Australia · 170 Days · 138 Moments · February 2015

Jonathan Taylor

Nick and JT's RTW Adventure

7 August 2015

One more of the hotel. It has a full size pool out front that is floating in the lake. Totally unnerving to feel the sway in the pool when the chop from boats roll in.

6 August 2015

Just got to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on gorgeous Lake Como, Italy. The hotel is opposite Bellagio, and is a really stunning historic hotel. Already in love with this place and planning a trip back so we can explore the Alps.

1 July 2015

Annnnnd we're back on the road! Off to Grasse, France to visit our lovely friends Rob and Cherry.

2 June 2015

Almost done with this leg of the trip. We took our most excellent niece and nephew, Cora and Lincoln, to Disney and Universal in Orlando for a little vacation. Nick's mom was there and summed it up well. "Thanks for arranging this lovely trip so we never have to come back again." The kids had fun but the heat was brutal and there wasn't enough to keep the littles entertained for that many days and that many miles of walking. The food was as you'd expect in a theme park, meh. But seeing Lincoln lose himself in eating his first churro and the fun they had with the minions made the whole thing more than worth it.

30 May 2015

After Cuba, we decided to decompress for the weekend in Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed at the W, which is one of the nicer ones we've been to in the U.S. However, we don't ever need to stay in Ft. Lauderdale again. Not our speed :) Unfortunately we both picked up something in the food in Cuba, so our weekend to decompress really just meant eating crackers and drinking Pedialite in the hotel room. At least it was a nice room to be sick in!

27 May 2015

On our last day, we started off by meeting Mariela Castro, who is Raul's daughter, and had a wonderful Q&A with her on her work for women's rights, HIV prevention, and LGBT rights. We then went to visit Hemmingway's house and grounds, which were spectacular, and really made you forget you were even in Havana. Back to the U.S. tomorrow!

26 May 2015

Our day ended with a drive down the Malecon in a bunch of old convertibles. Of course, JT laid claim on the purple one immediately.
An artist here has decided to go full Goudy and transform his neighborhood into a huge piece of art using mosaic. It is visually arresting but quite cool to walk through. You never know what you'll see around each corner.
One thing we had to do was visit the Hotel Riviera, as we bought a piece of art that depicts the hotel. It has an interesting story. It was one of the last resorts built before the revolution. It was built by the mob, and then nationalized by the government, which I'm sure someone was not too happy about. It is the hotel that time forgot. It is still functional, but everything is basically as it was when it opened in the 50's, so it truly is like stepping back a few decades.

25 May 2015

Today involved more art, more openings, more galleries... But there were some highlights. We had an impromptu salsa in the streets with the kids from La Colmenita, got to explore the abandoned ruins of an old ballet school, and got to check out a bunch of student work at the ISA here in Havana.

24 May 2015

We missed out on the morning activities as we needed to sleep in a bit. The group got to see and buy some amazing photography, but we joined them for lunch at the Hotel Nacional, and then went back to Zona Franca to see a few things we missed. Afterwards we had a big group dinner where we got to see our new friends Michael and Craig get engaged via a live performance (with dancers)! It was a lovely evening.

23 May 2015

Today we were treated to a special performance by La Colmenita, a children's group, who performed the story of Cinderella via songs by The Beatles. The kids were a lot of fun and did a great show. After that we had a great lunch, toured more galleries, and then rested before our dinner at the most excellent La Guarida and rooftop cocktails to wrap up the night.

22 May 2015

This morning we toured a cigar factory, and then walked around Havana's city center to a variety of galleries and artists homes to check out their work. Saw a lot of incredible architecture and some great emerging art!

21 May 2015

Our first day in Cuba brought us to the Zona Franca, which is an old fort that they have turned into a huge art exhibition for the biennial. It was sweltering and we had no CUC's to buy a cold beer or a water so we tried to do the express tour, but still saw some amazing art

20 May 2015

First stop on our way out was Miami, where we had a quick overnight at The Standard with our Cool Hunting group that would be accompanying us to Cuba. We had welcome drinks and some BBQ by this gorgeous sunset.

15 May 2015

We missed these two. Was so great to get a week home with them but they were super sad when we took off again.

1 May 2015

Much delayed update for our return to North America, which was a trip to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate our friend Patty's 40th. We had a great time, but had many drinks, and this time it was Nick's turn to get hurt, where he fought the ocean and lost. One arm sling later, we were making our way back to SF for a short break.

