Category Archives: Travel

Ballooning over Melbourne


A few companies offer hot ballooning over Melbourne. This is a fabulous experience. The only drawback is getting up very early (4am or so) to reach the taking-off site before dawn. The site varies every day and you get an early call to let you know where it’s going to be or if it’s going to happen at all! Because of the wind it gets often cancelled, so you have to keep trying. Having said that, it’s worth the wait and you won’t regret it. It takes a few minutes to be up in the air and from there the view over the city, the beaches, the bay and the suburbs is breathtaking. You don’t know where you’re going to land before you’re up because it depends of where the wind will take you. Quite an experience. I often get up in the morning to see a few balloons flying over our place, so I was happy to see our house from the air for once. Loved every minute of it! Certain companies follow the flight with a beautiful breakfast/brunch at one of the city’s international hotels. A real treat. Highly recommended.

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The Infinity Pool at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore


During a weekend in Singapore recently, we stayed at the new, much talked-about, Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I was interested to see it because on top of having the most amazing pool, its engineering design was done by the company I work for, Arup. I was a little disappointed by the hotel itself. The lobby is too big and nondescript and is really more a tourist place and shopping plaza than a lobby. The service is not great either (and when you know how much a night cost, you have the right to complain). Having said that, the rooms are very nice and spacious. But of course, most people stay there for the pool, at the very top of the building, across the three towers. It has to be one of the highest pools in the world, and it really feels like you are swimming in the air. Fantastic!

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Weekend in Singapore


Singapore belongs to those places where I could easily live. I love the place, its efficiency, its cleanliness, its people, its underground… Everything works. The food keeps getting better, and you now have the choice between hundreds of different cuisines. Singapore is a convenient stopover on the way to Europe from Australia but it’s also great for weekends. Having friends there makes it special for me, and between catching-up with them, eating out, and walking around, there was not much time left, unfortunately. A new reclaimed area has appeared since the last time I was there, and the city landscape keeps changing. I highly recommend the orchid garden in the botanical gardens. Magical.

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Waikiki and Lanikai Beach


Post #2 about last week in Hawaii. After The Big Island we spent 4 days on Ohau – the famous Waikiki beach can’t be missed, even if a little too touristy for my liking. But it is probably one of the most famous beaches in the world. The colours are amazing. I much prefer Lanikai Beach though, in the North of the island, about 40 minutes drive from Waikiki. Paradise on earth. The colour of the water is absolutely magical. See for yourselves…

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Flowing lava on The Big Island, Hawaii


This was a long awaited holiday, after many stressful months at work and at home: a week in Hawaii. We spent 4 days on The Big Island, and 4 days on Oahu (next post). We found a beautiful guest house in the Southeastern corner of The Big Island (also called Hawaii). As it happened (well, it was sort of planned) it was close to the most amazing active volcano. I had seen volcanos before, in Central America, Indonesia and Italy, among others, but never had I come that close to flowing lava. There is something magical and almost frightening to see the core of the Earth come to the surface and flow so freely. We were absolutely fascinated. After walking on old lava for about an hour and a half, we reached a place where the lava flowed from the top of the mountain. What an incredible sight. The lava is about 1,100 degree Celsius so of course you cannot stand too close for too long. We grabbed a stick and poked the lava – the stick burst into flames and the pressure that came out was incredible. You have to see how blobs of liquid rock form on top of each other to realise the power of the process. A few hundreds metres away the lava flow enters the ocean, releasing massive clouds of hot steam. Fire in water, not something you see every day. This amazing phenomenon creates beautiful black sand beaches. The pictures and video below do not make justice to the intensity of the experience.

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Review of “The Three Mistakes of My Life” by Chetan Bhagat


MistakesThe three mistakes of my life” is a book by Chetan Bhagat, an author from India. Bhagat is quite successful and has written many good books. In this one he tells the story of Govind and his two friends Ish and Omi, who live in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Govind wants to become a businessman, Ish loves nothing else but cricket and Omi is just happy being with his friends. Together they open a cricket shop and become somewhat successful in their business endeavours. This is the background to the story of how they discover a young Muslim boy called Ali, who has a gift for cricket. Ish trains him hard and tries to make him an elite cricket player. But things don’t come easy to any of the three friends. Govind’s business dreams are shattered by a powerful earthquake, Ali does not want to relocate to Australia to become a successful cricket player, and Omi has to face the political ambitions of some family members. The politics and religious clashes between Hindus and Muslims are part of the story, and in fact, will contribute to its tragic ending. This novel reminded me of the tensions I myself felt between Hindus and Muslims when travelling through Rajasthan. The story is okay, although a bit superficial at times – and the cricket thing can be a little tedious. It’s a nice story of love, passion, money, politics, and hate. Well written with fun characters, but it would benefit from more depth in its character depiction. A good read, and one in a different setting for once.

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Seals – no kangaroos – on Kangaroo Island


Wonderful weekend in Kangaroo Island! This island is in South Australia, a mere 30 minute- flight from Adelaide. It’s big, there are very few people – the odd tourist – and it’s full of animals. We didn’t see any kangaroos because we didn’t drive at night, but lots of birds, and a 1,000 seal colony that lives there permanently. Kangaroo Island is also famous for its great white sharks (they love seals), so no swimming too far from the shore! There are also wonderful sand dunes called Little Sahara. Highly recommended for a short break.

 

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