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HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF ONE DAY IN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.

Friday, 17 January 2020

I've done my fair share of city breaks, and what I've learnt is most of the time you can pretty much see everything you want to see in the space of one or two days. Today marks my last day in New Zealand after travelling around the North Island for 9 days. When planning this trip I couldn't leave out Auckland and Wellington, but knew I wanted to spend most of my time in NZ doing some more adventurous stuff and on top of mountains and stuff. Here's my guide to spending one day in Auckland, and where to stay.

mount eden auckland

Getting to Auckland 

Auckland doesn't have an underground train system, but it does have a shuttle that runs 24 hours from Auckland airport to get you to your accommodation (or close to it). The SkyBus costs $17 and I believe has two or three departures every hour. The bus also has free wi-fi!

Where To Stay | Queen Street Backpackers 


This backpackers is located right in the centre of the city so you won't need to catch any public transport to get to anywhere you want to go (other than the airport). The hostel provides complimentary breakfast (toast, spreads and cereal) and the rooms were clean. It does get a bit noisy at night because it's close to the clubs, so they also provide earplugs for that if you're a light sleeper! 

Breakfast - No1 Pancake 


You'll find this place on most eating guides for Auckland, as it's good and cheap! They serve a range of savoury and sweet pancake options that are all under $10, so it's a great option if you're on a budget.

Auckland Sky Tower

I mean personally this isn't the most impressive thing to see so you'll probably look at it for two minutes and get on with your day. However, if you've got money to spend and looking for a more thrill seeking experience, you can actually walk along the outside of the tower for $150 (and lean over the edge if you want to). If you want something every scarier, you can try the SkyJump, which is probably as scary as it sounds. 

auckland sky tower


Climb up Mount Eden 

Mount Eden is a dormant volcano (phew) and also the highest natural point in Auckland, which means you can get some pretty cool views of the city. The walk to the top from the city takes 30 - 45 minutes, so its a pretty easy hike up and will prepare you for the bigger ones yet to come if you're travelling more of New Zealand. 

Auckland Domain 

If you don't fancy walking back down, you can get a OuterLink bus from Mount Eden to the Domain. This is the oldest park in Auckland and if you want to get some picturesque photos then head to the Wintergardens which has a glasshouse full of tropical plants.
  

Lunch - Better Burger 

New Zealand's answer to Five Guys. I was disappointed they didn't have mayonnaise because, who doesn't have chips with mayo?!

better burger

Free Walking Tour

I always do these the first day I get to a city because it's a great way to get your bearings, learn a bit more about the city and get some insider knowledge and tips on what to do and the best places to eat.  We went with Auckland Free Walking Tours and they do two tours daily at 10am and 2pm and the tour runs for around 2.5 hours. Essentially they're free but you tip them whatever you think the tour was worth at the end! 


Have an ice-cream at Giapo's 

We were probably in here for 45 minutes so you definitely need to set some time aside for this! There's usually queues out the door for this place but it was pretty short when we went at 4pm. When you enter one of the staff members will take you through the different ways you can have your ice-cream served (there are some very extra cone designs available) and get to sample all 8 flavours before deciding. I went with New Zealand's famous hokey pokey ice cream which is vanilla ice-cream with honeycomb bits, and had it 'slightly melted'. Prices start at $8 so you will be paying slightly more than if you were to just get a scoop up the road. 

hokey pokey ice cream

Dinner - Satya Soul Indian Restaurant

This place is relatively cheap without compromising on taste (or portion size). It's also a BYO establishment so you can bring a bottle of wine along with you and start your pre drinks early if you plan on heading out after. 

Frenzi Pub Crawl 

If you're looking for cheap deal drinks then I recommend this pub crawl that takes place every Thursday. For $10 you get entry to four nightclubs in Auckland as well as a complimentary drink in each. They also have drink deals for people on the pub crawl so you can get a basic & mixer for $5. 

Have you ever been to Auckland? What were your highlights?

