During our recent trip to Australia, hubby suggested we take some time out for ourselves to see a little bit of the country. When you use up a big holiday period to visit home, it’s often hard to see it as a holiday, as opposed to hopping between the same places and people each time.
The place that came to mind instantly (remembering that we have to be practical, we can’t venture too far from Melbourne), was Halls Gap, a place where I used to go camping with the family as a kid.
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from Bangkok when we arrived for a 4-night stopover on our way to Australia at the end of last year. And maybe it was because we’d been in India just a month earlier, but what struck me immediately was how clean it was, how sweet-smelling and how super organized.
Look… I know it’s a big city, and also a big tourist city, so that’s probably what most people would expect, but I hadn’t been. We arrived very early in the morning, and after breakfast in our hotel at the Lamphu Tree House, were delighted to have access to our room just after 9am for a quick nap after our overnight flight.
In an already busy year of visits and holidays, we had one last visitor to our town at the beginning of September, wedged between a trip to Crete and a holiday in India. At this time of year, the weather should be lovely… you would think. In the past we’ve often spent the first weekend in September in Italy, where it’s still warm enough to swim, but most of the crowds are gone.
Well… not this year. The weekend my friend Larry was with us saw it rain almost the entire time. Luckily she was fresh off the plane, hopped up with jetlag, and had been here before, so all she wanted to do was… well… whatever happens.
When a colleague of mine took an extended break living and working with her family in Crete, I realised it was the perfect chance to holiday somewhere new. I’d done the Greek Islands as a backpacker (though not very well), but I’d never made it so far south.
Following last year’s successful but cosy trip to Grado for our work team event, us girls this year planned a weekend away to Rovinj, Croatia, in early May. Each year the company allocates a budget to each team for a social event, but since us three girls actually like each other, we again decided to throw some extra money in the kitty and make a weekend of it.
Like last year we weren’t alone. We took three of our marketing mascots in our growing family of team members – TMF Bear, Gartner Giraffe and a new addition – Bonnie Jovi – the beautiful white horse.
When I met my friend Jodie in Budapest in August, it was my third visit.
The first time was pretty much unsuccessful – not Budapest’s fault.
The second time was also relatively unsuccessful – again, not Budapest’s fault.
The third time’s the charm.
When I told people I was going to Düsseldorf for the long weekend the first thing they said was: why? Düsseldorf is a relatively large city on the left side of Germany (and that’s the level of preciseness you’re going to get from me), and from what I can tell it is renowned for two things:
- The shopping
- As an international business hub
Definitely not renowned for a ‘long weekend destination’. For us, it’s only flight from where we are in Austria, and when you’re constantly taking two flights to get anywhere OS, going somewhere that requires only a single hop is very enticing.
I last visited Bratislava in 2007. It was high summer, stinking hot and my friend and I, backpacking at the time, arrived rather reluctantly. Not that it was Bratislava’s fault. Bratislava is a beautiful town – was then – is still. The problem is that Bratislava was tainted with a string of uneasy events that occurred prior to us arriving. And it was too soon after the shortcomings of Budapest (also not Budapest’s fault). So my friend and I found ourselves unenthusiastic, and we only stayed two nights, skipping the third in favour of Vienna.
Recently we were privileged to be invited to a wedding in the Midlands, England. In my mind this conjures up visions of vast expanses of land and rich estates – a kind of Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey – small towns, cute country lanes, rolling hills, hearty food and wide varieties of dialects. My husband and I opted to add a few days of unplanned driving – the aim was to wander aimlessly, traverse the hills, take in whatever sights we happened across, and eat and drink till we burst. Goal achieved! As I mentioned from my last visit to England, my opinion of the country has changed somewhat from being a boring (normal food, English-speaking) destination, into a familiar one that reminds me nostalgically of home.
With the longest day of the year just around the corner, what better place to spend a long weekend, we thought, than right up north in Helsinki!
We flew into surprisingly warm weather, and it stayed that way almost the entire time, save for a small sun shower one afternoon – 25 degrees in Helsinki is almost unheard of in June! I was very happy to note upon arrival that our hotel (Hotel Cumulus) had decent curtains that blocked out a fair amount of the night-daylight. Though if you tend to be light-sensitive, I would recommend taking an eye mask anyway. The hotel was perfectly located, only a 5-10 minute walk to Market Square, right near a big supermarket and across the road from a daily market. The subway station was also right there, along with the bus stop to the airport.