Archive for May, 2014

  • Great Coffee in Berlin Part 1: Café 9

    Cafe Neun, Berlin

    Okay, I admit it. I’m a coffee snob. In my defence I’m from from Melbourne. I guess that explains it. It’s all too easy to get used to the good stuff in the coffee capital of the nation. This can make things a little tricky when abroad. A quality cup is non-negotiable if I’m going to start my day right. My unfortunate realisation after moving to Berlin was that great coffee is not always right at your fingertips like it is back home.

    While third-wave coffee culture is slowly gaining in popularity, there are still only a handful of spots across Berlin where you can grab a top-notch brew. Nevertheless, these cafés do exist and, if you know where to go, you can find them across neighbourhoods ranging from Mitte to Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain to Prenzlauerberg. I’ll be bringing you some suggestions over the coming weeks so you can easily combat that dull, foggy headache resulting from an unfortunate caffeine-deprived morning.

    Café 9 in Kreuzberg is one option for a ‘real’ coffee. This tiny place, situated next door to Markethalle Neun, really is the location you want to begin your Saturday with. Order a flat white, an aeropress, or a cold-brew — my choice for today — before heading next door to select your market goodies. You can also enjoy a good selection of savoury or sweet bites to accompany your choice of brew. Sit at one of the green stools at the bench and gaze out onto the street which will be full of people enjoying lunch from Markthalle at the tables on the street in the sun.

    Cold Brew, Cafe Neun

    Where do you love to grab your coffee from in your city?

  • Summer Weekends in Berlin: Park Love

    Berlin Park 6

    Berliners really do get their weekends right. You won’t find many people hanging around inside when the sun is shining. No, they really do make the most of these warm months because they know that they will be gone all too quickly and the long winter will set in once again.

    On any given warm afternoon, one will find that all of the parks around the city are packed. Backyards, after all, are non existent for Berlin residents, and so claiming a patch of grass in the sun at their local park around the corner is a top priority. Here, they will park their bicycles, get comfy, strip down — the women often into swimsuits and the men shirtless — take out a book or magazine and some beers and while away the afternoon.

    Last Sunday I did just that at Volkspark am Weinbergsweg in Berlin.

    Berlin Weinbergsweg

    Berlin Weinbergsweg

    Berlin Weinbergsweg Brogues

    Blood-orange and lemon gelato may have also been involved.

    Berlin Gelato

    How do you love to spend your summer weekends in your city?

  • Street Food Saturdays in Berlin: Bite Club, Mitte

    There is important business to attend to on weekends and busy working weeks can mean we don’t always give these things the attention they deserve. For a weekend to be successful in my book, certain key ingredients must be involved: good food, great company, a few drinks, all of which are to be enjoyed in a relaxing atmosphere. The new Bite Club in Mitte is the place where all of the above criteria can be met simultaneously.

    Last Saturday, Bite Club threw a launch party at its new Saturday location in Berlin’s centre: the Platoon Kunsthalle, an über cool space for artists and creatives. Street food Friday at Bite Club in Kreuzberg next to the Badeschiff is now no longer the only place to get your Brooklyn-style street food fair fix. This new Saturday event ensures that Berliners have back-to-back options for a delicious weekend bite.

    Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Food trucks serving everything from classic cheeseburgers to braised pork tacos, Spätzle, Columbian arepas and schnitzel rolls keep the ever-growing crowd happy from 2pm until 10pm. Pop-up bars ensure that everyone remains happily hydrated and there is plenty of space to grab a table or lounge on the grass, whiling away a perfect sunny afternoon.

    Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Tacos at Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Ice Cream Sandwich at Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    Bite Club Berlin, Mitte

    The fact that the new Bite Club is located next door to my favourite coffee shop in all of Berlin, The Barn, makes it an even more perfect location for a weekend hangout.

    Bite Club, Mitte is open every Saturday from 2pm-10pm beginning (officially) from 7th June.

    Where do you head to in your city for a weekend recharge?

  • Sunday Selections

    This week it really felt like summer had arrived in Berlin; the days were warm and sunny and the city was buzzing with energy. Last weekend was a busy one trying to make the most of all Barcelona had to offer, so this weekend I’m taking it easy in my adopted city.

    Berlin Window

    WATCH: Last weekend in Barcelona, Ben and I met our friend, Ash Thorp, who was there to present the impressive short film for OFFF 2014 that he and an incredibly talented crew number had collaborated on. It is such a high quality piece with such impressive cinematography; I was just blown away when I saw it. You can check it out yourself here.

