Travel

POLKA DOTS AT THE PALAIS-ROYAL

You know how sometimes a place becomes heavily photographed on Instagram and then when you actually go, it’s not quite as nice as everyone’s photos make it out to be? The Palais-Royal isn’t like that. I had actually come to this spot back in 2008 on my first trip to Paris (armed with just a digital camera) and remember loving the grandness of the old French courtyard and gardens set against the graphic pop of these raised columns at varied heights. So I knew I wanted to swing back through on this trip. Although I have to say, I don’t remember what I wore back in 2008 but this may be my favorite outfit I wore on our whole trip.

I actually bought this polka dot midi dress back in March for my girl’s trip to Charleston with my Mom and Sister (it makes me think of a cross between Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman), but I knew it was destined to make an appearance in Paris too. I stepped it up a bit with these cute little polka dot flats too which I picked up as a replacement to a similar gingham pair that I wore to shreds over the past couple of years.

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DREAMING OF PARIS IN THE SPRING + HOW I GOT THERE

I had been dreaming of this trip for a long time. The first time I went to Paris was 11 years ago. I was just 20 years only and followed my study abroad tour group with big eyes and a stomach hungry for crepes. It was an amazing few days but honestly most of it passed in a blur. As the years ticked by I would think about Paris often and how grand the city felt, thinking – just hoping someday I’d get the chance to go back.

A year ago I made a list of places I’d like to travel in 2019 and Paris sat firmly in the Spring. For 6 months I thought about it wistfully but it seemed unattainable. But then I realized – everything is unattainable until you make a plan. And so I did. Adam and I decided not to get each other Christmas presents, I took 3 whole months off from shopping and I packed my lunch every single work day so far this year. We slowly set aside our pennies instead. I combed AirBnB to find a cheap option in the neighborhood we were dying to stay in. I tracked flights religiously to find the best deal. We researched how to take the train from the airport to save on costly taxi rides. In short – we found a way to make the dream a reality.

I wanted to share all of this before I dove in to sharing the “pretty pictures” because I think blogs/Instagram often gloss over all of the realities. I see a lot of people take these extravagant trips and share this gorgeous “content” – and say nothing of what it might have taken to get there. Sure, maybe some of them are just lavishly wealthy, but I’d guess a lot of them are likely cutting the same corners as we do and have to carefully save their money too. But not a lot of people mention that. So it comes off looking/feeling like everyone but you is leading a glamorous life.

I don’t want you to feel that way when you look at our pictures from this trip. Instead I hope you feel inspired to set a big goal for yourself and then make a plan to get there. Paris lived up to every single memory and wish I had for it – and then some. And it was even sweeter knowing that we had worked hard to get there. As opposed to my last trip, I know I’ll be remembering this one in crisp detail for many years to come.

Stay tuned for the full travel guide + lots more outfits of the outfits I wore there that are perfect for spring/summer!

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MY SPRING IN NYC BUCKET LIST

Since I shared my Spring Wishlist (along with a disclaimer that I’m shopping quite a bit less these days) I figured I’d also share my Spring Bucket List – aka all the places and experiences – I’m looking forward to this season. And what better day to share than the first day of Spring!

  1. A stroll along South Street Seaport. I love this area but it can get SO crowded in the Summer. The first really nice spring day is great for walking along the water, grabbing tacos at El Luchador and eating on the benches with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  2. Snagging tickets to see the NYC ballet’s rendition of Jane Eyre. I’m always looking for an excuse to go to the ballet (and Adam has zero interest), so when a friend asked me to join her for this Bronte classic I jumped at the chance! Tickets go on sale this weekend.
  3. A glass of rosé on the Met rooftop – this has become on of my favorite spring traditions. Even better when you can see all of the fresh blooms in Central Park from above.
  4. Running a 10k! This was on my list of things to do in 2019 (for now, my half marathon days are on hold while I see how my knees hold up to shorter distances) and Spring would be the perfect time weather-wise to do it.
  5. We may end up staying in the city over Easter weekend and if so – I definitely want to try a new brunch spot. Although Friend of A Farmer and Buvette (two favorites) are still contenders.
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A STAYCATION AT THE MICHELANGELO HOTEL

Two weekend’s ago, Adam and I packed our bags, hopped in a cab and headed 30-some odd blocks uptown to the check into the Michelangelo Hotel for a staycation. An Italian family-owned 4-star hotel (with other locations in Florence, Milan and Rome) it feels like a taste of Italian luxury but smack dab in the middle of New York City. Think, lush velvet couches and grand staircases and decadent marble bathrooms… all while you’re 3 blocks from Times Square and 8 blocks from Central Park.

The funny thing about a staycation just a 20 minute cab ride from where you actually live is that it really does feel like a vacation. It forces you out of the “comfort zone” of the your usual neighborhood and into exploring your city like a tourist. And relationship-wise I think it gets you out of your usual at home routines. Meaning in the evenings instead of zoning out and watching TV, both scrolling on our phones, we went out and taste-tested cocktails at a hidden jazz bar. Another night we watched a movie but did it with a side of room service pizza (the best pepperoni pizza I’ve had in a long time – and I like to think of myself as sort of an expert in this arena), popped prosecco and turned the evening into a date night in. I took luxuriously long bubble baths and Adam indulged in endless in-room espresso. We lingered over leisurely breakfasts in the hotel cafe, flipping through The New York Times and not rushing anywhere. All of it just felt like such a treat.

