Posts in Travel
The Local’s Guide to San Francisco (+vlog!)

Shot on Canon T7i and edited with Adobe Premiere. Please subscribe to me if you enjoyed the video :)

 
 

I’m lucky to have called San Francisco my home for the last 3 years. It’s a city filled with stunning hikes, parks, streets, and most importantly (lol), some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had. In this post, I’ll share with you some of my favorite spots around the city—including the most photogenic locations and the tastiest restaurants.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Let’s start off our tour of San Francisco in North Beach! People will tell you that it’s famous for its Italian food and strippers (weird combination, I know…) but I really love it for its cute residential neighborhoods and steep hills with great views of the city.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

But first, coffee. At Réveille Coffee Co.

Now that you’re in North Beach, stop for breakfast and coffee at Réveille Coffee Co. to fuel up your day in the city. It’s conveniently located just outside of Chinatown and serves some really delicious breakfast toasts—like this prosciutto and avocado toast with poached egg. They also serve some scrumptious salads and more adventurous brunch items like Shakshuka.

Réveille Coffee Co.

200 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
North Beach

reveillecoffee.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

City Lights Bookstore

After breakfast, head across the street to the City Lights, a unique bookstore founded in 1953 and now a historical landmark of San Francisco. It houses three stories of books, and offers titles from major publishers as well as smaller, independent publishers.

I really enjoyed going downstairs to the nonfiction section and flipping through all the jazz biography books and the cookbooks. 

City Lights Bookstore

261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
North Beach/Chinatown

citylights.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

telegraph hill

While in North Beach, hike up the Telegraph Hill area to Coit Tower. It might be a tiring walk, but you’ll be rewarded by loads of great views along the way. 

I’m not a really big fan of Coit Tower itself, since the area can get pretty crowded with tourists during the day. But I do use the tower as a starting point for exploring some pretty gorgeous areas of North Beach. 

You can stop by the intersection of Union and Montgomery—which is actually a pretty quiet and residential area—and get some great views of the Bay Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Filbert Steps

While in the Coit Tower area, walk down the Filbert Steps, which is a set of stairs enclosed in a gorgeous garden. You’ll get some great views of the Bay Bridge, all the while feeling like you’ve escaped the city in this relatively secluded hike.

Filbert Steps

Filbert St & Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94111
North Beach/Telegraph Hill

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

The Ferry Building

Walk towards the Embarcadero from the Filbert Steps and stop at the Ferry Building Marketplace for lunch or a quick snack. You won’t be disappointed by the food there—more like overwhelmed by the amount of options you’ll have. 

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Here you’ll find a bunch of SF-local vendors selling snacks and desserts like Dandelion Chocolate and Blue Bottle Coffee. You’ll also find a popup selling the most beautiful plates in the world by Heath Ceramics—which I love but absolutely cannot afford.

You can find anything from gluten-free desserts to empanadas to dim sum in this building… so good luck trying to decide what to eat. 

Ferry Building Marketplace

1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111

Embarcadero, SoMa

ferrybuildingmarketplace.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Palace of fine arts

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts with a few friends from work. I actually found this area super hard to photograph without a wide angle lens. I guess that’ll be my next big purchase on amazon.

It can get pretty crowded here with tourists during the day, but it’s nice to walk around its lake and check out the few swans that inhabit the area.

 
 

Palace of Fine Arts

3601 Lyon St
San Francisco, CA 94123
Marina/Cow Hollow

palaceoffinearts.com

 
 
San+Francisco+Photogenic+Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Catch the Sunrise at Baker Beach

Baker Beach is a great beach to catch a sunrise or sunset, and (in my opinion) one of the best viewing areas for the Golden Gate Bridge. I spontaneously decided to go there around 6AM in the morning on my own. Now that I look back, it did seem pretty dangerous, so I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. At least bring a (few) friend(s) with you! However, it was nice to get photos without all the people who are there during the day.

Danger aside, I have to admit it was pretty relaxing and therapeutic to be at a beach alone so early in the morning.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

I completely got over my fear after I saw a couple walking their dog there. Maybe I’ll take my dog for a stroll here next time as well!

Baker Beach

1770 Gibson Rd
San Francisco, CA 94129

Presidio

 
 
San+Francisco+Photogenic+Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Another great place to visit in the morning where there are little to no tourists is the Moraga Steps, located on 16th Avenue and Moraga St. It’s a set of stairs that’s been decorated with hand-made animal, bird, and fish mosaic tiles. It’s definitely a lot more touristy and crowded than the Filbert Steps, so try to get there at 7AM. Am I crazy for telling you to wake up this early? 

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Moraga St. between 15th & 16th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

Inner Sunset

16thavenuetiledsteps.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

GrandView Park

If the mosaic stairs become too crowded during the day, you can hike up to the top for a breathtaking view of the Inner and Outer Sunset. There’s actually another set of stairs that take you up to Grandview park for a more comprehensive view of the city.

Grandview Park

1705 14th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

Inner Sunset

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Have a cute japanese lunch at Bon, nene

After walking up all of those stairs, head to the Mission District for lunch at a super cute Japanese café called Bon, nene. The decor in this café looks like it came straight out of a Miyazaki movie, and the food… well I guess the food also looks like it came out of a Miyazaki movie. If you’re there early enough for brunch, try out their traditional Japanese breakfast!

Bon, nene

2850 21st St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Mission

bonnene.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Bernal Heights park

San Francisco is full of hills and great views, and another park for both is Bernal Heights Park. You might know it for its famous swing, but I love coming here to relax on the grass to listen to music or have a nice picnic. If you’re a dog lover, this is a fantastic place to bring your dog to mingle with other furry friends.

Bernal Heights Park

10 Bernal Heights Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94110

Bernal Heights

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Grab a Pastry from Tartine Bakery

If you’re in the Mission District, be sure to grab a pastry from San Francisco’s (arguably) most-renowned bakery: Tartine. You’ll find hordes of people lining up to get their hands on one of their pastries, so try to go pretty early in the morning. You need try the almond croissant. Or the frangipane tart (pictured above). They do frangipane damn well here.

It seems like there’s a trend on this post where I’m constantly telling you to go to places at unbelievably early hours. For that I apologize… but trust me, great food and great hikes are worth waking up for 🙃

Tartine Bakery & Cafe

600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Mission

tartinebakery.com

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Clarion Alley

While you’re in the Mission, stop by Clarion Alley to check out some beautifully-drawn murals. It’s located between Valencia St and Mission St, at the halfway point between 18th and 17th St.

Clarion Alley

Between Valencia St/Mission St and 17th/18th st
Mission

clarionalleymuralproject.org

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Have an asian-inspired brunch at Samovar Tea Lounge

San Francisco is the land of the brunches, but if you’re looking for something a bit more out of the box—and trying to expand your horizons beyond Eggs Benedict and waffles—try out Samovar Tea Lounge. They serve an array of Asian-inspired brunch items, like this Smoked-duck jook with poached egg, and a huge selection of teas. I found most of their items to be slightly healthier than those of most brunch places. Moreover, they’re located in the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens, which you can ogle at through their huge glass windows.

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

The Smoked-duck jook was so yummy! Their butternut squash potstickers are also super tasty.

Samovar Tea - Yerba Buena Gardens
730 Howard St
Yerba Buena Gardens
San Francisco, CA 94103

SoMa

samovartea.com

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

But wait, there’s more! (for brunch)

I’m not gonna let you off the hook with just one brunch place in this post. If you’re looking for somewhere hassle-free without a 1-2 hour wait (which is pretty common for brunch places in SF) but also a place that serves some amazing food, try a small neighborhood-restaurant called Cassava in the Outer Richmond. They serve a traditional Japanese-style breakfast as well as more common American-style breakfast plates. Their plating game is also off the charts. But the best part is: I’ve been there multiple times and never did I have to wait for a table.

Cassava

3519 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121
Outer Richmond

cassavasf.com

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Lands end trail

For a beautiful morning hike that’s not super intense, walk the Lands End trail for beautiful views of the ocean. End your hike at Mile Rock Beach, where you’ll see the Lands End Labyrinth and a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lands End Trail

680 Point Lobos Ave
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, CA 94121

b/t El Camino Del Mar & Merrie Way
Sea Cliff

parksconservancy.org/parks/lands-end

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

All photos were taken on the Canon T7i and edited in Adobe Lightroom CC.

Hope you enjoyed this photo-heavy post and are inspired to pay San Francisco a visit! San Francisco has so much to offer in terms of hikes, views, shopping, and food that this post barely scratches its surface. But I hope that this at least gives you a good starting point :)

What are your favorite places in San Francisco? Let me know in the comments!

♥ Cindy

 
TravelCindy ZhangComment
24 Hours in London
London in 24 Hours - Notting Hill
 
 

London was the first city I ever visited in Europe, and it’s considered a great starting point to the rest of Europe not only because of language, but also its convenient underground subway system. If you’re short on time and only have a day in London, don’t fret: this city’s totally possible to tackle in a day. Here’s an itinerary to explore London in less than 24 hours, planned out with each location not too far from the next:

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Tower Bridge Tour
 
 

10:00 AM - Tower Bridge tour

Visit Tower Bridge early in the morning, when it’s the least crowded. If time permits, try to head up and walk along the top level where there’s a glass floor from which you can see all the traffic on the bottom level. You can even catch the bridge open up for ships as they pass through.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Leadenhall Market
 
 

12:00 PM - Grab a quick bite at Leadenhall Market

Situated just a mile north of Tower Bridge is Leadenhall Market, a Victorian-style retail center full of shops, cafés, pubs, and casual restaurants. You can usually catch Londoners day-drinking here during their lunch breaks, watching the game together (I was there during world cup season). If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this market might seem vaguely familiar to you, since it was actually the filming site to Diagon Alley.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Notting Hill
 
 

1:30 PM - Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill

For a taste of London’s local scene away from the bustling city, escape to the famous Portobello Road Market in the charming neighborhood of Notting Hill. You can find a huge array of discounted treasures there—antiques, books, vintage dresses, old jazz records, and street foods, just to name a few. Once you’re finished with the market, get some Julia Roberts + Hugh Grant vibes in the market’s enclosing neighborhood of Notting Hill, a quiet and residential area filled with colorful victorian-style houses. London is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, but Notting Hill is where it all slows down.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Afternoon Tea
London in 24 Hours - Afternoon Tea
London in 24 Hours - Afternoon Tea
 
 

3:00 PM - Afternoon Tea

While in England, treat yourself to the luxurious experience of having Afternoon Tea (which is oh so much more than tea). We chose to have our tea at The Orangery, a restaurant inside the Kensington Palace that overlooks its gardens. We ordered the “Pavilion Afternoon Tea,” which came with two types of teas and a gorgeous 3-tiered selection of goodies to go along with the tea: finger sandwiches, small curry wraps, scones, and desserts comprised of teacakes, macarons, and tarts.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Carnaby Street
 
 

5:00 PM - Shop at Carnaby Street

Head to London’s West End and shop at Carnaby Street. It encloses an eclectic mix of global brands and independent stores, along with loads of restaurants, cafés, and bars. The West End is a huge hub for shopping, but I found Carnaby Street to be the most quirky with its super artistic storefronts and trendy streetwear brands.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - London Eye
London in 24 Hours - Parliament from the London Eye
London in 24 Hours - London Eye
 
 

6:30 PM - Catch a sunset on the London Eye

In the evening, catch a ride on the London eye to get a panoramic view of the Thames and Parliament from above. If you’re lucky and it’s not raining, you can even try to catch the sunset. The pod that you ride in is spacious and completely surrounded by glass, so you can get a comprehensive view of multiple parts of the city.

 
 
24 Hours in London - Westminster Bridge
 
 

7:30 PM - Walk along Westminster Bridge

After heading up the London Eye, walk along Westminster bridge and watch the House of Parliament light up along with Big Ben. You’ll also get great views of the London Eye on this bridge. But it’s a place where a huge number of tourists flock to, try to plan your visit later in the evening or early in the morning when it’s less crowded.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Fish & Chips, Bubble & Squeak
 
 

8:30 PM - Try out some British staples for dinner

For dinner, we tried out some traditional British dishes such as Fish & Chips (served with mushy peas here… which I wasn’t exactly pumped about) and Bubble & Squeak, which is a potato and vegetable pancake served with eggs. If this doesn’t look too appetizing to you, you should know that the national dish of England is actually Chicken Tikka Masala. This means London is filled with incredible Indian restaurants. I previously had an amazing meal at “Punjab”, London’s oldest North-Indian restaurant, and also heard great things about the more modern “Dishoom.” These highly-rated Indian restaurants are both located in the Convent Garden area in the West End.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Full English Breakfast
 