28 April 2015

Of course we stopped along the way for a variety of snacks to fortify us for all the riding (or perhaps just to be cows). First at a patisserie for an apple tart and some other tasty bites, then to a cafe for radishes, sardines, terrine, escargots and a salad, and of course, wine. Our last stop was at another bakery where we picked up a mimolette and lardon roll (omg) and another apple tart. Couldn't eat those last two without spoiling dinner, which should be noted, was incredible. We ate at Verjus at the recommendation of some friends and it was one of the best meals we've ever had. It also had a number of unusual wines that we really enjoyed. Highly recommended for those of you visiting Paris!
Bienvenue a Paris! We took the advice of some friends and rented some bikes (which is extraordinarily easy - bike stations every 300m) and did the one day express tour, as we are only here for 36 hours. We rode from our hotel to the Champs Élysées, Eiffel Tower, Champs de Mars, Musee d'Orsay, Saint Sulpice church, Pont Neuf, Notre Dame, Le Centre Pompidou, The Louvre, and Les Jardins des Tuileries. Whew.

26 April 2015

Ok. On the plane. Holy shit. First of all, the A380 is ginormous. First time on one for both of us. Quite the introduction. The Suites were about half full so we had plenty of space and a very attentive staff. And a double bed in the sky. Amazing! We were given more courses than we could count and they were all delicious. Poached lobster, caviar, lobster dumplings, and of course lots of delicious wines and champagnes. The staff was incredible - very friendly and extraordinarily attentive. The lead purser came by to discuss our trip to France and ask if we needed advice on wine regions to visit or restaurants recommendations. The flight attendants pointed out how the tea bags they use are hand sewn and where the ingredients come from. It was rather remarkable. Great experience and great first time on Singapore.
To wrap up JT's birthday, we got an awesome treat to fly to Paris in style on Singapore Airlines A380 in the Suites. After we landed in Singapore, we were handed the golden tickets and whisked off to the lounge, where we were pulled through room after room, going to more and more exclusive areas, before finally stopping at The Private Room, where the staff already knew our names as we walked up. We were given a menu and both opted to have a light snack - a small burger with fois gras and some Dom to wash it down with. Don't want to fill up too much!

24 April 2015

After dinner tonight, we stopped by Potato Head so Nick could show the bartenders what they could do with all those unused orange peels. Hilarity ensued.

23 April 2015

Our home for the next few days - the W Bali. They have villas with private pools that are about the same cost as a much smaller oceanfront room. Clearly was the right decision. This place is awesome, and the staff is amazingly friendly and helpful. Great way to wrap up our time in Bali!

21 April 2015

Last night we ate at Mozaic, which was one of the better meals we've had on the trip. It was a tasty 8 course menu, and at the start of your meal, they bring by a plate of all the ingredients they will be featuring in each of your dishes. Was fun to try and identify stuff we had never seen. Two new favorites: Ginger flower, which is a more delicate ginger flavor, and fermented kluwak nuts, which are the pit from another plant that gets buried, fermented and turns into a spreadable paste, not unlike black garlic, but it tastes like black olive.
The clutz strikes again! In a homage to the Great Tumbles of Ryan Hennessey(tm), JT decided to fall in a hole in the street in Ubud. In his defense, the streets can be treacherous. The sewers run under the sidewalks, and in areas the panels have caved in, resulting in a 2-3 foot drop into the darkness if you aren't careful. However, not in his defense, he was warned by Nick to be extra careful of the many hazards on the streets and sidewalk. Oops. Looks like some forced R&R is in our future!
The terraced rice fields here litter the countryside and really are quite picturesque.
On the way back from the Elephant Safari, we took a few minutes to stop at a temple - Sebatu. Although we didn't have time to do a traditional purification ritual in the waters of the temple, we did get to see bits of one going on. Was a nice stop.
Against medical advice, JT was resolved not to be totally immobile and we went on an elephant safari and white water rafting today. The elephant safari was pretty mellow and was the first time either of us had ever ridden an elephant. They are pretty awesome animals - very gentle and very smart. The rafting was also fairly mellow but involved 700 steps up and down to the river. Probably not smart but it was beautiful and fun, and we got to share a boat with a nice couple on their honeymoon. Only class II rapids, so fairly sedate but a good intro to rafting as neither of us had ever done it.

20 April 2015

Tonight we opted to do a short restaurant and bar crawl around Ubud so we could get a feel for the city. One of our stops, Hujan Locale, had an impressive menu full of fresh, local produce, and a most unusual (but extremely delicious) carrot, vodka, and lemon concoction. Was unexpectedly outstanding!
We walked around the Monkey Forest in Ubud this evening, which is full of about 600 Macaque monkeys. They have all lost their fear of humans so, as long as you follow a few rules, you can get pretty close and observe them playing and grooming.
We arrived at the Amandari in Ubud, Bali for a few days. The whole resort is really gorgeous and pretty empty right now. We nearly have the place to ourselves!

19 April 2015

Posting a few sunset photos from the days it didn't rain in the evening.
Neither one of us really loves fruit, save the occasional berry here or there. However, we do have a particular weakness for weird tropical fruit that we don't get very often, and the resort gives us a big plate of it every day that we decimate. Passion fruit, rambutan, mangosteen, and some stuff we've never seen before. It's tasty!

17 April 2015

We also stopped by Wat Pho, which has the Reclining Buddha. At his feet are the most beautiful and intricate mother of pearl works displaying the auspicious symbols of Buddha. Wat Pho is also home to one of the first Thai Massage schools. Outside, there are 60 plaques inscribed, 30 each for the front and back of human body. Therapeutic points and energy pathways known as sen were engraved and the explanations were carved on the walls next to the plaques for students to come and study at the temple.
Today we did a half day of touring in Bangkok and started off (early, as it was 100 degrees) at Wat Traimit, which holds the Golden Buddha, also known as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon. It is the world's largest solid gold statue, coming in at 5.5 tons. There is a picture from the back here that shows the seams, and there is a keyhole in the bottom that unlocks it into pieces. Pretty remarkable for 13th-14th century construction. Also at some point in the 18th century, it was covered in stucco, presumably to to prevent theft, and over the years the history of the statue was forgotten until the stucco chipped and revealed a solid gold center!

16 April 2015

We went to dinner tonight with some friends from NYC at a great Thai restaurant with a view. Sadly it was dark already, but we then ventured out to the gay part of Phuket for a few drinks and to catch one of the shows. Green lipstick and a Beyoncé impersonator. Enough said.

15 April 2015

Today was the first day it didn't cloud over and rain in the evening here in Phuket so we got treated to a nice sunset and a clear sky full of stars. Great last day here. On to Bangkok!

14 April 2015

One of the biggest sailboats in the world is here in Phuket. It is called the Eos and is owned by Barry Diller. There is some drama around whether it is THE largest private sailboat, depending on how it is measured. For all the salacious details, see its Wikipedia page. Also, the boat has a Wikipedia page. I guess that's how you know you've made it?
Today we took a boat cruise out to the Phi Phi Islands. All across the landscape are these enormous limestone monoliths, peppered with trees, but with sheer cliffs. They are quite beautiful. We stopped at a few beaches, including one with some cheeky monkeys that terrorized some Chinese tourists and also stole something from a girl. Funny to watch. We also got to stop on the back side of the island, which has tiny beach cottages you can rent for $17 a day. Not a bad life if you want to live on the cheap. Lastly we finished up in this beautiful cove with a deep, secluded lagoon and went for a swim. Pretty awesome day.
We didn't use the pool here at the Naka since it was right on a calm bay, but it sure is pretty!

13 April 2015

Some photos from Songkran last week, which is the Thai New Year. It is a free-for-all water fight in the streets, and the belief is the water washes away all of your bad luck from last year. The water came from everywhere. Buckets, squirt guns, passing cars, hoses. It was one of the most fun things we've ever done while traveling. Nick also clearly won the wet t-shirt contest.
Today we got treated to a small storm. Living in San Francisco, we don't get proper thunderstorms, and this one was a doozy! The sky got black and the wind and clouds rolled in super fast. Was awesome.

12 April 2015

Not mad at this at all. Finally some sunshine!

11 April 2015

We have arrived at The Naka Island in Phuket, Thailand. Ready for some relaxation on the beach and some delicious food.

