Where in the World is Beaker and Org?

Thursday, 30 April 2015
Beaker is on the loose again! Here are some hints as to where Beaker went this trip:

1. He traveled outside of Australia

2. He traveled to an Asian country

3. The monkeys did not steal Beaker!

Beaker relaxing poolside

To find out where Beaker went click HERE! Let me know in the comments below if you were able to guess where Beaker went.

Until then keep in touch through my social media:

*I apologize for the delay in post recently. Moving, lack of internet, and a busy work schedule have all contributed. I will start posting more frequently again now that things have settled down!*


Returning Home Part 2: A Working Holiday in Orlando Florida

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The sole purpose of going to the States was so I could present at the ACJS conference in Orlando (meeting my nephew was an added bonus). A year ago, after presenting at the annual conference in Philly, I was informed the 2015 conference would be held in Orlando and knew I needed to submit work. I mean let's be real, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in Orlando... who wouldn't want to go? I always seem to forget that speaking in front of a bunch of people terrifies me! I can practice till the cows come home and obviously, I know what I'm presenting on after weeks and/or months of research, but no matter what I ALWAYS get nervous and make heaps of mistakes. I continue to force myself to speak at these conferences to overcome this fear. Clearly, it's still a work in progress. There was a somewhat relaxing element of this portion of the trip. On the days I wasn't at the conference, I spent time at Universal Studios Orlando and DisneyWorld. I LOVED going back to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for the first time in years! Like a good solid 10 years. It was nice to see that some things I could have sworn were on Disney rides, wherein the rides in DisneyWorld. I was also surprised at how many differences there were between Disneyland and DisneyWorld:
That terrifying moment when you realise your hands hit the top of the ride.
  1. There are different castles. Disneyland has Sleeping Beauty's, Castle. The main castle at Disneyworld is Cinderella's, Castle. But Rapunzel, Bell, and Ariel's castle are all visible at the Magic Kingdom.
  2. Tower of Terror is much more fun in Orlando. The ride is longer, you travel through the hotel, and its a bit more shocking.
  3. Rock n Rollercoaster in Orlando was one of the coolest roller coasters I've ever been on. Although California Screamin' is heaps of fun because it rockets you off at the start, Rock n Rollercoaster does the same, and you travel the whole ride in the dark. It's the more adult version of Space Mountain (and Space Mountain is freaking awesome).
  4. Space Mountain in Disneyland is MUCH MUCH better than the in Orlando. You can see the track throughout the ride in Orlando, takes away the shock value. Oh yeah, if you're tall, you WILL be able to touch the top of the ride. It's downright terrifying!
  5. There were subtle differences in the starts/finishes of rides. The wait in Orlando was much more pleasant. There's more to look at, and they have interactive games to help pass the time. Maybe it's the familiarity, but I like the setup of the rides in Anaheim better. 
Anyone who knows me is aware of my obsession with Disney however, my obsession with Harry Potter may be a bit stronger. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was my favourite part of the trip. Hats off to Universal for the Diagon Alley portion. You literally felt immersed in the world of Harry Potter. I preferred this side to the Hogsmeade/Hogwarts side. For those who are unaware, Universal Studios has two different parks. Hogsmeade/Hogwarts is in one. Because it was taking all the revenue from the other park, they built Diagon Alley and made the Hogwarts Express to connect you to the two parks

It was all the magicalness of Disney with the amazingness of Harry Potter. I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time we were there. I'm pretty sure the owl got lost with how frequently I moved while living in Cali because I should have gone to Hogwarts. The even more amazing part: you can freaking do magic! That's right, MAGIC! Certain wands allow you to perform certain spells throughout both sides of the park. It took all the restraint I had not to purchase one of these wands.
At the end of the day, I was shocked at how badly I wanted to go back to Australia after my stint in America. Seriously, American food tried to do me in. My body is still paying the price a month later! I am euphoric to be back in the place I now call home...Australia!

Have you ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or DisneyWorld before? What's your favourite part about visiting these magical places? Let me know in the comments below!

For more information about my time in the US be sure to read: Returning Home Part 1

Curious about the differences between Australia and the United States? Click here for: Moving to AUS  and differences between AUS and the US

And until next time...

Stay curious!

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Returning Home Part 1: Exploring California as a Tourist

I wasn't planning on going home within the first year of moving to Australia. The opportunity to present at a conference in Florida presented itself and let's be honest, who would pass up going to a conference in the same city as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? I also knew that going only to Florida wouldn't be an option, if I was in the States, I needed to see my family. Thus an SF, Detroit, Orlando holiday was born! 

