Fun Day Trips Out of Sydney

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Stanwell Tops

My favourite thing about Sydney is that there are so many things to see that are only just a day trip from the city. There are so many beaches along the coast to visit and the Blue Mountains are less than a two-hour drive away.

Jervis Bay

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Hyams Beach

A great day trip out of the city is Jervis Bay and Hyams Beach. Hyams Beach is considered the whitest beach in the world. It’s about a three-hour drive from Sydney and we took a leisurely drive down stopping at several spots. Starting quite early in the morning our first pit stop was Stanwell Tops (first picture above). If you need to sort out any reminder of how beautiful Australia is Stanwell Tops is ideal. The view was stunning! We sat for a good ten minutes and I went to go get an affogato at the local ice cream truck. The picture explains it all really. The next stop was the Cathedral Rocks in Kiama Downs. We decided to do a bit more exploring here climbing the rocks and walking around the area.  It was a beautiful sunny day so wanted to take advantage of the weather.  Do watch the water as the waves can get quite big around the area.  Our feet were pretty soaked after walking on the rocks.

Or last pit stop before Jervis Bay was the Kiama Blowhole.  It was a bit underwhelming and there were heaps of people. However, it was a good time to get lunch. We ate at the Neptune Café as the Wharf Restaurant had a line out of the door. I got a really good burger. They have gluten free options and as a person allergic to wheat this is always ideal. I loved the quirky décor of the café.

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Kiama Blowhole

After a solid lunch we were off to our final destination, Jervis Bay. We stopped to get food to have a dinner bbq when we arrived at camp. Then we jetted off to make camp. I would defo suggest going camping for a night at least like we did. It was super convenient and close to the Hyams Beach. Also, it was reasonably cheap which is hard to come by in Australia.

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BBQ

We had an amazing group bbq and talked. It was a great night of beers, talking, and dance parties at the beach.

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Hyams Beach

The next day we spent at Hyams Beach and truly the sand is so white. The water was a bit too cold for me so I think I spent a total of five minutes in it. We only stayed a night but you could definitely do two if you wanted. After a few hours at the beach and lunch we jetted back straight to Sydney.

Norman Lindsay’s Gallery

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The grounds at Norman Lindsay’s Gallery

If you’re into art and up for an hour drive out of the city, Norman Lindsay’s Gallery is a great spot. It’s located in Faulconbridge up in the Blue Mountains. After feeling quite drained from city life it was a relief to head out to the Blue Mountains. I had never heard of Norman Lindsay but my partner had gone to the gallery a few times and liked his work. We headed out quite late in the day and took a leisurely drive out. We started the day at the café on site and had lunch before heading to the gallery. The gallery is relatively small and can be seen in an hour. Here, however, is where I learned about the Magic Pudding. I felt at a loss since it seemed like something most Aussie kids grew up with. So it was something eye opening for this American. It was cool to see the original sculptures.

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Magic Pudding

We even got to talk to an artist at the gallery that was currently working on prints and etchings. The staff was extremely friendly and answered as many questions as we had. The grounds are really lovely and honestly were my favourite part. We walked around to look at all the sculptures and fountains outside.

It was so tranquil and by closing time of the gallery we were the only one’s walking around. It was good little side trip up to the mountains to escape city life. I would definitely suggest this little spot for anyone interested in Australian art.

Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

Another good day trip away from Sydney city life is Palm Beach home of the filming of Home and Away. I won’t lie, I still haven’t seen an episode of the show. However, the beach is really beautiful. Honestly, I can’t pass up an opportunity to head to the beach. It’s about an hour drive away from Sydney. My partner and I went a few days after Christmas and surprisingly it wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be. Still a struggle to find parking but a few spots were straggling about so I can imagine it could get busier.

It was the height of summer so it was incredibly hot. The sand was at least ten degrees hotter than the air. This required us to run back to the stairs to head to the car as our feet felt on fire. Don’t forget to apply suncream more often then you think.  We made that mistake applying twice and burnt to a crisp for being out in sun for a total of three hours.  The Aussie sun plays no games.  Luckily, the water was super refreshing and after a short swim we head to get lunch. We ended up at the local fish and chips shop. I had a really amazing seafood salad that hit the spot. Across from the shop was another bit of beach and we watched the boats for a bit before heading back to Sydney.

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Palm Beach views after lunch

 

This is the great thing about Sydney really, there are so many places close by that are worth the trip to see. It is a great city for anyone that likes to explore nature and the beach is never too far away. And sometimes an escape out of the city is necessary to refresh and rejuvenate.

