The Art of Packing from Louis Vuitton

What an inspiring little video in efficient, minimalist packing…The only thing I´m missing to re-create it is the luggage;)

 

Capturing a Moment

One of my favorite things about travel is capturing the little moments of every day life in other places. I could stroll around for hours, taking photos of landscapes and tourist sites, but I particularly love catching images of people when they are involved in those tiny actions that most people never even notice. Here are some I especially like, from trips to Morocco and Peru.

 

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Making Breakfast in Marrakech

 

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Sharing secrets, Morocco

 

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A Moment Alone, Morocco

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Fruit Vendor, Morocco

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Peruvian School Children on an Outing, Cusco

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Enjoying the Birds, Cusco

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A Quiet Moment, Cusco

I just entered these photos in an online photo contest, which you can check out here. If you’d like, you can even vote for my pictures and help me win a $25,000 dream trip;) Look under “Gallery” then filter the category:adventure, location: Marrakech

Les Vacances

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Found this is a storefront in France (last year in August) and this is exactly how I feel today…My summer can FINALLY begin! I’m ready for it:)

Detroit’s Eastern Market

I think that Detroit’s Eastern Market must be one of the best places to spend a Saturday. Started in 1891, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, today it is the largest historic public market district in the United States. Packed with a myriad of people and delicious things to eat, it is my go-to place for the days I’m feeling a little extra hungry, in the mood to people watch, or in need of a little bit of adventure, as I never know what tasty morsels I will stumble upon. Its bounty of colors and scents are a feast for the senses, and I have never once come away disappointed. (Nor have I ever come away without three bags of produce and a belly full of snacks.) Absolute. Heaven.

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Mint Tea is Better in Morocco

Do you ever find that certain experiences are more inspiring, exhilarating and appealing when enjoyed in the context of travel? Do you also find that when you take them out of that context and try to enjoy them elsewhere (i.e. at home), they are somehow less satisfying? I certainly do. Some things never quite live up to the expectation of the original experience, and I find I frequently feel some level of disappointment when I attempt to replicate them. I encounter this phenomena more often than I care to admit.  Whether it be the music, the food or the clothing of the place I’m visiting, once I bring it home from my destination it loses some of its original luster. This can be evidenced from my tagine cookbook collecting dust on the shelf, the New Orleans brass band songs that go un-played, and the traditional Spanish hairpiece that has never been worn.

Moroccan mint tea is one such example of an enjoyable beverage that I first experienced abroad but sometimes attempt to replicate at home. Heck, I even started to grow my own mint plant for this very purpose, as there’s something about the mint tea in Morocco that makes it the best in the world (in my opinion). It is the perfect mix of minty and sweet, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and it is capable of satisfying that je ne sais quoi one feels while spending time in a place so hot as to be actually concerned about losing too many electrolytes through sweat and passing out.  I can say for certain that I do not know what that special something is that gives this tea its ability to satisfy both hunger and thirst, to give cool respite on a broiling day (even though it’s hot!), and to make me want to drink infinity glasses of it (No, I am not over exaggerating at all). This is because whenever I try to recreate this enchanting drink in my own home, it just does not have the same appeal. I’ve gone over and over what could be missing, and but could only come up with the following:

Perhaps it is because the mint for Moroccan tea is acquired from a location like this:

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Instead of my garden, which looks like this:

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Maybe it could be that when Moroccan tea is poured it is from a tea pot like this:

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In this way:

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Instead of from a tea pot that looks like this:

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in this way:

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Could it be that the final product in Morocco looks like this:

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whereas mine looks like this?:

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And while drinking it in Morocco the background scenery is this:

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while at home it is this:

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Hm, it’s hard to say. It could be the thrill of experiencing something for the first time, in an unfamiliar place. Maybe it’s that I’m just cheerful while exploring the world and therefore more inclined to be pleased by every little thing? I’m not sure. But my guess is that some things are just better when traveling.

Photos: source(1) source(2) source(3) source(4)

 

 

Belgian Frites

As a food lover, I’m obsessed with most types of food. I discovered this video on nytimes.com today. I’ve never been to Belgium, but apparently the frites themselves are worth the trip. Also, since all non-Belgian frites are fake (according to this clip) all those French frites (not to mention the American ones) I’ve consumed have been misleading me! Just an excuse to take another trip…

Images of Summer

With summer upon us, I can not help but become giddy with delight at the prospect of all the long days, warm nights, sunshine, and celebration in general that accompany the season. I know many will be taking vacations (myself included) as well as enjoying barbeques, picnics and a multitude of other activities with family and friends. In the spirit of the season, here are some of my favorite images from my past summer adventures that get me excited for the months to come.P1030917

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The Adventure Jug

One of my absolute favorite ideas (given to me by my beloved sister) is the concept of the “Adventure Jug”. The Adventure Jug is simply an empty wine jug in which you place spare change and single dollars until it becomes full, at which time you smash it with a hammer and use the funds for the adventure of your choosing. It’s nice because it’s not as formal or serious as a regular savings account, and you almost don’t even miss the change and singles that go into it. More often than not, that change would just be clinking around at the bottom of a purse or pocket, end up in a couch cushion, or get spent on something silly like a gas station pastry (Yes, I’m admitting guilt to this).

My mother even knows a co-worker who, diligently saving all of his change and singles for a whole year (in a shoe box I think, not an Adventure Jug) is able to buy a plane ticket to Europe for his vacation each summer. If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is! Thus, since the idea of the Adventure Jug has come into my life, I have kept it up dutifully.

The Adventure Jug is simple to create and simple to maintain. Just follow these easy steps:

 

1. Purchase a jug of wine. The favored brand for my particular jug is Carlos Rossi, primarily because the opening is large enough to fit quarters. (This is imperative, as quarters are a mainstay of any Adventure Jug! Pennies, Nickels, and Dimes alone just won’t cut it.)

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2. Consume wine. This is almost the best part!

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3. (Optional) Label your jug to give it some flair.

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4. Put stray change and one dollar bills, as well as any other “found” money into the jug as you come across it. For me “found” money is a small amount of money I was not expecting to come across or had forgotten about, including (but not limited to): Can/bottle deposit refunds, rebates on items previously purchased, cash I find in an old coat pocket, etc.

5. Decide what adventure you are going to take with the funds (This is the best part)!

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6. Smash the jug with a hammer when it’s full. I would not do this in the house. Have the shop-vac ready.

 

And there you have it! Another great thing about the Adventure Jug is that once you put the money in, it’s really difficult to get it out, thereby reducing temptation. It’s also immediate, so you don’t have to think about going to a bank or engaging in other transactions. You just place the money into the jug, simple as that. Happy Adventuring:)

 

Photos: source(1) source(2) source(3)

 

How To Travel Like a Local

When traveling, I love to feel like I’m more than just a tourist passing through. Nothing makes me happier than delving into local life to get the most authentic experience from my travels. Here are the top techniques I employ to make this possible:

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1. Walk or Bike When Possible
Walking or biking around gives you the chance to really get up close and into the nitty gritty of your destination. Seeing things at street level and at a relatively slow pace gives you time to peer into shop windows, sample small culinary delights, and inspect peculiar wares. I find I miss less when I’m on foot especially, because I’m surrounded on all sides by a place and completely immersed in it. It’s definitely harder to zip by without noticing your surroundings. In addition, walking and biking are great exercise and may help offset any food indulgences that may occur.
2. Use Public Transportation
There is nothing worse to me than seeing a new place for the first time from the windows of a tour bus. While buses are very stress free to arrange and require minimal work from the traveler, they can also be quite boring and lend to the feeling of seeing a place at a distance, as you are not truly involved in the world outside your transportation capsule. When going from place to place in any city, I absolutely recommend whatever public transportation is available, be it metro, train, tram, etc. This does, without a doubt require more effort, and you may end up lost before you actually get to your desired destination (See #4). But by opting instead for public transport, you get to see a place from the locals’ point of view and really get a feel for it.

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3. Hit the Grocery Store
One of the first things I usually ask my host (hotel concierge, random passerby, whatever) when I arrive somewhere new is where the grocery store is, so I can head over and check the place out. A local grocery store is good for so many things- grabbing cheap, simple food and drinks that can be taken back to your accommodation or out to a picnic, a way to check out local food culture, and grocery store finds certainly make great souvenirs! (Who doesn’t want a delicious bag of paprika flavored chips? Or Italian espresso, wine, and olive oil? Yum!)
4. Get Lost
While getting lost may seem like a suspicious way to enjoy yourself, I’ve stumbled upon many gems while slightly straying from my intended path. For one, getting lost usually takes you off the tourist track (just be careful that you don’t end up in any rough neighborhoods!). Secondly, it can lead you to places you didn’t even know you wanted to find. A tiny park, a store that sells only glass beads, a yummy food stand buried in a back street. The possibilities are certainly endless.

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5. Talk to Locals
Talking to locals many times leads to some of the most fruitful discoveries of a trip. Whether it be the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants, a low-key beach, or even an invitation to someone’s home, talking to people who live in and know your destination well usually will lend you plenty of insight. If I don’t personally know any locals, I usually like to approach friendly looking strangers I see around town. Perhaps someone sitting on a park bench or relaxing in a plaza. Police officers or security guards I’ve also found to be helpful. I usually pick anyone who is not in the business of directing travelers, as they seem to me more likely to be biased and send you where they “think” you’d like to go. Knowing the language definitely helps here, but is not always necessary, as people are typically eager to share information about places they love (even if they have to use charades to do so).

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6. Stay in Someone’s Apt/House
If you happen to know someone at your destination and they are willing to share their home with you, great! If not there are many other solutions to finding a house or apartment to call your own while away. I’ve personally had the best luck with the website airbnb.com, and my sister loves couchsurfing.org. The benefit of staying in someone else’s place is that you truly get to live the lifestyle of a local. You can save money by making some of your own meals at home, as well as meet and chat with neighbors. The downsides, of course are that you have to cook and clean instead of having someone else do those things for you. Naturally, if you want to live like a local this is one of the best ways to go.

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7. Road Trip
I’m an enormous advocate for road trips. To me there is nothing like exploring back roads and out of the way locales that are not easily reached without your own vehicle. Again, this is a great way to stumble on places you never knew existed, as well as see some of the far less touristed areas of a location.

So there you have it!  If you are also interested in feeling like a local when traveling, give it a shot.

Photo Sources: source(1) source(2) source(3)source(4) source(5)

Heidelberg Project, Detroit: A Local Art Adventure

In 1986 artist Tyree Guyton, disheartened by his surroundings, decided to transform his neglected Detroit neighborhood into a work of art. He chose to use discarded objects and abandoned houses to create his work, and although others considered these things trash, he saw in them the possibility of the beauty they could provide. He combined a vast array of objects and painted them with vivid colors, giving new life to a previously burnt out area. He hoped to inspire people everywhere by showing them that art is accessible to everyone, as well as a vehicle for social and economic growth.

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Today Tyree’s masterpiece is known as the Heidelberg Project, and receives visitors from all over the world each year. While the project is flourishing today, it was not always so welcome. The city of Detroit destroyed the project on two separate occasions, once in 1991 and another time in 1999. Mr. Guyton persisted, however, and today the Heidelberg Project remains – An inspiration to artists (and non-artists) everywhere.

I recently had the chance to visit for the first time, and enjoyed immersing myself in the colorful world of the Heidelberg Project, as well as having a wonderful conversation with one of the people who works there. Have a look at my iPhone mini-photo gallery and hopefully come away as inspired as I was.

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All art in the above images is copyrighted by Tyree Guyton.