Category Archive for Press
Visiting The Alhambra in Granada, Spain: Royal palace & gardens of the Moors. Cover of Where Magazine.
Where in the world is La Carmina? Before I take you inside Spain’s Alhambra palace, let me share with you a recent milestone. I’m currently the cover girl for Where Magazine Vancouver, Oct/Nov edition!
This travel magazine is found all over British Columbia (such as in hotel lobbies), and contains guides to the best dining, shopping, entertainment and culture in Vancouver.
Where Magazine interviewed me about my work in travel TV and writing. Love what they said in the lead: “Never judge a book by its cover – or a travel blogger by her hair color.”
(I’m posing in a dress by Mister Zimi, a Bali-based label known for its vivacious prints.)
It’s an honor to be profiled by a magazine based in Vancouver, my hometown. In the cover story, I talk about my favorite Goth fashion boutiques, sushi restaurants, and places to relax in the city.
(Hair by Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Vancouver, and leggings by Kill Star.)
This blog tends to focus on far-off destinations, at the expense of my own backyard — but there’s so much to see in Vancouver. I should do more shoots and stories here.
Above is an image by Kristin Thorogood, taken in Stanley Park.
But for the time being, let’s fly away to the Alhambra, the famous fortress of Granada, Spain.
I wore my Mister Zimi dress here because I knew the pattern would complement the colorful zelig tiles.
As you can see, Granada has a very different vibe. This was the palace city of the Moors, the Medieval Muslims who came into Spain from North Africa. (Or, if you’re a Seinfeld fan as we are, you might call them the Moops!)
The Alhambra was the Moors’ fortress and royal palace. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and a gem of Islamic architecture.
If you want to visit the Alhambra, you can’t merely show up and get in. Tickets sell out well in advance, especially if you want to go inside the palace (and not just the gardens). I recommend making a booking at least several weeks in advance. Alhambra tickets are available through Ticketmaster Spain; you must choose an exact date and time slot, and if you miss it, chances are you won’t get to see “the Moops.”
We lined up under the sun (thankfully, I had my floppy hat and sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen). At our appointed time, the staff let us through the main entryway…
… and into this “pearl set in emeralds,” as the Alhambra was described by Moorish poets. When you see the painted tiles on the walls of the palace, it’s obvious why.
The Alhambra’s design is a mix of Islamic and Western. In one of the many courtyards, I admired the twisting arabesques reliefs and intricate mosaics.
We moved from room to room, taking in all the design details.
For me, one of the highlights was the “Court of the Lions.” The long outdoor pavilion has a fountain with twelve lions in a circle, each with a stream of water coming out of his mouth!
Much like a lion, the Alhambra has a calm, grand majesty. I let my imagination run free as I walked through the columns and arches.
A close-up on the carved Arabic words, set amidst swirling arabesques.
(My nail art has similar patterns — each stroke is drawn by hand, by Glam Nail Studio in Richmond, BC.)
When you leave the fortress, you end up in a labyrinth of gardens. The crisp hedges and flowers reminded me of the Red Queen’s garden in Alice in Wonderland.
I’m very glad my team and I went to see the Alhambra, an enthralling palace rich in history and beauty.
Granada, Andalusia has a very different feeling from Madrid and Barcelona. My team and I stayed in the ancient Albayzin district, which still looks like a scene from a bygone era.
Be prepared to do a lot of uphill walking, on cobblestone streets and steps that are closed off to cars.
Look for charming elements in the streets, such as tiny doors that seem to be made for cute mice! (Designer iPhone case from iPhoria.)
We always try to stay in unique accommodations, and were overjoyed to find Casa Alef — a 16th century Moorish house. Our host, Rob, lived several doors down and is fluent in English and Spanish. He went out of his way to help us, and gave plenty of local suggestions such as where to eat delicious tapas.
It was incredible to stay in a historic house that dates back to the era of the Moors. The owners preserved the traditional design, while renovating the amenities and putting in WiFi.
I looked over the inner courtyard, in my blue and white print dress by Mister Zimi.
With three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and living areas, we had plenty of space to share. One room has a staircase that leads to a roof terrace, with glorious views of the Alhambra.
The Moorish vases and paintings added to the atmosphere.
Instead of staying in a generic hotel, I encourage you to rent unique houses such as Casa Alef for a more immersive experience. If you’re looking for accommodations in Granada, I encourage you to contact Rob for a stay!
Rob recommended that we have dinner at Restaurante Las Tomasas, rated one the top restaurants in Granada. The view of the Alhambra fortress alone gets 5 stars.
(Address: Carril de San Agustín, 4, 18010 Granada, Spain)
We started with wine, and unique tapas. I was all over the sardines, served with soft cheese and tomatoes on bread.
