If you are taking the family for a holiday to California, a side trip away from Los Angeles to the beautiful city of San Diego is definitely worth considering. Just a two hour drive (depending on traffic) from Los Angeles, this city has so much to offer for families.
San Diego has made the itinerary on a few of our USA holidays and on our most recent visit in 2018 we included a four night stay. Here are just five of the attractions that drew us back to include San Diego in our family travels.
1. Explore Old Town
Located just 33 kms from Tijuana, Mexico, San Diego’s Old Town has a great Mexican Wild West flavour. This neighbourhood, along with being a good base to find a hotel for your visit, has plenty to offer as far as dining and entertainment go.
In the historic park you can stroll the Victorian Village with restored homes dating back to the early 1800’s, visit the old style saloon and general store, climb aboard a wagon and visit the Sheriff’s Museum.
When you are hungry there are a myriad of restaurants - mostly Mexican cuisine - that will serve up some flavoursome favourites of nachos and guacamole to be washed down with a margarita!
2. Visit Balboa Park
Balboa Park is a central hub of activity for families visiting San Diego, celebrating 150 yeas in 2018 there is 1,200 acres to explore. Apart from housing the famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park contains some 16 museums along with acres of parklands, gardens, trails and historical buildings providing something for everyone in one central spot.
The range of museums available alone will keep you busy, they include the Automotive Museum, Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum and Museum of Art to name a few. Purchase a day pass for access to up to five museums, or a multi-day pass for access to all 16.
If you have nice weather, walk the trails of the Japanese Friendship Garden or one of the many other trails that weave you through both the botanical and other specialty gardens. There is even an Australian garden to explore! And if you don’t want to walk look out for the free Park Tram, the bright green tram will get you where you need to go or even just a great ride to explore the enormity of the park.
3. Spend a Day at SeaWorld San Diego
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, a visit to SeaWorld San Diego is a whole day out. During summer the park opens at 10am and closes at 10pm and trust me when I say there is plenty to do to fill a 12 hour visit.
A sea animal themed park, SeaWorld offers roller coasters for the thrill seekers, aquariums to get up close and personal with sharks as well as fun and fascinating dolphin, orca and sea lion shows for some light entertainment.
A family that loves roller coaster we timed our trip well being able to try out the latest attraction to be added to the park, the Electric Eel. The tallest, fastest roller coaster in San Diego, Master 11 and Miss 8 loved the loops and speed of this ride. It was our first stop of the day and then we capped off our 11 hour visit with the Electric Eel as the finale of the night.
For those less adventurous with younger children this summer has seen the launch of the Sesame Street Parade where colourful floats and characters parade through the streets of the park.
4. Hire an Electric Scooter
We have all seen the craze of dockless bike rental operators such as Ofo littering our city streets around the world, San Diego has a unique twist on this phenomenon with the offering of dockless communally shared electric scooters for hire. Download the Bird or LimeBike app to your smartphone and you can find an electric scooter to unlock for hire from as little as $1.
San Diego is crazy for these scooters and we saw people of all walks of life passing us by with ease as we unknowingly walked the streets of San Diego!
5. Visit the Fleet Science Centre
If you can only choose one museum to visit with the kids in Balboa park, our favourite was the Fleet Science Centre. This interactive museum allows you to get hands on for an experiential learning experience.
We recently visited the Melbourne Science Works which offers a very similar experience of hands on science facts displayed in a way that intrigues both children and adults alike.
The Fleet Science Centre is also home to an Imax theatre providing a unique large screen cinematic experience - we saw the movie Panda which was fantastic.
Have you visited San Diego with the family? There is so much to see and do there, what are your top tips of places to visit and sights to see.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were guests of the San Diego Tourism Authority and Sea World San Diego as part of this visit.
If you happen to take a cruise through Alaska’s inside passage you may well enjoy a port stop in Sitka Alaska. Only accessible by air or boat, Sitka is a quaint village that holds onto it’s Russian heritage and is a great city to explore. Here are five tips for your visit
No Tender Required
Sitka recently built a port for the many cruise ships visiting therefore there is no need to take a tender boat. The port is a little out of the town though, so you need to take a shuttle bus upon arrival to get into downtown. The shuttles are complimentary and provide some great scenery along the way. The port terminal offers some shopping and the crab shack on the wharf offers beer, crabs and wifi.
