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Kirsten Alana


Pro Photographer โ€ข Avid traveler who loves design, food & fashion + created #ThoseCubaStreets w/ @dante.vincent

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Switching gears completely from San Francisco, and getting to travel again with my friends @lesleyannemurphy &a Hannah of @curio_trips, I am now exploring Canada's @travelyukon territory this week. We spent our first full day snowmobiling with @upnorthadventures at Fish Lake which I fully documented in Stories and I loved the combination of feeling completely off the grid without WiFi, yet finding little spots like this on their property that made me think who needs WiFi when you have a fire pit, friends and some local brews. Lots more to come from the Yukon and in a few weeks, Whistler. Including my first ever experience shooting the Northern Lights. I'm so psyched to be bringing you content from Canada this year in particular when they're celebrating a big birthday in 2017. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ #exploreyukon #canada150 #ifollowmycuriosity
I came to San Francisco to find some #fairmontmoments and I found quite a few. I hope you enjoyed seeing those in my Stories! And yes this was a job, I have been #sponsored to do this by @travelmindset. But like so many things, this weekend took on a life of its own, becoming something more personal than just a job. So it's this view from my perch in the Tony Bennett Suite, after watching the sun set and the lights of the city begin to sparkle like so many diamonds, that will stick with me as my personal favorite moment from this weekend. You see after the difficult catalyst that first launched me into travel photography as a career, I spent some time regrouping, living with family in San Francisco and though that period was brief, it was very transformative. The city came to feel like home. And though I've had many homes, this one burrowed so deep into my heart that it's right up there with where I was born. Every time I visit, I know it won't be the last time and I'm not worried about what I didn't get to do or see. I know I'll be back. No one at @FairmontSanFrancisco knew this when they put me in this Suite where Bennett's paintings hang in my field of vision and many stories above where a statue of him graces the lawn, but it's incredible that it happened this way. You see the Suite's namesake once sang, downstairs in the Venetian Room underneath where I type this, "I left my heart in San Francisco..." then later he said: "That song helped make me a world citizen. It allowed me to live, work and sing in any city on the globe. It changed my whole life." San Francisco is that song for me & since I first heard its notes, I've traveled all over the world. Always, to come back.....
Fairmont took me on a special tour of the expanded @sfmoma that reopened in May 2016 yesterday during which we visited the Matisse/Diebenkorn & Diane Arbus exhibits. I couldn't have come up with a better way to spend a rainy day in San Francisco if I'd tried, my inspiration seemed to quadruple with every new floor we visited! Especially after I found out that SFMOMA was one of the first museums to recognize photography as a fine art! I felt compelled by all I saw, to try to create my own "art" and this video was born out of that compulsion. It depicts the soaring central entrance way you find when you come from Third Street with the 'Untitled' piece created by Alexander Calder in 1963 that slowly moves beneath the oculus under a pedestrian bridge. As wonderfully thrilling as the exhibits were for someone like me for whom art has been a lifelong interest -- especially the Matisse/Diebenkorn rooms & the Cloud Cities room by @studiotomassaraceno -- it was the architecture of the building itself that left the most lasting impression, making me want to return. Closed for three years to expand the original Maria Botta-designed building with renowned architecture firm @snohetta, upon reopening SFMOMA became one of the largest museums in the USA and one of the largest in the world for modern & contemporary art. It's also now on track for LEED Gold Certification and features the largest application of composites technology to architecture in the USA. There's a connection to @fairmontsanfrancisco too. During the 1940's meetings that led to the signing of the United Nations Charter, SFMOMA was forced to temporarily move from its original Van Ness location to make way for the UN Conference on International Organization but many of the closed door meetings took place back at the Fairmont where b&w photos of those meetings now line the halls! โšช๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฒโšซ๏ธ #fairmontmoments with @travelmindset #sponsored
Woke up in San Francisco where I'm seeking out #fairmontmoments for a project with @travelmindset. I could hardly believe it yesterday, when @fairmontsanfrancisco showed me to my "room" which happens to be THE Tony Bennett Suite. It features original paintings he has done of some of the views out the suite's windows which defy words they're so good on a clear day like it was when I checked in. I can see an almost 360 degree view of the Bay Area but since it's raining today, frankly I wouldn't mind having all my moments right by the window! Then again, there's so much to see! So after I finish breakfast, I'll be heading to SFMOMA for a special visit. Watch it all unfold in my Stories... ๐ŸŒ‰ #sponsored