 

7:30 AM - Traditional full English breakfast

Don’t leave London without having one of its most iconic meals: the Full English Breakfast. It consists of common breakfast items like eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, bacon, and sausage (or “bangers,” as the Brits would say), as well as more traditional English items like baked beans and black pudding. With all of its different components, the Full English can be quite a heavy meal, so consider just getting one plate to share. We had our Full English at the Regency Café, considered one of the best and cheapest spots for a Full English in London. It’s located in the quiet, residential side streets of Westminster, and accepts cash only. Try to head to the café early in the morning to avoid waiting in a long line.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Platform 9¾
 
 

9:00 AM - London -> Hogwarts

The best way to leave London is via the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾.

… Just kidding. But if you are leaving London via train from King’s Cross or St Pancras International, be sure to stop by Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross, which is really a brick wall with a trolley embedded in it. There are scarves readily available from every Hogwarts house, as well as employees there to help you wave your scarf and take your photo while you pretend to magically leap into the platform. Once you’re done with the photo, you can also purchase fan merchandise like wands and scarves at the Harry Potter Shop located right next door.


 
 

Hope you enjoyed this short itinerary and found it useful! I haven’t been back to London in a while, but after watching lots of the Great British Bakeoff and listening to a lot of Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei, I’m really itching to cure my Anglophilia by going back.

♥ Cindy

 
Travel, 2Cindy Zhang
The Paris Bucket List
The Paris Bucket List
 
 

Bonjour! It’s been a minute since I visited Paris, but after rummaging through my hard drive, I realized I actually had some great photos left over from my graduation trip!

Paris was one of the first cities I visited after graduating from college, and it was without a doubt the most hectic and intimidating travel destinations I’ve ever come across. But with Amélie and The Devil Wears Prada as two of my favorite movies, I completely geeked out the moment I arrived. Here’s a list of things I think you should do when you visit, as well as some tips and gotchas for each location.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List
 

Climb the Arc de Triomphe

 

Get a panoramic view of Paris on top of the Arc de Triomphe. Like many other attractions around Paris, the Arc de Triomphe does not have an elevator, which means you’ll have to climb up its 284 steps to get to the top. You’ll be rewarded at the end of your climb with a stunning view of the Champs-Élysées, which is an avenue filled with cafés and luxury shops.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List
 
 

Vist the Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle stands out as one of the most dazzling churches in Paris because it’s surrounded in every corner with stained-glass windows. Try to plan your visit on a sunny day to see the light pouring in from all directions.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - the best crepes at Au p'tit grec!
 
 

Have these must-eat Parisian Treats

Crepes: According to my friend who studied abroad in France, Au p'tit grec—located next to Sorbonne University in the Latin Quarter—is arguably the best place to get a crepe in Paris. After eating there myself, I can definitely confirm that statement. This hole-in-the-wall creperie serves both savory and sweet crepes with gooey centers and crunchy exteriors. Expect to wait in line amongst locals and tourists alike to get your hands on one of these delicious street foods.

 
 
Paris Bucket List - the best pastries at Du pain et des Idees
 
 

Pastries: For the best pastries, the same friend recommended a bakery called Du pain et des Idées. Get the "Escargot Pistache" if they have it—it's not really escargot, just a buttery and flaky (snail-shaped) pastry filled with pistachios and chocolate.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - Palace of Versailles
 
 

Take a day trip to the Palace of Versailles

Venture out of the city to visit the Palace of Versailles. There you can explore the beautiful Hall of Mirrors and the lavish quarters of Louis XIV. Be prepared to do a lot of walking, as this residence is filled with huge gardens and numerous palaces (hey, the royals probably can’t stand each other and need their personal space!). Prepare to spend an entire day getting lost inside this lavish “estate”, which is realistically the size of a small town.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - Palace of Versailles
The Paris Bucket List - Palace of Versailles
The Paris Bucket List - Palace of Versailles
The Paris Bucket List - Palace of Versailles
 
 

Getting to Versailles from Paris

The cheapest way to get to Versailles from Paris is by train. Round trip tickets cost about 7 Euros per person. Just head to your nearest Metro station and hop on the train to the “Versailles-Château: Rive Gauche” stop.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - Paris Jazz Clubs
 
