Iconic Down Under

Iconic Down Under

So, we fancied going to see Australia and it had to be during our (UK) school holidays, so the Australian Winter. We had agreed an extended holiday from work. What to do though, Perth, Ayers Rock, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Hobart. We also decided that we wanted to break the journey with a stop both ways.

Setting off from Manchester, we flew to Singapore via Dubai, with a 36 hour layover in Singapore. From there, we jetted off to Perth which was only a 7-hour flight from Singapore.

We stayed in the central business district. Perth was quite a small city and easy to get around. I like sport stadiums, so took myself off to see the Perth Cricket Ground (The Waca). We did a lot of shopping and indulged in some fabulous food from origins all around the world. We even took a day trip on the train to Freemantle, visited the prison – and of course, some more shopping!

After Perth we flew to Ayers Rock for a 1-night stay. Shortly after arriving at our hotel, we took a breathtaking helicopter ride over Ayers rock and the surrounding area. There was something special about watching the sunset over Ayers Rock. We felt we had understood a little about Aboriginal Life.

The following day we flew to Cairns, destination for the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns, like Perth was quite small. We did two bucket list things whilst in Cairns. The platform on the Great Barrier Reef was stunning. We snorkelled, fed the fish and went out on a glass bottomed submarine to really appreciate the sea life and the Reef. The other thing we did was take a hot air balloon ride first thing in the morning. We had done a hot air balloon ride previously, but never one with Kangaroos and Wallaby’s jumping and running beneath us – truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After exploring Cairns, our journey took us to Melbourne, where I was immediately captivated by the blend of historic colonial architecture and sleek modern high-rises. I could genuinely move to Melbourne.

Alongside the traditional sightseeing, shopping, and culinary delights (including a memorable visit to the MCG), we indulged in an evening aboard a vintage tram, enjoying a delightful meal and drinks, while traveling around the streets of Melbourne.

The other significant thing we did was a trip to Phillip Island. On our way to Phillip Island, we stopped at an animal sanctuary where we engaged with Koala’s, Kangaroos, and so many other native animals to Australia. We continued our journey to Phillips Island where we watched the Penguins launch themselves from the sea to the beach. A truly magnificent site and a lifetime memory.

Our final stop in Australia was to Sydney. What a fantastic City! Yet another one I could move to.

We stayed in a superb, serviced apartment. We did everything a tourist could or should do in Sydney. We saw an opera at the Opera House, we climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge (A must for any able-bodied person), we went up the Sydney Tower Eye, and visited Darling Harbour. We went to Bondi Beach (though apparently Manley beach is better.) Like the other places visited, we ate, shopped and took in all the sights of Sydney.

After Sydney we made our way home via Bangkok for a stopover.

The whole trip was supposedly a once in a lifetime, but if anything, it just made us want to come back and see the stuff we hadn’t seen (and maybe Melbourne and Sydney again).

Discover the Charms of Cuba

Whilst the political climate has changed, presenting challenges such as limitations on traveling to the USA with a passport bearing a Cuban stamp, the allure of this captivating Caribbean gem remains undiminished.

Situated a mere 90 miles from Miami, Cuba stands as the largest island in the Caribbean. Once a bustling hub for American tourists, the island saw a shift in dynamics following the rise of the communist government in 1965. The subsequent Cuban Missile crisis limited tourism to Europeans and Canadians

Embarking on our Cuban adventure in July 2017, we opted for a dual-city experience, 4 nights in the vibrant streets of Havana, and 10 in the pristine beaches of Varadero.

Havana is an amazing City! A city full of contrasts and architectural wonders reminiscent of fairy tales. The overseas embassy’s all different with old missiles still pointing at the US Embassy. The Russian Embassy is the tallest building in Havana.

We went to the famous Tropicana club for a meal and a show, took in the sights and drank plenty of rum based cocktails. Probably the most iconic thing in Havana was the old American Cars from the 1950’s and 60’s. Some patched up, others in immaculate condition – and they are everywhere.

After our visit to Havana, we embarked on a short journey to Varadero for the beach segment of our holiday. Most of the hotels in Varadero are under the ownership of prominent European hotel chains such as Iberostar and Melia, setting high expectations for the quality of our stay. Upon settling into our hotel, we eagerly explored its numerous amenities. With multiple restaurants to choose from, the All-Inclusive experience remained diverse and exciting. Situated on the stunning golden sand beach, guests could opt for a relaxing day by the ocean or indulge in the refreshing poolside ambiance. Show cooking sessions by the pool during lunchtime added a delightful touch, complemented by a seamless flow of drinks at your convenience.

