Isle of Pines , New Caledonia (Ile Des Pins)

Isle of Pines (Ile Des Pins) is one of the many islands in the Pacific which is most known, name was. This is particularly true for those of us on the eastern seaboard of Australia in New Zealand. The Pacific Islands are to Queenslander’s what Mexico is for American’s. It does not take very long to get to, is still another country and is (or used to be), significantly cheaper than holidaying at home. It is know as ‘the Jewel of the Pacific’a and with its white ands, turquoise lagoons and the Araucaria soaring pine trees, the name is well deserved.

IMG_6942We had been due to go to the Isle of Pines second out of our three stops, but due to shocking weather at sea, they switched the ports around and so it was our last stop. We had slept like absolute babies the night before (I am now certain I am accustomed to being rocked slowly to sleep on a ship) and when we woke up from stillness (so strange when this happens, you become used to constant movement!), and drew the curtains back in excitement – the view was absolutely incredible!

The Isle of Pines is not just a whimsical name, it is pine-heaven and the soft breeze which was moving over the island, out across the ocean and softly onto our balcony was unbelievably inviting.

IMG_7000Luckily the group of people on this cruise in particular were slow-movers (or maybe just big drinkers!), so even though we were not the first off the ship (I am not sure either of us have ever failed to take advantage of a buffet breakfast 🙂 ), we were still only the second or third tender off of the ship.

There was pretty sketchy cloud coverage and raining on and off, so it was quite a cool day. We had really failed to plan at all, which was 100% a mistake. We figured we would be able to hire bikes on the island, or even a car – so we could head out to Oro Bay, for which the island is famous for. What we didn’t realise is that the cruise ship companies (to a degree) get the monopoly of the island activities and locations. So without paying for the incredibly overpriced day tour to the other side of the island, we weren’t able to get there.

IMG_7109What you do need to be prepared for travel-wise, is to totally let go of your expectations. What we had planned for the day was 1. Arrive at Isle of Pines. 2. Swim. 3. See Oro Bay and 4. Spend a loved up day together enjoying our last port for the trip. Now, it doesn’t matter where you come from – three out of four in any country is pretty good!

When we first got there, we walked as far as we could, making our own adventure – then we realised how happy we were so we headed back to the main section.After our failed search for a bike/bikes/car or any other mode of transport to try and get to the other side of the island, we decided to head back and ask one of the friendly locals if they could perhaps drive us across the island. We did get a two hour island tour for $25 each (not cheap but not nearly as expensive as what we would have paid for one of the organised! We had an hour and a half to wait for our tour so I think we spent that time, the very best anyone really could.

It involved exploring a completely isolated part of the beach, drinking a beer at the other end of the beach and then having a swim in the incredibly cold waters at another side of the island – where I basically koala’s onto my Husband for his body warmth and could barely move and then eating chips and gigantic sandwiches, which I managed to order in French (win!).

When our private tour departure time rolled around, it seemed our local driver had capitalised on the $25 per person fee and there were two other ladies from the cruise joining us (great!), but there were also four extremely inebriated people from the cruise (who had obviously been drinking heavily for the day) joining us. Seeing as they were obnoxious, culturally insensitive, and absolutely hammered – I won’t give them too much airtime. Safe to say they heavily impacted on the portions of the trip where we were stuck in the van with them.

IMG_7128Our driver explained to us that he was not able to take us to Pro Bay, as only the organised tours through the Cruise company were allowed there when a ship was in port, but he did take us to some amazing areas.

We visited Queen Hortense’s Cave, which involved a walk through a beautiful rainforest and gardens and the inside of the caves were absolutely amazing and the history of the local Queen who hid in these caves for several months during an intertribal conflict.

There were ruins and a cemetery belonging to the original French Penal Colony from the 1870’s at the Kuto Peninsular we were able to explore, which was really cool. Our driver also took us to the Mission Church and the Statue de St Maurice commemorating the arrival of the first missionaries.

It seemed like the quickest day stop ever and before we knew it, the weather had turned nd it was time to catch a tender back to the Pacific Explorer. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I am really thankful we were able to visit such a beautiful place. I highly recommend a stop or trip there if you ever get the chance!

Have you been to the South Pacific? How did you like it?

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

x C x

A Celebration of Women – International Women’s Day

 

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), and it is celebrated on 8 March every year commemorating the movement for women’s rights. First observed on 28 February in New York the year 1909, it was confirmed at the 1910 International Women’s Conference that 8 March would become an ‘International Women’s Day’.

Each year there is a different UN theme, this year it is The Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives. IWD is an official holiday in several parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Cambodia, China, Russia and Turkmenistan. Countries such as Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Chile celebrate the day, although it is not a public holiday.

team-motivation-teamwork-together-53958.jpegThis years campaign is heavily focussed on #PressforProgress – on global activism for equality for women – heavily fuelled by movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp (amongst others). The world is aiming for gender parity and shockingly, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings suggest that gender parity is over 200 years away!

#PressforProgress is a call for us all to motivate and unite each other, our friends and colleagues, our communities to act, think and be gender inclusive For more – read here.

There is no denying that the last year has been tumultuous in terms of the struggle for women’s rights. You only need to observe the inauguration of Donald Trump, the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the rise of #MeToo & #TimesUp campaigns to understand the significance of this years IWD.

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A little snapshot of the IWD which I have found really interesting is below:

  • In 1010, Clara Zetkin became the first person to table to idea of an International Women’s Day
  • Later in 1910, 100 women from 17 different countries gathered to formally establish IWD and in 1011 when this occurred, more than a million people rallied in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland for women’s voting rights
  • It was officially declared by the UN in 1975.

So why do we need to keep celebrating it now? Surely women’s rights have improved? Could this really be as prevalent as it was 108 years ago? The answer is yes. We continuously need to mark this event because although huge progress has been made, much more needs to be done.

pexels-photo-567633.jpegThe income of female workers worldwide is predicted to continue lagging behind males for another 70 years and it has also been suggested that the gender pay gap will not fully close until 2186.

One in three girls in the developing world is married off before her 18th birthday and more than 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation. Two thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female and only 7.8% countries in the world have a female head of government.

For me, being a feminist means respect and an aim for equality – at the core of it it is the struggle to end oppression. I am fortunate enough to live where I do, be in an equal and loving relationship and hold both a Degree and a well-paying job. In 10 countries, women are legally bound to obey their husbands and only 76 countries have legislation that directly targets domestic violence; with just 57 of them including sexual abuse.

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This year I have donated to the UN Women National Commission of Australia – Link is here.

  • $48 you can help provide food for a woman living in a shelter for a month.
  • $98 can deliver a young woman’s leadership program.
  • $156 can ensure women have access to legal services.
  • $456 can provide financial and literacy and business training for three women to create sustainable enterprises.
  • $873 can support a safe hour to protect women from domestic violence.

IMG_8750This International Women’s Day, let’s continue to empower each other and work together to ensure women are safe from violence and have choice and opportunity.

Happy International Women’s Day!What do you wish you could change for women in today’s world? I would like to see everyone in this world have access to mental health care.

Some of the beautiful ladies in my life, at my Hen’s Night ❤❤❤.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

x C x

A love for travel <3

One of the most amazing things to occur after you have been planning and saving for a trip after many months/years is when you arrive at your destination. You are no longer glued to that photo somebody else took and which you downloaded or screen-shotted many moons ago. You are there. Finally.

And you know what? Nothing is more beautiful than that moment. I say this a lot, but honestly the most breathtaking moment I have ever had whilst travelling was when I was in South America and I saw Machu Picchu. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for the fact that I am rarely without words, but Peru…Peru silenced me. I had planned the trip for almost two years with my girlfriend Jemma and to finally be there was just amazing.

The first time I knew I wanted to explore the world, I was not quite six years old. I had the most vivid dream. I was exploring waterfalls and caves with my Dad, I think we were in Africa or Asia (or whatever combination my brain had concocted at such a young age). When I was telling Dad about our adventure and he told me I had just been dreaming, I actually thought he was having me on. How could I have dreamt something so detailed? Also, how was I going to deal with the disappointment that I had not been there?

I became obsessed. I WAS going to travel the world. One day. When I was six we went on our first overseas family holiday, to Bali. I have really lovely memories of this trip. Catching the plane with my family, coming across people who neither spoke English or Anindilyakwa, as was spoken on Groote Eylandt where we lived. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my little life – so many beautiful things to see and smell and taste, people to meet. Amazing!

I came home with braids in my heart, a hundred new stories to tell the kids at school and a burning desire to travel. Being a mining brat, I had the ability to see a fair bit of the top end and east coast of Australia, because we typically moved every two years for Dad’s job. I used to pour over and harbour any travel articles I could get a hold of and I wished for a subscription to the National Geographic magazine for years and years.

Then puberty happened. High school. Jobs. Wagging School to go to the beach. Parties. The usual. Sure enough, by the time I was 17 I had planned my next big adventure, I was going to live in London and work in a pub, like nearly every third or fourth Aussie at the time. I went to uni instead.

Then I dreamed of teaching English in Japan, which then changed to working in a ski field in Canada, then back to possibly landing a job in the UK. Then I changed jobs, changed degrees and decided to travel on leave instead.

I must have planned three or four big trips which never came to fruition. I always had friends with the best of intentions, but when it came down to the crunch, they just were not willing to part with ever spare dollar to save it for a holiday. My friends didn’t want to wear the same clothes all year, miss out on parties and dye their own hair. Which was completely fine, my dreams didn’t need to be my friends dreams!

Eventually at 23 I decided to bite the bullet and just go away on my own. I had my sights set on South America. My Mum gave me a firm and resounding “NO” to her 23 year old daughter running off overseas on her own. So instead, at the pleading of Mum/Friends/Employer, I booked myself onto an arranged Contiki tour instead.

This would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, I met some amazing people, experienced the high of travel I had been seeking and knew that every sacrifice I had made in the past was worth it :).

I am pretty sure I would have had Dad over my shoulder (who had since passed), carrying me along my journey – remembering the five year old who animatedly “remembered” an international adventure all those years ago xx

When did you know you had fallen in love with travel?

x C x

Our 2018 European Adventure

Hello everyone!

First of all, a massive thank you to you all for your continued support and interest in my page. This page was started many years ago, as a form of a travel diary. A place to share my past adventures and connect with other like-minded bloggers.

In October of last year, I decided to start a separate instagram page Courtney Gaye Travels. This was my little space to share photographs and moments from my past travels. I am really pleased with the way it has gone. I have connected with some amazing people, found some incredible accounts and have had the amazing opportunity to find this incredible community of people with whom I have been able to seek inspiration from.

IMG_9206At the moment my page mostly shares older posts and photographs, however I am hoping this will continue to develop and to grow. I love sharing and connecting with others.

I am a proud Brisbane girl, I have lived here for over half my life and I cannot see myself living anywhere else. I was married on my beloved Brisbane River in 2016, work in the Brisbane CBD and try to spend as much time as possible exploring all that this beautiful city has to offer.

My Husband and I met when we were both away for a weekend, we took our first overseas trip together in 2014 and became engaged in New York City. We spent the first six months of our relationship findings pictures of places we wanted to explore and sending them to each other, slowly but surely building our bucket list.

This year we will be ticking off quite a few of these bucket list destinations, during our European adventure. I have decided that I would really like to share these adventures with everyone.

I hope to hear from you on this platform, or through instagram and even via email. I have a facebook page as well, if that is more to your liking. Either way, I am here to connect with people and I am so excited to see your journeys and learn from each and every one of you.

Thank you for your follow, see you out there :).

