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You have to love a restaurant when you not only get a great meal, but also a wonderful experience. That’s exactly what you can expect at Melbourne’s Chin Chin.

It was Anna-Maria’s birthday and we planned to visit an Italian restaurant we had dinned at for her last birthday. Sadly it was closed and I just happened to spot Chin Chin on my google map (only good restaurants show up on google maps). Chin Chin has been recommended to us by friends many times, but it’s walk-ins only policy, made us hesitant on trying it out given its popularity.

We walked in to a packed Chin Chin on Sunday night expecting a long wait for a table. Two guys occupied two large apple computer screens which they use to manage bookings. 45 minutes was the wait for a table, which was no problem for us, as they directed us downstairs to Go Go Bar for a pre-dinner drink. We were both starving and luckily the bar menu had a few tasty treats on it, notably the pulled pork sliders, which were washed down with a cocktail big enough for two. The sliders were phenomenal, probably the best thing we ate all night which is a big call as the food upstairs was sensational. Just after we finished the sliders, I received a text message from staff upstairs stating our table was ready. We proceeded excitingly upstairs to our table-for-two with with our cocktails in hand.

Pulled pork sliders from Go Go Bar – Photo courtesy of Chin Chin

The atmosphere of the restaurant was another highlight as friends sat around tables having a feast, while some randomly sang along to the catchy tunes being pumped through the sound system. Expect to hear songs that have you saying ‘I haven’t heard this in a while’. The chefs headed by executive chef, Benjamin Cooper, work their magic in the open kitchen as people watch from the bar seating. You can smell the flavours of the South-East Asian cuisine wafting through the restaurant as you struggle to decide what your going to eat. The wall of moving art in the nearby lane way, visible from our table, adds another element to the dining experience. Make the effort to go to the toilet so you can practice speaking Thai while you do your business – another unique Chin Chin experience.

“At Chin Chin it’s all about enjoying and sharing the experience, while having fun tasting lots of different dishes from the exotic and varied flavours in their menu”. The menu is massive, making their “feed me” option is a great idea! You can just say “feed me” and they will serve you up a heap of their favourite dishes for $66 (min. 2 people) until you say enough!

We started with wok fried salt and pepper squid with nuoc cham and Vietnamese mint, DIY fresh spring rolls with raw vegetables and peanut relish and Chin Chin’s roti bread. The spring roll idea was fantastic, raw vegetables cut up for you to make your own spring rolls with battered and fried tofu dipped in a tasty peanut sauce. The squid was well-flavored and combined nicely with the dipping sauce. For something more substantial we ordered butter chicken with yogurt and green chilli and a pad thai  noodles with king prawn, peanuts, dried shrimp and cucmuber. The pad thai was full of flavour and very filling. The king prawns were beautiful and in abundance. The butter chicken was different to any other I’ve tried before. It reminded me a little of a satay style sauce as it was much milder than expected, with big chunks of juicy chicken throughout the sauce


Palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and a lime syrup – Photo courtesy of Chin Chin

The salt and pepper squid was so good we ordered another serve, this time a large one. We were both feeling very full by this stage but dessert was very tempting. Friends had suggested leaving room for two desserts, the palm sugar sundae and the coconut sago. We asked our waiter and, surprise-surprise, he recommended the sundae and the sago. He went on to say “the sundae is the most popular, but the sago is definitely the staff’s favourite”. Anna-Maria  was sure she wanted the sundae and I certainly wanted the sago. At an establishment like this you can always trust what the staff think is their best dessert! The sago blew my mind, it’s hard to describe it without enhancing it with a swear word, “It’s..ummm……amazing”. Anna-Maria was loving her Sundae, until she tried the sago. She started to appear sad, as if she’d made the wrong choice. Because it was her birthday, and only for this reason, I let her swap desserts with me.


Coconut sago with sweet corn ice cream, praline, and puffed wild rice

We rolled out of Chin Chin at midnight in a complete food coma. $200 vanished from my bank account but our meals, drinks and experience was worth every cent.

On a funny note, the “Chin Chin” found on Urbanspoon is much different to the “Chin Chin” found in Urban dictionary!


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Prague is full of character and the red rooftops are a memory firmly etched into the minds of all travellers who have come across this beautiful city. There is no more common sight in Prague than Charles Bridge. The 621m bridge that crosses the Vltava River is an important link between Prague Castle an the Old Town. Charles Bridge was completed around the 15th century and the charcoal colour of the bridge show its age compared to the red, cream and pale blue colours found across the rest of the city. This photo has been zoomed in using my camera from the top of Prague Castle. A superb vantage point for photos, although the view from the river bank towards the castle can be equally as captivating. Prague is certainly a must visit European city these days and is a place we will make our way back to in the future.


