Posts for TRAVEL Category

SAINT JAMES PARIS

TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - February 9, 2019

Breakfast in bed at SAINT JAMES PARIS

 

 

SAINT JAMES PARIS

Saint James Paris is a feast for your eyes, it is a place you need to experience. Upon entering this renovated chateau from 1892 you are taken into another world, a world of luxury, opulence, and delight. It is situated in the heart of Paris in the 16th arrondisement, close to Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and many beautiful Parisian terraces.

The hotel offer a Michelin starred restaurant and a Guerlain spa to help you feel like royalty. If you stay here, you’ll be joining the ranks of Hollywood celebrities such as Whitney Houston, Boris Becker, Sophia Loren, Robert DeNiro and the list goes. Interesting fact, the hotel happens to be located on the first aerodome site in Paris, where the hot air balloons took off.

Saint James Paris offers the perfect backdrop for any tourist to take envy worthy photos as you can see from evidence below. A home away from home, I can’t wait to go back!

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TANADEWA Luxury Villas & Spa BALI

TRAVEL, WHERE TO STAY - Zara Durrani - August 25, 2018

Bali is the perfect destination to escape the Canadian winter, specially Vancouver rain. Even though this trip was during the rainy season, I was lucky to get plenty on sunshine. If you’re wondering when is the right time to visit Bali, I say NOW. This was my second time going to Bali, and I quickly remembered why I loved this magical and mystical place that draws hundreds and thousands from around the world, whether on a solo adventure, to find love, or to pray!

My first 4 nights were spent at the beautiful Tanadewa Luxury resort villas & spa. This gem is located close to the airport only 15-20 minutes away depending on traffic. The staff at Tanadewa made this winter escape to Bali feel like a visit to paradise, extremely hospitable and generous.

If you visit Bali I suggest staying at Tanadewa to experience breakfast in pool, and the amazing and rejuvenating rose bath.

 

Tanadewa Breakfast in Pool

Tanadewa Breakfast in Pool

 

Breakfast in Pool

 

Rose Bath – Tanadewa Luxury Villas & Spa Bali

 

 

 

 

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One Month in Paris

TRAVEL, Uncategorized - Zara Durrani - March 12, 2018

Today marks one month in Paris. I woke up feeling mixed emotions. Perhaps because since I got here or even before I have been working non-stop.

I remember telling my friends, including myself prior to my move, I’m moving to Europe so I can slow down a bit, not work 16 hour days. Here they call my go-getter vibe “the American way”. Oh you’re so American (actually Canadian). My friend Evie from London reminded me to reflect on the past month, and take in the fact that I actually made the move. It takes guts to make any kind of change. So perhaps today, right now I’ll sit down and acknowledge that I am following my heart and my dreams.

What this past month has taught me

  1. There is no problem! Seems to be the famous line I hear from every Parisian. Perhaps it’s my North American workaholic stress case mentality but I could use this attitude. When a client doesn’t pay on time or life is not going as planned I need to remind myself with a heavy french accent “Relax, there’s no problem!”
  2. Do life on your own terms. Live where you want to live. Drink what you want to drink.
  3. Listen to your heart.
  4. Focus on the good. Make a list of things that are going well, instead of the one thing that is not going as planned.
  5. Speak up. Say what’s on your heart or mind.
  6. Don’t waste your life living someone else’s dream.
  7. Trust that everything is going to work out. The universe has your back!
  8. Do the work, then let go!

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”  Women who Run with the Wolves

Photos by Kai He from Fashion News Live

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Barefoot in Bali

TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - March 3, 2018

Chilling in Bali

Chilling in Bali

Dreaming of an afternoon like this.

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Santa Monica Mornings

TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - December 18, 2017

Santa Monica Beach Santa Monica

 

When do we decide adulting means being serious all the time to the point of grumpy, carrying so much stress around in our bodies that it causes disease, barely sleeping, over caffeinating etc. The phrase you hear everyone saying is “i’m so busy, or so overworked” as it’s a state to attain. When did the meaning of success shift to this.

