Cinque Terre, Italy


We found it easy to get to Cinque Terre for a day trip from Portofino. After a quick 10 minute bus ride to Santa Margherita Liguria, it was only an hour by train to get to Monterosso. Monterosso is the largest of the five coastal villages collectively known as Cinque Terre. Upon arrival, we enjoyed a scenic walk along the only sand beach in Cinque Terre with its orange and green umbrellas before starting the hike to Vernazza.




We purchased a family Cinque Terre Card just at the entrance to the hike between Monterosso and Vernazza, which was classified as ‘medium’ level in difficulty. Good shoes are recommended given the terrain can be quite steep and narrow at certain points. Those taking this path will be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Vernazza, which is probably the most ‘iconic’ of the Cinque Terre and is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.










The streets were packed with visitors – all enjoying the beautiful town and the fantastic food. We grabbed some supplies from the local deli before it closed for the daily riposo and enjoyed a picnic of freshly sliced salami, ham, mozarella, vine ripened tomatoes and cheese before a refreshing swim with the locals in the harbour.

As we were only visiting for the day, we decided to take a train to Corniglia, which is the only town without access to the sea before moving onto Manarola which was built high on rocks 70 metres above sea level. We found Manarola to be incredibly charming but with no real beach, we especially enjoyed jumping off the many rocks, near the boat ramp.




After an afternoon rock jumping with the kids, we decided to take a ferry to Riomaggiore and then ferry hopped back to Monterosso. We found the ferry a beautiful and relaxing way to enjoy Cinque Terre with the kids – tickets can be purchased in each town (except for Corniglia) with costs dependent on how far you want to go. The ferry schedule, was pretty flexible.



Portofino, Italy


We stayed in Portofino on the Italian Riviera, known for its picturesque harbour and during our stay enjoyed exploring the harbour, admiring the many beautiful boutiques and luxury stores as well as enjoying the restaurants in Portofino. One of the main cultural attractions in Portofino is the Castello Brown, a fortress built in the 16th century with incredible views of Portofino and the Ligurian Sea.

If you have the time, it’s also worth visiting the neighboring resort destinations like Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli.










Room With a View – Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Cambodia

Park Hyatt Siem Reap Lobby

When we visited Cambodia, we stayed at the Hotel de la Paix, one of Siem Reap’s classic hotels. Since our visit, the hotel has been renovated and is now called the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. The central courtyard swimming pool and water garden, is still the focal point of the hotel and we were fortunate to stay in a room that had a private entrance and stairway into the pool.

We found the easiest way to get to Angkor Wat and the other temples was to arrange for a local tuk tuk driver to take us there. We made arrangements directly with our tuk tuk driver who spoke a little English to transport us around for our entire stay. It was a lot easier to get around all the different temples, knowing our driver would be waiting for us each morning at the entrance of the hotel.








Ta Prohm, Cambodia


Ta Prohm is the modern name of the temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara. Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university.

We found the combination of trees growing out of the ruins nestled amongst the jungle and the Buddhist monks visiting made for an incredible atmospheric and photogenic visit of one of the most popular Angkor temples. UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992.

The conservation and restoration of Ta Prohm is a partnership project of the Archaeological Survey of India and the APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap)



















Angkor Wat, Cambodia


Angkor Wat was first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum.

Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture.

The modern name, Angkor Wat, means “Temple City” or “City of Temples” in Khmer; Angkor, meaning “city” or “capital city”, and Wat is the Khmer word for “temple grounds”.



















Walking in the Blue Mountains – Wentworth Falls, Sydney

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls is a historic town in the Blue Mountains, about 1.5 hours by car from Sydney. It is a good one-day trip to experience and see Australia’s unique bushland with a number of well-maintained bushland paths and tracks suitable for walking, climbing, abseiling, canyoning and hiking.

The photos taken from this day trip, were from the National Pass trail a medium grade bush walk that can take up to 3 hours. It is very popular so it’s best to go early to beat the crowds and heat and enjoy the spectacular views. The highlight of this pass, is the gorgeous Wentworth Falls – make sure to pack a picnic lunch, plenty of water, snacks, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. It’s probably a good idea to bring a light long sleeve shirt or top as it can be quite cool beneath the tree top but incredibly hot when above!






Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

The Grounds by the Sea, Sydney


The Grounds of Alexandria have set up a pop-up restaurant to cater to the crowds visiting Sculpture by the Sea. Plenty of breakfast and lunch options, all set in a beach shack location with a little sandpit for the kids. The decor and ambiance is amazing! Located in Marks Park, which has some the best views between Bondi and Tamarama it’s opened from 7am to 7pm throughout Sculpture by the Sea, which runs from October 23 to November 9. We think they should stay for the summer!






We enjoyed a fantastic pain au chocolat, acai super bowl with fresh banana, strawberries, blueberries, granola and coconut as well as a ‘high-tide mango mulch’ and ‘berried at sea’ smoothie. The chunks of fresh fruit served with the smoothies were a nice touch. We didn’t try the burgers or grilled cheese but both looked delicious.




Sculpture by the Sea 2014, Sydney


Every year, the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk is transformed into a 2km long temporary sculpture park called ‘Sculpture By The Sea‘ which features over 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world. Below are just a few of the featured artists in this year’s exhibition. If you’re in Sydney, it’s definitely worth a visit. Sculpture By The Sea is open from 23 October to 9 November 2014.

This year, the 2014 Macquarie Group Sculpture Prize was awarded to Peter Lundberg (USA), for his work ‘ring (2013)‘ – see below.


‘Sea Anemone’ by Rebecca Rose.


‘Evidence Based Research’ by Julie Collins and Derek John


‘Permanent Sunrise’ by Alejandro Propato


‘we’ by Andrew Hankin


‘Coastal Totem’ by Carter Williamson Architects


‘The Figure in the Landscape’ by John Petrie


‘House of Mirrors’ by NEON


‘Stone Baskets’ by Greger Ståhlgren


‘The Last Resort’ by Frank Veldze & Suzanne Donisthorpe


‘The Folly’ by Stephen King


‘My House is Your Home’ by Ken Unsworth


‘Overconsumption’ by Kerrie Argent


Details of the many bottle caps that were collected and used in ‘Overconsumption’


‘The Boot Pool’ by Ian Smith


‘Look Who’ by Janaki Lele


‘Morning Star’ by Ayako Saito


‘Dark Night Shine’ by Takahiro Hirata


‘To Take Care Of’ by Hannah Streefkerk


‘The Chase’ by Elaine Sykes-Smith


‘Tidal Pools’ by Elaine Miles


Permanent Sunrise with the lifesavers in the background.


Bon Weekend – Jervis Bay, South Coast NSW


Jervis Bay’s famous white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters are amongst the most beautiful in the world. The many bay and ocean beaches, lagoons, secret coves and hidden creeks are perfect for swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing, standup paddle boarding and surfing and the coastal, marine and hinterland National Parks offer fantastic bushwalking, cycling tracks, Indigenous culture, camping spots, cliff-top lookouts and maritime heritage.

Jervis Bay is central to all the South Coast has to offer and country villages like Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Ulladulla offer a great range of local produce markets, boutique shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, pubs and wine bars.

Shopping in New Delhi and Jaipur


Visiting India for the first time, I found shopping in New Delhi and Jaipur to be initially quite overwhelming, especially with the heat, noise, different smells and the volume of people generally in the streets. You can easily get lost in the many markets in both cities and the quality varied. After a few days acclimatizing to the surrounds I discovered a few hidden gems that I’ve listed below!

New Delhi

I visited the Khan Market, which is a good place to start when you’re not used to the hustle and bustle of the New Delhi markets. It’s located in South New Delhi, near the India Gate and was just round the corner from the Taj Mahal Hotel where we were staying. With the ex-pat market in mind, Khan Market is open daily, except for Sundays and offers a range of beautiful clothes and home ware boutiques (with fixed prices), bookshops, restaurants and Ayurvedic food and cosmetics. Some of my favourite boutiques there were Anokhi (boho style that would look great in the South of France, Palm Beach or in Bondi), which featured women and children’s clothes as well as soft furnishing like blankets for the home – all export quality and beautifully made. Fab India was also a great find – a little less bohemian than Anokhi there were some great kurtas, light weight pants and skirts for men, women and children. For jewellery there was Amrapali, an incredible chic boutique with the most exquisite pieces with prices to match!


If you’re feeling adventurous check out Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi for fabrics, jewellery, handicrafts and street food. The lanes of Chandni Chowk are divided into bazaars with different specialties.

Connaught Place is also worth a visit for saris, silver jewellery, pashmina and Kashmiri shawls.

We also visited Hauz Khas Village a tiny surburb in New Delhi which is often compared to NYC’s SoHo or Greenwich village. There are some beautiful clothing and jewellery boutiques to be found as well as some beautiful antique and interior design stores if you’re looking to find something for your home! There were some gorgeous restaurants and cafes there as well.


I loved shopping in Jaipur which is well known for its textiles, colourful stone jewellery, pottery and brass work and came back home loaded with some great finds! Some of my favourite discoveries, that I intend to visit again on our next trip back to India include:

Hot Pink India was established by Marie-Hélène de Taillac, a well known French jewellery designer in partnership with the family that runs Gem Palace. There are two locations – the original shop is located in the beautiful grounds of Narain Niwas Palace, Narain Singh Road and is open daily from 10 am – 7:30 pm. The second location is located within the Amer Fort and is a beautiful, cool oasis from the intense heat. Both locations carry a wide selection of clothes, bags, accessories and scarves from local designers from Jaipur like Manish Aurora and Rajesh Singh. We bought some beautiful white cotton shirts for Landry and I picked up an intricately woven belt, block print scarf and dip tied handbag.

Gem Palace is an institution with two locations in Jaipur. The main store is located on MI Road with a smaller boutique to be found within the Rambagh Palace. The quality of workmanship and the variety of stones, metals and styles is undisputed. Starting prices are surprisingly quite reasonable i.e. less than $50 for a simple pair of silver earrings. If you can’t find something you like, you can pick your own stone and design, which is what I did! I left with the most incredible green amethyst solitaire, large quartz drop earrings and two necklaces made from gold/peridot and gold/quartz. The service is impeccable and definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for something a bit special.


