Tag Archives: wedding

Tokyo, 2016: Ueno and Harajuku

It was raining, so we decided to go to the Tokyo National Museum. A museum is always a good wet weather plan and this one was top of the list as it has a collection of samurai swords and armour, which I knew my husband, would be keen to see.

The metro system was fast, efficient and we figured it out fairly quickly. The only downside was we sometimes had to walk a long way to transfer between lines. I amused myself by looking at the manga style advertisement posters on the walls and the practiced power nappers in the trains.

There was a highly organised stand outside the museum for all the umbrellas. Inside, I was drawn to the beautiful kimonos, room divider screens that told a story with pictures and the unusual tea sets. My daughter loved the kids stamping section and couldn’t get enough of it.

Outside the museum, we discovered that it was set in Ueno-Koen Park with the famous Ueno craft market that had been recommended to us. There were teapots of all shapes and sizes, colourful wooden chopsticks and other cooking pots and implements.

Next we went to Harajuku as I thought my daughter would enjoy the teenage haven. Takeshita-dori was packed and had lots of cute shops with novelty items for kids like the Paris Kids shop where my daughter got an umbrella with a rabbit head, some hairclips of fruit and sunglasses with rabbit ears.

Locals come to Harajuku for crepes and rainbow fairy floss, but we came to see the teenagers dressed up. However, not many were, just a few girls dressed in short skirts and high shoes. Which led to the question- where have all the Harajuku girls gone? Probably elsewhere to escape the tourists. The store staff at the lolly shop were dressed up the most with their cat ears for Halloween.

We had lunch at a local restaurant and then went over Harajuku Bridge to Meiji-jingu- Tokyo’s grandest shrine. The old wooden gate popped out of the oasis of green trees. It got a wow out of me- this was what I had come to Japan to see. The walk to the shrine was one of welcoming cool in the busy city.

There were lots of families in kimonos and their Sunday best, clapping when they pray. There was the massive wishing tree and the marriage trees tied together by a rope with lightning bolts. We also stumbled upon a wedding procession. The bride was still in white, but had a strangely shaped hat.

For dinner we went to the closest neighbourhood restaurant for Hantei skewers of pork. The chef of the restaurant was also our waiter. He thought we tipped too much, but it was so delicious, that it made me wonder, why is it bad manners to tip in Japan?

Related posts: Japan, 2016

10 things to do in Melbourne

As a Sydneysider, I am conditioned to think that Sydney is better than Melbourne. As much as I love Sydney, I still enjoy visiting Melbourne and can appreciate the city for its differences. Be it for a girls weekend, a wedding, a couples retreat, or to visit cousins- I’ve always had a good time in Melbourne-town.

First of all, the shopping in Melbourne is better than Sydney. It has the flagship H & M store, which is bigger than any that I have seen anywhere else and they have the few remaining Mango shops in Australia. Chapel St also has few more different fashion options.

I love shopping in the little laneways like the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade with Suga- a shop where you can see them roll out and make yummy lollies. My favourite jewellery shop, The Rose Garden on the Walk Arcade, is where I bought all my wedding jewellery and accessories.

The next best thing about Melbourne is the shows. The theatre district near Chinatown always has a great blockbuster like Chicago or Avenue Q, sometimes before they make it to Sydney.

The beautiful National Gallery of Victoria is my top sight seeing pick. I was lucky enough to catch the Degas exhibit last time I was there- one of my favourite artists. The water-featured entry way always gets me straight away and the modern layout is spacious and light.

The Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is also fantastic. The wonderful Emperor Penguins make it better than Sydney Aquarium, especially as they still have a shark tunnel.

Another good spot is the huge Fitzroy Gardens complete with Captain Cook’s Cottage. Melbourne loves its English style parks, and this one is my top pick.

Melbourne is known for its great restaurants from world class fine dining, to the Italian precinct on Lygon Street and casual laneway dining experiences like the Meatball and Wine Bar and Touche Hombre. All delicious!

It is also renowned for its serious café culture. And I must admit that these Melbourne-ites know how to elevate a café to the next level. My recent top pick is #hash with its signature hot chocolate science experiment served with fairy floss.

My favourite suburb in Melboure is St Kilda. It has the original Luna Park, the famous Esplande Hotel where they filmed The Secret Life of Us, the Beachcomber Café at St Kilda Baths and the weekend markets. I was lucky enough to live and work here for a couple of months and play the local, catching a tram into the office everyday.

With the newly renovated Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and me working on the conference circuit, there was another year that I went to Melbourne a lot. It was good as to discover the adjoining Southbank area with the Crown Casino and Rockpool Bar and Grill, both of which I rate better than their Sydney counterparts.

And of course the DFO is right near the convention centre for any last minute shopping emergencies, like suddenly finding out that you need to attend networking drinks at the Old Melbourne Goal.

