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New Video: Travel in Style

Remember those days when you dressed up to travel? In the world capital of chic, Paris, France, I channeled a more classic yesteryear in a retro-inspired, but classic Salvatore Ferragamo dress, grabbed my Away bag and headed away. More coming soon.

Travel in style… you never know where your next journey might take you.

Wardrobe // Salvatore Ferragamo

Luggage // Away

Rincón Photo Diary & Puerto Rico Donation Link

I sat on my roof deck lulled by crashing waves and coqui chirps. I took a deep breath of salt air and humidity as I giggled to myself. At what? I don’t remember, buzzed off of happiness and piña coladas. It was almost midnight, almost my birthday, and I was exactly where I wanted to be. Alone. In Rincón, Puerto Rico.

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I think I cried and puked on my princess dress at my second birthday party. Suffered and smiled through the subsequent ones for nearly three decades in between. Secret? I was in it for the cake and often found everything else a bit anti-climactic. Sure, usually a pretty great time with friends and family, but very little to distinguish them from other nights in the year. That’s the problem when you become addicted to doing cool shit; your birthday becomes that day of the year when eyes are on you to be grateful and happy. A few years ago, when Couchsurfing in Switzerland and spending my birthday with complete strangers, I found the secret sauce. Doing something new. Something different, exciting, uncomfortable, ideally both. Last year, I was in three different countries and had an epic weekend with my Mom and friends in Portugal. This year, days before my birthday, I still had no idea what I was going to do.

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I traded in the red tiled roofs of Lisbon last year for Puerto Rico

I thought about what I needed. What my body was truly craving. Peace. Relaxation. I decided that I wanted to spend my birthday surfing. And not just going to a surf spot with friends, because that inevitably lead to me just hanging on a beach, frolicking in the water and watching my more proficient friends take on waves. No, I needed to do this for myself and not get gunshy.And then as if kismet, while on a photoshoot, I met a handsome angel from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Luis Ocasio. Well if this wasn’t Gabriel telling me where I needed to be, I don’t know what was.

This is a photo diary that I’ve been meaning to share since this summer has taken on an even more poignant meaning with the recent hurricane devastation — my solo travels through the western half of Puerto Rico, namely Cabo Rojo and Rincón. I’ve shared a video, Instax Diary and Perfect Stay of this trip previously but also wanted to share my photo journal of this cathartic journey.  There’s so much need out there and if you’re searching for a place to give, and to ensure that 100% of the money you donate goes to Puerto Rico, donate here. My childhood friends Jenny and Amaris held an event in Brooklyn for which the proceeds went to this fund aimed at getting Puerto Rico back on it’s feet. Donate with Lovers Rock Benefit in the comment.

https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/maria-puerto-rico-real-time-recovery-fund

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This is probably the most important aspect of my trip. Picking up my rental car from Charlie Car Rentals. I’m a NYC kid. I did not get my license until my 20s and I don’t drive very often. When deciding on Rincón, it was a pretty big deal for me to choose a place where I’d absolutely have to drive to get around, drive on a highway and drive for HOURS. I have to admit I was shaking when I got into the car. Sweating, nervous, finicking with my google maps because I didn’t have a sound attachment and I couldn’t listen to music lest I miss a direction. This was exactly what I wanted. A solo roadtrip. By the end of the weekend, I was handling those windy town roads in the Caribbean downpour quite nicely.  That’s fear of driving in my rearview mirror.

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The food, from a delicious burger at Casa Verde to an energizing morning smoothie at BD Cafe, Thai to classic Boricua, Rincón has such a delicious variety of food to satisfy any appetites. I must say though, my favorite spot for dinner was Tamboo Rincón. Recommended by Luis, it has delicious food and is the best spot to watch the magical sunsets this area is renown for.

 

The Food Compilation

 

And the sunsets are magical. One day I had the pleasure of driving up the coast during golden hour. I relaxed and smiled as I drove past picturesque Puerto Rican landscapes bathed in the sun’s glow. Every time I see a sunset, I am in awe of Mother Nature’s marvels, God’s work, in my opinion. The sunsets in Rincón will leave you breathless.

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The house’s proximity to the beach was amazing. I’ve gone through many different phases of my meditation journey from avid, to sometimes, and I must say, it’s quite a bit easier to take a moment in a setting like this.

My first afternoon was spent exploring the house and the town. Then, a little anxiously. I hit the road.

 

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These beautiful trees were like guardians of the road stretching out to embrace me on my journey.

