Friends have told me that this alpine region in the mountains of France was a lovely place to visit, and I have been very fortunate to have the chance to see it for myself. Though unplanned, my visit brought me here at the best time of the year – autumn. As the leaves turned golden and red, the whole town held onto what was left of the solstice, before the colder winds crawled in. It was lovely!
Fashion comes and goes, but style is eternal… This statement couldn’t be more visible when we stayed at the Cotton House Autograph Collection hotel in Barcelona. Everything about it spoke of old-world wealth and beauty. We loved that it was so central in the city, but at the same time you could find peace within its walls whenever you need a break from the outside world. We loved every single detail the hotel team had put their attention to, down to the cotton blooms you’ll find in your room and even bathrooms.
Before it was a hotel, it used to house the Cotton Textile Foundation, until it started an intense refurbishment in 2015 that leads to the beauty that it is today. It’s surprising and inspiring how the interior designers were able to keep and retain so many original elements from the 19th century neoclassical building. If you want to know more about the history of the Cotton House Hotel, click here.
Just recently I’ve realized that taking photos sometimes doesn’t suffice anymore, for me. Most of my memories from the places I’ve traveled to, are captured in still shots – and they don’t always show what I might have seen or felt at the time. So I invested in a 4k GoPro camera just before going to Europe in springtime this year, and I loved that it was so easy to carry around with me. Here’s the video diary I made from our trip to Spain, Andorra, and Portugal. Enjoy!
Port wine may be famous all over the world, but it isn’t the only thing that makes Porto interesting. Porto happens to be the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, and the city is one of the oldest European centers, so it comes as no surprise that Unesco has claimed it as a world heritage site since 1996.
What I saw in the streets proved more than enough reason to have the city preserved. The Airbnb we stayed in, for example, was a beautiful 19th century home, with 15-foot high ceilings and verandas that welcomed a cool breeze in between spring and summer. All the houses on the street had similar facades, and they intrigued me about the history and what it must have been like to live in this street more than a hundred years ago.
A native man sang in a foreign tongue,
I still ache to know the song that he sung,
It’s no wonder why a lot of people like the idea of getting lost in Barcelona. A city thriving with culture, history, and delicious food and merriment, I myself would learn Spanish to stay in the city.
With thousands of years of history’s worth buried beneath its old houses and streets, it’s a mystery what stories are yet to be discovered. On one afternoon, as we were walking along the historic center of La Rambla, we stopped outside a building that housed an ongoing excavation project. Believe it or not, ruins of a Roman city that once stood there can still be found, underneath normal looking houses today.
Now that I’ve been to Barcelona, I cannot separate the city with the works of Gaudi, in my head. Everywhere I look a snippet of Gaudi’s inspiration can be found. From La Sagrada Familia, to commissioned family houses, to Park Guell, and even to tiles that decorate walls and plates, they all remind me of the artist’s work. He lived a truly extraordinary life that is a great source of inspiration for artists all over the world.
I don’t even know where to begin with food… every small plate of tapas led to another until our hearts were full and content. The explosion of flavors in our tongues was just heaven. And of course we could not resist having paellas almost every other day. My favorite will always be Paella Negra with squid ink, and it never seems to fail.
Locals do so many things that is almost unheard of in other countries. Closing shop everyday after lunch for siesta sounded strange to me. Having dinner at 9 or 10 also sounded too late to me. But once you’re there, you’ll find it easy to fall into the same pattern as what locals do. And it’s almost romantic how the culture can charm and enchant you, with sincere serenades from a Spanish guitar.