Live like a local in Rome

I was blown away by the beauty of Rome right from the start of my trip. Open fields, forests, flowers, and the train ride from the airport to my bed and breakfast was a sign of good things to come. My countryside retreat for three days was located 10km from the center of Rome. I decided to stay out of Rome for many reasons, the main ones being that I wanted to experience how the locals live, go where they go, eat where they eat and essentially enjoy the prices that come along with all of the above. I wanted to breathe some fresh air and not be surrounded by tourists but at the same time have the option of accessing touristy spots at short notice. Of course as I discovered, sometimes trying to fit in with the locals can be a bit challenging, as you will soon read.

I knew I was going to get lost on this trip, I wanted to. I left the train station and found my first bus without much effort. While waiting at the bus stop, I met a Peruvian guy and we started chatting about life in Italy. The Italians are a laid back bunch, which was evident as soon as I got on the bus. I approached the bus driver and confidently asked for “un biglietto grazie” (a ticket please). He looked at me as if I stepped on the wrong bus and replied ‘I don’t sell ticket,’ very well I said to myself as I looked for a seat, meanwhile acting like I knew exactly what just happened. Five stops later and I realized I had to get off on the fourth stop. Of course if you don’t indicate that you need to get off at a certain stop then the driver will not stop and will actually increase his speed. Again I pretended that I knew exactly where my stop was while trying not to break my neck while looking at the name of the stop as the driver flew by. Anyways, I got off at the next stop. I decided to walk to the previous stop because just next to it was where I would catch the second bus that would finally take me to my destination. Now this stop was not a happening stop. Meaning that I waited 30 minutes without even a hint of a bus coming in my general direction. It was getting a little dark and so I decided to walk, guided only by a photo of a google map that I took. It was a 40 minute walk and I was moving. Luckily for me, 15 minutes into my walk, a little bus zoomed past me and stopped about 20 meters ahead to let someone off. I ran up to the bus and this time, a little desperate, showed the driver where I needed to go. A friendly Italian chap overheard me and said that he was headed in the same direction and would show me how to get there. Uh a sigh of relief.

 

I finally arrived at my hotel and was greeted by Romina, who made me feel very welcome. She explained where I need to go to experience local cooking. She said go to this restaurant called La Treggia, ask for Fabrizio and tell him I sent you. This right here guys was one of the highlights of my trip. Fabrizio hooked me up and I got to taste some of the best food I have ever tasted. He is the owner and head chef and he comes to every table and takes the order himself. He recommends the special of the day and really puts love into what he does.

 

Day 2 started off with a 45 minute walk/wait for the bus followed by getting off at the wrong stop again. I finally made it to the train and took a 20 minute train ride into town. I asked for a train ticket at the station and was sold a bus ticket. I asked if I can use it for the train and was told yes. It appears that no one buys train tickets. Anyways, once I made it to Rome center, it was just beautiful sights after beautiful sights. Fountains, monuments, museums, the Coliseum, the cobbled streets. It was just amazing. I found a hidden pizza place, which just opened for lunch and not too long after I arrived, the place was full. The third best pizza I have ever tasted. After Milan and after Fabrizio from the night before.

The most awe inspiring thing for me in Rome was the Trevi fountain. It was on my list of sights to see and I had more or less an idea of where it was, but it caught me by surprise as I turned the corner. I was really impressed and was left in awe of its majestic beauty.  When in Rome definitely go to the Trevi Fountain.

I did some really amazing meditation in the center of Rome. I plugged in my headphones, blasted Ave Maria, and took in deep breathes while getting lost wandering the cobbled streets, each piece of architecture more impressive than the next.  I highly recommend doing this.

The Vatican is epic. St. Peters Basilica and The Sistine Chapel  was all just so beautiful.  I’m not a fan of museums, but I decided to pay the 16 euros to see the Vatican museum. It was well worth it. You need at least one full day in the Vatican. St. Peters Basilica is one of the most awe inspiring pieces of Architecture I have ever seen. After half the day in the Vatican, I then took the train back to the country side.  Day two ended of with a top dinner at Fabrizios followed by an even better sleep.

On day 3 I decided to explore some of the street art in Rome. Rome is known for having some of the most amazing street art in the world. It is kind of strange to see a door without graffiti, a painting, or an arrangement of stickers. Seeing a mixture of the old with the new is very refreshing. After my street art tour, I decided to have a drink in one of the pubs. I found the owner to be very friendly and the afternoon was spent making new friends while enjoying some locally brewed Italian beer. It was great.