My goal for 2018 is to make pleasure and joy my goal. Like that meme of Kate Moss on instagram why can’t I have fun all the time! Well perhaps minus the booze and cocaine. Saying yes to more fun and more adventures. It’s past 2 am, and I’m planning a grand escape with one of my dear friends, somewhere sunny, quiet (hopefully!).

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Recently I realized this is the first year I took a few actual, real vacations Santa Monica, London, Barcelona, Paris, Figueres. I still have a Figueres guide coming! The years before all my travel was more of a workation. It’s good to be driven and have dreams we aspire to, but it’s more important for our mental health to create a divide between work and personal life.

So maybe I shouldn’t bring my macbook into my bedroom and send emails from bed as per feng shui.

These photos below were taken by my photographer friend Juhn Kwon, who is super lovely and lives in Korea Town in Los Angeles. We first met earlier this year in January, and when I headed to take a week to myself after my mother’s passing in June, Juhn decided it could be nice to capture photos in the morning. This beach was literally in front of my apartment in Santa Monica that my friend Brad was gracious enough to let me house sit while he headed out east.

There’s something so divine about heading to the beach in the morning around 6 am. On this day in Santa Monica, not so far from the famous pier, there were only a handful of surfers, who crazy like me and my friend were trying to capture the magic of a beautiful grey morning. The waves were pretty high and majestic which I don’t get to experience in Vancouver. I took this 10 day trip by myself, and made it a point to journal everyday and get to at least one yoga class a day. This way part of my healing process after my mother’s passing. One of the things I’ve come to realize over the years, solitude is not that scary, quite comforting actually and healing if you want it to be.

 

Santa Monica

Santa Monica Beach

 

Santa Monica

Enjoying morning air in Santa Monica

 

Santa Monica

Quite Morning in Santa Monica

 

 

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Moving to Paris

INSPIRATION, TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - December 14, 2017

Moving to Paris

Paris has served as a longstanding muse for poets, artists and writers for centuries. To pursue his dreams of being a writer young Earnest Hemingway moved to Paris from Chicago in his  early twenties. He was advised to live with a community of artists, poets and writers, so he could travel and pursue his dream of writing. Hemingway was inspired to write “A Moveable Feast” among other works while his time in France.

Csikszentmihalyi said  it’s better to move somewhere new than it is to will yourself to be more creative.

This has been a year of big change and transition for me. Earlier this year I imagined myself to be packing for sunny LA by December. And here I am writing this post sharing my love for Paris. A city that has stolen my heart and soul. I truly feel I am cheating on LA, but sometimes one needs to take big risks, specially when your calling is more of an artistic nature. An artist cannot will himself to be inspired.

There is something special, divine and mystical about Paris that calls artists and dreamers.

Eiffel Tower in the Fall

Eiffel Tower in the Fall by Stephane Guillot

So as I write this, I may as well share I’m working towards making Paris home for a year. Something in my heart has been aching for a change of scenery and more adventure and excitement, and also simplicity.

If you asked me six months ago that I would be making this decision, – packing up selling everything, giving up my acting career well putting it on hold, along with my LA dreams and really pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’d say you were absolutely out of your mind.
2017 has been an interesting year, A very challenging, painful, rewarding, adventurous, a year of growth in every way possible. I lost my mother to oral cancer after a year-long battle. I lived in the hospital with her for a month during her last days along with making the decision to remove her from IV which was pretty much her life-support since she had lost her ability to swallow. Anyone who has lost a parent will tell you the pain is unbearable, specially if it’s a single parent, and specially if they’re young. My mom celebrated Mother’s Day, then a week later her 52nd birthday and three days after she passed away peacefully  surrounded by her children. I started making funeral arrangements a month and a half prior just so I was prepared when the time came. And I will tell you nothing can prepare you for this experience. There have been many nights of crying, and questioning life, and the purpose of it all.
The aftermath of this experience was I realized I wanted to passionately commit to living my life in a bigger more fulfilling way than ever before. That also meant that I needed to commit to my happiness, to really looking inwards and deciding and asking myself what is it that I truly want. Seeing my beautiful mother vanish away as the cancer ate her up, I knew I wanted to have the experiences that she had always desired. At a young age I remember my mother’s passion for France and Italy. We traveled throughout Southeast Asia, literally country hopping, seeing if it was somehow possible for us to enter Europe through our Pakistani passport. I know one of the reasons I’m even in Canada today is because of my mothers wish to see me live a life filled with opportunities and possibilities and to use my God-given talents.
Jardin de Tuileries

