Meet the bloggers: Jeff Allen

We are extremely lucky here at GVSCO to have started working with the legendary explorer and Journeymen that is Jeff Allen. With his very unique skill set and passion for the outdoors Jeff strives to bring the nature and humanity back to its symbiotic relationship where by we can enjoy the beauty of the natural world but also respect it, view it and live with it in an educated and thoughtful manner.

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WHO IS JEFF ? 

Jeff is the founder of the International Sea Kayak Guide Association (ISKGA), which is a commercial guiding organisation, specialising in training and assessments of commercial sea kayak guides.

Jeff is also the founding director of several successful commercial sea kayaking businesses, specialising in tuition, guiding and expeditions by kayak/canoe, these businesses include Expedition Paddler, Sea Kayaking Cornwall Ltd and Gylly Adventures. In 2008, working with David Whiddon (Sea Survival Trainer RNLI) Jeff developed the first sea survival programme aimed specifically at the sea kayaking industry, this two day course has since been emulated by various organisations around the world in Canada the US and Europe and he is regularly consulted in areas of rescue, survival and incident management. Jeff is the technical advisor to the DGI, Denmark’s leading sea kayaking organisation as well as to various other sea kayaking businesses. He teaches and presents regularly at sea kayak symposia around the world Within the sea kayaking industry, Jeff is considered to be a technical expert in these fields and due to this recognition is also a regular contributor and columnist to the Ocean Paddler magazine.

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Jeff draws not only on his proffessional awards in training the service, awards which include the highest levels of proficiency and coaching of the British Canoe Union – but also on his experience, to date Jeff has accumulated more than 20,000 miles of practical expedition sea kayaking experience, including a classic first un-supported circumnavigation of Japan, the first British Circumnavigation of South Georgia, a combination Ski and Kayak circumnavigation of the Scandinavian Peninsular and a world record breaking speed circumnavigation of Ireland as well as many other personal and commercial expeditions to the Mediterranean, North & South America and Europe. He plans the logistics and itineraries for these expeditions which run in a variety of climates where temperatures have ranged from -20 (Winter in Northern Norway) to + 35/40 (Sub tropical Japan & Mexico) Celsius and has an understanding of the requirements for conducting small boat expeditions in a whole variety of environments.

So it is clear to see that the man and legend that is Jeff is a force to be admired and not to be messed with 🙂 . With such a broad skill set and huge vault of experience to draw upon is there anything that he can not do ? We are extremely excited and honoured to bring you these adventures as they unfold so keep your eyes out for Jeffs blogs ….. they are sure to make you rethink and get up and outside.

Please visit his website and get in contact he would love to hear from you:

http://expeditionpaddler.com

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Stay stoked

Gus

GVSCO

 

 

Our Long Weekend in Rome; Day 2 by Alec Warriner

On our second day in Rome we took upon ourselves to jump on a tour bus. There are now many choices for tours and from what we could gather they all covered pretty much the same stops, but what you don’t want is to get scalped for over priced tickets from an unsavory character in the street. So our tip is to head to Roma Termini, which is the main train / bus station in Rome as a lot of the tours start here and you can buy legitimate tickets from the tours themselves.

The tour we chose went as far out as the Vatican City which was our main goal for the day and as most do provided the luxury of being able to jump on and off at landmarks. The one thing I will say on this is be sure to plan when you want to get off and on as the stops do get very crowded and you could be waiting for several buses to come before you are allowed on.

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The first half of the tour took us around ancient Rome and having experienced most of this on foot the day before we stuck to our original plan stayed on until the Vatican City stop. This was of course perfectly enjoyable,as although it was mid Feb and slightly nippy the weather was clear blue skies and we could sit on the top deck and listen to audio talk us through the histories of Rome.

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Once we arrived at the Vatican City we hopped off and walked across St. Angelo Bridge. Built in 134 A.D the bridge gives access to Castel San’Angelo, a vast circular 2nd Century castle now used to house a collection of Renaissance furniture and paintings. But equally as interesting, Castel San’Angelo was the hiding place of Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome.

