What do sourdough, natural wine, and coffee have to do with each other? They all happily co-exist at the bakery-cum-shop of Montreal sur-Mer in the tiny coastal town of Soulac sur-Mer, France. Although I have a knack for stumbling upon these little delights, the connection here is personal. Chanelle, the owner and creator of MSS (with her partner Mel), is the twin sister of a dear friend of mine.
There’s something you need to know about Chanelle; she is a whirlwind of energy, curiosity, and determination. She has travelled and lived in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and France. Through these travels, she has had marvelous experiences, such as picking grapes in France and cooking for the workers at a vineyard. While in Melbourne, she trained as a barista and worked on a farm in New Zealand. While in Paris, she worked at the café and roastery Ten Bells. This café would become an essential part of Chan’s journey. And her first exposure to sourdough baking started at Circus Bakery in Paris. You can see how coffee, bread, and wine come together in perfect synchronization.
So, how did it all start? An opportunity to move from the hustle and bustle of Paris to the cozy and charming town of Soulac created the much-needed space to realize a new way of life. As Chan described it, “there were no coffee shops, nothing I’m used to in the city. The question was: Do I look for a job or create one?” During the pandemic, she had been dabbling with breadmaking and wanted to give it a real go.
Chan’s Motto is “I’m always learning.”Wise words to live by.
During a break in lockdown when it was possible to travel, Chan returned to Vancouver, Canada, to see her sister. Through connections, she was able to observe breadmaking at Fraser Ubuntu Canteen. This ignited her curiosity even more about breadmaking. She reached out to friends asking about fermentation, bread, and flour. Then the opportunity to purchase a small oven from a friend came knocking.
The slice is right
So, the bread concept was working. Chan had converted her little studio into a bakery and made bread for a local restaurant of a friend in Soulac. The idea of creating a shop to sell bread and all her other favourite things (coffee, wine, beer, and handmade quality goods) started to take root.
As a lover of wine, it was integral to the shop concept. Again, reaching through her network, Chan started to inquire about sourcing wine. It’s important to note that it’s rare to go directly to the winemakers, but Chan did. Most people go through agencies to taste, see the soil, see the place and meet the makers. However, Chan started reaching out to winemakers she had previously worked with, and they were super responsive (of course). She created an opportunity to showcase incredible local wines to an audience thirsty for something unique and special.
How do you want to spend your life? Reflecting on this question, Chan explained her a-hah moment, “The past few years have been an awakening. I didn’t know what to do or what my passion was. How can I create my own little life? And that’s when passion and curiosity converged, and she began looking at potential locations for a shop.”
A critical juncture
During a two-week stint at Ten Bells during COVID, she was confronted with a critical moment. Alice, the owner of Ten Bells, asked her what’s your plan. This question stuck with her as she came back to Soulac. They had found a location for their shop but was this the right move? Soulac is seasonal, and the space owner didn’t want to rent for the whole year. It would be more profitable to rent seasonally. That didn’t stop them.
To bring this dream to life, they needed a little help. If it’s still not apparent, Chanelle and Melissa have an extensive network of people worldwide. The power is in numbers, and they reached out to this network to ask for help bringing this idea to life. Using crowdfunding to raise 18,000 Euros, Chan put out the ask with trepidation, but the response was unreal. To challenge herself to meet her goal, she said, “You don’t get the money if you don’t make the goal.”
Dreams do come true
Not only did they meet their goal, they surpassed it quite significantly, and on May 13th, 2021, the La Acesion holiday in France, Montreal-sur-Mer opened. To show their gratitude to the donors of the campaign, Mel wrote the donors names on the show window. (H)
As the business continues to scale, selling out of bread every day. Every time you visit, expect to hear all the incredible stories connected to each product they sell. Chan envisions a collaborative baking future where she can invite bakers to share their knowledge about other ways of baking. And to continue learning, accepting that you’re always learning.
So, if you find yourself in Soulac-sur-Mer, make sure you stop by Montreal-sur-Mer to say hello to Chan and Melissa. And don’t forget to grab a fresh loaf of bread and a bottle of wine (or two).
What is it about Amsterdam that we love so much?
There is something electric about Amsterdam. It has a gravitational pull on my heart, but that’s okay. I love it. The city, the architecture, the history, the culture, the politics, the design, the innovation, the way of life merge into this beautifully blended city and life experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit on multiple occasions, which has enabled me to have a more immersive city experience. I’ve been able to slowly penetrate beyond the tourist exterior and discover the local pulse. So, this post is an accumulation of multiple trips (and hopefully more). It’s organized by neighbourhood to make it easier to navigate. Enjoy, like riding a tandem bike with your bestie on your day off!
Albert Cuyp Market – This market is lively, and you can find all manner of things here. Fresh produce, fresh flowers, artisanal food products, a delicious assortment of food to go (Dutch, fusion, and world cuisine), and of course clothing, homeware, and such. I love most the terraces on the side streets running perpendicular to the market. 💐
Bar Fisk – This is a great spot, a short walk from the hustle and bustle of Cuyp Market. It has an intimate terrace and an even more intimate interior. I stopped to enjoy a glass of wine on their patio, but their food menu looked fantastic. It’s on my to-do list when I go back. 🍷
De Japanner – This is a fun spot for izakaya-style Japanese food and a delightful and cheeky cocktail list. Case in point, Yuzu Call Me on My Cellphone. The vibe inside is straight up cool, no ice. No need. 🍶
Duke of Tokyo – A sleek karaoke bar created that emulates the bar vibes in the Golden Gai district of Tokyo. You’ll find an eclectic crowd feeding off the energy of the place. We only popped in for a yuzu sake shot, which was delicious. I need to go back, especially for a karaoke night. 🎤
Coffee & Coconuts – This is my go-to work spot when I need a change of scenery from my WFH situation. I usually get a V60 pour-over; ask the barista they have a good selection of beans. The smoothie bowls are a fantastic way to start your morning, or if you need something hardier, they have a solid breakfast menu. For lunch, I recommend the Baos. Get there early and know that working from a computer means sitting at the bar or the communal table. ☕
GlouGlou – One of the wine hot spots in the city. It could be the deliciously curated selection of natural wines they offer or the perfectly poised people-watching terrace. Not to mention the cozy interiors that make for a great date spot. If it’s natural wine you’re after, you need to add this to your need-to-go-to list. 🍷
Sarphatipark – A relaxing and charming park to run, walk, workout, people watch, dog watch, or enjoy a picnic. The park is surrounded by restaurants and bars and is a few blocks from the Albert Cuyp market. It is a popular spot with locals who come in droves to enjoy the park when the weather permits. 🌳
Sir Hummus – What a lovely little shop with a truly delicious assortment of hummus. You can also get food-to-go and various items for cooking at home. I love the easy-going and friendly vibe of this shop and the delicious food. 🧐
Van Gogh – Of course, this is a fan favourite, but I genuinely love getting lost in Van Gogh’s paintings. As a painter, I admire. It’s lovely to be able to sit amongst his masterpieces. At the same time, the museum space is also a beautiful space to be in. I love making a day at the museums. Usually, two max so as not to overload. 🎨
Rijksmuseum – A national museum for the Netherlands, is a beautiful yet large museum. It’s where I go for a history lesson and to explore the old masters, which I love. The museum has a mix of exhibits showcasing paintings, model boats, ceramics, and collected objects that showcase Dutch history through time. 🖼️
Moco Museum – Modern art and street art find harmony here, with a side of Instagram. The bright and eye-catching Moco museum packs punch with its small but captivating collections. You’ll find the likes of contemporaries such as Banksy, Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, and The Kid, next to the ‘Moco Masters’ Warhol and Keith Haring. Just be prepared to study the art with Gen Z’ers posing next to it. Maybe it’s the evolution of art? 🧨
Stedelijk Museum – I think this is my favourite museum. Three floors of art, with the bottom floor housing art “from 1980 to the present, by international artists and designers who are helping to shape the changes of today and tomorrow. They challenge the status quo and offer alternative perspectives” (Stedelijk Museum). It’s the perfect blend of history, art, and culture. The bookstore is also on point. 💡
Vondelpark – The park connects to the museum district. It’s worthwhile to cycle through the park, and if the weather permits, bring a lunch and relax. 🚴
Foam Museum – This is one of my favourite museums to go to since I was an exchange student in Utrecht and continues to be a favourite 10+ years later. Foam is a photography museum. It is dedicated to curating fundamentally human exhibits at its core, showing diverse people, places, cultures, and ideas. It’s also a beautiful space to contemplate the exhibits or life. 📸
Red Restaurant – I popped into this tiny spot after visiting the Foam museum. It has a cute outdoor seating area, excellent for people watching as the spot is at a relatively busy intersection for pedestrians and bikes. I was there for lunch, so I enjoyed a super tasty hummus (and more) sandwich and a coffee. But, there were people inside enjoying a much fancier brunch, champagne, and an excellent-looking menu of brunch items. The lavish interiors suggest this would be a cozy and intimate spot for cocktails (when things open up again). 🍽️
Bocca Coffee – I came across this café and roastery on a more recent visit to the city. It’s part of how I explore a new neighbourhood, start at a café and if I’m lucky to get some suggestions or explore the general area. But, this coffee here is delicious, with a beautiful indoor space great for working, chatting, or downtime. They also have a great selection of home brewing products and accessories. It’s where I picked up my travel Kinto (Heart face). Pop in here for a coffee to go or linger (when we can again). ☕
Episode – This is a fun vintage shop with a great assortment of vintage pieces in different genres. I picked up some cashmere sweaters there (big heart), but there are some fabulous pieces for the more eclectic and streetwear styles. It’s well organized and easy to navigate, always a pit-stop when shopping for clothes. 👚
Lindengracht Market – This daily (except Sundays) market has the full range of bread, cheese, produce, flowers and much more. It has a much cozier feel than Albert Cuyp Market. Keep an eye out for the vintage markets that pop up next to it. 🧀
Hinata Ramen – I stumbled on this spot after a tour through the weekend market. Although I didn’t try the ramen (it was a hot summer day), the izakaya-style menu items were so on point. I tried the chicken karaage, edamame, onigiri, and a locally brewed yuzu beer (I swear I’m not obsessed with yuzu). 🍜
Anchor Book Store – This bookstore gem is a stone’s throw from Winkle and the weekend market. A fantastic selection of Dutch and English books. The owners have provided a selection of Dutch authors translated into English so that you can immerse yourself in Dutch culture a little bit more. 📚
Toki Cafe – This has to be one of my favourite cafes in the city. Aesthetically speaking, it meets my minimal cafe vibes, but they also make great coffee. It’s a hot spot with locals, so you get a chill, laidback vibe, not to mention a great opportunity to people watch. If you’re lucky to snag a spot, it’s well worth the time to slow down, read, think, or watch the world go by while you enjoy your fresh brew. ☕
The Rest of the City
American Bookstore – This is probably the most popular English language bookstore in Amsterdam. They have an incredible selection of books for all your needs. More obscure design, architecture, and coffee table books with a comprehensive fiction section of adults and young adults. A good spot for gifts for the book lovers in your life. Or for a unique souvenir. 📚
Tolbar & Cinetol – Tolbar has a relaxed yet fun vibe to it. They have a great selection of craft beers, cocktails and the food menu is ample and great for sharing. There is great outdoor seating, great for this summer weather, depending on the weather. What’s also cool is the live music venue, Cinetol, connected to Tolbar. Overall, an excellent spot for food, music, and good company. 📽️
Bar Oslo – This is an excellent restaurant across the canal from the Tire Station Conscious Hotel, where I was staying. In the summer, it’s a great spot to take in the people and boat watching. If you can scoop a lounge car by the canal, this is a great spot to unwind solo or with a friend or two. I recommend their version of a spritz and try the local Dutch beers. 🍺
The Breakfast Club – I love breakfast, so I was naturally excited to see that there was a restaurant dedicated to my favourite meal. But I love food in general. The food was on-point, selecting savory and sweet items: good coffee and a good vibe in the shop. The outdoor area is perfect for slow weekend mornings, yourself or with a friend (Oud West location). 🥞
Ken Sushi – This was a rad experience, and I’m so happy I got to try it. Ken Sushi is Omakase, which means “I leave it up to you,” or “Chef’s Choice.” I levelled up here when it comes to sushi here, and it was an amazing experience. The sake pairing was incredible, rose sake, I never knew. 🍶🍣 Photos below.
