• travel
  • TRAVEL GUIDE: AUSTRALIA

    SYDNEY

    Where I stayed:

    We found an Airbnb in the business district, which was super convenient for getting around. We walked a lot and took the public transport (get an Opal card) when needed.

    avocado bruschetta with poached eggs at Manly Wine

    Food:

    • The Harrison* (central) – decent happy hour
    • Playfield Cafe* (central) – located in the Rocks, great stop for an epic sandwich if you’re there for the market
    • Grill’d* (Surry Hills) – it’s a healthy fast food chain with amazing zucchini fries, paleo buns, vegetarian/vegan options. highly recommend enjoying with a glass of rosé!
    • Fishbowl* (Bondi) – poké chain. so fresh and their fish are sustainably sourced!
    • Berri Patch* (Bondi) – great smoothies and smoothie bowls!
    • Lil Darlin’* (Darlinghurst) – the best meal I had in Sydney! their salmon is AMAZING. fun drinks, fun vibes! you get $10 off your drink for posting on your IG about them
    • Gelato Messina* (Darlinghurst) – there was a constant line out the door for obvious reasons. it was soooo good! they have vegan options too
    • Verd* (Manly) – think plant based Sweetgreen, they have vegan bulletproof coffee too!
    • Manly Wine* (Manly) – such a cute spot for brunch!
    • Fish Market – highly recommended by multiple people
    • Mug Life – colorful burgers
    • Flower Child Cafe
    • Orchard Street Cafe – shop and cafe with adaptogens, wish I had gone!
    • The Grounds – whimsical vibes
    • Son of a Baker
    • V Lounge
    • Two Sis
    • Henry Lee’s
    • Morning Owl
    • Chimichuri
    • Little Turtle – Thai food
    • Treetop Cafe
    • The Mews Mosman
    • Bondi Health Market (Surry Hills)
    • Al Taglio (Surry Hills) – pizza owned by two young men, highly recommended by a friend
    • Green Dream (Bondi)
    • Icebergs Club (Bondi) – such a great spot for a view and a drink. there’s a dress code!
    • Trio (Bondi) – highly recommended to me, wish I had gone!
    • Paris (Bondi)
    • Preach (Bondi)
    • Bare Naked Bowls – açaí bowl chain
    • Market Street Cafe (Manly) – best coffee
    • Manly Skiff Club (Manly) – food with a great view of the water and boats
    • Four Points (Manly) – local brewery

    Activities & Tips:

    • The Rocks Farmers Market on Fridays and Saturdays*
    • Ferry to Manly* – such a cute little beach town
    • Explore Darlinghurst and Surry Hills* – these were my favorite parts of the city
    • North head looking out Manly* – trails and caves
    • Hike Blue Mountains* – gorgeous park, plan to make it a day trip. pack lots of snacks and water!
    • Bus to Bondi Beach* – super busy and touristy but really fun!
    • Eco hopper ferry – like a free tour of Manly to the Quay
    • The Rocks Walking Tour – free
    • If you’re dying to hold koalas, know that you can’t in the city of Sydney. They have a law against it to protect the animals. Plan around this if that’s important to you!
    • If you’re not a huge city person, I wouldn’t recommend staying in central. It’s really busy! If I were to go back, I would stay in Manly (still lots to do, eat, and see) and stay close to the beaches, then ferry into the city.

    BRISBANE

    Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

    Where I stayed:

    I stayed at an Airbnb south of the city, around Southbank. I loved the area! I just took public transport (get a go card) to get around, north of the city, as well as to and from Lone Pine. I loved walking to West End too! Such a fun area and about 2 miles away from where I stayed. Message me if you want details on where I stayed! I had the best host – super kind and welcoming.

    snickers smoothie bowl at Cardamom Pod

    Food:

    • Miss Bliss Whole Foods* (West End) – so good, went here twice! the bliss bowl without grains and peas, add salmon was my go to order! they also have amazing raw vegan treats, as do many of these places!
    • Paw Paw Cafe* (South) – Asian fusion healthy food. the curry was amazing. vegan/gluten free options available!
    • NoDo Donuts* (Newstead) – awesome brunch spot with the best gluten free donuts. AMAZING. their gluten free and vegan sourdough hot cake was really tasty too
    • Brew Wine Cafe* (central) – speakeasy vibes, vegan/vegetarian options, great spot for a drink
    • The Pantry* (Southbank) – tiny little health food store with fresh produce/deli/juice
    • Whole Health* (West End) – HIGHLY RECOMMEND! I made a stop here a few times to pick up some fun health food items. they have an amazing bulk section with loving earth chocolate bars you can buy for baking too!
    • The Cruelty Free Shop* (West End) – such a cute little vegan/cruelty free shop. mostly food, some clothing, books, etc.
    • Marcia’s* (West End) – sustainably friendly shop with some food in the back. they have really amazing ice cream sandwiches that are vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free!
    • The Green Grocer* (West End) – little health food shop
    • Cardamom Pod* (Gold Coast) – HIGHLY RECOMMEND. plant based. the most beautiful smoothie bowls ever and they taste amazing
    • Vegerama – vegan
    • Pando Cafe
    • Miss Jones
    • Bare Naked Bowls
    • Mylk + Co – great brekky
    • Sacred Taste Organic Cacao Bar (Gold Coast) – organic, plant based, gluten free, refined sugar free desserts
    • The Nude Sisters (Gold Coast)
    • Bskt Cafe (Gold Coast)

    Activities & Tips:

    • West End Markets on the weekends* – search for Davies Park on google maps
    • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary******* – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!! Funny story, I originally had just a 7 hour layover in Brisbane, just enough time to travel to Lone Pine to cuddle the koalas, right? Wrong. We got there and were told that they were no longer doing koala cuddles and photos and to come back in the morning. I decided to cancel my flight to Cairns and stay so I could hold the koalas. Worth it. These animals are really taken care of here and I felt really happy supporting an organization that’s so passionate about animals.
    • Train to Gold Coast* – go south if you want quieter beaches, but I wanted to see the madness since I was making a day trip out of it. I went to Surfer’s Paradise and it was beautiful. Be careful though! I got stung by a jellyfish here!
    • I regret not making time to make it to Byron Bay. Next time, I would definitely rent a car and drive there to see the beaches and amazing healthy foods!

    MELBOURNE

    Hosier Lane

    Where I stayed:

    I stayed in a beautiful apartment I found on Airbnb in the Docklands, where the marina is. 10/10 would recommend! It was so nice getting to walk over to the marina to read my book and watch the sunset. There’s also a free trolley that runs in that area into the city! It’s not a bad walk either! Uber pool is available for really cheap too.

    gluten free pancakes, matcha burger, and latte flight at Matcha Mylkbar

    Food:

    • Cocobei* (Docklands) – amazing cafe next door to my Airbnb. I literally pulled up a photo they had on their IG and said, “I’d like to order this!” it was something off their menu with modifications. super bright and calming atmosphere. they also offer barista and latte art classes!
    • Aunt Maggie’s* (Fitzroy) – like a little Whole Foods. the best part is all of their raw vegan treats and loco love chocolates at the checkout! AMAZING.
    • Matcha Mylkbar* (St Kilda) – highly recommend!!! plant based brunch spot. the most beautiful food and super tasty too!
    • Combi* (Elwood) – got a coffee here but their smoothies looked amazing
    • Leaf* (Elwood) – little health food store. amazing finds!
    • Manchester Press* (central) – amazing open face bagel toast
    • Laneway Greens* (central) – similar to Sweetgreen
    • Ronnie and the Fabulous Juice* (central) – located at the Queen Victoria market. I got the Charlie Brown smoothie without agave and it was delicious!
    • Little Green – vegan
    • Serotonin Dealer
    • Tall Timber
    • Weirdoughs – plant based baked goods
    • Barry – coffee and food
    • Lune Croissanterie – best croissants in the world
    • Green Cup
    • This Is Life
    • Little Sunflower
    • Elwood Bathers (Elwood)
    • The Turtle (Elwood)
    • Who is Bunker Spreckles (Elwood) – cool surf vibes cafe
    • Foxes Den (Elwood) – healthy take out
    • Plain Sailing (Elwood) – highly recommended by a friend
    • Penta Elsternwick
    • Top Paddock
    • Coin Laundry
    • Left Field
    • Mr. Patterson
    • Gin Palace (central) – a must if you enjoy gin
    • Heartbreaker (central) – cool spot for a drink
    • Madame Brussels (central) – rooftop bar
    • Toff in Town (central) – rooftop bar

    Activities & Tips:

    • Queen Victoria Market* – such a fun market with lots to see! great place to get souvenirs
    • Sucker Love Tattoo* – Bobbie is amazing especially if you’re into fine line tattoos!
    • Hosier Lane* – famous spot for legal graffiti
    • Walk Fitzroy* – lots of quirky shops and restaurants
    • Explore Elwood* – tons of cute little shops and cafes
    • Free trolley in and around the city
    • City Gallery – free art museum
    • NGV Australia – free art museum, abstract art
    • Robert Gordon Ceramics – local to Melbourne and he has an outlet shop an hour away from the city
    • Botanical Gardens
    • Flinders Lane – lots of shops
    • Brunswick Street – shops
    • Walk around Crown Casino
    • Crown Fire Show
    • Drive the Great Ocean Road – if I could go back, I’d make time for this!

