Rachel Pupazzoni


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Review: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

I recently had the good fortune to stay at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney. ¬†It was a surprise I’d organised for my partner in crime. ūüôā

We had a fantastic time. ¬†Here’s the review I posted on Wotif (which I booked the accommodation through) and TripAdvisor. ¬†Also, all the photos here are form the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney’s facebook page.

RB outside

The exterior of the hotel.  (Photo from Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel facebook page)

I booked a night here for a birthday surprise. As soon as we pulled up outside, the staff were great. Straight away a staff member came across the street to collect our car and take our bags. Check-in was a breeze and I was delighted to be given a complimentary upgrade to the Studio Spa Suite.

The suite was incredible!  So spacious.  The decor was lovely.  The bathroom was huge, the spa was great.  I loved that the toilet was in its own separate room from the bathroom.  Great when 2 people are staying.  The bed was the perfect comfort level of a mix between hard and soft.  The pillows (for fussy people like us) were perfect.  We wish we had checked the brand of the pillows and the mattress so we could buy them for home!  The King size bed was divine.  We loved the TV feature coming out of the foot of the bed.  Lots of fun!  Thanks for the upgrade team Blu!!

RB suite

This is the suite we stayed in.  Actually amazing!  I have never stayed in such a nice hotel room.  (Photo from Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney facebook page)

RB suite 2

The lounge area of our suite.  We played dominos here and enjoyed snacks from the mini bar after our trip to the spa.  (Photo from Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney facebook page)

After we came back from massages at the spa, we noted housekeeping had straightened up our room and left some bottles of water and ice for us.  Such a great touch.

The 12noon standard checkout time was brilliant. ¬†Checkout was super easy and fast. ¬†I would very happily stay again. ¬†Thank you Radisson Blu Sydney for a fabulous stay. ¬†A shame it didn’t last longer.

I was pleased to get a reply from the hotel to my review on TripAdvisor.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts regarding your recent experience at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. We certainly take pride in offering five star service and facilities to our guest and your feedback demonstrates that our continuous efforts have been recognised. We look forward to welcoming you back next time you travel to Sydney.

I gave the hotel 5 stars. ¬†I really couldn’t fault it. ¬†We will definitely look at Radisson hotels for future holidays.
** This was a fully paid holiday by me – I received no benefit from the hotel.
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Adelaide: How to put on 2kgs in 4 days

I’m sure you know that feeling after a holiday. ¬†The world seems like a wonderful place, those annoyances at work don’t seem so annoying anymore, the sky is bluer and everything tastes sweeter. ¬†For about 6 hours after you get back.

So the happy post holiday feeling has pretty much worn off and now I have those lovely memories to file away forever.  (And some tough sessions at the gym to work off the extra kgs)  Here are some of the highlights of my recent trip to Adelaide.

Jam Face:

I’m a huge Poh fan. ¬†So naturally the first stop was her cafe at the Adelaide Central Markets. ¬†She was there! ¬†Oh the excitement. I took a lame I’m-not-taking-a-photo, photo of her. ¬†Then ignored my lactose intollerance and dug into a milly filly. ¬†Heaven!

pohs-milly-filly

Poh’s Milly Filly!

Hahndorf:

We hired a car and drove the 30 or so minutes to Germany.  Well not really Germany, obviously, but a sweet little town pretending to be plucked from Germany and dropped in South Australia.  A stroll down the high street took us to bakeries, candle shops, sweet treats shops, German tourist stuff shops and a bunch of pubs and places to eat.  We settled on The Haus Handorf.  The pork belly and beef cheek were suitably rich and filling.  A quick stop for a candle on the way back to the car and we were back on the road.

german-merchandise

German merchandise as far as the shelves can contain it.

sugar

Sugar anyone?

german-lunch

Lunch at The Haus

Windy Point Cafe:

A high vantage gives diners Рlike us Рat this restaurant or cafe (we opted for the cafe) a spectacular view of the city at night with lights twinkling in the distance.  Oysters were a must (hello, South Australia!) and they were delish. So we ordered more.  A little weird though that they came in serves of 5 or 10, not the standard dozen or half dozen.  Is that an SA thing?

oysters

Oysters at Windy Point

Barossa:

The best way to visit any wine region is with someone else driving. ¬†So that’s what we did. ¬†It pays to have good friends. ¬†We visited Seppelt Winery and tried the sparkling Shiraz (let’s be honest, we tried more than that). ¬†Cue photo session among vineyards on the way back to the car. ¬†Penfolds cellar door was a fun spot. ¬†Lots of tastings (it costs $10 to taste, so obviously¬†you’ll be like us and get your money’s worth). ¬†Last stop was Yalumba. ¬†Our driver (actually our friend Hugo) is a regular there. ¬†The staff recognised him. ¬†So we felt very VIP when we were given numerous wines¬†to taste that were not on the standard list. It worked. ¬†I spent $100 on 2 bottles of wine. (FYI – that’s not my normal budget). ¬†Last stop was what we’d been promised months earlier – the best pizza in Australia at the Roaring 40’s cafe. ¬†It was good. But I had been drinking so anything would have been good. ¬†I would not call it the best pizza in Australia though.

barossa-vineyard

Barossa vineyard

my-pick-of-the-penfolds

My pick of the Penfolds

terrace-and-yalumba

The terrace at Yalumba

McLaren Vale:

We joined some more friends in the Vale for a very long table lunch at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant. ¬†20+ adults and 6 kids under the age of 4. ¬†Just think about how that could have turned out. ¬†But actually it was great. Canapes were served to us on the lawn (arancini and bruschetta) with more at the long white cloth-covered table (stuffed olives and bread) I chose the lobster and crab ravioli entr√©e (to die for!) and Salmon for main. Roasted vegetables and salads spread along the table ensured I was full to the brim. ¬†Out on the verandah we were served dessert. ¬†I inhaled the chocolate ice-cream/chocolate fondant serving. ¬†Hello deliciousness! ¬†A massive photo was taken of us all. ¬†I’m looking forward to seeing it.

the-view-from-darrys

The view from our long table lunch

chocolate-dessert

A dessert fit for a chocolate lover like me!

Rundle Mall:

To be honest, my main priority about our final day in Adelaide was a visit to Haighs. ¬†Rest assured we bought half the shop while we were there. ¬†I’m not even home a week and one packet is already gone. ¬†Yes, there are plenty of Haighs shops in Sydney and I am a regular visitor, but come on, when on holiday…

Osteria Oggi:

We ate our last lunch¬†at Osteria Oggi thanks to a recommendation from my friend and food writer Max Veenhuyzen (on Instagram as @maxveenhuyzen – look him up). ¬†It was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. ¬†A great decor and perfectly attentative service. ¬†We shared grilled squid for entr√©e. ¬†Yum! ¬†Main was a couple of pasta dishes with sausage and crab. ¬†Add a glass of crisp white wine or a G&T and you’ve got a couple of very happy customers.

grilled-squid-osteria-oggi

Osteria Oggi grilled squid

pasta-with-pork-sausage-and-fennel

Sausage and fennel pasta at Osteria Oggi

pasta-with-crab-and-corn

Crab and corn past at Osteria Oggi

Four days of overeating and drinking was definitely enough. Thanks for a great visit Adelaide.  Muchas gracias also to our hosts Hugo and Natalia.


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Olympics

Years ago I visited the Olympics Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It was pretty great!!

I love what the Olympic Games represents. ¬†To me, they’re¬†about pushing aside any political woes, the atrocities of the world – and there are many – and realising the good we humans can do. ¬†Now of course, I am the first to say we actually need to pay much more attention to the ridiculous amount of pain and suffering in the world. ¬†The money spent preparing athletes could be much better used sheltering the homeless, feeding the starving and allowing researchers to make new discoveries. ¬†But I’m aiming to write a happy piece here, so I’ll leave that aside for now. ¬†I would also say the level of competitiveness between athletes goes too far. ¬†But if I put my blinkers on and look straight down the middle, blurry section, I see teamwork, kindness, laughter, health, learning and humanity on show.

I learnt from that visit to the Olympic Museum back in 2009 that the modern games were founded by¬†Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He loved the idea of the ancient Olympic Games from¬†Olympia, Greece (they ended in 393 AD) that he thought he’d set up a modern version. ¬†So off he went. ¬†He created¬†the International Olympic Committee in 1894. ¬†His aim was ‘to help build a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport.’ (I found that line on¬†the museum’s website olympic.org)

The first Olympic Games of the modern era took place in Athens in 1896.

 

Prior to the Rio games starting, some of my colleagues were discussing how they didn’t think it would be a good opening ceremony ‘because they didn’t know any famous Brazilians who’d be in it, unlike the Spice Girls at London’. ¬†But that’s what I¬†love the most. ¬†There is so much to learn about Brazil. ¬†I loved the opening ceremony! ¬†I found I learnt a few things and enjoyed a great show at the same time.

