Posts Tagged 'travel'

Byron Bay: My Picks

Gorgeous Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Some of you who follow me on Twitter may have noticed I had a quick three-day jaunt in Byron Bay last week. The reason? To review Rae’s on Watego’s boutique luxury hotel, day spa and the new Rae’s Fish Cafe for Onya Magazine. Hard life I know… Of course, I had to add an extra night beforehand, make the whole trip to the airport a bit more worth it! Wouldn’t you?

It was my Byron Bay debut, and if I may say so myself, I did it in mighty fine style (I’m looking at you, Rae’s…) and lucky RK got to tag along!

I sure like sticky-beaking at what other people got up to on their holidays, if not for the tips on hot spots, then just the pure pleasure of a stickybeak. Come on, why do you think Facebook is so popular? However, if you’re repulsed by one too many poses with colourful looking drinks, then I suggest you click exit now!

STAY: FM on Lawson (or Fridays on The Beach)

Situated on Lawson Road, our first night of accommodation was at FM on Lawson. A new take on the old motel style of accommodation, Lawson’s was renovated, modern and clean, but still held onto the old charms of the traditional motel. A perfect 20 second walk to the beach across a green foreshore complete with a tightrope walker practicing his act that morning, Lawson’s also provides stripey deck chairs for you to relax and soak up the sun. I loved that it all felt so open, as without any front gate or other borders, the front of the motel simply spilled out onto the foreshore. We paid $190 for the night, which I’m sure had something to do with the renovations to the rooms (clean, modern bathroom and lacking any gaudy yellow walls) but it was worth it for the location, rooms and friendly service. A final winning touch? NATIO mini-size prods in the bathroom; love me some Aussie beauty brand support!

Hopefully you can see what I mean about the proximity to the beach with this picture!

EAT: Kinoko Sushi

I’m sure true, die-hard Byron Bay locals and hippies felt their skin crawl as they learned that Witchery, Sportsgirl and for the-love-of-God even SUPRE were opening on the main street. And where do you go to eat after you’ve shopped up a storm like you’ve been at Chadstone? A funky looking sushi train that’s just buzzing with cool of course! Kinoko sushi was packed, but we managed to pull up a seat for a quick and easy snack at the sushi train bar. All the regular favourites were there, but a new delight had me in raptures. Think a mayo and salmon roll, covered in vegetable tempura batter.. and then tempura-ed aka fried into a heavenly delight. The salmon was cooked, the mayo was warm and the outside light and crisp with some vege’s for (slight) nutritional bonus. YUM!

WAX: Paradiso Beauty

A lady’s pre-holiday to-do list includes a few essentials, one of them being a lady-bits tidy, especially if the destination means an appearance in bikinis is more than 60% likely. Being the busy ping-pong ball that I am (unpredictable, bouncing from place to place, at times seemingly an air head) I had run out of time for this top-of the-list essential, and therefore spent (wasted) the first hour or so of my Byron stay trudging from one beauty salon to the next, searching for someone that was a) open, b) available c) reasonably priced and d) looked sanitary. Luckily I found the lovely Simone at Paradiso Beauty who squeezed me in. She was fast, efficient, friendly, relatively pain-free and very well priced. (G-string for $30) Beach disaster (for others more so than myself!) narrowly avoided!

RELAX: Thai Sabai – Thai Massage and Foot Spa

Having walked past Thai Sabai earlier in the day, I decided to make the most of this short trip to get some much needed relaxation. A massage a day keeps the doctor away, as they (should) say. The lovely ladies, and men, at Thai Sabai were oh so accommodating and so friendly I wanted to spend the rest of my afternoon there! Luckily we had just scraped in before closing time, and they were more than happy to take us as walk-ins. (However the next day when I went back – greedy I know – they were booked out for the next few hours so you might want to book just in case.) I had the 30 minute Traditional Thai Massage for $40 (a combination of firm pressure and stretching) while RK chose the 30 minute Thai Deep Pressure ($49); pain is gain for his corkscrew muscles! I was surprised yet delighted when they brought out a warm foot bath complete with tropical flower and washed out feet with a slight massage before we were brought to the bed to change into our Thai fisherman pants and top for the treatment. For those who don’t like the intimate feeling of massage, Thai massage is perfect as you remain fully and conservatively clothed the entire time, while still reaping the benefits.

Quick little foot rub before our treatment!

The setting was gorgeous, with my lovely Thai lady telling me all the fit out was brought over from Thailand for the most authentic experience. I should have asked where she got them – the day beds and materials were beautiful!

Beautiful attention to detail; folded towels with frangipanis!

After my massage which was the best Thai massage I’d had, we came out to find two cups of tea and a dried apricot each waiting for us at the table. Budget prices for day spa service and decor – Thai Sabai has certainly raised my standards on the walk-in massage service!

