52 Hours In Brisbane

So I’ve been quite absent of late. Hell, it’s been a few weeks, which is kind of annoying because I was doing so darn well with the weekly posts! But sometimes life gets in the way I guess (which is not even an exaggeration, because I started re-watching Stranger Things a couple of weeks ago and I’m STILL only half way through. First attempt took us less than 24 hours).

Anyway, I’m currently sitting at the Cairns airport, waiting for yet another flight for a new adventure (this one has unfortunately been delayed because of technical difficulties – not exactly what you want to hear at 5:30am in the morning) so I figured it was about time I did a write up about my whirlwind adventure in Brisbane a few weeks back. Man, it feels like a lifetime ago when in reality it’s only been 3 weeks since touchdown.

It was an absolute blast of a long weekend, and I had so much fun with the couple of gal pals that I caught up with (and massive props to Tayla for giving me a warm bed/navigating all of my train travels because I am officially bloody useless when it comes to timetables), and ya know, Amity was pretty darn good as well.

 

Day 1: Thursday 18th August

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8:30am: Touchdown in a very gloomy, misty Brisbane. The weather did not look promising in the slightest, especially because I had a full day planned of shopping and wandering and museums, but I was keen to brave it anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Brisbane has a special little nook in my heart. I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand why, but I frigging adore that place. Being there actually brightens my soul and I always feel so inspired and spirited and yeah. The public transport system and I are NOT friends yet.

 

12:00pm: After a 3 train rides and 2 Ubers (during all of which I was completely useless and confused – panic texting Tayla every two minutes to make sure I was catching the right train & running away from terrorist pigeons) I finally made it to Keppera and back into the city again. I wish I was one of those gals who is super savvy when it comes to navigation, but I frigging SUCK. Lucky for switched on friends, eh? ANYWAY. Location: Queen St Mall. Objective: Find delicious brunch food. Outcome: Very, very successful. We hit up Brew, this really cool underground café/bar in one of the lanes off Queen St. I’ve been there before and absolutely DIED when I had their Haloumi bagel, so I knew only good things could come from a second visit. I had the Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap and Tayla had the Breakfast Mince with fresh juices and both were big ticks in our books.

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1:00pm: Tayla went off to work and I was determined to FINALLY make it across the bridge and go to the bloody museum. Every time I go to Brisbane I always prattle on about how I’m going to go to all of the cool museums and galleries and cafes when in reality I shop and shop and shop and MIGHT go see a movie. So after a bit of, ah, shopping, I made the stroll over to Southbank and went to the Queensland Museum to check out their Dinosaur Discovery exhibit. Pretty sure I went at the perfect time of day, because there was hardly anyone there so I had PLENTY of opportunities to take goofy Boomerangs of all of the mechanic dinosaurs and try and sneak in a few selfies (solo selfies in public are actually so much harder than you’d think :p). But in all seriousness, it was such a cool and informative experience, and even though I’m pretty sure it’s targeted at children, I had an absolute blast. Would 10/10 recommend, no matter what age you are.

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4:00pm: Back to Queen St Mall for more “window shopping”. I had a couple of hours to kill before Tayla finished work so I wandered around the mall and ended up retreating to a warm and cosy Starbucks because a) my feet were killing me, and b) I had hit a wall with the whole 3 hours sleep thing. After a caramel hot chocolate and a much needed phone charge (I was definitely in full tourist mode, snapping my little heart out every time I saw a cute building or, well, dinosaur) I was back in the streets.

 

8:00pm: Vegetarian nachos and Tequila and Pink Lemonade slushies at Guzmen Y Gomez – an absolutely rad Mexican place I first visited in Byron. We ended up walking back over to Southbank from the Transit Centre, and it was such a nice little walk. Wandering along the river gives you a lovely view of the city and bridge lights, and is definitely a must do if you’re ever there. Despite my sleep deprivation, we were keen to hit up the Cineplex theatre at Southbank (which is conveniently right across the road from GYG – bonus!) because it’s ridiculously cheap and always has a good range of movies. We saw Suicide Squad (6/10 – the first hour was a little rusty but once the gang actually got together it was pretty darn cool) and then absolutely froze our asses off on the way home. Brisbane at night is MUCH colder than Brisbane during the day. TAKE NOTE.

 

Day 2: Friday 19th August
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10:30am: Back in Queen St. Back eating. This time at Jo Jo’s, who make a killer Acai bowl for a very affordable $11. We sat out on the balcony and darn was it nice. The sun was shining, the city was alive and the food was good. What more can you really ask for? After MORE shopping (yes, I know. It’s a problem. I didn’t actually buy that much, but there was definitely a lot of stores to look at, which is always a refreshing after bouncing between the same 2 shopping centres back in Cairns) Tayla headed off to work and I was left to uh, shop.

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3:00pm: I was officially shopped out, and I’m sure my bank account was pleased. I decided to visit Dymocks bookstore (the Queen St one is my favourite bookstore in Queensland. The variety there is amazing and the smell – oh, the smell! Thousands of fresh books – aka my favourite scent in the world), picked up a book (‘Pieces of Sky’ by Trinity Doyle, which I chat more indepthly about here) and set up shop in Bonsai Botanika for a few hours.

 

7:30pm: Running frantically late, as per usual, I made it to the Tivoli with plenty of time to catch Trophy Eyes and The Amity Affliction. Both bands frigging rocked, making me fall in love with Trophy Eyes and then in love all over again with Amity, who performed their best set that I’ve seen so far (round 5, in case you were wondering :p). I went with one of my Brisbane friends and we had such a fun time. Kasey, if you’re reading this, then thank you for such a fun night. Thank god for girls with good music taste!

