Tag Archives: Globetrotter

And the best street art goes to…!

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It was 1989: I was just a small tot at the time. A baby, unaware of the significance of this event in 20th century history.  I was actually most probably sitting in my Mum’s, or my Aunt’s lap, in a small town in Italy, visiting family in the beginning of wintertime and savoring some dessert or drinking some coffee too rich or strong for my young age! Nevertheless, my Mum liked to point out many years later that I had been within closer to proximity to these powerful and moving moments in history than many others, and most definitely than where I was at the time of the recounting. But then, anywhere is closer to Berlin than Australia!

It was many years later, as a 21 year old on my “gap” year traipsing around Europe with an oversized backpack that I got to actually visit the incredible city of Berlin. Filled with history. Overflowing with self-expression. Bubbling over with a liberal dose of grunge and change. It was most definitely an artistic, whimsical, fascinating city – weighed down by the history and calamities of the 21st century, but buoyed by this renewed sense of freedom, liberty, passion, and reformism.

It is well known that Berlin has some of the best art, distractions and street or urban art. Alley ways filled with graffiti, posters and artworks. Walls which become modern graffiti galleries. The East Side Gallery is maybe the most famous though, touristy but historic parts of the Berlin Wall now dedicated as a long quasi-cinematic insight into the German psyche of revolution and change. It is like one extended film negative of upheaval and emotion. It really made me experience a sense of awe at the resilience of the human spirit. Hope. Desire. Freedom. Love. They remain at the centre of the human condition in spite of repression, oppression and gloom. It sounds like a cliche, but Berlin really does inspire. It makes you appreciate and value your own freedoms.

Its street art is just a manifestation of the urban renewal that followed the human spirit’s revival in this city in the 1990s and onwards. Often on dark, grey concrete and in a cold, windy city, the street art can appear sombre and intimidating. But it can also be uplifting and political. Interesting and insightful. At the least, it makes Berlin distinctive among cityscapes with its architecture to boot (will have to cover that another time!).  Here are some of my favorite shots from my trip in 2008 (some of which may have been taken by my sister, so I also want to thank her for having been a wonderful travel companion!!), and I apologize as I did not have the best camera by any means at the time, but my angled shots remain a trademark favorite!

IMG_4489

Takele’s was big when I was there for the graffiti staircases!

IMG_1120

Portrait in pink

IMG_1150

Too much to ask for a kiss?!

IMG_1151

Berlin’s version of Pablo Picasso’s famous masterpiece of the Spanish Civil War, Guernica

IMG_1125

A crack in the wall. The way to freedom.

The tide of desire for human freedom that overtook Berlin and East Germany is a reminder to enjoy and appreciate freedoms in our own countries that were fought for as recently as 25 years ago in a modern, developed country.

IMG_1158

IMG_1136

IMG_1139

IMG_1140

IMG_1161

A short history of the wall…

IMG_1163

IMG_1165

Delivery of love. Even in chains.

IMG_1144

Haunted

IMG_1168

IMG_1277

IMG_1107

A long time. But long enough?

IMG_1124

IMG_1280 IMG_1286    IMG_4481

It’s intense. But it’s also a beautiful patchwork artwork of humanity. I love it.

M xx

Advertisements

#toystory

I grew up loving a stuffed toy elephant and lion. Together,  they were Ellie and Leo. Very original, I know.  They were a set of stuffed small bean-bag style toys. The best of friends among themselves, propped up on my bed. They were adorable (if I don’t say so myself). They travelled the world with me and like for any child, they were a comforting, constant presence.

Leo’s mane had been whittled into a thin wisened, wizardly beard, almost dreadlock-like from overuse: too much stroking, not enough washing hehe. Don’t laugh. I had them well into my late teens (…if not into my early 20s!). I’m sure many people share this trait, they just don’t admit to it. As I grow older, I actually get more comfortable with admitting the desire to hold onto being a child at heart. These toys were a window into my childhood.

