Author Archives: Anna

Anna

About Anna

Just a girl who loves to travel, take photos and share her experiences with everyone around her. Her passion is to inspire people to step out of routine and see something new, perhaps even to think something new.

Is Exuma, Bahamas the Most Beautiful Place on Earth?

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NASA astronauts have said that Exuma, Bahamas is the most recognizable and beautiful place on the planet when seen from outer space. I guess that makes it some kind of official! Its shallow waters and hundreds of cays make the water that bright, nearly fluorescent, blue that locals and visitors alike can’t seem to stop talking about.

Seeing the “most beautiful” Exuma blue with your own eyes and swimming with the famous pigs are probably on your bucket list, so here are a few tips for your visit to the beautiful Exuma Islands:

  1. If you’re on a budget, you can stay on Great Exuma, the main island of the Exumas, which has the most options for hotels. Keep in mind that most of the island shuts down over the holidays, so if you’re visiting during this time, I’d recommend staying at either Hideaways or Peace and Plenty, which both had restaurants open when everything else was closed.
  2. If budget isn’t an issue, Staniel Cay Yacht Club is the place to be. Accommodations come with use of a boat to adventure around the cays at your leisure. Nearby, Staniel Rents also has some beautiful homes you can rent that would make for an incredibly relaxing vacation.
  3. To see the famous swimming pigs from Great Exuma, the best way is through a day tour. I went with 4 C’s Adventures and had a great time, but would have preferred a smaller group for easier photo opportunities at each of the stops. Sugar Adventures has much smaller boats and a more intimate tour experience. These tours also stop to see iguanas, nurse sharks and Thunderball Grotto made famous from James Bond movies. All of these activities are located much closer to Staniel Cay than to Great Exuma, so when I return to Exuma, I’ll definitely stay in Staniel Cay to have the flexibility of seeing the pigs when nobody else is around, and the grotto when there isn’t a major current,  etc.
  4. Stocking Island with the famous Chat ‘N Chill bar/restaurant is gorgeous and has some really sweet stingrays that love to be touched and hand fed. You can get there via a quick ferry ride from George Town, Great Exuma and is a nice place to spend a relaxing day.
  5. Last tip – if you want to rent a car to tour around Great Exuma, book it far in advance. I was told cars book up over 6 weeks in advance around the holidays.

The Exumas are pretty easy to get to with nonstop flights from Miami. It’s one of those places I could visit again and again because it’s like a natural water playground with so many critters. I was there just 2 months ago and am ready to go back! Who’s with me?

Bagan: Top Spots for Photography

French architect Pierre Pichard inventoried all 2,834 temples, pagodas and stupas in Bagan, describing the scene as “a balance between uniformity and diversity.” Upon arrival, the thousands of structures all look pretty similar with variations on a few themes, but each one really has its own personality, which morphs with the changing light throughout the day. Our travel group of four was all very into photography and after spending the first 2 days in Bagan seeing all of the main sights, we decided to spend day 3 on the search for the perfect photo spots.

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Since online resources on best photo spots were scarce, we had to do our own research. We’d first search google images for photos of Bagan that we wanted to re-create (most of which indicated what pagodas were shown in the photo but not what pagoda the photo was taken from). Armed with these images, a couple rudimentary maps and our own photos from the past couple days, we were able to figure out where almost all of the best Bagan photos were taken from! Also, though our balloon ride was rained out that day, we were gifted with the luck of getting the best taxi driver who seemed to know every pagoda worth visiting, even the really obscure ones that nobody else knew about, and we ended up having the most magical day exploring these hidden gems. Because we had such a difficult time knowing where to go, and even the local taxi drivers didn’t always know the pagodas aside from the most famous ones, I am sharing all of my secret (and not so secret) spots right here.

