WWOOF Australia: Day 1

In the spirit of this summer being about risk-taking and adventure, I chose to WWOOF in Australia. For those not familiar with WWOOF, it is an acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Basically, you are given food and accommodations in exchange for farm labor. In addition, you are given a wealth of knowledge of how farms operate and how to incorporate sustainable practices into your daily life.

As someone whose experience is mainly in the corporate sector, me wanting to do this may come as a surprise. Especially because I own more handbags, shoes, and makeup than I can count – I am a “girly girl” who enjoys luxury and I don’t care who knows! However, I am deeply passionate about animals and would much prefer being in the country than in the city all the time. I also care about my environmental footprint and you will find me recycling everywhere I go. With a month away in Australia, I thought now would be the best time for me to take up the farming trade.

Side note: July and August are the winter months so I advise NOT coming in these months! I had little choice in the matter. 40-50F degree nights here aren’t bad to handle for a Bostonian like me though.

Now, let’s get to today’s activities:

Clean up wallaby poop. Someone has to clean them up! The poops are quite small but you have to develop an eye for them because they can blend in.

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I don’t mind cleaning up for these babies, especially since they are so cute and it’s so important to their health! Too much poop/bacterial exposure could cause fatal disease.

Prepare and weigh milk powder for baby kangaroos. With milk, it’s important to mention that kangaroos are lactose intolerant! If they have milk like we do, they will go blind. This special powder is similar in smell and texture to Similac that human moms use to feed babies, but is totally different!

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The babies are currently taking 500g per bottle feeding, so a scale is necessary to measure (bottom right below container).

Pick grass for wallaby’s. Small wallaby’s have milk like kangaroo’s but the older ones like to munch on yummy grass. I am to pick grass from the bush nearby, every day or two.

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Ruby is showing me how high she can stand. She is so sweet, but can be very naughty. She loves nibbling on my shoes.

Cuddle kangaroos. Since these babies are apart from their moms – they are either injured and/or orphaned at the farm – they mainly spend their days in a cloth pouch and held close. This mimics the pouch that mom kangaroos have. The babies who want to exit the pouch cannot walk properly and mainly rely on mom to keep them close.

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Not the best photo but earlier in the day when I took this, they still weren’t used to me. They are still learning my smell. You can tell how Jirra at left is in a little sack, cozy with pillows.

All in all, I learned a lot today about farm life and Australian wildlife care – much more than this post is covering. However, in the days ahead I hope to share some of the most exciting parts of this experience.

I will learn more about the wildlife on the farm which includes kangaroos, wallaby’s, chickens, a variety of birds including a a 65-year-old cockatoo, an echidna, platypus, and wombats. I will also learn about composting/how to create rich soil, and how to care for gardens.

I am very much outside of my comfort zone, but loving the lessons I am learning so far.

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My Arrival to Australia

For this summer, I chose to spend a whole month in Australia! My mother is a native Australian who has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years (she met my dad at age 18 in Australia and quickly moved to the U.S. after they married). Both of my parents have told me that a visit to Australia requires more than a month to visit “properly.”

With everything there is to do in Australia and with the long flight, my parents insisted that I would need longer than a couple weeks. The problem…how would I ever be able to take this time off from work? Since I am in between jobs, now was the time to take this trip of a lifetime!

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Before an extremely long nap after my flight with Milo.

The trip to Australia from Boston is arduous – about 25 hours of time in the air, not including layover time. From the start, my flights with United Airlines were a disaster. My travel over included my itinerary changing, staying on the tarmac on a hot plane for hours, getting off said plan because it was on fire, missing a connection and spending a night in San Francisco, even a bomb square in my terminal.

My plane itself from LAX to Melbourne also didn’t have any TV’s working, or light to read (a 14 hour plane ride). Bottom line: things happen and sometimes everything that can go wrong will. Having a sense of humor is key.

After making it to Melbourne in the morning, I spend nearly a whole day sleeping, eating with family, and then going back to bed for the night. Even with sleeping on the plane, a voyage to Australia takes the life out of you. Luckily, I was had my uncle and his family waiting for me – along with their beautiful cats.

After spending a day resting up, I spent the following day going to local places that were relevant to my mom’s life. The highlight was the church where my parents got married in a town called Ascot Vale.

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In addition to light sightseeing, we indulged in a Melbourne favorite: coffee. Melbourne should really be the coffee capital of the world because cafe’s are everywhere!

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For the next month I will be covering more Melbourne highlights and gems from traveling, including coverage of exhibits and my life away exploring the Aussie countryside.

A Look Inside the Automobile and Fashion Museum

Every year, I obsess over the Met Gala in New York City and take a trip there every year to check out their latest fashion exhibit. I always thought that this would be the ultimate fashion experience but that all changed this month when I went to Museo Automovilístico y de la Moda (Automobile and Fashion Museum) in Málaga, Spain. With over 200 pieces of haute couture from over the ages, this museum will not disappoint!

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What set the exhibit apart is that alongside the fashion pieces were cars  from the same point in time. Cars and clothing both tell us so much about society – how we are advancing and how we are taking risks, for instance. Due to the pairing of cars and clothes, this exhibit is truly one-of-a-kind and you could pass hours learning about the exhibits.

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I believe this is a Benz used in a James Bond film. Check out the mannequin – can’t you imagine the driver wearing something like this? 

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This car was designed and painted by Sonia Delaunay, cofounder of the the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colors and geometric shapes.

Though these cars look better in person, they are truly unique. They had hundreds, many of historical significance and others of cultural importance, such as a psychedelic car driven by John Lennon. Moreover, they had cars driven by many Hollywood celebrities! However, my favorite part of the exhibit (despite loving cars and cars shows), was the fashion.

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Caught on camera by my boyfriend, in a room entirely dedicated to haute couture. 

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Fashion in the style of Doris Day. 

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This is one case of hats but there was an enormous room filled with hundreds of glamorous hats! It was one of my favorite rooms to explore. 

The fashion on display was completely break taking and these photos, as pretty as they may be, do not do the museum justice. The size of this museum and the quality of these pieces. I strongly believe there is something for everyone in this museum and you can learn more by going to their website: https://www.museoautomovilmalaga.com/en/

 

Impressions of Málaga

First stop in my travels this summer is Spain. It may sound adventurous but for me, Spain is my second home. My plan was to only go to new places but after comparing prices and considering that my boyfriend/travel companion had never been, I knew I wanted to show him where I have some of my best memories.

The last time I was visiting, about two years ago, I stayed in the north but this time around, I wanted to be in the south – in Andalusia. In my opinion, Andalusia, is where the Spanish culture and best cuisine is from. This bias stems from my experiences studying in Granada (in the south), where I first lived in Spain. There, they say that Andalusia is the heart of the country, and I believe it to be true.

Instead of going back to Granada, I chose to go to Málaga for the first stop in our Spanish tour. I have never been but in recent years, I hear that Málaga has really changed. They have invested in their museums and tourism has soared.

In total, I spent 5 nights in Málaga. Many have told me this is an excessive amount of time to stay in there but honestly, we had plenty to do. Spoiler alert: it is metropolitan but it is also on the beach.

Here are the top things to do when you are in Málaga:

Go to the Alcazaba. This is an ancient fortress and though the Alhambra in Granada is better, I repeat: this is an ancient fortress! We don’t have anything like this in the United States – not as old as in Europe, so this is a must. If you have the time also hike up the Castillo Gibralfaro (Gibralfaro Castle). The ancient fortress is directly adjacent to the castle so you can spend a day trekking back in time

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One view from inside the Alcazaba.
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Bring your walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. It looks like a leisurely walk up, but it was more a hike!

Head to the beach, known as Costa del Sol, or Playa de la Malagueta. It may look like any old beach from this photo, but it is cool to know that the beach is directly across from Africa. Alongside the beach, there is a lot of places to get food and refreshments.

