Tuesday, 31 July 2012

GLOUCESTER - Seeing My Home City Through The Eyes Of A Traveller

Many many moons ago, before I set off on my first travelling adventure I never saw where I live through the eyes of a traveller. Everything was better than being in the UK. The grass was indeed greener in my eyes. Now I travel the UK, as a traveller. And while my neighbours are oblivious when I mention hidden gems to them in their home city I am glad to see the world differently now.

Many people go into Gloucester city, go to the same commercial coffee shops, known throughout the world, go to the same department stores in every single city in the UK and then they return home. Everything is safe, not many people go exploring any-more.

So here is a little tour of the City of Gloucester through my eyes. It may be a little different to your usual city tour but I tend to look at lots of nooks and crannies when travelling.

Gloucester has a whole lot of history to explore, a very ancient setting with a fabulously beautiful Cathedral. Gloucester Cathedral is one of my favourite Cathedrals in the UK and the setting of many TV programmes and more importantly (for me as I am an absolutely obsessive fan), the set for the famous Harry Potter movies.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

REVIEW : Aspinal Of London Deluxe Travel Set - from Backpacker to Flashpacker - A little luxury sometimes goes a long way

Sometimes when travelling you may want that slightly more sophisticated edge to your travelling experience: visiting a fabulously stylish city for example or a luxury hotel. As a backpacker and now a flash-packer* (see here for a wiki definition.) I relish good quality travel products. Aspinal Of London does everything with style.

Earlier this year I was blessed with the good fortune to win a deluxe travel gift-set from a page on Facebook and I was blown away with the sheer quality of the travel items they sell.

I think I have a bit of an inner travel 'snob' coming out of me in my middle 30's and this luxurious set ticked all my happy travelling boxes.

So I bring to you the Aspinal of London Deluxe UK Travel Collection. Time to don those cool shades, step into the luxury traveller's world for a moment, and set sail for some distant shore.

One thing I love about good companies is how they bring the product to you. Look at how beautifully wrapped this gift-set was when it arrived at my door.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The East Coast - Queensland & The Great Barrier Reef

On board the boat after my amazing Great Barrier Reef snorkelling experience.

After my brief stopover in Tennant's Creek, my journey took me to Port Douglas via Cairns. I went out with a few from the hostel to a pub in the city by the water and made the ultimate traveller's nightmare mistake. I left my passport with the bar owner (as they needed it for my bar tab) and the next day my coach was leaving at 11am. I did not realise until the last minute and had to panic dash with all my luggage down to the pub. I then discovered the pub was closed until 11am and I had to knock on lots of doors. I was in a real old panic. Never leave your passport anywhere, big no no! Keep it on you at all times.

So beyond the panic of Cairns I arrived into the very beautiful Port Douglas. Port Douglas is the only place in the world that has two World Heritage Sites right on its doorstep. Daintree and Cape Tribulation rainforest and of course one of the great wonders of the natural world, The Great Barrier reef.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The West Coast of Australia & Darwin

After Melbourne, I took a coach to Wagga Wagga where I was picked up by a complete stranger.  I met Ross on-line and he was going to drive me across the Nullabor Plain for 2-3 days stopping at Adelaide on the way to Perth.

Indeed, I was a crazy lady back then, not really considering my safety. However, I trusted my gut intinct after talking with him online and we had a long road-trip across wild Australia.

My vehicle of transport across the Nullabor Plain to Perth from Wagga Wagga which is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

On the way to Perth we stayed for a couple of nights in Adelaide, with distant relatives of my Mum.  A lovely family, and it was really nice to hear the familiar Geordie accent of my Mum's cousin.

Adelaide was a nice enough city, nice beach, nice city area, all rather - nice. I would say Adelaide is a place where families settle down and the older generation go to retire. It may have changed 12 years on but it had the feeling of a safe city. This is not a bad thing just not a place that stood out for me.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Melbourne & My Working Holiday

Melbourne - The Garden City - The Yarra River (Copyright 2000 - Kelly Martin - All Rights Reserved).

I left Sydney with so many fond memories, It was scary arriving in a new city again. I had made myself at home on Crown Street. I guess it is part and parcel of being a traveller, never getting rooted for too long, otherwise you lose your sense of purpose, your sense of journeying.

A university friend whom I briefly knew from back home, had moved into our Crown Street house near the end of my stay there. He seemed okay and was planning on moving on to Melbourne so we took the journey together. A long journey from Sydney to Melbourne, lots of stops along the way, sleeping with matchsticks in my eyes, I arrived in Melbourne a bit the worse for wear. (I realise I am not someone who can sleep on public transport - unless I have a horizontal bed, mainly because I have long legs and also because I get so excited that I want to keep my eyes open the whole time in case I miss something enroute).

Arriving in Melbourne, we had booked into the main backpackers' hostel in the city for a couple of nights, into a twin room (bunk-beds). The hostel it was not a good hostel (I cannot remember the name of it but it was extremely large and in the centre of the city). Potentially okay if someone does not want to be social at all OR has arrived with a bunch of friends. For someone coming from a social experience of a share home it was rather like arriving into a school dormitory building where nobody spoke. The kitchen was huge, no intimacy at this backpacking hostel. I would say a passing-through hostel. Not my kind of hostel. I realise I prefer a more intimate touch. So if you are thinking of using hostels, consider what it is you are looking for and then make your choice.

Melbourne has many fun and wonderful large sculptures dotted throughout the city, great for photo opportunities which simply makes the city a very cultural and artistic haven for travellers.

Sydney, Australia - On Being A Young Wild Backpacker

My housemate Kevin and I (with our entire house) in the Trinity Bar on Crown Street Christmas Eve 1999 (lots of happy memories).

So, while this may not be the face of an experienced traveller, it is the face of a youthful, ready-for-adventure young woman, very inebriated first-time traveller (aka me!). One month into my trip on Christmas Eve 1999.

My arrival into the big beautiful landscape of Australia happened in a whirlwind of unexpected problems. Like many a traveller can relate to, hiccups indeed happen along the way.  After months of planning I had set up a week in a youth hostel and then I planned to move onto my pre-organised (via the early internet) share-home in Crown Street, Sydney.

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