My baby sister, Natalie. I feel lucky I get to travel with her. Even though we argue, annoy each other and pick on each other from time to time, I know that we laugh, love and support each other more than anything else. At the end of the day I know that I can’t do without her. My little babe.
I remember back when we were little girls, I hated when our mom would dress us up in the same outfits. I was a child desperate for her independence, and that went all the way down to the color of my shoe ties. Flash forward to the present day, and here we are, Natalie and I, wearing the same Carolina K dress in different colors, but purposefully. Oh man can things change over time. It goes to show that maturity really is a thing that can fully come to fruition. I’m sure mama is proud 🙂
Love you Nat Nat 🙂 Photos taken in Carmel, California one peaceful morning. xx
There’s something undeniably special about the California coastline, as you make your way towards Central California but not quite all the way north just yet. For me, it’s still close enough to home, but at the same time it feels like I’m transported lightyears away. It’s a quiet sort of loudness that is spoken by the crash of the waves just a few blocks away, the stars that seem to twinkle brighter than ever, and the reliable rainfall that calls for an early night in. That’s exactly what I think about when I visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, a little escapist town on the coast north of the famously fantastic Big Sur. This place sounded like the perfect city to start the first day of the new year in. My family and I, we just came out of a pretty crazy and busy holiday week, and we weren’t looking for a party or a town that would keep us up all night. No, were looking for some peace and quiet, and a whole lot of nature. A drive up the California coast was exactly what we were in pursuit of. And here at Hotel Carmel in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, we found a gem of a spot to spend three delightfully slow days in. Hotel Carmel feels like home. Slightly bohemian in style, but with a minimalistic nature that suits everyone’s tastes I would assume. As soon as I walked into the front lobby, I was warmly greeted by a rustic brown leather couch covered with Southwestern style pillows. The wood of the decor was earthy and warm all around the innermost portion of the lobby. I felt like I was transported back in time to a place where the fireplace is always lit. The side of the lobby near the front windows was brighter and lighter, with shades of blue complementing white walls. It was a nod to the sea that was just a few blocks away I was pretty sure about that. Instantly, I felt like I could kick up my feet for however long that I pleased. Now that’s how a hotel should make one feel.
The rooms were spacious in just the right amount; simple yet modern feeling. My room had shuttered windows that allowed the morning light to stream in like a hazy dream. The bed was so warm and cozy that I forgot that it rained nearly the entire evening before. I always slept well to the sound to those drops. The rain, it’s a part of Carmel, and it’s the reason for its lush beauty. It’s the reason why Carmel is where one goes to find peace and comfort in the quieter things, like a good book on the deck outside of one’s room, a glass of red wine to be drunk long and slow (there’s complementary wine hour in the lobby every evening at 5:30pm), or a melodically paced walk down streets that seem to wind in circles but that bring you to surprises at every corner (like a jaw-dropping Spanish-tiled staircase or one of the most authentic bowls of pasta one could ever try outside of Italy). Really, Carmel-by-the-Sea is completely walkable, and we only used our car to drive farther south along the coast to Big Sur. It made it one of the most convenient and effortless of trips.
The friendliest of staff is always there to greet you. In the morning, a well-rounded continental breakfast awaits in the lobby for all guests before they start their morning adventures exploring Carmel and its neighboring cities. Hiking, swimming at the beach, going for a run, taking the dogs for a walk, getting inspired by the panoramic views along the coast. There’s so much to do and see. I think Carmel and its neighboring Big Sur are sure to bring out the photographer in every person. The simplicity of nature and its beauty is really what these places are all about. Below the lobby is a bar with good food owned by the hotel called Brophy’s Tavern. It’s a favorite of locals in the area!
One of my favorite parts of our stay at Hotel Carmel was the outdoor patio and fire pit, along with the intimate hot tub. It’s this hot tub and fire pit that we started conversations with tourists from all over the world, each having unique stories on what brought them to Carmel. Couples. Families. The lone traveler. As someone born and bred in California, I have always known of Carmel, but never really gave it a good chance because I always put other, more exotic places higher up on my t0-see list. I road tripped along the coast a few times, but always passed by Carmel! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate more what is closer to home. What’s literally in my own backyard (or at least a 5 hour drive north of where I was born). I’m glad that I decided to explore more of what is more accessible within California during this trip home for the holidays. There is such an expansive array of landscapes and paces of life within this wonderful state, I can understand now why tourists come from all over the world to Carmel to see what all the mystery is about. Just about everyone we met at the hotel was on there way to or from San Francisco, and made sure that Carmel was the place to stop by on the way. That speaks loads. It looks like everyone is looking for a peaceful retreat on their international travels more often nowadays. And Big Sur, which I mentioned before. To rest ones eyes on the cliffs and rocks and green and sea in the way that it is meld together as it is in Big Sur, is to really understand what the meaning of what the word “meditative” is. The views easily calm as much as they excite the imagination. It’s a balance that is so unique to this part of the California coast.
