Bali 🍃

After our New Zealand holiday, we had another trip up our sleeves before heading home to Northern Ireland. Initially we were planning on Tasmania, however, New Zealand was freezing and Tasmania would be freezing too at this time of year. So we decided to cancel Tasmania and head somewhere hot. Bali had never really been on my agenda but it’s pretty close to Australia and a popular tourist destination. After some research online and speaking with friends, we settled on two locations to try, simply to break up the trip and have two different experiences. We opted for Ubud for the scenery and peacefulness, contrasting with Seminyak for the beaches and tourist vibe.

This was to be a relaxing holiday, lying by the pool and absorbing some much needed vitamin D. Normally I really dislike these types of holidays but I was fine on this occasion as we had just travelled quite a bit and packed up our whole life. Rest and relaxation was most definitely welcomed.

Arriving into Bali was a lengthy process with four different queues needing to be passed. Covid screening, obtaining and paying for your visa ($100 AU), immigration and declarations. I’m not going to lie, this was tough going after a long flight from Australia and we arrived late at night. By the time we passed immigration etc it was 12pm. Luckily we had pre booked a taxi and he was very kind to wait for us as we had another one hour drive to our hotel in Ubud. I felt so bad for the driver but he reassured me that this is the norm.

UBUD

Element Bali Ubud – this was our hotel in Ubud for 4 nights and to be honest, it was the highlight of the holiday. We are absolutely amazed by this hotel and how fantastic it was. The staff were unbelievably friendly and accommodating, everything was so clean, the food drinks were delicious, the location to town was pretty good and we loved the amenities. We used the spa, the gym and the pool and were so pleased with them all. I would definitely recommend staying here if you ever come to Ubud. You can check it out here for yourselves.

Things to see in Ubud : We hired a taxi to take us around the key sites of interest that we had been researching. The Monkey Temple is a huge tourist attraction but we don’t really have a love for monkeys so we avoided that one.

1 – Seeing the rice fields. This was great to see how the farmers work the fields and grow their best prized crop.

2 – Tirta Empul Temple. A very busy temple for locals and tourists alike. This was built around a bubbling spring and is a fascinating place to see Hindu devotees purifying themselves by ways of ritual bathing.

3 – Sampling the Luwak coffee. This coffee is famous for its unusual methods of creation. The Luwak animal is a cat like creature that feeds on Luwak coffee beans (among other things). When they excrete the beans, the outer shell is removed to expose the inner bean, which in turn is used to make coffee. Seen as a delicacy, this was an honour to taste, alongside some really different and unusual tea and coffee varieties, such as avocado coffee and lemongrass tea.

4 – Saraswati Temple. This just looked amazing online so we really wanted to visit. It can be found in the heart of Ubud centre and was built to honour Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning.

5 – Dinner at Chora. I found this restaurant on Instagram (the benefits of social media) and thought it looked interesting. It was fab! Great healthy food with a Mediterranean influence, fantastic service and a truly serene experience.

SEMINYAK

Aloft Bali Seminyak – We loved this hotel and it had such a great location. It’s a good distance from the town but you are in a quieter location and very close to the beaches. We would walk 5 minutes to the beach and then walk along for about 30 minutes to reach Seminyak town. The rooftop pool and bar was lovely with stunning ocean views, the hotel served up some great food and drinks, plus the staff again were so, so friendly here.

To be honest we didn’t do many tourist things here in Seminyak and we were happy just to relax. Also, I did have a case of Bali belly during the trip (a common occurrence here for Westerners with sensitive stomachs), I think from the water, so I was out of action for a couple of days with pretty bad stomach cramps. However, I can show you a few places that we enjoyed eating in when I felt better, asides from the hotel where the food was really delicious.

1 – Shelter Restaurant. Shelter is a contemporary Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant located in the central part of beautiful Pererenan. The food was absolutely stunning and the service was exceptional. There was a great tropical vibe and the musical really set the scene, even the bathrooms were impressive. This was our favourite place to eat from the whole trip (maybe as it was also my birthday).

2 – Da Maria. This was a fantastic Italian restaurant actually on the same street as our hotel. It’s great when you can walk to the venue and we had heard great things about this place. Food was lovely and there is a real buzz in this place.

3 – Potato Head Bali Beach Club. This is a really cool place if you want to come and chill out for the day. We loved the food here also and it was just a short walk from our hotel via the beach before you get to Seminyak Village.

One thing you do have to do in Seminyak is watch the sunset from the beach. You can be anywhere on the beach but we found the sunset to be popular near our hotel. The actual beach is called Pantai Batu Belig. People come to just sit on the beach and take it all in, it actually reminded me of Ibiza sunsets.

That’s a wrap on my Bali trip. It’s a beautiful place with the most gorgeous people. This was a great trip for rest and relaxation before heading home to Northern Ireland. Follow my journey home and I aim to highlight the numerous places NI has to offer.

Thanks for taking a look at this Bali blog post and have a great week everyone.

Wayne ✌🏽

WordPress Monthly Word Prompt – TRANSITION

Two things spring to mind when I see this prompt. Firstly, the image says Week of August 8 which makes me think the monthly word prompt is now weekly!? I asked WordPress about this and they stated that they are trialling more frequent word prompts. Fair enough and I think it’s a good idea, especially if you are maybe struggling to think of a blog topic.

Secondly the word prompt featured is transition which jumps out at me as I feel this is personally very appropriate at this time. I am making a huge life transition in the coming days. As many of you know already, I have been travelling a lot over the past few weeks and next week I will be heading to Northern Ireland after three years of not being able to visit home. I have packed up all my belongings and moving across the world to finally reunite with my family and friends. Whether I stay there or return to Australia remains to be seen but for now I will be concentrating on catching up with loved ones and reacquainting myself with life in Northern Ireland.

I will be keeping you all updated and sharing plenty more on my blog as the next chapter of my life commences, hopefully showcasing the best places see in Northern Ireland, Ireland and even Europe. I would like to say thank you all for your continued support and for creating such an amazing blogging environment here on WordPress.

Take care and enjoy your weekend.

Wayne ✌🏽

Auckland

After Hobbiton, we drove for a couple of hours to reach our final destination of Auckland. We were here primarily to catch up with a good friend who lives here but also we were keen to see and experience what this city has to offer. I will highlight the places we managed to visit while in Auckland for three days.

1 – Cheltenham Beach

2 – Maungauika/North Head Historic Reserve

3 – Takapuna Beach Path.

4 – Wine tasting at The Hunting Lodge.

5 – Sunset at Muriwai Beach.

6 – Auckland Museum.

7 – Ponsonby.

There you have it! Our New Zealand trip has come to an end. What an amazing trip and so fortunate to have finally been able to visit after being in lockdown on and off for two years. I hope you enjoyed the journey and photographs from this truly epic country with the absolute friendliest of people. It’s a trip I will not forget in a hurry. Thank you all for showing an interest in my posts over the past couple of weeks, it really means a lot.

All the best,

Wayne ✌🏽

Rotorua 🌋

This was the perfect spot for us to stop and rest during our drive from Wellington to Auckland. As well as being a great location to stop, we had really wanted to visit here for a couple of reasons.

This area was created thousands of years ago by volcanic activity and sits at the southern end of Lake Rotorua, also formed from a volcanic explosion. Although the volcano hasn’t erupted since, there remains a lot of geothermal occurrences daily, which in turn creates geysers, hot springs and hot mud pools.

We really wanted to try the hot springs as well as seeing and learning about the traditional Māori people. In Rotorua you can find a living Māori village, there the people have been living for more than 700 years. You can have a tour of the village and witness how the people live.

Rotorua itself is a quaint little town with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. You will see many Māori people here which is really lovely to see. Another thing to note with this place is that it has a strong sulphur smell (think eggs) from the geysers which can be quite overwhelming if you’re not used to it but I’m so glad we were able to experience it.

Such an amazing place and we thanked the tour guide for an awesome opportunity to see how the Māori people continue to live to this day and aim to keep their traditions alive in the 21st century.

I hope you enjoyed a little insight to Rotorua. This is a definite pit stop if ever travelling from Wellington to Auckland. We made one more stop on our way to Auckland, can any of you guess where it was? I am really excited to show you all later this week.

Take care and thanks for your continued support.

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Ubud

Watching the sunset from our hotel in Ubud during the week. The glass walkway was stunning and really adds to the image. We couldn’t really see below as it was dark but the sunset was truly magical. This hotel Element Bali Ubud was out of this world and I will write more about that in my future Bali blog 🍃.

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.

Wayne ✌🏽

Wellington highlights!

We had flown to Wellington from Christchurch and thank goodness we were able to. The weather had been bad for weeks with heavy downpours. Many flights had been cancelled but fortunately for us, our flight made it across the water to the North Island. It was exciting to depart the South Island and have new experiences of the north. We also really wanted to see Wellington as it is the capital of New Zealand. We stayed here only for one night and would then hire a car and drive up the island to our final destination of Auckland.

As we were only here for one day, I will show you my highlights of the city and what we were able to squeeze in. We really enjoyed Wellington and we were extremely blessed to have good weather (mostly).

1 – Staying in the QT Wellington. This hotel chain is one of my favourites. We have stayed in three others before so we kind of knew what to expect. They’re a little more pricey but we thought if we’re only here for one day, why not treat ourselves to a nice hotel. This one in Wellington I think has been the best QT so far. Extremely quirky and we loved the art throughout the building. I would totally recommend staying here if you visit Wellington.

2 – Take a walk along Lambton Harbour. This is situated just beside the museum and it’s beautiful just to walk along the water front. This eventually leads onto Wellington Harbour.

3 – Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This museum was on our doorstep so we had to check it out. Such a great place to learn about NZ and for us the highlight was the Gallipoli: The Scale of our War exhibition. You can find more information here. This unique exhibition tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The people are recreated as larger than life models, really bringing it home what these people went through. An extraordinary exhibition and extremely moving.

4 – Wellington Cable Car. You can find this in the city centre and takes you to a great height up a mountain to see great panoramic views of Wellington. You can also see the Botanical Gardens there too that are really worth a visit.

5 – Take a walk through the city centre. There’s lots of character in this city, funky shops and great pieces of street art.

6 – Dinner at Mr Go’s. This Asian fusion restaurant is really quirky and serves delicious small plates perfect for sharing. There is such a good vibe here.

Thanks for taking a look at my Wellington blog and I hope you are inspired to maybe visit or even just enjoyed looking at some photographs of this amazing city. We would then head towards Auckland and make a couple of stops on the way. Next stop where we were staying is Rotorua, blog coming very soon 😊.

Take care,

Wayne ✌🏽

MILFORD SOUND

We took a day trip here from Queenstown. It is the one place everyone asked about whether we would be visiting or not when in Queenstown. I’m really glad that we did take the trip here, even if it was a long day. We booked a coach trip (you can do this at the tourist information office in town) and it lasted the whole day. It’s more than 12 hours to drive there, take a boat tour through Milford Sound and then the drive back. It’s a big day but really worth seeing, especially if you may never return here again.

Miford Sound is a fiord, carved by glaciers during the ice ages. It really is captivating and I don’t think I have ever seen anywhere quite like it. The scenery is out of this world, no matter what the weather and if you’re lucky you may be able to spot some dolphins, seals and penguins that call this place home. We were fortunate to have seen seals sunbathing and dolphins that followed our boat back into the dock.

Even the journey to Milford Sound is spectacular and we were able to make a few pit stops to take some photographs. I will show you a couple of our stops and then show you some snaps of the magnificent Milford Sound.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and I hope it inspired you to maybe visit for yourself one day.

Take care,

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V19

Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to yet another weekly post featuring some more of my favourite doors. This week’s edition follows on from last week’s doors in New Zealand. I have some more to show case from this amazing country and next week I have some extra special doors to show you as it will be my twentieth edition of Doors of WordPress! Let me know if you have a favourite door this week 😊.

1 – Arrowtown
2 – Arrowtown
3 – Rotorua
4 – Auckland
5 – Christchurch

Thanks for taking a look and stay tuned for next week’s special edition!!

Take care,

Wayne ✌🏽

QUEENSTOWN

When you say to people you are travelling to New Zealand, they will pretty much always ask “Are you going to Queenstown?”. I didn’t really understand why but now that I have travelled there, I totally get it. This place was the highlight of NZ for us. The scenery is just out of this world and made even more special as we were here in winter. The snow peaked mountains were absolutely stunning and you just can’t quite take it all in.

The flight into Queenstown is breathtaking and you won’t be able to peel your eyes away from the window.
As soon as you arrive at the airport you will be blown away by the epic scenery and become lost in the magic of Queenstown.

We caught the number one bus from the airport into Queenstown which takes about 10 – 15 minutes. It’s a very easy ride and luckily for us it stopped just before the town at our hotel, The Ramada. We loved our stay here, great proximity to the town, beautiful scenery all around, very friendly staff, lovely hotel and the breakfast was open until 11.30 and you simply pay for what you order (this was a real novelty for us as you usually pay a hefty amount for a buffet breakfast and they often close early in other places I have been).

For us, Queenstown was all about the scenery and using it as a base to see other places close by. We took the number two bus to the quaint little Arrowtown. We also took a coach trip to Milford Sound. I will post a little blog about these two places after this but these were the two places we most wanted to see. The scenery itself in Queenstown is beautiful and it’s really lovely just taking a stroll through the town and having a look at all the shops, restaurants and bars. There is a lovely walkway that passed the back of our hotel to the town that takes you along the side of Lake Wakatipu. It was beautiful and can also take you to the town via Queenstown Gardens.

Views from the back of the Ramada. We took the walk into the town. It takes about 30 minutes and the views are out of this world.
Lake Wakatipu
The town is very picturesque.

A few people have been asking about food recommendations so I thought I would run through a quick list for you :

Joe’s Garage – perfect for breakfast

Stratosfare – this is the restaurant on top of the huge mountain. Take the gondola up to the top for spectacular views of Queenstown. It’s a buffet dinner with plenty to choose from.

Surreal Bar & Restaurant – nice pub grub and home cooking. All the staff appeared to be Irish too 😊.

Flame (need to book) – we actually couldn’t go here as it was fully booked. My advice would be to book ahead ( for most restaurants actually, as they get pretty busy and there are very few staff here at the moment due to the pandemic).

Bombay Palace – perfect little spot for some Indian food. We loved it.

Boardwalk – PIER Restaurant – this is just at the pier (funny enough). Beautiful views to watch the world go by and they have heat lamps for dining al fresco.

Seafood chowder and a glass of rosé 😋

Paddy Gaddy – Southeast Asian – the food here was stunning. It’s an Asian fusion type restaurant with a real vibe.

Margos Mexican – another one you would need to book. This looked awesome but there was no space the night that we tried. Definitely looks worth a visit if you like Mexican food.

The Pig and Whistle – we loved this place for drinks, either sitting inside or out.

The Speight’s Ale House – lovely quaint little pub with the best toasty fire.

That’s my lot for Queenstown. Such an amazing place that you have to see for yourself. We only had 4 days here but that was actually perfect for us as we weren’t skiing or participating in any winter sports (not our cup of tea). Should that be your thing, you will love this place even more!

Thanks for reading and I will have a couple of blog posts for Arrowtown and Milford Sound coming.

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Muriwai Beach

Stunning sunset on the black sand beach at Muriwai, Auckland 🌅

I hope you’re all having the best weekend. My blog posts will be up for NZ over the next few days all being well 😊.

Wayne ✌🏽

CHRISTCHURCH

First stop on our New Zealand trip was Christchurch. We stayed here for two nights before moving on to Queenstown.

I hadn’t heard too many positive things about Christchurch sadly, therefore I had no expectations. I know it had been hit by a pretty big earthquake a few years ago and there had been a couple of mass shooting incidents a couple of years ago that were pretty bad. However, we wanted to see this city for ourselves and it’s a good gateway to the south of the South Island.

Christchurch is situated in the South Island. You can disregard all those flags, these were some of my points of interest for our trip.

I am really glad we decided to stay in Christchurch as it is an amazing city with lots of culture, art, has a vibrant hospitality scene and the warmest and friendliest people. It does have a sense of still recovering from its recent troubles and it was pretty quiet here, perhaps as it’s winter also but we really enjoyed our short time here. There was plenty to see and discover and I’m sure we only managed to scratch the surface.

Of course we managed to find a great Irish pub, The Little Fiddle ☘️

If you have the chance to travel to New Zealand, be sure to check out Christchurch too. It’s a beautiful city with lots of heart and character.

Thanks for taking a look at my post. Next post will be from Queenstown 🙌🏼.

Wayne ✌🏽

Travelling with Air New Zealand

I thought I would write a little blog post about our experience with Air NZ, flying from Sydney to Christchurch. The flight itself was delayed by half an hour but the pilot managed to make up the time in the air, meaning the flight was only approximately 2.5 hours and we arrived ahead of schedule.

I had never flown with this airline before so I had no expectations. I have flown with many different airlines over the years and have had both good and bad experiences, which makes me think that could also be a good blog post to write about. I’m sure we all have some amazing or terrifying stories to tell from flying.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that Air NZ was pretty amazing. How and why was this?

1 – Customer service. This was exceptional with the cabin crew being all from NZ. They were extremely friendly and I had the impression that they were being very genuine and sincere. I think that’s the NZ way, everyone I have met here so far in Christchurch has been super friendly.

2 – Complimentary tea or coffee. Being a short flight, I wasn’t expecting anything free. I knew we could purchase food and drinks but it was a nice touch to have been offered something with compliments.

3 – Free WiFi. Amazing to have this free and it was for the whole trip. Also good to note that they offered unlimited data. I have never seen this before. Normally you might have free data that is just enough to send one email so this was a novelty. The WiFi was also really good quality.

4 – USB port. This is really handy to charge your phone, especially if using the WiFi. I love that we can do this. I hate using my phone (even for games to pass the time) and having little to no battery on arrival.

