A fine line between style and travel.

Author Archive

When you wish upon a star…

A trip into the city today left me squee-ing in glee at the collaboration between two of my favourite things- Peter Alexander Sleepwear and Disney!

Adorable? YES!

Even the guys get some.My Birthday is 20 days away. Guess what is on my wish list? (Tip: spend $150 or more in the Perth store for a free DVD!)

Ah-dorable!

All Images care of Peter Alexander online.


Theres no place like home?

So, I know its not a post about America yet… but here is a Post! (And this is where you cheer).

So I’ve now been home just over two weeks and everybody is asking “So has the reality set in?” Yes, of course it has! I was back at work a few days later, and life continued. After a weeks work- always full of drama and challenges, I helped on a photo shoot that weekend. It did take two weeks for a full slump to hit. I spent the entire last weekend parked on my couch, sobbing in front of Pride and Prejudice.

But as my favourite phrase goes “there’s no rest for the wicked.” Perth Fashion festival starts tomorrow and I have a full schedule of shows and events fit around my work hours.  Its my royal show. My week of fun, and show bags and carnival shows. Like an excited 8 year old, my every waking thought is “what do I wear?  What shoes, watch, necklace?”  Hopefully the excitement of the festivities can pull me back out of my post-holiday rutt.

I have also entered a number of competitions, one at Vix clothing which required me to open up my handbag and bare its contents to the world. I figured this would make an interesting post, so here is my handbag:


My handbag (A Vera Bradley, bought on my recent holiday) contains (L/R): My Sony Touch Ereader; My planner so I can keep track of things, Two tickets to Disneyworld from my recent holiday; My sunnies- Oroton prescription lenses; My wallet, alas empty of money but full of coffee cards, business cards and receipts; Deodorant, moisturiser and tissues; Lipgloss (Vanilla cinnamon yum); a mirror; a pen, to write in my planner; Lipliner I bought today; Tic Tacs with french packaging also from my recent trip; A bangle because I am never without my Arm-our; An umbrella-ella-ella because it is raining; Miscellaneous receipts, a dead battery, and my Mickey handbag holder (yep Disneyworld); Keys for Work and Home; and finally a soupspoon, because I had soup for lunch.

You can vote for me (because I want a free dress) Here

Whats in your handbag?


Back home and the social calender begins.

20 hours of flight and transit later, D and I are home in our apartment and I had my first day of work today. Back to reality.

Of course, anyone who actually knew our travel plans can see I am about 2 months behind on blogging. Oops. So watch this space because I will be continuing. Its mainly stubbornness, I want to finish what I started. Then I have some fantastic ideas for the blog after, plus some write ups for the upcoming Perth Fashion Festival (have you got tickets?).

Image by Harley, taken from The Black Dog Project

But today I am writing about something else. Two days after coming home, I was invited by my BFF Nic who works in the mental health industry to go to the Bridges Inspiration evening. As this week is the Nation Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Bridges, an eating disorder association, held a mini expo at Princess Margaret Hospital. Several past sufferers stepped up and shared their experiences- the disease and the journey to recovery. A father spoke about his families ‘eating disorder education’ and co-ordinators of different groups (such as the Body Esteem Program from Womens Health Works) shared information and their programs. The night was inspiring.

There was a raffle (alas, my 4 tickets won me zip. I am so unlucky!), nibblies and coffee, freebies from the Body Shop and free glittered boxes to remind us ‘every day is a gift to cherish’.

As someone who works in close association with the fashion industry, and knows of people who have and still struggle with disorders I wanted to share the work these beautiful girls have done. Thank you for your hard work, courage and and strength in supporting those who need it.

Taken from The Black Dog Project

A particular standout for me on the evening was Janine of The Black Dog Project. She shares hand drawn figures and encourages people in the community to share, write, draw, film etc to reach out during tough times in their lives. Its a ‘Community Webspace’ and Janine hopes people will come, collect and connect with the art and music. I loved her creativity and her willingness to share. Her Army of Ink, paper obsession and free Clunk and Jam notes were refreshing. So I felt I should share her page, and give her some blog love here. Thank you Janine.

I hope any readers struggling with EDs, or simply going through a rough time and feeling a bit blue can find some help on this page. There is no shame in reaching out.

Au Revoir


Versailles (aka. Paris part 2)

At the Louvre in my Calvin Klein.

A painting of the grounds.

My favourite place so far and definitely the highlight of France was Versailles. When I die, I hope to be reincarnated as a hummingbird in this magnificent garden. We arrived very early, and rainclouds loomed threatening to ruin our day, but they cleared up enough for us to enjoy walks around the grounds. We rented audio guides and toured the Castle and Dauphine rooms which were beautiful in décor. The French know how to decorate. My favourite features were the velvety wallpaper, and some of the beautiful wooden furniture.

It was overcast.

The palace chapel.

Pretty wallpaper turns me on.

Marie Antoinette's room.

I wandered around the gardens and palace with a permanent expression of joyous wonder on my face.  During the day, classical music played across the gardens, and several fountains has ‘musical water’ displays, which was a happy surprise. I could gush about the gardens forever!

An impressive fountain on the grounds.

The Kings garden

Beautiful flowers for the gardeners I know.

After wandering through one side of the gardens, we headed to the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate. Her tiny english village was charming!  In the Grand Trianon, I was thrilled to discover a fashion display showing clothes from Versailles and the modern designer gowns and outfits they inspired. Amongst the displayed was Vivianne Westwood, McQueen and Givenchy. Whilst doing my stylist course, one of my assignments was about how a modern runway show was influenced by the French revolution, so I found the entire display fascinating and bought the accompanying book. We meandered back through the other side of the gardens, finally getting kicked out by garden staff at 5. A full day of wonderment.

Marie Antoinette's english village. Cute non?

A petit carriage in the Petit Trianon.

The Music Gazebo.

The Grand Trianon

Our last day again was split between two key places- the Louvre and Notre Dame. Happily, someone experienced with Paris told me about a side entrance to the Louvre, as there was a long queue at the main entrance.  Again, D and I probably spent a little too long  admiring some pictures, and missed entire sections, but we saw all the key pieces highlighted on the map (other people just shuffled between these, probably missing some gorgeous pieces in between, but with time constraints who can blame them). The cordoned off area to the Mona Lisa was jam packed with people, all pushing to get closest to it, raising cameras in the air and flashing. The poor guards next to it were powerless to enforce the no flash photography rule, or maintain order and quiet.  D and I observed the painting from the side of the chaos, decided it was good enough and moved on. We found some Caravaggios , Raphaels,  Michaelangelos and some other beautiful pieces .

Louvre.

The line we managed to avoid.

Our secret entrance, down the side.

The Mona Lisa!

 

 

 

The Napoleon Apartments

With our ticket we also got entry into the temporary exhibit of Rembrants work, and by the time we were done with this, we were tired and hungry. A quick lunch later, we walked over to Notre Dame. The line to get in was very long- curving around the opposing square but it moved fairly quickly. Entry into the cathedral was free, so like all other major attractions there was a lack of respect from the sightseers. As we were finishing our round of the cathedral, a service was starting. The pews had been sectioned off to separate genuine worshipers from tourists, with a ‘No photography’ inside the sectioned area sign. Yet some people still pushed in flashing their camera. I am not a religious person, but I respect the sanctity of churches and other peoples beliefs. D and I stood up the back and listened to the organ start up- it was hauntingly beautiful when I managed to block out the blonde family jibbering away loudly next to me (someone in the mass turned around and shhhhushed them, which left them indignant- some people don’t get it). Next time we are in Paris, I’ll try and go to the top of the bell tower, and re-enact the Hunchback!

