May
31
2016

Whales are all the rage along the NSW coastline this winter

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

FROM full breaches like this photo supplied by the Wild About Whales crew to tail, chin and peck slaps, there’s a lot of action in the waters along the NSW and Queensland coastline with more than 20,000 migrating Humpback whales carving a path in the ocean. Where to spot them? There’s plenty of options along the east coast.

As the Destination NSW gang says, this winter is all about following a do-it-yourself whale trail along 2000km of scenic coastline between the Tweed and Eden offering a multitude of vantage points and experiences to spot these majestic beasts of the deep. Here are just some of their suggestions:

Option 1

In the Camden Haven area south of Port Macquarie, walk through Kattang Nature Reserve to Perpendicular Point to spot the passing whales. Wander along the 9km Port Macquarie Coastal Walk, where boardwalks and viewing platforms hug the coastline to the historic Tacking Point Lighthouse, looking for tell-tale signs of whales passing – breeching, tale splashing and water spouts. Closer to Coffs Harbour, the 10-metre catamaran Pacific Explorer makes daily whale watching trips to the nearby Solitary Islands Marine Park, one of the places where humpback whales converge on their annual migration to and from Antarctic waters.

Option 2

The Central Coast is buzzing with whale watching vantage points. Captain Cook Lookout, Copacabana is a great place to take the kids with two viewing decks, interpretative signage and a fully accessible path. The Skillion is the iconic tall outcrop at Terrigal with amazing views of North Avoca and Avoca beaches to the south, and Wamberal and Forresters beaches to the north. Set up a picnic blanket and enjoy expansive views over The Entrance and Shelly Beach at Crackneck Point in Wyrrabalong National Park. Norah Head Lighthouse also offers stunning views out to the Pacific Ocean and is home to the annual Whale Dreamers Festival in July.

Option 3

The Legendary Pacific Coast’s Whale Watching Trail features 71 of the best places to spot a whale between Avoca Beach and Tweed Heads. Plan a whale watching day-trip or week long whale watching mission with information on the website detailing best vantage points and experiences. A must-do is a cruise with Tamboi Queen, Imagine or Moonshadow in Port Stephens who all offer memorable experiences with whales.

Option 4

Grab a pair of binoculars and make the short climb to Newcastle’s iconic Nobbys Lighthouse, a popular place to spot whales with 360 degree views of the city, beach, coastline and ocean. Nova Cruises operate 2.5 to 3 hour ocean cruises from Newcastle including a bonus harbour and outer beach cruise.

Option 5

See whales from the air in Sydney with Blue Sky Helicopters on a 60 minute flight over Botany Bay and Cape Banks, heading north up the coast towards Palm Beach and Broken Bay. Be sure to visit the aptly named Whale Beach, which is said to have been named after the shape of its northern headland. Closer to town the viewing platform at Cape Solander in Botany Bay National Park is popular with whales often spotted only 200 metres from the coast. The site is is also part of a long-running whale-counting volunteer program running each June and July. The stunning cliff-top walking trail from Bondi to Coogee beach also offers fantastic opportunities for whale watching as do headlands at Clovelly Beach and North Maroubra. Plus get up close to these majestic animals on a whale-watching cruise departing from Circular Quay or Manly with Fantasea, Captain Cook, Manly Whale Watching, Oz Whale Watching or Whale Watching Sydney.

Option 6

Jervis Bay boasts a huge array of land and sea based whale watching options. Find a vantage point on the headland overlooking the bay, and head to Penguin Head at Culburra or the viewing platform in Booderee National Park located at Cape St George Lighthouse. Enjoy a seafood platter at Portside Cafe before boarding a Whale Eco-Cruise with Jervis Bay WildDolphin Watch Cruises specialise in calm water whale watching staying close to shore to view the “Humpback Highway” as it passes by. They also offer special event cruises including sunsets with the whales, BBQ with whales and even weddings with the whales.

For more visit www.visitnsw.com and www.wildaboutwhales.com.au

Also try Whale Watching Hot Spots

 

 

 

May
30
2016

5 random things to do in Seattle

By Seattle / United States /

Picking up a car rental in Seattle is your easy first job once lobbing in the Emerald City, and next comes the exciting part. What to do once you’ve got your wheels sorted! Try these five random ideas for a little fun in America’s gem of a West Coast seaport city.