    READ: Travellers, we all feel the same way don’t we?

    COOK: Who would have thought that making your own homemade vanilla extract would be so darn easy? On the to-do list for sure.

    MAKE: My spice drawer at home is always a complete mess and I’m sure I’m not alone out there. Isn’t this DIY mason jar spice organiser the perfect solution? So simple!

    DREAM BUY: Visiting Antarctica truly is on my bucket-list and I really hope to see parts of this amazing continent in my lifetime. World Expeditions, an excellent Australian company specialising in sustainable travel, offers the perfect trip, the ‘Ross Sea Explorer’ which tracks the path of some of the earliest Antarctic explorers. It certainly comes at a price but what an adventure!

    BUDGET BUY: I just picked up this great little lip balm from & Other Stories this afternoon to brighten things up a little.

    GO: Accommodation in Belgrade for our friends’ wedding is locked in for the end of June. It’s going to be an epic weekend of celebration and I can’t wait.

    Have a lovely Sunday!

  • An Afternoon at Barceloneta Beach

    An Afternoon at Barceloneta Beach


    I couldn’t be more glad to see the back of winter this year. My first European winter was tough. And, apparently, it was a very mild one in comparison to previous years. Last year in Berlin it was still snowing over Easter. Slightly worrying. I can’t help but wonder whether the 2014/2015 winter will be extra brutal to make up for the ‘gentleness’ of this past one. I sure hope not. But in the meantime, now that the warmer weather has finally hit Europe, I intend to make the very most of these beautiful, balmy, summery months.

    Obviously, a visit to the beach whilst I was in Barcelona last weekend was a given. I don’t know what it is about the coast that is so comforting to me. The smell of the salty air, the sea breeze gently catching my hair, the squawk of sea birds as they hover above searching for an easy meal, the feel of the sand gently exfoliating my feet or the cool caress of the ocean around my ankles. I guess the beach just reminds me of home. As I slowly strolled along the water, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I breathed the sea air deeply and, turning my face into the warm sun, was full of gratitude. How lucky was I that I could fly to Barcelona for the weekend? That I could explore another ancient city, indulge in the best food and wander around the most picturesque of neighbourhoods, before taking a quick flight back to Berlin ready for work on Monday morning? Sometimes I really feel like pinching myself; I just feel so blessed to be living this life right now.

    Any visit to Barcelona should include an afternoon at Barceloneta beach. This strip of beach is located, unsurprisingly, in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, which is a traditional fishing district. Every day over the summer months, the beach is packed full of locals and tourists alike. The women are content sunbathing (topless of course), while the men enjoy a game of beach volleyball. Plenty of sunbeds are available to hire for a more comfortable few hours of sun worship, and roaming vendors selling fresh mojitos ensure that you will keep your hydration levels up. Finish your beach afternoon off with some fresh seafood or tapas at one of the bars along the beach or, better yet, at one of the more local hangouts in the small streets behind the beach in the Barceloneta neighbourhood. Guaranteed, you will end your day feeling pretty darn happy. I know I did.

    Barceloneta beach is easily accessible on the L4 line of the Metro. If you are staying in El Born, it is easily within walking distance.


    I’d love to hear about where you have enjoyed a day at the beach whilst you’ve been travelling. Share your experiences below!

  • El Born: Barcelona’s Best Neighbourhood

    Heading to Barcelona and not too sure which neighbourhood to base yourself in your stay? Two words: El Born.

    Very centrally located between the Gothic quarter and Parc Ciutadela, El Born is, without a doubt, Barcelona’s most picturesque and interesting neighbourhood. Gorgeous little restaurants and tapas bars line the tiny laneways that snake around this beautiful district, as do art galleries and hip boutiques. El Born’s medieval history is easily conjured here on a slow morning stroll through the cool, winding alleys lined with weathered stone. Hanging washing and lush greenery fill the balconies of the tiny apartments here and this splash of colour against the brown stonework makes it more than a little tricky to keep your eyes on the ground.

     El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    El Born, Barcelona

    The best option for accommodation in this neighbourhood is renting an authentic Catalonian apartment like this one through Airbnb. If a hotel is more your style, Chic & Basic is a great option too.

    What neighbourhood did you stay in Barcelona and what did you think?

