Tag Archives: Travel

Recharging the Batteries

We all need to take that break once in a while; to get away from the everyday routine and spend some time relaxing. Most of the time, all we manage to fit in is a weekend away, but every so often we are lucky enough to have the chance to take a longer holiday. Fortunately for me, I just had that chance and spent the best part of two months over Christmas in Europe with a few friends.

Paris

While flying into Paris just one week following the tragic shootings last November was not the most positive way to start, the next two months went off without a hitch as we travelled more than 7,500 km from city to city, seeing the famous landmarks, sights that are not so well known; and taking the opportunity to immerse ourselves in cultures that are similar, yet so different from what we have at home.

 

Soccer

Even though I returned in January, there are a few memories that have stuck firm in my mind. Standing at the top of Mount Vesuvius was breathtaking despite the clouds, while, during New Year’s Eve in Prague, it started to snow just before midnight, which, to a bunch of Australians, was something we had never seen before. As a soccer fan, visits to the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou, the home grounds of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, had been long planned but still managed to surpass expectations; and off the beaten path, exploring a hundreds of year old salt mine in Poland was something very new to me since the miners had carved massive caverns and churches into the salt.

 

TimTo anyone planning a trip soon to Europe, I have a few practical suggestions that might come in handy. If you are planning to travel to a number of closeby cities and have the time to take the train, Eurail has a number of deals that could be convenient. We found the system easy to use and much more relaxing than spending hours waiting in airport terminals for all but the longest legs of the trip. Also, the internet is a fantastic source of information that really impressed me; from airbnb for accommodation, to tripadvisor for suggestions of activities and places to eat, there has never been an easier way to easily access information and stay connected. Finally, I found google maps to be the most convenient way to find our way around, by downloading an offline map for each city we made sure we never got lost.

Tim 2

 

We all need to take time to step back, refocus and prepare for whatever is to come (JBS and more Uni for me) so we can put our best foot forward and have the greatest chance of success.

 


Brodie’s Family Holiday

I know that when I wasn’t in the office a couple of weeks ago, you were all wondering where I was….well I was cruising it up with the family. We’d heard about the kids clubs at the resorts in Fiji and had thought maybe a family holiday there might be nice but then a friend suggested a cruise. I’ve never cruised before other than the Spirit of Tasmania which looks like a dingy in comparison to the beast we sailed on.

 

Brodie Cruise 1

 

Anyway, we had seven days to make our way to New Caledonia and Vanuatu and back. The kids had the kids club which they loved because of the endless play station games, maze play area, crafts and even an ice-cream party. We also had a bit of fun getting into the swing of cruise living by taking on the trivia challenges and hubbie even went on a flying fox that goes from one end of the ship to the other.

 

Brodie Cruise 3

 

When we did make it off the boat it was magical. We did a tour on our first stop that went around the island and just seeing life so simple made me relaxed. Lots of green trees and coast line that is everywhere on a small island. We also went to an aquarium and we saw this cool fish/shell/crab backwards thingy that moves sideways with just the slightest of movement. Google is the greatest thing ever …. it’s called a nautiloids.

 

Cruise 4

 

The second stop was in Lifou which is effectively just a beach. We swam in the turquoise waters, with coral and exotic fish underneath. With the toddler goggles we had with us, I squeezed my head into them and went out for a dip. I saw some beautiful fish, just like in the movies and I even found myself admiring two small black and white sea snakes. And now that I’m writing about them for this blog piece I thought I’d google it to see if I could find a picture and the first sentence I read about these lovely creatures I was swimming with is….”the highly venomous black and white banded sea snakes are often found along Fiji’s shores or in lagoons.” Glad I didn’t know that when I was in the water.

 

When in Vanuatu we had a guided tour in a bus with no air conditioning when I would’ve said was approaching 40c and the humidity was right up there (felt like I was back in Vegas again). We went to look outs to see the beautiful coastline and greenness of the island, we went past the new hospital, the French and English sides, saw Kava bars, met a tribal chief, and ate local fruit. It was a lovely day and then I ditched the hubby and kids so they could enjoy the air conditioning of the ship while I strolled along the portside market to get some souvenirs.

 

Brodie Cruise 2

 

We then sailed home back on a cloud of relaxation (except for the few times both kids had meltdowns). I love that I didn’t need to have my bag with me, a simple little card was it. Which is a hot tip for new cruisers, take a lanyard (that neck thingy with the clip on the end) as you’ll need it to put your card on to pay for your drinks. I can highly recommend cruising even if you have kids although hold off until age 3 when your kids can attend the kids club.

 

While we had a fantastic holiday, I now feel saddened for those living in Vanuatu after the destruction that Cyclone Pam brought. Homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings were damaged and destroyed across the capital, Port Vila, where over 2,800 people remain in evacuation centres. If you have ever travelled there, or even if you haven’t yet, I ask that you donate to an organisation that is fund raising to assist those in Vanuatu. I want to ensure that everyone there is safe and comfortable and can start to rebuild this lovely, tranquil place back to what it was so we can all enjoy it.

 

If you are looking for a charity, I have donated to the Red Cross appeal

 

 

 


My So Called “Planned Holiday” | Andy Lay

Over the Christmas and New Year’s break, I had an amazing plan to get a few major things done in the 1 month I had off. First thing was to get my home loan ready in the anticipation of potentially purchasing my first home. Next, was to complete all outstanding errands and spend some quality time with my family (as I had my lovely nieces from interstate visit). In between all of this, there was Xmas parties, birthday parties and New Year’s celebrations. If I managed to get some spare time in between, I had plans for myself, to do absolutely nothing at all (the stuff dreams are made of).

Andy

 

How did I go? Let me tell you.

As a rule of thumb I always want to get the least enjoyable tasks out of the way first, so in the first week the goal was to get my finances ready which would leave me 3 weeks to search and find the perfect home for me and my family. Bearing in mind that the majority of the paperwork required for my home loan was submitted prior to my break, it still took until the last week of my holidays for the application to be completed. This was due to my slackness but we eventually got there. Anyway, 3 days to go and find for our perfect home. To make matters worse, I came down with a fever in the last week of my holiday. The end result was, even though I got the home loan sorted I am still currently looking for a home, not to worry because I got to spend some quality time with my family.

Leon

 

Each year, my God Daughters come down from Darwin and spend their summer holidays with us. I’ve always loved having them visit for several reasons. Firstly, I enjoy several activities only kids can enjoy, these being going to water parks, riding the rides all day, and eating ice cream when all the rides have been closed. Some may say I’m babysitting three 3 little girls, I’m secretly enjoying the water parks just as much as they are. The second reason is my son Leon, who is 1 and has endless amounts of energy and still wants to play even when we put him down to sleep. However after a full day of running around with his cousins, he sleeps like a dream. This leaves me a couple of hours to relax and watch a movie, hit the gym, or even head out with the boys (subject to permission from the wife).

 

In between sorting out my home loan, enjoying theme parks with the kids and getting sick, I managed to get all my errands completed including servicing both cars and painting my parent’s house.

 

So did I learn anything from my 1 month break? I learnt that my son sleeps a lot better after he spends all day playing with his cousins, I also learnt that maybe he needs a brother or sister so I can spend some more time with my wife (or the boys). Overall I managed to spend a lot of quality time with my friends and family, I completed all my errands and miraculously found time for myself. The question now is when’s my next holiday? Can’t wait!

 


Chasing the Summer Sun

IMG_5236Christmas I always go home to see my family & friends back home in Queensland. When I arrived in the “sunny state” on Christmas day the weather was not so sunny and the outlook was not looking great for the next couple of weeks. Trying to keep active/outdoor kids amused inside for five days was becoming difficult, my niece & nephew aren’t really fans watching cricket on TV (this was also depressing as the weather in Victoria was amazing) so the decision was made to head back to Victoria early to actually have a summer break.

 

Arriving back in Melbourne I sent out a few text messages to friends living along the coast and began planning a road trip. Starting in Werribee South Beach, I spent a couple of nights at friend’s house relaxing by the water with a few cold beverages and soaking up the sun. It was nice to be able to spend NYE in a dark and secluded part of the world but still be close enough to watch the fireworks that were set off in Melbourne and Geelong.

IMG_5221

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s day we packed up the surf boards and headed to Torquay where we again enjoyed the sun, surf and great company. The evening involved strolling round the amazing market in Torquay, this particular market is open every Thursday night during January (the market then move to Geelong after that). All sorts of yummy cheap eat food stalls, cold beverages, local markets selling all sorts of handmade jewellery, clothes and bits and pieces along with live music & entertainment all evening. I couldn’t believe how many people were at this market, it was huge.

IMG_5224

 

After another overnight stay with some friends we again packed up the surfboards in search of some waves further south along the coast. We thought leaving early we might miss the traffic, however once we hit Lorne it was all over. It was a stinking hot sunny day and I didn’t fancy wasting it sitting in traffic watching people enjoy the sun from the car window. Although very small waves, we parked the car and I ventured into the cold water for a paddle.

 

Sun kissed, tired and hungry it was time to head back to Melbourne to begin the preparation for back to work – pity we can’t live the beach life fulltime.

PJ   🙂

 


My Trip to America – Peter Folk

There I was on the 18th of August looking out the window at the big Qantas A380 about to take me on my journey to America! After about 14 hours in the air we landed in LA, and made our way to our first stop, Anaheim.

Of course the only reason we’d be in Anaheim is to go to Disneyland. For the next 3 days we toured around Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure Park, and believe me you need the full 3 days. Now I’m not a big fan of rides, I went on a couple, so while my mate was checking out the rides I walked around to discover what Disneyland had to offer. If you’re not a big fan of rides like me, there’s still plenty to do and see! My two highlights from Disneyland were the fireworks show and the magical light show at the California adventure park (a must see!).

Disney

After our three days of Disneyland, it was time to head off to the other side of the country to see the big city, New York. Staying right at Time Square, which is really great to see at night, and always packed! This is where we were to spend the next 6 days. While my mate went and saw the Broadway shows, I trekked around the city all day! There is plenty to see in New York, and well I saw most of it. From the 9/11 memorial, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park (man it’s huge) and grand central station. And believe me there’s plenty more to see and do, you even see places here and there by just randomly walking around (I even saw the famous 5th Avenue Apple Store, I’m a huge fan)! And of course, I did go and see one Broadway show, being a big Disney fan it had to be Aladdin. If it ever comes to Australia, I recommend you go and see it.

NYC

After New York we set off to Chicago, unfortunately we didn’t do our research on Chicago so there’s plenty more we could have seen in our short time there, but we made the most of what we had. If you ever go to Chicago I highly recommend the Tommy Guns dinner show, great entertainment and very friendly staff. On top of this we couldn’t go to Chicago and not go on a mob tour. Apparently Al Capones millions are still hiding somewhere, so I may have to go back and explore. And my mate and I are quite fond of burgers, so we checked out The Cheesecake Factory, not only do they have awesome cheesecakes but they have a massive menu and awesome burgers, just wish they had one in Melbourne!

 

After Chicago it was back to the other side of the country to visit San Francisco, where in our few short days there we took advantage of as many tours as possible. Day trip to Muir woods, one of many national parks you can visit, and finished off by the city night lights tour, awesome tour. And of course we got to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Now we couldn’t go to San Francisco and not see Fisherman’s Wharf (we stayed right around the corner), and see the absolute highlight of my trip, Alcatraz! My friend and I are both horror fans we saw Alcatraz at night. Unfortunately there were no ghost stories (the hospital ward was a bit freaky though), but it was one amazing tour. At first I was sceptical of an audio tour, but it did not disappoint and was very interactive. If you go to San Francisco just make sure you see Alcatraz.

Alcatraz

Now we’re off to our final destination, after about 3 weeks of travelling, and it’s time to relax and I couldn’t wait. This was my favourite destination I must admit, but I prefer the tropics and beaches over cities, so I was a bit biased. We couldn’t go to America and not visit Hawaii! While in Hawaii we did two tours, one was Pearl Harbour, an awesome tour where we saw the USS Arizona memorial and got to check out the USS Missouri. The other tour, well that was a huge day, up at 4am and didn’t get back to our hotel until after 10pm. It was the Volcano national park tour. We had to fly across to the big island where we were taken around the volcano national park, and toured a bit of Hilo (the main city). Our guide was awesome and showed us some cool spots. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see lava and we missed out on seeing the glow from the volcano at night, but it was still a must do tour!

Waikiki Beach

After getting the tours out the way, it was time to relax on the beach and get a tan! I just couldn’t get enough of the sun and beach. After 7 days in Hawaii and an awesome 3 and a half weeks of holidays in America, it was time to head home! I definitely want to go back and check out America again, so much more to see and do.


Adam’s Europe Trip

Coming from 40 degrees to being woken by the pilot announcing it was 4 degrees almost made me do a U-turn in customs. However, I am slowly settling back into the routine after an amazing 4 week break in Europe. I saw some amazing things and met heaps of intriguing people. I spent the majority of my break in Hungary and Malta and thought I would share some of the highlights.

We began in Budapest, the capitol of Hungary. It is an amazing and charming city, full of great food, awesome rooftop bars, Mongolian architecture and dainty markets. The city is small enough to walk if you are staying centrally or alternatively the public transport is cheap.

They have the amazing Szechenyi Public Baths (see photo below) which are frequented by both locals and tourists. There are an array of pools, spas, sauna’s and steam rooms all varying in temperature. You can also book yourself a massage with a fully trained physiotherapist for a few dollars!

Baths

We also visited the old synagogue which is the most amazing and intricate building of its type I have ever seen in the world (photo below)

Building

After we had eaten enough goulash we ventured into the Mediterranean Sea to visit Malta. It is a tiny island measuring 28km across and is almost 100km directly below Sicily. Malta quickly became one of my favourite places that I have visited in Europe. You can spend between 7 and 10 euro per meal and be absolutely stuffed with fresh and tasty produce.

Food

They have amazing architecture and history there, including both pebble and sand beaches which makes it the perfect place to do a little bit of touristy stuff and also completely relax. The island has an intricate network of busses; tickets cost 1.50 Euro for the entire day which makes it easy to get around. We did a day trip to the neighboring island of Gozo, where they have the oldest monolithic structure in the world (5500 BC) and also film scenes for Game of Thrones.   You can catch a ferry there from the main island which delivers you to this port (see photo).

On the way back from Gozo, you can detour via the Island of Camino which has the bluest water I have ever seen in the world, even clearer than the blue grotto in Capri. The fast boats cost about 10 Euro and run from 10 in the morning until 6 in the evening, they also take you on a quick tour of the caves around the island of Camino.

Malta

The trip was amazing and I have come back truly relaxed. I can definitely recommend visiting both Hungary and Malta, if you are considering a holiday there, send me an email at amckenzie@jbsfinancial.com.au and I will reply with some more detailed notes and tips.


Old London Town

I recently took a 2 week trip to London with my wife Rachel who was there for business, shacking us up at the beautiful InterContinental London Westminster.  Although the weather was cold and drizzly, the sun made a few unexpected appearances and the rain remained subdued during the most part.  The food and service I find, is a lot friendlier in London than that of its Melbournian counterpart and the public transport system makes for travelling everywhere almost as easy.

Mat's Blog - London

We shopped on Oxford Street, dined in pitch black darkness at ‘Dans le noir’ and satisfied our sweet tooths at ‘Haagen Dazs’ on Leicester Square, they are dessert magicians!  While Rachel worked, I took on the sites via the double decker bus, black cab, and subway visiting the London Eye, Big Ben, Royal Palace and other typical tourist hotspots.

 

To top off the holiday, we hopped over to the bicycle crazed city of Amsterdam.  Although we only stayed a weekend, the hop on hop off tour bus provided easy access to all things Amsterdam; Anne Frank’s house, the water canals, Museums, the Heineken Experience and of course, the Red Light District.

Mat's Blog - Amsterdam

We had a great time and would definitely go back to both these amazing cities.

Mat


Adam McKenzie

Once we tick into May I will have been at JBS for 5 years.  My current role is to automate and improve the systems we use on the SMSF side of the business.  We are well underway with the project and are looking to utilise all the technology and software available to ensure the SMSF client experience is unlike any other while encompassing the values of transparency, efficiency and accuracy.

Once the work day ends you can find me on the golf course, boarding the slopes, reading a book or playing my guitar. Some say I also have a mild travel addiction, they are not wrong. In my 24 years on planet earth I have had the pleasure of exploring 25 different countries, all amazing and beautiful in their own right. My goal is to continually stay at least 1 country ahead of my age.  What attracts me to travelling so much is that it opens your eyes beyond any form of written education. It also gives you invaluable perspective and memories that stay with you for life.

Some of the countries I have visited include; Poland, Croatia, India, Switzerland, Belgium, Thailand, UAE, Israel and New Zealand.  I am always planning my next trip as it gives me something to work that extra bit harder towards. South America for the soccer world cup is currently topping my list. Hopefully the Aussies qualify!

Below are a few snaps from my global escapades. From the top left; Paris, Budapest, Agra, Breckenridge, Berlin & Venice.

Adam photos