This was one of those less than perfect travel days; the landscape was in that weird space between fall and winter and the rain made it near impossible to get a good shot, but I have saved up for seven months; cashed in my vacation for the year and it was my last day in France - Rain be damned.Read More
Just in case you did not pick up on it from my social media posts and multiple 'see you later" events last week - let me let you in on the secret - Portland | Grace (aka me and my laptop) is off on the adventure of a lifetime (Nah !). We are off to work overseas, but we will attempt to squeeze in as much adventure as we can while in London.
I have started and stopped this post several times. Each time I sit to write this, I am reminded of one more friend; aunt; cousin I am yet to inform or my mind wonders to the exhausting to-do list surrounding a move (FYI: my brain and body is so tired - it took about five minutes to accurately remember how to spell "exhausting"). The first time I sat to write this post - the weight of what we were about to undertake hit me like a ton of bricks and I had crippling panic attacks. I set the computer aside and buried myself in other things (read:work work work ).
Second attempt - 5:02 a.m. on a Saturday. Not sure why I am awake this time of day. Lord knows I need all the rest I can get. I am too exhausted to check off anything on the to-do list and too wired to go back to sleep (another symptom of the panic attack - Jesus take the wheel). It has been two months since a post graced this space and now seems like the best time to get you caught up on what we (the laptop and I) have been up to lately. Let's start in May.
May was wedding overload; Closed out May with a birthday celebration planned by my friend "G". June was a whirl wind of travel. Spent some time on the East Coast. That was when this whole moving thing was birthed (getting to that soon). Then it was off to Hawaii it was work related, but thankfully I was able to tack on some personal days to explore and lay on the beach. Yes ! travel guides and pictures will be arriving soon. Mid-July to date has been a blur of interviews; paperwork; work; work; work and packing.
The third attempt at this post picks up almost a month since attempt two. I am sat in my temporary apartment in Camden and after a morning spent wrapping up some work matters for Dallas and trading emails with my new team; now seems like the perfect time to wind down this post. Since attempt number two - I have managed to stuff the last sixteen years of my life stateside into ten duffel bags and two carry on. My brother got married (it was an amazing day - see pictures here); I have had five panic attacks, but I am finally embracing the reality that there is no going back now. This is the choice we made and now we got to live it out.
The hardest part of the decision to move - leaving the community we formed stateside. Walking away from friends that had become family; random coffee chats about life and faith ; building community (and serving community). Random dinner plans ending at Japanese grocery stores and karaoke. This was a tough decision and whenever we cross your mind - call us (nah we don't do call so, text us) and say a prayer - we are leaving comfort and familiar for a lot of unknown. There are some parts we are excited about, but lots that is terrifying. For this blog, it will continue and hopefully be better than ever. The print shop will wind down for a few months while I assess how to run it from across the pond. Definitely follow me on instagram for any the highs and lows.
Cheers to new beginnings....
SHOP THE FRENCH RIVIERA COLLECTION HERE.
Let the hallelujah bells ring - we finally have a new collection in the Portland | Grace shop. If you follow my insta-stories you might have heard about why there have been delays and the scrapped collections and the surprise collections that was due to be released on June 19th. Well ! That surprise colelction did not pass my OCD side and just before I pulled the plug on another collection - enter my trip to the French Riviera in Fall of 2015.
My time in the French Riviera is possibly my most memorable trip to date and if there is one spot on your travel bucketlist - let me recommend the French Riviera. This collection was shot in multiple cities - from Antibes to Monaco. This collection has a lot going for it. At top of the list, the fact that it was not intended to be part of the shop. I think that fact made the shoot free and imperfectly perfect - I hope that comes through with these prints. A lot of work and late nights hunched over my computer has got into the final prints; With over 1000 pictures taken during my time in the Riviera - it was a tall order to narrow down what made the cut. Eventually, I decided on the ones that captured the essence of this part of the world; the shots that transported me back to the riviera; the ones that reminded me of the sounds and smell of this part of world and the ones that make me want to pack up and head back. I hope all of that comes through here.
Naming the prints was another tall order. This is my favorite part of releasing a new collection and I tend to have a list of names before I do the shoot, but since this was not the intended shoot - I had nothing prepped so I called in some help and over late night phone calls we named these print. I am so thankful I called for help because what we came up with - swoon.
Similar to other collections - these come in a variety of sizes 8 X 10 to 16 X 20 and available to purchase now. To celebrate this release, we are offering 20% off all orders from the collection with the code 'french riviera" now through the end of the month.
SHOP THE FRENCH RIVIERA COLLECTION HERE.
I thought it was time to switch things up in this corner of the internet. There is so much travel talk in this space, you might think that was the only thing going one in my life. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel and I love chatting about it. However, there are other things I enjoy and will like to share. I think this new series "Top 10" might be just where I share all those non-travel things I enjoy. Kicking the series off with Ted Talks.
I love a good Ted Talk and I have listened to a lot in my day. There are a select few I keep going back to. Some made me cry; others made me laugh and most left me wanting to get up and do. They are funny, thought-provoking; a good kick in the rare to motivate you to go, to do, to give. If you are into Ted Talks, I will love to read in the comments section your favorite Ted Talks. If you are not into Ted Talks, hopefully, these are a great introduction.
Monica Lewinsky's - The Price of Shame. "Public shaming as blood sport has to stop." This talk address the online culture of humiliation and how it has become a norm we need to push against. Every time I scroll through the comments section of a social media post I am reminded of this talk and wish I could personally recommend it to those who are less than kind online.
Shonda Rhimes - My year of saying "Yes" to everything. When I am hard at work, when I am deep in it, there is no other feeling. Shonda shares her year-long experience of saying "yes" to everything and how that impacted her life and her relationships. I relate to this on so many levels. Some of the best experiences of my life have come for that simple three letter word "Yes". I have listened to this one at least fifteen times.
Shah Rukh Khan - Thoughts on humanity, fame, and love. I sell dreams, and I peddle love to millions of people." have to admit I clicked on this one more for the speaker and less about the topic. Some of my favorite Indian movies star Mr. Khan. This talk is funny and thought-provoking as Mr. Khan shares stories from his life and career and some of the wisdom from a life in the spotlight.
Casey Gerald - The Gospel of Doubt. If I had to rank Ted Talks - this will be in the hall of fame of Ted Talk. The speaker shares his views on what happens when our firmly held beliefs turn out not to be true. This journey of doubt started out in a Church in East Texas and if you are patient to listen to the talk and not focus on the religious/faith analogies - it presents some thought provoking points and encourages Us to embrace the fact we don't know it all and as such maybe we should not plant ourselves firmly to an ideology or belief. Whatever that strongly held belief may be.
Cameron Russell - Looks aren't everything, Trust me I am a model. "Image is powerful, but also, image is superficial." This talk focuses on some of the nonglamorous side fo the modeling industry. The minority gap; limited control most models have over their final editorial amongst others. This is a fun but impactful listen.
Jennifer Brea - What happens when you have a disease doctors can't diagnose. "Despite everything, I still have hope." Jennifer talks about a disease that doctors could not diagnose and the weight of that unknown. is one that struck a personal cord with me. Not long ago - I was that person sat across yet another specialist (knowing something was wrong with me), but doctors could not find anything wrong. Listening to her talk brought back those feelings of hopelessness but it also provided hope for those who might find themselves in a similar place.
Anthony Romero - This what democracy looks like. "Everyone shall go freely without fear." This talk by the Executive Director of the ACLU is must listen if recent world events have got you asking questions or riled up. He discusses the need for us to speak up and stand up for fundamental value even when those values are to persons we don't necessarily agree with. This statement got me thinking (a lot) "Wait, these rights are for everybody, even the president that we don't like."
BJ Miller - What really matters at the end of life. "Parts of me died early on, and that's something we can all say one way or another. I got to redesign my life around this fact, and I tell you it has been a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left, like that snowball lasting for a perfect moment, all the while melting away." I don't think I can give a synopsis better than this excerpt from the talk. Great listen.
Guy Winch - Why we all need emotional first aid. "I began to notice favoritism of a different kind; and that is, how much more we value the body than we do the mind." This was was particularly poignant for me - coming from a culture that tends to dismiss flippantly dismiss counseling. He talks about how we sustain more psychological injuries more than physical ones and we don't take the time to address those injuries and heal from them.
Bryan Stevenson - We need to talk about an injustice. "Mercy is not mercy is it is given to the deserving". I shed a lot of tears listening to this talk. Bryan navigates the American justice system based on his personal and professional experience whilst focusing on the seeming injustice that shrouds the system. His book "Just Mercy" expands on the Ted Talk and is on my reading list.
Anytime I get the opportunity to fly Emirates airline - I always take advantage of a layover in Dubai. It is one of my favorite cities in the world and I can never pass up the opportunity to explore. Here are some tips and my itinerary from my last layover.
WHERE TO STAY. I have always loved the Old Deira area, it is cheaper and in close proximity to my favorite things in Dubai. I stayed at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel - very affordable, helpful staff and great amenities. It is about 25 minutes from the airport, opposite the Dubai Museum and a short 15-minute ride to the souks. If you want to splurge - there is an abundance of options I recommend this, this , this and this.
GETTING AROUND. Taxis are the best way to get around, the rates are fair and they run 24/7.
BEST TIME TO VISIT. Generally, any time of year as the city has an average temp of 75 F in nonsummer months. The summer month tends to be incredibly hot averaging 101 F between from June to late September so make sure to hydrate always. The heat makes visibility an issue - things get very foggy.
WHERE TO EAT. These are some of my favorite spots in the city and note if all else fails the food court and the Dubai mall has more than sixty food options. Brew cafe; Tub of Butter and Depresso coffee for your caffeine fix. Home bakery or Paper fig dessert to satisfy the sweet tooth. Meal time favorites - Aubain; Friend's avenue; Culinary Boutique; Muchachas Mexican and arrows sparrow. Head anywhere on the pier for grown up drinks.
