Tag: #travel

Halcyon House…

Halcyon House…

Travelling, hand in hand with design, inspires me, motivates me, propels me forward, I swear it makes me a better person! …and sometimes I choose a destination based on one ‘must see’ item.

It could be a restaurant fit-out, a fashion store design, a boutique hotel lobby or even a house that I may have seen on Instagram or social media. I adore turning fantasy into reality and my life is pretty much based on this theory.

Enter stage right – Halcyon House.


Halcyon House is located in Cabarita Beach, New South Wales, Australia and was the brainchild of sisters Elisha and Siobhan Bickle. The girls purchased the property when it was the The Hideaway Motel.  At that time the idea was to turn it into a family beach house, according to Vogue Living who profiles the hotel and restaurant in the July/August 2015 issue. Instead they turned it into a 21-room hotel that evokes the feeling of a 1960’s beach motel with a modern interpretation.

Upon landing on a recent family vay-cay in Surfers Paradise, Qld, we made a sharp right turn out of Coolangatta Airport, and headed due South to Cabarita, with full intent on seeing this magnificent property in real time, and determine if it stacks up to all of the hype.

That would be a solid Yes.

It evokes chic Hollywood Glamour, but in a refined beachy Miami Keys kind of way. Bleached white buildings, striped navy and white detail everywhere, old school pink and blue bikes parked out the front for beach boardwalk rides, and the sound of the gentle waves rolling in.

The restaurant, Paper Daisy has a menu to die for. But it ain’t cheap. However, the food was fresh and quite magnificent and service was brilliant. And the Rose was chilled just right.

Think… Palm Springs. 1965

Imagine… The Classic Hamptons Style.  With a twist.

Daydream… The Bahamas. Necker Island.

Halcyon House is the boutique hotel you go to when you are wanting to step back in time and remember Summer Holidays passed. Old school. Create new memories.

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Honolulu Eat and Drinks Diary – Shopping Edition

Honolulu Eat and Drinks Diary – Shopping Edition


My better half knows how much I love to get away and travel, even if it is for only a few days, and he did not disappoint by surprising me with 6 days in Honolulu for my birthday this year. The only catch…he had to work… ‘so, take a friend’ he said. I say it was a ‘catch’, however, this sort of quick trip is pre determined to be ‘shopping trip’, so a female companion is a much better option!

I chose my mum.

Ok, so 5 days in Honolulu with the main priority to shop. The shopping in Honolulu is fantastic. The outlet mall, the luxury shopping strip, the department stores, the Ala Moana Centre…there is an abundance of retail stores and all with a bargain to be had. And with our seasons being opposite to the US, there is also the opportunity to buy the sale stock at ridiculous prices.



Day One : We landed at 10am and caught a taxi straight to the hotel. I chose the boutique hotel Wakiki Parc for this trip. Located 200m from the white sands of Waikiki, it was a cost effective 4 star hotel with good amenities and ocean views..and close proximity to everything we would need. IE..Shops. Without a thought of the non sleeping 11 hour night flight we had just done…we freshened up and headed straight out to the main strip and started shopping within 30 minutes of checking in.

First stop : H&M



H&M opened its doors on the Waikiki Kalakaua Ave shopping strip, in March 2014. This on trend, ‘disposable fashion’ store is well priced and has literally hundreds of items to choose from. We spent 3 hours in this store. That is almost embarrassing to admit, but both my 75 year old mother and myself, selected many pieces of well priced, seasonal pieces for each of us..plus my 3 daughters. Coats, jackets, gym tops, jewellery, t-shirts, shirts, sweater, pleather pants…it was pretty endless. I had 3 bags full of clothing and walked out with change from $300. H&M is way cheaper than Australia and has a much better variety.



We then ate at a late lunch – early dinner  Il Lupino. Friends of mine had recommended this Trattoria Wine Bar located just in the Royal Hawaiian Village. The village winds itself through a 3 section shopping mall connecting the Sheraton Waikiki and the Sheraton Royal Hawaiian Hotels. And apparently this is one of the best Italian restaurants on the island. Apparently that is correct. Food amazing, wine amazing, ambience amazing. Perfect way to end day one as jet lag started to creep in.

