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New York Goth travel guide! Ryan & Regina Cohn’s Oddities Flea Market, House of Wax bar, Archer Hotel NYC.

midtown hotel empire state building view

New York, New York. It’s always good to be back.

A lot has changed since I lived here (it seems I’m in reminiscence mode these days). NYC has become a different world than the one I knew: there’s now WiFi in the subways; everyone relies on smartphones for getting around, and takes Ubers to parties in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, I can recall the days of flip-phones and the Korova Milk Bar!

Still, this remains “Gotham City.” I was delighted to meet up with friends old and new, and check out NY’s latest Goth / bizarre bars, club nights and more. 

Read on for an exclusive look at House of Wax bar, the upcoming Oddities Flea Market run by Ryan and Regina Cohn…

stella rose saint clair fashion designer

… as well as Stella Rose’s pop up fashion boutique, Gothic nightlife, and tips for alternative travelers!

archer hotel nyc new york room

This time, I stayed at Archer Hotel NYC right in midtown Manhattan. If you’re only in the city for a few days and love boutique design hotels, then this is the place for you.

(Keep scrolling down for a full look inside, including the epic view of the Empire State from their rooftop bar.)

Ryan Matthew Cohn, Regina Marie Cohn

While I was in New York, Ryan Matthew Cohn and Regina Marie Cohn invited me to visit them in Brooklyn. As you can see in these images, their home is a treasure trove of morbid curiosities!

It was a joy to see Ryan’s infamous skull collections in person, as well as pet their British Shorthair cat, Percy Blue. (The white Scottish Fold, Princess Andromeda, was hiding!)

oddities tv ryan matthew cohn

I’m sure you recognize Ryan Matthew Cohn from his regular appearances on the Discovery / Science TV show, “Oddities.”

You might recall that I was a guest on Oddities; we’ve kept in touch since then, as we obviously share a love of all things dark and deathly.

ryan matthew cohn house tour

Ryan and his lovely wife Regina currently work together in this fascinating field. They source, restore and sell unique osteological artifacts and other curiosities, as well as curate, lecture and educate on these subjects.

baby human skeletons, skulls

Exciting news: Ryan and Regina recently launched an Oddities Flea Market, which brings together vendors of all things peculiar! Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson of Obscura Antiques will be two of the many participants.

Their first event was such a success that they’re now hosting a two-day market on September 30th and October 1st –– NY friends, you must come check this out.

human skull flowers inside

Ryan and Regina have brought together only the best purveyors to take part in the Oddities Market. In a single location (Brooklyn Bazaar), guests can browse and buy anatomical wonders, taxidermy, Gothic jewelry, bizarre art… you get the picture.

oddities flea market nyc

These photos of Ryan and Regina’s home give you a sense of what to expect. I spy an Anatomical Venus, medical preparations in jars, shrunken heads, and skulls galore… I could spend hours browsing their personal collections, which are enough to fill a museum!

ryan matthew cohn regina house

Ryan and Regina are constantly traveling in search of “morbid anatomy” objects, which will be available for sale at the market. Plus, you can browse dozens of tables from Blood Milk, Amber Maykut, Goldengrove Jewelry, Adam Wallacavage, Meagan Meli and others.

exploded skulls, oddities collector

Come join Ryan Matthew Cohn, Regina Marie Cohn and friends!

What: 2nd Oddities Flea Market
When: September 30th and October 1st, from 12PM to 6PM.
Where: Brooklyn Bazaar, NY

ryan matthew cohn apartment

Ticketing: VIP pre-sale tickets are available for purchase through Atlas Obscura (act fast, Saturday is already sold out). These tickets will gain you entry at 11 am with full access to all 43 sales tables.

Or, just show up for general admission at the door, which is only $3. There’s more info on the Oddities Market RSVP page.

ryan matthew cohn wife regina

Be sure to let your New York friends know, and say hello to Regina and Ryan for me! I wish I could be there, but we’ll get together again very soon.

brooklyn bazaar oddities market vendors

Find out more news on Ryan’s Facebook page, and keep reading to peer inside the House of Wax Bar in Brooklyn that he curated…

archer hotel nyc new york

… but first, an outfit change back at Archer Hotel New York! The midtown location was near tons of subway stations, which made it easy for me to get to appointments in different boroughs. (Address: 45 W 38th St, between 5th and 6th Ave).

I love clean design, and felt right at home amidst the modern, industrial brick-and-glass decor. 

midtown boutique hotel archer

My windows had a magnificent view of the Empire State Building (see first photo in this post). Every room came with cozy robes, bedtime books and cute his-and-hers slippers. I could have lounged all day in this plush bed, surrounded by classic brick walls…

ny archer hotel lobby interior

… but when you’re in the Big Apple, you’ve got to explore! With Archer Hotel NY’s central location, you can walk to lots of local spots. I confess I made several trips to Joe’s Pizza, which has a new Times Square location for its classic New York slices.

archer hotel restaurant new york city

Right in the hotel lobby, you can enjoy a memorable dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak. The NY steakhouse reflects chef Palmer’s bold, progressive American cuisine, which draws upon seasonal / local flavors from surrounding waterways and farms.

charlie palmer restaurant cocktails appetizers

Charlie Palmer’s menu has an impressive raw bar and seafood selection. We began with the special appetizer of the day: scallop ceviche. Our server also recommended the outstanding tuna tartare with citrus ponzu, pickled ginger and sesame crisps. It went perfectly with my Midtown Manhattan with rye, aperol, bitters and grapefruit peel. (You know I love my “old man drinks,” and the cocktails here were on point.)

charlie palmer steakhouse nyc menu

Next came a perfectly seared, melt in your mouth filet mignon. It was hard to choose from the many spectacular sides available (truffle potatoes, asparagus) and sauces (the house CP sauce is recommended).

Finally, dessert: creme brulee with black currant and Tahitian vanilla creme, with passionfruit and vanilla ice cream. For a special celebratory meal with excellent service, Charlie Palmer Steak delivers big-time.

hotels near empire state nyc

A stay at Archer Hotel NY isn’t complete without a cocktail at their Spyglass Rooftop Bar. On the 22nd floor, you can take in a panoramic view of the Empire State and Chrysler Building, while sipping a crafted cocktail.

spyglass rooftop bar midtown

The Spyglass bar also has a classic Manhattan happy hour; the “Archer Palmer” with black tea-infused gin and lemon fit with the retro vibe. Cheers to Archer Hotel New York for a fantastic stay!

house of wax bar brooklyn

I enjoyed more outstanding cocktails at The House of Wax Bar in Brooklyn, with my friend Lily Streeter of Alex Streeter Jewelry. As soon as we arrived at the entrance, which is lined with 19th century death masks, we knew we were in for an adventure.

House of Wax is a little hard to find, so listen up: it’s inside the Alamo Drafthouse movie complex on the fourth floor, in the same building as Dekalb Market Hall and Trader Joe’s. (Address: 445 Albee Square).

alex streeter pentagram angel heart ring

Lily was wearing the Angel Heart pentagram ring, one of Alex Streeter’s most iconic designs. 

We examined the cocktail list by candlelight: they drew upon 19th century ingredients, and had names such as Butcher of Hanover, and Napoleon Death Mask (made with Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, Cardamaro, Cynar, rhubarb bitters.) Talk about mixology meeting the macabre!

ryan matthew cohn house of wax

I’ve been to a lot of theme bars worldwide, but this was one of the most outstanding. House of Wax features a permanent collection of 19th century wax moulages, curated by Ryan Matthew Cohn. He sourced over a hundred medical wax models from Germany, which were once used to demonstrate surgical procedures and diseases.

nyc weird strange theme bar

Lily and I loved trying the Anatomical and Pathological cocktails, which were perfectly balanced and creatively concocted with old-time ingredients. We snacked on small bites (the menu includes pretzels with cheese, edamame hummus, flatbreads and cheese boards).

Between rounds, we walked around and admired the glass display cases of wax figures, eerily lit by chandeliers.

crazy new york bars

This is not a Halloween kitsch bar. House of Wax is better described as a museum, with a mesmerizing collection that transports you back in time. Lily and I marveled at the wax renditions of diseases such as syphilis, floating hands that demonstrated operations, and painful-looking birth canals. (This collection was also once at the Morbid Anatomy Museum, which is now sadly closed.)

alamo drafthouse house wax cocktails

Behind the bar, there were dozens of New York beers on tap. I’m an absinthe aficionado though, and couldn’t resist this cocktail with an egg white foam.

Without doubt, I’ll be coming back to The House of Wax Bar with friends. I couldn’t think of a better place in NY to have a Gothic gathering.

ny jrock visual kei club

Now, time for some nightcrawling. I’ve written about Goth nights in NYC over the years; the party scene is constantly changing. Right now, a lot of the best Gothic / underground / alternative parties are in Brooklyn. 

brooklyn goth gothic parties

We started the night with a rooftop DJ set…

saint vitus bar greenpoint ny

… then headed to Saint Vitus bar in Greenpoint, for a 1980s Goth night. Quite a few Gothic dance parties take place in this venue, which has stained glass artifacts, upside-down crosses, and this resident weirdo (at first, I didn’t realize he was a mannequin!)

