Emi G's Top 6 Cafes in Byron Bay

Australia gets a 4-day long weekend in honor of Easter. It’s kind of funny that it’s basically a national holiday here even though it seems like half of the population is Indian / Asian non-Christian descent (I’m also based in Sydney so that’s skewed). All the stores and brands are allowed to say “Happy Easter” which is totally banned in marketing in the States.

That’s another topic, but I’ll take the 4-day weekend! Since I need to save my annual leave (vacation days) this was a golden travel opportunity. So instead of exploring somewhere I haven’t been I booked my third trip to Byron Bay. I couldn’t resist.

Me loving life on Folk's hairpin stools (which I fell off once. They are for tiny bums) Me loving life on Folk’s hairpin stools (which I fell off once. They are for tiny bums)

I’m a big nerd for coffee shops, and since Australia has a thing for cafes I’ve found myself in a good situation. I had to work remotely one day so I turned it into a little adventure and popped by a couple cafes on my list, and then relished in my discoveries the rest of the weekend. Combined with one of my favourite cafes from my previous visit, the following are my top 6 cafes in Byron Bay:

Folk Byron Bay

www.folkbyronbay.com

Long story short…  this cafe reeks Byron Bay vibes, and it’s not covered with backpackers as it’s a bit out of town – but worth the trip(s)!!! Can’t wait to return

I returned to this place three out of five days, so there’s something to be said about this lovely cafe (I’m obsessed). It’s a ten minute bike ride from town but it is an easy ride and so worth it! The vibes are friendly and relaxed, with an inviting indoor/outdoor setup and great tunes from old hits to new discoveries. I had the most luscious brownie of my entire life, some naturopathic tea, amazing coffee, and I met cool locals working in the shop. I worked almost an entire day from this shop and the WiFi was good too. I loved the design of it all. The food also looked amazing but I actually didn’t get a meal here – but from the looks and reactions of everyone else who ate at Folk, the food seems like a good move.

The Top Shop

The Top Shop Facebook

Go to this cafe if… you want to feel cool, beachy, and enjoy a treat.

Image from Spirit of Bali Image from Spirit of Bali Image via Pinterest  Image via Pinterest

The Top Shop seems like a local favourite. Just a ten minute walk from the main area of town, beachgoers retreat to this cafe for yummy baked goods, great coffee, and smoothies. Every time I went (I don’t just go to places I love once) families and groups of friends were hanging out not only in the cafe but on the lawn out front. Side note everyone looked really trendy.

I have to say this was the best acai bowl I had in Byron. That’s saying a lot!!! Lately I’ve been getting bowls without bananas on top to cut down on some sugar and they happily accommodated (not all Aussie restaurants are down for a menu change…).

Bayleaf Cafe

Bayleaf Cafe Facebook

Go here when you… want a killer brunch and great service.

Brunch at Bayleaf is a must. They do sweet and savory dishes well, and just like most trendy cafes in Australia, the coffee is amazing. ☕️ This indoor/outdoor cafe is right in town so you have no excuse not to go. The staff here was also really friendly despite being so busy. I wanted to befriend everyone.

The Farm at Byron Bay

thefarmbyronbay.com.au

Go here to… get inspired by a wonderful food experience and the philosophy behind it.

Image from the The Gourmet Traveler Image from the The Gourmet Traveler

How could I not mention the Farm! The greatest food mecca I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring. This is a full-on wonderful experience, so I actually included biking to the Farm as one of the top things to do in Byron Bay.

The guys who started The Farm are actually from Bronte, my home beach neighborhood in Sydney ? They believe in surfing, building a community, and eating clean and using local/home-grown ingredients. Even without the awesome mission, the food speaks for itself. Best pumpkin lentil pie I’ve ever had (which is only once. And it was the best.).

Naked Treaties

www.nakedtreaties.com.au

Go here to… get a sense for Byron culture, employees that practice what the cafe preaches, and some yummy raw treats of course!

Image from Guide To Organics Image from Guide To Organics Image from Naked Treaties - it's 'Iced Blues' in honor of Bluesfest :P Image from Naked Treaties – it’s ‘Iced Blues’ in honor of Bluesfest 😛

This place is a lot of yum. It’s a small hip vegan cafe boasting its raw-some brekky, smoothies, desserts and lunch. I love that it’s not only a cafe but a manifestation of the conscious living mindset. ?I would have loved to try the smoothie bowls here – there were a lot of good options. I just had a little power ball and a coffee, very yum

Byron Fresh

www.byronfresh.com

Go here with… a crew for a healthy brunch.

I visited this cafe a couple times on this trip and once on the last trip. It’s a nice place to go with a group. I tried to work from here for a bit one day and I’d say it’s more of a social cafe given its proximity to the beach. It’s not as chilled out as the other cafes, but that’s not saying much because this cafe still has some pretty chill vibes. I’ve had some egg-veggie dishes here and a paleo french toast – both were extremely YUM and left you feeling healthy.

Alas…

Two other cafes I was dying to try were Road House Cafe Bar, and Harvest (recommended by World of Wanderlust). So next time I’m there, I’ll be very busy hitting up old favourites and these new ones.

Also nothing beats a beach barbie (they do say barbie) so grab your mates and have one! ?