1. Go for a paddle. It’s summertime in Seattle, so there’s no better cruisy activity than to go kayaking on Lake Union. The atmosphere is gorgoeus as you pass by a few sail boats, watch a few seaplanes rise up and land, and enjoy the serenity of a gentle paddle in a big patch of calm water. A little more adventurous at heart? Then test your abs with a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) experience. For more check out http://www.nwoc.com/rental

2. Explore South Park’s art scene. The locals will tell you the arts community is a ripper in the South Park area, one that nurtures its artists and embraces creativity. You won’t be disappointed and you can start with national icon on the stone sculpting front, Jesus Bautista Moroles, and the generous donation of “Musical Steles,” comprised of three musical basalt columns fabricated in the South Park neighborhood. Tap a rock on the sculptures to whip up your own musical treat. There’s also River City skate murals to discover,  the artwork at South Transfer station, and the very noticeable Cloverdale banners on South Park’s main thoroughfare.

3. Visit Archie McPhee. A novely shop like no other! Rubber hands, rubber chickens, devil baby dolls, a bucket of doll parts, tentacle finger puppets, world’s largest underpants (100 inch waist) with matching lollipop … I’m not saying any more because the nightmares will begin again! More http://archiemcpheeseattle.com/

4. Explore a museum with music at its heart (pictured). Hendrix, Foo Fighters, Macklemore, grunge music – EMP (Experience Music Project) is a nonprofit museum to rule them all, “dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture”. With its heart in rock ‘n’ roll, EMP is a museum that reaches and connects with all ages through collections, exhibitions and educational programs, “using interactive technologies to engage and empower our visitors”. More http://www.empmuseum.org/

5. Hit the road. Olympic National Park is beautiful and no more than a two and half road trip away. Discover everything from mountains, lakes, beaches to hotsprings and rainforests. A gorgeous part of the world only a short drive out of Seattle.

SCOTT PODMORE

May
24
2016

What’s hot on the Melbourne food scene

By Australia / Melbourne /

Food brings friends together for memorable experiences. True foodies know exactly where to head on Melbourne’s food scene to uncover some of the city’s most delicious treats. Hire a car from Melbourne Airport and add these five tasty experiences to your list.

Flower Drum (pictured)
This Chinese restaurant oozes fine dining and Cantonese cuisine. Situated in Market Lane in Melbourne’s CBD, the restaurant’s executive chef Anthony Lui ensures fresh ingredients are purchased daily from the nearby market. They’re then skilfully served onto your plate. Make sure you try the signature dish, the Peking Duck. It’s a delicious combination of plum sauce, spring onion, cucumber and tender pieces of roast duck.

Republica
Republica is seaside dining at its best. This casual restaurant sits on the waterfront in the St Kilda Baths and boasts central open fireplaces. Enjoy modern Australian cuisine while admiring views of Port Phillip Bay. There are many flavorsome entrees to choose from. We’d highly recommend the chilli tiger prawns or the grilled Victorian lamb for the main course.

Piggery café
Shannon Bennett’s Piggery Café draws people from all over Melbourne. Some of the café-bakery;s best offers include charcoal barbecue chicken, Wagyu burgers and zesty salads. Grab some delicious breads and pastries from the adjoining Burnham Bakery. Sit inside this rustic venue and enjoy flavours from around the world. Only then will you wonder why you didn’t discover this place sooner.

Italian Wine and Food Festival
Flavours of Italy will fill the Royal Exhibition Building for one day only in May. This Italian feast is like heaven! Choose from creamy pastas and gourmet pizzas to homemade meatballs that melt in your mouth. There are also little treats, including gelati. But wine-lovers unit! There are more than 250 wines to sample and there’s even a wine masterclass.

Good Food and Wine Show
Make the most of the Good Food and Wine Show this year. It’ll run from June 3-5 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Purchase a general admission ticket and you’ll be able to browse hundreds of local and international exhibitors. Famous culinary experts will also take the stage. Watch closely as they share tips and cook delicious dishes live.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

May
23
2016

5 hot events in Queensland this winter

By Australia / Brisbane / Queensland /

THE winter chill has arrived in the south but there’s always a way to warm up in Queensland. Looking to head north for a winter escape? Nap a Brisbane car rental for some Queensland exploration and to try any of these five great reasons to ditch the southern freeze and enjoy some northern exposure …

One … Relish Food and Wine Festival (June 4, pictured)