 

Enjoy intimate concerts in Parisian Jazz Clubs

Stray from the standard tourist path and enjoy a drink and performance in Paris’s many jazz clubs. Jazz and Bossa Nova are huge in Paris, and you’ll find loads of locals sipping away in the basement of restaurants or bars enjoying music in a super intimate setting. American jazz standards are the most popular repertoire, and some of the musicians themselves are American and will speak English throughout their entire set. Some of my favorite venues were 38 Riv, New Morning, and Sunset Sunside.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - The Louvre
The Paris Bucket List - The Louvre
The Paris Bucket List - The Louvre
 
 

Get lost in the Louvre

When you’re ready to be touristy again, head on over to the Louvre, which contains one of the largest collections of art in the world. The Louvre’s size can seem intimidating and it can take hours to explore the entire thing—so set aside plenty of time for it. The museum is literally a walk through history and is filled with famous masterpieces from around the world. One of my favorite exhibits was the Napoleon III Apartments, which is filled with lavish decor and furniture and is slightly reminiscent of Versailles. It hints that the Louvre was actually a royal palace before it became a museum.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - Mona Lisa
 
 

Say hi to the Mona Lisa

Because the Louvre is a major tourist destination, buy your tickets ahead of time and visit when the museum first opens at 9AM. Hurry in to see the Mona Lisa first, since this particular gallery will be flooded with hordes of people and their selfie sticks later in the day.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - top of the Eiffel Tower
The Paris Bucket List - Eiffel Tower light show
 
 

Head up the Eiffel Tower at night

In my opinion, it’s best to visit the Eiffel Tower at night for 2 reasons: to catch the light show and to see the panoramic nighttime view. Look at the entire city light up as the lift stops on multiple floors. Be sure to keep an eye on your belongings, as pick-pockets love to swarm the area around the tower (especially when you’re in a cramped elevator on your way up).

 
 
The Paris Bucket List - Montmartre
The Paris Bucket List - Moulin Rouge
 
 

Explore Montmartre and Pigalle

If you’re like me and loved the movie Amélie, then you’ll love the picturesque neighborhood of Montmartre. This area of town is filled with quaint bakeries and cafés and is a great place to take a casual morning stroll. Head up to Sacré-Coeur—a basilica at the very top of the hill—to get one of the best views of Paris and see the Eiffel Tower in context with the rest of the city. Later in the day, head over to the less-innocent Pigalle neighborhood, which is directly at the foot of Montmartre. There you’ll find the famous Moulin Rouge as well as a myriad of bars and restaurants.

… annnnd a bunch of sex shops 🙃

 
 
The Paris Bucket List
 
 

Stay in a cute Parisian Apartment

Ditch the hotel and stay in a Parisian apartment. I was lucky enough to stay in an artist’s loft which was filled from head to toe with his paintings and sculptures. Most apartments are equipped with the very Parisian windowsill adorned with flowers. However, like the rest of the city, these traditional apartment buildings do not have elevators, which means you’ll probably need to climb some steep, spiral staircases on your way up. Be sure to have the flashlight ready on your phone when you head home at night, since most staircases won’t have its own lighting.

 
 
The Paris Bucket List
 
 

After creating this post, I am hugely considering going back in the near future. Perhaps on a solo trip this time?

I also forgot to mention, Paris, je t'aime and Midnight in Paris are also a few of my favorite films! And you bet I’m itching to watch them again now that I mentioned them here 😓

♥ Cindy

 
Travel, 2Cindy Zhang
Italy on film
 

This post is going to be a bit of a throwback post. When I visited Italy last summer, I brought along several 35mm disposable film cameras to capture some truly candid shots of Venice, Rome, and Florence. This experience gave me an interesting and different perspective to photography. I’m so used to snapping multiple photos, looking at them, and then taking more to adjust for the mistakes in the previous shots. With a film camera, there’s no way to see what you’ve snapped until much later, until you’ve filled up your camera and gotten all your photos developed, so you really have to think hard about the composition of your photo, as well as find that perfect moment to capture.

