This so happened. 2 weeks ago. November 14th-17th. Girls' trip with Purna and Sue.
And, oh, yes. It's exactly what it looks like.
Hogsmeade. In all it's magical glory. =)
I'm just gonna frankly say that I'm def not getting around to editing those pictures. So freakin' knee-deep in editing other travel photos. NYC, LA, this past weekend's engagement shoot, the upcoming NYC trip (!!!). That's not even including personal photog projects, DIY tutorials and the occasional friend's partay. Hopefully I can crank all that out before 2015! Wish. Me. Luck.
Anyways, back to the real purpose of this post. I've never ever ever been so awestruck by a theme park before. Til now. Incredible detail went into every nook and cranny of both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. So much so, that it doesn't even feel like you're at a theme park! I feel like us girls did this whole Harry Potter trip justice. Nothing but Harry Potter. All day, everyday, for 2.5 days. (With a surprise One Direction cameo appearance. Now that's a bonus.) If ya ever find yourself in Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly where it's at.
In the spirit of Fall, my patio is all kinds of pumpkin'd out. Which gots me thinking: A nice Fall wreath would tie it all together. But I didn't want just any normal wreath. Oh, no no no. Of course I had to do something different! So enter snazzy felt rosettes. I've always loved the idea of felt rosettes but never knew a classy way to use them without looking 'too cheesy crafty'. Although the idea of felt rosettes on grapevine wreaths are nothing new, so it's been challenging trying to figure out how to make it really unique from the pack. Here's what I came up with:
Materials // Grapevine wreath. 10-12 felt sheets of various colors (I've used 4 shades of orange). 6-8 flower stems. Scissors. Permanent Marker. Glue gun. CD case and/or Paper towel holder.
How-to // 1. Using a permanent marker, trace circles onto the felt sheet using a CD case and/or Paper towel holder. I used both 'cause I like the idea of varying rosette sizes. Two (maaaybe 3) is the max number of circles that can fit onto a felt sheet. // 2. Cut out circles. Don't cut along the black permanent pen trace, instead cut inside the pen trace. That way, no black markings will be seen on your rosettes. // 3. Now with your newly acquired felt circle, cut a wonky imperfect spiral all the way to the middle. The wonkier, the better! It adds a bit of character to the rosette! // 4. Starting from the outside edge, roll up the spiral. Make sure the bottom of the rosette is flat as you roll along. // 5. When done rolling, glue gun the remaining piece of felt onto the rosette. // 6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 until you have the desired number of rosettes in need. // 7. Start playing around with a design in mind! Then commit by sticking the flower stems in and glue gunning the rosettes onto the wreath.
In hindsight, I probably should've scaled back on the glittery flower stems. Kinda takes away from the felt rosettes and grapevine wreath itself, 'cause that wreath looks like it's on fiy-ah a la Hunger Games style. Perhaps, place the the flower stems behind the wreath? Or go minimalist next time and let the felt rosettes do all the talking. But overall, I am diggin' the different textures on this wreath. Now on the hunt for a mini stuffed fox to place inside of it!
I expect this trip to live up to the insanely high standards of the last 2 L.A. cameo trips. Albeit, I was in my 20s and a whole lot more spunkier. And energetic. And immune to jet lag then. But aside from the obvious fact that I can't hang like I used to - No excuses!
SoCal - I'm so 85% ready for ya. Let's do this!
(Packing and planning issues ain't no joke. Recurring problem, really. Probably helped if I hadn't waited, oh, at the very last minute. =X You woulda thunk I had that all figured out after 10+ years and 50+ countries later! Travel fail!)
Hey East Side, I'll be hitting you up more often this Fall. Now that the slightly cooler weather is here, it's time to get back to exploration mode and unearth more creative randomness around the neighborhood. (Seems like more and more hipster gems are popping up every week. East Austin is the place to be!) Had a lil taste of the outdoor photog fun this past Saturday morning for the first time in a long time and - it's like reuniting with a long lost love. Miss these mini photo walks!