5 – Free Rapid Antigen Tests. I wasn’t aware that we had to carry out a RAT on arrival but the process was made very easy. They provide you with four RATs for you to take with you. At your hotel you can conduct the test yourself and upload the results to a website they provide. I suppose they are really relying on you to be honest with this and report being positive of covid if you are unfortunate to be so. You carry out a test on Day 0 and again on Day 5. Thankfully we were negative!

Ps. Just a little reminder. It’s always good to carry a pen with you onboard. I normally do but forgot this time and had to borrow one. You will need this for completing your arrival card.

All in all, a very smooth and enjoyable flight, made all the better with the friendly cabin crew. A great service from Air NZ.

Wayne ✌🏽

Australia VS Northern Ireland

As I plan to move back home to Northern Ireland (at least for a few months) I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on both countries and delve into the pros and cons of living in each country. I had been thinking of these a lot over the past few months when trying to make a decision about where to live. As an expat, these are things we think about, pretty much on a daily basis, as sad as that sounds. In this post I will look at the pros and cons of Australia and in my next blog post I will look at Northern Ireland.

Australia Pros :

The weather. It’s pretty much warm for most of the year. Winter here can be cold enough but only lasts for about three months give or take.

The lifestyle. It’s very chilled out here in Australia, especially in Sydney where I live by the water. The sunshine makes people happy, the coastal walks, dining outdoors, exercising etc. I think just being outdoors is so good for our mental health and well-being.

The opportunities. Australia is the land of opportunity. There is plenty of work available here and you can process quickly. Even the fact I have been teaching here has been a huge opportunity that I wouldn’t have been given back home.

The money. The fact is, I earn a lot more as a nurse here than I ever will back home. That can be said for many jobs here. Yes the expense of living is much higher here but you can still manage to save money here and live a really fulfilling life.

The health system. It is amazing here, with a mixture of public and private, it works really well. I feel so fortunate to be in a country with such a fantastic health system, unlike America where it costs a fortune and many people can’t afford or the NHS that is really struggling and has been for many years now.

The activities. There is always something to do, especially in Sydney. There are an abundance of bars and restaurants, plenty of bush, beach and ocean walks, lots of experiences, seeing the sights and famous landmarks etc etc, I could go on forever here.

The sheer size of Australia. There is also so much to see and do all over Australia, therefore, you don’t really ever need to leave Australia if you want to see somewhere new. I don’t think I realised how big Australia actually is until I lived here for some time. It is unbelievably huge with each state completely different from the next and offering so much that really is a feast for anyone living here.

Australia Cons :

The weather. As much as I love the weather here, it can also be a negative for Australia, especially the past three years. The bush fires are becoming more aggressive, wiping out so much land and killing millions of animal species. 2019 was horrific, so I dread to think how the next bush fires will be. Then we have the other extreme, flooding. The last two years we have had the La Niña weather event, bringing catastrophic amounts of rainfall. This is also predicted to last well into next year. The only silver lining with the rain is that it prevents the bush fires. I feel also with global warming, that the weather here, sadly, will be seeing more and more extremes of weather disasters.

The distance. Personally, this is my biggest issue. It never used to bother me before covid. I always felt that if I needed to be home, I could always hop on a flight and be home within 24 hours. However, since being in lockdown, we haven’t been home in over three years. We suddenly feel very far from home. We are literally at the other side of the word. With lockdowns, it appeared to the outside world that Australia was very much cut off from everywhere else in the world. Family and friends are very important to me and if I can’t see them, that’s a big problem.

In conclusion, you can see I have many more pros than cons. I absolutely love Australia and its people. It is a magnificent country with lots to do and great opportunities but I don’t have my family here. I feel extremely far away and for that reason, I will be going home for a few months to see how it goes.

Keep an eye on my next blog post where I will write about the pros and cons of Northern Ireland. Thanks for reading everyone and have a pleasant day.

Wayne ✌🏽

Five years of blogging!

Wow! Another milestone hit this week for me. I have been blogging for five years now and I really feel like I have come full circle.

I started blogging when I arrived in Australia five years ago. I wanted to document my travels and the plan was initially to share my travels with those from home in Ireland. However, I soon found that when I was blogging about places in Sydney, local Sydney people were taking an interest and learning from my travel experiences. This was fantastic and really gave me a boost to keep sharing the places I had been visiting.

Now after five years, I will be heading back home to Ireland. My blog has come full circle and I now really look forward to taking my blog back home and sharing travel experiences from Ireland and Europe. We have a lot to offer in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where I will be living. I hope you continue to follow my journey and see what the other side of the world has to offer.

It hasn’t been an easy decision to move back home after five years but again I have covid to thank for that. Suddenly we feel so far away from home here in Australia. Previously I always thought I could be home within a couple of days, however, it has now been over three years since I have been home. I miss my family and friends and feel I have to take this opportunity to return home and see what the future has in store for me there. That’s not to say I will never be back to Australia. It’s not a good bye but rather a “See you later”.

I will be doing a little travelling soon before I reach home with my partner so stay tuned and hopefully I will have some really interesting places to show you on my blog.

Thank you everyone again for following my journey and I hope to keep you further entertained in the next chapter of my life.

Wayne ✌🏽

Two Hundredth Post!

This week I hit a HUGE milestone for me. I cannot believe I have made it to 200 posts. I have to admit, my blogging journey was a slow burner but it has really ramped up in the past year. I actually have covid to thank for that.

Initially I was blogging about my travels, so I was only blogging once a month or every few months. When covid hit, we could no longer travel and I suddenly realised I had nothing to blog about. I had to have a think and revamp my ideology of what blogging means to me.

Covid opened my eyes in terms of blogging. Although I wasn’t travelling any more, I realised there was so much more that I could blog about. I have a lot to say and I really wanted to make an effort connecting with other bloggers. I started to blog about things that were happening in my life and also began participating in blogging prompts. When I took part in Bloganuary, my desire to blog and connect with others grew tenfold. I loved having something to write about and share more of my personality. I met so many other bloggers and loved the connection you could make with complete strangers. I soon started to participate in other blogging prompts and still do to this day. I have many bloggers here to thank for that.

