Travel Hot Spot: New Caledonia

New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie) is a hidden gem in the South Pacific. It is in French Territory and for many in the Southern Hemisphere a more affordable place to practice one’s French than in France.

Flying over New Caledonia

New Caledonia, is comprised of islands and is surrounded by barrier reef. The capital, Nouméa, merges French-influenced restaurants and luxury boutiques selling Parisian fashions with local island flavor.

Nouméa

If you are looking for a getaway that isn’t overrun with tourists and has both French and Caribbean type vibes. New Caledonia is the place for you. Relaxing on the palm lined beaches and exploring the marine life both in the ocean and the aquarium were the biggest highlights for me. But there is a great range of exploring and hiking, shopping, cuisine and cultural activities to keep you entertained.†

Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie

Travel Guide: Christmas In New York

At the time of writing this, it is December 1st and we’ve just put up our Christmas Tree and are getting ready to decorate the rest of the house. This time last year, we were getting ready to spend Christmas in New York, so the tree was all we put up. But onto the actual article: a guide the Christmas in New York.


Santaland/Macy’s (Herald Square)

We went as a group of adults, but we still went to Santaland. It is kind of like walking through a short north pole stage set. But it didn’t have quite the Christmas magic I was expecting. At the end you can go and see one of several Santa’s, but we left that bit for the kids.

Macy’s as a department store is 11 floors and has a lot to offer. I spent most of my time looking at Christmas decorations, clothes and make up.

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Santaland – Macy’s

Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue has several shops that dress their windows for Christmas. However they aren’t all Christmas themed. Fifth Avenue also provides access to the Rockefeller Center which has the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree and ice rink. This is a show stopper in the evening because it looks most impressive when the tree is lit up in the dark. Facing it on the other side of Fifth Avenue is also the Sax light show, which adds to the festive feel.

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Rockefeller Christmas Tree

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Sax Fifth Avenue Light Show

Sixth Avenue

Head out through Rockefeller to Sixth Avenue and you will be by Radio City Music Hall. Here sits the giant baubles in front of the Exxon Building. There is also a few other light up displays nearby, such as the Reindeer in front of the Fox Building.

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Baubles

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Reindeer

Empire State Building

The top part of the Empire State Building also lights up in red and green for the festive season.

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Empire State Building

Christmas in New York is not the family sitting around the festive meal in a cozy picture book house. In fact it is a good idea to check what places are open Christmas day. We ended up having pizza – which while delicious wasn’t particularly festive. However we did see some amazing iconic sights. It is also worth remembering that it is really cold so dress warmly.

 

Krystal xx

Must See Attractions In The World’s Most Liveable City

Wellington, New Zealand has been voted number 1 on Deutsche Bank’s global study of the most liveable city. The study has been run both in 2017 and 2018, with Wellington being declared the city with the world’s highest quality of life both years.

But before you rush off to live in this fantastic city, you’ll probably want to take a holiday first. So here is a list of some of the awesome attractions you can visit in Wellington.

Mount Victoria Lookout

Mount Victoria Lookout WellingtonThe Mount Victoria Lookout provides panoramic views of Wellington City and harbour. The lookout is up a hill that can be accessed by foot or car and is free to view day or night.

Wellington Waterfront

Oriental Bay WellingtonThe Wellington Waterfront is home to beauty, culture and food. Internationally renown museum Te Papa and iconic theatre Circa sit adjacent to eat other, with the City Art Gallery and Museum of City and Sea just moments away. Meanwhile event venues TSB Arena and Shed 6 stand nearby at Queen’s Wharf. Nearly every building has a famous history; which you can read about, just down from Frank Kitts Park. The town belt, railway station and Westpac Stadium are all easily assessible from this end of the Waterfront. Down the other end, are the golden sands and towering pines of Oriental Bay. And across all of it are delicious eateries and a beautiful clear waterside view.

Cable Car And Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens WellingtonGo between CBD shopping hub Lambton Quay and the gorgeous Botanical Gardens on the classic Wellington Cable Car. Visit the Cable Car Museum, Planetarium and see stunning city views at the top of the Cable Car, then head down through the Botanical Gardens to see the award-winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden and many more hectares of specialty gardens and horticultural displays.

