Sugar Pine Walk

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Here’s a very belated post and announcement for 2016. We’re expecting a little one in May and I’m hoping that this bub will be a traveler in the making 🙂 After all we don’t plan on giving up on our passion for travel. If anything I’m already scheming up a 3-6 month family trip in a few years time to South America or Africa. Am I being overly ambitious already?

These pictures were taken just before Christmas last year in a secluded corner of the Bago State Forest roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne called Sugar Pine Walk. It’s a very short walk but the picturesque pine trees make for a pleasant photo stop on our drive down to Melbourne. I’d expect it to look even more stunning in the golden glow of autumn or covered in a blinding white bed of winter snow.

Road tripping around Ireland

Early this year we road tripped around Ireland to see more of its countryside and natural scenery rather than city hop via public transport. It was one of the best decisions we made to rent a car and use an old fashioned road map to guide us. The road trip turned out to be so rewarding. We covered so much ground in 5 days and it cost us next to nothing! I highly recommend hiring a car to see the real beauty of  Ireland. The roads are incredibly easy to navigate (we didn’t need a GPS!), the locals are the friendliest and so helpful and it helped shelter us from the often rainy and windy weather!

Here’s a quick recap of our road trip:

After spending a few obligatory sightseeing days in Dublin, our first stop was Killarney National Park.

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Killarney National Park was one of my favourite parts of the trip with its many lakes and tufts of grass floating by the lake shore resembling hair balls. There were also really lush parts close to the Torc waterfall that looked like leprechaun hiding spots with dense moss covered rocks and trees. It felt very ‘Irish’ 😉

The next day we drove to the Gap of Dunloe which was easily the best part of the trip.

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The Gap of Dunloe is a photographer’s heaven. We were there in the early part of the day when the light was best, but the rocky terrain, shimmering lakes, empty winding roads and curious sheep made it all the more photogenic.

From there we continued on to the Dingle Peninsular and saw magnificent cliffs and drop offs amidst the rough Atlantic sea.

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On the third day we drove to the Cliffs of Moher and saw the most stunning coastal scenery of Ireland. We felt very tiny amongst these spectacular cliffs and it gave me jelly knees as we walked along parts of it.

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We continued driving towards Galway, our pit stop for the day. The next morning we made our way to Connemara National Park and did a short hike while the weather held up for us.

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A road trip around Ireland is incomplete without seeing at least one castle, and Ballynahinch Castle impressed us with its grandiose architecture. We also saw plenty of sheep along the way, some marked very colourfully as if they have been paintball targeted.

On our last day we made our way north to Belfast and it was interesting to see speed limits and signs change from kilometers to miles. I’ll save Belfast for another post in the future, but for now road tripping around Ireland remains one of our fondest travel memories so far.

The Gardens of Villandry

 

IMG_5870 IMG_5859 IMG_5855IMG_5903 IMG_5888 IMG_5884We wrapped up our Loire Valley cycling adventure with Château de Villandry, renowned for its stunning gardens. I honestly don’t think any other garden can top what I’ve seen in Villandry. The gardens triumph over the actual château and is obviously the main draw card for visitors coming to Villandry.

This will be my last post on France for the next wee while until we return. At the time of writing we are in Vienna and have visited 2 other cities in between which I’ll post about soon. I’m trying to strike a balance between updating consistently and yet not distracting myself from my real travels and exploration. Time is of essence especially when we are trying to hold onto as much of summer as possible which seems to be so fleeting in this continent! Thanks for following along on our adventures. Your likes and comments have not gone unnoticed and I’m glad that someone out there (other than our family) is vaguely interested in what we’re up to 😉

Ps: If you’d like to know where we are in the world in real time you might like to check out my instagram!

Château de Chenonceau

IMG_5782 IMG_5808IMG_5753 IMG_5769 IMG_5772-tile IMG_5777 IMG_5823 IMG_5779Château de Chenonceau was my favourite château of all the ones we’ve seen during our Loire Valley cycling adventure. The romantic chandeliers, chessboard floors, gardens and of course, the river running through its arches makes this château a winner. I could admire it from afar and stay bewitched by its beauty for a long time.

The story behind this château was equally intriguing. It was a château owned by several powerful women in France during the times of the monarchs. These women made the château into what it is today.

Cycling the Loire Valley

IMG_5656 IMG_5646 IMG_5627 IMG_5620 IMG_5617 IMG_5572 IMG_5558 IMG_5505 IMG_5458 IMG_5698We spent 4 days touring the Loire Valley of France by bicycle. The Loire Valley is famous for its châteaux and easy cycling routes so we figured this will be an interesting way to explore the area. We saw the majestic Chambord (latter pictures) and classy Cheverny (top picture) on our first day. We also cycled passed some of the most beautiful sunflower fields I’ve ever seen.

Day 1 of cycling was a little shock to our system as we overestimated our ability and got a little lost in the process. But as you do for all things, we did not give up and pushed on for the remaining days and I’m glad to say that 160km and 5 shades of tan later, we successfully conquered Loire Valley on two wheels! Yeehah! More posts to come on the châteaux we visited in Loire Valley.

One fine Saturday morning

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On our last Saturday in New Zealand, the clouds cleared up to reveal a fine morning, perfect for a market day. We headed 2 hours north to Matakana, famous for its Saturday Farmers Market which I absolutely adore since my days of living in Auckland. The vibe of the small town was energetic and buzzing with large crowds thronging the markets and the sweet smells of glorious food in the air. It’s hands down one of my favourite nostalgic places of New Zealand. A trip to Matakana will not be complete without some blueberry waffles to indulge in, of course.