Browse for “Glad I Packed” for packing tips for every destination I have visited.  Practical tips from someone who has actually been there.

“High Five – Pura Vida” – Sarapiqui River White Water Rafting
Sarapiqui River Rafting

“High Five – Pura Vida” – Sarapiqui River White Water Rafting

The next day took us an hour back down the windy mountain road to the Sarapiqui River and a knuckle clenching raft ride on the white water rapids with Pozo Azul Adventures..  These are Class II/II rapids and rough enough to be quite a thrilling ride.  You don't just get a bit wet on this ride, you get completely soaked.

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Rio Celeste – Un Mundo Differente, Un Mundo Fascinante
Your best chance of seeing a tapir

Rio Celeste – Un Mundo Differente, Un Mundo Fascinante

Established as a National Park in 1995, Rio Celeste is in the cloud forest region.  A massive 3.7 metres of rain falls here a year - around six times more than the UK - and that sometimes feels very wet!  A legend tells that after God was done painting the sky, he washed his brushes in the river that now bears the name of Rio Celeste  - Light Blue River.  It was worth a 4 hour hike to see how beautiful this looks in real life.

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Celeste River National Park – Walk with the Eyes of …
Red eyed tree frog

Celeste River National Park – Walk with the Eyes of …

This afternoon, I am visiting the Celeste River National Park aiming to walk with the eyes of a tour guide and see if that helps me to spot wildlife I would otherwise have missed. Come and walk with me and see what I discovered ...

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Costa Rica What to Pack
What I'm Packing a Waterproof pouch

Costa Rica What to Pack

Costa Rica - What I'm Packing for a Three Week Trip. All the essentials and what you need to make sure to take to get the most out of your trip.

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Mount Lesueur National Park – Boh Djinoong Quabba
Mount Lesueur National Park WA

Mount Lesueur National Park – Boh Djinoong Quabba

Mount Lesueur National Park is one of the world bio diversity hotspots as a result of of its severely impoverished soil and the unforgivingly low rates of phosphorous.  900 flora species grow here - 10% of WA's flora. These are the species that are known too - it is highly likely that others exist in the dense bush that no-one has yet found.  It has seven species of Declared Rare Flora.  In late Winter to Spring, it erupts into a rainbow of colour and you can see rare orchids and several varieties of kangaroo paw as well as many other beautiful plants.

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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 – 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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Kalgoorlie to Perth – Rough and Tough
Kalgoorlie Super Pit Digger

Kalgoorlie to Perth – Rough and Tough

It is a long way from Esperance to Kalgoorlie - and an even longer road from Kalgoorlie to Perth (7 hours with one brief stop).  This Place is Rough and Tough.  With hindsight, we should have spent 2 days in Kalgoorlie which would have given us a chance to visit the Super Pit and also the Flying Doctor Service which is based here, which would have been really fascinating.

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Albany to Bremer Bay – “No Worries Mate!”
Kangaroos - Quaalup Homestead Fitzgerald River NP WA

Albany to Bremer Bay – “No Worries Mate!”

We woke early on the morning of our drive from Albany to Bremer Bay and enjoyed a hearty breaky (pronounced brekkie) at the Three Anchors in Alby. (Hey - this learning the lingo is a real breeze!).  A group of other early risers were lifting weights with big grins on their faces outside the cafe.  Middleton Beach has a net line set up for swimmers (large marine animals can’t pass through it, but small fish can) and there were half a dozen of them braving the cool morning to have a dip in the ocean.

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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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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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Accommodation Review:  Cape Lodge Margaret River
Cape Lodge - The view from the excellent restaurant

Accommodation Review:  Cape Lodge Margaret River

Cape Lodge, Margaret River is a very well appointed hotel with lovely gardens big enough to take a nice stroll around.  Spacious, light and airy rooms have lake or garden views and spa baths big enough for two.

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Amsterdam Day 4 – Left wanting more …
Goodbye Amsterdam!

Amsterdam Day 4 – Left wanting more …

3 days in Amsterdam is a challenge. There is a lot to see in this city - although we saw most of the major sites and walked through every part of the city - we were both left wanting more.

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Mountain Heaven in the Picos de Europa
Globularia Ripens and Helianthemum oleandicum ssp. piloselloides - shot at at F22.

Mountain Heaven in the Picos de Europa

The Spring flower season in the Picos de Europa is short but spectacular. There are around three weeks between 20th May and 7th June when the mountains burst into life with a wide array of colourful alpine plants.

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Nashville Day 1 – or NASH – Vull (as the locals would say it)
The world famous Orchid Lounge at Tootsie's purple bar serves as the headquarters for the NFL draft

Nashville Day 1 – or NASH – Vull (as the locals would say it)

It took us most of the day to drive from Memphis to Nashville.  We arrived to discover that the NFL professional draft had just started - Nashville is the base this year.  Nashville has a very upmarket feel to it.  It is a booming city with a rising population that is growing fast.  

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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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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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Heading to the Big Easy – Deep South USA Road Trip
Deep South USA Itinerary

Heading to the Big Easy – Deep South USA Road Trip

On Friday, we head to New Orleans for the start of our trip to the Big Easy - Deep South USA Road Trip. We will walk along the sweeping bends of the Mississippi River, visit the bayous of Louisiana and get familiar with the great cities of Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans.  I am looking forward to sampling Cajun food and hearing some great live music in the birthplace of soul, jazz, blues, country and rock and roll.

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Day 2 – Friluftsliv
Art Nouveau Ålesund

Day 2 – Friluftsliv

Day 2 - Friluftsliv Bergen We left Bergen at around 10 last night and headed for the pretty Art Nouveau port of Ålesund.  If you wanted time to visit Bergen…

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The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage – Hurtigruten Norway itinerary
The World's Most Beautiful Voyage - Norway Hurtigruten Itinerary

The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage – Hurtigruten Norway itinerary

Tomorrow, we embark on "the world's most beautiful voyage" on the Hurtigruten line, departing from Bergen and travelling over 2,500 nautical miles to the Top of the World at the North Cape.  We hope to see the Northern Lights (there is a guarantee of a free cruise of you don't) en route and then retrace our steps slowly back South down the coast to Bergen.   The voyage will last a total of 12 days, crosses the Arctic Circle twice and visits 34 Nordic ports along the way.

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Scotland North Coast 500 – Final Reflections – Just Be
North Coast 500

Scotland North Coast 500 – Final Reflections – Just Be

Our trip ends today with aa 5 hour drive south from Dunblane home..  It has been an interesting trip to this remote,  far flung land where there is a marvellous amount of nothing to do.  If you are looking for solitude, room to wander and reflect and allow yourself to " just be", then you will find plenty of it in the Scottish Highlands.

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Pancakes in Punakaiki – Paparoa National Park
Pancake Rocks Punakaiki

Pancakes in Punakaiki – Paparoa National Park

Pancakes in Punakaiki.  A 3 hour drive brought us into different countryside again.  The West coast of South Island is much wilder than the East≥. There were 8km high waves here during the recent cyclone which had a king tide.  They are bracing themselves and hoping that Cyclone Gita stays North and does 't real and more havoc down South.  We are obviously keeping our fingers crossed on that one too. ​We had time to fit in a visit to Pancake rocks this afternoon - worth the trip..

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Kia Ora New Zealand!  Arrival in Auckland
Auckland Sky Tower

Kia Ora New Zealand! Arrival in Auckland

Kia Ora New Zealand!  It was a long flight to Auckland - 24 hours in total.  Emirates made it quite bearable though and the time passed soon enough, albeit with little sleep.  Now, it is just a question of staying awake long enough to go to bed at a reasonable time before collecting the hire car tomorrow and setting off for the Bay of Islands.

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Homeward Bound – Thank Goodness!
Finland can be really beautiful

Homeward Bound – Thank Goodness!

A 5.30 start was again scheduled – we didn’t go. Good move – bacon was back on the breakfast menu this morning and was still quite hot early on. Temperatures on the vans were -14 this morning and the only bird anyone saw was the red grouse, again. No Snowy Owls then (which was the one bird we had really both been hoping to see).

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Paradise Found – Grootboos Private Nature Reserve
Sun set on Walker Bay

Paradise Found – Grootboos Private Nature Reserve

A five hour drive out of Knysna down the remainder of the N2 Garden Route took us through miles of golden fields dotted with neatly stacked, circular hay bales protected by mountain ranges. It struck us that the drive after the end of the Garden Route was actually much more scenic, despite all the hype.  Our arrival at Grootboos Private nature reserve was the highlight of the day.  This was Paradise found!

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Shamwari Photographic Safari – Let there be Light …
Photography Tip No. 1 - Focus on the most interesting aspect of your subject!

Shamwari Photographic Safari – Let there be Light …

We have spent the last couple of days on a Shamwari Photographic Safari.  These are led by Ryan and his Dad Iky (Iky's Photograhpic) who, with the impressively expert help of Frank our ranger and driver, patiently showed us how to get the very best out of our cameras and capture the beauty of this wild and fascinating place. The photographic safari added greatly to our overall experience of Shamwari and I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone interested in photography - whether inexperienced amateurs like us looking to invest some time in learning more about the art - or experienced photographers looking to share their passion and enhance skill.

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