You’re going to fly, so why not be stylish when doing it, right? Passport holders are a great way to show your personality, plus they provide protection for all the wear and tear that comes with traveling. These covers are not only stylish, but also functional, and are sure to add a little touch of luxury to your next trip.
Brazil is a paradise for tourists – sandy beaches, brilliant sunshine and hospitable locals helping to create a wonderful atmosphere the year round. But it’s not just the sights and scenery you should absorb on your trip to the South American powerhouse. The party vibe is one to make the most of too, and with plenty of amazing cities in which to let your hair down, you’ll love the opportunities available.
Whether you’re in Brazil as part of a gap year or visiting for just a few weeks, welcome to the party capital of the world, as described by Made Man. From the carnivals, to the top quality nightclubs, take a look at four of the very best cities in Brazil for cutting shapes on the dancefloor.
Rio de Janeiro
Where else could we possibly start than Brazil’s second largest city and with it, the party-lover’s paradise? It’s not just the tourists who find themselves awake until the very early hours of the morning, but the locals too. Plus, to really soak in the terrific vibes – head down to Ipanema Beach to drink caipirinhas and watch the sunset in all its magnificence. Don’t worry, you’ll probably see it rise too, albeit with slightly blurred vision.
If you find yourself in Florianopolis you’re in for a treat. Whilst it may be a popular resort for Brazilians and Argentinians, it remains relatively unknown to the rest of the world. But that doesn’t mean the party atmosphere is anything but fantastic. Enjoy the local Sertaneja music or head to the Confraria club – the hours will simply roll by. There are day parties to consider too – with P12 a popular location for all round the clock festivities.
Perhaps known more for its Amazon Forest and extreme temperatures, the city of Manaus doubles up as a superb party place too. With plenty of memorable bars and clubs to whet your appetite, there really is something for everyone. And as you’re in Brazil, why not listen to Samba music all night long at the Lappa Bar? Friday is live music night, so definitely the time to really indulge yourself in true Brazilian culture. It’s not just the dancing you’ll enjoy – with happy hour offering a buffet and two beers to really get you going.
Where could we possibly end our journey of Brazil, than with the country’s capital? And with Sao Paulo itself, you have one of the few places on Earth where you’ll wake up at 4am and party ‘til 4pm. Not even Rio can keep up. And you have an amazing choice of partying locations in the city too, with megaclubs able to hold thousands of revelers. There are also some upscale venues , including the ultra-exclusive Bar Secreto – boasting a lineup of DJ-spun electropop and MPB.
And there you have it. Heading to Brazil in the next few weeks or months? Then make sure to check out these four party hotspots and make the most of your tour through this amazing country.
I just got back from a weekend trip to New York, and as any one who’s visited New York City knows, a few days is just not enough. I lived in NYC for a couple of years after college, so going back is always a thrill. I was in town for the wedding of an old friend, and I couldn’t have been more excited to be back. Fall is my favorite season there, so it was the perfect weekend to visit. The early September weather brought a little chill to the air, which is exactly how I like it. I was looking forward to catching up with friends, visiting a few restaurants and taking in the liveliness of the city.
I arrived Friday afternoon, and after settling in at my friend’s apartment, my first night in NYC was underway with drinks at Gallow Green atop the McKittrick Hotel. Upon entering, you’re transported to a 1920’s speakeasy, then lifted to the top floor via elevator. This Chelsea rooftop is covered in greenery and flowers to the ceiling – it really is an oasis above the city. The drinks were pricey and it was a crowded Friday night, but it was all worth it. We then headed to Cookshop, near the High Line, for dinner. A yummy meal of oysters, homemade pasta, wine and girl talk capped off a good night.
The next morning was wedding day, so the day started early with a visit to Drybar for some pampering. This was my first Drybar experience, and I was impressed with the atmosphere, tunes and complimentary mimosas. I left with a fabulous blowout and was ready for brunch at Sarabeth’s. This brunch institution’s eggs benedict were a perfect start to the day, even if we did have to wait awhile to be seated. A little shopping and a pit stop at the must-visit Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side (try the cookies or cinnamon brioche!) made for a solid afternoon.
