CreativeMornings Cleveland Serves a Dose of Good Medicine with Claire Campbell

Some times we hear creative and we think that’s not me. A feeling of inferiority takes over. We think I don’t sing, or act, or dance, or paint. But when we put ourselves in an environment that supports, promotes, and nurtures creativity we realize we are all creatives – whether we’re designing a website, tending to our garden, writing a thank you card, or experiencing what another has created at an art museum or concert.

Nearly a decade has passed since Tina Roth Eisenberg (Swissmiss) first brought together like-minded, friendly creatives in her New York City community for some free coffee and a short chat. And thus began CreativeMornings – a place for creatives to nurture, network, and grow within their local communities.

CreativeMornings is exactly the type of event I love to seek out when traveling alone and am in the need to talk to another human being – a laid-back, free breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Over the past decade this creative community has spread around the world to 180 cities – from Auckland to London to Minneapolis to Mexico City.

The structure is simple, one Friday a month creatives come together for a free talk geared around a global theme. Global themes are selected by various chapters throughout the year, and each chapter coordinates a short talk and Q&A.

Get Inspired by past themes such as: Content, Compassion, Death, Transparency, Weird, Minimal, Freedom, Money, and Space at

I found myself walking with a friend in the blistering cold outside Tyler Village on the Eastside of Cleveland between the refurbished Warehouses that now house a coffee shop, high school, and design firms, on my way to my second CreativeMornings talk. As we made our way through the building to Balance Innovation & Design – this month’s host site – more people began to appear until we entered a room filled with Cleveland creatives laughing and talking – some meeting up with new friends made at past talks – while checking in and grabbing a cup of coffee and bagel.

This month’s popular global theme Anxiety – chosen by the Bucharest chapter – sold out (its free, so basically registration was filled). Host – Thomas Fox – and other volunteers brought in speaker – Claire Campbell. An artist, Licensed Clinical Counselor, Art Therapist, Clinical Director and faculty member in the Clinical Mental Heath Counselor Education Graduate Program at Cleveland State University, Campbell provided creatives with a holistic approach to calming anxiety in her talk – Good Medicine.

With a soft soothing cadence to her voice, Campbell guided us through a flow and short breathing moment to center ourselves. I say moment, because it wasn’t an exercise or mediation per say, but just a minute or so to catch our breaths and center ourselves. And it was this calming tone that carried us through her short talk.

Experiencing nerves about presenting a talk on anxiety, a not-forgotten childhood memory of learning to swim and feeling as if she was drowning, and struggling with anxiety after the events of September 11th, Campbell stood infant of us as another human, another creative struggling with the pain that is inevitable in life.

The struggle to experience our feelings – to acknowledge the pain and darkness that is unavoidable in life – is at the crux of our anxiety. Working off the teachings of Tibetan Buddhists, Campbell discussed the need to stay in the dark and pain in order to heal. We have the power to provide ourselves mindful prescriptions to heal our minds and bodies, and she gave us a few daily doses to take with us.

Daily Doses:

  • Noticing – pay attention to what gives you joy and good energy
  • Keep noticing
  • Grow fully – give yourself the time, nourishment, and patience to grow
  • Stay rooted
  • Move upward & forward
  • See oneself
  • Pride – have it in yourself

As she started the meeting in Flow, Campbell also ended the meeting with a quiet Flow reminding us to stay intentional and mindful of what gives us good energy.

The next Friday you find yourself home or traveling to a new city in need of some free coffee, thoughtful discussion, and creative inspiration look for a CreativeMornings talk – you’re bound to be near one!

CreativeMornings Cleveland talks take place the third Friday of each month at various locations around the city. For more information on Cleveland talks go to

5 Winter Festivals to Visit Around the World

With the holiday season officially upon us, there are endless Christmas markets and Winter festivals taking place around the world. Whether you’re looking to see the biggest Christmas tree, performers, go ice skating, or sweat on the beach there’s a winter festival for everyone.

Here are four of my favorites and one on my wish-list: 

1.  Rockefeller Center – New York, New York, USA


For over eight decades Rockefeller Center has been the epicenter for Christmas in New York City attracting over half a million visits daily. From experience, trust me when I say its busy – all the time – but getting a picture with the massive Christmas Tree behind you is well worth braving the crowd (Free!). This year, you will have until January 7 at 9pm ET to view the tree.

