Europe by Train

Europe by Train

Europe by Train From Oxford to Las Ramblas By Calum Hill My friend Matt and I  recently graduated from university in Southampton and parted our separate ways. I studied journalism and Matt studied film and television. Three months later, I was working in a brassiere in Oxford. It was closing down for refurbishment during January, so I decided I wanted to spend the month travelling. Matt was working in Notting Hill Theatre in London and January was a quiet month as there weren’t many shows on.  I contacted him to discuss a possible week away. During our internet scour we stumbled across interrailing and discovered it was rather cheap for a month long ticket during January. Our inspiration was to see a vast array of European countries. We were still young and wanted to see as much of the world as we could. Visiting six countries in one month wasn’t bad . As neither of us drives we spend a lot of time on trains, so it was second nature as a form of travel, making the navigation much easier. The idea of sleeping on night trains also meant we’d have more time to travel and spend less money on rooms. The Dream Becomes Reality… “You come to France and you don’t speak French?”, said the taxi driver. “We’re travelling around Europe, we can’t learn every language”, I replied humorously. “Oh mon dieu, je nele croire, bonne chance.” I was unsure what the taxi driver had said so I remained quiet for the proceeding journey. It’s an oddity conveniently favouring the English, most countries speak English and most Europeans...
Escape to St. Lucia

Escape to St. Lucia

Escape to St. Lucia The Land of the Light By Sophie Ball They call St Lucia ‘Land of the Light’, although there was little trace of that light when we landed at Hewanorra airport. Instead, we were met with grey skies and a languid, muggy, heat that threatened to betray the superlatives usually attached to the island. The next day the clouds gave way to rain, but not UK rain - the kind of endless drizzle that dampens your soul. This was tropical rain: abandoned, prodigious, and exhilarating in its intensity. This was the kind of rain that allows an island, which rarely sees temperatures below 25c, to boast of some of the most verdant vegetation in the world. The next day the sun pushed through the clouds, and for my British, city-dwelling self, it was like waking up to the world in HD. Plants were greener, the sand was whiter,  and voices were louder. There is a kind of steamy, sensual promise to St Lucia, it has an unbridled fertility that is apparent in everything, from the variety of the vegetation: 60 different types of mango grow here, to the dancing at Jump Up - a weekly street party held at Gros Islet. They say desperation breeds discontent and on an island where “anything grows” and you have “poverty but not starvation”, there is no trace of that desperation. In its place are a curiosity and inherent optimism that breathes credence into that very Caribbean idiom tings b’riite. It’s an interesting and revealing attitude when you take into account the history of St Lucia. In 1778, the British...
Soledad O’Brien Dispatches

Soledad O’Brien Dispatches

Soledad O’Brien Dispatches A Reporter’s Life On the Run Interview by Lauri Lyons TV journalist Soledad O’Brien has tirelessly crisscrossed the globe to report breaking news and produce social documentaries for CNN, Al Jazeera, and HBO. We were lucky enough to catch up with Soledad en route to the airport for her annual Starfish Foundation Gala, through which she works to assist young women scholars get to and through college. Here is the veteran reporter’s take on how she lives life on the run. For your big stories that you’ve covered (Hurricane Katrina, Thailand tsunami, Haiti earthquake) what are the logistics and preparation time for getting you in the field and on camera? Soledad O’Brien:  I’m sitting in traffic on my way to Newark airport. So, I’m living your website. The logistics are usually pretty crazy, but I work at CNN, and they are pretty amazing at that. They are just masters of the logistics.  They would have a whole apartment, and then their goal is just to get you physically there. Then I travel with stacks of books and printouts, and any information I can find. While I’m on the flight, I’m reading. We’ll often travel without knowing very much. For example, I know there’s an earthquake in Haiti,  but what’s the history of Haiti? How did Haiti become a country? What are some of the big stories and issues in Haiti?  You spend the entire flight reading until you really understand all the different contexts of the story, while somebody else is trying to figure out how to get you in. Then you get in there, and,...
The Sultans of Style

The Sultans of Style

The Sultans of Style Taking Fashion to the Streets Interview by Lauri Lyons Once again, the intrepid fashion photographer John-Paul Pietrus has been making rounds on the international style circuit. He recently made a pit stop in the Ottoman Empire to shoot a Young Turk fashion story in Istanbul. Did you ever have a desire or fantasy about going to Istanbul? John-Paul Pietrus:  I always had a desire to visit Istanbul as it is this fantastic place historically, the merging between East and West, so it has this allure related to Orientalist fantasies and folklore, which I wanted to experience even in modern day terms. Was this your first time visiting Istanbul? This shoot was my fifth visit. I really love Istanbul. What was the inspiration for your story? The concept was about an opulent Orientalist fantasy and the meeting of East and West. Who was on your team? The styling was done by Lucia Liu and Fatos Hanlim. The model was Tian Yi. The hair was  done by Bon Chou and the makeup was done by Adam de Cruz. The stylists and model flew in from Beijing and the makeup artist and I flew in from London. I hired a Turkish production team and a local photographer, Pinar Lauridsen, to shoot the behind the scenes video. Pinar was already a good friend of mine from my previous visits to Istanbul, so it was wonderful to work and hang out with her. Where is the model from and why did you choose her for the story? I hired Tian Yi because she has a very delicate beauty with a...
Jimi Hendrix’s Essaouira