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The Perfect Trip to Byron Bay

On my way up to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse  On my way up to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse

Am I cliche for loving Byron Bay? I don’t know. Radiating friendliness and hippie vibes, this town nestled on the Northeast corner of New South Wales is full of barefoot wanderers and every other person is carrying a surfboard. Life revolves around the beach. There’s a seemingly universal emphasis on wellness, with plenty of smoothie-sippers and kombucha brewers hanging in the numerous cafes. Amazing jewellery artists and musicians share their talents on bright graffiti-covered laneways. The fashion and interior design scene is something to drool over (Spell + Hope & May anyone?). Plus, with all the fun locals and backpackers around, there’s a pretty fun but laid-back party scene.

Surfing. Beaches. Chill vibes. Cool design. Amazing live music. Smoothies + organic food galore. Fun parties.… Maybe it’s basic but I’m obsessed with this place.

I spent 3 days in Byron Bay a few months ago, and can confirm that was not enough time. So instead of going somewhere new for the 4-day Easter long weekend, I couldn’t resist returning to Byron to live my truth.

Now I have a great feel for things to do in Byron Bay. These are the highlights of my most recent trip and what I definitely recommend when you visit this magical place!

Hike Up to the Lighthouse

I suppose this is an obvious must! Byron has some great walks. You can do the Coastal walk from the Main Beach, past rock pools and up to the less-crowded Wategos Beach (about an hour leisure walk I think). From there you can continue on to check out the lighthouse. Millie (my travel buddy) and I did the walk in two parts – doing the Main Beach to Wategos one day, and then another day we parked our bikes at the Cape Byron car park and hiked up to the lighthouse (20 min walk each way). The latter of the hikes did include some hills but that was fine. The views were worth it.

Beaches + Surfing

Definitely grab a surfboard while you’re here, even if you’re a beginner! Everyone’s doing it. Or you can watch. Lots of surfing happens on the Main beach, and if you continue south from the Main Beach you’ll end up at the Pass. It’s a bit crowded but a blast.

Image from Common Ground Australia Image from Common Ground Australia Trying to cop a peek at the surfers at the Pass...forgot my swimmers... rookie mistake  Trying to cop a peek at the surfers at the Pass…forgot my swimmers… rookie mistake

One day I went with my friend Harley (who lives up here) out to Suffolk Park, and we hit up the beach there. I think this massive beach is better for more experienced surfers (the waves get pretty nice) but way less crowded if you want to practice in the whitewater. On the day we went it was so choppy and unforgiving and a bit big for me, so I spent most of my time floundering and trying to practice duck-diving and not succeeding. But it’s an amazing beach. Try to check out some beaches outside of town while you’re up here so you can experience how massive and beautiful the NSW coast is. You can have a large part of a world-class beach to yourself! Nuts.

Cafe Crawl

WOW after sampling just some of the amazing cafes in Byron, I am so ~inspired~ to get even more into knowing my ingredients and experimenting with new flavours. And being healthy AF.

I had to work remotely up here one day so I bopped around to a few of the cafes and had some amazing coffee, and even tried naturopathic cacao tea (wut) and it was great. Of course I sampled the acai scene as well. I could rave about a few of the places I visited, so I’ll do a separate post on my 5 favourite cafes in Byron Bay, plus a few other restaurants I’d check out. The food scene here is great.

I think I had the best brownie of my life up here. I had a pumpkin-lentil pie (these are savory pies in Australia), the most perfect beetroot salad…brekky done to perfection… paleo French toast… it’s amazing how great healthy food can taste.

All I can say is come hungry to Byron.

Rent Bikes + Visit the Farm

Speaking of coming hungry to Byron, a must-do is to rent bikes (or drive) and get out to the Farm, an 80-acre community hub, founded by the men behind Three Blue Ducks, one of the most beloved restaurants in Sydney. Here you get to “explore, eat and learn” – I think this blurb from The Weekender describes it well:

The Farm Byron Bay is exactly what it sounds like but with a twist – a fully functional working farm that fosters a community of growers, producers, eateries, educators and more. The property exudes a wonderful community vibe, with groups of children and adults alike wandering the paddocks with a sense of awe. From a growing perspective, the farm is all about sustainability – looking to traditional methods to grow its food, whilst remaining 100% spray and chemical free.

The Farm is simply lovely! Such a chilled-out vibe. The food, drinks and coffee are amazing (there’s gelato too). You can pick up some of your own fruits and veggies, and there’s a plant shop too. We wandered the farm and checked out the Macadamia trees. They have some nut-crackers out there so you can pick up some Macadamia nuts that have fallen from the trees and eat them on the spot. (I tried to rub one Macadamia nut through my hair thinking the Macadamia oil would seep into my hair strands but not sure that’s how it works.)

I geeked out over all the sustainable/local food stuff, with healthy ingredients and this-and-that. Everyone I know who has been to the Farm raves about it, so you should go.

Just Bike Around

Get a bike for at least a day just to discover stuff outside the main strip and beach of Byron. Byron is just a tad spread out but with a bike you can see everything! Of course bike to the Farm, and check out Folk Cafe (my fave) – just on the outskirts of town. You can quickly get to some of the local beaches and find some cool lookouts – I came across the Eric Wright lookout one day (on my way to getting an acai bowl no less) and got a great panoramic view of the hills in the background, all of Byron and the beach!