 
 

Venezia

 
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film - Venice
 

Roma

 
Italy on film - Rome
Italy on film - Rome
Italy on film - Venice
Italy on film
Italy on film
Italy on film - Rome
Italy on film - Rome
 

Firenze

 
Italy on film - Florence
Italy on film - Florence
Italy on film - Florence
 
 

Now, for the cameras:

Color: Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash 400 Disposable 35mm Camera 

Black & White: Ilford XP2 Super Single Use Camera with Flash (27 Exposures) black and white film

I got my film developed at Oscar’s Photo Lab in San Francisco. You can also get them developed at some Walgreens, CVS, and Costco stores.

Hope you enjoyed the photos, and happy 2019!

♥ Cindy

 
Travel, 2Cindy ZhangComment
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia - Vlog and Photo Diary

Video was shot using the iPhoneX + DJI Osmo Mobile 2 for stabilization. Edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 and Adobe After Effects CC 2018.

 
 

If you enjoyed the video, please give me a thumbs up/subscribe to me on YouTube!

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

After spending a few rainy days in Melbourne, I headed off to Sydney in hopes of spending a few days in the sun. Unfortunately, a rare case of rain hit the city for the first two days I was there, so I couldn’t spend as much time outdoors as I had liked to. Luckily, in addition to its beautiful outdoor landmarks and picturesque beaches, Sydney provided some amazing indoor activities during the rain as well.

Take a look at the map I curated to see all the places below in context.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

1. Soak up the sun at Bondi Beach

Sun’s out, guns out. Head over to Sydney’s most iconic and popular beach: Bondi beach, and take a dip in the ocean—or do some shopping in its small boutiques along the coastline.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 
 

2. Swim and sip at Bondi Icebergs

When you get hungry and thirsty at Bondi, stop by Icebergs, a restaurant, bar, and recreation club right next to the beach. There’s a pool carved into the side of the ocean where you’ll still occasionally get hit with the ocean waves while swimming. Visit the bar and restaurant upstairs to get an amazing view of the ocean while sipping your refreshing drinks and eating your delicious meal.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

3. See the cuddly (and scary) animals at the Wild Life Sydney zoo

Visit the Wild Life Sydney Zoo to see all of the unique animals Australia has to offer. You can even get up close and personal with some of their koalas.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney Australia
 
 

4. Visit the Opera House early in the day

I got to visit the Opera House twice during my stay in Sydney: once during the more crowded hours in the afternoon, and again at 7AM in the morning. If you want to avoid the hoards of tourists getting in your way of photos, or just want to enjoy a quiet walk up and down the stairs leading up to the opera house, I highly recommend making the sacrifice of getting up at sunrise and visiting the opera house early in the day.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

Otherwise, your photo will look more like this one below (with a bunch of people hanging out in the background):

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

5. View the Opera House from Royal Botanic Gardens

Interestingly, the best view of the opera house is actually not at the opera house. Believe me, the monument looks a lot better once you’re bit further away. Get away from all the tourists and escape to the Botanic Gardens on the east side of the opera house. You can enjoy a quiet stroll through this city park that resembles New York City’s Central Park (at least from what I saw in the movies) and walk past the joggers to enjoy a view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and the city skyline.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

6. Have the new style sashimi at Sake on the Rocks

Sake on the Rocks is a Japanese restaurant located in an area close to Circular Quay called The Rocks, a historic neighborhood filled with cobblestone roads, shops, old pubs, and upscale restaurants. My favorite dish was hands down the “New Style Sashimi,” which is a dish of sashimi revamped with hot sesame oil on top to slightly sear the raw fish.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

7. Shop at the Queen Victoria Building

The Queen Victoria Building (or “QVB”) is a late 19th century building in the CBD that houses a myriad of shops, restaurants, and cafes. There’s a comprehensive selection of stores that range from local Australian boutiques to more common designers like Coach and Calvin Klein. If you’re still not satisfied, QVB is connected to the Westfield mall, which is located directly on its north facing side.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

8. Find the hidden bird cages at angel Place

Wander through the streets south of Circular Quay and you’ll find this hidden art installation on Angel Place between Ash St. and Pitt St. The artwork is called “Forgotten Songs” and was designed by Michael Thomas Hill. As you stand underneath the birdcages you can hear the sounds of the birds that once inhabited Sydney before the city was built.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

9. Walk through the tunnels at sea Life Aquarium

After finishing up with the land animals at the Wild Life zoo, head next door to the Sea life Aquarium to stroll amongst stingrays, jellyfish, and sharks.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

