The Best New Hotels of Fall 2014

A few recent hotel openings (and one soon-to-open spot) recently caught my eye. These hot spots could serve as the perfect home base for a New York city escape or a girls’ getaway in Las Vegas. Here are the new properties that are on my radar for the rest of 2014.

Mondrian London

This London boutique hotel is set to open September 30th and marks the first Mondrian location outside of the States. Its South Bank location will put guests close to the Tate Modern and the London Eye, plus a rooftop will allow for great views of OXO Tower and the Thames.

Mondrian London

Photo courtesy of the Mondrian London

SLS Las Vegas

I’ve always loved the SLS South Beach for Hyde Beach and Jose Andres’ Bazaar restaurant. Now the popular hotel brand has opened a Las Vegas outpost, replacing the old Sahara casino on the north end of the Strip. It’s just the excuse I need to plan a long weekend in Sin City.

SLS

Photo Courtesy of the SLS Hotels

 

 

Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World 

This hotel opened late last month. It has everything I love about Four Seasons properties – luxurious rooms, wonderful dining options and world class amenities – and it’s all within the gates of Walt Disney World. I’ll have to check it out when I visit Orlando in December.

The Park Hyatt New York

With its convenient midtown Manhattan location, spacious rooms and extensive spa, this new hotel tops my list of places to stay next time I’m in the city. I also read that check in is done with tablets and all rooms are equipped with iPads. I always love when hotels are on top of technology.

 

24 Hours in Avignon

Avignon is without a doubt one of my favorite cities in France. How can you not love its cobblestone streets, medieval touches and 14th century city walls? It’s just like an old European city that you would see in a movie. The historic center of the town is even a UNESCO World Heritage site. We were on a week long tour of the south of France and were told by many previous visitors that we had to see Avignon. We decided to spend one night before we made our way east to the Côte d’Azur.

We arrived in Avignon after a 45 minute drive from Arles. After driving in circles through one way streets in search of our hotel, we finally found the gated entrance to the Cloitre Saint Louis. I love the history behind this hotel. Originally a 16th century monastery, it has now been converted into a hotel, but still kept all of its historical charms. To get from the parking lot to the hotel’s entrance, we had to walk through a sprawling central courtyard filled with trees and fountains. The interior hallways are made of stone arches and balconies overlook central courtyards. It also had a great location within the city walls, which made it within walking distance to restaurants and shops.

Cloitre St. Louis Cloitre St. Louis

After getting settled in, we made the 15 minute walk to Avignon’s central square, the Place de l’Horloge. It was a warm night and the plaza’s shops, outdoor cafes and carousel were all lit up and filled with tourists and locals. We kept walking towards the Palais des Papes to try and get a glimpse of the massive building at dusk. The palace looked like a castle out of a fairy tale. Students and couples strolling hand in hand gathered in the square. We stopped for gelato at a stand right outside the entrance and grabbed a table. Enjoying our gelato and people watching in front of the 14th century palace made for the perfect summer night. On our way back, we stopped at a brasserie that was near our hotel for a very French meal of escargot, moules frites and Provençal rosé wine.

290palais282

avignon brazzerie

We woke up early the next day to ensure we had time to tour the Palais des Popes. By morning the square in front of the palace was bustling with accordion players, busy souvenir shops and boulangeries selling breakfast. After spending a few hours exploring the historical palace, we ventured up the hills on the western edge of the city to catch a view of the Rhone. Near the river was a lovely park filled with fountains and extensive greenery that is worth a stop. A short walk down took us to the Pont d’Avignon, a bridge constructed in the 1100s that originally spanned the Rhone. It’s since been destroyed by invasions and flooding, and today only about 1/5 of the original bridge remains. It’s a must do when in Avignon for the wonderful scenery. We were able to take the free boat across to the other side of the river for another view.

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Rhone River

Our time in Avignon was coming to an end, since we planned to make it to Cannes by evening. After checking out of our hotel and loading up our rental car, we hit the road for the two hour drive. Avignon was a great way to end our trip through Provence, and we were off to the Riviera.

