Matsumoto Town

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This charming and historic city which is cradled by the Japan Alps is Matsumoto. To me this is one of Japan’s finest cosmopolitan cities that still has a rural feel. It has so much to see with its stunning castle, captivating districts and enchanting vistas and could keep me occupied for hours or in fact days.

 

Matsumoto town is the gateway to the Japan alps for skiing and hot springs in the winter and walking in the mountains in the summer. For us, it was a morning at one of Japan’s best preserved famous castles, lunch in the centre of town and the afternoon exploring its surrounding streets.

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After our exciting morning at the Matsumoto Castle, we visited Nawate Street, in Matsumoto town, a small pedestrian zone with lots of small shops and restaurants along the river and then Nakamachi Street which is famous for its old houses with a beautiful white tone.

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20181014_164239As we were wandering around this charming town we met up with many locals out walking their dogs. We soon learned that this activity is a big part of their everyday pastime. They are happy to stop for photo opportunities; in fact they encourage it which is very fine with me being a big dog lover.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours in this lovely town with its beautiful gardens and water features, exceptional architecture and general overall feel of calmness. This location offers a magnificent scenic view of the Northern Japan Alps and a unique cultural experience.

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Vibrant Setting on the Brisbane River.

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After arriving and exploring Southbank Parklands we then took the city catamaran across the Brisbane River to Eagle Street Pier/Riverside which is only a few minutes ride.

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Eagle Street Pier is an iconic waterfront precinct with world-class dining venues and unrivaled views of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge. It is firmly established as one of Brisbane’s favourite food and entertainment destinations with a marvelous variety of eateries. Eagle Street Pier also is the perfect place to meet for drinks or cocktails and is also an ideal place to head for lunch or dinner, thanks to the many cafes and espresso bars

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I have been going to Riverside/Eagle Street Pier for many years and although there are dozens of wonderful places to dine I have chosen George’s Seafood the most. It is a lovely restaurant with fabulous views of the River and the Story bridge, that I am always proud to take my international visitors to

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On the edge of the city center, Eagle Street Pier is a great place to be day or night. During the day you can sit and enjoy the river and people watching and by night the lights from the buildings and the Story Bridge are dazzling.

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One of the best Information Centres is at Eagle Street Pier, where the staff are more than helpful and you can get free brochures, timetables and other information. From here you can choose your direction of travel either upstream or downstream from here, with City Cats arriving/departing every 15 minutes carrying commuters and tourists from around the world by day and night. Riverside centre is also the place to see the famous ‘Kookaburra Queen’ paddle steamers which offer morning tea, lunch and dinner cruises. This is another wonderful experience that I have shared many times with my overseas visitors.

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This vibrant exciting precinct is a fantastic place to visit at any time of the day or night.

 

 

Beach Paradise in the City – Southbank Parklands.

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On this beautiful sunny winters day I took the bus from my home in to Southbank Parklands. It is easy enough for me to drive and only takes about 20 minutes but arriving by bus is so stress free for me. I can enjoy a glass of wine with my lunch and not worry about driving. Southbank is easy to get to regardless of your mode of transport. There is always lots of parking if you choose to drive or if you take public transport there is the choice of arriving by train, bus, and ferry or city cat.

South Bank Parklands is Brisbane’s premier lifestyle and cultural destination. Located on the southern banks of the Brisbane River, its 17 hectares of lush parklands, offers world-class eateries, stunning river views and hundreds of delightful events all year

Southbank Parklands is one of my favourite places to take my visitors to explore, swim, dine, and stroll along the river front with Brisbane cityscape backdrops. We go on the Wheel of Brisbane to get an overview of the River, Parklands and Brisbane City

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South Bank is a wonderful public space that was developed after World Expo 88, a place well loved by locals and visitors alike which symbolises the Queensland life style. This relaxing oasis in the middle of the city offers a wonderful man-made beach with crystal clean water and shady park lands that meander through entertainment hubs, restaurants and pubs. Here you will find plenty of picnic and bbq areas, eateries and toilets. South Bank is accessible by two bridges.

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You can walk across the pedestrian bridge from the Botanical Gardens to South Bank or you can walk across the Victoria Bridge. There is also a free city ferry, the city hopper, that will take you from Queen Street or Eagle Street Pier to South Bank. Also, from Southbank, QPAC, is easily accessed. QPAC, Queensland Performing Arts Centre is one of Australia’s leading centres for live performance, including ballet, musicals, stage shows, and opera. We often enjoy dinner or lunch at one of the many restaurants in the area before attending a show at QPAC.

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City Hopper – free ferry

Apart from the stunning views of the city and the river this venue offers something for everyone, swimming at the beach, bike and scooter riding, many restaurants, a gorgeous bougainvillea covered archway, market gardens that are tended by volunteers or just strolling around taking it all in. It is a wonderful place to just sit and people watch.

There are many fabulous ways to spend a day out in Brisbane; Southbank is on the top of my fabulous list. It is a fun, easy and inexpensive way to spend a day in Brisbane.

Natural Botanical Gardens off the Beaten track

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Just a short drive through the hinterland heading west from the Gold Coast or about an hour south of Brisbane, you will find the area of Mt Tamborine. Here in this very pretty location is the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens.  The gardens are 11 hectares in size encompassing a wide variety of roses, magnolias, bromeliads, orchids, camellias, many varieties of Aussie natives and so much more. The gardens include a glorious lake as the centrepiece, a tranquil Japanese garden and a tropical rain forest.

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There are many easy walks which along with the vast gardens are maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Volunteers have been working on these gardens for over 30 years and have done a fantastic job.  It seems, wherever I go now days, in Australia or internationally I run into volunteers who are always committed to their chosen areas.

Just walking around these charming gardens is so peaceful. There are picnic tables and bbq areas with shelter if it rains and seats that over look the central lake. There are clean toilets close by to the picnic areas.  The gardens, which offer free entry, are well signaged plus there are maps available to aid in getting around. The atmosphere is amazing and the natural plants combined with Rain Forests areas are unique

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They are not big botanic gardens but they have a very nice feel with enough short themed tracks to give a good sample of the beautiful greenery in the area. We loved venturing though the Sooty Owl walk. The rain-forest board walks and rocky bridge are something different and unique to any other botanic gardens I have been to.

They are beautifully laid out gardens with many plants indigenous to the area. We found it to be easy walking around the lake which has a sculpture of a big dragonfly in the middle.

These delightful botanical gardens are a must-see for anyone who is in the area. We were happy to put a little donation in one of several donation boxes.  It was an enjoyable morning exploring the gardens which are maintained by volunteers.

Wonderful Experience with the Camels

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About a 45 minute drive south west from Brisbane in the beautiful Scenic Rim is the Summerland Camel Farm at Harrisville.

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When we arrived at the Camel farm there were camels everywhere standing directly in front of beautiful mountains and landscapes in this very pretty location. It clearly was a very peaceful home for these graceful creatures.

After a quick visit to the farm house and café we met up with Jeff the director who took us on a guided tour of the farm, the camels and the dairy operation. It was so enjoyable learning about the history of this amazingly successful venture from such a passionate and knowledgeable person. I truly was not aware of how beneficial these lovely creatures are. These very inquisitive and friendly animals were comfortable with us getting up close to them. It was a very hot day when we were there however with the trees and breeze it was surprisingly very pleasant and very interesting to learn that camels are so clean that there were no flies.

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The owners have over 30 years of experience in biodynamic holistic farming techniques and land regeneration to build a resilient farm eco-system without the use of chemicals, insecticides or pesticides. They care for their camels with world first low stress handling techniques to minimise stress, ensure the herd structure is respected and the mother and calf bond is maintained throughout. Their herd is loved and nurtured by a team lead by one of the world’s leading Camel Veterinarians using holistic health care techniques. Most of their camels are brought in from the wild in Central Australia, where they would otherwise be inhumanely culled.

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After our tour, which I could have enjoyed for much longer, we returned to the lovely country farm house which overlooks the camel paddocks and Flinders Range in the Distance. This is where we sampled the camel milk which was really pleasant and has so many incredible benefits. We learned that Camel milk is harder to harvest than cow’s milk, however it has properties worth the price, which is about 9 times what you pay for cow’s milk at the supermarket.
They are also producing cheese, Camel milk skin and hair care products, and Gelato which is simply scrumptious. I left there with some of their delicious camel milk and feta cheese.

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Up until this day I always thought that Camels originally came from the middle east or even Africa. Do you know where they actually originated? Unless you already know, you will be surprised.

Canada!!!

A visit to Summerland Camel farm was a fantastic way to spend a day out. All you could ever want to know about Camels, camel farming and the products that are produced from their milk you will learn here. This is an experience that I could recommend to everyone and anyone.

A Day with the Deer at Nara Park, Japan

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Nara Park is a large park in central Nara. This beautiful park engulfs within its premises shrines, temples, gardens, and deer. Established in 1880, it is the location of many of Nara’s main attractions including Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, Kofukuji and Nara National Museum.

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The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Nara’s nearly 1200 deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated as a natural treasure. You can feed them with the crackers that you can buy from the vendors in the park. We paid 150jpy for a bag of about 8 crackers. Be prepared to be surrounded by a lot of them once you start feeding them. One of them stole my banana which was really quite funny.

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The park is huge, free to get in and full of deer. Yes, there is a musk smell and you still have to be wary of a wild animal but it is beautiful. You can touch the deer and take photos with them without any fear of aggression. Nara’s deer are surprisingly tame, they really are very comfortable being around humans, probably because they do it every day.

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As with most attractions in Japan, very well organized and of course, extremely clean.
We enjoyed seeing the deer and interacting with them. As with the Miyajima Island, you need to be careful not to let them get too aggressive. I was nipped on the back a few times and they tugged on my clothes to get attention but I was never hurt nor frightened by them. In fact, I found them to be charming and lots of fun. They bow their head every time they ask for food and bow after the food for respect just like the people of Japan

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It was such a fun morning mingling with the deer and also visiting the shrines, temples and enjoying the lovely gardens.

Eumundi Markets – Sunshine Coast of Qld.

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Located about 20 kilometres from Noosa in the hinterland village of Eumundi you will find these premier artisan markets which are held every Wednesday and Saturday. Eumundi markets are only about an hour and a half drive from Brisbane so you could easily enjoy a day trip.

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We parked in the exclusive markets parking area for $5 for the day and then it was only a 2 minute walk to the actual markets.  As we walked in the entrance from the parking area, there was a tent set up with live indigenous music playing which added a great vibe to the atmosphere.

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The Eumundi Market is one of the most popular markets on the Sunshine coast and has been a twice weekly event for many years. With over 200 stalls, you will find a range of quality goods including artworks, paintings, furniture, handbags and shoes, clothing, home wares and skincare, as well as fashion and jewellery created by local designers. You will find just about anything appealing to different tastes and money.

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Many people come to the Eumundi Market for the fabulous food. Here you will find a wide variety. The choice is excellent which can make the decision making a little more difficult, however we were very pleased with our selections. We also managed time out for a coffee break – the coffee was exceptional.

There are few markets that can complete with the Eumundi markets due to the vast number and variety of stalls. Whether it’s clothing, or cosmetics, or accessories, or craft or … well pretty much whatever … the markets are likely to have it. There is something for everyone. You can spend hours strolling around here. There are toilets on site and dogs on a leash are welcome. You will find plenty of shady spots to stop for a rest  Be sure to take a hat and water, and remember to wear sunscreen as it is out in the open and can be very hot.

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When you need a shopping break, duck across the road to the Imperial Hotel for a cold glass of something that takes your fancy. When we were there, it was a very hot day so a nice cold locally made beer went down very well for me.

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This majestic Queenslander has been welcoming locals and tourists since its opening in 1911. The Imperial hotel with its sweeping verandahs and tasteful decor, overlooks the leafy main street of the town’s creative community.  A wonderful spot to sit back, people watch and enjoy the fabulous atmosphere. And, a fantastic finale to a super day in Eumundi.

Marvellous Mooloolaba – Beautiful Beach, Awesome Atmosphere

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Only about a minute walk from our apartment in Kings Beach was the bus stop for the local bus. The bus service on the Sunshine Coast was so good that once we arrived we parked the car in the garage and either walked everywhere or took the local bus. On two occasions we took the bus to Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba is a suburb and tourist resort township on the the Sunshine Coast about 97 kilometres north of Brisbane. It took us about 40 mins on the bus from Kings Beach to arrive in the heart of this beachside town.

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Our first place to stop when we arrived in Mooloolaba was the Wharf Mooloolaba which is a café and restaurant precinct where you will also find Sea Life Sunshine Coast and the magical Underwater World. The entire place was alive with people, young and old, families, locals and visitors. Only a few minutes’ walk from the Wharf is the beach and beachfront strip.

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We wandered along the grassy bank which runs along the top of the sandy beach overlooking the surf and breathtaking views of the coastline from Noosa to Point Cartwright. All along this grass area there are picnic tables and facilities and just metres away there is Mooloolaba’s glamorous beachfront esplanade with great selection of outdoor cafes and alfresco restaurants.

On our first visit to Mooloolaba we chose a restaurant on the esplanade with outside tables overlooking the beach, for our lunch. Déjà vu was the name of it, and we had the most delightful young lady from Hawaii for our waitress. Our meals were excellent.

This patrolled sweeping crescent of coastline is a perfect family beach stretching from the surf beach around to the calmer waters of the spit.

On our second visit we met up with friends at the Mooloolaba Surf Club for lunch. This iconic destination is located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with its own magnificent views up and down the coastline. The windows from the dining room were open allowing the sights, sounds and ocean air to create a relaxed, vibrant and truly seaside atmosphere.

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The meals were really good, offering a great selection and very well priced considering the luxurious location.

Several hours later, we were back on the bus heading south to our apartment in Kings Beach.

Mooloolabla is a fabulous place for a beach holiday.

Nowhere in the world is quite like Mooloolaba!

Easter in Coffs Harbour

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Spending time with my family for Easter is a must for me. Spending time on my favourite beach at Easter is the frosting on the cake.

After arriving in Coffs and settling in, I can hardly wait to return to this beautiful beach at Charlesworth Bay.

This place has it all apart from the crowds. And now that the local council has made the area taboo for camping it is back to it’s beautiful, pristine and serene place to enjoy.

This morning on the beach, apart from Buddy and I there were 4 paddle boarders out in the surf.

Wishing you all a lovely Easter break.

Kings Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.

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After living in Brisbane for 30 + years, it was time to explore the sunshine coast of Qld. I have been visiting the northern end of the Sunshine coast, like Noosa, for years however I had not spent any time on the southern part of the coast. So, we booked an apartment through AirBnB and drove the 90 minutes up to Kings Beach, Caloundra.


20190408_140358Kings beach is very much a small beach community as well as a tourist destination with everything to suit most budgets and holiday types. This coastal town provides a beautiful ocean beach and fantastic beachside ocean pool plus great walking tracks, fantastic restaurants, cafes and shops along the boardwalk.

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It is the perfect spot for all ages. Here you will find a great surf beach which is patrolled, an ocean swimming pool, play areas, water fountains, picnic areas and clean bbq areas, fantastic takeaway food, cafes and restaurants and a brilliant boardwalk by the ocean. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly

We discovered the ‘Coffee Cat’ cafe on our first day and it immediately became our favourite “local” place. The first afternoon we sat outside near the beach enjoying a cold glass of wine listening to a young man playing his guitar and singing. We stopped by in the mornings for a great cup of coffee

Often, we walked some distance along the stunning boardwalk that hugs the shoreline. Despite the heat there was always a cool sea breeze, and a ‘happy vibe’ everywhere with strangers saying ‘hi’ or giving a friendly nod.

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Each morning and afternoon we spent time in the most beautiful free ocean pool.  There was always a friendly bunch of people there who walked, bathed and swam and chatted in this most delightful ocean pool.  This pool was so clean and well used by locals and tourists. It has some shading and plenty of change areas and showers close by.

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Close to this pool there are two large rock pools with gentle waves flowing in to them that you can swim in also. Exploring rock pools at the beach has always been one of my very favourite things to do, and here at Kings Beach we got to do this every day. It was always fun, interesting and a lovely way to relax and enjoy.

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This was a perfect and very easy mini holiday.

Kings Beach at Caloundra has everything you could want and a stroll along the boardwalk is a wonderful way to end the day.

International visitors – In Australia, always swim on a beach patrolled by life savers and swim only in between the yellow and red flags.