IMG_4661.3Lisbon tile CollageIMG_4706.2.krIMG_4655-Recovered.krIMG_4667.2.krIMG_4719-Recovered.krIMG_4701IMG_4660IMG_4725-Recovered.krIMG_4737.krIMG_4733IMG_4610.krLisbon architecture CollageIMG_4629.2.krOutside Lisbon CollageIMG_4806.krIMG_4787.2.krIMG_4812-Recovered.krIMG_4786.krIMG_4767.kr“Lisbon is such a calm city. We make sure to stay here a week every year,” said the random elderly couple right next to us at the hotel breakfast. They then proceeded to gripe about America (telling us we didn’t look like your usual Americans so we’re ok) and talk about quack theories. But their comments on Lisbon stuck with me, because there’s probably no better way to describe it. Lisbon is a calm city. And all this despite being the capital of Portugal and its largest city, with plenty of history and beautiful, bright houses. It just hums with that quiet confidence of someone who knows their worth and won’t change a damn thing.

Lisbon was the starting place of the 12-day tour of Spain and Portugal that took us to Lisbon, all over Andalusia, and finished in Madrid. (Photos incoming) It was whirlwind, but we saw so much and now I have some pointers about what’s worth exploring in more detail. Lisbon – and Portugal in general – probably tops that list. We only had two days there, but I loved it! We set out to the Castelo de Sao Jorge first, to catch amazing views of Lisbon and the Tejo. Then we skipped over to get a pasteis de nata (little egg custard tarts), which I’ve only ever had in Paris at a Portuguese café (these were much better). The medievalist in me quickly honed in on the Carmo Convent, a medieval cathedral that was partially destroyed in the horrific earthquake of 1755. The Romantics left the ruins relatively untouched and now it’s a cool museum and a great photo opp.

The next day we had more of a structured tour, walking around the neighborhoods of Alfama and Baixa, ending with a visit to Belem and its famous tower. After a trip to Sintra and Cascais (photos to come later) we were back in time to stroll to the waterfront and watch the sun set over the river as some seriously talented guy made sculptures out of sand (it almost seems like a shared pastime with Spain, because in Torremolinos there were some serious sand castles with moving toy trains and painted designs).

We’ve only barely scratched the surface of this beautiful city and this beautiful country, so I can’t wait to be back! I’ve heard Porto is a great place to go in the north and then the beaches of the Algarve call. Hope you enjoy the photos!

A FEW TIPS

Hotel Mundial Lisbon

Praça Martim Moniz 2, 1100-341

The main draw is the central location as well as the rooftop bar with amazing views of both the Castelo (beautifully lit up at night) and the rest of Lisbon.

Hotel Solar Dos Mouros

R. do Milagre de Santo António 6, 1100-351

Close to the Castelo on your way down. It’s inside a hotel, but the restaurant had a separate entrance. Delicious spreads and refreshing sangria – but the views on the terrace are some of my favorites.

If you’re into it, pick up a few cork products and some tinned sardines and maybe some tiles. I couldn’t get too crazy with the home decorating, as I am renting in NY, but a girl can dream…

(Funny story, had to buy some plates for the apartment and ducked into west elm only to find their new line of reactive glaze plates made in – you guessed it – Portugal. Of course I bought some.)

Postcards from CharlestonAngel Oak artisteIMG_3431.krIMG_3465.krIMG_3469.krIMG_3530.2.krIMG_3527.krCharleston triptychIMG_3523.krIMG_3511.2.kr

Invariably, once every other issue, Conde Nast World Traveler magazine will sing the praises of Charleston, SC. After so much subliminal (or not really) messaging, I had to go and see for myself! Took a few days over spring break to thaw and visit Jake in his home state, complete with 75+ degree weather and enough sunshine to make me half a shade darker. I found this to-do list from Conde Nast fairly useful, as it pointed us in the direction of Leon’s Oyster Shop on King Street – amazing seafood and poultry, Jake swears the chicken sandwich was the best he has ever had.

Other than that, we spent the day wandering King Street, the Waterfront Park with its Pineapple Fountain (I was obsessed) and the Historic District with its colorful buildings. And I almost forgot to add the Angel Oak, reported to be 400-1500 years old (Wikipedia says one thing, the actual park, another). It was a little stopover before we reached Charleston on the way from Savannah. Such a peaceful place, with dappled sunshine and branches that just beg you to film some magical/scifi movie there. Spent the rest of the break in Savannah and other parts of South Carolina, which I will post shortly, as well as a little artistic portfolio shoot I did for my friend.

