Monday, 21 December 2015

2015 Round Up

This year, 2015, will go down in my history as a big year. It was the year that I decided to take a big risk. I took leave from my job, the security and stability that came with it, but to walk away from the stress and worry that also came with it. 

I planned and planned and looking back now I probably planned a little too much, but hindsight is a great thing and at the time I thought that's what I needed to do.

So my great year of travel has meant a lot wonderful content for the blog, some of which I haven't even gotten around to sharing with you. Today I am going to share with you my most popular 11, because I just couldn't leave one out, in no particular order, culminating with my most favourite post of the year, which also just happens to outline the most favourite thing I did whilst overseas.

Zita Hooke blog

Monday, 14 December 2015

Christmas Confessions

I must confess as always I am met with mixed emotions when it comes to Christmas but this year it's extra difficult.

I was not raised in a religious environment at all. I am not sure I truly believe in the 'true' meaning of Christmas and I guess if I HAD to state my believes or align myself with one group over another then I would say I am agnostic. The only times I am at a church is for a wedding or a funeral, so at this time of year I must confess I often feel like somewhat of a hypocrite and that I am totally buying into social pressures and only buying presents and doing the whole 'Christmas thing' because the calendar and society dictates that I should.

But then I also think that Christmas is also a time to gather with family and friends and those we hold near and dear and I love the joy of giving and receiving special gifts that have been especially chosen for the recipient. I love watching people, especially my niece and nephews, open the presents I have picked for them. My twin nephews are now 2 so are getting into the Christmas spirit a little more this year, pointing and smiling and saying Santa every time the guy in the big red suit comes on the telly, even though their Christmas photo doesn't display this same excitment. My family usually decides last minute what we are doing and where we are going and some years it can be a little like groundhog day but I guess the important thing is that we are all together.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas gifts for travellers

I must confess one of my go to guaranteed pick me ups is shopping, and with Christmas just around the corner I thought I'd share with you four of my favourite gifts for travellers*.

Christmas gifts for travellers

Travel Journal - from InkyBlots
Quote Print - from PeppaPennyPrints
Quote Necklace - from HonourYou
Scratch Map - from Sellazaurus

Monday, 23 November 2015

Random questions asked while travelling overseas.

When you travel overseas you are met with many a varied response when you declare that you are Australian. For the most part people react positively, usually stating how much they love Australia, would love to visit Australia or have some personal connection with Australia. There's also the love for our accent and occasionally a request for a "G'day mate" which, sorry to burst your bubble or dream about Australians....we don't actually say it that much.

I must confess there are often some surprising reactions and questions I have been faced with while travelling when mentioning that I come from the great land down under....

Monday, 16 November 2015

My love/hate relationship with organised tours

I like to think of myself as one of those people who tries to see both sides of the story. Someone who can look at the glass half empty and half full.

Sometimes I see this as a positive thing but sometimes it can be a little frustrating. It can make it very difficult to make decisions and determine which side I'm going to chose. 

So when it comes to the debate of 'whether to do an organised tour or not' I sit on the fence. I have seen this question pop up from time to time in various Facebook groups I am part of and am sometimes surprised with how quickly people respond with a resounding 'NO'.

Contiki Tour
My first and last Contiki back in 2009

Monday, 2 November 2015

for Melbourne Cup in Perth

I must confess... it's Raych here from Agent Mystery Case. I've blognapped have the gorgeous Zita staying with me here in Perth this week and I've taken this opportunity to briefly take over her blog and her schedule. This means for the first time, I believe, Zita who normally works each and every Melbourne Cup is free to kick up her heels and have a bit of fun with the race that stops a nation in its tracks.

There are a lot of fabulous Melbourne Cup events here in Perth, so it was hard to know which event to choose for a first timer. In the end I narrowed it down to my top 4, that still had tickets available.

Matisse Beach Club


Monday, 26 October 2015

to fly West... Perth here I come!

