Ellen Von Unwerth

3 Months ago my little sister and I embarked on a 4 week-long road trip around part of America. It was the culmination of months of planning, daydreaming and excitement. For my sister the road trip was a stop over on the way to her new life in Monaco, France.

I think there is no better way to recharge your batteries than to go on a trip with family, a best friend or similar. It flips everything back up the right way, it’s like a sigh of relief.

My sister is my sigh of relief. Always.

As long as I live, I’ll never forget the sight of her walking through the gates at LAX. I was finally reunited with my favorite person in the world; my Sister-friend.

The trip started in Los Angeles with a rain-soaked drive up the PCH to Morro Bay for our first night. We were both horribly hung over, and I was exhausted from concentrating to stay on the correct side of the road, so we were in bed early (not the stuff of great road trip stories right?) The next day we spent another rain-soaked morning exploring Hearst Castle and being totally amazed by the sheer opulence, it was truly beautiful, and it’s always fun to pretend you are a princess for a morning.

Next stop was San Francisco, a truly gorgeous city with a fun vibe. We spent most of our time eating, drinking, looking at buildings and walking around. I’ll be heading back there sometime soon for sure.

We then flew to Bellingham, Washington for our first ever Christmas with our American family! It was such a special time, and so lovely to spend quality time with our Grandparents, we still talk it about it all the time and it really goes to show how very precious family time is. We also had a rollicking great time with our ‘American brothers’ who are friends from waaaaay back, resulting in a fab night out in Seattle, drinking Sweet Tea shots at Kells bar near Pike Place Markets (if you haven’t been, then go!)

The second part of the trip began with New Year’s eve in Las Vegas. We had sinful amounts of fun, stayed at the MGM and loved it. We ended up hanging out with a couple of Australian guys we met one night, so that was great fun too. We basically spent the whole time drinking, dancing, laughing, gambling, walking around, eating and sleeping. I don’t think there is anything else you can do in Vegas right? The New Year was brought in on the strip underneath Planet Hollywood, it was a magical moment; fireworks, my sister, new friends, a gigantic pink drink, glitter and laughter. We had done it, it was one of those “Holy shit this is really happening moments.” Pure happiness. I knew then that 2011 was going to be a great year, a new start in foreign new places for my sister and I. Needless to say there was toast to ‘being scared shitless but doing it anyway.’

We left Vegas for the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. We had just missed a massive snow storm so it was pretty icy and scary to drive on, but with my sister’s encouragement I did it! Sister power will conquer all things, including the elements. The Canyon was phenomenal…and big, yes I know but really, that thing is HUGE! I would recommend making the trip there, it’s totally awe-inspiring. We then had a long 9 hour drive ahead of us to get to Silver City, New Mexico. The road stretched on and on, and I’ve never seen small towns like the ones we came across! I swear, many people in these places had never heard of New Zealand, making my sister and I feel like some kind of rare exotic bird, it was truly hilarious! Silver City was gorgeous, small and just what our poor broken bodies needed after our time in Vegas. We ate organic salads the whole time, didn’t touch a drop of alcohol and had the best time with our family, we spent our last night at a folk concert in a place called Pino Altos at a 100-year-old Opera house. It was so stunning! I want to return and drink Martini’s again! It was a gorgeous time and the city is so quant and charming.

The last part of the trip was a night in Tucson Arizona followed by a night in Phoenix. We screwed up our reservation in Tucson and headed straight to Phoenix, stopping at the Desert museum along the way, that place is so cool, miles and miles of Desert and cool animals, like nothing I’ve seen before! Luckily we took a wrong turn on our way to Phoenix and drove through the Saguaro Cactus forest, now that was a sight!

I won’t mention Phoenix because it was the last night of the trip so it was sad anyways, but it was also a totally miss-able city. In fact, I would say most of Arizona is totally miss-able, I think it’s the type of place where you need to know the locals to get to the cool spots. Or it’s just complete shit.

Back to LA where we had a blast; a day at the Santa Anita races, bike riding at Venice beach (on matching pink bikes no less!) Cocktails, giggling, sightseeing and relaxing by the pool.

It was time for My sister to leave for France. My baby sister was leaving to live in a foreign country on her OWN. She had left her boyfriend, her life, her family and was doing it, she made her dream come true. How gutsy is that? I’ve never been more proud and sad at the same time. I had grown accustomed to having her by my side day and night, I felt like I could breathe confidently again, like it was all OK as long as she was there, I’m fine on my own, quite content actually, but there is something so comforting and special about the bond between my sister and myself, I honestly feel like I can be my whole self when she’s there.

So now she’s done it. She’s happy and loving her life in France. She left everything that was known to her and shook the fucking daylights out of her life. She refused to compromise on her happiness so she went for it, ran head first into the unknown and now she’s killing it. She’s smiling, happy, meeting great new people, being her charming gorgeous self and no doubt enchanting more people than I care to imagine.

My darling girl, the trip was so precious, you are so full of life and light that I can’t even articulate it properly.

You are the love of my life.

Big Sis xx

P.S It’s you and me, always.


To my Darling Sister

December 23, 2009

“Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize. Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks. Borrow. Break. Monopolize the bathroom. Are always underfoot. But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there. Defending you against all comers.” – Pam Brown

I Love you.

Day 5, Ugh

November 2, 2009


I write this sitting in my sisters flat, in the spare room/cupboard.

I used to live in this flat, and this room used to be his office – the irony of this didn’t strike me until 3 days after I had moved in, there was no chance of sleep that night. This pissed me off because I was actually attempting to sleep unaided by alcohol or the heavy tranquilizers my Mum had given me. So, I popped a pill and waited for sleep to give my lonely shoulders a hug, and it must have because I did wake up eventually, albeit groggy and disorientated.

I absolutely love that blissful 3 seconds when you wake up and you don’t remember what’s happened, then reality comes along, cautiously taps you on the shoulder and says (very politely I might add) “good morning, sorry to bother you, but I’ve got some quite shit news….”

Here is what runs through my head in the next 10 seconds:

He cheated,

It’s real

We broke up

He isn’t attracted to me anymore (yes, he actually said this)

Am I really that fat?

I think I have a pretty face

Must go to the gym today

I have to work

Please don’t cry at my desk again.

I want my Mum

Would Holly marry me?

How did he do that?

It’s real

It’s real

It’s REAL.

I wish I wasn’t sad

The day wears on, I go to work, it rains, I laugh a few times which was really nice, and my friend Laura from work buys me Miso soup (I have only just started eating again and it was DE -LISH.) It turns out Vodka isn’t the breakfast (or lunch or dinner) of champions, it’s the breakfast of the broken hearted. I really had to get on.

I heard that He had gone through two bottles of Whiskey and other various things over the weekend, that’s a mammoth effort even for him “Hello path of destruction, I might take a stroll if you wouldn’t mind.”

I have to mention here that my girlfriends Holly, Ella, Jessica and my sister Chloe saved my life on that awful day. They ditched work, let me cry, fed me Vodka, took it away again,  packed me up, and then installed me in the spare cupboard at Chloe and Jessica’s flat – even though I’m horribly anally retentive to live with, and bossy.

Chloe is the best sister ever. For a few days I felt like I could breathe again with her by my side, she was the only person I wanted to talk to. I even suggested she try and work remotely and come and sit at my desk with me…a completely unrealistic request – the wonderful thing is that she tried to make it happen, no questions asked.