Travel

Postcards from Athens

Currently I’m sitting inside my hotel room in Santorini, Greece, watching 90km/h winds sweep across this enchanting island. I’m not likely to be braving the elements so decided to showcase a few photo postcards from my previous holiday spot – Athens.

Athens was charming and historic at the same time as funky, edgy and full of character. Its people were very welcoming, as is the case all around Greece. Its streets were filled with family-owned tavernas and irresistible corner restaurants. We stayed at Hotel Phaedra, located just below the mighty Acropolis hill which is where the ancient Parthenon stands. The hotel had everything we could ever have needed for our stay, including a sublime rooftop terrace with 360 degree views of the entire city. I recommend staying in this hotel as it’s very central, yet quiet and budget-friendly.

It was super simple to explore the city on foot as everything was within close proximity from each other. From Plaka a 10-minute walk would get you to Syntagma Square where the presidential guards or efzones could be seen. At the same time you’re also close to the peaceful village of Anafiotika as well as many ancient sights, the national gardens and of course the main attraction – the Acropolis and its ruins.

I didn’t fall in love with Athens the way I did with Barcelona, Paris or Venice but the city had all the right components for an enjoyable holiday including a nice mild climate, delicious food, friendly locals and just the right balance of historical sights and modern-day marvels.

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Travel

Architecture of Barcelona

PasseigBarcelona is the city that forever has my heart. I have so many stories and so many ideas for future blog posts about that special place but for today’s post we’re going on a virtual trip to this Mediterranean gem of a city to explore some of the architectural details that make it so unbelievably beautiful. Walking through the different parts of Barcelona such as El Born, Eixample and Gracia, you see a myriad of stunning doors, windows, balconies, roofs and facade details. If I had all the time in the world and I could stand and appreciate each apartment block in the city, I’d walk away very happy.

Travel

DisneySea, Tokyo

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Leaving the wonderful world of Disney on the monorail with a lighter wallet but a much happier heart.

You can read about my trip to Disneyland here.

Travel

Joy in Disneyland, Tokyo

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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When I was there it was all setup for Easter and checking their website today it looks like they’ve decorated for Halloween!

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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!

London, Travel

Dear UK

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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


NightOxfordStXmasMarketXmasMarket (2)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.


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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.


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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!

You can read about my time in Harrods here.


Snow

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.


Sunsets

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.


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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.


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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.


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Who doesn’t love a hearty traditional English pub meal? It’s always great value.


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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.

Latest News, Travel

My Japanese Adventure

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.

 

Australia, Travel

Cockatoos of Sherbrooke Forest

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!