“El jardin de las munecas” (the garden of the dolls)

When I am passing by this house on Wright street in Adelaide CBD, I feel afraid and curious at the same time. There are mutilated dolls hanging in the trees in the garden. It is so creepy but I can’t help looking at it each time and wondering why it is here for? What does it mean? Is it the masterpiece of a lunatic? or some garden ornements that I don’t get?

I still remember the day when I tried to take a picture of it. Some grating noises started and got louder… and there was no way I could tell for sure if somebody was trying to scare me (and having good fun) or if the house was haunted or something… maybe it was just the wind and the trees were rubbed against the metallic gate… but it did not feel right and I was unable to take a good picture of it!

Another day, I went by and the garden gate was opened and there was a glass of water on a small table under the porch… so I assume somebody lives in this place. If I am correct then I am wondering why some dolls are hung in the trees, with screws in the head… Maybe the work of a twisted mind…

I had a discussion with my brother about it and he told me that it reminded him of “la isla de las munecas” (the island of the dolls) in Mexico. I have googled it and what I found is pretty scaring… Basically there is an island there full of terrifying dolls hanging all other the place: some are injured, others are decapitated or blinds… supposedly to honour the spirit of a dead little girl. If you  dare you can visit the place but be prepared to be followed by soulless eyes…creepy… creepy….  http://www.isladelasmunecas.com

But back to my story or should I say my unsolved mystery…  I was so intrigued that I looked on the internet if I could find a ghost story or strange events about Adelaide.. but I could not find anything related to this house facing Whitmore square on Wright street.

I had absolutely no leads, no evidences, no clue! So I decided to let it go… Afterall I am not Veronica Mars and I am here to enjoy my time in Adelaide and not try to investigate on some strange dark secrets.

I sent the picture to the City newspaper (just in case) and I moved on… both literally and figuratively. I stopped “obsessing” about it and anyway I moved from CBD to North Adelaide …so the creepy house is not on my usual path anymore.

I had actually nearly forgotten about it… but a couple of days ago it came back to my mind and it was quite unexpected! I was walking in North Adelaide charming streets, gazing at the birds and the trees when suddenly I have seen this horrible and scaring painting on the pavement leaning on a tree!

Four white little kitties standing on a shiny blue sheet: the simple idea of having a painting like that hanging in my living room is already giving me a headache. But there was even more scary to come… somebody used a black pencil to blind the cats, like they were  crying blood tears or something… they looked like satanic cats… I could not help wondering if the owner of this painting made it himself?! Then you can imagine his wife complained about it so he decided to get rid of the painting in the street hoping somebody would appreciate his sense of home design… Or another scenario is  that a simple passer by or a psychopath decided to ruin this kitty scene to spice up its day… You never know, can you?!

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Don’t worry for me, I still sleep very well at night.  And despite these 2 creepy scenes, I still think Adelaide is a charming city…  like I said before, there is always something new to discover here and it is impossible to get bored!

By the way, if somebody knows anything about “el jardin de las munecas” (the garden of the dolls) on Wright street, I am definitely interested 😉

Walk with me…

Thursday morning was absolutely lovely: sunny, nicely warm but not too much… so I put my hat, my sun glasses and my sun cream on and I have decided to go for a nice walk in the south east part of the CBD!

Here is a little bit of history about Adelaide: “In the late 19th Century, people from all social levels lived in the south eastern corner of the city. The wealthy occupied mansions on East and South Terrace, the growing middle class lived in Victorian villas in Halifax and Gilles Streets, while the intervening small cottages were filled by workers who were able to walk to work or work from home.” (source Adelaide City Council)

Many victorian mansions, villas and cottages are still here… some have been renovated, refurbished, extended… I think they are really pretty! It is interesting to look at these houses, their architechture and to imagine their history. 

I really enjoy walking in Adelaide and I think it is a nice way to explore my new city. There is always something new to discover. The streets are so peaceful and so quiet… no wonder that Adelaide is called “The village in the city” – I can’t agree more on that!

I have found this free self guided tour and it is very entertaining: http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/assets/documents/MAP-TRAIL-historical-walking-village-city.pdf

The walk starts in the east part of Carrington street and there are exactly 28 stops along the way. A map and a detailed description is provided for each stop so you learn about the history of  some interesting mansions, villas or cottages. The tour is supposed to last 1 hour and a half but if you are like me, getting lost, taking pictures… make it double time!