Day 2: Outlet Shopping.

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The concierge at the hotel booked 2 seats on the shuttle to the famous Waikele Premium Outlet at 930am and that was the only plan for the day. Located 30 minutes form Waikiki, it is a $15 round trip. If you are not familiar with shopping in the USA, most states have outlet malls. These malls have discounted designer stores with either end of season clearance or overstocked items at massively reduced prices. In my previous post from my last trip to Hawaii in 2013,  I wrote about how we came straight from the airport to the Waikele Outlet upon arrival into Honolulu at 9am. Now that was a very ambitious effort! This was mainly due to the check in times being after 2pm at most hotels. Now, with so many early morning arrivals from Australia, most hotels offer early check-in, especially if you mention you are flying Jetstar.


I think it is a good idea to hit the outlets first, before you go to the regular strips or malls. This is where the bargains can be picked up..and then once you have exhausted the discounted option..you can then go and pay full price.

When you value the thrill of the hunt, you know nothing feels better than bagging a good deal. Waikele Premium Outlets, stacked with discount retailers like Banana Republic, Coach, Guess, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Hilfiger and my favourites, Michael Kors and Nine West.., plus refreshments to keep the spree going. We spent most of the day here and left with way too many parcels, but each and everyone of them were a bargain. Guess Boots marked down from $195 to $34, Nine West stilettos were $169 down to $49 and the steal of the day..a Ralph Lauren Polo mens down puffer jackets were $249..scanned at $24.95! (needless to say the $249 tag is still on the jacket..a gift for my generous man who funded the trip..he doesn’t really need to know how much I saved..does he??)



Dinnertime and we were on the hunt for a Mexican Cantina…and and it didn’t take long. Off the main drag of Luxury Row and down a side street we saw the bright lights of La Cucaracha Mexican Cantina.

America sure knows how to turn out the Mexican food. I was craving a taco salad after my energy (and $$) were spent at the outlet. I love a taco salad. Sounds simple enough, but in Oz we don’t seem to include this in our Mexican restaurants menu often enough.


It is this; A deep fried flour tortilla shell, filled with beans, chilli, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, jalapeños, cheese, cilantro and sour cream. I could eat this every day of the week. All 7 days. Washed down with a traditional Margarita..and I was done. Shopping and taco salads…really, could it get any better?


Day 3 : Mall Shopping

Today was all about a run along the glorious shoreline of Waikiki, watching an episode of Hawaii Five0 being filmed on the beach at the Hilton Waikiki, swimming in the stunning blue lagoon water…and then..shopping.


So we headed to the biggest open air mall in the world and the premier shopping centre in Hawaii, The Ala Moana Centre. Commonly known as Ala Moana to its friends. And now we are friends. The Pink Line Trolley runs from various pick up points through Waikiki and for $2 and 10 minutes travel time you are safely deposited at the entrance to the mall. This is where upmarket reaches its pinnacle. Drool inside Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and Fendi. Wander through Nordstrom, Macys and Neiman Marcus. Get made over at Sephora or Mac and get flirty in Victorias Secret.


In total there are 290 stores onsite and it will take you most of the day to get through it. Luckily there are also many fine restaurants and bars to help your energy levels stay up and keep you hydrated….oh, and and did I mention..they do a fantastic Taco salad in the food court!


Day 4: Luxury Row District Shopping


Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu. Luxury Row represents an exclusive gathering of some of the finest names in international fashion. Imagine 111,000 square feet marked by palms and these breathtaking boutiques: Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Coach, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co., Tod’s and Yves Saint Laurent. And one block from the beach!

The exterior is similarly sophisticated, a streetscape and viable streetscape that is at once inviting and built. Open-air – the essence of Hawaii shopping – accentuates the experience. Slender palms stretch upward and sparkle with fairy lights by night. Needless to say..this was a window shopping day only, but it was still fun to wander the street unhurried and take in all the luxurious surroundings.


Day 5 and 6 Mall and H&m Shopping – again.

We pressed repeat. Just in case we missed anything. We didn’t.


