A taste of travel

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Something sweet is always on the menu!

Is there anything better than traveling and tasting the food along the way in different countries? Hmmm, I don’t think there is!

I don’t know about you but I always remember the food I tried somewhere, I would even try and make it on my own when I return home.

Tasting local food and drinks of a destination makes the travel experience complete, especially for a foodie like me.

You have to agree, food and travel is a perfect match!

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Baklava in Sarajevo

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Belgium waffles in Bruges.

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Caramelized nuts in Sweden.

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Fluffy doughnut in New Zealand.

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Cinnamon bun in Gothenburg.

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Fresh local fruit in New Caledonia.

Bon appetit!

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Sun is shining in Noumea

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Want to wake up here and have this view right in front of you? You just need to visit New Caledonia!

As a special collectivity of France in southwest Pacific Ocean this small island is a true piece of Europe in the middle of nowhere.

Hot summers with a sea temperature of around 26 degrees was one of the reasons why we chose this place as our holiday destination.

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Another thing I liked while reading about New Caledonia is that it’s not so crowded as other islands around here. In a way it’s not discovered yet and that’s what made it so attractive.

We flew from Auckland and it took us two and a half hours to get there, how great is that! We landed in Noumea, biggest town on the island. And I have to tell you it’s much bigger than we expected.

It took us around 45 minutes to get to the city centre from the airport. I’m going to give you one advice now – don’t take ‘Arc en ciel’ shuttle bus. There is a public transport which cost 280 XPF. It was Sunday evening when we got there and we had to take that shuttle which cost us 3000 XPF one way per person! More than ten times higher price!! Crazy, but we didn’t have a choice.

Many tourists in New Caledonia spend most or all of their time in Noumea (don’t do that). It is a great place, with beautiful sandy beaches, bars and restaurants along the coast and many places to visit on a day trip.

Duck Island.

A few things to note; New Caledonia is not a cheap place to go to. It depends a lot what kind of traveler you are. In Noumea we stayed in a backpackers and while traveling around the island we were camping so for us the accommodation wasn’t expensive. Interesting thing is that there is only one hostel in Noumea and there’s no camping grounds in the vicinity so our options were limited for the time spent in the city.

The view from our room in the backpackers. Beautiful!

When it is about buying a food, prices in supermarkets surprised me a lot. It’s more expensive than here in New Zealand. It’s almost cheaper to eat in a restaurant than to buy a meal for two in the supermarket. Other options for a quick delicious (cheaper) meal are small shops called Snack. You will see during lunch breaks in Noumea how busy those shops are when everyone rush there to grab a bite.

One thing I like to do when visiting other countries is stopping by at the market. The market in Nouma is open from Tuesday to Friday from 5am to midday. You can buy there delicious local fruit and veggies. It is located beside the marina at Port-Moselle.

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City centre is very busy until early afternoon. Everything close early in Noumea and everyone move from hot sunny streets to the beach. In case you are planning some shopping do it in the morning.

There’s not much going on in the centre in the evening, all the happenings are at the Anse Vata beach. It is the most vibrant part of Noumea and everyone is there.

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Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square)

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City centre Christmas Festival at the Coconut Square.

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Anse Vata beach.

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One of the resorts in Noumea is called Le Meridien and you can walk there from Anse Vata beach. Great thing about the resorts in New Caledonia is that you can use their facilities even though you are not staying there. This resort has a great bar on the beach under the palm trees, perfect to hide from the sun a little bit.

Many day trips are available from Noumea, a lot of them go from Anse Vata. With a taxi boat you can get to the small islands close to town or you can take catamaran to the Amedee Lighthouse. There are only one or two companies which offer this trip to the lighthouse so you need to pay the whole package (from 15000 XPF), you can’t just pay for the boat ride.

We went to the Duck Island, it is just 10 minutes with a taxi boat from Noumea. It is a nice place for a half day trip. People come here to snorkel and gear is available for rent but it’s better to bring your own. There is an underwater trail you can follow to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have in mind that there’s no a lot of shade on the beach.

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Ile aux Canards (Duck Island)

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First three days in New Caledonia went fast and it was time for us to hit the road around the island. More tips in my next post!

Happy traveling!

One of a kind: Larnach Castle

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What a great weekend was that! Summer came pretty late this year to New Zealand so it was nice to finally feel those hot sun’s rays. From Invercargill, where we live at the moment, to Dunedin it takes around two and a half hours so it was a perfect spot for a weekend getaway. There are so many great things to do around this city, but first, in this post I will tell you a little bit about one unique place.

While traveling around Europe visiting castles is a part of every itinerary but here in New Zealand is a completely different story. There’s only one castle and it is located on Otago Peninsula. Larnach castle was built in 1871 and today it showcase the style of Victorian living.

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dsc05686Larnach Castle is privately owned by the Barker family who purchased it as their home in 1967. As it is open to the public conservation project is founded through admission fees. To visit the castle and garden the fee is 31NZD and for the walk around the garden only admission is 15NZD.

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For a coffee or something to eat there’s Ballroom Cafe set in the grounds of the Larnach Castle.

Castle is surrounded by 7 acres of gardens which are Margaret Barker’s personal green heaven. When she and her family moved in it was all overgrown and after a lot of effort this garden is now recognized as a Garden of International Significance.

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A bit different New Zealand

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Time to go further South. As you know we didn’t really have the strict plan for this road trip and that’s what made it even more exciting. We were going day after day and just making stops wherever we wanted. That’s why these two cities somewhere in the middle of the South Island were big surprise for us.

After we left Christchurch the road took us straight to Timaru, city in the South Canterbury Region. Timaru was built of volcanic rock on the hills created from the lava flows from the Mt Horrible volcano which erupted thousands of years ago. Buildings in the Victorian style definitely give this city a special vibe and a lot of small cafes in the main street are just a perfect spot to enjoy the atmosphere… It was late afternoon when we got there so there’s wasn’t a lot people on the street, it looked a bit deserted but still charming.

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Before we started this road trip my decision was to drive only during the day because I didn’t want to miss anything on our way. So after Timaru we entered the Otago Region and decided to stay for the night in the next town called Oamaru. We didn’t know anything about this place and that’s why it was a huge surprise. Oamru is a different New Zealand. In the last year and a half we’ve been all around the country and this town is definitely special. While we were walking along the streets named by the rivers in England for a moment it felt like we were somewhere over there, somewhere in Europe.

Public buildings here are made of the local limestone known as Omaru stone. Most of them were built from 1865 – 1885. That carved stone in Neo Classical style looks really beautiful and unique. It was so nice to see how everyone here embraced the Victorian theme so all the galleries, arts and crafts shops and cafes are decorated in that style.

One more thing need to be mentiond about this amazing town. Except the awesome architecture that will take you back in time the reason why every year more than 75 000 tourists are coming here is a colony of the little blue penguins. These cute creatures live in the harbour, so when you will be passing by, stop to say hallo.

One more time I have proved to myself that traveling without the strict plan is the best way of traveling. It always brings unexpected moments, right? This time we accidentally met a bit different New Zealand, how great is that?

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