Paphos & Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus – Part 2

I was planning to keep this blog up-to-date, but I started working recently (I initially thought I was going to be a stay-at-home expat wife), so have again neglected this blog. It has almost been two months since we visited Cyprus, but here is my final post.

So we spent a wonderful day exploring the Akamas Peninsula. We were extremely lucky with the weather during the time we spent in Cyprus. It was the end of November, but we had incredibly sunny days and the temperature on the coast was a nice 22 degrees celsius. The water was the same temperature, so we also stopped at one of the bays for a swim. Although it was a tad windy, as you can see in the photo below, we could not have wished for better weather.

The bays along the Akamas Peninsula are beautiful, and in November, you can spend a day relaxing by the water and not run into anyone. There were a few people walking along the path from the Baths of Aphrodite to the Blue Lagoon, and one or two other people on quadbikes, but you still felt as though you had the place to yourself.

We headed back to our accommodation in Drousia in the late afternoon. On our way we drove through some of the small rural roads around the village and got some beautiful golden-hued shots of the vineyards and surrounding countryside. The town of Drousia has a population of about 400 people, which swells during the summer months. But in the low season, you can see the locals going about their daily business, tending their fields and wandering through the narrow streets of the village.

We left Cyrpus being very impressed with the country. We spent four fantastic days exploring the southern half of Cyprus. We would like to go back and visit the northern, Turkish administered part of Cyprus some day.

I’m heading to Tanzania next week, so stay tuned for some post from Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and other places in Tanzania. I will also be updating my blog to include a few other places we have visited in Oman over the last few months.

71727374757677787980818283848586878889

Essentials

Stay:
We stayed at KTIMA 1937 Kannides (booked on Airbnb) which is a traditional house which has been renovated and converted into five apartments. It was simple and cosy and less than an hour’s drive to the Akamas Peninsula. There is also a new hotel in Drousia, called Dorusia Heights Hotel, for those who are after a bit of comfort and style.

Eat:
Not wanting to venture out too far, we walked down the road from our accommodation and had dinner at Christo’s Tavern. It is run by a lovely husband and wife team and feels like an extension of their home, with simple furniture and a fire place blazing in the winter months. There is no menu, just what’s available on the day.

Advertisements

Raz al-Jinz, Sur & The Sinkhole, Oman

In search for sea turtles, we headed down the coast to Raz al-Jinz, stopping by at Sur and the Bimmah Sinkhole along the way. There are a number of day and weekend trips you can do within an easy drive from Muscat, with many things to see and do. There aren’t any famous landmarks or tourist centres in Oman – it’s all about getting outside and enjoying nature and the wonderful landscapes. And it’s not only tourists who enjoy exploring Oman – many Omanis also spend there weekends outside of the city, having barbecues and picnics by beaches and wadis, or hiking in the mountains.

Even though it was towards the end of the turtle hatching season, which lasts from July to September, we still headed to Raz al-Jinz in the hope of seeing turtles. Raz al-Jinz beach is a government protected turtle reserve, where green turtles come to lay there eggs. It is believe that over 20,000 female turtles come to the beach each year. We were lucky enough to see one female turtle laying her eggs and a couple of young hatchlings making their way to the ocean. I was unable to get a good photo of the hatchlings – they move incredibly fast and along with the dawn light, the photos turned out rather blurry.

On our way back to Muscat, we stopped by Sur to stretch our legs and take a few photos. Sur is known for its fishing and boat building industries, as well as it’s beautiful forts and corniche (a seaside promenade). The bay, which is hugged by the old town Ayjah, is guarded by a lighthouse and contains beautiful clear turquoise water, which sits as a contrast to the rough orange rock of the fort outposts. Whilst walking though Ayjah you will notice some of the old wooden doors which Omani villages are famous for.

Another must see during any visit to Oman is Bimmah Sinkhole, which is located in Hawiyat Najm Park, just off the Muscat-Sur Highway. It’s a great place to stop for a swim – the water is wonderfully clear and the temperature is refreshing, but not cold. Be weary of the small fish which inhabit the sinkhole – they will nibble at you, which can be rather ticklish, if not annoying. However, if you keep moving they will keep away and you can enjoying bathing in this stunning natural pool.

12315161718192021222324252627

Essentials

Getting There:
Raz al-Jinz, Sur and the Bimmah Sinkhole can all be reached by the Muscat-Sur Highway. Raz al-Jinz is 300km south of Muscat and almost a 3 hour drive, Sur is 200km and just over 2 hour drive, and the sinkhole is 125km and a 1.5 hour drive south of Muscat. Again, you will have to take a car, as there is not public transport along this route.

Stay:
We stayed at Raz al-Jinz Turtle Reserve in their new eco glamping tents, which overlook the beach. The accommodation isn’t cheap, but most decent places in Oman aren’t. The tents were comfortable and clean, and well worthwhile staying at if you wish to see the turtles at night and at dawn. The turtle reserve offers complimentary night and morning turtle tours for those staying at the reserve.
Oman doesn’t do budget accommodation well yet, but as tourism increases, I’m sure there will be more good budget options available in the near future.

Mornington Peninsula, Australia

After a day exploring Wilsons Promontory, we headed back towards Melbourne to spend a day exploring the Mornington Peninsula.

First stop was the Red Hill Markets, which are open on the first Saturday of each month. They were some of the best food and craft markets that I have visited to date. Browse Red Hill Racecourse for a selection of hand made crafts and fresh produce. Don’t forget to grab some lunch from the numerous food vendors, and don’t leave without buying a jar or two of jam from the jam ladies, who have been at the markets for thirty years.

The Mornington Peninsula is also a fantastic wine growing region, specialising in pinot noir and cool climate chardonnay. Many of the wineries are small family run enterprises, rather than large commercial wineries, and are all located within the small area of the Mornington Peninsula, so it’s easy to visit a number of them within a day.

Another must do is a drive around the suburbs of Sorrento and Portsea. These two suburbs, which are located on the tip of the peninsula, are gorgeous, with lovely streets and beautiful homes. We did a coastal walk, locally known as the Millionaires Walk, which runs along the cliff front homes. The views are spectacular, as are a number of the homes.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
10 11

Essentials

Getting there:
The Mornington Peninsular is about an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne CBD. Alternatively, you can take the car ferry from Queenscliff, near Geelong, which takes you to Sorrento. This is a good option for those arriving from Avalon Airport.

Eat:
Grab fish and chips in Sorrento and sit by the water’s edge. You’ll know where the fish and chip shop is – it will be overflowing with customers at midday.

Wineries:
Our favourite winery was Foxeys Hangout. It is a great place for lunch, with a view onto the vineyard below. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are great and good value for money.

Ngapali Beach, Myanmar – Part 2

It has been quite a while, almost too long, since I’ve updated this blog. My last post was dated April 17, 2015, which is over a 18 months ago. We’ve had a lot going on – moving in together, renovating, redundancies, new jobs, studies, illnesses and finally moving overseas. So in between all that, this blog has fallen by the wayside. And with so much happening, we haven’t travelled much in that time either.

So here is where I left off, in Myanmar. This is the final post from our trip to Myanmar which we did over the Christmas/New Year break of 2014/2015. We woke up early on our third morning in Ngapali Beach and took a boat with a local fisherman and his son to snorkel around Pearl Island, about a kilometre off the coast of Ngapali Beach. The visibility offshore wasn’t the best, and we were in the shadow of the island, but we still saw a number of schools of fish swimming through the rocks.

After lunch, we visited a few of the small villages close to our accommodation and spent the afternoon and evening, as per usual, on the deck of the guesthouse looking out onto the beach and the watching beautiful sunset.

On our fourth day, we took a bus, well a ute with seating installed in the back, to Thandwe town, to have a look at the town and wander through the local markets. There isn’t any organised public transport in these seaside town, so you simply have to wait for a pickup on the road and ask the driver if they are heading the the direction you wish to go to. The fresh fruit and vegetable markets were not as impressive as those of 26th Street in Yangon, but it was interesting to wander through them all the same.

We left Ngapali Beach after four relaxing days to head back to Yangon and then back home to Sydney.

img_7328untitled-11img_7372img_7377untitled-12img_7399img_7401img_7403img_7419img_7430untitled-13img_7433untitled-21img_7445img_7449img_7471img_7478untitled-22img_7494img_7508img_7513img_7519img_7522img_7526img_7529img_7534

Kakadu, Australia – Day Two

Our second day in Kakadu National Park was just as good as our first. After our laid back breakfast in our bush bungalow in Jabiru, we headed out for a long drive to Gunlom – a spectacular infinity pool, free from crocodiles. The majority of the drive was on the nice sealed Kakadu Highway. But from the turnoff to Gunlom, it was 4WD territory. A sedan could handle the first part of the unsealed road, and although the latter part didn’t require the 4WD capacity of the car, the road was extremely uneven, which required the height clearance of a 4WD to pass.

Gunlom plunge pool is located at the top of a mountain, and it’s a steep and strenuous 45 minute walk to the top. But it is worth the hard work and effort, as you arrive at a beautiful waterhole with a spectacular view as a backdrop.

After Gunlom we headed back north to Cooinda to embark on a sunset Yellow Water cruise. If I had to give a Kakadu highlight, this would probably be it. The two hour cruise takes you down Yellow Water were you see a plethora of birdlife and the odd crocodile or two. The river and the surrounding vegetation is spectacular, especially against the orange and purple hues of the top end sunset.

Back at our bungalow we had a BBQ dinner of local barramundi to top off our day.

IMG_4661

IMG_4667

Untitled-11

IMG_4685

IMG_4694

Untitled-13

IMG_4705

Untitled-14

IMG_4723

IMG_4726

IMG_4728

Untitled-15

IMG_4740

IMG_4747

Untitled-20

IMG_4752

IMG_4762

IMG_4763

IMG_4769

IMG_4775

IMG_4789

IMG_4799

IMG_4805

Untitled-21

IMG_4822

IMG_4827

IMG_4837

IMG_4840

IMG_4845

IMG_4851

IMG_4867

IMG_4873

IMG_4889

IMG_4891

IMG_4892

IMG_4901

IMG_4917

Untitled-22

IMG_4922

IMG_4934

IMG_4945

IMG_4993

IMG_5001

IMG_5010

Koya-San, Japan

Koya-San was probably my favourite place in Japan. Far from the cosmopolitan cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Koya-San is a world of its own. Nestled atop of a mountain, at almost 1000m above sea level, this former Buddhist monastery town still retains its old world charm. The small town of about 3000 inhabitants is dotted with a plethora of temples and shrines, as well as a vast UNESCO heritage listed cemetery. We spent the afternoon amongst the cherry blossoms wandering around this picturesque and spiritual town.

Untitled-1 IMG_2761 Untitled-2 IMG_2797 IMG_2805 Untitled-3 IMG_2806 IMG_2808 IMG_2810 Untitled-4 IMG_2814 Untitled-5 IMG_2829 IMG_2830 IMG_2838 Untitled-6 IMG_2861 Untitled-7 IMG_2886 IMG_2892 Untitled-8 IMG_2903 IMG_2910 Untitled-9 IMG_2912 Untitled-10 IMG_2922 IMG_2926 IMG_2939 IMG_2950 IMG_2956 IMG_2979 IMG_2983 IMG_2988 IMG_2991 IMG_3000 IMG_3001 Untitled-11 IMG_3022 IMG_3024Essentials

Getting There:
Take the train from Namba station in Osaka to Gokurakubashi Station. If coming from Kyoto, take the train to Osaka, then to Shinimamiya to change to Gokurakubashi. From Gokurakubashi, take the cable car up to Koya-San and from the cable car station there is a regular bus service to the main sights in the town. There is a Koya-San pass you can purchase from Namba Station of Shinimamiya Station, which covers all rail and bus services to and from Koya-San.

Stay:
There are plenty of former temples and shrines which now serve as bed and breakfasts. This is a great option if you want a unique cultural experience in Koya-San.

Happy New Year!

I like to wish all my readers a very happy new year. I hope 2014 brings you all you wish for and more.

As I look over my travels in 2013, I am amazed at some of the amazing and beautiful places I have had the chance to visit over the past 12 months. I’ve collated a brief overview of images from these places.

Fingers crossed that 2014 will bring some move exciting travels and adventures. So far, I have a long weekend trip to Wellington, New Zealand booked for late January,  and a little over a week planned in Palawan, The Philippines. Hopefully a two week trip through Japan will feature this year, as well as a wedding in Portugal in September and a few more weekends exploring the north island of New Zealand.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the blog over the past year, and will continue to enjoy it in the future.

Many thanks for reading.

Jade. x