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I Heart Hrvatska – Plitvice Edition

We said a teary-eyed and bleary-eyed goodbye to Zagreb (it was 4am) and with our friends in tow, began to make our way across Croatia to Split on the bus.

On route we got off the bus on a long empty stretch of road fringed by woodland. In reality, we probably walked 100 metres but it felt like 4 km. I’m trying to keep my spirits up by oversmiling fakely.

We dropped our bags off and headed into Plitvice Lakes National Park. Then we weaved a path through hundreds of cascading waterfalls. It was mindblowing! I’d describe it as one part Jurassic Park (without the dinosaurs), one part that planet in Avatar (aka Fern Gully 2) and one part the Garden of FREEEEAKIN Eden.

I have a very suggestible bladder and the constant sound of rushing water meant I was always needing to pee. There are hardly any toilets and not a lot of privacy once you hit the waterfall walk. One suggestion would be to wear an adult nappy. Another would be to subtley wet your pants and try to pass it off as awkwardly placed sweat marks until it dries.

A moment captured in time. The first happy snap is me either taking my first steps… OR more likely running towards Ben for a photo. In the next shot, I’ve accidently and unknowingly kneed him in the gonads.

Love this girl.

We got turned around and had to run up the top of the hill to make our bus. It was worth the side-stitch, the wheezing and the  “Go on without me, save yourself” proclamations for this view though.

Waiting for the bus to Split was a seesaw of emotions. One minute, we’d convince ourselves we’d missed it,we’d never get to Split, the boat would leave without us. The next minute we’d fall into hysterical fits of laughter. (Top right) Someone found this rock which in colourful lettering reads: “It takes so long to get a bus here, we have been hacky sacking for an hour waiting, I hope you can read English. I just really want to be on the bus to Zadar” Sure, it was blantant vandalism but we placed a lot of hope into that flat little rock. That Olympic hacky sack team must have eventually gotten their bus because they weren’t there still waiting and neither were their skeletal remains.  Eventually the bus rounded the corner, we got on and all immediately fell asleep

 

Next time! The big one… SAIL CROATIA.

 

I Heart Hrvatska – Zagreb Edition

I bring you a belated part 2 chronicling how my specialmanfriend and I  got our wander on across Germany, Croatia, Bosnia and Austria. We say “auf wieder-something” to Berlin…  and “ne govorim hrvatski” (I don’t speak Croatian) to Zagreb, Croatia.

Zagreb is hot, leafy and kicks some Italian buttface in the icecream/gelati department.

Here I am in Zrinjevac Park, which we walk through to get to the centre of town. The park has a  fountain, a band pavillon and beds of flowers that look like kaleidoscope clouds. This park also boasts the highest number of kissing couples per capita of anywhere in the entire frickin world. In fact, pretty sure that fountain is running on their saliva alone. KISS ON, SEXYTOWN.

 

Ana and Dan took us to 22000 Milja, which is a bar masquarading as a submerged submarine complete with bubbles. You all know my penchant for bubbles.

 

The first known instance of doubleface was documented at this cute little fish restaurant up some secret stairs in Zagreb. Afterwards we took in this awesome view of the old town from the Lotrščak Tower, where an empty cannon fires at noon everyday. In time’s past, this alerted the bell-ringers of the city’s churches to get their chime on. Zagreb folklore also tells the story of the cannon being fired centuries ago, exactly at noon into a Turkish encampment of soldiers across the river. The cannon smacked a rooster right off its platter which was on route to feed the Turkish General. The Turks freaked, scattered and abandonned their plans to attack Zagreb. Pansies.

 

Here we are at Tolkien’s House – A Lord of the Rings themed pub. We drank delicious lemon beer and then moved on to the themed cocktail portion of the dusky evening – Dan ordered a “Bilbo’s first time” (A Bailey’s and Apricot liqueur shooter) and the very burly, beardy proprietor nearly coughed up a lung from laughter.