    * = places I’ve been. no * & no note = instagrammable spot I found via word of mouth or on @bestfood IG accounts

    Quick tips for solo travel:

    • bring a good book, or two! I finally found and made time to read and it felt amazing
    • download offline mode maps. T-Mobile is my service provider and they offer unlimited international roaming but it’s SLOW
    • bring a little cash. most places accept card but some market vendors only take cash
    • don’t be afraid to ask locals for help! your Airbnb hosts are great resources too. locals love sharing info about their favorite spots and little tips with getting around the city
    • be comfortable with making friends everywhere you go. solo travel can get lonely! I made friends with my servers, random people out and about at pubs, shops, and restaurants, the cabin crews, etc. your confidence will build too!
    • make a list of your priorities and make them happen! make note of their location, how long it would get there from where you’re staying, and when they close. don’t leave without any regrets!
    • bring some American goodies for cabin crew, Airbnb hosts, random people you meet! I packed a ton of chocolate, protein bars, thank you cards, and Seattle pins from home to share!
    • be cautious, mindful, and smart! be aware of your surroundings and say “no” when your gut tells you to in any situation
    • I used tinder as a way to meet locals and have someone to grab coffee with. didn’t have the best experience but I don’t regret doing it either
    • made friends by having a power bank on me. just an idea!

    I know this is heaps of information but it was seriously one of the best places I have ever visited. The people are so kind, warm, and welcoming! I never really felt alone even whilst traveling solo. Have fun, be safe, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

  • travel
  • TRAVEL GUIDE: SOUTH AFRICA

    Starting a series that’s way overdue, a travel guide series! I’m starting off with South Africa because I just spent a week in Cape Town and had the time of my life. Here are some things I did, things I ate, and everything in between!

    ACCOMMODATION

    I stayed in an Airbnb the heart of Cape Town, conveniently located next to a bunch of shops and only minutes away from our favorite restaurants located on Bree Street. I really wanted to stay in a place that felt homey, so I picked out a loft I felt best suited me: large windows for natural lighting overlooking Lion’s Head, a kitchen with everything you could possibly need, and just the right amount of space for my best friend and me.

    ACTIVITIES

    HIKES

    A MUST. Lion’s Head and Table Mountain are both centrally located and were only about $5 USD uber rides to the start of the trail from where we stayed.

    • Lion’s Head took about 2 hours round trip, but prepared to do some major rock climbing towards the top. There are handles and chains for guidance but don’t let those intimidate you! The bigger rocks towards the top are quite slippery as well, so just be very cautious and try to avoid going when it’s wet or when it’s dark out, unless you have the proper equipment for it.

    •  Table Mountain was SO MUCH FUN. It was paved very well and felt completely safe all the way up, but as always, proceed with caution. The steps get steep pretty quick but it’s basically a straight shot all the way up. There are alternative routes as well if you prefer switchbacks. Or, you can also take the cable car up! We decided to hike up, which took about 2 hours, and took the cable car down.

    CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS

    The city sightseeing bus is hop on hop off double decker bus and is a perfect way to get a tour of the city. We did this on our first full day and had so much fun seeing a glimpse of the city as well as getting to stop at the waterfront. A ticket for a full day is R180 and you and hop on and hop off at different stops the entire day. Just make sure to check the bus schedule online to plan accordingly!

    THE WHARF WATERFRONT

    The waterfront is a really fun and lively part of Cape Town. A perfect place to get souvenirs with loads of local and handmade vendors. There was also a mall with lots of shopping in case you need to pick up something you forgot to pack. The V&A Food Market is also located at the waterfront and it’s amazing!

