Tag Archives: midlife travel

Off to Antarctica on Christmas Day 2016

25th December 2016

Well, this is something you haven’t seen for quite a while, a new post from MidlifeTraveller! I last wrote about my 2013 travels a year ago, and was only up to Vigo in Portugal on 6th August 2013. I continued my travels that year until early November and continued on to Spain, Morocco, Croatia, and Puglia in Italy as well as Sicily. I still hope to write more about this one day!!! In December 2015-January 2016 I had a fantastic trip to Cuba and Mexico and same time this year I was off on an Antarctic cruise, just returning home on 13th January 2017. If I don’t write now it won’t happen, so here goes.

Hobart Museum sketched Jan-16

Hobart Museum sketched Jan-16

I took a trip to Hobart last year over the Australia Day weekend, and found the Antarctic section of the museum there totally fascinating. Then and there I decided my next destination was going to be the great southern continent. By the end of March it was all booked and deposit paid, only thing left to do was save the rest!!

On Christmas morning 2016 I flew out of Brisbane on Air New Zealand bound for Buenos Aires via a few hour stopover in Auckland. I’ve never flown with them before but couldn’t recommend the airline highly enough. The plane, staff and service was exceptional, we even had NZ wine poured out of full-sized bottles, something I haven’t experienced before in economy class! Being Christmas Day also bought a visit and chocolates through the plane by Santa and one of his elves – how cool was that.

Santa & helper on Air NZ flight Christmas Day 2016

Santa & helper on Air NZ flight Christmas Day 2016

About 20 hours later I arrived in Buenos Aires to Christmas Day still, about 3 in the afternoon, talk about making the day last. Stayed 2 nights at the Hotel Merit in San Telmo and took a half day bus and walking tour around the tourist hotspots of the city. Being only 5 of us in the group, it was a very relaxed and fun morning. This gave me a good idea of where I wanted to revisit when I came back for a few days at the end of my trip. La Boca was one of my favourite spots, seemingly, along with plenty of other tourists.The rest of the day was spent wandering back around the streets near the centre of the city.

Flying over NZ on the way to Buenos Aires, peaks in the distance

Flying over NZ on the way to Buenos Aires, peaks in the distance

An early start to the next day saw me at the airport by 5:30am and landing in the southern most town of Argentina at Ushuaia by about 10am. I must say it’s quite a change for me to be met at the airports by someone holding a sign with my name on it who whisks me off to the hotel. Much less stress that finding my way in a country where I don’t speak the language.



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Filed under Argentina, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel, Travel

So this is what they mean by “Mexican time” or “Cuban time”

Had brekky, did a sketch from my room and wrote some notes before pickup at 12:30 for the airport; we’ve increased numbers by another 2, a couple, Chris and Min, from Melbourne have joined us also. We were at the airport by 12:45 even though our flight wasn’t due to leave until after 4.Thank goodness there were a few of us because we had no idea where to go or what to do; a guy in uniform came up and asked us which airline we were flying with, told him Cuba Air and he told us which number check-in desk to go to but we would have to buy the Cuban entry visa for US$25 before we checked in and he could do it for us then. Jenny, Tanya and I all gave him our money and got our visas but Min & Chris and Wendy and John didn’t trust him so didn’t get theirs. This guy then took us to the check-in counters and started doing the same thing with everyone in the line. The 2 couples had to wait then for him to do theirs and he said to them, do you trust me now, bahaha!

We still had almost 3 hours to kill, so had lunch at an American place called Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, all themed on the Forest Gump movie. According to most of the others my chicken salad was the pick of the food!  Boring as batshit sitting around waiting after that, the flight was delayed and even after we boarded there were more delays and we didn’t leave until 6 pm. After all that it only took 50 mins to get to Havana.

I sat next to a couple from Seattle going on a tour but only allowed to stay 7 days and mostly around Havana. They told me one way Americans get around the ban is to organize it through a Canadian travel company as a cultural visit. When we got there it took about 20 minutes for any bags to start coming out, and, I kid you not, 2 hours for 10 of us to finally get all our luggage. Sometimes the same 6 items would go round a huge loop 6 times or more before any new items were added. Also, seems there’s quite an amount of goods coming in on normal flights, if there was one tyre come out there must have been 15! All this time there were more airport staff than you could poke a stick at wandering around having hugs, cheek kisses and good old chats! It was a real eye opener too, they were all very young, the girls uniform skirts were tight minis and most work black fishnet stockings, the guys uniforms were reminiscent of the old safari suits of the 80’s. During the wait I was talking to a couple from Tingalpa or Taragindi (can’t remember which) on holidays with their two boys. They’d been to LA, Las Vegas and Cancun, are having 3 weeks in Cuba and another week in Hawaii on the way home – 6 weeks in all – pretty cool!

Most of us had wanted to change money at the airport, however, the guide, Vladimir, told us we’d be better off doing it at the hotel and the rate would be the same. Another 40 mins to our hotel, The Telegrafo, in the middle of Havana, checked in, changed money and met back in the lobby 10 minutes later to walk to dinner – at 10 pm. Dinner was fantastic, assorted seafood, the mojitos were nice and minty and everything was all new, different and interesting. Back to the hotel at midnight for a 3:40 am wake up call to be in the lobby by 4:30 to catch plane to Baracoa! Never thought I’d get sick of flying but I’m getting close at the moment, this will be the 5th flight in a few of days!