 

Day 3: Saturday 20th August

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10:30am: And guess where we were again? Brisbane Bloody City. For convenience purposes, of course. But mostly for food and to get some goodies from Lush. After being dropped off in a random street in the city, we stumbled upon Z bar, this super chilled café/bar that caught our eye with their out-of-this-world breakfast prices. $10 for a big breakfast? As if we could walk past that! And despite the “seems too good to be true” price tag, the food was amazing and the coffee was so darn good it could turn me into a coffee addict with the stir of a spoon.

1:00pm: A mad rush to Krispy Kreme before smuggling my 3 carry on bags onto the plane.

 

And adios, Brisbane! As you read, it was an absolutely hectic few days in my favourite city, and even though I can home broke and bone cold tired, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Hope you enjoyed!

 

Till next time,

Viv x

Nandroya Falls On Film – 2015

Aloha friends,

Annnnnnnd I’m back with another On Film post – what a surprise. It’s been such a treat being able to get all of my old rolls developed (finally), so I figured I might as well add them on here too for some easy and oh-so-tropical content.

I’m pretty sure this was my first roll of film taken on my Canon, so I had no idea what I was doing or how to operate any of the settings. So expect a lot of blurry greenery and cascading waterfalls. 

Enjoy!

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Me, being a potato.

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Brisbane on Film – November, 2015

Aloha friends,

Here is another roll of film FINALLY developed. I took these snaps back in November, 2015 when I flew down to Brisbane to see Fleetwood Mac. I wanted to experiment with the different angles of the city buildings and got some pretty darn cool results from it.

Enjoy 🙂

Viv  x

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The studio where I got my first tattoo (2013)

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A Snapshot of Our Time in NYC (Circa 2012)

Sometimes, I look at pictures of New York and forget that I ever walked along its streets. It feels like it was another lifetime ago – packing my bags for three weeks away to the U.S., dealing with all sorts of mixed emotions but always coming back to one: I was finally getting to visit my dream city. 

Now of course, we didn’t spend NEARLY enough time there to even scratch the surface, but we did have a jam-packed few days and I remember loving every single second of it (even when I was arguing with my parents about buying wifi :p). 

My biggest regret of the trip was definitely that I didn’t keep a journal along the way. I tried to take as many photos as I could, but being a 17 year old girl on holiday with her family meant one thing: I was too proud to ask any of them to take photos of me, and squirmed when my step mum made us pose in front of monuments. It was such a typical teenage act that I WISH I didn’t partake in, because when you’re in a city that big no one really gives a shit about who’s taking a photo of who or why. So yeah, if you ever go anywhere that you’ve had on your bucket list – TAKE HEAPS OF PHOTOS THERE. There’s nothing embarrassing about wanting to eternalise that moment in film (or digitally, I suppose). 

Anyway, despite it being so long ago (over 4 years now, but again, it seems like over 20), I still remembered quite a few things that we did, and thankfully still have all of the photos from said trip, so I’ve decided to FINALLY put together a little travel diary of our brief encounter with the city that never sleeps. Also, the photos are a mix of my own and some much better quality snaps taken by my step mum, Kylie (you will be able to tell the difference quite easily).

So in no particular order, here are some of the cool things we did:

 

Went to Times Square

 

 

Duh! We were lucky enough to go a few times because our hotel was so close (we stayed at the Hilton – very VERY overrated, but was in a good location). Heading there at night was definitely a lot crazier, but it was when the city came to life so of COURSE we had to go. I now understood why so many families were holding hands or clasping each others’ arms for dear life – there were literally tides of people walking in all different directions, but man it was a sight to see. 

 

Central Park + Central Park Zoo

 

 

We spent the best part of a day wandering around Central Park, and it was absolutely perfect weather to do so. We went to one of the playgrounds that you see in the movies (the one with all of the big flat rocks next to it – or maybe there’s a few of those, who knows!) as well as going on the Central Park Carousel before checking out the world-famous zoo. It felt like we had seen so much, but when I looked at a map of the park I was quickly reminded at just how big New York really is, and that it was going to be impossible to see it all in just a few days. 

 

Top of the Rock Observatory Deck

 

 

Situated at the top of the Rockefeller Centre, this place is INSANE. If you ever find yourself in NYC MAKE SURE you head up there! The lines aren’t as barbaric as they are for the Empire State Building, but you still get breathtaking 360 degree views of the city. I also felt strangely safe up there too, which was interesting considering I am quite terrified of heights. I can’t even stand on the edge of a hotel balcony for fear of the railing collapsing and me falling to my death, so being able to walk around on the platform up there and even touch the barrier was a big deal for me. The view definitely makes conquering any fears worth it.

 

Hop On, Hop Off tour (Day & Night)

 

 

 

 

These were actually the perfect way to cram as much of NYC into our day as possible. The day tour took us through the fashion district, past the back then, still-in-development Freedom Tower, and out to the docks to catch a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty. Another monument that we got pictures in front of, but not actually on top of (we didn’t get to go up the Empire State Building either – we had a lot of bad tourists’ luck). Even if it as 13 degrees and windy, it was still amazing to be able to see it in person, and the photos made it seem way closer than it was – winning! After our failed attempt of seeing Lady Liberty, we jumped back on another bus and headed toward Little Italy, where we found a nice little authentic pasta shop and took refuge from the cold.
The night time tour took us through Times Square again, and out over the Brooklyn Bridge. You want a thrill? Sit on the top level of an open-top double decker bus and go over that bridge. Looking down was so incredibly scarily (I was definitely glad it was dark so I couldn’t see the full extent of the drop), but looking back on the city, full of skyscrapers and lights and life, was truly spectacular. 