The first day of Spring occurred after I left Dublin but it felt as if it had started early when I walked into this space with @dublinmydarling on a day warm enough that I'd been able to shed my coat and walk around in short sleeves. It brought to mind a few lines of a poem I'd read the night before, in a book of verses all written following the Easter Rising of 1916: "Go winter now unto your abode, Your time is done, and Spring is conqueror! Lift up with all your gear and take your road! For she is here, and brings the sun with her! Now we are born again, and now are we, -- Wintered so long beneath an icy hand! -- New-risen into life and liberty, Because the Spring is come into our land!" excerpt 'Spring - 1916' by James Stephens
While in Dublin, I found time to tour the city with the team behind one of my favorite @instagram accounts: Ramona & David of @dublinmydarling. Before meeting David, Ramona showed me the interior of this shopping centre near Stephen's Green which was built on the site of The Dandelion Market, once famous for the concerts from such bands as U2. Then we went to a spot in the centre with a wonderful view of the city of Dublin. I'd never have found either spot on my own because I generally avoid all malls if I can help it and seeing the city from above wasn't a huge priority of mine. Until we were there and I realized how much I would have missed! I'm an advocate for meeting locals, getting to know the people who live where you travel and generally digging in as deep as time allows whenever and wherever one travels. As you know I LOVED the Guinness Storehouse but my short time with @beluck.ie & @david.maguire as well as the interactions with other locals that I had while in Ireland -- these are the memories I will cherish most and to be honest, they are why I want to return and explore more of Ireland one day. People, make the place. And Ireland's people are particularly wonderful. ๐Ÿ’š
Step inside the @homeofguinness with me, where I spent two days during my trip to Dublin. It wasn't nearly enough! The Storehouse is a historically-protected building dating back to the early 1900's and the details related to its age were so fascinating to discover from the beautifully tiled walls to the picture windows looking out over Dublin. I loved the private tasting we did in the Connoisseurs Bar, that any guest can add on to their tour (you just have to search the website to find out more), and every meal we had at 1837 Bar & Brasserie was better than the last. I was so pleasantly surprised to find food worthy of the loftiest awards inside what is essentially a tourist attraction. But that's what makes the @guinness Storehouse so different, it is an attraction for tourists but it's also so much more than that. During @stpatricksfestival that included live music on every floor and my favorite was the set by @thelunaboys which took place in Arthur's Bar, aptly named for the founder himself who I think would be blown away by what his brewery has become today! โ˜˜๏ธ๐Ÿด๐Ÿบ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช #storehousestory #thisisirishfood #sp
I arrived in Dublin with few expectations and only two items on my absolute must do list in addition to enjoying St. Patrick's Day: visiting the @homeofguinness, and this space. It is Trinity College Library's Long Room. Because I'm a bibliophile who loves architecture, the Long Room has called me like a beacon since I first saw a photo of it as a teenager. It is significant to @guinness because in addition to holding books, the room also protects the oldest surviving Irish Harp known as the Brian Boru, upon which the original Guinness logo is based as well as the insignia of Ireland. Guinness wisely trademarked the symbol in 1876 so when the Irish Free State wanted to use it in 1922, they had to use a mirror version facing in the opposite direction. The harp is a stunner with intricate carving and a glow to its well-worn wood that seems to magnify the light already present in this vast space. As for the room itself, built between 1712 and 1732, it is 65 metres in length and filled with 200,000 books. Originally it had a flat plaster ceiling and a lower level only. After an 1801 ruling, the library began to receive a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland though and so in 1860 the roof was raised and the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery were added giving it the impressive stature that helps it live up to hype for today's visitors which included me this week. It brought me as close as possible to the phrase, "takes my breath away." #storehousestory #sp
I'm not usually one for anything that draws big crowds & I don't usually love huge tourist attractions but similar to the way I somehow still love attending Hogmanay in Scotland, I LOVED experiencing #stpatricksday in the middle of Dublin, the @homeofguinness yesterday. I've no Irish blood that I know of but it just didn't matter since as the locals I hung out with love to say, "on March 17 everyone's Irish." That's just how it felt! It felt like the streets were one big family reunion. So we stood and we danced and we smiled and we laughed - in the shadow of a monument to Charles Parnell, so influential in the Home Rule movement for Ireland - and for a moment, life was an absolutely beautiful thing. No cares and no worries, just a complete sense of celebration. โ˜˜๏ธ
