The second Disney park that I visited in Tokyo after Disneyland was DisneySea – a place with Venetian canals and gondolas, Florentine bridges, Tuscan facades and New York-style shopping streets. A place where travel-loving adults can relive their own holiday moments gone by while their children can only dream to one day visit the actual cities depicted, getting more and more inspired with each step. For me DisneySea was an experience unlike any other, as I was transported back to my own memories of once being a tourist in Italy and the US.
I was so impressed with the attention to detail that went into each and every aspect of these replica cities. I’ve never been so blown away by a themepark before in my life! Stepping foot into Morocco with their various market streets, colourful tiles and Arabic architecture was so amazing, as I’m yet to visit Africa or the Middle East.
I’m not much of a thrill-seeker so I didn’t go on many daredevil rides, but there were plenty of those there too, and visitors could pose with their favourite Disney characters just like in Disneyland.
DisneySea left me wanting more. It ignited my imagination and sense of adventure in the world we live. There was absolutely nothing that I would change or do differently, I just wish I could spent one more hour there looking at the replica of the Titanic and entering more boutiques and restaurants. For now, it’ll just have to wait until my next visit.
Leaving the wonderful world of Disney on the monorail with a lighter wallet but a much happier heart.
Earlier this year, during a 12-day holiday in Japan, I was lucky enough to visit both Disney themeparks in Tokyo – Disneyland and DisneySea. Thinking back on those days brings me such joy as the “Happiest place on earth” certainly exceeded all my expectations. Both adults and children alike had smiles on their faces as they ran to queue up for certain attractions, eat at themed restaurants and shop at some of the cutest boutiques in the world. From the moment I stepped foot inside Tokyo’s wonderland of Disney magic, I knew I would have the time of my life.
One of the first sights I saw was this cute Disney Resort Line monorail taking visitors from Disneyland to DisneySea and all around. Inside the carriages it’s really cute too, with Mickey Mouse shaped views and handles to hold on to!
This is the very beautiful Disneyland Hotel for those lucky enough to stay overnight at Disneyland! Even their rooms have been designed with certain Disney characters in mind and the hotel is lavish from top to bottom.
There were many shops selling everything from plush toys to confectionery, and stationery to cosmetics. Everything had the irresistible Disney feel to it and it certainly was hard to resist the urge to buy most of the things on sale! Bring a bigger suitcase with you if you can!
I absolutely loved the different areas of the Park. There’s Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown and Tomorrowland. Each in its own is an unforgettable experience!
The Mark Twain Riverboat cruise was one of my favourite experiences because it transported me back to my memories of summer in the US last year in the charming city of Wilmington, NC.
Seeing the majestic Disney castle with your very eyes is absolutely incredible. So much planning and designing went into each and every element of both Disney Parks, and the attention to detail is just phenomenal.
When I was there it was all setup for Easter and checking their website today it looks like they’ve decorated for Halloween!
Honestly the whole experience was amazing and I highly recommend visiting magical Disneyland Tokyo for yourself. In a future post, I’ll make sure to cover the equally impressive DisneySea Park!
If I could have it my way I would never stop travelling. Being a 19-year-old student on exchange in Germany really ignited this passion I have for discovering new countries and experiencing different cultures. I cannot be more thankful for having had that opportunity in my youth. Now, eight years on I decided to capture some snapshots of the sort of travel souvenirs I brought back home with me and have created a physical photobook of these and more.
I always try to buy a magnet from the cities I visit and now the fridge is decorated in colourful little fragments of my adventures abroad. I always try to send a postcard home also as there’s something really satisfying about finding an old postcard from a beautiful city you’ve visited years ago, with your handwriting on the back describing that place and a nostalgic stamp in the corner. I love snail-mail!
For this post I’d like to share with you some of the things I have bought from various countries that I’ve visited. Please feel free to leave comments about the sort of things you like to bring back from your holidays.
Dutch Clogs – Amsterdam
I remember the day perfectly. It was February of 2009 and it had just started to snow on the canal-lined streets of the Dutch capital. I was walking along a street that led straight to the main train station when I saw this large souvenir shop. It was every tourist’s haven! I picked up these symbols of Holland to always remember my visit by. They’re only miniature as actual clogs would never have fit in my suitcase after 8 months of life abroad!
Mainzelmännchen from Germany
The city where I studied on exchange was Mainz and I couldn’t come home without the symbol of this charming city on the Rhein – Mainzelmännchen. They are the symbol of the ZDF broadcasting company located in Mainz. I’ve got my extra Euro coins in there now!
Mozart Figurine – Salzburg
I was in Salzburg on a day-trip from Munich. It was winter so it was dark by around 4pm. I remember being so scared about being all alone in a foreign city as night fell but still had some time before my train departed back to Germany. I found this tiny shop to kill time at and couldn’t resist buying the symbol of Salzburg in his birthplace, just a 5-minute walk from the building he lived in. This small figurine of Mozart is one of my favourite souvenirs to date.
