Full day highlights of Chicago

Winters are brutal, but in the summer Chicago is one hell of a place to be with its lakefront beaches, host of activities and with its general buzzy sassy attitude.  I, from a personal point of view, had one of the best days of my life in Chicago because I managed to combine a cycle up the lakefront, the boat tour of the sites, a baseball game, concert and drinks.  Chicago in summer is raring to go and I’ve listed my top tips for an amazing day in the Tips section below

Rapid 2 week roadtrip around the US West Coast States

My favourite road trip – the contrasts of natural landscape along the way with snowy mountains, red / yellow deserts, and temperate rainforests; the tasters of the different culture snapshots of the US with conservative cowboys through to uber-liberal SoCal and Pacific North West; the sheer world-fame of some spots like Las Vegas, LA, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon; but more than anything – its a trip that is simply perfect for driving.  The distances involved, the way the US in particular is set up for the drivers and the scenery to take in in between the obvious highlights is just world-beating

It’s also a super high octane trip – 4200 miles / 6760km of driving – the sort of thing you rattle off in your 20s, when you have the energy, 2 weeks of vacation and are keen to see and do everything.  There’s something just so incredibly fun and fantastic about seeing one world-famous site one after the other in rapid succession – one day being in the likes of Yellowstone National Park, the next in Arches National Park, the next the Grand Canyon, the next Las Vegas, the next LA etc etc.  An exciting whirlwind that creates a feeling most will never forget . . . and in a way equally spoils / sets the bar incredibly high for any other trip

A bit rushed? – on the trip itself, we didn’t feel overly rushed.  Again, we had 2 weeks vacation and wanted to see as much of this part of the world as possible.  For example, I actually found a day / half day in each of the national parks perfect to do a basic walk, see the main attractions and get the feel for them.  But of course, it would have been nice to spend longer in each – perhaps take a 3 day hiking trip across one of them.  Or perhaps see some of the other pieces we of course missed along the way.  Ultimately, I always suggest avoiding the mass tourism standard experience on offer, and I shudder just thinking of trying to do this again, but in a part of the world that has world class sites one after the other, the gorging on them was great fun

A couple of days in Melbourne

Melbourne is consistently voted one of the most liveable cities in the world based on its arts scene, access to outstanding restaurants, outdoor lifestyle and, well, lack of many of the usual frustrations other large cities have.  But more than anything, it’s the vibe of the place that makes it stand out, especially in comparison with its natural rival Sydney.  Whilst Sydney has the big ticket world famous items like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Melbourne is more about the street cafes, chilled out lifestyle and sports scene.  So, to get the most out this wonderful city, its best to focus on these things for a couple of days


Its years since I lived in Melbourne, ,which also means there are fewer photos to share!  But my 5 biggest tips for 2 days:

  • #1 Sports – see if you can combine your visit with one of the major sporting events taking place as Melbourne really comes to life when these are in town.  Best ones are the Australian Tennis Open (January), the Melbourne Cup horse racing (March), Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix (usually March) and the Australian Rules Football at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) throughout the year.  Even if not a sports fan its a must
  • #2 Cafe culture – Melbourne is often called the most European of Australia’s cities and a large part of this comes from the street cafe culture.  The best places are always changing, but I’d suggest heading into Fitzroy as it has the added benefit of bring next to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens nearby.  Another option is Richmond, which can tie in nicely with a the end of a walk along the Yarra River and visiting the MCG
  • #3 Walk along the Yarra River – the city centre of Melbourne is actually quite beautiful and nothing brings it to life more than the walk along the river.  Start at Crowne Casino on the South Bank with the skyscrapers surrounding you and then walk east past the magnificent Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and onto the lovely gardens of Queen Victoria Gardens and Kings Domain.  From there walk over the Swan Street Bridge through Melbourne Park and finish at the MCG
  • #4 Chill out in St Kilda – whilst Melbourne may not have the wow beaches of Sydney, St Kilda is far cooler.  Give yourself an afternoon to chill by the beach and enjoy the neighbourhood
  • #5 Be prepared for extreme temperatures – Melbourne is often highlighted as a city that can have 4 seasons in a day.  Famous for its 40 Celsius / 104 Fahrenheit days of blistering heat, it can also be grey and rainy shortly after and, one the first day I arrived, it snowed
  • Extra tip – give yourself a day trip to the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s most famous driving routes, with its gorgeous coastline, rainforests with koalas housed in the trees, pretty seaside towns, and the eye catching 12 Apostles.  Only a 3 hours drive from Melbourne, part of which is taken up by the gorgeous drive along the coastline itself