Tag Archives: holiday

One Blurb Book done!

No blog updates for over a week!

No late night TV for over a week!

Wifey and I have been working madly to finish our first Blurb book for our Round the World trip in the summer of 07-08.  We were nearly able to finish 1 city per night, but then we hit Paris and found we had over 1,000 photos to prioritise there alone!

And then came the borders and page backgrounds.  Wifey got really excited and nearly went crazy with them, but I tried to hold her back.  There’s something I really like about clean white crisp pages with photos on them, but Wifey wanted to pull out certain colours from the photo onto the page background. 

We weren’t quite sure what to do about the text though.  On our trip, we did keep a travel diary which started off quite detailed, but started to thin out at the end.  Should we go back and complete the diary now?  Should we include days of activities with the photos for those cities?  Should we just use bullet points?

In the end, we wanted our book to be primarily a photobook/photojournal – the emphasis on photos and some captions if required and we felt 1-2 pages of text might break up the flow.  But I did condense the activities of each day into a 3-4 line paragraph, and we put these at the end of the book for reference.  Each paragraph is a summary of the day’s events.  The full travel diary exists only in electronic form for now.

(By the way, I found it much easier to edit text in Microsoft Word and then copy and paste the whole lot in once done.)

Once the whole book was complete last night, we did a final spell check which picked up a few embarrassing typos.  And then it was upload time to Blurb.  With over 300 pages and roughly 860 photos, we had to leave this overnight.  And then this morning, I checked it and it was all done!  I hope all pages and photos are there without corruption – unfortunately I can’t seem to find a way to check.

So what now?   We have to do the final touches to the Italy trip book, then place our orders!

Camping

Car packed for camping

We went camping on the weekend..  and we froze our butts off!

Yes it was fun!  The kids loved getting back to “nature”, playing in the forest, going on bushwalks, having smo’s on the fire…

But when it came to sleeping time, we freezed all night!  Maybe it was the air mattresses we were on, letting the cold come straight in from the ground (but we did have a groundsheet) but we had to put on extra layers on during the night.  My sleeping bag was rated 5 deg C, but wifey’s was rated -5 deg C and she was still cold.  Next time I’ll have to remember to pack a beanie and get a better sleeping bag, but we wondering if foam mattresses help since the other campers in our group who slept on foam weren’t as cold. 

Wish we could’ve stayed another night to make it worthwhile having packed so much stuff – well, it didn’t seem much, but it just all bulked up.

Here’s what we brought along:

– 4 sleeping bags
– 1 double air mattress, 2 single air matresses for the kids
– 4 pillows
– 1 ground cover
– 1 tent
– 2 camping chairs
– 1 pump, lantern, hammer, torch
– 1 bag of clothes and toiletries
– 4 cold winter jackets
– 1 camera bag with video camera and SLR
– 2 towels
– 2 bags of food, drink, bread rolls, etc

As usual, everytime we go camping we always say to ourselves, why don’t we do this more often?   Am now thinking of when we can do our next trip!

Holidaying at home

Finding our room

With Wifey away on her school tour, I took 2 weeks off to holiday at home with the kids.

One thing that we did that the kids really enjoyed was staying overnight at a hotel in the city.   Hardly any driving, minimal packing, but the kids still got the same excitement of checking in, finding our room and a different environment.

It was great fun!  We checked in on a Friday, went downstairs and walked straight out into the city to go late night shopping.  Came back, the kids had a bath, we had room service dinner in bed whilst watching TV, then next morning we had buffet breakfast and popped back into the city for more walking around and shopping again!

It made me wonder why we haven’t done this before!  Weekend escapes are fun 🙂

Melbourne holiday planning part 2

So we’ve booked our accomodation.  The next thing I usually do is start investigating what we can do once we get there.

And so I looked up Melbourne and Sydney on lastminute.com and tripadvisor, and drew up a list of potential activities for us and the kids – Phillip Island penguins, Great Ocean Road, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Zoo, Collins Street, Lygon Street, St Kilda Beach in Melbourne, the Opera House, Powerhouse Museum, Manly, etc in Sydney…  But then I thought – we pack so much into our lives at home, we live and work by deadlines and checking off things in our Todo list or Inbox.   Do we want our holiday to be the same?

So, I’ll jot down some numbers and addresses of places just in case, but we’re looking to the freedom of walking around aimlessly without ANY commitments!!

[Update]

Great…  so we’re leaving very soon, and yesterday, I’ve come down with a mini flu (cold shivers, headache, nausea) and our 7yo has come down with something bad last night (hot fever, phlegmy cough, lethargy).  Aaargghhhh..   have we been cramming in so much work and life in anticipation of our holiday?   I’m realllly looking forward to that red eye flight….  NOT

[Update 2]

Just browsing the event calendar for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and I saw that Interpreti Venezia have travelled from Venice to perform!  We saw this ensemble in Venice and I’m excited that Australians have the chance to see (and hear) them perform.   Unfortunately it seems many of their shows have already sold out.  More info here:  http://www.melbournefestival.com.au/program/production?id=3384

Melbourne holiday planning part 1

It’s been a little while in the making, but we’re planning a trip to the eastern states with the kids!  So far, we’ve organised the flights (using Frequent Flyer points) and some shows to see.   We know our itinerary of Sydney then Melbourne, but we haven’t booked any accomodation yet.

So, I started up my favourite sites Tripadvisor and Wotif.

Map of search results on Trip Advisor
Map of search results on Trip Advisor

Tripadvisor is an internet community site dedicated to travel reviews.  There are literally thousands of reviews of holidays, locations, hotels, attractions, etc on there by fellow travellers.  You still need to do a bit of research and different people have different experiences, but it’s better than nothing.  I find it a great resource to see what the general feel of the hotel is like.   A few bad reviews doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad – it could be that the traveller expected a much more classy standard when it catered for a cheaper market.   But a large number of negative reviews usually means it’s a place to be careful of.

Map of search results on Wotif
Map of search results on Wotif

Wotif is a last minute accomodation booking site.   I think more and more people are hearing about these types of sites.   I’m not exactly sure how their business model works, but it provides an avenue for hotels to sell off unoccupied rooms at a discounted price.   But I’ve also had an experience where a hotel has said that Wotif actually bought a set number of rooms from the hotel at “warehouse prices” and sells these on, often undercutting the hotel’s cheapest consumer rate itself.  I’d love someone with an insight into this to explain more!

The most frustrating thing I’ve found when looking for rooms is that many hotels and apartments only allow 2 adults and a maximum of 1 child in a single room.   Hello?   We have a family of four – and I’m sure we’re not alone – where are the hotels that allow more?   I know there are some, but how do you find them easily?

It seems that knowing how different sites let you search may help.

Check-in.com.au doesn’t even have a search by number of guests, but it does give detailed information about children/extra guests for the selected hotel.  Wotif.com at least lets you search by type of room, but still not by number of guests.

Tripadvisor.com is not really a discount hotel search engine, but it lets you search for hotels by number of adults.  It’s a start, but you then need to go into each hotel to read the fine print about children.

Lastminute.com.au is one engine that does let you search by number of adults and children and provides good clear information on the bedding configuration.  Expedia also lets you search by adults and kids’ ages too which is good.   Hotels.com unfortunately doesn’t seem to provide detailed information on the bedding configuration.

Another tip is to compare the prices on the discount sites with the actual hotel websites themselves.  For example, it seems that the cheapest rate on the Marriott site is $209 for a room for up to 4 guests (for 7 day advance bookings), but this rate doesn’t seem to show up on any of the discount sites.

Oh well, we’ve now booked the Sydney accomodation, but Melbourne is still to be decided.  Should we stay a bit further out like in St Kilda, and perhaps hire a car, or stay in the CBD?