Fjordland National Park in New Zealand is a truly magnificent place to go. On our recent cruise we were favored with fantastic weather outside, but inside Sue Adams was a bit under the weather so some of the viewing was done just from our stateroom balcony. As we were passing by another stunning waterfall, some dolphins just happened to swim by and put on a show for us. Wow! #love2getaway
You know, some people still wonder…Do I really need to have a balcony cabin? uh, yes you do!
There are a few things in life that I know to be true. One, I love to travel and two, I love animals. Almost any destination and certainly almost ever animal (okay spiders and snakes are creepy but I mean like animals not reptiles or insects). But I digress….
Koala, Churchill Island, Australia
Living in north central Wisconsin we have the usual set of animals (think farm, normal pets and wildlife) but when we travel we are opened to a whole new world of living creatures. Take for example a trip to Australia. Here you have an opportunity to get up close and personal with Kangaroo, Wallaby, Wombat and Tasmanian Devil. How cool is that! Some of these animals you’ll be lucky enough to see in the wild but not the Tasmanian Devi. The Devil is an endangered species due to a cancerous facial tumor that has affected 30- 50% of the wild population. But have no fear, nearby Hobart is the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Visiting this sanctuary will allow you hands on contact with several native Australian animals. You can feed kangaroos, pet wombats and koala and observe the cute little Tasmanian Devil. Our visit to the sanctuary was a highlight for this traveling animal lover.
I know what you are thinking, well sure there are cool animals in Australia but that is a long trip and I can’t go that far. Have no fear, cool animals are everywhere you just have to look. Let’s take the good old USA for example. A trip to Alaska in the summer will provide you with an opportunity to see humpback whales feeding in the kelp rich waters. And yes, a humpback whale is a mammal so thus does not fall in the creepy category 😊 Now the very best way to see whales (all types in AK) is a small craft tour (boats that hold 18 – 36 people max). When choosing your tour company also be sure the boats are safe for those magnificent creatures you have come to see (no dangerous propellers).
Faerie Penguins, Churchill Island, Australia
What about the Polar bear, I mean the kind that live outside the zoo? Wouldn’t it be cool to see them fishing for salmon out of a river? A trip to Alaska, Canada, Norway, Russia or Greenland will provide you with the opportunity to see these at animals in the wild. Of course, you aren’t just going to happen upon them, you’ll need a guided expedition or tour to give you the best chance of watching them in their natural habitat. From Fairbanks you can take a tour mid Aug – late Step (side note, due to global warming it is expected that the polar bear could become extinct in the years to come). This one is still on my bucket list!
Bear at Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Alaska
Still too exotic you say. Well as I said earlier, I love animal, pretty much any. In particular though I happen to covet my Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Fergus. And yes, I look for his kin just about everywhere I go. I’ve seen them in France, Holland and Ireland, just to mention a few. And each time I come upon one I smile and feel love.
Fergus – Our Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
So, pick your favorite animals and travel! You’ll be surprised to see so many along the way.
This BLOG post originally appeared 11/12/11 on our old site with the title “what the heck is MONA”. MONA is still a great place to visit so we thought we would re-post. Hopefully we will get to Tasmania again some day soon!
Just a short flight from Melbourne takes you to the island of Tasmania known for the Tasmanian Devil and convicts.
On our first night in the Australian state of Tasmania we stayed at the lovely, modern and somewhat funky Mona Pavillion. Here there are 8 stand alone villa units with either one or two bedrooms as well as a presidential suite facing the River Derwent. From the outside they look somewhat like a space ship.
From the inside they are right out of a James Bond movie. Each unit is named after Australian artists or architects. We stayed in Walter.
Walter from the outside
Living space in Walter
Each villa faces the harbor providing wonderful views throughout the day. And how could you not have a wonderful view, 3 of the walls are windows. Now i’m not saying they have windows….i’m saying they ARE windows. Full windows with shades that are operated by remote controls on the walls. How cool is that!
These modernly appointed villas have everything your heart desires including a stocked wine bar, chilling each bottle to its exact prefect drinking temperature! The fridge is stocked with local beers, juices, soft drinks and milk.
Yes, we had to pull them out to take a photo!