I'm sure for regular readers this won't come as much of a surprise but I must confess travelling somewhere new is never far from my mind, both domestically and internationally. And somewhere that has always been pretty high on my list domestically is the capital of the west, Perth.... Actually on my ultimate road trip wish list is flying to Perth hiring a small camper van and driving to Darwin but it's not a trip I am brave enough to do solo and I haven't been able to find someone to join my venture!... Anyway, back to this trip! 

Since being home from my last trip to the U.S. and Canada I had been thinking about where I'd like to venture to next, actually who am I kidding, I was already looking before I left Canada! So when a chat with a travel agent friend of mine turned into looking at flights to Perth and finding some that were at a great price, the travel bug in me couldn't resist and later this week I am taking off again! 

My fascination for visiting Perth has only been strengthened by reading blogs about the most isolated capital city in the world (true story!), in particularly Agent Mystery Case, who makes the city seem so appealing! But rumour has it that there is "nothing to do in Perth" and so I am making it my week long mission to bust this rumour and prove it all kinds of wrong!

Now as soon as I mentioned to Raych aka... Agent Mystery Case, she was on the case hunting down unique and super fun activities and events for us to partake in and I actually timed my visit to coincide with the Event Ready show which looks just fab! (extra confession...I've never actually been to a fashion show and even though I do not consider myself a fashion guru and even though I am super nervous and have no idea what I am going to wear I am also super excited to get a glimpse into this part of the fashion word!).

Two regular calendar events happen while I am in Perth, the first being Halloween, which I am a little puzzled as to why Australia has jumped on this bandwagon but when an invitation popped up to attend the Wolf Lane Halloween Howls event we jumped at the chance ($10 Spiced Pumpkin Daiquiri's! Yes Please!). The second event being that little horse race that happens on the first Tuesday in November! Now working in schools since forever has meant that I have never had the joy of attending a glamorous or even a not so glamorous event so I am looking forward to what Perth has in store for the Melbourne Cup. 

We have a few other events that we will be attending but I don't want to give away all our secrets and plans, you'll have to follow along on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what we get up to on our mission to prove there's heaps to do in Perth!!

Having said that though there are a few gaps in the itinerary that I would love to fill with those gaps with suggestions from you! 

Have you been to Perth? 

What's on your must see/do list?

Got a Perth based travel blog you love that I need to know about?

Please share in the comments below!

**Linking up with My Home Truths for I Must Confess, One Mother Hen for Open Slather and My Brown Paper Packages for Wednesday Wanderlust and Agent Mystery Case for Worth Casing Wednesday**

**Image Credit... Thanks to Agent Mystery Case for supplying all images for this post, can't wait to see them in real life!!

Monday, 28 September 2015

This time last year....

I must confess that on one hand I am finding it so hard to believe that it's been 12 months since my trip to Vietnam, and on the other hand it feels like a lifetime ago.

For my, spending my two week September school holidays in Vietnam was kind of like a test run. Up until this point all my travels had been to first world countries where the primary language was English so this was a step outside my comfort zone to see if I could handle a much longer holiday in a developing Asian country.

I was pleasantly surprised, and a little shocked, by all that Vietnam had to offer and had a wonderful time. One that I still think of often with fond memories. 

Since my trip there I have blogged about may of the things I saw and did, and there probably are a few more blog posts in that trip that have yet to be written... Just add that up there on my list of things to do along with find a job and somewhere to live.

I started off my sharing my 5 must have packing items for my trip, for any overseas trip I take really. I will confess that the awesome DSLR handbag didn't really live up to my expectations and the long handle broke whilst overseas which meant I've had to replace it but am yet to find something that I love and meets my travelling needs. 

And what's a trip overseas without a post on what to wear on your long haul flight! For me I am all about comfort when I fly, and I try and do it with a little bit of style, but sometimes a 'stuff it' attitude sneaks in. 

Zita Hooke Travel blog

One of my favourite days in Vietnam was when we were in Hue. We took a cyclo tour through the city to a local families home who showed us some traditional Vietnamese hospitality and food. It was such a great night and made me smile so much!

Vietnam Travel Blog

One of the things that I was looking forward to in Hoi An was getting some clothes tailor made. Having the body shape that I do means I find it extremely difficult to find clothes that fit me well, especially on the bottom, so I was just a tad excited by this. I had done my research and chosen some designs but it's not something that should be entered into lightly as there are some horror stories out there, so I shared my tips on getting clothes made in Hoi An.

Zita Hooke travel blog

I also partly confessed to eating some meat in Vietnam that might make some people's stomach turn. I wouldn't say that I am a fussy eater in that I eat lots of different types of food, but I am not a very brave eater when it comes to exotic or out there foods so this was pretty big for me, but I took the When in Rome approach and gave it a go (albeit a very very small go!).

It's Time Travel Blog

Vietnam was an amazing country and I do not regret my decision to make it my first South East Asian destination. There were a few things that surprised me and I learnt a few things about travelling in Vietnam that may help you to if you have this destination on your bucket list.

Finally when the trip was all said and done I scrolled back through the hundreds of photos taken and did the almost impossible task of choosing my 10 favourite photos from my trip, including the one below.

Zita Hooke Travel Blog

So that was it.... that's where I was this time last year and since this trip I have visited another 5 countries, 3 of which were also in Asia.

If there was something here that caught your eye or you want to save for later, click the little Pin it button in the top left hand corner of the photo below to save and share this article on Pinterest!

**Linking up with My Home Truths for I Must Confess and One Mother Hen for Open Slather**

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Instagram photos

Of all the social media formats out there at the moment probably the one that I am visiting and engaging in the most at the moment is Instagram. I think it's because I find it quick and easy and less stressful and annoying as some of the others. And I find it easier to manage with who I follow and who I unfollow so that my Instagram feed is exactly how I want it to look. Sure there is the occasional sponsored ad on there now but they seem to be meaningful and appropriate to my interests so it doesn't bother me at all.

Finding other awesome Instagrammers to follow also feeds my wanderlust with my feed filled with amazing travel photos from around the world.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Monument Valley

Travel Blog

For me, visiting Monument Valley is up there with Uluru in Australia and Niagara Falls in Canada, you have to see it to believe it. I knew it was going to be a highlight of my trip and I was not disappointed.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Coming home with unwanted luggage

I heaved my wheelie backpack onto the scales at the request of the airline hostess... 47.2 blinked on the screen! 'Holy shit' was my first reaction until I remembered I was in North America and that was pounds. Not smart enough to do the calculations in my head I waited until I passed through several forms of security before asking Google to do the conversion on my behalf... 21.4kg.. My bag had put on around 8 kilograms in the 86 days I travelled through the United States and Canada and as my tummy jiggled a little more than usual as we bounced down the runway on the first leg of my trip home, I must confess I knew it wasn't the only thing that was coming home a little heavier. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Five things to do in Toronto

It's Time Travel Blog

Toronto is often mistaken for being the capital of Canada, when in fact that is Ottawa. Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario and is sprawled across the massive Lake Ontario it is often underrated with what it has to offer visitors.

So if you do happen to find yourself in Toronto, here's 5 things that should be on your must do list:

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Where am I Wednesday

Ten years ago on this very spot in Rockwood Conservation Area in Ontario, Canada. I watched my friend marry her Mr Right. This week I got to return and enjoy more of the park.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Where am I Wednesday

I am currently in Canada staying with my friend who I met almost exactly 10 years ago on a bus tour in the UK!

As a fellow country music lover, for years now she has been suggesting I come visit her in August as that is when the Havelock Country Jamboree is on. So this year I made sure I worked that into my travel plans.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

On Location TV and Movie Tour of New York City

If you're anything like me, when you arrive at a new city you love nothing more than getting out and exploring that city on foot.

I love wandering around looking at the architecture, soaking in the sights, smells and sounds of a new place.

What often happens though, for me at least, is that I often wander around aimlessly not really having any idea what I am looking at or it's significance (like that one time I stumbled across 10 Downing St in London and had no idea!). That's why I love doing short little tours within the city. It helps me to find my bearings and get knowledge of the area from a local.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Where was I Wednesday

So there I was in my hotel room in Toronto attempting to get an early night sleep so I would be all refreshed and rested and looking fabulous as I started a tour the next day and meeting strangers who I am going to spend that next 9 days of my life is daunting hit me.... 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Favourite American Photos

Usually I bring you my 'Where am I Wednesday' post at this time but this Wednesday I will be starting a new adventure in another country, so before I move on to that I wanted to bring you my 6 favourite photos from my recent Top Deck tour across America.