I reunited with my old pal Zachary, and we reminisced about fun times at the Trash! party. RIP DJ Jess Marquis…

synthwave party new york st vitus

New York’s nightlife is always evolving, and it’s not a bad thing. Zachary told me that St Vitus now has a brilliant synthwave party, called Night.Wav. As a retrowave addict, I’d love to check it out (as well as the other outrun events that are starting to bloom worldwide, like San Francisco’s Turbo Drive).

greenpoint brooklyn bars clubs

4am on the waterfront. Late, decadent, alternative nights in New York with friends… that is something that will never grow old.

stella rose saint clair pop up shop

Last but certainly not least, I stopped by the pop-up shop of my friend Stella Rose. She and I were bloggers way back in the day, and I’ve watched her grow her spirited clothing line to the success it is today.

it's stella rose clothing fashion

The boutique was filled with her charming and cheeky designs, from her It’s Stella Rose fashion collection. I have the “No Thank You” pink backpack and sheer tank top above, which she made in collaboration with Print All Over Me.

stella rose fashion boutique ny

Isn’t the Stella Rose boutique fabulously decorated? I tried on her handmade rose beret, and held on to her fuzzy pom-pom hair ties that come in different colors.

print all over me stella rose collaboration

Angry animals, tropical skirts, ghosts… the cuteness meets attitude is distinctively Stella. 

You can find these designs and more on her Stella Rose website and Facebook.

round k goth matte black latte

I ended my trip with a “Goth latte.” I heard that Round K Cafe served a matte black latte, blackened with organic coconut ash, almond paste and coconut cream. A drink for dark, lost souls.

fashion blogger nyc hotel room

Time to pack up my Minions x Away luggage, until my next trip to NYC… I’ll be back soon, as always.

Did you enjoy this peek into Ryan Matthew Cohn’s world, and Oddities Market? If you’re looking for more New York City Goth travel tips, click here – this blog has a decade’s worth of stories from the city!

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Celebrating 10 years of blogging! Perturbator concert review: synthwave outrun retro wave music, Akade 80s fashion.

retrowave synthwave fashion clothing hair

Back to the future, baby!

I’m currently obsessed with synthwave / outrunretrowave — the music genre that pays tribute to the synthesizers, video games and night driving soundtracks of the 1980s. If you’re in the same boat (or Testarossa), then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this story about Perturbator’s concert and Akade fashion.

This is a flashback post for another major reason… Believe it or not, I’ve reached my 10 year anniversary of blogging! That’s correct: I began this La Carmina blog a decade ago, on Sept 14, 2007.

We’ll celebrate this ten year milestone with a ride down memory lane, through Neo Tokyo and the Future 80s.

outrun 80s retro clothes, akade wear

Let’s start with the present: I’m currently in love with all things shiny and chrome. Since I was on my way to a futuresynth concert, I wanted to wear something along the lines of this aesthetic (imagine electric neon cityscapes and Miami’s midnight highways, circa 1983).

Unfamiliar with synthwave music? Here’s a dark gaming mix to get you in the mood. Think John Carpenter soundtracks x eighties nostalgia against pulsing, dark, spacey dance beats.

Some of my favorite synth artists are Carpenter Brut, Gost, Lazerhawk, Kavinsky, Dance with the Dead… and Perturbator, who I was about to see live.

synthwave style, retro wave model

I was “dressed to kill” in Akade Wear, an indie clothing line inspired by the retrowave revival. I’m wearing Akade’s New Retro Wave tshirt, which is unisex (I got size XS and tied the end in a bundle, as I did in the early 90s.)

I paired it with this Iron Fist silver skeleton skirt (available here), and a Spiral UK bum bag (which comes in holographic and glitter versions too). Fanny packs rule — why on earth did they go out of style?

I finished the look with a silver hair ribbon in my high sideways ponytail, silver heels, and a bomber jacket by Disturbia. It has a spider on the back, similar to the scorpion jacket in the movie Drive.

new retro wave tshirt logo

The Akade Wear fashion line is a branch of New Retro Wave, the online hub for all things outrun. They’re passionate about the musical genre and associated culture, and bring fans together with articles, streams, events, and now clothing. As they put it, “the sound, drive and sheer passion of the 80’s-90’s is one of the most refreshing sounds to hit the music scene, and has been long overdue.”

Closeup on my NRW t-shirt logo, Dark Tropics leggings, and chrome nail art. The print of palm trees and toucan birds has a rainbow sheen, matching the holographic reflections of my Iron Fist skirt.

synthwave bomber jacket 1980s

I’m having fun “living the 80s dream” in streetwear from Akade! They have a large selection of nostalgic, high-saturation designs for both men and women, and ship worldwide.

(If you’re looking for synthwave streams, check out these YouTube channels by Gelbar and NewRetroWave. I listen to them nonstop.)

perturbator concert posters, logo

Synthwave has gained ground in recent years, and the leading artists are now touring worldwide. Interestingly, a lot of my Goth friends have independently discovered and fallen in love with the genre. Many metalheads and geek-types are also drawn to the retrofuturistic sound, bringing together a fanbase from various subcultures. 

Those with a Gothic disposition tend to be fond of France’s Perturbator, who creates futuresynth with a dark edge. The pentagram posters are spot on: “Satan is a computer.” “If machines could feel the way we do, would they believe in a god?”

perturbator pentagram shirts merchandise

I was excited to see Perturbator live, at the Rickshaw Theater in Vancouver (he’s currently touring North America, with tour dates in major US and Canadian cities). The concert was close to sold out; I spotted lots of guys in long hair, girls in platform boots, and pentagrams on everyone.

perturbator performing live james kent

“The Legend Says He’s Half Human, Half Synthesizer”  — yes! James Kent (Perturbator) helmed a spaceship pod surrounded by vertical lights, which strobed and flashed blinding colors.

From the moment Perturbator took the stage, the audience never stopped moving. He delivered relentless darkwave, heavy and sinister yet uplifting: one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time.

You can see video clips from the Vancouver show above and here on my Instagram. He played many of his faster, more aggro tracks like “Satanic Rites,” “Neo Tokyo,” “Humans are Such Easy Prey.”

perturbator north american tour vancouver

I was riveted by the strobe and color effects behind him, simple yet powerful. Perturbator kept his hood on and never spoke to the crowd, but bobbed his head to the driving basslines and gestured with his hands during the climaxes.

synthwave festival music concerts

I haven’t been out to as many concerts recently, but synth-wave is changing this up. Perturbator’s live was enormously engaging, and he’s an act that you need to see in person.

You can hear more on his future-80s sound on the Perturbator bandcamp page, and check for upcoming tour dates on his Facebook.

alice wonderland tea room cosplay

During the concert, my friend turned to me and asked, “How long have you been blogging for?” My expression was like above… for I realized we had reached Year Ten!

My “La Carmina blog” launched on September 14th, 2007 — a time when blogging and social media were in their infancy. To put it mildly, a lot has happened since then.

As we reach my blog’s 10th birthday, it makes sense to do a trip down memory lane. I considered recapping the top events, but you can already find my Year in Review summaries here, and all my travel destination stories in one place.

Instead, I’ve recently been in nostalgic mode — and thought you might have fun revisiting these memories as well.

cyber goth tokyo japan futuristic

The early days of this blog (2007-2012 approximately) were very different from the current incarnation. Long-time readers will recall that I focused almost exclusively on Japanese subcultures, particularly Gothic Lolita fashion and Tokyo nightlife. 

This was a particularly exciting era in Tokyo, especially for the Goth clubbing scene, weird pop culture, and experimental style. You’ll find a lot of exciting subcultures in Japan still, but they aren’t the same as they were in the mid to late 2000s. 

tokyo dj sisen cyber goth

Looking back, I’m glad I captured this transformative time. In 2008, I spent part of the year in Tokyo, and met many of the “creatures of the night” that remain my closest friends to this day.

The Gothic nightlife was wonderfully inclusive, bringing together an electrifying group of locals and expats. In particular, Mistress Maya’s club night Midnight Mess and DJ Sisen’s parties formed the heart of the dark subculture (above is the infamous night when Covenant played).

tokyo bondage shibari rope tying

There was the feeling of anything-goes: the freedom to experiment with fashion (even if it resulted in some fails), dive into the dark arts, and dance til morning to cybergoth electro.

I always felt inspired by the clubgoers at Midnight Mess, as well as the stage shows. You might see Akira Death perform robotic metal, the Dark Marchen prance around in Rococo gowns, and Mistress Maya tie up and dominate a Sweet Lolita dolly. 

tokyo goth punk parties

Many Japanese creatives were regulars at these events, always showing up in death-disco ghoul fashion. Above is Goth designer Kenzo A, and nAo12xu of the band †13th Moon†.

dj sisen, selia midnight mess tokyo

The queens of darkness were of course DJ Sisen and Selia, who mesmerized us with her dark operetta vocals. Absinthe, corsets, feathered eyelashes, cyberlox and chains — yes please.

japan goths, gothic parties clubbing

Our personal style has all changed quite a bit since these days… but oh, we had fun!

alamode night artism gothic lolita bar

I went down the rabbit hole, and realized I’d forgotten about many of the events I’d written about in the early days.

For example, do you remember D’s Valentine? He was the master behind Alamode Market and Gothic Bar Heaven, and club nights at venues like Tamachi Cube — I haven’t thought of these places in years.

japanese body modifications split tongue

At the time, Japan’s extreme body modifications were not widely known about. Snake tongue and bagelheads, oh my!

tokyo lgbt gay clubs

I laughed at the caption I had written under this photo. “Unzipped pants and nipple tape… what more do you need in a boy?”

department h drag queen party tokyo

Department H, the hentai / drag / fetish party, has always been a funhouse and remains this way today.

tokyo goth djs clubs

Some of the people I partied with have disappeared, while others remain in my life… albeit with different hair, makeup and clothing choices.

tokyo dark castle, goth parties

The old school Tokyo Goth crew, on the way to Midnight Mess after dinner at Hibari sushi in Shinjuku. Ah… I’d love to teleport back for a night.