10 April 2015

Our last night in Hong Kong. We got to take a ferry across the harbor and watch the synchronized light show that happens at 8pm. Pretty cool city. We love it here and we will be back!
Popped up to the rooftop of our hotel to lounge in the hot tub for a bit as the sun went down. The pool and hot tub are on the 76th floor, which makes for some pretty awesome views!
Tired (and hungover) from last night, we popped into the Four Seasons for a sensible lobster and chorizo hot dog, some caviar, and some champagne. Time for a nap!
Not sunny, but at least it is clear. We took a cab up to Victoria Peak today while nursing our hangovers from a fun night with old friends from SF, and some new ones!
So many big buildings here. Kind of amazing that it is all sitting on an island, built into a hill. Here are some views from our friend Matt's place, both during the day and night.

9 April 2015

The weather was too crappy to take any photos from the top, but tonight we had dinner at a Cantonese restaurant in the Ritz Carlton, which was on the 103rd floor. This building is massive! After dinner we went up to Ozone, which is the worlds' highest bar, met some new friends, and had a number of cocktails while the rain came down outside.

5 April 2015

The weather has not been cooperating, as we really wanted to go up into one of Shanghai's many skyscrapers and get some photos and take in the epic view. Managed to get this from The Roosevelt though!
We took a quick tour of the Shanghai urban planning center today. They have a scale model of the 100 sq km inner ring of the city (as compared to the total area of the city of over 6,000 sq km). San Francisco needs to get over itself and learn how to build things. This city is pretty epic.
Ok. We did try two new things. Century egg (pictured) and fermented tofu. Based on the smell of stinky tofu it in Beijing, I decided I wasn't going anywhere near it. We got over it and added it to some chicken congee and it was powerful, but not unlike a (very) pungent blue cheese.

3 April 2015

A few other random shots from around Shanghai - saw a few more temples, gardens, and then explored The Bund
Today we took a stroll through the park around the Temple of Heaven. One of the more interesting things we saw was what looked to be a massive collection of retirees hanging out. On further inspection, it turns out they are running a yente service en mass! They mill about, and the parents all have a little one sheet about their kids (who are at work) with details on their age, height, weight, job, and education. Photo optional (and uncommon - I guess they like a little surprise).

2 April 2015

We visited the Wangfujing food market today, and took a stroll down one of the lively alleyways with interesting things on offer. Lots of things on sticks, rolled in spices and then grilled over charcoals. Starfish, seahorse, snakes, locust, silkworm pupa, and both baby AND adult scorpions. I guess people got bored with the little ones and wanted some more adventure. We went with the resolve that we'd try them but just couldn't do it. I would've done grasshopper or crickets, but I guess those were a bit too sedate for the adventurous palates and weren't anywhere to be found.
Tonight we ate at Bottega, a new Italian restaurant, where we learned two things. One, the use of maps is notoriously difficult here. We had what we thought was a location, but it still was quite a challenge to find. The second thing we learned was that someone outside of Italy likes burrata as much as we do. Look at the mound they put on our pizza!
Today we took another long tour, with our first stop being The Great Wall. It was cold and rainy, so we didn't have our hopes up. But we got a great surprise - it was snowing! There was also beautiful fog swirling around the various structures, as well as a ton of cherry trees in bloom. Turned out to be a beautiful (but very cold) trip! After that we continued on to the Tombs of the Ming Dynasty Emperors and a stroll down the Sacred Way, with its large, carved stone statues lining a picturesque, tree lined path.

1 April 2015

Our friend Seth took us out tonight for some cocktails at a really great bar with a funny name called Janes and Hooch. We then went for some proper Peking Duck at Duck de Chine. Awesome food and we are stuffed!
The weather was meh again today so not many photos. We did get to see the Forbidden City and its impossibly vast collection of buildings (9,999 rooms), Tiananmen Square, Mao's Memorial, and a visit through one of the many Hutongs in the city.

31 March 2015

Our hotel is The Opposite House, which is in the Sanlitun district, near a bunch of upscale shops and all of the consulates. A bunch of friends recommended this hotel - and it is pretty great.
Arrived in Beijing to an enormous airport. Prelude of things to come. This airport, which was built for the 2008 Olympics, is already insufficient to meet projected needs for this region in the next few years, and a new one is being built to open in 2019. Cray-cray.
At Osaka airport getting ready for our next leg. Dewa mata, Japan, and nǐ hǎo, China!

