A memorable overlay in Amsterdam

If you have to change the plane in Europe, Amsterdam may be a very good choice. The train takes you from inside the terminal to “Centraal” (Downtown) in less than 15 minutes. Once you step out of the train station, a beautiful city with loads of history, unique architecture and cobbled streets crammed between water channels, opens right in front of you. Restaurants, terraces, pubs, bars, museums, churches, parks and quaint hotels are bordering the bicycle crowded alleys.

However,…

Amsterdam is a pervert city… in all ways.. the day in Amsterdam is relaxing, calm and surrounds you with the beauty of the 16th century architecture and the paintings of the Golden Age. Your stroll at dusk will turn your head in all directions. Thousands of people on the street, crowded restaurants, museums open until the late sinful hours, the show windows of the Red District, all will dazzle you, will energize you and make you believe there is no other place like this on the planet. And there is none..

I invite you all to immerse in the city of Amsterdam…a genuine European stylish experience, diverse and unique. It will make you let go of your inhibitions, blend in and wish to return soon or stay for good.

My photos were taken early in the morning. People were scarce, likely prepping for another crazy night. But the city was beautiful and unbothered. Enjoy, and I dare you to experience on self the Amsterdam night!

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The sound of Jazz in Chicago

Millennium Park is a symbol of Chicago. Throughout the summer, its stage is home to local and renowned national and international artists in plays, music and dance. From big festivals to small get-togethers, Lake Michigan shore welcomes its visitors at every step.

Not rarely, I find it difficult to choose among the many events that take place every night in Chicago; however, one can never go wrong with a bicycle ride along the shore and dinner and drinks on the grass in front of the stage, at Jay Pritzker pavilion.

This weekend hosted the annual Chicago Jazz Festival, a three day event, integrating a wide variety of jazz.

Along the years, many world-renowned jazz artists have performed here, to the delight of both Chicagoans and tourists.  Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding shined the stage yesterday evening, along with many other amazingly talented artists from all across the globe.

I caught a glimpse of the spectacle in a few photos that I hope you will enjoy.

Mark your calendars for next year!

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Ode to the Jumpsuit

 

Alright gals :), which one of you is not crazily in love with The Jumpsuit this summer?

Here’s to the gorgeous sunny days, the ones that call for the beach, margaritas… and a jumpsuit!

I am the lucky owner of a collection of cotton, silk, linen, monocolor, colorblock and bright jumpsuits..and the jumpsuit has become my number one “go to” this summer. You can pair one with heels or pumps for a posh look, wedges and flats for a casual one and even flip-flops for unlimited comfort. The Jumpsuit goes with everything and, depending on how you set your mood, it could give you a natural, elegant or girly efortless look.

The following is a selection of jumpsuits from three of my favorite relatively affordable brands (Anthropologie, VinceCamuto and LillyPulitzer), that hopefully will be inspiring…

For the love of the jumpsuit!:)

 

http://www.lillypulitzer.com/product/entity/7193.uts?keyword=jumpsuit&swatchName=Spectrum+Blue+Tide+Pools

http://www.vincecamuto.com/halter-jumpsuit-with-keyhole/V4P3806.html?dwvar_V4P3806_colormaterial=810%20POLYESTER#q=jumpsuit&sz=14&start=1

http://www.vincecamuto.com/jumpsuit-with-neckline-beading/V4A4336.html?dwvar_V4A4336_colormaterial=310%20POLYESTER

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/30216626.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS#/

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/4123237435135.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS#/

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/4123275524178.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS#/

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/4123024090018.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS#/

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/4123275524140.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS#/

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/4123265740838.jsp?cm_vc=SEARCH_RESULTS#/

 

A weekend in Boston

Boston means more to me than a historical beautiful town of the East Coast. Boston is the city where I spent many days and nights, where I made priceless memories, where I keep dear friends; it’s the city to which I will always return to with a full heart, emotions and excitement; thus is no wonder that I chose to return for a weekend, with a defined plan in my mind: a little roaming around the streets, lunch and cappuccino in the North End, oysters at the Union Oyster House- the oldest tavern, a cold beer at the Irish pub next to my old apartment, and a ferry to the Cape. I loved every moment and my only regret was that the weekend went too fast.

If it’s raining when you land in Boston, the air becomes saturated by oceanic salty watery vapors. The smell of the ocean stayed with me while walking around the Common- the oldest park in the country. I used to walk in the park every day, on my way to and back from work, and the trees, benches, statues, flowers brought memories of happiness. I then went ahead to the enchanting Newbury street where I had to stop for tapas and sangria; I then walked around my old neighborhood of Beacon Hill with its narrow streets and brick sidewalks, and that brought even more precious memories of the evenings when the gaslit aisles transferred me to a fairy world.

