Kirsten Alana | los angeles (@kirstenalana) — travel photographer & storyteller || city breaks, nature escapes, luxury, sustainability, art & culture || NYC -> LA with @dante.vincent
The first evening of my hosted trip with @kintravel & @action4ifaw (that you can book for Aug or Sep) in Provincetown — set the tone for a trip that feels actually life-changing when I look back on it now. 🌿 We all met at, the idyllic and so East Coast, Salt House Inn where immediately after check in we dove right in to meeting each other and learning about how IFaW works on Cape Cod and around the world in an open air lounge avec adorable minty VW 😍 which #kintravel had set up to be all ours for the weekend. Names were exchanged, stories were shared and we found out we’d be spending time the next day with the IFaW team that looks after the Cape’s dolphins, seals and whales when they are beached or stranded, caught in wire and fishing lines or in other need of rehabilitative care before being released back to the wild. 🐬 Then it was time to bike down and up Provincetown’s leafy streets, past whitewashed houses and #pride flags to the Cape Cod National Seashore for aperitif at Golden Hour followed by the most majestic sunset I’ve seen so far this summer with just the hint of a moon hanging low in the sky feeling like a flirtatious sign from the universe of the magic and wonder still to come.... 🌙 It was all stunningly captured by @valoriedarling who is as sweet as she is mega talented. This enabled us all to put down our own cameras and relax into the learning, the life change and the loveliness of a summer weekend on the Cape. Though I did snap the very last photo of sunset because when the sky looks that good, I always have to have a photo of my own for posterity. 🌅 Tomorrow, I’ll take you with us as we meet the amazing IFaW staff stationed on Cape Cod and try our hand at saving a dolphin or two...
I’m so excited to start a new series of stories this week about a press trip I took to Provincetown, Cape Cod two weeks ago already (how in the world does time fly this fast?!) because it’s such a strong example of good news occurring in the USA (when that seems in shorter and shorter supply these days) and because it’s a topic that’s very close to my heart. This is a story about @action4ifaw and the incredible things they’re doing on this planet to improve conditions for animals, people and this planet we all call home. . IFaW partnered with @kintravel to give us a sneak peek at a trip they’re partnering to offer two times this year in August and September and OH MAN DO I WISH I could giveaway a spot on one of the two trips. But I’ll be sharing more about the trip itself and how you can book it, as well as an incredible video that will show you what the experience is like even better than still photos ever could! I’m excited to tell you more about it starting tomorrow. . And just so I’m being beyond transparent - IFaW and Kin invited me hoping I’d have a good experience and tell you about it. But neither are requiring me to nor are they paying me to. I’m sharing my experience with you because I believe strongly in what both brands are doing!! 💛 . . . #kintravel#peopleandplanet#pushforprogress#action4ifaw#ifaw#capecodma#provincetownma#visitmassachusetts#vintagepostcards#traveldeeply#capecod#postcardfrom#sonyalpha#discovertheusa#visittheusa
In another of my @stellerstories from this hosted trip with @tourismireland - I talk about the best cocktails & dinner we had in Belfast. . The cocktails were enjoyed at @grandcentralbelfast’s Observatory Bar which has amazing views of the city in addition to craft cocktails that had @davyj0nes & I wondering how many times was too many to return for the exact same cocktail in one trip.... You’ll just have to check out my Steller story to see which cocktail I’m referring to. And for those that want to choose for themselves, the Observatory had something I’ve never seen before at a bar - a visual representation of where all their cocktails fall on the scale from sweet/floral to sharp/warming and from low to high alcohol content. . The second photo I took as we walked back to our hotel from dinner at Hadskis. I’ve tagged Chef @niallmckenna so you can see all his restaurants but I recommend not skipping Hadskis no matter what you do. His Cauliflower and Truffle Humous dish was so extraordinary I actually considered licking the plate when it was done. And if I’d had any room left, or been alone, I would have ordered a second helping! They also had wonderful cocktails and a very good wine list. Plus it’s a cozy place ideal for a long evening with friends. . Both experiences helped me see Belfast in a new light. When I was 12, during “The Troubles,” my mum and I were caught in an IRA bomb scare in a London tube station the fright of which I can still recall if I close my eyes. And that organization dominated the news I saw about Belfast growing up in the USA. Still no place should be relegated to just headlines and Belfast is a great example of that. I don’t mean to minimize the pain of the past or to dishonor those who suffered and might still suffer on all sides. What I do want to communicate is that I actually had someone message me after the first time I mentioned Belfast to ask, “OMG is it even safe to visit?!” And yes. It is! It is more than its headlines - past & present. So much more. I loved the city! I’d like to go back one day to learn even more! ❤️ #discoverni#visitbelfast#northernireland#belfastireland#loveireland#thenewsteller#stellerstories