And then there’s the tennis. Even this non-sports-lover has to admit that watching the tennis in Melbourne for the weekend was atmospheric; and I didn’t even get bored.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, Small town vs Big city

Dolphin Swim in Hawaii, 2014

The one thing that I definitely wanted to do while I was in Hawaii for my bestie’s wedding was swim with wild dolphins. I had previously had a Sea World dolphin experience with my bestie, where we had swum with trained dolphins, but I still really wanted to make contact with the animals in their own habitat, where it was their choice if they wanted to approach you. A few of the others had swum with manta rays at night, but this didn’t appeal to me, it was the dolphins that I wanted.

We took a boat trip out of Honokohau Harbour. It was lovely to get out on the water and get a perspective of the coastline and all the places I had seen while I had been here. We saw Kona town, Mokuaikaua Church, the bungalows where we were staying plus other mountains and beaches I had not seen on land.

In the water we saw manta rays, whales and of course lots of dolphins. I couldn’t wait to get in the water with them. We put on our snorkels and dove in. We swam next to a pod of Spinner dolphins and the first thing I noticed was that they were very fast! It was very calming floating above them and they weaved around below us, but also very tiring swimming in open ocean.

Back on the surface, the dolphins weren’t tired at all and seemed very fond of performing jumps, spins and flips. It was a wonderful experience and I was so glad that I had been able to have it along with my bestie’s parents, her new husband, Janeen and her boyfriend.

After the boat docked, it was time to leave for the airport for some last minute shopping on the big island before an overnight stay in an airport hotel in Oahu and an early morning flight back to Sydney and my little family.

Although being away from my husband and daughter had been strange, I wouldn’t have missed my bestie’s special day for the world and it also inspired the idea for us to take a child-free girls trip at least once a year no matter where we were in the world.

Related posts: A Hawaiian Wedding, 2014, Hawaiian Road Trip, 2014, Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014, USA, 1990

 

A Hawaiian Wedding, 2014

I had never been a bridesmaid before, despite having attended 50 weddings; so it was awesome to be asked by my bestie, have a dress and jewellery bought for me and get my hair and make up done. Most of all, I felt incredibly honoured to be a part of my bestie’s special day and to have the opportunity to feel like a part of her fantastic family.

The day of the wedding, it was raining. There had been talk among the locals of a 50-year storm that had been brewing, but I really hadn’t paid much attention until then. But raining it was, with waves so high, they were crashing over the sea wall onto the area reserved for the ceremony and reception.

Panic ensued, as well as a trip to Walmart to see if we could stock up on umbrellas, gumboots and tarps. With the ground soaked through and the waves and rain showing no sign of abating, the groom put in a call to the bride to postpone the wedding until the next day. My bestie took it quite well all things considered.

Being housebound due to rain, the evening turned into a pre wedding party with much drinking and dancing- Australian style. The groom was an Aussie after all, so there were enough of us around to take control of the tunes.

Wedding day take two went much more according to plan. The beauty team returned to make us all look more beautiful than we already were again and there was pre ceremony photos and champagne for the ladies of the wedding party.

The sun was out and the waves were still curling beautifully, but not too big; except for that one where my bestie, my bestie’s sister Janeen and I were taking sunset photos with our back to the ocean and it sneaked over the wall, making us run!

The ceremony was lovely and the guests were few enough that we could all fit on one long table under chandeliers for the reception. Dinner included gazpacho and lobster with an ice cream station- definitely my kind of desert.

It rained a little on the dance floor, but that didn’t stop anyone. Some of the wedding party ended up jumping in the pool, including the bride and her two bridesmaids. Hair and make up came out unscathed and the party continued – now that’s value for money.

Related posts: Hawaiian Road Trip, 2014, Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014, Canada, 2011, Fiji, 2011, Destination Thailand, 2010, The Seven Year Itch

Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014

My first solo trip in many years was when my bestie got married in Hawaii and asked me to be a bridesmaid. Leaving my one year old at home with my husband for 8 days, I flew to Kona on the big island of Hawaii via Oahu.

Most of the wedding party was staying in a few private bungalows on the property where the event itself was to be held. It was strange to be travelling alone again and it took me a while to get used to only having to feed and cloth myself again. But before long I fell back into old habits, heading to my bestie’s parents house every morning to be fed breakfast. Unfortunately I never really got out of the habit of waking up early.

The bride and groom to be were staying in the main bungalow with large living areas, a pond with koi and a pool with spa. Most importantly, the house backed onto the ocean with a sea wall separating the garden from the rocks and waves. This is where both the ceremony and reception was to be held.

My bestie is a master of décor having renovated many houses around the world as they moved around for work; so the main house was also being utilised as decoration making central. Everything from the hair pieces to the table settings was made with the love and care of many helping hands.

The verandah off the main bungalow was utilised for social gatherings and sunset watching and what beautiful sunsets they were. Living on the east coast of Australia, I relished the opportunity to see the sun dipping into the water just as it should be.

There were some small markets across the road from the bungalows where you could buy food for lunches and souvenirs. I purchased a t-shirt for my husband and the cutest little blue Hawaiian dress for my daughter, with a matching flower bracelet of course.

After the sunset on my first night, a few of us walked to the Royal Kona Beach Resort for dinner. The hotel looked like a cruise ship pointing out to the ocean, affording fabulous ocean views from Don the Beachcomber Restaurant which specialised in Mai Tai’s.

