Saturday, 3 December 2022

IT IS A JUNGLE OUT THERE - HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

 Hello dear friends, hope you are doing well.

Two months of spring already behind us but the air is quite fresh and I won't leave the house without a jacket or a jumper to keep me warm.

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

I bought this animal print pant suit from Zara at the beginning of Spring but haven't had a chance to share it with you.  This style is totally sold out but there are plenty of similar prints are still on offer like this animal print blazer and trousers . I was worried that I will not wear it often enough before the weather really heats up but I was wrong.  

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

It's 100% linen and we all know the multiple benefits of natural fibers.  The print is quite bold and busy as you can see, so not much embellishment in terms of accessories is actually required so I chose a simple black satin camisole to wear underneath the blazer and just a pair of simple silver earrings.  

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

Of course, I could've gone all monochromatic but it is spring and I wanted to have fun so I chose red platform shoes that I also bought recently on a whim.  I was in the shopping centre in a gloomy mood and when I saw those shoes through the window of Edward Meller shop in a happy red colour I felt irresistible urge to bring this feeling of happiness home.

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

The heels are quite high but they are balanced by the thickness of the platform which levels the height and makes them feel very comfortable.  Honestly, I can't even remember when the last time was that I bought high heel shoes, it must've been years.

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

I recently read an article about what makes French fashionistas look so effortlessly stylish , one of them being that French women prefer not to match their footwear with their handbags, but I like my version of matching accessories so the red shoes and a handbag it is.  

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

Where do you stand on wearing matching accessories?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

HOW I WORE MY ANIMAL PRINT TROUSER SUIT

Until then,

Anna

xoxoxo


Sunday, 20 November 2022

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

Hello dear readers, trust you are all well.

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

Hope you enjoyed reading the first part about our holidays in Far North Queensland and for those who missed it, please follow the link that will bring you up to date with the rest of us.  So let me pick up where I left it, on the road, again, driving from Cairns to Port Douglas.

It is not a long drive, about 1.5 hours and all the way the road hugs the coast giving you a stunning view of miles and miles of pristine sand beaches and the water sparkling under the hot bright sun. 

Unfortunately, you will not see a single person taking a swim or just testing the water with their toes because of the dangerous presence of saltwater crocodiles.   And although I haven’t seen one, I wasn't going to take a chance.  I am so scared and totally repulsed by this creature.  Other than that, it was an easy and pleasant drive and soon we found ourselves cruising the streets of PD looking for our hotel.   

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

We stayed at a lovely place called Villa San Michele that was positioned right on the main drag of PD, Macrossan Street.  Luckily for us, our window was overlooking the courtyard which was exceptionally quiet.  After checking-in and unpacking our bags, we went out to have a look around.  Macrossan Street is a hive of activities,  It has everything, from the chic cafes and gelaterias to local pubs, fancy restaurants and night clubs and is peppered with retail shops where you can buy anything from locally made souvenirs to evening dresses and footwear.  I loved it from the start.

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

On our first night we had dinner reservation at the award winning restaurant called Melaleuca. As in Cairns, all our dinner outings and activities were booked from Sydney weeks in advance and as I watched the waiters turning people without bookings away, I felt incredibly pleased with myself.  The menu is focused on fresh local produce with a slight Asian twist which tantalises the taste buds and makes you ask for more.  All the dishes that we ordered were exceptional, especially my main course of a whole baby Barramundi (highly praised local fish) cooked in panko crumbs and served with Asian greens salad and fragrant jasmine rice which was sublime.  

As I mentioned earlier, there are two main attractions that brought us here:  The Daintree Rain Forest and The Great Barrier Reef, both are declared Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Daintree Forest

The first on itinerary was a trip to the Daintree Forest, one of the best biologically diverse rainforests in the world and is the oldest. It is estimated to be 130 million years old which is tens of million years older than the Amazon Rainforest. This amazing site is just an hours drive from Port Douglas after that you and your car need to take a short ferry ride to get to the entry.  

Daintree Forest

Once there, you are free to drive whenever you please, exploring the richness of this magnificent natural wonder at your own pace.  As we began our journey through it, we saw multiple signs for eco-camps, single cabins, lodges and other recreational places where you can stay overnight or a few days if you like.  There were a lot of stops along the way where you can get out of the car and explore the forest up-close and personal and so we did.  The footpath was slightly elevated above the swamps to allow you to see the tightly knitted air roots of mangrove trees without disturbing the delicate balance of eco-system.

Daintree Forest

I was fascinated by the size and variety of the Staghorn Ferns growing high up on trees right under the canopies which provides it with access to the sun.  Some trees have only one, while the others host a whole family of them.  All along the path you come across information boards holding interesting facts and a description of the species growing nearby which we found immensely helpful.

Daintree Forest

Daintree Forest

After a while we stopped at one of the many cafes that you can find in the forest.  It has a lovely open area overlooking the long stretch of pristine white sand and Daintree River glistening beyond.  Unfortunately, the swimming in it was prohibited due to the presence of crocodiles.

