Jonah’s Whale Beach, Sydney

Jonah's restaurant

Jonah’s restaurant

Remember our seaplane adventure with Sydney Seaplanes from my previous post. Well, Jonah’s was the restaurant we arrived in 20 minutes, not on an island, but on an island-like part of Sydney, which takes about an hour, by car.

Jonah’s was more than we expected with a good variety in menu and a nice wine list. Moreover, every plate looked like a piece of art.

A taste to start

A taste to start

Wine of the day

Wine of the day

Australia has really good wines. I will be writing another post soon about Hunter Valley, a wine paradise. Today we chose a Pinot Noir of Tasmania.

Scallops, gooood

Scallops, gooood

Piece of art

Piece of art

In many day trips in Europe, if lunch is included, you come across with ordinary local dishes, sometimes really good and tasty ones but never so elegant.

The deserts...

The deserts…

...and another desert...

…and another desert…

...and another. Yummyyy

…and another. Yummyyy

So, finished with our three course meal in 3 hours, enjoyed the view of the whale beach and watched a local wedding next room, we were taken back to the beach to return with our seaplane back to Sydney.

Sure I can live here

Sure I can live here

 

A Seaplane Adventure Around Sydney, Australia

Before take off

Before take off

While getting ready for our Australia trip and working on the schedule, one dear Australian friend advised me to take a helicopter trip on Sydney harbor. So I searched for it with the help of Saint Google and my travel agent, and I came across with a good alternative of seaplane trips with Sydney Seaplanes. I’ve experienced a helicopter trip twice. One in Samara, Russia, a business trip, so beyond the limits of this blog and second at Grand Canyon, a few years ago with our son. So I thought a seaplane would be a more interesting experience for all of us.

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

The trip we booked was the “Fly & Dine” trip, which very well suited with our travel values. A 20 minutes fly to Whale Beach area, 3 hours-3 course fine dining for lunch and a 20 minutes fly back to Sydney, with a route over Sydney harbor. Well, let the photographs talk:

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

Walking to the beach

Walking to the beach

We were about 12 people on the plane, 5 our group, 3 more couples and our pilot. We started the tour with a little safety training, and took our seats, buckled up and took off. Riding on the sea and the first take off was a bit exciting, but than we enjoyed the view and the calm nature of the environment.

The beach

The beach

We got off the plane on a little pier on a very nice beach of an island. The sea we landed was not an open water but an inside area, where people were enjoying many water sports like canoeing, sailing, diving or enjoying the sun on the beach.

A walk on the beach

A walk on the beach

We were welcomed by a lady from Jonah’s restaurant, who drove us to the restaurant with a van and after lunch (which I will write in my next post) we returned to the same beach to find out that our seaplane was gone. So we spent about half an hour more to enjoy the beach and take photograph around.

Resting on a bench

Resting on a bench

Finally our seaplane arrived to the beach and we took off to return where we started.

Waiting our seaplane to arrive

Waiting our seaplane to arrive

Over Sydney Harbor

Over Sydney Harbor

Sydney Seaplanes

Sydney Seaplanes

Lovely area

Lovely area

 

Views of Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

In the summer of 2012, our USA trip was the hero of the summer. Being the first time long haul flight with our son and one of our longest holidays, I have really worked a lot on the planning of what to do, where to go, what to eat and where to stay. A visit to Empire State Building was also in our plans, so we did.

Here, you can read how our luggage was lost and how this effected our trip. So on the third day of our NY visit, our luggage still could not find us and as every morning, we went shopping for daily outfits and headed to Manhattan.

For our son, a good building is a high building, a good hotel is a high hotel, a good room is a room somewhere on 20+th floor, a good restaurant is a restaurant with a high view, a good elevator is an elevator with dozens of buttons on it, a good museum is the skyscraper museum. So you can imagine how our son was excited about this visit to Empire State Building.

As I told, I have worked about this trip quite a lot and remembering the “How I Met Your Mother” season 2, Episode 12 waiting in the queue of the building for hours and hours, I preferred to buy express tickets in advance from the internet a month ago. Getting close to the entrance and showing our tickets to the first of the guards that we were soon going to see a lot more, told us that it is good thing that we have express tickets, because there was a 4-hour-waiting queue. Getting inside, there we saw loads of loads of people sitting on the floors on the queues, to buy tickets, to pass trough the security control and to get to the elevator. We on the other hand, with A4 papers printed tickets in our hands, with big letters of “express” on them, passed all these queues and got directly to the very front of the first, second, third, forth and fifth queues of the “visiting event”.

So here we were successfully, in the elevator watching the numbers increasing 10 by 10 and arriving to the 86th floor and here is the views that our son took with his camera.

