I definitely need to start the Advent one earlier next year; I can’t believe that SO many sold out by the time the piece went live.
For the last quarter of 2017, I stayed in Vancouver, which is very unusual for me. So it’s no surprise that I’ve already visited Athens, London x 2 and NY since the start of the year.
I usually post a separate entry for each city – but not this time (probably because I feel like I’m running out of time to write before my next adventure). I’ve decided to do quarterly travel reports this 2018.
Athens came as a surprise as my friend was going to be there working and visiting her friend and I thought I would tag along. Check out the Athens City Guide I curated for BELLA LA here. I was very much into Greek mythology when I was in elementary and I’m a huge fan of the food so I was sold.
Since it was incredibly last minute I purchased a bunch of one ways. Just getting to Athens was painful (Vancouver to Calgary to Toronto to London to Athens!) but once I was there I settled in at the CocoMat Athens hotel just fine.
Nestled in a great location of Kolonaki, the CocoMat Athens has a concept bespoke mattress (CocoMat) store below an ultra modern boutique hotel. It was everything I always ask for in a hotel: clean, design savvy, great water pressure with excellent drainage (you may laugh – but have you seen my hair?) yummy drinks in the mini bar and a bed to top all hotel beds I have ever slept on. I live for breakfast, and CocoMat’s spread was incredible. Although the coffeemaker was slightly intimidating the fresh yogurt was fantastic (Greek yogurt is just yogurt in Greece 😉 ).
Athens has a great mix of the quintessential European charm (small boutiques, lovely cafes with al fresco dining). Behind the Akropoli Metro station was the hidden gem, Froots Juice Bar. A warm ‘Almond Lover’ (almond milk, cacao powder, cinnamon and brown sugar) was the perfect way to recharge.
Beyond the sporadic cafes and cobble stone streets, there is a mix of Athens street art areas (Exarcheia and Neapoli) with the occasional riot police spotted after hours. Walking along the Acropolis and the Agora, the same place where Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle was a great honour. Besides checking out the obvious ruins, I also went to the Museum of Cycladic Art which antiquities were housed in a beautiful mansion. I fell in love with the cafe and Vancouver Emily Carr artist (who was of Greek descent) had a piece of modern art that really caught my eye. The National Archaeological Museum had the largest collection of Roman ruins outside of Italy, but my favourite was the Acropolis museum by far.
We had the pleasure of making a traditional Greek meal with Melina Selalma. A former TV cooking show host, she was so delightful and informative. We learned a lot about the origin of ingredients and a few recipes we could replicate at home. Whenever I’m away, I always like to do some sort of cooking class because of the fresh ingredients that you can find based in the area you are in. Visiting Athens only made me love olives and yogurt more.
Initially I went for NYFW to check out some shows. It ended up being a few impromptu meetings, a fashion show (Mac Duggal), a catch up birthday brunch with my East Coast friends and my biggest media appearance to date – an NBC NEWS BETTER segment on Valentine’s Day about The Love List.
I stayed at a great new hotel called the LIFE Hotel. It was the original building where LIFE Magazine was published. It is my new fave and it’s in such a great NoMad location, easy enough to get around and The Henry restaurant (the hotel restaurant) is so great. The pizza, the drinks, the breakfast – its all so great.
The NBC NEWS BETTER segment was a Facebook Live video taped at 30 Rockefeller Center. It was an amazing experience. During one of my first visits to NY, I went to the NBC studios to take a tour. I remember walking through all the halls and such and wondered if I would ever return. Almost ten years from that moment, I was filming a segment in the same building. Check it out here.
After the taping, I lined up for a Magnolia cupcake and then took a taxi to the airport to head home.
After Athens, I went to London for a weekend in January and then I was back in early March.
During the weekend, I stayed in Notting Hill at the Laslett. It’s a cute boutique hotel in a renovated mansion. I went to Harrods for the first time ages. I forgot how huge and how insanely busy it is. I picked up my new notebook from Smythson with the saying “Make it Happen” stamped on it.
The next day, I quickly visited The Shard and had yummy lunch at the Shangri-La and realized that I somehow wanted to visit the building again. The trip to see the view from the bathroom was spectacular – although it was cloudy. I thought about visiting the Natural History Museum, but the queue was so long that I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum for the Balenciaga exhibit instead. I’m a fan of Balenciaga so it worked perfectly. After, I went to the Ginstitute at the Distillery on Portobello Road and made my own concoction of gin. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to sample my bottle.
In early March, I had the opportunity to visit London again. I attended two workshops at The Shard with Warwick Business School for the first two days of the trip. I was getting accustomed to taking the tube as I was staying at the Hoxton Shoreditch. East London is a very different area from Notting Hill for sure.
A good majority of my meetings were cancelled so I went to visit the beautiful Sky Garden to check out the view and made a stop at Hearst UK.
On the weekend, I visited DryBy get some cool nail art done before heading to the Tate Modern. The last time I was there, I was 23 (?) so I definitely needed a refresher. Finished the evening with drinks at the Corinthia and then dinner at the Lido Restaurant at the Curtain. Its’ always great to visit a city and have the ability to walk around rather being always driven.
The next day was a full on shopping day starting with lunch at Mortimer House (with a quick stop at the British Museum) and arrived back at the hotel unable to feel my feet (ha!) and then it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready to go home. Although I couldn’t wait to head back home, for the first time in my life – I miscalculated my travel time and ended up having to be rerouted to Calgary instead of Toronto. It actually worked in my favour as it got me home earlier.
Until next quarter….