Norway WinterΒ 

2 weeks aboard Fred.Olsen’s Braemar. Our first ever cruise and I for one am hooked! 

Norway is stunningly beautiful. The further north you go the colder and snowier it gets but it was all magical.

I intend to do more in depth posts on each port and excursion but have had to get straight back into writing my dissertation after slacking off for two weeks on the cruise! I’ve also been suffering with quite a few migraines recently which has meant crossing anything not marked ‘urgent’ off the to-do list! 

For the amount of places you see and the amount of stuff you get to do and the amount of amazing FOOD they provide you with, it’s really reasonable money wise too. 

I feel that a lot of young people don’t even think about cruising when looking for their next trip or adventure and to be honest we were the youngest people on the boat by about 25 years! But, I can honestly say it didn’t bother us, the other guests were all lovely and curious to know how we felt about cruising. It was like being on holiday with a whole bunch of grandparents, great aunties and uncles etc. 

As always, any comments and questions are welcome πŸ™‚

– neonwanderlust xo 

The Whitsunday Islands

I just had the most incredible 3 days, in the most gorgeous of surroundings, with the most spectacular weather (and not bad company, *wink wink* to you, boyfriend)

Our Australian roadtrip took us up to Airlie Beach (beautiful in itself, but that’s for another post) and from there we visited the wonder that is the Whitsunday Islands.

The 74 islands that make up this ‘tropical paradise’ (clichΓ© but true) off the northeast Queensland coast are actually mountain tips poking out from the coral sea. A feast for the eyes, sandy beaches slope down into the crystal clear ocean that leads off to the horizon in every shade of blue imaginable. There are no crashing waves or undercurrents thanks to the shelter provided by the Great Barrier Reef, so the waters are almost still and perfect for swimming and sailing.

We were staying at Seabreeze Holiday Park and the receptionist there was more than happy to set us up with lots of information and brochures on trips and tours we might be interested in.

There is so much to choose from it can be a little daunting but after some careful research and maths we settled on cruisewhitsundays. We had a budget of $250 AUD per person set aside specifically for the Whitsundays and we wanted to get the most for our money. We found they do a deal where if you book 2 day trips you get 10% off and if you book 3 day trips you get 15% off! On top of that our campsite offered 10% off camping fees if you book through reception and you also got 1 night free if you stayed for a week, which we did!

Day 1 we booked a cruise to take us to Long Island. The views of the islands as you passed them were spectacular and all the http://www.cruisewhitsundays.com boats have free tea and coffee facilities, perfect for those early morning starts! When you arrive you are a day guest at the resort there, with full use of the facilities. We started off with a bush walk when we got there, we had heard good things about the views you get from the top and thought it was better to do it straight away before the day got hotter! The views did not disappoint!

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Afterwards we headed straight to the pool to cool off with a swim and a cocktail once the pool bar opened.

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Lunch is included and you are given a voucher when you book that we took up to the pool bar. The menu they offered us was huge with a good variety of options. We both went for burger and fries, his a steak burger and mine being filled with grilled veggies (it was good to see a few vegetarian options!) We were surprised to find that the voucher also got us a dessert each, he went for a chocolate ice cream Sunday and I had a fresh fruit pavlova. We both had a brilliant day, it was the best of both worlds, bit of adventure in the morning followed by a relaxing afternoon.

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Day 2 saw us aboard another comfortable boat, with free tea and coffee, cruising around the Whitsundays with some informative and sometimes entertaining commentary from the onboard staff. Halfway through the cruise you stop at Whitsunday Island and are ferried across to the beauty that claims the title of Australia’s number one beach. Whitehaven Beach stands out for its pure white silica sand, which is always cool to the touch, even on the hottest of days. You get around two hours beach-time so we jumped straight in the ocean on arrival, swam for a bit, tried out our new snorkels, and then spent the second hour lying on the beach drying off. When we got back on the boat the staff had afternoon tea all laid out for us, a buffet with fresh fruit platters and scones with jam and cream that were sooooo good (we had 3 scones each and didn’t even feel guilty!)

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Day 3 was probably our favourite day. We knew what we were doing in terms of checking in at the harbour and we knew where to sit to get the best views on the boat and get ourselves settled with our complimentary hot beverages! We booked to spend the day at Daydream Island and it really was dreamy. We had arranged to have our lunch at ‘The Bakery’ so followed the signs that way even though most people who got of the boat seemed to be going the other way. Turns out we made the right choice, we ended up by a swimming pool with practically no other people around for the whole day (which meant we could mess about and take stupid pictures haha), we bagsied the best sun loungers with pool infront of us and the sea behind and the weather was beautiful (as always!) We sunbathed and swam and at one point had a monitor lizard pop out to say hello (I thought it was a snake at first and freaked just a little trying to wake the Bailey.)
When we handed over our lunch vouchers the lady informed us we had $40 between us to spend on what we wanted at the bakery throughout the day, which turned out to be wayyyy more than anybody needs for lunch. We got 2 veggie wraps and a chicken wrap, 2 lattes, a croissant, an iced jam scroll thingy, 2 time-out bars AND 2 Freddos!
Later on I went down to the sea and snorkelled. The water was super clear but the beach on Daydream was pretty much all coral and I didn’t bring jellies to wear so it hurt my feet.
We just had a really lovely day. It was the perfect end to 3 amazing days in my new favourite ‘tropical paradise’.

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The Mathsy Bit πŸ™‚
Budget $500 for 2 people
Day 1 = $99pp
Day 2 = $89pp
Day 3 = $99pp
Total = $574
Take away 15% = $487.90
Then we got an extra $20 back on our camping costs (remember one night was already free!)
So that’s $467.90, for 3 days worth of sailing and island hopping around the Whitsundays, including food and A/C coach transfers to and from our campsite!
That’s a saving of $144.10 over the cost of the trips and the campsite costs. Not too shabby πŸ˜‰

As always my only regret is not taking more bloody pictures! But you are so busy having fun it’s easy to forget, and we’ll always have the memories!

I would love to hear other peoples experiences of the islands so share links to your blogs or just let me know what you did below πŸ™‚

xo

Wanderlusting: Scandinavian Fjords

Okay, so I know I am currently in Australia.
I quit my job, sold everything I owned and came out here with my other half on a years working holiday visa.
‘Living the dream’ as some might say!

However, we are currently in the middle of nowhere, living in a storage container and working hard to save up for the next leg of the adventure (which will be AWESOME!)

But until then I’m keeping myself sane by looking up the next travel destination, the next place on my wishlist. The place that I spend hours googling flights and hotels for, and obsessively pin on Pinterest.

Be honest now, look at these pictures and tell me you wouldn’t want to go here too.

I am Wanderlusting hard for those views and that serenity.

20140804-143621-52581487.jpgTaking a fjord cruise has always seemed like such an exciting and awe-inspiring thing to do.

I would love to see Norway, Denmark and Sweden (and also Iceland and Greenland, although I know they technically aren’t scandinavian countries!) and would also love to take a cruise so it’s a big dream of mine to combine the two!

They are like something out of a Fairytale or a Disney movie.

20140804-144710-53230391.jpgI want to be on a big boat on the calmest waters looking at views that encompass snow capped mountains, ancient glaciers and remote fishing villages.

A place so beautiful the sun is reluctant to set, if you go in the summer you’ll benefit from near endless light and a chance to see the incredible phenomenon of the β€˜midnight sun’.

But if you go in winter there is the chance to see the magical northern lights or ‘aurora borealis’, whilst snuggling under a blanket on deck with a loved one and drinking hot chocolate.

I think I’ll maybe have to go twice to experience it all and make the most of the beautiful countries in sunshine and snow!

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I found all of the above pictures on Pinterest and do not own any of them, couldn’t trace the original photographers so if you took the pictures please let me know so I can commend you on your camera skills, credit you and or link to you on here, and generally pick your brain about what your trip was like!

xo