The Apps you need have on your travel checklist.

Planning on travelling through Europe? Checklists are a must when you’re getting ready to jet set. But, what we may be forgetting – other than your toothbrush, is the apps that we should be downloading before we leave the house.

Yes, that’s right travel apps are just as important as your socks and undies. If you’re travelling through Europe or else where there are a few apps that will inevitably be handy for your travels. In this instance I’ll be focusing on Europe and the apps that really helped me get around.

I found that Visit a City and Trainline EU were two of my most important apps- apart from facebook and instagram.

Visit A City is a great app that provides you with different itineraries of things to see and do. The great thing about his app is that you can download the itinerary to use offline so you’re not chewing into your data usage and you can also edit start times and delete things you may not want to see-basically allowing you to then create your own itinerary based on the suggestions provided.

Another great thing about the app is that it also offers you a range of guided tours and day trips in and around the city you’re visiting that you can choose from and book through the app. It really couldn’t be anymore convenient!

I personally found this app really helpful when I was recently travelling through Europe and only had a limited number of days in a few cities.

If you’re travelling through Europe and you’re not flying to all your destinations, the next app that should be on your checklist should be Trainline EU. This app allows you to book trains to travel in between European countries and also trains within the country. The great thing is it gives you a few options so you can choose your seats and preferred class. It also will keep a record of them on the app and send you your tickets via email.

The obvious app to have is Trip Advisor. The app will give you real customer reviews and help you get the best out of your holiday whether its local or international. The great thing about the app is that reviews are current and the app covers everything from hotels to tour groups.

There’s a whole range of travel apps that are great to help you plan your trip and advise you on what sites to see, where to go, where to eat and where to stay. They are an essential part of your travel kit.

Happy Travels.

Nelson Bay, NSW, Australia: The Perfect Short Break From The City.

Picturesque Nelson Bay is the main town that’s part of the Port Stephens area. Situated on the New South Wales North Coast a 3 hour drive from Sydney or a 1 hour drive from Newcastle.

This town is not just a great destination for summer, it’s great all year round. So whilst there are beaches I could write about (they’re absolutely beautiful) this piece is more about the other activities you can enjoy when you’re not visiting in the summer months and my picks on where to eat.

The seaside town offers a variety of attractions and things to do within itself and its surrounds. I spent a few days there and whilst I did get the chance to take a quick dip at Fly Point which is a small beach just past the marina as you head towards Shoal Bay (yes, I know its May and it’s getting cold in the southern hemisphere – however, the weather was glorious) I also managed to get in some activities.

Do:

Other than enjoying the stunning beaches and clear waters that the bay and its surrounds have to offer there’s a plethora of activities to choose from especially if you’re not visiting in the summer months. With so much to do and see in and around Nelson Bay you can be here for over a week and do something different every day. If you’re only going for a few days then these are a must do.

Horse Riding – Sahara Trails in Anna Bay is a short car ride from Nelson Bays town centre. You have a few choices in what type of rides you want to do. If you’re like me and it’s your first time then opt for the Aussie Bush Trail Ride. The experience lasts for an hour and it’s a good introduction into horse ridding. Alternatively you have the beach ride if you’re more experienced.

Tomaree Head Summit Walk- The views from the mountain are spectacular. The walk up the mountain to the summit will take about 45mins with a few stops in between if you are taking in the view as you go up (or if your fitness level- like mine, is not up to scratch). Whilst you’re walking up take in the views of Shoal Bay and Zenith Beach. Walking back down may be quicker depending on which route you take , there are  gun emplacements from World War II you can walk to on your way back down, however, when you’re up there take a few minutes at the top to appreciate the views.

Dolphin Cruise- There are a few different companies that offer cruises around the bay and if you’re lucky enough you may see a few dolphins or a whale. The type of cruise you’re after is dependant on your itinerary and how much you want to spend and of course the time of year.

