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.

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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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Copenhagen City Guide

Copenhagen wasn’t on my list, but then again, what isn’t on my list? When I found $400 RT tickets from JFK, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity – even if only for a long weekend to spend my days in between coffee shops, museums and boutiques. Copenhagen isn’t for every traveler, but if it’s for you, boy are you lucky.

The city blew me away with the understated complexity of its dishes, the sleek design elements on every corner and the effortless fashion choices of its inhabitants. Windy cobblestone streets guide you to canals lined with blanket-strewn outdoor cafes, bikes leaning against pastel-colored homes and expansive gardens, where the scent of chocolate waffles fill the air.

As bikes whizzed by me and the outdoor flower markets bloomed with ranunculus – it was easy to understand why Denmark is consistently rated one of the top countries in the world.

Here is my take on four days in this delightful European city:

Day 1

Off the plane, and straight to Copenhagen Free Walking Tours to stretch your legs. The tour gave us a great overview of the different neighborhoods in Copenhagen and their distinct flavors. This city owes a lot to brew master, Carlsberg, whose name is plastered all over the city (As for the beer, I’m not that fond of it, but I’ll save that story for another time). After three hours, a little history, and a lot of walking, we were ready for a drink and dinner.

We stayed in Vesterbro, at the perfectly located Absalon Hotel. It was the perfect place for us – close to the train station, centrally located and in the hip meatpacking neighborhood,. They served an amazing and authentic continental breakfast in the morning that was the perfect fuel to start our day. It was so major having breakfast provided – now is a good time to tell you that Copenhagen is one expensive city and being able to save on breakfast and put that money toward other meals was very appreciated by the end of the trip.

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Threw on heels and lipstick, and headed out to Fiskebarre in the meatpacking neighborhood. This was our first exposure to the amazing gastronomy in Copenhagen. The drinks were frothy, and garnished with velvety sage, and the local Danish oysters came with a fork and knife due to their enormous size.

From here, we walked to our reservation at nearby Kul. The bartender at Kul was just named the best bartender in Copenhagen, and upon sitting at the bar and being served by him, it was easy to see why. Bert’s drink was shaken, stirred, garnished, and served in a Viking horn. Authentic? Check. When the cheese came out as our first course, instead of our last, the waitress rushed out champagne on the house and took care of our cheese board – this was our first glimpse into how kind the Danes are and their warm hospitality.

Day 2

We heard so much about the Danish brunch – we had to give it a try. At Mad & Kaffe, you take your pick of 3, 5 or 7 menu options – ranging from brown sugar brûléed blood oranges, to local blackberry yogurt (Danes have the best dairy products –  cheese and butter included) and homemade cinnamon rolls – their was something for everyone.

A short stroll brought us to MOSS, my new favorite store where I wished every item was in my closet. After stocking up, we walked to Toverhallene, a Danish food market with stalls including Smørrebrød, Danish open-faced sandwiches, to chocolatiers, and fresh fruits and veggies. A walk into Nørrebro brought us to shopping street, Jægersborggade, where we were ready for our next meal – gruel, ala Grød. Yes you read that right, gruel – something that only Copenhagen could make cool again. We opted for a risotto flavored dish, and it was one of our best meals on the trip.

From here, we ubered to Glyptotek museum, where we wandered through medieval busts and spent time relaxing in the palm tree adorned atrium.

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As if we hadn’t done enough on this day, we headed over to Paper Island, a food stall market where all the best flavors of Copenhagen collide. Our picks included a top-notch succulent duck burger from DuckIt!, a Moroccan flatbread garnished with mozzarella, herbs, grilled chicken and onions. This is the spot to be on any night, but especially on Friday nights when the beers are flowing and the Danes are out for the weekend.

Day 3

The day I had been waiting for – shopping day! Since the moment we arrived, I ogled at the Danes fashion. Minimalistic, yet made a statement, classy yet edgy, a silk blouse with Nike sneakers.

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We spent our day tackling design stores (Stilleben, HAY Market, and Illums Bolingus) and clothing boutiques (Acne Studios, MOSS, basically anything on Strøget). If only I had a bigger suitcase…We stopped for a gourmet hot dog at Hanegal wishing our budgets and waists could accommodate a few more.

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You can’t go to Denmark without marveling at the design: every restaurant, coffee shop and place to rest your head is an Instagram dream – pure hygge, which is a special Danish word for cosiness. We made a point of visiting the Denmark Design Museum, where we realized how much intention goes into creating the chair, and how there can be so many interpretations (shout out to Arne Jacobsen).

A short afternoon walk led us to Cristiana, the free neighborhood that is known for selling marijuana and having “no rules.” It felt a bit too like Disneyworld to us, and a bit forced, so we weren’t that impressed, but after talking to some friends we met, we learned that the neighborhood stretches much further than we realized, where you can see the hand-built houses and shops that truly amaze.

After dinner at Neighbourhood Pizza, we stumbled into 1656 cocktail bar, where my drink was served with a glittery froth. A glitter cocktail!! Not sure why this is the first time I’ve had this. The cocktails in Copenhagen were some of the best I’ve ever had: innovative, refreshing and picturesque.

Day 4

On our last day, we boarded a train and travelled 45 minutes north of the city to see the Louisiana Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden. Taking the train in Europe is one of my absolute favorite moments of any trip – it’s a time to see how people live outside the city limits, reflect on the memories made and the people encountered thus far, and what lies ahead. This train ride was particularly nice, as we sped by an ocean that separated us from Sweden.

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The museum itself was beautiful – nestled in an old home that mimicked the Dowargess’ in Downton Abbey, and covered in vines. The art was modern. Funky, fresh and thought-provoking. We enjoyed a lovely, albeit cold walk through the sculpture garden following the indoor exhibits.

