[SYDNEY] BOURKE STREET BAKERY

Tarts and tea at the Bourke Street Bakery on a weekday afternoon. Surry Hills is home to a flourish of yuppie bars and cafes where misfits are the new chic. People no longer go to cafes seeking lattes. Instead, we pay more physical attention to the space we spend time in. Naturally, we want to surround ourselves in a creative, culturally-inspiring, aesthetically pleasing and innovative environment.

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And I found my little indie heaven on Bourke Street where Cass brought me for afternoon tea.20140719-204713-74833569.jpg

Small as it is, the cafe is nothing more than a corner-shop with tables and benches on the outside for patrons. In my opinion, dining alfresco has its definite perks! Great air, good view of the streets and biking hippies.This does not however include the fact that it started drizzling and we had to prop open our umbrellas to continue eating in the rain. Great fun it was.

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Nonetheless I loved how dilapidated the outdoor benches were. Not deliberately so, I suppose. Its concept just seemed so casual like an everyday neighbourhood bakery.20140719-204716-74836001.jpg

Ah… This, my dear friends, is the insanely good GINGER BRULEE TART. It is to-die-for. You may find a rather complex recipe at A Table For Two as adapted from Bourke Street Bakery’s cookbook but don’t expect to replicate the famed goodness! The caramel layer is perfectly burnt to crisp chewiness whilst the inside retains its custard-y moist. Infused (but not overwhelmed) by ginger, the spice added an extra zing toward an unconventional sweetness. No wonder it’s a hit at the cafe!

Bourke Street Bakery Ginger Brulee Tart

ginger brulee tart

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Aside from a fixed menu, the bakery comes up with daily specials. Apparently, I have to try their strawberry meringue tart! Yup, definitely on my to-do list, next trip to Sydney.

Bourke Street Bakery Surry Hills
633 Bourke St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Australia

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Vintage Shopfronts

Shops like these you’ll never find them in Asia. Especially where I come from, space is so constrained that anything below 3-floors will be extinct in the next 5 years or so. Baffled by re-modelling works of architecture in the European cities where its aesthetic appeal lies in its vintage houses! Swarovski is sandwiched between a neo-classical shophouse and a modern, ever so significantly highlighting its contrast.
London Swarovski

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These Victorian shopfronts in West End seem to live and breathe with age-old wisdom. Walking along the streets of London, I come alive with the promise of lessons in the cultural vibrance of the British!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Old Bailey

London Central Criminal Court

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Chanced upon the Central Criminal Court, commonly known as Old Bailey, in West End London. In the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it is the courthouse where Charles Darnay is put on trial for treason. In the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Joshamee Gibbs is tried in the Old Bailey where Jack Sparrow disguises himself as Justice Smith!

Old Bailey
EC4M 7EH

London Lovin’: City Grandeur

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Overeager to see everything on my first trip to London, I took to exploring West End on foot. My fingers were working the shutter overtime, attempting to capture everything. Which I soon realised was impossible!

Damn, the rush to see it all wasn’t worth it.

Why click fast and leave for another touristy scene, only to ogle at photographs in the privacy of hotel rooms? So I let the images roll around in my head a bit before snapping.

For the life of me I cannot name all the buildings and streets, but certainly I can tell you how I felt at the moment, soaking in the grandeur of the grand London city.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Oxford Circus

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Stepping out from London Underground is like entering a different realm, and it did feel that way to me, exiting Oxford Circus Station. Topshop, Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, HMV, Debenhams have their flagship stores on this street.

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Each year, Oxford Street is decorated with festive lights. Each Christmas, a celebrity turns on the lights in late-November and these remain lit until the twelfth night (Emma Watson did 2004, and last year it was Robbie Williams).

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This year, Jessie J flipped the switch, with James Arthur and Conor Maynard! Inspired by falling snowflakes (well it did feel all White Christmassy without the snow!), the lights feature three quarters of a million LED bulbs. That’s beautiful, but insane!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

For the Love of Music

Inspired by LP Cover Lover, an amazing site containing the world’s greatest collection of record album covers from the golden age of LPs, I checked out Amoeba Music on my recent trip to San Francisco.
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Occupying a 24,000 square foot former bowling alley on the eccentric Haight-Ashbury district, Amoeba Music is the world’s largest independent record and vinyl music store. The sheer size is insane. I literally had a jaw-drop moment when I saw floor to ceiling shelves chocked full of CDs, cassettes and records.
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If my parents had still kept their vinyl from the ’70s I would have considered getting the players
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Despite the impossible size, the store is impressively well-organized.
Just look at their cassettes collection.
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And from these books you can check if your desired CDs are available.
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I went with a bunch of people who weren’t planning on returning empty-handed, so we spent an entire afternoon flipping through records and grooving to the tracks on free-listening stations.

