[ROAD TRIP] 10 things to do on Australia's East Coast

[ROAD TRIP] 10 things to do on Australia's East Coast

From the Great Barrier Reef to Melbourne, the road is punctuated by all kind of discoveries, from a rich and fascinating wildlife to beautiful cities where you'd just want to settle down and stay forever. It took us two wonderful weeks to explore the coast -if only we had more time, there's still sooo much we haven't seen!-, and much less time to fall in love with Australia.

The family that lives above the Arctic Circle... in a glass bubble

Some people have crazy dreams. Some choose to realize them, then have a crazy life...

The Heart Followers : The family that lives above the Arctic Circle... in a glass bubble

Benjamin and Ingrid Marie Hertefølger have decided to realize the impossible to embrace the lifestyle of their dreams. After having built a unique all-natural house completely covered by a glass dome on a plot of land in Norway, they've started their incredible journey into sustainable living. It may all seem like some sort of hippie day dream, but it’s fascinating!

Meet the Hertefølger, a Norwegian family of six who is truly living on their own terms...


The Hertefølger - a life philosophy

Hertefølger –Norwegian for “heart followers”– wasn’t always their family name, but they changed it few years ago to reflect their life philosophy. “We have only listened to ourselves and what we wanted to do, we went all in”, said Ingrid. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, there will always be someone who disagrees and who thinks what I do is wrong,” the mother of four adds.

"I believe that the recipe for failure is to try making everybody happy, because it’s not possible.” So instead of worrying about what people may think, the Heart Followers just follow their hearts.

The aim of this adventure is for Benjamin and Ingrid to offer their four children a great childhood and to give them the insight they need to manage life on Earth. Instead of spending their time in front of a computer or at a mall, the Hertefølger's kids swing in hammocks, play in the garden, do yoga sessions under sunset, watch Aurora borealis or roam the surrounding forests in search of mythical creatures -the daughter swears she saw a fairy. They surely will grow up with a deep sense of appreciation for nature.

cosy living in a glass bubble above the Arctic Circle

The Hertefølgers always knew they wanted to live in an eco-home made of only natural materials -the challenge was to adapt it to the harsh weather conditions of the Arctic Circle. Indeed, life in the Arctic isn't only snowy landscapes, elves in the forest and Santa's secret atelier. It's a constant battle with extreme weather conditions, especially when you live in such a remote place as Sandhorney Island, in north Norway.

The family managed to beat all the odds and organize a cosy living in a three-story cob house wrapped in a glass dome. It withstands the heavy snowfalls and strong winds, maintains a uniform temperature throughout the year and reduces ultraviolet radiation while acting as a greenhouse for the organic vegetable and fruit garden. How cool is that : they somehow manage to grow apples, cherries, plums, apricots, kiwis, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and melons in an area that doesn't see the sunlight for three months a year!

We may not all be able to build our domed natural house in the Arctic Circle –which Norwegian magazine The Nordic Page reports cost the Hertefølger $490,500 to build– but you have to admit their story is an inspirational one. Make sure to watch The Heart Followers documentary below, you won’t regret it!

A road trip in Nelson Tasman Region [secret spot inside]

A road trip in Nelson Tasman Region [secret spot inside]

Known as the sunniest region of the country, Nelson Tasman is fringed with lush nature, golden sand beaches and turquoise waters -it's a true paradise for nature lovers. If Abel Tasman National Park is absolutely stunning, it's when we kept going north that we discovered true hidden gems...

Heading North in New Zealand: from Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga

Heading North in New Zealand: from Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga

During my exploration of Auckland, the locals told me to head north and go see the Cape. A few weeks later, I had bought my very first car, and was ready to hit the road. As the slow traveler that I was, it took me two wonderful weeks to get to Cape Reinga...

Traveling from Alaska to Argentina... on the coolest school bus!

Traveling from Alaska to Argentina... on the coolest school bus!

They've named their adventure Expedition Happiness -and we've got no trouble figuring out why. If nowadays, converting a bus into a mobile home is nothing new, these two took the concept to the next level.

A hidden gem on the Australian East Coast: Discover Port Stephens

As they say, you need to get lost in order to make the most incredible discoveries. Port Stephens wasn't part of our plan. To be completely honest, we stopped there only because we were starving and heard we could find some delicious pies there.

Hidden Gem on the Australian East Coast: Discover Port Stephens

Welcome in blue water paradise! Situated in New South Wales, Port Stephens is a MAJESTIC natural bay that hides no less than 26 dreamy beaches and many more wonders. If you love translucide waters, pristine beaches, wildlife, outdoor sports and good wine & food, prepare to be enchanted by this awesome part of the coast. We stayed only two days in the region but if we had more time, we would have stayed longer -my word, three weeks is waaay to short for a road trip on Australia's East Coast!