This place near the beach called Sunshine Electronic Bikes lets you rent their retro electric bikes for the day ($45/day. You pedal a little and then it activates solar electricity to propel you forward. It’s so fun to ride (some lovely boys let us try them ?) and it’s really nice for hills.

Image from Vallkree  Image from Vallkree

Hit up the markets / local shops

In general I’m a huge fan of Australia’s fashion scene, and Byron seems to be the inspiration for a lot of Australia’s prints, vintage looks, festival- and beach-wear. In addition to the awesome jewellery artists on the streets, it’s fun to pop in the vintage shops (there’s a Miss Brown shop up here) and maybe get a special piece (or three… I got excited). Just walking around window shopping is fun – you might not be able to afford most of it unless you’re not a backpacker but it’s great inspiration and cool to take it all in.

Denim jackets might not be for everyone after all Denim jackets might not be for everyone after all Lots of dream catcher inspo here  Lots of dream catcher inspo here Wanted to get this for my dad so bad...if it wasn't $70 Wanted to get this for my dad so bad…if it wasn’t $70 Vintage denim jackets on deck at Miss Brown's Vintage denim jackets on deck at Miss Brown’s

The Bluesfest was awesome because a lot of the popular market stands came to the festival, so you could shop in between sets. I got the moonstone ring I’ve been dreaming of (and for $24 instead of paying $150 for another one in Sydney I’ve been eyeing) and a necklace…and two other rings…and a bikini…and of course a t-shirt from the Bluesfest (inherited my dad’s weakness for a good ‘ol souvenir t-shirt).

Go to the Byron Bay Bluesfest! (or Splendour)

Australia has a talent for putting on legendary festivals, so when in Australia you should try to find one to attend. Millie and I went to the Byron Bay Bluesfest out at the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm for two of the five days, and it was one of the most amazing and unique festivals I’ve ever been to. It was also great to get out of Byron for a couple days and experience something different in this beautiful corner of the world.

The vibes are outrageously friendly – there’s families, friend groups of all ages (from 16 year-olds to 40 year-olds), grandparents with their foldable chairs parked in the back of the music tents, locals, people from all over the world, and Australians coming up for the weekend. Many people have been returning to this festival every year for over twenty years.

As I said there’s markets everywhere which brings some of the amazing Byron market stands right to the festival, so you can poke around between acts. I cleaned up pretty well… Jewellery, a $30 designer bikini and of course a commemorative Bluesfest t-shirt. Very exciting.

Image from Nomad's World Image from Nomad’s World

The aroma in the air was so yum. Food trucks with everything from festival food (elephant ear smell but no elephant ears, that’s not Aussie), to pizza to Mexican to Cajun to the Avocado Hut (hah) to a juice bar. Finding something to eat was always easy (and hard to avoid).

We met a lot of fun people in the beer tents. There’s one near each of the six stages so you’re taken care of. They also have a coffee tent in the middle of the festival that’s open late. I wasn’t the only one getting a soy flat white at 10:30pm.

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Me and my friend Harley who lives in Byron!  Me and my friend Harley who lives in Byron! Met a CUBS FAN here!!!  Met a CUBS FAN here!!!

One of the best parts of the festival was discovering new acts, while getting the chance to see some classics and some contemporary favourites. Here were my highlights:

  • Jimmy Buffet – knew he’d be fun but WOW he was so excited to be there and put on a great show
  • The Doobie Brothers – they rocked the house, put on an awesome show. It was so great to get to see them live
  • Trevor Hall – Trevor and his band brought the house down. I thought they’d be a really chill show but it was nuts, and each of the musicians had insane solos
  • Nahko and Medicine for the People – His violinist is incredible. Then Xavier Rudd (a Byron local) and Trevor Hall came out for the finale and it was magical
  • Buddy Guy – he can still shred. I love blues
  • The California Honeydrops – really fun band with brass instruments, a new discovery I’ll be looking up.
  • Bonnie Raitt – she’s still got it! She was a great performer and I hadn’t listened to a ton of her music before but really loved it
  • Little Georgia – a Aussie folk duo. The girl’s voice is absolutely insane. I listened to their Spotify album and was disappointed the girl isn’t actually featured as much on the album as she was live. They need to put her voice out there more, it’s so good.
  • The Lumineers – I am still a Lumineers fangirl. This was my third time seeing them and again they didn’t disappoint. They are awesome live!
  • The Soul Rebels – A New Orleans brass ensemble with a mix of jazz and hip hop and rock. They were so fun to watch. A new discovery!
  • Jake Shimabukuro – my favourite ukulele player in the world. He also guest-starred on many other shows we saw. Inspired to pick the uke back up again

Another big festival up in Byron Bay is Splendour in the Grass, which is held near the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. That one is more young-people but is raved about by all my Sydney and Byron friends, so if I can I’d like to go to that too 🙂

Camp

It stays decently warm up in Byron year-round, so definitely camp here! There’s tons of parks with everyone from families to couples to backpackers camping. It’s a very camp-friendly town. My favourite cafe was even situated right next to a big campground so everyone could hang there.

