Three Days in Milan, Italy

I loved traveling with two-month-old Sophie to Milan (just over 3 hours from Zurich on the train) and can’t wait to show her these photos when she’s older. I’ve even already blocked out the massive, annoying flight delay on the way home to NYC.

IMG_4436.JPG

A baby forces you to slow down. (No sh*t, said every mom everywhere.) Honestly, this is still the hardest part of adjusting to baby life for me, even when we are home. We stuck mostly to the touristy center of Milan, near our hotel - the fantastic Mandarin Oriental, Milan. We stayed at the hotel for dinner twice and went out once. And we spent most of the days exploring, giving her (and us) a break in the late afternoons.

My highlights:

The beautiful old-world cafes Marchesi 1824 (now owned by Prada) and Cova (now owned by LVMH), basically right next to each other on Milan’s fancy Monte Napoleone shopping street.

Staying at the Mandarin Oriental - there is just nothing like returning to a fancy cocoon after a day in a European capital. It’s the best location, five minutes from the Duomo and Teatra la Scala (opera house), with great people watching. Pro tip: Get the bright green minestrone soup at the bar for a pasta break. It’s so good.

Walking out of the Mandarin Oriental

Walking out of the Mandarin Oriental

Scoring same-day tickets to The Last Supper thanks to the Mandarin’s concierge team. It made me want to reread The Da Vinci Code, but it is truly spectacular, though much more faded than I expected, and somehow looks alive. Get there at your exact entry time!

A visit to gourmet grocery store Peck - the produce made me wish I had an apartment to cook in.

A bubbly, fun lunch at Luca e Andrea in the Navigli canal neighborhood (not L’Altro Luca e Andrea). Luca e Andrea was the perfect tiny gem for lunch, filled with Italians and Nancy Meyers-movie music. The canal area is fun to explore, but I’d never go on a busy summer Saturday. Best during the week in the off-season.

IMG_4395.JPG
Luca e Andrea

Luca e Andrea

Strolling through the beautiful Brera neighborhood, and stopping at Obica Brera for lunch. (We have an Obica in NYC, and it’s a chain now, but it’s so much better here.)

Walking to 10 Corso Como, Milan’s original fabulous shopping center, and getting coffee at the cafe, plus shopping at the enormous Eataly.

I can’t help but love Eataly all over the world.

I can’t help but love Eataly all over the world.

Dinner at Giacamo Bistrot, a great neighborhood spot a 20-minute walk from our hotel.

A stop at La Rinascente, Italy’s famous department store, and checking out the 7th-floor food hall, with great views of the Duomo from the restaurants. It’s not the best department store food hall I’ve been to (that honor goes to KaDeWe in Berlin), but worth a stop.

Views at La Rinascente

Views at La Rinascente

Trying a famous panzerotti (basically a pizza Hot Pocket) at Luini - the lines get crazy around lunch, so try to go right when they open.

Visiting the top of the Duomo on our last morning. It had been 17 years since my last visit and I’m so glad I did it again. So worth it!

IMG_4511.JPG


I had grand plans to visit two highly praised museums - Armani Silos and Fondazione Prada (there’s a cafe there designed by Wes Anderson!) - but next time. Other restaurants on my list: Al Porto, Sadler, Il Cavallino, La Pesa Trattoria 1902, Cracco’s - but we’ll need a baby-sitter for these.

Walking in Brera

Walking in Brera

The Best View in Lucerne

I visited Lucerne a few times before I knew Alex, but since knowing him, have grown to really know it and love his hometown. If you go to Switzerland, you really can't miss it (bossy and true). It's so stunningly beautiful and there is so much to do in the mountains and surrounding area, too. 

IMG_7313.JPG

Switzerland is a country of ridiculous views and the best ones in Lucerne can be found at the Art Deco Hotel Montana. You take a little funicular to get up there, and it's a must-see even if you're not staying - in the summer, the Montana Beach Club (aka their bar on the terrace) is the place to be. And if you're very lucky - you stay in THIS ROOM with THIS TERRACE.

Mount Pilatus - symbol of Lucerne.

Mount Pilatus - symbol of Lucerne.

They also have live music most days of the week in the Louis bar (named for Louis Armstrong). It's such a warm, joyous place to be - and shows off everything I love about great hotels. 

The Louis Bar.

The Louis Bar.

Terrace, sunset.

Terrace, sunset.