30 March 2015

Some shots from our flower tour at the end of the day. Finally got to see some cherry and plum trees in full bloom, as well as weeping cherry, and some beautiful magnolia while walking along the grounds of the Imperial Palace.
Late post, but getting around to filling in some details when we can escape the great internet demons in China. These photos were from a day we spent walking around Ohara, which is a quiet farming town about an hour outside of Kyoto. Our guide, Emi, took us through a number of beautiful temples and gardens, and then even found us an amazing lunch spot. See photo of the perfectly crafted bento box. It was delicious!

29 March 2015

Just checked my phone and we've walked nearly 30 miles since arriving in Japan 4 days ago. I think we need to take a bit of a break. There is just *so* much to see here.
Department store food courts in Japan are unlike anything we've ever seen before. They are enormous caverns of plenty. If I ever found a genie and asked for a never ending sea of perfect food, this is what I'd imagine I'd get. There are so many different food counters, it is hard to know where you have been. We got overwhelmed at Eataly in NYC and this was so much worse. Tonight we just meandered around Daimaru and bought a bunch of different things that looked good (we couldn't read any of the signs), got some beer and sake, and made a dinner out of it. Thankfully we like liver, as we got a few surprises!
We did a crazy express tour today and walked about 10 miles! Checked a lot of things off our list. Sadly it was raining for most of the day, so the photos kind of weren't the best. But our tour guide was awesome. Judith has lived here for 45 years (from NJ) and has written 4 books on Kyoto so she was a wealth of knowledge and made the day that much better. We went to: - Nijo Castle - Kinkakuji Temple - Ryoanji Temple / Zen Garden - Ate takoyaki - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Nishiki food market We are exhausted but had a great day here.
It is hard being away from our dogs, but even moreso today, because our little buddy, Feynman, had to go in for surgery. Feels a bit like abandoning your child when they need you most, but he is in good hands with Ryan. Still hard to not be around for. He is doing well and is on the mend!

28 March 2015

After arriving in Kyoto, we dropped our bags off and headed out to explore. First impression - this city is massive. Not super populated like Tokyo, but incredibly spread out. So getting around can be a bit of a chore. However, the ride through the city is beautiful. It is easy to see why this is the cultural center of Japan. Everything is very picturesque and quite beautiful. We went to the east side of town to see Ginkakuji Temple (the Silver Pavilion), which is a zen temple from 1482. Right before, we stopped at Omen noodle to get our first taste of some proper udon. From there, we strolled down the old canal path, the Philosophers Walk before heading back for a nap.
This morning we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. First time in a bullet train for both of us and it was pretty unremarkable (which was to be expected). They are incredibly fast, incredibly quiet, and you feel nothing as you barrel through the Japanese countryside. Also got some closer up views of Mt. Fuji on the way.
This post is about eggs. Generally not something worthy of a post, but they were transfixing to look at so I figured we should write something. Also, they are more reflective of the level of quality of the food here, which is saying a lot coming from California. The eggs are sourced from a special farm in a particular prefecture and they are fed rosehip, seaweed, and chili, and the yolks come out as an amazing color of red-orange and taste quite amazing. Even the mangos are unlike any we have ever tasted. They are meticulous about food here and it shows!

27 March 2015

A few random finds from our tour today: iridescent brick, which we've never seen before, some street art, which seems to be pretty rare, and Pepper, an autonomous robot from SoftBank that can remember faces and have conversations with you.
Next up was a trip to the famed Tsukiji fish market, which was winding down but still an impressive sight. Heading back into town, we walked through Shibuya, into Harajuku and stopped by the Meiji Shrine, which was a peaceful stroll through a big wooded garden.
Today we had an epic tour of Tokyo and ended up with some pretty sore feet. We started off with a tour of a department store. Sounds funny, but the Mitsukoshi store in Ginza has an opening ceremony every day, and then we were let in to explore. I don't get a photo (I was really that in awe), but their basement food level is mind blowing. Rows and rows of meticulous, beautifully prepared and presented things for sale. It seemed like anything I could want could be found there. We committed to coming back here and just eating our way through it. We then took a stroll around the neighborhood to see some of the more interesting buildings.

26 March 2015

Too tired to make any substantive decisions, we relied on the concierge to get us a booking at a nearby sushi restaurant. We ate omekase at the counter at Yanone sushi after a short walk around the neighborhood. Had a great first meal, and the chef just kept piling on the fish until JT was too tired to eat any more. Got to try fish neither of us had ever had, and we revisited our good friend Fugu. Could get used to eating this every day!
We arrived in Tokyo today and are staying at the Mandarin Oriental, which is a lovely hotel. Our room has pretty spectacular city views and we can even see snow-covered Mt. Fuji off in the distance! The scale of the buildings here is pretty mind-blowing. Apartment buildings are the size of Vegas hotels! Can't wait to see more.

