Thursday, October 23, 2014

My ABCs of Travel


This might be quite obvious, but I have been diagnosed with an incurable case of wanderlust. The Husband and I would barely be back from a trip when we find ourselves planning the next one. We've been incredibly fortunate to be able to travel to some very exciting places, and we still have a list as long as my arm of destinations we want to visit.

Recently, I stumbled upon the ABCs of Travel Tag over on a fellow wanderluster's (is that a word!?) blog, Travelust. I couldn't pass up this tag filled with travel questions, so here are my ABCs of Travel:

Age you went on your first international trip

I was about five or six years old when we took a family trip to Namibia. It was a 12-hour drive from my hometown in South Africa. We went there almost every year throughout my childhood, and Namibia is absolutely stunning!

Best foreign beer you've had, and where?

Beer is not usually my drink of choice, but I did have a couple of great ones at a local brewery in Asheville, North Carolina recently. I don't remember the names though.

Cuisine (favorite)

One of my biggest motivations for traveling IS food, so it's extremely hard to choose. Ahh!! I'm going with Thai food in Thailand. It's just so flavorful and interesting. I can eat that every day. But Italian is also high up there!

Destinations (favorite, least favorite, and why?)

My favorite so far was Paris, France. My least favorite was Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Paris was magical on all levels and it totally exceeded my (very high) expectations. I didn't like Ho Chi Minh city, because it was so busy and I was tired from a long flight. But I would give the rest of Vietnam another chance in the future.

Event you've experienced abroad that made you say, "Wow!"

There are so many times I've had that experience! Here are just a few worth mentioning;
- Seeing Taipei101 (now the second tallest building in the world) for the first time when I moved to Taiwan.
- Admiring the view over Hong Kong from the Peak Tram observatory.
- Riding on the back of an elephant in Thailand.
- Walking around Times Square and Central Park in New York City, USA.
- Seeing Mount Fuji in Japan with my own eyes.
- The first time I touched snow when I was in North Carolina.
- Going on a gondola ride in Venice, Italy.
- Standing in front of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
- Walking around the little alleys in Mykonos, Greece.
- Eating the local pizza in Naples, Italy.
- Enjoying tapas and sangria at a cafe on the sidewalk during sunset in Barcelona, Spain.
- Walking around on the streets of the ancient city of Pompeii, Italy.
- Looking up at the ceilings inside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
- Being proposed to in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
- Visiting St Peter's Square and Basilica in Vatican City.
- Walking around the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
Obviously I can go on and on and on...

Favorite mode of transportation

It really depends what we're doing or where we are. We tend to use public transportation, like trains, when we travel (it's also a great way to experience the daily life of the locals, and to get to know a new place very fast).

Greatest feeling while traveling

Watching a beautiful sunset, preferably with a glass of wine in hand, at the end of an eventful day of exploring and enjoying a new place, and reminiscing about the day's activities.

Hottest place you've ever traveled to.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I've been there three times during the summer, and the last time I was there the temperatures were above 40 degrees Celsius almost every day.

Incredible service you've experienced, and where.

I will never forget the friendliest staff I've ever encountered; at a lovely hotel in Koh Samui, Thailand. They treated us like VIPs, and I would stay there again just because of them.

Journey that took the longest.

Flying from Taipei to Tokyo to Detroit to Charlotte was a very, very long trip. But does a 12-day Mediterranean cruise count as one journey?

Keepsake from your travels.

I don't usually buy the typical souvenirs while traveling, but I will buy something like a scarf, or bag, or something for the house, and I'll always remember where I bought it.

Let-down sight; where and why?

I can't recall ever being let down by a sight while traveling. 

Moment when you fell in love with traveling.

It was when I just started traveling after graduating, and on my first trip to the States; I was in California by myself. I remember thinking how wonderful it was to see things in real life that I've only seen on TV. I realized that it was possible to see and experience all these places that I've only seen in magazines or on television for myself, and decided then and there that I would travel to as many destinations as I can, for the rest of my life.

Nicest hotel you've stayed in.

I've been in a few nice hotels, but there is one specific hotel in Koh Samui, Thailand that I will always go back to. Not only was the staff extremely friendly and helpful, our room was modern, luxurious and HUGE (the big windows opened to the hotel's pool) and we were a stone's throw away from the ocean. The food and drinks were delicious, too.

Obsession; what are you obsessed with photographing while traveling.

Anything and everything. Mostly food and famous sights.

Passport stamps; how many, and from where?

I just recently filled up my passport with stamps, so there are literally too many to count. Some countries I've entered multiple times, like Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Hong Kong and UAE. I hope I don't forget any, but here are the countries I've been to: South Africa, Namibia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, USA, UAE, Philippines, Japan, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, Greece, Turkey, France, Monaco and Vietnam.

Quirkiest attraction you've visited, and where?

Madame Tussauds, the wax museum, in Hong Kong was weirdly entertaining.

Really frightening; a place you've traveled where you felt unsafe or uneasy.

I've never been truly afraid while traveling, but I have felt uneasy. Riding the subway in New York City was pretty crazy, with strangers yelling at each other. Also, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was extremely overwhelming, with so many vendors trying to get you to come into their shops and basically pulling you in different directions.

Splurge; something you have no problem spending money on while traveling.

It's very important to me to sleep in a clean, comfortable and safe hotel. After a day of activities and exploring, I want to be able to go back to a relaxing atmosphere where I can lock the door and not worry about safety. So I'll splurge on a nice hotel in a convenient location.

Touristy thing you've done.

I love doing touristy things, and try my best to see all the well known sights in each city I visit. The Husband and I enjoy taking those red double-decker City Sightseeing buses when we are in big cities. The ones that run in Barcelona were especially great. You can relax while seeing a lot of the city. I guess that's VERY touristy.

Unforgettable travel memory.

So so many! But getting engaged in Paris must be THE most unforgettable memory.

Visas; how many, and for where?

Let's just say, my South African passport can't get me into many countries without a visa, so I have plenty! For USA, Taiwan, Japan and Europe.

Wine; best glass while traveling.

Lots of wine has been consumed during our travels. Best wine; Stellenbosch, South Africa and Paris, France.

EXcellent view, and from where?

Again, too many to choose from. The view from Montmartre over Paris, just before sunset, was pretty spectacular.

Years spent traveling.

I've only really started traveling in my early twenties, so I would say about about 7 years.

Zealous sports fans and where.

The Husband, during our Mediterranean cruise in August 2012. He was obsessed with staying up to date with the Summer Olympics that was going on in London at the time, and would have the TV on sports channels every second we were in our cabin.

I hope you enjoyed my A to Z travel post! I tag Kalong from Just an ordinary girl living in an extraordinary world and Carrie from My Several Worlds to do this post. If you would like to do this tag, please leave a link in the comments below so I can check it out.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's on my feet this Fall?

Bye bye sandals and summer espadrilles, see you again next year! I won't lie, I wasn't too sad to pack away my summertime shoes a couple of weeks ago, because that meant that it was time for my Fall footwear to come out of hiding (and in some cases, come out of the recently purchased boxes...)

Fall is my favorite "fashion season". There's just so much to be excited about! Jeans, sweaters, leggings, scarves, and of course THE SELECTION OF SHOES! (*happily throws arm-fulls of shoes in the air..)

I thought I'd share some of my favorite Fall footwear for this year:

Ankle Booties

ASH Jalouse suede booties

I've been drooling over the ISABEL MARANT Dicker booties since I can remember, but unfortunately those puppies will set me back a month's rent. (I know I can be a tad crazy with the shopping sometimes, but I kinda sorta sometimes know when to be responsible...ish... This is one of those times.) Anywho, I stumbled upon the Jalouse suede booties from ASH and fell in love. I purchased it in black, thinking that it will go with most of my evening wear, but liked it so much that I got it in the color Topo as well (thank you, SHOPBOP sale!.)

White Sneakers

SUPERGA Cotu trainers

Seeing as my trusty white KEDS have seen better days, I got a new pair of signature white sneaks for this year. I decided on the white Cotu trainers from SUPERGA. I always steered clear of the SUPERGA sneakers, only because I'm not a huge fan of the thick soles. But I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed a pair with a much thinner sole. Perfect! I'm such a big fan of the trainer/sneaker trend, by the way. I'm thinking of getting the ADIDAS Stan Smith sneaks as well...

Ballet Flats

TORY BURCH Reva flats

REPETTO Cendrillon flats

What would a Fall footwear post be without the mention of my beloved ballet flats. I believe you can't go wrong with a pair of classic black, and I wear the REPETTO Cendrillon flats a lot. I'm also in love with the new Reva flats I got from TORY BURCH recently. (By the way, the new Revas are awesome, because they don't have the annoying strap in the back.)


STEVE MADDEN Ecentric slip-ons

It seems that the slip-on trend from last year rolled over into this season. Great, because I have these Ecentric pony hair ones from STEVE MADDEN that I absolutely adore! They come in many different colors, but the classic black ones are my most-worn pair.


H&M Loafers

I absolutely love the tomboy/menswear trend, and a pair of black loafers are always a winner! I got this pair from H&M, but I'm eyeing some patent black ones, too.


STEVEN by Steve Madden espadrilles

Yes, espadrilles! In Fall. I have a pair that I can't even think about wearing in summer, it's just too hot and heavy. This pair is from STEVEN by Steve Madden, and, surprise surprise; It's black.

Shop my favorite Fall footwear

What are your Fall footwear must-haves?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SHOPBOP Friends & Family 25% Off

*** Offer valid from 08:00 EST on October 14th to 16th, 2014 ***

Hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife, and hide yo' credit card, because SHOPBOP is having one of their 25% off Friends & Family events! This event only occurs twice a year, and lasts for 3 days only, so you better hurry before your favorites get sold out. Now's the time to buy that watch you've been eyeing, or get that overpriced sweater you've been daydreaming about.

I, for one, do not let these magical events slip through my fingers. There's always something on my SHOPBOP wish list, and what better time to get it than with a humongous discount. All you have to do is enter the promotional code during checkout and voila! 

Nervous to order from SHOPBOP? Don't worry, I've ordered from them numerous times. Shipping is freakishly fast (it usually takes three to four business days to ship from USA to Taiwan) and shipping is free within the States. International buyers, know that you'll pay a small shipping fee and you'll be responsible for import tax and duties. SHOPBOP also has a convenient return policy. 

Use the code FAMILY25 at checkout to get 25% off your purchase. Have fun shopping, friends! Let me know if you decide to get anything. Here are my top picks from SHOPBOP:

Ready, set, SHOP!

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