From the Hinterland to the Bay, the Fraser Coast has an awesome array of fresh produce, locally made food products and unforgettable dining experiences. The Fraser Coast Food Story – Relish Fraser Coast is about connecting local growers and producers with the area’s restaurants and cafès to create some magic. What started with the food and wine festival in 2013 has grown into something that encompasses the year round offerings of the Fraser Coast. For all the details, head to relishfrasercoast.com.au

Two … Broadbeach Country Music Festival (June 17-19)

Adam Brand and The Outlaws, The Sunny Cowgirls, Jasmine Rae and the Adam Eckersley Band are just some of the massive country music stars heading for the sunny Gold Coast for the fourth annual Broadbeach Country Music Festival. Combining ‘Country with the Coast’, the beachside event is free and will showcase premier country performers outdoor stages and in venues throughout the entire Broadbeach precinct. The incredible line-up will feature more than 30 artists. For more visit www.broadbeachcountry.com

Three … The Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival (June 24-July 2)

Lights, camera, action. Nine days, 30 films, 1000 scenes. Winton’s Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival is a film festival like no other, celebrating Australian film and culture under the stars of Winton in Outback Queensland. The Festival will combine an incomparable program of classic and contemporary Australian films under the stars in the historic, open air Royal Theatre in Winton’s main street; plus conversations, yarns, masterclasses, film making competitions, tag-a-long tours and social activities. Join them on the red carpet for opening night. More visit www.visionsplendidfilmfest.com

Four … Mary Poppins Festival in the Park (July 2)

With the author of Mary Poppins, Pamela Travers, born in Maryborough in Queensland, it’s little wonder the city celebrates it’s unique link to the iconic nanny with the world’s only Mary Poppins festival – a week long explosion of colour, art, culture and “practically perfect” fun for everyone. Maryborough’s heritage streetscapes are transformed into scenes from the Poppins novels. Nannies race each other pushing prams in the great Nanny Challenge; chimney sweeps compete in the Chimney Sweep Dash while Mary Poppins characters come to life from the pages of books and mingle with the crowd. The entertainment includes professional street theatre performers, sidewalk artists, jugglers, roving Penny Farthing, grand costume parade, kite display, vintage cars, carnival rides and old fashioned games and workshops. Visit www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au

Five … Rockhampton River Festival (July 15-17)

This amazing river festival in July brings the incredible past, creative present and bright future of Rockhampton together for a massive three day celebration. At the 2016 festival expect to dream big and escape the ordinary under the ‘River Revery’ theme. Festival goers can dream the impossible, wander the mysterious, play to the spontaneity and feast on delicious delicacies, leaving your mind boggling, taste-buds tingling and your imagination soaring. The three day festival has free entertainment, interactive arts, contemporary tunes, delicious food, great people and superb winter sunshine. With more than 30,000 people expected at the festival this year, book early before accommodation sells out. Visit www.rockhamptonriverfestival.com.au

ALSO try Trips within two hours of Brisbane or Unmissable events in Queensland

SCOTT PODMORE

 

May
19
2016

Fabulous festivals in Seattle and surrounds

By United States /

Seattle is one of the most exciting and colourful destinations. In this world-class city, fabulous festivals running almost every weekend.

When you touchdown at Seattle Airport, grab a hire car and explore these exciting festivals this July.

Fourth of July in Bainbridge
Fireworks, parades, street fairs, car shows, kids activities… you name it! Fourth of July celebrations are huge across the United States. It’s definitely worth spending this year’s national holiday on Bainbridge Island. Other highlights include live music, a classic car show, foot race and a beer garden. Bainbridge Island proves there’s something for everyone on the Fourth of July!

Seattle International Beerfest
From July 8 to 10 you can choose from 220 beers at Fisher Pavillion at Seattle Centre. This event specialises in unique and hard-to-find beers. It also aims to encourage visitors to try something they’ve never tried before. Organisers go to a lot of trouble to source the very best exotic drinks “that you’ve never heard of” and will satisfy as you listen to great bands play.

Bite of Seattle
This festival runs from July 15 to 17. Bite of Seattle is the north west’s premier food and beverage showcase. It features more than 60 restaurants and vendors, where you can sample craft beer and cider and also take part in live cooking demonstrations. There are also five outdoor music stages where you can enjoy live music.