In addition to the famous tree, there is an outdoor ice skating rink; The Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular; views of the city for miles from 70 stories up at Top of the Rock; and over 100 shops and dining options.

2.  Public Square – Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Having landed on National Geographic’s Best Trips 2018 List this year, there is no better time to visit my hometown than this holiday season! Start off in Public Square with a Christmas tree; lights show; ice skating rink; casino; shopping and dining at Tower City; and the Cleveland Carolers on Saturdays through December 24. Walk over to East Fourth Street for more lights and award-winning dining at Michael Simon’s barbecue restaurant Mabel’s BBQ or farm-to-table fare at Jonathan Sawyer’s Greenhouse Tavern.

And don’t forget to visit the Christmas Story House where the holiday classic The Christmas Story was filmed. The house is an exact replica of the film set with a gift shop across the street. You can then head over to Tremont’s Professor Avenue for boutique shopping and more great restaurants.

3.  Grafton Street Christmas Lights – Dublin, Ireland


I happened upon the Grafton Street Christmas Lights Ceremony by complete accident while visiting Dublin for my birthday. A family-friendly event that takes over Dublin’s most famous pedestrian shopping street there is something for everyone. Though the actual ceremony has already taken place this year, you can still stroll down the street looking up at the spectacle of lights strung from shop to shop with background music provided by the many musicians busking. There is no shortage of shopping and dining.

On Christmas Eve, make your way down for the annual sing-along with musician Glen Hansard to raise money for homeless shelters throughout Ireland. Hansard is a founding member of the homeless campaign Home Sweet Home. In years past, Hansard has been joined by local musicians such as Bono, Hozier, The Script, The Coronas, Damien Rice, Rick Mundy amongst others singing to 100s and bringing the busy street to a stand-still. Keep in mind last year’s event was so crowded it had to end early, so be safe and listen to the local Gardai.

Note: There are also Christmas Lights on Henry St. and O’Connell St. where there is a 40 foot Christmas Tree.

4.  Christmas in Brisbane – Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane Christmas King George Square

Surfing, barbecue on the beach, thongs (flip-flops) – anyone from the Northern Hemisphere is going to feel like they just saw a unicorn experiencing their first holiday season in Australia. Brisbane delivers with a Christmas spectacle throughout the city from November 25 through December 24.

You can visit King George Square to view the Christmas tree, and beginning December 8 see the City Hall Lights projection show until Christmas Eve. Over at Riverstage the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols have their annual show on December 9. There’s also a nightly Christmas Parade with music, performers, Santa, and a nativity scene weaving through the streets from December 15 – 24.

If that’s not enough for you, head to South Bank for the Pop-Up Christmas Village to peruse a plethora of gift options and visit one of the numerous restaurants and bars to relax after a day of shopping.

All of the above events are Free!

Note: If you want to see a tree decorated with surf boards, take a trip down the coast to Byron Bay. My confusion quickly turned to child-like delight!

5.  Winter Wonders and Christmas Market – Brussels, Belgium

Lets be honest Europe does the Christmas market like no other. Sure in The States we have Christmas lights the likes of Clark Griswold, cookies, and Black Friday shopping, but a European market is basically a carnival during the winter. Belgium has been on my Europe wish-list for years and now the Winter Wonders and Christmas Market in Brussels is tops on my things to do in Belgium list.

Running from November 24 – December 31, Winter Wonders has plenty to enjoy from over 200 chalets, to a ride on the ferris wheel or merry-go-round, to ice skating under a covered rink. You can watch a light show and then take a photo in-front of the massive Christmas tree on the city’s Grand-Place.

Winter Pop events also take place in four other quarters: Square Ambiorix, Haren, Neder-Over-Heembeek, and Laeken.

If you’re near any of the above festival, head over and enjoy.  And, if you have your own suggestions for Winter Festivals and Christmas Markets share with all via the comments section.




About three hours into a text thread with my brother and cousin to try and get tickets to the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics game, I was seriously beginning to regret my decision to take part in this Thursday night sports venture. I mean it’s a basketball game, early in the season, against the Celtics – not worth the money or hassle, right? Oh, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Over the past few years since Lebron James has come back to Cleveland, being a Cavs fan has turned into a global phenomenon. Celebrities now descend upon our little city on Lake Erie in May and June to watch the NBA playoffs; Usher is a minority owner; and one of the Kardashians is dating Tristan Thompson. Cleveland and our sports teams (well the Cavs and Indians) have gone from a joke to being considered ‘cool’. And Cavaliers’ games have gone from heading down to Quicken Loans Arena an hour early to get your game giveaway to a full blown event.