When your friends have a 360 view of the city
Rotterdam is a city that was reborn after the second world war. After much of it was destroyed during the war, it regained its position as a port hub and reimagined itself as a modern city, built into the leftovers of old Rotterdam. Some of the country’s most iconic contemporary buildings, such as the Cube Houses and the Central Library, are in Rotterdam. Popular Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus is from Rotterdam, and he has had a hand in redefining the cityscape. The city is divided by the ever-important and famous river Nieuwe Maas. There are several ways to cross over the Nieuwe Maas, but the most iconic is the Erasmus Bridge or, as the locals call it, ‘The Swan, ‘ another modern architectural gem.
What stood out about Rotterdam was the open space, the laid-back vibe, and the mix of old and new. The city embraces both its history and modern form, creating a blended city that reveals pockets of old Rotterdam, next to shinning pillars of modernity. In addition, the city was exciting to explore by bike because each neighbourhood felt so unique. Depending on your mood or what you felt like doing, you could head over to one area or explore multiple areas in a day. As a result, the city feels young, vibrant, and innovative.
Rotterdam is a city I would like to move back to and explore more. I was lucky enough to spend just over a month and a half there en route to Berlin. The city wasn’t in complete lockdown yet, so it was possible to dine out, shop, and go to museums, which I did with fervour. This post highlights the spots I tried and also some wishlist items.
Delfshaven is a beautifully preserved neighbourhood next to the harbour. Restaurants, bars, and cafes line the canals giving you a perfect view of the water and the cozy houseboats and boats in the water. If the weather cooperates, it’s a great spot to have a drink or dinner and watch the sunset.
At the epi-center of the downtown core is fairly mainstream shopping, but you don’t have to go far to experience smaller boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops. Restaurants and cafes line the sidestreets, with museums and other cultural institutions within walking distance. The mix of mainstream and small businesses is well-executed here, creating a balanced liveliness to the center.
This is a trendy waterfront neighbourhood known previously as a warehouse district. The most famous Fenix Food Factory is known for its range of food fresh food offerings. But, there is a significant selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes in a small area located on Delistraat (such a great name). I love this street; it has loads of outdoor seating to enjoy the array of food and drink you’ll be consuming.
This is the neighbourhood I lived in, south of the center on the other side of the water. A reasonably residential area and quite multi-cultural, it was quieter than the center. Many specialty food shops are specializing in a mix of Asian and Turkish food offerings, among others. The neighbourhood has lots of pocket restaurants and cafes and a short walk to a vast park.
- The Tea Lab – I stumbled on this spot, a great spot to work remotely. In fact, they encourage it. I sat upstairs for a nice view of the street and people watching—they offer an excellent selection of teas, sandwiches, and baked goods. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even do high-tea (pictured).
- 30ML Coffee – A cute little coffee shop with a nice assortment of snacks, sandwiches, and a good spot for brunch.