  • Where to Find Great Tapas in Barcelona

    One of the major draw-cards of Spain is, undeniably, its cuisine. Food really does form the backbone that is Spanish culture and you really would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t give this aspect the highest priority!

    I don’t know about you, but whenever I visit a new city, I just can’t go without having thoroughly researched all the spots where I can find the best food. The tapas at these four little bars is truly divine-visit these places the next time you’re in Barcelona and you won’t be disappointed! You will find all of these in the hip El Born neighbourhood, which is also where you should base yourself during your stay.

    El Xampanyet

    I stumbled upon this chaotic little place after a morning down the laneway at the Picasso Museum. It first opened its doors in 1929 and looks and feels the same as it did 85 years ago. Even more impressive is the fact that it is still run by the same family. The energy in this little bar is extraordinary and the frenetic pace of the wait staff is something that is quite entertaining! Don’t miss the spanish tortilla, the fresh tomatoes or the house cava (local sparkling wine)-only 3 Euros a bottle!

    El Xampanyet, Barcelona

    El Xampanyet, Barcelona

    El Xampanyet, Barcelona

    Bar Brutal

    Missing this great little wine bar when in Barcelona would be a crime! Stocking 300 different varieties of wine, all organic, and serving high quality tapas made with the freshest of ingredients, it is a lovely way to spend an evening. Ensure that you make a reservation one or two days in advance as this place is always packed. Don’t miss one of their many seafood specials, such as the seared tuna. It’s just too good.

    Bar Brutal, Barcelona

    Bar Brutal, Barcelona

    Bar Brutal, Barcelona


    I adore everything about Bormuth and make sure I visit multiple times during my visits to Barcelona. I love sitting by the open windows, sipping on a glass of red wine and enjoying some delicious bites. Do not leave here without trying the jamon and manchego cheese plate, the iberico croquettes and the small breaded calamari. A single visit to Bormuth during your Barcelona stay will not be enough, I guarantee!

    Bormuth, Barcelona

    Bormuth, Barcelona

    Bormuth, Barcelona

    El Born Bar

    I stumbled upon this tiny bar that specialises in empanadas whilst wandering around my favourite Barcelona neighbourhood, El Born. It’s a lovely little spot to grab a cold Estrella and rest those weary feet. Don’t miss the beef empanadas (obviously)!

    El Born Bar, Barcelona

    El Born Bar, Barcelona

    Even though these little bars have won their place in my ‘favourites’ list, I’d love to hear your recommendations for other spots for great tapas around the city. I’m sure I’ll be heading back there soon enough!

  • Sunday Selections

    It’s been nothing but grey and cold in Berlin this past week, so I’m so happy to finally be soaking up some sun in Barcelona this weekend!

    Barcelona Rooftop

    WATCH: Check out this excellent short film, ‘Vienna waits for you’, directed by Dominik Hartl, available to watch on Vimeo. The film’s premise centres around a young woman searching for an apartment to rent in Vienna after recently breaking up with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, the flat that she settles has a life of its own, wanting to take more from her than just her monthly rent; a creature that survives on sucking the youth out of its tenants! With excellent production design, this really is a nice way to spend 26 minutes of your time.

    READ: Nicole’s gorgeous photos of Switzerland really do remind me that I must see this breathtaking part of Europe whilst I’m living over here.

    COOK: I love a good cocktail like any girl and recently had a killer one at my favourite cocktail bar in Berlin, John Muir. I also love the make at home variety and this rhubarb, grapefruit and thyme cocktail looks mighty tasty.

    MAKE: Don’t you think this idea of making your own clay magnets for your fridge is great? Finding little messages there would be such fun.

    DREAM BUY: Wouldn’t it just be a dream to stay at the Hotel d’Angleterre (est. 1755), in Copenhagen? I’ll take the Royal Suite thank you.

    BUDGET BUY: I have been budgeting pretty strictly this past week so that I can enjoy all that Barcelona has to offer guilt free this weekend. I love the fact that I can eat out in Berlin for 7 euros or less. My favourite go-to cheap dinner is a schawarma teller at Luxa on Torstraße in Mitte which contains a mouth-watering pile of spit-roasted chicken, crisp falafels, pickled vegetables, salad, tabouli, humous, chilli sauce, yoghurt sauce and oven-baked bread, all for 5 euros. Drool.

