20 April 2010

Ash clouds and chaos

As reports that the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption is strengthening and throwing more ash into the air, I wondered what travel tips have been published to help troubled travelers.

In doing so, I came across the Wikipedia page about the air travel disruption that is looking to summarize what's happening where. V. useful. I did find it worrying though that the page had the year in its title. When World War I was taking place, it was called The Great War to End All Wars. Patently the original page developer believes that this scene is all set to be reenacted sometime in the future...

I also came across the Lonely Planet article that gives tongue in cheek advice to those in one of three situations: stuck in Europe, stuck at home waiting to go to (or through) Europe or (worst of all) stuck in an airport/transit hub.

The sad thing out of all of this have been the hotel chains that are taking advantage of people's plights...

Quelle Mauvais Voyage!

Travel Tip: Car pooling has suddenly become popular and sites like Hitchhikers, LiftShare, RoadSharing and Sharling have all taken off as flights haven't. And if you need a room? Try CouchSurfing or The Hospitality Club. Good luck!

19 April 2010

Tailored for Trendy Travel

It must be difficult for blokes. For those not of Italian or DACH* extraction, a man-bag just looks odd. But what do you do with all that paraphernalia pertaining to plane journeys?

Shanghai Tang has finally come out with what I think IS a cool solution. Though I had to check it out in the store given the teenage model they chose for the picture does NOT make it look cool.

Bon Voyage!

Travel Tip: I always have US$100 in my travel wallet, with half of it in ten and five dollar bills. While I hate to admit it, the currency is recognized instantly and has gotten me out of a couple of tricky situations.

* Germany, Austria & Switzerland

15 April 2010

Sydney's Surry Hills

It was actually a nasty second week in April weather-wise, but Sydney was still such a lovely city to visit.

So much more laid-back than pretty much all of Asia, it was a welcome relief to my stressed soul. And while work occupied my days, I was able to catch up with a couple of mates for dinner and enjoy some luscious, modern Ozzie fusion food while the rain came down. With work over, I headed over to Surry Hills for some retail therapy!

Located to the south-east of the CBD*, the inner-city suburb is a mixture of residential, commercial and light industrial areas. However, as it remains Sydney's main centre for fashion wholesale, it also attracts a number of boutiques that sell unique homeware.

My favourite shops were Planet Commonwealth (who gave me the map/address sheet below to help me navigate around the area), Koskela and Shelf/Life.

click here to open a larger versionclick here to open a larger version
One of the gorgeous goodies I picked up was a Tara Badcock purse with a metallic green leather backing and an embroidered Red Necked Stint on the silk cover.

Like it? If yes, drool over more of her work on her blog and flickr photostream.

I also bought a cool pair of linen teatowels by Me and Amber.

But my cutest purchase (which I'm gifting) was a rabbit vase by Perch.

Not on the map, but definitely worth a visit, is Object on Bourke Street, the next street up Albion Street from Crown Street.

Bon Voyage!

Travel Tip: When applying for a visa for Australia, simply log on to the Government website to apply for an electronic visa. Their AU$20 free will be much cheaper than any you'll pay your travel agent.

* central business district

12 April 2010

Caring for Cufflinks & Earrings

If you only buy one of my Monday Must-Haves, it should be this week's recommendation.

Not much survives living in the bottom of my handbag pretty much permanently. But the Giorgio Fedon 1919 Patent Eco-leather Mini Case has!

Giorgio Fedon started his company making his now-world-renowned glasses cases near Treviso in 1919, and today the company is a leading brand with some truly beautiful travel accessories. Not only do these marvelous little boxes have an exterior that seems to shrug off dirt and stay looking lovely (well it did before one of my kitties savagely clawed it), the strong hinges keep all the contents inside the case too.

These fab. little cases come in a huge range of colours and now patterned ones are starting to appear.

Bon Voyage!

Travel Tip: I have a really small felt pouch into which I slip my pearl earrings before I put them in the case. While they won't get crushed because the cases are hard, it does provide peace of mind that over time something won't gouge a chunk out of them.

05 April 2010

Macanese Meals

Three meals in the ex-colony of Macau at three of my favourite haunts.

Friday night saw us meet up with friends (who were also over for the weekend) and a trip to Fernando's.

A very chilled, relaxing evening was had by all before we rolled out of there stuffed full from BBQ meats, prawns and sangria. Their basic salad and roast chicken in particular are so good.

Next day and the next meal was lunch at the Pousada de Sao Tiago.

Before its renovation, the Pousada de Sao Tiago was a bit run-down. Now, with a designer decorated interior, it's definitely high-up on my list of places to visit, though be warned that the service can be a bit hit-and-miss. The menu's also been updated to include a couple of nice salads, perfect for lunch as a side to their Caldo Verde (cabbage and potato soup), which just tastes better and better every time I go!

But if you don't want to eat there, it's still worth a visit even if it's just for a drink on the terrace as the hotel is an old garrison that is cut into the hillside and has 200 year old trees twisting around the old fortifications. It also has a v. pretty little chapel dedicated to St. James.

Last but not least was dinner at the Clube Militar. This officers' dining club was established in 1870 and remains a private members' club today. However, several years ago now, the club opened the doors of its dining room to the general public.

While there's a strict dress code (no shorts/sneakers/thongs etc.), it's not stuffy and the hard wood floor, palms, tall windows and gently whirling ceiling fans hark back to an era long gone. Top of the menu for me are the clams, steak with Roquefort sauce and (of course) the Caldo Verde. Just don't choose the garlic mushrooms as they're made with Chinese mushrooms and really aren't good!

The addresses are:

Restaurante Fernando
9 Praia de Hac Sa
Coloane Island, Macau
T +853 2888 2264

Pousada de Sao Tiago (also listed as the Sao Tiago de Barra)
Avenida Da Republica
Fortaleza De Sao Tiago Da Barra
T +853 2837 8111

Clube Militar de Macau
975 Avenida da Praia Grande
T +853 2871 4000

Bon Voyage!

Travel Tip: Maps of Macau are available from any hotel concierge, but make sure that you get one with a list of the restaurants in English and Chinese. Most taxi drivers don't speak a lot of English and (as with much of Asia), do not show them the map itself. Much easier!

04 April 2010

Easter Break

Hong Kongers enjoy a curious mix of public holidays and this last weekend was a prime example. Good Friday and Easter Monday were both public holidays, with Easter Monday this year clashing with Ching Ming (one of the two grave-sweeping days for the Chinese), which meant Tuesday is a day off!

Not really wanting to get on a plane, my hubby and I headed to Macau, the ex-Portuguese territory on the other side of the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong and just one hour away by hovercraft.

Taking advantage of a great package, which included the room at the Venetian, breakfast, ferry tickets, MOP500 worth of vouchers, a 45min spa treatment, a welcome drink at Boca, and a VIP shopping card, we had a really great three day break.

While hotels on top of casinos in general are not fabulous, I do like The Venetian given it's just so gloriously tacky! Very large rooms, a huge range of dining options, shows and a good number of shops in the canal labyrinth. What more could a girl ask for?

Bon Voyage!

Travel Tip: Hong Kong permanent residents have always only needed to use their HK identity cards to get into Macau. Now we don't even need to fill in an immigration form! The officer just swipes your card and hands you a printed slip that summarizes the details of your tourist visa.