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Wild Spin of the Web {4}

In our little lap of the web galaxy this week, we discover Ottolenghi’s tips on the best pastries in Paris, see what a year in Portugal looks like, find out how to do festivals in style, take a tour of Copenhagen, get off-grid inspo for a NSW adventure, and see what is certainly the world’s coolest new library!

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Photo Credit: Dane Tucker

LISTEN/STAY – The music festival season is almost back, but why not think about experiencing it with a little more comfort, a little more flair and a little more smarts? This awesome post Don’t camp ugly this festival season from Homecamp is exactly what you need as an antidote to those inevitable port-a-loos. To the advice about not packing an umbrella or a raincoat I would only say this: at Roskilde in Denmark it rained A LOT, but I was able to pick up the cutest Scandi raincoat and umbrella ever, so know that not taking them usually doesn’t mean you can’t get one if needed. Festival stalls are always full of industrial folk who will see a need and sell to it.

NB: I was lucky enough to interview the lovely Stephanie Francis from Homecamp on my Wanderlust show last week about her new book Homecamp: Stories and Inspiration for the Modern Adventurer – which I truly think is the perfect Xmas pressie for that travel nut in your life.

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Photo Credit: Victoria Smith for sfgirlbybay

VISIT – One of my all-time favourite blogs is sfgirlbybay by the lovely Victoria Smith. Her stylish eye keeps me inspired to no end, so be sure to keep it on your must-read list. I was delighted to see the run-down of her recent trip to Copenhagen, especially as she stayed in my fave hotel there SP34 (check out my post on that here). She shares her fave Copenhagen neighbourhoods, shops, cafes and bars, so what are you waiting for? Check it out here.

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Photo Credit: Gotta Keep Movin’

TRAVEL/READ – Portugal is so high on my travel list and I can’t wait to get my hands on this My Year in Portugal guide by Emma Higgins of Gotta Keep Movin’ as featured here on Fathom. Emma basically spends a year living in a new place, gets an insider’s view into the destination and then documents it in this adorable print guide.

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Photo Credit: Alex Cratey Systermans

TASTE – I adore the chef Yotam Ottolenghi and am lucky enough to have visited two of his restaurants in London. Recently he wrote a piece for Travel + Leisure on spending two days trying out the best pastries in Paris and it’s a delight to experience the tastes of this most romantic of cities through his eyes. Warning: it may make you salivate.

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Photo Credit: Unyoked

STAY – Something about the summer approaching makes me want to get into the car, head for the great outdoors and bunker down in nature for a few days. Often. So these suggestions in Concrete Playground of Five remote cabins outside of Sydney where you can go off-grid got me more than a little excited for summer adventures!

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Photo credit: Ossip van Duivenbode

TRAVEL/READ – Anyone who has been following this blog will know that I am well and truly prepared to travel for bookstores and libraries (like this recent post on the book town in the Norwegian fjords), so my heart was all aflutter at seeing this new wonder of the literary world, Tianjin Binhai Library, located a few hours out of Beijing in China. Those shelves that carry upward into the ceiling are truly mind-bending! This Popsugar article has the lowdown and pics.

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Photo credit: Ossip van Duivenbode

Seen any cool travel bits and pieces online lately? Let me know in the comments below!

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Fjærland – Norway’s Book Town Deep in the Fjords

Often the most magical places are a little tricky to reach. But if you make that extra connection, wind a little deeper into lesser-known terrain, the rewards can be significant: the feeling of discovery, a comforting dose of tranquility, and in the case of Fjærland, more books and pine trees that people – and the people are mighty nice.

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Fjærland is a village in the Norwegian fjords, and this particular fjord is called the Sognefjord. It can be reached by two ferries from Bergen (or a long bus from Oslo, which was our onward journey – there is a big, modern info centre down at Bergen Harbour which will point you there and sell tickets). This charming town is a drawcard for two reasons – one is that it is the gateway to the vast Jostedalsbreen glacier – the largest glacier in continental Europe that spans a staggering 487 square kilometers! The arm that people come to see is called Bøyabreen. The other, which had my heart aflutter and was my main purpose for the visit, is that it is Norway’s official book town! Being a literature lover from way back (I worked in book stores for years and started my career in book publishing), the thought of books colliding with nature, fjords, a little village, well, there’s not much more to say really.

