How To Move

Welcome to Brooklyn Heights

Welcome to Brooklyn Heights

I have moved a lot in my life. Apparently, I still don't know what I'm doing. 

Yesterday, I moved from Boerum Hill to Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood I have always deeply loved. But that's not the point. 

The book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" has been all the rage for awhile now. You are supposed to hold every item you own and see if it "sparks joy." If it doesn't, you toss it. 

Well, as my friend Dayna, an amazing professional organizer, said "You need certain things that won't spark joy, like toilet paper." Exactly. 

And sometimes you can't afford to throw out everything you own if it doesn't spark joy (hello, ten-year-old Target nightstands). You slowly replace those things. 

But the beautiful organic cotton linens I bought at a market in Paris on my honeymoon? Tossed. The relationship is over and every time I looked at them, I thought "Oh, I bought those in Paris with him." I didn't have a negative reaction - but do I need to think that every time I see them? No. On to Goodwill. 

Let's talk about memory boxes. I am a big believer in throwing out REALLY bad photos of yourself. Of course, you need a few photos of the bad haircut from ninth grade or the ridiculous clothing you wore. But in a digital world, would you keep bad photos of yourself? Of course not. Gone. 

I am planning on digitizing all of the old photos I am keeping - I have a million from high school and college. But I don't need hard copies - I will never frame them or blow them up poster-size. Of course, I will keep copies of really special photos. But the rest - tossing. 

Just THROW STUFF OUT. Donate it (like my 150+ DVDs), recycle, or toss it. 

On the day of your move: 

  • Always have a roll of paper towels and a bottle of multi-purpose cleaner. Do you know how much dust gathers in a year, let alone three or more years, even if you have a housecleaner? It's disgusting. You are going to want to spray down your bookshelves and furniture. 
  • Go through your place and collect all remotes, chargers, computers, phones, and cords. Put them in ONE bag. I am currently missing my laptop charger and my Apple TV remote. #dumb
  • I thought I was smart and I'd have one suitcase of clothes packed and one bag of really important/valuable items, like my passport. But then I kept tossing important items into separate bags because so much seemed "important." This turned into, like, ten "important" bags and zero clue as to what is in each bag. 
  • Order pizza on your first night, obviously! Thanks, Front Street Pizza in Brooklyn, for an amazing first-night pie. 

Any tips to add? Do you have a service you've used for digitizing your photos? 

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...

Behind-the-Scenes Filming for National Geographic Travel

Just me hanging out by myself on a picnic...

Just me hanging out by myself on a picnic...

This summer, I filmed a short video on Quebec City for National Geographic Travel. It is less than three minutes long, but it took two 16-hour days to film. Here's the final video.

I really like how it turned out, and it's mostly thanks to my videographer, Hai-Lam Phan. We worked really well together, and he understood what was important to me (therefore, I was super comfortable with him), while knowing what would work best on camera.

I'd wake up at 6:30am, attempt hair & make-up, then meet Hai and our local assistant Annabelle in the lobby. Most of all, I was obsessed with showing only really great places - places that a visitor would love.

I eat a lot in the video. No human can eat that much food, no matter how delicious. We'd film a bite or two for camera. We filmed at this super popular local bar - you have to find engaging, fun people to talk to and show on camera. A lot of people (more than I thought!) absolutely do NOT want to be on camera. We found a great group of guys-hockey players!-and then an amazing group of women, students at the local university.

What I love most about filming is it gives you greater access to people. My favorite moment of the video is when the mother kisses her son at Cafe St-Malo and says "My son" - I tear up every time! She started the restaurant and he has been working there since he was a toddler.

Canadian hockey players!

Canadian hockey players!

The Dolder Grand in Zurich

I started this blog years ago because of an obsessive love I had for great hotels. The Dolder Grand, located in the hills above Zurich, Switzerland, is one of the GREAT ones. It reopened in 2008 after no Swiss franc was spared for its renovation and restoration. Famed architect Norman Foster designed two wings surrounding the historic main building.

The artwork is provocative...and FAMOUS - don't miss the Warhol above the check-in desk. The award-winning spa (most recently Virtuoso's Best Spa winner) is enormous and stunning. Basically, this place is another world. It's an easy "Dolderbahn" ride into the center of Zurich but you won't want to leave once you're here.

Flytographer Shoot in Berlin!

I don't buy much when I travel, but I've always taken hundreds of photos. But when you're traveling with a group, the photos end up being of some of you, or weird, blurry selfies.

My siblings and I rented an apartment in Berlin last weekend - the first time we had done this without parents. I wanted to get some great photos of us and a friend recommended Flytographer. They connect you to local photographers in over 150 destinations around the world. It's SO EASY and fun! We chose the one-hour package, which included 1-2 locations, and 30 digital photos. All I said was that I wanted the photos to feel "very Berlin." These were snapped on the most gorgeous August evening, at the Oberbaumbrücke, near the East Side Gallery.

I can't recommend this company highly enough and can't wait to use them again. Thank you, Nina Reinsdorf, for taking our photos!

Here are some of my favorite shots.