 

 

We definitely did a lot more than I’ve written down (getting authentic Starbucks, buying art from street vendors, trying “the best pizza in New York” which was definitely NOT the best pizza in New York…) but like I said, it’s been a while, but I’ll never forget how I felt whilst wandering those streets. Even doing tasks such as picking up the laundry and getting some milk and cereal seemed exciting for me, and instead of the intensity scaring me away, I was drawn in even further and decided then and there that this would one day be the place I called home.

 

Of course, that hasn’t happened yet. But it still could. I’m only 21, after all. My next big travel goal is to head back to the U.S. for fall/winter. I’d like to spend a month to six weeks over there from mid November to December to see a true autumn in all its orange glory and hopefully experience a white Christmas. Of course, a road trip up to Washington and a train ride down the the Hamptons would definitely be on the agenda, and I hope that by the end of it I can navigate the subway and have found all the cutest coffee shops and vintage boutiques around. Ah, a girl can dream. And work hard to make those dreams come true.

I hope you liked this little flash back post, and the photos that came with it (please be kind, these were taken on an iPhone 4S :p) and it’s inspired you to get out there and go to your Soul City.

 

Till next time, 

Viv  xx

Soul Cities: NYC

New York, New York. Oh, what a magical place. I don’t even remember when I decided that NYC was THE PLACE to visit and live, but I’d have to say it was around the time that New York Minute (a classic Mary-Kate & Ashley film – in case you were living under a rock in the noughties) came out on DVD. Hell, it was probably earlier than that, but my sleep-muddled brain can’t come up with an exact timespot right now. 

The point is that I’ve loved New York City for as long as I can remember. It’s always been the first place I blurt out when someone asks me where I ultimately want to travel to, and it has always been a goal for me to live and work over there, in a groovy loft-style apartment in Brooklyn/Tribeca/Williamsburg. Of course now that dream has become a little trickier; with dealing with working visas and the fact that I need to have a somewhat established career to be able to snag a job in that ruthless concrete jungle, and now that Brooklyn loft vibe has become oh so trendy which = oh so expensive and hard to come by.

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Tribeca loft – image via My Fancy House
But this post is not about practicalities! It’s about NYC being one of my many Soul Cities, places that I have always felt connected to on a higher level, before ever visiting them. This series, which unintentionally kicked off with my exploration of Byron Bay in this lengthy post, surrounds these various places and their magic, and tries to dissect exactly why I am so obsessed with these cities and countries.

So why exactly do I love NYC so darn much? Is it the idyllic stoops and fire escapes, the never ending maze of perfectly curated parks and gardens, the treasure hunt for vintage boutiques and record stores, or the darn right fabulous fashion muses strutting along the worn pavement? I guess it’s all of this and more. New York City, to me, just seems to be the place where THINGS HAPPEN. Everything just seems cooler in New York. Even doing a walk of shame seems more glamourous when the character/person is wandering past vibrant flower stores and gourmet grocers. And yes, I know these things can all be found in other  cities, but they won’t happen with the same allure of magic and charm. I don’t know why, but they just won’t. 

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Image by Thomas Koehler
Sure, NYC has been commercialised and advertised to us since we were babies. Manhattan is the place to BE if you’re anyone whose anyone, and a penthouse on Fifth Avenue is seen as the epitome of real estate heaven. And yet, I have always drawn to the Brooklyn-esque vibe of NYC. I know it’s all trendy and dabbed ‘full of hipsters’, but I’ve always envisioned Brooklyn as to where you’ll find up and coming designers and heaps of cool galleries and 15 different band gigs popping up throughout the burrow every night. I’ve always looked at it (from very afar) and thought: that place is me. It just seems to have everything I want and more out of a city. Of course I know that Brooklyn is a real place, with laws and social issues and garbage disposal and gangs, but none of this has managed to dampen my I<3NY bubble over the years.

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Image via Pinterest
Fast forward (or back) to September 2012, when I was granted my heart’s desire and got to visit New YorkI went across the pond with my family as a bit of an impromptu trip (and by that I mean we decided to go in February/March of that year – kinda short notice for an overseas holiday!) for the September school holidays, in my final year of high school. We were in America for 2.5 weeks, so we spent roughly around 3 days in NYC, which was definitely not enough time to soak up the city and tick off all of my tourist goals, but I am grateful nonetheless for my precious time in the city.

It all seems like such a blur now, but I will never forget seeing that skyline for the first time, squished in the back of a taxi coming in from JFK. I remember breaking into the biggest, cheesiest grin, and possibly squealing a little when I saw the place that had been the back drop for my dreams for the last 17 years. Traffic heading into the city was of course, rubbish, and trying to snap a decent photo from the back of that cab was challenging, but I was ecstatic anyway.

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I’ve decided not to include what we did in NYC in this particular post (but stay tuned for my NYC Travel Diaries VERY soon!) because this is about how that magical city made me FEEL. It was so surreal walking along the streets that I had seen in the movies, (although I didn’t get to tick a single Gossip Girl/SATC pitstop off my list 😦 ), looking at the same scenery as millions have before me, and just genuinely gulping everything in. It was everything I expected it to be and more, and I was more than a little sad when it was time to pack our bags and head on to our next destination.

My whirlwind long weekend in NYC taught me a few things: 1) it is VERY cold there in September, so layer the heck up before you leave the comfort of your heated hotel. 2) It’s called ‘the city that never sleeps’ for a reason, so embrace that craziness and stay out all night, every night, exploring and learning as much as you can. 3) You will NEVER take enough photos of the place, and don’t be afraid to be ‘that tourist’ who wants a snap with everything cool, because you’ll look back at in in 4 years time and be totally grateful that your past self had the balls to take cheesy tourist shots with the Empire State Building in the background.

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So now we’ve touched on my little love affair with NYC, here are some remedies to cure those ‘currently not travelling’ blues and keep that Big Apple obsession of yours well and truly alive. Enjoy x

 

Movies

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself gawking at the cute apartments and scenery more than the characters – although they are pretty great too. 

