Monthly Archives: August 2014

Melbourne VS Sydney – Best of Australia Series Part I

I have been asked by friends and even strangers to share my recommendations for what to do in Australia for a few weeks. A few caveats, we did not get to every city nor did we see all there is to see in Australia by any stretch of the imagination. So I can only comment and share the highlights of what we did and what we saw. 

I have to admit that I loved living in the Central Business District (CBD) of Melbourne. [Note: Australian and New Zealanders call their downtowns CBD.] Where we lived meant we could walk to anywhere in the CBD and because the city has an excellent public transit system, we had access to everywhere in the whole metropolitan area. Melbourne is a major international city that is still very livable and very easy to visit. In fact Huffington Post just named Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city. 

I highly recommend visitors to Australia spend some time in Melbourne. And I mean spend time there, don’t schedule up every minute running around the city seeing museums (although the museums there are world class) or seeing the sites (although there are some very fun sites to see) but rather have some down time to explore. 

If you go to Melbourne, stay in the CBD so that you can soak in the atmosphere. It is a walkable city and there are plenty of wonderful places to explore. I took several walking tours while living there recommend MelTours. We took their Laneway Tour early on in our stay in Melbourne and it was fantastic. There are hundreds of laneway and alleyways in Melbourne with all sorts of shops and sites and art work to see. There is no way anyone can see them all, but it doesn’t matter as we found this walking tour excellent. I took several of their other tours and they were also good.

Walking Tour

 

It is important to note that almost every major Australian city has walking tours, including free ones. I did not attend any of the free ones, but I saw them everywhere with huge crowds, easily 40 to 50 people on the tours (even in the rain!). The tours I paid to attend never had more than 15 to 20 people, sometimes even smaller. My bias is in favor of the smaller more intimate tours and I believe you get what you pay for.

My favorite street in Melbourne was Bourke Street. In the middle of the CBD, Bourke Street is closed off to cars. Almost every afternoon and evening there are several different bands who set up on the corners and play live music. I loved walking around and listening to musicians play their various styles of music to the crowds walking through town.

I loved spending time wondering the aisles of the Queen Victoria Market. In fact I did almost all our grocery shopping. It is acres of shopping where you can buy fruit, vegetables, meats, chicken, fish, souvenirs, clothing, shoes and more. I planned my days and my weeks around its hours so that I could take advantage of the wonderful organic foods offered there.

No trip to Melbourne is complete without a word about coffee. I am not sure why Melbourne has such excellent coffee, but it does. And their specialties are espresso drinks. It is almost impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne, really! CNN names Melbourne one of the Worlds 8 Great Coffee Cities. I have since learned that there are now walking tours of the great coffee shops in Melbourne. One of my favorite things to do was to Google best coffee shops in Melbourne CBD and then walk to whatever shop came up on top that day. Be warned that Australians have different names for espresso drinks than we do. Here is a guide to ordering coffee in Australia.

The other major city in Australia is Sydney. I spent several days there. We stayed at the Park 8 Hotel in the Sydney CBD that I found on Trip Advisor. We spent a little bit more to get a real window versus frosted glass. While there I wandered their CBD, took walking tours of the Rocks (the old part of the European settlement), ventured out to Bondi beach and climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Now the Bridge Climb is expensive, but it was worth it. Unless you are absolutely terrified of heights it is not to be missed. I was nervous beforehand, worrying about it being too hard or too scary, but it wasn’t. It was thrilling and beautiful!

Sydney

Just like most people have a preference between San Francisco and Los Angeles, many people have a favorite between Melbourne and Sydney. I admit I am biased in favor of Melbourne (and prefer SF too!). I enjoyed my time in Sydney, but frankly it felt like any international city in the world. With the exception of the historic Rocks area, the city felt like it could have been in any country in the world. But Melbourne has a unique Australian flavor. When they modernized the city, they kept enough of the historic character of the city so that you have a strong sense of the past as well as the present, something Sydney did not do well in my opinion.

Bottom line: If I had a limited time in Australia, I would skip Sydney and spend more time in Melbourne as well as some of the other wonderful places in Australia. More on those places next time.

Sydney2 Melbourne

Do you have a preference between Sydney and Melbourne? 

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Parents are Human too

Only one more week until our daughter goes back to university and we will be empty nesters once again. It has been great having her around as I adjust back to USA living after our 5 months in Melbourne, Australia.

