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Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: NapPark – Bangkok

Location : Well located just 2 streets away from Khao San Road, the infamous backapcker party and market street. Close enough to enjoy the party but far enough away to find some more chilled out options.

Staff : Phenomenal staff, all Thai. They try be very helpful and always there with a smile, as long as you show them the same courtesy of course. They also reply to emails within one day, and are very patient with multiple questions.

Dorms : They have smaller 4-6 bed and then the large mixed dorms. The set up is quite unique with each bed have it’s own light and power sockets. They also have “privacy” screens that can be lowered to give a sense of privacy. I say “privacy” because the screens are essentially see through, so great for the illusion of being alone, but possibly aids in the prevention of hanky panky….

Cleanliness : one of the cleanest hostels I have been in. The sheets are white and so have some stains and marks on them but they are clean. The Cleaning staff do a fantastic job every day.

Social : The common area near reception has a couple of large mats and reclining cushions where everyone migrates to. You will start with 2 and by the end of the evening you can have over 20 people from all over the world, it just seems natural to join the circle.

Cafe : They have a great little cafe at the front area outside, with a wonderful sitting/relaxing area. The lady who runs it is super sweet and was a great hoot when 10 of us decided to order at the same time, she received a round of applause at the end of it!!

They also allow you store your luggage for a couple of weeks… which was perfect when I spent a week in Laos with just my carry on.

All in all a great hostel, definitely book in advance as they sell out quickly.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in RTW, Thailand, Travel

 

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Trekkers Hostel Highlights: Traveler’s House – Portland, OR

In a quiet neighborhood in Portland you will find a quaint little house that will make you feel at home. Traveler’s House is a welcome sight for all weary travelers with a cozy atmosphere and down to earth feel. From the moment you walk in and are welcomed by the friendly staff to the moment you have to leave, you will feel at home.

Welcome

Welcome

The rooms are comfy and clean with all the amenities you may need. The kitchen is fully stocked and there is a tea and coffee available.

There is a wonderful backyard equipped with a fire pit and the opportunity to sit and socialize with fellow travelers.

Just watch out for acorns

They even have bubbles!!!

The common areas come with cushions and reading nooks, large windows where you can stare out and contemplate life.

Or you can sit and work on puzzles…

All in all an awesome hostel and one definitely worth looking into to. Important note, they only take bookings, no walk ins, so be sure to call or email if you wish to stay. Also, the vibe is laid back relaxed, since it is in a residential neighborhood there is no loud music or crazy parties, this is the hostel you come to when you need some relaxing down time!!

And the most important thing is…. it’s:

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Travel

 

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Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: Generator, Venice, Italy

Located on the waterfront of the island of Giudecca, the Generator Hostel in Venice is perfectly set. Most rooms overlook the main canal of Venice with San Marco’s square just a short vaporreto stop away. In addition it is much cheaper on the island vs across the canal, a coffee in San Marco can go for around 5 euros, just for a simple coffee…

The dorm rooms are large and the beds are comfortable with your own light. There are lockers under the bed and the bathrooms are clean and spacious with fantastic showers.

The staff are friendly and knowledgable on all things Venetian. There is a buffet breakfast available every morning for a small fee or you can purchase a cooked breakfast for a little more. They also offer meals at a VERY reasonable price in the evenings and then of course there is the Generator Bar (they don’t water down the liquor here!).

An important suggestion: when you purchase your first vaporreto ticket to get to the hostel ask for the multi day passes, from 1 to 5 days. It will be much better value as each vaporreto costs 7 euros with only about an hour to reuse and they do check the tickets randomly and give a hefty fine if they discover someone with out a valid ticket.

Grand Canal: also with your vaporreto ticket you can take a tour of the grand canal, I recommend it at sunset.

Be sure to keep an eye out in the early mornings and evenings when the cruise ships come in and out! They are very impressive with the great backdrop of San Marco square.

MSC Poesia

MSC Lirica

All in a great hostel when staying in Venice, cheaper than most places and with a fantastic location!!!

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Italy, Travel

 

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Naples Bound!!

Italian Train Ride

European living involves going to bed closer to the following morning than the previous evening… Me on the other hand tend to me a bit of a home body and head to bed closer to that evening than night! Am seriously suffering from lack of sleep. Luckily Italy has a fabulous cure, and Kate and I went for a morning tradition of a cappuccino and a pastry.

I was heading to Naples today and after very careful and clear instructions on what to do to get my ticket we said cheers. There are days that I am simply astounded at what good friends I have around the world, now if only I could have them all in the same place.

Somehow, in my diminished state of sleeplessness, I found the train station, got my ticket and found the train. Of course opening the door was a little beyond me, but with some help I got in and got a seat. Hopefully I am on the right train.

I was this close to getting a free seat, but with a minute to go a young man, straight out of a Jersey Shore extra Italian series, sat down next to me placing his numerous bags in such a way that there was no escape. He sat straight back with brillo’d hair, square jaw, huge muscles tattoos, tight white tshirt and blue and white striped pants. I think he was bordering on Guido status.

Luckily he only stayed on for a couple of stops and then I was able to spread out a bit…at least for about 20min till the next person arrived.

Never Know Who You Will Meet

During the last half hour of the trip a guy from Taiwan who is crew on China Air started chatting with me and asking if I knew anything about Naples. He was doing a day trip from Rome during his 3 days off between flights. We chatted about travel and opportunities and he was shocked at how much I had done. It always neat when you meet a stranger and just chat to pass the time.

My Lack of Direction Astounds Even Me

Holding very clear and concise instructions from the hostel explaining exactly how to get to them… I found myself getting lost almost immediately.

The instructions had said to walk to the end of piazzo and take the trolley to the harbor. Once there you essentially turn around, walk 20feet and the hostel is right there. However they failed to mention the huge construction site that now covered said piazzo and completely obscured it. I saw buses and honestly wasn’t sure if that’s what Italians called trolleys. So clutching the address in my little hand I went and tried to pronounce it and ask where to go. The men there were very helpful and soon I was on the bus. In no time at all, and with the help of fellow bus goers I found my stop. But when I turned around there was an old castle, and no sign of a hostel anywhere.

An Unexpected Tour of a Naples Neighborhood

So I headed towards the street, then turned left up a walk way that went passed the castle. Asking a few locals they all directed me in the same direction of straight across the road and then right. I turned right and headed that way, then asked some cops directions, they had never heard of the street or the hostel and had to get out a map to find it. They said keep going then cross the road to the right. This is starting to feel like a rather square circle…

I kept walking, going down some small streets, and, about 20 min later finally saw some signs that matched the map, and there, down a little alley right near the harbor and about a 5 min walk from where the bus dropped me off was the hostel bathed in a glorious light… I swear I heard angels singing. Good lord I think my mom held a magnet to my inner compass when I was born.

Hostel Of The Sun

Hostel of the Sun was set in an interesting location. Prime spot for anyone wanting to be near the harbor or the waterfront, but in a larger office building. You went up an ancient elevator that between the hours of 9 and 1 (or something like that) you had to put in a 5 cent piece (these aren’t made in Italy anymore but luckily the hostel had a supply). Lucky for me I was there during the free time and after about 5 min of trying to figure out how to make it go up I found myself on the floor of the hostel and found the door to the front desk, common area, bar and some of the rooms.

My room was on a lower floor. The English girl checking me in was super helpful and gave me lots of information of where to go and what to do. But before I could explore I had a mission to complete!

My Mission in Naples

Now as some of you may know, the whole reason for my coming to Italy was to join my boyfriend on a cruise, he was a bartender on MSC and was paying for me to come and see him. In addition, I was attempting to make contact with someone at MSC to talk about getting a job with them so that, hopefully, we could be on the same ship. Long distance is a killer.

Now as some of you may realise, writing these particular blog entries has been very difficult for me, as… let us just say things ultimately did not work out between us. For those of you who missed this little piece of news, please refer back to my Love Story entry a few months back, it’s a doozy!!

So, back to the task at hand. My mission for this afternoon in sunny Naples was to go to the offices of MSC cruises in Naples, which just so happened to be around the corner from the hostel.

I got myself tidied up, took a deep breath and headed to the office. As I entered I saw 2 guards, the following exchange is hilarious in hind sight, but at the time…
Guards: Appointemente?
Me: No, MSC office?
Guards: Appointemente?
Me: No, I need to speak to someone at MSC please.
Guards: You appointemente!
Me: How, how do I get an appointment??
Guards: you call, you appointemente!
Me: What number, who do I call.
Guards point upstairs… cause that helps me out I guess.

Finally, seeing how distraught I was getting at having been running in circles trying to speak to someone, anyone who knew something about employment at the blasted company, they got someone on the phone for me. Someone who was just upstairs and spoke perfect English and kindly explained that the Naples office only does reservations but I can try call this number. Taking a deep breath I said thank you, wrote it down, smiled (kind of) to the guards and said thank you and left.

