Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Commodore Perry Estate Review: European Luxury in the Heart of Austin, TX

Commodore Perry Resort Austin Review

Imagine opening a luxury hotel in the middle of a pandemic. That's exactly what Auberge Resorts did in June 2020 when it opened the Commodore Perry Estate in Austin. Nine months after the property started welcoming guests, it is blossoming into a luxury respite only a few hours from most Texas metro areas that can transport you a world least in your own mind. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Brown Beach House Tel Aviv Review: An Urban Oasis in The Heart of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Hotel Review

Finding hotel accommodations in Tel Aviv can be tough. Hotels are expensive and, many times, the price doesn’t reflect the level of expectation. It is an expensive country. 

With that in mind, I looked thoroughly for a room for my one night stay in June 2019. After hours of research, I found it theBrown Beach House. I was actually still in Tiberias when I booked the room  wanted to be in Tel Aviv to make my commute to Ben Gurion Airport for a 1AM Sunday morning flight home more palatable. Getting to the airport for a flight on Shabbat is well-planned consideration anyone visiting Israel should make.

Turns out, my last-minute decision to stay at the Brown Beach House was one of the best I've made during my 10-plus years going visiting Israel.

I found the Brown Beach House hotel, a 55-room boutique property, through Google research. It looked fun and well-situated. I was able to score a room for $275 for a Friday, June 7th stay which included a complimentary breakfast. I was thrilled with this as it was a holiday weekend with visitors flocking to Tel Aviv to celebrate Shavuot.

The hotel has a Hollywood-glam-at-the-beach vibe. The lobby is quite small but welcoming. When I arrived, the front desk attendant offered me a glass of sparkling wine, which I gladly accepted after my train from Tiberias. Check-in was a breeze and I was struck by how intimate the hotel seemed. The staff was genuinely congenial, something you don't often see in Israel.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Ritz Carlton Herzliya Review

Ritz Carlton Tel Aviv, Ritz Carlton Tel Aviv Review

From stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and best-in-class service to cuisine that will change the way you think about Israeli food, the Ritz Carlton Herzliya sets the bar for world class hospitality in Israel.

Ritz Carlton Tel Aviv, Ritz Carlton Tel Aviv Review
Just the Med, yo. NBD.
Every visit I've made to Israel has involved multiple cities in multiple hotels. My third and most recent trip in November 2017 was no different. I spent two days in Herzliya followed by four days in Haifa. Knowing that my time in Haifa was going to be "work", in the form of moving my elderly father into an assisted living facility, I wanted to enjoy a few days of my trip to the Middle East.

RELATED: Brown Beach House Tel Aviv: An Urban Oasis in the Heart of Tel Aviv

I had read about the Ritz Carlton's foray into Israel when it opened in 2013. As a Ritz Carlton loyalist, I wanted to experience this property and finally be wowed by a hotel experience in Israel. I've stayed at the Kind David in Jerusalem, the Sheraton and Intercontinental in Tel Aviv and the Scots in Tiberias. King David aside, none of them impressed me. I felt that a level of service and luxury was missing in Israel and hoped the Ritz Carlton would change that.
Saturday, August 5, 2017

W Hotel Punta Mita Review

W Punta Mita Review

The W Punta Mita is a hotel with an identity crisis. It wants to evoke everything that's cool about the hip, happening W Hotel brand. In short, it aspires to be your hot 20-year old sister. But given its location and layout, it's a family-friendly spot that's more like your fun aunt who will give you a sip of her wine when no one's looking.

I came across a great deal on Travelzoo that offered three nights at the W Punta Mita for $599. After splitting it with a friend the deal came out to less than $100 per night for each of us. Done. (TIP: keep an eye out for Travelzoo deals. They offer some outstanding luxe-for-less experiences, ranging from spa days to luxury hotel stays).
Thursday, July 13, 2017

58 Tour Eiffel Review

Eiffel Tower restaurants

There are certain restaurants in which you need to manage your expectations. Meaning, don't walk in hoping to be wowed, overwhelmed or stunned. The result, I have found, is a better dining experience overall. Paris's 58 Tour Eiffel, the brasserie-style restaurant, on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower is one of those restaurants.