Daintree Forest

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

Soon after lunch we were on the road again heading back to Port Douglas.   

The following day was my birthday.  We decided to take it easy:  late breakfast followed by a slow stroll along Macrossan Street for window shopping, visiting the local Sunday markets where we bought small gifts for our six grandchildren, a much welcomed swim in the hotel's pool and a birthday dinner at a restaurant, within walking distance, called Zinc, another example of excellent ambience, food and service.

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

And on Monday we drove to the marina where we boarded the Quicksilver catamaran that took us to the most anticipated adventure of this trip, Great Barrier Reef.  It was a perfect cloudless day for such an activity, there was no wind, the sea was absolutely calm and although the weather was in the high 30's, as were all the previous days, the well airconditioned boat was what the doctor ordered.  During a 1.5 hours half sailing we were served morning tea while a marine biologist was giving us a talk on the marine life on the reef and a life saver talked us through how to wear a mask and use a snorkel properly and general safety rules when being in the water.  Soon after our catamaran docked at the activity station where all the activities were conducted.   The tour also supplied a buffet style lunch that included cold and hot dishes of prawns, fish and meat and vegetarian options.

Great Barrier Reef

Apart from snorkeling, the company offers helicopter tours, scuba-diving, guided tours of the reef and a semi-submersible reef tour which we decided to take as soon as we arrived at the platform while we were still dry.

Great Barrier Reef

The sub sits one meter under water, and you get a diver's view of the reef while the sub glides through clear water revealing reef lagoons and colourful reef gardens.  I have never dived nor snorkeled in my life and was absolutely fascinated about what was happening around me.  I think I squealed when a school of fish swam by my window.

Great Barrier Reef

Back on the platform, we selected wet suits (S, M, L EX) a pair of fins (ditto), a mask and a snorkel.  Once we put the wet suits, we walked to the edge of platform from where we could ease into the water from the submerged steps.  We were recommended not to walk around the platform with the fins on until we sit on the steps, then we put them on, slip the masks over our faces and with the snorkels firmly tucked behind our lips, dive into the warm waters of the Reef.  Since I had no idea how to snorkel, at the beginning I was struggling with the technique.  

Great Barrier Reef

You are supposed to breathe through your mouth, but I forgot and inhaled through my nose and as a result my mask got sucked into my face.   While I was trying to peal it off, I gulped in extremely salty sea water that made me cough.  At last, I managed to overcome my anxiety by slowing down my breathing (I learnt that technique during yoga meditations and use it when I am about to go to sleep for relaxation) and slowly lowered my face into the water.  It was a whole new world underneath and it was amazing.  The corals are one of the worlds' natural wonders and they look magnificent.  They are given the names based on what they look like, so if the coral looks like a cauliflower, it is called "Cauliflower Coral" and the one that looks like a mushroom is be called "Mushroom Coral" etc.  

Great Barrier Reef

I couldn't get enough of it; I was totally hooked and didn't want to leave.  The Reef was full of fish, big and small, colourful and plain, lazy and quick and I could almost touch it.  I think that last time I experienced similar euphoria was when my husband took me on a South African safari many years ago and we saw a pride of lionesses coming to the water hole to quench their thirst after a night hunt.


I don't know how long we spent in the water but after a while even the wet suit and the hot sun couldn't save me from feeling cold and we decided to call it a day.  We climbed back on the platform, took off our suits and fins and placed all the equipment in the bins provided.  We boarded our catamaran and soon afterwards sailed back to Port Douglas.

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - PORT DOUGLAS

We had fantastic holiday and I couldn't wish for a better way to celebrate my birthday.  It wasn't one of those extended holidays we used to take in the past, gallivanting around the globe for weeks at a time but it was lovely and it taught me a lesson that it is worth exploring your own country before rushing overseas to see others.  

We spent the evening packing and recounting what we saw earlier on the Reef.  The following morning, we drove back to Cairns to catch a plane to Sydney. 

Hope our holiday inspired both my local and overseas readers to visit this beautiful part of Australia.

Until then,

Anna

xoxoxo

Sunday, 6 November 2022

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY - CAIRNS

Hello, my dear friends, hope you are all ok.