I was so unbelievably frustrated, I had spent the first day in Rome playing phone tag with these people and getting no where.
Call this number
No, you call this number
No, you need to call this number (that was the number that just gave me their number).

Now it turned out, the lady from the office I couldn’t enter had given me the first number I had dialed back in Rome. Maybe they secretly tape these efforts and only hire people who are that determined to get on the ship. Or maybe it’s just Italian customer service at its finest.

Time to Explore…

Or not. By the time I got back to the hostel to drop off some stuff and go exploring I felt completely and utterly exhausted. The kind of wave of exhaustion that hits you from your toes to the ends of your hair, emotionally and physically. I had been so certain I would get somewhere with someone at the office so that I could tell my love that I was making progress to be with him… but nope, not to be. At least not yet. I sat on my bed and woke up 3hrs later with a fairly impressive drool stain on the pillow. Guess I needed a wee nap then.

Grumpy the Dwarf

Being on 5 ft (1.5m) and decidedly grumpy, I fear I may have given off the impression of a character from Snow White. But pulling myself together I went in search of some kind of food and managed to get to the store just before closing. After the amazing mozzarella and cherry tomato pizza I had had in Rome, I wanted to see about getting something similar. Apparently, Naples is the home of buffalo mozzarella. I found some cherry tomatoes, a yummy loaf of bread and a small container of buffalo mozzarella balls. I figured I could make some toasted cheesy tomato type thing.

New Friend

As I was sitting exhausted and waiting for my crustini invention to broil, I was joined by a Canadian girl and we soon struck up a long conversation that led to a travel partner for Pompeii the next day. And that’s how I met Kristin… someone who would become a great friend.

After my yummy meal, am now addicted to buffalo mozzarella, a good chat and a hot shower I decided to try be a little social and headed for the hostel bar. The official “Drunk American” guy offered me a free shot. Sure why not. Not to sound like a generalist, but I fear there always seems to be an official drunk guy and he is usually American…or Australian. Luckily for me, the Americans are more generous with free drinks.

I spent the next couple of hours chatting to folks, and being entertained as the drunk American tried desperately to seem cool and mysterious and trying to pick up Kristin. Eventually it just became too painful to watch, I think Kristin (who has a wicked sense of humor) was rather enjoying baffling him at every turn of phrase.

Is That Noise Human

I wanted to try stay awake to the end of my boyfriend’s shift, usually around 2.30am, I made it to 2.40am and then had to go to bed.
As I walked into my room I regretted not going to bed much earlier, I had a dorm room goers worst nightmare, other than bed bugs, I had 2 snorers.

The one was a “nice” light regular snore. The kind you can actually time and get in sync with. But then I had the other kind. The kind made, most often, by a male middle aged hostel goer, who possibly has some sinus congestion. The kind that is grating and uneven and occasionally sounds like he is struggling to breathe. The kind that lulls you into a false sense of peace and then jars you awake just milliseconds from sleep. Not only that, but it was interspersed with groans… Solution attempts were as follows:
– headphones
(I could hear him over the music)
– I went to the front desk and asked for earplugs
(didn’t have any)
– I asked if I could sleep on the couch
(hostel policy not allowed)
– I woke him up
(he apologized and went right back at it within 5 min)

Finally I could see only one dreaded option. THE BATHROOM!

Yup, I grabbed my pillow and blanket and went to the farthest toilet/shower combo I could find. Curled into an uncomfortable ball and fitfully got less than an hour of sleep. Then someone tried to open it and I was just too unnerved to stay.

My final option was coffee, by now it was after 6am and the coffee was on. After a couple of cups, I went back to the room and discovered them packing. Thank the heavens! I passed out!

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Italy, RTW, Travel

 

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Loping to Leipzig

4th December 2011

Exhausted from our long walk yesterday and since our rideshare to Cathleen’s home town was only that evening we had a good sleep in. Breakfast was 5 euros all you can eat and it was amazing, with hot and cold options. We also made up some sandwiches for later. The 3 Pigs Hostel in Berlin really knew how to put on a good spread:
Tea/Coffee/Juice (2 kinds)
Cereal (3 kinds)
yoghurt (2 kinds)
Jam (2 kinds)
Chocolate spread
Bread and rolls
Cheese
Cold meat (3 kinds)
Scrambled eggs (very popular)

Walking Tour Part 2

Walking past The Wall again we headed for Checkpoint Charlie. Originally termed Checkpoint C, it was nicknamed Charlie by the Western Allied forces, it is the most famous, or perhaps infamous, of the crossing points between East and West Berlin during the Cold War.

Taking full advantage of the tourist spot it has become, there were guys dressed in original WWII uniforms offering visa stamps (1 euro for 1) and in true entrepreneurial fashion one guy was offering 1st class Facebook pictures, just 2 Euros each. It was rather amusing to watch.

Visa Stamp Soldier


Since I didn’t get an entry stamp into Germany, this one will count


Facebook Photo Soldier

We wandered all over and looked into a few museums but most of them were outrageously expensive. However we did find a cool tourist shop with a great photo op.

Famous style of German car during the Cald War Era


Stunning Architecture

It might not be stunning but it comes with Gluwein!

We walked across a park and held hands with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Karl and Friedrich

Then headed into the Nikolai Quarter, Nikolaiviertal, where Berlin was founded in the 13th Century. It has beautiful cobbled lanes and old shops and a a stunning old gothic church (also with an entry fee), but we at least got a glance. I would have loved to sit and have a cuppa and watch the world go by but it was so cold we decided to get going.

Our final exploration was in and around the Scheunviertal (Berlin’s Historic Jewish Quarter). Here is where I found some of the most poignant reminders and memorials to those who lost their lives to the Nazis hysteria that swept the country. Outside apartment buildings you would find at the entry, “Tripping Stones”. Their purpose was to do just that to make you stop and notice, to read and remember. The stones showed the names of the Jews who had disappeared from that building, the dates and when known, what had happened to them. It was heartbreaking on occasion.


Please Take A Moment to Remember…

Moving on and still tripping over the stones hear and there, we found the Hackesche Hofe, a series of beautifully restored courtyards, filled with shops and cafes and apartments and a maze that requires a GPS to find your way out. Eventually finding our way out we continued our search for a Synagogue that Cathleen had visited a few years ago. Just as the the rain started again we found it, and the entry fee. So sad how things cost so much money these days. I think if we had gone into everywhere we had hoped for we could have easily spent over 100 euros each.

After 4hrs of walking and with the rain and cold creeping in we caught a train back to the hostel where we enjoyed some coffee and dry clothes. Cathleen was certainly making sure I was walking off the bratwurst I was eating. Finally it was time to head to our rideshare and less that 2hrs later we had arrived in Cathleen’s hometown of Leipzig. Another train ride, 10minute walk and 3 flights of stairs, we both collapsed into a pile.

Tomorrow we shall begin domination of Leipzig… but right now sleep is in order!

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Coral Bay – The Hair Shave!

Red Nose day in Australia is a nationwide fundraiser for SIDS and KIDS. This year this organisations was close to my heart, so I made the decision to shave my head and raise as much as I could. In the end I raised $1317.25 AUD and in total the group raised over $3000 AUD. Here is a photographic series of the experience:

Pre-hair spray

Mid spray

My sponsors

Me and Albert (he is waxing his legs)

Tequila shot for courage

It begins

They had to bring out ... THE SCISSORS!!!!

Looking good and getting into the spirit

almost there

Ta Dah!

The group of shavees and waxees

I even got a certificate

Carolin and me!!

There is always a video: Kathy’s Head Shave

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Coral Bay – Day 165 to 169

22nd June to 26th June 2011

Day 15
MANTA RAY, WHALES, SHARKS and DUGONGS! OH MY!

Today there was a chance I might be able to get out on a full day Nature Tour which included manta snorkeling. Dragging myself out of bed at 8am I checked in at reception and found out that yes the tour was going and yes they could squeeze me on free of charge. Absolutely brilliant! If I got to see a manta ray, besides being downright cool, it also meant I could rationalize spending $18 on a pair of silver earrings shaped like mantas. Woohoo

The timing was also perfect, allowing me to return just in time to do my chores of 3pm kitchen and bathroom clean and 4pm vacuum. the boat I was going on was called the “Ningaloo”, very appropriate as Coral Bay is surrounded by the Ningaloo Coral Reef. The Bayview caravan park (who also own the hostel) run it and it usually costs around $150 and includes some snacks. At the front desk I discovered a fairly hungover Sandra, French girl from the bakery, was also hoping to get on the tour.

At the dock as we loaded the boat someone yelled out that they could see “Merv”. Merv is a 400kg grouper that lives under the jetty. In truth he is now a she and is called Mervette (groupers are prone to hermaphrodism). When I first looked over the jetty I saw a huge fish, then I realised that was just her fin, she is bloody blooming massive. I am sure if whale shark groups don’t see any she could quite easily double as one. She must have been over 2m long.

Heading out into the bay we turned left and went quite close to the outer reef. Here we had our first of three snorkel spots. The coral and fish were incredible, truly spectacular. We were warned not to swim towards the white wall that were the waves crashing on the outer reef, as, if we made it through, it was a one way ticket to the African coast.

Next stop was a 20min ride to the headland where I had walked to in previous days.

To ensure that we don’t spend hours boating around the area looking for the manta rays that live there year round, the company sends up a spotter plane. They tell the tourists it is strictly to find the mantas and save time, what they fail to mention is that they also spot tiger sharks and ensure that none come closer than 200m to us snorkeling.

Separating us into 2 groups we prepared to enter the water as soon as we found the manta. Since I was in group 2 I went to the front of the boat to help spot. Suddenly I say this dark shape turn white and knew I had seen the manta doing a feeding roll. It was enormous! Group 1 jumped in and my group prepared. When it was our turn we quickly slipped into the water and swam towards the deck hand who was following the manta while the others were picked up by the boat. Swimming over we realised the manta was almost 3m long from wing tip to wing tip and was right below us. It was so majestic as it literally “flew” through the water. Without warning it suddenly flipped over backwards and appeared to be coming straight at me. But was simply starting a feeding roll. Truly spectacular!



Once I got back on the boat I just sat and thought about the magnificent creature I had the honor of swimming with.

Then it was off to do look for whales. We were lucky enough to come across a humpback with a newborn. They were beautiful. We followed them for about half an hour and then headed off for our 3rd and last snorkel spot, the shark cleaning station. Due to the location of the station the boat had to anchor a bit of a swim away, guess that just made us easier to catch if we came across a hungry shark.

At the cleaning station we saw a number of grey reef sharks and apparently a bronze whaler (bronzy). Bronzies are also known to be a little on the meaner side and that might have been why we suddenly turned around and headed back, but not before we saw “Tripod”. A turtle with only three flippers who likes to hang out at the feeding station – possible explanation to the missing flipper.

After a truly spectacular day with yummy snacks and great company we headed back to shore just in time for me to start my chores of 3pm kitchen and bathroom cleaning. That evening was burger night and I excitedly got my burger, with an egg, and settled down to enjoy. Unfortunately, due to the long day in the sun and forgetting to drink water, I was completely exhausted and headed to bed at 8pm.

Day 16

Didn’t do much today, just relaxed, still felt a bit rough from the full on day before. JP and Carole, my fellow Oompah Loompahs, were leaving today but had commissioned a total of 10 bracelets from me, so I spent most of the morning doing those. Then did my chores and read my book.

Eik and Alex had caught fish so we had a fish fry with potato wedges and zucchini, yummy yummy!

Day 17
Shaving Day!

Today is the day! Everyone keeps asking me if I am nervous, or if I want to back out or if I am going to run off to Denham with the money… I wasn’t feeling nervous, till people asked me. I had no choice now after over $1000 raised so no backing out. And running off with the money…I wouldn’t be allowed home if I did that.

A photo blog will be up next so stay tuned to this page.

Day 18

Waking up with a lot less hair than I started with is an interesting experience. It also turned out to be the crappiest day since I had arrived, grey and rainy. In fact it was more like rain with the occasional downpour. This meant bed sounded good and I didn’t move until later in the morning. Did my chores, had my hair trimmed up and so it looks more like a number 2 and then hung out with Carolin. We had a bingo night at the hostel and I won a free bag of chips, just what I wanted for the bus trip tomorrow. So much for taking photos and doing a final lap of Coral Bay.

Day 19
Red Earth Tours

Got up at 8am to a beautiful clear day with not a cloud in the sky. Go figure. Went over to say goodbye to Carolin and Sandra at the bakery and pick up a pastry and cup of coffee for breakfast. After many farewells and hugs I boarded the bus to Perth with Red Earth Tours. Today would be 7hrs of driving but first we stopped at the sign announcing you have crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn.

On to the city of Northhampton where we stayed at the Old Convent (a 100yr old convent now turned hostel). As a beautiful sunset started there were tons of birds heading into the trees to roost.


Dinner was fish and chips, after which we all sat and watched Master Chef Australia and the Mentalist. Then time for bed as there was a 6am start the next day.

I shall miss Coral Bay, it is definately a place where time seems to stop and life involves beach and beer, or cider in my case. It is filled with great people and stunning scenery. But, as much as I hate to admit it, it is time to move on and discover more adventures.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Australia, RTW, Travel

 

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