I would like to share with you a few bloggers that continue to inspire and encourage my blogging journey 😊 –

https://renardsworld.wordpress.com

https://ceenphotography.com

https://hughsviewsandnews.com

https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.wordpress.com

https://nofacilities.com

https://fivedotoh.com

https://lifesfinewhine.ca

https://beetleypete.com

The people you meet here in the blogosphere are amazing. You realise you share many of the same experiences and beliefs and appreciate so much that there IS a space for you in the blogging world. You also have the opportunity to meet others from different backgrounds and cultures and can learn a huge amount, therefore, growing as a person of the world.

I just want to say thank you to my followers and to those I follow and inspire me every day. This honestly is such a great space and I really look forward to growing, learning and sharing more of what life has in store for me.

All the best wishes,

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Fiji

The sunset I am showing today was taken at Musket Cove in Fiji, 2018.

We were sitting in the little hut at the end of the pier for a special occasion. Such a stunning setting.

Hope you all have had a lovely Sunday!

Wayne ✌🏽

Tuesday Thoughts 💭 – Birthday

Today I think of my partner and how it is his birthday today! Unfortunately we are both working today so we will celebrate modestly this evening. On the other hand, we were able to celebrate during the weekend just past and had a really lovely weekend together in Sydney.

Sydney Opera House

I planned a secret outing on Sunday in the CBD. I wanted us to participate in an event or excursion and it just so happened that there was an Oyster masterclass happening, courtesy of Sydney Oyster Farm Tours. This was part of a larger event that was happening all weekend in the Sydney CBD to celebrate food, drink and live entertainment.

We were able to shuck our own oysters (the process of opening the oysters) and thankfully none of us managed to injure ourselves. There was a girl in front of us who nearly chopped her finger off! We learned some history and gained knowledge regarding oyster farming and we were able to eat them afterwards. We had a collection of Sydney Rock Oysters and Pacific Oysters and I’m sure we managed to eat nearly a dozen each! This was a great experience and one that we had never done before.

Oyster shucking – The Pacifics were already opened in the tray and the Rock Oysters were in the bags waiting to be opened.

We then checked into our hotel for the night. I thought it would be cool to stay in a really nice hotel with stunning Sydney views, just for one night. You have the novelty of being away from home but with the luxury of not having to travel too far. Being a tourist for the day and night was fun. We stayed in the Shangri-La and really, thoroughly enjoyed it. I would say the only negative point was that it was a long weekend, therefore, it was pretty busy and had lots of kids. It was impossible to get a window view at the bar for drinks and also for breakfast the next morning. Out of season would be better. However, the bottle of bubbles in the room for my partner’s birthday was a really lovely touch and the staff were so, so friendly. The views of Circular Quay were stunning and I’m sure if you have a Harbour Bridge view, that would also be pretty epic.

❤️

We had dinner at The Spice Room at Circular Quay. Delicious Indian food in a really quaint and authentic setting. I had been here before and loved it. Thankfully, my partner loved it too 😊. When you see many Indian and Nepalese families eating there, that’s a sure sign the food will be tasty and authentic 🇮🇳.

On the following day, it was ANZAC Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), remembering the soldiers lost at war. We had a dip in the pool and checked out. We had breakfast at The Rocks which was beautiful and watched the parades honouring the service men who fought in the World Wars. I always find this day really moving and I love how people of all ages come out to remember those who lost their lives fighting for their country.

Breakfast at The Rocks Cafe
ANZAC DAY PARADE

We headed home for a quick change and then out for lunch with friends at The Chiswick in Woollahra. Absolutely stunning venue and food. If you ever have the chance to visit here, do not hesitate. It’s definitely up there.

Ready for lunch
Apple crumble and ice cream or ANZAC biscuit and ice cream 😋

That was our weekend in a snapshot. I really feel like birthdays deserve to be celebrated as we only have one a year and life is so short.

How was your weekend? I apologise as it’s Tuesday but we were off work yesterday 😛.

Cheers,

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunsets – South Pacific

Happy Sunday everyone. If you’re in Australia, I hope you’re all feeling fresh as our clocks went back last night and we had that extra hour sleep ☺️.

The sunsets I want to show you this week are from the Coral Sea when we travelled on a South Pacific cruise. This was a Christmas cruise and our very first time holidaying on one. It was magnificent and the sunsets we seen were unreal. We also really appreciated the clean open air as Australia was in the middle of a really horrific bush fire season and the air was so smokey that it was difficult to breathe for a few days and nights. This was December 2019. It was bad enough we were experiencing the fires but little did we know that the coronavirus pandemic was just around the corner.

Have you seen many sunsets from the middle of the ocean? It really is something spectacular and this holiday will be forever etched in my memory.

Take care everyone and enjoy your Sunday.

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – Field of Light

This light show, created by Bruce Munro is a feast for the eyes!!! I had heard about this from my barber who had said how amazing this is. I looked it up online and knew that I had to see it for myself. It is a light show, made up of 50,000 glass lights, that lights up a massive area the size of more than seven football fields. With Uluru in the distance and as the sun rises, the lights create a real spectacle that is something truly out of this world. It has to be seen in the dark for obvious reasons but it is absolutely worth the 4.30 am wake up call. We booked this as a tour that also included a sun rise tour that will be featured in my next blog post. Please enjoy my photos below taken from this truly magnificent experience.

Photo taken before we entered the Field of Light

Please let me know what you think?

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – An introduction 🧡

Hey guys! I cannot wait to share this blog post with you about our very recent trip to Uluru. I have so many amazing pictures to share so I think I will create a short blog series, featuring this introduction and a post for each excursion that we managed to fit into our weekend. This is my first time creating a blog series for a place I have visited, so I think that speaks for itself how amazing I found this place ☺️.

I’m sure most of you have heard of Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. If not, you can find some really interesting information here. For me personally, I know it as one of the wonders of the world and appears as a huge rock in the middle of Australia. Situated in the desert, it is known to me for its amazing colour, stage presence, it’s spirituality and is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Australia. It can also be referred to as the spiritual heart of Australia 🧡. For me, this is a bucket list trip that I am so grateful for now being able to tick off my list. Previously people could walk on top of Uluru until people were informed that this is actually very disrespectful to the Aboriginal people. This is an immensely culturally significant place for them and has to be treated as such. Therefore, walking on Uluru was ceased, albeit only from 2019 surprisingly.

