How to become a cocktail bartender

I think time has come for me to explain how to start a bartending career. Mostly because I’m tired of replying to facebook messages like “Hi! I just arrived in Sydney and I noticed you in the fb group XXXX… I want to become a bartender and I’d like to know what to do!”. Basically, most of the people are hoping you to tell them: “Oh hi! Thank God you’re here. Where I work we are searching for a legend like you… Please come in for an interview, I’ll put a good word for you and I’ll teach you everything till you are better than me” (even if you don’t know them). Or they just hope that you can reveal them some dark secret to succeed in life.

Well, unfortunately magic wand for careers has still not been invented.
So here is my step-to-step advise:

  1. Bartending is not the same everywhere on this planet. Don’t expect to win a world award if you are attending to the bar of a small town stucked in the middle of the Italian Alps. Yes I’m pretty sure you can make a fair Aperol Spritz. What about a Sidecar?
    Do you want to become a good bartender? WORK WITH THE BESTS. SO MOVE. Yes, CHANGE COUNTRY if necessary. Learn another language, if necessary.
    Your best options are London, United Kingdom in general, Australia (Sydney or Melbourne) or America (New Orleans, New York, San Francisco). There are others, of course.

  2. Be hardworking, and start from the bottom. No hospitality experience? Okay. Don’t be shy or lazy, your best opportunity is to START AS BARBACK. I know it’s not fancy, you can’t show your friends how amazing you are, but trust me, you won’t be amazing not knowing which bottle to grab when your recipe says “15 ml vanilla liqueur”.
    Barbacking means that you’ll learn how to
    – Not break every glass you touch
    – Use a dishwasher, if your mum did a terrible job with you
    – Polish glasses… Like, THOUSANDS a night
    – To move around the bar without getting killed. It’s a little bit like in a videogame. “Baaacks! BAAAACKS!”. And here is someone pointing at you at bullet speed, three cocktails in his hands, and you’re there, looking at him coming to you like a deer would look to a truck approaching at maximum speed.
    – To recognise the bottles. “Please grab me a bottle of Glendonach 21 years old!”.
    Okay, store room, what was the name? What did he say? Let’s start considering that if you’re not a native speaker of the language name of the spirit, it’s funny how people fuck up. I think it took me three attempts to pronounce Glendonach in a way that a guest could understand. And if only I could get a coin for every time I heard “Maraschino” mispronounced… Furthermore, if you’re a fresh starter, you’re likely not to know that it will be in the whisky section (and if it’s aged 21 years old…). IF you understood the name. Just ask and be annoying if necessary, ask the bartender to show you the empty bottle. Do you want to avoid this? Take the initiative.
    Obviously not with Glendonach 21 years old. But if a bottle is about to end in the rail, get the new one before this happens. Fill up the ice weld before you get asked for it. The bar is your realm as well, and you’re important. I’ve seen bars drawn in DEEP SHIT because of the barback’s lacks. Remember: a team is as strong as its weakest link.

  3. (optional but recommended) TAKE A MONTH OFF AND SUBSCRIBE TO A BARTENDING SCHOOL.
    No, I’m not talking about a 3 hours course. I’m talking about a professional school, usually a month course for the basics, that can easily be around 1500€ or 2200$. I know, it’s a sacrifice, but will get you better chances to get into the industry if you have zero experience. I’d also recommend not to work while you’re studying, as passing the final exams can be tough (and the higher your score, the bigger the chances). It will teach you the classics, the bar basics, the free pouring, some flair, and masterclass of the main spirits and liqueurs, how to recognise the bottles and how to make two-three-five cocktails at the same time.

  4. LEARN YOUR CLASSICS. And if possible, study your recipes in English. Study them in ounces or ml, depending on your country, and keep repeating them to someone, or in front of the mirror, at least once a week. With classics, I mean at least 70 recipes. And don’t pick them from some shitty website for bored housewifes… Try to understand the story behind the recipe, where it got published for the first time, and if possible stick to the original. You’ll see that many are from “Modern American drinks”, a book you can download in pdf for free online. No, I’m not giving you the link, show some fucking initiative! 😀
    Also, the names are always the same… Recipes for mixed drinks (1917), Harry’s ABC of mixing cocktails (1919), Here’s how (1927), The Savoy cocktail book (1930)…
    Obviously some classics have evolved so we don’t follow ALWAYS the original one. And for some of them, it’s also hard to put your hands on the original one, as the origins are not always written in stone. So take this as a generic rule, until you’ll get the necessary knowledge (with the experience, you’ll know what to do).

  5. RESTAURANTS BEFORE COCKTAIL BARS. Before thinking that you already know everything and you’re ready for war, you’d better learn how to make a gin and tonic (if you skipped point 3). And how to make two drinks at the same time. Restaurants can be a valid option to start with because of a magic word called DISPENSE. Also known as DOCKET STATION. This is where new starters usually take the firsts steps, preparing the drinks for the floor without the hassle to have a guest staring at you. Be mindful, dispense can be crazy busy, depending on the restaurant. But you’ll learn not only cocktails, also wines, beers, and coffees, and mocktails. You can fuck up during your preparation as much as you want, at the only condition that your final product gets out of the bar in a decent amount of time and in good condition. If you still need to look at the cocktail specs because you don’t know the recipes, there’s usually a hidden spot where to do it (even to google something, usually in the dishwasher area). If you don’t know where a beer is, you can open every single fridge without a guest getting impatient. If you don’t know how to gather a payment, it’s okay at the beginning.

