Well, this was a bit of unexpected fun in the middle of our Australian Winter! The ABCs of Travel Tag poses twenty-six alphabetical travel-related questions from A to Z ! Answering this quiz brought back so many happy memories, so thank you, my beautiful daughter, Jenny, for your nomination. I’m afraid that my answers can’t quite live up to your amazing experiences, but I will do my best!!!
Jenny writes a terrific blog about her adventures in Australia and overseas at : https://traveladventurediscover.com. She has totally surpassed us in our travels and has been to so many wonderful places and had so many amazing adventures! She caught the travel bug well and truly from us on her first overseas trip at the age of seven years old – little did we realize what we were setting in motion!
A: Age when you went on your first international trip :
Unlike Jen, my first international trip was much later! I was 24 years old and had only been married one year! It was a wonderful bonding experience in the early years of our marriage and we have travelled together ever since! We share so many special memories, including that first foray in 1984 to England, France, Switzerland and Italy; a 10 week trip en famille to the United Kingdom and France, 10 years later; another family holiday to both islands of New Zealand, the flight made on the frequent flyer points accrued from the 1994 trip; a celebratory milestone on Lord Howe Island for my 40th birthday; and an extended trip camping around Australia in 2008.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where :
Unfortunately, I have never been a keen beer drinker! I just don’t like the taste! So, because I grew up on the foothills of Mt. Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania, I would have to give my beer vote to the Cascade Brewery, which was just down the road! And I know it might not strictly be foreign, but some people might think it is!
C: Cuisine (favourite) :
I enjoy most foods and Australia’s multicultural background means we are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating! However, I think my favourite cuisine would have to be French – I just love those creamy dishes!
D: Destinations – favourite, least favourite, and why :
And yes, France is also my favourite destination! While we enjoyed our week in Paris on my first trip, I adore country France with its rustic architecture, bright red poppy fields, beautiful alpine scenery, superb food and wine and wonderfully generous people! The French love children and were so impressed that we had brought the whole family from so far away on our trip in 1994. They opened their doors and their hearts to us and we had some amazing experiences, from exploring the Standing Stones of Carnac and the prehistoric cave paintings of the Dordogne to staying in a chateau for my 35th birthday (Château de Régnier, La Trimouille, near Limoges – see photo below and a previous birthday post: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/05/31/landmark-birthdays-part-1/), hiking in the Pyrenees, viewing flamingos in the Camargue, and visiting old craft villages and Monet’s beautiful garden at Giverny.We have enjoyed all our travels, but my least favourite destination was probably King Ash Bay, near Borroloola, Northern Territory, on the Gulf of Carpentaria! We stumbled upon this outback fishing village by chance, but for such a remote location, it was a bit too suburban and populated for us, with all the vans camped cheek by jowl like sardines and even street names like Sunset Boulevard! It may have been good if you were a fisherman with your own boat and could get away to your own space, but as tent campers, who value their independence and love quiet spots and natural history, we were definitely out of place!
E: Experience abroad that made you say “Wow” ! :
It would have to be hiking in the Pyrenees! While Jenny remembers the start of the Pyreneean Haute Route vividly (see: https://traveladventurediscover.com/2017/07/11/abcs-of-travel-tag/), it was the middle section of the walk the next day that gave me the Wow factor!
There were so many different aspects to this walk – a stream with bumblebees and wildflowers; deciduous and conifer forests; higher meadows of wild rhododendrons and magnificent views; wild hyacinths and orchids on the gravelly upper slopes and 3 glacial lakes at the end, the Lacs d’Ayous, where the snow still lay thickly on the ground. I will be writing about this experience in a post on travel books in October. The Wow factor came, the higher we ascended the walk, with the slow reveal of the back of the Pic Midi d’Ossau, which increasingly resembled the map of our own home country! And the other Wow was the fact that our 4.5 year old daughter Caroline managed the entire 11 km walk on her own without having to be carried once!F: Favourite mode of transportation :
In my younger days, I would have said a bicycle, having cycled to university every day during my studies and doing a long distance bike trip from Beenleigh to Kyogle, following the incredibly steep Lions Road, a holiday which had far-reaching consequences, as it was when I started my relationship with my future husband! We also enjoyed cycling round Lord Howe – the perfect way to experience such a beautiful island! These days, it’s my own two feet! We love bushwalking and exploring our beautiful National Parks! Here I am climbing Cooks’ Look at Lizard Island.
