Coolum Beach Holiday Park – Paradise at its Best

Coolum Beach Holiday Park - almost on the Pacific Ocean! www.gypsyat60.com

Coolum Beach Holiday Park – almost on the Pacific Ocean!

Nope, this isn’t an advert, just the chance to share information on the fantastic Coolum Beach Holiday Park, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

We stay at the Park in our caravan for three weeks every Christmas/New Year and it’s now like a home away from home – with more benefits. (There’s cabins to rent as well).

Being in the Boomer age bracket, we really enjoy the Holiday Park more in the cooler months (April through to September. You know what it’s like, all the benefits are still there but the environment is quieter.

Let’s face it, there’s no substitute for being amongst happy families and children, but peace and quiet is a close second best!

So, whether you are heading up the Queensland Coast or coming back down – in a caravan or driving – the Coolum Beach Holiday Park has a bucket list of reasons to stay.

Continue Reading

Bocce Mania While Cruising the Pacific Ocean

Bocce Balls waiting to be picked up on the Lawn - 15th deck of Celebrity Solstice

Bocce balls ready and waiting.

Lots of you have cruised at some stage, and I’m betting are keen to go again?

But…have you played Bocce on REAL GRASS in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?  No land in sight for as far as the eye can see – just you, your partner (or team), Bocce balls and a Jack (the small while ball) for company.

Oh, then there’s the Sunset Bar next to the bocce green with happy bar staff always ready to put a glass in your hand up there on the 15th deck of the Celebrity Solstice.

Wait – there’s  more.  The half acre of thick green lawn boasts regular Hot Glass Blowing displays and movies.

Ah, a picnic on the grass while watching a movie at sea – is this heaven or what?

So, if Santa leaves a cruise voucher in your stocking this Christmas (even if only for a taxi fare to the terminal), check out the hot deals on Travel at 60 and look for a Celebrity ship cruise.

You’ll never ever know, if you never ever go.

READ MORE:  https://travel.startsat60.com/articles/the-celebrity-solstice-cruise-that-will-bowl-you-over

Uluru and the Sounds of Silence

Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory, Australia. Amazing contrast between blue sky, clouds, red rock and green surrounding bush (scrub). www.gypsyat60.com

My Hero shot of Uluru

Here I was approaching the end of my 7th decade and still hadn’t been out to see Uluru (AKA Ayer’s Rock, or The Rock) in the Red Centre of OZ.

This was fixed when a deal came through from Travelat60.com.  Six days in the Red Centre of Australia complete with sunset and sunrise tours AND a visit to the world famous Field of Light.

After a quick check of the budget and a decision made not to give anyone Christmas presents we were booked and off to “Touch the Silence”.

Continue Reading

Exciting NYC (New York) for Boomer Budgets

 

NYC View from the Empire State Building. www.gypsyat60.com

Birds eye view from the Empire State Building – for those who like heights.

“Have you been to NYC?”  This has been a frequent question over the years – usually followed by a look as if I had two heads, because apparently nearly everyone in the world had been except me!

Well this was fixed in October, when we added five nights in New York onto the end of a Canadian trip.

BEST decision ever!  Just loved every single thing about the “city that never sleeps” – especially people watching!

Thousands of people 24/7 filling the streets, shops, bars, cafes, subways, buses, trains etc.

Everyone so different – dreadlocks, hair braids, short, tall, dark, light, tourists, corporate – colourful clothes.   And…here I was worrying about what to wear – I could’ve walked around starkers and blended in!

Continue Reading

Skagway – Cycling from Klondike Summit to the Sea

Bike tours set up by Sockeye Bicycle Tours, White Pass Summit tour, Skagway, Alaska.

Bikes Ready and Waiting!

Skagway was a highly anticipated port of call when sailing the shores of Alaska.  Reason being, a “Summit to the Sea” cycling tour with Sockeye Cycle Company had been pre-booked to retrace the historic Klondike Gold Rush.

The bike ride literally flies down from the White Pass Summit – if you’re looking for an adrenalin rush, this one’s for you.  Cycling skills and concentration were definitely needed on this ride as compared to riding through Paris at Sunset, or cycling the Ancient Appian Way in Rome 

Note – there’s no time to look for gold nuggets on the way down the Pass!

Continue Reading

Pelicans and Baby Boomers – a Comparison!

Percy Penguin surveying his kingdom. Tangalooma Island Resort, Moreton Island, Queensland Australia. www.gypsyat60.com

Australian Pelican surveying his kingdom at Tangalooma Island Resort.

Poem for Pelicans

“Wonderful birds are pelicans
Their bills will hold more than their belican.
They can take in their beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how they helican.”

Ok, so I haven’t been around the world yet checking out all varieties of pelicans.  But…as Baby Boomer age has arrived, I find myself relating to the antics of the fascinating varieties I have met.  (Please note this isn’t an Ornithological report just a ramble of observations!)

However – the poem is actually right.

A pelican’s pouch near its bill will indeed hold more than its belly. The pouch will hold up to three gallons (14 litres) of water, whereas its stomach will only hold about one gallon (4.5 litres)

Continue Reading

YAMBA, NSW for Pelicans, Prawns and Peace

Pelicans patiently waiting for fish scraps after fishermen clean their fish. Yamba, New South Wales, Australia. www.gypsy@60.com

Pelicans patiently waiting!

YAMBA is a must do stopover for anyone driving along the northern new south wales coastline of Australia.  Apart from having a couple of the best pubs on the east coast of Australia, it’s only an hour or so drive from Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and a bit more to Brisbane.

So, if being surrounded by pelicans while wetting a line or gorging yourself on fresh prawns is your thing read on.  Oh, and the surrounding countryside and beaches are stunning. Continue Reading

Electric E-spresso Charged Bike by Merida

Huge parrot (artwork) admiring the Merida E-spresso (electric) City 510 bike. www.gypsyat60.com

Artwork of a huge parrot admiring the bike.

The offer to test-ride an electric bike was a dream come true.  The Merida E-Spresso City 510, powered with its Bosch motor, is amazing and will wow everyone, whatever age and fitness level.

Calling all City workers!

This electric bike is perfect for commuting. On arriving at work, whatever distance cycled, there’s no need for a shower and refresh. Just park the E-Spresso bike near your work station then head to the coffee machine for your other Espresso fix!   A fortune can be saved on registration, fuel and parking and the added health benefits through exercise are a bonus.  Continue Reading

A Whisky Toast to Ernest Shackleton’s Life, Grytviken.

Shackleton – a Man among Men

What an honour to stand next to the grave of the intrepid polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, and toast his extraordinary life.

Shackleton, also called “The Boss”, was among the greatest explorers to ever walk on this earth. A great leader who inspired others to strive for greatness, while always putting the safety of his team first.

Ernest Shackleton and ill-fated "The Endurance" in 1914 - Antartica. Photo - Toronto Press. www.gypsyat60.com

Ernest Shackleton and his ship “The Endurance” – 1914

From humble beginnings in Ireland he made four epic voyages to the land of ice and snow – Antarctica – during his short life of 47 years. A life full of daring exploits and survival against impossible odds are the stuff of which legends are made.

A toast with Shackleton at Grytviken, South Georgia should be on everyone’s itinerary for an Antarctic trip. To stand next to this man’s grave and be enthralled at his daring and incredible polar expedition achievements is humbling to say the least.

Arrival at Grytviken

But… before the whisky toasts, our trusty ship, the “MS Ushuaia” needed to lower her zodiacs to transport 80 passengers to the shores of Grytviken, South Georgia.

Luck was with us weather wise, sunny and mild at 6 degrees. Quite opposite to the day before at Stromwest where we were met with sleet, galeforce winds and snow.

Sheltered harbour of Grytviken. South Georgia, Antarctica. www.gypsyat60.com

Sheltered harbour of Grytviken. (Photo credit Alek Komarnitsky – www.komar.org)

Grytviken was one of the major seal and whaling stations in the 1930s where approximately 1.3m whales were harpooned. The statistics are depressing and you are better off speaking to Mrs Google for more details of this horrible whale devastation.

The small settlement is now the administrative centre on South Georgia with a handful of permanent residents at a British Antarctic Survey Research Station.

But…as they say it’s now history and Grytviken is a really interesting little community to explore.

Ruins of an old Whaling Boat, GrytvikenGrytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica. www.gypsyat60.com

Whaling boat that had seen better days.

Somehow I got sidetracked on the way to the cemetery by taking so many photos of seals (a firm favourite), boat wrecks and abandoned machinery used for processing of whale blubber, meat etc.

Chains to drag whales to the boats at Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica. www.gypsyat60.com

Chains of Menace used to harpoon whales.

Tripping over umpteen times on massive whale bones scattered all around the foreshore didn’t help my progress to the cemetery either!

All this procrastination meant I was the last to arrive at Shackleton’s grave for a whisky (at 11.30am!). This meant I hadn’t heard we were supposed to wait until AFTER the quotes about Shackleton’s life had been read to everyone present BEFORE we drank the whisky.

Whisky Toast to Ernest Shackleton at the Whalers Cemetery, Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica. www.gypsyat60.com

Whisky Toast to Ernest Shackleton

So….when the toast was made to this truly heroic Antaractic explorer I had nothing left in my glass!

Plus we were supposed to save a bit of whisky to throw onto his grave out of respect. I immediately prayed for forgiveness from this intrepid polar pioneer and later bought a book on his life from the souvenir shop to catch up on what I’d missed. (SHACKLETON THE BOSS by Michael Smith.)

The Boss was laid to rest high on the hill at the Whaler’s Cemetery on 5 March 1922 with his head facing south towards his exploring ground of Antarctica. There are 63 other people buried there, all facing east which is a Christian custom carried down through the ages.

Overview of The Whalers Cemetery, Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica. Ernest Shacketon's grave is the large stone pillar at the back of cemetery. www.gypsyat60.com

The Whalers Cemetery showing Shackleton’s stone pillar headstone at the back.

The simple granite headstone is inscribed with a quotation from one of his favorite poets, Robert Browning, “I hold…that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize”.

Next to Shackleton’s grave the ashes are interred of Frank Wild with an inscription on the rough-hewn granite block that reads “Frank Wild 1873–1939, Shackleton’s right-hand man.”

Young fur seal at the Whalers Cemetery - unimpressed with the company. Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica.

Young fur seal at the Cemetery – apparently unimpressed with our company.

South Georgia Museum

Because I’d missed so much of Shackleton’s life by arriving at the cemetery late, the South Georgia Museum down the hill seemed the obvious choice to stop and gather more information on the explorer.

South Georgia Museum and displays. Chronicling the sagas experienced by Sir Ernest Shackleton and history of South Georgia. www.gypsyat60.com

South Georgia Museum and displays.

Here you will find the entire Shackleton chronicles which include:

  • Four intrepid polar expeditions
  • Stories of defeat and determination
  • Ships crushed with pack ice and mighty icebergs
  • Crossing the rocky mountains and glaciers mountains of South Georgia in freezing temperatures to get help for his men

This, together with stories and displays on the general life and history of South Georgia make for a well worth stop.

Norwegian Lutheran Church

Norwegian Lutheran Church, settlement of Grytviken, South Georgia. Sitting at the bottom of the Mighty South Georgian Mountains. Also called the Whalers Church. www.gypsyat60.com

Norwegian Lutheran Church, Grytviken

You can’t miss this pretty Grytviken church that is a standout at the base of the mighty and humbling mountains of St Georgia. Also known as the “Whalers Church” (part of the Church of Norway) it was built in 1913 and still has some church services but not on a regular basis.

Do you remember the animated Happy Feet movie made in 2006?   Well this little church with its cameo appearance was the background for one of the shooting days.

Moving On…

With the cold creeping back into our bones, it was time to zodiac our way back to the ship.

Back on board you stop and think of the successes this courageous explorer could have had in the world of technology today with access to:

  • Marine navigation systems
  • GPS receivers
  • Satellite phones
  • Gyro and magnetic compasses
  • Automatic track and electronic chart displays
  • Long range tracking system – and the list goes on.

Well it was then time for one more toast to:

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO, OBE, FRGS

15 February 1874 (Ireland) – 5 January 1922 (Falkland Islands)

Next Stop – Salisbury Plains

The next exciting stop was to get up close and personal with the King Penguins at Salisbury Plains but that’s for another post.

What to take on an Antarctic visit:

Fact: It’s super important to keep your head, hands and feet warm at all times. These are the bits that lose heat quickly.

  • Wellington boots that come at least up to the knee. Otherwise when getting out of zodiacs the water will slosh into your boots!
  • Warm wind and water proof jacket and trousers – waterproof and breathable. These need to be large enough to fit thick woollen jumpers/clothing underneath. I bought a size larger– as much as my ego was bruised in doing this!  NB – My cheap trousers split after the third day and I was reduced to making the seams stronger with duct tape This didn’t work  so a garbage bag was raided from the kitchen to wear over the torn trousers like a skirt. Not the most attractive look!  Better to buy quality jackets and trousers)
  • Windproof warm gloves or mittens. (Mittens can be pulled over the warm gloves)
  • Warm scarf or neck warmer
  • 2 pairs of long woollen underwear, tops and bottoms – preferably Merino 
  • 3 pairs of woollen socks
  • 3 long sleeve tops, shirts.
  • Sunscreen and lip salve. You can get burnt very easily with the reflection off the snow on a sunny day.

This is the outdoor list. When indoors your usual casual clothes are all you need, e.g. on the ship.

Your Own Antarctic Expedition

So…when are you booking your own Antarctic Expedition for a toast to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s life? Jo Van Os Tours  and Natural Habitat Adventures  can be recommended from first hand experiences!

 

Cycling Through Paris is Magic at Sunset

Fat Tire Bike - asked at the Louvre, Paris with sunset approaching.

Fat Tire Bike

We all rode bikes as kids right?  So, it’s a bit like breathing you never forget how. Although if you haven’t ridden for a while, a quick practice run before cycling through Paris is recommended – just to make sure your coordination and balance is on track.

This night bike ride is designed for all fitness levels and cycling through Paris at sunset certainly beats looking out of a bus window!

Continue Reading