Travels

When the snout leads the truffle pig to far away lands

Top 10 Best things to do in Caye Caulker, Belize

Top 10 Best things to do in Caye Caulker, Belize

I recently returned from a trip to Caye Caulker in Belize and it is safe to say that I absolutely loved it. It was paradise. So, if you find yourself in that idyllic part of the world then follow my guide below and you will be guaranteed to have a good time.

  1. Go Slow. That is the motto on Caye Caulker and you will see it plastered everywhere. This little island is located far, far away from anywhere and the perfect place to just relax and go slow.
  2. Strap on a snorkel or tank. Belize boasts some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. You can touch a shark, swim with a school of fish and admire endless coral through the crystal clear water.
  3. Drinks at the lazy lizard. Google Caye Caulker and you will see a million photos of the Lazy Lizard, it was enough to make me book a ticket and it didn’t disappoint. Yes, it is full of tourists, but what is better than dangling your feet in water, listening to music, being surrounded by happy party people while downing some pina coladas? Nothing!
  4. Eat a Fry Jack. A Fry Jack is the traditional breakfast dish and it is a fried tortilla stuffed with your choice of fillings and hot sauce if you’re brave enough.  The best place to do this is Errolyn’s House and the best combo is pulled chicken, cheese, beans and eggs. One of these suckers will only set you back a couple of bucks.
  5. Go to the movies.  The ‘Bondi Bar’ has a lovely little outdoor movie screen under the stars where you can sit back on a sun chair and enjoy copious amounts of popcorn and local beer.
  6. Eat lobster. Lobsters are as cheap as chips here and are served straight from the sea to your plate. The best places to enjoy a lobster is at Terry’s Grill and Fran’s Grill, both located on front street and cooked on a street-side coal BBQ.
  7. Fly over the blue hole. After many discussions with many divers, the consensus was diving in the blue hole (Belize’s most famous attraction) is not amazing, because it just looks like a lot of dark water when you’re there. So the best way to experience it is from the sky, which is actually cheaper than diving. The joy flight run by Tsunami Adventures and they takes you over not just the blue hole but give you a your of ship wrecks, private islands and coral as far as the eye can see. Plus the pilot is a legend!
  8. Beers at sunset. There is a jetty not too far away from Terry’s Grill, at the end of Hattie Street near the spit – it is quiet, peaceful and the best place to set up shop with a few Belikins (local beers) and watch the stunning sun set over the water.
  9. Talk to the locals. The beauty about this island is that it is so small that tourists and locals blend seamlessly. They are all friendly, relaxed and always blasting Bob Marley.
  10. Get on a bike. The island is flat and relatively small, perfect for cruising around on a cruiser. It is a great way to get your bearings of where everything is, including Chinatown (yes, there is even a Chinatown!).

How to get there:
If you’re visiting from Mexico, it is a 4 hour boat ride from Chatamal – get there an hour early as you will have to come from customs. There is also regular ferries from Belize City and access by plane but that will cost you a pretty penny.

Where to stay:
All accommodation is pretty basic. If you are going in the warmer months, definitely book somewhere with aircon. We stayed at the Stoned Crab Cabana, which is a basic, self-contained little hut in a great location.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Review: The Standard Hotel, New York

Review: The Standard Hotel, New York

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The hotel has become an icon itself thanks to its patchwork of glass towering into the sky enabling you to view inside peoples rooms and vice versa. And as I mentioned, it is positioned above the beloved high line and more than an arm’s distance from any other buildings (very rare for NYC). Views in every direction, no matter what floor you are on, a bonus because there is nothing worse than forking out a few hundred for a nice hotel to look onto a barron parking lot or a brick wall.

The Hotel is home to the uber exclusive club the Boom Boom Room, the popular German style beer garden and The Standard Bar and Grill, home to potentially the best burger I have ever tasted. And I don’t take such claims lightly.

Restaurants aside, the hotel is quintessentially New York. The rooms are small but trendy and boast views of the highline right underneath it, the Hudson River and the never ending city skyline of Manhattan. Centrally located with some of the city’s best shopping and dining right at your door.

  • Service: friendly, casual and helpful.
  • Room service: A good variety of options, served quickly and good quality. Watch out though, it’s expensive!
    Rooms: compact but functional – you want to be sure you’re comfortable with any others staying with you, there is zero bathroom privacy. On the plus side, you can wash your hair while admiring the city skyline and highland below.
    Amenity: A roof top gym, pool, free wifi, plenty of dining options – the hotel has everything you will need.
    Best for: a holiday or weekender for couples or friends – not ideal for the business traveller as there are no meeting rooms.
    Price: It is expensive given it is not a luxury hotel but worth the money if you have it for the views and experience alone.
  • Location: The meatpacking district is central making travel uptown, downtown and Brooklyn easy. Some of the restaurants best shopping and dining is right at your door.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Review: The Crown Metropol ….

Review: The Crown Metropol ….

