February 8, 2017
I am officially obsessed with Air BnB! Whoever created this site (hey rich guys I’m talking to you) is a genius. My best friend Danny and I decided we needed a little birthday get away to break the monotony of winter and since we both have a birthday on the same week, it was a match made in heaven, Paris heaven to be exact. Since it was my 3rd time to France and his first time to Europe (which is crazy to me, Europe is everything you need and more, if you haven’t been – drop what you are doing RIGHT NOW and run away to Europe) I decided to try out the famed Air BnB that everyone talks about. I know I probably should have gotten on this train sooner given how much I love to travel and how much I love to check out other peoples houses, (duh hillary, you are so behind the times) but I was always so skeptical that I would end up in some creepy axe murderer house filled with bugs and dirty pillows. Whelp, I admit it – I was wrong!
Air BnB has really got this niche market locked down and done right. They have all the reviews you could need from other people, solid pictures, and good feedback so you end up getting exactly what you expect. I was in Paris a year ago and stayed at the really beautiful hotel Notre Dame Saint Michel and it was great, but the room was tiny and it cost a zillion dollars. So since I didn’t want to share a tiny room with my best man friend (love you Danny, but you snore) I decided we needed to upgrade to an apartment. Air BnB had so many great options all over the city, with great photos etc. I was pretty set on staying the the Latin Quarter/ Saint Michel because it’s close to so many things. I found us an amazing 2 bed apartment, for less money than a hotel. Needless to say – we lived it up in this awesome apartment. I checked some local real estate offices while I was there and figured out that the place we were staying in was probably a million dollar 2 bed flat, for $345 a night (High season it’s $500). Um yes, please!
Here it is:
My room with private balcony!
exterior we had the Triple private balcony in middle, perfect for wine thirty.
So we pretty much had the best birthday ever! Dancing the night away at every gay bar in town (well I danced, Danny hit on cute guys) wine, baguettes, touring around, and all that Paris has to offer. But Danny and I both agreed that our apartment was one of the highlights. It’s amazing how when you travel your “home base” can really set the mood. Having space to spread out, have a little dinner party, make espresso, drink wine on our private balcony, etc. really made it extra special. So in conclusion… AIR BnB for life!! I’m drinking the Kool-Aid!
Walking the streets of Paris
Rose De Paris, huge ferris wheel that we rode, I had a panic attack at the top...good times
We went to the far North of the city for the Paris Flea Market
Birthday buddies on the Seine!
January 21, 2017
I recently took my Mom on a 70th Birthday trip to Charleston, SC. I had been reading in Travel & Leisure magazine that it was the “Coolest City in America” and really had to prove this somewhat drastic statement for myself. As with anything opinions can vary from person to person but claiming a small town in the South was that amazing seemed a bit of a stretch. I’m always open to proving myself wrong so hopped on a flight with my favorite lady and headed down.
Initially I wasn’t all that impressed: small airport, lackluster developments, a lot of beige, and an overwhelming feeling that I had been mislead. After we arrived at our hotel we hit the town in search of a cocktail and that’s when I really started to get a feel for the city. All of the locals were extremely nice and willing to give suggestions, directions, and general information which is always appreciated when you want to get right to the good stuff. The downtown was lovely with a lot of shopping and restaurants to explore as well as some small parks and historic monuments. One of my favorite aspects is the bar scene (not just because I love a good drink) but because there are some really unique settings for bars, a church that has been renovated into a bar, old houses that have turned into restaurants, and roof top patios. I was impressed with a social scene and would certainly recommend Charleston as a Bachelorette destination for anyone.
My Mom suggested we take the “Old homes tour,” and never one to miss an opportunity to wander through a strangers house, I was immediately ready to rock. It was a great way to get a feel for the interiors of some of the beautiful mansions and historic homes that give Charleston its unique feel. Many of the homes have what’s called a “Piazza” which is basically a long open air porch that runs the length of the house and has multiple entries into the house, it’s usually held up by columns which provide a grand feel to what I would consider a gorgeous side porch. The original design plan was to help with the heat of the South by capturing the cross breeze and providing ventilation on a large scale to the house. Charleston is a lot of things, but in my mind it is the land of amazing porch/patio/veranda/decks…
Which got me somewhat confused; what really is the precise difference between all of these exterior sitting spaces? I always say deck when I mean porch and porch when I mean patio and patio when I mean veranda and then I think, “what am I even saying?” Well here it is to clarify for all of us;
Porch: First off it is COVERED (has a roof) and is external to the building, usually it is at the front or back of the house and can be enclosed with screen, glass, windows.
Deck: A deck is flat and has no roof, usually elevated or just above the ground level and has a railing, a place you would imagine having a BBQ grill, can many times connect two spaces or provide access to multiple doors. Usually made of wood construction.
Patio: Patios are on the ground and are a paved like area either made with stone, brick, slate, etc. It is a space in the grass that is made for dining and entertaining at ground level. Can be attached to the house or detached.
Balcony: These are always attached to the house and elevated. They can be covered or not covered and can protrude from the house or not (which would be a Juliette balcony).
Veranda: I find these difficult to distinguish from a porch because they are described in almost the same way many times. Basically they are a covered porch that starts at the entrance to the house and extends around the sides, they are also for the purpose of cross ventilation in the house and are more commonly seen in the South.
Got it? No? That’s ok, I’m still confused too. Anyway here are some pretty house pictures from Charleston, SC. Final analysis; an awesome town, good food, nice people, I wouldn’t call it the “Coolest City in America” but it gets a solid 4 stars.
January 3, 2017
Classic Charleston Piazza!
A beautiful Victorian style house.
Dying for this house by the water
Beautiful brick houses, elevated Piazza.
Double porch but made of iron handrail. So amazing.
I loved this kitchen, brick floor and built ins - and those windows!
There were also amazing gardens, I'd like to go back and take a garden tour.
I was recently in Iceland for a week or so and spent a fair amount of time wandering through Reykjavik, the capitol. It’s a really hip city that surprised me with how awesome it was. The city itself is very walkable with all of the shops and restaurants in close proximity, accessed by a pedestrian walk way and small streets. Throughout the downtown there are a ton of amazing restaurants and pubs, and even more shocking is how awesome the food is. It was a total surprise to me but honestly, I didn’t have one bad meal in Reykjavik – they have their food scene locked down! Even if you go into what might seem like a seedy dive bar, it’s pretty much the best burger and fries you’ve ever had. Needless to say I spent most of my time eating and drinking, I find it’s best to stick to what you’re good at, ya know?
While wandering downtown I noticed there are a ton of amazing building murals painted on the sides of buildings. Not just terribly thought out graffiti, but gorgeous pieces of art on the ENTIRE building. It turns out that about 10-15 years ago the city didn’t really pay much attention to unauthorized graffiti but in recent years (I assume with the influx of tourism) have started policing unapproved graffiti. In order to continue the tradition and keep the art scene alive many artists have begun to get approval from building owners to paint the murals, which in my opinion makes it even better. This way they get to spend the time planning and executing their piece and it also ensures that only talented artists get to graffiti the streets, win-win, if you ask me.
I should have taken more photos because there were so many unique murals, here are some of the ones I loved;
In a construction site so I couldn't get closer
Corner building covered
Because I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for Feminist propaganda.
This was pretty cool
This was on a cute side street
This was next door to our hotel on the waterfront
Loved this one too
And since people go to Iceland for scenery, here I am in naturing...