Kate Spade sale with lots of travel goodies ends tonight! Just a few days after I learn that I’ll be traveling to Mexico City in the next couple months. Coincidence? I think not. If only the Playing Hooky bag was available…
The cross-body bag feels right for museums. This necklace may be coming home with me, too. And the casual skinny wallet that’s perfect for tossing in a bigger day bag with my camera, sliding into the cross-body with my museum guides and little memories (napkins, matchbooks, tickets, etc.) or carrying by itself for an evening out!
Excited to start planning my visit to the beautiful country of Mexico in the next few weeks!
(links are to the sale .. which expires in 4 hours. that’s probably annoying. sorry. hopefully I’ll update them later this week!)
Earlier this summer Leo and I took a quick one day trip into the mountains to meet with some friends from Chicago. The cabin we stayed in was perfect. A family cabin built by the family in the 1970s was the perfect backdrop for s’mores by the fire and watching the moon come up over the evergreens. Absolutely wonderful for a quick run out of the city.
After we got in, we grilled up burgers, hot dogs and corn while sipping on ice cold beers and laughing with old friends. A needed taste of something slower for sure. Until the next time I’m in the mountains, this is what’ll I’ll be thinking of.
We found The Hotel of South Beach for our long weekend in Miami and couldn’t have been happier. A boutique, art deco hotel one block off the ocean with a perfect rooftop pool? Perfect.
The rooms aren’t big – boutique art deco means small – but gorgeous, fully adequate and very Miami feeling. The rest of hotel was magical as well. Even more so, the service was mind-blowing. The guys at the desk, the bell hop, the valet, the other guys in the lobby — all went out of their way to take care of us.
Miami isn’t known for its service, but these guys were impeccable. I call them “guys” because they were literally all guys and joked with Leo about having the guts to wear a Cavaliers jersey in Heat-country, made sure I never lifted a bag on my own, held doors and shot the shit with Leo at every chance they had. Loved them.
This kind of service isn’t midwestern hospitality – it didn’t feel coached or like it was expected. It was almost an unspoken bond between Leo and the staff, which I didn’t need to be in on, but they all were. The team at the Hotel of South Beach treated us like royalty and their old friends at the same time. Perfection. The service alone would draw 5 stars from us, but add in the room, bathroom, pool and reserved chairs on the beach? Is more than 5 stars even possible?
Possibly the best part? Roof top pool overlooking the ocean that never had more than five people on the deck, a bar and cabanas for sipping cocktails and towels brought to you as needed. Of course, I forgot to take even mobile pictures of the pool or the hotel. Oh well, you get the gist.
Following dinner at the delicious Havana 1957, we headed to meet with a friend of Leo’s from high school and his girlfriend. We went to their apartment complex – equal to a resort in my eyes, with the views and the pools (yes, plural) of the nicest resorts – and partied late into the night. Meeting folks I can only describe as classic Miami – models (yes, really) and entrepreneurs – was a blast and relaxing on a patio overlooking the beautiful city and the water couldn’t be beat!
While we were leaving, our friends suggested heading back to the beach to enjoy the sunrise and breakfast back on the side of the island where our hotel was. We had a romantic morning goofing around on the beach, watching the sun come up, wading into the ocean and watching as the city slowly woke up before we’d even gone to bed!
I dream of one day going to Cuba, but due to some, ahem, restrictions, it isn’t happening anytime soon. My May visit to Miami, almost a celebration of our engagement, only fueled that desire even more!
One of my favorite evenings of the trip started on Espanola Way on South Beach. The strip of restaurants has everything you can imagine, but we landed at Havana 1957 at the suggestion of our wonderful hotel staff. Our wish was for authentic Cuban cuisine without venturing too far from where we were staying.
They suggested reservations. We ignored, not wanting to commit without scoping the place first. But the enormous smile of the hostess and her warm welcome pulled us right into this open air Cuban restaurant. All the wait staff, dressed in white and red, sauntered around the crowded, though not overly so, restaurant, bar and patio with a rhythm that my Anglo ancestry will never afford me. Bummer.
The staff humored me with the assumption that I spoke Spanish (my recently colored dark brown hair and hispanic fiance may have helped my case, but I think they were just being kind) and Juan Carlo, our waiter, charmed us completely. At his suggestion, we each ordered a standard Cuba Libre with a selected rum. With real Coke in a glass bottle poured over a tasty rum, I was sold before even eating dinner!
