Microadventure: NSW North Coast 

microadventures, Road Trip, travel

The Pass, ripe for 7am wave pickings.

Byron Bay highlights:
Drinks at the railway pub on a Friday where I can chat with all my friends up here and make a few new ones.

Surfs at classic breaks like Shipwrecks, the Pass and Cosy Corner.

Food on the laneway and from the Thursday morning farmers market.

Coffee coming out of your ears on every street corner.

Good vibes all day and night every single day.

Surfing, eating, drinking, sleeping, repeating.

I get the same feeling driving into Byron Bay as I do when I drive into my own driveway.

I love all the other coastal towns along the way mind you- there’s just something about this place. And the lighthouse. And the streets at midnight. 

Even though every surf break has about a thousand people fighting for a wave, I still like them the best. A good surf at the Pass is like 10 good surfs on the South Coast. 

Don’t need to go home- I’m already here.

#goodvibes 

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Boot scootin’ in Nashville

America, Music, travel


We pulled up in Nashville and not for the first time in my life, I was seduced by a pair of shoes. 

It is quintessential country everything, everywhere you look in Nashville including people’s footwear. I know immediately I needed to invest in a pair of these boots and so the search began for the perfect match. 

In a turn of events that is unprecedented for me, the first shop I walked into, I saw the ones. Perfect fit, perfect style and perfect for every night out between now and Los Angeles. 

I put those new shoes on and suddenly everything was right and off to the country music hall of fame I strolled. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame is a shrine to some of the greatest musicians to grace the stages. Elvis, Chet Atkins, Keith Urban and even Taylor Swift. 

Country music really is the dreams of working people.

Later we went to a rooftop bar for dinner and drinks. Night times in Nashville are overflowing with amazing tunes on every strip and street corner. 

We had to make the most of the country vibe as we only had one night here. 

I’m a much better dancer in cowboy boots.

It was definitely sunny in Philadelphia 

America, travel

Our trek across the USA has begun and our first stop today was Philadelphia. Home of the Liberty Bell, which symbolised the beginning of democracy in America. 

While politically an exciting moment, for a lot of people it was a symbol of slavery and lost identities.  

It is easy to forget a bloodied past when the present is so prosperous. Not to mention the women’s Liberty Bell, which is said to have symbolised a completion of democracy when women wee finally included in voting and political life. 

It would have been amazing to spend more time wandering through the museum here but we only had limited time to push on to Washington.

Of course, the other highlight of Philadelphia is the rocky steps where naturally I created a movie star moment with the rocky theme song spinning round my head. 

Rocky and I are both winners here.

For lunch we stopped at this dodgy looking diner that apparently has the best Philly cheese steaks in the country. Kristy and I shared an enormous steak sandwich and look, it was pretty good. 

Washington was our final stop this evening but all I have to report so far is that the beer was average. 

The Liberty Bell from the side not cracked. The Ameicans actually cracked it before installation was even complete.

Everyday I’m hustlin’ and I’ve had enough

America, travel

It was a revolution today. See, the thing I miss most about home whenever I travel, is my weekend coffees. On Saturdays and Sunday’s I walk down to my favourite coffee shop, usually with mum and dad if I’m in Kiama, and we sip coffee and talk about our weeks. 

We order a croissant with jam and if a motorbike goes past too loudly we grumble about it. Here, the coffee is terrible and to get one you need to fight the rest of New York in Starbucks for a coffee that tastes remotely like coffee should.

Feeling fed up with the sheer volume of other bodies in close proximity to mine, and remembering the sanctuary of Brooklyn, it was at my request we went back there.  Mostly just for a coffee.  

We sat on a sidewalk and had iced lattes and a piece of cake. The coffee was still bad, but I could hear what Kristy was saying and no one hustled me. I do not enjoy being hustled. 

It was the kind of morning I would have if I lived there. Less tourists, more familiarity.

 

Over the bridge and far away from the crowds of Manhattan.

 
Weary of walking, we took the subway back to Wall Street, posed for a photo holding the Bull’s balls, then walked uptown a little for a last chinatown lunch. We figured as we head south, the opportunity for light and healthy food may be limited so we took advantage of the vegetable options, though it fell short of yesterday’s deliciousness. 

  
Heading uptown for the afternoon, we stopped by the Cooper Hewitt Museum. If you are ever in New York, please come to this place. It is all interactive and in this exhibition you can design stuff by breaking everything down into its most basic elemental form. I designed a wallpaper and a bunch cool furniture. Disney Pixar uses the same concept and they have a display that walks people through the construction of their characters. 

Simplistic creativity is not the impossibility people think it is!

For dinner we finally did the New York slice. Predictably, it tasted like pizza. 

Weerona reunion

America, college, friends, travel

 

Sara, myself and Divya enjoying central park and six years worth of gossip.

  
Six years ago when I arrived at Weerona College, I met four people who changed my life. One of them lives in Sydney and I see her at every possible time we can squeeze into our lives for champagne, wanderings and gossip sessions. 