San Francisco is probably one of my favourite cities in the world. I realise I haven't seen enough of the world to make this a fair comparison but of the places I have been, SF is a clear winner. Great to visit, would never live there. I love exploring this city. First stop after getting off the plane: In n Out. Lord have I missed In n Out! Is it the greatest burger you'll ever have in your life? No. Is it the greatest fast food burger you'll ever have in your life? Hands down, no questions asked YES!!! When you start having dreams about a fast food joint you know you may have a problem. My sista from another mista Marz made the trek up to SF to explore with us for a day. I was super happy that Janice made it up too! Here are some of the explorations we went on in SF:

  • Cable Cars
    : No trip to SF is complete without a ride on the historic Cable Car. There are a couple of different lines that run through San Fran. We caught the car a stop up from Union Square after stopping to take some pictures with the SF heart. We took the car all the way to Lombard Street (aka the most crooked street in the world). 
  • Lombard Street: We hopped off here and walked down the street to snap the iconic touristy shots. If you are in SF and have a car, definitely do the drive once in your life. It's extra fun if you drive a manual!
  • Ghirardelli Square & Hyde Street Pier: Marz, being the wealth of knowledge she is, was able to tell us heaps about Hyde Street Pier. When I see water, I get distracted like a dog seeing a squirrel, gravitating towards it like I'm going into the light. She was able to tell us all about the historic ship that was missing its masts. If you're into boats, it's a pretty cool place to see. If anything about the water fascinates you, you'll be just fine! We then walked up to Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli Square is a chocolate lovers dream! They handed out free samples of the chocolate, and you get to see the chocolatiers make the chocolate yumminess. This is also where we found Unicorn and Org!
  • Golden Gate Bridge: How can anyone go to San Fran and not see the Golden Gate Bridge? It would be like travelling to Egypt and not visiting the pyramids. We got the brilliant idea to walk from Ghirardelli Square to the Golden Gate. If you have about three hours to spare and like to walk, definitely worth the hike! The walk alongside the water is beautiful. There are also heaps of good people watching. 
  • Alcatraz: If you're planning on travelling to Alcatraz (the Rock) be sure to book it in advance. I've seen it book out almost a month prior. The Rock is fascinating to me. I was like a kid in a candy store exploring the cell block and other areas of the island. Due to the Ai Weiwei art exhibit being on display on the island, sectors that are usually off-limits were open to the public. My favourite: the hospital wing and psych ward. 
  • The Mission: What's better than Mexican food? Mexican food with your Big!! I could not have been happier that she was able to meet up with Ben and me for dinner and drinks! Didn't explore much in this area but would definitely go back and explore more the next time I'm in the area. 
  • Protein style 2x1 with grilled onions and no spread!
  • Livermore Outlets: Technically this isn't in SF. But seeing as shopping in Australia is INSANELY expensive, my wallet and closet needed the trip! Designer clothes at discount prices...its a win all around!
    Doing some hard time
*Please note all this was not done in one day. We spent about 4 days total in the San Fran area before flying to Detroit.*

This was supposed to be the "relaxing" part of the holiday. Time was going to be spent spoiling my nephew (who is the cutest little baby ever! Yea his cuteness has been documented...it's a scientific fact!) and seeing the rest of my family.
Spirit of Detroit
A few days were spent babysitting the handsome nugget. Although he is the most well-behaved baby I've ever seen, it was a lot of work. Lil nugget LOVES being held and seeing what everyone is doing. If he can't make direct eye contact with you, the wailing begins. Nugget also appears to really enjoy Aussie accents (hint hint come visit brother and sissy!). Along with heaps of family time, I got to enjoy awesome Polish food in Hamtramck, walk around Downtown and the Joe, and FINALLY see the Henry Ford Museum! I also got my snow fix for the next year!
Cars make me happy!
Have you ever been to San Francisco or Detroit? If so, leave some of your favourite experiences in the comments below! 
Until next time...
Stay curious!