Courtney Gaye

x

A Taste of New Caledonia – our journey at Sea <3

Hi there! Welcome to February, can you believe it? This year is just whipping on past, faster than each year before – sometimes I worry that I will wake up at 60 wondering what happened to the last 30 years!

My last post was all about the beautiful Pacific Explorer, the P&O ship which carried us to New Caledonia last September. This little post is about the actual journey from Sydney through to Nouméa – our first island visit on our Taste of Caledonia 8-night tour.

I guess one of the main differences I have noticed in boarding at Circular Quay Passenger Terminal is the number of people there. Also the lack of people in matching shirts. I promise you, that is a huge thing here in Queensland!

The next difference was leaving Sydney heads – I had no idea it was going to be that rough venturing out into the open seas, but with the only comparison being the smooth Coral Sea when you leave Brisbane.

We were rocking and rollin’ pretty early on and the poor little tug-boat helping the Explorer out of Sydney heads. We were in for a rough night – thankfully we had a good room and although frowned upon, keeping the sliding door cracked open a little really assisted with the fresh air. Also ginger ale + Kwell tablets really helped.

Our first evening we spent checking the boat out, trying a cocktail in each of the bars and eating at the Waterfront Hotel. We also made our restaurant bookings for the week. The trick is to really prioritise making these bookings ahead of time, because the bookings can sell out and sometimes it can be really hard to get a table with just the two of you (or with your booking crowd).

I don’t want to sound like a snob or as though I don’t like meeting other people but in all of the times we have had share tables we haven’t had the best luck. We have been sat next to incredibly drunk people, people in thongs and singlets and wet togs (even though P&O advise you won’t be permitted into the restaurants unless you are dressed appropriately – this does not always occur). We have also been sat next to incredibly racist old people and then three girls which erupted into a full-on fight with one another. So….I am all for the table for just the two of us.

In terms of the restaurants we sampled in the first three days we tried the Waterfront Hotel (dinner, breakfast and lunch), we tried Luke’s (delicious burgers!), 400 Gradi (amazing pizza) and we had room service breakfast.

You can book packages before you get on the ship, such as sail-away champagne and strawberries, activities on-board, and room-service.

This was our first big holiday since our Honeymoon, so we really went all-out! We joined bingo, the waiting game, trivia and the stage shows. At the end of the day a cruise will always be what you make it. If you want to relax and lay by the pool and drink cocktails then you absolutely can, if you want to tick every activity off the list then you can. I think we are a good mix of the two and this was our third cruise and we have loved each and every one :).

Theme nights are always a lot of fun, you get to dress up, the ship is decorated and usually everyone gets involved. Our second night was back to school theme and rather than the standard school-girl, high school jock; I took my Gen-Y #basicb attitude and ordered us two matching shirts from redbubble.com.

We went with classic Mean Girls greatness and dressed as though we were members of the Northshore Mathletes. Unfortunately not too many people got the reference and I can guarantee they would have been a bigger hit in Brisbane. On the plus side, we (or I) wasn’t falling over in rough weather in a mini-school skirt at an age far-advancing appropriateness ;).

Our first morning we decided to use the gym facilities before we hit breakfast, the gym itself it pretty well-equiped and they also have a day-spa and exercise classes. Which I thought was really amazing.

Each night we had a plate of canapés brought to our room – this was something we had booked to spoil ourselves and since we booked ahead of the cruise – it wasn’t an out of pocket expense while we were on the ship.

Cruising is so much fun, I will always be an advocate for it when it comes to a relaxing trip away. It is cost-effective, everything is done for you and really when else is a 30 year old going to have the opportunity to smash some carrot cake and coffee and play trivia with some sassy pensioners?

Also – the most amazing thing about cruises, are the staff. Each and every member of the cruise ship staff will go above and beyond to make your holiday memorable and their smiles will light your day right up.

So please, please, please – use your manners, be gracious and tip. Just remember, they can be away from their homes and families for eight months at a time and a little bit of kindness and conversation goes along way!

x C x