 

Buledi – Best Sunrise Spot

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There are actually only a handful of pagodas that you can climb up (safely). The ideal view of Bagan is from about halfway up one of these pagodas. Too low, and you only see a couple pagodas nearby. Too high, and you see a lot of land in between the pagoda spires. Halfway up, you can see the tops of many pagodas clustered together. Zoom in to get as many spires in your shot as possible. I was handicapped by my 24-105mm lens, which didn’t zoom as much as I’d wanted. If I ever go back, it won’t be without a lens that zooms to at least 200mm. I didn’t actually see sunrise from Buledi, but based on this view and the direction of the sun, I think this one is one of the best sunrise spots.

 

Pyathada – Most Spacious Spot for Sunrise or Sunset

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Crowds can be an issue for sunrise and sunset viewing, as almost every tourist in town will be climbing up one of the 5 or 6 pagodas that are able to be climbed. Pyathada has a huge, I mean HUGE, terrace that could almost fit all of Bagan’s tourists without feeling crowded. One morning, we had this place entirely to ourselves, so it seems to be more popular for sunset than for sunrise. It’s a little farther from the surrounding pagodas than I’d like for photos, but if you’re claustrophobic or don’t want to be fighting for a spot to view the sunrise/sunset, this is your spot.

 

Ananda – Beautiful, White & Amazing

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Ananda was breathtaking in its vastness and detail. The ornate spires looked different from every angle. It looks so different from the other temples in the area that it should be high on your list to visit.

 

Sulamani – Magical

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For some reason, the magic of Sulamani doesn’t translate in photos, but this was by far my favorite of the well-known temples in Bagan. Something about walking barefoot along the mossy brick grounds next to this towering structure aging gracefully was so powerful. I still can’t quite place why exactly I loved it so much so if you have been here before, I’m curious if you had the same reaction. There must be some magical spirits wandering the ancient corridors or something.

 

Shwegugyi – One of The Best Views

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The views from Shwegugyi were some of the best in all of Bagan. There were so many temples very close by that you felt like you were right in the center of the action. This would be another great spot for either sunrise or sunset, though the standing room is a bit limited so it could get crowded.

 

North Guni – Most Underrated

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I’ve saved the best two for last. These happened to be the final two stops on our visit to Bagan before we headed to the airport. To think we would have missed this if our outstanding taxi driver hadn’t taken us there! This is one of the reasons I’d highly recommend a private taxi to get around (the other being A/C). North Guni was hands down the coolest temple that you could climb up (and I’m pretty sure we climbed all of the climb-able ones), yet it was completely deserted because it’s not on many of the top temple lists. It has many levels and some tight corridors and I really felt like an explorer winding my way through hidden passageways to make it to the top level. Because we visited after some heavy rains, we were rewarded with a view of green farmland that reminded me of Tuscany, with pagodas instead of villas!

 

Khaymingha – Top Secret Spot

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This incredible cluster of stupas was our final stop, and possible the most under-visited site in Bagan. I’ve tried to find out more about it, but there is just not much information out there. The decaying, lopsided sea of stupas could not have been a more charming way to end our tour of Bagan. I haven’t included any maps because google maps does a better job than I ever could. Good luck in your Bagan explorations!

 

Be Kind To Animals: The Moon Restaurant

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Not a top photo spot, but I had to mention this amazing vegetarian restaurant with a sweet name. Everything was delicious and it’s a good place to try Burmese Tea Leaf Salad.

Cuba – Go Before It All Changes

I just returned from a dream trip to Cuba and feel compelled to tell the world to go visit NOW before the things that make it so special change. Cuba’s unique political history has frozen it in time, and in so many ways, it is still stuck in the 1950s. For blocks on end, you can wander the streets of Havana and not see anything that would give away what year you are in. I can’t think of many places I’ve visited that gave me that same experience. As travel restrictions from the U.S. continue to lighten, tourism to Cuba has been increasing at lightning speed, so amenities for tourists are on the rise. Construction is going on everywhere in Havana, which on one hand is exciting, but also means, well, things are changing!  Also, with the potential of embargo restrictions letting up in the near future, so many of those beautiful old cars are going to be traded for 15 year old Hyundais, which are just not as charming to see winding their way through Old Havana. For me, it was the decay of the buildings and the old cars that made Cuba so special, and with the potential of these things changing soon, the time to visit Cuba is now.

