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 

Time is going too fast.

IMG_8598Sorry for the lack of content the last few months. We’ve been working our hospitality butts off to save money for the last leg of our Aussie adventure. We finish work on the 1st June, have a month left in Australia to explore, fly to Bali on the 4th July and then homeward bound from there. So 68 days of travel left then… Awesome.

As homesick as I was during the first few months out here, going home now feels so bittersweet.
Obviously I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends, but we have completely fallen in love with Australia.
We have a life in Melbourne, we have jobs and friends and a house. We have friends up in Brisbane and Batlow and Canberra.
We haven’t even had time to explore the Northern Territories or West Coast or Tasmania yet.
I can’t help but feel there is so much more to do and see out here, and I’m terrified we’re going to go home, set up our lives again and regret all the things we didn’t do.

I’m torn though, because on the other hand I’m really looking forward to having a house to call our own and decorate.
I’m excited to start my own business (I’ve dreamed about it the whole time I’ve been in Australia and have been so inspired out here, watch this space!)
I can’t wait to have nights out with my girlfriends, spa trips with my mum, family games nights and wine drinking sessions with the people I’ve missed so much in the last year.
I’ve started looking into places I want to visit around Europe and have already planned a few trips with my best friends including Christmas markets in Berlin and spring in New York.

I know that the wanderlust in me will never die and I’m going to continue to make travel a priority in my life. I believe you really can ‘have it all’ and that’s what I’m going to work my ass off to achieve. I’m going to have my own house, my own business, my own family and be well travelled. I’m not fussed about being wealthy, and as long as we’re sensible with money and work and savings I know we can do this.

I also know that in a couple of years, Australia will still be here and we will 100% be back to finish what we started.

xo

We’re Coming Home.

We’ve made the bittersweet decision to leave Australia for good this July. Unsure of how to feel about this but it’s time to say bye bye to the adventure of a lifetime. It had to end at some point right?2015/01/img_7141-1.gif
Bailey has his best friends stag do at the end of July and then the wedding is in August so we definitely have to be home for that. Then September is my birthday and I know I want to be with my family and friends when I turn 24 after missing them last year. We also know we want to be home for Christmas 2015 and I can’t wait to just be reunited with my loved ones after 15 months away from them.

I’m excited to move into my own house and get decorating and setting up home again after living in a van for so long. I want to set up my own business too, I’ve had so many ideas pop into my head during our travels and they’re all written down ready to be executed (attempted at least) on my return to the UK. I’m excited for the future and the life we want to start setting up for ourselves.

But at the same time, I’m so anxious and sometimes sad about leaving Aus. I’m worried that we’ll regret not using the entire 24 months we could have stayed here working and travelling. I’m scared that none of my ideas will come into fruition when I return home, that my inspiration will disappear the moment I stop travelling. Mostly I’m worried that we don’t have enough time left to do everything we wanted to do in this beautiful country. We still need to visit Tasmania, Perth, Uluru, the west coast and Northern Territories. We’ve already accepted that the mini excursions we originally planned (Bali, Fiji and New Zealand) are going to have to be saved for another century.

I’m proud of us for all that we’ve done though. We’ve spent 15 months on the other side of the world, made some amazing friends, had some incredible experiences and seen some beautiful things. We lasted longer than anyone thought we would and we’re going to come home with a fresh outlook on life and a stronger relationship.

How homely can home feel after a year and 3 months away? Australia feels like home too now. Ugh! If only we had a teleporter and could just skip between homes whenever we felt like it (free of charge!)