It’s sort of annoying to have spent the whole day doing absolutely nothing until late at night when we saw a little of Havana old town and had dinner. But, I guess, that’s the joys of travel, isn’t it and tomorrow we’ll get to start our holiday properly.

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Filed under Cuba, Mid-life travel, Travel

Off to Cuba

Well, I must say I’m a bit excited, it’s more than 2 years since I had more than a couple of days away from home and here I am off to Cuba, albeit on a guided tour! Also going to be in Mexico for a few days to catch up with my eldest son who’s been backpacking South and Central America since the beginning of May.

I was pretty sad Christmas morning, quite weird and lonely to be completely on my own so I was pleased to be spending the day travelling. I left home 7:30 on Xmas morning for the airport. and left Brisbane for Sydney at 9:30. I let a guy get off ahead of me when we landed and we talked as we walked out. He was going to Hong Kong for few days, visiting his sisters in Munich and London then going to Santiago in California for few days on his way home but was more interested in me going to Cuba. we ended up on same shuttle bus to the international terminal and he was asking me why I decided to go, what I was looking forward to, lots of questions and said he was putting it on his list of places to go! Was 12:30 by the time I got through customs and security and had a few hours to wait so had lunch and couple of wines and did a couple of sketches.

Had an aisle seat in middle row and no one next to me but still didn’t sleep much. It’s pretty ordinary being in economy on long flights, when the guy in front of me put his seat back I couldn’t fit my legs in straight. Got to Dallas 14 hours later and it was still only 1pm Christmas Day! Had couple of hours in Dallas and met another lady on the same tour, Jennie. Heaps of Aussies from my Qantas flight on the same plane to Cancun and none of us really knew if we had to collect luggage or not but took a chance and didn’t. At boarding we got told we had to go and check in again, some people not happy but didn’t really matter. Met another girl on the plane, Tanya, who is on same tour. When we got to Cancun I was late out of the plane and went to wrong baggage carousel with other people so was last one to meet the person with the Bunnik sign, still, no matter but was doing  a minor panic!

First thing I saw outside the terminal was a Margarita Bar – cool. Turns out there was one other couple on the same flights as the three of us, Wendy and John from Darwin. At the hotel in Cancun it took ages to check-in as they didn’t have rooms assigned to us but the two young blokes on reception were really nice, laid-back and friendly. Being the end of a huge day/night/day we all had dinner in the restaurant at the hotel; mixed fajitas and 3 glasses of Chardonnay was US $20. A lovely long hot shower and off to bed felt so luxurious after all those hours in planes and airports; I slept like a log. An amazingly it was still Christmas day, about 10pm Cancun time but 1pm our time on Boxing Day.

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Filed under Mexico, Travel

Taking the crash position on Santorini

3rd July 2013

Well, after my appalling behaviour yesterday about Sarah’s driving, I’ll never be allowed to live down today’s antics. This bloody so-called “smart car” feels like it takes up way more of the road than it should and is nowhere near as easy to handle  as our little “topless” model was on Paros.

I’m not sure how many times I wandered to the wrong side of the road but Sarah did assume the classic “crash position” with her head down and arms up protecting herself at least once – or, ummm, maybe twice. But, in my defence, I think she was giving me dodgy navigational information at the time of these lapses!! On the other hand, the driver of the car I almost ran into by being on the other (notice how I said “other”, not “wrong?) side of the road didn’t seem particularly fazed. It could be that my style of driving is the norm here – or maybe that’s just my story and I’m sticking to it, lol……

The beautiful Red Beach, Santorini

The beautiful Red Beach, Santorini

Even with my dicey driving we did manage to make it to Red Beach and Akrotiri and back in one piece. The track to the Red Beach was just that and so unlike anything I’ve ever encountered before. We followed another person who looked like they knew where they were going. We clambered up, down, over rocks and bits of wood sort of nailed together into a makeshift step and came to the amazing sight of the Red Beach. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and just a tiny bit further along is another beach with some of the whitest sand I’ve seen here.What was even more astonishing was that the umbrella’s and sun loungers had been unpacked from their storage areas built into the red cliffs and were lining the beach at 8 in the morning – and there were people using them already. Talk about keen, but I do think it’s one of the places not to miss on Santorini.

It was only a short drive back to the archeological site of Akrotiri. Not much chance of car related mishaps you’d think, but even then I managed to drive into the car park via the exit, and of course bloody eagle eye Sarah didn’t miss that one either. thank goodness we were both seeing the funny side of things today, unlike yesterday.

Inside the Akrotiri site Santorini

Inside the Akrotiri site Santorini

On a more serious note though, it’s difficult to believe this city dates back to something like 4,000BC and was buried about 1,500BC by a massive volcanic eruption. It’s also harder to believe excavation of this site began in 1967 and that it’s still relatively not well-known. Like Pompeii the city was quite well preserved and the tour through the site was well worth the small cost. The drainage systems and three-story buildings must have been really something that far back in time – sort of makes me wonder if we really are as clever as we think sometimes. The site is enclosed in a huge building  which makes for easy strolling  so we spent quite a while there.

We bought some fruit from a vendor in the car park when we left and headed back to the hotel. I must have been all tuckered out from the early start and the excitement of scaring everyone silly enough to be on the roads – I tootled off to our room and had a nanna nap while Sarah calmed her nerves with a cocktail or two by the pool!!


Filed under Greece, Travel