View from 86th floor

View from 86th floor

View from 86th floor

View from 86th floor

View from the 86th floor

View from the 86th floor

Looking with the telescope

Looking with the telescope

View from the 86th floor

View from the 86th floor

After a big tour around the main deck of 86th floor, we took another elevator (with another advantage of our express tickets) to go to the top deck on 102th floor.

View from 102nd floor

View from 102nd floor

Even though we had our express tickets, it took us about an hour to go up, look around and return. An Empire State Building visit, seems to be more than just an elevator and a building.

ESBNYC

ESBNYC

 

Which was your best hotel room?

I’ve been to more than 200 cities in more than 20 countries, and stayed in more than a 100 hotels. I suppose my dear followers, you too like to travel. Here is the question: Which was the best hotel room you have ever stayed? Probably, like me, very many hotels come to your mind, right?

I think all three of us in my family would answer this question differently. my husband’s answer was straight: Polonia Palace Hotel. Why? Because the best sleeping quality is his only concern.

Polonia Palace Hotel

Polonia Palace Hotel

The room was very ordinary at the first sight. One double bed, a bathroom, a sofa turned into a child’s bed, and a little free space. That’s it. But my husband has a saying: Never decide about a hotel before 24 hours. So after 24 hours, his decision is “the best”.

For my son, I guess would be Hilton, Las Vegas. (I can not ask him now, he is out with his friends, but I’ll ask and let you know if I am right) Why? Because there were 3 televisions in the room, one of which was just in front of his bed, with a wall-to-wall screen of barcovision. Of course he spent hours watching Formula 1 and some other staff. Plus a good hotel for our son means a high hotel, preferably some floors over 20th is the best for him.

My answer to a best room would be, Pullman Cove Hotel in Cairns, Australia. I will probably write another post, sometime later about the hotel, but just to give you some hints, here are two photos.

Living room and kitchen

Living room and kitchen

Terrace and private pool

Terrace and private pool

Yes, our room was a 2 bedroom flat, with a big kitchen, living room, a laundry room, two bathrooms, a terrace and a private pool and the sound of ocean waves. A room you wouldn’t want to go out.

On the other hand, when we think of a “best room” we also tend to think of a room with the “best view”. What if I asked the best view room you have ever stayed? All the answers would change and the only answer would be Francischiello Hotel & Spa Bellavista near Sorrento, Italy. A view of Italian farmlands, the Mediterranean sea and the Capri island beyond.

Our room view in Sorrento

Our room view in Sorrento

And the view in the evening
And the view in the evening

 

Now I understand that, I have been to very few hotel room with a “best view” other than the sea views.  I think a hotel would not have much chance in terms of “best view”, if it was not by the sea. Maybe some mountain views in the Alpines of Switzerland, some of the Golf Hotel views, maybe a desert view, or some room overlooking the city lights, or a view of unlimited wine yards in France, or a Christmas market in Austria, or a medieval Piazza in Toscana,  or a castle in Germany, or… whatever, I should note to make sure some stays in “best view” hotels next time.

PS. Please share your best hotel experiences with a link to my post.

 

Great Cruise Tour-day-6

Good morning view while approaching to Oslo

Good morning view while approaching to Oslo

The 6th day of our Great Cruise tour started with a lovely good morning view of Oslo. Unfortunately we only had a few hours to spend in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Moreover, this few hours would start even earlier than the days before. Therefore, I preferred to order my breakfast to our room, in order to avoid the hassle of 13th floor restaurant, and enjoy a superb breakfast with a splendid view of Oslo bay and islands. (Just a little tip here: order breakfast to your room, more than you think you will eat, as the plates are so small.)

No place to eat in our tiny room, so we did eat in our balcony

No place to eat in our tiny room, so we did eat in our balcony

Besides the breakfast, the early morning routines were pretty much the same. Today we took the “Introduction to Oslo” tour which I would not recommend if you are not a big group like ours. The only attraction of the tour was a superb Vigeland Park, which could be reached by a taxi, faster and easier. Other than the park, we did not have any chance to see the centre of the city, because of the traffic and not easy for the huge bus to go around, we could only pass trough the main streets and noted to come to Oslo again, sometime soon.

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

Vigeland park, is a must in Oslo, one of the best parks I have ever been. Home to some 192 sculptures by its namesake, the Vigeland sculpture park is the cynosure of Norway’s artistic landscape. The park is Gustave Vigeland’s artistic statement about the quintessential themes of life and relationships. A hundred meter long bridge bifurcates along a waterfall, each path adorned with large bronze wheels, while the bridge itself is adorned with granite depictions of humans at various stages of life, including Angry Boy, one of the most prominent sculptures in the park. Its other highlights include sculptures such as The FountainThe Monolith, and The Wheel of Life.

Angry boy

Angry boy

Wheel of life

Wheel of life

Vigeland Park

Vigeland Park

Another attraction of Oslo is the park where the winter Olympic games are held and the ski jump tower. The observation deck by the tower has a lovely view of Oslo and the Ski Jump simulator is very attractive for a child like ours.

Ski jump tower

Ski jump tower

Goodbye Oslo

Goodbye Oslo

I wish we could stay more in Oslo.

Another important thing to remember in Oslo is to redeem your invoices for tax free refunds, as Oslo is the last stop in Norway. To do this, you need to approach the tiny building by the Cruise, in which there are some souvenir shops and long queue of tax refund. Moreover, in the queue you find out that there are two different tax refund companies and if the invoices you hold comprise them both, you need to get in two different queues one by one. My advice would be either just skip it (which means  no tax refund), or ask your friend or partner to stay in the other queue (which is at the far end of the building). Other wise you spend a good half hour waiting in each of the queues. Is it worth waiting? Well, about 15% of the invoice, if you have a number of them, it may be worth it.

A chat from yesterday evening:

Our son: Mom do you remember the dance lessons you took.

Me: Sirtaki, Salsa, or Tarantelle.

Our son: Tarantelle, do you remember the dance steps?

Me: No, none.

Altough I enjoyed the Sirtaki class (yesterday), Salsa Class (The second day) and tarantelle class (today), during  the one week tour, when I try to remember any of them… No, not even one step is in my mind. What a pity.

Our day ended with long lunch, again in the Kaito sushi bar, the rescued island, far from the mass of people. And an afternoon nap, before dinner, after which we found – luckily- a place to sit in the lobby and enjoyed the live music of piano.

Great Cruise tour-day-4

The main activity of our summer has been the Cruise trip with MSC Poesia to Norwegian Fyords. We were a group of 8: Me, the organiser-as always, my husband and our son-as expected, my mom and her husband, my uncle and aunt and my grandfather. So group aged from 9 to 90.

Day 4 supposed to be at Flaam, however, a change in the schedule ruined many plans, luckily not ours. Before I joined to this cruise trip, I thought all route changes were due to weather conditions. But the case was, there was a big traffic accident in the tunnel, which was  the only connection point of Flaam to real world. Moreover, this tunnel, wouldn’t be fixed for another week. This accident did not only effected the daily excursions, but also a B plan needed to be made for food and other supplies to the cruise. It is amasing to see a “problem solving” case. In the cruise (as always in about 10 languages) it was announced that all day trips were cancelled except the “Norwegian waterfalls and train journey” tour – which was the one that we have chosen and paid for.

Once more our day started with an early wake up and a quick breakfast and getting to the theater. This time the theater was not crowded at all, as it was only a few hundred of us that would be able get off. Once more we were counted and got on the orange lifeboats and get off to the land, at another small village called Vik.

Good morning Vik

Good morning Vik

Waving good bye to our Cruise, we first visited a very nice Church, one of the best examples of wooden churches in Norway

Vik Church

Vik Church

After the visit of the church, we got on our buses and started to climb the Fyords once more, with a couple of stops at some viewpoints.

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DSC01972Besides the many waterfalls we saw on our way, our first visit to a water fall was Tvindefossen: Twinfalls, which consists of two water falls (as you can imagine) joining together just before they fall. But the main attraction of the waterfall is the belief that you obtain the infinite life and youth if you drink from this water.

Twin falls

Twin falls

Our son trying to obtain the infinite youth

Our son trying to obtain the infinite youth

Filling the depots with infinite lives, we head to another little town of Voss, just by a lovely lake, and enjoyed our meals at a hotel and restaurant – named Fleicher’s Hotel – which was a hotel managed by fifth generation of a family. Finishing our meals of open buffet, we enjoyed a nice coffee on the sunny veranda of the hotel and a little walk by the lake, before we got on our train.

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Artwork by a shop

The lake of Voss

The lake of Voss

After the little walking and some shopping at a souvenirs shop, we went to the train station. Our first train took us  to Myrdal and we took another train afterwards to Flaam, which was a 19th century train, going slowly enough to see all the waterfalls in the valley of Flaam. The train even stopped at one of the waterfalls to enjoy the cool, and take some photographs.

Train stopped by a waterfall and everybody got off to take photographes

Train stopped by a waterfall and everybody got off to take photographs

 

Train of old times

Train of old times

When we arrived the little Town of Flaam, we still had a few hours to spend. I and our son preferred to get on a touristic train to see the around, but I think it was very needless to do, as it meant another hour of sitting and watching around, which we were already doing all day. While we were stucked on this touristy thing with lots of babies and children, my uncle enjoyed a walk by the sea to find out a lovely deck with tiny sailboats, while my aunt did lots of shopping in a couple of souvenir shop, my husband and my grandfather relaxed at a cafe turned out from an old train and my mom and her husband did her daily meditation in their room.