Te Papa

Te Papa WellingtonTe Papa is Wellington’s biggest museum and a place of cultural, heritage, science, art and creativity. The museum is free entry and current displays can be found on their website. Being on the earthquake fault line, they also have some of the most innovative technology for keeping their building safe during an earthquake.

The Beehive and Parliament Buildings

Parliment WellingtonTake a free tour of New Zealand’s decision-making hub at Parliament Buildings and snap a photo of Wellington’s iconic Beehive building in the CBD. Then take a relaxing through Parliament’s gardens.

Weta Workshop

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Seen Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. Find out how they were made and pose with some of the characters at Weta Workshop in their world famous Weta Cave. Film buffs through to novices will enjoy seeing how these characters and movies were made.

Wellington Zoo

Wellington ZooFor encounters with native and non-native animals, visit the Wellington Zoo. Here you can see New Zealand’s icon, the Kiwi as well as animals from across the world; including Giraffes, Monkey’s and Lions.

Wairarapa

Castle Point WairarapaGet a taste of local wine and food in the Wairarapa, north of Wellington City. Several charming small towns make up the wider area. Visit vineyards in Martinborough, home of Wellington’s winemaking. Enjoy food and galleries in Greytown, coastal views at Castle’s Point and see Stonehenge Aotearoa in Carterton.
While you can drive around all of Wellington’s attractions. If you want a driving free holiday, or perhaps you’re used to driving on the right side of the road (in New Zealand they drive on the left), there are a great number of tours you can also take.

No matter how you choose to explore, be sure to check out the ‘coolest little capital’ next time you’re planning a trip.

Travel Guide: Switzerland – Lucerne, Engelberg, Swiss Alps, Mount Titlis

Switzerland wasn’t somewhere I’d ever really thought about visiting, until I did a European tour that stopped there. After visiting, it is somewhere I would definitely want to visit again. The tour I went on primarily stopped in Lucerne and from there went up to the Swiss Alps.

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City Center

Lucerne is a gorgeous town. It has an old regal presence, mixed with richness, modernity and gorgeous waterfront sites. In the main hub there is several places that you can discover swiss-made watches, eat swiss chocolate and walk alongside the water. The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), is said to be one of the oldest covered bridges standing today and also showcases stunning views of each side of the Reuss River.

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Chapel Bridge

Close by is Lake Lucerne (south side), which from this side has a stunning waterfront with botanicals, hotels, eateries and water features. Following it around the large water fountain and train station, there is several stalls in the station for more affordable eating and a large railway station which is a central hub in Lucerne for domestic and international travel.

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Lake Lucerne

In Lucerne, we also saw the Lion Monument, giant dying lion carved out of a wall of sandstone rock. It was designed as a memorial for Swiss soldiers, who lost their lives during the French Revolution. It is said that the outline of the memorial is carved like a pig to show the artist’s objections to being rushed then not being paid in full, while creating the monument.

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Lion Monument

Outside of Lucerne, we travelled to Engelberg then up to Mount Titlis. Heading up the mountain required a gondola and a 360 degree cable car. I enjoyed the gondola but the 360 degree cable car provided lacklustre views, between the number of people and windows that needed a good clean. The gondola also had windows that were scratched, but when I went there was also a window I could open and stick the camera out (for memory).

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View From Gondola

Standing on the mountain, there was snow and beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding alps and alpine towns in the distance. You could go for a walk up the mountain, do the cliff walk (including Europe’s highest suspension bridge) and do the ice flyer. In summer, the ice flyer takes you to the glacier park and up to the ski slopes in winter. In the mountain station there were also places to eat, shop and a glacier cave.

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View From Mount Titlis

Switzerland was gorgeous, and I want to go back and visit more cities. Please comment below if you have any you particularly recommend. Other things to note, it that it is quite an expensive place. They also accept both Swiss Francs and Euros. At the time I went Swiss Francs were better value, but it all depends on conversion rates. It was also a place where shops closed more often (ie Sundays), particularly outside the tourist hub. There was also a fabulous sense of history and culture. For next time I would brush up on my German though.

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Engelberg

Krystal xx

Top Free Attractions In New York City

  1. Times Square

This colourful hub is an LED wonderland and also has most of the shops you could want to go to.

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Times Square

  1. Fifth Avenue

You don’t have to shop to check out this iconic street.

  1. Central Park

The greenest part of Manhattan and miles of iconic greenery from so many movies lies within Central Park.