 

LA’s Best Rooftop Bars

Summer may be unofficially over, but with the pleasant weather that Los Angeles sees basically year round, one of the city’s many rooftop bars is a great way to spend an evening. It’s the ideal way to enjoy a cocktail, people watch and take in amazing views of the city. I was able to visit a few rooftops during my recent stint in la la land. Here are a few of the standouts.

The London

The London

The name may imply a British sensibility, but this West Hollywood lounge brings a laid back, strictly California vibe with its comfy couches and fire pit. Head up to the roof after dinner at the hotel’s Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Sadly, it was closed on the day we wanted to visit, but we were still able to have a few cocktails on the roof.

The Sixty Beverly Hills

Sixty Beverly Hills

I was a regular to this rooftop bar during my recent stay at the Sixty hotel. Good drinks, friendly bartenders and a great view kept me coming back. I liked that the lounge area was separated from the pool area, and if you looked hard enough, you could get a glimpse of the Hollywood sign in the distance.

Perch

Perch

Set atop a Pershing Square building in downtown LA, Perch is a rooftop restaurant and lounge that offers French fare. We visited for dinner (try the mushroom risotto!) and stayed for drinks to take in the city lights. While it’s not cheap, the view makes it all worth it.

Andaz West Hollywood

view

The rooftop at this Sunset Strip hotel is the place to see beautiful people and breathtaking views of the Hollywood Hills.

 

Alessandra Ambrosio’s Jetsetting Style

alessandra ambrosio

When the opportunity arose to meet Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio at a recent store event, I couldn’t pass up the chance. She was visiting Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio to launch Victoria’s Secret Sport’s new incredible front-close sport bra. (The bra is awesome, by the way. Ladies, go try it out!). Obviously I’m jealous that she’s so effortlessly stunning, but I’m also envious that part of her job involves traveling the world. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about her globetrotting lifestyle, favorite destinations and travel essentials.

You just returned from vacation in Hawaii. What did you do there? Just relaxed and enjoyed the beaches and water. We all went surfing.

Where did you stay? The Four Seasons Maui. It was perfect!

What’s your favorite destination? Brazil, where I’m from. I get to see my friends and family.

What are your travel necessities? Headphones and my iPad. I fill it with movies. I also use the mineral water facial spray from Evian.

What’s your dream destination? Tibet.

Any essential plane reading material? I always bring a book and lots of magazines.

What’s your best travel tip? Make sure to sleep on the plane! It helps ease jet lag.

 

On the Van Gogh Trail in Arles

I’m a huge art buff, so one of the places I knew I had to visit during my recent tour of southern France was Arles. This little town is tucked away between Montpellier and Marseille, right above the Camargue. Beyond its obvious Provençal charms, its also the place where Vincent van Gogh created some of his most notable paintings.

Van Gogh came to Arles in 1888 after needing a break from Paris. It’s said that the sunny days and vibrant colors of Provence inspired him to paint the 200 pieces he created during his stint in the town. Visitors can follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps and visit the locations where he painted some of his masterpieces. Easels placed throughout the city mark the sites where the artist viewed his subjects and saw inspiration.

My husband and I arrived in Arles on a sunny, summer day. We had just driven from Nimes and were a little tired, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to retrace one of my favorite artist’s steps. We stopped at the tourism office to pick up a map that points out the key Van Gogh locations, and headed out on our self guided tour of the city.

We started in the city center at the Place du Forum in search of the famed restaurant that inspired Cafe Terrace at Night. After a short walk, we stumbled upon the unmistakable yellow awnings. Now aptly named Cafe Van Gogh, it’s said that Van Gogh and his then roommate Paul Gauguin frequented the cafe for nights of absinthe drinking.

Cafe van Gogh Cafe van Gogh

Next on the tour was the facility where Van Gogh painted The Hospital at Arles. Now called Espace Van Gogh, it’s where he was taken after slicing off a portion of his ear. The beautifully maintained gardens still mirror the landscaping you can see in the painting.

Hospital at Arles

A little to the west was a recreation of the Langlois Bridge. The site commemorates the series of paintings and sketches called Langlois Bridge at Arles.

Langois Bridge

We then walked towards the Rhone to see the bridge that crosses the river, the Trinquentaille. It’s changed a bit since Van Gogh’s days, but the resemblance can immediately be seen. It’s here that The Trinquentaille Bridge was painted in 1888.

BridgeBridge

Unfortunately, we missed the locations marking Starry Night Over the Rhone and The Old Mill. We also were unable to make it to to the site of the artist’s home from the famous Yellow House. (Interesting fact – it’s no longer there, as it was bombed during WWII).

Until earlier this year, Arles housed none of Van Gogh’s actual paintings. It’s quite surprising, considering the large amount of art he produced while residing in the town. The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles opened in June as a place to showcase Van Gogh’s legacy in the town, and I knew we had to check it out. About 10 paintings were temporarily exhibited, including the well known Self Portrait in a Straw Hat and The Yellow House at Arles. While I wouldn’t consider this a full fledged museum, it is a nice feature to compliment the Van Gogh experience in Arles.

Van Gogh Experience

To be able to stand where the artist stood when he painted some of his most famous pieces was an amazing experience to say the least. Arles was one of my favorite towns that we visited in Provence, and if you’re ever in the south of France, it’s not to be missed.

 

What to Pack for a Summer Beach Vacation

beach necessitiesI’m heading to the beach in a few short weeks (South Carolina, to be exact), and like any good travel blogger, I’m already thinking about what I need to pack. I know I’ll be bringing along lots of sundresses, flat sandals and all the necessities needed for beach time. Check out my list of what I always make sure to include in my beach bag.

1. C.Wonder Rugby Stripe Tote: This straw bucket tote is sophisticated and functional.

2. Coach Bridget Sunglasses: Colorful sunglasses are a must for any beach vacation, and you can’t go wrong with pink frames!

3. Woven Fedora: Anyone will look beach chic in a summery fedora, and Modcloth offers lots of fun, stylish options.

4. Clinique Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: This light, non-greasy formula is one of my favorite sunscreens.

5. Dolce Vita Anica Sandals: Flat sandals are comfy and stylish, and I love the trendy details on Dolce Vita pairs.

6. Shiseido Stick Foundation: This product packs full coverage foundation and SPF37 into one little stick.

7. FRESH sugar lip balm: Sun protection, a hint of color and it smells good! It’s the perfect lip balm to protect your pout from the summer sun.

 

Confused about what to pack? There’s a great packing checklist on one of my favorite blogs, Glitter Guide.

Sun, Sand and a Beach Wedding

When my brother announced that he was getting married in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I was super excited. Who wouldn’t love another reason to visit the beach? Then he told us that the wedding was happening on a Tuesday. A Tuesday? Who gets married on a Tuesday? Regardless of the day, I planned my trip to the South. Given my lack of available vacation days, it was going to be a quick trip. I booked my flight using my husband’s extra Delta miles (thanks, hubs!) and was off for 2 days of sun, sand and a beach wedding.

I arrived the airport in the early evening and was ready to get to the condo I’d be sharing with my mom, sister and a friend. It would be like a slumber party every night! It’s safe to say that the kitsch factor is alive and well in Myrtle Beach. Theme restaurants like Planet Hollywood (I didn’t know those still existed!) and family-friendly entertainment venues lined the main road from the airport. We were headed to North Myrtle Beach, which was thankfully a little removed from the hustle and bustle of the main part of town. The Wyndham Ocean Boulevard was exactly what we needed. It had two beds, a kitchen, washer & dryer and a separate living room with a sofa bed, which I quickly claimed. An oceanfront balcony overlooking the water wasn’t too shabby either. The beach was a short jaunt from the hotel’s entrance, right over the sand dunes. I love the dunes and tall grass that are unique to the coastal Carolinas. So pretty! Days were spent lounging by the beach, with trips to local restaurants for fresh seafood. When in Rome, right? The whole town was full of vacationers enjoying the beach life. I settled in and took advantage of the opportunity to relax poolside and by the ocean for a few days. beach beach Beach drinks

