All posts filed under: Travel

Soundtrack To a Road Trip

Since I’ve moved towns, my summer road trips have become down right familiar. They take me back to where I grew up, along a road I’ve travelled a hundred times before. Each year we optimistically pile our kids, Christmas presents, pet, beach gear, party outfits and active wear into the car and set off for our little 3-hour journey down the Pacific Highway. I’m not getting to many festivals these days, or going off on spontaneous camping weekends with my mates, so this annual drive is one of my only chances to feel the carefree vibes of taking to the road, air-con in my hair and porta-cot jammed in behind my seat. This time, we had so much gear we decided to take two cars, and on the return trip I get the kids while Tim has the dog. Luckily, I also get the CD stacker. Since we’re constantly trying to educate our 4.5 year old how to appreciate modern rock music, and since kids are such good learners, he now complains whenever we play …

Camping with kids. Why do I even bother?

I’ve just recovered from our family’s most recent 36-hour, self-inflicted sanity test. Sometimes it’s called camping. I’m seriously thinking about re-popularising the literal description of this hobby, where it shall once again be known as ‘making camp’. Unless you have as many holidays as a private-school teacher, your trip will probably be so short that you will actually spend more time planning your trip, packing for it, and erecting the blasted tent than you will spend enjoying the company of your family or your see-through polyester abode. And if you have kids, that ratio goes off the scale. Plus, don’t forget that if you, like me, decide to pack up your tent in the middle of a lightning and rain storm then you need to factor in an extra day or two to unpack, dry, clean out and re-pack all of your belongings once you come home. ‘Un-making camp’, you could say. Now, if you’re one of those childless, van-owning free spirits who just grabs a book and a tray of sausages and sets off …

Acrophobia Or Something Like It

It was the Giant Drop at Dreamworld that undid me. Sitting, waiting, nothing out in front, nothing below. Only a metal harness preventing me from free-falling 39 storeys onto concrete and fake rocks below. I wanted to get off. I couldn’t. I pressed my back into the plastic seat as far as it would go. I didn’t speak. When the carriage was released we rushed to the bottom, gut-in-throat, and I vowed never to go on it again. I’ll be sticking to the pirate ship, me hearties. I wasn’t always this paranoid about heights but it’s getting worse. It’s no wonder theme parks aren’t built for adults to enjoy, when your aversion to risk is properly formed and your body’s equilibrium is so easily disturbed. But what about climbing the bell towers of medieval European churches? The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb? Surely people past puberty can tackle those? Perhaps I just pushed it too far, did one too many. These days I barely want to go above the 3rd floor in a high rise. Recently I …

Chaos and calm in Vietnam

Saigon has charmed us by the time we travel from the airport to our hotel. Absolutely buzzing with activity, people and scooters everywhere, the footpaths struggle to contain the masses of people eating, chatting and cooking, as close as they can get to the middle of the road without being run over. The three and four storey terrace-style housing means everyone is living on top of each other, so groups congregate out in the hot air under the street lights, perched on parked motorbikes and impossibly small plastic stools, forcing the traffic into single file.  Our hotel, the Duc Vuong, in the bustling District 1, is like a tiny, cool oasis in which to recover from the heat and sensory overload of the street. Ironically, I have succumbed to the “holiday flu”, the one that you manage to avoid during the stressful planning, booking and packing stages but that finally gets you once you are airborne and relaxed. Upon checking in, the manager mentions a “free dinner” to be held at 7pm for anyone in …

Happy Snaps

I’m going on an overseas holiday. I lose count of how many times I have explained my itinerary, which day I’m leaving and when I’ll be back. “Sounds great, make sure you take lots of photos!”, they all say. Why should I? Are they really going to want to look at them when I get back? Holiday snaps pose a timeless dilemma, one that has haunted travellers, be they backpackers, gap-yearers or newly retired empty nesters, for generations. It’s actually quite a challenge to enjoy the moment if you are continually yelling, “take one of me in front of the statue!” You know you’re in trouble when you find yourself assessing the scenery not in terms of how magnificent it is, or how it makes you feel, but rather which angle or camera setting will give the best shot when it’s printed in 6 x 4 matte. There’s nothing like walking for hours to the top of a mountain, only to take a few photos and walk back down again. Something to show the folks …

Bus Vs Car

I feel sorry for the busses driving around on their route with no-one in them. Unwanted & lonely, they must feel. Are they resentful of cars? Like a walkman is of an i-pod… People still like music, they just don’t like how you give it to them. People still like going places, they just don’t like using the RSL-carpeted seats and safety bars to get them there. Me, I quite like going on a bus. You don’t have to think about traffic, directions, where to park when you get there. You are completely free to eavesdrop other peoples’ conversations or cocoon yourself within your musical earplugs. If only the bus went precisely where I wanted to go and when. Aye, there’s the rub.

Aperitivo in Bologna

In summer in Bologna the twilight lasts well into the evening. The slowly setting sun casts long shadows under the porticos which follow every street. The burnt orange facades glow against the deep, almost royal blue sky, waiting for you to decide whether to savour some gelato or settle in at the bar for aperitivo and a drink or two. This very dilemma confronted me on a weekly basis while living and studying in Italy a little while ago. Aperitivo is a wonderful Italian pastime, along the same lines as the Friday after-work pub session with your mates. While similar to our happy hour, aperitivo takes the cake because the bars provide free snacks to nibble as you drink, and I’m not talking about a packet of Nobby’s Nuts! Bruschetta, olives, prosciutto, verdure fritte (fried vegetables), tray after tray. And, if you time it just right, this complimentary pre-dinner treat can become your main meal as well! I often sat with friends in the dwindling light at one of the bars on Via Clavature, in …