Archive for July, 2014

  • 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.

  • Berlin Scooter Style

    It was hot in Berlin today and this afternoon called for a little stroll down to my favourite local café, Bonanza Coffee Heroes, for a refreshing iced flat white with agave syrup. On my way, I couldn’t help but to snap these pictures of these darling Vespas that seemed to adorn the footpaths everywhere I turned.

    Scooter, Berlin

    Scooter, Berlin

    Scooter, Berlin

    Cute, no? I am in love with the green one and could definitely see myself zipping around town on that little beauty. Now if only I had a licence!

    Which is your favourite?


  • Biergarten Bliss at Café am Neun See

    Could there be a more perfect way to while away a summer afternoon than by relaxing in one of Berlin’s lovely Biergartens? Combine this gorgeous view with an ice cold Löwenbrau (can you believe this beer has been brewed in Munich since 1383?!) a pretzel, and a comfy spot under the old chestut trees and you’re guaranteed to think that life couldn’t get any better.

    If you’re looking for a tranquil setting to enjoy a brew in Berlin, Cafe am Neuen See, located in the middle of Tiergarten, is the place to be.

    Berlin Biergarten

    After your thirst has been sufficiently quenched, a slow meander around the lush, serene gardens is a delight.

    Berlin Biergarten

    Berlin Biergarten

    Or perhaps hiring a little rowboat to paddle down the lake could also be fun? Slowly drifting down the stream past gliding ducks — how dreamy.

    Berlin, Tiergarten

    In any case, frequenting one of Berlin’s Biergartens in the summertime is a must and memories of the brutal winter will have been well and truly erased after an afternoon full of sun and beer. Long live summer!

    Address: Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787, Berlin, +49 (0) 30 2544930

    Opening Hours: Mon- Fri from 11am, Sat-Sun from 10am

    What do you love to do during the summertime in your city?

  • Sunday Selections

    Happy Sunday folks! I’m in a glorious mood because I have finished up at work for the summer and am now indulging in a beautiful six weeks of summer holidays. Life is good huh?

    Berlin architecture


    WATCH: This beautiful little video has just added more fuel to the fire of my forever burning wanderlust. The Canary Islands? On the list!

    READ: Oh Paris. When can I come back? Irene Suchocki’s gorgeous photos make me want to book a flight tomorrow.

    EAT: I want to devour every single one of these superfood smoothies, but especially the berry coconut one with chia seeds.

    MAKE: I adore these DIY travel craft projects. So many great ideas.

    DREAM BUY: Now that I’ve become used to the low cost of living in Berlin, I was horrified by the prices of Melbourne’s drinks when I visited back in March. $18 - 25 for a cocktail? I’m used to paying only €6 - 7! But can you believe that the world’s most expensive cocktail on record stands at $50,000 in Moscow? Insane! Although it was reported to include three 1.5 carat diamonds… Check out this article on 6 of the most extravagant cocktails in the world for some concoctions only for the rich and famous.

    BUDGET BUY: Thanks to my darling little sister, I have now discovered Zinio! How was I unaware of this treasure trove until now? For a whole year I mourned the fact that I could no longer access my favourite English language magazines. Well, that’s not 100% accurate — I could get my hands on some of them, but their retail prices were often three times that of back home and for a lady on a budget, this was an indulgence I couldn’t really justify. Until now! Zinio has an incredible resource of over 5,500 publications, all of which you can purchase digital copies for a much cheaper price than retail editions. Digital library building here I go!

    GO: This weekend I get to play tourist guide to some friends from back home who are touring around Europe on their honeymoon. I get to show off ‘my city’ which is loads of fun, so I’m more than content to hang around ‘home’ for now.

  • Agonda: The Most Peaceful Beach in Goa, India

    India is like no other place on Earth. It is a nation filled to the brim with life, colour and energy. But chaos and poverty also compete fiercely here. It is a land of incessant contrasts and, as Mark Twain once so eloquently described:

    This is indeed India!

    The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday’s bear date with the mouldering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.

    -Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897


    Yes, India is something else. It will leave an indelible mark on you. You will love it and hate it at the same time and, all the while, will travel with an insatiable intrigue and a thirst to understand the complexities of this ancient land.