And if you’re not a New Yorker looking for a staycation – you can’t ask for a better location to be a tourist. While you’ll be in no shortage of things to do in surrounding areas of the hotel, below are a few of our Times Square area tips:

  • Get in line early at the TKTS booth (under the big steps in Times Square) for same day discount tickets to all the biggest Broadway shows.
  • Head to Black Tap for hilariously oversized milkshakes. Honestly this place is kind of worth the hype though because the burgers are solid and even the plain milkshakes are delicious – although Adam recommends going all the way with the Frutti Pebbles shake.
  • Stroll through the start of Central Park. Hit up the Strand Bookstore kiosk (on the South-Eastern corner), swing through the Central Park Zoo to see the sea lions, and circle back for ice skating at Wollman Rink.
  • Duck into The Rum House to escape the tourist crowds and stay for the classic cocktails and live jazz.
  • Visit one of the world class museums just a hop and skip away from the Michelangelo. My favorites are the Met and the MoMa – but the Guggenheim is great too and the Natural History Museum is perfect if you’ve got little ones

A big thank you to the Michelangelo Hotel for hosting us for the weekend – as always all opinions are completely my own.

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A TRAVEL GUIDE TO UPSTATE, NEW YORK

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

This October, Adam and I finally decided to go find out what New Yorkers rave about every Fall: Upstate. The results? We’re hooked. Just a 2 1/2 hour drive from our city stoop you get a much needed escape into nature (hellooo foliage) and small town charm that’s very reminiscent of New England this time of year. Plus, (thankfully) still delicious food and drink. In short, we’ll definitely be back. Below, my greatest hits from the trip and what I already can’t wait to try on our next trip.

GETTING THERE:

Most places in the Hudson Valley are about a 2-3 hour drive from New York City making it the perfect weekend (or mid-week!) escape. We hopped from town to town (Windham, Woodstock, Phoenicia, Saugerties, Germantown and Hudson) throughout our stay and most of them are about a 30 minute drive apart.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

WHERE TO STAY:

We stayed at Eastwind Hotel & Bar and while it was our first trip upstate, I honestly can’t imagine staying anywhere else. I’ve mentioned before that I like to stay places that feel really unique to the area and with it’s rustic, mountain charm meets cool mid-century design the Eastwind embodied how the Catskills felt to me. The common area boasted a wood-burning fireplace, vintage board games and the quaintest little bar, the property had a wooden sauna, badminton on the lawn and shared fire pit for guests at night and the rooms were swoon-worthy in every corner. We stayed in one of the King rooms, but you can also stay in a tiny A-frame cabin that offers the chance to wake up to mountain views. The whole place is honestly just gorgeous and felt really welcoming. I can’t wait to go back up when it’s all blanketed in snow this winter (ps. they’re even putting in a hot tub soon that’s going to set the whole cozy level over the top).

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

WHAT TO DO:

The joy of escaping the city and surrounding yourself with nature is that you can really just slow down. So if you want to simply sit and play games in front of a fire at the Eastwind with mountain views out the window, you should do just that. But if you want to do some exploring, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

Go Leaf Peeping – There’s plenty of paths throughout the Catskills that are going to offer sweeping views and great hikes – but if you want to take a little shortcut, Hudson Mountain uses their ski lifts in the off season to take you on a leaf peeping ride straight to the top (runs weekend’s only through mid-October). Or simply take a scenic drive – we loved the Five State Overlook in East Windham.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

Shop Small – Hudson, Woodstock and Saugerties all have endlessly cute little main streets (although Woodstock’s comes with a predictable amount of tie-dye t-shirt shops). I loved the selection of mid-century housewares at Vintage Modern on Tinker Street in Woodstock.

Saugerties Lighthouse – A short little hike out to this lighthouse for pretty views on the Hudson. Don’t forget to check the tides though, you won’t want to get stuck out there with rising waters.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

Buy a Book – You all know I love a good independent book shop and when we travel I almost always seek one out so I can pick up a book as a souvenir. There was not one but two great shops on this trip: Spotty Dog in Hudson which is magically both a bar and a bookstore and truly like the place of my dreams. And Inquiring Minds in Saugerties which also has a cute little cafe in the back, areas for reading and a record section.

Visit a Local Farm – We didn’t have time to make any stops but I’ve heard good things about Fishkill or Greig Farms.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK:

The joy of eating and drinking in Hudson is that many places were started by New Yorkers – meaning the food and drink holds up to our impossibly high standards of deliciousness here in the city. So you get to escape into nature.. but still eat like you’re in the city. Win, win.

Cucina Woodstock – Set in a beautiful old manor house with a sweeping wrap around porch, dinner here feels instantly romantic.

Suarez Family Brewery – Between Hudson and Germantown this small craft beer brewery is a great little stop off with a few beers on tap and plenty of tables for hanging out. Give a pat to the cute shop dog for me if you go, we were fast friends.

Phoenicia Diner – Kind of iconic at this point, it’s basically like if the East Village went upstate. A hipster-haven/old school diner that served up solid food (the potatoes and pancakes were our favorite).

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

Shindig – Great little lunch spot in Woodstock on Tinker Street.

Miss Lucy’s Kitchen – Maybe our favorite meal of the trip this tiny little spot in Saugerties feels like home cooking.. but elevated. Make a reservation or come early – on a Friday night we got lucky and squeezed in as the last seats available.

Fish & Game in Hudson and Gaskins in Germantown were both highly recommended to us by friends and Eastwind Hotel as well and on our next trip I hope to try them both!

Don’t forget to pick up an apple cider (or 6) from one of the many farm stands or mom and pop shops for the car ride home! Until next time!

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to Upstate New York

 

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.