2016 Year-In-Review

2016 Year-In-Review

One of my all-time favorite trips in May 2016: staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy. Totally obnoxious champagne on boat shot. But what a day! 

One of my all-time favorite trips in May 2016: staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy. Totally obnoxious champagne on boat shot. But what a day! 

20112012201320142015

I've done a wrap-up on this blog for the past five years. When I look back at these ridiculous, challenging, beautiful adventures - traveling all over the world, a marriage, a divorce, a new love, a new job - I feel endlessly grateful and honestly, tired. Travel is my passion, my life, my work, my beloved job and industry but I really want to slow down a bit. 

I want to sit and read the New York Times every Sunday. I want to meet friends for dinner in Manhattan and return gratefully to Brooklyn. I want to walk in Central Park and Prospect Park on beautiful days. I want to feel grateful for every minute I am on the Brooklyn Promenade because I can't believe I live so close - this is my dream neighborhood in NYC. I want to explore New York like I used to when I first moved here - with that giddy sense of new-ness - through Chinatown, Little Italy, the Upper West Side, all over Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. I want to make plans for the future - I've been such a stunned deer-in-the-headlights the past couple of years - either moving at warp speed to avoid feeling hurt, or waiting for someone else to make decisions. The future I had planned for since I was 20 disappeared when Andy and I split up and I'm still finding my way out. 

I know I will still travel. I would be lost without it. I will still travel more than most people I know. But I want a little more serenity, a little less airport madness, and more time to figure out what I want as I get older. I'll turn 35 this year and while sometimes it feels like I've been flitting around the world carelessly while all my friends have been having babies and saving for retirement - I am so grateful for this life (except for the Twilight Zone presidential election, which continues to be worse than we all thought). Can I do all of this and maintain minimum status on an airline? That is the goal. 

By the way - if you know anyone cool in Brooklyn, let me know. It's one of my resolutions this year to meet more interesting, creative, funny, kind people that live in Brooklyn and to build my community here more. If you say it loud, it is more likely to happen. So there you go! 

Wishing you a beautiful 2017. 

And in (mostly) chronological order - 2016 at a glance. 

New Year's 2016 in Myanmar - The Strand Cruise

New Year's 2016 in Myanmar - The Strand Cruise

The highlight of Chiang Mai for me - Royal Park Rajapruek

The highlight of Chiang Mai for me - Royal Park Rajapruek

Rice planting at Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai 

Rice planting at Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai 

Unforgettable - a day at Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai

Unforgettable - a day at Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai

A great place to stay in Bangkok - the Grand Hyatt Erawan

A great place to stay in Bangkok - the Grand Hyatt Erawan

January snowstorm!

January snowstorm!

Connecticut wedding with some of my amazing extended family

Connecticut wedding with some of my amazing extended family

Work trip to Terranea Resort outside of L.A.

Work trip to Terranea Resort outside of L.A.

Dreamy trip to St. Barth's

Dreamy trip to St. Barth's

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Visiting my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona during orange blossom season!

Visiting my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona during orange blossom season!

Easter Dim Sum with (some of) my siblings + Hayley!

Easter Dim Sum with (some of) my siblings + Hayley!

Work trip to Seattle

Work trip to Seattle

The absolutely stunning Park Hotel Vitznau outside of Lucerne, Switzerland

The absolutely stunning Park Hotel Vitznau outside of Lucerne, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland

Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lake Como, Italy

Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lake Como, Italy

Fell in love with Fire Island - my first time there.

Fell in love with Fire Island - my first time there.

No place makes me feel like this place does - East Hampton, NY 

No place makes me feel like this place does - East Hampton, NY 

Hello New Home - Brooklyn Heights

Hello New Home - Brooklyn Heights

Weekend at my aunt & uncle's lakehouse

Weekend at my aunt & uncle's lakehouse

Recovering in Aspen post-Virtuoso Week 

Recovering in Aspen post-Virtuoso Week 

Aspen

Aspen

My favorite cake in the world - Original Sacher-Torte in Vienna!

