A Day in the City of Sisterly Love

Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” yet this weekend, it was that of sisterly love, as my sister Jamie and I spent eight jam-packed hours touring the city. Since we were only there for a very short while, we had to make the most of our time. We began with brunch at Parc, a lovely brasserie at the bustling Rittenhouse Square. My sister would recommend the French toast, while my two eggs any style provided the perfect energy to fuel a fast-paced day.

To optimize our time, we decided to let Stray Boot’s city tour lead us around Old Town. Like a scavenger hunt, this app-based tour was perfect for seeing the popular tourist destinations, such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the home of Betsy Ross, and Benjamin Franklin’s post office. It also took us to some spots we may have missed like the charming Elfreth’s Alley and the portrait gallery at the Second Bank.

After two hours, we finished our tour and walked across downtown to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, home of the steps from Rocky. We did our best touristic version of that famous scene before enjoying a cold soda from the museum’s cafe. Because of our strict timeline, we weren’t able to visit the museum’s exhibits, but the building itself and the surrounding area were beautiful. We finished our day with photos at Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture and City Hall, a gorgeous building with William Penn statue-ing at the top.

No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a Philly cheesesteak, which we scarfed down hungrily at Steve’s Prince of Steaks. In summary, it was a fantastic day of touristic adventuring, American history, local cuisine, and sisterly bonding. I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson: “But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.”

The Joys of Flying

My most current business trip started as most do: I called Uber for my lift to the airport while doing some last-second packing. After many years of traveling for work, I have fitting it all in down pat, although this pre-trip rush always gives me adrenaline. At the airport, I head to a different terminal, as I’m flying on US Airways this particular trip. As a long-time American Airlines fan, I was dreading flying this merging airline, especially with some updates announced today that are sending us frequent AA flyers into a tailspin.

Nevertheless, my trip went was fairly non-eventful–except for some small hiccups. So, here are some friendly reminders for all of us on a flying metal tube to have a pleasant flight:

  • Although your ring tone is a loud “Sweet Child of Mine” by the great Guns ‘N Roses, after the plane door is closed, it’s probably a good idea to silence your phone and have it in airplane mode.
  • Come to think of it, phones should always be in quiet mode during a flight, especially when you’re composing emails the entire trip. That means you, 6B.
  • I can’t understand why passengers seated in the rear of the plane place their carry on luggage near the bulkhead. Those spots fill up so fast, then those who are by law required to stow all luggage have nowhere to put their belongings…which can cause delays!
  • What you’re grabbing for balance every time you get out of your seat is actually the back of the passenger’s in front of you. Remember: we’re all in this together!
  • I’ve read multiple times recently in travel forums how few people actually respond to the flight attendants when they greet boarding travelers. I decided to preempt their greetings with one cheerful “good morning!!” of my own. It’s not only the polite thing to do, but they have been very lovely in response.

Hopefully, this week’s post comes across as a positive one. Travel is definitely my passion, even though I have to remind myself during delayed flights and encounters with rude passengers. We road warriors must remember that it’s all worth it–especially the opportunity to experience new cities, meet new people from around the world, and enjoy the rare–but incredible!–personal excursions we get to take.

 

Destination: DIFFA Dallas

This week, I’d like to invite you to join me for a journey to Dallas, Texas, where I spent this weekend supporting a wonderful cause at House of DIFFA Masquerade 2014. At its annual fundraising gala, the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS’ (DIFFA) Dallas chapter raised over a million dollars to fight HIV/AIDS. I am fortunate to know several people on the board of this charity that annually pour their hearts and souls into making this event fabulous, and fabulous it was.

From the glamorous masquerade theme to a high-octane runway show, House of DIFFA 2014 was a night of spectacle, excitement, couture, and luxury. While this event is not necessarily in the travelogue sphere, it’s certainly worth writing about and showcasing a wonderful organization to support. And who knows…perhaps you’ll be inspired to travel to Dallas next year to experience DIFFA’s next over-the-top soiree. I know I’m hoping to be there.

A Favorite Travel Photo

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Whether I have my hefty Canon EOS, my new Sony NEX-3NL/B, or even just my iPhone 5, I am always taking pictures of interesting things on my journeys. And not just of the famous sites…I like to find unique shots to capture the spirit of a destination. One of my favorite travel photographs was just such a picture: a beautifully colored building in the streets of Lisbon. Even though I was in Portugal for less than 24 hours on a business trip in 2010, this sight intrigued me. Now, four years later, it is still my desktop background.

What is your personal favorite travel photo?

Street Scene in Lisboa

Street Scene in Lisboa

A Sunny Weekend in Laguna Beach

My boyfriend and I were ecstatic to join three other couples this past weekend in Laguna Beach, California. Although I used to live fifteen minutes away from there, each trip I am reminded how gorgeous this part of the world is! And the springy weather made the weekend absolutely perfect to enjoy morning walks on the beach and time on the balcony listening to the waves.

We stayed at the Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, and it had a perfect location a block away from the water. It was close to several of the activities we enjoyed–a tasty dinner at Mozambique, Thai massages for the boys, and pedicures for the girls. I would certainly book a room at this hotel for our next journey.

One of my absolute favorite hangouts in Orange County the Ramos House Cafe. In old San Juan Capistrano, this rustic spot was an excellent brunch locale. Its owner lives in the house, stores the wine in the cellar, and grows the herbs on-site. I’ve been lucky enough to dine there on multiple occasions, and each one is a treat with their famous Scotch Quail Egg Bloody Marys. This brunch is not for the faint of heart, though: come prepared to spend a set $40 on two courses and leave stuffed (as I did on truffle mac n’ cheese.)

Another highlight of this trip–besides walking hand-in-hand with Jacob and window shopping  at many of Laguna’s amazing art galleries–was dinner at Sapphire Laguna. Our party of eight’s table was not yet available during the time we arrived, and the lovely manager treated us to sparkling champagne during our brief wait. We paid a small corkage fee and enjoyed some heavenly wine with our incredible salads and main courses. I treated myself to the Chianti Braised Short Rib, and it was absolutely delightful. The staff was attentive and festive–as they helped us celebrate the birthday of our friend Alisa. What a treat!

Laguna Beach was also the perfect place to try out my brand new camera, the incredible Sony NEX-3NL…our group took wonderful photos with it the entire trip! After only a short weekend in this seaside heaven, we were sad to leave. We had a gorgeous farewell cocktail at the Splashes Bar at the nearby Surf and Sand Resort before an uneventful and short flight home. With already-made plans to return , I look forward to revisiting this quaint beach town in California very soon.

Things To Do While You’re Alive

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Several years ago, I came across an advertising campaign that inspired me to travel more and live life to the fullest more. Since then, I’ve lived abroad, traveled as much as time would allow, and have opened myself up to new possibilities. While I can’t recall the product that the five ads below were selling, I can still be inspired by these lists of things to do while I’m alive. While “go to the Kentucky Derby” is very much still on my bucket list, I have bargain hunted in Marrakesh, seen a Broadway show front and center, taken my mom on a vacation, and driven on the autobahn. What is on your list of things to do while your alive?

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Instagrenoble, France

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Last week, a work trip took me to Grenoble, France, where I was fortunate enough to mix business with pleasure: networking over a French cooking class, amazingly affordable wine, and crazy weather. One day, it would be fabulously sunny, and … Continue reading