Archive for 2014

  • An Easy Day Trip from Dubrovnik: Lokrum Island

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Dubrovnik really is one of those places you won’t soon forget. After spending a full day strolling around this magnificent medieval city, there’s no better way to spend day two than by taking an easy day trip to Dubrovnik’s Lokrum Island.

    Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Getting to Lokrum Island really couldn’t be easier. It is a stone’s throw away from Dubrovnik — only 500 m away from the old town — and takes only 15 minutes by taxi-boat, which depart from the old harbour every half an hour in the summer. Tickets cost 70 kn return (9 euros) and includes entrance to the island as it is a Nature Reserve.

    Dubrovnik Harbour, Croatia

    travel to lokrum island, dubrovnik

    Lokrum Island is only small — less than a mile wide — and so navigation is no problem. Making this day trip really is a beautiful way to escape from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik as, clearly, I’m not the only one who has fallen for this city!. Here are some top things to see and do on the island:

    1. Swim in the ‘Dead Sea’

    Or Lokrum’s miniature version at least. The island is home to an idyllic little salt lake connected to the open sea and surrounded by steep rock walls and fragrant pines. Take a dip in the 10 metre deep lake and marvel at how difficult it is to sink!

    Lokrum island day trip from Dubrovnik

    2. Meet the locals

    Given the fact that this island is a protected nature reserve, it is forbidden to stay overnight here. Unless you are a peacock that is! One of the unique features of this island is its large, wild peacock and peahen population. Brought over from the Canary Islands 150 years ago, these beautiful birds have flourished on Lokrum Island. Far from timid, don’t be surprised to have them approach you while you relax on the rocky beach or in the lush gardens.

    Lokrum island day trip, Dubrovnik

    3. Take in the views

    Gaze out on to uninterrupted views of the Adriatic sea from the far side of the island. The glimmering water appears to stretch on forever, even whilst knowing that Italy is at the end of that horizon! If you have brought some lunch over with you, like a spinach and cheese burek perhaps, this is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic.

    Lokrum island day trip, dubrovnik

    Lokrum Island day trip, Dubrovnik

    4. Find the perfect swimming hole

    If you’re looking for a spot to swim without being swamped by tourists, the rocky beaches that line Lokrum island’s shore are your perfect answer.

    Day trip to Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik

    Don’t expect a gentle sandy slope into the sea; instead, be prepared to enter the water via one of the many steel ladders that have been affixed to the rocks. Tip: bring some goggles with you — the water is crystal clear.

    Lokrum Island day trip, Dubrovnik

    5. Go back in time

    Lokrum Island once belonged entirely to the Benedictine order and exploring the crumbling ruins of the monastery buildings will ignite your imagination and transport you back to medieval times.

    Lokrum Island day trip from Dubrovnik

    Other things to do on the island:

    6. Stroll through the exotic Botanical Gardens

    Lokrum Island is home to a spectacular and diverse Botanical Garden which contains over 500 varieties of exotic plant species from South Africa, Australia, Chile, California, among other varied geographical locations.

    7. Let it all out

    Hate those tan lines and prefer suntanning in the nude? Head to the nudist beach on the island’s south side and not far from the salt lake.

    8. Get lost among the olive groves

    Planted during Benedictine times, a wander through Lokrum’s old, shaded olive groves is a true pleasure.

    9. Ascend to Fort Royal

    Built on the point of highest elevation on Lokrum Island at 96m is the star-shaped Fort Royal, constructed by the French in 1806 after their occupation of Dubrovnik. It’s a small hike for a beautiful view of the surroundings.

    10. Enjoy a refreshment at the café

    If you’re feeling parched or your belly is beginning to rumble, a small refreshment at the café near the harbour will ensure that you don’t need to return to Dubrovnik too soon!

    A day trip to Lokrum Island truly is a lovely way to spend some of your time in Dubrovnik. Have fun exploring!

  • Sunday Selections

    After a spectacular week in Croatia, I touched back down in Berlin on Monday and was immediately welcomed back with a pesky chest infection. One of the downsides of travel, of course, is the increased likelihood of catching a germ. Whilst I’ve been feeling restless having spent most of last week on the couch catching up on old TV episodes, I am thankful that my illness occurred after my trip ended at least! Phew!