Word of advice! Don’t assume that your departing flight is going to be from the same airport where you landed. Man did I screw this one up. Monday morning, 04h30am, I’m up and getting ready to leave in order to catch my 06h30 flight back to Paris. I get to the train station around 05h15 where I patiently wait for my train that will take me to the airport just 10 minutes away, life is good.  While waiting, I just decided to actually look at my boarding pass for the first time and I noticed that the airport code was different. Quick side note, another reason why I chose to stay out of Rome is that I would be close to the airport to catch my early flight on Monday. Whoa was I smart. Anyways after swearing under my breath and calling myself an idiot over and over again, I went to a small gas station just next door and I requested a taxi to take me to the other airport in Rome, which is located on the exact opposite side of where I was. After 30 minutes of waiting and two calls to the taxi company later, I accepted the fact that 1. The taxi was not going to show up and 2. I was going to miss my flight. I took the train into Rome, caught a taxi to the other airport, which was about a 30 minute drive, and then I was told that the next flight back to Paris is in 12 hours, pay 100 euros and it’s yours. Oh how we learn. In many ways this was a great lesson. I was so preoccupied in living like the locals and being close to catch my flight that I forgot to notice a rather important detail. In travelling these things happen, they must happen in order for us to not only learn, but to also find the positive in everything. Rome was amazing. I highly recommend that you go and visit or live there if you can. Walk as much as possible, learn some Italian before you arrive and remember to live like the locals. Visit Trevi Fountain, download Ave Maria and don’t forget to double check your departing flight. Until next time Cheers and safe travels.

Road Tripping In Tassie

Part Two: Tassie

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Freycinet National Park

Last minute trip to Tasmania was the best idea! Planned the trip and booked flights on a Friday and up in the air the following Monday. We were only there until Thursday of the same week so it was intensely jam-packed.   Flew into Hobart, rented a car, and we were on our way to Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay. It was little over a two-hour drive but it was definitely worth it. It started out as quite a gloomy day but by the time we got to Wineglass Bay it was completely clear. The walk to Wineglass Bay is a little arduous but the overlook for it is beyond worth it. It’s positively gorgeous and the water is so blue. We walked down to the beach and walked around and sat listening to the ocean waves and enjoying the view.

After all the walking around the park and taking in the beautiful beach we were on our way to Launceston for the night. Following a super early flight and all the driving we were very exhausted by the time we arrived. We ended having dinner at Burger Got Soul and I had a delicious Tassie Tempter on gluten-free bread. I’m still trying to accept the idea of having an egg on my burger.

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Cradle Mountain Boathouse

The next morning we got up and headed straight to Cradle Mountain to do the Cradle Mountain lake walk. It was a very moody and misty day. Luckily we didn’t get rained on until the very end. The lake looked rather mystical that day with the fog and eerie sounds of barely anyone around. I would definitely suggest going on a clear day so you can actually see the mountain however, we didn’t have time to really schedule it out. However, it was a good trek.

Following this we were on our way again back to Hobart. We ended up there late evening checked into the cutest Airbnb in North Hobart, called Pocketspace, and we were off on the search for food. We ended up getting tacos at Sons of Baja. The tacos were not bad but unfortunately I consider myself a taco connoisseur from growing up in Florida where there’s great Mexican food they had tough shoes to fill.

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Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve view

Next morning we were out early again and headed to Bruny Island. Bruny Island was probably my favourite part of the whole trip. We took the ferry over to the Island and we were off to take the Bruny Island Wildlife Cruise. We stopped along the way at the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve for a spectacular view of Bruny Island. We then had to make sure my mate could sign up for the cruise. After they were signed in we stopped off at Adventure Bay just to sit and take in the beach. The cruise itself was amazing. It last about 3 hours and you get to head into the Southern Ocean and see a bunch of seals. The only downside is it gets quite cold and I really regret not bringing another jacket. I was pretty cold for most of the ride. After the amazing views of Bruny Island we headed back onto the Island for a winery stop. We ended up at Bruny Island Premier Wines. I got a lot of food and I do not regret the food baby afterwards. I started with clam chowder and a bunch of oysters. For dessert I got a cheese plate. I won’t lie the cheese in Tassie is AMAZING! Honestly, the best part. I also had a very good class of Chardonnay.

After we ate clearly way too much we rolled ourselves back to the car and headed off the island back to Hobart. We took it easy for a bit and ended up walking down sto Hobart’s main centre, Battery Point, and having dinner at Monty’s on Montpelier. I had probably the best bbq beef I’ve had in my life. Of course we had to have more oysters so I had that to start.

On our last day we had every intention to go to the art museum MONA but we decided to have brunch instead. We ended up at Providence Café that was close to our Airbnb. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a long time. Not to mention the owner is apparently gluten free so there’s a lot of different options. I had a great scramble with basil and feta cheese on toast. Also, a great cup of coffee.

