Monthly Archives: October 2010

Vicarious Vacations #3: Hydra town, Greece

Happy Friday and welcome to another Vicarious Vacation. I can’t even express how excited I am to travel with you today! Our destination promises beauty, relaxation and of course some amazing food. We are off to the Greek island of Hydra. A completely car free town, that is known for its magical architecture, stunning beaches and wonderful walking trails. Rental cars are so last year…let’s use our feet and explore this gorgeous destination! We may have to forgo our stilettos but it will be worth it!

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Let’s board the ferry and I’ll tell you more about the island on the ride…

Fans of mythology will recall that Hydra was actually a nine-headed sea monster, sister to Medusa. Yikes! Don’t worry though, no such beast inhabits this majestic island.  Of course, the word Hydra is also derived from the Greek word for water…which is a little more appropriate. The island of Hydra is in the Argo-Saronic Archipelago, between the islands of Poros and Spetses. Map here. Popular with artists, Hydra town, is home to quaint tavernas, chic boutiques and a gorgeous coastline.  Being completely car free, (except for the town’s garbage collection trucks) one must get here via ferry. Donkeys…yes, donkeys and water taxis are the only forms of transportation once on the island.

Looks like we are approaching the island. Beautiful isn’t it?

Yah! We’re here! Let’s go check into our hotel…change into some comfortable (but cute) shoes and go exploring.

Welcome to the Hotel Miranda. Nestled amongst the white washed cottages of Hydra town, this historical building dates back to 1810 and was originally built by a wealthy sea-captain. Its 18th and 19th century artwork and furniture only add to its nostalgic charm.

That’s it up ahead…

I got us lovely suites, that are simple and elegant.

Isn’t that white stone archway wonderful? I love the clean white walls with the contrasting dark floors and furnishings.

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Great view from our rooms! Love the bougainvillea…

Okay ready to head out? Let’s go!

You will see this blue and white architecture all over the town. Charming isn’t it?

So pretty! Let’s stroll down to the harbor…I think there is an open market today.

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My tummy is a rumbling…so…let’s go find some gorgeous place to have lunch and soak up some sun. I’m thinking ocean side…

Welcome to the Sunset Restaurant. Famous here and highly prized by the locals and tourists alike.

Don’t worry…I got us a better table than that. Only the best for us vicarious vacationers!

Images via Sunset Restaurant

How’s this? Not too shabby eh? Amazing view – check. Sunshine – check. Now for some food and drink!

Is it too early for Ouzo? No, of course not. We have to have a toast after all…and what better than ouzo to kick off lunch. Ouzo is Greece’s national drink and has a strong anise or licorice flavor to it. You don’t need much of this potent little liquor before you understand why the Greeks love it so! The expression “Opa!” is often used upon toasting, which translates to happiness and good life!

Let’s start our meal with a traditional Cretan Salad…recipe here. So lovely, crunchy and fresh. I swear I could eat feta cheese all day…

Have you ever heard of Haloumi? Well, it’s a Greek cheese that originated in Cyprus. It’s made with a blend of goat and sheep milk, which gives it a mild, salty flavor and because of its high melting point, it can be fried or grilled. At the Sunset Restaurant, they serve it with tomatoes and pitta bread…shall we give it a go? (recipe)

When on the Grecian islands, one must take advantage of the fresh bounty of seafood! Lobster spaghetti is a true Greek delight! Recipe. Sweet, succulent lobster meat, freshly made pasta, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Yum!

On to dessert…although not on the Sunset Restaurant’s menu, I couldn’t resist including one of my all time favorite desserts (which also happens to be very Greek) – Baklava. I adore this stuff. Recipe.

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Wasn’t that an amazing Greek meal. I’m stuffed.  How about a hike up to an old monastery ending up with a nap on the beach?

We could ride this cute little guy…but I didn’t spend a fortune on these hiking sandals for nothing. Come on, we’ve got calories to burn.

Almost there…

This monastery was actually built in 1813, by the monk Ierotheos. Of the four monasteries on Hydra, this one is the most famous and frequently visited. Four monks still reside here. What a peaceful existence it must be, nestled among the mountains, overlooking the town.

So beautiful…

I am ready for some down time. Let’s head to the beach to work on our tan and have a little snooze.

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I think Mandraki beach will do nicely. Can you believe the color of the water! Stunning! Sit back, relax and enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Thank you so much for coming to Greece with me. I hope you enjoyed our little adventure on this jewel of an island.  Next week we head off to a new destination. It will be the last of this series (for now at least). Where are we going? It’s a surprise! Make sure you come back on Friday so you don’t miss it.

Have a fantastic weekend!

xo,

audio via freesound.org

Gallery of images can be viewed here.

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Golden leaves at my feet

I took these pictures the other day outside my friend’s home. Autumn, to me, is a magical season. A time to watch the mastery of nature’s brush, while preparing for the colder days to come. To plan, dream, consider, ponder and reflect. After the spontaneous energy of Summer, Fall feels quiet, thoughtful and comforting.

The golden leaves, both at my feet and overhead, dazzled my eyes; the sapphire sky, the perfect contrast.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

What do you love about this season?

I hope your path is paved with golden leaves.

xo,

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Home office makeover

For the past 48 hours, we’ve been hard at work redoing my home office…or as I like to lovingly refer to it – my studio. For months, I had put off re-designing it. Not really sure why? I think  I was scared I would make a mistake but finally I worked up the courage and tackled it. Chris devoted some of our budget to it and voila – a NEW creative space for Grace & I!!! Check it out…

Now Grace and I have a space to craft together. She loves her new “big girl” table!

The decor is a blend of new pieces from Ikea and old items I’ve collected from various antique and thrift stores.  I like the contrast between the clean white lines and the imperfection of the found objects.

Now this room feels like me!

Do you have a special place in your home where you create?

Have a beautiful Wednesday!

xo,

p.s. Don’t forget…we are off to Greece on Wednesday! If you missed our other “trips” catch up here and here.

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Filed under Home, interior design, News, Thoughts

A New Favorite Artist: Geninne D. Zlatkis

Roaming through the lovely realm of Etsy, I happened upon this wonderful artist. I truly adore her work!

As many of you know…I have a thing for birds and I just ordered one of her lovely creations. This one to be exact – Meet Bird # 13. Isn’t she precious? I was drawn to the soft hues of blue and green. I also love how the little bird looks curious, as if she’s trying to read those old labels. So sweet.

Here are some others that caught my eye…needless to say, it was tough to pick one. I think I might have to start a collection.

I really enjoy the graphic nature of her style and the beautiful incorporation of vintage labels, tags and postcards. Go visit her Etsy shop for more gorgeous art! Also, you must visit her amazing blog. So inspiring!! She was also recently a Featured Etsy seller…read her interview here.

What do you think of her work? Are you a bird fan too?

Okay, I’m off to research our next Vicarious Vacation destination: Greece!

Have a lovely Monday. Mine should be rainy but productive! I’m redesigning my studio…finally! I will be posting before and after pics soon! In the meantime, here’s my inspiration.

xo,

All images via Geninne’s Etsy Store

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Vicarious Vacations #2: Ronda, Spain

Happy Friday! Ready for our next fabulous trip? I am! Today we are headed to Ronda, an ancient city in the Spanish province of Málaga. Map here. Spending time with you in Tuscany last week was simply amazing but we have much to look forward to today.  Strolling through this historic town, we are sure to encounter breathtaking views, sip Spanish wines and munch on traditional delights. A dash of culture and a little history are on the agenda too. We have to be well-rounded travelers right? Okay, enough chit chat…let’s go!

Image via flexijourney.com

Let me introduce you to Ronda. No, it’s not the girl from accounting but rather an incredible city dating back to Neo-lithic times. Yes, I’m talking cave paintings and they have real ones here seen in the Cueva de la Pileta. From the Celts, to the Romans and the Moors, this city has a long standing in the history books.  Perched 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the El Tajo canyon it offers majestic views of the surrounding valley.

Now that you have been formally introduced, let’s check into our hotel…

I searched and searched to find us the perfect haven. Just outside of town I found this jewel – Hotel la Fuente de la Higuera! Expensive? Of course, but if you are going to vicariously travel you have to go BIG!  Isn’t it gorgeous?

Listen to the beautiful sounds of the Spanish countryside…(this is an actual recording from this area in Spain)

We must come back here to watch the sun set over the valley and delight in a large glass of wine…

The grounds are simply divine…let’s go inside and check out our room!

Oh my…

Images via hotellafuente.com

I hope this will do! Now, come on let’s head back into town and explore. I’m getting hungry, as usual.

To cross into Ronda we will traverse one of its three impressive bridges.

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Let’s go exploring…

Listen to the sounds of the city…

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Oooh…look at this beautiful, hand painted pottery! All the gorgeous colors of Spain…might have to get some of these. Shop for them here.

Speaking of dishes…I’m getting a tad peckish… and I just happen to know that Don Miguel is the place to eat!

Images via DonMiguel

Perched along the cliff side this dramatic hotel and restaurant are famous for the fantastic views and traditional cuisine. Let’s try some local dishes! Are you game?

Let’s start with gazpacho. Mmm…a lovely cold tomato soup that got its start right here in Southern Spain. Recipe here.

We simply must have the Paella! It’s quite famous here! A sumptuous mix of seafood, spiced sausage and meats, fresh herbs and rice, get ready to seriously eat your fill!  Recipe.Let’s wash it all down with a fine bottle of Spanish wine. In Ronda, wine is a serious business with a 6000 year old history. They even have a Museum of Wine! This is my kind of place.

What’s that? Your sweet tooth is complaining…no worries, let’s feast on some Churros con Chocolate!

Translation: Fried dough dipped in warm, rich, chocolate…sigh…drool. Recipe.

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What’s next? Oh right…we have to get our culture/history fix.

Did you know that modern bullfighting originated here? Ronda’s bullring is the oldest and most ornate in the country. In the 18th century bullfighters went from horseback to the pedestrian matador that we think of today. Ronda’s own famous fighter was Pedro Romero, who apparently slayed many thousands of bulls without injury. You may think that this bullring sees regular use but today, the sport is more of an annual event. I’m sure the bulls appreciate this.

Every girl likes a spa but how about an ancient bath house? Sound intriguing? Let’s take a little walk and head below the city to the Arab Baths dating back to the 11th century.

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These bath ruins are some of the best preserved in Europe. Amazing aren’t they? It’s no coincidence that the baths are at the entrance to the city, since Ronda was the gateway to a large Muslim population who believed that one must purify themselves upon entering.  It’s fascinating to understand what it took to heat the waters. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to anything anthropological, so if you are curious and want to learn more watch this video.

Okay all that eating, drinking and learning has made me rather tired. Let’s head back to the hotel and nap, poolside.

Ahhh…that was a lovely trip wasn’t it? I so enjoyed learning about this incredible town. So full of history!

What did you like on our trip? Have you ever actually been to Spain?

Thank you for joining me. Next week we will be headed to beautiful Greece! Don’t miss it!

xo,

p.s. If you are wondering why I didn’t take us to the big cities of Spain or Italy, it is because I am trying to focus on the more hidden spots…the not so obvious destinations. I feel like it gives us more of a sense of discovery…finding secret places to explore. Make sense?

Audio via freesound.org

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