Christmas in Okinawa and Happy Blogiversary

So I realised that a few days ago I passed my 1 year anniversary for this blog. I published my first post on the 16th December last year when I was busy organising my visa, and move to Okinawa. Congratulations to myself for sticking with something regularly for this long.

Also, I'm super excited because tomorrow we will be jetting off to Australia for almost 2 weeks to celebrate Christmas and New Years with our families. I know I was only in Australia less than a month ago, but it was for work, and this coming trip feels totally different. I'm hoping it will involve more relaxing, and it will definitely involve more family time. I'm also excited to get to meet a bunch of friends babies that were born in the past year while I was away. I'm not sure if I'll have much of a chance to do any blogging while we are away, but will have lots to update on when I get back. In the meantime, below is a bunch of photos of Okinawa from the past couple of weeks.

A Minecraft Christmas tree in the Aeon Rycom mall

We bought a Totoro tree ornament!

I captured this beautiful sunrise a couple of weeks ago.

I did my own Christmas nails

Pet love

Swimming lessons
The swimming pool's Christmas decorations

Amazing vegan lunch at Dechibica

View from our deck

Pretty Mu

Seaside Drive In - Okinawa

Finally back to your regular scheduled Okinawa programming.
A couple of weekends ago on a whim, we decided to go to this dinky, retro little diner down the road for breakfast before Griff's school winter concert. I've always had a soft spot for the Seaside Drive-In. The food isn't great and the decor is pretty old, but there is something about this place that I just really love. The view outside is amazing, and the food is cheap, oh, and it's open 24 hours and 5 minutes walk from my house. What's not to love? The menu has a combination of American style (I use that term loosely) diner food, and Japanese food (think pork katsu, unagi-don and teriyaki chicken bentos). They have a breakfast menu that includes omelettes and french toast, but I ordered off their normal menu and had a bacon and egg sandwich, which in my mind is breakfast food anyway. They also have these yummy little mashed potato fried balls that were pretty awesome.

Morning adventure
Happy kid

So retro

Bacon and egg sandwich, fried mashed potato things, coffee
To top off the morning, on our way home we ran into the friendliest cat in our neighbourhood who is so nice it even let our over eager 4 year old have a pat (something our own cat barely tolerates).

Friendly neighbourhood cat
If you're interested in checking out the Seaside Drive-In, you can find more information here: (Japanese)

Melbourne Day 6 - Final installment

Saturday was my final day in Melbourne and it was really the perfect end to my little work trip.
I (finally!) got a little sleep in in my super comfy hotel bed, and eventually got up and organised to check out by 10am. I was a little hungover after my great night the night before, and suddenly remembered that there was a popular Pho place in the city that opened at 9am! Win! I checked out of my hotel and headed straight to Mekong on Swanston Street for some breakfast pho. People seem to complain that there is too much MSG used in their Pho but I don't care. MSG makes things delicious! It was the perfect hangover cure.

Beautiful Melbourne
Flowers outside of Town Hall

Yarn bomb in the city
Breakfast pho
After my pho I did a little shopping, then headed out to Yarraville on the train to meet up with some friends that live out there. It was the perfect way to spend most of my day (my flight wasn't until midnight) without tiring myself out. We had a coffee, checked out some of the cute little shops in the town and then hung out at my friend's house until it was time for me to head back into the city before meeting my cousin and some other friends for dinner and drinks. Originally I thought I would spend most of my Saturday shopping, but because I ended up doing most of my shopping the previous day, I just ended up spending most of my time out in Yarraville.


When I got back to the city, I met up with my cousin who had recently moved to Melbourne and we went out for cheap dumplings and red wine. It was so lovely to catch up with her. After dumplings we picked up my suitcase from the hotel and headed out to Thornbury to meet up with some other friends at one of my favourite Melbourne bars, Joanies Baretto before heading to the airport. More wine was consumed as well as a delicious salumi board. Yum! It was the perfect ending to my little trip.
Love this wine

They only had teacups at the dumpling place. Classy way to drink red wine.

It's hard to believe that this time next week I will be back in Australia again for the Christmas holiday with my family. We will be going to Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and back to Melbourne. This blog is turning in to more of an Australian travel guide recently, rather than Okinawa! I can't wait to get home again and just spend time with family.

Goodbye Melbourne!

Melbourne Day 5 - Friends and more tasty food

My Friday in Melbourne was the last day of the conference and it was awesome. Thanks to the wonders of Instagram, I realised that my friend Ben was in Melbourne at the same time, so we met up for an early breakfast at Cumulus Inc, which I had been to on my first morning of the trip. It was great to catch up on the past year of our lives and of course eat more tasty food. If you haven't already, you should all go out and buy Ben's awesome books, The Family Law and Gaysia ASAP. 

Ben Law - Magnificent human

Shakshuka - Baked eggs
The last day of the conference finished at midday, which meant I got to get all of my shopping that I wanted to do before meeting up with Jazzy for dinner and a gig.
We met up and first went to the Workers Club in Fitzroy for a couple of drinks before heading to dinner at Coconut Palms, my favourite cheap Vietnamese restaurant. Before dinner we stopped at my favourite bottle shop, Blackhearts and Sparrows to pick up a drink to have with dinner. There was a man there doing cider tastings, and they were so delicious he totally convinced us to get a bottle to share.
My favourite beer!

Dinner with this lovely lady

This cider was amazing

Vietnamese spring rolls

One of my all time favourite dishes - Eggplant and tofu

I can't remember what this was....
After dinner, we went to The Tote, with the intention of seeing the band we had tickets for, but when we were there we watched some of the first band then realised that we are old ladies and would rather go home, watch some Netflix and share some sparkling wine. It was awesome. What made it even more nostalgic for me was the fact that Jazzy now lives in my old house in Brunswick East, which I hadn't been in since I moved over here. It was so nice to be back in that awesome space. That house really is special. Also, I got to hang with their awesome cat.

EC - Ewok cat
Cat selfie

Melbourne Day 4 - Old buildings, a boat and more food.

By my Thursday in Melbourne I was exhausted. All the long days followed by late nights catching up with people had taken it's toll and I really needed a quiet night in my hotel room to Skype with my loves and sleep.

Once again, I passed on the conference provided lunch and headed to the new-ish 400 Gradi at Crown for amazing pizza. We had the Margherita pizza and a calzone that was really delicious and I can't believe I haven't tried one before. The Crown Gradi is definitely more "fancy" the the original Brunswick East version, and i've got to say I prefer the latter, but that's probably because I really don't like the Crown Casino.....

Elizabeth Street

Morning walk to the conference along the Yarra

Gradi at Crown - The calzone was the bomb. Seriously.

Another one of my favourite Australian beers
After I cancelled my plans for the night, which I still kind of regret but really needed the rest, I went across the road from my hotel to a food court Thai restaurant recommended by a friend who vouched for it's authenticity (based on the fact that he has been to Thailand a billion times). It looked dodgy but was actually delicious! Also, the proximity to my hotel was a winner for me. I was able to go home and chat to Helen and G before he went to bed. Also, speaking of my hotel, the bed in it was amazingly comfortable. And the room was HUGE! It was nice to actually get to spend a night hanging out in it.


Melbourne Day 3 - Food, food, more food

It seems on my Wednesday in Melbourne and the first day of the conference, I was pretty slack with my photo taking. Once again I woke up with coffee and a yummy breakfast on my mind, so I started my google search for something in the city. I stumbled across 5 & Dime Bagels which was on the way to the Convention Centre and it was awesome! Ever since I was in New York City earlier in the year and had my first taste of an everything bagel, I have wanted another one. I was super happy to find everything bagels here.

5 and Dime Bagels
Everything bagel with tuna melt

Soy flat white

Yarra River

My conference provided a pretty decent lunch every day, but I couldn't bear wasting a meal opportunity, so instead I searched for one of my all time favourite foods, pho, near the conference venue, and as luck would have it, there was a place 5 minutes walk away! It wasn't the most amazing pho i've ever had, but it was still good and satisfied the craving.

That night I met up with some of my old work friends from University of Melbourne at Breizoz creperie, which one of said colleagues now owns. Somehow, the only photo I took was of my giant mug of cider, not the crepes and not the friends. Doh!
French Cider

A day of Greek food In Melbourne

Warning, this part of my Melbourne adventure is very food photo heavy. I was attending a pre-conference forum in Federation Square on the Tuesday so it was the perfect chance to do a luxury lunch at The Press Club, which was close by. They have an amazing lunch deal, two courses for $35, or 3 courses for $45, whereas dinner starts at $95 per person. I chose the Spring Horiatiki (I had to ask what that was) for my starter, which was basically a zucchini and squash salad that looked and tasted amazing, and the lamb for my main. You can view the menu in the link above. My colleagues got the beef. The meal also included the fresh bread as a starter and a very Australian Hills Hoist clothes line with tempered chocolate at the end. We also got some sides including the charred broccoli and the Mustard leaf salad.

Treacle bread and another bread with whipped butter and olive oil

Zucchini and Squash salad



Very Aussie - Hills Hoist with chocolate
After the forum I went out to Collingwood to meet my good friend Kate for more Greek food, but more traditional, less fancy, and equally as delicious! We went to the Melbourne institution - Jim's Greek Tavern - which is super busy, lively and tasty. As you can see from the Trip Advisor reviews, this place is love hate. I was desperate for some fried Saganaki cheese because it's not something i've ever seen in Japan, so we had that and octopus to start. Delish! We basically waited forever to order our second course because the place was insanely busy, but Kate and I didn't care because we were too busy catching up on the last year! Finally we flagged down our server and got lamb and Greek Salad because by this stage I was already full (the bottle of sparkling wine might have been a reason) and after that we were done.

Jim's Greek Tavern



Obligatory Sparkling wine shot


Greek Salad
We walked over to the Workers Club in Fitzroy after dinner for more bubbles and to watch some bands! It was a great night, but it made it very hard to get up for the first day of the conference the next morning! Somehow I managed. I'm just glad the idea to head to Karaoke after the bands didn't happen.....

More bubbles!
Hills Hoist the band!