Tanzania, a wonderful journey

As I’m sitting in class thinking about how the only thing getting me through the next two weeks of school is summer, I’m reminiscing about my previous summer endeavors in 2018. I went to sleepaway camp for seven years since I was six to 13 years old. I loved every second of it. Being a performing arts camp, it was full of independence, growth, drama and personal responsibility. Last year, I decided I was “done” with going to camp. I didn’t want to be a '‘little kid” anymore going to sleepaway camp just like all the other kids. I wanted to do something different. Something memorable. Something special. Day in and day out, my mom and I were researching trips to go on, places to work, organizations to get involved in etc. We came across a community service trip to Tanzania, Africa. Suddenly, I was intrigued. I never thought of doing a community service trip or even considered going on 11 hour plane ride either. However, as I read the mission of Putney Student Travel, I myself was interested in following the same journey and mission they would hope to establish.

I chose to partake in the trip to Tanzania, Africa. A six week program based in a small village called Marurani. Three hours away from the airport, two hours away from the town; Marurani was located along the long and dry dirt paths of Tanzania. I’ve contemplated so many times writing this passage about my trip since it will be a year soon. However, now I’ve decided to share my experience because of how much it changed me. I know it’s cheesy, that I went on a community service trip and now I feel “changed”. But this trip was different. As a young photographer, I went there thinking I was going to capture every waking person, landscape and moment around me. My leaders were on the “stricter” side in regards to taking photographs so we don’t invade the kids or adults personal space. They also were more strict regarding photos because they didn’t want us to look like “white saviors” in the sense that we were going to post it all online of young little African babies. At first, I was frustrated because photography is my whole life and all I wanted to do was capture a new culture. As the trip went on, my frustration eased and I learned to respect the community and people that were starting to feel like a family and home.

The reason why I’m writing this is to address the fact that life is full of roadblocks and you have to adapt to wherever you are to enjoy and take in every memory and moment. I met this little girl there named, Mayema. She never spoke or say anything she would just hold my hand and give me hugs everyday after school. I never got to take her photo however, I have her small hand and face pictured in my brain which is strong enough for me to hold forever.

Thank You,

Stella Rae

Tips & Tricks to Mexico City

To say Mexico City is becoming trendy, is an understatement. The heat, the sun, the air - not one bad thing to say about this lovely city. With it’s incredible culinary scene, compelling architecture and art projects, with designers and artists who incorporate Mexico City’s dynamtic culture - Mexico City is blossoming in true form.

To Sleep:

  • Downtown Mexico; This hotel as it all. A beautiful rooftop pool and bar, included breakfast spread every morning, gorgeous views to look out to from your room, stores and a full restaurant downstairs.. we absolutely loved. It isn’t in the greatest location since it’s part of the bustling part of the city but the hotel and staff makes up for it.

  • Casa Decu; My mom and I stayed here before my dad arrived and oh how much we loved our stay. The breakfast in the morning, the staff, the location. It was such a quaint, calm and relaxing hotel. 10/10

Culture Checklist: Diego Rivera Mural Museo

Muse See: Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo House; this is a trip MUST. Run DON’T WALK!

Shop Talk: Goodbye Folk. Cutest vintage store; got so many good scores

State of Affairs: This city is a dreamland for folks who want to pursue a personal project, business or travels. This city has so much more than what people think. So many internationally-developed industries are competiviely booming in CDMX. The value of life is so much bigger than what us Americans are used to, it’s so much more enjoyable.

Explore: The neighborhood, Coyacán. An uber cute religious town where Frida grew up. After the museum, walk in the town, go to the food vendors, the church, do it all. Afterwards, go to Los Danzantes, for lunch (make a reservation). If you want more after that, go grab a cub o’ joe AT..FISFINASNKS

Pro-Tip: Bring clothes for all types of weather. We had rainy, cold and sunny all in one day. You never know so bring your layers.

Dine Out: Suntory - Even though it’s fancy it’s absolute delicious Japanese food makes up for it. Get the chirashi bowl - SO good.

Fashion Fix: Walk around Roma for some cute vintage and original scores

Street Food: MANGO! There are street vendors everywhere but we decided to go with some mango which we saved for a few days adn tasted better and better each day.

Lovely Lunch: Contramar ~ one of those restaurants everyone knows but it doesn’t even matter because the food is divine. A classic Mexico City spot for some delicious tuna & tacos.

Breakfast of Choice: Lalo! To be honest, this place wasn’t my ultimate favorite (kind of infested with Americans). However, my acai bowl & cappuccino were delicious.

Afternoon Pick Me Up: Delirio. In the premier section of Roma, on a perfect street corner, sitting outside on the wicker chairs with your almond milk latte and jar of tiramusu. Not basic, perfect. I think we went here almost everyday, and enjoyed every second of it. There’s multiple locations but our favorite was the one in Roma.

Top Pick: Café Toscano

Foodie Fix: Mercado Roma

Todos Santos; A Tranquil Oasis

The dusty trails carving mysterious paths through deserts dotted with tall cacti is view from your car window while driving from the glossy resorts of Los Cabos. As Vogue says, “when you see a dirt road in Baja, you should take it. There’s always something interesting at the other end.” The slow exploration of these roads lead to a trove of discoveries: Todos Santos. A small town filled with lots of culture and authentic food, a secluded beach where cerulean waves crash between a mermaid cove, and an oasis which seconds as a desert mirage.

There’s been a wild sense of possibility recently of travelers to Todos Santos. Some go to surf the nearby breaks, others wander the cobblestone streets with small artisan shops, and others come for the relaxation and seclusion from reality.

To Stay:

  • Hotel San Cristóbal

Now, a whole new set of travelers are setting their sights on a treasure at the end of a long dirt road: Hotel San Cristóbal. On the week I visited, all 32 rooms were fully booked with couples of all ages wearing colorful kimonos and sipping fresh margaritas by the long, turquoise-tiled gorgeous pool. It’s swirly tiled floors, brightly woven blankets, tall potted cacti, and bubble gum-pink pool floats - it’s an Instagramer’s dream. This hotel is like dying and waking up in hotel heaven. Not one complaint, not one flaw, just perfect.

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The view from our room.

The view from our room.

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  • Acre Baja

Dad at the pool on Film

Dad at the pool on Film

Hidden through the windy roads of San Jose del Cabo is Acre, a sanctuary set on 25 acres of flourishing greenery. Including 8 tree house hotel rooms, organic farms, private event spaces in a mango orchard, and an award-winning farm to table restaurant. As of this isn’t enough, they are in the midst of building; villas, an art academy, a second pool, and the list goes on. We stayed on our last night to be closer to the airport however our stay was magnificent. The communication, the service, the kindness, everything was fabulous.

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Polaroids by the pool

Polaroids by the pool

Inside of the treehouse

Inside of the treehouse

To Eat:

  • Flora Farms

Flora Farms is a working farm with 25 acres of breathtaking amenities at the base in the mountains in San Jose del Cabo. The perfect place for a late afternoon trip - you can tour the farm, visit the grocery and market, relax at the Farm Bar, eat the crisp pizza at the restaurant, shop at the stores, get a manicure at the spa, what can be better than that?

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  • Tres Galline Todos Santos

Homemade pasta, fresh fish - a quaint Italian restaurant with the old Italian Nonna walking around the restaurant making sure everyone is enjoying the delicious pasta and wine.

  • Baja Beans

Baja Beans is the perfect coffee and hangout spot for caffeine junkies. Not only do they have a great environment but also roast their own beans, giving them full control over the quality. Go in the morning for a cappuccino and a blueberry scone ~ the most ideal start to the day.

  • Pacifica Fish Market

Pacifica is a seafood Japanese fusion restaurant & fish market located in Todos Santos. Anything you get here will be fresh and delicious goodness. Super casual and cute.

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In's & Out's of Nashville

Nashville, in case you haven’t heard, has completely outdone itself in the past few years. Nashville has always been a key player in the music industry, and drawing some of the most fun and creative people. When my parents and I found out how booming Nashville has become - we had to come check out the fun for ourself. Nashville has reinvented itself as a formidable food culture, and full of small shopping destinations. When you land in Nashville you will experience a city with beauty, soul and more than a little grit.

To Stay:

  • Noelle Hotel

    I only have one hotel for this guide however, this is BY FAR one of the nicest hotels, I’ve ever stayed at. It was an old bank so the architecture is beautiful. What’s so special about the Noelle is that, it’s more than a place to just lay your head at night. It’s more of a creative gathering place for not only tourists but also locals wanting a cup of coffee, a drink after work, a clutch from the store. It’s 100% the best hotel in Nashville, and you will truly seek the Nashville adventure. P.S. talk to Danielle, best employee & sweetest girl.

Nashville is split into sections, so instead of doing a full travel guide, I’m going to give you restaurants + shops in all the sections.

