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Showing posts with label Australasia. Show all posts

Hiking the Incredible Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Inside a crevasse on Franz Josef glacier

There's something beautiful about seeing mountains in winter, when the snow is fresh and thick, the skies are blue but the air has a bite. The cold seasons in New Zealand, and especially on the South Island, transform the rolling green landscapes we all know from those films into icing sugar-dusted peaks instead. I was told that 60% of hikes going up onto Franz Josef Glacier are cancelled due to poor weather, so as we drove to the area, my eyes were firmly on the skies.

My Three Favourite Brunch Spots in Melbourne, Australia

Hardware Societe brunch, Melbourne

Brunch has become a staple part of my social life at home in London, but the Australians really nailed it first. I'm not a smashed avo on toast cliché, but early mornings aren't my thing either so this new tradition means a lie-in followed by coffee and carbs, and the people of Melbourne sure do know how to start the day off right.

Travelling by Ferry Between New Zealand's North and South Islands

View of Marlborough Sounds from Cook Strait ferry, New Zealand

The day I boarded the ferry over to New Zealand's South Island, I wasn't feeling too pretty. A 6am departure meant getting up super early, but it also meant leaving behind beautiful Wellington - a city that I had shown some serious love the night before in the form of many, many gin and tonics. I don't know what it is about boats but they make me much more nervous than planes. A few weeks before I'd travelled on an overnight ferry from Tasmania to Melbourne and remembering those 11 hours of rough seas certainly didn't put my mind at ease.

Nine Amazing Foods to Try at Salamanca Market, Tasmania

Food bloggers at Salamanca Market

The incredible Salamanca Market in Tasmania is, without question, the best food experience I have ever had. To open a post with that line is one hell of a statement, but the variety of foods on offer meant we literally spent an entire day walking from one end of the market to the other with the aim of trying as many things as possible.

Why I Felt at Home in Wellington, New Zealand

View over Wellington, New Zealand

I absolutely adore New Zealand. The month I spent there flew by and I feel like I hardly even scratched the surface of what there is to explore. However, despite recommending it to anyone who will listen to me, I struggled to imagine myself living there. That is until I arrived in Wellington.

Five Places That Prove Hobart, Tasmania is a Food Lover's Paradise

Lamb sausage roll and pumpkin salad

I'd heard on the grapevine before arriving in Tasmania that Hobart is a bit of a unknown foodie gem, but nothing could have prepared me for the unbelievable food I had for almost every meal during my visit. I indulged in brunch, lunch, dinners and desserts that have seared themselves into my memory as some of my favourite meals ever, and if there's one thing that would make me travel back to Tasmania - it's the food. A full post on the incredible Salamanca Market is to come, but for now, here's the other places my stomach fell in love with:

The Nevis Swing, Queenstown (or, The Most Bloody Terrifying Thing I've Ever Done)

The world's biggest swing

By the time I reached Queenstown in New Zealand, I'd already spent three weeks in the country exploring various tiny towns as well as large cities. The country pulls in adventure tourists, promising adrenalin-rushing activities for wannabe thrillseekers, but to be honest, I was visiting for the stunning scenery more than anything else. Over my time there I had been caving, hiked on a glacier and been on many a boat trip, but the more I saw my fellow travellers indulge in increasingly crazy shit, the more I found myself wanting to try something too.

The Amazing Street Art of Melbourne, Australia

The Amazing Street Art of Melbourne

Melbourne is my spirit animal. It is a city that I fell in love with immediately when I first visited in 2014 for it's London-on-Sea vibes. The people have soul, the food has feeling and the streets are truly alive. No matter which suburb you're in, Melbourne's street art adorns every surface from walls to lamp posts.

Brunch at Fika Swedish Kitchen, Sydney

Swedish brunch in Sydney

My first trip to Manly, a suburb north of central Sydney, came on a day when the weather wasn't quite right. Both times I've visited Australia it's just so happened to fall at the end of summer, so it's a little too blustery for sunbathing but still too hot for any layers, which is a shame as Manly is known for its beautiful beaches.

The Most Beautiful Views on Tasmania's Great Eastern Drive

Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Tasmania is undoubtedly the place in the world that has taken me most by surprise. It comes under the radar of most tourists considering a holiday to Australia, and even a lot of natives haven't been there which is particularly strange when you realise how absolutely stunning the place is.

