London Calling

To love is the greatest gift we’re imparted with, something that’s impossible to summarize through mere words or pictures. It is a timeless treasure from the universe and bestowed within this precious gift one finds through love a deeper and higher truth of self that can be shared with another.

Love the most grandiose of all adventures.

While my usual propensity for adventuring is going solo,¬†I found the perfect travel companion in said love, his name is Bryan ūüėČ We found on our overseas excursion that we adventure well together, with calm agility and fun intrigue.

Our fist stop on this journey was London for 3 full days, in all its English glory. A city that is etched in heart and mind as one that feels quite homey. With rich cultural heritage that is preserved from eras bygone, along with cheery people speaking our mother tongue.

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We stayed the first two nights outside of London in a perfectly picturesque English country village along the Thames. ¬†We stayed with Bryan’s dear friend and his significant other, in their cozy home. They welcomed us warmly, our time there was lovely.

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Reuniting with people in London is a favorite way to not only explore the city and places to eat, giving us a taste of local life and flavor, but also cherishing the people we know and love¬†in one of the most fabulous cities in the world. We met with many friends throughout the city, including at Beaufort House in Chelsea and Smokey Tails in Hoxton Square. We also spent quality time with a family dear to me. ‚̧

Delightful every stop along the way.

Enjoying views of the majestic Buckingham Palace and its stately gardens, we strolled through the city,  getting lost to find where we were. We came across Hyde park and Kensington gardens. pleasantly surprised with how beautiful, fresh and expansive they were.

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All the sights and beauty of London embraced us in a glorious way. It was admirable to see how families and friends gathered in the afternoon for the traditional Sunday roasts, in homes, restaurants, even pubs. We observed phone-less, enthusiastic conversations and took note.

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And that was all a prelude……………….. I’ve been saving the best for last. ūüėČ

 

We stayed at Blakes hotel in London in a pristine white room, with a four poster bed, tv in the mirror, huge antique bathtub, which felt like a dreamy escape. The concierge were jovial and welcoming.  The decorum was modernly decadent with a worldly flair.

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Romantically, letting the night take us where it would, we ventured out to an exquisite restaurant for a richly flavored dinner that left our tastebuds singing with flavors. Gallivanting through the city afterwards, everything was quiet, almost empty.  We stopped at the Shard for for panoramic views atop London.

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Walking over the Westminster bridge, there was a feeling of palpable excitement in the air. In the misty night, with droplets of rain falling ever so gracefully,¬†I was calling into life intentions. The moment overcame us and I saw Bryan get down on his knee. I felt the pitter patter of my heart, feeling breathless as I heard him ask “Will you marry me?”.

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My heart was beaming, a shocked giddiness overcame us. The incredulousness of the moment came in an outpouring from the soul. It felt as though time stood still, spiraling through eternity as we gave our exclamations of love and devotion to one another and life. A beloved truth that was a known knowing when we first met.

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An emphatic¬†YES resounded not only to the question, but to love’s calling. In all the ways it permeates life, through all the realms of having true love and a best friend.¬†Love being the greatest gift we can give, it’s also in the receiving; Opening, being receptive and hearing when love comes beckoning.

I’m beyond grateful for sharing this dream life adventure.

 

xo,

Nicole

 

I’ll be back with our travels through France, Italy and Sweden.

 

London 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerusalem

“You’re not scared to be in Israel based on what they say in the news about the conflict?” I was asked many times. My answer “No, not at all.”¬†My heart felt at home in Jerusalem, a feeling that felt like a deep surge of ancient wisdom.¬†Knowing is hard to explain. Trusting it even more of a challenge. Explaining it can become nonsensical.¬†This journey became a reclamation.

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Old City Walls

Old City:

The roots in Jerusalem go deep, winding throughout history with many ideas originated there still circulating throughout our world. Quite an unbelievable place given it’s the epicenter of Abrahamic religions.

Within the old city walls, there are quarters; Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. A representation of everyone living and working amongst each other within the ancient walls.

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I am not religious, but honor the core spiritual tenets religions encompass.¬†I’ve questioned throughout my life what I believe in, which is constantly evolving as I do.¬†Many of the prophets which are at the heart of religions have similar messages: To be a good human.

