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Posts from May 2014

"I think Australia has to be a country which has the 'Welcome' sign out."~ Paul Keating

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While visiting Bali, Indonesia last spring I decided to travel to Australia for a week.  I really wanted to go to Sri Lanka instead, but I chose to go to Australia only to cross off one of my bucket list items of making it to all seven continents.  I wasn't really that excited about visiting Australia and wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did.  I thought it would be very similar to the United States.  I asked a friend of mine which area I should visit and she helped me decide on the Melbourne area. 

Stayed at the Radisson Hotel right across from Flagstaff Gardens :

My welcome platter:

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View from my room:

Aaaauuuuusss1There was a nice rooftop terrace for viewing the city at night which I thought was spectacular.  Of course, I had no tripod :(

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 I loved the colorful beach huts I saw while visiting Brighton Beach:

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I visited Healesville to see the vineyards and wildlife sanctuary:

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 The third photo down is a platypus, the fourth photo is a dingo, and there are two photos of a Tasmanian Devil:

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Aaaauuuuusss1These penguins are very large!  They are called Gentoo Penguins:

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  The city was absolutely beautiful!   I was amazed at how clean and well-kept Melbourne is.  I was also pleasantly surprised at how polite, well mannered and friendly most people are there.  I am usually really against taking public transportation, but while there I did take public transportation to see the beach huts in Brighton Beach.   Everyone was so helpful, and being on their subway was such a different experience than any other subway I've ever been on.  It was so clean, comfortable, and spacious!

Here is a quote about Australia by the writer Jackie Collins:

I have visited Australia several times, and I always try to make a point of going to Melbourne because it's almost my favorite city there, Melbourne and Sydney. But I shouldn't say that because I haven't been everywhere-and I'm very fond of Perth too! ~ Jackie Collins

 I really enjoyed my time visiting Australia.  I wished that I had more time there and look forward to returning.   Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I wasn't expecting very much.  Perhaps it was because I was pleasantly surprised at how different it was than the United States.  I spent two entire days walking around the city amazed at how beautiful the buildings are.  I loved taking photos of them.  The architecture is different than any I've ever seen.  The buildings don't seem very old, as a matter of fact they have a modern look to them, but they are very beautiful with a lot of character.

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Have you ever visited Australia?  If so, what area?  I really can not wait to go back and see more of this amazing country!

 Thanks so much for your visit.  Please leave me any questions or comments below.   I'm on my way to Alaska this week, but will post about it as soon as I can!

~ Michelle


Why I'm Glad I Visited Bali and Why I Won't Return

I wanted to add something to this post because it is getting quite a bit of attention.  I don't want to make Bali sound like a bad place to visit.  I simply had a bad experience there.  I am a huge animal lover and have a special place in my heart for cats.  When you read this story you will see that on the last day I was there I tried to save a young very sweet, pregnant cat.  I was traumatized by the experience and that is why I wrote what I did.

 

I made two very big mistakes when I visited Bali.  I had very high expectations and I stayed too long.  For some ridiculous reason I envisioned Bali being similar to Thailand.  Why???  I'm not sure.  I guess because they are in the same continent - Asia.  I loved everything about Thailand and I was hoping that I would feel the same way about Indonesia. 

There are many pros to visiting the so-called island of paradise in  Indonesia.  There are many things to do, many beautiful sites to see, and the activities are not terribly expensive.  I got some really beautiful photographs while there.  The trouble is I don't care to look at them at this point.

Some of the cons are that Bali is a tiny overpopulated island and there is a lot of poverty.  There were many times that I felt as though I were being scammed.   It actually started when I got to the airport and I was asked if I wanted VIP access to getting my visa on arrival which meant jumping ahead of 10 people and saving five minutes.  That cost me about $20 USD.  I then was asked by one of the police officers if I was there because of "troubles at home" - that made me uncomfortable.  I guess the last straw was the ordeal that I went through with a young pregnant cat that I fed  during my final few days there. I did everything I could to help the cat including having a vet visit the hotel and fed her sugar water in my hotel room.  When I ended up needing to catch my flight, I really couldn't get anybody to help the cat.  I called a couple of days later and she had passed away. 

Here is the post with the story about the cat I tried to save :'(

“Knowing it and seeing it are two different things.” ― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

There are some nice beaches:

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At the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Indonesia:

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  Bali000There are so many beautiful Temples in Bali:

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Visiting the waterfall near Ubud was fun:

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you can go to the rice terraced fields in Ubud:
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You can go dolphin watching in Lovina :
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it is relatively inexpensive to stay in a nice hotel.  This hotel is called "The Mansion" and is in Ubud:
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 During my trip to Bali I stayed there for two weeks went on to Melbourne, Australia stayed there for one week and considered buying a one-way ticket back to the United States I tried to justify going back early and buying an extra plane ticket by telling myself I would save money on a hotel in Bali the visa on arrival in the exit tax which totals $50 I wish I had done it now because trying to save the cat was very traumatic to me as an animal lover if I were to give advice to someone who is planning a vacation in Bali I would tell them to stay with their tour group to make sure they don't go too far off the beaten path and beware of scammers.

