Exploring Sydney on foot

The Rocks Market (3)Maps, recommendations, Google… all of these things can help you navigate your way around a city but for me the best way to discover a new city and get your bearings is by walking.  Walking not only provides hands on experience to the lay of the land, but it also lays out the things you want to see and don’t mind missing as gives you a good idea of where you stand on plotting your adventures.  My most recent adventure to Sydney landed us in the city early in the morning with nothing but time before our hotel room was ready.  This also gave the perfect opportunity to get out and explore Sydney.

The Rocks Market (9) The Rocks Market (8) The Rocks Market (7) The Rocks Market (6) The Rocks Market (4)If walking is your means of transportation, making sure it is central is pretty important.  My first stay in Sydney I was in prime location in the Central Business District.  As you may expect for many downtowns throughout the world, arriving early on a weekend morning can be a bit slow.  Sydney, however, is a city made for walking with many of its sites and attractions are located fairly close to one another.  Our hotel was only a block away from the shopping district and a short ten minute walk to major attractions such as the Opera House or Rocks area.  So with a quick review of the map with the concierge and a recommendation on what direction would best serve our curiosities we were off.

The Rocks Market (2)For me walking and vacation are partners in crime.  At home there is always a schedule and a rush and someplace to be, but on vacation none of those expectations exist.  You can go as fast as your feet will carry you and following the gentle breeze of the water we found ourselves at the Rocks.  Walking also gives you a chance to get up close and personal to things that are easily missed when riding in a cab or with public transportation.  We saw shops and restaurants that peaked our interest and finally wound up at The Rocks market.  From cupcakes to fresh juicing options to some great local vendors it was a great lead way into another benefit of walking, meeting the natives.  The residents of a city are the best indicator of what is important to the culture and getting out and talking to people give you a sense of their values, lifestyle, fashion, and even sense of humor.  ApetitoTalking with the vendors we got first hand recommendations on where to go and what to do on a wide range of subjects that we could never have covered on our own.  These recommendations came from the true city experts, the people that live there and have seen all of the highs and lows.  Not to mention we found some great finds at the market that I wore throughout my trip.  All in all spending our first day walking the city prepared me for getting around the rest of my trip and taught me a lot about what makes Sydney such a special place to visit.

 

 

Adventure Time – 5 Musts on a Hawaiian vacation

Paradise Cove us and luau dancersHawaii is renowned as a perfect travel destination and with the wide assortment of things to do once you get there it can be hard to narrow down the activities that give you the best experience at the island.  In my recent family trip to Hawaii I planned on a mix of relaxation and adventure in enjoying the beautiful island.  Here are my recommendations of must’s when visiting the island. Mahalo!

Paddleboarding in HawaiiBeach Day – With some of the beautiful beaches in the world, Hawaii surf and sand begs you to just stop and enjoy.  I am one to love an adventure packed vacation, however, there is something to be said for doing nothing on the beach in Hawaii.  The beach outside of the JW Marriott was a great place to just sit and enjoy the perfect weather, beautiful sands and crystal clear water Hawaii has to offer.  Once you have gotten a chance to chill out you can always pick up the pace with a paddleboard or water hammock if you book a hotel that offers these fun amenities.  In nothing else, naps on the beach are always amazing!

Hawaiian sunsetSunrise or Sunset – There are few moments in nature that offer more clarity as to how magnificent the world and its Creator are than a brilliant sunrise or sunset.  It shows just a glimpse of just how complex the world really is and just how small of a piece we occupy on it.  This perspective is a great way to get put things in order the things that stress you in your own life that seems big, but really may be a small problem in the grand scheme of things.

Waimea Falls Waterfall 3Waterfalls – Part of the joy of vacations is exploring all of the things that we cannot do or see locally.  The waterfalls in Hawaii top my list as it is a great way to get in tune with nature and an essential variation on the fun and the sun that Hawaii is known for.  For some family fun the waterfalls at Waimea Falls Park offers not just an easy hike through a botanical garden to get to the falls, but some great cultural knowledge along the way.  Waimea Falls Waterfall 1The entire trip was breathtaking and jumping into the falls was an exhilarating family moment we will remember forever!
Stop and enjoy the beautiful views – In taking a look at the scenes in Hawaii you can tell that God was flexing his muscles when he made the island.  Waimea Falls Park Creek Hawaii Trip (26)It is not just the winding roads of the north beach with views of the mountains and the beach, but at almost every turn you get an eye full of nature’s beauty. Even off the beaten path in a resident recommendation for a restaurant we found some great views and local fun that really makes a trip personal.  To take it up a notch we visited Kualoa Ranch which takes you deep in the undisturbed terrain of Hawaii that made it a perfect location for movies like Jurassic Park.  At the top of a mountain with an incredible view it’s hard not to miss the peace that nature has to offer.

Luau – Although it has begun to sound like a clique, the luau is not just a great show, but some real insight to the beautiful culture of the Hawaiian people.  Paradise Cove LuauWe were on the fence about going as they can be pricey, but those concerns disappeared once we stepped into Paradise Cove.  The luau was its only adventure and living museum all in one as you got to explore the games, lifestyle, clothing, and food of the Hawaiian people.  All this on top of such a great show and you pay for the luau pretty quickly and walk away happing yelling Mahalo to all you see. Paradise Cove Luau Dancers Paradise Cove Sarong Demo Paradise Cove Painting

 

 

Adventure Time – Segway Tours in Washington DC

Segway Tour in DCAfter taking my best shot at exploring DC walking, it became clear that when you are short on time and high on hopes of seeing a lot of a city you have to make some compromises.  A great way to balance my desire to get a more intimate feel of the city with the need to cover some serious ground was to take a Segway tour of DC.  The Segway’s have always looked like a pretty cool means of transportation to as I see them zoom through the mall and DC seemed like a great place to try one out for myself.

My tour guide promised that Segway’s would be the easiest learning curve possible and true to her word it only takes a good 30 minutes on the Segway to move into feeling like a pro.  That is not to say the first time on a Segway is not a pretty foreign feeling.  In your mind you have made up the right way to ride it and takes a minute to let go of the idea and absorb how it really works.  Once that is set though you can take off on what feels like your own moving walkway.  You get the feel of walking without the work of bike riding so on a hot DC day it gives comfort and the speed that is a must.  The Segway tour then became a great way to check out something new and fun, get a guided tour of the city and check out 4 or 5 monuments in 2 hours, not a bad combo.

For me the surprise for the Segway tour was how much I enjoyed the guided tour of the city.  It is pretty easy to walk around the city and sight see, but getting some more in-depth information on the history of the people and events that define a city really change your perspective on the importance of things you might normally just pass by.  From understanding the differences of the different sides of the White House, to highlighting the details of the Korean War Memorial, even down to appreciating buildings and monuments I had never heard of, I walked off my Segway feeling I mastered a new gadget and got some new light on an old city.  When in DC check out City Segway Tours for a fun way to explore the highlights of DC.