How To Be Single

The Perfect Man

Definitely, Maybe

The Devil Wears Prada

Kick Ass

Dead Pool

The Amazing Spiderman

Hitch

Maid in Manhattan

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Uptown Girls

13 Going on 30

Hellboy

I Am Legend

It’s Kind of A Funny Story

The Avengers

The Other Woman

The Intern

 

And for a little more long term viewing: 

Sex and the City

Gossip Girl

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

How I Met Your Mother

Flight of the Conchords

 

And if you’re wanting to dream up the streets yourself:

Confessions series by James Patterson

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

Detective Michael Bennett series by James Patterson

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

 

 

Bali On A Budget

AUTHOR’S NOTE: So if you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you may remember my little 21st birthday holiday to Bali at the end of last year. After two weeks in that blissfully hot little country, I left craving some good orange juice and filled to the brim with inspiration. I learnt so much during my short stay; both about the culture and myself, and have been wanting to create a mini series surrounding my trip, which I have FINALLY begun. To start it off, I’ve decided to do a general tips and tricks post, because not only are they my favourite to write (why do I find such pleasure in giving people advice? Weird) but I feel like they are the most practical for my readers. So make yourself a nice cup of tea and  enjoy!

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Before Bali:

  • Jetstar will be the cheapest airline to fly with if you’re in Aus. Ever since they started their direct flights, Bali has been the young Aussie’s #1 holiday destination, as it’s close, cheap and is something different. If you’re looking to travel during the school holidays or at peak holiday times (i.e. Christmas) then be prepared to have to spend an extra couple of hundred each way. So take advantage of the sales when you hear about them!
  • Travel expos are also your best friend, because there’s always loads of different tour and travel companies there (obvs), all in the one place to answer all of your questions. They also offer killer deals, so if you’ve got the cash it’s definitely worth booking during an expo.
  • See a travel agent! If you’re 26 or under, or a student, then Student Flights will be your best pal. I think I’ve mentioned it before in this post, but my agent, Erika, was a total boss when organising all of my stuff for Bali. Together we sorted out accomodation, activities and transfers which I was not only able to pay off, but meant that I was totally stress free whilst being over there. The most I had to do was call up the transfer service the day before to confirm what time they were picking me up. And when you’re a young gal solo travelling, minimal fuss is exactly what you need!
  • When booking your accomodation, ALWAYS opt to spend extra on the breakfast deal. I was a little hesitant at first, because I don’t always eat breakfast at home, but boy was I glad I did. Not only is it one less thing to spend money on when you get there, but the basic breakfast deals usually included something hot (e.g. eggs and toast or pancakes) as well as fruit, tea and juices, so it will fill you up well and truly until lunch time.

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During Bali:

  • That Jetstar flights leave and arrive in Bali at absolutely shit times. I’m pretty sure my flight left at 1am and got in around 5am Aus time, and I did not sleep a single WINK, so be prepared to spend the first day feeling a little out of whack. I was going to recommend adding an extra day to your trip (if you’re able) to compensate for this, but really, as long as you get a snooze in when you land and possibly a sneaky afternoon nap, you should be fine for the rest of the day for a bit of lazing around the pool and or shopping.
  • Whilst we’re on the topic of the Jetstar flight: NOTHING IS FREE. Not even water of a cup of tea. So either grab some of either (or both) before the flight or bring some cash with ya for those mid-flight cravings.
  • There are cheap massage places EVERYWHERE. For some dumb reason (oh yeah, I had $700 for two weeks – now THAT’S Bali on a budget!) I only got one massage the entire trip, but I spent a quaint $7.50 to get a 1 hour, full body massage, so I can’t really complain.
  • Don’t be afraid to barter. I found it kind of uncomfortable to do at first, but a few encounters (and once you begin to understand what things are worth over there compared to Aus) I became more confident and managed to snag a few bargains. I found the easiest formula was to ask how much an item was, then offer way below that price (meanwhile having a maximum price in your head) and then see what the vendor says. If it’s a yes, then woo, go you, and if not, then offer a little bit more and see if they will budge. It’s sad to say, but a lot of the Balinese shop workers are quite desperate for sales, so they would rather make a deal with you than lose your money completely. So stick to your guns and don’t let them stuff you around 🙂
  • If you’re looking to save some cash or have an early night taking advantage of the movie channels (me for approximately half of my trip :p) then room service will be your best friend, if your hotel offers it of course. I found that the room service menu at my hotel (Legian Village Hotel) was not only cheap, but had heaps of variety and had plenty of western options for all the weak-stomached bastards such as myself. I think the most I ever spent on room service was $14 and that was when I had a ‘treat yo’self’ moment and ordered like 4 sides for one person. When in Bali, eh?
  • Some things AREN’T cheaper in Bali. I was excited to pick up some gear from all of the surf brands (Billabong can do no wrong in my eyes) but found that the genuine products were around the same price as they are back here in Aus, so definitely suss out the sales, but don’t be expecting to be bringing a bag back of authentic surf threads.
  • Locate your nearest Circle K (think Night Owl or 7/11) and stock up on plenty of bottled water and snacks, because they will be cheaper there than anywhere else. Also, having at least 4 or 5 bottles of water in that little bar fridge of yours at a time is a MUST. You will thank yourself for it again and again and again.
  • Be prepared to not buy any clothes. If you’re like me than the cheap clothes that Bali is renowned for will NOT be your style. And that’s perfectly okay. So make sure you pack enough clothes to keep you going for the entire trip, and buy some washing powder when you get there so you can wash every second day or whatever (because we all know drip drying in the bathroom isn’t the quickest way to get your clothes dry.
  • Bring your own sunscreen and panadol – pretty self-explanatory haha.
  • Buy an adaptor either before you go or as soon as you get there – because finding one isn’t as easy as one may think, and none of my hotels seemed to have them on offer.
  • If you’re an avid reader then save some $$$ and bring a few books from home. Sure, they will add to your luggage weight, but at the end of the day you’re probably going to end up buying whatever you don’t bring with you, as I quickly discovered. I left with one book and returned with 4 finished ones. Oh man, the adventures I had to find them could be a whole other post… 