Why We Decided To Eat At 58 Tour Eiffel

We have never climbed any of the platforms at the Eiffel Tower while in Paris because, candidly, we didn't want to fight the tourists or wait in line. On our most recent trip, spanning November and December 2014, we decided to go for it but still didn't want to do the lines so we opted to eat at one of the restaurants, which also grants you access to the Eiffel Tower. We didn't want to do the over-the-top foodie destination that is Jules Verne (especially with a three-year old) nor did we want to do the buffet. Instead we tried 58 Tour Eiffel, knowing full well it would probably be mediocre food and poor service.

We were right about the food. The service? Not that bad.
Monday, January 11, 2016

Where To Travel In 2016

New York Times 52 Places to Visit in 2016, New York Times Travel List, Parc Guëll, Antoni Gaudi
Parc Güell, Barcelona

Every January, I look forward to the New York Times' 52 Places To Visit feature. For 2016, Times editors consider places that will be particularly compelling to visit over the next 12 months. What makes a destination compelling? Something happening in it like a museum opening, a historical celebration and the like.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Little Dom's Monday Supper: An Awesome Dining Deal

Sticker shock in Los Angeles is as ubiquitous as Botox (no judgement....I'm a fan). From homes and gasoline to cocktails and parking, there a sunny SoCal surcharge on every day life.

As someone always looking for deal, I was thrilled to learn about Little Dom's Monday Supper. This weekly tradition at the popular Los Feliz Italian spot offers a three-course dinner for $15. You can also pick up a (full!) bottle of house red or white wine for $15 as well. It's one of the best dining deals I've come across since free sushi night Steel in Dallas.
Friday, July 10, 2015

Scenes From A Hike: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House

Frank Lloyd Wright, Ennis House, Frank Lloyd Wright Homes Los Angeles

It's not every day you stumble across a Frank Lloyd Wright house while on a powerwalk. When you do, though, it's a magical moment and worthy of sharing. That's what so great about Los Angeles, you never what you might find.

I am working in LA this month, serving as a sportscaster for the legendary CBS duopoly KCBS/KCAL. Working most nights until at least 11pm, I spend my days getting to know the greater LA area which includes a fair amount of hiking in Griffith Park's trails or hoofing it in the hilly streets of Los Feliz. I am also a house nut, primarily obsessed with architecturally significant homes.

Plainly put: beautiful and interesting homes make my architecture pants go crazy. This city is a treasure trove for house lovers and today might have been a holy grail experience.
Sunday, May 10, 2015

Paris Travel Tips | VIDEO

paris travel tips, paris hotels, paris restaurants, pont alexander bridge

"Paris is always a good idea."

Audrey Hepburn said that memorable line in the movie Sabrina. It's the truth. 

It's the truth. From the heat of summer to the chill of winter, the French capital consistently offers history, culture, diversity, entertainment and plain old fun. We haven't even talked about the food.

Where should I stay? What museums are worth my time? What stores should I visit? What day trips should I plan? Where should I eat? 
Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Best Paris Restaurants Right Now

This blog post has moved over to my new website, 
Monday, February 23, 2015

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Rangers Spring Training But Are Too Afraid To Ask

texas rangers spring training, rangers spring training 2015, texas rangers

Do you have a trip planned to Surprise, AZ for Rangers Spring Training? Wondering about the Rangers schedule? How to meet players? Where to stay, eat and play?

So many questions! I got your answers.

Check out "Everything You Wanted To Know About Rangers Spring Training But Were Too Afraid To Ask Hangout".

I cover anything and everything Rangers Spring Training.

Press PLAY to watch the Hangout HERE

How To Watch The Hangout
There two ways to watch the hangout:
  1. Click THIS link to watch on YouTube. 
  2. Simply watch from the video box in the blog post.
Click HERE to download my Rangers Spring Training cheat sheet featured in the video.

Shop My Rangers Spring Training Essentials

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Day Trips From Paris: The Champagne Region

How To Visit Champagne From Paris, Visit Champagne Houses, Visit Champagne Vineyards

If you're in Paris and have even the slightest interest in wine, making a day trip to Champagne should be on your list of "Must-Dos". The terrain is gorgeous, the wine and food are magnificent and it's a relatively easy region to access....once you figure out to get there.

The first time we tried to visit Champagne was in June 2013. I consulted a number of my friends who work in the wine industry and represent the likes of Dom Perignon, Moët & Chandon and Ruinart in the states for help. They told me it would be impossible to get into of the Champagne houses for a tasting. Taking that into account, we didn't make any advance reservations. We ended up visiting not one but two houses without any advance reservations on that trip but it cost us. A lot.

On Thanksgiving 2014, we visited Champagne again having learned our lessons: we made tasting reservations in advance for only one house and took the train to get there. It was a much more enjoyable experience and affordable to boot.

Visiting Champagne

There are 320 houses (and growing!) Champagne houses in the region. Gaining access to these houses is, for the most part, different from typical tasting experiences in the states. In Napa, for example, you can pop into most wineries without a reservation or make a reservation the day of your desired tasting. (Click HERE to learn about visiting Napa Valley with kids).  In Champagne, most tours are by appointment only and it is suggested that you make reservations a few weeks in advance.

This can be done easily online at the Champagne house's website or you could work with a tour company.

Getting to the Champagne Region

The 1st Time

When we went in 2013, we hired a driver to take my husband, my daughter and me from our rental apartment in Paris to Moët et Chandon in Epernay and then on to Tattinger in Reims. This cost us a fortune. Like $1,000 for the day. Jaw. Dropped.

Moet et Chandon, how to visit Moet & Chandon
A salon at Moët et Chandon
Granted our driver was able to finagle all three of us into Moët et Chandon and Tattinger without a reservation but the cost was ridiculous. (btw...and I almost divorced my husband over this).

The 2nd Time
In 2014, there was no way I was forking over that kind of cash for a private car. We booked two TGV tickets (our 2-year old daughter traveled for free) on Thanksgiving Day from Paris' Gare d'Est station to Reims, the older station in the heart of the city, which takes about 45 minutes. This cost about $92 per ticket. You can also take the train to the Champagne-Ardenne station in Bezannes. We met a couple from Houston on our train who bought a tasting tour which included train tickets, transfers to the chateaux and entry fees. They had priced out the package and determined it was comparable to piecing everything together on their own.

Reims train station, French train station
Reims train station

Having gone the private car route and the train route, I can wholeheartedly recommend using the train. Once you exit the main entrance at train station in Reims, there is a line of cabs waiting to take you anywhere. Beyond that, cabs are easy to get throughout Reims. Any restaurant or Champagne house will call one for you.

Visiting the Champagne Houses

For our visits to both Moët et Chandon and Tattinger in 2013, we did not have reservations. Our driver, Amadeus, was able to get us into a group tour at each house. These tours were informative and thorough but they were packed with about 20 people in each group.

Ruinart, Visiting Champagne,
The grounds at Ruinart

For our visit in 2014, we made reservation at just one house: Ruinart, the oldest house in Champagne producing the bubbly since 1729. They were quite specific as to when we could visit and at what time. We were invited to enjoy either a 10am or 2pm tasting.

When we arrived in Champagne, it was a cold, rainy, French day. Our cab took us straight to Ruinart which got us there around 9:30am. The guard at the gate would not let us in, even simply to sit and wait for our appointment. This annoyed the heck out of me. I pleaded with him in my bad French to accommodate my daughter, husband and me and let us just stand in a covered area out of the rain. He wouldn't budge. So we paid the cab driver to drive us around the city.

Moving on.

Once we did get into Ruinart at around 9:50, we were greeted by a lovely young woman named Kelly. There were only two other people on our tour, a couple from Brazil. This made for an intimate, educational and overall much better experience.

The Ruinart Visit 

Any chateau in Champagne is impressive but Ruinart was stunning. The house had recently been renovated but the "sprucing up" resulted in timelessly elegant French style that can withstand another 100 years.

How to get to Champagne from Paris, Ruinart, Champagne Tour
There are 38,340 bottles of Ruinart aging here!

Sediment in a champagne bottle, Ruinart, Champagne tasting tours
Sediment in a Ruinart bottle

We learned about the family history of Ruinart (started by Nicolas Ruinart), the reason behind its bottle shape (it results in a better product) and why Ruinart is in a class by itself (the Blanc de Blanc is made exclusively of chardonnay grapes, for one).

