Tag Archives: island

Vinalhaven, Maine

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In a small writer’s cottage tucked away on a quiet cove in Vinalhaven, Maine I spent the last week of summer with the promise of autumn quietly whispering with each rolling wave of the fog kissed shore of this tiny island that feels lost to the sea. In our modern times of fast communication and speedy travel we can blink an eye and be anywhere in the world.

But here…. here it is a journey. It takes time and you feel time change on the voyage to this sacred place. First a flight to Portland, Maine, then to a car, then ferry, with each passing mode of transportation the clock ticks a moment slower. I watched the shores of Maine while standing on the windy top deck of the ferry as they grew more distant. I looked at America, at a landscape not unfamiliar to the first settlers who came here on the hope and dreams of a new and better life. A life, to a certain extent, I was trying to escape from. The boat carried me away and I let go as land slipped away.

Maine is perfect in the summer. It’s classically American and dynamic in nature. Each hour yielded to a new exciting atmosphere.  It reminds you we are merely passengers on Earth, witnesses to nature’s show. I had to escape Manhattan’s monolithic skyscrapers that blocked sunsets to be reminded of what was out there bigger than me, bigger than my city, and beautiful… so very beautiful. While we watched the tide come in and out each day, distant lobster fishing boats bobbing in place, we took ease in the simplicity. The smell of the salty ocean, the feeling of the damp mossy forest under our feet.

Jet lagged from France, I would take rests in the afternoon with the old windows open so that I could listen to the wind in the trees and feel its coolness on my face as autumn promised itself to be just around the bend.

It is an quiet island in comparison to places like Nantucket but that is what makes it great. A place where you can turn off the noise, turn on nature and remember what it feels like to simply be alive. The kind of place with a handful of local and beloved stores, a tiny farmer’s market and one gas station where you buy the daily catch. When everything closes at 5pm and you wonder how you’ll ever survive until you discover we don’t need as much as we thought, or nearly as much as we’ve been sold. I think about this place often and when I do I’m standing right there on that cool gray rock, wrapped in mist and lost in thoughts…

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Above dress and white dress in the fog by Brooklyn designer Christine Alcalay

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Sweden’s Midsummer Celebration

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One of the most rewarding parts of travel is when you get to partake in other culture’s traditions that differ from the ones you know from back home. Until preparing for this road trip around Sweden with Volvo I had never heard of Midsummer before. I would soon come to learn it is the 2nd most important holiday for the Swedes after Christmas.

So what is Midsummer?

Around mid June at the time of summer solstice, this celebration kicks off the summer season followed by a five-week annual holiday which is important in a culture with a short summer season. The day begins with the picking of flowers to adorn the maypole, the centerpiece of the celebration where people gather to sing and dance around with traditional songs. Everyone from men and women to boys and girls make flower crowns, and we even saw a few dogs with flower collars! The gatherings of community, friends and family proceed after the morning’s activities to a large banquet lunch traditionally of herring, boiled potatoes with toppings and a good amount of schnapps. Throughout the course of lunch a fun variety of midsummer songs are sung about always ending with a toast and another gulp of the fruity liquor. Toward the end of lunch the songs get quite a bit more racy as the drinking games progress all in good fun.

It was absolutely magical to be immersed into this cultural tradition with our host family Vibs and Robert Sohlberg who made us feel like one of their own and who happen to own the wonderful little down to earth inn on the water, Slussens Pensionat, where we stayed during Midsummer. This hotel is such a fun escape with live music on the water and an organic, sustainable restaurant worth a visit even if you are not staying the night.

Perhaps my favorite tradition for Midsummer is the final of the night. You pick 7 different types of flowers from the garden and place them under your pillow and as legend goes, you will dream of your one true love. Now that is something I would like to bring back home with me.

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Ladfabriken Inn

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Tucked away on one of the 8,000 small islands off the west coast of Sweden is this charming and colorful hideaway on the sea, Ladfabriken Inn. Previously an old shipping warehouse, these two creative owners Marcel and Johan (Johan is a Creative Director at Reebok) transformed this old working structure into a living world of light, life and inspiration. Art, quirky collections from world travels in previous careers, and their two dogs make this B&B rich with stories to be shared over a glass of wine while watching the sun slip down below the sea.

We more than welcomed the perfectly prepared home cooked dinner Marcel served up with his colorful and clever table arrangements followed by a breakfast extravaganza that is not to be missed. I think, however, my favorite aspect to this unique place, is the exploding garden that wraps around the entire home. You are greeted by a wash of colors and smells the moment you pull off the main road, and it’s a wonderful welcome. Throughout the Inn, and next to your bedside, Marcel leaves traces of the outside garden with his beautiful flowers arrangements perfuming the entire home.

This is one of my favorite stays on our journey with Volvo around Sweden!

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Nantucket, MA

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Recently my friend Molly was married in New Bedford which took us up the east coast on an early autumn weekend. We decided to pop over to Nantucket and make the most of these last remaining days of warm sunlight. Whenever I’m about to travel to a new place and need to research where to stay I always start with the travel site Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It is how I found where we stayed in Tulum and now for Nantucket with the beautiful luxury boutique hotel, 76 Main, which is a contemporarily renovated historic home on Main street and an easy walk from the ferry.

Here are the things I fell in love with about Nantucket: It’s a great bikeable place with a vast changing landscape. Because much of the island’s natural landscape is protected you can really enjoy the serenity of the country side. Beautiful beaches, beautiful houses, beautiful little shops, beautiful lighthouses, everywhere you turn is beauty. I loved how it was much less flashy than say the Hamptons. Here everybody drives old versions of JEEPS and the vibe is a casual chill. The local brewery Cisco is a must see, eat and drink with their live music, food trucks and endless supply of fresh oysters. Nautilus was my favorite dining experience. Oath’s pizza was perfect. And of course, who doesn’t love a view of beautiful sailboats.

We only had a couple of days to stay here and enjoy all that is Island living but I’m already planning my return next year and dreaming of what it’d be like to own one of those charming historic homes on a cobblestone street with a garden of hydranegas and a golden retriever ready for a day at the beach.

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