Fortress of the bear
If you fancy getting up close and personal to both Brown and Black bears, but want a different experience than viewing through the glass at the Zoo exhibit, Fortress of the Bear is a great option.
The sanctuary that rescues orphaned bears can be access via a shuttle bus from the cruise shuttle drop off point. We paid $10USD per adult round trip for the shuttle and $10USD per adult for entry to see the Bears.
The shuttle will drop you at Fortress of the Bear and return one hour later. You then have the option of taking the shuttle to the Raptor Park, or back to Sitka.
For more details about Fortress of the Bear read my full review here.
New Archangel Dancers
At 12:30pm on our visit a local volunteer all-female dance group - The New Archangel Dancers - performed at the Harrigan Centennial Hall. Entry was $10USD adult and $5USD children for a 30 minute performance. The group showcased traditional Russian heritage folk dancers and also gave some great insights, through an emcee, on the local history.
Also included was a presentation on the story of the Alaskan flag, how and when it came about and a recital of the State song.
Just visiting the Centennial Hall was a highlight, the facility has a floor to ceiling glass wall with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Main street stores and sites
Sitka has a really quaint main street with wooden stores housing local arts, crafts and furs. If you have a spare USD$15,000 you may want to buy a fur coat that the sales lady tells you will last your life time.
Walk the streets of the tiny town made famous by the Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, film The Proposal. A walk along the main street will stroll you past St Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral, Totem Square and The Sitka Pioneer’s Home and take the stairs up to the lookout where the official ceremony took place when Russia transferred Alaska to the US.
There is plenty of free wifi access at this port. Upon arrival the crab shack offers access at the port terminal and once in town the library and community centre both offer really strong, free connections.
Enjoy your day in Sitka - such a pretty part of the world. There are so many other great things to do there that we did not get a chance to see - leave your comments below for any other tips or ideas to share with us and other readers.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Fortress of the Bear is located in the small Alaskan town of Sitka. When I first heard about this place I was sceptical. I did not really want to visit bears in a zoo, however Fortress of the Bear is actually a Sanctuary for orphaned cubs and provides a great opportunity to see bears up close and personal.
It is law in Alaska for an orphaned cub to be euthanised. It is believed it is more humane to kill the orphaned cub as it is unable to fend for itself in the wild without it’s mother. Fortress of the Bears actually rescues the cub bears on death row and gives them a second chance at life.
What is a little sad is that the law in Alaska does not allow for the Bears to be released into the wild once they have been brought into captivity. It is one of the few US states that does not allow it.
The Sanctuary does however run a program in the hope that one day the law will be changed and the bears will be released. They therefore feed them randomly, increase their food intake in the lead up to winter and provide areas for them to hibernate. They are treating the bears in a way that would allow for them to be released should the laws be changed. In the meanwhile they remain for the term of their natural life. In the wild bears live for an average 25 years, at the Sanctuary they may live up to 40.
We spoke to Chris, the operations manager originally from the UK, who had been working at Fortress of the Bears for some five years. He gave us some great insights into the work they are doing here, the expansion plans they have and the lobbying work they do striving to change the laws. If you visit - make sure you say hi to him!
The bears are kept in a large area with fresh water running into a stream. During salmon season they release fresh fish in the stream for the bears to catch their own food. They have water to swim in, mounds to climb and cave areas away from the public for them to retreat to.
Unusually there are both black and brown bears located here. The bears are kept separated and a new area was due to be opened just a few days after our visit for the black bears. The new area provides natural forest for the black bears to roam.
On our visit there was just one viewing platform to view the bears, a new black bear viewing area was due to be opened. The Sanctuary is raw, with just the one area to visit we wondered how we would fill the hour we had here - but it went really quick. It was fascinating being able to see the animals so close up and watching their habits.
Another great feature of this location is that Bald Eagles frequent the area. Scavengers, they swoop on the bear’s meals to feed themselves and then perch back on the trees in the surrounding forestry. We saw at least ten on our visit including junior eagles yet to get their white head feathers.
Entry was $10USD for Adults and $5USD for children, however we were not charged for our eight and 11 year olds only paying $20USD for the family to enter. The venue receive no funding other than that which they make from entry fees, shop sales and donations.
We took a bus from Sitka - $10USD per person round trip. It was about a 15 minute drive from town to the location and we were not charged for the kids.