Getting to Port Stephens

Port Stephens is a two hours and a half drive from Sydney or Port Macquarie. As always in Australia, the road to get there is scenic, so beautiful you'll want to stop every other mile. So plan plenty of time to get there to enjoy the journey properly. 

Hidden Gem on the Australian East Coast: Discover Port Stephens
 

A peninsula rich on surprises: what to do in port stephens?

The sheltered harbor is blessed with an extraordinary nature. From near-deserted beaches, immense national parks and tremendous sand dunes, the region holds endless activities to do and things to discover. 

  • Surf or relax at heavenly One Mile Beach
    Open your eyes on the way to the beach, you could have the chance to spot a koala bear on one of the eucalyptus! One Mile Beach blew our minds. We arrived early in the morning while it was still quiet, to find a beach with fine white sand, turquoise water, sand dunes on the background and absolutely NO trace of human. A truly pristine wild beach, like in the old times. A piece of paradise. 
     
  • Scuba dive with sharks off Broughton Island
    Because scuba diving with sharks is obviously something you want to do... Ok, maybe not. But if you're crazy/passionate enough, this is a one-of-a-kind-experience! 
     
  • Treat your taste buds with one of Red Neds' delicious pies
    The Aussies really know how to bake a pie. And Red Neds is no exception. The chef in this small bakery MASTERS the pies -of all kind : satay, green curry, kangaroo, mushroom, crocodile (!!), prawns... Pick your exotic flavor! They're all delicious -we haven't tried the crocodile one though, so I can't tell...
     
  • Wander around Nelson Bay's and spot the dolphins
    No less than a hundred bottlenose dolphins live permanently in the waters of Port Stephens. Nelson Bay is one of the spots where you have the most chances to spot them. So keep your eyes open! The best way to enjoy this spectacular bay is to rend a kayak and explore the surroundings alone in the wilderness! You can also go on a tour to swim with the dolphins.
  • Get lost in Anna Bay sand dunes
    This immense stretch of soft sand will make you feel like you're lost in the end of the world. Are we still in Australia? Like in Kangaroo Island's Little Sahara, we feel like we're kids again, running, jumping and rolling in the sand, wondering if we'll cross a snake or a scorpion during our exploration. The only wildlife we'll see will be dead birds -which means, for most of them, just skeletons. On the ocean side, surfers are having the time of their life. The scenery is stunning -so gorgeous it's hard to leave! 
     
  • Climb Mount Tomaree for the most rewarding views
    Mount Tomaree hike is steep but very short -only one kilometer each way. It's a MUST if you come to Port Stephens. The views over Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay and Shark Island are breathtaking. It starts from Zenith Beach carpark. The hike is scenic, and obviously it's also a perfect spot for runners. Despite the perfect weather that day, we were lucky to be alone on the track -apart from giant lizards and a scary snake! It's covered by the trees shade all the way up, although don't forget to bring plenty of waters, you'll need it. If you come between May and October, take your binoculars, you could spot migrating humpback whales. The best way to finish the hike? With a refreshing dip in the ocean.
Hidden Gem on the Australian East Coast: Discover Port Stephens

Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?

France is one of these destinations where you could travel just to eat. There are so many mouthwatering flavors to discover it would make your head spin. Here's a list of 10 things to eat in France, 10 delights to add on your travel plans.

Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?

It's a fact: French people are obsessed with food. We can't help it! Every time we travel, regardless if we're going to a faraway exotic place or the next village, we simply must try the local cuisine. And home is no exception -every time we're back in France, there are two things we are looking forward to: spending time with those we love, and... EATING. Luckily, we can do both in the same time, so we don't have to choose between friends and food. That would be a tough one. 

I won't have the presumption to write a list of the best things to eat in France. To be honest, I tried, but I quickly arrived at more than 70 dishes, and I figured I'd rather keep it short. I've put together 10 delicious dishes and gourmandises you shouldn't miss when traveling in France...


What to eat in France : 10 things you can't miss

#1. le petit déjeuner à la française: croissants & hot chocolate

Breakfast has a special place in the heart of French people. Start your day like a local, with a croissant and hot chocolate. For the ultimate experience, enjoy it from a café-brasserie while people-watching.

