Travel + Leisure

Travel Thursday: Part I- Venezia

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Ciao, and Welcome to Travel Thursday! Is that a thing already? If not, it is now. As some of you may now know I went on my first trip to Europe, and my first stop (if you haven’t guessed by now) was Venezia (also known as Venice, Italy). Since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to go to Italy, but never imagined I would ever really be THERE. My first day in Venice I was just taking everything in. Trying to absorb everything I saw, heard, and use all my senses to record the moments in my memory (also into my camera). Now, let me tell you about some of the highlights of the trip through my eyes.

 

Il Cibo– The Food

The most important sense to use in Venice is TASTE. Oh, the fun I had using that one! This is not the time, or place for a low carb diet. To quote Drake, “YOLO”. I rather leave this earth knowing that I have tasted amazing (and some interesting) food than to be dwelling in my afterlife about the food I didn’t get to eat, or the wine I didn’t drink. Did I mention there was gelato, and cannoli’s? If you try gelato in Italy, the one back home will just taste like melted ice cream in comparison. I was fortunate enough to have a tour guide to give good suggestions on where to eat, and at times when those places were closed you just have to go based on instinct. A tip on knowing if the place is good to eat, see how many people are sitting down to eat there. Also, try to spot locals in the crowd of people. The reason being, any good restaurant always has customers. Also, if there are locals they know what’s up on food in their town. You don’t want a stomach situation on a trip, because you want to enjoy the trip.

L’arte– The Art

The art of Venetian glass, this takes me back again to my childhood. When Mr.Rogers would put a video on of how things are made, and the trolly would pass by. Anyways, It was awesome to see this in person. To see someone create art like second nature, just shows you it is in their blood. In this case, at the Murano Glass Factory in the Galleria San Marco beautiful glass work is made out of Venetian glass. The certified kind, because believe it or not they have certificates and logos to show the real from the fake. They make anything from chandeliers to cute earrings out of glass.

“People rarely tell the truth but give them a mask and…they will”, is what it says on their business card. I love it! At Schegge Art & Crafts, the owner of the store was greeting us and welcoming us in. She was very passionate in telling us about how painting masks is something that is passed down generations in her family. She painted all of the paper masks you see in the pictures above. Each one is unique, and a work of art. If you are ever in Venice, you have to go see for yourself.

Il Luogo– The Place

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Walking around Venice was even more beautiful than I would have imagined it to be. It looked like straight out of a story book. The architecture is amazing. I have been to many places that I have seen on TV, just to get to the actual place and be disappointed. They were just illusions created on sets or by green screens. Not Venice though, Venice looked more beautiful than I imagined. The second day there it was not dry, and it might have been a little unexpected for me. There were high tides which caused it to flood in Venice. As someone who lives in a city that floods, it amazed me with how relaxed and calm everyone in Venice is when this happens.

They just put on their rain boots, and keep moving forward. It also helps that their way of transportation are boats. Which reminds me of one more highlight I have to show you before I end this post…

The Gondolas

When in Venice, get on the boat. Enjoy the ride, and the good views. I am 100% sure that this is not even close to summing up my trip, but as always…if you want to know more or have any questions you can ask below on the comments. Ciao Ciao!!

Reflections, Travel + Leisure

So you’re going on your first Euro trip…

Yay!!! Congratulations, you are all booked!! Now, the important questions come. What should I pack? How do I make everything fit in this suitcase? Should I just take a carry on? I know, I had a whole bunch of those questions too. I tried looking at all kinds of blogs and YouTube videos trying to find the answer.

First thing, is first. Add the cities you are going to visit to your phone’s weather app. You pretty much have to become your own meteorologist, and start predicting the weather. If you’re good at this, then good for you! It would trick me here and there with random rain. That being said pack a light rain jacket (preferably with a hoodie) that you can throw on top of any outfit. Also, a light portable umbrella that the wind won’t break (in case you don’t feel like wearing a rain jacket). Let me tell you, I was not ready. I ended up buying a bright pink poncho just to not get my camera wet. I don’t want the same thing happening to you.

Learn from my mistakes- Unless you are a minimalist or staying on the beach the whole time for your trip. Don’t try to fit everything on a carry on. If that’s your style, maybe I can learn from you. I, on the other hand. I’m a person who likes options. My checked bag was too small. I should have gone all in, and bought the biggest one they allow. Also, invest on good luggage that has all four 360 wheels. You don’t want to be struggling across the world.

Picture above, is not how I ended up packing at all. When it came to the packing part, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on how to pack and after finding out I can’t fold s*it…I decided to buy packing cubes on Amazon and roll everything in my packing cubes. Saves space, and gets you somewhat organized. They even come with extra bags for your dirty underwear and socks. Which, I recommend to also buy arm and hammer baking soda balls that are for shoes, and throwing it in there. Shoes and jackets are the the items that will take up the most space in luggage. I put them in the bottom of the luggage and piled everything else on top. Another reason for a bigger suitcase, souvenirs.

Try to pick clothes that you can mix and match. I didn’t end up wearing these exact outfits together, because I dress according to my mood. I did however end up mixing pieces together and creating different outfits. Take clothes you can layer in case you get hot ( I would) especially when going inside of a place. I traveled in the fall, so for you it might be different. There would be times I didn’t even want to wear pants, and wore leggings and a long sweater instead. Take comfortable shoes, Europe like most Latin America has streets that are stone/brick. Don’t bust your ass trying to do the most. Unless, you’re just a bad B in some heels 👏, or you really know you’re going from Point A to Point B (aka sitting down to sitting down).

“What kind of purse should I bring?”, might be your next question. Sure was mine! I read so many blogs that were helpful, but also put fear in me about pick pocketing that I didn’t even take any of my cute purses. Wear any crossbody purse you like that isn’t too flashy. Try to keep your purse in front of you, and/or where you can feel it. People are going to be able to tell you aren’t from there no matter how you dress. Dress as cute, and as comfortable as you like. As long as you aren’t yelling around that you have money to blow, you will be fine. Just be cautious, like you would back home during holiday shopping. If you walk around looking scared, you will only look crazy to other people and draw attention to yourself.


I hope this helps some of you preparing for your big trip. I probably forgot to mention other tips. If you have any questions, comment below 👇. Remember this site has google translate if you need it.

Reflections, Travel + Leisure, Uncategorized

Mis Raíces 🌳

September is Hispanic Heritage month, so I thought what better time to show y’all my beautiful motherland than now. I’ve always been curious of where I’m from…I know where I was born, and I know where my parents were born. I just wanted to know where my ancestors before them were from, and how did they get here? Now that there are so many DNA ancestry tests available, I decided to take one and find out.

I feel that the picture above is a good description of why I have such a blend of different cultures in my DNA. I am 48% European, and 41.2% Native American. I found out that I have DNA from countries I didn’t even expect! It was very awesome to find out that I am .7% Italian, and that my Maternal Lineage comes from Siberia. That would explain why I’ve always been fascinated with the culture in those countries. The picture above was taken in front of the church El Rosario. It shows Christopher Columbus (most likely why I have European ancestors), and Martyrs/Saints that helped Native Americans in the country during the time of Conquistadores. They also brought Catholicism with them.

The church above is called El Rosario it is located in the department La Libertad in San Salvador, El Salvador. Pictures don’t do it justice. The way the light hits the stained glass windows is breathtaking. It creates a beautiful rainbow inside the church. Filing it with warmth.

El Salvador is a country rich in European, but mainly Spaniard culture. El Salvador declared it’s independence from Spain on September 15th of 1821. When you walk around and take in the architecture you can see the influence Spain had in El Salvador during colonization. This statue is in El Parque La Libertad, and it represents what it means. If you haven’t guessed by now “Libertad”, means liberty.  It’s a beautiful monument to look at. Theres just a certain type of way it makes you feel when, you stare at something that has such great meaning.

The part on my ancestry test that put a big smile on my face, was when I saw that 38.4% of what I have as Native American is from El Salvador. I’ve always been proud of my roots, and thought of my parents country just as my own. I spent as many childhood summers there as I have spent in Houston as an Adult. There is so much greenery, and just such a more beautiful way of life. People appreciate the little moments in life, and take every good moment in to make it through the tough moments. They have such a contagious positive attitude, and their vibes make you believe in yourself more. These are all thoughts that go through my mind as I stare at this beautiful waterfall in Perquìn with my family around me.

If you find yourself in Perquín, because you wanted to chase waterfalls. Then, I suggest you stop by El Museo de la Revolución. Where you will get educated on the civil war that was not that long ago. El Salvador’s civil war did not end until the 90’s. The entry is inexpensive. There is a tour guide that will tell you the whole history, and all you do is leave a tip.

