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The San Francisco Arts Festival’s HERE!

May 20, 2016 by  

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The San Francisco International Arts Festival will take place through June 5 in San Francisco. This weekend CALI & Co and Matt El bring the HERE show to the area guest collaborators Kyoungil Ong and Sooyeon Lyuh from the USA and Korea. HERE captures the rapture of existence through a new piece de resistance by CALI & CO dance/Matt EL music with guest collaborators Kyoungil Ong/Ong Dance Company and Sooyeon Lyuh. HERE is a rare, creative amalgamation of identity and culture through traditional Korean dance and music with American modern dance and rock music. Coursing shadow and light through its structure, HERE seeks to highlight the beauty and soften the pain of existence. It is a shared bill with Dana Lawton Dances at the Cowell Theater. More info including how to get tickets and background on other performances over the next couple of weeks can be found at www.sfiaf.org/.


Culturally Vibrant Brooklyn: Walk, Eat, Stay

May 17, 2016 by  

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It’s ironic that so many things come full circle in our lives, including where we hang our hat, then don’t for awhile and then do….again! When I was in my early twenties, I used to stay with a childhood friend at his crash pad in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. Then, for years, I stayed with friends on the lowest east side, lower west side, upper west side, upper east, even the Bronx, but Brooklyn wasn’t part of my “go-to” anymore despite the fact that it’s become a New York borough gem with its trendy shops and restaurants sprouting up everywhere. While Williamsburg has become the overpriced yuppified hot spot over the last decade, there are other new neighborhoods and sections of  neighborhoods getting rejuvenated all the time. I loved Red Hook when I stayed in the area for an Austrian event a couple of years ago — let’s just say that this marvelous dinner in a funky red brick building on Brooklyn’s Van Brunt Street was incredibly memorable. Central Brooklyn feels more gentrified every day and my local friends concur. In April, I stayed in Brooklyn when I headed back to New York for the New York Travel Festival,…

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Paris in Spring: Schizophrenic, Spicy, Romantic & Just Parfait!

May 3, 2016 by  

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I think Paris is schizophrenic. One is the city that exists in my head that comes from the hundreds of guidebooks I have read up and ‘top-10-favourite’ lists I have browsed in the Internet. Its an impression created by reviews in Trip advisor and hotel rates on Airbnb. And Rick Steves. It’s the city of the sights. The museums, the Louvre, the Monalisa, the Eiffel. And that’s the image I would form naturally before I ever visit Paris.

“I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.”–Amy Thomas

The other is the city that I see when I visit Paris. The surreal image that has been created by watching movies, reading love stories and listening to French pronounciations. One that  surprises me that the long distances  seem quite short actually; the enormous boulevards and pavements that are considerably wider than the roads; the naughty temperatures that seem to make a recorded 8 degrees in the evening seem warmer than the 16 degrees in the afternoon; the contrast between the bright patisserie, its even brighter furniture and…

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The Playful, Creative & Culinary Side of London

May 1, 2016 by  

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Let’s face it — the thing I like best about London, is that there is always something new to discover, no matter how many times you have visited the city. There is an urge every time to see the city through new lenses. Last time I wanted to see it in black and white and capture the familiarity it builds around you. It dealt with knowing little secrets, a little history and a little trivia. But then, I could afford that because of the luxury of time. This time it was a three day stop-over, but the urge in me to discover something new took over yet another time. So, this time it was a new and absolutely fascinating neighborhood, and a hell of an unique restaurant that I stumbled upon. Just north of Soho, near bustling Oxford Street, sits central London’s hidden neighborhood: Fitzrovia. Home to louche, boho types in the late 19th century (the Pre-Raphaelites and Oscar Wilde lounged in its bars), Fitzrovia’s leafy streets are lined with Edwardian-era apartments, neoclassical mansions, and onetime warehouses. The locality was first developed by Charles Fitzroy, lord of the manor of Tottenhall from 1757.  ( You guessed right! The bordering tube station and…

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The Culture, Grit & Graffiti of Colombia’s Medellin

April 30, 2016 by  

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My mind is still reeling from my recent trip to Colombia – so much creativity and so much color. If you didn’t get a chance to check out my Fashion Guide to Medellín, I highly recommend giving it a glance. There are so many talented local designers that are shaping the city into a fashion capital and the same can be said about the local artists that call Medellín home. Thanks to the insider knowledge I gained by being a guest at The Charlee Lifestyle Hotel, I learned that the street art scene is quite vibrant, even in comparison to other graffiti “capitals” throughout South America. In fact, the Charlee commissioned several artists to create graffiti-esque murals along the stairwell of the hotel and in their outdoor parking garage. There’s even a mural of a monkey on the building’s facade. Today’s post, however, is all about Comuna 13. Comuna 13 might be one of the poorest neighborhoods in Medellín but it’s full of personality and spirit. A lot of the deterioration started during the reign of drug lord, Pablo Escobar, thus causing many people to head to the hills…literally. Overpopulation led to other problems like electricity outages, sewage leaks and the like. That, and the…

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The Ultra-Style & Fashion Guide to Colombia’s Medellin

April 25, 2016 by  

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I was blown away by Medellín’s fashion scene and hopefully, you will be too after reading this style and glamour guide. During my stay at the ultra cool and eco-luxe Charlee Hotel, we trotted around town with one of Colombia’s top fashion influencers, Laura of Fashion Lessons. Since the Charlee is an upscale, boutique design hotel located in the heart of Medellín Colombia, it seemed fitting that we explore some of the independent designers who have helped shape the city into an emerging fashion capital. Whether you’re shopping for a new wardrobe or simply scrounging around for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, here are 8 must-know Colombian brands that are dominating Medellín’s fashion scene.

For Special Occasion: Andrés Pajón

Let’s start with the ultra-luxe label of the bunch. The Andrés Pajón brand was established in 2008 by Pajón and Cartagena, two highly creative designers and fashion enthusiasts, and they’ve been making fashion dreams come true ever since. Pajón is definitely inspired by elegant glamour like the type of gowns you’d see at the Oscars. Their Spring/Summer collection pays tribute to Medellín, as seen in the bright garment colors and intricate flower patterns. Well-designed and expertly executed, one of his gowns is well-worth the splurge. As gorgeous as his evening wear…

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Tom Rook’s Hao Haus Gallery Exhibit in Taiwan

April 15, 2016 by  

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In late March, we visited our friend Tom Rook at his art exhibit at HaoHaus in Taipei.  His original series of hand-drawn maps of cities in Taiwan are gaining a lot of attention from art lovers all over Taiwan, but his newest series of insect and city drawings have created a real buzz in the city lately. In fact, his “Dragonflies” illustration is being exhibited at Art Revolution Taipei between April 21st and 25th. It has been chosen as a finalist for the International Artist Grand Prize at Art Revolution Taipei! This is the second show we have attended to see Tom’s work. Both exhibits have been a wonderful way for us to learn about someone who has been in our lives for a long time. I have written about Tom before. He was one of the very first teachers I worked with in 2010 when I joined Reach To Teach and we have become good friends over the years. Tom is a British cartographer and self-taught artist who creates mostly in pencil, pen, and ink. His drawings of cities and urban changes in Taiwan and from his homeland are incredibly detailed. You can get lost in his artwork. Every time I look at…

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Transformative Travel: Visiting Namibia’s Himba Tribe

April 15, 2016 by  

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“Moro, moro,” I say in OtjiHimba, smiling into the smooth ochre-covered face of the Himba woman as I shake her hand, gripping her fingers by curling mine in, and shake once more. She’s beautiful, her dark brown skin glowing red from the grounded ochre stone made into powder, mixed with cow milk fat (the mixture is called otjize) and applied to the entire body for beauty, sun protection and skin health. She’s wearing her hair dreaded in thick clay ochre with it loose at the ends — symbolizing she’s gone through puberty, otherwise she would have two plaits of braided hair styled forward on top of the head, or one if she were a male. There’s a decorative erembe crown crafted from cow and goat leather on top meaning she’s married for at least a year or has a child, as well as decorative beads on her ankles lined with two leather stripes, signifying she has two children. She’s topless, her breasts hanging bare, though on her neck is a large shell necklace meant for beauty and on her waist is a calfskin skirt. “Where are is your boyfriend?” she asks, with my guide George translating. “At home,” I say. “You…

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