    I’m missing Croatia’s beauty already.

    croatia sunrise over sea

    WATCH: Graham Hill’s suggestion of becoming a weekday vegetarian makes so much sense to me. My diet has definitely changed since moving to Germany. I’m not comfortable eating as much meat over here as I once did back in Australia, mainly because I am not able to understand completely where the meat is sourced and whether it was ethically farmed. Check out his TED talk for some powerful arguments for adopting this dietary change.

    READ: Why do we have such a fleeting sense of empathy in this day and age? Lauren Wolfe’s article, Turn On, Retweet, Tune Out, explores some of the reasons behind this worrying trend.

    EAT: These delicious cherry hazelnut energy bars may be just the thing I need to get back on track this week.

    DIY: I’m always reluctant to bring hats when travelling, purely because they can be so annoying to carry around when you’re moving from place to place. Thankfully, this very helpful tutorial on how to pack a hat in your suitcase has solved this dilemma of mine forever! Ah, the logic.

    DREAM BUY: I must admit that when strolling around the cashed-up harbours of Hvar and Split, I did momentarily dream about how amazing it would be to charter a luxury yacht. In another life, this one could work.

    BUDGET BUY: The world’s most famous travel experiences certainly come at a price. Lonely Planet offers a cheaper alternative to ten of the world’s most expensive experiences here for the more budget conscious among us, along with a recommendation as to whether the cheaper alternative can really compare to the real deal.

    GO: Summer holidays are almost over and so I’m back in Berlin for the time being. It’s time to get ‘serious’ with work. But I’m still dreaming of exotic destinations, like stunning Costa Rica. One day.

    Hope your Sunday has been fab, friends!

  • Great Places to Eat and Drink in Dubrovnik that Won’t Break the Bank

    Good food. Good wine. Some of the most crucial ingredients for a holiday. I do admit that I get a little obsessive when researching cities that I plan to visit, troweling through blogs looking for the best recommendations for where to find quality, reasonably priced local food and pretty spots to enjoy a vino or two. Now, Dubrovnik is certainly not a cheap city but here are a few good options for some pre-dinner drinks before a delicious, fresh seafood dinner won’t break the bank.

    For a pre-dinner drink:

    1. D’Vino Wine Bar

    Located in the heart of Dubrovnik’s old town, D’Vino is a lovely place to enjoy a Croatian wine along with a very reasonably priced cheese platter. Only a handful of tables line the marble lane D’Vino is situated on, which is exactly where you want to be late afternoon while you contemplate your dinner plans for that evening.

    Wine and cheese, D'Vino wine bar, Dubrovnik

    2. Lady Pi-Pi

    The view from the terrace of Lady Pi-Pi over the glowing terracotta roofs of the old town in the late afternoon really is something else. Get there around 5pm before it gets busy for dinner and share a half litre of wine as you gaze out over this stunning city.

    Wine, Lady Pi-Pi, Dubrovnik


    For a fresh seafood dinner at a reasonable price:

    1. Lokanda Peskarija

    It’s no secret that restaurants can be pricey in Dubrovnik, but if you’re looking for a fresh seafood dinner that won’t destroy your budget, Lokanda Peskarija is a great option. Located on the waterfront at the old harbour, this restaurant is packed in the summer, particularly around sundown. Its limited menu of only a handful of seafood dishes as well as a few risottos and salads ensures that everything is super fresh and portions are very generous. There’s also plenty to observe as you relax at your table: people walking the old city walls above you, boats docking at the pier in front of your and the busy chefs in the open kitchen behind you.

    Seafood, Dubrovnik

    dubrovnik old harbour restaurant

    I’d love to hear some other suggestions for great places to grab a well-priced dinner or drink in Dubrovnik!

  • Don’t Miss in Dubrovnik: Walking the Old City Walls

    So I fell in love with Dubrovnik last week. Yep, head over heels, smack bang in love. It was only a short fling, unfortunately. Two days. But I don’t think that’s the end of our little love affair. I have a feeling that one day we’ll meet again.