Our hotel also offered top-notch Spa facilities, with a range of services that we had the pleasure of experiencing. It was intriguing to note that due to the equal pay system in Cuba, individuals from various professions like cleaners, doctors, and postmen might also serve as waiters, relying on tips for additional income. Despite these unique dynamics, the local people were happy and proud of their Cuban heritage.

We ventured in Varadero town, had a wander round. We were offered hand rolled cigars and cheap rum, some of which we bought. There was no mither if we chose not to purchase and we always felt safe.

Despite being All Inclusive, we still ventured out a couple of times to the Varadero Marina for a meal. It was nice to see different surroundings.

Thankfully the old American cars were plentiful in Varadero as well, so riding in them was a pleasure and a throwback to the 1950’s.

There is more to Cuba than Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Great cuisine, fabulous cars, interesting buildings, great weather, and wonderful people.

Andy Nelson
Admiral Travel

A Guide to New York

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting New York on numerous occasions, spanning different months. Undoubtedly, it is the most iconic city on the planet, thanks to its frequent appearances in films and TV shows.

Let’s start with Times Square, the vibrant heart of New York. Contrary to its name, Times Square is not actually a square but a captivating neon wonderland, a dreamland for corporate advertisers. The atmosphere in Times Square is truly enchanting, with street stalls offering a diverse range of fast food from around the world, theatre enthusiasts, and shopaholics indulging in renowned big-brand stores.

One of my top recommendations is to ascend the Rockefeller Center, which offers breathtaking views of Central Park on one side and the mesmerizing Manhattan skyline on the other. You’ll catch sight of iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, One World Tower, and even the Statue of Liberty in the distance. The ever-evolving cityscape means that new buildings, like the Vanderbilt building, are constantly shaping the view from the Rockefeller Center.

During our visit in December, my mother-in-law joined us for the first time and was particularly keen on exploring Grand Central Station, with its stunning Art Deco architecture. She also ventured to the top of the Empire State Building, thoroughly enjoying the experience, and fell in love with the New York Central Library.

A sombre yet reflective visit took us to the 9/11 Museum, where we recalled and contemplated the events of that fateful day. We opted for the subway as an efficient means of transportation. It was certainly an efficient way to get there.

My daughter was thrilled by the shopping haven at Macy’s and other esteemed brand-name stores, where she snagged some incredible bargains. We also embarked on a memorable walk across both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.

Our hotel, nestled just off Times Square, featured a traditional charm. Surrounding us were an array of fantastic dining options, representing cuisines from every corner of the globe. During our stay, we savoured Italian, Mexican, and Chinese, and even indulged in a delightful meal at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Breakfast was often enjoyed at charming delis and diners. New York, on this occasion, truly fulfilled all our desires.

On previous trips, we explored Central Park, attended concerts at Madison Square Garden, and caught a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. We strolled along the High Line, capturing snapshots of New York life. The USS Intrepid Museum left us in awe as we marvelled at the space shuttles and fighter jets. We paid a visit to Liberty Island, ascending the Statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol of New York.

We immersed ourselves in the vibrant cultures of Chinatown and Little Italy, marvelled at the Flatiron Building, and experienced the thrilling elevator ride up the One World Tower—a definite must-do!

New York truly offers something for everyone, regardless of age. It is an extraordinary city and one of my personal favourites, no matter the time of year.

Andy Nelson
Admiral Travel

 

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Iconic Down Under

So, we fancied going to see Australia and it had to be during our (UK) school holidays, so the Australian Winter. We had agreed an extended holiday from work. What to do though, Perth, Ayers Rock, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Hobart. We also decided that we wanted to break the journey with a stop…

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Discover the Charms of Cuba

Whilst the political climate has changed, presenting challenges such as limitations on traveling to the USA with a passport bearing a Cuban stamp, the allure of this captivating Caribbean gem remains undiminished. Situated a mere 90 miles from Miami, Cuba stands as the largest island in the Caribbean. Once a bustling hub for American tourists,…

Read More

A Guide to New York

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting New York on numerous occasions, spanning different months. Undoubtedly, it is the most iconic city on the planet, thanks to its frequent appearances in films and TV shows. Let’s start with Times Square, the vibrant heart of New York. Contrary to its name, Times Square is not actually a…

Read More