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See the birthplace of Pablo Picasso or at least go to his museum. The French can claim Picasso all they want, but this city is where he is from so if you are an art buff, this is a must.

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See the Roman Theater. Before arriving to Málaga, I envisioned the Roman Theater being far away in the middle of nowhere. No, it is smack dab in the middle of the city, like the Colosseum in Rome. They light it up at night too so it is always stunning to see.

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El Pimpi. Also known as the restaurant owned by Antonio Banderas, I saw this covered on CBS Sunday Morning months ago and completely forgot about it. It is also is a few feet away from the Roman Theater (see #4). This isn’t any old bar, it is a sprawling restaurant that has is a hub spot for late-night drinks. What’s better: those drinks are GOOD. I don’t remember what I ordered but it was adorned with white chocolate on top. Yum. This is what my boyfriend ordered. Photo Jun 14, 6 39 28 PM

If you enjoy museums, reserve a block of time to go to them. If you aren’t into museums – I get it. I prefer to experience the culture of a country outdoors, without curation. However, Málaga has over 30 museums and likes to be known as a “City of Museums.” There really is something for everyone.

I know I mentioned the Picasso Museum but there are so many others (one on wine, another on flamenco, the list goes on…). If you have varied interests and hobbies, you might be surprised at what is offered for museums.

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At the Interactive Music Museum in Málaga.

I had an incredible time in Malaga and if you were to take a few days to visit, you would have plenty to do. From a walk along the beach, drinks at El Pimpi, or a hike up an ancient fortress, you too would make unforgettable memories!

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Whether you’re near or far from home this summer, happy exploring.

Iceland: A Warm Welcome from the Land of Fire and Ice

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but, by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”  Maya Angelou

Over the summer, a friend of mine told me about a trip to Iceland she was going on and that if I wanted to come, she would love it. That very day, I booked a two-way plane ticket (under $400, round-trip with insurance included). Iceland was never a place that I thought to travel because something about the word “ice” never appealed to me, being a New Englander who tries to escape the cold! As an adult who has traveled a lot and experienced many cultures, I realized that relying on presumptions is never the way to live. I counted down the months and days until we took off at the end of October.

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This is the frozen part of the Lagoon.

I can’t lie–when we landed, there was indeed ice on the ground. Actually, for the whole trip, I lived in layers since the weather was at a high of 40 degrees F(~4 degrees C) with sprinklings of rain. We had some issues because after renting our vehicle, we had trouble converting our GPS system to Icelandic–but we did it, and arrived at our hotel at 8:30 AM, just in time for a cat nap. We were so tired from our bumpy start and little sleep but we eventually made it to the beautiful Blue Lagoon, the famous geothermal spa. It is the stereotypical thing to do but nonetheless, you have to do it!

Throughout the next few days, we rested up but then were on the go. We rode horses, hiked, and did a lot of driving. We drove all the way to Vik, a small village east of the capital, and then took a bus back (one of our travel buddies took the car around the country for 3 more days). As much as I loved the sheer beauty of Iceland, probably one of our most memorable experiences was our last night in Reykjavik, when we decided to party all night before my flight in the morning.

Our partying was so fun because we chatted with two amazing girls from the city. We were waiting in a seemingly endless line to get into a popular nightclub on Halloween night but it was taking too long. I noticed two pretty girls speaking in Icelandic but I decided to strike up a conversation in English. Normally, I would at least preface a conversation with, “Do you speak English?” but thankfully my instincts were correct. They turned out to not only know English (they all learn in school), but they were hilarious and knew more lyrics to American songs than I did. What surprised me the most was that that even in a cold climate, they were naturally friendly. Another note is that Icelandic young people rage harder than any group of club-goers. This is probably to keep warm. Overall, Iceland is a cool place–in more ways than one–the people are friendly, and they love to share the beauty of their country.

Have you visited any new interesting places lately?

Beautiful Iceland (narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic).