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#ThatGirlGabri says #Adieu to France

The time has come. I am leaving Paris in favour of a new adventure. My time in Paris has easily been the most rewarding and satisfying time of my life. I have only a few weeks left to express my love for this fabulous, fabulous city. That means … #bucketlist time baby! Caught between school, work there is just so many things I still have to do!

Here is working list of things I just HAVE to do before I leave:

  • Climb things – Everyone climbs the Eiffel Tower (I’ve done it three times now) but I want to take in the city views from other monuments as well. I want to climb the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame to see this beautiful city from every vantage point, so I can remember it just as it is.
  • Eat things – Paris is known for having the best food and pastries in the world. There are so many iconic restaurants I never made time to go to. Jean buttons be damned, I’m about to go in #allthecarbs #allthecakes #godhelpme.
  • Make things – I want to put these delicate and impeccably soft hands to work. Starting with a baking class and perhaps then moving on to painting a la Lost Generation style. Looking at the next Picasso? Most likely not … but lets see how it goes, shall we?
  • Re-see things – I HATE doing things twice. Once I do something, I consider it done and never to be revisited again BUT there are some experiences that I would be a fool not to take in at least one more time. I have already started on this one by going to Reims and Versailles. Pics to follow!

Am I forgetting anything? Write in the comments and let me know!

Stopping to smell the flowers and enjoy my Parisian summer,

xoxo

Gabri

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#ThatGirlGabri & #Squad Takes The South of France

Fresh from a glorious week in the South of France, I am tan, broke and happy as could be. It was a week of sun, rose’ and shenanigans. After months and months locked in Paris, sweating, praying for air conditioning and cursing the general disregard for deodorant in Europe, a trip south was a welcome distraction.  With so many options, planning a vacation is not an easy task. The South Of France offers sea, mountains, a number of different cities all equally fabulous and picturesque. How to decide where to go? Nice? Monaco (technically not France – but ok / why not)? Lavender fields? St. Tropez? All?

All. I chose all.

Here are some highlights, tips and tricks from the week.

Monte Carlo

  • Arrive by helicopter – Just do it. So obnoxious. So glam. So worth it.
  • Nikki Beach – Easily my favourite beach club. Every single time I go to the Nikki Beach in Monaco I have an amazing time. Beautiful people, cold drinks and views for days. It also helps when you stay at the Fairmont so the walk home isn’t too far away.

 

 

Nice

  • Beach Clubs Galore – Nice is so easy to get to from Paris. A short flight , just over one hour, and you can be strolling along the promenade. There is a beach club every few steps but my personal favourite is Castel. Funky decor, set at the very end of the beach with views of the mountain side and ultra chic – it is just fabulous.
  • Old Nice – This is the first time I actually stayed in Old Nice (Vieux Nice) and it is so lovely. Small passages, pastel walls, and antique markets just steps aways from the shoreline. It makes me feel closer to home and so happy.

 

Provence

  • Lavender – A life long DREAM! I was absolutely determined to see the famous lavender fields. I envisioned twirling in a sea of purple flowers and singing from the top of my lungs. In reality, it’s a LONG drive up a lot of small and windy roads and then fighting with the other tourists to get the perfect photo. Just when I started to feel ever so slightly disappointed, we drove past the most picturesque field and I swerved off the road to snap the illusive lavender field photo. #Winning!
  • Wineries – This is the home of all cote de Provence rose’s aka the only rose’s that matter. The grand dame of rose’ wine for me at the moment is Whispering Angel. I was able to arrange a private tour of Chateau D’Esclans, the home of whispering angel and it was a spiritual experience for me.

St. Tropez

  • Bagatelle – Ok. You get it – I LOVE a good beach club. In St. Tropez we tried two beach clubs : Nikki Beach and Bagatelle. Now, I enjoy a good Nikki Beach BUT babyyyyyy Bagatelle St. Tropez is the business! Good food, great wines and cabanas 🙂 AND they allow dogs which for me made it even better.

I loved St. Tropez and I wish I has a whole week there … on a yacht…with staff…just saying…

 

I did this entire trip with my beautiful pug, Mr. Pugsley and fabulous friend Leon which made it even more special! Would go back in a flash and already missing it.

xoxo

Gabri

#ThatGirlGabri Does #PFW2017

I managed the (near) impossible and went to my very first REAL fashion show in Paris! I have been plotting a way into the Parisian fashion scene for years now and finally an unsuspecting press agent took pity on me and sent me an invitation. At first, I thought it was too good to be true and thought it was a mistake. Surely, they had the wrong mailing address. Lo and behold, after closer inspection, I saw my name printed on the most beautiful invitation I have ever received. I could have cried.