If you ever wanted to see brown or black bears up close and personal, and not through a glass exhibit at a zoo, Fortress of the Bear is a great option for your visit to Sitka.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Melbourne is a great city, any time of the year, and one that has plenty of attractions for families. We have been fortunate to take a few trips to Melbourne, and each time we try to do something different. Here are eight activities to consider for your next family trip to Melbourne.
1. Catch an AFL Game
The Melbourne CBD is home to two Australian Rules Football Stadiums, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Etihad stadium. The MCG holds some 100,000 people and we were fortunate enough to be there for the ANZAC day match which saw a full house attend the game. There was something special about observing a minute’s silence amongst a crowd of that size.
Both stadiums are easily accessible via the city tram system and offer a truly authentic Melbourne experience for the whole family. You can pre-purchase tickets online to avoid the queues and get there early enough to enjoy the family zone activities on offer.
2. Explore the City on the Free Trams
Melbourne has a fantastic tram network and, within the city centre, an extensive free tram zone. There is a brown city circle tram that does a loop of the city and can get you to all the major attractions, however any tram within this zone is free. Criss cross your way across the city using any of the trams - at no cost.
3. Visit the Melbourne Museum
The Melbourne Museum is located amongst Carlton Gardens and is accessible within the Free Tram Zone. In fact you can catch a tram from Bourke Street Mall that will take you straight to the Museum stop.
Be sure to set aside at least two hours - more if you can - as there is so much to see. We were fascinated by the Forestry that included huge Mountain Ash and walkways to take you underneath the forest, the mind and body exhibition that certainly challenged our thoughts and the Melbourne Fashion exhibition that showcased some great local talent.
The Museum also holds special exhibits, when we visited the feature was the Vikings which encompassed all things Nordic. We really could have spent all day here and will absolutely return.
4. Eat Dumplings in China Town
As with most major cities, Melbourne city centre houses a China Town. Whilst I would normally recommend side stepping the main China Town street, we have actually found a few good dumpling houses on this strip. Get there early, or book a table because locals will queue for a good serve of dumplings. We are early diners so normally don’t have any trouble walking into a restaurant, it is always fun to walk out after your meal and see the big line ups waiting to get in for where you have just eaten! We visited the Empress of China on Little Burke Street and filled up on dumplings, with leftovers to take home, for just $60. The restaurants are not fancy, it is cheap and cheerful, but the dumplings were good!.
5. Try the Patisseries at Brunetti on Lygon Street
If you have a car, or are happy to travel outside the free tram zone, Brunetti’s is a Melbourne icon known for their amazing pastries and coffee. It is a truly Italian experience ordering your coffee at the bar and savouring one of the melt in your mouth cannoli filled with Italian custard. The signature store is on Lygon Street, but there are also now Brunetti stores in the CBD and at the airport.
6. Spend half a day at Sea Life
Here is a great activity for the family that will entertain you for at least three hours - more if you have the time. Located on the banks of the Yarra, there is so much to see and do at the Sea Life Aquarium. The aquarium allows you to get up close and personal to the marine life and be amazed by the sheer size of the stingrays and sharks that swim above your head as you walk through the aquarium tunnel.
The penguin playground provides plenty of entertainment as they seemingly dance and perform for and with the kids, the crocodile lair puts you up close and personal in a way that perhaps you would not really want to be to a creature that size, and the 4D Ice Age movie offers a few fun surprises.
7. Take a trip to Spotswood to visit Scienceworks
If you have a car, or don’t mind a $20 Uber ride out of the city, head to Spotswood for a visit to Scienceworks. This Museum will entertain you for a whole day with interactive exhibitions that get the kids learning in a fun environment.
While you are there you can also enjoy a visit to the Melbourne Planetarium which shares the premises with Scienceworks. The presentation in the dome shaped theatre provides a great commentary on what can be seen in the Melbourne night sky and will have you picking out constellations and planets that evening (if the city lights don’t block your views!). Read more about our visit to Scienceworks.
Shop at the DFO South Wharf
Whilst Melbourne is home to many great boutiques and stores, it is good to know that there is a Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) within the free tram zone/ walking distance of the CBD. There is a great range of stores at South Wharf ranging from sporting apparel Nike, Adidas and Puma through to higher end stores including Furla and Coach.
There are so many things to do in Melbourne, every time we visit we discover something new. Read more about our Autumn visit for other ideas. What are some of your favourite Melbourne activities?
Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were guests of ScienceWorks, Melbourne Museum and Sea Life Aquarium during our Melbourne visit.
I have travelled to Melbourne many times but never taken the time to head out of the CBD much. On a recent trip we were lured 15 minutes out of the city to visit the town of Spotswood, home to Scienceworks - and aren’t we glad we did! A whole day of educational fun awaited us, I had to drag the kids out at the end of the day.
Here are five reasons to take the journey out of the CBD and let the kids enjoy a day at Scienceworks Melbourne.
1. Race Against Cathy Freeman
My kids love being active and have been involved in Little Athletics since they were toddlers. Scienceworks includes a fascinating sports exhibition that was like the holy grail for our sports mad kids.
One of the fun displays provided the opportunity to line up at a race start line and run against a video wall featuring Cathy Freeman in action. The track was only about 15 metres long - the race took 2 seconds - but they did it over and over and over again!
Other highlights of the sports exhibition included rock climbing, virtual soccer goal keeper, a virtual wheelchair racing game and a balance beam to try out some gymnastics.
2. Discover the Tallest Buildings in The World
One of the intriguing exhibits I found as an adult was the display depicting the tallest buildings in the world. It is fascinating the engineering that has gone into building architecture that has allowed modern society to achieve such heights.
In 1931 the Empire State Building, New York, was considered an amazing accomplishment at 381m but in 2010 when the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, reached heights of 828m it makes it seem insignificant. When Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia, completes construction engineers will reach yet another milestone with the building planned for a height of 1008m.
The exhibit was presented pictorially and really made you appreciate how modern engineering has changed the landscape of modern society.
3. See the Lightning Shows
Apart from the interactive displays, the lighting room provides some cool kids science shows. We were entertained with Bolt from the Blue. A great interactive display explaining how lightning is created and how to avoid getting struck during a storm!
The presenter was theatrical and enthusiastic and aimed the content right at the kids. From producing storm clouds in a plastic bottle, making balloons statically stick to a child’s head and showcasing how the hair on your head can point straight to the sky, there were plenty of educational takeaways from the session.
4. Visit the Planetarium
If you have never been to a planetarium, it is likely you may not even know what it is. A planetarium is a domed shaped theatre designed to view projections of the night sky. Additionally, specially created films are produced to be shown on the unique shaped screen. The Melbourne Planetarium holds a 16 metre dome with reclining chairs for pretty comfortable viewing (or a nap if you are worn out from all the activities!).
We attended a viewing of the film Blackholes, which was interesting if not a little unusual, followed by a live commentary of current Melbourne night sky projections. It is the live commentary that we enjoyed. Being able to see the constellations that are in the Melbourne night sky that evening was fascinating for the kids.
5. It’s Great Value
We arrived at about 10:45am and did not leave until close at 4:30pm. There is so much to see and do here and the kids loved every minute of it. We visited on a weekday, it was quite busy with school groups when we first arrived, but by about 2:30pm the crowds resided and we had free range of all the exhibits. If you only have a few hours, you may want to visit in the afternoon otherwise be prepared to deal with the crowds.
Tickets for Scienceworks are priced at just $15 for adults and free, yes FREE, for kids up to 16 years old. Additional extras are the Planetarium and Lightning Room which are priced at $8 each or $12 if you do both. For a full day of activity and learning Scienceworks offers great value.
If you have a car, this is your best option, however if you are like us and staying in the CBD then Spotswood is about 15 minutes out of the city.
My first option was to catch the Williamstown train from Southern Cross Station to Spotswood, it seemed a simple and affordable idea. However it turned out that Melbourne does not have a very visitor friendly transport system outside of the free CBD tram system.
In order to purchase a day fare for metro train travel at a cost of $8.60 adult and $4.30 a child, we first had to purchase a Myki Card each at a cost of $6 per card. So I had to buy a $6 card to load with $4 of travel! What!!!!!
I decided that by the time we purchased the transport cards and loaded them with a day fare, an Uber would be around the same price and much more comfortable. An Uber from the city cost $18 and that is how we got there!
Let us know if you have visited, what was your favourite exhibit?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family was a guest of Scienceworks on this visit.
About three months ago I was approached to go on a fully paid cruise in exchange for creating blogging content. Great - I love to cruise I am in! The only caveat was that the cruise was departing out of Auckland and it was a Nude Cruise.
