If you, like us, want to escape the city summer heat for the day, head to St Albans. St Albans is only a short drive or train ride away from London and has a beautiful village feel to it.
With a lovely Cathedral to admire and Roman ruins to discover there is actually quite a bit to see. St Albans also has a lovely shopping area and great food on offer, one of the most famous eateries is the Waffle House. Be prepared to que at the Waffle House on the weekend, but once you are in there are savoury and sweet options to choose from. I go for the salted caramel with peacan nuts….ooooo it is yumo!
We walk off our waffles wandering though the Verulamium Park, named for the Roman city outside who’s walls St Albans is built.
Today we are ready to get away from the hustle of the city and so are off on an adventure. We’re in search of a beach so we decide to head to Shek O.
Shek O can be reach via bus from Hong Kong Island, head to Shau Kei Wan Station and take bus 9. The drive it’s self is beautiful with sweeping views of Hong Kong’s shoreline, taking you up and over the Dragon’s Back. For the fit and unafraid there are brilliant hikes along this area.
We alight the bus at its last stop head down to the beach. There are changing rooms, showers, bathrooms and so on. The water is lovely, cool and clear. The beach is beautiful and it feels like a little slice of tranquillity.
We wander through the town and enjoying the winding streets. The look out over the peninsular is beautiful. We decide to have lunch at the café by the roundabout, the food is fresh and yummy.
Shek O might just be my favourite bit of Hong Kong.
The first decision when heading to Hong Kong is whether you are staying on the island or main land. We opt for main land, because the hotel rooms are generally slightly bigger and slightly cheaper. We decided on Butterfly on Pratt due to its easy location, it is on the main land.
First thing to know when you arrive, is transport. At the airport head to the information booth and get an Octopus card. There are ordinary ones which you top up as normal and there are tourist Octopus cards, which include one or two airport line trips and two or three days of travel. The card its self can be exchanged for 100 dollar deposit on leaving. We opt for the three day tourist card and it is well worth the money. The transport system is great, easy to use and very well organised.
We arrive late on our first day and head into Kowloon on the airport train, then make the terrible mistake of thinking that we would be able to walk the short distance from the station rather than try to navigate further trains. Don’t do this. It is not a good idea! Eventually we admit defeat and follow the signs to the transfer bus. This is a free service that runs frequently all days of the week to the big hotels…much better idea.
We spend our first morning an a free walking tour (our fav!) of Hong Kong Island. This is a great tour with lots of interesting information about politics and the current situation in Hong Kong. I definitely recommend this as a great starting point for your trip.
This same group offer a “jump the cue tour” for the Victoria Peak Tram. We take advantage of this, and again I would recommend this, simply because it cut about an hour standing in the sun in a line. The Tram is great, really is something to experience. We then spend almost two hours walking around Victoria Peak enjoying the views, the countryside and the wildlife. There are amazing birds of prey and wild pigs rootling around. This is not what you would expect from Hong Kong…its cool and calm and blissful.
So ends our first foray into Hong Kong. Bring on the rest of the trip!
More information on the Free Walking Tours
“Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong
Hark! now I hear them,—Ding-dong, bell.”
William Shakespeare – The Tempest
Our third and final stop in Australia for this trip is Townsville. It is actually the only Australian stop that we haven’t been to before.
Townsville is in north east Queensland and is humid and tropical. We have the privilege of arriving after the rain so it is looking lovely and green and postcard worthy. The old second of town and strand area is particularly pretty and worth a drive or walk around.
We visit the Palmetum is one of the three botanical gardens in Townsville and is lovely, we spend over an hour wandering around.
Castle Hill is another great spot, head to the top for a great view. If you are fit, try running or walking the trail path.
However, our most favourite spot (aside from the hammock) is Little Crystal Creek Waterfalls. It is a located along Mount Spec Road between Mutarnee and Paluma and it is stunning. Crystal clear water and wonderful landscape. There are BBQ facilities and picnic tables, bathrooms and so on and next time we are definitely taking a picnic. It is a great spot and our highlight.
Elf’s Tip: If you like curry stop at Aalishan’s Indian Restaurant, the food is really fresh and yummy.
First stop on our newest adventure is a return to familiar soil…it is Hervey Bay.
Hervey Bay is part of the Fraser Coast of Queensland, about three and half hours drive from Brisbane. There are buses and the Tilt train, but the easiest option is to drive.
Hervey Bay is famous for Whale watching, I have done this in the past and would highly recommend, however, be aware that the season for this is August – October. Other things to do are mainly the beach, relaxing, and eating! Perfect. If you want great fish and chips head to Madagens.
Head over to Fraser Island to experience something unique. You can catch the ferry of do a tour. The Lakes are beautiful, the wildlife stunning and it is something you will not see any where else in the world… we skipped this, this time…too many school trips.
We recommend Bean Beat if you fancy a yummy coffee and also try Enzo’s on the Beach for a relaxed lunch.