MY OCTOBER JOURNAL

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THE HIGHS

Where do I even start with the highs from this month?! At the start of the month I flew down to Sydney for the Cosmopolitan Women of the Year awards and this girl took out the title of Creative of the Year!! I have worked from home, (what seems like) alone for almost 5 years so I found this to really be a chance to stop & take in all that I have achieved. Even though I work for myself there are so many of you that are out there supporting and sharing the love for my work which made this award even possible. The trip was made even more special by my mum joining me for the 4 days. Hotel Revesis, a high on it's own merit (more on that below). Spicy margaritas at North Bondi Fish. North Bondi Fish in general. Room Service & Foxtel nights after extremely exhausting days. My mum absolutely nailing being an #instagrammum even though she did take a minute long burst (candids for days). Being by the ocean even just a little bit. Releasing my new artwork collection and it being so well received (thank you thank you thank you). Such interesting discussion around my last blog post: Pressure to be a Girl Boss. It has probably been one of my favourite blog posts from this year that I have written. Finding a house to move into & signing a lease. Donating unused beauty to Friends with Dignity.

SYDNEY TRIP SUMMARY

WHERE WE STAYED..

Hotel Ravesis, Bondi Beach. Without a word of a lie, this was kind of my dream hotel. Firstly the location is perfect. Not too far from the city but right across from Bondi Beach! The interiors are also as if they were designed right out of one of my dreams. Archways, moss green, pink & white everywhere. Everything is so beautifully designed down to the Do Not Disturb sign. It even made me want to buy all the merch available at the mini bar (I had to have the set of playing cards, see above) Their food & cocktails were also really yummy. Can not recommend more!

WHERE WE ATE... Since I was out at the awards most of the first day, and the photoshoot the next we didn’t explore too much. But we did stop at a few worth mentioning.

Sonoma Baking, Bondi. Went here a few times for breakfast & baked treats, 10/10.
Bills, Bondi. My mum had never had the hotcakes so I of course had to take her there at least once.
North Bondi Fish, Bondi. Mum and I had the best long lunch here, their spicy margaritas had me hooked. I still crave them.
The Grounds of Alexandria. I finally got there! My COSMO shoot was actually just across the road so I met up with Mum there after. After two big days of nervousness, I got a big burger and chips and was surrounded by flowers - perfection.

WHAT WE DID…

The first day in town I had the COSMO awards followed by a meeting so needless to say after 3 hours sleep the night before I was incredibly overwhelmed and exhausted by the time we got back to Ravesis. I just wanted to eat room service in bed and prepare for the shoot the next day. I was a little nervous about the COSMO shoot because I had no idea what to expect. What would I wear, would I feel like myself, what if I froze? All of those worries went away once I got onto set. The team was so beautiful and made me feel comfortable and more importantly like myself. The rest of Friday was spent at The Grounds then back at Ravesis for cocktails. Saturday was a big eating day. We went to Bills for breakfast, people/dog watched at Bondi then over to North Bondi Fish for a long lunch. A few cocktails later we headed over to paddington to look around at the single fronted houses & stores. Super Dreamy. Sunday was fly home day.


THE LOWS

The first week of October felt really stressful, I wasn’t in control of a lot that was going on which meant I was a little all over the place and didn’t feel organised. This didn’t last though, as it never does. Not being able to sleep until 4:30AM on the night before the awards. I ended up getting desperate at 4AM, downloaded some sleep story app and listened to someone who sounded like David Attenborough talk about lavender fields. It was quite a rainy month so there was a lot of days that shoots were planned but we couldn’t do them. Realising that we now have to do the nightmare moving part after finding a house. The realisation that I have way too much for one human. A new copyright infringement came up so I am now having to go through that with yet another national retailer. Thought I would get through the year without a major one but no such luck.

GOALS FOR NOVEMBER

Launch the HIS & HERS Italy photo book along with some re-prints of Paris & Japan in Mid November. I also am currently working on the 2019 Calendar for release late November. As I type this I am currently in our new house but my goal for the last week was really just to get through it. It was beyond exhausting so I am really just looking forward to enjoying being in the new space and get re-inspired.