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Melbourne has a strong cafe culture and there are many exceptional cafes, especially in the suburbs surrounding the CBD. While it’s not possible to visit them all, one thing is for sure, it’d be hard to trump Proud Mary in Collingwood. We travelled 6.5km by taxi from the Crown Metropol to Proud Mary, although it can easily be reached by tram from the CBD, just get off at Smith Street and it’s a minute walk away.

The atmosphere here is a highlight with the smell of fresh coffee, served in the bright blue coffee cups, the sound-system delivers good vibes and the friendly approach of the staff makes you feel more than welcome. Big wooden tables provide room for groups or many pairs, but if you can, get a seat on a stool at the red brick-laid bar with granite bench top, where you have front row seats as the baristas handcraft your perfect cup of coffee.


Ricotta Hotcakes – gooey mandarin caramel, honeycomb and ice cream

Proud Mary combine the best coffee (can’t beat the Guatemalan single origin) with amazing food! They do an all day breakfast menu combined with a lunch menu with a few more options. Try the Proud’s Porridge with pear, yogurt and walnut brittle or the Ricotta Hotcakes with gooey mandarin caramel, honeycomb and ice cream for a sweet and very filling breakfast option. Perfect to fuel you for a day of sightseeing or shopping in Melbourne!

Anna-Maria ordered the “Porky Pie” special which left her saying ‘wow’ before and after she ate it. Think a big ball of buttery puff pastry, that you could just fit in the palm of your hand, folded over at the top with a thick pastry lid sitting crisply on top. Taking the lid of the pie, you will see that it’s full to the top of tasty pulled pork! The Porky Pie sat on a green tomato and fennel salad with a traditional Italian dressing.


Single Origin Latte

This place can get super busy, especially on the weekends. The staff are used to it and handle it with no problems. As soon as you walk in the door, expect to be greeted and taken to a table if available or given a wait time until your likely to get one. We were lucky enough to get a table straight up at 9am on a Saturday, but it was busier as we left at 10am.

The staff are generally superb and very friendly. They were able to recommend which single origin coffee would be best for us, and they repeat your order exactly when delivering your coffee to the table. A confirmation that they took, and delivered exactly what you asked for. Expect to be asked how your meals are going as they care about your experience. Even the girl knew where we had been sitting when we went to pay at the counter, even though the place was full and she hadn’t served to our table.

For those who like filter coffee, it’s available in Syphon, V60 Pour Over, French Press, or Chemex. I tried the Costa Rica ‘Sonora’ as a pour over and to my surprise, the coffee was extremely smooth, and you could taste the flavour notes from the bean quite clearly.

The bar seats give the best view of the barista at work

We visited Proud Mary three times during our six days in Melbourne and the service was excellent on all three occasions. The coffee was consistently amazing and if they did happen to make a bad coffee, be assured it won’t make it to your table. The baristas maintain a very high standard. This is certainly not a cafe to be missed if you are in search for Melbourne’s best coffee and breakfast.

What is your favourite Melbourne cafe and why?


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Poland is about as cheap as you get when travelling in Europe. Although Poland are apart of the European Union, they are yet to convert to the Euro currency which is believed to be unlikely to happen before 2016.

To give you an example of how much it costs to travel around Poland we have used the current exchange rate of 1AUD = 2.80PLN. When in Poland you can easily exchange your local currency for the Polish Zloty at one of the many Kantors (Currency Exchange) found all over Poland, especially prevalent in main cities. Shop around for the best rate because they can vary significantly, even within 50m of each other.


1 litre milk – 2.75zl ($0.98)

1kg chicken breast – 14.99zl ($5.35)

1 loaf of bread – 2.85zl ($1.02)

1 full broccoli – 2.69zl ($0.96)

1kg apples – 2.89zl ($1.03)

Paczek (Polish doughnut) – 1.20zl ($0.43)

600ml bottle of water – 1.70zl ($0.61)

500ml beer – 3zl ($1.07)

500ml Zubrowka Vodka – 23zl ($8.21)

Goods from a Polish Bakery are also dirt cheap, making staying healthy a challenge.

Goods from a Polish Bakery are also dirt cheap, making staying healthy a challenge.