View from the floor seats at Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics game Dec. 29, 2016
View from the floor seats at Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics game Dec. 29, 2016


After five hours searching for floor seats via Flashseats – because if you’re going to go, go big – I met my brother, sister-in-law, and three cousins for cocktails and a bite to eat. The Cleveland culinary scene has blown up in the past ten years with chefs like Rocco Whalen, Dante Boccuzzi, Michael Simon, and Jonathan Sawyer opening up restaurants throughout the city and nearby suburbs, and going to one before a game has become a must. We decided on meeting at RED Steakhouse in the trendy East 4th District. RED has been named one of the 10 Best Restaurants in the country, and though a most-of-the-time vegan, I can appreciate the menu’s options of quality steaks, cauliflower hash, truffle tator tots, and au gratin potatoes (seriously I praise the genius who put them on the menu).

My cousin had the classic Caesar salad, while my brother and sister-in-law shared the truffled tator tots and filet. I treated myself to some animal and had a perfectly cooked salmon and grilled asparagus (the asparagus comes with bolognaise if you prefer). We all finished our meals extremely satisfied. The atmosphere is upscale casual without any stuffiness, and the décor is simple dark woods accented with red seats and clean lines. The bar was staffed with three friendly attentive bartenders so that you never had to wait long for service.

After food and drinks, we headed across the street to The Q for the game. Though there are some great restaurants throughout downtown and just across the river, if you’re able to get into one along Prospect or anywhere in the East 4th District then you’re only a few minutes’ walk right next to the arena. This is definitely a bonus during the bitter cold winter nights in Cleveland. And if RED doesn’t sound like your scene, there is Flannery’s Pub a traditional Irish pub that has been a staple in Cleveland for nearly 20-years, Barrio serving up tacos and whisky in a hipster casual scene, local brewery and restaurant The Butcher and the Brew, or Michael Simon’s newest venture Mable’s BBQ. There’s also a dozen more spots you can check out.


As a kid, I remember going to games at what was then Gund Arena, and watching Mark Price, Larry Nance, Brad Doughty, Craig Ehlo, and Danny Ferry play against the likes of Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Scotty Pippen, Michael Jordan, John Stockton, and Carl Malone. You got to the game a little early to buy your pop and hotdog and then you sat and watched ten guys run around the court playing a game. During time-outs you chatted with your neighbor and that was pretty much it. Not anymore.

Once we made our way across the street, through the concourse and crowds buying beer, food from B Spot, jerseys, and one kid getting his hair spray-painted, we came out to our seats four rows behind the basket. I was immediately taken aback by my proximity to the players and the fact that the court looked so small in person. Being that close you realize with all the chaos around you, these guys are playing a game you once played as a kid on the same size court. But let’s be honest, it’s not the same basketball we played as kids. Now there are 360-dunks and a physicality that has grown with the global popularity of the sport.

Gold and wine sprinkles throughout the arena, kids hold up signs for Lebron and a few for the Celtics, while Moondog runs around rallying up the crowd. The noise level is borderline deafening when the Cavs come out for warm-up and somehow gets even louder when the starting line-up is announced.

The one moment of calm and quiet comes when the national anthem is sang by the 20,000-plus crowd led by a local police sergeant. Simple, melodic, and in-tune it was quite beautiful, but then someone yelled ‘Go Cavs’ and the crazy started back up.


The next two and a half hours were filled with horns, chants, screaming fans and players, Scream Teams and Cavs Girls dancing during time outs. Speaking of timeouts – they’re no longer a twenty or sixty-second reprieve from the game – but a manic frenzy of flying balls and t-shirts thrown into the crowd, dance parties, and percussion teams plying garbage cans, ladders, and cymbals.

We got to watch a Christmas home video of two brothers from Iowa (Karson(11) and Kole (14) Wehde) opening up tickets for this game and screaming in sheer joy that they’re going to a Cavs game in Cleveland. Those same boys led us through the dance cam during a timeout.