13632671_10210653896447530_772985307_o.jpgI hope you’re able to find some of these tips useful for any of your future travels to Bali 🙂 There are so many more I could’ve added, but I wanted to make this a more money saving based post for all you travellers looking to get the most out of your holiday on the smallest budget (without eating chilli corn every night – which is flipping good by the way, but maybe not for 2 whole weeks). So remember to enjoy the heck outta yourself, because you worked hard for your little getaway! Also: take 10000000 photos and journal if you can. There’s nothing I love more than looking back through all my Bali snaps and trying not to book another flight.

 

Till next time,

Viv    x

 

“I wish I was as spontaneous as you!” : Travel Tips for Amateur Adventurers

So last year I travelled a LOT. Maybe not a lot compared to some, and definitely nowhere as much as those who seem to have limitless bank accounts, but it was a lot for me. 

I was never at home for more than two months at a time, and even when I was technically “home”, I spent my days off running between Cairns, Babinda and the Tablelands. There was this running joke at work where everyone would ask me “when’s you’re next holiday, Viv?”, not expecting to get a solid answer, but every time, without a doubt I would have something lined up or in the works. And that was still whilst studying! 

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Image via Pinterest

This year, things have slowed down briefly – and by that I mean I’m currently on a two month break of no holidays or gigs or festivals (R.I.P. Splendour this year), with my next adventure being in August to see The Amity Affliction in Brisbane (so much excitement for that one!).

After my little Brissie stint, I have a killer holiday lined up for September which includes a music festival and a gig, as well as travelling to the Sunny Coast, Melbourne, Byron, Brisbane, and finishing off all the craziness at the family beach house back in Cairns. All over a quaint 10 days! Yes, I’m going to be absolutely exhausted and will need to perfect my plane skincare routine before then, but I wanted to see all of those places this year so I figured, why not wrap it up all in one go? Whether it’s actually genius or pure mental, I’m thrilled either way. It will be a primarily solo expedition, with a couple of days here and there staying with friends or family, but Melbs and I will have an entire 3 days all to ourselves!

Anyway, the point of this post wasn’t to gloat or give you guys an in-depth update of what I am getting up to over the next few months, but rather to inspire more of you to do the same! A lot of people are initially intimidated by the thought of solo travel (especially some of us ladies), or are unsure of how to organise a trip without your parents dealing with everything and sending you the itinerary in a treasured email (that you are somehow sure to lose). 

So here are some realistic tips for how average Everyday Gals (and Guys) can inject more adventure into their lives and do so in an affordable way that doesn’t take YEARS to save for 🙂

 

Tip #1: Start Small

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Image via Pinterest

This may seem kinda obvious, but if you’ve grown up without the travel bug rattling around in your system then the idea of travelling can seem kinda daunting and HUGE. Before you go booking any flights to Paris, do some research on what cool things are around your local area. Whether you have to catch a bus, or train, or rely on Google Maps to drive there, it will be a great experience to get you out of your comfort zone and go somewhere new. If you’ve got some time on your hands, bring a book or a film camera and enjoy just wandering around the town/suburb/rainforest (wherever you may end up) to take in all of the foreign elements of the place. Who knows, it soon might become your safe haven!

 

Tip #2: Go for a Reason

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Image via Pinterest

Sometimes it’s hard to see the point of going to a place you’re not familiar with, just for the sake of going. It could be the most magical oasis in the world, but our mean girl (aka that nagging, negative little voice in your head) will come up with an abundance of reasons why it’s simply not worth bothering with. That’s why it’s brilliant when there’s an event being held there. Truthfully, I’ve never flown to Brisbane just for the sake of a holiday. There’s always a concert or festival on that I’ve booked tickets for. But that’s okay, because I then will make sure I stick around for a couple of extra days post-gig to relax and explore and soak up the city. Because there’s ALWAYS new stuff to discover, trust me. 

Most capital cities are thriving with events and music gigs, so a lot of the time you won’t even have to fly out of the state to have a rad time. Keep an eye out on your city’s gig guide and even the city council social media pages, as they will often advertise for major events or activities happening in the area.

 

Tip #3: Plan in Advance

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Image via Fierce Little Studyblr

Yes, it completely takes out the “spontaneity” of the whole thing, but if you’re like me and can be quite the obsessive planner/overthinker at times, then having things organised with weeks to spare will help ease your mind a lot! Of course, if you feel like a spur of the moment trip to Sydney for the weekend (and have the funds to make that happen), then go for gold! But when it comes to booking flights I like to have as much notice as I can, mostly because I’m a cheapskate but also because you have more options with times and airlines. The “spontaneous” part of my trips usually comes when the initial idea sparks in my head. Usually, I will hear that one of my favourite bands are coming to Brisbane, I immediately decide “Yes, I’m bloody well going” or think about it for a few days until the tickets are released. In most cases, it will be the first one, and in a matter of minutes you go from having a casual Wednesday morning off to feverishly browsing on ticket and airline sites.

