BOOKSHOPS TO VISIT AROUND THE WORLD
After publishing this post about my love for Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini I got to thinking about other bookshops around the world I would love to visit. And so, I have put together a list of my top choices…for your reading pleasure!
// Shakespeare & Company – Paris, France
Paris was the very first European city I visited (after landing into London from Australia) on my very first holiday in Europe and so it will always hold a special place in my heart. But in such a beautiful and famous city with so many sites to see, it can be easy to make the same mistake I did and miss this bohemian refuge on the Left Bank. But at least we have a good excuse (like I need one?! In the words of Audrey Hepburn – Paris is always a good idea, right!) to return.
Shakespeare & Company is undoubtedly the most famous English-language bookshop in Paris, and quite possibly the world. This quirky, ramshackle independent bookshop is stuffed with books on crowded and crooked shelves in the shadow of Notre Dame. Original founder George Whitman once described it as a ‘social utopia masquerading as a bookshop’ – what more motivation do you need to visit this little gem!
// Keibunsha Books – Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto has long been on my wish list of places to visit and when I finally do make it there, I’ll be making a beeline to this all-in-one bookshop, art gallery and gift shop. Famous for its unique and thoughtfully curated collection, hand selected by trusted staff I can’t wait to roam aimlessly through the series of three rooms, also enjoying the shop’s welcoming aesthetic with rich lighting and dark wood paneling. I will probably also stock up on gifts for myself and my family and friends from Keibunsha’s selection of japanese art, stationary and vintage items.
// Cafebreia El Pendulo – Mexico City
There is nothing better than when a bookshop is combined with a successful cafe and Cafebreia is one of those examples. And on weekends their breakfast in served with a side of live classical music. This bookshop also hosts open architecture and real green trees. Being located in one of the world’s largest cities, I can imagine that Cafebreia is a welcoming escape from the heat, and I can see myself kicking back with a coffee in one hand, book in the other in the shade of a tree, happily whiling away the afternoon while my husband has a siesta in the hotel.
// Boekhandel Domincanen – Maastricht
If there is one place in the world to come to worship words, literature and books its Boekhandel Domincanen. This 1,1000 square metre gothic space was originally a Dominican church built in the 13th century which underwent a radical refurb in 2006. With a in-house cafe (more coffee + books!) Boekhandel Domincanen also holds several literary events every year, really making it a temple of books.
(📷 – http://www.dezeen.com)
// El Ateneo Grand Splendid – Buenos Aires
Picture a beautiful old theatre complete with painted heigh ceilings, ornate carvings, balconies and private boxes. A large stage and heavy rich stage curtains. Now picture the seating area filled with rows and rows of books, the stage area fitted out with a cafe and the private boxes turned into reading rooms and you have the El Ateneo Grand Splendid, one of the best known books stores in Argentina.
// Scarthin Books – Derbyshire
Perhaps this hidden quirky bookshop is a surprise inclusion on this list, but for me, it ticks off so many items on my ‘bookshop favs list’. A bookshop that sells both new and second hand books and has done so since the mid 70’s – tick! An in-house vegetarian cafe with many vegan options – two BIG ticks! All in a beautiful setting – another tick! I can just picture myself ducking into this hidden little shop to escape the famous English drizzle and warm up with a nice cup of hot tea and english scones before roaming the huge selection and purchasing some of my favourites titles.
// Livraria Iello – Porto, Portugal
Quite possibly the most beautiful bookshop in the world, the purpose built Livraria Iello has been selling books since 1881. Featuring neo gothic architecture, a wood panelled ceiling, stain glass windows and a sweeping staircase known as ‘the staircase to heaven’ this bookshop is worth visiting for its beauty alone, while also being home to hundreds of beautiful books.
Have you visited any of these bookshops? Or have you visited some gems that I should add to my list. I would love to hear from you =)
FINDING AUTHENTICITY IN DUBAI’S OLD TOWN
Those days between Christmas and New Year are usually spent considering eating and drinking less, contemplating what the new year will bring and just generally enjoying a welcome respite from the daily grind.