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The Royal Poinciana, or Flamboyant Tree

First stop: the salt flats. Las Salinas. I was disappointed when I first reached the observation center I was a bit disappointed. The lake looked well, brown, murky. The gentleman at the information center told me that morning was the best time to see the algae come alive bright pink. The other visitors from other parts of Puerto Rico seemed disappointed as well. Oh well, I thought, on to the beach!

Rules were meant to be bent, just a tad.

I was driving and out of my window I saw a pink lake! Gated off, it seemed a sort of observation area. But what’s a gate? Especially if you’re a bit leggy like I am. That gate couldn’t possibly be meant to stop anything. I parked my car on the side of the road, grabbed my tripod and hopped out. A car actually stopped and asked if I needed help. By the time I was finished, 6-8 cars were parked behind mine. Happy tourists, relieved that their trips to see the pink lakes of Las Salinas weren’t a bust.

Well, I didn’t make it to Malta in time to see the natural rock bridge, popularized on Game of Thrones before it collapsed but El Puente in Cabo Rojo is definitely a rival beauty without all of the crowds. Really, I was there during a Saturday in the summer and I had over 30 minutes to myself before I saw another couple.

20170624-IMG_0358 by Nneya RichardsLooking back at el puente by Nneya Richards

On my way back, I stopped in the beautiful town of Boquerón for fresh oysters. This was my late afternoon birthday snack. If you’ve never travelled alone, it might be a strange thing to revel in this moment.

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swimsuit DOS GARDENIAS | photo by Robert Ibarra

And what about that goal of surfing? For 2 days (the third I spent driving down to Cabo Rojo and exploring) I let my body be rocked by waves. I was exhausted by days’ end as I sipped a Corona on the beach enjoying sunset. Getting up and staying up wasn’t a problem for me — I didn’t think it would be based on experience surfing in the past. It was learning the patience to recognize a good wave. I’m still working on that stillness, that intuition. There is little I find as invigorating as rolling up on a wave. With every hour in the water, I feel my endurance building. It’s the reset that’s my biggest problem. Riding a wave, hopping off and then swimming back to make another one. Waiting for that slow rumbling. There’s a lot of waiting. A lot of time with your thoughts and the water. No screen. As I laid out on shore drying. I was proud of my body and all it had done in a days work. Small, but a force.

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Walking home to Casa de Rincón with a skimboard after an afternoon surfing. Photo by Robert Ibarra

I came to Puerto Rico for relaxation and reprieve. I also wanted to take a quick trip WITHIN MY OWN COUNTRY. As a brown person, there are a lot of places within the United States that do not feel safe to me (check out my mum’s friend’s Rahawa’s experience on being a black female thru-hiker on the Appalachian trail). I’ll choose biking alone through a Peruvian desert than walking a mile through a populated town deep in Trump county. This feeling of ease, safety and kinship that drew me there on holiday seems directly in line with why the administration is dragging their feet on aid and celebrities, even reality TV stars are stepping up. Can 2005 Kanye come back and state the obvious here?

Rincon has been largely cut off from aid shipments as well as contact with the outside world.

Again, if you’re looking for a way to help Puerto Rico, please donate to this fund via Generosity: 

https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/maria-puerto-rico-real-time-recovery-fund

#StudyAbroadBecause

Before I head to Djibouti, I’m back in NYC this weekend and have the honor of attending the Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad & Global Citizenship. It’s day 2 and we’ve already made a resounding thunder clap on social media with over 35 million impressions of the #studyabroadbecause hashtag. I’m joined by top influencers — like some of my girls from Women’s Travel Fest (Courtney Scott, Juliana Broste & Mickela Mallozi), travel industry leaders (like NatGeo and JFK founded Partners of America) and the friggin’ United Nations and the importance of honoring Global Goals through studying abroad and global citizenship. The state department is watching us, guys.

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We’re at Hostelling International USA’s NYC location (the largest privately owned green space in Manhattan) and danced the night away at the Global Goals Green Gala (and today at Global Citizen festival — another sponsor). Studying abroad in Milan, Italy in the Fall of 2006 was such a transformative time for me, and probably changed the trajectory of my life. I shared this story at the Story Jam last night and wanted to share it with you.