Our unit was a two bedroom, each with it’s own bathroom. And speaking of bathroom! Yeah this is my kind of set up! Oversized Jacuzzi tub with TV on the wall and a remote that if dropped into the water neither electrocutes you and still works!
The beds, extremely comfortable….you’ll just have to take my word on that and in the morning wake to the wonderful sounds of nature chirping outside. Our bedrooms were tastefully decorated, some had a bit more of the shock factor going on.
Bedroom #1 in Walter
Bedroom #2 in Walter
One of the bedroom’s in the Roy (the largest pavilion)
Each unit is priced differently based upon it’s size but run between $390 – $990 per night based upon 2-4 guests. Plus tax of course. There are full cooking and laundry facilities in each unit.
These pavilions have everything a traveler could want. As a matter of fact on a placard in the villas it says “we can arrange almost anything legal, just ask”. I’d call that customer service!
So what the heck is MONA?
Well it stands for Museum of Old and New Art. Mona is located just a short 10 minutes outside Hobart, Tasmania and is home to a somewhat shocking if not weird museum, a vineyard, cellar door and wine bar, a brewery, a restaurant, the Pavilion’s and of course a shop.
The cellar door
At the cellar door you get a 1 hr. tasting and the admission fee is refunded if you purchase. Wine tours are available for $15.
Of course we tasted…and purchased!
The wine bar and brewery
On Friday and Saturday evenings you can get a 1 hr. beer tour and tasting for $15. They make 4 types of beer and all have no preservatives and are not pasteurized. You got to love the catchy “Moo Beer” name! Wine and beer master classes can be arranged upon request.
Believe it or not, we did not try them all!
As for the museum, lets just say it might not be for everyone as many exhibits are downright shocking and for some would be repulsive.
As the statement goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” this pretty much sums the gallery up. The owner, David Walsh aka Glenn Walsh. Tourists not from Tasmania pay $20 for admission, those under 18 are free. Some of the exhibits are sexually explicit, others personally confronting thus the gallery may not be for children.
Plaster molds of a woman’s privates
The white room
The woodpecker (sorry just trying to give you a feel for the museum)
The human digestive system recreated, this woman is actually feeding the machine lunch at 1130am (sandwich, salad, fruit and a drink). At 200pm it has a bowel movement! We did not hang around for that!!
Coolest thing in the museum, mummy on the left, xray tomography of it on the right!
So, that is MONA. Who wants to go? It really is quite a cool place, definitely 2 or 3 nights are needed.
Are you looking for a girls getaway to the Caribbean? How about a wine club tour of France, Italy or New Zealand? Would your church group like to experience the footsteps of St. Paul in Turkey and Greece? What about taking a group of your friends to Napa to celebrate a milestone birthday? How about a family reunion on an Alaskan cruise? Ski club trip to Vail? Scrapbooking club River Cruise in Austria? Choral group trip to Christmas markets in Germany? Foodies group at Walt Disney World food and wine festival? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
The possibilities are endless. We can help with generating ideas, the detailed planning, the marketing and of course getting everyone in your group to where they need to go. While we work with the group leaders to help craft the whole experience, we also make sure that we meet the needs of individual travellers within the group as well.
Have an idea for a group GetAway? We need to talk – (262) 538-2140
Destination weddings are very popular and for very good reasons: They can cost considerably less than a traditional wedding, and often include more. You can choose from many amazingly beautiful locations. You and your select family and friends get a wonderful vacation experience you will always remember.
We have helped many clients just like you have amazing destination weddings. We are such experts that in fact, our own wedding was a destination wedding!
We bet you never heard this version of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita. There is only one place that we know of where you can go see and hear Madonna’s entire greatest hits album “The Immaculate Collection”, performed by a bunch of people singing Karaoke in their individual sound booths.
When we were last in Tasmania we had the wonderful opportunity to take a Wineglass to Wine glass trek.
From the Freycinet Lodge we walk up the Hazard Mountains to the Wineglass bay lookout. Here we took in spectacular views of the Freycinet Peninsula and the Tasman Sea. Then we descended down into the bay, tracked across the isthmus to Hazards Beach and then partook in a rather sumptuous meal of local cheeses, fresh seafood , Tasmanian beef and quail, and just a few glasses of Tasmanian wine and beer.
