Three cool things

This week’s showcase of 3 cool and inspiring creative campaigns I came across from around the web:

3. Slow Down GPS – If Insurance

Once again, another genius idea coming from Sweden. And from that agency that now everyone knows for the famous “Epic Split” ad with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

This is the first ever Child voice navigation system.

The GPS switches to a child voice when in the vicinity of a school or childcare. So simple, yet brilliant. Hopefully all the major GPS manufacturers in the world will adopt this technology. So far, the feature is available in Sweden, Finland and Norway. And you can download the app for free in the App Store and on Google Play.


2. Air New Zealand’s new safety video – Men in Black

Air New Zealand are undoubtedly one of the most creative airlines in the whole world. And one of my favourite ones as well!

After the epic Hobbit safety video they are now back with another smart production where the main actors are their own All Black, yes… the real kiwi rugby heroes!

This is the proof that the best team in the world can perform on ANY stage.

‘They’re try-line defenders. They’re champion contenders. They’re the Men In Black.’


1. The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s new movie

Well, it’s only the trailer… but we are all already excited about it and counting down for Xmas.

The trailer has only been up on YouTube for less than 2 days, and it has already reached 7.5M views. Why am I not surprised?

Enjoy.

Three cool things

This week’s showcase – after a very very long break, ooops… sorry I was on the road for quite a while – of 3 cool and inspiring creative campaigns I came across from around the web:

3. Canon‘s Pixma printers

With this clever and super funny series of ads, Canon reminds us that is still cool to use a printer for our photos, maps, tickets…


2. Dancing traffic lights – Smart

Not sure how many more cars they sold with this ad at Smart, but the whole idea is pretty cool: it’s all about being disruptive, and creating a totally unexpected experience to people. In this case, red traffic light manikin starts dancing to make people wait and watch rather than walk through the red light. Watch the results at the end of the video: it worked!


1. Shark diving in the Australian desert – Samsung Gear VR

For the campaign, Samsung’s creative agency Leo Burnett Sydney teamed up with surf director Taylor Steele to capture underwater footage of great white sharks in South Australia. The footage resulted in a 360-degree film called The Dive, create specifically for Samsung Gear VR.

To celebrate the film, Samsung then opened a Dive Shop in Alice Springs (in the middle of the Australian desert, where not much happens and where there is not trace of water!), inviting locals to experience the shark drive using the Gear VR.

The result is pretty amazing, just by looking at people’s reaction to the immersive visual experience.

Weekend in Milan – not just the Expo

Today I will be flying to Europe from Sydney to see some good friends and family and simply to make the most of the European summer, which we all love, don’t we?!

First stop of my exciting trip will be Milan, city that I adore – unlike a lot of Italians, for some reasons – and city that gave me so much back in the 4 years I spent there. What I am sharing with you now is MY Milan’s weekend guide that I put together for first timers in the Italian fashion capital.

I can guarantee you that all the places I have listed below are still there, buzzy and active as usual! But I might add some more hidden gems after my visit, who knows… I might discover some new corners of town myself, and share them with you!

These activities will keep you so busy that you won’t have time to go to the Expo. In fact, there is so much more to Milan than the Expo these days.

THE EXPLORING BIT

Not sure what you are after, if more food, more shopping, more cultural events… but I will give you a mix of mi picks here.

Milan gives its best during spring (unfortunately it also gives you a lot of mosquitoes, but you can easily do something about it!), so walking is the best way to get around. I’d recommend you to start walking from Navigli (the famous canal district) to the city center and get pleasantly lost along the tiny streets and the nice canals. On the way to the Duomo (the main cathedral) you will pass through Corso di Porta Ticinese, which is a lovely street full of cafes, restaurants, bars and classy vintage shops.

At the end of Corso di Porta Ticinese just cross the road and you will hit the Colonne di San Lorenzo (Saint Laurence Columns), very characteristic as well, where young crowds of people hang out at night playing guitar, chatting, or drinking a beer and eating a bite on the go. Turn right after the columns and you are in Via Torino – again, more shopping, ice-cream places and cafes – which will lead you right in front of the Duomo. Getting in the Duomo is free, but what you can also do is walking to the top, where the little Saint Mary statue is, for a stunning view over the whole Milan, with the Dolomites all around. Milanese people call it ‘La Madunina’, and it’s the symbol of their city.