Monseñor Romero is the most iconic, and respected in El Salvador’s history. Next month he will be named a saint by the Catholic Church. Learn more about him when you visit the museum, or really anywhere you go in El Salvador someone will be more happy to tell you the impact he’s made to the country. El Salvador is a beautiful country filled with its history, and I thought I would share a few of its light since mostly what is shown to the world is the dark.

La Catedral de Santa Ana speaks for itself. I’m a sucker for architecture, and it turns out we were there right when the the celebration for St. Anne (the patron Saint) was about to start. There is a festival, the streets are filled with people selling all types of food, souvenirs, and there’s local entertainment. These are just a few of the things you can find in my parents country, that is also very much my country. Amo a El Salvador como las Pupusas aman a el curtido 🇸🇻💕

Shop Local, Travel + Leisure, Uncategorized

Remember the Ala…ay ghost!

If you follow me on social media, you probably figured out I went on a road trip. The destination? San Antonio, Texas. A perfect little getaway from my normal routine, and the only time I had been was literally driving through getting off to see the river walk (at night) then was back on my way. Not that I didn’t want to see it, but simply never had the time.

Let me begin by saying how rich this city is in architecture, culture, and ghosts. I know, I know. Trust me, I didn’t think anything of it at first either. The building above is the beautiful Emily Morgan Hotel. My cousin (who went with me on this trip) and I both agreed on staying here for our girls trip. I chose it because it looks stunning from the outside, and the beautiful view. She chose it because she heard it was haunted and wanted to investigate. More on that later.

One of my favorite places that I went to on this trip was to el Mercado. It’s this awesome place in the Historic Market Square where you can have a nice cold Michelada while shopping for cute stuff straight from Mexico. I even bought a cute lotería shirt from one of the stands. If you have never been, I would totally recommend it.

Believe it or Not, there’s cool things to do like the museum of wax and Ripley’s Believe it or Not (where you can take a picture inside a giant tire). You can also ask a genie for three wishes, like I did. I’m still waiting, so in the mean time I’ll just keep working.

Back to talking about ghosts, at night we decided after some liquid courage to check out the hotel around the corner from the one we were staying (that is also known for being haunted, and I was too chicken to stay in) to see if we found any ghosts. Turns out I just admired how beautiful, and elegant it looks inside. I was a little upset that I chose the other hotel based on outside looks (lesson here). Anyways, my cousin had an app to see if ghosts would communicate with her, and nothing. We were back on our way to our hotel.

So here’s some very brief and broad history on the hotel we were staying in, it used to be a hospital. There’s also no 13th floor but there is a supposedly very haunted 14th floor. My cousin said let’s go check it out before going to bed to see if something happens, and again I had courage in me so I said “okay, but as long as we don’t look for any on our floor.”

“Hi this is Jenny, are the ghost busters available by any chance?” We get to the 13th floor (I mean 14th), and nothing. It was a bust so as we were walking through the door of the room 807 *my cousins app goes off* and it tells her entity present. ENTITY PRESENT!!! It also spoke through the white noise. I was like, I told you not to have it in the room. Honestly though, we had been everywhere with that thing on. I was so happy we hadn’t found anything, and everything changed after that.

The only reason I was able to stay asleep even with all the paranormal stuff going on was the fact I decided to stop by the bar for a glass of red wine before bed. The next morning was back to normal. Went walking around (a.k.a) buying cute things I collect wherever I go to bring home with me.

Sunday morning we went to mass at one of the oldest churches in Texas. It is beautiful and breath taking. Just what I needed after a night of little to no sleep. It was also a good way to start our morning before going home.


If you would like more blog posts like this, let me know. Comment below. I appreciate your feedback, and also don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.


Travel + Leisure, Uncategorized

Discover Your City

Welcome to Houston, a city full of diversity, pride, and hearts of champions .

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Last year our city faced one of the biggest floods we have seen in our lifetime due to Hurricane Harvey. A time where some would try to focus on themselves to get ahead, but not Houston. Houston opened their doors, hearts and pockets to help their neighbors. To see the shelters and food banks have to turn down volunteers, because they had more than enough…that was a beautiful reminder of good humanity. It was a true awakening.

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This year, we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Discovery Green. A beautiful park in the middle of downtown where families can go out, and enjoy some art with our beautiful skyscrapers hugging it. It is a big milestone, so the city decided to do something very creative by creating a collage with pictures submitted through Instagram that were tagged by #DiscoveryGreen10. This was a beautiful way to become part of history, so below is the picture I went with.