If you are from a country that can visit Cuba legally, lucky you. If not, and you want to go legally, you’ll need to book a tour through a licensed tour provider. Some are listed here.

I will do another post in the future about my impressions of the people, culture and politics of Cuba, but for now how about some photos to encourage you to go ahead and plan that trip you know you’ve been wanting to take!

 

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Great Ocean Road, Australia – Quick Guide

An opportunity to tour the Great Ocean Road was the main reason I was so excited to visit Australia for a second time within such a short amount of time (7 months, to be exact). You can do a day-long bus tour from Melbourne all the way to the famous Twelve Apostles and back, but I wanted to take my sweet time and be able to make spontaneous stops along the way since that’s more my travel style, so I rented a car and made it a two-day trip. Here are the highlights of the beautiful Great Ocean Road:

Bell’s Beach, famous surf beach and home of the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival

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A spontaneous stop to get a closer look at this otherworldly beauty of the Great Ocean Road (one of many reasons to avoid the tour bus)

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The highlight of the Great Ocean Drive, the 12 Apostles. I saw these beauties at sunset…

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…and again the next morning via helicopter!

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We stayed the night in Port Fairy, about another hour’s drive past the 12 Apostles. You could stay closer to Port Campbell near the 12 Apostles if you didn’t want to do so much driving, but I loved waking up in this charming little port town. I even made a local fisherman friend with an Aussie accent so thick he might as well have been speaking Nepalese, but I understood his hand gestures well enough to have him point out a nearby seal sitting in the water staring at me.

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Loch Ard Gorge, named after the clipper ship that ran aground here in 1878, leaving only two survivors stranded on this beach.

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Another highlight of the drive, Teddy’s Lookout:

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Where to eat & drink along the way:

Maid’s Pantry Brunchbar (Anglesea)

Cumberland Milk Bar (Lorne)

Sandy Feet Cafe (Apollo Bay)

 

Best Travel Apps

How on earth did we travel before smartphones existed? I rely on mine for finding my way around, coordinating meet-ups with friends, travel planning on the fly, and of course sharing photos with family and friends while on the road. Here are a few of my favorite apps that make travel more efficient and fun.

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Instagram

Well, what kind of travel blogger would I be without an Instagram account? For me, photography is one of the main purposes of travel (I almost wouldn’t go somewhere if I knew I couldn’t take photos), and I post simultaneously on Instagram and Facebook to reach all my friends and followers. Whenever I travel to a new place, I end up connecting with so many new Instagrammers who are posting and hash tagging photos from the same places, and we end up following each other and becoming InstaBFFs! I’ve even made a couple really good friends through Instagram who became real life friends (y’all know who you are). Also, I use Instagram as a travel resource to look up photos in an area I want to visit to get an idea of what I might want to do and see there. I’ve actually discovered some great restaurants that way. #thankyouhashtags

Google Maps

This one may seem obvious, but did you know Google Maps shows public transportation information for many major cities? Just put in where you want to go, and it will give you details down to the train departure time and platform number. Practically foolproof, but if for some reason you aren’t finding any public transportation information on Google, check for a local transportation app for that city.

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WhatsApp / LINE

I don’t have an international plan on my phone, so I rely on a rented mobile wifi device (which I mentioned in a previous post about the best travel gear here) and texting apps to communicate with people. LINE is the most popular in Asia, and WhatsApp everywhere else. LINE has the best stickers, which is probably not a surprise since it’s so popular in Japan, where everything is just sooo cute. Facebook messenger works, too, but with so many people using the apps, I end up using them frequently, too.

