Some Special Things Along the Way

Itsukushima Shrine is located just outside of Hiroshima

Brett and I play to travel frugally during the Big Adventure. We plan to take free walking tours in the cities we visit, take advantage of free concerts, eat many of our meals in our Airbnb lodgings, and refrain from buying souvenirs (mainly due to luggage weight limits). We’re looking forward to shopping in local markets and checking out what the neighborhoods we’re staying in have to offer.

However, we are planning to splurge once in a while and take part in several special activities along the way. Some of these have been planned for a while, but recently we’ve found some others we’ve added to our itinerary:

A Buenos Aires culinary tour!

  • Culinary tour in Buenos Aires:This tour includes a visit to an outdoor market, empanada demonstration and tasting, and a four-course lunch with Argentinian wine pairings.
  • Cheese tasting in Paris: I am mad about cheese, and Airbnb has several tours available that we can book when we make our rental reservation – we just need to choose one!

    Bordeaux wine tasting

  • Wine tour (or two) in Bordeaux: We’ve seen two we like. One is a visit to wine shops in the city of Bordeaux, another takes us out to some chateaus in the region (there’s also one that’s done on electric bikes through the vineyards, which is also intriguing).
  • Wine tour in the Alsace region: We’re still researching this. Apparently it’s easy to rent a car for the day and do your own wine tour through the area, so that’s one option.
  • Overnight visit to Baden-Baden and the Black Forest: Located just a short distance from Strasbourg, this will allow us a quick glimpse of Germany.


  • Two day visit to Gimmelwald, Switzerland: Interlaken, Switzerland is a short train ride away from Strasbourg, and from there we can easily get up into the Alps for a couple of days.
  • Make-your-own pizza class in Florence: This is another affordable, fun Airbnb offering. We’ll each make an individual pizza and enjoy it with a glass of wine.


  • Personal guided tour in Siena: This is one place where we want some “depth” and feel that a personal guided tour will be the way to get it. There’s just too much to see and appreciate in Siena to do in a group in one day.
  • A Tuscany wine tour or two: We’re still researching this. Whether we do one or two will depend on the cost.
  • Three day, two-night visit to the Cinque Terre: Visiting the Cinque Terre has been on my bucket list for like, forever. We’re planning to take the train up to the furthest of the five villages, Monterosso, and then hike down to Vernazza for the first night’s stay in a B&B. From there we’ll hike to Manarola for our second night’s stay, with a stop along the way in Corniglia. On the third morning we’ll hike down to Riomaggiore and catch the train back to Florence.

    High tea in the Peninsula Hotel lobby

  • High tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong: Previous trips to Hong Kong have always been about shopping, but our visit this time is all about the food. Our hotel is located right next door to the Peninsula, and their fabulous high tea is on our bucket list. We’re also hoping to go to the Peninsula for their equally fabulous brunch one morning.
  • Visit Hong Kong Disneyland: Because we’re seniors, the cost for us to visit the park for a day is just $13 each. We figured at that price we have to go check it out.
  • Sydney seafood market tour and barbecue: Another fun activity from Airbnb, this outing includes a tour of Sydney’s giant seafood market where we’ll choose our own seafood, then walk it over to a nearby park where our guide will barbecue it for us, and serve with sides and Australian wine.

    Sydney Harbor from the water

  • Take a boat tour of Sydney Harbor: We’re still researching this, but it’s something we’d like to do.
  • Eight-day visit to Hiroshima and Kyoto: Brett has never been to Hiroshima, so we’ll head down there first for three days, and then ride the shinkansen (bullet train) back up to Kyoto for another five days before returning to Tokyo. We’re planning to buy two-week Japan Rail passes before we go – the cost for the pass is a considerable savings over a regular round-trip ticket on the shinkansen, plus we can use them around Tokyo until they expire.

    Excited to go here with the grandkids!

  • Two days at Tokyo Disneyland: We were planning to take our grandson here for his birthday, but our son suggested we do an overnight stay so we can visit both parks (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea). We’re going to do this when Meiling is visiting – she loves Disney!

We may or may not add some more activities, depending on time and cost, but the ones above give us lots to look forward to, and we’ve been having fun researching them as well as other things that might be interesting to do.

