2016 travels // trip one: Tasmania

For a “quiet” travel year in 2016 (in preparation for a monster year in 2017), we’ve suddenly found ourselves with three trips lined up… oops!

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I’ll be logging off from work in a few hours and flying over to Hobart with the husband for a much needed week-long break from life  : )   I’ve only visited Tasmania once, and that was for a family wedding, so we didn’t see too much, but have been wanting to go back and see it properly ever since. I’m really looking forward to some quiet time and time to ourselves and exploring and seeing some beautiful new places!

No doubt I’ll be blogging all about it when I get back, but in the meantime, feel free to follow along on my Instagram account 🙂 Happy Easter everyone, and safe travels to anyone else who’s getting away from it all over the break!

Through my eyes: Chinatown, San Francisco

Ohh happy days – not only have we made it to Saturday morning, but we’ve also (if you’re from the same part of the world as me) made it to the start of a long weekend! God bless the Queen and happy birthday to her! This is gonna seem a random post, but for some reason, I often associate public holidays with Chinatown. Weird, right? Actually, not so much – I’ve found that generally, where ever I am in the world and what ever else is going on/which ever other establishments are closed for whatever reason, Chinatown is pretty much always open. Even on public holidays. You can still get a good plate of dumplings and a side of fortune cookies even when everyone else is taking the day off. So here’s to you, Chinatown, all over the globe!

I really do love a good Chinatown, and have heard so many times that the one in San Francisco is one of the best in the world. I also grew up watching Charmed, and remember watching so many scenes of the sisters in Chinatown buying various herbs and what not… I was excited to finally be going to visit!

One of the must-do things for your San Francisco Chinatown visit should be the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley, where this photo was taken. They don’t allow any photographs in store (not without a small “donation,” anyway), but they are more than generous with free samples, and a bag of cookies to take with you won’t cost much – and you definitely want to take a bag home, because they’re delicious!

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We stumbled upon an Easter parade in the streets of Florence…

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Easter 2013. I was in Italy. It was our last night in Florence, and we were to leave for Venice in the morning by train. We had been up since around 7am and hadn’t stopped all day. We were absolutely exhausted and would be needing our energy for Easter lunch the following day with mum’s family. So, we took the excuse to be completely pathetic and get an early night, turning it at around 9pm.

Around an hour or so later, we woke with a start to yelling, cheering, drumming, trumpeting. Our hotel, located so close to Il Duomo you could almost count the individual tiles that made up it’s intricate facade, was unwittingly also smack bang in the middle of all the action! We threw open our room windows, wrapped blankets around our shoulders to ward off the unseasonably cold spring wind, and watched the most fantastic parade wind it’s way around the dark streets below. After 20 minutes, our exhaustion got the better of us and we finally fell asleep to the beat of the marching drummers. It was a little too dark for a photo that night, but below is the scene from our hotel window the following morning, before we checked out…

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The following morning, we rose early to take advantage of the few hours we had left in Florence before our midday train. Down the stairs we went, emerging onto a busy street. It was Easter Sunday and our hotel was only a few metres from one of the greatest churches in Europe. The craziness was to be expected. We started walking, aimlessly, through the streets when we heard it again; the drumming. We scurried along, trying to follow the sounds of the drummers, bursting from a small side street onto a larger street upon this…

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We found the parade! A cursory check of the watch indicated a solid two hours before we needed to be back at our hotel to check out, so we followed the parade, in all it’s noisy glory, all the way to it’s final destination, la Piazza della Signoria. We watched the flag throwing, the elaborately costumed paraders and the other people gathered around. We noticed a well dressed gentleman being followed by an attentive security detail, wishing everyone a buona pasqua (happy Easter), shaking hands, smiling for photos, kissing babies, that kinda thing. We shook his hand, too, when he got to us, also wishing him a buona pasqua (I did, anyway; husband had absolutely no idea what he was saying, he just smiled and nodded politely). When we finally did get back to the hotel, I asked the lady who checked us out who he was. She swooned a little and told us he was the Mayor of Florence, and the pick of the people to be Italy’s next Prime Minister. He was Matteo Renzi, and is now, indeed, Italy’s Prime Minister. Absolutely lovely man, by the way!

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That was one hell of an Easter day, one I’ll never forget, and one of those days that makes me eternally grateful for the fact that I chose to follow the crowd and allow myself to get caught up in the moment that day. While I’m not a religious person, it was beautiful to see all of these people celebrating old traditions so happily and with so much gusto. I hope everyone, no matter where you are in the world, no matter what your traditions are, has a wonderful Easter  : )

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Happy Halloween!

It actually really sucks that this isn’t a big thing in Australia, because I really love the idea behind it…

Anyway, this year, my best friend E and her housemates threw a Halloween shindig and because she’s the most incredibly talented individual I know, she painted our faces and transformed us into this amazingness, which meant we could double up and celebrate the Day of the Dead at the same time!