So this week, while I was on the Eurostar from Paris to London, Facebook shared a blurry 11 years ago today… it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. This blurry photo was of a beautiful Italian, building… probably a church, in Venice. I studied abroad in Milan in the fall of my junior year of college. I have a background in fashion, so many think that’s why I chose Milan. In actuality, I chose Milan for 2 big reasons. One. I wanted to really learn Italian. I took Latin for about 12 or 13 years. Spanish as well. I wanted to go to an Italian city where I could really experience the culture, the people, and not be treated like a tourist. Classmates that studied abroad in cities like Rome and Florence — they had a beautiful time, but it seemed like sightseeing and partying with other Americans. I’m still a strong believer in people to people tourism. I wanted to walk away with Italian friends. Reason two. Milan is a hub. I wasn’t going to pass up on this opportunity to go EVERYWHERE in Europe. And for the first few weekends, that’s exactly what I did. Venice, Bratislava — one of my favorites — Madrid, Rome… It started out with a larger group and then dwindled down to one girlfriend in particular that I’m close friends with to this day. However, eventually and especially as I started making friends with Italians, I really enjoyed my weekends in Milan. It became my home. In fact to this day, Milan is a place I lived, my memories of dinner parties with friends, getting lost on the beautiful streets near the Castello, the secret gardens, Thursdays at Giorgio Armani’s table at his club…. Dalliances with an Italian or two. That’s the Milan I love and fiercely defend when people say they don’t like it as a city.

It’s not a city for tourists… it has it’s secrets

I fire back. This choice to study abroad was also the beginning of a pattern, for me, a habit. One that I’m in the midst of right now. I just got off of a flight from London (while traveling all over, London is probably where I spend the most time second to NYC) and I’ve spent the last month in Paris. On Saturday, I’ll head back to London for the next few months… with a few pitstops in Copenhagen, Djibouti and Oslo before September wraps. You see, when I grow a bit complacent in life, I mix things up and get out. I’m still “studying abroad.”

In college… I went to a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts. Absolutely loved it, coming from a prep school in NYC, it was tantamount to boarding school. Great group of friends. Head of social council, classes were great, but something was missing. I needed something different and I seized the opportunity to study abroad. Sure, I’d travelled before, but never LIVED abroad. Faced the trials of running out of money while traveling. Foreign beauracracy, hell, I even kinda got engaged to a well to do Spaniard, I met in Greece. He asked while I was on a trip with his family to Rome… in front of the Trevi fountain… what was I to say. So I came back cosmopolitan a la Audrey in Sabrina. That experience set my life on the trajectory that has put me where I am now. I know I need the rush and excitement of being somewhere new. The anxiety of taking the metro in  a new city for the first time… I became addicted to it. And when the malaise seeps in, it’s my cure.

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weekend trip to Rome

Flash forward to a year post college. I’m working in fashion — I see it as a caveat for travel. I’m laid off of my first job. I travel for a little bit and I get that bug again. What am I doing here in NYC? Work is going ok, but it’s that malaise. I missed Italy. I missed my friends in Europe. “I need a change!” I cried to a friend. “I’ve got to get out of here!” So I took a dream job as an aupair. I’m still close with my Italian family today and visit them when I’m in Milan. I call it a dream job because it really is an anomaly in the au pair experience. I was so immersed in the family that it felt awkward taking money from them every week. Based in Milan, they had a beach house in Gallipoli, where we spent the summer. From day trips to show me the area to afternoons gossiping over coffee with the anziana neighbors, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer…. I got sunburnt… my arm hair turned blonde. I roadtriped through Italy. I actually motorbiked to the tip of the heel! Saw Albania from overhead. I saw sunsets in Puglia / Salento every night. Again, I came back changed. This time, pretty much fluent in Italian, ready to work and pretty much insisting that the next job I took in fashion had to get me to Europe regularly.

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Lido le Canne sunsets in Gallipoli

I ended up at Topshop in the Press Office with a focus on Celebrity, then fashion partnerships at a hotel group yada yada yada, travel writing and founding this blog. So everything’s good, right? I’m traveling at least a few times a month, all over. London has started to feel like my second home as I’m there seemingly every 2 or 3 months and have a strong support system there. But again, that old nagging feeling struck me around the end of last year. Perhaps frustrated with politics, my views on the state of our country and this feeling that I had to do even more to champion globalization and the connectivity of this world. Not just as a tourist but a cultural exchange ambassador. A strong desire to learn about other cultures, immerse myself in them. I felt tied down by NYC life. My apartment, my sun drenched oasis, suddenly becoming a ball and chain. So, I found a subletter, and packed my bags for France. And guys, it has been glorious. I am far from the first black American to head to Paris when a bit shaken by the state of affairs in the US and I’ve spent my last few weeks in Paris deeply exploring this feeling. The other, almost point of reverance that we occupy there. Then there are the Parisian stereotypes, the rude cold people, the clingy, saccharinely sweet romantic men. Check. But did you know it rains almost every day in Paris? Yet people are still outside in the cafes or that people will freak the f out if you hold up the line at the boulangerie at 6pm – prime hour for getting your bread for the evening. For the last few weeks, my mind has been cleared from the rat race that’s new york. When the sun poured into my flat, I knew that it was that perfect time of day — always 3.30 – 4.30 and I went for a coffee. I read paperback books at a cafe — instead of typing away furiously on my laptop.