Saturday’s night wedding took place at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. We were lucky enough to get the chance to explore the gardens before the ceremony. It’s 250 acres of tropical flowers and native plants, and I was surprised that such a large place existed in the middle of the Bronx! Beautiful weather made for a beautiful outdoor ceremony, and everything was perfect, from the food to the drinks, and everyone had a blast dancing on the outdoor dance floor.
The next morning I was off to Laguardia for a flight back west. As with every visit to New York, I wish I could have stayed longer.
The Olympics are officially underway and all eyes are on the host country, Brazil. Our plans of heading south to see the action in person fell through, but the country still tops my list of places to visit. I’ve always been drawn to the beaches and friendliness that is talked about about so much. There’s so much to see, and with close friends who are Brazilian, I hope to make it there in the next few years with our friends as tour guides! In the mean time, I’ll just have to plan my trip and wait. Here are the activities on my Brazil bucket list.
Explore Rio de Janeiro
There’s so much to see in Rio. On my to do list is taking the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, climbing up to see the famous Cristo Redentor statue up close and personal, walking the wave-patterned sidewalks of Copacabana and sitting on Selaron’s steps.
How beautiful is the colorful colonial architecture of Bahia’s capital?
Lounge on a Florianopolis Beach
Floripa is one of the most popular resort towns for a reason. Its beaches are said to be some of the best in Brazil.
Take in Iguazu Falls
Like Niagara Falls, but bigger and better. The majority of the falls may lie in Argentina, but the views from Brazil’s side still look breathtaking.
Live the Fancy Life in Sao Paulo
The chic Hotel Fasano. The high end stores on Rua Oscar Freire. The fabulous rooftop of the Hotel Unique. Sao Paulo has everything you need for luxury living.
What cities or experiences are on your Brazil bucket list?
Summer has arrived! Like a lot of Americans, my summer agenda usually includes a trip to Florida. So I headed south to the beaches of Florida to visit family, eat good seafood and, of course, relax on the beach. While a bathing suit and shades are staples, my packing list has definitely expanded now that there’s a baby in tow for my trips! Here’s what’s in my bag.
Sunglasses: Classic aviators like Oliver Peoples’ “Benedict” sunglasses are always in style, and polarized versions keep my light eyes safe in the sun.
Weekender Tote: My Fold-Over Weekender bag from Thirty-One Gifts is large enough to hold all my stuff, is super durable, plus comes in a cute pattern to boot!
Beach Towel: I found a stylish striped version from Serena & Lily that includes fun tassel accents. Perfect for long afternoons lounging on the sand!
Babyganics Outdoor Essentials Duo: One of my favorite baby brands, Babyganics, sells a mineral based sunscreen that’s safer for little ones. It protects against the strong Florida sun and comes in convenient travel sizes.
One reader will have a chance to win their very own tote, courtesy of Thirty-One. It comes in 5 patterns and can even be personalized! Just comment below with what you always pack in your beach tote and you’re entered to win. Good luck!
During a trip to the South of France, I knew I had to visit Monaco. I had heard so much about the glitz, the yachts, the casino. After stays in Antibes and Cannes, we ended up in Nice for the tail end of our trip. With Monaco a mere 20 kilometers away, I had to check it out for myself.
My husband and I set aside a day to make the short trip east. We would head out in the morning, spend the afternoon and early evening in Monaco, and head back to Nice before dark. With only an afternoon to spare, we tried not too pile too much on the agenda. There were a few items on the must-see list – the Prince’s Palace and the Monte Carlo Casino (of course!).
After a little research, I found that the most recommended way to get to Monaco is by public transportation. At less than 2 euros, the cheapest options are buses that run frequently throughout the day. Other than a private helicopter, it’s also the easiest way to get there! We caught the bus from the Port of Nice, which is beautiful in its own right. The journey included winding cliffside roads that, while frightening at times, were some of the most picturesque views I’ve ever seen. We passed the seaside towns of Villefranche and Eze (also worth seeing) and 30 minutes later, we were in Monaco.
We departed at the 1st stop in Monaco, named Place d’Armes. This seemed to be the best starting location, since it’s right near Monaco-Ville. We started by climbing up Le Rocher, or “The Rock.” From here you not only get amazing views, but also can venture to the Palace and the Oceanographic Museum. We were able to catch the changing of the guard, and select rooms are even also open to the public. A few photo ops at Port Hercule at the base and we were off to explore on foot.
Along with cafes and shopping, I promised my husband we would fit in a few of his destinations. So from the Port we ventured to a museum housing the Prince’s private car collection. While I’m not a car fan, it was pretty cool to see the personal collection of Prince Rainier’s. There were notable vehicles dating back over the last 100 years or so, and at only $10 to enter, it was a economic way to spend an hour. Next on his list was the famous hairpin turn of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. It’s nestled in front of the Fairmont Hotel, and the course even meanders underneath the property. After checking this out, we accidentally discovered a nice garden, with beautiful greenery and a few Botero statues.
The next stop was the famous casino. Monaco actually has quite a few casinos, if that’s your thing, but the Monte Carlo Casino is by far the most well known. It’s situated right in the heart of Monte Carlo and you’ll know you’re in the right place by the mobs of tourists taking photos and the Lamborghinis parked out front. There was surprisingly no dress code in the afternoon, and although not as large as I thought it would be, it was definitely grandiose. Splurge on a few glasses of €20 champagne and take in the old school glamour.
Dinner in Monte Carlo and lots of people watching later, we were ready to make the short trip back to Nice. I would have loved to have seen the Jardin Exotique and the cathedral atop Le Rocher, but there was just not enough time. Monaco warrants an overnight stay, and the Hotel Hermitage and Metropole are calling my name for a return visit!
How to get from Nice to Monaco: Catch bus #100 (labeled Monaco/Menton) from Place Messina, the Port or other stations in Nice. Regional TGV trains also will get you there, although you’ll miss the amazing scenery along the way!
As I write this I’m sitting in McCarran airport waiting to go home after a few days in Vegas. I have quite a few trips to Sin City under my belt, but this visit was unique. A friend was visiting the States from Australia, and proposed that we meet in Las Vegas for a few days of gambling, pool time and catching up. We jumped at the chance for a weekend getaway, however, our 6 month old baby would be in tow. I know, who takes a baby to Las Vegas? I was somewhat hesitant to hit the Strip with a child since I don’t remember it to be the most child-friendly town, but after reading other parents’ stories online, I decided to go for it.
Pre-baby, my girlfriends and I would stay somewhere trendy like the Cosmopolitan. Although I had a few ideal hotel preferences, availability and price won out and we ended up at Paris. Its central location made it a great home base to explore the Strip, plus the francophile in me loves the faux-French decor. There’s a nice pool, the service was wonderful and the hotel’s buffet included unlimited mimosas. Can’t complain here!
Yes, it is called ‘Sin City,’ but it wasn’t as crazy as I remember from my younger days. I saw a surprising amount of kids and strollers during the day. Families dined alongside 20-somethings. Most people were accommodating, and we often had doors held open for us. There were a few drawbacks. We learned the hard way that babies are not allowed in casinos, so my husband and I had to gamble in shifts. We also learned that there are few elevators along the Strip, so getting from point A to B took a lot longer than planned.
I’ll have to head back sans baby to see Britney, a Cirque show or hit the clubs, but overall bringing a baby to Sin City can be done. If you’re thinking about taking your little one to Vegas, these kid-friendly hotels top my list of places to stay.
Bellagio: We visited this hotel quite a few times during our stay. The hotel would be a great pick for families because of its location and free attractions like the Bellagio Fountains and botanical garden.
Four Seasons: It’s worth heading off the Strip for a Four Seasons. You’ll get all the amenities you would expect, from welcome gifts for children to baby toiletries to complimentary use of cribs and highchairs upon request. There’s also no casino, which makes this property more relaxing than being in the middle of all the action.
Venetian: I stayed at the Venetian a few years back for business and loved it. The best part is that its an all-suite property, along with The Palazzo next door. Each suite comes complete with a separate living area, which means lots of room for kiddos. The upscale Grand Canal Shops are also a great way to spend a few hours.
I fell in love with Barcelona the first few hours I was there. This Spanish city has it all in my opinion – culture, good food, nightlife and the ocean. It’s a world class city, and there is so much to see. Whether you’re a first timer or visit the city often, there are certain experiences you have to check off the Barcelona bucket list.
1) AN AFTERNOON AT PARK GUELL
Enter Park Guell and you’re transported into an almost magical world filled with tile mosaics, colorful towers and beautiful gardens. Tourists and locals alike could spend a whole afternoon here just wandering through the park.
2) A GREAT SPANISH MEAL
This city really is a foodie’s paradise. From paella to jamón ibérico, there’s really nothing better than indulging in a few tapas while sipping cava.
3) GETTING TO KNOW GAUDI
Barcelona is synonymous with Antoni Gaudí. You can’t visit the city without taking a tour of his most famous works – La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and of course, Sagrada Familia.
4) LUNCH FROM BOQUERIA
This food market is one of the world’s best, and you can find vendors selling everything from fruit to fish to cheese here. It’s a great place to stop for a bite while out and about.
5) CATCHING THE SHOW AT MONTJUIC
It may sound a little cheesy, but the fountains are fun way to spend a summer evening. It’s extremely popular, so get there early to find a seat.
6) STROLLING BARCELONETA BEACH
A quick subway ride takes you right to the Mediterranean, where you can hang out by the water, people watch or get some seafood at one of the many restaurants that line the boardwalk.
London holds a special place in this traveler’s heart, since it was the first international city I visited. I’ve since been back on a few more occasions, and have even gone with first time visitors. One of my initial thoughts about the city? It’s huge! Having lived in New York, I was used to the small, compact island of Manhattan. London is much more spread out! London is one of those cities, like New York, where you can live for years and still not see everything. So where’s a first time visitor to start? If you only have a week (or even just a few days) to explore, here are the top sights to check off the list.
Buckingham Palace: The Queen’s official residence is grand, opulent and the site of so much history. Try and catch the changing of the Guard, which happens daily at 11:30. You’ll have to navigate the crowds, but seeing the pomp and circumstance of it first hand is worth it. Finish with a leisurely stroll down the mall.
Tower of London: This former palace, prison and fortress has a colorful history as the site of executions and wild animals. You’ll be in awe of the Crown Jewels, and marvel at the fabulously dresses Beefeaters patrolling the grounds. Certain spots offer clear views of Tower Bridge that make wonderful photo ops.
Tate Galleries: London has some of the best museums in the world, and art lovers like me can take advantage of 2 FREE galleries right along the riverbank.Start at Tate Britain for British art and sculpture, then head to the Tate Modern to see works by contemporary artists like Monet, Warhol and Dali. Hop on the Tate Boat and enjoy a ride along the Thames while shuttling between the museums.
London Eye: Yes, it’s touristy and expensive, but it’s also one of the best ways to get an amazing 360 degree view of the city.
Kensington Palace: Any Royal watcher knows this is the home of Will and Kate, which instantly makes it intriguing.Buy a ticket and you’ll be able to tour the palace’sstate rooms, exhibits andgardens. If time allows, indulge in afternoon tea at The Orangery for a quintessential British experience.
I fell in love with Barcelona the moment I arrived. I always say it’s one of the cities I could see myself living in. If you haven’t been, you need to put it on your list of places to visit. Here’s why.
1) The Food: Paella, tapas, sangria, jamon. You’ll eat well in Barcelona and the food really needs no explanation.
2) The Architecture: The city’s most famous son, Gaudi, left his mark with gems like Casa Battlo, La Pedrera and Sagrada Familia. The well known attractions coupled with the city’s Catalan architecture make it one of the most unique in Europe.
3) The Culture: The lively city is brimming with music, art and museums. Trips to Barcelona are not complete without a visit to the Museu Picasso and a night spent watching the fountain of Montjuïc at night.
4) The Beach: There are few destinations that boast a major city and a beach. Barcelona has the best of both worlds. Barceloneta beach is a fun way to spend an afternoon people watching and eating great seafood.
5) The Shopping: You can find great stores along the Passeig De Gracia and Diagonal streets, known as the Barcelona shopping line. The city is also home to homegrown brands like Custo Barcelona, Desigual and Mango. Some of my favorite items to pick up are crafts like handpainted sangria pitchers and traditional ceramic tiles. And there’s always one of the best food market in Europe, La Boquiera.
Can you believe it’s almost March? 2016 is well underway and the new year brought new hotels to get excited about. From Florida to the Middle East, your spring plans should include these recently-opened gems.
Those looking for a spring break getaway can find a casual, vintage Miami vibe at The Hall. This boutique hotel opened late last year in a prime South Beach location, is pet friendly and houses an eatery from Spike Mendelsohn that Top Chef geeks like me will love.
The highly anticipated February opening of this boutique hotel brought a new place to stay near Boston Common. Set in a restored pre-war building, the Godfrey is a sophisticated home base when in Boston for business or pleasure.
The lux brand is bringing its signature posh accommodations to Qatar’s capital. This recently opened property features guest rooms that offer views of the Persian Gulf, marble bathrooms equipped with soaking tubs, and a beautiful curved pool to cool off from the high desert temps.
Not sure where you live, but here in the Midwest we’re still stuck with the tail end of winter weather. Spring cannot come soon enough! With another month or so before it hits, an escape down south sounds amazing right about now. Spring break, anyone?
An ocean breeze, sunshine and cocktails are the perfect cure for the winter blues. Florida is always an easy choice for a beach getaway, since it’s just a quick flight away. I always need to be sure to bring my necessities when packing for a beach vacation. Sunnies, a cute tote and reading material are always in my bag. Here’s what I’d take on my trip:
The bag’s all packed, but one of the most important parts is finding the right place to stay! City center for nightlife? Oceanfront condo for beach access? HomeAway helps travelers with their vaca with over 1 million listings to pick from. Miami to Tampa to Destin, they’ve got Florida rentals covered. The company also has prime properties in the Florida panhandle area for those looking to relive their college spring break days in places like Panama City. There’s plenty of rooms to choose from – everything from high rise condos to beachfront bungalows that can fit a whole family. How beautiful do these places look? Check out all their offerings at HomeAway.
‘Tis the season for holiday lights, carols and Christmas markets. Visiting Europe during the holidays has always been on my bucket list. Holiday markets and cities all lit up in lights are sure to get anyone in the holiday spirit. While I’d love to book a last minute trip to Europe, I don’t think it will happen this year. There’s always next year, right? Here are some of the places that do Christmas to the fullest.
One of my favorite cities seem to get even more amazing during December when Christmas lights glimmer and winter festivals pop up all over the city. There’s the hanging decorations above Oxford Street and ice skating under the London Eye, plus festive events at Southbank Centre and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Germany knows how to celebrate the holidays, as Christmas markets can be found all over the country. Cologne has some of the best, with numerous markets where guests can get in the holiday spirit while sipping mulled wine and enjoying traditional German holiday treats. Alter Markt is set in front of the city’s Cologne Cathedral, making for a magical sight.
The Alsace region oozes charm any time of the year, but comes even more alive during the holidays. Strasbourg was reportedly the home of the first Christmas market in 1570, and today the Christkindelsmarik market is the largest in Europe.
