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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: food

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!

3 things you didn't know about Hawaii

Elissa Webster

Here's the thing - everyone thinks they already know everything there is to know about Hawaii because they've seen a few episodes of Hawaii Five O (and yes, no one is arguing that the 60s version was better, so let's not even go there). But having been to Hawaii - and expecting not much more than a pleasant few days in the sun as a stopover en route to the other 49 States of America - I can tell you that there is more to these islands than first meets the eye.

And I'm super excited that my Wanderlust People partner in crime, Aimee, is heading there THIS WEEKEND!

Sure, there is the glitzy strip of Waikiki that is everything you imagine it will be - shoulder to shoulder tourists sunburning themselves on resort towels in the sand and posers strutting the street in heels and not much else. But go even a few streets back, or to the other side of O'ahu for a start, and you'll see a much less plastic side of the last state to join the US of A. Rolling hills of pineapple plantations,  picture perfect waterfalls and - not so unexpectedly - breathtaking, untamed surf breaks. And that's just O'ahu - Hawaii's other islands offer even more opportunities to break free from the pack and explore a pretty unique part of the world.

So in the interest of whetting your appetite, here are the top 3 things I didn't know about Hawaii before I went...

1. There's more to Hawaii than beaches

hawaii-beach

The beaches are amazing (with the possible exception of Waikiki - I don't need such close proximity to my fellow man in a beach experience). And an important point to not is that they are all publicly accessible, even if they nudge up to a fancy resort or a gated community of some sort. But they are actually not the coolest natural occurring drawcard of the islands. There are plummeting cliffs, pristine forests, acres of marine parks (including the 360,000 km2 of reefs, atolls and deep sea of the protected Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which is an area larger than all of the national parks in the US combined), and there's something about impressive waves too... But the coolest natural attraction in Hawaii in my book is the volcanoes. Which brings me to number 2.

2. Hawaii is getting bigger all the time

hawaii-volcano

That's right - while most sea-kissing places are worrying about losing land to climate change and rising oceans, Hawaii is actually adding to its land mass every day. And it's all thanks to Kīlauea, part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, which has been erupting continuously since 1983 and is possibly the world's most  active volcano. As the lava flows into the sea it solidifies and extends the coastline out bit by bit. Locals have been built shacks on the new rocky outcrops in a kind of modern day land rush. Combined with the spectacle of molten hot lava spewing into the sea, it makes for pretty interesting exploring!  And exploring makes me hungry. And that leads me to point 3.

3.  The food is actually pretty good

shrimp-van

I was expecting lots of greasy burgers and sugar dipped doughnuts. But in actual fact, there is plenty of great food to be had in Hawaii. There are farmers' markets a plenty on these islands, with no shortage of tropical fruit and fresh veggies. Coffee plantations are proud of their brews and local vodka made with sugar cane and deep-ocean mineral water is there for the taking. Roadside trucks offer fruity smoothies, a mean shave ice, and some decent plate lunches. And then there are Hawaii's specialties - furikake chicken, malasada (Hawaiian-Portuguese doughnuts) and manju (sweet buns filled with coconut, sweet potato, and other good stuff). I'm back on a sun-soaked holiday just thinking about it!

So happy travels Aimee - and stay tuned for her hot tips and pics direct from Hawaii for 10 sun-filled days from Friday!  

Inspiration to get creative in the kitchen

Elissa Webster

Some people love being in the kitchen. Just the mention of a dish, a waft of spice, an espying of fresh produce is enough to unfurl a whole world of culinary creativity.

And some people love eating, but the cooking of it - not so much. The fine art of food preparation may not get their pulse racing, but the artistry of a magnificently put-together table can  whet the appetite like little else.

Whichever person you are, we can all do with a little inspiration in the kitchen now and then - a reminder of the joy of food and the beauty of a shared meal that transcends cultures and countries. So feast your eyes on these fair trade certified treasures to spice up your kitchen - and happy indulging!