Pastries are an art form in France. They must be light, flaky, crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside. Besides the traditional croissant, there are a few others options to try: the pain au chocolat, a piece of dough with a filling of pieces of chocolate, the pain au raison, a pastry rolled in a spiral with a sweet custard-like filling and dried raisins, and the chausson aux pommes, a pastry folded in half and baked with an apple sauce filling. That goes without saying, there's also the classic french baguette to spread with salted butter and homemade jam. 

Don't ask me to choose between all of these, the best is to try them all -a different one every morning.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> One of the best place in Paris for croissants: Des Gâteaux et du Pain, 63 bd Pasteur, Paris 15e - open Mon, Wed-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 9am-6pm, closed on Tuesday

>> To find the best bakeries wherever you are in France, look for the mention "Meilleur ouvrier de France". It's pretty rare, if you see one on a shop, it's a sign of excellence.

#2. The happiest of the happy hours: cheese & charcuterie board with wine

The fresh baguette is possibly the most iconic French food. If the bread is just as delicious by itself, there's nothing better than a cheese and charcuterie board, some bread and a good bottle of wine. It's the perfect way to finish your day. Saucisson, jambon sec, chorizo, fromage de chèvre, bleu, comté... The simple thought of it makes me salivate!

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> You can order a cheese & charcuterie board in any traditional French brasserie or shop everything you need in a supermarket and eat it outside in a parc -or, one of my favorite spots in Paris, on Canal St Martin's banks in summer. 

#3. A favorite French dessert: a homemade Crème brûlée

If you can find some delicious French food everywhere in the world, finding a GOOD crème brûlée is a real challenge. It's the king of all custards! It must be smooth and rich, with a crunchy caramel topping. Once you crack the hard caramel shell, your spoon dive into an incrediiibly creamy custard -exactly like Amelie does.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> Crème Brûlée is a classic, you won't have much trouble finding one in any French restaurant menu. Where to find the best one? Unfortunately I don't have any specific address to share, but please don't hesitate to share yours in the comments!

#4. LA GOURMANDISE TROP CHOU: Chocolate Profiteroles

Oh, la crème de la crème! Profiteroles are little puff pastries filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with a hot velvety chocolate sauce. Insanely delicious.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> Got an address to share somewhere in France? I'm all ears!

#5. Le très très bon Steack tartare

An adventurous way to eat French food is by ordering a steak tartare, which is very finely chopped raw beef that's been marinated and seasoned, often served with fries. A classic in Paris!

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> When you eat raw meat, you want to make sure it's prepared correctly. Go for the places with lots of people -a renowned address in Paris is Le Petit Fer à Cheval.

#6. paris' perfect emblem: the multicolored Macarons

Nothing says indulgence like the delicately crafted macarons, these sweet pastries filles with ganache, butter cream or jam sandwiched between two cookies. They are light, crispy and mellow inside. Sophisticated but whimsical, these treasures are irresiiistibles.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> There's an ongoing debate over who between Pierre Hermé or La Durée makes the best macarons. You can't go wrong with either. But with its wonderful range of creative flavors, Pierre Hermé seems to be the winner.
Eating a macaron is a must-do in Paris !

#7. UN GRAND CLASSIQUE: la Quiche lorraine

If you love the classics, Quiche Lorraine is the starting point. This crisp buttery pastry filled with eggs, cream, cheese and bacon is delicious eaten with a side salad. You can eat a quiche in a restaurant, or get it to take away from a bakery. Even better: bake it! It's ridiculously easy to make.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> The best are homemade with love. Find a nice familial restaurant or bakery, or even better, stay with the locals and ask them to make you one. 

#8. Un délice: salted butter caramel crêpe with cider

Crêpe stands line the streets of Paris, and you'd really be missing out if you didn't stop at least once to try one. But which one should you taste? If the beurre-sucre (butter and sugar) is a classic, I'd advise to go FULL IN and try the crêpe with salted butter caramel, along with a glass of cider. Obviously the caramel sauce has to be homemade -and the best places for that are probably in Brittany.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> Anywhere in Britanny! Read all about our road trip from Brittany to Normandy here.
>> In Paris, Breizh Café is known as the best crêperie in the city. I haven't tried it yet, but it's on my plans for the next trip!

#9. L'incontournable french lemon meringue tart

One of the French's favorite desserts! There are three secrets to a perfect lemon meringue tart: the crust, the curd and the meringue. Be careful though, you could easily get addicted.

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

>> Pâtisserie Michalak seems to be THE place to go for Lemon Meringue Tart in Paris. There's also Des Gâteaux et du Pain (again!), KL Pâtisserie and many, many pâtisseries all over the country of course... 

