Becoming Bondi Hipsters

Hi.   Sorry I’ve neglected you. Or, well, I guess it’s mostly just me. Thing is, I’ve stopped traveling and I guess that was a little bit scary. But the truth is, I’ve never been constantly in motion. I’ve always been an expat of sorts (serial or not) and I’m still just that. So, here’s an Instagram tour of my new home. Guess what my new home has? A Beach. A Farmer’s Market. Hipsters. Surfers. Sunrises. And these are a few of my favourite things.   See you soon.

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City2Surf – Sydney’s Famous 14k

I’ve always liked to think of myself as a runner, when the reality was that, although a serial ‘brisk jogger’, a short-distance jaunter, I’ve never truly known sheer distance. I stood packed shoulder to shoulder in the blistering cold of Sunday 12th of August on the street along Sydney’s Hyde Park and all I could think was, ‘what was I thinking?’. My bladder was getting more full by the moment and my wishing it away wasn’t helping. My decidedly elite workmates bounced lightly on their feet next to me with anticipation of broken personal records and defeating Heartbreak Hill. I considered walking home. Then the loudspeaker announced that the race had officially started and the block of Sydney-siders began winding sideways around the corner of William Street and just like that we were off. All I could think was that I’ve really got my nose into it now, but what could I really do, walk off the course? As the first pit stop approached my Nike+ GPS chirped that I’d ran my first mile. That seemed like a good enough excuse to hop in the line for the (still shockingly clean) porta-potty. Sure it probably added 10 minutes to my time but now I can be even more proud of myself when I shave extra time off next year. Bladder empty and breath caught, off I trotted and straight into the face of hill #1, so I picked up my pace and put it behind me. A few Gatorade stops, a high-five from a resident smurf which left my hand covered in blue paint and a few transitions from running to walking and back and I realized and I began the ascent onto the dreaded and famous Heartbreak Hill. Until I started calling myself a Strategist at work, I would have never stopped to think that strategizing was something that I even did but as I started up the hill, my brain said ‘Stop now, save it for later.’ Maybe it sounds like a copout, but honestly why use of all my energy running up a 2km hill when I knew that reaching the top still meant I had another 5km to go. So, I slowed my pace and my breathing and tried to keep my walk steady. A kilometer or so later I was looking back across to the city I had just run from and it looked small…

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Is travel age-appropriate?

Today L and I were talking about travel and where we stand; our place in the world at this point in time. The visa talk is one that we have often, as we sit stuck between knowing what we can and can’t choose next. As I said in a previous post, I want to settle down a bit, and I’m okay with that because I know that I’ll never stop traveling. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days that I feel envious and wonder if I’m hanging up my backpack prematurely. Australia is an infamous backpacker destination, where young gap years and thrill-seekers run around the East Coast crowding into backpacker bars and doing all they can to sleep two to a bed in giant dorm rooms. To be honest, I’ve seen the backpacker trail, although I didn’t do it quite by the standards (if you are even allowed to call them that) but I don’t have a huge desire to see those places again. The more I talked about the dilemma of the words ‘traveler’, and ‘backpacker’ the more I realized that I no longer believed that a dilemma existed. When I think about the possibility of sticking around Sydney and working in my office job for another few years, the only thing that makes me seize up a tiny bit on the inside is that I might loose the freedom of a working holiday traveler. If my travels become spread along a string of annual leave days, suddenly I loose the freedom of choosing where I go and for how long when I’m already there. I may have to meticulously plan my holidays and I will loose the freedom to ever be ‘free’ as a traveler in this country again, as I’m here now. It sounds scary, and it did scare me for a while. And then I started telling L about my fears and realized that the feeling of fear was not accompanying the word fear. Would you rather this be your local or a quick stop on your way through town? I have no trips left that I feel like need to be done in a certain way, I know that the way I do them, is the way they were meant to be done. I never really felt limited by age, I can just as easily see myself as a 30-something toting a backpack through…

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Best Italian Pizza Places in Sydney