250-300g pierogi – 10zl ($3.58)

Pint of beer – 6zl ($2.14)

Meat dish with 1-2 sides – 20zl ($7.14)

Large Pizza – 25zl ($8.90)

Meat pierogi

Meat pierogi


Local bus ticket – 3.70zl ($1.32)

Taxi in Krakow – 6zl ($2.14) starting fee and 2zl ($0.71) per kilometre

Train from Warsaw to Krakow – 60zl ($21.40)

Single journey tram ticket in Czestochowa – 3zl ($1.07)


Panorama Racławicka – 25zl ($8.93)

St Elizabeth’s Church Tower viewing platform Wroclaw – 5zl ($1.76)

3 hour Auschwitz tour with English speaking guide – 40zl ($14.30)

2-3 hour Wieliczka Salt Mine tour with English speaking guide – 79zl ($28.21)

25 minute horse and cart ride around Krakow’s Stare Miasto for upto 4 people – 100zl ($35.71)

Not a bad view for 5zl - $1.76

Not a bad view for 5zl – $1.76

There you have it, most things are very cheap and affordable, making travel in Poland much more appealing than it already is. The only thing that isn’t so appealing is the inflated petrol prices in Poland.  You’re looking at 5.37zl per litre for unleaded fuel, making it around $1.92 AUD. No wonder public transport is so popular in Poland!


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It’s hard to imagine that in 1945, half of the Stare Miasto (Old Town) was completely destroyed. It was rebuilt in the 1950’s, returning Wroclaw to its former beauty. Today the Stare Miasto is lively and attracts many visitors to cultural events, or  to eat Pierogi and drink piwo  one of the many terraced restaurants and bars. The jagged roofs and detailed facades create a sense of intrigue and make for beautiful photos. The Town Hall, a survivor from the 13th century, almost looks out of place on the inside of the Rynek (Market Square). The best views of the Rynek can be found at the top of the tower at St. Elizabeth’s church. The view does not come easy, as you must climb 292 steep steps of the seemilngly never-ending spiral staircase. The 360-degree views will leave you speechless and snapping senselessly in every direction. Rest your tired legs and take a moment to sit and peer through the stone railing down towards the old market square. You quickly forget you have skipped lunch and your hunger becomes a distant feeling, as there is no where in the world you would rather be.


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One thing we missed on our first visit to Krakow together was to climb the Town Hall Tower’s narrow winding stone staircase, accompanied with chain railing, for undoubtedly some of the best views in Krakow. For only 7zl you can ascend around 100 high stone steps to reach the level where the large clocks sit on the outside of the tower. Whilst you’re not allowed outside on the balcony, you can still take stunning photos from the window, such as the one above. This view is of the Royal Castle and Cathedral, sitting on Wawel Hill in the Stare Miasto. It amazed me at how few people were at the lookout. We basically had the whole viewing platform to ourselves.


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What better way to experience Polish culture than at a wedding. From a traditional church wedding to endless supplies of food and drink for 10 hours straight. Vodka was topped up as if it was water and even the grandparents stayed until it all finished up at 3am.


It all started at Sanktuarium Narodzenia Najświętszej Maryi Panny w Zawadzie (yeah, it’s a long name), 30km from Rzeszow. Unlike Australian weddings, the bride and groom were there before us and greeted us as we arrived. There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen. Things were simple and hassle free. Another wedding had just finished up in the church and we all walked in together to take our seats. A traditional mass was carried out in the beautifully decorated church.

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After the ceremony we took a small bus to the reception which was about 5 minutes away. Before entering the venue, as tradition, the bride dropped a wine glass on the floor, smashing the glass for the groom to sweep up to see if he was good enough for housework.

The host welcomed us and made us make a vow to drink until the morning and dance until the sun comes up. That we did.

Food came out quickly as if the reception was coming to an end. We were served soup for entree, followed by a selection of cooked meats with salad and potatoes. The wedding cake (black forrest) was cut and served for dessert and in the middle of the room you could find an endless supply of cakes, pastries, salads, cheese, cold meats and drinks.

The vodka started to flow with frequent calls of “Nazdrowie” (for your health) which is the same as saying “cheers” in Australia.

All of a sudden it was 8pm and the long Polish summer days allowed for some photos outside with the bride and groom. We came back inside to a new set of cutlery in anticipation of more food!

The reception was one big party, no speeches, no messing around. It was about having FUN. The host played games and everyone participated in song and dance. Even the chicken dance made an appearance on the night.

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I’m no dancer and I felt rather out of my depth with the abundance of young Polish couples who looked like regular ballroom dancers! I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up being dragged into some sort of all male partner dance off! We danced off to four different songs against another two male couples, while the girls judged us. Whilst my performance left a lot to be desired, it was fun and I found myself in a situation I wouldn’t voluntarily enter.

We continued to drink, eat and dance until 3am when the party was over. We took the mini bus back to Rzeszow to be greeted by the rising sun. What a night!

*Thank you to Konrad and Iza for allowing me to use two of their wedding photos in this blog post


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The secret is certainly out about Krakow given the number of tourists meandering around the Stare Miasto (Old Town) of Krakow.

The streets are free from traffic, allowing horse and cart to wander around, with laid back passengers looking to rest their feet and take in the many sights.

Many old town streets seamlessly merge with the Planty, a garden that completely surrounds the Stare Miasto. Full of tall trees, heavily covered with green leaves, never ending paved footpaths, and lush green grass.

The stunning Rynek Głowny (Main Market Square) is quiet of the morning, only filled with delivery vans helping stock the many restaurants and cafes surrounding the square.


Mariański Basilica from the top of the Town Hall Tower

Marianski Basilica (St Mary’s Basilica) is an imposing figure in the corner of the square. Every hour the hejnal is played from the left sided tower while everyone down below look on with intrigue. The inside of the church is decorated floor-to-ceiling, literally leaving no stone untouched.

The Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) stretches through the middle of the square, with a long hall of shops selling jewelry, handbags, souvenirs and handmade items you could put all over your home.

The Town Hall Clock Tower sits on the opposite corner of the square from Marianski Basilica. The narrow stone staircase with chain railing makes for an interesting ascent to the viewing platform, where you can marvel at the views over the square and towards the Royal Castle.

Every corner you turn presents another photo opportunity. Every angle of the same monumental structures makes you want to step back and admire. You will need a wide lens to capture all the beauty in one shot, as there is so much to see in the Rynek Główny.

Krakow is a must on any European itinerary and it won’t cost you much to enjoy the unique sites of Poland.


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Hotel Warszawska is located on the outskirts of the old town and is less 5-10 minutes walk to the main market square. But the real draw card is its location less than 500m from Krakow’s best shopping spot, Galeria Krakowska, which leads to the train and bus station, Krakow Głowny. Making it a nice easy stop over before catching your next bus or train.

Galeria Krakowska, Krakow's best place for shopping

Galeria Krakowska, Krakow’s best place for shopping

Our room was relatively cheap, around $100 AUD / per night, for a double room. Overall the room was basic, although we were grateful for the easy key card access. The highlight of the room was the large marble bathroom, with mirrored ceiling and heated hanging towel rack. The hotel also offers in-room wifi which worked well.

The staff at the hotel were very attentive and stored our bags securely before check in, and all day after check out, making our last full day of sightseeing in Krakow a breeze, as we knew our luggage was secure and we could pop in and grab it on our way to the train station – very convenient.

Our bathroom at the Hotel Warszawska

Our bathroom at the Hotel Warszawska

I was surprised to find the hotel was so quite during a peak time of year. It seemed we were the only ones there at times. Breakfast was included in our room rate and was adequate to fuel ourselves for the day ahead. You can expect to find things like cooked eggs, sausages, cold meats, cheese, salad, fruit, yogurt, bread, cakes and pastries as well as coffee, tea and juice.

This hotel is certainly a good option if you are spending 1-2 nights in Krakow and are taking bus or train from Krakow Głowny to your next destination.


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I had forgotten what it’s like to be in Europe. They do things somewhat differently. It’s been 3 years since we caught a bus to our aeroplane at the airport or drank lattes that came in three layers. It’s amazing to think one day your in Australia and the next your on the other side of the world. Stepping off the plane your faced with a completely different culture, language, scenery, architecture and cuisine. A new way of living. Seeing and experiencing new things is one of the biggest pleasures travel brings.

Passport and tickets in hand at Melbourne Airport

Passport and tickets in hand at Melbourne Airport

We made it to Anna-Maria’s grandmother’s house in south-east Poland! Arriving rather fatigued from 4 flights and 6 hours driving time, on the back of 2 hours sleep after watching Gli Azzurri get eliminated from the World Cup the night before our flight.

The red slanted roofs of houses dot the polish country side as our flight makes its descent into Warsaw. Mother nature hadn’t been so kind to us today as the rain water lightly crept along the window of the plane.

Anna-Maria’s uncle picked us up from the airport. A mere 11-12 hour return trip was of no significance for him. Our flight arrived before 9am so he would have needed to be up by 3am. The Pols seem happy to help each other without asking for anything in return.

We stopped at a nice restaurant by a lake, around 30km from the airport, for an early lunch. It wasn’t long before my Polish pronunciation was a laughing point, soon to be overshadow by the waiter who tried to feed us without a knife or fork. Pierogi, schnitzels and potato covered the table with the odd plate of orgurki and kopusta. Meanwhile I enjoyed my first Polish beer (of many) for the trip.

The road seemed endless as we drove towards Rzeszow. Roadwork had sent us off path pushing our travel tolerance to the limits. The beautiful polish countryside was a nice distraction. The scattered houses oozed character with their various colours, designs and emaculately set out gardens.