Here’s where my readers come in though – any other suggestions of things we should do outside of regular sightseeing? We’re open to just about any experience, short of extreme sports or skydiving. We don’t mind walking (although I have trouble walking down hills or down lots of stairs, which is going to make our Cinque Terre visit interesting).

19 thoughts on “Some Special Things Along the Way

  1. Jan says:

    Taking the ferry and then the double decker(used to be #6) from Central to Stanley Market in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong. Don’t take the express. Ride up top and open the window.
    We feel in love in Rothenburg Germany. We spent many hours drinking beer ( or new wine) on the plaza and enjoying the castle walls. We did it on motorcycle 🙂 when we were young. The Romantic Road/Black Forest is still on our”repeat it” bucket list.
    I admire your gumption. What a great adventure! WOOO HOOO!


    • Laura says:

      I have taken that ride over to Stanley Market – on the top of the bus at the front – it is wild! And, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Actually, we plan to go to to Stanley – not for the shopping this time, but because there was a restaurant there we loved, down by the water, and we’d like to eat there again if possible.

      We haven’t made any plans yet for our short trip to Germany other than we want to go. We have no idea what we can see and do there in a day or two. But, we really, really want to go!


  2. Snoskred says:

    Ok, I’ve got to be totally honest with you. The Sydney Fish Market thing is not something I would recommend. For some reason this has become A Thing To Visit thanks to tour groups and tour buses and it really isn’t something awesome in my opinion. Compared to all the things we have in Sydney, the fish market would be at the very bottom of my list especially when you only have a short time to visit. The fish market on Oahu is far, far better. 🙂

    Ours is a working fish market and most of the good stuff is gone very early in the morning, then what is left tends to be picked over by many tourists who are on group tours and this is one of the destinations on their group tour. At lunchtime it is crowded and the tourists can be very pushy and inconsiderate.

    If you want to do something unique and awesome and very Sydney, I am going to suggest the behind the scenes tour of the Opera House. There is nothing that screams Sydney more than the Opera House, and this tour is unique. It is more expensive than the fish market tour and is a very different thing to that, but it might be the very best tour Sydney has, especially if you enjoy the arts.

    If you don’t enjoy the arts, and you want an Aussie BBQ experience, don’t pay for a tour. Just head to the nearest supermarket, pick up some meat that appeals to you, grab a salad, and find one of the many many public bbqs. There are a lot of them.

    If you really must fish market, you want to be there when it opens and one of the better ways to do that is with the behind the scenes tour which does get to see the fish auctions.

    The best way to cruise the harbour is to take one of the public ferries, then find a good restaurant to eat. The harbour cruises with food tend to be not great food. :/ Though I have heard a lot about the riverboat postman which might be worth checking out.

    There is so much to see and do in Sydney I would not know where to begin, but for me the ultimate Sydney experience is to head down to Circular Quay, pop into Gateway and grab a Gelato Messina, and then walk around the area. The bridge is right there and it is imposing and enormous and incredible to see. You can visit the Pylon lookout –

    which is much more reasonably priced than the bridge climb, and you can walk over the bridge itself for free.

    Transport wise you will need to pick up an Opal card and load some money onto it if you want to catch trains and ferries and buses, if you are going to catch the train from the airport best to grab it there. 🙂


    • Laura says:

      Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all this information! We picked the fish market/barbecue because it had so many good reviews, but had no idea it was a tourist “thing.” The morning tour sounds more interesting actually, but I’m not known for being an early riser. And I really appreciate the information about the ferries versus some sort of dinner cruise, which we wanted to avoid. Will check out the riverboat postman, and the behind-the-scenes tour of the Opera House. That sounds more like something we would enjoy.

      There is not way on this earth that I would do a bridge climb there, and even a walk across might be more than I can handle (I am afraid of heights, and especially afraid of high bridges). Looking at the bridge from the Pylon Lookout sounds more like it for me.

      Again, thank you for such great information. We plan to be in Sydney for six days, and know there’s more to experience there than we will have time. You’ve given us some great ideas of things to look forward to. THANK YOU!


      • Vicky says:

        Think you have been given amazingly good advice for the Sydney segment by Snoks. I also have a fear of heights so it would be a cold day in hell before I did the Bridge Climb. However, I have found it to be a pleasant stroll across the bridge.

        Agree on the harbour dinner cruises. Whenever we are in Sydney nothing better than hopping on one of the ferries. We went over to Mosman last year and ate at Ripples Chowder Bay. Beautiful setting, food was good and reasonably priced by Australian standards I thought.