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strolling through St Germaine this fall

I wandered without Google maps. Being abroad, studying or living reminds me of, connects me to my best self. Long periods abroad have always signaled great and exciting change for me. So right now, I’m just so thrilled for what’s next.

 

Have you studied abroad? Have you lived abroad? Please let me know your story with the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause.

 

My Parisienne Beauty

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It’s safe to say that one of France’s biggest exports to the world is style & aesthetics. For Americans — at least those who voraciously consume fashion and beauty publications — “French girl style” is the epitome of chic. And French beauty is another arm of that: effortless perfection — mussy hair, a red lip, smudge of mascara. I’ve definitely seen it done here and probably reached as French girl cool as I’m ever going to look recently this week hopping off a moto bike, shaking out my hair and getting on with my evening. See that’s the secret: looking like you’ve just done something wildly exhilarating that you’re going to keep all to yourself.

Mussy hair. Check. Red lip. Check (though, I prefer a berry). Smudge of mascara. Check. The true anchor of this look is the body’s biggest organ. Great skin. Like most cities around the world, the air quality in Paris is not great, but none the less, I pass by hundreds of Parisiennes every day with dewy glowing skin of all hues. So, when coming to France for a few months, I decided to fully culturally immerse and fully embrace my love of French skincare brands. I called upon my few French girlfriends for tips and suggestions as to what products they love. So after scouring the aisles of Monop’ Beauty and CityPharma. Here’s my French “regimen.” I’m actually going to CityPharma today to pick up a few more things as Michael has agreed to take some items home for me! 

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Avène trio. Wash. Tone. Intense Moisture.

  1. Wash. I don’t need a very strong wash as 90% of the time I’m not wearing foundation make up. Really just something to cleanse my skin. My friend Anna recommended Avène which is soothing but doesn’t strip the skin. It seems kind of like a French Neutrogena to me.
  2. Tone. This Avène lotion micellaire is another recommendation from Anna. It’s actually a 3 in 1: cleanses, removes make up and tones so often I’ll either use this or a Ogee wipe at night and skip the face wash as to not strip my face too much.
  3. Oil. I was so used to using heavy moisturizers because I thought, “Well, that’s what you do.” Sure, harsh NY winters, my Kiehls Greenland trekking approve moisturizers worked wonders. But I was using it in humid Jamaica, trips to Miami and something just wasn’t right. That’s why it’s helpful to have a French friend. 😉 While chatting in London, my girl Tiphaine mentioned to me how she’s simplified her beauty routine and was primarily using a rose oil found at Whole Foods. Great idea! Her skin was glowing, pores weren’t clogged (that was my biggest problem). I began using my Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate with the 1-2 punch of the Midnight Recovery Concentrate. Skipping the serums, skipping the heavy mosturizers. Use those as needed, but I always used my oil. Then, I tried Ogee‘s oil. Love. Since being here I use my Caudalie Divine Oil. Years ago, meeting Mathilde Thomas, co-founder of the brand, she massaged this amazing product onto my hand. My skin came alive and I’ve returned to this old favorite.
  4. Spritz. From waking me up mid-afternoon, to long haul flights, to substituting a full on oil when I’m just running out for a baguette, my Caudalie Eau de Beauté is definitely my skincare all stare of the past few months. On sale at a pharmacy in Bordeaux, I stocked up on several travel size of these having never used them before because I was familiar with the Caudalie brand and usually loved the products. Little did I know Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir is a beauty industry favorite. From a make up primer to after shave for men, it’s definitely a beauty closet staple.Caudalie Graphic by Nneya Richards
  5. Mask Therapy. I’ll try to do a beauty mask once a week as a quick therapy and I love discovering new masks, especially Korea masks, but while here, I brought it back to basics with this Avène Soothing Moisture Mask. You’re supposed to apply a thick layer and let it just penetrate. As a sun worshipper, I need anything I can get to ward off UV damage.