The day of the show came, I quietly slipped away from my desk and made a mad dash to Palais de Tokyo. I approached the steps, weaving my way through fashion bloggers, journalists and photographers to the entrance. One final deep breath before I handed my invitation to the security guard. I thought to myself, if he doesn’t let me in now I will die of shame and embarrassment but to my  relief he smiled and showed me in #yaaaaasssssssss.

Once inside, I tried to blend into the waiting and growing crowd. Wearing a simple summer dress and sneakers, I looked a smidgen out-of-place next to a woman in a red moto jacket that had 3ft sleeves trailing behind her and some young men in thigh-high boots and capes.

Finally, after standing around they let us behind the curtains. Bright lights, a maze of seats and the dreaded standing room area. Let’s be clear, I am not a fashion blogger or a press agent or a buyer or even that fashionable to begin with. I should have taken my place in the standing area, snapped a few photos like planned and be satisfied BUT fate stepped in. The show was just about to start and I saw an open space, the Nassau gal that I am jumped and shoved through the crowd to snag it. I took the last open seat and just when I started to feel pleased with myself, the lights and music came on and the show began.

iPhone out and selfies secured, I watched the show in awe. The energy inside the room was electric. Models strutted past me in their looks …SO #chic, SO #avant-garde, SO #fabulous. Just as soon as it started, it was over and my Paris Fashion Week dream came true.

As I get ready to leave Paris, I am so thankful I crossed this off of my bucket list.

 

xoxo

Gabri

Now to start crossing off the rest of the things on my #ParisBucketList. Stay tuned!

Dubai : The Seven Hour Layover

I love Dubai. I have been once before and it was a fantastic experience. The culture, the tall buildings, the desert. It has everything I could ever need or want. On my way back from a fabulous trip to Cape Town, I realised I had a long (very long) layover.

In my mind, that meant I only had one option – go to the spa. I love going to spas, and after a gruelling 10 hour flight, I could use some pampering. I tumbled into the Palace hotel, downtown Dubai with bloodshot eyes and my hair all over. After a week in South Africa, a girl could use a little glamour.

I started with tea and breakfast in the main salon. Sitting in a plush chair, overlooking the pool and winking at the Burj Khalifa next door, I could only smile and pinch myself to make sure this was real.

After, I skipped down to the ladies spa. I had been once before, so throwing open the main doors and slipping into my robe was like a homecoming. I opted for the green tea facial. Days of sunburn and hours of plane travel certainly did a number on my face and I was in desperate need of some TLC. I laid on a table as the lady scrubbed the life out of my face as the candles and flower petals lulled me to sleep.

I left feeling like I was born again and ready to face my next flight. The perfect way to spend a Dubai layover. The only problem is, it might make you not want to leave.

 

xoxo

Gabri

Mandla’s Africa

 

On my last day in Africa, I met a man that inspired me beyond any professor I have ever had. Mandla is a Christian man, a smart man, a grown man. His only crime is being a black man. He lived through apartheid. He lived through oppression. He lived through years of bullshit.

Mandla, a driver, never experienced life. He spoke to me about his regrets. He, a resident of Cape Town, had never been to Boulders Beach, Robben Island or Cape Point.  I spent all day with Manla, the most genuine and kind man I have ever met. Mandla is 46 years old. His life was plagued with racism, hatred and disgust. I spent hours with this amazing man by accident. It was pure fate that I ended up with him. A devout Christian, a hard worker, he spends his days driving people back and forth.  We drove for an hour, to see and experience the coast and go to Boulders Beach for the first time. Smiling jubilantly,  we talked about what we could see there – the African penguins and the beautiful beach. Both of us expressed that this was a dream to be able to go to this place. I ask that he join me to see the penguins, he smiles a wide and genuine smile. We arrive finally. At the arrival gate, he tells me “Miss, I will wait in the car. I cannot afford the entrance fee”. Listen to me, my beloved, the entrance fee is 70 Rand (3 USD). Mandla, a man who had worked his entire life, could not afford to go in. He saw the entrance fee, and his face dropped. He told me the he will wait for me outside. I, for one, do not believe in anyone not living their dream. I paid for Mandla. His smile and his excitement was more than any payment that I have ever received. Our day together was easily the best day of my life.

Always be grateful for the life you live.

xoxox

G

Mama #Africa : That Girl Gabri Goes to #CapeTown

This is for the dreamers, foolish as they are for being brave enough to do what they want to do.