I remember being in such a hurry that day because I was confined by time to get on my booked train back to Pisa, where I’d be staying. I probably spent about 2 hours in Portofino altogether but every single second was worth it. This place was a dream come true and an adventure I’ll never forget. I entered a small gift shop in the main square, where all the buildings are colourful and the millionaire yachts dock, and bought this shell necklace to wear and think about my whirlwind trip to this beautiful part of Italy.
Adorable Doll – Prague
My first trip out of Germany was to the beautiful Czech capital, Prague. I had always wanted to go there and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I found this beautiful doll in a gift shop just behind the castle on the hill of Old Town. Prague was magical to me.
Venetian Mask – Italy
The memory I have about this mask is that after buying it, dad and I went on a photoshoot around Venice with me wearing the mask and posing in all sorts of silly ways. This was one of my big purchases and even though it cracked a little on the way to Melbourne, I’m so glad to own it.
Collections from the French Riviera
My dad, sister and I were holidaying in the south of France back in the summer of 2012. When I saw the notebook with the three roosters arguing I just knew I had to buy it. We didn’t argue with each other, mind you, but we all had different plans for our 10-day stay. The little lavender doll I bought in the perfume capital of Grasse when I visited there all by myself and the mini duck statuette was from a beautiful homewares shop in sunny Cannes. Until this day I have no idea what it actually says on it in French!
Candy Box – Barcelona
I spent many amazing days in Barcelona and have since longed to go back pretty much on a daily basis! I bought this candy box from the Sagrada Familia gift shop after having just been inside what can only be described as one of the most awe-inspiring interiors of my life. The candies were absolutely delicious too and I wish I could have written down their name before devouring them in front of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.
Guardian Angel – London
When I travelled back to Europe in 2011 to live in London for two years I never thought I’d miss home as much as I did. I found this precious angel at a Wilkinson’s in Watford, where I lived, and sent it home to Mum during Christmas time. My family hung it up on the tree. Nowadays, we always bring her out during the holidays, hang her on our tree and I get emotional every time I look at her because in this small figurine lies a story. My travel story.
These last few months have been really cold and miserable here in Melbourne and we’re not completely immersed in spring weather just yet. However, during one beautiful sunny day I felt the urge to hire a bicycle and ride along the empty cycling lanes of Port Melbourne, with the sea breeze in my hair. Why? Just for fun!
Melbourne’s Bike Share system has been around for a few years now and is much like the concept in other cities of the world like London and Paris. There are daily, weekly and yearly options available with the cheapest one starting at just $3.00, including unlimited 30-minute trips in 24 hours. You can dock your bike at any bike station and the timer automatically resets, allowing you to hire another bike should you want to. Many bikes now come with free helmets, allowing riders to abide by the law.
Port Melbourne is a great place for foodies, tourists and lovers of the sea. It’s from here that the Spirit of Tasmania makes her voyage across Bass Strait to Tasmania. The architecture of the streets have a little bit of a European charm and there’s plenty of shopping and restaurants to keep everyone happy.
For me, there is something extremely liberating about riding by the beach, looking over at the horizon and the perfectly floating clouds above. It’s something I long to do as often as possible and I never think of it as exercise, rather living a healthy lifestyle and smiling the whole time I pedal.
With everything happening in Britain right now with the “Brexit” and the fragile social, political and economic situation in the UK, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life there. I lived in Watford, Hertfordshire for 23 months in my early twenties and practically regard the UK as my second home.
In this post I urge you to leave all your troubles behind, pour yourself a cup of tea (or as we say in Australia a “cuppa”) and let me introduce you to a few of my favourite places and memories in my beloved UK.
Bath and I crossed paths at the very beginning of my time in the UK after I found a travel brochure offering tours to every imaginable tourist attraction in the country. Naturally I was drawn to Stonehenge, one of the seven wonders of the world, and thankfully Bath and Salisbury were included on the tour. There’s a certain charm and beauty to this UNESCO World Heritage Site that photography alone cannot convey. You have to actually walk the streets lined with 18th-century Georgian architecture to truly understand Bath. My top recommendations for architecture lovers are the unmissable Crescent and Circus – residences arranged in a grand semi-circle and circular layout that will leave you breathless.
The main attraction in Bath is the stunning natural hot spring bathhouse of the original Roman Baths, where steam rises from the sage-green pool of water before your very eyes. Bath is a bustling yet peaceful town that can easily be explored on foot and at times you will even feel like you’ve walked straight out of a Jane Austen novel. Let’s just say, one visit to beautiful Bath was not enough for me.
