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While I now travel with my husband, I have spent the last 7 years travelling alone, and as a woman I am a huge advocate for travelling solo. I was never willing to forgo a trip just because friends didn’t want to come along, and the experiences I gained from travelling solo have done wonders for my confidence and really shaped who I am today. Not only does travelling alone completely push you out of your comfort zone, it forces you to interact with those who you wouldn’t normally interact with. You’re free to wander at your own will, and don’t have to compromise your bucket list or itinerary to suit the needs of others!

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Finding yourself surrounded by Black bears in the middle of the wilderness is probably a nightmare for most. Especially considering our car was parked 3 miles away and we were on foot! But instead of running scared, we crouched down in the grass, pulled out our camera’s, and began shooting.

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We’ve all seen those movies where the plotline takes a character from a mundane life and transports them into a lavish fantasy of riches and wealth. We’ve all dreamed that we are in fact secret royal heirs, like Anne Hathaway’s character in “Princess Diaries”. Only in movies can we escape reality and dream of what it would be like to actually live as characters right out of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby’….or so it would seem.

What if I let you in on a secret, and told you that this experience lives outside of the cinema, and can easily be yours to make your dream a reality. Come with me as I tell you how you can be transported into a life of decadence and pampering beyond your wildest imaginations.

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Rolling down our windows as we drove through Transylvania County towards the Blue Ridge Parkway, all we could hear was the sound of rushing water. Deciding on a whim to spend our afternoon at the waterfalls of Brevard was one thing, however deciding exactly which waterfalls to visit, we soon realized, was another.

With more than 250 waterfalls in Transylvania County, “Land of the Waterfalls” is a pretty accurate description for the area. I don’t know of any other place on earth which can lay claim to so many falls – and each is just as unique and spectacular as the next. In fact, Pisgah National Forest has so many waterfalls that many of them are not even on the map!

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is no ordinary road. A scenic highway connecting Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, “America’s favorite Drive” winds its way through 469 miles of Grand Mountains and seemingly endless vistas and valleys.

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We sped across the ice, 187 feet above Paris. We took in breathtaking views of the city skyline while sipping warm hot chocolate on the ice. We braved the bitter chill to carve out figure eights high above the rooftops of the French capital, illuminated by the twinkling lights of the tower above us.

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Willpower and endurance are the two most important qualities you must possess to be successful in reaching the summit. You need to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other even though you might be extremely deprived of oxygen and energy. You need to be able to convince yourself that you CAN do this even as others around you might be failing. You need to believe in yourself, and you’ll be halfway there! If you can do that – persevere in both physically and emotionally demanding conditions – I guarantee you will reach the top, and some of the most spectacular views you have seen in your life will be waiting for you. As they say, the hardest journeys are the most worthwhile!

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We made it to Daytona Beach around 6pm with still 2 hours of daylight left to explore; courtesy of Florida’s amazing summers. It claims to be the most famous beach in the world, and probably comes close – nearly 200,000 students descend on the area each year for Spring Break despite the city of Daytona trying to discourage them. The 23 miles of Daytona Beach are some of the only in the world where cars are allowed on the sands – a tradition carried over from the days when motor enthusiasts would race on the beaches.

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This part of Florida has almost been forgotten about. So imagine our surprise last week when we decided to deviate from our Google Map and take the coastal drive to St Augustine, discovering an amazing untouched and forgotten coastline, which rivals the likes of the Great Ocean Road and the Road to Hanna.

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Sanibel Island
June 202013

Sanibel Island (Florida) has some of the most beautiful beaches in the US! Additionally, shelling is a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike, as the island offers some of the best shelling in the US, if not the world!

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While we love travelling, and writing home to brag about our adventures overseas, seeing cool places, meeting great new people, and experiencing amazing cultures, there are going to be places that just don’t do it for you.  Malibu, California, really didn’t do anything for me; disappointing since I had been itching to get there!!

The drive from Los Angeles to Malibu was surprisingly breathtaking – we drove the US 101 N for an hour which took us through Rocky Oaks Park and the Zuma/Trancas Canyons.  Stunning mountain scenery.  This was, however, the highlight of the Malibu experience.

I obviously had over inflated expectations about glitz and glamour; Hollywood stars, hot mums, surfer dudes and Pamela Anderson (apparently she lives right by Zuma beach)!

I had researched the previous night addresses of multi-million dollar properties in order to get my celebrity fix and was pretty excited about hitting the beach.  While Malibu is home to many Hollywood movie stars and others associated with the entertainment industry I seriously don’t know why!!

Malibu.

Malibu. Photo CC by Łukasz Lech

The city is located on a very narrow strip of the Pacific Coast Highway, while the houses are indeed spectacular they are located so far into the canyons and so far up narrow cliff faces that access to the beach would be a venture (and also locked inside gated communities like “The Colony” which thwarted my celebrity house drive by idea).

Unfortunately public access to the beaches were very rare and mostly hidden, however we did manage to hike down 3 flights of stairs to take a walk up one of the narrow stretches of beach.

I’ve now realized growing up in Australia has spoiled me in terms of my expectations of what constitutes a beach!  Malibu had sand, calm water and a lot of seaweed, which was sad as I was looking forward to some kind of atmosphere!

Laguna Beach was what I was expecting from Malibu in terms of glitz, glamour and atmosphere, and in fact there is a video blog about my love affair with Laguna.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach. Photo by Patrick Nouhailler

We had a much more enjoyable experience later that day at Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier.

Manhattan beach was everything I expected from California and met my apparently over hyped Australian expectations of a beach!!  It has atmosphere, million dollar houses right on the beach, waves, hot mums and surfer dudes!!…although no Pamela Anderson.

Recreational facilities line the beach – play equipment for kids, beach volleyball courts, separate sidewalks for joggers and cyclists and even gym equipment in some segments of the jogging tracks!  I would live on Manhattan Beach if I could!  Go here instead of Malibu!!

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Manhattan Beach. Photo Mike Jerrard

Santa Monica Pier just oozed fun and satisfied my craving for beach atmosphere!  It’s a large double jointed pier (a 100 year old landmark) which includes a family amusement park, beach restaurants and cafes, buskers and street artists as well as arcades and your general amusement stalls.

When we arrived we stood around for a while to watch the filming of a pilot for a new cheer leading TV series called “Bounce”.  It was everything I expected from LA and should not be missed from your itinerary!!

We based ourselves in Los Angeles at the Shelter Hotel which was great value for money and extremely central to the majority of LA locations.  We enjoyed the hotel for it’s incredible value for money – cheap nightly rates, free parking, free wifi, large spacious rooms and friendly laid back staff; customer service was amazing.

The hotel is very edgy and hip with a lot of personality – room didn’t include a fridge – but did include modern amenities like an IPod docking station and flat screen.  I would recommend it as luxury backpacking or if you’re just looking for somewhere nice to crash at the end of the evening.  We were planning on going back at the end of our round road trip but stayed at LA airport instead to catch our early flight.

Check out Flickr or Facebook for all of our photos from California!

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Santa Monica Pier. Photo Mike Jerrard

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Hola!! We drove from Arizona to San Diego on a route which saw us snake along the Mexican Border. Our poor little rent a car nearlly over heated from the intense desert conditions!!!

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Cruising Casablanca
March 242013

Awoke at 6am to witness the sun rise over the Moroccan coast and the arrival of the ship in Casablanca. Overcast and raining, with minimal visibility, so I went back to bed. When I did get up an hour later, I witnessed to coolest parking yet – a couple of hundred metres going sideways. Very cool.

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We all enjoy a good roadtrip. If you’re planning on travelling to Vegas and will already be in LA you should drive. This is why!

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The question posed on facebook was “you mean they’re real??!!”. While the roadrunner may be the star of the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon they are also very real!! Their very swift movement as featured in the cartoon series is also very real!! (They can run up to 17 miles per hour – which for those of you who think in kilometres is roughly 27 km per hour).

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Now to dispel the myth of the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood. I had heard that Hollywood itself is very dirty – it is. Hollywood Boulevard however was fantastic fun. It was great walking the walk of fame; walking with our heads down scouring the street for famous names we recognised out of the almost 2,500 pink terrazzo stars inlaid with the names of famous celebrities.

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Kennet River Koalas
February 82013

Kennet River, Victoria, is the best place to get up close and personal with Koalas in their natural habitat while driving the Great Ocean Road Australia. Take a drive up Grey River Road; it will be the highlight of your trip!