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STAY: Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel

This is one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever stayed in. In Norway. In the World. Period.

I was lured there (pictured below – the above is Hotel Mundal – also gorgeous) when I was searching for hotels to stay at in Scandinavia and stumbled on this book room and I almost died. I mean, my own bedroom has a mountain of books in it, but this was different. It was in the fjords of Norway! It was such a divine experience that it deserves its own post, which is coming soon so hang in there! In the meantime, you can check it out (and I know you’ll consider booking!) on their suitably beautiful website.

Norway Fjord Fjaerland Scandinavia Book Town Glacier Fjordstove HotelNorway Fjord Fjaerland Scandinavia Book Town Glacier Fjordstove Hotel

Legit Book town

So, a book town – what does that even meeeaan!? Essentially, this very brilliant initiative was thought up by the founder of Wales’ Hay on Wye annual book festival, Richard Booth. I’ve never met him, but he sounds pretty rad. More than twenty such towns exist in the world, in far flung locales (OK, there’s quite a few in Europe) like Spain, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Korea and even one in Clunes, Vicitoria, here in Aus. These villages have a high concentration of second-hand or antiquarian bookstores, and by becoming a little reading nook within the country, they help attracted tourism to otherwise quiet destinations.

In the case of Fjærland, this translates to 10 second-hand bookstores in a town that has just under 300 inhabitants. Most of them stand silent and unattended, so you creep through on the floorboards, browsing spines of titles from local folk tales to mass-market fiction, to bizarre, outdated craft books that border on the creepy.  It’s glorious! Many operate on an honesty system, including a bookstore in an old, slanting bus stop complete with moss dripping from the roof, and a garage-conversion in a local’s driveway.

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The first bookstore you are likely to discover is the Kaffistova Book-cafe, which is right where the ferry drops you off as you enter town. It also served a homely selection of soups and cakes, cheese toasties and coffee and the service is friendly like you would expect from a small little village.

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Another place to grab a bite and have a mooch is Hotel Mundal, which was build in 1891 and is run by the original family that founded it. I adored the fading maps and old photographs of Fjærland and it’s people from times past. The hotel has 35 rooms and the restaurant serves dinner here at 6:30pm each evening. We arrived here famished after a hike and made a bee-line for Kafe Mikkel, that serves sandwiches and tea.  Each were delicious to our rumbling tummies!

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Bøyabreen Glacier

Eager to meet the mouth of Europe’s largest glacier, we caught one of the two daily glacier bus services. For 132 NOK (or around AUD $21), it weaves you up to the Glacier Museum, and then on to Bøyabreen, an arm (Ok, not mouth) of the mighty Jostedalsbreen glacier. The Museum is an unexpectedly modern structure, which shows a (kinda hilarious) film of the glacier, and has lots of interactive exhibits that explain some of the science behind it. A guide then takes you on to a couple of different outposts to see the real thing.

It’s immense. At a distance, especially in photos, it appears small, but these towering chunks of ice are nothing short of massive. The part that is most mindbending is that it continues on for 487 square kilometres. For dayssss, basically.

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Norway Fjord Fjaerland Scandinavia Book Town Glacier

Hiking

Bard (pronounced bored), the wonderful owner of our hotel, recommended an ‘easy’ hike nearby, which he does most mornings. I can even see him in my mind, running up there effortlessly. So, we set off with a small bottle of water each and no food quite late in the day, and started to climb a fjord mountain – like idiots.

Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and #noregrets. Weaving up into valleys among wildflowers, past an old hikers hut, with some epic fjord views at the peak – as well as a tin containing a well-wishing note and a cigar that delighted Phil – but we were annoyed at ourselves, because the golden rule of hiking is to go prepared. It took us a lot longer than we expected and we hadn’t even really eaten lunch. We also had to ration water as it was a lot steeper in parts than anticipated, and the weather was moving its clouds through the fjords, which was not only blocking some of the views, but it made us a bit nervous given our aforementioned lack of planning. We only saw two girls the whole time, who were descending past the hut, because they too came up in a state of ill-considered spontaneity. So, be smart when you hike folks, and know that Bard is fitter than you! Ha, OK, maybe not you, but us. I would love to return and do more hikes in the area though.