Alas, we were there to eat. I was craving seafood being so close to the ocean from land-locked Denver, but Leo wanted red meat. I ordered the Pescada a la Plancha, again at Juan Carlo’s suggestion, and was not disappointed. Fresh food with light flavors absolutely hit the spot on a hot evening on South Beach. The dish comes with a side salad, but I recommend swapping it for the black beans which are absolutely incredible.
Leo chose the Churrasco a la Cubana, a flank steak with grilled onions, white rice and black beans. It is amazing what the chef makes white rice and black beans taste like. Words would fail me, and disappoint the chef so I won’t try.
Anyways, the restaurant was a perfect dinner out, and we finished it with a walk up and down Espanola Way before heading out on the town for a Friday in South Beach.
Back in May, I had the chance to visit Miami with the love of my life for a luxurious three day weekend. What a treat!
I flew in to Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday night, Leo scooped me up and we stayed downtown (in the Brickell neighborhood).
Friday, I was on my own to explore the downtown area for a few hours, walk around the business district and explore a harbor on Biscayne Bay. I started the morning with my first shellac mani (amazing!) at a little french/spanish salon. Then, it was all wandering, saying hi to the creatures on the fire hydrants and dreaming about living on the ocean.
We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday on South Beach and it was an absolute dream! A few snapshots below, but highlights included a dinner at Havana 1957 (top ten meal and cocktail memories of my life, more to come on this one), afternoons on South Beach looking at beautiful, exotic people and fashion, and our amazing art deco boutique hotel — the Hotel of South Beach.
More pictures to come this week, but just going through these gives me butterflies. Miami is one of the most incredible places I’ve been, and hearing multiple different languages, trying different ethnic foods and lounging at the pool – doesn’t get much better! Throw in fresh mojitos and I’d call Miami a ten.
Here’s a few that I’ve been to – and highly recommend:
I ended up in Bilbao, Spain visiting the Guggenheim Museum when a planned bus trip to Barcelona was full and Bilbao was next on the ticket list. One of my favorite travel blunders with the most spectacular results! Same trip that landed me in Saint Jean de Luz. Lucky girl, I am, in all my terrible planning.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour is gold. I’ve been on it multiple times as a local to the city and still learned something new every time. The walking tour is also worth a look if you can.
While I haven’t attended the Cherry Blossom festival in Japan, I’ll happy add a visit to Japan as a top recommendation any day! If you do visit, try to visit Lake Biwa’s stellar freshwater aquarium (say hi to the massive salamanders for me!) and then checkout the Birdman Rally. Students from the polytechnic colleges build flying machines and they are incredible. This isn’t like Red Bull’s Flutag where silly machines launch off a platform. This is real science and its inspirational!
I’m going to spend the evening dreaming about my favorites on this travel wishlist. Tell me which are your favorites? Have you been to any of these places?
I spent one wonderful day in St. Jean de Luz in the Basque region of France three years ago, and since that day, I can’t get the place out of my head. When a place speaks to one’s heart so loudly, it should be added to the re-visit list, right?
While traveling in the Basque region of Spain, we took a bus up the coast and into France and landed here. Accidentally, and luckily, our stop was during the festival of Saint Jean, the patron saint of the city. A magical experience indeed as the entire city dresses exclusively in black and red, parades through the town and celebrates its history with a full band playing music. Had we not been wearing black dresses, we would’ve stuck out as being as lost as we were.
Visit the town in early June (check for exact dates at the Saint Jean de Luz tourism site) and spend a few days enjoying the calm pace of life, wonderful music, and kind shop owners. Be sure to enjoy the light sea food dishes which blend traditional French cuisine with that of a fishing port town. Stroll up and down the streets with little planning for the best experience, but be sure to spend a few hours on the luxurious beaches to truly experience a bit of a European vacation.
In my 26 short years, I’ve been blessed. Incredibly so. I’ve breathed in the air of three continents. Attempted (and graciously failed) to speak four languages with local people. Countless traditions and holidays. But most of all, I’ve been hit with a long-standing case of wanderlust. A few places I’ve been are below. Enjoy.