The next day, lunch was exceptional, just as I remembered it, at Trattoria Il Panino. I ordered “the usual”: shrimp al limoncello and penne puttanesca. If you find yourself in the North End and don’t know which of the fabulous restaurants to choose, you cannot go wrong with the above. Obviously, a lunch in the Italian neighborhood is incomplete without a tasty espresso or chocolate flakes cappuccino and a slice of home made tiramisu at Caffe Vittoria.

Since I used to live in Boston, I did not go for the touristy attractions, but if you are a first time visitor, there are many historical sites that you have to set foot in, and everything is clustered and walkable. You also have to cross the bridge over the Charles River, to MIT and the Harvard campus. And, if you are like me, and a trip to Boston is not complete without a ferry ride to a nearby island, then make sure to include that on your tour as well.

I am posting some pictures from Boston to follow along and I will return with more of the Cape at a later time. Enjoy! and if you haven’t done it so far, plan a trip to Boston “as soon as humanly possible”!:)ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

A weekend in New York

I love flash-travelling. And by that I mean travelling for one to two days to a far enough place that would completely take me out of my routine. Since I live in Chicago, I prefer quaint, green, quiet places and the fresh air, but I would never refuse a trip to New York.

While I won’t write much about my newest visit to NY, I will post some pictures to follow along.

We landed in New York a little after 8 o’clock. Our trip was going to be one of leisure. No site seeing, just walking, eating, and catching up with old friends. We quickly took the nearest subway to Canal street and started roaming around my favorite part of the city, Greenwich Village. The day started off gorgeously, with sun, mature trees, and a feeling of well being. The streets of this part of Manhattan are beautiful, and their creative Bohemian vibe can be felt at each corner. Tens of small coffee shops border the streets along with old, modern or fancy restaurants. We found a neat little terrace with a small iron table glistening in the sun, and we sat down to sip on a foamy delicious cappuccino.

We then walked along Broadway towards Central Park. Each time I walk around in New York, I feel the need to lose myself in the immense mass of people, yellow cabs, street entertainers, flashy lights and enormous ads. New York is like no other. The mixture of cultures, races, traditions is delightful, and they all converge in life pulsating at every step.

Central Park was beautiful. We fell asleep on the grass, smelling the fresh land, looking at the surrounding high rises. We took our time, walking, eating, admiring people, streets, trees, flowers. The city was alive, just like I knew it. I must have visited New York ten times so far, in different seasons, and I always find it fascinating and blooming.

If you live in the States, a weekend visit to the Big Apple is always doable and very inspiring.

While I don’t go for the tourist attractions anymore, each time I go back to New York, I find places I never knew of, and an ever changing culture that is hard, if not impossible to find elsewhere.

New York is indeed the emblem of the United States that everyone should visit once and then return to.

 

 

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Peru – chapter one

Years ago, Peru was an esoteric country, one too inaccessible, too… at the end of the world- maybe also because I was living in Europe at the time. Now that I have become a seasoned traveler, the distances are measured in hours, half a day, a day, but not in thousands of miles. That way I can always fool myself that countries, people and cultures are all close or, really,  just a few hours away…

Peru was thus closer than I thought. We left Chicago on a hot humid August morning, and a few hours later, we arrived in Cusco, the old Peruvian establishment in the core of the mountains. The air was fresh, crisp and rejuvenating, and the sunlight was inundating the mountain peaks. We ignored the lack of sleep, and debuted our stroll on the small narrow quaint streets of the city.  We liked it all: the rocky pavements, the simple, yet genuine farmers markets, the traditional clothing that many locals wore, the flute music, the tea, the ceviche, our boutique hotel.

The next morning we started climbing. The paths through the woods were narrow, rocky, and we went up and down in a sinusoidal pattern. In many places, the narrow footpaths opened into large deep valleys, having us almost instinctively trying to support our backs against the mountain wall. It became hard not to get dizzy looking down. Some of the paths were built by the old Incas, and we started listening to stories about how, hundreds of years ago, the Incas were able to transverse the mountains much faster than imaginable.

With each level of altitude, my breathing became faster. After half a day, the pauses became longer. The valleys and snowy mountain peaks offered extraordinary views, and my eyes and mind were enchanted by what I was witnessing, and somewhat inebriated by the rarefied air up high.  We continued to climb, and the layers of clothing also became more numerous. We then penetrated the white fluffy clouds. I felt I was at the roof of the world.

At 12,000 feet up high, we found a small windy tent on a naked peak, where we rented mountain bikes. We biked down 5000 feet, on a sharp edged track. For two hours, while biking, and being only with myself, I was in a state of bliss, looking around me at the immense beauty of the mountains, while touching the whitest purest snow and the vapors of the clouds, and taking in the cold yet powerful rays of sun.

We reached a turbulent large river, and continued our trip on a rafting boat, until sunset. I had an enormous collection of emotions that kept accumulating through the day, and that, to that time, I was unable to let out. While rafting, we started screaming and laughing, while being hit by waves of cold water from all directions.