For some people, they simply think of Uluru as a giant rock formation in the desert, which it is. However, there is so much more to this feature. When you see it for yourself, you just cannot help but be in awe. It is absolutely mesmerising. You can feel a sense of spirit and connection to the land and the history of Uluru. The way in which the light can alter the appearance of Uluru from sunrise to sunset is astonishing and photographs simply do not even do it justice. It is fascinating to learn about the geography of Uluru and it’s connection to the Aboriginal people dating back to about 30,000 years ago!

It had been advised to me that three days would be enough time to see Uluru. I agree that you can carry out many activities in three days, however, I believe I could have easily stayed for another couple of days if time permitted. Just a heads up if you’re ever planning to visit. There were some other activities that I simply didn’t have time for or they were booked out as this was a very spontaneous trip for us. I will write about the activities that we were able to carry out, whilst also mentioning the couple that we didn’t have the chance to do, in case you have the opportunity to see them for yourselves.

Ok so I will begin with how we travelled to Uluru, where we stayed and a little information regarding the area. As Uluru is in the National Park, the town neighbouring the park is actually known as Yulara. Travelling to Yulara from Sydney is a 3.5 hour flight approximately.

View on arriving into Yulara. Sitting on the left side of the plane gives you an amazing first glimpse of Uluru.

Thankfully Yulara is a small enough place and everything is very close by. When arriving at the airport it is less than a ten minute drive to the main inhabited area with the accommodation and town. All transfers to your accommodation are free and there is a free shuttle bus driving around Yulara every 20 minutes which is pretty awesome. We stayed in Sails in the Desert simply because I had seen it on Instagram and it looked really beautiful. This was a great hotel, lovely room, great food and extremely friendly staff. We couldn’t have asked for more. Although the pool was closed for renovations, we could use the neighbouring hotel pool which was perfect. All of the hotels are running at a reduced capacity due to covid and people not travelling. Personally, I loved this as we had more space to roam around, we didn’t not have to queue for anything and there was great social distancing.

Sails in the Desert hotel
Hotel restaurant where we had an amazing buffet breakfast and the best fried eggs I have ever eaten!

The town has an amazing art gallery displaying all the local aboriginal art (seriously out of this world!) known as GOCA – Gallery of Central Australia and there are also talks from local Aboriginal people, discussing their history and ways of life. Yulara has a cafe, a supermarket and a couple of shops selling some amazing Aboriginal artwork and gifts. There is a local pub known as the Outback Pioneer. This is for visitors and the locals and is most definitely worth checking out. Just hop on the coach and you will be there in 15 minutes or so. The town of Yulara, albeit small, has a lot of character and is extremely welcoming.

Hello, thank you, goodbye and welcome – Palya ☺️
Gallery of Central Australia
Neighbouring pool
Town centre
Outback Pioneer

Stay tuned for my next post where we look at the different activities we managed to undertake, the first one – seeing Uluru by air.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 10

I love today’s topic. It’s good to reflect and remember to be grateful for things happening in our lives. Too often we become caught up in our busy daily lives and forget to be thankful for the positive things around us that we often take for granted.

1 – As corny as it sounds, I am firstly grateful to waken up, alive and healthy. Not everyone has this luxury.

2 – Being away this weekend in Mudgee with my amazing partner as we celebrate 15 years together.

3 – I’m grateful that I had a great sleep last night, 8.5 hours to be exact. If I have 7 hours sleep at night, I am doing really well. So to wake up and check my Fitbit that read 8.5 hours sleep, I was delighted.

4 – Grateful to have no rain this morning. It is supposed to be stormy all week, so to waken with no rain and blue skies on the horizon, that makes me really happy.

5 – Thankful for a lovely breakfast this morning and having a walk around Mudgee. It’s a really quaint little town with lots of character. I will be creating a blog of this town very soon.

Mudgee, NSW

I cannot wait to hear what everyone else is grateful for today 🙏🏼.

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

Hunter Valley – in a day 🍷

Hunter Valley, NSW, an amazing place to taste some fine wines. Stunning scenery, boutique wineries, friendly people, what more could you wish for. I have been here quite a few times now and have always stayed at least two nights. I guess because it’s quite far away and it’s the ideal place to have a mini vacation. So when I was asked by my friends and work colleagues to join them for a day trip, I was excited to see what we could experience in a day. At least with the 2.5 hour drive each way, we could chat and catch up with each other 😊.

We had booked a day trip with Teds Tours. A company that specialises in wine tours and has a very friendly mentos. You can click https://www.tedstours.com.au/hunter-valley-tours/tour-packages for more information. Our driver Kris was amazing. He was a great laugh and very accommodating, picking us up from Wolli Creek and taking us there and back, whilst driving us also around three different vineyards and also to the pub for lunch. Nothing was a bother for him and he managed to keep us all within the time limits, no easy feat when everyone has had a few wines 🤪.

The gang ready to head off with Teds Tours

The three vineyards we had the pleasure of visiting were: Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, Vinden Wines and Tatler. All three were good on there own merit, however, Saltire really stuck out for us. The scenery was unreal. Delicious wines, fantastic setting, a Scottish heritage and the service was extremely warm and inviting. All in all, this vineyard set the bar high and the staff had a really good knowledge and appreciation of their products 🍷.

Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
Vinden Wines

Lunch at The Mighty – this was delicious and I really love this pub!

All in all, this was a great day out. We loved the company, the vineyards and the wines. Would I travel 2.5 hours each way again for a day trip, probably not. However, I would definitely use Teds Tours again, especially if staying in the Hunter in the future. I hope it inspires you to visit Hunter Valley, for a day or a longer stay. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading guys, take care and stay safe.