Are you familiar with the Slane Castle concert series in Ireland? I was but it took me half an hour on the grounds during my hosted trip to Ireland with @stellerstories before it occurred to me that we were at THAT Slane Castle!! And then what fun it was to remember seeing such acts as U2, Queen, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen performing at Slane via television from the USA when I was younger or on YouTube videos years later. U2 have even performed three times at Slane since the concert series began in 1981. . But concerts aren’t all there is to enjoy now at Slane. In 2015 Brown-Forman acquired Slane Castle Irish Whiskey and converted the former stables (shown here) of the Castle — commissioned by Henry Conyngham and designed by Capability Brown — into Slane Distillery. In the horse stalls there is now a cozy cafe with artisan coffee bar. An attic-style space with ancient wood beams is now the Heritage Room. The @officialslanecastle website says that “The Conyngham’s are originally a noble Scottish family, and settled in Ireland in 1611 in Co. Donegal. There has been an active association between the Conynghams and the Slane Estate dating back over 300 years….” Now on the land adjacent to where The Battle of the Boyne took place, that might have inspired the legend of King Arthur or at least is connected somehow to Merlin and which was home to Druids and legends aplenty - they are making triple casked blend Slane Irish Whiskey. We were able to taste some during our distillery tour that took us through the heritage room, barley room, cooperage, maturation warehouse, pot stills and production areas before concluding with a tasting. Though I’ve always preferred Scotch…. I did enjoy Slane’s whiskey! I also love that they source wood for barrel-aging in a way that ensures the health and longevity of forests as part of a sustainable manufacturing process. . One of my favorite Stories that I’ve created on Steller about this trip to Ireland, is about the distillery tour. I’ll link to it in Stories here so you can learn more. I recommend leaving enough time in your visit to tour both the distillery and the 🏰 #slanedistillery#slaneirishwhiskey#slanecastle
The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland includes the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, the Dark Hedges and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. We did them all in one day on our hosted tour with @StellerStories. And we also went up in the air to see the coast by helicopter. . I don’t recommend packing all this into one day but I do think you should see all of the above! I hope that Northern Ireland will be able to balance the effects of tourism with the need for the earth to be protected because it would be such a shame for this area not to be preserved for future generations. . The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and it’s been thought to exist in some form or another for 350 years or more. Salmon fisherman once used it to go out further and get closer to the salmon during the season that ran from June to September but by 2002 there were not enough salmon to sustain a fishing industry and the area came under the protection of the National Trust. You can cross the bridge for a fee but I found the real draw was just the area as a whole; the geology of which is stunning, with water so blue it looked like the Caribbean through my polarized sunglasses. . Not far away, much of the Giant’s Causeway is also managed by the National Trust. It mirrors the basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave on the isle of Staffa which are said to be the other half of a bridge built by Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill so he could fight Scottish giant Benandonner. There’s a lot of variety in the middle of the story from what I’ve read but it almost always ends with Benandonner fleeing back to Scotland and destroying the Causeway as he went. . It was easy to see why this area is so popular and why Game of Thrones filmed at the Coast. The natural beauty vividly called to mind for me the mythical stories and fairy tale books that I buried my nose in as a kid! . #loveireland#bestofireland#discoverni#discoverireland#nationaltrustni#wondermore
Kindness and thoughtfulness aren’t always what I think of first when I remember hotel experiences. Though maybe more properties should strive for that. We certainly need more of both in the world!! Regardless, that’s exactly what you’ll find at @bushmillsinn where we were hosted during my trip to Ireland for @stellerstories (have you seen all the new Stories they published? Yesterday they featured one of mine about Dublin). . Bushmills is a boutique hotel on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland that’s subtlety luxurious. Unconventional but exceptional. They put up the American flag specifically for us on the day of our visit to acknowledge and celebrate us. They served us a delectable lunch of clearly homemade soup and a large variety of sandwiches with cold cider that were so welcome during a packed day of sightseeing and gave us time to discover all the snug corners, cozy libraries, and lovingly restored yet also now modern facilities. The richness of its history from the 1600s as a coaching inn felt somehow completely in tune with modern amenities like an intimate cinema that shows the latest blockbusters on Thursday nights complete with real movie theater popcorn. . Bushmills is in a village home to purportedly the world’s oldest distillery and is right on the banks of the River Bush. It felt more than any other lodging I experienced during this trip, like the perfect epitome of true Irish hospitality so I had to mention them. If you’re exploring Northern Ireland, I hope you’ll give them a visit for an overnight stay or at least lunch. . And for more from Ireland, check out my Stories on Steller which include the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. . . . #loveireland#discoverni#northernireland#bushmillsinn#irelandsbluebook#bestofireland#bestlovedhotels#boutiquehotels
