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You’ll Love Medellín’s Charlee Hotel for its EcoFriendly & Hip Design

May 24, 2016 by  

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Medellín is one of Latin America’s most progressive and innovative cities so, of course, I wanted to be in the heart of the action. The Charlee Hotel definitely has an appealing location but just the icing on the cake. As a fairly low-key traveler, it was refreshing to find a hotel that had all my criterion for a perfect stay: central location, easy access to culture, eco-friendly and boutique in size. The Charlee blends into the city so well that I actually thought we had pulled up to posh restaurant when we first arrived. Surrounded by art galleries, quirky bars and luxe design studios, I was in my happy place for sure. As if that wasn’t enough, I learned that the Charlee is both rooted in the arts and dedicated to eco-friendly initiatives. The hotel commissioned local street artists to paint murals in both the garage and in the stairwells so if you arrive sans car like I did, make sure to take the stairs! Considering how high-end the property is, I was pleasantly surprised how well graffiti and avant-garde art is integrated into the overall design. Pay close attention to the artwork on the various floors, too, as these exhibits feature both established and up-and-coming talent.

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New York City’s Tagines for Hookah & Belly Dancing

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How do you feel about kitschy restaurants?  You know, like the Christmas ornament overload at Rolf’s or the hot pepper twinkle light craziness at Panna II?  Yes, it’s completely over the top bordering on ridiculous, but I’m on the team that it’s completely fun, too. It’s no surprise I was a huge fan of Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant skirting the neighborhoods of Times Square/The Garment District–two places locals usually try to avoid like the plague.  But there really are some gems in the area–don’t let the tourists have all the fun. What I liked best about Tagine was that it felt like so much more than a typical dinner–it was an experience.  If I tuned out the drunk Irish men at the bar (just examples of tourists having all that fun!), it was like being transported to Morocco for the night.  Twenty blocks away from my apartment but a world away. The service was so on point (my water glass never got less than half full), the food was delicious (get a tagine, obviously, as well as the Casablanca cous cous for your main, olive tapenade with their oven roasted bread to start, and baklava for dessert), the…

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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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The Mursi Culture in Southern Ethiopia’s Omo Valley

April 13, 2016 by  

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Many of us who grew up in Western countries were brought up to believe in a very narrow definition of beauty, and the media pounding us with images of skinny, fair top models with long hair hasn’t helped. But really, what is beauty? The Mursi people help us redefine beauty — a multi-faceted word which can mean different things to different people. redefine beauty Mursi woman wearing the clay plate she is most famous for in Minisha Village Determined to grasp the concept a little better, I decided to set out on a journey to the Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia where the Mursi reside to find out more about what beauty means from the women who are most famous for wearing clay plates in their lower lips. It took me a couple of days to reach the Mago National Park — home to their villages. Considering Ethiopia’s very rich historical and cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes, every second of the trip was worth it. redefine beauty Natural landscape around Arba Minch In Arba Minch, I met my driver and local guide, Solomon Gezu Haileameriam – the young and ambitious founder…

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How Many German Products & Cultural Factoids Do You Know?

April 5, 2016 by  

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Lace Making Wooden bobbins
There’s something about this Made in Germany road trip that feels cathartic. It’s stirring so many memories of my childhood and my trips to my grandparent’s homes. At times it feels like I’m getting the missing pieces to a puzzle I started 40+ years ago about my upbringing and family. Little things jarred memories – like the brass candle holder with paper skirt found on a table at a restaurant in Triberg. We had something similar on our dinging room table in my childhood home. The strawberry preserves I had in Bad Nauheim reminded me immediately of my Grandma Ott’s strawberry sauce she canned to put on ice cream. The taste was the same. I started to wonder if I was just imagining it. Was this my brain running wild with memories? And then there was the wooden cabbage slicer hanging at the Black Forest museum which was exactly like the one my dad used in our basement when he spent the day making sauerkraut; a day I hated as it made the whole house smell. Our family heritage and how we grow up shapes us, it becomes a tightly


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DENT 2016: From Eradicating Malaria & Disruptive Ideas to Virtual Reality

March 30, 2016 by  

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Putting a dent in the future — isn’t that a compelling idea? And, what’s even more compelling is that it means such different things to different people and why the eclectic DENT Conference in Sun Valley Idaho, is so unique. From technologists, entrepreneurs and scientists, to artists, astronauts and Olympic Gold medalists, people gather around to hear radical new ideas, learn from the best of the best and share their best practices, all under the roof of the Sun Valley Inn, a stone’s throw from Baldy Mountain and incredible skiing, even in the Spring. The brain child of Seattle-based Steve Broback and Jason Preston, DENT is now in its fourth year and my third year of attending, DENT’s format is a mix of educational, interactive and thought provoking, with un-conference break-out sessions, fireside chats and general talks. Since the backbone of the conference stems from the technology community, it seemed fitting that American futurist and author Amy Webb would speak. As the Founder of the Future Today Institute and an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, she dabbles in a lot of projects. She asks us wryly: “What happens

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