Luis Barragán, CDMX

Barragan_AHartwell15.jpg

The vast majority of my Mexico photos fall into two camps: 1) The dogs of Mexico and 2) Luis Barragán architecture. And on rare occasions, the stars aligned and I came across dogs who resided at Luis Barragán homes–representing the overlapping portion of my life's passion venn diagram.

I managed to visit four of Barragán's homes during the final week of my month-long stay in Mexico City (it was a Barragán Marathon of sorts): Casa Gilardi (images above and below), Casa Luis Barragán (his home and studio), Casa Prieto-Lopez (now known as Casa Pedregal), and Cuadra San Cristóbal.

Barragan_AHartwell11.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell9.jpg
 

Each home offers a different glimpse into Barragán's psyche and the way he so thoughtfully approached his work. Casa Gilardi (above) is a family home located on a quiet street near Chapultepec park. As a long-time color-rejector, this home shook me to the core of my neutral-colored heart. Barragán's affinity for rich, vibrant colors often made it feel as if you were touring an actual painting. 

Next was Casa Pedregal (below) which sits in the Pedregal neighborhood in the southern region of Mexico City. This house was built for the Prieto Lopez family during the 1940s and has since changed owners a couple times. What's most noteworthy and impressive about this home is the integration of the natural landscape into the architecture (literally). Casa Pedregal was essentially built upon a field of volcanic rock and Barragán managed to artfully incorporate it into the landscaping and the interior.

 
Barragan_AHartwell30.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell18.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell7.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell10.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell28.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell23.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell20.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell34.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell31.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell27.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell4.jpg

The grand finale was Cuadra San Cristobal–Barragán's house and horse stables that you've likely unknowingly seen already in some sort of luxury fashion ad. The grounds here are expansive and the groundskeepers there at the time were pretty DGAF about what's off limits (making it tempting to take one of the many resident horses on a joyride through the pool). There was no formal tour here as there were at the other homes, so I recommend doing this one last once you have some context.

 
Barragan_AHartwell14.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell12.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell35.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell22.jpg
Barragan_AHartwell13.jpg
 
Barragan_AHartwell29.jpg
 

If you're visiting Mexico City, I HIGHLY recommend squeezing in as many tours of Barragán's homes as possible. The tour booking information was a little tricky to find online so here are the contact emails and booking sites for the homes:

Casa Luis Barragán: book tour here (Tours book up months in advance here so book as early as possible!)
Casa Gilardi: casagilardi@gmail.com
Casa Pedregal: visitas@casapedregal.com
Cuadra San Cristóbal: cuadrasancristobal@gmail.com
 

The Timber Cover Resort

 
HartwellTimberCove5.jpg
 

Last month, I took a spontaneous personal retreat (a Metreat, if you will) to the Timber Cove Resort–a cozy lodge nestled atop the cliffs of the Sonoma coast. It's about a two hour drive from San Francisco–the majority of which takes place alongside the rugged and foggy coastline (not recommended as a nightime endeavor). 

 
HartwellTimberCove1.jpg
 
HartwellTimberCove6.jpg
HartwellTimberCove1.jpg
 
HartwellTimberCove4.jpg
 

The resort itself strikes the perfect balance of bouge and nature (a winning combo). The grounds are scattered with unmarked trails that take you alongside the stunning (albeit, treacherous) Sonoma cliffs for expansive views of the coast. The moodiness and cold is intensified when the fog rolls in, which amplifies the coziness of the resort itself. And the rooms—equipped with electric fireplaces, wool blankets and a record player—really put the cozy levels over the top.

 
HartwellTimberCove12.jpg
HartwellTimberCove14.jpg
HartwellTimberCove8.jpg
 
 
HartwellTimberCove7.jpg
 
HartwellTimberCove10.jpg
HartwellTimberCove13.jpg
 
HartwellTimberCove3.jpg
 

The facilities are equipped with fire pits, a cliffside bocce court, and other recreational activities, but it also boasts ample opportunity for peace and solitude. Whatever the vibe you're going for, Timber Cove will most certainly deliver.

One month in France, Part II: Southern France

 
IMG_1684.JPG
 

During the third week of my month-long soiree in France, I planned a week in the south with some friends from home. I took the train from Paris to L’Isle-sur-la-Sourge (with a short layover/transfer in Avignon) where I met up with friends. From there, we rented a car and eventually made our way to Nice over the course of 6 days.

I’m not going to waste my breath trying to convince you of the merits of the South of France—it’s everything you assume it to be and more. It’s one of those places that you can mould to fit your own personal vacation style—outdoorsy adventurists, beach loungers, art mongers, foodies, wine-os, social isolationists—there’s truly an offering for everyone. 

