Places I love


I saw this awesome link up on Gina’s blog, called Places I Love. I couldn’t NOT participate.
One of my favorite things to do is go through older photos and reminisce and this is a perfect opportunity. Feel free to join in.

I can’t say I’ve traveled A LOT, but I am very happy with where I’ve been and the turns my life took to get me there. My modeling allowed me to travel a bit, our love for tropical places and islands made sure we explored almost every Caribbean Island out there, my friends from all over the world gave me an opportunity to visit places I would have never gone to on my own.

The places I included on this list are the destinations that I would go back to in a heartbeat or places that I regularly visit or enjoy daily.

So in no particular order:

{Note: All photos were taken by me, except for Courchevel. Some photos OF me might have been taken by my husband}

BARBADOS:

One of my favorite Caribbean Islands. If you’ve never been to the Caribbean , it’s amazing how every single island is SO different and, while it’s hard to pick a favorite, I’ve always had a soft spot for Barbados. I love their British accent and attitude, the most amazing diversity in nature on all 4 sides of the island, its gorgeous Botanical Garden and cageless zoo, it’s southside beaches with their white sand and perfectly teal water, castle like cliffs and  the BEST and most dramatic landscape I’ve ever seen. I’ve been there twice, and planning on going over and over again.

OUR BACKYARD:

I’ve always been a backyard girl. I love fresh air so I always make sure that our backyard area is as pretty and comfy as I can make it (one day I’ll share a picture of our previous home in Jacksonville with the pool and patio area I designed myself). While at Key West, I saw these colorful hammock chairs and just HAD to have them. These hammocks completed our little tiny patio. I do have plans on extending the patio and planting a ton of gardenias and flowers, but for now I’m pretty happy with it. Being outside especially in the winter and spring always makes me feel better.
Note: At this point the patio looks nothing like this, because I am not gardening and  hubby doesn’t even let me go water them ( dirt and pesticides issues), so while the plants are surviving with him watering them sporadically, they’re definitely not blooming or looking like this 🙂 I can’t wait till I can make it pretty again.

MY DESK

We have a full home office, where we both work and I have done a bit to make my space beautiful. Most of the time you’ll see papers all over our desks, credenzas, hutches and floor, but in this photo I managed to get it all cleaned up. I love working and by extension I love my work space. It is so uniquely mine: my Kleen Kanteen, my Canon lens, a Kodak Digital picture frame, my colored pens (lol) and a Disney figurine holding the business cards.

NEW YORK

Oh that place holds a VERY special place in my heart! I’m very grateful that I had an opportunity to live, work and play there ( though I wouldn’t want to live there permanently). I cannot describe the feelings that arise when I just look through my NYC pictures. I had so much fun there, but it was hard being away from my husband. I still remember what it feels like running around downtown always late for castings because my bookers scheduled them too close together, meeting new people EVERY SINGLE DAY, doing shows, going out with friends after shows and getting dinner, going from exclusive restaurants to exclusive clubs, not realizing that people have to stand in line for hours in hopes that they would get it, taking it all for granted, but loving it all the same. I remember freezing my ass off and hoping that I could go home that weekend, but then getting the news that I got booked or put on hold for the weekend and having to buy yet another warmer coat since I moved there with my Florida wardrobe. I remember first snow and how we would all text each other at the first sight of it, I remember sitting in the subway playing TapTap on my iphone, going to Brooklyn and being terrified to walk the streets at night after another fitting or test shoot. I had been to NYC before that, but living and modeling there was something else. It was an amazing time and I will never think of New York the same way.