A birthday dinner at my favourite restaurant, The Beach House, at the stunning Moana Surfrider, which is now part of the Westin chain, topped off an incredible few days. What a great birthday!

I was especially lucky to have taken this quick vay-cay with my mum, who has more energy than most 75 year olds..and most likely more clothes from H&M as well!  What special memories I have and I will be hard pressed to find a another shopping soul mate with as much stamina and bargaining power as this one!

This trip was amazing. I can honestly say, 5-6 days in Waikiki would be the greatest shopping trip to take with your mum or girlfriend. Its a ‘hit the ground running’ 5 days but achievable and well worth the effort. So, next time there is a airline sale…Just do it.


Hobart Eat and Drinks Diary Part Two | MONA

Hobart Eat and Drinks Diary Part Two | MONA







MONA. (Museum of Old and New Art)

The must do when going to Hobart is to visit Mona. Built into a cliff on the Berriedale Peninsula, (approx 30 minutes from the CBD),  it was opened in 2011 and is the brainchild of owner David Walsh, a multimillionaire gambler and art collector. Walsh has described his MONA as a “subversive adult Disneyland” and he’s not far off.






Even before you enter the museum, you realise that this guy means business. His reserved car space is loud and obnoxious. I find it intriguing and kind of cool. He probably doesn’t have a lot of friends.




You enter the museum on the top floor and descend via a spiral staircase deep into the earth. From there, visitors slowly work their way back up towards the light, as there are no windows in the galleries. Walsh’s vision is almost wacky in its ability to entertain. This is not a traditional museum, but one that is designed to sometimes shock, sometimes disturb, but overall initiate discussion.




Each visitor is given the equivalent of an iPhone on a lanyard- there aren’t any signs or labels next to the exhibits. Push a button on your electronic device and all the nearby art exhibits are displayed. Press the button for your exhibit of choice to learn about it. Hit “Gonzo” and get a summary; press “Art Wank” and receive greater detail about the piece. You may learn more about the art, the artist or even details on how the curator obtained the piece.





The sheer volume of the rock face around you is amazing. The art work is provocative and very sexual, it is still ok for kids as it is easy to by pass the super weird gallery section. But parental discretion is advised. Plaster cast vaginas line one wall, and the ‘poo machine’ is hard to miss. This section has working machinery mimicking our digestive system. It smells wretched. I feel sorry for the security guy who drew the short straw on that look out. And they call it art!






Then that part of the day when you head out to the open ‘cellar door’ grassed area. Grab a bottle of the local wine, a platter of food and relax in over sized beanbags while listening to the musical talent of the alternative band performing. I felt like I was at a rad music festival. And I was 21…It was fine.





MONA is a full on brand and business. Transport options are numerous. The Mona ferry can take you from Salamanca to the museum, the Mona Hummer can pick you up bring you to the museum and deliver you safety back to your hotel, The Mona bike hire is available from the Brook St ferry, The Mona seaplane…well, you would if you could…




Plus you can book your wedding, Christmas lunch, a function, a birthday…a conference…or hang out alone in the venue centre or restaurant. Spoilt for choice.


So next time you are in Tassie…. go to MONA…it is an intensely visceral, thoroughly engaging, conversation starter. (Oh..and if you visit the rest room…sit down and relax…then look overhead..and enjoy the image…if you dare)











Hobart Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One

Hobart Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One


Hobart. It all came about when the annual, all too familiar, family Christmas location discussion came up in July. Who’s hosting?  Where shall we go? My family is from Adelaide, so travel was imminent. However this year we decided to make a real holiday out of the festive season and go somewhere different.

The main requirement was warm weather, a big house on a private or secluded beach and hopefully with a boat ramp. A range of excellent locations were tossed around and then we settled on Hobart. Seems like a weird beach holiday choice, until you research it and discover it has some of Australia’s best bays and beaches, and even though the temperature is lower than our Northern friends, the UV is extraordinarily high…so a mild 22 degree day, is in fact, a scorcher! Nobody tells you this…You’re welcome.


