are looking to sunbake the day away your choice should definitely be Kee Beach.

 

Day 2 – South > East Coast

Mahaulepu Heritage Trail (starting at Shipwreck Beach, Ainakoa Street) – After the previous day driving around, we needed to get our sneakers on and go for a hike…and a hike we did. The Mahaulepu Coastal Trail is a significant part of the history of Kauai and it is the last stretch of coastline that has not yet been developed. They are trying their best to keep it that way, so let’s keep hoping that it stays undeveloped and pristine for us to all enjoy. This hike takes you from Shipwreck beach to Keonela Bay. Walking along the sand dunes you will see some rocky inlets, inspiring coastline and hear the roar of the ocean. Oh, and if you are lucky enough you will see some sea turtles or the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal.

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Wailua Falls – The larger of the two falls, Wailua does not disappoint. The waterfall splits off into two, making for a great selfie shot with the duo of white water ribbons in the background.

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Opaeka’a Falls – Although a distant waterfall, the overall vista and the surrounding greenery really make this a stunning place to stop for a look-see. There are plenty of Kauai chickens running around that add character to this place!

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Keahua Arboretum – The Rainbow Eucalyptus trees are a sight to behold. Standing tall and proud in their colourful ‘jumpsuits’ they really are like nothing you have seen before. Take a hike if you have the time and immerse yourself amongst nature. She is a beauty!

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Hamura Saimin, Lihue – A local cultural institution. Cheap and delicious noodles. Some love it, some don’t. We did.

Dinner that night we went to Tortilla Republic. It seems every time we go to the States we always have a hankering for Mexican. We ordered a feast, shared some Margaritas, enjoyed the sunset and finished off with a stroll and some ice-cream. So far Kauai had been nothing short of amazing!

 

Day 3 – South > West Coast

Makauwahi Cave Reserve – This sinkhole is considered to be one of the richest fossil sites in the Pacific. A lovely man by the name of Dr David Burney, whom is a paleoecologist, manages the site and is incredibly passionate and the story he tells is worth a listen. In this sinkhole and Cave you will find so much history, the pollen of extinct plants and stories of the flightless duck. The tour Dr Burney offers is free (donations appreciated) and he is there 4 days a week and would love to share his knowledge with each and every one of you! Nearby, Dr Burney will tell you to take a turn off on your way back and visit the Tortoise Refugee area. By now if you know us, anything involving animals we are in for! (Well…as long as it doesn’t involve harming them!). There are two ways of getting there, both via dirt roads after the Golf Course. We found the dirt road suitable for standard cars as long as it has not been raining heavily (although the car hire company might say otherwise! Just drive slowly). In saying that, we took the road towards Punahoa Point and turned left at the fork in the road at the CJM Country Stables sign (based on Forum reviews and despite what the website shows). Drove towards the coast as far as the road would let us and took the Makauwahi Cave Trail. If you don’t want the gentle hike, take the road towards the Lida’s Field of Dreams route and that is where the official carpark is.

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The Na Pali Coast – Consisting of a 17-mile stretch of coastline and is lined with cliffs up to 3,000-foot tall, highlighted with waterfalls and green valleys and the sea caves. The Sea Caves are inaccessible by car, so have your hiking shoes and enjoy the natural wonder. This coastline is what Kauai is best known for and once you see it, you will understand why. We did not want to leave and we guarantee you will not want to either!

Waimea Canyon lookout (Alt. 3400ft) / Kalalau lookout (Alt. 4000ft) / Pu’u O Kila lookout (Alt. 4000ft) – Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The drive here is beautiful (albeit winding wet roads), our only wish was that we drove up to the top first and stopped at the lookout points on the way back down. It was so foggy and misty by the time we got up to the top, we did not have any visibility of the awe-inspiring vista. There were a couple spots along the road back down where we managed to stop and get a reverse view of the canyon. So do yourself a favour and check the weather forecasts, perhaps plan the rest of your ‘vacay’ around this outing? Or, time permitting, there could be the possible necessity of two trips to get that clear day, as the weather can be unpredictable at these altitudes. Take a jacket!

