Holiday Snapshots – Singapore

My gift to Sebastian for his birthday this year was a five day trip to Singapore. Despite enduring two of the worst flights of my life, the holiday as a whole was extremely enjoyable. Highlights for me were the Gardens by The Bay and the River Safari, and Sebastian’s highlight was the tour of the Battlebox. We had both been to Singapore before, but not for many years so it was really nice to see how the city has developed since then. Singapore is such a tourist-friendly city and there is so much to do, so much so that we actually ran out of time to do all of the things we had planned. I thought five days would be more than enough, but as it turns out I was wrong so I think next time we’ll go for a full week. To be honest, I would go back just to see the otters and capybaras at the River Safari again. But I’m cool like that.

Holiday Snapshots

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We had a really wonderful time on our recent holiday interstate and I thought I’d share some snapshots from our travels with you all. We flew over to Adelaide on a Fridayn evening and drove straight to Goolwa to spend the weekend at a beach house with some of Sebastian’s friends. On the Monday morning, Sebastian and I drove to Warrnambool for the evening which was to be our halfway point before we made our way along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. On the Tuesday we drove up the coast, and it was a truly magical experience. The views were breathtaking. I had been there as a child when my parents and I drove across the country but to be honest I have no memory of the view (probably because I would’ve had my head stuck in a Babysitters Club Book the whole time). We made our way to Melbourne where we spent two evenings and one full day before driving back to Adelaide on the Thursday. We spent the rest of our time in Adelaide catching up with friends and celebrating Sebastian’s birthday, and then we headed home on the Sunday evening. I want to go back!

Planning A Weekend Away – Checklist

Nothing refreshes the mind like a weekend away, especially one spent out in the middle of nowhere. It’s so much easier for me to relax if I take myself away from all of the things that need doing around the house (15 piles of laundry, anyone?), it’s almost like forced relaxation but I’ll take it in any way I can get it. I thought I’d write a little checklist of the steps I take when planning a weekend away, because nothing takes the stress away from organizing something like a good ol’ checklist.

Start by brainstorming/researching the area you want to visit – I live in Western Australia, and there are a number of country towns that can be explored in our south west region. We tend to stick to the main towns (Dunsborough, Margaret River, etc), but I like to do a bit of research on the area I want to visit to make sure it fits the bill for what I want out of the getaway. If we’re in the mood to do wine tours and eat a whole lot of fancy food, I’ll opt for somewhere like Margaret River. If we want to cut off from civilization and spend time in nature, Pemberton is a great way to go.

Check trip adviser for accommodation suggestions – God bless the internet, because I have no idea what people did to book accommodation before the glory of Trip Adviser. Having said that, be sure to read reviews as well as look at ratings, as ratings can go down if there is too much time between reviews. I try to look out for all of the important things – a comfortable bed, privacy, cleanliness etc.

Write a list of places you want to visit and things you want to see and do – A general internet search of ‘things to do in X’ should give you a general idea of the things there are to do in the town you’re visiting, but there are always some gems tucked away in a more in-depth google search. I don’t like having a set in stone plan of things to do on a trip like this, but having a general idea of what you can do and see around the area you’re staying is always a good idea.

Cover all your bases – You may be staying somewhere with no internet connection or TV satellite, especially if you’ve picked somewhere deep in the country away from the hustle and bustle. I always make sure to pack a deck of cards or board game to make sure we have something to do for entertainment if all else fails.

Plan your meals and write a food shopping list – If you’ve opted for a more relaxing getaway, you may need to think about what you’re going to make for lunches and dinners. As someone who needs to know where her next meal is coming from, I highly recommended thinking about the meals you’ll be having while you’re away, and making sure anything you need to make at your accommodation is covered.

Write a packing list – I will never be someone who can just throw everything into a bag and walk out the door. I will, however, always be the person who has a bandaid/tissue/spare pair of socks if you happen to have forgotten something. I guess that’s a good thing? I like to write out a packing list because it takes the thinking out of packing, and means I can get it done in 10 minutes and I always know I have what I need. Having said that, I like to pack as light as I can.