Transport to Hobart is either to fly or to ferry. We decided early that we would take our boat over, so we booked it onto The Spirit Of Tasmania and my better half accompanied the boat on the boat…my brother and family had their car, so he too took the ferry…the rest of us opted for the quicker route and flew. The Spirit leaves Melbourne twice daily and takes approx 12 hrs. Docks into Devonport and then it is a 4 hour drive South to Hobart. The flight takes 1hour 20mins to Hobart direct..enough said.


‘Saltcotes’ is the amazing house we found on Trip Advisor. It is located in Opossum Bay, approximately 40 minutes out of the Hobart CBD. Secluded beach. Tick. Boat Ramp. Tick Tick. And the house…..oh my..It appeared to be a Revenge style Hampton’s home smack bang in the middle of sleepy Tassie. It was perfect. And upon arrival, it did not disappoint. This 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom Cape Cod delight, sits atop a slight rise overlooking the Derwent River and towards Blackmans Bay.


‘Saltcotes’ exceeded all expectations. A beautiful welcome hamper, spacious rooms, clean and well maintained, beach toys including kayaks, big outdoor beanbags, fluffy white towels and upmarket body wash. Its the small things that matter. I must add this place isn’t cheap. So you do expect the finer things, and the hosts Francis and Henry certainly understand that the dollar charged should be worthy the stay. And so far so good.


Planning is key for this type of family vay-cay. As we were heading into town 2 days before Xmas, we preordered all the food. The turkey, chicken, ham and pudding were all ordered in advance from Wursthaus Gourmet Kitchen in Hobart, and ready for pickup on the 23rd. A Coles online order was placed from Adelaide the week prior and the delivery of all the other food staples, arrived as we were settling in on our first night.


Opossum Bay is very sleepy. A general store and that is it. The nearest supermarket is 30 minutes away. So it pays to be organised if possible.


‘Saltcotes’ built in 1936, grandly sits alone on the Northern tip of Opossum Bay. 100m South over a small cluster of rocks is the rest of the beach lined with beach shacks and beach shacks turned into houses all dotting the foreshore. There is mixture of homes and quite an eclectic mix. Yes that is a light house at the front of the boat themed beach shack…and its actually kind of cool.

Day One Links





Greece Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One

Greece Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One




We flew out of Naples around lunchtime which was a perfect time to leave…if there is ever such a thing as a perfect time to say Ciao to Italy…which is probably actually never…but I digress… A leisurely breakfast on our terrace overlooking that amazing coastline and then we were off to the airport. We boarded our flight and within 2 hours we were touching down in Athens. I’m still amazed that within such a short time you can be transported to another country, another language, another culture, so effortlessly.




We were driven to our hotel, The Hermes, and despite its name was an average priced hotel located in the heart of Athens. Due to our quick stop over in Athens, only 14 hours, I chose this hotel because it was well priced, it was central, and it offers a roof top garden overlooking the Acropolis. We dumped the luggage and set out to see the city. First stop was the The Acropolis of Athens. Within 5 minutes we were climbing the steep rocky paths that led upwards to this is an ancient citadel. It is located on a high outcrop above the city of Athens and containing the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. Absolutely stunning. And the views across the city of Athens are incredible. Once again, a very built up city, with white rooftops in what seems like a condensed space. A stroll through the markets and then we ate at a traditional Greek restaurant. Fried feta, fried haloumi, Greek salad, souvlaki, pita bread,…washed down with cold wine. Back to the hotel for an early night to view the Acropolis all lit up with its night lights.




We were up early to head to Mykonos. I wanted to take the ferry as I felt this was the perfect way to approach the islands. Prebooked some months ago, the Blue Star Ferry departs from the dock in Pireus at 7.30am and arrives into Mykonos by 1230pm. (approx $95 p/p business class one way) If you are planning on taking the ferry, if possible, book the business class tickets, for a fraction more, you have seats, tables and a dedicated bistro area. The cheaper tickets are a free for all, with people sitting on stairs and outside the toilets etc..and as there is a no, No Smoking policy, it can get very smokey. Up out on deck, the views are stunning, again, and the coastline is jagged, unforgiving and spectacular, and the water is a mix of vivid deep blue and green. Hello Mykonos.