I try to be a person who is representing destinations in a positive way because there is absolutely a correlation between places being popular on Instagram and then suffering negative effects of over-tourism. There doesn’t seem to be enough concern about that reality as a whole and all too often (i.e. weekly if not daily) I get press releases about places that are “Instagrammable” while nothing at all about the food, culture or people is even hinted at. . While I try to be different, and still have a long way to go, most of the work trips I go on create a situation where it’s too difficult to get anything more “that photo” and the barest idea of the value of a place, never mind enough time to talk to people in depth. And since I’m so often in a position where work travel is all I have & there’s no budget to go on the kind of trips I would personally value and learn from, the cycle continues. Still I’ll always prioritize trying to encourage responsible tourism in my own life and in others. . So it was with The Dark Hedges which I did love seeing in person because it truly is a beautiful road; but which I only saw, and learned nothing about. I struggled with whether or not to even post about it just like I struggled earlier this year with whether or not to post about the poppies in California. . I decided to publish these photos I guess so that I could ask that if you are going to visit when you’re in Northern Ireland - please take the time to do more than just get a photo. Please meet some locals, spend some money in the local businesses. Be respectful. Follow the parking signs and take the time to do the whole walk. Don’t damage the natural habitat of these gorgeous trees. Enough of them have died already because this spot became so well known by people who were irresponsible visitors. Be part of the change we need so the places we’ve come to love will survive & thrive. Let’s work to ensure travel is something which changes us for the better not just gives us pretty photos 🙏🏼❤️ . . . #loveireland#discoverni#northernireland#thedarkhedges#wheregotstarted#gameofthrones#thisissustainable#sonyalphafemale
If you could live anywhere, where would you live? (Assuming it’s different from where you live now.) . I’d probably move to rural France or Scotland tomorrow if I could. And one of the reasons - though there are many - is because I love the modest homes that you find in both. (And in Ireland, England and Wales to be fair.) They’re not always practical for today’s lifestyle but if everything was equal and practicality somehow wasn’t an issue then give me a stone, timber or thatched-roof cottage any day! 😝 I love them. 🥰 I don’t entirely know why. I just know that I see them & I think that’s HOME. . That might be why I loved Ireland so much this time around now that I got outside Dublin. Just like those other places, the homes just looked more homey to me. I could also very much be romanticizing! But that’s just how I feel when I see them! . Anyway, a fun place to visit if you like those homes too, is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park close to Shannon. It’s a bit more touristy than what I’d normally recommend. But I genuinely enjoyed visiting during my hosted trip with @railtoursireland to see over 30 buildings on 26 acres under soaring, seemingly ancient trees with wildflowers that grow like ground cover and friendly goats that pop their heads over the stone walls and scare you half to death (if you’re me!). It all portrays a time of fundamental change in Irish society during the early 19th century when a traditional, self-sufficient rural culture began to forever alter. There’s everything from the most modest one room dwelling to a Georgian residence built by the Studdarts who were the last to occupy Bunratty Castle which the park is named for and which you can also tour. It has a great view from the roof. There’s also a cafe serving delicious homemade food and if you like to shop, one of the largest souvenir shops that I saw during my trip to Ireland featuring a great selection of Irish products made locally. . . #loveireland#bestofireland#stellerstories#tourismireland#visitireland#bunrattycastle#countyclare#railtoursireland#irishhistory
Do like to have sunshine or gray skies when you travel? I usually prefer sunshine but one of the “gloomiest” days during my recent trip to Ireland was actually one of my favorites. It happened during my time in Connemara, part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Like the video I shared two posts back, the whole of the area felt somehow very idyllic and quaint in all the best ways. And the grayness somehow added to that, feeling like a comfy blanket that wrapped around me whenever we got out of the bus that took us around as part of my hosted visit with @railtoursireland. . We started by visiting filming sites for the John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara movie “The Quiet Man” which I’ve always loved (first photo) and moved on to Kylemore Abbey before finishing on the Sky Road (last photo) where you’d normally have a stunning view out to the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. In any weather, I’d recommend this part of Ireland. . Kylemore Abbey has a bit of a tragic past. It began as a castle-style home that Mitchell Henry decided to build for his beloved wife Margaret in the 1800s on land they visited during their honeymoon. But she fell ill following a trip to Egypt and died before they could have the happy years in the home that he’d envisioned. The grounds include a Gothic church and a mausoleum where Margaret, Mitchell and a great grand-nephew are buried. Inside the church are columns made of Connemara marble, named for the region and the gorgeous green tones in the stone that echo the palate of the landscape. The land is so peaceful and like I featured in the video a few posts back, practically vibrates with the sound of birdsong reverberating around the lake and amongst the twisted, magical trees that cover the estate. Kylemore has been a Benedictine monastery since 1920 and now the University of Notre Dame has signed a lease to conduct classes there and host a satellite campus for I believe a term of 30 years. But you can still visit to have lunch, walk the grounds, see the inside of the Abbey and tour the Victorian Gardens on the hill above the estate. It’s beautiful yet somehow still feels a bit wild, just like the rest of Connemara...