Our trek begins
The trekkers are ready! Including our “celebrity” pal (no longer) bachelor Jason Mesnick
Here is a view of Wineglass bay from the lookout
Beautiful view from the beach at Wineglass bay
Artistic sand shot!
After we leave the bay to cross the isthmus, we meet a Jill Wallaby with a Joey in the pouch – awesome!
We’ve been spotted!
Hazard beach now in sight on the other side of the isthmus.
Now leaving Hazards Beach and heading towards our feast.
Our personal chef hard at work, also a nice selection of local beer to help us recover from the walk.
Our dining room!
What more appropriate start than a bottle of Hazards Ale from Wineglass Bay Brewing!
We had just stopped into an Auckland ice bar and had our obligatory cocktail out of our ice glass, while sitting on our ice stool, looking at ice sculptures. Maybe it was the chill our brains received, but the 15 meter tall duck that sat in the harbor around the corner from us, did make us stop and take a bit of pause.
Giant Rubber Ducky
At no point during our trip planning for New Zealand did we think of seeking out a giant rubber ducky. In fact, searching out giant rubber ducks has never made onto any itinerary that we’ve prepared for ourselves or our clients.
“Rubber ducky you’re the one, you help make bath time fun…I’m awfully fond of you…”
For any travel, it’s the unexpected moments like this that really make great vacations awesome.
We will leave you with one final thought on rubber duckies. It’s the meme that really started it all for these fun creatures. Careful though if you click play, the song may be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. “He’s cute and yellow and chubby….rub a dub dubby..”
At the travel agency we receive lots of brochures from suppliers. Many times I’ll open a packet, store the brochures and toss everything else including the packing material into recycling. Sometimes I’ll even put the brochures right into recycling bin if it is from a supplier that we don’t really feels works best for our customers. Oftentimes the brochures include some sort of cover letter which is usually related to telling us what we should know about any new products the supplier has or what highlights we should read in the brochures. Recently one cover letter caught my attention and I thought I would share.
Kirk Demeter is the president of Down Under Answers (DUA). As you’d expect with the name Down Under Answers, they specialize in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific destinations. Kirk wrote what I feel is an inspiring cover letter to include with their 2013-2014 travel planners.
” As I cast about for positive resolutions for 2013, a bumper sticker came to mind – ‘Life is uncertain; eat dessert first’. I decided to amend that to – Life is uncertain; take the trip first.
In our business we hear constantly from customers how their trip was ‘life enhancing’, how it fulfilled a long-held dream, how it was so much more than expected. That it led to new friends, fueled their desire to travel even more and inspired others to travel.
There are always several items on our wish lists, and we all love new toys, but a trip is something that never loses its novelty, no matter how many times we look at the photos, or turn to each other and say ‘remember the day we…’. Trips don’t sit in the garage or attic gathering dust; they live within us, making us feel good each time we think back.”
Trips certainly do live within us. Our travel experiences help shape our thoughts, desires and values. Sometimes on trips we learn grace, sometimes we learn humility, sometimes we even learn that we eat too many desserts when we are not at home!
Which would you remember more fondly 10 years from now, your new 60″ super duper plasma monster TV, or diving off the deck of your over-water bungalow in Fiji? The TV probably won’t even last 10 years, but the memories of the island will stay with you forever. I agree – Life is uncertain; take the trip first.
Cape Palliser is located on the southernmost point of the North Island of New Zealand and was sort of on our way to Wellington after leaving Martinborough. The Cape is actually further south on the North Island than the city of Nelson which is on the South Island. The Cape Palliser Lighthouse is located here along with a permanent fur seal colony.
The fur seal colony at the cape is the North Island’s largest. New Zealand fur seals have pointy noses, long whiskers, visible external ears and bodies covered with two layers of fur. These guys were an absolute joy to observe. It was so wonderful to just spend time watching them in their natural habitat. While most seemed a bit indifferent to our visit and you could get fairly close, I didn’t think it too wise to impose so greatly on them. Best to use a telephoto lens instead.