Eat:

Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay (5 mins up the road from the town centre) have plenty on offer. Especially seafood, after all this is a bay and they do have a great little fish market down at the marina. Below are a few places I tried out that I recommend ( there were others that didn’t make the list):

Casa De Oro- If you like tapas then this is a nice little restaurant that offers a range of tapas dishes on their menu. Try the pork meatballs and mussels in tomato and chilli salsa they are flavoursome especially when accompanied by the Fried Potato with Tomato Salsa & Aioli. The sangria is also very good. My only negative was the Bruschetta with Tomato, Basil, Bocconcini & Prosciutto, for me it lacked flavour and the piece was small for the price they charge.

Little New Cafe

Bacon and Eggs & a Carrot Colada at the Little Nel Cafe. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

Little Nel Cafe- This cafe is located in The Nelson Resort just as you enter the towns centre on Government Road. It’s a great spot and the food is delicious. Breakfast and lunch servings are a decent size and will leave even the most ravenous holiday maker feeling content. If you’re looking for an energy boost I recommend skipping the coffee and getting the smoothies in particularly their Carrot Colada. Their Falafel Bowl is also a great option for lunch.

Sunset at the Little Beach Boathouse

Enjoy a drink with this view. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

Little Beach Boathouse- this is a little piece of heaven where you can either go for drinks and nibbles or enjoy a meal at the restaurant upstairs. My recommendation is to get there just before sunset to watch the sun go down as you sip on your wine. The best spot to sit and relax (trust me the view will put you at ease) is on the deck- if you can get a spot. The boathouse cater for special events as well and after you see the sunset you’ll understand why this place is a popular location for tourists and locals alike.

Scones at the Inner Light Tea Rooms

Scones at the Inner Light Tea Rooms. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

Inner Light Tea Rooms- If you want to have lunch or afternoon tea with some of the most beautiful ocean views- this is the place! The Inner Light Tea Rooms offer a variety of food choices for breakfast or a light lunch. However, if you want to just enjoy a coffee (or milkshake) with some scones this is the place. The scones are divine and will definitely take care of your sweet tooth.

Mod Thai (Shoal Bay)-  There are two of these restaurants near each other. One is in Nelson Bay (not much of a view) and the other that I had dinner at is on Shaol Bay Road in Shoal Bay, a very short (like not even 5 min) drive from Nelson Bay town centre. I’ve eaten a lot of Thai food, however this place has some gorgeous food. Whilst the menu isn’t huge there is a choice of dishes (sorry no laksa though).  The spring rolls are delicious as is their beef pad Thai and exotic seafood special (a combination of seafood in a red curry).

Nelson Bay is great if you want a short family get away, romantic weekender or just want to chill out and relax with your friends. There are more activities like quad biking, kayaking and camel riding that you can do if you have the time.  If you get a chance head out to Murray’s Brewing Co. and sample some local beer and wine.

For more information on Nelson Bay go to visitnsw.com

Happy Travels!

 

Social Media: We’re Spending More Time On It Than We Actually Realise

Have we become slaves to social media? If you think about it how long have you spent on your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook today? Yesterday? All of last week? Don’t feel bad, we all do it and don’t realise how much time were actually wasting doing it rather than getting out and enjoying our selves or relaxing. When you add it up it accumulates to a few hours a day.

Now, before you presume that I hate social media – I don’t! In fact I think its possibly one of the greatest technological inventions of our time. But, I do think that perhaps its consumed us more than we realise and perhaps taken away from our  experiences and also down time that could be used to do other things.

There results are staggering to say the least, according to Social Media Today :

On average people will spend nearly 2 hours a day on their social media accounts- 116mins a day to be exact! This amounts to an astonishing 5 years and 4 months over a lifetime.

The bad news is this figure is set to rise. If you think about it you probably don’t even get 2 hours to relax during the day. You know that thing where you just sit back and do nothing, not even stare at Facebook. 

So with this in mind what’s happened to us? Have we completely forgotten how to live without social media? Our lives have become so intertwined with our social media obsession that it seems we can’t manage to put or phones or tablets down. Everything we do is recorded, posted and expressed on these channels that we’ve forgotten to take a step back and appreciate what’s actually happening around us.

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Image: Pixabay

I mean for instance, I’m fairly confident to say that nearly everyone who’s attended a concert has either been snapping photos, recording or streaming live on their social accounts (I’ve done it too!).

