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With summer officially here, we can’t help but fill our minds with ideas for summer vacations, even if the reality is that we’ll be at home working, much more than off to some foreign land.
Whether planning a trip or reminiscing about one that I’ve just returned from, bringing those travel experiences back to life can be as easy as a sip, a bite and a tune, so if your vacation time hasn’t arrived just yet, but you’re in serious need of a getaway, you’re in the right place, as your Staycation has just begun!
Barcelona – Inspiration: El Borne Neighborhood
Your urban balcony or front porch can easily be transformed to the eclectic and artsy soul of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarters, The Borne neighborhood, in a few steps that will leave you feeling a thousand miles away.
Barcelona – Staycation
1. Set the tone with Gypsy Kings “Cantos de Amor” album, which features many of the favorites performed by local Barcelona street musicians.
2. Throw a few patterned scarves over a wine barrel table, like this one from Wine Barrel Furnishings for that bohemian feel and hang an FC Barcelona or Catalan flag just like the Borne neighborhood locals always displaying their pride.
3. Mix up a carafe of CIROC Red Berry Sangria (RECIPE HERE).
4. Pick at a platter of Tapas, including Jamon Iberico, Manchego Cheese, Fuet (dried Catalan sausage) and Pan Con Tomate (RECIPE HERE), all prepared on a rustic wooden cutting board, just as you’ll see on the tables of Barcelona.
5. People watch and linger the night away under the moonlight.
*All table top kitchen supplies can be found at EverythingKitchens.com.
Dubai Inspiration – Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
For those of you wanting the ultimate VIP desert experience and happen to have a back yard oasis, sandbox, or terrace, there’s no better setting to convert your space to, than a lavish Arabian desert picnic, inspired by the Dune Dinner at Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa and the flavors of Amaseena Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Dubai.
Dubai Inspiration – Amaseena at the Ritz Carlton Dubai
1. Get the traditional Arabic vibe going with the Arabic Traditional Music Mix on YouTube.
2. Roll out some oriental rugs, like these affordable ones found at Homedynamix, on the ground or floor, toss some larger seating pillows on top and scatter red and gold votive candles around for ambience lighting.
4. Serve a variety of Arabic snacks and sweets including pistachios, dates, Bahmieh and Zoolbia (rosewater and honey pastries) and Oum Ali (traditional Arabic bread pudding – RECIPE HERE). Break out your best silver and colorfully decorated platters and bowls to tie in the over the top opulence of Dubai.
5. Accompany the food and drink with a special treat of fruit flavored Shisha (tobacco or herbal varieties) via a Hookah pipe…Yes, that’s the sweet aroma that wafts through the air all over Dubai in the evening times.
Tulum, Mexico – Inspiration: Be Tulum
One of Mexico’s truly idyllic treasures, where hotels are in the form of thatched roof cabanas over the beach and cocktail hour can be anytime of day, as long as you’re laid back in a hammock, staring at the sea, shoes off, drink in hand. Although Tulum is quite accessible for most of us in the States, a staycation in your back yard, inspired by my favorite Tulum hideaway, Be Tulum, is as easy as repurposing the kids sandbox after hours.
1. Get into Tulum’s zen vibe with Lounge V Studio’s Relaxing Nature Videos “Waves Crashing” via YouTube.
2. Hang one or two Yucatan style hammocks like these from Hamacas Rada, over the sand box, so you can dangle your toes off the side into the sand. Throw a few Mexican blankets on the hammocks in case of a cool evening breeze and scatter white votive candles around the yard.
4. Snack on lite and spicy Aguachile (ceviche of scallops and jalapeno) and Guacamole (RECIPES HERE) …Mexican style, served in an authentic Molcajete (stone mortar and pestle) with tortilla chips instead of silverware.
5. Allow yourself to get lost in the sounds of the waves and the swaying of the hammock in the wind.
Thailand Inspiration – Rawai Beach, Phuket
No matter where you are in Thailand, beach resort towns or urban jungles, their peaceful Buddhist culture is always visible in the Thai people’s welcoming smiles and the presence of many temples and Buddha statues dotting the city streets and countryside. One of my favorite places to dine, chill and pass an evening when in Thailand is Rawai, the serene seaside strip located outside of Phuket, packed with tiny seafood restaurants, fisherman’s markets and truly one of a kind outdoor dining setting that embodies their peaceful vibe. With a grassy space in your back yard or garden, you can easily create a Rawai inspired staycation right at home.
1. Whether you’re in the chicest lounge or browsing through the Chatuchak Weekend Market, there are always sounds of the Thai Bossanova remakes of popular music wafting through the air, so sit back and enjoy a chilled out version of the latest Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Jason Mraz or Coldplay hit, via YouTube’s BOSSANOVA MUSIC by Kanplu K.
2. Set out a few colorful Mexican blankets and oriental rugs in the grass for the an eclectic / laid back setting, topped by multi colored cushions for seating and a low rectangular coffee table. Tiki torches in the corners for lighting and a small Buddha statue placed here and there…very Rawai style
3. Enjoy a little tropical refreshment of CIROC Coconut Sangria to bring you into your tropical element.
4. Grill some fresh fish, shrimp and squid, some of the typical local options from the Andaman Sea, and spice them up with Thai Green Curry dipping sauce from Trader Joes…a surprisingly authentic, US favorite of mine.
5. Chill the evening away in your tropical / Thai infused back yard escape.