All right so today started off to another sloooooow start. After unwillingly dragging myself out of bed (I’m pretty sure this laziness has to do with the beauty of this riad – it just makes me feel like I’m in a dream), Aziz had breakfast ready for us. There was parata (fried, flat bread) with two different types of jam, fresh squeezed orange juice, bread, butter and mint tea. In fact, M and I now know how to make it using black tea, fresh mint leaves, hot water and sugar. Let’s see how this works when I make it state side.
Our adventure first started off with a trip to the royal tombs. Pretty freakin’ creepy if you ask me but definitely an architecturally pretty place to be buried in…if you are into that kind of thing. Then we decided to meander through the streets looking for the Palais de la Bahia. Unsuccessful. After seeing signs for the palace written on different walls (no actual signs) and a little boy trying to help us (who we had to shoo away after telling him we had no money), we were completely lost. In fact, we were so lost that when we finally got into a cab we were actually about 15 minutes on the other side away from the palace. Note to self: the Lonely Planet map for Marrakesh is completely and utterly useless.
The palace is stunning on the inside. With tall, white walls, bright blue Moroccan or gold trim, large wooden doors and beautiful tile and ceiling work – I can only imagine how long it took to build and paint this piece by piece. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are ever down there. Then we decided it was time to enter the real souks. Whoa! Like really…whoa! The experience is unreal. There are thousands and thousands of shops filled with clothes, shoes, bags, metal-works, lamps, tea pots, necklaces, scarves, kurtas, blankets, pillows, shawls, ceramic pots, plates, dishes, cups, spices, food, olives – SO much stuff. It is both overwhelming and amazing at the same time. The best part is that it’s a maze. Each turn you take, corner you pass, street you walk down is going to take you in a different direction. The key though is to just let it happen – we just kept walking, took photos and let every second of being in the souks soak in.
I mentioned in a previous post, the aggressiveness of Moroccans when it comes to selling you something, what I didn’t notice until today was what they say to get you to their shops. First, there’s Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, that is what I said. This guy is so popular here that if you are Indian, he is your key. Walking through the souks all we could hear to get our attention was “India!” “India!” “India!” or “Aap Kaisa Hai?” or “Shah Rukh Khan!” Yeah, he’s pretty awesome but it’s not good enough for me come to your shop. I kept wondering if they yell out things like “Brad Pitt!” or “Angelina Jolie!” when Americans walk by.
I think one of my favorites was when a guy was trying to get us to come to his restaurant. Instead of “Please come to my café.” It was more like, “Thank you for your smile.”… followed us around for a bit…”I’m appreciative of your necklace.”…some more following around…”Do you like to take pretty picture?”…hmmm why yes, I do…”Great! Come to my café, you can sit on the rooftop and take as many pictures as you want – you can see everything and eat.” Wow…just wow…that’s some mad selling there. Now is this the type of service you’ll get anywhere else – of course not; seems like there are parts of the world that need a huge lesson on customer service/selling. Moroccans are definitely very friendly people but as rude as it sounds, there are times that ignoring them, not making eye contact and saying “no” forcefully are required. Otherwise you’ll be talked to death, bargained to death and sometimes you can make them a bit upset if you show mild interest and then decide not to buy anything. Definitely bargain though, if you don’t – it’ll be considered weird. Also, don’t necessarily take directions from little children or kids or look at signs printed on walls – they will all lead you in the wrong direction. It’s a game (just like what the boys did to us on the first day when we tried to find our riad) – they take you through all these roundabouts only to end up in the wrong direction and then you’re forced to pay. Another lesson learned.
Now, the only thing that finally got us out of the souks is that we were hungry. We ended up going to a beautiful but pretty touristy restaurant (found on Trip Advisor) called Pero Nero. It was a mix of Moroccan/Italian food. It was really good plus they serve alcohol there – something we didn’t find much of anywhere in the city. My cousin ate pigeon which I had to stop at. I could do the goat, the lamb and some questionable meat but the pigeon…no…just no. I was good with my shrimp pasta. Then we headed to the New City, which of course is the more modern, recently built part of Marrakesh. Before getting there, we had someone from the restaurant escort us to a parked taxi. Of course, the standard questions of “Do you like Bush or Obama?” “What part of America are you from?” and my favorite “Texas! Wow…are you cowboys – do your ride horses?” Then the inevitable horse-riding gesture. Love that question.
As soon as you step out into the New City also known as Guéliz, it’s like you are no longer in Marrakesh. There are beautiful hotels, bars, women in scantily-dressed clothing yet still looking completely fashionable, guys that look like they just walked off a Gucci or Armani runway, modern shops and structures, etc. We walked into one hotel/bar (honestly, I can’t remember the name of it) seeking out drinks and belly dancers. (My cousin and I are a bit obsessed with them). We ordered something “Moroccan”, enjoyed a short-show (turns out belly dancing isn’t as big in Morocco as you would think) and hung out for a bit before calling it a night.
