Magical Cappadocia

January 15, 2015

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Where to even begin? When I look back at these photos from our trip to Cappadocia, I have a difficult time believing that I was there. We stayed at the Museum Hotel in a beautiful cave room with nooks and small windows. It was so dreamy.

As I get older, I am more interested in doing things that at one time scared me. It’s funny how our sense of fear changes as we age. I’ve been on a hot air balloon before, but never in a place so far from home. While we were in Cappadocia, we awoke one morning at 4am to see the sun rise from high above. The views were so incredible and we were able to weave in and out of the fairy chimneys. There are so many hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia – it’s the thing to do! We went with Butterfly Balloons after reading all the great reviews. It is not cheap, but I’d highly recommend!

A good friend of mine was also in Cappadocia with her boyfriend while we were there. It was so neat to catch up with friends so far from home. It is truly such a small world!

A few tips that will help if you are planning to visit Cappadocia:

Stay in a cave! Where else can you choose from dozens of cave hotels? Unless you are claustrophobic (in which case, I’d suggest not staying in a cave – they are often small with low ceilings), I’d highly recommend staying at a cave hotel. It is such a unique experience!

Rent a car. We rented a car throughout Turkey, and the driving was totally worthwhile. You are able to see so many interesting places that are off the grid (and that you simply stumble upon) when you have your own wheels. Plus, getting lost in foreign countries can be an incredible adventure. One evening on our way to dinner, we got so lost. Like really, really lost. Our friend, Ben, said “hey, everyone, get out of the car.” We did and for a moment, just realized how incredibly unbelievable it was that we were in this gorgeous, untouched place. There we were, lost amidst these incredible limestone structures in the pitch black. It was such a beautiful moment.

Take a hot air balloon ride. I was a bit on the fence, to be honest. It can be super expensive, and I wasn’t sure it would be worthwhile. Looking back, I am so glad that we splurged and went for a hot air balloon ride. If you are ever going to do one, Cappadocia is the place! I’ll never forget that morning when we weaved in and out of the fairy chimneys.

Places you must visit: Don’t leave Cappadocia without visiting the Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, and eating at some delicious, local restaurants. I’ve also heard great things about the underground cities, but we didn’t have the opportunity to visit.

Sit back and enjoy the beauty of it all. Our hotel sat atop a cliff in Uchisar. It was a beautiful village and although it is hard to single out my favorite part of our hotel, the views were definitely at the top of the list. Many afternoons, we would sit by the pool with nargile and just be in awe of the view. At breakfast each morning, we would be serenaded by the singing birds and often saw peacocks and baby turtles on our way back to our room. The wildlife and scenery is just unreal – be sure you take time to just enjoy it.

Whatever you end up doing, you’ll have an incredible time. It is pretty impossible not to!

Istanbul Food Tour

December 30, 2014

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Remember that time I was in Turkey? Yeah, it’s been a long time. I spent a month in Europe this summer – two of those weeks were spent in Turkey. It was amazing and beautiful and warm, and I’m just getting to share it now. Better late than never, right?

Although my friend, Chantal, and I were going to be in Istanbul for a full week, Matt only had several days to experience the city. We wanted to make the most of his time, so we opted to go on a 6-hour food tour spanning the two continents, Asia and Europe. We tasted some really interesting food and learned so much about Turkish culture – through food! I loved the traditional eggplant stuffed with all sorts of yummy things and the traditional menemen, a one-pan egg and pepper dish. Perhaps my most favorite of all, though, was the simit, which is like a delicious sesame bagel. Perfect for dipping and snacking on – wherever and whenever.

We also learned some interesting facts like it is not considered a traditional Turkish breakfast without olives and cheese on the table. In fact, most cheese is consumed at breakfast. Also, parsley was everywhere, which made me happy as it is one of my favorite foods.

In my opinion, food and culture are so connected, and it was so fun to experience an Istanbul food tour. For those that are interested, we also took cooking classes in Vietnam at Green Bamboo and Thailand with A lot of Thai, both of which I would highly recommend!

Maui Getaway

December 29, 2014

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I’ve been in a constant “pinch me” state. I’ve also been in a constant state of catch up. It’s been nice to be living in the moment, moving from one adventure to the next. But, I am also so happy to be home for a moment and catch up on my ever-growing to do list, as well as give a little TLC to this space!

Matt was living out in San Francsico for four months this year, and we took advantage of his temporary west coast roots. One weekend, we went to Maui for a little R&R. Matt was actually under the weather, so we didn’t do too much aside from visit the swim-up bar, have a massage (the best), and eat hawaiian shaved ice. I opted to rent a convertible, because heck, why not.

We stayed at the Four Season Maui at Wailea – it was beautiful. We tend to prefer boutique hotels, but it was fun to stay at a hotel with so many amazing amenities. It was pure relaxation.