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We spent two nights in Fjærland, this quiet realm of kayaks and antiquarian novels, sleeping in a white, picket fence hotel on the shore.

Next time I take the book room.

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Fjaerland Pinterest

Hey there! I’m guessing if you found your way here, you’re into taking a wild spin of the world yourself. I think you’ll love getting our Wild Spin E-news so please do sign up. I’m also over on Bloglovin’ and Pinterest, so please do stay in touch!

 

 

Love is the Ultimate Outlaw – Our Kiama Wedding

One month ago I got hitched to my long haired lover from Liverpool. The big day was a goddamn joyful explosion of love, colour, wine and tunes on a property on the edge of Kiama on the South Coast. As anyone who has been married would know, there are a mind-boggling amount of decisions that go into tying the knot. I will never underestimate that the single best one is obviously saying ‘YES’ in the first place (love you millions babe!). I’m also over the moon that Australia said YES to marriage equality this week! Everyone deserves the right to marry whoever they wish!

Another was the choice of my bangin’ bridesmaids that were there through all the other steps and I couldn’t have made this wedding such a hit without my beloved bombshells.  Also, how hot do they look in these jewel-toned dresses?!

Putting the spunky artist groom Phillip Marsden in charge of all things stationary and signage will be making couples jealous AF for years to come (unfortunately not pictured – will post when we get some of those photos). I won’t go on too much, as at the bottom of this post I have a full list of vendors and info on the dress and all that business, but I do need to give big ups to Bush Bank for providing the gorgeous setting, Jasmine Christie for being the flower magician of my dreams, Ben Ager for putting all celebrants that ever pronounced a couple wed to shame, and the kick-arse camera-wielding maestros Ellen and Phu of Folk + Follow, whose artful images speak for themselves below.

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bankAustralia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank Jasmine Christie Florist

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank Grace Loves Lace Emanuela

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bankAustralia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bankAustralia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank Jasmine Christie

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank

“Love is the ultimate outlaw.

It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”

– Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

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KateandPhil-15Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank Jasmine ChristieAustralia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bankAustralia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bankKateandPhil-21Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil bush bank

WEDDING TUNES

{Walking down the Aisle} ‘Ontario’ by Bonobo

{Signing the marriage certificates} ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young and ‘True Love Will Find You in the End’ by Beck (Daniel Johnston cover)

{Walking back up the aisle} ‘Do You Realize??’ by Flaming Lips followed by ‘Picture Perfect’ by Nelly Furtado

{Bridal party entering reception} ‘Let’s Stick Together’ by Bryan Ferry

{First Dance} ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ by Father John Misty

{DJ} MK-1 from Bondi Beach Radio and L Fresh The Lion

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OUR KICK-ARSE VENDORS

{Venue} Bush Bank, Kiama

{Florist} Jasmine Christie

{Photography} Folk + Follow

{Celebrant} Ben Ager

{Illustrations on invites, signage, menus + more} spunky artist groom Phillip Marsden

{Bride Wears} Grace Loves Lace ‘Emanuela’ Gown

{Styling} Katie Mayor, Jasmine Christie and Grace & Stone Collections

{Cake} Flour and Petal Cake Designs

{Bride Wears – Night} Stevie May ‘Ruby May’ dress

{Groom Party Wears} Politix

{Bridal Party Hair} Jess from Seabreeze Hair, Kiama

{Makeup} Lei Tai from Future Mrs

{Rings} Grew & Co, Sydney

{Earrings} Zoe & Morgan ‘Boom’ earrings, New Zealand

{Bridesmaid Dresses} Free People, Alice McCall, Talulah and Missguided

{Bridesmaid Kimonos} Free People

{Bride Shoes} Forever Soles ‘Sense of Wonder’ Wedge

{DJ} MK-1 from Bondi Beach Radio and L Fresh The Lion

But on to that happily ever after…

Australia best weddings folk + follow kiama Kate and Phil

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Kate and Phil

Hey there! I’m guessing if you found your way here, you’re into taking a wild spin of the world yourself. I think you’ll love getting our Wild Spin E-news so please do sign up. I’m also over on Bloglovin’ and Pinterest, so please do stay in touch!

