Browse for “Fascinating Facts” to discover all you need to know before you go.  Why buy a guide book when you can read my blog for free?

3 Days in Northumberland
Embleton Bay Northumberland

3 Days in Northumberland

3 days in Northumberland based in Berwick upon Tweed. Explore Gossick, Lindisfarne, North Berwick, Seacliff Beach, Eyemouth, Cocklawburn, Embleton.

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Buen Provecho – Sunrise on the Osa Peninsula
Pacific Ocean Sunrise Costa Rica

Buen Provecho – Sunrise on the Osa Peninsula

The day started early at 5am with a beautiful sunrise - doubled by its reflection in the Pacific Ocean.  The first few minutes just before I wake up are usually like intermediate steps from light to shadow - my vision is dim and my mind not yet fully focussed.  This morning, I was woken by the loud shrieks of howler monkies and the din of a million cicadas, then soothed by the sound of the ocean as the sun rose over it.  It was the quickest move to sharp focus I can remember - the sunrise was absolutely spectacular - the outstanding highlight of this trip.

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Arenal Volcano National Park – En Armonía con la Madre Naturaleza
Arenal Volcano Hanging Bridges Trail

Arenal Volcano National Park – En Armonía con la Madre Naturaleza

When you have had a shower outside in the rain and an open air bath on your balcony (safely concealed by the jungle!), it seems fairly pointless to wear an uncomfortable rain coat to go on a hike.  Skin is waterproof after all?  So today, I carried nothing except my camera and didn't let the rain bother me at all.  I was feeling rather  in harmony with Mother Nature (en Armenia con la Madre Naturaleza) and excited to explore Arenal Volcano National Park.

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Salut Manatus!
Three toed sloth (and baby!)

Salut Manatus!

Our base in the Tortugero National Park is the Manatus Lodge.  Access is via boat transfer only - and let's hope they keep it that way!  

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Alajuela to Tortuguero
Local girl on a swing Tortugeuro National Park Costa Rica

Alajuela to Tortuguero

The transfer from Alajuela to Tortugero took all morning - but what a lovely way to spend it.  We drove past banana plantations, fields of papaya, coconuts and plantains learning a little about the beautiful country that is Costa Rica (Rich Coast) as we travelled.

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Kalbarri to Cervantes – Pink Lake and The Pinnacles
Pinnacles Desert Nambung National Park WA

Kalbarri to Cervantes – Pink Lake and The Pinnacles

The road from Kalbarri to Cervantes is 378 kms (4 hrs 7 mins), but offers plenty to see on the way including two "Must Do" attractions:  Pink Lake (Hutt Lagoon) and The Pinnacles.

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Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef – A Scenic Flight over Shark Bay and a Thorny Devil!
Shark Bay Aviation Scenic Flight

Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef – A Scenic Flight over Shark Bay and a Thorny Devil!

We made an early start today on our journey from Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef so we could take a pre-booked early morning scenic flight with Shark Bay Aviation.  Their “bargain” flight is 40 minutes long and is a really great way to get a different perspective on this vast and largely inaccessible wilderness area.  You get superb views of the huge salt works, lagoons, Dirk Hartog Island, Steep Point (the most Westerly point of mainland Australia), sea clliffs and the wondrous crystal clear blue spectrum of the Indian Ocean.

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Monkey Mia – Touch Another World One Bite at a Time!
Francois Peron National Park WA

Monkey Mia – Touch Another World One Bite at a Time!

A great coffee is always a good way to start the day and Australia is truly expert at it.  The flat white at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is particularly good and the ocean side restaurant is a lovely spot for breakfast.  A pod of dolphins pops in reliably

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Esperance to Kalgoorlie – #DriveYourselfWild
Kalgoorlie Street Art

Esperance to Kalgoorlie – #DriveYourselfWild

Esperance to Kalgoorlie - #DriveYourselfWild It is a 4 and a half hours drive from Esperance to Kalgoorlie, which gives you limited time to explore once you get there, so…

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Esperance WA’s Best Beaches
Kangaroos on Lucky Bay - Cape le Grand National Park

Esperance WA’s Best Beaches

The road from Bremer Bay to Esperance (home of Australia's best beaches) was long - very long - and straight.  There were hardly any vehicles on it except the odd road train (shortish) which gave you a start as it rushed past.  The road took us through interesting sounding places like Jerramingup, Munillinup and Nindilibillup.  Up means "place of" around here - I wonder what these places we were passing through were places of ...?  They didn't have enough interest to make us stop long enough to find out.  We were keen to press on to Esperance and explore all those beautiful beaches.  It took us around 4 hours in total to get here.

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Torndirrup National Park – Being a Human Being …
Sharing a Golden Gaytime

Torndirrup National Park – Being a Human Being …

Breakfast at the Three Anchors Middleton Beach was generous and set us up well for a day's hiking, although the day started cool and damp, which took a while to clear.  A short distance out of Albany brought us to the Gap and the Natural Bridge in Torndirru

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Pemberton to Albany – It’s Time to Feel the Tingle and Walk the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk …
The Giant Tingle Tree

Pemberton to Albany – It’s Time to Feel the Tingle and Walk the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk …

It takes about 3 hours to drive straight from Pemberton to Albany, but we chose to break the journey at Walpole and visit the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk.  Walpole Visitor Centre gave us a very helpful map which helped us navigate our way there via the scenic route which gave good views of Walpole and the coast.

