A Solo Traveller’s Love Letter to Bali

A Solo Traveller’s Love Letter to Bali

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Traveler or traveller? It might just be me but the double L sounds much more sophisticated. As most British-English words do.

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One week in Bali, my first solo trip and my first Christmas spent away from my family and my hometown. Solo travel feels like a kaleidoscope. It takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from the second you buy the plane ticket to the moment you’re back in your apartment at home. To preface my experience in Bali, I will be publishing (holding myself accountable by putting it into writing) three posts on my trip. The first, which you are currently reading, will be the honest and heartfelt love letter to my trip. The next post will be a Bali Travel Guide and the final post will be a reflection in about a month on how my perspective has changed since being home.

I believe that everyone (women, especially) should take a solo trip. Whether it be a weekend away or across the globe. Not only do you feel like the strongest and most resilient version of yourself, but you also begin to see what truly makes you the happiest. It can be really hard! Or it can be a complete walk in the park. Or both.

Arriving in Bali was electric. From the second you get off the plane you are thrown into a world so full of energy that it blows you away, literally. The second I walked off the plane, crossing the threshold, my straw hat blew right off my head and went straight in the direction of the plane engine. My new hat, it was one of those hats that feels as if it was created just for your head. Measured and tailored specifically for that awkward shaped head of yours, that you’ll probably never find again. Well, that perfect hat was flying straight for the jaws of the plane engine. The hat survived and no plane engines were hurt in the writing of this post. But it was surely an entrance. Welcome to Bali!

The country itself is a dream. A spiritual haven full of beautiful food, people and history. The first half of my trip was everything I had wanted it to be, a gorgeous Airbnb, delicious food and spa appointments every day. Bali is very affordable, safe and relaxing, if you allow it to be. I was hyper aware and followed nearly every rule given to me about avoiding the treacherous bali belly, food poisoning, that was given this cheeky name since more than half of the tourists get it. It’s basically unavoidable so I knew it would happen at some point. Being sick in a foreign country was something I had not prepared for. Not because I was worried I would never get better or there were no hospitals, but because it really shakes you awake to the idea that you are so far out of your comfort zone and the sickness drains all the energy you have towards making sure it’s the trip of a lifetime. It was really hard and I felt really alone. Bali let me feel this way but the sun would rise every morning asking, very politely, if it could show me more of what the country had to offer. It didn’t swallow me whole, it silently waited for me every day to feel a little bit stronger and more comfortable with myself and welcomed me back to paradise. My first solo trip was much harder than I ever imagined, but I couldn’t think of a more incredible place to feel lonely.

Day 4. I bought a journal that was made of recycled paper with “Bali with Gratitude” on the cover. I bought the journal halfway through the trip because I figured if I was having all of these emotions I should try writing them down. I decided to give journaling a chance! I was feeling more healthy and I was finally in Ubud. Ubud was a spiritual oasis among the mountains and jungle. It was Christmas day when I bought the journal, I was aching to be home for the holidays with my family. But I had chosen to travel the world! I was lucky enough to do so, I had to enjoy it as much as possible. It could have been the pressure I was putting on myself to enjoy it that ultimately made it the most difficult. Ultimately, I was in Bali and I was full of gratitude to be there in the first place. That’s why I bought this journal specifically. I was feeling happier and excited that I got the chance to be revived emotionally in this beautiful part of the world. Ready to start my first journal! But I didn’t have a pen.

Two days later, still no pen. I was finally ready to open up to the beautiful pages of this book but didn’t have the tool to even put the words on the page! Nobody had an extra pen, not the Airbnb host, not the pharmacy, there was no stationary store to buy a pen. Where did the Balinese people go to buy their PENS!? Finally, when I was lured into the only French Bistro in Ubud, feeling back in my comfort zone amongst French jazz, walls lined with wine bottles and French Onion soup, they had an extra pen! YES! A good pen too. There was something grounding about being in my comfort zone again. Funny, that my comfort zone involves Côtes du Rhône red wine and a menu that includes Croque Madame.

So what did I write in my new journal that I had been waiting so anxiously to write in? I wrote an apology to Bali. I was apologizing for trying to take my first solo trip during the holidays, pushing my limits and emotional capacity. I was in my dream destination and I was sad, it felt so wrong! It wasn’t personal, it wasn’t Bali. Trying to force a solo trip during the time of year that you want to be surrounded by your loved ones was harder than I ever imagined. I realized that being home for these moments was priceless, it was worth more than your dream destination. I learned my lesson. But I was still sorry, sorry I had to realize these things on a trip I had been waiting for since I first watched Eat Pray Love. I had idolized Julia Roberts strength and resilience to be able to see the world solo. It’s also a film adaptation, it doesn’t show the moments of solo travel that are the hardest.

The most incredible part about solo travel is being able to feel sad and having the ability to pull yourself together, slap on sunscreen and your perfect sun hat and continue exploring. Anxiety and fears aside, you are alone for a week and you still get up every morning and enjoy the island crafted coffee, get on the scooter and tour the country that ends up being more beautiful than you every imagined. I asked Bali for forgiveness.

Dear Bali,

It isn’t personal. I’m just not the travel alone during the holidays and summer Christmas kind of girl. I think I need a solo trip during a time where I won’t feel so lost without my family and traditions. I don’t want to be the only person who says Merry Christmas. I want to wear a sweater and feel a wind chill when I walk outside finding warmth in a glass of red wine. Comfortable and accompanied by the people that I love the most. Please forgive me?

From Dria, with love. 

The day after I wrote this. I woke up to a morning that was singing with forgiveness. I asked and what I received was more than I ever imagined.  The island opened it’s heart to me. The ‘Island of the Gods’ knew exactly how to respond. The best was yet to come, the low points were about to feel like a distant history. My last day in Bali was a cultural tour, it was raining and the island came to life. It was a tropical storm of beauty. From temple to temple, I became more aware of how much life this island had to give. I was full of happiness to be able to not only witness the preservation of such beautiful history and culture, but to feel a part of the legacy and purity of the Balinese culture. I asked for forgiveness and I got a letter in return. A letter without words and with just a feeling of comfort and acceptance.

Instead of an apology, now I’m writing a love letter to Bali. Thank you for your beauty and forgiveness. I can’t wait to come back.

What’s your dream solo destination?

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Wandering to Perth, Western Australia! American Working in the Australian Wine Industry

Wandering to Perth, Western Australia! American Working in the Australian Wine Industry

I must really be taking this whole “wander” for wine thing seriously. Yesterday I wandered (with a job & visa) to one of the furthest wine destinations from my home. Say hello to Perth’s newest expat!! Australia is not all shiraz and sunshine! Western Australia is the home of some of the most noteworthy and consistent maritime climates in the world for wine. Vineyards in Margaret River, about three hours south of Perth on the southwestern coast represent the largest winemaking region in WA. Producing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and other classic Australian varietals.

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Source: The Western Australian

After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture & Enology, I had explored aspects of the wine industry that allowed me to chisel my own marble sculpture of a career that I ideally wanted. While loving the technical and hands on aspect of heading into the cellar, I found that my interests and passions in the industry were more focused on the marketing and business development side. If you can’t tell by now, I love wine. But what I love more is the experience that wine creates across generations and continents. It’s the universal language that can be easily understood and enjoyed without a translator. The experience that the wine industry provides for it’s consumers creates an achievable life of luxury with every bottle.

I started to explore jobs in California and New York within the business side of the industry. What I found was different strong holds in both regions.

New York: Small concentration of production, massive distribution and import job opportunities, many sales jobs in Manhattan.

Los Angeles: Large quantity of production jobs, sales jobs with large wine distributors and many wine service jobs.

I was applying and interviewing and found that I was turning down opportunities because they didn’t feel like the stepping stone I was looking for. So I looked further (apparently as far as possible).

I’ve been in LOVE with Vasse Felix in Margaret River ever since I started my education in wine. They embody traditional winemaking while targeting a global audience. With impeccable marketing strategy, a vineyard in one of the most beautiful places on earth and an international mindset, they have pioneered a small part of the world into the hearts and cellars of wine drinkers around the world. They are sharing wine paradise with the world, and I AM SOLD.

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Vasse Felix Estate. Source: Winedering

Starting November 1st (ha yes, the one tomorrow) I will be starting a six month internship in the Sales and Marketing department of Vasse Felix based in Perth, WA. It’s not common for companies in Australia to offer internships, but based on the visa options, it works out the best for this position. The work holiday visa only allows you to work for the same company for 6 months of the 12 month visa. Extending your visa includes farm work or company sponsorship.

Vasse Felix was not hiring or looking for a UCD grad living in Los Angeles, but I bought Linkedin premium and started reaching out to the company in February. I wasn’t (consciously) looking for a job, but I wanted to understand the company and get advice on how to navigate the business side of wine. It took about six months to finalize an offer and LOTS of follow up emails, but I knew from the first Skype call that I wanted Vasse Felix to be the Mr. Miagi of my Karate Kid career.

Lesson? Sometimes looking for a job is extremely daunting and seeing that you are 1 applicant among 49 on Linkedin doesn’t feel promising. How I’ve found the most important career stepping stones has actually been dissecting the process and finding the company first. Find a company that excites you and creates a brand/strategy that embodies the way you visualize success. The wine industry is different, I have found extremely helpful and kind people who want to give me advice and referrals. But I would never have bought my one way ticket to Perth if I hadn’t bought Linkedin Premium (since canceled because my god it’s expensive!!!) and decided to put myself out there. 

I’ve been drinking my fair share of California & Washington wines in order to get my fix before the move. No Trader Joe’s deals for six months, I’ll survive right?

After doing all of this research and the information I have learned through networking, working in the wine industry is a huge draw for US Citizens moving to Australia. If you are looking for a harvest or cellar job, I would recommend looking at these websites, Wine Jobs Australia, Wine Industry Jobs, Wine Jobs, and more!! But the best way to get connected is through the people who have already worked or done harvest there. The wine community in Australia is hired almost predominately through word of mouth or referrals. Keep your friends close and your harvest coworkers closer, because they may just know someone from Oz.

I’m absolutely terrified but there is nothing I wanted more than to work for this company and explore the world. Ask and you shall receive apparently. Stay tuned for my big move DOWN UNDER!!! Cue Men at Work.

Cheers and Happy Sipping!

The Happiest Hour

The Happiest Hour

Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy drinks at Happy Hour. We all want to be happy and we all want drink discounts, right? That’s where we get the beautiful creation of happy hour. I’ve drank at my fair share of happy hour’s across the West Coast and it’s about time I created a Master List of my favorite HH in Seattle (more locations to come!!)  While this is specific to a killer wine list on the happy hour menu, these places usually have great cocktails and appetizers no matter what your drink of choice is.

Seattle, Washington

Barolo Ristorante

Downtown Seattle

This chic and tastefully elegant Italian restaurant is one of the Seattle greats. With glistening chandeliers, an outstanding wine list and out of this world pasta and meat dishes. Make a reservation for dinner and enjoy an incredible meal from start to finish. But what is even better is their Happy Hour. My favorite dishes on the bar menu include and ARE NOT limited to: Grilled pacific calamari, Rigatoni pasta with beef and veal ragú and the baked escargot (TO DIE FOR).

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Monday-Saturday: 3:00-6:30pm and 10pm-midnight

Sunday: All day starting at 3pm

50% off the bar menu
$5.75 glass select white, red, and rose’
$20 bottle of white, red, and rose’
$5.00 draft beer

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Source: Barolo

Purple Café & Wine Bar 

Downtown Seattle, Bellevue or Woodinville

“Where a global wine list meets seasonal Northwest ingredients” WOW. Talk about my kind of place. Purple is a industrial dream, with impressive metal work in all locations highlighting the dark and mysterious ambiance. With a never ending hand selected wine list that feels like a well written novel paired with exquisite and perfectly prepared dishes. Don’t you dare leave without trying the sea salt caramels. They taste like true love. What else to try: Warm baked brie, Crispy lemon-chile calamari and I usually always try the Washington wine featured on the menu. Currently: Lu & Oly Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, WA.

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Daily 2-5pm

Happy Hour menu includes $7.50 glass of featured wine or 40% off listed price of the featured wines by the bottle

Cocktails, Beer & Snacks also listed on HH menu

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Source: OpenTable

Stoneburner

Ballard

Located within Hotel Ballard, Stoneburner has an everlasting sophistication that feels like you landed in the perfect era during a trip through time. With a corner of the restaurant showcasing walls of the incredible wine collection opposite the art deco and classic full service bar. It’s a gem within the urban and artsy streets of Ballard. With a stone hearth focused kitchen, the small plates are served family style for the table. This would be a place to start with wine and finish the night with a masterpiece cocktail. Must try: CRISPY CASTELVETRANO OLIVES stuffed with mozzarella (not on HH menu but WORTH IT), classic pepperoni pizza and the Asti Fizz.

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Daily from 3-5pm

Happy hour menu includes salads, pizza, cocktails and WINE FLASKS 500ml flask of white/red/rosé for $10.

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Source: Stoneburner

The Walrus & The Carpenter

Ballard

One of my favorites. My heart feels so full with the incredible memories I have from this place. They are known for their oysters (YUM) and seafood. They are an enchanting and eclectic spot in Ballard that provides an oasis in the city for sea lovers and wine lovers alike! The interior design is warm and incredibly darling. As Total Happy Hour describes, “The Walrus and the Carpenter blends the elegance of France with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub.” With a hand selected and unique wine list that pairs perfectly with the sea fare, this is the perfect place to spend your evening.

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Oyster Happy Hour Monday-Thursday 4-6pm

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Source: The Walrus and The Carpenter

Of course, there are many more incredible places for HH in Seattle, but these places have my heart and will forever be in my brain bank of some of my favorite places in my hometown. What is your favorite place for HH in Seattle?

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy drinks at Happy Hour (1)

Happy sipping!