Île de la Cité

 

 

 

Mass

 

 

 

Something I’ve been forgetting lately-

Au revoir!

 


Paris part 1.


We caught a train into Paris,  and managed the metro to find the 19th Arrondissement. This was an outer suburb of Paris, full of immigrants. On many travel webpages (this is a reasonably nice one), it is listed as a ‘don’t stay here’ area, which put me on edge a little, but I had no trouble with the local homeless or vagrants. It was a rough neighbourhood though- on a particular night after watching vampire movies, D rolled over and fell asleep leaving me quivering under the bedding as a fight broke out on the street below, topped off with what I hope was a car backfiring.

As D travelled down to Orlean on the first day, and Luxemberg on the second for business, I was left to my own devices. I had heard a lot about consignment stores or designer depots in Paris and went in search of some. A simple Google search came up with many options if one is willing to click links to Vogue forums and Google translate the findings. I marked several on my map, but my first day of venturing turned out to be the most rewarding. Reciproque  is a series of stores along a street, each dedicated to different products. I started in the handbag store and quickly realised how out of my price range I was. Divided by designers (Prada, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Burberry, well you get the idea) the handbags hung on multiple rails, ensuring they didn’t touch the floor. Some were in better condition than others, and the prices adjusted accordingly. The cheapest price I found was in the proximity of 80 Euros but the bag was small, and not a designer I cared much for- I would be buying for the sake of buying. A number of Louis Vuitton or Birkin bags locked in a cupboard fetched several thousand. I felt uncomfortable with the staff in this store, who must have sensed I was not a wealthy collector. Usually I do not shy away from stores out of my range, and do not feel judged but these French sales assistants turned their noses up at me and did not tell me there was a second floor for me to explore.

The next and biggest store was a little friendlier. These were the clothes, and the collections were vast. Again a double storey store, the top floor was dedicated to the big designers and here I tried on a few Burberry blouses, a beautiful Thierry Mugler skirt (this tempted me and I very nearly bought it,  but it was too dramatic for frequent wear), a Marc Jacobs dress and skirt, and a beautiful McQueen dress which alas was too tight in the bust (a frequent problem between designer clothes and I). Down stairs was the shoe collection which has an impressive collection of snakeskin boots, and rows of more high street finds or designers more affordable collections. It was here I found my win of the day- a Calvin Klein grey dress which flattered me in every possible way. Its only fault was a loose button, and at 125 Euros, I could easily fix it. After all- I’ve had dresses in this style before and found them incredibly versatile. In the time since, I have worn this dress enough to justify the price.

After a brief stop for an average sandwich which cost me too much (Paris is expensive!) I found the home wares and accessory store, which surprisingly didn’t have much to tempt me, and the menswear store which had a belt I would have bought if it were not far too big.

Paris!

The Lafayette Galleries boast that they are the biggest department store in the world, so after my depot-diving, I headed here for some shiny racks and new things to look at- even further out of my price range.  Paris is very strict about their sales periods, confining merchants to two periods during the year only. It was sale time and LaFayette was packed. I entered into the handbag/luggage section, where I was met with a queue and security guard for each separate designer consignment. Wow. The jewellery was slightly less crowded, especially in the lower end section and I bought some beads for my Pandora and a pendant watch from Agatha. I then spent several hours wandering the clothing ‘galleries’ upstairs where they stocked everything from American Apparel and Juicy Couture up to Karl Lagerfeld and Miu Miu. I had a lot of fun eyeballing the beautiful clothes, and even tried on a few within the upper end of my spectrum, but did not buy any. As D and I organised to meet at 6, I did not discover the entire floor of shoes until it was too late.

The most notable thing about the next day was that somehow I was an hour ahead of myself all day. As most stores close between 12.30-2, I walked to a designer depot at what I thought was 2, only to find it still closed. By 3, I gave up and headed back to our hotel, which is about when I realised my mistake. Silly me. The depot was in a area mostly occupied by childrens clothing and toy stores, so I had a little fun shopping for my niece and nephew- Spud and Pod.

As our location was less than ideal, D and I struggled with dinner each night. By now the novelty of eating out was wearing off, and expenses were building up. In our local area, we had a few expensive Japanese options, a lot of Turkish options, a Sicilian place which had questionable reviews, an African and a McDonalds. We ate Crepes from a Turkish place on our first night, then sushi, pizza from the Sicilian place- far more expensive and not comparable to Italian pizza – and then found a Turkish burger place at which we ate the last two nights. Not ideal French cuisine.

It was overcast most of the time.

Le Petit Palais. We didn't go into it, next time...

Le Grand Palais

With D now free from business, we wandered through the French centre, meandered up Avenue des Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomph, and down to the Eiffel Tower. We ate lunch at a sidewalk restaurant- D opted for a burger, but I chose a more French dish Salmone Tartare- a daring choice for me.  Later we ate crepes in the Trocadero looking out over the tower. The Eiffel Tower itself was cool, but slightly overcrowded- as expected. It was accompanied by the usual swarms of merchants who had miniatures of the tower strung along a coat hanger who would shake them in your direction. Others had them set up on blankets, for an easy ‘pack up and run’ when the police came. The police were walking around with big rifles, which shocked me a little, it is not common place to see men so heavily armed- I would expect it in a less peaceful country, but not the middle of Paris.

We did not go to the top of either the Tower or Arc de Triomph- the lines were too long, and we figured it was one ‘touristy’ attraction we could skip.

Trocado to the Eiffel Tower.

Takes away from the real one doesn't it?

A random family in front of the Tracado

The Statue of Liberty, in Paris.


Kim Boekbinder answers my questions.

In response to my last Blog about her upcoming tour, Kim personally answered three questions in this exclusive interview!

As someone who spends a fair amount of time traveling(not time-traveling, but time on the road… although that would be really cool if you were from the future), what is your fail safe, wake-up-sparkly-and-pink advice to us less seasoned travelers?

Time alone is golden! Sometimes it is hard to carve out space for yourself on the road. But I’ve found that many of the hardships, crankiness, and exhaustion can be overcome by even just five minutes of time without having to answer to anyone else. 

You should also leave sequins everywhere you go!



Besides performing the actual show (which rocked BTW), what was your favourite part of the New York Kickstarter project? Was it making those paper flowers that I wish I had room in my luggage for?

My favorite part of the project was the MASSIVE response to it. I had people all over the planet calling me a genius and thanking me for thinking of it. It excites me to no end to see that the world is ready for this. It is hard to sell shows when you are not super famous. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. Websites pre-selling tickets, musicians being able to tour without losing a lot of money (and hope.)

Are you going to try to come back to Australia and perform any time soon? Because that would be really cool!

Oh yes! I will be announcing one single September show in Melbourne very soon. You are the first to know! How’s that for a blog exclusive!

We take a brief moment…

… to encourage those of you in America to buy a ticket to Kim Boekbinders Impossible tour!

I have seem Kim twice live now, and she  hasn’t failed to impress. I know I haven’t blogged about it yet (slap on the wrist I know) but I saw her whilst in New York a few weeks ago. Her music is fresh, titillating and introspective. It inspires me artistically!

Kim is so impossibly independent she pre-sells her tours and projects before booking venues. This is how I saw her in New york, and how I am getting my hands on a unique vinyl of Kim and Amanda Palmer. She is so impossibly down to earth she interacts with her crowd and answers her emails herself!

Try to spot me in the New york audience! (Ok, I’m having issues imbedding this video, so do it old school and click the link.)

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/KimBoekbinder/the-impossible-tour-san-francisco/widget/video.html

Did you see me? Try watching it again. By helping fund the project and turning up to the concert, I got a free poster, with artwork by Molly Crabapple an Amazing artist. I also bought the T-shirt, because its the cool thing to do.

She sparkles, she’s pink, she plays the ukulele and does awesome things onstage to build the many layers of her music.

Raw uneditted footage not actually ready to be seen by my readers.

And my favourite song:

All videos taken from Kim Boekbinders Youtube.

Paraphrased from Kims Kickstarter: Each city has a date, the venue will be determined by the size of the audience. 10 people means a magical house show, 100 people means an intimate venue, 1000 people means an amazing concert at a rock club with fantastic sound and lights.

The shows will only happen if you make them happen.

OCTOBER 13th – San Diego, CA

OCTOBER 14th – Los Angeles, CA

OCTOBER 15th – San Francisco, CA

OCTOBER 21st – Seattle, WA

OCTOBER 22nd – Portland, OR

OCTOBER 23rd – Minneapolis, MN

OCTOBER 27th – New Orleans, LA

NOVEMBER 4th – Boston, MA

NOVEMBER 5th – Hartford, CT

NOVEMBER 12th – New York, NY

I know some of you are around those locations, It will be money well spent: I Promise you!

This isn’t my Last Kim the Impossible Girl post, expect more.

So to finish this shameless (actually, rather proud) promotion, here is her official press release:

Kim Boekbinder Redefines The Rock Tour

Iconoclastic New York musician, Kim Boekbinder, has set the internet abuzz with her passionate rant about the state of the music industry and how she’s decided to circumvent the broken system by using her vibrant social media presence to pre-sell her shows BEFORE they are even booked. Kim’s first test run of the idea was launched on Kickstarter and she got her funding for a show in New York City in under 24 hours. Now she’s doing a 10 date US tour: http://kck.st/pIcXeH

Ms. Boekbinder’s “Impossible Tour” idea has been featured on CCN Money, BBC Radio’s World Service, and BoingBoing.http://www.boingboing.net/2011/06/14/crowdfunding-the-tou.html#comments.  The attention generated from the story has her email inbox flooded with thank you messages from fans, musicians, and venues; as well as offers from internet startups trying to address the very issues that she is dealing with.

Kim Boekbinder is The Impossible Girl; a performer, composer, musician, and visual artist who defies genre. She has travelled the world, stealing hearts and changing paradigms with her indelible live performance and her excitingly original and unforgettable music. http://www.kimboekbinder.com/about/ 


Rome part 2, and Turin.

I’m catching up! By the time we’re home 2 months I may be finished, oops.

Outside the Vatican Museum.

Our last day was split between the Vatican museum and the Borghese Gallery. Earlier in the week we wandered through an Impressionist, Expressionist and Abstract exhibit at the Galleria Nazionale we were getting a lot of art education. I did a little study of Expressionism at High school, and was excited to see original works from some of the artists I had referenced, but I think D wasn’t impressed. D however was impressed by the Raphael rooms at the Vatican.

The Raphael Rooms. Amazingly rich in details.

 The Vatican was extraordinarily busy, full of  people shuffling along eager to see the Sistine chapel. D and I were short of time, but opted to take the ‘long’ way to the chapel, which took us into the Raphael rooms and through some galleries full of Matisse and Dali. Imagine the other tourists missing these wonders! The chapel itself was a bit like the Pantheon- the atmosphere that should have been there was obliterated by sheer number of people. Several guards stood watching, with one bellowing “Silence, No photos please” every time the noise levels crept, or someone was stupid enough to hold a camera within sight of him. It saddened me a bit to see such works displayed like this.

The best photo I sneaked. Usually i am against breaking the 'no photo rule' but everyone else was doing it...so I figured there was not much left to preserve.

A real mummy from the Egyptian wing.

The Borghese Galleries are situated in the Borghese gardens and required us to book in advance. D initially booked for 1pm, which was not bright as there was no way we could do both the Vatican and the galleries. He was then too embarrassed to call up and change to the only other available time- 5pm, and made me do it. Silly D!  Walking through the park was lovely, and if we had more time I would love to spend a day just here, reading a book or hiring a pedal car and exploring.

The Borghese Gallery

A fountain in the gardens.

The gardens.

We queued up to get our tickets, then queued to check our bag in, as it was a requirement, the line was quite long- 10 mins at least. I know I sound like a grumpy witch, but what grinds my gears more than most other things are people who cut lines.  As we reached the front of the line, a woman jumped in the line in front of us, she hadn’t queued at all.  “Excuse me, the rest of us queued!’ I said, frowning. She justified that she had gone up to the gallery, and been turned away and asked to check her bag in, which is the lamest excuse- if she was too idiotic to see that no bags were allowed in given that signs said it in English, Italian and French (she was Italian, and spoke English) then she damn well should queue up!  Grrrr.

D and I probably spent a little too long reading the information sheets and looking at the works, as we realised that two hours (the maximum time allowed in the gallery) was not enough time to see all the rooms. We both particularly liked the Bernini Statues – he had amazing attention to detail. We were also struck by the Romans fascinations for rape in paintings and statues. Alas, No pictures allowed.

Dinner was at a slightly pricier restaurant than usual but was very tasty, sharing a  foccacia pizza, gnocchi and a few glasses of wine (for me of course).  Our trip out of Rome was on the train I wrote about earlier, with the crazy arsehole waking us up.

Turin, or Torino is a small city in the north of Italy, which was apparently the capital of the country before Rome. It is rich in history and culture, but by this stage D and I were so tired, we used the city as a rest period and slept. So we did not see much of the history, oops. Since the nightmare train arrived too early to check into a hotel, we left our bags in the lobby and explored the main street where we encountered a military parade. Many different regiments from all over Italy had come to Turin to celebrate 150 years of unification. This is part of a nine month celebration Turin is hosting. Wow, I have a friend who celebrates her birthday for a month, but nine- its celebrating the entire gestation period! I would like to return to Turin one day and explore it properly.

Italy!

The military parade.

Next stop, Paris!

Ciao!


Roma (part 1)

First, I am Soooo sorry about the long silence. We’ve been waking up early, and coming home late most nights. Plus we haven’t had internet in some of our locations. And I started a new game on my Nintendo DS, which has preoccupied me. I know, excuses! Here is a bit of an update.

Roma!

Our hotel was quite a distance from the city centre, but was modern and ran a shuttle to the local train station. Alas, the shuttle service wasn’t actually very convenient. On our first day we asked for a ride but we were told it was unavailable by the girls at the desk. and watched it pull up as we exited the lobby. The following morning, we asked if we could catch the first service and were told to wait outside. As we piled onto the full bus, and they asked our room numbers, we were reprimanded for not having a reservation as the bus was fully booked. Luckily, some people didn’t turn up and we got the ride anyway. Incidentally, there was also a Japanese couple who had been told the same thing as us.

We also tried to book the bus to pick us up that evening (10.15pm).

Pretty, but stupid girl at the desk: “Oh, we usually don’t do that. You should just call us.”

Us: “We tried that last night, but there isn’t a working pay phone at the station.”

PbSGaFD “Ok, we’ll write it in, but you can’t be late!” This last bit is particularly stressed.