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What happened to you in October?!

J x

TRAVEL LIKE A LOCAL: WHERE TO STAY

copyrightJasmineDowling

Let me preface this blog post saying that I can not take any credit for the gem locations which we have stayed in on our trips. I am the type that doesn't want to know anything about anything before the trip begins, which is fortunate because my partner Michael loves the researching and planning side of it (most of the time). But after 3 overseas trips I think there is some method to his madness and some cheats along the way so I may as well share. 

HOTELS vs. AIR BNB

I would say that it depends where you're going and for how long.

LESS THAN 2 NIGHTS, Hotel it up. Hotels for me have a couple of things going for them, simplicity and ease. You know 100% what you're going to get. You can get someone to bring you fries at 11PM, Leave your luggage at the desk on check out day, wear a robe. Those things are helpful on short trips but what they lack mean I wouldn't stay for over 2 nights. 

MORE THAN 2 NIGHTS, Air Bnb all the way. When we travel, we like to spend more than 2 days so we 95% of the time choose the Air Bnb life. It has lots of advantages but two big ones stand out to me. You're able to vacation how someone else lives, they have their own artworks, books and local recommendations that aren't out of a sponsored tour guide. The second major advantage is the likely hood of having both a reasonable kitchen and laundry. Especially if you're travelling for a while, there is nothing better than being able to cook your own food. 


FINDING THE PERFECT ACCOMODATION

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVE SHOPS/CAFES IN THE DESTINATION?

Open up google maps. If some of your favourite brands have locations in your travel destination then pin point those on the map and save them. Do the same with any cafes/stores that you have heard of that you want to visit while you're there. Once you have done this your map will have some areas that have more clusters of those places than others. That is where you should start looking for accommodation. 

In all of the locations we have stayed in around the world there were a few things that we were always close to. First up, Aesop. I think this is the most trustworthy guide as to where to stay. If you're near an Aesop you're very likely in a good spot. A few others that I remember are Saturday's NYC, APC and Acne Studios. 

 

WORK OUT YOUR NON NEGOTIABLES.

This list will help you sift through Air Bnb's real fast. Of course beds are a given but also think about things like if you need a bath, an oven, if you want the walk-up experience in NY, if you need a window in Paris. All those types of things. 

For example a Window/Balcony situation in Paris was one of my non-negotiables. But other than that I need lots of natural light, Coffee machine or coffee shop within steps of the place.

 

LOOK FOR PLACES THAT ARE AUTHENTIC TO THE LOCATION YOU'RE TRAVELLING TO

This is one of my favourite things about renting an apartment or house. I believe that homes strongly represent how we live and what is important to different cultures and to me it's so nice to experience that when travelling. The little things like sleeping on Tatami Mats in Kyoto, Staying in a Monastery in Positano or our 600 year old updated apartment in Rome. Those places made our trip so special. 


SOME OF MY TIPS

~ Read the reviews but use your common sense when doing so. I have read so many 'negative' reviews that are really complaining about things that I didn't find to be true, or things that don't even bother me. I have never had an experience where something went wrong at an air bnb and the host didn't fix it or help. Take note of the reviews that discuss the location and cleanliness. 

~ If you're on a budget, Air Bnb is the way to go. You get a lot more for your money than you would staying at hotels. Normally for our trips we give budgets to different locations. For example you may find an amazing place in Paris which means you might need to have a lower budget in Rome. 

~ If you are only staying for a short amount of time or just love the hotel life, I would recommend finding a boutique hotel in your destination. They are often full of personality and quirks that you are less likely to find in the big chains. 


As much as you're probably thinking this blog post was sponsored by Air Bnb, it isn't, we just use it a lot. If you have any gem apartments or hotels you've stayed in, add them to the comments below.

jasmine x

TAKING OSAKA CITY GUIDE

 Images shot by myself &  Michael hughes

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

We have reached our final stop, Osaka! 