There was a time when we used to be so enthralled with the show that we wouldn’t have considered pulling out our phones and uploading content to our accounts. Nowadays we can’t help but dodge the line of phones held high blocking our views of the stage as people simultaneously stream and record their experience. But can you even call it that anymore? Is it really an experience that we’re having? We’re all looking at the recordings on our screens rather than actually looking at the artist who is right in front of us.

We’ve become so obsessed with “checking in” and showing everyone where we are that we don’t really give it all our attention and enjoy the moment. A few years ago I wrote a piece for The Scavenger, on how social media is running our lives even at the dinner table. It was all about the “check in” and conversations we were having with our friends on the social channels rather than conversations with our friends at the table we were sitting at.

This is much of the same argument. We’re so focused on “checking in” than actually “checking out” and enjoying what was happening around us.

Don’t get me wrong I love Facebook as much as the next person and I can’t deny that. It has helped people connect with each other all over the world and made families closer. What my argument is, is that perhaps we need to put down the apps and start enjoying our surroundings a bit more and take in what is actually going on in our world not just what we’re seeing on our screens.

At the end of the day we need to get back to basics. Stop, put down the phone or tablet and enjoy what’s in front of you, otherwise you could be one of those people who has literally wasted over 5 years of your life starring at something through the small screen when you could have been staring at it directly and appreciating the moment.

 

Social Media & the rise of Celebrity Worship Syndrome

A few years ago I wrote on the impact Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS) was having on people.   Whilst the syndrome has been around for a while the impact social media has had on its increase cannot go unnoticed.

Prior to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, the only access to these celebrities’ was through television interviews and what we read in magazines.

Now nearly every celebrity has a social media account on nearly every platform you can think of. We have more access to them than we ever did. We see their lives unfold almost instantaneously. What they are doing during their day, what they eat, what country they’re in and most of the time a sneak peek into their homes.

We know that CWS is when a person becomes attached to a celebrity’s personal and professional life, finding commonalities between their life and the celebrity and creating a psychological bond with that celebrity.

This vast array of information has perhaps led to an intensifying of CWS. The access we have been granted by most of these celebrities has allowed for fans to have a sneak peek into their world. However when it comes to someone that has the syndrome this sneak peek may hold more to them than just a tiny glimpse.

The more they post on social media about their daily lives the more we find ourselves having a connection. Sure for most people we would think ‘oh isn’t that nice, I do that too’. However for people with this syndrome they develop a more personal relationship, finding commonalities and connections that most of us would not have considered.

Dr Mark Griffiths – Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University claimed in an article in the International Business Times that he believed that social media has contributed to the rise of the syndrome as celebrities can interact with their fans regularly via their social accounts.

To it’s extremes it can lead to fans stalking their favourite celebrities everywhere they go. An example of how social media can encourage fans to track down celebrities was given by a Justin Beiber fan earlier this year when the singer visited Australia. Miss Del Rosario said in that article “You can find hotels and such from looking at the details in the background, listening to what’s happening, and the signs.” This is a perfect example as to how easily accessible celebrities have become via social media.

In another article psychologist Meredith Fuller suggests that the influx of information regarding celebrities that we now have access to has made our obsession with celebrities more extensive. She even goes on to say “We get a lot of our identity from them. We get visual clues of these glamorous lives and a little bit of us wants to imagine we lead [the same life]..They’ve got the money, contacts, parties and amazing clothes, so we want to relate to them.”

Whilst for people like Miss Del Rossario who knows when to respectfully stop following people like Justin Beiber, this is not always the case with some people.

In recent times the extremes of peoples celebrity obsession has lead to the murder of former US voice contestant Christina Grimmie who was killed after a concert by a deranged fan. The killer stalked her social media accounts and followed her every move.

Whilst Kim Kardashians Paris fiasco was not related to CWS you can see how the dangers of these celebrities playing out their lives on social platforms can present it has lead to people knowing where they are, what they are doing and the valuable items celebrities have with them or in their homes allowing them to be exposed to many different attacks, whether it be fans stalking them or being robbed and their lives being put in danger.

