Living so far away from home persistently tests me. When the recent tragic event was unfolding over too-long hours in Martin Place, Sydney, I scrolled social media, emailed family and friends, and checked on Facebook posts so I could keep up-to-date with the latest news. During these times you feel helpless, living thousands of miles away; digital technology gives you a feeling of control in a situation you’re far removed from. In an instant, I knew where my mum and dad were, where my sisters were; that my brothers and close friends were ok. That’s something a phone call could never do, especially when the lines used to be so jammed that many times I couldn’t ever get through.
Most of all, such events show us that we’re in this together, no matter what part of the world we live in. We may not agree on everything but we come from the same place. A good place.
The same sun sets in Los Angeles and in Sydney. December 15 2014.
When my husband and I drove from NY to LA, we stopped in the Texan town of El Paso, located so close to the Mexican border that you can see people crossing the Santa Fe Bridge over Rio Bravo. It’s a gorgeous “little” big town and we had a great time exploring. We awoke in the 1917-built Camino Real Hotel with its spectacular Tiffany glass dome, breakfasted on custard-filled croissants and deli coffee from Blue Seal Bakery, and later, feasted on meat-filled tacos at L&J Cafe. Those tacos were really really good.
In between, we’d also managed to squeeze in a visit to the El Paso Museum of Art where we saw works by local artists and American Impressionists. Never one to miss a museum store, my eyes devoured its selection of Mexican handicrafts, coffee table books, and handmade jewelry. Which is when I happened upon a mariachi band whose miniature musicians were dressed in Halloween costumes. Upon closer inspection, I realised they were celebrating The Day of the Dead. I loved it; I bought it.
That was two years ago. I am transported every time I look over at my little mariachi band on the bookshelf: that sunny El Pasoan day, the music filling the streets, the mountains in the distance, and a slower pace of life.
Have you ever seen a pink beach? There are only a handful of them in the world — one is located in Indonesia on Padar Island by Flores.
See a picture of it here, in a piece I wrote for Qantas about the world’s largest archipelago:
Note to surfers: check out the photos of Sumba and the Mentawai Islands in Sumatra. These spots have some of the best waves in the world.
This is not the pink beach but it is Kanawa Island veiled by a rosy sunset.
Malibu is one of the most beautiful places to visit for uninterrupted views of the water; where the eyes can rest their gaze on the infinite horizon. Listening to the waves crash before lapping the shore is at once soothing and invigorating. Worries dissipate; everything feels lighter.
There’s a quote by Isak Dinesen that reads: ‘The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.’
I completely agree.
The view of Malibu Pier from Nikita restaurant
A German Riesling dwarfs El Matador
As with all things last minute, paperwork processing delays had me push my trip to Russia back by a week. This meant I missed touring Moscow with my mum and sister; instead tacking it on after our sojourn in St Petersburg. Alas, I travelled solo.
I have a soft spot for Moscow. The capital moves at a faster pace than St Petersburg, which is located an easy four hour train ride away on the speedy Sapsan. She buzzes like New York but her grand squares and wide boulevards allow breathing room to appreciate the vast historic surrounds.
Some of my most memorable moments were spent gazing through hotel windows and strolling by the Moscow River, listening to the sounds of the city while watching the sun set way past its usual bedtime.
View of Red Square from Hotel National
The Red Square
St Basil’s Cathedral
Volleyball in Gorky Park
Fountains in Gorky Park
St Basil’s Cathedral
Moscow River sunset
Bontempi at Red October Factory
Church of Christ the Saviour
The setting midnight sun