Brief Gold Coast getaway

Last weekend we had a little getaway to the Gold Coast. It was only for one night, but it was nice to get away even for this short time. We booked it before we realised I had extra homework and an assignment to prepare for uni. So I had to bring some of my work with me to the beach and didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. I thought I would still share some of the highlights from our little trip.

When Brisbanites want to go to the beach they usually head to the south to the Gold Coast or north to the Sunshine Coast. The Gold Coast is only about an hour from the centre of Brisbane, so it’s a popular choice. There are quite a few neighbourhoods in the Gold Coast region, so you can always see a different beach and discover a new restaurant.

On this trip stayed at the Sheridan Grand Mirage Resort at Main Beach, Southport. This strip of coast features SeaWorld, Marina Mirage Shopping Centre, Federation Walk Coastal Reserve and theirs a stack of touristy activities and restaurants there.

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Kampong Glam: eclectic, spirited Muslim Quarter

On day four of our Singapore trip, we went to explore the eclectic and colourful neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. It is named after the Malay words for ‘village’  ‘gelam tree’ (Paperbark tree), since these trees used to grow in the area. This neighbourhood was formerly the home of the Malaysian aristocracy, prior to British colonisation. However, after the treaty was signed it became the designated settlement for the Sultan and his court as well as the Malay and Arab communities. Today it remains the Malay and Muslim enclave a and is known for being a trendy neighbourhood, rich in history and culture.

We arrived in Kampong Glam in the morning to have breakfast. Then visited the Sultan’s Mosque, did some shopping at Bussorah Street and Haji Lane and later returned for dinner and dessert. In my next post, I will detail our visit to the Rocher (Bugis) area, which we also did the same day.

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Tanjong Pagar: Koreatown

Last time I left you we were at the Singapore Zoo (day 3). Well after a big day out,  we decided to do a low key dinner in the trendy in the neighbourhood Tanjong Pagar. This is a historic area within the Central Business District. Its name means ‘cape of stakes’ which references the wooden stakes that held up this former fishing village. Today it is a colourful thriving area where you can find great nightlife at Tras Street, best Korean food in Koreatown, great hawker food at Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and amazing views at the Pinnacle@Duxton.


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Serbian Slava Celebration

Over the weekend Marco’s sister’s family celebrated their annual Slava. This is a Serbian Orthodox tradition, which venerates the family’s patron saint. We were invited to a family lunch to celebrate the day. This year we are unable to attend their big Slava, that they will host for their friends. The date and day change every year, so if the family can’t make it to the big party, there is always usually a small family lunch.

I have been attending most of their Slava’s for nearly 10 years now and I always look forward to this special lunch. The last time I wrote about this celebration was in 2013 (on Live Blissful), so I thought it would be nice to give you guys a bit of a taste of what it’s all about.

Although I have been attending these celebrations for a long time I really don’t know much about it. I am not Serbian Orthodox and Marco doesn’t really follow the religion either. Similar to being an Italian Roman Catholic,  you are kinda born into the religion, typically baptised when your little and it’s up to the individual to keep the faith going. I usually ask the same few questions every year and then we start talking about what we are going to eat. So I thought I would ask some questions to Marco’s sister, Maria directly so she can explain to you all about her Slava.

  • Why do you celebrate Slava?

We celebrate it because it is Milan’s [my husband] family tradition and a great excuse to get together. Every slava or saint has a little story as to why people started celebrating them. People then like to make a big feast and invite friends and those people they go to slava to during the year.

  • Who is your families patron saint?

Milan’s family patron saint is Saint Theodore. The date of the Slava is by the Orthodox calendar, which can change depending on when Easter will be.

  • What are the rituals that you follow for your Slava?

We make the bread and zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and take it to the Serbian Orthodox priest, on the morning of the Slava. He blesses the food we made with red wine. After we spending the day with our closest family and friends and remembering the good that the particular evangelist did. 

  • What are some typical dishes served on Slava?

Typical dishes are sarma, pig or lamb on the spit, bob (broad bean paste), prebranac (baked lima beans), punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or anything really, there are no rules about that. If a Slava falls in one of the fasting periods in the year, the Easter or Christmas fast, then you have to eat and serve only vegan on that day but if not, you can serve anything you like. Our slava is during a fasting period so we can’t use any animal products, except fish. So we make similar dishes but veganised. 

  • Do you hope that your kids will continue celebrating your Slava?