Chinatown International District Dragon Festival
The Dragon Festival is the largest annual Asian American celebration in the Pacific Northwest. It’s set in the heart of Seattle’s historic Chinatown over two days starting on July 16. The streets come to life with colourful multi-cultural performances and food and walking tours. It also treats you to non-stop Japanese drumming, martial arts, and Filipino and Indian dancing, to name a few activities.

Go Klondike Legacy Day
This unique, one-of-a-kind festival takes you back in time. Re-live the 19th Century, when people from all over came to the goldfields in search of fortune. On July 17 the whole family can celebrate the first gold arriving in Seattle. You can try your hand at gold panning, a scavenger hunt and dog-sledding while listening to old-time music.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

May
18
2016

Five things to do in Liverpool and surrounds

By Europe / UK /

Liverpool in North West England proudly carries the title of the country’s most successful footballing city. Home to both Liverpool and Everton with close to 30 League championships plus many other major titles, it’s also

Hire a car from Liverpool airport and add these five great activities to your things to do in Liverpool and surrounds list.

Tour Liverpool Cathedral
At first glance, Liverpool Cathedral is impressive. Once you step inside and pay closer attention to the building’s finer details and artwork, it’ll blow you away. Just a few minutes inside and you’ll come to understand why high profile poet and writer Sir John Benjamin called it “one of the great buildings of the world.” Britain’s largest cathedral is free to enter, and hosts many events on a daily basis.

Tour the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Massive Beatles fans take note! A guided tour takes you to Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road – the homes where Beatles stars John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up. Learn about their childhoods and reflect on the making of one of the greatest bands in the history of music. You’ll never again have the opportunity to walk through their homes and stand in the very spot where the pair composed some of their most popular songs.

Visit the Museum of Liverpool (pictured)
This museum is completely devoted to the history of Liverpool and how it’s emerged over the centuries. There are several free fascinating exhibits featuring a total of more than 6,000 objects. Discover Liverpool’s social and historical issues, along with the city’s many triumphs since it was founded in 1207. Learn about the regional city’s rich sporting past and see the stage where music legends Paul McCartney and John Lennon first met.

Walk the Sandstone Trail
This scenic trail stretches 55km across the green countryside of Cheshire. It’s become one of England’s most popular long distance walks in North West England. The trail begins in the ancient market town of Frodsham, which is only a 40min drive from Liverpool city, to Georgian Whitchurch. You can split the walk over several days or just stroll for a few hours. Some of the best sections are where you walk past Delamere Forest and ancient Utkinton Hall.

Explore the Mersey River
Signing up to one of the daily cruises on the world-famous Mersey River takes you past many of Liverpool’s most iconic sights. Hop on board a one hour River Explorer Cruise, where you’ll take in magnificent riverside views and learn about the history and the role Mersey Ferries played in WWI. You can also organise to stop off at some of the waterfront attractions with the family.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

May
12
2016

5 ways to play in Sydney this winter

By Australia / Sydney /

In winter when you’re in need of a holiday, look no further than Sydney! While the coastal city comes to life in summer, it’s also an exciting destination full of things to do in winter.

Hire a car through DriveNow, chuck on some warmer layers and check out this list of five ways to play in Sydney during the cold weather.

Sydney Opera House

The Opera House caused a controversial stir when it first opened in 1973. However, with time it became one of the twentieth century’s most iconic manmade attractions. It’s highly recommended that you get your hands on some tickets to see a show one night. You can also book a tour to gain VIP backstage access to the Opera House and learn about its fascinating history.

Whale watching

From April to November each year, thousands of whales migrate between New South Wales and Queensland to give birth. While on their journey to and from the warmer northern waters, the humpback whales pass Sydney. Grab a pair of binoculars and make your way to North Head Lookout and Cape Solander. These are some of the best vantage points to spot humpback whales.

Roller skating

It can be hard to get motivated to exercise during the cooler months. So why not make it fun? Head to Sydney’s Rollerhouse, where you’ll experience the ultimate roller disco! Sing along to your all-time-favourite tunes, grab your leg warmers and dress up in neon gear for the night. All while improving your skating skills with your friends!

Sydney Observatory

Visit the Sydney Observatory to learn about the stars and planets that fill our night sky. It’s set inside a beautiful sandstone building, which is the highest point that overlooks the harbour. Guides will teach you about the universe while you explore the exhibitions on display. During the daytime, you can also put on special lenses to observe the sun. The observatory is open 10am to 5pm daily.