Tigerlillys, Nusa Lembongan, Bali

Floating in a pool-side, suspended swing chair, surrounded by lush greenery and thatched-roof cabanas – a menu of tasty food at the ready – is a pretty good recipe for a relaxed holiday stay. When checking in to Tigerlillys, on the southeastern Balinese island of Nusa Lembongan, you are handed a watermelon juice, and then welcomed in to this little island oasis. It’s tempting to pull up a cabana chair, order a fresh coconut, and not leave the premises.

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan room 3

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan Katie Mayor readTigerlilys Nusa Lembongan best islands bali indonesia food

In addition to being a pretty hip lodging, Tigerlillys is also a restaurant and bar, and probs one of the best ones around. Craving some tasty Indonesian and Asian cuisine? You’re in luck, friend. We especially dug the Vegetarian San Choy Bau with tempe (chicken one also available), the yummy juices like the dairy free ‘Green Machine’, with spinach, avocado, cucumber, papaya and banana topped with chia seeds, and I find it a real challenge to order beyond a banana pancake for brekky when I’m in Bali – they are sooo good, with the slices cooked into the pancake, rather than on top. GIMME!

Tigerlillys definitely provides the kind of menu you could happily peruse every few hours while kicking back by the pool all day. Cup of tea? Sure. Cheeky pizza? (Unfortunately for your healthy eating plan) too easy. Time for a Bintang or a watermelon mint martini? Why do you temp us so?

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan settling in pool_Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan restaurant space chair

The rustic, boho decor (think vintage furniture and bright, mirrored throw pillows) gives the restaurant a relaxed vibe as well. When you feel like changing it up, a stroll down to the fab The Deck is also worth your while. You know, if you want to swap your pool view for an ocean one.

Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan restaurant area

The room had a comfy, wooden frame bed with a batik bedspread and is surrounded by a mosquito net. A daybed sits by the window, a cosy little reading nook to while away a lazy afternoon, peering out at lush vegetation of palm and frangipani trees. We had an upstairs room with an external staircase, the semi-outdoor bathroom below.

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Tigerlilys Nusa Lembongan best islands bali indonesia palm trees

Our one complaint was that when booking a Nusa Penida tour through the reception, the operator who came to explain it to us, failed to mention that the snorkeling section of the tour he sold us cost extra. It wasn’t until we returned from the tour that they hit us up for a higher price that we had agreed upon, and the reception staff didn’t back us up when we complained, so we begrudgingly still had to pay it. It put a bit of a dampner on what was an overall good stay.

Also check out the post Bali Island Paradise: Nusa Lembongan for what to get up to on the island.

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Pinterest Tigerlilys

Hey there! I’m guessing if you found your way here, you’re into taking a wild spin of the world yourself. I think you’ll love getting our Wild Spin E-news so please do sign up. I’m also over on Bloglovin’ and Pinterest, so please do stay in touch!

 

Surf Jack Hotel, Waikiki best hotels honolulu hawaii

Wild Spin of the Web {3}

A sneak peek into one of the fab hotels I’ve booked into for my upcoming honeymoon, some natural spas to get you planning your next relaxation break, a charming author’s guest cabin, and a retreat in Tasmania to truly get away from it all (but in rustic style), welcome to the next installment of Wild Spin of the Web.

