Falling for the food scene in Mooloolaba

Envy Café Mooloolaba

Last Sunday I opted for a beach day in Mooloolaba with friends instead of tackling the stack of textbooks sitting on my desk (always the better choice, am I right?)

After a few blissful hours spent laying in the sun, I suddenly hit a low point when I realized I’d completely forgotten to put on sunscreen and had badly burned my derrière pack a lunch and was absolutely starving.

The Mooloolaba Esplanade really has the nicest cafés and restaurants, but most of them are definitely made for sitting down and enjoying a meal. I’m not exactly a ‘local’ yet in Mooloolaba, so I was having a hard time finding something quick  and easy – …and vegan… – to just grab with me and go back down to the beach.

A moment of clarity came upon me and I remembered having eyed out a particular healthy-looking café a few weeks ago. I even impressed myself and my companion enormously by remembering exactly where it was, a couple of blocks up from the beach.

So we trotted off, me and my (probably skeptical) friend who I’d convinced to tag along with me on this food hunt, and 10 minutes later we were both completely enamoured.

Hands down one of the best food discoveries I’ve made here… Envy Café.

Envy Café Mooloolaba

Like walking into someone’s living room… I love this kind of ambiance. Cakes at Envy Café Mooloolaba

My kryptonite right here, folks
Don’t worry, I practiced some major self-control!
Dairy-free month continues.

Envy Café Mooloolaba

No, YOU are special! 😀

Envy Café serves all kinds of food; this is not a specialized vegetarian/vegan joint, but everything is organic and all meat comes from grass-fed animals. So it’s a perfect place to take all your friends, no matter what kind of food they like. Sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups, juices, smoothies, coffee, cakes… You name it! 😉

The prices weren’t bad either (I’ve paid nearly as much for five leaves of lettuce and a cucumber at the Mooloolaba Esplanade, as I did for a huge takeaway meal that lasted for lunch and dinner at Envy). That being said, I might have spent slightly more money on eating out lately than my student budget allows me to…….. I need a volunteer to hold an intervention.

In my defence, though, I gave up feta cheese. I mean… Just that in itself gives me permission to spend 18$ on the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in my life, right?

Veggie burger from Envy Café, Mooloolaba

To an untrained eye it may look sloppy, but trust me on this – when it comes to veggie burgers, looks can be deceiving. And this was one helluva tasty little guy, so he’s free to look as sloppy as he’d like 😉

Veggie burger from Envy Café, Mooloolaba

This wasn’t anything like what I had in mind when I embarked on my food hunt (takeaway burger doesn’t exactly scream “convenient beach picnic food!”), but all common sense went out the window the moment I stepped over that threshold.  I’m already planning our next beach trip  to ensure that we have plenty of time for a long lunch at Envy in the middle of the day 🙂

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Walking along the Esplanade on our way to the bus-stop that afternoon, we stumbled across even more juice bars and even a completely vegan café with a view to the beach. I’m falling more and more for the food scene in Mooloolaba… Quality cafés and restaurants are in abundance, and the more I pay attention to it, the more I see how many great options there are for health-conscious vegetarians like me.

I don’t know if it’s my selective memory playing a trick on me, but I just can’t help but think that Oslo has a long way to go here…! Vegetarian/vegan restaurants aren’t exactly at every corner, and all I have are bad memories of paying full price for Caesar Salads without chicken and bacon (leaving me with lettuce, croutons and dressing apparently worth 20$…)

Selective memory or not – I’m quite happy to be eating my way through the Sunshine Coast in the year to come 🙂

Mooloolaba Beach

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Let’s compromise: Mount Coluum

meg på toppen

I happened to be looking at my post about Mooloolaba the other day when I suddenly  laughed out loud (which often happens when I notice how much of a weirdo I am). Here I am professing my deep sense of belonging at the beach and describing in detail how I can’t imagine ever being happier than when I am on a beach… when it dawned on me, it was only a couple of months ago that I wrote a love letter to the mountains. In that post I stated that – and I’m actually quoting myself, here – “all the beautiful beaches in the world combined couldn’t mend my broken heart if I had to live somewhere stripped of mountains for the rest of my life.”

Schizophrenic, much?

This is the part where I have to fess up to being one of those people who over-use terms like my favorite, the best, the greatest, most awesome thing in the whole freakin’ world. It’s a shame, because no one believes me anymore whenever I say things like oh man, this is my favorite song ever! Instead my friends sigh and say, yeah, your fourth favorite song tonight, Christine

In this case, when I realized I’d contradicted myself gravely on my very own blog, I chuckled and tried to ask myself the tough question: Well, which one is it? Can I live without the beach, or can I live without the mountains?

If my parents, siblings, and 200 innocent babies were stuck on a plane hijacked by Dolph Lundgren, the Joker, and that crazy little perverted prince in Game of Thrones and neither Bruce Willis, Nick Cage or Sly Stallone were around to take care of the situation… and the only way I could save them all was to choose which I like best; beaches or mountains…?

Screw it. I couldn’t decide. Instead I went to Mount Coluum where you get to climb a mountain while enjoying views of some of the most stellar beaches in Australia.
Win-win, baby!

going up

mount coluum

lisa og jennifer

mount coluum 3

mount coluum 2

jennifer at the top

going down collage

Have you ever been to Mt Coluum? What do you love about it?
– but most importantly: who’s the coolest bad guy – Dolph, Joker, or Goffrey? 

Xx Christine 

A very happy coincidence

A little less than one year ago, when I started to become increasingly interested in health, I started following a few beautifully crafted blogs based here in Australia. There seemed to be a bit of a tribe of women here on the East Coast who became my go-to gals for inspiration and interesting reads on all things wellness, inside and out. Back then the thought of moving to Australia hadn’t even entered my mind; I was focused on getting my application essays ready for the University of Vancouver. But as life would have it, 10 months later I suddenly find myself smack in the middle of the gorgeous views I’ve been seeing pictures of on my favorite blogs.

Growing more and more enamoured by the vegetarian/vegan/raw food movement, I kept stumbling upon a place called Ground which is a café specializing in certified organic raw food. Anytime I came across a reference to the place on blogs or on Instagram I kept thinking, that’s exactly what I’m missing here in Oslo. I wish I had a place like that right outside of my doorstep! In particular, the gorgeous Jess (from the Wellness Warrior) has been raving about this place several times and it got me drooling every single time.

Well, whatdoyaknow! My first week here on the Sunshine Coast I was on the bus driving through a little town called Buderim when I suddenly spotted a very familiar-looking café. Wait, is that..? No..! Is it? Yes, it is! Holy schmoly! And there it was – just a 10-minute drive from where I now live.  How crazy is that? Ever since I made this discovery I’ve been scheming and planning to see when I could find the time to go there. (Australia is strikingly similar to the US in the sense that if you don’t have a car, you’re in trouble. Buses are slow and infrequent and I would have to walk along the highway to get to Buderim by foot.)

My roommate offered to drive me there this past weekend; no doubt because she felt pity for the weird Norwegian who gets this excited about what most people call “rabbit food”. I put my fist in the air and sent a mental high five to one of my Swedish friends here who is as obsessed with green juices as I am. So I rallied up a few buddies and off we went on a sunny Saturday, me acting just as excited as if we were going to a theme park.

ground collage 1

Oh, man… This is place is everything I thought it would be. Welcoming, homey, fresh, good vibes all around. As with all vegan food, it takes some careful navigating on my part to avoid nuts, but the food I tried was absolutely freakin’ delicious. We each had a meal for lunch and then a  green juice to take with us to the beach later. Me and my fellow green juice fan, Moa, were swooning the whole time and decided that, “yup, we need to make this a Sunday tradition as of right now.”

ground collage 2 ground collage 3

My roommate, the driver, is Australian and more of a fried-chicken-with-chips-and-ketchup kind of girl, so this wasn’t exactly her cup of tea… But I loved seeing her give it a try! She told me that her taste buds were slowly dying and that she could barely stomach it (it was a simple green salad) “but at least my insides feel happy!” She was starving two hours later and went on the hunt for a burger.  Oh well… we can’t win ’em all 😉

What better way to end our day than with this little fella?

yoghurt world 2

Ground – you’ll be seeing a lot of me in the months to come! 

Xx Christine

A love letter to Mooloolaba Beach

I look in the mirror and notice that my nose has turned pink. I lean in closer  to the mirror and spot a dozen or so freckles on my forehead that weren’t there ten hours ago. My hair smells of salt and is tangled up in messy waves despite of my best efforts to keep it straight. As I shuffle around in my tiny bathroom I feel sand crunching underneath my feet, and when I catch one last glimpse of myself in the mirror, I notice that I’m smiling for no reason at all.

I suspect I’ve had a smile on my face for the past six hours straight.

mooloolaba trees

peek mooloolaba

mooloolaba beach 2

Not counting the first couple of days (when I literally felt like an alien; thank you jetlag), I have felt really comfortable and content here in Australia right from the beginning. I could tell right away that this place suits me. Sure, there are cultural differences that keep popping up and some surprises; like the fact that Australia is actually “Norway-expensive”. But all in all, I can tell that this is somewhere I will feel at home.

However – the weather has been incredibly unpredictable since I’ve been here (it is winter, after all), so it wasn’t until last Sunday that we actually went to the beach. It was a warm, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. We spent the day at Mooloolaba Beach swimming in the ocean, sunbathing, taking long walks, and window shopping at the beach side stores. The same feeling came over me as when I last found myself on such a beautiful beach, in Mexico: there is no other place in the world I want to be right now. I am right where I belong. This is my happy.

mooloolaba beach 3

mooloolaba beach 5

mooloolaba surf

mooloolaba bluff

I was born and raised far up in the northern corner of the world where winters are long and cold and summers are short but sweet. I was born and raised in and around a capital city and am used to the hustle and bustle of city life. I was born and raised far away from tropical beaches. And yet I feel the most like myself when I am on or near the beach. I’m realizing more and more that I don’t want a city, where you have to look presentable at all times and pay too much for coffee and rent. I want flip-flops and sunglasses, my skin sticky from salt water, make-up free and sun-kissed smiling faces all around me, complete disregard for what time it is besides ‘time for lunch’ and ‘time for the last bus home after sun-down’. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that I might be born to be beach bum. Give me a small beach town (preferably not too far away from mountains) over London and Paris any day. At some point I could abso-freaking-lutely see myself sitting in a cafe by a beach somewhere in the world and saying to myself: “I’m never leaving this place. Period.” And that’ll be that.

picnic alex headlands

alex headlands picnic 2

alex headlands

You might think, “Obviously everyone is happy at the beach.” But what I’m trying to explain is more than that. It’s about that feeling of being away from something I love so damn much and then finding it again – it feels like, Yes. I’m here again. I’m me again. It feels like exhaling after holding my breath for months and months since I was last in a similar place.

I’m gonna go to bed now with my new freckles and my sandy feet and sleep like a baby because I had the best day. And knowing that I’m not going to run out of these days because there’s no 9-5 job to go home to in two weeks’ time is the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.

Xx Christine

Australia Zoo

Last week I went to Australia Zoo and had a terrible time.

Said no person ever.

Australia Zoo is the best zoo down under and by far the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to. It is also the home of the Crocodile Hunter, the late Steve Irwin, and his family. Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 10-15 years knows who the Crocodile Hunter is, right? He took over what was once just a “wildlife park for reptiles” decades ago and turned it into the world’s best zoo – that was his vision anyway, and I have to say that the park and its employees are oozing with the famous Steve Irwin enthusiasm.

They love Steve Irwin here on the Sunshine Coast. Highways are named after him, his face is plastered everywhere, and God help you if you’re a non-Australian and make fun of the guy. I think it’s adorable how proud they are of him and how much they seem to want to continue bringing his vision to life at the zoo. You did good, Steve! Your zoo really is something else.

croc hunter

My day at the zoo got off to a rocky start when I was woken up by my friend calling to say I was already supposed to be at the bus station to catch our ride. (The fact that I overslept had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we were in our orientation week at university, a time where there is typically more nighttime activity than usual. Nope, nothing at all.) I did get to the bus in time – needless to say, a little bit frazzled and still starving from the night before – and tried my best to get excited about our furry friends. (Remember, I’m not an animal person… not really. Some of them are cute and all, but I don’t go out of my way to see animals.) When we got there, we quickly discovered that not only is the area much larger than you would estimate at first, but the signs are useless. I walked around for 40 minutes following the signs to find the elephants – and my friends, who had walked on ahead – and ended up in the exact opposite corner of the zoo than where the elephants are. Later, we also circled the dingoes for 20 minutes while actively looking for them, all because Steve obviously thought we’d figure it out after one or two signs earlier on. We didn’t. We need more signs, Steve. We need you to treat us like idiots, please.

Just when I thought, oh man, this might turn out to be a looong day (after a long night), I met this beauty and quickly forgot all about being hungry and lost and tired:

koala with baby

Can you spot the baby koala in the pouch???

The awesome thing about Australia Zoo is that you can pet practically all the animals – I mean the ones who don’t find humans particularly tasty, of course. We got to chill out on the grass with kangaroos and wallabies, pat koalas on the back, hand-feed elephants… it’s all about getting up close and personal at Australia Zoo.

Wallabies!

wallaby

‘Roos!
roos

Zebras!

zebra

Giraffes!
giraffes

lonely giraffe

Rhinos!
(That’s a rhino, right? I’m not even 100% sure. That’s how much an animal person I am.) rhino 2

Tigers! tiger

Everyday at noon, they have a wildlife show in the Crocoseum. Birds and snakes and crocodiles all get to show off, and it’s definitely a can’t-miss part of a visit to the zoo. The crocodile they used the day I was there was Mossman who is the largest croc they have at Australia Zoo. You could tell immediately that the croc team had no idea whatsoever what Mossman was going to do… They spent 10 minutes circling around the beast trying to feed him a fish to get him to show off his teeth, but Mossman wouldn’t play along. Instead he kept focusing in on the trainer’s legs as if trying to work out a strategy on how to get a bite out of them.

The trainers were constantly trying to distract him in other directions than where he was going, and I got the feeling that they weren’t exactly comfortable with Mossman’s mood that day. If I wasn’t scared (enough) of crocodiles before, I certainly am terrified now. Professional crocodile trainers don’t even know how to deal with them half of the time – how the heck am I supposed to know what to do if I see one? Oh wait, that’s right – I won’t see one. He’s the best strategist on the planet when it comes to ambush attacks. I’ll be dead long before I’m even aware that there’s a croc in the water. Strangely enough, I find a lot of comfort in that. croc feeding

And this guy…. My heart melted about 5 million times that day. koala 3

Aw, buddy! How come you get to be so cute, huh? koala 2

In summary, Australia Zoo is absolutely worth a visit (or two! or three!). I can’t wait to back with my family and friends whenever they get around to coming for a visit. My external hard-drive has room for another 500 pictures of koalas. (Do you have any idea the kind of restraint it took to only choose three of my koala pictures to put on the blog??)

Too much fun. Seriously. I’m exhausted from ooh!‘ing and whoah!’ing.

Xx Christine 

So, what’s it like?

I hope none of this comes back to bite me in six months’ time, but from someone who’s only just arrived in this awesome country, here are some of my first observations (in no particular order):

+ Everyone wants to be your friend

Australians are extremely social people and love to strike up conversations to strangers. I’ve never been any other place where it’s this easy to talk to people, to anyone. They smile, they joke around, they pat you on the back and shake hands with just about everyone.  It’s a different kind of friendliness than the one I got to know while living in the US; a much more casual one. I adore the way every person I’ve met just once treats me a long lost friend the next time I pass them by on the street. This has got to be the easiest country in the world to live if you’re even slightly worried about how to make friends in a new place.

+ Australians seem to go out of their way to make it easy on foreigners

As someone who’s had to establish herself to a certain degree in a number of countries (cell phone, bank account, transportation, health care etc), I am blown away by how easy everything is in Australia. As long as you have an ID and a some sort of paper with your name and address on it, anything can be fixed on the spot. If all you have is an ID – no problem! We’ll get it done anyway and then just come by with the proof of address and/or money whenever you get the chance.

You know the Einstein quote “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”? That’s Australia, whereas Cuba, for example, was “everything should be made as hopelessly difficult as possible, but no more difficult than that.”

+ The days are much shorter

This came as a complete surprise to me; it hadn’t even crossed my mind that I would have to get used to the sun setting much earlier. Back home the nights are endlessly long this time of year and you’ll only run out of sunlight for a few hours in the middle of the night. Here, it’s dark by 6 pm year-round, which means that after 5 pm I automatically go into “end-of-the-day mode” and feel the urge to reach for my PJs. This will definitely take some getting used to…

+ It turns out kangaroos are not harmless

The University of the Sunshine Coast is famous for its location in the middle of a wildlife reserve. What this means is that we have wild kangaroos jumping around on campus every day (as well as exotic birds, frogs and snakes apparently. I’ll let you know when I see one).  These kangaroos – while cute, funny-looking and fascinating creatures – are extremely territorial and will kick you to a pulp if provoked, so we’ve been repeatedly told to always keep at least a 3-meter distance.

You’d think this would be easy enough to maintain, right? The only problem is that in order to get from campus to our accommodation (a five minute walk) you need to cross a wooden pathway/bridge past a lake with a surrounding wetland. I heard a story last week of a girl walking home from the library one night who had the misfortune of wanting to cross over the wetland to get home to bed at the same time as a huge male kangaroo. Imagine walking home in the dark and seeing the silhouette of a huge rat-like creature standing 6 ft tall right in front of you. Not wanting to step closer than 3 meters and not having enough room on the pathway to go around it, the poor girl had no choice but to wait it out. They stood there and looked at each other for nearly half an hour until the animal finally jumped off in the other direction and she was free to go home.

+ Australians are extremely loud when intoxicated

I barely have words to describe how loud and wired and hyper these Australians have been in situations where alcohol has been involved. I’ve only been here a week++, but this is an observation I just can’t ignore. They’re like little Duracell bunnies jumping up and down while screaming. And smiling from ear to ear, of course. They look so happy while doing it that it’s hard not to love them, but holy crap – I’ve never experienced these levels of loudness for no apparent reason before. I’m going to try to dig into this a little further to see what all the yelling’s about, but so far I’ve just been staring them wide-eyed and flinching when someone goes YEEEEEWWWWWW!!!!!! in a high-pitched voice.

If you have any myths about Australians that you’d like me to investigate or debunk, don’t be shy – feel free to let me know! 😉 

Xx Christine 

Here we are

When I was around 5 years old, I went on a family trip to Mallorca. It was the first time I went outside of the country, except for a few trips to Sweden, and the very first time I went on a plane. Mom and Grandma had been preparing me for weeks, saying things like “when we get there, we’ll go to the beach and it will be warm and sunny and full of palm trees”. Very exciting stuff for a little girl from Oslo who’s only ever seen palm trees in cartoons on TV.

I don’t know what exactly I had imagined in my head, but it was clear that I didn’t quite understand what happens when you fly on a plane. When we exited the plane and Mom declared “Here we are!”, my 5-year-old self immediately called  her out on her nonsense: “No, we’re not. We’re still in Norway. Look, there are floors and walls and ceilings, and there’s even doors. No way we’re on Mallorca, everything looks the same. I don’t see a beach.” Mom patiently tried to explain that the reason I didn’t see the beach was because, well, we were still indoors. I wouldn’t hear any of it; to me it seemed like they had ushered me on a plane, served some food and given me crayons, and three hours later let me out again on the airport in Oslo. It literally wasn’t until we walked outside and I spotted a palm tree that I had my light bulb moment, “Whoah! So…. we’re not in Norway anymore?”

Traveling to Australia reminded me of that. I got on a plane in Oslo. Then another one in Brussels. And another one in Abu Dhabi. And stopped in Singapore where I was told they sentence you to death on the spot if you’re caught trafficking drugs (and everyone immediately starting eying each other nervously as if we were all thinking the same thing: oh my God, did someone plant anything in my bag???). And then finally, after more horrible vegetarian airplane meals than I care to remember, they let me out and told me “welcome to Australia”.

When I left Oslo it was sunny and warm; Brisbane was rainy and dreary. I looked around me in the arrivals hall and started an imaginary conversation with Mom in my head. “This isn’t really Australia, right? They’ve just been shuffling me around in one giant airport for the past 32 hours, is what it feels like. They’ve tricked us.” Imaginary Mom tried to console me: “It’s just because we’re still inside, Christine. Go outside. Get some food. Take a nap.”

So I did. And when I woke up, I saw a palm tree outside of my window.

It must be true, then. I’m in Australia!

Xx Christine 

IMG_1737(And if you needed more proof, here are my new neighbours)