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Pu’u Hinahina viewpoint (Alt. 3640ft) – We missed out on this hike also, due to the weather turning on us. WE MUST COME BACK!!

Kauai Coffee Plantation – Take a walk through their coffee orchard and of course sample their exclusive Hawaiian Grown coffees (more than a few dozen on offer!). We did not have time, but you can opt in for a free guided walking tour where you will learn how they grow and harvest their coffee.

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By the time we got back to the hotel it was quite late so we decided to eat in, taking some advice and grabbing a couple Poke bowls from Makai Sushi. It is located inside Kukuiula Market at 2827 Poipu Rd, Koloa (not at #2728 as per their website). Honestly, we could not go past the Gorilla Ahi bowls and they were super delicious, fresh and presented great value for money.

 

On a side note; the only thing that disappointed us about Hawaii is that, due to the volume of seafood that is consumed on the Island, some of the fish is caught by fishing trawlers (as highlighted in a menu we saw) and unfortunately this is not a sustainable way at all. I suppose with the small Island feel, you would like to think that the Old Fella’s down at the docks have caught the fish in their small boats. Perhaps it has been, perhaps not. This in no way reflects the entire way of the Island, just an experience we had.

We look forward to coming back here again (one day, hopefully) and exploring more of what this beautiful Island has to offer!

 

 


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London Tower Bridge

London, England

London is definitely one of the most iconic cities in the world, so when you visit here you always leave a little bit of your heart behind. Most of us have grown up knowing the names of many iconic places in London, thanks to the original Monopoly, and at some level have a longing to visit. With so many areas to cover and each Borough offering something different, you are guaranteed to leave satisfied no matter what kind of traveller you are.

London is one of the easiest cities to get around, the Tube and bus routes are undoubtedly some of the best in the world, however beware of the peak times where things can get a little crowded. Purchase yourself an Oyster Card as this is the cheapest most effective way for you to get around, it will work out around 50% cheaper than purchasing single tickets. Also, consider using the Oyster Card and London Underground (Tube) to get to Central London at a cost saving almost half of that for the Heathrow Connect Train.

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In our opinion there are only 2 downsides to London;

  1. Weather is generally cold, but you should see the energy rise in the residents when the warmth of the sun starts to kick in – it is glorious and everyone definitely has a new lease on life.
  2. Expense, London is a very expensive city, but there are a tonne of things to do that will not burn a hole in your pocket. Do your research, look for free walking tours, cheap eats at pubs and many of the iconic buildings you can walk past and feel satisfied.

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Our accommodation was booked in Clerkenwell, which is very close to where Moosh and FT used to live. This locale would provide a real feel for what it is like being a “Londoner”. Although getting there was quite a drama (with the Tube partially closed for maintenance that evening) we jumped off at Covent Garden and opted to share a black cab. Once we arrived at Apartment Clerkenwell One, London, we looked around, dumped our bags in our rooms and chilled for a brief second. The boys went for a walk to get some Nosh and drinkypoos, while the girls stayed back.

 

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Waking up the next morning in the fresh crisp air was certainly a delight (for some) and one where Moosh would take the opportunity to go for an early morning jog around the “Ol’ Neighbourhood”. Pillow over his head FT mumbled, “Girl you crazy”. Now we were all a little hungry (what’s new!?!) so off we went to Ottolenghi, Islington. A venue that brings back fond memories for Moosh and FT, they were thrilled to have the chance to share it with the Vades. The good thing about this place, besides the taste and quality of the food, is that the choices on the menu are limited so you do not spend a lot of time deciding what to eat (and hence eat and be happier sooner). We left feeling satisfied and ready to walk the streets of London. There is usually a line-up around brunch time, so come early and avoid the wait. Worth it, yes indeed!