Champagne caves, Ruinart, Ruinart tours
Climbing down to visit the caves at Ruinart
Champagne, Ruinart, Tours of Ruinart
Riddlers turn 50,000 of these a DAY

Our tour took us deep into the caves beneath the beautiful Ruinart gardens where we saw a glimpse of Champagne's heritage. Ruinart bottles are aged on decades old racks, where riddlers twist them 1/8th of a turn daily. Kelly claimed Ruinart's two riddlers can manage 50,000 bottles a day!

The visit concluded with a tasting of our choice of two of four wines offered: Blanc de Blanc, Dom Ruinart, Dom Ruinart Rosé and R de Ruinart. I went with the R de Ruinart and Dom Ruinart.

Where to Eat in Reims

On our first visit, we had lunch on the patio at the popular Brasserie Flo centrally located on the main promenade. It's one of those places you can't miss.

For our second visit, we had a stunning lunch at Au Petite Comptoir. I couldn't tell you how to get there to save my life. Kelly at Ruinart drew directions for us but it's located on one of those typically French side streets that disappear the moment you blink. When I stopped at a police station to ask for directions, the station chief smiled and told me I was in for a phenomenal treat. God, I love how the French flirt! I simply ordered the specials. My daughter was asleep in my lap while my husband left his phone at Ruinart and had to run back there to grab it. While I enjoyed my meal alone, alas, there are no pictures to capture the experience as my phone's battery was dead. #1stWorldPains.

EVERYONE recommends Les Crayeres, the 3-star Michelin restaurant located in the Relais et Chateaux property, Chateau Les Crayeres. We couldn't get in there for lunch.

There are a number of decent places to eat on the main promenade in Reims, Les Basses Promenades.

If you're on the fence about visiting Champagne, don't be. Go! It's an easy day trip from Paris! 

France is full of stunning, historic and magical places. Champagne's beauty is in a class by itself. If you are in Paris you should, without question, try to visit this region.

My suggestions to approaching a day trip to Champagne: 
  • Find a producer that interests you and start from there. I have always loved Moët et Chandon and Ruinart. I would love to visit Krug and Veuve Cliquot on my next trip.  
  • Email the maison about reservations a few weeks prior to your trip. You will likely have pay at the time of booking. 
  • Do some Googling about your trip to get a general sense of where you will be going. The train and cab route was a breeze but it might not be for you. 
  • Tentatively schedule your day but bring an open mind. You never know where the day may take you. 
  • Most maisons will accommodate children. Check, though, to ensure they do. At both Moët et Chandon and Ruinart they provided juice and snacks for our daughter. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Travel Resolutions To Make In 2015

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallin Estonia
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallin, Estonia 
Are you making travel resolutions for 2015? So many people I know say "I will finally take that trip to ___________ (insert your dream destination here)". 

Wherever it is you want to go, do it. Don't wait. Save your money. Research and plan your trip and then GO. 

Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain
Taking a selfie before it was even a thing at Parc de la Ciutadella on my solo trip to Barcelona in 2008.

That's one thing I have always done. I wanted to go to Barcelona by myself a few years ago. I did it. Israel solo? Done. Travel is one thing in which I fully follow through on my intentions. Pretty much all the time. 

The New York Post lists 13 Travel Resolutions for 2015 and they're pretty good: 
  • Check that trip off your bucket list.
  • Invest in good luggage. This was a gamechanger for me. When I finally punted my hand-me-down suitcases, I bought a fabulous Bric's suitcase. One of my best investments, ever. 
  • Plan a solo trip. These are my favorite trips. No matter what your age, this is one of the best ways to learn more, not just about the world, but also yourself. 
  • Brush up on a language you learned in school and use it. Also try to learn a few key phrases in the language of the country you're visiting. I do this every time I visit a foreign country. You can't imagine how tough Turkish and Greek were for me. Simply attempting the language will endear you to locals in more ways that you can imagine.
  • Go to a new US city. This is something I try to do at least once a year. Discovering a new city is an absolute treat. We can get swept up in the romantic notions of Europe or South America but, don't forget, the United States has awesome towns, too. Go. Visit them. Get lost. Have fun. 
  • Explore your own city. Great advice. So many times we think our city is SO boring or SO lame. Taking time to be a tourist in your own city can lead you to discover parts of the city that are completely foreign to you...and fabulous. 
  • Set out on a road trip. I love a good road trip, complete with small town diners and fun local stores. A good road trip is a wonderful experience.
  • Unplug for a weekend or week. Digital detoxes are easier said than done. 
  • Use all of your vacation days.
  • Travel with a close companion. 
  • Check out a festival.
  • Take a walking, hiking or biking tour. 
  • Book a last minute trip. 

What Are Your Travel Resolutions?
Do you have any travel goals for 2015? Please share them in the comments section.

Travel resolutions for 2015, travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer
Pin this!

Me? I have three:
  • I want to travel more for work. Yes, I am one of those crazy people who likes business trips. 
  • Take a road trip. I am due for a good one. I would really like to do the California coast again with plenty of time to spare. 
  • Spend more time in France. I'm an addict. Sorry. 
Whatever you decide to do, make this the year you plan a trip you love. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

5 Observations About Paris

Paris, Eiffel Tower, Carousel on the Place du Trocadéro
Christmas carousel on the Place du Trocadéro next to the Eiffel  Tower

We're back from 10-plus days in Paris and are already planning a trip for 2015. Friends ask "Why do you continue to go back to a place you have visited so many times?"

Many reasons, really. In a foreign country, no matter what it is, you will always find something new to love and appreciate no matter how many times you visit. We enjoy revisiting favorite experiences like people watching at the George V hotel or visiting the Christmas markets. But we also enjoy discovering new places, like we did on our visit to Château de Fountainebleu.

Regardless, there are some things I distinctly noticed on this trip. Here are my most recent observations. Please tell me what you think in the comments section.

Better Kids Meals

We took our daughter, Jordan, with us for the third straight year. This was the first time she was able to eat pretty much what we did. At many restaurants, there are kid's menus but they're nothing like we have in the States. There isn't a chicken finger or mini pizza to be found. Most kid's menus consist of a steak or hamburger patty and potatoes, guinea fowl (offered everywhere), fish and vegetables or sausage and potatoes.

Kids meals in Paris, Restaurant Astier, French Kids Eat Everything
Jordan eating her steak and potatoes at Restaurant Astier

Jordan, who is going through the fussy eater phase, usually ate the steak and potatoes after filling up on a ton of bread. Interestingly, by the end of the trip she was much more interested in trying what we were eating. I had an epic seafood tower at Bar a Huitres on our last night. She wanted to try my clams as well as my husband's fish soup. I guess there is something to be said about French kids eating everything (I love the book, btw).

It's Not All Three-Course Gourmet Lunches And Wine

Don't be fooled that every French meal is a three course feast with wine. Parisians will eat a grab and go meal faster than you can break a baguette. Because of that, I think there's a real need for more fast-casual spots in Paris.
Fast casual dining Paris
The checkout line at the Monop'

On multiple occasions when I tried to grab a quick lunch while walking the city, I ran into lines 20-30 people deep. At the popular fast-casual London export Pret-A-Manger, there were at least 50 people in line to buy a quick sandwich or soup. At the Monop', something akin to an upscale grocery store, the lunch line was at least 25 people deep.

Tex-Mex in France, Tex-Mex in Paris, Tex-Mex, Old el Paso
This was at our local grocery store.

Other things I saw: diet food and the French version of DIY Mexican food, Old El Paso. I swear I could make a fortune opening up a Tex-Mex joint in Paris.

French Formality is NOT Rudeness

I have blogged about this before but the French get a bad rap for being rude. They are polite and expect more of the same. In the half a dozen times I have been there, on trips of 10 days or more, I have only encountered one rude waiter. One. That's it. For the most part, everyone has been cordial, warm and downright fun. Flirtatious, even.

RELATED: My Paris Travel Tips Video

A simple 'bonjour', 'au revoir', 'merci' and 's'il vous plait' go a long way. Take it a step further and practice your high school French. You will be rewarded with an impromptu French lesson and perhaps a new friend. Every time I spoke (really bad) French, it was appreciated and complimented.

They want politeness, manners and....

Dressing Up Still Counts

Despite how much more casual we seem to be getting as a society, people still dress well in Paris. Tennis shoes are a dead tourist giveaway. I wore Cole Haan and Alexander Wang booties with black denim jeans all over the city and felt fine.

I had an in-depth conversation about this with an Air France flight attendant. Her point was clear: their city is beautiful. They are a formal country and expect our appearance to reflect that. That is just one woman's opinion but her point is well-taken.

Interestingly, I didn't see a lot of makeup. I noticed more women sporting a natural face, not the done-up face I usually wear and see in Texas.

RELATED: 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant Review

Et Finalement, Everyone Smokes.

Yep, they still do. I saw a few e-cigarettes. They might be slowly catching on but the classic Marlborough Light still rules. 

What Do You Think?

Despite what any cynic says, Paris is still one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Being there is an inspiration. While the country is overwrought with exorbitant taxes and bureaucratic red tape, it's a magical place.

Christmas in Paris
Le Village Royal, Paris
What do you think? Am I totally off or spot-on? What have you noticed in your travels abroad? Please share in the comments section!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How To Travel In Style

How to travel in style, Travel style tips, yoga pants

Traveling in style is tough. You're likely going to be on the move for a few hours (meaning your clothes will get wrinkled and dirty) but you want to be comfortable. I would love nothing more than to wear fatgirl yoga pants on every flight but that's not the smartest or most sanitary way to go. Think about that for a minute.

Moving on.

For much of my career, I was the queen of the long travel day. When covering Texas Rangers spring training, for example, I had to hop on a 6am plane to Arizona, hit the ground running once we arrived in Phoenix and be on television at 10pm that night in the same clothes I wore that morning. Yeah, no time to change, much less reapply my makeup. To that end, I have been able to adopt a travel-ready wardrobe that works. 

With most of us gearing up for a holiday trip, it's the perfect time to rethink your travel style.

How to travel without looking like a slob, how to travel in style
Click on any item to learn more about it. 

KISS - Keep It Simple, Sister
I am a believer in wearing simple, smart yet stylish clothes on flights. Adopt a minimalist approach to dressing for the plane, with dark colors being key. You don't want to be wearing white pants, with a Diet Coke on your tray when turbulence hits. 

In the summer, I like a maxi dress with a scarf. In the winter its leggings or skinny jeans with a sweater or cardigan. I usually wear boots or Yosi Samra's genius ballet flats and ALWAYS bring socks for the plane. 

TIP: If you're bringing a pair of boots on your trip, wear them on the plane so they don't take up too much room in your bag. 

Learn To Love Layers 
I swear, no matter hot it is outside, planes are always freezing. Bring a warm scarf or cardigan with you for the flight. You do NOT want to use those nasty airline blankets. Yuck. I have a Gucci shawl I bought at an outlet store that I take with me on every trip.

Leave The Big Bling At Home
Don't wear a ton of jewelry on the plane. You will have to remove every piece of it when you go through security. I would definitely wear a watch, though. You don't want to lose track of time and miss your flight. Check out my tips on packing jewelry for a trip HERE.

Something Chic To Carry Your Crap
Your raggedy duffel bag isn't the way to go. A chic tote or shoulder bag to carry your work essentials, makeup, wallet, etc. goes a long way in pulling together your travel look. From Tory Burch's York Buckle Tote and GiGi New York's Hobo bag to Gucci's Swing Leather Tote (my current carryall) and C. Wonder's affordable finds, there are so many wonderful bags to choose from in a range of price points. 

What Do You Think? 
Am I hitting or missing the mark? Let me know in the comments section. What's your go-to travel outfit? If you have a travel look you love, please share it and tag me on Instagram or Twitter.

Shop This Story 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The New York Times & Wall Street Journal Spotlight Texas Travel

texas travel, texas travel guide
Texas is having a travel moment. Our fair state got a cover spread recently in the New York Times travel section with Robert Draper's "Texas, 3 Ways" profiling Houston, El Paso and Dallas. The state capital earned the spotlight in the Wall Street Journal's  "Austin, the Best New Barbecue Destination".

"Texas, 3 Ways"

Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas travel
Yoga in Klyde Warren Park/Image via Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park gets the marquee treatment, describing the park over Woodall Rogers Freeway as an "eco-friendly shredder of stereotypes" with its weekend yoga, food trucks, free books and pet adoptions.

Is the big-haired, plasticity that is my home town gone? Hardly. I am living proof of that (yes, the hair is big but, no, I haven't gone under the knife). Dallas, though, has grown both literally and figuratively in a way that anyone who lived here in the 80's might not recognize.

TIP: You can always find out what's going on at Klyde Warren Park here.

I love that Draper chose to focus on Houston's thriving Asian community. Having gone to college at University of Houston, I discovered the wonderful Vietnamese community the Bayou City had to offer, mainly in food form. I lived on Kim Son's delicious cuisine before it was a chain and scouted tiny Vietnamese holes-in-the-wall downtown.

Draper is more interested in the unique spots on Bellaire Boulevard which are, undoubtedly, worth a visit, especially the Hong Kong City Mall. I would make the argument that Houston's Asian community is SO much more than one stretch of Bellaire Boulevard.

El Paso
I have only flown through El Paso and have never experienced the city. Given it's Mexican influences, I would love it.

"Austin, the Best New Barbecue Destination"

Texas BBQ, Austin, Texas travel
Salt Lick BBQ/Image via

I joke that Austin is the Brooklyn of Texas. This piece doesn't introduce those who know Austin to anything, food-wise, that's earth shattering. Author Adam Graham hit Salt Lick BBQ and Franklin's BBQ. Meat Craft is a relative newcomer to the mix that is worth a visit.

He does mention a hotel I haven't had the pleasure of visiting: Hotel Ella, an historic property dating back to 1900 that opened as a hotel in 2013.

Your Turn: Share Your Favorite Texas Travel Spot

Bahlmorhea State Park, Texas travel
Bahlmorhea State Park/Image via Texas Parks & Wildlife

Do you have a favorite Texas vacation destination? I love that whole Big Bend area, Balmorhea State Park, Marfa or a good trip to the Hill Country. What am I missing? Please share your favorite Texas travel stops in the comments section.

Do you have a Texas lover on your holiday wish list? From t-shirts and jewelry to BBQ sauce and brisket, you can make his or her holiday with any of the Texas-themed gifts featured below. Check out my Texas style board on Pinterest.

Texas Holiday Gift Guide

Monday, October 27, 2014

Great Paris Restaurants You Need To Try

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Paris Travel Trips Or How To Meet The Man Of Your Dreams In France

arc de triomphe, paris
Arc de Triomphe
I was standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe on one of those magical Paris November days: cool but not bone-chillingly cold. While crouched on the ground and angling for the perfect shot of the famous monument, I heard a man say "Pardon, madame."

"Oui, monseiur" I said, standing up to fix my eyes on one of the most beautiful human beings I'd ever seen. I'm talking Michael Hutchence at Wembley Stadium hot.

"Would you take my picture?" he asked, obviously noting I was some random tourist.

"Pas problem," I responded, trying to impress this Frenchman with my high school English and wishing this experience was happening to me about five years ago.

I snapped the shot. He asked for my phone number while I was in Paris, jolting me back to reality. That jolt was apparent.

"You are here on holiday?" he asked with a sly smile. "Or with the airlines?" he said assuming I was a flight attendant. This wasn't Mr. Michael Hutchence look-a-like's first rodeo.

"Um, actually," I stammered and looked my left. "I'm here with my husband and daughter", pointing to Jim and Jordan.

"Quelle tragédie," he said.

Yes, it was. On my fifth trip to Paris, my first with my family, I finally had the stereotypical "flirt with a Frenchman" experience. Oh, what could have been.

On The Bright Side
Thing is, it wasn't a tragedy. It was further proof of the city's allure. In Paris, you never know where the day will take you or who you will meet. The struggle of getting there, dealing with potential language barriers and the dollar's weakness in relation to the euro are ALWAYS forgotten when met with the beauty of a city that inspires romance and a sense of adventure.

paris with a baby, paris with a toddler, paris with kids
At the Parc du Forum des Halles, November 2012
I have visited Paris and met neighbors from Dallas, oil barons from Dubai, new friends from Portugal and moguls from Austin. The city is one that breaks down those walls that we construct around us going through our daily existence.