Where Horses Run Wild

October 23, 2014

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I have dreamt of going to Montana my whole life. The rugged open spaces, beautiful snow-capped mountains, wild horses and cowboys.

Earlier this month, Matt and I went to the southwestern corner of Montana. It was just as beautiful as I had imagined – the most untouched beauty. There is so much to explore in this part of our country and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the options. Should we stay in Missoula and then road trip to Glacier National Park? What about Whitefish? There is just so much to see. Instead, we decided that we would pick a place and stay put so that we could really take in all the beauty surrounding us.

Once I came across Triple Creek Ranch online, I knew that we had found our little piece of Montana heaven.  It was voted #1 World’s Best Hotel by Travel + Leisure in 2014 (I’m obsessed with T+L). Horse back riding all day, sapphire panning, fly fishing? Sold.

Triple Creek is one of the most peaceful and wonderful places I’ve stayed. We had a huge log cabin to ourselves with a wood-burning fireplace, big hot tub outside, our own little golf cart, and his / hers bathrooms. We definitely felt spoiled.

I hope that someday soon we can return to Big Sky country. I would love to experience this beautiful place with my sisters, that is for sure.

Talmont-sur-Gironde

October 8, 2014

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One of my favorite parts of visiting France is taking time to explore small villages. Talmont is a breathtaking seaside village in the southwestern part of France. There are few things I love more than being on the coast.

A favorite place: St. Emilion

October 6, 2014

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I’ve been going to France since I was a baby. You could say that I’ve been going to St. Emilion since I was a baby, too. My grandfather always jokes that I don’t know it well enough. And perhaps there’s some truth to that? Even if you know a place by heart – could trace and re-trace the steps in the dark – there’s something that time and age and growth do to a place that you know so well. You change, and your experiences, although alike, are never identical. I think perhaps that is what is so special about revisiting the same place every single year – the only variable shifting is me. It’s pretty incredible to be in a place so old, so beautiful and timeless, and realize only how you’ve grown.

If you find yourself in southwestern France, please please please stop by St. Emilion! If you love wine, you’ll be happy. If you love old, beautiful churches, you’ll be happy. If you love traditional macarons, you’ll be happy (these are my favorite). I could go on and on.

St. Emilion is one of the most charming places. Steep cobblestone streets winding down towards the town “center”, where there are several large terraces and the beautiful church. It’s a very expensive – and can be touristy – area, but truly one of the most beautiful. One of my favorite spots (aside from the lookout point) is to go to Les Cordeliers, pop a bottle of bubbles, enjoy macarons, all while taking in the beautiful ruins reminding us that this place has been here long before us.

For more: last summer’s visit to St. Emilion here.

Paris, this time

October 3, 2014

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I knew that I wanted to spend some time alone in Paris this summer. Don’t get me wrong – Paris is amazing with other people. It’s one of the most romantic cities, after all! But, that’s partially the allure of going solo. Although I am an outgoing person, I consider myself to be an introvert. Spending quality reflective time is really important to me – and a necessity. Getting to do that in as incredible of a city as Paris has always been so appealing to me.

The opportunity to do just that arose this summer as I was heading to France a week before Matt. I spent the time walking about the city, sitting on lovely patios enjoying wine, and realizing that as much as I love being in the city by myself, I have grown to prefer it with others. It’s funny how things change as you get older.

Paris is one of my favorite places. It is steeped with history, but always presents new and interesting things to do / see / eat / drink. I love the intersection of old and new. While I have my favorite go-to’s (see my Paris guide here), I wanted to bridge out and try a few new things this summer. Here are a few places I came across that I’d recommend:

Au Passage – Brooklyn meets Paris at this hip restaurant. Make reservations unless you want to sit at the bar, which can be delightful, though cramped. The menu changes daily and is super fresh. Au Passage features inventive takes on some more traditional, comfort foods.

Ladurée - I’ve long enjoyed Ladurée macarons, but had never visited the tea house, until this summer. Although you pay quite a bit more to sit and enjoy, it’s so worth it. Delicious teas (quite the extensive menu), an impressive macaron menu and more desserts than your stomach can handle. There are several Ladurees in Paris. I personally love the Ladurée Bonaparte tea house.

Le Petit Cler – A true Parisian bistro, Le Petit Cler sits on one of my favorite shopping streets, Rue Cler. I love to sit outside and get a front row seat to people passing by on the street. The salads are delicious!

As always, packing a picnic and wandering the city are the best. It’s hard to go wrong in Paris. If you’ve been before, I’d love to know your favorite places. Do tell!