So back to what I love about the games. ¬†Here are my top 11 moments from Rio 2016. ¬†In no particular order (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some).

  1. Witnessing Michael Phelps continue to outdo himself.  23 Olympic gold medals is one heck of a resume.
  2. That photo of the lifeguard at the pool.
  3. Usain Bolt’s triple triple.
  4. The post swim interviews by our swimmers – all the ones I saw showed each swimmer humble and proud, no matter what time and in what order they touched the end of the pool.
  5. Simone Biles.
  6. The marriage proposals.
  7. New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin and American runner Abbey D’Agostino in the 5000m heat.
  8. Melissa Tapper. ¬†After her efforts at the Olympics she’s now preparing for the table tennis tournament in the Paralympics!
  9. Colombia’s Caterine Ibarg√ľen winning the triple jump (I have a personal link to Colombia).
  10. Chloe Esposito and my newfound love for pentathlon.
  11. Watching the Matilda’s against Brazil – although I didn’t like the result, obviously.

As I write this, the closing ceremony is just a few hours away. ¬†It’s been a great couple of weeks Rio. ¬†Thanks for the inspiration¬†athletes of the world!

 

 

 


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Eat: A short restaurant review

Have you been to Bistro Gavroche? Hands down, it’s the best meal I’ve eaten in a while.

I have a special place in my heart for French food. So special, I attempt to ignore my food intolerances and eat until my heart’s content!

I stumbled upon BG last weekend after cocktails at The Old Clare with some lovely ladies from work. We went up the stark, office like stairs and found ourselves transported to a little bistro that could happily sit in the centre of Montmartre. 

We sipped a delicious French Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier while we waited for a table. The wine wasn’t our first choice, but the South Australian wine we chose (because it was the cheapest at $55 – we work at the ABC ok guys!) was sold out. Lucky it was, because the $60 French we had instead was delish!

A delicious drop


Once seated we were brought bread. Delicious French baguette with chilled salted butter. I could have feasted on that all night. No one does this simple combo better than the French. 
But the menu called us. 

Naturally, we started with the charcuterie board. Our SBV pretty much demanded we get it. ($28)

It was everything you’d expect. Terrine, a selection of meats, cornichons and more. Oh, and another basket of bread thanks!

You must start your meal with this

Choosing my main was a little harder (refer to earlier mentioned food intolerances, cream is not a good idea, even if I’m living dangerously). I settled on Onglet a l’echalotte et pommies Lyonnaises. Holy moly it was melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.  Eating the
beautifully medium rare cooked meat took me right back to the steaks I had in South America a couple of years ago. I would highly recommend this dish. ($37)

This photo does not do my main justice


My dining buddies also had delicious meals. 

Selle d’agneau ‘Bultarra’ et legumes racines ($35)

Entrecote frites, sauce Bearnaise ($45)


Of course, who dines at an incredible French restaurant and skips dessert?  Not us!!  Trois suzette crepe s’il vous pla√ģt.
Totally worth the $15 each for a bit of flamb√©, Grand Marnier, and flour. 

Warming up

Flambè

Flambè x 3!

We were stuffed. Three very happy, full bellied ladies. 
Before the bill was brought out, a tray of freshly baked madeleines shimmied by, ready for the taking. What a way to end a perfect meal!

Gold pillows of cake goodness


The service at BG was impeccable. All the staff were French, of course. Our wine glasses were never empty, neither was the bread basket. Everyone came to check on us to make sure we were having a great night. We were really made to feel at home. 

I could not fault Bistro Gavroche. 


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Park life

Recently I visited Sydney Park.  I’ve been past it a few times and noticed the rolling hills covered in bright green grass, the cycle area and the footpaths.  For months I’ve wanted to explore it.  I found a treasure when I finally did.  Gallery at the end.

It wasn’t a particularly special day, in fact I was just filling time when I went there.  The first thing I noticed about the park was the kids playing sport on the oval.  I loved the oval, surrounded in white picket fencing as so many ovals are here in Sydney.  (That is not something you ever see in my hometown, Perth).  There were kids and parents everywhere.  I walked along the path that surrounded the perimeter, as people ran past me, or scooted by, or walked their dogs.

Then I noticed a little path through the bushes and trees.  I took it and it opened up to an amazing lake area with man made water falls.  There were ducks and birds and people walking, riding, admiring the wildlife, sitting in the sun, laughing and relaxing.