I know that I complained a lot when I was living in Italy. I tried to keep it in, but I’ll indulge you with a little piece of shear honesty here, Italy is NOT perfect. Under the Tuscan Sun may be a true story but remember how frustrated she got in it, remember the faucets that didn’t work and the walls that crumbled down? It’s a lot of that. Plus, there’s the whole government and immigration system and not to mention the Italians that only speak to you in English regardless of which language you speak to them in and regardless of the fact that they don’t actually know English. Sure, I made plenty of mistakes and was ignorant. I’m human. But this post isn’t about life in Italy, that is just a preface to what I’m about to say. I freaking miss Italian pizza. I’ve written about it a few times, and I’m sure L is tired of hearing me talk about it. But seriously, I could use a bit of O’ Scugnizzo in my life. See, we were really spoiled because there was the best pizza place in all of Florence literally around the corner from our flat. I could eat there every single night, no problem. It’s been tough going living without my beloved Naplitano pizzamen (they even spoke Italian with me!) but I’ve had to make do here in Sydney. I’ve done my research fair and square and I’ve discovered some great and some mediocre. A real Italian Pizza: photo credit It’s the crust that has been getting me. It’s not that I can’t appreciate non-Italian pizza, see Hugo’s for example, lovely pizza, flavours and in no way do they seem to claim that they are authentic. And to be honest the pizza is good, for all different reasons. Hugo’s  As for flavor, Hugo’s gets my 100% approval. For authenticity, I won’t go there. It’s too good to compare it to something it’s not. Plus, to add to the lure, the Kings Cross (original) location is a popular spot to start an evening out. Photo Credit: tacit requiem The pizza won’t disappoint as long as you aren’t expected to be transported to Italy. Hugo’s has locations at 33 Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross & Manly Wharf East Esplanade.  Mad Pizza My unplanned visit to Mad Pizza and my blasé French waiter were probably what intrigued me to…

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St. Paddy’s Day, Ireland and Italian Pizza

Between pints of Guinness over the weekend*, hints of words of a blog post floated through my head. When it all came together on paper, it just wasn’t enough. I came up with a couple good lines and then was left with no idea how to finish the story. The truth is that this time last year we were in Ireland, and it was amazing. I’ve told you all about the amazing Irish locals we met, the ones that now know our life story and are somewhere wandering the middle of Ireland remembering us just the same as we remember them**. We were in the homeland, celebrating the homeland’s holiday. Pure bliss. The story goes that we met on St. Paddy’s Day in an Irish Pub in the Newtown suburb of Sydney. He followed me around the bar all night while I actively attempted to ignore him and he spilled his life story in Italian-tainted English. I politely listened but really didn’t pay that close of attention. The details I remembered late the next day was only that he was in a band. That was three years ago.  This year we celebrated our 3 year anniversary by taking a seat in one of the most Italian places in all of Sydney. Every waiter in the place was so Italian that I actually didn’t have the choice to speak in English when Lorenzo’s true identity was revealed to our waiter (a whole two words in). So just to reiterate; we celebrated our 3 year anniversary as an Italian-American couple in the middle of Sydney on an Irish holiday in the most Italian restaurant in the city. This is my life. But it’s pretty good. Without further ado, I give you, [one year and] two days late: A recap of my Ireland photos. Enjoy!   Cliffs of Moher Ireland is the most photogenic country I’ve been to yet. Very little editing needed on these photos. Galway, Ireland along the ‘Prom’. The River Liffey. Perfect lunch in our favorite spot in Dublin; St. Stephen’s Green. It’s a secret. Happy St. Paddy’s Day, I hope you drank green beer!   Disclaimer: *That is a blatant lie. **They do not remember us, surely.

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Confessions of a Wannabe Business Woman.

