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Happy Valentine’s Day

While I’m a firm believer in showing love for those you care about every day, the romantic in me appreciates that there is a holiday devoted to love. (At least, this year. On other V-Days, my feelings have run the gamut from sad to excited to indifferent to content.)

This afternoon, my sister, parents and I were on a group text, sharing our V-Day plans and photos and cards we’d created for the holiday. I got the warm-fuzzies hearing the nice evenings they’d be enjoying. And my sister must have been feeling the same, because she wrote:

Glad we all have so much love and happiness in our lives! Best fam ever!!!

Compared to how snowy and miserable it’s been, NYC was 40 degrees today, which felt positively balmy. Seeing so many people walking around carrying bouquets of flowers added nice pops of color (and a bit of spring) to a city that’s felt iced over and gray for weeks. I couldn’t help but smile at the scene—not to mention at this brilliant sign I stumbled upon at Columbus Circle.

Hope you had a wonderful V-Day, as well!

#foundlove

Modern World Map

Speaking of fernweh, fewer things stoke mine more than maps of the world. (Last week, I went to LA for work. I spent half of the 6.5 hour ride there zooming in on different places on the map on my seatback screen.)

Recently, I stumbled upon this Modern World Map.

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Though not all the countries are labled, just looking at it is enough to get theВ fernweh flowing.

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I especially love the gold and aqua color scheme—so cheery, yet soothing, especially in the midst of thisВ endlessВ winter!

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(Images via These Are Things)

Teatro Colon

One thing I really wanted to do in BA was see a ballet performance at Teatro Colon, the city’s famed, opulent theatre. Its ballet company has a great 2013 rep, including Don Quixote, Symphony in C, Swan Lake and Cinderella.

Unfortunately, my visit happened to fall between performances.

But I still wanted to check out the theatre, and was excited to learn that it offers guided tours (110 pesos for non-Argentines) every day of the week.

teatro colon ticket

The tour starts in the lobby, where you can see sketches and costumes from past operas.

costume sketches

costumes

Then it moves to the main staircase, where you see a ground-level view of the ornate other levels.

entry hall

entry hall, second level

Along the way, we got an overview of the theatre’s history.

entry steps

The original Teatro Colon was located on the block where the Banco Nacion now stands, from 1857 to 1888. В The construction of this second Teatro Colon started in 1890 and was completed in 1908. The first performance in the theatre was Verdi’s Aida—which is why there’s a bust of Verdi above one of the doors on the second floor.

second floor

The Golden Room, also on the second floor, is the grandest hall I’ve ever seen, with soaring ceilings, glistening chandeliers—and, of course, innumerable gold details.

golden room

The entire theatre recently underwent a major renovation, which was completed in 2010. A small square on the wall of the Golden Room and a bit of gold trim was left untouched to show what the entire theatre looked like beforehand. Pretty scary that all the gold was once that blackened!

untouched molding

Finally, we were led to the theatre entrance…

entering the theatre

…and shown inside.

teatro colon stage

I’ll admit, I nearly got a little teary when I stepped in. The theatre is that regal and magnificent. I could only imagine all the performances that took place on that stage. The acoustics are said to be amazing.

(Apologies for the terrible photos—I only had a point and shoot and no tripod, and couldn’t get a good shot in the darkened theatre.)

teatro colon balconies

And a very cool fact: There’s seating for musicians in the theatre’s dome. That way, they can play before the show starts and it sounds like the melodies are wafting down from the heavens.

fresco

Skycats

This week has been pretty crazy (in a good way, though!), so I was thrilled to stumble across Gemma Correll’s genius “Skycats” series in the midst of all the madness. Her comics are so cute and witty—I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and smile at her illustrations.

Some of my favorites:

how long is this flight again? how long were you in africa for, exactly? who are you waving at? awkward

Check out Correll’s complete “Skycats” seriesВ and be sure to follow her Tumblr for more awesome illos!

(Images via Gemma Correll’s Tumblr)

Foreign Words

With my trip to Buenos Aires just a few weeks away, I’ve rekindled my Spanish studies. I’ve dug out my notebook filled with conjugations, grammar rules and definitions, and resumed listening to the “Coffee Break Spanish” podcast, every day on the subway. I can feel my slight grasp on the language returning.

Studying Spanish every day has reminded me of this wonderful Maptia blog post I came across a few weeks ago. It contains 11 illustrations of words in other languages that have no English equivalents.

Some of my favorites:

Culaccino

goya

sobremesa

Iktsuarpok

The comments on the post are just as interesting! Readers have noted other fantastic words that we could use in English—like mahmihlapinatapai, which is “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves,” in theВ Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego.

I’ll try to drop that one into conversation!

(Illustrations via Maptia)

Ballet Monsters

I have to thank New York City Ballet’s Facebook page for introducing me to “Ballet Monsters,” an incredible illustrations series by Taipei artist Keith Lin.

His line drawings are simple, yet they capture ballet so well. Lin’s lithe figures not only have perfect technique; they also convey grace, passion and elegance—despite being virtually faceless.

As Lin told Pointe magazine:

I rely on ballet positions to express feeling. Dancers speak with their bodies onstage, and to me the closed eyes show how they are enjoying the moment. Sometimes I feel like I’m choreographing on paper.

I love how Lin’s figures also cheekily—and accurately!—illustrate the mindset of us ballet addicts. Lin’s closest friends are dancers and he draws his inspiration from them.

A few drawings that I particularly loved (and related to):

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ballet monsters 2

ballet monsters 3

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ballet monsters 1

Check them all out on the two “Ballet Monsters” pages here and here!

(“Ballet Monsters” illustrations by Keith Lin, found via New York City Ballet)

So Ready for an NYC Summer Weekend

I’ve always found it slightly frustrating that here in the five boroughs, we’re surrounded by lots of water, but our beaches are relatively small. And not exactly easy to get to, for many of us. (Like me, who lives way up in northern Manhattan.)

So we New Yorkers are forced to squeeze in sun time, in whatever space is available. Hit up any park in the summertime, and you’ll be surrounded by sunbathers of all ages, sporting varying degrees of coverage. If you walk around midtown at lunchtime, you’ll see hoards of suits perched on every ledge—men with sleeves rolled up, women with their heels kicked off.

I always appreciate those sights. As much as I love my writing and digital pursuits, I’m also a firm believer that humans belong outdoors, exploring and being active—not cooped up in buildings with circulated air, in front of screens.

Which is why I love this NY Times slideshow, “Concrete Beach.”В Photographer Ashley Gilbertson shot New Yorkers sunbathing wherever they could throughout the city—and his images are stunning. I’m not sure if these would be unusual sights anywhere else, but they’re perfectly normal here!

concrete beach 1

concrete beach 2

concrete beach 3

concrete beach 4

I’m excited that I’m going to an actual beach, this weekend, instead of just spending time on the “Concrete Beach.” I’ll be lounging in the Rockaways tomorrow, then headed to a BBQ birthday celebration on Sunday. (Happy b-day, Burg!!!) And going to my usual ballet classses…as well as my first tango lesson! I figured I could get a head start here before going to Buenos Aires.

How will you be spending the weekend?

(“Concrete Beach” photos by Ashley Gilbertson via NYTimes.com)