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Travel stories, inspiration, news and musing

We are the dreamers, the seekers, the travellers, the adventurers, the optimists. It's nice to meet you! There are lots of us with the same DNA - we look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Filtering by Tag: England

Europe - it's summer and I'm coming!

Elissa Webster

Forget about getting your breath back from Aimee's trip to Hawaii - we are high-fiving at the airport as I (Elissa) head to Europe today! YEEEEW!

Did I mention I'm taking my husband Matt and our three kids with me?? I'm not the only one who's excited!

Did I mention I'm taking my husband Matt and our three kids with me?? I'm not the only one who's excited!

What's not to love about Europe?! (Apart from the really long plane trip to get there, a history of subjugation of far-flung colonies and icy, dark winters - let it not be said that I am not a realist!) There are hundreds of things I love about the continent that gave birth to Western culture but here are my top five...

  1. Long summer days. Being a Queenslander (even in summer, the sun sets by 6.30pm), the novelty of the sun going down after 9pm leaves me giddy as a school girl. There's nothing quite like a cider under an apple tree in broad daylight at 8pm. I feel like I'm getting maximum value for day - and on holidays, getting the most from each day is even better!
  2. Artisan culture. I love being able to meet the person who made this particular wheel of cheese and that special vintage of wine. And I love that in this part of the world, it's not a big deal - it's just the way it should be. Every French town has their own speciality but everyone does a pretty great local version of staple goodies. Why would you import them from miles away when you can make it yourself?
  3. Embedded history. There's nowhere quite like Europe for incorporating centuries-old remains into the streetscape. That fountain you're leaning on has probably been here since 1530. There probably isn't even a sign, because there is heaps of that stuff around here. And why wouldn't you be allowed to climb and dream and live on it?
  4. People are better at just being. We were in a town called Riparbella near Pisa, Italy a few years ago. We were lost and doing several (increasingly frenzied) laps of the town trying to find the turn-off to our hotel. Every time we went past one particular doorway (and this circling went on for the best part of an hour), I noticed an older gentleman standing there looking out over the street. He didn't seem to think there was anything more demanding of his time than keeping an eye on the street. And that's not unusual in rural Italy or France or many other parts of Europe. 
  5. The difference a few miles makes. Here in Australia, you can travel for thousands of kilometres and still find yourself among the same sort of pubs, people and places that you left behind you. In Europe, lots of countries are only a few hundred kilometres across - and crossing the border means crossing into an entirely different language, food and cultural tradition. Fantastique!

So buckle up wanderlusters - England, Spain and France here we come!

Mid week meetings: Elissa

Elissa Webster

Hello!

I know all the buzz has been about Hawaii this week, but there's also a European adventure in our very immediate future - I'm off to Europe next week! And since we're about to go on holidays together, it seems only proper to get to know each other a bit better. So...

I'm Elissa, Aimee's Wanderlust People partner in crime. This is me dressed up by a Nepali friend for the Teej festival in Kathmandu. It was one of the stand out days of the six months my husband Matt and I spent in Nepal - Teej is the one time of year when the women of Nepal get together without their menfolk and really let loose. A whole lot of preening and bangle jangling and dancing and laughing and joking about husbands goes on, and I was welcomed into the beating heart of it all just by virtue of being a woman and being there. It was a blast.

Nepal-teej-festival

But I was bitten by the travel beast (side note: "travel bug" is an inadequate term in my experience!) long before Nepal.