  6. Don’t be scared to try something new. Even if it means flexibility. Hostessing for a night, or be food runner. There will be people that will try to push you out of the bar, especially at the beginning, when they’ll think you’re still not ready. BE FLEXIBLE BUT FIRM IN YOUR INTENTIONS. If your goal is the bar, be mindful that everything comes with time and sacrifice. Understand your venue’s needs and be a team player. If your host fell sick, someone has to take the ball. If the floor is short of staff, food still has to make it to the table. But at the same time, if it’s always YOU who get picked for those jobs and you end up being in the bar only during the weekends, while the rest of your time you get assigned to other tasks, don’t be scared to remember them that you can’t get any better or any faster without practice. If things don’t move and you feel like you’re not appreciated, and therefore not given the opportunity of growing in the company, while everyone else is, just quit.

  7. Okay, now that you had your dispense training, and your restaurant training, and your extra experiences in making coffees, hosts and floor, you should give it a go and try to get faster and better. We assume that at this stage you know how to balance sweet and sour, you know all your classics, you know how to open-close a bar, and you know how the Cherry Heering bottle looks like. Move out of the dispense and interact with the guests sit on the bar stools. MASTER THE ART OF THE SMALL TALK, if the place is quite. Learn how to GET FAST, TIDY AND PRECISE, if busy.

  8. COCKTAIL BAR: the WAR BEGINS. If you are tired of restaurants and to have to know your vegan and gluten free options to get your tips (even when the bar food is on a different menu, but OKAY), be ready for war.
    First of all, pick the right bar. You don’t want to start with a selection of 400 whisky, 200 gins, and a complicated selection of made in house syrups, tonics, bitters, etc.
    I mean, obviously if you got the job congratulations!
    But in this article we’ll try to go for the smooth way, step by step, so go for a fast paced environment with plenty of classics. Yes, I know you should know your classics already. But how many people have asked you for a Mai Tai, a Zombie, a Fog Cutter, a Brandy Crusta, a Toblerone, a Japanese Slipper, so far?
    I’m pretty sure you’re good with Aperitifs, Espresso Martinis, Digestifs, but there are many options that are not very popular in restaurants, like after dinner cocktails. Often the typical guest of a restaurant is also not as knowledgeable about cocktails and doesn’t know what to order other than what’s in your list. So go for a cocktail bar with possibly not more than 15 wines by the glass, 3-4 beers on tap and 15 beers by the bottle, a hundred bottles of spirits and liqueurs and 10 purees and 10 juices.

  9. SPIRIT KNOWLEDGE. You did well and I’m proud of you. Now you sling drinks like a pro, have the small talk of a comedian, you know who you are. Still, when someone names you “dry wine”, “Oaxaca”, “Akvavit”, “triple distilled”, “shrub”, “sherry cask”, “malted barley”, “Rhum Agricole”, “Pot still”, your eyes are still open wide as the mentioned above deer-against-truck. And your mind starts spinning in “Ozzy man review” style, swearing at your guest the worst things you can possibly imagine.
    Do you remember that masterclass book you had to study in point 3 for your exams? Well, for your knowledge, the exam is STILL ON. And always will be.
    If you still feel like a life change, go work for a distillery. That would be your greatest chance. Do you live in Italy and your only whisky distillery is in the middle of the Alps, and you moved to Rome to learn how to bartend…? Well, books will be your salvation.
    STUDY. Start with Vodka, Gin, Rhum, Tequila. Then go Whisky, Beer, Wine, Cognac, Liqueurs. Then go unusual, go rare. Go Akvavit, go Mezcal, go Mirto di Sardegna, go Falernum.

  10. MIXOLOGY. Don’t study only for spirits. Go for crazy herbs and plants, unusual fruits and flowers. Experiment. There are amazing books in Amazon. Your goal is your guest’s aw, what they would describe as “WEIRD&TASTY&GOOD”. Make shrubs and syrups, bitters and liqueurs, take inspiration (also from other fields, like your grandma’s cuisine, molecular science, chemistry, groups on facebook, trips, etc) but don’t steal recipes. You can create something yours.

I just want to leave you with one simple conclusion: don’t ever think you already reached your goal. No no no. Your goal is always one step forward.
The moment you think you know everything, you lose.
There will always be room to new flavours, new combinations, not everything is been invented yet.
The more I move forward in this field, the more I know, the more I realise how much I don’t know.
So good luck and… Never lose your enthusiasm 😀

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Sydney’s best bars and locals

20170531_163121.jpgI have been living in Sydney for more than a year now, and I found myself asked quite often to lead a bunch of people out, seeking for good booze and knowing a shit about it.

Very often I got requests for organizing “cocktail bar crawls”, and questions like “Ah you’re a bartender, sweet, so you KNOW where I can bring my girlfriend to surprise her for our anniversary, right?”, or “Where is the place with the cheapest meal?” or “Where can I find a decent selection of Tequilas?”.

And, surprisingly, I knew the answers. Being a bartender means to me that my days-off are often a leasure&work&training maze, in which I spend nights out hanging out with good friends stalkering the bartenders moves from my stool at the topbar, chewing nuts and drinking cocktails and spirits.

So, accordingly to the requests of people tired to message me seeking for advices and NOT finding their answers on time due to “me-being-on-shift-guys”, here is the list of my favourite places (which is obviously limited by my personal knowledge… I HAVEN’T STEPPED in every single bar in Sydney, and Sydney’s bar scene is constantly evolving, therefore things may change. This list is updated to 29.06.2017, please check on google maps for times, address, etc before jumping straight to those amazing wonderland’s bars).