This year I even found some time to tackle an item on my perpetual ‘to-do’ list…my mission to free my travel photos from my hard drive!
2015 was filled with so many amazing experiences, both travel and otherwise, and my latest photo story on Steller is just one of those (and thanks to the editors at Steller how included it in their ‘Places’ collection =P).
Back in February my then fiancé (now husband) and I went to Dubai to catch some winter sun. Unfortunately they had an unseasonal cold snap while we were there but we still had the opportunity to explore and catch up with some dear friends.
One of my favourite outings during our visit was to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (you can read all about it here). The other was an afternoon we spent in Dubai’s Old Town.
The Spice Souk while touristic was worth a visit even if only for the onslaught of colour and aroma. And the traditional cargo boats and ferries still used on Dubai Creek are completely charming and provide an interesting juxtaposition with the ultra modern high rises of Dubai in the background.
Take a traditional ‘arba’ for just AED1 to cross the creek for an authentic Dubai experience.
A WAYFARERS GUIDE TO NOOOSA
As I write this guide, the warm and sunny shores of Noosa seem so far removed from the chilly, foggy Italian winter morning I see from my window. It feels like I’m throwing back to a distant holiday memory, rather than what was my reality a mere few weeks.
Noosa is a very touristic resort town, perhaps the most well known and popular on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Its popularity lies in its location hidden behind the Noosa National Park and the fact that it’s north facing aspect creates beaches protected from the southerly winds and swells that batter most other beaches on the east coast.
Noosa was suppose to be only one stop on our Sunshine Coast road trip, but despite its super touristic status, we decided to make it our base for exploring the area.
// The Sanctuary – Little Cove
Because Noosa is so touristic, accommodation is expensive all year around. The majority of availability is in resorts, which isn’t really our thing. But a quick search on Air BnB revealed several more appealing options including the house we ended up renting in Little Cove, on the edge of the National Park and a short walk from Hastings St. We loved waking up each morning in our tree house and having our own deck overlooking the National Park for relaxing and cooking BBQs.
After being spoilt of choice in Byron Bay, eating out in Noosa was a bit like coming back down to earth. Vegetarian options where limited especially on lunch and dinner menus. Luckily we are big fans of brunch and ate out most mornings.
// Bistro C
One of the more trendy cafes along the boardwalk at Noosa main beach, Bistro C serves stylish fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but breakfast is best for vegetarians as lunch and dinner options are limited. Its absolute beachfront location, enviable views and friendly and attentive staff make this place popular with visitors and locals alike.
// Betty’s Burgers
The slick, on-trend fit out at Betty’s Burgers makes the place look like the latest chain of hipster eateries, rather than the reincarnation of the famous Betty’s Beach Burgers, once a Noosa institution. Despite the super cool vibe, this place has only one option for vegetarians, a portobello mushroom veggie burger. But believe me, it is the BEST vegetarian burger I have EVER eaten, and I’ve tried a lot a veggie burgers. Usually veggie burgers are also the ‘healthy’ burger choice and this one certainly is not, which is probably why it tastes SO good. Accompanied by onion rings and fries and washed down with a Little Creatures beer, eating vegetarian at Betty’s Burgers is pure laid back indulgence!
// Nosh Express
Located in the arcade that connects Hastings St and the main beach boardwalk, Nosh is a busy little food bar that offers amazing fresh salads to take away daily. They also make a great ‘hippy’ (veg) burger (this one is more of the healthy kind). Great for a quick lunch to eat down by the beach.
// Noosa Surf Club
Along the Queensland coast, Surf Life Saving Clubs offer some of the best views where to enjoy a meal or a drink, and Noosa Surf Club is no exception. Offering a magical view over Noosa main beach from the huge open air terrace, its the perfect place to kick back and relax and watch the ‘nippers’ in action. Simple, kiosk style food is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the bar is always open.
// Kaali Gourmet Indian
After running from awning to awning, reviewing restaurant menus with little choice for vegetarians and trying to stay out of the rain, we were delighted find Kaali Gourmet Indian at the end of Hastings Street. With a dedicated vegetarian menu we were so happy to be out of the rain and eating delicious food with plenty of choice.