The wedding was the next day and was right on the beach. A little rain and a lot of wind didn’t stop the late afternoon ceremony from going off without a hitch. It was short and sweet, with the ocean serving as a beautiful backdrop. Dinner was held at Martini restaurant in North Myrtle Beach. The atmosphere was classy and mello, with a live jazz musician. The menu was great. As their name would imply, the huge selection of  martinis was impressive. I went with a blueberry lemon drop and a cajun dirty martini, which had a spicy kick. Both unique and so good! Beyond the drinks, the food and service were amazing.beach wedding Airport

Next morning rolled around, and it was time to take off for the airport. Even though the trip was only two days, it was great seeing friends and family, and everyone had a blast at the destination wedding!

Taking in Some Tennis in Cincinnati

Years ago when I was a young PR girl in New York City, the agency I worked for at the time represented the US Tennis Association. I was lucky enough to attend the US Open, and really was impressed. Today, the US Open Series is a course of tournaments that determine which players advance to the US Open. One stop on the tournament is pretty close to home in Cincinnati, and it’s always a fun event. We decided to take a road trip to Cincinnati to visit some friends and take in some tennis at the Western & Southern Open.

US Open series Cincinnati Open

We arrived early in the morning and were able to quickly get in. We had pre-purchased our tickets, and they were pretty cheap – under $20 a person! A ticket gave you access to all the practice rounds and matches, so you could visit each venue and match as you pleased. My husband pulled up the schedule online, so we knew where and when certain players were playing. We were able to see big names like Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Martina Hingis. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest tennis fan, but it was cool to see the famous players up close and personal. I was excited when we got a front row seat to Serena Williams’ practice round, but sadly she was a no-show. We realized this after waiting about 30 minutes in the scorching heat for her to arrive. Oh well.

Cincinnati Open Maria Sharapova Cincinnati Open

When lunch time rolled around, I was impressed with the vast, more upscale options. There were outposts from Tony’s of Cincinnati, Taste of Belgium and the Montgomery Inn, plus local favorites like Graeter’s, Skyline and LaRosa’s pizza. I especially enjoyed the Svedka vodka lounge, and there was also a fancy Moet champagne bar.

moet lounge moet lounge

The event was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I definitely plan to attend again next year. Check out photos from the event that have been posted on social media channels here. The event goes on for a few more weeks. Learn more and snag your tickets on the Western & Southern Open’s website.

 

 

5 Reasons Why I Want to Move to Denver

Denver

When people talk about popular, chic cities, Denver often gets overlooked for its trendier coastal counterparts like San Francisco, New York and Boston. But the capital of Colorado has a lot to offer. It’s young and educated meets tech hotspot meets the great outdoors. I’ve visited the city a few times, and each time I have one of those “yeah, I could see myself living here” moments. Here are the top 5 reasons I want to move to the Mile High City.

1. The Active Lifestyle: Denver residents take advantage of their surroundings and get outside to hike, cycle and run. The city boasts over 800 miles of bike routes, and it’s not uncommon to see couples and families enjoying outdoor activities at all hours of the day. You can even kayak in the middle of the city at Confluence Park. How cool is that?

2. The Sunshine: Sure, the winters may be cold and snowy, but Denver enjoys about 300 days of sunshine a year! That makes the town one of the top five sunniest cities in the United States.

3. The Landscape: Places like Red Rocks, Mount Evans and the rest of the nearby Rockies will leave you in awe of Denver’s natural beauty.

4. The Food & Drink: From some of la mejor Mexican food north of the border (it’s all in the green chilies), to western specialties like rattlesnake, bison and elk, Denver has a great food scene. There are also microbreweries dotted throughout the city that make this place a craft beer lovers dream.