I will leave you with a hopefully "feel good" video about how to open a coconut:

 

Have you ever "outstayed" your welcome so to speak or been incredibly disillusioned by a vacation?   Thanks so much for visiting!  Until next time

~Michelle

 

 


The Awakening of the Shangri-La Healing Spa in Bonita Springs, Florida

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While visiting my father in Fort Myers Florida, we decided to visit the highly anticipated opening of the Shangri-La Hotel and spa in Bonita Springs.  Residents in the area have been anxiously awaiting the reopening of this hotel and spa that has a long history. 

The cost is only$10 to enter which includes coffee, tea, and snacks.   There is a video when you arrive on the history of the hotel. I learned that many celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor have spent time there. 

I really enjoyed taking photos of the grounds which are beautiful and very well kept.  The older style architecture of the hotel is something one doesn't don't often see here in Florida where most of the buildings are new.

I was happy to see that they offer Yoga classes, Reiki classes and drum circles.  The Shangri-La is also available for special events such as weddings there is hope that this hotel will fully reopen as a 5 star hotel and resort for those who want a healthy vacation including exercise, meditation and organic food.

    Information on the Shangri-la Healing Waters is available at www.shangrilasprings.com or  http://shangrilaretreat.com/

 I really enjoyed my tour and taking photos of the grounds.  Here is a photo of a very large and rare Banyon tree: Banyan-tree-326130_640    Here is the entrance to the property

417 (1 of 1)There is beautiful art throughout the property.

417 (1 of 1)-5 Anoutdoor dining area near the beautiful Banyon tree

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 The grounds are gorgeous and very well kept.  I loved taking photos there.

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Here is the best photo I could get of the entire BIG building.  Where is my wide angled lens when I need it?

Furn (1 of 1)Furn (1 of 1)-2 Banyan-tree-326777_640  There are "monkeys" playing in the Banyon tree :)

  Here is the pool area:417 (1 of 1)-4

Furn (1 of 1)-6One of the beautiful hotel rooms that I would not mind staying in one day!

417 (1 of 1)-15Loved this door!

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417 (1 of 1)-14The gardens are Gorgeous!

Furn (1 of 1)  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the resident cat!417 (1 of 1)-5

417 (1 of 1)-4Thanks so much for visiting!  Until next time.

~Michelle


"You may have the universe if I may have Italy." Giuseppe Verdi

 I have a travel charm bracelet that was a Christmas gift.  I collect a special charm on each of my trips to represent the area I visited.  This works out well for me because my luggage tends to be overweight, I never have a lot of extra space in my suitcase to bring things home. 

During my trip to Italy I decided to get two charms. The first one is a paintbrush and pallet to represent the beautiful art I saw almost everywhere in Florence.  The second one is a dome that is inspired by one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen called the Piazza del Duomond are a major attraction to tourists visiting the region of Tuscany. The Duomo is one of Italy's largest churches and the largest brick dome ever constructed.

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KiwibThe above is a kiwi bird from New Zealand - it's not recognizable in the top photo :)

The Duomo is so large, it was impossible for me to capture it all in one photo even with my wide angle lens.

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I loved the carousel right outside the Duomo!

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 Here are several scenes outside and inside the Uffizi Gallery.  I took the photos inside BEFORE I knew photos are not allowed at all :(.  I did not take photos of Michalangelo's fabulous sculpture of David at Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze... even though I saw others sneaking in a shot or two.

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I will leave you with three photos of the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge which I never tired of looking at or photographing at any time of the day.

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Do you have any collections or souvenirs that you look for while you're traveling?  If so, what inspired you to collect these things?  

Thanks so much for visiting!   Until next time.

~Michelle

 


"No matter where I've been overseas, the food stinks, except in Italy" ~ Carmen Electra

 I have to agree with Carmen Electra.  I would almost say that it's worth visiting Italy just to sample the food :)!

I decided to break my posts on Florence into a few separate postings.  It seems everyone likes to hear about and see photos of food so I decided to write an entire post on it.  People joke that Italians would be a lot larger than they are if they had places like McDonald's and Burger King in their country which they don't.  As you can see they have plenty of other irresistable temptations! 

  Florence was everything I hoped it would be!  Every day when I walked outside my mouth just fell open with the beauty I saw everywhere.  It's not a very large city - there are a lot of tourists, but it's very clean and it felt very safe.  Everyone was friendly overall. 

I am not a breakfast eater but every morning I got up at six and couldn't wait for the breakfast room to open at seven. I really loved my hotel!  The hotel I stayed at, the hotel Berchielli, is pictured at the very end of this post. The location could not of been better and the service was excellent.  I would definitely stay there again. 

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I didn't even give them my name and they brought me my personalized cappuccino on my first day at the Hotel Berchielli.  They always had some cute little design on my coffee.

Fl (1 of 1)-57 Fl (1 of 1)-12It seems like there are gelato shops on almost every street corner.  Fortunately, I waited until my last day to try this amazing dessert.  If I had not waited until the last day, I probably would've stopped by one of these shops everyday.

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Fl (1 of 1)-16I Can NOT believe I didn't give into the flourless cake which is ONE of my many huge weaknesses.
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Fl1 (3 of 206)They do have lots of healthy food too - if you can resist all of the temptations :)
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Thank you so much for stopping by.  Until next time.

~Michelle

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