Metropol

Southbank is a great alternative if your visiting Melborune to explore the city because you get to admire the views of the city and other Melbourne landmarks like Flinders Street station, the Yarra River and Federation Square from your room. Crown has plenty of hotel options in close proximity to their casino which is home to some of the biggest names in Australia’s restaurant scene (Rockpool, Spice Temple and Heston Blumenthal ‘s Fat Duck to open there soon).  The best thing about the Metropol is that it is brand spanking new as far as hotels go, so no feeling like you stepped back in time into a bad 80’s movie set here. The views are incredible, especially if you are awake for the sunrise and watching the hot air balloons descend over the CBD.

The service: Professional and friendly
The food:  Fantastic. Not just your normal room service here, you can order selected items from the resort’s restaurant menus and the breakfast buffet is -Off. The. Charts.
The rooms: Generous with space, open bathroom lay out with separate toilet and showers with an open large bath tub, a good variety of magazines and TV channels. Great modern design, natural light and comfortable interiors, definitely a room you want to spend a bit of time in.
Amenity: my favourite part of staying at the Metropol is doing early morning laps in their roof top pool with double height ceilings with views spanning across the city. The roof top bar and gym are also get the nod of approval from me – nothing better than working out and drinking on top of the world.
The Lobby: Huge, grand, modern and it features a stunning piece of colourful art I would love in my own home.
Best for: Work travel or Melbourne weekender.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Top 100 Best Things to do in New York

Top 100 Best Things to do in New York

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Just like the tacky tourist mugs and t-shirts say – I HEART NYC! After living there once (very briefly) and visiting many times, I never get sick of the city that never sleeps. Here is a list of 100 of the best things to do in the Big Apple (in no particular order) and a few what not to do’s:

1. Have a boozy brunch at Clinton Street Baking House

2. Have a day of eating at Eataly

3. Walk around the Guggenheim
4. Go ice skating at Rockefeller or Central Park
5. Go bowling at Brooklyn Bowl
6. Walk down Fifth Avenue
7. Watch (or play) street basketball at Riverside Park
8. Marvel at the art at the Met
9. Take a step back in time at the Natural History Museum
10. Walk the highline
11. Sit on your lap top at the Ace Hotel lobby
12. Catch the subway… you never know what will happen
13. Bar hop in the Lower East Side
14. Go to tranny bingo at Lips
15. Row a boat in Central Park
16. Go to Yankee Stadium and watch a game
17. Kayak on the Hudson River
18. Have high tea at the Plaza
19. Walk done Madison Avenue
20. Wonder through the Chelsea markets
21. Go shopping in the meat packing district
22. Have a cocktail at the Boom Boom room at sunset
23. Have a cheese burger at the Standard Grill
24. Have afternoon drinks at the Frying Pan boat bar
25. Go to the Chelsea Pier driving range
26. Get a chopper ride around Manhattan
27. Pick up a bargain at the Brooklyn flea market
28. Go op shopping in Brooklyn
29. Have a drink at the Wythe Hotel roof top bar
30. Wonder the cobble stone streets of West Village
31. See live comedy at the Comedy Cellar
32. Go to the top of the Rockafeller
33. See a Broadway show
34. Cycle around central park
35. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge
36. Have a picnic in Central Park
37. Gallery hop around Chelsea
38. Go shopping in Soho
39. Have lunch at the Boat House
40. Eat a gyro platter from the Halal guys
41. Get a massage at Okuyama Bodywork
42. Watch an outdoor movie at Bryant Park
43. Eat a slice of cheese pizza at Joe’s
44. Eat Mexican at La Esquina
45. Take a street art tour of Bushwick
46. Eat a rack of ribs at Dinosaur kitchen
47. Taste some beer at Brooklyn Brewery
48. Go to the big apple block party
49. Get drunk at a dive bar
50. Watch a game or concert at Madison Square garden
51. Volunteer at the Eagle Street Roof Top Farm
52. Go for a swim at the Equinox Printing Room roof top pool
53. Take a break and the Elevated Arce
54. Check out the old city hall subway station
55. Pay your respects at the 9/11 memorial
56. Drink beer at the movies at Nitehawk cinema
57. Eat a sandwich a pastrami at Katz Deli
58. Eat a cream cheese bagel at Murray’s bagels
59. Do sunset yoga in Fort Tryon Park
60. Eat dinner at Baltazar
61. Eat a burger at The Spotted Pig
62. Have lunch at ABC kitchen
63. Stay at The Standard Hotel
64. Admire The Frick collection at The Met
65. Explore the up and coming art scene in Dumbo
66. Drink at a college bar in Union Square
67. Go to a gay bar on Christopher Street
68. Eat dumpling’s at Ping’s Seafood, China Town
69. Eat tacos from the El Ray del Taco food truck
70. Grab a book and a coffee at Housing Works Book Store
71. Eat Sushi at Nobu
72. Spend the night at the Crosby Hotel
73. Have a coffee at Toby’s Estate
74. Go to the underground Apple store
75. Play on the giant key board at FAO Schwartz
76. Hit the d-floor at Brass Monkey
77. Eat meatballs at the meatball shop
78. Eat lunch at Pastsis
79. See a gig at terminal 5 or Radio City Music Hall
80. Go to MOMA
81. Buy designer fashion from a consignment store
82. Eat a cronut from Dominque Ansel Bakery
83. Make dumplings at Brooklyn Brainey’s cooking school
84. Take a Tribeca loft tour
85. Hail a yellow cab
86. Go to the Tenement Museum
87. Admire the view from 230 Fifth
88. Eat a cup cake from Mongolia Bakery
89. Take the aerial tram to Roosevelt Island
90. See jazz at the Village Vanguard
91. Eat a pretzel or hotdog off the street
92. Catch a train from Grand Central
93. Go on the roller coast at Coney Island
94. Admire the Statue of Liberty
95. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
96. Ride the Wall Street bull
97. Spend an afternoon drinking at Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
98. Walk the streets of Little Italy
99. People watch… anywhere!
100. Have a sleepless night in the city that never sleeps.

3 things NOT to do:

1.  Go to Time Square – It looks just like the photos, don’t waste your time
2. Go to Mid-town – boooooring
3. Ride the horses in central park – horses don’t belong in the CBD, don’t encourage it!

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

P.S Send me any I missed!

A Guide to Mudgee ….

A Guide to Mudgee ….

Only 3.5 hours from Sydney but many worlds away sits Mudgee, a small country town full of life and surprises. Yes of course it has Target Country and the main road is full of fast food, but there are many gourmet cafes, cosy bars and world class cellar doors to explore. Mudgee’s population might be small but the population are passionate about all the good things in life – food, wine and the great outdoors.

What to do:

Cycle

Mudgee is fairly flat and many of the best cellar doors are only a few kilometres away from each other. The distances are still a little too far to walk (unless you have the time and energy), but perfect for cycling. There is no bike hire unfortunately so it is BYO.

Hike

The Mudgee region is surrounded by national parks perfect for hiking but nothing beats the weir walk and long cave circuit for stunning views which will be approximately a two hour round trip.

Go to the markets

The Mudgee Farmer’s Markets are located in the picturesque grounds of St Marys Church every third Saturday of the month. There are up to 50 stallholders here with a range of food all of which have been grown, baked or smoked all within a 100 mile radius of the town.

Wine tours

There are plenty of nice people willing to take you on a personalised wine tour including Mudgee Wine Tours. Make sure you add these cellar doors to the list:

Cellar Doors

Logan Wines

Logan Wines is the perfect place to start or end your trip to Mudgee as it located a few kilometres out of town on the road to and from Sydney. The cellar door itself is stunning and has a huge glass façade making it perfect any time of year with views of rolling vine covered hills. Must try wine: Hannah Rose.

Lowe Family Wine Co.

Lowe Family Wine Co. is an institution in Mudgee and has been squeezing grapes since 1815. You can tell it is a family run business thanks to the warm hospitality and the welcoming cellar door. When the sun is shining there is no better place to be than in their garden. Must try wine: The sparking red.

Di Lusso Estate

Di Lusso Estate is more than a cellar door, it’s an adult’s playground and the perfect place to settle into an afternoon drinking and playing a game of bocce. Must try wine: Sangiovese
Cucina di Lusso on Urbanspoon

Where to eat:

The Butcher Shop Café
The Butcher Shop Café is unsurprisingly located in an old butcher shop dating back to 1875 but is now a modern, bustling café that does the best breakfast in town.
Butcher Shop Cafe on Urbanspoon

High Valley Wine & Cheese Co.
As the name suggests, this historic little cottage has been transformed into a delightful little haven of cheese and wine. Go here for breakfast, a lazy lunch or an afternoon grazing board filled with their hand made cheese. They will happily allow you taste them first.

Sajos:
Located in the heart of town Sajo’s is the perfect dinner spot before exploring Mudgee’s pub and bar scene. The menu is modern Australian and made from all local produce. There are set menu specials and a great list of local wines and cocktails.
Sajo's on Urbanspoon

Where to drink:

Mudgee Brewing Co.

Mudgee Brewing Co. not only make their own craft beers, they have a wine list full of local wines and a menu featuring tasty bar snacks made from local produce like the chilli and peanut chicken wings and fries lathered in bacon, mozzarella and ranch dressing. Wash them all down with a Mudgee Mud or a Pale Ale, both made in-house.
Mudgee Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Roth’s Wine Bar

Roth’s Wine Bar is a local watering hole as well as a hot spot for visitors. This is the perfect location for some atmosphere with live music playing every Friday and Saturday night.
Roth's Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

The Orient Hotel

The Orient Hotel is a must-visit, good old fashioned country pub. With live sport inside and plenty of outdoor dining, it is perfect for any occasion whether is a afternoon drink or a big night out on the country-town, there is always a bustling atmosphere at the “ori”.
Sajo's on Urbanspoon

Getting there:

Drive, from Sydney. It can feel like a slow drive at time so I suggest either leaving early or planning a lunch in the Blue Mountains en route.

Where to stay:

28 Rocky Waterhole Road is a lovely little self-contained cottage a few minutes out of down with unrivalled sun set views and a tennis court. Sleeps 4.
The Tannery is a quaint little guest house that epitomises country shabby chic located in the heart of town.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.