Though Guéliz is more tourist-friendly, I do have to say that I get a more fulfilling experience by being in the old part of Marrakesh. I enjoy people-watching, seeing how locals live day to day, how they work, act and the beautiful things they sell. The culture in that area is something you lose in the new part and for me that’s what I wanted from this trip. To experience something I’ve never seen before. Plus, I can’t wait to get back to the souks and do some real shopping.
Tomorrow: an early-early morning tour of Morocco with a guide!
Images coming soon!
Note: This entry is a bit on the longer side as this morning I started out in Spain and before I knew it, I was in Africa! So here I am, writing from Marrakesh, Morocco for the next few days.
I ended up sleeping in much later than I intended to today. This overseas jet lag thing can be such a nuisance, especially since you want to explore everything. However, lack of sleep = lack of energy and sometimes you just get off track. Regardless, we had a flight to catch to Morocco so it’s not like we could have done tons. M took me on another little tour of Madrid. We bought snacks from a shop called Mallorca to eat in a park. By the way, they package the “to-go” food in pretty, red wrapping and tie it with white string. Not quite sure why Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s doesn’t do this…
We ended up having a little picnic in Reitro Park, taking pictures, saw the Crystal Palace, walked around for a bit and attempted to do a mini-photoshoot. M will probably hate me for saying this but when we bought dessert she kept raving about the jelly in one of them and how it was the best part…blah…blah…blah…As soon as she bit into it, all the jelly squirted out on to her pants. Ha! It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen. Even better, we didn’t bring any utensils or napkins. I’ll let you guys decided what she did.
While sitting on a bright, green grassy knoll in front of a pond, it finally hit me that the Spanish don’t work. Here we are in the middle of the day on a Friday afternoon, and half of Madrid is out at the park – having a picnic, rowing a boat, sunbathing, taking selfies and aimlessly walking around. Yes, today was a holiday but I came to find out that they do this all the time. You would never think that this country is in an economic crisis based on the way these people approach everyday life and ultimately they really don’t care. This is how way of life has always been and this is the way they want to continue to live. I don’t really know if this is in fact a good thing or one that needs to slowly start to change. Anyways, that’s a topic for another discussion.
After walking around for a bit, it was time to head back so we could get to Morocco!
One: Morocco was everything I expected…from the air. All you could see were red clay buildings, sand and mountain-side. Never having gotten off an airplane on a runway before was kind of fun. Also, you know you are in a small city when there are only three gates for planes to pull up into, leading in and out of the airport.
Two: Being in a developing country like Morocco is surreal. Yes, I’ve been to India (that was almost 20 years ago) and I’ve seen movies and heard people talk about going to countries like this but honestly, you don’t know what to expect until you’re actually in it. Everything is so hectic but at the same time it’s an organized-chaos – taxis beeping, cars honking, scooters and bikes weaving through traffic, no traffic lights, hot air, people, donkeys, noise, dust – everywhere. There you are trying to figure out what the F is going on and get suckered into expensive cab rides while at the same time trying to understand what anyone is even saying because you don’t speak French nor Arabic – it’s fabulous!
Let’s just say the initial few hours were not as easy as we had though. First of all, we got suckered into an expensive cab ride – 200 dirham (about $23); we found out later, it should have only been about 50dh ($6). Fine…lesson learned.
Second, we had a hell of a time trying to find our riad. As soon as we got out of the taxi, we came face to face with a trio of boys – they were speaking a mixture of Arabic, English, French and something else…oh yes, “we’re going to get these tourists”. The later, of which I’ll explain in a bit. Having the completely-and-utterly-lost-tourist-look on our faces, we followed these boys as they conversed with us, expressed their love for Shah Rukh-Khan movies, steered us through winding derbs and houses that all looked the same and finally brought us…somewhere. Ok, so this was not our riad and we knew it. We expressed this concern to the boys, thinking they had our best interests at heart. However, they insisted that our riad was still a 10 minute walk, it was late and we should just stay at the one they brought us to.
Why? Why? WHY would we do that when we clearly know this is not ours and we already have a place booked? LUCKILY, a man standing nearby heard this confusion and asked if one of us was Menka and brought us to the right riad. Which by the way, turned out to be a whole FIVE steps away from the one the trio brought us to. Sneaky little kids! Who then insisted we pay them 500 dh ($50) for bringing us to the riad…which might I add was wrong to begin with. (As I’ve found out later on, I think there was some sort of relationship between the boys and the owner’s of the other riad. In the end, if the boys bring business, both parties get some money out of it). Being cheated with the cab ride – fine. Being cheated by these boys – no.
