Sydney (Part II)

Yesterday, we landed back in Houston after 13 fun days in Australia. It’s always bittersweet to end a fun vacation – sad to leave the sunny beaches and sweet friends, but happy to return to your own house and hug your loved ones nearby. We missed our connection in LAX, which wasn’t fun, but managed to get on a plane five hours later after being on the standby list. My parents scooped us up from the airport and dropped us at the house, where we unpacked, ate a quick dinner, bathed Isla (she said, “Love you, Mama” during the bath for the first time and I died!!), and then fell asleep. That is, until 10:15pm, when Isla decided she wanted to get up, eat some oatmeal and have a party until around 2:50am. So yeah, jet lag. It’ll be another early bedtime for us all tonight!

Recapping our last few days:

On Wednesday, we ate breakfast at our favorite spot – The Roast Office, then went to the wharf to get the ferry to Taronga Zoo. We ate lunch at a restaurant there called The View (great food and amazing view of the harbour). After we went home and showered, we took the ferry into the CBD (downtown) for dinner at The Malaya in Darling Harbour. Isla was in some sort of mood, so it probably wasn’t the best day to take her to a fancy restaurant, but we survived and the food was absolutely incredible. Afterwards, we walked for about 20 minutes back to the Circular Quay, hopped on the ferry back to Manly and went to bed soon after we got home.

The following day, we were back at The Roast Office for breakfast (on Friday too!), then took the ferry into the CBD for coffee at York Lane with two good friends, Tim and Tom. Afterwards, Tom toured us around the Royal Botanical Gardens before we parted ways at the quarf. We ate lunch at DeVita on the walk back to the apartment then all took a nap. Afterwards, we went down to Manly Beach, then walked to dinner at 4 Pines Brewery (covered in sand and salt water!). We had to leave early in order to watch the Djokovic-Federer (house divided!) match on TV. It was funny to hear hoots of excitement ringing outdoors during the game – not something you ever hear in the states during tennis.

On Friday, we had a slow morning, then spent the morning at nearby Shelly Beach. Isla and Sasha splashed about in the water, all the while yelling “FISH!” that sounded a bit more like “FEEEESH!” We had a delicious lunch at The Boathouse (and pomegranate mojitos!), then returned to the house for a nap, stroll through corso, run, Hugo’s then home

On our last day, we ate breakfast at The Bower with my friend, Gus, and his sweet fiance, Alyce, before walking over to Shelly Beach. After a few hours in the sun, we decided to go to eat lunch at The Boathouse again (it’s a beachy version of Tiny Boxwoods!). Afterwards, we went home for Isla’s nap and packed while she slept. Once she was up, we went for a delicious dinner at our friends’ absolutely stunning house (with private beach access – it’s a dream!). We faced a minor tropical storm (lots of hail!) on the drive home, then packed, hopped into bed and woke up early to head to the airport.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. We have lots of amazing memories, and I definitely think that the 20+ hours of travel is worth it. I’ll do a travel with toddler post soon, as we had some key lessons learned on the journey! 

Hope you had a great week and that your Monday is starting off well! xo


Sydney (Part I)

I’m pretty sure that Sydney is my soul city. I absolutely love it here. I just laughed and felt rather nostalgic reading my last (short-lived) blog from my previous trip here in 2010 – Down Under Diary. The trip consisted of a lot more sight-seeing and fancy restaurants and bars than this one will, but I will love both, as they reflect the current stage of our life. While in Melbourne, Isla rarely napped like she typically does in Houston – a 2ish hour nap after lunchtime. Since we arrived in Sydney on Sunday, she has picked this up, napping from 1:30-4:30pm, which is crazy. It also means that her 7pm bedtime can be pushed back, making it convenient to go out and try all of the trendy restaurants near the beach. We’re praying she quickly adjusts to her Houston schedule when we return home.

On Sunday, we arrived in Manly around 1pm and ate lunch at the nearby The Roast Office, then unpacked and we all took a nap. After waking up, we went to find the beach… only we got really lost and ended up finding a swing set, then wandered to the wharf. We ate dinner at Papi Chulo, which was so tasty and very kid-friendly (best high-chair seat attachments!).