STAY: Surf Jack, Waikiki – I’m endlessly on the lookout for unique, boutique hotels to add some style and comfort to my trips, and this was especially the case when planning my upcoming honeymoon to Hawaii. Sure, Hawaii seems like a cliched choice, but I’ve been itching to get there to experience the natural beauty of Kaua’i, otherwise known as the Garden Isle. But flying in and out of Oahu means a few days in Honolulu, so I was on the lookout for somewhere exciting to stay that doesn’t break the budget (the wedding has already done that, people!). Enter Surf Jack, complete with a pool that is blazoned with Wish You Were Here (also a fave Pink Floyd song!), stylish rooms, cute cafe and restaurant downstairs…you get the picture. I can’t wait!

Surf Jack Hotel, Waikiki best hotels honolulu hawaii

Photo credit: Surf Jack, Waikiki

VISIT: Natural Hot Springs  – I think all this wedding planning is making me feel the need for a good rest, and what better way to wind down than having a soak in some mineral-rich natural hot springs? This article in Australian Traveller 11 natural hot springs of uncommon beauty show some of the most divine examples across Australia, and for some international and instagram-worthy examples, check out 8 hot springs that are equal parts dreamy and rejuvenating in Well + Good.

Peninsula Hot Springs, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria Source: Australian Traveller Magazine

Peninsula Hot Springs, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Source: Australian Traveller Magazine

STAY: Author’s Cosy Guesthouse – I dream of having a rustic, chic cabin in which to write, and U.S. author Edward Karlow has made his guest cabin in Minneapolis, Minnesota just that. Check it out on Design Sponge, and the great news is, you can also book it on Airbnb!

Author cabin Minnesota Airbnb

Photo credit: Design Sponge

GUIDE: Daylesford, Victoria – Anyone who has been following the blog (you can sign up to the e-newsletter here) will know that I recently had a spectacular winter weekend away in Daylesford, Victoria. And I felt like I visited most of the key spots, but after stumbling on this article in The Design Files which has the tips of author and landscape designer Paul Bangay of what to explore in this beautiful region – spa country actually, there’s a theme here this week – and it’s given me loads of inspo for my next visit there.

Daylesford, Victoria

Lake House, Daylesford. Photo credit: Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

STAY: Captain’s Rest, Tasmania – I’ve clearly been exploring a lot of design websites lately, but they can be a great source of travel inspiration as well! And my heart went aflutter when I stumbled on this idyllic, off-the-beaten-track accommodation option on Design to Inspire, which made me feel calm just by looking at this rustic little abode by the water. In the worlds of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock “I want to go to there”. Bookings can be made here, but me first please!

CaptainsRest

Photo credit: Captain’s Rest

I hope this post has given you some ideas about where to next seek some chill time. Where is your favourite place to chill out?

 

 

 

 

Bali Island Paradise: Nusa Lembongan

Oh, to while away more long mornings over coffee and books at The Deck on Nusa Lembongan, watching over the pale, shallow water to the mist-covered hint of a volcano beyond.

An island in the south eastern waters of Bali, Nusa Lembongan is developing quickly, but is far from developed. You can find both comforts and potholes and much in between on this small isle of chilled out paradise.

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STAY: We checked in to Tigerlily’s, one of the more beautiful bungalow-style hotels on the island, that wraps around an inviting pool and has an on-site restaurant serving delicious Indonesian specialties, with western faves available too. More on that in a post coming soon.

Breakfast Time: The Deck

After checking in and getting ourselves acquainted with the pool-side swing seats (back for you later *wink), we head straight for one of the island drawcards, The Deck. First glance at this cafe and bar, perched overlooking Jungutbatu beach, revealed one of the signifying features of Lembongan – the old mixed with the new. The Deck is a modern, stark white verandah that has rustic thatched roofing on top, which was covered by a make-shift tarp, which I’m assuming is because of the rain. And on our first visit there, it did just that, so we tucked ourselves away from the elements a little and ordered my first of a few dragon fruit bowls I would indulge in here.

Dragon fruit is a bright pink coloured fruit that originated in Mexico, but is grown quite widely in Southeast Asia. When mashed up and a little icey, it makes a delicious breakfast, especially when combined with other fresh fruits (like watermelons or coconut flesh) and muesli. If you’ve seen this other Bali food post, you’ll see that I’m quite the fan.

