Santorini

Santorini

Part two of our mediterranean journey takes us to Santorini. Thus far, our big plan is to rent a Vespa and scoot from one glass of wine to the next while wearing a giant sun hat.

That last part might just be me.

Advice?

Viva Italia!

Italy

I almost can’t believe it, but our 1-year anniversary is just around the corner in September. To celebrate – and because we never took a proper Honeymoon, unless you count that overnight at ye most glamorous Westin in Park City on our drive back to SF – we are taking two weeks off and spending them in the Mediterranean. First stop, ITALY.

Recommendations? Places to stay, eat, and see? If you were landing in Naples and had absolutely nothing else planned yet (ahem) for seven days…what would you do?

Thanks a million

xo

Traveling Well

Travel quote

As everyone’s Summer travel winds down, these quotes seemed wonderfully apt.

Travel is a big part of my career, both as a communications consultant and as a writer/dreamer/observer of life. But it definitely took some time to wrap my head around the fact that life is unspooling all around me, whether I’m at home or not.

At first, traveling so frequently felt like a treat. Then, an exhausting interruption. Finally, I’ve decided the best way to travel both frequently and well is to simply embrace it as part and parcel of my everyday life. I can live my life – all book reading, coffee drinking, running, writing minute of it – whether I’m in my apartment in the San Francisco fog belt or in the heart of London…which, coincidentally, is also probably ensconced in fog. I guess I just love clouds that are low to the ground.

Champers on a plane

The trick is to develop some travel rules, especially for business travel. Here’s what I need to travel well:

1. Always find time to run. If that means at 10pm so I can tire myself out like a hamster on a wheel, or just getting up 20 minutes earlier in the morning, I always find my run.

2. Coffee is a must. Whether I’m in Dallas or Denmark, starting the morning with the ritual of coffee is a way to center myself for the day.

3. Write every day. I write every single day, no matter where in the world I am. Whether it’s a blog post, a snippet of a short story, or some hard hours of planning and research for my novel, writing brings me back to a state of internal-ness that is easy to lose when surroundings are unfamiliar or chaotic.

4. Indulge intelligently. At first, every work trip felt like vacation, and to me , vacation is a free-for-all. A little Tuesday-Thursday rumspringa to indulge in everything. A few headaches and extra LBs later… It’s not worth it. I continue to eat as I normally do (plus or minus a few delicious shared desserts) and instead, indulge by watching an episode of Scandal or going to be at 9pm because there’s no one there to judge. Ha!

What does traveling well mean to you?

PS – a great airplane playlist, and how to blend in while traveling.

Europe Taught Me…

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’ve been, well, everywhere in the past few weeks. Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Nashville! Oh the glamour. If you’ve been to Nashville, you know glamour, amirite?

I am so fortunate to have a job that sends me all over the world, and not just because I love to travel. The experience of seeing new things and checking the box on a new country is, to me, secondary to the things you learn from people in other countries. For example, in France two weeks ago, I learned that even though my French is “making progress” (which is nice person code for “still pretty bad”) I am still nowhere near fluent enough to be ordering things unsupervised. Especially not cocktails. Some cocktails are delicious, while others may or may not taste like mushroom. What is a martini rouge? Still don’t know, and also do not recommend that you order one yourself. Unless you like your drinks like you like your mushrooms: mushroom-esque.

Key learning #1: stick with wine. This is just a life learning, really.

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The other (and probably more important) takeaway from this trip was around spontaneity. I’m a major planner and I love checking things off a list and getting shit done. I haven’t always been this way, but that’s what we’re working with now. Traveling with a colleague who is the complete opposite of that was a wonderful exercise in letting go of planning and fully embracing a wander mentality. Shall we hop on a train to Milan and wander with gelato in hand? Yes. Shall we hop on a train to Zurich and spend hours touching soft things in their opulent department stores? Yes. Would that have made a daily agenda item? No. Am I extremely delighted it happened? YES. Always make time to wander.

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Other things I learned:

. Swiss people are the nicest people in the world. Courteous, friendly, and kind. And with its big city amenities, college town energy, and alpine air, Zurich is the most perfect city in the world. I’m moving.

. Tina Turner also lives in Zurich. This newfound knowledge neither persuades nor dissuades me.

. Fondue makes a great lunch. And snack. And dinner.

. Do not buy the large bottles of interesting beer at the beginning of the day. Rookie move all the way.

. Italians are too cool for you. They are also too cool to explain things to you, so if you want that panini you gotta throw some ‘bows and yell at somebody until you get it. But seriously, jump in there.

. It pays to leave extra room in your carry-on to bring back chocolate.

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Have you been anywhere recently? What did you learn? DO TELL!

Stereotypes

CrossProcessed Photo

Had to laugh when I overheard these snippets in my class in Switzerland:

“The key to life is good footwear” – a French woman

“You can go pretty much everywhere on your bike, no?” – a Swiss woman

“Where did all the lunch go? I would like more of those sandwiches.” – a German woman

Basel

Basel

Of all the places I’ve wanted to go in the world – and there are many – Basel, Switzerland, was never on the list. Not for a lack of wanting, mind you. It’s just that Klosters takes the glitz, Zurich takes the glam, and Zermatt gets whatever is left. Small, unassuming Basel wasn’t even in the periphery.