Wayne ☺️

1 night in Manly ☺️

When you need a break but can’t have more than a weekend off, 1 night will have to suffice. We just wanted to get away for a couple of days for a change of scenery. So we decided on Manly. Although Manly is still within Sydney and easy to travel to, we have never stayed overnight here. You see, you normally would catch the ferry here from Circular Quay and have a day trip in Manly, normally catching a ferry back home at around sunset. There are a few lovely bars and restaurants at the harbour and we would often have a couple of drinks here while waiting on the ferry to come in and take us home. However, when the craic is great and the drinks are flowing, you seem to just watch the ferries arrive and then they depart, without you on them. There’s always time to catch the next ferry 😉. This could go on for about 3 or 4 ferries until we have decided, enough is enough and head back home.

Drinks at the harbour waiting for the ferry ☺️

So this in itself would be a novelty for us to stay here and not have to worry about catching the ferry home. There’s lots to do at Manly and we still hadn’t seen all that is on offer. You have the harbour, bush walks, beaches and rock pools, as well as, amazing bars and restaurants. We decided to stay at Hotel Steyne. It’s a hotel but more so, it is a restaurant and pub, with outdoor areas, a glasshouse bar, whiskey bar and a rooftop with stunning views of Manly beach. It has charm, character and is right in the heart of everything Manly has to offer. We loved this place.

I could not recommend Manly enough for a short stay (more than 1 night would have been amazing) or a longer holiday. It honestly has everything and really feels like a holiday destination. I am seriously looking forward to a longer break but for now, 1 night will have to do 🙏🏼

We caught up with friends from home at The Ivanhoe Hotel.

The beaches and walks are stunning. We didn’t do any bush walks this time but they’re really worth checking out.

Is anyone else planning a night away? Where’s your favourite place to travel for a weekend break?

Thanks everyone for reading!

Keep safe,

Wayne ☺️

Halloween anyone? 🎃

Is Halloween a big deal where you live? I feel like it’s pretty big here in Sydney. Parents go to great lengths to make it fun for the children. They really decorate their houses well and also outside their houses. I once seen hoards of children and their parents travelling the streets en mass here to go trick or treating. I had never seen this before.

Where I’m from in Northern Ireland, the kids would get dressed up and parade the streets to find sweets and candy from the neighbouring houses (you were devastated if someone gave you fruit or nuts!). I had never seen parents also getting dressed up and travelling with their children. Maybe that’s a sign of the times.

I used to love Halloween as a student. It was a great chance to be dressed up in anything really and head to a party with other like minded souls. The outfits didn’t have to be particularly scary. I never really understood that part. As I grow older, Halloween means less and less to me sadly. What about you? Does anyone else look forward to Halloween and it’s festivities?

Wayne 🧙‍♂️

Sydney lockdown is officially over 🙏🏼

We made it guys! After 106 days we are now officially out of lockdown. Boy it feels good…but also a bit nerve wrecking. It’s so nice to have our freedom again, seeing people out and about, hustle and bustle everywhere. However, you can’t help but think, the virus is still out there. I’m still in favour of social distancing and trying to be as safe as possible. Although I’m double vaccinated, I’m still keen to avoid contracting coronavirus 😬.

People of Sydney, or anywhere in the world that has lived through a lockdown (I’m sure everyone has), what was the first thing you did when the lockdown was lifted???

For me, it was work as usual. Being a nurse, we didn’t have any time off during lockdown. Yes I am forever grateful to have been in employment and have some sort of normality. At least we could see our work colleagues and chat about the ever changing pandemic days whilst still earning an income. However, I’m sure I speak for many nurses, it would have been lovely to have a couple of weeks off at home. Not annual leave or being off sick but just days at home to chill out and reset. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and that’s ok.

Finishing work, it was really amazing to see people out on the streets, seeing people sitting through cafe windows enjoying their soy caps and shopping malls with shop doors finally opened again. There was a real buzz around Sydney today and it felt good, albeit a bit strange. The first thing I did was go to the gym. As much as I was slightly nervous, I couldn’t wait to get back to training and seeing friends. Finally I could lift a heavy weight again 🏋️‍♂️ and maybe feel the burn the next day 😅.

I hope you all enjoy the next few days/weeks of having no lockdown. What are you excited to do/see? I personally can not wait to be able to travel again ✈️.

Thanks for reading guys and stay safe 🙏🏼

Wayne 😜

Sydney Lockdown: My 5km radius

Bronte Rock Pool

This week we enter our 15th week of lockdown and hopefully the last, as restrictions will ease here next week. As you may or may not be aware, we have been restricted to moving within 5km of where we live or our local government area. I can honestly say, I have exhausted my 5km radius, having walked almost every area possible 🤣. I want to display a few photos to show you my 5km radius from when lockdown here began and you will see for yourself how diverse a small area in Sydney can be 🙌🏼.

1 – Coastal walks – Bondi to Coogee (or anywhere in between)

Bondi Beach

2 – Centennial Park

3 – Double Bay

4 – Rose Bay

5 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk

This encompasses many of Sydney’s intimate beaches along the harbour with great views of the Sydney city skyline. Includes Milk Beach, Parsley Bay & Nielsen Park.

6 – Paddington

That’s it folks. Thanks for taking a look around my 5km radius. It has been great to be able to show some photos again as it has been a while.

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Wayne ☺️

Blogger Interview With Wayne

I had the honour of being interviewed by a fellow blogger that I really admire. Thank you Pooja of Lifesfinewhine! This is my 4 year blog anniversary and it feels fitting that this should appear as my 40th blog post. I am delighted to have made it this far and I am still thoroughly enjoying being a small part of the blogging community and connecting with other like minded people. Have a read of my interview with Pooja below 👇🏼

I would like to thank Wayne for stopping by lifesfinewhine- he has one of the best travel blogs I’ve had the pleasure of reading so be sure to stop …

Blogger Interview With Wayne

Lockdown 2.0

Hey everyone! I thought I would write a quick blog post without any photographs and just let the writing do the talking (so to speak). Seeing as we cannot travel yet again, this won’t be too difficult. I actually have no photos to showcase interesting places recently. We can’t even travel locally now as we have been in lockdown since Monday. I think everyone here, in Sydney at least, knew this day would come again.

With the vaccination rate being one of the lowest in the world, this was bound to happen. Covid cases have jumped dramatically from 1 known case. The only way to curb the increase is to go into another lockdown, maintain strict social distancing and wear a mask. Other essential things to practice include hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and wearing your mask correctly 🤦🏼‍♂️.

The number one thing people can do here in Australia is to become vaccinated. It hasn’t helped that the media has continually reported on the negative aspects of the vaccines, for example, the blood clot incidents from AstraZeneca. Scare mongering people and creating a fear of the vaccine. Every medicine/vaccine will have some side effects. The odds of receiving life threatening side effects are minimal (yes of course there is a risk with anything). If a person was not vaccinated, would said person have worse outcomes with receiving the virus itself? Who knows 🤷🏼‍♂️.

The lack of travel is understandable and of course we can live without it for a short time. The main thing is for everyone to be safe and healthy. My only concern is when will be return to some sort of normality? There are so many questions that cannot be answered as yet unfortunately. When we will be able to travel internationally to see our families? Will the Australian border be closed forever? Are the states in Australia more divided than ever before? Will we all be vaccinated this year?

Anyway. That’s my little rant 🤣. I hope everyone will abide by the rules, become vaccinated, stay safe and look after each other. This may get worse before it gets better. I am still forever grateful to be in the position we are in here in Australia and feel thankful to have a premier who has done good by NSW #gladys 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

Travel bloggers question time 🤗

A really cool blogger Theredphoneboxtravels that I follow and always inspires me suggested these questions to be answered by her followers. I thought it was a great idea to share travel experiences ✌🏽. Feel free to have a read below ⬇️

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2017 when I moved to Australia from Ireland. I initially wanted to share my new experiences here in Sydney and keep people updated with my goings on. However, I soon started to blog about places of interest to travel and explore. I wanted to share trips locally to promote them and show others interesting places to check out. Lots of people ask me about places I have travelled so I thought it would be fun and beneficial to create blog posts about them ✌🏽

What souvenirs do you buy on your travels?

I like to buy items that remind me of a place I have been. I especially like items with the place name on them, for example, T-shirts or vests that state the name. I also like fridge magnets that remind me of a certain place.

Name your top 5 cities that you’ve visited.

This is hard as I feel I have seen so many amazing cities from living in Europe most of my life.

Number 1 – I suppose this ought to be Sydney. I lived here in 2009 and fell in love with this city. I had to come back and explore it more. Hence, why I have lived here for the past 4 years. I love the scenery, the weather, the culture and the fact that there is always something new to discover. You have the city life, beach life and bush walks all in one place.

Number 2 – Amalfi. This is more a town than a city but it is my most favourite place I have ever visited. The area is absolutely stunning. The quaint little streets are beautiful and the Amalfi Cathedral is breathtaking. The view of the cathedral and the steps leading to it from the Piazza del Duomo are really a sight to behold. The food, the people, the culture, scenery and infamous coastline make this area simply out of this world.

Number 3 – Paris. The best city to get lost in. Beautiful city, oozing with culture, history and diversity. The famous landmarks do not disappoint.

Number 4 – Berlin. The city that keeps on giving. Steeped in history and offers so many things to see and do. Constantly evolving and so so friendly. To be honest I love any city in Germany!

Number 5 – Barcelona. Never a dull moment in this city. Love the architecture and culture. The food and eateries are stunning. You could walk around the streets of this city all day and night.

What’s the best dessert you’ve ever had on your travels?

Limencello. Also not really a desert but this always stands out in my mind and it’s something I would have after a main course so it feels like a desert to me. The first time I experienced this liqueur was in Amalfi. Obviously it was going to be unreal here and it was constantly being offered to you. My love for limencello had begun 🍋.

Have you ever travelled somewhere by boat? (ferries, cruise ships, river boats etc.)

Too many places to mention. Taking the boat from Nadi, Fiji to Musket Cove was an unreal experience and definitely worth doing if you’re over this side of the world.

I once took a small boat trip to Tory Island, just off the coast of Donegal, Ireland. Take the boat from Magheroarty in Donegal and head over to Tory. Not best if you suffer from travel sickness as the waters can be very choppy but it is an amazing island to visit and explore some of the fine art available.

Do you have a favourite travel movie/book?

Life of Pi is one of my favourite books and the story is set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The movie is pretty epic too with the special effects. I was also fortunate enough to see the stage show at the Grand Opera House Belfast and it was fantastic.

What are you looking forward to when the lockdown/covid-19 restrictions in your country finish?

Travelling home to Ireland to see my family and friends. It’s been 2 years this week since I have been home and the home sickness is well and truly setting in.

For those of you who are up for participating, here are the rules: provide a link to the creator’s original award post; answer the questions provided; create 7 unique questions; nominate up to 10 bloggers; ensure that they are aware of their nomination.

My questions:

1 – Why did you start blogging?

2 – Where has been your favourite place to visit on your travels?

3 – What has been your favourite food on your travels?

4 – What is your favourite thing about the country you are from?

5 – Who do you love to travel with?

6 – What is your favourite type of accommodation to stay in whilst travelling and has there been a stand out accommodation experience?

7 – What is your favourite thing to do whilst travelling?

I have nominated 5 bloggers. Please feel free to answer my questions and there is no pressure if you choose not too ☺️

Emerdblog

My mere musings

The thoughts and life of me

Life’s Fine Wine

Love Travelling Blog

My very 1st blog!

Hello there. What’s the craic? I have been debating for a long time whether to start blogging or not, mainly down to the time that may be required. However, I feel it is something that could be fun, therapeautic and provide a platform to interact with others from all walks of life. I’m very new to this so please bare with me.

So a little about me. I’m a man in my near mid thirties and I come from Northern Ireland. I had been living in Belfast for the last decade but my ambition was to 1 day return to the land down under. Having already spent a year in Australia on a working holiday visa, I soon acquired the desire to return in the future. 7 years later a lot has changed in my life and I have reached my goal of becoming a permanent resident. It has been a lengthy process with many highs and lows, however, it has been an incredible journey that is still continuing to this day.

Please follow me on my Australian adventure and I will aim to keep you updated and entertained.

Thanks a lot,

Wayne ✌🏽

When I saw this landmark I knew I was in Australia! 👌🏼

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