I was genuinely excited to go to Africa earlier this year, to discover Ellie and Leo’s ancestors. No joke. Lions and elephants were both  spectacular in the flesh!! I think Leo had always been my secret favorite (even though I know we’re not supposed to have favorites)…but the surprise of the trip was most definitely having fallen in love with elephants.  Elephants exhibit a depth of emotional intelligence and humanity to them that was almost palpable.  Lions do still have some the most interesting behavior of all the cats, and of many of the animals in general.  You can watch them for hours: they have interesting social behaviors and are often more active than many other animals.  It can also take FOREVER to find them!  We were lucky enough to find a few lionesses on the hunt in Kruger National Park and it was one of the most incredible experiences to watch them running between and around the cars on safari, using the road to track their kill and the cars like boulders, oblivious to us bystander!!

2014-08-01 05.19.14

Sniffing something out

Africa2 1215

Too close for comfort?

Africa2 1381

Leo’s mother on the move

Africa2 1227

I can’t help myself – an occasional black and white monotone photo I think often adds great character and intensity to already beautiful animal portraits. The harsh sunlight and shadows from the trees in the South African landscape made for some beautiful, playful darkened lines and patches on these lionesses, deep in concentration.

2014-08-01 05.19.13

Deep in contemplation (…maybe the next meal?)

Africa2 1380

Stealth beneath the bushes

Africa2 1379

The intensity of a lioness

Africa 1822

A young male hiding beneath the thicket

Elephants tend to be a little easier to catch – size sometimes matters.

2014-07-25 01.33.20

Ellie’s grandfather caught hiding behind the trees

Africa 308

Cousins in the reeds

Africa2 1392

I’m watching you!

Africa 1834

Don’t be shy!

Ellie and Leo were eventually joined by another long-eared and flopsy mopsy rabbit (read Beatrix Potter if you don’t know this reference!), with a triangle-like body, that I named Isosceles: a great descriptive name!  I left Ellie, Leo and Isosceles in Australia…New York winters were a little too harsh for them! More recently though, in the concrete jungle, the metropolis of New York – I was gifted a somewhat ironic addition. A small donkey! Ruben, or ‘Rubi’ for short. Watch this space 🙂 #anothertoystory

A warm and fuzzy story always helps start the week on the right note. Happy Sunday.  Good luck for Monday!

M xx

Knockout

I have a very animated way of talking which involves waving my hands around a lot. Not a big surprise if you take into account my Italian background. Then add in a pinch of enthusiasm, a hint of energy and a  drop of flamboyant personality…and you have a recipe for knocking over many glasses of water! Yes, I have spilled a lot of water in kitchens and at restaurant tables in my adult years, not to mention my childhood ones.  Recently, I managed to knock over a series of full glasses of water in fancy New York establishments onto the lap of my great friend MC. In both cases I had barely touched my glass of wine, so I really had no excuse other than my own over enthusiasm and excessive gesticulations to blame! Thank you MC for being so patient with my water spills!

Water glasses are not the only casualty from this intensity in communication style – I have (accidentally) knocked people in the face with my elbows on the dance floor (to the chagrin of their boyfriends nearby!) and practically and unintentionally tripped myself over, rifled phones to the floor and ruffled many feathers.

The unintentional “knockout” moment. It is amazing what you discover when it happens. Some people laugh as you collect yourself and clear the spillage. Some people respond as if distressed by the invasion of their peace and personal space. Some people start up a conversation in the wake of the damage, as if you broke the ice and opened yourself up to a fresh, genuine interaction. It is impossible to be inauthentic in that (embarrassing) moment! Caught off guard by your own imperfection and unconstrained passion for the topic of the day.

That “knockout” moment is not always bad. In fact – in the creative process, it most often manifests itself as a moment of inspiration, of  eye-opening wonder. When you suddenly seize the moment, filled with a sense of vision. It happens in writing, it happens in art, it happens when you get that perfect shot, without trying. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does – it’s great. I find travel often wields these artistic “knockout” moments, more than normal life. Maybe it’s because our hearts are more open to them. We are more relaxed, more liberated. Maybe it’s because what we see is somehow new and makes us feel renewed, novel and different. Bill Bryson put it beautifully:

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.

– Bill Bryson

I share a couple of “knockout” visions. They are by no means the best photos ever taken at all, but I can remember feeling a sense of satisfaction when I took them. A random selection to inspire over the weekend.

1. Composition

IMG_5556

The art of gelato: it was too good to pass up, the moment of dripping, melting gelato in the Springtime sun on a backstreet in Milan with my sister’s bright multi-colored necklace shining in the background!

IMG_0276

Seal Rocks: the most gorgeous outlook to the Pacific Ocean on the north coast of NSW, Australia. The turquoise waters shimmering in the summer sun and the green shrubs in the foreground, both a lovely contrast to the deep, dark blue hues of the watery expanse.

2. Intense color and contrast

IMG_5146

German tulips: brightening your day and the tiny dew drops topped off one of my favorite flower photos.

Africa 435

African sunset: it doesn’t get any better than an African sunset along the Chobe River in Botswana. It took your breath way.

IMG_1985

Micro China: red, the color of fortune and royalty. These slippers from a market stall in China were a bright reminder of a regal past. I love the messiness of the close up, entangled tassels and all.

3. Ambience / enigmatic human interest

IMG_0440

Rainy reflections: stuck on a rainy night in the backstreets of the charming, quaint town of Suzhou, China about an hour or so outside Shanghai, the reflections of the bright lanterns with these lone girls huddled under their shared umbrella just captivated me. The blur of the photo felt in tune with the drizzly outlook from underneath my own umbrella.

Old fashioned Shanghai street: This is by no means the most fabulous set of photos, but it felt like I’d capture a moment of humanity passing by me in those moments. I was standing still and alone on a standard back street somewhere in the metropolis of Shanghai, with people, cars and mess passing by me. In those moment, two elderly gentlemen cycled slowly past, and 2 elderly ladies wandered in the opposite direction. Each a slow solitary figure in this overcrowded city. Each simply going about their own daily business and happening to have intersected with my own travels, in a moment when I too had stopped to take stock.

4. Nature: stunning scenery

antarctic294 EDITED

Antarctic ice sheet reflections

antarctic365

Iceberg depths

antarctic141 EDITED

Spot the penguin

antarctica002

Iceberg graveyard

5. Great smiles

IMG_1110_edited

Colca Canyon Joy: traveling through the Colca Canyon in Peru, we would stop along the road to look at the beautiful local scarves and textiles, occasionally buying something or chatting with the locals. This mother and daughter captivated me – in their traditional colorful patterned dresses and hats of the local area. The warmth of the mother’s expression, the hand of the daughter leaning close to her mother. A great smile lights up a portrait like nothing else. We all look better smiling! 

IMG_0892_edited

Maria de Arequipa: I managed to garner from my basic Spanish that this lady’s name was Maria as she sat smiling on the sidewalk of the old town of Arequipa, Peru making small dolls and keychain dolls – artisanship slowly being lost. Her positivity was palpable.

Have a great weekend!

M xx

5 things that make me feel blue

There was once a ridiculous song (not an unusual occurrence) released at the end of the 1990s, called Blue (Da Ba Dee).  An ironically upbeat dance song by a long-forgotten Italian pop group, Eiffel65. You might remember it, hurtling to the top of the charts in 1999 with ridiculous lyrics including a lot of “blue dabadee dabadie” and other imbecilic statements like “blue is the color of all that I wear / blue are the streets and all the trees are too”. And then it disappeared. Forever.

Funnily enough though, my sister and I loved this silly dance song (we even got the CD!) all about being Blue, about having nobody to listen to you. It didn’t feel like a sad song, like a song that someone feeling blue and lonely would listen to – I certainly couldn’t have imagined Picasso having listened to it in his blue period, even though it could have been his soundtrack on a TV satire of his life! The song felt entertaining and energetic.

This made me reflect on how many blue places or views there are in this world that calm and inspire me. Not least of all the sky – with the tufty floating clouds and sunsets. Or the ocean, beaches, and meditative, foamy, crashing waves. How much I actually love the color blue. How much I love taking photos of blue places. I love being among the natural intensity and freedom of Blue. So here are 5 of my top picks that really make me feel the beauty of Blue (in no particular order though!).

 1.  Glaciers: awe-inspired by the depth of blue color in ice

antarctic3693

Glacier Viedma, Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, Argentina

antarctic3822

Ice castles of the Viedma Glacier. Pock-marked ice designs and textures.

antarctic3830

2.  Mountains and lakes: reflections of the heavens

antarctic3959

Trekking through the Los Glaciaries National Park, Argentina…to see this…

antarctic4092-PANO (1)

Cerro Fitzroy

The trek to Cerro Fitzroy did not disappoint. It comes at the end of a tiring 3-4 hour hike without too much to give away that you will come to one of the most stunning outlooks you have ever seen. Especially as the clouds clear on a sunny day to reveal a still brightly shining, turquoise chilled lake, and spiky 11,000ft peaks (3,300mt). One of the highlights of visiting El Chalten, near the Southern Patagonia Ice Fields of Argentina. A must-see in the Patagonia region.

antarctic3848

3.  Antarctica: the ice continent

Antarctica needs no introduction. The remote and pristine, untouched wilderness. A virgin ice land. Like a magical world, majestic in its isolation, overwhelming in its monotone white and blue. Stunning. Even I was speechless at this outlook. More to come.

IMG_3983-PANO

Speechless

4.  Sky: liberation, expanse, space, freedom

IMG_3598

Sunrise balloon ascension

Sunrise over the mountains and valleys of Albuquerque. Clear, pure blue skies. Not a cloud. Just intense blueness.

IMG_3747

American blue skies

IMG_6195

Hues of pink and grey at sunset, Martha’s Vineyrd

5.  Oceans and the sea: calming

Having grown up in Sydney, Australia – I just love the beach. I might not have grown up surfing (in fact, I had my first lesson as a 25 year old…don’t tell anyone!), but I definitely grew up splashing about in the waves at the beach, and spending every summer walking along long sandy beaches and the national parks around them. Relaxing. Quiet. Natural. Glistening, in the bright morning sun.

There is no other place like the beach, all year round, to relax, refuel, reinvigorate, recharge. It is soul reviving like nothing else. I can do nothing and still feel like I have had a full and fulfilling day, just watching the blue waters and their mesmerizing cadence.

20140706_095238

Crystalline morning – East Hampton, NY

20140627_184038

Foamy low waters, in the quiet of the morning – East Hampton, NY

IMG_6235

Hover cloud, Martha’s Vineyard

IMG_6225

Doggie, whatcha looking  at?! – he’s got his priorities right – loving the water, eager for the beach, in awe of blue sky!

Part of my inspiration for this blog was the Aussie blog from Bondi Beach, which half the world follows – aqua bumps! Every day, the gorgeous, almost luscious photos of waves, water, surfboards, splashes is just about the best way to start the day. I tell you – Blue dabadee dabadie was onto something 😉

M xx

antarctic3813

Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those eyes?

I always find myself invariably distracted by random human interest articles,  attracted to artistic reviews rather than practical current affairs in my online news wanderings.  My latest distraction was an article in the NY Times about a photographer who took photos of 4 sisters over 40 years – every year since 1975!  Gorgeous, simple, raw photos – all in black and white.  Capturing sisterly connection, youth, changing fashions and hairstyles, aging.  They were really beautiful, an insight into an interesting story.

It reminded me of how portraits, both paintings and photography, are a special and incisive way of capturing relationships, emotions, human essence. It reminded me of some of the photos I took in wilderness of Botswana of the San Bushmen, a small fading group of nomadic peoples whose fate, as they are driven off the land and can no longer hunt, is reminiscent of many indigenous peoples globally. Reviewing the photography portraits of the hour or so I spent in their presence, learning about their culture, their clicking language, their expert knowledge of the wilderness and the wealth it offers us, their relationships,  I reflected upon the  intensity in their eyes. And ironically, in the comfort of my New York apartment, the old Louis Armstrong song came to mind…

When the weather vane points to gloomy
It’s gotta be sunny to me, when your eyes look into mine…

…says mother looking into her child’s eyes.

Africa 1258

Mother smiles and plays with her child, warms him, cleans his snotty nose. Maternal love does not change across cultures!

Intensity in the expressions shared between them; many inside jokes we didn’t understand as they laughed at us no doubt! There was happiness with their children, generosity and humor among themselves. There was also a sense of uncertainty about the future. A certain sadness.

Africa 1244

Young Proud San Man

The only young man in their presence, although small and fine in stature, was a proud and strong man. He is the heir apparent to lead the community here in the San community in southwestern Botswana. Apparently he was also the brother of the Botswana Ambassador in London…what a different life choice. His elder was a wispy, thin man full of sinew and filled with a sense of responsibility as he scoured the ground and earth for its riches. The most excited we saw him was when he showed us how they make fire – which literally burst into flame and lit up his whole expression.