We arrived and were greeted by our driver, and then we were off to the Mykonos Kosmoplaz beach resort hotel. It is located on the best spot of Platys Gialos, one of the most picturesque beaches in Mykonos. Once again, I pre booked this resort based on location, it is right on the beach, the bus to Mykonos town is just outside, and it has a pool. There are a handful of resorts scattered around the surrounding beaches, and I’m sure you cant go wrong when choosing one…I really just prefer a beach view when on a beach holiday.




We wasted no time changing into bathers and hitting the sun beds on the beach and swimming in the cool blue Mediterranean ocean. It is amazing how quickly one can adapt.




The white washed architecture, the blue shutters, the ragged mountain terrain…Mykonos is like an island where time has stood still…until you realise this is THE party island of Greece. Ok…I’m down for that. Sneaky Sound System playing at Super Paradise Beach Club…Why Not? Just be prepared to party late in Mykonos…Most beach clubs start up at 12.30am..the DJ or band comes on at 2.30am..and they finish up around 6am. Lots of dancing on tables…Lots. (Upon check in to the hotel, our concierge suggested that we be out of our rooms by 2pm each day for housekeeping…)

I thought he was joking…He wasn’t. I understand that now.








Italy Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Two

Italy Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Two




To say that our pace slowed down is a major understatement…it has virtually come to a sleepy, warm stand still. After the ‘go for it’ past week exploring and walking literally hundreds of kilometres in London and Paris, Italy is the time in the journey, I planned to relax. With the sun shining, sleepy Sorrento is the perfect wind down town. Strolling the town square, shopping in the local stores, and sitting in the trattorias people watching is wonderful. But there is still so much to explore.




You cannot come to the Amalfi coast and not visit Capri. The Island of Capri is one of the most picturesque and visited locations in Campania. Geologically speaking, Capri is underlaid with limestone which has been eroded over the years forming ridge towers and sinkholes in the rock. This process over time separated Capri from the mainland.

There are a few ways to get to Capri. The Hydrofoil, ($50) the ferry, ($38) sail yourself,($300) join a tour (15-20 people) ($80p/p) or hire a boat and captain.($600). We opted for the latter, (a full day ) as it enables you to cruise from the Port of Sorrento to Capri, stopping along the way if you wish. The ferry and hydrofoil are direct routes…and crowded. The group tour boats don’t allow swimming at the grottos. Plus…if you get a loud, chatty group of American tourists..that may do my head in!




We set off with a packed lunch of Caprese paninis, Prosecco and beer… and cruised West along the coastline in water that is the deepest blue. The Amalfi coast on your left is truly stunning sight, as it winds around the cliff face. After about 30 minutes we dropped anchor at the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri. Sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern. The cave extends some 50 metres into the cliff at the surface, and is about 150 metres deep, with a sandy bottom. We were able to swim here and it was magnificent.


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We ate lunch on the deck of the boat after our swim and then continued around Capri, via the Verde Grotto and other stunning coves, and on into the main port of Capri. Our skipper pulled up at the dock and we asked him to return in 2 hours.




We then wandered through the lower streets of Capri and onto the beach (rocks) for a dip.




What an experience…sitting on rocks…or should I say…balancing on rocks. No wonder our Australian beaches are so popular, with our white sands. Getting in and out of the ocean requires steely determination and great balance. Once you get a few rocks in the right positions, however, it was surprisingly comfortable. I even lay down to catch some rays.




With an hour left you can either sit and eat gelato at the Marina Grande,(2 kids,1 boyfriend) or attack the slopes of Monte Solaro. (1 middle kid and me) The Phoenician Steps are now a major tourist attraction: 921 stone steps from where to admire the island of Capri in all its glory. There is a lift, but we opted to walk it and take in the views. Breathtaking views…literally…no breath left.