The sunset came quickly and the night even quicker. We started climbing on an abrupt path through the woods with large savage trees, while the night became deep and dark. We were on an unknown path, at the end of a first day that tested our physical and mental resistance, and we felt strong and alive.

 

 

 

 

Peru

Peru happened to me seven months ago. We were looking to spend a week in a different way, in a far enough place.  After a first stop in Miami, where we had enough time to go for a swim in the warm waters of the Atlantic, we continued on a plane to Lima. Six hours later, around midnight, we landed in Lima, and waited another six for the first flight to Cusco. The five day hiking trip that followed, came with impressive historical sites, and breathtaking views of the Andes. The trip was exhausting, but our excitement overcame any physical limitation. Along the way, we spent the nights and ate comida tipica with the peruvians,  met people from five different continents and and learnt about the culture, music and crafts of this amazing country. A week was not enough, but each day was different and soul filling. This story will take us from sea level to the mountain tops of the Andes, overlooking the Inca valleys. Enjoy!

India- the final chapter

After journeying through Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra, Khajuraho and Varanasi, I was controlled by contradictory emotions. Admiration and respect for an old civilization, its power and religiousness, were mixed with disbelief, disgust and fear of unknown. India is too complicated for an outsider to even try to begin to understand in a few days. The day we landed in India, I was excited about the novelty, but it very quickly overwhelmed me. By the end of the ten days, I felt I needed to take a break and escape to a place I would have more control over. We flew to Goa and spent the last four days of our visit there.

Goa with its beaches is unlike the rest of India and unlike similar places on other continents. Goa retained a strong Portuguese influence, with its houses with large colorful terraces hidden by exuberant tropical green vegetation. I cannot recall the last place I have been to where locals were so gentle, so helpful and so relaxed, imposing on every visitor to be the same. The gorgeous blue sky, sunlight, the moon bigger than elsewhere, the smell and sound of the ocean, the white sands, the palm trees, the night lights, the music and the food, and, above all, that sensation of pure and intense freedom, were exactly what I needed to come to ease with myself and settle my rambling soul.

I loved every second I spent in Goa, and if the rest of our journey was a marathon, I fully let myself be in Goa, and refueled with loads of energy. The days then went too fast and before we knew it, we were on a plane back home.

It was in London where I felt I was waking up from a dream. I was emerging from such a different world and suddenly what was around me was again what I knew. I could not believe that all the images, sounds, emotions from the last two weeks, actually happened to me.

It took another week or month to fully engage in my daily routine. Of all the places I have been to so far, India was the strongest. I will end by saying again that everyone should go to India once in their life and try on self all the feelings and sensations. I know now that I understand myself better, that I have become a newer, more complex person, and that I look at what is around me in a different way…

Thank you for reading. I will see you in the next journey…

India- chapter eight

When we arrived in Varanasi, the sky was overcast and the locals abused by an unexpected amount of rain.  An hour later, following a trip through swampy roads, we came close to the Ghats. The car left us at a road intersection where only pedestrians were allowed. We started walking through an enormous mass of locals, tourists, sadhus, pilgrims, cows.  A frazzled boy was selling fruit on a torn dirty piece of garment. Right next to him, another was cooking in a gigantic wok. Men were standing in line at an improvised barber shop. Another was milking a cow. A sac of garbage was set on fire. Another man sat next to a small hindu statue making flower garlands; ringing bells, intoxicating pungent smells were mixed with oriental incense; this scene was obsessively repeating with each step. My senses were saturated. I felt incapacitated, unable to comprehend and unable to follow all that was developing in front of me.

After a few more steps, we arrived at the Ghats. The Ganges seemed enormous, and the people became more numerous. Tens of small shrines and temples, with candle lights, flowers and statues of Hindu gods, were scattered all over.  Bells, incense and lights initiated the evening prayer ceremony. We sat down to listen and watch.

Walking back, through the same disarray, my mind was racing. As a westerner, I felt misplaced. The day was a day of too many people, beliefs, concepts I could not understand.  Inside though, I developed admiration for those around me, who had the ability to feel happy and content with less than imaginable, for their powerful religiousness and their force to see way beyond the attainable.

The next day, at dawn, more of Varanasi became available to us, from a wooden oar boat. The first rays of sun caught hundreds of people in their ritual morning bath into the Ganges, saluting the new day. Burning ash at cremation sites made place for the new bodies that were going to be burnt by the river and freed from the samsara. Motionless sadhus were sitting on the shores, facing the rising sun, in their perpetual prayer; they were away from this world, from the visible, and into a better place.

Varanasi depleted me by overwhelming my senses and my thoughts. Varanasi is timeless, and so are its people. It was the same a thousand years ago, and will remain unchanged for another thousand. After two days in Varanasi, I had to take a few days, away, and liberate myself from too much unknown…