My favorite cake in the world - Original Sacher-Torte in Vienna!

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

The beautiful Schloss Fuschl hotel outside of Salzburg, Austria

The beautiful Schloss Fuschl hotel outside of Salzburg, Austria

Will never forget this sunset swim in the lake! 

Will never forget this sunset swim in the lake! 

Sunset in Salzburg

Sunset in Salzburg

Favorite cocktail - Mr. Pink's at the Baccarat Hotel 

Favorite cocktail - Mr. Pink's at the Baccarat Hotel 

Ballet at Lincoln Center 

Ballet at Lincoln Center 

Upper West Side drinks - love our friend's rooftop!! 

Upper West Side drinks - love our friend's rooftop!! 

WOW view from the Rothorn in Switzerland 

WOW view from the Rothorn in Switzerland 

Rainy day view from the amazing Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva

Rainy day view from the amazing Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva

Back in Lucerne

Back in Lucerne

Annual fall-in-Connecticut trip with my aunt

Annual fall-in-Connecticut trip with my aunt

Metropolitan Opera

Metropolitan Opera

Fall in NYC

Fall in NYC

The River Cafe - eternally wonderful

The River Cafe - eternally wonderful

Thanksgiving with my family in L.A. - Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica

Thanksgiving with my family in L.A. - Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica

View from the Carlton in Cannes - ILTM! 

View from the Carlton in Cannes - ILTM! 

Beautiful Munich

Beautiful Munich

Family party in Franklin Lakes

Family party in Franklin Lakes

First copies of the new NatGeo book with my foreword

First copies of the new NatGeo book with my foreword

Christmas Day - Art Deco Hotel Montana, Lucerne

Christmas Day - Art Deco Hotel Montana, Lucerne

New favorite place - Lenzerheide, Switzerland

New favorite place - Lenzerheide, Switzerland

Felucca ride, Cairo! 

Felucca ride, Cairo! 

The Egyptian Museum made my heart beat faster.

The Egyptian Museum made my heart beat faster.

Cairo 

Cairo 

New Year's Day 2017 

New Year's Day 2017 

Hey, L.A.

Hiking Runyon Canyon - HOLLYWOOD!

Hiking Runyon Canyon - HOLLYWOOD!

L.A. would have been a terrible place for me to live in my twenties, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, not that I'm entirely sure at 33. But now, when I go there, I start to dream of moving there and having a little garden with orange trees. Planning dinners at restaurants with al fresco seating and a cool breeze. Appreciating every single sunset and the somewhat hazy, unique quality of light framed by palm trees and blue sky. Eating really delicious, fresh, bright food.

People are NICE in L.A., which made me suspicious at first. At Cafe Gratitude in Venice, I ordered a juice and they asked if I wanted to hear the question of the day. "Um, sure," I said cautiously. "Who's your hero??" the girl asked with a giant smile of her face. How nice. It left me thinking about who my hero was for the rest of the day.

I'd have to live and work within a five-mile radius. Commutes in LA. are truly terrible and if I could avoid the 405 forever, I would. I went to L.A. to speak at Virtuoso's agency owner forum at Terranea Resort, which is a wonderful getaway from the city, about 90 minutes from Santa Monica, depending on traffic (the great L.A. disclaimer).

I stayed on for the weekend at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and laughed until my stomach hurt with my brothers and sister-in-law. I updated my L.A. guide here but here are a few favorite photos from the weekend, starting with the view from my room at Terranea.

Finally tried Gjelina in Venice on a rainy night. Totally worth it.

Finally tried Gjelina in Venice on a rainy night. Totally worth it.

Red velvet cupcake and iced tea - snack of champions at Joan's on Third

Red velvet cupcake and iced tea - snack of champions at Joan's on Third

New favorite store: Tumbleweed & Dandelion in Venice

New favorite store: Tumbleweed & Dandelion in Venice

The wonderful Four Seasons in L.A. Best staff, amazing views, and a green goddess juice I ordered three times.

