Australia, Melbourne- NGV triumphs again with its new Triennial – who needs Venice?

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So lucky to get a sneak peak at the brand new NGV Triennial . It is superb. All the fashion designs of Guo Pei are breathtaking – and it is the first time she has shown all her work in one place.

And I loved the interactive Yayoi Kusama- the dot artist that some of you will know I’m somewhat obsessed with. The display is a complete apartment with flower stickers that each visitor can stick wherever they like (mine’s on the kettle as I couldn’t find a champagne bottle!). By the end of the exhibit in a few months’ time,it will be covered in flowers so everyone will have completed their own Kusama experience. Brilliant idea.

Then there is the room of human giant skulls – confronting when you come across it unexpectedly upstairs.

Can’t wait to go back and see it again — and it’s free!

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Australia, Melbourne- NGV triumphs again with its new Triennial – who needs Venice?

So lucky to get a sneak peak at the brand new NGV Triennial . It is superb. All the fashion designs of Guo Pei are breathtaking – and it is the first time she has shown all her work in one place.

And I loved the interactive Yayoi Kusama- the dot artist that some of you will know I’m somewhat obsessed with. The display is a complete apartment with flower stickers that each visitor can stick wherever they like (mine’s on the kettle as I couldn’t find a champagne bottle!). By the end of the exhibit in a few months’ time,it will be covered in flowers so everyone will have completed their own Kusama experience. Brilliant idea.

Then there is the room of human giant skulls – confronting when you come across it unexpectedly upstairs.

Can’t wait to go back and see it again — and it’s free!

My one year of living La Dolce Vita – a reflection

Thanks to many friends and colleagues who have been following my blog since December 2016 – it has been great to know how many of you look at it and I know it might make you envious but I hope it has also given you ideas for where you might holiday in future and that it also inspires you to do the things that really matter to you when you can. I worked for many years (38) without a break and for me one of the reasons to do that was to be able to do other things afterwards that I love – travel, art, museums, eating! So that’s exactly what I did.

Living La Dolce Vita (the sweet life) is an Italian phrase meaning living life to the fullest (usually in luxury!). I have been so lucky to spend the last year on some wonderful travels – both alone and with some fabulous friends and of course I have also been able to spend more time seeing Australia and New Zealand too which has been special too as they are amazing countries and I will miss this part of the world when I leave – although I will be back for visits for sure.

So some of you out there like data – well I visited the following countries in the last 12months – Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Mexico, Guatemala, Japan, Vietnam, Morocco, Malta, Spain, Italy, Vatican City (!), UAE and Oman. And no, there was no particular logic about why those places – just things I wanted to see and do and people I wanted to meet up with.

While I enjoy traveling solo it is also fantastic to share places with friends so thanks to those who either traveled with me or put me up when I was traveling – Marjory and Karen (who did both), Tania, Emma, Beth, Sue, Sylvie, Andrew, Lisa, Daphne, Mark, Trudy, Alan, Sabrina and Lorna.

Some of you will want to know my favourite place – agh , I hate being asked that question but maybe I can pick my “wow” highlights instead. They would be Japan, Rome, Morocco and Venice – and I expect I chose those because I had either never been or only briefly been to those locations before.

And for those who know I want to join the 100 Club – I am up to 89 of the countries they list (seems I had to abandon Scotland, Ireland and Wales!) – although I am counting it as 90 asI include places I visited in the past that don’t exist in the same way anymore – my addition is Yugoslavia.

And have I finished traveling for a while. Get out of here. Of course not. Will enjoy last couple of months in Melbourne being a tourist. And then I am going to travel some more (including some new countries) with just my belongings – staying with friends in Asia and the US first and renting apartments in various locations in Europe after that so I can explore with more time. I will keep up the blog and continue to post on Twitter (@susiebabani) which is probably the best way to follow me in the long term as well as LinkedIn and of course on this blog if you want to access direct.

For my reading buddies, I will be updating the “Books I’ve read” post in the next few days.

Some last memories below and thanks for watching. Keep the likes coming – they are always appreciated.

Susie

Arriving in Venice

Australia, Melbourne and Hobart

Great to be back in my own bed after a few weeks away. Also fab to have my old school friend Lorna over from the U.K. As not only is it good to see her but I get a chance to be a tourist again. Over the last few days we visited the Shrine of Remembrance (I’m ashamed to say it is the first time I’ve been inside and it is very good), a long walk to all corners of the Botanical Gardens and another quick trip to Hobart that included Port Arthur, MONA (always visit there), Salamanca Market and two excellent restaurants – Franklin and FICO?

The lovely Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. Wonderful to have all this right on the city doorstep.
Sights around Hobart, Port Arthur and MONA

Oman, Muscat

I’ve been so relaxed here that I almost forgot to post! Exciting to be in Oman as it is a new country to add to my list and I would like to see more of the interior at some point – desert and mountains. Stayed at the very Zen Chedi Hotel (see pools below which explain how lazy I’ve been).

But I did get out a bit – first to see the dolphins which was fun.

Then a city tour where the highlight was definitely the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Built about twenty years ago it has stunning architecture and beautiful gardens and mosaics. Of course I had to cover my arms, legs, hair and shoulders – and my good old Louis scarf came in very handy – although it is hot in there. Beautiful exteriors.

Then we took a walk inside and got to see an open Quran.

I was also very taken with the mosaics just outside which represent what you would typically see in various Islamic cultures – Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Saudi, Iran and Iraq.

Then a trip to the palace for guests of the sultan and a private museum.

And finally those lovely pools at the Chedi. All those to choose from and the sea!

Now back to Melbourne.

Italy, Milan and Arrivederci Italia – some final comments my whole Italy experience.

First stop today was the Fondazione Prada. Like many other ateliers they have donated a foundation to Milan to house contemporary art exhibits. They also find great designers to develop them so they are pretty cool to just wander around. This is in an area that used to be industrial where no-one went and it still feels edgy in a good way. Loved their 50’s retro cafe too.

The Fondazione has a golden wall and everyone has to take a pic there – so we did. This is with my dear and long time friend Sabrina who lives in Milan and was kindly showing me around the less obvious spots to visit.

I didn’t know there were canals in Milan but there are and it is another hip area that has had some money spent on it to make it a more attractive place to wander around and to eat and drink.

And now that I’ve left Italy here are:

Things I loved about Italy

The scenery – mountains, lakes, cities, wine regions (I did no beach on this trip)

The medium sized towns like Bologna, Padua, Ravello, Lucca and Verona – nice for a couple of days

But also for me – Rome and Venice were places I would go back to as I think they will always have new things to see

The vast amount of superb art and architecture – traditional and contemporary – and the museums they are housed in

The weather in September and October – great for doing things and not being too hot or cold or wet. Less crowds too

The food – home made pasta and artisanal gelati especially

The local wines – and the prosecco , aperol spritz and negronis

The quality handicrafts – glass, pottery, fabric, gold,lace etc

The history and how each period is layered on the previous one so some places are like “a lasagne” from pre Roman to modern day

Their belief that their will be hiccups every day but it will all work out in the end

The traditional hotels from an era that is long gone elsewhere

Most of the places I visited were very walkable so I did a lot of that which improved my fitness levels and gave me an excuse to eat a gelati most days!

And

What is annoying (at times)

Lousy wifi connections in some places (not necessarily the small ones).

A very elongated understanding of “a minute” so if the walk is supposedly 5 minutes assume it is really 15 and scale up

If I never hear O Solo Mio, Que Sera sera or Volare again – it won’t be a moment too soon.

The fact that’s no restaurant will give you tap water – even if you beg (and I did) and even though it is safe to drink. Bring your own bottle and fill up at the numerous handy water fountains. It is sold at inflationary prices.

Prices for many things are higher compared even to London and certainly to the US – no real bargains here.

Many shops still close from 1-3pm every day. What the ??? Also restaurants close around 2.30 and reopen around 7.30. If you want to eat outside of those times – good luck or revert to McDonalds.

Taking a few days off the blog now. Next stop Oman.

Sent from my iPhone

Italy, Milan

Long time since I was in Milan. Had forgotten how stylish everyone looks here. No- one would walk through the city in shorts, or gym wear or track suits or cropped tops. They do chic casual very well – including the men. I like that as I’m not a big fan of over casual except on the beach! (Ok – I’m showing my age!)

Always good to visit the Duomo. This time I went up to the roof which was spectacular. I took the lift option but you still have to climb

loads of stairs at what you think is the top just less than if you climbed from the bottom – worth it though as you see a completely different perspective.

The Duomo from the grand. Magnificent is not an exaggeration.

Duomo from the roof

And I know I’ve gone on about ceilings in Italy but they also do good doors!

Last day in Italy tomorrow and summary of my most (and least – and there are not many) liked aspects of the country.