25 March 2015

Bye, SF. Those 48 hours home went by real quick!

19 March 2015

Did a guided tour of New Orleans' garden district today with a big group of friends. Haven't really ventured beyond the French Quarter in my prior visits here, and Nick has never been here, so it was a really great way to see a new part of the city.

18 March 2015

Checked into our hotel, the Audubon Cottages, in the French quarter. The hotel is like melrose place - we have booked virtually all of the rooms, which are all set around a common courtyard and pool. Looking forward to the next few days!
Back to the US and en route to New Orleans to celebrate our friend Tony's 50th birthday! Got a great sunrise view of SF on takeoff.

12 March 2015

Took a helicopter into an active volcano today, which was a first for us on both fronts. No magma, but it did have boiling lakes of sulfur! It is called White Island, and is NZ's most active volcano, having been built up after 150,000 years of volcanic activity. There even used to be mining on the island, until they realized an active volcano may not be the safest place to have a camp and a refinery. Pretty awesome way to cap off our last day in NZ though! Highly recommended.

11 March 2015

Today, the weather was overcast and rainy, so we decided to hit up the natural hot springs, aptly named Hells Gate, which looks like some weird Martian landscape. Got to do a walk of the property, and then a mud bath.
Today was our trip to Hobbiton, to satisfy our inner nerds. The tour did not disappoint and it was cool to see something we've both seen and read about many times over in real life. They did a really great job preserving it! Definitely recommend coming here if you are a fan.

10 March 2015

This evening we walked into town on Waiheke, and dined at The Oyster Inn, while getting views of a great sunset over the bay. Nick was also a champ and ate a really big local oyster, which is something we both are averse to, even though we really love oysters.
Spent this morning ziplining, which came with an ecotour of the bush. Learned a bunch of interesting facts, one of which is that NZ has no native mammals other than bats, so birds lay their eggs on the ground. Also there are drunk birds. They eat berries that ferment in their crop and they get so drunk, they can't fly. We opted to take the rest of our afternoon at the beach by our hotel.
Palm Beach is quite beautiful. Unfortunately we only got a drive by, but would be worth a day there if we had more time.

9 March 2015

We are staying at The Boatshed in Waiheke, which is really awesome. The photos don't do it justice as it really is something that needs to be experienced. The staff is lovely, the food is spectacular, and the design is really, really tasteful. A great place to unwind!
Arrived at Waiheke Island, which is a short 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland, but is quite different from the mainland. It is pretty secluded and quiet, and just what we needed after a long weekend of Mardi Gras in Sydney.
And our Australian adventure comes to a close. Next up: New Zealand.

8 March 2015

A final goodbye to Bills. We didn't meet our goal of eating at all 3, but we did dine there 3 times. We can enthusiastically recommend the Korean fried chicken, the Ahi tuna bowl, the crab and kimchee fried rice, and the Bloody Mary.

7 March 2015

Views from our hotel room (Westin) in Sydney. Anyone remember what movie that white tower was prominently featured in?

6 March 2015

Today was a beach day. We headed over to Icebergs at Bondi for a light lunch and were surprised to see the water was all whitewash because it was incredibly rough. Still were able to get in the water later in the day, thankfully!

5 March 2015

Today we did the Sydney Bridgeclimb at twilight, which meant we got the BOBW: sunset, moonrise, and the city during the day and the night. There are some choice photos of Nick's hair in here.
Ate lunch at the adorable Chiswick, in Chiswick Park in Woolhara. Great food. They also own North Bondi Fish, which has equally great food and ambiance.

4 March 2015

Today we did a bar and restaurant crawl across Sydney so we could hit some of the places we've been keen on getting to in one fell swoop. We got to: chat thai, Bulletin Place, Rockpool, Bentley, Bodega, and 121BC, before closing things down at a pub in Surry Hills. Bulletin Place was awesome and had a most delicious passion fruit daiquiri. Rockpool had amazing burgers, and 121BC had a fantastic Italian wine list and a most friendly bartender who gave us an orange wine tasting. All in all a great 7 hour culinary tour.