You would think how can you possibly get lost with a map and in a small city like Adelaide… awkward… but true! It happens to me quite often actually… Hopefully Adelaide CBD is not huge so I don’t get lost for long. When “desperate” or in a hurry, I consider using my Iphone and I find my way rapidly… see I am not hopeless! But you know what, I actually enjoy to get lost because you never know what you can find out.

“Getting lost is just another way of saying: going exploring” – Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

I want to get lost in Adelaide, I want to see more of this beautiful city, I want to know the names of all the streets, I want to be able to name the different birds and flowers I see… there are so many things I still don’t know.

Someday I will know Adelaide like the back of my hand. Someday I will live in a charming Australian villa like the one on the picture. I particularly fancy the verandas and the balconies… so elegant and also so romantic!!!  When this day comes, you will find me sitting under the porch in a wooden rocking chair reading a book with a home made iced tea… Why don’t you join me?   😉

Learn to swim like a dolphin

Sometimes I dream I have a house on the beach so I can wake up each morning with the sound of the sea, enjoy my chai tea latte while gazing at the waves and eventually if I am lucky catch sight of some majestic dolphins…

It used to be only a dream but since I live now in Adelaide, I tend to think that maybe someday… who knows?!

Actually when I have learnt I was moving to Australia, I got excited and automatically started to think about things I wanted to do, places I wanted to visit. The first thing that came to my mind was “See the wild dolphins”!

We moved to Australia in September 2014 and I decided I will go and see the Dolphins the day of my birthday! I guess I wanted to make it special! I think it is nice sometimes to spice the day!

So when my birthday came, I went to Port Adelaide as planned. First, I started the day with a lovely breakfast at the Red Lime Shack: I had freshly made waffles with banana ice cream, berry coulis and pure maple syrup. I also drank a chocolava smoothie, basically raw cacao, bananas, coconut and dates. Everything tasted sooooo good, it was a perfect birthday breakfast to kick the day! https://www.facebook.com/RedLimeShack

Then I headed to the port and took a nice cruise with Dolphin Explorer. I really recommend them, the staff is so friendly and the captain is really nice and good fun too! http://www.dolphinexplorer.com.au

It was a very pleasant moment I must say. I was sitting on the upper deck, my hair dancing in the wind,  listening to the Captain’s comments about Port Adelaide history. Suddenly a group of dolphins showed up and started to swim along the vessel. They were absolutely gorgeous. What a moment!

The cruise went on and I really enjoyed my time. At some point, people started to get inside the boat to have lunch in the restaurant. I chose to stay outside to enjoy the show as much as possible!

A group of young people showed up on the upper deck with beers and sodas to celebrate which I thought was a good idea.  I mean even if you are not lucky and you do not see a single dolphin, you can still enjoy a lovely cruise with a fresh drink.

Later, I decided to make my way to the lower deck and I am glad I had this idea because I was in luck! Actually a dolphin started to swim only one meter away from me. It was a magic moment, I was totally hypnotized, I could not believe my eyes.  It was so closed from me…

I know this sound silly but the dolphin looked so happy, so free… enjoying the swim, sometimes  jumping, going up, going down, playing with the boat. It woke up my inner child and I was totally amazed… it was a lovely feeling. I could not help smiling…I felt so good, so happy, so alive!

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“Dolphins are social mammals, capable of enjoying their lives. They form close bonds with other members of their group.”Peter Singer.

When you think of it, we are not that different. We need to bond with people, to be part of “groups”…  We are unique but in the same time we are shaped by our social environment. Our need to connect with others is fundamental and gives us meaning. It is part of our happiness to share and to interact. It is what makes our lives so special and interesting. Don’t you think?

It is as simple as that: learn to swim like a dolphin through life, meet as many people as you can, connect with them, make friends, enjoy your time on earth and above all SMILE!

Once upon a time L’Occitane

Tuesday, after English class I had an interesting conversation with my friend Gabriela. She is from Venezuela (South America) and has been living in Adelaide for 3 years.

Somehow we started to talk about beauty products (ah girls….) and she told me that she was in love with a famous French brand called: L’Occitane

Actually when I was living in London, my friend Joyce (from Brazil) told me exactly the same thing! Each time she had an opportunity to travel to France, she would buy L’Occitane beauty products! I mean they ship worldwide but it is way cheaper to buy the products locally! Although I would not say either that these beauty products are what I would call “cheap” in France.

Anyway, I thought since this brand seems to be pretty successful abroad, let’s write about it!

