Monday, December 9, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I received a complimentary subscription box to facilitate this review and an admin fee from Digital Parents collective. As always , all opinions expressed are purely my own and my taste tester kids.
Its that time of year when my kids love making their Christmas wish lists and everyone is asking me what the kids need or want. My kids have everything they need and I love suggesting experiences rather than material gifts. A sleepover at an Uncles, a day in the city with Nanny, a museum trip with an Aunty, that sort of thing. When I was asked by Digital Parents to review a RedBalloon experience, I jumped at the chance.
"Red Ballon was created with the aim to bring surprise and delight into the homes of people across Australia".
We received a beautiful red box at our doorstep to which the kids quickly grabbed and started to unwrap.
We got to sample Gourmet cookies from Pantry and Larder. This box was a sample of RedBalloon Market place monthly subscription. Treat yourself or gift these to a friend this holiday season.
Cooper swiped the molten chocolate cookie first......
Woody grabbed a spotty dotty. It could have fed three kids but he managed it all himself. He may have repeated the process the next day too. This time with the freckle face.
Peppers favourite was the Cranberry and white chocolate and I loved the Museli. They have a good range of gluten free too.
It was lovely to have some special treats to enjoy over the weekend with friends and family. It makes a great change from a magazine subscription too!
To receive $20 off when you spend $79 pr more on any experience or gift box visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the code REDBLOG14 until 30/06/14.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
These are the lessons I learnt over a week.
- It's really hard to say goodbye to your kids
- You cry a lot when you are leaving the country without your kids
- Within 24hrs I might have relaxed and forgotten about them.
- Flights without kids are boring but so easy.
- Flights with no kids are wonderfully selfish.
- 7 hours in KL LCCT terminal are easy to waste when you have access to a nice chair (me) and beer.(Andrew) for $30.
- Skyping your kids makes you sad again and the eldest angry.
- Japan is amazing.
- Japan travel from airport to City is what Melbourne needs
- Sleeping through the night for the first time in 9 years made me feel drunk.
- The first beer in 9 years also did the same. Lucky bike was my form of transport.
- I love riding a bike, but don't like going super fast without a helmet down a main road.
- I love bullet trains, I got so excited each time I saw one.
- I am adventurous with food
- Communication is all about gestures,pictures and pointing not about talking.
- I can walk for hours
- Andrew and I can have a conversation not about the kids.
- I love holding hands walking around a Botanical garden.
- I love any desert and will try anything sweet once!
- Worrying only about yourself for a week is easy.
- My sciatic nerve loved the timeout.
- My mind can take to me to places other than parenting.
- I needed this break so much
- I am so lucky to have parents willing to come close to death in order for their daughter to have timeout.
- I learnt my role as Mum is very hard sometimes but very rewarding when on my return the three kids hold me tight and don't want to let go, and neither do I.
People always want to know how much a holiday actually costs. I've had a few people ask about this trip and I was also really keen to see how it measured up.
Our last holiday was to Cambodia for three weeks with the five of us and it cost $5,000 in total. This one for a week was around $3,500 all up.
Japan was never really on my travel list as the price always scared me. Everyone would always say how expensive it was, how crowded it was which worried me as a family of five including a wheelchair user.
First up I booked our flight for October during an Airasia sale in June.
The flights cost $900 through AirAsia. Plus then you pay extra for baggage which for the four legs ( melb-kl-Tokyo return) added a extra $150 as we went with 20kgs one way then 30kg coming home. We also added some meals to our flights at $5 each. The flights were 8hrs and 7.5hrs.
Our JR pass for the trains was purchased in Australia through JTB. It cost $300 each which equalled a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto if you paid for it when you got there. We added on a return trip to Nara plus lots of JR rail trips around Kyoto and Tokyo. I think we would have saved around $120 between us. JTB in Melbourne were very professional and fantastic at communicating with me via email. Courier delivered pass within a day. ( $20 charge)
Catching the bullet train or Shinkansen was easy. We took our pass to the ticket window, reserved a seat then boarded the train. We got seats with ten minutes to go. There are unserved seats too but I liked the idea of a guaranteed seat. The main thing to remember with the pass is that you always have to go through the ticket window gate rather Thant he ticket turnstyles. We had normal class tickets and the seating was perfectly roomy.
