PUERTO LÁPICE

Along the historic Madrid-Andalusia route lies this little blue gem of a town - a lapis lazuli, if you may. In the olden days, there were not many places travelers could stop for food and shelter on their journeys, but Puerto Lápice was one of them. Like those travelers, we too made a quick stop here for a meal as we left Madrid and began our tour of Andalusia and Toledo. Today, this quaint place is renowned not only for its striking cobalt accents on white buildings, but because of the fictional adventures of Don Quixote. Written in the 16th century by Miguel de Cervantes, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha is considered a founding work of Western literature. On one of Don Quixote's adventures, he was psuedo-knighted after he mistook an inn for a castle... And that inn is believed to be the Venta del Quijote, where we were having our breakfast and coffee.               Shot in Puerto Lápice, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Photo assistance - Claudia Naomi Wearing: Zara - T-shirt // Topman - Shorts // Bershka - Sneakers // Céline - Audrey...

LOST IN MADRID

In the three sweaty days spent in Madrid this summer, I came to the not-so-groundbreaking conclusion that I'm a city slicker. Always have been, always will be. Madrid lacked the usual features of a place I'd typically fall in love with, but I was drawn by the magnetic charm of a big city. And what a city, so unapologetically metropolitan. Characteristic of a capital, Madrid bustles at full force, vibrant with life, at any given time of day. And night. People who proclaim New York as the city that never sleeps perhaps have not seen the state of affairs along Gran Vía. Whenever I'm in Madrid, I never feel displaced. I fit right into the hustle. It definitely does not feel like home either, but a strange familiarity looms overhead while, for example, I walk through Puerta del Sol, or indulge in some dessert and coffee at an industrially rustic cafe. Madrid is comfortable enough to make me forget I'm on vacation (I'm still unsure if that's a good or bad thing). My take is to not be afraid to let your instincts* guide you. The best way to experience this city is to get lost in her. Repeat after me, kids. Get. Lost. Get lost in the history of her museums and galleries. Get lost in the beauty of her oases. Get lost in the elegance of her streets. Get lost in the intoxication of her food**. Take it slow and approach your holiday with no rigid agenda. Except for San Ginés. The best chocolate y churros must always be on the agenda. Always. Thou shalt not resist.             Photo assistance - Claudia Naomi Wearing: Zara - Shirt, jeans // Bershka - Shoes     * Hopefully it does a better job...

BRIGHTON

 A couple of weeks ago, me and some friends spent a day in the seaside town of Brighton. For some strange reason beyond me, I had always expected it to be a moody, gloomy and grey place. Foggy and drizzly images of Brighton are all I recall seeing in popular media. As soon as my friends and I stepped out of the train station that morning, all my expectations were shattered. Not that I was complaining. Sunshine is always welcome - especially at this time of year, when the days are getting shorter and shorter. The rest of our time was spent exploring hipster streets, eating some of the most amazing seafood ever, people-watching on the pier, trying to start a campfire by the beach after sunset, flinging pebbles into the air and hunting for coins on the ground, just to have some cheap thrills at the arcade. It really was one of those perfect, carefree days. If you don't count the train ride from hell on the way back, that is. Nonetheless, Brighton, I will definitely be seeing you again. Thank you for being so beautiful....

PINK DUST

Very often something as simple as a sound or sight can fire up long-forgotten childhood memories, sending me into the past to relive that moment. Take the clack of a trotting horse. As soon as I hear it, my very first memory flashes before my eyes, as vividly as a movie. Everywhere I look, I see white. Snow, I presume. Snow on the roads, snow on the trees, snow on the mountains. Even the sky is white. I am moving forward, with an icy breeze in my face. My attention is devoted to the blur of dark figures that I pass by, but I soon realise that I'm in fact sitting on a horse. A white horse. Eventually I tire out and slowly place my head against the back of his neck, burying my stubby fingers into his mane, tightening my grip. And then my memory too fades out into white. My mother, skeptically, tells me I couldn't possibly remember this since it happened when I was only a year old, on a trip to Murree. Perhaps she's right, with infantile amnesia and all. The sound of crows cawing immediately makes me break out into a sweat. I'm transported back to the balmy month of June, at some undistinguishable age, lying on the floor of my grandmother's home in Karachi. The air is still. I take slow, deep breaths. The marble floor does its best to fight off the heat that's gripping my body as I stare through a netted window at the dust covered leaves of a black plum tree, the crows fooling around beyond the tree, and the black kites soaring like kings even further away in the heavens....

MILANO

            Despite the naysayers who insisted that my first time in Italy should be somewhere "nicer" (like Venice or Rome),  I decided that a visit to Milan completely warranted my time - so I spontaneously booked my flights and the rest was history. In the land where culture meets commerce, you'll find hidden treasure on every street, between iconic landmarks and esteemed establishments. It was four days of wandering on foot (with the occasional Metro ride here and there), experiencing Milanese flavours, and falling in love with a culture full of romance. Here are some snaps from my time there and a list of places you really ought to visit. 1. Duomo di Milano 2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 3. Potafiori - more on that here 4. Museo Poldi Pezzoli 5. Palazzo Morando Attendolo Bolognini 6. Pasticceria Marchesi 7. 10 Corso Como 8. Pinacoteca di Brera 9. Navigli district 10. Gelateria le Colonne 11. Parco Sempione 12. Museo delle Culture 13. Fondazione Prada 14. Piazza Gae Aulenti 15. Al Coniglio Bianco  Photo assistance - Aditi Dhanu   Look 1: & Other Stories - Shirt // Zara - Jeans // Givenchy - Patent Oxfords // Prada - Sunglasses // Topshop - Denim jacket, with 'fixated' embroidery by Hand & Lock Look 2: & Other Stories - Shirt // Acne Studios - Trousers // Givenchy - Patent Oxfords, scarf // Moschino - Bucket bag Look 3: M&S Collection - Double cuff shirt // Zara - Flared trousers // Topshop - Denim jacket, with 'fixated' embroidery by Hand & Lock Look 4: & Other Stories - Shirt // Vintage - Linen chinos // Bottega Veneta - Leather weave bracelet // Prada - Sunglasses...
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