On Nantucket with philosophy

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The past few days I have been on Nantucket at the PopSugar house having an absolute blast! On Wednesday, I was introduced to philosophy’s latest line “renewed hope in a jar”, and I am obsessed. For someone who is constantly living out of a suitcase, I am always so happy to find products that make me look like I’m well slept, hydrated, and had hours to get ready! Enter philosophy.

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Because I am a bit of a beauty noob, I was super thankful they brought an expert in to show me how to use these products properly, and when I should be using them. In the past, I’ve always just thrown together a beauty routine that I can do on the run because I felt like having a “system” or “routine” first thing in the morning, or at night, was too much of a process. With a little education, I feel like an extra five minutes in the morning and at night is super approachable now. Keep reading to see what I’m going to do every morning, even when I’m on the road.

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STEP ONE
The philosophy renewed hope in a jar renewing dew concentrate is a super hydrating way to start your beauty routine. It feels like water when you place it on to your hands, and the expert shared that you should press it into your skin, not rub!

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STEP TWO
You can either use this moisturizer with SPF or without — if you are going to go makeup free, I would definitely recommend with! Don’t just apply this moisturizer to your face, but also down your neck, and I even put a little on my ears.

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STEP THREE (THE FINAL STEP)
If you’ve been looking for eye cream that is specially formulated for the delicate skin around your eyes and the multiple concerns affecting it, look no further. It features a clinically-proven, non-stop skin renewal technology that continuously hydrates, brightens dark circles, reduces puffiness, and smooths the look of fine lines. After just a couple days of using this product, I can see why people rave about it!

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So, there you have it! Three easy steps and I’m good to go for a day anywhere in the world. Do you have any beauty products that you must travel with?! Comment below because I think I’m finally starting to get a hang of this whole beauty thing, and I want to know what brands and products you guys love!

Lowcountry Living at the Montage Palmetto Bluff

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Earlier this month, I had the distinct pleasure of heading down to Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina to stay at the Montage. If you are unfamiliar with the property, you aren’t alone. It’s a new development over the last couple of years, but they are sure making a splash in lowcountry luxurious style. It’s nestled between Hilton Head and Savannah, meaning you are ripe with opportunity to go explore outside of the 20,000 acre property. But, there is so much to do that it’s hard to imagine a good reason to leave. Below I’m listing a few of my favorite things to do, and I save the best for last, especially if you’re considering this property for your next getaway!

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Just Relax
That’s what vacations are meant for, right? Whether you are snoozing on a hammock on one of their private islands deep in the bluff, grabbing a massage or hot sauna session in their beautifully designed spa, or just lounging by their very picturesque pool, you will find yourself saying ‘ahhhh, now this is vacation‘ at every turn. I highly recommend taking advantage of their dry sauna and plunge pool – not a spa amenity you see everywhere!

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Hang Out with Nature (and the Animals)
Not only does the Montage team take service and experience very seriously, but conservation and nature is also always top of mind. Take a property tour with one of their local experts, who has likely wrested a gator, saved turtles and spent hours upon hours watching the birds. They have a wealth of knowledge not only about the animals that inhabit the property, but plants as well. My mom likes to joke that I’m a girl who “loves nature per se,” but I honestly found this aspect of the property so interesting, and we even got to see a brand new baby bird! I also went horseback riding, and explored their beautiful stables. I wish I could have ridden longer to be honest, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for horses!

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Venture into Bluffton
After an afternoon of shooting on their private complex (one of my favorite activities of the whole trip!), you’ll want to clean yourself up for a night on the town! Right down the road, you have the small town of Bluffton, which is picturesque and boasts an active community. On our night in town, we dined a FARM, which was amazingly delicious! There’s loads of eye-catching architecture, and the community is pretty active as well. Lots of barbecues, live music, and people just getting out and socializing.

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Get in (or on) the Water
One of the best parts of the Montage Palmetto Bluff is its proximity to some on-the-water adventures. If you’re looking to go for a swim, take in the winding waterways while being towed in a tube behind one of their motorboats, or manage to wake up early for a sunrise kayak session to see the dolphins, you can do it all here. The water here is super warm – and salty, meaning you could tread with the sun beaming down on you for hours. Take a break with a reprieve in a hammock or on a boat and then jump off the dock and do it all over again. How can you go wrong?

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If you’re jonesing to get down to the Montage, you’re in luck. I’ve teamed up with them to make sure that you can have enough time to enjoy all the fun. If you book two nights using the code ‘REGANC‘, you will get your third night free! Talk about #winning! As always, if you have questions about the properties, accommodations, activities – you name it – leave me a note in the comments!

Keeping Your Home Safe While Traveling with Blink

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Real talk. Living in a city and traveling several months out of the year can have its pitfalls. For my friends in NYC, commute times to the airport (any airport!) can be atrocious. Mailboxes are so small that if you’re gone for an extended period of time, your mail might get returned because it doesn’t fit. Most recently, for me, I had an instance where when I was traveling, someone decided to go through my trash and find old mail and then contact me through social media saying they had my personal information. Eek! The entire ordeal ended in me contacting credit bureaus, cancelling credit cards, and setting up alerts to make sure no one was using my personal information to open new accounts. Needless to say, this was hours and hours of painstaking hold times, phone calls, and even making an in-person trip to a provider’s office. Woof!

In an effort to prevent something like this from happening in the future, or to at least be able to provide proof of someone digging through my trash, I have taken a few steps to protect my home – especially when I’m away. Investing in a shredder, not putting my garbage out until an hour before the city is slated to retrieve it, and also teaming up with Blink to try out their home security system, that I can operate right from an app on my phone.

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I decided to go with both an indoor security camera (pictured) and weatherproof camera for maximum security – as the size and design (it’s wire free!) lend itself to being a discreet, yet comprehensive system. The great thing about this system is that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to set it up, just your phone. So, how does it work? Blink cameras detect motion in your home and send alerts with HD video and audio right to your smartphone. You can then check back in with live HD video and audio streaming right on your smartphone from any of your up-to 10 Blink cameras per system. They even have an integration with Alexa, so you can provide voice commands to arm or disarm your camera, too! Another bonus, these little guys have two years of battery life on just two AA lithium batteries – meaning you don’t have to worry about the system while you’re away for extended periods of time.

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This post is sponsored by Blink. All opinions shared are my own.

What to Pack for Royal Wedding Weekend in England

Royal Wedding Weekend Packing List

I am so excited to share that on Thursday, I will be hopping a plane to jolly ol’ England to be in-country for a moment that the U.K. may not have for decades – the royal wedding! My trip won’t be super traditional, as I will be first heading to Manchester (a new route is launching from BOS – MAN on Virgin Atlantic starting May 23rd), then Liverpool, and finally London. So, of course, with only two days to go, I am still trying to solve one of life’s most persistent questions: what do I pack?! I decided to take a play out of Meghan Markle’s book and stick to the classics, meaning clean lines, versatile pieces, and a wardrobe that is ready for anything. Sounds perfect for the U.K. this time of year, no?

Below, I’ve included some of the staples listed above – and some other options at more approachable price points. If I had a royal budget, you better believe I’d be pulling everything from the collage above, but alas, I’m a mere commoner. But, fear not – the alternatives below will have bystanders doing double takes to determine whether your look was a splurge or a steal!

The Right Outerwear
Jackets are probably my most popular item in my closet as well as in my suitcase. You can never have too many! (Unless, of course, you’re over the luggage weight limit…) If you had to go with a few, my recommendations would be a classic blazer that looks good over almost all of your tops, a suede jacket that can transition from day-to-night with ease, and also, not listed above, the oh-so-crucial rain coat. The Veronica Beard blazers (this is the one I have) boast some stretch, which make them perfect for packing and running around town, but a more affordable version can be found here. And while this Silvie Schimmel suede biker jacket will cost you a pretty penny, the Blank NYC version looks nearly identical.

Chic Denim
Denim does not – and should not – be boring. I recently picked up a denim dress that can be dressed up or dressed down with a change of a heel and bag, and couldn’t be more happy with how versatile of a piece it is. Mine is a belted version from J.Crew (found here), and the best part – I can also wear it as a jacket as the weather cools down at night! The fun with denim doesn’t have to stop there – with so many trends exploring ways to dress your denim up, don’t be afraid to experiment with length, color, and patterns. I recently picked up a Stretch Flood Jean (in Fiji Stripe) from Reformation, and you have to peel these things off of me because I wear them so much!

Statement Accessories
Probably one of my favorite ways to spruce up an outfit while traveling is to pack eye-catching footwear. These metallic sneakers from Tod’s (I have them in white) are a perfect way to make any outfit pop. If you’re more of the pump persuasion, try a mule, which is a bit comfier for romping around town. I’m personally obsessed with the ones from y/project above – and they happen to be on sale! In the mood for something a bit more budget friendly? These may do the trick. In that same vein, a statement handbag is a must. The Marni shoulder bag above (and this faux fur version) is giving me all the heart-eye emoji feels, but this, this, and this are super cute too! I’m also a huge fan of a good statement sunny. I just picked these Fendi frames up from Solstice Sunglasses, and I swear I’ve gotten more compliments on those in the last three weeks than all of my other compliments combined. I highly recommend checking out their sale items, they usually have an amazing selection!

Last but not least, Light Layers
U.K. in the Spring is a fickle maiden and it’s always good to be prepared with the appropriate layers. I’ll be packing a not-so-standard floral from rag + bone, some short sleeve sweaters, which are a serious travel game-changer, and handful of camisoles for layering underneath my jacket selection. As always, you can catch me at any given time traveling with a handful of vintage tees, which are a part of my nearly daily uniform. If you don’t feel like digging through racks and racks of tees, Urban Outfitters has a pretty stacked graphic tee section worth checking out.

So, as you can see, this is not your standard tea with the queen packing list, but I’m not really one for floor length florals (unless with sneakers) or flouncy blouses. Besides, who wants to deal with steaming all of their clothes when they get to the hotel anyway? Stay tuned for my travels in England coming up later this week – I can’t wait to share everything with you!!

Back in Time in Tallinn

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetOne of the most picturesque city centers I have ever had the pleasure of visiting wasn’t in one of Europe’s most popular destinations, but it certainly is catching the eye of history lovers and photographers alike. On my recent trip to Helsinki, I was presented with an opportunity to do a day trip to Tallin, Estonia – a medieval mecca where the city center boasts some of the most beautifully preserved architecture from the 13th to 16th centuries. The plan is that we would journey there by boat, have the day to explore, and be back in Helsinki in time for a late dinner. Not a bad gig!

So, I expected the ferry to be something similar to what we have here in the states – some semi-comfortable indoor seating, one or two bars/snack shops and that’s about it. Holy crap was I totally off-base!! The ferries over there are like mega cruise ships with a plethora of food options, comfy seating, shopping, and even a business lounge for those who would like a little more space and seclusion! We ended up taking the Megastar: Tallink Line, which got us from Helsinki to Tallin in 2 hours flat, first thing in the morning. By the time we hopped in an Uber to Old Town, we were ready to explore the windy historic streets!

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One of the charms of Old Town is that many of the restaurants play to the old-timey feel you get walking through the streets. Initially, I was a little turned off by this because it felt super touristy, but when we sat down to lunch at Olde Hansa and grabbed a refreshing cinnamon beer (the most heavenly beverage of all time), our minds were quickly changed. Walking through the threshold of the restaurant is meant to transport you back to the 15th century; they served game meet like boar, bear, and elk – all which were super tasty by the way- and servers were dressed in period costumes. The service was also amazingly friendly, and they were quick to refill our chalices when the cinnamon beer was looking low. While this wasn’t initially a restaurant that I was particularly excited about, I walked out of there a convert!

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The other cool thing about Old Town is that there are plenty of lookout points (better known there as “viewing platforms”) where you can really take in the entire city. On a bright sunny day, you may be jockeying for a prime spot to take a photo, but the wait for the perfect shot and views were totally worth it! A few of the popular ones are: Patkuli, Piiskopi, and Kohtuotsa – where the first photo in this post was taken.

