Travel Goods: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Last year I wrote a post on all the travel goodies I was secretly eyeing on the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (yes, they ship to Europe!). A friend of mine asked me–ahem, begged me–for this year’s Anniversary Sale roundup. So, I happily online window shopped and came up with ten items that I’d love for fall and winter travel. The sale begins July 22 and every single item I’ve listed is less than $150. My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale wish list for 2016:

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The Ultra Healthy Skin travel pouch includes all of my Kiehl’s favorites in travel sizes.

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C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve comes in handy for dry lips, chapped hands and other nasty side effects of frequent air travel. I’ve been using it for years. Decades.

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There has been a lot of buzz about the Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase–apparently it fights wrinkles and tames frizzy hair. Personally, I like the idea of traveling with my own pillowcase.

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The Halogen Cashmere Wrap looks like it would be a lifesaver on long flights and the perfect layer of warmth for chilly nights.

 

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The leather wraparound band on this Michael Kors Brenner Watch is reminiscent of the classic Hermés watch, but the dark face gives it a modern twist. Love it.

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Maybe I’m just a 90’s girls at heart, but I think berets are a super sweet in the winter. I badly need a new one and this Halogen Wool Beret comes in six colors!

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The Bernardo Textured Wool Coat has classic lines and would be a nice break from my predominantly all-black outerwear. Comes in “evening blue” too.

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I love packing one travel dress that can go all day and out to dinner. This Topshop Dot Jacquard Knit Dress could pair with boots and tights for sight-seeing as easily as with heels for a cocktail party. Plus the knit fabric promises no wrinkles in the suitcase.
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These Corso Como Over-the-Knee Boots are #1 on my list, the only decision I’m trying to make is whether to get them in sensible black leather or follow my heart and get gray suede. Suede can be tricky, but I swear by Cole Haan’s All-weather Spray Protector.
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I was taken by this Street Level Bucket Bag because of its classic shape, hands-free cross body strap and its great price–$31! I wouldn’t worry so much about putting it on the ground of the airplane or spilling toiletries inside at that price.

Happy Shopping…meanwhile, a few links on travel:

Spicy Watermelon Agua Fresca

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I don’t know about you, but in the summertime I find myself reaching more and more for a glass of wine …or a margarita …or a mojito. There is something about the late sunsets that have me celebrating every day of the week with a drink! I don’t need the alcohol; I just need something cool to sip at the end of the day.

So, last week I started experimenting with non-alcoholic cocktail recipes. This one was the winner. And oh boy, was it ever. Spicy, cool, minty, lime.

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Spicy Watermelon Agua Fresca (makes about four glasses)

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups seedless watermelon (rind removed), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 jalapeño, roughly chopped
  • Ice cubes or crushed ice (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender (or a bowl with a handheld immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Either pour the mixture through a strainer into a pitcher or into a pitcher that has a strainer at the spout. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Stir before serving over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge or mint leaves. Or both. It’s summer; go crazy.

Wanderweg Weekend

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“Wanderweg” means walking trail in German. These adorable yellow signs are all over Switzerland–throughout its cosmopolitan cities and the majestic Alps. In the middle of a meadow or on top of a snow-capped mountain. When we see one we know we’re on the right path. We’re headed in the right direction. All good.

There’s definitely a metaphor in there somewhere for life, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Meanwhile, have a sweet weekend. Here are a few fun links:

 

A weekend in Burgundy

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I cannot believe so much beauty lies just two hours from Geneva and it took us so long to visit. This seems to be a common theme around these parts, which is why we’ve stuck closer to home this summer.

To ring in my 31st year two weeks ago, we rented a tiny French car and headed to French wine country. The Côte d’Or to be exact. There we found sprawling vineyards dotted with bright poppies. Cobblestoned streets, fantastic restaurants and robust white wines. As a sadly non red wine-drinker (a migraine trigger), I was worried that I would have nothing to drink in a wine region where reds are so popular we named a color after it. Yes, that is where the color burgundy comes from. Boy was I wrong.

