Saturday, September 22, 2018

Italy Traventures : Top Sightseeing Places in Exploring the Beauty of Florence


The capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and also the most populous city there. People there are called Florentines or known as Florentino in Italian. The name comes from Latin word which gives a meaning of flower, in the sense of a flower blossoming. This is another city of Romance after Paris that is recommended by a lot of people to come with your partner.

After exploring Rome and coming over to Florence with more knowledge of the Roman history, we were pretty excited to travel around Florence. We heard great things about it and it’s actually a lot of my friends favourite city in Italy. We stayed at the city centre so it was easy to get around.  Our hotel reception was super friendly and gave us tips on how to get around with the main neighbourhood. We visited almost all the neighbor and these are the best places I picked that I really like and the highlights of my trip. 

Mercato di San Lorenzo



First stop was the market because we were super hungry. The famous bustling indoor and outdoor market where they sell all kind of stuff which include local arts, food, leather goods and also all kind of local food. If you are a fan of truffle, this market is filled with it. We had our meal at Nerbone which is located on the ground floor and it was super delicious. The best meal we had in Florence actually. We started the trip off on a good note and was already looking forward to the entire day.



There was two floors in the market and we were told the food court is not as good as the local stalls. The local introduced Nerbone to us and we went up to the food court as well. Although the food court look much more fancier but sometimes those are just pleasing to the eyes. Definitely suggest to head over the ground floor for more local food.

Basilica di San Lorenzo

Largest church in Florence which is super close by to the market. It is situated in the centre of the main market district. It a landmark Renaissance church and also a burial place of the Medici. All of these churches have really beautiful interior and if you have the time, do go in to stop by.


Galleria dell’ Accademia

Decided to make another visit to the museum where the David Michelangelo sculpture is presented. You must be wondering what’s so famous about this sculpture and what differ it from the others. It is THE masterpiece of Renaissance created in marble. A nude sculpture which is so craved in so much detailed. You can see veins in the hand and legs. The meticulous designed of the sculpture is what makes it so special. Before the final piece, there have been so many failed one and no one has yet manage to replicate such elegant piece.


Do note that we had to wait for about 45 minutes before we got it so to skip the queue please get tickets! J The entrance fees is slightly more expensive and we chose to go for this over the Uffizi Gallery. Partly because we weren’t really art people and thought we just visit the famous sculpture.

 Piazza del Duomo (Basilica Santa Maria del Flore)

The large city square which contains the Basilica of Santa Maria del Flore, the third largest cathedral in the world and the baptistery. The building craving and external interior of this building is really capitivating. A true beauty. If you climb up the Duomo, you’ll get an city view of Florence. I did not do this because not only the queue is long, I have already decided to head onto the lookout at Piazza Michangelo for a sunset view which you can see the cathedral itself. My friend did mention it is two different beauty but if you have the time, just head on to both.


Florence Baptistery

Baptistry of Saint John is another name for it. A religious building and has a status of a minor basilica. It is right beside the Florence cathedral so you don’t have to travel far. One of the most ancient and religious building in Florence. The Gate of Paradise right outside the baptistery is really stunning. Just another beauty of architecture right next to the cathedral.


Museo Galileo

History of science museum and Galileo was someone that I learned about back in high school about his inventions. If you are not interested you can definitely skip this but this has gave me a lot of insights about all the science invention and how it has come about. This is not a super big museum but just nice to spend 1.5 hours in it. The whole museum portray how has science help in building instrument and improvising it over time. It also showcase astronomer instruments as well which is quite interesting. There is an area which is interactive which makes you wonder. Its amazing what science can tell us.


Palazzo Vecchio

This is the town hall of Florence with a replica of the David Michangelo status. A castle like building accompany by a 311 foot high bell tower. Another museum in Florence. We did not went in for this but briefly pass by. We were heading over to Piazza Michangelo so we had to pass by the town hall but definitely suggest you to head there since I saw a really long queue. Feels like there must be something interesting there but I was chasing the sunset so I had my priorities.


Ponte Vecchio

A medieval stone segmental arch bridge over the Arno River overlooking the view by the river of the city. This was a really unique bridge as there were stores along the bridge but the main highlight for me was the design of the stores were really medieval. They had big brands store there but it brings you back to a different era as though there was much changes. It was indeed a good walk for us and admiring the beauty of the city from the river.




Piazza Michangelo

The HIGHLIGHT of my trip definitely! Climbing up was the toughest part for to head over to the lookout to witness the sunset and beauty of Florence from above. It was all worth it. The view was breathtaking and the best part is that this is FREE! Although a quick tip for you guys, please make sure you get there early if you want a space to witness the sunset in a comfortable area. Otherwise, you will cramming with everyone else and with taller people in front of you, it’ll block the view.




