By the reactions from locals we spoke to on the way to Cebu, it's not as much of a holiday destination as El Nido or Boracay but I loved it! Check out what Cebu has to offer!Read More
It's always nice to look back on the year and take stock of everything. 2017 was a real mixed bag for me, I had some of the worst and best times of my life, so here are some of the things that made 2017 awesome!Read More
I've never done a girls' weekend overseas, and after going to the Gold Coast with my friends Steph (also known online as Beauty Lust) and Kerri, I wish I'd done it sooner!
My friends and I had been tossing up getting a hotel in Auckland and having a big night out, but then there were flights to Gold Coast for NZ$200 so we thought, why not make a weekend of it?! Even though Gold Coast is not a place I've been in a hurry to go back to, after going on a family holiday and a couple's trip years ago and preferring a different style of travel nowadays, it has its merits.
What to do:
So many Kiwis go to the Gold Coast at some point for a cheap, fun getaway. Because we were only there for three nights, we decided to forgo the theme parks this time around, but they are very easy to get to and you could definitely squeeze at least one into your weekend. We were there for shopping and nightlife, with a bit of sunshine thrown in.
As the name would suggest, you can also surf at Surfer's Paradise. Sherpa, my favourite surf forecasting app, confirmed what the lack of surfers on the water suggested; conditions weren't great. Each day I thought it might improve but alas, it didn't. It would be a really neat place to learn though, and would be a really fun way to spend a morning with the girls!
Then there's the shopping. There are a few malls to choose from, as well as the shops of Surfers Paradise. We hit up the outlet stores at Harbour Town, where we scored some pretty good bargains. The sales are similar to what you'd find at Dressmart in Auckland, with maybe a few more designer brands in the mix. Then there's the recently upgraded Pacific Fair, which is a stunning mall. I hate spending too much time in malls these days, in spite of my past as a shopaholic, but Pacific Fair was so impressive and mostly outdoors, so I didn't mind too much.
We also went clubbing, and I think we could've branched out down to Broadbeach where it sounds like the clientele is a bit closer to our age, but we still had fun. We only went to Sin City (twice because they asked us to come in free of charge and offered a free drink) and Cocktails, because they were easy to locate and central. We also enjoyed drinks at the Islander but that closed pretty early.
What to eat:
One of the joys of being back in Australia is the range of food delivery services! We wanted to be lazy one night and eat in, especially because we loved our apartment, and ordered Chinese takeaways from Deliveroo. It's like Uber Eats, if you're not familiar. I've never found the food in Surfers Paradise to be amazing, but I did enjoy brunch both days. The first day we went to The Beach Cafe and the second day we tried Sandbar. Both were right on the main street with gorgeous decor, I preferred Sandbar because it had a better menu in my opinion; I had a delicious smoothie bowl (to try make up for all the alcohol I'd consumed).
Where to stay:
I was very lucky to be offered a discounted stay at the Mantra Crown Towers, right in Surfers Paradise for this trip and it was an awesome place to stay. The main area seems geared more towards families, with a fun outdoor pool area that resembled a fake beach.
We were so excited when we reached our apartment on the 32nd floor, the view was spectacular! We also had our own rooms (I took the one with the biggest bed, seeing as I'm about a foot taller than the others), with two full bathrooms, a large kitchen and open dining/lounge area, and a balcony looking right out to sea. One of the rooms had a mirror that took up the whole wall, which was perfect for when we all wanted to get ready together!
We had a lot of fun in that apartment, and the lighting was quite good so of course, we took many selfies! It was a really nice place to just relax as well, with a view of the whole Surfer's Paradise stretch, as well as the beach, it was the perfect spot to watch the sun rise and set.
Where to go:
I would like to throw in a special mention to Byron Bay. I guess it's not really a weekend on the Gold Coast if you visit somewhere that is over an hour's drive away and in a different time zone...but I would still highly recommend a trip to Byron Bay if you have time! Even though people say it's become far more touristy than it once was, I still fell in love, and it was a stark contrast to Surfer's. Along with the new modern chain stores for people who live beach-side, like Billabong and Tigerlilly, there are also really lovely boutiques, cute stores with retro themes and regular markets. Sadly we visited on a day with no markets, but there was still more than enough to explore.
Unfortunately I didn't get too many photos here, I was more focused on getting footage for my video (stay tuned for that!) and also trying to find a bargain.
What's your favourite thing to do in the Gold Coast? Have you ever visited Byron Bay?