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As we have mentioned London is very easy to get around, you can walk to many spots and so walk we did (our soles can testify to that!). We made it to King’s Cross, jumped on the Tube and made our way to Oxford Circus, Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus. Similar to Times Square in New York, albeit on a smaller scale, you will find neon sign boards with advertisements all around. Being in the heart of London, it is easily accessible and you can walk here from many Boroughs including Soho, Chinatown and the West End. If you are looking for some great priced sportswear check out Lillywhites, they got deals and steals!

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After a quick stop at a local pub for some refuelling (wink, wink) we headed for The West End. Covent Garden is a jewel tucked away in the West End of London and the area has pretty much everything you want. Easily explored by foot, it boasts shopping, great restaurants and bars and it is smack bang in the middle of the West End Theatre District. There are plenty of ticket booths around so if you have time, grab some tickets, sit back and enjoy taking in a comedy or a classic musical!

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One of our favourite pubs in London was The Easton, (perhaps biased, our local circa 2007-08) this little gem can be found in Clerkenwell and if you find yourself in the area, stop in for a pint or two and some great pub grub. Dinner on that night had been pre-planned, with Friends (London, Vancouver, Melbourne) and Family (Dubai) walking through the door, overdue catch-ups, much-needed hugs and introductions. We laughed and (block your ears Mum) boozed the night away.

 

There are many, many iconic sights to see in London so, as we did, be sure to maximise your time to get around and see what you can, while you can. Note that the below is in no specific order for an itinerary. London has a penchant for rain, so map your days into zones, but be flexible to swap the days around to suit the weather.

 

Buckingham Palace – Now let’s be honest you can’t visit London without having a gander at Buckingham Palace. Since 1837 this has been the home of the British Monarch. In summer visitors can see the lavish staterooms which are open from late July through to September. In total Buckingham Palace boasts 775 rooms…Wowza! 52 Bedrooms, 78 Bathrooms, 92 Offices, 19 State Rooms and a humble 188 Staff Quarters. Now don’t ask us which room the Queen sleeps in! If you would like to witness the Changing of the Guard – visit here and check the times. Be sure to check out the beauty of St James Park whilst you are in the neighbourhood!

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Westminster Abbey – This stunning Church sees over a million visitors per year, not including those that pray at the daily service offering. At 700 years old, this old beauty is the Church where the much loved Royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton took their vows. Keep in mind that Westminster Cathedral (names often confused) is a different building to the west of the Abbey.

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Trafalgar Square – Officially named in 1830, it is a true hub for people gathering and people watching. Located in central London, it’s a perfect place to grab yourself a coffee and amuse yourself watching people taking photos with one of the 4 lions that surround Nelson’s Column (the growl pose…anyone?). The Square is jewelled by 2 glorious fountains and headed by The National Gallery, with the surrounding buildings providing many a perfect backdrop.

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Tower Bridge – The iconic Tower Bridge is often mistaken for “London Bridge” (maybe because of the age-old nursery rhyme?). It was built somewhere between 1886 and 1894 and has a Gothic style architectural appearance. It is in close proximity to the Tower of London, so be sure to walk across admiring all it’s glory and make your way to the Tower of London. Tower Bridge would have to be one of the most renowned Bridges in the world, so please don’t miss this… (need we say it?)

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Big Ben – For those who don’t know Big Ben is actually the bell that sits atop St. Stephens Tower, at the North End of the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament). It would have to be another one of London’s most recognisable symbols. If you are nearby on the hour, you will most certainly hear the loudest chime and one that people love to hear. If you can manage it, walk past at night and admire how well-lit it is. The illuminated clock faces draw you in to the history and the beauty of the Tower. Oh, and did you know that Big Ben weighs a staggering 13 tonnes! It is a short stroll to Number 10 Downing St the home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

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Oxford Street – Now for any shopping lovers out there, you would have definitely heard of Oxford St, we swear you could spend all day pounding the pavement and still not have been into every shop. You will find some major retailers like John Lewis, Selfridges and Marks and Spencer, plus another 300 or so other stores. We suggest you have your best walking shoes on if you plan on giving your credit card a workout!