Jardin de Tuileries by Stephane Guillot

On my recent trip to Europe I went with the intention of speaking to clients to see if it was somehow possible for me to live and work in Europe. The last few months made me realize sometimes we have to give up who we think we are in order to really become who we need to be. And death of a loved one can make you question your own life, and where it’s headed. For the last three years I’ve had an inward obsession, a strong desire to go to Europe and I could not explain it but there was just something pulling me towards that part of the world. On my second last day in Paris one of my girlfriends mentioned how the French government had extended the age of the work holiday visa program at Canada. I came back to Vancouver with a stomach filled with butterflies and my head filled with dreams that I could be living in Paris – the city for artists, lovers, and dreamers. Three weeks ago my visa was approved, and I purchased my one-way ticket and booked my apartment the very same day. And I’m not gonna lie right after that I started freaking out wondering if I had made the right decision.Since coming back to Vancouver on October 15 I obsessively started looking at apartments and flights and budgeting how soon I could get Paris.

In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist when the boy is on the right path and following his heart the entire universe seemed to conspire to support him on his journey. I feel very much the same way. I had done a pop up earlier this year after my mothers passing to do something creative to help me with the grieving process. So I got the idea to do another consignment pop up out of my apartment in Yaletown. And instead of renting a location this time I was saving on the overhead cost. And this way I figured all the ladies coming would get more of a personalized styling session. My pop-up was a huge success and I’ve been able to pretty much sell everything with great ease including my furniture.
I would’ve loved more time to prep before this big move but I want to be in Paris for fashion week, when the world comes to Paris to get inspired. But there is no right time to follow your heart, and sometimes when you know you just, know – whether is with lovers, career choices, or cities. Sometimes we need to jump into the ocean and trust we will swim gracefully and with ease and be support on that journey. The biggest growth only happens when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, that’s when we find out what we are really made of.

 

“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”

Thomas Jefferson

 

Pont Alexandre iii by Stephane Guillot

Pont Alexandre iii by Stephane Guillot

 

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Airport Style – Traveling to Europe

FASHION & LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - December 13, 2017

Airport Style

 

So this is what I wore for my recent trip to Paris. I’m a budget traveler, and I found a great deal, with a four hour layover enroute to Charles Du Gaulle. And a direct flight back on my way to Vancouver (where I’m based) flying Delta.

I skipped jeans, and very Vancouverite of me to opt for my new Aritzia Tna mid rise black tights, which pretty much looked like pants in my defence. And I wore a fabulous score from a movie set sale, a Club Monaco coat.

I flew for about 16 hours, from Vancouver to Minneapolis, and then finally to Paris. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the MSP airport was, and if you need a minor chiro adjustment, there’s a chiropractor available! How cool.

After finally arriving in Paris it took about 3 hours in the lineup to clear customs. Who knew there would be a massive lineup at 7 am!

I was so grateful to be wearing something comfortable and chic. However, my little booties from H&M were making me dream of walking barefoot.

So if you’re reading this, and have an international long flight ahead of you, I recommend getting into your most comfortable pants and shoes. But not PJs! It’s been said in many articles written by flight attendants, you do get treated better based on what you’re wearing.

There have been passengers who weren’t allowed to board for wearing denim cutoff shorts on a domestic flight in the US.

One of the lessons, I learnt from this trip was to not wear brand new shoes on a long flight. They may be comfortable for an hour or so, but if you have to go from one end of the airport to the other, or in my case at Charles Du Galle, wait for 3 hours to finally collect baggage, maybe wear flat boots, or sneakers instead.

