TRAVEL

ON LEAVE WITH LOJEL

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Lojel is an innovative travel company that was birthed in Japan in 1989. Inspired by the everyday traveler, Lojel aims to continue to partner with ethical manufacturers that are certified non-toxic. Now, you may have read my previous post about an ethical fashion brand called Everlane (if not, you should catch up!) and I am becoming more aware of how some retailers are making the effort to produce their products in a more eco-friendly and ethical environment. The cool thing that I loved about this brand once I discovered it, is that it was more than just a site that you go to purchase luggage….

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It’s more of like a destination for travel inspiration. I love that Lojel has also created a travel journal series called “Paid Leave” which is a curated collection of interests for travelers broken down into an archive of issue #’s. I'm always inspired by reading about places that I’ve never been, and of course places that I’ve never seen. In the 4th Issue, I read a story titled - Wanted: Genuine Connection. This topic really resonated with me because it talks about connecting with a place in a way that feels more genuine. The photos that you see here were taken in a town called Galveston Island which is about an hour drive from Houston. Galveston isn’t the most exciting town and anyone that lives in the area can tell you that. Sorry, not sorry. I took a full day to travel there anyway to shoot some other content that was planned with my friends. Let’s just say we made the absolute BEST of it! After posting to my IG Stories where we were and what we were up to, many people that live in the areas of my town were asking: “Where in Galveston is this?” In the Paid Leave Journal - Issue #4 I read: “To connect with a place, you have to make a choice.” I used to underestimate Galveston because the beach water is not pretty and blue, but we took advantage of our visions and created some amazing content while there. The moral of the story is - open your eyes and take a city for what it is, not what you want it to be.

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The style featured here is called the “Cubo.” Lojel makes two other designs called the “Voja,” and “Alto." So far, Cubo is my favorite design. It’s made of a pure polycarbonate shell, and undoubtedly lightweight for the size. I love the sleek and sophisticated look.

It features four double-sided 360 wheels for rolling through the airport (or wherever) with ease, and a built-in TSA compatible lock system. I have the large size which is for check-in only. When I tell you I love this luggage, believe me. The compartments are so handy, and it has a deep body which is perfect for my many times when I need to..or accidentally overpack. The Cubo currently comes in 7 colors, and the color featured here is Rose. I am obsessed! Can’t wait to pack it for my next getaway.

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Where to next?

 

BREAKFAST AT PABLO ESCOBAR'S MANSION

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On our last day in Tulum, we went to visit the infamous "Pablo Escobar Mansion" also known as Casa Malca - which is now a hotel. This place is literally a hidden gem. It's located pretty far down Tulum Beach and is very ducked off. So if you don't know about it beforehand, you probably won't hear much about it or see it. Pablo's mansion was abandoned after he died in '93. After being rediscovered in 2003, Lio Malca - a New York based contemporary art dealer bought the mansion and turned it into a luxury hotel then renamed - Casa Malca. Many places down Tulum Beach have signs with the names of the property but Casa Malca does not. Also, you can't just roll up in there and expect to be able to explore the property. You will get turned around. We learned this after our second attempt to get inside. We tried to visit the day before, but for some reason they were closed for the day. I was like nooooooo because of course I saw photos of the property before, and I had some ideas  in mind (because that's what I do all the time - lol.) Luckily, we got in the next day! The experience was so exclusive - before you can get inside, there will be a guard at the door to check if you are a guest. Since we were not staying at the hotel, we told him we had reservations for the restaurant and he opened the gates to let us inside. *sigh of relief*

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This area normally has a big rug and couch but they took it down for maintenance and cleaning. I was bummed. (again) Since I can be "extra" when I want something, I asked when they were going to put out the couch and rug (that you can see is missing) he couldn't tell me a timeframe so I took photos anyway then headed to the restaurant. Life goes on. I also loved how the curtains were made from old wedding dresses!

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Just as I thought - every part was so beautiful and the atmosphere was absolutely peaceful. We arrived pretty early (around 9:30am-ish) just in case there were other tourists. We were the only ones there except for the housekeepers and the person working the front desk. We walked around, checked out the mansion, then went to have breakfast at the restaurant "Philosophy" inside. There were only 3 other people having breakfast, then just Des and me after they left. I loved having the place to ourselves! That meant photo-op time of course.

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Boy I sure do love a breakfast with a view. We sat on this gorgeous couch that I wish I could've taken home with me. (well, as for all of the interior decors) Our seating was right next to this open space that overlooked the Tulum Beach where you could hear the waves and feel the warm breeze. The restaurant was very rustic-chic, yet modern. The service was great, and the music was relatable - haha. We ordered pancakes and coffee with some kind of mouth-watering-delicious bread that I want more of..now. I certainly want to go back to Casa Malca when I visit Tulum again. Maybe stay there for a night or two to get a chance to explore the entire property since some were off-limits to non guests of the hotel. This place should absolutely be on your to-see list when you visit Tulum. 

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Tassel Earrings: Beaded By W // Top: Virgodowntown // Skirt: Nasty Gal (old) // Bag: Ellen & James Rectangle Basket

SHOP THE LOOK:

 

MY STAY AT AZULIK: TULUM

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Ahhhh, Azulik Hotel Tulum. Let's see, do I even have the words to describe this place? It is literally a d r e a m. I have been wanting to visit Tulum for a while, and ever since we went to Cancun last year (for my my future brother & sister-in-law's wedding) I had Tulum on my next Mexico destination list. Tulum is a smaller town located on the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula - home of the most beautiful beaches, gorgeous natural cenotes, and of course the ancient Mayan Ruins. Tulum is approximately 90 minutes away from the Cancun International Airport which is the closest place to fly into. From there, you can arrange shuttle transportation with your hotel or rent a car and drive. 

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We arrived to Tulum in the late afternoon around 3:30pm - and once we get to the entrance of the Azulik Eco Resort & Maya Spa, there was a hostess outside waiting to check our names on the list to verify that we were guests of the hotel. Talk about an exclusive experience. We then headed to the lobby where we were greeted warmly with smiles, and a "healthy welcome shot" for purity, and peace of mind. Not an alcoholic shot, but the "healthy shots" are strictly healthy ingredients that support anti-inflammatory; apple, ginger, cinnamon, strength; ginger, turmeric, lemon, digestion & cholesterol; pineapple, grapes, ginger, healthy liver; garlic, cayenne pepper, apple, ginger, wheatgrass, as well as other options for particular pains. I thought it was so amazing once the lady told us what it was that we were drinking, and what it was for. Basically, it's like a cleanse before entering the hotel. We got all checked in, and took a tour of the place with our "Azulik Angel" while our luggage was being delivered to our room. We got a full run-down of where everything was, the services that were offered; such as the spa, free yoga classes, and where the on-site restaurants were located. 

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The lobby was nicely shaded, relaxing, and of course had some of the most delicious fruit infused water to enjoy if you needed to go down to use the wifi for a little bit. Did I mention that there's no wifi at all? The resort is completely eco-friendly. No electricity, no showers, and no wifi. (yes, I said that again) You're probably thinking; how the heck do you survive then?! Well, we went to relax and enjoy the experience so we just took it for what it was, and got in tune with nature. I had already done my research before choosing to stay at Azulik, so I think it's safe to say that we came prepared. 

 
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We got to our room and sure enough the sight is nothing short of amazing. Wooden floors, wooden ceiling, bamboo interiors, glass lanterns, and a bathtub made of gorgeous colorful tile. I think the bed was my favorite part because it was extremely roomy and quite comfortable...and dreamy. I loved the canopy attached because it prevented mosquitos from getting to us since we slept with the door open to listen to the waves crash against the shore in the early mornings. There are fans above the beds and that's probably the only type of air you will get besides the wind blowing from outside. It was pretty hot everywhere in Tulum and it seems like it couldn't be escaped. Nonetheless we enjoyed every bit of our Azulik experience and will be back.

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ROOM SERVICE PLEASE. Okay, this was the coolest room service process I've ever experienced. Reminding you I felt like we were Jane and Tarzan learning to survive and live in the jungle. To order room service, you write down what you'd like to order on a small piece of paper, you have to roll up that piece of paper and put it inside of this little ball (that has your room number on it) then drop your ball into a secret passage way outside your door. After your drop your ball you have to wait for the "DING" noise to know that they have received your special request for room service. It was so fun! I wish I could've just stayed in the room and ordered room service all day long. I ordered the casserole eggs with fruit & yogurt, and Des ordered the egg and cheese omelette. Man, oh so gooooood.

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Attempting to eat outside was almost a complete f a i l. Reason being is because we had a few unwanted guests show up on the balcony. Iguanas and raccoons. *stale face*  It was HILARIOUS because Des saw them first as he was eating outside while I got dressed. All of a sudden I hear "oh sh*t!* So I ran out there to see what he was yelling for and there it was - a huge iguana who had just come in peace because he smelled our yummy food. We just shoed him off and he crept back up again. And again. I wanted to get these photos for the blog (because my Sincerely Jules t-shirt was so perfect for the occasion) so they stayed around a little longer until after I got the shots I wanted. Eeeek! FYI: The mosquitoes are also a pain to deal with so I kept bug spray on me like I do my chapstick. 

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This balcony though...to me this was the best part about the particular room we stayed in. You get the best view of the ocean! There are swings everywhere, hammocks, and even a couch hanging from the ceiling if you'd like to take a nap outside or read a book. I mean, there's not much more to say than it was just absolutely beautiful. I think the first day we got there we didn't leave the room for the rest of the evening because we enjoyed the views and the room so much. Unwinding at its finest. Azulik does have it's own private beach (with clothing optional) so we'd also go down there to relax and have a drink or two. There's also a really good restaurant down at the beach bar too. Everything we needed in that moment was there. Just us, the ocean, and our views. 

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Would I recommend you to stay at Azulik? Absolutely! But I will be honest and say that it isn't for everyone. We were okay with getting in tune with nature and embracing the culture around us. It was one of the most amazing times. This trip is surely one for the books and we are going to stay here next time we visit Tulum! I tried to keep this post geared towards my stay at Azulik only without having an overflow of the other hundreds of Tulum photos I left with. I will also be doing a post on Casa Malca, and a Tulum travel diary as well. If you have any questions about my stay, this place, or Tulum overall please feel free to ask! Thanks so much for reading. xo

Until next time - Azulik..

 

SUMMER TRAVELS: NEW YORK PHOTO DIARY

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Gosh I just love New York. Almost everything about it gives me the best feelings I can't explain. Every time I have visited, I left so inspired. New York truly is a city like no other. When I have visited New York previously, it has been for something specific; like a few conferences that I went to (Create & Cultivate) and (How To Make It In Fashion NYC) and NYFW when I interned with Giulietta NY LLC. This time around, we actually got to explore the boroughs and visit all the places I've been wanting to see. I can also say that this was the BEST trip EVER! If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you know why. If not, keep scrolling find out :)

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When we arrived in New York, (about 9:30am) we stayed at the Arlo Nomad hotel located just North of Madison Square Park and a short walk to the Empire State Building. I found out about this gem while searching through the net when looking for rooms with specific details for ideas I had in mind to do a shoot for the blog. Ding, ding, ding! Arlo Nomad was the winner. I really wanted the full New York City vibe; views of the city and floor to ceiling windows. The Arlo Hotel also has another location: Arlo Soho. I personally liked the Arlo Nomad better when doing my research. Not to mention every corner of the place is 'Gram worthy! *praising hands emoji* Also, we'll just ignore the fact that the taxi cab below is advertising a gentlemen's club.

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There are ONLY two things I didn't like about the Arlo Nomad hotel. The rooms are literally about 150 square feet, and there's no room service. Room service normally isn't a big deal for me but I had it specifically in mind for this breakfast in bed shoot. Luckily, there are two restaurants located in the lobby of the hotel - Massoni, and Nomad Bodega. I went there to get a few bites just for the photos - and coffee of course. There's also a super chill rooftop patio bar which is where we hung out at night just before ending our day. If you go, ask for the "watermelon drink."

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Cafe Henrie is one of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants in my book. The owner - Andre Saraiva is a Rakish graffiti artist and international club owner who definitely takes pride in his work. "It's a cafe, but almost an art project." We came here for breakfast and I think I took photos of the interior and artwork the entire time. Des and I both had the breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs, tomato jam, herb salad, and added bacon. 

Man - where do I begin with Egg Shop? The food is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. Egg Shop has two locations in New York: Nolita - 151 Elizabeth St. and in Brooklyn (Williamsburg) - 138 N 8th St. This spot has a pretty chill atmosphere (and obviously very picturesque) with a little bit of everything to offer as far as on the menu. Fresh juices, refreshing breakfast cocktails, organic wines, breakfast bowls, and of course the amaaaazing egg sandwiches! I would go back and eat the same thing over and over if I could. It kind of reminds me on one of my favorite breakfast spots in LA: Eggslut *drools*  Sadly, I'm the type of person to stick with what I really like on a menu because I always feel like I have the worse luck when I finally decide to try something else; I end up hating it! In Des' words: I always take L's (lol) I doubt I would regret ANYTHING on Egg Shop's menu though. 

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A lil dessert won't hurt! I've been sooo anxious to try Milk (Momofuku) Bar. There are quite a few locations in New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Las Vegas. While strolling around SoHo, we ended up stumbling across the Milk Nolita location - of course we had to stop....maybe twice ha. I heard about Milk a while before Glossier collaborated with them for their new Balm Dot Com Birthday cake edition. Love that stuff btw! I bought two tubes because it's that good. The first time, I tried the birthday cake truffles (and oh my God) *takes a moment of silence.* We couldn't resist so we went back again. The second time around I got the Birthday Cake flavored ice cream with sprinkles, and Des fell in love with the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow cookies. He's a cookie monster. 

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Chillhouse is a brand new multipurpose space owned by Cyndi Ramirez. You can enjoy chill lattes, coffee, wine, beer, small bites, a massage, and even a nice manicure - all in one chill spot! Hence the name; you can feel free to just grab a drink and chill if you want. With the good vibes playing in the background, I took the opportunity to grab an iced coffee, cooled down, and chilled out for a bit since I easily walked miles and miles in New York and they weren't super busy at the time. Every inch of this place is also what I consider 'Gram worthy, so I snapped a few quick pics to show you guys how awesome Chillhouse really is. 

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Where do I begin? This man never ceases to amaze me. From what I thought, we would just be headed to a nice dinner at Mercer Kitchen on the last night of our trip.  (I'll try to keep this short)  While on the way, we took a little detour. I was questioning where we were going because I knew Mercer Kitchen was not in the direction that we were headed. He just continued to play it off as if it were no big deal and that we were just going a different route. I just went with it like - hmm, okay cool. We ended up at this building that served as a hotel/restaurant with this super fancy rooftop. Okay, at this point I felt weird because Des wasn't saying much but seemed so confident that he knew where he was going. We got to the rooftop, and there it was...THE most gorgeous site. Rose petals shaped into a heart where he led me to the middle. Popped the question just like that. I look to my right, and there's a photographer. I was like what! You hired a photographer to be here?! It was the happiest moment ever. I said yes, we toasted with Moet, took hundreds of photos (of course) then headed to Mercer Kitchen for dinner.

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I had the Rigatoni with meatballs, and it was the best pasta I've ever had in life! (seriously) We will be going back. The service was amazing, and the food/desserts were so delicious. The ambiance was very dark, yet welcoming and chill.  We are already thinking of when we'll be back to visit New York. I can confirm now that it has become one of my favorite cities for sure. Until next time, New York. You'll always hold a special place in my heart. xo

 

SUMMER TRAVELS: LOS ANGELES PHOTO DIARY

This city has definitely got to go on my list of favorites. There's no other place like it. To say that San Diego is the only other major city that I've been to (besides the smaller surrounding cities)  Los Angeles hands down wins my heart! It's just something about the feeling that I get when I'm there visiting. I just feel like I'm not worried about much at all and that I can do anything I want to do. Seriously trying to move here pretty soon!

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As many times that I've been to LA, I am so grateful to have been able to stay at least three times now. That's how much I enjoy The Line. The interior is industrial-chic with concrete walls and floor-to-ceiling windows, and cool-funky artwork. The rooms have amazing views if you're facing the Hollywood Hills. For a few bucks extra, I would recommend requesting that option for your stay. If not, you'll probably be facing the loud street, or a building that blocks everything. Who wants that? The whole point of experiencing the Line Hotel is for the views. Don't pass up that opportunity for what you're paying.  Located in the Wilshire | Normandie neighborhood,  just in the center of Koreatown, The Line is not very far from a few LA attractions worth checking out. Although there are many places you can walk to near by, you honestly don't have to go too far because there are three restaurants to grab a bite at in the hotel.

The Commissary - A greenhouse inspired outside restaurant/bar serving Korean food with a touch of American. Located near the pool, you can grab a drink and chill outdoor on the surrounding patios

The Pot - Located inside near the lobby of the check-in area, you can always grab Korean BBQ (try the BBQ wings) or just a drink at night, where there's a DJ almost every weekend. The Line is mainly accompanied by modern hipsters + a trendy crowd of people in town visiting, or from the local area to party and have a good time. Always a fun atmosphere.

The Cafe - If you're a morning person, you can catch the Cafe open at 6am seven days a week. I have yet to try it, but the pastries always look so good 

As I get more into creating lifestyle content, I will be sure to update travel + travel tips when I can. I hope y'all enjoyed the photo diary! More LA pics to come in later upcoming posts. Stay tuned! 

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*All photos were taken with my iPhone 7 plus - except for the photo credited to the Line Hotel's Commissary restaurant*