- De Brunch Club – A lovely brunch spot next to the canal, a short bike ride (or tram ride) from the downtown core. If it’s a nice day, definitely sit next to the canal. I chose a classic, flat white and avo toast (pictured).
- Vietnamese Meme – This restaurant was close to my house, so that I may have frequented it more than others. But, arguably delicious Vietnamese food.
- Bagels and Beans – This is a chain bagel shop, but an excellent assortment of bagels (savoury and sweet), baked goods and coffee.
- Mangiare Rotterdam – This delightful spot is a hidden gem tucked away on a sidestreet, adorably called Pannenkoekstraat. The vibe is relaxed and inviting. Grab a seat on the terrace. The sharing platter is perfect for grazing and taking your time with a glass of wine. Everything on the menu looked delicious, but I opted for the beet tortellini and the grazing platter (pictured).
- Lisa Kitchen|Bar – Conveniently located next to Zuidplein metro station. This spot hosts a great patio area and a full menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The hummus sandwich is a staple, and they have a good selection of snacks and local beers that pair well with their patio vibes.
- Binnemarket Main Market in the City Centre – This market is my kind of outdoor market. It has an excellent array of fresh produce, cheese, meat, fish, flowers, and plants. But (for me) the big score is on Saturdays, you can also find a fantastic assortment of vintage goods–clothes and furniture. So, if you like to rummage or just get lost for a few hours in a market, this is an excellent choice. You can get a snack here or wander over the smaller streets and relax on a terrace with a coffee or glass of wine. Markethall is also super close.
- Markethall – Is a great place to go hungry and sample a vast range of food. It’s not inexpensive, but good quality food to go and food to take home. There are also a few restaurants to stop at for a few drinks and snacks. Check out the tapas bar. Try and grab a seat at the bar if you can.
- For an extensive list of markets, check out this blog by Weekends in Rotterdam.
Spend that hard-earned cash
- Stek Plant Store – A fantastic shop for all things plants. The owner is super helpful and will help you find the perfect plant for your home, needs, and experience level. You can also get it repotted (you have to pay for the soil and the pot).
- HutSpot – This shop provides a well-curated selection of clothes, books, jewellery, prints, or housewares with a nod to local Dutch brands and beautiful brands from within the EU. You are sure to find something for yourself or a gift for someone special.
- Cheap Fashion – This is a staple in the world of second-hand garments in Rotterdam. Often with long lines waiting to get their hands on a new drop, you can find prices at staggeringly accessible prices. In addition, you’ll find their social presence bold and fun, which keeps people entertained and informed.
- Sweet Rebel – This is a lovely vintage shop. The owner puts together a beautiful and thoughtful collection of vintage pieces for everyday moments and special occasions. Or, if your style is bold every day, it also works. I found some truly stunning pieces that I wish I could take all of them home. They also have a great selection of quality jeans and a nice mix of some contemporary second-hand items.
- Dodo – On my wishlist for brunch, dinner, and cocktails. The photos, of course, look delicious, but the vibe is trendy and fun. I’ll have to report back.
- Backyard – This spot hits the mark for a great breakfast, dinner, or just cocktails. Fresh, healthy, and tasty breakfast options look like they could keep me going all day. And the vegan wine selection piqued my interest.
- Kino Rotterdam – A charming independent triple threat, with a bar, restaurant and cinema. With a great rotating selection of cult classics, international cinema, and popular mainstream films. I can’t wait to check it out.
- The Nederlands Fotomuseum – With a blend of historical and contemporary photographic exhibits, this is a museum to see if you love photography. Moreover, the preservation and celebration of iconic Dutch photographers.
Camping in trash?
Repurposing old objects into sleeping accommodations or ‘sleeping objects, Culture Campsite gives a second life to materials otherwise destined for the trash. The merging of sustainability and design creates a unique getaway experience right in the city. With names like ” (S)low Tech,” “Trash Inn,” “Scuba,” and “Second Skin,” you’ll be reimaging what you think of camping. This clever and innovative concept is what makes Rotterdam such a fascinating city to visit, and I would argue the Netherlands at large.
Biking culture is fascinating in the Netherlands. Biking is a way of life. Most people use a bike as their primary transportation mode (although the rapid transit, metros, and trams are highly developed and convenient), students, adults, teens, kids, even families with three kids. So when I say let’s go for a bike ride, because it’s an enjoyable thing you do on a sunny day in Vancouver, that’s a regular day (rain or shine) in Holland.
To fit in, I bought a second-hand bike right away. I was lucky enough to find a second-hand bike and one that was my size (the only one!). So, I went to 010 Bikes. The staff were accommodating, let me test ride the bike, and set up my bike lock. Bike theft in the Netherlands is a daily occurrence and a running joke. So, having two locks is not out of the ordinary.
I am making a note of this because I found this a gateway into understanding Dutch culture. I also found it interesting to observe, both through my mistakes and pure observation, like people watching while you’re moving. I admire the way that Dutch people navigate life on bicycles: texting while cycling (although dangerous, it still looks cool), kids piled into the front attachment, navigating through pedestrians, teenagers in gangs moving around with such freedom, lovers riding side by side, and parents giving a helpful push to their child.
So, if you’ve been thinking about visiting Rotterdam, do it. It’s a fun, thriving city with so much to offer from museums, culture, food, city life, and history. Lastly, if you enjoyed this article, leave a comment or follow me on Instagram for more travel adventures. – Sidestreet Travel
Postcards. A timeless souvenir, with so little you can do so much. You can find them worldwide, a tangible memory of a trip, a memento to remind your friends and loved ones that you’re thinking of them. They come in all shapes and sizes (fun fact 4″x6″ is the standard size), paper memories of the cities you’ve visited, the art exhibit you loved, a favourite landmark, you can even collect used postcards from flea markets or antique shops. There is something beautiful and voyeuristic about reading a semi-private message that someone sent. But, it also illustrates how powerful these objects can be in your life or the person who receives them.
According to the Smithsonian Institute Archives, “Postcards, as we are familiar with them today, have taken a considerable amount of time to develop. First restricted by size, color, and other regulations, postcard production blossomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Postcards were popular because they were a quick and easy way for individuals to communicate with each other.” What I didn’t know was there is a word for the study and collection of postcards, deltiology.
However, pre-pandemic, the focus on digital and instant communication has pushed postcards and ‘snail mail’ to the sidelines. Yet, the past year-plus has grounded and isolated us all. Travel plans halted, tourism up-ended, and the future is still uncertain. The desire to travel is deep-seated for many who thrive on the exhilaration, perspective gained, and memories created from travel. Postcards act as a conduit for us to relive an experience and to communicate. The pandemic has shifted how we spend our time and the things we value. It’s been an opportunity to look inward and to discover opportunities to grow while rediscovering the ‘slow life.’
This slowing down presents an opportunity to reconnect with analog processes such as letter writing. I think the form, function, and design of postcards create an emotional connection to these objects. As we begin to see shifts in our global situation, I think people will be excited to embrace the kiosks and kitschy tourist shops (at home and abroad). And with it, the ritual of writing postcards to loved ones while sipping a cappuccino.
With this, I introduce I Miss Post. An online postcard writing/mail service created by a dear friend, Emily. Emily is a world traveller who grew up between France and Canada. She retains the elegance of the French culture, style, and way of life while layering it with her adopted culture’s west coast vibes.
Her business started from the love postcards purely as a personal love and evolved to its present form as it became clear that people were yearning for the good ol’ snail mail, something to send and receive. Her business allows you to choose a postcard and include a message that she handwrites herself. A local artist designs the postcards in Vancouver, and they can travel the world while we live vicariously through them. Below you will find our conversation about her business, love of post, and travel. I hope you enjoy it.
