Three Days in Melbourne

This weekend I’m headed back to Vegas to photograph the finished kitchen and master bathroom in the flip house, both are finally done and I can’t wait to share them with you, hopefully next week once I edit the photos. 🙂

I was going through my memory photos on my phone and up popped the fact that at this exact time last year, I was visiting my cousin in Melbourne, Australia. Then I remembered OMG I totally forgot to share about my experience there. Bad blogger!

I’d been to Australia before, but hadn’t visited the city of Melbourne yet, so it was at top of my list. I envisioned it would be balmy and warm like Gold Coast but since it’s much farther south, Melbourne experiences more dramatic seasons, especially cold winters. I was there in February of 2017 (the height of summer) so I was lucky to have blue skies during my visit.

Melbourne impressed me right away as a very cultural city, it’s quite sophisticated. It reminded me so much of San Francisco, with its medley of classic architecture and modern high rise buildings in a vibrant downtown.

 

 

Here are the highlights from my visit, through the eyes of me, the willing and happy tourist, and my cousin, the local know-it-all:

Queen Victoria Market

My cousin Andrew was an excellent tour guide and our first stop was the famous Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne’s biggest attraction and for good reason. On Tuesday, and also Thursday through Sunday, you’ll find outdoor stalls that sell Australian made goods and produce, it’s an energetic place filled with locals who are tasting, shopping, and enjoying life and every week there are cultural festivals happening.

My cousin insisted we get donuts and coffee first. (No objection). We stood in a brief line at the the donut van to grab a paper bag of sweets before we headed to the market stalls.

 

above image via: queen victoria market

 

 

 

I had a belt made but I do regret not buying authentic Ugg boots… oh well, another excuse to go back 🙂

 

 

Indoors, you’ll find many purveyors of fine foods inside a light filled brass trimmed interior. We browsed the stalls, just so I could get a feel for it.

Markets are always a favorite place to linger, so I soaked it all in. Spice and cheese shops and savory goods galore. We stopped for lunch at The Bratwurst Shop despite its exceptionally long line, but my cousin guaranteed it was worth the wait to so I chose a spicy one with mustard, wow so good.

 

 

 

 

Coffee is King

The coffee scene is huge in Melbourne, and my cousin is a connoisseur. He took me on tasting tour to several coffee shops just to show me how very much into coffee they are in that town, and how many ways they prepare it.

Micro roasters are around every corner, selling their distinctive blends. I tried so many I got a crazy caffeine high. In Melbourne, they describe the flavors of coffee in a similar (obsessive) way like we do in wine country. Hints of spice, fruit, caramel, etc. This article describes just how seriously the Australians take coffee.

 

 

 

 

Downtown Monuments

I spent one full day on my own, walking in a loop around Melbourne, starting at Flagstaff Gardens, heading north into Carlton, cruising over to East Melbourne on foot, then headed through Fitzroy Gardens to Southbank and back up to the downtown area. It was about ten miles total but it was a perfect day to meander, so I stretched it out and I took all day to do it.

 

For those less ambitious, note Melbourne has a great public transportation system and there is a Free Tram Zone that will take you all over the inner city, a great advantage for tourists who are lodging downtown and don’t want to walk to see all the sights. Just hop on and hop off!

 

The State Library was a beautiful building inside and out, and a popular spot, with lots of people hanging out on the front lawn, sunning themselves. I was charmed by the men playing chess outside the front doors. Inside, the interior is cool and quiet, all marble hallways with a grand staircase, and rotating exhibits and a giant room where a few hundred people are doing concentrated research.

 

 

I walked over to Carlton Gardens where I watched a bride getting her photograph taken in front of the beautiful Exhibition building.

 

Next, I walked down Spring Street past Parliament, it was a grand building that you have to stop and admire for a few minutes because of its amazing architecture.

 

Fitzroy Gardens was just down the street, it’s a large beautiful park that’s lovely to stroll around. It also houses a conservatory of flowers where I was surrounded by the most beautiful begonias I’ve ever seen.

Maybe it was just because I was enchanted by my location or perhaps it was the contrasting liner on the edge of the petals that I found so captivating. I just remember in that moment thinking they were the most perfect flowers I’d ever seen.

 

 

 

 

My next stop took me to a place everyone should visit: Flinders Street Station, one of the most recognizable buildings in Melbourne, it’s next to Federation Square, a modern abstract building that is a stark contrast to the old world design of the train station.

 

 

 

By afternoon, my feet were tired but I crossed over the Yarra River to Southbank where a festival was happening along the promenade.

 

 

It was hot and crowded, so I ducked into a restaurant to talk to the bartender, they always have the best insight on things to see. I ordered a local beer while we chatted, and I had to take a picture of this label, it cracked me up, so Aussie.

 

 

My cousin recommended Shanghai Street for dinner, a popular place downtown (I could tell because of the line) but I got a single seat by the window and ordered kung pao chicken with a side of dumplings and they were amazing, maybe the best I’ve ever had.

 

While I ate my dinner, I had a 20 minute conversation with a local businessman who sat next to me, he had visited San Francisco on business several times and we engaged in a great conversation about the similarities between our cities.

This is one of my favorite things about traveling, when I go out, 9 times out of 10 I end up striking up a conversation with a new person sitting next to me and by the end of our time together, I’m reminded that we’re all human, and deep down we really want the same things: to be connected, to share good food, a few stories, and to be surrounded with good friends and loving family.

Street Art

In pockets of Melbourne, you’ll find streets where artist have coated the walls with murals, caricatures, and graffiti. Melbourne is famous for it, so keep your eyes open, or consult this list that pinpoints the streets where it can be seen.

 

 

 

If you like to shop, there’s a district for it downtown. There is also a Chinatown to visit, another reason Melbourne reminded me very much of San Francisco.

 

If you like Italian food, go to Hardware Lane for the cafe scene. One night, we dined at a great South American restaurant called Mamasita. Another hidden gem I really loved was was Berlin Bar where inside, you travel back in time to the Cold War. At Berlin Bar, they have the most innovative cocktails and a magician entertained us at our table while we waited for our drinks. Definitely worth the visit if you seek someplace eclectic and cool.

 

I have no fear of traveling alone, but I was lucky to meet up with my American born (now Aussie) cousin, who I see so rarely because we live continents apart. He welcomed me to his home, shared all his knowledge of the area, and we spent hours having great conversation and laughing about so many memories from our childhood. How fun it was to look back on it twenty years later. It reminded me that connection and being present in the moment are so important, and how essential it is to cherish your times spent with special people you’re lucky to have in your life.

This picture makes me smile so much because in the States, Pabst is the cheapest beer ever, but in a bistro in his suburb of Geelong, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is a big deal and he has to pay extra for it. We both thought that was so funny! Yet another thing I love about travel, those unexpected details that reveal themselves to you when you get out and explore the world.

   

I was lucky to spend one full day with my cousin out at the coast. He strapped three bikes to the back of his car and took me on a drive to the ocean where he and his wife showed me some the surf spots in Jan Juc and Torquay. We went on a long bike ride from Winkipop and Bells Beach all along this breathtaking coastline. That was an amazing day, what a view!

 

 

 

 

(I should note these images in this post were taken with my iPhone, but now I use this Canon Powershot camera to shoot better quality images. I love that camera so much for travel for taking amazing pictures and video!)

I left Melbourne having experienced great scenery, food, and company and having fallen in love with yet another amazing city. Have you been to Melbourne, or do you live there? I’m thinking of returning at the end of the year so I can hop over to Tasmania and explore that island. What did I miss? What are your favorite places?

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Weekend Reading

Hello! Happy weekend to you all. I’m busy hosting a party for a bunch of 14 year old girls today. They’re so cute, they just want to go to In & Out Burger, and then eat cupcakes and “hang out together for a few hours”. Ha! It’s a nice change from all those years of finding a venue, making party bags, buying balloons, blah blah blah, all those details that go into planning a kid’s birthday party when they’re young.

On Sunday, I’m working on a few little projects around the house, mostly organization stuff, all those corners that seem to be out of control and need attention. Also headed to the theater in a neighboring town where they’re showing old black and white movies. Sunday’s screening is The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Have you seen it? I haven’t in years, but that duo is one of my favorites. Pass the popcorn!

Favorite links:

 

I loved browsing this stylist’s portfolio.

How fun: this colorful Brooklyn apartment.

Making a new home look old with limewash mineral paint.

Do you love farmhouse kitchens? Here are 30 to inspire.

I love the new look of Kim’s laundry room.

Want softer bed sheets? Read this.

Style tips from designer David Hicks.

I really enjoyed listening to this interview.

Tips on how to take better travel photographs.

The most remote beaches in the world.

Lifestyle choices that help you get happy.

LOL: 12 signs you’re an interiors addict. (Agreed).

.

Weekend Reading

Hello! Happy weekend to you all. I’m busy hosting a party for a bunch of 14 year old girls today. They’re so cute, they just want to go to In & Out Burger, and then eat cupcakes and “hang out together for a few hours”. Ha! It’s a nice change from all those years of finding a venue, making party bags, buying balloons, blah blah blah, all those details that go into planning a kid’s birthday party when they’re young.

On Sunday, I’m working on a few little projects around the house, mostly organization stuff, all those corners that seem to be out of control and need attention. Also headed to the theater in a neighboring town where they’re showing old black and white movies. Sunday’s screening is The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Have you seen it? I haven’t in years, but that duo is one of my favorites. Pass the popcorn!