In order of how they were taken on the trip....


Sunset at Cocoa Beach Florida

Monday, 8 June 2015

for my American Bucket List trip

This is one of those 'by the time you are reading this' posts...

By the time you are reading this I will be on a plane, in the air...somewhere...

Monday, 1 June 2015

taking stock and counting down

I must confess that I am well and truly on the countdown and things have been a little crazy around here as I finalise things before my next big trip! It has been a whirlwind 8 weeks since returning from my trip to South East Asia and I feel like I've been chasing my tail ever since, but alas, it is almost time to board a plane again!

This time next week I'll be in the air, or in Nashville, or in a jet lag induced trance somewhere (I honestly have no idea where I'll be as I struggle to work it out with flight lengths and time zones but what I do know is I won't be here!!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Getting clothes made in Vietnam

ZIta Hooke It's Time Travel Blog

Like most ladies I admit to having a slight obsession with clothes. So whilst holidaying in Vietnam I was just a little (OK a lot) excited about getting some clothes tailor made.

Hoi An was by far my favourite city on my travels in Vietnam and is well-known for having some of the best tailors in the country. Being a bit of an odd shape I find it extremely difficult to find dresses and jackets that fit me well so this was my opportunity to get some made with a perfect fit.

Here's my tips for getting clothes made in Vietnam:

Monday, 25 May 2015

for a juice cleanse

When travelling for some reason all sense when it comes to food go out the window. There's something about being in a foreign country that makes me think I can eat what I want, when I want and it not have any impact.

There's also the added pressure to try new things and indulge on goodness not available back home. Eating out is done more often than not and so it's hard to try and stick to any sort of diet. For some reason I thought it perfectly ok to come home almost every day after volunteering in Cambodia to have an ice cream and a can of soft drink! Something I never do at home. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

for First Coat Toowoomba

Last weekend drab and boring lane ways and buildings began to come to life around my home town of Toowoomba when artists from all over the country descended on the city to bring life and colour to town. 

We headed out on foot Sunday morning to see some of the amazing murals taking shape.


Monday, 18 May 2015

for why riding an elephant shouldn't be on your bucket list.

I've always been a bit of a believer of 'each to their own', believing that people have the right to their own beliefs, thoughts and actions and unless they directly influence me then who am I to judge.

But there are times when lessons learnt change your opinion and make you believe in something very strongly, so much so that you feel compelled to write a blog post about it in the hope that you will convince other people to share your opinion and perhaps, change their beliefs, thoughts and actions.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Street Art in Melbourne

On my recent trip to Melbourne I was keen to check out some of the amazing street art Melbourne is famous for.

I managed to find 3 of the top 8 lane ways before running out of time. All of these lane ways are easy walking distance around the CBD. 

Caledonian Lane
Zita Hooke It's Time Travel Blog

Zita Hooke. It's Time. Travel Blog

Monday, 4 May 2015

to confess songs from my iPod

This Monday's I must confess is being hosted by Sanch at Living My Imperfect Life and the chosen topic is "embarrassing songs on your iPod".

Now I am going to start by confessing that I love music and my genre of choice is Country. 

I don't have a problem with that, but it has been the cause of some tense conversations and some teasing to be honest, over the years. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Children of Cambodia

When I tell people I volunteered at a Childcare Centre in Cambodia for a month one of their first questions is "What were the children like?"...

I'm a little dumbfounded by this question as, they are children, just like any other children. A little bit sweet, a little bit naughty, a little bit cheeky, a little bit cute, a little bit funny, a little bit crazy! They were just like any other children.

It was no surprise to me, especially being a teacher (or should that say 'former teacher') that, despite the fact that the children in the room where I spent most of my time spoke next to no English, I was able to pick up on their little personalities and traits. Some days I just wished I knew what the hell they were saying! 