Food is so fresh in Europe… I always eat my fill while I’m on the continent, knowing that it simply isn’t the same anywhere else.
Las Tomasas restaurant serves the highest quality seafood, lightly prepared with local flavors. We chewed on an octopus tentacle, and I ate every bite of my squid-ink blackened rice.
What else is there to see in Granada? Tourists often go to the markets and city center. I preferred wandering around the historic Albaicin neighborhood and looking at all the architectural details.
I can never resist taking a photo with an epic door. I’m wearing a backless halter tank top, from Pretty Attitude Clothing.
● Do you like this look? Shop for dream catcher tees and tanks below:
As I walked around, I noticed that my name was everywhere. Why are there so many Carmens in Granada?
I found out that “Carmen” refers to a house with a lush garden. There were plenty of these in Granada…
The warm climate encourages cascades of leaves and flowers.
Details, details: tiled roofs, shuttered windows, and even star-shaped tiles beneath the balcony ledges.
Rob suggested that we visit the Sacramonte district, about a 15 minute walk from Casa Alef and the Albayzin.
“There are Roma gypsies living in caves here. It gets weirder, the further you go up,” he said. That was enough to convince us.
We passed a flamenco dance center, and some sketchy-looking individuals who made their home in the caves.
At the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte, we learned the history of the people who made these natural caves into homes.
The Sacramonte Cave Museum had various displays that we could enter, to see how the Roma lived. Can’t believe that entire families could fit into these low-ceiling dwellings.
Have you heard of Granada, or the Alhambra palace? I hope this travel diary encourages you to visit this lesser-known region of Spain.
(PS: If you like my dream-catcher tank top, shop by clicking below.)
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, then I have a feeling you will like these Iceland photos… inspired by the fantasy fashion and northern landscapes!
I’m also happy to announce that our Iceland travel video is now out — and you can watch it here.
(It would be amazing if you can share this post with friends who are fans of the HBO series. I’d love to hear what they think.)
Above: I’m honored to have one of these Icelandic images on the cover of Love Japan magazine. Inside, you’ll find an exclusive interview with me, and a spread of photos taken both in Reykjavik and worldwide.
Love Japan is a publication that I believe in: it’s dedicated to Japanese culture, lifestyle, food and fashion. You can find this issue in various stockists around London, or order it online through their site (the first 20 customers get special gifts). It’s also free to read online here.
During our time in Iceland, Joey and I also shot an atmospheric film of our travels. It’s quite different from my usual episodes, and has more of a music video feeling. What do you think? Watch our video above, or on my LaCarmina YouTube.
A big round of applause for my team:
I’m a fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which is partially shot in Iceland (standing in for the Wall and North of the Wall). What better place to do a photoshoot inspired by the characters?
I channeled Daenerys Targaryen with my braided and curled hair.
Iceland is a photographer’s paradise, thanks to the clear light and dramatic landscapes. Photographer Joey couldn’t resist crossing the road to capture this mountain range.
We got access to these hidden nature areas, thanks to Thor and Anna of Salty Tours. They were excited about our photoshoot concept, and brought us to the perfect settings, far away from other tourists.
Since we were on a private Jeep tour, we could go wherever we wanted and work at our own pace. We couldn’t have asked for a more magical location, at this elf park.
I’m channeling the dragon queen and King’s Landing fashion, with my wide-sleeved top (by Japanese brand Ozz On, found at Closet Child.
Salty Tours took us to sulfur hot springs, Icelandic horse farms and other hidden spots throughout our day journey. We were grateful for this customized 4×4 experience, which went above and beyond a regular Golden Circle tour.
We even stopped by a bizarre rack of dried fish, and tried fermented shark! For the full story of my Salty Tours adventure in Iceland, check out this post.
When Joey and I researched Iceland, we were in awe of the black sand beaches. We asked Salty Tours to take us to one, and they delivered by bringing us to this epic, deserted beach.
How Gothic is this location? Joey set up lights, and Thor and Anna kindly assisted us with the equipment.
We were grateful for their help — we wouldn’t have been able to capture images like this, without Salty Tours!
The image above should have you humming the Game of Thrones theme song…
My stylist, Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Hair Salon in Vancouver, put my hair in princess braids. We looked at photos of Daenerys and Cersei, and she created her own look inspired by their hairstyles.
Stephanie also does all my vivid hair colors, which never fade out. Give her a ring if you want rainbow hair like mine!
Waiting for my dragons to come back to me…
Finally, Salty Tours took us to a little-known waterfall, Öxarárfoss. We got to go right up against the crashing falls, and get the best possible photos.
Yes, there’s an Asian dragon on my Ozz On top — how appropriate!
The mist from the waterfall resulted in a mystical effect.
It’s pretty obvious that I fell in love with Iceland! The energy here is remarkable, and unlike anywhere else in the world I’ve visited.
Humongous thanks to Salty Tours for making our dream photoshoot a reality. If you come to Reykjavik, shoot them a email — there’s no better way to experience Iceland than on one of their private, bespoke Jeep tours.
See the rest of my Icelandic nature tour, including the cute horses we met on the way!
If you enjoyed this post, we’d appreciate any shares! And please take a few minutes to watch our Iceland travel video — there are RuPaul’s drag queens in there.
As much as I travel, I can’t be everywhere at once. This year, I sadly wasn’t able to make it to Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig (the biggest Gothic festival in the world).
Thankfully, my friend Jen was at WGT with her camera, and put together a special report for us! Read on for her German Goth stories, including images of the Victorian Village, flamboyant fashion, and industrial bands.
If I went to the festival, I would have worn these eye-catching steampunk shoes from Hades Footwear! Their Harajuku boots are my current favorites — such a striking design, with a metal heel and vintage-looking buckles. You can get these exact boots here.
Shop my outfit below:
I’m a huge fan of Hades Footwear, a California-based shoe company that specializes in alternative, Goth, Victorian and steampunk styles. They make unique designs like studded stilettos or thigh high boots — you won’t find these in regular stores!
(Click the photos below to browse more Hades Footwear styles.)
Now, let’s hand the keyboard over to my friend Jen (pictured above left, with her favorite corset maker Ludwig Lilienthal). Enjoy her diary of Wave Gotik Treffen 2015 with photos by Seventh Sin, the event photography company that she co-owns.
At the end, Jen invites you to submit photos and memories of Wave Gotik Treffen for a museum exhibition. I hope you’ll consider taking part in this historical project.
Jen writes: We skipped the traditional Friday afternoon picnic at Clara Zetkin Park in favor of checking out a new Friday afternoon event, Viona’s Victorian Village, held at the stunning Arena am Panometer. The Village features not only a grassy area to picnic, but also vendors, DJs and concerts.
Lolita style is no longer as prevalent in Germany as it was a few years back, but the girls who do it go all out.
We saw metal artist Pawel Athanasios Lickas working live at the Village.
There was a vague dress code to encourage to guests to participate rather than merely goth-stalking, but as you can see from the crowd photos, everyone who made an effort no matter what their personal style, was welcome.
This made for a lovely atmosphere where we were able to relax and find old friends among the crowd, and have conversations without being trampled by overzealous onlookers.
The left photo shows Courtney of Atropos Threads and a friend from Paris, in front of Courtney’s stand at the Victorian Village.
Diverse examples of the decadent personal style seen at Wave Gotik Treffen — from feathered collars to braided wigs.
The smiling participants and winners of the costume contest.
One of the best places to meet with friends and look around for new trends is the Agra, the main venue of WGT where the campground, market, and largest concerts are held. The “Black Market” is a huge hall where people can buy dark fashion and accessories.
Schnitt Muskel‘s macabre fetish and cyber inspired cuts and misappropriated materials seemed like a stark contrast to puderblonde‘s fashion and accessories in steampunk, gothic, shabby chic style. Nonetheless, the two small designers were working their booths together at the market.
I admired Benito Alesio’s stunning work for The Original Atelier…
… and these spooky-hawaii figurines from Pandemonium Crafts.
Romantic jewelry and headdresses from Nox Aurum, decorated with antler horns and lace fans.
As much fun as these events were, the main draw of the weekend was the 224 concerts and many dance nights on the official program. Our cat Hugin did his best to hide the schedule and keep us home, but in the end, he decided that having so many guests to fuss over him and fluttery black clothing to play with was actually pretty awesome.
This year we focused on meeting up with friends and catching smaller, less known acts. We saw Dan and Olaf of Harmjoy make their WGT debut (above)…
Did you know that next year will be the 25th Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig? WGT has grown from its humble beginning with 6 bands and one venue, to an event that brings in over 20,000 visitors and offers events all over the city. WGT has had its growing pains, but remains true to its ideal as a meeting point for goth subculture.
(These “classic Goth” photos by Muetze were taken at the first Wave-Gotik-Treffen in 1992!)
I’m thrilled to be working with the City History Museum of Leipzig to present the story of WGT and the goth movement in Germany, in an exhibition that will open next spring. If you’ve been to WGT we would be very interested to hear your stories and see your photos and videos.
We’re also looking for “objects” to display: such as clothing or shoes that you wore, signed albums or posters from bands you met at WGT, or handmade memorabilia. We’re also looking for people willing to be interviewed about their WGT experiences and featured as part of the exhibit, so please drop me a line if you’re interested.
(La Carmina’s note: I hope you’ll consider taking part in this Goth museum exhibit, and will do my best to see it next year!)