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Beaune lies in the heart of Burgundy although Dijon is much more cosmopolitan. If you have one weekend, stick to Beaune. If you have more time, split your time between sleepy Beaune and lively Dijon–a gorgeous, 30-minute drive separates the two.

We stayed in an apartment in the heart of Beaune’s Old Town, which was perfect for walking to dinner, the Salvador Dali Museum and some tasting rooms. (If money were no object, we would have stayed across the street at Hôtel le Cep.)

We kicked off the weekend with a tour of Maison Joseph Drouhin. It’s a good place to start if you don’t know much about the history of Burgundy. There, we were led through a dimly-lit underground maze of barrels and cobwebbed bottles. We tasted six wines in the cellar, comparing the quality of Premier Cru–which accounts for 18% of Burgundy wines–and Grand Cru–which accounts for less than 5%. Some bottles of Grand Cru are so rare and coveted, they sell for thousands of dollars.

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On the advice of a local, we headed north out of town on the Route des Grand Cru. The small country road runs parallel to the A31 Highway through vineyards and tiny villages.  Our GPS kept trying to re-direct us to the highway, but we would have missed out on so much beauty and the freedom to stop at whatever tasting room we found interesting.

My two favorite tasting rooms were Dufouleur Père et Fils and Au Clos Napoléon. Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte spent a great deal of time in Burgundy and actually required his soldiers to drink wines from the region to bolster their military prowess. Personally, I wasn’t able to do much after our roadside picnic.

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Back in Beaune we found a cooking store that would have made Julia Child swoon: The Cook’s Atelier. I picked up a linen chef’s apron and a serious brass pepper mill. They also host cooking classes that I would have booked had I done my homework.

Saturday night we celebrated at a restaurant that now holds a spot on my coveted top ten restaurants of all time: La Lune. The intimate restaurant has four tables and a wooden bar wrapping around its tiny kitchen. We reserved two seats at the bar where we could watch the chef work. I had fried chicken and champagne for dinner and it was heavenly.

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The photo above is not of La Lune, but of my husband looking about as French as he ever has. It needs to be documented. I hope you are exploring what’s in your own backyard this week…but for now, a few links:

What are your favorite travel websites?

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I recently read that the average traveler visits a whopping 38 different travel websites before booking a vacation. I should be shocked, but I actually think I visit somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-75  websites in the process of booking an airline ticket, scouting out housing and making restaurant reservations for a trip. I absolutely love researching travel because I can daydream about all of the different storylines my life might take on a trip. According to research, planning the trip is almost more fun than taking it.

Since I spend so much time on travel websites I thought I’d share some of my favorite ones at this moment. And perhaps you can suggest some of your favorite sites?

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Skyscanner.com. I have long been a fan of Kayak, but Skyscanner is more applicable to my travel style these days: I have a free weekend, I have $100 to spend, where can I go? With Skyscanner you can search flight prices to “Everywhere” over the course of an entire month from your home airport and it gives you a list of possibilities. If you have a specific destination, stick to Kayak. If you’re curious how much it would cost to fly to anywhere in Europe sometime in August, use Skyscanner.

The New York Times’ “36 Hours In…” OK, so you’ve heard of The New York Times. The secret is out. I know. But I’m telling you I always find fantastic restaurant recommendations in these travel articles. The Times’ tends to use writers who live in the city they are writing about, so I like to Google the writer’s name and see if he/she has a blog with even more recommendations. Win-win.

Hotels.com vs Airbnb.com. I’ve stayed in some incredible apartments at great prices through Airbnb. I’ve also stayed in some apartments that were not so great. Sometimes we opt for a hotel if we need a late or early check-in and Hotels.com’s rewards system is addicting (10 nights in a hotels = one free night in a hotel). Even better? Hotels.com offers apartments if you want that Airbnb feeling. I’ve stayed in apartments that were advertised on both Airbnb and Hotels.com, but booked it through Hotels.com for the points.

Wallpaper City Guides. Although the best thing about owning these colorful, pocket-sized guidebooks are how beautiful they look lined up on your bookshelf, you can download them electronically via Wallpaper’s app. The recommendations are always design-savvy, well-written and off the beaten path. The app has an easy-to-use interactive map, too.