Amrapali has 3 locations in Jaipur – along MI Road, in the Rambagh Palace as well as in the Palace Atelier of the Museum City Palace. The pieces are exquisite.

Nayika was super hard to find and our driver had a hard time locating it on MI Road. If you are up for discovering a hidden gem, this little boutique is located at the back of a driveway in a small courtyard behind Tholia’s Khuber, which sells antique silver jewellery. Open from Monday to Saturday, 10:30 am – 7:30 pm you’ll find a beautiful range of unexpectedly chic quilted silk jackets, tops and skirts. You won’t be disappointed.

Anokhi is now a household name in India for their exquisite Jaipuri garments. The Anokhi store in Jaipur, on Prithiviraj Road, is enormous and located on the 2nd floor of a very unassuming office building. It carries a wide range of clothes for women and children, table and bed linen, as well as accessories. The adjoining vegetarian café is a welcome respite from all the spicy food we’d been eating and a great place to enjoy a quick cheap meal.

Anokhi also has a museum near the Amer Fort dedicated to hand-printing and Jaipur’s rich garment-making tradition. It’s a bit difficult to find, but when you do find it, it is worth a visit. If you book early enough, you can learnt to carve your own woodblock for printing and for children, there is an opportunity to decorate their own t-shirt or scarf from a variety of woodblocks and paints.

Soma, also has quality clothes, fabrics, linen and accessories.

Rasa is definitely worth visiting – located behind the Raj Mandir Cinema, adjacent to Cafe Kala Pani, this little boutique is open weekdays 10:30am to 7:30pm and on Sundays 11am to 5pm. The store carries a wide range of beautiful contemporary wood block blankets, sheets, cushions as well as bathrobes and tops. The workmanship is exquisite and I ended up purchasing a quilted reversible blanket with silver block print blossoms, navy blue with silver block print blossom cushions and a beautiful bathrobe.


I also found the boutiques in the top hotels in each city to have a beautifully curated collection of local handicrafts of a superior quality to those found in the markets. It was sometimes worth buying from the hotel boutiques for the quality and not having to haggle for small gifts.



City Palace Udaipur

City Palace Udaipur lake view

City Palace, Udaipur, is a palace complex in Udaipur, in the Indian state Rajasthan, built over a period of nearly 400 years by several kings of the dynasty. It is located on the east bank of the Lake Pichola and has several palaces built within its complex. Udaipur was the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar.

The City Palace in Udaipur was built in a flamboyant style and is considered the largest of its type in Rajasthan, a fusion of the Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles, and was built on a hill top that gives a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding, including several historic monuments such as the Lake Palace in Lake Pichola, the Jag Mandir on another island in the lake, the Jagdish Temple close to the palace, the Monsoon Palace on top of an overlooking hillock nearby and the Neemach Mata temple. These structures are linked to the filming of the James Bond movie Octopussy, which features the Lake Palace and the Monsoon Palace.

The City Palace is opened from 9AM to 5PM daily and the entry fee is Rs 115 for foreigners.





City Palace architecture

City  Palace Udaipur details

City Palace Udaipur birdcages

< City Palace Udaipur view


Inside the City Palace Udaipur

City Palace poolside

City Palace Udaipur poolside tree


City Palace decorations

City Palace Flower Decorations

City Palace Udaipur artisan work

City Palace fresco 1

City Palace Fresco 2

City Palace Fresco 3

City Palace Udaipur sunset

Room With A View at the Lake Palace Udaipur


Legend has it that the young prince Maharana Jagat Singh II indulged in moonlight picnics with the ladies of the Zenana on the lake island palace of Jag Mandir until his father found out. With that option closed to him, he built his own palace on a different island in Lake Pichola. Begun in 1743 and inaugurated in 1746, the new palace was named Jag Niwas. What may have begun as a prince’s rebellious gesture was turned into one of the most romantic hotels in the world by Maharana Bhagwat Singhji in 1963. The palace’s decadent reputation was cemented when the James Bond film Octopussy was filmed on the premises.

Our stay at the Lake Palace was incredible. From the time we arrived by car, after a 5 hour drive from Jaipur we were treated with the most wonderful hospitality by the staff of the Lake Palace. We waited under beautiful archways for the boatman who would take us across the lake where we were greeted with a shower of rose petals as we entered the lobby of the hotel. After check-in, we were then accompanied to our room walking by the lotus pond made famous by the James Bond film, Octopussy. It truly is even more spectacular in real life.

There are 4 restaurants at the Lake Palace. We took a buffet breakfast in Jharokha with views of the lake and City Palace and tried Bhairo situated on the rooftop of the Lake Palace we watched the sunset while enjoying the beautiful contemporary cuisine. The Amrit Sagar restaurant is a more casual dining experience which offers high tea and Neel Kamal offered elegant traditional indian cuisine from the region.


lake palace udaipur lotus pond

lake palace udaipur lotus pond





Lake Palace water ponds










Lake Palace Udaipur archway