Vivid Sydney

Every year Vivid Sydney warms up the city with its incredible light displays. Taronga Zoo, The Royal Botanic Garden and the Sydney Opera House are among the iconic sites that will light up with moving projections of magical colours and patterns. In 2016, the festival runs from May 27 to June 18. This year’s theme is heavily focused on flora and fauna.

Also … 5 short road trips from Sydney and 7 top spots for a sunrise or sunset in Sydney

BRIANNA PIAZZA

May
11
2016

On the road in Chicago and surrounds

By United States /

In Chicago there are many great things to stop off and explore while you’re on the road. Admire the great city from the sky and discovering its natural surrounds.

Grab your DriveNow hire car at Chicago Airport and you’ll come across these great destinations.

360 Chicago Observation Deck (pictured)
In the heart of downtown Chicago is the 360 Observation Deck. From the 94th floor of this 344m tall building you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the magnificent city and Lake Michigan. On clear days you can see across the lake to four other states. Consider a visit at sunset, to watch the sky change to a golden colour over the city. Enjoy a nice meal at the tower too, so your views last longer.

Chicago Theatre
Take a tour of this legendary theatre to truly admire the history and finer details of the Baroque interiors. Stand on the world famous stage and search for the autographs of your favourite actors on the backstage wall. After organising a tour, it’s well worth booking tickets to see one of the latest stage plays on show now. Tickets are available via the theatre’s website.

Segway tour
Whether you’re an experienced rider or complete beginner, a Segway ride is something that absolutely anyone can do! In the city that doesn’t rest, so neither should you! Find a Segway tour company and have fun whizzing past the locals as you take in the Chicago skyline. Your group guide will also teach you about the city’s history and hidden attractions which few tourists know about.

Lake Michigan
One of the greatest things about Chicago is the beautiful, expansive body of water that sits right next to the city. In the summer months, the Lake is thriving and there are plenty of water activities. Park your car near the lake and hire a jetski for an exhilarating ride, learn to stand up paddle board or even rent a boat to explore the lake at your own pace.

Starved Rock State Park
Drive two hours southwest of the city and you’ll find this stunning state park. It’s famous for its canyons, waterfalls and several hiking trails. Another great thing about this natural wonder is its abundant recreational activities, including picnicking, fishing, horseback riding and camping. A visit to this scenic spot of Illinois is definitely worth the drive!

BRIANNA PIAZZA

May
06
2016
no image added yet.

Great holiday ideas in Leicester

By Europe / UK /

After miraculously winning the English soccer EPL, more international visitors are noticing Leicester. You can easily hire a car from the city’s Airport and explore its amazing surrounds.

Here’s a list of things to see and do in Leicester.

King Power Stadium
Number one on the to do list for soccer fans is a trip to King Power Stadium – the very location where thousands of fans spilled from the stadium and out onto the streets to cheer after Leicester City took out this year’s EPL title. Sign up for a tour of the stadium. You’ll gain VIP access to areas usually reserved for only players and officials.

National Space Centre
Walk the same halls as Buzz Aldrin. See Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman’s spacesuit up close. With six galleries, including the iconic 42 metre high Rocket Tower, you’ll have plenty to keep you enthralled for hours. The centre is also home to the UK’s largest domed planetarium. You can even take part in modules which show you what it’s like to live in space.

Belvoir Castle
Drive 45 minutes north east of Leicester and you’ll find the stunning Belvoir Castle. The majestic castle sits on a 16,000 acre estate and overlooks stunning green countryside. It’s privately owned but from March to September the site is open to the public. Guided tours are offered on limited days, so make sure you book ahead before turning up.

Leicester’s Abbey Park
This popular park is perfect for a relaxing afternoon picnic. It’s also located only a few minutes north of the city centre. On one side of the River Soar you’ll encounter the fascinating Abbey Grounds, which feature the ruins of a seventeenth century mansion and the remains of the twelfth century Leicester Abbey. On the other side is a beautiful lake and decorative Victorian gardens.

Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower
The clock tower was built in 1868 and stands tall and proud over the city, earning its reputation as one of Leicester’s most iconic landmarks. It’s also regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful clock towers. This popular meeting spot sits at the point where five main streets meet. This ornamental structure was mostly built with Ketton stone, and is beautiful to simply stand in front of and admire.

BRIANNA PIAZZA