Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sentiment of the Day

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese 

Oak Island Resort - Nova Scotia, Canada

Monday, August 27, 2012

These shoes were made for walking...

I had a Skype date with my friend Elise last week and she warned me that it's been pretty chilly in England and that layers and closed-toe shoes (read: no flip-flops) would be key to my travel wardrobe. She insisted that TOMS shoes would be the perfect footwear for my upcoming Europe trip. I needed something sturdy, yet stylish that I could wear for full days of sightseeing by foot around London, Paris and Edinburgh. My needs were very specific: nothing with a heel, a low price (must leave money for fine cheeses and champagne in Paris!) and comfortable enough to last me all day with no blisters (the bane of every traveler's existence).

For months now, I've been eyeing TOMS shoes. Sebastian has been very vocal in advising me that this alpargata style has been "cool in South America for ages," and that we Americans are slow to catch on. However, I must say that the brand's philosophy truly is inspirational and what was really what caught my eye earlier this year: it was founded on the premise that for every pair that you buy, the brand will give a pair to a child in need.

After hanging up with Elise, I ventured out to a local shoe store that's an official retailer and bought myself a pair of the canvas classics in the color "ash." And apparently I also bought a new pair for a child who needs them much more than I do.

Cute, comfy AND philanthropical? Sold. But now I have my eye on the sparkly ones...

Do you own a pair? What are your go-to travel shoes?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sentiment of the Day

“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” 
– Freya Stark

The Brewster Inn - Cazenovia, NY

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Three days in the ATL

A recent business trip took me to Atlanta for the first time. What a charming city! I was not used to driving in a major city - heck, let's be honest, I'm not used to driving at all. As a New Yorker, I think I've driven once or twice a year for the past 5-10 years. But, I obtained my rental car at the airport Hertz, fired up my GPS and took off for downtown Atlanta. At 11pm. In the pitch black. With a GPS that just couldn't navigate the downtown streets.

After a few wrong turns and deep breaths, I made it to the lovely Residence Inn by Marriott Atlanta Downtown. Over the course of my three days in Hotlanta (there's certainly a reason for this nickname!), I visited a few other neighborhoods: Midtown, Buckhead, Virginia Highlands and Inman Park.

View from my room at the Residence Inn Atlanta Downtown

Thursday night, after a several great meetings during the day with local writers, I met up with an old friend who now resides in Atlanta with her fiance. She met me at the hotel and we drove to gorgeous Buckhead for manicures at Sugarcoat, which was one of the nicest nail salons I've ever been to, followed by some delicious sushi at Taka. On the way home, she drove me through some back roads of Buckhead to check out the sprawling mansions scattered along the area's quiet, tree-lined streets.

Friday was a fun-filled day with a group of local bloggers and journalists. We took an Atlanta Culinary Tour, where we got tastings at various Inman Park restaurants. I think my favorite stop on the food tour was a stunning historic local spot, Parish Foods & Goods, where we sampled several desserts, including a to-die-for banana-bread bread pudding.

Upstairs dining area at Parish Foods & Goods

Next, we got pedicures at Sugarcoat's other location in Virginia Highlands - just as lovely as the Buckhead location, with sleek white seating and girly accents. 

Sugarcoat in Virginia Highlands
Finally, we had dinner at Wisteria, where I enjoyed a salad comprised of grilled Georgia peaches and blue cheese. Yum!

Saturday included breakfast at the hotel followed by fond farewells and an eventual flight home, after a long seven and a half hours at the ATL airport due to storms in New York. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Travel necessities

My plans for my days off include some preparations for my upcoming travels: buying great walking shoes for Europe (I'm thinking about a pair of Toms Shoes - so many people swear by them!), seeking out wedge sandals for a country wedding in upstate New York this weekend and getting new pages added for my passport. I counted the pages left last night and I'm not quite sure if there are enough left for my next couple of international trips - especially with a multi-country European jaunt approaching. Anyone have experience with getting extra pages added in? I don't want to get a new passport, as I have a few visas in my current one that don't expire for another five years. 

Travel Inspiration: Paris, Part 2

Monday, August 13, 2012

Travel inspiration: Paris

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A very good friend just returned from her honeymoon in Europe and mentioned how romantic Paris was, just strolling the streets. Sebastian and I hope to take one cultural day trip to Versailles; however, since we've both been to Paris before, most of our plans for the City of Lights revolve around meandering new neighborhoods, afternoon picnics and sipping champagne (preferably, Laurent-Perrier's Cuvee Rose Brut). Any must-see's that I should know about from your own Paris adventures?