Africa 1248

Elder

Africa 1311

 Feeding from the egg

Africa 1246

Twilight

Africa 1214

Sleepy child

Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those eyes?
Gosh all git up, how’d they get so lit up?
Gosh all git up, how’d they get that size?
Louis Armstrong – Jeepers Creepers Lyrics | MetroLyrics

There was a part of me that felt a deep sadness in the eyes of the San Bushmen in the orange, dusk lighting of the African plains – despite flashes of laughter, of fascination, of love. A loss of engagement, a loss of their community space. Sharing their portraits is partly my way to share in the awareness of the diversity in this world. To open up our horizons to different lives. To share in humanity, through the eyes and portraits of others.

M xx

Pride
Pride

Lost Phones. Lost Worlds.

Sometimes I wonder if I was meant to live in another era. An era before smartphones. Or iPhones. Whatever you want to call them! I have had a tendency in the last 18 months to destroy, lose, have stolen, or simply mistreat my phones (one instance involved spilling coconut water all over my phone…yes, I drink coconut water…and I’ll have you know the phone recovered!). I have gone through 4 phones and 2 blackberries since I moved overseas (one snatched out of my hand by a road bike burglar of all things!). My mobile destruction capabilities have become infamous among my family and friends! I am even used as an example of why insurance is so expensive. In fact, I used up my phone insurance – only 2 new phones were covered. I was very unimpressed when I found out! And I swear that I wasn’t this incompetent at maintaining my communication devices in the past! Not sure exactly what happened after I moved to New York. I believe it’s because I have small hands, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 is really quite big (a little bit like the iPhone 6), so my propensity for dropping phones must be higher than the average person. I also think it has something to do with the fact that the phone is my most important accessory (and now most expensive one…my a long shot) because I love being in touch with family and friends all the time, I love correspondence of all sorts, I am an active (or hyperactive) messager, and basically I believe that if everyone carried the phone around as much as I do, they too would need a new phone every 3 months too! I am waiting for when Apple invents a phone that slips onto your hand like a glove, or an implanted chip. Then maybe my phone karma would improve!

Despite my addiction to my phone(s), there is nothing quite like a holiday that allows you to disappear from your normal, daily grind. That allows you to escape. To stop time. To live in the moment. There is nothing quite like a great adventure holiday. And there is nothing quite like escaping the unrelenting pressure of work in a big city where everyone gets so uptight and caught up…on everything. In response to this pressure cooker, I sometimes seek solace in the wilderness without wifi. That’s right, I have spent the last few years becoming a passionate wilderness traveller and have fallen in love with remoteness. Looking for places that remind you of lost worlds that are waiting to be discovered. And while I might mistreat my cameras, drop them, get water, rain and snow on them, take them kayaking in Antarctica (not recommended) or trek with them…at least they are usually too big to lose and usually come with a strap that you can stick around your neck or across your shoulders so they are attached to you. They are more reliable than phones when it comes to photography ;).

And so I share below some of my favorite wilderness shots.

Lake Viedmar Glacier outside El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina.

antarctic3796

antarctic3820

The reflections of Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

antarctic1806

How about a stop for lunch at the Torres del Paine?

antarctic2580

The dawn view at the Poon Hill trek in Nepal, part of the Annapurna Circuit, about 3800m high.

Nepali441

Streams of light…and rhododendrons. Rhododendrons were a recurring theme in my photos in Nepal. I couldn’t get enough of them, to the great mirth of my travel buddy, B!

Nepali451

Nepali460

The beauty of the Australian countryside. The Megalong Valley near the Blue Mountains…a path to heaven. Whispy clouds and windswept trees.

IMG_1182-1

IMG_1198-1

The salt flats of Uyuni, Bolivia are like a never ending sky. The 4WDs we were in looked like they were hovering in the milky sky.

IMG_2987

IMG_2992

The desert landscape of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile was also a stark and glorious view. Burnt oranges, yellow skies. Silhouette valleys.

IMG_1462

IMG_1417

Welcome to America!

I have been in the US now 18 months, and I really have loved every minute of the experience of living in New York City, as hectic and exhausting as it can be! Reflecting on my experiences in my new adopted country, the country of my paternal relatives and history, I found this old email recount of my first experience of coming to the US – for Thanksgiving in 2009 – wow 5 years ago! Time flies! It had been almost 50 years since my Dad had been back to the US of A, the country of his birth, and we shared a true family experience going into the suburbs of Jersey for the afternoon Thanksgiving meal – something I highly recommend for a true blue-blooded American experience!