    GO: It’s a beautiful time to visit Barcelona right now. Tourist season has not fully hit the city just yet and the days are warm with temperatures in the low 20s and sunny. Unfortunately I can’t stay longer-I’m back on a plane to Berlin tonight ready for work on Monday morning!

  • 10 Must-see Sights In Istanbul

    So you’re off to Istanbul? Lucky you! There is so much to see and do in this exceedingly interesting and vibrant city. Here are ten things (in no particular order) not to miss during your stay.

    1. Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

    Known most famously for its extraordinary interior covered in blue iznic tiles, this truly is one of the most beautiful places of worship in the world.

    Blue Mosque, Istanbul

    Blue Mosque, Istanbul

    2. Grand Bazaar

    Although chaotic and now very touristy, one still cannot miss slowly strolling around the maze of shops overflowing with wares ranging from gold jewellery to turkish carpets to ornate ceramics. Bring your bargaining power!

    Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

    3. Spice Market

    Whilst breathing in the heady mix of spices and herbs, make sure you pick up some dried fruits or nuts as you wander around this bustling market in Eminönü. Constructed in the 1660s, it was originally built to sell Egyptian spices brought in from Cairo on the trade routes.

    Spice Market, Istanbul

    Spice Market, Istanbul

    Spice Market, Istanbul

    4. Galata Tower

    Built on a hilltop overlooking the Golden Horn, the Galata Tower was originally constructed by the Byzantines as a lighthouse. The Ottomans used it as a dungeon after they conquered the city and it was later used as a fire tower. The tower is visible from most areas of the city offers 360 degree views of Istanbul.

    Galata Tower, Istanbul

    5. Sip tea and smoke nargile with the locals.

    Do as the locals do and engage in their favourite pastime.

    Tea Cafe, Istanbul

    6. Topkapi Palace

    An opulent palace built for the Ottoman sultan after the conquest, Topkapi Palace is not to be missed. Perched on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, the grounds offer magnificent views. Leaving without a visit to the Harem is just not acceptable-why would you pass up the opportunity to wander around the beautiful living quarters of the sultan’s concubines?

    Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

    Harem, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

    Harem, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

    7. Gaze over to Asia from a rooftop bar

    Sip on a cocktail at 5 Kat as you watch the sun slowly set, lighting up Asia across the Bosphorus Strait.

    Bosphorus Sunset, Istanbul

    8. Bosphorus cruise

    Get out on the water and take a trip on one of Istanbul’s famous ferries. It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to sail between two continents after all!

    Bosphoros Strait, Istanbul

    9. Basilica Cistern

    Let your imagination run wild as you explore this ancient underground cistern, built to store water for the sultan’s palace.

    Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

    10. Aya Sofya

    Don’t miss Istanbul’s most famous monument! Constructed as a church in 537 and commissioned by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it became the greatest church of all of the Eastern Roman Empire. After the Ottoman conquest, it was transformed into a mosque and remained so until it was converted into a museum in the 1930s. It truly is an extraordinary structure with an incredible history.

    Aya Sofya, Istanbul

    Aya Sofya, Istanbul

  • Sunday Selections

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there in Australia! Today I’m wishing I could give my beautiful mum a great big hug and kiss and then take her out for a lovely brunch. Unfortunately, when you live half a world apart, this is not so easy. Instead, I’m sending these tulips, one of her favourite types of flower, through cyberspace to her. Love you mum!

    Red Tulips

    WATCH: There is so much truth in this little video. It’s common sense, no? I think we could all do with a little reminder every now and again.

    READ: This breathtaking photographic essay on northern India definitely makes me want to head back there one day!

    COOK: Doesn’t this lemongrass pork meatball quinoa bowl from the brilliant ‘I am a Food Blog’ look so delicious and healthy? Mid-week meal it is.

    MAKE: I would love to make one of these framed succulent tapestries one day for my future little courtyard. Such a great little project!

    DREAM BUY: The spring weather over the past week or so has been a little on the cooler side and, even through we’re heading towards the middle of May, next week is forecast to hover around 15 degrees most days. I’m dreaming of warmer places today, wishing I could transport myself to this gorgeous villa on Bali’s (quieter) north coast.

    BUDGET BUY: I wish there was an Oysho store in Berlin. They sell such cute little summer dresses, like this one for €27.99.

    GO: I just booked a gorgeous little Airbnb apartment in Rome for my little sojourn there next month. It’s in a perfect, central location and within walking distance of all major sights. Now to begin the most important job: gelato-mapping the city!