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 

Rovinj, Croatia

We stayed at Island Hotel Katerina, which really was on its own island! We had to catch a little (free for hotel guests) boat from the mainland to get to it. The boats run frequently between 6am and midnight so it wasn’t hard to go between whenever you wanted.

The sea was incredibly calm, clean and clear for our stay. You could look down and see little fish swimming about and we went for a swim ourselves most afternoons after lunch.

There are so many little restaurants, cafes and bar that look straight out to sea over on the mainland. We were spoilt for choice, but walking through the cobbled streets and finding new places and those ‘insta-perfect’ spots was half the fun! 

Our hotel room looked over the ocean to Old Town Rovinj and the view was spectacular. The staff were all incredibly friendly and helpful and on our first nights stay we returned to a complementary bottle of bubbly in the room! Not bad for our ‘budget’ holiday!

The second day was overcast with a light shower in the afternoon but Rovinj was still absolutely beautiful and warm enough to wear shorts. We took the boat to the mainland and explored Old Town Rovinj.

We spent the days sunbathing or exploring and in the evenings prettied ourselves up for dinner and cocktails. One night the hotel ran a salsa class, and another there was live acoustic music, so you didn’t even have to leave the island of you didn’t want to.

Photos will never do the sunsets we saw justice. Absolutely incredible. Reflecting off the sea and so many colours that my iPhone camera fails to capture.

The hotel was half board and so included buffet breakfast and dinner. The dinner menu was a little limited for vegetarians but there was always something I could get from the buffet and breakfast was AMAZING. Seriously, try the banana bread.


Sometimes there really is nothing better than a girls holiday. 7 days of gossip, giggles, cocktails, reading our chick lit and sunbathing.

We went in the middle of June and so were suprised with how quiet the hotel was. The first half of the week the pool area was pretty much all ours (well it felt that way as there are three pools so people can really spread out). The second half of the week we did get some families arrive and so there were children in and out of the pool but that didn’t really bother us and we just moved to a slightly different spot away from the shallower ‘kiddy’ pool.

Below is the view from the little pier on our last morning as we stood and waited for the boat so we could get back to the airport. So peaceful at that time of day. 


The views from anywhere on our little island were gorgeous at all times of the day. We were sad to leave. We happily could have stayed an extra few days. I think 10 days is perfect, especially if you do a day trip to Venice like we did (but I’ll save that for another post!)


I would highly recommend Rovinj to anyone. It’s more of an undiscovered spot than Split or Hvar and wasn’t swarming with tourists.

Send me your pictures if you go!

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

First Christmas Away From Home

First of all, Merry Christmas everyone!!!!! Sending positive vibes and good juju to wherever you happen to be in the world today πŸ™‚ IMG_6980.JPGIt really is the most wonderful time of the year! With festive cheer, cheesy songs, good food, family time and lots of presents; what’s not to love!?

My family LOVE Christmas. We have drinks, nibbles and board games on Christmas Eve. We hang the stockings we’ve had since birth at the end of our beds and still put out mince pies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer. I’m the oldest of three but that doesn’t stop me being the first to wake up every Christmas morning and waking everyone else up by jumping on them and singing carols. Christmas is one of the happiest times of the year for me and I look forward to it months in advance!

This year however, I’m not at home, and as stupid as it might sound to some people, I’ve been really sad the last couple of weeks. I’ve been in Australia for 8 months and I love it here but I would have given anything to go home just for 3 days over Christmas. I had it all planned out in my head, we would book flights secretly and just turn up and surprise our families and there would be tears of joy and it would be a YouTube video-worthy reunion. But reality reared it’s ugly head and put a stop to that. The flights are too long to go home for such a short time, and they’re too expensive to justify a fleeting visit. Plus, we just started new jobs a month ago and no way are you gong to get Christmas off in the hospitality industry…

So now it’s 7pm on Christmas Day and I’m sat writing this in our Melbourne shared flat (our housemates are away visiting family for the holidays) and I’m happy. Really, really HAPPY! After a little emotional breakdown last night and family and friends telling me to embrace the sunshine and make the most of it, I did, and it was awesome πŸ™‚

I woke up pretty early this morning to a Skype call from my dad and step-mom. Immediate Christmas feels. This was then followed straight up by a Skype call from my mum, step-dad, sister, step-siblings and their partners. Cue more Christmas feels. Then me and my gorgeous guy exchanged gifts, we also had gifts sent from his family and gifts from our housemates. Who can be sad when you have presents to open!! Check out the haul…
IMG_7032.JPGWe splurged a little on groceries yesterday so we tucked into caramel lattes and pain au chocolats for breakfast. DELICIOUS!

That was then followed by a pamper session using my new skin, hair and shower goodies (OMG, this Frank coffee scrub and balm stuff is ridiculous, everyone needs to try it. I’M SO FRICKIN’ SOFT!)IMG_6984.JPGIMG_6990.JPGOne of the things I was really sad about in the lead up to Christmas was the heat. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a sunworshipper. I love that flaming ball of hotness up there in the sky.
But Christmas should be cold! There should be snow (or the threat of snow in the UK’s case) and everyone should be wearing warm pyjamas and big jumpers and fluffy socks. Hot water bottles and hot chocolates should be a necessity and I should not be sweating my (metaphorical) balls off in the middle of December!
However, we took our loved ones Christmas-Eve-Anti-Homesick advice and put our swimmers on, hopped in the van, and drove to Brighton Beach in Melbourne. And it was FABULOUS.IMG_7021-0.JPGIMG_7029-0.JPGIMG_7004-0.JPGIMG_6998-0.JPGIMG_7035.JPGIMG_7034.JPG There was nowhere near the amount of people we were expecting to be there so no overcrowding or fighting for a sunbathing spot. The weather was gorgeous and we just napped and topped up our tans πŸ™‚
There were no time restrictions, we didn’t have to be anywhere for lunch or leave to meet anybody, we just came back home when we’d had enough and tucked into some Camembert with caramelised onion chutney and crusty bread (mmmm, heaven.)

So to anybody else who has been away from their families for the first time this Christmas I hope you managed to have a lovely day anyway. I hope you embraced any cultural or seasonal differences and I hope you’ll be going to bed happy tonight.

To everybody who was (or is) with their families today, I hope you’re enjoying the silly family traditions you take part in every year. I hope you realise how lucky you are to be surrounded by loved ones and that you don’t take them for granted. I hope today is as peaceful, silly, fun or raucous as you wanted it to be and that you’ve ended 2014 with a bang πŸ™‚

And lastly, to my family, to my gorgeous girlfriends, crazy parents, incredible siblings and everyone else I love and miss back home; I’ll see you next year. And next year is going to be IMMENSE (coz we’ve got some catching up to do!)

Peace, love and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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