atsushi takashi japanese goth twins

Two things that always guarantee a good time: the twins Atsushi and Takashi, and a can of Strong Zero convenience store alcohol!

black veil osaka occult goth club

In the beginning of the blog, I was very Japan-focused. Yukiro and I did a memorable trip to Osaka, where we raged with hard rocker Fu-Ki at occult club night Black Veil. Somehow, I was inspired to do KISS makeup that night…

takuya angel cyber rave designer japan

Harajuku fashion remains exciting now, but it was certainly weirder and rave-ier in those days. I remember that people were infatuated with Takuya Angel’s designs, and yearned to take part in his fashion walk.

japanese lolitas tokyo laforet

Gothic Lolita fashion was thriving. My friends and I loved to gawk at the frilled fashion in Laforet, and hunt for secondhand bargains at Closet Child.

Many of the brands have now closed or downsized, and Lolita style no longer feels fresh to me — but at the time, it was a joy to wear.

harajuku bridge girls crazy fashion

I took this snap on Harajuku bridge. Youths still dressed up and hung out here; this is a rarity today.

moi dix moix mana cosplay concert

I was also a huge fan of Visual Kei / J-Rock music at the time (now, I never listen to it — I gravitate to Italo Disco and retrowave). I saw many of my favorite Japanese bands perform, including Versailles and Moi dix Mois (above are Mana cosplays and tributes at the concert).

tokyo jrock visual kei live

I forgot that I saw Deluhi live. VK hair and styling though… still so good.

japanese host boy hairstyle

How can anyone resist a host boy with bleach-blonde sky-high hair, and velvet joggers with a leopard print top?

japanese french maids, maid cafe tokyo

I remember that readers were fascinated by the Japanese pop culture oddities I reported on, such as maid cafes. Today, these are common knowledge, and you can find theme cafes (such as cat ones) worldwide. Times have changed…

dj chihiro baal auto mod

While you can’t go back to the past, you can certainly revisit it… 10 years is a long time! I know some of you have been reading this blog since MySpace days, and I am enormously grateful. Thanks for growing with me through some bad point-and-shoot photography, dubious style choices, and epic adventures with friends.

synthwave retro wave font

I hope you had fun reading this “old school La Carmina blog” retrospective. Do you have any favorite “member-berries” from Tokyo, or thoughts on how things have changed? 

PS: you can find old blog posts in the right-hand sidebar of this blog, under Archives (there’s a drop-down menu that filters by month and year). You can also see all my Tokyo, Japan stories here, from 2007 to today.

PPS: What’s coming up in the future? Only time will tell… fasten your seatbelts, and stay tuned for more wild rides!

Eco-travel attractions in Langkawi, Malaysia! Mangrove forest nature boat tour, sailing with Casa del Mar hotel.

unicorn floatie, inflatable float

Straddling a rainbow unicorn — that’s how we ride-or-die!

I think it’s fair to say… Yukiro and I had a magical time at our Malaysia beach resort, Casa del Mar Langkawi.

pentagram in sand, beach gothic

If you didn’t catch our first post, come take a look: we did a fun review of Casa del Mar.

In Part 2, we’ll venture beyond the hotel and see Langkawi’s famous natural attractions. We joined an eco-tour that let us witness monkeys, eagles, mangroves and caves filled with bats! The hotel staff even took us to their private beach by boat… and I couldn’t resist drawing a pentagram into the sand. 

Unicorn Pool Float, floaty

We spent several glorious days relaxing at Casa del Mar, a luxurious yet down-to-earth resort on Pantai Cenang beach. Our villa was footsteps from the beach, so we spent a great deal of time playing in the warm waves of the Andaman Sea.

giant unicorn inflatable floatie

Yukiro and I met an Asian couple with an inflatable unicorn floaty. They were kind enough to let us sit on the mystical creature — complete with a golden horn, rainbow-colored mane and tail!

pride rainbow unicorn float

Isn’t this the cutest swimming pool lounger? This exact unicorn float is for sale here and below (click thumbnails for details).

 

get floaty unicorn, fashion blogger

Yukiro and I could have hung out all day at Casa del Mar, sipping dragonfruit cocktails and lounging on the beach. However, we always like to mix it up, and get out to see the local life.

Langkawi, Malaysia is known for its incredible nature… so the hotel generously set us up on an ecological day trip with Dev’s Adventure Tours.

kilim geoforest park langkawi malaysia

Dev’s Adventure Tours is a local company, with fluent guides who are clearly passionate about preserving and appreciating their natural surroundings. They offer a variety of tour packages that let you get close to the flora and fauna of Langkawi, without harming the environment. These include kayaking, cycling, jungle treks… but as you might guess, we “non-sporty types” went for a half-day boat ride through the mangroves and islands. 