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Central Park

  1. The High Line

As an elevated linear park, the High Line gives you an elevated view of the surrounding area.

  1. The Brooklyn Bridge

For a view of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines as well as a view of the Hudson River and a distant view of the Statue of Liberty, a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge is a must.

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Brooklyn Bridge

  1. Macy’s/Santaland

Macy’s is awesome any time of year, but extra fun and festive at Christmas.

  1. Rockefeller Center

Watch the ice skating and check out the massive Christmas Tree and Rockefeller Center. It’s also a great place to see the light show on Saks at Christmastime.

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Rockefeller Center

  1. Bryant Park

For a bit of greenery with a nearby famous public library, check out Bryant Park.

  1. 9/11 Memorial

A beautiful and somber memorial where the Twin Towers once stood.

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9/11 Memorial

  1. Grand Central Station

This restored station is another icon and on the roof, you can see a tile they left to show the condition the station was previously in.

Please note, these attractions are in no particular order.

Happy Travels

Krystal xx

 

Seeing Lady Liberty in the Flesh

A trip to New York is not complete without seeing the Statue of Liberty. But what is the best way to see this iconic monument?

IMG_3142I personally, think the best way to see it is up close and personally. But the only way you can do this is via a trip with Statue Cruises. Onsite, Statue Cruises are incredibly and lack customer service skills. The lines are long (3+ hours at the height of the season). Booking your tickets online will save you getting in line for tickets and may allow you to go up in the Statue where tickets are very limited.

After waiting in line for the boat for a rather long time. You will go through a security screening. They want people to remove hats, scarves, gloves etc. So expect to strip half your layers in winter.

The boats themselves are designed to have nearly everyone standing, with rails on the sides and hand holds from the ceiling. The windows provide an excellent view, but could benefit from being cleaned.IMG_3167

You arrive at the back of the statue, where there is a souvenir shop, toilets and a place to eat and drink. Following the path around to the front of the statue gives you a great view of both the statue and the end of Manhattan.

If this doesn’t sound like you, the Staten Island Ferry provides a free boat ride and passes by the Statue of Liberty and tour boats also pass by the statue. But Statue Cruises is the only one that will allow you to get up close and personal with the statue.

Happy Travels.
Krystal xx

Silence in NYC: An Infrequent Event

Silence is a moment of stillness or quiet. In New York that is fairly hard to come by and treasured when it does. Here are some moments of silence in the city that really does never sleep.

Silence is a quiet frozen stillness, like on this pond in Central Park.

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Silence is a respectful pause of reflection, like here at the 9/11 Memorial.

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Silence is when you finally get out of the crowds and no one is around, like this little corner behind a wall by Fox.

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Silence for a moment is golden, silence for a lifetime is bleak.

Krystal xx

Viewing Platforms In New York (Manhattan)

It’s been a while, I’ve been doing some exploring around the globe and spending more time writing content for other people than myself, but hopefully in this new year, I’ll be able to share all the latest with you.

Recently, I spent a fair bit of time in New York City and over the next little while I will give you all my tips and tricks to seeing New York. First, I’ll start off by talking about the different viewing platforms.

Empire State Building

If you’ve ever seen Sleepless in Seattle, you’ll have seen a sneak preview of what it is like up in the Empire State Building. But unless you’re first in the morning or there last thing at night like they were, it probably won’t be so empty. But that is ok, because with so many other attractions you have to line up for ages so you want to be there first thing in the morning. But with the Empire State Building, what really impressed me was their crowd control. When we went first thing in the morning, it was fairly quick to get in. When we went in the afternoon, the line was hallway around the bottom of the building. Yet the line moved quickly and there was a lot of staff making sure things were orderly and being available to provide information. They also kept spaces near doors clear for those going to other places. Then inside there was more moving through the line, going through security scanning and then finally up to the first inside viewing platform. But again the line did keep moving. The inside viewing platform is particularly great in winter (the time I was there) as it is warm. That is on the 80th floor. You can then either take the lift or the stairs up to the 86th floor to the outside viewing platform where they also have the famous binoculars. For a keen photographer like me this was the best place to get photos through the fencing. But going up there at night in winter like we did was pretty chilly. Both viewing platforms offer a good view of the city and particularly of the Freedom Tower.

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One World Observatory (Freedom Tower)

We had to check out One World as it was the newest, the tallest and offered a Winter Wonderland experience. The Winter Wonderland experience was a quick animation in the lift about how New York’s skyline has changed and virtual frosted windows which didn’t work the day we were there. For One World you have to line outside in the freezing cold with a line that doesn’t seen to move (especially if you’re in the voucher line like we were). There is one staff member on waving people through, a lack of information available and did I mention cold? Once you get inside to buy your tickets you can’t go straight up like you did in Empire, you have to come back at a certain time (so I’d recommend buying your tickets online for a set time if you can then just showing up 20 minutes before that time). Out the other side of the Freedom Tower is the Westfield mall and it is in here by the Subway that you line up at your time. It also means you can fill in time there out of the cold in winter until your timeslot. Lining up, the staff weren’t particularly helpful and got annoyed if people lined up too early. Once inside, you are taken up in a lift to floor 102 then run through a couple of presentations before you get to the viewing platform. The viewing platform is inside and at night very reflective. They also ran other presentation up on the viewing platform that you could choose to listen to which was very informative. The view here is the best of the bridges such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson River. You can also dine up there with a panoramic view.

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We choose not to do this platform in the end because it was near the Empire State Building, but it is best to do during the day as it offers a great view of Central Park. You can also see the classic Empire State Building. It looked like more of the lining up was done inside so it may also be a better winter venue.

So if you’re going to New York, these are all good spots to see the city from, but if I had to pick one, I’d definitely pick Empire State Building.

Krystal xx

Travel Hotspot: London

Everyone seems to being going to London at the moment, so I thought I’d make it my next travel hotspot. London is a fantastic city to visit; there is so much to see and do as well as so much culture and history.London (64).JPG

Because there is just so much to do in London, if you’re not driving and even if you are I recommend using a hop on hop off bus such as Big Bus Tours as your taxi around the city.  These buses have bus stops near pretty much every major tourist attraction in the city, and you can hop on and off them all day long. They also include a guided tour. London (23).JPGBecause the buses have an open top, you can also see several places from the bus as well as you could by getting off the bus. The bus companies also offer extras such as including a river Thames cruise.

There are certain iconic things such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament Buildings, Westminster Abbey, The Tower Of London, The River Thames, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and The London Eye. New buildings such as The Gherkin are also worth a look. And many of these can be seen driving past on an open top bus or walking. But some are also worth going inside such as The Tower Of London.  London (79).JPGPlaces such as Madame Tussauds, Hamleys and Harrods are also worth a visit.  If you have time, a walk through Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens is also nice.
Before taking a trip to London I recommend researching the many sightseeing places to figure out what you want to see. Then go to London with a plan and make sure you allow plenty of time, I think London would have more things to see and do than any other city I’ve visited.

Krystal xx

Journey

Travel Hotspot: Los Angeles

Los Angeles would have to be one of the most famous cities in the world and with good reason. It is the home of Hollywood, many people of influence and has a lot to offer.

IMG_2006.JPGLos Angeles can be divided into several parts, for example Hollywood and downtown LA. Each part has a completely different experience and look to offer. We did the whirlwind tour of LA, so I do hope to get back there one day soon.

What we focused on was the big attractions and theme parks. The 5 that come to mind are Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland, Hollywood Walk of Fame and Knott’s Berry Farm. My recommendation would be to do Disneyland last and IMG_2090.JPGUniversal second to last because these would be the two biggest attractions (with Disneyland obviously being the biggest) and doing your theme parks this way means each day is more impressive than the last. A lot of people do Disneyland first and then say they find the rest of the parks not as exciting in comparison, so start small. I would also say allow a full day for each, except Disneyland where I would allow 2-3, depending on if you are doing just Disneyland or the adjourning California Adventure Park as well.

IMG_2299.JPGSo for those not familiar with California Adventure Park, it has been described as the Disneyland for adults as it includes a few more thrill seeking rides. However, I feel like it is really just an extension of Disneyland, though I find the original Disneyland IMG_2596.JPGhas a bit more of a magical feel to it for me. So I’d recommend Disneyland itself if you only have time to do one, but both are worth a visit.

That is a lot of theme parks though, so we try to either take enough time that we can go to a theme park each second day and do things like sightseeing and shopping on the other days. Or do half when we first arrive, then visit other cities/countries, then half on the way back through, before heading home.

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Happy Travels

Krystal xx

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