So, it’s been a little while…

So, it’s been a little while since my last post.

As you probably know from your own life, things can get hectic from time to time and I let things slip. Sorry! That being said, life is good.

Since my last post I’ve done a reasonable amount of travel – internationally to Taipei, London, Brussels and Kuala Lumpur and I think that is it… But mostly I’ve just been working, saving my pennies and thinking about when we might next get away. At this stage we’re planning on September – somewhere in the Pacific which will no doubt be amazing.

So, a quick round up of my travels of late:

I was anything but the healthy globetrotter in Taipei. Great city, though Karthi and I ended up extremely unwell with the worst food poisoning I’ve ever experienced in my life. Hello four days in our hotel room. Once I get over that experience I promise to share some more positive stories about the city, including seeing a panda for the first time. Words can’t describe how excited I got, even if it was in a zoo.

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London was amazing. Freezing, but amazing. I was lucky enough to visit two of my close friends and just spend time hanging out. I worked a bit, helped them with some of their wedding plans and generally just relaxed. Oh and I shopped. Tourist highlight? Seeing Big Ben covered in snow. Very different from my last few trips to London which have all been in Summer. I also really enjoyed living the London lifestyle for a week – seeing how my friends live over there was definitely a tick for the expat lifestyle.

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Brussels is still a blur. I visited for a conference but packed in as much as I could. It was great to experience that city for a second time (though my first time in winter). There was more snow here too, which always makes me happy and I really enjoyed getting to know some of my colleagues better as well 🙂 Yes, I promise I indulged in Belgian chocolate – in moderation, of course. I’ll have to share some photos from that trip in another post.

Finally, Kuala Lumpur – a quick trip to visit Karthi’s mum which was really lovely. I felt so welcomed and I really enjoyed visiting a warm destination for the first time in a while. A lot has changed since my last visit to KL in 2006, and it was very different seeing it from a local’s perspective! The food was just phenomenal as well, which was mainly thanks to the amazing hospitality of Karthi’s mum and aunts.

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I will try and draft a fuller update on each of these trips in the coming weeks! In the meantime, I’ll be planning my next trip! Any recommendations for pacific destinations?

Cheers,
The Healthy Globetrotter

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Relaxing in Strahan

In the last three weeks, I’ve been on eight planes and two bus trips travelling around Australia and Asia. It’s been a blast, but also a little exhausting!

So when we arrived in the sleepy harbour town of Strahan, Tasmania, it was the perfect place to take a break.

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Of course, there are a ton of things you can do in Strahan if you want to. Sail down the Gordon River, take a day trip to Queenstown, visit Sarah Island or head out to Ocean Beach.

We opted for relaxation in the town itself, which has a very long history (at least by Australian standards).

In an area first discovered by Captain James Kelly in 1815, Strahan is found on the West Coast of Tasmania through a 200 metre entrance to Macquarie Harbour (later named Hells Gates by convicts)! Nearby Sarah Island was a convict prison for 11 years between 1822 and 1833, before Strahan itself was founded in 1877.

For a town with such an illustrious history, you could be forgiven for thinking that Strahan may be a large town. Truth be known, the place is tiny, but it is also very beautiful.

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We used every opportunity to relax here, only taking the trip out to Ocean Beach so far as tourist activities were concerned. Often called the end of the earth, this place was wild. The windy day on which we visited probably didn’t help!

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All in all, Strahan was a lovely spot to visit, though there wasn’t all that much to do outside the standard tours (which, quite frankly, are on the expensive side of things, but don’t get me started on the cost of travel in Australia)!*

So, have you been to Strahan? What did you think? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Healthy Globetrotter

*Don’t get me wrong, Australia is the most wonderful country and I’ve been lucky enough to spend many years of my life travelling it. That said, it can be cheaper to visit the South Pacific or Asia then to take a one or two hour flight from Sydney, though that’s a topic for another day 🙂

There’s no place like home…

As much as I love to travel, there are times when it is good to be home. Right now is one of them. Having travelled across three Australian states over the last three days (at the time of writing) and with two packed trips coming up in the next month, it is nice to be home. Even if only for a couple of nights.

The immediate relaxation I felt when I walked through my door got me thinking, what are my favourite things to do in Sydney? There’s no doubt about it, I love to travel. But I really do appreciate this beautiful city I live in, so thought I might dedicate a couple of posts to the place I call home.

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This is the view from my apartment, which may give you a small hint as to why it is so nice to be home.

One of my favourite things about Sydney is its proximity to the beach, especially with the number of coastal walks available. The Bondi to Bronte walk (or even further through to Coogee if you prefer) is one of the most popular.

I don’t do the walk as often as I would like, but make a point to do it whenever I can. I’d highly recommend it to Sydney locals and visitors alike. Here’s why:

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Bondi2That’s right, the view is pretty spectacular. The walk from Bondi to Bronte is 4 km one way, or 8 km return. On a hot day pack plenty of water and always wear sunscreen – you’ll need it. 

So next time you’re in Sydney, pack some exercise gear and make the trip out to the beach to enjoy the walk. More information about the walk, including how to get there, can be found here.

The Healthy Globetrotter

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Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR from Taipei, Taiwan!

With thanks to a very generous bride and groom, we spent New Year’s Eve here:
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Now, you may sensibly ask, a roof top bar in 8 degree weather? But it was perfect and allowed us to have this spectacular view of the fireworks!

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It was a wonderful night and I hope that, wherever you are, you had a special night as well.

Here’s to a fantastic 2013. What do you have planned? My next stop is Sydney, followed shortly by London! I can’t wait!

The Healthy Globetrotter

Wine Glass Bay

Yep, you read right: Wine Glass Bay. What’s not to like about that name? Located in Freycinet National Park on the East Coast of Tasmania, Wine Glass Bay is one of the most photographed spots in Tasmania.

