Kirsten Alana (@kirstenalana) — conscious & sustainable stories of connection, of city breaks & nature escapes • NYC to LA transplant with @dante.vincent • ask before using my 📸
Do you like 🐝? Believe they’re important? 🐝 I sure do! . That’s another reason why I loved @fairmontwaterfront - where there are two rooftop gardens. One is the domain of the F and B program's Executive Chef and as such changes at the whim of whomever holds the position. This is where the hotel's composting occurs. It’s not just a PR stunt, it’s very important to the hotel. . The second organic garden, and its apiaries, were designed in partnership with Candace Campo of Talaysay Tours who I talked about a few posts back. This features indigenous plants and 🌼 that will serve as a source of food for 🦋, hummingbirds, 🐝 and other pollinators. Both gardens act as a home for the property's beekeeping program in partnership with Julia Common of Hives for Humanity and this is where I think Fairmont Waterfront truly sets itself apart. Hotel employees take an active part in the Hives for Humanity program at the property and take the knowledge the gain from working with Julia back out into the community to educate and inspire school children in British Columbia. As I understood it, not quoting them, they’re hoping to develop an entire generation of kids who are more passionate about beekeeping and bees than their parents before them. Not only that, but hotel staff take the beeswax produced in the rooftop hives and make candles for use inside the hotel. The honey is used in the F&B program or lovingly sealed in jars and given to guests. . It goes so much further than the standard hotel beekeeping program that it’s my humble opinion the rest of the industry should be coming to learn from Fairmont Waterfront. And as a traveler who gets to choose where to spend my money, and thereby what I support, I’ll be choosing to support Fairmont Waterfront and properties like it whenever I can! 💚 #fairmontwaterfront#fairmontmoments
From the minute I sat down at Edible Canada for a dinner hosted by Fairmont Waterfront, to the minute I finished the brunch that I returned for, and paid for on my own, days later - I sensed something very different about this bistro on Granville Island and the greater brand that is Edible Canada. All I knew is this wasn’t like anything I’d experienced before. Through my travels I’ve seen that not as many people as you think know how to make what is essentially simple food in a REALLY GREAT way. A way you remember forever, and crave often. But that’s what’s happening at Edible Canada. It started with a culinary concierge service by Chef Eric Pateman in 2005. It’s expanded thus [in words from their own website]: . “Our vision is to make a national food community which helps define Canadian cuisine and generates a strong sense of food culture. Through learning, collaboration, celebration, story-telling and food experiences, our mission is to support the growth of Canada’s culinary collective, creating more opportunity for all those who help shape the face of Canadian food. In 2010, only 5 short years after the company was founded, [what was Edible Vancouver and then Edible British Columbia] became Edible Canada, opening up a full-service bistro all while integrating [Eric’s] retail concept and food tours. Eric’s vision to support local, sustainable food systems and to introduce the public to the very best Canadian culinary artisans was realized. Edible Canada has been driven by the question- what is Canadian Cuisine? – and we have since come to define it as ‘local, sustainable & seasonal ingredients in the hands of many cultures’. From wild mushrooms to seafood and birch syrup to bison, Canada’s vast selection of natural ingredients bring feelings to flavours by infusing the cultural elements of our people’s past, present and future. It’s our continued goal to share and explore this further. In everything we do today, Edible Canada is celebrating and representing Canadian cuisine with collaboration and sustainability in mind. [...] always searching for the best of what is local, sustainable, seasonal and uniquely Canadian.”
In all my trips to Vancouver before this latest one, I'd somehow never been to Granville Island nor had I discovered the adorable ferry service that is the Aquabus. The staff at Fairmont Waterfront suggested I experience both on a day without scheduled activities, so I did return on my own. And I'm so glad I did! This small fleet is a family-owned business in operation in Vancouver since the 1980s. At least one of the tiny boats now runs on electricity instead of gas which makes my 💚 extra happy. (I hope they convert more!) And the branding that wraps around the boats, reminiscent of the vintage album covers and movies I grew up with, was so cute I couldn't help but smile with childlike wonder as I took the ferry from the island all around False Creek. The sweet teenagers, Keenan and Angus, who were captains on my Aquabus were so amused by my level of fascination with it all and that made it more fun for me as I realized a life lesson. Too often, the things that are normal or typical for me lose their luster because I thrive on change and newness. I’m sure I’ve been like Keenan and Angus many a time as I wondered why a visitor to where I lived found something to love in what I view as merely normal. Being purposeful about not losing appreciation for what's close to home, would help me be a better steward of what I‘m given. . Aquabus is open every day but Christmas for residents of Vancouver and visitors alike. A portion of the fleet accommodates wheelchairs, bicycles and those desiring to commute via water. Dogs are encouraged if you’re a pet owner. Cash is the only payment accepted on board but you can get tickets with a card on Granville Island. . And in case I didn’t make it clear already, this is definitely an activity I’d recommend the next time you visit Vancouver! 😉⛵️
When I read or watch the news lately, I become more and more convinced that so many of our problems have to do with our fear of connection or our misunderstanding of it. In our desire for our own safety or that of our family and loved ones, I think we fear being connected to others who aren’t like us and we fear new connections because of all the unknowns. . I get it. I can be prey to fear too. Especially of connection. I tend to push people & things away before they can end up doing the same to me. . But when I was in Vancouver recently, I began to think of the word in entirely different terms as I explored the city from Granville Island to Stanley Park and beyond courtesy of the staff at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. Their hearts are BIG and their desire for us to learn was immense, matched only by my own as the days wore on. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. . From Candace Campo, of Talaysay Tours, how her roots go deep into the earth of what is now known as Stanley Park but which was her ancestor’s home for a certain part of every year; how important Cedar Trees were to them and how even now there are still plants we can use if we learn how and what to look for. She shared how a deep connection to the Earth and to all those who came before her informs her choices and her actions now. She exuded more grace, kindness and wisdom than in anyone else I’ve ever met. . And we met Mr. Bannock, aka Paul Natrall- a second generation chef, who has adapted his family’s culinary traditions into a food truck format so that he can travel all around the city of Vancouver to serve up plates overflowing with love. . Then it was on to Museum of Vancouver and the Bill Reid Gallery to understand Indigenous culture and history through tangible things like jewelry, baskets, hats... art. I was moved to silence by the Haida Gwaii exhibit which is on view till April 2020. Then stunned by the sheer mastery of the skill of Jaad Kuujus, aka Meghann O’Brien, and her intricate weaving on display alongside Bill Reid and others from the past who inform her work today. . These experiences made me think of connection in an entirely new light.
So that Vancouver storyline I wanted to continue was delayed by a stolen iPhone and all kinds of adventures of late.... . But as promised, I wanted to finish posting about my latest trip to Canada, hosted by @fairmontwaterfront. It’s now one of my favorite hotels in the world because of how community oriented it is and how environmentally sound their practices are. No one is perfect but they’ve set a new standard for me in how I wish more hotels would be. I’ve published an extensive review and photo essay on my photography site, see the link in my profile for that story. But spoiler alert, it includes two rooftop gardens, one beekeeping operation, compositing and partnerships with the local Indigenous community... . #FairmontMoments#FairmontWaterfront#VancouverBC
As 2018 draws to a close and I start to think about what I want for 2019, I realized that one theme comes foremost to my mind over and over again. CONNECTION. It’s a theme that begs for more inclusion in my day to day life when I am not traveling, where long episodes of alone time at home can be very isolating. It’s a theme that is threaded through the quilt of my travels as I feel drawn to the moments that connect me to others with more depth than a merely photogenic vista inspires. It’s a concept that informs my beliefs on how we as human beings should treat one another since I do not believe any individual is an island onto themselves. . And it’s the reason I enjoyed visiting @fairmontempress because it’s a historic property that fosters connection; to the past which was so deeply connected to Great Britain in the time of Queen Victoria, to the future of the city of Victoria which is the capital of British Columbia, to the people who have visited in the past and the people you visit the hotel with in the present. . It’s so apparent in @QattheEmpress which is both a bar and a restaurant following the recent 60 million dollar restoration of the 110-year-old property; with the property’s unusual “purple gin” that is an homage to the past while being so modern and funky (even color changing once it’s in a drink!). And with @TeaattheEmpress where generations of men, women & children of all ages and from so many destinations around the world have taken part in that most traditional of food-related activities - Afternoon Tea. However, I found the idea of connection to be present in my Suite as well, in the rooftop garden that the property’s Chefs use and the Fairmont Gold Lounge where fire pits, couches and beautifully appointed common areas invite you to stay a while and relax with friends, new or old. . More on this in my forthcoming blog post! But next it’s onward to the @FairmontWaterfront where their environmental initiatives simply blew me away. #HostedBy#FairmontMoments
Let’s go traveling shall we? Coming up next: stories from Canada, Switzerland and Italy! . And since we’re talking about traveling, what countries would you like to see me feature in 2019? . Thank you @dante.vincent for suggesting this date night to LAX. I wonder if all couples like to go plane-spotting as much as we do...
🥑 toast start to the week. Let’s do this! . There’s so much of my life now that I wouldn’t want to change, so much of who I am today, that I owe to travel. Probably chief amongst those, and my family can attest to this, is that I used to be a really picky eater. I mean I would have died from malnutrition if I’d been allowed to continue eating the way I once wanted to eat. But when I began traveling and discovered foods I’d never had in the USA, tried textures I’d never even imagined and found myself experiencing flavors I couldn’t get enough of - my whole opinion on food changed. So did the way I now eat. And while avocado toast isn’t unusual in Los Angeles or New York City — quite the opposite in fact — it certainly would have been to the person I was before I became a traveler. . I still have a lot to experience, and learn from, which is why I won’t ever stop traveling. Because I genuinely believe to my core that travel can change us for the better. Maybe it’s one new vegetable or dish at a time, maybe it’s more...
It seems like just a few weeks or months ago, not a whole year, that I was standing in this spot taking this photo with my mum. I was still a resident of New York and she’d come to visit me, before we boarded a flight to Europe together for a river cruise of the festive cities along the Danube. I could hardly breathe without feeling pain it was so cold (as I remember it) but Central Park was still in the grips of a beautiful autumn blanket. Trees were the colors of a bag of Starburst if you only had cherry, orange and lemon left. Holiday windows were already causing lines of tourists to jam up Fifth Avenue. I had to buy a hat from one of the street vendors because my ears were so cold I thought they’d fall off if I didn’t cover my head. The scent of roasting chestnuts mixed with the odor of the horses, the taxi exhaust, the grit that just is New York’s smell. I didn’t feel grateful to be living there anymore. I felt ready to leave. . But I didn’t have a clue that in less than 6 months from that day my life would be spread around in boxes across multiple states. Or that a year to the day I’d be sitting on a balcony in Los Angeles in a t-shirt as hummingbirds zoomed by my head, pausing to drink from the flowers I’d planted on my balcony. . Adults used to tell me when I was a kid “be careful squirt, time flies;” in that vaguely condescending way only adults speaking to kids can, and I hated it. . I think I’ve only just realized what they really meant.
What’s a more natural high than even the best cup of coffee and a bigger boost to self esteem than any award or compliment? Confidence, that comes from within!! . Real talk: It’s not something that comes easy to me. I’ve dealt with poor self esteem for my whole life. There are solid causes for it that make it something I’ll always struggle with. I also know that the times I can work through it positively, finding ways to overcome from a place within myself — those are the good days. . Few things help that happen more than being able to do something I LOVE that I’m also good at. #Drive2Learn included the opportunity to spend a day @BMWPerformanceDrivingSchools on the test tracks, living out my fantasy of being a race car driver for a few hours. Something I’m good enough at to earn a spot in the top 3 at the end! Something I truly adore because it feeds a part of my soul which longs to be free or for even just a second, to experience no limits. At the very least to push the speed limit and cross 100, 120 miles per hour. I can’t put into words how exhilarating it is and even more so when you know how to handle a car well enough to do it without fear. . If you’re like me, especially my fellow ladies, I urge you to give this a try here at the track in Cali or one of their others. The instructors are superb, their safety standards are top notch. So whether it’s your first time racing or you’ve had experience before like me, with their setup, it’s an experience that will have you feeling 💯 more empowered and confident than you did when you walked in. . And bring a partner like @tomikatalks who was THE BEST! 🏁 http://bit.ly/2NEhJLn
Like I said with my recent photo of the vintage Beetle, @vw has been a part of my life as long as I’ve been alive. So I was glad to be assigned the 2018 Passat GT V6 to review during #Drive2Learn with @agirlsguide2cars. . It’s an emotional connection that draws me to Volkswagen vehicles and I have a deep affection for VW in every aspect be it their graphic design and branding to the look of the vehicles and the colors they come in. I admit I’m not exactly an unbiased opinion! 🤷🏻♀️😂 So perhaps it’s no surprise, I give this special edition Passat 👍🏼👍🏼. From the red GT detail on the front grille & exterior trim to the technology package to the heated seats and the way it handled as I accelerated on a fully open road — this car felt GREAT to drive. It behaved less like a four door sedan and more like a larger sports car; playing nicely into my need for speed that I’m always trying to balance with safety. And safety features it does have in abundance. . I also loved how easily it, like other VW models, connected to @apple CarPlay. Though the one thing I would have improved upon if it were my vehicle to own, would be a slightly bigger monitor so the system is easier to read at a glance while driving. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about that this time around because I had @goricegirl as my co-pilot driving from Palm Springs back home to Los Angeles. . At less than $30,000 MSRP, I’d walk in and buy this tomorrow if I was serious about owning a car right now. It certainly would be a nice thing to have here in California with so many open roads I’m longing to explore!! Then again, there’s also the last ever Beetle calling my name... either way, this conference proved that though I might flirt with other car brands, it’s VW that I always come home to 😉❤️
One of my favorite things about living in California, is how many different kinds of adventures I can have in my own home state. For instance it felt like a mini Mediterranean getaway when I joined @agirlsguide2cars at @miramonteresort for #Drive2Learn recently. #sponsored . With so many olive trees and a bit of Italianate architecture, it had me reminiscing about past trips to Italy. We also did test drives in the brand new Lexus UX 200, the Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet convertible and the VW Passat GT V6. And there were classroom sessions with women who absolutely blew me away in their savvy ability to make a living doing something most people only dream of. I’ve known the founder of A Girls Guide to Cars, @scottyreiss, for a while now and it was amazing to get to spend quality time with her exploring a subject she’s so passionate about. . I also loved getting to know @hejdoll (who kindly took the first photo in this carousel of me on our last day), @tomikatalks & @stacieinatlanta who I drove to Palm Springs with from Los Angeles, @goricegirl who I drove home with and had the most life changing conversation with... and so many more, PLUS reconnecting with @luxurytravelmom who has also recently moved to California from the East Coast. . I’m grateful to the car companies for partnering with us, Miramonte and @visitgreaterps for hosting such a great group of women that I am so excited to hopefully work more with in the future and to Scotty for having a vision of women in the car industry that is so inspiring. 🚙