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Hyde Park – Hyde Park is a huge 142 hectares of green open space in central London. In summer the Park is bustling with people playing Frisbee, having a picnic or simply sunbaking and taking in all the sunshine (whilst they can).

Many a concert have been held there, including The Rolling Stones, Queen, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday. Hyde Park is open from 5am – midnight every day of the year. During the winter months they host a Winter Wonderland which provides a great opportunity to ice-skate (and fall over) in the iconic park…oh, and a warm mulled wine will add to the memories. They have placed a 7th July memorial to the victims of the 2005 London bombings and a memorial for the Late Princess Diana.

If you’re feeling a little bit fancy you can stop by the Grosvenor House for High Tea. They are well known for their Afternoon Tea service and although it is an expensive affair, it is worth the experience. remember to hold your little finger out and enjoy eating your dainty sandwiches whilst say words like indubitably with your nose held high.

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Harrods of London – No trip to London would be complete without visiting the luxury shopping destination that is Harrods of London.  The Friends were not in the market for any purchases. But we did partake in some foodie treats and checked out the tribute to Diana Princess of Wales.

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Borough Markets – The Borough Markets are a foodies’ heaven. They are open from Monday through to Saturday and closed on public holidays. The closest tube station is London Bridge. Walking through there, you can really admire the history and the smells…. Ohh the smells of all the deliciousness, the delightfulness, the….(you get the idea). One of the most amazing things about such a diverse food market is that each of the Traders aims to have biodegradable packaging with none of the rubbish going to landfill. If you want to find events that are happening at the Borough Markets head here for details. Treat yourself, you know you want to!

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Camden Markets – The Camden Markets are open from 10am til late every day. Some would say this market is a tad alternative, such that you will find a little bit of everything ranging from jewellery, clothing, souvenir stores and music stores (Vade found some rare Nirvana pressings at one of the stalls). Check out the photo of us re-enacting the debut studio album cover by The Clash. If you want to know about any events just head here for information. Nearby, Cafe Loren is a place noteworthy of a stop for some coffee and a delicious Shakshouka for breakfast. The neighbouring streets of Camden also boast the alternative vibe, somewhat punk-ish, with many colourful stores and street art. Take the time to walk around and take it all in.

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St Pauls Cathedral – Sir Christopher Wren’s English Baroque masterpiece sits at the highest point of the City of London. Construction took 22 years (1675-1697) and when you see the magnificent dome, you can appreciate perhaps why. Tickets to go inside can be exxy for families and groups, so check it out on “the Googles” and decide if this is an option for you. Whilst in the neighbourhood some other worthy visits include – for old world charm the Leadenhall Market and for some space-aged wow the “Gherkin” and Lloyds of London.

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Every time we travel we like to splurge on dinner one night and this time around our choice was Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Now to say this place blew our minds is an understatement, a serious understatement! After having the experience of dining at the flagship restaurant you can really appreciate how and why they have received three Michelin-stars, providing their guests with some of the finest French Cuisine utilising techniques that are both classic and modern. We splurged on the Menu Prestige and have to say we have never ever experienced such “Fine Dining”, being treated like Royalty from the moment we stepped in. If you really feel like luxuriating yourselves, you simply cannot go past Restaurant Gordon Ramsey. Note that there is a dress code and for you #foodporn Instagrammers photos are not allowed.