You can grab a beer and some small food and sit down to wait for the sunset. I did not have enough of the view. I stayed there for about 2 hours just to see the day turn night and get the view for both. Despite the hardship of climbing up a steep hill and steps, I felt like it was all worth it the moment I got hold of the view.

This pretty much sum up my highlight and recommendation in Florence where you really get to explore its beauty. If you wish to follow all my Italy traventure, I wrote up on my trip to RomePisa and Milan as well.



Saturday, September 15, 2018

5 Themeparks Adventure in Gold Coast that you CANNOT miss!

Gold Coast located at the South of Brisbane on Australia's east coast. Famous for their long sandy beaches, surfing and water activities and of course last but not least, THE THEME PARKS!
I may not seem like it but I love going for theme parks and the thrill rides. Where else if not in Gold Coast. There is like six main theme parks that you can visit and they are super duper fun. I was there in 2013 for 4 days visiting one theme park a day and again in 2015 for a day.

Here are the theme parks available in Gold Coast that you should drop by. They have theme parks that are family friendly, thriller rides for the youngster like me and also the water parks. Firstly, do not get these theme parks passes and tickets individuals as it will cost you so much more. Buy it in package online before you head there you will save lots. Each theme park would cost you at least $89 to $100 individually.

RECOMMENDED PACKAGES 

SKYPOINT is where you get a skyscraper of view for the entire Gold Coast. It's in the package so might as well make a visit and its a real beauty at night. I've been there and I really love it. 

Disclaimer : The photos was taken way back in 2013 from my really old iphone. Hence, the quality might be really poor and also it was so long ago, I couldn't really find most of it. I will give it a go and make do with what I have. 

The ranking of the theme parks are how I would really rank them to go and priortise. 

WARNER BROS MOVIE WORLD

A movie theme park in Gold Coast that was open in 1991. My favourite theme park among all because the rides were super fun and thrilled! Super scary! The only movie realted theme park in Australia with attraction ranging from motion simulators to roller coaster and slow river rides. There are also minor street shows all around where there will be performance by characters from Scooby-Doo and Shaggy and Looney Tunes character. 

Batman, Green Lantern and Superman are also there. You know where to go if you want a photo with these superheroes. My favourite ride was the Superman ride. It will go at a pace where you think that any other typical thrill ride and an announcement will come up to say "Hold on that, 3..2..1..." And there you go. The speed superman fly. Yep, before you know it you are heading up there on a super fast pace trying to catch your breathe while screaming your lungs out. 

The other rides were also super fun like the Gotham City and Green Lantern ride. The rest were the typical rides you would get. My highlight would definitely be the Gotham City Batman, Superman and Green Lantern ride. 


WET N' WILD

This was the most popular water theme park in Gold Coast. There are a couple water theme park but this has the best water rides in Gold Coast. It was also my favourite water theme park so far. I haven't been to many water theme parks but definitely open to any other recommendation that you guys have on this. In 2009, the park received 1,085,000 which rank 8th in the world which justify that this definitely is one fun thrilled water park. This theme park is much older, opened in 1984.



Source: Google Images 
As it was a water theme park, the moment I arrived, didn't waste any time, took no photos and hence, only took a photo from google image.

DREAMWORLD

Dreamworld is the largest theme park with 40 rides and attraction with several themed such as Rocky Hollow, Tiger Island, Town of Gold Rush, Dreamworks Experience and Ocean Parade. They not only have rides but collection of animal exhibits which is suitable for the younger kids which cannot take the thrill rides. Opened in 1981, this one has even more thrill rides than Movie World. However, I felt like the rides were much more older and hence, I don't feel as safe as sitting the rides in Movie World. It just me being paranoid but when the environment and decoration looks like its been a long time since refurbishment. 


However, I gotta say the most thrilled ride I sat was in Dreamworld. The name is Buzzsaw. It was an achievement photo for me. Basically the rides takes you all the way up and then you have a free fall down letting go two rounds which is super fun. That twist at the top where you turn 360 degree added the twist to your ride. I scream so much when I came down, I felt like I lost my voice. 


WHITE WATER WORLD

Opened in 2006, this is situated in the suburb of Coomera in Gold Coast. We wanted to go both white water world and wet and wild and we went both of them in a day. Not the best choice but we only had 4 days in Gold Coast. Either ways, we went there in the morning for about 4 hours. There wasnt any queue and we manage to sat almost all of the rides. It's very similar to wet and wild but lesser rides of course. If you have a less crowded water park, this is definitely your choice. The queue lines are much shorter as well .


Quick tip : My attire was not water friendly for sure. Changed into a t shirt and water based shorts. Do not that denim shorts are not allow in the rides. So be sure to make sure you wear the right attire and when visiting water parks.

