Travel
April 19, 2020
Flippantly taking our lives in our hands (according to everyone I told I was going to South Africa), we rented a car and drove from Johannesburg airport to Kruger Park. The other drivers were fine, everyone drives on the left (unlike in some countries where side of the driving road seems to be more of a suggestion than a rule), and the roads themselves were grand.... Read More
April 8, 2020
The positive of going to Athens early March when Coronavirus was just starting to kick off is there were only four other tourists trying to see the acropolis. Negatives of going to Athens early March when Coronavirus was just starting to kick off were that it was cold, raining, and everyone was constantly reminding you about Coronavirus.... Read More
There are lots of reasons people go on holiday. Mine is because we found a business class flight to South Africa for cheaper than economy. I've never flown business class, but most airlines make you walk through business class on your way to your middle-aisle-middle-seat right over the wing. So I know what I've been missing.... Read More
Aug. 9, 2018
Port Douglas is about an hour's drive north of Cairns and is supposedly nicer than Cairns. We wouldn't know, as all we saw of Cairns was the airport. The first thing that struck me about this part of Australia was how tropical it was. It was like being in Bali, except everything was in English and the people are all rich. The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas along the coast is spectacularly beautiful, with jungle leading down to an expansive beach. Filled, according to many signs, with jellyfish.... Read More
July 5, 2018
When we lived in Australia, we never saw the outback. This was due to a series of circumstances but the dominating factor was that we had a car in Melbourne and didn't want to rent a second one in the Northern Territory. If we'd stayed longer we would have made it up North. Not getting there was one of my biggest Australian regrets... Read More
June 10, 2018
I've been to Adelaide once before. When we lived in Melbourne, Dan and I adopted an Australian attitude to driving and drove 8 hours to visit my cousin Frances and her boyfriend Rob. This time, as we live in Edinburgh, it was easier to fly. Aforementioned cousin and boyfriend became fiances, so we were going for their wedding. Frances has immense organisational skills. On top of the actual wedding, she had arranged wall to wall activities and barbecues for the guests, as many travelled from pretty far.... Read More
Jan. 2, 2018
Since we were only spending 2-3 days in each place, and had planned to visit 7 places over our three-week period, we thought we'd end our trip with a nice relaxing beach-front hotel in Drake Bay. Two hours from Manuel Antonio is a town called Sierpe, that no one in our trendy hostel had heard of. We'd planned to get a bus, but left it too late and all the seats were booked.... Read More
Nov. 19, 2017
We flew from Arenal to Drake bay, via San Jose, in a Cessna Caravan. These are tiny little planes with 10 seats, no tea trolley, and about 3 jokes about the tea trolley per flight. We sat right up the front and could watch the course and weather maps... Read More
Nov. 13, 2017
Defying all expectations, we made it out of Colombia alive. Our first Costa Rica stop was Arenal, an area of tropical national parks surrounding a volcano. Getting there from Cartagena was standard. Deathly early flight to Bogota... Read More
Nov. 6, 2017
Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, Cartagena is arguably a trip through Colombias tourist centres (a phrase I use lightly as Colombia is still far from touristy) from least to most attractive. I highly recommend this route, and not the reverse... Read More
Nov. 3, 2017
Santa Marta is easy to pronounce, which was a great start. We had booked a handy 11am Avianca flight from Medellin to Santa Marta, so we'd arrive at 12. Avianca had other ideas, and booted us off our nice flight and put us on a 7am to Bogota where we could wait for a bit, until a 10am to Santa Marta. Not so convenient.... Read More
Nov. 1, 2017
Medellin is pronounced Med-eh-jean, you uncultured swine. So now weve both embarrassingly learned that after pronouncing it wrong to several locals, lets continue. Edinburgh should have prepared me for all the bloody hills in Colombia... Read More
Oct. 28, 2017
Bogota introduced me to a new, unfamiliar friend: altitude sickness. Bogota is 2640m above sea level, which means the air is thinner and you feel like you have a permanent hangover. However the feeling is probably not dissimilar to how one might feel after having... Read More