24 Hours on the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Otehei Bay, New Zealand

The day I landed in New Zealand, I wasn't in a great mood. I was alone in a country I'd never visited before, 11 hours ahead of everyone I know, tired and massively homesick. I had booked a quick trip to the Bay of Islands so I could experience a little bit more of the north of the country before heading south from Auckland, but I was in the shittiest of shit moods.

Three Reasons You Should Add Hobart, Tasmania to Your Australian Adventure

Hobart harbourside, Tasmania

When I arrived in Hobart, the capital of the Australian island of Tasmania, I literally had no idea what to do. We had a rough plan for a road trip along the eastern coast after a few days, but as we had time to kill in Hobart, we picked up every leaflet we could find the tiny airport arrivals lounge.

Three Places to Embrace Your Sweet Tooth in Sydney

Tella ball freakshakes from Foodcraft Espresso, Sydney

One of my overwhelming impressions of Sydney is how health conscious it is. Maybe it's because both times I've been I've stayed in Bondi which, although beautiful, has more places to eat avocado on rye than you can shake a stick at.

Cocktails at the Shangri La, Sydney

Sydney has one of the most recognised skylines in the world; the curves of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are the most well known tourist attractions in the city, if not the country. I was lucky enough to see these iconic structures every day as I traveled into work at the Sydney office, but the best way to see them is from above.

On the 36th floor of the Shangri La Hotel is Blu Bar, with the best views in the city and some not too shabby cocktails to boot. It's free to get up there but annoyingly you can't book a table up there, so you may have to wait for the tables with the picturesque view. In the meantime, you can wait at the bar and look over the west of Sydney instead, which isn't exactly bad. On the whole, I wasn't a huge fan of Sydney. I felt it was pretty soulless and suburban, lacking the culture and vibe I was expecting from such a metropolitan city. However, these views helped me warm to the place. As I looked over now familiar streets, I realised the city was starting to grow on me, I just had to give it a bit more time.

We managed to get a window seat overlooking the main sights just as the sun started to set, meaning we got to see Sydney transform from a beautiful Summer day into a dusky streetlight utopia and made it one of my favourite evenings in the city.

I'm wearing:
Jacket - Cotton On
Tee - Topshop
Necklace - Vintage

Sydney Mardi Gras

Conveniently for me aka the world's biggest fan of RuPaul's Drag Race, the southern hemisphere's biggest LGBT parade was held while I was in Sydney. Full of colour, dancing, countless innuendos and a LOT of bare skin, Mardi Gras is an essential night-out for Sydney residents of all ages. Families, friends, lovers - they all got together to line Oxford Street and up into Paddington, wave rainbow flags and high five as many men in speedos as they could. 

The people of the parade certainly didn't just stick to the planned route; they were throwing themselves into the crowd, hugging strangers and kissing frightened Japanese tourists. It was controlled insanity covered in glitter with a pretty fabulous soundtrack to back it up.

My favourite floats were the pink daleks proudly holding signs to 'Exterminate homophobia!', and the Proud Parents float, where parents of gay people held up signs to say how proud they are of their children. It was a bit of a tearjerker at times and gave me a bit of hope for humanity.

My top tips if you're planning to go down: get there early or take a milk crate to stand on so you have a good view, meet friends way beforehand before some of you get stuck on the other side of the road and the police don't let you cross, and wear something bright and colourful, you'll feel out of place if you don't embrace it!

I'm wearing:
Top - & Other Stories
Jacket - Cotton On
Necklace - Zara
Jeans - ASOS
Bag - Vintage

Australian Adventure: Sydney & Melbourne, Week 3

Week 3 saw the beginning of my actual holiday. No more office hours needed, so I planned to cram lot of stuff into my last few remaining days in Oz. Initially I'd hoped to go to the Gold Coast to visit my friend's in laws, but due to various reasons, I decided to spend my spare time in Melbourne, and I'm so glad I did! There will definitely be more written on this blog about Melbourne, but as I'm currently in Hong Kong on my last week of adventure, here is my third week summary.

Day 15: At last I had a weekend day in the glorious sunshine! Staying in Bondi and not being able to make the most of the beach was almost torture, but finally I had my way! I was joined on the beach by my best friend, her other half and another ex-Brit we know from home and we had a great day just sunbathing, swimming and eating. 

Day 16: I flew to Melbourne early in the morning and instantly fell in love with the city a) because it's so easy to get around and b) because I was upgraded to a bigger room for no extra cost! I stayed in St Kilda and spent the whole day exploring the area including the pier and promenade, Luna Park and the local botanical gardens. Later on I met with an old colleague who took me to an amazing bar in one of the laneways called Section 8, which was basically built from old crates and corregated iron. Not very waterproof, but luckily us and the fabulous live band, it didn't rain. 