The following day, we ate breakfast again at The Roast Office (it’s that delicious!) then wandered two streets over to Manly Beach. After a few hours on the beach (it was cloudy), we ate lunch at Hemingway’s, which made me really excited, as I’m re-reading The Paris Wife for the 1,000th time. We left the restaurant, returned to the apartment, and while Isla took her extremely long nap, I went for a run to get our bearings on the area. I got a little lost, but saw the gorgeous north point of Manly. After I showered and Isla woke up, we caught the ferry to the Circular Quay, where we took photos of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, then ate the most delicious dinner at Opera Bar (where I had drinks with friends in 2010!). Isla absolutely loved the ferry ride and kept yelling, “FISH!!!!” and pointing out to the water. Our sweet friend, Esther, who owns cuteheads made the best custom dress ever, which got no less than 8 compliments from people we saw. The tulle kills me – it’s so precious! 

Yesterday was Australia Day (think Fourth of July craziness for Americans), so we weren’t sure what would be open or not. Isla wore her custom red, white and blue cuteheads outfit to be extra festive (it was a huge hit!). We fortunately had breakfast at the highly recommended Three Beans (delicious muesli bowl), and then went to the beach. As opposed to her last two experiences on the sand, this time is was really hot, and Isla didn’t know how to feel about that. I escaped for a bit with her to get a mango sorbet, which she devoured. We decided to eat lunch at Manly Grill (Sasha ate kangaroo, which horrified me), and then we went back to the apartment for Isla’s nap. I ran away to Shelly Beach for a quick tan and book session, then returned right as Isla was waking up. We went to the ocean pool, then wandered to a few restaurants which were closed for the holiday before deciding to eat dinner at Ouzeria (their halloumi was heavenly). 

We’re heading to Tarongo Zoo tomorrow, and I think Isla is going to be besides herself with excitement. I cannot wait! Follow along on Snapchat at @aileepetrovic!


Melbourne (Part II)

We packed up our bags on Sunday morning and left Melbourne, heading north to Sydney. Of course, I booked our flight leaving from the Melbourne – Avalon airport, which, to my knowledge, was the only/right one. When we arrived at the airport on Sunday, I discovered there were actually two airports in Melbourne, and we were at the wrong one. Whoops! Thank goodness the Melbourne-Sydney route is the highest trafficked one on the planet, and we were able to get on a new flight with a small change fee. Whoops!

The last few days in Melbourne were absolutely perfect. We got to spend time with the Pattens, watch tennis, and eat some amazing food. I am definitely going on a juice cleanse when I return to Texas!

On Friday, we had coffee at The Beatt Cafe, then ate lunch next door at  Mammoth. The chef is known for her creativity, evidenced by the lobster donut burger that Sasha scarfed down. My muesli was absolutely delicious too. After eating, we took a taxi to go back to the Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open, while Greg babysat Isla (and later, Ailie, Lauren and Hayley joined too). We got to see Maria and Roger play again (both winning), then Sasha stayed to watch his idol, Novak Djokovic, while I headed back to the house to put Isla to bed and catch up with Hayley, who had been in Sydney all week for work. We ate vegan chili, drank delicious elderflower gin and tonics and talked about a million fond memories from their time in Texas.

We went to The Prahan Market on Saturday morning, bought flowers, fruit, an acai bowl from Health Bowl Cafe and drank delicious Jasper Coffee. After Isla woke up from her nap, we headed to the Fitzroy area to see the rainbow sidewalk and eat lunch at Jimmy Grants. Afterwards, we downed some delicious (and fascinating) liquid nitrogen-frozen gelato at N2 Extreme Gelato. While wandering in the area, we  went into Gorman and also got vegan cupcakes from Merry Cupcakes. At the house, Greg and Hayley made the most incredible two layer cheese board, filled with crackers, French cheeses, grapes, figs, dips, and savory chocolate. It was seriously my dream come true – that’s why there are four photos below. I am so inspired and will definitely be making my own boards when we get home.

We were so sad to leave on Sunday. The Pattens spoiled us rotten, and we are already missing their hospitality! Happiest 21st birthday to Ailie! 

Expect a Sydney post soon! Off to explore right now. xo


Melbourne (Part I)

We made it to Australia safe and sound with only one piece of luggage missing (unfortunately, it held all of Sasha’s clothes and my makeup/toiletries)! Isla did surprisingly well on the plane, so we’re totally expecting her to go berserk on the haul home (praying this isn’t the case though). Although I am definitely far from a travel-with-young-child expert, I will share a toddler travel tip blog post when we return with some advice I’ve read, been told, and learned firsthand. 

The last time I was in Melbourne was May 2010, and I was only here for two days (visiting my closest family friends after a trip to Sydney). We landed on Tuesday morning (which was weird since we left on Sunday in Texas), and had to take a quick trip to Lululemon for Sasha to get some new clothes to wear to the tennis tournament the following day. We then spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and catching up with our friends.