Luckily for me, the world is a wonderfully mysterious place, and I’m headed to Basel next week! I know very little about this gem of a city and I’d LOVE any recommendations and tips from those of you who’ve been before.

Thank you!

Image via the beautiful blog All Things Lovely

Island of Angels

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As you know, we are working on relaxing. Being zen. Cultivating a more mindful life that is less about status updates and much more about determining – and keeping healthy – the status of relationships and lives.

And in that vein, this Labor Day weekend was a lovely exercise in hunkering down. Settling in. Circling the wagons. Drinking coffee late in bed, binge watching New Girl, reading entire books in a sitting, and going to dinner right around the corner.

And finally exploring the mystical place known as Angel Island.

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Hope your weekend was just as magical.

The Art of Blend

praha

When I was in Prague last month, what struck me about Prague wasn’t so much the pork ribs or the incredible architecture or the flooded river (and accompanying lack of riverside beer gardens, sadly) but the…Americans. Or, as Rick Steves puts it, The Ugly Americans.

My countrymen, I am calling you to the carpet.

I saw white sneakers. I saw a lot of talking on cell phones, LOUDLY, in public. Worst of all, I saw…fanny packs. I also saw some being rude to waiters, some grumbling about why people don’t all speak English, and just a lot of  pushy American behavior. GUYS! Come on. Aren’t we better than that? Though perhaps it’s feeling better than things that got us into this mess to begin with. Hmm.

It’s one thing, I suppose, if you just don’t give a shit about how you’re coming across to people who are nice enough to host you in their country. Some people don’t. That must be freeing for you.

However, there are many people who don’t intend to behave this way. They just haven’t had the pleasure of traveling abroad and simply aren’t acquainted with the European way of going about your business.

If I may, I’d love to add a few tips to the list to help everyone – us and them – have a more pleasurable experience with the Americans:

1. Try to blend in. Instead of sparkling white New Balance sneakers, perhaps you might consider a cushy ballet flat or a well-made loafer or boat shoe? Or, when all else fails, a classic pair of Converse in fresh white or their Euro cousin, Bensimon sneaks. Dr. Scholls inserts are a wonder for tired feet. Investigate.

Nothing screams I AM AN AMERICAN like a windbreaker. Any and all mentions of breaking wind should be reserved for classy fart jokes. Invest in a classic trench coat for rainy days and a light cardigan with a scarf for less cold days when a lighter layer will do. And even if you don’t want to invest, per se (though we talked about that, remember?) you can get a perfectly fine trench coat at the Gap and some colorful pashminas at any open market from Galway to Versailles.

trench

Finally, instead of a fanny pack (I can barely type those two words) have you considered an over the shoulder tote in classic leather? Or maybe a small cross body handbag that’s easy to tuck inside a larger, more unobtrusive bag like the Longchamp le Pliage? Look into it.

2. Learn before you leave. The coffee break podcasts from Radio Lingua are fabulous for learning the romance languages, plus a few others. The episodes are short and you can easily ramp up on greetings, directions, counting and introducing yourself with minimal effort. It’s not important that you have a flawless conversation, but it is important to try.

Chatting

For those who want to take it to the next level, a small guide book with some words and phrases can be an awesome accompaniment to all that gum you have stashed in your purse.

3. Jump in! Get flowers at the local market to spruce up your rented flat or hotel room. Get coffee at the local cafe and chat with the barista as best you can. Shop the local markets, engage the neighbors, and jump into the daily doings of wherever you are. Not only will you make friends, but you’ll have a more authentic experience.

peonies

4. Manners trump all. When everything fails – and it will – and you are lost and feeling like an outsider, make like Kate and smile, smile, smile.

<> on August 19, 2011 in Birmingham, England.

Approach a local, smile, and ask as politely as you can if they speak English and if they can help you. When someone approaches you here, you are often more than happy to help them, right? Same goes overseas, if you are polite. Barging up to someone and yelling about where’s the train station? and where’s the samiches? is not a great tack to take.

With a smile and some consideration, you will often get back on track in no time. Not to mention, serious global traveler brownie points. And possibly even brownies. If you are lucky enough to run into a baker. And then you call me right away.

And if you run into Kate Middleton, hold her down until I get there.

All images sourced via Pinterest

Summer Europe Essentials

Last time I went to Europe – and, actually, every time I’ve ever gone to Europe – it’s been either Spring or Fall. I dislike Summer in general (yes, I know, bring out the pitchforks!) and especially for travel because it’s hot and muggy nearly everywhere but San Francisco. Among the many reasons to love San Francisco: ease of bodily temperature regulation.

Also, it’s crowded, and it’s a well documented fact that when I wander around Europe, I prefer to do it sans people in white sneakers and fanny packs.

To help, I thought it would be fun to pull together a summer Europe packing list. Bonus points if you can fit it all into a carry-on, as I intend to! Please note operative word – intend.

Europe Summer Essentials