Monday, February 28, 2011

Haute State of the Art Airport Terminal Unveiled in Nassau

The who’s who in Nassau came out Friday and walked the red carpet to see the unveiling of the new terminal at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA). Prime Minster the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham made the reveal to a crowd of 1500 dignitaries and other guests, including Haute Travels!

This is the first phase of a $400 million dollar redevelopment project for the airport… the new state of the art facility is now the best in the Bahamas and Caribbean. The government is delighted by the “successful” conclusion of the first phase of the redevelopment of the LPIA, “a job undertaken and completed on time and within budget,” says The Prime Minister.

The night was amazing… the terminal came alive with music and fabulous people. The party moved up stairs to the gate area where we feasted on a variety of food including roast beef, chicken, shrimp, and a potato bar. A few hours later we moved back down stairs for a private concert by rock star Lenny Kravitz!


The new USA departure terminal is gorgeous! I can’t wait to return to the island and walk through the new terminal for the very second time.

Is the Bahamas on your list of haute destinations?

My Haute Sailing Adventure in the Bahamas

On Saturday, I spent my afternoon at sea on a luxury yacht in the Bahamas. It was so HAUTE! We sailed around Rose, Nassau and Paradise Islands. We even ventured over to the Atlantis where the super rich came in on what else—their private boats.

Our afternoon was full of fun, sun and a wonderful lunch of roast beef, salad, lobster tails and rice and beans. We even had an open bar to go with our cool conversation!

It was such a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon sailing through the Nassau harbor while Vaughn told us all about the new development that’s headed to the downtown area with new shops, restaurants and so much more. I can hardly wait… because I wonder who will sit alongside some of my favorite boutiques—Gucci, Fendi, David Yurman and John Bull on the famous Bay Street? Hmmm

There’s so much excitement in Nassau right now… and you’ll hear all about it on Haute Travels.

What do you want to know about Nassau, Bahamas?

The Bahamas is HAUTE

I love the beautiful island of Nassau for so many reasons. I was just in the Bahamas over the weekend and I got to spend time ocean side reflecting on a number of things. But more importantly, I got to enjoy warm tropical breezes, crystal clear turquoise water and stunning views of Nassau and Paradise Islands. I even got to meet some cool new friends… and convert a few to my Haute Travels following.

Whenever I travel to this pretty little island, I feel at home because the people are warm and beautiful. They’re so friendly; I feel a shared connectedness even though I’m not Bahamian. Over the last several years, I’ve been to Nassau many times, occassionally with my mother, but I always find something new to discover every time I return.

This time I found even more reasons to explore Nassau in a way that I’ve never done before as a writer and photographer. I’m already planning my return for fashion week in the fall. Look for upcoming features on the Bahamas as exclusive Haute Travels profiles because it's just that HAUTE!

Have you ever visited the Bahamas?

Oscar reflections

Well, the Oscars have come and gone, and with few surprises, the big one being that the Facebook movie was leading going in, expecting to take the top prizes with the exception of best actor. 

Going in, Social Network had won 10 awards out of 16 for best picture while King's Speech had 4 awards for Best Pic going in. But the Academy voters went to the underdog in a sense, awarding King's Speech Best Picture as well as writer and director and actor.

Social Network won writer, music and film editing. 

So why did everyone go for the King?

Well, this is my theory; 

David Fincher is a good director but has one characteristic that I felt was negative, his movies are very dark and without feeling. Not saying they're bad, but they are pretty cold and remorseless.

I liked Social Network but felt it was about greed and betrayal with no real caring for any of the characters who were calculating and greedy. The only element I found that balanced it was Sorkin's screenplay which began and ended with Zuckerberg alone after being rejected by two women.

It made me feel a little sorry for the character, after all money can't buy love.

But that was made up by Sorkin, who must have seen that otherwise nobody would care about anybody in the film. In fact, he did say at a screening I attended that he "borrowed" a lot of Citizen Kane. If you remember, Kane was an unlikeable character and the only thing that mattered at the end was  - "Rosebud", the sled he had in childhood.

And we all know what Rosebud really meant but it's not relative here.

Whereas, King's Speech was the classical struggle to overcome great odds and also being inspirational.

There you go - greed and betrayal vs overcoming great odds. I figured the younger Academy members would go for what some of their generation considers admirable in the way of values while the older members would go for the classic handicapped character overcoming obstacles.

Think My Left Food, Rainman, Beautiful Mind, Shine  and many others.

And basically, that's what happened. Sorkin won for best adapted screenplay and he deserved every bit, he is a great writer and one who values of the writing craft.  And David Seidler won for King's Speech.

Thirty-five years ago I had a brush with the Academy awards when my former partner, Phil Borsos and I made a short film called Cooperage, about a barrel factory. We came to Los Angeles with a 35mm print and got the Los Feliz theater in Silver Lake to screen it for a week.

That's what was necessary to qualify for the Academy Award nominations.

It's mostly a technicality; you really don't need an audience, you just have to have it screen at a legitimate movie theater in Los Angeles. How does that work with no audience?

Well, maybe a little audience. We got the projectionist to put up our short at the very end of the movie that was playing. So, as the audience were filing out, our short started. Some would turn around and watch the 15 minute film, while others left.

After each screening we would pick up the 35mm print and take it with us to the motel. We did this for one week and it qualified and was entered into the 1976 Academy Awards.

We made it as far as the final handful of shorts being considered and were in the finalists but never made it to the bigtime. Still, it was a lot of fun to even be considered, as they say.

That same year we won the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar, the Genie and won awards at Athens, Sydney, Chicago and New York. Also an award for Cinematography, for both myself and Tim Sale.

Phil made another short that was an Oscar finalist but sadly he passed away in 1995 at the age of 41.

And my chances at the Oscar are more remote than Charley Sheen's.

Ah, life...

(Thurs: Packaging Ghostkeeper)

Get Ready!

We've been keeping a big secret.

Tomorrow, March 1st, we want to share a new website with you that we've been laboring on for the past few months (yes, working while traveling!).

Please be sure to come back tomorrow for more information and a chance to win some free goodies right here on our blog. We are so excited to share!

Hint: it's travel-related

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lviv Bazaar

We heard Lviv had a bazaar but didn’t expect to find it on a snowy afternoon when the wise thing to do is hide away indoors near a fireplace. The snow didn’t even come close to stopping these people from selling their goods. The bazaar was composed of makeshift booths wrapped in tarp, though it wasn’t enough to shield from the weather. Many of the things for sale were lightly dusted with snow, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone.

It was such a treat to wander through the shops and see items that were so traditional and very “Ukrainian”. Matryoshkas, wool socks, sheepskins, and carved wooden items are things we’ve always had laying around at my parents’ house. The samovar looks identical to the one my parents brought with them to the States. Everything was so familiar and nostalgic—these people seemed to know my childhood and I felt like hugging them.

* Julia

We added a couple features to the blog. Now you can email us directly instead of going through an annoying contact form. Look for the "email" button at the top of the page. ALSO, you can now subscribe to the blog. Look for the "subscribe" button on the right sidebar. If you want to subscribe by email (as some of you requested), select "atom" and from the next page you'll have an option to "subscribe in mail".

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's In My Suitcase?

We have received many emails asking how in the world we packed for six months of traveling. It wasn’t easy. This was my first time traveling for such an extended period of time, so I can’t say I’m an expert, but I thought it would be fun to share my experience. And forewarning-- this post is intended for girls (from one girl to another). Boys just don't have these issues.

Before the wedding, the last thing I wanted to think about was packing a suitcase for six months abroad. It would have been wise to pack far before the wedding and alleviate some stress. Rather, I saved it for the night before we left (which was 3 days after the wedding). I dread packing for trips like I dread the day after Christmas. More, actually (and unpacking is not better). But this was no weekend trip. This was a half a year, several seasons, too many countries. I needed to pack for active days of hiking and biking, as well as for hot dates with my studly new husband in swanky city restaurants. I needed to pack for winter and I needed to pack for summer. And if I packed anything more than one medium suitcase, I wouldn’t hear the end of it from my minimalist, backpacker man.

I carefully considered what items I could sacrifice. I decided I could get by without a purse, without boots, and without a hair straightener. These were all bulky or heavy things that I could do without. I didn’t even think about leaving behind my laptop, iPhone, and a couple of books. Sure they were heavy, but I would give up some space to bring the things that would keep me sane.

Less Bulky//
I packed a little bit of everything—shirts, sweaters, shorts, pants, dresses, skirts. But I think the trick lies in packing less of some items and more of others. I only packed one light jacket because coats are so bulky, but I packed several light sweaters and cardigans because I could layer them under the jacket in cold weather and wear them alone over shirts and dresses in moderate weather. I packed only one pair of jeans and one pair of black pants because pants take up so much room in a suitcase, and honestly I could wear the same pair of jeans for a week with different tops and nobody would notice. I packed a lot of dresses because they’re so light and easy to pack a bunch without taking up much room at all. They also work in warm and cool weather if you have tights/leggings and a sweater to throw on top. Not to mention dresses are just fab.

I tried to pack items that could be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion. For example, a good thing to have is a top that will go well with a skirt and jewelry to go out on a date, but can also be worn with shorts and flipflops to the beach. I avoided taking anything that could only be casual (think a sporty Nike top) or that could only be dressy (think sequined, silky top). I took quite a few pairs of shoes, but made sure each pair could be worn with jeans and a dress (excluding my sneakers, which I wouldn't wear with a dress).

Don’t pack things that don’t match with a lot of pieces in your wardrobe. Yes, that means leaving your abstract 80s shirt and fuchsia heels at home. I packed a lot of neutral colors like black, brown, tan, and white for versatility. This will help you create the greatest amount of different outfits with your limited wardrobe for an extended time. Neutral shoes, neutral tops, neutral belts, neutral accessories. 

Accessories—don’t feel like you have to leave them at home because they’re extra baggage. They really help you jazz up an outfit that you feel like you’ve worn a dozen times too many in the last month. Just pack the thin chain necklace, not the chunky beads bigger than gumballs.

Extra Bags//
In addition to our suitcases, we each brought a messenger bag for our laptops. We also packed a small backpack so we could take it on day trips. Here I am going on about how I packed, but actually, Yuriy was the one with the small suitcase and I was the one with the medium suitcase. His packing job was incredibly impressive! However, we picked up some extra things once we got to Southeast Asia because we couldn't resist the cheap prices, so Yuriy had to upgrade to a bigger suitcase (same size as mine). We also added one more backpack because our suitcases were too heavy for flying (darn 20kg limit for checked bags). Now we each have one suitcase, one messenger bag, and one backpack. Not an easy load when there's a lot of walking involved (but it could have been worse). 
This is what our luggage currently looks like with our upgrades.

What's In My Suitcase* : 

7 shirts (6 short-sleeve, 1 long-sleeve)
6 tanks
3 white camisoles
1 jumpsuit
6 dresses
2 skirts
4 shorts
2 pants (1 jeans, 1 black)
5 sweaters/cardigans
1 jacket
3 nightgowns
2 jammies
1 light cotton robe
1 towel
2 swimsuits (bikini, one-piece)
8 panties
4 bras (white, nude, black, strapless)
3 socks
3 belts (1 for pants, 2 for waist)
1 scarf
1 pair of tights
1 pair of leggings
6 pairs of shoes (2 sandals,1 flipflops, 1 oxfords, 1 Toms, 1 sneakers)
1 curling iron
1 bag chock full of toiletries
1 accessory box (jewelry, headbands, etc)
1 mini leather backpack

* As already mentioned, I did some shopping in Thailand and added quite a bit to the list above to take home.

What’s In My Messenger Bag:

eye mask/ear plugs
cross-stitching supplies (hoop, thread, needles, scissors)
a growing postcard collection
random maps, tickets, and such

[Items in photo below were not included in my list.]
I mentioned before that I didn't bring a purse, but I did bring a mini leather backpack instead. Best decision I ever made. It was the perfect size for a small camera, phone, money, notepad, and pen when going out daily. It's small and flat so I can easily slip it into my suitcase, unlike a purse which doesn't really flatten. A backpack is also much more comfortable to wear for a long day of walking rather than carrying a purse, not to mention my hands are always full with a camera. This little backpack was a $6 thrift store find!
Must always beware when your husband is a photographer. 

Mistakes I made/things I learned:

-- We weren’t expecting to run into real winter weather, but when we decided to detour to Vienna, Budapest, and Ukraine in December, we were very much unprepared for snow. We had no choice but to go shopping for boots, hats, scarves, gloves, and winter socks. But I would rather do this than carry all that winter gear around “just in case” and then the weather never gets cold.

-- I packed one dress that I always felt was too fancy (and no shoes dressy enough to go with it) so I never even wore it! Pointless baggage.

-- I brought a hairdryer but found that it didn’t work anywhere because it was too much voltage to go through a foreign adapter. Instead of carrying the brick around for six months, I chucked it (it was really old anyway). I relied on hotel hairdryers or air-drying my hair (most commonly). Next time I won’t bother bringing one. If your hotel room doesn't have a hairdryer, ask at the counter--they sometimes have one to borrow.

-- Don’t pack your favorite earrings because you’ll probably lose one by the end of the trip with all that packing and repacking. I did.

-- Even if you pack the biggest bottle of your favorite makeup/lotion/shampoo, it will run out and you will have to accept an alternative until you get home

-- Don’t bring anything that wrinkles really easily. I brought one sweater that I rarely wore because every time I took it out of the suitcase, it looked like it had been chewed up and spit out.

-- Bring lots of underwear! I ended up washing mine by hand several times when laundry wasn’t available. 

-- Bring a watch. I never wear a watch back home because I always have a cell phone on me for the time. When traveling though, I am usually without my cell phone, and so often need the time for buses, trains, and closing times. I was so thankful Yuriy always wears a watch.

-- Toms are magical travel shoes. Super comfy for walking and they go with everything (dresses & pants)!

-- Try to pack some waterproof shoes. Everything I had sucked for rain (especially Toms). 

-- Having a roll of toilet paper is not a bad idea, especially in Asia.

As soon as we got to Vienna and saw all the snow, I went frantically hunting for boots. Yuriy tried to tough it out, but gave in as well a few days later. SO glad we did because they came in even more handy in Ukraine where we often trudged through unshoveled snow (though they're now buried at the bottom of our suitcases).
I still can't believe we pulled it off in such different seasons with just one suitcase each!

I hope something in this post helped you in some way... or just satisfied your crazy curiosity. Are any of you going on an extended trip in the near future? Did I leave anything out?

* Julia