Alexandra D. Foster is the owner of a handmade silk pillow company that includes travel-inspired designs. She shares her experiences in Marrakech, Rome, Venice, and St.Tropez. You can also follow her travel adventures at Destinations Perfected.
HOW DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH TRAVELING?
When I was 16 years old, my best friend who I grew up with in Boston took me to her family home in Connemara. This is in Ireland, outside Galway. It was the first time I had been abroad, an experience that was both a shock to the system and completely exhilarating at the same time. I haven’t stopped traveling since.
HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
It was actually by the pool at the Hotel Il Pellicano on the Tuscan coast that I decided to quit my job and start my own luxury handmade pillow company. Now each and every pillow that I design is inspired by a place in the world I have traveled to. My inspirations have included the patterned dome of a church on the iconic Amalfi coastline and a beautiful wrought iron gate found on the Left Bank in Paris.
Travel directly influences my work as each of my pillow designs are inspired by a place in the world I have visited. I am also the author of a luxury travel blog called Destinations Perfected. So in order to have new content I have to keep traveling.
WHAT KIND OF TRAVELER ARE YOU
My hostel days are over! I am definitely a luxury traveler, so 4-star or 5-star hotels, without a doubt. However, when it comes to food I much prefer eating in a tiny restaurant where a local is cooking in the kitchen as opposed to a Michelin-star restaurant. Authenticity over pretension.
WHAT’S YOUR TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY?
Be open for whatever comes your way and don’t be afraid to veer off a planned itinerary. Interact as much as you can with the local people. Embrace and immerse yourself in the diversity.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR NEXT DESTINATION?
I read a lot to discover new places—from magazines to newspapers and travel blogs; then I add them to a running list of must-visit locations. If a friend returns from a trip absolutely raving about the destination, then I will add that to the list as well.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL ACTIVITIES?
Eating! I love experiencing new cuisines and regional food specialties; it tells you a lot about the culture. A good dose of shopping is always high on my list as I really like buying special pieces that you would not find at home—be it artwork or clothing. If the hotel has a spa, a massage after a long day of sightseeing is definitely an indulgence.
WHICH CITY IS MOST MEMORABLE FOR YOU?
I remember the first time I went to Venice, Italy. I was completely blown away by the fact that it was entirely constructed using a series of small bridges. I still think it is one of the most unique cities in the world. I studied at the University of Padova, so almost every weekend I would take the train 20 minutes to Venice and just wander. There’s nothing like Venice in the dead of winter when you can hear your own footsteps.
DESCRIBE ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES IN THE WORLD
St. Tropez in the off season before the maddening crowds get there is pure heaven. You can eat your breakfast in the morning sunshine at one of the cafes on the port, then browse the local market in town, and then drive to one of the beach clubs for lunch. I can’t get enough of the local tarte tropezienne, an indulgent cake made with thick cream sandwiched by two brioche and sprinkled with rock sugar on top.
Marrakech. I was blown away by the patterns, designs, hotel interiors, level of craftsmanship, sights, sounds and smells. It is hands down the most inspiring city I have ever been to and truly engages all of your senses.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO BACK TO AGAIN AND AGAIN?
I’m half Italian so call me biased, but Italy is the one country not lacking in any of my travel requirements: gorgeous landscapes, beautiful coastlines, delicious food that varies from region to region, inspiring fashion and design, and of course, the warm people and their ability to embrace the dolce far niente lifestyle.
TELL US ABOUT A TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT BLEW YOUR MIND AWAY
It’s either running out in the dead of winter in a snowstorm wearing nothing but a swimsuit and jumping into the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, or waking up at 4 AM to witness the famous fish auction at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo followed by a 7 AM breakfast consisting of the freshest sushi I have ever eaten.
WHERE WOULD YOU GO IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW?
Boston. It is where I was born and raised and where all of my family live. I would eat my Italian mother’s delicious home-cooked food and sit in the sunshine on Boston Harbor.