3 March 2015

Tonight we dined at Quay, which is located right on the water in Circular Quay. Either the concierge or the restaurant hosed our reservation we made back in November, but the restaurant was able to accommodate us and probably put us in the best table in the house. Unfortunately the Queen Elizabeth was in port so we got great bridge views, but the harbor view was a big ol' ship. The food was pretty good, but the wine pairing left us wanting, even though the som was pretty outstanding and super friendly. The mug crab congee and the snow egg were our favorites and it is clear why they have both been on the menu for a long time!
Took an afternoon trip out to Camp Cove, which is behind Watsons Bay. The weather here has been pretty awesome all week so we managed to get a bit of sun but got chased in by afternoon clouds. Off to dinner soon!

2 March 2015

Yesterday we had a bit of a lazy day. Our friend Dean picked us up and took us round for a lunch at the Boy Charlton pool, then to do some shopping. After, we picked up Ross to grab a bite at Momofuku. It is in a casino (see the dragon) and is a degustation menu, but we were able to get some snacks at the bar to hold us over. You must go get the pork buns there. Otherworldly. Ready for a cocktail, we consulted the must eat/drink lists we've been building and tried to find The Baxter Inn, but accidentally walked into The Barber Shop, which was next door. A happy coincidence, as I got a cocktail that nearly won the barman some prestigious award: gin, bitters, cognac, fresh beetroot juice, and celery salt. Was really quite delicious. We then moved on to The actual Baxter, which had one of the most extensive whisky menus I've ever seen (see photo). I'm sad my brother wasn't with us as he would've gotten far more enjoyment out of it than I. They had his Glenfarclas 40 on the menu!

1 March 2015

A bit of awesome art at a Mexican restaurant called Chica Bonita in Manly with the best margaritas we have ever had. Coconut Lime margs.

28 February 2015

This afternoon was the first party to kick off Mardi Gras here in Sydney and it is one of my favorites. They set up shop in the botanical gardens opposite the harbor bridge and opera house. So you get to listen to some great music, dance a bit, and enjoy the sunset right over the city.
Took a post-brunch stroll through Hyde Park and stumbled upon the NSW Food & Wine festival! Was a beautiful Sydney afternoon.

27 February 2015

Cape Tribulation is the End of the Road in Queensland. After that it is hundreds more miles of dirt road. Beautiful beaches!
Everything in Australia can (and probably will) kill you.
We had most of a day to kill before heading to Sydney, so we opted to take a drive into the Daintree Rainforest and head north up the coast. The drive is pretty stunning. They describe this area "where the rainforest meets the reef" and it's a rather picturesque juxtaposition of thick, lush rainforest, and white sand beaches with clear, blue water. The rainforest itself is also pretty interesting in that it is the oldest one on earth. It has been sufficiently isolated such that it hasn't been subject to any of the mass extinctions, and therefore has some very ancient plants. They are even nicknamed "the green dinosaurs." Downside was the rainforest pretty much closes up for the summer because no one wants to be there when it's 40C with 95% humidity, so there wasn't much to do while we were there. So we turned around at Cape Tribulation and headed to the Cairns airport for our flight to Sydney!
We said goodbye to Silky Oaks this morning, but not before completely cleaning them out of passion fruit at breakfast. Next up: Daintree Rainforest

26 February 2015

Went diving in the Agincourt Ribbon Reef off of Port Douglas today. This particular reef is on the far eastern side, just near the continental shelf. Conditions were awesome, and other than having a diver in our group who did little else than be late and then spend his time underwater taking selfies, everything went really great. Visibility was good, and we got to see a bunch of coral, fish, giant clams, and even a small reef shark.

25 February 2015

We arrived at Silky Oaks, which has a funny name, but is a pretty unusual place. Situated at the foot of the Daintree National Forest, it is what amounts to a treehouse perched over a river leading into a rainforest. As you can see from some of the photos, the humidity is a bear and everything is super moist. We are headed into the air con for a nap! Maybe fancy a game of jungle tennis later?
Important note: there are also things here that will kill you. Welcome to Cairns!
Our Qantas chariot awaits to take us to Cairns, where we are headed to the Daintree National Forest and Port Douglas. Hamilton Island has been amazing and we will definitely be back when we are in Australia next!
Ladies, aren't you happy to have creepy hangers specifically designed for your hanging needs? Regular hangers just aren't good enough. If only they were pink.
Woke up today like a little kid on Christmas morning, as I read the sunrise from One Tree Hill is spectacular and we've wanted to catch it. I should've just set an alarm but let my excitement wake me up instead. It did not disappoint and we were greeted with a lovely sunrise to kick off our last few hours on Hamilton Island.
More sunrises on Hamo