Another lives in Sheffield, England and I’ve seen her a few times when she’s been in Australia or I’ve been in England. We catch up on what’s app and Skype whenever we can.

The other two were Americans who I haven’t seen since the six months they spent in Wollongong back in 2009. Divya lives in Boston and Sara lives in Philadelphia. 

All four of these girls and I had more adventures in six months than I’ve had in my entire life before or since. There was drama, romance, heartbreak, adventures, and plenty of nights we can’t really remember.

Me being in New York seemed the perfect opportunity to get together again, so Kristy and I met them at Penn station where after six years, it was like no time at all had gone by. 

Sara is half Chinese and knew all the good food spots in china town. She led us to the best pork buns of my life in this crazy restaurant. It was packed and you just got put onto any table where there were free seats. Then the waitresses come around with trolleys of weird looking food and you just pick stuff off and go for it. 

We all decided to walk off lunch in Central Park and the catch ups continued late into the afternoon. It was beautiful weather and the park was packed. We came across opera singers, bands in tunnels and a lot of adorable dogs. 

I did not want to say goodbye. I definitely don’t want to wait six years to see those faces again. 

Monuments are fun, New York is beautiful but it’s the people I’ve shared it with that I’ll remember.

Kristy and I walked the Hudson skyline boardwalk while we waited for Divya and Sara. There were plenty of cool little stops on the way, including this one. There is truth in these words.

Over the bridge 

America, travel

To me the Brooklyn Bridge is a symbol of every New York based movie and show I have ever seen.

A dream of mine has always been to reenact the beautiful moment from Sex and the City when Miranda and Steve meet halfway along the  Brooklyn Bridge to reconcile their marriage. 

Obviously I am not married, nor do I live in New York, and I’m on good speaking terms with all my friends… So there was no need to be all dramatic about the moment. I just walked from one side to the other. And it was… A footbridge.

Actually, Kristy and I walked from Brooklyn back to midtown. Solid all day walk. 

There were thousands of people on th bridge to negotiate, and once safely back in Manhattan we made our first foray into Soho where I remained true to myself and did not buy a single thing that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. 

We had lunch in the Chobani Yoghurt Cafe which was cool since I didn’t know there even was one of those. 

Walking through Washington square where all the NYU students were was probably my highlight for the day. There was a lot of hype surrounding the election and I felt the buzz of student life drawing me into its clutches. Definitly thought about just rocking up to some literary studies classes and just enrolling at the university here. I am always missing the challenge of study and the intricacies of knowledge you only get to explore in depth as a student. 

I think when you start working full time your energy for knowledge is overtaken by a desire to perfect and succeed. Knowledge takes a back seat. New York is good for breaking that mound. 

We finished the day with a reading break in the park and an outrageous meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp. I obviously took my life into my own hands with my seafood allergy here. 

My Fitbit tells me we did more than 30 000 steps today as we walked from one end of New York to the other.

Tackling American history one monument at a time

America, travel

When people think about New York, I think the majority associate the Statue of Liberty with it immediately. It is what earlier immigrants saw as they pulled into the harbour, and it’s featured in every movie based in New York. 

It has been on my bucket list of things to do since I was a child. 

I’m not exactly sure why France decided to celebrate America’s 100 years of independence with a green statue of a woman holding a torch. Maybe if I had bothered with the audio tour that would have been revealed. 

Instead I raced up a few hundred stairs into her crown so I could be higher than everyone else for a few minutes and go through the special crown access line. 

Seeing New York from the crown of the statue was a surreal experience and definitely worth the 300 stairs and chlostrophobia battle.

  
On the way back our boat stopped at Ellis Island and we had a look through the immigration museum. It put our detention centres in perspective for me. The unceetainties faced by immigrants is something that upsets me at home. People put their whole life savings into trying to reach a better life only to be turned around at the last hurdle. And it is the same here, although they are no longer processed on Ellis island. 

Later in the afternoon we took the time to visit ground zero and reflect on th horror of September 11. The memorial is fantastic although I understand why it is a little controversial. The water features are grand, but it’s a confrontational reminder. 

 

The 9/11 memorial in downtown New York.

 
After so much reflection on the world’s and America’s problems, we lightened the  day with a late lunch in Chinatown at a restaurant on the back streets that had lots of people in it. Perfection.
 

First bite of the big apple

America, travel, Uncategorized

 Arrived in New York after nearly 30 hours of travelling. Hadn’t showered, changed my shirt or brushed my hair. It was unfortunate we were unable to check in at 10am when we rocked up in the hotel lobby but I took comfort in the fact there are heaps of people in this city who look and smell  worse than me.

Not wanting to waste a whole day, we started wandering in the direction of Starbucks for coffee. Nek minnit… Find ourselves at the top of the Empire State Building. 

  

HIGH: 86 floors up, gazing downtown towards the Statue of Liberty.

 
We had been told to expect huge lines and to pre book tickets because otherwise we would spend all day in lines, buuuuut not only was there no ticket line, there was also only a 15 minute wait to head up top. You go through this long winded explanation of the building’s heating system and how it was built but we skipped that in our eagerness to reach the view. I can say with certainty, the building was warm and the sights were amazing.