Want to hear more about my trip to the states? Be sure to check out: Returning Home Part 2

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I'm Only Here for the Singapore Sling

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

View from our mate's place
One of the greatest things about living in Australia is the affordability of travelling around the region. It seems as though at least once a month one of the major airlines runs fantastic flight specials. It really amazes me how I can fly to another country/continent for MUCH cheaper than a round trip from SF to Detroit. Hell, I've even seen overseas flights less expensive than a roundtrip flight from SF to LA. So naturally how could anyone pass up on such an opportunity? Also, Australia is much better than the US with annual leave and allowing their employees to take their earned vacation time without feeling like the company will collapse in their absence. Seriously America, stop working people to death! Take a page from Australia's book and fix it! There's a difference between hard work & determination and burnout & exhaustion. Getting back on track....a Singapore getaway manifested.

Day 1:

Burning calories while on holiday
Singapore was just as I pictured. It was also incredibly humid. I wrongly assumed it would be similar to the humidity in Bali but not even close. Singapore humidity puts Florida humidity to shame! I was pretty surprised how similar Singapore was to America. I was able to find a lot of American foods that I haven't been able to see in Australia. Plus the shopping! Holy freaking cow! Although the prices were not as fantastic as the deals you can find in America, there were so many familiar brands. Singapore also likes to be fancy with its Prada, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, etc. There were quite a few excellent shopping strips suitable for any shopaholic. 

Day 2:

Palawan Beach, Singapore
Naturally, the holiday wasn't spent shopping. I did, however, have a massive haul at Forever 21. There isn't one in AUS, and I'm not entirely sure why. It was my go-to store for basics. One of our Singapore destinations was Sentosa Island. The island has some fantastic beaches, Universal Studios Singapore, Dolphin Island, heaps of other attractions, golfing, spas, and resorts. We wanted a beach day so strictly stuck to the beach whilst on the island.

Woohoo! We made it!
The island is also the location of the southernmost point of Continental Asia. There's a neat little bridge that takes you over to a fantastic lookout which leaves you with this view: 

Southernmost Point of Continental Asia
The island also gives you access to plenty of playgrounds. So naturally, we did what every grown, mature adult would do...Act like a bunch of 5-year-olds... 

SpiderBen, SpiderBen

Day 3:
No trip to Singapore would be complete without a trip to the Raffles Hotel's famous Long Bar for a Singapore Sling. The Hotel: amazingly beautiful; The Bar: felt like somewhere Indian Jones would randomly show up; The Drink: Insanely refreshing in the hot, humid weather and not as fruity as I imagined. I'm not a fan of fruity drinks but could easily throw back a couple Singapore Slings on a hot day. That night we made our way over to the Night Zoo. The idea behind the night zoo is that the animals would be more active because the weather is colder. Yea...not so much. Still just as hot, still lazy animals. 
Sleepy, sleepy kitty
Long Bar, Raffles Hotel

Final Day
Dancing in the pouring rain
Our last day was spent avoiding the rain and grabbing a drink on a boat. And by on a boat I mean, a boat that's built on the top of three massive buildings. I must admit, I had the most magnificent time dancing in the rain on a rooftop garden at one of the temples. I'm really hoping that what I was doing wasn't offensive. The guards up there didn't seem to be too fussed. 

I really enjoyed my time in Singapore! Not only was the country amazingly clean (seriously it's like the Disneyland of countries) but the culture was amazing. If I wasn't living in Australia, I feel it would have taken me much longer to visit Singapore. I cannot wait to visit Singapore in the future!
Until next time...
Stay curious!


Quokka Quokka: What to do When You Only Have 72 Hours in Perth

Australia is a vast country. It is the 6th largest country in the world but only 10% of the country is termed habitable. My ignorant American-self assumed travelling around Australia would be much easier than travelling around the US. HAHAHA that was a joke and a half. Luckily flights domestically in Australia are significantly cheaper than flights domestically in the US. This prompted my Australian domestic adventures. 

Back in January, I took a trip outside of Victoria to Western Australia. The extended weekend getaway was spent in Perth, Margaret River, and Rottnest Island. The trip was filled with beaches, wine tasting, and adventure. My flight got in late, so I stayed at a place close to the beach. Morning walks on the beach before a few days of wine tasting was just was the doctor ordered. 

Starting the day off right!

If you're ever in Perth, I highly suggest taking the drive down to Margaret River. Whether you're into great surf beaches, wine tasting, or a quieter atmosphere, Margaret River is stunning and a MUST SEE! It was approximately a three-hour drive from Perth, with a whole lot of nothing to see for most of the drive. Fret not my friends! Simply put together a killer playlist and the time will fly by.