Pasteasy

I have a few ways of transferring data between my phone and computer, depending on the purpose. For the quickest transfers, I use the Pasteasy app, which lets you send text or photos between your phone and computer with just the “copy” and “paste” functions. If I have a photo on my phone that I want to use in my blog, I just hit “copy” on the photo and it automatically appears in my computer’s clipboard so I can drop it easily into a blog post. Or, if I want to text a novel to my friend about my adventures without getting a repetitive stress injury, I can type it up quickly on my computer (I type 102 words per minute, thanks to decades of piano lessons!), hit “copy” on my computer, then “paste” into a WhatsApp chat on my phone, and then my friend can enjoy wordy descriptions of my encounters with interesting people and hugging lots of animals (obviously)!

What are your favorite apps for travel?

Best travel gear

I’ve been asked by several people about my favorite travel gear – comfortable clothes, bags, electronics, etc. I tend to get caught up in wanting to show pretty pictures and don’t stop to think about all the gear I use to get those shots. So, here it is – my list of essential travel gear. This is not a comprehensive list by any means – just a list of things that make traveling more comfortable and enjoyable.

 

1. Eye-Fi SD Card

Everyone always wants to know how I get my photos from my DSLR to my phone and up to Instagram so quickly. Many new cameras have a wifi feature built in that allows you to transfer photos directly from camera to phone, but all of the camera systems I have used have been so clunky that I prefer to use an Eye-Fi SD card. With this card, I can either have all photos I take transfer to my phone automatically, or if I have limited space on my phone, I set it to transfer only selected images. To start the transfer, you just connect to the Eye-fi card like you would connect to any Wifi under your phone settings, then open up the Eye-Fi app on your phone and the photos transfer automatically. This way, I can upload photos to Instagram and facebook that were taken on my nice camera while sitting at a cafe enjoying a flat white.

2. Comfortable shoes

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When I travel, I like to walk everywhere so I can see everything between here and there. Since a typical day can involved 10+ miles of walking (with at minimum a purse and giant camera strapped around my neck), combined with my sensitive back, I need shoes that support my love for walking. I’d probably wear these even if they hadn’t made a big comeback, but I notice I’m in good company wearing Birkenstocks again! These are the only shoes that I can walk in for 10-15 miles without having any foot or back pain.

I chose the vegan version, but you can find many options for the Gizeb Birkenstock Thong here:

 

3. Mobile Wifi

After booking a flight and hotel, the next thing on my mind is how I’m going to stay connected while on the road. When traveling internationally, I’ve found that the best solution for me is to rent (or buy) a mobile wifi hotspot device. Most countries I’ve visited have these available for rent (or purchase) and you can usually pick them up and drop them off at the airport, which makes it very convenient. With my mobile wifi, I can map my way around town (google maps even shows you public transportation options with train info even down to which platform you need to catch the train from), yelp a good restaurant, and of course post photos on Instagram!

Many people choose to get a local SIM card, but the disadvantages of this route are that that not all countries let you do this, the SIM card is tied to just one phone, your phone has to be unlocked, and there is no guarantee that it will work once you are there. The mobile wifi device works with any phone and allows you to connect multiple devices to it, but you will only have wifi (not voice) so you would need a Skype type option to make phone calls. So, when planning your next international trip, just google search “mobile wifi” in that country to find the best rental or purchase options.

 

4. My favorite travel bag/purse

I have taken this Kipling Machida crossbody bag (that I’m wearing in the photo above) on every trip for the past year, and it still surprises me how useful it is with the many pockets and compartments without being overwhelmingly large. I like to pack light for a day of walking around since, as you now know, I like to walk for miles on end and am usually also carting a heavy DSLR. This bag fits my wallet, phone, mobile wifi, water bottle, snacks, hand sanitizer, a couple cosmetics products, note pad, pen, and still has compartments for random things I may collect throughout the day.