Oh, and there was a pretty good basketball game going on during this spectacle. The Boston Celtics were able to make a game of it with a fourth quarter rally from 18-behind to bring it to a one point game in the final two minutes. But, our mighty Cavs were able to pull out a four-point victory with Richard Jefferson’s final-seconds rebound and two free-throws.

Lebron James warming up
Lebron James warming up

You’re not just going to see a basketball game in Cleveland, you’re going to experience an event. You’ll cheer on your fellow fans trying to win money and tickets playing games stolen from The Price is Right just as loud as you cheer for Kyrie; experience Christmas wishes of two boys coming true; and witness grown men screaming like children while other grown men play a game we all learned as children.

For a few hours you will embrace your inner child and the insanity of an NBA basketball game. Well, at least until you go back outside and Cleveland smacks you in the face with an Arctic wind off Lake Erie.

Dodging the Schoolies While in Byron Bay

So when I first started researching places to visit in Australia, I thought Byron Bay was going to be my favorite. An easy-going surfer town with beautiful beaches and bushwalks,img_1808 I figured this is right up my alley and a great place to end the trip. I booked five nights and was looking forward to lounging on the beach.
Then I got there and realized I was smack in the middle of Schoolies. What is Schoolies? It’s the end of term party week for Year 12 graduates in all three states – Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. I mean there’s an actual website where they book trips to party for a week post-grad and each state is assigned a specific week. So what was supposed to be chill was basically a high school graduation party.

That being said, I didn’t not enjoy my stay, I just had to modify where I went a bit.

Most of the kids were staying right in the center of town. I had already booked my stay just outside of town on Belongil Beach. This worked out perfectly as I was able to hang out onimg_1800 the beach across the street and avoid Main Beach. Belongil is less busy and caters to more of the local crowd. There were two restaurants at the corner of the street. Each morning I visited Belongil Bistro  for breakfast and a couple nights at the Treehouse at Belongil for dinner. Both had great food, super relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff.
My afternoons were spent in town shopping or having lunch. I usually could only handle the city kids playing hippie in their barefeet and twirling balls on strings for a couple hours before heading back to Belongil.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Cape Byron Walking Trail was a great day excursion. There is also The Farm, which is a working farm that hosts a farm-to-table restaurant and a few other small businesses, and then the Byron Arts and Industry Estate housing over 30 local artists’ studios and galleries.

When I mentioned going to Byron Bay earlier in my trip people mentioned backpackers and gap year kids, so I’m not sure if it was just the time of year or there’s always such a mass amount of kids wanting to party and pretend to be a hippie for a week. I suppose it’s like any town – the center is hectic and lively – with the outer limits more tame and local oriented. I feel a bit like an old lady writing this and caught myself a few times wanting to tell these kids to put their sunscreen on already!

Byron Bay is definitely worth the visit for scenery, beaches, art, and food. I would still recommend staying either in Belongil or if you can afford it Wategos Beach. Both areas are quieter with local spots for food and entertainment with more of an authentic vibe, and only a short walk to town.

Guess I’ll just have to go back during fall or spring to see how it is in the off-season!

Discover Beaches and Rainforest in Byron Bay Via the Coastal Walking Trail

While in Byron Bay, visiting the Cape Byron Lighthouse is a must. Of course you can drive up, but I chose to walk the Cape Byron Walking Track. A scenic 2.2 mile loop that takes you through rainforest, beach, grassland, and clifftops to the lighthouse.

I began my trek from Belongil Beach about a 2 mile walk before reaching the start of the walking track. Coming out on Bay Street, I just followed the path along Main Beach and picked up the walking track at Clarkes Beach. 

The first part of the walk took me along Lighthouse Road through Palm Valley and past The Pass – a popular spot with surfers. After ascending into the forest, I came down to the affluent neighborhood of Wategos Beach. A beautiful little nook of beach, I stopped here for a rest and to cool off with a little swim. Wategos Beach is home to dolphins year round, but I wasn’t lucky enough to spot any during my stop.

About an hour later, I packed up and tackled the steepest portion of the walk up the steps to the most eastern point of mainland Australia. When I say steep steps I am not kidding, and there a lot of them. I was quite winded and reminded that I definitely need to add some hills to my workouts! 

This point is definitely a photo-op moment with views all the way down the bay coast. Jutting out from the edge of the cliff, the wind picks up and provides a nice reprieve from the cloudless 85 degree heat. 

There’s just one more incline and then a final set of stairs to reach the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Once at the top, I took the opportunity to enjoy the view of the bay and the surrounding bushland to the south. There’s a nice little cafe offering light snacks and beverages – cash only with no ATM so don’t forget your money. 

I had read about an alternative track down through the bush – Tallow Ridge Track – that takes you through the rainforest. I wasn’t too sure how well marked it was and didn’t see anyone else taking it, so I opted on the side of caution and retraced my steps back down. 

I did take a short loop through Palm Valley at The Pass with only some lizards as my fellow walking companions. The vegetation was so lush on the path, I was sure I was going the wrong way and was heading deep into the forest, but as noted at the start I was only a hundred meters from the park. Now I didn’t feel so bad about forgoing the Tallow Ridge Track.

It’s suggested to give yourself two hours for the walk. I knew I wanted to make a day of it and stop off at a couple of the beaches. That said I got to the start of the walking track about eleven in the morning and was back in town at four in the afternoon. If you’re in a rush, you could do it in an hour, but where’s the fun in that?!

Take your time and enjoy the amazingness of being able to walk along beaches and into the rainforest moments later. No where else except Byron Bay.

Broken windows,spotty wifi, and kangaroos

After spending three days in a tent, I was looking forward to staying in an apartment in Brisbane. My initial introduction got off to a bit of a rough start. Upon arriving at my Airbnb, I found the Air-conditioning not working, so I went to open the windows. Two window panes were busted out with only a curtain covering them. The door to the balcony didn’t fully close and that window was busted with a piece of plywood covering the opening. Oh, and the wifi was actually borrowed from the neighboring shop and spotty at best. So… I decided to go to a hotel in the city.

My host got back to me a couple days later and was very thorough in his explanation of each issue (all known), how it’s not a hotel, and no one else had problems with them. I kind of felt like an ass for a minute and then thought, no, advertise what you have and no matter the cost of the room all windows should be intact. So no refund, but as they say in Australia ‘no worries’! 

I did meet a super nice American working the front desk at the hotel – Royal on the Park. We were both excited to chat with someone from home, and about something other than Donald Trump. Everything worked out for the best, as I realized how much I missed the amenities of an actual hotel (not motel, apartment or tent) – location, minibar, room cleaned everyday. Well worth the cost!

With museums, restaurants, gardens, and a man-made beach on the Southbank, I most excited to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Only 12km outside Brisbane in the suburb Fig Tree Pocket, it is the oldest and largest Koala sanctuary in the world. 

In addition to the 130 koalas at the sanctuary, you can find kangaroos, tasmanian devils, dangos, wombats, reptiles, birds, and many more animal species. The animals are brought to the sanctuary to live and be protected for the rest of their lives. Not sold, bought, traded or used in animal testing, the goal is to allow the animals to behave as naturally as possible in a protective environment. From what I could see the animals are given plenty of space and the staff does seem genuinely invested in the animals’ best interests.

By far the highlight was not only seeing animals completely foreign to the States, but actually interacting with some of them. I was able to hold a koala – so soft and calm. It was like holding a furry baby. 


The kangaroo feeding area allowed more extensive interaction. Walking among the kangaroos and birds, you were allowed to feed and sit and pet the them. I spent about a half-hour petting and walking among them. They seemed almost indifferent to the people, making it easy to forget these were kangaroos! 

It’s funny, most of Australia doesn’t seem all that different from the States until you think about the animals native to Australia. Being at Lone Pine reminded me of the vast differences in animals throughout the world, and that I was on the other side of the planet!

No Cell Phones Allowed: Escape to Lady Elliot Island

The thirteen seater plane, circled before landing on Lady Elliot  Island, the most southern island in the Great Barrier Reef. An eco-resort that takes its environmental education programs as serious as its snorkeling and diving, LEI is a sanctuary from modern technology. No cell phones, no wifi, no television in the rooms. LEI gives us an excuse to turn off all the unnecessary noise we let into our lives but really do not need. 

I came prepared with a book and bathing suit and figured if I started going through tech-withdrawal, it was only three days. Immediately after collecting my complimentary snorkeling gear and making my way to the lagoon for a solo snorkel, I wished I could stay forever. The lagoon was the most translucent blue I had seen with the coral visible just below the surface. With my head under water, all I could hear was the rhythmic sounds of my long slow breathes. Listening to my breathing and watching the coral life below, I let myself float where the current took me. I had snorkeled with turtles, a reef shark, and schools of fish for hours before I even checked into my room. 