NIBBLE: St. Elmo’s

After an afternoon spent watching CNN coverage of Barack ‘da man’ Obama giving his post bin Laden raid speech, we got ready and headed out in search of drinks and eats. I’d previously done a Twitter call out for some restaurant suggestions in Byron, and seeings as we only had one night to experience it all, we decided to have a nibble at St. Elmo’s before our main meal. Definitely were the trend-set would spend their evenings, St. Elmo was an uber cool tapas bar and restaurant which had a delicious sounding, decidedly Spanish influenced menu; staying true to the origins of tapas. If you don’t like ham, or jambon, (like me!) there won’t be much on the tapas menu that you’ll like! RK and I chose to share the chickpea, capsicum and chorizo tapas dish which was delish and superbly presented. Oh, and a cocktail:

I've forgotten the name, but it had the word 'dancefloor' in it!

If we were going to have our main there was well, I had my eyes and stomach firmly set on the slow-cooked beef cheek, but alas, we had other places to be. Note to one of the waiters though; lighten up, you were far too gruff and just a little too rude! Take a lesson from the other younger guy, he was lovely!

EAT: The Balcony

Another Twitter suggestion, we ambled on over to The Balcony for our main meal. Upstairs in a historic Byron building, The Balcony had a kind of tropical jungle, Bali-chic influence to it which made it relaxed and intimate. Indeed, the outdoor balcony where we sat did its name proud, although it would be far more gorgeous out over the beach side rather than the street. Nonetheless it was a fun place to eat, with the most monstrous and delicious paella I’ve had!

Paella for two!

Oh, it was an effort, and I think I’ve permanently stretched my stomach beyond repair, but we did it!

And then topped it off with this molten choc pudding of deliciousness….

COFFEE & EAT: Fishheads

After a morning stroll from FM on Lawson’s we stumbled across one of the best located eateries in Byron; Fishheads. In front of the community pool and right on the water, Fishheads has prime position over the water – the perfect holiday breakfast spot. Surprisingly, the prices didn’t reflect the real estate, I had expected much more expensive meals, as amazing location generally equals unwarranted jacking of prices. I was in paradise as the warm sun sunk in (SPF applied prior of course) and I sipped my cappuccino and ate my eggs Benedict – heaven.

Darn iPhone's inability to capture the view just 'cos there's a bit of backlight!

DRINK: Byron Hotel

What else does one do when the sun is out and the clock strikes 12 on holiday? Why, head on over to the Byron Hotel and order a drink of course! I ordered the ‘Byron Breeze’, which was the most delicious cocktail ever, I could have had five! Luckily I stopped at one, there were other things to enjoy!

SHOP: Madame Butterfly Beauty Bar and Temple of Light

Amongst the bounty of great boutiques Byron has to offer, I was particularly taken by Madame Butterfly Beauty Bar and Temple of Light. These gorgeously and unashamedly girly boutiques were owned by the same lady, I was told, and were right up my alley. (RK remarked on entering MB, “Oh, you’re in your element here!”) Madame Butterfly is a beauty boutique absolutely bursting with the best of beauty, every brand you could think of, or maybe never heard of! (I’ve now been introduced to Lollia, and I liked what I saw!) A fantastic balance between Australian and international brands, this intimate, decorative boutique could give Mecca a sure run for its money.

Temple of Light was a fragrance fanatics dream, with floor to ceiling filled with as many candles, fragrance reeds and room sprays as the eye could see. It was fantastic for expanding my knowledge of brands for Onya, as so many were Australian made and owned. Watch this space for word of soy wax melt company, Elume.

STAY: Rae’s on Watego’s

Rae’s is just… I was speechless. Beautiful! Luxury! Amazing! How and where do I sign up for this lifestyle like, now?! I had to keep my cool – this was a work trip after all! Definitely a treat and a highlight stay of my life (and life to come, I’m sure), Rae’s is a boutique place of bliss. With only 7 rooms, (we stayed in the Mirabella Penthouse) it’s intimate enough to feel like you’re the only ones there, and while it is bespoke luxury, the casual Byron feel is not lost. I can’t give too much away, so look out for an upcoming Winter Special and review in Onya Mag!

Outdoor view of Rae's

The entrance in the Mirabella, one of the 7 areas of the room!

The outdoor terrace and day bed - Yep, I'm feeling right at home!

Four poster bed; check. Luxe leather chairs in front of fireplace; check. Open bathroom with sunken spa bath; check.

EAT: Rae’s Fish Cafe

Recently revamped, Rae’s Fish Cafe is fine dining a la Byron; an open terrace overlooking the beach foreshore, the waves crashing the only interruption to your conversation. Oh, the food was divine! Amazing fresh seafood, and one of the best Cosmopolitans I’ve had! Again, you’ll hear more in Onya Magazine but a sneak peak of the food can’t hurt!

Entree; cold seafood platter with zucchini flowers in place of oysters.

Main; hot seafood platter with papaya, chilli and mint salad.

Desert; brownie and lemon tart.

Breakfast in the room; fruit salad, hot bread basket and french toast with marscopone cream

Lunch entree; Yamba prawn salad with avocado.

Lunch main; Lemongrass BBQ'd Morton Bay Bugs... as if I didn't get enough seafood the night before?