Not a day has passed since I left them that I haven't thought about these kids. Wondering what they are up to, how they are, wondering what the future has in store for them and their country. But for now I just look at their beautiful faces and smile that I got the opportunity to spend some time with them. 

LEROY!! Constantly pointing and amazed by everything

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

a trip to Stanthorpe

Recently I travelled to Stanthorpe to witness a beautiful friend of mine get married.

Growing up on a sheep property nearby, Stanthorpe was our major centre for shopping, doctor, dentist etc and two of my younger sisters were born there, so it has a special place in our hearts.

Located about 220km south west of Brisbane close to the border of NSW, Stanthorpe is the heart of the Granite Belt area which is famous for it's amazing fruit, vineyards and wineries. There are many national parks nearby, including Girraween and Bald Rock, which provide some great bush walking tracks and sights.

I arrived just in time to wander down to the little creek by my hotel and snap this picture.

Monday, 20 April 2015

My number one travel app..

I was recently chatting to someone about my trip to Thailand and Cambodia and they informed me that they hadn't been to Asia since the 1980s and she laughed about how hard it was for her to organise the trip herself, telling me that she booked BnBs by sending Postcards to them and hoping the booking was secured when she arrived.

I seriously could not fathom travelling that way! I am a big pre-planner when I travel. I need to know where I am going, where I'm staying, when I'm leaving and everything in between. Sometimes it's a little annoying and I wish I could be a bit more 'fly by the seat of my pants' but it's just not me.

With the invention/introduction of the Internet booking and planning travel has never been easier, and now with smart phones everything is literally at your fingertips. You can find any information you need, book flights, accommodation, everything, in an instant, almost anytime, anywhere.

There are countless apps that you can download to suit your every travel need but when I travel there really is only one that I use, without fail, every single day....

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

for Singapore Zoo

No visit to Singapore is complete with a trip to the amazing zoo.

Singapore Zoo was opened in 1973 and is home to the largest captive colony of orangutans in the world. It also is very modern in its design in that many of the exhibits appear very natural with hidden enclosures and moats keeping the animals, and visitors, safe but giving that up close and personal feel.

I could sit and watch the animals all day, especially the monkeys, apes and orangutans and Singapore Zoo has an amazing number of different types of these.

I took over 200 photos on the day so it's been hard to narrow down some favourites to share with you today.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Why I choose to travel alone

So due to some poor time management on my part, a family trip to the Sunshine Coast, the absolute lack of wifi in Australia (don't get me started on that!!), a stunning wedding and a little bit of downtime this is my first blog post in a week!!! I know....shock horror *gasp!*

Monday, 6 April 2015

My next destination

Barely back from my trip to Thailand/Cambodia/Singapore and already people are asking what's next.

I must confess I am a little sad that my trip has come to an end and how quickly that end arrived. I am back home in Australia spending Easter weekend with family at the Sunshine Coast, so I guess I can't really complain too much can I.

So what is next.....

I am home for about 8 weeks, during that time I will be catching up with family and friends and hopefully getting some relief teaching work. The pay is pretty good and I can be flexible with the days I work.

And then, in about 64 days, I take off again, this time US/Canada bound!!

I have never been to the States so I am super excited about that. And first stop is Nashville for CMA Fest, which has long been near the top of my bucket list! From Nashville I spend 5 nights in New York before starting a Top Deck 28 day USA Road trip tour, a few nights in LA before heading to Canada.

I have been to Canada before. Back in 2005 I took 6 months off work and headed over. The main reason for my trip was to see my friend Katie get married.

So it's been 10 years since the last time I was in Canada and I must confess I have been a slack friend and not kept in touch with Katie very well (and she's not very Facebook active - terrible excuse I know!) but I am super excited to see her and spend some time getting to know her 3 children, none of whom I have met.

I have no real plans for the 6 weeks I have in Canada other than to catch up with friends as I did a lot of touring around there when I was there in 2005. 

The last photo of Katie, her husband Mike and I

So that's what I'm up to next, what about you?? 
What have you got coming up that you are looking forward to?

Linking up with My Home Truths for I Must Confess and One Mother Hen for Open Slather.