Tag Archives: travel

Provence – A New Chapter

Sunset vista from the small Provencal town of Bonnieux, France

I travel a lot. Typically, I feel very safe. I find that most people around the world all want the same things: peace, love, freedom. I’ve traveled so much and so far now I’m good at keeping anxieties down, especially irrational ones.

That was until a recent flight back from Sweden.

There were two gentlemen boarding the plane acting very strangely and it struck me… what if they wanted to hurt the people on board. After a mild panic attack and contemplating being that girl who throws a big fuss and wants off the plane, I realized something important. The first thing that came into my head after I thought “Damn it, I’m on a plane with terrorists!” was “…and now I’ll never know what it was like to live in France.” So I made myself a promise. I said, if this is not a terrorist attack, I would live out one of my dream and spend some real time in this country I have been lusting over my entire life. Being that I’m writing this there was no ill-fated plan to bring down my plane.

And here I sit in France.

Now of course, this all sounds easier said than done. Making the decision and then obtaining a French visa were two very different things. I have never in my life gone through a more frustrating, confusing process.  I didn’t give up, though there were some tears. I learned the first valuable lesson in French living- French Bureaucracy is difficult.

So what am I doing here? First, I’m living. I’m watching the sunsets. I’m picking grapes and eating them. I’m buying a warm baguette at the patisserie every morning and counting the hours by the sound of the bell tolls in town rather than on my iPhone. I wake up with the sunlight, not an alarm clock. I buy the local wine. I marvel to myself how different a lemon smells here freshly sliced and how did I not know the beautiful perfume of fresh cracked pepper before? I pet every dog in sight. I visit the markets and make notes on the minute details and differences. I’m trying new styles from my black New York uniform. I’m SLOWLY learning French. I’m taking my camera out and pointing her at this stunning place, capturing what mesmerizes me about this organic way of life.

To be honest, I needed a refresh from New York. I needed to do something new and different. Stimulate my brain in a different way. I talk about the fragility of creativity and I needed to give mine a rest. I wanted to give her the opportunity to explore new visions and new forms of idea and expression. I know what living in New York means. I wanted to know that aspect of France as well. As I have been taking the time to be present I’m already beginning to have new vision, still lives I want to create around the Provencal table. A place where things come in and out of your life with the passing seasons. A vision of women I want to capture that celebrates their natural beauty on film, un-retouched in a world of manipulation. I feel that excitement toward photography I had when I first started out at 13. When holding a camera in your hands wasn’t a job. It was an adventure. What can you capture, and what can you create…

I think everyone would assume I would have chosen Paris. I love Paris more than any other city in the world. She is my dream. But I didn’t want to just change from fancy New York parties to fancy French parties, the same kind of people, the same kind of work, and the same kind of pace to life. I wanted to really be in a different place, experience another world. I am in the south, in a very small town in Provence, a part of the Luberon. It’s quaint and it’s quiet and though small, it is somehow opening my heart and mind to a whole other world of endless ideas.

It’s not forever, but it is for now and now is right where I want to be. 

Sunset vista from the small Provencal town of Bonnieux, France

Above, working from a hilltop coffee shop in the little charming town of Bonnieux.

More Provence stories here.

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Bulgari Resort Bali

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Standing elegantly off a cliff overlooking the endless Indian Ocean is the amazing Bulgari Resort Bali. It is a luxury resort balancing the natural elements and Balinese traditions with the sophistication of the Italian design house complete with an Italian restaurant so wonderful it was awarded ‘Best Hotel Restaurant in the World’ by International Food & Beverage Forum.

An amazing juxtaposition of private villas and sprawling mansions sound like a mega resort but that it is certainly not. It maintains a personal sense of privacy, and most importantly for me, peace all while making nature the greatest design element of all. The natural tones and traditional building elements sit the resort comfortably into the lush green and dramatic rocky cliff location.

I started each morning jetlagged at 5am, watching the colors of the sunrise fill the sky. Always first to breakfast, I would sit and have a traditional Balinese soup of chicken broth and noodles with mixed vegetables (and A LOT of spice) to the distant sound of the ocean crashing below. Lunches down by the beach consisted of fresh squeezed juices and light fish while the afternoons were perfectly filled with dips in our private pool before a 4pm walk around the property looking for the resident monkeys to see what trouble they were getting into.

This is my second time visiting Bali. What draws one here mostly, in my opinion, is the culture. The peacefulness of the people and the spirit of the ones who have moved here to be closer to it. Yoga, organic juices, and nature are the commodities of Bali, and are served up here at Bulgari in this beautiful setting. On my first visit to Bali I explored all over the island from hiking to the the top of a volcano to shooting on the black sand beaches and sleeping in a structure made of entirely bamboo. Though on this trip we did venture out to Ubud, mostly I just wanted to stay here at the resort. The beauty and calm is what my soul needed.

So here is to another amazing experience on this little island on the Indian Ocean… 

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Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmo Live

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One of the highlights of our Swedish trip was a stay at the Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live. This new and glittering glass tower is not typically the type of accommodation I go for but they really nailed it on the decor. Once you are inside, the wrap-around floor to ceiling views over the entire city of Malmö and her ports is breathtaking. We watched the sun set every evening into the ocean behind a magical dance of ever changing Swedish skies and mapped out the neighborhoods we wanted to discover on foot, just a short walk from the hotel.

One of the most fun features is the restaurant on the top floor created by New York City chef (who we shot for a Tiffany & Co. campaign!) Marcus Samuelsson who was born in Africa, raised in Sweden and now lives in Harlem. The food here at Kitchen & Table, like Marcus, is bright, eccentric and delicious.  Even if you are not staying at the hotel, I would highly recommend a dinner here just to take in the views while you dine.

Plush velvet couches, insane bed lines, and fresh flowers in all the rooms made this hotel stay feel more like luxury apartment living than wayward traveler passing through. This really was the jewel of Malmö.

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Above, wearing new pants by Swedish designer HOPE

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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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