Once at the central Piazza you can shop like a star. There’s no way to avoid the shopping in Capri. From the Piazzetta the narrow streets in every direction are filled with the names of Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Fendi and Valentino, plus a range of local artisans. There are sandal-makers, Capri pant-makers, and perfume-makers – plus a whole lot of very glamorous people. Wearing a kaftan and hat, sweating profusely after the steep climb up..we were feeling less than appropriately dressed for the uber chic Euro crowd. So we took a whole lot of pictures, mopped our brow, and headed down. Much quicker and required much less effort. I did a light jog, not my choice…like a goat…due to the decline. Interesting look for those passing us on the way up, I’m sure.

Back to the Marina, back on the boat, back to the front deck to lie and snooze in the sun on the way back to Sorrento. What a lovely way to spend the day.




Footnote: The best day for day trip to Capri is a Friday. The tours usually arrive into Naples or Sorrento on a Friday, and depart on a Friday, so this is usually a quiet day. (I think the word ‘day’ has now officially reached its quota.)







Italy Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One

Italy Eat and Drinks Diary | Part One


N baie-de-Naples[1]



A very early start out of Paris, meant that we were flying into Naples by breakfast time. A quick 2 hour flight and suddenly we were flying over the amazing Amalfi Coast and into the main city Naples. I had pre booked a driver to meet us at the airport and drive us to Sorrento, where we were staying. There are 5 of us, with lots of luggage, so taxis are out of the question for the airport pick up, and the thought of hiring a car, which crossed my mind, seemed a little adventurous when we had not been to this part of Italy before.

I also pre booked a tour to the ancient city of Pompeii on our way to Sorrento. Kind of killing 2 birds with stone. We were always going to visit Pompeii, so it seemed logical to do it first, and assuming the hotel rooms would not be ready until later in the day, this was a good way to address timing and location issues. Our driver, Lorenzo, was a keen guide, and within 30 minutes we were lining up at the gates of Pompeii.




We were there by 10am. Good timing. I strongly suggest, if you plan to visit Pompeii, get there super early, or much later in the day. For one, the heat is dramatic in this area, and by 1130, the city was jammed with tourists and tours. Allow 2 hours, max, for the viewing. It’s enough.




The erupting volcano devastated Pompeii nearly 2000 years ago in 79 AD but the ash and rock helped preserve buildings almost in their original state, as well as forming eery shapes around the curled-up corpses of victims of the disaster. It really is quite a strange sight to see human forms, in protective positions, frozen in time.  Only the hardest of hearts remained unmoved at the sight of these doomed ashen people clinging to each other as catastrophe approached, mothers cradling their children, husbands embracing wives, dogs straining on leads. On a less sombre note, the architecture is quite stunning. Columns and marble, bathing areas and judicial chambers, all at a standstill. Some completely ruined, others, partially. Time has stood still in this ancient Roman town.




By 1pm, after a quick traditional pizza lunch, we jumped back in our car, and Lorenzo was expertly navigating his way around the winding cliff top streets to Sorrento. (Good idea not to hire a car)  Located in Campania, Sorrento is not officially part of the Amalfi Coast, just North, however, it seemed like a pretty perfect place to start. Lorenzo drove us through the town before taking us to the hotel, to point out the best restaurants and bars, the best gelato bar, and the town square. His advice, if the menu offers fish and chips, run. Only eat at traditional Italian bistros. Good advice.


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Our hotel, The Grand Hotel Ambasciatori, is pictured above, and is located high upon the cliff, overlooking the ocean. I spent many months, researching and planning this itinery, and I selected this hotel for a number of reasons. The location was key. A five minute walk to the town square, an ocean view was paramount, and a private beach. The lift for beach access was an unexpected bonus.




I wanted to inhale this spectacular coastline, and there are only a handful of hotels that encompassed my wish list. The view is incredible, has to be seen to be believed; and at night the flickering lights of Naples across the bay is stunning. The private beach is in fact, a deck protruding out into the ocean, with sun lounges, a bar and striped blue and white European style umbrellas. The atmosphere is perfect.




Our first night in Sorrento was spent, relaxing on the terrace, enjoying the night lights, eating pizza..again, and sipping Limoncello…It could not get much better….



Paris Eat and Drinks | Part Four |

Paris Eat and Drinks | Part Four |



Bonjour,I was going to condense the final 2 days in Paris into 1 post…but I have written too much..so Paris finale tomorrow..

