Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hiking the Battlefields of Gallipoli



Our "Turkey Active" tour with Intrepid included hiking the battlefields of Gallipoli. "Hike" may be a stretch, I would say the word "walk" would be more fitting.

As we drove to our starting point, we were joined by a local Turkish guide that explained the story of Gallipoli, a story we have heard plenty of times during our schooling. Expect this story told form the Turkish perspective, which was interesting to hear given our Australian upbringing.  He explained the Ottoman empire's involvement and how they were lured to the German's side by the promise of ships.



Our walk was three hours, and although the terrain wasn't hard the scorching sun made it difficult (we did our trip in July last year, the peak of summer). As we walked, our guide told us about how the ANZACs had arrived on the wrong cove and pointed out on a map what the original plan had been. He pointed out trenches and we all took it in shock, as we realised that it was barely a metre (now a road) between the Turkish and Australian trenches. The most emotional thing for me that day was reading the headstones, inscribed with heartbreaking messages to lost husbands, sons, fathers and brothers.


We ended the day, snorkeling the waters of ANZAC cove.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Travel Guide: 24 Hours in Western Sydney!

There are many tourist guides for what to do and see in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, but what about the in-between? Taking cue from today's Boots N All challenge, I present my 24 hour guide to Western Sydney:

8am:

A bright and early start. Head to the nearest supermarket and pack a picnic lunch to take with you.

9am - 2pm:

Start your adventure at Featherdale Wildlife park in Doonside. It is conveniently located near Doonside train station, so easily accessible by public transport. I love taking friends and family from overseas here as it gives them a chance to not only see Australia's local wildlife, but to interact with them too! Cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, pet a wombat. That's all possible here.



2pm - 6pm:

Lunch time! Walk over to Nurranginy Reserve and enjoy your packed picnic lunch. After lunch you can either relax and unwind in the park or, if you have the energy, go for a bushwalk.


6pm- to however long you want the night to last pm



Walk back to Doonside station and catch the train to Parramatta, Western Syndey's CBD. From here, walk over to Church St. Church St is lined with restaurants, so take your pick!

This was only one of many options of activities to do in Western Sydney. There are plenty of parks, attractions, activities and restaurants to explore and try. Its not all suburbs between the mountains and city, so don't dismiss this area.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Recipe: Rocket, Feta and Mushroom Pizza (with a yogurt base!)

Super easy and healthy pizza recipe.




Ingredients

Pizza Dough

1 cup natural Greek yogurt
1 cup sifted plain flour
1 tablespoon rosemary
Salt (to taste)

Sauce

1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon mixed herbs
salt and pepper (to taste)

Topping

1 cup, thinly slice mushroom
1/2 cup crushed feta
1 cup rocket
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Chilli flakes (optional)

Method

1. Fold together all the dough ingredients in a bowl, making sure its all incorporated well. Set aside for 20-30 minutes in a warm place.
2. Mix together all the sauce ingredients.
3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, Celsius
3.  Roll out dough, as desired. I prefer it thin. Sprinkle it with flour if its too sticky to handle.
4. Place dough on baking tray and bake for ten minutes.
5. After baking and allow it to cool slightly, then spread sauce. Sprinkle the toppings (bar the rocket). Bake for another 30 minutes.
6. Once out of the oven, sprinkle rocket and serve!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'll Take You To The Grocery Store

Food is, for most travellers, a big part of the fun of travelling. And its pretty common when travelling to encounter "strange" food. I believe there are two categories of "strange" food: 1) Things (mostly, animals) that we wouldn't consider food e.g. frogs legs, animal embryos and insects, or 2) Strange because its different or new.

Eggs, Switzerland


It is category 2 which makes visiting supermarkets, grocery stores etc overseas so fun. People often think I'm being sarcastic when I say I could spend ages in a supermarket overseas (maybe you yourself are thinking, wow, this girl is a bore), but I love wandering the food aisles and seeing the different foods and the varied flavors they come in. And, of course, while I'm wandering the aisles, I'm throwing into my basket any food that looks interesting and not like something back home. And sometimes it's as basic as a strange flavour of chips or drink that I'll quickly become addicted to, and then miss when I come back home.

Fruits, Sri Lanka


Don't get me wrong, I'm usually keen to try foods that fall into catergory 1 (eating frogs legs and escargot in Paris is proof of that) but foods in catergory 2 aren't ones that are pushed on tourists. They normally aren't anything to write home about (and by that I mean post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram). But they may make you feel like you've experienced a bit of everyday life in the country that you are visiting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Packing: My 7 Essentials for Hostel Hopping

Hostel hopping is often synonymous with backpacks and limited luggage space. And with space so limited, you want to ensure that everything you pack is essential. So to celebrate Day 7 of the Boots'n'All "packing" theme, here are seven little things that won’t take up too much space that you will be grateful that you packed.