Dan is a big fan of Narcos, which doesn't exactly promote Colombia as a top tourist destination, but someone once told us it was nice and didn't deserve its reputation. That was all the convincing we needed. A couple of years ago I watched a TV show where Dara O'Briain and Ed Byrne travelled around Central America and ever since thought Costa Rica looked great. So our holiday plan: 9 days in Colombia (Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta) and 9 in Costa Rica (Aranal, Manuel Antonio and Drake Bay).... Read More
Dec. 15, 2015
Seven nights was the longest we'd stayed in one place since leaving Australia. We'd read that a week is a good amount of time in Havana. This is true, but it probably wouldn't hurt to see more of Cuba if you could. The idea of Cuba fascinated us. We wanted to see it before the embargo with the US was lifted, while it was still stuck in the 50s with no Starbucks and no Internet (okay, if I'd had a choice, I wouldn't have chosen no Internet).... Read More
Dec. 6, 2015
Mexico was only ever meant as a route to Cuba, but we figured we may as well see a bit of it so we booked 4 days. Originally we were going to stay on the beach in Cancun but Dan rightly insisted I'd hate that after one day so we stayed in Mexico City instead.... Read More
Nov. 24, 2015
Antigua is another old, scenic city surrounded by volcanoes. This one is particularly scenic and you can watch Fuego erupt a bit every few minutes. The first time I saw it (it's just puffy black smoke) I panicked, wondering why no one else was panicking.... Read More
Nov. 23, 2015
Our trip from Flores to Lake Atitlan involved driving through a bit of Guatemala City. I admit to feeling a little wary when the driver stopped at a garage so we could use the toilet. It was just people paying for petrol and buying chocolate bars.... Read More
Nov. 22, 2015
When we told people we were going to Guatemala they reacted with shock, mingled with trying to cover their shock, followed by sadness that they'd never see us again. That's sort of how I reacted when Dan suggested Guatemala in the first place. It doesn't make many of those 'Lonely Planet Top Ten' lists. Unless the list is 'most dangerous cities that you should never visit'.... Read More
Nov. 18, 2015
We spent two days in Chicago after South Bend. Dan and the rest of his wedding friends lived in Chicago for a summer during college so they found everything nostalgic. I'd never been there before so irritated everyone by stopping to photograph all the buildings. It's a nice looking city centre. Most of my Chicago knowledge comes from the Blues Brothers so I was happy to see the elevated (L) train line... Read More
Nov. 16, 2015
Having the USA in the middle of our tropical adventures was a little jarring. South East Asia, boiling heat, mosquitoes, no one speaking English, then suddenly cold, easy, Western Chicago. I would have much preferred to put Chicago at the end but our friends Laura and Niall were very inconsiderate and had their wedding on the 7th of November.... Read More
Nov. 12, 2015
If we'd known better, we would have skipped Hue and spent the extra day in Hoi An. But the only way you get to know better is by making the mistake and going to Hue in the first place. Hoi An is another town in the French colonial style, but this time it's absolutely beautiful. It looks, as Dan's friend Eoin described it, like a fairy tale. Films should be set there. They probably are. I haven't seen that many films.... Read More
Hue
Nov. 5, 2015
Many months ago, for reasons that now elude us, we planned one night in Hue. It's on the mid-Vietnam coastal tourist trail so that was probably a factor. But we in no way considered anything to do with timing and ended up spending roughly 2 hours seeing Hue.... Read More
Nov. 4, 2015
Phong Nha is a region of Vietnam known for its large caves. Unfortunately it's also known as the area that has the most amount of leftover explosive ammunition from the war. It's not hugely dangerous, we were told. Not landmines. Mostly unexploded bombs. If they didn't explode on impact they're not likely to by stumbling across them in a field.... Read More
Nov. 2, 2015
No one in Vietnam calls it Ho Chi Minh. All the written signs still say Saigon. Saigon is a much nicer name anyway. Saigon can best be summed up by Dan's thoughts at the end of our first day: "How do you cross the fucking road?" There are no apparent road rules and an endless stream of traffic, mostly scooters that come in both directions.... Read More