On the one hand it felt like I’d been away forever and my Sydney life was an alternate universe (much like I feel now), whereas on the other hand it felt like I had just started my trip the day before… and, as per my usual ‘summary’ I attempted to keep it as brief as I could, but you will find I always have so much to say that even an unabridged version couldn’t possible communicate just how wonderful the trip and its discoveries had been!

So, much like the start of this blog with its distinct New York flavor, the tale begins in USA

New York – It all began one dark Sunday night in the Big Apple in the US of A…New York City…what an amazing city! It really is the city that never sleeps – arrived in Sudnay night staying near the Empire State Building in midtown and the streets around Fifth Avenue were still packed with people! How to summarise a city which has so much – the glamour of Upper West Side and Central Park apartments of Madonna, Yoko Ono, the glitz of never ending shows along Broadway, the tacky lights and flashing signs of Times Square that make you feel like you’ve just steeped into a movie set (in fact, you see filming all over the place as you walk down the street and people are trying to have movie takes on Fifth Avenue in between the crazy yellow taxi traffic!), the culture of the amazing museums like the Met and MOMA, the incredible awe you feel at being surrounded by high rise buildings of Manhattan that dwarf you (the sheer height and quantity of all the buildings in Manhattan make you feel like you’ve been superimposed at a smaller than normal size onto the streets, it’s quite an incredible feeling!). The amazing architecture of Art Deco mixed with earlier classical and later ultramodern skyscrapers gives New York a distinct and unique feel. The landmark buildings, Wall St bull, Brooklyn Bridge and shops along Fifth Avenue all decked out with the most beautiful winter Christmas lights, the Rockerfeller Centre and Bryant Park ice skating rinks are such icons that you feel like you’ve stepped into a movie set at times!

It was quite an emotional experience to come to New York and discover my heritage as well – I went to Ellis Island where 12 million immigrants arrived primarily from Eastern and Southern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century, including both my grandparents on my Dad’s side. Seeing what they must have experienced, the diversity of the immigrants, the openness of the American nation, and the passing by the Statue of Liberty as the symbol of hope for so many immigrants over decades who were escaping persecution was quite moving and poignant. The Statue of Liberty is a truly beautiful image, and quite an incredible feat of enginerring (the inside was designed by Gustav Eiffel!) given that this copper metal statue gives a stunning sensation of sold folded material! The meaning of the statue, a gift from France as a symbol of liberty and freedom at American Independence, with the 7-spike crown symbolising the 7 continents of the world, the flame of freedom, and the statue steeping on the broken chains of oppression. The view back to the skyline of Manhattan is also spectacular – even on a freezing windy autumn day!

I had the chance to experience the culinary and gastronomical delights of New York at the various hot dog houses, the Union Square markets, some amazing restaurants in SoHo and West Village. One of the highlights was some amazing Italian food (it’s fab in NYC!) that one of my sister’s friends, T, who is studying at Columbia Uni brought me to – it was a converted wharehouse that had awesome decor and funky glass doors that gave you a view out to the terraces and beautiful trendy apartments of West village, followed up with cocktails at this live jazz bar and one of T’s local hangouts also in West Village which was literally a door on a random street corner with a dodgy looking man standing outside who would let you in, you descended some dark stairs and found yourself in this pokey hole of a bar, which had once been a prohibition era jazz bar, with 1940s pressed metal bar and diner style seats you snuggled into and sat around chatting over amazing cocktails!

Squirrels in central park, strawberry hills where the large ‘Imagine’ mosaic to remember the death of John Lennon in NYC, the night view of the city from Empire State which has an incredible story of its 102 storeys having been built within the record time of 1 year and 45 days during the Depression, the awesome back streets and trendy galleries of SoHo, the area around NYU and Washington Square with all of its student hangouts and restaurants, the fabulous New York accent, the charismatic salesmen on the streets, the shops (Saks & Company must have had the most incredible jewellery sections with bracelets for $17,000 and up!) and more…I really do love New York, even though it is such a cliché!

