A look behind the scenes at the month that was, sharing the highlights, challenges and some personal recommendations for you!
Well, I guess this month is one for the books. Though it’s been quiet here on the blog, I can assure you guys it was for a very good reason and I hope you’ll forgive the radio silence….
Yep, we finally did it. Five years in the making, after getting Married for a Visa just 9 months after we first met in 2012, we had our dream wedding in Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia this month.
It was….way more fun than I expected!
It’s so easy to get caught up in wedding mania – even when trying to keep things as low-key as we were – the details and the hustle and bustle to get things organised kind of distracts you from the point that it’s one big party. It wasn’t until 3 or 4 days beforehand that I realised…this is going to be so much fun!
As many expats and cross-cultural couples know, the path you end up taking with marriage, living arrangements, family and traditions isn’t always the ‘normal’ way of doing things. Our wedding was the perfect example – I mean, we’re an Aussie and an Austrian getting married in Indonesia, with a barefoot bride, a ceremony in 2 languages and a couple who’d technically been married 5 years already.
Nothing is ‘normal’ in expat life is what I’m saying, and that’s ok. In fact, for us, it was perfect.
With no pressure of ‘Omg will this marriage thing work out’ (spoiler: it has for the last 5 years and I see no reason for that changing) we were able to relax and enjoy the day with our closest friends and family, who came from literally all over the world.
We’re both very aware of how incredibly privileged we are to be able to have a beach wedding on a tropical island with 60+ friends and their adorable families, and were truly grateful for every moment.
Living abroad means family occasions and extended periods of time spent with friends relaxing is rare – and that was the true joy of the day for us.
We combined Australian and Austrian traditions, songs, drinks and games, and the whole thing went over and above our (very high) expectations.
So April has definitely been a banner month, let’s get into the good the bad and the recommendations for you!
So – the highlight for April was, most definitely, the wedding on Nusa Lembongan, and the people we were so lucky to share it with.
I don’t wanna brag you guys but some folks are claiming ‘best wedding ever’ from the fireworks, dancing, cake face smash, music and collection of fun people. I’ll let the guests be the judge!
To make it possible took an excellent collection of humans though, I’m very grateful to our vendors, from the photography, to venue, to cake suppliers and of course my crew of helpers on the day it went well because we worked with amazing people.
Check my post here for the full run down of who we worked with to plan a wedding abroad!
Places Travelled: Tirol, Sanur, Nusa Lembongan, Gili Trawangan, Jimbaran
After a quiet few months, April was bonkers for travel. We kicked off with Easter celebrations in Tirol, where it was shockingly still snowy enough for skiing up top of the Hohe Salve. We resisted the urge to ski and instead found a gorgeous little cafe in Söll serving up excellent coffee.
For the big wedding holiday, we were staying on mainland Bali for one week, in Sanur on the East Coast to celebrate my Dad’s 60th. This was an excellent jumping off point for Bali, though quite resort-y, it wasn’t as hectic as Kuta beach and not so expensive as Seminyak, it felt like the right balance. We stayed at the Inna Grand Hotel on the beach of Sanur.
The most disappointing thing about Sanur was the abundantly evident waste and trash problem Bali has – the beautiful beaches were unable to be enjoyed in some parts of the coast due to plastic and water pollution. Starting the holiday this way made us super conscious of every plastic straw, piece of rubbish and bottle we brought as its impact is so devastating en masse to the natural environment.
The wedding week was on heavenly Nusa Lembongan, a magic island that will always have a special place in our hearts. It too has changed a lot in the four years since we visited and is starting to see the impact of over-tourism that has ravaged Bali. It’s still a paradise and I hope the local communities and responsible travellers can work together to keep it that way.
Our honeymoon started on Gili Trawangan, which I thought was a mistake initially from the trashy party stretch of the island, but once you circle around to the quieter side it was absolutely lovely and we enjoyed some very relaxing days in the stunning accommodation of Kaleydo Villas.
We rounded the travel out in April with a 3 night stay at the Alchemist, a stunning fairyland treehouse accommodation in Jimbaran, on the south-west coast of Bali. All those fantasies you have about idyllic treehouse stays can come true here, though there are daily visits from Instagrammers posing by the poolside that are entertaining to watch.
All up, travel in April was crazy!
Challenges & Lessons
This month was blissful in the lessons learnt sense. The lesson for me was that nothing is more valuable than time spent with close friends, in a relaxed environment over a few days. The ability to see everyone you love over breakfast, by the pool, scootering around on dirt tracks and with no time pressure is rare and precious.
We treasured every moment.
The most startling challenge I’ve come across was realising just how many people close to me – friends, family, Stefan and others, who have been impacted by mental health issues.
Of our relatively small wedding guest group of 60, there were at least 4-5 people who spoke about the challenges they faced with depression, anxiety, burn out and related mental health. Of those, I’m sure there were a few more in the group that are either currently suffering and not yet recognised it, or had been through similar scenarios.
Though we’ve not gone into it here on the blog, as it’s not yet my story to tell, the journey I’ve experienced beside Stefan as he worked to overcome his challenges has opened up conversations with multiple people in my life around mental health struggles. It’s been an eye opening gift.
Whether it’s the crazy pace of our society today or the self-imposed pressures we put upon ourselves that has led to the prevalence of these mental health struggles across the board, this month I’ve found that talking about these topics makes a world of difference to all involved.
That said – if you are struggling right now, please, contact a local support network, or at the very least, tell someone to help you get through it. For your own sake and for the ones you love!
What I’ve been reading, watching and recommend for you
READ: Beachside holidays means I have powered through a LOT of novels this month! You can check out my shelves on Goodreads to get a bit of a rundown, but the one that has stuck most in my head and heart is Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.
It tells the story of 5 sisters who were ripped away from their parents & happy life aboard a shantyboat on the Mississippi River in 1939, and cruelly placed in the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage. It’s a page turner that’s filled with lyrical descriptions, evoking the American South but over and above that, the story itself is affecting, particularly as it’s based on the true crimes of orphanage owner Georgia Tann. Get your hands on a copy by clicking here.
LISTEN: I’ll be entirely honest, we went mostly offline for the entire 3 weeks of the holiday and it. was. heaven. Before that though, I had downloaded a bunch of podcasts to get through long travel days.
The Dollop has been getting a lot of play – it’s that fun mix of interesting, history nerd-y, funny, political and entertaining. Dave Anthony reads a story of American history to his friend, Gareth Reynolds – sounds simple, but is loads of fun.
EAT: If you are in Vienna, I recommend you check out Landkind for brunch. I have dreamed of their fresh butter, home made jams, local cheeses and delicious spreads the entire time we’ve been on holiday!
Full write up coming soon on the blog but honestly, if there is one thing you do from reading this article, save Landkind as a must visit spot in Vienna (I’m all about the west side suburbs local hangouts!). GOTA coffee is just nearby too 😉
May has brought reality and real life responsibility back with a vengance – I’m currently in Brisbane for work, which has been a lovely way to extend the summer vibes and top up my Aussie supplies of Sass&Bide jeans, Tim Tams and sunshine.
To be honest though, I’m really looking forward to being home in Vienna, this time of year is spectacular when the sun is shining, the terraces open up and perching in Heuringers on weekends starts to happen. Really looking forward to keeping this summer vibe rolling once I’m home.
The end of May also means the annual Traverse Conference, which this year I’ll be attending in Rotterdam – a brand new city for me, so very much looking forward to it. Traverse is one of the best conferences in Europe for bloggers and influencers to connect and learn more so hopefully I can pick up a few tricks to bring you guys more video content and fun things in future.
All up, April has been spectacular, and it feels like a triumphant full stop to the ‘establishing’ period of our lives in Austria. Now with a wedding done and dusted, we can start to look forward to what comes next in our lives abroad in Austria and revel in the joys of summer in Vienna and the countryside.
I hope you’ll join me for the next phase of adventures, and if you made it this far, thanks for reading!
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