We hope Stefan continues to celebrate with his own family when he is older. The girls can too if they wish, there are no specific rules about that.

  • Can Marco and I pick a Saint and start our own Slava or is that against the rules?
You can pick up a Slava. I think it would be great to keep the tradition going. Marco’s slava is St Luka, that Victor’s father (Marco’s grandfather) used to celebrate. Zoran (Marco’s uncle) in Serbia celebrates St Luka as the oldest son and Dusan (Marco’s cousin and son of Zoran) will continue on. Victor (Marco’s father) could have here but he never really thought about it. It is on 31st of October and it’s called Luke the Evangelist in English, you can search it up
  • How many other Slava’s do you attend during the year? 

We attend a few in a year, almost all our friends celebrate a Slava. The slava outside the fasting period is usually the best. 


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Singapore Zoo: animal wonderland, rainforest oasis

On the third day of our holiday, we planned to have a break from site seeing in the city and visit the Singapore Zoo instead. The weather was meant to be perfect and Octavia was really excited to see all the animals.

Before we made our way to the zoo we thought we would have breakfast close to our hotel. I found it hard to find any cafes that were opened before 10am. Luckily attached to our hotel there an arcade with some restaurants and cafes. This is where we found the cafe Killiney Kopitiam.

This Hainanese coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Killiney Road, in the River Valley district of the city. It was known for its famous charcoal- grilled toast and hot coffees and teas. It was bought by a regular customer, Mr Woon in 1993, renamed and later franchised in 2001. You can now find Killiney Kopitiam locations throughout  Singapore, Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. They offer classic Singaporean breakfast sets, such as kaya toast, french toast, soft boiled eggs and chee cheong fun. They also offer classic dishes including Chicken Curry, Mee Siam, Laksa etc.

For breakfast, I had a Kaya Toast set which included soft boiled eggs and Chinese Tea. Marco had the French Toast set with eggs and Kopi. This was my first time ordered kaya toast and I really liked it. The kaya was delicious and tasted like a coconut custard and the butter was nice and thick and melted nicely between the toast. My Chinese tea was also very nice and tasted like English Breakfast. Marco also liked his French Toast which is a nice variation.


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Chinatown: preserving the heritage of yesteryear

Our next destination in Singapore was the vibrant, historical (and touristy) district of Chinatown. This was actually one of the places I was most excited to visit. That is because we were visiting close to the time of the Chinese New year and this is the year of the dog (Octavia’s favourite animal). I was also excited to try some good-quality Chinese food and visit the old temples.

Chinatown is historically a Chinese ethnic-centric area in the Outram district. It was actually named ‘Chinatown’ by the British. However, it was originally known as Niu che shui (Mandarin), meaning “bullock water-cart”, because the water supply was primarily transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century. Chinatown features post-war historical shophouses, street hawking scenes and markets of yesteryear and is the only district in South East Asia that houses three different religious places of worship (Hindu, Muslim and Buddist). Although it is a very touristy place, where you can find plenty of souvenirs, it is also a part of the city where the heritage of yesteryear has been well preserved.


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Valentines Day: Double Shot Espresso, New Farm Park

Happy Valentine’s day friends! I hope you had a wonderful day and spent it with someone you love.

Did Valentine’s Day sneak up on you this year? It snuck up on us. I was aware it was coming but I didn’t get a chance to organise anything special for the day. Instead, we decided we would go out for brunch as a family. I actually wanted to start doing brunch somewhere different every week with Octavia (and Marco when available) and post my experiences on here, so this was the perfect opportunity to start today.

We decided to visit the cafe Double Shot Expresso in New Farm. This is one of my favourite areas of Brisbane and it has many lovely cafes throughout this affluent neighbourhood. What I really liked about this cafe was the almost alfresco dining and the extensive brunch menu. They also have an amazing array of sweets and pastries in their cabinet. If you have a canine companion you are also welcome to bring them along as well. Our dogs are no cafe-friendly dogs, but Octavia got a kick out of seeing some canine customers.

