Travel is always on my mind, but I always postpone the time to make a decision and start planning when and where I want to go. To be honest, I have a bit of the paralysis by analysis (so many possibilities!), plus some guilt when considering all the things I have to learn, do and create at home. Furthermore, when the decision is made, I have plenty of research to do to book and plan the trip.
Looking back, I’m pretty glad how last year’s vacations came out, but so far it looks like this year will be completely different.
For now, let’s look at the past and forget about the future for a while (what a turn of events!)
There’s only one place nearly as fascinating as the vast ocean and it’s the vast desert. I didn’t get to the Sahara desert in Merzouga, but I did go all the way from Marrakech to Zagora, even a bit further, to step onto some dunes.
These are beautiful but the vast, rocky, desert is no less fascinating. I surely enjoyed the bus ride through the Atlas, the vastness around Ouarzazate and the palm grooves in Zagora.
It feels incredible to be in a place so different but so alike, and so close by, but still far from home. Of course, we visited Marrakesh and stayed several days, went to Zagora, got back to Marrakesh and then stayed in Essaouira. I can’t travel and not go have a look at the sea, regardless of where I am.
It seems Essaouria is the wind capital of Marrakesh ( I don’t know how I always end up in such windy places), but it was such an experience, staying inside a town where it seemed like the sea was raining over it – when we would walk out from our guesthouse, we would get wet with the salty water crashing on the other side of the walls, just a couple of streets away.
Morocco was quite an experience (well, quite a few good ones) and it made me add so many places to my bucket list!
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There are places that one simply has to go to. I like cities, but I would not go on holidays just to one… THOUGH for a long weekend, they are the perfect escape to break from routine! I’d sum it up as a few busy days walking a lot and having an overdose of visual inputs. I’m dying to be able to keep going on getaways to all major European cities (why, Covid, why!! 😱)
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That was almost the perfect holiday: a week away to a warmer place (even if we didn’t leave the country). I booked us a small apartment by the beach and a car to move around freely! It was low season, and honestly, the weather wasn’t on our side. We got plenty of amazing beaches to discover, we run up the mountains (and what a path we followed, that was a total highlight of the trip – for which I have no visual prove 😅), visited many coastal villages, and did such normal things as going to the cinema and the mall. Such a chilled vacation!
I loved Maspalomas dunes: dunes of sand ending by the sea! So awesome! – but again, so windy. And we came across an octopus while diving in one of the most beautiful beaches. But no surfing, duh! 🙈
PS: Such a sad but true confession… I was preparing this post for the end of 2019…
As this unpredicted but not so unexpected event caused by COVID-19 has us all experiencing all kind of emotions, from home and away from home, like grounded adults, I’m coming back to share my favourite explorations of the first months of this year 2020.
You’ll find it’s a very “fashion”-able post, but your girl has some interests that must be shared. At the end, as usual, some of my favourite techy/geeky and random stuff.
Let’s dive into the fashion world!
You may recall that I mentioned I was reading a biography about Diana Vreeland – Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland – , the great and famous Vogue editor (let’s say a predecessor of the more known today Anne Wintour) when I started exploring more of the fashion world on my reading. I’m not a great fan of Vogue magazine – or any fashion magazine, for that matter – as there’s so much marketing on them… But I do enjoy the photography and essays they publish.So, from time to time, I do explore them. Now, reading about the life of Vreeland makes it a lot more interesting. And by the way, she started at Haper’s Bazaar.
There’s actually a lot of fashion history in those pages and I would totally recommend it to anyone interested in the fashion of the last century. At least for other folks that aren’t yet so familiar with the origins of the great fashion brands of today, but also those interested in fashion communication and how this world came to be how we know it. From the Parisian Haute-couture to today’s fashion walks. I’m pending to read her autobiography though! Looking forward to it.