310

283

287

Philadelphia – I decided to head to Philly to meet up with my Dad’s cousin, Sandy, who I had never met before but who was an incredibly friendly and wonderful woman, like an Aunty I had never known! She was delightful and we spent an entire day discovering Philly, a very historic town which although feels very very small after NYC, is one of the most important cities in American history – the declarattion of Independence was signed there i 1776, and between 1790 and 1800 it was the capital of the USA while Washington was being built. The Bill of Rights was signed there whilst it was home to parliament in those 10 historic years of the foundations of the independent America and many famous Americans, including William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and others had strong associations with Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell is also housed there which has been a symbol of liberty and freedom not just during the times of the independence, but also later during times such as the Civil Rights movement of a better world. There are many areas in Philly which also have a swanky feel of West Village and SoHo in New York, with small brick houses and apartment blocks which appear traditional on the outside but often house amazing modern artsy interiors. I also got a chance to try a hot pastrami sandwich and motza balls from Heschel’s famous Jewish eatery – gosh, the pastrami sandwich was HUGE and all the animal fat still on it (ugh!) but it was an incredible taste…I probably don’t need one for another 23 years! I also ended up meeting up with a friend I met travelling last year in Lagos, Portugal from Philly who showed me the swanky night scene of Philly and the pubs around town – always good to be shown around by a local I say! The funny thing about Philly is that the streets going north south are numbered (kind of like NYC, so it’s maps for dummies!), but the east west streets are named after trees or nuts – so there’s Walnut, Pine, Chestnut and all sorts of other interesting specimens which was quite entertaining!

357

314

289

Thanksgiving in Dover, New Jersey – Thanksgiving was spent in Dover, New Jersey with my Dad’s extended family and was a truly delightful family experience. The spread of food was incredible, so much turkey and homemade cranberry and apricot sauce, lots of vegies cooked all sorts of ways, mash and potatoes, and it all started at about 3pm because no-one eats all morning then you drive late morning to your family’s place (I came from Philly with Aunt Sandy and her husband Mike, driving through Pennsylvania and New Jersey and witnessed the industrial strips of refineries and old factories, the pharmaceutical strip with all the pharma companies and their manufacturing plants and headquarters, and the great industrial machine of the USA that had started in the 1960s, of which some areas are now in decline esp in New Jersey around the old automobile plans that have shut down adn are now offshore) and you eat all afternoon and into the night! It was an extremely interesting experience and many funny stories and interesting people came out of that day which I will never forget. Leaving in the evening by myself back to New York to catch the early morning plane (had to get up at 4:30am the next morning aargh) I was sad to be leaving the States, but I know I will be back…and more exotic things awaited…

And coming into the Thanksgiving season now…I can’t help but be excited for what will be my third Thanksgiving which will now have an international foreigner’s bent to it with turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and probably some Romanian, German, Bosnian, Australian and British sprinkled into it…isn’t that modern America??

274

275

This is me

Daughter of a New York-born father and Italian-born mother that met in a chance encounter on a train from London to Paris on New Year’s Eve, brought up in Sydney, Australia, and now having found my way to New York City…I feel I was destined for a life of travels, creative whimsy and exploration! I am now 27 years old  and having searched out the intense novelty of new experiences and the feelings of awe that come from exposure to diverse cultures and vibrant landscapes, I have added all 7 worldly continents to my life’s storyboard.

I also love art.  Art and all things artistic. Trips to galleries, concerts and museums filled my childhood, my already abundant conversation and my travel itineraries as I searched for creative inspiration, collected way too many brochures and sought out friends with whom I could share my enthusiasm (including for the occasional ‘crafternoon’). Art, like travels and travel advice, I believe are meant to be shared.

The areas around NYU, Washington Square Park and Central Park in my new hometown, New York City, are part of what has inspired a love of shared entertainment and public artistic expression in me. Grand pianos on the sidewalk, saxophone concertos in the park, bookstores overflowing with quirky titles and self-reflective memoirs. How great does it feel to be surrounded by this positive energy? It is impossible not to feel the optimism that comes from participating in the street life of this city.

And so now, I too am deciding to follow my creative passions and to share them with you, because that’s what I love to do!

Art. Photography. Travel.

Inspire. Admire. Wonder.

IMG_5966

IMG_5996

IMG_5742

IMG_5689

Artward. Outward. Upward.

M xx