Image from Bluesfest Image from Bluesfest

Camping was built into the Bluesfest for us – luckily we were able to borrow a tent and set up a humble home. But some people are like professional Bluesfest-campers. Their setups were amazing, usually building a cool tent and living area off a campervan. We met a lot of other people who were also camping and could hang with them after the festival under the Southern Cross stars. ✨

Go Out in Byron

You’ll meet people from all over the world in Byron, so it’s worth going out. Of course the Bluesfest was a great time but some of my favourite times were hanging with the locals at the Railway Friendly Bar – that has to be my fave Byron pub (it’s my friend Harley’s too and he lives there). This bar has had live music playing here EVERY night for 25 years. And the music has been amazing every time – and people of all ages have a dance and lots of beers and happy times.

Image from Broken Head Holiday Park Image from Broken Head Holiday Park

I also enjoyed going to the Stone & Wood Brewery the last time I was here. Beach Hotel is an amazing pub on the beach, and Northies (The Northern) gets good and sloppy at night.

I hope I make it back here again soon, but if not soon I will again. I’m coming back to do all of the above, and to revisit my favourite friends and cafes and hopefully be better at surfing the waves next time ?

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? Views from the top of the Sydney Tower

This pic was the winner for me This pic was the winner for me

Going in to last weekend, I didn’t have many plans until Saturday evening. But of course the 24 hours after work on Friday ended up filled with unexpected activities.

First, myself and four others went for “one beer” to catch up after work on Friday. That turned into pretending we worked at a startup and going to an awesome startup party on a rooftop in Surry Hills. With a DJ and FREE booze! — Which is basically the most important thing when a case of sh*tty beer costs $55 here.

Then lucky me had to wake up at 6am the next day. But actually I was very lucky because a friend had a free ticket for a Nikon Masterclass at the top of the Sydney Tower, worth $300! I was able to borrow a fancy DSLR camera from my agency and I was ready to go. Thank God I took pictures because I was so tired I barely remember it.

JK, it was really cool.

FYI – the Sydney tower is that really tall building that looks like Seattle’s space needle.

Before being allowed to go out on the viewing deck, we had to put on these adorable blue onesies. Only four of us ended up going out on the deck (two were scared of the height, and one got vertigo when he got outside so he went back in) so we got some nice one-on-one time with the photography teacher.

It took me a few shots to remember the photography basics from my film days. I also learned a bit about shooting on a cloudy morning. The black and white photos added a very awesome mood to it. We even learned about bracketing (when you set the camera to take three photos in a row at different shutter speeds) so you can take the photo with the best lighting.

Looking out east towards the Pacific Ocean. Watson's Bay and Bondi are out that way Looking out east towards the Pacific Ocean. Watson’s Bay and Bondi are out that way

This was such a cool way to see the city, and helped me get my bearings a bit more. I love staring at maps and figuring out how all the areas were connected, and after seeing this I feel like I can really picture Sydney’s layout. It’s nice to finally wrap your head around another huge city (I really only had Chicago down before this). ?

That famous beautiful harbour, looking amazing even on a cloudy morning That famous beautiful harbour, looking amazing even on a cloudy morning

I experimented with zooming in a bit too. The below is looking over at Darling Harbour. I liked the movement of the boats in this, all going in different directions:

We were all taking photos at one point and suddenly the clear floor we were standing on made a loud noise and started moving outwards, so we were hanging over the city more. It startled the four of us taking the class ?  Must be a funny thing they do to all the visitors at the Sydney Tower.

Our instructor making fun of us when they moved the clear floors outwards Our instructor making fun of us when they moved the clear floors outwards

The more west you go in Sydney, the more industrial it gets. The image below actually isn’t too far west, but you can tell it’s a little more industrial already. I think the black and white makes this look like it could be from the early 1900s. The big white building is the famous Australian Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour.

It was fun to see the Westfield lettering up close too (Westfield is Sydney’s biggest shopping mall chain). The below is tied as one of my favourite pictures – must be the typography nerd in me.

The below is Hyde Park. It looks small from here but walking through the trees in the park down there is magnificent. But maybe that’s because I love trees so much.

I enjoyed creating frames that played with the patterns of the coast a bit, like in the below –

I also thought my shoes looked cool –

This below photo isn’t the best lighting but I thought it showed off a historic area of Sydney in detail so I wanted to share it.

In conclusion, I LOVE SYDNEY! ?

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Watching the Cubs Win and America Lose from the other side of the world

What an insane few weeks it has been in America. Talk about HIGHS and ⬇️ LOWS⬇️. With the Cubs trailblazing to our first World Series championship in ages and the nastiest Election coming to a brutal close, trust me, the whole world has been watching.

I’m grateful that my company set up a TV for our office to watch the events go down. But hey, it wasn’t just me glued to the TV for the most stressful 10 innings of the century and the most shocking presidential results on the planet. Being over here has opened my eyes even more to how powerful and influential the U.S. is.

Very stressful day at work here but very pleased with the results ☝? #flythew #gocubsgo ?⚾️✨

A photo posted by Emily Griffith (@emigriff) on

For most of my family and friends, the Cubs and the Election brought about many emotions and meaning. My mind has been racing the past few weeks. In some ways it has been so amazing and interesting to be in Australia for all this, and in some ways I feel I’m missing important moments at home. But I am grateful for this perspective and overall have a bright outlook on the future (even if the road is arduous).