 

Tip #4: Don’t be Afraid to be Alone

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Image via Pinterest

It doesn’t matter how flipping fantastic the trip is going to be, the reality is that sometimes your friends aren’t going to be able to go with you. That’s something you need to make peace with early on, because everyone has different shit going on in their lives and simply may not be able to take the time off/afford it/already have plans, etc. etc. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your mates entirely. Recently, I’ve started buying two tickets for all of the gigs and concerts that I’m going to, so that if one of my friends does decide that they want to come (or are simply unorganised as hell), they can just buy the ticket off me and we are all good to go! And if at the end of it you still end up going solo, then head to the event page on Facebook and sell your spare. 

Anyway, doing things alone is liberating as fuck. Sure, it may seem scary at first and you will be paranoid that everyone is staring and laughing at you for not having any friends, but once you get over that initial fear and just don’t give a shit you will have the BEST time. And dude, no one is laughing at you! If anything they are admiring you or thinking how much of a freaking badass you are for not needing a human life vest to do the things you love. 

 

Tip #5: Take Advantage of Travel Agents 

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Image via Go Abroad

If you’re booking a pretty straight forward trip or going by car, then there’s no real need for this step, but if you’re ready to jump into the unknown and possibly broaden your horizon overseas, then finding a rad travel agent will be your saving grace. I had the loveliest TA from Student Flights, Erika, who was a total gift from the universe when it came to organising my Bali trip. I went into the store for a solid session with her, where we  researched and organised all of my accomodation, private vehicle transfers and activities months in advance. And the best thing is that I was able to pay it all off over 6 or so months! Which, if you’re like me and are absolutely crap at saving in bulk, is the most glorious thing EVER. Erika was super attentive, and went above and beyond what I expected a TA to do, and even gave me some extra goodies that Flight Centre should’ve provided when I booked my flights but didn’t. So if you’re a student or under 26, I would 100% recommend seeing a Student Flights TA to organise any of your big adventures. *Not sponsored, just fricking grateful.*

 

Tip #6: Forget What the Adults Told You

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Image via Pinterest

Let’s be real guys, the adults in our lives grew up in a different world. Yes, they live in ours now, but they haven’t grown up with the exposure to technology and access to information about other countries that we have. We are not only extremely lucky, but are such an open-minded generation who is not afraid to challenge the social norms and go after what we love. 

When I was told everyone I was going to Bali solo, the initial reaction was shock or a not-so-hilarious comment about locking my suitcase so I didn’t get framed for drug smuggling. I laughed it off at first, but by the time I was ready to go, I couldn’t help but shut those ignorant comments down and tell them about what Bali was really going to be like. I had done my research. I had done plenty of solo interstate trips before. I was almost 21. I wasn’t an idiot. But suddenly all of these people who had never even BEEN to this country were experts on it and what I should and shouldn’t do. Sure, travel advice can be brilliant and an absolute lifesaver if you’re getting it from SOMEONE WHO HAS ACTUALLY BEEN THERE. Or has read up indepthly on other peoples’  firsthand experiences. 

I’m sure they all meant well and good, but usually when you tell someone about an exciting adventure you’re about to embark on, you don’t want to hear how shit this is or how scary it was there 10 years ago. So MY advice? Read articles by people who have actually visited the place. Scroll through the hashtags on instagram. Talk to your travel agent (because they’ve probably been there at one point or another). Ignore the negative noise and look after yourself, because you’re going to have an absolutely rad time and no one back home will be able to stop you!

 

 

I could probably go on. And on. And on. But this post is already giant enough, and I think you get the gist of where I was going. Being spontaneous and adventurous doesn’t mean dropping your shit and ditching your job at the drop of a hat. It means following your passions and going to those ‘dream destinations’. Sure, you might not get to New York by next Tuesday, but the fact that you’re committed to going and are researching and booking stuff is the first step! And it’s a helluva lot more than most people will do. So don’t be scared and don’t worry about saving for that house just yet. You’re young and you have the world at your fingertips, so live now and deal with all of those pesky HECS fees later.

 

Till next time,

Viv  x

 

 

The Byron Files

Hey guys,

So as promised, here is the first instalment of my travel diaries. I was incredibly lucky to have some kick ass holidays whilst I was living at home, but this trip was my first major solo exhibition going somewhere out of Queensland (which is kind of a big deal, OK?). Despite going with my brother, it was the first time I had to organise everything from start to finish for a major trip. So aside from chatting about where we ate, stayed and shopped, I’ll also be doing a mini itinerary for the week we were actually in Byron plus photos – yay! (Splendour is getting its own post, don’t worry guys). So I hope you enjoy, and feel free to sling me some suggestions on where else to check out next timeI venture to the land of the laidback-and-tanned dreamers.

Day 1: Wednesday

So, after a very early start (3am in fact) and a very looonnnng day of travelling, we finally cruised into Byron Bay at around 3pm. After checking into our room at our cute little AirBnB pad (I’ll leave the link below), Ethan and I did a superman change and practically flew back to the town centre to catch the shops before they closed for the day.

Obviously, the first stop was to the motherland: Spell and the Gypsy Collective. Visiting that store was right up there on my Byron bucket list, and it is every bit as beautiful as the pictures make it out to be (and some!). After Spell, we did a mad dash to suss out others stores such as Drift Lab (another bucket list item), Arnhem, Liberated Heart, Afends, Black Sheep annnnd a few more. As it was two days until Splendour, I wanted to see what was available before doing a more thorough shop in the morning. Plus, I was still searching for a perfect-length skirt, so you can see why I was ducking in and out of stores like a mad woman.

Anyway, we had a very early dinner (say 5pm – it was dark though!) at Guzman Y Gomez, a really groovy Mexican chain restaurant/takeaway, which was ridiculously delicious and cheap (tick and tick). It was the first time either of us had tried it, and I’m sorry to say, but it kicks Zambrero’s butt a few times over. I am also absolutely obsessed with their fit-out and interior decorations. The wall tiles alone are just a dream. If you ever go, the grilled chicken nachos are a must.

Pretty sure I fell asleep by 7pm that night, so no exciting shenanigans to report there!

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Day 2: Thursday

After a solid 13 hours sleep, I was up and ready for a day of eating, shopping and exploring the town. Byron has been one of those places that I’ve endlessly stalked on instagram, and in my opinion, is the creative hub of Australia. So many amazing talents and brands come out of Byron, and I can easily see why. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost like there’s inspiration in the air there.

But back to the food. We got into town around 8am, and Fishheads was calling our name. I daringly ordered an English breakfast tea, a fresh OJ and the big breakfast, which was quite literally, bigger than my head. I only conquered about half the plate, but it was super delicious, reasonably priced, and definitely my favourite breakfast of the week. Note: no split bills.

After a lovely stroll along Main Beach (we actually had the beach to ourselves, it was so peaceful and beautiful!) we got serious and hit the shops for Round 2. I’m not going to list every store I went to, because we literally went into all of them, but here are some of the ones I actually purchased stuff from:

  • Mary Janes Bookstore
  • Miss Brown Vintage (stall at Splendour)
  • Spell and the Gypsy Collective
  • Drift Lab
  • Byron Surf Shop
  • About A Girl
  • Golden Breed
  • Byron Bay Gems
  • Byron Bay Candle Company
  • Ghanda

For a late lunch, we hit up Byron Fresh, a cafe who pride themselves in using fresh, local and organic produce and making their meals as delicious and ‘real’ as possible. I was still stuffed from brekky, so I had a modest bowl of their classic potato chips with homemade aoili. Tick from me. Ethan went a tad more fancier with the Haloumi roll, which was again, yummy, but he took it out of the wrapped packaging (bad decision) and made quite the mess. Again, no split bills.

After a quick grocery run we did the “long” walk home with armfuls of goodies and marginally deflated bank accounts. Our room had Austar, so we binge-watched Judge Geordie and unpacked all of our purchases before layering up and heading back into town for an ‘early’ dinner again. We thought that everything would still be relatively quiet at 6:30pm, but with the majority of the Splendour crowd having arrived there wasn’t a quiet restaurant in sight. So off to The Great Northern Hotel we went. It was packed to the max, but we got a table inside and the chicken parmy with chips was exactly what I needed after a big day of shopping. My feet were already protesting and the festival hadn’t even began yet!

Fishheads Best cup of tea! Biggest breakfast of my life Main Beach IMG_4978 IMG_4990 Beautiful door on Shirley St IMG_5006 IMG_5008 Hunter Boots from Drift Lab

Day 3: Friday

After a super nutritious breakfast of tea and Coco Pops, we began our Splendour adventure bright and early, arriving at the festival at around 10am and not getting home until 2am the following morning. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll save those details for another post, but one thing that I just HAVE to talk about is the corn and lemonade stall at Splendour. Divine! Best BBQ’d corn I’ve ever tasted, and their freshly squeezed lemonade was only $3.50 a cup, super refreshing and a much faster alternative to lining up for a cider (even though I did my fair share of that over the weekend). I basically taste-tested my way through the hot chip and Mexican stalls, and was definitely not disappointed. (More Splendour pics to come in another post!)

Day 1 Outfit Iamu flash tattoos Splendour

Day 4: Saturday

We aimed to leave by 11am, but had a few quick errands to run beforehand (i.e. Ethan needed a parka jacket and I needed a backpack with supportive straps – cheers Surf Dive N Ski Byron, you did me well), so despite already having eaten, I couldn’t help say no to a $5 breakfast roll from one of the local coffee shops (I’ll investigate to find out their name because I seriously recommend going there. Great food, great coffee and super cheery staff). Again, I slugged it at Splendour until around 12am the next morning, so no further shopping was done that day (unless buying rad as vintage Wrangler overalls counts. Love ya, Miss Brown Vintage).

IMG_5090  Day 2 Splendour

Day 5: Sunday 

Because there wasn’t a lot of acts on that we knew, we didn’t head to the festival until around 2pm, so we had brunch at The Eatery on Jonson. One word: yum! I got the $9.90 breakfast roll (do you see a trend happening here?) and it was possibly the best brekky roll I’ve ever eaten. It was so fresh and different to what I usually eat, and I could’ve easily gone for a second, and third, if I didn’t have to move for the rest of the day. Even though we finished our Splendour endeavour at around 7pm that night, we scored a feed at the festival before we left (no idea what we ate) and I left the grounds with a backpack full of vintage one-offs and festival merchandise. Happy days & sore feet resulted in yet another movie night and a big sleep before our last full day of exploring in Byron.

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Day 6: Monday

Wanting to make the most of our last proper day in town, we got up early and headed for round 2 at Byron Fresh. There was still a lot of tourists hanging around, so the breakfast crowd was buzzing and the heaters were on full blast. I had the “Big B” ($25), and Ethan.. I don’t remember haha (possibly the Haloumi roll again?). I was obviously very focused on trying to get through the giant plate of food in front of me. It wasn’t as good as the Fishheads big brekky, but was still tasty and gave me plenty of energy for the day.

As the Cape Byron Lighthouse was another bucket list item (we thought it was the lighthouse from ‘Round the Twist’ – apparently a common mistake) we decided to rent out bicycles and ride up there. Pretty sure we hired them from Byron Bay Surf and Bike Hire for only $10 each, which I was extremely impressed about. Then came the cherry on top of the cake: my bike was one of those cool vintage-style ones in white with a basket on the front. I was in heaven! And the whole no helmets thing was definitely a major plus – for once I could cruise around and not have my hair looking like it was attacked by bats!