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One of the newest icons of London is The Shard and it was most definitely on the list. We chose this option for a City view over the London Eye (weighing up costs is never fun, but realistic). Now you can book tickets to go to The View (levels 68,69,72) or you can do as we did and book a table at GŎNG Bar, located on level 52 (they take walk-ins also, but best to book). By taking this option, we spent our money on champagne and cocktails rather than entry tickets to a viewing level. The view is still amazing….(except for the rain)….and so why not enjoy a cocktail at the same time…just saying! Although there is no dress code per-say for Gong Bar, shorts and flip-flops are not advised if you are a walk-in. You will need to check-in at reception downstairs. One thing to note about photography from anywhere within The Shard is that they have a strict policy (click and scroll down) about handheld cameras only and we were not allowed to take in our DSLR camera! They also forbid photos being taken from within Gong Bar, which is understandable in order to preserve the atmosphere. In saying that we managed to take photos from one of the lower levels (from memory where you change lifts). But…London o London, it was raining and visibility was not optimal and despite our advice earlier, we were caught out on this day!

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Now on the completely other end of the scale, we ventured out to Tooting-Bec to visit some dear friends (a previous work colleague of FTs from some 8 years earlier). It was a shame that it rained continuously and our London friend took it upon himself to apologise for both the weather and the lack of available taxis. We took in some hugs, beers and conversation with our Friends at their house, migrating to a nearby pub for much of the same! It was nice to venture out of the city, opting for some local Sri-Lankan Cuisine and honestly it was amazing. Familiar with the menu, our Friend ordered for us all. “Over-ordered” for all of us is more like it! Full bellies, full hearts, we were delighted. Sometimes it’s nice to really just sit back and enjoy the simple things in life like, friends, honest food and a good mango lassi!

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Do not forget to take a trip on an iconic double decker bus (public transport not the hop-on-hop tour ones), take the London Eye for a ride, or have some fun taking silly photos with the red phone booths! Oh and one last thing, grab yourself a Cornish pasty from the West Cornwall Pasty Co. you will be delighted…trust us!!

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We could go on and on, but maybe it’s your turn to visit London….and write the next paragraph or three?

 

Meet the authors FT  Moosh

We visited Iceland on the same trip as this. Read about it here Iceland 1  Iceland 2

Consider these other Travel Diaries   San Francisco     Bwindi, Uganda


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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to go to Mexico! You can bet our hands flew up when asked, and what better way to start a vacation than in the country of sun, guacamole and Cerveza! Cabo San Lucas was the place to be and we decided that ringing in 2015 on the beach was exactly what we wanted to do.

Cabo San Lucas Map

Cabo San Lucas is often the hot-spot for celebrity spotting (not that we actually saw any….sigh no Angelina) but this certainly was not the main draw-card for our choice to visit.  We had seen amazing pictures, heard great things, and knew it was a must visit even with the short amount of time we had available.  With only 2 nights planned, we made the most of the scenery, the food, the cocktails and the culture.  The Bahia Hotel Beach Club was our choice of hotel and we certainly chose right.  It was boutique, close to the beach, had great food and drinks and wonderful service – we couldn’t fault it, it was perfect.  See our review of this hotel.

 

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CABO SAN LUCAS DAY 1

Our first point of call was of course the hotel, but more importantly (yep, you guessed it) where to go for dinner and beer.  We took a stroll down towards the beachfront for an inquisitive look-see and were drawn to the colourful façade (and convertible Kombi) of Mango Deck Restaurant, Bar and Beach Club.  This is a ‘crazy place’ during Spring Break (YouTube it, if you’re not at work!) but fortunately on that night it was less Beach Club and more of a fun restaurant.  Moosh had been dying to try the guacamole and tortillas, she is but a simple girl.  Imagine the best you’ve ever had….well, this was better, tears of joy better!  The guacamole was made by our waiter in front of us and we eagerly watched to see what secrets went into said ‘perfect guacamole’.  Ultimately it was just the love put into it!  We ordered a Mexican feast to share and wow-o-wow it was super delicious and definitely set the bar for what was to come, plus the beers were cold and priced to please.  