Travel towel

Second time going to Europe, I purchased a small micro fiber towel from a sporting goods store, and I actually fell in love with it while travelling. Not only is it compact but it is impressively effective at drying you (so much so that I wanted to use it post travels). You will especially grateful that you packed this when you realise many hostels don’t provide you with towels/charge you for hire.

Travel lock

You are going to be sharing rooms with strangers, this will give you some peace of mind when leaving your bags while you are out.

Card game

A pack of cards barely takes up any space and is so cheap you can ditch it when packing for the return trip. Cards can have two uses:
1) Bonding tool with people you meet in your hostel or tour group. Most travellers can recount a time where they spent a night bonding over a game of cards (Usually a game that also involves alcohol. Kings cup, anyone?).
2) Aiding in fighting boredom during long trips. Long bus/train/plane/car trips are often a part of travelling and a deck of cards can help make that journey a little more pleasant.
When I went to Europe this year, instead of deck cards I took Cards Against Humanity (which I downloaded for free here). It's a politically incorrect, hilarious game that is easy to play and is a quick way to create “in-jokes” with a new group of people.

Power supply

Cameras, phones, ipods, laptops, tablets. The list of electrical devices travellers are packing are ever increasing and they all need juicing up. Majority of the time hostel rooms will not have enough powerpoints for you and all your roomies to charge their things. You and your roomies will be grateful that you thought ahead.

Safety pins

Multipurpose. While travelling I have used safety pins as replacement buttons, as a keyring for hostel keys, to alter clothing and to hold together bags and clothes that didn't fully survive the journey.

Ziplock bags

Again multipurpose. Originally purchased as a cheaper and smaller alternative to space bags but I soon discovered that it was also for useful for organising my bag- separating my dry clothes from wet and clean from dirty.

Washing powder

You are not always going to have access to washing facilities or want to spend your money on washing. However, you will have free access to a sink. This is an item that people might question as being necessary as you can buy it anywhere, but this way you can take a small amount in a ziplock bag rather than buying a box whilst overseas.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How to Condition Yourself to Sleep on Transport

The theme of Day 4 in the Boots'N'All challenge is "Overland Travel". It encouraged us to share our best overland travel story. And although I've had my fair share of overland travel (vans, buses, ferries, tuk tuks, cars etc), the stories aren't too epic as I have been asleep for most of the journey! I'm one of the lucky ones that through my travels have been conditioned to fall asleep as soon as I begin on a long journey. And yes, it may mean that I may miss the occasional view or sight, but most of the time I am lucky enough to have thoughtful travel companions to wake me so that I can marvel on any passing wonders, such as crossing into a new country or (as was the case in Turkey) a field of sunflowers.



So, I'm going to share my breakdown of how I conditioned myself to fall asleep on long distance transport (obviously this is a guide made jest and not based in science):

- Being a child that was prone to motion sickness, I developed a fear of getting sick on long distance transport. Because of this fear, I think the extreme sleepiness I was faced with upon settling into my seat acted as a defence mechanism. If I'm asleep, I can't get sick.
- This fear also meant that I now pop a pill to prevent motion sickness 30 mins before any long trip. Now, I don't know if these pills actually cause drowsiness but the placebo effect works a treat!
- I ensure that I wear plenty of layers. They keep me warm in overly air conditioned buses or vans. And they are easily removed if it gets too hot.
- I have the same routine when I get on long distance transport. Do a quick scan/exploration of the area (e.g. Check out what entertainment is available. Like it matters, I'll be snoozing soon anyway.), pop in my earphones, and close my eyes (eye mask for overnight travel) and wait for sleep. Repeat this process every long trip and hopefully your body gets the idea!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 2: The Travel Bug

I am participating in the Boots N All 30 day blog challenge. Today the question they posed was:

When, where, what, and with who is the story of your travel origin?  

I don't think I can pinpoint an exact moment because with most of my extended family living in Sri Lanka, I have been lucky enough to have been a "traveller" since I was a baby. Visiting Sri Lanka with my family every 3-4 years definitely roused my interest in travel. Each trip, even though it was to the same country, would hold new wonders. Whether that be discovering different cultural norms and trends or visiting a new area of the country.

However, I developed the true travel bug upon planning my first trip (i.e. not a family planned trip). And that was my first trip to Europe with my high school best friend (details of which can be found in earlier posts) in 2012. Since then the travel bug has been raging. Soon after my return I was determined the Greek islands would be next. And sure enough the next July I was dancing on the beaches of Greece (although there was a trip to Thailand between those European Adventures).

And the travel bug isn't exclusively (temporarily) cured with trips overseas, but discovering more of Australia, even Sydney, satiates it. Since the travel bug has taken over I have been driven to discover waterfalls, new beaches, hiking trails, islands etc, all in the place I call home.


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