Porto, Portugal

Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production. Here are my recommendations:

  1. Livraria Lello – The Guardian and travel website Lonely Planet picked this as the world’s third most beautiful bookstore. More than a century old, Lello is an art nouveau pearl with gothic details, stained glass and a fabulous red staircase, said to have inspired the one in Hogwarts (JK Rowling once lived in Porto). You have to pay to enter but you also get that money back if you purchase a book.
  2. Sao Bento Railway station – you can see the changes in modes of transport from one end of the ceiling, looping back around (horse carriage to train) IMG_5305
  3. Ponte de D. Luis 1 Iconic Metal Bridge (walk on the top and the bottom!) and take in the beautiful colorful buildings of Porto
  4. All the port brands are across the bridge on Gaia side where you will also see traditional boats along the way. They are now used as decoration and advertises the differenr brands but in the past, it was how the transported the barrels of port.
  5. Sao Francisco church IMG_5518
  6. Torre dos Clerigos bell tower which you can climb for sky high views – It was opened in 1763 and is blessed with a beautiful barrage of Baroque motifs thanks to its Italian designer Nicolau Nasoni. Given its prominent position, you can get some amazing 360° views of the city from the top, but you’ll have to climb 225 steps to get there.IMG_5292
  7. Lion fountain and the two nearby churches, one with pretty blue walls. You could never guess that between the church is the smallest house in Porto! I initially looks like one big church till you observe the architectural differences more closely.

     

  8. McDonald’s Imperial – super grand McD!
  9. Duoro Valley Day trip
  10. Old town for narrow cobbled streets, ancient houses and bags of character, and consider a Riverside biking tour (they provide electric bikes for the uphills)
  11. Majestic Cafe
  12. Brasao or Bulha are fancier restaurants to check out
  13. Francesinha is their famous dish – basically a meat sandwich with cheese and drenched in tomato like sauce
  14. Visit the beach by taking Linha 1 tram line, the most scenic route that follows the banks of the Douro River to the Foz district.
  15. Eat natas all day for only 1 euro. They tend to eat their nata’s cold other than at ” the world needs nata”
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Accom: Stayed at Feel Porto Apartment downtown town house – amazing Airbnb

North Island, New Zealand

Kia Ora (hello,welcome, goodbye, have a safe journey)

I’ve just come back from my 10 day road trip from Wellington to Auckland and thought I would share my entire itinerary here. I definitely could have spent longer at each destination due to the many hikes so i’ll be back!

Day 1: Arrived in Wellington and picked up our JUCY car rental from the airport to drive ourselves to the city centre not far away. Climb up Mount Victoria for a 360 degree view of the city and enjoy the play area there too (definitely adult friendly). Take the Wellington cable car up and walk back down to the city through the Botanic Gardens. AirBnB 120 The Terrace.

Day 2: Drive from Wellington to Cape Palliser where you will see a large seal population along the sea front near the light house. Climb the steep steps to reach the lighthouse and enjoy the views. Return up the road to the start of the Pinnacles hike (funky rock formations from Lord of the Rings). Drive to Whanganui and visit the near by beach for sunset. Accom: Whanganui Backpackers (a motel).

Day 3: Visit Whanganui National Park for the Atene Viewpoint Walk. Another highly recommended option which we didn’t do is the ‘Bridge to nowhere’. Then drive to Tongariro National Park for plenty of hike options! We did the 2h Taranaki falls loop track from Whakapapa Village (the largest ski area). If you have a full day, definitely do the Tongariro Alpine track which takes around 8hours. This was my favourite park out of all the hikes I did so I definitely want to come back to do it one day. Have dinner in Taupo and watch sunset by the lake. Accom: A Plus Samurai Lodge Backpackers (not the cleanest but it’ll do for the hike day)

Day 4: Drive to Taupo lake view point before heading to Wai O Tapu geothermal pools and geysers. The entire highway passes thermal pools so you’ll see plenty of steam along the way as you drive. Wai O Tapu is the most well known and the lady Knox geyser show starts at 10:15am so don’t miss that. Before heading to Rotorua, stop by the blue and green lake viewing point and lake Tarawera viewpoint, they are along the way. When in Rotorua, definitely try out luging! We then did the Maori village cultural show and dinner, and stayed the night in Rotorua Motel.


Day 5: Drive from Rotorua to Mount Maunganui and hike up of course! Then drive to Coromandel area for Ha Hei beach, walk to Cathedral Cove and then hot water beach (visit during low tide only). Stayed the night in Coromandel in the most amazing cabin ever (find Viv on AirBnB 75 Harbour View Road). I would go back to Coromandel just to stay in this accommodation again.


Day 6: Drive to Hobbiton  for the tour and then to Hamilton, stopping by the massive garden they have created. You could spend a whole day here if you wanted, appreciating the design and  gardens of the world. AirBnB 80 Beerescourt Road Suite (really cozy accom again)

Day 7: Drive to Waitomo Glow worm caves (no photos allowed) for the short tour then to Auckland, stopping by Mt Eden crater before dropping off the car. This was my favourite drive day in terms of awesome views along the way, other than the Tongariro national park drive day. Accom for the next three nights: Grand Central apartments (15min walk to city centre)
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Day 8: Walked Auckland’s main high street: Queen street and competed in Battle of the Year at night. Didn’t do much this day due to the competition.

Day 9: Ferry to Rangitoto volcanic island for the summit hike. There are specific ferry times so make sure you pre-book for the trip there and know when the last ferry is to get back! 36NZD return.


Day 10: Chill day, walked the city and played an escape room before flying back to Sydney. Try Giapo ice cream!

My first legit road trip and I loved driving those country side roads  I would do it all over again.

 

 

Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Yorkshire is a historic county in northern England. It’s known for its Roman and Viking heritage, as well as its Norman castles, medieval abbeys, Industrial Revolution-era cities and 2 national parks. My recommendations:

  1. Hike the Yorkshire Dales! I did a circular 20 mile loop from Grassington and stayed overnight at Grassington Bunk barn the day before to start early in the morning.
  2. Yorkshire Moors and Whitby day tour. This tour takes in the highlights of the area in including Goathland, the stunning seaside town of Whitby, Helmsley and the Vale of York.
  3. York Minster, Betty’s tea room, spot random cat sculptures and cute pubs throughout the beautiful town centre!
  4. York Chocolate story and the Shambles. I didn’t realise brands like Smarties, After Eight, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Kit-Kat came from York! You get to make your own chocolate too during the tour. The Shambles is known for its timber buildings that look like they are going to collapse as they lean in towards the road.
  5. York Castle Museum and Cliffords Tower. I really enjoyed the museum with plenty of history to be learnt and remembered.

Accommodation recommendation in York: Air B&B YO1 9TJ Steve was my host. Probably the only AirB&B in the town centre!