The tour company picked us up in a group shuttle in the morning. We soon arrived at Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, where we found ourselves surrounded by spectacular limestone caves and lush foliage.

langkawi bats, cave

When Yukiro and I heard that we’d be seeing Langkawi bats in a cave, we literally cheered! Our guide Kieran brought us into a deep cave, and briefly shone up a flashlight so we could see this Gothic sight: a colony of black bats, hanging upside-down from the ceiling.

dev's adventure tours langkawi

The “Kelawar Cave” or Bats’ Cave is about 60 meters long, and located in the heart of Kilim mangrove swamps. Hundreds, if not thousands of these vampiric creatures live inside.

The sign outside describes how important they are to the ecosystem, particularly by aiding pollination and keeping insect populations at bay.

malaysia bats hanging in cave

The bats truly look like like Count Dracula, wrapped in capes…. and waiting to suck your blood! 

batcave langkawi park

But seriously though: these Malaysian bats feed mainly on fruits. Our guide explained that there are three different species that “hang out” here, and ways we could identify them (body size, shape of nose). The biggest danger is accidentally touching their guano or excrement, but the cavern is well maintained by the geo-park staff.

cave stalactites malaysia

We also admired the cave’s dramatic stalactites (that “hang tight” from the ceiling) and stalagmites, which come together to form a single curtain. These eerie formations look like alien teeth, or something from the mind of H. R. Giger. 

viper snake malaysia

Outside, our guide Kieran pointed out a pit viper snake with an arrow-shaped head. We stepped carefully towards it: sudden, close movements might make the serpent pounce and inflict a venomous bite.

langkawi mangrove forests tour

We took a brief walk through the forested paths. Many species live in Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, and can be heard or spotted: otters, birds, tree crabs, lizards.

langkawi wild monkeys

Looks like this monkey is mooning us! These long tailed or crab-eating macaques are a common sight in Langkawi, Malaysia.

monkey baring teeth, smiling

These fuzzy creatures have become accustomed to humans, which makes them rather naughty. They have bite, and come up to steal food and water bottles from visitors — so be prepared.

Crab-eating Macaques grooming

It’s too bad that many tourists are careless or unaware, and try to feed the monkeys. It’s best to leave the macaques to their natural behaviors and watch them from afar. (Not a bad place to get a back-scratch.)

langkawi mangrove tour boat

Our group got onto the small boat, and we sailed past Langkawi’s limestone cliffs, tropical foliage and warm beaches. I loved watching the scenery pass by from the bow.

mangroves branches roots

We got up-and-close with the mangrove forests: these intricate networks of roots, trees and water that form a dynamic ecosystem. The habitat houses all types of creatures, and protects coastlines from strong waves and winds.

Kieran reminded us of the devastating 2004 tsunami in Malaysia; thanks to the natural barriers of the mangroves, Langkawi was saved from much of the destruction. 

hidden viper snake malaysia

He and the captain had a keen eye for spotting camouflaged creatures. He pointed out a blue kingfisher (tiny colorful bird found in Southeast Asia), and this spotted snake (can you see it, disguised as a branch in the middle of the photo)? On some tours, guests even see sharks and dolphins.

langkawi eagles, eagle watching

The boat sped up, and we went further out into the Andaman Sea. We watched giant eagles swoop and dive into the waters — such majesty! In Langkawi, there are two species: white-bellied sea eagles and Brahminy kites.

Dev’s Adventure Tours puts eco-preservation first, and therefore doesn’t feed the eagles. It’s important that these powerful birds are not dependent on humans, for the sake of the next generations.

swimming in andaman sea malaysia

Out to sea. We stopped by a secluded island with a white sand beach. Yukiro did a hand-stand in the waters!

black burkas with sunglasses

Our crew ended the day with lunch, which was included in the boat trip package. Cheers to Dev’s Adventure Tours for the knowledgeable, eco-focused tour of Langkawi’s mangroves and wildlife.

As we waited for our pick-up, I couldn’t resist snapping this photo. How interesting to see the way many Muslim women dress on vacation: full-coverage burkas and sunglasses! I don’t know how they powered through the sweltering heat.

casa del mar langkawi boat excursion

Another day, another adventure. Our hotel Casa del Mar Langkawi offers their own experience packages for guests as well. These activity options include a fishing trip and castaway beach picnic. We went for “Island Hopping,” as we were keen to see more of Langkawi’s 99 isles.

Casa del Mar drove us to a local pier, and our captain took us sailing on a private boat.

coucou suzette eyeball pink skirt

Close-up on my blue-eyed skirt: it’s from Print All Over Me and designed by Coucou Suzette. To avoid bug bites, I always cover my limbs in these climates: I’m wearing Joy Division Unknown Pleasures leggings.