Jimi Hendrix’s Essaouira

Jimi Hendrix’s Essaouira Castles In The Sand By Mackenzie Lowry Jimi Hendrix, arguably one of the greatest guitarists of all time, wrote a song called Castles Made of Sand, in 1967. In the song, all the castles were dragged out to sea, as their time was fleeting. The song’s metaphoric lyrics implied - enjoy the good life while you can. Hendrix’s inspiration for this song came from a visit to Essaouira, a white-stoned coastal city in Morocco, with unforgettable beaches and crystal seas. Supposedly, the song struck him while he was strolling past the half buried fort, Bordj El Berod, near the mouth of the Oued Ksob. The ruined structure still rises from the rippled sand, slowly being worn away by time and salted air. An English couple, Emma and Graham, have had their own inspiring experiences in Essaouira and now want to share the inspiration with passing travelers. After purchasing two gorgeous 18th century traditional Moroccan homes, the pair decided to redecorate and begin renting under the company name Castles in the Sand. Imagine walking under the warmth of the sun to explore the food market, or talk to locals in the main square of the exciting Moorish city.  Walk in the opposite direction to feel the sand in your toes, and the waves lapping at your heels. At the two properties, named Dar Beida and Dar Emma, all of this is possible. What makes these traditional North African homes so interesting is their interior decor. Emma and Graham went flea market crazy when picking out decorations to display alongside the sandstone columns and wooden ceilings. Rather than...
Art Basel Hong Kong

Art Basel Hong Kong

Tour Asia’s Hot Art Market Art Basel Hong Kong By Ingrid Chen Art enthusiasts in Hong Kong had to wait until 2008 to quench their creative thirst. ART Hong Kong debuted that year and quickly rose to become the largest and arguably, the most important art event in Asia. Previously, many considered Hong Kong to be only a financial center, and a ‘cultural desert’. Within a few years after launching the art fair, Hong Kong was recognized as the art hub of Asia. In 2011, the art fair was acquired and rebranded as Art Basel Hong Kong (ART HK). Today, ART HK is the crown jewel of Asia’s art fairs and will take place March 24 – 26th. The 2016 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, now in its fourth year, brings in 239 galleries. Half of the galleries are from the Asia Pacific region. Each year, after the New York Armory Show, the art world turns its eyes to Hong Kong in March. The Art Basel brand combined with the potential of the Asia market, pulls in top galleries from around the world. Each gallery brings their best, or most sellable artists, to attract collectors in the region. Many galleries use the fair to test the water, before setting up their branches in Hong Kong. But what makes Hong Kong the ideal location for such a fair? Some dealers praise the efficiency and convenience of Hong Kong’s infrastructure, logistics, and international connectivity. Fluency in English is another advantage. Hong Kong also boasts being the third largest art market by auction sales. International auction houses such as Sotheby’s, recently...
Norway’s Zen Retreat

Norway’s Zen Retreat

Norway’s Zen Retreat Juvet Landscape Hotel By Mackenzie Lowry     Imagine being able to finally reach a zen state – a total connection of body, mind, and feeling one with the Earth. It’s hard to find zen on an average day, bustling through city streets. Yet, when one retreats to the Burtigarden Farm in Valldal, Norway to check into the Juvet Landscape Hotel, zen is almost an instant gratification.     The architecture of the hotel is modern and sublime, while simultaneously appearing as a small detail in this grand natural vista. Seven individual “landscape rooms” have one or two walls, that are entirely made of glass.     Each of these walls has its own peaceful view of the landscape, creating the feeling of literally being outside.     The dark interiors may at first seem off‐putting, but they are purposely designed that way as to not draw away from the scenery. Minimalist Norwegian log houses or “Bird nesting houses,” are also an option for guests, who want a lighter interior and a more classic woodsy experience.     The cabins also contain window frames designed by Norwegian artist Knut Wold. The Juvet facilities also include a spa area with hot tubs and fireplaces.     For the wild at heart, Juvet offers a bounty of all year around activities. You can ski in the Spring sunshine, April ‐ June, while wearing shorts and a T‐shirt. Summer is the high season for rafting, climbing, fjord fishing, kayaking and canyoning. In the Fall, you can hit the bike trail for high risk mountain biking.     Guests leave their...
Piano Around The World

Piano Around The World

Piano Around The World Dotan Negrin’s Grand Tour Interview by Mackenzie Lowry         During a visit to any big city in the world, you’ll find yourself being welcomed by street performers. There are acrobats that will pull you out of a crowd, and men with patched up pants tapping away on homemade drum sets. Once, I’ve even encountered a man with a small typewriter, typing poetry for whoever was willing to pass on a few bucks, in exchange for his melodic words. However, it’s a rare occasion that you’ll find yourself walking down gum-stuck streets to the sound of a piano. On an occasion like this, I searched for the source of the music and found myself face to face with Dotan Negrin, while he was making magic with his fingertips and the ivory keys. I did not realize I was part of the reason Dotan was out there, playing his music. It’s the people he meets on the road, who keep him going and inspire him every day. In 2010, after exploring seventeen jobs including acting, truck driving, being a DJ, and trading stocks, Dotan quit his job to play Piano Around the World. It is an idea and lifestyle that combines his love for music, travel, and meeting people. His new lifestyle required physically moving and playing the piano all over the world, for a living.  From Long Island sunsets to the streets of Paris, and the rainforests of South America, Dotan Negrin has raised people’s spirits while sharing the message, “Follow your dreams”.       Mackenzie Lowry:  Where did you grow up? Dotan Negrin:  I grew up in New York City and Jericho, Long Island.   What’s your history with playing the piano? I started playing piano when I was 19 years old, in college. I got into it randomly. My roommates were musicians and they kept playing a lot of jazz music. I fell in love with jazz because I love the way it is able to create emotion without any words. I wanted to be able to recreate that. I started tinkering with the piano here and there and trying...
Utah’s Desert Oasis

Utah’s Desert Oasis

Utah’s Desert Oasis Amangiri Resorts by Mackenzie Lowry  Imagine you’re wandering through the hot summer desert, exhausted from the heat, when suddenly an oasis appears in the distance. You know it must be your imagination, but yet, you keep moving towards it – you can’t help yourself. Once you approach you see there are beautiful lit stone buildings, a spa, and even other people! This is the feeling you get upon approaching the Amangiri, a high­-end resort in the unexpected location of Canyon Point, Utah.  Made of stone, Amangiri blends right in with the desert, becoming part of nature’s bare beauty. The resort is architecturally fabulous, while the defining simplicity creates the serene beauty. Open air lounges host unmatchable views of the ‘Great Staircase’, or ‘Escalante National Monumento.’ Inside, Amangiri has a comfortable library and a worldly wine cellar. The dining room has an open kitchen with a wood­fired oven and glass doors leading out to the terrace. Tastebud popping food is perfectly paired with the peaceful mountain landscape. Although many may prefer to sit by the pool or spend the day at the spa, Amangiri also offers a wide variety of ways to step out and learn the lay of the land. Hiking trails keep guests within close proximity to the resort. Access to national parks is also easy from this location. For a stroke into the water, boating trips or fly-fishing on the Colorado River, is an event you don’t want to miss. For those who don’t want too much activity shaking up their peace of mind, hot air balloon rides offer the best bird’s-­eye view of the desert’s true beauty. Amangiri’s lofty location makes guests truly feel like they’ve reached paradise in the middle of nowhere. It’s the perfect place...
Road Tripping the Rockies

Road Tripping the Rockies

Road Tripping the Rockies Alberta, Canada By Lee Litumbe     Navigating social media can sometimes feel like navigating a labyrinth of facades where nothing is ever as it seems. Some people use it to escape into the lives of others, wishing they too could live the “fabulous” lives being projected; while others use it as a tool to connect and expose themselves to new people, places, opportunities, and experiences (I’d strongly suggest against the former ­it’s masochistic and the quickest way to feel inferior about your own life).   Case in point, last summer whilst casually pinning away on Pinterest wishing I could be exploring a foreign city instead of moping around feeling sorry for myself in my bedroom (relationship woes thank God that’s over!), I came across the most stunning photo​ of Lake Louise. There wasn’t anything particularly exciting about the photo either – no exotic wildlife, no major cultural difference from my own, no adrenaline inducing activities. Just two small red canoes floating on the clearest blue lake at the base of some insanely impressive mountains. Much to my own surprise, that was enough to spark my interest. Who knew I’d ever want to take a trip with the sole purpose of being out in nature? Certainly not me.     I’d originally intended to venture to Lake Louise solo, but I decided to reach out to my childhood friend Brenda​ (who lives in Edmonton), hoping we could reconnect and make it a bonding experience. To be completely honest though, the introvert in me was weary. Would we still get along? Would we have anything to...

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