On Wednesday, we rode with Greg into the CBD (Central Business District, which is what we refer to as ‘downtown’) and got breakfast and coffee(s) at CUMULUS INC.. Afterwards, we walked to the Australian Open and watched Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Roger Federer (my favorite!) play, then ate lunch at Cucina di Casa, and hung out around the grounds watching Andy Murray. When Roger won his game,  we  walked along the Yarra River back into town, through Federation Square by Flinders Street Station, and went to Little Cupcakes for some post-dinner treats. Afterwards, we went back to the house for delicious dinner cooked by Greg.

On Thursday, we went back to Lululemon (bag only arrived in the evening), then ate lunch at Pantry, which was delicious. Afterward, we went to Brighton Beach to lay out, splash around and photograph the colorful huts, then walked back to Church Street where we spent some time window shopping (my favorites were Gorman and Country Road!), before having a drink at Brighton School House (Detox juice and Mojito both highly recommended). Ailie (pronounced the same as my name) drove us back home afterwards, moving through St. Kilda and Toorak, then going home for dinner. Greg (or Mr. Greg, as I called him my whole life – he’s like my second dad) is truly the best chef ever, and he pulls out this delicious himalayan salt block out, adds basil leaves, mozzarella cheese and cherry tomatoes, which absorb the salt. You eat each together after 5+ minutes of being on the block, and voila – the best caprese salad you’ve ever eaten! I definitely will be trying this when we get back home!

Today (Friday already!), we’re having a slow morning because it’s pouring rain. We’re going to go out for lunch, then do another day of the Open. We’ve got tickets to see Roger play again, and Sasha has a ticket to see his tennis obession (Novak) play at Margaret Court. He’s so excited. I’ll share a recap of the rest of the week in a few days!

Let the photo oversharing begin!


Final Days in Russia

We landed in Houston yesterday after traveling for 18 hours from St. Petersburg to Frankfurt back home. The two flights we took on our trip back to Texas were infinitely better than the ones going to Europe, as Isla slept much longer (thanks to Frozen being played on repeat) and I didn’t get sick. Isla will probably be battling jet lag for a few days, as I think it’s much easier for adults to acclimate than it is for babies. I cannot (repeat: cannot) believe that we will be celebrating her first birthday on Thursday and throwing her a confetti-themed party on Saturday. It makes me want to cry, so let’s not talk about it for now.

The last two days in Russia were spent doing something I’m normally not the best at on a site-seeing vacation: relaxing. We saw a few historical monuments (but did so leisurely), and it wasn’t on purpose. It wasn’t until the eleventh hour that we realized our planned day-trip cannot work because the palace is closed for a private event, so we decided to seize the opportunity to leisurely stroll through the city, eat our favorite frozen yogurt, drink our favorite cocktails (to go) and eat at our favorite restaurants. I am going to publish a detailed St. Petersburg travel guide to add to my City Guide collection, and I cannot wait to share all of the must-sees of this gorgeous Russian city.

Some of the highlights from our last two days in the city included:

  • Going to Vasilyevsky Island and taking our first family photo of the trip next to the Stock Exchange and Rostal Columns on the Strelka.
  • Eating lunch at Restoran, which seriously looked like a Restoration Hardware catalog and I was gushing over the decor the entire time we were there – the food was delicious too!
  • Walking around the Peter and Paul Fortress, including the beach area and the famous cathedral.
  • Playing with Isla in Alexandrovsky Park, where she made the longest walks we’ve ever seen – this shocked us, as her walking progress had halted since we got to Europe. She had one epic tumble at the end, and we called it quits for the day.
  • Getting frozen yogurt for the third time at Egurti (please see the Russian name for this to better understand our constant confusion!).
  • Eating at Leica, Cafe Idiot and Furtuk (again – love it!) – the food in St. Petersburg was phenomenal. I am starting BBG immediately.
  • Visiting the beautiful Kazan Cathedral, which was holding a service, so we lit candles, walked around and quietly left.
  • Exploring a Russian grocery store (Stockmann) – we bought lots of dried mango and granola bars, both which were delicious. It’s quite interesting not being able to read food packaging whatsoever.

Sasha and I recapped our trip during the long journey home yesterday, and we made a lot of wonderful memories over the last 10 days. We laughed and laughed when we both had Isla’s new obsession with waving to everyone at the top of our lists. She would literally wave incessantly at every single person in a cafe until they waved back. It was the funniest thing. Europe really brought out her friendly side.

What are your thoughts? Would you ever visit St. Petersburg? Where is the favorite place you’ve ever visited?

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