Another year, another birthday. Stuck into the routine of working, avoiding eye contact on the metro and shivering as the winter gusts punch me in my face – I was in need of a total reset. This year I had the opportunity to take a fabulous trip and I chose … *drumroll please*…. Cape Town, South Africa! I have been dreaming of South Africa for years and years. To me it was a different world, a place I would never be able to visit. I am from a small island in the Caribbean, how can little old me ever dream of a place as exotic and far away and magnificent as South Africa?  The experience was one that I couldn’t have imagined. Every expectation exceeded and I have returned humble, inspired and grateful.

I planned this trip for two. Life happens and shit happens and as fate would have it, my plans fell to shit at the last moment. I was faced with the decision to cancel or take a risk and go by myself. I had so many reservations going to Africa alone, as a young woman. I went back and forth for many agonising days and nights. In the end, I told myself that it was an opportunity I could not afford to miss. I am young, I am closer than I will ever be, and I could taste the sea salt and feel the wind blowing in my air already. It was my mother fucking birthday. I just had to go.

I scrambled last-minute to finalize an itinerary and book activities in advance to ensure I was both safe and entertained. My final itinerary is below:

Day One: Arrive Morning – Lay out in the sun (finally!) -Watch sunset from the top of Table Mountain

Day Two: Aquila Game Reserve Safari

Day Three (March 18th): Happy Birthday to me! Massage and High Tea at Mount Nelson Hotel and Spa – Dinner at Nobu (#yumyumyum)

Day Four: Visit Robben Island – Roam the V&A Waterfront

Day Five: Wine Tasting at Constantia Glen Winery

Day Six: See the African Penguins at Boulders Beach – Lunch in Camps Bay [Put one toe in the Atlantic Ocean – fyi… its freezing!] – Depart evening.

Highlights:

Table Mountain – Book tickets in advance at https://www.webtickets.co.za to skip the line and get straight to the top. I went up just in time to watch the sunset and it was the perfect welcome to Cape Town. Able to see the fantastic views and the mixing of purple, pink and blue was magical AND theres is a lovely cafe that offers wines and champers. I feel like it was there just for me. A gift from God himself. I knew at that very moment that it was the best decision I have ever made and I was in the exact right place.

Aquila Game Reserve –  I booked tickets in advance at http://www.aquilasafari.com. The reserve is about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. Going in, this was the highlight of my trip. I was not disappointed at all. Picked up from my hotel, I embarked on this day long journey. We drove to the reserve, along the way passing the beautiful scenery and the not so beautiful scenery of the townships. It was then I started to understand the disparity in lifestyle in South Africa. I drove by as babies and children were subjected to the hardship of living in tin homes in the remote lands. A sobering experience to say the very least. I pondered what would possess people to remain forgotten in the dusts of the city. I later found out the reason when I researched the damaging remnants left from the apartheid government. I arrive to the game reserve deep in thought and in need of wine. A beautiful family of peacocks greeted me for lunch. Lush greenery and infinity edge pool greeted me. The juxtaposition of this grandiose and lavish place in the midst of the dry, empty surrounding lands was awe-inspiring. Cut to the actual safari drive. It was a dream of mine, to go on a safari for as long as I can remember. I saw a number of animals – hippos, white rhinos, wildebeests, springboks, lions, giraffes, elephants, buffalos. Being so close was exciting and it was a day I will always remember. In addition to the fabulous wildlife and views , there was sparkling wine, which is always a plus plus plus for me.

Mount Nelson Hotel and Librisa Spa – The Mount Nelson is a Cape Town institution of sorts. White glove service, high tea and theatrics originating from the 1900s. Entering was a total shock to my system. I went for tea, cake and a massage but my eyes were opened to a way of life that I thought ended hundreds of years ago. The scenery is dreamy, the service is superb but I could not help but notice an unspoken tension. I am mixed race, a mulatto princess if you will, my up bringing was an event I took for granted. I live my life not seeing skin colour as a boundary or an indication of class and wealth. Entering this space was like being thrown back into the hands of time, black women and men working to serve the white guests. I sat confused and a feeling a bit guilty.  Wanting to scream “I am black!” though my fair complexion acts as a disguise. I spoke kindly to my waitress, Thuli, and she realised it was my birthday and brought me a special dessert and hugged me. She said to me I was special and one of a kind. I thought to myself, that my new friend ,Thuli, has not had one kind word said to her in years.