If you haven't noticed a lot more aerial footage on social media these days then you must be living under a rock!
I recently joined the drone craze myself, after talking about it for months! I was constantly grilling a workmate about his DJI Mavic Pro, and one day he mentioned that DJI were going to release a new, smaller drone. I researched the Spark and found that it had everything I was after - a small, portable drone with good specs for its size - perfect for a beginner like myself.
The main reason I went with the Spark over the Mavic Pro, in the end, was the price tag. In New Zealand, the Spark alone sells for around $900 and the Mavic Pro for about $1800, and then you can get combos for a few hundred more each. I paid $1299 for the Spark Fly More bundle, which includes the drone, remote, spare battery, propellors and guards, and a charging hub.
I don't really know a lot about technical specs, but I know the Spark offers pretty much all I need to take cool photos and decent quality videos. The camera lens is 12 megapixels with a 1/2.3 inch sensor and the video is 1920x1080, which is fine because I'm only using it for a hobby. The camera is on a 2 axis gimbal so the footage remains stable when flying. It does take a little bit longer to stabilize when in Sports mode, however.
It has some cool features that I'm just getting the hang of. There's Active Tracking, which is great for following a moving object which remaining smooth and steady. A big selling point, which I haven't really mastered yet, is the Hand Gesture setting. I have managed to get it to follow my hand side to side once, but I haven't mastered the "dronie" - you gesture for it to take a selfie. I should probably read the instructions a bit more, so that's probably just as much my own fault.
My favourite thing about it is that I can launch it from my palm! Yes, it would be just as easy to place it on the ground to launch, but it comes in handy if the ground is uneven or wet. I like to think of myself as the Mother of Drones. Anyway...
The short fly time is definitely one of the negatives I've found so far - the maximum it'll do is 16 mins, which is enough to do a fair bit of filming somewhere, but if I want to shoot a second location in one outing I'll need to make sure my spare battery is charged.
Also, often the video signal drops out and once I had the whole aircraft disconnect when it was out at the beach, around the rocks and out of sight. When that happened, I wasn't sure if I had any control over it or not, or whether it still had its Obstacle Avoidance on so I just pushed the joystick to fly it upwards, and prayed to God it would appear over the top of everything rather than fly into it when it "returned to home". Luckily it did, and once it was in sight I let the GPS guide it back to me.
Overall, the DJI Spark is a neat little toy, and it does everything a part-time blogger like myself needs. If you are looking at getting a drone for professional use you might want to look at something with better specs from DJI but if not, then the DJI Spark is a great option.
Have you got a drone? Any advice?
For this next instalment of "Travel to...", let's cast our eyes up to the European continent, and take a look at Slovenia. Why Slovenia? Because it looks like a picturesque country that may not be as well travelled as some of its neighbours, but from what I've heard it really should be!
A mountainous country, Slovenia is surrounded by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, with a small coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It has a small population, with just over 2 million people, the majority of whom speak Slovene. It is part of the UN so if you've travelling through Europe, you won't need to change your Euros to a different currency.
Kate and Jeremy from Our Escape Clause pegged the country as one that they'd most like to return to, up there with Madrid and Dubrovnik! They also have another post about 8 stunning sights in Slovenia, which is a great read if you're interested in seeing some parts of Slovenia outside Ljubljana as well. The Skocjan Caves sound really interesting in particular, and although you aren't allowed to take photos inside but a quick Google search will show how stunning they are!
Bordering Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary, Slovenia is a relatively small country, but that just means you'll be able to see a lot more of it in a short period of time. If you aren't staying there for a long time, Yulia's quick guide to Slovenia is a really helpful source to help you maximise your stay. I hate going somewhere and finding out later what I should've seen or done!
Angela from The Sunday Chapter calls its capital, Ljubljana one of Europe's best kept secrets, and lists the country as one of Europe's most overlooked. Her reasons are quite compelling and paint the small country as a real fairy tale place. I've said this in some of my previous posts, but I'm a real sucker for pretty architecture, and it looks like Slovenia delivers! As you can see, the buildings in Ljubljana are just so lovely, with a variety of colours and styles!
How much can you cram into a 4 day weekend in Queenstown? Well, quite a lot it turns out!
Check out my Queenstown highlights video for an idea of all the adventures you can have in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and this isn't even half of what I would like to do down there! Four days crammed into a 6 minute video, it was hard cutting it all down. If you want a bit more info, you can read the full post about my 4 days in Queenstown here.