Whilst social media is a great tool to have your voice heard and your brand promoted it has also created a platform where for some interaction with celebrities and their lives can sometimes lead to a blur between reality and how much we invest our emotions into their world.

Port Douglas, Australia – More Than Just A Couples Destination.

Port Douglas has to be one of the nicest places I have been too in Australia. Situated in Tropical Far North Queensland (TFNQ) about an hour or so’s drive from Cairns, this small piece of paradise has a lot more to offer than just a romantic  weekend getaway for couples.

This destination hotspot is great to explore with a friend or group of friends.

If you don’t hire a car, then your best place for accomodation would be in or around the town centre. This place is buzzing with shops, restaurants and pubs.

Whilst the resorts are nice and not to far from the town itself you will need transport as they can be a bit of a walk to get to the main strip, unless you plan on catching a taxi. But if you do get a car you can travel around and head out to the other small towns around the area that are equally as beautiful.

We stayed there for 2 days at the Regal Port Douglas situated on Macrossan Street (main strip) in a studio room.

The location was perfect and the studio was clean and had a great bathroom. The only bad thing was that the actual toilet had Louvre doors – so privacy wasn’t as “private” as it could have been. But when you’re with friends sharing a room, when is it ever?! If you can get past the fact that you may be able to hear a few noises from the  bathroom then this is ideally the place to stay.  If you can’t then turn on a tap when you have to go! Really the studio apartment was a great little spot and the complex has a pool.

The main part of the town isn’t huge and you will be able to walk around it in a few hours and have lunch then go from there.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

Port Douglas is a gateway to the barrier reef , so make sure you book a tour to Agincourt Reef . This reef offers 16 different dive sites and a variety of sea life which makes it the perfect spot to dive or snorkel. Bear in mind that you will more than likely have to wear a stinger suit depending on what time of the year you go. My tip is if you do go out on a rainy day (because hey- it’s the tropics!) then take some sea sick tablets as getting out to some reefs can be a bit rough. Once you’re there however it’s a great experience.

Then there’s the rain forest. There are a few tours to choose from, you can go right up to Cape Tribulation or do more localised tours. Who knows you may even get to see a crocodile.

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Daintree River Cruise. Photo Maria Schindlecker

We went on the half day tour  that included a river cruise on the  Daintree River and then a stope over at Mossman Gorge that took you into the stunning Daintree rainforest.  The river cruise was great however there were mosquitoes so take your replant with you( again, it’s the tropics!). The highlight was seeing a crocodile that was literally meters away from the boat. Whilst we did end up going on one of the wettest days of the year the gorge was still beautiful and well worth the trip. The gorge is situated about 30 mins by car from Port Douglas’s town centre.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge. Photo : Maria Schindlecker

The great thing about Port Douglas is that you can get out and explore or you can just sit back and relax and do nothing. It’s a great location for a weekend away or even a few days.

For more info about Port Douglas and its surrounding areas visit Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree.

Bon Voyage!

2017’s Top 8 Overseas Travel Destinations.

Thinking of planning a trip away this year? These hot destinations are sure to get your inner travel bug excited! I’ve compiled a list of  the top 8 overseas travel destinations for 2017 with the help of the Director of Smart Flyer  Australia, Stuart Reay.

1. Iceland: Fast becoming one of the worlds hottest destinations Iceland has a range of landscapes on offer. It’s capital Reykjavík whilst not overly populated has plenty on offer from shopping to cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs along with galleries and art museums. To really experience the beauty of this country you need to leave the capital and travel to its many regions. No matter where you go there is a majesty of nature at its very best found throughout. Sites to checkout are, up north you’ll find charming little towns like Akureyri that still have wooden house that date back to the late 19th century. To the south the Blue Lagoon found in the Reyjanes Penninsula, the south of the country boasts some of natures best creations such as the Skogafoss Waterfall and Vatnajokull Glacier. In the countries east you’ll find farms, small fjords, islands and magma chambers filled with  colourful mineral deposits.  To the west the landscape offers so many natural wonders such as volcanoes, waterfalls that live in harmony with a variety of wildlife and fauna. No matter where you go in Iceland the beauty of its contrasting landscape is captivating. This is a perfect destination for the outdoorsy type that also likes the creature comforts of fine dinning and hotels.

2.Greenland: Ok, off the cuff the highlight for this place is definitely the Northern Lights! With most of its land mass covered in ice you’ll find that a majority of the population live along the coast. This destination is perfect for the adventurer in you. There are a range of outdoor activities such as snowboarding, kayaking, helisking, whale watching, or if you prefer to be sailed around and take in the sites there are boat tours. For more on what to do visit the countries tourism site.

3. Cartagena , Columbia: Columbias hottest destination for 2017 is Cartagena, the  fishing village is on Columbia’s Carbaibbean Coast and is a historic tower with its colonial architecture. The village also has beautiful beaches and is a popular destination for tourists. The old town isn’t too big and is protected by stone walls that were built centuries ago. Not only is Cartagena seeped in its colonial history but it boasts gorgeous beaches and offers something for every traveller.

4.Galápagos Islands: the Islands form part of a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean and are a province of Ecuador.  Because of their  isolation ( approximately 10000 km from the coast of Ecuador) they are home to plant and animal species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  If you are a nature buff than this is where you need to go.  You can visit the islands anytime of the year because  their location is close to the equator making temperatures fairly  warm.  For more on the Islands visit Galapagos Conservancy

5.Cuba: Situated in the beautiful Caribbean this island nation is a great destination for your next trip. With it’s 1950’s charm ( you’re going to see cars you’ve only ever seen in movies)  and Spanish colonial architecture whats not to love about Cuba. If you want to get caught up in the feel of a country that has remained virtually untouched by big development for the last 60 years this is the place. There are also beautiful beaches to visit such as Varadero with 20km of white sand luring you into the cool waters of the Caribbean.

6.Sri Lanka: This island nation sits south of India in the Indian ocean. Sri Lanka is famous for its ancient buddhist ruins and diverse landscape. This place will have something for everyone whether you’re a history buff, naturist, surfer or just want to relax and indulge in a spa. Things to see include the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa and the Tea picking, for more information visit the country’s tourism page.

7.Bhutan: If you want to hike this is the place for you. Bhutan is a Buddhist Kingdom situated on the Himalayas eastern edge.  It’s known for its monasteries and fortresses and well as its vast landscape. Emerging as a destination for adventure sports it offers activities such as hiking ( from day hikes to 31 day treks),mountain biking and fishing. If you’re more into the cultural experience there are plenty of festivals to see and monasteries and fortresses to visit. For more information on Bhutan visit their tourism page.

8.Myanmar: This Southeast Asian country (formerly known as Burma) boarders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand.  Because of the countries geographical location it has more than 100 ethnic groups. Whilst it may not be a destination you would have considered the country is rapidly becoming a top travel spot. It’s seeped in its ancient buddhist tradition and the highlights are its ancient temples that date back centuries. Considered to be a glimpse in too the “old Asia” now is the time to visit before it begins to gentrify and modernise.

If you’re planning a holiday the team at smart flyer.com have got you covered. They will personalise your holiday to make it a unique experience.

Whatever you do try to travel to a new place every year – there’s so much out there to see and explore.

Happy travels!

Get Lost In New York City 

The buzz of the city’s energy hits you as soon as you walk out of the airport, there’s an undeniable energy that fills the air with a sense of excitement. It’s no wonder why New York is one of the most sung about, filmed and written about cities in the world.

Apart form it being a buzzing business hub, it is a city that promises the tourist a tantalising experience to delight all your senses. It’s a mix of the old buildings that give it character and history and the modern day high rises that leave you in awe of their architecture.

Whilst this piece just focuses on Manhattan- because I just didn’t get enough time. There is so much to see and do,  if you’ve got the time whatever you do don’t just spend it in Manhattan explore the other boroughs. Take a ride through Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and take the ferry to Staten Island (the ferry to the Island is free and possibly one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty- two birds one stone!).

If you’re only there for a short time or on a business trip you possibly wont get time to do everything. Trust me there is so much to see that even my five days wasn’t enough.

If you’re only there for a few days then below are my top picks for a short stay (Yes, of course you have to see the Statue of Liberty- it’s a given, so I didn’t include this in my pick of attractions), they are as follow.

Central Park: This park is absolutely huge. So be prepared, if you want to spend a day at the park take your walking shoes. The best way to find out what you want to see and to plan your day is with the Central Park  App (the official one) that you can download for free on iTunes. Not only will this app help you plan your day but also help you find your way when you get lost- trust me you will! If you’re getting tired from walking around take a horse and carriage ride around the park, it’s a bit pricey if you’re ridding solo but well worth it. You have a few options on the length of the ride and carriages fit about 4-5 people. To catch a horse and carriage ride you can find them lined up outside the Plaza Hotel on West 59th St.

The Brooklyn Bridge walk: This is a gorgeous walk to do, it’ll take you about 40 minutes each way especially if you are stoping to take in the view. The bridge is beautiful and the views of Manhattan are stunning.

St Patricks Cathedral:  Located on 5th Avenue and 51st Street, this neo- gothic Roman Catholic Church is breathtaking. It’s free to enter but they do work on donations. Once inside the architecture is stunning. This is still an operational Cathedral with masses taking place regularly.

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One World Trade Center, NY. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

9/11 Memorial and surrounds: This is one of the most somber places I have ever been too. You can choose to go to the museum or just walk around the memorial twin reflecting pools. A walk around the site is a spiritual experience no matter how unaffected you may have been at the time of the attacks on September 11, 2001. It allows you to take in the enormity of the events that occurred and their aftermath. The reflecting pools are a beautiful dedication to the thousands of men and women who lost their lives that day and have been placed on the exact location of where the Twin Towers used to stand. The new World Trade Center- One World Trade Center, is also a high light with a viewing deck that will provide you one of the best views of Manhattan and across the rivers.

Broadway: Ok, so you need to take in a show! I think this pick is pretty self explanatory- we’re talking BROADWAY! There are so many shows to choose from so even if you’re not the most avid theatre fan you will definitely find something to watch.

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View from the Empire State Building looking out towards the Statue of Liberty. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

The Empire State Building: Situatted at 350 5th Avenue, the building is an iconic monument and if this is your first trip then this is a must. Whilst not the best view of the city, the views are still simply gorgeous. Get there early in the morning because the queues to get in get lengthy as the day progresses. Or if you want to experience the view in the evening get there late at night to beat the queues. The viewing deck is open till 2am every day (that’s right- 356 days a year!).

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Times Square. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

Other highlights are the tour of Brooklyn and the night tour of Manhattan that run with nearly all sightseeing bus companies and of course Times Square, Grand Central Station and of course the many museums and art galleries you have to choose from.

Whatever you decide to do you’ll be impressed with this city’s attractions and social scene. Just remember to take your sneakers as most attractions are a short walking distance from each other.

Killer Fashion: The health risks we choose to ignore all for the sake of looking good.

We all love fashion, however the lengths we go to to look good can at sometimes be painful and damaging to our bodies. Tell that to my feet at 4am on Sunday morning after a night of dancing and they would agree with you!

All throughout history from the most primitive of cultures to the most affluent, looking good has always been an important part of society. The lengths women have gone to in order to make themselves look good will make your head spin.

In Africa tribes such as the Mende people of Sierra Leon, believed that the Neck Ring worn by their women is the epitome of beauty. Each to their own I say. Although it looks pretty, this piece of jewellery stretches the neck and causes severe damage. Yet, to the women of the Mende Tribe this was a symbol of sexuality, wealth and high status.

In China the practice of foot binding began in the 10th Century during the Tang Dynasty. Young girls from the age of six had their feet bound in bandages and broken so they couldn’t grow. This practice lasted for nearly a thousand years.

Why would you do that? Well, according to an article by Carrie Kellenberger this was done because small feet were a sign of prestige, beauty and wealth.

In today’s society women may not be as extreme in their attempts to look good, I’m not talking plastic surgery- because there have been some cringe worthy moments! I’m talking about high heels. For most women wearing heels makes us feel sexy, our legs look longer, slimmer and let’s face it they make any outfit look great (even a potato sack). Who doesn’t want to look like a glamazon straight off a runway?

In spite of this- now lets be honest with each other, wearing high heeled shoes isn’t the most comfortable thing, even Lady Gaga wears joggers when she’s not performing. If it were, those fold up ballet flats wouldn’t have been invented and tucked into our clutches.

I’m the first to say I love waring my heels.   But whilst they look good they aren’t that great for you. Long term wear- I mean wearing them all day everyday, impacts your feet, ankles, calves and hips as well as severely impacting your spine and knees.

In an article featured on the spine universe , Dr Christina Lasich wrote “the spine is very vulnerable because it has specially designed curves that evenly distribute your weight. High heels alter these curves. Eventually, this poor posture places too much uneven wear on the discs, the joints, and the ligaments of the back”

Think that’s bad? Ok well here’s what it does to your knees wearing them frequently puts extra strain on the inner sides your knees, making the wear and tear accelerate which then causes osteoarthritis.

I can go on but you get the idea. My point is that whilst we all want to look good, we should also be aware any health issues that may arise when your body is constantly put in an unnatural stance.

Don’t worry I get it , we all need to look our best especially if you’re working in a corporate environment. If you work in an office and have meetings then have the heels by your desk and ready to go but wear them only when you have to. Ballet flats come in all shades and designs and are comfy. Plus no ones going to look at what shoes you’re wearing when you’re sitting behind your desk.

So before you go taking your heels to the nearest charity bin- it’s OK, you don’t need to! Just remember to give your feet a break from time to time.

 

Mesmerising Kefalonia, Greece

Used as a backdrop for films such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin this stunning island boasts many unique locations that will leave even the most avid traveller breathless.

Now, before I go on I must admit there is a little bias here (OK, a lot of bias) as this is my mothers birth place and I visit the island every time I’m in Greece.

Kefalonia( or Cephalonia) is situated west of mainland Greece in the Ionian Sea and is the largest island  of the Ionian Islands, approximately 786.6 km² with the town of Argostoli being the islands capital.

Because the island is so big you’ll be spoiled for choice as to where to stay and what to do. Renting a car is a must if you’re planning on visiting.

There are so many places to see; amongst the biggest attractions are caves, villages ( approximately 365 of them) and beaches. Since there are so many – you can virtually write a book on the island, I’ve listed my favourite spots below.

The Caves 

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Melissani Cave. Image credit : Pixabay

Melissani Cave: This is truly one of natures greatest productions. The cave is located at Karavomylos near Sami and  was discovered in the early 1950’s. Since then has become a popular tourist destination. The rays of sunshine that enter the cave through its collapsed roof glisten off the cool blue waters that fill the cave.There are boat rides that take you around allowing you to get a closer feel for this nymphs playground.

Drogarati Cave: A short distance from Melissani cave, this marvel of nature is filled with stalactites and stalagmites. You can walk through this cave and take in all its splendour. It also has great acoustics and has had many concerts held in its entrance chamber.

The Villages

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Assos. Image credit Pixabay

Assos: This small picturesque village is situated on the northern side of the island on cliffs along a peninsula with the same name not very far from Myrtos beach. The town is set amongst cypresses and pine trees with houses painted in many different colours. There aren’t many shops there, the village is small with a few local handcrafts. It’s charming and quiet, a nice place for a romantic over night stay.  My tip is  go for a day trip you swim and also have lunch at one of the few taverns that sit by the water. You’ll need a car or motor bike to get here.

Fiscardo: Another picturesque village situated on the northern tip of the island , and was built around a harbour. The village was left virtually unscathed from the earthquake of 1953. The buildings you see here are old, original and like Assos they are colourful. A stroll around the harbour will leave you breathless at the yachts of the rich that frequent the the place for its tranquility.

The Beaches

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Myrtos Beach. Photo: Maria Schindlecker

Myrtos: This has to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it’s located 30kms north from the islands capital Argostoli. The white rock cliffs and hills that surround the beach provide a stunning back drop for the cool blue waters and white pebbles  (no sand here folks) that make this beach one of the best in Greece. The best place to take a photo is at the top just before you head down to the beach.

Xi: OK, so this beach is a bit different to the others. Forget the whit sand or pebbly beaches, its sand is red and it has  clay cliffs. But don’t let that deter you. This is your 2 in one day spa and beach experience.  You can break the clay from the cliffs that surround it and rub it on your skin or face (as most of the locals do). The beach has water activities and hosts a few tavernas and cafes. This gorgeous beach is located about 10 km from the town of Lixouri or about 40 kms from Argostoli.

Makris Gialos and Platis Gialos: these beaches are right next to each other in Lassi which is south of Argostoli on the way to the airport. If you’re in Argostoli its a short cab ride away . Both beaches are surrounded by rich lush vegetation. Makris Gialos however is more for the party goer, it has a variety of water sports and beach bars – Costa Costa being the most popular. Platis Gialos is quieter and out of the two beaches most locals can be found there.

There are many more beaches, villages and attractions to visit and way too many to list .

Wherever you decide to stay in Kefalonia you will have a range of places to visit and activities to choose from.

Happy Travels!

 

 

 

 

 

Job burn- It’s real and can be doing you more harm than good.

Ever thought “why am I still in this job, and how do I get out?” I have. Now, I’m not saying that everyone will experience this in the same way as I have but I think its important for people to know that the realities of not liking your job can lead to serious consequences. So when I started to look further into this before I made my mind up to leave I was surprised at what some of these consequences were. I mean you don’t like your job- so who does?! Toughen up and live with it-right? Well, no not exactly.

The stress of being in a job that’s not your career plan or that is draining can take its toll on you physically and mentally. Lets admit it, most of us have experienced this to some degree, unless of course you are living your dream life and career-if so we’re green with envy.

For most though, not liking your job can actually affect your health. Yep that’s right! Not liking where you work or even what you do can be detrimental to your health. For me it became such a mundane task that I used to stare at my screen and nothing would literally compute. Not only that, there was the feeling that this job was going to get me nowhere–at least not in any career path I wanted to be in. And believe me my decision to leave was not based on a whim; we’re talking months and months of having the same feelings.

According to the Indeed Job Happiness Index 2016 Workplace Happiness World Wide, Australia ranked 11th in the World out of 25 participating countries and a sample size of 10 million employees. Whilst we’re doing better than number 25 Belgium-if anyone was curious, the report does show that most Australians are not happy with their jobs.

Another survey conducted by Survey Sampling International on behalf of Seek saw out of 4800 participants half were unhappy with their jobs.

For a majority of us the most common reasons for not taking the risk of changing employment comes down to things like mortgage repayments, no time to job hunt-you know life! Also not having the skill set or qualifications to do what we really want or we just don’t know where or how to start looking for the career we desperately want to have.

However, not doing anything about it will all eventually lead what is known as it job dissatisfaction. That feeling you get when you find yourself staring at the computer screen and no thought process will drag you out of the chasm of empty thoughts you’re currently in.

Job dissatisfaction and emotional stress can be brought on by “job burn out”.  Trust me I’ve been there-it’s not pretty! Job burn out can lead to you feeling exhausted emotionally, physically and mentally. This can then lead to negative thoughts and feelings that can leave you feeling a sense of hopelessness and can lead to further implications including health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.

The causes of job burnout or work related stress can vary for each person. A few main reasons for these causes can be:

  • Organisation culture
  • Bad management practices
  • Job content and demands
  • Physical work environment
  • Relationships at work
  • Change of management
  • Lack of support
  • Role conflict
  • Trauma

These are some reasons that its time to make a change, there may be others that will vary from person to person.

If you’re unhappy and can recognise some of the above reasons, and you can leave the current position you’re in then do so. I saw a sign in a café once that read “the fear of failure cripples dreams”. Staying in a job that isn’t doing you a world of good career wise, mentally or both is not going to be great for you in the long run.

Alternatively, if you can’t leave but can get a ‘career break’ from your employer, then that’s also a good starting point to give yourself a chance to try something different. At least you have the safety net that you can return to employment.

Taking the plunge can be scary, but what’s scarier giving something a go for fear of failure or staying in the same day to day routine that you have absolutely no passion or enthusiasm for?

Your body and mind are in cahoots with each other so make sure you listen to them.