Tag Archives: photography

HEADED WEST

I have a feeling this summer is going to be the summer of road trips. I just returned from two back-to-back weekend road trips, and it’s surprising how inexpensive and accessible these kinds of trips can be. The first weekend was spent driving west with my sister from Colorado to California, and the second was heading south with a couple of girlfriends from Colorado to New Mexico. As long as you have good company, a full tank of gas, a backseat filled with snacks, a trendy/affordable Airbnb, and a wish list of places to see, it’ll be a successful roadie adventure. Here are my go-to recommendations if you happen to road trip this summer!

NEVADA
In N’ Out Burger
Old-fashioned burgers, french fries, and milkshakes. You can think of it as “fast food”, but the quality is everything the opposite of typical fast-food. A must if you need a bite on the road, or if you’ve simply never had In N’ Out before! You’ll thank me.
Seven Magic Mountains
Just imagine Candy Land in the middle of the desert. Just off of Highway 15, south of Las Vegas is Ugo Rondinone’s art installation of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders each scaling over 30 feet high. A beautiful burst of color after spending hours in the car. It’ll be worth the pullover.

CALIFORNIA
Balboa Island, Newport, CA
Tucked in the harbor of Newport Beach is the tiny community called Balboa Island. We spent the morning walking around the farmer’s market, exploring the quaint shops and restaurants, and watching the surfers from the pier. There is also a boardwalk and a ferry on the island which is more of a peninsula. It was a nice hidden gem away from the hustle & bustle of California weekenders.
Tabu Shabu, Costa Mesa, CA
O-M-G. Forget sushi and ramen and sashimi. Tabu Shabu is the new way to explore traditional Japanese cuisine. This style of fondue or “hot pot” allows you to cook thinly sliced meat and vegetables in your own pot of boiling broth (usually tonkatsu or miso), dipping into homemade ponzu and goma sauces, and accompanied by rice, ramen, or udon noodles. I have always loved Japanese cuisine, but I became quickly obsessed with shabu shabu! So much so, that I begged my sister and brother-in-law to go twice in the same weekend that I visited them. 2 times in 3 days. And I savored every frickin’ bite!
The Crack Shack, Costa Mesa, CA
If you like Chick Fil A, (or chicken sandwich in general), you’ll go nuts over The Crack Shack! Simply one of the tastiest chicken sandwiches and french fries I’ve had in years. I recommend The Firebird and Schmaltz fries. Great weekend treat for a casual lunch or dinner.
Fashion Island, Newport, CA
Explore Orange County’s premier shopping center at Fashion Island. My sister lives down the street from it and it was an endless promenade of shops and restaurants. Not to mention the largest Anthropologie I’ve ever been in! (I actually managed to get lost inside) It’s a great way to spend the afternoon if you need some retail therapy or quick eats.

NEW MEXICO
The Plaza, Santa Fe, NM
The Plaza is the heart of Santa Fe with its rich history, beautiful churches, authentic restaurants, and endless art galleries/jewelers. The soul of New Mexico is portrayed everywhere with beautiful turquoise jewelry, vibrant art, rich food, stucco/adobe inspired buildings, and cultured people. I couldn’t get enough of the squash-blossom necklaces, long horn skull heads, chili-infused cuisine, and colorful pottery.
Kakawa Chocolate House, Santa Fe, NM
Sadly I didn’t have the chance to visit Kakawa Chocolate House, but I can’t tell you how many blogs/websites mentioned this place when I was researching places to visit in Santa Fe. So it must be good. From what I gather, Kakawa specializes in handmade chocolates, chile chocolates, chocolate drinks, and chocolate elixirs. I heard it’s the perfect afternoon treat. And a sweet reason for me to go back to Santa Fe one day.
Paloma, Santa Fe, NM
Hands down, Paloma was the best dining experience we had during our weekend in New Mexico. This stunning kitchen & bar is intimate, vibrant, and offers an incredible menu. Mexican-inspired with an exotic twist. The staff is extremely welcoming and friendly, the service was flawless, and the food was simply outstanding. A beautiful representation of Santa Fe cuisine with a lovely atmosphere. Highly recommend for a great meal!
Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, NM
I don’t even know how to begin to describe Meow Wolf. In short, Santa Fe is not really known for it’s night-life, so the young and eager go to Meow Wolf for entertainment. A venue filled with unique and mind-blowing art installations that will push your mind beyond reality. Someone best described it as “part haunted house, part fun house, part acid trip”. I felt like I was in a 2-hour episode of Stranger Things. If you are ever in Santa Fe, you MUST go. It’s a beautifully overwhelming and fascinating experience.

Have fun road-tripping this summer! xx

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TRIBE

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”

No words. Just two best friends frolicking in an empty field to bid farewell to summer. Those are the best kinds of friends and the best kinds of evenings.

xx

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HAVANA DIARIES: PART III

As I reflect back on my time spent in Havana, the most lingering feeling is how much Cuba surprised me. I remember in the middle of the trip while cruising in a vintage car, my best friend said, “I feel nostalgia for a time I was never a part of. A simpler time.” Havana was a time-machine for us. A chance for us to visit the 50’s, to ride around in old-fashioned cars, to see people interact organically without technology getting in the way. We wandered aimlessly through the streets of Old Havana, stayed content off-the-grid, and were fully present while absorbing the Cuban culture. To me, that was the best part of the trip.

Along with this, there were a few other highlights. A few places that were planned ahead of time, and some that we simply stumbled upon. For future visitors, be sure to make time for these places! I promise, it will enhance your trip [and you can thank me later].

Book Market in Plaza de Armas (Old Havana)
Don’t let the words “Book Market” defer you. This ain’t no outdoor library. It’s more of a vintage market buried in Plaza de Armas, but locals will refer to it as the “book market”. A handful of vendors will gather to offer antique and vintage goods for unbeatable prices. You can find anything from vintage cameras to cigar labels, stamps, old and new books including Hemingway, vintage postcards, jewelry, etc. I bought a vintage film camera for only $25 CUC!
La Floridita (Old Havana)
Buried in Old Havana is La Floridita – home to Hemingway’s favorite daquiri. He claimed it was the best in the world. Once inside, it is jam-packed with tourists. I actually never enjoyed a drink, but it was a beautiful old-fashioned  restaurant/bar to see. Hemingway’s bar stool is still inside, protected by a velvet rope. No touch-ee.
Fabrica de Arte Cubano (F.A.C) (Nuevo Vedado)
This former cooking oil factory is now a well-curated art exhibition and entertainment club in Nuevo Vedado. F.A.C. is easily the most impressive venue/nightclub I have ever visited, far from the nightclubs we are used to in the US. This multi-level venue is an endless display of creative work, music, local influence, and innovative architecture. AND, there are multiple bars! I enjoyed the largest mojito I’d ever seen; it was literally served in what looked like a flower vase. A truly remarkable place to see a younger, edgier, emerging Cuba.
Paladar La Guarida (Central Havana)
Hands down, the most stunning rooftop bar I’ve ever seen. The unassuming entrance into the building off of a run-down street in Central Havana invites you into a truly magical place. The building, originally known as La Mansión Camagüey, remains historic with its magnificent wooden entrance door and marble staircase up the two flights of stairs to the restaurant itself. At the top, you’ll have the most breathtaking views of Havana and lovely rooftop seating. Their menu also offers tasty nibbles and delicious cocktails.
Coppelia Ice Cream (La Habana)
Coppelia is the ice cream parlor chain of Cuba. Like our Dairy Queen, but cuter. Cheap ice cream, served in old-fashioned 1960’s ice cream cups. Need I say more?
Hotel Parque Central (Old Havana)
Next to Central Park and short walk from the National Capital, the rooftop bar at Hotel Parque Central had equally if not the most stunning views than all of the rooftops we visited in Havana. This beautiful historic hotel maintained its Spanish-colonial charm combined with modern amenities. The staff is extremely welcoming and friendly, and invites non-hotel guests to their rooftop bar. The bar is pool-side and has a wonderful menu of affordable cocktails and food. We devoured two Margherita pizzas. Random, but SO good!
The Malecón (Havana)
There is almost no other place to see more of Havana’s soul than walking along the long stretched Malecón. This boulevard runs nearly 8km along the coast of Havana, from the historical center (Habana Vieja) to residential Vedado. Between the charming buildings and endless sight of vintage cars, the Malecón is a resume of Havana’s history. The Malecón, which translates to “pier”, will give you the real feeling of Havana, and is a prime spot for sunsets.

 

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lost and found

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I found a very old film cartridge the other day. A while ago my good friend and fellow blogger, ladyslider, had a series on “forgotten film” and it sparked my memory – I had a film cartridge in my vintage Canon camera that was 7 years old. I had completely forgotten that it was there. And I don’t know why I never developed the film. I guess I thought that I had lost it? But I remembered exactly what that film was bought for, and I had to retrieve the memories from it.

It was March 2007. I was living in Hawaii and I took a weekend trip to Maui with a few good friends after we scored some low flight prices. I don’t even remember bringing my camera with me, but I remember using it. This vintage Canon camera belonged to my father and he gave it to me after I expressed interest in photography. At first, I thought it didn’t work. It sat in my room and collected dust as a “decorative antique” [sorry, dad…] But once I found out that it could still take film, it became my favorite accessory. It was my first “real” camera.

 Sadly, most of the film was exposed. I would have loved to see what were on those photos. But I actually adore the ones that were salvaged. I love the grainy texture. I love the faded colors. I love remembering that entire trip. And I love that they are physical prints that I can touch and hold and keep. I miss the days when the only option we had was to develop film. I miss waiting anxiously at the store for them to be developed. Everything is so cold and digital now.

Might have to get back into film… Getting back into old things and old ways.

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