Danté & I accidentally caught the Gilmore Heritage Auto Show yesterday morning during a grocery run and what a fun surprise that was! Ever the social media nerd, I realized it would be perfect for this AM and one of my favorite hashtags: #asundaycarpic . Do you remember the days when we spent so much time trying to post certain photos on certain days for certain hashtags. And when we openly apologized if something was a latergram since this is Instagram and doesn’t that mean it’s supposed to be instant?! Now we curate to a fault and I’m as guilty of it as anyone at times but here’s to trying to keep it real and as “instant” as possible once in a while! . 18 years of living in the Motor City when I was much younger gave me a profound appreciation for the passion and hard work that keeps beauties like this one on the road. And seeing classic cars in Cuba, added to my particular fondness and appreciation. There locals turned complete lack of choice and necessity into something visitors celebrate and admire. And for me another reason I love classic cars is because they’re another form of sustainability and responsibility in a sense, saving and preserving something that others replace every two to four years.... in a city where people so often wear their wealth in the form of the newest and most luxurious car to drive, it was nice to be reminded that old is never really out of style. . Back to more Ireland stories in my next post and then I’ll be off to the East Coast to learn about some environmental efforts near Provincetown. Hope you’ve been having a lovely weekend! 💛 #classiccars#gilmoreheritageautoshow#discoverla#originalfarmersmarket#visitcalifornia#lastory#classiccarshow#shotoniphone
SOUND ON 🎶 for a moment of zen from Connemara in Ireland which @stellerstories asked me to feature today because the staff all really loved this video and its chorus of nature sounds that I captured on the lake at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara. . There are several Stories in my Steller account from Connemara and the Abbey. I only had one day there with Railtours but it was an area that really captured my soul. . Similar to parts of my beloved Scotland, there’s a wildness and an unrefined beauty that Connemara has that really differs from all the other places I’ve visited in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. And while the shores of this lake itself feel - and look - a bit more refined because of the proximity to the Abbey, the plethora of sounds that you can hear just standing still in one spot, speak to the way refined and rugged meet here. There’s a harmony of man and nature at this lake. . For all my love of our “wilder” places here at home in California, there isn’t a place I’ve been yet that I hear this many sounds in. . Hope you enjoy and will check out more zen moments in my Stories on Steller. 🙏🏼 They were kind enough to host me in Ireland in partnership with @tourismireland but I’m not being paid to promote them or support the app. . . . . #digitalireland#loveireland#instaireland#connemara#kylemoreabbey#naturesounds#naturevideos#bestofireland#stellerstories
Inis Mór (Inishmore) is the largest of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of the Republic of Ireland not too far from Galway. Early on in my recent hosted visit, I found myself at this building and one just like it next door (that was painted in shades of Grecian blue and more bright white) at the start of a walk to a prehistoric fort perched 100 meters over waves shooting so high up the cliffs they looked like the arms of giants coming to grab unsuspecting tourists. Before and after that, I saw much of the island from the window of a van on an organized tour and while I would choose to go by foot or bicycle if I ever returned, I still truly enjoyed every minute of being on Inis Mór. I knew Aran mostly as home of the Aran Sweater which I’ve seen people wearing all my life. And I think that’s incredible given that before the 1970s you had to get to and from the island in essentially a row boat. That’s when electricity, pipes for water, tourism and ferries finally did come to Inis Mór. Before that, locals once dragged seaweed from the ocean to combine with sand hoping to eventually create soil fit for farming. And they created mini copies of most houses on the island that our guide told us are for the leprechauns; a story that could be completely true or made up just for Americans. I don’t know but I do know I loved my first visit to Aran and one day is love to return to see more of the Islands. More photos in my @stellerstories. 🙏🏼💚 #loveireland#wildatlanticway#bestofireland#inismor#inishmore#aranislands#emeraldisle#discoverireland#instaireland#irelande