Tag Archives: travel

July 26, 2011

Foreign Correspondents: Sightseeing in France

Our first  Foreign Correspondent is here! Bijal Shah, her husband, and her two daughters spent ten days traveling around France this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is Part 2 of their adventure. Stay tuned for the rest of their story this week.

Our surroundings in France were incredible.  The most amazing moment we had, the one that made both of my daughters’ jaws drop, was seeing the Eiffel Tower change from a lit up tower to a sparkling beauty.  We knew that it would light up at night but all of a sudden, while we were on our night boat cruise it began to sparkle and continued to sparkle for five minutes. This was their single most memorable moment.

Right outside our hotel was the beautiful and peaceful Tuileries Garden.  This garden was our direct path to the Louvre, which held the Mona Lisa, my older daughter’s favorite painting.  At the Louvre, my daughters used their sense of sight to match the famous paintings they were seeing with the ones on their Louvre Bingo card that I had created at home, with the pictures of the most famous pieces of artwork at the museum.  The bingo game was perfect for keeping their attention (at least an hour) at the museum.  On our third day in Paris, we headed to Versailles to see the Sun King’s palace.  Here we once again used our sense of sight to count the number of sun symbols we saw in each room that we visited…another tactic to keep the girls excited and looking around at the beautiful decor in the heat and crowd of people. The favorite room for both girls was the Queen’s bedroom with the pink and flowery motif and total number of symbols counted was over 100.

Playing Picture Bingo at the Louvre

After Paris we headed to Provence, where we had rented a car and were able to tour on our own.  We drove to a 12th century working abbey called Senanque Abbey that was located in a valley outside of the hilltop village of Gordes.  It is impossible to put in words how beautiful the ancient Abbey looked surrounded by the hills and purple lavender fields.

Senanque Abbey outside of Gordes

On a whim, we decided to drive to the town of Lourmarin where we happened to come across an old chateau that was open to tours.  The Chateau de Lourmarin was a beautifully restored chateau from the 15th century with amazing views.  The restored kitchen inside the chateau was the favorite all around.

Chateau du Lourmarin

The next day we drove to the French Riviera coast. As we approached the coast we caught glimpses of the sapphire blue waters peaking out in between the hills. We drove to a picturesque coastal town called Sanary-sur-Mer.  It had a marina full of sailboats and a little boardwalk with cute shops and cafes. We were even able to take a dip in the ocean at a nearby beach.  All of the natural beauty in Provence was a stark contrast to the metropolitan beauty of Paris, but both were a feast for the eyes.

Sanary-sur-Mer

 

July 25, 2011

Foreign Correspondents: France Through Our Tastebuds

Our first  Foreign Correspondent is here! Bijal Shah, her husband, and her two daughters spent ten days traveling around France this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is Part 1 of their adventure. Stay tuned for the rest of their story this week!

The Shah family outside the Palace of Versailles

Our family vacation to France  was full of so many incredible experiences which left our daughters, ages 7 and 4 wanting to come back one day and experience it all again.  This week I will re-live our journey our taste buds experienced.

On our first day in Paris we came across a gelato shop on our walk back from the Eiffel tower. After a long wait and using the minimal French my husband knew, we finally sat down with our refreshing gelato. The strawberry and cantaloupe sorbets tasted just like fresh ice-cold fruit that was picked at the peak of ripeness!  The wonderfully cold gelato was a truly delicious and much needed reprieve in the hot Paris afternoon.

After a few days in Paris, we took the train to Aix-en-Provence, a small town in the south of France As a promise to the girls, we woke up early and headed to an outdoor farmer’s market with stalls of produce, meats, cheeses. The first things we bought were a bag of  beautiful dark cherries and a basket of strawberries.  The cherries were the sweetest we had ever tasted.  We couldn’t help but exclaim “wow” after the first bite of a fresh cherry.  While walking back to the apartment, we nearly devoured all the strawberries.

Each morning in the apartment we would have breakfast consisting of fresh fruit and warm croissants.  Directly next door to the apartment building was a family owned Boulangerie (bakery). Every morning my husband would run downstairs and buy some hot croissants and deliver them for breakfast.  We would sit on our rooftop terrace, eating our warm, melt-in-your-mouth croissants, juicy sweet fruits and enjoy the view of the orange tiled rooftops, church steeples and Mount St. Victoire in the background.  The food in Paris was fun for the girls, as was the experience of sitting in the outdoor cafés, but the farm fresh foods in Provence are the ones that still get their taste buds tingling.

July 13, 2011

Chiapas Coffee Bags

Behind the Design Wednesdays: Every week Tea writes about our designers’ inspiration for our current collection of clothing. For more Behind the Designs click here.

