Bank Street Pizza, Avenel

What’s better than crisp apple cider, great company, wood fired pizza and a garden in which to enjoy all of this? Pretty much nothing. That’s why it’s absolutely worth the hour and a half drive from Melbourne to Avenel to get to Bank Street Pizza.

I went on Saturday with my cousin Sebastian and his girlfriend Alannah who are visiting from Canada at the moment. Avenel is a half hour country drive from where my mum lives.

We made a booking which was somehow lost but luckily there was a table for us anyway. We ordered drinks and set about trying to choose from the outrageously good looking list of pizzas on the menu.

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Cheeky Cider from the Cheeky Grog Co, they use apples and pears from the Murray and Goulburn regions of Victoria

We somehow narrowed it down to three; the Scotty with pork and fennel sausage, the Faz and Cal’s Capricciosa.

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Alannah & Seb

It was the best pizza I’d had in a long time; super fresh local ingredients combined in interesting flavour combinations.

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Hard to pick a favourite but I can’t go past a pizza with olives and anchovies. I once heard anchovies described as ‘salty eyelashes’, so accurate!

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The Faz

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Cal’s Capricciosa

By dessert time the sun had well and truly set. We enjoyed Jock’s ice cream; coffee and coconut lime as well as a slice of chocolate fudge cake in the lantern light.

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Amazing food. Book ahead if you’re going, it’s wildly popular and only open on weekends. Check out the menu here.

The next evening I took the Canadians out looking for ‘roos. We headed up into the Strathbogie Ranges around dusk.

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Dusk and dawn are prime time for hitting kangaroos with your car. I drove very slowly and carefully.

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It wasn’t long before we spotted a pack of kangroos bouncing along. The way they slip through fences is masterful.

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Hello

Remember that time I hung out with kangaroos on the beach? Good times.

Have a great weekend x

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Lately

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My ‘Valentines Eve’ flowers

What’s new with you?

I’m going through a crappy, stressful, tiring patch, just to be completely honest! Looking forward to doing absolutely nothing this weekend.

Are you watching the new (last!) season of Girls? I’m so sad it’s going to be ending, but I watched the first episode with my friend Kate tonight and I loved it. I also loved Vogue’s 73 Questions with Lena Dunham. I went back and read this Q&A with the costume designer from just after season 1, so fun! And the part about Spanx! Fascinating.

I always find it interesting seeing peoples’ feelings on Valentines Day. It’s such a polarising holiday. Andy sent me some ‘Valentines Eve’ flowers as per a joke from our first Valentines Day when I got ‘Friday 13th’ flowers the day before Valentines Day. Very sweet!

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Hello

My Canadian cousin Sebastian and his girlfriend are visiting at the moment. On the weekend we ate delicious pizza and went looking for kangaroos. We were successful!

I’ve been madly filling out our new house with furniture and decor bits and pieces. We lost a lot when the last two housemates vacated so it was looking very bare. I had two photos from our trip printed as huge posters which I can’t wait to hang, I’ll share photos when I do.

Do you send thank you notes? I got a card, completely unexpectedly, today. It was so lovely and made me wonder why I haven’t sent one in ages. It’s so uplifting to be on receiving end of one, day changing even.

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Thank you for reading

Enjoy the rest of the week

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A wedding in Tasmania & a new camera lens 

Last weekend Andy and I attended a wedding in Tasmania. It was a lovely few days and a great opportunity to try out my new camera lens. I have a Samsung NX1000 mirrorless camera (also called a compact DSLR) and I smashed the only lens I had while we were in Mexico, quelle horreur! I couldn’t find a new lens anywhere so we had to buy a little point and shoot camera which actually did take pretty decent photos. Anyway, since being back home and making money I could finally afford to get the camera body professionally cleaned and buy a brand spanking new lens!

I found the 50-200mm lens on Gumtree, the seller is a lovely man named Eunice who conveniently lives around the corner from me. I used that lens to take a lot of photos over Christmas but I soon realised I would need something smaller so returned to Eunice for 16-50mm lens, again, new in box. He knocked $10 off the price. Shout out to Eunice!

I used both lenses to take photos at the weekend and although more bulky, I really can’t fault the quality of the 50-200mm lens. Take a look:

I haven’t included a lot of faces because as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not sure how Andy’s friends feel about appearing on Le Blog. My friends on the other hand! #famewhores

That cheeky grin ❤

How insanely beautiful are these flowers?! And these buns?