That night, we got to our station at 10, and waited until 10.30. No bus. We caught the metro bus. When we questioned the guy at the front desk, he pulled out the reserve schedule only to see a piece of paper had been stapled onto the sheet, covering our reservation. “Oops, didn’t see it,” he says with a chuckle. Yea buddy, real funny when you’re stuck at a station in a foreign city!

Rome was beautiful though. It was clean in comparison to the southern Italian towns, which was enough to win me straight away! Naples had Rubbish piling up on every street corner. “We use too much” our Naples guide explained, as he gave us another ‘fresca’ water bottle each despite D and I always carrying our own.

Our first stop in Rome was the Santa Maria degli Angeli, a church which featured a Galileo exhibit. This was not on our “places to see in Rome“ list, and we were pleasantly surprised to see the ‘science and religion’ exhibit. The church had a giant pendulum and a hole in the ceiling which shone onto the time of day on the floor.

Outside the Basilica

A sculpture inside.

Foro Trajano

Vittorio Emanuele Monument. Solid, stark white marble. Locals tend not to like it and call it the wedding cake or typewriter.

The next day we travelled to Vatican city, the line for the museum was huge, so we opted to book tickets later in the week, and visited the rest that day.  St Pietro was huge!

One major factor that irked me, the entire time we were in Rome and later Paris, was the inconsiderate tourists.  Entering most of the churches women are asked to dress respectfully- knee length skirts and no bare shoulders. I came prepared with a scarf to wrap around myself. In the queue to enter the security were checking for appropriate dress and pulling aside those that didn’t meet standard. A lot of women bought ‘Roma’ scarfs from street merchants to cover up, but one woman approached me and asked for my scarf on the promise she would give it back once past the guards. Erm- NO! A) the point is to remain appropriate the entire time inside. B) I think the guards are smarter than that, and likely would kick both of us out. C) If you were too stupid to come prepared, and too cheap to buy a scarf, I see no point to help you.

The other pet peeve I had was the number of people using flash when specifically asked not too. After all, a lot of the shots would be ruined by flash, taking away the atmosphere of the places. And it was completely rude, the museum asked for no flash for a reason.

Vatican City

Inside St Peters.

The Museum for Pope John Paul II

When we finished exploring the Vatican, we walked to  Castel sant’Angelo. It had a giant spiral stairwell/ramp leading to a courtyard and galleries. The view from the top was particularly good too.

D and I purchased a Roma pass for the duration of our stay. This allowed free public transport for 3 days, 2 free museum entries and reduced price for the other museums. At Eu25 each, it was easy to get our moneys worth, as Sant Angelo Castle was $8 and the Colosseum was $12, and we definitely spent more than $5 on transport. We then got reduced entry to everything else.

We attempted to find a back alley tourist-free restaurant to eat lunch in- but this was virtually impossible. Instead, we settled for one of better value places and I was able to eavesdrop on the Brits and Americans eating near us.  Food in Rome wasn’t as good as the rest of Italy, lots of small cafes near main streets and attractions water food down for Brits and Americans.  Food was much pricier, and finding cheap local haunts was folly- apparently Romans don’t eat out in Rome.

From there we walked to Piazza Navona to see Bernini sculptures, Trevi Fountain, which was crowded beyond belief, the Pantheon which was full of disrespectful tourists, and the Spanish Staircase which had the pushiest street merchants. I know we are part of the problem, but these sites would have been much more spectacular if it weren’t for the crowds of tourists.

Sant'Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini

The Pantheon, the bottom two meters are missing so I could get a tourist free photo.

Trevi Fountain. Also the scene of the main picture up top, where I am one of Many tourists.

Street merchants and beggars are everywhere. It is easy to lose patience with them and question their authenticity. Street beggar women appear to have a ‘uniform’. Dark colours, and full coverage- long skirts and headscarves, kneeling in prayer with a cup and note scrawled on cardboard. Around churches are the disfigured beggars, missing limbs or with golfball sized lumps on their heads.

Street merchants are at least doing something for you money, but frustrated me with their pushiness. The rose sellers were the worst. We encountered one nice merchant outside Trevi fountain, who took a photo of us on our camera for free. When D gave him a euro, he insisted on taking a Polaroid of us- his trade. Outside the Spanish stairs, we hit a very pushy rose-seller. He and his mates crowded the fountain at the bottom of the stairs and didn’t take no for an answer. They thrust a rose into my hand, saying ‘Is a gift’ then talked to Darren about how pretty his lady was. D and I made it clear we didn’t want roses and tried walking away, but he insisted I take it. “Three is good luck!” he repeated, throwing another two into my hands, “some money now?”. No, but I may kick you in the nuts.

We came across a Michael Jackson busker at the Piazza del Popolo, who was rather unique.  He had three costume changes (jackets), and managed to get a small donation from us where others failed.

Piazza del Popolo

D had booked an underground tour of the Colosseum, which was really cool as we had access to areas usually closed off. We saw the underground area where the gladiators and animals waited for their turn. The underground area was actually two storey, with elevator style systems operated by slaves.  On the second level, animal cages were opened and final preparations made before releasing performers to the stage.  We also went to the top, and got a better view of the Forum (ruins next to the Colosseum) which is also off limits usually.

Colosseum underground.

Arco di Costantino from the top of the Colosseum.

The Colosseum- we were under that staged area.

Next we headed into the Forum and Mons Palatinus, a large area of Roman ruins. Here’s some helpful advice- don’t forget to grab a map like we did. Actually I wanted to find a map, but as they we couldn’t see where they were immediately, D insisted we would be fine.  The forum is a big place. Take water and snacks, because it is a big dry place- luckily with a few drinking fountains around.

A race or games track in the ruins.

The Forum

Stay tuned for the end of Rome and our brief stay in Turin.


Adventures in Campania- Photos.

In Positano, looking out from where we had lunch.

Salerno and Castello di Arechi.

Gorgeous fountains are scattered around Salerno with very fresh drinking water.

The view from Castle Arechi- Salerno city.

Castle Arechi.

The Amalfi Coast

Another pretty fountain in Amalfi.

The Duome of Amalfi

The Crypt of St Andrew

Positano from the Ferry.

The view from our lunch table. We had homemade gnocchi with seafood. Yum.

The pebble beach, crowded with mostly American tourists. Thats a Medieval tower, now some ones house.

Pompeii

The Duome of Pompeii

The view from the Bell tower. You can see the ruins in the back- they're huge.

For my American friends, Pompeii lost 12 people to the 9-11 attacks, they had this piece of the twin towers shipped in and erected to remember.

 

Pompeii residents. Behind glass, sleeping.

A street of the ruined city.

 

The place is massive.

 

Pillars in the Forum.

The Temple of Jupiter

More Pillars

Temple of Apollo

The Basilica

 

Man, I am more than two weeks behind. So slack! I promise to write up Rome and edit those photos on the plane tomorrow (to the US) then all that will be left to catch up on is Paris.

Ciao!

 

 

 

 


Adventures in the Campania region, Italy.

I’ll add the photos when D comes back with my power adaptor!

From Messina, we caught an overnight ferry to Salerno- in the Campania region of Italy. Here is a tip for anyone wanting to travel by Ferry in Italy- don’t book your tickets in advance. Front up to the desk in advance and book then. We have booked two ferry trips via the internet and neither have worked out for us. This time it turned out we had booked the return trip from Salerno to Messina. Oops. By the time we boarded and put our luggage in the cabin, even D was ready for an alcoholic beverage. Those that know D know how frustrated we must have been. Otherwise, the trip went smoothly- cabins were comfortable and we had our own shower and toilet.

We were met in Salerno port by Ermanno who took D to the University. I was shown around the city by Eleanora who treated me to a Brioche. Here is a hint for the light eaters- don’t order a brioche e gelate unless sharing. Its basically a sweet bread roll with a tiny dab of custard, served with two scoops of ice cream inside and then mine also had cream. Super filling, messy and sweet. It is something you must try once. D and I are eating a lot of ice cream whilst in Italy, but we are sad to leave Sicilian Granita behind. We met up with D again for lunch, and Ermanno insisted we have a Campania pizza each. Of course after my Brioche, I was not overly hungry. With Daiana joining us, we went to Castle Arechi that afternoon where we had a view over all of Salerno.

On Saturday, D and I were alone and adventured by ferry out to the Amalfi coast. We spent the morning in Amalfi, visiting the Crypt of St Andrew and the Duome of Amalfi. We tried to follow a suggested walking path on the tourist map, but started out on the wrong street and ended up way off track. But we visited the paper Museum, as Amalfi was home of modern paper. Off the main street, there are narrow corridors full of steps which make up the back streets.

We jumped back on the ferry to Positano, a bustling town full of American tourists. The streets are lined with merchants and shops selling resort style clothes and jewellery, souvenirs and artists impressions of the town. It would be easy to be inspired as a local artist however, as once leaving the main streets we had panoramic views of the Mediterranean and vibrant pink and purple flowers crept over handrails and walls. We visited two Galleries, The white room, which had modern sculptures and photos- using very unique techniques. The curator was more than happy to tell us about each artist and the method used to get the final effect. Further up we found another gallery specializing in more traditional techniques including a number of oil paintings of Positano. The curator of this Gallery suggested lunch at Bar Bruno, so we climbed some stairs and a hill, and were rewarded by a spectacular view as we ate our fresh seafood lunch. Delicious.

On Sunday, Daiane, her sister and Eleanora showed us around Pompeii. The ruins are huge- more than once can see in detail through one day. We collected an audio guide to help when the girls could not explain. A running joke between us was the quality of their English vs. our Italian.  We visited most of the highlights, and a few different houses trying to avoid the tour groups. While the ruins are well worth the time and energy, I recommend taking a large supply of water, closed comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a packed lunch, it is a long tiring day and Pompeii has little shade to offer.

Monday morning we left Salerno and catch a train to Napoli. Before arriving in Naples, we were warned by Daiana, Eleanora and Ermanno about the level of thievery against tourists, which put me a bit on edge. But, aside from dodgy looking people on the train, nothing happened. Our hotel, the Plaza Bellini  was modern and very swish. Monday was spent at the University, where D met with the academics and presented his work. Ermanno was unavailable to play tour guide so one of his office mates showed us around very quickly, then left us at the hotel.

Naples, unfortunately closes on Tuesdays, so we were unable to visit anything of interest. We had Pizza every night, and I can definitely say Naples has the best pizza in the world. I think a lot of waiters were getting annoyed with us as we continued to order one pizza to share one pasta to share, one dessert, to share.  Most of the dishes are far too big for D and I, who are not huge eaters, and on a limited budget we don’t want to order two pizzas and leave them half eaten.

Wednesday, we left for Rome.


Che notte terribile!

We break from our usual broadcast to report about a shitty night on an overnight train.  While I am running almost a week behind on news updates, like any other current affairs channel, I assure you, this is fresh news about the glamour of cheap travel.

Last night D and I left Rome to travel to Torino (Turin). We checked our luggage into the baggali deposito (bag deposit) and went sight seeing in Rome all day. Our feet and shoulders ached. We had a lovely dinner, and migrated back to the Termini. In Italy, rarely is wine sold by the glass with dinner, which is a pain when only I drink, and won’t go through an entire bottle alone, but usually they offer a ½ lt, or even ¼ lt option. Last night, only the ½ was offered. So I was quite tiddly when we left the restaurant, and we poured the last of the wine into an empty water bottle for the train trip. So classy but I was greatful for it.

Arriving at the terminal, I did a spot of window shopping, then had the desperate urge for the toilet, but alas the nearest one was closed for the night! Trying not to wee myself (remember, I had a fair bit to drink) we walked to another part of the station, into what looked like a janitors cupboard where we found some toilets, as usual for stations- pay to use. I dashed in leaving D to fork out 80 cents. Let me explain- in Italy, most public loos are dreadful! They smell, usually have wet floors, little to no paper, stained bowls, and 99% of the time no toilet seat. Even in restaurants and museums. Paying 80cent for a clean and maintained toilet is well worth it at times.

By this time all the shops and most cafes had closed so we headed to the station part of the termini, and found no seats. 20 platforms, not a single chair or bench. People were sitting on ledges and on the floor or simply standing, but we had  about 1 ½ hours to wait. So we sat on the terminal  floor, with the gum stains and cigarette butts. Everybody here smokes. They’ll smoke everywhere despite the no smoking signs. They’ll bow the smoke in your face and think nothing of it. We wondered why so many people were flouting the ‘no smoking in terminal’ signs, until we saw two policemen smoking in the terminal.

We board out train, and find that we are seating closest to the aisle of a six seat cabin. A group of very loud Italian men are hovering around, whom I presumed to be our cabin mates until  an American mother-daughter team walk in.  They are already regretting this train trip. Only two of the loud Italian men are with us.

This man, oh lordy, was he an inconsiderate prick. Never have I had the urge to deck someone so badly. His travel buddy was friendly enough, tried to talk to D for a bit, and was very proud of his ‘Fresca’ smelling blanket and shirt. He slept the entire night without a peep. He and the prick spread out head to toe, over their opposing seats, which amused mother and daughter. Arsehole then switched out the light, not bothering to ask if we were ready, said something gruff in Italian, and flopped into his bed-thingy. No problem, right?

I was sleeping with my sandals on, in a seated position, hugging my laptop bag with the strap around me. Because of the high occurrence of pickpockets, both our passports were tucked into a second layer of underwear, and I was sort of sitting on them.  I observed even the quite Italian man tuck a wad of cash wrapped in paper towel into his jocks, so we weren’t being overly paranoid. The headrest was unnaturally high, forcing your neck forwards, and as D and I had been staring at roof frescos all day, our necks were already tense. The American had wanted to sit next to her daughter, not opposite, so D swapped with her and I now had a stranger opposite me and was unable to spread my legs far out. It was hot also, and people in the corridor made noise and banged doors. Some slept on the floors to the corridor.  Picture it?

Now, everytime I was about to drop off to sleep, Mr Prick switched the light on, or said something that nobody understood, and/or decided to join his buddies smoking and chatting in the corridor. He did this ALL night, going back to his nest, then getting up, banging around, switching the light on, and disturbing us with his complaints. We protested, but as we are not inconsiderate and the American daughter managed to sleep though most of it, we didn’t get angry loud enough for him to pay attention, Plus he was a big guy, and clearly a very disturbed angry man and scared us girls a bit. Headphones blaring music could not keep him out. Scarves over my head didn’t block out the light, especially because he had to lean over us to get to it.

Finally at about 5.45am, he got up again, switched the light on full and stood in the door to our compartment, I told him to switch the light back off, but he wanted his friend to wake up. His friend woke up when they arrived at the station, 15 minutes later. D had switched the light back off by then.