We had another short stop for a zapiekanka before hitting peak hour traffic in Rzeszow. The Polish typically work a 7am to 3pm day so our short ride through the city at 3.40pm took an eternity. From quite country roads with lots of trucks to a bus filled metropolis.

A typical Polish house in the countryside with trees lining the property's border

A typical Polish house in the countryside with trees lining the property’s border

Finally we made it to Łopuska Mała, 30km from Rzeszow, with a numb backside from all the sitting. In true Polish fashion we were seated at the table within two minutes of arriving, with a bowl of soup and pierogi to follow.

Time for some rest and let’s see what tomorrow brings.


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After salivating over all the enticing Winter Feast menus in the Dark Mofo guide, it was time to head on down after purchasing our $10 tickets online. A lot of thought had been put into the event, from the red-lit winter forrest, to the bare trees hanging upside down from the Princess Wharf shed roof. Outside the shed, the barrel fires kept everyone warm and the Ferris Wheel of Death captured everyones camera lens as they entered the festival.

The Ferris Wheel of Death

The Ferris Wheel of Death














We arrived at about 7.30pm on Thursday night and the place was packed. We could hardly move around to get a peek at all the stalls. The line to Smolt was unreal and the same can be said for Lady Hester, who struggled to keep up with the demand for her sourdough doughnuts. We found our way to Fat Pig Farm to keep our hunger at bay as we wandered around in search for something more substantial. I ordered a Fat Pig Bun which was delicious although was rather small. I could have quite easily at another 9 of them. Anna-Maria had the Fat Cow Bun which she enjoyed, describing it as a quality meat pie in a roll.

Fat Pig Farm's Menu

Fat Pig Farm’s Menu

Fat Pork Bun

Fat Pork Bun











Finally the Smolt queue didn’t look so bad so we jumped in line in anticipation. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder and churros were at the top of my wish list. The lamb was served with braised red cabbage and yogurt which were perfect accompaniments to the lamb. The mixed leaf salad served on the plate had a beautiful crispy garlic dressing. The churros were to die for! It was served hot with a warm salted caramel dipping sauce which was phenomenal. It left me wanting more. I didn’t ponder too long before ordering another serve. The lamb was $12 and excellent value given the quality and generous serving size.


Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with braised red cabbage, natural yogurt and mixed leaf winter salad with crispy garlic dressing

Churros from Smolt

Churros from Smolt were amazing. The caramel dipping sauce was a winner too. I just had to have more.












Sadly Lady Hester had sold out of doughnuts by the time I’d made it there. So we decided we’d try and make it there the following night. I still felt a little hungry so decided to get a pork taco from Taco Tacos. Unfortunately it was a little underwhelming as there was too much slaw, taking away from any of the pork flavour. Anna-Maria had gnocchi with three meat ragu sauce from Sirocco South which was nice, but not the best gnocchi she’s ever had.

The night finished with a pleasant hot drink from Villino and macarons by Ruby. My coffee was perfect and kept me going for the rest of the night, however my macaron was served a little cold, as if it’d only just come out of the fridge, meaning the outside was crumbly and the centre was chewy rather than soft and creamy.

We attempted to buy our tickets at the door on friday, but were turned away and unable to join the ticket line because the place was absolutely packed. We quickly jumped online to book tickets for Saturday night as we knew we wouldn’t be the only ones doing so. When we showed up at 7.30pm on Saturday night it looked like the organisers had rectified the situation they faced on Friday, by deciding not to take door sales. Only ticket holders were able to enter, meaning a much more pleasant experience getting around the venue. On Thursday, it was nearly impossible to get a table in the shed and there was no one around tidying up tables that had been vacated. Thankfully this was different come Saturday night, cleaners were on hand to clear any rubbish from tables to ensure patrons could enjoy their food without having to clean up after others.

I had my eye on a char-grilled octopus baguette from Cable Station but sadly they had sold out! I had little choice but go back to the tried-and-tested lamb shoulder and churros combo from Smolt. Anna-Maria wanted to try a wrap from Shoebox Cafe. She bought a sesame seed wrap filled with slow cooked bulgogi beef. The wrap was like a pancake, the beef was well flavoured which Anna-Maria didn’t enjoy as much as I did. She had her heart set on the Peking duck wrap which had sold out. I happily finished off her beef wrap which quickly filled me up. We washed our food down with a Pagan cider from the tap. I can highly recommend the cherry apple or apple pear combinations.

We made our way back to Lady Hester to see what doughnuts we’d be able to try. They had to cook their doughnuts offsite and get them delivered to the stall where they were getting filled. We were nearly at the front of the line when the person in front of us bought the last rhubarb and rosewater doughnut. The girl serving, who had hardly a voice left, recommended the honey cream and pine nut (her favourite). We weren’t disappointed after devouring one each. Whilst the doughnuts were served cool, they were unbelievably soft and fresh with creative fillings. After going back when the rhubarb and rosewater doughnuts had arrived from offsite, we both agreed the honey cream and pine nut were our better.