PT 1. FLY THE W

Yeah, I know. I noticed that I was not in Wrigleyville raging my face off with my best friends when the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. I didn’t hear firsthand the roar of the crowd on Addison street and I wasn’t up til 4am ordering deep dish pizza after one of the best nights of my life. (but I also wasn’t puking in the office stalls at work the next day ??) Some might say this was not the best time to move to Australia. I mean yeah it would have been awesome to be in Wrigley for this (and I feared before leaving that I would be missing exactly this), but honestly, location didn’t affect the amazingness of watching that moment happen. The smile on Bryant’s face when he threw to Rizzo SWOOOOON half a second before the Cubs won (source: Business Insider)  half a second before the Cubs won (source: Business Insider) I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Instead of Wrigleyville with my best friends, this is how I witnessed baseball history on an 80 degree sunny Thursday workday in Sydney, Australia:

    • 1st – 3rd innings: Frantically checking the Guardian’s live updates of the game while sitting in an Australian Defence Force financial seminar outside of Sydney (one of my clients). There were people all around the world who must not have access to the live game checking this, so at least I wasn’t alone.

 

  • 4th – 6th innings: Kingston (my CEO) and I were driving back into the city after the seminar, so he streamed the game on his phone. It was actually super high-def and updated, so I got to properly watch the game here. I appreciated Kingston’s interest in this important game.

 

 

By the end of the 5th inning, I had to ask Kingston if he could drop me off at a sports bar to finish watching the game. I promised I would finish the hours of my work later but I had to be in an appropriate environment to let out my stress about this game (i.e. drink beer, scream and cry).

    • 7th – 10th (!!) innings: Kingston dropped me off at Cheers, a bar where some Americans, both Cubs and Indians fans, were apparently watching the game, according to an Americans-in-Sydney type of Facebook group. I didn’t even care if anyone was there but just needed the live game, beer, and room to pace and jump and flail according to the game.

 

 

I walked in to a packed (ok, not packed) bar of around 30 nervous, loud Cubs fans freaking out about the game. My people.

After the most intense three hours hugging and screaming and pacing and getting to know my new Cubs fan friends, I spent the hour after Kris Bryant threw the ball leaping into strangers arms, bawling with a few Chicagoans, taking turns calling home, crying some more, drinking beer and singing the Go Cubs Go song.

You literally could be one of the nasty cockroaches in my kitchen but if you were a Cubs fan we would have had the best time. And I might’ve kissed you.

Funny thing is, I surely celebrated that Cubs win with some people who are celebrating Trump’s win. ?

It’s so cool how a sport unifies people like that. Not just unifying people from different backgrounds and beliefs but I felt SO in touch with everyone at home (and Grandpa Lou up above ?), feeling the same feelings about the game and watching a dream come true. It made the world feel small and full of love and good things. 

[I will say, once celebrations in Sydney died down around 7pm and all my American friends were passed out, I was v v lonely for a couple hours because I was like HELLLOOO THE CUBS WON WHO WILL CELEBRATE THIS MOMENTOUS OCCASION but then I hung out with two of my best Aussie friends and the world was right again. Because the Cubs WON]

PT 2. DRUMPF

Haha, a newspaper in Aus Haha, a newspaper in Aus

I thought America was on a roll with the Cubs thing. This month, I was getting nervous leading up to Election Day (Wednesday for me). Yesterday kind of felt like an anxious Christmas! The vicious election would finally be over and we could get an official answer and get down to tackling the issues.

Woof. Watching the Election all day at work was shocking. A darkness slowly and literally crept over me (I biked home through a storm). It’s funny that something like a Cubs game unified so many, but this Election harshly divided our people.

As the Aussies would say, I am DEVO (devastated) about the results. ?

It’s scary. It’s real. My heart aches for those that don’t feel safe or wanted in the U.S. And for my own brother and others in the LGBTQ community. And for women and even for people uneducated enough to understand what they’ve chosen.

And for the PLANET. The Paris Agreement, the Clean Power Plan, spend on clean energy…all this progress I am terrified to lose. AAHHHH (P.S. pls watch Time To Choose)

But we’ve seen a lot (a LOT..) of positive bravery in the media the past couple days. I can’t stop reading/watching it honestly. It’s really cool to see everyone express their disappointment but courage to go on and fight this. (hoping everyone puts their tweets where their mouth is)

Today I even met up with my new American friend from NYC to grieve, eat sushi and get ready to take action. She’s already donated to causes she supports that are in danger of getting trampled by Trump. ?

No need to repeat everyone but I liked this instagrammer’s post:

I’ve been inspired to practice more fiercely and fight harder for everything I believe in. It’s comforting to know that of 18-25 year olds, only five or six states would have been Trump. Makes me excited for a brighter future.

