March 14, 2015

New Discoveries Down Under

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Ahhh holidays. That small fragment of the year where you get to smugly put your out of office on with an automated response that basically says SEE YA WORLD! I’M OFF TO BE FREE! You also get to update your Instagram feed with lots of very blue, serene pictures. Not a grey cloud in sight. Oh, what a far-cry from the daily grind. The experience is also made even more magical because you know it’s temporary; your out-of-office has a sell-by date. But let’s not think about that.

So for the past two weeks I’ve been living the vida loca in Australia with some of my favourite people ever in the blissful sunshine; seeing the sights, discovering new things and just relaxing away from the stresses of London. (Writing this post it feels like it never happened. Was it a dream? Was it?)

My sister lives in Sydney with her four mates where they share a flat in a lovely part of the city: Surry Hills. I joked that their photos on Facebook look like they are in The Hills. They kind of are. The area they live in sort of reminds me of Brooklyn/New York with the long gridded streets, bars and cafés – oh and the weather was insane. Upwards from 28 degrees each day. *Slaps on suncream for the first time in forever*.

I guess one of the things that made me reflect was that my sister did that. She packed her bags, booked a plane ticket and flew to the other side of the world in a shot. She chased the sun, the new opportunities, the excitement, the change. She was settled, she looked happy, she was in Australia and getting along just fine away from ‘home’. It made me wonder if I am too attached to England. I love being close enough to get a train back to my family home. I like having all my mates in one place. I’m essentially building a proper nest in London at the moment. It all feels very permanent, but is anything, really? I never took a gap year. But I think I will, one day, when the thought of it doesn’t fill me with fear and horror. *clings to routine for another 2384 years*

Anyhow, I thought I’d do a little run down of all my favourite discoveries down under. Because, AUSTRALIA! I felt so grateful to have the opportunity to go to the other side of the world. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD!

(Side note: I watched Stephen Merchant’s ‘Hello Ladies’ on the plane (amongst other things, like Whiplash, wow) but I feel it hasn’t got the press it deserves and I for one thought it was HILARIOUS. Bravo, Stephen, bravo.

#SYDNEY 

One of the things I loved was the ferry journey from Sydney to Manly. Apparently this is some people’s COMMUTE. Beats the sticky central line on a summer’s day I’ll tell you that. Amazing views of all the touristy stuff I wanted to see: the Sydney opera house, islands, boats, the big glorious shark-infested sea.

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It was MARDI GRA while we were staying which was AWESOME. Pretty much every single restaurant or shop had a rainbow flag or even rainbow-themed food. The cash machines had been rebranded as GAYTMs. Amazing.

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I really loved Melbourne. Mainly because I’m a culture vulture and immediately judge a city based on how many book shops, independent clothing outlets and bars that sell good red wine (and how many people inside them are wearing loud shirts). Melbourne ticked all these boxes and as I made my way around the city I realised that the city was loaded with absolute gems that I could get totally lost in.

#MELBOURNE

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Book Shops I Fell In Love With

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  • The Book Grocer – this book store is a small, family-run business which I stumbled across on a walk back to my hotel. All the books are discounted and you come away with a weird and wonderful new book that also feels like a total bargain. I bought a book called “I Used To Know That Literature”, full of strange facts about authors from the past, such a good book to read in the bath.
  • The Searchers – this is record slash book store located in Fitzroy and frequently name-dropped in TimeOut Melbourne. It’s full of huge autobiographies, old school records and inspiring books about the Beat generation.
  • Books For Cooks – situated on Gertrude St this bookshop is 100% dedicated to cookery books – for cooking lovers there is no book that you won’t find in this store. It’s piled high, a bit scatty, full of inspiration quotes and has a really chilled ‘come and hang out with us’ sort of atmosphere.

Vintage And Independent Boutiques

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(Yes, I’m into stripes at the moment).