// Grind – Noosaville
Well worth the short drive out of Noosa along the river, Grind definitely had the best brunch we ate in the Noosa area. Plenty of vegetarian options, daily specials, and all fresh delicious options served at this cute cafe across the road from the river, its not surprise that on the Noosaville strip full of cafes this place is always packed.
// Thai Square – Noosaville
Thai is always a great options for vegetarians and Thai Square is arguably the best Thai in Noosa. With a table on the outside verandah surrounded by palm trees, and thai TV playing in the corner, you can really feel swept away to a tropical paradise as you enjoy this delicious thai fare.
This french inspired bistro unfortunately didn’t have any suitable vegetarian options for us to eat. But the coffee was great.
// 10 Hastings St
This cute lil cafe in the centre of Hasting St has a nostalgic summer surf vibe. Great for coffee and people watching from the alfresco seating area.
// Miss Moneypenny’s
Perfectly located in the centre of the Hasting St strip, Miss Moneypennys attracts a mixed crowd of locals and visitors for stylish cocktails and Mediterranean inspired bar menu.
// Eumundi Markets
If you find yourself in Noosa on Wednesday or Saturday, a visit to the Edmund Markets is a must. Quoted as Australia’s premier artisan market, you’ll find a wide selection of quality handmade products as well as a dedicated food section offering fresh local produce and international inspired street food and snacks. The town of Edmund itself is quaint and worth a visit with a variety of cute homeware and fashion stores and the prerequisite pub.
// Noosa Farmers Markets
Located between Noosa and Noosaville, the farmers market is the perfect place to have breakfast on a Sunday morning. Along with the fresh local produce of every kind, you’ll find many of the Eumundi street food stalls here as well. A lovely way to pass a sunny Sunday morning.
// Apollonian Hotel
Just a short and pretty 30 minute drive from Noosa and you will find yourself at the historic heritage Apollonian Hotel. Famous for its Sunday spit roast (which we strategically missed) the pub is set on 3.5 acres and is surrounded by rolling lawns and colonial verandahs covered in climbing bougainvillaea. Located in the picturesque town of Boreen Point on the shores of Lake Cootharaba, the pub still oozes the charm of its gold rush heyday, while the bar is full of colourful local characters.
// Noosa National Park
This guide wouldn’t be complete without some serious wayfaring – in the form of a hike all the way through Noosa National Park to the next town over, Sunshine.
Follow the oceanside forest track enjoying typical Australian vegetation and wildlife, keeping an eye out for koalas in their native gum trees. Stop for a dip in the crystal clear rock pools of Granite Bay, surrounded by huge black granite boulders and gorgeous views over the secluded beach and ocean. Feeling fresh and invigorated, resume the hike until you reach Hell’s Gate and stop for amazing 360 degree views of the headland.
Then continue around to coastal cliffs and cross the beach at Alexandria Bay (NB. this is a nudist beach) to rejoin the coastal track at the southern end. Once you reach the northern end of Sunshine beach, walk along the shore until you reach the exit for the Sunshine Surf Club (exit 33, i think, its about a 1.2 km walk). Here you can enjoy lunch or delicious snacks from their bar menu and a well earned drink. The Surf Club is also across the road from the bus stop that will take you back to Noosa. Allow 3-4 hours because but if you are anything like me, the photo stops will add at least an extra half hour =)
A VEGETARIAN’S GUIDE TO BYRON BAY
Even though Italian cuisine has so many delicious vegetarian dishes, ‘being vegetarian’ is still misunderstood in many Italian towns. As a result I get served everything from fish (mistaking me for a pescatarian) to plain grilled vegetables (thinking I’m a vegan). It can be frustrating and tiresome always calling ahead to advise that ‘two vegetarians are coming to dinner’ and ask if they have anything to serve us.
So coming to Byron Bay really felt like coming home. It truly felt like we were welcome as vegetarians, not strangers from another planet. We felt in the majority not the minority, for once. And we ate like veggie kings.
So it only seems fit that my first vegetarian travel guide be for this vegetarian paradise!
Breakfast & Brunch
// The Farm + Three Blue Ducks
This place deserves its title as a foodie mecca. The boys from Bronte (Sydney) have set up a second venue 5 minutes drive out of Byron which includes a restaurant, store, yoga studio and flower shed on a 32 acre sustainable, chemical and spray free farm.
They have live music on weekend afternoons and you can even buy a picnic hamper to enjoy at your leisure on The Farm grounds.
Best for breakfast as a vegetarian as lunch and dinner have limited options.
// Bayleaf Cafe
Just a short walk from the beach Bayleaf is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. In fact the place is always packed and it can be difficult to get a table during the breakfast rush. But they do serve an all day breakfast to be enjoyed even later on in th day. Its got a typical laid back, relaxed vibe and serves local, organic seasonal produce.
// Top Shop
This corner shop on the outskirts of town is Byron Bay institution. Serving great coffee and a wide selection of snacks its the perfect pitstop heading to or from the beach. We stayed around the corner, so we ended up here most mornings for breakfast.
// Heart & Halo
Certainly one of the best vegetarian cheap eats in Byron, this food bar serves indian and asian inspired eat in and take away meals in a very relaxed and laid back setting. Perfect for a quick lunch, dinner or snack
A short 15 minute drive from Byron in the delightfully sleepy Hinterland town of Newrybar, you’ll find the award winning Harvest.
Also home to the Harvest Produce Delli where you can purchase everything on the ‘bar eats’ menu to take home and enjoy all over again.
Open seven days for breakfast and lunch, with dinner also served Thursday through Sunday, book ahead to avoid disappointment.
// Thai Lucy
Hidden in bay lane (Byron’s ‘eat’ street)
Plenty of veg options and vegan available on request
12-3pm & 1730-late (dinner BYO)
// Treehouse on Belongil
Playful, cozy spot with live music, just out of town, great atmosphere
wide selection of veg wood fired pizza plus other veg options
local craft beer and cocktails
There are so many vegetarian options in Byron that I didn’t get to try them all! I wish I had also had time to try:
// Naked Treaties
// The Cardamom Pod
// Folk Cafe
// The Cyprus Tree
// Manna Haven
// Asia Joe’s
A WAYFARERS GUIDE TO BRISBANE
Brisbane is Australia’s third most populated city and as such lives often in the shadow of its larger and more well known cousins Sydney and Melbourne. But this is cosmopolitan city with the welcoming and open heart of small town, plenty of green spaces and a thriving cafe culture.
And the ‘River City’ is the first stop on our Australian trip this year, so it’s appropriate that it will be my first official ‘Wayfarer’s’ Guide!
As my first Guide, I’ll be trialling this format:
SLEEP / COFFEE / READ / EAT / DRINK / EXPLORE
I hope this will cover both the touristic and lifestyle/local aspects of any city as well as all the things I love =)
// Spicer’s Balfour Hotel (New Farm)
This Australia trip serves three purposes for us… 1) attending our dear friend’s wedding, 2) much needed catch up with family and friends 3) a honeymoon after our June nuptials.
As such, we have decided to occasionally splash out for the ‘honeymoon’ experience, and with Spicer’s Balfour Hotel we have done just that, even if it is only for 2 jet-lag ridden nights!
And after turning up on their doorstep at 9am (yes 5 hours before check in) after our particularly exhausting long haul flight from Milan, our room was obviously not ready so they offered us a complimentary upgrade to one of their brand new suites…..we must have looked worse than I thought!
Located in an iconic ‘Queenslander’ heritage home in the trendy suburb of New Farm, Spicer’s Balfour Hotel offers a chic and stylish interior and a rooftop bar with enviable views of Brisbane city and the Story Bridge, which is just 15 minutes walk away. And as we sat at this rooftop bar enjoying a much needed aperitif on our first night, looking across the rusted corrugated iron roofs of old homes to the lights of Brisbane city, I was filled with a sense of happy nostalgia, seeing this juxtaposition of old and new city living in Australia.
// Death before Decaf (New Farm)
I popped in here for a caffeine fix while hubby was next door getting a close shave at The Moustachery. It’s open 24/7, hence the aversion to decaf!
