Stockholm and the surrounding countryside, Sweden

February 2012

[See the complete album here.]

“Människorna har glömt bort den enkla sanningen, sade räven. Men du får inte glömma den. Om du har tämjt något, fäst dig vid något, är du ansvarig för det för all framtid. Du har ansvar för din ros…”

–Lille prinsen (XXI), Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

{Gevalia and kanelbullar for a perfect birthday breakfast}

{Turinge Kyrka}

{Gripsholms Slott}

{Sparreholms Slott}

{Sparreholms Slott}

{Rockelstad Slott}

{horses at Rockelstad Slott}

{beautiful and friendly Bernese mountain dog at Rockelstad Slott}

{interior of Rockelstad Slott}

{Tullgarns Slott}

{Tullgarns Slott}

{at my birthday dinner at Mykonos in Sankt Eriksplan, Stockholm}

{Rosersbergs Slott}

{cemetery at Sigtuna}

{among the ruins at Sigtuna}

{cemetery at Sigtuna}

{falu red house in Sigtuna}

{Skoklosters Slott}

{rådjur tracks in the snow at Skoklosters Slott}

{Gamla Stan, Stockholm}


{reindeer skins: a must-have souvenir I think}

{or maybe just a favorite book translated into Swedish}

[See the complete album here.]


For their March 2012 catalog, Free People was exploring one of my favorite countries: Vietnam! They explored the capital city, Hanoi, as well as Ha Long Bay, one of the new seven wonders of the world, and Sa Pa, a beautifully scenic mountain-town. And I’m pretty sure I see glimpses of Hoi An–my favorite–in there too!

I especially liked how the photo-shoot was conducted as though the models, Michele and Martha, were tourists and they were captured in that context as part of their surroundings instead of as just subjects against a background.

Click here to see their team’s travelogue containing travel tips and video features for Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Sa Pa.

Scott gets to go back to Viet Nam next month and is planning on exploring some new areas, possibly Nha Trang. I’m excited to see what he finds in anticipation of my own expedition back to my favorite country early next year!

[All images from freepeople.com and blog.freepeople.com.]

Six to Eight Black Men

Last night, while reading David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I came across his essay “Six to Eight Black Men,” a travel essay about the Netherlands’ version of the Santa Claus story. Not only was it hilarious, it was the best piece of travel writing I’ve read in a while. I think travel writers can get too bogged down in the magnitude of their experiences and they forget that the most interesting stories about their time abroad can be the conversation they had with a local on their walk to the train station. It’s important to keep in mind that most of an individual’s travel experience is a very personal experience and not everything is going to resonate with an audience in the same way it did with the traveler. Rather than wax poetic about his experience admiring The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum, Sedaris selects an incident from his travels that conveys the real value and rewards of travel.

Firearms aren’t really an issue in Europe, so when traveling abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals. “What do your roosters say?” is a good icebreaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark “vow vow” and both the frog and the duck say “quack,” the rooster greets the dawn with a hearty “kik-a-riki.” Greek roosters crow “kiri-a-kee,” and in France they scream “coco-rico,” which sounds like one of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says “cock-a-doodle-doo,” my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.” (Sedaris, 158)

[On the difference between American and Dutch Christmas stories…] “We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed, where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his children, “Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things together before going to bed. The former bishop of Turkey will be coming tonight along with six to eight black men. They might put some candy in your shoes, they might stuff you into a sack and take you to Spain, or they might just preten ot kick you. We don’t know for sure, but we want you to be prepared.”

This is the reward for living in the Netherlands. As a child you get to hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs and prostitution—so what’s not to love about being Dutch?” (Sedaris, 163)

–Sedaris, David. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. New York: Back Bay, 2005.

Click here to listen to Sedaris narrating the full essay which originally appeared in Esquire Magazine.

I Belong To The Hurricane

Barcelona, Spain

October 2011

[See the complete album here.]

Nothing in between me and the rain
And you can’t save me now
I’m in the grip of a hurricane

No hope, don’t want shelter, no calm
Nothing to keep me from the storm
And you can’t hold me down
Cause I belong to the hurricane
It’s going to blow this all away
— Florence + The Machine, “Hurricane Drunk”

[See the complete album here.]

[All pictures taken and edited by me; pictures of me taken by Scott.]

When Mountains Fang The Sky

Krabi and Bangkok, Thailand

November 2011

[See the complete album here.]

Fishtail palm trees drop their seed into mouthy crevices of the stairs. Everything here eats: whippy eels, mosquitoes piercing tourist’s palms, even the night is bitten away. Sun sets at six and by seven—twin mountains fang the sky. A snip of ginger stings a cup placed in the bathroom by a lady with a plaid apron. To dust. To dust the mouth of the sink. Rain today is the thin water of a baby goat’s eye. Rain yesterday was the gathering of golden frogs along the edges of the private pool. Rum punch spilled on a platter. All the tiny cooks want someone to sit on their wet benches for a plate of wet roti. But there is too much rain. No tourists today.

Only the smell of birds

who just lost their red feathers

to hurricane.

–“When Mountains Fang The Sky,” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (At The Drive-In Volcano)

{landing in Bangkok}

[See the complete album here.]

[All pictures taken by me; pictures of me taken by Scott Zaban.]

Now, Voyager

Viti Levu, Fiji

September 2011

[See the complete album here.]

The untold want, by life

and land ne’er granted,

Now, Voyager, sail thou

forth, to seek and find.

–Walt Whitman

I’m back! In September I got a job with the new Anthropologie store that opened in downtown Washington, D.C. and the holiday season was absolute madness! And then the day before Christmas I was promoted to Visual Sales Associate. I’m so excited for where these opportunities are going to take me!

But I haven’t stopped traveling, of course. I’ve been to Fiji, Barcelona, and Thailand and have a trip to Stockholm booked for the first weekend in February (my birthday weekend!). I have recently picked up sorting and editing my pictures from these trips also and have just finished Fiji (except for the roadtrip to Suva, that’s going to take a bit more time…) and pictures from Thailand are almost done as well. I didn’t take too many pictures in Barcelona because 1, I was pretty sick for the entire trip, 2, we spent most of our time visiting friends and EATING anyway, and 3, the city was SO packed with tourists we weren’t in the mood to stand in hours-long lines and didn’t see ANY museums. :-/ Another reason to take advantage of those low, off-season fares!

So for now, here’s beautiful, incomparable Fiji!

{the wananavu resort band played at every meal, and they were brilliant!}

{my one true love: the Bligh Burger}

{the view from our villa}

Stay tuned for Thailand & Barcelona, and I still have to get Prague up. Happy travels! xx

See more of my pictures of Fiji here!

[Pictures taken at Wananavu Beach Resort and Dreamview Villas, in Fiji.]

[All pictures taken and edited by me; pictures of me taken by Scott Zaban.]

Homage to Catalonia

My pre-trip reading list for Barcelona…

Barcelona, the Great Enchantress, by Robert Hughes

This book is part of National Geographic’s Directions series which publishes travel writing that weaves together a powerful sense-of-place, personal memoir, and historical perspective by “some of the world’s most prominent and highly regarded literary figures.”  Susanna Moore’s book, I Myself Have Seen It, that I read in Hawaii earlier this year, is from this same series. Hughes’ book covers the history of his own relationship with the city starting in 1966, while incorporating the city’s larger history from its beginnings as an outpost of the Roman Empire to its modern identity as one of the foremost artistic and cultural meccas of Europe, featuring some of Barcelona’s foremost historical figures along the way.

Iberia, by James A. Michener

Another epic novel by the incomparable Michener, Iberia explores the history, culture, and lives of the people of a nation that became the author’s second home. Each chapter is centered around a different city or geographic locale ad its impact on Spain’s identity and place in history. Chapter ten is specifically about Barcelona.

Spain: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edt. Peter Bush and Lisa Dillman

More from one of the best series for travel literature out there today, Whereabouts Press presents Spain: A Traveler’s Literary Companion featuring writing, arranged geographically, from some of its natives best-loved literary figures. The section on Barcelona includes four stories from authors such as Juan Marsé and Carme Riera.



Spain in Mind: An Anthology, edt. Alice Leccese Powers

Spain in Mind is an anthology featuring reflections and writings on Spain from some of history’s most famous authors including Langston Hughes, Lord Byron, and Ernest Hemingway. “…the glimpses of another world in Spain in Mind will enchant you.” [from the back cover]

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A post-WWII novel about an antiquarian book dealer in Barcelona who stumbles upon a mystery that leads him into “one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.”

Don’t these sound great? I can’t wait to get started!