Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nelson, NZ

As usual, click to englarge the photos :P

Nelson, New Zealand is one of my favourite places in all of New Zealand. Located on the Northern tip of the South Island, Nelson is blessed with lots of sunshine, friendly folksy folk and a close proximity to a range of attractions and activities. The justly popular Abel Tasman National Park is a short hop away, as is the stunning Nelson Lakes National Park, the Wild West Coast and various tramps, tracks and walks. An added bonus is the fact that Nelson has a plethora of quality accomodations, from staying in one man's humble and welcoming abode (Tramper's Rest), a quaint and personable backpackers (The Green Monkey), a partying and popular hostel (Paradiso) or a soothing and charming women's hostel (Hecate House). Venture further into Nelson Lakes and you can stay at the convenient and friendly Yellow House.
Regardless of where you stay, Nelson is more than worth a stop. In fact, be prepared to spend a lot of time and earn a lot of memories here.
I'm having a giveaway starting Friday, July 31st to Friday August 7th on my fashion blog Anywhere But Here - win a $50 gift certificate to Rice and Beans Vintage :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seatoun, Wellington, NZ

Seatoun is a seaside suburb of Wellington, about 20 minutes away from the city. My sister Linda and her Kiwi husband Hamish lived there for awhile, as he worked at the Film Studios in Miramar, the next town over. He was the key grip for Lord of the Rings, which saw him working all over New Zealand for a number of years. While living in a tiny, beachside house, they had the privilage of being the next bay over from their good friend Peter Jackson. While I never saw Peter while staying visiting them, we did to tour the LOTR set, which was amazing...we even got to touch all the costumes and watch them film a battle scene with a lot of Orcs.

There is no accommodation in Seatoun that I know of, although there are bound to be a few bed and breakfasts. Your best bet is to stay in Wellington at the Cambridge Hotel, which has clean and modern dorms. Wellington is my favourite city in all of New Zealand, and I've probably been there about 5 or 6 times. The city itself is worth several posts, which I will do if I ever get my photographs scanned (this were my pre-digital days). But, whatever you do, do NOT stay at the hostel across from the Railway Station. We walked out after 5 minutes. Trust me.

Oh and I JUST bought my tickets to New Zealand - Nov-28-Dec 20th - I'm coming back home, baby! It's been far too long - let the planning commence!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kaikoura, NZ

A most magical place - I've been here twice and it never ceases to impress. So excited to return a third time this December.

Please click on photos to englarge and appreciate better.

In Kaikoura, I recommend: Sunrise Lodge for location, hospitality, privacy and coziness, Dusky Lodge for an upbeat, stylish and youthful feel or Cray Cottage for its rave reviews (for those who love peace and quiet).

While in Kaikoura, enjoy a looooong (think 5 hours) walk around the Kaikoura penninsula, watching for sea lions, seals, birds and free-roaming sheep. Or do what made Kaikoura famous and take part in Dolphin Swimming, Whale Watching or Seal Swimming. And whether its the marine activities or the rain that comes off from the South Pacific Ocean, be prepared to get wet. It's worth it.

PS check out my fashion blog Anywhere But Here to see my feature in Self Magazine :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sightseeing: The Salton Sea, Palm Springs, CA

Yes, I know what you are thinking. The terms "sea" and "Palm Springs" don't really go together, because, let's face it, Palm Springs is in the desert. Actually, Palm Springs is pretty much the desert.

Yet, in the middle of all this cactus-strewn sand lies the largest "lake" in California. Marked with a high salinity level (and why it's considered a "sea"), the Salton sea is known as "California's crown jewel of avian biodiversity" and perhaps was, at one time, the most productive fishery in the world.

Now the Sea is slowly dying from pollution, a rise in salinity and a shrinking shoreline. This is a great loss considering how important the sea is with regards to wetlands wildlife, endangered birds and the local economy. There is, however, a huge movement taking place in which the California government hopes to restore the lake to its original glory. The process may take up to 40 years, but it is neccesary in order for the natural wonder to survive.

The Salton Sea is located 20 minutes south of Palm Springs, off of Highway 111. When making the journey down to this unique place, be sure to stop off at one of the numerous date farms on the side of the road and indulge in a Date Shake. It's to die for.

For more information on how you can help The Salton Sea please visit here.

Wanna date?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sightseeing: The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

While the Berlin Wall seems like a distant memory, you can still find other important historical reminders throughout this fantastic city. The Brandenburg Gate is not only the symbol of Berlin (now that the wall has been taken down) but was once an actual gateway into the city (and is the only gate to remain standing).
Built as a sign of peace in 1791 by Friedrich Wilhelm II , the Brandenburg Gate has a vibrant history. After Napolean conqured Berlin, the gate became a sign of his power. Later, as the Nazis came into play, the gate was used to symbolize their power. As the Cold War started and Germany was split in two, the gate became closed off as the Berlin wall fell into place. American's placed the following sign on the gate, in numerous languages for all to read: "End of the Free World. You are leaving the American Zone."

By the time the Wall was finally torn down, the Brandenburg Gate took on a new symbol: Liberty.The gate is great attraction for Berlin. Not only does it keep history alive by reminding us of its violent, stormy and evolving paths but it is also a great introduction to the city of Berlin.

Aside from the usual lot of tourists found strolling about the area (busiest around mid-day) locals frequent it as well, which makes for great local color and people watching. So stroll around, pull up a park bench, crack open a beer (just doing as the locals do!) and observe the city of Berlin at its finest.

PS please see my other blog Anywhere But Here for your chance to win a new Forever 21 summer dress - easy!