Rottnest Island Adventures

Last weekend I was invited to join some friends on a Rottnest Island Adventure.

Rottnest Island is a little island before the coast of Perth and a popular tourist destination, especially for day tourists. A ferry goes daily from Perth to the island. On the island there are no cars allowed except for the bay seeker bus that runs around the island to drop off or pick up passengers at the designated stops.

The island got its name because of the quokkas. They look like little happy kangaroos and are scattered over the island. But when the Dutch explorers discovered this island in the 17th century they mistook them for big rats and called the island a true rat nest. The quokkas  can only be found on the island and managed to survive all this time because they don’t have any predators lingering around.

An other animal I encountered was a dugite. This pretty venomous snake was just chilling along the beach when I passed it. It was my first snake encounter since I got here in Australia.

A popular thing to do in Rottnest Island is doing a bike tour around the island. It offers a handful of great stops along the way. Since I visited the island on a weekday and it wasn’t high season yet I sometimes was riding my bike with not a single soul in sight. It felt like I was the last man on earth especially after 3.30 PM when all the day tourists were on their way back to Perth on the last ferry. Please also note that most of the tours that are offered on the island along the trail will end around 2.30 – 3 PM (like the lighthouse tour) in case you stay the night on the island.

Cape Vlamingh is the furthest point you can go on the island and the views won’t disappoint you.

Rotto (how the Aussies call Rottnest Island) is surrounded with heaps of white sandy beaches and coral blue water, a true paradise for snorkelers and a perfect romantic getaway.

 

 

Fifty Days of Summer Part 1 : Wedding in Vancouver

Ever since I left for the Great North American Adventure last July I haven’t been able or trying to give you an update on my travels due to computer problems and time limitations. I have made tons of scribbles though that will never make it to this blog but some others will do.

And I will post those in the next few weeks.

Let’s rewind to the end of July when I shut the door behind me at 5 AM direction Paris Charles de Gaulle where I would take a flight to Vancouver.

All went pretty smooth. One travel tip ! If you fly Westjet and arrive with the train make sure to calculate enough time to walk all the way from the train station to the gate of your plane. At some point it felt like I would end up in the Paris Orly airport.

Westjet brought me all the way to Vancouver in one go.

The Wedding Days

The first few days were all about the wedding of two of my friends who live in Vancouver. He, a military guy from Vancouver. She, a young woman with a degree in psychology from Belgium. They met in a local bar in my hometown, Ieper and where both instantly smitten about each other.

They met up soon after and their love for each other has been growing ever since. Not much later she decided to leave her life behind in Belgium and follow her heart in Vancouver. The rest is history and on July 25th they sealed their lovely deal.

True story.

The wedding held place in a military base in downtown Vancouver, a great location for an unforgetable wedding.

El Matador State Beach

This secluded piece of paradise is your perfect getaway from the crowded LA beaches although this place is getting more and more attention. And I can’t blame you for wanting to bring this place a visit.

If you can, come early to make sure you have a parking spot in the limited parking area. The parking lot opens at 8 AM and closes at sunset. There is also a parking fee ($ 8.00 USD)  to pay (and you better pay it because the cops are making several stops here during the day). You can pay with card or cash at the parking meter.

Make sure to bring some food and beverages to the beach to enjoy a full day in the sun. To get access to the beach you have to descend some stairs before you set foot in the sandy beach.

El Matador State Beach with its beautiful caves and large rocks in the water is the perfect spot for a romantic date or a great place to snap some sunset pictures.

So make sure you don’t miss this gem on your drive along Highway 101

Life Lessons in Budapest

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.

Back in 2012 I was working and living in Los Angeles for a year. During that year I lived together with three Germans and Barbara, a Hungarian sweetheart that always told me these great stories about her hometown Budapest.

Once I returned home to Belgium it didn’t take me long until I decided to bring her a visit and have visited her three times so far. Flights with Ryanair or Wizzair from Brussels South to Budapest are luckily pretty affordable.

The first time I visited I quickly realised Barbara wasn’t lying about the capital of the land of pálinka. After three visits I can say I had a fair share of pàlinka, great nights (which I sometimes barely remember) and got to know some of the most kind of people of Europe.

Yesterday, a 93-year-old lady grabbed my arm on the bus and asked me ‘English ?’ because she heard me talking to Barbara. She told us her story about her life in England and revealed us the true secret to a long life :  Don’t worry too much about it all, that’s how you get old. 

Basically, Budapest is divided into two major parts : Buda, the historical and royal part. And Pest, the more lively part with its numerous restaurants and bars. And you got a big ass river running right through it, the Danube and a handful of bridges holding the city together.

In Buda you will most likely make some time for the typical highlights of this city like the Buda Castle with its Fisherman’s Bastion, the Citadel and newly renovated Castle Garden Bazaar. Great place to wander at night with your lovebird. But, Buda is way more than that !

If you want to escape the busy streets for a bit you can seek some rest in Normafa and enjoy some delicious strudels and walk to the Eszsebet kilato to have a great view over the city. After that you can take a skilift at Jànos-hegy back to the city.

Another great place to enjoy your visit is Római part where you can unwind along the shore overlooking the Danube.

And don’t forget to stop at the Batthyány tér to take some photos of the Parliament to immortalize your memories of your visit to Budapest.

You can cross from Buda to Pest over the famous Chain Bridge, the oldest bridge in Budapest that suspends over the Danube.

In Pest you can visit Heroes’ Square before you get some drinks in the neighbourhood.

The first and most famous place to get drinks is Szimpla Kert, the oldest ruin pub in the city with a very cool interior.

Some other personal favourites are Fröccsterasz (open air bar), Vak éger (underground club), iSkola (for those who like to dance), the 360 bar (rooftop bar) and many more…

Got a couple extra days ? Then you should definitely plan a visit to Szentendre (a little village along the Danube) or to Balaton Lake.

Also, from Budapest you can take the train to Vienna for only 30 euro (return ticket) – The perfect way to combine two great cities in one vacation.