Monthly Archives: November 2013
It was August 2010 when we flew out on a Virgin Australia flight to the Sunshine Coast for a long weekend. Hiring a car on arrival we set off to Noosa where I had booked accommodation at the Noosa Blue Resort.
Having looked at their website prior to booking, the resort offered self-contained suites with spa baths, individual BBQs on the terrace/balconies, swimming pool, bar and restaurant, and on-site parking; couldn’t ask for better so we booked for a couple of days.
On arrival the room allocated to us was on the ground floor. It was dark and quite dingy. The terrace offered no privacy with our neighbouring rooms and a sign on the BBQ advised it was broken. The TV was on the blink and its remote was faulty. Not that we planned to stay much in our room, but it would be nice to be able to use the facilities on offer especially for the price we paid.
We were disappointed further when we were told the bar and restaurant only operated in summer, so this was turning into quite a letdown. It would have been better to have paid a little extra and stayed at one of the numerous hotels near the beach.
The location of the Noosa Blue Resort at 16 Noosa Drive was too far out of the town and the beach to actually walk it; and as the resort was at the brow of a hill it would have been too much of a hike to walk it in either direction anyway – so just as well we had the car.
On the first evening we drove back into the town and did a bit of shopping at the local Independent Grocer supermarket buying a few necessities such as milk, bread, tea, water, lemonade, etc. Fortunately across the street was a bar and licensed bottle shop so we were able to buy a couple of bottles of wine.
The first night we were there however we drove to the beach area to investigate and check out the restaurants and cafés; and settled for a delightful Indian restaurant for our evening meal. The food was superb as was the service.
It might be nice to have a spa in the room, but the only drawback is that the resort does not recommend to guests as when not to use it… as it happened for us we were woken in the early hours of the morning by the mechanical thrusters of the infernal thing from guests in the room above us. I am sure they had a wonderful exotic or perhaps even erotic experience in the bubbling water whilst not even considering [perhaps it didn’t even dawn on them] the noise would disturb all those around and beneath them.
The following morning we set off to the famous Eumundi Markets. Following the directions on the map we obtained from the hotel’s reception foyer Eumundi was easily located. Parking the car in the designated car park – a large field at the edge of the town, we set off to investigate the surroundings.
Eumundi is a small town situated in the Queensland hinterland. It was established in the late 1800’s and is located 118kms north of Brisbane. The markets were started in 1979 when a couple of friends decided to start-up a farmers and artisan market. Today the market is occupied by around six hundred stalls and is visited annually by approximately 1.6 million people.
We had a nice morning until Sandra, my wife, took a tumble crossing a street falling flat on her face. She was fortunate there were not any on-coming vehicles at the time which could have made the situation worse. I helped her up and with thanks to a fellow shopper who also came to the rescue we sat her on a bench whilst I looked for someone with first aid experience.
How utterly disgusting that in such a large venue where so many visitors are about there was not one First Aid Station, nor did we see any police officers patrolling the area. In the end a couple of volunteers manning the Information Kiosk provided a band-aid or two and cleaned up her abrasions. They had no drinking water, so I was obliged to purchase a couple of bottles for us to consume. I think I must have been in a state of shock from the experience as I was left quite shaken. Sandra wears glasses and during the fall the frames were damaged; fortunately the lenses survived the impact.
Once she [and I] had fully recovered I suggested we had back to Noosa to have lunch at the local surf club. However, prior to us setting off Sandra said she had just one more purchase to make… how could she even think of buying anything after such a fall?? I should know better when there’s shopping to be done nothing interrupts the purchase of something wanted – not even an injury! I must agree the cushion covers which I bought for her are nice and suit our lounge suite perfectly…
We left the markets and drove to the Noosa Heads Surf Club for lunch. The food was beautiful as was the view so we gladly ambled away the rest of the afternoon lazily eating our meal followed by a leisurely walk along the water’s edge jealously admiring the beachside apartments and hotels which hugged the foreshore.
As evening fell we returned to our hotel room to try to watch some TV and snack on pizza – we should have stayed at the beach!!
If I was to rate the Noosa Blue Resort I’m afraid the best I can do is scoring it at most a 4/10 – we shan’t be back.
The following morning we set off to spend a night in Maroochydore before returning to Sydney. We drove along the David Low Way stopping at Coolum for a coffee and to take a look at the town which has been slowly developing since its establishment in the late 1800’s.
Parks border the beach and several shops and cafés line the esplanade which is also the main road. As with all beachside towns throughout Australia Coolum’s Surf Life Savers’ club is the centre of activity for the community and visitors.