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Bellies full of goodness, we set off down the beach front and stumbled upon an outdoor bar on the beach, Baja Cantina.  A novelty bar, adorned with swings as seats to three sides.  Picture it – swinging gently, sand on your feet, cocktail in hand, friends by your side, how awesome is that?  The evening weather was calm, we were reunited with our besties and the cocktails were going down rather agreeably.  Cabo had already begun to exceed our expectations and we hadn’t even really got out and explored.

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What a true delight to wake up and step outside the hotel room door, smell the sea breeze, see dozens of palm trees and more excitingly the pool, quietly waiting and begging us to take a dip.  But the pool would have to wait….for now.  We had organized a whale watching tour with Whale Watch Cabo and were due to set off from the Marina.  Arriving with plenty of time for breakfast we thought we could squeeze in a quickie, but how wrong we were.  We found a restaurant with an inviting outdoor area and, as there were no other patrons, we assumed our food would arrive rápido.  However, I guess Mexican time is somewhat slower paced than what we are used to.  Our food was still nowhere to be seen after 40 minutes, so we tried to cancel our order.  But we were hungry and so our waiter offered a solution.  The solution?  We left the restaurant, boarded our tour boat, and somewhere between the safety induction speech and the starting of the engines the waiter brought our food to the boat.  Unconventionally (and rather comically looking back now) we paid for breakfast pulling pesos from beneath our life jackets and attempted a rápido feasting of Huevos Rancheros.  We set out on time with a small group (nothing worse than a discounted tour on an overcrowded boat) and the team was led by marine biologists who are very supportive of whale conservation and research.  Many tour boats get too close to the whales, invading their space and this actually scares them away.  It was wonderful that our Captain held back to a distance that still provided great views but respected the whales and their environment.  The photographer took some great shots and she was quite generous to email the photos through to us.  We were fortunate to see some Gray Whales breaching, it truly is a sight to behold.  The tour took us past El Arco (a.k.a Lovers Arch, Golden Arch) and stopped for a photo opportunity of what truly is a remarkable rock formation.  As an added bonus the area is frequented by sea lions, adorably chubby and noisy, and there were plenty of them basking in the gorgeous Mexican sun.  Fantastic experience, fantastic tour.  We would 110% recommend Whale Watch Cabo and will definitely use them again.

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We walked back to our hotel along the beach (approx. 20 to 30-minute walk depending on which part of the Marina) and geared up for a big NYE night of celebrations to bring in 2015.  We had pre-booked a dinner package on the beach at The Office and boy-o-boy what a fantastic choice!  The tables were dressed very colourfully and fairy lights adorned the surroundings, providing a majestically Mexican atmosphere.  We saw a stage in our zone and were unaware of what was to come, but we knew we were in the right spot as the adjoining restaurants on the beach had no colour, no vibrancy, and only a small band or DJ set-up.  The food was good overall, and watching the waiter hand whisk a Caesar dressing from scratch at the table was an unexpected delight.  Drinks were an additional cost to the dinner package, but the Margarita’s were strong, delightful and worth every Peso!  We spent the last hours of 2014 enjoying a magical evening of entertainment. The stage now came into its own boasting performances such as Mariachi bands, traditional dancing, Lucha Libre wrestling, break dancing, dancing competitions for some adults and kids from the crowd, and of course a DJ to spin the night home.  You know you have picked the hot-spot when everyone else at the other restaurants are looking over at your zone, your stage and you dancing!  Beachside fireworks were launched right on cue only metres from the gathering crowds (safety regulations followed to the letter….hrmmm….maybe not so much?!?)  Sure it was an expensive evening, but what NYE isn’t?  We had a fun and fantastically unforgettable night at The Office, there was no place we would have rather gone.

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CABO SAN LUCAS DAY 2

New Year’s Day, Hangover, Pool time.  What better way to cure self-inflicted ailment than to spend time at the pool, relax and get back on it!  Without a care in the world we laughed, we ate, we drank.  The friendly staff took care of us with a variety of cocktails and pizzas, whilst the tortilla chips and guacamole orders kept flowing.  Thankyou Bahia Hotel Beach Club!  