G



auckland itinerary tea with gi


TRAVELLING THE EAST COAST WITH GREYHOUND AUSTRALIA.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

I'm currently sat in the common room at my hostel in Sydney after taking a 13 hour overnight coach from Byron Bay. Since I've still got a good 5 hours until I can check-in, I thought it would be a good time to pour a cup of coffee and start writing about my trip so far. If you follow me on this blog or on my socials, you'll probably know I spent 10 months living in Brisbane, and last week set off on a two week east coast trip from Cairns down to Sydney. I've been very lucky to be able to collaborate with Greyhound Australia who got me across the country in one piece. If you're currently planning your east coast trip and looking for tips, things to do and where to stay, look no further. 

tea with gi australia east coast


Transport 



So the easiest way to travel around the east coast of Australia (and some of Northern Territory) is with the Greyhound coach service. I flew from Brisbane to Cairns and then over 8 coach trips have made my way down to Sydney. I was gifted a 15 day Whimit pass which gave me unlimited travel on their coaches within 15 days, in any direction. I was very lucky to have two seats to myself 90% of the time. The longest trip I did was 13 hours and I expected it to be a lot worse to be honest! The coach departed at 7:30pm and I tried to stay awake until 11pm and then sleep overnight just as I would on a bed. With the help of my melatonin tablets, my neck cradle pillow and eye mask it was quite a smooth journey. The coaches are air conditioned, have free Wi-Fi (admittedly a bit on the slow side) and the seats are spacious. If you're going to be making a lot of stops on your trip I'd definitely recommend getting a Whitmit pass as it works out more cost effective than buying individual trips.

greyhound australia

The Route



To make things easier, here's a map of the main stops Greyhound makes. Don't let the closeness in dots trick you, as some journeys will still be 9 hours! My journey took me from Cairns - Townsville (Magnetic Island) - Airlie Beach - Agnes Water - Hervey Bay - Noosa (different trip) - Byron Bay - Sydney.

Photo Credit



CAIRNS



Where to Stay: Gilligan's Hotel and Resort 


Can you believe I went to one of Australia's biggest party hostels and didn't party? In between my flight being 4 hours delayed and arriving to Cairns at 11pm, and then my sea sickness dilemma the day after I think I was pretty satisfied with just having a good rest and a cup of tea. I had my own private deluxe room and I was surprised by how modern it was. Gilligan's offers shared dorms but if you're travelling in a couple or fancy your space then booking into a private room means you get your privacy but also all the social aspects of a hostel. If you are planning on partying then Gilligans nightclub is two steps from the hostel, and there are also a ton of other activities going on in the hostel every day. 

Free Breakfast ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️
Free Shuttle from airport ✔️

* I received a complimentary stay at Gilligan's Resort for review.


greyhound australia


Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at Caffeind - try the chilli eggs or homemade banana and walnut bread which comes with caramelised banana, coconut gelato and coconut caramel sauce.

Lunch at Gilligan's - they offer $5 meals (and they're big portions too).

Dinner at Moku Bar & Grill - for some insta-worthy plates and a varied selection of seafood and meat. It's located in the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort so the views are pretty good too.

What to Do:


Great Barrier Reef Dive - There are tons of companies offering trips out to the Great Barrier Reef and they can range from $150 - $400. If you're paying to go out there then I 100% recommend doing a dive, as you won't see half as much if you must go snorkelling. I booked mine through Visit Cairns and they have a variety of tours on their website for all budgets.

So story time, I'm not usually someone who gets seasick, but man this had to be the worst 3 hour boat journey of my life (and I did the blue lagoon ferry trip in Malta when I was hangover and running on two hours sleep). I'm not sure if it was the waves, or that my stomach was feeling a bit fragile that morning but I threw up a total of 5 times on the day, not fun. That aside, the scuba diving was an insane experience. Breathing through a tube underwater takes some getting used to and your ears can get a bit painful as you descend but 100% worth it. Make sure you do some research into the area the boat goes to, as some will be 'prettier' than others.

Daintree Rainforest - The Daintree rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world, and it's only 2 hours away from Cairns. I recommend booking a day tour like this Daintree Wilderness tour which will guide you through all the different environments in the rainforest, includes a tropical lunch and a cruise along the river.

great barrier reef dive

Practical Advice:

  • If you are planning on scuba diving, make sure you're not planning on flying for 48 hours after. As the pressure could mess with your little ears! 