We started off with coffee of course, which was quite good. We are a little picky with our morning cappuccino, so it was nice to be treated with a nice one. Marco ordered the Eggs Benedict special with bacon, I had the Caramelised spicy mushrooms with poached eggs and sourdough and Octavia had the fresh baked croissant. All the dishes were nice and definitely above average in care that it took to prepare and generous in size. Marco really enjoyed his dish. I didn’t mind mine either, as everything was cooked well. I just wish I knew the mushrooms were going to be spicy and sweet. I should probably have checked what seasoning they were going to use before ordering since I made noodles the night before with sweet chilli sauce. I probably go with something else next time. Octavia really enjoyed her butter but did not want to eat her croissant. I don’t know what her problem was because it was delicious. It wasn’t the perfect French croissant but it was warm, with soft layers of flakey pastry and had a nice savoury flavour. So it was a pleasant experience at Double Shot Espresso so I would recommend them for a well made, satisfying breakfast or brunch and great coffee.


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4# Life Update: meeting plans and goals

Hi guys, hope you’re having a great weekend. How is everyone going with their New Years resolutions?

At the beginning of this year, I announced my New Years Plans and Goals. I had three major plans for this year:

  • travel to Singapore
  • getting my driving licence
  • go back to university.

Well so far, so good. I have already gone and returned from my trip to Singapore. I am currently in the middle of organising my photos and writing my travel series for this trip. My most recent posts were my Singapore buys and experiences in Little India. The next two posts will be about China Town and the Singapore Zoo, so stay tuned.

If your interested in some of my other travel stories I have updated my Travel Adventures page. I have made some colourful tabs so you can click on them to find the posts that are associated with each country.

I have also added a Travel Series page with all my trips chronically ordered. From here you can select by the trip, to see all posts in that series.



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Little India: colourful, bustling and spicy

This is my first post for my travel adventure series to Singapore. As I mentioned, I had ten wonderful days in this amazing island nation. I only got back last weekend, so I’ve still been unwinding, getting back to our normal routines.

This was my second visit to Singapore. I think the last time I actually spent time here was eight years ago. So it was lovely to revisit this country (and city). Singapore is actually tiny in comparison to other countries. You can drive from one end to the other in less than an hour, depending on the traffic of course. Ten days may seem like a lot of time to spend in such a small place. However, there is just so much to see and do here. I tried to make sure we saw most of the major neighbourhoods, sectors and sites. I’m sure there are plenty more things we could see or revisit the next time we return. There are definitely plenty more places to eat and foods we that didn’t have the time or appetite to try. This is because this tiny country has a lot established culture and cuisines. Nearly every Asian countries food is represented, as well as different cuisines within their cultures. That’s not including all the other ethnicities from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It’s just an amazing mixing pot of people from a variety of cultures, religions and walks of life, who all live in harmony.

For this trip, I organised an itinerary that kept us busy for the whole 10 days from morning until night. To make commuting more convenient we decided to book two hotels. Our first hotel was the One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Little India. I was really happy with this accommodation. The staff were lovely, the rooms were large, beds comfortable and facilities were gorgeous. So it was a nice surprise when we arrived from our eight-hour flight.


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3# Life Update: home again, Singapore buys

Hi everyone, I’m finally home again after our 10 days trip to Singapore. I got back a couple of days ago, but I’ve been too burnt out to do much. The time difference to Brisbane is only two hours, so I’m more exhausted from the trip in general rather than jet lag. I was a bit disappointed to come back home to real life. I was enjoying having my bed made, my meals prepared and exploring new exciting places every day. However, I missed my bed, my colouring pencils, soy cappuccinos and my family (in no particular order).

So before I share some of my travel adventures and stories, I thought I would show you some of the stuff I came back with. I didn’t do that much shopping really. I planned on coming back with a lot more. Marco, on the other hand, thinks I came back with more than enough. He only came back with a couple of pairs of shoes. I guess for the amount of time I allocated to shopping I thought I would have found more things I really wanted, but I guess I’m more sensible these days. So I’m happy with all my buys.


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Roundup of Euro Trip 2017

My Euro trip of 2017 series has finally come to an end. I hope you enjoyed reading about my travels and looking through my photos. I hope I have inspired you to visit some of these amazing places or just experience another culture from your own hometown.

This is a round-up of all the countries and cities we visited on our Euro trip in 2017. They include France, Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, Sweden and Belgium. Press the images below to visit the corresponding travel post.

If you would like to read about my other travel stories from across the world see my Travel Adventures.


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2# Life Update: January 18, Singapore

This is my first life update for 2018 and only the second so far on the blog. I did promise you more about my personal life in my New Years Plans and Goals. So I thought I would let you know whats going on in my January, as I make the trip across the sea to Singapore today.


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