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Scramble from Providence Cafe

I really wish I brought Tassie coffee back with me. After a very relaxed morning we headed to the airport to drop off the car and wait for our flight. All in all, it was a whirlwind of a trip but I’m glad I went. The people were lovely, the food was a hit, and it was so beautiful. Not to mention, I ended up having a 30-minute conversation with an employee at the airport, which I feel would never happen in Sydney. I love random talks with strangers. Unfortunately (fortunately), now I want to head back to Tassie and explore more. I’ll just have to plan another trip out there.

Singapore

 

Happy New Year guys.  It’s been a while, but I’m back to tell you guys about my trip to Singapore.  This wasn’t my first trip to Singapore. It’s slowly becoming like a second home. This year I had to shoot a new line for the app company that I was with early this year in California, and Vegas.  

The day started great I didn’t forget anything and cleared security without any kind of problem. Boarded my flight to New York on time.  I had a very cute and funny lady next to me to make the hours fly bye easily. Got to New York early, which is always nice, found my gate and as unusual I get pass the checks with no problem again. In my mind this was going to be one of the best trips to date. I kept it to myself and boarded my flight to Beijing. I passed out on that 13hr flight.  That was the end of the fun time. I woke up and noticed we’re a bit late getting into Beijing. Once we landed the flight was over an hour late.  My 2hr layover became one hour. It took me 40mins to get through customs in China, to get turned around and sent back to the front to get a new tickets cause I was told I wouldn’t make my flight.  Heads up for anyone flying into China just note it takes about 2hrs to get to your gate.  I had to say they made it up to me with an upgrade to business class.  I got to use the business lounge to take a shower, eat some food, and wait on my flight.

Made it to Singapore early the next day and it felt great to be back home.  Had a good 2 days to rest and enjoy the life in lion city (Singapore). Met up with a lot of old friends and I made it to the wedding of some of my best friends.  Great weekend all around until Monday work day.  Had the first team meeting with everyone in person.  Made plans for the app and everything that comes with it. The next 3 days of this trip was nothing but work.

After the craziness I found time to run the streets with my favorite set of Germans. We made our way to a Japanese Garden in the middle of the city. Spent a couple hours walking around and taking in the zen vibes. The best part of the day is when we made it back to the heart of the city to have lunch with one of our best friends. Before heading out again. Next we headed into the rich part of town and stopped off at the Leica Store.  Walking into the shop, to my surprise, I was handed the first Leica SL camera in the country.  Then I was invited to the release party the next night.  I had to hand back the camera to the store, but they set me up with a new one to shoot the latest set of products.   We then continued into the city on a food hunt. If you don’t know Singapore is food capital of the world…lol. This day was one of the most relaxing days of the trip.  Ended the day with dinner and drinks with some more friends.

Then it was back to work to get the fashion stuff I was there to shoot done.  Back to the streets of Singapore to find spots and get the work done.  It was a easy day of shooting for the most part.  After we finished the last shot of the day. We ran back to the house to get ready for the release party for the new camera by Leica.  Spoke to some of the heads of Leica Singapore. The hors d’oeuvres weren’t cutting it after a long day of work, so we said our goodbyes and headed to dinner.  We all finally had time to chill and enjoy the rest of the trip with plans to an island off the coast of Singapore.  We planned to sleep in and meet up with everyone the next day to hop onto the boat.  Rent some bikes to ride around the island.

After a great breakfast we loaded up on water and headed to the boats. Made it to the island in about 25mins, and it was a straight line to get some bikes. Then we took off from there.  First stop was a temple village at the foot of the quarry.  We set off from the temple to the top of the quarry. On the way up we passed a shrine dedicated to a German girl that went missing on the island. After taking the long way to the top and almost dying a couple times it was a blessing to see the view from the top. On the way down we found our way to the beach. Spent about 30mins just vibing and enjoying the moment. Headed back to the main lands to have dinner and I finally got my hands on a Milo Godzilla. To me that was the whole trip.  Lol. Then last 2 days were work, pool, and shopping. 

The night I fly out to go back to the states was, so relaxing.  woke up in china and had breakfast some coffee a lot of coffee…haha.  Then board the plane back to New York where i found out i had a row of seats to myself.  I got a lot of work done i watch movies and and had a lot of Chinese candy till i was back home…haha.

Key West- because you don’t have to shovel sunshine

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The Keys are truly a diamond in Florida’s vacation destinations.  The state already has loads to offer but the Keys vary from being an adventure location to relaxation destination to the New Orleans of Florida.  I feel like I was able to experience all these sides of this great area.