#10. marvelous Merveilleux

The pretty-looking treat is composed of meringue filled with whipped cream and rolled with generous crumbles of chocolate or nuts. Flavors include the Incroyable, with Speculoos biscuit and white chocolate, and the Magnifique, with praline whipped cream, almond chips, and caramelized hazelnuts. Some of the Merveilleux even come in larger, ultra-decadent cake sizes. Simply HEAVENLY!

 
Serious Eats : What to eat in France ?
 

Did you say a meringue shop? As in a shop selling only meringues? Ohhh YES!
The (only) place to go >> Aux Merveilleux de Fred. Boutiques in Lille, St-Omer, Paris, Lyon, Metz, Nancy and Nantes.

[On the road to happiness] Minimalism : when less is more

We spend half our life working to earn money, so we can spend our free time spending that money on things we don't need. Things that end up make us feel suffocated. Rooted. Imprisoned. Imagine if tomorrow you were to wake up owning just a few things -only the things you really need and love. It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it? Can living with less make you happier? 

Minimalism : When Less is More

At some point between our six months road trip in New Zealand and our life being constantly on the road, long-term travel has turned us into minimalists. Or so we thought. Since we settled down in Hong Kong, we've started to accumulate a bunch of crap we don't need. Last year, I stumbled upon Marie Kondo's brilliant book "The life changing magic of tidying up" and started to declutter following her mantra : keep only the items that spark joy. And it felt INCREDIBLE. So good I decided to take it to the next level. That's when I discovered that documentary about the important things... [photos ©TheMinimalists]

Can living with less really make you happier? Let's talk minimalism!


minimalism: the recipe to happiness?

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle is as simple as it sounds. It's a zen-living where you own less materials and objects, only to focus on LIVING life. We often create attachments to inanimate objects, making them seem like they represent something big -when they don't. We think the more we have, the happier we'll be. 

The truth is, living with only the bare essentials does not provide only superficial benefits such as the pleasure of a tidy home, it also lead to a more fundamental shift. Getting rid of the clutter in your life creates more opportunities for you to pursue your passions. For me, that means traveling, running, creating more and consuming less. Attachment to too many things create clutter and can block our freedom to do whatever we want, whereas minimalism helps us start new projects.

Minimalism: When Less is More

My experience : living out of a backpack for years

Living out of a backpack changes you. First, there's the packing situation -it always feels extreeemely difficult the first time, letting go so many things. How could I throw this away? And what if I need that one day? Then you realize what really matters. After six months on the road with only a few outfits, a tiny computer, my notebook, camera and watercolors, I didn't miss the things I left behind. Actually, I didn't care at all. Life was suddenly so easy. It felt right being so light, free from any clutter. 

I thought coming back home and retrieve all my belongings would make me feel happy. To soon realize it didn't. If my stuff was a reflection of life, my life seemed to be filled with junk. Thus began the purge...

the purge : less is more!

It's crazy how sometimes you think accumulating things makes you happy, when actually, getting rid of possessions brings you a lightness and joy that's hard to name. I'm not saying you should throw away everything you own. In fact, I love Marie Kondo's philosophy: only keep things that bring you JOY. Because that's what life is about, isn't it? The pursuit of happiness.

Once the clutter is done, try not to give a meaning to possessions anymore, learn to avoid excess and adopt the 'one in, one out' rule. 

about the important things -by the minimalists

Here's the trailer of a brilliant documentary examining many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life—families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker—all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less. - The film is now available online.

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution
— The Minimalists

Itinerary of a 4 days trip in Cambodia

Itinerary of a 4 days trip in Cambodia

My trip in Cambodia appeared to be one of the most fantastic discoveries I've had the chance to make in Southeast Asia. There are many reasons to love Cambodia -the atmosphere is very chilled out, the scenery astonishing, the food delicious and the history of the country fascinating... 

Exploring Rotorua, a volcanic wonderland

Exploring Rotorua, a volcanic wonderland

The city sits within a volcanic crater and as you walk through the streets of the city, you can literally see holes in the ground with bubbling mud pools and steam! From giant shooting geysers, colorful crater lakes and natural hot springs all over the place, Rotorua is a stop you can't miss on your New Zealand itinerary...

10 Things that made the Catlins one of our favorite places in New Zealand

10 Things that made the Catlins one of our favorite places in New Zealand

Situated off the beaten track in the South Island, the Catlins region is broad and wild, with lush forests, rugged coastlines, hidden waterfalls and vertiginous caves. Such a stunning untamed nature attracts an extraordinary wildlife. It's a true haven for travelers.