Tag Archives: Friends

Milan

A whirlwind trip to Milan

In November, my friend  and I did a quick weekend trip to Milan. The best thing about Milan is that it is a quick flight from London (less than 1.5 hours), and if you book far in advance, you can buy airfares for £65 per person!

We had a great time eating and shopping. We woke up when we felt like, ate a 3 course breakfast and then walked through the streets of Milan as if we had all the time in the world!

Since we work in such high pressure jobs, we are always used to being on a schedule. This weekend was our time to have some girly catch-up time and just chill. I love lazy weekends.

This is the only photo that I took from the trip, but it turned out to be a great one. This is the Duomo, Milan’s main Cathedral. I have been to Milan a few times but every time I see it, I still appreciate the architectural brilliance.

Milan

Where is your favourite place to relax?

Get inspired or get hungry

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Merry Christmas from London

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that you had an amazing time with family and friends wherever you are in the world.

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We spent Christmas in London this year with our London family – our good friends Lilian and Andrew. We enjoyed a hearty Christmas feast, good conversation, followed by a 2 hour episode of Downton Abbey! Love it! I really wish I could have lived in that century for just a little while.

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I am at home now and completely full from all the food we ate. Watching all the YouTube tutorials for cooking a Christmas meal really paid off :)

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Anyway, it’s bed time for me but I though I would send my love and greetings to the blogosphere and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you did not celebrate Christmas, I hope that you enjoyed the holiday and festive cheer :D

What did you do during the holiday season? Comment below and let me know!

Get inspired or get hungry

If you want travel or food inspirationsubscribe here, follow me on Facebook and twitter! I share a lot of food photos on my Facebook so don’t be afraid to share some of yours! Let’s connect.

The day I turned 30: Dinner at Floga, Santorini

Suddenly 30: Am I supposed to feel different?

I am 30 now…

Am I supposed to feel different?

I do not feel different. I still have a love for travel, culture, fairy tales, European royalty, enchanted Castles and maintain my obsession with food.

I do not think that turning 30 can make a person change overnight. What I do think is that I have changed since moving to London. I stress less. I spend more time with positive people. I laugh more often. I enjoy the little things even more than I used to. I also appreciate all my blessings: my family, my friends, my job opportunities and my chance to experience more of the world. I count my blessings every day.

Life is good and it’s only going to get better!

My lovely husband organised for me to celebrate my 30 years on this earth in 3 countries: Seattle (USA), London (UK) and Santorini (Greece).

Sleepless in Seattle

We arrived in Seattle on a sunny day and went straight to our hotel. We were staying in the centre of the city so it was easy to meet everyone for drinks. We had a good time catching up with friends who had been traveling the East and West Coast and others who were now “local” to Seattle.

Catching up with the bride-to-be on the day before her wedding, Seattle
Catching up with the bride-to-be on the day before her wedding, Seattle

After drinks, a bunch of us went to Anthony’s Pier 66 for my birthday dinner. Anthony’s Pier 66 has amazing waterfront views of Seattle’s Pier. We enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner of oysters, scallops and fish which was only made better by the amazing sunset.

Anthony's Pier 66
Anthony’s Pier 66: oysters, scallops and birthday cake and friends shot (anti clock-wise)

The service at Anthony’s Pier 66 was impeccable. The waiter was so upbeat that you couldn’t help but be upbeat with him! He suggested some great food options and even brought out a cake for me for my birthday! It was a nice surprise!

Living it up in London

How can I not celebrate my birthday in my ‘home’ town? In London, we made cocktails for our guests at our home, followed by dinner at La Farola for some Spanish tapas. I was spoilt with lots of fun and laughter and showered with thoughtful gifts.

My favourite dishes at La Farola: Paella, zucchini flowers, croquettes, sardines on toast.
My favourite dishes at La Farola: Paella, zucchini flowers, croquettes, sardines on toast.

La Farola also has some amazing cocktails so we tried a few martinis and jars of sangria!

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I was lucky to have two birthday cakes: a Hello Kitty cake with a British Flag t-shirt seemed appropriate and a cake specially made for me by my friend Andrea. It had white cream icing on the outside and pink layers of mud cake on the inside! She is a banker but I really think she should start  a food business. Her attention to detail is amazing and the cake was delicious. What do you think of her cake?

My birthday cakes and my presents. I was so spoilt!
My birthday cakes and my presents. I was so spoilt!

When the cakes were brought out, the staff of La Farola dimmed the lights and put on the song ‘Happy Birthday to you’. They had my entire party plus the restaurant guests singing and clapping to the music. It was amazing!

After eating our way through many courses of Spanish tapas, we danced the night away in West London with the rest of our expat friends!

Sunset in Santorini

As part of my birthday present, Rick took me to Santorini. We flew to Santorini on the day of my birthday and had two amazing dinners at Floga and Naoussa Restaurant. I felt blessed to be watching the Santorini sunset with the love of my life.

The day I turned 30: Dinner at Floga, Santorini
The day I turned 30: Dinner at Floga, Santorini

To top it off, I was also receiving messages, texts, emails and letters from loved ones back at home and that made me feel so special. I could not have asked for or dreamed of a better 30th birthday!

My birthday cakes at Floga Restaurant and Naoussa Restaurant
My birthday cakes at Floga Restaurant and Naoussa Restaurant

Where was your favourite birthday location and how was it? Comment below and let me know!

Want to read more about exciting travel adventures?

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Oslo

I flew from London to Oslo for a barbecue!

Hi there! Yes, the title of this post is correct but let me explain why. I turned up on Monday morning (a few weeks ago) and when everyone shared their weekend events, I told them that I had been in Oslo and we had a barbecue. Before I could explain myself, they started to laugh about the “jet-setting Aussie” type who flies all the way to another country just to attend a party, or in my case, a barbecue. By the way, I did that for NYE 2012 so I’m not a stranger to such actions (click here for the post).

After the (friendly) laughter subsided, I explained the reason for my visit. Rick and I had visited our good friends Christel and Eirik, who happened to be Norwegians living in the lovely city of Oslo. If you remember as far back as the London Olympics, they had visited us for a week in London and wanted to show us their home turf (click here and here if you want to read the posts).

I met Christel about 6 years ago when she was studying in Australia. We  met while in kick boxing class, which surprises a lot of people as we do not look like the kick boxing type. Believe me, Christel has a strong kick and so do I! She is one of the nicest people I have met and like a pocket rocket with all the energy that she has. This is one of the reasons why we decided to visit Oslo. We wanted to spend time with Christel and her boyfriend Eirik and to get a feel of the city that they call home.

Oslo

Christel and Eirik were such good hosts. We arrived at 11.30pm on Friday night and they picked us up from the station which is so very nice of them. They made us a delicious meal of Swedish meatballs with gravy, potatoes and vegetables as a midnight snack. We talked for hours and finally went to sleep at 2am – not that you could tell because it was still relatively light outside!

Oslo Opera house

The next morning, we were treated with a traditional Norwegian breakfast of brown cheese, freshly baked baguettes, salami and freshly blended fruit smoothie! This was the fuel that we needed to take a walk around the city of Oslo. We walked on the roof of the Oslo Opera House and sipped beers at the bar of the Oslo pier. The sun was out with full force and the atmosphere was buzzing.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo

We then met up with some of their friends and walked another hour to a sandy beach that lead to the ocean. Eirik took out a disposable barbecue tray and started to make our delicious lunch of cheese burgers and sausages. The sausages were wrapped in lomper (flat potato bread) which I still think about to this day! The bread was thin and flat but slightly springy and smooth on the outside. Add some dried onions, tomato sauce and potato salad and you have yourself one of the tastiest hot dogs you can find! (Does anyone know if you can get them in the UK and where?)

In between bites of food, Christel convinced us to jump into the ocean and go for a swim. We had just experienced 5 minutes of rain and wanted to get in the ocean before the rain returned. The water was cold (15 degrees) yet exhilarating because the waves were slight and the water changed from shallow to deep quite quickly. We had to be careful not to be swept away with the waves (gentle as they were) so I stayed in the shallow end while the others swam to the nearest buoy.

Oslo

At night, Christel and her friends took us out pizza followed by a game of Shuffle Board. Shuffle Board was played in a pub so you can drink your favourite cocktail while playing the game. The shuffle board is sprinkled with sand and the aim of the game is to get your token as close to the edge of the opposite end of the table as possible. It was a close match and competition was fierce but we ended up having a lot of fun!

Oslo

We spent the final day of Oslo waking up late and eating a fresh breakfast of bacon and eggs, fruit smoothie and berries. Christel and Eirik really spoilt us with breakfast! We then enjoyed a barbecue with their friends and saw a glimpse of suburban life in this beautiful city. Their friends were so friendly and made us feel welcome by offering us food and drinks. I can see why Oslo was voted one of the best places to live (2009) – the people are lovely and the city is vibrant!

Have you or would you fly 2 hours to go to a party? If so, when or why? 

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Want to read other people’s adventures in Oslo? Click below.

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6 Things that I wish I had known before becoming an expat

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Hi everyone! I want to share with you a link to my first guest blog post at Expat-Quotes. Here I share my thoughts about the 6 things I wish I had known before becoming an expat. 

If you are thinking of moving offshore, are currently an expat, or are just curious to know why one makes such a decision, then I think that you will want to read this. Please have a read and let me know what you think. It helped me understand my journey and I hope that it helps you too.

Don’t forget to comment, like and share!

Thank you for sharing this amazing adventure with me. If you want to hear about my upcoming US trip, click on the subscribe button and follow me on twitter.

Does anyone know of must eat places in LA, San Francisco and Seattle areas? I’m leaving the shores of Europe/UK for the West Coast!

BerlinFeatured

New Years Eve 2012 in Berlin: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We celebrated New Years Eve in Berlin this year. Berlin was a quick flight from London so many of my friends flew in especially for New Years Eve and flew out on New Years Day. It was well worth the effort.

New Years at the Brandenburg Gate

I have been to Berlin before (click here for the post), so the focus of this trip was to celebrate the end of 2012 in true London expat style! We sipped on cocktails by the Brandenburg Gate while listening to international acts play loudly from the stage. My favourite moment was when the British boy band, Blue, came up on stage and started to sing. The girls and I initially thought that they were impersonators, but when we looked closely, we recognised their faces and their voices! Soon, we were belting out the tunes to “All Rise” as if our lives depended on it.

NYE count down at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
NYE count down at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Did I mention that on NYE, not only does Berlin celebrate with great music, but they celebrate with fireworks… everywhere. On NYE only, fireworks can be used by any man and his dog and as you walk through the streets, all you can see and hear are the fireworks. I initially spent most of my time trying to dodge the fireworks, but after a while, I noticed that the police were keeping everyone in check and people were behaving relatively well. We were even allowed to light up our store bought fireworks for a good 30 minutes!

We lit up our sparklers as the countdown began and as the final seconds of 2012 came to an end, we all cheered and hugged each other. The entire area surrounding the Brandenburg Gate was filled with cheers as the choreagraphed fireworks display brought us into 2013. 2012 was a great year and we knew that 2013 would be an even better year!

The After Party

The after party was held at the Neon Splash Party. Basically, the rule of this party is that you dress in white and everyone throws neon paint at each other. Add in a cool DJ and a fun loving crowd and you have yourself a note worthy after party. I walked in wearing white and walked out covered in neon. We left the party at 6am and slept until well into the afternoon. Love it!

NYE 2012 at the Neon Splash Party
NYE 2012 at the Neon Splash Party

How was your New Years celebrations? Wishing you all the best for 2013!

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My first white Christmas and learning to ski in Mayrhofen (Austria)

Belated Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that your Christmas was filled with cheer, good food and more importantly good times with family and friends.

2012 was a year of firsts for me. I usually spend my Christmas in Australia with my extended family. I missed them dearly in 2012 as I sadly could not make it back home. However, Rick and I made the most of our first white Christmas by going on a ski holiday with our friends in the beautiful resort town of Mayrhofen, Austria.

My first day of skiing

Another first for me was the fact that I learnt to ski for the first time. I’ll be honest. Skiing was never my first choice of holiday, but my motto is to try everything once and I am glad that I tried. I am now absolutely addicted to skiing and I plan to book another ski holiday as soon as possible!

My first day on the blue slopes!! (2 days were spent on the baby slopes)
My first day of skiing

My first day of skiing was awful! I couldn’t ski down the baby slopes without a crash landing or without almost knocking someone over. My friends tried to teach me a few things before class started but I was just not managing to stay up for longer than a minute. I was so upset that I almost (literally) threw down my helmet and  quit on the spot. But, I am not a quitter, and let’s just say that after a few ski lessons, I graduated from the baby slopes and was gliding down the blue slopes as if it was second nature.

Rick and I on blue run #20
Rick and I on blue run #2

Our ski instructor was fantastic. He took us to blue run #2 which hugs the cliff side and has a width of about 4 metres. Imagine my surprise when he asked us to follow him down this narrow run. I am not a fan of heights and I was only getting the hang of the baby slopes. I almost turned around but I bravely followed the class. I sharply turned the corner, panicked at the sight of the cliff edge and jumping into the thick snow that covered the mountain. I was stuck there for a few minutes while Rick talked me down – he couldn’t reach me as I had managed to wedge myself into the mountain about 1 metre above his head.