To start with, as a native Floridian I’ve actually never traveled to the Keys post 21 so this was a great opportunity for me to experience the crazy bars.  The last time I was in the Keys I was 20 so it’s been a good seven years since however, not much has changed there.  I actually consider that a great thing!

Now for the tale of the Key West Adventure!

I went with a mate of mine and we drove down from Ft. Myers.  I realize they have the Key West Express but it was a bit too pricey and my car gets AMAZING gas mileage.  Thank you Honda!  The drive was relatively smooth with only about 30 minutes of rain in Miami.  Honestly, it was great seeing how the landscape changed from Miami to being on the islands.  So many mangroves!!  After a long five hour drive we made it to our hotel.  We stayed at a historic Key West Inn called Albury Court Hotel.  It was a great location and about a five minute walking distance from Duval St.  We didn’t plan this but our trip ended up being perfectly timed to the yearly Hemingway festival.  Basically, that means there were a lot of older gentlemen with fantastic beards walking around.  There were several events that went along with this like a look-a-like contest.  The best event was the running of the bulls but we’ll get to that later!  So the city was packed with people and of course it was very hot which is all you can expect from a Florida summer.

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Islamorada Tiki Bar

Our first stop on the drive was in Islamorada.  We went to a place called the Holiday Isle Raw Bar and had our first pina coladas of the trip. This was a great stopping point mainly because the drive is so long and it’s nice to stretch your legs.  Also, I hear they have the best pina coladas in Islamorada and it lived up to the hype.  Not to mention the view of the water was amazing!  After we reached our hotel it was well past dinner time but we decided to search out some fine oysters anyway.  We went to Half Shell Raw Bar to get some seafood.  The oysters Rockefeller was not what I was expecting (it had spinach in it) but the mussels and ceviche were totally on point.  After that we wandered down to Duval to check out the scene.  We ended up at Irish Kevin’s.  I’m not going to lie the band was fantastic and very hilarious.  My mate ended up being brought on stage and danced.  They were great about catering to weddings/birthdays.  It seems like a great place to start a night out of drinking.  We ended up meeting some great people there as well.

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The next day was our sunniest day and no rain was in the forecast.  That made it our beach day!!  We walked along most of Duval street to get to the Southernmost point and the Southernmost Point Beach.  It’s a tiny beach but it has a bar for coverage from the sun and to get your drink on.  It was so odd to see a line at the Southernmost Point buoy.  I figured no one would be site-seeing in the middle of July in Florida but there was a good 30 minute wait that we did not partake in.  Several hours on the beach later we were well ready for lunch.  We went to a hole in the wall B.O.’s Fish Wagon which has the best tacos on the island.  We liked it so much we ate there twice!  It was delicious and cheap.  My two favorite things!  There were adorable little chicks with a few hens and roosters as well.  The chicks were so cute and I even got to pet one!  We went back to the hotel to clean up after the beach and get ready for a night out.

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I wanted to do cliché Key West things so our first stop was Fat Tuesdays.  If you like sugary sweet slushie drinks then this place is for you. I could only manage one though. It was super sweet overload!!  After several drinks around town our search was on for dinner.  We ended up at Turtle Kraals and I had the best potato skins of my life.  They were incredibly tasty and with the addition of cilantro and cotija cheese I had to forcibly pace myself when I was eating then.  Tried the ceviche here as well and it was oddly served with popcorn rather than chips.  It was tasty regardless!  After that we went to Irish Kevins again and a local bar Caroline’s.  Then called it a night.

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Southernmost Beach

Our last full day was a bit rainy to start so we wandered slowly down to Duval. We made a point to make it to the Running of the Bulls/open market on Duval.  The Running of the Bulls was pretty hilarious!  Basically, a bunch of Hemingway lookalikes ride plastic bulls around Key West and on a float one guy holds a barrel of rum with a bunch of other lookalikes.  It was definitely a site to see!  There was plenty of time between the last lookalike contest and this event that we decided to go to Mallory square. Before that we hit up lunch at Pepe’s.  This place is right across from B.O.’s.  It’s a staple of the Keys and the food was amazing!!  The photos inside show just how old and iconic this restaurant is. Of course we had to hit up Kino’s shoe shop.  I of course bought a pair of Key West made sandals.  Then we went to the shipwreck museum.  Now, I am very biased.  I am a maritime archaeologist and I’m not a big fan of treasure hunters and the like.  I’m more into conservation, preservation, and the Indiana Jones ideology of “It belongs in a museum.”  There were definitely a few things that made me question the intentions of the original ship wreckers and wrecking masters. It was very cool to learn the history though and the guy that lead us around was pretty funny.  Honestly, the best part of this museum was the observation tower.  It shows you a lot of the city and provides a wonderful view of the Keys.

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After that we made our way back to the lookalike contest.  It was fun to see all these people there for it including Paula Deen who I had no idea her husband was a lookalike.  The drawback of this was the National Guard that was there.  They were rooting for one of the Hemingway’s.  They were rude and obnoxious.  One of the lookalikes had bought me a few drinks earlier that day so I was of course rooting for him when they found out I wasn’t rooting for their Hemingway it was like all hell broke loose.  It took the fun out of the spectacle which is sad because the whole event seemed so silly fun.  It even raises money for a good cause.  It definitely put a sour note on the event for me.  After this event, I really wanted to see a Drag Show.  So we ended up at Aqua and had a great time!! One of the Drag Queen’s was beyond fabulous!  Actually, they were all absolutely fabulous.

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Our last and final day was pretty relaxing despite the rain.  We decided to go beer hopping while the rain was pouring on us.  What else does a person do on a rainy Key West day other than drink?  We started at Capt. Tony’s Saloon then wandered to Green Parrot Bar and then we ended up at Sloppy Joe’s.  The staff there was incredibly nice even though the crowd had died down from the Hemingway event ending.  We ended up talking to everyone at the bar and all of the bar staff including security.  That’s the one thing I love about the Keys.  At every bar we went to everyone was so willing to talk to strangers and to hear their stories.  I am a total extrovert so I kind of live on these interactions with people.  We spent the reminder of our night at Sloppy Joe’s and this is definitely a night I’ll remember hanging out with one of my best friends.

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The next day was spent sadly driving in the sun. It was so sunny for our drive back we almost wanted to stay another day.  Despite the trip being too short it was wonderful.  My only qualm with this ENTIRE trip was that the point was to end up at the Dry Tortugas.  We called three weeks in advance and they told us don’t worry about making reservations.  We called two days before we wanted to go and they were full up.  I was pretty pissed off!  Either the communication within the company is bad or we were just blatantly lied too.  Although, it does give me a reason to come and visit again.

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I know we didn’t do all of the typical Key West sites, i.e. Hemingway House, Conch Train, snorkeling, etc.  The fact is that my mate and I have both been to the Keys several times and we didn’t want to see things we’ve already done.  I would suggest a sunset sailing cruise and definitely try snorkeling if the weather is good.  Other than that, the Keys are a great traveling destination.  If you’re ever going down that way, even if it’s to Miami, I would suggest going on the long drive down and checking out this wonderful seascape.

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View from Mallory Square

Bristol: The Land of Babbers, Brunel, And Banksy

The Harbour

This is Caitlin writing again and I’m so excited for this post!  Now on to my favourite city in England located in the South West, Bristol. It is the sixth most populous city in England and the eighth most populous in the UK. I won’t lie, I went to Bristol Uni and that makes me incredibly biased to this amazing cultural city. I had the best time studying for my master’s in maritime archaeology. I decided to come back and visit. I timed the trip perfectly to be there for the May Bank Holiday. A lot of my uni mates now work so it was great to spend that Monday with them.

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Tepees in Queen’s Square

Bristol is one of those cities that always seems to have something going on. If you want to do something you will find something. It’s incredible! I love the community and close-knit feeling to the city that is Bristol. It has such a great and open vibe to it. It’s not stuffy or overly posh. While I was there a few great festivals were going on: Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2015 and Food Connections 2015. They were both awesome events. Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2015 set up tepees in Queen’s Square and served tapas while a live band was going outside. While Food Connections 2015 took over College Green. I love any place that has food stalls and both of these events had plenty of food to try. Unfortunately, the Bank Holiday turned grey and it up raining (it was so England of it to be honest).

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Wills Memorial Tower

If you’ve never been to Bristol there a few iconic places you must at least visit. Wills Memorial Tower is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture. The first time I walked in I felt like I was on the set of Harry Potter. The stained glass is amazing and worth seeing in person. A walk to the harbour is completely necessary. I spent a lot of my time during my degree at Pitcher and Piano down at the harbour. You will always see a great fireworks show there during the Harbour Festival as well. While you’re in the harbour you should go and visit the SS Great Britain. I had many lectures for my degree there and it is a cool museum.

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Stokes Croft road covered in street art

Another thing not to miss is the Stokes Croft area. Bristol isn’t home to Banksy for nothing. There’s always amazing works of street art blanketing the city. I always have to take a walk down Stokes Croft to see all of the new art. It’s what makes Stokes Croft, Stokes Croft. I always start my walk from the iconic Bear Pit and go from there to Attic Bar and along to The Canteen. If there’s one place I love to get a drink in Stokes Croft its The Canteen. I also enjoy No. 51 Stokes Croft. Although there’s many great places to go in the area.

