Croatia and Reckless Maggie

We had just arrived in Split, Croatia, 9pm. We were looking forward to spending the next 2 days sightseeing around the Diocletian’s Palace and taking frequent dips in the stunning blue Adriatic sea.

As soon as we arrived at the hostel we met our other roommates. Despite being 10pm we were enticed to head out on an adventure by a girl in our dorm who we called ‘Reckless Maggie’. It was one of those nights where a few quick drinks turned into a 2am Croatian style pub crawl, where we followed Maggie to a number of bars farther and farther away from town along the coast. Every time we would tell Maggie that this bar looks fine, let’s stop here, she would say ‘When travelling, they say when you think you have reached your destination, walk for another 5 minutes’. Good point, but she did this about 4 times!

Eventually we just refused to walk any farther so we settled in beachside for some drinks. The night wore on and our budget wore down. My friend and I were ready to head off, but not Maggie, who was talking to some cute Croatian boys.  Eventually we abandoned her as we had only flown in that evening and were pretty exhausted. The three of us (Myself and my travel buddy and a guy from our dorm called Michael who had a 5.30am bus the next day) left Maggie behind and headed home. She was determined to stay and chat to the 2 locals.

I felt a bit uneasy leaving her behind with some random Croatian strangers, all sorts of wild thoughts drifting through my head. I occasionally have the ability to get all dramatic, and wasted no time saying to the others ‘What if we are the last people to see her alive?’ To which Michael proclaimed, ‘She is a big girl and we’re not responsible for her’. True.

I had trouble drifting to sleep that night, due to the heat, the leaking air conditioner (which I was convinced was going to blow up, not being dramatic at all) and semi-waiting for Maggie to come home so I could sleep without worrying. So when Michael got up at 4.30am – I was still awake, motioning at Maggie’s empty bed and saying all motherly, ‘she’s still not home!’ To which he rolled his eyes.

Michael left, and I watched the clock tick to 5am, 6am, 7am … Still no Maggie.

My friend woke at this point (no point trying to sleep when its already 30 degrees at 7am). I was now pretty worried about this random girl who appeared so reckless, hence the nickname.

AT SEVEN THIRTY AM… Maggie came in, all abuzz from her night at some local rave party in the woods that was a blast! My raised, concerned eyebrows begged to differ. It would probably be a good time to mention that Maggie had a bus to catch about 10am anyway so she was looking at about 2 hours sleep.

We were up and outside the dorm on the balcony-come bathroom-come kitchen contemplating our day. Maggie then opened the door and told us to pipe down as she was trying to sleep! The. Nerve. I almost went off my head telling her that I had been worried sick about her all night.

She slept a while then frantically got up and threw all her stuff in a backpack and dashed off to catch her bus. She left behind her sleeping bag  and a bag of jewellery. We handed them over to the owners of the hostel in case she came back to claim her things.

We spent the rest of the day pondering what it would be like to travel without abandon like Maggie and how she would fare on her future (reckless) adventures.

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Walking around Split in the evening

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The boardwalk of Split, by day

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Exploring the sites of Split, like the Giant Statue

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Rub the toe of the giant for good luck


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The beginning of our first night in Split

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People swimming and playing Hacky Sack at 10pm

I must confess, these are not my photos. On the second night in Split, the night after the reckless Maggie adventure, I had my camera stolen. These shots are from my travel buddy. So who knows what gems I had captured from our first night in Split!

Sydney Eats – Indian at Harris Park

Harris Park in Sydney’s west, next to Parramatta has a lot of Indian Restaurants. A LOT. It has a very high Indian population and the streets around the railway station, especially Wigram St,  have so many restaurants as well as local grocers and Indian fusion restaurants, like Indian Chinese food.

You are so spoilt for choice. A friend and I visit regularly to whet our Indian food cravings. After testing out several places we now have our favourites, mainly those that serve Dosa and Thalis, the best curry tasting plates! Special mention to Not Just Curries and Billus.

 

Right near Billus I spotted these men playing backgammon.

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Wigram St outside Billus

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Mel and I love our Dosas!

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Sunset over Wigram st.

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Magnolia tree outside Billus

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Minnamurra Rainforest

Recently we visited Minamurra Rainforest in Jamberoo, South Coast NSW. As we are often driving down the coast to my parents house I keep scouting out different (free!) things to do on the way to break up the 3 hour or so drive.

Off the main highway about 15 minutes, Minamurra rainforest in Buderoo National Park offers a number of walks through lush rainforest that follows a creek up to a waterfall.

 We arrived quite late in the day and didn’t think we had time to fit in the 2 hour return walk to the waterfall. Which was a bit disappointing as I do love a good waterfall. But just walking up and back on the boardwalk  as part of the ‘Loop walk’ was pretty spectacular. There is much more to see and do in this National Park so I think we will just have to go back!

Getting There: About an hour and 40 minutes from Sydney, not far from Kiama

Look Out For: The rope bridge, swinging vines, picturesque country side on the drive through the valleys

Travel Essentials… Luggage Tags

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Like any girl who enjoys shopping, cute things, stationery and shops like Daiso, I love cute and kitsch luggage tags. I love when I have something really unique.

What I don’t love is how often I have to replace my luggage tags because they get ripped, torn off or just simply go missing.

So the secret is to not spend a lot of money (no Oroton thanks) and to not get too attached to your luggage tags. After 4-5 flights my tags always seem a bit worse for wear, if they are still there!

My favourites have been the lego style one (gone after one trip, rigid plastic isn’t very forgiving), my panda one I bought in China (still going strong), the ‘Put it Back it’s Mine’ tag (also M.I.A), a black and white cat one that matches my Panda (who me? match?) and of course anything from Typo.

I love me a good Kate Spade one, but feel that for the high chance of them coming off I’d rather spend my Kate Spade Dollars on other things (like clothes, wallets, tote bags….)

After checking out the Typo ones, I may need a new luggage tag (or two) for Hawaii in April!

 

Shanghai Dumpling Search

While in Shanghai,  my friends and I decided to go on a search for Yang’s dumpling.  My culinary extraordinaire friend had read about them in a review… and with a vague knowledge of the street name we set off!  We had already walked about 15 km that day around the city of Shanghai and we only had 45 minutes left until we had to meet our group and go to dinner.  So searching for a dumpling shop in the city of dumpling shops in 45 minutes seemed a little ambitious .

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This place seems like a winner with huge queue outside and of course some  Chinese  writing that must’ve said Yang’s dumpling.  With 15 minutes to go we joined the queue to buy the dumplings and for me a much-needed  Coca-Cola.  The other two in the group had a look farther down the street just in case we hadn’t found the right Yang’s dumpling .   They found it – and we were in the wrong place!  But too late, we had already ordered and had to be at our hotel in 10 minutes .  So we grabbed the dumplings and ran, taking the Coca-Cola with us .   The others stayed behind as they had already ordered from the real Yang’s dumpling .

It wasn’t easy hightailing it through the streets of Shanghai with a box of  something you are trying to eat that’s quite a bit messy but we made it .  Shortly after the other two turned up and informed us that they got in trouble on my behalf – as I had taken my glass bottle of soft drink with me instead of leaving it behind to be recycled … Whoops!

And the verdict was that their dumplings were better!  So we returned the next day with much more time up our sleeves to fully enjoy the semi fried, liquid filled delicious balls of Yang’s dumplings .

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Disclaimer:  Shanghai was before my trip to Xi-an when I went to a dumpling banquet.  13 courses – all dumplings .  That was over 18 months ago and I haven’t eaten a dumpling since.  I am truly scarred and may never eat a dumpling again . But if I ever found myself in Shanghai again I could probably make an exception and go to Yang’s  dumpling.

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Bucket List – Hawaii

The flights are booked! Less than 100 days to go. I am off to Hawaii in April. Hawaii has definitely been much more on my radar in the last three or so years as a ‘Bucket List’ destination. I’ve been lusting over people’s holiday posts for a while now and seeing too many Hawaiian themed pins on Pinterest.  I had a stopover at Honolulu back into 2013 and all I saw of Hawaii was a few beaches out the window as the plane landed,  as well as the inside of the airport.

I’ll only be going for nine days and we are still in the process of deciding which islands to go to… clearly we can’t go to all of them!  It just means I’ll have to go back for a second trip at some point:)  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the volcano on Big Island,  some of the most amazing waterfalls and beaches in the world, as well as trying some Hawaiian treats like the pineapple whip.

And now the fun starts,  The Planning!  One of my favourite parts of organising holidays is researching, bookmarking and booking accommodation and activities and making lists of possible things to do – with pictures  and links.  I then send this to my significant other for review….  And await his approval ! So on that note,  I’m off to visit Pinterest again!

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We plan on hiring a car and road tripping to all the scenic sites.

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Have been reading about some great tours that take you to all the best lava spots.

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 Love the look of this lagoon in Ohahu… will need some relaxing time.

Any  comments or recommendations are welcome! Especially for Ohahu and the Big Island.

Nine More Things To Do In: San Francisco

After my first visit to San Francisco, I wrote a post of nine things to do in the centre of the city. That was a trip for 3 days, with a friend and with no car. Four years later I returned for 2 days, with my partner and a car. This lead to having a different experience of the city (and one where he got to choose the majority of sites). So here is nine more things to do in San Francisco!

1. Comic Museum – When your fiancé is an an Artist, holidays revolve around exhibitions. The Cartoon Art Museum in downtown SF is small, but interesting if you are into that sort of thing. Pretty rad gift shop too. UPDATE – The museum has closed (Sept 2015) and is searching for a new home, read about it here.

2. Walt Disney – The Walt Disney Family Museum is much bigger than I expected, so it is worth visiting for the price ($20 Adults) and it was really interesting. Of course The Artist could have spent all day there…

3. Crissy Field – A reserve / park along the waterfront of the Presidio area. Great for a drive, ride or walk, head right to the end to get great Golden Gate views.

4. Coit Tower – A great place to get 360 degree views of the city on top of Telegraph Hill.  And it’s only $6 entry.

5. Lands End – Past the presidio on the edge of the Pacific Ocean is Lands End, a national recreation area with great views and hikes. Great for views of the GG from the other side.

6. Legion of Honour – ‘The Legion of Honor museum displays a collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an exquisite Beaux-Arts building in an unforgettable setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge’.  We didn’t get time to go in the museum unfortunately, but it is still a spectacular building to see from the front.

7. Lombard St – Having a car meant we could drive down the famous street, but it is so popular that there are people everywhere, making it a bit less special.

8. Small Gardens – All over the city are little parks, gardens, slides, steps and interesting nooks and crannies to explore! We found a few accidentally (like Fay Park in the photo above), but some you need some expert know how to seek them out  (next time I hope!)

9. Sutro Baths – These ruins are located at Lands End, north end of Ocean Beach. See them from above at Cliff House or walk down and explore.