City Guide: New York City

Ciao, friends. It’s been a few months. A lot has happened. I got engaged. I changed jobs. I started taking French classes (again). I traveled to some new places: Morocco, Cuba, Sedona, to name a few and even took a solo trip to Paris. What brought me back to type up this post? You guys! Well actually, a bit of laziness brought me back + you guys.

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If I had to guess, I receive 2-4 texts each month with friends, family or friends of family or family of friends who are asking for recommendations of what to do in NYC. Where to stay. Where to eat. What to do. Here’s a list of my favorites, a mix of the old and the new. The classic NYC can’t misses and the new & trendy. So instead of texting it out for the umpteenth time, here we are:

WHERE TO STAY

Best for highrollers

The Plaza Hotel || Need I say more? Live like Eloise. Walk through the revolving doors and find yourself in a little slice of NYC heaven. Enjoy a glass of champagne at the Champagne Bar. Tip: If you can’t afford an Eloise lifestyle, dip downstairs to the Plaza Food Hall to discover NYC staples like Luke’s Lobster, and my favorite black and white cookies in the entire city from William Greenberg‘s.

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Best for seeing the sites

The Freehand Hotel || It doesn’t get trendier or cozier than this. The Freehand made it’s big debut in the city last year and has been a favorite of travelers and locals alike ever since opening its’ doors. Enjoy the lounge area and the midtown location, in close proximity to the lights of Broadway. Bert and I stayed at the Freehand in Miami and love the hostel concept and how the hotel aims to bring travelers together through communal spaces.

Best if you want to feel like a real New Yawk-er

The Hoxton Hotel || Retreat from the hustle & bustle of the city and stay in the newly opened Hoxton Hotel across the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sleek and sexy, this hotel brand made waves in London, Amsterdam and Paris before opening their first location in the U.S. in Williamsburg.

WHERE TO EAT

How to choose? There are too many life changing restaurants in this city. My rule? You can’t leave NYC without trying the below cuisines. Pick at least 3 from this list to leave feeling like you tackled the NYC food scene. When all else fails, go to Smorgasburg, The Plaza Food Hall, Dekalb Food Hall, or Canal Street Market to have a variety at your fingertips.

Bagels

Ess-a-bagel || A true NYC bagel that’s guaranteed to be larger than your head.

Russ & Daughters || Top off your bagel with a large selection of cured and dried fish.

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Frankel’s || Yummy Brooklyn bagel sandwiches with a Jewish deli feel.

Italian

Il Buco || They have Iberco Ham! And delicious pasta dishes. Have never been disappointed here.

Spaghetti Incident || Bert and I used to live above this spot. Homemade pasta, with most dishes coming in right around $10.

Arthur Ave. || See “What to Do”

Lilia || Please order the Squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese, aperol spritz’ and anything with truffle.

Pasquale Jones || I saw Jay-Z here!!!! …And the food is very good…

Noodles (Pho/Chinese/Ramen)

King’s Co Imperial || These are the best American soup dumplings you will ever find. Great alternative to trekking out to Queens but probably takes as long when you account the wait time that is typically 1-2 hours. Worth it. Order the soup dumplings, green beans, and any noodle dish.

Pho Grand || My heart will always be with the pho shops in Chinatown. I have tried them all. I keep coming back for the vegetarian pho at this haunt.

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Mu Ramen || 15-seat cash only ramen spot in Long Island City. The ramen here is the best in the city and will take your breath away.

Bad & Bougie

The Odeon || An NYC staple. Transport yourself to a French bistro that feels equal parts French and NYC. A neighborhood favorite.

Loring Place || Chef Danny Kluger’s restaurant. The food amazes. The ambiance is sophisticated. You will leave happy.

The Polo Bar || A place to see and be seen. The food is fine. You’re really going for the fancy matchbook and the oil paintings of horses. And the close-to-guaranteed celebrity spotting.

The NoMad Hotel || Dark and intimate. Recommend going here on a rainy night. Something about it just feels right. Order the truffle pasta.

Eleven Madison Park || It’s dinner and a show and it’s the #1 Restaurant in the World.

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Pizza

Paulie Gee’s || Another Greenpoint favorite. No wonder I love this hood! So many great restaurants. Try the hot honey sauce on your ‘za. We keep it stocked in our pantry.

Emmy Squared || Get anything with pepperoni. The yummiest, crunchiest, nickel-sized ‘roni is coming your way. Order the off the menu burger. You won’t regret it.

La Margherita || Our favorite slice shop in the Lower East Side. Best served after a night of dancing nearby.

WHAT TO DO 

Walk, walk, walk!

  • Central Park
  • High Line
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Along the brownstones of the Upper East Side
  • Through Williamsburg
  • Down 5th Avenue (especially during the holiday season)
  • Bryant Park
  • The quaint boutiques of the West Village or NoLita

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My favorite museums

  • The Frick || Hard to believe this used to be someone’s house. I love this museum because it was one of my grandpa’s childhood favorites. The permanent collection contains many of the same paintings he remembers through the eyes of his young self.
  • The Whitney || A very “doable” American modern art museum. You can tackle it in a few hours.
  • MoMa || The grand dame of modern art. You can spend all day here.
  • The Met Breuer ||The best part about this museum is the beautiful Flora Bar where you can enjoy a delicious glass of wine before or after enjoying the artwork.

Day trips

  • Take a trip to Queens for soup dumplings
  • Go to The Bronx and enjoy the real little Italy – after burn some calories at the NY Botanical Gardens
  • Coney Island and get tickets to the Sideshow

Other NYC musts

  • See a show – or two, or three!
  • Have a picnic in Central Park
  • Snag tickets to Shakespeare in the Park
  • Sit in a cafe and people watch
  • Window shop in SoHo

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Remember, the city is your playground. xC

City Guide: Jackson Hole

A Sunday morning coffee thought. I’ve met so many people through my travels and the motivators behind planning travel interest me: do you go back to the same place every year? do you pick a different destination to explore each trip? do you use a travel planner, or pour hours into researching a destination, or just book the trip and figure it out when you get there? I’m the kind of person that spends hours planning the trip – from setting flight alerts to areas on my travel bucket list, to picking restaurants, accommodations and mapping out a day-by-day itinerary. I put my heart and soul into my travels because I don’t think it’s guaranteed that I’ll be back and I want to get the most out of every destination. I do see the allure of arriving and figuring everything out, but to me that’s too risky. What kind of traveler are you?

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I recently went back to a destination that has a very special place in my heart. Little did I know when I planned this trip that my heart would be hurting due to a tragic death in my family – my Gramps passing away in his sleep. There is something incredibly soothing about visiting a place that means so much to you, it feels familiar, yet like it wants to challenge your senses. My Gramps accomplished in many areas, but one of his favorite things was nature photography, so being immersed in all the nature immediately after his passing felt like I was with him. He was on my mind the entire time.

Jackson Hole is the intersection of the wild west and Americana old school class and here are some of the highlights:

Stay:

Mountain Modern Motel – I helped open Mountain Modern Motel, a contemporary motel right off the main square in Jackson Hole. The accommodations are functional and minimalistic, with every modern convenience you could hope for. The rooms are equipped for your favorite Jackson activities, i.e. there is an area in your room to store your skis, hooks on the wall for your backpacks and a large sink to clean off your hiking boots. This is the perfect base-camp for your time in Jackson Hole.

Do:

Jackson Hole Shopping – Walk around the square and peek into the shops selling western novelties. I snagged a turquoise ring, plaid pajama shorts and some blackberry salt water taffy.

Via Ferrata – With Italian origins, this sport is exhilarating and an exciting change after days of hiking. You are harnessed via steel cords to the mountain and literally climb and scale the rock formations.

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Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park – Take a day and enjoy the beauty of my favorite national park. There is nothing like seeing the Grand Tetons on a clear day. I recommend taking a hike around Jenny Lake and then boating back to continue to your car and driving through Yellowstone National Park. You’re guaranteed to see wildlife – I got lucky and saw a moose!

Eat:

Cream + Sugar Ice CreamWe met the owner behind Cream + Sugar ice cream sandwiches. My favorite flavors were huckleberry and mint chocolate chip.

Snake River BreweryCan’t come out west without stopping at a place like this. Sit outside and enjoy the view of the mountains, with people sitting around fire pits and playing corn hole.

Lotus Organic CaféStop here for your fix of grain bowls, salads and noodle dishes. Get your perfect lunch Instagram here.

Persephone Bakery I couldn’t believe a place like this exists in Jackson! Enjoy your croissants, cappuccinos, and granola by the outdoor fire pit and snuggle up with the blankets they drape over chairs.

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Are there any places you can’t stay away from? xC

City Guides: San Francisco & Napa Valley

I’ve always known how important mother-daughter time is. It started at an early age when my mom would whisk me away on the Amtrak when I was growing up and take me to NYC. Adorned in pea coats and faux fur mugs, I remember the feeling of dominating the city – walking all over the streets, eating at all the best restaurants and seeing the seasons best Broadway shows. That tradition continued for a decade, and now we seem to have an unspoken rule of a yearly mother-daughter vacation. This year, that vacation was in California.

As someone with a transient soul, I was curious how I would feel about San Francisco after I had some time in another major metropolitan city under my belt. San Francisco is large, spread out and sophisticated. The first day started with a Philz Coffee Mojito and a lacing up my good walking shoes. Fine, my shoes didn’t have laces, I was wearing Soludos espadrilles, but you get the point – those hills will get you! My mom set off with coffee and map in hand to explore the different neighborhoods of San Francisco. We walked from Downtown, to Chinatown, to Nob Hill, to North Beach, to Presidio, all before lunchtime! My newfound “hack” is taking uber pools in cities you don’t know well because this allows you to see the city from the comfortable seat of car and gain a different vantage point. My mom and I stopped in Cha Cha Cha in Haight-Ashbury for sangria, small plates and people watching. During lunch it started to rain, so we decided to escape the rain at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. All the botanical gardens I’ve ever been in have been indoor, but of course, CA gave us a challenge and the flora and fauna were all outdoor. The gardens are beautiful and a great opportunity to experience the park – plus it’s free for California residents! After the walk we took an uber (pool of course!) to Union Square and managed to sneak in a shop at Nordstrom.

We met up with my cousin and his girlfriend for drinks at the Instagram-friendly, Leo’s Oyster Bar. I wish I could bundle this place up and take it back to NYC with me! It reminded me of Charleston meets the west coast. After a spicy margarita for me, and a lavender champagne drink for my mom we were off to dinner – a highlight of the trip.

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I found out about The Morris when I was searching through Resy. I like using Resy in unfamiliar cities, because it filters the restaurants that in my opinion, are more sought after. I narrowed down my list to a select group, and after further research, clicked “reserve” for our one dinner in San Francisco. Always an exhilarating click for a foodie. If you have one day in San Francisco, do not miss The Morris. The restaurant is located outside of the Mission district, and is the kind of place every corner restaurant wants to be. Homey, minimalistic and delicious. We started with foie gras dumplings, and avocado and crab toasts, before moving on an insanely delicious broccoli dish and their signature plate, duck with root vegetables. Not before ending with an espresso martini! One of my favorite features of the restaurant was the pay for what you drink concept. Only a restaurant that’s owned by a sommelier would offer such a thing. We ended up having a lovely conversation about the house wine with the somm, who we would only later figure out was a waiter. We give this place 11/10 stars!

We picked up a rental car and made our way through Sonoma to Napa Valley, but not before a failed attempt at the John Muir Redwood Forest. While we did see some redwoods, the parking lots at 10 a.m. were stuffed to the brim! Napa is only about an hour and a half outside of SF, and it is the most incredible getaway from the city. Now that I think about it, these getaways are cities’ partners in crime. San Fran has Napa, New York has the Catskills, DC has Annapolis or the Blue Ridge Mountains, etc. etc. Our first official stop was for brunch at Auberge du Soleil. The food and views were magnificent – every single dish that was place before us was impressive, and for dessert I had a peach that was in its’ perfect moment of ripeness and I don’t think I’ve ever had anything more delicious.

Then it was time to get down to wine tasting business, over the two day we visited the following wineries:

A few tips for wine tasting in Napa

  • There are free tastings, but most cost around $25. If you purchase a bottle, the tasting fee will be taken off your bottle.
  • Aside from the wine, what kind of experience are you looking for? Educational, a good place to relax, a tasting menu, outdoor/indoor, classic or trendy? There are so many vineyards that you can find multiple that fit your selection.
  • The drive vs uber debate. If you are contemplating whether to rent a car vs. uber, I liked doing tastings throughout the day that would probably amount to 1-2 glass es of wine and then drive in our rental back to the hotel to drink the bottle leisurely by the pool.
  • You won’t believe Napa Valley until you see it, wineries fill each side of the road for about a 20-mile stretch, so you will have plenty of opportunities to find your favorite vintages or be spontaneous.

Napa Valley in One Day

Do

  • Mud baths in Calistoga – crazy cool spa experience

Stay

  • El Bonita Motel – cutest Americana roadside motel that was our perfect base for wine tasting

Eat

  • Auberge du Soleil
  • Gott’s Roadside – The most delicious roadside diner offering burgers, fries, salads and shakes.

No matter how you slice it, Napa Valley has something for everyone. It is a magical slice of our country that will have you setting up flight alerts so that you can jump at an opportunity to come back. After all, all you need is one night in Napa to accomplish all the things listed above.

Paradise Perfected: Paris, Provence and Positano

Like what I did with the alliteration? In all seriousness, vacations don’t get better than this. A bucket list trip for me has been Provence and Positano, and of course, Paris is the cherry on top of any vacation and always a must when flying through Europe. I can smell it now, the windows of our Fiat rolled down, smells of lavender wafting through the air, the starchy salt of the Mediterranean on my bathing suit as I licked a gelato cone, and the thrill of standing on the bus, feeling as if I was on skis going around each tight corner of the Amalfi Coasts winding roads. Below is my itinerary for the pictorial summer vacation.

Here we go:

Day 1 – Read my post about a perfect day in Paris here. Get ready for Eating, Blisters, More Eating, and Loving Paris more than you thought was possible.

Day 2 – Take the early TGV from Gare du Lyon to Avignon. From the train station, there are car rental offices nearby where you will pick up your (likely tiny) vessel and set off to the one of the most beautiful destinations. Re-acclimate yourself with stick shift as you find your way to your first Provencal town of Gordes. This Roman city is guaranteed to take your breath away. It’s most likely lunchtime, so wander and find La Trinquette. A bowl of local olives will hold you over until you can order the most heavenly lunch you’ve had in a while. Make sure to order wine with your lunch – they’re all local!  When you’re finished, I recommend shopping in the town and picking up souvenirs such as straw bags, olive wood cutting boards and lavender essential oils. Time to get back on the road. As you make your way through the tree lined streets, driving through quaint Provençal towns, something starts to change. The straw fields of gold turn into lavender and sunflower fields. All the goosebumps. Before heading on to the hotel, stop at Abysses de Gordon to have a reality check of where you are. Continue on your way (about an hour drive) before checking in to Relais & Chateaux, Le Couvent des Minimes. Revel in the beautiful lobby before heading down to the pool surrounded by Hermes orange umbrellas. Slim Aarons, is that you? Dinner is available at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Cloitre or their more-casual, but equally amazing, Le Pesquier Bistro. Get the Bandol rosé. You’re welcome. Enjoy your night under the stars and on terracotta rooftops.

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Day 3 – After having an espresso on your porch, and one last dip in the pool, it’s time to hop back in that Fiat and continue onwards (not before taking a photo in the property’s sunflower or lavender fields!) Stop in town and pick up items for a road trip snack. Drive about 1.5 hours through lavender heaven in the Luberon to Gorges du Verdon and prepare your senses to be delighted. The water is the most piercing, yet rich turquoise you’ve ever seen – guaranteed. You have time to either drive to a vantage point to look down on the gorges, or to take a dip in the water, rent a paddleboard or kayak. Bert and I opted to take a dip. If you haven’t caught on quite yet, the French really know how to live. Get back in the car and make your way to the French Riviera: Nice! We arrived to Nice in the early evening, dropped our bags at a hotel that was perfect for our purposes — clean, cheap and convenient to downtown and the airport. I took B to the ocean, showed him around the Old City and then stopped for moules et frites and some house red wine. Tomorrow it’s time for a new adventure.

Day 4 – It’s time for pasta, pizza and aperol spritzes: Take an early flight from Nice to Naples, Italy. If you have a lot of luggage, pre-arrange a car service before arriving to Naples – the taxi lines are quite long and the drivers make up a price on the spot. There is also the option to take a bus to a ferry, but since Bert had his entire suitcase from his month in Rome, we opted for a car service. We chose to stay in Positano because of our accommodations at the lovely bed & Montepertuso, Cole dell’ara. Cole dell’ara is actually the hilltop town above Positano, called Montepertuso. It is a lovely B&B run by Italian brothers Giacomo, Marco, and Pasquale with views so incredible you will need your travel companion to pinch you. Take in the incredible views of the city while drinking an aperol spritz and playing with the many cats that live on property. We were quite happy to coincidentally find that some of the cities highest-reviewed restaurants were in Montepertuso, just a quick walk from our accommodations. Tonight, dine at La Terra, a rustic family-owned restaurant with views that rival the hotels.

Day 5 – Hope you’re hydrated! Today is about to be a trip highlight. If you don’t speak perfect Italian, and don’t have connections, don’t even bother trying to call Da Adolfo. Instead wake up early(ish), throw on your sexiest Italian swimsuit and head down to the port. You are looking for a boat with a red fish. Tell the driver you don’t have a reservation. He will tell you they have no chairs. You say that’s ok. If you plan ahead (unlike us) bring towels for the rocky beach with hot stones, if you forget, don’t worry – you’ll be just fine. Da Adolfo is something you just must experience – run by tan, leathery skinned, attractive Italian men, Da Adolfo is something you will remember the rest of your life. This is the beach club of all beach clubs. Get a bottle of crisp wine, an ice bucket, and a reservation for the second seating at lunch (there are only two settings, and those with chairs aka that made a reservation in Italian, have the first seating). Enjoy jumping off cliffs into the clear turquoise waters before sitting at lunch (and getting attitude that you oddly enjoy) from the waiters. Order everything. They specialize in fresh grilled seafood. It’s hard to describe the experience here, but it’s basically like being at the best fraternity party of your life, but replace the men with sassy tanned Italians, the kegs with aperol spritz and painted-pottery carafes of wine. The crowd will make you feel like you’re in the Hamptons. Get to know the neighboring table, and pretty soon you’ll be a bottle of wine deep with them.

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Day 6 – Today is all about Italian cooking. After enjoying the breakfast spread of fresh fruits, lemon and plum cakes, hard boiled eggs, and the most delectable bruschetta, sign up for the foraging class at Cole dell’ara. The first half of the day you will spend with the eldest son, walking around Montepertuso and learning the history of what ingredients are indigenous to the region and the art of Slow Food. After gathering arugula (rocket, for the rest of the world) from the sidewalk, pumpkin flowers from a vine near the handrail, and fennel from the ground – make your way back to the B&B where you make a meal with all the ingredients you just foraged – and trust me there are a lot. I discovered my favorite Italian delicacy on this day – more than gelato – drumroll please…. mozzarella broiled on top of a lemon leaf. Never have I had a more delectable flavor grace my tongue. We also learned how to make orecchiette pasta, a vegetable quiche, apricot preserves and a fresh tomato salad, all from ingredients that we foraged during our hike. That evening we went down to the beaches in Positano and took a well-deserved nap on the pebbles.

If you’re hungry, back on top of the mountain, treat yourself to a family-style dinner, at La Tagliata. This two-storied restaurant is a crowd pleaser. Each person gets their own bottle of wine (unlimited) followed by never ending plates of appetizers, pastas and meats, all for 30 euros per person. A steal and so delicious.

Day 7 – Enjoy soaking up the sun at another popular Positano Beach Club – Bagni d’Arienzo. You know the drill now, you take a boat from the main port in Positano, and spend all day soaking up the sun and swimming in the ocean. This beach club is more family friendly and all around more mellow. It’s lovely.

 

Day 8 – This day was a toss-up for us – take an expensive ferry to Capri or explore the rest of the popular seaside towns via ferry. We heard mixed reviews about Capri in its peak season and while people raved about the beauty – they prepared us to be ready for lines. It was the end of the trip, and we were running out of $$$, so we decided to explore the other seaside towns. Side note: the ferry to Capri was approximately 60 euro RT, whereas our transportation to the seaside towns in total was about 30 euro. We took the high-speed ferry to Amalfi. Amalfi is a small town – quite touristy but incredibly charming. You can walk the entire city square in about 20 minutes. Buy your hand-painted pottery and limoncello here. Our favorite seaside town, was quiet hilltop Ravello. This medieval town has winding streets that are asking to be explored. Ravello boasts big inviting piazzas intersected by store-lined side streets. It has its own magic. If we had more time, I would’ve visited Portofino and Capri, but I guess I’ll just need to come back. The entire coast feels like make-believe, a beautiful dream. It’s time to make your way to Naples for your morning flight.

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I didn’t know cities like Naples existed in Italy. To be honest, the only thing I appreciated about it was the pizza – other than that, it’s dirty, a bit rough, and a bit seedy, but the pizza is worth the trip. Bert and I waited in line for Naples “best pizza”, established in 1870, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. There is guaranteed to be about 100 people in the street waiting in line for this pizza – pro tip: go in and order and your Neapolitan pizza will be ready in a few minutes. They only serve two kinds, classic margarita (basil, tomato sauce and mozzarella) and sauce pizza. The pies are only 5 euro and I recommend drinking a Peroni while waiting in line. After all, it’s your last night in Italy.

One Perfect Day in Paris

Fly into Paris, into CDG early in the morning and take the RER into the city. You are only in Paris one day, so make the most of it by splurging on a hotel that really makes you feel like you are in Paris. My boyfriend surprised me with a hotel view that screamed “you are in Paris” and it’s exactly what I wanted for my one Parisian sleep (check out Hôtel La Comtesse). I have written many posts about Paris, so please refer there for inspo on what to do. As for me? After dropping my bags at the hotel, I started the day walking around the cobblestoned streets of Montmartre. I had the streets virtually to myself except for the shopkeepers cleaning their windows, and lifting the grates to open for business. I made my way to a favorite café, Au Rêve to get a croissant, café and jus du orange. Made my way back into the center of town and guess what – I was already hungry again. Paris has that effect on you.

Up next it was time to visit a market and pick up goodies for lunch. Be sure to check out the markets in your neighborhood, as they are only open on certain days of the week. I filled my bag with mini strawberries, fresh goat and sheep’s cheeses, a baguette, olive mix and of course, some rosé. Then it’s time for the next tough decision, where to picnic? My top spot is Parc Montsouris, but for this trip I chose the Luxembourg Gardens. Bert and I laid out our picnic and drank our bottle of wine and had the loveliest day pretending to be Parisians over an extended lunch. Yes, it’s time to eat again.

FranceItaly2017-0471.jpgFranceItaly2017-0467.jpgFranceItaly2017-0439.jpgFranceItaly2017-0449.jpgBack to the hotel to quickly freshen up, drink a half bottle of rosé taking in the amazing hotel views and off to dinner. I had the hardest time choosing where we would eat, but ultimately decided to dine outdoors at the Clown Bar – a bar where clowns used to eat after the circus (and the decorations prove it!) We had the most wonderful meal including beet salad, a rare cured meat, and duck foie gras. Heaven. While we were dining outside, Ilana Glazer from Broad City asked to be seated and was turned away – hey girl, see you in Brooklyn! Then you’re off to Île de la Cité for a cone from the world’s best ice cream shop, Bertillon and a walk to burn it all off along the Seine past the Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsay and all the famed bridges. Get home with just enough time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle and fall in love all over again with Paris.

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Nashville City Guide

In life, we don’t take enough spontaneous trips. I’m not talking getting in your car, or in my case subway, and going to a new neighborhood and eating brunch; I’m talking buying a last minute ticket and flying somewhere. I’ve been guilty of this too, until last weekend when I surprised my mom and flew to meet her in Nashville, where she was putting on a conference.

EAT

Pinewood Social if WeWork were a restaurant it would be Pinewood Social. Coffee served alongside cocktails, a community table covered in MacBooks alongside booths filled with people eating sandwiches and salads. In the back find a swanky bowling alley, and in the summer you can find an airstream serving cocktails next to the swimming pool and bocci ball courts.

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Hattie B’s Famous Nashville Hot Chicken. We waited 45 minutes at 2pm for it. Hangry? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

Red Bicycle – Crepes and coffee. Next time, I would plan to start my morning here before heading to get a manicure/pedicure at the adorable nearby salon, Poppy & Monroe.

Fin & Pearl – Had a reservation here though I didn’t end up making it. Go here for an elevated seafood dinner.

Biscuit Love – Another one I didn’t make it to. Upon pulling up in our uber, we realized many other people had the same idea. It was raining so we opted not to wait, but the line supposedly moves quickly and the biscuits are apparently worth it.

Acme Feed & Seed – Come here for frozen moonshine lemonade, rooftop views and people watching. On the bottom level check out the on air radio station.

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DO

12 South – This seems to be the trendy spot in Nashville – home to Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James, curated graffiti on every corner and a celebrity jean favorite, imogene + willie. Ideal spot for brunching followed by shopping.

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Broadway – The touristy must-see spot in Nashville. A street where every shop is either a cowboy boot store or bar with live music. The musicians rotate every four hours, so at that time you can expect the masses to flock to the streets looking for a new place to order a PBR and do the two step. If you’re lucky enough you might see the Nashville Clogger – you are in for a treat. Though not a country fan, we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame (loved the Bob Dylan exhibition). Make sure to stop by the GooGoo Factory – home to the famous Nashville sweet treat.

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It was a great spontaneous weekend, and my lesson? Book the ticket.

Lower East Side || Neighborhood Guide

I spent one year living in the Lower East Side. One year getting to know what’s housed between fire escapes on Ludlow, Rivington, Eldridge and Orchard. A year embracing the trash smells, but living in the heart of it all, and taking the good with the bad. One year walking up 68 steps to our fifth story walk-up. My year in my cozy, exposed brick, if-you-lean-your-head-out-the-window you’ll get a view of the Empire State Building apartment and I’m leaving and moving a stones throw across the East River.

To celebrate and thank LES, I am sharing with you my LES Neighborhood Guide.

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EAT

Spaghetti Incident — Under my old apartment, this cozy spot serves up inexpensive but hearty Italian dishes. The waitstaff carries out their duties with gusto, and in no time you will have a delicious bowl of housemade Bucatini in front of you. Pro tip: if you’re visiting late night, get their pasta to-go, served in a paper cone.

Pho Grand — Broth. When it comes down to it, this place’s broth has got it going on. Sure, there are other authentic spots in the same neighborhood, but there’s something about this broth and noodle combo that keeps bringing me back.IMG_0586.jpeg

Russ & Daughters — Enjoy a bagel just the way your grandma would want you to. Choose from a variety of smoked salmons, browse the selection of caviar, dried fruits and chocolate covered candies.

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La Margarita Pizza — Favorite by the slice spot in the city. Served Sicilian style, with the perfect ratio of doughy center to crunchy outer layer, this is a must for a quick lunch or late night bite.

il laboratorio del gelato — You’ve heard me rave before. If I was granted one wish it would be to eat dessert here everyday for the rest of my life. Flavors change daily and range from Turkish coffee, to basil, to cream cheese.

Goa Taco — What tacos should taste like. Served in the cutest apparatus, devour a crunchy taco that’s bursting with flavor.

DRINK

Jadis Wine Bar — French wine cave where you feel right at home. Enjoy the selection of wines and cheeses, and coffee table books and board games on their bookshelves.

Atta Boy — This spot serves up specialty cocktails, shaves their own ice, and requires a special eye and patience to make it in.

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Verlaine — $6 Lychee Martinis. Best in Manhattan. That is all.

DO

Sara Roosevelt Park — Take a walk down the park and prepare for sensory overload. Little old ladies doing Tai Chi here, 6 ft 5 basketball players keeping score there. A children’s soccer game, hidden gardens with turtle ponds, a running track, racquetball courts, etc. This park has it all.

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Sunshine Cinema — A quaint movie theatre that shows indie films and has the best snack bar selection of any theatre I’ve been to. Escape from the bustle of the city in here.

2nd Ave Park — A graffiti park exists across Houston. Installations come and go – there was once the famous heart wall, and now it’s home to pop artists facades such as Drake, Adele and RiRi.

Walk — Get lost and enter. The thing I will miss most is walking around this neighborhood. There is always more to see. Something new that catches my eye. Someone to stop and talk to.

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But let’s be honest, you know I’m excited to find my new spots in Brooklyn 😉

Corianna’s City Guide: A Perfect Day in Park Slope

I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a three day weekend that didn’t come attached to an itinerary. This past weekend was one of those unique times. I have the advantage of living in a city with many neighborhoods and boroughs, so it was really just a matter of choosing which one to explore for a staycation. The choice: Park Slope.

Park Slope is located in Brooklyn, and is a suburb of Manhattan. The neighborhood is nestled into neatly packed streets where brownstones line avenues, growing more ornate as they reach up the slope towards Prospect Park. Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s Central Park, though way more manageable in size. There are large fields where families play frisbee, dogs are off-leash and guitar chords echo under limestone bridges.

Corianna Goes XC’s Itinerary for a day in Park Slope: 

You can get to Park Slope by taking the B, Q, 2, 3, F, or G.

Make your way to Union Street and walk through a maze of high value brownstones.

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Head over to grab some fuel for the day and brunch at Rose Water . A prix-fixe brunch menu includes a house made beverage and delectable entree. Below are the bosc pear crepes filled with ricotta cheese. The homemade bread basket was an unexpected treat from the host, too!

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After brunch, it’s time for a Bloody Mary. Before leaving Rose Water, look across the street and marvel at the community grocery co-op then walk towards Union Hall, where you will be cozy in the dimly lit bar warmed by two fireplaces. Enjoy a game of bocce ball while listening to good tunes and sipping your drink.

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After a close game of bocce ball, it’s time to get some fresh air in Prospect Park. On Saturday’s there is a Farmer’s Market towards the entrance. I recommend fresh cheese from Cato Corner Farm.

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After a walk through the park, you will have a nice dose of suburban living before heading back to Manhattan, or whichever area you hail from. The best part? No waiting in an airport/train station/etc., cause that’s the beauty of a staycation – discovering your own city and its surroundings.

Corianna’s City Guide: Los Angeles

Ah, Los Angeles. The city of angels. Where old cinema glamour meet lights, camera, action. My first trip to LA was spent in heart-shaped sunglasses, marveling at the Hollywood sign, eating amazing food and bathing by the Pacific Ocean.

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EAT

So many restaurants, so little time. In a locale where who you know is key, I suggest making reservations. Of course, there’s always In N’ Out.

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Cleo | small Mediterranean plates & fizzy, fruity cocktails. Need I say more?

Joan’s on Third | an artisan market on 3rd, this is a one-stop-shop for tomato mozerella salads, gourmet gummy bears, and Asian chopped chicken salad.

Kettle Glazed | the donut craze on the west coast is a real thing. The cuteness factor, mouthwatering ice coffee, and cakey donuts are worth the trip to this small strip right off of Hollywood Blvd.

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Gracias Madre | enjoy vegetarian Mexican dishes on an celebrity-strewn outdoor patio, adorned by olive trees.

MILK | by all means, go to MILK. Yes, there will be a line wrapping around the corner. Wait in it. Ice cream sandwich macarons. Cough, my birthday is in November. Can someone ship me one? Indulge in fruity pebbles or grasshopper (mint chocolate chip).

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Sugarfish | Does it get better than salmon nigiri? YES. Well, at least it does at Sugarfish. Order a Trust Me Plate and prepare to be delighted by the feast that you are about to indulge in. Semi-warmed rice with a delicious tangy sauce, seaweed wrapped crab rolls, and specialties served directly from the sushi kitchen will grace your evening, keeping you dreaming of this sushi restaurant and holding it on the highest pedestal.

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DRINK

No Vacancy | This speakeasy finds home in Charlie Chaplin’s old Hollywood mansion. Enter through the Madame of the House’s bedroom, and after being granted access, find yourself in an atmosphere reminiscent of a party Jay Gatsby himself would host.

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Bar Marmont | If you can beat em’, join em’. Feel like royalty with a table at Bar Marmont, a glass of bubbly and a slice of olive oil + honey cake.

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DO

Runyon Canyon | While there are plenty of other hikes in LA, nothing beats the workout that you get at this hot spot. If you are going on a weekend, get there early as parking fills up fast!

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Hollywood Boulevard |  Classic LA destination. Be sure to take a picture with your favorite star. My faves? Lassie, the Rugrats, and Bing Crosby. While you’re over this way, find the “HOLLYWOOD” sign and the infamous Hollywood Tower of Terror (my favorite Disney ride).

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The Grove/Farmer’s Market | While I wouldn’t make a special trip to the Grove (it is a glorified mall), the Farmer’s Market in itself is worth the trip.

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Abbot Kinney | spend a day in Venice and the shops at Abbot Kinney. Grab a lemonade, visit a food truck and get yourself a new record at vinyl.

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And of course, don’t forget to blast this song driving down the streets – whether Melrose, Sunset, Hollywood or Mullholland Drive.

XC

Corianna’s City Guide: Paris

For those of you lucky enough to have an upcoming trip to Paris, or for those of you would like an excuse to daydream about time spent in Paris – I invite you to take a trip with me down the grand boulevards, the boat-lined Seine river, the quiet parks, the marble bridges and the noisy street café lined sidewalks, I’d like you take a trip with me to Paris.

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I spent five short months living in Paris during the spring of my junior year in college, and those months continue to fill me with some of the most warming thoughts and memories. Memories of petite children riding scooters to school, speaking French in high pitched voices; memories of quiet, dewy mornings in the park; memories of my bookshelf-lined attic apartment; smells of toasty baguettes and fresh flowers from a nearby stand, of dazzling lights and historical relics from a time of exuberance. If you’ve been to Paris, you love it. It’s impossible not to be infatuated with its metropolitan beauty. Paris is a place you go to fall in love, with a person, with yourself, with a rue, with a café, with a piece of art, with a city.

EAT

Let’s just say I wasn’t living like Marie Antoinette during my time in Paris. My money that would normally be reserved for eating out in the states was reserved for traveling throughout Europe on weekends (though there is no reason to leave Paris). It’s overwhelming to know that although you are in a city with some of the world’s greatest chefs, you won’t be able to make it to to even half of the great restaurants, or even a handful. Do not fret. You’ll be able to get a good meal anywhere in Paris. However, my recommendations for what to not miss are below.

Corianna recommends not missing the following in Paris:

Moules Mariniere
Mousse au chocolat
Pain aux raisins
Emmental cheese crepe
Steak Frites
Cheese, cheese and more cheese
Salted caramel from Normandy
Omelette au fromage
A baguette, fresh from the oven
Kinder Bars
Croque Madame

The list goes on and on…

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L’As du Fallafel | If you find yourself in the Marais, do not miss out on this falafel shop. Chewy pita, crispy falafel and all the fixings bring the lines to this joint. Stand in line or take a seat inside.

Au Rêve | …or a dream. If you are enjoying the historic Montmartre district, be sure to eat at this hilltop café. Serving up delicious specialties such as canard (duck) and homemade glace au chocolat (chocolate ice cream) there is nothing better than sitting outside and watching the day pass by.

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Berthillon | The line is worth it – the ice cream doesn’t get better than this. If you can’t wait in the line, go to any of the cafes on Île de-la-Cité, they all serve it. My favorite flavor was fig.

Ladurée tea salon | Ladurée is worth the fuss. They serve macarons so delicate that they melt in your mouth and keep the people lining up. My favorite flavor? Rose.

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Have access to a kitchen? Nothing will make you feel more like an American in Paris than buying summer vegetables at a local market and pulling together ratatouille. Julia Child would be proud.

DRINK

Get used to saying “une caraffe de vin (rouge/blanc), s’il vous plait,” to this, you will be given a carafe of the house white or red wine – and trust me…I was never disappointed.

Le Baron Rouge | A small neighborhood wine bar, that is seemingly always packed and serves up delicious wine for 3 euro a glass. There isn’t much room to sit, so people often stand, often overflowing into the street – it’s really one big party.

Les Closeries des Lilas | Ernest Hemmingway’s haunt is nestled in the neighborhood I resided in during my time in Paris. Come here to dance as you scarf down olives, listening to live piano jazz in the background, while drinking an American cocktail with a French twist.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway

DO

Museums

Musée de l’Orangerie | My favorite art museum in Paris. There is just the right amount of art from the impressionist period that makes you feel as if you’ve seen a good amount, yet doesn’t overwhelm you. This is where Monet’s water lilies or nymphs are.

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Musée D’Orsay | Another wonderful collection of art. You could easily spend the entire day here.

Catacombs | The Catacombs ran underneath the house I lived in during my time in Paris. They are one-of-a-kind & not for the faint of heart.

Parks

Jardin des Tuileries | Walk from the east to the west of the garden to end your walk with wonderful views of the Tour Eiffel and Place de la Concorde. If it’s nice, bring a picnic (including wine!)

Luxembourg Gardens | Perfect place to get lost. Take your time soaking in the wonderful gardens, moss covered fountains and bronze statues. If it’s warm out, watch children sail their homemade boats in the fountain. If it’s cold, sit at one of several cafes and enjoy a latte.

Parc Montsouris | My neighborhood park. Come here to snack on cheese, get an ice cream cone, read a book or people watch.

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See

La Tour Eiffel | I don’t care who you are, when the Eiffel Tower glitters and sparkles on the hour mark, everything is right in the world.

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Louvre | Though not my favorite art collections, the Louvre is not to be missed. Look for the Mona Lisa, and Venus de Milo among many other famous pieces.

Montmartre | Make your way to the north of Paris for spectacular views, and old-Parisian charm. If you get a chance, sneak to the cabaret… I recommend Au Lappin.

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Notre Dame | Enjoy scenic views of the marvelous cathedral from the banks of the Seine.

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The Marais | Touted as the hip neighborhood of Paris, the Marais has a lot to offer – from fun nightlife, to fabulous shops, and Musse Carnavalet. If you find yourself in the Marais, make a stop at L’as du Falafel mentioned above.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés | My favorite neighborhood in Paris. I’m definitely a left bank kind of girl. This is where Paris feels the most like Paris to me. With open air markets, famous cafes, and beaucoup de charm, the 6th arrondissement is not to be missed.

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Markets | Do not leave Paris without stopping by a market, if only to inhale the blue cheeses or get a glimpse of fresh rabbit. I urge you to pick up one thing you haven’t had before.

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This list is really just a beginning. On one of my first nights in Paris, my French cousin urged me to “get lost and enter,” and that is what I urge all of you to do as you find your own way through Paris.


I enlisted the help of my Parisian girlfriends that I studied abroad with to lend me their one favorite thing about Paris…the thing is, their one favorite thing turned into a bit more, because no one can decipher that one thing that made them fall in love in the City of Light.

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Brigitte | Eating bread and drinking wine.

Kate | My dear! You ask me my one favorite thing to do in Paris? Ce n’est pas possible! All things to do, eat, smell and see in Paris are my favorite. And since I hear you already stole away my hidden gem restaurant, Au Rêve, with the best canard in the city, I’ll have to say walking through Montmartre of course. While many tourists say “oh of course,” I don’t mean just sitting with great Nutella ice cream on the steps of the Sacre Coeur. I mean the elegant “other side” of the hill itself. While of course I’m bias, strolls passing famous artists’ such as Piacasso hot spots, seeing young French children play soccer in the street, and the Normandy style homes…It’s my oasis. Just that stroll. On my peaceful walk I would stop in my favorite crêperie in the city, Brocéliande. I don’t mean any crepe, one for those gluten free readers, traveling is hard enough eh? And forget those crêpes on the street , step inside this treasure in the corner of Montmarte and discover wonderful crêpes. Not just the sweet ones, but with eggs, fresh veggies and a cider to top it off. The buckwheat gluten free crêpes were my go to. All in all, taking a stroll is my favorite thing, in Montmartre or getting lost in the rest of the city. That was my favorite thing and still is my favorite thing to do in the whole world.

Kathryn | Waking up early & walking the empty streets as the sun rises from the rive droite to the rive gauche, stopping to get pain au chocolat & taking a bite out of a fresh/hot pastry. Admiring cute, drunken boys on my way to the Marché Raspail just returning home from a night of clubbing. Really taking time to notice people’s expressions & “Je ne sais quoi” — let’s be honest – drinking wine at 11am, drawing & journaling at cafe tables, being leisurely, still, quiet & sexy, wearing cashmere & pretending to be french, smirking at boys from across the café …


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Be sure to check out my Paris tab for more of my favorite things & feel free to ask questions in the comments section below!