Favorite links:

 

I loved browsing this stylist’s portfolio.

How fun: this colorful Brooklyn apartment.

Making a new home look old with limewash mineral paint.

Do you love farmhouse kitchens? Here are 30 to inspire.

I love the new look of Kim’s laundry room.

Want softer bed sheets? Read this.

Style tips from designer David Hicks.

I really enjoyed listening to this interview.

Tips on how to take better travel photographs.

The most remote beaches in the world.

Lifestyle choices that help you get happy.

LOL: 12 signs you’re an interiors addict. (Agreed).

.

Patterned Peel & Stick Flooring

I’m so totally bored with the plain Jane linoleum floor in my laundry room. I’ve covered it up with a rug for years but today I placed an order for a patterned peel & stick vinyl tiles that will amp up the style factor in that space.

In my search, I came across a lot of really cool patterns for floor installations from several Etsy sellers, and many of these are available for use as a backsplash or stair riser.

The encaustic tile trend is still going strong, and these peel and stick versions are a nice alternative that can give you the look without the cost especially if you don’t want to commit to permanent tile installation. Here’s a roundup of several cool patterns that would look great in a bathroom, laundry room, basement, you name it.

 

 

modern geometric

 

 

chalk grey abba

 

 

blue geometric

 

 

blue star

 

 

gray geo

 

 

blue mediterranean

 

 

moroccan geo

 

 

teal medallion

 

 

blue folk flower

 

 

blue geo

 

 

encaustic look

 

 

provence style

 

*affiliate links used

 

Articles you may also like: removable wallpapers (roundup), tiled staircases (inspiration) and cement look tiles for less (roundup).

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Why I Choose Airbnb

I travel a lot, and in the past two years, I’ve changed my preference on where I like to stay. Ordinarily, I’d look for a hotel room, but now the first site I always check out is Airbnb. I do some research on where I’m going, then pick a neighborhood somewhere central where it feels like I’m living like a local for a few days.

My first experience in Paris in 2016 was so positive I’ve been renting from Airbnb ever since. I still rent hotel rooms from time to time for the amenities like a pool or fitness center, but if the trip is more than a few days, you can be sure I’ll be staying in an Airbnb along the way for the following reasons.

1. Kitchen = Save Money on Meals

I’m all about saving my pennies as much as possible when I travel and little things add up. I like that with an Airbnb apartment, I get a kitchen for mini meal prep. One of my most favorite things to do when I arrive at a destination is to go shopping in the local grocery store. It’s there that I select breakfast or lunch items to enjoy during my stay, and carry with me when I’m out and about exploring the area.

Just last week in Bergen, my traveling companion and I strolled the aisles of the local market, picking out our coffee, produce, bacon, eggs, etc. for our 3 day stay, bagging it up and bringing it back to our apartment to cook together.

my airbnb in Bergen, Norway

2 . More Space

Hotels often feel cramped and impersonal and budget hotel rooms are notoriously small in Europe. Several of the hotels I’ve stayed in while traveling barely have enough room to move around the bed and the teeny tiniest bathrooms you can imagine. For often the same (or less) cost, I get a lot more room to move around in by renting an apartment on Airbnb.

Two weeks ago, I checked out of this awesome Airbnb apartment in Oslo. We had a fully equipped kitchen and adjacent dining room where I could sit and leisurely work while I enjoyed morning coffee. The owners had decorated the apartment with thoughtful touches. The bedrooms and bathrooms were far more spacious than a hotel, and it had an amazing rooftop view of the city. It was sooo much more relaxing!

my airbnb in oslo

3. Washer/Dryer Access

Having a washer and dryer in an apartment is the biggest perk ever when renting an Airbnb home or apartment. When I’m able to do laundry midway through the trip, it means I can pack super light, washing clothes halfway through the trip and wearing them again once they’re freshly washed. This means I can get away with carry on luggage since I’m wearing outfits twice!

my airbnb in aix-en-provence

4. Community Feel & Personal Touches

Another huge perk of a carefully researched Airbnb is the feeling that for just those few days, you get to be a resident of the community. With keys to an apartment, I feel more like a local while I’m staying in town and because of that, the travel experience is greatly enhanced. While in Paris, my travel buddy and I had a great apartment in Le Marais (see below). We spent days exploring the neighborhood and rode bicycles all around to get a feel for the arrondissement. It was so nice to return to the same apartment in the afternoon after a day of sightseeing to recharge before heading back out for a dinner and an evening stroll.