This were quite possibly the most enjoyable day so far. Simple pleasures are often the best, and the last 24 hours in Paris were pure magic. A late start, with a quick morning run over the Seine whilst everyone slept, I returned home to the apartment loaded with fresh baguettes, juice, and French jam. We ate breakfast, with the tall windows splayed open, the morning sun streaming in, and the sounds of Paris below. I am pinching myself..again.




We then set off on foot for the 5km walk to The Eiffel Tower. (do not tell anyone if the distance if it is over 2 km and you plan to walk..they will whinge..I mentioned ..’a mere 20 minute walk’ …kids are on a need to know basis – enough info to get out the door peacefully)

We walked down Rue de Rivoli, one of the most famous streets of Paris. A little shopping, a little Starbucks, and then it was onto the magnificent Lourve. A few photo opportunities and then we had to high tail it to meet our guide at the tower. This stroll had taken almost 3 hours, and now we were actually racing through the streets of Paris to make our tour time of 2.30pm. Once again, I had pre booked ‘Skip-the-Line Eiffel Tower Tour’ and this allows you to bypass the notoriously long lines — and the lines at the Eiffel Tower can literally take hours. At around $100 p/p, this is a must do. The guide will take you through a special entrance and straight up the Tower. Group size is limited to 20 people per tour so book early for this very popular tour. Amazing views obviously, and on a clear day you can see white capped French roof tops for miles.




Once back down on terra firm, we went to the closest Vélib’ station. This is a self-service bike system available 24 hours a day, all year round. To access the service, buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket. For around $12p/p per day, it is a quick and convenient way to get from one side of Paris to another. The rules are..there are no rules..you ride on the road in the bus lane, you are treated like a car..and you have to go fast. Just don’t panic when a bus looms up behind you…my only advice. We spent the rest of the day riding along The Seine River. This splits Paris in two, with the Left Bank (‘Rive Gauche’) sitting to the south of the river, and the Right Bank (‘Rive Droite’) to the north.




(Paris tourist must do )…We bought a brass lock, wrote our names on it, and the date and then added ours to the thousands and thousands of lovers locks on the bridge. We threw the keys into the Seine and each made a wish. My hope is that my kids will return to Paris one day, as backpackers, honeymooners or retirees, and find ours…and remember our time together on this day.




We then rode back to the apartment, via Chanel..is there a better way to valet at Chanel than on a bike?..then have your parcel carried out to your and placed ever so carefully into your basket?..I think not!…

We freshened up again..and headed back out for a late dinner. On bikes. Then back to the Eiffel Tower for the 11pm light show. The Paris night sky lights up on the hour very hour for 5 minutes  from 10 pm until 1 am. Stunning. A midnight ride back along the Right Bank, which was still jammed with young romantics, sipping wine and strolling hand in hand…sigh..So much Parisian cliche fare in one day is almost too much to bare..almost..




Bonne Nuit….Sx




Paris eat and Drinks Diary | Part Three

Paris eat and Drinks Diary | Part Three



We wanted a mini break from the city, so I opted for a day in Versailles. Let me clarify… a day riding bikes through the Palace of Versailles. What a wonderful way to explore this magnificent area.

I pre booked with Fat Tire Bike Tours Paris and for approx $170 p/p we had the whole day mapped out for us. We met our guide at the city office in Paris and then boarded a very full, hot and crowded train for the 35 minute journey South to Versailles.




We went to the Versailles Outdoor market to buy our produce for lunch. Baguettes, hams and cheese plus a nice cold bottle of French Rose and then our guide led the way out to the Palace. It was a glorious, sunny day and the feeling of riding with baguettes and wine in the basket, felt extremely French. We made our way into the gardens and then rode around to see the magnificent estate.




The Palace of Versailles, is one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. A fine example of 18th century French architecture and art, it is one of the most visited attractions – and castles – in France, as well as being a UNESCO’s World Heritage site and must-see French landmark. The highlights are many; 250 acres of landscaped and manicured lawns and fountains,The Hall of Mirrors, The Stunning Chapel of Versailles and a lake that runs through the centre of the estate.