A short while later, the Americans  got off as well, and D and I thought, YAY finally get to spread out! But alas, two young guys who were on the wrong carriage, and had tried to get into our cabin before we all claimed seats decided now was their chance. They came in, dumped a huge bag on one seat, practically sat on my legs which I had spread to the seat next to me, and took up the four unoccupied seats even though D and I had also spread to them. Was this nightmare going to end?

I managed to get about 30 minutes spread across all the seats in the end, using my laptop and a pillow. D is now fast asleep next to me in the hotel. We decided NOT to book the night train from here to Paris.

Ciao!

 

 

 

Noi pausa dalla nostra trasmissione usuale rapporto di una notte di merda su un treno notturno. Mentre sono in esecuzione quasi una settimana dietro a notizie aggiornate, come qualsiasi altro canale di attualità, vi assicuro, questa è una notizia fresca sul fascino del viaggio a basso costo.
Ieri sera D ed ho lasciato Roma per recarsi Torino (Torino).Abbiamo controllato i nostri bagagli in deposito baggali (deposito borse) e se ne andò visite turistiche a Roma tutto il giorno. I nostri piedi e le spalle facevano male. Abbiamo avuto una cena deliziosa, e migrato torna a Termini. In Italia, è raramente vino venduto al bicchiere con la cena, che è un dolore solo quando bevo, e non passare attraverso una bottiglia intera da sola, ma di solito offrono un lt e mezzo, o anche l’opzione ¼ lt. Ieri sera, solo il mezzo è stato offerto. Quindi ero abbastanza Tiddly quando abbiamo lasciato il ristorante, e abbiamo versato l’ultima del vino in una bottiglia d’acqua vuota per il viaggio in treno. Così classe ma ero grato per questo.

Arrivati ​​al terminal, ho fatto un po ‘di shopping finestra, quindi sentito il bisogno disperato per la toilette, ma ahimè il più vicino era chiuso per la notte! Cercando di non wee me (ricordate, ho avuto un bel po ‘da bere) siamo andati in un’altra parte della stazione, in quello che sembrava un armadio bidelli dove abbiamo trovato alcuni servizi igienici, come di consueto per le stazioni-pay per l’uso. Mi precipitai nel lasciare D a sborsare 80 centesimi. Mi spiego, in Italia, loos più pubblico sono terribili!Sentono l’odore, di solito hanno bagnato, con poca o nessuna carta, ciotole colorate, e il 99% del tempo non sedile del water.Anche nei ristoranti e musei. Pagando 80cent per una toilette pulita e mantenuta è valsa la pena, a volte.

A questo punto tutti i negozi e bar avevano chiuso più così ci siamo diretti verso la parte centrale dei capolinea, e non ha trovato posti a sedere. 20 piattaforme, non una sola sedia o panca. La gente era seduto su sporgenze e sul pavimento o semplicemente in piedi, ma avevamo circa 1 ora e mezza di attesa. Così ci siamo seduti sul pavimento terminale, con le macchie di gomma e mozziconi di sigaretta. Tutti qui fuma.Faranno fumo ovunque nonostante i segni di fumare. Faranno arco il fumo in faccia e pensare nulla. Ci siamo chiesti perché così tante persone sono state violando il ‘no smoking nel terminale’ segni, fino a quando abbiamo visto due poliziotti di fumare nel terminale.

Siamo fuori bordo treno, e scoprire che ci sono posti a sedere vicino al corridoio di una cabina sei posti. Un gruppo di uomini italiani sono molto forti si aggirano intorno, che io presume essere nostri compagni di cabina fino a quando un americano madre e figlia in piedi sono già pentito di questo viaggio in treno.Solo due degli uomini forti italiani sono con noi.

Quest’uomo, oh Lordy, era un cazzo sconsiderato. Non ho mai avuto la voglia di qualcuno mazzo così male. Il suo compagno di viaggio è stato abbastanza cordiale, ha cercato di parlare con D per un po ‘, ed era molto orgoglioso della sua coperta odore’ Fresca ‘e camicia. Ha dormito tutta la notte senza un bip. Lui e il cazzo sparsi testa ai piedi, sui loro sedili contrapposti, che divertito madre e figlia. Buco del culo poi spense la luce, senza preoccuparsi di chiedere se eravamo pronti, ha detto una cosa burbero in italiano, e si accasciò nel suo letto-thingy. Nessun problema, giusto?

Io stavo dormendo con mia sandali, in posizione seduta, abbracciando la mia borsa portatile con la cinghia intorno a me.A causa della elevata incidenza di borseggiatori, entrambi i nostri passaporti sono stati infilati in un secondo strato di biancheria intima, e io era una sorta di seduta su di loro. Ho osservato anche l’uomo italiano piuttosto infilare una mazzetta di contanti avvolti in un tovagliolo di carta nella sua atleti, quindi non erano eccessivamente paranoico. Il poggiatesta è innaturalmente alto, costringendo il collo in avanti, e come D e mi era stato a guardare gli affreschi del tetto per tutta la giornata, il collo era già teso. L’americano aveva voluto sedersi accanto a sua figlia, non opposto, in modo da D scambiato con lei e ora avevo un estraneo di fronte a me e non era in grado di diffondere le mie gambe lontano. Faceva caldo anche, e la gente nel corridoio fatto rumore e sbattuto porte. Alcuni dormivano sul pavimento del corridoio. Immagine vero?

Ora, ogni volta che stava per cadere nel sonno, il signor Prick acceso la luce, o detto qualcosa che nessuno capiva, e / o deciso di unire i suoi amici di fumare e chiacchierare in corridoio.Ha fatto tutta la notte, tornando al suo nido, poi alzarsi, sbattere in giro, accendere la luce, inquietante e noi con le sue lamentele.Abbiamo protestato, ma non siamo sconsiderati e la figlia americana riescono a dormire se la maggior parte di esso, non ci si arrabbia abbastanza forte per lui di fare attenzione, Plus era un ragazzo grande, e chiaramente un uomo molto arrabbiato e disturbato paura noi ragazze un po ‘. Le cuffie a tutto volume la musica non riusciva a tenere fuori. Sciarpe sopra la mia testa non bloccare la luce, soprattutto perché doveva appoggiarsi su di noi per arrivare ad essa.

Infine a circa 5:45, si alzò di nuovo, acceso la luce piena e si fermò sulla porta al nostro scompartimento, gli ho detto di accendere la retroilluminazione spenta, ma ha voluto il suo amico a svegliarsi. Il suo amico si svegliò quando sono arrivati ​​alla stazione, 15 minuti dopo. D aveva acceso la retroilluminazione spenta da allora.

Poco dopo, gli americani scesi pure, e D e ho pensato, YAY finalmente a diffondersi! Ma, ahimè, due ragazzi giovani che erano sul carro sbagliato, e aveva cercato di entrare nella nostra cabina, prima di tutti ha affermato sedili deciso oggi era la loro occasione. Sono venuti in, scaricati una borsa enorme sullo stesso sedile, praticamente seduto su gambe che mi si era diffuso al sedile accanto a me, e prese i quattro sedili occupati, anche se D e avevo anche diffuso a loro. Era questo incubo finirà?

Sono riuscito a ottenere circa 30 minuti diffuso su tutti i posti alla fine, usando il mio portatile e un cuscino. D ora è addormentato accanto a me in albergo. Abbiamo deciso di non prenotare il treno notturno da qui a Parigi.

Ciao!


June 17th-23rd: Sicily.

First of all, I apologise for the huge delay. We’ve been having trouble formatting wordpress.com. Hopefully i have it sorted now, but we’ll see.

During his conference, D met up with a friend of his boss, a Catania resident named Pino. After the conference and along with a small group of other foreigners, Pino escorted us onto Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mt Etna. It was cloudy at the peak, so we skipped going to the top, avoiding the 35euro charge for the chairlift. Instead, we were treated to a pasta lunch in the restaurant, then descended back to Catania.

The craters and view from Mt Etna

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel was different this time – the Suite Inn Catania – and was closer to the main square and incidentally opposite the food poisoning restaurant. It was a nice hotel, but the concierge on the second night was a slacker who gave us dodgy directions and didn’t man the desk despite us telling him we expected a phone call. It was an early start the next day as Pino took us to Syracuse. We wandered around a Greek amphitheatre, tombs, a slave camp and Roman amphitheatre. A hot summer was just beginning in Sicily, so we took a break for granita before touring around the town, taking in the baroque architecture, beautiful coastline and a gorgeous cathedral. That night Pino’s wife, Angela, cooked us dinner at their home, and I tried a number of spirits – Cinnamon liqueur, Limoncello, local Sicilian red wine, and a few others. Note: for the lovers of big ‘americana’ lattes- you cannot get a decent one here – they taste foul. I have taken to ordering ‘italiana’ style, which is just the espresso shot, then putting some sugar in that (I saw real Italians doing it, so its ok), which is actually very enjoyable once you get used to it.

Piazza Duomo a Siracusa.

The slave area.

Tombs.

The greek amphitheater set up for a show.

The shape of the cave was specifically constructed so the slaves chatter could be heard by their ruler.

The Roman amphitheater, in poor condition.

Roman Baths

Syracusa Coast line

Inside the Duomo (Cathedral)

We departed for Palermo by bus, this took approximately 3 hours. Our hotel was the Hotel Europa, in the designer shopping district – Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada – we even walked past a Bvlgari event. We headed to crowded Mondello Beach that afternoon, where we were pushed to find some sand to relax on, but the water and view were spectacular. The bus ride back has unfortunately led me to the conclusion that Sicilian teenage boys are amongst the worst in the world. Rude, inconsiderate and stupid. A theory only confirmed when one jumped and yelled at me the following day for no reason (To be fair, I do see this in Australia also… what do they think they are achieving? Someone enlighten me!) On Monday I was left to my own devices, as D was meeting a professor at the uni. I did what I do best – Shop! Unfortunately, Monday mornings are slow for shopping, with many remaining closed until late in the afternoon. I did manage to buy two tops and a scarf from Sisley and Zara. Returning to the hotel, I rested until later, when I ventured out to find board shorts for D. I found a few labels I liked that are not available in Australia, perhaps when I open my store I will try to stock them? D was shown the Palazzo Steri and the Cappella Palatina(Palatine Chapel) as well as a few other beautiful churches, and on Tuesday we set out, map in hand to find a few more. I find it sad to see such beautiful sites in disrepair, and on dirty streets.

Fontana Pretoria, all statues are nudes and the mayors house is to the right of this photo.

Quattro Canti - all four corners of the intersection look like this.

Palermo Cattedrale (Cathedral)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the previous few nights I had been craving risotto and prawns, and I got lucky that night when the chef at La Dispensa dei Monsu cooked up a lemon and prawn risotto especially for us. The entrée was fried pizza pocket/parcels – Buffalo mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and lemon with ricotta were delicious, spinach and other vegetables was a little too bitter. A train to St Stefano di Camastra filled Wednesday morning and part of the afternoon. It is a beautiful seaside town, and our hotel had an exceptional view. Unfortunately, the staff service at the hotel tainted our stay. We will be leaving a negative review on expedia.com.

The beach we swam at, and had a view of.

Our View

The Village.

 

 

 

 

 

It was then back onto the train to Messina. The train wraps around the coast, with a view of the Mediterranean on one side, and country Sicily on the other, quite spectacular.
Messina, the Gateway to Sicily, is a cleaner town than we have seen thus far, although not without its seedy areas. Our map had a walk path marked on it, taking us past the pretty churches and monuments (also up some very questionable staircases) and non-existent fountains.

Messina.

We walked up these dodgy looking stairs.



 

 

 

As our second week ends, we leave Sicily.

Bona sera!


I’m on holiday give me a break…

I have a big post drafted I promise.

Meanwhile, someone on my Facespace linked me to this, and trust me- if you have trouble loading it like I did, stick with it- the blog is hilarious!

Handwashed D and my socks and jocks in the sink and have them draped all over my bathroom. Love it….


Miss Africa, Perth 2011

So instead of a post about me and my travels today, here is a post about my work at home.

The month of may was a busy month for me, organising this trip, working at the shop and fashion styling for my own business. Three Saturdays in a row were dedicated to Miss Africa contestants, working with the talented team of Joachim Guay and Celine Prinoux, photographers and a number of other creative minds.

Five contestants asked for my stylistic help, with the results below.

Nunu, South Sudan.

Umu from Freetown, Sierre Leone

Valerie, from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. A joint styling effort with Astrid and Celine.

Mary, from Umtata Mouth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Sharon from Johannesburg, Gauteng

I stuck around for the days shoot, helping carry equipment, making minor adjustments on location, stopping people from walking into our shots etc. I really enjoy the atmosphere and energy of photo shoots, and love seeing the results after a long days work.

The closest I get to Modelling- Prop holding.

Ankle deep in water.

London Court, end of a long day. All photos by Joachim and Celine.

I also got to know every girl in the contest, and they truly were a beautiful group of ladies. All very smart and with such inspirational stories to tell. I know they have forged friendships with each other.

The final show was held on the 18th, and I was sad to be missing it. At the equivalent time, here in Sicily, I sat refreshing my Facebook page eager for results. Finally, Nunu updated her page- Mary won. Whilst every girl was worthy- I cannot be more pleased with the result. Another of ‘my’ girls, Sharon was runner up. Stoked.

Congratulations to all of the girls, I hope I can work with you in the future.
Ciao!


A week in Malta.


Having recovered from the worst of the food poisoning on Tuesday, Mum and I Ventured out to pamper ourselves. I’ve been promising myself a Mani/Pedi for a few months now, and it has become a holiday ritual away from the shop. We bussed into Sliema, a modernish shopping district with a lot of labels- particularly British.

Bugibba waterfront.



The Maltese busses have a character of their own. Some are from the 1950s and still in operation, they are all orange. The old ones look as if glasses, eyebrows and moustaches would feature on their cartoon selves. They are so much a feature of Malta, they appear on postcards, and canvas totes. Alas, in two weeks they are all to be replaced by new German buses, which are teal. While I’m sure regular commuters will be pleased for cleaner, smoother rides it is sad to see the old ones die.

Wednesday morning we headed to my parents house, which is undergoing serious renovation. It is a tiny place spread over four floors, with each floor barely over a room in size. I shall be keen to see it finished (As I’m sure they are too).

Birgu is one of the ‘three cities’ on the natural harbour. All three cities have retained much of their original walls, and have fascinating histories I’m sure. Birgu was the only piece of Malta not taken by the Turks in (Siege of Malta, 1565)

We ate lunch at a fully vegetarian restaurant, which served the best spring rolls I have ever eaten, and a delicious strawberry bliss smoothy. After a stroll around Fort St Angelo (Home to the last knight of St John) visited the Inquisitors Palace and Malta at war museum. I am sure if I understood more of the Catholic faith, the Inquisitors palace would have held more for me, but it was still fascinating to wander through.

A beautiful street.

The War museum is worth a visit. After being shown a quick propaganda film made by the British, we were led to the bomb shelters by a young Maltese man, who was enthusiastic to share his knowledge. With safety helmets, we then explored the corridors which contained 600 people for several years during the air assault of Malta (Siege of Malta, 1940-1942).

Thursday, my final day saw us catch the bus into Valletta- the capital. The nights hired an architect and planned out Valletta, which Mum jokingly compared to Canberra in Australia. From Valletta, I could better see the layout of the natural harbour and three cities. After a delicious Apple crumble and a few jewellery shops, we visited the Archeology museum (I won’t go into it, but the oldest man-made structure found is in Malta, read about it here) and whipped around the armoury. Unfortunately the State rooms were not open Thursdays, as the same ticket will get you into both, and I hear the tapestries are worth seeing. The armour surprised me in how ornate it was. Beautiful gilding and etching decorates the breastplates- and in some cases- the whole suit. Modern Australian men would consider it a bit Pansy, but perhaps that is why there are no Australian knights.

Guards outside the State rooms and Armoury. They started crossing while we watched.

The most ornate suit I found.

Our final tour was a family home. This was the most charming experience I had on Malta. Mum and I joined the tour with three Japanese girls, who were excited to point out the Master and Mrs of the house in their tour guide. The house had been passed from generation to the next, and accumulated so much history. Knick-knacks, lace, antique silver, furniture and more art then you can possibly imagine. It was a piece of living history, and the head of the house was more than happy to share many family stories. The stories don’t stop either, there are many pictures and sculptures of his daughters, or Lace pieces on loan from the winner of the Lace competition. I could surely go through 6 more times and find new items to ask about, and hear stories of.

I hope this makes up for the lateness, I still have more!
Ciao!


Shorty

Just a short post to say sorry for the lack of post yesterday, and photos are coming soon. I have taken a lot so I need time to edit and choose the best.

Back to Sicily today, time to say farewell to Mum and rejoin D.

Its 5am, and my ferry back to Catania leaves in 2 hours.

Ciao


Bad luck is universal. Don’t take it personally.

(Quote by Solomon Short.)

Our luck continued to decline. D and I found a little restaurant during our adventures that night, and ordered some tasty pizza. Unfortunetly Ds pizza gave him a rather nasty case of food poisoning. So after 21 hours of travelling, and walking around in the sun, poor D failed to get a good nights sleep.

His incarceration forced me to step outside on my own and communicate with the locals. I found the Farmacia, Ferry office, a delicious patisserie, and did a bit of sight seeing on my own. I was quite proud of myself.

The inside courtyard of my hotel.

Villa Bellina



Juxtapositions between new and old, pretty and decrepit.


Basilica della Collegiata


The Farmacia that saved D




San Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata


Basilica di San Nicola l'Arena


Sant'Agata alla Fornace or San Biagio with Ancient ruins in the front.

I then packed up and caught the ferry to Malta. The customs system seemed to be to gather anyone with ‘big’ luggage in one room, then let them out after everyone with the smaller bags.
Mum and I wandered around the local area all sunday, stopping to eat crepes. I ended up feeling wretched that night. Hot sweats, shivers, and stomach cramps. Ouch. I spent all day today on the couch recovering.
Feeling better-ish now.
Ciao!


Catania.

I know I only updated yesterday, but heres a quick update telling you all that I arrived in sicily safe and sound. Tired, stinky and a little frazzled, but in one piece.

Unfortunately I failed to arrive in Malta. D and I asked several Italians how to find the bus to Pozzallo, and got pointed in a number of directions. None of these found us the bus. We then retreated to Hotel Catania Centro, where the friendly concierge upgraded D’s room without hesitation. Molto grato!

Catania is beautiful in a broken way. Everywhere you look, gorgeous old buildings have been desecrated with Graffiti, abandoned and burnt. I know a photographer who would adore the many photos this city offers. I look forward to exploring it later this evening (After Siesta!), without my luggage, camera in hand, and no threat of a missed Ferry ride to stop me from taking in its beauty.

Watch this post for photos.

Ciao!


Two hours.

Two hours until the lovely J* arrives to take us to the airport. Last minute checks.

  1. Packed? Check.
  2. All sharps in main suitcase, not hand luggage? Check
  3. Passports, money, ID and all those important things? Check.
  4. Travel insurance organised? Check.
  5. Power boards, power adaptors, and all necessary power cables? Mostly, still need to pack my laptop (obviously)
  6. Spare key to a friend? Check.
  7. Mail rerouted to my sister, and an email sent explaining what to open? Check!
  8. Real estate agent informed? Check.
  9. Bathroom cleaned? Check.
  10. Bed made? Check
  11. Rubbish out? Check.
  12. Oven off? No, we’re cooking Nachos for lunch!
  13. Vacuumed? Not check. Yet.

D* and I are in a slight panic mode. What if we’ve forgotten something fundamentally important? I suppose there is not much we can do now. Except vacuum.

Bisoux!


Organised spending.

One of the major jobs on my to-do list is to sort all my receipts for the year. I have been organised all financial year and have been keeping  them in a shoe box.  Well- most receipts. Some still fell victim to the bottom of my handbags.

Now came the mammoth task of  sorting and documenting each purchase. To reward myself for the organization and motivate  myself for the long tedious job ahead bought a receipt file from Kikki K – stationary makes me happy.

With three days to go before fly-out, I sat on my floor, spread my receipts in front of me and started making piles. Business vs. personal, month by month.  I spent to much this year, eek! What will my accountant think!

Dividing between my personal and professional purchases may seem simple- but what about that cardigan I bought for a shoot, and now wear myself? A dress I bought for a client who went in a different direction?

I also rediscovered personal purchases I forgot about. Like the $80 dress I bought on sale that’s just a little low cut on the side. I have never worn it. That’s $80 I could spend in France! Fashion tells us that side-boob is the new cleavage, but I don’t want to show both. (Celebrities rocking Side-cleavage)

One more job ticked off. Huzzah! Now to forward this to my accountant and see how much he can claim for me. A nice tax return to boost my spending money is just what I need.

Bisoux!


One week.

One week. Seven days. One hundred and sixty eight hours.

Jeez, I have so much work to do. Everyone asks if I am excited, but I’m terrified- what if I don’t get it all done?

My apartment is a mess- something I must remedy before Saturday night when the friends come around for drinks.

Most of the accommodation still isn’t booked.

I need to send an email and excel file to my accountant.

I haven’t started packing!

I feel so unorganized.

So this is me, getting started. I’m Elizabeth, 23 and about to embark on a three month trip to the Mediterranean, Europe and USA.  My partner D* is attending conferences and presenting his work to numerous people, which is dictating our journey. Don’t ask me what he does, because every time he tries to tell me, I go misty eyed and blank. I’m smart but he is a genius, therefore he makes me look like Penny next to Leonard in the Big Bang Theory. But we compliment each other, or at least I hope we do after almost 5 years together.

I manage a clothing shop during the day, and moonlight as a fashion stylist on days off. I am always busy. But I love, live, breathe and eat fashion and style.  Despite working in a clothes store,  I am always shopping on my down-time. Meandering aimlessly through boutiques fingering and trying on beautiful objects calm me.  Its my Zen zone. So this trip is all about shopping for me!

And art. And Culture. Food. Theater. Disneyworld (YES!). Friends and Family.

But first, to survive the week of preparation.

 Bisoux!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.