Melting Butter. Cool restaurants. Hipster cafes. Pop-up boutiques. Avant-garde museums. This website makes you want to be more fashionable than you ever were once you arrive in Paris or London or wherever you are going. Maybe you’ll start drinking martinis or wearing leather pants. Anything could happen at a Melting Butter-approved locale.

12hrs. If you are interested in visiting a place but you don’t want to get bogged down in a lot of text, the photo essays on 12hrs are really fun to scroll through. Sometimes when I find a flight on Skyscanner to a city I don’t know well I’ll check out 12hrs’ photos to get a quick sense of whether I’d like to visit the city or not. I also love their Instagram feed.

Are there any travel sites, magazines or mobile apps you swear by? I’d love to know…

5 Things to do in Paris when it rains

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You may not speak French, but I bet you’ve heard the phrase après moi, le déluge or “after me comes the flood.” The phrase is attributed to to King Louis XV’s reign in reference to the impending French Revolution. Today, it’s kind of a shoulder shrug phrase: After me, I don’t care what happens. It’s all going to hell.

At any rate, I haven’t thought much about the phrase until two weeks ago when we visited Paris and found that the city had literally flooded. Days of torrential rain had caused the Seine to rise and rise until it overtook the docks. And then the sidewalks. And then the benches. The Louvre closed to move artwork to higher floors. The train system shut down and the city came to a standstill. C’est bizarre, non?

Go ahead and plan a trip to Paris. It’s still there and it’s fantastic. Since the constant rains challenged me to come up with a nearly completely indoor itinerary when we visited, I’m passing along my recommendations for what to do when the clouds roll into Paris…

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Hole up in a café and write postcards. I do this in almost every city (especially if I’m dining alone while my husband has to work), but Paris has an especially wonderful variety of cafés. After buying postcards in a museum gift shop or at one of those street kiosks, I enjoy a long lunch over writing postcards to friends. I take my time and describe what’s going on around me which helps cement the memories in my mind. People watch. Have a glass of wine. Linger. Be French. (This time I dined at The Cottage on the left bank.)

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Shop Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. Trying to window shop left puddles in my shoes, so I took refuge at Paris’ two biggest and oldest department stores: Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. Luckily, they are as elegant as the independent boutiques and are located next door to each other so you can put away your umbrella. I recommend shopping the & Other Stories collection at Printemps and the Claudie Pierlot collection at Lafayette.

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Visit museums. Going to a museum is no-brainer since Paris is chock full of them and you’re drenched. This time I visited the Musée L’Orangerie where Monet’s wall-to-wall canvases of water lilies are hung beneath large skylights. The pitter-pattering of the rain on the skylights paired with the watery, moody art made for a transcendent experience. Read more on some of my favorite museums that aren’t The Louvre. You could also take in a live auction at the Drouot Auction House.

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Ride the Metro. I’m not advocating you ride it all day, but use it to get around since taxis will be in high-demand. Travelers can be intimidated by public transportation in foreign cities, but I try it almost everywhere we go as a means to better orient myself in a new place. The Paris metro system is, by far, one of the most organized, easy-to-navigate systems. Electronic ticket machines are in English and many stations have English-speaking employees who can help you chart your trip. Or download this mobile app.

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Buy a one-of-kind umbrella. My mother actually collects interesting umbrellas–yes, that is a hobby–and Paris is home to many high-end umbrella boutiques. Bringing an incredible parapluie home as a souvenir might be the coolest way to remember a rainy weekend you spent in Paris. I recommend Alexandra Sojfer, Antoine, Pep’s and Heartault.

Here’s wishing you a dry week wherever you are (it’s raining here as I write!)…meanwhile, a few links:

Last image via here.

Happy Summer Solstice

 

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The summer solstice (today) coincides with a full strawberry moon (tonight)–an occurrence that will not happen again until 2062. Trust me, don’t try to do the math how old you will be in 2062. Just enjoy this special day! We’re eating salmon on the balcony tonight and taking in the 9:31 sunset. A few links for your Monday: