HOLIDAY DREAMS

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As the cooler months approach, you could be forgiven for reminiscing about the seemingly mild summer that faded so quickly. It is for this reason that we asked eight Westsiders to tell us about their ‘Holiday Dream’ destination.

VIETNAM

Phuong To – As a destination for the upcoming seasons, nothing beats Vietnam. From my personal journey, my favourite would be in the north, ‘Ha Long Bay’, right next to the capital city itself. Something that can draw you in for days on ends are the sceneries of the rock formation/caves formed through nature itself and small islands, with each having a particular fairy tale. Visiting the caves felt magical in itself – they are lighted for the convenience of tourist to view and take pictures. The caves themselves are only accessible through boats, which is a scenic tour showing the aquatic life, clear waters and the large mountains erected in the open water to view. Some scenery you should check out include Thien Cung, Hoang Long and Tien Ong caves.

Food! Who can forget the food. Everywhere you turn, there seems to be food everywhere from the traditional restaurants to the food stands on the streets, restaurants floating on the open waters and even vendors on the water which take the role of a traditional market where you can buy all sorts of food from fruits, vegetables, cooked food and sweets. However, caution is needed sometimes as some unexpected food may turn up in front of you. Additionally, as a bonus everything is dirt cheap as most things are in Vietnam (even with the bad exchange rates we are seeing now).

For the adventurous and risk takers, there is one thing that is catered for them. It is the crazy traffic that is ubiquitous throughout the country. It is literally about going when you want to, while avoiding whatever comes your way. No red light, no green lights, just go when you believe that you can go whether that be turning, overtaking or just speeding. Avoiding others and keeping yourself safe is a skill in itself on the roads of Vietnam.

LAOS

Jennifer Manivong – I’m originally half Lao and have always wanted to visit Laos. Thought I would talk about my country because a lot of people are clueless about where it is and what it is. Laos is a small country with Buddhist culture located in Asia.

It is located in the centre of Indochina, sharing borders with China, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. 70% of Laos is mountainous. The Thai and Lao languages are very similar. There are two seasons which mostly enjoy tropical weather. The yearly average temperture would be about 28 degrees. I would like to visit my family and go to the origin temple.

‘Pha That Luang’ is a gold covered, large Buddhist stupa in the middle of Vientiane. It’s the most important monument in Laos. I would recommend having a look at this beautiful gold temple.

‘Vang Vieng’ is a riverside town with guest houses, bars, restaurants, internet cafes and tour agencies, so whenever you just want to relax and have some delicious Lao food with a nice view this would be the place for you.

DURRES, ALBANIA

Lelet Lumani – In 2011 I travelled to Europe and of all the places I thought I would love the most – without trying to disrespect my homeland – Albania was last on my list.

In Albania there is a city called Durres and 15 years ago you wouldn’t be caught dead in this city because of the amount of crime and violence, but today, due to the government cleaning up the city, it is the second most visited city by tourists in Albania behind Vlora.

If you think during the day on the beautiful beach of Durres is good then the night life will absolutely rock your world. One of the night clubs in Durres is at the end of a pier in the middle of the ocean and the lights light up the sky at night.

What really shocked me about Durres was the amount of culture in the area, for example, I went into a restaurant and a Chinese man served me and before I was about to say hello in English he spoke to me in Albanian, so you could imagine the massive shock factor. The great thing was for the next week that I was in the country, he was my guide to all the famous places I wanted to see.

I also met a Zimbabwean man who spoke fluent Albanian but the real shock was how friendly and nice everyone was. In Albania I visited the cities of Durres (my favourite), Tirana which is the capital city of Albania, Vlora which is a resort city and Korce which is more a village then a city.

It was a holiday that I will never forget…

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GREECE

Zachary Boicoviti – I had travelled there before for family holidays, but when I was 18 (after I finished school) I went to my dream destination, Greece.

I lived there for over a year. I loved every minute of it, it is my happy place.

Every time I talk or think about it, I just get so happy about it. I lived in Athens for a few months then moved with family to a northern part of Greece. I enjoyed going to the cafes with family and friends, eating the food there – which was so good – and of course trying the famous souvlaki. I loved going clubbing at night and watching my favourite teams play soccer and basketball every week, it was just amazing.

I can’t compare the atmosphere to anything else, you just have to visit Greece to experience how passionate everyone is, its best thing ever and I would go back there in a heartbeat.

Going to the famous islands during the summer was amazing, especially going to the beautiful beaches and getting a European tan. The lifestyle is what I love. Unfortunately, it’s going through its toughest period, with debt facing the country right now which unfortunately forced me to come back. I wished I didn’t have to. I would recommend a holiday to Greece, you will have the best time of your life!

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MALDIVES

Wayne Herft – The Maldives is a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands in the Laccadive Sea south west of Sri Lanka, it’s surrounded by coral and crystal clear water. The islands are fringed with palm trees and soft sand. The temperature is perfect with an average temperature of 30.

I have had family and friends that have holiday in the Maldives. Their stories, description, and pictures are absolutely amazing. I have always been keen to visit, not only because of the beauty of the islands but the stunning coral and diverse sea life.

The Maldives is one of the best places in the world to see the largest extent of fish and the whale shark and manta rays. Snorkelling is a must. The Maldives is a peaceful escape from the harsh realities of the real world, it’s exotic remote location makes it pure and untouched and it looks like something from a James Bond movie.

As you can imagine there is a wide range of water sports available – windsurfing, para-sailing, water-skiing, catamaran sailing and banana-boating or even beach volleyball. You can also visit the National Museum, Palace or visit the city, go shopping and check out some of the local cuisine.

One of the main reasons I wish to visit The Maldives is because it is endangered, and could vanish in the future if sea levels continue to rise. We could be the last generation who will be able to visit these beautiful islands. I would like to take pictures and keep them for future generations to see.

YORK (UK)

Shonal Kumar – York is a medieval city in Northern England. It has rich culture and is very historic. Surrounding the city are 13th century walls which enclose the entire city along with its narrow cobbled stoned streets. In the heart of the city lies the York Minster which is one of the most beautiful Gothic Cathedrals in the world, built between 1200 and 1480. You can climb to the top and see the view over all of York.

It was built in the time of the Vikings and is filled with narrow streets, cobbled stoned roads and old underground dungeons that travellers can explore.

There are many things that you can do when visiting York, from exploring the rich history of the small town, to visiting quirky bars and cafes that are hidden in the narrow lane ways, such as Evil Eye Lounge which takes you into the colourful world of mysticism and travel and creates the most authentic food and drink experience. Betty’s cafe is famous for its high tea.

You can also visit the Jorvik Viking Centre which brings York Viking history to life. Also make a point to visit The Shambles which is filled with Tudor buildings that overhang so far that they meet above your head. The Shambles became even more famous when the Harry Potter movies based their ‘Diagon Alley’ on the area.

My favourite thing to do in York is to walk the York walls that surround the entire city. It takes one and a half to two hours to circle, and walking the walls gives you a whole new perspective of the city. I always started and finished at the Museum gardens which is full of ruins of old buildings which date back to the 1830’s and makes the garden much more unique, beautiful and relaxing after a long walk.

QUEENSLAND

Chelsea Miller – Home to The Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, Whitsunday Islands, Daintree Rainforest and the infamous cane toad, Queensland has a lot to offer if you’re looking for a cheap getaway. The Gold Coast is only an hour drive from Brisbane, and you’ll find Dreamworld, Movieworld, Wet n Wild and Sea World along with many beaches, cafes and restaurants.

Brisbane also offers island getaways such as Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island. Moreton Island (58 kms from Brisbane) is the third largest sand island in the world so it is perfect for 4WD and camping enthusiasts, or if you’re not interesting in roughing it in the outdoors, try Tangalooma resort. Moreton Island’s attractions include; the ship wrecks, dolphin feeding, scuba diving and if you’re there at the right time of year you’ll spot a lot of whales from the shore. It’s a great place for families

If you want a tropical paradise holiday, I highly suggest you give Northern Queensland a try – the landscape will leave you breathless. Surrounded by crystal clear water and rainforests there is plenty to do and see. The Whitsunday Islands rest in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and are made up of 74 islands giving you a huge choice of destinations. From Hamilton Island to Hayman Island, there’s something for everyone.

Queensland has so many things to love, especially the year-round sunshine. I love visiting Queensland, I lived there for about 10 years and I still haven’t seen all there is to see. I love the theme parks, the beaches, the country towns, the people, the sports, especially State of Origin. The laid back Queenslander life style also makes it a perfect holiday destination.

THE EUROPEAN VACATION

Jakub Mancewicz – We began our journey in Vietnam as a stopover from Melbourne on the way to Europe. My brother, Dad, and I had two days which we used to visit the capital city of Saigon. It’s a very humid and smoky type of city with a lot of markets to go shopping and with a wide range of tasty food. Next we caught a flight to Paris, France then another to Munich in Germany. As we arrived in Germany we hired a car – a Citron C5 to be precise. We visited a few countries, such as Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

The main attractions were old churches, beaches and great food. My family lives in Poland so we spent two weeks there with our cousins. We went clubbing, horse riding and spent quality time together. The most exciting part of the holiday was the time my cousin and I travelled to a local festival, we went on rides and tried all the traditional Polish food.

This trip was the best experience in my life and would love to do it all over again!

2 Comments

  1. Sarah

    April 29, 2015 at 9:05 am

    This is awesome Westsiders…I think your northern sister in Sydney might follow suit and compile a list of favourite holiday destinations!

    • Online editor

      April 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks Sarah – yes it was a fun exercise and hopefully a good read, though the cold weather in Melbourne makes it more necessary than it is for Sydney-siders!

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