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From Pamplona to the Serengeti

By Kristen Gray

This month, our explorers meditated in the desert, basked in Basque Country and—just a casual vacation—witnessed a lion chase a wildebeest into a tent on safari.

Troublemaking in Spain

A shared birthday and a bucket list brought friends Mila Torres-Wright and Kelly Glynn to Spain. “Experiencing the Running of The Bulls in Pamplona was a must,” says Torres-Wright. “It was just five euros to enter the ring, where traditionally women were not allowed. We weren’t planning to wear the traditional all-white attire, but during our first night out we quickly realized it’s something literally everyone partakes in during the weeklong celebration. So we put on our white ensemble and grabbed a red bandanna.” Her favorite Basque Country destination was the city of San Sebastián, “where it’s routinely 80-degree weather and the beaches have turquoise water, the narrow streets are lined with balconies and the people are friendlier,” insists Torres-Wright, who recommends the tapas at Atari Gastroteka. Next, the duo traveled by bus along the coast to Valencia and ended their journey on the country’s famous party island. Ibiza, she jokes, attracts either “18-year-olds or billionaire yacht owners. We’re neither, but still managed to get into some fun trouble.”

Escape from civilization

California’s Joshua Tree National Park is nothing like nearby Palm Springs. During a recent visit for boyfriend Trey Black’s 39th birthday, Vicki Karadjova discovered that it was like being on another planet. The couple stayed in Airbnb’s Leeds Cabin, which was recently restored and comes equipped with a cowboy tub. “The town of Joshua Tree is quite small, and there is not much to do there but relax,” Karadjova says. “Many of the buildings and homes are left crumbling, but there is a beauty in what many find ugly.” Over the course of two days they hiked, encountered the seven-stories-tall Giant Rock and joined a 40-minute group meditation at The Integratron, 20 miles north of Joshua Tree. There, they took part in a Sound Bath “led by a woman playing large crystal bowls—definitely a surreal experience,” Karadjova adds.

Another way of life in Tanzania

“I lived in Tanzania when I was little for two years,” says Mariam Naficy, founder and CEO of Minted, the online design hub. “I have fond memories of being there, and wanted to show my children a different part of the world.” Naficy, her husband, Michael Mader, Minted’s vice president of analytics, and their two children, Alex and Sabine, spent four weeks in the East African country, partly with the Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO). “It is an organization that works to help make Maasai women socially and economically independent,” she explains. “We visited the girl’s school and donated, set up and taught them how to use their first computers.” While visiting the Wahadzabe tribe in the Lake Eyasi region, the family spent a night on cots underneath mosquito netting. “This tribe has been living the same way for 85,000 years, which is pretty amazing,” she says. And on safari in the Serengeti, a lion chased a wildebeest into the kitchen tent of their camp during a wildebeest migration. Naficy recalls, “to see this chase up close was quite incredible.”

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

Sobia Shaikh and her husband, Nadir, have an annual July tradition of enjoying a mini-vacation in New York before dropping off daughter Lyali at a performing arts camp nearby. “We normally stay at the St. Regis, which is my favorite hotel in New York, but this year we stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Central Park. My favorite thing about it is its proximity to Bergdorf,” Shaikh says. “My husband surprised us with tickets to Dear Evan Hansen, which won six Tony Awards this year, including Best Musical.” Afterward, the trio shared an Italian meal at Il Gattopardo and indulged in Magnolia Bakery’s famous cupcakes. The stylish Shaikh spent a day browsing the racks at Net-a-Porter, Barneys and Fivestory, “a very chic boutique on the Upper East Side,” she says, before meeting her friend jewelry designer Mia Levitt at Sant Ambroeus in the West Village. Rosé, of course, was on the menu.

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