All posts by Mimi McFadden

Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.

Escaping From the Krakow Salt Mines – the Oldest Salt Mine in the World

Krakow salt mines | Poland Travel

Note: this post contains affiliate links

One of the most unique experiences I had in Poland was escaping from the Krakow Salt Mines, also known as the oldest salt mine in the world.

If you want to experience the Krakow Salt Mines – I’d recommend experiencing them through this tour

I backpacked through Europe a couple years ago, and one of the most unique (and unsettling) experiences I had was exploring the Krakow, Poland Salt Mines.

Here is my take on the Medieval city and its salt mines.

Krakow – the land of cobblestones, horse-drawn carriages, and post offices in old school buggies. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about Krakow before visiting, but I found myself enamored by the relatively small and historical city.

My most notable story by far was exploring the salt mines in Krakow, Poland, the oldest in the world and in operation for over 700 years.

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Postcard From the Queen Victoria Market

One of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Melbourne – the Queen Victoria Market.

I’ve always been a fan of farmers markets back home. As a California girl, I’m blessed with a vast amount of local and organic produce at my disposal, and I’ve always held to the steadfast belief in shopping locally when you can.

So, it came as no surprise that one of my favorite activities in Melbourne is exploring the Queen Victoria Market.

Melbourne is known for many things – a melting pot of different nationalities, the culture and music capital of Australia, its expansive gardens that can be found throughout the city, and even its wide array of markets.

And the big daddy of Melbourne markets is the Queen Victoria Market, located in the CBD.

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7 Ways to Spend the Winter Months in Melbourne

How to best enjoy the colder months in Melbourne, even when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate.

It’s easy to get down in winter, with cold and overcast weather, shorter days, and lower energy. I’m about to go into my second winter thanks to the seasons being opposite in Australia (thankfully those are California and Australia winters). So, I thought it would be good to write about how I keep busy on winter days since I’ve had a lot of them lately.

Here are the ways I spend my days in Melbourne, before spending my nights working at a cozy bar in the city.

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Tales From My First Footy Match in Melbourne

Experiencing the popular world of ‘footy’ with a local in Melbourne.

When I met avid Carlton Blues fan, Will, through a few mutual friends last weekend, I knew I couldn’t turn down his offer to take me to my first footy game ever. I heard about this mythical “footy” game back in the States, but had no idea what to make of it.

I found it to be a mixture of a variety of sports.

The field is in the shape of an oval like cricket, tackling is allowed like rugby, you kick the ball to pass and score like soccer, but you catch the ball with your hands like American football, and it has the pace and excitement of basketball, as well as its own set of unique AFL rules.

In my opinion, the best parts of all these different sports were combined to make the ultimate Australian sport, also known as the Australian Football League, AFL, or footy.

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Postcard From the Streets of Melbourne

A look at the colorful streets of Melbourne, my new home in Australia.

I’ve spent the last week and a half job hunting, walking through every street, nook, cranny, and alleyway, or so it seems. But everyday I wake up and walk some more, and I’m always surprised with what I find, there’s always some hidden treasure to find in Melbourne.

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Happy (Almost) ANZAC Day!

My first ANZAC Day, learning about World War History Australia. 

Over drinks with an Aussie friend, I was talking about my birthday and how it usually falls around Memorial Day weekend. She looked at me blankly, clearly having no idea what I was referencing. Oh right, Memorial Day is an American holiday.

It’s so strange when you make those realizations abroad, that aspects that are such an institution in your culture, such as public holidays, aren’t recognized in other countries. Although I must say, one of the best Fourth of July’s I’ve had was actually in an American holiday.

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And My Favorite Place in Melbourne is…

The Carlton Gardens.

My place of peace in the city. I’ve noticed myself drawn here almost every day since I first discovered these gardens a little over a week ago when I first arrived.

Back in San Diego, my favorite spot was Black’s Cliffs, with views of the calming ocean tides below and the freeing paragliders above.

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Being Alone vs. Being Lonely as a Solo Female Traveler

The sounds and smells of the city surround me as I walk the streets. Someone’s performing at an outdoor stage around the corner for the comedy festival that’s in town.

The scent of Malaysian food wafts towards me as I cross the road. A street musician plays the riff of one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, ironically called, “Never Going Back Again”.

The tram whirls past me and comes to a stop. A mass of bodies push past me. I jump on just before the doors close and I jolt to another part of the city. I aimlessly wonder the streets as I go, looking for work or something intriguing to catch my eye or take up my time for today.

This is how I spend my days, alone in the sprawling city of Melbourne. It’s something I’m adjusting to. I’m used to always having someone to call or to hang out with. I’m used to all my friends and family back in the States being there for me in person, or at least in the same time zone.

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Australia Compared to the US, from a California Girl’s Perspective

Australia Compared to the US, from a California Girl's Perspective

Australia compared to the US, from a California girl’s perspective. Discover what it is really like to live Down Under.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

I wake up every morning with calves that are more sore than the day before. Since moving from California to Australia, I have walked for hours every day to get a feel for the layout of the city, especially in the CBD, Fitzroy, and St. Kilda because those are the neighborhoods I’ll most likely end up working in.

I moved to Australia from California to answer the question that has been in my mind for years, “what is it like to live in Australia?” As I explore the city, I have been absorbing the Australian culture and I’m quickly learning the answer to that question and discovering what life is like in Australia compared to the US. There are a lot of differences between Australia and America, and I am very eager to embrace them all.

Yesterday, I had an Aussie come up and ask me directions, and I actually gave him the right ones to get to his desired destination! That moment is when I realized how much I’ve internalized about the city since arriving at the beginning of the week.

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My First 36 Hours in Melbourne

A look at my first day and a half in Melbourne, Australia – my home base for the next 6 months or more.

My first 36 hours in Australia have been wonderful, yet trying and tiring, and full of hilarious fails that I’ll just label as “new experiences.”

It started when I got to my apartment and it looked like a closed up store front. The door was locked and the windows looked as if they hadn’t seen daylight in months.

When I called my housemate, a little panicked that I was given the wrong address or that this place didn’t exist, he instructed me that the actual door to the apartment was just around the corner, the next door down.

Phew, I let out a huge sigh of relief.

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