Now, there’s a lot that I got from Vreeland in that book which goes beyond fashion. It is her philosophy in life and how deeply she believed that one can make herself up – that really stands out for me. We are not what we’ve been told we are, but who we believe we can be. That’s a great power, my dears. And you’ll see how she made herself up if you read the book 😉
Wanna know more about fashion brands and keep reading? Well, there are two more books on my shelf that have been entertaining me for a while.
Always in Fashion: From Clerk to CEO — Lessons for Success in Business and in Life. Kind of a memoir of a man who started out as a designer and built his way up to LVMH (you know, the luxury group to which Louis Vuitton and so many other brands belong to. My key take-away? His philosophy too, the passion he put in his every role, the drive to learn, become better and make the business work, not as a way to only get personal profit but to make the company and one’s work greater. There’s much more to learn in the book though, as there are plenty of behind the scenes in the fashion industry, closer to our days than those in the Vreeland biography.
Third, the book I’m reading right now,The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever . This book does go brand by brand, which is sooo …. nice? It feels very educational while still entertaining, as it analyses the big names in fashion, the luxury brands, how they came to be and where they are headed, while going from designer to designer. I still have a long way to go before I finish this book, so I may add some new thoughts on it in the future.
So, now that I’m so deep into the fashion world… Let me add another recommendation – The Coursera course created by the MOMA which is called Fashion as Design. It’s a very different approach to fashion from the books above. Instead of focusing so much on the big names and shiny brands, it talks pure fashion. The design, the purpose… They explore different themes during the course, while teaching about different clothes and why they are how they are. It’s a must even if you are not interested in fashion (as seen in the media) if you like the design side of things. I totally loved the approach of those lessons and it’s a way to understand fashion that aligns better with my own vision.
Something else. Did you know that there’s a TV program showcasing what’s inside the V&A Museum (Victoria’s & Albert Museum in London)? Well, it started some weeks ago on BBC2 and it’s quite interesting. It shows the work of the museum focusing on various pieces of different kinds in each episode ( p.e. jewellery – painting – costume). It’s called The Secrets of The Museum and you can watch it here (if you’re not in the UK you may want to use a VPN – keep scrolling down, I’ll talk about it later).
Now, let’s travel!
So, not really. You know why, the whole world knows. BUT. If you need a moment to get your mind off everything and fill the weekend with some new, different memories… well, there are a thousand things you could do. The want I’d like to check on today, though, is… VR travelling!
The world is going digital (ughh… hello black mirror nightmares), so there are lots of digital alternatives to anything right now. From the digital online fashion shows to Google earth in VR to shopping in 3d scenarios . Check out this recent article by the Independent about places you could visit digitally that I recently found (or this other one). And I’m quite sure there are many, many more similar opportunities. Think of any museum you’ve ever wanted to visit and look at their website for digital tours and exhibitions. Think about it: sometimes, even just a well structured article to be read on the sofa could be better than 4 hours of standing in front of pieces and looking for the small captions. At least, you can get some previous knowledge about the great pieces in display. For example, I found that the museums of Edinburgh have this Mode article in which to discover 30 pieces of fashion – and you can see them in 180º!
Another possibility is to check the outdoors online, and not only by a webcam – which is not such a bad option after a whole week spent looking through the same window to a boring view – but you can go on a dreamy vacation instead. Not a bad way to visualize a future destination, right? It’s as easy as going to Youtube and searching for “virtual tour” of your destination of choice. Or let the suggestions get on the way and visit things like “The Titanic” or a million dollar home. Would you like to fly over a particular place ? We can do that too! See! And this! What about entering the worlds of Dali?
Just found my place on Youtube now. I’ll be spending all my remaining internet data here. I’m doomed.
Let’s get techie!
Lately, everywhere on the internet there are references and ads about VPNs. They are important to surf more safely, adding a layer of privacy, to access sites restricted by geography, trick apps and games that depend on your location and even recommended if you download software in not a very legal way.