Hope everyone who does celebrate this holiday properly has a great weekend!!

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Wanderlust: Another trip ends… Now what?

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I took this photo in January, as the sun went down in the late Bangkok afternoon as husband and I were approaching the airport to begin the trip back home to Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I get to go back to Melbourne. Life is damn good there, and I can’t imagine permanently living anywhere else. But that final trip from the hotel to the airport to fly home, at the end of any trip, I find is always tinged with a little sadness for me.

There are a few factors at play here;
– I have an incurable case of wanderlust and an insatiable thirst for knowledge about this big, wonderful world I live in.
After an epiphany is Egypt, I know now that travel doesn’t have to just be a dream for me. If I want to make travel my life, I can.
– I’m one of those weird women who are very happily married, but have absolutely no desire to start a “family” (read: I’m not interested in being a mother).
– I read. A lot. Always have. Because reading is a way to escape to another world, and depression is something you need an escape from.
– I’m incredibly easily distracted because my work doesn’t challenge me.
– I’m a planner, a lister, a strategy maker. And I’m damn stubborn. Translation: Once I’ve decided I’m doing something, be it a holiday or a new pair of shoes, it’s happening. I’m immediately writing lists, timelines and budgets that will ensure that my dream becomes a plausible reality.

As I sat in the back of that car, staring out the window as it wove it’s way back to the airport, I wasn’t just my regular brand of sad. I was genuinely hurting. I felt a real dis-ease in my soul. Something had stirred during this trip. It really drove home what I realised over our four weeks in Egypt and Europe 9 months earlier; that I was made to move. My raison d’etre is to get back on the road. My motivation for getting out of bed in the morning and making my way to my mundane 9-5 job is to earn enough money to fund my next adventure. While our friends are starting to discuss baby names and hospital options, husband and I are excitedly flicking through at atlas with a marker, drawing out future itineraries, happily chattering away about what we think we’ll see in Iceland and eat in Morocco.

The end of this trip got me because I wasn’t ready for it to end. I’d spend two weeks eating street food, shopping at local markets, exploring areas off the beaten path, and loving every second of it. It’s like a drug; every trip I take, the stronger the pull is to stay away for a little longer, to immerse myself into another world a little more. And the harder it is to go back to the “real world.”

So, what next? Actually, it was a pretty simple answer for me. Keeping travelling. Get to where ever I can, however I can. I’m sure there are more of us out there who want to do the same. And some of the big obstacles to this?
– Travel buddy: I got lucky. I married my best friend and we’re both on the same page. We’ve already done a lot in the last almost 10 years, and we’ve got a lot more to see. I’ve also got a pretty cool baby sister and a rock star best friend, both of whom would be ready to take an adventure with me at the drop of a hat. No travel buddy? No problem. Go it alone. I’m planning to take a solo trip myself next year, actually. – Money: AKA the biggest roadblock for most people. I believe that you should never judge another person’s relationship, religious beliefs or financial situation, so I won’t presume that the same advice will work for everyone. What I do know is that we’ve had a mortgage for 4 years, and paid rent for almost 2 years before that. In that time, we’ve managed to afford trips to Sydney (two 4 day trips), Fiji (2 weeks), Egypt and Europe (4 weeks), Thailand (2 weeks), and a wedding. We also have a 6 week trip to America/Canada/Mexico coming up at the end of this year. It’s not been without sacrifices, and it’s not always been easy. But it’s not impossible. We’ve said no to some big nights out, but when we were standing before the pyramids in Egypt and sipping on sangria in Barcelona, it was more than worth it. We’ve made travel our priority, and once we did that, saving was actually pretty easy.
– Time: This is a bullshit cop-out, in my opinion. At the end of your days, I’m pretty sure you’re not gonna be lying on your deathbed smiling about the fact that you turned down three weeks in South American because you felt like you had to work instead. You only life once, so put that time into the things that are important to you.

As for me, I’m gonna keep living the dream; as you’re reading this, my baby sister and I are getting ready to board a plane to Vietnam, where we’ll be spending the next 10 days cycling through the outskirts of Hoi An, doing yoga on the beach, navigating the markets and learning to cook from the locals, and floating along Ha Long Bay. She’s my soul sister, she gets what’s important in life, and I cannot wait to take this adventure with her! I’ve packed a travel journal so I can record every little part of this trip, and I look forward to telling you guys all about it when I get back! In the meantime, follow me on instagram for all of our international adventures and delicious food – I’d love to take you along for this ride!

But for now, we must fasten our seat belts, prepare for the road ahead, and be thankful for this wonderful opportunity. And when it’s all over, then what? Do it all again, of course  : )