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Entries in travel (101)

Monday
Dec052011

Out of Africa

It wasn't long ago that I was enjoying the countryside in upstate New York. And to tell you the truth I wouldn't mind going back, except this time a little (well, a lot) further way—South Africa. A breathtaking country retreat, the Babylonstoren is one of the best preserved farms in the Cape Dutch tradition. The days are intentionally unscripted there, leaving guests free to do as they please: stroll out onto the 500-acres farm, see fruit being picked in the orchards, vines being pruned or rather sample some of the excellent wines grown on the slopes all around the Simonsberg—possibly the finest land for wine in Africa. What's not to love about this place? I'm already there in spirit.

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Wednesday
Nov302011

Locally Inspired

For those who love to have a different lodging experience when traveling, this funky hotel is one to consider. Located in a quiet street in the heart of downtown Lisbon, The Lisboanaire Apartments welcome and inspire visitors to discover the traditional and contemporary Portuguese capital and all the small things that make it so special. Local artists and designers lent their unique talents to individually decorate each of the 19 studios and one bedroom apartments, invoking a specific object or place from the surrounding area. The creative direction of the project was overseen by Portuguese architecture and design agency Experimenta, who created a bold, graphic and kooky look to the whole place. The best part: the prices are very affordable starting at 30 euros per person. Who can beat that?

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Tuesday
Nov222011

A New Operatic Star

Paris always has something new and fabulous to offer. When I read about the recent opening of L'Opera Restaurant in the Palais Garnier, I knew right away this was a mandatory stop in my four-day visit to the City of Lights. The project took 136 years in the making, since it was originally part of the "final draft" but never came to completion. Finally, Charles Garnier's dream came a reality when this magnificent space opened its doors this year with an ultra modern design orchestrated by architect Odile Decq. After seeing a phenomenal production of La Source by the Paris Opera Ballet, having dinner here was the perfect compliment to a wonderful evening. Inside, the space is divided into three different areas: the hall, the Martini lounge bar and the mezzanine –all surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling undulating veil of glass. Frankly, it was an absolute treat to dine in a space full of history and with such remarkable contrast between the old and the new. This restaurant is a wonderful addition to what already is an unbelievably breathtaking building.

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Friday
Nov182011

Tastefully Casual

After eighteen days, four cities, four different languages and three currencies, I'm back from my European adventure. Actually, I've been back for a few days, but it has taken me some time to get back into the groove of things. But now, I'm ready to share with you a few treats I discovered. One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is experiencing a city like a native and finding hot and trendy spots frequented by locals. Baldaszti's Grand is one of them: a beautifully styled eatery in Andrássy Avenue, one of Budapest's main tree-lined boulevards where you can find big-name designer shops, the Opera House and several of the city's museums. This lively, cosmopolitan bar and international bistro kitchen is a wonderful place to enjoy an assortment of the world’s leading gourmet products and a wide range of Hungarian specialities with amazingly friendly service. The decor is rather casual with a sophisticated flair. I particularly loved the inventiveness and simplicity of the pendant lights intertwined through branches, and the cozy lounging area on the second floor. It was the perfect spot to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon after hours of walking.

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Thursday
Nov032011

Capturing The Past

Extraordinary in design and unique in character, the Dream Downtown Hotel (located in New York’s Meatpacking District) signals an exciting and imaginative new concept in full-service luxury travel. Frank Fusaro of Handel Architects has gorgeously renovated the iconic Albert C. Ledner building, originally designed in 1966 for the National Maritime Union. While capturing and modernizing the surreal aesthetic that has become synonymous with the Dream hotels brand, the architects preserved the building’s distinct character, including its unique block-like structure and portal windows.

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Saturday
Oct292011

Merging Sensibilities

Yesterday, was a day for walking and more walking. It was about exploring Budapest's many gorgeous neighborhoods and attractions. While strolling through one of trendiest parts of town, I spotted Menza, an úber cool and modish restaurant frequented by a young and hip crowd (and apparently the place to see and be seen). Although its name refers to canteens from the Socialist era, its interior design and cuisine provides a more sophisticated take on the past, fine tuned to match contemporary sensibilities by merging the savoir vivre of modern downtown restaurants with the relaxed atmosphere of Budapest's 1960s coffee bars. The fare was delicious, but the decor and ambiance even more so. It was a mix of 1970's chic with a casual contemporary flair.

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Wednesday
Oct262011

Off To New Horizons

It's official, I'm finally on vacation mode!! After being submerged in projects for the last six months, this evening I'll be embarking on a much anticipated two-week long trip to Easter Europe. I'm crazy excited to be exploring brand new territory and tour three amazingly gorgeous cities like, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. But of course, on our way back we'll be making a mandatory stop in my ultimate favorite European city, Paris, to celebrate the birthday of our dearest friend Josefa. I can't wait to discover all the beautiful and designy treats these places have to offer, and of course, gather plenty of inspiration to share with you. Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging for the next two weeks. I'll be posting as much as I can during the trip, plus I'll be Twittering my way through so you can follow my whereabouts. xo 

Tuesday
Sep272011

Getting In The Mood

A month from today, I'll be embarking on a two-week long trip to three of Europe's most fascinating cities: Budapest, Vienna and Prague. I have always heard wonders about all of them, so I'm really looking forward to exploring everything these capitals have to offer, especially all the great design I'm about to be exposed to. While doing my usual research for fun places to stay in, I came across this ultra cool hotel in Prague's city center. The creation of Czech designers Roman Vrtiska and Vladimir Zak, the Moods Hotel is designed to a T. Everything about it is simply magnificent. I can't stop drooling over the mix of textures, materials, colors and graphics they used throughout the 51-room hotel. From the moment you walk in, Moods offers a unique and welcoming experience to its guests. Their attention to details is just delightful. As part of the quirky design, they came up with the idea of displaying chapters of a famous Czech book everywhere. You can start reading them from the lobby all the way through your bedroom and even the bathroom. If you're lucky to stay in multiple rooms, you might be able to finish reading the whole book. Beautiful design and a love of literature – how cool! How clever is that?

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