G: Greatest feeling while travelling :
The total freedom and lack of time restraints, as well as making the utmost of every single day and discovering the new, whether it be places, people, things or even aspects about yourself! Travel is so invigorating and inspiring, even though I know it can be tiring and exhausting too, especially if travelling with young children, but you soon forget all that!!
H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to :
It would have to be Cooktown (photo above) in North Queensland. Even though it was Winter, I was still having 6 stone-cold showers a day to cool off and lost so much weight, sweating off the pounds on our ascents of every hill or mountain we encountered, like Mt. Cook, North Queensland (photo below)!
I: Incredible photo you’ve taken and where :
Lizard Island has so many wonderful photo opportunities and is an incredibly beautiful island! This photo is Blue Lagoon, taken from Cooks’ Lookout, the highest point of the island.
J: Journey that took the longest :
In 2008, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend 6 months travelling around our vast continent! It was a celebratory trip for our 25th wedding anniversary, as well as the fact that Ross had just turned 60 and I was 50 the next year. During our honeymoon in 1983, we camped on the beach on our own at Cape Tribulation just before the Bloomfield Road was built. It is much busier these days with many international tourists, but one of them very obligingly took this photograph of us at the same spot 25 years later!
Originally, the plan was to visit Iron Range National Park, a mecca for ornithologists and butterfly lovers like ourselves, but our youngest daughter (photo below), who had just finished her schooling, decided to join us, so we went right up to the tip of Cape York.
Once there, at the 3 month mark, we decided to continue our trip for another 3 months and circumnavigate Australia, while we were still footloose and fancy-free! You can read about our Cape York adventures on: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/06/07/landmark-birthdays-part-2/.
The outlay was minimal, as we already owned all our camping gear and an old Toyota 4WD, which we set up with my plastic patchwork material drawers to hold all our equipment.We had some amazing experiences from searching for (and finding) the endangered Golden-Shouldered Parrots, as well as Eclectus Parrots and Tree Kangaroos in Cape York and Gouldian Finches at Mornington, an Australian Wildlife Conservancy property on the Gibb River Road, to viewing ancient aboriginal rock art in Laura, Cape York, Kakadu National Park, Victoria River, Mitchell Falls and Wandjina Gorge and 30 000 years old engravings on the Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia.We fed dolphins at Monkey Mia; had my first scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef (above) and snorkelled on Lizard Island and Ningaloo Reef; climbed every mountain in sight; visited friends and family at the Daintree River, Herberton and Perth; and photographed Spring wildflowers in WA; as well as having the odd luxury of spending a few civilised nights in lovely old cottages in Denmark and Hahndorf and crossing the Nullabor in the Indian Pacific. No wonder we looked so relaxed in this photo taken at Mission Beach, with Dunk Island in the background!K: Keepsake from your travels :
Well, the last photo was a giveaway, as well as the photo of Caroline at the tip of Cape York!!! Ross has always loved Winnie the Pooh and on that 2008 trip, we took Eoyore’s cousin, whom we christened Grey Nomad, and photographed him at various locations on the trip! Here, he is snorkelling at Ningaloo Reef!
He rode a coconut on the Bloomfield Road and the heads of a Rainbow Serpent at Cooktown Botanical Garden and his giant megafaunal cousin, a Diprotodon, at Naracoorte Caves, South Australia! Totally demoralised by the latter experience, he felt slightly better, when he saw this photo of himself with a termite mound in North Queensland. We didn’t like to tell him that this was only a mini-mound, compared to most of them!