How come mine never look this amazing?!

I bought my dress on sale at Gorman a few weeks back, I never buy expensive clothes anymore so I felt a little sick handing over my debit card! Did I mention I bought two dresses?! Ouch. Gorman have such fun prints.

The light in the evening was really beautiful

The food at the wedding was insanely good; probably the best wedding food I’ve ever had. So much seafood! The entertainer was amazing also; he performed live songs as well as DJ’d and it was the perfect mix of crowd pleasers that had us dancing the night away. What is a wedding without dancing?! I’ll leave you to ponder that.

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3 fun ways to display your travel photos & memories

One of the best parts about coming home from a trip is going back through the photos, right?! Except all too often your travel snaps are left languishing on phones and memory cards before becoming long forgotten digital clutter. While I’m really keen to do a photo book that tracks our entire 16 month adventure, the prospect of going through thousands of photos is more than a little daunting right now. So in the meantime I’ve printed some of my absolute favourites to display around the house, here are 3 different ways I’ve done them:

Instagram photo collage

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There are lots of websites where you can link to your Instagram account (and other social media) and select and drag photos from your feed to print into a poster. I used Poster Candy for this one, its 40x50cm, costs $39 and contains 30 photos. It was a really easy system to use, postage was super fast and the packaging had candies inside. Win!

Photo coasters

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I can’t take credit for these beauties, my very thoughtful friend Kate crafted these herself! She printed my photos, attached them to tiles before lacquering over the top. One of the most lovely Christmas presents I’ve ever received. If you Google ‘photo coasters’ plenty of printing options come up.

Display a map instead

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For Christmas I bought Andy this map of US National Parks from Etsy seller Best Maps Ever. We visited several National Parks on our USA road trip and absolutely loved them, so having a framed map is partly a great way to reminisce but also a motivational reminder to visit more of them! I’d love to have a huge world map that takes up an entire wall one day…

Do you ever get around to printing your travel snaps?

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Mini getaway to Port Fairy

We are just flying right on through January aren’t we?! A few weeks ago (I’m in complete denial as it was actually before Christmas but shhhh!) I caught up with my close friend Bec for a relaxing weekend on the coast. Bec was in Warrnambool for university so I drove down early on a Saturday morning, listening to The Moth all the way.

We had brunch at the Pavillion Cafe & Bar, overlooking the sea.

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It was such a beautiful morning.

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We hadn’t caught up since our Roman Reunion so it was glorious so sit in the sunshine, sip coffees and catch up on gossip. I had the ginger wild rice porridge.

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After breakfast we walked along the pier and watched a seal frolicking and floating around. He was joined by two huge stingrays that shimmied out from underneath the sand. I wish it had been warm enough for us to swim.

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After perusing the local farmer’s market we jumped in the car, pumped the tunes and drove to Port Fairy with all the windows and the sunroof open.

We rolled into the main street of Port Fairy, still singing Blank Space by Taylor Swift at the top of our lungs and headed for our Airbnb. We stayed at Hanley House, a darling old cottage near the main street.

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Being in Port Fairy was a surreal feeling for me. I’d been twice as a teenager with a friend for the annual folk festival. My cloudy memories focussed back to sharp details as we strolled around and I remembered the lay out; where the festival grounds are, where the hostel is, where the beach and caravan park are. Where the roundabout where all the cool kids used to hang out is.

We walked around Griffiths Island until we could no longer bear the wind.

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Bec in her full leg brace thanks to a knee injury and surgery

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We drove to the beach where I had my first ever kiss at age 14, with Ben from Geelong:

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After the kiss I discovered Ben’s gum had ended up in my mouth…. gross. I thought we might have a long distance romance but when I called Ben’s house (the joys of landline phones only!) after the festival ended his sister kept telling me he wasn’t home. Haha!

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The Moyne River

That evening we stayed in, devouring a ridiculous amount of cheese, and wine.

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We caught the sunset dipping into the ocean and then went back and watched two chick flicks (including My Best Friend’s Wedding, one of my ALL TIME favourites because it doesn’t have a traditional happy ending).

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The next morning we ate at an aptly named establishment before hitting the road.

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Such a lovely, relaxing weekend. Have you been to Port Fairy? It’s actually been voted the world’s most liveable town! I highly recommend a visit, for first kisses or girly getaways.

