For Isabel Arguello and Alfredo Pellas, opening an art gallery on Newbury Street was a dream come true. The couple — who are getting married in Newport, R.I., this spring — opened the Pellas Gallery in November 2019. Even with setbacks due to COVID, it has grown steadily by showcasing works of local and international artists, including a showing (through Feb. 21) of the works of renowned fine arts photographer Barbara Cole, who is known for underwater photographs that explore the nature of transformation. The contemporary art gallery will also be hosting an NFT (non-fungible token, which can be used to sell digital art) show in Boston next month. Arguello and Pellas said they are excited that the NFT show, which kicks off Feb. 24, will be curated by NessGraphics, one of the world’s top digital NFT artists. Arguello and Pellas are not only art enthusiasts but world travelers. Arguello, 27, was born in Costa Rica and raised in Nicaragua. She came to Boston to attend Northeastern University, did a study abroad program in South Africa, then received a master’s degree in holistic medicine. Pellas, 26, is from Nicaragua but went to high school in Switzerland before coming to the States to study finance and art history at Boston College and then earn a master’s in management from Boston University. We caught up with the couple, who live in Boston with their puppy Loki, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination?
Pellas: Fonteverde in Italy. It’s a spa retreat in Tuscany near incredible vineyards where there is amazing wine everywhere. It’s near a small, quaint town of about 2,000 people and one of the best wine regions in the world. It’s just so intimate [that] you can walk around in your robe. There are a ton of wellness treatments and it’s probably been our most romantic getaway.
Arguello: Cape Town, South Africa. I studied at Northeastern and did a semester abroad in Cape Town. It was for about four months, but I loved it so much that I decided to stay there for a year. South Africa has everything you would want: amazing people, food, beaches, vineyards, nature, animals. . . . I think we will be there this year, so I’m looking forward to that.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing?
Pellas: That entirely depends on where I’m visiting. I love to try the local food.
Arguello: I’m a major foodie when it comes to anything local — particularly exotic local fruits and vegetables. I like to try everything. Food is an unspoken language that tells you so much about each culture.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?
Pellas: Japan is definitely number one on my travel list. I am obsessed with the culture. Also, many of my favorite artists whose work I collect — including Aya Takano and Tomokazo Matsuyama — are Japanese and I would really love to visit them in their home country. I am also a fan of anime. I want to go to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, the island of Okinawa — where people supposedly live the longest anywhere on earth — and learn about their culture and habits.
Arguello: Top of my list is Japan. But I want to make time for a long vacation where I can visit the different islands and the different cities — the big developed ones but also the small villages. I really want to immerse myself in the culture.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?
Pellas: My AirPods. I go to sleep every night listening to an audiobook, and audiobooks are also my key entertainment for the flights; I rarely ever watch movies or TV when traveling.
Arguello: I never travel without my yoga mat. No matter where I am in the world, I try to find time and space to ground myself and go inside so that I don’t get lost in the day-to-day hustle. Alongside that, I always have a book — or several — with me.
Aisle or window?
Pellas: Aisle, in case I have to go to the bathroom. I hate asking the person next to me to get up so I can use the restroom.
Arguello: Window all the time. Being by the window makes me feel cozy and I get to have my little space on the plane. I can curl up and read and if I fall asleep, no one has to wake me up to go to the bathroom. And most importantly, the views. The best seat to see lighted-up cities — which is one of the reasons why I like to travel at night. Those 10 minutes before landing are my favorite.
Favorite childhood travel memory?
Pellas: My first father-and-son trip, to Africa on a safari. Growing up, I didn’t see my father too much because of his work, and then I decided I wanted to go to boarding school in Switzerland when I was 15. But he would always take me on father-son trips during the summer — and sometimes at Thanksgiving, when we would usually go to Hungary. That meant the world to me and he is the man I admire most. I couldn’t ask for a better father. In raising kids, I think it’s definitely quality over quantity regarding time spent. My second favorite memory is when I was in high school and my mom and I spent a week together in Paris. We went out dancing, exploring, and just laughed so much. It was pure joy. … She is an incredible woman. That is one of my most cherished memories.
Arguello: Going with my brother, Fernando, to visit my grandparents. We went three times a year and we would go to the jungles and beaches in Costa Rica. It was always an adventure. We would see all of our cousins — and we were super naughty with our grandparents.
Guilty pleasure when traveling?
Pellas: Eating and drinking whatever and however much I want. All healthy habits and diets are thrown out the window. We travel a lot, so this is probably not sustainable for the long term, but food is an important part of getting to know each culture.
Arguello: Wandering off alone with no map or timeline. You will find me trying to talk to locals — even if we don’t speak the same language — and have them guide me anywhere I want to go. Also something I always do is go to a local supermarket. It is so interesting to me to see the different products and I get to learn so much about each country. I went to the supermarket in Cuba, and that is a scene to see.
Best travel tip?
Pellas: Have your travel agent — or you — arrange for a private car to pick you up from the airport. It’s a simple thing, but takes a lot of stress away and gives you peace of mind when you land. And another tip: If traveling somewhere where you don’t speak the language, having a friend or friend of a friend there to show you around and give you recommendations will completely change your experience. It will allow for a much more authentic and memorable experience.
Arguello: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Also, I like to arrive at night at my destinations so that I can sleep when I get there and then wake up refreshed and not jet lagged.