We walked with the crowds up to St. Peters square and not for the first time nor the last we were stunned by the architectural beauty of the buildings. We stood in the square and avoided the many people trying to persuade us to part with our cash and follow them to someone selling tickets to the Sistine Chapel. Another tip here guys is to try and be as early as possible if you want to visit the Sistine Chapel and purchase your tickets at licence vendors; there plenty many in the square. We chose not to go into the Chapel as the line which was HUGE, because we did not get there early ha.

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After walking back across St Angelo Bridge we caught the open topped bus for the second half of our tour of Rome and settled back into the romantic audio of our tour guide and historic Rome. Our next stop was the Spanish steps and by this time the afternoon was coming to end and a beautiful purple sunset was on its way.

Unfortunately the majority of the steps were closed to the public due to much need TCL, but we were able to walk down the right hand side of them. Even then the marble was spectacular looking and smooth enough to slide down, not advisable. As expected the Spanish Steps and the area around the baroque ship fountain at the foot of the steps was packed with tourists taking photos, which makes getting any personal photos quite difficult, but when in Rome you need to give it a go!

If you can be at the steps for the end of the day it is 100% worth it as the sun strikes the Trinita dei Monti, which is the 16th century church at the top of the steps and creates another amazing photo opportunity. Our photo of this was taken from the balcony of a wonderful little restaurant called Mariotti, which is directly to the right of the steps if you’re standing at the top.  We perched there for an hour or so drinking prosecco and red wine whilst the sun went down on our 2nd day.

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We ended our day with a wonderful evening walk through the streets to Trevi Fountain, which is a short walk from the steps and only took us 15/20mins after a few large glasses of wine. This for me was the most impressive moment of our trip, the fountain after dark is illuminated by underwater lighting creating a magical environment and stunning view of the statues grandeur. Once again the crowds are slightly too many, but be patient and get the all-important selfie with the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder into the water, making a wish!

To be continued…

Bristol Surf Film Festival 2016

Bristol Surf Film Festival 2015 from Alejandro Casado on Vimeo.

 

Bristol Surf Film Festival is set to be bigger and better than ever and we are really excited to be giving you a sneak look at what they have coming up.

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‘The Bristol Surf Film Festival is a celebration of surf film, surf culture and creativity in the UK’s south west. A day and night of international feature films, award winning shorts and home grown productions is accompanied by exhibiting brands and organizations that represent the core of grassroots surf culture in the UK.

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This year Spoke & Stringer join forces with Deus ex Machina to bring you the very best of Ride Culture.

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Films include the Premier of South to Sian from Deus, The Accord, Ababco and more to be announced!

Food & Drink will be provided by Spoke & Stringer & Friends with award winning Street Food and Beerd Brewery Craft Ales Tasting Stand

There will be a fully licenced bar (Cash only)

Music & Band listing – Coming Soon!’

(source)

Our Long Weekend in Rome: Day 1 by Alec Warriner

In February of this year we were lucky enough to spend a long weekend in the beautiful city of Rome, Italy. We’ve always wanted to travel to Italy and experience the ancient city, all the history and romance of Italian culture, so we took this opportunity to really try and experience as much of Rome as possible. Firstly we wanted to do all the classic tourist routes and spots, but equally as important to us was to try and get lost and find ourselves a Rome that you wouldn’t find on the page of Tourism Guide.

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After an easy flight from London we pitched up at our Airbnb which was located in the heart of historic Rome. This beautiful private flat in a classically kept gated community was a stones throw the ruins of the Roman Forum, which in turn meant that we were ideally placed to experience Ancient Rome and were exactly 400m from the Colosseum. We began by getting our bearings and decided to explore the area around us known as Rione X Campitelli. This area of Ancient Rome is home to some of Rome’s most famous and incredible buildings; walking just around the corner from our flat we were on top on the Roman Forum, which in its hay day was the centre of Rome’s government buildings, temples and a vibrant public area.  These astonishing ruins are something to behold, confusing as the geography has been somewhat lost amongst the remaining structures and the less durable remains. But what took us by surprise was the sheer size of these buildings, which was only surpassed by the realisation that they were hundreds of years old and were built and constructed by hand!

