Travelogue: Maggie in Barcelona

At the end of last month, I did my bi-annual¬†buy trip to Milan. I had realized that since I am going all the way over to another continent, I might as well get out and visit other cities while I’m in Europe. This time, I spent 48 hours in Barcelona. My purpose was¬†to mix in with the locals, shop the neighborhoods, and gain some inspiration. To see what new thing I could find and possibly bring back to our Ballard shop.

Travel Tip: arriving at the airport and getting into the city is quite easy. They have a shuttle that leaves every 5 minutes from the airport to Plaza Catalunya and back to the airport. If you take the shuttle Aerobus you can be in and out of the city in 30 minutes.

Like I said my goal was to shop as much of the city as I could in 2 days. I managed to walk various neighborhoods, including Eixample, el Raval, Barrio Gotic, el Born and Gracia. I walked briefly through Las Ramblas, but I wanted to find unique shops and not chain stores. Turns out getting around Barcelona by foot is quite easy!

The shots below are just some of the pictures from my phone camera. Not all the pictures I took were post worthy. Click the photos below for more details. Thanks for visiting and have a relaxing weekend!

 

 

Wanderlust: Shoe Inspired Travel

Places we would like to see and the shoes we would take with us. 

 

Taddeucci Sandals on Vacation in Cuba

If we were traveling to Cuba, we would go into the country and stroll through the tobacco plantations in our comfy slide sandals by Giulia Taddeucci.

 

Kupuri 819 sandal on Vacation

We would wear our Kupuri city sandals to¬†sneak into the Castle of the Peratallada in Catalonia, Spain. We would pack an evening picnic and sip some Cava by the pool. Just don’t tell anyone we were there.

 

Satorisan Xamena sandal on Vacation

In Tahiti, we would eat an early meal and wander back to our bungalow in our Satorisan sandals just in time to watch the sunset and the sky change colors.

Who wants to go with us?

Image Credits: Tobacco Barn | Peratallada Castle by MESURA, photo by Salva Lopez | Lovely Evening by Yannick Carbonneaux

Travelogue: 30 Hours in London

Corner of Bulstrode Pl and Cross Keys Cl.

Corner of Bulstrode Pl and Cross Keys Cl.

I usually travel this time of year to a trade show in Milan to buy shoes for our shop in Seattle. When an extremely low ticket to London made its way through my search as an inexpensive way to Europe, and through London none the less, I jumped on it. It had been 15 years since I visited last. I had to go, right? Right!

I should preface this post by saying that I like to shop when visiting cities. I like to get a feel of what is going on and what trends are happening. I consider it my job to shop. This was not your typical 30 hours in London. I did not go to Buckingham Palace, Harrods or Kensington Gardens. Since I had been to these places before, I wanted to experience London as a local shopper. And by George, I did.

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Mondays, Maggie Muses: Venice Beach

Venice Beach PierWe just got back from a warm sunny weekend in Venice Beach, CA. We were there to help a friend celebrate a milestone birthday. It was the perfect opportunity for friends to gather from around the country and enjoy some of what SoCal has to offer. Being a native Californian, it had been awhile since I visited my home state. I was not sure what to expect and I was pleasantly delighted the minute we arrived at this beach town.

Venice Beach

We had so much fun! Venice, or as my skater husband likes to call it “Dogtown”, was charming, eccentric, laid back and exciting¬†all at the same time. From its crazy boardwalk, friendly natives, quaint canals and infamous shopping street, Abbot Kinney, it was the perfect mix of beach town and city life. So, if you ever happen to be in LA, go visit Venice Beach and enjoy the sun!

Mondays, Maggie Muses: A Visit to Nonostante Marras

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, away from the city center, away from the Brera, the Duomo, and the hustle and bustle of a typical downtown corridor lies a magical and wondrous place. Antonio Marras has created a place full of old world charm and whimsy. It is called Nonostante Marras. Translated as “despite¬†Marras”, this shop is where Antonio¬†showcases his RTW clothing line. But the experience is so much more than shopping a typical¬†designer¬†boutique.

entrance antonio marras

nonostante marras exterior

Its humble entry leads you to an open courtyard filled with plants and if you wander for a little bit you will see Snow White and the seven dwarfs standing guard. Glance past the old factory windows, and you get excited at the thought to see what lies inside.

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Milan; the Good, the Sad and the Ugly

Another season, another trip to Milan (sigh). ¬†Wait, that doesn’t sound right. ¬†I promise that it’s not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. ¬†Sure, I go to Italy usually twice a year to work with vendors and factories. ¬†But it’s really hard work. ¬†It’s a long travel day, endless walking, there’s jet lag and other side effects and I’m really only there for 4 nights. ¬†I get up early and start working, so I never really get fully adjusted before it’s time to turn around and go back to Seattle.

But even if my internal clock is backwards and my feet feel like little loaves of bread, I do take time to visit the city of Milan. I take in some sights, find some new places and check in on the old favorites. I have mixed feelings about this last trip to the city, so I am calling this post “the Good, the Sad and the Ugly”.

On this trip, I hit all my appointments and got all the work done and then I had my whole last day free to roam the city. ¬†So I spent the day shopping the windows of Milan, wandering the streets high and low. ¬†I battled the crowds and I meandered on the side streets, I’m getting good at knowing the ins and outs of Milan and I’m a pro at the subway (metro).

Starting with the good:  Milan has so much classic architecture!  I can walk through the Galleria time after time and still amazed. The Duomo is stunning, it bursts high into the sky making me feel minuscule in comparison. I never tire of walking around in this area.  The perfect melting pot of neoclassical architecture with new and modern shops makes for very pleasant window shopping, despite the congestion of locals and tourists.

I have a new favorite fashion store, it’s called “& Other Stories” and they have everything you could want! Jewelry, accessories, clothing and make-up. ¬†It’s like I walked into a fashionable person’s closet, color coordinated and curated by a professional stylist and it’s all very reasonably priced. I am regretting that I passed a little black dress and next time I will have to save my pennies so I can be impulsive.

I live for the boutique windows.  The italians are very creative and I can always count on the shops to have interesting  (and sometimes funny) windows full of inspiring ideas.  I loved the simple yet attractive neon window in a Brera showroom and of course the murdered gnome in the Navigli actually made me laugh out load.

Moving on to the sad, which is led by Chinese imports and an infiltration of big box chain stores. ¬†I was in Porta Ticinese, across the street from¬†from¬†Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio. ¬†This street has always attracted me for it’s historic neighborhood feel and a healthy mix of independent retail. ¬†This time, I was looking at an American Apparel shop and it was disconcerting to say the least. ¬†The indie retailers on this street used to inspire me and now I feel like it’s become homogenized, taken over by the corporations. ¬†I had¬†a similar feeling while staring in the windows of my favorite Milan shoe retailers. ¬†The shops that once sold fine Italian footwear are now full of fast fashion items made in China. ¬†There are stores that I once aspired to emulate, and now they are full of brands that you would recognize from department stores in the US.

Seeing all this saddens me but it also makes me feel grateful too. I feel really blessed that our shop can still offer beautiful handmade shoes and unique goods, because stores like ours are few and far between not only in our country but in Italy as well. Thank you to our customers for shopping with us and demanding quality goods, it’s our passion and we love to bring you all the things we hold dear and love.

Okay, now on to the ugly. ¬†Graffitti, it’s everywhere and seriously out of control! Historic monuments tend to be sacred and yet, anything remotely public domain is covered with paint. Most of it is senseless tagging and there are a few attempts at something artistic but there is so much that I am desensitized and it’s all ugly. ¬†I passed by a shop owner painting over his tagged store front and I thought, “Wow, that’s really great, he is handling the problem head on” and later I realized that the store front was a paint shop. Well, I guess he was obliged, I just hope his paint job will last longer than a week.

To end on a good note, my favorite thing about the city of Milan is its neighborhoods. ¬†Navigli, Centro Storico, Corso Como, Porta Ticinese and the Brera each have their own character and charm.¬†¬†The piazzas, parks and gardens paired with the architecture of the buildings make it a pleasure to stroll and enjoy. Every time I visit, I try to discover a new area but I’m always frequenting my favorites. ¬†Milan is a busy metropolitan area and it may not be the first choice destination for travelers but what I have learned over the years of visiting, if you take the time to get to know the city, Milan has all the excitement and charm of other famed Italian cities, just in a different way.