Osaka on first impression was what I assumed Japan would be before travelling there. Loud, Bright neon lights, so much going on that it is sometimes hard to stay focused. It noticeably had a different vibe to the other cities straight away. There is an attitude here that I didn't feel in Tokyo or Kyoto, and not a bad one. There was more confidence here, it seemed edgier to me. If you're coming to japan for the streetwear, neon lights and street food I think Osaka would be the place for you. 

WHERE TO STAY  

Once again, Michael nailed the location for our accommodation. I am not going to include a link to this AirBnb not because it was bad or anything went wrong, I just wouldn't stay there again. But the location was perfect. You could walk to Shinsaibashi (the main tourist location in Osaka) and all the boutiques around Orange Street. The suburb was Osaka-Shi. 

By the end of our trip we realised that a few of the locations we stayed in had stayed in all had a few things in common. This rule even applied when we looked at past Air Bnb apartments we had stayed in around the world. We had a few stores/brands that were always located nearby. So now our rule is to find accomodation where you have an APC, Saturdays NYC or Aesop nearby. Good neighbourhood vibes guaranteed.

 Images shot by myself &  Michael hughes

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

WHAT TO DO

Day trip to Nara

Nara is just a train ride away from Osaka and is well worth it just to feed baby deer. Remember to make them bow to treats. If you haven't seen too many temples already, there are plenty in Nara to visit. 

DOGUYASUJI

This is an open mall for kitchen supplies but even more importantly for you - ceramics. Give yourself at least 2 hours to visit here. I went in thinking I wasn't going to buy anything due to my already stuffed suitcase and I came out with ink trays, painted bowls and jewellery dishes 2 hours later. 

NAMBA

Namba Parks is great for shopping and eating and walking distance Shinsaibashi and Doguyasuji. I have a few recommendations for places to eat in Namba below.

 

SHINSAIBASHI

Michael did me a favour and waited until night to take me down to Shinsaibashi for the first time and I would totally recommend doing the same. The neon light filled streets will overwhelm and amaze you at night. Besides the lights, Shinsaibashi has kilometres of shopping and places to eat. See below for my favourites.

ORANGE STREET

This is where you'll want to spend a day wandering around, checking out the shopping and cafes. I found there was a lot more cool mens and homewares stores here but either way it is worth visiting. It is just a short walk from Shinsaibashi. 

UMEDA SKY BUILDING

For an amazing view of Osaka, the Sky Building is the place to go. Be warned - it is fucking terrifying for someone who doesn't like lifts or heights. Firstly, the lift is outside the building and has glass walls and the escalator to the top is suspended between the two sides of the building so you are going up an escalator with nothing underneath. My hands are getting sweaty just typing this. 

 Images shot by myself &  Michael hughes

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

WHERE TO SHOP

BioTop Rooftop near Orange Street.
While you are there to get a bite to eat, head downstairs and check out their range of designer fashion and lifestyle products. 

United Arrows / Beauty & Youth United Arrows
Every time you see a United Arrows of some kind, I would recommend having a look. It reminds me of Beams and has a really nice curation of fashion. 

Doguyasuji
There isn't one particular store here but walking through, head into all of the ceramic stores. When visiting it is handy to not be carrying a lot. These stores are tiny and have walkways only one small person wide.

Tsutaya Books, LUCUA Osaka.
This place is close to impossible to find. We spent over an hour trying to find it. Lifts didn't go to the floor it said it was on, and google maps said we were in it when there was no books in sight. Once you are in the Lucua shopping centre try go up to level 10 then walk around until you find the escalator. That will take you down into the book store. 

Grand Front Osaka
A large shopping centre that will have your favourites like Beams and United Arrows but also some lovely little boutiques. 


 

WHERE TO EAT

BioTop Rooftop near Orange Street.
Either get some quick fries from their street level window or head upstairs. We went back multiple times because it was that good. I recommend getting one of their ginger drinks, a salad, their rosemary bread (a must) and a pizza to share. You will not need another meal for 10 hours but it will be worth it. 

Tempura Daikichi, Namba Parks
You must go here for tempura goods! 

Craft Burger Co. Osaka-Shi
This place was started by an Australian so you know they do good burgers! 

Critters Burger, Nishishinsaibashi
Also a good spot for burgers.

LiLo Coffee Roasters

Mill Pour Coffee Shop
Good little spot for coffee and there is a bakery next door.

Streamer Coffee

Elk Osaka
Good spot for breakfast or lunch and they also do 3D latte art?!

Mauloa Acai and Cafe
If you're heading to the Umeda Sky Tower, go here for acai!

Pablo
The little mini cheese tarts are to die for. You must get at least 6.

Shinsaibashi Street Food
You must try some of the japanese street food on offer around Shinsaibashi. There is so much to choose from and you can just have a little bit of everything.

Saturdays NYC, Osaka Shi
Our apartment was just around the corner so this was our go to for a quick bite and coffee. They even had lamingtons which made me feel very aussie after 4 weeks away from home.  

Note. Michael is vegetarian & we are the only two people on earth that don't like ramen so all recommendations will be ramen-free and vege appropriate. 


TAKING KYOTO CITY GUIDE

After two weeks in Tokyo it was time to take the Shinkansen down to Kyoto. We originally had 5 days there, but after taking out the first & last day for travel between cities and Michael not being well enough to leave the apartment our first official day, it really only left us 2 full days for exploring. Kyoto for me was kind of my little break. We didn't hunt out any shops, we caught up with a good friend who moved to Japan a few years back & I hardly took my camera out with me. From what I have seen it isn't common that people travelling to Kyoto stay here very long, it may be because the accomodation (even Air Bnb) are more expensive here, or that they take day trips while in Osaka. What I really wanted from Kyoto was to experience our first true 'Fall' and it definitely delivered that. 

A huge thanks to Michael for letting me steal a lot of his photographs for this post.  

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WHERE TO STAY 

When we were planning our trip we knew we wanted to have one of our apartments be traditionally Japanese and Kyoto would be the place to make that happen. We found this apartment in the neighbourhood of Nakagyo Ward. It was traditional but a super short walk to cute cafes and restaurants. The plus of this one was that it was above a Vegan Restaurant & Bar. Neither myself or Michael are vegan but he is vege so this was a huge help. A dinner experience was included in our stay and as someone who thinks they could never be vegan - Ukishima Garden Restaurant & Bar changed me. Hands down some of the best food I had in Japan. 

You can view the apartment we stayed in here.

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WHAT TO DO

As much as I am sure there are amazing shops and places to eat in Kyoto, my main focus was on what to see..

GION

Explore the streets of Gion for traditional architecture and traditional dress. It is such a beautiful area and it is nice to see the locals getting professional photos in their traditional dress. The only shame was the actions of tourists trying to hijack their professional shoots. I saw so many travellers getting in the way of shots so that they could get their 'geisha' shot. It was a real shame so I would encourage you put away your camera and see the situation for what it really is. 

Higashiyama

We spent the second half of our last day exploring Higashiyama. There are a few amazing temples to find along the way and is a beautiful walk. The small streets are also lined with stores and places to eat along the way. If you are to spend your money in any of the shops - go to the ceramic stores. They are dotted all the way along and you can find some absolutely beautiful pieces. You can also line up for Arabica Coffee if you're not heading our to Arashiyama. 

arashiyama

Arashiyama is a area not far out from Kyoto Central and easily accessible via a train. This is one of tourist destinations where everyone is trying to get 'the shot' but unless you're prepared to get there at 5AM there is going to be people in your image. We spent the day there with our friend that moved here and his girlfriend just walking and being completely in awe of the Fall colours. This place in fall is nature porn at its best.

The bamboo forest is here but to be honest it is so much smaller than you think and you're walking through like sardines. I loved walking up through the other paid gardens though. We came across a 'Tea Room' which we had all to ourselves and was pure bliss.

We also decided to go up to see the Monkeys. Half way up there was a cartoon of a monkey with boxing gloves on and an instruction not to look them in the eye. If you saw my Instagram Story of this you know how I felt. We got to the top, saw the monkeys and started our walk back down within 4 minutes. 

Don't go to Arashiyama for the monkeys or the pictures in the bamboo forest, go to see the gardens and the landscapes that you may not see anywhere else. Go for Arabica Coffee. The line is always long but if you have the whole day there then it's worth the wait. 

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WHAT I DIDN'T EXPECT

Good fucking coffee.
Drip Drop Coffee Supply
is a great place to stop for coffee and a bite to eat
Arabica Coffee has amazing branding and even better coffee.

Hints of new Kyoto.
Due to being known for their traditional nature, I didn't expect to see some amazing minimalist Japanese architecture. You can feel the juxtaposition there between the old and the new and the relationship between the two. I was all for it.


< PREVIOUS STOP, TOKYO

 NEXT STOP, OSAKA >

I know this guide was short but hopefully sweet. 

jasmine x 

TAKING TOKYO CITY GUIDE

Before I get into all the details about where I stayed, where I shopped and where I filled my belly I thought I should do a little de-brief. So we went to Japan for a month in total (Nov 1 - Dec 1 for those reading this in the future). Usually when we travel we like to try stay as long as we can in each town or countries if we are doing a few countries in one trip. I find it really hard to get a grasp or an opinion on somewhere after a few days so we really focus on a few places, stay there a while rather than trying to see and do everything that is on offer. Japan was the same, we stayed two weeks in Tokyo, 5 days in Kyoto and over a week in Osaka to end the trip. So naturally, that is the same order that I will be publishing my city guides in. First up - Tokyo. 

I am one of those people who hates planning holidays, but luckily enough Michael loves it and has never let us down in that department. So usually when I land in a place I don't really know what to expect. I didn't really read any blogs or other city guides and had just really seen what had come up in my Instagram Feed or from photos from friends & family. To be honest, I thought it was going to be crazy. And yes, some of it was. Yes I saw dogs being dressed like they were being filmed for toddlers and tiaras, yes there is a specific cafe for most animals you have always wanted to pat and Harajuku girls but when I think back on Japan I don't think 'crazy'. I found it so interesting how the city, the lights, the colours could be so loud but the people so quiet, polite & thoughtful in their approach. 

The other thing that I think Japan should be remembered for is their personal style. Nothing beats it. They are hands down the most stylish people I have ever seen. It didn't matter if they were old, young (or even their pets) they knew how to dress!

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WHERE TO STAY

We stayed outside of Shibuya in a suburb called Daikanyama & our apartment was between Shibuya & Ebisu. This suburb for me was the highlight of our entire trip. It was quiet at night but in the day you could just people watch for hours. It might not be the place to say with all the lit up billboards but for us it was perfect. They had amazing little streets full of amazing boutiques & places to eat. There was a train station just around the corner and it was only one stop away from Shibuya Station which was a huge plus. We also walked down to Ebisu which took maybe 5-10 minutes to eat. 

We stayed in Air Bnb accommodation again this trip and it didn't let us down. Our apartment was on the top floor and was spacious & filled with light which is unique for Tokyo accomodation. Downstairs there was multiple vending machines & a 7 Eleven which made things a little easier when we just needed a snack or a caffeine fix. I honestly could not recommend this apartment more.

Book Our Daikanyama Apartment


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COFFEE

Saturdays NYC - 1 Chome-5-2 Aobadai, Meguro
Good coffee and best little deck out the back. It's a must if you're in Daikanyama

Sarutahiko Coffee - 1 Chome-6-6 Ebisu
Good coffee and little muesli if you need a small breakfast.

About Life Coffee - 1-19-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya
Go here for takeaway coffee. 

Alfred Tea - 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku
A pink lovers dream right here

Sign All Day - 19-4 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Good Coffee. 

Why Juice? - 13-8 Daikanyamachō, 渋谷区 Shibuya-ku

Cafe Kitsune - 3 Chome-17-1 Minamiaoyama

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House - 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato
Be prepared to wait to be seated but it is so pretty that it is worth it!

 

FOOD

Grove Cafe - 1 Chome-11 Ebisuminami
Good cocktails and the french toast looked amazing

Bills - 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya
Expect to wait for a table but the Ricotta hotcakes are worth it.

Mr Farmer - 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya
Perfect for your vegetable fix 

Sidewalk Stand - Nakameguro
You must go here for toasted sandwiches and coffee.

Hacienda del Cielo - 〒150-0033 Tokyo
Would recommend going at dusk for the sunset & yummy Mexican

Frey's Pizza -〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato, Roppongi
I am just going to put this out there that this was the best pizza I have ever had. Get the one with the egg on it, it sounds weird but it is so damn good.  

Fry Bar - Ebisu

Pizza Slice - 1-3 Sarugakucho, Shibuya
If you're craving some American style pizza. This is your place

Cafe Havana - 〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya
Great place for some Mexican and a few too many drinks.  

King George - 〒150ー0034 Tokyo, Shibuya
The best sandwiches. Hands down. You must go here.

Coco Curry - Everywhere
Michael is vegetarian so it was harder to find a Japanese curry where the sauce wasn't from beef etc. CoCo Curry is a Japanese curry chain which has a menu for vegetarians with a few different options which were still really tasty. 

Very Fancy - 12-16 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Pancakes & more pancakes. Get on it. 

Spring Valley Brewery - 〒150-0034 Tokyo

Grigio - 〒150-0034 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku

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SUBURBS

I thought instead of listing every store that is amazing I would focus on three areas that you must visit for shopping.

Daikanyama
Wander around here for amazing little boutiques you have never heard of and vintage or second hand designer gear. 

Omotesando
This is where you're going to see your designer stores and consignment pieces. If you want your hands on Vintage Chanel - Amore Vintage is one for you. If your man is into hard to find street wear there is also lots to choose from here. 

Naka-meguro
It is all about the small, niche stores here. This is a must visit for a leisurely stroll which peeping into a few different stores. If you are going in Cherry Blossom Season you have to go here.  

Ginza
If you want to check out Dover Street Market I would recommend going for a wander around this suburb.

 

IN PARTICULAR...

 Rag Tag - 〒150-0041 Tokyo, Shibuya
Second hand designer fashion but I found its Mens department more fruitful than the Womens. 

Dessin Books - 2 Chome-11-1 Kamimeguro, Meguro
Cutest little bookstore not far from Naka-meguro.

Beams Womens - 〒150-0041 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku
Out of all the Beams we went to, this was my favourite. 

Comme Des Garcon - Any of their many stores
You have to go into just one to stare at how beautiful these clothes are in person. 

  Itoya - Any of their many stores
If you're wanting to pick up brush pens or stationery pop in here.

Loft - Any of their many stores
Same as the above. If you're wanting to pick up brush pens or stationery pop in here. 

Pigment 〒140-0002 Tokyo, Shinagawa
This is an art lovers heaven and is a must-visit. 

Bonjour Records - 〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya
Coolest little store. Full of records, books and merchandise.

Converse Daikanyama - 17-4 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Not like any converse clothing you have seen before. 

Tsutaya Book Store- 17-5 Sarugakuchō, 渋谷区 Shibuya-ku
The Tsutaya at T-site is next level. I could have filled an extra large suitcase just with books.

Stalogy - 〒150-0021, 1 Chome-35-16 Ebisunishi
Cutest little stationery shop.


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GALLERIES

Mori Art Museum - Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 53F, 6-10-1 Roppongi

Gallery Speak For - Japan, 〒150-0033 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku

21 21 Design Sight - 〒107-6290 Tokyo

The National Art Centre - 7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato

Taka Ishii Gallery - 〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato, Roppongi

Next stop, Kyoto! 

j x