Some Place Remote – for your Bucket List.

The term “remote” is relative to one’s location, but remote also means “isolated”. Considering that most of us live in urban areas overwhelmed by noise and traffic, I think is important for a change  to  experience some place “isolated” this coming 2016.

With that in mind, I have made a list of the 10 best places that can offer you a life changing experience –or at least some peace and quiet time.

1.Iceland: because it’s the land of Fire and Ice, of Aurora Borealis, the Blue Lagoon and so much more.

2.Palau: Famous among divers, but plenty to do also if you  aren’t one. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/palau/travel-tips-and-articles/exploring-palau-what-to-do-when-youre-not-diving#ixzz3vdenksn0

3. Galapagos Island and Amazonian Jungle, Ecuador: You might think I am bias on this one, but it’s hard to compete with a country that offers two life changing experiences in such a short distance between one and the other.

@bucketlistec

4. Madagascar: One word, BAOBABS –if you read The Little Prince you’ll know– and that is just the beginning of it.

5. St. Helena Island: Right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – the island where Napoleon was exiled and died – will finally have an operating airport on 2016.

6. Montana, USA: Yes, its possible to feel peace and quiet in a country inhabited by 300 million people.

7. Perito Moreno and Ushuaia, Argentina: The beauty of this glacier and town will leave you speechless.

 

8. Bhutan and Nepal: Both offer the experience of a lifetime, and its better to visit them before they become flooded by hotel chains and tourists.

9. Svalbard, Norway: One of Europe’s last great wildernesses, an inhabited by more polar bears than people, it’s a wonderful place to explore and hike.

10.Exumas, Bahamas:  Bahamas doesn’t sound like a secluded, remote place, but Exumas is.  You will enjoy raw nature and unspoiled beaches at it’s best. No casinos, no buffet lines, just white sand and turquoise water.

 

 

The philosophy behind the Run Away Party

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”                                                                                                     Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

That quote changed me. Not immediately though, but the sound of it pounded in my head for months… or years. I turned it around, analyzed it over and over, and in that process I changed, because my daily decisions changed.

If we are essentially spiritual beings, if that is our quintessential quality. If we are alive only for a short period of time, and this time is supposed to be used for growth, trough human experiences and material life. Why impair it? Why demonize the human condition? Why condemn others for their flaws? Why forbid living fully? Why avoid pleasurable experiences? Isn’t beauty food for the soul? Why did we understand that only suffering causes the spirit to grow?. Of course the enjoyment should be a generous, empathetic and compassionate one. There is no joy in injustice. True happiness only exists when it’s shared, understanding that is fundamental for fully experiencing. It’s about an honest joy, a fair joy, without  the  intention to harm or hurt. A joy that is a product of harmony and integration, a consequence of understanding that others happiness, is basic for mine too.

Suffering is a reality, is part of life. It’s inevitable. Good byes, physical pain, death, endings, are going to cause suffering to all of us. We don’t need to go looking for them. Pain will come and teach us all what we allow ourselves to learn. The spirit will enrich from that learning. Nobody doubts it. Fabricating suffering, I don’t understand.

Happiness will come too, will knock on our doors softly a few times per day. We will let them go, without inviting them to come in, because we have programmed ourselves to feel they are frivolous, banal and vane, and to value only suffering and sacrifice.  All that happiness lost forever….. Isn’t that a extreme case of vanity? Aren’t we lacking the necessary humility to accept that mundane and simple things are good for us? Are fear and guilt ruling our lifes? Isn’t that lack of love? For ourselves for starters… Aren’t we throwing away the divine gift of human experience?

If our spirits only get one chance. If being alive is an exception. If this is the only chance to understand how complex the human experience is, how difficult accepting our flaws, how humbling the failures, how brave the good byes, how fragile it all feels. How contradictory.  Shouldn’t we stop listening to that voice that is always interrupting?

 

24 hrs in Soho

Because NYC is so big and offers so many options, I will continue writing guides by Neighborhood. This time is about SOHO.

If you like yoga, I suggest you start the day taking a class at Yoga Works  – 459 Broadway. You can pay the class or benefit from their free trial too. They have showers there so you can leave feeling fresh and energyzed.

For breakfast there are many options around.  If you feel like brunching I suggest you go to Balthazar or Delicatessen. But if you just want to grab a bite on the go, the best options are Dean and Delucca that has great bakery and coffee. Another option are the different food trucks parked around, they offer everything from empanadas to cupcakes. Or head to Uniqlo were you can start your shopping while sipping on your cappuccino –they have a Starbucks in the store for your convenience.

For me Soho is meant to be walked at a calm pace because every single block is filled with surprises. But just as a guide I am listing here some of my favorite shops:

For high end designer:

  • Prada: The store has being recently redecorated and is beautiful.
  • Saint Laurent: Recently opened. Worth checking it out.
  • Kirna e Zabbette: My favorite store in Soho. Mix of designers, high end and independent. Very well curated stuff.

For Vintage:

What goes around comes around: Has the best variety under one roof and everything is certified authentic.

For cool fashion:

Superga: The new kid on the block, very cool ambiance.

Converse: They offer personalization available for your sneakers.

For your house and lifestyle:

– Muji: Big store here, everything they offer for your house or travels is convenient and unique.

–Moma Design Store: Another favorite of mine, I can spend hours here.

– Sur La Table: Great store for foodies and chefs.

For Funky things:

–Plyones: Lots of variety for kids an adults. Fun store to visit.

For books:

–Mc. Nally: One of my favorite bookstores in USA. Even though is not big,  has a great variety of books and magazines and some documentaries and films too. They also offer the service of printing books, if the one you are looking for is not available.

After all this shopping you can head to lunch to Mercer Kitchen or Delicatessen. They both offer comfort delicious food.

Strolling around you can head to the Team Gallery, that keeps an outstanding exposition of a variety of contemporary artists.

Afterwards I suggest to go try to Marie Belle Chocolaterie, the place is beautifully decorated, the owner has only two in the world – the other one is in Kyoto. This is the perfect place to get presents for your friends and family back home. Not only the quality of the chocolate is superb but the packaging is beautiful.

IMG_2295

At night you can have dinner at the Dutch, by Andrew Carmellini– lately my favorite restaurant in Soho- the menu is very well presented, the little oysters sliders are my choice always. The mushroom soup and the duck are hard to miss. The pies are memorable.

If you are more in the mood for a bar I recommend Pegu Club, has a wide menu by an expert mixologist and the music is perfect for a relaxed evening.

IMG_3705

Run Away Party

I called this experience “ Run Away Party”, because all of us are haunted by a “little voice” that constantly reminds uso of the past, worries us about the future, judges, and terrorizes us. Life and its miracles goes by while we are distracted tending to that opinionated voice.

The proposal wasn’t to escape from life or it’s problems. It wasn’t an invitation to live irresponsibly, but to live in the present with mindfulness, to keep the eyes and the heart opened and curiosity alive.

With that attitude in mind, I wanted you to offer you an imaginary city in my backyard. One with a coffee shop, a flower cart, a bar, market, museum and  a park, so that you could stroll around at your own pace.

IMG_7485

And also rescue, a few dying habits like shopping for treasures at a flea market; writing a postcard and sending it using the Post Office; or visiting a shoe maker that by hand elaborates every single pair.

For me the most wonderful part of the experience was getting to spend time with all of the attendants. So many talented and inspiring people together wanting to make this country and the world a more positive place.

Thank you all so much for coming!

 

 

Slow Travel

Sounds extreme? Considering most of us have limited amount of time and budget for vacations, slow travel is as ilogical as throwing money down the toilet.

We have been programmed to think that those days should be squeezed to the last minute. Use them to cross out as many landmarks and tourist attractions as possible, sleep less – because is more expensive sleeping in a hotel. Eat fast. Go from one point to the next as efficiently as possible –hopefully soon there will be drones for that. We have all packed our energy drinks and drank lots of coffee to get our mission accomplished.

But it’s funny how, by the end of the trip many times I have forgotten were I’ve being. Don’t get me wrong, I have felt proud for months from looking at my “To Do and See Lists” filled with accomplishments. My bucket list shortened also makes me constantly repeat to my self: “Great job, great trip!”

Slow travel is not like that. Maybe it isn’t for everybody. Travel with out a list and a plan, could be terrifying for some. In fact I know a few people that would run for their life’s just hearing about it.

On the other hand, slow traveling offers some interesting ideas. It’s quality versus quantity. It’s allowing your self to get to know deeply a place and it’s culture. Trying the local food and restaurants. Talking to people. Visiting authentic non touristic spots and share activities with the locals. Slow Travel requires studying the place beforehand to be able to soak all it has to offer. Researching it’s history, geography and art. It means overcoming the mental barrier from going to see statues and landmarks, to getting to know people and their culture. Implies taking time to make friends, look around, enjoy every single bite, ask questions, walk a lot, get lost, immerse and get swept away by all of it.

Even though slow travel is an attitude, here are a few suggestions to take in consideration:

  • Walk around and ride a bike.
  • Stay longer.
  • Learn about local art, music, sports, politics, etc.
  • Make friends.
  • Participate in communitary activities, enroll in clases, etc.
  • Use alternative ways of accomodations like apartment rentals, vacation homes, etc.

 

In the end, deciding whether slow travel is or not for you, requieres choosing if you you want to be a traveler or remain being a tourist.