I felt a release in my heart as I walked by a church singing prayers in Aramaic, such a beautiful sound, it rang like a song. Seeing some of the stations of the cross, feeling the intensity, I was lead to the Western Wall. I didn’t plan to go, it called me to it. Here there were deep prayers happening and some singing, before Shabbat started Friday night.

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Touching the wall, leaving my note, I prayed for peace and the thought came to me:

What does peace look like? Honoring traditions and still collectively moving beyond mindsets that separate and cause wars for our future generations to have a healthy existence. Including the mindset of greed that perpetuates the corporate stronghold on our planet which is destroying our natural resources.

I felt a reclamation of unity and what has been lost and fought in the name of religions. I know in my heart there is a peaceful way for us all to live in harmony and many things are collectively dismantling so we can see what the solutions will be.

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I found a spot that had wine and cheese, people were gathered outside at tables. Here I met a group of ¬†Palestinians. While talking I asked them about the conflict, which from a perspective in the west seems extremely tense. I was told “We‚Äôre like cousins, we work together, live together,¬†we come here every day from Bethlehem, the sensationalism in your news is not the way it is over here.” ¬†I was invited to go to Bethlehem, next time I visit I most certainly will.

I heard from local Israelis as well a resounding¬†“We all just want to live our lives, hopefully in peace.”

The Holocaust Museum: 

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The building itself is ingeniously designed, leading from one room to another in a zig zagging way. Inside, the videos, pictures and remnants are intense, sad, horrendous yet important to be seen. Honoring the past and victims, so as history never repeats itself in that way.

I saw this quote, which has been circulating recently, bringing tears to my eyes:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out‚ÄĒ
Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out‚ÄĒ
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.¬†Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out‚ÄĒ
Because I was not a Jew.¬†Then they came for me‚ÄĒand there was no one left to speak for me.”

  ~ Martin Niemöller

Perfuniq:

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I had my own custom made perfume at¬†Perfuniq, which my flatmate from¬†my airbnb, whom I’ll call Mariella who is so sweet, warm and hospitable, brought me to. Here I met the owner who makes all the scents and his wife, both incredibly nice. It took about an hour, tailored for me to what I liked and my preferences, ¬†based on my answers.¬†A proper scent-sation. Such a brilliant place, I loooove my perfume, we decided the name is “The Painted Veil”

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Local Jerusalem:

On Saturday to honor Shabbat many places are closed. I went to a local place that was open, meaning not Kosher. I had a delicious dinner and met another American. Our discussion ranging from biology to dark matter, to the quantum enigma and more. Mind blown would be an understatement, my mind was righteously bent after conversing.

Local Jerusalem life felt like home. If you’re ever in Jerusalem I highly recommend staying at Mariella’s place, contact me if so. At this Airbnb,¬†I was invited to eat homemade food with friends and family members of Mariella’s and learned new Israeli recipes which were so scrumptious. Like Israeli salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and lemon, so refreshing and tasty. Pita sandwiches with flavorful tahini, pickles and tuna with eggs, veggies and fresh herbs. Pasta that was so fresh tasting, most of the ingredients from the local market with a bit of spiciness that lingered in the garlic sauce.

Sai Baba.

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From experience, I understood that family is important to Israeli culture. People have migrated there from all over the world. There is a merging of cultures with similar values; cherishing family, community and tradition.

I talked love, relationships, dating, the world, culture, customs and the process of coming into self-love as a woman in our modern age, with Mariella. Even though we live thousands of miles away, our ideas were of a similar nature. Love in a relationship coming from a healthy place, being patient for the right “him’ to come along. Even if not, being happy with self no matter what. When self care is honored, it means caring for others at full capacity. Reciprocity.

I left at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, with a sendoff of beautiful wishes and a fresh pomegranate. My intentions were to release all the ways I blundered the past year and welcome with an open heart what will enter for the new year.

Toda Raba

xo,

Nicole

I’ll be posting soon about the Dead Sea and Eilat.¬†Much more of what I experienced ¬†will be highlighted in my memoir.

Tel Aviv

In getting lost, I tend to find more of myself. It’s beyond wandering, it’s a soul calling.¬†Leaving Morocco on an energized note, I had a fabulous, culture-drenched time in such a unique country. The¬†flight to Tel Aviv, I struck up conversation with the person sitting next to me, he was great and gave me a list of local and touristy things to see and do in Tel Aviv. Taking the train into Tel Aviv from the airport was clean, quick and affordable.

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I immediately felt an ease being in Tel Aviv. I found my favorite coffee spot, City Cafe which I frequented every morning. Sipping the rich, strong flavor of Israeli coffee one morning, to iced latte the next. The fantastic people there got to know me by name. My vagabond nature grounding in to the habitual aspect of every day living. Sometimes being thousands of miles from home, makes me realize that ultimately home is within.

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I had many plans of places to go, yet my spirit needed the sea. The beach had a calming strength to it, one that called me to it day after day. It felt warm and nourishing floating and swimming in the softly rolling waves as the salt, sun and air soaked into me. I had lunches at spots on the coast, watching kids learn how to surf and people enjoying their time. Everyone was super nice and loved showing me what they could about the city, and inviting me along with what they were doing.

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On my way to the beach I visited Camel Market, wandering through stands offering gifts, jewelry, fresh foods, juices, olives, cheeses, souvenirs and the likes. Each stand having a unique vibe, playing different music that perks the ears up. Stopping at some to buy fresh foods or little trinkets.

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Value was noticeably placed on fresh, seasonal foods, herbs and spices. The freshness and quality of the food blew my mind. I ate at so many phenomenal restaurants. The flavor profiles were fresh, rich, spicy or sweet, with herbs and spices that left lingering taste sensations. There were so many amazing places I stopped at, to go through them all would take up pages. I’ll highlight a few:

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North Abraxas: Usually you have to make reservations to eat here, luckily there was one spot at the bar in which I shared conversation and appetizers with those around me. The ambience was perfect, the fish so succulent and moist, freshly caught in a tomato sauce with melted cheese and veggies and scrumptiously¬†spicy. Dipping oven baked bread into the sauce, it was¬†so delicious I couldn’t get enough. I relinquished my normal eating habits of gluten and dairy free while traveling, it was so worthwhile.

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Supra: I decided to walk Rothschild Blvd and picked a spot that suited my fancy. I walked by Supra, then came back to it. Walking in it was quiet, I sat at the bar chatting with the awesome staff who were setting up for a party. Within an hour of eating a Georgian dish with meat and rice and blends of spices, the place was packed and there were dancers who took over the place.  Inviting me to dance up on the bar, which was AMAZING and way out of my norm.They thought I was professional contemporary dancer and kept inviting me to dance with them, for everyone. What a compliment and so fun!

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Emilia Romagna: I was strolling by on my way back from the beach and heard music playing, which was a burst of new tracks that were house,  soft bass, disco-ey middle eastern sounding. Ears piqued, I had to stop in. Here I ended up watching the chefs work their magic with chopping, mixing, cooking, breads and mediterranean freshness. I had a salad like a Caprese but with a ball of Buratta cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil and sweet yet tangy Balsamic vinaigrette and oils. Mmmmm.

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The old city, ¬†Jaffa Port, is 4,000 years old. Walking around, soaking in the ancient grounds, feeling the depths of something deep within remembered. How long humans have created ways to connect to other parts of the world, by sea and ground, importing and exporting, to bring gems of different lands. It’s a gorgeous sight on the sea,¬†from the old city to new city.

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I felt such a beachy¬†yet edgy ease in Tel Aviv, so much culture and Hebrew sounded melodious and grounded. If I were to compare to America, I found it to be a blend of NYC, Miami and San Francisco totally Israeli style. Most people spoke English making it easy to get around. The music, wow, the music. Everywhere I went, it was so diverse and dynamic sounding, I was told it’s the music capital of the middle east.

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Trusting my instincts meant understanding which step to take next through listening to my heart, mind and soul, when they’re in complete alignment it is like a song, or flow. One that has a different hum and tune wherever I am.

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My mind whispered “move, go, stop, talk, play, eat, relax, process, take in the sun, or shade. Do what it is your heart is called to as you venture lands unknown yet familiar, for your inner compass always knows where to go, following it will lead you to your calling.”

 

xo,

Nicole

 

I’ll be back with more of my travels through Israel…