So there it is, my Byron Bay work trip holiday. Clearly, writing this post has brought up some traumatic feelings of loss… loss of my dream life I fleetingly had for three days. Ah, suck it up sunshine, back to reality! The current freezing temps in Melbourne haven’t helped, especially as I’m trying to avoid my skinny jeans like the plague after that intense period of delicious gluttony!

So, have you been to Byron Bay?
What tips/hotspots do you recommend?

One more cocktail pose, just for good measure – bonus points for the palm trees!

"This should make the plane trip a bit more bearable..."


New York, I (will) Love You.

So I have some news. From the title of this post you may have guessed it has something to do with the Big Apple… and points for you Sharpy McSharp ‘cos you’re spot on! This time next week, (plus six hours) I will be flying out of Melbourne for New York City!

Can I get a collective ‘weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!‘?


Now this might be the time when you would expect me to break out some over-used pop-culture cliché in the form of a Jay-Z song… and again – you would be right.

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you

Sorry, had to do it. (Come on, you probably would have done it. No? Awkward.)

This trip was planned rather last-minute, in lieu of a 21st bash. The costs were adding up and Mother Curts was all for a trip instead of a party, and when I found out my darling friend Erin was going to be staying all alone in a fabulous apartment in Manhattan (Gramercy, to be exact) I just thought, ‘heck yeah, New York!’.

After almost touching on a month in New York, I’ll spend 2 and a bit weeks visiting my US side of the family, who are all dotted along the California coast, from San Francisco to San Diego. (Oh, tough gig I know, visiting family that live along some of the most beautiful coastlines!)


So apart from making best friends with Jay-Z, what will I be doing? (Actually, I am putting money on it that Jay-Z, no longer content with just being besties with me, will show Beyonce how adorable I am and they will adopt me as their “little Aussie Koala Kid” – vom-inducing nickname I know, but I’ll be called anything to be a mini-Z.)

In all seriousness, as corny and cliched as this sounds, I plan to just be. Working between 6 -7 days a week along with uni classes and assignments, exercise, personal writing including this blog, family, boyfriend and friends really takes it out of you. I constantly feel as though I am rushing, nay, running from one commitment from the other, find myself holding my breath in panicked moments and generally stressing myself out about everything. And look, I love a busy lifestyle, and could probably turn down a few babysitting jobs (although the wallet would suffer) so I’m not having my own pity party here, (I’m just almost showing myself here even), that sometimes you need to re-learn how to relax and become a little more balanced. I know many other people are even busier and that they handle it just fine, not to mention when you throw children into the mix. I know.
I tend to internalise stress, thriving for a few days off the adrenaline rush that comes with having too much to do, and not enough time to do it, and then collapse into a self-imposed ‘wallow-session’ where woe-is-me rules supreme. And too much chocoate is consumed.

Not. Healthy.
I should know better really, after an undiagnosed bout of Glandular Fever in late 2007 left me beyond exhausted, depressed and eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2008. Luckily it was no where near as severe as some people’s.

I plan to still be productive, as I don’t think I am the type of person who can’t not be doing something. But productive in the way that I chose, not for things that I would rather not be doing. Self-development, writing personally, for this blog and also hopefully pushing my boundaries with some other publications. Reading books, or should I say finishing the 5 unread novels laying around my room. Exercising in new and exciting locations, as well as taking up new forms. I hope to do regular yoga and pilates classes. Walk, shop, eat, explore.

I really hope to find and try new beauty brands, products, salons and services to try and tell you about, as well as bring you beauty musings and observations from the streets of New York and California.

I am hoping the streets will make me feel brand new.

So, have any of you been to New York?
Where should I walk, shop, eat, explore?
Anyone got Jay-Z’s number?

Beauty Memoirs from Paris

An extract from the blog I kept while living in Paris in 2008…

I went to Sephora today (massive amazing department store JUST for beauty, makeup perfume etc – heaven!) I stopped at the massive Lancome counter, which really took up half the store’s wall, and was looking at a mascara when the salesgirl girl said in her adorable French accent, “Oh can I help you?” I replied that I was just looking, but then she started showing me the new mascara that had a little bit of sparkle, and suggested strongly that I should try it. I started to hesitate, then she said “Come on on the chair!”

Hoping she didn’t have her heart set on me buying anything (financially struggling au pair remember!) she hesitated before she put it on and said “Oh don’t you want some eyeshadow first?!” So eyeshadow and liner was applied, then the fancy mascara. I think it must have been her translation, but in English it didn’t come out so well …. because every time she would do something she would smile and say “that’s better!” Um, thanks?
So my eyes were all made up, and paused, squinting, before saying “Non, non you need the skin done!” So after a few more “Yes that’s better, that’s better” (with little nods by the way) I was all made up (little too much blush for my liking, but oh well just got my makeup done free!) and trying to act like I was contemplating a purchase, then said I’d like the foundation number on a card so I could come back another time…maybe.  Many merci beacoups were shared and I was out, parading my new “better” face down the Champs-Élysées!

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