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We spent a few nights on Nusa Lembongan, so we had plenty of opportunities to return to our fave island chill spot of The Deck and kick back. It was out last day here where we got epic sunshine that made the whole coast glisten. We read, we drank coffee, and when we couldn’t get more coffee without tweaking our relaxed vibe, we ordered tea, which came on a silver Moroccan tea tray. Nobody rushed us on or gave us looks for lingering. I assume it’s the done thing in Lembongan, and who are we to mess with tradition.

Nusa Lembongan the deck side view best places to eat bali island indonesia

Nusa Lembongan The Deck best places to eat visit bali island

Wander the island on foot

Lembongan keeps the kind of slow pace that travellers to Bali come here for, so a leisurely walk along the streets is something that I’m sure you’ll come to. We weren’t in Indonesia at peak travel season either, so on our strolls we walked past many quiet warungs, or stalls selling typical souvenirs and t-shirts, thongs (or flip flops or jandles or whatever your country calls them – ha!) and snacks, and locals zipping about on scooters or preparing for ‘ceremony’. One of our days here there was a ceremony, which meant locals donned sarongs and local attire in patterns like batik and ikat, common in the region, and visited the local temples. There was even rice cakes dyed pink, though I’m not sure why exactly. Might have been for a wedding.

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Our second morning on the island, I decided we should wake early to watch the day break on the northern side of the island, which was meant to have the prettiest views that take in Mount Agung over in Bali. The morning was a little sprinkly and overcast, so the sunrise was more a gradual lightening of the sky, but it was nice to wander on a deserted beach, except perhaps for the odd curious dog or caged rooster making an effort to wake the owners of the warung to which they belonged.

Speaking of rain, it pays to remember that in rainy season, on the coast, you’re likely to get dumped on at some point, which was the case for us on one such evening out for a wander. But, as we say here in Aus, it pissed down with rain and we got absolutely drenched and suddenly the 500 meters we’d wandered from Tigerlily’s was like a million thong-slipping, mud puddle slopping, shelter chasing kilometers. It’s like I must have over-complained about a mild sunburn and the Indonesian Gods went aaah, we’ve got a solution for that, it’s called a sky-opening water dump, here you go! So, if your accommodation has umbrellas, maybe take one out with you – or not, getting drenched in the tropics can be kinda fun. We also swam in the hotel pool in the rain though, so maybe don’t trust me.

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Nusa Lembongan beach morning best islands visit bali indonesiaNusa Lembongan the deck paradise boats best islands bali

Scoot Around

You can pick up a scooter cheaply (around $7AUD per day) from around the Jungutbatu area where the tourist boats come in from Senur. Just a block behind the beach you’ll see loads of them. The roads around this area are mainly sealed, but for the love of God keep your eyes peeled for potholes and this is not necessarily the case in other parts of the island. We rode all the way down to the south west of the Island to Sandy Bay Beach Club to get a massage one afternoon and some of the roads were almost indistinguishable as such, but you know your suspension works when you’re bobbing up and down like a goddamn pogo stick (which is fun). There are some beautiful views on the high roads, so take it slow and be prepared to stop to take in the vistas.

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Nusa Lembongan view Bali Katie Mayor  best islands visit bali indonesiaNusa Lembongan motor bike scooter best islands visit bali indonesia

Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach

We enjoyed our first visit to sunset beach on the western side of the island so much that we returned on our final night, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, so OK, fine! Dining by the ocean with a lovely sunset it is! The Sandy Bay Beach Club is another example of one of the modern, chic venues on Nusa Lembongan, of which I’m sure more are slated.

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Nusa Lembongan Sandy Bay Beach Club Sunset Beach Happy Hour

 

In addition to being a great place to share a meal (with a large menu from seafood to salads and burgers to nasi goreng), it also has an attached spa, a great little store selling beach threads and shabby chic homewares, and – most importantly – they have a pick up service from most of the hotels across the island! Our first visit was an adventure on the scooter (and maaan are the roads dirty dive holes around here) and our return for dinner and a few champers saw us hitting up the local driver service. We also booked in to the spa and enjoyed an afternoon pamper with a Balinese couples massage (you’ll have lots of these in Bali as they are so darn cheap – or here in Aus they are so darn expensive more like it!), which set us up right for easing into the evening, the sunset, the wine.