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A short walk from the Forum is the Piazza del Campidoglio, a stunning courtyard which is bordered by three equally stunning buildings which now house the Capitoline Museums. Walking down the Cordonata, grand stone steps, on the main road we arrived at the right hand side of the Piazza Venezia, home to the Vittoriano. This incredible marble building has many impressive attributes and stands proudly at the head of Via dei Fori Imperiali, or to you and I, the road that leads to the Colosseum. However, our favourite attribute of the Vittoriano had to be the Terrace of Chariots which stood at the back, which had giant iron horse drawn chariots at each end, lording over Rome like Roman gods!

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We then walked up to the Colosseum, which did not disappoint. I think the only way I can possibly do this amazing building justice is to simply say you have to see it for yourself! As we walked around the circumference of it, sadly it was closed for the day when we were there, our conversation bounced between Gladiators, Emperors and the splendour it would have been to see when fully constructed. Its easy to see how it is described as the worlds first stadium as it does rival many stadiums today.  The complete enormity of the Colosseum is breath taking, our eyes scanned every crack and every shade of stone oozing with history. Again our conversations came back to how on earth such a building was completed, by this stage we fancied ourselves quite the engineers so reckon we could figure it out, but in truth if you do look hard enough you can see the different stages and ages of which the Colosseum was built and birthed giving some indication as to how such a mammoth building has lasted so long.

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Our day ended with a lovely walk along to the Circus Maximus, which is now a vast open space where once stood a large stone and marble arena capable of seating over 250,000 people. This giant of an arena was where chariots racing took place and truly was a site. To this day the dirt sand track can be made out and walked on and opposite is Palatine Hill on which stands the ruins of a vast Roman palace and Rome’s second ever temple, Temple of Apollo.

To be continued…….

 

2016 Boardmasters Results

After an action packed weekend down at Boardmasters Alice Lemoigne and Edouard Delpero have come out victors. Although the conditions weren’t great and local hero Ben Skinner went out in the Quarter finals there was plenty of other great surfers to keep the packed beach occupied.

(Source)

MEN’S LONGBOARD (LQS1000) PRESENTED BY THE STABLE

 


WOMEN’S LONGBOARD (LQS1000) PRESENTED BY THE STABLE


 

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Final

WOMEN’S OPEN (QS1000)

Behind the Scenes: PWA World Cup  

We are extremely lucky here at GVSCO to be working closely with some of the words top athletes !! And Youp Schmit is no exception. High speed, big airs and an almost superhuman way of riding the wind Youp gives us a personal account of his PWA world cup……

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End of PWA World Cup Freestyle Fuerteventura! Another great year here in Fuerteventura full of wind, excitement, emotions, fun, and great action!

After many training sessions and giving it all to be on my top level of strength, endurance, overall condition, mobility/flexibility and etc. I’m feeling strong and fit physically and (due to no more injuries) mentally! Yet it was not my time to rise to the top of the rankings. After struggling through many injuries that were keeping me off the water, I am more then happy to say/feel not injured, and to be feeling stronger then ever on the water! And to be able to be stoked out on the water doing and pushing the crazy freestyle level. Finishing this event putting me on the 11th place overall of the PWA Freestyle World Tour ranking, I am not too stoked about the result but happy to be up there with the top freestyle level. 


Read all about my world Cup Fuerteventura story below …

I took off to Fuerteventura a little earlier then usual due to the great windsurfing conditions expected there every summer, for a Fuerte warm up and gear tune up for the PWA World Cup. I got there 8 days before the competition, and on the first day I was already enjoying the awesome windy conditions. Within a couple of days I tuned up all my sails and boards ready for competition and was training and preparing up hard for the contest. Big thanks to Rainer from ETM physiotherapy on Fuerteventura for letting me use his gym every morning for me to complete my last peaking point performance training preparing for the world cup. Next to training off the water to keep myself strong and injury-free, I was able to hit the water at least 2 to 3 sessions per day. I felt great on the water with my moves but the crazy canary island wind was blowing and flying me away a lot and I felt like I really had to get used to sailing on the water with my smaller sails again, and to be sailing is such strong winds. Everyday I felt improvement on the water and felt more and more ready, and could not wait for the competition to get started! After a whole week of training so hard on Fuerte, I took a good rest for my body to be at 100% for competition, as I knew there is a hard week of competition ahead of us with an crazy strong forecast of wind for the first days of competition. 