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We took a walk through the backstreets of Cabo to get a feel for the humble dwellings, the culture and livelihood of the locals, away from the glitz of the resorts and tourist traps (or perhaps we just get lost?).  Our next mission was to find the Mecca of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Mezcal, with no trip to Cabo San Lucas complete without a duty call to Cabo Wabo, founded by Sammy Hagar.  Cabo Wabo is adorned with Rock ‘n’ Roll history, photos and memorabilia.  The quality Tequila and Mezcal they serve will give even those opposed to Agave liquor an appreciation for superior smoothness.  After a couple of drinks, we made our way back to the hotel, to eat some more, drink some more (it was a holiday after all!) and to collect our luggage.  We thanked Cabo for the memories and bid farewell to 2014, the New Year had started with a bang.  

Time for Mexico City.

Cabo San Lucas Sand


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NYC Skyline

New York City, USA

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Read our suggested travel itinerary here

(Our First Trip to New York City Together, There have been Several)

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to New York City!”

Sweet words that no one will ever get tired of hearing. Even though Moosh and FT had been to New York City before, the excitement was exponential as this time around would be very different. Four Friends different. Heading towards Manhattan we took in the skyscrapers, city lights, yellow cabs, the people – what a sensory overload! The city has an immense buzz, an infectious buzz….and we had not even gotten out of the cab yet!

So there we were, four little ants, immersed in the Big Apple and bursting at the seams with excitement! Most people aspire to have the Manhattan experience, as New York City is one of those places that dreams are made of. We had not considered any areas other than Times Square for our Hotel. At the time, we wanted to be ‘right in the thick of it’. Unfortunately, our hotel was average, but it was affordable to us at the time, so we took it in our stride and were determined to make the most of the situation. After all…..helloooooo…..we were in one of the most loved cities in the world. Picture Times Square, famous for basically everything.

We walked around admiring the giant screens, the bright lights, the never ending crowds – Times Square exemplifies the excitement of the City that never sleeps. Fair to say we were living the dream in NYC and couldn’t believe we were all there, together. Options for dinner were plentiful but we thought, “…when in Rome!” and on that decided TGIF was a good idea….or so we thought. Little did we know it was an appalling idea. Almost half of the menu items were no longer available, the poor waiter was so embarrassed having to continually check with the kitchen what was. Taken aback, Moosh ordered a soup that was (oh dear) equivalent to something from a tin can. How do businesses stay afloat with the mentality that canned soup is OK? With that dismal meal behind us we made our way back to the hotel. Time for rest and to prepare ourselves for a full day of sightseeing.

We woke up to a beautiful morning – first stop, Timmy Horton’s for some much-needed coffee and breakfast that satisfied the mind, body and wallet. Our feet hit the pavement and away we went, the Four Friends making their way through the streets of New York City. It proved quite the challenge for FT to look up at the surrounding skyscrapers whilst watching where he was walking, failing on numerous occasions. “Stupid tourists,” we would mockingly say to each other. Given it was Easter break, the city was somewhat quiet south of Midtown.

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We weren’t really heading anywhere in particular, just cruizin’ and admiring the streets of New York. In the Lower East Side we made an effort to stop in at Katz’s Deli for “The World’s best Pastrami Sandwich”. The sandwiches were big, but the line was bigger! We needed to eat there, it’s an institution. We surveyed the menu whilst keeping an eagle eye for nearly empty plates and ultimately a table, ready to pounce for the next available. As we all sat down and began to eat the next words spoken were, “Oh my God!” and “Oh my God!” and… (you get the idea!) Katz’s had definitely delivered with the Best! We savoured every single mouthful, again and again. Comically, the staff t-shirts read, “Send a salami to your boy in the Army”.