5. The Entertainment and Nightlife: With entertainment complexes like the 16th Street Mall and Larimer Square, plus 5 professional sports teams, there is never a shortage of things to do.

My Stay at the Radisson Blu in Nice, France

Ah, Nice. The sunshine, the sea, the glitz and glam of the Côte d’Azur. This hot spot on the French Riviera is one of the places I was looking forward to visiting the most during my recent trip to France. Our stop in Nice came at the tail end of a week of traveling through Provence and the South of France. The trip thus far had been a whirlwind of trains, cars and different hotels, so I was looking forward to settling down in Nice for a few days. I didn’t know too much about the town to start, but I knew I wanted a beachfront hotel that was near all the action. I had the luxe Hotel Negresco or Le Meridien in mind, but with some of the higher end properties pushing over €500 a night during the height of the summer, we ultimately opted for something a little more economical. The Radisson Blu Nice fit the bill with its seaside location and luxury amenities. Radisson Blu Nice

THE GOOD

We arrived in the afternoon and were able to head right up to our room. Upon entering, one of the first things that I noticed was a unique theme that I can only describe as “Caribbean Chic.” The wall was adorned with a photo of a Caribbean Carnival dancer and chili pepper sculptures decorated the wall. All decor aside, it was comfortable, and while not spacious, it was perfectly big enough for my husband and me. We were located on the highest floor, which made for easy access to the rooftop pool. The rooftop was the highlight of the hotel for me. The views it offered of the Promenade des Anglais and the Mediterranean were priceless. The pool area was clean, relaxing and offered a great cocktail menu. What’s better than lounging by the pool with a cocktail, right? We also gave the rooftop’s restaurant, La Terrasse, a try for lunch one day. The food was good, and were were able to score a overlooking the water, which made the meal memorable. In addition to the views, the staff was friendly and helpful. One of the best perks the hotel offered was the complimentary shuttle bus to Vieux Nice (Old Town), which saved us quite a lot of time and money in cabs. Lastly, never to be under appreciated, was the free wi-fi.

View from our room

view from our room

Room room bathroom

 

THE BAD

It was on our first night in Nice that we realized that the location of the hotel is not as centrally located as I would have desired. After leaving the hotel to walk in search of a restaurant, we soon found that to be much harder than imagined. The Radisson Blu is situated at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais. Much of the action is located about a mile and a half to the east, centered around the famous Hotel Negresco. This meant that the complimentary shuttle or a cab was usually needed to get to the populated part of the Promenade or Messena Square. While it may have been a little farther than we hoped for, we did enjoy some nighttime walks along the Promenade de Anglais back to our hotel.

One of the other things that stands out are the additional costs that seemed to be around every corner. The hotel’s private beach was over €20 a person, which we were told was needed to cover the charge of the beach chairs and towels. Even their rooftop pool set us back over €20 per person, per day. While it seemed crazy to me to be charged for use of the hotel’s pool, apparently these types of charges are the norm for comparable hotels in the area.

pool

 

Want to see more photos of my trip to Nice? Check them out on my Instagram page.

How to Survive a Long Flight

airplane interiorWe all know that long flights can be daunting. I’ve done quite a few overnight flights to South American and Europe where the the total airtime has been well over eight hours. So how do you arrive fresh and relaxed when you land? Here are a few tips I’ve collected over the years.

1. Score an Aisle or Window Seat: No one wants the middle, right? I find it easiest to sleep when I can lean against the window, but the extra leg room that an aisle seat brings is pretty nice too.

2. Pack the Necessities: I always make sure I bring my memory foam neck pillow, eye mask, sleeping pills and a shawl to keep warm.

3. Spring for the Upgrade: If money allows, pay for a business or first class seat. It’s worth it on those long international flights. Hello, fully reclining seats!

4. Prepare for Boarding: My pre-board routine consists of visiting the airport bathroom to wash my face, put up my hair and take out my contacts. It’s pretty similar to what you’d do when getting ready for bed. A little prep and I’m ready to settle in for the long haul.

5. Bring your Entertainment: Your plane may offer its own in-seat entertainment center, but you always want to come prepared with downloaded books, music and movies on your iPad or Kindle.

6. Stretch it Out: We all know that sitting for extended amounts of time is not good. Stand up to stretch your arms and legs, and walk the aisle to get the blood flowing if the seat belt sign is off.

A Visit to Barcelona’s Picasso Museum

Picasso MuseumOne of the places I knew I had to visit during my trip to Barcelona was the Picasso Museum. I’ll always jump at the chance to take in a new museum when I’m abroad, and I heard that this one should not be missed.

The museum is located in La Ribera, one my favorite parts of the city. Finding the entrance was a little tricky, since it’s tucked away down one of the neighborhood’s narrow streets. We were able to follow the signs, then the long line to get in showed that we were in the right spot. The museum consists of five connected buildings, which we were told date back to the 14th century.

Picasso spent many of his most creative years in Barcelona, and personally requested that the museum be built in the city. A lot of the pieces were donated by the artist himself. The museum houses one of the largest collections of Picasso’s work, with pieces spanning his life. It’s well organized and laid out in chronological order, so it’s easy to navigate.

If you’re coming here to see some of Picasso’s most recognizable paintings, you may be a little disappointed. The museum focuses more of Picasso’s life and his  connection to Barcelona. The tour starts with pieces done by a young Picasso, and to see the skill he possessed at such a young age is incredible. The artist’s Blue Period is the most prevalent, and there are also some key pieces from the Rose Period. Interestingly, a twenty year gap of time is unaccounted for, and I would have also personally loved to have seen some more Cubism represented. One of the most impressive parts was the complete 58 piece collection of Las Meninas. The tour ends with some of Picasso’s pottery, which was cool to see, since it’s so seldom discussed. We were lucky enough to have visited during the temporary exhibit Post Picasso: Contemporary Reactions. The exhibit showcased modern artists’ recreations of Picasso’s style and some of his most visible paintings. Works by contemporary artists like Jasper Johns and George Condo are featured, along with the famous Picasso portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Even if you’re not a huge Picasso fan or art lover, the museum is a great way to spend an afternoon. Tickets are only about $11, so it’s well worth a visit when in Barcelona.

Visiting the Museum: The museum is located at Carrer de Montcada, 15-23. Purchase tickets in advance in order to avoid the long lines. Give yourself at least 2 hours to explore. More information can be found on the museum’s website.

Top Things to do in St. Thomas

Ever since I visited St. Thomas on my honeymoon a few years back, it’s become one of my favorite Caribbean vacation spots.  Here are my picks for things to do on the island.

1. Ride the Cable Car to Paradise Point: If you’re looking for the best views, take the skyride up to the top of Paradise Point. It’s a little pricey, but the postcard-worthy photos you’ll take of the harbor are worth it. Cable Car

2. Try a Banana Daiquiri: St. Thomas is famous for its banana daiquiris, which consist of bananas, rum and ice. So simple, and so good. The drink is said to have originated at Mountain Top in the 1940s. You can find them all over the island, and they are not to be missed.

3. Snorkel at Coki Beach: This beach is known for having the best snorkeling on this island, with clear, blue waters that are filled with tropical fish. Make a day out of it and visit  the adjoining Coral World Ocean Park beforehand.Coki Beach

4. Shop for Jewels in Charlotte Amalie: Main Street is full of shops selling diamond and gem stone jewelry in all shapes and sizes. With the duty free shopping, plus the fact that most places are willing to haggle on the price, you’re bound to find a deal.

A Short Stay in Antibes, France

AntibesDuring this month’s Eurotrip, we had the pleasure of visiting Antibes, France. My husband and I were on a week long tour of the south of France, and since we heard good things about Antibes, decided to make it a stop on our trip.