    At some stage, however, weariness will begin to seep in and you’ll feel the need to escape the chaos and frenetic energy of the north and follow the sun southwest to the beach to recharge.

    If you’re searching for solitude and peace, look no further than Agonda Beach in southern Goa. A tiny, sleepy little beach town, Agonda boasts only the necessities: a handful of restaurants, a few tiny shops and some cute little beach huts built along the 3km stretch of pristine beach. Perfect.

    Agonda, Goa, India

    Agonda, Goa, India

    Agonda, Goa, India

    Agonda White Sands, Goa, India

    There is a range of accommodation options available. I opted to stay at the beautiful Agonda Villas which is owned by Agonda White Sand.

    Agonda White Sands, Goa, India

    The villas are a lovely option if you are looking for a little bit of luxury. Situated right on the beachfront, it really is a perfect way to unwind. Breakfast will be brought to your terrace each morning by the lovely, attentive staff who take your order when you wake.

    Agonda Villas, Goa, India

    Days should be spent simply wandering along the pristine coast, swimming or sunbathing. Perhaps you could hire a motorcycle for a daytrip up to Cabo de Rama (one of the oldest forts in Goa) if you feel so inclined?

    Agonda Beach, Goa, India

    Or maybe one of the sweet staff who attend the villas will offer to decorate your arm with a beautiful henna tattoo?

    Henna, Goa, India

    And remember that, because this is India, sights like this won’t be uncommon.

    Agonda Beach, Goa, India

    And because this is Goa, there will be hippies playing bongos as the sun slowly sets.

    Agonda, Goa, India

    You’ll end your day feeling so incredibly relaxed as you gaze into the spectacular sunset from your private terrace. Perfect.

    Sunset, Agonda, Goa, India

    Sunset, Goa, India

    After the sun sets, be sure to enjoy some fresh, tandoori snapper at one of the local restaurants. Delicious.

    Length of stay: 6 nights over Christmas.

    Price of accommodation: 9,000 rupees (AU $160) per night for the Luxury Cottages at this time of year.

    Getting there: From Goa’s main airport, the easiest way to reach Agonda Beach is by taxi. It will take around an hour and cost approximately 1,000 to 1,500 rupees (AU $18 to $27).

    How have you combined a ‘relaxation’ component in your travels?

  • 48 Hours in Rome

    Heading to Rome for a whirlwind few days? Lucky you! Here’s a mini-guide to what you should see, do, eat and drink in this incredible ancient city. In 48 hours you will only scratch the surface and, no doubt, you will be planning your return trip before you’ve even left.

    DAY 1

    Most likely you will have spent most of Day 1 travelling, so by the time you arrive into Rome you’ll be starving. Head to dinner around the Campo de Fiori area, although never eat on a piazza in Europe. Food here will be overpriced and unauthentic. Instead, wander past the square and along the winding streets until you find a little place that, ideally, has a menu only in Italian which tells you that this restaurant is geared towards locals rather than tourists.

    After dinner, go walking. I love exploring at night — cities take on a completely different personality. Perhaps wander along the Tiber and up to the Vatican.

    Tiber, Rome, Italy

    The Vatican, Rome, Italy

    A delightful way to begin the weekend, no?

    DAY 2

    Ensure that you set the alarm this morning and get out and about early, so as to make the most of the precious day. Begin your day as the Italians do: with a coffee and a cornetto at a little cafe nearby. Remember, don’t ask for a croissant — the Italian cornetto, although very similar, is not the same as the French pastry. Cornettos are much sweeter and have more of a bread-like texture, like brioche.

    Italian Breakfast: Cornetto and Coffee

    Now you are ready for some serious exploring!

    If it’s still early, wander down to the Pantheon to admire this extraordinary structure before the throngs of tourists arrive. Of all the ancient structures in Rome, the Pantheon, built as a temple to all of the Gods of ancient Rome, is one of the best-preserved.

    Pantheon, Rome, Italy

    Since it is a place of worship, entry is free, so don’t miss the oculus. The fact that even after 2,000 years, the Pantheon’s dome remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in existence will make you stare simply in awe.