DAY 1 - ARRIVAL, DUBAI MUSEUM, DUBAI FOUNTAIN AND AT THE TOP.
Arrived on the mid-morning flight from Lagos, customs, baggage, currency exchange took about 45 minutes. I took a cab from just outside my terminal to the hotel. As expected the room was not ready, but I was able to use the Hotel lounge waiting room to freshen up and grab a shower. I spent the next hour catching up on emails and editing pictures.
10:30 A.M. Afternoon Tea at Aldan Lounge. The hotel is several restaurants and cafes on-site, so I did not need to venture out for nourishment. I ordered tea and cakes from one of the cafes before heading out to explore the city.
11:15 A.M. Dubai Museum. Having refueled with tea (and cakes) it was time to explore, starting with the Dubai museum located across the street from the hotel. This is a great place to take in the culture and history of Dubai. I recommend this to anyone heading to these parts. The exhibition gives a great insight to the way and culture of the city.
1:30 P.M. - My room is finally ready, time to check in, get some shut eye and much-needed rest and relaxation.
5:30 P.M. - Time to head out for more sightseeing and dinner.
6:00 P.M. - Dubai fountains show at Dubai Mall. This free shows start at 6 p.m. and runs at 30 min interval until midnight. It is a spectacular show, I watched it twice.
6:40 P.M. - Very quick dinner at the food court at Dubai mall. This is not your average food court, there are over sixty food offerings. I ate at Paul's Bakery.
7:40 P.M - Head over to the "At the top" entrance located in the mall. "At the top" is the ride to the top of the world's tallest building - Burj Khalifa. The views of the city are spectacular. If you are visiting in the summer months, avoid the day tour because of fog from the heat, visibility is very low. Read more about Burj Khalifa at the top tour here.
10:00 P.M - Caught another show at the Dubai fountain and walked around the Waterfront promenade before calling it a night.
DAY 2 - THE SOUKS, DUBAI AQUARIUM, THE ATLANTIS AND THE BIG RED BUS TOUR
I was still jet-lagged from my trip the previous day so I slept in and did not start the day until 10:30. No time for a proper breakfast, I picked up muffin and tea to go from the cafe in the lobby and hurried to get on the Big Bus tour bus which has a stop in front of the Dubai Mall. You can purchase tickets on the bus or from the concierge at the hotel.
11:10 A.M. Arrived at the gold souk. This was a very quick stop for me. I have been here before and I stopped by to pick up a clasp for a necklace I got on my last visit. I recommend spending some time here - even if you don't purchase any jewelry - it is a great place to window shop and people watch. One to two hours is sufficient to explore.
12:05 P.M. Spice and Textile Souk. I spent most of my time in the spice souk. So many spices and very cheap. I purchase some rose flowers, hibiscus flowers, and Mediterranean spices before heading over to the Textile Souk for a bit of window shopping.
1:00 P.M. Back on the bus tour, there was a few place I would have loved to explore but I was running behind on my itinerary, so I cut out a few things. Specifically, with more time, I will have loved to stop by the Miracle gardens and the Pier (maybe next time).
1:45 PM. Arrived at Wafi Mall. I wanted to see this mall because of the architecture. The mall also called "the city" is styled after Ancient Egypt. I did not make my way inside the wall, just walked around it to admire the architecture which was impressive.
2:05 P.M. Back on the bus tour and off to Atlantis Dubai - we passed by the seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab (If you have got time, make a reservation to dine at one of the numerous restaurant here. Unless you make reservations for accommodations, this is the best way to get a glimpse of this lavish hotel.
3:00 P.M. Arrived at Atlantis. I hurried made my way to the entrance of the lost chambers aquarium. It was quite a spectacle. I think slightly overpriced, but still an incredible show. I was too immersed to take many photos and in too much of a hurry to fully enjoy it. I recommend planning 2 to 2.5 hours to fully get your money's worth.
4: 10 P.M. Back on the bus, arrived at Dubai mall shortly before 5 p.m. This is the largest mall in the world. There is a whole lot to see at doing, the weather was surprisingly nice so I stay outside for a little bit and people watched before heading in for shopping and nourishment.
5:45 P.M. I had been snacking all day and was not in the mood for a full meal. Instead, I headed to Laduree to pick up macaroons and for croissants and tea.
6:30 P.M.I wanted to visit the Dubai Aquarium, but I already splurged on the lost chambers aquarium. There are parts of the aquarium that can be viewed for free, so I did that instead.
7:00 P.M. Time to shop. Where to start in the world's largest mall. I stopped by Diptyque, Galeries Lafayette, and Aesops to pick up a few items to take back home for the family.
9:00 P.M Head back to the hotel to pack before heading to the airport.
10:30 P.M. Cab to the airport. Time to go home. My flight was at 2 a.m.