30 Favorite Travel Moments on my 30th Birthday

30th-thirty-birthday-party-cake-candle-641-p[ekm]296x300[ekm].jpg

I'm 30 today. You couldn't pay me any amount of money to go back to my 20's. I am living in the best city in the world, building a career I love. I have the best siblings ever and wonderful friends. There are challenges, struggles and moments where I think "Why am I doing this?" But they don't last long.

There have been times when I've traveled when I have been very aware that I needed to try and really remember how I felt, because it wouldn't come again. The feeling of being totally content in one place, at one time, and not wanting to be anywhere else.

So many of my memorable travel moments involve hotels - magical hotels that allowed me to be someone else for a night. And every single one involves someone else, either someone I met along the way or someone I already knew. This list isn't about the number of flight delays, homesick nights, tearful calls, colds on the road, fainting on an overnight flight, lost luggage, stolen money, and so on. Those things will come. But the magic of travel is worth so much more and I've been so lucky.

What's next? Africa, I hope. Scotland. Antarctica. More of the Caribbean. Paris, London, Switzerland, and Rome always. More South America. Hong Kong & Singapore. The South Pacific. And more time at home in New York.

In no order at all....

  • Meeting Dr. Ho, a famous Chinese herbalist and doctor, on my Abercrombie & Kent tour in the Yunnan Province of China 
  • Ordering the most perfect pasta pomodoro and a bellini from the Hotel Cipriani in Venice and sitting on my outdoor patio near the famous pool. I miss the Cipriani always.
  • Having the best paella on a Sunday in Valencia at La Matandeta Alfafar (close second to seeing the City of Arts & Sciences lit up at night) 
  • Walking Star Castle's Garrison Hill walk in the Isles of Scilly 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall 
  • Every night at the Old Seelbach Bar, one of those classic hotel bars, at The Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky during my brother's wedding
  • Fondue with a view of the Matterhorn at Restaurant Blatten in Zermatt 
  • Stopping at the Black Sand Beach on the Road to Hana with my sister on our trip to Maui - as perfect as the view from our room at the Four Seasons in Maui
Black Sand Beach on the Road to Hana, Maui

Black Sand Beach on the Road to Hana, Maui

  • Sunset and a glass of wine at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica 
  • Having coffee and sachertorte at Hotel Sacher in Vienna - so beautiful
  • HAMPTONS - dinner at Vine Street Cafe on Shelter Island, fruit from Round Swamp Farm, lobster rolls at Duryea, the Montauk Point Lighthouse, the best beaches in the entire world, rose wine at Wolffer Estate Vineyards
  • Camping Out in Wadi Rum in Jordan - like nowhere else on Earth and best described as looking like the surface of Mars or the moon
  • Having the best view of Shanghai from my room at the Waldorf-Astoria for an incredible sense of place!
Waldorf-Astoria, Shanghai

Waldorf-Astoria, Shanghai

  • Meeting Andy in Paris on our 1st anniversary in 2004: He was 22, I was 21. Neither of us had phones and I can't believe we found each other under the Eiffel Tower, which was our only plan. We had no idea how massive it was, but somehow we found each other.
  • Opening the window in my room at the Hotel Ritz Madrid in Spain and having a view of the Prado Museum 
  • Taking The Gondola at Heavenly every year when we went to Lake Tahoe for those most spectacular view over the lake 
  • Getting tired of eating out in Aspen and instead going to the grocery store and using the great kitchen at Aspen Square Condominiums - eating by the fireplace 
  • Afternoon tea at The Goring Hotel in London and touring The Royal Suite, where Kate Middleton stayed the night before the wedding 
  • Sipping coffee at the restaurant on Oak Creek at L'Auberge de Sedona, Arizona
  • Holding a koala at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Australia 
  • My private tour and interview with Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey. It was the last day of a two-week England trip and unbelievable to be walking around Highclere alone.
Highclere Castle, England

Highclere Castle, England

  • The first glimpse of the Taj Mahal in India, which was beyond anything I imagined. Then seeing how every room at The Oberoi Amarvilas has a view of it.
  • Zip-lining at Witch's Rock Canopy Tour in Costa Rica. Closest I've ever felt to being a bird :)
  • The perfect day in Moscow - private guide, photos in Red Square, room at the Ritz-Carlton and stopping at Cafe Pushkin
  • Having a killer bee at Sunshine's in Nevis before dinner at the Four Seasons
  • Lobster rolls at dusk on my first visit to The Sagamore on Lake George - cool air & the smell of pine trees.
  • Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in San Francisco - I'd driven over it many times but walking across was an entirely different and beautiful experience.
  • Falling completely in love with New Orleans - Magazine Street, live music, the streetcar, beignets and muffulettas
  • Riding snowmobiles to dinner at The Crystal Hut on top of Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia
  • Touring Middleton Place in Charleston with the direct descendent to the Middletons - and then seeing the hard-packed beach at Kiawah Island for the first time - nothing like it!
  • Driving the moving van into New York City after a fun road trip through Memphis, Nashville, Raleigh & D.C.