Now to be clear, I am not a nudist - never have been and don’t really know anyone in my circles that is. Although the offer of a fully paid cruise was tempting and it was for me to go solo, so also meant an all expenses paid trip away from the kids, I really had to consider if I could even do this.
I really had to think long and hard about this offer and so set about to do some research about what the experience would be like. In 2018 I have decided to have a year of saying Yes to new experiences so I know for many of my readers who know me they will be shocked to read the five reasons that convinced me to actually say yes to take the Nude Cruise.
1. No Long Packing List
Packing would not be strenuous. Toiletries was probably all that was needed. No need to pack a million changes of clothes to cater for formal night, cocktail night, theme nights etc. Once onboard not much would be required except a heap of sunscreen.
2. I Didn’t Need to Buy New Swimwear
As a woman I hate shopping for swimwear, it is the one thing that pains me before taking a sun holiday. Bikini, tankini, one piece - block colour, patterns or stripes there are so many options to consider it is such a dilemma. At least with a nude cruise there would not be any swimwear even required.
3. I Could Get a Great Tan
I love a good tan as much as anyone, but pesky swimwear covering body parts make for terrible tan lines. A Nude Cruise, without the family, would allow me hours of selfish sunbathing time and I would not need to worry about dreaded tan lines. Think of how great my tan would be upon my return.
4. No One Knew Me
The cruise was leaving out of Auckland, I don’t know many people in New Zealand and the chances of bumping into someone I knew were relatively slim. What would be the chances of someone recognising me? If I was ever going to consider taking up nudity on a regular basis here would be a great place to sample it.
AND THE FINAL REASON................
Do you really believe this crazy story - if so GOTCHA! April Fools:)
Itchy Feet Family
Bergen is a beautiful city in Norway that if you happen to be cruising through the Fjords you are most likely to visit. We were fortunate to take the journey on the P&O Britannia in 2017 and found ourselves unusually in a dry day in Bergen!
Bergen is known to have rainfall on an average 240 days a year, it is known as the most rainy city in the world! So a dry day is unlikely for your visit - we got very lucky!
So pack your raincoats and umbrellas and head out and see this stunning city - here are some ideas of what you can do if you have not booked a tour.
Walk to Town
The ship ports close enough to the city that a stroll in is a pleasant introduction. A 15-20 minute stroll will have you in the thick of things in the centre of town.
Cable Car or Funnicular
If you love spectacular scenery Bergen offers two vantage points to take in the views. From the city centre you can catch a Funnicular to the mountain of Fløyen at 320m above sea level. Many tourists opt for this as you can walk to the Funnicular from the city centre - but beware it is busy!
An alternative is to take the cable car where you will get the most spectacular views of Bergen from a top Mt Ulriken - the highest of Bergen’s seven mountains. The cable car is a little out of the city centre so you need to catch a bus from the city centre right near the tourist information centre.
The bus journey takes you out of the centre of town so not only do you get to the less crowded mountain, you also get to see a little of the outskirts of Bergen as you travel to the cable car.
The cable car is a seven minute journey to the top which takes you to 643m above sea level. Upon arrival you can stop at the restaurant, let the kids play on the playground, do a zip line across the top of the mountain or just sit and take in the views.
There are also walking trails so if you have the time and are up for an adventure you could walk one or both ways to take in the views at a leisurely pace.
Visit the Fish Market
In the centre of town you will find an open air fish market showcasing the best of the regions local catch. It is vibrant and bustling offering tourists and locals alike a taste of Bergen. Try things like Reindeer hotdogs, Kaviar and of course salmon is plentiful and presented in a myriad of options.
See the Wooden Houses
Bergen actually has one of Europe’s largest collections of wooden houses and they are spectacular. If you are after some great photos of colourful houses and buildings this is the place to see and walk amongst them.
Whilst many fires throughout the years have seen these wooden houses disappear, the centre of Bergen houses Bryggen - a UNESCO World Heritage Centre - the old fishing wharf. The area is beautifully restored and houses shops and restaurants for visitors to enjoy. Just walking amongst these restored buildings is a great way to spend your day.
What did you do on your day in Bergen? Leave your tips and ideas in the comments for other travellers.
Itchy Feet Family
Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to have a great family adventure and there are things on your own doorstep that can create special family moments and memories.