Your Personal History with Postcards
Tell me about the beginning of your postcard journey.
I grew up between Europe and North America, and I moved cities countless times. My 80’s childhood was when landlines still existed, and the internet did not. Calling overseas at that time was expensive. The best way to stay in touch with friends was, therefore, through the mail. This is where the love for finding the right postcard for a loved one began. Postcards were the perfect choice, as they had a wonderful visual component and a non-overwhelming amount of space for writing a message.
Tell me about the first time you bought a postcard. Where was it? How much did it cost? Why did you choose that one?
I don’t recall my first purchased postcard. However, it would have been bought in Cannes, France. It was most likely very cheesy with an 80’s overuse of neon graphics and bad photo layering.
Do you collect postcards for yourself or always send them to friends and family?
While travelling, one of the first things I search for is postcards. Most of these are then sent from my travel destination to friends and family, and a few are kept for my personal postcard collection for a later occasion. Which, over the years, has grown to be a collection of postcard treasures. I’ve always either had an old cigar box, small suitcase or drawer full of postcards that I’ve collected on my travels which I then post later.
Photo Credit: I Miss Post
Do you have a favourite style of a postcard?
I love every cheesy travel postcard with bad typography and scenic photographs or art postcards purchased from art gallery/museum gift shops. I enjoy the postcard visual front as a starting point to the back written message portion.
I Miss Post – Origin Story
Was this longstanding love of postcards an impetus to start I Miss Post? Yes, definitely. Having quit my job in 2016, I went travelling to reconnect with old friends. Upon our reunions after, at times over a decade of not having seen each other, a common thread arose. They all mentioned how much they had loved receiving postcards from me over the years and that they still had them all. In these conversations, I realized how much joy it had brought to them. However, most had mentioned they could never find the time and postcards to reciprocate this action. And so the seed was planted for creating a postcard writing service business as well as promoting artists. Because secretly everyone loves the idea of postcards, but as social media swept in, we lost the motivation to buy them, write them, and track down a local post office.
How did you land on the graphics for this first release of postcards?
Writing postcards now feels like a lost art in our technology-heavy instant-communication day and age. Therefore, I was thinking back to what components of life we may miss, and so began the “I miss …” postcard collection.
How did you find your graphic designer?
I have been fortunate in life to have been surrounded by extremely talented friends, and Ženija from “Say it with Sarcasm” was an ideal match for this project as her illustration talent was perfectly aligned with my vision for this first postcard collection.
In terms of business, how has the concept been received? Do you think people are finding solace in the act of sending mail, particularly during this unprecedented time?
It has been received with much positivity. Many people have commented how much they have enjoyed being able to have this personalized service while at the same time being able to keep up with their busy lives. For the customers who are purchasing the blank pack of eight postcards, I have heard the following; that the pandemic has allowed them, for a time, to slow down and therefore, they are going back to something that they haven’t done in years or decades: writing and sending postcards themselves.
What do you think resonates most with people when writing cards or mailing something?
Postcards are like a slow, meaningful text message. An easy way to break it down is with this question; Have you ever printed out a text sent to you and placed it on your fridge? Most likely not. Because it doesn’t feel as authentic as a postcard, postcards are a way to tell someone you’re genuinely thinking about them. It’s a tangible token of acknowledgement. There is something magical about knowing the piece of paper you hold in your hands has travelled a long distance and passed through the hands of many people to deliver to you the thoughts of another person that is thinking of you.
What role do you think postcards can play in our current global situation, specifically mental well-being, communication, and closeness?
Postcards, especially during these difficult times of solitude, create four essential components for well-being: mindfulness, time, love and joy.
- Mindfulness as you take the time to pause and be in the present moment with care and reflection on the other person.
- Time because the sender has taken time out of their busy lives to find the postcard, write the message, find your address, and send the postcard. All of which feel more limited in this current day and age.
- Love as in “I care for you,” specifically for you with a personalized message that someone is thinking of you and sending you their love.