  • My first overseas trip was a 6 week round-the-world dash, and the first stop was Peru. I ate guinea pig, had a stranger look out for me, saw real poverty, haggled in terrible Spanish, got hideous altitude sickness and became completely smitten with mountains, hiking and travel in general.
  • My pick for good-dash-of-everything destinations is Sri Lanka. World class beaches, check. Magnificent, friendly people, check. Ancient relics, check. Mountains and hiking opportunities, check. Potential for real cultural exchanges, check. Mind bogglingly delicious food, check check. Go there.
  • The place that I first thought I could pack up and move to was Rome (there have been others since, but there's always a special place in your heart for the first!). Anywhere where people will have a good yell at each other over differing opinions on the quality of the pasta and eat gelato in the dead of winter and walk through the remains of a civilisation centuries past on the way to the office is my kind of place.
Ethan-Rome


  • The place most inaccurately represented by Hollywood that I've experienced is Casablanca, Morocco. Forget the romantic nostalgia of Humphrey Bogart; it's a pretty drab commercial centre. Tangier, on the other hand, (where lots of Casablanca was actually filmed, by the way) is pretty underrated in my book - it has all the spice and sea swept exoticism you expect from a Moroccan port town. Morocco is also the place I was first initiated into the rites of travelling with children - our eldest daughter Sascha was five months old when we travelled there. I'll never forget a lady with three children of her own and not a word of English sweeping Sascha into her arms on a long train journey and playing with her for the whole trip, just for the love of babies. I've been sold on travelling with kids ever since.
  • Speaking of travelling with kids - that probably started with my own childhood. I travelled around Australia in a caravan with my parents for a whole year when I was 11. How cool are they??
  • The landmark that most blew my mind is The Great Wall in China. I'd heard all that stuff about it being seen from space, but something about actually standing in the howling wind looking over the desolate mountains from a wall whose first stones were laid in the seven century made me ponder just how small my blip is on the radar of the world at large and the history that has written it. China was also the site of my worst food poisoning experience ever. That's a story for another day, but suffice to say it involved still having to breastfeed an eight-month-old baby (Ethan, our second child), a hideous long-haul express train trip, and a mixed up hotel booking.
  • My last trip was to Italy, Croatia and Turkey in May 2014. And you know how Rome is the city of love? Meet Luca, born in January this year ;)
Luca-owl


  • Our next trip (and Luca's first) is to England, Spain and France - NEXT WEEK!

So enjoy the last days of your Hawaii adventure and get ready for a European change up! We'll keep the photos coming :)

The anticipation is killing me!

Elissa Webster

But I wouldn't have it any other way!

You see, in 17 short sleeps, I will be handing over my passport for stamping, taking that excitement-charged walk down the boarding ramp, and waving goodbye to the ant-sized people of home for a month (four sweet weeks, yeeewww!) as I head off on a jaunt around western Europe. Even better, I've got someone to compare notes on excitement levels with, because Aimee is about to head off on a 30th birthday (opps, did I let the cat out of the bag?!) adventure to Hawaii. 

Squeeek!

I'm not the only one in my family who's feeling a little bit excited...

I'm not the only one in my family who's feeling a little bit excited...

But as marvellous as I know it will be to breathe in the grassy air of St James Park on a London summer day, bask in the sun on a Spanish beach, roam the cellars of Bordeaux, soak in the style along Parisian avenues, and eat all the pintxo, tapas, croissants and cheese I can conceive of, I also know, from previous experience, that this nearly-there, just-can't-wait, so-excited-I-can-hardly-breathe-sometimes feeling is one of the best bits about travel.

What now?!

OK, don't get me wrong. Some of the other best bits about travel are exactly the opposite of this agonising state of anticipation - the thrill of finding yourself in a place that is every bit as awesome as you dreamed it would be, for instance, or the magnificence of a serendipitous moment that is completely unplanned but will forever capture the essence of that particular grand adventure in your memory because it was so much better than you could ever have contrived or even imagined.   

But there is something that never gets old about getting ready to go. Not the packing of bags and checking of visas and doing of last minute jobs - because those bits get old pretty fast, let's not kid ourselves - but the circling of dates on calendars, and the casual dropping into conversation of the impending event, and the imagining of all the cool stuff you're about to see and do and eat and hear - there's nothing quite like the feeling those simple things combine to create. In fact, I think I'd feel pretty robbed if someone sent me on a surprise trip tomorrow and I didn't get to experience them (although just in case someone's planning that, I would probably get over it!).

So with 17 sleeps to go, I'm in a fever of excitement - and I'm relishing it!