There were two main places we visited for shopping and I honestly say I fell totally in love with both highstreets. Chapel Street and Gertrude Street. I guess you can’t really call them highstreets as that suggests chain shops – these long winding streets are FULL of independent shops, boutiques, vintage outlets, brimming with amazing pieces to be discovered and make you feel slightly DIFFERENT! I am in my element when stumbling across something out of the blue and feeling like you’ve discovered a hidden gem. I felt like this over and over.

  • Some Buddy Loves You – full of really DIFFERENT designs, tees, bags, shoes, dresses
  • SEED – this is exactly small or independent but it’s amazing, it’s like the Australian equivalent to Zara. But the pounds / dollar conversion rate was pretty good and got some amazing things (like those leopard print mules above) for a pretty decent price.
  • Nook Vintage – this shop was amazing for vintage furniture, like IRL Etsy. However it made my heart weep because I only had hand-luggage on the Melbourne flight which made no big purchases for me. However, my bank account sighed with relief.
  • Forever New – again this is apparently quite a big chain BUT the clothes were cheap yet really stylish. Lots of things I’d expect to find at full whack in Topshop, but really nice material and not expensive. My best friend bought a 100% silk top for $20. “It looks like it’s from The Kooples!” she cried.
  • Monkey Jar – was straight up vintage dream. Rails and rails of suede, fur, leather jackets and little trinkets for around the house.
  • TARGET – omg guys, I went into my first Target. I know it’s nothing *that* spesh, but after watching so many American TV sitcoms for so many years I just HAD to go in and understand it. Finding: it’s just like Primark really. Slight anticlimax, but hey.

Food Glorious Food

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OH THE FOOD YOU GUYS! It was an avocado smash dream. All about the coconuts with a straw. Green smoothies. Feta and mint on your scrambled eggs. Healthy Sourdough. I was one of *those* people who ate healthy stuff and actually enjoyed it! Here’s a run-down of the best restaurants we visited. My tummy really liked me during these two weeks:

  • Lau Pa Sat – firstly I must mention this place we went to Singapore (I was there for a few days before Oz). The most amazing in-door food market, which has everything under the sun! Indian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, everything and anything. Although the Western selection was a sad looking John Dory fish. Why does English food have such a bad name 🙁
  • Claypots Seafood bar – this was an incredible sea food place in St Kilda, with an octopus hanging from the ceiling (yes really) and massive sharing plates – we had lots of different little starters and then shared a massive Kingfish. YUM X 100.
  • Tsindos – a wonderful family run Greek restaurant. I love Greek food. We smashed (geddit) the food in our faces thats for sure. (Dad ordered the prawns, see above in pic)
  • Messina – THE PLACE TO GO FOR ICECREAM. ‘NUFF SAID.
  • Cookie – located in the CBD, brilliant Thai food. Dare I say it: ‘slightly hipster’. Food was really really good. Quite spicy. Really good atmosphere. I’m a sucker for good atmosphere.
  • North Bondi Fish – right next to Bondi Beach (lush view) this fish restaurant has everything you’d want, scallops, mussels, big juicy prawns, all fish dishes really. Really gorgeous food and the location made me want to live there. Oh, the sea. The beautiful sea.
  • Caffe Sienna – really nice Italian with an outdoor area near the high st; a really good place to stop off for a salad before hitting the shops again. Just a really nice hang out.
  • Zaida Café – an amazing Lebanese place in Sydney. You basically order shit loads of dishes and everyone shares. ALL OF IT was glorious.

Phew. Probably have missed a lot out, but I really wanted to round up the best places in case anyone was taking a visit or for myself in case I go back again 😉

On a soppy note, I had the best time with my best friend and family (our families went together) and made me realise that HOLIDAYS ARE SO NECESSARY! Spending time with the people that I love the most is a priority that will never shift. No matter how busybusybusy life gets, it’s ALL about the down-time with my favourites.

xoxo

  • I’m SO glad you had an amazing time in Oz, Emma! I did what your sister did, in 2010; quit my job, booked a plane ticket, and moved to Sydney. Surry Hills is a gorgeous part of the city isn’t it? 🙂

    I live in London now but I NEED to visit Australia again soon – my flatmate’s there at the moment and I’m basically bawling over her instagram photos every day!

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