The first days of (city) summer

New York City in the summer can be challenging. The subways become sweltering saunas, the streets waft up a trashy stench. I got heat stroke a couple of weeks ago for the first time after hanging out in a Brooklyn beer garden for a few hours (I had one beer, more than my usual of zero, and tons of water). 

But I've been on some great NYC summer dates this year. The air has been breezy at night. I've spent time with people I love, really good friends. I saw a movie with my friend Dayna and then we decided to hit up Red Farm on the Upper West Side and walk the Brooklyn Bridge home. I walked up to William Greenberg on Madison for the best black and white cookies ever (it's something you have to eat in your life), then renewed my lapsed Met membership. I had dinner with my siblings at Beyoglu on the Upper East Side, with great outdoor seating, falafel, and hummus.  I went to a baby shower at Akwaaba B&B in historic Bed-Stuy and was blown away at how gorgeous the neighborhood was, an area I had never explored. 

Summer in the city will never be my favorite season (now, the Hudson Valley, Hamptons, Newport - that's a different story) - the buzzing air conditioner that makes my throat dry, the need to shower three times a day...

But somehow life feels all fleeting and short lately. And I love this city.

Stone Barns Agricultural Center

Blue Hill Farm is one of those places that New Yorkers love. People make pilgrimages from all over the world to visit and dine here. Dan Barber (featured on Chef's Table) opened this foodie wonderland in 2004, just as America's farm-to-table obsession was really kicking off. Located an hour's drive outside in the city in Pocantino Hills near Tarrytown, it's dinner that has been chronicled and covered a thousand times. You pay $258 per person, and have to jump on reserving a table 60 days ahead. 

I've had dinner here once, but what I didn't realize is that you can go up and spend the day at the Stone Barns Center, the same location as Blue Hill. I highly recommend this. On summer weekends, they charge you $20 admission, which includes a full day of activities. You won't be able or want to do everything (carrot weeding, anyone?) but there are some interesting and fun options - like egg collecting, duck herding, and a basic overview tour. You can also eat fantastic food at the casual cafe with outdoor seating - like the best baked goods and mini frittatas in the morning, and sandwiches and salads at lunch. 

If only June weekends could stretch out forever. 

annie-eggcollecting
Happy Chickens 

Happy Chickens 

 

 

Now I want to move to Florence

View from Villa Cora's rooftop - Florence

View from Villa Cora's rooftop - Florence

I just got back from Florence and now want to move there. Not really. But maybe? It was perfect from start to finish. Here's my updated Italy guide, if you're interested. I scoured many sources, and found some new favorites to add to my old standby's (like Trattoria Cammillo. Please, please go to Cammillo!). 

The Hotel I (Almost) Want To Keep Secret

Lounging before breakfast. 

Lounging before breakfast. 

But I won't because I loved this place so, so much. Because our time and money is precious. 

I love discovering places in Switzerland that I never would have known about, had I not been traveling with Alex - like Melchsee-Frutt outside of Lucerne. 

Views near Guarda Val. 

Views near Guarda Val. 

This hotel, Guarda Val in the Swiss mountain town of Lenzerheide, is Alpine perfection. Split among eleven 300-year-old chalet-style huts, it's a place that will envelop you. The breakfast is divine, their main restaurant is one of the best in town, they serve coffee and cake every afternoon in a soaring space with a fireplace, there is a beautiful small spa and jacuzzi outside (which they call an "open-air hot pot" - haha). You wake up to heart-stopping views, you're breathing in air that can heal you, you realize you want a simpler life (or maybe that's just me). 

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Most of all, I loved discovering Lenzerheide. I had been to Arosa - which is now connected to Lenzerheide by cable car, making it one of Switzerland's largest ski areas. But Lenzerheide is pretty special - it's really primarily Swiss people who go here. 

Tip: I'd highly recommend a car to get to Lenzerheide in the canton of Graubünden - it's that rare place in Switzerland not connected by train. But you will be rewarded. And maybe I'll see you there this summer. 

Get Yourself to Bermuda

Flatt's Village, Bermuda

Flatt's Village, Bermuda

90 minutes from NYC - faster than you can say Hamptons - is this little 20-mile paradise, Bermuda. I bet you know someone who went on their honeymoon there 35 years ago - or you're pretty sure that the Bermuda Triangle is where your misplaced car keys, lip balm, and hair ties go. What I really loved is that it's not just a vacation destination like a few Caribbean islands I have visited. People live here, raising their kids and starting companies. Certain families go back hundreds of years. There is a palpable sense of rootedness but also a sexy new awakening. I will  update my guide in the next few weeks with all my favorite finds. I can't wait to get back to Bermuda.