But it’ll take work work work work work to get there. Being in Australia showed me that there is a real danger of losing our rep as one of the most powerful countries in the world. We set the example and the international agenda on a lot of issues, so it really makes me now, more than ever, grateful to be an American. I feel fully responsible to make sure we do the world right. Obama said in his interview with Bill Maher the other day:

“Our values and our ideals actually matter. We do a lot of good around the world. There are some things that we do that are either ineffective or imperfect, but there is a lot to be proud of”

— President Obama

There’s no need to for everyone bail on America (although visitors are welcome) and there’s no need for me to run home straight away.  Despair is not the answer. Let’s fight da good fight, all over the world ?

I will still happily fly the W and fly the American flag side by side (I actually do on my desk at work). I’m just ready to wake up, be a better person, and rep our country well here ? ✌️?

And here’s Bondi Beach on November 10, 2016, looking fresh as ever ?

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Drooling over Sydney's Fashion Scene

***When you accidentally spend $500 on clothes within your first few weeks of moving to a new country*** ?

But ok. It’s not entirely my fault. I mean it’s 100% my fault, but I have been extremely excited for the fashion in Sydney. Plus, the American dollar is worth more so it was technically only US$380.75 right??

I was saving money for so long, knowing that I would soon be delighted by window shopping in the city and strolling through markets by the beach. I LOVE Chi-town, but the Chicago fashion scene is not so much my style. Every time I visited my good friend in LA, she was entertained by me gawking and being overly enthusiastic about all the cool outfits I saw there.

As a result of my geography, this was my American shopping style: Buy nothing. Not even practical things (until I finally gave in and bought my first real purse in January…). But then anytime I saw something beachy/quirky yet appropriate for city-wearing, and quality but not overly expensive, I would just immediately capitalize on the rare clothing find and purchase it.

That method has not proved to work in Sydney, because about every ten feet (I mean meters, I need to get used to the metric system…) I see something that is extremely cool and quirky and quality and expensive and I must have it.

I really don’t like owning too much clothes but I also really enjoy finding a great piece to become part of my lil wardrobe. You should’ve seen how many bags of clothes I gave away before coming here! Even if it was cute, if I wouldn’t wear or buy it now, it had to go (to my sister. You’re welcome).

Once I realized that I’m not on a trip but I actually live here now, I started to calm down and slowly build my Sydney wardrobe, observing the fashion scene around me. How I’d describe it all for now:

  • Quality-beachy - lots of denim, really nice white t-shirts, pastels, unique patterns, interesting cuts, florals, and flowy tops/dresses.
  • Sporty chic - The athleisure trend has certainly taken the world by storm so of course in this active city it’s popular. Literally every person here owns a pair of Adidas sneakers and wears them all the time. I’m not kidding you-- Every. Single. Person. ?  I get compliments all the time on my shiny gold adidas slip ons. You can’t even tell they are adidas so I just think Australia/the world loves Adidas.
  • Quirky - I see a lot of people wearing really nice jeans and a t-shirt, but then add a really cool piece like crazy shoes or beautiful jewelery or funky sunnies or a nice hat. That kind of outfit would be easy to travel with, just mix up the small pieces!
  • A bit more casual than NYC or Chicago - every time I wear heels people are like OoOoOo. So I wear them a little less which is fine by my feet. But the black chunky heel boot is very popular. Particularly the Australian-made RM Williams boots...lots of girls have em, they are beautiful. Would love a pair ?   http://www.rmwilliams.com.au/

So I came here with two suitcases but who knows, might go back to Chicago with around seven…

But actually I am trying to break even on how much clothes I have (more on that later), so I'll be giving some away soon, look out for that :D

Here’s what I’ve bought so far! ?

  1. Some quality Wrangler jeans... wow you can make so many outfits when you have a pair of jeans that fit you!!

2. While I was on a denim kick, I got a wrangler black denim skirt... LOOK AT THAT POCKET DETAIL

3. Overalls! Prediction: An absurdly large proportion of women will own a pair of overalls by September 2017.

4. Got this up in Byron -- Minkpink is everywhere here. How fahn

5. I'm new to warehouse sales, which are apparently a thing in NYC and LA. One of Australia's nicer designers Shakuhachi had a sale just around the corner from my work. I got there right when it started at 8am and snagged these awesome baby pink real leather shorts. ?

6. More from the Shakuhachi sale. This top is beautiful on, you don't even need a necklace

7. Another Shakuhachi find ??

8. Some cool accessories from the Bondi Markets! Also, those little pom-poms on the bracelet are on everything now. Cool vibes

9. Okayyyy and a one-piece swimsuit. Couldn't resist. (it's ripcurl)

10. And of course a flower crown for the Melbourne Cup race day (most girls get a fascinator, but didn't suit my vibes)

But seriously I’m done shopping for now.*

*unless I see the most amazing piece that is so Emi G and then I might have to have it


3 Days in Byron Bay is Not Enough

A week into my life in Australia, my friend Anna invited me to fly up to Byron Bay for the long weekend (New South Wales celebrates their Labour Day the first weekend in October).  Byron Bay is brand itself now….an icon for hippie and surf culture. Amazing beaches, tasty food, my favorite kind of fashion ?  This is what I came to Australia for, so of course I went!!!

I thought three days would be plenty of time for a beach town and man was I wrong. I can see why so many Australians and people from around the world stop in their tracks and settle in Byron. Every step towards the airport was like walking down the plank. UGH I can’t wait to go back!!