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Now, onto the amazing LP Covers I’ve found!
Here you go, LP cover lovers.
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Despite getting lost in the store for hours, I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg. There are too much awesome stuff in here.
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Amoeba Music even stocks up on AudioBooks
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Amoeba Music’s selection of vintage gig posters and ’70s pinup printables was just as impressive as their music collection.
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Madonna’s 1987 gig at Madison Square Garden.
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THE ROLLING STONES
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THE BEATLES
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Even Elvis Presley
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We barely grazed the punk, rock and roll section and already the sun was setting.
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If you’re here on a collector’s mission, do plan a list of records you’re looking for!
For non-LP-collectors like me, you’ll never know what you’ll unearth amongst the mountains of vintage and contemporary music. Art, loads of hidden jems, crazy album covers (and apparently loads of dust, true to a vintage store). This place is truly holy ground for music fanatics.

1855 Haight St
(between Shrader St & Stanyan St)
San Francisco, CA 94117

Travel-diary: Naviglio grande Milano

Traveling is indeed a discovery of the self –
I’ve learnt that shopping is no fun when there’s so much sightseeing and exploration to do!
While everyone else was at Serravalle (designer outlet), I took to exploring on my own.
Armed with a fedora, and a city map and my batman suit, I was determined to find the famous Navigli in Milan!

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But alas, I got lost a couple of times, during which I slipped into the nearest cafe, ordered up a shot and asked for directions. I just love Italian coffee.

This is Robert, who introduced himself as Robin and called me Batgirl.
He seemed amazed I was on foot, and proceeded to point me in the right walking direction.
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And thus I ordered the drink that I came to fall in love with: Caffe Shakerato!
This beau is a combination of fresh espresso with sugar and loads of ice, made to froth by vigorous bartender skills.
Was it just me or there was a tinge of Moscato in it?
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After more than an hour’s walk across 3 train stations, Porta Ticinese was right in front of me!
The tremendous satisfaction of getting exactly where you wanted to go is amazing.
This, is Naviglio grande Milano!
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The Naviglio Grande was a canal dug to quicken city development projects via transportation of engineering essentials for the architecture that were to be built over the 12th/13th Century. In 1386, construction of the Duomo di Milano began, riding on the networks of water transportation.
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Breathtaking, isn’t it?
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Entered the Chiesa di San Cristoforo sul Naviglio,
as well as every other Basilica encountered at Navigli.
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The view from the other side of the Basilica
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And then I was hungry! Most shops along the route were evening pubs. Managed to find a bakery/pizzeria selling piping hot foccacia
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Mine came with olives, turkey ham, lettuce, parmesan and Emmental cheese~
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That revved me up for more walking.
There were actually passers-by who tried chatting me up, asking me where I was from yada yada, and these seemed to happen a lot in those narrow alleys that I had to cross.
One has got to man-up when exploring alone, to pretend that you know the place like the back of your hand.
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These European two-seaters! Do people purchase these cars for the sole purpose of man-and-dog?
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Before I knew it, I was done with my lunch and had walked the entire north and south Navigli.
It was a lot like Venice, definitely less tourist-infested, and less of the pomp and grandeur that the canals in Venice came with. And also, summer meant that mosquitoes were breeding to their hearts’ content.

At the end of the Navigli trail, I thought hey, I’m definitely getting better at memorizing streets and navigating with maps 🙂

A slice of Copenhagen

Officially am the mad Asian girl snapping away with her iPhone,
at architecture that citizens of Denmark would have seen all their lives.

Here’s a slice of Copenhagen:
the streets of Vester Farimagsgade 9
as seen through my eyes.

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Taking shelter underneath my umbrella in the drizzle proves to be a disadvantage,
for my hands were really unstable,
and I had zero sense of angle/perspectives.

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Mad love for vintage architecture!!
Classical to be exact, but I’ve not exactly learnt how to differentiate the two.  photo IMG_9760.jpg

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Walked quite a distance considering I have 3 hours to kill between waking up and lunch with the crew. photo IMG_9749.jpg

My favorite hangout in the neighbourhood!
If I could wake up to this everyday, it would be such a blessing.
Felt so at peace with the world just by standing on the jogging path
overlooking this river.
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Beauty in the mundane —
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The hotdog seller was giving me a strange look,
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All these within the hour and I’m still in time for lunch.
Well-worth the 12hours we took to arrive at Copenhagen!

xoxo
Jean

P.S Biggest bonus of my job: catching sunrise 35000 feet above the ground
This is such a bad shot but you can see the sliver of red that indicates the rising sun…
Upclose, it’s absolutely breathtaking.
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