The Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea & Cruising

The Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea

When travelling by cruise line there are a few different scenarios when disembarking at port.  The easiest for the passenger is when the ship is docked at the wharf and you can just walk off the ship.  Another scenario is when the ship cannot dock at the wharf because the water is not deep enough or for any other number of reasons cannot pull up to a wharf.  This means that the passengers have to be transported to the shore by tender.  A ship’s tender is a boat used to transport people or supplies to and from the shore.  Smaller boats like yachts usually have tenders that are dinghies.  In the case of the Pacific Eden it was the lifeboats that were used to transport the passengers ashore.

Arriving by Tender from the Pacific Eden
Arriving by Tender from the Pacific Eden

The trip from ship to Kiriwina Island was no problem at all but when we got to the Conflict Islands the wind was so strong and water so choppy that it would have been dangerous to transport us to shore.  Therefore we spent around four hours being able to see the shore but no one was able to make it onto the island. Continue reading “The Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea & Cruising”

The Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

Kitava Island

The first of the Trobriand Islands the Pacific Eden visited was Kitava Island. It is one of the four major islands of the Trobriand group and one of the most untouched islands.

Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea
Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

The four major islands are Kitava, Kiriwina, Kaileuna and Vakuta. Kitava Island has one of the most intact island cultures in the world. Located in the Milne Bay province in the eastern part of Papua New Guinea Kitava is a unspoilt small island that welcomes visitors to explore its villages.

Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea
Nuratu Island, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

Life is as it was thousands of years ago with very little influence from the outside world. The residents of this island and their diet have been studied by Staffan Lindeberg, a Swedish medical academic, and colleagues because of their excellent health and traditional diet and several papers have been published on the subject.  Kitavans are acne free and this is thought to be due to their diet consisting of fresh, natural foods such as tubers, fruit, fish and coconut. The consumption of tea, coffee, alcohol and dairy products is virtually nil.   Continue reading “The Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea”

Alotau, Papua New Guinea

The three amigos head off from Cairns’ Trinity Wharf
We were greeted by some traditional Papuan dancers

I travelled to Papua New Guinea in September 2016 with two very good friends Dianne and Mark aboard the ship Pacific Eden. It is quite difficult to move between the islands of the Louisiade Archipelago of Papua New Guinea by public transport and so when we found out about a deal for $389 for 7 days to PNG we jumped at the chance. New Guinea and Australia were once one piece of land so it was significant for us as Australians to visit.  None of us had been to New Guinea before so we were rather excited about the trip.

Alotau Market, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea

Continue reading “Alotau, Papua New Guinea”

India Part 3 – Agra, Delhi

Taj Mahal Agra
Taj Mahal Agra, India

Agra
Arriving in Agra I didn’t know what to expect from this city but I knew the one place I wanted to visit was the Taj Mahal. Agra represents a golden era of the Mughal Empire and the rich traditions over centuries and other historical sites include the Agra Fort, the Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb, Akbar’s Tomb, Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra Fort. On the day I visited the Taj Mahal it was quite foggy and it was difficult to get a decent photo.  It was a wonderful experience walking around the gardens and in the buildings of the Taj Mahal.  When you hear the story of why the Taj was built it is even more amazing. Continue reading “India Part 3 – Agra, Delhi”

India Part 2 – Kochi and Train Travel in India

Elderley man in India
Elderley man in India
Kochi/Cochin

One delightful place we visited on our trip to India was Kochi, also known as Cochin.  It is a seaside city and very busy port on the western side of India.  It was lovely to walk down by the sea and watch the fisherman looking after their Chinese nets (an old tradition brought there many years ago by the Chinese). Continue reading “India Part 2 – Kochi and Train Travel in India”

India Part 1 – Chennai, Bangalore & Kerala

The other day I was cleaning out a cupboard when I came across a rather gaudy looking photo album I had made after a trip to India.  As I flicked through the pages fond memories of the days I spent in this wonderful country came back to me.  India has aways had a mystical and exotic appeal for me and so, some years back, when I had the  chance to travel to India I jumped at the opportunity.

Blue dye textiles in Chennai, India
A man goes about his work with textiles in Chennai, India

I was lucky enough to apply for and attain a fellowship with the Asia Education Foundation (Australia) and as it was funded by the foundation I only had to pay $500 for the whole trip.  This was not a solo journey, however, but a journey with a group of educators which took in tours of schools and the chance to meet some very interesting people. Continue reading “India Part 1 – Chennai, Bangalore & Kerala”

Saving Money for Your Next Holiday

If you want to save up some money for that dream holiday then you’ll be glad to know that there are some things that you can do to help yourself along the way. In fact, I have compiled this guide for you so you can learn everything you need to know about saving as well as helping you to get some helpful tips that will show you how to achieve your goals.

My money challenge for this year!
I’m really saving hard for my next trip!

Continue reading “Saving Money for Your Next Holiday”

Croagh Patrick, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland

At Croagh Patrick, County Mayo
At Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

On the west coast of Ireland Croagh Patrick is very close to the town of Westport, in fact only 8kms away. It was on this mountain that Ireland’s patron saint fasted for 40 days and nights and where he supposedly banished venomous snakes from Ireland. Climbing the mountain, which is 765m high, is an act of penance for thousands of pilgrims on the last Sunday of July (Reek Sunday).

Visitor's Centre, Croagh Patrick
Visitor’s Centre, Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick from the car park
Croagh Patrick from the car park

There is a Visitor’s Centre and opposite the car park is the National Famine Memorial. The trail starts outside the Visitor’s Centre. On this occasion I did not walk up the mountain but I would like to return to do so when in the right mindset.