I wandered along, taking photos of the bright sunlight streaming onto the water, grass and trees.  I stopped to watch two children jumping across stepping stones in the water.  I wanted to do it too, but the 32 year old in me said, you’re not a child, don’t do it.  Next time I go I will definitely do it. ūüôā

I kept going and found myself walking up one of those rolling hills I’d seen from the road.  From up here, there was a 360 degree view of Sydney.  I could see the CBD skyline, cranes used, I assume, to build apartment blocks, I even saw the undoubtedly recognisable kangaroo tail of a Qantas plane parked at the airport.

I made my way down that hill then up another.  Along the footpath someone had used chalk to write motivational sayings to people who might run up those hills (not me!) and drawings.  I loved them.

It’s a lovely park with so many interesting areas.  If you’re Sydney based and haven’t been there, I hope one day you do.  And you should definitely tiptoe along the stepping stones in the water.


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Blue

Ever since posting about the yellow door, I keep seeing great front doors around the place.

Today this gorgeous blue one caught my eye.

Blue is the colour of calm. Like the ocean, which can be so many different shades of blue. Also like the sky. Which I love the most when all I can see is vibrant blue when I look up. A crystal clear cloudless sky. ¬†It’s especially satisfying if you’re lying on green grass.

The blue of this door is calm. But also joy. It’s a bit cheeky. It’s a lot of fun. Most of all, it’s mysterious. What kind of person paints their front door this colour blue? ¬†I love it.

 

In fact, the house I grew up in had a blue front door.  It was more of a grey blue though, not the vibrant, bold blue of this door.

 


As an update to my yellow post, I’ve now seen two other brightly painted yellow doors on my strolls. It seems there are a few of us out there who love a bright front door.

Please let me know if you’ve seen any great front doors lately!


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10 years

As of Sunday July 10, 2016, I’ve been working for the ABC for 10 years. ¬†It’s hard to believe it. ¬†(Gallery of proof below!)

1 – Am I really old enough to work somewhere for a decade? ¬†School days don’t seem that long ago.

2 – If you asked me as a 14 year old, when I decided this was what I wanted to do, I doubt even my younger self would believe you if you said I’d be doing it. Let alone for so many years.

3 – Sometimes it feels like I’ve only been doing this a few years. ¬†There’s¬†still so much I want to do.

4 –¬†Other times, it feels like I’ve been doing this job far longer than 10 years.

A brief history

I started with ABC News and Current Affairs in Geraldton in Western Australia. ¬†It was tough going for the first few months. ¬†I was the only journalist there for the ABC, so I was very much left to my own devices. ¬†Eventually I got the hang of it and really enjoyed my 12 months there. ¬†I made some great friends with the ‘competition’ from GWN and the local papers. ¬†It was great to have my own ‘patch’ to cover. ¬†I had the Mid West and the Wheatbelt regions. I filed stories on the farming, cray fishing and mining industries as well as the usual news. ¬†I met some great people and visited some really nice towns.

I went to Bunbury, in WA after that.  There I had another journo to work with, so my workload was halved immediately.  It was great because it gave me more opportunities to work on longer form reporting.  We covered the South West which included farming, mining, wine and tourism.  I remember having  a great time filing for TV current affairs program Stateline about the Manjimup truffle industry and the dairy industry. They were both so much fun to shoot.  I also filed for the first time for radio current affairs programs AM and PM.  I was invited to a ceremony to rebury aboriginal remains. It was such a rare opportunity and made great radio.

After a year and a half I moved to Perth. ¬†I became one of two main newsreaders for ABC radio news in WA. ¬†That was lots of fun. ¬†I will never forget the morning my sub editor accidentally deleted all the audio carts from my 745am bulletin. ¬†I was one story in and had lost all my audio. ¬†It’s a 15 minute bulletin. ¬†It was stressful, but all I could do was keep reading. ¬†It actually turned into an opportunity, as I’ve used it in job interviews as examples of dealing with stressful situations! ¬†I also worked as a multi platform reporter in Perth.

After a few years, I was itching to try something new. ¬†So I moved to Sydney and the team at ABC News 24. ¬†Initially as a bulletin producer, but luckily¬†it didn’t take long before I was reporting for ABC News Breakfast and presenting TV news bulletins. ¬†And there it was, the 14 year old me’s dream to be a TV news presenter for the ABC, coming true.

Now what?