Our stay at Hotel Carmel was magical to say the least. I left well-rested and recharged. Exactly what a new year should have us feeling like. Looking forward. Not dragging on what’s behind. I hope to be back very, very soon!! Thank you Hotel Carmel for our stay 🙂
This past year was a whirlwind of beautiful and delightful destinations. I feel like I’ve already spoken so much about what I’ve been grateful for in my self reflective blog posts from the past few months, that I felt like focusing instead on the places that I got to explore in the past 12 months. New places and old. With each place, I feel like I’ve built upon the foundation of myself. My independence and confidence heightened as more parts of the world entered my eyes and brain. My travel have given me a perspective that happened to just put everything in a place where there became no room for taking things for granted. My spontaneous trips have made even more pronounced the fact that taking chances can very well be worth the gamble. That no matter what, if you open your eyes and heart to what may seem strange and unknown, new places can seem like old friends in a very surprising way. The most amazing part is how different every place is from each other. Yet with time and energy spent enough, you can really find parts of yourself in each and every culture. What seems unlikely on the first day may become second nature by the third. But that adrenaline rush that comes with adventure . . . it’s priceless. I’ve fallen in love again with the city I grew up in. I visited Paris three times this past year, and no three visits have been the same at all. I learned that the world can be even more vibrant as the most abstract of art. That you can literally feel like you are walking in a painting. I traveled to keep from feeling sheltered. I traveled to find love. I traveled to find ambition. I traveled to see hope in new starts. I traveled to keep from getting bored. I traveled to hide from the cold. I traveled to escape work. I traveled for work. I traveled to reconnect with family. I traveled to take pictures. I traveled to head bang to bands I like. And bands that I dislike. I traveled for no darn reason at all. And I have come to find that any reason you have to travel, take it. And immerse yourself with full force. You’ll be surprised at all the parts of yourself you will become aware of that you never were aware of before. And that’s the most amazing part.
PARK CITY, UTAH
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
I always like to keep count of all the places I visit in a year. It makes me want to pinch myself. Here are some highlights from a few of my favorite travel destinations from the past year. You can look up these travels by entering the destination in my search bar at the top right hand corner of my blog.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
LA FORTUNA and PENINSULA PAPAGAYO, COSTA RICA
REIMS and PARIS, FRANCE
SASQUASH and VANCOUVER, CANADA
I hope your 2017 is full of love and motivation and confidence. Surround yourself with things that make you happy no matter what 🙂 xx
I never got around to sharing photos on this space from trip to Brazil a few months ago to visit my man. I spent a little under a week in the beautiful south of Brazil, where we grew up, exploring parts Dois Irmãos, Porto Allegre, Novo Hamburgo, Gramado, Canela, and one of my favorites . . . a six hour drive to Santa Catarina where I found some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (and the most peaceful, especially at the time of the year we in). Praia do Rosa was an exquisite blue dream from the top of the hilly sides that encapsulated it. I could imagine what a lively colorful rainbow this beach would be in high summer. The idea of drinking caipirinhas while getting burnet shoulders like a true Brazilian would excites me so much. And those caipirinhas! I’m already missing the taste of them and the summery relaxed feeling they washed over me. My boyfriend makes them soooo good. But I enjoyed the quiet and calmness of this beach and all the beaches in this area, in the springtime.
The center of Porto Allegre, the most liveliest of the small towns we visited. It felt like a real city. Parts of it reminded me so much of Los Angeles, it was sort of a surreal feeling. But it made me feel at home, and especially with my man by my side. Eating really good Italian food. Who would have thought some of the best pasta I had so far would be in Brazil?! We laughed as we drove down the city streets as we took count of locals walking with portable mugs of chimarrão tea (also known as yerba mate), the traditional tea drank but Southern Brazilians. Everyone drinks it down there! It’s extra caffeinated! Best to be enjoyed in an intimate setting out of a shared cup. hehe.
Then there was Gramado, a German-inspired mountain town. It gave me feelings of Christmas in a place where I thought only summer existed. European-esque chocolate shops, Alpine chalets (fondue anyone?), and other touristy places that seemed something out of a Hollywood movie that parodied Hollywood. There was a theme park for just about everything here. The only thing missing was the snow and holiday lights. It really opened my eyes to the diversity and multi-cultural history of Brazil. There is a strong sense of worldliness rooted here, and that is very modern.
Spending time in the smaller towns and experiencing a slower pace of day to day things eased me and shed my last few leftover layers of a New York Fashion Week and Brooklyn birthday celebrations. I didn’t do my hair, I slept in late, I hardly wore makeup, my dressing was simple,and I didn’t mind just spending each night watching a movie with my man and eating a home cooked meal in the home of his family. It all felt so simple and lovely, but most importantly it made me fully relax and tune out from work and social media. I felt perfectly in the present. And that is what I will remember the most from my first time in this amazing country. I hope to be back soon 🙂 I think Rio is calling my name.