ECUADOR

Ecuador is a very special place to me. I’ve gone there 3 times to visit a friend of mine: first two times with girlfriends, and the last time with hubby for our anniversary. Each time the experience was different, but unforgettable nonetheless. There’s still a lot to explore in Ecuador though. We hadn’t gotten around to going to Galapagos or to Quito and the famous market, or to the mouth of the Amazon river. We did get a chance to explore Guayaquil and everything it has to offer, we spent a few days in a little known amazing surf town of Montanita that hosts a world surf competition yearly and is known to be one of the world’s best surfing spot by surfers in the know. We spent a week in a beach house on a cliff in a resort town of Salinas, where my husband got food poisoning at 3 am from a beer bought on the side of the road, with the closest normal hospital being 2 hours away (all part of the experience, however I was terrified for him). I love going to Ecuador because of the opportunity it gives me to speak Spanish exclusively without resorting to English. It was also hilarious to witness all the attention we ( the girls)  received from the locals, since super tall, skinny blonde girls don’t really exist in the world of authentic Ecuatorianos. They were all very sweet and welcoming which made the experience even better. ” Buenas Americanaaaaaas!!!” was yelled out wherever we showed up. haha

MIAMI

Less exotic but still special for me. Miami is the place we’d always travel to, when we lived in Ohio. It was the epitome of Floridian tropics for us before we actually lived in Florida. At this point Miami is the place where a lot f my friends live, a few of my NYC friends come to for the season ( those who are still modeling), it’s a place to go clubbing ( the real way), a place to celebrate New Year’s, a place to get away without having to fly anywhere or drive for too long. I love Miami area hotels: Mondrian, the Standard, Delano, Loews, ShoreClub and their mid-day brunches and cook outs. The picture below is one of my favorites, Mondrian Hotel, I stay there whenever I have a chance because they give sweet model rates ( yeah I’m still getting some perks from modeling days lol)

GUEST ROOM

Ok, it might be a little weird but I love hanging out in our guest room. It’s not even close to being finished decorwise ( as isn’t the rest of our house), but the peach walls make me insanely, unreasonably happy 🙂 So I go there once in a while to read or blog or just nap.

DISNEYWORLD

I don’t think this one needs an explanation but for those who have never been ( and I am sorry “once when you were a kid” doesn’t count), it is TRULY a magical place! You do have to go there under the right circumstances to experience the magic the right way ( i.e. not rushing trying to squeeze Magic Kingdom into one day and fly out the next). It’s a place where you feel true happiness, where , as cliche as it sounds, you’re a kid again, where just walking around the parks, taking it in, is all that you need to be content. We live 3 hours away from Disney and we go there any chance we get. Every other year we buy season passes ( we do one year of  Disney, one of Universal) and literally drive up every other weekend. Both my husband and I CRAVE Disney and this pregnancy has been the longest we’ve ever stayed away from the parks.

To be honest, before I made my first visit to Disney I was very skeptical, but I instantly fell in love with it. I’ve had a few friends, who were concerned they weren’t gonna like it, because it’s “for kids” ( Michelle, sounds familiar?) and but as soon as we went there, it became one of the fondest memories they have of being in Florida.

DISNEY RESORTS

For us a part of Disney magic is staying “on campus”. As Florida residents we get discounted rates and sometimes drive up there just to stay at one of the Disney resorts and maybe walk around the parks for half a day. Staying on Disney property is like being in the parks themselves and it sort of brings that feeling of vacation that we no longer get from just going to the parks. At this point, we’ve been to and dined at all the Disney resorts and stayed at about half of them, with my favorite being Animal Kingdom Logde ( when my sis was visiting from Russia with her two kiddos, we booked two rooms there for 2 weeks- it was glorious). It looks like…well… a lodge, an African themed lodge, with balconies and windows overlooking a preserve with all kinds of animals roaming free. We had the giraffe rooms and actually witnessed two giraffes doing the nasty in the rain (lol)
But even the cheapy value resorts are really magical, especially for kids.

UNIVERSAL

Well, no post about places I love can be without Universal Studios Parks ( yeah we’re a little bit crazy about the park thing). It’s our “adult disney”, with coasters and awesome 3D rides and shows. And now that Harry Potter land is there– maaaaan, it just can’t get any better.