Well, Fall, it's about damn time you're here. Gots a feeling we're gonna make some sweet, sweet memories.
Wished it was more like a bajillion countries in 10 days (Believe me! I've tried!), but the hubsterz had to lure me back down from Cloud 9. (Put up a bit of a fight on the way down, hah!)
But, but, but ... I kinda liked it on Cloud 9!
One of my travel dreams is to spend at least a year in Europe, hopping from country to country, spending my days photographing/exploring Old World beauty and nights dining/conversing with the locals. There's something utterly simple in this whole European lifestyle. And I'm totally head-over-heels in love with it. Quality of life, man.
In the meantime, I'll take Europe in small doses until that dream becomes a reality. I'm determined to beat my longest European cameo of 4 months!
Countless thank yous to the long-time Euro friends (Andy, Guil, Jan + Stef) for making this most recent Euro trip pounce unlike any other Euro trip experience in the past! It's a whole different ballgame when you personally see their world through their eyes and their words right next to them. I felt like we were more than just passerbys. More like somewhere between tourists and locals. Hah! Thank you, friends from Ireland + Germany - y'all made us fall even more in love with your country!
>>> 7 years ago in Spain.
Jan and I were the only ones left in the residencia, it seems, oh, for all of September. With everyone back to their respective countries, our evenings were pretty much spent at the local pub having epic conversations about everything and anything. Seriously. Everything and anything. (We had a friendly debate over the difference between deer and moose and elk and reindeer. Theories got more absurd the more we drank. And at the same time, things oddly made sense. Like, whoa.) Well, one random night at the pub, Jan (or I?) had this epic idea of trying every beer on the menu. All 70+ cervezas. But Jan only had 3 weeks left before heading back to uni in Tübingen. That means 3-4 beers a night. Every night. For the next 3 weeks. I can't hang with that amount of beer, but because Jan is German and Germans love beer ... Challenge accepted.
And that's how we became regulars at Erasmus pub.
Needless to say, I had tons of practice with the German tradition of 'Prost!'.
>>> June 2014 in Austin.
Commence the initial stages of Eurotrip 'planning' by Jin, which involves hitting up a few old friends / fam bam living in various parts of the Deutschland and giving them heads up that we're on our way. (Ends Eurotrip planning by Jin, lol.) Jan responded right away:
" ... if you're ready to make the journey - fairytale castles, one of the finest medieval old towns in Germany and our warm hospitality wait for you." - Jan
Wow. Tübingen sounds even smaller than what Jan had described it 7 years ago! It also sounds oddly like Salamanca ... and exactly the quaint Germany I was looking for. Can't wait! >>> August 2014 in Tübingen.
So everything about Tübingen was beyond phenomenal, all thanks to our awesome hosts, Jan and his wife, Stef. From getting personally picked up in Stuttgart to their tour guide prowess (and eagerness!) to their incredible hospitality. (So many memories to mention just in their tiny, cozy home! They offered us their bed, prepared fresh breakfast + coffee every morning on their patio, cooked intimate dinners, showed Vince how to make spaetzle, taught us a German card game - all from the comforts of their home!) I now see why Jan ended up in Salamanca all those years ago. Tübingen IS the German version of Salamanca. Only colorful.
And just like Salamanca, Tübingen is incredibly rich in medieval history, utterly simple in lifestyle, and picturesque all around. There are only a few places in the world that I can call surreal. Tübingen is def on that list.
On the last full day in Tübingen, I had tried to keep my birthday under wraps and almost got away with it until dinner time - after a full day of castle hunting and brewery hopping - when Jan actually checked his FB. (From what I remembered from my ole German roomies, Germans have their own version of FB. But I didn't get that memo that FB sued StudiVZ a few years back. D'oh.)
'Jiiiiin? FB is telling me your birthday is today??!'
Zang. So close. So after dinner, Jan and Stef 'surprised' me with a pretty impressive (and catchy!) German birthday song and presented me with last minute German chocolates in lieu of a birthday cake. What I am surprised about is that there are FOUR German birthday songs. FOUR! Imagine my befuddlement when Jan and Stef said they couldn't decide what song to sing! Wow. I must say. That was pretty awesome. It's been 7 years since the last I've spent my birthday in Europe. Both times, coincidentally, Jan was there! Full circle!
But the Eurotrip adventures didn't stop there. Like almost all our flights back to the states from Europe over the past 8 years - we ran into a snafu. Nothing like having Jan hook us up with an Autobahn card, become temporary unofficial German residents til the end of 2014 to get that card (Good to know we have a home in Germany for the next 3 months, haha!), wake up at 3am, get Jan to drive us to Stuttgart, catch a 5am train ride into another country, make multiple transfers in between, and miraculously end up in Brussels. Just so we can catch our 10a flight over the pond. Whew!
Another memorable Eurotrip in the books! Huzzah!
Jan and Stef : we are most definitely looking forward to y'alls visit to Texas - hopefully in the near future! - and return the same high-standard hospitable kindness that y'all have bestowed upon us! Seriously, you two are amazing hosts! Danke for every generous detail! Let us know if y'all need a recommendation on Trip Advisor ... 'roomies'. Oh, and there are tons of PAYDAYS here in Austin. No bribes. Just sayin'. =P
Woke up at 5a, hauled ass from East Village to Brooklyn Bridge (Brooklyn-side), and set up (photog) shop as fast as we could when the fist hints of the night time sky started to fade into colors. The perfect sunrise locale with perfect sunrise hues and perfect sunrise weather.
And I've been dreaming of that perfect moment ever since. Le sigh.
Can't wait to start editing the NYC snaps. As y'all have noticed this past year (or 5!) that I kinda have a time management problem. Still. Can't seem to discipline myself into a schedule. It's just not my thayng. (Couldn't really pinpoint why until I took this test - now it ALL makes sense!) But first thing's first. Gotta get through the last round of Eurotrip edits. (A month overdue, admittedly. I know, I know - for shame!) Then on to the final rounds of photoshoots and trips and holidays to close out 2014. It's times like these that it sure would be nice if those photos edit themselves! More eating, less editing. Now that's an ideal Holiday 2014 (and 2015!) situation!
Seems this photo blog will be more of a travel blog for the next few months. Gots a few mini trips planned for each month before 2015 rolls around the corner.
First up for the Fall season: NYC.
For those who have been persistent about us getting back to NYC - Yaasssss! It's finally happening! Hopefully this is just the beginning of something epic. We plan on keeping NYC as a regular in the near future. ;-) See y'all on the East Coast!
Hipster. The one recurrent word our European friends have used to describe this city. I ain't gonna lie. I was a lil iffy at first, ya know, coming from a hipster town meeself. But then I set foot in this city aaaaand it's worth the hype that everyone has raved about. Total opposite of Communist anything. Berlin is vibrant, hip, happenin'. Hard to believe the Berlin Wall fell only 25 years ago! In my lifetime! I remember as a wee 9 year old watching the events unravel on TV. Mind blowing stuff.
If anything, Berlin is resilient. Which became very apparent when V and I met up one of my old neighbors from the Spain days, Guil, who recently moved to Berlin from Sao Paolo and moonlighted as our tour guide. I'm gonna digress a bit, but I haven't seen this dude in 7 years! He'll always have a special place in my memory during my life in Spain, being one of the first people I've met in Salamanca and one of the few who've stuck around when everyone went back to their respective home countries. We've had many a crazy nights chugging down chupitos at the local pubs and lazily drinking in front of a church and then drinking some more at our residencia. But I don't want to give the impression that we've drank a lot (just half the time =P). Fundamentally, everyone bonded over their own unique life experiences from all corners of the world during these gatherings. And that, there, is really the beauty of why I love meeting fellow travelers while traveling. Chances are you're going to meet someone who's in the same boat as you, constantly roaming the world searching for something more. More than what the social convention expects of you. Shared life stories of these fellow life wanderers reflects that. I'm in awe and inspired by these kindred spirits.
Guil is truly a kindred spirit of that very kind.
So with Guil practically a Berliner, we set forth on a cray-cray foot tour around town, hunting down currywurst and iconic street graffiti and remnants of the GDR. I swear we must've circled this town TWICE. Which is not an easy feat considering Berlin is HUGE. There are times the old Communist influences are still very evident and others like it had never happened. It's really befuddling and curious at the same time. But one thing's for sure, Berlin is a better, happier place. A city where one can easily roam its streets and find an artist's haven. A place I would come back just to explore more of its strong-willed history and perhaps seriously live in if I had the option of moving back to Europe (I wish!)
Guil - You're always welcome here at Casa de Chu-Ferrer. From one hipster town to the other, you'll love it here in Austin. We'll even take ya up on that dog-sitting offer if that's what it takes for ya to get here. Let's not wait another 7 years! ;-)
By the way, I must really mention how awesome The Generator hostel was (is!) during our 4-5 day stay in Berlin. How awesome? Let's just say it's been awhile since we've stayed at a clean, brand spankin' new, accommodating, insanely convenient, trendy hostel - not since Thailand 2009. Stay there if ya ever in Berlin.
This guy. Andy. From Ireland. The most unlikely character we've met at a hostel in Malaysia some 5 years ago. A meet-and-greet extraordinaire working the front desk most enthusiastically. And if anything, he was probably THE highlight of the hostel. With that Irish jive he had going on - it def overshadowed some of the interesting parts of the place (That's another story!), but yah, he'd always had something colorful to add to the mini convos in passing, day in and day out. So anyways, he thought we were cool. We (V, Yi-Xuan, ChewLee, I) thought he was cool. We're all cool. Cool people keep in touch.
Fast forward 5 years later. So we got to thinking. It's been years since our last Eurotrip. Years! How'd that happened?? Time to get back to the Old World! Pronto. And we did just that. Booked us an overnight flight in a Dreamliner, right over the pond, straight into Dublin. 'Cause we've never been to Ireland and hey, Andy is there!
In true meet-and-greet style, Andy met us up at our hotel on Day 1. Simply just to welcome us into his hometown, then he was off for a bit. Hours later he came back to what began the weekend warrior whirlwind across Dublin. Started off with some sushi (and Sake Bombs!), theeen commenced the official cray-cray Irish pub crawl. Met some of Andy's friends along the way, asked everyone of them about the Irish Car Bomb (which astonishingly enough, no one knew what the heck we were talking about), befriended a couple of gals from Maritius over pizza ('Where the heck is Maritius??') and ended the night partying with them at a salsa club. Day 1 - DONE.
Day 2 was a bit more tamed, filled with touristy fun. From the oh-so-green parks (Hello, Oscar Wilde!) to the museum hopping to the Riverdance show. Throw in the occasional Irish pub break in between, where we introduced Andy to Tinder and had an entertaining go with it before he promptly returned the kindness by challenging V to the Ice Bucket Challenge, haha! Overall, we really were surprised by the walkability of proper Dublin. Like, how insanely close everything happened to be. A 5 minute walk here, a 10 minute walk there. Easily knocked off everything (worth seeing per Andy) in just a day. Although, believe it or not, with the constant chatter as we walked through the city, it WAS hard to remember to photo-document the trip. Andy, you are one entertaining conversationalist. BUT I did manage to squeeze in some beloved urban snaps and briefly ponder upon the cityscape likeness of London. (No? Just me?)
Next visit we're def gonna extend the adventures to more than just a weekend. Rent a car and explore the Irish countryside. Travel to Cork, Limerick, up north to Belfast. Find us some leprechauns and a pot of gold. (Had to throw in a stereotype eventually! *does Irish jig* =P)
Andy, you (and your upcoming Indie film) are always welcome at Casa de Chu-Ferrer. Texas awaits your cameo appearance! Let the world adventures continue, from Malaysia to Ireland to Texas!