24 February 2015

We finished the day with a cruise on the qualia private boat, and got to watch sunset while hanging out with a few lovely couples from New Zealand and Atlanta while enjoying a constant supply of champagne. Then, we wrapped up our day with dinner at the yacht club, which is a stunning piece of architecture.
We were due to take a helicopter to Whitehaven Beach (a first for both of us!) but got informed the CASA (Australian FAA) has grounded that model since there is a defect that could cause the rotors to come off mid-flight... So, we ended up in a seaplane, which was an equally awesome experience, and also a first for us. Whitehaven Beach is quite secluded and we only saw a handful of people around. The sand is almost pure silica so it is fluffy, white, and doesn't get hot even in the brutal Australian sun. Was a perfect day! We really are not looking forward to leaving this place.
More beautiful pics of the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island, and Whitehaven Beach

23 February 2015

Closed out the day with a little pool time and then a visit to the gym before having an amazing cold seafood platter and some kangaroo loin for dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Took a half day dive to Luncheon Bay on Hook Island. Visibility was still not great due to the cyclone but the trip was beautiful and it was nice to be diving in 85 degree water instead of 55. The highlight was realizing that the islands here truly look like a big lake somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. You really can't tell you are just off the Pacific Ocean. The trees and shoreline are mesmerizing. Sadly the SD card on our GoPro went wonky so I lost all of our underwater footage. But will have another opportunity in a few days with another dive!

22 February 2015

Welcome... To Jurassic Park
The weather was pretty overcast today but we took our golf cart around the island in search of a mini usb cable. I forgot mine and our GoPros are the only device we own that still use that cable. Managed to get a few decent shots though!
I have a feeling this will be our breakfast for the next few days. Rye bread, fresh tomato, smashed avocado, bacon, and an egg.

21 February 2015

Had a delicious degustation last night at Qualia's restaurant along with a pretty excellent wine pairing. Sadly, jet lag fully kicked in about 1/3 of the way into the meal and we were both falling asleep at the table. Was pretty funny to watch, but we fought through it and collapsed into bed right after walking back to our room.
Just arrived at our hotel, qualia. I am floored and we've only just checked in. It is gorgeous!
3 flights and 26 hours of travel and we have arrived at our first destination, lovely Hamilton Island! It is 30 degrees and stunning.
284 days a year of sunshine. Today is not one of those days, sadly. But we are safe and sound in Brisbane and headed to our connecting flight to Hamilton Island.
First airplane I can recall being on with a window seat in all the bathrooms. Nice view though!
Haven't traveled internationally for awhile. First time I've had to fill out a quarantine card!
Taking a moment to stock up our carry on with duty-free placenta.
Now arriving: Auckland. 11,000 km down. 90,000 ish to go!

20 February 2015

One of my favorite curiosities is just about to happen, and I woke up just in time for it. We are flying over the Kernadec Trench in the Pacific, and in a few moments, February 20th will be a day we never experience. Crossing the international date line now, which feels a bit like a cheap form of time travel.
This is us on the inbound flight to Oz on Air New Zealand. They let you use the footrest as a chair and dine together as a couple, which is really rather cute. Most couples took advantage of it.
ANZ caches TripAdvisor for your in-flight entertainment so you can read up on cool stuff to do wherever you are headed. Awesome for flights that don't have satellite wifi

19 February 2015

Had some NZ Craggy Ranch Sauvignon Blanc on the plane at the suggestion of Nick. Tastes like a mighty tasty glass of boozy passion fruit.
A rare and often unseen glimpse into the exact moment that Nick gets exasperated with technology.
Champagne in hand. Wheels up. Here we go!
Pro tip: Air New Zealand lets you do a free stopover anywhere they fly. We are flying them for the first time on this trip and are using our stopover to explore the NZ north island on our way back to the U.S. from Australia.
Started packing about 2 hours before our flight (!!!). Probably the most stressful lead up to a trip ever. About to arrive at SFO. The journey begins now!
We just moved on Wednesday. Finally unpacked our last box around midnight. Now it's time to repack for our trip!