Last but certainly not least, I’m honored to reveal… I’m on the cover of FlyMe360° Travel & Lifestyle Magazine!
This new magazine is the brainchild of three friends and frequent travellers, who felt they could improve on the current travel publications in the market. FlyMe360° emphasizes personal, genuine travel stories that connect with all types of readers. The inaugural issue is an entertaining mix of first-person accounts, gadget reviews, photography tips, finance and health articles, and more.
FlyMe360° puts a special focus on travels in Asia. I contributed a story about my experiences last year in Cebu, Philippines. Above is a peek at the pages.
I encourage you to subscribe to FlyMe360 for free! You’ll get access to all of the first twelve issues (including my article), and perks such as prizes. The magazine invites you to contribute your own travel stories too — you can find out more and contact them through their site
(And if you’re still thinking about my Hades steampunk boots — here’s where you can find these shoes.)
Fashion blogger profile on FashionOne TV! Tokyo’s Cutest Stores: Kokokim pastel goth, Harajuku girls.
Tokyo remains the cutest place on Earth — and there’s no better place than Harajuku for fashion inspiration!
Wouldn’t you like to follow along with me in Tokyo, and see what happens on a typical day? You can, thanks to the magic of television…
I’m honored to be profiled by FashionOne, the international style TV network that broadcasts to 120 countries worldwide!
The “day in a life of La Carmina” episode first aired on June 15, but you can see it on repeat and online on FashionOne’s channel (or just click play below).
Thank you to Stephanie and everyone at FashionOne TV, for letting me share my world with you. The video is created and produced by my travel filmmaking partners, Borderless Media.
In the video, you’ll notice that my team and I stayed at an AirBNB in Shibuya. We’re big fans of this short-term apartment rental site, which lets you live in comfort — as if you were a local — while spending less. Our apartment had two bedrooms and a kitchen, and was a five minute walk from the station. (Psst, here is my AirBNB discount link that gets you $31 off your first booking!)
A lot of people ask me where to stay in Tokyo. If you’re only visiting for a short time, I urge you to stay in one of the major districts (I prefer Shibuya or Shinjuku). This way, you won’t waste time and money on getting to the city every day. Also keep in mind that the trains stop running around 1am, so you might as well be in a neighborhood where you can party and then walk home.
But let’s go back to fashion blogging in Japan. To celebrate the release of the FashionOne episode, I thought I’d share photos of the best alternative shopping destinations in Tokyo.
Let’s start with Harajuku, since it was featured in the travel video. Over the years, Takeshita Doori has gotten more and more commercial. Nonethless, you can still find Goth, punk and metal fashion here.
At AC/ DC, the clothes are inexpensive ($10-40 US per item), and have cute-Gothic prints you can’t easily find anywhere else.
Such as tutu-dresses and this Miffy-mouthed hoodie.
Many of Harajuku’s shops are quite mainstream now, but if you wander down the side-streets, you’ll find the gems. Here’s a sign for Kera Magazine, featuring a cute model in a dessert-pastry-print Lolita JSK.
The StayReal brand is actually from Taiwan. The Heavy Metal Hello Kitty sign gives you a hint of the cute meets edgy fashion inside.
It pains me to report that more punk and Gothic brands are closing doors. Sex Pot Revenge is now no more. On the bright side, Hyper Core and Listen Flavor are still around.
And the experimental fashion boutique, Dog, is as madcap as ever. (Address: 3-23-3 Jingumae, Harajuku)
Every time I go down these stairs, I’m astonished by their intricate, avantgarde designs. Dog’s pricetags are expensive — I’ve never bought anything here, but I love to loo.
Lady Gaga and others go nuts for the various handmade garments, from Japan and all over.
For more affordable prices, stop by Kinji, the secondhandstore on Meiji-jingumae. Mori and dolly-vintage fashion is big here.
And if you have no money to spend at all… Well, Death Is Free!
Onward to Shibuya, another favorite neighborhood for the young and trendy. There are endless restaurants and bars here.
Inside Tsutaya (the music and DVD store), we saw these posters for the Jrock band Black Cherry. Looks like the two guys are giving some “fan service”…
Everyone has a smartphone these days, even this cute bear sitting at the top of a skyscraper.
Don’t forget to look down, or you’ll miss these Japanese manhole covers, decorated like flowers.
High-quality images are important to me, so in recent years, my blog photos are all from DSLR cameras. However, there are times when I’m in a hurry, and simply use my iPhone to capture inspiration.
I usually share these snaps on my Instagram, but felt I should also put some in this post for you. Keep on reading for my Tokyo smartphone snaps…
… including a peek at the Kokokim pastel goth boutique, which sells coffin purses in mint and lavender!
♡ Lots of photos below, click to see ♡ More here!