Leaving Coolum behind, we made our way to the Sebel Hotel/Apartments at Maroochydore arriving at around lunchtime. We checked in and were bowled over when we walked into the room – it was a two bedroom apartment on practically the highest floor – one short of the penthouse – or so it felt: the views were breathtaking:
It was a nice high to finish the holiday on after that dreadful hotel in Noosa; and made us wish we had spent our entire time here instead.
We lunched at the Surf Club at Mooloolaba [http://www.thesurfclub.com.au/] and spent the afternoon at the hotel pool. That evening after watching the sunset from our balcony we dined at the Blue Bar near the hotel [on the corner of Maroubra Street and Aerodrome Road]. Their food and ambiance was excellent.
The following morning before setting off to the airport we enjoyed a MacDonald’s breakfast from the tranquility of our high-rise balcony enjoying some of the best views ever…
RLB – Tomewriter
It was the first day of winter 2007 when I set off from Golfe Juan railway station to spend a few hours in Monte Carlo. It was cool but sunny and dry – perfect weather.
Monte Carlo by road is at a distance of about 46kms from Golfe Juan and would take approximately forty-five minutes to get there; by train it’s much faster and more comfortable. Besides the railway line follows the coast line and the view is spectacular.
I was accompanied on the journey by my sister Terry and her husband Rudy, my cousin Dorothy and her husband Derek, and two other cousins [sisters] Anna and Rita.
The trains depart every 20 minutes or so and the fare [at least now days] is 9 € one way [A$13].
The station at Monte Carlo is underground, carved into the mountain. In fact the entire length of railway in Monaco [1.7kms] is built within the mountain. Although the station was originally built in 1867 it was extensively re-constructed in 1999. The platforms are wide and well lit. The clean white marbled-effect walls, pillars and floors are impressive as is the entrance from which we emerged and made our way into the town.
We walked past shuttered buildings painted in creams and ocres, and roads cut through rock cliffs. A market selling Christmas trees, fruit, flowers and vegetables in stalls with red and yellow canopies standing in a plaza of red terracotta tiles and cheerfully decorated street lanterns reminding us the festive season had begun.
From the market we traipsed up a long driveway leading up to the old town and were rewarded with a display of military precision from the local militia in the square before the Palace, its entrance “guarded” by cannon and ball.
The narrow streets off the square were complete with cafés, restaurants, a variety of boutiques and gift shops. It was lunchtime so finding a suitable pizzeria we entered for a well-deserved rest and meal.
With our hunger sated we set off once more to view the surrounds. From the high gardens the views across the Marinas below and the Mediterranean in the distance was enough to take one’s breath away.
Then turning around and looking behind to behold the Cathedral where on 18th April 1956 Prince Rainier III married actress Grace-Patricia Kelly.
Leaving the old city we descended towards the port. In the distance we would see the road tunnel which is one of the many notable landmarks associated with the annual Formula 1 Motor Grand Prix. This prestigious motor race has been held in Monte Carlo since 14th April 1929.
The foreshore had been turned into a winter wonderland village complete with rides and artificial snow.
Our final destination before heading back to the train station was the world-famous Casino. As we trudged up the steep inclined road the sound of violin could be heard and looking around in the direction it was coming from, a lone violinist practicing could be seen on a balcony; no doubt inspired by the wonderful vista from his building.
Rounding a corner we emerged at what looked like a massive roundabout; at its centre a wide round garden consisting of well-manicured lawns, palm trees and fountain. Around it parked in a display of unprecedented wealth is a mixture of prestige sports cars and limousines.
We found a café to sit at and enjoy a coffee whilst taking in the view of the Casino which apart from luring many a gambler to its tables has also been the setting of several James Bond movies.
RLB – Tomewriter
My next travel blog will be about Monte Carlo, but I thought I would just mention how I came to going to Monaco…
It was 2007 and my younger sister, Terry said she wanted to organise a surprise birthday celebration for our older sister, Lesley who was to turn sixty on 30th November of that year. Terry made enquiries and sent out invitations to family and friends around the world; and at her call we came: from Australia, England, France, Germany, Malta, and Switzerland.
As Lesley lives in the south of France with our mother it would be difficult for mum to arrange for hotel accommodation for the guests, a restaurant for the birthday lunch and taxis to meet people at the airport without Lesley finding out. It was therefore left to Terry to organise. Fortunately though, friend and hotelier, Jean of the Hotel de Provence in Golfe Juan was in on the surprise and set aside several rooms for all us guests. Not wanting to sound too biased, but I would gladly recommend the hotel as it is inexpensive and well placed with proximity to the railway station, buses and the beach:
She also arranged for a party to be held at the hotel café/bar in the evening with champagne and cake.
