San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers is a must visit when exploring Golden Gate Park. It's a very peaceful, well-kept environment with a colorful mix of flowers for the viewing and lounging pleasure. It's always nice to see other photographers taking advantage of the floral surroundings at its peak bloom. Any backdrop with flowers will pretty much guarantee a solid photo, and this is the best place in the city to capture something like that.
I decided to take advantage of free museum admission day which is every first Tuesday of the month in the city. I went to the Legion Of Honor since I have always skipped it for the De Young for the past couple of years. Luckily, I found out they had a traveling impressionism exhibit from, the one and only, National Gallery of Art in DC. I lived in Northern Virginia for a portion of my life and frequented DC solely for that museum because it is honestly the best in the world. I have been to the Louvre and the D'Orsay in Paris and the National Gallery of Art outshines them all in terms of impressionism.
I want to sum up why I have forever been drawn towards impressionism. There is something about it being imperfect with strokes of sheer emotion that has continually identified with me. Up close, the flaws are apparent; while from afar, it looks like a masterpiece. Its the most real form of art, in my opinion.
Altogether, it was good, but not worth an admission fee. I strongly feel all museums in San Francisco aren't worth the buck, especially if you have been to ones in other states or overseas. So if you are planning a visit to any of them be sure to go on the first Tuesday of the month.
Hiking is easily skipped when visiting a city, due to the fact that cities generally don't have places worth trekking. Which is why I wanted to take advantage of one of the many free pleasures SF has to offer. I decided to check out Land's End this past weekend. Exactly how the name implies, it is where the land ends. To my surprise, It wasn't a typical beach like environment at all which was nice. San Francisco is known for its uneven terrain and upon viewing what this trail had to offer I got to see first hand where it all collides. Standing on the rocky beach it felt like a constant fight between water and earth. It wasn't calming or peaceful, but more uplifting. There was an unequivocal energy of the landscape which made the entire environment feel alive, including myself. Ending the first leg of my hike on Mile Rock Beach was refreshing and made the walk back feel like a breeze.
It's always nice to see the sights of the city you live in, and it's even better if you can avoid the tourists while doing so. Crissy Fields is definitely the perfect balance between sightseeing and enjoying the SF cityscape. You get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge [fog might hinder that a bit but not much] while standing right on the rocky shoreline of the fields. The beach and I never got along in the past.. Usually there are too many people and for some reason it always feels unclean to me. The shores of Crissy Fields changed my perception of it completely. Zero crowd with nice breeze and a diverse choice of viewing pleasure. Look left, and you see the bridge, look right, and you get the city. What more could you ask for? I'll definitely plan a picnic next time.
The Palace Of Fine Arts is one of the more picturesque destinations in San Francisco, and probably the most overlooked. The balance between nature and architecture makes it a photographer's dream. Upon arriving at the place, it threw me off on the location of the palace itself. I was merely driving through the city right passed some usual, colorful SF style houses and then out of nowhere this glorious oasis appears. It's not actually 'out of place' or anything, but you will definitely be in awe of it and the surroundings as you pass it by since it's that much out of the ordinary. It was a refreshing change of pace for me. The classical architecture, wildlife, teal water and all around luminous environment made me feel like I was back in Europe. If you are in SF and looking for a weekend getaway, this place is well worth the trip without the hassle of traveling too far.
It's been awhile since I found a museum worth spending an entire day exploring. Having already been to the National Gallery in Trafalger Square and every other museum in London during my previous visits, I wanted to mix it up and try The Victoria and Albert. I am still trying to grasp why I haven't been to this place before, since The V & A is truly the best museum in London.
There are so many great things about this place. The architecture, exhibits, location, lack of tourists, cafe with beer, outdoor patio and the vintage museum restaurant make it such a relaxing stay. In addition to all that, it's also free. The museum mainly caters to art and design, but they offered asian/european artwork as well. The hallway contained amazing sculptures throughout the entire strip which led to their exhibits. Being a fan of sculptures since visiting Michelangelo's David in Florence, it was nice admiring some beautiful pieces of marble for nostalgia's sake.
The fashion exhibit was more enlightening than expected. It was really well done so any non-fashion enthusiast could enjoy learning about something they had no interest in. It was organized with each decade having two mannequins per section in a coliseum-like room. So walking around in a circle felt like time travel, which made appreciating the outfits both fun and easy.
Another thing unique to the museum was the historical restaurant, which was actually an exhibit itself. It was three vintage, victorian designed rooms converted into a dining section. Just being able to sit down with a pint felt much better since you could admire your surroundings while recovering from art fatigue. The patio was also a pleasant surprise, and I was equally surprised on how sunny it was outside, which is always rare in London.
Visiting museums can be tiresome. No matter what, you will suffer from art fatigue. It's normal to get weary of being coped up in a building with nothing but art for entertainment. However, I did not get tired of the V & A at all. There were simply endless forms of art to appreciate, each very different from the last. I was able to absorb information calmly because my senses were naturally refreshed as I entered each exhibit. In addition to that, being able to consume alcohol at my leisure also made it much easier to recover. Art, fashion and beer all in one place? I'll never get sick of that.
when in London, you have to do the Oxford Circus run. The funny thing is, the sole reason I visit the overpopulated strip is for Topman.. and maybe for the nearby Soho bars as well. Being my favorite fast-retailing brand over the past couple of years, browsing through the four-story megastore is quite the experience. I can easily burn several hours just admiring the clothing. The fit, style, quality and aesthetics of the brand just naturally resonate with me. My favorite form of styling is to combine outfits that are both formal and casual so the outfit can be seamlessly worn during any function. After meandering the mall-like shop I was ecstatic finding the very last button-up-sweatshirt-sleeved top pictured above. Finding a gem like that made the entire day worthwhile.
Satisfied with my purchase I headed over to the Selfridges bar for some celebratory champagne. Afterwards, I then ran into one of the most quaint parks I have seen in London called, Grosvernor's Square. It was literally two blocks away from Oxford Circus but had no tourists whatsoever. It was a pleasant change of tone getting to relax away from the crowd.
Sitting on a bench isolated with my thoughts, it made me think of how to balance out different types of activities when traveling. If you visit a country and merely go shopping, it can get monotonous. You could also say the same about visiting just the sightsee or experience nature. If you find a balance, or some kind of hybrid of the two, you will then finally know the feeling of vacation.
Unexpected pleasures are the best when traveling overseas. You can visit another country and plan an itinerary with premeditated endeavors, but it's just not the same as aimlessly running into things. Next time you travel, go somewhere and try to let your guard down. Yard Life took me out of my comfort zone, in the good way, though.
Exiting the Angel tube station with some minor showers, I had second thoughts about even attending this event, since I haven't had great experiences with festivals in the rain. Apprehensively following google maps, my phone told me it was within a 5 minute walk. This threw me off since I heard no music at all which was odd. Taking a left turn into a sketch alley nearby a scrap yard, I noticed a small line in front of a run down warehouse. I figured I made it this far so might as well go in.
Delighted with a feeling of relief, the interior was pretty rad. Each section had a separate wing that catered to different forms of entertainment. The main courtyard had an artsy ambiance with a beer truck conveniently in the middle. To the right, was a section with an electronic-infused dance floor while the other alleyways led to the bands. It was a maze at first, but that was half the fun. After drinking four pints, wandering around tight corridors of a warehouse which felt like a closed down movie theatre from the 80's was worth any previous thoughts of anxiety. To think I was on the borderline of skipping this event was beyond me.
All around, the music was great. Personal favorites were Courtly Love, Nightworkers and Younghusband. It's refreshing seeing up-and-coming bands like these perform for an event which was donating their profits towards MS research. A willingness to play for a cause without receiving much personal gain merits some well-deserved respect.
I really don't think a festival like this would ever happen in the US, so I was grateful having experienced it. There was just too much for my eyes and ears to fully comprehend. it all sparked a feeling I have always longed for when abroad. A feeling of having no itinerary for my senses. Being without a plan or destination has always been a long chapter in my life which seems to give me some form of indescribable joy. Unknown pleasures, if you will.
There's something inexplicably alluring about all female bands. I don't think it has to do with a certain image or look trying to be obtained, since that has already been done before. I feel it leans more into womens' empowerment than anything else. Nothing's more attractive than seeing a strong, independent lady wielding an instrument as she serenades an audience with the utmost confidence. Being a longstanding fan of the Dum Dum Girls, it's refreshing to see more and more all female ensembles on the rise. Dublin's own September Girls did not disappoint the other night.
Rough Trade has to be one of the best record shops I have been to. The location, interior, selection, clientele and staff just felt right. Even better was the fact I had the opportunity to go on Record Day itself. Yearly, Rough Trade East and West host an event featuring free shows inside the store. Bands that played this year were, Toy, Adam Ant, September Girls, and so many more.
Arriving in London on Saturday around 1PM, I had been traveling for a total of 20 hours. I promised myself I would not miss this event at all cost. So after rushing to my hostel, dropping off my bags and commuting via the tube, I made it to Rough Trade East around 4 PM. I missed a few bands but I was fortunate to see Younghusband. It was a grungy, dream pop performance that I would have gladly paid to see. Plus the store even had a cafe that, to my surprise, served alcohol. After being weary, jet-lagged and on the verge of passing out, nothing hits the spot like browsing through vinyl while drinking a beer as an awesome shoegaze band plays in the background. Not to mention, being in one of the coolest places I've been to in London.
I think we all go through transitional periods every few years. You may not know exactly when it happens or how it will impact you, but its inevitable. Uneasy as it sounds, it's usually not a bad thing. It's a branch to something new which stems from a recent decision you made that changed your everyday lifestyle. Whether it be moving to a new city, quitting/getting a job or a change in your personal relationship, it's all a transition to a new you.
So in my case, I am transitioning into this blog. I honestly have not written a blog since the antiquated Xanga years, so needless to say I have no clue what I'm doing. I'll start by saying that I intend to use this blog as a personal journal of my ever-changing lifestyle, simply to document what I have seen and experienced. I finally transitioned into a variety of different forms of photography and I am looking forward to post them. Fields such as, fashion, music and travel will be the majority.
In related news, I have left for London for ten days just to clear my mind. I am a frequent traveler by nature, and London has become my favorite home outside of the US in the recent years. Getting to share my experience and take on this beautiful city will be a great way to complete my transition.