Another taste of the Macarons by Ruby had me wanting more on this occasion. I tried vanilla, lemon and salted caramel and Anna-Maria stuck to musk as it was amazing. They also served up salted caramel cheesecake in a small jar which is absolutely delicious and a great take home option.

Macarons by Ruby

Macarons by Ruby

Macarons by Ruby menu

Macarons by Ruby menu











I regretfully missed out on trying the crepes and cannoli but left very satisfied on both occasions. We can’t wait to go again next year and see what else there is to try.

What did you think of the Winter Feast and what was your favourite dish?


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Ponte Vecchio on the River Arno

One of my favourite photos I’ve taken with such minimal effort. The image speaks for itself with no need for digital enhancement. Italy is known as a place for romantics, an example would be when couples place love locks onto bridge fences before throwing the key into the river to symbolise an unbreakable love. This photo captures Italy’s romantic touch with a couple sharing a seat in a rose garden which they seemingly have all to themselves. Pristine green grass with the stunning detail of the Ponte Vecchio in the background all add to the wonder of this photo. The still water of the River Arno beautifully reflects the bridge and old architecture of what appear to be apartments on the left hand side of the river bank. Not to forget it was a gorgeous summer day in Florence.


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A luxurious stay for travelling couples that sits in the heart of Sopot, Poland’s spa town on the Baltic Sea. Sopot is only a 13km, 25 minute drive north-west of Gdansk airport.

Looking back from the popular Sopot pier, one hotel will capture your attention as it sits prominently on the beachfront. The Sofitel Grand Sopot as it name suggests, is big and the services and facilities are great, this hotel offers an intimate experience for couples.

Entry to the Sofitel Grand Hotel Sopot

Entrance to the Sofitel Grand Hotel Sopot

I knew i’d booked a great hotel when our taxi pulled into the Grand Hotel’s drop off area. The hotel looked very appealing with flowers surrounding the footpath with plenty of greenery. The hotel staff were particularly friendly, typifying our overall experience with Polish people. The hotel’s interior is very elegant and charming and the rooms a little more modern.

Our park view double room

Our park view double room

Our room was comfortable and had exactly what we needed. The view from our room looked out over the park, with a generous bathroom, work desk, free internet and extremely comfortable large double bed. Sleep ins would have been longer if I didn’t get coffee withdrawals by noon. The flat-screen TV with satellite channels allowed us to watch our favourite Polish music videos while relaxing in our room, or getting ready to explore Sopot.

Relaxing by the spa after having a massage at the Sofitel Grand Sopot

Relaxing by the pool after a massage at the Sofitel Grand Sopot

With its private beach access and spa and massage facilities, it offers couples a pleasant escape away from Poland’s better known cities such as Krakow and Warsaw. Choose to spend your days on the private beach area, or by the hotel pool which also enjoys beach views. Spend the evenings wandering around the nearby Monte Cassino pedestrian street, dotted with good cafes, restaurants and bars. Follow Monte Cassino street, hand-in-hand, down to the pier in time to watch the sun set over the Baltic Sea. Wind up back in the hotel bar for a late night drink, or if your feeling lucky, head to the hotel’s on-site casino.

We booked massages for the next day, which were a treat after many weeks of travelling to and from many destinations. A relaxing day by the pool was in order for us as we skipped the gym, even though it was fitted out with my favourite gym equipment, Technogym.

When sought advise from the concierge after having issues booking our flight to Warsaw. The concierge exceeded our expectations. Not only did she communicate effectively in English, she took interest in our holiday, booked our flights and printed our itinerary within 10 minutes. We rewarded her with a bouquet of flowers as a token of our appreciation upon check out.

This hotel is one of those you don’t want to leave. As soon as you check in, it’s easy to start dreading checking out, thinking why didn’t we book to stay longer here?! Friendly staff, superb location and luxurious feel make it a dream stay for couples. We can highly recommend a stay at the Sofitel Grand Sopot and would go back in a heartbeat. If you have the time in your itinerary, a 3-4 night stay would leave you feeling very content.


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Views of Vernazza

My 23rd birthday was a special one when I got to spend it with Anna-Maria in, not only my dad’s home country, but the beautiful Cinque Terre. We watched the sunset with a bottle of prosecco on the track between Vernazza and Monterosso. Vernazza looks beautiful as the sun goes down. The sometimes aggressive sea is dead still and the lights dim over the buildings. You can still see the vibrant, varying colours of each building even though up close, the paint needs some serious touch up work. This is an unforgettable view that will be remembered for as long as you live.