The PWA World Cup started off on the 22nd of july and the wind was ultimately strong! We did registration in the morning that day and started off with the single elimination freestyle in the afternoon. Wind was blowing over 40+ knots and we we’re all flying out there! 

First day started off and I was not finding my time in my heats, I still managed to pass my way through some heats but wanting much more from myself! I placed myself on the 9th place of the first single elimination and was ready to keep fighting my way up in the double elimination. As you have read my motivation was up high! And I could not wait for the next round to start off for me to keep going.. 

The double elimination got started the next day and the wind was still howling, personally I love the rough and strong conditions out there and I was feeling confident. I started off my first heat, and was flying around like I should, I was able to find some great ramps in the contest area, jumping around shifty’s, push loops, massive shaka’s and back loops to the outside and sailing a solid routine with consistent moves on the inside, putting down some mad routines. As I advanced my way though some heats I still felt like I was sailing a little sloppy in some heats and ended up losing against my fellow island friend from Bonaire. 

Losing that heat taking me out of the elimination was a big upset for me, but knowing more days and more eliminations are to come the motivation to win was only getting more & more! 

As the next day came the wind gave us a big surprise and completely dropped, sure we saw this forecasted but we did not expect the wind to be completely dead! Luckily later in the afternoon conditions we’re kicking in and we were able to start off our new single elimination, but due to the lack of wind we we’re only able to finish the first round on that day, hoping for better wind conditions the next day.

Next day of competition the wind kicked in perfectly in the morning but was still tricky to run a contest in. Wind conditions were just right on the edge to compete and we started off the heats. My heat started off and I was giving it all to win, my heat was very light wind but I didn’t mind and was feeling great and fit on the water. I was leading on the live scoring, but right on one of the the last minutes of the heat they decided to postpone the heat and wait for better wind conditions, but sadly we ended the day with no wind meaning no heats being finished. I was very upset with the wind due wanting to make up for my result, but all hopes up for the next day which was the last day of competitions for us for the wind to kick in for one more chance!

On the last day of competition the wind was again just right on the edge, we really tried our best to get some heats done on the water but the wind conditions we’re just not working out. I had seen it coming but yet I was still very down about not getting another chance. Finishing this event putting me on the 11th place overall of the PWA Freestyle World Tour ranking, I am not too stoked about the result but happy to be up there with the top freestyle level.

Further I was very stoked to see my fellow Bonairian friend Amado Vrieswijk on top! And not to just see Amado up there but also to see another young gun up there Yentel Caers! Further also a big congratz to Gollito Estredo for his great performance and consistently being up there in the top!

For me, Back to training as hard as I can in every way & every day to be in top condition to come back harder every time and to one day make it to the top!

All the best,

Youp Schmit.

Boardmasters – Here we come!

Tonight after a very long day at work we are grabbing our stuff and hitting the road down to Newquay. We are planning 5 days of surfing, watching the pro’s, seeing some great bands and probably a few craft beers along the way too!

After bypassing Boardmasters for a couple of years it seems to have fallen back in favour with the WSL and as you will see from the following, they seem pretty pumped to be back!

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The Boardmasters, Cornwall, a long-standing tradition of music and surfing festival in the U.K is coming back this summer, unfolding from August 10-14 at the iconic birthplace of England’s surfing, Fistral beach.

Re-appearing on the WSL schedules in 2015 after a two-year hiatus, the Boardmasters comes back even stronger this summer, adding a men and women’s QS1,000 divisions to the existing longboarding events.

“We are so stoked to see the return of World Surf League sanctioning across all disciplines of our event,” Andrew Topham, Boardmasters Festival Director said. “This really drives the level of surfing within the UK and will inspire the next generation of British surfers towards competing at the highest level. Since 1981, Boardmasters has always been the pinnacle of British surfing and this once again takes us to another level. We are really excited to see another huge crowd on the beach cheering some of the best surfing that will be witnessed on Cornish shores this year.”

A classic event amongst the European and international field of qualifying series campaigners, this event has been host to many of the current world’s best surfers and will once again be the center of attention come August.

