culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · relaxation · travel · wine

My Time in Spain Part 1 – My Time In Malaga

Hi friends! After spending a few days in Portugal (including taking in incredible sights around Lisboa, touring Sintra National Palace, time at Rock in Rio Lisboa, dinner at Hotel do Chiado’s rooftop bar, Entretanto, and an unexpected viewing of Sarah Ferreira’s art, I was off to my next stop. I flew TAP Air Portugal from Lisbon to Malaga, Spain, to embark on the next leg of my adventure.

I arrived in Malaga and was taken by private car to the town of Benalmadena, a beachy stretch a little less than two hours from Granada. I stayed at Hotel Best Siroco, a darling resort that offered all-inclusive packages as well as standard lodging. The hotel was beautiful, and the weather was divine!

My hotel was a short walk away from the beach and some fantastic local eateries. There was also some fantastic art and gorgeous flowers everywhere I went.

One beer, a good tan, some sangria, and many tapas later, I can confirm that Malaga is a must-see for people who love good food and lots of sun.

This one little town in Spain is such a jewel, and I can’t wait to return!

art · culture · international · life curation · luxury · travel

My Time in Portugal, Part 5 – Spotlight on Sarah Ferreira

This is my last Portugal post (I’m sorry to see this series end, but I’ll be sharing multiple posts about Spain next!) First, I wrote about my overall impression of Portugal. Then, I shared the fun I had at Rock in Rio Lisboa. Next, I talked about the beauty that is Sintra National Palace. And last week, I shared my experience at Hotel do Chiado and their rooftop bar restaurant, Entretanto.

At Hotel do Chiado, I visited the rooftop bar, and I was blown away by the beautiful artwork lining the corridors leading to the restaurant. It took me back to my fabulous time at Ibis Styles hotel in Nairobi, and the fabulous pieces created by Kenyan artist Tom Mboya. As I looked around, I found an artist bio posted in Portuguese (cue my rudimentary translation skills). The corridor was lined with art by Paris-born, Portugal-based artist Sarah Ferreira.

Upon further research, I determined that Ferreira doesn’t have a website (there is another Sarah Ferreira that creates art, but she is US-born and based). It appears that she has intentionally maintained a low-profile online. I love that she isn’t hyper-visible, yet her work is still being found by people all over the world (like me).

Here are some of the paintings/drawings done by Ferreira, which are on display in the hall leading to Entretanto. Enjoy!

Some of the depictions were fascinating re-imaginings of famous works (like the Mona Lisa), while others were renderings of famous faces (such as Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Audrey Hepburn). I love how Ferreira don’t try to create depth with subtle shading, but indicates a break in depth and saturation through the use of solid but fluid black lines. This striking visual effect makes her work have a bit of a mosaic effect, but you never forget that you’re looking at blocks of color that have been shaped to simulate human faces. Brilliant!

That’s all for my post about Sarah Ferreira. I certainly hope that she exhibits somewhere near me in the future. Or, maybe a future exhibit in Portugal will be just the motivation I need to book my next trip!

art · culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · travel · wine

My Time In Portugal, Part 4 – Hotel do Chiado and Entretanto

This is the penultimate post on Portugal, and I feel just as sad writing it as I did when I left Lisbon for the next stop on my trip!

The night before we left, we stopped by an elegant hotel and decided to dine there. The hotel we chose was Hotel do Chiado, and we dined at Entretanto, the hotel’s exquisite rooftop bar and restaurant. The meal options were just enough: there was a little something for everyone. I enjoyed my cocktail – the Pink Affair – and my entree, tortellini with cheese and spinach. We also tried some exquisite port and Madeira. We ended our meal with apple pie and a twirl around the rooftop. Here are some pics from my time at Entretanto:

I’m so glad we got to enjoy a meal at Entretanto. I would love to return and try the 5 o’clock tea meal next time.

The next – and final – Portugal post will have some incredible photos from within Hotel do Chiado, because, as it turns out, the corridor leading to the restaurant had an art collection from a Portuguese-based artist. I’m so excited to share those pictures soon! Until then, take care.

art · culture · international · life curation · luxury · travel

My Time In Portugal, Part 3 – Sintra National Palace

Happy Monday, friends! It’s another Portugal post (one more Portugal post is scheduled, then we’ll dive into the Spain and Greece portions of my trip). This post is about Sintra National Palace, a fabulous historical and cultural site located just outside of Lisbon. I loved touring the building and learning more about this incredible region.

I really enjoyed coming to this site, and learning so much about the history of Portugal’s ruling elite. The luxury on display at this palace was nothing short of inspirational: I felt right at home!

Here are some of the pics from my tour:

The National Palace was certainly a highlight of my trip, and one of my favorite features of Portugal in particular. Have you all visited here before? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

culture · festivals · international · life curation · music · travel

My Time in Portugal, Part 2 – Rock In Rio Lisboa

In the middle of my time in Lisboa, I got to attend the Rock in Rio Lisboa concert. The event was held at Parque da Bela Vista on June 25th. This major music festival featured Bush, A-ha, UB40, and Duran Duran, along with numerous other artists from around the world (including the one and only Ney Matogrosso).

It. Was. AWESOME!

I wish I could have taken you all there with me. But, then again, given the size of the festival, maybe you were there 🙂 Here are some of the pics from the event. Enjoy!

books · culture · international · life curation · travel

Becoming Bilingual – 5 Free Language Resources That Aren’t YT, Duolingo or Podcasts

As an aspiring polyglot, I’m always reviewing language tools and resources that can help me fast track my mastery. Naturally, I dove first into Duolingo, YouTube and various podcasts. But, there are limitations with those resources, and sometimes you just want to try something different.