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Venturing onwards there was a zany store, aptly named Obscura Antiques and Oddities, that the Vades had seen on TV and were keen to check out. Before even entering, it was evident that the store would live up to its name. Quirky and fun for a look see. It was obscure, no doubt, and if ever there was a place that Chucky would come to life that would be it!! The best way to see New York City is to walk, walk and then walk some more. Slowly we made our way past some landmark buildings and structures;

 Flatiron building, a quintessential symbol of an extraordinary city

 Grand Central Terminal, one of the most iconic buildings in New York City and one of the busiest train stations in the USA

 Chrysler building, the tallest brick building in the World and one of the most architecturally stunning buildings for it’s time. Ahhhh, when the sun catches the Art Deco top it is a sight to behold.

 Brooklyn Bridge, speaks for itself….a testament to the engineering of the 1880’s.

Foot spa anyone?? By the time we made it back to the hotel we had walked 16.5kms through the concrete jungle. Time to let the hair down, grab a ‘cold one’ and watch some sports! That night – local bar, NBA and NHL playoffs. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost by 1 point and the Canucks lost also. For a moment or three it was a sad night for us all, but then again the Wings were hot and the Beer was cold….so really, we were still winning! As a new day presented itself, we start crossing off; (take a deep breath now…..)

Rockefeller Centre, Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz, Central Park (row boats are so much fun….who knew), M&M world, Guggenheim Museum, Broadway, Wall Street (Vades had some photo fun with the Bull statue), Ground Zero, Battery Park, Ghostbusters Fire House, Cosby Steps, Friends Apartment block and some New York City Hot dogs. Time then to visit the NBA store (3 years waiting) but we were devastated….”closed due to relocation,” the sign read! If you’ve ever been you’ll understand the total coolness of the life size LEGO players and bobble heads!

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Carnegie Deli, famous for Cheesecake and The ‘Melo’ sandwich, delightfully flavoursome oversized food! Have fun with the pickle….if you go, you’ll know what I mean.

Brick Lane Curry House, famous for the Phaal, hottest Curry in America. Thanks to Man vs. Food, this was a must for Vades. He is after all just crazy enough to eat something that would put mere mortals in hospital. Verbal Waiver….fair enough….holy crap what was he in for? Refer Food Reviews for the Brick Lane delights. Brick Lane Curry House – Phaal waiver, “An excruciatingly hot curry, more pain and sweat than flavour! For our customers who do this on a dare, we will require you to state a verbal disclaimer not holding us liable for any physical or emotional damage…….” When this curry is made the chef uses an industrial gas mask as the aromas while cooking this are stupidly potent. As Vade stopped half way through for a breather, he continued to battle the Phaal Curry and he conquered it. Although to this day he states that he is not the same man he was before that night.  We are not sure if that is a good thing or bad, but it certainly means the experience was memorable.

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We realised there was still so much more to see. There was not enough time and we faced up to the simple realisation….we need to go back. For the final leg we were heading our separate ways and as we got ready to say, “See ya later,” to one another, we knew this was not the end. It was simply the beginning of Four Friends One World adventures. Well, New York City, we made a dent in you but we were left wanting more. So more we will have….next time. For now, the memories will last a life time and until we meet again…..

TIPS for New York City

Statue of Liberty can be seen when you take the Staten Island Ferry – stand on the Northern side to get the best view

Check out the New York City High Line Park

Purchase a sunrise/Sunset ticket for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and Rockefeller Centre tour at same desk

Travelling North means you are heading “Uptown” and traveling south means you are heading “Downtown”

Is your phone flat from uploading pics to Instagram?  Head to Union Square and go to Best Buy and pop your phone in a demo iPhone dock

Most Bars will have happy hour between 6-7pm

Give the first Shake Shack a try – located Madison Square Park

New York City is a very walkable city

Taxi Cabs: 15% of fare.

Coat Check: At least one dollar per bag.

Bellhop: at least one dollar per bag.

Waiters, Waitresses and Bartenders: 15%- 20% of the bill, based on the service


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