It has been a while since my last short post announcing our upcoming trip.  And although we came back over a week ago, I was having difficulties getting back into the grove.  It was only a week but there were so many things that I had to attend to that I simply didn't have an energy to squeeze up my creativity juices and start writing.
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
So here I am to tell you all about this fantastic sojourn but first let me take you back to 2019.  I was turning sixty and my husband booked us a holiday in the upscale town of Noosa, also in Queensland (Australia consists of six states and two territories) but much closer to Sydney which, by the way, is in the state of New South Wales or just NSW.  Then COVID came and our Federal government shut all borders between the states so we couldn't go anywhere and had to cancel the trip.   Luckily,  we were issued with a credit for our airfares which is valid till the end of 2022.  
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
So we decided to take up on this credit and celebrate my 60+2 birthday by taking a domestic trip to Cairns and Port Douglas, two main and most popular for visitors cities in Far North Queensland.  It is an interesting fact that most Australians (present company included) prefer to have their holidays overseas rather than in our own country.   Those who are employed, are lawfully entitled for four weeks of annual leave a year which provides them with enough time to travel far afield and explore the world.
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
Having said that, both of us are still hesitant about travelling overseas, so having holidays in Australia sounded like a good plan.  Our itinerary was as follows:  we fly to Cairns using our credit vouchers, spend there two days then hire a car and drive to Port Douglas where we would be staying for four days, then drive back to Cairns and to board a fly back home to Sydney.
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
Although Cairns is bigger city in comparison to Port Douglas, both of them regarded as small town (population less than a million people).  However, visitors tend to spend more time in PD then in Cairns, the main reason being that PD is closer to two of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
When we check the weather forecast and I saw that the average day temperature would be about 32℃ and mostly sunny, I just chuckled as here in Sydney we were inundated by weeks of rain, cold weather and wind but nothing prepared me to the heat that greeted us as we stepped outside Cairns airport.  We hurriedly got into our rented car, switched air-con on full blast and drove off towards our hotel.  The first thing we did was discard our warm Sydney clothes, changed into light garments and went out to look around.  We stayed at Sebel Cairns Harbour Lights Hotel situated on an Esplanade in a nicely appointed one-bedroom self-contained apartment with a full view over the lagoon and nearby marina.

OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
As a rule, I don't like small towns with their one main drag full of souvenir shops, burger joints and Chinese take-aways where everything closes down at 2 pm and everyone goes home and there is nothing to do and nowhere to go till the next morning and was slightly apprehensive of what would Cairn be like.  I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely the town looks.  
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
The streets were wide and very clean, the big leafy trees provide the nice shade from the hot sun.  There were lovely looking historical buildings, all nicely restored and preserved to their old glory.  Few really attract my attention, especially the one that is currently occupied by the Cairns Post, and the other - heritage listed the old court building converted into art gallery and perfomance space.
CAIRNS ART MUSEUM AND PERFOMANCE SPACE
CAIRNS ART MUSEUM AND PERFOMANCE SPACE AT NIGHT
The highlight of our stay in Cairns was a trip on a Skyrail Rainforest CablewaySituated only 10 minutes away from the city centre, this magnificent structure built in 2019 spans over 7.5 km over and deep into Australia's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area allowing you to glide over this magnificent canopy of pristine jungle looking down over the magnificent tree tops, Barron Falls and Gorge and surrounding sparkling lakes.  
SKYRAIL, CAIRNS
SKYRAIL, CAIRNS
VIEW OVER BARRON FALLS FROM SKYRAIL
VIEW OVER BARRON FALLS FROM SKYRAIL
VIEW OVER BARRON FALLS FROM SKYRAIL
The journey ends at Kuranda Terminal where we disembarked and after a short stroll reached mounting village called Kuranda famous for its markets all over the world.  We were warmly greeted by the locals inviting us to visit their stalls crammed with locally made wares like hand-made leather goods, Aboriginal artefacts, wood, jewellery, clothes and the likes and cafes where we could sample freshly cooked dishes of the region such as kangaroo and crocodile stakes or burgers as well as big juicy tiger prawns, Redclaw crayfish and Barramundi fish and enjoy a cold and refreshing beverage.  
KURANDA VILLAGE, SKY RAIL
Need I mention that it was scorching hot up there and I had to wear a hat and apply 50+ sunblock to protect my face and arms😎.  At least it was not humid so it was bearable.  The place was buzzing with tourists jetting from stall to stall, local Indigenous people, the original owners of this land, blowing their Didgeridoos and wandering buskers entertaining the crowd.  We felt slightly overwhelmed and excited at the same time.  As we kept walking along the street, our eye were constantly drawn to the local flora and the beauty of local species of tropical trees and plants that we have never seen before.
Many years ago, when we just arrived in Australia, I had a taste of kangaroo meat and honestly, it didn't blow me away so when we stopped for lunch at one of the many cafes, I gave it a pass.  After lunch, we took a slowly stroll back to the cable car that would take us back to Cairns encountering a bush turkey along the way.
On both nights that we stayed there, we went out for dinner.  Being a controlling freak as I am, we did all the bookings in advance which proved to be a stroke of genius since every restaurant worth its salt was fully booked for days in advance.

On our first night we went to a restaurant called C'est Bone, Cairns only truly French restaurant "where French sophistication meets down-to-earth local charm". We dined on authentically French classic dishes cooked to perfection and served with a French flair.  I absolutely love French food and we both enjoyed it immensely.
OUR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY -  CAIRNS
The following night it was dinner at a restaurant called Ochre, situated on the Esplanade meters from the river bank where we enjoyed local prawns cooked in coconut crumb, served with mango chutney and superbly cooked steak (it was beef😋).
The next morning we checked out, loaded our suitcases in a rental and drove off to Port Douglas stopping at Rustys Markets to buy some fresh local tropical fruit for the road but that is for another post.




Stay tuned.

Until then,

Anna
xoxoxo