 
IMG_2821.JPG
 

Here are the places we stopped and stayed during our journey:

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (below): This was our first stop in Provence, located about 40 minutes east of Avignon by train. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is island-like in that it’s surrounded by a mellow river, making it charmingly picturesque and walkable (you can walk the perimeter of the island in about 40 minutes). It was also french antique HEAVEN. There were so many antique shops on and surrounding the island, adding fuel to the fire of my provencal farmhouse dreams. 

We stayed at this lovely B&B, run by the most adorable and friendly proprietor and perfectly situated by the side of the river. Other reccos here include dinner al fresco at Le Jardin du Quai, vegan/GF baked goods from Vert Bouteille, and wine and cheese at Chez Stéphane

IMG_2815.JPG
IMG_2839.JPG
 
IMG_2180.JPG
 
IMG_2814.JPG
IMG_1692.JPG
 
IMG_1691.JPG
 
IMG_1597.JPG
IMG_2179.JPG

Gordes (below): Having rented a car, Gordes was an easy day trip from L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (30ish minute drive). It's a stunning hillside town overlooking the Luberon valley. Had we been feeling spendy, we would have shelled out to stay at La Bastide de Gordes, but alas we settled for a glass of 6 euro rose at a restaurant terrace next door. Even for just a couple hours, Gordes is well-worth a visit for the views alone. 

IMG_1690.JPG
IMG_1684.JPG
IMG_2948.JPG

Chateau La Coste (below): We made an afternoon stopover at Chateau La Coste on our way from L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to Aix-en-Provence. The grounds here are one part winery and one part modern art and architecture mecca (a winning combination by my book). The self-guided walking tour is a great way to explore the property (with a rosé roadie) and you'll stumble upon installations by art and architecture greats like Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, Alexander Calder, and Louise Bourgeois (to name a few). There's plenty of dining options available that require advance reservations, but the outdoor terrace is a perfectly pleasant spot to sit and order bottles of wine in a more casual setting..

IMG_2811.JPG
IMG_2822.JPG

Aix en Provence: We only really spent the evenings in Aix as we were out and about embarking on day trips during the days, but the little time we did spend wandering the streets was entirely delightful! While we didn't have a chance to eat anywhere but mediocre tourist traps, these spots came recommended: Maison Nosh, La Cita, Les Vieilles Canailles.

Cassis (below): Cassis is a coastal village close to Marseille and about a 40-50 minute drive from Aix. The town itself is stunning, but hiking to the calanques is what really makes it really worth visiting. We parked along the street in town and then followed the signs for the hiking path. The hike was maybe a mile or two to get to the first calanque and views along the way were incredible. Bring food and plenty of water because there's no sort of refreshment situation once you're on the trail.

IMG_2184.JPG
IMG_1876.JPG

Antibes (below): We stopped quickly in Antibes for lunch, during our drive from Aix to Nice. We only spent a couple hours there but the streets were picturesque and the beach scene appeared to be, as the French say, légitime.

IMG_3037.JPG
IMG_2823.JPG
IMG_2841.JPG

Monaco: The afternoon we arrived in Nice, we took the train to Monaco to do some exploring and check "visit a micro-country" off the bucket list. Monaco boasted outstanding views, beautiful architecture, but proved difficult when wanting to find a place to grab a bite and a drink (we ended up at a Four Seasons, drinking 20-euro martinis, overlooking a giant sand dredging operation). Cool spot, but do some homework prior to have some aim to your visit.

Nice (below): I can't tell you why but for some reason I had lower expectations for Nice and I was so pleasantly surprised. The architecture was impressive, the beaches were gorgeous, and the sunsets...UNREAL (and that's coming from a Southern Californian). One of my favorite parts of the entire trip was an evening walk where we became mesmerized watching the local cliff jumpers doing acrobatics into the ocean as the sun went down. The light was surreal and made it feel as if you'd been transported into a Monet painting.

We stayed in the Old Town (which I'd recommend) where there was so much within walking distance and no need for a car (between trains and Uber, it was plenty easy to get around).

 
IMG_3034.JPG
 
IMG_2234.JPG
IMG_2845.JPG
 
IMG_3033.JPG
 

Villefranche-sur-Mer: Adorable little seaside town right nextdoor to Nice. Our train made a stop here on our way to Monaco and we were so charmed by the look of it that we stopped and had dinner there on our way back.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat: Paloma Beach came highly recommended by a couple friends and it did not disappoint. It encapsulated everything I had imagined in my dreams of the South of France. We took an Uber from Nice (about 40 mins) and while it was a little pricey, it was well worth not having to navigate the winding and narrow streets ourselves (plus you got to gaze out the windows at some of the most breathtaking views). There are a couple of beach clubs that you can make a reservation at to secure yourself a lounge chair and towel, but slumming it on the beach (which was what we did) was perfectly pleasant as well.

 
IMG_2819.JPG
 
IMG_3038.JPG
IMG_2842.JPG

One month in France, Part I: Paris

 
IMG_2662.JPG
 

Earlier this year, sometime between the umpteenth day of consistent rain and Trump's first 8 seconds in office, I decided I wanted to spend a solo month abroad in a foreign city. I finally felt like I had my feet under myself as a freelancer and after two years of an intercontinental travel hiatus, I was craving something significant. The idea of parking myself in a city for an extended period and commingling with the locals felt exciting and far less intimidating than sorting out the logistics of a whirlwind, multi-destination trip.

I toyed with the thought of a few different places, but alas, my mind kept returning me to Paris. Despite having never been to France before, my gut reassured me it would not disappoint. I could see myself strolling the cobblestone streets of Paris just as easily as I could see myself sunbathing atop the bow of a yacht off the coast of St. Tropez (only one of those visions came to fruition, FYI). So, August in France it was.

IMG_2778.JPG
IMG_2641.JPG
IMG_0734.JPG

Naturally, I had my hesitations about the prospect of spending a month alone in a foreign country: What if I’m crippled with homesickness? What if I decide early on that I hate France? What if I OD on bread and cheese and my snowflake Californian digestive system goes into shock? But upon arrival in Paris, my nerves were instantly quelled by the spirit of the city and my concerns about a month being too long instantly morphed into anxieties around a month being too short (which snowballed into a mid-trip freakout, a resulting 4-day trip extension, and a flood of concern from family and friends back home who had become increasingly skeptical of my return plans).

 
IMG_1491.JPG
 
IMG_2639.JPG
IMG_0703.JPG
 
IMG_0896.JPG
 
IMG_2681.JPG
IMG_1086.JPG
 
IMG_2648.JPG
 

I conducted an ample amount of research before deciding where to stay and landed on an adorably Parisian flat in the 9th arrondissement, close to Pigalle. Despite hearing mixed reviews of the 9th (former/current red light district undergoing gentrification), it was easily one of my favorite neighborhoods in all of Paris. It was vibrant, charming, safe, trendy and with more local flavor than some of the more centralized neighborhoods. The streets were dotted with great restaurants, bars, coffee shops, boutiques and local markets that felt removed from the beaten tourist path.

 
IMG_1083.JPG
 
IMG_0922.JPG
IMG_0808.JPG
 
IMG_1075.JPG
 
IMG_2656.JPG
IMG_1212.JPG

Aside from a weeklong jaunt in the South of France with friends from home (to be recapped in Part II of this post), I spent the majority of my days in Paris being a flâneuse, wandering the streets, museum hopping and chasing the dots on my Paris Google Map that I meticulously populated during the months leading up to my trip (go ahead and make fun of it and then realize how useful it is. I’ll wait...). I kept a book in my purse that became my companion at coffee shops, parks and bars and a Spotify playlist that provided the soundtrack to my wandering and kept me sedated at overly crowded museums. I was living in an introvert’s paradise. 

I took full advantage of the opportunity to travel alone and designed the entire trip to my own preferences–a delightfully selfish indulgence that I highly recommend to anyone with the chance. It allowed me to experience Paris on my terms, making it all the more personally meaningful and special. 

IMG_1084.JPG
IMG_2634.JPG
IMG_2781.JPG
IMG_2653.JPG
IMG_2651.JPG

I found that being solo pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way that was far more invigorating than intimidating. I approached it as a chance to build my Parisian life from scratch–sourcing the experiences that were important to me and omitting the things that weren’t, without guilt (for example, I didn’t have a single fucking croissant and I have zero fucking regrets about it. There. I said it.).  Being a world class introvert, I even managed to surprise myself by making friends and establishing a small-scale social life that introduced me to parts of Paris I wouldn't have otherwise discovered (let alone, with such wonderful new friends!). 

IMG_2779.JPG
IMG_2660.JPG
IMG_2659.JPG

When it finally came time to leave, I found myself wildly unprepared for the onslaught of feels that shared an Uber with me to the airport and stuck around the entire flight home. OF COURSE, I played out the whole “what if I didn’t get on the plane?” scenario over and over in my head, but my beleaguered bank account and the small contingency of rational brain cells I had left conspired against me, delivering the final shove through the jet bridge and onto my flight. Albeit begrudgingly, I was grateful to close out the trip on a high note, reestablish myself as a contributing member of society, and above all–return to the glory of Trump’s America. 