Have a water-side drink

On our last evening, after a day trip to Nusa Penida (post coming soon), we settled in at a bar overlooking the beach at Jungatbatu (just a few doors down from The Deck) and ordered a cocktail as the sun went down, watching the boats bob on the surface and some tourists having their luggage hoisted onto the boat back to Senur, knowing that would soon be us. I felt suitable chilled, relaxed, wound down. Perhaps it was the cocktail, perhaps it was spent adrenaline from the kamikaze scooter weilding of the day, but either way, as the water lapped over the shores of Nusa Lembongan, I was already mentally planning my return to this rustic, island hideaway.

Another cocktail please, waiter!

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Getting there: We got the fast boat with Scoot Fast Cruises which takes around 30-40 minutes from Senur to Nusa Lembongan. We’d arranged this through Tigerlily’s, who did a transfer from our hotel in Canggu, including organising the boat. Check out the Scoot website above for a timetable and fares if you plan to do it direct.

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Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossoms blooming, sumo’s wrestling, origami hanging, Cosplay peeps discoing – wait, where are we?!

A couple of weeks ago, for a couple of weeks, the Auburn Botanic Gardens in Sydney’s western suburbs became the site of much hanami, which translates as the Japanese art of “flower viewing”. Crowds of people (and some hungry bees!) descended on the Japanese garden, which wraps around a lovely geese-filled lake, and is a mere corner of the nine hectares of the whole Auburn sanctuary.

I’m not sure the resident peacocks knew what hit them, but it was definitely camera flashes. Instagram?! What the ef is Instagram?! They weren’t sure, but plumed their impressive emperor attire just in case. Or they wanted a fight. Who knows. Anywho…

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Crowds aside, for the Japanophile (which is probs all of us, yeah?!), it was worth all the potential danger you faced being hit by phone-wielding arms. Bursts of the delicate pink blooms lined the walking paths, and periodically you would find yourself alongside a lady dressed in their finest yukata (summer kimono), clacking in her geta (clogs), which I hadn’t seen since Japan and made me smile and regret not purchasing one in Tokyo.

Speaking of attire – there were also people dressed in elaborate Cosplay outfits, happy to simulate their chosen character for the photos of strangers (like me, for example). Further down the botanical boulevard there was also a Cosplay silent disco, where a group of dressed-up youths bounced and swayed with unabashed delight, letting out communal laughs, lost on anyone without a headset.

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Cherry blossoms are not the only flora to be found in bloom at this time of year – my favourite winter and early spring flower is the magnolia. I always think they are the poetry of the flower world. Something about their blush pink poise when everything around them has died or gone to sleep makes my heart swell a little bit, so I was very pleased to see them among the blossoms of Auburn.

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Food trucks selling festival favourites like bao buns, fairy floss (?) and yakitori sticks were abundant, but we opted for yakisoba and sushi, because the lines weren’t insane and we wanted to get it out of the way before the sumo wrestling started, which took place three times per day over the weekend. We did make sure, however, that we sampled some matcha (green tea) mochi – a sweet dessert made with red bean filling, which was a little ball of squishy deliciousness.

 

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In the late afternoon, visitors began to weave out under the torii gates toward the exit. This was probably the pretties time to be in the garden, for looking up through the cherry blossoms at the waning, sparkling sun was a special sight. We found a spot outside of the Japanese garden (and not far from a kangaroo enclosure, which made me intrigued about what lie in other parts of the vicinity), to laze by a pond and take some idle time, before heading on our way. Eventually we left via an origami crane display, a native bird aviary, and a cart that sold lemonade in light bulbs.

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The Cherry Blossom Festival will return to Auburn Botanic Gardens next August.

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Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival

Hey there! I’m guessing if you found your way here, you’re into taking a wild spin of the world yourself. I think you’ll love getting our Wild Spin E-news so please do sign up. I’m also over on Bloglovin’ and Pinterest, so please do stay in touch!