We are fortunate enough to live in Adelaide, South Australia, which comes alive in the month of March for what is commonly known as “Mad March”. There are a myriad of activities that fill the city every night providing a plethora of entertainment options for all ages. One such highlight is the Parade of Lights.
When I told the kids about this activity they remembered a similar experience we had in San Antonio Texas where a central building was projected upon each night on a half hourly rotation depicting the story of The Alamo. If the kids thought that one building was great - the Adelaide Parade of Lights was going to take that entertainment value to a whole new level.
Part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival the Parade of Lights is an open air free exhibition projecting imagery, short film and laser displays onto the buildings of North Terrace.
Eight buildings along North Terrace feature in the spectacular each providing a unique exhibit captivating the strolling crowds of the balmy Autumn evenings.
A special highlight was the Northern Lights display where a mixture of laser light and a smoke machine provided a rough replica of the Aurora Borealis.
Given the distance between Adelaide, South Australia and Iceland, the art display provides a glimpse into the northern lights that many South Australians will most likely never actually experience.
The thing we loved about this activity is that it was free, we were outside enjoying an awesome Autumn evening and the displays were captivating for all ages.
We also opted for a pre Parade of Lights dinner in North Adelaide, left the car a little out the city and walked a 5km loop. A great option as it turned out the traffic in Adelaide at this time of the year is CRAZY!
The Parade of Lights runs from 8:30pm - 12am each night of the Adelaide Fringe from February 16 - March 18, 2018. If you are in Adelaide during March be sure to check this activity out.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Fiji is full of many hidden gems and treasures and so it was no surprise on our recent visit to Port Denarau on a cruise port day we discovered one of them - the Thermal Pools and Mud Bath.
Finding a family friendly shore tour that provides a bit of activity is often hard to come across but this one jumped out as something we would all enjoy. Having visited Mud Baths in Nha Trang, Vietnam, we were not afraid of smothering ourselves in local soils and are glad we took the opportunity to do it again. Here are six top reasons you should try the natural thermal pools and mud baths of Fiji.
Upon arrival freshly made flower necklaces will be bestowed upon you as you enter past the serenade of the village’s welcome song. As tradition requires, an official welcoming ceremony follows with the Chief including an opportunity to sample the local delicacy of Kava.
2. Get away from the city
The thermal pools are an approximate 30 minute bus journey from Port Denarau. If you are fortunate like we were your journey will be commentated by an enthusiastic local guide. Our guid, ‘Mr Cool” as he referred to himself, enthusiastically provided a myriad of fascinating facts and stories about Fiji and the local way of life. The tour takes visitors away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy Nadi and gets you out into the villages.
3. See the Sleeping Giants
This part of Fiji is famous for the mountain range known as the two sleeping giants. The mountains literally look like two giants have just laid down and mountains formed in their shapes - it is a bucket list item to see. Whilst you don’t get up close to them you do get a fair view of them on this tour.
4. Cover yourself in mud
Honestly, how many times in your life are you legitimately going to have an opportunity (as an adult or a child) to take a bucket of mud and simply lather it all over your body. The mud is dug from the mud pool and put into large buckets and you simply go for it. Dressed in bathers you simply slap the wet mud on from top to toe and cover every part of your body. It is quite an unusual thing to do - but one I highly recommend. The sun then does it’s job and dries the wet mud into your skin so it becomes a full body mud mask.
5. Enjoy the thermal pool
Once your mud mask has dried you head into a series of thermal pools to wash and cleanse - the first pool was all natural you could feel the mud squishing in your toes beneath you - the second one man made with the thermal waters pumped into it for a warm and relaxing bath like experience in the great outdoors.
6. Finish with a massage
The final part of this tour, which was not in the brochure, was the inclusion of a 15 minute full body massage from the local village ladies. A great way to finish the outdoor spa adventure of being scrubbed and buffed to relaxation.
After being farewelled with another village song we shuffled back into the bus and headed back to Nadi to catch our ship home all buffed, primed and relaxed. The only downside to the tour was that we stopped at a shopping street on route back to the ship and the last thing we felt like doing was shopping in our relaxed mode of buffed bliss. However others seemed to be thankful for the opportunity so each to their own - we had a little nap on the bus instead.
Itchy Feet Family
I have never really been one for girl’s trips, I have never had any burning desires to head off without my husband or children. I loved travelling with my husband BC (before children) and I really enjoy family travel now.