Have a great weekend!

IMG_2529.krIMG_2501.krIMG_2503.krAmsterdam CollageIMG_2436.krIMG_2463.krJust wanted to share a few photos of my December trip to Amsterdam before I became overwhelmed with work this weekend. Unfortunately, Amsterdam was overcast every day I was there, except the day I left, of course. But it was beautiful nonetheless, especially with the annual light exhibit at almost every bridge!

I stayed in the outer canal region near De Pjip in a former brother -turned – hostel Cocomama which was about as Amsterdam as I figured I could get. The number of bikes was disorienting, especially since they all had right of way, as was the number of tall, beautiful people in muted colors. I always have this system, of going to a place once for a few days, and then, if I decide I love it,  I go back for longer. I feel like that way you get oriented the first time and can make better choices about what you want to explore when you come back. I did this with Paris, multiple times and this past time, which was my third in the city, I had a special sort of pleasure in exploring the really hidden gems I had missed the first time. The bucket list still got longer, inexplicably. So all I say to Amsterdam is that I’ll be back, maybe in time for warmer weather!

img_2061-2-krimg_2068-krimg_2078-krimg_2065-2-krimg_2089-krimg_2098-krA quick snapshot of one of my first days in Brussels. I mentioned a while ago I had received a grant to do some research in Europe so off I go for a month, mostly based in Brussels and Paris, but with a few side trips and time to see family tacked on! It still feels surreal to me that I’m here, especially since only this summer I was thinking of going to the Benelux for the winter. Santa/the Universe have really outdone themselves for me this year, for which I am eternally grateful.

I’m staying in a beautiful airbnb about half an hour walk from the center and I’ve been using my walks to explore the city, like this beautiful Parc du Cinquantenaire near the EU quarter. The arch took decades to build (missed the 500 year anniversary by a lot…) but is absolutely beautiful when lit up in the morning and during sunset. If you go to the Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History, you can even go up on the arch for beautiful city views. Around the corner you can also find Maison Cauchie, which is an amazing Art Nouveau building you can enjoy without even going inside (it’s only open the first weekend of every month, which I think is unfortunate for those visiting at any other time).

More little snapshots to come, or else I’ll be absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of photos I have to edit! Otherwise, my Instagram is always current (see bottom of page)!

Have a lovely Wednesday!

IMG_0997.krIMG_1001.2.kr.jpgFrick CollageIMG_1002.2As my summer in the city is drawing to a close, I’m scrambling to knock off all the things on my bucket list. When else will I ever be 21 in the summer in New York with no more responsibility than scavenging for the perfect $1 pizza for dinner?

The Frick Collection was one of those places I’ve heard about only once or twice but for some reason it stuck in my head so I had to go see it. A friend of mine mentioned the Frick as a “well-kept secret” and indeed it is a pleasant surprise in the Upper East Side. While Midtown and Soho were crowded with tourists (we’re in the middle of European holiday month) the Frick was blissfully empty so I felt like the lady of the house walking through all the beautiful rooms.

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed anywhere except the courtyard, but it is so beautiful it almost rivals the rest of the place put together. The oppressive heat has driven me into a love affair with indoor gardens and courtyards, like the one in Le Petit Café and the Met Cloisters. It’s so serene as soon as you walk in, a hush settles on everything so you can hear the burbling of the fountain, and the occasional snap of the camera shutter.

The rest of the mansion is elegantly decorated and full of the most astounding pieces tucked away between and on top of fireplaces and sitting rooms – Renoir, Titian, Vermeer, Rembrandt – a veritable red carpet of artistic geniuses. Not to mention the two Holbein portraits of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell that sit glaring at each other across an El Greco (done on purpose, the history dork in me giggles, and also Hilary Mantel spends quite a bit of time on Holbein’s portrait of Cromwell in Bring Up the Bodies). Anyway, the mansion is not huge, so it really doesn’t take that long to get through all the works and I spent plenty of time enjoying the calm and waiting out the sudden downpour in the courtyard garden, taking notes for my future house.