As a traveller, constantly in motion, sometimes you stop to catch your breath and you get a little too comfortable. Sometimes it may start to feel that you aren’t a traveller at all anymore. There is a balance, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to keep. The most important thing is to remember why you are here in the first place. What is it that you love about here? I love Sydney, first and foremost for the amazing memories it brought me and the immense life lessons learned. You never forget your first experience abroad. I had to decipher my first French accent here, I got on my first international flight alone, I traveled with someone I hardly knew and I got to choose exactly what life I wanted to live. My choices depended on no one but me. Now, back after two long years, Sydney is a city that I get to discover all over again, every day. Back then I was so happy to go to exactly the same Irish pub ten minutes away from my house every single night out. I was happy to go out four nights a week (hey, I was still in Uni). Classes were secondary. Today I’m here, living a ‘real’ life. I have friends that want to go for after-work drinks. I commute with the city bus crowd. I have to wait for a second bus if the first one is too full. How did I get here? I love it here.  I travel because I want to meet the world. There are so many people out there and they have so much to teach. I want to see the sights, the kind of history that my own countrymen could only dream they knew in their own backyards. Most travelers will shun me for saying it, maybe it’s sacrilegious by means of some traveller’s code, but the truth is that I love my job. I love my 9-5. I love it. Maybe I’ll change my mind, I’m still new to this world but the truth is that at 25-years old, it’s about time. I won’t say that I’ll be in this kind of position my whole life but for now it is exactly where I want to be. I have travel plans and I will realize them whether in the next three months or the next three years but right now,…

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Life with your nose pressed against the glass: lessons in gratitude

Sydney, AUS Lately, I’ve spent many an evening in my bed, relaxing and elevating my aching feet. Since one week after arriving in Sydney I have been a full-time working waitress at a hotel down on Sydney Harbour. At the job I’ve met some amazing people, some of my first new friends in Sydney, and some of whom I hope to stay friends with. But the problem is that I have been using my 4:20 am alarm clock as an excuse to do next-to-nothing. I come home from work, sometimes after working 9-10 hours and sometimes after just 7 and all I want to do is sit down. Plans of hopping on the bus to visit friends in Bondi are foiled when I realize that if I close my eyes at this moment I would be out cold and, anyway, I have to be up at the same time tomorrow and the 45 minute commute would get me home past my bedtime.   Where I should be. The truth is that I have just been making excuses for myself. Sure, I’m tired. Sure, I have ridiculous working hours. But guess what? This is still my life. When I was in Florence, I got scared. I had made a drastic life decision; uprooted myself and moved to a country I had barely given a second thought just for some guy. I got scared. I landed and realized I didn’t speak Italian, I didn’t know how the country or city ran and I had no idea what to expect. I was disappointed by what I found and I was thrown into a self-inflicted reclusiveness to save myself from embarrassment. Venturing out meant that I couldn’t get done what I wanted. Simple transactions at the supermarket or bank became a nightmarish debacle when I cut someone in line or was given the wrong change. The system was so different. Throw in my being jobless (and Lorenzo having a normal 8am-6pm work schedule) and I simply locked myself in. I made excuses like, the shopping can wait for Lorenzo so that we can decide together what to eat. I don’t really need to go out and get a new sweater because I have some here and I can’t afford it. The list went on. Braving the city streets to explore Florence. Things did get better in Florence but I still found myself to be…

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Best Brekky Spot in Sydney: my research so far

Sydney, AUS It all started one wintery Sunday in Florence. We had an invitation to one of the well-known expat restaurants in town to enjoy their famous Sunday brunch. It was a company thing actually, our little travel agency had been running the brunch for years and to be honest, the promotion wasn’t go too well that particular semester and as it was being put on by our boss, what better way to get the word out than invite all of the favorite tour guides along. As I watched the beautifully bulbous glass filled with red tomato-y goodness arriving to my table and tasted the first sip of the deliciously spicy Bloody Mary, I was hooked. Of course, I won’t even speak of the hashbrowns. Some secrets are meant to be kept. Our Sunday meetings at that little restaurant became a tradition and brunch became an obsession. I may or may not have even waited in a three-hour line to try the famous eggs benedict and french toast platter at Mama’s on Washington Square in San Fran. So what does that mean for Sydney? I welcome a new challenge willingly. It started with a couple of morning stops at the local cafe which sits on our street corner but from there, recommendation after recommendation means that I have been able to try some of the best places in Sydney. My work is far from over here but I wanted to share with you some of my favorites. Cafe Ish: This was a recommendation from the lovely Heather as one of her favorite breakfast stops in the city and it did not disappoint. Christine and I chose this as our meeting spot on one of her sporadic weekend ventures to Sydney and we vowed to both try something delicious, no matter the price! After a bit of debate I opted for the fabulous crab omelette, a recommendation from Heather, which included tempura crab and avocado. As someone who is typically not a fan of omelets, it was fabulous. The cuisine at Cafe Ish is classified as Australian/Japanese fusion and that is exactly what it is. This little Surry Hills spot reminded me what I love so much about the creativity of Australian chefs. The coffee was phenomenal as well! Cafe Ish is located at 82 Campbell St., Surry Hills. Cafe Giulia: This was a random hint from a former Chippo resident.…