// Avid Reader (Boundary Street, West End)
No modern book shop is complete without a cafe and Avid Reader is no different. One of Brisbane’s best independent bookshops, they stock all the latest fiction and non fiction with an excellent range of travel books, cookbooks, literature and more.
// Balfour Kitchen (New Farm)
Staying at the Balfour, we couldn’t go past sitting on the verandah for their delicious sweet and savoury breakfasts. One such morning we also spied a vegetarian tasting menu with matched wines on their dinner menu which was just too good to pass up. And then there is the rooftop bar with a decent wine and cocktail list to go with that view.
// Lost Boys (Fortitude Valley)
The enchanting and magical Lost Boys serves all organic, vegetarian food prepared daily onsite (breakfast, lunch and snacks) ordered from menus inside vintage storybooks.
Enter this slice of Neverland and embrace your inner Peter Pan, enjoying rustic but delicious meals in the shadow of the tree filled with Tinkerbell fairy lights and ‘lost boys’ hidey holes.
// Heya Bar (Fortitude Valley)
At street level this place looks like a dive bar and wouldn’t usually have caught my attention if it hadn’t been recommended. And this dive bar aesthetic does continue in the nooks and dark corners hidden under Brunswick Street but in a kitsch kinda way when it is mixed with South East Asian style. Great for cocktails and imported beer.
// A stroll around South Bank
Perfect for my fellow Wayfarers, Southbank provides 17 acres of green parkland along the south shore of the Brisbane River. There are also plenty of places to eat and drink and things to see along the way, including a man made beach!
// Hanging out in New Farm
As we stayed in New Farm we spent lots of time just hanging out in this this trendy riverside enclave, enjoying the ample green spaces, heritage homes community atmosphere and riverfront strolls.
Book stores are also some of my favourite places to explore when in a new place, especially second hand book stores. I have never met a bookstore I didn’t like, I always find them welcoming and comforting no matter how many times I visit. Its like I can feel the history and the stories leaping out of the old books and creating an atmosphere of wonder.
But it was not my love of book stores that first attracted me to Atlantis Books, hidden between the chic boutiques and tourist shops of Oia. It was the handwritten ‘FREE PUPPY EXHIBITION’ sign out the front :
– 4 legs each – different colours – one tail each – small teeth: not dangerous
….how could I resist! And so I descended the spiral staircase of the restored sea captains house to be greeted by an exhausted mum and her litter of adorable pups. After receiving probably more than my fair share of free puppy cuddles, I turned to discover an authentic gem tucked away under the cobblestoned streets of Oia.
With the history of the Atlantis literally inscribed on the walls (and roof) you immediately feel at home and welcome in this rustic little underground book shop. As cats snooze on the shelves between books in a multitude of languages and quirky installations hang from the ceiling, the Atlantis is a place you want to move into. And after reading (off the wall) that they throw parties on their roof which enjoys spectacular views of Oia’s famous sunsets, I just might!
Find them here – http://atlantisbooks.org (and check out their Tedx talk – it will inspire you and melt your heart!)
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with a Fixed 50
I am on a mission to free my travel photos from my hard drive, and while it is going to be a massive job I have decided to start with the photos from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi from my trip to the UAE in February.
Of all the places to start, why here you ask? Because it was my first experience with a fixed 50mm lens. In countless interviews and tutorials, photographers I love and admire recommend the fixed 50 as ‘the best all round lens’ or ‘the only lens you’ll need if you have to choose just one’. So after my fellow shutter bug dad gave me one for Christmas, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out.
At first I was frustrated as the viewfinder didn’t show me what my eye could see, and being a fixed lens, I couldn’t zoom out to get those wide angle shots that show the sheer grandeur of the place, which meant, at first, I did a lot of running around and stepping back, and back, and back, to get the shot I wanted.
But I soon found that the ‘thrifty 50’ gave me the opportunity to focus on the details, which I love so much and gave me a completely new perspective that took my photos beyond the typical postcard shots. And I think the results speak for themselves.
Check out my favourite pics from this visit in this Steller story here – https://steller.co/wayfarersinc