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An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

 “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” — Anaïs Nin

Despite traveling the world for several years — and even visiting other corners of Central and South America — one country that was never really on my radar was Uruguay.

But that all changed in the spring of 2016. While I was on an artists’ retreat in Norway, my path crossed with that of a Uruguayan architect named José, who was also on an extended journey through Scandinavia at the time.

During our first encounter, while José told me about life in his hometown — Uruguay’s capital city of Montevideo — I had no idea we would begin dating in a few weeks’ time. Even more unexpected, though, I could never have imagined that just five months after meeting José, I would move to Uruguay and begin calling Montevideo home as well.

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

It’s now been nearly two years since I moved to Uruguay, and this previously unfamiliar little country, tucked away between Brazil and Argentina on the Atlantic Coast of South America, has taken on quite a bit of significance for me.

I’ve gotten to know its tranquil beaches and hidden beauty, its hill regions and historic towns, and I hope the sketches and photos I’ve shared here might make Uruguay a little more visible on yourradar, too.

Colonia del Sacramento

One of the easiest ways to get to Uruguay is from Buenos Aires, where a three-hour ferry ride will deliver you right to Montevideo’s doorstep. But an even faster route is a one-hour ferry journey from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento — one of the oldest towns in Uruguay and home to one of the country’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Founded in 1680, the historic heart of Colonia is still beautifully intact. Footsteps still echo down winding cobblestoned streets, and flowering bougainvillea vines hang lazily over the walls and doorways of colorful colonial homes.

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

For me, arriving in Colonia always feels like stepping back in time — and because of this, it also feels like the kind of place where time slows down. Colonia is a place for exploring without a map, soaking in the sunset over glasses of sangria, and catching glimpses of troupes of drummers with their tambores— or candombe drums — as they fill the streets with their mesmerizing rhythms and songs.

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

Atlantic Coast

From Colonia, my favorite place to head in Uruguay is past Montevideo, past the beach resort town of Punta del Este, to the far eastern coastline of the country — where the Rio de la Plata officially becomes the Atlantic Ocean and time yet again slows down.

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

Uruguay’s famed coast always makes me think of the beaches I grew up going to along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The sandy shoreline is vast and open, bordered with softly rolling dunes and wispy pampas grass. Leisurely lunches — perhaps at one of our favorite restaurants El Chancho y La Coneja in La Barra — are a necessity.

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

The countryside

But while I knew to expect gorgeous beaches and coastline before arriving in Uruguay, one of the most unexpected discoveries my time here has held is the countryside.

Uruguay is not a tall country — its highest point is the Cerro Catedral, whose summit measures just 1,685 feet (or a little over 500 meters). This means that in place of soaring mountainscapes, what you get here instead are more properly identified as “hill ranges.”

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

And in between these verdant hills you get the countryside, where horses graze and roam across sweeping fields and breakfast always comes with a view. Once, we stayed at a beautiful boutique hotel and horse farm called Haras Las Tordillas, surrounded by layered hills on the horizon (perfectly enough, the nearest town is even called Edén).

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

Hidden Beauty

One of my most unusual discoveries in Uruguay happened not along the coastline or in the countryside, but at a small chapel about an hour’s drive from Montevideo. Known as the Capilla de Susanna Soca, José read about the chapel in an architecture magazine and suggested we go there one weekend afternoon.

The story behind it was amazing to learn about: Susanna Soca was a poet who began the chapel’s construction in the 1950s in honor of her late father, a renowned doctor and politician. When Susanna sadly died in a plane crash in Brazil, her mother carried on finishing the chapel, which would now be in honor of both her husband and daughter.

Even more amazing was the chapel’s construction. All of its walls and windows were triangular, and the windows were made of triangular-shaped pieces of stained glass, in repeating hues of purple, gold, and orange. It was unlike any building I had ever seen.

An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary An Unexpected Homecoming in Uruguay: A Sketch & Photo Diary

This chapel will always be my favorite discovery in Uruguay, as it reminds me of the beauty and wonder that await us when we open ourselves to the world — and it reminds me of how a country that was once far from my radar is now the very place I call home.

Airlines Europe Food Hotels Luxury

An Art Themed Guide to Paris

Earlier this month we embarked on an art themed Parisian adventure in partnership with La Compagine Boutique Airline and Le Royal Monceau hotel, where we got to experience the first flying art gallery by Brooklyn based artist, Kevin Lyons!

The concept was just as innovative as La Compagnie itself, a boutique and affordable all-business class airline offering one main route from Paris to Newark and back again. At times, the cost is just about as equal to economy flights to Europe on major airlines… but with way more perks such as lounge access, a swift check in and boarding process (total boarding time took about 15 minutes since there were as little as 70 people on board), comfortable lay down seats, friendly service and excellent French cuisine!

Additionally, La Compagnie is always thinking of unique ways to keep their guests entertained. This time around, in the collaboration with Kevin Lyons where he was be onboard to meet and greet passengers.

He also signed the drawings that were offered in a magazine that featured the sketches on the windows! It’s safe to say that time went by fast.

Hotels We Love: Le Royal Monceau

After landing, we checked into the uber chic Le Royal Monceau – which has to be one of the most unique hotels we’ve experienced in Paris.

Built in 1928, the hotel underwent complete renovation in 2010 with the help of legendary Philippe Starck, making every inch of the hotel a work of art.




Ideally located down the street from le Arc de Triomphe, the hotel offers a gorgeous Clarins spa, a 1 Michelin star restaurant, Il Carpaccio, a sushi restaurant, Matsuhisa by Chef Nobu, a cinema room, bar, smoke lounge, an art gallery with a private art concierge and a gorgeous book store. With all of these unique spaces, you won’t want to leave the hotel!

Junior Suite

This suite was like sleeping in an art gallery! The whole set up of the room is unique with the bed in the middle, dual hidden televisions behind the mirrors, and a bathroom covered from top to bottom with mirrors. Straight out of an artist’s dream!


Art Concierge

Le Royal Monceau is also the first hotel to offer specialized art concierge services led by art guru, Julie Eugene. Every week, the art concierge prepares a special schedule of various art events especially for guests staying at the hotel.

And if you don’t feel like going far, you can enjoy an art tour of the hotel itself with the art concierge as it has its own art gallery featuring various exhibits. We got to see their recent photography exhibit, “Icons.”

Our art filled trip began with a private tour of the Grand Palais with Julie to enjoy the “Jardins” Exhibit, which was equally inspiring and beautiful.

Art Galleries Not To Miss In Paris:

Picasso Museum

The museum was open to the public in 2014 and the building itself is art. Stunning staircases and gorgeous views of the Marais district are seen from every window. “Olga Picasso’ was the exhibition we toured… and it was simply beautiful. The love was felt between the two through every painting, drawing and photograph.




Perrotin

My favorite exhibit was The Wrinkles of the City: Istanbul by artist JR. It was incredibly moving to see such massive portrait photographs in person and to observe all of the details in each.

Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery In Pantin

This is a very special gallery located in the outskirts of the city, allowing for more grounds for the sprawling space. I was especially inspired by the light filled rooms which shining on the beautiful artwork.

Zimoun at Le Centquatre

I absolutely LOVED this place. I felt like I had just walked a movie set. Seeing all of  urban artists flourishing in this creative environment where they could spend hours on end perfecting their craft was so inspiring.

Private Visit Of The Studio Of French Artist Baptiste Debombourg

We had the opportunity to visit the studio of French artist, Baptiste Debombourg, who creates various impressive works such as this piece made entirely of staples. I highly recommend Googling him to check out his many other mind blowing masterpieces, some of which are massive sculptures made of glass. An impressive artist with a heart for humanity, I can definitely appreciate that.

Xippas in the Marais Lunch / Drinks:

  • Il Carpaccio – Le Royal Monceau
  • Biglove Caffe

Dinner

  • Les Cocottes located in the Sofitel Arc de Triomphe by Chef Christian Constant.
  • Clover Grill this restaurant quickly became one of my favorite restaurants in Paris with its cozy yet interior (perfect for drinks and dinner with friends or even a date), incredible meats and their Provence lavender cocktail was delicious!

#nastasiainparis

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

I was invited as guest by La Compagine Boutique Airline and Le Royal Monceau. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

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Europe Journal Photography

Traveler & Artist Candace Rose Rardon Sketches the World Through Her Travels

Hi everyone! Candace Rose Rardon here. I’m a travel writer and sketch artist just back from two months in beautiful France and Spain, and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite moments of sketching inspiration from the trip with you. To get started, here’s a little icon from Paris you might have seen before…for me, no matter how well-known a subject, it’s always fun to see it for the first time with my sketchbook.


Paris, Shakespeare & Co.
If you enjoy looking for inspiration in quirky bookshops, you will love Shakespeare & Co., set just steps away from the Seine River and the towering spires of Notre Dame. Opened in 1919, the bookstore was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and many other writers, and it still plays an important role in Paris’ literary scene today. From the colored lights strung outside to the hidden nooks and dusty shelves on the second floor, I could have easily lost myself here for hours.


Paris, The Louvre
As an artist, it only felt right to spend my last full day in Paris at the city’s most iconic art museum, the Musée du Louvre – and yet I was so intrigued by the juxtaposition between the palace’s centuries-old facades and the pyramids’ modern design that I never even made it inside. As you sit along the fountains in the museum’s courtyard, it’s amazing to listen to the chatter of accents around you and wonder at how a single city can seem to draw the entire world to it.


Spain, Girona’s colored houses
After my time in Paris came to an end, I set off for the Costa Brava region of Spain, where I gratefully had the opportunity to be an artist-in-residence for six weeks. My first stop was Girona, a beautiful, ancient city about an hour’s drive inland from Barcelona. I knew embarrassingly little about Girona before arriving, but was soon blown away by the two millennia of history it holds—from Greek ruins and Romanesque churches to a medieval Jewish quarter. I especially loved these colorful houses set along the Onyar River flowing through the city.


Spain, Calella de Palafrugell
During my next two weeks of the residency, I had the chance to stay in a charming former fishing village called Calella de Palafrugell. From the moment you walk down to the shore and get your first glimpse of the village, the vista of whitewashed houses, clay tiled roofs, and turquoise water immediately makes you feel more at peace. Days here are best spent exploring the Costa Brava’s network of coastal footpaths before enjoying a gelato by the sea in the afternoon.


Spain, boat in Calella
One of my favorite things about Calella were the dozen or so faded fishing boats that still rest on the shores of Port Bo beach. Although life in the town no longer revolves around fishing, they’re a beautiful (and colorful!) reminder of the livelihood that once defined not only Calella, but the entire Costa Brava region. An added bonus to sketching the boats was getting to bring the beautiful scripts on their sides to life—the name of this boat translates as “gentle sea.”


Spain, church in Lloret de Mar
My time in the Costa Brava wrapped up in Lloret de Mar, a popular coastal resort town that still has many pockets of local history and culture to explore. One such pocket was the Iglesia de Sant Romà and its Capella del Santíssim pictured here. Built in 1916, the chapel’s colored mosaics and tiled roofs are a fascinating example of Modernist architecture and were a dream to recreate in my sketchbook. Thank you for following along through France and Spain with me! I love connecting with the world through art, so I hope you’ll say hello and join me on my journeys here.


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