I was no exception to the rule, and after a 25 minute climb to the look out I went a little snap happy. We had planned to walk down to the beach as well, but honestly we were ill-prepared water wise (with less than half a litre left) and decided it would probably be irresponsible to take the journey down to the beach (we also weren’t dressed for a hike). Next time. Regardless, the view from the top was pretty spectacular:

Wine Glass Bay

After the climb we probably stayed at the look out for around 20 minutes before heading back down to the car park.

Frecyinet 5(Wow, you can really tell the difference between my iPhone and camera photos can’t you?!)

After our hike we settled into Freycinet Lodge for a drink and a rest before the drive back to Hobart (we only did a day trip, but if I had my time over I would definitely have spent more time on the East Coast). Not a bad spot to refuel:

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The whole east coast is beautiful, and it makes for a gorgeous drive from Hobart. We stopped along the way at Kate’s Berry Farm, and though I was disappointed in the lack of fresh berries for sale, the view was gorgeous, and pretty typical of our drive:

Freycinet 3If you’re heading for Freycinet, do pack appropriate hiking gear so you can do more of the walking tracks than we did. It is a gorgeous area, and I can’t wait to get down on some of those beaches one day!

The Healthy Globetrotter

A busy time of year… and a peek at Tasmania!

Somewhat unintentionally, I’ve had a bit of a break from writing. However, as I’ve just returned from Tasmania and have a whole lot of travel coming up in the next month, I figure that now is as good as time as any to get back on board!

The end of the year has been hectic, as it is for everyone I suppose. Mine has been marred with injury, with back and hip problems keeping me from my regular exercise routine, as well as a pretty hectic work schedule. That said, I’ve had a truly excellent December thus far, and can’t wait to visit my family tomorrow to celebrate the festive season properly!

I’ve spent the last week in Tasmania, in Australia’s south. It wasn’t my first visit, but given the last time I travelled there I was 16, it is fair to say that I appreciated it a whole lot more this time around!

Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, is pretty spectacular. Lonely Planet ranked it as number 7 on its list of top ten cities, best in travel for 2013. I like to think i’m ahead of the curve. Kidding!

We stayed on the harbour at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. I’d highly recommend the hotel, particularly a harbour view room as we had – the views are pretty special:

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The hotel also has a pool, which meant I was able to get in some exercise even though I wasn’t able to run. Not all bad:

Swimming pool

We spent Saturday morning at the Salamanca markets (even though it was raining) and attended a beautiful wedding in the afternoon. Thankfully the weather cleared up in time for the reception in Sandy Bay.

This photo was taken from a private residence, but I’d highly recommend heading to Sandy Bay to check out the views:

Sandy Bay

The Museum of Old and New Art (or, MONA) is a must see in Hobart. The privately held collection is very special. Some of it is a little bit controversial, but I believe there is a route around the gallery you can take to avoid the nudity and more controversial images if you choose.

We just wandered around, reading about all the art work on a handy iPhone/iPod touch (which was part of the admission fee). This was my favourite room:

Hobart 3Hobart was pretty special, and it was just the start of our trip. I can’t wait to show you more of Tassie and show you why it is rated as a such a great place to visit in Australia.

Until then, wishing you and your families a very merry Christmas (if you celebrate it), and a wonderful New Year.

The Healthy Globetrotter

 

 

Inside the Aya Sofia (Hagia Sofia/Aya Sofya)

The Aya Sofia (Hagia Sofia/Aya Sofya) is, in effect, a fascinating museum. Having served as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, a Catholic Cathedral and a Mosque (all before 1935) you could be forgiven for becoming a little confused upon entry.

This is part of its charm – it’s not often you get to see competing religons in the same space.

Aya Sofia

Aya Sofia

I visited the Aya Sofia on my Dad’s insistence (and given how long the queue was when we decided to visit, we probably would have left if not for it).

Upon seeing the queue, we were approached by a guide offering to help us skip the queue and provide a guided tour – despite initial doubts, we readily accepted. The tour was great value. From memory it was around $20 each, though the cost to enter is $13 in any event and we literally avoided about 2 hours of queue time. Further, our guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out things we would have otherwise missed. If you can afford the extra spend, I’d definitely recommend finding a reputable guide.

Aya Sofia

Our guide began by taking us around the outside of the building, which (by comparison to the inside) is modest. It’s only upon entry that you realise what you’re witnessing. It is pretty spectacular.

But how spectacular? You see, there’s a bit of competition in Istanbul between the Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque about which one is well, more beautiful. Both are gorgeous buildings in their own right, however history tells us that when Sultan Ahmed commissioned the Blue Mosque to be built (around 1000 years after the Aya Sofia), he intended to design it in a manner which would outshine the Aya Sofia. So, did he succeed?

To be honest, I don’t know. What I will say is that the Aya Sofia blew me away. From the detailed mosaics (many of which have backgrounds of gold), the marble, the size, the competing religious graphics… All were just ‘wow’. By comparison, the Blue Mosque is (relatively) moderate in its decoration. However, the two buildings are so completely different, it is almost unfair to compare them. Coupled with the fact that the Blue Mosque is still used for its intended purpose, they have a completely different ‘feel’ to each other. We spent most of our time walking aruond Aya Sofia with our mouths open in awe.

I loved both the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia. I can’t recommend visiting them highly enough. Though I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about whether Sultan Ahmed succeeded in his quest. You can compare by seeing my photos of the Blue Mosque here and my attempt to capture the Aya Sofia in this post.

Aya Sofia

So tell me, what are your thoughts on the two buildings? As you can see, we were pretty pleased with our visit!

The Healthy Globetrotter