 

Travel Style - Minneapolis International Airport


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London Calling

TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - December 5, 2017

London Calling

This was my first visit to London. I’ve passed through Heathrow but never got a chance to see what this historic city had to offer. I booked a last minute flight to London that got me into Luton, escaping Barcelona before the riots in October. If you’re trying to fly on budget I suggest pay extra and fly into Heathrow or Gatwick as you will end up paying more to get into the city regardless.

Did you know museums in London allow admission by donation! Anything otherwise, Londoners find quite absurd!! Vancouver Art Gallery and LACMA please take note. Also, when entering a museum get ready to have your bags checked by security.

There is literally a museum district where you can just hop from Victoria and Albert Museum to Natural History or Science. During my visit to this historical city, I made my way to Tate Modern, V&A, Natural History and Science museum. Definitely need a full day to explore the Tate.

Vicoria & Albert museum or V&A as the locals call it, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and designs, showcasing 4.5 millions objects. V&A has been around since 1852, named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

I spent the afternoon with DJ and photographer Stefan Oboski in the museum district. As you may notice from the photos we also found a pink wall around the corner from V&A that I became quite obsessed with, obviously.

Photos by StefanOboski.com

Skincare by Lougheed Laser Centre

Lashes by Beauty Couture

Jeans: TopShop

T-shirt: Zara

Faux Fur Coat: H & M

 

Museum District in London

Museum District in London

 

Outside Victoria & Albert Museum

Outside Victoria & Albert Museum

V&A in London

V&A in London

London Natural History Museum

London Natural History Museum

London Natural History Museum

 

 

London Street Art

London Street Art

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How to Spend One Day in Paris

TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - December 3, 2017

How to Spend One Day in Paris

There is so much to do in Paris that it can make anyone overwhelmed. Following is a recount of my last day in Paris on a sunny October day. I wanted to make the most of this day, not knowing when I will return to my favourite city that makes my heart flutter. I personally prefer to take the metro and walk around any city I visit, rather than jumping on a tour bus. Also, I suggest to not try to pack your day too much, you can always make another trip to Paris – go slow and enjoy the city at a leisurely pace. Sit down at a cafe, rest your feet when needed and take in this paradise of a city.

That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me.

Love this line from Midnight in Paris. The funny thing is I was never one of those girls, who were obsessed with Paris – until last year. A work opportunity took me to Brussels, and being so close to Paris I felt obliged to take up the opportunity to visit this historical and big touristic attraction. And boy did I fall in love, madly at first sight! To be honest I always expected to share my experience with a loved one, but I thoroughly enjoyed the city, sipping in every sight. So, if you’re reading this, don’t wait to visit Paris …. start planning your trip.

Now that i’ll be moving to Paris soon I’ll have plenty of time to explore the nooks and crannies. But I wanted to share my last day in the city of lights from my most recent trip in October. What a glorious last day in Paris! It was about 24 C, sun shining bright, I was almost sweating as I walked with my new friend from one end to the other.

These are photos from an unplanned shoot with photographer and director AJ Chag. We met at the YSL museum but the lineup would’ve taken hours to get in even on Saturday morning. Our one hour coffee turned into a full day walking adventure around Paris.

Along with my new friend I walked along Seine towards Palais Garnier, Jardin des Tuileries, Louvre and then ended up at Musee D’Orsay. By the time we got to Musee D’Orsay I was famished, and was delighted to find a restaurant there.

 

Paris 16th arrondissement

Paris 16th arrondissement

 

The Fountain at Place de la Concorde

The Fountain at Place de la Concorde

 

 Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries

Restaurant at Musee D'Orsay

Restaurant at Musee D’Orsay

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Starry Night by VanGogh

Starry Night by VanGogh

Musee du Louvre

Musee du Louvre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Pack for Europe

FASHION & LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL - Zara Durrani - September 28, 2017

Packing to Europe

 

Pack for Europe, Packing your entire life in a suitcase for a two week get away can be a daunting task. Even more so, when you know you will be shooting in some of the most iconic sites in Paris and London. I have myself permission to buy a carryon suitcase once in Paris. Let’s be realistic, Paris is any fashionista’s ultimate fantasy, and the architecture making an amazing backdrop for the photos. One of my friends asked me, do people really come back after they leave for Paris. Good point!