I think that the two of us were a bit nervous about how the summer would go. Sometimes we get along wonderfully and sometimes not so much. At the beginning of the summer, she joined us for our last three weeks of down under living. It was great fun showing her ‘our’ Melbourne. We enjoyed taking her wine tasting (drinking age is 18 in Australia!), hanging out on Hamilton Island by the Great Barrier Reef and island hopping in Indonesia. Toward the end I think that she was ready to come home and see her friends. Traveling alone with your parents when you are 18 is not always a ton of fun.

A windy day visiting Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach by the Great Barrier Reef

A windy day visiting Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach by the Great Barrier Reef

Once back in CA we fell into a nice rhythm, well as much as a rhythm as I can find given that I was away four different times in the last 2 ½ months. In fact it was my daughter who held down the fort, taking care of the cats and working regular hours.

Of course we had our moments as we figured out how to live together after her 9 months of independence away and our time alone in our home. This involved the obligatory moment of craziness when we insisted that she tell us where she is going and with whom even though, as she correctly pointed out, we have no idea what she is doing while she is away at school.

I was forced to share that dirty little secret with her that most parents put off until their kids grow up: parents are human and we are not always rational.

It would have helped if I had shared this before all the shouting and door slamming, but once I figured it out, she was able to understand that our caring and needing to know isn’t a statement about her as much as it is about us. Learning to see our parents as human beings and figuring out that we are not the center of their universe is a part of the growing up process. And she is well on her way—so much more so than I was at her age.

And so we are sending her off next weekend, for her second year of university. She will live in a different time zone, different climate and once again begin her strident march of independence. This year she and two friends will be living in an apartment on campus, and thus will be even more autonomous.

Last weekend she and I were having a coffee at Peet’s, when a parent of a toddler next to us, remarked that she couldn’t imagine her son moving across the country for college. And it made me remember that her being able to go so far away is a sign of our success as a family. Roots and wings is not just a pithy comment, it is one of the goals or values of how my husband and I brought up our kids.

We want them grounded and independent. We want them to be able to find their way in the world, knowing that they came from a loving family. We want them to be able to move across the country with excitement and we want to be able to put them on that plane knowing that they are prepared. And so it goes.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Pregnant With Possibilities, While Embracing the Unknown

Every path taken leads somewhere, and sometimes we have a clear idea of where we are headed.

Stone path in Bali down to the sea.

Stone path in Bali down to the sea.

Every door opened means a door not taken, choices not made, and options not available to us.

Doors in Bali leading to one of the most beautiful places we have ever stayed.

Doors in Bali leading to one of the most beautiful places we have ever stayed.

For most of my life I have had a plan. Of course, the end results have not always ended up as planned,
but that has been okay, part of the adventure.

 For example, when I took a summer job to help out my father in 1980,
I had no idea that a few years later we would start a company together,
teaching me how to create a business with little or no capital.  And that would lead me to starting several businesses over the years,
including a strategy consulting practice to help other business owners, and to writing a book that became an Amazon bestseller!

 Another example of a plan with unexpected results is
I had no idea when I gave birth
24 years ago, last week, to my son that it would lead me to
working with La Leche League
for over 23 years changing not only my life and his
(and my daughter’s a few years later),
but also the lives of countless other breastfeeding
mothers and their babies.

 Having a plan has been a comfort,
something to lean on, and carry me forward.

 I am not sure where my journey is heading, what my future looks like.
I have no ‘plan’ in mind, no goal to achieve.
But this time, instead of freaking out with fear, I
am embracing the mystery

of the unknown with open arms, and without anxiety or alarm.

Sloss - 35 Hiking pathPath on a hike in Wineglass Bay, Tasmania—one of the
loveliest places on the planet.

Because we changed plans mid-hike, we ended up on this beautiful path that led us to this:

Sloss - 35 Day beach

Perspective is everything. Years ago, not knowing where I am heading,
or having a plan—with contingencies—would have been stressful to me.
But today, instead of stress, I feel calm.
My life feels pregnant with possibilities, and this excites me.

From our hotel in Labuan Bajo, on Flores Island in Indonesia.

From our hotel in Labuan Bajo, on Flores Island in Indonesia.

 Sunrise or sunset, does it matter?  I love this view!
Sloss - 35 Hurry slowly

How do you approach your future? Mapped out with plans?
Or flinging yourself out into the unknown,
confident that it is going to work out for you?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Yoga of Patience – not my strong suit, but I’m trying!

Monday was one of those days. You know, a day when nothing goes right.

I started my day writing, and that went well. Next on my to-do list was online banking. But when I attempt to make a deposit using my phone—something I have done many, many times—the app doesn’t work. 25 minutes later, after a phone call to tech support, the money is finally in my account. But what should have taken less than five minutes took five times that.

Then I decide to call FedEx to fix problems with my account. Again, what should have taken less than 10 minutes took way too long. After 45 minutes (my phone has a timer) and four different employees, I hung up, no closer to having my account problems solved, and was now running late for my first appointment.

First off was the car body shop to have them snap back in place a piece of my car door (work they had supposedly done two weeks ago). Their solution: leave the car for 30 minutes. But I didn’t have the time as next up was a doctor’s appointment and I didn’t want to be late. So I head towards the doctor’s office, and make a quick stop at the shoe repair shop where I was told that the broken zipper on my daughter’s boots will cost $70, more than the boots are worth.

After the first doctor’s appointment (which went well) I stopped by our internist’s office, around the corner, to pick up lab results from a few weeks ago, BUT the temporary receptionist couldn’t find the papers. Finally after 15 minutes of looking around she decided to print out another copy.

At this point in my day I am still clueless about what is happening and getting very frustrated with each mounting task or errand that doesn’t go right. But on I plod.

Next was a stop at CVS to have a prescription filled, this should have been an easy task, but of course it wasn’t. I left 15 minutes later after being told that they have to call the insurance company as well as order more medicine and that I would hear from them later (which I didn’t). And of course I forgot to buy the 9 volt batteries I need for my temperamental garage door opener, but since I get to go back in a few days, I have another chance to remember.

At this point I decide it is time for an espresso from Peets, but when I got to the store, this is what greets me:

 Heidi- blog 34

So instead of using my Peets card (or the Peets gift card that my husband gave me) I have to use the last of my cash to buy coffee. But it is at Peets that it finally dawns on me: since everything I attempt to do has been difficult, I might as well give in to it and accept that this is what my day looks like. And what a change that brings.

With caffeine in hand, I head back to the body shop where I wait for over 30 minutes for them to repair what they should have repaired two weeks ago. And I make good use of the time on the phone, activating a prescription discount card. Of course it takes three calls to accomplish, but I now get it and no longer expect anything to go smoothly the first or even the second time.

When I get to the next doctor appointment, and am told she is running 45 minutes late, I don’t get exasperated, instead I pull out my book and enjoy the time waiting (of course it helps that I was reading a good book).

Then something weird happens: the rest of my afternoon went smoothly: grocery errand no problem, and my husband agrees to do an errand for me. Now I decide not to tempt fate and to skip the last two errands on my list and go home instead.

Here is a map of most my route today BUT because it was too many places, Google maps ran out of space for me to add my last trip home from the grocery store.

Heidi-Blog 34 pic 2

 I won’t bore you with how my laptop froze after I got home, even though I have had the hard drive, mouse pad and motherboard replaced in the last few months. But I didn’t burn the house down cooking dinner and I didn’t give in to the temptation to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.

 Instead, all those deep breaths from yoga started to make sense. I give in rather than fight it and just accept that nothing is going to go right and it makes it all a lot easier.

 What do you do when you have days where nothing goes right?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Away Again: Heidi’s Never Ending Summer of Travel

I have been away from home too much. Being out of town, even if only for one night, means time spent getting ready to go and then time spent afterwards catching up. And while I have been living a very lucky and privileged life with all our running around the planet, I feel the need to nest, to stay in one place, to hold still.

Since returning from our 5 months in Australia last June, I have been out of town on several trips. In June we traveled to Washington DC and Princeton NJ to see our mothers and then in July I was in Carmel with my husband’s family and then after one night home I was off again to the BLOGHER 2014 conference in San Jose (more on that amazing conference in another piece). And now I am off again to a women’s retreat that is affectionately known as Summer Goddess Camp by those of us who attend annually.

Some of playing with the Goddess robes from 2012

Some of playing with the Goddess robes from 2012

So after I return from my retreat of rituals and initiations and hot-tubbing, I plan to stay home for awhile, or at least until October when we head east to see family again!

How do you get back into the swing of things after being away?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!