I was picking up a Gumtree purchase for my shop in this quaint town of Surrey, known as Shere. This picture-perfect place left a great impression on me and the surrounding countryside views were some of the best I had seen in the UK. Luckily, I can re-live my time in Shere by watching Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law in the romantic comedy The Holiday (2006). Among other places, they filmed at “The White Horse” pub where there’s a framed photo proudly displaying the fact.
You can read my previous blog post about Shere here.
Oh London, how I miss you! I must admit that I get really emotional looking at these photos taken 3-5 years ago. Even though the sights and sounds of London town are behind me I still feel largely connected to the British capital. I have such fond memories of beautiful sights around Notting Hill and Hampstead Heath, as well as the areas around Kensington and Westminster.
Almost every Sunday I would walk around Hyde Park and marvel at the friendly squirrels. It was the only day that my shop was closed so I put my best walking shoes on and wandered street after street of each borough I was attracted to. I loved feeling like a tourist while taking photographs of locals on their Sundays.
My favourite time of year to be a tourist in the UK was definitely at Christmas time. Oxford Street comes alive with street decorations and lights while the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland of market stalls, rides, food and attractions (like ice-skating) really puts everyone into the festive mood.
My favourite thing to do in London was attend all the glamorous movie premieres held in Leicester Square. I was so excited to come within touching distance of Ben Affleck (Argo Premiere) and Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger Premiere) and the cast of my favourite Les Miserables (2012). London is an amazing place for film buffs.
I remember spending hours and hours in Harrods whenever I had nowhere to rush to. The food hall is an absolute masterpiece and the lavish interiors and luxurious products really impressed me each time. If only I had a larger wallet!
Anyone that’s ever been lucky enough to wake up to powder white snow covering everything from tree branches to rooftops knows how magical it can feel. While snow never lasted too long in Watford, it was epic fun while it was there and certainly different to the sort of winters I’m used to here in Melbourne.
Gazing out the window to this view every summer’s evening was a definite treat! Sunsets in Watford were absolutely breathtaking. More about that here.
Watford is where I spent 6 days of my week for 11 months straight when I ran my shop. It’s a place where the English countryside provides a peaceful escape yet there’s enough buzz in town to get you excited about the shopping and nightlife. Locals are friendly and everyone gets along, Watford still feels like home to me to some extent.
The thing I miss the most about life in the UK is my little stationery and gift shop on Chalk Hill. I feel truly blessed to have had this opportunity to be part of the Watford small business group with such welcoming surrounding businesses around me.
Who doesn’t love a hearty traditional English pub meal? It’s always great value.
Last but certainly not least, it was hard to watch the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations in front of this gem of a palace. Every time I stood at the gates of Buckingham Palace, I felt like I was a true Londoner. And boy did it feel great!
Hope you’ve enjoyed my top memories of life in the UK.
A couple of days ago, during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit the brilliant costume design exhibition of the Jocelyn Moorhouse film The Dressmaker (2015).Based on the best selling novel by Rosalie Ham, this well-executed film, which stars Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, transports audiences to 1950s rural Australia and tells the story of Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Winslet) who returns to her hometown after working in the fashion houses of London, Milan and Paris, and transforms the lives of the residents of Dungatar by making a name for herself as chief dressmaker.
This film takes viewers on Tilly’s journey of self-discovery, with flash-back sequences investigating her alleged murder of a boy her age during her childhood. The developing present-day love story between Tilly and Teddy McSwiney (Hemsworth) is just beautiful to watch. Winslet’s wonderful portrayal of Tilly makes her a highly believable character; an independent and strong woman, who wears luxurious, bold gowns and hats inspired by Parisian couture, yet also struggles to overcome the scars of her past behind closed doors. It should also be mentioned that the supporting cast, namely Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving, delivered outstanding performances.
I loved the film a lot so going to see this exhibition was a real treat! Visitors are greeted with a train platform sign saying “Dungatar” out the front of the estate and a red carpet leading into the immaculate Rippon Lea House, which now belongs to the National Trust and was built in 1868. As guests explore the intimate and lavish 1930s Hollywood-style interiors of the mansion they can see images of actors wearing the costumes, as well as beautiful production displays, spinning mannequins, projections, video clips, hat displays and realistic photo backdrops. The highlight for most people, of course, is the privilege of coming face-to-face with the creations of costume designer Marion Boyce, and Margot Wilson who designed Kate Winslet’s wardrobe. Seeing these beautifully-crafted artisan pieces right before your very eyes is very gratifying, albeit keeping your hands from touching the gowns is easier said than done! The amount of time and effort it must have taken to create each dress on display, truly left me feeling very inspired. The production team’s eye for detail with the props and artistic touches in each room should also be commended. In most settings these masterpieces are not hidden behind any glass and non-flash photography is permitted.
Exit the mansion and find yourself in a stunning 14 acre-garden with a lake and waterfall, rustic iron bridges, grass tennis court, Gatsby-style swimming pool (not in use), conservatory, lookout tower, largest covered fernery in the world and windmill. The nostalgic 1950s style of the film also extends to the cosy pop-up Dungatar Tea Room and the flourishing gift shop, which serves as the start and end point of the entire experience.
The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition runs until July 31st at Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Elsternwick, from 10am until 4pm daily.
It has long been a dream of mine to visit the “Land of the Rising Sun”. I remember always being fascinated about Japanese minimalism in relation to architecture whilst studying interior design at university. I always found Japan to be a great source of inspiration and have always been interested in their way of life and their unique culture. I have always wanted to enter a Japanese shop where everything is cute and character-driven.
A couple of months ago, right at the beginning of their cherry blossom season, I finally made it to this intriguing and fascinating island known as Japan. It was an eye-opening experience from start to finish and was the first time I ever holidayed in Asia. My sister and I spent 12 days travelling in Japan, starting in Tokyo and visiting Osaka and Kyoto.
For this post I simply want to showcase my photos to you because there are so many websites and books in the marketplace where you can gain information, make itineraries, and map out your day from morning till night (admittedly as a person who loves to plan everything out, I used a very helpful little app called Tripomatic to help me bring all my research together into one helpful daily organiser!). Of course I recommend that you do your research, by all means, but I also learned that it’s alright to simply have no plan for the day and see where life takes you. I wish we had more time to explore these three beautiful cities without time limits and without maps and itineraries as this would allow us to relax more and truly feel what it’s like to be in Japan. On my next trip there that’s what I plan to do for sure but understandably for the first trip somewhere I always seem to want to pack in as much to see and do as I possibly can!
Japan is a country which leaves visitors with their own distinct impressions, as long as you’re open to the possibility of discovering, learning and experiencing life from outside your comfort zone. Yes, there were lots of people everywhere and at times we did find ourselves on packed train carriages, feeling a little bit out of place, but even then I was eager to turn unfamiliar corners and see what’s out there. Japan really pushed my sense of adventure to the max and even though I couldn’t speak the language, its beautiful people always made me feel at ease. This trip was one of those “pinch me, am I really here?” moments and I cannot recommend Japan enough for anyone who is interested in history, architecture and religion. If you’re fortunate enough not to have any time constraints in Japan, then you’re probably the luckiest person in the world because there’s so much to see and so many places with the wow factor that will definitely leave you feeling speechless.
Tourists visiting Melbourne are spoiled for choice when it comes to Australian wildlife and landscapes in our large and beautiful state. From picturesque beaches to lush green forests, we are so lucky to have all these options available to us in Victoria.
Those interested in feeding some Australian cockatoos should definitely visit Grants Picnic Ground in the beautiful Sherbrooke Forest of the Dandenong Ranges. The cockatoos simply love to fly onto your shoulder (and sometimes even your head!) and feed on the seeds you hold out for them in shiny silver dishes. It’s an experience that you’ll cherish as a truly Australian one so make sure you bring your camera!
Afterwards you should definitely go for a bush walk along the many trails in Sherbrooke forest, breathe in the fresh forest air and try to spot other wildlife such as wombats, possums, lyrebirds and wallabies in their natural habitat. The wonderful ferns and stringy bark trees rising up towards the sky will leave a good impression on you too. There’s also a lovely cafe and gift shop there for all your souvenir needs. The best part is it’s only a short drive from suburbia but feels a world away!
Over Christmas my family and I rented a small but stylish unit in Mornington to spend some quality time together. The interior spaces were ultra comfortable and every detail was perfect, from the bottle of bubbles we used to fill a pristine white bath tub to the cucumber cleansing wipes to refresh with after a one-hour drive getting there. All the rooms were decorated in a modern decor, with top-notch appliances and gadgets to fully entertain us. The artwork on the walls added a lovely playful touch and like everything else in the apartment showed off the owner’s great taste in interior design and decoration.
Mornington is the sort of quiet town by the sea that you could really fall in love with. It has exquisite little gift shops, artisan gelato stores, salons for high-tea and shopping to your heart’s content all the way along Main Street, leading down to the water. The sunsets, beach huts and sandy beaches all give the impression of a typical Australian beach vibe. Overall, we had a great time dancing on the terrace, singing Christmas carols and soaking up the atmosphere of a beautiful apartment in a gorgeous town.
For many people it’s extremely unusual to think about celebrating Christmas in the summer but for us Aussies, it’s what we do best. The streets of Melbourne are currently decorated in the traditional colours of Christmas and unlike our US/European friends, we can roam the streets in our T-shirts, indulge in ice-cream and go for a swim at the beach. While I prefer the traditional Christmas of snowy streets and warm homes filled with the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon, and the option of buying gifts at hearty Christmas markets, in many ways we are truly blessed to have our end of year holidays during the summer and a great atmosphere of Christmas cheer on the streets.