My heart belongs somewhere in Andalucia and I have an affinity for anything related to Spanish culture – the food, the people, music and fashion. While the celebration of Cinco de Mayo is based on a historical event (the battle of Pueblo Mexico), I thought it would be fun to give you a few creative ideas to celebrate.
And last but not least, perhaps you want to enjoy some Spanish cuisine whilst wishing upon that Super Moon – check out some Mexican dining options via BlogTO.
May 5, 2012 No Comments
For me, part of the allure of travelling is learning about the cultural roots of a destination. It is most intriguing to discover the daily rituals of long-lost inhabitants and about the historical influences that shaped the culture of present day. Granada, a city tucked in Southern Spain retains much of its Moorish heritage with its winding streets, dusty stone masonry and arab souks. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the majesty of ancient Granada continues to inspire awe and wonder.
Alhambra – Perched atop a hilltop vista, the entrance to the vast grounds of the Alhambra is a steep hour & a half trek uphill. Book your ticket a week in advance as entry is regulated to half hour intervals and regularly sells out weeks in advance. To make the most of your tour, take at least a half day to stroll the grounds in their entirety. From the glorious vibrant zilij and ornamental inscriptions of the Nasrid palaces, to the lush gardens of Generalife and the panoramic tower views of the city, there is much natural beauty to take in on your excursion.
The Arab Baths – Take a brief tour of the remains of the Banos Arabes, a non-descript building which leads into many ancient adjoining chambers housing steam rooms and communal baths. Stare aimlessly at the interesting ceilings accented by rays of sunshine gleaming through the star motif carvings. Then book a relaxing traditional arab bath at The Hammam of Granada, quietly nestled in the Albaicin. Enjoy an early evening doing the water circuit (cold, tepid and hot followed by a steam) and sample a cup or two of refreshing Morrocan tea in your bikini. Glide onto the streets with your post-spa high, recline on a fountain while sampling a new flavour of gelato. ‘Tis life!
Alcaiceria – Due to Spain’s proximity to Northern Africa and the Middle East, there are many exotic influences that continue to dominate the city landscape. The Alcaiceria, once the Moorish silk bazaar, now houses numerous souvenir shops. Brightly woven textiles, tooled leather purses, Morrocan teacups, evil eyes, filigree lanterns and harem pants can be purchased in the narrow lanes (a gypset’s heaven on earth).
June 27, 2011 1 Comment
If there was a type of attire, I would most love to wear year-round it’s definitely Resort. Why, you ask? Well, it would mean perennial vacation on beachy shores in warm climates. Dreamy, right? Hot on the heels of my proclamation that Mallorca is the classier, more stylish sister of Ibiza, I bring you the inside scoop on her well connected, wealthy cousin Marbella. A coastal town situated on the Costa del Sol, Marbella rivals its neighbours in glitz; once known to be Spain’s answer to Monte Carlo, it is an enclave of the rich and chi-chi poo poo, vacation home of movie stars and Arab gajillionaires. Past decades have seen its decline but it is quietly making a comeback as a jetset destination.
While some detractors claim that the beaches are overrun with hen parties and Chavs, the charm of Marbella lies in the maze of shop-lined streets in Old Town, the scenic boardwalk and the local bodegas that serve authentic tapas. Here you will find Spaniards and European visitors alike reclining on bistro chairs, slowly taking in the scenery while sipping on a generous glass of vino blanco. Watch the sun set at the Deportivo Martimo in the many outdoor bars overlooking the bay or listen to the DJ spin chill out mixes at Puro Beach or Nikki Beach.
June 20, 2011 No Comments
While it’s no surprise that Floral has made a return this Summer as a print that adorns many a top, bottom or dress, it’s the way in which you interpret your flowers that makes the bold difference. Through my travels, there appeared to be a “go big or go home” trend on the streets and in the magazines, with PYT’s (pretty young things) pairing various garden motifs in one ensemble. Daring, yes. Impossible, no!