The track up Croagh Patrick starts outside the Visitor's Centre
The track up Croagh Patrick starts outside the Visitor’s Centre

Next I headed off to Achill Island stopping off briefly at Newport, a lovely town with a very nice looking viaduct. I liked the feel of this town.

Newport, County Mayo, Ireland
Newport, County Mayo, Ireland
Viaduct at Newport
Viaduct at Newport

Achill Island covers 55 square miles and is Ireland’s largest off shore island. It is connected to the mainland by a short bridge making it an easy place to get to by car. Dramatic mountains, moors and wonderful beaches made this island a great place to drive around. I stopped off in Keel and walked along the beach. There was a camping park and shops nearby. I thought it was really beautiful down at the beach. Keel seemed to be the main town on the island and would make a great holiday spot. I would also say if you like hiking that Achill would be a fantastic place to explore.

Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland
Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland
Looking across to Achill Sound
Looking across to Achill Sound
Off to Keel, Achill Island
Off to Keel, Achill Island
Keel Beach, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland
Keel Beach, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland

A day wandering around Istanbul, Turkey

Breakfast at the Hafiz Mustafa Café
Breakfast at the Hafiz Mustafa Café
Cheesecake and Turkish Delight for breakfast in Istanbul
Cheesecake and Turkish Delight for breakfast in Istanbul

Today I started with breakfast in Taksim Square. This consisted of caramel cheesecake and Turkish Delight (Lokumlar) in three different flavours. Very naughty! Taksim Square was a lively place with some tourists (not too many as this is almost off season) and Istanbullians going about their business. I had my ‘breakfast’ at a café that was established in 1864. Wow!

Taksim Square, Istanbul
Taksim Square, Istanbul
İstiklal Caddesı (Istiklal Street), Istanbul
İstiklal Caddesı (Istiklal Street), Istanbul

I headed down Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Street) which is a pedestrian thoroughfare. Unfortunately I did spot a Burger King, MacDonalds and Pizza Hut – what a shame. There were many well known brand name shops and I browsed for awhile although this does not interest me much.

Trams run along Istiklal Caddesi
Trams run along Istiklal Caddesi

Istiklal Caddesi during a call to prayer

Soon it was time for lunch. Yummy Halloumi was on the menu at a lovely little restaurant in a laneway off Istiklal. I continued my trek and soon came to Galata Tower. I sat down in a rest area next to the tower and was preoccupied watching a family of ginger cats deal with a black cat intruder when I felt someone touch my hair. I turned to see a man behind me taking down his hand. Ooh creepy! I moved away quickly and back onto the street.

Galata Tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower, Istanbul
Buskers on Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul
Buskers on Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul

The area between Galata Tower and the water had many music stores (selling instruments) and some arts and craft stores. At the Galata Bridge I pondered whether to cross the bridge by foot or take a ferry ride. I decided on the later and jumped on a boat that went to a place called Üsküdar. I had no idea where that was but it sounded nice so I went with the flow (so to speak). It turned out to be on the Asian side of Istanbul (across the Bosphorus). Istanbul is, of course, famous for being a city that is located in two continents; Europe and Asia.

Musical instruments, Turkey
Musical instruments, Turkey
Pretty lamps, Istanbul
Pretty lamps, Istanbul

Beautiful!

I spent a couple of hours doing pretty much nothing but people and cat watching. It was time to head back and I caught a ferry back to the European side before taking a taxi ride that rivalled any rollercoaster. There were men carrying carpets who darted across in front of the car, countless buses that decided they liked our lane (and I use the word lane very loosely) better and who knew a car could even fit between two buses like that. All this at seemingly a break neck speed in peak hour traffic.

Cat and street vendor, Istanbul
Cat and street vendor, Istanbul
Commuters getting ready to disembark at Üsküdar
Commuters getting ready to disembark at Üsküdar

I am currently sitting in the fine dining restaurant of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Harbiye in flip flops. This was a ‘splash out’ hotel for me at the end of the Turkey leg (no pun intended) of my trip and also I am an IHG member so I get points. I am eating Meze (which I was destined to eat because my nickname is Mezz) which is a Turkish Platter – a little like tapas. This one has hummus, a spicy rice dip, and two vegetable selections, one which was carrots and celery and the other marinated green beans. They were very nice indeed. I have asked the maitre’d so many questions that I am sure he thinks I am a food critic or blogger.

Bosphorus, Istanbul
Bosphorus, Istanbul
Sun setting over Istanbul
Sun setting over Istanbul

Ok so tomorrow I say farewell to Turkey. I will miss your smiling faces, crazy driving, persistent sexy (and some not so sexy) men and wonderful history. Goodbye Turkey, hello Eire.

Turkish Meze
Turkish Meze
Farewell Istanbul
Farewell Istanbul

N.B. There are two more rather important Turkish posts to come. One is Cappadocia which has a fascinating landscape and where Christians lived underground to avoid persecution, and the other is Ephesus, a place so ancient that it is mentioned in the bible. Stay tuned…

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

In the Harem area of Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.
In the Harem area of Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.

The Sultanahmet area of Istanbul has a lot of the historic attractions that anyone would want to visit on their first or even second visit to Istanbul. There is the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), Hagia Sofia (Aya Sofya), Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Arasta Bazaar and Topkapi Palace.

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

The palace was begun in the 1400s and Ottoman sultans lived there until the 19th century.  There are various courtyards to move through and each one has its own set of buildings.  I think my favourite part was the harem.  It was quite separate and I’m pretty sure I read that the word harem means protected.  There was a very big line to get into the Treasury but once inside you don’t have to stay in a line moving around to the various pieces of jewellery.

The cost was 20 Turkish Liras and the Harem cost an extra 15TL.  It took me a good 3 hours to get around to it all and some areas I moved through very quickly. It was very worth seeing – get there early before the crowds.

The very popular Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.
The very popular Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.