(FOOD VENUES LIST and WHERE TO GO DANCING AFTER THE COCKTAIL BAR LIST)

1. Sydney (21) - Blu bar ShangrilaBEST COCKTAIL BARS AND WHY (IN MY OPINION):

  1. BAXTER INN. Well, this doesn’t come as a surprise. As you may know, Sydney loves hidden entrances. After you’ll go down the stairs in what looks like the perfect place to get kidnapped in order to sell your organs to the black market, and open the door… MAGIC! Blues and Jazz atmosphere, the Baxter Inn has been elected BEST BAR IN AUSTRALIA, and SIXTH IN THE WORLD. No visit to Sydney is complete without a stop there. I encourage you, as it’s quite packed all week, not to come in a large group. Aside from an extensive whiskey selection, there is a range of cocktails and craft beers to choose from. Free pretzels are also dished out to thirsty customers. You can ask ANY  CLASSIC international cocktail (no, not Toblerone!) and they’ll make it at its finest perfection. Need ideas? Like gin? Order a Southside for yourself and a Clover Club for your girlfriend… Like whisky? Ask for Penicillin cocktail or a whisky sour or a Mint Julep. Stop ordering Espresso Martinis, that you can have at any shitty place with 10$ happy-hour. Go classic! And live the best buzz of Sydney!
  2. baxter 2

    Baxter Inn

    EAU DE VIE. Darlinghurst never disappoints. Are you planning a night out with your crush…? THIS IS THE PLACE. The best customer service, a charming host, smoked cocktails and special effects, a 500-bottles backbar, and everything is just too perfect for words. If you seek for buzz and classics in a busy athmosphere, go Baxter Inn, if you seek for a LONG list of creative new cocktails to try out, mixology at its finest, elegance and charm, go Eau de Vie.

  3. eau2

    Eau de Vie

    THE BULLETIN PLACE. This shoe-box bar is a hidden gem you should check out. What’s so particular? Any classic, of course, plus a cocktail menu that changes EVERY DAY. Yes, you read it. They only use fresh, seasonal ingredients to make their own cocktails, there’s table service, staff is there to please you and it’s well trained and knowledgeable. Cocktails? Delicious! Also ranked 19th best cocktail bar in the world in 2014 awards.

  4. THE BARBER SHOP. Located in the same courtyard of the Baxter Inn, this is probably the best gin bar of Sydney. Great selection, comfy sofas, and don’t forget to silently and discretely check our the steel door at the end of the bar… And the lavatories. XD
  5. MJøLNER. A new entry into Sydney’s bar scene. Also, a viking inspired bar and restaurant. Food looks delicious (meat focused). If you are looking for a short, boozy cocktail with a good game on the Amari side, Akvavit, perfect balance and attentive mixology, this is your place. You want craft beer? They have it. You want food? They have it. You want whisky selection? They have it. You want to make a toast in front of Thor’s hammer? Well… THEY HAVE IT! 😀
  6. ARCHIE ROSE DISTILLING CO.: feel the need to do something different on a Sunday afternoon? Got spare time, need a drink, but everything opens at 5pm and it’s midday? You love whisky and gin, but don’t know shit about it? That’s the place for you!! In the heart of Rosebery, a VODKA, GIN, WHISKY, VIRGIN-CANE SPIRIT DISTILLERY!
    Archie-rose-distillery-sydney-acme-and-co-Yellowtrace-05Tours are available for booking on their website for 20$. Where else can you find in the world a distillery 20 minutes by bus (309, 310) from the Central Station of a major city like Sydney? Just partecipate to a distillery tour, a whisky or gin blending masterclass, and mingle in the chilled atmosphere of the cocktail bar surrounded by whisky casks. Want more?
    Check out the view from the Mezzanine. Let the staff guide you through their extensive 160 whisky selection, through their spirits flights (tastings), through complex cocktails designed for highlighting the tones, hints and notes of their botanicals gins, of their limited realease of virgin cane spirit (1200 bottles only), of their unaged white rye, and their botanical vodka? Focus on Australian ingredients and a great selection of tonic waters; also, all the syrups and shrubs are homemade, juices are freshly squeezed. Even wattleseed cola, blackstrap ginger, and bush tonic available.
  7. archie.jpg

    Archie Rose Distilling Co. cocktail bar

    BOUCHE ON BRIDGE. We couldn’t skip in our list a wine bar. I know, this is a cocktail bar list, but what about…. Spritzers? Everyone loves a good Aperol Spritz. What if we had a place that could combine a great spirit and a great wine together to create the perfect, refreshing aperitif? You’re welcome! My favourite is “Cucumber, snow pea, quinoa vodka, bianca, spritzed pinot gris”. If you prefer red wine, “Pomegranate, orange, port whiskey, vermut, pepperberry, shiraz”.
    Also good food and obviously, focus on vermouth.

  8. PALMER&CO. “I just finished to work, I’d love a drink, but as soon as I sit I may fall asleep”. I’m pretty sure everyone had this feeling at least once. If you’re searching for the right vibe, this underground gem hidden in a small alley two steps away from Wynyard station is what you need. The rustic and old-style design of the place well fits the platters selection at the Chartuterie and the good Negronis. Enjoy! Suitable also for 10 people groups (finally one!)
  9. THE LOBO PLANTATION. RHUM RHUM RHUM. Ok, now that I have your attention, please check out this bar. Seaching for the perfect rhum based cocktail, a good rhum selection, a banana and coconut infused rhum old fashioned? There you go!
    Quite busy during weekends, can be hard to find a spot to seat down. Too packed? Want to go Tiki? Check out Papa Gede‘s, at a 5 minutes walking distance. Cozy and has the best Zombie in town. Feel free to chill in the exotic Tiki atmosphere enjoying your absinthe fountain :). Also the Cuban Place, nearby.
  10. It’s summertime and you’re searching for a nice place to watch the sunset? Ok, I have not one, but THREE options for you! Blu bar on 36, at the Shangri-la hotel, has the best view of all Sydney on the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Unfortunately the best view is in the lounge area, where it’s hard to get a table close to the windows due to long waiting lists; I recommend to check the opening time and to show up 15 minutes before opening. But the view is something you can’t miss. Fireworks every Saturday night approx. 8.30-8.45 pm.20170416_151308O Bar and Dining: “our circular space on the 47th floor turns constantly to reveal an ever-unfolding, 360-degree panorama. It’s this city’s most stunning place to enjoy fine food, exquisite cocktails and elevated good times”, recites the website. I couln’t agree more. Also good fine dining option, in the heart of CBD.
    Zephyr bar: that’s a ROOFTOP, OPEN-air bar, so my suggestion is to check it out in summertime, to chill after a hot day. Sunset straight in front of you and Darling Harbour. A focus on vermouth.
  11. SHADY PINES SALOON in Darlinghurst is NOT a place where a vegan wants to spend his Saturday night. Country live music during weekends, easy going athmosphere and ask to try their special spicy rhum. Whisky bar with great selection, still good at making any international (like Baxter Inn). P.s. the door is white, there’s a SMAAAL tag at the entrance with the venue’s name on it.
  12. TIO’S: looking for Tequila and Mezcal? Surry Hills little secret, with the best selection in town! Let the bartenders guide you through a trip to Mexico…
  13. PS40: seasonal cocktails are a bomb, but the highlight of this place in my opinion is their selection of their made in house SODAS, TONICS, GINGER ALE and WATTLESEED COLA. Do you want to appreciate them at their best? Order a Batanga cocktail or a gin and tonic.
  14. MARBLE BAR: in the Hilton Hotel, close to Town Hall, there’s this place where the bartenders are friendly, cocktails good, and the place is just too gorgeous: marble everywhere, with a touch of Renaissance influence. During weekends it turns into a club style place, sometimes with live music. I would recommend it when it’s not that packed, with your fiancée. Zeta bar upstairs is also nice (more expensive tho).
  15. Other places you may want to check out, with no particular notes, are:
    IN CBD: Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern (Focus on cognac), Grandma’s Bar (try the Peanut Butter Colada), The Cuban Place (rhum), Since I left you, The Rook, The Mojo Record Bar, The Stich, The Swinging Cat, The Grasshopper, Nola Smokehouse and Bar, The Grain (whisky bar at the 4season hotel).

    ©Zaira Biagini Photographer

    ©Zaira Biagini Photographer

    Surroundings: The Wild Rover, the Button Bar (Surry Hills), Maybe Frank (italian cocktails), Bloody Mary’s (also breakfast and lunch, for hangovers!), This Must be the Place (Darlinghurst), Tatler (one of the bests, I just couldn’t check it out so far), The World Bar, The Butler (great view) (Kings Cross).
    As you may have noticed, no bars are in North Sydney in my list. Due to my location (Ultimo) I never explored that area much, but let’s also say that on the internet I couldn’t find any place that was worth the trip.

If your main focus is FOOD AND DRINKS TOGETHER, PLEASE CHECK OUT:

  1. The Morrison Oyster Bar and Restaurant: every Wednesday, from 6 to 7 pm, fresh Pacific Oysters at 1$ each. And everyday 5-7pm happy hour with house wine and spirits at 10$. Oysters are delicious, shucked few minutes before 6pm. This event won the “Best concept event” at the Hospitality Award of Sydney in 2016.
  2. Sokyo: Okay so now we have Gin, Tequila, Mezcal, Rhum, Whisky… We know where to drink anything… But I feel like Sushi tonight! “No worries mate”! The Star Casino in Pyrmont offers the best Sushi you can possibly ask for (of course, everything comes with a price…) and please make yourself a favour and ask for the Saiku Salmon Sashimi. It is the best sashimi you’ll ever try in your life, I guarantee.
    The bar is Umeshu, Sake, and Japanese whisky focused, a must-try. If you feel like having the best day of your life, try Yamazaki 25 years old for 300$ a shot.
    640-Sokyo-at-The-Star-11
  3. Alfredo’s: located in Bulletin place, restaurant upstairs and underground cocktail bar downstairs. The friendly and expert Codris will delight you with Italian Aperitif style nights, with its olive all’ascolana, happy-hour cocktails, and with its knowledge of how to make even a bartender used to drink a lot of booze get out of the place basically on their knees XD
    Codris is simply MY BARTENDER in Sydney, the one that I trust to make my cocktail. The only one I tell “You decide for me” without a single doubt. The best place also for a chat. Beware: it closes at 10.30 if not busy.
    alfredo's
  4. The Assembly Bar and Restaurant: cocktails, beers, but most of all, TRUE ITALIAN PIZZA two steps away from Town Hall.
  5. Maloney’s: want to go cheap? Like, really cheap?? The cheapest place in town is here, with 8$ beer jugs, chicken schintzels and fries for 12$. Burgers, pizzas, steaks, a typical Aussie pub with lots of room close to World Square.
  6. Pizza e Birra: pizza again, why? Because Monday night is ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT pizza here! Italian owned, they also offer the bests Negronis and beer buckets.
  7. Frankie’s Pizza is a metalheads oriented place, often with rock or metal live music, and suitable for a bourbon&coke (in a plastic cup, for safety). I never ordered cocktail there as it’s a much less pretentious place then Baxter Inn or Shady Pines (even if it’s still part of the Speakeasy group), but it’s in CBD, it’s open until late night, and… again, Pizza. Not Italian style, tho. 😦
  8. Chinatown noodle restaurant: just feel like a warm chinese tea, hungry as fuck, but broken and still in hangover from yesterday. Too lazy to cook. No problem at all 🙂
    Chinatown noodle is a franchise, there’s one in Haymarket, one in Town Hall, one in Pyrmont, they offer MASSIVE portions and are as cheap as 10$.
  9. Lentils as anything: same feeling as the point above, but even 10$ are too much for your pockets? In Newtown you can have a meal with a gold coin donation at Lentils, with typical indian food (please be considerate in your offer).
  10. Tella Balls: fuck the booze, I’m hangover but it’s Sunday morning, everything is still closed and I feel like milk-shake and breakfast. Like a MASSIVE, GIANT WAFFLE BURGER stucked with icecream, a thousand sweet syrups, sprinkles, chocolate, strawberries and whatever I can imagine. Tella Balls in Dulwich Hill is unique in its genre and won’t disappoint you. Just beware: some plates are meant to be for 2, even 4 people. You can take them away if you don’t finish them… But trust me, one choice per person is more than enough. At 10 minutes walk to the Light Rail last stop.
    tella
  11. Max Brenner Chocolate bar: struggling to find a PROPER hot chocolate? A THICK, Italian style one? The first time you asked for a hot chocolate and you had been served that milk jug with two teaspoons of chocolate powder in it your face was failing at hiding your disappointment? Ok, go to Max Brenner (there are many around Central and one close to Wynyard) and ask for an Italian Thick Chocolate. You can ask for white, milk or dark one. You can thank me later with a bank transfer 🙂
  12. Papa’s: in both Haberfield and Bondi, dessert bar, ice-creamery, restaurant, coffee bar, all with authentic Italian food!
  13. Mary’s: “I have an absolute need of unhealthy, deep oiled food…”. But you don’t like Kfc. Mary’s has the best chicken wings in all Sydney, in a rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Burgers, fries, fried chicken, mash and gravy.
  14. Big Poppa’s: Darlinghurst located, upstairs restaurant, downstairs underground bar. Great spirits selection and fastest bartenders ever, if you feel hungry and need some vibe, this buzzling place will make you feel alive. Platters are great, go for the salumi one.
  15. The Ship Inn: hospitality kills you, I know. You can’t get out of your job until 00.30 am, and in CBD due to the lockout laws it’s almost impossible to enter anywhere. Thank God we have the Ship Inn! Last entrance at 01.30 am, HOSPO DISCOUNTS (show your RSA card) and you can get 7.5$ pizzas Aussie style. Try the avocado and basil one, or the Pappa Grande. Cheap beers on tap at 5$ (ask first which ones).
  16. Pancakes on the Rocks: okay, your job SUCKS and you finished at 3am tonight. And you’re starving, I can see it. But Sydney won’t let you starve to death, I promise, because we have Pancakes on the Rocks! Also with salty options, not just a dessert bar, and open 24 hrs.
  17. Indu and Mejico CBD: owned by the same company, they have amazing cocktails and good wine selection while delighting you with Indian and Mexican cuisine. Part of what you spend here will go to villages in need for charity. Not cheap, but a great place if you’re after an easy fine dining.
  18. La Piadina, in Bondi Beach, if you’re missing la piadina romagnola, here it is!
  19. Gelato Messina, just the best icecream in town. Just second to it, Anita (Bondi beach), Rivareno (Surry Hills/Darlinghurst).
  20. GPO, Star Casino and various food courts. Allergies and food preferences. Still don’t know where to eat? Man, I seriously don’t understand what’s wrong with you… If you still didn’t find your match in this list you’re either too spoky, or have allergies or food preferences like veganism, etc. So, the GPO and Star Casino are both a good option for you, as they’re like a shopping centre about… Food. Restaurants, bars, cafès, etc. If you have problems with gluten, or are searching for any kind of allergy aware place, or are vegetarian or vegan, please check Balla’s restaurant at the Star Casino. The head chef is celiac and has a strong focus on it. Otherwise, just know that most of the restaurants usually have at least one vegan and one gluten free option. Please bear in mind to always tell your allergies to your bartender as well… As many cocktails contain eggwhite and some may be smoked with meats.
    If your problem is just to be looking for cheaper and ready-to-eat food, food courts are everywhere.

Want to dance?
I’m not a fan so I’m not the right person to ask to. But I know where my friends usually hang out.
Monday night at Civic, Raggae Music
Tuesday night at the Establishment, Latin Music
Wednesday night at El Topo Basement, DJ sets
Thursday night at Ivy
Friday-Saturday night, just EVERYWHERE
Sunday night, Sash

eau

Eau de Vie cocktail


A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • YOU WILL NEED AN IDENTITY DOCUMENT TO GET INTO MOST OF THIS PLACES. IF THEY SERVE ALCOHOL, YOU MUST BE 18 Y.O. AT LEAST, AND A PICTURE OF YOUR PASSPORT ON YOUR PHONE IS NOT A PROOF OF IDENTITY.
    If you don’t want to bring your passport around, go to a NSW centre and ask to have an Australian Identity Card. It’s as cheap as 55$ and it’s a cool memory to have with you for life.
  • DON’T GET DRUNK. YOU’LL GET KICKED OUT OF THE VENUE, I PROMISE YOU. THAT’S THE LAW. Your bartender will never risk a 11.000$ fine because you look pretty and you winked at him.
  • BE NICE AND TIP: tips are not mandatory in Australia, however it’s a sign that you appreciated the service and the food and drinks. Be nice to who is handling your food and drinks. They are working late nights for your fun. If they’re turning on the lights and shutting down the music, just thank and leave.
  • Don’t be an asshole and make silly complaints about irrelevant things. Noone really ruined your day. Why would you want to ruin other people’s ones? Someone has not been nice at you? Are you sure you didn’t push it, or asked for it? Even if the answer is yes, remember that hospo people are HUMANS, and can have bad days as well. BE NICE. ALWAYS.

Last but not least, I don’t own all the images in this article. All copyrights are from their owners, I took some of them on google and couldn’t detect exactly the owner. Some others are mine. This list is not meant to be OFFENDING ANYONE. Nothing is a fact, it’s just my irrelevant opinion as a guest. Please enjoy and drink responsably!
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Analisi del 2015

I folletti delle statistiche di WordPress.com hanno preparato un rapporto annuale 2015 per questo blog.

Ecco un estratto:

Un “cable car” di San Francisco contiene 60 passeggeri. Questo blog è stato visto circa 3.100 volte nel 2015. Se fosse un cable car, ci vorrebbero circa 52 viaggi per trasportare altrettante persone.

Clicca qui per vedere il rapporto completo.

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Analisi del 2014

I folletti delle statistiche di WordPress.com hanno preparato un rapporto annuale 2014 per questo blog.

Ecco un estratto:

Una metropolitana a New York trasporta 1 200 persone. Questo blog è stato visto circa 4.600 volte nel 2014. Se fosse una metropolitana di New York, ci vorrebbero circa 4 viaggi per trasportare altrettante persone.

Clicca qui per vedere il rapporto completo.

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10 AWESOME THINGS I REALISED DURING MY TRIP AROUND ASIA

10. To feel is something precious. You decided to leave, because you were not satisfied of what you had. Good. The lack of something is always what makes a passion grow, it’s normal. You miss something –> you want it, desire it –> there borns a new passion 😀 You were missing something? Lucky you. Lots of people don’t know how to use their time, because they don’t have passions… They always got soon whatever they wanted, they had nothing to desire. Being able to get everything you want immediately is a bad thing, not a good one. YOU WERE LUCKY, you had to fight to get what you wanted. This turned into strenght, will, patience, determination. In life, whatever is missing is never really “missing”. It always pays back, but you won’t see at the first sight where the balance goes to: it’s now in your personal skills.

9. To leave my country… It was scary but awesome to leave all my problems back, all my routine, all my comfort zone, all my known people. Back. But the sense of freedom you get in return is priceless. The satisfaction to think “bloody hell, I can’t believe that I did this. But yes, in the end, I did. I’m strong enough to survive! To live alone, to travel alone, not to need anybody else. Let’s say that you realise that you’ll always need someone, the “human contact and interaction”, but that you can start from point zero whenever you want. Feeling the power to be the only owner of your life and choices. To be able to change yourself and the world around you. Experiencing the awareness that “YOU OWN THE POWER” (a bit like in Matrix movie) is something that will change the way you’ll face your life from now on. This will never abandon you, that awareness is yours forever.

8. Astonishing landscapes. Mongolia is something not easy to describe, indeed. Wild, with no civilization around you for hundreds of miles. To experience what the true silence means. There is a point where you may think “oh shit, I’m alone in this world. There is no life around me”. And you may feel sick for this lack of energy to absorbe around you. Even the wind stopped blowing. But then, all of a sudden, you notice it: that small, little light of energy under your bare feet. That small, apparently insignificant insect under the ground, or the bird flying high in the sky. There is ALWAYS life surrounding us. Sun itself, earth itself, are forms of life. Feeling part of it may seem hippie, but it’s the simple truth. Even when you’ll feel abandoned and lonely, you will never be. The planet is by your side, always, with a hand on your shoulder. You just have to realise it. YOU ARE ALWAYS CONNECTED, NEVER ALONE.

7. The skies and the oceans. Used to yellow-orange-red sunsets, to figure out for the first time that a sunset can include pink, purple, deep blue, and essentially all the colours of the world, it’s something that can help you release all you bad thoughts. Especially if the experience is shared with special people. And the milky way? Yes, at home in a very clear night, you can (maybe) try to guess its location. But uhmmm, hell, you’re not sure at all. Oh yes, you can always look at that fabolous app on your mobile phone… Screw it. Forget it. Go to a desert, and look up to the sky. The milky way is as evident as your own breath. The air is cold but frizzy like never before. And what about the oceans? We all know how the surface may look like… C’mon, we all have had at least once some ocean wallpaper on our desktop, a picture of a friend as screensaver, or so on. But did you ever feel part of a ocean’s life? That was a marvellous experience to me. I felt like this was not my element, seriously, it was easier for me to jump down from an airplane with a parachute, 4200 mt from the ground, that going down just a ridiculous 15 mt. But still, despite of the anxiety, what I saw was worth it. THE WORLD WILL NEVER STOP TO SURPRISE YOU. But remember: the beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

6. Give up on having any kind of “goal” to reach during your trip. People usually start travelling with a thought like “I want to see THIS, I want to go THERE, I want to, I want to, I want to”. There is no other purpose in travelling, than… TRAVELLING. The simple joy of living, being owner of your life and time, making new experiences, testing yourself, pushing yourself, knowing new people, changing your life, improving who you are. There is a moment when you realise how all temples are the same, how churches are the same, how castles are the same… Of course they are NOT, but seeing another one won’t mean anything to you. You’d rather prefer to spend your day chilling in a park and looking at the people around you, or getting to know better your roommates or the local culture. Because the world is plenty of assholes, but all of them have something to teach you. Especially the lessons you don’t want to learn 🙂

5. There is a specific moment, that punctually arrives if you are open enough to recognize it, where you’ll think “holy crap, this stranger just did something for me that my best friend would never do for me”. And that’s the best thing to notice: THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. People who are so generous, so gentle, that they don’t want to hear that damned two words you want to say: thank you. People that don’t need them. Why? Because they don’t expect anything in return. And if you’ll try to ask them “why did you…?”, they’ll smile you back with their broken teeth and say “I have to thank you: you gave me the opportunity to do something good… THANK YOU!!”.

4. And point five leads us here, to point four 😀
In your previous life, you were surrounded by negativity: the social networks are nowaday a nest of envy, anger, and frustration, the news on tv only talks about corruption, murders, and how you don’t have to trust people because they are fucking insane. Everything is about business and money, that will lead you to consumerism with no respect for other people or nature, and to the unreachable stairs of success. Doing something with nothing in return? Oh no, that’s impossible, there must be a mistake… Maybe there was a trick you didn’t notice. I’m sure they will fuck you soon, deerie. Sorry. NOBODY does something to get anything back. Well, point 5 showed us this is WRONG. Of course, bad guys do exist, but there is plenty of amazing people around you, you just don’t know them yet.
And then, during your trip, you start seeing people that don’t need “the something back” to be happy, they don’t need to envy, to get frustrated, to reach the stairs of success. They are poor and they look miserable to you, because of what you see from the outside. But maybe you shall look miserable to them, for what they shall see from the inside, as you were just the reflection of your capitalist society at the beginning of your trip. Everybody is so caring about Ebola virus right now… Oh no, it’s killing so many innocent people! We all have to donate for the research, to stop it! Oh, really? Did you know how many innocents die every year for hunger, and there is a cure for this? But hunger it’s not contagious, so you don’t need to worry about it, right? So pathetic… And that’s the gift you earn in point 4: the awareness that they have been lying to you, all the time. That society wants you to envy, to hate, not to be happy and satisfied, not to realise that you need less than 100 objects (that can be packed in a 60 lt backpack) to live and TO BE HAPPY. Why? Because it’s profitable. And that’s all.

3. Also connected to points 5 and 4, you realise so that people can do amazing or truly horrible things. You knew it also before, I know… But if before you used to think that the average was zero point, and that people could go from -10 to +10, now you know that people can go from -100 to +100. And the difference is that now you know that YOU can go for +100 😀 We have truly few limits, and almost all of them are in our mind. They are not absolut limits, or, better, they are absolut only until you face and break them 🙂

2. And another thing you’ll gain during your trip: EMPATHY. Empathy has many different definitions that encompass a broad range of emotional states, including caring for other people and having a desire to help them; experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions; discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other.

1. There is NO END TO YOUR JOURNEY. Even if you’ll be back, the seed has been sown. You’ll keep growing, you’ll be searching for the truth wherever you’ll be, you’ll try to fight against the injustices you’ll find in your way (and the badasses ;))
Because what you learned (and learning to think) is like running a bike: once you learned, you never forget how it works. So, do you think you are the expert one and “oh no, not tourists again please, I don’t want to deal with the 15-days holiday tourists again”… Don’t you remember? Everybody has something to teach us. Do you think you saw everything in this world, because you left a footprint in each continent? Don’t you know that what you saw on Monday shall be seen also on Sunday, what you saw in daytime shall be seen also in nighttime, and that what you saw today shall be seen also tomorrow, because there won’t be the same people there? And even if there would still be the same people, they could be in different mood, or anyway they cannot be exactly the same as yesterday. Face the truth: you can’t see the whole world. And it doesn’t matter.  🙂

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10 AWFUL THINGS THAT HAPPENED DURING MY TRIP AROUND ASIA

10. Motorbike exhaust tattoo on my leg, Vietnam. A needle entered my leg for 5 cm, Gobi desert, Mongolia. A nail, in my right foot, was ripped off, Russia. Bedbugs scars everywhere, Myanmar and Thailand. The tam on my feet, zebra-style, has the shape of my trekking sandals.

Broken hair, sunburnt on my shoulders. Weird chess field on your back, explaining which kind of spaghetti blouse you had in every single day of your trip.

Beauty sometimes is not part of your travel plans.

9. Spending days eating chocolate biscuits and cheese crackers, because there’s nothing hygienic around you.

8. Sleeping in the same room with rats and cockroaches. Eating a dog and having to admit that it taste good. A toilet in China.

7. Scammers. Scammers. Scammers again.

6. The instinct fighting against you, during your first dive. Breathing underwater and calm down are two things hard to conciliate.

5. Having stomach / intestine problems. Puking your soul.

4. Handbag, with credit cards, money, PASSPORT, stolen by three policemen in Vietnam.

3. Missing people. Missing a place to stay, or a point of reference. Not knowing if you’re tired or travelling or you’re not, but for sure knowing that you don’t want to be back to your previous life.

2. Taking the wrong drug, or not dealing well with it.

1. Fearing to have malaria or rabies, or some other deadly disease.

 

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10 TIPS NOT TO GET KILLED IN A DORMITORY

1. …Leaving an alarm clock ringing for 20 minutes at 7.00 am in a dorm, it’s not really a nice idea. Shut this f*** thing down!

2. …Turning on the light (7.20 am), waking up everybody. You stupid creature, turn on the bathroom light, not your own! Or use your stupid Iphone for a clever purpose, for example using the torch app, as I see you have it!

3. …And prepare your backpack in the evening, when everybody is still awake, so you can sneak out fast and with no noise… Not in the morning, and taking one hour to do it, moving all the plastic bags you have inside!

4. If there’s written “Please don’t throw toilet paper in the wc”, that doesn’t mean that you have to do it, regret it, and so leave everything like this, thinking “the next person who will get there will manage the consequences instead of me”.

5. Don’t use other bed plugs when the other guest is around. Some people are just too shy (and polite) to ask you to move your stuff to charge their laptop, or camera, or phone.

6. If there’s a sign telling you to remove your shoes before entering, do it! People are often walking there with their bare feet, and don’t like to step on the mud you carried inside the hotel.

7. Don’t take 1 hour time to shower, only for chilling, at 8.00 am. Other people may need it before to take a bus, a tour, or start their day as well. And don’t leave your dead hair everywhere in the shower, throw them in the trash bin.

8. Don’t return to the hostel at 3 am, drunk, complaining about the fact that everybody is sleeping and you still want to party. They may kill you. You don’t know for how long they had been waiting for a proper bed.

9. Don’t be unfriendly and silent, or always looking at the internet. It’s a hostel, people get there to know more people, to make new friends. Let’s avoid to create a bad atmosphere, ok?

10. Stop complaining about hygiene. People can arrive from the worst countries, and probably had seen things much worse than that one.

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10 tricks to travel, what you need to know

1. Use couchsurfing. Seriously. It’s an Amazing way to travel, and not just a cheap option. It’s a human experience.

2. Travel slowly. It will be cheaper. Avoid flights, avoid urgent requests for visas. Take your time to check prices in at least 5-10 agencies for public transportation, for excursions, and take your time to ask to 5 hotels how much for a bed or a room.

3. Stay a bit out of the city centres. At walkable distance, let’s say. Food and accomodations are cheaper.

4. Download Mapswithme Pro on your mobile phone. Android 2.1 or more are required, it costs 5 dollars, but it will save you much more money (and time). Because everytime a tuctuc driver will tell you “No, it’s 7 km to the downtown” you can check if it’s true or not, and if it’s not and you want to walk, you’ll know the way.

5. Use hostelbookers or hostelworld or booking.com to check some hotels before your arrival. It’s Always good to have some names with you.

6. Use skype and wifi connections, what’s up, viber, email, whatever you want. Forget the rest.

7. Check WIKITRAVEL. It is your guru. It can tell you how much you should pay for that damned ticket you are searching for, or how is the cheapest way to do certain things. Check the rules to get around the country you are in, and what is cheaper (bus, train…?).

8. Check some travelblogs. Travelfish is a good one, OnewayticketPhil as well.

9. Seat61 is a good website to check all trains in the world. Skyscanner is good for flights.

10. Arm yourself with patience, good mood and have fun! 😀 Your enthusiasm is the thing you need the most to travel!

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Budget: what I spent before the departure (prices in Italy)

17/11/2012
Purchases Decathlon for the   journey (various and pants)
 €            134,05
08/12/2012 Buy Nikon D5200 in the website   of Dama Srl    €          714,99
08/12/2012 Buy Nikon lens 18-200 in   website Giga of Nicholas de Cristofaro  €          615,50
24/01/2013 Purchase battery pack + filters   + sdhc card in Aliexpress.com  €            50,00
29/01/2013 Buy Salomon hiking shoes in   Longoni Sport sport  €            99,95
30/01/2013 Sleeping bag Ferrino Lightec   700W in Bikesportadventure.com  €          165,89
01/03/2013 Vaccines against tetanus,   typhoid, hepatitis A    €            75,50
15/05/2013 North Face jacket bought in   Sport Time shop    €          199,00
29/05/2013 Vaccines yellow fever,   meningitis    €            24,00
24/06/2013 Cholera vaccines, polio booster    €            26,79
02/08/2013 Cholera vaccine    €            19,85
03/08/2013 Trekking sandals Lizard to   Sport Specialist (3 years warranty)  €            59,96
04/08/2013 Malaria prophylaxis    €          120,00
05/08/2013 Stamp duty for passport    €            40,29
05/08/2013 Health insurance   Europassistance year until 08/31/14  €          507,00
13/08/2013    8 passport photos         €            10,00
       
  TOTAL    €         2.862,77
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Mantua

Mantua

The city where I grew up….

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My fantasy blog (in italian language)

My fantasy blog (in italian language)

BENVENUTI NEL MIO REGNO, MAGICIANS!! Qui potrete postare, condividere opinioni, comunicare con persone divorate dalla vostra stessa passione: il Fantasy!!! Discussioni su libri, cinema, manga, anime, collezionismo, gadgets, link utili, immagini, news… TUTTO QUESTO E MOLTO DI PIÙ, MA SOLO QUI, IN MAGICIANS KINGDOM!

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