ARCHITECTURE CRUSH: Barcelona
A church 150 years in the making, Hansel and Gretel houses come to life, gingerbread dreams and serpentine benches. No, you are not high. You are in Barcelona, a city with whimsical structures that ignite the imagination. Spanish modernist architect Antoni Gaudí's surreal buildings bring Barcelona to life. On Casa Milà’s rooftop, structures are made from broken marble or glass, decorated with limestone. Chimneys appear as solemn soldiers. At Park Güell, ornately colored shapes are inspired by nature. A long bench coils around a rooftop terrace in the shape of a serpent. It’s hard not to appreciate the sheer magnitude of possibility at the foot of La Sagrada Familia; to understand almost instantly how beauty takes time to build. Barcelona is a place where the clashing of dreams and reality manifest themselves in stairways and street corners.
CULTURE CRUSH: New Orleans
New Orleans is sweet and sticky. It satisfies and does not let go. There is no city in the United States that better represents old and new world culture, tradition and food than New Orleans. For many tourists, it is a place to win beads during Mardi Gras, get drunk enough to make bad decisions and eat fried food, but, New Orleans stands still in time, hauntingly beautiful because of its rich past and complicated future. It has seen tragedy in the eye of the storm and withstood. The melding of African, Spanish, French and Native American culture gives it a distinct standing among other American states. It is the birthplace of jazz, Cajun and Creole food, and the celebratory second line, where death is not mourned, but celebrated with fanfare and dance.
FOOD CRUSH: Montreal
When your weight doesn’t matter as much as partaking in a palate-pleasing journey, head to Montreal. The Canadian city’s cuisine adds pounds to bodies with reckless abandonment. Spiced brisket. Poutine covered in cheese curd and warm gravy. Eggs benedict topped with short rib. Lobster spaghetti. French inspired comfort food abounds without any pretension. The object is to eat, and eat well.
NATURE CRUSH: Costa Rica
"Pura vida" translates to pure life, and it is a saying uttered and written all over Costa Rica. It’s hard to imagine anything being pure in our day to day lives, but traveling to this Central American country truly reminds one of the simplicity of living. Rolling hills of green, crystal clear waterfalls and untouched rainforests puts one directly in touch with nature. Driving through the country, a sloth hangs lazily from a tree, cattle grazes in grassy fields, and fresh mangoes are ripe for the picking. It’s easy to feel peace here, without the honking of horns or incessant “to do” list. If you’re ready to unwind and be present, head to Costa Rica.
WINE CRUSH: Bordeaux
La douceur de vivre. The sweetness of life can be found in Bordeaux. With its quaint communes ripe with gorgeous chateaus and vines, steep cobblestone alleyways and cool kids sipping rosé in the summertime, Bordeaux mixes city sensibility with countryside charisma. Whether you are an aspiring or established oenophile, you’re sure to be satisfied in France’s wine capital. Do not miss a daytrip to Saint-Émilion, a charming medieval village founded by a hermit on the run that now offers some of France’s best Merlot. Bordeaux is an easy place to get lost alone, or with a lover down a small cobblestone alleyway. Anything you stumble upon will be beautiful.