Have you ever tasted coffee from Chiapas, Mexico? Chiapas is located in the southern mountain range of Mexico, near the Pacific Ocean. Coffee beans from this region are sought after for their delicate aroma and sweet, medium-bodied taste. Mexican farmers have been growing coffee beans for generations with limited technology, and due to the mountainous environment most coffee fields are small – between 2 and 4 acres large.

When visiting this region of Mexico our designers were bombarded with different brands of Chiapas coffee, each owned by a separate family company. Each bag had its own typeface and personality, some referencing vintage coffee bag aesthetics, while others were more bright and modern. Inspired by the graphics, our designers created our Jaguares de Chiapas Tee. Constructed out of our favorite slub cotton, this shirt references a rich agricultural history, and is perfect for playing sports and exploring!

Jaguares de Chiapas” is a professional soccer club from the Chiapas region. And why number 19? Chiapas is Mexico’s 19th state.

June 29, 2011

Modern Mexico Inspiration Video

Behind the Design Wednesdays: Every week Tea writes about our designers’ inspiration for our current collection of clothing.

To start off our new Behind the Design Wednesdays and to kick off our new Modern Mexico collection for girls and boys, we thought we’d post a video of footage shot while our designers were traveling around Mexico.  We’ll release more of this collection in the coming weeks! We hope you feel as inspired as we do.

 

June 24, 2011

A Little Bit of Everything in Paris

Today we have a guest post from Ana, who works in Graphic Design at Tea. Every year Tea employees receive a dividend from Tea to use towards international travel. On Studio T we’ll be sharing travel stories of our employees as they travel around the world.

This year my international travels took me to Paris to meet my first niece Sofia. She is a gorgeous half French half Venezuelan healthy baby girl. So for this particular visit to the City of Lights, it was all about family time and not about sightseeing. I’m excited to see her grow up in a mix of cultures, and right now I’m undecided about a little detail… do I want her to call me Tia Anita? Tante Ana? Or Auntie Ana? French and Spanish will definitely surround her, but in me she has a very American aunt! So she will have a little bit of everything I guess.

Ana and Sofia

There are different things I would love to share from this trip, and I have a hard time selecting which ones to share. But I’ll share highlights of my favorite things!

This trip was not about the Eiffel Tour or Champs Elysees; it was about spending quality time with Sofia and my family. So on a Saturday, my mom, dad and I walked to a local market: Saxe-Breteuil Market in the 7th arrondissement. It was a bit overwhelming because it was crowded and the locals have their way of navigating their way through their market… and there were so many different things that you just didn’t know where to start! From cheeses, to hand-made Italian pastas, to jewelry and hats… you could find anything you wanted. On this visit we got a variety of raviolis and fresh vegetables to make pasta for lunch, and of course a cheese platter for dessert.

One afternoon, my mom and I took a walk on Rue de Sèvres and visited the Hermes store there. Amazing. My family had told me about how beautiful it was inside and the minute I saw the window displays I knew I was in for a treat! The entrance had a flower section with orchids and mini flower arrangements on one side and on the other it was all about horses and the classic Hermes scarf. But what really drew me in was once you started walking down the stairs into the main floor this enormous three pear-shaped tee-pees made out of wood and in each of them a different theme: beach, home linen and home china. My eyes were flying all over every detail. The floors, the leather handles on the staircase with the wood… forget about the product the experience of being in the store was just perfect for inspiration! And right next to the Hermes store there is a children’s bookstore: Librairie Chantelivre that I definitely recommend checking out. We were lucky enough that a Chinese illustrator was signing his books and he didn’t just sign the books–he drew illustrations with ink and brush on the spot. I think the parents were more excited than the kids to see the man at work!

The highlight I could go on forever about is Roland Garros. My hobby is tennis. I’ve been playing since I was a kid and now in my free time I play competitively (and for fun of course).  So to get to sit in the stand of Philippe Chatrier during the 40th anniversary of Roland Garros was an amazing treat.  I was only able to go to one day, but the tennis I saw was amazing: defending champion Francesca Schiavone, Novak Djokovic – winning his 38th straight win in 2011! For a tennis fan this was one lucky day to get all this great tennis on the first round of the open. I wish my pictures could show how amazing the tennis was, but my main focus was to capture the tennis form of the players so that I could improve my game!

The last little thing I’d love to share is that on one of the walks to the metro to go from our place to my sister’s place, there’s a little park across the street from Le Bon Marché…as we were walking by I spotted a trailer and my mind clicked: they’re having a photo shoot at the park! I’ve been doing a little bit of photography at Tea and now I can’t help but pay more attention to photography so I had to go check it out. I’m a little bit shy so I didn’t go and talked to anyone, but I did take a minute just to see them work. I have no idea what they were shooting for; there were two very tall models that looked like they were wearing something straight out of Lagerfeld’s sketchbook:

June 20, 2011

Welcome to Modern Mexico!