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The year that was 2016

How has your first week of 2017 been? Were you, like so many people on social media, bursting to leave 2016 behind?

While it was a polarising year, I can’t complain as I spent the first 8 months of it travelling the world. There were certainly challenges, but the good overwhelmingly outweighed the bad. Here’s what happened:

January

We rang in the new year in a small town on a Brazilian island called Bara de Lagoa. While dodging firecrackers exploding around us on the beach, we wore white and jumped over 7 waves as per Brazilian tradition.

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Barra de Lagoa, Brazil

February

In Feb I blogged about Colombia, it’s beauty and what it was like to be violently mugged there.

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Near Casa en al Agua, Colombia

March

In March I fell in love with Mexico and the cenotes (sink holes) around Tulum.

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Cenote Zacil Ha

April

In April I blogged about snorkeling with stingrays, eels and sharks in Belize the month before.

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Snorkelling in Belize 

May

In May I blogged about what an amazing/crazy experience travelling to Cuba was.

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Travelling in a vintage car in Cuba

June

In June we explored the Emerald Isle and I struggled to understand Irish accents.

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In Ireland

July

In July two amazing people got married in Scotland and I was so proud of them.

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Lauren, Lecki and I

August

In August I celebrated my birthday with a rather interesting sailing experience in Greece.

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In Tinos, Greece

September

In September we hiked to the highest point on an Italian island called Ischia and discovered what a hidden gem Albania is.

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On Ischia

The last stop on our trip was a Roman Reunion with some of my favourite people.

October, November, December

It seems cruel to lump all these months in together, but there really is no single photo the encapsulates arriving home after 16 months of travelling, the endless job applications and searching for a home!

Well I found a job, and a home which we’ve since had to move out of! We literally moved this morning. There have been ups and downs but I learnt the truth about returning home after travelling and reflected on the worst moments from our trip.

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December with family in Point Roadknight, Victoria, Australia

Wishing you all the best for 2017 and thank you for reading xx

 

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Christmas 2016

One of the best things about celebrating Christmas early with half your family (see last post) is that when it’s over, ‘real’ Christmas is still around the corner!

It all started on Christmas Eve with a festive breakfast at my dad and step mum’s place.

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Heaven

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My sister, brother, me and dad

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Dad ‘ho ho ho-ing’

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Bagels & smoked salmon ❤

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Hugo knows were to hang out

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Siblings ❤

After breakfast we drove up to my mum’s place in the country and after lunch, got busy decorating the tree!

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And ourselves…

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So angelic

We decorated as A Muppet’s Christmas Carol played in the background. It’s tradition.

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Charlie

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Cheersing to a job well done

The next morning Santa had been!

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Mum’s garden in its early morning glory

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Stuffed stockings

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What’s Christmas breakfast without champagne?! Those fly covers say a lot about an Aussie outdoor Christmas…

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Lunch was a seafood affair.

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How cool are the fish plates?! Apparently they’ve been in the family for years

We had prawns, tuna sashimi, smoked trout, smoked salmon and oysters.

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I whipped up my favourite chocolate gingerbread cheesecake (recipe here).

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I used a different cake tin so it looked a bit different to the first time I made it.

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Eye fillet and turkey for dinner

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Not a great photo (why so yellow?!) but the only one I managed to get of the entire cast

Such a wonderfully relaxing Christmas full of food and family. How are your holidays going?

 

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Family Beach Christmas 2016

Every year my dad’s side of the family celebrate Christmas the weekend before the 25th. We all converge at a beach house near the beginning of the Great Ocean Road and eat, drink, swim, play games, sing, heckle one another and just hang out. It’s really lovely and relaxing.

I hadn’t been at one of these pre Christmas weekends since 2013 (last year we were in Brazil!) so I was really looking forward to it. My sister and her boyfriend flew in from Rwanda just in time to join us. Such bliss.

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Point Roadknight beach

This year the location was a rental home in Point Roadknight, which is right next to Anglesea.

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As you can see from our attire, it really wasn’t very warm!

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That didn’t stop the swimmers though. My sister and I were kicking ourselves for not bringing our swimsuits.

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Hugo and Spike getting invovled

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This photo reminds me so much of a photo taken about 26 years ago, with my dad and 3 of his brothers lined up in the water at Geelong, each holding one of us kids. It’s kind of an iconic photo in my family, everyone has a copy! I need to track down one for me…

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I became kind of obsessed with getting a good photo of these old jetty posts.

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This dog can pose

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That afternoon we went for a drive. We stopped at a lookout where three German backpackers were trying to capture the perfect dude photos for one another. You know that weird pose guys do where they don’t smile and they kind of hold their arms kind of stiffly in front of them?! They were doing that.

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I chuckled and admired the view.

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Doesn’t get much more Australian than a magpie, a beach and a safety sign

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Shark spotting?

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My sister rocking the Texas Tuxedo

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That evening us ‘kids’ were in charge of dinner. We made gourmet burgers, I was in charge of fries. I’d never made fries before and somehow absolutely nailed it?! Bet I’ll never manage to do that again.

The next morning a bunch of us decided not to let the mild 13 degree temperature stop us from swimming. We’re kind of a competitive family, so people don’t like to chicken out of things, be it swimming in Antarctic temperatures, singing loudly or giving impromptu speeches.

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All smiles beforehand

Needless to say it was cold. Luckily the world’s most expensive canteen is right there on the beach ($10 for a bagel!) so we warmed up with coffees.

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I bought a new camera lens which is really huge and I’m still getting used to it, hence these photos are so close up!

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We had a Christmas lunch on Sunday afternoon. It started, as most good things do, with cheese.

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This time, the ‘Grown Ups’ were in charge of the food.

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Our much loved Matriarch

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Waiting for crumbs

After lunch we did our ‘bad santa’ Kris Kringle, which involves choosing a present from the pile or stealing a present off someone else.

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It was pretty hilarious and went on and on…

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The most frequently stolen items were a portable charging device, a bottle of gin, three giant Toblerones, a cool hip flask and a JB Hifi voucher. A crazy cat lady action figure, which has appeared at the previous two Christmases, did the rounds again.

Cheeky passed out from all the excitement.

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Dessert time! The table was heaving with dessert options but I only managed this snap of the perfect mince pies.

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And finally, a class photo:

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Another great year with the Brewins. How was your Christmas?

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Do you dine alone? 

I live in a place surrounded by restaurants and cafes, which is glorious. I also sometimes work odd hours so decide randomly to dine out on a Thursday morning or super late on a Monday which means I go alone.

I actually love it.

Company is great but occasionally it’s nice to read a paper, stare at my phone or off into the distance without feeling rude. It’s kind of a controversial topic and there’s a surprising amount of articles on the subject; tips for dining out alone (?!) and recommendations for good solo dining spots. Who’d have the topic would inspire so much literature…

One of my recent midweek brunches took place at Three Bags Full in Abbotsford, which is a stupidly short walk for me.

I had the ricotta hotcake with orange infused marscapone, pears, strawberries, lemon verbena and crystallized white chocolate. It was insanely good.

But huge. I didn’t stand a chance of finishing. I guess that’s when it’s good to have company with a big appetite.

A few nights later I ducked out for another solo dining session. This time for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. I slurped away at my noodle soup while scrolling through instagram. So indulgent. Do you dine alone?

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The top 5 worst moments from our trip

I’m not big on negativity but I am big on honesty. And honestly, travel (like life in general) isn’t always a barrel of laughs. If I’m ever missing travelling remembering these moments helps ease the wanderlust.

1 Getting mugged in Colombia 

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Documenting my cuts

Hands down, easily, 100% number one. You can read all about it here.

2 Stepping down the 10 billionth stone step on day 2 of the Inca Trail

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My face says it all… Not sure what that outfit is saying…

Truly the end of my brief affection for hiking. Cannot describe the pain in my knees at this moment! Also it had been two days without a shower at this point.

3 Leaving my Kindle on a plane

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My Kindle and I during happier times in Brazil

I can still barely talk about this I’m so devastated. That thing survived a year in the Americas and then got swallowed up by a Ryan Air plane seat between London and Dublin.

4 Pulling hair out of every single meal in Bolivia

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A market in La Paz

I’m willing to admit I’m prone to exaggeration but seriously… Ew. Almost every meal. By the end of our time in Bolivia I was pretty much subsisting on tubes of Pringles and cheap red wine.

5 Getting majorly ripped off by a taxi driver in Costa Rica

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Costa bloody Rica

About $US100. The guy was such a jerk. Seriously a bad start to our time there.

I haven’t even mentioned the number of gross squat toilets, squalid dorm rooms and filthy roommates we encountered! Feel free to refer to this list if you’re having a bad day at work, I know I will!

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