So here’s what we did…

(at the end I made a list combining things I did and didn’t do that I would recommend for anyone going / this is what I’ll be doing the next time I’m there!)

Lots of beach chilling–a must. The surf was actually pretty dead while we were there but obviously surfing on any of the five main breaks at Byron is supposed to be awesome. Next time I go back hopefully I’ll be good enough to shred ?  The beach we went to above is Whites Beach–luckily we knew some locals and this is one of their favorite spots. We had to take a car up a winding dirt road for a while, and then a cool hike through trees to get down to the beach. Obviously chilling on the Byron beaches is a must while in Byron, but you should definitely look for one of the locals’ favorite spots because it’s cool to get away from the crowd too.

Most important part: WE SAW WHALES!!!!! This was my first time seeing whales ever. Someone was casually like “oh cool, a whale” and I flipped. Some of my crew said they enjoyed watching me see whales more than they enjoyed actually seeing whales. If you just picture me flailing and jumping and sprinting and being completed shocked and amazed, that’s about it. I almost want a little tattoo on my ankle of a whale because it was so exciting and I want to always be reminded of how magical that moment was ?  So now I am officially obsessed with whales.  And apparently seeing whales in Australia is a thing. COOOOL. I have officially realized I am in a place completely different from Chicago… ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Of course we hit up the party scene a bit! Labour Day weekend is also the Grand Final weekend for AFL (Australian Football League) AND for NRL (National Rugby League). Since Anna and I are of course huge Swannies fans we might’ve spent 6 or 7 hours our first day at the Beach Hotel, a massive bar on the beach. They put up extra screens for the game. It got pretty rowdy. Good thing we had the most AMAZING breakfast at the Bayleaf Cafe–could’ve been my favorite meal the whole trip (and that’s impressive) so I would definitely say hit it up.

For my friend Erin’s birthday, we had ‘breaky’ at Byron Fresh. Yummmm it’s all really delicious health food and amazing coffee and muffins. Really close to the beach too. Then it was a bit rainy that day so Erin and I did some shopping…cannot disclose how much money I spent but let’s just say my excitement about Australia’s fashion manifested itself in this day. Then we commenced the number one rainy day activity (drinking) at the Stone And Wood Brewery. This was super cool–their Pacific Ale is most popular and with good reason… After tasting a flight there we headed back near town to the newly renovated Byron Bay Brewery and then hit up Railway Friendly Bar which was probably my favorite (chill vibes, live music), and then back to the Beach Hotel for a boogie.

Ugh then I had to wake up at 6 and head to the airport to get back to work in Sydney. I know Sydney is supposed to be like a vacation for me but Byron just blew everything out of the water. Really got to do some of the Aussie things I came here for, so I can’t wait to go back ?

Checklist – Must Do’s While Visiting Byron Bay

  • EAT: Cafe scene is strong. Bayleaf Cafe, Byron Fresh and Cafe Byron are all in town and are very good. But if you have a car consult this article for other delish options.
  • DRINK: An ideal night would be Stone And Wood Brewery –> take a cab back in town for Railway Friendly Bar –> walk in town for a boogie at Beach Hotel. One of the Byron boys said he really likes the bar Woody’s too, sounds like it has a divey late-night bar vibe and sounds really fun!
  • DO: Bike out to The Farm and have coffee and/or a delicious meal. Hike up to the lighthouse for a magnificent view of Byron’s massive beach and then head down to the rocks to watch the surfers shred (and/or do some shredding yourself).
  • SHOP: Hit up the shops in town for cool clothes, art and gifts. If you really love fashion check out Spell Byron Bay. I’ve been following them on Insta for years and was bummed I didn’t get to check them out, but I will one day 🙂 Also if you time it right, the Byron Market is the first Sunday of every month. We were actually there for it but traded off for a beach day with the local boys (good decision) but I would LOVE to check them out.

What else should I do next time I’m in Byron???? Besides see more whales ?

More Aussie Travels

Moving vs Traveling: the big move to SYD!

Num one swannies fan ❤️? #afl #sydneyswans #sports

A photo posted by Emily Griffith (@emigriff) on

Whoa. Four weeks ago my world flipped upside down. ⤵️  On September 5th I traveled down under to catch the tail-end of Sydney’s ‘winter’ and start a new job at an integrated marketing agency (Now Comms Group, for those curious). I went from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean. Cubs baseball games to Sydney Swans footy games (Australian Football League - I am an avid Swans fan now). Living 2 hours from home and 2 minutes from 30+ friends to being 16+ hours ahead of most of my family and friends! ?

This all happened very fast. Emotional highs and lows but all-in-all it’s been super amazing so far. The first couple weeks were really hard, and the past couple weeks were not at all. Funny how things work like that. I felt things I’ve never felt before, but they were good feels to have. Moving somewhere far away is very different than traveling somewhere far away--The glamour and excitement are pushed aside to make room for the reality of figuring out a new life while a fun familiar life you once knew continues at home. To illustrate, here’s some thoughts that crossed my mind during the first few days of my Sydney life:

“I don’t think I’m cut out for this other side of the world thing”  

“WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!!!”

“This move has cost me so much $$ already. I could’ve built a nice base for my freelance business and joined Soho House and moved to California and all these things. I’m so close to my family and friends how could I leave them. This will be cool but is it worth it???”

“This is an indescribably sad feeling.”

Okay those depressing thoughts and then some all happened on the plane ride over ?

After finding my lovely house in Paddington, a neighborhood I sat in just 9 months ago looking around thinking ‘this is where I need to be’, I felt a little better. I still could’ve burst into tears any moment but I was, you know, at least slightly pleased to be in Sydney. I took a nice run to Bondi Beach, met my welcoming housemates Lachie, Maddie and Alec, and went to my fun agency in the ~trendy~ neighborhood Surry Hills to meet my team. I got a smoothie bowl (YES) and was able to Facetime my family and my boy Chris when I got my phone figured out. Knowing I could still laugh and share moments with my family and friends while being on the other side of the world was sooooo comforting. I guess I forgot that Facetime would be readily available while I was having my little freak-out.

The new place in 'Paddo' aka Paddington. This is a signature old house in Sydney with the New Orleans-esque porches and gates. Coooool! The new place in 'Paddo' aka Paddington. This is a signature old house in Sydney with the New Orleans-esque porches and gates. Coooool!

My first night in Sydney, a bunch of my friends who convinced me to move here happened to be having wine and dinner in their cool backyard. All things considered it was an awesome first day. But still super surreal. My head was a bit in the clouds that first week, just taking everything in. My friends, my job, Sydney...they was all so good to me. I mean, my first weekend I went to my first Swans game, a sweet music festival to see Flight Facilities in one of Sydney’s main parks, and then went with my friend up to a beach town the next day to relax and eat healthy foods and watch movies. ?

(not everything was perfect-- I discovered a massive cockroach in our kitchen and realized these are my new friends. Also it’s been in the 60’s up until the past week...a bit chilly eh?!)

As things started picking up at work, I slowly started assimilating to my new ‘normal.’ On my fourteenth day I had an off-day. I was slightly over having to adjust to everything. Sometimes you just want things to be familiar and easy. That day I felt very ‘meh’ about this ‘exciting’ expat life I’m leading.

BOOM- then suddenly the start of my third week here, I had a very social week with my work and with friends, and it went so fast. I got into the groove with my job and the gym and was joking with friends back home and making plans with friends here and blahblahblah I was having a blast!! A new thought: “Things are good. I made the right choice to move to Australia.”

My first Sydney sunset with my friend Anna up in Avalon, a beach town My first Sydney sunset with my friend Anna up in Avalon, a beach town

After my third week being amazing and fun, I had a moment where I felt really bad that I wasn’t constantly thinking of my life back home anymore, like I didn’t care about my family or friends as much. That’s not the case. I can still become a better Emily and have a great time without losing that. After all, what a waste it would be to have flown all the way to Australia on a sponsorship and not have a great time ?

My girl Mia at the start of an awesome weekend in Jervis Bay  My girl Mia at the start of an awesome weekend in Jervis Bay

We just had a long weekend (for the New South Wales’ Labour Day, Monday off!!) and I took a last-second trip up to the legendary Byron Bay with my friends Anna and Erin. You’d think for smallish beach town, three days would have been enough. But having to fly back to work was so sad. Beaches, delicious hippie food, amazing Aussie clothing (ooooh went on my first shopping spree oops) and the cool chilled out people up there. ?  Oh also I SAW MY FIRST WHALES EVER!! So many of them. The most exciting magical wonder I’ve ever seen. That’s the kind of experiences I want! It made me so excited to explore even more and continue getting to know my cool peeps here. And seeing more whales. ? ? ?

But a funny thought I had coming back today (after getting over the sadness of leaving Byron): “Stinks to leave but I’m excited to be back. I’ll get some more sleep and back into my gym routine and working on my website and flossing and starting to cook again (bc I literally can’t afford anything)” Like...I was thinking about all the things you think about in your normal life, when you’re at home. Finally the thoughts going through my head weren’t anymore “holy shit I LIVE HERE???? What am I doing?!?! This is cool!! Wait this is scary!!! Ahhh!"

I guess I have settled into my new normal a bit more. It’s not forever but good to feel settled for a minute. And don’t get me wrong, I still can’t believe I followed through with this and am living the dream in Sydney. The jury’s still out whether/not I’m cut out for this whole other side of the world thing, but I’d say my Aussie future is looking bright ? ?

Trees overlooking Bondi Beach. I LOVE Aussie trees <3 Trees overlooking Bondi Beach. I LOVE Aussie trees <3

Some of my new coworkers on double denim day Some of my new coworkers on double denim day Friends and flames Friends and flames pics from home :)  pics from home :)

Did anyone not see this coming ??

A photo posted by Emily Griffith (@emigriff) on

My new ride I found on gumtree, the Aussie version of Craiglist My new ride I found on gumtree, the Aussie version of Craiglist Ocean viewz Ocean viewz There's tons of pop up shops and cafes in Sydney which is kind of cool--get to try new things. This pop-up coffee shop was outside of my work for the first two weeks I was there.  There's tons of pop up shops and cafes in Sydney which is kind of cool--get to try new things. This pop-up coffee shop was outside of my work for the first two weeks I was there. Aussie trees <3 Aussie trees <3 on the new running trail on the new running trail