Yukiro and I sailed past the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden (Pulau Dayang), which has a mountain range that resembles a pregnant belly. Our captain told us about the mysterious legend, and how many women come here to increase their chances of fertility.

pentagram drawn on beach, sand

We said hello to the eagles, and set anchor at Casa del Mar’s private beach. I loved the Robinson Crusoe feeling of being alone on an island (I made my mark, by drawing this pentacle into the sand!) Our captain brought out a cooler filled with juices, fruits and sandwiches; we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the beach, followed by a swim and sun-bathing.

malaysia boat cruise islands

We also made a stop at Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, where visitors can rent swan-shaped boats to take out into the lake. However, I wasn’t fond of the touristy feeling of that place; my happy place is on a private Malaysian beach like this one! 

malaysia long tailed macaque

For those who love to get deep into nature, Langkawi is a wonderful destination. I encourage you to tread lightly and take an educational tour, as it’s important to preserve the local wildlife while we can.

luxury unicorn pool floats funboy

Did you have fun reading about our Casa del Mar Langkawi adventures? Have you ever seen bats or monkeys up-close, like we did?

(PS – you can get this fun unicorn floaty here and below, you know you want one!)

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Visiting the Acropolis of Athens in off-season! Parthenon of Athena, ancient Greece archaeology museum.

fashion blogger acropolis athens

“Acropolis Now!”

Flashback to Athens, Greece and pirouettes of joy… I’m on my way to the Parthenon, the iconic temple of Athena and symbol of the city.

female travel blogger parthenon acropolis

Photographer Joey Wong and I visited Athens during the off-season, which we recommend for multiple reasons. Ticket prices are cheaper, the weather is not too hot, and there are fewer tourists around — meaning you can take your time to explore, and get marvellous photos without anyone in the frame.

We hope you enjoy these outfit photos, inspired by Greek goddesses and shot amidst ancient ruins. 

athens classic white houses architecture

The Acropolis looms over the city, and is impossible not to recognize. (This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the 5th century Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike.)

Get into an Uber or taxi (prices are cheap in Athens), and have the driver drop you off at the foot of the hill. Then, it’s a short walk up to the main entrance and ticket booth.

cheaper tickets guide acropolis

Monastiraki, the neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, is worth spending time in. This classic area has cobblestone paths with whitewashed houses, outdoor cafes, and pockets of nature.

romantic ballerina outfit ideas

As you walk up to the Acropolis, which means “highest point,” you get the sense that you are ascending Mount Olympus — mythical home of the Greek gods.

greek archaeology ruins

Athens is an ideal destination for those who love ancient culture, myths and art. 

The capital has been inhabited for 2500 years, and archaeologists are continuing to uncover surprising artifacts.

greece travel outfits, clothing

That day, I wore a white ballerina skirt — a tribute to the flowing robes worn by the ancient Greeks. My black ballet crop top is by Morph8ne, and my sunglasses are Moat House.

(Click below for more from this Gothic designer):

athens greece outfit post style blogger

We came in late March, which is right before the start of the tourist season. The timing was ideal: the sun was out but it wasn’t overly hot, and the attractions weren’t crowded. 

Packing tip for Athens: bring sunglasses, wear layers (it gets chillier at night in the spring), and choose shoes that are great for walking (the Acropolis has a rocky ground).

visiting acropolis, off-season tickets

Normally, the entrance fee to the Acropolis is 20 Euros — but from November 1st to March 31st, it’s half price! There is also a “multi-site ticket” for €30, which is valid for 5 days, and lets you visit this and six other archaeological sites.

It’s not possible to buy tickets online (unless you go with a guide), so give yourself plenty of time to line up at the main ticket office. Once again, we were glad we came in the off season, since the wait only took 10-15 minutes and the weather was pleasant.

ancient greek ruins, athens style dress

My friends and I chose the 10 Euro entry, which let us access the Citadel, North and South slopes (and all the main structures). We loved walking slowly up to the Parthenon, taking in the sights along the way.

One of the first ruins we encountered was the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus. If we were here in the height of summer, it would be impossible to take photos without others in the background.

athens greece archaeology site

No need to hire a guide for the Acropolis, as there are many explanatory signs along the way. What a treat to view these two-thousand-year-old remains right up close, in their original environment.

black ballerina crop top long sleeve

My outfit of the day is inspired by the Greek goddesses. This Morph8ne long sleeve shirt and other items are available below (click to see):

travel blogger instagram greece

I felt as if I were channeling Athena, as I looked over the grand theater.

For those who aren’t familiar with the mythology, she is the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. The calm-tempered Athena only fought for just causes, and helped out heroes including Odysseus, Jason, and Hercules.

acropolis parthenon pillars

Originally, there were several temples dedicated to Athena in this same location, lost and rebuilt throughout time.

During the Golden Age of Athens (460–430 BC), the Parthenon and other famous temples were built to honor Athena — and still remain standing, to this day. This project was led by Pericles and brought to life by the sculptor Phidias, and architects Ictinus and Callicrates.

acropolis theater, stadium

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre on the southwest slope, with a remarkable “ancient meets modern” look. It was completed in 161 AD, but damaged by east Germanic tribes in 267 AD.