To escape the cold and gray Danish day, we made our way into turquoise colored Mikkeler & Friends beer bar where we imbibed in sours made from local cherries, pear ciders and vietnamese coffee flavored stouts.

We made our way back to Vesterbro, and had one final dinner at Madklubben – a restaurant with Danish aesthetics,  and diverse menu.


If you ever stumble upon cheap roundtrip flights to Europe and think, is it worth it for a long weekend? 100% yes. The days were full but we got a wonderful sense of what Scandanavia has to offer. And after seeing all that it does, it’s easy to see why so many people love this city. Skâl!

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Cheers, Copenhagen! xc

La Vie en Rose

My days of croissants for breakfast, lunches in Luxembourg gardens, cocktails in the Saint Germain des près, and dinners in Madames house are coming to an end. I haven’t been updating my blog as frequently because I’ve really been trying to absorb as much as I can as my great experience comes to an end. My friends that I have met abroad are all on their way back to the states, and I will soon be joining them after a final two week trip to Italy and Greece.

I have been asked the question many times, “are you ready to go home”? The answer: no. Paris is a captivating city; it’s dynamic, it’s romantic, it’s intense, it’s charming, and it’s uniquely mine. The monuments, the limestone apartment buildings, the cobblestone streets and cafe crèmes are all seen differently through different people’s eyes.

It really is the little things that made me fall in love with Paris: the same old man setting up his book stand on my walk to school, how no dogs walk on leashes and follow their owners loyally through the city streets, children scootering down the sidewalks, sitting down and enjoying a small café-instead of rushing around with a massive to-go cup. It is the small details that I will miss most.

This is not goodbye though. This has only fueled my fire for my love of travel, wanderlust and Paris.

Lisbon, PT

I have a love affair with Lisbon. I’m cheating on Paris. There isn’t one thing that made me fall in love with Lisbon; it’s the little details that make this city so irreplaceable. From the cream colored taxis zooming by the mosaic walls to the friendly faces boasting from a small cafe about their special dishes.

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The sidewalks throughout Lisbon are black and white mosaic, otherwise known as “Portuguese Pavement”

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When we arrived, it was free museum day—even though we slept in the Madrid airport the previous night, we dropped our coats at the hostel and made our way via tram to Belem, a neighborhood that houses many museums.

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The tomb of Vasco de Gama

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Manueline style architecture found in the Cloister of Jerónimos Monastery

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At the Modern Art museum, there was a fabulous craft festival going on. I tried traditional pastries, picked up and marveled at antiques and even bought a few things for my friends and family.

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Across the street, still in Belem is the statue of Cristo Rei. It was the last thing that sailors saw when they left home, and the first thing they saw when they returned to Lisbon.

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Designed by same architect of Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco 

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An amazing salad made in an instant, costing under 5 euro, with a line out the door to match.

You can’t go to Lisbon without noticing a particular pastry in every bakeries window. It is the portuguese baguette. A staple for every trip to Portugal, the Pastel de nata. It is a flaky pastry with a warm custard inside. Don’t forget to sprinkle the cinnamon and powdered sugar on top.

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Details that made me fall in love with Lisbon:

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Notice the couple dining on the roof

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When in Portugal, you must treat yourself to a Fado experience. Think listening to a woman singing Portuguese love ballads, with old men hunched over their beloved guitars against a tile backsplash.

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My initials 

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I can’t wait for my next trip to Lisbon.  I heard marvelous things about Portugal, and I can’t wait to explore the entire country.

Ibiza, ES

Ibiza, an island notorious for partying and clubbing only seemed like the appropriate spring break destination for a group of girls in our 20-somethings phase. When we arrived on the island, we found out the clubs are closed for their “winter season,” so we took the opportunity to soak up rays with the sound of the Mediterranean waves crashing in the distance. 

The island is divided into different neighborhoods, the Italian, the Spanish and the British. As soon as we arrived, it was evident we were in the British neighborhood due to the signs boasting “english breakfast” and “rugby sports bar”. While Ibiza wasn’t culturally expansive for me, I owe it a ‘thank you’ for my tan.

Barcelona, ES

Spring Break in Europe, what could be better? Approximately a week and a half ago, I set out with my three girlfriends from Charles De Gaulle airport to begin our spring break adventure. We started this adventure in Barcelona, Spain.

The first few days of our vacation, we were cursed with a bad case spring showers. It rained relentlessly, every day for four days. We found ourselves taking shelter in the warmth of grand churches, taking cover in the expansive market La Boqueria, and hiding in authentic tapas bar to indulge in big glasses of sangria. Things could have been worse.

We ended up going to an Ice Bar. The bar, seats…even cups were made out of ice.

The market was my favorite experience from Barcelona. I loved walking from stall to stall, seeing the inexpensive fruits beautifully displayed, the meat hanging from the ceilings, and the candied nuts piled high.

You can’t help but noticing the gaudy buildings throughout this spanish city. By “gaudy”, I of course, mean the architect and artist Antoni Gaudi, whose buildings and details can be found in many parts of the city.

Park Guell, was like Disneyland for adults. It is a mystical park where every turn leads you to something unexpected—whether it be a mosaic wall or a guitar player hiding under the shade of palms.

The Sagrada Famillia was unfortunately under construction. I was still amazed at the look of this church. It looked as if Gaudi was building a sand castle, taking the wet sand and dripping it over the castle.

As for the food, I found myself indulging in tapas plates of every kind; from grilled green peppers to spicy chorizo platters to colorful paellas. Of course, every meal was accompanied by a fruity sangria.

I don’t know the next time that I will be back to Barcelona but I know for sure that I will be back.