    Enclosed within steep city walls which have protected the city for five centuries, it’s easy to get lost wandering the shimmering marble streets of the old town, even in such a small city as Dubrovnik. Getting your bearings by venturing up onto the towering city walls, therefore, is necessary (and also one of the coolest things you will experience on your visit here!). 100 kn (approx. €13) gets you a ticket which enables you to stroll along the astonishing wall that encircles the old city, measuring approximately 2 kilometres in perimeter and reaching up to 22 metres high in places.

    With uninterrupted views across the glittering azure of the Adriatic Sea on one side and sublime views of the terracotta tiled roofs and Baroque architecture of the old city on the other, it is easy to understand why these walls are claimed to be the best of their kind in the world and Dubrovnik’s main claim to fame.

    Dubrovnik Old City Walls

    Buy tickets at Pile Gate, the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s old city.

    Pile Gate, Dubrovnik

    Dubrovnik City Walls

    Dubrovnik City Walls

    Dubrovnik City Walls


    Stunning, no? Most people don’t realise that the ticket to the city walls also includes a visit to Fort Lovrjenac, situated on a 37 metre cliff and located outside of the city’s western wall. This impressive fortification overshadows the two entrances to the city — by land and by sea. I do admit being a little awe-struck looking up at one of the most heavily featured locations in HBO’s popular Game of Thrones, as the CGI modified Fort Lovrjenac is transformed into the infamous King’s Landing. Pretty cool.

    Fort Lawrence, Dubrovnik

    Dubrovnik Old City Walls

    Dubrovnik Old City Wall

    Fort Lawrence, Dubrovnik

    Opening Hours:

    1 January - 28 February: 10:00am - 3:00pm

    1 March - 31 March: 9:00am - 3:00pm

    1 April - 31 May: 9:00am - 6:30pm

    1 June - 31 July: 8:00am - 7:30pm

    1 August - 15 September: 8:00am - 7:00pm

    16 September - 31 October: 9:00am - 6:00pm

    1 November - 31 December: 9:00am - 3:00pm

    Ticket price: 100 kn (approx. €13)

    A late afternoon stroll along Dubrovnik’s city walls is my pick of must-do activities in this charming Dalmatian city so don’t miss it! Leave a comment below sharing your personal ‘don’t miss’ activity in a city you’ve fallen in love with.

  • Sunday Selections

    Apologies for the slight delay in the posting of this week’s Sunday Selections friends! Dodgy wi-fi is, unfortunately, a reality of travel sometimes. I’m back in Berlin after a truly spectacular break in Croatia, which I look forward to sharing with you this week on The Department of Wandering.

    So this was where I spent my Sunday night — watching the most beautiful sunset while sitting on the Riva in Zadar. I want to go back already!

    Sunset, Zadar, Croatia

    WATCH: This beautifully produced video captures the magic of the incredible natural phenomenon of the midnight sun in Iceland through time lapse footage. Amazing. Iceland, you are one spectacular place.

    READ: For my future home office, I will happily take any of these options, thank you.

    EAT: Everyone loves a summer picnic, don’t they? This clever picnic idea generator ensures that you’ll never be stuck for ideas as to what to pack!

    MAKE: Surely this has got to be the easiest DIY project in the history of the universe. But oh what a lovely result. These DIY pretty shampoo bottles would look divine in any bathroom and much more aesthetically pleasing than the Pantene variety!

    DREAM BUY: In the eventual house that I will own (one day!) I want need lighting like this maritime inspired industrial lighting collection.

    BUDGET BUY: Don’t you think these blueprint art prints are kinda cool? There’s some quirky ones in the mix too! Blue print of Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar anyone?

    GO: Wouldn’t it have just been the most incredible experience to go travelling in Egypt in the early 20th century? These old photographs of life in Cairo taken over 100 years ago are just extraordinary. What an adventure it would have been! Whilst it would be a vastly different experience today, I’d still love to visit someday.

    Until next time!

  • Croatia Sneak Peek

    Aren’t summer holidays just the best? I’ve been soaking up the sun in glorious Croatia for the past week and thought I’d treat you to a little sneak peek of where I’ve been hanging out. This was yesterday’s view. That’s perfection right there.