Oct. 29, 2015
There isn't a whole lot to see in Kampot itself, but it's a good place to rent a moped and roam around on your own. Unlike the cities in Cambodia, the traffic isn't like a relentless herd of stampeding buffalo scooters. Bokor Hill is an hour-ish scenic drive from Kampot centre.... Read More
Oct. 27, 2015
If my last post seemed a bit of a downer, we spent our only day in Phnom Penh going to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (commonly known as S21 - Security Prison 21) and the Killing Fields. S21 is a former high school, which became a torture prison for the Khmer Rouge from 1975 - 1979. Now it's a museum chronicling the Khmer Rouge/Pol Pot genocide. It's well laid out, keeping some rooms similar to their previous states... Read More
Oct. 25, 2015
I had no idea what to expect of Cambodia. A well-travelled friend of mine once told me it was her favourite place in Asia, but people have all sorts of crazy opinions. I'm sure Bangkok is someone's favourite place in Asia. I sort of pictured Phuket, but poorer.... Read More
Oct. 23, 2015
Awful. All they ever seem to have is Lipton. I'd even take Twinings over Lipton. We have our own Tetleys teabags (we got less picky in Australia) but this isn't realistic because we never have milk. Stress.... Read More
Oct. 22, 2015
My first impression of Bangkok was quite good because there was only one taxi rank at the airport. Upon landing in Phuket we were greeted with approximately ten different taxi stands, all with people shouting fare offers. What are you supposed to do? Who do you trust? Not so in Bangkok. One taxi and they're all metered. Easy.... Read More
Oct. 18, 2015
Ko Yao Yai is a small island in Phang Nga Bay where we spent two scenic nights, and ate 2 immense dinner buffets. Our room had a view over the bay and we watched a spectacular sunset. But no one cares about that.... Read More
Oct. 15, 2015
There is a world of difference between what you get when you Google Phuket and what you get when you go there. The airport is in the North, and we were staying in Kata, in the South so we got a colourful and expensive taxi drive down through the island. With each decrepit poverty-laden town we passed through... Read More
Oct. 12, 2015
A few people told me not to bother with Singapore, as it was just a big city. What they didn't say was that it's a big city that looks like a futuristic utopia straight out of pretty much any Sci Fi film. I pretended I was in space for much of the trip.... Read More
Oct. 7, 2015
It was with an overwhelming amount of organisation (and some sadness) that we finally left Melbourne. Only now do I appreciate the value of having parents to leave all your stuff with so you don't have to deal with it. When we left Ireland, packing was traumatic, but at least I didn't have to decide what to do about 3 half empty bottles of shampoo. It seems such a waste to throw them away.... Read More
Oct. 4, 2015
Last year we got a tour bus from Melbourne to the Twelve Apostles via the Great Ocean Road. You can read about it here, when I was a lot less verbose in my blog posts. We really wanted to drive ourselves so told Laura it was an unmissable opportunity, bundled her into the car and off we went.... Read More
Sept. 22, 2015
When I lived in Galway I'd often drive across the width of Ireland to Wicklow for the weekend. It was lengthy and boring. What I didn't realise was that there's no such thing as a long drive in Ireland. Australians wouldn't think twice about 2.5 hours Galway to Dublin.... Read More
Sept. 4, 2015
In classic Irish fashion, my friend Laura decided to come to Australia too. Her presence, combined with my rather flexible working hours AND the fact that I'm leaving soon, mean I constantly drag her on sightseeing roadtrips. She's been here about a week and I won't leave her alone. She just wants to sleep but no, there I am, in the car, bringing her on another roadtrip.... Read More
Aug. 1, 2015
"You'll hate skiing," everyone told me. Incessantly. Why is everyone so determined that I would hate skiing? Is it my general dislike for exercise? The outdoors? Fun? Well I ignored the negativity and went skiing in Queenstown. Queenstown is a scenic place. It's small, certainly not city-sized, and home to mostly Irish people I assume because all we heard were Irish accents. Unless you wanted to do an activity, it wouldn't be worth visiting for more than a few days.... Read More
July 27, 2015