 

 

5. A good backpack

I’m still searching for the perfect travel backpack (if you know of one, please let me know!), but this High Sierra backpack has many features I love. I always buy 2 liters of water before getting on the plane, and this is one of the only backpacks that can fit the large liter bottles in the side pockets. In the main compartment, I can fit my 15″ Macbook Pro, a DSLR with 2 lenses, an inflatable airplane pillow, and snacks, leaving 2 other compartments for everything else. It has a small zippered compartment where I keep small headphones and ear plugs, and another pocket for my phone charger. My ancient Jansport backpack was more comfortable and durable, which is why I am still looking for that ideal backpack, but for now this one is pretty good. Plus, it comes in so many fun colors and I get many compliments on my gray floral print backpack.

 

6. DSLR Insert for a Backpack

There are loads of great camera bags and backpacks out there, but I wanted just one backpack that works without carrying a camera, so I decided to get an insert to turn my regular backpack into a camera bag. These inserts come in many sizes, so you can find one that fits best into your bag. This sits in the bottom of the main compartment of my backpack and can hold my DSLR with lens plus one extra lens (and a few smaller accessories). It has a padded top so you can pack other things on top of it.

 

What travel gear makes traveling more convenient for you?

 

Review of Navini Island Resort, Fiji

I did so much research online before my first trip to Fiji trying to wrap my mind around all of the options and their pluses/minuses. Since my stay was going to be so brief (only 3 days) as a stop-over on the way from San Diego to Sydney, I knew I wanted to stay somewhere near, if not on, the main island since my flight landed in Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu. I quickly ruled out a stay on the main island as its beaches were not what I had in mind for a paradise vacation, and focused my search on a smaller island not too far from the main island.

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My research led me to choose Navini Island Resort based on its small size (average 20 guests), easily accessible snorkeling (the entire island is surrounded by a coral reef), countless positive reviews on Tripadvisor (many saying they had stayed 20+ times, which is always a good sign), and relatively low cost for what you get. Nothing about the island was a disappointment, and I’ll never forget my days on that little piece of island paradise. Here is what you can expect if you decide to take my advice and stay at Navini for your next island vacation…

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When you land at Nadi airport, Henry will pick you up from the airport and drive you 20 minutes to the dock where you will board the Navini boat for the 30-minute ride to Navini Island. The entire island is surrounded by a coral reef, so if the tide is low and the boat can’t clear the reef, you will transfer to a small dinghy for the last 50 feet or so.

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As you get near the island, you will take off your shoes and socks in case your feet get wet when stepping from the dinghy to the dock – vacation officially begins when feet touch water! Several staff members will be waving and shouting “Bula!” from the dock to welcome you to the island. They will give you a tour of the island and walk you to your bure (cottage), and sometime later your bags will magically appear at your door.

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Every day, your room will be decorated with freshly picked hibiscus and frangipani (plumeria), but you probably won’t spend much time in your room because the hammock, beach lounger and ocean beckon.

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You will have 3 meals a day in the dining area with all of the other guests. During my stay, there were only about 12 guests each day, and full capacity is only 30, so you can get to know other guests at meal times or dine privately if you prefer. With over 30 staff members for our small group, we were well taken care of as you may imagine. Meals are customized to your preferences, and the staff easily accommodated my vegan diet, on several occasions surprising me with vegan ice cream or pancakes made specially for me!

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Your days will become a routine of lounging in the hammock between your bure and the ocean, chasing resident hermit crabs, napping in the beach lounge chairs under tiki umbrellas, scouring the shore for beautiful shells as they wash up at high tide, floating in the sparkling turquoise waters, and hunting for Nemo fish with your snorkel gear on. However you spend your days, there will be plenty, or nothing, to do – whichever you prefer.

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If you are worried about being bored on this 2.5-hectare pile of white sand, there is an abundance of water sports equipment available on the island (all included in the price) – paddleboards, kayaks, seacyles, hobie cats and a body board thingy with a window so you can “snorkel” without putting your face in the water. I tried them all! If you don’t know how to sail, one of the nice staff members will take you out for a lovely sail around the island on the hobie cat (tip: they will climb a tree and grab you a fresh coconut, too!).

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There is also a daily outing to a nearby village or reef for snorkeling, and a spirited game of beach volleyball at 4pm. After dinner, guests and staff congregate in the dining area to drink kava (a mildly sedative drink made from kava root) and play Vidi Vidi (a board game kind of like billiards played with small discs). Personally, I was so tired from chasing fishies with my snorkel fins on all day that I barely made it through dinner with eyes open.

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I learned so many things on my brief stay at Navini – I learned that hermit crabs come alive in the evenings, that you can swing yourself in a hammock if you lie across it diagonally and use your foot to push against the strap, that “paw paw” means papaya and Fiji’s are delicious, that “bula” means hello and “vinaka” means thank you in Fijian, that water really can look like turquoise even without an Instagram filter on it, and that Fiji has some of the warmest, kindest people on earth.

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Just a few practical tips: 1) if you check the weather for Nadi, Fiji before your trip, don’t fret that it shows rain every day – it rains in Nadi much more than it rains on Navini Island; 2) note any deals on the website for free transportation to and from the island and book your stay accordingly (stay 4 days, get 1 direction free; stay 7 days, get 2 directions free); 3) if you go snorkeling at the sand cay on one of the morning outings, ask the guy to drop you off at the edge of the reef so you don’t have to swim to it – when the tide is low, you are swimming dangerously close to the coral which can damage the coral and your knees (plus, it’s a long swim to the reef edge).

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(Photo by Steve Ford)

 

I hear it can rain on the island frequently, as in any tropical location, but during my stay, the only water drops were the tears from my eyes as I boarded the boat and waved goodbye to paradise. Vinaka, Navini, for the beautiful memories.

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The Best of Fremantle, Australia in One Day (Guest Post by Ines)

I couldn’t be more excited to share with you a guest post from this lovely blogger in Australia named Ines. She lives on the west coast of Australia in Perth and is sharing with us her tips on visiting the port city of Fremantle. Having just returned from a visit of just the east coast of Australia, I am so excited to visit the west coast someday, especially this cute little seaside town! You can also check out her gorgeous blog at Inesphere for more post on Australia and beyond.

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My first visit to Fremantle was back in 2011 during my trip to Western Australia. A few years later, I found myself living here and I’ve become a lot more familiar with how best to spend a day in Fremantle. Just 30 minutes from Perth’s city centre, Fremantle is one of the easiest cities in the world to explore. It’s rather easy to lose track of time while making your way through the Cappuccino Strip down to South Freo and back along the coast.  If a day is all you have, here are a few tips on how best to enjoy this buzzing port city.

 

Wander Around

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Before sitting down for a bite to eat or just after breakfast, explore the city through a self-guided walking trail. Start with the Capppuccino Strip and make your way around side streets down to the Esplanade Hotel and the Park where you can ride the Ferris Wheel for a bird’s eye view of the surrounding areas. From there, slowly make your way back to check out street art and murals and unique little shops. Visitors’ Centre in the heart of the city will have maps and often cafes will have copies of maps outlining shops and cafes.

Explore the Markets

esplanade hotelA must see when visiting Fremantle are the Markets open Friday through Sunday. Here you will find endless array of fruit, veg and food ranging from Spanish Paella to cupcakes and everything in between. It tends to get busy, so it’s best to visit early to avoid the crowds.

 

Visit the Hidden Cafes

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One of the best things about Fremantle is the eclectic mix of cafes and restaurants known for their unique style many having outdoor seating. Must try cafes include Yocal, Two Rubens, the Attic, Raw Kitchen, Chalkys and if you wander down to South Freo look out for Lenny the Ox, Di Bella Coffee Roasting House, and Ootong and Lincoln just to name a few. I have had many visits to  at each of these and can tell you they are gorgeous and serve delicious meals. Perhaps, have a breakfast at Yocal and a dairy and sugar free dessert at the Raw Kitchen.