COURCHEVEL, FRANCE

Ok, this one is a bit out of left field, since I am a self-proclaimed summer beach girl, but I LOVE skiing. I was first introduced to skiing when I was booked for a job in Courchevel for some hotel. They flew us to Zurich and then we crossed the border to France and drove to Courchevel, a very famous ski resort there ( I later found out it’s very popular with filthy rich Russians-ha!). We shot for about a day and a half and the rest of the week were allowed to ski, sled, and have fun apres ski. I think I was the only one in our group ( there were 4 other girls there) that had never skied before ( cross country doesn’t count- different technique), so I even had a personal trainer ( a HOT Frenchie to boot). I spent the rest of the week skiing non-stop, even when other girls would go back to the hotel. I had bruises everywhere and muscle pain, but I was loving every minute of it. Since that trip I’ve been asking my husband to go there again, but after his first miserable skiing experience in Vail in February, I don’t think that’s ever happening. (I’ll keep working on him). Aside from the area being beautiful and …hello… FRENCH, I absolutely loved the ski runs, the chalet we stayed at was INCREDIBLE ( rents for $100,000/week with a personal chef), the partying could rival New York’s (almost) and come on, it was the Alpes! How much better can that be?

TORTOLA

Ok, back to the beach girl in me!

Tortola is another Caribbean island I’m in love with. I can’t decide whether I like more than Barbados since I’ve been there only once. But that one time left a huge impression on me. It’s the quietest big island you’ll ever find in the Caribbean. People are INSANELY nice, beaches are ABSOLUTELY UNTOUCHED and they didn’t even have traffic lights until 2001. Some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in my life have been on Tortola.

BOK TOWER GARDENS

This is a new favorite place on my list. The gardens are located in central Florida and are  honestly the most beautiful setting I’ve ever seen here in Florida. They sprawl for miles and have gorgeous manicured orange tree gardens and fields with native vegetations, an old mansion, huge oak trees, ponds and lots and lots of color. I did our anniversary photoshoot there and the photos turned out gorgeous (It also helped that since the area is so large, not many people were staring at us with a tripod ad taking pictures of ourselves, like they always do)

OUR BEACHES

While I love going to tropical places and islands, we really do have it pretty good here. The sand, the water, the sunsets ( see below), the palm trees- it’s all a tropical paradise right here under our nose. Whenever I get a chance, I always run to the beach ( used to before pregnancy)

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The place where I live is the place I truly love most. It’s very rare that a person is truly happy with where they live and I can say we both are. There are things I would change, of course, but overall, I ain’t going anywhere. This is it! With its sunsets and laid back attitude, upscale shops, manicured streets, tropical vegetation and flowers all year round, hot sun, liquid sunshine, torrential rains, Tuscan architecture, expensive homes, millions of golf courses, amazing restaurants… I’m a very visual person and this place fully satisfies my need for beauty. After many moves and much research we picked this place and we couldn’t be happier.

Have you been to any of the places above? If yes, what was your impression?

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Stasha
    August 30, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    Lovely for you to join in Elena! Your list is beautiful.
    First of all, congratulations! I voted on the gender pole and now I am so excited to hear about your 20 week appointment. I love your photography and it is great you are sharing your mommy journey with us.
    I have traveled a lot for work but have never been to the exact places you listed. Well apart from NYC, my husband’s home. You sure are a beach girl!
    Skiing is Slovenia’s national sport so I was excited to see you like it too. There is nothing like skiing high up on the mountain, on fresh powder late in the spring, when it is warm. So I will chose that you skiing in France as my favourite entry 😉

  • Reply
    Fabulosokids Bruce
    August 31, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    First of all, you are a FANTASTIC photographer. As a fellow Floridian, I have been to a lot of the places you have posted photos of–you are able to capture what the eye sees and that most of us never get on film or on a memory card. My hat’s off.

    Second, great list. I hope you’ll contribute again!

  • Reply
    Leeka K.
    August 31, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    I love so many of those places! It made me miss you even more, remembering how much fun we had!!!! :))))) <3

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      August 31, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Oh my! Did I just get the ever busy Leeka to comment? You must have really liked the post 🙂 lol
      Miss you LOADS, girl! We’ll see each other soon enough!