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Everything we go through in life leads to something bigger, and I like to think that this is just the beginning. Not just for my city, but for all of us. We get humble, and we get stronger everyday.

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Congratulations Discovery Green on your 10 years!! Wishing on many more.

Travel + Leisure, Uncategorized

Coachella🎡

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the grounds of Coachella Valley, but it will forever be in my memories. I can’t wait to one day be there again. If this is your first time going, or you are planning on going in the near future this post is for you. I’ll be sharing some of my must haves for Coachella. Let’s just say, I wasn’t completely ready on my first time in 2015, but I’m here to get YOU ready.

Tip #1– wear comfortable shoes. This one may seem like common sense, but you will be surprised how many people end up barefoot. Girls wearing sandals that bother them, and I get it we want to look cute. Just remember that it will get crowded (you will get stepped on). Guys, make sure your sneakers don’t rub or you won’t be so comfortable either.

Tip #2– The accessories I’m about to mention, are not only fashionable they are also convenient. Bring your favorite hat 🧢, sunglasses 🕶, and backpack/camelback 🎒. When you are finally at the front, seeing your favorite artist perform you want to fully enjoy it. You don’t want to have to squint, or put your hands over your eyes because the sun is in your face. You also don’t want to look back at the sea of people behind you, and have to give up your perfect spot to get water. Fill up your stylish backpack with a refillable water bottle, and you won’t have to worry about that.

Tip #3, dress in layers. It’s going to be blazing hot during the day, but could be freezing cold at night. Throw a light sweater/hoodie in your bag. Don’t have a bag? Tie it around your waist.

Tip #4- If you see pictures of people wearing bandanas around their necks, it’s not just to look cute. Although, you could really make them look good…it’s because there’s a lot of dust flying around and you don’t want to inhale all of that.

I hope these tips are useful to you all for your upcoming festival season, and have fun!! 💋✌️

Fashion, Travel + Leisure, Uncategorized

Romance Is Key

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Hi Everyone,

I hope that you have been staying warm and safe these past few days. I know that not just in Houston/Texas, but other states in the country we have been hit with this cold weather. Can’t go out to the MFAH, because it has been closed due to weather? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Get yourself some hot chocolate, and maybe some pan dulce as I take you on a tour of “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This exhibit runs from Oct. 8th, 2017- Jan 28th, 2018. Hopefully, you will still be able to see this beautiful exhibition in person. I chose my favorite pieces for this article, and narrating it through my perspective. Enjoy!

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Nothing shows people the art of fashion like, Couture. Couture is art. It is something beautifully crafted for a purpose, and with a vision in mind. When you see this collection, the first place in your mind is supposed to be Spain. I think of a matador waiting to make a move on the bull, and the woman wearing this dress is patiently waiting to take on the world. Calm on the outside, but full of passion on the inside.

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If there’s anything that can make me hand my card over like a business card, it’s a beautiful dress with a dramatic back. If I could get married in this dress, I would do it in a heartbeat. It has that feel of the Givenchy dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina in the 1950’s but with a little modern twist. You can just picture yourself wearing this to a Gala.

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There’s only a few words I can speak in Russian, but this collection makes me wish I could speak it fluently. The beauty and elegance shown in these pieces just took my breath away. The dress all the way to the right is actually a wedding gown someone used. On this cold Houston day, I could sure use one of these beautiful coats. This was by far my favorite collection as a whole.

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I love how Oscar de la Renta designed his clothes. He always had the women he designed these dresses for in mind during the whole design process. It’s not only beautiful, but it’s wearable. That is so rare for couture. That is why Oscar de la Renta is up there to me with Yves Saint Laurent.

 

Belle romance! Although the Russian inspired collection was my favorite, there were many of his couture designs that took my breathe away. For instance, this French inspired dress that Kirsten Dunst wore on an editorial photoshoot for Vogue to promote the Marie Antoinette movie. The details on this dress and its delicateness are EVERYTHING.

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Rest In Peace Oscar de la Renta, in fashion heaven (07/22/1932- 10/20/2014). I will end this article by giving the biggest shout out to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for hosting this exhibit. The pictures for this blog were a collaboration between Jexse Studios and myself. I will be posting more fun pictures, and random facts about Oscar de la Renta on my IG and FB pages throughout the week, so please be sure to follow @jenstylehou.

Love,

Jenny Soto

Let JenStyleHou!