Welcome to our Fall 2011 collection,  inspired by Modern Mexico! Our designers traveled to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and San Cristobal, and immersed themselves in the culture to gather inspiration for this new line.  Loving the bright vivid colors, intricate embroidery, and bustling marketplaces, they returned to San Francisco to design our latest collection.  We have a small release and preview of what’s to come up on our site, so head over to check out our latest girl’s and boy’s clothes.

For the next few weeks on Studio T we’ll be wrapping up our Barcelona-inspired summer collection, and moving into the festivities of Modern Mexico. We look forward to taking this journey with you.

May 26, 2011

2 Continents, 3 Countries, 2 Weeks, 3 Children (Part Three)

Kimberly Brambilla is guest posting on Studio T this week, telling the story of traveling with her three young children to Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Read parts one and two of her family’s journey!

From Morocco we took a ferry back to Spain, and hopped a bus to the city of Malaga, where we fell completely in love.  Even though it’s a large city it has a small town feel.  We enjoyed walking along the cobblestone streets, listening to ringing church bells, strolling past beautiful fountains and sitting at outdoor cafes.  I was ready to move there!   It was difficult to leave this city, but we eventually headed by train to Madrid.

In Madrid the highlights were visiting The Prado and seeing flamenco dance performance.  The girls were mesmerized by the dancing, the music, and the energy of the performers.   Olivia was a bit confused at first when no flamingos came on stage, but she still enjoyed the show! Afterwards we walked around the city, and the girls were thrilled to find a flamenco dress in a souvenir shop. They put on quite a few shows with that dress once we got back home.  In the end, there was still so much of Spain I wanted us to see.

Was it difficult taking a trip like this with children? You better believe it! Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  The girls had some major meltdowns and tantrums along the way but considering all of the flights, train rides, taxis, buses, ferry ride and all of the walking we subjected them to I think they were remarkable.  This experience was priceless, and I would encourage anyone who is given the opportunity to travel with their children not to pass it up.

Here are just a few tips that might be helpful if you are planning to travel with children.

*Talk to them a lot about your upcoming trip.  I have always found that preparing my children for what is coming, no matter what it is helps.  Get them excited by reading books & watching movies that pertain to the destination.  I also talk to mine about the parts that won’t be fun – the waiting in long lines, heat/cold, tiredness, etc.

* Learn the cultural dos & don’ts with your children. By doing this, as well as learning a few words & phrases in the native language, you will be treated better & respected much more than if you assume everyone everywhere speaks your language.

*If you are a family of 5+, consider renting an apartment versus staying at a hotel. Many hotels in Europe require 2 rooms for a party of 5+.  The price comes out to about the same & you have the convenience of a kitchen, washing machine & more space!

*When traveling in large cities, take a double decker style bus that drops you off and picks you up at the sites.  It’s an easier way of getting around & seeing more with children.

*If you’re like me, you’ll want to see everything but that isn’t always possible with kids.  It’s important to keep them happy too.  In Barcelona, my kids could have stayed at Catalunya Plaza for hours, not because of the architecture or the great people watching but because of the multitude of pigeons. Stopping at a park is a great way of giving children a break from touring.

May 25, 2011

2 Continents, 3 Countries, 2 Weeks, 3 Children (Part Two)

Kimberly Brambilla is guest posting on Studio T this week, telling the story of traveling with her three young children to Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Read part one of her journey here!

Chiara, Gisele, and Olivia with their cousin in Italy

From Barcelona, we flew to Italy.  My husband grew up in Mezzago, a small town close to Milan.  He’s from a large family so there are many aunts, uncles and cousins.  It wasn’t the first time our girls had been to Italy, but it’s always a bit of a culture shock at first. They’re greeted with tanti baci (many kisses), hugs and tears.  There’s a constant flow of family members and neighbors that come to see us.  It can be a bit overwhelming even for an adult, but it didn’t take long for the girls to warm up. We were so proud of their willingness to communicate with the family. Their Italian is rough but they sure try. My oldest, after playing and having fun with cousins, told us “I like speaking in Italian”.  That brought quite a smile to my husband’s face!  It is one thing to tell the girls about their Italian heritage, but it’s another to let them experience it firsthand.  It was sad to say goodbye after being smothered with much love, affection and pasta, but in the end we set off for Morocco.