The famous Grand Place gets even more beautiful during the holidays when a huge tree lights up the plaza. Christmas markets and an ice skating rink in the center of town keep the festivities going. Stay at the elegant Dominican Hotel for an easy walk to all the action.
I don’t know about everyone else, but one of the many reasons I travel is for food. I just love food. I know there are others like me who love to try new things that you can’t find at home. I like to call it “foodie travel.” Plus we all know that one of the best ways to really experience a culture is through its cuisine.
So when I visited Belgium for the first time, I had to get my hands on all the culinary treats that the country is known for. Did I mention that I was pregnant during this trip? That meant I was hungry A LOT, and Brussels did not disappoint. Thankfully my friend Lindsay was with me to share in the fun and help me satisfy my cravings.
We arrived in Brussels in the late morning from Paris. After settling into our hotel, the Dominican, we were ready for lunch. First item on our wish list? Waffles! When in Belgium, right?
Did you know there are two types of Belgian waffles? Yep. Liege waffles and Brussels waffles. If you want to expand your knowledge of waffles, check out this post about the differences. We passed lots of stalls serving fresh waffles covered in everything from fruit to chocolate to whipped cream. I’d have to say the best waffle I ate in all of Belgium was a chocolate covered one I picked up at Maison Dandoy.
Chocolate shops are everywhere you turn in Brussels. You’ll even see employees in the windows mixing the chocolate by hand. Wanting to continue on our sugar high, we stopped in just about every chocolate shop we passed. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate covered pralines, cherries, caramels…you can find it all. Pierre Marcolini and Mary were some of my favorites.
We continued on our tour of Brussels, taking the afternoon to explore and shop. When dinner time rolled around, we headed to the Grand Place. The central square is lined with restaurants, all overlooking the historic buildings. Just about all the restaurants I saw offered one of my favorite dishes – moules frites.
Another thing that’s a must for any Brussels visit? Belgian beer. Being pregnant and all, I stayed away from the alcoholic beverages and lived vicariously through Lindsay. Stores sell beer by the bottle that you can drink on the street, and there’s no shortage of breweries and bars to visit. We made a stop at the well known Delerium, which boasts over 2,000 types of beer.
While I had no shortage of fine foods during our short time in Brussels, I made sure to pick up some goodies to take home too. Check out my picks for the best foodie items to take home from Belgium here.
As someone who loves to travel, I appreciate any excuse to do so, even for work. My job recently took me to Pittsburgh, which included a stay at the Fairmont. I’m a longtime fan of the Fairmont brand, having stayed at their hotels in Monte Carlo and Chicago, so I was excited to add one more to the list.
The Property: I immediately liked the clean, open lobby. It was full of modern furniture, with a lounge that made for a convenient spot cocktails. One of the things I loved about the hotel is that there was artwork everywhere you turned. I was told the sculptures and paintings are all from local artists, and there were even a few Warhol prints on hand. The hotel also has a resident canine ambassador named Edie that you can take on walks around the city. How fun is that?
Accommodations: The room was what you would expect of a Fairmont – spacious and luxurious, with amenities like comfy robes, high-end bath products and a keurig machine. I was given a room on a higher floor, which offered great views of the downtown skyline and the river. Floor to ceiling windows and binoculars were a nice touch. I was pleasantly surprised with the bed. It was amazingly comfortable and made for a great night’s sleep.
Location: The downtown location meant lots of restaurants and bars were nearby. We discovered a great dim sum restaurant called Grit and Grace, and Market Square was a convenient 5 minute walk away for breakfast. We also took in a Pittsburgh Pirates game, which was a short jaunt just over the bridge.
The staff could not have been nicer, and I’d say the hotel is great for business travelers or those visiting for a day to take in a ballgame. I noticed a mix of business travelers, families and even ran into the Atlanta Braves baseball team arriving for a series with the Pirates. Overall a perfect stay, and I would definitely come back if I find myself in Pittsburgh again.
We Have you stayed at a Fairmont? Which location was your favorite?