Welcome to New York!

Taylor Swift wrote us a song–Welcome to New York–and it was the soundtrack of our visit there recently. In that vein, I thought I’d write a melody of my own to sum up our weekend there. Maestro, if you please…

New York is Cold
A Melody by S. Bates

Brrr! Brr! Wear your scarf.
Freeze freeze…with hat and gloves!
The 9/11 Memorial is profoundly gorgeous
And filled with thoughts of love.

Subway to Soho; get your Metro card.
Stop in Prada en route to warm up…
Meet friends from college over brunch
at Hundred Acres over bub(bles).

Head uptown down the avenue;
Ignore the freezing wind (freezing wind!)
Stroll hand-and-hand in Central Park
Before spotting the Plaza and going in!

A glass of Malbec at the bar
Will warm you like nothing can.
Head down Fifth Avenue to experience
The deliciousness that is Bergdorf Goodman.

Here the cafe is a dream–
The best to celebrate…
Friends, family, art deco, impeccable service,
And your fiance’s birthday.

Bundle up…bundle up!
The rest of the trip is a whirl.
Dining at Vice Versa and A Voce
Makes you ready to get on a diet, girl!

Check out of the fabulous W Downtown;
Hop an Uber and head to JFK.
You avoided the winter storm.
Go home, warm up, hurray!

I knew I was an global business traveler and an amateur photographer, but until I wrote the above (possibly Grammy-winning) ballad, I had no idea that songwriting was in my future. (Insert sarcasm here.) Even with my lack of musical talent, I hope you’ll agree with me that a trip to cold NYC is the perfect thing to do in January, provided one has a fabulous winter coat. Welcome to New York!

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.”

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.

A Weekend in Dallas

I am heading to a glamorous destination this weekend: it’s urban and magnificent…it’s Dallas. I’ve lived in the nation’s 9th largest city for over a decade now and have greatly enjoyed exploring all of the wonderful things to do in my adopted hometown.

I always say that Dallas is not a tourist-y place to visit, but it is a fantastic place to live. With the incredible retail options at Northpark or Highland Park Village, or sampling delish cuisine from D Magazine‘s 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas, we have world-class options for shopping and dining.

The weather in Big D this weekend is forecast as perfect pre-summer temperatures (before it gets too hot), and here are some of my recommendations on what to do on a gorgeous June day:

  • Patio (verb): to sit with friends on an outdoor terrace, while imbibing on a glorious cool beverage. I plan to do just that at the Place at Perry’s, although I love the Katy Trail Ice House, Chuy’s, or Sangria.
  • Brunch (also a verb): a Saturday or Sunday tradition, where lovely restaurants have a special mid-day menu. The best are complete with bottomless mimosa or bellini specials. My go-to options are Taverna, Villa-O, or the Libertine. (July 2013 addition: Boulevardier, which is certainly worth a trek to the Bishop Arts District!)
  • Be Outdoors: I live very close to the Katy Trail. Once a railroad track, it is now a hike and bike trail that attracts people that are working on their fitness. I can walk to the aforementioned Katy Trail Ice House in less than 30 minutes from my house. Nearby is also Turtle Creek, which has some grassy areas perfect for a picnic.
  • Park It: Dallas’ version of Central Park, Klyde Warren Park, opened last fall, and it is the perfect urban escape between Uptown and Downtown. On the weekends, it is food-truck-o-rama, and one can find culture there with live music and occasional free admission to nearby museums, such as the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Garden.
  • Touristic: if you must be a tourist, may I recommend a walking tour of Downtown? You can view the conspiracy theories at the Grassy Knoll and tour the Book Depository building. There are few places to eat/drink/be merry downtown, but I’d recommend staying at the Magnolia and walking to Stephen Pyles’ Samar for dinner, followed by drinks at Prohibition (which used to be the Chesterfield.)
  • Photogs: I sometimes explore through the lens of my camera, and one could pop over to Deep Ellum to see the whimsical sculptures. I also love taking visitors over to Las Colinas to snap photos of the mustang sculptures or to find the “BIG Things Happen in Dallas” letters in which to pose.

If you are looking for more to do this weekend, Central Track always has a great list of things to do. Wherever you are in the world, happy weekend!