While the sun was going down by the mountains we got on our cruise and watched the last minute shoppers. It looked a soo sad, while everybody getting on the cruise one by one, and the sun is lost very early, because of the high mountains around and only a few people remaining to wave goodbye to our cruise.

Our cruise in Flaam

Our cruise in Flaam

 

The sun urging to goodbye. View from our balcony.

The sun urging to goodbye. View from our balcony.

 

Great Cruise tour-day-3

The main activity of our summer has been the Cruise trip with MSC Poesia to Norwegian Fyords. We were a group of 8: Me, the organiser-as always, my husband and our son-as expected, my mom and her husband, my uncle and aunt and my grandfather. So group aged from 9 to 90. Tough isn’t it?

Day 3 was officially the first day of our military serving – oops pardon me – the excursion. After a long day of being in the middle of nowhere, it was nice to wake up and see the moving mountains from our window.

Good morning view

Good morning view

I live in a rather crowded part of my country, in a rather big city. Therefore it is strange to see a lonely house, in the middle of a steep hill. I wonder how one can live up there and what they can do. Today and in the coming few days, we have found out that Norwegian people are very outdoor activity guys. Cycling, climbing, kayaking, kanoing, trekking, very many outdoor activity far beyond my city life, is their lifestyle.

For today we booked a day excursion from Geiranger to Hellesylt, which meant that the cruise would leave us at Geiranger and hopefully be at Hellesylt, where we will be going bu bus. But goşng out was not so easy at the ship. We and a few thousand more people woke up early, got ready with a quick breakfast and gathered at the big theater and waited for others to gather. By the time it was 9:00 am, groups are announced one at a time, and we all got off the ship one by one. Moreover, Geiranger was a place where the cruise could not get close to the sea shore, so we were taken to the coast by lifeboats.

Little lifeboats moving back and forth to take everybody to the shore

Little lifeboats moving back and forth to take everybody to the shore

Each group, with the stickers of tour numbers on them, trying to follow their own tour guide, to the lifeboats. A bit of hectic trying to keep my group aged 9 to 90 together, but finally we got on a little orange boat of 150 people and moved to Geiranger. After a five minutes journey, here we were back on our feet on Norwegian soil at last. Finding our bus in the tiny town of Geiranger which was meant to accomodate a few hundred people, but a ship-load of people getting off to be loaded 40 buses, caused all the roads to be filled with tourists. With a little search of the buses, we finally found our bus and got on it – no missing people from our group up to now.

From Geiranger, our bus started to climb the uphill, where we enjoyed lovely view in every corner. We also did have a chance to stop in a couple of viewpoints to take some photographes.

Little Geiranger and our lovely cruise

Little Geiranger and our lovely cruise

Residues of the ice age, what caused the Fyords to be formed

Residues of the ice age, what caused the Fyords to be formed

After about 2 hours drive with 3-4 stopovers, we finally arrived to a lovely restaurant called Grotli. I should say, evet though there were more than a hundred tourists starving, the service and the food were super. The asparagus soup especially was best ever for sure. The following Norwegian Salmon is very delicious also. There is also a nice story – actually real- in April 1940, in the middle of WW2, two planes of Germany and Britain shot each other. The surviving crew members begin to shoot each other, but later must share the same cabin, in order to survive the Norwegina winter. The unlikely friendship between the pilots, was filmed 2012 with the name “Into the White”. Here are some photographes of the restaurant and the plane used in the film.

Our son's only concern is the Ipad.

Our son’s only concern is the Ipad.

Inside the restaurant, very warm and welcoming

Inside the restaurant, very warm and welcoming

My Grandfather's concern is to learn the story behind

My Grandfather’s concern is to learn the story behind

In front of the restaurant - from the camera of my uncle

In front of the restaurant – from the camera of my uncle

The afternoon was also mostly on the bus with lovely nature and view of the lakes and the mountains, with a few stops by the lakes and a village called Stryn.

View of lake

View of lake

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Colorful tiny boats

Our bus tour ended in Hellesylt where our Cruise was about to come. So with a couple of other thousand of tourists, we searched for a souvenir shop to buy something, but unfortunately a few shops in the little village of Hellesylt were loaded with people with more than their capacity. Moreover, there was a very very long queue of people, waiting for the cruise to come. So our day trip ended by waiting for about an hour in the queue.

View of Hellesylt from our room

View of Hellesylt from our room

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