Aziz, the guy who found us/housekeeper of the riad, took us into the house and showed us around. Words cannot describe this place. It’s about 4 – 5 floors, white walls, small spa, little nooks, beautiful Moroccan lighting fixtures…everything about this place is a little mansion. It’s definitely going to be hard to leave this one behind. After taking a short breather, we got some tips for Aziz and set out for Jemaa el-Fnaa (The Big Square) or local gathering area of Marrakesh.
I am at a loss of words. As soon as you walk into the square all you can smell is horses, then all you see is smoke and shops, hear music and see a huge gathering of people. I mean huge. There are vendors and street shops, mini-food booths set up that sell dates, juices, mint tea…meat…meat…meat…and more…meat! Just guess what we ended up eating? Yeah…not just any kind of meat…a complete mix of meat. Plus, it’s uncooked and sitting right out in front of you (before they cook it of course) so you can actually see what you’re going to eat before you eat it. Along with lamb, pork, sausage, chicken and bread, I’m pretty sure I ate something questionable…I’m hoping it’s goat. Then we had the most amazing mint tea I have ever had. One of the vendors and lined up glasses and glasses full of fresh mint leaves, large cubes of sucre (sugar) that were ready to go once the hot tea was poured in. It was delicious! Oh, the best part about these booths, you don’t get napkins because you know…napkins take up space. Instead you reach right above your head and tear off a piece of paper from a notepad. Voila! The Moroccans know how to utilize space and are efficient!
Then we decided to walk around the area. The Souks were closed but we visited the open shops. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit overwhelmed by the aggressiveness of the locals. Just the slightest glimpse at their products and they are ALL over you insisting that you buy something from them. I mean I really don’t need Calvin Klein underwear nor do I want henna on my hands (and no it does not bring good luck). This “product-pushing” as I’ll call it for now, not only is for the adults but kids as well. We ended up needing a pack of tissues that a little girl name Farah was selling (P started having allergies) so at least we helped. Now when I say these vendors are selling anything…I mean anything. Underwear, CK tops, sunglasses, remote control toys, little light things that you throw in the sky that make noise, kaftans, jewelery, plastic robot dogs with drums, orange juice, CDs, snails that you can just suck on and leave the shell behind. Luckily I wasn’t into a snail-y mood so we quickly passed by them, but name it…they sold it.
As much as I hate to say this, especially since I came in wanting to be extremely open-minded, is that you have to be careful with the locals here. At first you want to make conversation with them, because they are so friendly to you but I would have to say 8 times out of 10, it’s a catch and ultimately they want you to buy something. As mean as it is, walking away or ignoring them is the best. However, I do have to say that we’ve met a few people who were genuinely nice to us – the guy who explained the process of making mint tea, where to go in Morocco, a taxi driver who kindly got out of the car to see if/when a pharmacy would be open and the keeper of our riad, Aziz. Moroccans are overall very friendly but you just have to be cautious.
My first day in Marrakesh has been nothing if not interesting and eye-opening. I am extremely fascinated by this environment, the people, the culture and their way of life. As sad as this is, I’ve never really been exposed to this before and I am so glad that I did come as I think there is going to be quite a bit that I learn from here.
I’m really hoping that I catch some great pictures during the day tomorrow. Thought, I’ve heard to be careful about photography as well. So let’s see what we come across! But for now, bed time. Aziz will be here in 4 hours to make us breakfast and teach M and I how to make mint tea!
May 2, 2013
¡Hola de Madrid! I’ve been in Spain for less than 24 hours and I already know that I’m going to love it here. Someone is going to have to pry me out of this country with a crowbar come two weeks from now because I am not leaving.
For someone who landed in the morning around 10:00 a.m. and is just now going to bed (as it’s well past midnight), my cousin (whom I shall abbreviate to M) and her husband (whom I shall abbreviate to P) wasted no time in getting me to cover quite a bit of Madrid in one day. As soon as we got out of the Metro from the airport, we went to eat. Now, it was about 10:45-ish in the morning, I hadn’t brushed my teeth for what seemed like days and I smelled like airplane. You would think that I’d want to go straight to their place and freshen up. Yeah…no. Ironically, the first thing I wanted to do was eat and drink and eat and drink we did.
Now I was told that these two like to eat all different types of foods and often. I’ve been trying to maintain a vegetarian diet and would never consider eating any type of meat except chicken, turkey and the occasional few seafood items (sometimes I eat bacon…I LOVE bacon…but like I said, this is sometimes). Let’s just say this went all out the door the moment I landed because I was not going to let my inner food-priss get in the way. I had decided that if I was going to be here, I was going to eat everything – no limits. An attitude I’m glad I adopted considering jamón (ham) is HUGE here. So popular that they sell it by the leg in store, the more expensive the better the ham is.
With that being said, we sat down that morning with a plate full of pintxos (pinchos) and sangria. Even without having brushed my teeth, that Sangria tasted pretty darn good and so did the food. After this quick bite we headed to the apartment to freshen up, change and then back out to explore the city. M had told me that today was a holiday (what day isn’t a holiday here?) so the city was dead. We first went to Sol (the center) which was a bit more hustlin’ and bustlin’ than their quaint little neighborhood. Turns out May 2nd is Fiesta de la Comunidad de Madrid (The Day of Autonomous Community), thus marking the uprising of Spain against French troops in 1808. Yeah, I picked a pretty darn good day to come to Spain (all coincidental, of course). We ended up seeing the remains of a parade that had taken place earlier and walked into a bakery. True to form, I ordered a waffle cone filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate and nuts. Kind of like one of those Drumstick ice cream cones but WAY better.
While licking the whip cream out of this cone, M took me on her own mini-tour of Madrid and Sol, going through Plaza Mayor and a few calles (streets) next to it. Turns out that a majority of the street names have a little picture underneath it, just in case you have no idea what the word means. For example, Calle Gato (Cat Street) would have a picture of a little cat on it. Those Spainards, they know us dumb folk need that.
Before I continue, I have to give props to my cousin for her tour. I have never seen anyone who has only lived in Spain for a little over a year and half, who barely knew a word of Spanish before she left, give such an informed and awesome tour. I don’t think I could have received a better tour from the writers of Lonely Planet or Rick Steves himself. Every street, every building, every monument – she covered it. My exhausted brain took in a lot today! This girl needs to start her own small tour company especially for Americans. She’d bank off of it.
Then we got hungry. When you’re in Spain what do you do when you get hungry? Why, go on a Tapas Crawl of course. Tapas are pretty much made in every single way you can think of, I even saw little hamburger ones with french fries on top. The way this works is that you choose which tapas you want and put them on your plate. Each tapas has a pick in it that you remove, save and then take up to the cashier who charges you by the picks. Could it be any more simple? Why yes, it can. In case, you’re still hungry and are a bit bored with the tapas already there, they’ll ring a bill signifying a new one has been made and ready for you to consume. You don’t even have to ask. Can it get any easier than this? Yes, yes it can. You don’t even have to throw your napkins in the bin. You can just throw them on the floor.
Pick your tapas, take the pick out, eat them, drink your cerveza con limón (beer with lemon), throw your napkins on the floor, pay and walk out. Why can’t all places be like this?
After the tapas crawl we ended up at Plaza de Isabell (with a little portrait of Isabell on the street sign). This is where M pointed out her favorite old toothless couple, playing accordions. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was looking at two old people but all of sudden my exhaustion took over and all I wanted to do was fall asleep on the steps. As soon as I got back to the apartment, there was no taking off of the jacket, washing my face, lifting up the sheets or taking a bath – it was a big, fat flop right on the bed.
After a brief three-hour siesta, we got dressed and headed to the San Miguel Mercado. Which turned out to be an enclosed glass market with tons of tapas, paella, wine, sangria, chocolate, cheese, gelato, seafood – pretty much anything stand! Again, we ate and drank. I don’t think I’ve eaten or drank so much in my life in such a short period of time.
The market was adorable but unfortunately closing down pretty soon after we got there. However, since tapas is just what we call “appetizers” we still needed dinner. This took us to Wok to Walk. Oh yeah, spicy, fried Chinese food in a box. Since we just HAD to have dessert, we stopped at Casa Gines for chocolate con churros. I was told this yummy goodness is served into the wee hours of the night (and I thought Taco Cabana was a good late-night snack). M and I drank that rich, hot chocolate right out of the mug. Nothing about this was gross.
Yes, I’m about to go to bed very happy and very full.
I’d say my first day in Madrid has been a complete success.
For almost two weeks, I sat down every night, exhausted out of mind and wrote. I tend to forget things quickly and with each day being so jam-packed, I knew if I didn’t write it down, it would be lost forever into the black abyss that is my mind. I came a long way to get these moments and thanks to a trusty little tablet, my camera and two beautiful travel destinations, I’m able to share them with you. So sit back, relax, put your tray tables and chairs in their upright positions and enjoy. Or you can just skip the writing and look at pictures…whatever floats your boat. Here are my encounters and thoughts, transferred straight from my iPad to your screen—nothing is made up (though, I did edit for grammar and to make sure that in my original, delirious state of writing, that it makes sense).
May 1, 2013
Note: there are no pictures associated with this post. All of you know what the view looks like from a plane at 30,000 feet and there’s no need to see the Newark airport.
Well it has finally begun, the trip I’ve been talking about and waiting to take for over a year and a half now…Spain and Morocco. I’m currently on my way to Newark right now. My goal—to find the nearest bar and grab a drink. Not only do I need some cocktail therapy (as a friend likes to put it) but I also need something to calm my nerves for an 8 ½ hour flight. I have slight plane anxiety and I have a feeling that if I take any sort of meds, I’ll turn into Kristin Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids. Which, in some aspects, is not far off from how I am right now (but that is beside the point).
When I first got on the plane I found a little Indian man (is there any other kind?) fast asleep in a deep, deep slumber, in my seat. Did I let him stay there? No, I had to wake him up. One – I needed my window seat and two – by the looks of him, he was so tired that if one of the attendants had stuffed him into an overhead bin, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
I sat down, got out my music, headphones and was ready to prepare myself for the minutes before take-off. Which to me are the most terrifying yet thrilling at the same time. I love barreling down the run way at god knows how many miles per hour and then lifting off so I can see the city below. That lasts about a whole 5 seconds before I grab the arm handles and wait till the plane levels off. While I’m “prepping” myself, a nice Swedish woman sat down next to me. Well, I’m not quite sure if she’s Swedish (and I really hope that she’s not reading this). It’s not like we wear name tags that say “Hello! Me ethnicity is…” nor am I so amazing at determining dialects. I mean she could be Hungarian for all I knew. What I did know, was that her and her friend’s glances towards me were telling me that they wanted me to offer up my seat so that her friend could sit next to her.
Now, I just fought off a little Indian man for this seat (not really) and I’m not a mean person. I also hate to see family and friends separated (especially on a plane). I know the comfort of having a pal sit next to me, one that will hold my hand across the aisle during moments of rough turbulence. WAIT…what? That actually happened? Yeah…true story. I have great friends.
Anyways, back to what I was saying. I sat here for a couple of minutes trying to determine if my plane anxiety coupled with my need to sit next to the window to stay calm, overruled the fact that I wanted these two friends to sit together. Then I realized that this is MY vacation. I booked this seat next to the window and these two are grown woman, they can handle it. Now if a child was separated from his/her parents, I doubt I’d think twice about giving up my seat. I’m not that mean. So I just kept giving friendly, smiling glances back at the tall, blonde woman and her friend and they kept doing the same to me. With all this glancing back and forth, I couldn’t relax before take-off. Finally, when I thought I’d might just have to break down and give up my seat so that these two could talk up a storm, a group of young high school girls came bouncing through the aisles. Luckily, one of them kindly gave up her seat for the friend. Then I realized, that I had just been meaner than a “Mean Girl” from high school. How horrifying. Note to self: become a better person within two weeks.
Now, these two have been…talking…and talking…and talking. What can they possibly have to talk about at 30,000-something feet above ground for three hours now. Ok, I should probably stop hating on them as the one sitting next to me, kindly threw away my trash as I dozed in and out of sleep. Of course, I can’t understand a damn thing either one of them is saying but thankfully I have 13 songs on my iPod that I can listen to over and over again. Hopefully, this time I’ll actually memorize Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” instead of my feeble attempt at doing it in the 12th grade. I can now see the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline…Newark airport, here I am.
To Be Continued…
All right then, so now it’s a few hours into my 8 ½ hour flight to Madrid. My belly is full of blue corn chips smothered in blue cheese, some “special” sauce, pico de gallo, bacon and of course Corona. I’m feeling pretty full so I haven’t touched this so-called airplane dinner considering the chips and beer aren’t sitting too well in my stomach (must be that “special” sauce).
The girls sitting next to me are fast asleep and I hate to wake them up to go to the restroom. I’m just going to take a nap and wait.
Ok, I waited a couple of hours. They got up, I’ve taken care of business. Unfortunately, I’m still not feeling that well. This is not how I want to land in Spain. For now, I think I’m just going to sign off and force myself to sleep while listening to Florence and the Machine. See you in Madrid!
This is one of the outfits I came up with after coming back from vacation (and I really wished I had thought of it beforehand). I don’t know…maybe it’s the fact that I was in France for a whole two hours that inspired this Parisian-esque look. Yes, that’s right—red and white stripes, black bottoms and oxfords screams “Paris”! (Or mimes…however you want to see it). Like the majority of the population – guy or girl, my all-time favorite outfit is shorts, a loose tee and flip flops. I can get really lazy when putting together this staple summer ensemble, most of the time I end up looking like a hot mess. (I hardly doubt old, wrinkly t-shirts, soffee shorts and Old Navy flip flops count as fashionable at my age). Nonetheless, there is that one time where I’ll dress it up, case in point.
I think this outfit can easily transition into something for fall with patterned tights, short booties and a jacket. For now, let’s just stick to bare legs. I’m a teeny bit obsessed with shorts (I have them in as many colors as I do my cardigans) and I secretly wish I could wear them all-year round. (Good thing wearing shorts with tights has become a “thing” now). I’ve even had to create a separate pin board just with outfits featuring shorts. Otherwise my other boards would become bombarded and jealous of all the cool girls wearing shorts.
I’m also a fan of high-waisted shorts. If styled properly (and by “properly” I mean nicely-fitted and not skin tight), it can create a very clean look. I also like the idea/fact that I can tuck my tops into the shorts (either all the way around or just the front-end tucked) to create a nicely tailored look. Here’s a tip for any fellow shorties out there. It’s no secret, I’m on the shorter side (a mere 5’ 3”); therefore some shorts, depending on the length, can make me look stocky. Even some of the shorter ones, which you would think would help because it shows off more leg, but on me, they don’t. Plus, I can barely get one of my butt cheeks into those short shorts. However, I’ve found the high-waisted shorts/tucked in shirt combo helps to elongate a shorter frame and makes me look/feel a bit taller.
For other shorts-inspired outfits check out my Short Style pinboard here.
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As you guys know, I’ve finally conquered the whole I-can’t-pull-off-red-lipstick-fear (as seen here). After that, I had another little monster – bright lipsticks in shades of coral, fuchsia and pink. Over the past year, I’ve bought and hid these colors in my drawer, occasionally taking them out to play with and immediately wiping it off since I thought I looked like a scary clown.
I’ve always felt that these colors were made for girls with lighter skin tones than me and that I should just stick to shades that I’m comfortable with. Now, red is awesome but after awhile you kind of want to mix it up. I kept seeing images of girls pull off bright colors in magazines, Pinterest and other blogs and I thought I might be able to do the same if I wear something a bit more subtle. A couple of weekends ago, I went to a wedding reception and thought I’d attempt to wear pink (usually the lighting is pretty dim at these things so if it looked bad, no one would really be able to tell).
I kept my eye make-up fairly simple by doing a subtle smokey eye using Urban Decay’s NAKED palette in Sin and Hustle (with this technique I posted ), applying a light colored blush and using Sephora’s Cream Lipstain in Forever Fuchsia. Seen here on Instagram.
I actually ended up really liking the bright blue with the pink as it didn’t look too overwhelming with simple make-up. Usually with Indian clothes I like to match my eye shadow to the color of the sari but I opted not to here since I thought the pink would be “electrifying” (or “frightening”) enough.
Since I finally tried that out, I thought I’d do a quick review of the colors that I do have to see what might work for someone with my skin tone. When I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to invest in a certain lip color, I first start off with a few drug store brands. Say those are “working” for me but something is a little bit off and I still want to find the right shade, I’ll head to Sephora or MAC so I can try colors on then choose one. I had previously bought four bright shades by Revlon (my favorite drug/grocery store lipstick brand) in Hot Coral, Lilac Champagne, Persian Melon and Stormy Pink (I purchased these with HEB coupons so I ended up spending about $3 for each). Then I bought a Sephora brand color. Here are my reviews for all of these:
Revlon’s Hot Coral (reddish-orange): It took me a while but I think with the right outfit, I might like this color. I also like the fact that it’s matted and a bit bold so I didn’t need to apply too much to get the exact color to show.
Revlon’s Lilac Champagne (magenta-pink): This one is less matted than the previous one, a bit shiny and it takes a few swipes to get the color. However, I like the subtle pinkness of it and the sheen that it provides. It’ll still take me some time to wear this one out in public.
Revlon’s Persian Melon (magenta-pink): Earlier last year I heard girls rave about this color on their blogs and they looked good wearing it but it was also always sold out. I finally found it on a whim one time and decided to buy it since I’d heard such good things about it. I applied it and found the color to be similar to the Lilac Champagne color but it took A LOT more swipes to get a nice shade. In the end, my lips just felt awkward and a bit too shiny. I wasn’t a huge fan of it and I doubt I’ll wear it.
Sephora’s Forever Fuchsia (magenta): Towards the end of last year, I was out and about at Sephora and thought I’d check out other colors in their Cream Lipstain collection, since I really liked the bold color and feel of their Always Red stain. I ended up finding Forever Fuchsia, tried it on and actually really liked it. The color is bright but when you put it on, it becomes slightly darker and has a subtle sheen to it as seen below. It’s not HOT pink against my skin tone (as it might be on others) but it’s bold enough to be a pink that I like.
Revlon’s Stormy Pink (light pink matte): I was expecting this one to be a bit more bright than what it turned out to be. However, I actually like the subtle pink color of it and with the NYX Lip Liner Pencil in Pinky it brings the color out more. I’ll definitely be wearing this one out when I don’t want to over-do it on the lipstick.
I’ve heard that Urban Decay’s Super Saturated High Gloss Lip Color in Hot Pink or Big Bang are also good ones but haven’t had the chance to try them out.
I think for right now, I’m good with my Sephora-brand Forever Fuchsia one and if I really want to pop, I’ll use Revlon’s Hot Coral. (Though, I might just stick to red most of the time). Are there any bold, bright lip colors that you guys have tried and liked?
Eyes: Primer – Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Eye shadows – Urban Decay NAKED palette. *Eye liner – Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner in Blackest Black. *Mascara – L’Oreal Shocking Extensions in Blackest Black.
*Sold in local drug or grocery stores or online.
Top image via: 4.bp.blogspot.com.
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I had intended to have the first segment of my travels up today but I’m still finalizing and editing images (my Photoshop software is about ready to kill me). I’ll definitely have one up on Thursday as I am really quite excited to share some of the images (not all 3000…I promise!) with you guys plus some travel stories. So instead of saying, I’ll be back, I thought I’d go ahead and kick off my May posts (three weeks late) with some travel style. Side note: I did not take very many outfit-centric pictures when I was away as that really wasn’t the intention of my trip. However, my cousin was kind enough to take a few on my second day in Madrid, right before we had to leave to catch a plane to Morocco.
I packed very lightly for this trip. So lightly, that all I had were two carry-on sized bags, that fit all my clothes and essentials for two weeks, plus my camera bag and purse. Go me! I’d have to say the biggest help I had were E-bags packing cubes. For $20 you get a set of three cubes in different sizes; they are awesome for packing clothes and undergarments in. If you roll/fold your pieces up properly, you can fit all three packing cubes, plus a make-up bag, toiletries bag and a few other things all nice and snugly into a carry-on. I learned how to pack from this blog, Seventeenth & Irving, and found the E-bags packing cubes here.
I wanted to make sure the pieces that I took were versatile enough to be worn a few times in different ways. I planned outfits a couple of weeks in advance, however I didn’t pack anything until the night before (the procrastinator in me). I ended up wearing most of my pieces at least 3-4 times before they got too dirty to wear again. Some of them got dirty/smelly in one day and I didn’t get a chance to wash them, so they only got one wear; but for the most part, I really did pack just enough. This black maxi dress definitely got out a few times.
There was still a slight chill in the air in Madrid so I attempted to do the whole “chic-black” look by adding a black leather jacket to the dress. It was a bit too boring for me, so I threw in the gold belt and red TOMS. The shoes don’t particularly match, but I chose comfort over style (besides they’re TOMS, they pretty much go with everything anyways). By the way, these are another essential travel purchase (a tip I got from a friend). They are so comfortable, almost as if you are walking on air plus your feet don’t hurt as much at the end of the day.
With that, we set out for Reitro Park in Madrid where we shot these pictures. I’m not going to get into too much detail about the park as that is part of my travel stories post but I will say that it was not easy climbing up this pillar-structure especially in a dress. However, I was in Spain and if I did flash anyone, I doubt they’d be phased by it. Also, it smells like cat pee between the pillars. So inviting.
Here’s the struggle…
Dress – Ross, Jacket & Glasses – F21, Scarf – H&M, Belt – Thrifted, Bag – Sam Moon, Shoes – TOMS
Photos taken by Menka in Madrid, Spain.
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I told you guys that I’d post an outfit before I leave (!) I know…I’m just as shocked as you are. I have a few more hours until my trek to Spain begins and these are the hours that I wish teleportation was already invented. I always have that fear that I’ve left something behind (though I’ve checked my What to Pack list at least 18 times), my nerves are on edge and I really just WANT to be at my destination. Unfortunately, there’s this teeny-tiny body of water (aka the Atlantic Ocean) standing in my way of flamenco dancers, tapas, wine and extreme amounts of awesome-ness.
However, if I were to say that the night leading up to this departure was uneventful, I’d be lying. Last week I took my car into the shop and spent close to $800 to fix it. Then I cursed the crap out of the dealership and at my car for making me spend so much money on something as frivolous as a reliable mode of transportation. Only to end up driving it a couple of days later with a drained battery (that was recently replaced!), flickering lights, a radio that would go in and out and ultimately it died on me after pulling up or should I say gliding into a gas pump.
After waiting 45 minutes for the tow truck to arrive, being followed by a trucker who was either pissed he had to drive so far away from town or maybe he just hates silver cars, finding a random guy parking cars in the dealership lot, more than hour after it was closed – I left my Cookie Monster all alone in the Service lane at the shop. My car and I have never been away for more than two days really, let alone 2 weeks. It’s kind of a big step for us so I guess putting me through all this hassle (and money) is it’s way of saying that it’ll miss me. I for one cannot wait to be free and walk around everywhere! Some relationships just need a break.
Of course, I had barely packed or done anything. So instead of a night filled with a friend’s birthday, packing, wine and Stephen Colbert – it turned into a night of birthday, towing, AAA and a tow trucker I’ll call Raymond, who was not amused every time I chased him in parking lots, which was more than one time.
That my friend’s is my big bon voyage.
I was also wearing these grape-colored pants, so at least I was doing all these awesome things in style. I wore it with a simple cream-colored peplum top with an orange sash and nude heels; but here, I have it dressed up in a business/work-wear style. Another prime example of how to incorporate color into your work wardrobe and if you can’t wear purple pants, then maybe the color combo (grape, navy, white and nude) is something you can try to put together with other pieces.
Well, my lovely readers I’m ready to cross that ocean so let me just grab my bikini and shark-repellant spray.
Catch you guys on the flipside!
I’m just going to say this – I’m a big WUSS when it comes to packing my bags and traveling somewhere (I mentioned this in my New Year’s Resolutions post and I’m pretty sure most of my friends would be in complete agreement). It’s not that I’m scared to travel (I do have a slight fear of flying) but mostly I do the whole “Eh, I’ll go later” bit or I just think too much about it. Then the opportunity passes me up and I continue to sit here—twiddling my thumbs, pinning cities and dreaming about places to visit. The very definition of “un-wanderlusting”. If that’s a word. Probably not.
Anyways, I decided to conduct an intervention…on myself. (Yes people. This is possible). If you are like me (and I hope that you are not), these steps may just help you:
1. Writing out SPAIN TICKETS in big, bold letters with a Sharpie (no other writing utensil would have been as effective) and taping it to the rear-view mirror of my car.
What normal, sane, totally awesome person has to do this when they want to travel somewhere? For VACATION, nonetheless? I DO. Me. Only me. I needed a constant, daily reminder that the country of Spain does exist, as does the word “tickets”, and I must get one so that I can go there (because a map and my dreams are just not enough). I’m sure you can only imagine the types of looks and questions I got when people sat in my car.
2. Sitting down and actually looking for plane tickets instead of pinning pictures of Spain on to my Take Me Here board on Pinterest. Honestly, the appropriate name for this board should probably be Taking Myself Here because let’s face it, ain’t no one going to take me anywhere.
At this point, my heart literally sank when I saw how expensive tickets were and I was going to give up. Yes, even AFTER I put the post-it up. The first step is always the hardest to overcome my friends.
3. NOT giving up. The next day I continued my search then the day after that and the day after that. Finally, after a week of soul-searching (aka ticket-searching), I found it! An affordable flight. I.am.SO.dramatic.
4. The FINAL step – overcoming my fear of booking an international trip one month out. I’m not going to lie, it took me awhile to gather my thoughts…think through this decision… come to terms with the fact that my bank account was going to decrease…OR MAYBE NOT. There was a bit of a hoopla between me, my credit card, the airlines, my bank and global call centers. It all ended in a three-way phone call and bit of resentment for call centers in India and a certain travel agent whom I shall call Savita.
5. I am booked.
When I told people, I actually think they thought I was lying. (Clearly, I had a problem). I received quite a few looks mixed with shock and excitement; along with the phrase, “Wow! I’m so happy for you! (I even got an “It’s about damn time”.) My cousin, whom I’ll be spending my trip with, kind of doesn’t believe that I’m actually coming. COME ON GUYS – do you not know me, if at all? It’s almost as if I had accomplished something amazing, like I was about to set off on a journey to climb Mt. Everest or if you are a 30-year old unmarried Indian girl—walking into a room full of Indian aunties and uncles and telling them that you found someone thus making THEIR lives complete. (Side note: I’m not even remotely close to doing either one of these things).
With that, in one week my trek from Madrid to Marrakesh to Barcelona (and a few cities in between) will begin. I am EXCITED and if anyone has any recommendations as to what type of meds to take that will lull my plane-anxiety or knock me out for an entire day of flying, please feel free to comment below (and of course, things to do).
Also, I realize that I have not posted a single fashion/style-related post all month. I promise to get one up before I leave next Wednesday so don’t shut me out for two straight weeks just yet!
Image sources: Flamenco dancer – dancemelody.com/ballet-pictures/Flamenco-Dancer/flamenco_02; Moroccan gate doors – alyibnawi.tumblr.com/; La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona – theberry.com/2012/02/27/mystery-misc-39-photos-2/so-much-character-33/.
Graphic design by Jyoti.
I know you guys have been patiently waiting for this…REEEEE-CAAAP!!! <insert techno music, fist pumps and awesome dance moves>
Here’s a video recap of my 30 Before 30. Don’t worry it’s not just me straight talking (that would be boring), there are props! It is a bit long (hence the reason there are 2 videos but also WordPress would not let me download the whole thing all at once) so maybe you can watch it in parts or just skip over scenes? (If you do this, I will not be hurt nor will I ever know). However, you will be happy to know that not once did I pull a “Mark Rubio” and reach for a bottle of water mid-speech. (Go me).
***If you are not able to view the video you may need to “Enable Cookies” within your internet browser. You can follow this link to help you with that process. If you’re still not able to, then maybe I’ve done something wrong so please let me know.***
Do not mind the stupid face I’m making or the penguin…it is explained.
In case you are wondering what I’m wearing and where it’s from: bright blue jeans – CR, the “perfect” white t-shirt – ZARA, headband – F21. (No, seriously. If you’ve been looking for the perfect white T – this one is it. I just recently bought it (two weeks ago) and it was $10…sold).