With only 30 or so guests attending the wedding and everyone arriving a week or more earlier, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with some like the groom, my bestie’s sister Janeen and her boyfriend; and meet others like my bestie’s brother Chris’s new girlfriend and the groom’s best friends who would make up the other half of the bridal party.

Related posts: USA, 1990It’s a South Pacific Thing, The Seven Year Itch

It’s a South Pacific Thing

The South Pacific has been largely romanticised by the musical of the same name. As an Aussie, I feel like the South Pacific is not so much of a novelty as it close by and therefore accessible.

It is also cheap and an easy beach holiday destination with built in babysitting services for families. Of course, some may be more expensive than others. Any island carries higher prices on food due to transport, which is why you may choose to stay on the mainland when visiting Fiji.

The South Pacific has also become one of the places to go for a destination wedding with 5 star resorts catering to every need.

Personally, I like the friendly people, having a cocktail in the pool bar and the beautiful sunsets.

But what do you do when the weather is bad?

This happened to us on a trip to New Caledonia- it rained all week. So we focused on the food and indoor activities such as shopping and museums.

And of course there are other cultural experiences you can partake in like visiting a cultural village, drinking cava and experiencing the local market.

In more developed islands such as Oahu and Hawaii, there are so many activities to choose from that it’s hard to pick no matter what the weather is like.

The South Pacific is about palm trees, drinking out of fresh coconuts and listening to the ukulele. It’s scuba diving, poolside time and smelling the Frangipani’s.

Sliding down a waterslide, visiting a waterfall and watching as the night time torches get lit. It’s bright tropical colours, shell necklaces and endless lazy days.

Crazy cool resorts like the famous ones in Bora Bora and Vanuatu plus lots of little islands I’ve never even heard of.

And of course, you could always fall in love and have a real South Pacific story of your own.

Related posts: Fiji, 2011, Fiji, 2008

Canada, 2011

In the Canadian summer of 2011, I travelled to White Rock, Canada to attend my cousin Kate’s wedding. It was important to me to be there as despite the distance of where we both lived, we were the only girls on the side of the family, so were close.

The wedding was held at my aunt and uncles place with a view of the water. Many friends and family had come from all over the world to attend. I had arrived a few days before the wedding, so had time to catch up with Kate- we even fitted in dancing and a movie.

I also met my cousin Glen’s girlfriend at the time, Tara. We got along well and had pre wedding manicures together. My cousin Jay and his family had flown in from Australia too, so it was a full house buzzing with preparations including marquee and stage building.

I caught up with Celina on my first night there over too many red wines at the local pub. She had a toddler now, so it was lovely to meet him and go for ice cream on the seafront on another day.

One night, Jeanette picked me up and we went over to Celina’s place for dinner. I was impressed to learn that Jeanette had started a successful business of her own.

The garden wedding itself was held on a bright sunny day. It started in a beautiful Apex shaped church and ended in dancing, party crashers and a bit too much wine.

It was great to see Geoff and Genevieve there, who now had two boys, and catch up with the groom, Ben, and meet his family. My personal favourite touch were the table centres that were formerly grandmother’s teacups.

I left the day after the wedding to catch the bus to Seattle and an internal flight to visit my bestie in her hometown of Nebraska for 4th July. I had never been to an Independence Day celebration and was very much looking forward to the experience.

Related posts: New Year’s Eve on the Island, 2007Christmas in Canada, 2007, Canada, 2005, Canada, 2002, Canada, 1997-1998, Canada, 1997, Canada, 1990, It’s a Canadian Thing

Fiji, 2011

When we were thinking about where to go on our annual holiday, my husband and I had decided upon South America. Then my friend Marnie announced she was getting married in Fiji and we changed our plans to go to Mexico instead. It was one of the best decisions we ever made, not only because we got to attend the wedding of a friend, but because Mexico turned out to be one of the best destinations we have ever been to.

Second time around at Denarau, we stayed at the Sheraton. We discovered the advantage of staying on the peninsula when I found that we were able to use any of the pools at any of the other resorts in the area, as well as eat at any of their restaurants.

The wedding party were staying next door at the Sheraton Villas and most of the guests were staying in nearby hotels, so each night we had a ready-made group of friends to go dining with. Apart from a few mutual friends of the bride that we were already acquainted with, we struck up a new friendship with Dan and Susie, an English couple who were friends of the groom.

Most days were spent lazing at the pool and the beach drinking champagne or cocktails. My friend Vanessa had brought her daughter and there were others who had children, so there was always someone at the pool. The sunsets on the beach were just as lovely as I remembered and the pool bars were even more fun this time around.

The day before the wedding, my husband went for a scuba dive and I went for a manicure and checked out the church that was to be used for the ceremony. It was a beautiful tiny white washed chapel perched on a point looking out into the ocean.

The day of the wedding dawned sunny and the guests were all the colours of the rainbow in their bright holiday dress. Sunset cocktails on the beach were followed by the reception at Flying Fish restaurant with more drinks, speeches and lovely seafood. The dance floor at Chime Bar was packed that night!

Related posts: Fiji, 2008, The Seven Year Itch