Chateau de Versailles - Galerie des Glaces


The Hall of Mirrors was my most favourite room. Magnificent detail. The ceiling height, the gilded gold, the pantina mirrors, the chandeliers, the sheer volume of this room was spectacular…those Louis guys sure knew how to decorate with elaborate style. The architecture of the palace needs to be seen to be believed.




The Grand Canal is the most original creation of André Le Nôtre who transformed the east-west perspective into a long light-filled sheet of water. The works took eleven years, from 1668 to 1679. The Grand Canal, 1,670 metres long, was the setting for numerous nautical spectacles and many types of craft were sailed on it. In 1669, Louis XIV ordered rowing boats and reduced models of ships. In the summer the King’s fleet sailed along it, while skates and sleighs whizzed over the frozen water of the Grand Canal in winter.

We parked our bikes on the banks of the lake and ate our picnic lunch in the sun. It was the most beautiful day, and ambience created fleeting moments of history that past though our thoughts. One could clearly imagine the people of the 16th century, strolling the grounds, with all the pomp and ceremony that only French Royals can muster. Superb.




I strongly suggest visiting The Palace of Versailles if time permits, the next time you travel to Paris. I added a day to our itinerary to fit this day into the mix. It was such a pleasant change to get out of the hustle of the city and just relax and enjoy the surroundings. A magic day.




Paris Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Two

Paris Eat and Drinks Diary | Part Two



We needed a sleep in, so at around 10am we left our apartment and headed out. Grabbed a baguette and cafe au lait and walked 50 mtrs to the Le Open Hop on Hop Off Bus Stop in Bastille.  Once again, I had pre booked these tickets and planned it for the first full day in Paris, as a way to get our bearings. The tickets are about $70p/p and you can ride for a full 24hr period. Hopping on and off as you desire.





With 4 lines to choose from, and each line passes through a different arrondissement. (district) There are also headphones for the audio guide which is helpful for the historical references. So, sitting in the sun, taking in the amazing surroundings, buildings and atmosphere, you are reminded of what an infant country Australia is. Our history is new and shiny, and France is old and weathered. Polar opposites.





After cruising through the Bastille district, and sighting the famous Hotel de Ville, we switched lines and headed down to the famous Musee D’ Orsay and past the Eiffel Tower. We then jumped off to stroll the Champs-Elysées.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, with its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, is arguably one of the world’s most famous streets, and is also one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world. Several French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. According to a much used description, the Champs-Élysées is la plus belle avenue du monde (“the most beautiful avenue in the world”)




Once again, a typically sunny, romantic stroll in Paris…until we walked past the Marriott Hotel and there was a large crowd gathering. A lot of people looking upwards to the open balconies above. Somebody famous perhaps? We stopped and asked…Who?….One Direction…And that was the end of our stroll. The kids stopped. Iphones ready to capture Harry, or Noel or Jack..or whatever their names are… The kids waited. We shopped. We waited. We waited. We then decided enough was enough and we left the crowd to wait and wait.  A quick glimpse of  the Arc De Triomphe and then walked over the Seine to catch the bus through St Germain.





The Boulevard Saint Germain is one of Paris’ most famous streets, situated on the left bank of the Seine River. The Boulevard starts from the Pont de Sully and curves into Pont de la Concorde, passing through 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements. The shops, cafes and bars seem a little more opulent than Le Marais, and I am pretty certain this is the district to stroll wearing white jeans, the classic navy and white striped t-shirt, loafers and a pastel jumper tied around your shoulders. Tres Chic. Tres French. Tres st Germaine. Last time I was in Paris, we stayed on this side of the river, and I think…I prefer it.




Dinner was early for European standards, (8pm) at Bistro St Andre, and then we were ready to call it a day. The Boulevard St Germaine, takes you straight over the Seine and into Bastille, and then it was a quick walk back home to the apartment.  Being a Saturday night, and apparently the longest day of the year, the cafes and bars were jammed and every corner had bands and singers performing. The sun set at around 11pm, but the partying in our district did not stop until the early hours of the morning.

What wonderful sights and sounds from our balcony window. Paris went all out to impress us tonight.