The Odeon was renovated in 1950, and remains an active concert venue with a capacity of 5000 (the Tokyo Ballet and Maria Callas have performed here).

ballerina fashion outfit skirt shirt

I’ve actually been to the Acropolis years ago — but it was during the peak of summer, and I felt stifled by the tourists and humidity. This time, I avoided the busy season, and the experience was a million times better.

You can see me walking through this historic UNESCO site, in our travel video about Athens, Greece. Please take a moment to watch by clicking above, or see it on @LaCarmina YouTube.

ancient greek Herodes Atticus theatre

Instead of being pressed along by the crowds and searching for shade, I was able to take my time to wander. I could stop to read the placards, take unobstructed photos, and truly enjoy the sights. Plus, as you can see, the weather was pure “nectar of the gods.” 

athens hills view scenery

So many epic viewpoints, as the elevation gets higher…

athens girl Propylaia entrance to Acropolis

Almost at the top! I’m standing right below the Propylaia, or monumental entrance to the Acropolis. It is a majestic entryway, with colonnades in the Ionic and Doric styles.

(My faux python purple clutch is by Makeup Junkie Bags.)

close up pillars frieze acropolis

Walk through the Propylaia, and there she is… The Parthenon! The symbol of ancient Greece, democracy, Western civilization and culture.

acropolis of athens instagram

Obligatory photo in front of the Parthenon, on the Acropolis. It’s apparently one of the most Instagrammed travel destinations. 

details acropolis art carvings

The Parthenon has been through a lot, to put it mildly. After the fall of Greece, it was used as a Byzantine church, a Cathedral under the Venetians, a mosque during the Ottoman Empire rule, and even a harem.

In 1687, it was significantly damaged by an explosion. In the early 1800s, Lord Elgin stripped most of the sculptures and put them in the British Museum, where they mostly remain today.

acropolis hill viewpoint

Despite all this, the pillars stand strong. The architects of the Acropolis were very much ahead of their time.

women pillars statues acropolis

Next to the Parthenon, it’s easy to spot the Erechteion — a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The north side features the famous “Porch of the Caryatids,” or six Ionic columns carved to look like Greek maidens. (That’s quite the load they are carrying on their heads!)

Erechteion caryatid greek columns

These are actually plaster copies of the caryatid sculptures. A few of the originals are preserved in the Athens Acropolis Museum, while others are in the British Museum.

The Greek government is still trying to get the “Elgin marbles” returned to the Acropolis, but it is a slow process. Fortunately, many other museums and collectors worldwide have sent back pieces.

morphene goth shirt thailand

When you look out over the city from the cliff, it’s easy to understand why this has been a spiritual site for millennia. 

fashion blogger travel photos

I recommend coming to the Acropolis early in the day, so that you can catch the light and take your time to explore.

unesco parthenon classical architecture

I grew up reading stories about the Greek gods, and enjoyed seeing how the mythology was woven into the landscape of Athens.

Above is the Areopagus, or Ares Rock. Ares (the god of War) was supposed to have been tried here for the murder of Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius.

Areopagus Mars Hill athens

In another story, Ares was fighting the local Greeks on the mountain. Athena felt he was being unjust, so she hurled a giant rock at him and knocked him out cold — which you can still see on the top of the hill today.

Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus

One of my favorite gods is Dionysus (I’m standing in his stadium). He represents wine, fertility and ritual madness.

The wild festivals that celebrated him also spurred the development of Greek theatre.

gothic ballerina ballet fashion

Outside the Acropolis, we stopped for ouzo and Greek snacks.

exterior acropolis museum building

Then, we took a short walk to the new Acropolis Museum. (Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42)

This archaeological museum opened in 2009, and focuses on artifacts found during Acropolis excavations. From the Bronze Age to the Roman and Byzantine empires, the exhibitions show the many layers of history found in this important site.

acropolis museum original caryatids

The museum is beautifully designed, with lots of natural light. Visitors are encouraged to see the remains in chronological order, and learn about the works from multi-media displays (such as 3D renderings of “kouroi” statues of nude male youths).

On the right, I got to see the original Caryatids up close, and watch a video about how they restored the marble with laser technology.

acropolis museum oarthenon frieze

We reached the top level at sunset, which let us take in this 360 view of the Acropolis and mountains. 

This uppermost level re-creates the frieze of the Parthenon, with both plaster and original pieces. Visitors can walk around and see the carvings in their original position, which depict the Great Panathenaia festival for the Goddess Athena.

monastiraki athens streets

Talk about a perfect day in Athens! I’ll remember this trip for years to come.

The Acropolis is beautiful any time of the year, but I suggest that you come in late spring or late fall for a quieter, more leisurely experience. 

ancient greece theater

You can find more Athens tips at DiscoverGreece.com, a great resource for planning a trip here.

I leave you with our Athens travel vlog, which features the Parthenon as well as the modern side of the city. Please also take a moment to watch — I hope it inspires you to come to Greece.

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