Basically half of me is like…2015/01/img_7141-2.gif
And the other half’s all….2015/01/img_7141-0.gif

I think I know that deep down we’ve made the right decision. Time to just suck it up and embrace the 26 weeks we have left. Let’s do this!

xo

The Great Ocean Road

*late post, ooops*

So I felt like the absolute luckiest person a few weeks ago! Hopped in our little blue Betsy and hit the Great Ocean Road for a 3 day road trip before we officially settled into Melbourne life and new jobs for 6 months. If you are coming to Australia, or if you are already in Australia, do not miss The Great Ocean Road. Every minute of the trip was just breathtaking. Here are my highlights πŸ™‚

Loch Ard Gorge

Stunning gorge, you walk down to the completely sheltered inlet of water which is perfect for swimming. It’s part of a lot of guided tours but again we were lucky enough to avoid the crowds!
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The Grotto

Very cool rock formations created by the sea. Lots of little rockpools to look at.
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Aireys Inlet Lighthouse

Sweet little town, one of the first places we stopped at. Has the cutest lighthouse and incredible views out over the ocean. We also stopped for lunch in an American style diner here and it was delicious and not too spendy πŸ™‚
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Sheoak Falls

Wayyy less touristy than Erskine Falls, but it’s smaller. However it’s a nice little walk to get to it, and when you get there it’s really magical, you’re basically standing down a sinkhole and there’s a large pond/small lake that you cannot tell the depth of. It’s peaceful and tranquil with the little waterfall running straight over the edge of the rocks above.
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12 Apostles

Probably one of the most famous natural landmarks in Australia, the 12 Apostles did not disappoint! I was so awestruck we actually visited them twice, the first day in radiant sunshine and the 3rd day under some cloud coverage. They looked magical both times. We were lucky enough to be travelling independently in our little van so we were able to work out what times the coaches would arrive and miss most of the touristy crowds, it might seem super snobbish, but I can’t stand forcing my way through hoards of people and having to duck every second step to avoid photo bombing πŸ™‚
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Erskine Falls

A huge waterfall surrounded by foliage. We were lucky enough to go the morning after a storm so there was tons of water running down making it all the more amazing. However the rocks were still wet and slippery from the rain, so if you’re going to venture off the set path wear good shoes or risk broken bones!
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We also saw our first koalas in the wild! Just make sure you’re looking up in the trees and you see their furry little butts! My camera is not good enough to have captured any pictures of them but they are definitely there!!

We are now settled in Melbourne and have been for almost a month, I miss the vanlife already but we’ll be back in the road soon enough! So for now let me know if there’s anything I missed on the GOR or that you recommend for our time here in Victoria!

Follow me on instagram: neonwanderlust – I post regularly on there even when I’m being very bad and slow on the blog!

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

Jimbour Heritage House & Gardens

We made a break for freedom on our day off today and left the sounds of machinery and monotony behind us for a few hours!

I’m so glad we did because it has made such a massive improvement to both our moods and general attitudes towards our current situation.

I found Jimbour Station online after desperately googling to find anything interesting to do and/or see around the area we’re currently working in; Dalby, Queensland, if you were wondering!

It’s advertised as one of the nation’s most gracious historical homes, built in 1876 and 238 km northwest of Brisbane.

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The interior is only open for special events as it remains a private residence but you are welcome to tour the grounds and gardens.

There was nobody there at all when we arrived and for the whole time we were there apart from one guy driving around and tending to the gardens.

As you enter there is an honesty box asking for a $3 per person donation, of course we obliged, and there are also little maps to take that tell you what’s what around the grounds.

There is a sweet little Chapel (circa 1868) to take a look at as you walk to the actual house, and when you get there they have old stables and outhouses set up with old photos and facts and art on display, along with historical plaques and speakers that played animal noises in the barn and scared the crap out of us!

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The grounds were beautiful and even the vegetable patches were well laid out and pretty and filled with more butterflies than I have ever seen in my life!

It was like the secret garden, with huge trees, shrubbery, flowers and old statues and vintage machinery added amongst the greenery so there was always something to look at.

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The only downer for us was that we went in winter (still 24 degrees!) so the rose gardens weren’t in bloom, but from pictures I’ve seen they look mightily impressive in summer!

If you’re interested in finding out more I’m including the link through to their website here.

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We spent about 2 hours there in total, taking our time wandering around and inhaling the serenity.

If you’re in the area I’d definitely recommend a visit 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