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Bungee Costa Rica
January 102012

My heart was beating like a sledgehammer, though I still jumped. I dived into thin air from an 85m bridge into one of the most beautiful valley’s I had ever seen.

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3 Irishmen, a South African and an Australian go Canyoning in the Swiss Alps…not the start to a joke, just my Thursday in Kandersteg. We caught a train to Interlaken to hit the canyons.

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We reached the northern most tip of the Australian continent after 2 hours of some highly entertaining 4wd-ing through varied terrain covered with an intriguing mosaic of eucalypt woodland and rainforest. A 15 minute walk then lead us through more rainforest and over a heap of rocks to the tip.

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The first thing we noticed when we got to gunshot creek…one of the many challenges of the telegraph track…was the large tree in the middle of the creek which had been turned into a shrine with car parts claimed by the passing. Number plates, signs, alternators, car door frames, you name it were nailed to the tree!

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Driving to Cape York
June 242011

This morning we took on the telegraph track. For the first 3 hours we managed 3k. Yes, for those mathematicians out there that’s 1k an hour! We spent half an hour walking and clearing out a huge river crossing which had extremely large drop offs. Jacintas legs turned to clay in the process!

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Mystery Island
March 162011

Mystery Island is an island with picture perfect sandy pathways that lead to white beaches edged with coconut trees and crystal clear lagoons offering great snorkeling. The Island was used as a World War II landing strip for the allied forces, and there are no roads, no shops and no stress!! There are also no inhabitants – no-one lives on the island as its considered taboo to do so…the locals come across from nearby Aneityum for the days that ships call into the island.

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Cruising Through Lifou
March 142011

Lifou is…amazing! It is a commune (an overseas territory of France) in the Loyalty Islands Province of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. The island has one of the most diverse landscapes I have ever seen – from limestone caves to white beaches and coral reefs teeming with brightly coloured marine life.

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Listing Results

  • Traveling as a Single Woman in the UAE

    Traveling as a Single Woman in the UAE

    Personal Journal

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  • Surrounded by Black Bears: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

    Surrounded by Black Bears: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

    Adventure, Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction, Travel Video

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  • Biltmore: Beyond Your Wildest Imaginations

    Biltmore: Beyond Your Wildest Imaginations

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction, Travel Video

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  • The Land of Waterfalls – Brevard

    The Land of Waterfalls – Brevard

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • View from the Blue Ridge Parkway: Photo Essay

    View from the Blue Ridge Parkway: Photo Essay

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • The Time We Ice Skated On The Eiffel Tower

    The Time We Ice Skated On The Eiffel Tower

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Kilimanjaro – The Best and The Rest!

    Kilimanjaro – The Best and The Rest!

    Adventure, Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • The Daytona Beach Experience

    The Daytona Beach Experience

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • East Coast Road Trip Part I

    East Coast Road Trip Part I

    Personal Journal

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  • Sanibel Island

    Sanibel Island

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Not so mad for Malibu…where to go instead

    Not so mad for Malibu…where to go instead

    Personal Journal

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  • Mexican Border Video Blog

    Mexican Border Video Blog

    Personal Journal, Travel Video

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  • Cruising Casablanca

    Cruising Casablanca

    Personal Journal

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  • The Vegas Roadtrip Vlog

    The Vegas Roadtrip Vlog

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction, Travel Video

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  • Road-running through Arizona

    Road-running through Arizona

    Personal Journal

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  • Hollywood is a State of Mind

    Hollywood is a State of Mind

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Kennet River Koalas

    Kennet River Koalas

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Bungee Costa Rica

    Bungee Costa Rica

    Adventure, Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction, Travel Video

    Read more
  • Canyoning in Switzerland!

    Canyoning in Switzerland!

    Adventure, Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Reaching the Top of Australia

    Reaching the Top of Australia

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Driving Through Gunshot Creek

    Driving Through Gunshot Creek

    Adventure, Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Driving to Cape York

    Driving to Cape York

    Adventure, Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Mystery Island

    Mystery Island

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

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  • Cruising Through Lifou

    Cruising Through Lifou

    Personal Journal, Tourist Attraction

    Read more