My travel bud Kristy may be the only person in the world who appreciates books as much as I do. So it seemed fitting that in our zombie-like states, we took refuge in the New York State Library. Wandering through places where the great thinkers of our time have also wandered always gives me comfort. No matter where you are in the world people always value knowledge. I love that the more knowledge I seem to aquire, the more questions I have about the wold. It’s easy to see how academics become consumed in their studies.

The New York State Library houses a lot of amazing work, but it is also a magnificent building I could spend all week in and still feel like I hadn’t seen at all.

THINKING: I wish i could say I was thinking great, life changing thoughts but actually , I was eyeing off the pretzel cart across the road wondering if I should get one for lunch or stick with my salad wrap.

Fast forward through an emergency stop at Forever 21 for new tights, a nap and a quick supermarket trip, we hit the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square for dinner. I am definitely in a New York State of mind. 

  

Road Trip to Walwa

Australia, Road Trip, travel, Uncategorized

I hear you asking… “Where the hell is Walwa?” Well don’t worry. That was my exact reaction when I first met my friend Rob and he was telling me where he grew up. That was back in around 2012. A couple of years on, I still consider this kid a good enough friend to road trip 7 hours down the road for his 21st (Actually 22nd- but he just pretended he was 21 in order to throw a killer party), and he still considers me a good enough friend to extend an invite.

I decided to make a weekend of it, as it is rather a long drive. So on Friday afternoon, after I finished work, I jumped in the car and drove down as far as Wagga. That drive basically consists of strait road and unvarying views for about 500km.  Just in time for dinner, I pulled into my friend Sarah’s place where I stayed overnight.

On Saturday morning, feeling a lot less tired, Sarah gave me the grand tour of Wagga. It was cool to check out, as a lot of my university friends came from here, and it was nice to visualise all the things they used to talk about, especially the Wagga beach.

The infamous Wagga "Beach"

The infamous Wagga “Beach”

It doesn’t look like much but the banks of the Murrumbidgee River are actually quite picturesque. I can only imagine all the kids growing up here, and the antics they must have got up to. While it definitely has sand, the beach does lack a couple of key beach features, such as waves, seagulls and somewhere to buy hot chips.

Saturday afternoon, we met up with a couple of other friends and hit the road again, down to Walwa, which is just on the border between NSW and VIC. We drove past a lot of farms and my friends were explaining to me the impact the drought a couple of years ago had on the land here, and the floods that then followed. It really seems almost like a different world. That sounds silly, but I suppose at home, we never saw the full effects of any of that, as we are on the coast, in a very temperate climate. We get plenty of rain through both winter and summer. Farming needs such a precise weather pattern. It seems such a risky business!

We drove into Rob’s place and it was absolutely stunning.

Just your average driveway, where you actually can't see the other end of it.

Just your average driveway, where you actually can’t see the other end of it.

The party itself was a lot of fun. I got to catch up with a lot of friends from all around the state, and we partied well into the night. It was so great to hear about all the things that have happened over summer. I got a bit of a shock when I walked into the cool room to grab a beer, and found a dead, half butchered cow hanging up over the top of all the drinks. As it turns out, a couple of days prior, Rob had been rounding up cattle and a pregnant heifer had run into the gate after he had shut it. She had died so they thought, “oh well, we’ll just eat her”! Crazy farm people. I guess there is nothing else you really can do!

I only retired to bed when it got too cold to stay out any longer. It was about 5 degrees, and this is supposed to be a summer night! We camped in a little shed, and rolled out of bed on Sunday to a glorious day.

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Woke up to this…

After some much needed bacon and egg sandwiches, and a strong coffee, we set off back to Wagga, I had a quick lunch stop, then shot back up the Hume to be home in time for dinner.

There’s definitely no place I would rather have been this weekend.

Being a Tourist

England, travel, Where would you rather be?

I love the idea of an adventure. Going to a new place, getting lost, discovering new things. Just not when I have to catch a plane later in the afternoon. So today I did the tourist thing.

I bought a ticket (a very expensive one considering I couldn’t make full use of it) to a hop on hop off bus and saw every major attraction in London in under 3 hours. And by see, I mean drove past. Still counts. It was actually well worth it to get a decent orientation and sense of the place. We drove around Buckingham palace and over the London bridge. And I won’t list the rest of the attractions I saw, but there were a lot that I want to come back to later in my trip.

The only minor issue was missing my stop on the way back and having to walk a mile back to Paddington in what I like to call my “hangry” state. A feeling I get when I get hungry and this is directly linked to the severe plummeting of my mood. When provoked in this state, I can be temperamental. Perks of travelling alone: no one to get angry at. Can stop at McDonald’s for emergency sustenance, judgement free.

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Please enjoy this humorous photo of a sign I found funny. In my defence, my body thinks it’s 3 am.

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And this hurried photo of the Big Ben

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I haven’t done this yet but I know it will be my favourite.

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And this is an adorable picture of the Paddington bear bronze statue that I walked around Paddington station for a good 20 minutes trying to find.