One of the perks of being self-employed is having the flexibility and freedom to take time away from work when other people are the busiest. For the past two and a half years, I've worked as an independent business consultant helping restaurant chains strategically grow (my day job: www.goodworkforce.com.)
With two holiday cycles behind me, I've learned that when clients get busy with holiday parties, Christmas planning and end-of-year activities, I can take some time away to relax and get ready for the busy new year ahead.
A few weeks ago, I took that opportunity and turned it into a two-week vacation in Australia - enjoying the start of summer in the southern hemisphere; visiting some friends in Sydney; snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef; and making a stopover in Auckland, New Zealand; before returning to Dallas. Thanks to my friend Geoff for connecting me to Cranky Flyer's concierge service who turned my credit card points into a round trip flight for a small service charge.
Lucky for me, I stayed with my friend Carmine in his beautiful home in Kirribilli neighborhood overlooking the Sydney Opera House (photo below from his balcony!) and caught up with Alissa, a Leadership Dallas classmate. By staying and visiting with locals, I stumbled across some really special places that I thought you might enjoy knowing about, too.
Celsius Coffee Co. at Kirribilli Ferry Wharf
Thanks to Carmine's guidance and neighborhood location, I had an opportunity to see Sydney's many tourist sites and also experience Sydney like a local (the best of both worlds.) You no doubt have a great list of key Sydney experiences which should include::
Harder to find are those spots that locals like to keep a secret. Here are three locals spots I stumbled across thanks to the hospitality of Sydney locals that you might check out when you make it to Sydney.
The first place I recommend is the Celsius Coffee Co. located on the Kirribilli Ferry Wharf (Commuter Wharf, Holbrook Ave, Kirribilli NSW 2061, Australia.) When you visit Sydney, you'll find out that it's a wonderful place to use ferries for transit from place-to-place.
I took the ferry from Kirribilli Wharf over to Circular Quay many times on my visit and stumbled across the gem with just a handful of seats and limited hours. I ordered the Celsius waffle with berries, maple syrup, toasted nuts, and peanut butter cream -- it was, without a doubt, the most beautiful waffle I've ever eaten in my life!
More than likely, you'll be coming from downtown and the Circular Quay Wharf. Find a ferry that goes from Circular Quay during the morning hours -- this places is only open 7:30 am to 2:30 pm on weekdays and 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekends. It's the perfect mix of a few minute ferry ride, having brunch in a secluded gem that is a coffee shop and small restaurant, and enjoying views of the water and nearby shoreline.
The lobby of Celsius Coffee Co. on Kirribilli Wharf, which has limited hours and does not take reservations. Be sure to take the ferry over. Super sorry to the lady in the chair on the left who definitely didn't want to be photographed, but happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Photography: Jamie Griffin
Dulcie's Bar Bohemia in Kings Cross
Because of my minor obsession with online "thirst trap" and all around nice guy, Brandy Martignago, on Instagram, I discovered that I would be in Sydney the week his bar, Dulcie's Bar Bohemia in Kings Cross, opened (44B Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, NSW 2010 Sydney, Australia.)
After visiting the newly opened Employees Only, Carmine and I visited Brandy and Dulcie's to find a very cool 1930's bohemian bar serving only Australian distilled spirits. Beyond the inviting space and craft cocktails, the stage featured a singer with an amazing voice... I think we called her the "Lady Gaga of Kings Cross." We literally could have stayed all night -- but Dulcie's closes around midnight so get there immediately after dinner.
If you make it to Sydney, be sure to go to Kings Cross and check out Dulcie's for a craft cocktail. Brandy mentioned something about a naked magician, psychics and other very interesting entertainment to compliment a talented bar team and beautiful space managed by a warm & friendly host.
Inside Dulcie's Bar Bohemia. [Photograph by Josh Raymond, www.joshraymond.com, @joshraymond]
The Boathouse Shelly Beach
A fun part of traveling is catching up with friends when you find yourself in their city. I've had some of the best times visiting friends in their "hometown" from around the world and even visiting friends of friends and family of friends. People within your circle make wonderful hosts and always know how to direct you to a local's spot or two that will really take your vacation to the next level.
Such was the case when I visited Sydney. Aside from staying with my friend Carmine, I had a wonderful dinner with my dear friend Alissa Booker, a Sydney-based Leadership Dallas classmate who returned home a few years ago. We had dinner at The Bathers' Pavilion restaurant & cafe (another wonderful find.)
Over dinner, I was talking to Alissa about my next day's adventure to Manly Beach and she insisted I travel the path away from Manly Beach and walk over to Shelly Beach (where I would find a more local beach and also The Boathouse (1 Marine Parade, Manly, NSW, Australia, 2093.)
Alissa also firmly recommend I take the local transit system ferry boat (these are green and tan) to Manly Beach and not the FastFerry (yellow and blue) from Circular Quay. It's really a beautiful boat ride through the Sydney Harbor.
After a few minutes walk from Manly beach, I stumbled across the restaurant pictured below and had a wonderful brunch of poached eggs, bacon, tomato, and sourdough bread. The Boathouse had many other wonderful fresh juices, cocktails, and delicious items on the menu. It's worth a visit.
The approach to The Boathouse at Shelly Beach.
Poached Eggs with Bacon, Roast Tomato + Sourdough at The Boathouse Shelly Beach.
If you have the time and enjoy the adventure of finding unique places, check out Jangling Jacks, Thirsty Bird, and Stitch Bar!
I'll be visiting Paris and have drafted the following list of places to eat and drink. Would love feedback on this list from anyone who lives in Paris or has recently visited. What should I add, remove, or adjust?
Paris, France (organized by arrondissement)
(Rest) Restaurant Spring, $$$, 6 Rue Bailleul, 75001 Paris, France (IG)
(Rest) Ellsworth, 34 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France (IG)
(Cocktails) Bar Hemingway Ritz Carlton, 15 Place Vendome, 76001, Paris, France
(Cookeware) E. Dehillerin, 20 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris, France (IG)
(Museum) The Louvre, Musée du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France
(Shopping) Goyard, 233 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris, France
(Rest, Wine Bar, To Go) French, 5 Rue du Nil 75002, Paris, France
(Rest, Old Fashioned French), Chez Georges, 1 Rue du Mail, 75002, Paris, France (IG)
(Cocktails) Experimental Cocktail Club, 37 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002 Paris, France
(Cocktails) Candelaria, 52 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris, France
(Cocktails) Little Red Roor, 60 Rue Charlot, 75003 Paris, France
(Rest) Chez L’Ami Louis, $$$, 32 Rue du Vertbois, 75003 Paris, France (IG)
(Museum) Carnavalet Museum, 16 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris, France
(Museum) Musée des Arts et Métiers, 60 Rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris, France
(Ice Cream) Berthillon Glacier, 29-31 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris, France (IG)
(Rest) Cafe Georges, 43 rue Saint-Merri, 75004 Paris, France
(Church) Notre-Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
(Bakery) Maison Kayser, 8 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris, France (IG)
(Rest - Lunch) Les Papilles, 30 Rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 Paris, France
(Jazz Club) Le Caveau de la Huchette, 5 Rue de la Huchette, 75007, Paris, France
(Rest) La Société, 4 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris, France (IG)
(Pastries) Pierre Herme, 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France (IG)
(Bakery) Poilane, 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris, France (IG)
(Takeout) Gerard Mulot, 76 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France (IG)
(Gardens) Jardin du Luxembourg, 75006 Paris, France
(Museum) Musée d’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
(Bakery) Poujauran, 20 Rue Jean Nicot, 75007 Paris, France (IG)
(Rest) LE CINQ-MARS, 51 Rue de Verneuil, 75007, Paris, Franche
(Pastires) La Patisserie des Reves, 93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, France (IG)
(Cheese) Fromagerie Quatrehomme, 62 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, France (IG)
(Cheese) Bathelemy, 51 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France (IG)
(Shopping) LV Maison Champs Elysees, 101 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
(Museum) Musée Jacquemart-André, 158 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008 Paris, France
(Cocktails) Baton Rouge, 62 Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, 75009 Paris, France
(Cocktails) Le Syndicat, 51 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, France
(Cocktails) Le Calbar, 82 Rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris, France
(Rest) Le Duc, 243 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris, France (IG)
(Rest - ET View) 6 New York, $$$, 6 Avenue de New York, 75016 Paris, France
(Entertainment) Moulin Rouge, 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
(Market) Boulevard Raspail Street Market
I'll be visiting Berlin and have drafted the following list of places to eat and drink. Would love feedback on this list from anyone who lives in Berlin or has recently visited. What should I add, remove, or adjust?
House of Small Wonder Coffee Shop
Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers
Bonanza Coffee Heroes
Concierge Coffee (tiny)
Silo Coffee (also good brunch)
Bar Marques — under Spanish Restaurant
Fragrances Ritz Carlton
Becketts Kopf — portrait of Beckett’s head, ring doorbell.
BRLO Brwhouse (restaurant/brew/“mod” biergarten)
Cafe Am Neuen See (overlooks a lake)
Loretta am Wannsee (sunset)
Restaurant Slate Berlin
Panama Restaurant & Bar
Maison Han (Vietnamese)
Burgermeister — lunch, expect a wait.
KaDeWe (department store food court)
No Hablo Español
Donau 115 (jazz)
Piano Bar Van Gogh
Bikinhaus / Bikini Berlin Sopping Center
I'll be visiting Amsterdam in a few weeks with a few friends. If you've lived in Amsterdam or visited recently, I would love any feedback you have on this list:
Door 74, Reguliersdwarsstraat 74, 1017 BN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hiding in Plain Sight, Rapenburg 18, 1011 TX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Vesper, Vinkenstraat 57, 1013 JM Amsterdam, Netherlands
Twenty Third Bar (with a view),
La Rive (fine dining), Professor Tulpplein 1, 1018 GX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Madam (with a view), Overhoeksplein 1, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dum Dum Palace (pan asian), Zeedijk 37, 1012 AR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam Foodhallen (food hall), Hannie Dankbaarpassage 16, 1053 RT Amsterdam
Patisserie Kuyt (bakery), Utrechtsestraat 109-111, 1017 VL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Choux (wine, lite), De Ruijterkade 128, 1011 AC Amsterdam, Netherlands
Restaurant Stork (cool vibe, near water), Gedempt Hamerkanaal 201, 1021 KP Amsterdam, Netherlands
La Perla (pizza), Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 53, 1015 RZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Thrill Grill (burgers), Eerste Constantijn Huygensstraat 37, 1054 BR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Le Garage (French),
The Fat Dog,
Keukenhof Gardens (early or late in the day)
Zaanse Schans Windmills
De Tweede Kamer
Travel gives you the ability to live life at a hyper pace enjoying the very best parts of a destination. Trips can be filled with magical moments exploring famous places, eating delicious food, and interacting with locals.
It is also not unusual when you're in a far away place to hit a few snags. Here are a few of the apps I have on my phone that help me smooth out the bumps in the road. If you're about to go on a big trip, consider some of these apps that I use on a regular basis when traveling.
Apps for Planning
Packpoint is a packing list app that considers where you're going, your planned activities, the weather, and the length of your stay. I like to travel lite, so the max number of days I'll pack for is 10 (which I can pack in a three-day carry-on bag).
TripIt stores all of your travel plans in one place including information on flights, hotels, transportation, special events, travel insurance and more. Setup your account, then forward your confirmations to an email address. TripIt builds your electronic itinerary.
I love TripIt for two reasons:
Apps for Getting from Point A to B
Rome2Rio allows you to discover the costs & time of traveling between two points by any mode of transportation (plane, train, bus, ferry and automobile). I typically use this app up front to decide the best mode of transportation between two cities (Amsterdam to Paris, for example) including what rail or air transportation company sells tickets between those cities.
If you need help navigating major city transit, check out the Citymapper app which helps you find the best route between two places in a city using any combination of bus, subway, train, ferry taxi, bike share, and walking. Citymapper even tells you the nearby departure times. If I'm using a subway or bus system, I almost always refer to Citymapper.
There are occasions where I'm traveling with slow to no coverage on my cell phone. Maps.me allows you to download maps for offline use with turn-by-turn navigation. It also lets me mark favorite destinations on a map. As a backup, I typically always download the city map for my destination and mark my hotel for future reference.
Apps for Translation
The Google Translate app & website are my go-to's for translating on the fly when traveling. I've used Duolingo to learn conversational language in the past, but I found that the learned language goes out the window when you're tired, hungry or frustrated. It's nice to be able to quickly translate back and forth with whomever you're trying to communicate with in the moment.
This is a a catchall for other apps to consider downloading to your smartphone before you travel:
I'll be traveling abroad later this spring and would love to know what apps you use when you travel. Share them below.