 

We move from bar to cafe to bar and this is actually how we see most of Zagreb.  It was on route to more caffeine that we meet this statue in Radiceva street at the Upper town entrance. This is the dragon slayer St. George (post slayage). Some hilarious person I wish was me had hung a string of near deflated balloons off his lance. When we see the statue , someone (possibly Ana, equally possible it was Mossy or Dan) says “I’ve killed the balloon monster!” and it was the best thing anyone had said, ever.

 

Here we are posing with the great big bronze ball (representing the sun) in Bogovićeva Street. It was made by the sculptor Ivan Kožarić in 1971.  In 2004 artist Davor Preis decided to secretly add in all the surrounding planets in a scale model of the solar system.  Preis never disclosed the locations of the planets, so discovering them turned into a game for people. Kind of like collecting Pokemon. GOTTA CATCH EM ALL – PLANETMON!

 

Great, now I have the Pokemon theme in my head. Thanks a lot, Croatia… Here’s a link to something that isn’t the Pokemon theme.

Next time: we visit heaven on earth, Plitvice Lakes National Park.

 

 

BER-ely-scratched-the-surface-LIN

My special man friend and I recently returned from a three week sojourn to Europe where we laughed and ate our way through four amazing countries. Although I would have liked to blog on the go, I was too busy enjoying myself. (Laziness is the moral obligation of all holiday makers!)

So here to start us off, is a salt-encrusted, cinnamon-dusted, chocolate-dipped aftertaste of Berlin.

There are so many unusual places to stay in Berlin, we didn’t limit ourselves to just one. The first 2 nights we spent in the Radisson Blu in the heart of the city. The  lobby of the Radisson sourrounds  the world’s largest circular aquarium (housing over 1500 tropical fish) which always bathed our hotel room in a weird blue light. We also took in the underwater views from the two-story glass elevator inside the aquarium itself which is where this photo was taken. The Raddisson also holds the title for the trip’s  best buffet breakfast. We totally peaked too soon.

 

The next two nights we spent in this light-filled loft room at the quirky  Michelberger Hotel in Friedrichshain. A 2 minute walk across the Spree river takes you  into the the Kreuzberg district (pretty much the birth place of the hipster) and along the largest remaining stretch of the Wall.

 

In order to justify six platefuls of buffet breakfasts each day, we usually skipped a sit-down lunch and made the most of Berlin’s awesome street food, snacking on currywurst and pretzels.

 

Most pretzel purchases were followed by eating the purchase into a crescent shape and posing for pretzel-smile photos in front of tourist attractions. Here’s one in front of the Reichstag, where German Parliaments met from 1894 to 1933 and again since 1999.

 

When there were no pretzels to hand, we usually fell back on that old standard, the jumping photo. Here’s one in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the only remaining town gate of Berlin.

 

The weirdest thing we did was visit an abandonned GDR-era amusement park, Spreepark in Treptower Park forest. It was caught halfway between a horror movie set and a really kitsch place to have a picnic.

 

 

The highlight was discovering this rickety old teacup ride just as it started to rain! (Sidenote: How cool would it be if there were jacuzzi tea cup rides?!)

 

The creepiest part was the creaking ferris wheel and the dinosaurs all keeled over and cracked open.

 

This one survived!

 

Berlin has been called ‘the graffiti Mecca of the urban art world’ which has helped the city to earn  a UNESCO’s City of Design nod. This was taken in an alley off Rosenthaler Straße, in the old Jewish quarter of Berlin. Check out Bubble Jesus!

 

No graffiti tour of Berlin is complete without a walk down the longest remaining stretch of wall, the Eastside Gallery in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. For me, the Cold War represents the most fascinating jigsaw piece of Berlin’s history. And the wall tells the story better than any history book – On one side of the wall, the free expression of democratic West Berlin, and on the otherside, the blank walls of repressed East Berlin. It blew my mind.

 

Here’s Dimitrji Vrubel’s picture of Brezhnev and Honecker kissing and auto-timer’s picture of Wallace and Smithett kissing.

Other Berlin favourites include the DDR Museum (an interactive exhibition about everyday life in East Germany) Tiergarten Park (the city’s largest park where everyone nudes up as soon as the temperature rises above 21 degrees) and Berlin Unterweldten (guided subterratean tours of historical Berlin).

Then after Berlin we flew to Zagreb, but that is a story for another day!

make dumplings, not war

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. (Actually, a sugarcoating would probably make them even tastier)   Gyoza dumplings are a total gateway drug.  If consumption goes unchecked, recreational use (such as eating dumplings socially with friends) can quickly spiral out of control…  and within months the user will be cutting gyoza with something harder (perhaps the dumpling’s equally addictive cousin crack cocaine).

Taken medicinally, gyoza can play an excellent nursemaid to a snot monster (lots of garlic, ginger and chilli to help boost the body’s natural cold defenses).

But how do you make these little silky crescents of awesome? Let’s explore.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Mince (Pork preferred, about 400g)
1x piece of ginger (Fresh and grated)
Garlic (2 teaspoons. I use the jar kind)
Spring Onion (Half a bunch)
Soy Sauce (2 tablespoons)
Olive Oil (1 tablespoon, stops mix from drying out)
Sesame Oil (Your call, but a little goes a long way. Use drops not spoonfuls)
Fresh chilli (As much you can handle)
One egg (binds the mixture)
Cabbage or Bean shoots (2 handfuls, chopped)
Circular Gyoza Wrappers (50 pcs)
(Try your nearest asian grocer for the pastry)

 

 

Step 1. Place all your wet ingredients (everything but the wrappers) in a sexy blue mixing bowl and mix well

Step 2. Place a tea-spoon sized amount of your mixture on the circular gyoza pastry

Step 3. Fold the gyoza wrapper over and start to 'pleat' the pastry closed as shown. Technique is easier with cute nails.

Step 4. Pleat all along the pastry seam and press down to secure the filling

Step 5: Have a ridiculously tall man cook the dumplings in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then drain and transfer to a hot pan to lightly brown all over. Leave on longer to crisp up the bum if you like crunch. (You like crunch)

(We ran out of camera battery here and had to resort to ye ole crappy iphone camera. Nice one Apple.)

After they were ready, we descended on them like hyenas and never took the wannabe food stylist shot.

Imagine they looked as good as this:

Chow down on these with a dipping sauce crafted from your preferred balance of soy sauce, chilli oil and fried up spring onions.

Gyoza you good thing!

do you think…

…that if someone (a hypothetical someone) bought these jeans and wore them… from a distance they’d look naked but completely devoid of genitalia?

(And maybe super wrinkly around the knees?)

 

World’s Greatest Themed Dining Experiences

After a mini sabbatical, Christie has shamed me into posting! Thank you, Christie for helping to bring the world my babble. Hope I’m not too rusty… let’s see…

I was reminicing about my time spent in Montréal today and was reminded of my friend Tom’s birthday spent at the very memorable O.Noir restaurant. At O.Noir, dining is experienced in complete darkness and the waitstaff are all legally blind. Because we were 21 year old girls and also a few wines in, we thought it would be hysterical if we all swapped clothes during the course of the meal to see if the boys in our group noticed our costume change when we were leaving. So we did. Ever delivered your order to a waiter topless? No, well then you haven’t lived….

…Wait, let me finish… you haven’t lived through the awkwardness. As I sat there, waiting for Erin to pass me her top, the waiter came over, put his hand on my naked shoulder (they do this to let you know they’re addressing you)  and asked me what I would like to eat this evening. He knew exactly what we were doing and wasn’t amused (or apparantly turned on… whatever, I give awesome shoulder). So I look back on that experience slightly mortified and haven’t returned to any themed restaurant since.

WILL THIS BE THE SINGLE  GREATEST REGRET OF MY LIFE?

Let’s have a look at what I would potentially be missing out on.

 

Calico Cat Café, Tokyo

Once thought to be an oddity and the refuge of lonely women cat fanciers, cat cafés are enjoying a renaissance in Japan. This is probably because Japan is full of high rise buildings which forbid pets and by extension joy…. so sitting a while, sipping on a cup of tea and indulging in some committment free HEAVY PETTING can’t be a bad thing.

