Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Contrary to my typical habits, I'm not a shopper when I travel. I much more prefer the reward of photos and memories as souvenirs. Though during my recent trip to Singapore, the cozy, independently-owned boutiques of the famous Haji Lane had a lure that I could not resist.
To date this dramatically pleated top is one of my favorite clothing purchases from a vacation. The design speaks to everything that Haji Lane is -- one of a kind. The narrow pedestrian street is lined with boutiques you won't find anywhere else, each with its own personality. I personally love the ability to pair this top with the simplest outfit without really being simple at all. Shopping on Haji is as much a cultural experience as most other local tourist sites, and it's at the top of my list for a longer visit on my next trip to Singapore.
Monday, January 16, 2017
I'm writing this just after reading a letter addressed to myself, written by myself as an 18 year-old high school senior. "As of now, I have big plans for myself," it reads. I remember my excitement about this class assignment asking us to write letters to our future selves, to later be mailed out by the school five years later. It was, however, that last thing I expected to receive on this typical January weekend.
I've come to learn that your twenties are precious. It's a time of instability, discovery, and endless cycles of challenge and success. Reading this letter quickly had me holding back tears, as cliché as that sounds. Not for reasons of nostalgia or regret, but more out of realization. Of the goals I had set for myself five years ago, almost all have been accomplished thus far (minus consistent exercise of course). It was that kind of realization that makes you step back to acknowledge everything you have to appreciate.
Emotionally speaking, the start of this new year has been exactly what the twenties are -- unpredictable. Waves of feeling burnt out are followed by elation and determination, and often times I'm not sure what my next steps should be. But realizing that I've now exceeded my 18 year-old expectations is a small but much-needed feeling of encouragement. As my final partnership with Reebok's #PerfectNever campaign, I want to pass off the reminder that the inevitability of challenge should never offset accomplishment of any scale. Stay proud of your present and determined for your future. Things will fall into place. Please excuse the cheese.
Thank you to Reebok for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
If there is one thing I can say about New Orleans, it's that you will never forget it. The city grows on you unpredictably, with a wonderfully bizarre culture unmatched by anywhere else in the world. I'll admit I didn't fall in love with NOLA in a day, but it didn't take much longer to become immersed into its incredibly unique community. There is no definitively ideal way to experience the Crescent City, but I've shared all the highlights from my recent trip below:
The French Quarter is home base for most visitors to New Orleans, and rightfully so. For those who prefer leisurely vacations, you can easily spend days here roaming the pastel-colored streets, gaining ten pounds from all the food, and another ten from all the drinks.
WHERE TO GO:
- Jackson Square sits at the heart of the French Quarter at the foot of St. Louis Cathedral. From here it's an easy walk to just about anywhere else in the neighborhood, but don't miss a stop at the church and Louisiana State Museum.
- Royal Street speaks for itself. Between restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and rows of iconic terraces, this is the best street to spend your time on (during the day, at least).
- Canal Street is the place to catch a glimpse of the classic streetcars. Other than some mainstream shops and hotels, you won't need more than a brief stop here.
- Bourbon Street is undoubtedly a cliché, though you can't help but love it. Grab a Hurricane and head out here for a slightly grimy but fun time. I suggest checking out The Famous Door for all the rock throwbacks you could ask for (think: Journey).
- Frenchman Street for a jazz-infused night with the locals. All our Uber drivers chose this small strip of city blocks over Bourbon. It's not exactly in the French Quarter (more like Faubourg Marigny), but I thought I'd throw the suggestion in any way.
WHAT TO DO:
- Free Tours by Foot for a morning tour that will give you a low-cost overview of NOLA's history without putting you to sleep. Our tour guide did not fail to mention the gross history of America's first pharmacy (below).
- Stop for free jazz music on the city streets. My favorite photo from our vacation is of a family who has been playing on the streets for over thirty years. Pieces of culture like this separate a city from all others.
- Take the St. Charles Streetcar around town for just $1.25. You'll get a view of some gorgeous mansions with an experience that is unique to the city.
- Pay for a jazz show at Preservation Hall. This is something I wish we had gotten around to. Without a bar or food to offer, this music venue is strictly about the music. I heard the resident jazz band is playing at Coachella this year, but I'll wait to get at $25 ticket here next time.
- Talk to the locals. They're friendly, laid back, and almost never hesitant to carry a good conversation. Plus, they offer the best travel tips.
The Garden District is mostly residential, but absolutely worth the stroll. Lined with stunning mansions, this neighborhood houses many familiar celebrities and movie sets (Beyoncé, Sandra Bullock, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for example). It is a much-needed, quiet break from the French Quarter.
WHERE TO GO:
- Commander's Palace for the most famous fine dining experience in New Orleans. More to come on food at the end of this post.
- Magazine Street for a shopping and snacking experience that slightly reminds me of Brooklyn's vibe. I especially loved the curated home goods boutiques that sit quietly on this street. Don't miss District Donuts!
- Lafayette Cemetery for a truly New Orleans walk through history. Free Tours by Foot offers very informative walking or self-guided tours through this area.
WHAT TO EAT + DRINK
By far the most important thing to note in NOLA
Café du Monde: The iconic beignet stop in New Orleans. You can't do NOLA without a visit here, regardless of how "touristy" it may sound. Pair up your sugary beignets with a cup of café au lait, and your dentist will thank you. Pro tip: don't forget to brush the excess sugar into your coffee before eating!
Stanley: For a fried oyster brunch. I personally have a weakness for oysters made all ways, so this meal was the perfect way to kick off our trip. This restaurant offers deliciously Southern-infused brunch dishes from the heart of the French Quarter -- I recommend the Eggs Stanley!
