Off to Thailand!

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We leave today for two weeks in Thailand and I’m so excited that I fear this long, international flight is going to feel a lot longer! If I find time to update the blog I will (there is rain forecasted nearly every day), but otherwise see you in September!

In the meantime, a few travel posts you may have missed:

On the road

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Last night we returned from a two-week trip across Europe with my husband’s parents. We saw four countries by way of planes, trains and automobiles. We took in art in Paris, the Alps in Switzerland, the Mediterranean in Nice and quite a bit of pasta in Italy. It was both exhilarating and exhausting, but the best part was being with our family.

Want to hear something crazy? We’re leaving tomorrow for two weeks in Thailand! I remember thinking this was a little nuts when we booked it, but I’m not complaining. To see Thailand has been a dream of mine for so long, I’m not even sure when it began. My husband claims I mentioned it on our first date! Suffice to say, I’m excited.

Anyway, I apologize for the lack of posts recently. I’m still combing through photos of our European road trip, but I thought I’d share this one taken in Neive. The grapes were just days away from being harvested to make some seriously mouth-watering Barbera wine.

And if you have any Thailand recommendations, please send them along…meanwhile, a few fun links for today:

A weekend in Lucerne

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A couple of months ago I received one of the best job offers: Get paid to spend a weekend in Lucerne eating, drinking and having fun. Oh, and I had to write a few thousand words on why other travelers should visit Lucerne for a yet-to-be-published travel guide. I can’t divulge all of my recommendations here, but I’ll leave you with some photographic evidence on why you should put Lucerne at the top of your Swiss travel list…

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Lucerne is a charming city nestled between Alpine mountains and perched on a sparkling blue lake. It is very walkable thanks to a series of bridges–covered, wooden, iron, and modern–that connect the Old Town and new. Its Kapellbrücke bridge is one of the most famous covered bridges in the world.

You can get a glimpse of what medieval life was like in the once walled-in city by climbing its watchtower, clocktower and walking along the wall. One warning: If you visit on the hour, the vibrations from the enormous clock chimes may cause temporary hearing loss! The Swiss take their clocks very seriously.

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If you only have 24 hours and want a taste of nature, take the five-minute gondola to Château Gütsch where you will find a manicured hiking trail that winds through a quiet pine forest. After you’ve worked up a thirst, stop at the chateau-turned-hotel for an aperitif on their terrace where you can take in a view of all of Lucerne.

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Lucerne is just one hour by train from the Zürich Airport, so I urge you to make the short trip if you are in the neighborhood. Lucerne really boasts all the charm of smaller Swiss villages with many cosmopolitan restaurants, museums and panoramic vistas.

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What are your summer travel plans? As we close in on August, Geneva becomes less and less populated with the Genevoise taking their annual holidays. We have a jam-packed August schedule starting with a trip to Lucerne (this weekend!) to visit old friends. I’m so excited to return! For now, a few fun links I’ve collected:

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: