Chocolate Adventures and Reindeer Steaks

Today was a day for exploring Helsinki city…and to find the elusive reindeer steak we so desperately desired. After our prisoner’s breakfast at the hotel we set off on our way.

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Prison Hotels and Fortress Islands

If you’re up for an interesting yet quiet Easter Break, head to Helsinki in Finland. It’s not usually the tourist destination of choice for Easter because a) it’s still cold, very cold and b) almost everything is closed (because it’s Easter, surprise surprise). But you can stay in a converted prison, which is pretty cool!

Our cell, I mean room for the night
Our cell, I mean room for the night

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Wine is a Right of Passage

PASSAGE ROCK – WAIHEKE

It’s the last day of our Waiheke Island tour and I’ve developed a great feel for the place, early morning jogs along the beach, sunset walks, exploring beach-side and inland vineyards to compare the difference in the wine, dining on some of the most amazing fare and explored the amazing chocolate shops and dessert bars of mainland Auckland.

It was time for the last vineyard of our short stay, and we were not disappointed. Passage Rock Vineyard is in the south of the island, near Orapiu Bay.

The Passage Rock vineyard
The Passage Rock vineyard

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Chocolate and Wine is all You Need

With a surprisingly light hangover from the day before (once we returned from Man O’War we could’t resist opening some of the wine we’d purchased to take home with us – self restraint is hard with wine so good!) we began the day watching the sunrise from the balcony with a hearty breakfast before hopping across on the ferry to Auckland, for chocolate hunting…

Some sound chocolate advice from my Auckland adventures
Some sound chocolate advice from my Auckland adventures

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Free-fall to Chocolate

Our time up North had sadly come to an end, and despite eating more than my fill of avocado and all manner of fish dishes – recipes can be found soon in the recipe section on this blog – it was now time to head South. I had a skydive session booked, chocolates to eat, more friends to meet and an Island of Wine to explore. Heading south we pass the Kaori store, featuring a staircase carved from a giant hollowed out Kaori tree!

Sitting in a tree

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Happy New Year – Happy New Chocolate

Happy New Year :)
Happy New Year 🙂

MAKANA CONFECTIONS – KERIKERI

Having said our good bye to an awesome year and tided in an equally good one, with great company, it was now time to head north, even further north. Because of where Russell was situated, and the road we needed to reach, it was quickest to take the ferry back across (earlier on in the Coromandel we had decided dirt tracks were out of the question). A good tip off from our friends lead us to the most amazing chocolate shop and factory in Kerikeri – The Boutique Chocolate Factory, part of Makana Confections. This was essentially elevenses, having cooked an epic fry up storm for our hosts to try and cure our hangovers before we left. Continue reading “Happy New Year – Happy New Chocolate”

Road Trip to Russell

After a restful sleep in Tokoroa we were up at the crack of dawn, with the dew still fresh on the grass and a long drive ahead of us, we said our goodbyes and hit the road, to make a quick pit stop to fill up on gas, pies and coffee before the long journey ahead. It’s worth noting that here in New Zealand, service station pies (and coffee) are an art form, nothing like the ‘Wild Bean’ cafe’s you get at service stations in the UK with watery coffee and soggy pies, no, these pies are like gourmet pies and the coffee even features latte art!

Truly. Amazing. PIES!
Truly. Amazing. PIES!

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Silent City or Party Island

If, like me, you are one for a bit of spontaneity and a lover of winter sun, but heavily restricted on time AND money, then late October and November are the perfect time to get away to a tiny island in the Med!

malta.png
If you look really closely you can almost see it…almost

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Bring on Brussels

The hotel looked heaps grander on the internet than it was in real life, and the smell of stale cigarette smoke hung in the room, despite the fact I’d selected ‘non-smoking’. The decor looked like it had dropped straight out of a 1960’s Bond movie – plush sofas, curtains made of heavy fabrics and clashing colours – and I was expecting Mr Bond to walk straight through the door…but he didn’t!

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Despite the dated Bond-style decor, there was no Connery waiting in my hotel room… *sigh*

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Viva Colognia

Crazy Cologne:

29th JULY: The time had come to leave the Dam…for now. We were up bright and early for a very windy open top car ride down to Cologne. Now looking suitably windswept we checked into our next accommodation and made a beeline for the nearest restaurant, which just so happened to have the most amazing  leg of lamb and potatoes, before donning our ludicrous rave t-shirts and hitting the town.

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