    THE WINE TRAM

    One of my favorite things we did in South Africa! We hopped on a wine tram in Franschhoek which took us from vineyard to vineyard. We paid R220 for a ticket on the train and the tastings at the vineyards cost about $5-$10 USD at each place. Some vineyards didn’t charge a tasting fee if you bought a bottle. They’ll let you know if that’s the case! We caught on uber to and back from where you need to meet to catch the train, which was cheaper than their prearranged charter bus. Bring water and snacks! We hopped on the green line and LOVED it.

    BOULDER’S BEACH

    Boulder’s Beach is a beautiful beach filled with wild penguins. Definitely recommend checking it out, but just know that it’s very touristy and you will not be able to get too close to the penguins or pet them. There’s a fee to get into the park. We got to Boulder’s Beach and Cape of Good Hope via the City Sightseeing Bus. Another option is to rent a car. We also packed lunches and snacks for our road trip day, which I’d highly recommend doing.

    CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

    This is where the most southwestern spot of Africa is and it was absolutely stunning and serene. Luckily for us, it was a stop on our City Sightseeing Bus itinerary.

    BO KAAP

    The strip of bright and colorful houses located in downtown Cape Town is a must see. A really good spot for photos as well!

    FOOD

    V&A FOOD MARKET

    They’ve got everything from poke bowls to local South African cheeses to lamb wraps. You’re bound to find something here! The hard part is deciding WHAT.

    HAIL PIZZA

    One of the best pizzas I’ve ever had was from Hail Pizza. I got their mushroom pizza add zucchini and eggplant. SO GOOD. On Wednesdays, they have buy one get one free pizzas from 6-8PM and reservations in advance are recommended as they do have limited seating!

    KAUAI

    The best little spot for breakfast or brunch! I got a smoothie bowl and a mushroom toast here and they were both so delicious.

    THREE WISE MONKEYS

    THE BEST RAMEN. They also make amazing sushi donuts and baos.

    CLARKE’S BAR AND DINING ROOM

    We grabbed drinks and a appetizers here. Good ambience and great vibes!

    BURGERS & LOBSTERS

    Their happy hour is amazing. Buy one get one free on some really unique and handcrafted cocktails.

    EASTERN FOOD BAZAAR

    We grabbed some curry at a spot behind our Airbnb. It was like a food court made up of about 5 different vendors of Asian and Middle Eastern food. Super delicious, affordable, and the portions were massive – lasted us 3 meals!

    WOOLWORTHS FOOD & SPAR

    We shopped for foods we could make for breakfast and have for snacks to save some money. Woolworths Food was blocks away from our Airbnb so it was pretty convenient, but if you can, get to Spar! They had a lot of health foods like kombucha, and grain free and sugar free baked goods and protein bars.

    OUMEUL BAKERY

    Snagged some freshly baked sourdough bread here!

    BREE STREET

    A strip of amazing restaurants and bars. Hail Mary, Burgers and Lobsters, and Clarke’s are all located on Bree St.

    GETTING AROUND

    UBER

    Uber rides are extremely cheap in Cape Town and there is always a driver just minutes away. Super convenient and saved us from renting a car!

    CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS

    A really great way of getting around especially if you plan on hopping around the city the entire day. We also utilized their services going to Boulder’s Beach and Cape of Good Hope!

    WALKING

    Since we stayed downtown, everything was pretty close and in walking distance. However, be cautious walking around after dark. Certain streets can get pretty sketchy. Always walk with a buddy if you can.

    TIPS

    • Ask locals for recommendations! I like to do this whenever I travel. My Airbnb host ended up giving us lots of advice on places to go based on our preferences and interests.
    • Find an Airbnb with a washer/dryer so you can pack less clothes.
    • Pack a jacket, leggings, and comfy shoes. The hikes are no joke and I cringed watching people hike in jeans. Don’t do that to yourself! It also gets cold higher up on the mountains.
    • Cook meals at home to save money. It’s fun to go out and have local cuisine, but waking up and having your usual breakfast made at home will not only save you money, but it will also help with your digestion.
    • We were traveling during a drought so we limited our water usage by using hand sanitizer and taking really quick showers.
    • The travel journey is long. From Seattle, you spend about 27 hours in the air. I’d recommend drinking of water at the airport, bringing detox tea and greens tabs with you. For more tips on flying, see this blog post.
    • Flight attendants: I non-reved via Emirates connecting through Dubai there and back. It was super easy and I got a seat on every flight!

    I hope if you are considering making a trip to South Africa that this has convinced you to do it. It was such a beautiful place with loads to do and although it was bummed to leave, I feel like spending one week there was the perfect amount of time.