 

Ninja New York, New York

A movie-set style secret underground labarinyth that calls itself a Japanese restaurant. Your ‘ninja’ servers ask you to decide between two routes to your table, the first, the ninja explains, is simple and direct. The second is “dark, dangerous and narrow,” involving a long tunnel and a drawbridge. YES A FRICKIN DRAWBRIDGE, SIGN ME UP.

 

 

Waterfall Restaurant, The Philippines

While trying to hold a conversation over the roar of the waterfall at Villa Escudero Resort in San Pablo City may be challenging, I’d begrudgingly forgo listening to the sound of my own voice to experience it. Post lunch dips in the clear spring water are also encouraged.

 


Baggers Restaurant, Germany

Channelling a pre-apocalyptic world, where in the years prior to rising up and exterminating humans, the hospitality industry has enslaved robotkind, comes Baggers of Nuremberg. This restaurant is run like a well-oiled machine because it actually is a well-oiled machine, where diners are waited on entirely by robots through an automated ordering and food delivery system.  I for one welcome our mechanical overlords.

 

Kayabuki Restaurant, Somewhere-ville Japan

Continuing on with the theme of waiterless dining we have Kayabuki Restaurant, where diners are served by monkeys. Dressed the part, tiny monkeys bring you drinks, hot towels and a dance show. I’m pretty sure that if the robot rebellion is quashed, we can look forward to serving our new ape masters.  Here’s a video. It’s all a bit uncomfortable.

 

 

 Titanic Theatre Restaurant, Melbourne

I do like to end these lists with a local attraction and so here is Melbourne’s own Titantic themed Theatre Restaurant located in Williamstown. Choose to dine in steerage, first class or at the captain’s table and hopefully the only iceburg you’ll hit will be the one at the bottom of your glass. Fingers crossed I’ll see in my 26th birthday here. I know you secretly read this blog Mumsy. Make it happen.

 

Cutest Old People of the Internet

Being grandparent-less, I like to get my old people fix where I can: Helping them cross the street, watching them take out their teeth to play shuffleboard… I once even took a cruise with my Mum and even with our cumulative ages we were the youngest “person”  there – IT WAS THE GREATEST 12 DAYS OF MY LIFE.

When not in the immediate company of  wrinkled living history, You Tube pays a glorious homage to them. Counting the best down from 10!

10. Greenscreen Grandmas

Grandma Millie and Grandma Fran are both trying really hard to be the cool grandma and outdo eachother with enthusiastic monkey noises… but you’re both winners, ladies. Okay?

9. Grandparents Discover Photo Booth

No words.

8. Did You Hear A Click?

A modern classic in the grandparents vs technology genre.

7. 90 Year Old Grandma Dances to Whitney Houston

This cute little granny is nearly completely blind and dancing wildly next to an expensive looking vase. Edge. Of. Your. Seat.

6. Grandparents Just Don’t Understand – Your Favorite Martian

This is a take-off of Kids React To Viral Videos…  but with grandparents. It’s like sitting through a sexy part of a movie with your parents.

5. 82  Year Old Trying Pop Rocks

“Don’t take pictures of me…” “Okay, Grandma.”

4. Ghost Riding Grandma

This is what happens when its school holidays and your parents drop you off to spend the day with your grandparents and they really really want you to like them so you’ll come back.

3. Webcam 101: For Seniors

The gold standard of grandparents vs technology YouTube videos. Highlight is around the 1.45 mark when Grandpa shows that some men don’t need a little blue friend to get them going.

2. 100 Year Old Bride

When Fred says, “It’s pretty hard to be blind,” we don’t know whether he’s referring to his eyesight or love at first sight. Both are adorable.

1. 81 Year Old Sweethearts Reunite After About 62 Years

This video made me bawl. Never stop believing in love, everyone. NEVER.

 

 

is he looking?!! is he!? pretend I just said something funny!

cats in wigs. google search of the week.

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no recession for the lemonade stand industry

Found myself parched in North Melbourne again on the weekend and happily stumbled on my favourite cavity in a cup, the neighbourhood lemonade stand.