Nobu – The grand mother fucking event. I LOVE Nobu! Nobu for me reminds me of home – of my Nassau rat life and everything I loved to do : fuck around at Atlantis, eat sushi, drink endless ginger martinis. I have been craving Nobu for months and months. This God forsaken city of Paris doesn’t have a Nobu and I consider it a crime against the heavens. Hands down the best meal I had in Cape Town, reunited with my friends : jalapeño yellow tail, beef toban yaki and green tea ice-cream! SOOOOOO good. Like, really… just go.

Robben Island – I had to mentally prepare for this excursion. I am a person who cries rather easily. When I feel injustice of any sort, I react in a physical way via rash, tears or general rage. Visiting Robben Island, you cannot help but think that the British and Dutch of the time were the epitome of evil. I spoke to a man who met Mr. Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela stayed here, in a cell for 18 years, writing his manuscript – against all odds- on a mat on the floor with no shoes or blankets.  My new friend Spock, who is also a former prisoner, told me of the atrocities that took place in this prison. He met Nelson Mandela during a hunger strike in that very prison. He now lives on Robben Island and gives a tour of his former torture chamber three times a day. He is my absolute hero.

Constantia Glen – When I dream, I think of green fields, mountains, ocean breeze and unlimited amounts of wine. Constantia Glen is all of this and more. Never in my life, have I been more pleased to visit a place that understands me. Left alone to eat meats and cheeses while soaking in a view to die for and wine that will change your life. I spent the entire day here not only for the wine but I was absolutely mesmerised by the surrounding beauty.

Boulders Beach – My flight was leaving at 8pm, and I had one full day left in this glorious place. I dreamt about the African penguins and while I’ve seen them in the distance, I needed to greet them personally. The drive from my hotel was  about 45 mins to see them. Worth it. I love exotic creatures of every sort. African penguins were the last thing I needed to see before I left. They are absolutely gorgeous  and I looooove them. Just go. Entrance to Boulders Beach is 70 Rand.

Hotel: I stayed at 52 De Wet, Bantry Bay. This was the best surprise. I was hesitant because it is a small boutique hotel BUT I got so lucky. The staff took care of me in every way possible. The sunset views will change your life. I have nothing negative to report. I will only stay here on my next trip(s).

Tips and Tricks:

  • Book shit in advance – skip the line – Be a pro tourist.
  • Eat at Codfather and Nobu
  • Watch the sunset(s)

 

xoxox

Gabri

The Problem With Dreaming

The problem with dreaming.

What happens when your dreams come true?

I first came to Paris two years ago. I came as a dreamer, excited and full of life. I wanted the adventure of exploring a new city. I wanted to witness the latest fashions trotting down the runway. I wanted to live in the seventh arrondissement and wink at the Eiffel Tower everyday. I wanted to buy fresh flowers from the street market. I wanted to drink wine and champagne for no reason or occasion at all. I wanted to smell the fresh smells of croissants baking as I strolled down the boulevards. I wanted to see operas and ballets. I wanted a simple and beautiful life.

I got all those things and so much more.
I was one of the lucky few. I made a plan to leave everything familiar and comfortable in favor of an adventure. An opportunity to study and think and imagine other possibilities. I came in search of a passion that I so desperately desired. To shed the skin of the person I was.

I’ve lived my years as a traveler.
I’ve lived my years as a flaneuse.
I’ve lived my years as a dreamer.

I earned the degree. I got the job. I found my darling Mr. Pugsley. I filled my life with beautiful things. I’ve had remarkable experiences and seen amazing things.

What could be the problem?

As the lust for exploring goes away and the overwhelming longing for putting down roots takes over, I ask myself ” Where does a girl go from here?”

Home, to the people she cares about ? A new city, for another new adventure?

When that old familiar stirring hits again… as it does every time… it means there is a change coming.

It was my dream to live in Paris – In my beautiful idea of Paris. The reality of Paris is a small cramped apartment with paper -thin walls, deplorable plumbing, meals I can’t afford, a depressing (and smelly) metro commute and working myself to the bone for a few coins a month.

When the dream becomes a reality. The reality ruins the dream.

Is today the day that dreaming ends ?

Hope not.

xoxo

Gabri

 

#Chamonix Calling

Winter holidays mean one thing to me … vacation! After a few days enjoying Paris, it was time to get the hell out of town. I didn’t have time to go to The Bahamas, but a girl needs a little R&R. I thought to myself, “Where can I go that is nearby (yet far away), Insta-worthy, and allows me to pull out my furs?”  All roads lead to Chamonix!  Chamonix is the most adorable town at the base of Mont Blanc. Some go for skiing, some go for hiking, I go for the apres ski! Growing up, I’ve been to Chamonix a few times and it is a magical winter wonderland. The beauty is jaw dropping and the air of the mountains cleanse the soul. Good views, good wine and good food add up to a perfect weekend get away.