I have some Middletons living in Moteuka, North of the South island, so naturally we decided to impose ourselves upon their hospitality, demanding food and wifi and entertainment. I hadn't seen these particular Middletons since I was about 9, and it was nice to see that my cousin John had managed to become the only tall person on the whole Middleton side of the family.... Read More
July 23, 2015
Wellington will forever be ingrained in my mind as "The city where I didn't get to try an Occulus Rift". I've wanted to try out virtual reality ever since I was 10 and RTE used to show The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Wellington is a small, rather scenic city. It surrounds Wellington harbour and has lots of mountains around, which makes you feel like you're never really in a bustling city centre.... Read More
July 19, 2015
In spite of the fact that we do a lot of travelling, Dan and I never seem to learn anything. Here's my number one tip for aspiring travellers: Plan Everything. Do not assume you'll 'recognise it when you get there'. Do not assume transport will be easy. Do not assume you don't have to book it. Do not assume it will actually be open. Check the weather. While many of these affected our New Zealand trip, today we will be dealing with 'Do not assume you don't have to book it'.... Read More
July 18, 2015
Ignoring the fact that I lived in Ireland for 25 years and never visited France, which you can literally drive to, we figured it would seem ridiculous to not visit New Zealand while living in Australia. So we arrived in Auckland and added a new element of stress and excitement to our travel adventures: A hire car. The plan being to drive from Auckland to Wellington, stopping off for a few different things. From Wellington we would fly to Nelson where we would be picked up by my aunt and uncle for 2 days of family fun in Motueka.... Read More
June 16, 2015
Since arriving in Melbourne, Paulette, a family friend of Dan's, has been wonderful to us. She feeds us, teaches us about driving with the trams, and yesterday brought us to Healesville Animal Sanctuary using two of her family passes. 'Now remember,' she said to us as we approached the top of the entry queue, 'you're Michelle, and you're Rob.' Suddenly I panicked. The woman scanning the passes looked awfully stern. I didn't have an Australian accent. I didn't know my last name. She was going to see right through us and ban us from Healesville forever.... Read More
Since I lived in Melbourne until I was 2, logic would dictate that I had 2 birthdays here already. On my first birthday, my parents brought me for a walk on Frankston beach where I waddled around in a small red jumper. A nice idea, we all agreed, would be that I spend my third (Australian)/28th (real) birthday doing the same. Sadly I don't own a red suit.... Read More
Maybe it's because Australians aren't really into tea, so they don't realise the merit of a top quality biscuit to dip in the tea. Whatever the cause, Australians are terrible at biscuits. And chocolate. Chocolate especially because it all has that non-melting agent.... Read More
I've been in Melbourne for one month now. As it turns out, moving to another country is quite different to travelling or holidaying. Before I left I pictured us driving up the Great Ocean Road in the cheapest working car we could find, embracing koalas, splashing in beautiful rivers, seeing the Great Barrier Reef... So far I've managed to almost completely replicate my life in Galway and we haven't left Melbourne city.... Read More
I got this HP620 laptop 5 years ago. The fan makes a lot of noise, the speaker doesn't work, the wireless network adapter turns itself off and sulks for random periods and I've reinstalled Windows 3 times. But we would have been truly lost without it.... Read More
May 19, 2015
Dan and I sat in a pizzeria in Tokyo on our last night before leaving for Indonesia. All that remained of my blandest-of-the-bland pasta in tomato sauce was lumps of aubergine and courgette, two of the many things on my list of things I hate to eat. It's not the taste. They have none. But they're squishy and this is upsetting. I was in a sombre mood because I (thought I) knew that no matter how tough Japan was for food, Indonesia was going to be a nightmare.... Read More
May 18, 2015
The jungle countryside is idyllically beautiful and extremely green. The people in Sumatra were friendly, chatty, hospitable and had excellent English. Poverty there is depressing. We drove through a lot of tiny towns on crater-filled dirt roads, mostly comprised of wooden shacks, but almost all of them had a brand new shiny mosque.... Read More