In my opinion L’Occitane is a good brand and their products have a wonderful fragrance and a good quality.

Now close your eyes and imagine the Lavender fields in Provence in the South of France! Try to picture the local Mediterranean culture, artisanal bakeries,  purple eggplants, ripe tomatoes, grapevines, lavender perfume in the air… Now you start getting a taste of the beautiful Provence in France… L’Occitane beauty products are all made there and also in Corsica (also a beautiful area)! They believe in the art of healing through plants and they use natural ingredients.

My favorite products from this brand are:

  • Aromachologie repairing shampoo: I just love this shampoo, it smells amazing, it makes your hair very shiny and beautiful! Frankly all their shampoos are the best and I always get compliments when using them! I have tested other brands but so far these are my favorites and my hair is very demanding.
  • Shea butter hand cream: again, it smells so good and will leave your hands as soft as a baby skin! This product is so successful it is said that they are selling this hand cream every 3 seconds around the world! For the record, it is so good that when I was living and working in Paris in finance, I was sharing my office with a man. Guess what, he had this shea butter hand cream on his desk (a present from his wife)! Sometimes his male colleagues would have a chat with him at his desk and use the cream too while talking to each other… it was hilarious to see these “macho men” having a little chat while hydrating their hands! Actually it was like watching an episode of ‘Sex and the City” except that in this situation Carrie Bradshaw was a French man named Philippe wearing big black shoes!

In my mind, all their products smell divine and a lot of my French friends like this brand too. It is quite common in France to offer these beauty products for Christmas or a birthday or any occasion actually… like I said it is popular, it is a good brand and it makes a perfect gift!

Now you are starting to get curious?! Hopefully there are many L’Occitane shops around the world so you don’t have to buy a flight ticket to go to France:  http://www.loccitane.com

What about you? What is your beauty routine? Do you have many L’Occitane products in your bathroom?

As for me, in my twenties I used to be a huge fan of their products and owned many of them (facial care, body care, soap, candles)… Now I only buy their shampoos and hand/foot creams.

Don’t get me wrong I still like them! But now I am getting older, I favour other wonderful natural beauty products to pamper my face, my body and my soul… but this is another story… coming soon 😉

 

 Stay bold and fearless!

Traveling and living overseas has definitively become a part of who I am. I wouldn’t say that I am a new person now but I feel different for sure!

In order to embrace my new lifestyle I had to adapt, to learn, to compromise! Sometimes it was not easy but each victory, even smalls onces have helped me to grow in a beautiful way. Today I feel confident about my future, determined to be happy and above all bold and fearless!

I mean if you can get over of moving to another country far from your family and friends, leave your comfort zone, learn a new language, deal with the uncertainty… you can get over (nearly) anything!

It takes courage, patience and motivation to build a new life but it is also very enriching and so rewarding! Each day is a challenge with a situation to overcome. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail. It does not matter because the most important is to keep trying! You gain strength, confidence and suddently you start to do things you would never have considered before: Yoga, Chinese  class, creative writing workshops with native people, a blog in English, driving lessons… and this is a wonderful feeling!

For those who are sharing the same lifestyle, I am sure you agree on the fact that living abroad has pushed you to experiment new things to have new perspectives, to have new projects and also to deal with your fears…

Speaking of that, on Sunday I was invited for a walk in Morialta conservation Park (an amazing place 20 minutes away from Adelaide). I was really thrilled because I love the “Australian wild” the kangaroos, the koalas… I was already picturing myself walking in the rocks, gazing at the trees and the flowers, listening to the birds, crossing a river… dancing with the butterflies!

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It turned out that I was completely wrong! I was not invited for a walk in the rocks but for rock climbing instead! At least I got the word “rock” right… I knew I was not going to go shopping in Adelaide CBD for sure haha! This is the thing when you are learning a language, sometimes you think you understand and you say “Yes, sure, count me in” and the minute after you realise you made a huge mistake and you feel a little bit silly!

But like I said, the whole point of this experience is also to try new things and as I said now I am bold and fearless… So guess what, I did it! I have never done it before but somehow I have managed to climb this gigantic rock… of course I was scared and not really relaxed but I succeeded! I was really proud of me and really glad I did not give up. And it was not easy because I was not wearing the right shoes… my Converse trainers are pretty but they are not ideal for this sport!

In conclusion, it was a lovely day, it was challenging and fun! I have learnt some climbing techniques, how to use my body , how to use the rope… it was very interesting. Furthermore Morialta park is absolutely gorgeous with splendid waterfalls, the scenery is amazing and there are a lof of wild animals (I have seen a kangaroo). I would be happy to come back for a nice and long walk next time!