Accommodation in Japan for two is easy to find. The hotels have very small rooms and our hotel for the first night in Shinagawa was $80. It was right opposite the train station. ( which was easy access from Haneda and to Kyoto by bullet train the next day) Tiny room, bathroom. The bed was way too hard but the balcony overlooking the station was nice. Staff were friendly on checkin and no breakfast was included. We stayed at the Tokyo Inn.
In Kyoto we had luxury. This room cost $270 a night but the bed was amazing, the room was huge and the bathroom had a full size bath, heated toilet seat and every toiletry you could need. This could easily fit our family of five. It was the Granvia, right at the train station. Wifi included. Buffet breakfast was included and it was hands down the best buffet we have had ever. It had so much choice in so many cuisines. Great quality and super organised service.
In Nara at the Matsumae ryokan it cost $150 a night plus $52 for dinner. Wifi in the lounge area. Fantastic service, so friendly and welcoming. Traditional Inn and a great way to experience Japan. There was a communal bath too and laundry if you wanted to use it.
Tokyo for our last three nights was $150 a night at the Sunroute plaza in Shinjuku. The rooms were quite small but the bed as super comfy. Breakfast was not included but heaps of options at the station or in the streets. They had a self service laundry for 300yen to wash and an hour of drying for 200yen. Wifi worked well and was included. Vending machines located near the lifts on each level with beer, scotch and soft drinks.
Meals as mentioned before ranged from 300yen to 5200 yen. Drinks were 120yen fro vending machines and a little more if you had a table at a cafe/restaurant.
The botanical gardens cost 200yen entry but everything else we accessed was free.
Robot show 2 for $50
I kept a keen eye out for access and I was actually really surprised. Hotel rooms would be the big issue but they do have accessible rooms available.
Public toilets always had an accessible one some with sensored seats, flushing, rails, sensor hand dryers.
Railway stations had lifts at all the ones we saw. They also had accessible marked carriages and priority seating.
I would really have to take Coop to do a thorough review but it wouldn't be out of the question like I initially had thought.
To and from the airport.
To and from the airport was so easy. Makes me cringe that Melbourne still hasn't added an airport rail service.
Haneda to Shinagawa was on he Keiku line. We landed at 1030pm and were on the train around 11pm with two more services to go. It was 400yen and not covered by the rail pass. We exchanged our rail pass the next day at Shinagawa.
Getting back to the airport we started at yoyogi station at around 8pm ( Sunday) ( during the week at 8pm the trains were incredibly packed) as it was an easy walk from the hotel and easier to navigate than Shinjuku. On the Yamote line we went to Hamamsatsco then changed to the monorail which is covered but the pass. The monorail takes you right up to the departure level at the airport, so easy.
Of course there are other costs incurred like Andrews 8kgs of vinyl and my stash of kawaii from the 100yen shop. Presents for the kids prob came in at $150.
Travel insurance - $160
Airport offsite car parking - $120
So there you have it! If anyone has any more questions just ask.
Street artist, Shinjuku.
Warning signs at Nara park.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Within the first morning of being in Japan I learnt and saw that Japanese food is way more than your Melbourne shopping mall sushi place. In fact I may not ever be able to eat a hand roll again after all we experience as real Japanese cuisine.
There is food for any budget. That goes for anything in Japan you can do it on a budget or everything on a luxurious level.
Train stations are a great place to get good cheap eats. Before we jumped on the bullet train we got this meal for 300yen at a 7/11. It tasted great.
It seems no matter what your budget the food is fresh, great tasting and presented perfectly.
Deer poo sweets 420yen but more hilarious than edible?
Choc dipped bananas on the street 300yen.
Duck in a small restaurant in Shinjuku 500yen.
We loved the food in Japan, it was always served beautifully and we discovered having little tastes of lots of different things is a wonderful way to eat.
While I was enjoying the calm of the Meiji shrine Andrew explored Tokyo in his own way.
Maybe one day Bron will let me guest star again. Cheers.