Sunny Clifton

Another area that’s worth exploring is Clifton. It might be the polar opposite of Stokes Croft in every way. It’s a bit more posh and cleaner but the views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge are always worth the walk over. I really enjoy the Mall and the Coronation Tap in Clifton. The Coronation Tap makes their own cider and it’s absolutely deadly and delicious. It’s probably the most potent cider in % of alcohol I’ve ever had and that’s why they only serve it as half pints.

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Most of my time in Bristol was hanging out with my mates I met while living in England. I went to a great dinner at Alma Tavern (http://www.almataverntheatre.co.uk/). A place I’ve never been to before and had a great meal. I also had dinner at one of my favourite places the Burger Joint (http://www.theburgerjoint.co.uk/). Any place that serves gluten-free burgers is a place for me. I’m allergic to wheat and peanuts so this always make a restaurant skyrocket to the top of my list. Another amazing place for food is Townhouse (http://www.thetownhousebristol.co.uk/). There food is positively incredible!! I’ve never been disappointed and £10 for 3 courses is very hard to beat. Also their chocolate nemesis is to die for. It’s vegan and gluten-free and is complete chocolatey goodness. One of my mates and I hit up Brown’s for their great happy hour with cocktails (http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/locations/bristol/). I love their drink called “British Royal,” but I love anything with Prosecco in it.

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Banksy’s art on the side of the Highbury Vaults

As a post grad in the archaeology and anthropology department I’ve spent a lot of time at the Hawthorns and the Highbury Vaults drinking way too much Thatcher’s Gold. They are two places I could not miss on my week back in Bristol. Not to mention the department has a weekly lecture and we always head to those two places afterwards. I of course went to the lecture and all I really wanted was to just hug everyone while the speaker was talking on. It’s incredibly hard to maintain relationships over continents but it’s so worth it.

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My university’s crest
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My very unhealthy diet of cheese and Thatchers Gold

For our night out we stopped at OMG Bristol, a gay friendly dance club/bar for my mate’s birthday. It was good fun to get a dance in and hangout with all of my mates. They usually play some of the best music as well however this night wasn’t there best but we still danced our bums off. After that, as a staple of most graduates from Bristol I climbed in the Victoria Rooms fountain as my final send off from Briz.

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Street sign in Clifton

As I said, I will not lie about Bristol being my favourite city in all of England. I love it and miss it every day.

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More Stokes Croft street art

My final day in England was spent in London as I was flying out of Heathrow. I met up with one of my mates who live in Battersea and we went out to the Magic Garden Pub in Battersea. They had a DJ playing amazing electro-swing and now I am completely in love with that genre of music. Not to mention that they had several bands from Bristol playing a mix of roots, reggae, funk, soul, and ska. It included: First Degree Burns and Mango Factory with DJ Jon Bongly and here’s the link to the event https://www.facebook.com/events/436013076547814/.

It was very hard to get on my flight the next morning. Trust me I almost stayed. The thought of how long my passport allows me to stay legally crossed my mind far too many times. However, this was a trip for the record books. I cannot wait to go back already!

Photos of all of my favourite street art in Stokes Croft commences, if you know any of the artists names let me know in the comments:

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Adventures in London town and Salisbury

This is Caitlin, the other half of this blog. I’m a maritime archaeologist living in Florida and I absolutely love to travel. I lived in Bristol, England for my master’s degree and I have to say I am very biased to this country. I love England! It’s my home away from home and I loved getting the chance to come back and visit in May. Even crossing a few more things off of my list of things to see and do. I’m going to start with the first half of my trip, London and a day trip to Salisbury to see Stonehenge.

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London. Where do I even begin? This is perhaps one of my most favourite big cities on the planet. There’s always so much to see and always something going on. I love the vibe the city has, it’s not too stuffy with all of its expats from various nations but it still has the refinery of all things quintessentially English, stiff upper lip included. Yet still, I find the people of London so warm despite its consistent rain and October like weather. Luckily for me, my first day was sunny, cold but sunny! I was elated. This rarely ever happens. I decided to walk around Kensington Gardens and take advantage of the beauty. Not to mention I love to visit the Serpentine Gallery. The Serpentine is very much a niche-market gallery. It’s quite modern but it’s always so unique showcasing one artist’s pieces.

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After that stop, I decided to still take advantage of the sun and visit Big Ben. For once he was shining and glimmering in the sun. A wonderful site indeed!!

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After this, I took the long jaunt up to the British Museum and along the way I ran into a May Day parade. Quite frankly, I have no idea what I ran into but it was thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square. (If anyone knows, let me know in the comments section) However, the British Museum is a must! As a historian and archaeologist, this is a happy place for me.

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I enjoyed all of the Assyrian and Egyptian art and artefacts. That is a period I’m obsessed with so I spend most of my time in that section. Luckily, on the maps they list all of the must-see artefacts and there locations in the museum if you don’t have enough time.

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After spending hours there, I was supposed to meet up with my mates on the Southbank for a festival done by Campo Viejo for Spanish cuisine and Sangria.

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This is where my phone died. After not meeting up with any my friends and having the keys to my mates flat. I went to a nearby stand for comedy festival going on and asked if they had a charger.  They inevitably found one and started charging my phone. Nearly in tears and overwhelmed by the amount of people on Southbank a lovely English woman afford for me to use her phone while I waited for my phone to charge. She invited me to sit with all of her friends outside the comedy festival and have a drink. I’ve never been more thankful to someone for taking me in like that. If you ever think the English are too tough or stiff upper lipped I hope this disapproves that. They were so friendly and welcoming! And were more than just a “polite Brit.” Once my phone was charged I finally met up with my friend and had some tapas and sangria in a nearby restaurant. The food was delicious! That was the busiest day I think I’ve ever had on two to three hours of sleep (I flew in that day). After a four hour dinner it was off to bed for the next day.

The second day was also a much filled day. However, this day was spent mostly in Greenwich and I fell in love with the area. First, I visited the Greenwich market and for a steal bought Jerk Pork with coleslaw and rice, a gluten-free cupcake and donut from Ruby’s, AND a flavoured coffee for only 10 pounds. A foodies dream! The food was so good!

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After eating and taking the views, I ventured onto the Cutty Sark and to the National Maritime Museum. As a maritime archaeologist this was a must see but I never got the chance while I was living in England. I had to go this time around. The Cutty Sark was a clipper ship built in the late 1860s.

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I loved learning the history of the ship and playing with all of the hands-on displays. The views on top of the ship were good even for a grey day. The National Maritime Museum was very informative and a bit overrun with children that day but it was Saturday so that was expected. As always, I geeked out in the museum. There was a lot of stuff I learned about while doing my degree so it was quite cool to see in person or at least have the knowledge background to it all. Next, I ventured back to my mate’s place in Camden and hung out until morning for a trip to Bristol to drop my stuff and head to Salisbury.

There’s an overwhelming amount to see in London but I tried to hit up my favourites and now new favourites. This isn’t a city you can tackle in two days. You need a lot more time to investigate, look, and try all of the things that make London, quite frankly London. Here’s my list of must-sees if it’s your first time to visit:

Big Ben

London Eye

Buckingham Palace

Tower Bridge

Kensington Palace

Tower of London

British Museum

Don’t forget to eat at an English pub and get some local beer. Also, Wahaca and Bodean’s BBQ are two great restaurants. That’s just a few but they are all worth it.

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Now onto Salisbury and Stonehenge. One of my mates from Uni moved to Portsmouth for a job and we decided to meet up half way in Salisbury. Giving me a chance to visit the Cathedral and Stonehenge. The morning started off with the Cathedral and seeing the Magna Carta. It was so sunny!! The Cathedral was stunning with all of the stained glass windows and dim lighting. The people working there were extremely helpful and even started telling us there personal stories. They talked about times they’ve been when they were younger and stories from ages ago about the Cathedral itself. They made sure we didn’t miss out on any of the important little nooks and crannies to the place. Seeing the Magna Carta was definitely a highlight.

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Afterwards, we went to a nearby pub and I had the ham steak and a pint. This allowed my friend and me to catch up and take it easy. We decided to drive over to Stonehenge as it’s a bit out of the ways but along the motorway. We walked to Stonehenge as opposed to taking the bus. I was a bit annoyed as the communication about the bus and how close you could get to Stonehenge was kind of unclear. We thought we had to pay for the bus ride but not to get up close to the henge but unfortunately it was the other way round. We did get quite close for free though. There’s a field right next to it and you get a very decent view. It was surreally windy up there though. I was glad I brought my coat but I wish I wore wellies in that field. Next, we had to say our goodbyes and I headed back to Bristol via the train.

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Here’s me with my mate above!

The next post will be about my time in Bristol. I could write a novel about that city so I figure I should separate the two. Let me know of any of your favourite places in London that I should visit the next time I go.  Here are some other photos from the trip:

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