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Dark Mofo is just about ready to kick off it’s second year after a successful first year in 2013, which easily exceeded the expectations of event organisers. Bringing stunning displays or art, science, music and theatre to Tasmania is an attraction for tourists and locals alike, however nothing can compared to the food and drink on offer at the Winter Feast from Thursday the 19th to Saturday the 21st of June on Hobart’s Waterfront. The coming together of Tasmanian’s best fresh produce sourced from all corners of the apple isle, combined with over forty food and drink stallholders, we’re all in for a massive treat. Forget the Taste of Tasmania, this is on another level. Wander beneath the candle-lit trees while deciding which fine foods you’ll be eating for dinner, then dine with like-minded others, who are all out to have a good time, on the communal tables. Take the Ferris Wheel of Death for a different perspective on proceedings. If the following does not make your mouth water, you may need to check for a pulse because there are some seriously delicious food being served up! Try the slow-roasted pork, fennel, garlic and rosemary in a soft bun by Fat Pig Farm, wallaby burritos by Pacha Mama, oysters with nam jim by Mako Fresh Fish, or East Coast scallop food-fired pizza by Mountain Pepper Pizza. Still hungry? Try the slow-roasted lamb shoulder by Smolt, or char-grilled octopus baguette by Cable Station, whom will also allow you to take advantage of a ‘Drunken Crayfish’ with whisky béchamel. Try everything once might be an appropriate motto here. Those with a sweet tooth are in for a treat, or three! Locally crafted chocolates by Cygneture Chocolates, churros with your choice of dipping sauce by Smolt, and various flavoured macarons courtesy of Macarons by Ruby. The Creperie take it to the next level with nutpatch hazelnut cream, or salted caramel and hazelnut ice cream crepes. Lady Hester serves up sourdough doughnuts with dark chocolate and pomegranate, salted pistachio caramel, honey cream and pinenut, rosewater syrup or apple and cardamon curd (one of each please?)

Pagan's cherry apple cider, my favourite cider in the world

Pagan’s cherry apple cider, my favourite cider in the world

Whether you want something refreshing or something to warm your insides, there will be a range of beverages to try. For something refreshing, slightly sweet but strong in alcohol content, Pagan’s cherry apple cider will do the trick. If you want a hot drink, Villino will be serving great coffee, or try one of the Mexican stalls for a hot chocolate with a chilli twist; a Mexican hot chocolate with chilli marshmallows, or a chilli hot chocolate with coconut milk to keep warm in the heart of Hobart’s winter. For something a littler harder, you’ll find local varieties of beer ,whisky and an assortment of wines. There are also many more i’m unable to squeeze into this post without making you scramble to your fridge before you finish reading it. So get along and experience it for yourself. I’ll be reviewing the Winter Feast in the coming weeks. For more information head to WWW.DARKMOFO.NET.AU Find Dark Mofo on instagram, twitter, facebook and use the hashtag #DARKMOFO


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Hobart is set for the second year of Dark Mofo, a celebration of darkness through large-scale public art, food, music, film, light and noise. After starting off with a bang in it’s first year, attracting 128,000 people across many events during the 11 day festival, this year doesn’t promise to be bigger and better, but it does promise to be ‘different’ according to creative director, Leigh Carmichael.

Lights shine kilometres high through the night sky as Hobart celebrates winter solstice with Dark Mofo in 2013

Spectra shines 15 kilometres high through the clear night sky as Hobart celebrates winter solstice with Dark Mofo in 2013

The festival kicks off on Thursday 12th of June, with opening night fittingly falling on Friday 13th of June. The festival will conclude on the 22nd of June. Hobart’s skyline will be pierced with not just one, but 18 lights this year. ‘Articulated Intersect’, a work designed by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, will capture our minds, and illuminate our night sky. Lights makes us do strange things, they makes us wonder, they draw us towards them and change how we feel.

‘Different Rhythms’ by Ross Manning will take you into subterranean Hobart spaces such as the Town Hall underground and in the Prince of Wales Battery, Princes Park, for an underground light show which draws upon science, art and music to help create moving masterpieces.

Dark Mofo is really a feast for your senses! Your ears to the sound of live music – your eyes to the sight of lights, art and film (or the nude solstice swim) – and most importantly your mouth to the taste on the winter feast. Dark Mofo will take your senses on a journey which naturally attracts interstate and international attention whilst getting all the locals involved in Hobart’s heart-warming winter solstice festival.