The hardest part of it all was to keep Lesley in the dark until her actual birthday. A restaurant was booked for dinner the night before as we all arrived on the 29th. I had flown into London from Sydney earlier that week and Terry had arranged for flights for me, her husband Rudy and herself. Also flying out of London on the same flight was a couple of friends we had known since our arrival in England in the late 1950’s.
When we reached Nice our mini bus was waiting to drive the five of us including some dear friends who had flown in from Switzerland to the Hotel de Provence in Golfe Juan.
Once settled into our rooms, we waited in the bar, whilst the others arrived; our cousins: Dagmar from Germany, Rita from Malta, and Anna, Dorothy and Derek from London. As evening fell we headed to the Toscana Brasserie/Pizzeria at Avenue des Frères Roustan for a wonderful meal. The restaurant was to be the venue for Lesley’s birthday lunch the following day…
The day of surprises began when Terry and I walked from the town to the residential apartments where Mum and Lesley live. Although Lesley was expecting Terry and Rudy to arrive, she was expecting to fetch them from the airport that afternoon. So when Terry buzzed the front door Lesley was taken aback to see her standing there. What blew her away was when I rounded the corner and said “Happy Birthday, Sis!” I regret I hadn’t had the camera out when I said it, as the expression on her face was priceless.
But it wasn’t going to be the only surprise for her as we all knew; so it was nice to hug and enjoy breakfast together on the balcony.
Telling her that Rudy awaited us at Jean’s hotel, she offered to drive the four of us into the town, unbeknown to her that it was all part of a very well-rehearsed plan.
Stepping into the hotel café/bar Lesley was pleased to see Rudy sitting at a table enjoying a coffee and reading the paper, but was puzzled when another friend, Ninette, was also there dressed very smartly – so early in the day!
Then one by one people she hadn’t seen in years appeared from the corridor: Sylvia and Hans from Switzerland were the first to make an entrance and Lesley’s shocked expression spoke for itself. Hugs, kisses, and photographs followed and just as she began to relax, Loretta and her mum, Salvi stepped into the room. More tears of joy, exclamations of surprise, gifts and yet more hugs. Then from outside in walked Dagmar carrying a bunch of roses, and Lesley’s expression was one of non-recognition. A slight prompt from me was needed before the penny dropped. By now Lesley’s face was fatigued by all the joyful tears, but we weren’t going to let her off so lightly. Some of her local friends showed up and in all this time Jean was behind the bar desperately trying to remain unsurprised in her part of the conspiracy.
As planned, glasses of champagne appeared and Lesley began to relax. It was time to spring a few more faces into the room. Anna, followed by her sister Rita came in, with Dorothy and Derek training slowly behind. The pièce de résistance however was to be the entry of her friends Cindy and Syd from Australia.
The Toscana was just as nice during lunch. Terry had prepared some wonderful souvenir menus with a photo of Lesley when she had been a toddler on the cover. The table was decked out with bottles of wine, bowls of sugar almonds, scattered sparkles, and the atmosphere was of blissful joy.
After lunch some of us strolled along the promenade, whilst the older members retired back to their hotel rooms for a siesta before the evening’s planned party.
It would be a night to remember with finger food, champagne and birthday cake. Friends talking, laughing, reminiscing about old times and thoroughly enjoying a wonderful birthday celebration…
The following morning a few of us woke early to a crisp, but sunny winter’s day and set off to the city synonymous with royalty, glitz, and formula one motor racing – Monte Carlo.
RLB – Tomewriter
** Footnote** I have only included a few photographs in this blog as the majority of the day’s events includes photos of family and friends. I have purposely not added these to respect their privacy.
When I was a boy during school holidays my dad would take me with him to his office to help out. His office was located in the City of London close to Leadenhall Street which was where the original building of Lloyd’s of London had been established [the new building is now in Lime Street]. Dad worked for the Societa Italiana Trasporti Marittimi or as was better known the Sitmar Line.
At that time, during the 1960s, there were two ships which sailed from Southampton, England to Australia. The Fairsea and the Fairsky formed part of our lives as dad would talk about them as they were part of the family. In a way they were an integral part of our lives. We lived in an apartment block in Hampstead in North West London consisting of some eight apartments which was owed by the Sitmar Company; and all residents were one-time Sitmar employees.
On the days I would go to the office with dad, he would put me to work to sort out labels for the ships’ passengers’ luggage. There was a huge hall where extremely long trestle tables took up the entire space, and I would sort out the labels from ‘A’ to ‘Z’.
