travel tales of disaster accommodation

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We have recently decided to go to Scandinavia next year (YAY!) and for budgeting purposes had a quick look at accommodation prices.

*sigh* the fun of checking out places online and then reading about them on Tripadvisor. And then experiencing them for real.

Sometimes you get this:


And sometimes you don’t!

How many times is it all a LIE?

We roll our eyes when we read reviews from people complaining that there was no TV, that the bathroom didn’t have a bathtub, that the room didn’t have a view… blah blah blah…

Yes! Okay, so that might be annoying for some. And generally we are quite liberal with our accommodation. We accept basic and don’t expect luxury. We understand that some places don’t have this, that and the other. And we get what we pay for sometimes.


when it comes to cleanliness: that’s where we have to draw the line!

And then there are other places we stay where the memories will make us laugh purely due to how random they were!

This is NOT a post about naming and shaming hotels… we won’t do that. This post is more for us to collate our nightmare experiences…ones that we can laugh about now. But shocked, and at times, mortified us!

The one with the spiders 

As young, budget travellers on our first trip to Europe. We were away for 4 months and needed to make sure we stayed within budget. But we were so simply excited to visit Bath that we wanted to stay somewhere we thought would be half decent. And all we got were spiders. Let’s just say our experience with the staff left much to be desired BUT then to have to contend with spiders as well is a different ballgame altogether.

We were lying in bed one night talking when David calmly says, “Don’t move!” And when someone says that… well the natural reaction is to move first and ask why later! Next thing, you know there is a spider running across the sheet. Holy F&%$! And if you know Le, she cannot stand spiders!

There were webs throughout the whole hotel (and NO, it was not Halloween). Let’s just say when you see a footprint mark on the ceiling, you know someone used a shoe to squash something up there.

Courtesy of Neograf Forum thread (

The one with the hair everywhere

On a weekend away, in our nation’s capital, Canberra, we chose to stay at a big name chain hotel. They are usually quite reputable from our experience but this one… let’s just say, we would found the experience rather “hairy”. Getting ready for bed, Le has a habit of ripping back the sheets to check that there are no creepy crawlies in the bed (thanks to our experience in Bath). Luckily, there were no spiders… there was in fact HAIR everywhere. Not just a few strands but it was like someone had a haircut while sitting in the bed! Top to bottom hair was scattered on the bed. YUCK!

The one with dirt and mould everywhere

We were booked to stay at another hotel in Istanbul, but due to being overbooked, they pushed the overflow into another hotel, apparently “4-star”. More like 0.4 star. The staff were rude and dismissive to start. The rooms were tight, dark, dirty and mouldy. The bathroom was absolutely putrid… imagine “Fawlty Towers” in every way but worse and NOT funny!


The one where the toilet clogged

Anyone who has visited New York City knows that accommodation is not cheap and we were there for over a week. We chose one of the cheapest and most convenient places to stay… and well, much like our other tales, we were in for a bit of a shock. The first room they gave us was a small tiny little room, the second one they tried giving to us didn’t even exist (we walked around and around trying to find it to no avail), finally the third one they gave us was at least spacious and existed.

The toilet didn’t flush well and did this weird thing where it would fill to the top and then drain 5-10 minutes later.We just prayed each time that it would not overflow.


The one where we got robbed

We stayed at these serviced apartments in Barcelona, right on Las Ramblas. We ducked out for our last day in Barcelona. Upon our return, we started to get organised for our departure the following day, and noticed that a padlock was missing from one of our bags. So we turned the room upside down looking for it. We didn’t think anything more of it until we went to start packing and saw that our little case of gifts for family and friends back home was missing. Nothing was of immense value but it was just annoying that someone had broken in to steal souvenirs from us! And that was ALL they took, thank goodness!

The one where we were chased by bees

On the Greek Island of Ios, we stayed at a hotel with a lovely view. Except a lot of random things happened at that place and just to name a few memorable ones.

On our first morning in Ios, we went down to breakfast. It was a beautiful warm day, and we wanted to enjoy some sunshine and cereal. Next thing you know, we were being followed by a swarm of bees. They would not leave us alone no matter where we sat, so we were literally were chased out by the bees.


Courtesy of The Hob-bee Hive

The following morning, after a rather sleepless night, thanks to crazy young hooligans staying in the same place, we had a sleep-in. Mid-sleep, we had housekeeping come through. Yep, she came in and tried to be “invisible”, making no eye-contact, she hunched her shoulders to appear smaller, we think.  She mopped around the bed and cleaned the bathroom, all the while as we lay in bed. It was rather awkward. to say the least.

The one with the burnt toast

Staying in Malta, right by the waters, we had nothing to complain about this hotel. This experience is one we laugh at. At breakfast, we noticed that the toast was always burnt. Black toast every morning.  So on our final day, we thought we would ask for bread that was not as black, and clearly due to a lost-in-translation moment, the toast came out, and it was even more charred than we could ever imagine. It looked like a piece of black charcoal. Not a piece of bread in sight. We looked at each other as the waitress put it down, and burst into laughter.

Courtesy of Kindness Blog

The reality is with where we stay… its purpose is for us to shower and sleep. As long as we can do those comfortably and safely, we generally don’t mind where we are staying. 

Now it’s over to you. Share a bad accommodation experience with us… Make us feel better that it is not only us that gets all this craziness!

What has been your most horrible hotel experience? 





6 memorials that made an impact on us

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The world has had a tumultuous history. Along with all the beautiful landscapes, the amazing architectural feats, and incredible people and stories that have been… the world has had its fair share of heartache and heartbreak and gut wrenching stories of war and/or natural disasters. Memorials are sometimes set up to mark the lives lost. We always find these memorials very haunting and moving.

But memorials are not only for sad events, they also mark important people and events. In this post, we’ve rounded up the memorials that we have visited that made an impact on us. Not that any of the others were less notable or less important, we particularly wanted to share these 6.

And in no particular order,

1. The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, we’ve previously shared a photo essay of it and still get goosebumps thinking about this place. The information around its history is a little hazy but in essence it is a memorial to lives lost. The number of crosses erected in this place is unknown but is estimated to be around 100,000. We’ve never seen anywhere else quite like it.


2. The Memorial Cenotaph framing the peace flame and the A-Bomb Dome as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan. The park itself is dedicated to Hiroshima, the first city ever to suffer a nuclear attack, in memory of the victims.

The A-Bomb dome that you can see in the distance, is what remains of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. This building was at the centre of the where the bomb exploded. IMG_1111

3. In 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch in New Zealand, killing 185 people. This is a temporary art installation commemorating the lives lost on that February day. There was 185 different chairs painted white, each marking one of the lives lost.  IMG_1179

4. Seeing the one in Christchurch, reminded us immediately of the one we saw in Krakow, Poland. Thirty-three chairs on deportation site, each one representing the 1,000 Jewish victims of the Krakow Ghetto during World War II. IMG_1578

5. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, USA is something we had only ever seen in TV shows and movies. This statue is probably one of the most notable things that we wanted to see during our visit to DC and it certainly did not disappoint. Honouring the 16th President of the USA, it stands at about 5.8 meters. The walls inside the monument are inscribed with Lincoln’s inaugural speech and Gettysburg speech. IMG_3256

6. And possibly the most significant one for us as Australians was the Memorial by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli in Turkey.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
– Ataturk, 1934


What memorial have you visited that made an impact on you? 

lake tekapo in pictures

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The moment we drove up the highway and laid eyes on it… we were speechless! Water so blue, on a day where the sky was brilliantly blue. Sweeping mountainous backdrops. Yep…. no words can describe the sheer beauty.

And so, we won’t even try to use words…  We do hope however our favourite photos of Lake Tekapo can  do it some justice.

Lake Tekapo during the day: 

IMG_0107IMG_0094 IMG_0097 IMG_0153 IMG_0171 IMG_0191 IMG_0228Lake Tekapo at dusk:

Where have you been that has left you speechless?

We want to hear about a place you have been to where you were so overwhelmed with its beauty. Tell us here.

things we hated and loved about new zealand

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There are always plenty of things to love when travelling as well as things to like, things to be apathetic about and things to hate.

For example, living in Australia EVERY time we travel overseas, it usually involves a relatively long-flight. We HATE that…. The closest we can get to being in another country from Sydney is 3-hours away to New Zealand. But in the scheme of things it really is nothing.

New Zealand is teeming with so much goodness when it comes to travel, we don’t know why we haven’t been more often and sooner. Back in 2011, we did pay a flying visit to the North Island – what we saw was just a snippet. What we saw this time has definitely opened up our desire to go back.

The food so amazingly fresh, like this salmon dish we had right on a salmon farm. IMG_0791And to stay in a National Park and have this as our backyard (literally right outside our window). IMG_1074Is it too much to say, “we LOVE New Zealand”? But before we get to that, let’s talk about the things we hated…

What we hated

Actually, we didn’t hate much.

We hated only the sandflies. Everywhere we stopped, we felt like they would swarm towards us. They could smell our fresh “Aussie” meat.

Getting back into the car was a carefully planned operation in itself. Waving our arms around our bodies, while spinning around to ward them off before stealthy throwing opening the doors and sliding in… in the hope that we had lost them.

Nope… we failed miserably many times. Our ankles were mauled by these little pests. The bites would blister and itch like you can only imagine. We WERE going to show you pictures of our wounds but felt it was unfair to subject you to such images.

Score: Sand Flies 500 Le and David 0

What we loved

We could quite easily sum this up into ONE thing. New Zealand is beautiful… really beautiful!

We loved the scenery. It was ever changing. It was nature. It was pictereque. The fact, we could turn the corner and be graced with a gorgeous lake, mountain, valley.IMG_0228 IMG_0748 IMG_0901 IMG_0929 IMG_1050 IMG_0870

We probably don’t need to give any more reasons, but here a couple more.

We also loved the open roads. As you may have gathered, we love road trips… and we love trips where the destination is exciting but also where the journey itself with the pretty scenery flying by our windows. Open roads give such a sense of freedom! IMG_0274We loved that we could go bushwalking and not fear facing deadly snakes (or any other deadly animal for that matter) along the way. Instead, we were able to do plenty of bird-watching bird-spotting.

And most of all, we love that New Zealand is so close to us and that we can just hop on a flight and be there within 3 hours.

Have you been to New Zealand?

Tell us about your thoughts and experiences here.