Surf's Point, Margaret River, Perth

The getaway villa was A-MAZ-ING!!! Words can not describe how relaxing and amazing this place was. Getting to any form of civilization (other than wineries) takes about 20 minutes. My advice, stop at the market beforehand if you want a late night snack. Most areas closed before 6 pm as Margaret River is still not a massive tourist area. As long as you're properly prepared, the seclusion from the world is incredible. I imagine (whether it's accurate or not) Margret River being like Napa Valley way back in the day. 

The Villa
The room
I was just a little excited.
The wineries were just as stunning as the villa. I'd been searching for a Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes similar to a Napa Cab. I've had to settle with Cab/Merlot blends from South Australia and Victoria. Margaret River is where I found such a Cab. And....(drum roll please)... I found a couple of white wines I thoroughly enjoyed! It was so much fun getting to try different Australian wines. I hate to admit it, but I had become a bit of a wine snob (thanks dad). Pushing myself to try wines outside of my normal Napa favs was awesome. Now I love Aussie wines! 

Some Aussie pride
One of the fantastic vineyards
My last day was spent at Rottnest Island. The island did not disappoint. There's heaps of snorkelling, surfing, and cycling. There's also the cutest little rodent things I've ever seen in my life, Quokkas. They're basically a rat/wallaby hybrid. As they have the appearance of a New York Subway rat, I was quite surprised to see the little guys hop like wallabies! These are the little creatures taking the internet by storm. They take the perfect selfies! That is if you can manage to get close enough to them. Don't let a ranger catch you trying to sneak them a cheeky snack. It will result in a fine. 

Snorkelling around Rottnest Island
Couldn't pass up on this photo op. 
As most of the trip was spent in Margret River, I did not get to explore Perth as much as I would like. I did spend a day in Freemantle but it was used more as a recovery day than an exploration day. Things to do when I eventually make it back to Perth: explore the CBD, surf at Surf's Point, swim with the Whale Sharks and explore Fremantle. 

Until next time...
Stay Curious!

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Exploring The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island

Come with me, friends! I'll teach you how to penguin! 

This magical moment happens every night on Phillip Island. If you live in Melbourne, you don't have to travel all the way to Phillip Island to witness it, but it sure is worth it. Every night these little floofs waddle their way from the treacherous seas after a long day of fishing, to snuggle in for the evening. You would think watching penguins returning to their home would not be that exciting. However, it's just like watching a bunch of puppies running around gleefully (if you pretend this does not bring you happiness and joy you're a liar, and we can't be friends). I was beyond spoiled to have one of my first Australian dates here and had to share the experience with a friend when she came to visit.

Phillip Island Penguin Parade June 2014
Tip #1: It seems regardless of the time of year, the Penguin Parade will be COLD!  I assumed going during summer would mean I didn't have to dress as though I was visiting the Arctic; boy was I wrong!! We ended up making a pitstop so that I could buy a pair of pants. By some miracle, the only store open happened to sell sweatpants. Were they the most fashionable sweatpants, no. But they did their job of keeping me somewhat warm. Be prepared and bring a blanket and a towel. The bleachers can get a bit damp and sitting in wet clothes is never a fun experience. 

Definitely bundle up!

Tip #2: If you're going during peak season (i.e. summer), get there at least 30 minutes early. There will be heaps and heaps of people/buses. Getting there early ensures you will get the best view possible. I would recommend sitting at along either side end of the bleachers. This will give you a clear view of the penguins returning home. Unless you're down to get a little wet, I would avoid sitting on the beach or the lower section of the bleachers. Depending on the time of year, the tide can rise quite a bit. 

Wallaby looking a bit lost

Tip #3: Don't spend all your time watching the penguins coming in from the water. Some of the best, up close views are on the walk back to the car park. This is probably my favourite part! It becomes increasingly tempting to "leave" your purse laying around in hopes one little guy will waddle in and BAM! pet penguin. You quite literally walk alongside with the penguins as they head home. It's adorable and will melt your heart.

Venturing in from the sea
Let's all say it together...."aaawwww!!"
As a final warning, you're not allowed to use flash photography while enjoying the Penguin Parade. I've seen quite a few people get yelled at while attempting to photograph the penguins. Before the start of the penguin parade, you are allowed to snap photos. Just be respectful and listen to the rangers. I'm sure you wouldn't enjoy having a bright flash going off in your eye while you were trying to escape death on your way home. If you can't resist snapping a photo, and don't get caught by the rangers, please make sure there is no flash on your phone. But try to refrain and just enjoy the moment. 

And until next time...
Stay curious!