 

Arvo at Little Creatures

little creaturesAfter exploring the shops, galleries and cafes, enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the Little Creatures Brewery. A chubby cupid with a bow is the symbol of this iconic Fremantle boutique brewery. They serve great drinks and food to match. It’s set on the waterfront and my go to place when having visitors.

 

Fishing Boat Harbour

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Just next door to Little Creatures is the Fishing Boat Harbour. Many come for fresh fish and chips, but I would recommend enjoying a cone of ice-cream while walking around the harbour snapping photos of big boats and then heading towards Bathers Beach and WA Maritime Museum.

 

Lounge on the Beach

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Outside the city centre, you will find gorgeous beaches and bike trails that lead to them. Two of my favorites are Port Beach and South Beach. In the summer, these are great places to cool off and unwind. For those with more time, taking a 30 min ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest Island is a must. The island is surrounded by beautiful beaches and shoreline ideal for diving and snorkeling.

How to Beat the Post-Vacation Blues

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Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but coming home from a really good vacation can put me into a funky mood for a few days, at best. The more your vacation shifts you away from your routine, disconnects you from the computer, or opens your eyes to a culture vastly different from your own, the harder it is to transition back into regular life. Here are a few things I do to help make the transition easier:

 

1. Continue the mindset of exploration

When traveling, you are constantly seeing new sights, walking down new streets, and trying new restaurants, etc. When you return home, rather than slipping into your old routine, use the momentum from vacation mode to try a new place or walk/drive a different way to work. This helps to keep up the excitement of discovering new things that you had while traveling.

 

2. Talk to people about their vacations

Friends always want to know about my vacations when I return home, but I also want to know about theirs. Hearing about their travels is exciting, and I make mental notes of places I may want to travel in the future. I especially love to hear about other cultures, and we can share our observations about the vast and various cultures of our beautiful world.

 

3. Bring the scent of your travels home

Scent is the most powerful of our senses related to memory, so I always buy a little something that smells like the place I visited. I just returned home from a trip to Fiji and Australia, and our resort in Fiji used this yummy coconut soap by Pure Fiji so I bought a few bars of it for myself at the airport. Whenever I use it now, it takes me right back to our little hut on the beach, showering sand off my legs.

 

4. Start planning your next adventure

This is really what helps me the most with my post-vacation blues. The day I returned home from Australia, I started reading a guide book about New Zealand. A trip to New Zealand may just be a daydream at this point, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start researching and planning for it. Planning a trip can take months to figure out exactly what sights you want to see, how long you will need in each location, etc., so why not start when you aren’t under a time constraint? Even if your next adventure is something small and local, having something to look forward to really takes the edge off the post-travel downer!

 

5. Connect the dots

If you made any friends while traveling, take a moment to send them an email or connect with them on social media so you can stay in touch. Send them a few photos of your trip, especially if you have any photos of them. I love seeing my friends’ status updates and photos on social media from all over the world. You never know when your paths might cross again in the future – you now have friends to visit the next time you travel to their area, in your hometown or somewhere unexpected!

What do you do to beat your post-vacation blues?

Succulent Cafe – Oceanside, California

Some places draw you in from a single photo. I was browsing Instagram one day and saw a picture of someone drinking coffee surrounded by walls of beautiful succulents on all sides and when I discovered it was in the San Diego area, I was so thrilled and couldn’t wait to go.

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Succulent Cafe in Oceanside is a succulent shop in the courtyard of the Apotheque Spa with a coffee cart at the back. It’s more about the plants than the coffee, and there are several tables where you can sit amidst the carefully crafted succulent pots.

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Many of the succulents are lovingly planted in unique containers, and all are for sale which means if you fall in love with one (or many), you can take them home with you!

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Sitting in the courtyard is a magical experience. If you are anywhere near the area, I hope you will stop by and appreciate the artistry that went into creating this cafe/shop. Sometimes exploring your own neighborhood can reveal the most surprising finds. What have you discovered in your own neighborhood?

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