(Please catch my sarcasm.)

 
IMG_2657.JPG
 
IMG_2650.JPG
IMG_0898.JPG
 
IMG_2631.JPG
 

One of the bittersweet side effects of travel is that on one hand you're left with a fortune of unforgettable experiences, but on the other, you know attempting to recreate them would be a fool’s errand. WOAH, WOAH, WOAH. TIMEOUT. That was perhaps the most privileged statement I've ever made and I’m disgusted with myself. Sorry, back to being a grateful and humble human with a shred of goddamn perspective… *snaps fingers*

Paris, you’ve earned permanent real estate in my heart and I can’t wait to be back once I’m able to sufficiently temper my expectations. Until then, I will see you in my daydreams and all over my Instagram feed... 

If you’re traveling to Paris and interested in recommendations, I documented some of my favorites here, along with a smattering on my Paris map. Also happy to chat your ear off about it over a glass or six of rosé–your call.
 

The Hacienda at Scribe

I spent this past Saturday in Sonoma with some girlfriends visiting (read: drinking merrily at) Scribe's newly (re)opened Hacienda. The revamp was executed so tastefully with minimal, modern updates that don't detract from the integrity of the original structure. The charm and history of the place still shines through, but the updates make the space interesting and functional (and working toilets always do wonders for a building).

 
 
 
 

The kitchen clearly had the most noticeable facelift of the space and it felt perfectly on-brand with Scribe's whole California-cool aesthetic. The living areas were largely untouched aside from subtle structural updates, new furnishings and modernized fireplaces.

 
Scribe Hacienda16.JPG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The entire place feels dangerously homey, so much so that I've since toyed with the idea of becoming a squatter. But until I act on that plan, I'll settle for the comfort of knowing that this little slice of heaven will always be a short drive away.

Thank You, Hillary

 
 

A good friend once recommended "strongly-worded letter-writing" as an effective form of catharsis and I've since employed the exercise several times throughout my adult life. Most of my letters are purely brain dumps that I left as drafts on my computer, however the one below I felt compelled to send and share: 

 

November 10, 2016

Dear Hillary,

This one fucking* hurts. And youof all peopleare probably like, “Yea. No fucking* shit*”. So I apologize for stating the obvious. But I spent yesterday feeling like a loved one had died (and if you read through my texts with family and close friends without context—you would probably think that was the case). In fact, if you watch what’s happening with the country right now (I hope you’re not. I hope you’re getting 7 massages per day, reading US Weekly, and have an IV drip of Chardonnay), a large number of us are very much in the throes of the grieving process.

You know all too well where my heartbreak lies: I’m a hard-working woman from a middle-class family who prides herself on her independence. I believe that inclusion and fairness are what make our country great. I believe that the decisions a woman makes regarding her body are hers alone to make. I’ve seen and experienced the benefits of The Affordable Care Act. And I have several email accounts that I have created for convenience purposes.

You get why I’m upset.

But, after some reflection, here are just a few things that you, your campaign, and this election have inspired me to do moving forward:

  1. Exercise empathy. Human suffering is no joke. If someone is unhappy, dissatisfied, feeling marginalized—seek to truly understand WHY— if you don’t already. Consider what you would do if in the same shoes. Demand this quality of your peers and instill it in your children.
  2. Maintain grace under fire. When they went low you went high. Michelle may have written the words but you inspired them.
  3. Stay awake. I live in San Francisco where I share political beliefs in-line with much of the population. And I admittedly get complacent because of it. Shame on anyone who fails to look beyond their immediate surroundings when taking the temperature of society. 

I’ll cut the rambling and leave you with this: Voting for you was one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my life to-date. I will always remember the morning of 11/8/16—the optimism I felt heading to the polls, women and men attempting their best efforts at assembling pantsuit ensembles, the heartwarming sight of parents voting with their kids, the annoyance I felt when I realized after 30 minutes I was in the wrong precinct line, the moment of pause I took before marking your name to let it ALL soak in...

I didn’t just vote for the first female president in our history, I voted for someone who would have made a fucking* great president. 

What I’ve been meaning to say through all of this is thank you. Thank you for all the fighting you’ve done. Thank you for paving the way. Thank you for showing it CAN be done. Even though it wasn’t this time, YOU'RE responsible for the fire that was just lit in the woman WHO IS going to do it.

Now go enjoy some well-deserved R&R.

With respect and gratitude, 

Ali Hartwell

*I would never speak to a president using such foul language. But since you didn’t make it into office, I feel ok giving you my unfiltered emotion. (Too soon??)

If you'd like to send Hillz a thank you note too, you can find here mailing address here (thanks to my Aunt Betsy for sending the tip). 

#Onward