    • Laura says:

      Thanks HP! One of the big reasons we’ve been saving like crazy is so we can have these experiences. None of them is particularly expensive, and I’m so grateful for the small amount I got from my mom’s estate – it will cover the cost for most of these. She would approve!


  3. M'Shell says:

    Love hearing about all of the fun things you have planned in these cities! I’m especially interested to hear about Alsace. My Aunt traced our family’s heritage and almost everyone originated from that part of the world. I too, have always wanted to visit Cinque Terre after seeing pictures of the towns. It looks so beautiful! I’m sure all of the walking you are doing now will help you when walking between towns.


    • Laura says:

      I’m excited about wine tasting in the Alsace region because they tend more to white wines versus red, and I prefer white wine (have had allergic reactions to red). We don’t know yet whether we’ll sign up for a tour, or whether we’ll rent a car one day and drive around on our own.

      I hope the walking we’re doing now helps! I am a bit concerned about the hills and steps, but if we go slowly on the way down, I’ll be OK. We’re going to leave our big suitcases back in Florence, and make the trip with just our backpacks.


  4. Libby says:

    THE TRIP just sounds better and better!

    I spent quite a bit of time in Paris years ago and really enjoyed the tour of the sewers. Sounds gross I know, but it was fascinating. Don’t know if it is still offered. The catacomb tours sound interesting.

    One thing we have done when traveling is pick one food item and try to find “the best” in that location. For example, we tried to find the best gelato in Florence, which meant eating at least one serving every day during our visit ; )

    Best creme brulee in Hawaii, best almond croissant in Paris, etc.

    In HK I loved taking the tram to The Peak and walking the path at the top. We also took a day trip, on our own, to Lantau Island to see the big Buddha and visit Tai-O village. This was back in 1994 when the women of Tai-O would ferry you across a rope bridge. It was also long enough ago that the airport wasn’t on the island. Not sure how that has changed the location.

    There is so much to see in all the places you are going…an embarrassment of riches!


    • Laura says:

      The sewer tour does sound interesting! We’re going to be in Paris a week, so who knows?

      Brett and I are already in agreement about the best gelato in Florence! I am going to have to watch myself with the pastries and other baked goods in Paris (same for those custard tarts in Portugal), but I’m going to try as much as I can, at least sharing something I just have to try with Brett if I have to. I’m hoping all the walking we’ll be doing will offset the increase in carbs.

      One of our favorite places to go in Hong Kong was the Peak Cafe. It closed for a while, but is open again, so we’re planning to have dinner there one evening and walk the path, either before or after dinner depending on when we can get reservations. We’re also planning a day trip out to see the Big Buddha – in all our trips to HK we never went (shop, shop, shop!). The new airport is wonderful, BTW – the runways are so long and so there’s no heavy braking or powerful take-offs where you feel like you’re being slammed into your seat. Flying in and out of Kai Tak was always an experience, especially that last turn and then flying through the buildings.


  5. Libby says:

    Oh man – I so remember feeling like I could reach out of the airplane and pluck the laundry right off the window drying racks while landing at Kai Tak! NOT for the faint of heart 🙂

    I was lucky enough to live in HK for five months. I was in a furnished apartment on top of the old convention center in Wanchai overlooking the harbor. Heavenly. So much as changed though that I don’t think I have any more recommendations.

    The umbrella I purchased at The Peak Cafe just recently died after 24 years! I love practical souvenirs.


    • Laura says:

      I know right where you lived! Brett’s ships always came in at Fenwick Pier, and we sometimes stayed in Wanchai. You were not all that far from the old China Fleet Club (in Admiralty).

      My apron from the Peak Cafe recently gave up the ghost – I was sad to let it go. We still have one fridge magnet left though!


  6. bokolm says:

    Another Aussie commenter… Definitely take the ferries around Sydney harbour, the manly ferry is a lovely long journey for about aud$15 return and worth every penny. I’d save the money for a food safari tour (Google these) around to eat in one of the suburbs further out. Pick a cuisine you like. This is a great way to see less touristy parts of a very diverse city.


    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much for this information – I think the ferries are the way to go to view the harbor. Thanks too for the tip about the Manly Ferry. And now I am off to check out a food safari tour in Sydney – sounds just like something we’d love to do!


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