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Mel's Life: #Sydney

Three or four years ago, I would have never imagined I'd step foot in Sydney let alone Australia but that is where I found myself in February. I was already familiar with Sydney's airport after spending an eight hour layover there. With two of those hours spent trying to access an elusive Nando's that turned out to be located outside of the gates. Any who...I had one mission and one mission only the minute we stepped foot outside the airport and that was the BONDI BEACH! We dropped our bags off at the hotel and suited up immediately. Bondi is super gorgeous but the water was a tad bit too cold and rough for my liking. However, I didn't mind the coolness of the water after soaking up the sun. Australian heat is no joke lol. After the beach we went to a cute roof top restaurant near the beach and later grabbed gelato while taking in the sunset. Not a bad why to end your first day in Aussieland.

The next day we decided to purchase an iventure card to see the cities main attractions. We decided on the flexi 5 pass, which gave us access to 5 different attractions. We made it to the Sydney Oprah House, the Sydney Aquarium, Zoo, the Sydney Museum, and the Queen Victoria Building.  Where do I even begin?! The Oprah house is absolutely stunning. This was my wow...I'm really in Australia moment lol. I wish we could have seen a show at the museum but the next concert wasn't for hours and we were sun beaten.

Our hotel was located across the street from the Queen Victoria building...Jesus was a fence around my wallet and I managed not risk it all shopping at this gorgeous mall. After all I needed to drop money where it counted on Food! We stayed at Sydney Hilton and the later the Marriott. I would recommend staying at either hotel. The Hilton had an interesting speakeasy with a great craft cocktail list. Speaking of cocktail bars, we absolutely loved Eau De Vie, a 20's style cocktail bar. It reminded me of DC, I guess that's part of the reason I enjoyed it so much.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in Sydney and I would totally make another trip. Although, the next time I head down under I definitely want to check out Melbourne, Brisbane, and Tasmania.

Mel's Life: #Auckland

In February, I headed to Auckland for a bit of R-n-R. It was my first 15 hour flight but I drank got through it like a champ. The free flying half bottles of Australian wine may have made the skies a wee bit more friendlier and Qantas my new favorite airline. We stayed at the Auckland Hilton, which is centrally located and a quick walk to the popular Queen Street. The first couple of days were rainy and overcast which lead us to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. This museum is stunning, I wish we could've enjoyed a cuppa but the cafe was ridiculously crowded. We took in the The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer, which featured over 100 portraits of Māori chiefs and leaders.

After a couple of days in Auckland, we headed for Waiheke Island. The was one of my favorite parts of my trip to New Zealand. The picturesque island is filled with wonderful wineries and sheep! We stayed at the Gorgeous Inn, a cute little cabin with big scenery. I recommended it if you are ever staying in Waiheke. We took a half day wine tour to sample some of the offerings of the local wineries. My favorite spot was Thomas' Bach. Needless to say I left for Sydney with a suitcase full of delicious wine. Over all I really enjoyed my trip to Auckland, the people are friendly and the food is exquisite. I hope to make it back to New Zealand to explore other areas. We headed for Sydney after, I will dedicate another post to my time in Australia.

Mel's Life: #Brazil

Last week, I went on a whirlwind tour of Brazil and loved every minute of it. My cousin and I flew to Manaus, Salvador, and Rio all within 6 crazy days. I must admit we saw absolutely nothing in Manus as we flew in at night and left at 4 am the next day. The one day that we did have to explore the area we crashed hard and spent the day in our hotel (lame but necessary).

On Friday, we flew out to Bahia! I was most excited about heading to Bahia because of the rich cultural history. Bahia is the home to the largest population of black people outside of the continent Africa and it is apparent immediately. I felt like I was returning home in a sense because everything felt very familiar. The music, the food, and the overall vibe of the city is reminiscent of the Caribbean. My cousin and I were in awe at how much the people of Salvador were able to save culturally from the clutches of colonialism.

After taking in Salvador, we set our sights on Rio de Janiero. We arrived around noon in Rio and hit the ground running. We headed straight to the famed Escadaria Selarón steps, after walking up the stairs we built up a pretty hefty appetite. We grabbed lunch at a cute restaurant and indulged in Brazilian steak (o-m-g soooo good).

The next day we went to see the Christ Redeemer statue. I wasn't expecting the statue to be so massive, I was a little taken aback. In photos, it does not appear to be so large. The vantage point at the statue is absolutely stunning, you can see Rio's beauty from every angle. Did I mention it was blazing hot? To take a break from the relentless sun we concluded our day at  Ipanema beach (where the water is cold and the food delicious).


I was recently featured as a #GamineBae on my dear friend Ty's blog. Head over to Agamine.com to check out my top things to do in DC.

Yum: #Yona

If you know me then you know two things:

1. I have a sickening obsession with HGTV
2. I can eat Ramen until the day I die (which will hopefully be in my sleep at 90 years old)

I finally got to Yona after hearing el BF rave about the Ramen and me secretly wanting to kick him in the shins for not taking me to enjoy said Ramen.  Anywho...I crossed the bridge over to NOVA to gobble up the buns and the Miso Porky Ramen. After eating at Yona I can totally see why Chef Jonah Kim won the Rammy for Rising Culinary Star of the Year. The food is delicious. It was hard not to devour all of the small plate offering but I had to save room for the Ramen after all that is what I came for. The broth was pure happiness, the pork cooked to perfection (totally ask for extra pork btw), and the poached egg took it over the edge (lol). 

 Yona definitely makes it into my top 5 Ramen spots in the DMV area.