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?