    Oculus, Pantheon, Rome, Italy

    Of course, the big-ticket item has to be a visit to the Colosseum. Get there as early as humanly possible, although this place will be swamped with tourists no matter what time of day. A ticket to the Colosseum also allows you entry into the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill which is excellent value. A standard ticket will cost 12 Euros. To skip the queues, it is recommended that you try one of the following options:

    • Buy your ticket online beforehand here.
    • Don’t buy your ticket at the Colosseum. Instead, purchase it at Palatine Hill, which is very close to the Colosseum, and this combined ticket gives you entry to all three sites. The queues at Palatine Hill are miniscule in comparison to those at the Colosseum next door.
    • If you’re determined to go directly to the Colosseum, you need to be smart about it. To skip the queues, opt for the audio guide option in addition to your ticket price. This will enable you to go straight to the audio guide counter where you can also purchase your entry ticket.

    The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

    The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

    After a busy morning of sightseeing in tourist-central, you’ll be in need of a reprieve. Wander down to the charming neighbourhood of Trastevere for a break from the busyness. Stroll through the colourful cobblestoned laneways and find a quiet spot for lunch.

    Trastevere, Rome, Italy

    A fresh, nutritious farmer’s platter at Kmzero will be just what you need.

    Farmer's Platter, KMzero, Trastevere, Rome, Italy

    Let your lunch digest with an hour or two spent getting lost on this side of the river.

    Undoubtedly, by now, you will be in need of a refreshment and sipping an aperitif before dinner is a must when in Rome. Order a couple of negronis and enjoy them out on the street.

    Negronis, Rome, Italy

    As the sun sinks lower, it will be time to decide on a destination for dinner. A meal at La Fiaschetta perhaps?

    Italian cuisine, Rome, Italy

    DAY 3

    Get out and about early again this morning to make the very most of your last day in Rome. Grab a coffee and cornetto to go and make your way to the Roman Forum — the oldest and most significant structure in Rome. before the crowds. Make sure you rent an audio guide or join a guided tour so as to fully appreciate and understand the scattered ruins of this incredible archaeological site.

    Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

    After marvelling at Rome’s fascinating history all morning, it is surely time for a gelati. Don’t miss Gelateria San Crispino near the Pantheon. The grapefruit sorbet was my pick. Delicious.

    Gelato, Rome, Italy

    Enjoy it in one of Rome’s beautiful piazzas nearby.

    Roman Piazza

    Heading into the afternoon, ensure that you make time for a visit to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. If the Gods decide to open the heavens, be thankful as it will most probably mean that you will have these sights mostly to yourself, like I did.

    Rome, Italy

    48 hours in Rome is a flying visit but I’m sure this won’t be your only visit to the eternal city.

    What other things are ‘must-dos’ on a mini break in Rome? I’d love for some suggestions for my next trip!

  • Sunday Selections

    Happy Sunday folks! This weekend has been so lovely. Not only is it the first weekend in about a month where I’ve been home in Berlin and able to just relax and enjoy life without work pressures niggling, but I also welcomed back three special friends this weekend! The fact that temperatures have pushed beyond the 30 degree mark again makes for extra smiles.

    Graffiti, Mauer Park, Berlin

    WATCH: This TED talk by Amy Cuddy on how ‘your body language shapes who you are’ makes so much sense. I think it’s important to become more conscious of how we communicate non-verbally.

    READ: This great story on 23 things people who love their lives are doing differently is a must-read for us all. This little list applies to everyone, in all situations and in all stages of life and I think that if we can focus on even just a couple of items on this list, we will notice a huge change in our level of happiness and sense of fulfilment.

    EAT: Beach body preparation is in full swing and I’m trying to eat as many of these foods that I can!

    MAKE: Aren’t these DIY crate shelves great?

    DREAM BUY: Can someone please buy this Brooklyn loft apartment for me? Thanks.

    BUDGET BUY: I’ll have this cute floral playsuit for summer too.

    GO: I have a free international return train ticket to be used by the end of this month and I’m busy planning the perfect destination. I’m thinking Copenhagen would be fun!

    Have a lovely, relaxing Sunday. I’m about to head down to Berlin’s Mauerpark to check out the Sunday karaoke, have some drinks with friends and soak up some rays. Life is good!