One of my biggest travel dreams is finally coming true this week since I am spending St. Patrick's Day in the @homeofguinness: Dublin, Ireland, WITH @guinness, learning their #storehousestory. Everything I've learned so far just reinforces why they have been my favorite beer for as long as I've been able to drink! From the philosophy of Arthur Guinness himself to the philanthropy his descendants still carry on today to how much every Guinness employee loves their job... As per usual I'm documenting it all in Stories and even though this trip is sponsored, all the opinions and the gushing about the beer or the company itself -- that's entirely me and my really nerdy self. #sp ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ชโ˜˜๏ธ
I told you I would share the story of the Welsh flag and when I saw this street in Cardiff lined with the flag on both sides and leading to the Castle, I knew this was the way to accompany the tale. According to legend (and borrowed from a page on the @visitsnowdonia site), it was at Dinas Emrys that the symbol of the red dragon first emerged. In the 5th century, the ruler Vortigern was making a stand against Anglo-Saxon invaders and he sought to build a stronghold on a very strategic hill. He set his builders to work but each morning they woke to find piles of rubble lying where the newly built walls had stood the day before. His advisors suggested sacrificing "a fatherless boy" and sprinkling his blood on the site. But the appropriate boy who was found, convinced Vortigern that his problems lay underground where there was a lake with two dragons – one red, one white. When found, they fought each other and the red dragon was victorious while the white dragon fled never to be seen again! Vortigern named the castle that he finally built Dinas Emrys - after the boy who had advised him: Myrddin Emrys, or Merlin. The very same magician who we would eventually connect to the story of King Arthur! It might all sound too fantastical to be real but in 1945 the site was excavated by archaeologists who discovered a lake and the ruins of a fortress dating to Vortigern’s time. The walls all showed signs of having been rebuilt several times… ๐Ÿฐโค๏ธ @visitwales #findyourepic #yearoflegends
If there's only one place we went in @visitwales that simply can't be summed up in merely one photo it is: @portmeirionvillage. Setting for the 1960's TV show "The Prisoner", part fantasy village, part time capsule and the work of eccentric self-taught architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, it is impossible to encompass entirely in the span of one Instagram caption. Italianate in design and entirely whimsical in detail it defies explanation but you can try to understand it when you stay here, either in the hotel or in the self catering cottages. You'll be welcomed by their own homemade port and staff members full of intriguing stories about past guests such as Frank Lloyd Wright, George Harrison and the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein. The food is as exceptional as the setting and the legendary entertainment is soon to include The Flaming Lips, one of my favorite bands. Perhaps the craziest story of Portmeirion is about Sir Clough himself: whose ashes were shot up in a rocket over the village during a NYE fireworks show after he died in 1978! ๐Ÿ’ฅ #findyourepic
Speaking of places to stay, I was most impressed during this trip with @palehallhotel. A new member of @smallluxuryhotels, it was a 19th century Jacobian-style mansion built in 1871 by railway magnate Henry Robertson. Complete with the type of board which was used to call the servants that you've seen in shows like Downton Abbey, it is in every way a step back in time yet it lacks none of the modern creature comforts you want when you stay at a luxury property even, and of special importance to me, soaking tubs like this one which made me exclaim out loud when I walked into the room! Just the thing to sort you out after a long day of walking in the countryside or exploring small towns. As a manor home it hosted Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill, this week it hosted comedian Chelsea Handler! The food is worth a visit on its own since Palé Hall has as its F&B consultant none other than the @macaines and head chef is the talented @garethstevenson88. We enjoyed a spectacular meal in what was the manor home's kitchen yet still features a stove that made all my Downton Abbey dreams feel like they were coming true. If only! ๐Ÿฐ #findyourepic
This is my favorite image of a town that I took during this trip to Wales because I feel it really shows the charm that can be found here and also because it features a red Defender which happens to be one of my dream vehicles!! I have this vision of one day when I'm old having a little cottage in the countryside, a closet full of wellies that I'd wear with flowered skirts and wool sweaters or tweed blazers, a dog and a Defender to drive myself around if I'm not walking or riding a bike. It just so happens that this dream could probably come to fruition in rural France, Scotland or Wales but it's in the latter that I've seen no less than several dozen of these vehicles driving around or parked next to cottages that would do just fine please and thank you ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ Seems like some kind of sign from the universe but who knows ๐Ÿ˜œ I took this in Crickhowell where, when you visit, you should not miss @bookishcrickhowell plus the cozy Dragon Inn or Bear Inn. Both have the character, fun locals and cozy corners that make for a great overnight in towns such as this. Though since I always keep it real you should know the pillows weren't exactly comfy so if you have trouble sleeping, as I do, you might want to bring your own ๐Ÿ˜‰ #findyourepic