 

I’ve been a Caudalie fan girl for years. On a visit to Bordeaux last summer, I discovered a large part of the grape extracts not used for wine went to the beauty industry in France and companies like Caudalie. Nothing, to me, felt more natural.

French Beauty Gif By Nneya Richards

Do you have any tips or products you think I’d love? Let me know!

Tenue Du Jour: Marché Sundays

This being my first free weekend in Paris, I was quite excited to get into the routine of the French staple, the market. Studying in Milan, I loved going to the market to get my meats and cheeses and practice my Italian. Even home, in Brooklyn, when I’m in a steady routine, I head to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket on Saturday mornings. And with my starter groceries waning, I couldn’t wait to hit up the famed Parisian markets; lucky for me there are a few several days a week, the biggest ones being on Saturdays and Sundays. So what to wear? This is not your sweatpants clad run to the supermarket. As with most things, Parisians make a marché run chic from the variety of beautifully woven baskets, to cute floral dresses.

I’m a quick learner, and after being here for about a week and a 1/2 I picked up a Parisienne girl practical style secret: the cross-body mini purse and the tote. Keep your wallet immediately accessible in the petite, chic cross-body and store your market finds, books, etc. in your tote or basket! Luckily I have a tried and true Topshop raffia shopping bag, that really has found it’s calling today and a new Ferragamo fun leather cross body. I think I’m getting the hang of this effortlessly chic thing because I threw on my Nili Lotan slip dress because I didn’t want to think about what I was going to wear under my trench. My trench as my go-to? Très Français! I’m so glad I brought my Nike Cortezes… people don’t oft mention it, but the Parisienne girl sneaker game is on point. It seems to be a city of sneaker-heads!

Et voilà! Let me know what you think!

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coat, TOPSHOP // dress, NILI LOTAN // purse, SALVATORE FERRAGAMO // bag, TOPSHOP // sneaker, NIKE

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Always a skincare person, I find myself using my tried and true French brand, Caudalíe here more than ever. Just a spritz of their eau de beauté beauty elixir, a smudge of mascara and a lip stain and I’m good to go for the day! I got this bottle in Bordeaux a few months ago.

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GET MY LOOK

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LOVELESS trench, $312.97 // NILI LOTAN dress, $545 // SALVATORE FERRAGAMO purse, $1,590 // TORY BURCH bag, $225 // NIKE sneakers, $110

Tenue Du Jour (#OOTD)

As you may have figured out, I’m in Paris for a bit! I will still be blogging about all of my travels around the world — content, content, content! — but I definitely want to take you guys with me, live, on my sojourn to the French capital. It’s really nothing new: black creatives have headed to Paris for inspiration and to escape f*ckery in the US for decades. (disclaimer: I am in no way comparing myself to geniuses like James Baldwin & Josephine Baker. I’m just saying I happen to be heading on my sojourn to Paris when the clock seems to be winding backwards on race relations in the US… but more on that later. This is a LIGHT post).

Tenue du jour 1 Nneya Richards

Here’s the first “series” you’ll be seeing: Tenue Du Jour. That’s “outfit of the day” in French. Paris is arguably the style capital of the world so from editor meetings in chic cafés to navigating what to wear while bopping around my neighborhood (one that reminds me a lot of my own in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) I’ll keep you guys updated in these quick blogposts.

Éclatez-vous!

 

top H&M // skirt TOPSHOP // boots LFL BY LUST FOR LIFE // bag ZARA

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Today I had my first appointment while here in Paris, with a videographer from a French publication. It was a coffee meeting and I wanted to look chic and cool and it was in Canal Saint-Martin so I wanted to look dope. Plus, it’s still my first few days here so dressing up still excites me. It’s definitely the start of that crisp fall weather so I broke out a staple: my black cotton turtleneck. Paired it with a femme chiffon floral skort and block heel booties that were comfortable enough to spend a few hours in walking around and exploring the neighborhood and were a “reasonable” daytime height. I added what has been my go-to bag since last year: it’s fun, eclectic and a Mary Poppins type bag that holds everything. In that bag? A new book my mum got for my from Shakespeare & Co. on Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. For the past few days I’ve looked quite enviously at people reading along the canal… Et voilà! Let me know what you think!

GET MY LOOK

Get my look by Nneya Richards

THREE DOTS turtleneck, $55 // IRO skirt, $230 // ASOS bag, $70.50 // MADDEN GIRL boots, $44.97

 

take-away lesson: Remove one thing. Back in NYC I have a plain black suede drawstring pouchette. I would have worn that or plain black chelsea boots. But not bad for a first go!

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