(From “say hello to my little friend” blogpost fame)

Though business is clearly booming for Charlie* (his workforce has grown by 100%) frugality is still hard to shake, as evidenced by his complete lack of footwear.

Although hampered by supply issues (There were only 3 cups), the lemonade was as tasty as ever.

Despite this, the dining experience was marred by awkwardness. After I asked for a photo to mark the occasion and we walked back to car, I heard Charlie whisper to his friend “She comes sometimes…”

Like I’m some weirdo loser lemonade stand groupie…

….who keeps a blog about her citrus-soaked adventures…

 

*Still not his real name

Uptown Growl: The World’s Richest Pets

The other day, I heard about a beautiful man named Frank Samways who left his entire fortune of $3million to  the Melbourne Lost Dogs Home when he died in July last year.  This meant that the centre, which receives no government funding and has over its 100 year history faced imminent closure many times, can continue its great work giving a voice to animals without owners.

Then I started to think about the animals with owners… When the adoring bejewelled hand at the end of the can opener bites the big one,  what happens? Well readers, something ridiculous to blog about happens.

Gunther IV, a German Shepard, is considered by the Guiness Book of Records to be the world’s richest dog. In 1992, Austrian Countess Karlotta Lieberstein left Gunther IV’s Daddy, Gunther III a $124 million trust (Yep, G4 never met the old broad). Today, the trust has amassed over $300 million value. Gunther IV, who likes to be called Pimp Daddy successfully bid on Madonna’s Miami’s house (seriously) Apparantly, the whole house has been redecorated with doggy furniture and the kitchen redesigned for the preparation of Gunther IV’s favorite foods. He resides there with his live in caretakers, three women and two men who call themselves the Burgundians (pictured).

Gunther’s personal website (which is now conveniently under construction) previously espoused the following doggy philosophy:

 The experts contend that the company of young, joyful and sexually very active people operates to increase the drive, mood, alertness and other cerebral processes of the dog which in turn generates its happiness and, ultimately, better psychological health. Additionally, the company of these youngsters “pleases” the dog and brings him to fulfillment.

So, Gunther IV is basically a really rich old dude with a broken penis, a cocaine addition and an infinity pool who likes it when the neighbourhood kids come over and have sexytimes.

After Gunther, we have Kalu the Congalese chimpanzee.

Continuing the theme of highborn aristocrats who hate their real children and don’t want to leave them a dime, we have  Patricia O’Neill, the daughter of the Countess of Kenmore who found Kalu tied to a tree outside the home of the Argentinian Consul-General in war-torn Zaire. Patricia is married to Frank O’Neill, the former Australian Olympic swimmer. When Frank travelled to Sydney to see the Olympics in 2000, his wife changed her will to  to endow Kalu her entire £40 million fortune. (Just as a point of comparison, Michael Jackson left his chimp, Bubbles, $1 million…)

Clearly drowning in his own denail, Frank O’Neill says “Every time I swam in the pool, Kalu used to run up and down and hit me on the head, but we had a great relationship. The monkey also stole my cigarettes and drank my beer.” That sounds like some monkey, you guys. I can totally understand why you’d want to leave him all your family’s money.

Trouble Helmsley the Maltese Terrier also sowed some familial dischord when his raging bitch of an owner, Leona Helmsley bypassed her grandchildren to leave her poochie $6 million. The family appealed and reduced the trust to $2 million. Trouble lived in Florida with one of Helmsley’s business associates where he received numerous death threats. I imagine these had something to do with Trouble’s care expenses. His caretaker suggested that $2 million would support the dog for only 10 years—the annual $100,000 for full-time security, $8,000 for grooming, $1,200 for food, $18,000 for medical expenses and a $60,000 guardian fee. Oh okay, sure and I guess the remaining $128,000 would go towards A SHITLOAD OF CHEW TOYS?

Other pets on the rich list include Gigoo the hen who was left $10 million by publishing magnate, Miles Blackwell and a giant 52-year old tortoise called Silverstone who was left $100,000 (slow enough for an easy mugging I say).

 

 

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