Tips & Tricks

  • Easiest way to get from Paris to Chamonix is fly into Geneva and drive to Chamonix. Quick, simple and care-free.
  • This time I stayed at the Rocky Pop Hotel which is brand new and super fun. Crazy decor, cute bartenders and amazing mountain views from the dining area made the stay extra special. The beds are really, really big and comfy too!
  • Try a traditional mountain meal. For me, this means lots and lots of cheese and bread and wine. In Chamonix Centre there are so many options, but the best meal I had was at Le Caleche. Embarrassed to admit how much I actually ate, but it was good. Really good.
  • If skiing isn’t for you (it definitely isn’t for me), that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the mountains! I took the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to the top to experience the most beautiful views at the highest point in Europe. Not sure if it was the altitude, or the cold but I felt close enough to touch the heavens and talk to Jesus (#heyboo). The next day, I took the train to the Mer de Glace – literally translated means Sea of Ice. If you ever felt the need to walk inside an ice glacier like me, it’s a must see. A far cry from the oceans I’m used to, but it’ll do for now.
  • Dress the part. Chamonix is a little snobby and snooty (even more reason to love it). Don’t be afraid. Throw on that extra fur collar, pop into Chanel and have a good time!

 

Still dreaming about Chamonix,

xoxo Gabri

The #Grinch at #TheRitz

364 days out of the year I have no problem skipping through the charming Parisian boulevards all by myself (plus Mr. P). Christmas however, is a different story. Christmas is all about spending time with family, friends and loved ones. For the first time, since my birthday, I felt completely alone and really, really cold. Instead of packing my swimsuits and crocs for a beach holiday, I was bundling up preparing for winter break. Alone in Paris, for the first Christmas ever, I was determined to make the holidays special for one (and a half). Finally on holiday, watching everyone flock home to their families, I couldn’t help but feel lonely and upset. After sending rain clouds to Nassau (If I can’t have fun, no one should!) I made a plan.

December 23rd – I was free at last! (For the holidays…) The first thing I was missing from home was the food. While I am no top chef, I figured I had enough skill to prepare a good ol’ Bahamian macaroni and cheese. After hours of careful cooking and preparation, I managed to prepare a lovely (slightly burnt) meal #whoops.

December 24th – Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve! The tree lights were twinkling, the champagne was chilled and the gifts were wrapped. I had everything set for a lovely night. But first, I needed to squeeze in a little culture thrill. If I had to stay in Paris, I wanted to make sure I visited my favourite place. Opera Garnier is lavish, gorgeous and gold. Very gold! I love a good chandelier or twenty, and I knew I would feel special after an evening of ballet.

December 25th 12am – The clock stuck 12 and Mr. Pugsley and I raced to rip open presents. Keeping a pug away from gifts/ knocking over the tree for three weeks was like a second job. Finally we could dive in and make a little mess, guilt free. Afterward, I fell into a blissful sleep knowing that when I woke up I had a full day of relaxation planned.

December 25th 12pm – Shaking off the champagne haze from the night before, I bust through the doors of the fabulous Ritz Paris Hotel. After all, if you think you are going to cry, might as well cry at the Ritz … right? As soon as I stepped into the lobby, with its marble floors, golden accents and opulent design, the only tears I felt coming were tears of joy. Skipping happily down the steps to the Chanel spa at the Ritz Club, I almost forgot it was Christmas because it felt like my birthday (#sarry Jesus)!  Long story short, the day was an absolute dream. A fabulous massage (in room no.5 – like the perfume)  with plush robe and complimentary cocktails made me feel like a queen.I did a few laps in the pool and thought to myself “Who needs The Bahamas”?  Just when I thought the day couldn’t get anymore perfect, I quickly changed into a flowy gown for afternoon tea. While I watched ladies dripping in diamonds and furs walk by, I was brought trays and trays of sweet treats and warm tea. Settled comfortable next to a warm fireplace, I felt right at home. High off of the sugar and ambiance, I finally started to feel like myself again. Fuck la vie Boehme, the luxe life is for me!

All in all, it was a very merry & ritzy Christmas for me.

Wishing everyday was Christmas day,

xoxo

Gabri

 

 

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