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Wayward ABC’s: Travel Stories

Sydney, AUS I was nominated twice (can we say populuuurr) by the amazing Miss Melly Boo herself of TheMellyBooProject and also by one of my favorite new blogging friends Bobbi of Heels and Wheels to participate in this fun little meme floating around the travel blogosphere these days. So, without further ado… A: Age you went on your first international trip: That depends on if you want to count Canada. At the time I crossed the border for the first time you didn’t even need a passport to do it. Things have changed now and since then I hopped on my first ever international flight to Puerta Vallarta when I was 21, and not long after I took the trip to Sydney that changed everything. I didn’t even know I wanted to travel when I got on that plane! B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: Hmmm, I have been testing out some of the tasty craft brews that Sydney has to offer in the past couple months, and shamelessly comparing them to the list of the Northwest at home. Otherwise, I’d venture to say that the beer in Munich is pretty delicious and Guinness really does taste better in Ireland and as a once avid hater, I have reformed. C: Cuisine (favorite): Don’t make me choose please. The Italian in Italy is pretty much impossible to beat (or replicate), but I do prefer a little kick. I love Thai, Indian and Mexican but am always a fan of trying new things, especially when spice is involved. D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Favorite is Sydney (obviously!) and Whistler definitely tops the list. Bars full of partying Aussie snowboarders, yes please! Least favorite would be Corfu in Greece. I’m sure that it had nothing to do with the careless and rude hostel workers or the “jizz-cuzzi” at the famous Pink Palace hostel. Students wait to get on the famous Pink Palace Booze Cruise… oh the memories… E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: While I’m in the moment traveling, I can never quite grasp the magnitude of what is actually happening and it is always someone else’s life that looks like a fairytale. That said, I think that my Italian Christmas was one of the few times that I was able to smack myself in the middle of the moment and enjoy experiences another culture, one…

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2012: New Year’s in Sydney, Australia

2012 NYE in Sydney, Australia

Sydney, AUS This was the year I had been waiting for, after celebrating a less-than-exciting welcome into 2011 in Florence, Italy, I was going to have an amazing time in Sydney. We found out that Lorenzo’s parents were coming for a visit around the New Year back in November but they had originally planned to be traveling at the time so Lorenzo and I were hard at work deciding what we’d do. As the time passed, we had less and less of an idea of where we’d ring in the new year. Originally, I had thougth it best that we just arrive bright and early around to Circular Quay and wait it out. Then the factor of bad weather, or weather too good to be true came, into play and we thought maybe we should have a back-up plan. Eventually, my friend Joey mentioned that her office building, which sits just over Luna Park was open for the evening to employees and friends of employee with an open bar, a balcony and a BBQ. Lorenzo and I thought we’d found our heaven. Then, Lorenzo’s parents decided they’d stay in Sydney for NYE and we were back to square one.  As we trudged through Darling Harbour in mid-afternoon, I was getting angry and acting a little bit like a spoiled kid. You see, Lorenzo can have a very chilled out way of looking at things, often meaning that the planning is left to me and when I am confronted with too many ideas, nothing gets done. At 3 o’clock on the day, we still weren’t sure where we’d end up and I was not about to miss out on seeing the most famous fireworks in the world.  We quickly made our way to Pirrama Park at the water’s edge in Pyrmont, all the way I was dead set that we wouldn’t even have a view of the Harbour Bridge and we’d be forced to run back to Circular Quay or hop on a ferry, any ferry, to the north shore. However, we arrived to a park pleasantly scattered with families and food stalls and a perfect view of the back side of the Coat Hanger. I was forced to hold back a smile and eat my words as Lorenzo said I told you so. That will teach me to act like a spoiled little kid. We walked up to Harris Street…

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