- Joy because small gestures can make a significant impact on someone, and postcards are intrinsically delightful.
What Does Travel Mean to You?
What is your most memorable trip?
Any first time arriving in a new city or country that feeling of aw, gratitude and exhilaration for being alive.
What inspires you to travel?
Being of dual nationality from two different continents and cultures, travel is integral to my being. For it expands my mind and soul to wider perspectives and new horizons.
If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go?
The south of France.
How has travel shaped or changed your life?
It has provided me with some of my most memorable life moments.
When it comes to travel, how do you plan a trip?
First, I decide if it’s going to be a solo trip or one with company. From there, I make a wish list of what I’d like to do or see while on this trip.
How do you immerse yourself in local culture?
Trying to travel with friends from that region is my #1 way to get a first-hand immersive experience. If that’s not possible, renting a flat in a fun neighbourhood where I can ask the locals what they recommend to see and do.
What are your travel essentials?
Ideally, a small carry-on suitcase which fits all my essentials. Clothing can be layered easily to adapt to all sorts of temperatures, great walking shoes, cloth tote bags, and my favourite writing postcard pens!
Are you a planner or a wanderer?
Both. In advance, I like to do my research and plan out site visits, i.e. art galleries, museums, monuments, parks etc. Once there, I allow for spontaneity and wander the streets and ask locals for recommendations. I could walk for kilometres with no true plan and be at my happiest discovering the infinite small details of a place.
How many postcards do you send when you’re travelling?
On average, my core list sent to loved ones is between 20-30 postcards. Though, I have been known to send over 50 in less than ten days on certain vacations.
How do you think the future of travel will change post COVID19?
This pandemic has made us appreciate and discover our own cities and countries in a different and new way. Once we can broaden our travel again, I hope people will be more grateful for cultural exchanges and being present in the current moment.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A sea turtle
The ritual of making coffee is both meditative and exciting. It is processional, each step with a specific reason, no extras, and no shortcuts, from grinding the beans to the hypnotic circling of the water into the dripper, the smell, the bloom, and the anticipation of brewed elixir. I would conduct similar steps when I would hand brew my espresso out of the NanoPress, laborious but worthwhile.
When I moved to Roatan in September of 2019, I had developed my process for pour-over with my Chemex and fancy pour-over kettle, but as I downsized and needed to simplify without giving up my caffeine obsession. And herein lies how I came to create my travel coffee kit.
My kit contains the following, housed entirely in a shoebag.
Hario Hand Grinder
Glacier Coffee Travel Pour-Over Kettle
Nanopress Travel Espresso Maker
Coffee Sock Reusable Filter
Hario Paper Filters
Enamel Mugs from Best Made – great for camping, but also travelling
Everything Japanese Cloth from Best Made – if you spill or need something to protect from heat.
I must admit that I am an ‘eye-baller’ for how much coffee to use for pour-over. Don’t shoot me, I know there is a level of precision that I will never achieve (at least until I get a scale), but it works for me. There are travel scales I have seen that I think will be an excellent addition to the kit. The flat white, on the other hand, was much easier to manage. The Nano Press makes superb espresso, and the Nespresso is one of the best I’ve used, especially for alternative milk.
Ultimately, this kit allowed me to create all my favourite versions of coffee I love (and need) in my life, from a fresh pour-over to a flat white in the morning and mid-day. For those who love travelling and ensuring you have your morning brew, this is a great way to do it, especially if you are going to a more remote location. Of course, I still go out for coffees and use coffee shops as a great way to get local recommendations, but this is for those moments by yourself where you want to enjoy a cop of fresh brew while listening to the birds sing, while you swing in your hammock.
Honduran coffee is fantastic! If you get a chance to buy Honduran beans, I highly recommend them. Also, if you’re looking for coffee-brewing supplies, I am a big fan of Kurasu. My wishlist item is the Origami dripper.