Mama Travels: Bilbao/San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

June 29, 2015

I arrived in Bilbao, the capital of Basque country. This place is most famously known for the Guggenheim museum which I have been dying to see. Jeff Koon’s art and Richard Serra’s installations greeted me like a dear old friend. I have seen both exhibitions in New York and as excited as I was to see them in Bilbao, I wish there had been work from Spanish or Basque artists. But truly, it’s the architecture and exterior of buildings in this beautiful city that’s more interesting anyways.

While making my way through the depths of this museum, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon 50 euro just laying on the ground waiting for someone to claim it. I feverishly snapped it up as I never win anything or have luck like this so I glanced to my left then to my right to see if I was on some sort of hidden reality show of what people do when they find money. But no one was around or had noticed. I smiled at my small fortune and decided it was time to do something about this jet-lag.

After a shot of expresso to heed off the jet-lag, I head to an island called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (I like to buy a vowel please). Back in New York, a friend told me I only go to hidden places that he needs to google to get more info and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is one of those places. It’s off the beaten path and about 45 minute drive from Bilbao. It’s a rustic island dedicated to John the Baptist from the 9th century and connected to the main island with a man made narrow bridge along with some steps. More precisely, there are 230 steps to the top and conveniently, I lost count after the first 40 as I was more focused on my legs not giving out all while sweating like a pig.

All the hard work of climbing and burning thighs are well worth the effort when you see the view of the sea from the top. After finally catching my breath and enjoying the view, I was told to ring the bell 3 times for good luck. You can’t take chances with this sort of thing, so I rang my heart out.

With the hard work behind me, I was dying for water but when I saw a bottle of bubblies pop up, my thirst was redirected. As I watched the most beautiful sun set spreading on the infinite sea in front of me, I counted my blessings with a wide grin on my face. One of my top 5 moments in life, for sure.

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Mama Travels: Liberty Island

June 14, 2015

I was just waking up from the sleep when my smart phone notified I have 50 messages on the group chat that I have with my friends from all over the world. Of course it took a woman who lives in Nigeria to tell New  Yorkers there is a Veuve Cliquot Polo Classics that’s happening in New Jersey and we need to get on the tickets ASAP.

People were on these tickets like white on rice and sold out before even I can type Veuve. But being a resourceful NY woman, I scored 4 free tickets from a friend who is in the liquor business. I invited my champagne mafia who live to dress up to down pink champagne.

I opted for a simple white dress, a top hat from London, and flat shoes w/ a bow! I look like a welcoming committee at the small world at the Disney World.

I got tipped there is a long walk from where the ferry docks to the actual venue w/ tents and to wear flats or wedges. 2 girls showed up in whites and 1 girl in all black. The welcoming committee just became poor man’s Destiny Childs.

We took the ferry from the liberty park on the south tip of Manhattan toward Liberty Island in New Jersey. Liberty Park is transformed to a movie set from a different era. I see candy colored suits, top hats, umbrellas, suspenders, and all sorts of different dresses. I actually enjoy watching how men dressed since it’s more rare for men to dress like this. I mean where else can you wear a mint suit w/ red suspenders topped with pineapple print handkerchief? The venue was gorgeous. Rose gardens, giant Veuve Cliquot written with the leaves, lots of beautiful people, and of course lots and lots of champagne.

Shoving some crackers into my mouth like a proper lady when the polo game started. Nobody knew or even heard of these teams. But we all heard of Nacho Figueras. This Argentine polo player is ranked as one of the top polo players of the world, face of Ralph Lauren since 2000, father of 4 gorgeous kids, and so good looking he makes any heterosexual male doubt their sexuality for a min or two. Women flocked to the fence to get a glimpse of this stud and he didn’t disappoint. He scored a goal and made a victory lap of his handsome self.

I felt like Cindrella as buzz from the bubblies wore out, hair is flatter, dress is dirty and had to go to whole food for groceries.  But what a delightful way to spend a Saturday day drinking champagne and watching POLO 30 minutes away from this urban jungle.

I don’t need friends from Africa to remind me that I love this city. What the hell, I love the sister city, New Jersey too.

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Mama Travels: Palm Spring

June 4, 2015

This Memorial Day weekend, I am headed to Los Angeles. Two sisters reside and a brand new nephew, who is so cute that it hurts my heart just thinking about him, give me enough reason to visit frequently.

I always like to add another city to the mix so I am headed to Palm Springs. I have visited before, but this desert resort city and mid century modern mecca lends itself to more than one visit. It is a known stop over for Coachella  and is about 1 hour and ½ from Los Angeles.

First, I had to stop at the Inn and Out burger and it ended up being in a sketchy neighborhood of LA. I have never seen In and out without the restaurant part attached, just a pick up window with very interesting characters (not including my present company) standing in line. When I walked up, a guy looking like Lou Reed on a wheel chair was inhaling his burger. A guy in a wife beater, jolts (jean shorts), and with 1,000 tats including the shiny red lips on his forehead was in line to order.  But a girl in Cali has to have In and Out even if it means getting in line with LA’s finest.

The quick drive to Palm Springs is not so quick during the Memorial Day. It took 3 and a half hours to get there. I have never been so happy to see the wind generators that resemble storm troopers, which meant the desert was near. Desert weather is perfect. Dry and hot. Coming from NY’s grey weather, this is a treat.

I stayed at the Riviera and resort is packed. Because of it’s Memorial Day weekend, it’s the scene from desperate house wives goes MTV grind. A lot of meat heads, orange tan, and fake boobs sprinkled with kids and family. Hung out at the kid’s pool which was more mellow…irony of kids pool being more mellow, then headed to Ace Swim Club.

The Ace pool scene sums up Palm Springs perfectly. Hipster dads, pretty boys, lots of gays, hip families, everybody is tatted up(not kids), flamingo tubes, and girls in 60’s high-rise bikinis. It’s a spread from Nylon magazine. After hanging there for a while, I am getting used to day time drinking. After soaking up enough sun, I am headed to my favorite hotel in Palm Springs, The Parker, to grab some grubs.

I was told there is a wedding that’s happening. Everybody is busy prepping for the wedding. As I munched on my burger and truffle fries drenched in garlic with a side of 1942 Tequila, I see guests arrive. I thought for a second to crash this wedding but then I realize I am wearing a bikini with sheer lace cover up… all white. Not the best incognito outfit to crash a wedding. Also who wants to go to a wedding when you can be outdoors in California sun and wind w/ some tequila enhancement.

 Until next time Palm Springs.

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