Lady Elliott Island offers three accommodation options: beach front suites with air conditioning, garden suites, and eco-tents. I opted for the eco-tent, which is a minimalist permanent tent structure with wooden floors that sleeps four. There’s a light, outlet, and fan. With a small bedside table and towels, you really have everything you’ll need for your stay. Oddly, I found it cleaner and more comfortable than the last motel I stayed at in Bundaberg. 

Though there was a roof, I was essentially sleeping in a tent and at night could hear the wind fluttering the sides and the Green Catbirds crying outside. They hide in the trees during the day and come out at night, with calls that literally sound like crying babies. After the first night, I was used the the birds and slept through everything. 

When not snorkeling or diving the island offered numerous activities from discovery and environmental walks to fish feeding and reef walks. It’s currently turtle nesting season on the island, so we were lucky to sea some turtles while snorkeling and were given tips on spotting turtles laying eggs after sunset. I’ll be honest after snorkeling all day I was in bed by 8pm. Also during the turtle update, Jenny of the activities team let us know that turtles are pretty much scared of everything on land as they spend the majority of their lives at sea, so I didn’t really want to be sneaking up on them in the night.

Having forgotten to grab my camera the first two days of snorkeling, I took one last excursion on my final day to catch a few pretty fish in action. Unfortunately, it had just stormed so the current was a little rough and apparently I lack the ability to swim and take pictures at the same time. I got a few blurry shots and a nice coral scrape up the side of my leg. But it’s alright, I got to see the Great Barrier Reef and swim with the fish and sharks. Something that doesn’t quite translate in a photo no matter how pretty it looks on the screen or paper.

Three days spent snorkeling, walking LEI, and reading on the beach without any phone or emails was perfect. Most of the time I had stopped reading and simply sat listening to the breeze and ocean while the birds flew overhead. Lady Elliot Island puts you at ease and never makes you feel that your missing out on anything back home. It really takes you back to the simple basics and lets you just breath a little lighter and be present.

Where Do You Find the Art of Melbourne… All Around

I was looking forward to seeing the infamous street art of Melbourne, but was unprepared for all the various art forms embraced by the city. In addition to the spray painted lanes of the city, there are the gardens, art galleries, and live music throughout the city. 


We call them parks, Australians call them gardens and the name is fitting. Parks are a plot of grass in the middle of city concrete, gardens are created by landscape artists incorporating the surrounding buildings and pedestrians into the design. 

Staying in Fitzroy, I was flanked by the Carlton Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens. Both equally beautiful in design, they made me forget I was in the fastest growing city in Australia. Walking through the Carlton Gardens with the scent of lavender around you, you’ll pass the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building. While the Fitzroy Gardens invites you to pick a sunny or shady spot under a tree to take a little nap or read a book.

I must say the Royal Botanic Gardens was beautiful and a quiet respite from the city. Walking trails through eucalyptus trees and the Fern Gully really puts you in another place – a jungle far away. By far, I much preferred Melbourne’s to Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.


The National Gallery of Victoria exhibits works by renowned Australian artists, original Aboriginal pieces showing the history of Australia’s indigenous people, and international exhibits. 

My two favorite exhibits were those of Bruce Armstrong and David Hackney. Armstrong, a native of Australia, sculpts animals out of various types of wood. The pieces ranging in size from a small table top piece to life-size. 

David Hackney, an English artist, showed his landscape and portrait work utilizing an iPad and iPhone. He would utilize the iPad to finish his paintings – changing color and composition as needed. The exhibit showcased various print sizes, some spanning all four walls of a gallery room. There were also iPads and video screens showing the creation of the piece in progress. It was quite amazing seeing what an iPad can create. 


Melbourne is famous for the murals of its street artists. Hosier and Flinders Lanes are probably the most famous, but I also enjoyed AC/DC Lane and the Aboriginal portrait at the corner of Johnston and Fitzroy. 

The city and artists seem to embrace the tourism aspect with street art walking tours. The one night I happened upon Hosier Lane, numerous tourists and locals were walking the street taking pictures, and watching an artist in mid-painting. The guy didn’t seem to notice as if it’s a regular occurrence.


Melbourne prides itself as Australia’s live music capital. This week was Melbourne Music Week (MMW), with events throughout the city. Last night on my way to visit the State Library of Victoria, I happened upon a free concert in the library courtyard with food and a beer  garden. There were families, teenagers, hipsters, tourists, and businessmen all in attendance. The exhibit inside the library was the history of independent radio station Triple R. On display were pieces of old radio equipment throughout the station’s existence, videos, and memorabilia. 

MMW aside, I also saw baskers at Queen Victoria Market. They weren’t just some kids strumming on a guitar, but legitimate singers. And, there was a mutual respect between the acts. While a duo finished up their set another singer waited patiently to begin, and the guys introduced him after finishing their set. It was just nice to see artists show each other respect. 

And each night walking home I got to pop in a pub or stand outside listening to jazz music filter on to Brunswick Street. Honestly if you’re in Fitzroy, you can hear music any night of the week. 
With gardens, museums, street art, and music there is something for everyone who appreciates art and finding something beautiful in a concrete canvas. 

Dinner on the Yarra: Night Noodle Market

One of the things I most look forward to while traveling is finding delicious vegetarian food, so it was to my delight that I stumbled upon Night Noodle Market this evening.

While heading back into Melbourne CBD along the Yarra River, I noticed a bunch of people walking along Federation Wharf toward food tents. As this is Melbourne Music Week, I figured there was a concert happening. Instead of heading to get dinner at Vegie Bar as planned, I headed down to the wharf. 

Was it a concert I had stumbled upon? No…it was an Asian food market – Night Noodle Market. From the lines that wrapped around the walkways, I can only guess Melbourne’s best restaurants and food trucks showed up.

Three tent areas spread across Birrarung Mair Park with music, food, and drinks. All ages from babies to seniors walked around eating and laughing. I had vegetarian dumplings and spring rolls with sweet chili sauce and a Coopers Pale Ale. Everything was delicious, well the beer could’ve been better. It veered more toward Miller Lite than a microbrew. Though to be honest I’m not sure Coopers is a microbrewery.

As the sun set behind the city skyline, I thought this is why walking without a map rocks! 

A Rainy Weekend on the Mornington Peninsula

Initially the plan was to drive from Sydney to Melbourne and stop off  at a few coastal towns and the Mornington Peninsula, but then I remembered I don’t drive and I really don’t drive on the left side of the road. So, I opted to take the 11 hour train ride fromSydney to Melbourne and then another train and bus down to the Mornington Peninsula for a few days. It may sound like a waste of a day, but I was able to see the farmlands of Southern New South Wales and Victoria, and then the coastal towns along the Peninsula that a short airplane ride would have flown right over. And isn’t that the point of travelling – to actually see the towns and cities that make up a country?  

The bus ride down Nepean Highway along Port Phillip Bay was gorgeous. A clear day, we weaved along with the Bay peaking through trees and houses along the right. Then the bus drove up the cliff edge of Dormana and the Bay came into full view – turquoise blue with sailboats dotting the water.  It was a postcard. I was so jealous of the high school kids getting on and off the bus as they get to live here! But, at least I would get four days of coastal bliss, or so I thought. 

After that first afternoon, of 65 degrees and clear skies, it rained for the next three days. Windy and cold, there were a few breaks in the weather. I was able to walk around Sorrento – a quaint coastal town with shops, cafes, art galleries, and quirky bookshops. 

Though a little disappointed I wouldn’t get to swim with dolphins, I did get to turn it into a spa weekend and visit the popular Peninsula Hot Springs – a natural hot springs day spa. Natural mineral water flows into private baths and outdoor pools. 

I chose a relaxation massage and bathing in the Spa Dreaming Center reserved for adults with its tranquil spaces, private pools, and treatments. The outdoor pools are protected from the elements by the forest trees and a few partial coverings. Which worked out nicely as there was a little rain that afternoon.  

A little apprehensive about sharing pools with strangers, I got over that as soon as I walked through the bath garden. Built directly into the forest surroundings, there is a relaxed calm emanating around the bath pools that seems to put everyone at ease. Each pool has a specific health benefit and temperature level, so everyone can find one to suit them.  

The plan had been swimming with dolphins, but I can’t complain about the rainy day spa treatment I got instead. A laid-back relaxing weekend on the Mornington Peninsula was welcomed after hours spent on planes, trains, and buses over the past week. But I am definitely ready to head to Melbourne for some music and street art.