10. Do the Bondi to bronte walk

If you’re hungry for more beach scenery after visiting Bondi beach, walk south along the coast to visit a few other beaches and sights, including Mackenzie’s Point, Tamarama Beach, and Bronte Beach.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 


11. Have super spicy thai food at chat thai

After hearing about how Thai food is Sydney’s current obsession, I knew I had to check out the craze for myself. Upon seeing great reviews for Chat Thai (a chain scattered across the city, including at the Westfield mall), I had one of the spiciest but most delicious Thai dishes: mu krop—crispy pork belly over rice with a fried egg on top.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

12. See Sydney from above the clouds at the sydney tower eye

Go to the 5th floor of the Westfield mall and you’ll find the entrance to the Sydney Tower Eye, an observation deck with a 360 degree view of the city.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

13. Have coffee and breakfast at parlour lane roasters

If you’re looking for a unique, retro-style cafe to sit down and enjoy breakfast and a flat white, this is your place.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

14. Visit the Museum of Contemporary art

While strolling along The Rocks area or Circular Quay, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is completely free to explore.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 


15. Take the ferry across circular quay at night

To get another great view of the Opera House or Harbour Bridge, jump aboard one of the ferries going to or from Circular Quay. Your opal card (transportation card for all buses, trains, and trams) will also work for ferry access.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

In this post I also wanted to give a huge shout out to the Four Seasons hotel in Circular Quay for a wonderful stay. The hotel is conveniently located just a 5-10 minute walk from the Circular Quay ferry station, several bus stops, and, if you’re lucky enough, you could get a room with a sick view of the Opera House. The best part though, was probably the included breakfast which included freshly-made Eggs Benedicts and omelettes.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

I also tried out room service for the first time and got this a.ma.zing pasta. I called concierge to ask the chef for the recipe. Turns out there was uni butter in it, so welp, it might not be very easy to recreate at home.

 
 
15 Things to do in Sydney, Australia
 
 

Hope you found this travel photo diary helpful. If you haven’t done so already, you can also check out of my post for Melbourne as well.

The vlogs for both cities are on their way as well ;)

♥ Cindy

 
Travel, 2Cindy Zhang
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia - Photo Diary
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia

Video was shot using the iPhoneX + DJI Osmo Mobile 2 for stabilization. Edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 and Adobe After Effects CC 2018.

 
 

When people think of Australia, the first thought that often comes to their minds is probably the iconic Opera House in Sydney (and maybe kangaroos and koalas). I knew Sydney was a place I needed to check off my Australian bucket list, but Melbourne was another city that intrigued me. If Sydney was the mainstream, beautiful blonde bombshell, I envisioned Melbourne to be her brunette, alternative, artsy sister. While Sydney is known for its beaches and famous landmarks like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Melbourne is more renowned for its coffee, street art, and its neighboring adventures on the Great Ocean Road.

Take a look at the map I curated to see all the places below in context.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

I arrived in Melbourne after about 20 hours of traveling, first from San Francisco to Sydney, and then after a delayed flight from Sydney to Melbourne. It was tough a 20 hours, so when I arrived, I knew I needed to treat myself to a flat white in the coffee capital on Australia.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

1. Have a flat white in the coffee laneways

Melbourne is famous for its laneways, which are tiny pedestrian-only streets filled with hole-in-the-wall shops, cafes, and small restaurants. I chose to explore Centre Place, which is one of the most popular laneways that has graffiti spilling into it and loads of coffee spilling out.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 
 

2. Visit the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes

When the weather’s right, head south of the CBD (Center Business District—what the Melbournians refer to as the downtown area) to Brighton Beach. There, you’ll see a row of colorful huts where surfers will store their surfboards and other surf equipment.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

Beware of all the bloggers here asking their “Instagram husbands” to take about a million photos for them.