If you’ve been trying to learn a language but you want to go beyond YouTube videos, podcasts and Duolingo, then this is the post for you! I’ve located five other language learning resources that can help fast track your language learning, give you some much needed variety, and are all completely FREE! I discuss these options in a YouTube video (the link to the video below).

  • Amazon Kindle ebooks – This gives you a great source of free ebooks in various languages, as well as some free instruction books, too. To find them, search for books in a particular language, then filter by price (lowest to highest). Filtering by price shows the lowest priced books first, so you can quickly identify free publications.
  • MIT OpenCourseware – If you’re interested in college-level language instruction, this site is excellent. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) archives resources from courses taught during prior semesters. The courses include syllabi, worksheets, exercises, and links to other great resources. To find these courses, look under the Global Studies and Languages department.
  • Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Free online course material – This page speaks for itself: it’s the material developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) to instruct diplomats before assigning them to foreign posts. These classes are developed to quickly acquire mastery at the highest levels of language. The link has lots of languages available, especially some that are somewhat rarer and harder to study online.
  • Alison & FutureLearn – Both Alison and FutureLearn offer language classes that are paced and offer certificates of completion at the end of the course (the documentation of completion has a cost). This also gives you the advantage of participating in group discussion and other ways of interacting with other learners.
  • Internet Archive – There is a host of free archived materials on this website, including movies, music, books and newspapers. Find the kind of material you want and filter it by the language that interests you.

Here’s my video, discussing the ways to use these resources:

Those are the five free resources I can recommend for language learning, outside of the most popular recs. Do you have any language resources that work for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

culture · international · life curation · style · travel

My Time in Portugal, Part 1

Admittedly, this probably be more pictures than words, but I had so much fun on my travels that I had to capture as much as I could via my camera!

I started the first leg of my journey in Lisbon, Portugal. A beautiful city with all of the charm of old Europe but an abundance of modern amenities, I found myself spellbound by the city “built on 7 hills”. I’d long held a fantasy of tooling around in Lisbon . . . And I got to live my dream.

While it was uncharacteristically cool in Lisbon during my time there, I still loved what I saw and experienced there. I can see why so many American expats have chosen Portugal as their forever homes.

While in Portugal, I went to Rock in Rio Lisboa 2022 (an incredible music festival), as well as the towns of Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril. I will share more about those experiences in future blog posts. But for today, here are some of my pictures from my time in Lisbon proper. Enjoy!

art · beauty · culture · hollywood glamour · luxury

Opulence . . . Because We Deserve It

Here are a few images of the most opulent things I’ve seen in the past week. Just thought I’d share these divine Faberge eggs that I saw at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The eggs are exquisite works of art that capture the idealized beauty and fragility of the Russian monarchy. I love that these objects represent the intersection of history, art, and culture. Cheers to opulence and abundance!

art · culture · international · life curation · relaxation · travel

Summer Vacation 2022

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog, because I’ve spent the past several weeks traveling, as well as getting back into my groove post-travel. I mentioned how much I wanted to travel in 2021, but as luck would have it, I was unable to go all of the places I wanted to visit.

However, 2022 has been a year that is in my favor, and this year, I FINALLY got to resume international traveling. And it was fantastic!

I went to Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey over a 2.5 week period. I’m sharing a few of my favorite travel pictures in this post, but there will be more extensive write-ups on each location in the weeks to come. Look out for those posts, as well as more Fibro Friday details, some of the fun stuff I did to prepare for my travels, and more! Talk to you all tomorrow!

(photos from Lisbon, Portugal)

(Photos from Granada, Spain; Rhodes; and Kusadasi, Turkey)

art · culture · life curation · luxury

Artful Moments

It’s Women’s History Month, and I wanted to share some art created by a female artist of yesteryear: one that is especially meaningful when considered through the lens of current issues.

Artemisia Gentileschi is (I believe) the only female Renaissance artist with surviving pieces credited to her. She painted in a style similar to Caravaggio (my favorite Renaissance artist) and was brilliant and skilled in her own right: she was particularly gifted when it came to portraying the female body and in her use of light and colors. Unfortunately, most of what we were originally told about her was related to the fact that she was raped by fellow artist Agostino Tassi (who was convicted of rape after the case went to trial). It’s a shame that this gifted artist was, for many years, known as a victim that transferred her own trauma into art.

Gentileschi is so much more than what she experienced, and I’m glad that art historians are finally giving her story the balanced interpretation that it deserves. As someone that just learned about her in the past few years, I never thought I’d get to see her work in person (there really aren’t that many Renaissance art pieces by high profile artists outside of the major museums in large cities) without traveling outside of my city.

However, there was a surprise for me, waiting right at my local museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art. As I browsed the Renaissance section, I stopped at a lovely painting that I hadn’t noticed before. I looked at the identification card and, lo and behold, there was a Gentileschi painting!

I’m so glad that I got to experience the creative genius of Gentileschi right in my own backyard. I really liked her use of light in the painting: it looks like someone had just opened a window and let it stream across Venus’s body. I also love that Cupid remains only partially in the light, emphasizing him as minor (secondary) to his mother Venus, the goddess of love. In this portrait, Venus (the embodiment of all sorts of love, prosperity and fertility) is the star, and Cupid (a symbol of erotic and passionate love/lust) is in a supporting role. I interpret this as the passion of lust is unable to outshine the vastness of real love, and I suspect that even the source of light depicted wouldn’t shine quite so brightly if Cupid was the only subject of this painting.

Another thing: I really enjoyed the depiction of Cupid fanning his mother, showing him in service to her. It makes me think of how lust and passion are at their best when they are in service to higher forms of love. (Just a personal takeaway).

I just wanted to share that moment with you, because I still love art and find inspiration in it. I hope this post inspires you, too! Have a great day, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!