* my extra favorites *

12 South: A perfect mix of food and fashion, the perfect spot to spend your Saturday.

  • Begin at Five Daughter’s Bakery - basically donut heaven

  • Burn those calories by walking down with a stroll down 12 South

    • White’s Mercantile - eclectic mix of classic Nashville goods

    • Imogene + Willie* - expensive, but a beautiful curated denim store

    • Savant Vintage - two levels of breathtaking vintage clothes & antiques

  • Finish for lunch over at Burger Up

  • And of course throughout the whole day, snap pictures at the famous murals

East Nashville: The place where musicians and artists live and hang out in lively bars, clubs, shops and galleries.

  • Start at the best brunch spot in town, Cafe Roze* - fresh and simple take with delicious healthy food

  • Walk to get your beauty fix at Lemon Laine* - get a custom face oil blend

  • Get the classic Nashville Jeni’s* ice cream - rich & delicious

  • High Class Hillbilly* for some killer vintage

  • If you don’t want some ice cream, get a cup ‘o joe at Frothy Monkey Coffee Shop

  • Go over for drinks at the Urban Cowboy* - sit by the fire with drinks, friends and family. Southern Charm meets Cowboy Cool

  • Finish off the night with a dinner across the street at Lockeland Table* - PASTA, PIZZA, TIRAMISU!

Downtown Nashville: Lovers of live music, beer and dancing

  • Visit the Johnny Cash Museum

  • Or the Frist Museum for breathtaking art and a gorgeous museum

  • Go to Tootsie’s to watch an afternoon music band

  • Go to Martin’s BBQ for some Nashville grub

  • If you’re still down for some dancing and drinks, go to Broadway for the Honky Tonk Bars

Germantown: Chic restaurants, cafes along the brick sidewalks, period charm

  • Come for a bkfast or brunch at Henrietta Red* - spacious, flooded with natural light, clean & simple food

  • For a quick cup go to Barista Parlor* - incredible space, a place to be productive, enjoy or sip

  • Peter Nappi - leather galore; shoes, hats, bags, amazing.

Extra Favorites:

  • On Sunday, Adele’s for a family style buffet

  • Folk - by far the best restaurant, a place for everyone, incredible space, delicious food and great staff

  • Pinewood Social - bar, coffee shop, bowling alley?!?! I know, a place for productivity and fun

  • Crema - the best coffee I’ve ever had it tastes like toffee

All the 'Dam Spots

Cycling along the canals, the boutiques and a cozy café on every street corner - Amsterdam has it all. As a child, I visited Amsterdam with my family and I absolutely fell in love and now as a teenager, seeing it again, in it's most magical summer light. The diversity, the people, the culture, the food, the drinks - I can go on and on. Not enough love in this world for this incredible city. 

To Sleep: 

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Oh how much we loved our stay here... let me count the ways. Every single thing in this gorgeous boutique hotel was flawless. It was the perfect balance between relaxation and let's get up and dance. 11/10. 

To Eat: 

The rich colors and steaming pans all make it seem like you're stepping into Bangkok or Hong Kong. The whole experience is quite surreal. It's like having a slice of Asia while looking out to the Amsterdam city. P.S. it's located in Oost which is on the opposite side of the city so if you wanna get your walk on ~ walk away or rent a bike! 

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We went to this restaurant three times in the duration of seven days. Lunch and dinner, the best pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads etc. Italian heaven. Sitting outside is such a nice vibe but no reservations so get there early! 

  • Pluk Bakery

Like stepping into your fantasy "tea party" from when you were six years old. The most exotic cakes, matcha lattes and notebooks galore. Located in the beautiful nine straats, sitting outside is just the best afternoon experience. 

BEST steamed dumplings :)

BEST steamed dumplings :)

The Chelsea Market but 100x better. Filled with incredible food vendors from steamed dumplings to frozen yogurt to squid fries (wow!). If you're hungry ~ RUN! 

To Shop; 

In the gorgeous location of Food Hallen, the gathershop is a gorgeous, cozy boutique where you will find travel guides, candles and cut little vintage tops. 10/10 recommend. 

Yet ANOTHER nine straats little boutique! Cutest little shop with vintage and original pieces. Greatest flowy pretty blouses. Loved! 

To Go: 

  • Take a trip to Noord

OH.MY.GOSH. We absolutely died when we took a gorgeous fifteen minute boat ride to the industrial and trendy little spot of Noord. Stop at lunch or tapas at Pllek with a gorgeous beach view and fun music & dancing. We loved, loved, loved Noord! 