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d’Entrecasteaux National Park – Even Giants Grow Old
Salmon Bay Entrecasteaux National Park WA

d’Entrecasteaux National Park – Even Giants Grow Old

A short(ish) drive to the coast brought us to ​Salmon Bay in the d’Enrecasteaux National Park.  The view from the lookout is truly stunning.  From the headland, crystal clear deep blue water, rolling surf and miles of deserted, golden sand stretches out before your eyes, beckoning you to discover it at close hand. 

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Margaret River – Kaya Wadandi Noongar Boodja
View from White Elephant Cafe

Margaret River – Kaya Wadandi Noongar Boodja

Exploring the Margaret River Region.  Kaya Wadandi Noongar Boodja  - Aborigini for “Hallo and Welcome to Wadandi Noongar country.  This morning, we took the short drive to Ambergate Reserve and Walk Trail and walked through the bush in search of wildflowers. 

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Best Place to See Kangaroos in Western Australia – G’Day Skippy!
G'Day Skippy

Best Place to See Kangaroos in Western Australia – G’Day Skippy!

The road from Mandurah to Margaret River has one of the best places to see kangaroos in Western Australia - G'Day Skippy! Our journey south continued today via Dunsborough to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.  The road from the lighthouse to Ngilgi Cave passes close to the Petra Olive Oil Estate where a quick detour to Sheoak Drive rewards you with easy sightings of kangaroos.

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Rottnest Island – “I will survive”
Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island – “I will survive”

We pre-booked a day trip to "Rotto" (Rottnest Island) - the family holiday playground of choice for Perth locals - with Rottnest Fast Ferries.  This car free island is an off-the-grid slice of paradise about 30kms into the sea off the coast of Perth.  The trip includes a shuttle bus collection from your hotel, which makes things really easy.

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10 surprising facts about Amsterdam
Facades are fiercely protected - this one is being re-built from behind.

10 surprising facts about Amsterdam

A city full of surprises - here are 10 surprising facts about Amsterdam you might not know ...

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12 things  you might not know about Elvis Presley …
A shotgun shack (no halls - a shotgun would fire all the way through) in downtown Memphis - like Elvis's first home in Tupelo

12 things  you might not know about Elvis Presley …

Twelve things you might not know about Elvis Presley - be prepared for few surprises!

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The American Civil War – The More you Know the More you Grow …
The most impressive war memorial - with 47 steps - one for each day of the Vicksburg siege

The American Civil War – The More you Know the More you Grow …

The American Civil War - "There they lay, the blue and grey intermingled; the same rich, young American blood flowing out in little rivulets of crimson, each thinking he was in the right."

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Walnut Hills Restaurant – Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie and Fillet Gumbo
Walnut Hills Restaurant Vicksburg

Walnut Hills Restaurant – Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie and Fillet Gumbo

Crawfish sauce was the nearest I got to crawfish pie - but I did sample the local catfish at Walnut Hills - 1214 Adams St. and it was delicious.  This restaurant is full of old world charm at its best and serves good Southern Plantation cuisine.

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A One Way Ticket – Natchez Trace Pathway
Bread Pudding Muffin with white chocolate topping - the Mad Baker

A One Way Ticket – Natchez Trace Pathway

The road from Natchez to our next stop in Vicksburg follows the Natchez Trace Pathway, which runs for 444 miles through three states from the southern Appalachian foothills of Tennessee to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River.

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Mississippi River – Laisser les Bons Temps Roulez …
Mississippi River Road

Mississippi River – Laisser les Bons Temps Roulez …

Laissez les bons temps roulez - let the good times continue to roll though...  We moved on today to White Castle, driving the river road up the great Mississippi River to White Castle.  This is sugar plantation country.  It was fun to pass road signs to all the places you hear about in the songs you love

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From Rooter to Tooter – The food here has SOUL!
Bananas Foster - Chucking in the Cinammon!

From Rooter to Tooter – The food here has SOUL!

The New Orleans School of Cooking was a great place to spend a morning here.  The cooking in the Deep South is way different from the rest of the USA.  It is Creole - a veritable melting pot of all the nationalities that coalesced in this part of the world (Portugeuse, Spanish, French, Italian) and made it what it is today.   Nothing goes to waste - it is "rooter to tooter" as the expression goes - i.e. - everything on the hog is used except it's squeak.

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New Orleans Jazz Festival “Morning Sunshines”
New Orleans - in full Swing

New Orleans Jazz Festival “Morning Sunshines”

We woke to the smell of beignets wafting in from the street curiously mixed with the scent of lemon from the disinfectant they use to wash the sheets here.  Breakfast was served by a cheerful waitress who greeted us with "Morning Sunshines!"

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Ha Det og Tusen Takk Hurtigruten!
Photo I wished I had taken - Farewell to the Land of the Midnight Sun

Ha Det og Tusen Takk Hurtigruten!

Goodbye Hurtigruten - and Tusen Takk - Thank you very much ! Tourism was always part of the basis for the Coastal Express though with brochures printed in several languages…

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