Saturday, August 4, 2012

A perfect picnic

After several summers of "we should spend more time in Central Park" conversations, Sebastian and I are finally sticking to our word and spending relaxing Saturday afternoons in the park. We've mastered the art of the picnic, bringing great food, things to do and the essential supplies to kill four or more hours in New York City's answer to the countryside. Since we don't have a car, this is the best way to "get out of the city" for an afternoon.

Our picnic must-have items include:
-Blanket(s) to spread out
-Some great eats like homemade pasta salad (whole wheat pasta, tomatoes, basil, feta cheese, oil/vinegar) and fresh fruit
-Kindle loaded with a great book (just read The Newlyweds and loved it)
-Playing cards (Sebastian recently introduced me to Spanish cards and the challenging game, Truco)
-Sunscreen (preferably SPF 50, as I get burned in 5 minutes)
-A soccer ball and/or frisbee to entertain the 32-year-old child I picnic with
-Terere (a Paraguayan iced-tea beverage that will soon get its own blog post)

What do you bring on your picnics?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Travel inspiration: London

I spent most of my Sunday watching the Olympics and it made me really excited for my upcoming Europe vacation that includes several nights in England. This will be my fourth trip to London and I'm excited to experience some new things, including my first Premier League soccer game. Sebastian is currently trying to convince me to ride the London Eye with him, but I'm not yet convinced. Shopping at Harrods and strolling through the Tate Modern? Absolutely. The tallest Ferris wheel in Europe? Not so sure.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Paraguayan asado

Barbecuing in Paraguay is a real art. Celebrating a friend's birthday? A religious holiday? Just a regular Friday night? All are perfect excuses for an "asado" (barbecue). A typical Paraguayan asado consists of "chorizo" (sausage), "mandioca" (yuca), salads, sopa Paraguaya (similar to cornbread), and really, really good meat. I also highly recommend the relatively recent asado addition, "chorizo con queso," a sausage filled with salty, melted white cheese. As appetizers, hosts will arrange a "picada," where chorizo and mandioca are cut up into bite-size pieces and guests use toothpicks to pop them in their mouths.

Sebastian and Marcelo putting the chorizo on the grill
Other interesting "delicacies" if you're adventurous consist of "molleja" (cow's cheek), "morcilla" (blood sausage), "corazoncitos de pollo" (chicken hearts - which I actually tried, unknowingly!) or "chinchulin" (small intestines of a cow).

Chorizos on the charcoal grill

The meat is all cooked on a large "parrilla" (charcoal grill) in the host's backyard. Practically every house in Paraguay boasts one of these enormous grills and a patio with a long communal table, just beyond. While the salads and side dishes round out the meal, don't be fooled - the real star of the show is the meat.

Asado at Camilo and Pilu's house

And don't forget a good bottle of Malbec from neighboring Argentina or an ice-cold Paraguayan Pilsen beer - the Paraguayans may know meat, but don't expect a great bottle of domestic wine.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travel inspiration: Edinburgh

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Counting down to my trip to Europe this summer! It's been two years since I've been across the Atlantic - two years too long. While I'm looking forward to visiting my best friend in England and strolling the streets of Paris with my love, the city I'm most curious about exploring is Edinburgh, Scotland. Anyone have any recommendations for Scotland? I have a few stops planned out, but would love some first-person suggestions!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July

This year, my Independence Day included sleeping in, an afternoon trip out east to Long Island, an ice-cold beer, and watching the fireworks (albeit, on TV, in an air-conditioned apartment). All in all, a pretty standard and fabulous 4th of July. I just can't believe the summer is halfway over! I haven't gotten in enough beach time yet. But with upcoming trips planned to the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore, I'm sure I'll have had my fair share of UV ray exposure come Labor Day.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Island paradise: Turks & Caicos

A recent public relations press trip took me to Turks & Caicos - my first time in this gorgeous island nation, located just southeast of The Bahamas. I stayed on Providenciales, at The Somerset on Grace Bay, an all-suite hotel located directly on Grace Bay Beach, which is considered one of the top 10 beaches in the world.

And it's easy to see why! On our first night, we were welcomed with The Somerset's weekly Beach BBQ. The party included a buffet featuring chicken, ribs, salads and desert - and tables were set up down on the white sand.

There was even a bonfire, rum bar and a DJ that encouraged everyone to get up and dance after dinner!

I tried to squeeze in a bit of exercise on my trip - rotating between The Somerset's gym, snorkling down the beach, and swimming laps in the pool. It really was a pretty active beach vacation; we spent our afternoons enjoying the resort's water sports - ocean paddle-boarding, kayaking, sailing, and more. The ocean was so calm, perfect for all of the little kids splashing around in the clear turquoise water.

We also explored Provo, visiting Da Conch Shack for some cracked conch and conch salad (my favorite), the world's only conch farm, and the island's cultural center for an overview of the destination's history.

And my suite? All I can say is that the kitchen was bigger than my entire New York City apartment. The accommodations start at a sprawling 1,400 square feet - HUGE!

I must get back to Turks & Caicos soon. It would be great for a weekend getaway, with such short, direct flights from New York. Forget the east coast beaches, I want to relax on Grace Bay Beach.

Past, present and future travels

What a whirlwind few months! I've had some amazing travel experiences thanks to some interesting business trips. I've visited the world's only conch farm in the world in Turks & Caicos, had my makeup done (including false lashes!) at Gee Beauty at the Bal Harbour Shops, learned how to make my own aromatherapeutic bath salts at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island and took a food tour around Pike Place Market (home of the original Starbucks!) in Seattle. Details on each of these adventures to come.

The next stops on my travel agenda:
  • Atlanta
  • London, England
  • Paris, France
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

... any recommendations for these cities?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Inspiration

How did I not know about Polyvore until tonight? It's such a fun fashion site where you can create inspiration boards pulling in images of various styles and trends across the web. According to the site, they get 10 million monthly unique visitors - so apparently I'm a bit late to the game.

My New Year's Eve was a quiet gathering in a friend's apartment, complete with gourmet appetizers, a few touches of sparkles and a champagne toast at midnight.

As we close the chapter of 2011, the things that stand out most in my memories are the celebrations and special quiet moments I had with family and friends, near and far. My new year's resolutions include taking more time to write, mastering the Spanish language and increasing my yoga practice.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2012!

New Year's Inspiration

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sunshine State

Business travels took me to Florida this fall and Sebastian was able to find a cheap Delta flight ($159 round-trip, can you believe it?) and join me for the weekend. We stayed in chic Bal Harbour - first, at the historic Sea View Hotel and next at the five-star ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa. Both lovely with their own charms! I'd stayed at ONE previously, but this was my first time at the Sea View.

Our first night, I enjoyed a great lychee martini at Makoto, Stephen Starr's new Japanese restaurant at the Bal Harbour Shops before sitting down to a late dinner at Carpaccio with Sebastian's friends from Paraguay who were staying in Miami for the weekend. The next day, we woke up early to head to South Beach. We spent the morning walking around Lincoln Road and then relaxed at the beach for a few hours, until Sebastian was stung by a swarm of jellyfish - poor guy.

All in all, it was a great weekend...

 Drinks at Makoto

Dinner with Tony and Nadhia at Carpaccio

 View from our room at ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa 

 Soaking tub at ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa

South Beach

 Lunch at Mister Collins

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sentiment of the Day

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” – Ernest Hemingway

Traveling with someone can certainly test a relationship. From sharing a cramped hostel room in Rome, Italy with five study abroad friends during college to lounging at a luxury all-inclusive resort in Cozumel, Mexico - I've sought out compatible travel companions along the way who share my sense of adventure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Flashback: SCRUBS in The Bahamas!

As a travel publicist, I've had some incredible business trips, from Bal Harbour, Florida to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Among some of the surreal experiences: working the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando (a blog post for another time); working in the media center for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada (another upcoming blog post); staffing a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot in Banff, Canada; and hosting the cast of Scrubs in The Islands of The Bahamas. Tough job, but somebody's gotta do it, right?

One of my first exciting business travels was to the gorgeous Out Islands of The Bahamas. I helped coordinate the logistics for a week-long television shoot throughout Hope Town, a quaint village that's part of the Abaco Islands. Around 100 cast and crew members flew a charter flight from LA to Abaco and the TV shoot resulted in two great episodes featuring a destination wedding and plenty of ice-cold Bahama Mamas. Behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot is posted on YouTube:

The following are some photo highlights of our week with the super-friendly cast and crew:

And my very favorite:

Monday, December 5, 2011

My most memorable meal

It wasn't that the food was better than I've ever tasted (although it was right up there). It was about the atmosphere. This meal with Sebastian lasted about two leisurely hours, on our own private balcony in San Telmo, overlooking Dorrego Square - with faint tango music audible in the background. The sun was shining (resulting in pink shoulders after lunch) as we sipped sparkling water and chilled white wine. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought us two complimentary shots of limoncello. We savored the sweet liquor then pried ourselves away from our balcony, late for an afternoon appointment.

Sadly, our camera had died and I wasn't able to document the meal. If you find yourselves in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I highly recommend a meal at Amici Miei. Apparently, I'm not the only one who loved a meal there - it's ranked #3 out of 820 restaurants in Buenos Aires on TripAdvisor!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sentiment of the Day

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” -Kerouac