Once in the Duomo square you will be in the heart of Milan, and I simply suggest you to go with the flow and discover what the tiny streets around can offer. Which is a lot and very surprising, I find.

Here is some suggestions of where I’d go from the Duomo square:

Walking through the famous – and only recently restored – Vittorio Emanuele Gallery. At the end of it you will find the popular La Scala Theatre.

Take Corso Vittorio Emanuele – more shopping and celebrity spotting – and then turn left in Piazza San Babila (San Babila Square): you will be in Via Montenapoleone, the Chelsea of Milan. Not sure you will be able to afford anything there, but it is worth a visit. It is Milan fashion at his top. A classy icon.

Just behind the Gallery, hidden in a Via Santa Ranegonda, not far from The Scala, you’ll find the best ‘panzerotti’ place in the whole Milan: Luini is a bakery that has become an institution for all the locals. I warn you: queues here can be very long, but it will all be worth it for your fried or oven (my favourite!) panzerotto! Oh wait, what is a panzerotto? a mini calzone, in a nutshell.

Take via Dante – packed with elegant cafes – and you will have the Castle right in front of you. It’s called Castello Sforzesco – the Sforza family which once reigned in Milan lived in there – and it is situated in the most beautiful park of downtown Milan, Parco Sempione. Here is what you will find once inside the park:

  • you can visit the castle itself and walk through the part to the opposite side to see the Arco della Pace (Peace Arch): our own Arc de Triomphe;

  • the Modern Art Museum (called La Triennale di Milano) which never lets you down: great exhibitions, quirky cafe’, beautiful structure and outdoor space

The main museum is right in the Duomo Square, and it’s called Palazzo Reale (The Royal Palace). They always have great quality exhibitions on.

Brera_Milan_Italy_CuriousAbout

Absolutely go to Brera!!!! It’s one of the oldest – and wealthiest – parts of town and you can get there either from the end of Via Montenapoleone or from the Castle. The closest tube station is Lanza or Moscova. The Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Picture Gallery) is here, and it’s famous all over the world for its art school and its art collections. The streets you will have to look up on Google Map are a few, but Brera is so small that I am sure you will walk through most of them without the help of technology:

  • Via Palermo
  • Corso Garibaldi
  • Via Brera
  • Via dei Fiori Oscuri
  • Via dei Fiori Chiari
  • Via Solferino

10 Corso Como, Milan

Another part of town you will HAVE TO go to is Corso Como, again another icon of the fashionable side of Milan. The famous shop 10 Corso Como is where stylists from all over the world come to find inspiration. They also have a cafe area (sit back and enjoy a tea/coffee/wine in their garden), an exhibition area upstairs and an hotel with 3 rooms only, each with a different style.

Have a look at the website in the hyperlink, this is how the whole space is described:
‘Hidden in the heart of 10 Corso Como quiet courtyard behind
a discreet façade of gates and gardens, the garden café is surrounded by
a conservatory of lush perennial plants and seasonal flowers.
When not shopping or visiting 10 Corso Como various showcases,
one can stop to eat in the café restaurant and bar.
Designed to flow between the inside and the seasonal garden outside,
the café offers another aesthetic altogether.’
The best ways to get to Corso Como are walking from Brera (a beautiful short walk through Corso Garibaldi) or via tube (get off at Garibaldi FS).

THE FOOD AND DRINKS BIT

Milan is packed with some of the best restaurants and cocktail bars in Italy, which means you will rarely get disappointed by its food scene. I don’t have specific recommendations for food, but if all you have is a weekend, then head to Brera and Navigli for a treat, and for a great vibe and cool atmosphere. Avoid the Duomo area which tends to attract more tourists and be more expensive.

IN NAVIGLI:

Trattoria Toscana, Navigli, Milan

  •  Trattoria Toscana in Navigli (in Corso di Porta Ticinese): a must for the cool guys in town. Head there for the aperitivo time to capture the cool essence of Milan-by-night in the back courtyard.

  • Traditional pizzeria – which is also restaurant – right in the heart of the canals: La Magolfa. I always go there with my friends, it’s cheap, nothing fancy, amazing real Italian food and super authentic atmosphere (make sure you end your dinner with one of their amaros!).

  • On the main canal, this is one of the best places for the ‘Gnocco Fritto’, the typical Italian fried dumplings (mmmhhh…. delicious!!!): Osteria dello Gnocco Fritto.

IN BRERA:

Da Claudio Fishmonger and Restaurant, Milan

  • Princi: the best slices of pizzas in Italy! It’s not a place for dinner, as in it’s not a restaurant but this is a concept that Italians love: go for some pizza bites – and a cheeky beer – before proper dinner. There are a few around town, but the first – and most iconic ones – are the one in Brera (in Largo La Foppa, right in front of Moscova tube station, on the green line) and the one next to Corso Como (Piazza XXV Aprile, 5). Princi has also opened in Soho – London – now and and it’s always packed!

  • Da Claudio Fishmonger: this place is a normal fishmonger during the day, but then turns into a fashionable and classy aperitivo bar every evening! Go there for some fresh fish and a glass of prosecco before dinner (and for some amazing people watching and celebrity spotting…. and a lot of chatting over a drink of course!!!).

  • Osteria dei Poeti in 40 Corso Garibaldi. Hidden gem for a super authentic and elegant dinner option.

  • Aperitivo in Piazzale La Foppa (next to Princi and to the Moscova tube station): go to Radetzky for more people watching, good quality aperitivo and a glass of wine or a cocktail outside in the little square.


THE PRACTICAL BIT

FROM THE AIRPORT:
  • from MALPENSA: take the Malpensa Express, which is a train within the airport that will take you to Milano Cadorna. From there you can either get a taxi to your destination or jump on the tube.

  • from LINATE the best way is to get a taxi. If you want to spend a bit less you can get the shuttle bus service from Linate to Central Station and from there either the taxi or the tube to reach your final destination.

  • from ORIO AL SERIO: there is only one way, unfortunately and it does take ages… the shuttle bus service to Central…

THE TUBE:

Milan is not like London. There are only 3 tube lines and they take you pretty much everywhere in town. Or you can walk or cycle, which is muuuch better! Milan is small and all the main attractions are concentrated in a relatively small area. It is also a flat city, which makes it perfect for cycling around.

MetroMilan_CuriousAboutBlog

Milan, tube map

WHERE TO STAY:

Stay in one of these following areas so that you can easily walk or cycle everywhere within minutes. Regardless the area you pick, Aribnb is the way to go! You will then get to explore the city like a local and you will make the most of the beautiful Milanese people’s interior design (and trust me… they do know one thing or two about design there!).

Typical Courtyard in Navigli, Milan

  • Airbnb in Navigli (closest tubes: Romolo, S. Agostino and Porta Genova) where I am staying this weekend. This charming and well designed flat is situated in a casa di corte (courtyard house) which is typical of this area of Milan. If you are an Airbnb new user get a voucher on your first booking, by using this link.

  • Isola (closest tubes: Porta Garibaldi and Zara)

  • Brera (closest tubes: Lanza, Moscova, Porta Garibaldi)

  • Porta Romana (closest tubes: Crocetta and Porta Romana)

So I did well and kept my promise: no mention of the Expo in this blog post. We will all be too busy exploring the real Milan instead… the one that you only find in its streets, cafes and squares.

Now, let Milan entertain you!

Three cool things

This week’s showcase of 3 cool and inspiring creative campaigns I came across from around the web:

3. The IKEA Breakfast in Bed Café

IKEA_BedsAndCoffee_CuriousAbout

The brand new Ikea cafe is now serving breakfast in BED in the hipster borough of Shoreditch, London. The initiative is part of a marketing campaign to promote their bedding options, that’s why the IKEA Breakfast in Bed Café showcases how the Swedish brand can make their beds and bedrooms an oasis of serenity, whilst serving a typical Scandinavian breakfast.

The pop-up cafe will also feature relaxing music, sleep-inducing teas, and information about IKEA’s bedding options. According to a post on IKEA U.K.’s Facebook page, they allocated 64 people per sitting and guests were also assured of the cleanliness of the beds as the beddings will be changed each time.

THE CURIOSITY: the inspiration came after the retailer found 50% of people had never had breakfast in bed (I clearly fall in the other half!).

Curious to see more creative campaigns from IKEA? Have a look here.


2. 10 Years of YouTube Ads

You can now vote for your favourite YouTube ads of the last 10 years. Just head here and have your say.

In 2014, four of the top ten most-watched videos on YouTube were ads. As YouTube celebrate their tenth birthday, you can now review the greatest brand moments from the past decade and vote.

My vote went to Duvall Guillaume, an amazing creative agency from Belgium that I had the immense pleasure to meet at my time working at Google London.

And, of course, make sure you share your vote on your social networks using the hashtag #10YearsofYouTubeAds.


1. LEGO Dimensions

The new Lego spot is dedicated to all of us, kids who grew up watching (and re-watching all over again) ‘Back to the Future’. In the new ad, a very paranoid Doc Brown discovers a portal to the Lego world and worries about the space-time continuum (as you do, of course!).

Lego Dimensions will be launched in September on the main gaming consoles and will let fans use real-world toys in the virtual game world.

Three cool things

This week’s showcase of 3 cool and inspiring creative campaigns I came across from around the web:

3. Follow Your Nola – New Orleans Tourism Ads

The beauty of this series of ads is in the voiceover. These three TV spots all use the same voiceover script, but completely different characters and locations, to cleverly communicate the point that you can have all sorts of diverse experiences in the city.

The insight: New Orleans has an incredible range of experiences and attractions for people of all mindsets and interests.

The challenge: to bring this to life with stories that live up to the beauty and creative spirit of the city itself.

The result: an integrated campaign with digital at the core. The videos illustrate visitors’ top interests discovered through social listening; the mobile site showcases itineraries featured in the spots; social influencers bring their own NOLA trips to life online; display and mobile ads target the right people at the right time; and the events bring the NOLA experience to life across the country. Nailed.

‘Everyone’s NOLA is different. Follow yours.’

CREATIVE AGENCY: 360i

CLIENT: Tourism New Orleans

CAMPAIGN: Follow your NOLA


2. The Message from the Lungs

This is a bit of a dark one, literally. To help people quit smoking, BBDO Proximity Thailand wrote a message to smokers using an ink made from diseased lungs. The black ink was made from materials extracted from lungs donated after death by longtime smokers and it was distributed it at public events, which received a lot of PR.

The results? Increased signups in the foundation’s cessation program by 500% compared to the previous year.

CREATIVE AGENCY: BBDO Proximity Thailand

CLIENT: Thai Health Promotion Foundation

CAMPAIGN: The Message from the Lungs


1. Lily – a new kind of Drone

Lily is the the drone that you can throw up in the air or into the water, and it catches and orients itself. Then it follows you, always keeping the camera focused on you. Now we don’t have to be professional film-makers to create cinematic footages. Lily is waterproof, ultra-portable, and shoots stunning HD pictures and videos.

The real question is: can we Periscope or Meerkat from it yet? I’m sure developers will figure it out soon!

Pre-order Lily here.

Branden Harvey: the photographer who is using social media for good

This is Branden Harvey.

Branden Harvey is pretty much a modern-day superman. He is young (’20-something’ he claims). And he is armed only with his camera and the words in his head.

He goes out there to tell stories and shoot photos for brands, dreamers and world changers.

Forget about pictures of beautiful cakes, perfect raw recipes, and superficial fashion shots on your Instagram feed. Here we are talking about real people, about the hope in African women’s eyes, about mothers and children united to change the world.

Branden works with nonprofit organisations that pay him to travel to Africa (mainly) and to amplify their work using his social network. This way, Branden is left free to tell the story in his own way (and images), with his own words, which makes this approach much more powerful than normal PR.

One of his latest projects is with These Numbers Have Faces, a nonprofit organisation that takes the best and brightest students from Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa and helps put them through school.

But the young Oregon-based story teller also writes about other topics: places, love, relationships, portraits… all equally inspiring projects. Read them about them here.

He has even started an official hashtag on Instagram that is very popular among users, those being professional photographers or not (just like me and you): #storyportrait. So far over 31,000 photos have been submitted to the #storyportrait tag, which Branden created to encourage people to ‘share the stories of the people in your life. Authentically. Genuinely. Lovingly.’

Mashable has recently defined him ‘The Instagrammer who’s on a mission to change the world, one picture at a time’, which is the article that inspired me to write this blog post. Plus, being myself an absolute lover of Africa and its people, I really could not resist.

From today, my Instagram feed has a new look. Thank you for the inspiration, Branden.


BRANDEN HARVEY ON SOCIAL:

Twitter @BrandenHarvey

Instagram brandenharvey: join me and other 101k followers!

Snapchat ‘brandenharvey’: Branden creates daily Snapchat stories that are seen by thousands of people all over the world. He’s created Snapchat stories in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Dubai and the latest one from the White House.

Facebook Branden Harvey

My selection of the best free travel apps

This post could be the longest one on my blog, but I will keep it nice and short and just share with you my favourite travel apps that I actually use on a weekly basis – which is pretty much how often I travel. For some of them, I also share some vouchers that you can use straight away to get a discount on your first booking!

Those are the basics you should absolutely have on your phone/tablet if you – like me – live constantly on the road… or if you like giving a real shape to your day-dreaming! Plus, they are free.

WHY TRAVEL APPS?

Because they will all equally inspire you to escape, to leave your comfort zone and book those plane tickets or a place to stay at your next destination.


UBER

Uber_App_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: Although you need a Wifi connection to use this service, Uber is a great way to navigate a country that is not known for trustworthy transportation options. Check out the cities that the app is available here and see if you can use it for your upcoming vacation. Editor tip- a lot of international airports now feature free Wifi, so this could be a great way to secure a ride from the airport, without having to wait in a long line or risk being hustled upon arrival.

ELEVATOR PITCH: ‘Your ride, on demand.’

VOUCHER: download the app here and use this promo code to get a discount on your first ride: zocu9.


HOTEL QUICKLY

HotelQuickly_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: This app will help you book a last-minute hotel in case you missed a flight, stayed out too late, or want a staycation in your own city. At discounted rates! I use it a lot when I need a place to stay on the same day or for the following night. Their selection of luxurious hotels – as well some 3 stars hotels – is great. I recently stayed at the Tryp Hotel in Brisbane, which was super quirky and located in a very vibrant part of town, with the most amazing roof top bar! Bonus.

ELEVATOR PITCH: ‘The best 3 to 5 star hotels, available on average 28% cheaper!’

VOUCHER: download the free app here and get a $30 voucher that you can use straight away at your first booking using the code PPICC.


AIRBNB

Airbnb_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: Airbnb is by far my favourite way of travelling and experience local cultures. If you haven’t Airbnbed before, I can guarantee that once you start, you will be hooked! They were the first one to play a role in the sharing economy, where people just open up their properties (the entire place or just a room) to perfect strangers. It is cool. And much more personal than a dry hotel. You will get to know what the local area really offers, where the locals go, and the properties on the site are stunning! Worth a try, in any country you live/travel in.

ELEVATOR PITCH: ‘Belong Anywhere’

VOUCHER: create an account for free and use this link to get AU$31 voucher on your first Airbnb booking.


WOTIF

Wotif_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: Wotif will be one of your favourite apps if you are a frequent traveller. It is easy to use, it makes easy to compare the prices of the hotel deals. And after booking, you can view past, current and future confirmations as well as present your booking confirmation from your iPhone on check-in. You can even use the ‘near me’ or near a landmark option if you want to stay near a specific attraction. Little gem.

ELEVATOR PITCH: ‘We believe that travel changes lives, and that exploring the world should be simple and accessible to everyone’


TROVER

Trover_App_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: Dubbed “the baby of Instagram and Trip Advisor”, this app encourages users to upload photos and then submit recommendations for those spots. That being said, as with any crowd sourced application or service, the information is not necessarily 100% accurate. So before quoting Trover facts, check the old fashioned guidebook.

ELEVATOR PITCH: ‘Join fellow travellers and share your stories’


SKYSCANNER

Skyscanner_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: A super easy-to-use flight-booking app on all your devices. Skyscanner does everything you’d ever need it to: aggregating fares from airlines all in one place and giving you the best deal. Skyscanner helps you find the best flights based on your budget and schedule by scanning millions of flights from more than 500 airlines around the world and comparing their prices. If all you are looking for is a bit of inspiration, then my favourite search is: FROM any destination TO EVERYWHERE to see the cheapest options! No jokes, this option really does exist in the drop down menu. Pure genius.


INSTAGRAM

Instagram_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: This popular social media platform just surpassed the 300 million user mark, which means there are a lot of jealous eyeballs to gaze at the stunning photos of your travels (and food, of course!). I also use this app as a source of inspiration, as a lot of travel bloggers and tourism brands showcase their adventures on Instagram. Watch this space for my list of best travel Instagrammers to follow!

ELEVATOR PITCH: ‘A fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures’


XE CURRENCY

XEcurrency_CuriousAbout

SIMPLY PUT: XE Currency helps you track exchange rates so that you’re aware of how much money you’re shelling out for all your travel expenses. This app covers virtually every currency in the world and lets you monitor exchange rates for up to 10 currencies, which should be more than enough for any moment during your trip. XE Currency keeps track of all currencies you monitor so that you still get updated exchange rates for these currencies even when you’re offline.

Three cool things

This week’s showcase of 3 cool and inspiring creative campaigns I came across from around the web:

3. Unforgettable Post-it Proposal

Probably the most uplifting advert for stationery ever:


2. Lisbon crowdsources new ways of seeing the Portuguese city

This is dedicated to Lisbon, one of my favourite cities in the world. For a lot of reasons: its people, its beaches and narrow streets, its delicious pastel de nata and bacalao (and ridiculously huge portions!), its music and its literature talents: I grew up reading Jose Saramago and Fernando Pessoa’s books, and they shaped the way I think and act today.

The Portuguese capital has 16 official viewpoints that people can visit to get a better glimpse of their beautiful city.

Now, with the help of Leo Burnett Lisbon, Lisbon City Council has released a video which challenges people to increase the count by revealing their own hidden spots among the seven hills and narrow streets.

Viewers are directed to a designated webpage where they are invited to share their own personal snaps, or adopt the hashtag #LXup to document their hidden viewpoints on Instagram.

Visit the website here. And if you are in Lisbon, share your favourite view spot with the community!


1. Anti-Littering Campaign Put Faces on Ads

This one-of-a-kind anti-littering campaign uses DNA to identify litterbugs in Hong Kong and put their faces on ads.

The campaign is from Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong and it’s interactive and innovative. They are using this science experiment to create social change. Litter is such a major problem in Hong Kong, and thanks to technology, it’s possible now to put a face to this anonymous crime and get people to think twice about littering. Let’s hope so.

My Sydney – how much can you fit in Holt Street?

Holt Street is the lovely street I live (and work) in.

It’s a tiny one, in the heart of Surry Hills – the Farringdon of Sydney, I like to think –  and it is packed with great cafes, amazing restaurants and a wine bar. If you fancy a valid alternative to busy Crown Street, then head up to little Holt.

You will find an array of buzzy places and a great selection of cuisines and drinks that will not disappoint you. And you will want to come back. Again and again.

Welcome to my Holt Street:

Vini – Italian restaurant

ViniRestaurant_HoltStreet_CuriousAbout_Sydney

Vini restaurant, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

Tiny, simple and classy, Vini has captured the essence of Sydney’s new found love affair with trattorias, enotecas and osterias. And it makes me feel like I am back in Milan again!

THE CURIOSITY: Tuesday at Vini is regional night. Chef Stephen creates a four course set menu of typical, classic, seasonal and sometimes unusual foods from a different region of Italy. Four courses $55. Wines are sourced from the region to accompany the food.


121BC – Italian wine bar

121BC_HoltStreet_CuriousAbout_Sydney

121BC, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

Imagine a room with delicate lighting and just a long wooden table. This is 121BC. This hyper tiny but super elegant wine bar is my local favourite for a superb glass of wine with friend before dinner. It’s perfect for my beloved aperitivo time! Once again, I am brought back to classy Milan! 121BC only seats 25 people on its long communal table and it does not accept bookings. It serves small truly traditional and delicious dishes and it also features an ‘enoteca’, with a rich selection of wines for you to buy and enjoy elsewhere.

THE CURIOSITY – 121BC is from the same owner of two other Italian favourites: Vini and Berta, both in Surry Hills as well. And they also recently opened a new 121BC wine bar in Hong Kong, check their website here.


Muum Maam – Thai restaurant

MuumMaam_HoltStreet_CuriousAbout_Sydney

Muum Maam, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

The ambience of this Thai restaurant is very ‘Surry Hills’ style with long communal wooden tables, brightly painted walls, and exposed light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. All your Thai favourites are on the menu, as well as a selection of house specialities such as five crab and prawn rice net spring roll and san jan pad Thai noodles. Great services and vibrant atmosphere too. By day, the street style Tuk Shop serves quick and delicious meals from the cart. By night, Muum Maam serves classic Thai cuisine in a relaxed, cool environment.

THE CURIOSITY: Named after the Thai slang for ‘little glutton’.


Di Bella cafe

DiBellaCafe_HoltStreet_CuriousAbout_Sydney

Di Bella cafe, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

This Sicilian owned cafe is more than just a coffee place. It’s a roasting warehouse which serves generous breakfasts and delicious lunches. Only open for breakfast and lunch, all the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. And – most importantly – they come with a hint of Mediterranean flavour, thanks to the truly Southern Italian chef. For lunch try one of their risottos or pasta dishes (orecchiette is my favourite pasta there), and for breakfast try their banana bread and ricotta cakes.

THE CURIOSITY: this modern vibrant cafe serves aromatic coffees from their own hand selected blended beans; roasting them right on the premises. You cannot miss the big roasting machine, which prominently sits in the centre of the cafe,


Citta

Citta_HoltStreet_CuriousAbout_Sydney

Citta, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

A tiny hole in Holt Street, literally four tables inside, three more on the sidewalk. Città doesn’t have a menu, just a glass-fronted refrigerator full of food. Choose something from the fridge, and the guys will cook it for you – toasted sandwiches, spaghetti, ravioli, pasta and meatballs, anything. This super tiny cafe’ is pumping Mon-Fri and the buzz is great. With all the creative and media agencies in the area and the Asos and News Corp office in the same street, it ‘s the favourite of a lot of employees.

THE CURIOSITY: The barista knows most people’s names and will welcome you with a G’day!


Movida – Spanish tapas

Movida Surry Hills Sydney

Movida, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

Movida is the perfect place where you want to go early (I live next door and it is always – always – busy!) and stay long. For someone who travelled extensively around Spain like me, the tapas are very authentic and won’t disappoint your picky palate. Service is excellent, very buzzy and plenty of good vibes. Match your tapas with some Spanish wine and don’t think about your wallet: you will have a good time!

THE CURIOSITY: This is the fourth addition to the Movida family around Australia: there’s Movida in Melbourne, Movida Next Door, Movida Aqui, Movida at the Airport and they all serve great quality Spanish tapas.


… THE LATEST NEW ENTRIES ON HOLT!

Cafe’ e cucina – Napoli style cafe 

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Cafe’ & Cucina, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

This cafe has only been open for a matter of weeks right in front of my office – News Corp – and my colleagues are already in love with its Napoli-style cakes, lasagne, sandwiches and coffee. I go there for their fresh cold pressed juices and their cannelloni. Top notch!

THE CURIOSITY: this cafe’ has been selected as one of the 10 best Sydney lunches for $10 or less. “Cafe’ & Cucina” means both “Coffee & Kitchen” and “Coffee & Cuisine” in English, but I agree with the owner that it does sound much more poetic in my language, Italian!


Mama’s Buoi – Vietnamese restaurant

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Mama’s Buoi, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney

Mama’s Buoi seeks to emulate the flavour, soul and communal spirit of eating in Vietnam. The restaurant’s crew encourages guests to ‘eat the food like a family’. Mama’s Buoi’s specials are quirky and can get messy and you are more than welcome to make use of your fingers. The Mama’s Buoi philosophy is reflected in the warm and welcoming interior and cosy courtyard at the back. A big graphic reads “ME KHONG” on the wall, and family photos adorn the place and line the menus. Greenery, including herbs used to cook by the chef, thrive on windowsills.

THE CURIOSITY: Sydney’s head chef, Tiw Rakarin uses fresh produce daily. With no cool room, raw ingredients are broken down every morning. Long, slow cooking – six to seven hours each day – provides the pho’s flavour without needing additives.


OK, BUT WHERE IS HOLT STREET?

Buon appetito!

BluesFest 2015 – Byron Bay, Australia

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BluesFest 2015, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

If you are a blues and roots fan – and if you live in Australia – then you know that BluesFest in Byron Bay is the place to be at Easter. Which is exactly where I was this year.

And it was epic. And big. And diverse. And not that wet after all, if you are used to music festivals in the UK.

Director Peter Noble said: “It seems like we just had our second-biggest festival ever”. And I am so happy to have been part of such an exciting live event with the most amazing line-up. Right there, for my senses to enjoy.

Waking up in Byron Bay every day made it even more special. But I will tell you more about what a special place that is in another post, coming soon. Let’s talk music now.


THE BLUESFEST 2015 IN NUMBERS

  • this was the 26th edition
  • 5 days worth of live music
  • 89 bands
  • 908 artists + their tour party members
  • 105,000+ revellers

BUT WHAT MAKES THE BLUESFEST SO SUCCESSFUL? (aka why you should absolutely go next year)

Despite headliners Lenny Kravitz, The Black Keys and Ben Howard pulling out of this year’s Bluesfest, crowds (and myself!!) still braved the rainy conditions and got into the spirit of the festival. At anyone’s eyes, it was a successful event, and with such a diverse line-up, it’s not hard to see what brought me – as well as so many other people – through the gates this year.

There is something that BluesFest does very well, I find: it does put together in one place a varied and exciting mix of musicians that you will hardly find anywhere else in the world. And it offers up the prospect of musical discovery, so valued by curious ears like mine. The result is a real music-loving crowd and their respect for the artists, young and old ones.


MY HIGHLIGHTS

PAOLO NUTINI

Paolo Nutini’s soulful set was a real treat, his salty smooth vocals and epic range received much devotion from the crowd. His new album ‘Caustic Love’ is clearly the work of a maturing singer-songwriter. And it’s an amazing piece of work. Caustic Love has received rare reviews and has gained him a fixture in the Top 20 of the BBC ALBUM CHARTS since its release 25 weeks ago. Unmissable.


BAND OF SKULLS

The Southampton rock trio’s third album ‘Himalayan’ has a confidence that reflects a band who have honed and refined their own sound through relentless touring and playing to audiences of artists like Muse and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Deliciously evocative.


BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS

Ben Harper, a BluesFest institution (this festival launched his career, back in the late ’90s), reunited with The Innocent Criminals after seven years. They received quite negative reviews accusing them of a lack of excitement. True, Ben was not really engaging with the crowd this time. But he was there to play his amazing music, and he gave us the old songs we were all waiting for. And ‘With My Own Two Hands’ was one of those we all sang along. He played for 2.15 hours no stop – no stop – without ever drinking a glass of water – and it was hot, and it was humid. I was there in the first row and I saw a very concentrated musician, who was keen to play as many songs as possible. For the 5th time in a row, I loved him and he didn’t let me down. Respect.


GARY CLARK JR.

The festival’s standout act. If one act captured the essence of this year’s BluesFest, it was Clark Jr. His energy and stage presence saw him perform less of a musical set and more a communal ritual channeling the spirits of greats like Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix. Talent.


KEZIAH JONES

Keziah was born among the ghettos and skyscrapers of bustling Lagos, Nigeria, and ended up busking in the London tube – I can’t believe I missed his talent when I was living in London! His performance was a fusion of raw Blues and Punk Funk attitude crossed with yoruba rhythms. He also has his own YouTube channel where he has a whole series of ‘Guitar Lessons’… in case you want to learn his cords from him directly! A slice of pure Africa.


RODRIGO Y GABRIELA

One of those rare acts who left me open-mouthed in awe, as I was witnessing live two of the most talented guitarists on the planet. Playing together for over fifteen years, Rodrigo Sanches and Gabriela Quintero brought on stage their unique instrumental blend of Rumba Flamenca including elements of Rock, Metal, Jazz and World music. Timeless music.


HOZIER

Irish musician Hozier was an utter delight, with his entrance met with wild applause from the Crossroads tent. His ht single ‘Take me to Church’ was a clear favourite, but we truly loved every song. I found amazing his confidence on stage: hard to believe he is only 24. One to watch.


WHERE IS IT?

Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Very efficient shuttle buses will take you there from Byron Bay, in just 20 minutes.


2016 DATES

From Thursday 24th of March to Monday 28th of March

And you can already get your tickets! Click here.

The excitement continues…