“WSL is very pleased to be returning once again to the Boardmasters and it is great to see our involvement grow with the addition of a men’s and women’s QS event,” Rob Gunning, European Tour Manager said. “As we expand across Europe the Boardmasters is for us a key event as it is one of our longest running and most high profile events. The on-site activities, crowds plus the music festival make the Boardmasters very special. It will be great for not only International and visiting European surfers but also for the local Brits who will get a chance to compete on the international stage. The women’s QS event will be a first for the Boardmasters and it is fantastic to see women’s professional surfing included in the schedule.”

The venue: Fistral beach is a 750m stretch of white sand backed by steep dunes and overlooked by the Headland Hotel, an iconic landmark. Sitting just a short walk from the center of Newquay, Fistral is the most popular surfing location in the country, invaded by thousands of waves enthusiasts of all-level each summer.

When the sun sets and competition is called off, the Boardmasters Music Festival becomes the main attraction with national and international artists taking the various stages set overlooking Watergate Bay, just north of the town. With the festival extending over five full days from August 10-14, there’s a flurry of performances for music aficionados. For more information and an up-to-date list of headliners, head on to boardmasters.co.uk.

(source)

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Lisbon- The Forgotten City? By Caitlin Russell.

We love getting posts in from Caitlin as she has a fantastic passion for travel and a keen eye for some amazing pictures! This latest instalment follows Caitlin through Lisbon with her boyfriend Paul and was the first part of a 9 week journey spanning Europe and Indonesia!

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Our entire first day was lost to travelling and we didn’t arrive at our hotel – Residencial Mar dos Acores – until two o’clock this morning. The metro link is available from the airport and an unlimited 24 hour card costs only €6 each. We alighted the last train around 1.15am and it took us an absurd amount of time to find the hotel due to the lack of public wifi, thankfully when we did arrive our room was still waiting for us. With a 7.3 rating on Booking.com and one bathroom per floor which is shared between eight rooms, the €25 per night fee for us both seemed fair. It’s located a steep five minute walk from the Anjosnmetro station and is surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants. When we got there, the amenities were beyond what we had expected; immaculate kitchen stocked with beers and drinks for a fee, stunning mosaic interiors and a lift. The room itself, albeit compact, was spotless and included a sink, TV, air conditioning unit and a fan – both of which are necessary even at night. The bathrooms pleasantly surprised me, again immaculate and cleaned several times a day. After one night past, €25 seems like a steal.

From what I had read online, on WordPress as well as the Visit Lisbon website, I would be lying if I  told you I expected much from the Portuguese capital. Combined with the heat, how tired we were and the pending game against Poland this evening, I really thought today would have been lost to relaxing and watching football. Thankfully, for me at least, that was so far from the way the day unfolded, and I’m really glad our curiosity pushed us towards spending time in a lesser raved about location, because after only a few hours out in the beating sun we have both fallen for this beautiful city.

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We took the metro from Anjos to Rossio, the city’s main plaza in the Baica district. From there, we headed uphill through the narrow, pastel coloured streets. We had no plan, but our route allowed us to see so many glorious buildings. We followed the steep steps upwards to a higher plaza, from which we could see the city’s port. After deciding to head towards the water, distraction after distraction pulled us in all directions. Every street we passed  one of us found something intriguing; from intricately mosaiced walls to hidden churches, the rich pastel colours of the city are so attractive we couldn’t help but walk around with our necks craned, while I photographed everything my eyes met. Eventually, when we reached the water we sat at a waterfront restaurant and watched the world go by with a cold beer in our hands. Across the water, sailboats and cruise liners sales past and the vast red suspension bridge leading across to the historic Almada district stood stark against the bright blue sky and water. Behind it, a Christ the King statue stands tall, towering over the district and overlooking the rest of the city from across the water.

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From the harbour, we walked along the waterfront, through the Praça do Comércio and underneath the Rua Augusta Arch; the city’s trump gal arch, a vast Neoclassical monument flanked by Baroque buildings (which are very reminiscent of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna). Through the arch and much to my delight there was a wine festival taking place before the shopping district began. I tried local whites whilst Paul did some shopping before heading to the Elevador de Santa Justa, a tower with panoramic views of the city, but also with an extensive queue and so we decided to head further uphill to have an undisturbed and unrestricted view for ourselves.