Shortly after blue run #2, we tackled blue run #20 which is the much steeper version of #2. This was one of the most challenging runs and it wasn’t without drama. I fell down multiple times as I sharply turned the steep corners but felt confident after a few goes. I learnt to ignore the fact that we were very close to the cliff edge and started to get excited about the view of the mountains. We moved onto a few other slopes and also into the private ski slopes which were no longer marked. Here, the powdery snow was untouched because only a few people knew about it. It was as if I was skiing in the cloud while speckles of snow fell gently around me. I remember looking at the view of the mountains, the Christmas trees covered in snow and the clouds below us. It was a Christmas card moment that’s for sure.

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A White Christmas

As I mentioned earlier, my Christmas was spent with friends this year. I am really blessed to be able to spend my first white Christmas with a fun bunch of people. We stayed in a Chalet in Mayerhofen so our breakfast and dinner was provided to us daily. On Christmas day, we drank wine and ate turkey with all the trimmings. We even had a visit from good old Santa Claus who came bearing chocolates (not coal). We have been good girls and boys in 2012! ;)

Christmas dinner (25.12.2013)
Christmas dinner (25.12.2013)

Finally, Christmas is never complete without checking the Christmas tree to see if the reindeer had eaten the carrots and Santa had sampled the cookies that you left outside on Christmas Eve. We spotted Santa’s foot steps on the stair well, which lead to the rooms of the families with children that were staying at the Chalet (greatly organised by the Chalet staff).

Before (24.12) and after (25.12) Santa visited the Chalet
Before (24.12) and after (25.12) Santa visited the Chalet

Christmas was fun this year. I missed my family but we made amazing memories in Mayrhofen. We celebrated Christmas 2012 with much cheer, laughter and good company.

How was your Christmas? I hope that it was filled with sugar and spice and everything nice!

The passion fruit soufflé at The Ledbury was amazing!

The Ledbury for lunch: tantalise your taste buds

We ate at The Ledbury and sampled a scrumptious selection of dishes!

Let me tell you how the magic happened…

Once upon a time, on a cold London’s day, there were two girls who were having lunch in East London. They were sharing stories about Australia and their amazing experiences in London. They also realised that they shared a love for food and started comparing the restaurants that they were fond of.

Suddenly, one of the girls had a remarkable idea! They both wanted to go to the famous restaurant named The Ledbury. Many of their friends have dined at both the Ledbury and Noma which is the number one restaurant in the world. Some of these people have even dared to say that The Ledbury was better! So out of pure curiosity and yearning for good food… the girls booked their table at The Ledbury months in advance and so begins their food journey…

Now fast forward to when we actually went to The Ledbury. Saturday was by far the coldest day that I have ever experienced in London. It’s as if the artic winds had shifted and pointed in the direction of London. I had my thermals, boots and down jacket ready so I was not afraid of the cold.

Rick and I made our way to Notting Hill where The Ledbury is located. Notting Hill is one of my favourite places in London because it is so picturesque with its tree lined streets and beautiful English style houses. We felt like we were in a Hugh Grant movie as the leaves were various shades of orange and were falling softly from the trees. I love Autumn in London!

When we finally entered The Ledbury, we were welcomed with such warmth. We ordered the set two course lunch, individually opted for an al a carte dessert and a bottle of wine. Like most fine dining restaurants, you were given a complimentary canapé to start with while you’re waiting for your meal. It was foie gras (duck liver paté) in a potato based shell. It was so light and fluffy and absolutely delicious!

My entree was the Ceviche of Scallops with Red Meat Radishes, Seaweed and Frozen English Wasabi. This was one of my favourites as it was light and refreshing. I have started to appreciate Ceviche since my trip to Peru many years ago, so it was nice to sample an English twist to a Peruvian dish. The scallops were so fresh and the radishes balanced the flavours of the seaweed and frozen Wasabi.

My main meal was the Roast Brill with Braised Celery, Smoked Oyster Milk and Crisp Potato. The brill was fresh and the oyster milk gave it such a nice flavour. I enjoyed the crisp potato which was in the shape of spaghetti, but the braised celery was not my favourite part (bear in mind that I dislike the taste of celery).

For dessert, I had the Passion Fruit Soufflé with Sauternes Ice Cream. This was by far the highlight of the day! I admired the fluffy soufflé as the waiters brought it to the table. I was even more impressed when one of the waiters used a spoon to pick up a beautiful presented dollop of cream and oh so effortlessly put the cream into the middle of my soufflé. It was love at first sight and the love affair continued until my very last bite.

We finished the meal with mini cookies and chocolate gnash. It was a perfect end to a delicious meal!

