I hope you all had a great Easter break. Four days without work is always a boon. Many people use the break to get jobs done around the house or in the garden. Others escape the city and find a spot to relax in. Some use it for a jumping off point for a longer break.
Whatever way you choose to spend a break it is important to ensure you actually have some down time – time you plan to do nothing in.
I had several things planned for Good Friday and Saturday, and Sunday mornings are always committed. I caught up with people after church and washed my car and went for a long walk in the Friday afternoon sunshine. On Saturday I headed up to Mount Barker and then down to the Fleurieu Peninsula to see friends and family. That involved another lovely walk along the river bank. By the time Sunday morning service was over and I got home and did the ironing I was ready to drop. And that’s what I did. I allowed myself the luxury of a day doing nothing but what I wanted and needed to do.
It is all too easy while you are away to pre-plan and pack as much as you can into every moment. That is understandable, and it is also why many people when they get back from a trip need a holiday to get over it. If you are away for several weeks it is important to allow a portion of time every few days or at least once a week to plan to do nothing. Allow a day to not get out of bed until 9 am if you choose. Allow an afternoon to sit in a café and watch the world go by for a while. Allow a space to allow for the unexpected. It would be a great pity to so tightly schedule every moment whilst in a place you have never been before that you miss the festival that just happens to be on while you are there.
One of my favourite memories is of being in Trier in Germany quite by chance when the city was celebrating its 1000 anniversary as a town! As an Australian with our white history dating back a little over 200 years that was mind blowing and I splurged on a glass of wine to help them celebrate.
Allowing space in an itinerary allows you to savour the experience rather than having to relive it with the photos and video when you get home. So when you plan your holiday, plan some time to do nothing in. You may find those time are some of the best memories you will have.
I was privileged to be part of a ship inspection aboard one of P&O newest ships, the Pacific Eden on Monday. One of two ships that were originally part of the Holland America Line fleet, the Pacific Eden is a mid-size ship with 1500 guest capacity and she looks like a ship rather than a floating white hotel.
Inside of course she is a hotel – we saw a spacious inside cabin, an ocean view, a balcony cabin a suite and the Penthouse – the ultimate in space and luxury. With all the facilities one would expect from a ship, she has the Marquee Theatre, an extensive spa, thermal suite and gym area, two pools, casino, several lounge areas, and the Waterfront hotel where we were treated to lunch.
Salt, Luke Mangan’s restaurant at Sea, plus specialty Italian and Asian restaurants give you additional choice of food styles and are especially good for that special occasion. The Market Place restaurant (which replaces the old buffet style restaurant) will ensure you will not be hungry, and there is New Zealand ice cream in case you get peckish between meals!
Based out of Adelaide in March and April this year and next, the Pacific Eden cruises are a great chance for those who prefer not to have to fly to another port to sail, and for those who are new to cruising to try out something local.
Last Thursday I joined a group of other travel agents and spent the day in the Barossa Valley.
I am a regular visitor to the Valley but this day out provided two new experiences I did not know about. Driven to the valley in a very comfortable AAT Kings coach driven by the wonderful Ben and guided by Victoria also from AAT Kings we stopped first at the South Australian Company Store just outside of Angaston. But it is off the main route and unless you know where it is, like me, you will not have found it before. A typical country building with long shed like interior, the store has produce such as jams and chutneys along with all sorts of other goodies. I picked up a recipe and the jam for Pear and wattle seed friands. Watch this space!
The Store provided our lunch and that was plentiful, healthy and delicious.
After lunch we headed to the new building at Lamberts Winery on Long Gully Road, not far from Angaston. Opened in 2015 by Jim and Pam Lambert, with their son and his Peruvian wife being the winemakers, we were treated to great hospitality, a warm welcome, a tour of the beautiful winery cellar door and function space and learned about the energy saving and efficient design. The local cheese platter and local produce platters were really good, and the fact that the tomatoes and the grapes on the platters had been picked that morning by Jim and Pam just demonstrated their commitment to fresh, local and if at all possible, grown on their land produce.
A word of warning – the flight of stairs up to the tasting room is a test of sobriety. They are steep. If you can manage them okay you deserve a taste of the wines, and if you taste a few too many there is a lift to get you safely to ground level again. The Chocolatier port is their best seller worldwide-and with very good reason. A large number of bottles enjoyed the ride back to the city with us.
Whilst the rain the night before made the grass at the South Australian Company Store a bit squelchy underfoot and there was a light sprinkle or two on the day, we had a great day. Thank you to Oz Focus who organised the day to show case Australian wholesalers.
Sometimes going back and remembering where you have been is a little like reliving the experience.
This happened today when we finally received the video from a trip to India we did in August 2014 with Total Holiday Options. The link is below.
If you look carefully in a couple of places you will be able to spot me. The trip was amazing, filled with unexpected insights, fabulous food, revelations of incredible places I had not known existed and the colours and sights of this incredible subcontinent. And we only did a week in North India! Still so much more to see – Kerala and the backwaters on a house boat, the mountain retreats and tea plantations, Goa for its beaches and really spicy food and so much more.
When it comes to wild and wonderful it is hard to beat the Alaskan wilderness.
Spectacular, desolate and pristine Denali National Park offers wildlife, vast open spaces, a mountain to climb and rivers to kayak down. Dominated by Mt Denali – sometimes called Mt McKinley after the US president- the highest mountain in North America, Denali residents include grizzly bears, wolves, dall sheep, eagles and moose to name just a few.
If you are lucky – and we were blessed by four days in a row of perfect blue skies and sunshine (almost unheard of!) you will see Denali from a variety of angles, and wildlife to thrill you. Seeing a wolf pack on the side of the road, almost blending into the scrubby trees was incredible.
The grizzlies are smaller in Denali than the huge bears of the coast because food is much harder to come by. We saw one digging out a sandy area to get to the underground home of something edible.
If you are on the Wilderness tour you will stop off at a ranger hut and you have the chance to feel how heavy moose antlers are. You quickly realise how massive their neck muscles have to be to hold the rack up. Don’t mess with an adult male moose – you will definitely come off second best.
If you have the time, definitely add on the 4 night Alaska hinterland extension to an Inside passage northbound cruise. It will reward you tenfold.