Day 17: I headed to the laneways for breakfast then hit a few of the quirky independent shops on Degraves Street, Flinders Lane and the Block Arcade. I gave in temptation and bought a few bits, including some gifts for home. It's much cheaper and more varied than Sydney so I recommend it as the place to shop if you're on the east coast of Australia. My friend from Sydney came to stay with me and after lunch we walked through the city and found incredible street apart and an exhibition of typical household scenes made out of icing! We then walked over to Cooks Cottage before torrential rain hit us! When it cleared up that evening, we went to St Kilda pier to spot the little penguins that nest there every night before heading out to Chinta Blues for absolutely incredible Malaysian food. 

Day 18: We walked so far on this day! After breakfast in St Kilda, we walked to Chapel Street, the well known area for vintage shopping (or 'opp shops' as they're known in Australia). Once we'd made our way to the top, we walked through the stunning botanical gardens and stopped for lunch there. That led us to the imposing Shrine of Remembrance, with amazing views over the city. We then headed to the National Gallery of Victoria for some interactive art installations until it was closing time. We had dinner at the sublime Cumulus, and sat at the bar facing the kitchen so we could see all of our food being delicately prepared. The evening came in the form of rooftop drinks at Goldilocks with an old school friend and then late night cake buying to eat in bed in our pjs!

Day 19: After a great brunch at the organically focused Silo by Joost, we flew back to Sydney. Travelling took up most of our day and luckily we had Phoebe's other half to make us a great dinner and sneakily tell me that he planned to propose to her in just two days time. Let the panic commence!

Day 20: I SAW A KOALA BABY. That pretty much sums up the day at Taronga Zoo. It was stupidly hot but we had amazing views over to the Opera House and saw so many cute and cuddly animals. 

Day 21: The secret proposal! I had to make a panic trip to Bondi Junction to get a dress for the occasion and then spent a large part of my day doing the following: trying not to cry, making sure Phoebe ate and drank enough, persuading said friend to paint her nails, lying through my teeth. I'll keep the details of the proposal quiet, as that's their story to tell, but this photo is after I made a speech on behalf of all her friends and family in the UK. Emotional doesn't even sum it up and needless to say, she said yes!

Australian Adventure: Sydney, Week 2

My second week in Sydney was even more jam packed than the first.The weather improved and I got to experience some classic tourist situations as well as some hidden local gems. As with my last post, this is purely a summary of what I've been up to, but I will definitely be writing some more in depth posts on my favourite parts of this trip once I'm back at the end of the month.

Day 8: Thanks to the torrential rain there wasn't a great deal we could do, however I did get to Skype my mum and boyfriend which was well needed. We headed to an Italian restaurant called Da Mario where my friends knew the head chef. He treated us to some amazing dishes including a gorgeous tuna and some battered olives which even I liked (and ordinarily I HATE olives).

Day 9: The team I was working with in the Sydney office have been working with The Voice Australia on their latest sponsor for the new series and as a result we were invited to go and watch a filming! I got a great seat at the famous Fox Studios and watched a number of the battlerounds being filmed. The judges were Ricky Martin, Joel Madden, Kylie Minogue and Will.I.Am (the last one inducing quite an excited squeal from me when he came on stage!), so the calibre of celebs wasn't shabby. In fact, the talent of the contestants was extremely high too, so if you're in Australia definitely give it a go this year!

Day 10: After a day in the office we headed to the 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel to have cocktails with an incredible view. I'll definitley write more about this at another point, but the photo here gives you enough of an idea of how high up we were and why it was worth a visit. Afterwards we had dinner at a little place called Vini in the Surry Hills area of Sydney. It was a concept evening where all the food was based on the local ingredients and dishes of Puglia in Italy. Look out for more info on my meal here, but needless to say it was one of my favourite meals since I've been in Sydney!

Day 11: With a bit of a hangover from the cocktails and wine the night before, we jumped in the car and headed to the Blue Mountains which are about an hour out of Sydney. It was great to get into the countryside and see outside of the main city area. The little towns of Katoomba and Leura were full of curious vintage shops, cute cafes and beautiful views - I fell in love with them almost instantly. We rode the world's steepest railway and a cable car with a glass floor which I wasn't too much of a fan of as you can see!

Day 12: I was incredibly lucky to be invited to watch my best friend's wonderful other half at work, shooting a fashion story for Elle Australia at Sun Studios. Georges is an incredibly talented photographer and since I've been in Australia I've seen his photos everywhere from billboards to shop windows, so I feel very honoured to see him at work. I'm gutted I won't be able to watch him host The Face Australia (it hits screens two days after I leave!), but I will be frantically hunting for it online!

Day 13: My last day working in the Sydney office! The whole team over here is so friendly and have really made me feel welcome which is obviously highly appreciated when you're so far from home! I learnt so much from the way the company is run as it is very different to the UK (we're a team of 30 in a company of 300+, they are a team of 3 in a company of around 100!), and I definitely want to take that close feeling of a smaller agency back with me. They saw me off with lunch on a wonderful rooftop  overlooking Sydney Opera House - a view that never gets boring! (the obscene gesture was in response to a colleague sending me a message saying it was 18 degrees in London when it was 27 in Sydney!)

Day 14: I was so happy to drive a little way out of Sydney and head to Narrabeen Lakes to see an old family friend who moved out to Australia 10 years ago. My stepdad and Hannah's dad went to school together and we've known each other since we were about 5 years old. She now has a full Australian accent and has two abslolutely beautiful children, Charlie and Summer. It was so nice to see her after so many years and catch up!

Australian Adventure: Sydney, Week 1

I've seen and done so much in my short time in Sydney already, and there are some things that I've done that I want to dedicate more detailed blog posts to when I have time to write. However, for now, I'm just going to give a quick insight into each week I'm away as I'm so busy everyday, it seems a shame not to share it now in a quick bullet point format so I don't miss anything!

Day 1: Breakfast and a walk up Bondi beach, lunch of schnitzel at a German social club, walked from Bondi beach to Bronte beach before jet lag hit me at 8pm and I pretty much passed out!

Day 2: First day in the office and had lunch with an awesome view of Harbour Bridge. Took the ferry home from Circular Quay and had my first view of the world famous Sydney Opera House. Jet lag was threatening to take over again so my friend took me to for a swim in the sea at Bondi then a walk to Bronte. Before sleep hit we had an amazing Thai meal and I managed to make it to 9pm without falling asleep standing up. 

Day 3: I explored The Rocks on my lunch break and found a great chicken curry. My exploration took me to the Observatory Hill which was so beautiful in the sunshine and had another ace view of Harbour Bridge. I got the bus home which gave me my first glimpse of Central Sydney and the surrounding areas before heading to Hurricanes in Bondi for a stupid amount of ribs!

Day 4: More lunch time exploring led me to finding the steps up to where cars go to drive over the Harbour Bridge and I could see people climbing over it too. Later that day I went to a pub quiz in Bondi and met up with an old colleague who happened to be in town. There was an almighty thunderstorm which was amazing to watch over the sea, although was the beginning of a spate of rainy weather which has been annoying but I won't let it stop me from exploring!

Day 5: I got to leave the office early so I went to look further afield than the area the office is in and Bondi (where I'm staying). I finally got to get up close and personal with Sydney Opera House (which is surprisingly small) and then walk through the main city. We walked up the central shopping streets and stopped for tea before walking to Darling Harbour. From there we headed to Chinatown and I discovered Emperor's Puffs - 30¢ worth of yumminess! We then found the glamorous drag queens of Oxford Street (there are so many places in Sydney named after London places!) and the awesome GAYTMS produced in time for Mardi Gras. The day was wrapped up with a meal in Bronte with more expats from the UK and a well deserved glass of wine. 

Day 6: I headed to my work's social day in the afternoon which consisted of the weirdest team games ever. I strapped a pedometer to my head and shook it for a full minute while others tried to empty a box of tissues as quickly as possible. Don't ask! After a tiring week, we settled on getting an Indian takeaway and having a bit of a sleepover watching crap tv. Perfect. 

Day 7: The rain scuppered our original plans, but that meant we ended up at Black Star Pastry and sampled some of its famous watermelon cake as well as a chocolate cream eclair - not too shabby! We had a wander around an outlet shopping place (I got a fabulous leopard print kimono jacket which I'm wearing in the pic below) before having some surprisingly good Chinese food at Bondi Junction Westfield. That evening we headed into Central for the famous Sydney Mardi Gras - the biggest LGBT parade in the southern hempishere. I'll write more on this later, but needless to say it was bright, loud and very, very proud. 

As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review