What is your favourite dessert and where did you eat it? Comment below and let me know!

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The Algarve

The Algarve Beach Hopping Experience

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent the long weekend at The Algarves, Portugal.

If you are interested in good food, amazing parties and spectacular beaches, then The Algarve is the place to visit!

Having lived in Australia and always in relatively close vicinity to a beach, I have become quite the beach critic. The beaches at The Algarve definitely rank high on my list of must see beaches in Europe.

It took some careful planning, but we were able to hop our way from the beaches near LagosPortimao and Albufeira. All beaches were special in their own way but two facts ring true for all; the golden sand was smooth and the water was clear and blue – so clear that you could see your feet as tiny fish swam around them.

My favourite place to swim was near Salema and I also enjoyed our boat tour to see the rock formations in Ponta Da Piedade.

We spent many hours sun bathing, swimming in the crystal blue waters and partying until sun rise in the villages of Lagos and Albufeira. One of my favourite memories was hiring a paddle boat with a slide attached to it – there were many times spent jumping off or sliding down the paddle boat! We would then spend our days eating our way through The Algarve by feasting on all the delicious seafood and meat dishes.

Friends, sunshine and beaches equals an amazing holiday! Life is good!

What’s your favourite beach holiday?

My friends and I enjoying our final day at The Algarve

How to Plan a Road Trip at The Algarve

  1. To save time, decide on the places that you want to visit and base yourself in each of these places. We flew in from Faro and drove all the way to Lagos on the first night. Lagos is located West on the map below and was the furthest point of our journey. We then made our way from Lagos and drove towards Portimao, Albufeira and then back to Faro, which is the city that we flew out of. We found this to be efficient and enabled us to make the most of our time in each city.
  2. Selecting the accommodation: We traveled with 2 other couples. We selected resorts that were within 5 minutes walking distance of the city centre. We based our accomodation on the cities that we’d like to party in. It was a safer option because we preferred walking back to the hotel after a night of partying.
  3. Selecting cars or public transport? We visited a number of cities so we hired two cars. Public transport is available but not as frequent in smaller villages so I recommend traveling by car for most of the trip.
  4. Enjoy and get ready to have a fantastic time at The Algarve!

Related links:

M & L Mixed Grill at Mem & Laz

Where to get good Mediterranean food in London

London is such a cosmopolitan city so it is no surprise that there is an abundance of cuisines from various cultures. As I mentioned in my previous post, our friends Christel and Eirik came to visit us all the way from Norway. We wanted to show them our favourite places to eat in London so when they asked to eat something different, I took them to eat at Mem &  Laz.

Enjoying a nice meal at Mem & Laz

Mem & Laz has been a favourite of mine since our friends took us there on day 2 of our London adventures, so it was only polite to share the love with our visitors. So once again, I gathered whoever was available and we dined on delicious seafood and meat dishes all night long.

When I say all night long, I actually mean it. We started dinner at 8.30pm and finished our meals close to midnight. We were having such a great time, that time flew by.

We enjoyed starters of warm Mediterranean bread and mixed olives and then ate our way through the mains which we washed down with some good wine.

The brassiere has quite a relaxed feel but is buzzing with activity from both patrons and staff. The table next to us was celebrating a birthday, so the staff gave the birthday girl a complimentary cake and danced a traditional dance with her (well kind of!). The entire place was buzzing with applause and laughter, it was quite the scene!

Rick thoroughly enjoyed the M & L mixed grilled and I devoured the sautéed seafood.

The best thing about Mediterranean cooking is that the servings are large and have so much flavour. The dishes may not look pretty and petite but that’s because they are made with a great deal of love and care! I can’t stop thinking about the seafood which is nicely sautéed in white wine, garlic and lemon juice. The flavours soaked into the rice which I heartily ate.

M & L Mixed Grill at Mem & Laz
Sauteed Seafood at Mem & Laz

It gets better…

We topped off our meal with dessert which included banoffee pie and panacotta with berry sauce. I highly recommend both but my favourite was the banoffee pie! Who can resist toffee, cream and bananas? I know that I cannot!

Banoffee Pie at Mem & Laz
Panacotta with berry sauce at Mem & Laz

The food was certainly perfect to line our stomachs for the big night out that we had planned.

Craving for Mediterranean food?

Check it out here: 8 Theberton Street Islington, London, Greater London N1 0QX, United Kingdom
Nearest Tube: Angel
Phone: 020 7704 9089
Website: http://www.memlaz.com

Where is your favourite place to eat and why?

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