However last weekend I was given the opportunity to take a weekend trip with a friend, who is also a mum, a short getaway aboard P&O’s Pacific Eden. We boarded from Adelaide’s Outer Harbour on a Friday afternoon and sailed up and down the coast for the weekend landing back at Outer Harbour on Monday morning early enough to get to work for the day. The ship did not stop anywhere, it was just three nights of sailing and enjoying the destination of the cruise ship and all it had to offer.
I have now decided that all mums need a weekend at sea - here are eight reasons why!
Reason 1. It’s only three nights
The weekend cruise departs on a Friday afternoon and is back in dock by 7am Monday morning I was able to drop the kids at school on Friday before heading off and I was back in time to get to work on Monday morning.
Reason 2. You don’t need to fly anywhere
P&O operate weekend cruises departing out of Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, so if you live in one of the big capitals, no flight is needed. Whilst other States have had these for some time, cruising in and out of Adelaide has only been operating the last three years. P&O port a ship in Adelaide, the Pacific Eden, for a few weeks each year. However so successful they must have been that in 2019 there will be an extended season providing even more options for cruises departing and returning to Adelaide.
Not having to take a flight anywhere takes the hassle out of the weekend. Simply drive to Outer Harbour, jump on the ship and sail away!
Reason 3. You can throw your towel on the floor
You know how your kids just throw things on the floor and we as mums pick them up. Being on a cruise is like having your own magical mum do that for you. I dare you to give it a go - have a shower and simply throw your towel on the floor when you are done. When you return to your cabin a few hours later it will be picked up and a fresh towel folded on the rack.
Ok so that tip is not very environmentally friendly - or very adult like - but hey you gotta indulge a little every now and then.
Reason 4. Enjoy a meal without taking someone to the toilet or cleaning up a spilled drink
The Pacific Eden offers three restaurants included in your fare. Friday night we had Italian at Angelos, Saturday night is was Asian at Dragon Lady and Sunday night we ate at the main restaurant, The Waterfront.
Imagine a whole meal not having to take a child to the toilet, clean up a spilled drink across the table or having to cut up someone else’s meal. It was bliss. Add to the amazing food a bottle of Moet and we were in mum heaven!
No-one had to drive, no-one had to sort the kids before we went out, we just got ourselves dressed and walked to dinner! We even stopped off at the bar first for a sneaky pre-dinner drink.
Reason 5. Stay out all night
There is no curfew on the ship - you can stay out as long as you like. You don’t have to worry about trying to get a taxi at the end of the night, you don’t have to rush home because you are paying the babysitter by the hour and you don’t have to wake up at 6am the next day to get the kids breakfast or take them to sport. In fact, the next day you can stay in bed as long as you want - and we did!
Reason 6. Read a book
When I cruise with the family we are on the go a lot of the time. Take the kids to kids club, meet for morning trivia, pick the kids up and take them on the flying fox etc etc. I have taken books away with me before, but it normally ends up just weighing my bag down and rarely getting read. On a mums weekend away I got myself out of bed, headed for the adults only area and sat in the sun to read a book.
So engrossed I was in reading (which incidentally I had not done in years) that I completely forgot to reapply sunscreen and fried to a crisp! Again, not great advice, but shows the indulgence you can take to simply switch off and do something for yourself.
Reason 7. Enjoy the late night shows
We were on a comedy cruise which meant late night comedy shows at 10:30pm. Now lets be honest, as a mum going out at 10:30pm is a very rare occasion. When you cruise as a family the kids club closes at 10:30pm so you either tag team and only one parent gets to go to the show whilst the other picks the kids up, or you pay the late child minding fees so you can both go. No such dilemma on a mums trip, we went and enjoyed every show on offer.
Reason 8. Meet other mums
When dining in the Waterfront restaurant the wait staff ask if you mind sharing a table. This is a great way to meet your fellow cruise passengers and, to our luck on each occasion, we were seated with fellow mums also on a weekend away.
Apparently we were not the only mums that had found this phenomenon of a sneaky weekend away at sea. One pair we ate with were on their first ever cruise, let alone weekend away - by the Sunday night they were already booked in for 2019 - something they would tell their families when they got home! Deposit paid - in fact I think they paid in full and made sure it was non-refundable.
So if you have ever thought about taking a girls trip, consider a weekend cruise, you won't regret it. If you have ever taken a sneaky mums weekend at sea, leave us a comment and tell us why you loved it.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.