    Mlini Beach, Palkeni Islands

    Any guesses where this is? Find out on the blog next week! Be warned though: you may end up booking a flight immediately!

  • Sunday Selections

    Bok (hello) from beautiful Croatia! This morning I took a 6am flight and touched down in Dubrovnik for breakfast. Afterwards, I took a slow wander along the 2km city walls and was just awe-struck as to how beautiful this city is. Looking forward to sharing more of Croatia with you here and on Instagram this week!

    Dubrovnik, Croatia

    WATCH: Our greatest aspiration in life is to be happy. Wouldn’t you agree? Brother David Steidl-Rest, an Austrian monk and scholar, shares his insights on how to achieve happiness in this refreshing TED talk. The key is to be grateful, he says, is to live in the moment.

    READ: I’m in awe of Australian artist CJ Hendry’s incredibly photo-realistic artwork. Unbelievable skill.

    EAT: I’ve said before that my love for summer fruit is bordering on obsessive, and the beautiful Linda Lomelino from Call Me Cupcake has given me another perfect way to make the most of the juicy stone fruit that have flooded the markets everywhere. Her easy stone fruit tarts look heavenly.

    MAKE: I’ve found the perfect solution with what to do with my used coffee grounds after my daily brew: make a DIY coffee body scrub! Did you know that caffeine is supposed to combat cellulite?

    DREAM BUY: Wouldn’t this beautifully hand-crafted Globe Trotter suitcase be the perfect travel accessory? It has such a beautiful old-school feel. Item added to wish list: tick.

    BUDGET BUY: As you know, I do love spending my Sundays wandering the flea markets around Berlin and last Sunday you read about my bargain find from a little market around the corner. These tips on the 8 no-regret  items at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores from Apartment Therapy has made my eye a little keener in searching for hidden treasures.

    GO: Well, I’m in stunning Croatia for the next week and plan on savouring every single moment I have here. It’s absolutely spectacular folks! Get here if you can!

  • Great Coffee in Berlin Part 3: Bonanza Coffee Roasters

    I’ll admit that I’m a tad excited as I write this post.

    This is the third installment of my series on where to find great coffee in Berlin (see recommendations for Silo Coffee and Café 9 too). I have to admit, however, that this little place, Bonanza Coffee Roasters (previously Bonanza Coffee Heroes), holds a special place in my heart. It is, without a doubt, THE BEST place to get coffee in Berlin. And rightly so — the guys behind Bonanza were the first to bring the Third Wave coffee movement to Berlin when they first opened in 2007.

    Located in trendy Prenzlauer Berg right next to Mauerpark on Oderberger Straße, I’m so lucky to call Bonanza Coffee Heroes my local. The fact that it is only a five minute walk from my flat means that it is all too easy to easily indulge in my little obsession with this place.

    In summer, the seating outside is the most popular place to enjoy a brew and, on Sundays, when Mauerpark is teeming with people, seats outside are prime real estate. More wintery days call for a cosier option and, whilst the tiny cafe only seats about 10, I’ve always been able to score a table without too much hassle.

    Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin

    Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin

    Flat White, Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin

    Iced Flat Whites. Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin

    A small selection of cookies (the chewy vegan chocolate is my favourite) and croissants are available to enjoy with your coffee. Coffee beans are also available for purchase, having been freshly roasted in Wedding where their roastery is located.

    Coffee Beans, Bonanza Coffee Heroes

    Browse through the selection of beautiful independent magazines that hang on the wall while you’re sipping away.

    Magazines at Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin

    Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Berlin

    All this coffee chat has awakened my caffeine cravings! Maybe I should pop down now for a little espresso? Very tempting!

    Address: Oderberger Straße 35, 10435 Berlin

    Opening Hours: Monday -Friday 8:30am - 7pm, Saturday - Sunday 10:00am - 7pm

    Which café is your ultimate favourite?

  • Urban Farming at Prinzessinnengärten, Berlin, with a Bonus Honey Festival

    I’ve been wanting to check out Prinzessinnengärten in Berlin’s Kreuzberg for a while now and finally visited last weekend. Boy, what a place! I’m asking myself how it took me a year to get down here.

    Launched in 2009 by non-profit group Nomadisch Grün (Nomadic Green), the vision behind Prinzessinnengärten was to create a mobile urban farming space where members of the community from all social classes and cultural groups can come together and collectively tend an urban garden. The initiative relies heavily on volunteers, who are themselves rewarded with a great sense of fulfilment and increase in knowledge.

    Developed on unused, neglected land which had been vacant for half a century, Nomadisch Grün rents the space from the city. The Prinzessinnengärten receives no subsidies from the government and so must self-sustain through sales at the garden’s beautiful cafe, the selling of the various organic vegetables produced on site, as well as funds collected from the implementation of regular educational programs and events. The primary aim of Nomadisch Grün is to ensure that the garden is a place of learning. Most people that tend the garden, including the owners, are amateurs and beginners and through the practical and informal nature of the setting, knowledge is shared and developed collectively.

    The fact that the Prinzessinnengärten was also the location for last weekend’s Stadthonigfest (City Honey Festival) really did mean that I couldn’t stay away any longer.

    Prinzessinnengarten. Berlin

    Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    Cute little stalls were set up all over the garden, representing some 1,000 beekeepers from all over Berlin. Each representative was eager to speak about their particular honey, what made it special and what it’s characteristics were, resulting from the local pollens in the local area. Of course, samples were offered freely.

    Honey Festival, Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    Honey Bee Box, Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

    After much deliberation and a lot of some taste testing, I eventually decided on a beautiful, sweet honey cultivated by a family in Pankow, the neighbourhood to the north of where we live. This honey truly is the nectar of the Gods and to not drizzle a little generous spoonful on my muesli each morning just wouldn’t be right.

    Honey locally produced in Berlin

    When privatisation of the land occurs (not if, but when), Nomadisch Grün will have to find another location for Prinzessinnengarten. Mind you, they are aware of this and prepared for the inevitable move — they have built a mobile, urban garden after all.

    To learn more about the vision behind Prinzessinnengärten, check out this little video below:

    Address: Prinzenstraße 35-38 / Prinzessinnenstraße 15 (U8 Moritz Platz)

    Opening hours: The Prinzessinnengärten is open from April to October every day (except in very bad weather) from 11am - 6pm.  The garden cafe is open from 12pm - 10pm.

    Are there any community farming initiatives in your city?

  • Sunday Selections

    Isn’t summer the most glorious season? Berries have flooded the markets everywhere around Berlin and I can’t get enough of them!

    Summer berries, Berlin

    WATCH: For Pakistani Syed Muzamil Hasan Zaidi, being the recipient of gifts and kind words was not the way he wanted to celebrate his 22nd birthday. Instead, to make for a much more personally fulfilling occasion, he decided to celebrate his day by engaging in 22 random acts of kindness to others. His documentation of this day will bring a little smile to your face.

    READ: I’m in lazy summer holiday mode, which means that this little guide to no heat holiday curls is the perfect hair styling solution.

    EAT: These mini almond pavlovas with forest berries are the perfect way to remedy the overabundance of berries in my fridge!

    MAKE: Temperatures in Berlin have been pushing into the 30s over the last few days which I love. This after sun homemade DIY lotion is the perfect medicine for tender, sunburnt skin.

    DREAM BUY: Could someone please buy me a house just like this one? I adore the simplicity and clean design of the wood and marble. Oh, and the location, in LA, would be fine also.

    BUDGET BUY: I am so excited by my recent bargain of the century flea market purchase. Would you believe that I picked up a Scanpan wok in perfect condition for just 15 euros?!  These babies are not cheap. I was missing my beautiful Scanpan cookware that I used to use everyday back in Australia so was so thrilled with this find! Read more about my love of Berlin’s flea markets here.

    GO: This time next week I’ll be in gorgeous Croatia for a little summer escape. After scrolling through Jessica Stein’s incredible images of Dubrovnik (aka King’s Landing), I don’t think I can wait a whole week! What an amazing place.

    Wishing you all a lovely Sunday and a happy week ahead.