I started putting outfits away a few weeks back out of sheer excitement. Normally, I am the eleventh hour packer but for all the shoots planned in Paris and London some prep is needed. I’m actually decided to try the looks beforehand just to save space and to only bring clothes I’m actually going to wear. Here are some of my top tips for packing for a trip to Europe in Fall.

1- Suitcase

After years with my beloved old school suitcase, whose wheels barely anymore – and the poor thing has been everywhere with me from Bali to Santa Fe. One can get attached to suitcases, the airports, the memories. Sorry love, time to trade you in for a newer model!

So I decided to purchase a new hard covered expandable suitcase with 8 spinner wheels. As I will be going from Paris to Barcelona to London then back to Paris. I shopped for my suitcase at Winners as they carry a wide assortment of designers luggage (that is not just black or grey). Considering my shopping habits, expandable I opted for an expandable suitcase, that has hard cover but also ultra light weight. That is an important point since I’ll be shopping, and if you’re like me you want to be mindful of how much your suitcase minus the clothes weighs. And flying between Europe airline carriers charge extra for medium to extra large suitcases.

2- Weather Appropriate

I know you must be excited for your upcoming trip. But friend, don’t forget to check the weather! I know this is something very easily forgotten while trying to leave your apartment in order, packing, finishing work commitments etc. Last night before my final packing, i double checked the weather for the three cities I will be visit, Paris, Barcelona and London. As we know London, is more grey then Raincouver (Vancouver). So pack an umbrella, unlike me! I have a collection of umbrellas at home from lace frilly ones, to small ones from hotels … and I completely forgot to put one in my suitcase. I’m sitting at Minneapolis airport as I write this, I’ll find to go searching for one here. I like being prepared for all situations!

As i’m going to three countries, with different climates so layers are important. Friends that are in Paris right now mentioned it’s been warm enough to wear a dress, but on some days temperature drop down to 7C. Very bipolar weather so better to be prepared with coats, scarves, sweaters etc.

I packed in some short dresses and skirts last night and a pair of black tights to go with them. Very chic Parisian look if i must say so myself!

3- Shoes

No you cannot wander around  Versailles and Louvre and all over Barcelona in a pair of stilettoes no matter how gorgeous they look. Okay maybe you can, but I can’t anymore. So yesterday I purchased a modest 3 inch heel black ankle boot from H&M. I have been wearing them at the airport, they go great with my all black outfit today and are easy to slip on and off for customs. The goal is to look fab and effortless and be comfortable. Yes it is possible.

I have also packed a pair of freshly washed slip on white converse, a cute pair or skin tone brown round toe heels. I like the idea of having a pair of neutral heels as they are versatile and will pop out with any outfit, whether skinny jeans or a red gown (which I have packed as well, one has to be prepared my friend).

4- Jackets

Wear your heaviest jacket, then it’s on you and keeping you warm during the long flight. I have packed two faux fur jacket one is beige and the other white. I know they look sort of similar but not quite. I justify packing them both because I want to be photographed in them in Paris. At the airport I decided to wear my Club Monaco wool coat with baby calf lining on the outside. It is tres chic!

5- Hats

Hats are a fantastic way to accessorize and add some panache to your outfit. I’m packing three different berets in my suitcase, a paperboy cap, Brooklyn toque and LA cap! Okay a little obsessive with hats.  I feel it’s a great way to pull an outfit together and add your personality to your look.

Bon voyage! And remember not all those who wander all lost.

All photos by Peter So

Clothing: Blushing Boutique & Middle Sister

Shoes: Miz Mooz on West 4th

Pack for Europe

 

Pack

Pack for Europe

 

Pack for Europe

 

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