I personally feel very much against the restrictions of location. The internet is a door to the whole world, from my point of view, and I have always loved it for that. Finding I can’t read articles or watch a video because I live in Europe terribly disappoints, so sometimes I use Windscribe. It’s free up to 2gb with an account, no credit card needed. I had used Tor in the past as a way to navigate privately, but it’s a browser and it changes the experience. As you see, I have no experience in VPNs but if you don’t need much, that one can be useful. I also downloaded an app for my phone, which I haven’t used really but looks fine enough : it’s Tunnel Bear, also free for about 500 mb and options to get more by sharing the app (or upgrading).
If you’ve seen my post My commitment to creativity in these lock-down days, you may remember that the first day I had a break down with my computer. I had to erase the whole hard drive and so I lost all my apps. As a consequence, I had to quickly get the ones I needed the most to start working. So when it comes to 3D software, I went straight for Blender. I had been using other apps, but it’s been a while anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t be so bad to use Blender. By the way, they have now plenty of lives everyday in here.
Well, it has surprised me in a very good way. The first time I used Blender I may have been 14 years old, maybe a bit older. I remember having the instructions printed at home for ages. I never followed all of them. I like modeling and 3D scenarios but I’ve never given it enough time to learn them. Now, I do intend to be able to do some basic things, as I have a purpose on mind. Blender has improved so much since then! And it’s free and there are plenty of resources and tutorials about it. I’ll show you how I’m planning to use it soon!
Now that we are spending so much time at home, working from home, what about monitoring the time you spend on your computer? I recently installed RescueTime, so I can get a register of the hours I’m on the computer. Not that I needed to know what I’ve done and what I haven’t, but it’s nice to see it in graphics and numbers. I’m a very visual person, so it helps me to know I have to focus. And it clearly states I spend too much time on Firefox. Maybe I’m blogging too much??
Oh my girl! I’m dying to watch these documentaries : “5 Design World Documentaries to Stream For Free” ! I’ve seen “Helvetica”, of course, but I just wish I got more time to kill (and more gb of Internet). Now that I’m thinking about it, I still have some episodes of Abstract to watch… 😁
Ready to pack and leave towards a new adventure? Here, my favourite hacks for preparing before leaving
We all know the importance of preparing your suitcase, or better, your backpack before going on a trip. You only have to type “how to pack” on Google and you’ll find endless resources about how you should pack. And they are really good, so I’m not going to show you how to do that. But there a few steps that have been really really useful to me for when going away.
My hacks before going on a trip
– If I know I’m going away for more than a couple of days and knowing that I have spare time or will be flying/train/whatever I’ll make sure I take my Kindle with me. It’s not only great for entertainment – and honestly, long flights are the best moment to tackle that Goodreads list that has pending reads from 5 years ago. What’s more, you can store dictionaries inside, as well as any text resource you found on the internet. Also, you can navigate the web too, in case something happened to your phone. And it’s great for storing digital versions of your important documentation.
– In the same line, I loved having a private folder in my Drive where all my important documents, copies and research for the travel were. In the last trip, I shared it with my sister who wasn’t coming so she could help us in case I couldn’t access them and needed them emailed, printed or just a quick check for info. It did help in consulting about our travel insurance. When you’re on the go, some help from home can be a great relief.
– One of my musts before leaving: saving offline maps from all the sites I’m planning to go. I know there are people who still don’t know about it but it’s extremely helpful. Now that we can go almost everywhere in Europe without being charged for Internet use seems less relevant. But still, there are some small countries where that doesn’t apply. And what about the first day in a new country without a phone? It’s quite useful to have google maps working without the Internet. Usually, the GPS functionality would work anyway so it can help you find your accommodation the first day in the new city. Now, how does it work? Here are the instructions.
– Zipped plastic bags (those used for food) are the greatest thing to pack everything in your backpack. If you choose different sizes you can organize your clothing and all items by size, type and usability. Also, you can squeeze all air out and you’ll get a vacuum packaging. A similar thing is the now so popular packing cubes. But if you want to try one of both, start with the zipped plastic bags, they are a cheaper option, plus less weight and less space.
– A portable power bank. It is a must. Not only you don’t know when and where you’ll run out of battery but even if you don’t, you may need to connect multiple things to just one or two plugs. If you charge first your power bank, you’ll be ready to go, able to charge multiple items at once and always charged! Choose a good one depending on your needs (more power or less weight?)
– Paper list of what you are taking. No digital here. And I’m not saying it just because I like to design printable lists. It’s easier to visualize and count and see more things missing when you can handwrite, cross and draw all that you’re taking. It’s good advice too to start your list several days before living and checking the list many times to see if there’s something you should add (or cross out).
Finally, take care of packing well. Fill the gaps (no room for air in the backpack). You should play Tetris for a while and manage to have your stored items organized in a way that you get easy access to the most used ones and everything is packed using the less amount of space possible. But for more nice packing tips I found this article, which it’s cramped with wise advice. Take a look. http://herpackinglist.com/2017/04/how-to-pack-minimalist-packing-list/
Another month has gone, so fast. The more I do, the more it seems I have to do and the quicker the time goes by. But that didn’t take any fun of living the start of the summer, with some beach days, river days, climbing days and many movies. I can’t even remember all of the good stuff.
Though, I’ll make you a quick list of links to check. (psst, don’t worry, you don’t have to check all of them now, we’ll be waiting for you).
1. A newsletter : Lecture in progress
I have subscribed to many newsletter this month. And they look quite promising. Lecture in progress surprised with their emails, so I want to recommend it to you. If you’re after some good advice from creatives, interviews and have interest in the creative industry you’ve found an ally in them.
2. A song :
I love every single song by Lana del Rey. Just recently listened to it.
3. Additions to my following list on instagram
Loving is sharing! And today I want to share a few inspiring designers! Their images are so wonderful, modern and striking! They just make me want to design more.
She means business. You know I’ve read quite a few books about the creative life, entrepreneurship and success. I’m still doing. Maybe a new post of Books for Girlbosses will come soon. Anyway, my point is, this is a good book on the topic. At least, one that resonated a lot with me. It packs practical tips and strategies with felt advice alongside visualization talk and the like. And her personal journey and those of her closest ones. But not only that, she also has a lot of resources for you to build your success journey. I’m totally diving into those, so be sure I’ll be shining in no time 😉
BTW, I got myself the audiobook, so it’s Carrie Green herself talking, so cool and nice to listen to while painting.
5. A place :
Siurana. We started June at full power. We got on the car for two days and didn’t stop for a minute (okay, maybe some, I just like to make things big!). We went for lots of exploring and climbing. Here some shots. Get inspired and go find your next adventure!
6. Do your to-do stuff while playing
Have you ever heard of gamification? In few words, it’s transforming some activities into a game. The example I want to share with you today is Habitica. It’s a game developed to help you get better habits and do your to-do list with a more engaging twist. My sister (Mariposas de papel) introduced me to this, and even I’m so behind her in the game, I’m still going there day after day.
What’s in it for you? If you ever played online games like Gaia online, wanted to have the nicest avatar or just liked pixel art you can be sure you’ll like it. Though, the funniest part is doing it with friends. You can even get into battles that you’ll only able to win doing a hell out of things from you list.
(Need a tip? Have lots of dailies and do as many as you can to keep healthy).
7. Surfing freely (online) : a safer anonymous Browser, Tor
Do you ever feel that google, or the internet knows you too well? Would you like to be able to browse the internet without it knowing all about you? Maybe just because you should be able to. Because you don’t have to be giving your info all the time.
I’ve started using it. No regrets. More freedom. Always strive for freedom.
Oh my girl! Did I forget to mention that I was away for a month? I can be such a bad person at times…
Well, the thing is we (my bf and I) went on a holiday to the Philippines!! So exciting. Had never been on a travel like that: to Indonesia, different culture, tropical climate and coconuts and palm trees everywhere! We visited Cebu, went to Bohol and stayed most of the time to the beautiful island of Siargao. I could write about the travel for hours, but I just want to explain you the things I loved the most that weren’t the main touristic activities of Siargao.
So, let’s deep in!
1- First of all, what we did first.Visiting a big city
(Please, forgive me! This is not something you’re gonna do in Siargao, but you may need to in order to get there). Which was Cebu. We arrived at the Mactan-Cebu airport and found our way (thanks to many nice filipinos) to our guesthouse in the center of Cebu, taking many jeepney’s and seeing the afternoon get darker and darker. We stayed two days and came for another one before leaving. Did we love the city? No. Did we enjoy it? Not so much. What was undeniable is that it’s something worth to experience for a day at least. Bohol and Siargao are beautiful islands, plenty of little villages and a couple of small cities, but they look not much alike. It’s a different world. Cebu is crowded, the traffic is insane, the electric cables can’t say if look crazy or they are art… There is poverty and there are also the commodities and shops that we see in Europe. A place of contrasts. Eating out can be very cheap if you do so in local streets.
A main road in Mactan Cebu. It was more peaceful and closer to the airport, so we stayed there before taking our flight home.
2- Next thing you’ll love to do is to find a paradisiac spot.
Yeah, something like this.
Who haven’t dreamed about some palm-trees like that, by a white sand beach and crystal clear waters? Dream *completed*!
As we stayed over 20 days in Siargao, we had to spend quite some time in the beach, so this one was always first on the list. I think its name was Paradise Beach 😛 For those who surf, G-spot and Magic spot are pretty close, but far enough so we hadn’t to share a piece of beach with anyone!
3- A similar one, but not the same: explore *your* beach!
As you can imagine, there are many beaches in an island. Though Siargao is small, you still can try and find one nobody talked to you about. We did spent days going into little trips to new places with our motorbike and find some really nice places. Where we could relax, see a special village, an island or just snorkeling. Also bathing into rockpools. (There is a main attraction in Siargao called Magpupunko, which is a very beautiful rock-pool, but you may find some other beaches full of little rock-pools as well). We enjoyed one like this, and it was wonderful. Hot water, peace, silence and crashing waves on the horizon. Have in mind that they usually are rock-pools only when the tide is low. So it’s always good to know the tide times, as even paradisiac beaches doesn’t look the same in low tide than in high tide (you can ask a surfer to help you 😉 ).
You may even find your desert island. (My take though? I don’t ever want to be left in a desert island without a boat to get back).
4- Something tasty!
Go to a bakery and shop and try everything! (Ok, almost everything.) Pastries are very unexpensive and quite good. When we discovered them we couldn’t stop taking some for breakfast, afternoon snack… until we get bored. They are different to what I’m used to, quite fluffy. I loved the ones with something purple. They usually seemed to have chocolate and then we would find out that it was actually this purple thing (called “ube”). What’s typical in Siargao is “pan de surf” (surf’s bread), called like this because the shape of this small bread resembles a surfboard. You can find women baking them by the roads, burning coconuts. Also, they make “pan de coco” too, which is very good and tasty when still warm.
5 – Watching fireflies.
It came almost a surprise. I knew there were fireflies on the island but never thought about it. Then, in the way back to the cottage after a walk by the sea at sunset, we spotted them for the first time. It was already dark and looking to the side of palm-trees and gardens you could see very bright points moving in the dark. I’ve seen fireflies before, but never so bright. At the first moment I thought it was a spark or something similar. Then, other nights cruising on the motorbike we would spot more of them flying into the jungle.
6 – Step out of the beaten road.
Siargao is mainly an island with a big road that goes all along the coast, in a circular circuit and also crosses in the middle. A part from this, you may found some smaller roads and paths that will take you to villages, rural homes or just palm-trees. But who knows what can be hidden into the jungle?