Getting to Antibes: Nestled between Cannes and Nice, Antibes is located on a prime stretch of the Côte d’Azur. Because we were traveling through the smaller towns of Provence in the previous days, we would be arriving by rental car. After a few hours of driving, we made it to the coast in the late afternoon. Traffic slowed the closer we got, with cars backing up as we neared the exits for Cannes. We found our exit and then headed through the town’s many narrow, one way streets en route to our hotel. Thankfully we had our GPS!

Where To Stay: After finding a great deal on the Marriott website, we chose to stay at the AC Hotel Ambassedeur Antibes – Juan les Pins. The first thing I noticed when walking in was the I was the sleek, modern look of the lobby. We were greeted by the friendly and helpful staff, checked in, then ventured up to our room. We were kindly upgraded to one of the hotel’s suites, which could not have been any better. The room included a living area and separate bedroom, along with a huge terrace. Lounging on the terrace’s cafe table was nice, and we could see the ocean at the end of the street. The spacious bathroom offered a separate bathtub and shower, along with double sinks (how often do you see that at a European hotel?). One of the most functional features the suite provided was a very large, open “closet” space that was able to comfortably hold all our luggage and keep it out of the way. It came in handy! We made sure we made use of the hotel’s amenities – mainly the indoor and outdoor pool, plus the sauna.  The location in Juan les Pins was also great. The beach was a ten minute walk from the hotel, with a park, shops and restaurants along the way. Lobby hotel suite living room terrace

pool pool

Where To Eat: We were celebrating our anniversary and wanted to visit a nice restaurant for the occasion. The hotel had great dining options, and their restaurant Fushi looked like one of the best. We arrived for dinner and chose a table outside. The meal started with a glass of local Provençal rosé, which was one of many enjoyed on the trip. We took the server up on his suggested meal, which started with a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and goat cheese. Next up was the main course of duck. I’ll admit this was my first time trying duck, and I was a little nervous. It actually was very good, as was the accompanying vegetable tart. Dessert was a fresh fruit tart consisting of strawberries, apricots and cream. It was so good that my husband ate it all, which was quite the feat considering that he usually refuses to eat any fruit. The meal went down as one of the best we had our whole trip.

Fushi salad dinner dessertSadly, we were only able to spend less than 24 hours in Antibes, since we planned to get to Nice the next day. We just missed their annual Jazz festival by about a week! Although it was short, I’m glad I got to experience a small part of the town and its beautiful beaches.

The Best Things I Ate in Barcelona

It’s been less than a week since I returned from a few days in Barcelona, and I’m already missing the food! Like any good foodie, I had to try all the specialties of Spanish cuisine that Barcelona had to offer.  Here are some of the photos I took as I ate my way through Barcelona.

Paella: I HAD to get paella when in Barcelona, and the serving we found at a beachfront restaurant in Barceloneta did not disappoint. Shrimp, mussels calamari and clams…so good. Paella

Sangria: One of my summer drinks of choice is white sangria. Sadly, I did not find white sangria on any menus in Barcelona, but good ‘ol red was always available. I also discovered my new favorite thing, cava sangria. Sparking wine is wonderful. So is sangria. Mix it together and it’s the like the best of both worlds.Sangria

Jamón: Ham and ham and more ham. Jamón serrano and jamón Iberico. (What’s the difference? Find out here.) It’s everywhere. There are whole stores dedicated to it. My husband is obsessed with this delicacy, so needless to say we ordered it a lot. barca7 barca2

Tomato Bread: This is no ordinary bread. Catalan tomato bread, or pa amb tomàquetconsists of crunchy bread rubbed with tomatoes and olive oil. This local specialty is served with most meals, which is good because it’s super addicting!Tomato Bread

Sweets: Flan. Chocolate croissants. Crema catalana. All amazing. And one of the most unique treats I found was a churro donut. Yes. I combined it with my morning espresso and I couldn’t have been happier. churro