May 17, 2015
My Dad enjoys going on motorbike trips around various European countries, and as such had some valuable advice to impart. Write notes on things you do every day, because you will definitely forget everything, and youll have no semblance of a timeline... Read More
May 11, 2015
Everything in Indonesia is really cheap compared to Ireland. Or Australia. Or the Western World. You'll hear people say this. I say it. Everyone says it. The price discrepancy allowed us to book a few nights in a beautiful... Read More
May 10, 2015
The orangutan portion of our jungle adventure took place in another village called Bukit Lawang. We pulled up to a reception building in a somewhat normal town and were greeted with Our luggage! Spirits were elevated... Read More
May 9, 2015
About 7 years ago, Dan got an American visa stapled into his passport. When leaving, the American customs guy ripped it out, and tore a tiny piece off the page corner. Usually this has warranted no more than glare and... Read More
May 8, 2015
The people are extremely polite and have been trained in queue etiquette. A lot of people approached us offering help when we stood confused and upset in many a train station. The streets are very clean but there are no bins... Read More
May 7, 2015
The Bullet Train isnt as exciting as Id hoped. Its comfy and fast, but I had rollercoaster fast in mind. Truth be told, it didnt seem any faster than a normal train. It looks really cool from the outside and did get us to Tokyo... Read More
May 6, 2015
Tiredness, public transport, aeroplanes and awful food are all legitimate reasons to get a bit grumpy when travelling, so this is what I put it down to. About 4 days into Japan I realised I was completely wrong. We went into the first cafe... Read More
May 5, 2015
All the advice on the Internet said to visit Kyoto when in Japan as it is full of beautiful temples and scenery. What we didnt know when we booked, was that it was cherry blossom season, when all those classic Japan pictures... Read More
April 21, 2015
As with much of our Japan journey, Koyasan featured a generous amount of public transport and confusion. Koyasan is a mountain-top Buddhist temple village, which is every bit as epic as it sounds... Read More
April 14, 2015
We got off the plane to Osaka at about midnight and joined an hour-long queue of absolute mayhem for passport control. We realised there were going to be no more trains and were filled with immense sadness... Read More
April 12, 2015
The train and metro system is easy to navigate. There is some really beautiful scenery, especially the Great Wall. You can get cheap electronics, but only if you know what youre doing.... Read More
April 11, 2015
Shanghai is big, shiny and modern and its very easy to eat Western food. Its almost TOO easy to eat Western food. Impossible, you might think. But what if I told you Shanghai has a Tesco and a Marks and Spencer?... Read More
April 9, 2015
Chengdu is the place to go for pandas in China, according to Google (and hopefully Bing, otherwise no one in China will know). We booked three nights there with our only aim being to go to the panda sanctuary... Read More
April 9, 2015
Communal toast making areas are an etiquette nightmare. One fine morning in Beijing really took the biscuit. Breakfast buffet had 2 toasters. I put my bread in and waited alongside... Read More
April 6, 2015
Beijing isnt a particularly pretty city but it has character. Initially I was rather overwhelmed with its bad points and oppressive smog. After four days it grew on me a bit and the really good stuff left me with a more positive view... Read More
March 25, 2015
At Christmas I made a snap judgement to quit my job and go travelling around Asia and Australia for the year, funding myself as I went working as a web designer (Dan conveniently already works from home)... Read More
March 7, 2015
Dan and I went to New York for a week. I'm not very well acquainted with America, having only been to Vegas before now. I was assured Vegas was not representative of America as a whole, which is good because its the most loud, obnoxious and tacky place I've been... Read More
July 7, 2014
Australia was good because my cousin Frances and friend Marty both live there and know how to work the tram system... Read More
July 3, 2014
I went to Malaysia and Australia for about a month in April. I didnt have a blog then, but I did write about it. So Im cheating and putting up the interesting bits now... Read More