 
 

Bikini: Kendall and Kylie via Revolve

 
 

3. Explore the street art on Hosier Lane

Another cheap and easy thing to do in the CBD is to head on over to Hosier Lane after visiting one of coffee laneways and explore the huge amount of graffiti on this street. Street art is not forbidden—it’s encouraged.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia

Duster Coat: Ba&Sh via Rent the Runway | Shirt: J.Crew | Jeans: Anthropologie | Sneakers: H&M

 
 

4. Have breakfast and coffee at White Mojo

Have a sesame latte and some of the prettiest breakfast plates I’ve ever seen at White Mojo Specialty Coffee Roasters.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

5. See the mix of traditional and contemporary installations at the National Gallery of Victoria

The NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) is a definite must-do here in Melbourne. It’s Australia’s oldest art museum and holds art ranging from the 19th century to the 21st century. Its collection ranges from Asian to European art, and works by Monet to works by Julian Opie. It was probably one of the most intriguing art museums I’ve ever gone to, and I was in love with the mix of the old and the new. Did I also mention it’s free?

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

6. Travel the Great Ocean Road

On my third day in Melbourne, I decided to venture out of the city to explore the Great Ocean Road. Instead of going on a regular bus tour, I opted in for an Airbnb Experience with Pete, which was, in my opinion, thousands of times better than going on traditional bus tour. Pete drove our group of five in his mini van along the Great Ocean Road to visit some of its major sights, stopping for meals and coffee along the way.

What set Pete apart the most was how he truly tried to create bonds between the people traveling through his conversations. He would tell us personal anecdotes along the journey and not skimp out on the textbook information for each destination either. I would highly recommend booking a tour with him either on Airbnb or through his Facebook page. You can also check out a video one of his guests made for one of his experiences.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

We learned that there are actually 8 apostles, not 12. They decided to lie to all of us and name it the “12 apostles” just because it had a better ring to it.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

I would say Loch Ard Gorge(ous) was my favorite (pictured above).

We stopped along Torquay, Lorne, Gibson Steps, 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and London Bridge. We also got to see a few Koalas out in the wild and have lunch at some local cafes.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

7. Have (more) coffee at Brother Baba Budan

Hang with the hipsters at this always-crowded coffee shop serving Seven Seeds Coffee in the CBD and stare up at its incredible ceiling.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

8. Chinatown Melbourne

Did you know the oldest Chinatown in the Western world is located right here in Melbourne? The restaurants here are amazingly authentic—none of that chop suey, general tso’s chicken crap that Chinese Americans had to create to appeal to western palettes so they could survive in America. We ended up having hot pot at a place called Dainty Sichuan.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

9. Breakfast at Hardware Société

If you didn’t get your “Instagramable and hip coffee shop” fix yet, head on over to Hardware Societe for a French inspired breakfast (I got the baked eggs!).

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

10. Explore Southbank at night

Walk across Melbourne’s many bridges across the Yarra river and visit Southbank to watch hoards of locals eat, drink, and party on a night out.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 


11. Have dinner at Supernormal

Have some delicious revamped Asian-inspired dishes at Supernormal. Though the price can be quite steep, the flavors here are the best around. The waiters are so nice to the point where they will give you free dessert because they feel sorry for making you wait so long for the food.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

12. Visit the Shrine of Remembrance

Catch a glimpse of Melbourne’s skyline after walking up the stairs to the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial to honor the men and women who fought in World War I. Also free to enter.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

13. Visit the State Library of Victoria and then have a snack at the Queen Victoria Market

Unfortunately, on the day I visited, the dome of the library was closed off for a special event. However, I found other parts of the library equally picturesque. The library is walking distance from Queen Victoria Market, which sells fresh produce, meat, and seafood, and is full of stalls selling street food, cheeses, and jams.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

14. Do your Christmas shopping at the Royal Arcade

When you want to do some more unique, local shopping, head to the Royal Arcade, which originally opened in 1870. This light-filled building houses local chocolatiers, toy shops, as well as cafes and bakeries.

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 


15. Go up the Eureka Skydeck

For a more comprehensive view of Melbourne’s CBD, head up the Eureka Skydeck building (the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere).

 
 
15 Things to do in Melbourne, Australia
 
 

Melbourne was coined the world’s most livable city for 7 years in a row (before finally being defeated this year by Vienna, Austria). After experiencing Melbourne’s amazing food from its melting pot of different cultures and interacting with its friendly and upbeat people, I can see why it’s reigned on top for so long. It seems like everyone in Melbourne is accepting of everyone else’s unique backgrounds, and I think that’s why incredible art, food, and culture continue to emit from this city.

♥ Cindy

 
Travel, 2Cindy Zhang