Let me impart some loving words of wisdom on the matter:
- Clash of the Rhododendrons – In nature, it is common to see lillies growing alongside roses and daisies. Actually, it is quite lovely when you observe the wildness of these disparate florals come together. Very English garden. Alas, I digress. Why not try a chiffon top in miniscule pattern with a maxi skirt in an abstract? To subtley reduce the visual tension of these prints, keep the fabrics in the same family (ie. silky or chiffon) or try colours that sit adjacent to each other on the colour wheel (ie. red-purple-blue). Another trick to soften the look is to wear a few solid colours in between – a simple ribbed tank top, a camel coloured belt, a neutral wedge, etc.
- This Old Thing – Florals have a vintage-y sentiment attached to them. If you feel ill prepared to have blossoms running wild all over your outfit, try accessorizing with a gauzy scarf, a dainty cocktail ring or a cabbage rose sitting atop your very chic chignon. Oh yes, I am campaigning very adamantly for a giant floral headdress revival. Wait for it!
June 15, 2011 No Comments
My quiet desire to travel to Andalucia had been growing for a while; the feeling tugged at my heart more persistently as time progressed. Perhaps the greatest impetus for me to submit was the revelation that Feria de Abril (April Fair), a week long cultural festival in Seville would take place in early May this year. There would be no more hesitation. I took it as a sign from the heavens that the time to leave would be now.
While many guidebooks pronounce southern Spain as the most Spanish of travel encounters, being present for Feria is an experience that validates this sentiment. Throngs of Spaniards descend on the city to celebrate their heritage, music and flamenco dance. The air takes on a vibrant energy as festival goers revel in opulent traditional garb and do a slow procession taking to the stone promenades or proudly showing off in horse-drawn carriages. Hundreds of brightly hued casetas (tents) are erected on the Feria grounds by prominent families or associations. These are embellished to the nine’s with chandeliers, draped with gauzy fabrics, paintings, furnished with gilded chairs and filled to the brim with musicians, dancers and partygoers wine glass in hand. Have you heard? The Spanish love to party. Adjacent to the tents are amusement rides, playground foods and games. Imagine the wonderful sight of women dressed in flamenco outfits and boys in suits riding the Tilt A Whirl! Only at Feria!
Whilst integrating ourselves into the festivities, perhaps one of the best parts is getting dressed for such an occasion. Your outfit is not complete without a form fitting dress accented with ruffles, fringe, pom-poms, a hair accessory such as a haircomb (peineta), a lace head dress (mantilla) or a colourful giant rose propped on top of your head. My travel companion A and I became skirt chasers during the evenings, pursuing Spanish beauties through the streets for the honour of their photograph. Having primped the better party of the day, many were flattered and obliging. Let’s take a look, shall we?
June 12, 2011 2 Comments
Last month, after a prolonged period of all work, minimal play, I decided to throw caution to the wind and book a plane ticket. One week, I was here, the next week, I was off. Seems impulsive, non? But I am young and free…at least in my heart. Eager for adventure and inspiration, I travelled armed with my sketchbook and just the right 2B pencil. After an extended sabbatical galavanting through parts of Europe, I finally returned home.
What I experienced was the high of travel - sampling local cuisine, strolling zig-zag pathways through cobbled boroughs, soaking in the history of ancient buildings, immersing myself in the arts, watching dance performances and meeting fellow travellers. For me, there is no greater luxury than taking a timeout to travel. It expands our global perspective, awakens our senses and teaches us to appreciate our blessings. For me, my innate cultural curiosity is an itch that needs to be scratched on a yearly basis.
In my next few posts, I hope to share some of the excitement of my trip – from the heat and grandeur of the Feria de Abril in Seville, to the opulence of the Alhambra in Granada. My journey took me to tiny hilltop towns in Andalucia and the cosmopolitan city streets of London and Copenhagen. From international fashions to hidden gems and experiences not to be missed, I will give you insights to fashionistah travel without smashing your piggy bank (aka shoe fund). In telling my fanciful tales, I hope to ignite your dreams of white beaches, cerulean seas and destinations off the beaten track.
Travel, especially when it is outside of your comfort zone is not always easy. But let me just say, that I asked the universe to support me on my trip. Whenever I needed aid lugging my suitcase up a flight of stairs (because there is nary an elevator in Europe), a kind stranger appeared to offer their assistance. More on that later dearies.
Stay tuned… xo The LC
June 10, 2011 No Comments