Snapshots of New Zealand

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As I mentioned in my Snapshots of Wellington my main purpose for visiting New Zealand last month was to reunite with friends not to tour the country and although I left with most of the country left unseen the part of the country that I did see I feel I got to know really well.

I spent the majority of my trip with my friends and their 3 daughters down on the idyllic Pauatahanui Inlet, about 10 minutes from Porirua City and after five and a half years apart it was so special to see what life in New Zealand is like for them.

I got to go on the school run and collect groceries, to potter in the garden, visit their family and attend church with them. All very simply things, but very special things when done with friends.

I also got to stroll past many familiar sights that I had only seen in photographs; the beautiful beach huts of Paremata, the sweet church of St. Albans at Pauatahanui and the sea shell shore of Bottle Creek.

I even managed to squeeze in an exhibition at the Pataka Museum in Porirua, a movie at the most gorgeous art house cinema in Petone, as well as a drive up the coast to the Nga Manu Nature Reserve where I was delighted to get up close with a beautiful New Zealand parrot called the Kaka and see the famous nocturnal kiwi bird.

It feels somewhat unreal that I went all the way to the other side of the world – on my own! – to be with them. This trip was not something I had planned it was something that just kind of happened unexpectedly and I’m so grateful for it. The solo travel was good for me and I left New Zealand full of inspiration and conversations that will carry me through until we meet again.

Have you ever traveled abroad alone? Where did you go?

Snapshots of Wellington

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Last month I embarked on my first ever solo trip – all the way to New Zealand! Now this visit to New Zealand wasn’t your typical visit to New Zealand. Most people who go all the way to New Zealand have the common sense to take at least 3-4 weeks to properly explore the country, but I on the other hand went only for 9 nights!

You see the purpose of my trip was not to tour the country but to reunite with friends so I spent the majority of my trip with them down on the Pauatahanui Inlet (about 20 minutes from the capital city) but added on 2 nights in Wellington at the start of my trip so as to adjust to the timezone and do some sight seeing.

I only had 48 hours in Wellington but I managed to cram a lot into my visit, including:

In Wellington I stayed at the Travel Lodge by Plimmer Steps for a bargain price which provided me with a comfortable room and great location for exploring the city. It was just a 2 minute walk from Lambton Quay in the central business district (which provided me with ample souvenir shops and a Starbucks) and was only a 5 minute walk from the cable car and just a little more to the waterfront.

Wellington turned out to be a really walkable and friendly city and as a lone female traveler I felt incredibly self. Locals stopped to give me directions and help me read maps, taxi drives told me their family migration stories and bus drivers took the effort to make sure I got off at the right stop.

It’s also a really clean and arty city with quirky monuments and statues not only along the waterfront but throughout the city as well and it’s all framed by those rolling green hills.

I can see why it was voted the most liveable city in the world in 2018.  There are not many cities I visit that I feel I could happily live in but Wellington now makes it onto that list, along with Edinburgh.

Where was your last travel destination?

Snapshots of Saint Malo

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Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

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Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

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This trip to Saint Malo was our first family holiday since our visit to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands in summer 2014 and the first time off island for little Bubbles.

We found a fabulous airbnb just a short walk from the harbour and walled city and there was even a supermarket and park within a few minutes walk, it really was the perfect base.

We only had 3 full days in France, but in that time managed to explore the walled city of Saint Malo, spot sharks at the Grand Aquarium and stroke giant tortoises at Alligator Bay near Mont Saint Michel.

We also ate lots of croissants, madeleines, galettes and crepes and even squeezed in some ice-cream too.

It was a really chilled family holiday and a great introduction to France for us, we’ll most definitely be returning.

What’s your favourite city in France?

 

 

My Top Ten European Destinations (so far)

This is not a travel blog and I am by no means a travel guru, but a little while ago a friend requested that I share the favourite places I have visited in Europe and I thought I would oblige her request, because perhaps my other readers may be interested too.

The Husby and I have travelled far less in recent years since becoming parents, simply because we now live on one income and have little ones to factor in our travel plans. However, we still enjoy traveling when we can and my ultimate travel goal would be to visit every country in Europe. Ambitious I know, I’ve made it to 20 European countries so far, but admit I have only visited some of these countries very briefly.

Before revealing my list let me state that I’m pretty sure that cities like Rome and Barcelona would be on my list if only I had actually visited them. Most of my European travels have been in the Central and Northern European countries and I have yet to tick off a lot of Eastern Europe. But for now my top 10 places in Europe, in the order in which we visited them are;

Continue reading “My Top Ten European Destinations (so far)”

Snapshots of Riga

 

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For our 10th wedding anniversary we decided to go on a short city break to Riga in Latvia. Having visited many European cities we wanted to go somewhere new to us, not too hot and preferably somewhere with an old town and Riga fit the bill perfectly.

I was both nervous and excited about this trip. Nervous because it was the first time we were leaving the girls with their grandparents for the weekend and excited because I hadn’t been off the island in 2 years, not since our trip to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands in 2014.

Well the girls were practically angels for their grandparents and Riga did not disappoint! It turned out to be the perfect choice for a charming weekend getaway filled with cobbled streets, medieval buildings and pretty autumnal gardens. My favourite city moment was strolling hand in hand through the many central parks that Riga has to offer, it’s a wonderfully chilled city and incredibly family friendly.

Latvian culture really intrigues me and I definitely want to return and explore this country more fully, next time with my kiddies.

Have you visited any of the Baltic States?

Snapshots of the Scottish Highlands

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We tagged a few days in Fort William on to our time in Edinburgh so that we could enjoy the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, a place The Husby

The highlights for me were the road trips to Fort William via Loch Lomond, the quality time spent with our friends, exploring Fort William with our sleeping babe and finally getting up close with the infamous “heelun coo!”

The Scottish Highlands are a wonderful choice for a rejuvenating family holiday.

Where have you travelled to recently?

Snapshots of Edinburgh

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For our first ever family holiday we headed up to north to Edinburgh to visit with friends and tick off another country from our wish list. Edinburgh very quickly became one of my all time favourite cities and Scotland one of my all time favourite countries.

Highlights for me include our road trips through East Lothian and the discovery of pretty Portobello, strolling through Princes Street gardens, choosing our very own tartan for the Girard clan and Blossom mastering the art of walking!

I definitely want to return to Edinburgh to explore the castle further and would love to climb Arthur’s seat. However, I must admit I’m also tempted to relocate here so maybe one day I’ll just do these things once I’m living in Scotland!

 

Where have you travelled to recently?