Also, I love to examine what choices the owner has made for the decorative details. Linen, velvet, or cotton drapes? Woven or chenille sofa or sectional? What kind of art is on display? What cute or quirky dishes are in the kitchen cabinets? I always appreciate the personal touches, the thoughtful linens and decorative accents chosen to make the stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

my airbnb in paris

5. Insider Tips from Locals

One thing I like to do is inquire from the host about where to dine, what to see, streets to explore, and little tucked away places you’d never find in tourist guides. Most often, the owner has taken the time to put together a guidebook for you which is a thoughtful touch and often leads to some of the best discoveries, again enhancing the trip more than just surfing for places to dine on my smartphone.

my airbnb in austin

I like how you can read honest reviews on the Airbnb site about the house or apartment, and the app is great for having on your phone so you can communicate with the host/owner when necessary.

Other articles you may enjoy:

Countries where Airbnb is more economical than a hotel.

The most popular Airbnb in every US State.

The most popular Airbnb in every European country.

 

If you sign up with my Airbnb link, you get $40 off your first trip you book!

 

 

Have you tried Airbnb yet? What’s your experience?

 

Weekend Reading

Hey there friends. I took a few hours off work yesterday. We’ve had a week of clear skies and temperatures in the 70s in Northern California, and I just had to go to the beach to hear the waves and feel the sun on my face, it’s so therapeutic. I posted a video on my Instagram stories of the view of the coastline from the top of Bodega Head, it’s absolutely stunning.

I’ve become one of those people who will strike up a conversation with any stranger standing next to me. It always leads to a human connection, and sometimes that only lasts a minute or two, but it’s real and one of the best parts about living in the moment. While I was standing there looking out over the cliffs, I spoke with a couple visiting from Chicago. Together we were just mesmerized, and felt so lucky to be there soaking up the sunshine and the amazing view. I loved that moment.

Favorite links below:

 

Every detail in this home. *sigh*

Excellent tips on how to furnish a long narrow space.

Wow, check out Ballard’s new cabinet hardware collection.

White cabinets & quartz countertops are still at the top of kitchen wish lists.

50 modern homes with floor to ceiling windows.

How cool are these modern cabin homes made in Finland!

The 32 “most friendly and affordable” cities in the world.

Love these: 25 foreign words to know.

Women shattering records at the Winter Olympics.

Wow, really? This is a new dating requirement?

Thanks John for sharing this.

.

Weekend Reading

Hey there friends. I took a few hours off work yesterday. We’ve had a week of clear skies and temperatures in the 70s in Northern California, and I just had to go to the beach to hear the waves and feel the sun on my face, it’s so therapeutic. I posted a video on my Instagram stories of the view of the coastline from the top of Bodega Head, it’s absolutely stunning.

I’ve become one of those people who will strike up a conversation with any stranger standing next to me. It always leads to a human connection, and sometimes that only lasts a minute or two, but it’s real and one of the best parts about living in the moment. While I was standing there looking out over the cliffs, I spoke with a couple visiting from Chicago. Together we were just mesmerized, and felt so lucky to be there soaking up the sunshine and the amazing view. I loved that moment.

Favorite links below:

 

Every detail in this home. *sigh*

Excellent tips on how to furnish a long narrow space.

Wow, check out Ballard’s new cabinet hardware collection.

White cabinets & quartz countertops are still at the top of kitchen wish lists.

50 modern homes with floor to ceiling windows.

How cool are these modern cabin homes made in Finland!

The 32 “most friendly and affordable” cities in the world.

Love these: 25 foreign words to know.

Women shattering records at the Winter Olympics.

Wow, really? This is a new dating requirement?

Thanks John for sharing this.

.

Weekend Reading

Hey there friends. I took a few hours off work yesterday. We’ve had a week of clear skies and temperatures in the 70s in Northern California, and I just had to go to the beach to hear the waves and feel the sun on my face, it’s so therapeutic. I posted a video on my Instagram stories of the view of the coastline from the top of Bodega Head, it’s absolutely stunning.

I’ve become one of those people who will strike up a conversation with any stranger standing next to me. It always leads to a human connection, and sometimes that only lasts a minute or two, but it’s real and one of the best parts about living in the moment. While I was standing there looking out over the cliffs, I spoke with a couple visiting from Chicago. Together we were just mesmerized, and felt so lucky to be there soaking up the sunshine and the amazing view. I loved that moment.

Favorite links below:

 

Every detail in this home. *sigh*

Excellent tips on how to furnish a long narrow space.

Wow, check out Ballard’s new cabinet hardware collection.

White cabinets & quartz countertops are still at the top of kitchen wish lists.

50 modern homes with floor to ceiling windows.

How cool are these modern cabin homes made in Finland!

The 32 “most friendly and affordable” cities in the world.

Love these: 25 foreign words to know.

Women shattering records at the Winter Olympics.

Wow, really? This is a new dating requirement?

Thanks John for sharing this.

.