The farm

September 26, 2014

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It goes something like this: fumbling to get out the door – did I feed the dog? do I have my passport? did I turn the iron off?, two hours waiting in the airport, six hours high above floating in the sky, customs and two hours pacing charles de gaulle, three hours sitting on a train, watching the countryside zip on by.

We pull into the train station, and excitedly, I jump onto the platform. Bonjour, Angouleme. I’ve missed you.

Coming back to France is always bittersweet – mostly sweet, but I can’t help to acknowledge the ever-so-slight bitter aftertaste. Like there’s something more? It’s too dynamic a thing to be one-sided. The memories of years before – my sisters and I, young and freshly kissed by life’s innocence, dancing in summer’s light – and the years to come – the unknown – tumble onto the platform beside me as I fumble to grab all my belongings and rush towards the street entrance.

I search the crowds for a familiar face – and there he is, out of the corner of my eye, my sweet, adorable grandfather who has met me on this platform countless times before.

Each time I see Papy, I count my blessings. I am so lucky to have him in my life – and at thirty years old, no less. I realize that this time is precious, real, in movement.

This August, I visited the farm twice. Saying goodbye, but knowing I would return was such a relief. I could leave things unfinished, unsaid, undone – the weightlessness with leaving for just a few days was immense.

In addition to visiting with friends, I was able to spend several days at the farm – just Papy and I. It was easy. Lazy mornings, trips to the market, easy dinners of ratoutille and fried eggs. I would rise in the morning, birds chirping, sun peeking out from behind the clouds.

In the afternoon, we sometimes drove to my grandmother’s house a few towns over. She’s been gone three years now. But her roses are in full bloom. Her house is quiet, untouched. Umbrellas stand in line by the door, waiting to be taken out for a twirl on the next rainy day.

In this moment, despite what’s been and what’s to come, it feels so good to be here.

Coming Home

September 23, 2014

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I’m back home after a month on the road. It’s never easy to untangle the sights and scents, new tastes that you savored, people and moments which you’ll recall for years to come. How do we make sense of the moments we’ve had and the people we’ve met along the way? For me, it takes time. And often more plane rides, where I find my hands catching up to the words as they flow.

One of my favorite things about traveling may come as a surprise. In contrast to a life on-the-go, nothing quite compares to the way you melt into your own bed, how the water pressure in your own shower is just right, and the smell – you know the one – of your own home. The familiarity of your life that sometimes you can only see from a distance. There’s nothing I love more than coming back to the incredible life that I have at home.

This fall is going to be wild. I’m bracing myself so that I can enjoy moments – the simple, the complicated, and the fleeting. Next weekend, I am headed to Montana. It’s been a lifelong dream to ride horses in the Montana wild (we are going to be staying here – pinch me). I’ll be making many mental notes as I’ve always dreamed of going to Montana with my sisters. I can’t wait to go back with them.

I’m also starting to pull together details for a trip to Argentina and Uruguay this November. I’m thrilled about the adventure in my life right now, but find myself craving the home-life. I’m so happy that for the moment, this is where I am.

Lake Tahoe

August 28, 2014

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Although I’m in France at the moment, I want to share our trip to Lake Tahoe before I dive into all things Europe. I always wrote off Lake Tahoe. I’m an ocean person and as such, we’d often choose Big Sur (heaven) over exploring different areas. I’m glad we finally made it to Lake Tahoe last month.

We stayed in Truckee, which although isn’t lakefront, I’d definitely recommend. We stayed at The Ritz, which was nestled in the mountains, glorious views from all angles. Truckee has an adorable downtown with little shops and restaurants, and is a bit quieter than South Lake Tahoe.

Here are a few favorites:

To Do / drive around the lake. Just do it. It takes about 90 minutes, but longer if you stop of course. Favorite stops included the gorgeous Emerald Bay, various look-out points in South Lake Tahoe and on the Nevada side. We contemplated renting kayaks or paddle boards, but we were pretty exhausted and decided to just kick back and relax.

To eat / Breakfast is an important meal in Tahoe – a must to fuel for the day ahead (even if your day’s itinerary includes only naps and s’mores). We loved breakfast at The Old Post Office and Fire Sign Cafe (get the huevos rancheros). My favorite meal was at Marty’s in Truckee. The owners are so friendly and the food is incredible (get the sloppy joe).

To drink / Although perhaps a bit overrated and overpriced, Hyatt’s Pier 111 is worth it for a drink. The bungalow bar sits on the water – no better view!

Shop! / Shopping in Lake Tahoe is not budget-friendly, but it’s always fun to peruse. If you find yourself in North Lake Tahoe, you must stop by Bespoke. The beautifully curated shop has some of the neatest things including an adorable kids section and gorgeous jewelry.

Have you been to Lake Tahoe? What are your favorite spots? Although I’m not a big skier, I can only imagine how beautiful it is come winter.