We followed some small roads off the way to get to beautiful villages and also into the jungle. It’s not like the great imaginary tropical jungle we usually have in mind. Not so many colourful animals and rare plants. But you’ll surely spot some wonderful butterflies, small flowers and big leafs.
7- Be sure to know and go do some activities that you enjoy.
There may be days when it rains, or you have nothing to see or just want to not sit on the motorbike for two hours. So it will be helpful to know some activities you’ll enjoy doing. In my case, I had very good times taking pictures (what you see here is the top of the iceberg), we also enjoyed very much snorkelling and looking for shells and submarine life (so many starfish!!!). We “even” surfed! (That was on the list for sure). We also had some books with us, went to bars and the like, played and trained in the common area of our accommodation, etc.
I spent a month away from my pencil and watercolors. Hard for my hand
8- *Bonus point!* Bring good company (or find it along the way)
What else I wouldn’t like to miss
Visiting Bohol. I loved seeing the tarsiers, the Chocolate Hills and getting all over the island with the motorbike.
Spending some time with locals was also great. Kids were always happy to meet us and in most villages people were also very friendly. And getting to far villages always offered a new wonderful scenery.
Facts and tips about Siargao
It’s getting more popular and you may need to book your hotel previously or be able to change plans.
Because it’s more of a touristic place, prices get a bit more expensive than in others places of the Philippines.
Most tourists stay in General Luna. You won’t find so many foreigners while exploring the island. It’s also where you’ll find more accommodation options.
If you have questions, I can answer them (from my experience)… Because there are too many things that could be said.
The Holiday mood is already everywhere. This week we decorated for Christmas. We have half of the presents bought. I’ve heard carols in the radio and the streets are decorated with its coloured lights. We are ready for this season!
I like this time of the year. Specially when we are still getting some days that aren’t that cold. Even then, that’s the prefect excuse to warm up with a cosy blanket on the sofa, something to drink, a panettone to eat and a movie or book to entertain ourselves.
I also find it’s a very good moment for creativity and imagination. You know, it’s the magic time of the year. But it’s also near the end of it and the start of the new. How will it be? How was this year?
Imagining the future feels good. We can start planning next year adventures, travels and activities.What can be more fun than that?
Make a couple of new boards on Pinterest and start planning the year! I’ll be doing it!
In the meanwhile, I want to share with you some pictures of my little adventures of the last months. A good way to remember the best and get some inspiration for the next MiniAdventures.
Have you heard about this term? Checking it I see they are called MicroAdventures instead. I like mini though. It’s basically about getting outside, do something different without having to travel far away or for a long time. You can find more about it here and here. It’s something I really like, because MiniAdventures are short but good, in new places but not at days of travel, challenging but affordable. Any trip, every cycling day or hike could be one. I like to see any activity as an adventure. Life is an adventure. Every day can be an adventure.
For today’s, I want to show you about my last surf trip to the north, in France. One week of chances, challenges, nice weather and some calm.
Are you coming?
Pack your board and bikini, some clothes and get in the car. We are going! Road trip mode on
Be there, do that. Ready for da surf? Let’s go!
Look for that beach with perfect waves, park the car in the woods, surrounded by magical forms and get ready. Walk over the dunes of sand and paddle hard for the waves of fun.
Feel the salt in the skin, the sun in the eyes, the freedom of the sport.
I don’t usually take a camera into the water… so let’s pretend the picture below belongs to the same trip… 😉
Surfing base camp – Boards, wet wetsuits and shiny noons.
Transport yourself into a week of nice sunsets with bright colours and beautiful skylines.
When the summer is gone, it feels even better : Beach on the morning, beach on the afternoon.
Have a laugh; this is my stylish way to the top of the bunker.
One day the adventure is over and we have to come back. But there’s still a promise of more.
What MiniAdventures did you do recently? Something snowy planned for this Christmas?