You're indoors but the sunset is pretty incredible at The Huntley in Santa Monica

You're indoors but the sunset is pretty incredible at The Huntley in Santa Monica

Chez Panisse in Berkeley

chezpanisseannie.JPG

My sandals broke on a long day of scouting with NatGeo photographer Catherine Karnow. No time to waste when we already had a packed day. The closest savior? A Walgreens. I trudged in, bought a $5 pair of flip-flops and continued working.

The day went on and we were close to Berkeley, where Alice Waters' iconic restaurant Chez Panisse has held court for 43 years. She was the first to really pioneer farm-to-table eating. Catherine had photographed Alice years ago and had raved about the restaurant as one of her favorites.

I have wanted to come to Chez Panisse ever since I first heard about it, which was probably when I was 12 years old, obsessed with reading any and all magazines. We decided to try our luck at getting in to eat on a busy Friday night.

And I was so mad that I shuffled in wearing my $5 Walgreens flip-flops (later promptly tossed into the trash).

Despite the footwear, we were lucky to get seated as walk-ins for the "cafe" upstairs, which just feels like a normal restaurant (albeit one with a gorgeous open kitchen and bustling, happy diners seated at rustic wooden tables). The "restaurant" downstairs has a prix-fixe tasting menu.

chezpanissesalads.jpg

To say it was exquisite perfection is not exaggerating - but it was so simple. Dessert? Blueberries and two apricots. The salad lettuces were crisp and earthy; the polenta, sweet corn and tomatoes sweet and salty. It is like you are being hugged by the state of California and everything that represents.

chezpanissefish.jpg
chezpanissepolenta.jpg
chezpanissedessert.jpg

I always thought Chez Panisse was ridiculously expensive. But it's not! It is now one of my favorite restaurants in the world - I could happily eat there again and again. It is an absolute must if you're in the Bay Area (about a 20 minute drive from downtown San Francisco).

DVF Exhibit - Wrap Dresses Everywhere!

DVF: Journey of a Dress - Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the DVF Wrap Dress

If you're in L.A., the DVF wrap dress exhibit adjacent to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) has just been extended until May 1! I went with my friend Adrienne and we both loved it. One dress really did change the way women dress, work and feel about themselves starting in the 1970's.

DVF dressesIt's free to enter, as it's separate from LACMA (though if you park in the LACMA lot, which is easiest, it's $10, and you'll pay at the ticket counter). It won't take you more than 30 minutes to go through as the exhibit is basically one big, bright, graphic room with all of her dresses on display.

Colorful DVF dressesFeel like a woman - wear a dress! DVF EntranceAfter, don't miss LACMA's famous "Urban Light" outside the entrance - if you're a 15-year-old girl like I am, you may recognize them from No Strings Attached - I loved that Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman vehicle.

Urban Light

Beverly Hills Juice Club

Mixed Green with Banana-MannaI've returned to Beverly Hills Juice Club three times on this trip alone. The juice trend is crazy and I jumped on board a long time ago. But this version is my favorite in all the world - because they turn it into something that tastes like dessert.

You can make any of their juices a BANANA-MANNA version. They will blend the juice with a frozen banana/almond concoction (you can also get frozen banana with sunflowers or cacao) to make it sweet, frothy, and icy. I love the Mixed Green or Big Ten juice for a great breakfast or the Apple Cinnamon or Apple Strawberry for an even sweeter treat.

I KNOW you will become addicted too! Everything's organic so you can feel especially great about your drink. Also, they've been around since 1975 so stepping in is a bit like stepping into 70's L.A. with the white tiles. I guess it's technically Beverly Hills but it feels more like Mid-Cities/West Hollywood - it's all super close.

Beverly Hills Juice Club: 8382 Beverly Blvd (cash only)

Menu A line for juiceOutside