The 10 best markets in the world

When I visit a new city or town one of the first places I hunt down is the local market. And it’s not because I’m on a hunt for great bargains, but because they are often a great insight into the people and culture of the place. Some markets are major tourist attractions like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul or Melbourne’s own Queen Victoria Market, but some of my favourite travel experiences have been wandering around ‘local’ markets without a tourist in sight. I have been to hundreds of markets around the world from Irkutsk in Siberia to Port-au-Prince in Haiti and whether the market is full of food, trinkets, clothes or even camels I can spend hours wandering around. It wasn’t easy choosing, but these are my Top 10 markets that I have toddled around: Read more


The 10 best desserts in the world.

I love desserts – and after pigging out this recent holiday season on cheesecake and pavlova and a gingerbread house made entirely of chocolate, so does my waistline. But it’s not just in the holiday season that my sweet tooth has its way. I have savoured and salivated over countless desserts in my travels and have even gone totally out of my way to satisfy my love for the perfect pudding. This blog took me a while because I started to write a list of my Top Ten desserts from around the world, but half way though I had to rush out and buy a cheesecake… Read more


Christmas with George Michael.

A few years back I spent Christmas day with George Michael. Really, I did. Well, with George Micheal and a couple of thousand other skiers on the Les Diablerets glacier in Switzerland. Coming from balmy Australia I wanted my first ever Christmas away from home to be a white Christmas, so I had booked a ski chalet in Les Diablerets for me and 15 drunken Aussie and Kiwi backpackers who I shared a house with in London. Mind you, only six of us actually skied on Christmas day because the rest were too hungover after drinking all night on Christmas eve.

On Christmas morning we wrapped ourselves in tinsel and caught a jam-packed cable car up to the glacier. George Michael, however, didn’t bother with that cable car caper – he got dropped off in a helicopter. The cable car queue was horrendous because nearby resorts had no snow (including Verbier, where George Michael was probably staying), so people were being bussed in from miles away to Les Diablerets, which had glacier skiing. George Michael wasn’t hard to spot amongst the masses, though. He was wearing a fluorescent pink one piece ski suit (it was the 80s!).

I didn’t have my Christmas lunch with George, however. I don’t think that he would have been happy sitting on the floor of a crowded mountain restaurant eating frankfurters and chips.

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A bad night’s sleep.

On my recent trip to Queensland I stayed for a night at my brother’s house in Hervey Bay. I was up there for his birthday party and, although it was a fun party, I had a terrible night’s sleep. That’s because the other interstate visitors had arrived earlier than me and got first dibs on the spare beds leaving me with the couch. Actually, I had the choice of two couches, but one was just about in the middle of the party (which was still going on when I was ready for bed). The other couch was in the second lounge room, which wasn’t quite as noisy, but it was even shorter than my diminutive stature, so I spent a very restless night firstly listening to drunken and rowdy singalongs, then tossing and turning trying to get comfortable. And finally when I’d just got comfortable the sun came up and bathed the room in bright light. This, by the way, was something like 4.00 in the morning because Queenslanders don’t have daylight savings because it fades their curtains. Read more


Adventures on and in the water.

A couple of weeks back, while I was up in Noosa in Queensland, I tried out stand up paddle boarding for the first time. My old college friend John just happens to be a stand up paddle board teacher (so I got a free lesson), but it was mostly because I was on a ‘holiday’ that I did it. There are stand up paddle boarding classes and hire only a ten minute drive from my home, but it’s amazing how often you try something new when you are travelling or on holiday. And stand up paddle boarding isn’t the only water based activity that I tried for the first time when I have been away. In fact, there’s quite a list of activities from the serene to the ridiculous: Read more


The world’s best sporting events.

The AFL (Australian Rules Football) finals are in full swing here and we are only 10 days away from what I think is one of the greatest sporting events in the world – the AFL Grand Final (although my team didn’t make the finals, so not as grand as I’d like). And yes, I may be a little biased being bred on footy in Melbourne, but it definitely is up there with the best sporting events that I’ve been to around the globe. Read more


How Pan Am inspired me to travel.

What first inspired you to travel? Was it exotic far-off lands you read about in a book or saw in a film? Or was it from watching Gilligan’s Island?  For me it was a board game. The Game was called Pan American World Jet Flight Game, which had the tagline ‘Pilot a Jet Clipper to all the continents of the world.’ Read more


My 30 year love affair.

It was 30 years ago this winter that I first clicked into a pair of skis, and from that very first incredibly scary green run at Falls Creek in Victoria, Australia I fell head over heels in love – although there was more head over heels than love in that first week. Since then I have skied over 500 days, at 28 different resorts in 9 different countries. My love affair became an addiction – and an expensive one at that! Read more


Brian and Jasmine. Who will be the sole survivor?

Okay, I have to admit up front that I’m a fan of the American reality TV show Survivor. I haven’t watched all 29 seasons, but I have watched quite a few. So, when I discovered that you could actually stay on the island (off the coast of Borneo) from the first ever season of Survivor (where Richard Hatch, the naked gay guy won), we had to go. I just hoped that I didn’t have to vote my own daughter off.  Read more


Monkeys and scorpions and snakes. Oh my.

It’s Part Two of our Dad and Daughter Great adventure in Borneo and, after our first few days that were jam-packed with adventurous pursuits, we spent some time with a whole bunch of cute, weird and scary critters and creepy crawlies. We met them all in Sepilok, which is five hours by bus from Kota Kinabalu. Our main reason for visiting Sepilok was to see the orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, but in our three days there we got to meet a whole menagerie of creatures: Read more