Fitting for a place that overall is so cloaked with myths and legends, the peak of Snowdon usually lies hidden in clouds, mist or fog and locals rarely get a clear view of it! Yet, we did! We had incredible weather while driving through Snowdonia National Park and so we stopped at this spot where you can see the peak directly ahead and just to the left of @lesleyannemurphy's head, dusted with snow. High up there somewhere are the lakes that legend tells are the final resting place of Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur. It is either Llyn Llydaw, Dinas or Ogwen. Laying in wait for Arthur to return, the sword is guarded by the Lady of the Lake. A bit to the left and down below from where Lesley is standing, is a lake that myth says is where the battle of the two dragons happened which led to the red dragon being on the Welsh flag. That story I'll tell with another photo! ๐Ÿ” #findyourepic @visitwales
If you @visitwales you'll see very quickly there are a lot of castles to explore. It feels akin to being on the set of Game of Thrones which has been thrilling me to no end!! But so far, this is my favorite we've visited because it wasn't built by an English king, instead it is Welsh and dates to the 1100's. You can approach it two ways: by crossing a river that takes you through a forest filled with almost more moss than trees, or by going through a more open wooded area with trees that twist as if possessed. Either way you climb steadily till you're on a hill and see this before you with Lake Dolbadarn at your back and Mt. Snowdon in the background. The name Dolbadarn means "meadow of Padarn", so meadow of the Saint, because there was indeed a Saint Padarn. A Welsh ruler once imprisoned his brother in this tower so as it is with many Legends and Myths there is both beauty and pain associated with a place that's almost painfully beautiful when the sun shines, illuminating the stones that punctuate the green grass. I missed the chance to take a photo in the moment that actually happened, because I was simply watching, transfixed. Stunned. ๐Ÿฐ #findyourepic #yearoflegends
Savoring my last few days at home in NYC with @dante.vincent before I start a whirlwind three months of work travel that will take me to almost a dozen new countries I've never been to and a few destinations that will be new to me in countries I have already visited. I start in Wales and Ireland next week and end in Jordan in May. Speaking of Danté, will you do me a huge favor and go check out his account ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿผ @dante.vincent ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿผ It is getting so close to 10K and I really want to get him over that finish line in 2017. He's so talented!! โค๏ธ
Here's another photo to entice you to come to India with me this October. See the #linkinprofile for all the details!! I took this during my last trip and while I can't ๐Ÿ’ฏ promise you light like this where we'll be going, I can promise you that India will get under your skin and inspire your spirit in a way few other places can...
Flashback to a morning @thequeenskickshaw with @leaveurmarkindia & @theworldwanderer that changed my life. We'd been in India together a few months before this moment and while driving through Goa, had come up with an idea together that began with the desire to help change the situations of women in India for the better through service & support. To see it happen, intense work was needed on this day to plot and plan but the time flew by as we sipped matcha lattes & noshed on the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Astoria. And when I walked out, I couldn't wait to tell everyone our idea but I had to keep it to myself just a little bit longer. NOW the secret is out and I can finally tell you that WE'RE GOING BACK TO INDIA AND TAKING YOU WITH US!!! All the details are at the #linkinprofile. If you identify as a woman, you already have the first requirement in the bag in order to join us & all who are interested will need to apply. #women2women
Do you prefer Mountains or Valleys? In New York City we've got both. And a jungle ๐Ÿ˜ They're just all man-made ๐Ÿ˜œ #newyorkornowhere
I know I know it's Monday and we don't need distractions cause we're busy slaying the day..... but just in case you want a mental break, I invite you to visit the #linkinprofile and come away with me to @fslanai so we can @visitlanai ๐ŸŒด I promise you a paradise that's far enough from home to feel like another world, but close enough that all it takes to get there is a plane and a short ride on a ferry. From the boat you'll see whales, perhaps dolphins. On the island you'll ride horses and off-road in a @jeep. You'll have the most healthy-yet-delicious food and you'll likely make a few new feathered friends! ๐ŸŒบ It's all possible when you #lethawaiihappen โ˜€๏ธ