Hotel Photos: Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna - lobby lounge

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna - lobby lounge

I just returned from a trip to Austria, which always feels nostalgic. Vienna is where I chose to spend time in college - I couldn't believe how grand and stunning the city was. Plus, I have always loved the German language, coffee and cake breaks, and classical music. Vienna was made for me. Today, it isn't trying to be the next Berlin or Brooklyn - there is great innovation and a young spirit, but it really leans into that imperial court feel and coffeehouse culture. I love that. 

The first hotel I stayed in was the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, in one of the Hansen Suites. The hotel is whimsical and has a hint of French flair - the lobby lounge has pops of color and a huge low-hanging chandelier, while my room was masculine and muted. It's a great choice for Vienna, ever so slightly removed from the city center, but an easy walk to everything you need.

What's Your Cocktail?

So, I don't really like cocktails. I rarely take a second glass of wine, even though the smell of wine makes my head spin with happiness (other smells in this category include: garlic & onion slowly cooking, lemon juice, cinnamon, and parmigiano-reggiano).

But I found a cocktail I love. The "Mr. Pink" is $28 (not cheap) at The Baccarat Hotel on 53rd St in Midtown - and it is a fantastic champagne cocktail. It is now off the menu, so you'll have to ask for it.

You get giddy and tipsy and if you do order one up, you're sipping in a most gorgeous space - huge bouquets of flowers (I love the big globes of red roses), Baccarat crystal chandeliers and glasses, and major people-watching. When you get there, take the elevator to the second floor/lobby level and sit in the Grand Salon area. The bar is seriously opulent so take a look in there, too.

Mr. Pink: Belvedere Vodka, Cappelletti, Fresh Raspberry Syrup, Lemon Juice, Ruinart Rosé Champagne

Adventures in Bangkok, Part One

Merry Christmas from the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Merry Christmas from the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

I spent last Christmas and New Year's in Thailand and Myanmar. Now that we're approaching Easter, I wanted to share some photos of our adventure and introduce you to my traveling companion, Alex. He's hilarious, kind, smart, dapper (in fact, that's what I call him), and has the most amazing accent - he was born and raised in Lucerne, Switzerland.

While he looks ridiculously handsome in every photo taken of him, I look like a sweaty mess in most photos from Southeast Asia.

Here are some highlights of the first part of our trip:

  • Flying from NYC to Tokyo, short layover and then on to Bangkok
  • Three nights at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, with the best Christmas morning breakfast buffet overlooking the Chao Phraya River
  • Taking the public ferry to the Grand Palace, overrun with selfie sticks and westerners sporting elephant pants. Seeing the Emerald Buddha and stopping for a coconut.
  • Visiting Wat Pho & the famous Reclining Buddha - putting coins into buckets for good luck
  • Cheap foot massages at Wat Pho (a must-do!) - 280 bahts for 30 minutes, about $8
  • Lunch stop at Sala Rattanakosin hotel, a short walk from Wat Pho. The upper level has awesome views of Wat Ahrun across the river
  • A 75-minute traffic-clogged tuk tuk ride to afternoon tea at the Anantara hotel
  • Thai dinner at the Mandarin Oriental's Terrace Rim Naam
  • Taking the Skytrain to the Mo Chit market, a total waste of time, although it was cool to ride the Skytrain. Everyone lined up in the most civilized way.
  • Eating dim sum at Tim Ho Wan in Terminal 21 mall (Bangkok is all about the malls). The original location in Hong Kong is the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Now it's a chain throughout Southeast Asia.
  • Drinks at rooftop bar Vertigo, then dinner at Nahm, on this list of 50 best restaurants in the world.
High above Bangkok at Vertigo

High above Bangkok at Vertigo

Layover in Tokyo

Layover in Tokyo

I loved staying on the river for historical perspective and retreating from the city's chaos. The hotel is split into two sections, with the spa and a couple restaurants across the river. Every few minutes, these traditional boats zip you across.

Roaming around the Grand Palace

Roaming around the Grand Palace

Don't miss these amazing massages at Wat Pho!

Don't miss these amazing massages at Wat Pho!

So many kittens

So many kittens

Perfect lunch stop - Sala Rattanakosin

Perfect lunch stop - Sala Rattanakosin

Afternoon tea at Anantara

Afternoon tea at Anantara

We consumed a lot of coconuts on this trip, especially Alex. If he disappeared for a second, I knew he was buying a coconut.

We consumed a lot of coconuts on this trip, especially Alex. If he disappeared for a second, I knew he was buying a coconut.

Morning view from our room at the Mandarin

Morning view from our room at the Mandarin

I loved Bangkok's airport. On our way to Myanmar!

I loved Bangkok's airport. On our way to Myanmar!

After our short time in Bangkok, we flew to Yangon! More to come...