TOWNSVILLE (MAGNETIC ISLAND)



Where to Stay:  Bungalow Bay Koala Village 


If you have spent the weekend partying it up in Cairns, then Magnetic Island is the perfect place to unwind. I slept in a Bungalow and I had the nicest day just chilling on a hammock by the pool reading, getting to know the animals and waking up to two Wallaby's outside my door in the morning. Bungalow Bay has its own wildlife sanctuary so you don't have to go far to cuddle a koala! My Bungalow came with a double bed, a fan, a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. There's a communal kitchen, bathrooms and a pool on site.
Free Wi-Fi
 in reception area ✔️

* I received a complimentary stay at Bungalow Bay for review.


bungalow bay

Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at The Early Bird - filled with all your usual healthy goodies, avocado toast, acai bowls and power smoothies.

Lunch at Cafe Nourish - like the name suggests, this cafe is filled with clean meals and has plenty of vegan options.

Dinner at Sandi's - located along the beach so it's a great place to watch the sunset. Good seafood!

What to Do:


Wildlife tour - Bungalow Bay offers daily wildlife tours where you get the chance to learn about Australia's animals and get to cuddle a koala (the one I met was called Pebbles, cute). I also learnt that Wombats can kill Dingos with their butts, pretty awesome.

Hire a Topless car - I don't have a drivers license so couldn't do this myself, but you'll see these little cars scattered around the island. They're definitely the quickest and most stylish way to get around the island!

koala tea with gi


Practical Advice:

  • Where the Greyhound coach drops you off, you will find the ferry terminal in Townsville to Magnetic Island. If you buy your ticket online in advance you will save $4. 


AIRLIE BEACH



Where to Stay: Base Backpackers


So Base was my first shared dorm experience on this trip, and what are the chances that after booking into a 6 bed room, I was the only one in it. My first thought was, omg I'm going to spend Christmas Day alone. Luckily I met a lovely bunch of people in the pool area and spent most of my 3 days with them there. The beds were comfy, clean and there were large lockers provided in each room. The room also had an en-suite bathroom, so no long walks to the shower with all your toiletries. If you're looking to make friends on your trip, this is the hostel for you.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️

Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at Cafe One 3 - great coffee and range of breakfast options

Lunch at Bohemian Raw Cafe - I was craving an acai bowl and walked 15 minutes up hill in the heat to get to this place, but it was worth it!

Dinner at Boaty's - this pub belongs to Base backpackers and they offer an $18 meal deal which gets you a meal and an alcoholic drink!

What to Do:

Sail the Whitsundays - the main reason people stop at Airlie is to get the boat to Whitsundays from the port. The most common trip for backpackers is to do a 1 or 2 night tour and you spend most of your time on the boat dancing and drinking. Since I was doing this trip by myself I didn't want to take the risk of being sat in the corner of the boat by myself with a drink and throwing up over the boat. So instead I went for the half day tour to Whitehaven beach and admittedly it was a bit rushed, I could have stayed there for a good 5 hours and we only got 1 and a half on the beach.

Lagoon - from what I heard it isn't really recommended to go swimming in the sea, but Airlie do have a lagoon in the town that's free to go swimming at.

whitehaven beach



Practical Advice:


  • If you're looking to see the iconic Whitsundays 'swirls' of sand and sea then make sure you book on to the full-day tour, as you won't have time to see it on a half-day tour *cries*.


AGNES WATER



Where to Stay: Backpackers at 1770 


For some bizarre reason, I thought it would be ok to arrive in Agnes Water at 6am, head to the beach all day and then get the next bus at 9pm to Hervey Bay. Luckily my brain realised that that would be an awful idea, especially since it was raining during the morning. So I booked a bed for the day and it was great to catch up on sleep and chat with other travellers. There was definitely a very friendly 'hippy' vibe here and everyone was so welcoming. The hostel offered breakfast and dinner for $5 each, cooked by one of the people staying there.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi in reception (500mb per day) ✔️

backpackers at 1770


What to Do:

Surf - the beach at 1770 is pretty good if you want to try your hand at surfing. The hostel I stayed at allowed you to rent a surfboard for $15 which is a pretty good deal.

Skydive - I didn't quite pluck up the courage to do this (or have the money for it) but Agnes Water is a great place to skydive as you'll get views of the Fraser Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. You can get a skydiving deal for $299.

Practical Advice:


  • Agnes Water (1770) is a more chilled out spot. I wouldn't recommend spending more than 1 night here unless you really need to replenish your body and just do nothing for a couple of days.


HERVEY BAY (FRASER ISLAND)



Where to Stay: Flashpackers Hervey Bay


This was the part of the trip I was dreading because my bus got in at 1am, and I was already imagining the difficulty of getting into my bunk bed and doing the sheets in darkness and as silent as I could. I ended up getting to the hostel at 2:30am because the only taxi company in Hervey Bay took an hour and a half to come pick me up, even though I pre-booked it. Anyway, once I got to the hostel everything went smoothly. There was an envelope waiting for me in the postbox with the key and instructions, and even though I got a top bunk I managed. I practically spent no money here as breakfast was free and in the evening one of the staff members informed me they were having a free 'sausage sizzle'.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Breakfast ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️
Free Greyhound pick-up and drop-off ✔️

* I received a complimentary night stay at Flashpacker's for review.

flashpackers hervey bay


What to Do:

Fraser Island - again the main reason people go to Harvey Bay is to access Fraser Island. I was pressed for time so only did a day tour, and whilst most backpackers do a 2 night trip and end up meeting lots of other young folk and drinking. I ended up in a small coach with a family of 10 Slovenians with 6 loud children. I did meet a very friendly elderly couple though who shared a few interesting stories with me. The skies were pretty grey but Lake McKenzie was still beautiful.

lake mckenzie fraser island


Practical Advice:


  • If possible try and plan your trip so your greyhound arrives into Hervey Bay before 11pm. My bus got in at 1am and I was left waiting at the stop in the dark for an hour and a half for my taxi to arrive even though I had pre booked it. The reviews seemed to say they had had similar experiences. Sadly this is the only taxi company in Hervey Bay so you don't have much choice but to wait. 


BYRON BAY 




Where to Stay: Backpackers Inn on the Beach


This was probably the best hostel location wise, as the main beach was literally attached to the back of the hostel. We stayed in a 4 bed shared dorm and the bathrooms and showers were just one door down from us. The hostel is a 5-10 minute walk from all the shops and cafes in Byron and also has its own restaurant, pool area and volleyball court.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️

Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at Safya Cafe -
good coffee, good avocado toast, what else do you need?

Lunch at Orgasmic cafe - I can confirm, their hummus plate with pita bread was orgasmic.

Dinner at Elixiba - as you can expect in Byron, it is filled with vegan and GF cafe options. The whole menu in Elixiba is plant based. Me and my friend shared the coco-mari tacos and the raw enchiladas and they did not disappoint.

elixiba byron

What to Do:

Byron Bay Lighthouse - my dumb self thought we could walk from Byron Bay up to the Lighthouse, which would have probably taken us 2 and a half hours. Luckily one of us drove up and then we walked around the area and down to the edge of the cliffs. It does give some great views of Byron.

byron bay lighthouse


Nimbin - Nimbin is the 'green' capital of Australia, if you get my drift. It's filled with colourful shops, cookies, little boutique stores and a lot of hemp coffee shops. We went with Happy Coach which cost us $55. We had a couple of stops along the way and lunch was included, our guide Princess Fiona was fab and provided all of the happy tunes on the coach tide.

nimbin


Practical Advice:


  • When having cookies, always listen to what the chef recommends. 


SYDNEY 



Where to Stay: Asylum Seekers Backpackers 

When finding somewhere to stay in Sydney for 5 nights, I expected to pay anything starting from $200, even in hostels. After a bit of searching the world wide web, I came across Asylum Hostels and we paid a total of $160 each for 5 nights. The hostel is small and in a heritage building, so you really get a home away from home feeling. The staff are friendly and you get used to seeing the same faces at breakfast every morning. The hostel is on the more peaceful side, and they have 3 dogs on the premises (one being a rescue dog) and they encourage guests to take them for a walk if you want to. The hostel is a 2 minute walk from Kings Cross train station, and Coles and Woolworths are also a stones throw away. The room with a fan got quite hot, so if they have availability in the air conditioned room, go for this!  

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️
Free Breakfast  ✔️

Where to Eat: 

Breakfast at Oracle - we had originally planned to go to Joseph Hyde but ended up here instead. They're both located on a narrow alley way on Llankelly Place so you've got a couple of options there. I had eggs Benedict whilst my friend had the overloaded croissant with scrambled eggs and bacon.

Lunch at Speedos Cafe - make sure to stop here when you're in the Bondi area. Their menu is very instagram-able and it took me a good 10 minutes to decide between the caramelised banana and chia pancakes, the blue bliss bowl and the pitaya chia pot. In the end I went with the latter and it was delicious.

speedos cafe bondi beach


Dinner at Hotel CBD Bar - Australia hasn't got many signature dishes of it's own, but it does pride itself on making a good meat pie. So I opted for the meat pie with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy and it was sooo goood.

What to Do:

Free walking tour of Sydney - whenever I travel to any new city I always check to see if they offer any free walking tours, as they're a great way to get your bearings and learn a bit of history behind the landmarks that you're looking at (and burn off all the extra calories you've been eating). The I'm Free tour takes you from Town Hall all the way to Circular Quay, and our guide Aida made the tour interesting and entertaining. Note the tour is free but you are expected to tip something.

Coogee to Bondi walk - we ended up doing this on the hottest day on our trip, which was great for our tanning and jumping into the water at Bondi. Not so great when you're walking for an hour and a half up and down hills and steps. It was a very pleasant walk and there are a few other nice beaches to stop off along the way, and some will be less crowded than Bondi!

tea with gi bondi


The Rocks markets - on the weekends The Rocks puts on a market full of independent stores and food stalls. Me and Caia got lovely matching necklaces there.

Mrs Macquarie's for best view of Opera House and Sydney Bridge - to get here you walk through the botanical gardens, and when we got there we were sat on a bench looking at the view thinking, wow we're actually in Sydney. If you'd like to get in the photo, they will look very small in the background so just walk round towards the Opera House and you'll get some good, less crowded photo spots.

The Grounds of Alexandria - another instagram spot for you ladies. The cafe here is in a sort of observatory filled with pretty plants and flowers.

Manly - a lot of people say they prefer this beach to Bondi as it tends to be a lot less crowded. You can catch the ferry from Circular Quay and it will cost you around $10.

Visit the free museums - both the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery are free to enter and so are most of the exhibitions. They're also within a 20 minute walk of each other.

tea with gi sydney opera house

Practical Advice:


  • You can use your debit or credit card to tap on and off when using the public transport in Sydney (trains and buses). Just make sure you use the same card throughout the day as after a certain amount it will cap off, so the rest of your trips will be 'free'. I believe the amount is $16 on weekdays and $3 on Sundays. 
  • If you're getting the train to the airport, you can pay half the price by getting the train 1 stop earlier to Mascot, and then take a bus from there to the airport. 

I've also got travel guides for Brisbane, Melbourne and Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast). I also recommend stopping by Noosa, we spent a weekend there and the vibe was great. If you have any questions for any of these places just drop me a message or email! 

G



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[Disclaimer: I received complimentary travel with Greyhound Australia and some of my accommodation was also covered, but my words and opinions are my own.]

HOW TO HOST A FUN AND FESTIVE PARTY THIS MONTH.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

It's no secret that I love a bit of a fiesta, I'm so excited for the day that I have my own house so I can throw dinner parties, cheese and wine nights, 'pub quizzes' and celebrations every weekend. December is definitely the month to be a bit more out going than usual, and of course around the Christmas period there are usually endless amounts of family gatherings and drinking with friends. If you're hosting one this month, here are some fun things to do so that your guests don't make an excuse to leave early.


1. Make a collaborative Christmas playlist. 



Just because it's Christmas, doesn't mean every song on the playlist has to be festive. Make a Spotify playlist that is collaborative so that your guests can add songs they also want to hear throughout the night, that way nobody can complain about the music! 

2. Have some easy games lined up. 



At most gatherings over Christmas we either play Heads Up (a more modern and fun version of charades) on my phone and a card game called 10 Clues that I got as a secret santa present. Which I've played so many times I practically know all the answers already. Depending on the demographic of your party, you could turn things up a notch with my list of festive drinking games.


3. Host a secret santa present swap.



Who doesn't love giving and receiving presents? If you've got a big group of friends the easiest thing to do is just buy one present in the group through secret santa. DrawNames is a great website to randomly assign everyone a person to buy a gift for. Alternatively, you could buy something a bit more generic and on the wrapping paper just write 'this is a gift for someone who loves music/travelling/is always cold'. 

4. Make sure the wine is stocked. 



This box couldn't say it better. No one cares about how clean your house is, they care if you have alcohol. Since your guests might be a bit more sophisticated and not looking to get hammered on vodka redbulls, having a nice selection of wine and cheese will always be a crowd pleaser. If you're too busy planning to leave your house, Good Pair Days is a personalised wine club that sends 3 bottles of wine to your front door every month. Now that's my type of subscription box. They are tailored to your taste and they have a large variety of red, white, rose and champagne from around the globe for you to choose from.  I like a bit of everything, and since it is likely your guests will have different tastes too, something like the Italian Summer Stunners is a good choice. I'm obviously waiting to pop the champagne on New Years Eve.


* I received a complimentary wine box from Good Pair Days but all words and opinions are my own. 

5. Keep the food prep light, for your own sake. 



Hosting parties is fun, spending all day in the kitchen cooking 5 mains, 3 desserts and putting together a cheese board you found on Pinterest is not. Depending on who your crowd is, try and ease the stress by either just putting a couple of grazing platters on the table or even have everyone bring a little something to put on the table. You could even suggest having a 'international christmas party' and have everyone cook or bake something from a different country.

Do you have any party hosting tips of your own? Or is there a signature dish you love to cook or eat at Christmas? 

G




GETTING INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT AWAY FROM HOME.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

This Christmas will be the first one ever that I will be spending it away from my family, and everyone else for that matter. Next week I will be embarking on a solo trip across the east coast of Australia and technically I will be spending Christmas Day, all by myself *queue Celine Dion*.  Well, alongside other backpackers and sailing across the beautiful Whitsundays, so there are worse places to spend Christmas. If like me, you're not going to be spending the holidays with your loved ones or just need that little extra push to get into the holiday spirit, here are some things you can do in the lead up to Christmas.

christmas tea with gi


1. Work your way through the selection of cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix. 



I've never been one for Christmas movies. I've seen Love Actually from start to finish once and find Elf annoying. I did quite enjoy Bad Santa and the Tim Allen Santa Claus movies though. Which is why surprisingly I've quite enjoyed some of the cheesy ones on Netflix, notably the ones featuring Vanessa Hudgens, The Princess Switch and The Knight Before Christmas

2. Buy yourself a gift. 



How many times have you gone into town with the intention of buying a gift for someone else and then ended up keeping it for yourself? guilty. Treating yourself doesn't have to be an expensive outing, it might be going into town and getting your nails done and buying an overpriced christmas drink from Starbucks. Or, you could treat yourself to a hand painted silk lingerie set from Natalie Begg. You don't need to even have anyone in particular to wear it for, but we all know we feel a bit more confident and sexy when we're wearing nice underwear underneath right?

natalie begg


3. Write some heartfelt Christmas cards. 



When it comes to birthdays, I am a boss at birthday cards. I fill it to the brim of fun memories I've had with that person and I know things like that always mean a lot to my friends. If you've got some time on your hands, instead of sending out basic cards with 'merry christmas! love from me' try writing a paragraph in each why you are grateful for that person in your life. 

4. Host your own boozy Christmas party. 



Since I won't be having any work christmas parties this year, I guess the other option is to host my own Christmas party hey? I've even got a blog post dedicated to festive drinking games so if you're hosting one this year, add these to your evening of events. Don't worry they're PG so even your nan can play them.

5. Donate a Christmas present. 



There's no better feeling than doing something for someone else without getting anything in return. A quick Google search will tell you what organisations in your city are set up for receiving donations for less fortunate kids this Christmas. Or even randomly paying for someones coffee behind you in the line, try it as see how good you'll feel inside.


How have you been getting into the festive spirit this year?

G

10 ALTERNATIVE THINGS TO DO IN BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

My 10 months in Brisbane will be shortly coming to an end, and I thought now would be a good time to share with you guys what my favourite activities and ways to spend time in the city have been. Granted, Brisbane hasn't got a lot of things to do and see, but there is no shortage of good places to eat in Brisbane, nightclubs and bars, and alternative things to do with your time whilst you are exploring the city. So here it is, 10 alternative things to do whilst you are in Brisbane.

tea with gi brisbane


1. Kayak down the Brisbane river. 



This is such a great experience and you don't really need any experience to do it. I used to row and somehow I kayaked all the way up the river with my oar upside down, so my arms were definitely aching for the next 3 days! Riverlife offer a range of activities along the Brisbane river and I experienced the 'paddle and dip' one. We saw the sunset over the city which was beautiful, and then after an hour and a half of kayaking the group had some drinks and dips on a marquee by the river. 100% recommend!

* I received this activity on a complimentary basis for review 


tea with gi brisbane

2. Have a sunday session on a YOT. 



Sunday sesh's are a big thing in Australia - because who cares if you're hungover at work on a Monday? The YOT Club host a series of classy boat parties along the Brisbane river during the spring and summer months. I worked at a similar boat (different company) as a VIP waitress and it was so much fun just wish I could have been on the partying side of things!

3. See how much food you can stomach at EatStreet. 



Everytime I come here I say I'm just going to pick one thing. I end up having my meal, plus a sample honey donut, bubble tea and a marshmallow and fruit stick. This place is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays but it's definitely worth a visit. There are over 50 stalls and there's also live music and shows.

tea with gi brisbane

4. Start your night with some crazy golf and cocktails. 



Holey Moley is Brisbane's crazy gold and cocktail bar in Fortitude Valley. So it's a great place to start your night if you want to venture into one of the clubs nearby after! This was actually my first time put put-ing and admittedly, I sucked. Maybe because I was three cocktails in or because my hand eye coordination is just terrible. 

5. Find some second hand gems at a suitcase rummage. 



My only regret is that I didn't sign up for this myself before it sold out, because I have accumulated a lot of stuff that I don't really want to take back home with me! The Suitcase Rummage takes place in Brisbane City the first and third Sunday of every month, and it's exactly what it sounds like. People bring their clothes, shoes, books, jewellery etc that they no longer want, in a suitcase to sell. You'll also find a lot of small businesses too selling their handmade crafts.

6. Go on a pub crawl with other backpackers. 



If you read my other travel guides then you'll be used to this by now as 9/10 times I always add a pub crawl to the list! If you're not a drinker or like socialising with random people then go ahead and move on to number 9. If you are, Base Backpackers put on a Pub crawl every Thursday at 7pm that takes you to several bars and then their own nightclub Downunder Bar (definitely an experience in itself). I actually met one of my best friends here at one of the pub crawls!

tea with gi brisbane

7. Have a very instagramable picnic on Kangaroo point. 



Kangaroo Point has one of the most picturesque views of the city - especially at sunset! There are lot of electric bbq's set up along the area so all you need to do is bring the food and drinks. If you fancy something a bit more special, then Picnic Co set up beautiful picnic spreads for all occasions, and they can be customised depending on your preferences.   


8. Have a swim at Streets Beach. 



To get to a decent beach in Brisbane you'll have to drive for an hour or more to get to Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast. Or you could walk across the bridge from the CBD and go for a swim at Street Beach, Southbank's 'fake beach' complete with sand and a pool. It can get pretty crowded on the weekend so make sure you get there early. It's pretty interesting being on a beach but still seeing all the skyscrapers behind it!

tea with gi brisbane

9. Watch a free comedy show at the Powerhouse. 



To be honest this is something I wish I would have done more of whilst I was here, because I really enjoyed myself. Every Friday the Brisbane Powerhouse put on a free stand up comedy show, and well some of the acts are pretty funny. 

10. Have a tour of Brisbane on an electronic longboard. 



Since you are just visiting, I guess you should go and check out some of the sights hey? If walking is too boring for you, then try exploring the city on an electronic longboard with EskateAU. They offer a River City Tour and a Park Adventure, or you can customise your ride! The group size is pretty small (up to 4) so you get a personal experience too.


Have you ever been to Brisbane? Which one of these activities is most up your street?

G



FASHION FOCUS | MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FEMME LUXE FINERY

Monday, 2 December 2019

[Disclaimer: This post contains gifted items for review but all words and opinions are still mine and honest]

I think when it comes to shopping for clothes there are people who stick to the more traditional methods of you know, going into a shop and trying on clothes and those of us who prefer to shop comfortably from our bed and then end up buying too much and being too lazy to send half of it back. I probably lie somewhere in the middle. If I'm looking for outfits for nights out and festivals that's where I usually turn to the internet. About a month ago Femme Luxe Finery got in touch and kindly let me pick four items from their website, and it did take me a while to narrow down my basket to 4 as I debated which ones I liked best.



First Impressions 



The website is pretty similar to your standard online retailers - I Saw It First, Pretty Little Thing etc. I'd say the pricing lies somewhere between the two, which makes their clothing pretty affordable. There's definitely a Kim K vibe going on with a lot of the clothes so I'd say their target  market is women in their 20s-30s and who have that pear or blessed hourglass figure going on. There were a lot of dresses I loved but I thought I simply don't have the boobs for that. Shipping was surprisingly quick and I had my order in just over a week. 

My Picks



What I like about their collection is that they have quite a lot of mid-length dresses. I do like wearing clothes when I go out out that show off my curves but I'm not a fan of short dresses as I wouldn't say my legs are my best asset. I went with 3 dresses (which gave me an excuse to go out more this month) and a loungewear set which in hindsight, was a silly choice seeing as it's now 30 degrees in Australia but I thought it would be cute to wear to the airport when I was in chiller places.

White Belted Bodycon Midi Dress (£34)

So when I got the email from Femme Luxe funnily enough, I was searching for a nice white dress to wear for a Halloween party the following week. I was dressing up as IT but was also going to a fancy club so did want something on the sexier side, at least clothes wise! Choosing tight white clothing is always risky because there's always the chance of it being see through, or the material creasing up on the back of your thighs. The dress was fine with nude underwear but it did flatten my bum just a little bit. Nevertheless it still looked nice on and I got a fair few compliments! As you can imagine the dress didn't stay white for very long with all my red make-up. 

white belted bodycon femme luxe

Black Crop Loungewear Set (£19) 

Buying joggers online is always tricky for me as I've got big thighs and a small waist, so I usually run into the problem of them looking too tight instead of that loose fitted look. I went for a medium and they were fine on - not too tight but not baggy either. Once I'm back home and in colder weather I'll definitely be wearing this around the house more often. 

black crop top loungewear set femme luxe

Emerald Slinky Ruched Backless Midi Dress (£30)

This is probably my favourite colour when it comes to buying dresses, especially when I have a tan! I think it's so flattering. The trouble with slinky dresses is always the sleeves, since this dress is very low cut on the back all you have to support you is the little elastic that goes around your arms. Mine didn't seem to sit properly and kept falling down leaving a gap on the sides of the dress which made me look bigger from the front. It was very flattering from the back though!



Wine PU Cupped Corset Bodycon Mini Dress (£38)

This was probably my favourite clothing colour when I had wine coloured hair too. I was hesitant about ordering this because yes, the model looked smokin' in it but the material and style looked like you had to have a very particular body shape to pull it off. Luckily for me, the dress wasn't as short or stiff as I thought it would be so I could still move around in it (and breathe) and I didn't run the risk of exposing my bum to everyone on the night. I'll definitely be wearing this again! 

wine cupped corset femme luxe

Would I recommend Femme Luxe Finery to a friend? 

Yes. Their clothing is affordable and they've got great pieces for a night out. I was skeptical at first whether my items would arrive as one does when you hear about a new online clothing website, as there are so many scams out there. 


Have you ever heard of Femme Luxe Finery? Would you wear any of these pieces? 

G



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