We rode our bikes along the picturesque path to The Pass, where we were greeted by some phenomenal views and cheeky dolphins putting on a show. Unsure of how to continue with our bikes, we locked them up in the carpark and continued the venture on foot. It was a perfect day for it: sunny, but cool with a light breeze. I was definitely glad a wore a t-shirt and short overalls, because boy did I work up a sweat climbing all of those stairs!

On the way up, we stopped at all of the beaches and took a at least a thousand photos of the views. When checking out the Most Easterly Point of Australia lookout, we saw a couple of whales jumping out of the water, which was pretty damn special. From there, we powered up to the lighthouse, found a fireplace that looked exactly like the Weasley’s from Harry Potter (and made a dorky little video pretending I was using Floo Powder to get to Diagon Alley – as if I couldn’t!) and got lemonade and ice-cream while we enjoyed the view.

Heading back down, we stopped at the actual Most Easterly Point of Australia (I think – it was very confusing) and I was absolutely blown away. I’ve never seen water like that in my life, the colours literally taking my breath away. Ethan wanted to keep going, but I couldn’t help but plonk myself on the grass and watch the waves crash against the rocks. If I could build a little shack there, I seriously would. I’ve never felt so content in my life. I’ve never meditated before, but I feel as if that would be the perfect place to practice it. Oh, Byron.

After our big adventure, we went home to relax and start packing before heading back out for our final feast at Guzman Y Gomez because we were both indecisive and didn’t feel like waiting for anything to cook. After having one last sit at the beach, watching the lighthouse guide sailors home, we commenced the final walk home for the trip.

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Day 7: Tuesday

So we may have bought a lot more than we realised, because not only were our suitcases full, but so were our backpacks, totes and a second backpack. I’ll just let you imagine how fun that walk into town was.

We had our final breakfast at Cafe Byron, a restaurant I had been eyeing off the whole trip. Unfortunately, I think they were having a bad day, because the meals took ages and half the things Ethan tried to order were unavailable. I went with something different and ordered the vegetarian breakfast, which was a good choice. It was my first time trying haloumi and I was pleasantly surprised and finally understood what all the hype was about. Overall, we couldn’t really complain, because our bellies were full and we had a place to sit all of our luggage until we caught the bus back to Brisbane, another city that has a special place in my heart.

So, that’s the end of our trip! I know this post was massive, but I wanted to give you guys a thorough idea of what we got up to and the places we ate, because I for one love reading about other peoples’ holidays, and I will probably regularly go back and read this post just to remember how much of a fab time I had.

Honourable mentions go out to the Byron Bay Juice Bar, which we stopped at almost daily for our fruit fix; Byron Bay Night Owl, for meeting Ethan’s hot chocolate needs; and to all of the rad buskers we saw over the weekend sitting out the front of NAB. Byron is a seriously magical little community, and despite having crammed so many things into our week, there’s still a shitload more I want to see. Here’s to heading back next year, hopefully this time with a car, and a little more prepared for the mud.

Over and out,

Vivienne

Other info:

Bus company: Brisbane 2 Byron Express Bus

AirBnB room: ***CENTRAL BYRON (ROOM), Byron Bay

Doing Anything Other Than Uni

The thought of this post came to me approximately 5 minutes ago, right as I was opening my maths textbook to begin Chapter 7 (that was supposed to be read last week). It’s been on my mind a lot lately – the thought of not doing uni any more. I know it’s just me being a sook and not wanting to deal with the workload (mainly the readings – trying to read 20-30 pages of small, dull writing in one sitting is enough to drive anyone mad) but it’s got me thinking: what would I do instead?

What would I do with all my spare time when I’m not working? Would I work more? Would life even change that much? No longer receiving study allowance would certainly suck, but overall it would open up a lot more time for doing things that I actually enjoy, but mostly…travelling.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going on a road trip around New Zealand’s South Island next year, preferably around September-October when it’s off peak season but there’s still some snow around. I was assured by a travel agent that I would be able to rent a car over there despite not being 25, and I figured 9 months between Bali and NZ would be enough time to pay off another holiday and hopefully save some cash to spend. Everything seemed like it would work out quite well, until a little piece of paper destroyed my dream.

So dramatic, I know, but it’s true. So today, just out of curiosity, I checked my degree planner to see what I am in for over the next two years – and boy did I get a scare. 5 subjects (including a placement) both semesters next year, and potentially more in the third semesters. I don’t know how I’m supposed to BREATHE let alone go on a 2 week adventure in September. Like I could potentially push it forward to June, the one month I have off between February and November, but it will be busy as then and blah, blah, blah.

I suppose it’s become quite a strong debate for young adults these days: do I go to uni, spend 3-4 years poor as shit to eventually get a degree and hopefully a decent paying job; OR do I work my ass off for 6 months and then jet off to the unknown? Both sides become a reality for thousands of people, and yet I still can’t decide. I don’t think I would ever go for too long (I’m way too comfortable with having all my stuff in one place again – even the mere thought of being homeless and all of my books returning to their box coffins makes me shiver) but it’s the allure of travelling that gets me every time. I can no longer walk out of a travel agency without having that little bug inside of me doing flips and protesting for another adventure. Soon, soon, soon, I have to reluctantly remind myself.

I just want to say that I am in no way complaining about my current life. In general, I think I am a pretty happy person; I’m comfortable with myself, have a rad group of friends, a good family and a nice unit in a town that I actually ENJOY living in. But like they always say (I think), once you travel you’ll never want to stop. That’s me alright. I’ve ticked off New Zealand, L.A., New York, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, and many more towns throughout the eastern side of Australia; and I’m no where close to even CONSIDERING that I’ve seen enough. I probably never will, which both excites and marvels me at the same time.

But for now, I’m going to exit out of Safari and get my butt back into gear, because until I decide definitely that uni is no longer for me, there’s chapters to be read and a maths assignment to be handed in by Friday.

Over and out,

Vivienne