Morocco is unlike any place I’ve ever been.  Many of our friends and family were concerned about us traveling there, but I am so thankful we did, because we learned so much.  We took a short flight from Italy to Tangier, Morocco.  When the doors on the plane opened it felt like we were a million miles from home and from everything familiar.  The short cab ride from the airport to the hotel confirmed for me that the world is so much larger than the small space I occupy in my little Florida town.  My girls loved  seeing stop signs written in Arabic, hearing Arabic on the radio and holding Moroccan coins.  Upon arriving at the hotel we went to the rooftop terrace for mint tea and cookies.  The girls loved this!  Chiara began making plans of how she would make her own tea once we returned to Florida with mint leaves from our garden.

The next day we toured the medina (city) as well as the outskirts of Tangier with our guide Cherif. Our first visit was to a rug store where we were able to see the process of Moroccan rug-making.  The girls loved the experience of being given mint tea and their own “magic carpets” to sit on.  We also rode camels, an experience which my daughter Olivia had been patiently waiting for!

The next day we visited the quiet town of Assilah.  In Morocco you can hire a taxi not just for one trip, but for the day.  The driver will wait for you while you explore, or accompany you, but most of the drivers speak little or no English.  Our driver Unes was wonderful.  He showed us around Assilah, ate lunch with us, and taught the girls a few Arabic words. He even bargained for Moroccan slippers for the girls at the marketplace, and we were all a little sad to say goodbye at the end of the day! It’s amazing how quickly you can connect with people even if you don’t speak the same language.   The next morning as we packed our bags to leave, Chiara sat at the window looking out onto the street.  She got so excited when she spotted Unes as he picked up more tourists in his taxi, and I was thrilled when I heard her say to him “Ahlan (hello) Mr. Unes”!  I knew in that moment that the goals I had set when planning this trip were becoming a reality.  My kids were learning about new cultures & peoples and embracing them as well.  Beautiful!

May 24, 2011

2 Continents, 3 Countries, 2 Weeks, 3 Children (Part One)

This week we’ll be featuring three posts by guest blogger Kimberly Brambilla. Last summer she and her husband took their three young daughters to 2 Continents and 3 Countries in 2 weeks! This is Part One – stay tuned for Parts Two and Three.

“Are you crazy?” I’ve become used to being asked this question as I’ve planned trips and traveled with my 3 small children.  Having children doesn’t stop me from doing what I love most– in fact having children has actually made me more determined to continue traveling, so that I can share this love with them.  I wish to instill in them a sense of adventure, an openness and appreciation of other peoples and their cultures and a love of exploring the world.

Chiara, Gisele, and Olivia

Last summer we embarked on a journey of a lifetime.  We traveled to Spain, Italy and Morocco.  I knew that traveling with a 7, 5 and 2-year old would present many challenges, but it would also undoubtedly be an incredible experience for my daughters Chiara, Olivia and Gisele.  We were going to Spain to vacation, but were also headed to Italy to spend time with “la familia”.  My husband’s family lives there, and the girls do not get the chance to see them often.  Since Morocco is only 9 miles from Spain I couldn’t pass up the chance to expose my children to a culture very unlike their own.

To prepare and get them excited we read library books about places we would visit, looked at maps, made art projects and learned simple words and phrases in Arabic and Spanish My husband also speaks Italian with the girls, so going to Italy would be an opportunity for them to practice.

With bags and camera packed we were off, and began the adventure in the colorful and vibrant city of Barcelona.  We were thoroughly exhausted after traveling by plane, train and automobile to reach our apartment rental in the city.  After dropping off our luggage, we began the search for a place to eat dinner.  We were so tired that we stopped at the first place we found.  It didn’t look like much, but boy were we surprised!  Chiara wanted to order spaghetti but we reminded her that we were going to try new food on this trip.  Once the paella, green olives, manchego cheese and fresh bread arrived at the table we were 5 very happy travelers.  Although the girls were a little shy about using Spanish words with the waiters, they loved their first Spanish meal.

The next couple of days we toured the city in double-decker buses, which we found was the perfect way to see a city with kids. We saw many of the famous sites such as Sagrada Familia Church, Casa Batllo, Park Guell, and also spent time at the beach.  Our time in Barcelona was short but the memories we made are long lasting.  Next it was time for the girls to experience and learn about their Italian heritage and roots.  Italia here we come!

May 4, 2011

Tourists in Our Own City

san francisco tourists with skyline

Last week it was too beautiful to stay inside, so a few of us snuck off for a little walk on our lunch break. It was such a nice view we asked a passer-by to take our picture.  He asked us where we were visiting from.  We told him we were from the bottom of the hill.

(pictured from left to right:  Erin, Katy, Laura)