Some of the interesting features of the office though were the scaled models of the various ships, including the predecessors of the “Fair” ships: Castel Bianco, Castel Verde, and Castel Felice. [http://www.ssmaritime.com/sitmar1.htm ]. There also were various cargo vessels and oil tankers owned by the company’s founder a Russian émigré named Alexandre Vlasov. The other things of interest were the sea charts and routes the ships sailed including a large map of Australia.
In the years my father worked for Sitmar from the late 1950s through to the mid-1970s all we ever heard about were places named Sydney, Melbourne, and above all – Fremantle…
It seemed only fitting that when the opportunity came up for me to travel to Fremantle in August this year  that I should take it without hesitation.
The Romance Writers of Australia Conference was being held at the Esplanade Rydges Hotel, Fremantle over the weekend of 16th – 18th August. Flying with Virgin Australia from Sydney I arrived in Perth late morning and took a taxi to the hotel.
As the room was not ready I left my luggage with the concierge and went to the hotel’s Marine bar for a bite to eat – I was starving.
Being a sunny afternoon and my appetite sated with a burger and a beer I set off to explore the town. Exiting the hotel I turned left into Essex Street and walked its entire length passing a couple of café/restaurants along the way until I came to the junction of South Terrace.
On the opposite corner was a grand old building, built in the mid-1800, which was the Sail & Anchor Hotel. Next to it across a pedestrian walkway are the Fremantle Markets. I wandered in looking at the various and varied stalls, but being only small it didn’t take long before I was back walking along South Terrace.
Passing a Pizzeria, a second-hand bookshop, and numerous other cafés and restaurants I traversed the road and walked into Collie Street heading back towards the Esplanade.
On reaching Marine Terrace I walked along it towards the waterfront; on one side of the road was a large park dotted with memorials, benches, a café and a children’s play area.
At the end of Marine Terrace on the corner of Clif Street is the Maritime Museum – Shipwreck Galleries.
The waterfront itself is massive, what I saw of it was but a mere small portion of it; but then I only had an afternoon to see what I could. I will need to return to Fremantle / Perth to fully appreciate it.
You need to cross a single track railway line to reach the Arthur’s Head Reserve which has a small beach area. By now the sunny afternoon was giving way to some dark clouds coming in from the sea and the wind had picked up bringing with it some chill weather…
Before returning to the hotel I thought I should check out the wharf area where I had been told there were some nice restaurants. Sure enough the area was pretty enough with some interesting bronze statues dotted here and there; my favourites being of two fishermen:
With one last look at the port it was time to head back to the hotel. The question was would I get there before the heavens opened?
RLB – Tomewriter
Having visited most of the sights worth seeing in and around Adelaide, it would have been a crying shame to have returned to Sydney without having had a peak in the direction of the Southern Ocean or at least the northern most reaches of it off the South Australian coast…
… And so we set off to Glenelg; perhaps the only town in Australia [who knows, perhaps even the World], which is spelt the same forwards or backwards. http://glenelgsa.com.au/
We visited Glenelg, which is located 10km from the centre of Adelaide, briefly as part of the Adelaide City Highlights Tour run by Sealink. However we wanted to spend some time there, we set off from our hotel at South Terrace early afternoon driving down the Anzac Highway [A5].
Established in 1836 it is the oldest European settlement in the South Australian mainland. On the 23rd July of that year the HMS Buffalo had sailed out of Portsmouth, England with one hundred and seventy-six colonists. Amongst them was Captain John Hindmarsh [1785 – 1860] who, following the proclamation made on 28th December 1836, was appointed as the first Governor of the new colony of South Australia.
The Kaurna Indigenous people knew the area as Pattawilya and the local river as Pattawilyangga which was renamed the Patawalonga River. Today a replica of the HMS Buffalo is moored at Glenelg and doubles up as a restaurant.
Today Glenelg is a beachside town with a population of around 3,500. The High Street comprises with an assortment of shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars. The Town Hall stands proudly close to the jetty where a memorial commemorates the arrival of the pioneer settlers and the establishment of the colony.
The jetty juts out to sea at distance of 215 metres (705 feet) less than two-thirds of the original jetty and offers an excellent view of the town and beach, both are impressive, particularly the vast array of new apartment blocks on either side of the pier.
Looking onshore to the left of the pier towards Glenelg North the Marina Pier apartments with their own private marina and the Pier Hotel dominate the skyline.
For us, we spent a pleasant afternoon wandering around the town discovering the sights the town had to offer. Had lunch overlooking the sea, enjoyed a coffee and cake by the Town Hall square, walked the entire length of the town window shopping and purchasing souvenirs.
Had we not had the car we could have travelled back into Adelaide by tram… perhaps next time.
RLB – Tomewriter