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Without realising,  we had done a complete lap of the city on foot and found ourselves back at Rossio square almost three hours later. I took the opportunity to photograph what I had not already and afterwards we headed away from the square in the opposite direction from before, towards the  Cathedral and Castle. We climbed even steeper streets on this side, but there are teams, tacos and tuk tuks available if the walk isn’t for you. Pauls trying to catch up on my tan from Canada, so I think that’s why he has been so keen to walk so far. On this side, streets were beginning to be decorated with Portuguese flags and tinsel in the flags colours. Music played loudly from pubs and the smell of seafood bled out into the streets from the many homes and restaurants that lined the cobblestone streets. Once at the top I found the view I had been searching for all along; a sea of terracotta roofs and off-white walls, plastered against an uninterrupted blue sky. We found the Cathedral atop the hill, but the castle sadly evaded us, and we were too tired to look anymore.

I feel Lisbon is sadly overlooked in favour of the more popular European cities such as Barcelona or Rome, and I can say that because I too overlooked it. After visiting so many in Asia, I have a really great appreciation for European cities and am trying so much more to explore the world a little closer to home before venturing out across continents again. Lisbon was the perfect starting point for this new adventure of ours because of its relaxed atmosphere, the lack of need to rush to pack sights in and the proximity of sights from one to another. Without a map and any idea as to where we were or where we were going, in a few hours Paul and I seen the majority of the sights on the to see lists. I found it to be an incredible romantic city – something I don’t think I’ve ever said about anywhere on earth. The colourful buildings and sun constantly shining makes it near impossible to not stroll around with a smile on your face. I was so pleasantly surprised by the proximity of the water to the city centre, and the rich variety of architecture and sculpture across the city.

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I feel relaxed, which is odd to say after a day of walking around in the heat. In truth I feel really lucky to have spent time here, and I can’t wait to see what the Portuguese city of Porto has to offer over the next few days.

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You can see more from Caitlin and her travels here and follow her on Instagram here.

 

 

The secrets of Fremantle’s – TOP 5

Freo. Home to a thriving arts scene, independent retailers, creative thinkers and everyone else in between, all bound together by a humbling sense of community. I think it is fair to say that the 6 months i spent immersed in Freo life were some of the best I have had. As a traveller, Freo is the perfect place to stop and earn some coin for further travels, and the nearby airport in Perth is a spring board into Indonesia and we all know what that means…. Waves Waves Waves.

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I have put together a Top 5 list of things to do during your time in Fremantle. These are not your standard “TOP 5”, so you wont find these in your lonely planet books or travel guides, these are a some local sweet spots and hidden gems.

 

  1. Monument hill sunset

The old Fremantle docks make for a beautiful setting as the sun sinks into sea lighting up the sky giving you the most spectacular panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. With nothing between you and the east coast of Africa, it’s a must do, believe me.

 

  1. Holy smokes – Bourbon Bar

A very cool low key evening spot with good music and some outstanding bar snacks, be sure to try the jerky and the scratchings!. And of course their drinks are sublime, Holy Smokes boasts a massive range of high quality Bourbons so you’ll be sure to find a new favourite.

 

  1. Surfing the cove

All the way up the west coast of Australia there are world famous surf breaks. But if you are short of time, then the best surf break in the local area is a spot in Cottesloe called the cove. A right hand reef break, with easy accessibility from the car park, its a low hassle way to get wet and get your fix.

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  1. Coffee – Jack And The Bean

Coffee, not something that is hard to come by in Fremantle and a lot of places do great coffee. However the coffee at Jack and the Bean topped with they exceptional service made it the go to spot. Start your day right and grab a brew from Jackie and the team.

  1. Sunset markets – south beach

If you are in Freo during the summer you have to get yourself down to the sunset markets, this is the pinnacle of the Fremantle’s community spirit. Friends and families getting together, hanging out with some beers and amazing food, all prepared by local foodies who  delectable wholesome grub goes great with the beat of local musicians. Again a must do.

 

Thanks Fremantle, Stay stoked

Gus Warriner

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