Confirm your reservation – A simple, but necessary step. You don’t want to drive 5 hours to your accommodation only to discover your booking has been lost in cyberspace. I’ve heard some horror stories like this, so I always double check the day before we leave.

Have I missed a step? Let me know in the comments below!

Holiday Snapshots – Pemberton (Scarlet Woods Chalets)

I booked a little getaway for us as an early celebration of Sebastian’s birthday, and it was heavenly. We both felt like we’d done the Dunsborough and Margaret River region a bit to death over the last year and a half, so I decided to branch out and find somewhere new for us to stay. After doing a bit of research online, I settled on the Scarlet Woods Chalets in Pemberton. As it turns out, staying somewhere with no internet connection and nothing to do except relax is a really wonderful thing. Granted, we did get out and about on one of the days we were there, but that time was spent hiking through a forest and exploring the small town of Pemberton. Nothing fast-paced, nothing fancy. Just good old fashioned relaxation. Our days basically went like this: sleep in, enjoy pancakes and bacon on the balcony while watching the fog roll into the valley and the kangaroos practicing their boxing out on the lawn, play monopoly while eating copious amounts of cheese and drinking scotch (or red wine), grilling on the BBQ, and enjoying freezing cold nights in the hot water of the jacuzzi on the balcony. Like I said, heavenly.

Staycation 2015

I’ve felt an incredibly strong desire for a holiday lately, but time and money constraints have made it impossible. I decided that we’d try a ‘Staycation’ and spend one night away from home somewhere in our own city. This ended up being far less expensive than heading away for the weekend, but we still felt like we’d gotten away for a bit. I did a bit of research and decided on Rendezvous Scarborough, because it’s a place we’re familiar with and the location is quite lovely. To add to the experience, I booked us both in for a Swedish Back, Neck, and Shoulder massage at Vanilla Face & Body Spa, which is located within the hotel. We both had a lovely experience at Vanilla. The service was top notch, the facilities were great, and the massage itself was wonderful. The only downside for me was that I came up in a horrible rash (which I noticed the morning after the massage) – but I do not put any of the blame on Vanilla. They gave us a form to fill out prior to the appointment, and I clearly stated that I had no allergies to nuts (which is the oil that was used during the session). Well, as it turns out I do have a kind of allergy. The more you know. After our massage we checked in and headed up to our room, and were happy to see that we had a beautiful view of the ocean from our balcony.

Now it was time for us to wind down. What I’d been waiting for all week. We kicked back, relaxed, and tuned in for some blissful uninterrupted TV time. It’s funny, if we watch TV at home I always feel like I have 100 other things I could be doing and I never really relax. Having all of that taken away from me really made it easier for me to unwind. We watched a couple of episodes of Daredevil, and then decided on dinner. I initially wanted room service, and although there were quite a few gluten free options available on the dinner menu (props to Rendezvous for that), nothing caught my eye. We decided on Grill’d, which is conveniently located at the base of the hotel. Grill’d now offer a gluten free bun option on their burger menu (although I am confused as to why there is a disclaimer that it may contain gluten, no other product that ‘may’ contain gluten that I’ve come across ever calls itself gluten free), and happily it was quite delicious. Yes, that is Seinfeld in the background. We only have one season left!

Sebastian wanted something quite specific for breakfast (a smoked salmon bagel), so we did a bit of a google search and discovered The SandBar just down the road had exactly what we were after. Sebastian ordered his bagel and I ordered poached eggs with mushrooms, bacon, and gluten free toast. I like a big breakfast. The breakfast was delicious, and the gluten free bread was so yummy I even asked the waiter which bread they use and I’ll be attempting to hunt it down sometime soon. After breakfast we went for a stroll along the foreshore and witnessed a man doing some vigorous dancing on the grassed area near the water. What a way to start the day! We headed home mid-morning, and both felt refreshed after our mini Staycation. I think it’s a great way of taking a break without traveling too far from home, or spending too much money.