I have really enjoyed this new adventure, I would not call myself a Lara Croft (yet) but I am glad I did not let my fear decide my fate!

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 http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Adelaide_Hills/Morialta_Conservation_Park

Pavlova, the ballet dessert!

Pavlova seems to be a dessert the australians enjoy during summer time… A lot of people around me (natives essentially) have mentioned it many times saying that they had this dessert for christmas… I was really curious about it and I was wondering what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like… Is it good? refreshing? Sweet?

Today, for the first time since I arrived in Australia, I had the chance to taste this popular dessert! Colleen our English teacher cooked one for us. I was thrilled to get to know more about my new country and its cuisine!

Actually Pavlova is a meringue cake, it has a crisp crust on the outside and it is soft like a cloud in the inside. It is topped with whipped cream and fruits such as strawberries, berries… Colleen has put bananas inside to add a special taste. She told to our class that it was quite easy to cook! I think the hardest part is to get the meringue right. You can buy ready made meringue but I think it does not feel the same.

This dessert is a traditional and festive dish that australians enjoy a lot. It is believed to have been created in honor of the beautiful and famous Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova when she visited Australia. The texture and the white colour is supposed to remind you of a beautiful and elegant ballet tutu. Poetic isn’t it?

It tasted very sweet and each bites were litterary melting in my mouth. I really liked it and I hope I will have other opportunities to savour this typical Aussie dessert 🙂

As for those who are not living in Australia and curious to taste a Pavlova, here is a recipe that will make you want to practise your arabesque!

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/the-best-pavlova/

Whether you favour sweet or savoury, Bali is the key!

« People who love to eat are always the best people.» Julia Child

Bali is a beautiful country full of colours and smiling faces, and somehow you manage to find all these ingredients in their authentic and unique cuisine. Balinese cuisine is generous and each plate is a symphony of flavors where the rice is the key note.

As my first time in Bali, I had the chance to live in a villa and to experience Ketut’s wonderful cooking. She cooked for us amazing and traditionnal dishes that I really recommend you to try when in Bali :

  • Nasi Goreng: basically fried rice mixed with spices, vegetables, eggs and sweet soy sauce. I really liked it.
  • Satay : Spices marinated meat barbecued… yummy!
  • Gado Gado : vegetable salad covered with peanut sauce. It was really good!
  • Pepes Ikan Tongkol : Languan fish and spices wrapped in banana leaf and grilled. This cooking technique gives a lovely taste to the fish.
  • Nasi Kuning Bali : actually balinese yellow rice. The best rice I have ever tasted in my life!

Overall everything was absolutely delicious!

I have also asked Ketut what her favorite meal was since she is a local and I was curious to know about it ! She told me she likes “babi Guling”. It is a kind of dish made with a whole suckling pig and the inside is stuffed with spices and vegetables… then it is grilled and rolled over a charcoal. I have not tried it but I feel next time I go to Bali, I will give it a try because the way she was describing it I could tell this was something amazing!

I have also fallen in love with two restaurants in Bali that I am sure you will fancy too ❤

My favorite one is pretty popular and called the « Betelnut Cafe » and it is in Canggu facing a beautiful rice paddy (actually very closed from Echo Beach). The place looks great, nice decoration and the staff is really friendly. Everything is fresh, very healthy and it tastes marvellous! I recommend the balinese salad with a fruit dragon smoothie… Just perfect !

I also like a famous organic restaurant and shop called « Bali Buda ». There are 4 of them in Bali and you can easily locate them in Sanur, Ubud, Keroban and Bukit. Everything is homemade everyday and tastes great. They bake bread each morning before the sun rises and it has nothing to envy to French bakeries. If you feel overwhelmed by the menu, you should give a try to the yellow curry and the mud chocolate cake… I have to confess I am still dreaming of it when I have a craving for chocolate…

What can I say, Bali makes my heart dreamy, my soul shiny and my belly happy 🙂

 

Betelnut Cafe
Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No. 60
Canggu, Kuta,
Bali, Indonesia
Tel : 62 821-4680-7233
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Betelnut-Cafe/289844997715255

 

Bali Buda Ubud
Jl Jembawan #1
(across from the Ubud Post Office)
Ubud, Mas, Gianyar 80571
Bali, Indonesia
Tel. (0361) 976324 / 978963
http://www.balibuda.com