SEA WORLD

This is more like an aquarium, a marine mammal park and sort of a mini themepark. It does not have as many rides but a lot of activities where you can interact with marine animals like the seal and dolphins. The rides are not the thrilling type as this theme park was meant for the family and kids. The rides were a lot of kids ride but honestly, I had fun playing those. It might seem childish and for 20 year olds to be playing against all the kids. 

But hey, it always important to keep the youth in you. Bringing you back to your childhood times as well. I had a great time and especially I absolutely love the dolphins show. They are such elegant yet playful animals.




Oh! Also, if you are there, make sure to chill and get sun tanned at Surfer Paradise as well! The beach is beautiful and it can get really crowded. I visited sea world on my second trip and i had to pay a full 80AUD for my entrance so please please get packages.

SKYPOINT

Located 230 metre from the ground, this place will get you the view of the City of Gold Coast. If you've been following my travel diaries, you will notice how much I love going up to skyscrapper and climbing up to high points to get views like this. My absolute and MUST Do things in a place. Any place that gives me a city views, you named it, I'll be going. I need capture a memory of all this cities. I cant go and visit them all but I would love to at least get an overview of it. 


I didn't manage to get the day view as I was too busy with all the theme park but night views are almost as beautiful. The lights make the city look so much more alive.

My take on this :
- These are the best 5 themeparks in Gold Coast that you cannot missed. They should be the priority
- Make sure to get recommended packages to make your trip worth.
- Make sure you get the right attire to the themeparks.













Saturday, September 8, 2018

Exploring Adelaide in the Heat (2.5 days Itinerary)

Throwback to all the way in December 2015 when I first graduated. I was heading back to Malaysia for good and decided that I should do a bit of travelling. I had friends all over Australia so we all decided to travel together. I bought my ticket to Adelaide and then heading to Brisbane and Gold Coast. My first stop was Adelaide and my friend picked me up from the airport. He had everything planned out so nicely for us. What better way than to explore the city than having a local bring you around to the best places. :)

Trust me, the summer in Australia is a real deal. It was 40 degree and the lesson I learn from this trip is to never travel at this temperature. You not only get sunburn but you sweat so much that you feel uncomfortable.

DAY 1 

Lyndoch Lavendar Farm

This farm was huge. It is also the popular lavendar farm that people visit when they are in Adelaide. For more information about them, you can visit their website here. It was my first time visiting a lavendar farm and I would say it would be better visiting during spring or when weather are more bearable. It was so hot that the lavender wasn't looking very healthy. However, I heard that during spring or cooler weather, its a purple field which looks really pretty.



You can tell that the summer in Adelaide pretty much drain all the plants and the ground just by looking at the soil colour. Despite that, I would love to give a shoutout to the Lavender Ice Cream. Its the first time I had Lavender Ice Cream and is still the BEST I had!


1847 Wines Chateau Yaldara Barossa Valley
Of course, you have to do the wine tasting when you are here. Our first stop was just near by the Lavendar Farm, 1847 Wines Chateau Yaldara Barossa Valley. The setting of this wineries is beautiful and perfect for wedding settings. Its grand and has the European style and feels to it.




They have a beautiful garden as well. Did some wine tasting there but not too much because my friend has more winery plans for us.

Jacob Creeks Winery 
160 year old, Australia largest wine brand. This was a really famous wine and I often had it when I was back in Malaysia. I like this winery much more as it is modernised and most importantly it had air condition which was what I really needed at that point in time.



At that point in time, I was in love with Moscato so we all bag one whole box of Moscato back. It was my favourite among all the wine I tried that day. I always had a sweet tongue so I guess Moscato was the go-to choice for me. 

This view is my favourite. It look like a perfect weather but the heat was unbearable. I am pretty sure we were able to fry an egg there. 
St Hallett Wine 
Finally, our last wine stop was the St Hallett Wineries which was also located in Barossa Valley. Shiraz is the core of St Hallett Wineries. By that time, I felt like I've already had a little too much wine from the past two wineries so I went in to just try the shiraz.


This was their packaging style of wines. I didn't get any from them but it was a good tasting of shiraz I had. Decided that we had enough of wine , my friend was like let's go feed the animals and hence we head over there.

Gumeracha Wildlife Park 

A 7 ache wildlife park which has variety of animals in it such as the peacock, Illama, emu, wallabies and so on. I had quite a fright here. I think the animals weren't fed as much so when they saw us they literally charge at us. The whole time, I felt like I was running for my life with my friends. It was fun nevertheless just a little scary. It would have been better if the animals were fed enough because you could tell that they are starving. I fed quite a lot of animals in zoo and never have a seen such hungry animals in a park. I've asked the owners and he said normally during cooler season there are a lot of tourist so the animals are well fed. In a hot weather, there are lesser tourist, so even they were fed but its much lesser than what they use to have previously.


This guy here, the emu. His friends that were running around was the culprit who was charging at us. 
Also, the wildlife park is right beside a toy factory with its famous big rocking horse. If you are planning to stop by here, the big rocking horse will let you know you are at the right location.

Hahndorf (German Town)

This town is the oldest German Settlement in Australia. They all practically German theme and you really do get a different feel rather than the typical Australia town. Most of the shops were selling German goods and products. Keeping the town real German.




We had our early dinner at about 4pm in this German Restaurant which I can't remember what was it called. Apparently it's super popular and the deco in the restaurant in on point with the theme.

Mount Lofty 

Our last stop was to have a panoramic view of Adelaide so we went the highest point in the Mount Lofty range to get this cool view. Since there were a lot of wineries here, the view you get is not your typical city view but a scenery of green grass.



After this, we decided to head into the city for a walk before calling it a day. I got pretty bad sunburn that day and I prepared for it so I got cucumbers and aloe vera. I came back home at night and did a homemade mask with the cucumber and aloe vera. With such heat, this would help to cool down your skin and prevent any skin peeling off.

My friends just laugh at me when I was doing it but it felt so comfortable that they decided to try. Lucky for us, we did not get peeled skin and redness.

DAY 2

Cherry Picking 

During the summer, you MUST go for Cherry Picking in Australia. It's a super popular activity to do during Summer despite the hot sun. This was my first time doing it and I really had a lot of fun. When you actually pick those cherry, we were told to be very careful and only take the fruit but not the whole stem and pull it carefully for it to keep reproducing cherry. A lot of times tourist just hurt the cherry trees without realising.



Port Elliot, Horseshoe Bay

Second stop on day 2 was the beach. No way you can visit a place in Australia without visiting any beaches. We went over to Horseshoe Bay, played around the beach and mainly we were there for the fish and chips in Flying Fish Cafe.




Look at the water. Its so clean and the water colour just please my eyes so much. I love going to beaches with clear blue water and admire the beauty of the sea.

Granite Island Recreation Park

So, we decided to a bit of trekking around the Granite Island at Victor Harbor. This was a different experience to get to the island. We took a tram but not the electric tram but a horse tram. It took us from Victor Harbor to Granite Island. It took us about 2 hours to get around the island. We didnt rush it but just took our time admiring the view and rocks. Took a lot of photos too!






It was a amazing view despite the hot weather. Getting view like this makes it worth the trip, sweat and heat. It wasn't super crowded so it was just perfect going around the island and searching for the animals.

Hallett Cove, Rocky Beach 

Declaring it a beach day on the second day. Visited all the famous beaches in Adelaide. We mostly stayed and chill hearing the sea breeze. It was too hot at that time for us to head into the water as well. It so hot that the water itself is warm. I kid you not. You can't even walk barefoot on the sandy beach because it'll hurt you.



Glenelg Beach

This was my favourite beach and town. We stop by here for about 2 hours to get ice cream, chill around the jetty as well. There were so many things going on in this area. There were amusement part, museums for vintage swimwear and even dolphin watch. Also, there this jetty where people were just jumping down pretty similar to cliff jumping. My friends tried it but since I did not bring any extra clothes so I did not do it.

If you are there, do it! Its cooling and fun and kinda thrilling for awhile. We took a walk around the town after getting gelato passing by the amusement park as well.



It also my favourite beach in Adelaide. It has the right amount of crowd, the environment and a town nearby where you can get food and chill around with a beach view.

Adelaide Central Business District (CBD)

Finally entering the CBD for dinner after a whole day of strolling beaches and trekking. Really took all my energy away and I haven't gotten the chance to enter the city area yet. Well, the city is definitely less happening than Melbourne or Sydney but it's definitely not as crowded so you don't get the busy city feel.




DAY 3

Dolphin Explorer, Port Adelaide

Our flight to Brisbane was in the evening. My final stop was one that I've been waiting for. Searching for Dolphin! This was a two (2) hour cruise and its only $10 AUD. Where can you such a cheap deal to see dolphins. Also, there is no guarantee you'll be able to see them. If thats your lucky day, $10 is definitely worth the shot. You can check them out at their website here.



I was surprise when we were passing by the industrial area and I told my friends no way we have dolphins here. It's too polluted but then I realise, the water here is pretty clean and not as dirty as I thought. I was wrong because we manage to spot dolphins! I was pretty much so excited that I almost forgot to take photo of it. Or at least I was too busy spotting them that I forgot. I only manage to capture this shot of their fins.
Tadaaa ! The only shot I had. Oh wells but i manage to see them so I was really happy the whole day.
After we were done with the cruise, we had lunch and made our way to the airport. This also marks the end of my journey with Adelaide. I do hope to come back soon as there were many other places I have yet to visit. When I do, it'll be in Spring definitely not in Summer anymore. I do really miss Australia, stayed there 3 years of my life. I would seize my next opportunity to visit there again the next time. :)






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