Royal House: This restaurant came highly recommend from a few of my influencer friends (Van/Erica), so I knew it would be one to remember. I ordered the Oysters Rockefeller to start, followed by a fried eggplant/oyster dish with the most amazing sauce I've had in a while. Ask to sit on the terrace for a fun view of the city (and potentially a dancing Darth Vader).
Commander's Palace: As I wrote above, for the most famous dining experience in the city. This spot has its reputation for a reason as the food, ambiance, and service were all fantastic. I ordered the seafood gumbo and a bread pudding soufflé to share, with a side of the best lunch special -- 25 cent martinis.
Sucré: For your afternoon sugar fix. The pretty desserts and ice cream here are enough to fuel you for the rest of the day, along with an ambiance that takes you straight into France. There are locations in both the French Quarter and Garden District, so you have no excuse to miss it.
Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone: For your only classy drink in New Orleans. This bar is designed as a beautiful carousel that actually spins (slowly, of course) while you sip on cocktails. If you're in need of a break from Bourbon Street, grab a quiet cocktail here.
Drip Affogato Bar: Probably the most un-southern thing we ate, but still delicious. This modern café offers creative combinations of affogato flavors that are just as appetizing as they are appealing.
- Acme Oyster House: For the ever-popular charbroiled oysters. Can you tell how much I like oysters yet? We waited about half an hour in line to get a table here, but it was well worth it.
- Drago's: Another strong contender for charbroiled oysters. The restaurant is surprisingly housed inside a Hilton hotel, but even the locals recommend it.
- Seed: For your health kick. One of my cousins is vegan so we were put to the challenge of finding appropriate options in a sea of fried seafood and sugary treats. Seed offers vegan spins on southern comfort food that does not lack in flavor. I recommend the BBQ sandwich!
- Mariza: Because Italian food is always a good idea. This chic restaurant sits out of the way from anything else, but it is worth the cheap Uber ride. I loved the lamb gnocchetti!
Monday, January 2, 2017
Hello, 2017! I still can't believe how quickly you've come. With the relaxing nature of Christmas weekend, every year I find myself scrambling afterwards to make plans for New Years. This time around, my boyfriend and I opted to stay in for a cozy celebration with just the necessities -- Netflix and excessive amounts of food, of course.
I remember in college feeling self-pressured to celebrate New Years in the glitziest, most sequin-covered way possible. I'm still not much older, but this time the new year felt more like a quiet reminder than a holiday -- to appreciate, prioritize, pursue, and grow. A night together over wine and cheese followed by a West Village morning was all we needed to ring in 2017. How did you celebrate?
Photo Credit: Victor (the bf)
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
As I write this I'm now realizing it's my third consecutive year concluding with a travel post. I guess you can predict my priorities. There is no doubt that my destinations are of the first things I think of when reflecting on a year. 2016 has had no shortage of incredible adventures -- check my travel tag for proof. But looking back on this year and all that has changed, the first thing I'll remember is that home is truly where the heart is.
This year has been defined by adulthood. I started my full-time career, my sister left for college, and my boyfriend and I re-secured our relationship. My sister and I are now both living apart from our parents, and in some ways it feels like we've now all become closer. With change it's a blessing to know you have constants. For me, it's the shoulders I have to lean on that I appreciate the most.
These photos were taking at a family wedding on the last day of our trip in Asia, where I spent a consecutive week with solely my parents for the first time in a while. As the last trip of an ever-changing year, it was a reminder that home is family, and it will follow me anywhere. With this transition away from the holidays, out of 2016, and into the new year, it's moments shared with those closest that I will carry through.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
As much as I loved Malaysia, Singapore quickly became my favorite city on this trip. Between the sense of innovation and fusion of cultures, it felt like the perfect blend of New York City and Shanghai, the two cities I hold closest to my heart. We spent our first day in Singapore at its heart of modernism, Marina Bay. Despite its reputation as the tourist hub, there is really no other experience like it.
For anyone making a visit to Marina Bay, fortunately all the best sights are within walking distance (although don't ditch your sneakers -- it is still quite a bit of walking!). I recommend a full day in this area to truly enjoy the sights without adding stress to your vacation. When your day of adventuring is over, take the subway just one stop over to enjoy a night market dinner at Lau Pa Sat. You will need a full meal after a day in the Lion City!
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Second to Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi is Penang's second most popular destination with its long stretches of white sand beaches. With an easy half-hour drive from our Georgetown hotel, we spent our second and last day in Penang on a brief adventure to the area. While it's no Caribbean, Batu Ferringhi has its own unique sights to offer between tropical gardens and deliciously local food.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
I'll admit this is the longest break I've taken from blogging, but leave it to a long-awaited trip to get me re-energized and re-inspired. My parents and I recently traveled to Southeast Asia for a week of adventuring through Malaysia and Singapore concluded by a family wedding.
Truthfully I had no idea what to expect from this trip, but I left with a reminder of my love for Asia. The history and culture that define these regions are vibrantly unique and refreshingly different from our familiar surroundings. As of now I'm just waiting for the day I get to return. Read on and stay tuned for highlights from our travels abroad.
Monday, November 28, 2016
It's about that time of the year again when my wardrobe gets darker as temperatures drop lower. When it comes to battling a cold winter morning routine, I'm all about getting ready faster to sleep in longer. Hence my unchanged, everyday makeup involving just two strokes of winged liner.
Head-to-toe monochrome has always been my go-to when it comes to effortless outfits, though the best part is making it look different each time. In this case that means adding textured tweed details and hints of gold. If there is any accessory that best pairs with my dark winter wardrobe, it's this black/gold timepiece from Daniel Wellington.