Then there was the Michael Hutchence look-a-like. Damn....

Why Bring This Up Now? 
The husb, the kid and I are heading back to the City of Light this November (a great time to go). It will be the third straight year we've made the trip with Jordan.

It's gotten to the point where I am constantly asked about my favorite Paris stops. Those who take my recommendations are rarely disappointed.

paris with kids, paris with toddler
Paris with Jordan & a new friend at the Trocadero, 2012
I believe that traveling well is a sport. In the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Parisian adventures with you. From where to eat and sleep to secret shops and brocantes, I'll be spilling all my Parisian beans. Pardon, haricots. I'll even tell you how to get to Normandy and Champagne, the latter being a monumentally more difficult affair than it should be.

Heading To Paris Soon? 
I've written about Paris a ton: Here's how to rent a Paris apartment.  Paris avec bebe. And with a baby again. Looking for a great app to keep up to speed with Paris happenings? Hotel Pavillon des Lettres has you covered. Just search "Paris" on my blog and you'll find a bounty of travel treasures.

Explore Some Favorite Parisian Finds

Monday, August 11, 2014

How To Enjoy Napa Valley With Kids

Napa Valley with kids, Napa valley ideas for children, napa valley

Napa Valley with kids is a lot easier than you might think. Here's the thing: you need a good attitude about the trip. There will be pivots and, likely, cancellations. Flexibility is key to surviving Napa Valley with kids.

First, a bit of history. We've taken our daughter to Paris. Twice. The most recent trip involved wine tastings at Moët et Chandon and Tattinger in Champagne.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Airplane Travel Essentials

Airplane Travel EssentialsSince I started working at Los Angeles duopoly KCBS/KCAL, I have been working in LA Wednesday through Sunday and flying back to Dallas on a redeye early Monday morning every other week to do work for FC Dallas.

I have gotten my travel game down. I have learned (FINALLY) how to pack without checking a bag.  A good travel bag is key. I picked up this Swiss Gear rolling carry-on bag at Target. It's been an absolute gamechanger.  Tumi and Victorinox also make great ones.

No matter where I'm headed there are certain essentials I always take with me on a flight. I have learned through years of road trips covering the Cowboys, Mavs and more that if you fail to plan, you've got a plan to fail on a flight.

Here are my airplane travel essentials: 
  1. Headphones - noise-canceling headphones are a must. 
  2. iPad - again, a must. I keep magazines, books, TV shows and movies on here. 
  3. A Comfortable Maxi Dress - these are a great travel option. They keep you covered while not being too hot or bulky. 
  4. Jack Black Natural Mint Lip Balm - great for moisturizing both on the plane and off. Double bonus? It provides sun protection with SPF 25. 
  5. A Big Tote - my Gucci Swing Leather Tote holds everything you see here...and then some. It's an airplane essential. The Tory Burch York Tote is outstanding, too, and at $295  is a bit friendlier on the wallet.
  6. Keihl's Creme de Corps - Keihl's is the traveler's best friend. You buy one bottle of lotion or an eye cream like their Creamy Eye Treatment and you will score samples galore. They will give you a small bottle of Creme de Corps that is TSA-approved. Just ask. A little of this goes a long way. 
  7. Caudalíe Beauty Elixir - airplane cabin air is so drying, this adds moisture to help your face stay hydrated. This is also a great after-shave for men. 
  8. Eye Masks - I use them and love them. They're essential when trying to sleep.
  9. Toothpaste - I don't need to explain this, do I? The toothbrush is a given, isn't it?
  10. derma e Hydrating Eye Cream - packed with hyaluronic acid to help keep the thin, dry skin beneath your eyes hydrated. 
  11. Hunter Wool Socks - I wear them and don't apologize for it. They keep your feet toasty warm.
  12. Shawl - instead of those skeegy airplane blankets I bring my own shawl. It also serves as my "coat" on trips. I clean after every extended holiday. 
I always bring an empty water bottle to fill when I pass security. If you want a pre-stocked TSA-approved travel bag packed with toiletries, there are some brilliants ones available for both men and women for under $15.

For advice on selecting and packing jewelry for a trip, read this.

What are your airplane must-haves?

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