  • Reply
    Leeka K.
    August 31, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    AHAHAHAHA! :)) I LOVE all your posts sweetie! I wish I had time to comment more often, but I do read all your posts and it makes me feel more connected to you! MISS YOU! 🙁

  • Reply
    Salena
    August 31, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    I’ve been to Universal (LOVED it) and to Disney World + all the extra water parks and other fun places on the Disney campus. LOVED IT! IT was so much fun. We went years ago since we’re PNW-ers we normally do Disney Land + Cali Adventure (I actually prefer Disney Land to Disney World but its probably because its what I’m used to)

    I’d love to continue to travel with our children and see more of the world with them. We’re actually taking a baby moon to Disney in January. Can’t wait for that! We haven’t taken our son yet. It will be amazing, because like you, I’ve always loved Disney and can’t wait to share that with our children. Even in the ol ‘ute

  • Reply
    Carol
    August 31, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    It’s been awhile since i post a comment here… but i couldn’t let this behind!I’ve never been in any of those places,but i would love to! As i told you,next year I’m going to Disney with my family (FOR THE FIRST TIME) and i’m really excited!Ecuador is a lil close to Brazil,but i’ve never been there (just Chile,Argentina and Paraguay) .
    Oh girl,you should come to Brazil,our beaches are BEYOND gorgeous. I could say to you the best places here ( there’s SOME,i’m not the biggest fan of my country,I mean i would love to live in Europe or North America LOL) Anyway, you could visit Rio,São Paulo and Florianopolis ( my favorite cities) and i could meet you, that would be so crazy insane (!!!) you are like my favorite USA photographer!
    Sorry for this stalker part,you must think i’m crazy lol
    And i have to say something… i CAN NOT BELIEVE people are voting for boy.
    You’re so having a girl. My fingers are crossed for that. I’m just like you I LOVE KIDS, I have two little cousins (boy-age 4 and girl-age 5) and i love to be with them,take pictures and just watch them play. They are so cute! It sounds crazy but when my friends ask me how many children i would like to have,i say with 100% sure 8 (4 boys and 4 girls), and then they say “Oh when you have your first one you’ll change your mind” . I mean shut up,the kids will be mine,who is going to get pregnant is me. That’s NOT your business. hahahahaha
    Sorry for all this thing, i just love to talk. hahahaha

  • Reply
    Tara
    September 1, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Barbados looks amazing!! Would love love love to go there!

  • Reply
    Elle
    September 1, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    I totally agree that Disney is magical, even as an adult. My husband and I went on a Disney cruise to the Mexican Riviera and to Disney World for my parents 30th anniversary this past year. Sometimes people look at us like we are crazy for doing 2 Disney trips in a year (if you count the cruise), but we love it so much. I have heard that Disney at Christmas is magical, so we are trying to figure out how to go while we live in California (about 6 hours from Disney Land) at Christmas before going home to Colorado. It looks like you have been around Christmas. Is it worth it?

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      September 1, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      Disney during both Christmas and Halloween is wonderful. You don’t have to go Christmas week to experience though. They start running all Christmas parades and parties and have the decor up all in November.
      I never got a chance to go to mickeys Xmas party since it’s for kids but judging by how awesome the Halloween party was, it’d definitely be worth buying the extra tickets.
      Hollywood studios (previously MGM) also runs the lights show during Xmas season which is amazing too. And the parks’ parades are Xmas themed which is fun!
      My two other favorite events are flower and garden festival and food and wine festival at Epcot!

  • Reply
    Salena
    September 1, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Elle – I’ve been to Disney Land at Christmas, its SO worth it. Everything is even MORE magical at Christmas. I know its a “slower” ride but Its A Small World is just amazing at christmas.

    I would suggest going during the early part of December though, I’ve been twice during Christmas time, once at the beginning of the month, and once between Christmas and NYE. Its WAY less crowded when school is still in session

  • Reply
    Jenn
    September 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our honeymoon trip to Disney. Awesome place to stay and we had a room looking at the savanah so seeing the animals in the morning was fun.

  • Reply
    Victoria
    September 2, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    This is awesome! I’ve lived and travelled all over the world too, my husband is Norwegian and we met there. I made a similar post with all my travels here if you are interested

    http://www.adventuresinmommyhood.net/2010/07/where-are-you-from.html

  • Reply
    Erica
    July 4, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I loove Montañita! I went on a little surf trip along Ruta del Sol after studying abroad in Galapagos. I stayed with some friends in Guayaquil too. i never made it to Quito, either, though. Ecuador is amazing. But shh! don’t tell anyone. 😉

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