Caribbean Blow Bars

If you’re anything like me, very few things make you feel as great as a fresh salon do, or a mani and pedi. Blow dry bars – salons that cater only to washing and styling by blow drying – have been a hit in the US for quite some time and they’ve been packing up and heading to paradise. So when you go on vacation, or for the lucky gals who call the islands their home, your tresses can still be perfect!

The designer in me also love the interiors of these salons as they always look super chic and very high end.

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Travel Diaries: Puerto Rico

Having done an independent study on the architecture of the Caribbean last semester I definitely was excited, ready and rearing to go to Puerto Rico. My excitement was two fold – I wanted to see the architecture of the island after I’d read so much about it and I was stoked to explore another Caribbean territory as seeing all of the islands is on my bucket list.

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There are so many things I like about what I’ve seen in Old San Juan which is where I spent most of my week in Puerto Rico. The architecture is brightly colored and tells of the island’s Spanish colonial history. The townhouses are right up against each other but each one has its own very bright hue, which you will see in the photos below! So imagine how easy it is to say “Calle San Jose the orange house” when giving directions to your place. The first story of the townhouses, which are usually two or three stories high, are usually used for commerce or retail and the upper stories are usually residential. Many of the bars I went into in these buildings had a secret reveal of a small inner open air courtyard which were quite a pleasant surprise! I stayed the last 4 days of my trip in a second floor apartment that had a cutout for the courtyard below so you could open it up to the outdoors in the center! The city was also scattered with many public plazas – and if you’re from the Caribbean you know how many activities happen outdoors – these public plazas are perfect for those.  The entire of Puerto Rico, not just Old San Juan, also had lots of art work – from sculptures, to murals on the sides of buildings, and small pieces like wall art and jewelry on sale by local artisans.

The food was absolutely delectable and the vibe was very home-like! I found fresh juice on the side of the street, something I definitely miss while I’m in Florida. I ensured to eat plantain every single day that I was there! I also tried a new plantain dish called “mofongo” which is like a volcano of mashed, seasoned plantain with meat in the center. Of course, my meat of choice was fried pork – so yummy! And I made my way to the beach as often as possible – that hues of blue of the Caribbean are absolutely breathtaking!

Without further ado, here are street photos of the colorful, colonial architecture of Old San Juan!

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Travel Diaries: Florida Springs

This summer, I’m taking a class about mapping the Florida landscape. I, for once, don’t have to build a model – which I am somewhat thankful for. It is a class that is going to be based on graphics and going to exciting places. At first, I wanted to explore the coral reefs of Florida which are actually a few hours drive down south. However, upon learning about the natural springs of Florida and seeing exactly how blue they are, because I am an absolute sucker for blue water, I decided that exploring some springs would be just perfect.

I found a few springs within a two hour drive of Tampa and set out. Here are photos from Rainbow Springs and Weeki Waachee Springs. I also bought a disposable underwater camera and I am super duper excited to see what the photos will look like once they’re developed.

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Travel Diaries: Savannah

Having gone to Savannah in Fall 2012 as my class trip it was my intention to return with the ability to do and see my own thing. So last October I took a few days off of school and planned a mini road trip there with my parents. On my very first visit to Savannah I liked the old quaint city – it looked like it was choked full with oodles of history and of course it was. Savannah is considered to be a part of the south, southern cooking, southern living, southern belles, southern manners – I saw a little boy get out of the front passenger of a car and open up the back door for an elderly lady to get in.

Savannah has a multitude of parks throughout the entire city which are extremely cool. On my first trip I witnessed my very first gay marriage in one of these parks. There is a river walk called Factors Walk where you’re allowed to have open containers of alcohol which is honestly right up my alley. There is also a market place which has loads of artsy stuff and art galleries. The architecture is old and American colonial, a lot of it was built by slaves as the entire area was at some point a colony with plantations. There still are cobble stone streets and horse drawn carriages. Now both times I’ve been to Savannah have been in the Fall, I’d love to see the beauty of the city in the Spring as well. If you drive about 40 minutes away from the downtown Savannah area you will end up at the beaches and on Tybee Island where you will happen on a lot more art and craft as well.

Savannah is also home to SCAD – Savannah College of Art and Design, which was my first choice of colleges. What grabbed my eye about the school is that it was an art school which allowed a cross contamination of disciplines. So people from different design studies could collaborate with each other. The students are also allowed an amazing amount of possibilities and opportunities as fashion design students have a fashion show, students studying movie making work towards an opening and a previewing of their own movie, those who study museum curating get to work in the school’s gallery for experience. There is also a store for students to sell the things they create whether it is a rug, painting, jewelry, garment. Doesn’t this sound amazing?

Now that you’ve had enough of my babbling about this place, here are my photos.

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 I love this abstract map of the city.

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Notice how wonky the window on this house is?

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How cute are my parents?

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These are the best macarons I have ever had! I am a macaron junkie and the filling of these were thicker, heavier, and creamier than the others I’ve ever had.

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One of SCAD’s buildings is actually an old train station that has since been reappropriated.

IMG_8027These next few were on exhibit in the SCAD museum of art.

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Travel Diaries: San Francisco

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California as a destination has been on my list of places to go in the US even before I moved here. My dad had been to California for work and I was determined to find my way there somewhere in the four years I was in college when I started. Now, I am actually into my fifth year of college, so that was a little wrong but I finally made my way to California. I wanted to go to California because I spent the first 18 years of my life on the Atlantic. I’d seen Atlantic sunrises and sunsets. I’ve spent my last four years on the Gulf of Mexico, I’ve seen sunsets no sunrises. I needed to see a sunset on the Pacific, anyone who knows me knows I thoroughly enjoy slowing down and watching the sun set.

Every semester the professors in the design studios pick a place and take the students in their studios there. So far, I have been to Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; South Beach, Florida; Manhattan, New York; Denver, Colorado; and Chicago, Illinois for studio trips. What was different about this trip was that I actually wasn’t in the professor’s studio as I took the class over the summer. I approached him because I wanted to go and asked him if he would be fine with me tagging along if I was willing to pay. So then I approached my parents and bit my fingernails for a couple of days after I was given the price. Then a few days later when I no longer had any fingernails I was told yes I could go.

Now tell me, who is the luckiest girl in the world? I am not in the studio but I am getting to go on this trip? I was bouncing off the walls like a rubber bumper ball. I was never excited to go on any other design trip because the place was somewhere I actively wanted to go. Here I was not in this studio but ready and rearing to go. And the best thing about this trip is that I didn’t have to return to Tampa and design something for the class. Haha! It was purely for vacation right in the middle of my semester. Let’s just say I cannot complain this semester.

Before I left, two things were on my list to see of things I couldn’t leave San Francisco without seeing. The first would be the Painted Ladies – those houses in the intro to Full House and a sunset on Fisherman’s Wharf – because I have a weakness for sunsets and finally I get to see one on the Pacific Ocean. Truthfully, the Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t even on my list. I got to see the two things that were on my list and so many more. We didn’t leave the hilly city of San Francisco and I definitely want to go back to see what it is like beyond the city.

The first thing I noticed out of the airport is that the women’s calves were huge. It did not occur to me exactly how hilly San Francisco was until I was walking these hills myself. My calves certainly got a work out from this trip. There were tons of bums, an amount that seemed to me to be even more than the amount in Guyana. One bum sat on the sidewalk holding a bunch of branches and leaves and would jump out and scare women when they walked past him – of course, I doubled over in laughter when I saw him do this. San Francisco, unlike any other place I’ve been in the US didn’t only have trash and recycle bins but they also had a compost bin – what a green state!

So now if you’re still reading this, and you haven’t just skipped all the text to get to the eye candy, without further ado here is San Francisco through my brown eyes and iPhone camera.

IMG_7134I loved the way the vines had almost entirely covered the facade of this building! Vertical garden anyone?

IMG_7163This art piece was a multitude of strings with beads of some sort in different places to create an illusion of people when they were all together. How great is your mind to come up with something that is as amazing as this?

IMG_7201And of course, the Painted Ladies. These houses are famous for their appearance in Full House and apparently in other tv shows and movies. It is a cliche San Francisco tourist photo but who can go to San Francisco and not see these houses? They are Victorian Style houses and you can read more about them here.

IMG_7204and more pretty Painted Ladies!

IMG_7210This is Untitled by Ruth Asawa, it’s made from copper and brass wire.

IMG_7247San Francisco skyline!

IMG_7251and a sunset on the Pacific… thanks mom and dad, I can scratch something off of my bucketlist!

IMG_7387so what would this post be without a San Francisco cable car?!

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IMG_7263and Chinatown!

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IMG_7365and for some boats because here is another one of my weaknesses..

IMG_7359and I love this capture! I love the shades of blue and green in the water and how poetic the tiny sale boat is in the shadow of the huge Golden Gate Bridge!