Shannita en Ciudad de México

During my two years of high school Spanish classes in Texas, my nombre en español was Shannita. As much as I tried to pronounce the words and phrases in Spanish, I was never very good at it. Later in life, I also tried learning via the Rosetta Stone program. I picked up vocabulary words but speaking the language was not a strength. Little did I know how I’d use this knowledge recently on a business trip to Mexico City.

Aqui, I will share my picks for a quick trip to the capital city, one of the most populated in the world. Stay: I was in a southeast part of town in the stylish Live Aqua; it was trendy, very clean, and the amenities (Molton Brown and remote control curtains/lighting) were stellar. The lobby was decorated in books throughout, and the meals I had on property were lovely. It was close to Polanco, an upscale district with beautiful flowers and expensive villas.

Eat: attached to my hotel was Porfirio’s, and it was heavenly. I highly recommend the elote para preparar (done up nicely tableside) and the brisket tacos. The following day, my colleague was kind enough to give me an afternoon tour downtown, and we enjoyed a late lunch at Azul Histórico, which was in walking distance from many famous sights. The ambiance was quite lovely–candles strung up in trees–and the presentation of our tasty mole plates were deftly crafted.

See: no trip would be complete without a drive down the famous Paseo de la Reforma, which is often compared to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This was our thoroughfare into downtown, home of the Catedral Metropolitana (one of the largest cathedrals in Latin America) and the Palacio Nacional. Near the cathedral, once can see excavations to pyramids and architecture from earlier civilizations underneath, with reminded me of Rome. Lastly, a jaunt down a pedestrian street brought us to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is a beautiful domed building that houses an art museum and theatrical performances.

My sixteen-year-old self would have been proud of the Spanish vocabulary I retained, yet she would have been even more impressed with the exciting, fast-paced capital city. Ciudad de México es muy seguro, moderno y muy interesante. I highly recommend a long weekend visit–hire a driver, and get out into the city!

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!

Eating Our Way through Santa Monica

Aside

This weekend, my fiancé and I spent three days in Santa Monica, California. In town for a wedding, we happily ate our way through some of the best restaurants there. Headed to this lovely beach community soon? Below are some of the best places we went over the long weekend:

  • Ivy at the Shore. The Ivy is a Beverly Hills institution, and we hit this more casual location for lunch. Think colorful decoration, the famous Cobb salad (I enjoyed mine with lobster), attentive waiters, and refreshing berry champagne drinks. The outside seating area filled up quickly, and we loved having a leisurely lunch before strolling down to the touristy Santa Monica Pier.
  • The Penthouse at the Huntley. We joined some friends in a snazzy private booth here for dinner, and what a meal it was! We started with a delish charcuterie plate and marveled over the pâté. For my main course, I selected the truffle lobster macaroni and cheese–to die for!–and shared some of the chocolate panna cotta with my friends for desert. The views were incredible, and the service was excellent.
  • One Pico at Shutters on the Beach. This hotel is gorgeous and worth a visit itself, but I will happily recommend their Saturday brunch. We enjoyed tasty bubbles and their heavenly array of breads in this open and airy space directly next to the beach. Since I was still in a food coma from the previous day, I had a light mealof fresh corn soup with a zesty Caesar salad.
  • Sonoma Wine Garden. This fetching wine bistro sits atop of Santa Monica Place, and their Sunday brunch boasted six unlimited day drinking options (think elderflower mimosas) and noshable treats. Make sure you stake claim on your umbrella quickly, as these were in high demand on a sunny afternoon!
  • Casa Del Mar. This hotel, also directly on the beach, is another Santa Monica staple, yet we were finished stuffing our faces and only enjoyed a glass of wine overlooking the ocean. The atmosphere was quaint, and this was absolutely the most delightful way to cap off a lovely weekend.

The wedding we attended was at the nearby Viceroy–and it was pretty swanky. I would have loved to luxuriate by its cabana-covered pool, and they did a wonderful job with the wedding. We stayed at the Le Meridien Delfina, and while the hotel was not my favorite SPG property, the staff was pleasant, and the spicy truffle popcorn was addicting. It’s a good thing that we danced the night away at the wedding reception and walked all over town, or we would have gained a lot of weight eating our way through gorgeous Santa Monica!

Santa Monica Beach Scene from Casa Del Mar

Santa Monica Beach Scene from Casa Del Mar

Restaurant Recommendations in the City of Love

One of the most popular questions I am asked by friends and family about Paris is where to eat. Let today’s guide inspire you during your next visit to the City of Love, from the moderate to the exquisite…

In the 4th arrondissment of Paris, you have two beautiful options: Monjul and Cafe Louise. Monjul is an epicurean adventure that has really innovative food in a quaint spot in Les Marais. Cafe Louise is right across from the Centre Georges Pompidou, and when I was lucky enough to happen upon it, Louise herself recommended an incredible French dinner. It was a great experience, especially interacting with the cheerful owner.

If you head up near the Arc de Triomphe, which is where I usually am in the city, there are a couple of must-visit spots there. A very quick walk away from Etoile, Caius is so fantastic, I’ve been twice. The menus are only available in French, but the efficient servers were kind enough to translate the three-course feast options and make incredible recommendations. There are several more affordable options on Avenue Carnot, including the typical fare at Vin Coeur, which I visit each time I’m in the city, and a nearby wine bar.

Near the Arc, I also tried a Corsican place last time at the recommendation of a concierge, and it was an incredible mix between French and Italian fare. My friend and I shared the prosciutto starter, and my main course of duck was ah-mazing. The atmosphere was cozy and quaint. And lastly, for a drink, if you’re in the mood to drop 20-30 Euro for an exquisite view, go to the bar at the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile (which was formerly called Concorde Lafayette.)

As you can see by the pictures, some of the best treats are found walking around, including happening upon a creperie during a nighttime stroll or having a glass of wine while visiting the Jardin des Tuileries. As the beloved Julia Childs would say, “Bon Appétit!”