The highlight for me would have to be the Winter Feast, running from Thursday the 19th of June to Saturday the 21st of June. $10 will get you entry to experience the best-of-the-best in food and drink Tasmania has to offer. Trust me, Tasmania produces some of the best food in Australia and beyond. Australian, Italian, French and Asian cuisines all feature prominently throughout the feast and vegetarians not fear, with a host of vegetarian options available. Check out my Winter Feast preview here to get your taste buds jumping off your tongue!

For more information on Dark Mofo and to get yourself some hot tickets, head to WWW.DARKMOFO.NET.AU

Find Dark Mofo on instagram, twitter, facebook and use the hashtag #DARKMOFO


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It’s amazing to think this stunning Polish town was destroyed by the German army in WWII. Post war the old town was carefully rebuilt and returned to it’s former glory. It’s impossible to stand in the middle of the market square and try to imagine what it would have been like some 70-75 years ago. I like how the sky is grey, and it lingers over the buildings as if to say the dark times of WWII will never be forgotten.


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We had the privilege of visiting the Tiger Kingdom while in Chiang Mai. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, its an experience we’ll look back on fondly and something we would like to experience again. It’s always been high on Anna-Maria’s bucket list and she wasn’t disappointed after our time at the Tiger Kingdom.

We hired a driver for the afternoon from our hotel, Chiang Mai Plaza. The drive to Mae Rim is 10 – 15km and can take 15 – 30 minutes depending heavily on the traffic. Our driver reminded us of Chow, the character in The Hangover movies. He was brilliant and gave us a nice little insight into the lifestyle of Northern Thailand. Chow offered to assist us purchase our desired package. You could choose to spend 10 minutes with any of the four-sized tigers they had; baby, small, medium and large. Having a professional photographer accompany us was additional expense. They produce 50 – 100 photos for you during the 10 minutes. This helps ensure the memories remain with you forever. We both wanted to have a play with all the tigers and they had a suitable package for us. It was 3,000 baht for 10 minutes with all four-sized with professional photos taken for us throughout our experience.

Tigers are amazing animals, bold dark patterned lines running down their fur give them a striking look. Their mouths open wide as they yawn, giving humans a sense of intimidation. Their legs, solid from the top to the bottom, allow them to move powerfully. Tigers are majestic creatures, the environment of the Tiger Kingdom and interaction with humans from birth changes their behaviour and allows us to interact with the tigers – something that would be ill-advised if you were out in the wild. Whilst I believe the tigers are treated well, I acknowledge that this is not their natural environment and their behaviours are modified due to interaction with humans from a young age. Whether or not Tiger Kingdom is a money-making exercise is up to you to decide. At the end of the day, the Tiger Kingdom is a business and needs the income to support the tigers with food and veterinary care as well as infrastructure for the tigers to move around.

Anna-Maria cuddling a baby tiger

Anna-Maria cuddling a baby tiger

We spent 1.5 to 2 hours observing the tigers and having our photos taken with the tigers. The keepers would encourage the tigers to play, and help create memorable photos for the customers. The tigers sleep often during the heat of the day, they are very used to humans and don’t always open their eyes when being touched while they rest – allowing us to get close with the tigers, making for a surreal experience.

We found the medium sized tigers got our hearts racing a little as they played with each other and showed us how high they could jump. There is no guarantee that a tiger couldn’t turn around eat you – thats all a part of the experience.

Rawww! Anna-Maria and the biggest tiger strike a pose

Rawww! Anna-Maria and the biggest tiger strike a pose

After our tiger experience we dined at the Tiger Kingdom Restaurant while we waited for our photos to be loaded onto CDs. We sat in the shade and watched the big tigers roam around from our outdoor table. They serve international and thai cuisine and offer a buffet lunch for 200 baht per person. We chose to order off the menu instead. The food was of good quality so I ordered two main dishes, and the prices were very cheap considering it’s the only food option people have while visiting the tigers.

In my opinion its a must do attraction when visiting Chiang Mai. You will also find a Tiger Kingdom in Phuket. My tip would to be hire a driver from your Chiang Mai accommodation to the Tiger Kingdom for a hassle free trip. A return journey, tiger experience and meal at the restaurant will take anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours.



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The city of love is well and truly alive for travelling couples.

“Views of the Eiffel Tower from city streets are fondly remembered, but views from the top of the Eiffel Tower are never forgotten!”

Anna-Maria ticking another off her bucket list

Anna-Maria ticking another off her bucket list

The magic of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

The magic of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Zoomed photo of the Arc De Triomphe

Zoomed photo of the Arc de Triomphe


Zoomed photo of the Sacre Coeur

Views beyond Trocadero

Views beyond Trocadero

Breathtaking views of Paris

Breathtaking views of Paris

Looking towards Montematre and the champs de mars

Looking towards Montmartre and the Champ de Mars

 Don’t miss this amazing experience when you are in Paris.