russian-sauna

Getting whipped and other massages around the world.

I had a lovely relaxing massage this week and while I was lying there in contented bliss I thought about some of the not so relaxing massages that I’ve had in my travels. I do love a massage and in some countries where they are nice and cheap I’ve been known to have one every day. But, they haven’t all been that relaxing – over the years I’ve had everything from being whipped with a bundle of twigs to being pummelled by a beefy, hairy giant and having a blind woman trying to tear my limbs off. Here are some of my most interesting massages that I’ve had in my travels… Read more

kayak-swamp-new-orleans

Travel highlights of 2016.

Last year wasn’t a big travelling year for me compared to recent years, but I did have a good excuse – I created (with the help of my wife) a new little traveller. Rosalie left the departure lounge on the 25th January – although she didn’t get her passport until she was 10 weeks old. We still did manage to get in a trip overseas and a few local trips. So, without further ado here are my Top Ten Travel Highlights from 2016: Read more

local-cocktails

A grasshopper walks into a bar…

…and the bartender looks at him in surprise and says, ‘We have a drink named after you!’ The grasshopper looks even more surprised and says, ‘You have a drink named Kevin!’

On my recent trip to New Orleans I had a ‘Grasshopper’ cocktail at the bar that it was invented in. I was in Tujagues Bar in the French Quarter where, in the 1920s, the owner Philbert Guichet threw together equal parts green Crème de menthe, white Crème de cacao and cream to create the now famous cocktail. Philbert entered the drink to a recipe contest in New York in 1928 and was awarded second place, but it didn’t become popular until the 1950s when the sweet drink became the housewife’s favourite at cocktail parties. Read more

10-best-graves-and-graveyards

The dead centre of the city.

I’m not a taphophile (someone with a love of funerals, graves and cemeteries), but I do like visiting a good cemetery or graveyard when I travel. I’ve just recently come back from a trip to the States where a spent a few days in New Orleans and while I was there I went to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. It’s the oldest cemetery (1833) in the city, but that wasn’t the motivation for my visit – I’d seen it in a movie. The movie was ‘Double Jeopardy’ and in a big scene from the film Ashleigh Judd ran all around the cemetery before she got locked in one of the large above-ground tombs (the tombs are above ground because the locals learnt the hard way that the dearly departed had the annoying habit of floating up to the surface during heavy rain). And there were certainly enough bodies to float around – the cemetery houses over 100,000 bodies in just one square block. Read more

exotic-wedding-destinations

The 10 most exotic places to get married.

This weekend I’m going to a wedding in a zoo in Wisconsin. That’s a sentence I’ll probably never say again. I love a ‘destination’ wedding and what’s not to like about celebrating nuptials with an African pygmy hedgehog and a striped skunk on the shores of Lake Michigan (oh, and it’s not the hedgehog and skunk getting married). I’ve had quite a few friends who have got married overseas (I’ve even had two myself – Switzerland and Minnesota). They’ve tied the knot from everywhere to a beach in Bali, a park in Paris and an Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas. There are certainly some stunning spots around the globe to get hitched, but if you want to really impress your friends these ten places will get lots of bragging rights (and some mightily impressive wedding photos)… Read more

the-ten-best-apres-ski-bars

Curling and other extreme après ski fun.

Last week I had an après ski drink at the Frying Pan Inn at Falls Creek. It brought back fond (and I have to admit – somewhat hazy) memories, because it was at the Frying Pan where I had my first ever après ski drink – after my first ever day on the slopes. It was so exciting to walk down through the snow to the pub then drink like crazy and dance like crazy then stagger and slip your way back to the lodge through the snow. You really feel like you have earned a drink after a big day of skiing – and it seems everyone else thinks the same and is out to celebrate. Aprés-ski endurance is almost as impressive as your ability on the slopes.

I would have had over 600 days of skiing in my life – and almost as many nights of après ski fun (I have snuck in a few quiet nights here and there). Admittedly I can’t quite remember a few of them, but here are my 10 favourite après ski experiences: Read more

10-great-war-sites

War tourism.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Somme. It was the biggest battle of World War I and 485,000 allied (mostly British and French) and 630,000 German troops were killed. It also makes it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. After four months of fighting the Allied forces penetrated a mere 10 kilometres into German-occupied territory. I went to Somme (no, not during the war, I’m not that old) a few years back to visit the Australian cemetery, the Trenches Museum and (what’s left of) a few of the trenches. It’s actually quite amazing how many war related ‘tourist’ sites there are to visit in the world (possibly because the world has had too many wars). I’ve been to quite a few. Some are moving beyond words while others demonstrate the futility of war. Here are the 10 most interesting and poignant sites that I have been to: Read more

worlds-greatest-religious-monuments

Top 10 religious monuments.

I’m not a religious man, but oh my gosh do those religious folks make some damn fine monuments. And not only are these often spectacular monuments to a higher being a must-see part of many an itinerary, I have even gone totally out of my way to visit them – from Bagan in Burma to Borobudur in Indonesia. Here are my 10 favourite tributes to the Gods – divided up by religion: Read more

silver-service-waiter-london

Fence putter-upperer and other jobs overseas.

Have you ever run out of money while travelling and had to find work (as in any work) so that you can keep travelling – or simply just to feed yourself? When I returned to London after travelling around Europe on my first Big Trip Overseas I desperately needed cash (I had around $50 in my pocket) and scraped around for anything that resembled work, but I have also worked while I’ve been travelling for some extra cash (or extra beer money more specifically). It’s amazing – and a bit frightening – the jobs you will do for cash. I have done a whole bunch of jobs that I had no idea what I was doing, from plastering and house building to tree surgery and fence putter uppering (not sure if that is the recognised name of that occupation). Still, it could have been worse. A friend of mine got a job as a nude male model for a sculpture class in Denmark. The class of beautiful Danish women would do things like measure his inside thigh and he said that he would have to imagine his parents being killed in a horrible car accident so that he didn’t get, um, too excited.

Here are my eight worst (or best!) jobs that I’ve managed to bluff my way through: Read more

Are-we-born-to-travel?

Are we born to travel?

I always wonder if I hadn’t been unceremoniously dumped by my then girlfriend many moons ago would I have still done the Big Trip Overseas (or more like the Big Escape Overseas)? If we had stayed together there was a chance that I would have settled down and maybe not travelled at all. Although my girlfriend had very little interest in travel, would I have travelled eventually? Was travelling in my blood? There are many people who never feel the urge to leave their cosy home. They are more than happy growing up in the same place and sitting on the same couch (with the occasional upgrade) for the rest of their lives. And then there are the people who seem to be born with a wanderlust and who can’t seem to stay put for too long. Am I a born wanderluster? Read more