L: Let-down sight, why and where :
This was a hard question, as we have enjoyed all of our travels and perception is often governed by previous experiences, but the waterfalls behind Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, were a slight disappointment for us, as we were used to much larger falls , though they are still very pretty. Having spent many years in the Armidale/ Dorrigo region, we were used to the magnificent waterfalls of the aptly name Waterfall Way between the two towns, one example being the Wollomombi Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls in Australia, but is just pipped by Wallaman Falls in North Queensland, seen in the photograph below.
M: Moment that you fell in love with travel :
I think I have always loved exploring. My dad was from England and a bit of a gypsy at heart, while my mum was a Qantas air hostess in the early days (1950s), when travel was a luxury and the staff were put up at the best hotels while refuelling, so we grew up with the expectation that we would travel overseas when we had finished our studies. We also lived in a few different places during our childhood and had lots of family picnics and camping trips, a pattern which I have repeated during my adult life!
N: Nicest hotel :
My choice overseas would be the Hotel du Petit Palais (www.petitpalaisnice.com/en/) in Nice, which we discovered quite by chance (and good luck!), back in 1984. We’d been rejected from every accommodation venue we’d approached that evening, as we only had Swiss francs, and were wearily retracing our steps up the hill back to the train station, when we discovered this lovely little hotel at 10 pm. The beds were unmade, the cleaner had gone home, we would have to make our own beds (!) and it was way above our price range, but they took us in, despite the fact we couldn’t pay them until the morning and we were so happy to have finally found a room! The next morning was bliss, after a difficult few rainy days in Italy. The sun was shining, the birds were singing in the pink flowering cherry trees, there were civilised street lights and I could speak the language! We sat in the sun at a sidewalk cafe, enjoying a bottomless cup of perfect French coffee! Heaven!
In Australia, my favourite hotel is the Hughenden (http://thehughenden.com.au/), in Woollahra, NSW, an elegant literary establishment in the grand old style and a peaceful haven after the hurly burly of a hectic day in the Sydney CBD!
O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?
Everything- but especially flowers and birds! The Spring wildflowers in Western Australia are superb, as every region has its own particular range of species. Lesueur National Park is a hotspot for biodiversity, but fortunately the road in is one way only, a safety element for keen photographers! Here is a photo of Sturt’s Desert Pea :In the photo below, I was so keen to photograph an ant plant, that I actually stepped on a small snake with my thongs! Needless to say, I got such a fright that I wore shoes from then on!
P: Passport stamps – how many and where from?
Now, this is where my woeful lack of overseas travel, compared to Jen and her other nominees, becomes really obvious! I have passport stamps from Bangkok, Singapore, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, USA and New Zealand! Does Tasmania count?!!!
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where :
The Tilted House at Puzzling World (http://www.puzzlingworld.co.nz/) at Wanaka, NZ , would have to be one of the quirkiest places we have visited. The architect has had a lot of fun with levels and completely destroyed my already-compromised sense of balance and equilibrium, after spending the previous night on a sailing boat on Milford Sound! In the photo below, Ross is standing upright, but appears to be leaning forward, due to the clever manipulation of angles and perspective.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience :
I would highly recommend a stay at the Bird Observatory on the Fair Isles. We sat with puffins on the cliff every evening, visited Fair Isle Knitters, walked everywhere, participated in birding activities like banding and netting, and even played a dubious game of island soccer, the locals versus the Bird Observatory. Our weekend visit felt like we had been there for weeks! Here is Jen, sitting on the cliffs with the puffins.Puffins are such cute birds and so trusting! It is amazing to be so close to them!
S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking out for while travelling
Aerial experiences are pretty special and well worth the money, especially if you have limited time! We shared a helicopter ride with another couple over aboriginal stone circles on the Mitchell Plateau, out to the coast and the Timor Sea, where we saw a mother and baby dugong, then back along King Edward River, lined with huge saltwater crocodiles basking in the sun, to the Lower and then Upper Mitchell Falls.Even though the cost was exorbitant and the journey quite scary at times, as there were no doors, I was sitting right at the edge of my seat (with 3 adults sharing the back seat!) and we flew so low, I had to constantly resist the temptation to jump out (!), it was an amazing experience and we are so pleased we did it!T: Touristy thing
However, back in 1984, while travelling on a student discount card, we refused to pay exhorbitant sums on punting at Cambridge, hiring a rowboat instead, which wasn’t quite the real thing, and we always slightly regretted it, so with this memory in the back of our minds, we lashed out on the jaunting car for the family at Muckross House and Gardens, at Killarney in Ireland.U: Unforgettable travel memory :
We have had so many wonderful travel experiences, but for this reply, I have chosen our holiday at Lord Howe Island to celebrate my 40th birthday! We climbed Mt Gower on the actual day and called Providence Petrels out of the sky to land with a thud at our feet, to be picked up and cuddled- unforgettable!It certainly is a wonderful place, if like us, you love bushwalking and natural history. For more about our amazing experiences, see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/05/31/landmark-birthdays-part-1/.
V: Visas – how many and where for?
Oh dear, another exposé !!! I’m not sure about the first trip in 1984, as I no longer have that passport, but in 1994, I have two visas: a 3 month one for France and one for the USA. We were only stopping over in Los Angeles for 3.5 hours, but still had to preorganize a visa, just in case there was a problem with our connecting flight back to Australia and we had to stay overnight!
W: Wine – best glass of wine while travelling and where
As old bed-and-breakfast owners, we often found it difficult to get away and used to salivate, hearing guests talk about their wonderful holidays at places like the Hunter Valley, famed for its beautiful wines. So, for our anniversary weekend in 1998, we did just that and loved exploring the cellar doors and tasting the delicious boutique wines! My favourite wine from that trip would have to be the dessert wine, Briar Ridge’s Botrytis Semillon. See: http://briarridge.com.au/our-wines-and-shop/product-detail/?ProductID=128. It was divine!!!
X: Xcellent view :
This shot, taken at Aragunnu, one of our local beauty spots, (https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/11/aragunnu-and-bunga-head/) would have to be one of my favourite views!Y: Years spent travelling:
Hard to say, as our travels have been fairly sporadic. Our longer trips were all taken at crossover points in our life between property sales and the old life and the new! Both overseas trips were ten weeks from late March to mid-June, so in Spring and early Summer; we had two weeks in New Zealand and ten days on Lord Howe; and six months around Australia. So if you only take these major holidays, it doesn’t appear to be much!
However, we have also had lots of smaller two-week vacations like camping at Carnarvon Gorge or hiring a beach house at Hat Head or South-West Rocks, and have also lived in a number of different places, where we have made the most of each period to really explore each area: two years in Tasmania; fifteen years in the Armidale/ Dorrigo region in Northern NSW, five years in Victoria and the last three years here on the South Coast of NSW, so if you include these periods, the total number of years spent travelling dramatically increases!
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
While we don’t watch a lot of sport, we always enjoy watching the Hopman Cup, WA, every January on television and at the beginning of 2013, we attended The Australian Tennis Open with our daughters- a great day out!
I hope you have enjoyed my responses to this ABCs of Travel Tag. Here are my nominees:
Postcard from Gibraltar : https://postcardfromgibraltar.com
This talented watercolourist and fellow craftswoman writes a lovely blog about her life in Gibraltar, as well as her travels to other parts of sunny Spain and Britain.
The World According to Dina : https://toffeefee.wordpress.com/
A dual blog, written by Klausbernd Vollmar and Hanne Siebers, who love the colder climes of Norway, the Arctic and Scotland and mountains like the Bavarian Alps, as well as their home in Norfolk. Hanne is a fabulous photographer!
Old House in the Shires : https://oldhouseintheshires.com
A fellow gardener, who also loves old houses, nature and the great outdoors, Sophie writes wonderful posts about gardens in France and England and family holidays in Germany and Italy. Through her blog, I discovered my final nominee:
That Travel Lady in Her Shoes : https://thecadyluckleedy.com
CadyLuck writes wonderful posts about travel, history, books and gardens. She has travelled extensively in Europe, Turkey and Egypt and North America and Canada and has many travelling tips as well.
I look forward to reading all your responses!