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Thank you for reading my little black book guide to all my favorite Amsterdam spots. I had quite the trip and wouldn't want anything more. Make sure to check out my Amsterdam Vlog, to see more of my amazing journey. 

Xoxo, 

Stella Rae 

Costa Rica Moments

The beautiful surf town of Nosara stole my heart. Filled with the most genuine people, authentic food, lined with mini cabanas in the jungle. I fell in love with this breath-taking village and I savored every moment. Here is my Costa Rica travel guide! 

Where To Sleep: 

  • The Nomadic Hotel 

This hotel is absolutely perfect for relaxing poolside for hours on end, waking up to freshly made breakfast and hot coffee and swimming in the most amazing pool you have ever seen. We LOVED it! 

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Where to Eat: 

  • La Luna Restaurant 

You sit and eat hummus, pizza, guacamole, salad, fish. They have every delicious food you've been dreaming of. While munching on the best food, you are watching an incredible sunset. Simply magical. 

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  • Go Juice Nosara 

This was my go-to spot for a morning acaí bowl or a kale juice. This juice stand has the best employees, best juices/smoothies, and the BEST acaí bowls EVER. 10/10. 

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  • La Casa Deli 

When you hear deli you think pastrami on rye bread, right? Yeah, we did too until we stepped into La Casa Deli. This is the perfect lunch-spot for a quinoa salad bowl, healthy wraps or just to take in the cool vibe. P.S. only open until 4! 

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La Negra 

Oh, La Negra. This restaurant/hotel has a crazy good vibe, fab food and a super cute pool. We went there for some yoga, live music and a chicken roast. Another, 10/10. 

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Overall this vacation was perfect. Everything was beautiful and made with love. I 100% recommend Nosara, Costa Rica if you want to have a magical experience.

Xoxo, 

Stella Rae 

Don't Miss: Paris Shops&Eats

Wow. I can't believe I'm actually saying this but I recently came home from a fascinating weekend in Paris. Words cannot even explain how extraordinary this city is, so I will let my photos do the talking. Here is my guide to Paris through every cute boutique and delicious bistro. 

1. Merci Store 

I'm sure many of you have heard of the famous Merci store in Paris but the store was insane. My mom and I kept saying that it had a Barney's reputation and an urban outfitters/anthropologie feel. Everything in this store was worth dreaming about, overall amazing. 

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2. Bon Marche

This store was the Paris version of a high-end, much better Nordstrom. This store is great for provisions and little gifts for your bffs back home. Name it and they have it, run to St.Germain to find Bon Marche! 

3. La Barbouille Bistro 

My mom and I were absolutely starving and all the resturants were closed at the time, we finally found one that wasn't and rushed in. This resturant was one of the best ones. Best food, best waiter, best location, best look. Run don't walk.  

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4. Flea Markets in the Marais 

Momma walking through the Marais 

Momma walking through the Marais 

On the weekends there are always flea markets everywhere in Paris but in the cute little Marais there are such dope vendors. My parents and I practically spent two full days roaming through the streets looking for good finds and OH did we find some good stuff!

Well guys that's an end to part one of the Paris guide. Hope you liked it! 

Xoxo, 

Stella Rae 

Don't Miss: Paris Museums

If you guys saw my last post then you saw how incredible the city looked through all the shops and restaurants but it gets even better through the eyes of the paintings of Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet. I absolutely adore museums so obviously my parents and I went to at least one a day. What can I say? We love art. 

1.  Museums D'Orsay 

I have no words to explain how beautiful this museum is. Every painting was simply breathtaking. After we landed off the plane, this was the first place we stopped and it was perfect. 

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Jumped off the plane and went straight to the museum, with of course a crepe in hand.   Outfit: jeans: topshop, sweater: topshop, jacket: all-saints 

Jumped off the plane and went straight to the museum, with of course a crepe in hand. 

Outfit: jeans: topshop, sweater: topshop, jacket: all-saints 

2. Dior Exhibit @ Louvre Museum 

This exhibit was one of the most incredible places I have EVER been to. Run don't walk. Pro tip: get your tickets before hand and get there early!

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3. Museé Picasso 

This museum is home to one of the most extensive Picasso collections in the world and  every piece of art was seriously unbelievable. Even the the museum itself was beautiful. The whole vibe of this museum was great, the location was right in the Marais which was super convenient to take a quick museum break on your shopping day. 

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I hope one day all of you will be able to visit this beautiful city. 

Xoxo, 

Stella Rae 

Ibiza Beaches&Eats

Last week I vacationed in Ibiza and it was seriously one of the most beautiful and incredible experiences in my life. My parents and I spent every single day sitting or eating by the beach. This island is so ridiculously magical! So please read ahead for my complete Ibiza bucket list! 

The view from Las Puertas Del Cielo 

The view from Las Puertas Del Cielo 

1. Fish, Tiramisu and Cafe Lattes at Las Puertas Del Cielo

Walking through cliffs to a beautiful little cliff across from Es Enamorados. 

Walking through cliffs to a beautiful little cliff across from Es Enamorados. 

Es Enamorados 

Es Enamorados 

2. Tapas at Es Enamorados & Walk through cliffs to swim in cove

Es Enamorados: amazing and bohemian hotel and restaurant  

Es Enamorados: amazing and bohemian hotel and restaurant  

Relaxing at Calabassa Beach. 

Relaxing at Calabassa Beach. 

3. Late lunch at CBCB Beach Club & Relax at Calabassa Beach

4Watch the Sunset at the Fish Shack in Talamanca (tip: get the prawns!!) 

Dad and I chilling at the Fish shack. 

Dad and I chilling at the Fish shack. 

5. Day Trip to Formentera and Paella at Pirate (tips: make a reservation, it gets packed) 

The vibe in Pirate at Formentera. 

The vibe in Pirate at Formentera. 

6. Last but not least, lunch at Giri Cafe

Inside of Giri Café: so creative, beautiful and homey. 

Inside of Giri Café: so creative, beautiful and homey. 

Giri Café: Made with Love 

Giri Café: Made with Love 

Overall, this trip was magnificent and I had the best time exploring the island with my family. I hope everyone enjoyed their vacations and summer memories. Thank you for reading! 

Xoxo, 

Stella Rae 

Posada Luv

My family and I have been traveling for nine years now to Posada Margherita and every vacation is like a fairytale. This fairytale occurs firstly for the amazing people we spend time with, the places we stay, and the atmosphere that is organically created with the fresh start of each morning. My family and I have easily connected with the Tulum locals and the families that come and stay as well; this takes on a beach club atmosphere. We have all created one little family; smiling when we arrive and crying when we leave. I briefly spoke about Posada Margherita; boutique hotel in my Tulum travel guide but I felt that I needed another to post to show my love for the people, the hotel, the food, the drink, the clothes, the beach and everything in between. The employees and owners at Posada Margherita have become like a family to me; a special tribe. The tribe that has been created has not only loved and cared for me since I was little but as made me constantly happy, smiley, and enjoying the magical vacation in Tulum. 

 

Eggs In a Hole during breakfast at Posada!!!

Eggs In a Hole during breakfast at Posada!!!

Baby Chiara; daughter of the owners of Posada. 

Baby Chiara; daughter of the owners of Posada. 

New Discoveries in Tulum

Last week I was traveling to Tulum on vacation with my family and friend; Kathryn. This vacation was literally magical. I realized how much I enjoy visiting with the people there. The atmosphere , ambiance , the people there and overall  Tulum vibe. I was so content the entire vacation, eating delicious food, laying on the beach all day, and trying new stores, restaurants, and different spots. These are some of the cute new spots I went to during this vacation and absolutely LOVED!!

  • Safari Taco Restaurant 

I went to this restaurant for the first time and it was off the hook. The food was heavenly; the tacos, chips, guacamole, everything! The whole restaurant is adorable, and the general mood and environment was fantastic. I highly recommend the crispy fish tacos and yuca french fries!!! 

Safari Restaurant 

Safari Restaurant 

  • Casa Banana Restaurant

I went to this restaurant twice and it was fantastic both times. If your  a meat lover then you will enjoy this Argentinian steak lovers restaurant! There is such a lively atmosphere and it's great food!! Mom & Dad love the wine....

Casa Banana Restaurant 

Casa Banana Restaurant 

  • Yoga w/ Daria Hines

Daria Hines is one of the most amazing people on this entire planet. She is incredible healthy, stylish and inspiring. She teaches multiple yoga classes at the new Sanara Hotel and the Tribal Yoga Studio. I took a yoga class on vacation and the whole rest of the day I was content and relaxed and just overall had a great start to my day. Make sure to figure out when she's teaching at either of these yoga studios and go to her classes!!

Daria Hines with her beautiful daughter; Chiara. 

Daria Hines with her beautiful daughter; Chiara. 

Hope you all enjoyed this post about the wonderful Tulum!! Comment down below any posts you want me to publish!! 

Xoxo, 

Stella Rae