Outside of the amazing views, if you find yourself in Tallinn, there are a few things that you have to check off the list before you leave; especially in Old Town:

  • Make it to the Town Hall Square. The colorful buildings and inevitable live music (if the weather is nice) is worth spending some time. There are also a bunch of restaurants there – perfect for people watching.
  • Visit Great Guild Hall. A standard example of medieval European architecture, this massive structure is not to be missed.
  • Feel like royalty in the Danish King’s Garden. Lining the garden are the city walls, which are worth climbing up to catch some views when you’re done perusing the perennials.
  • Tour the Bastion Passages. From the Danish King’s Garden you can go underground and check out tunnels that were used for all sorts of things, like bomb shelters in WWII, a place to move ammunition in the 17th and 18th centuries, and even where punk rockers found reprieve in the 80s.

If you are planning a day trip and looking to see as much as you can in one day, I highly suggest grabbing yourself a Tallinn Card. It gets you into most of the historical sites as well as a few other cool places worth visiting, like the zoo, Kadriorg Palace, and you can even join on a bicycle welcome tour.

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In this post, I hardly scratched the surface of all that Tallinn has to offer, but hopefully this provides a good jumping off point if you’re looking to plan a day trip. Have any other must see spots in Tallinn? Be sure to let me know if the comments below :).

North Island Oasis: Helena Bay Lodge

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIf you are looking for a truly luxurious escape on New Zealand’s North Island, the incomparable Helena Bay Lodge provides an experience that is sure impress. Tucked away 10 miles down a windy road off of the highway, about three and a half hours north of Auckland, this exclusive lodge offers a one-of-a-kind coastal getaway.

Rooms included the perfect view of a beach shared only with five other sets of patrons at any given time.  Morning walks at low tide while the sun came up were just a hop, skip and a jump away from my Junior Suite, which was incredibly spacious and featured a tub that actually fit my 5’11 frame – winning! While the rooms were incredibly comfortable, and the beds especially hard to get out of in the morning, there was so much to do and see, that not much time was spent in my suite.

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Another quick walk from the room and you find yourself in The Main House, which is where you are received upon arrival. The space features a collection of artwork that will pique the interest of the eclectic, while also showcasing objects collected from around the world during the owner’s travels. Talk about some serious wanderlust inspo! If you’re nice – they’ll even let you ring the gong ;]. Additionally, this is where you’ll find the main dining room, as well as the breakfast area, where tasty lattes (according to my coffee drinking companions), fresh fruits, and mouth watering pastries await. Once you’ve had your fill, you can make your way to the 25-meter-long heated infinity pool to enjoy some sun and serenity.

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If you’re looking for more adventure further than a 200m radius of your room, private beach pavilions prove to be the ultimate escape on a lazy Sunday. Touring around the massive property comes with a few perks as well. Packed picnic lunches, rangers for exploring all parts of the property, including getting to swing by and say ‘hi’ to a few of the properties residents: donkeys, alpacas, and even some cows. The views from certain points of the property will honestly take your breath away. Pretty sure I burned through all of my drone batteries trying to capture video of every inch of the property from some of these vantage points. Video coming soon!!

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If you find yourself taking a trip to the North Island, I highly recommend at least a two-night stay, preferably longer, at this once-in-a-lifetime location. The intersection of nature and luxury make for a memorable experience, and is certainly going to be a highlight on my lifetime travel reel.

Where to Eat: Helsinki

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A few years ago, the Washington Post, published a piece titled Helsinki’s food scene, coming on strong’ , and it was in that moment that I knew the modesty of the Finnish would only work to my benefit when exploring the relatively uncharted food scene in Helsinki when I finally had the chance to journey to the great north. As they have begun to catch up to their Nordic neighbors in notoriety, it’s no surprise that Helsinki is becoming less and less of the “best kept secret in Europe” when it comes to cuisine, and more of a seasoned hand as it will.

But! That didn’t stop me from doing some serious exploring, trying to find some of Helsinki’s best gems – largely with the help of a team of local Finn’s who pointed us in the right direction. Below, I’ve listed out some of the best cafes, lunch spots, and decadent dinner hotspots that are all worth a look on your next trip to Helsinki.

CAFES

Kappeli Cafe – Eteläesplanadi 1, 00130 (Pictured above)
If you’re looking for a little nook in the heart of Helsinki, look no further than this Kodak-worthy cafe. Located literally smack dab in the center of town, Kappeli offers a tasty variety of pastries, coffees and tea. Try to snag one of the round booths completely encased in glass for a 360-view of the city moving around you!

SIS. Deli+Cafe – Kalevankatu 4, 00100 
For a traditional Finnish breakfast, SIS offers a cute little buffet style option. If you’re gearing up for a big day of exploring, this casual cafe is one of the best ways to start your day. Also, this is a great spot to post up should you want/need to do a bit of work on your travels. You won’t be the only person with a laptop open, which is always a good feeling.

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Cafe Regatta – Merikannontie 8, 00260 (Pictured above)
Known for their famous hot chocolate and rustic abode, this has to be one of the most photogenic places I visited during our stay. As a non-coffee drinker, this was a particularly enjoyable reprieve for me, and the fact that they had a crazy ice sled on the water outside that we could push with our new Finnish friends was an extra bonus! To make the experience even more special, take your hot chocolate outside to the fire pit to circle around and swap travel stories with friends.

Café Köket – Aleksanterinkatu 28, 00170
This café, bar and lunch spot by the Seante Square in the Kiseleff House is another great casual spot that won’t break the bank. Köket serves a yummy breakfast buffet and a lunch buffet during weekdays , and for those who are brunch-inclined, they have you covered on weekends.

LUNCH SPOTS

Bronda – Eteläesplanadi 20, 00130 
With a heavy-handed Mediterranean influencer, Bronda offers an amazing 3-course (and sometimes 5) tasting menu at lunch!. The space is found on the corner of Eteläesplanadi and Korkeavuorenkatu with massively high ceilings and large windows, making it any food Instagrammer’s dream, but also just a cool spot to pull up a chair for an hour or two. Many dishes here are meant to be shared, so the more the merrier!

Juuri – Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130 (Pictured below)
You will thank me later for this one! If you are interested in trying fine Finnish cuisine, look no further than this unpretentious little spot. The staff is super knowledgeable and was able to assist with questions and making some key selections that are sure to melt in your mouth. The a la carte menu is good, but the real treat is the sapas, small tapas-like dishes excellent for sharing. By Finnish standards this place is not super expensive for the quality of food, but be prepared to spend more than a few dollars for this tasty experience. Note: Menu changes every second month.

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EGG – Kanavaranta 7 B 3, 00170
Looking for faster and lighter fare for lunch? This healthy hot spot is great for those on the go, searching for a tasty option that leaves you feeling energized and satisfied. The wild board omelette is a great choice, and they have an ‘all day breakfast’ if you didn’t quite make it in time for your hotel’s spread. Bonus: this spot is close to the Uspenski Cathedral!

Fat Ramen – Hietalahti Market Hall‍‍‍‍‍‍, Lönnrotinkatu 34, 00180
Ohhhh how I love ramen. I once squealed meeting one of my favorite ramen chefs like I was meeting Mick Jagger or something, so know that I take this dish seriously… but not too seriously.  This place fast casual noodle bar located in Hietalahti Market Hall – which is a cool spot worth checking out regardless. It is the first ramen shop in Helsinki focusing its menu solely around ramen. During lunch this quaint restaurant offers a variety of hand-made ramen bowls, which are known for always having the best ingredients of the season and ambitiously combines Asian and Nordic flavors.

FOR DINNER

Savotta – Aleksanterinkatu 22, 00170 Helsinki (pictured below) 
If you’re looking for a more traditional, and fun, Finnish experience, Savotta is a great spot to try. With a step through the threshold, it’s no question that the decor is meant to pay homage to Finland’s roots. The name Savotta means ‘logging site’, so servers are dressed to play the part of men and women who would work in the forests and thousands of lakes over the years. The food and decor tap in to local nostalgia and showcase decades of tradition right at your table. The street level dining rooms face the Helsinki Cathedral by the Senate Square, so it’s a perfect spot to end a day of exploring the city!

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Ravintola Werner – Bulevardi 12, 00120 Helsinki
Set in what used to be one of the biggest publishing houses in Helsinki, Werner boasts a massive open fire grill, perfect for all the needs of preparing Nordic-style fare. Don’t miss their beef tartar or mussels to start the meal, and then be sure to grab anything that you could wish to have cooked over an open flame. Stick with classics like the salmon, or if your traveling with a hungry companion, the beef entrecôte for two is a must!

Restaurant Savoy – Eteläesplanadi 14, 00130 Helsinki
Last year this Helsinki staple celebrated 80 years of service! Located right in the heart of town, Restaurant Savoy isn’t just a place to have dinner, but rather to have a dining experience. This popular locale oozes old world glamour, and is perfect for anyone who wants dinner with a view. Situated on the top floor overlooking the park, and featuring classic fare, makes this the ideal setting for a special occasion, but is also great for ambitious diners who enjoy meticulous plating, top notch service, and just overall good food. If the price tag scares you, they also do a fabulous three-course lunch worth taking a look at.

Have any dining recommendations in Helsinki I didn’t mention? There are so many good places that I know I missed a few. Leave me your favorites in the comments below!

The Fenway’s Food Scene (and Giveaway!)

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFor any long-time Bostonian like myself, it has been pretty incredible to see the rapidly evolving food scene down in The Fenway neighborhood – specifically in the last few years. What used to be a place for pre-Red Sox game rituals alone has now become a mecca for food enthusiasts and off-season visitors alike. More and more, I will have readers (like you!) reach out asking where to go to eat when they visit my hometown and I find myself pointing more and more to The Fenway as a neighborhood that is host to some great spots.

Now, with the launch of thefenway.com, I have a resource that I can send to my followers to showcase all the goods this growing neighborhood has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a classic pre-game spot, or one of the newer additions, like Hojoko or Eventide, you’re in good company with every proverbial corner you turn on this new site! Below, I’m taking you through a few of my favorite spots that the team over at thefenway.com feature, as well as including a fun announcement about a major change to the neighborhood below. Hint: the announcement includes a giveaway to Lisbon! Yes – Lisbon!! Came here just for the giveaway? CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Fenway’s e-newsletter for a chance to win!! (Note: Giveaway is now closed – winner will be announced soon.)

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A common misconception about The Fenway is that the food is only good for lunch or dinner, but after a quick look on thefenway.com you’ll realize that is not the case. For those of you who are breakfast or brunch inclined – you’re in luck! There’s spots like Pavement Coffee, Panera, and my personal favorite breakfast joint in The Fenway: Blackbird Doughnuts. This valhalla of creative confections is a major winner in my book, and a perfect pit stop for Fenway early “birds”.

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Ah yes, the classic burger joint. Some say that this is the East Coast version on In ‘n’ Out and with good reason! There is definitely a cult-like following to this Fenway staple. With goodies like the Big & Tasty, Tater Tots, a great beer selection on draft, and addicting Chocolate Eclair Mini Pies, there is not a chance that you leave this place hungry. The takeout window gets notorious long lines as the weather starts to heat up, but the wait is worth it.

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And, the most talked about newcomer as of late is, of course, Eventide. This fast-casual spinoff of their wildly popular Portland, ME location is a great place to pull up a stool, have some prosecco, oysters, one of their many crudos, and their famous hot-buttered lobster roll. As a Mainer, I am skeptical of any hot lobster roll, but this one melts in your mouth and is definitely worth a try. This place really has elevated fast-casual down to a science, so if you’re looking for “fancier” cuisine without the fuss, look no further.

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Coming in 2019, 401 Park Drive will welcome Lisbon’s Time Out Market. The flagship Lisbon location is home to more than twenty-four restaurants, and a whole host of other kiosks, cafes, and even a cooking academy for those who aspire to kick up their kitchen skills a notch. The highly-anticipated Boston space will span 25,000 square feet with an open park area to boot! I can’t think of a better fit for the Fenway neighborhood, as this community continues to grow and thrive.

unnamed.pngIn celebration of Time Out Market coming to Boston, thefenway.com is hosting a giveaway where you can enter to win a trip for 2 to Lisbon! Yes, you read that correctly!! Airfare for two and a 3-night stay are included in this trip of a lifetime, and they’ll be handing over $200 to spend at the original Time Out Market, so you can get a sneak peek of what is to come in Boston! To enter, all you need to do is sign up for their newsletter HERE

This post was created in collaboration with the team at thefenway.com. 

Luxury in Brussels: Hotel Amigo

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Sometimes the hardest part about traveling abroad is finding the perfect place to stay. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem when planning my trip to Brussels at the end of last year. Having spent and extended amount of time in Brussels several years ago, I knew without question that being near Grand Place was imperative, and having a comfortable and spacious home base would be essential after long days of exploring. When the opportunity came to stay at the Hotel Amigo – I couldn’t say no! The hotel is a Rocco Forte property, synonymous with luxury and notorious for offering the epitome of sophistication during your stay. Other properties in this hotel group include Hotel Savoy in Florence, Brown’s Hotel in London, and The Balmoral in Edinburgh. Needless to say, they are in amazing company.

The other fabulous part about this trip, was that I was able to bring my best friend along – my mother. I was particularly excited to be able to treat her to a stay at the Hotel Amigo because let’s face, every mother deserves to be treated like a queen, especially mine. As a kid growing up in a single-mother household, she always raised me to spend money on two things: travel & good food. We took trips to places like the Dominican Republic, Ireland, Vancouver, Thailand, and more together. Talk about amazing Christmas gifts!!! This trip was an opportunity to return the favor, and I wanted her to have the best experience possible. Fortunately for me, the team at the Hotel Amigo beyond exceeded my expectations. From friendly service, mind-blowing dining experiences, and premium amenities, I truly felt like I was #winning at giving my mom an introduction to Brussels she would never forget.

We stayed in a Junior Suite for the entirety of our stay, which was a perfect size for us. Plenty of space for taking breakfast in our room before embarking on a our daily journeys, loads of closet space for the massive amount of clothes I packed for only 4 days *facepalm*, and cute little nooks to relax at the end of a busy day to recap on our favorite sites, and enjoy a few moments of reprieve before falling into the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on to do it all again the next day.

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The most comfortable bed and perfect place to rest our heads at the end of the day.
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The view from our Junior Suite – looking down toward Grand Place.
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A spacious bath tub is a must for any luxury stay – this one didn’t disappoint.
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My favorite concierge of all time, Haluk Sahin.

By far, the most memorable part of my stay at the Hotel Amigo, were my exchanges with Haluk Sahin, one of the concierges at the Hotel Amigo. Not only did he keep my mom and I on-time for trains and our flights (we have this nasty habit of cutting it close for all travel), but he was truly the “experience architect”, as I like to say, of our stay. Every detail that we would need taken care of for an awe-inspiring experience in Brussels and beyond was executed flawlessly. Beyond that, he truly became a friend during our short visit, and was a willing participant when my mom and I shared our stories of what crazy thing we got up to that day.

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If you’re looking to explore Brussels, I couldn’t recommend the Hotel Amigo more. You’re walking distance to all the major sites, and are sure to feel at home every time you walk through the doors.

If you need ideas of things to do and see on your next trip to the European Capital, be sure to check out my Weekend in Brussels guide here.

Day Trip: Bruges, Belgium

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If you are planning a trip to Brussels, there is no question that you need to carve out a day to make your way North to the quaint city of Bruges. Most recognized as the “Venice of the North”, this canal-based city features the most picturesque buildings, tons of charming little shops to grab a cup of tea or a waffle, and local vendors selling everything from world-famous chocolates to lace.

Getting to Bruges from Brussels is super easy. From our hotel, the Hotel Amigo, in Grand Place, you take a quick walk to Bruxelles-Central and hop on any one of the number of trains to Bruges. Tickets cost roughly €7-€15, and the ride is only a little over an hour long. If you’re looking to book tickets in advance, you can always check out the time tables and do so here.

Once you’re at the Bruges station, it is only another 15-20 minute walk (depending if you stop for photos) to the historic city center. Plan to make plenty of stops along the way to spots like the 13th century Belfort, Groeningemuseum for those of you who are art buffs, and St. Salvator’s Cathedral. In between landmarks, there are countless bridges, historic facades and courtyards to wander into.

For you foodies, a few of my favorite spots are: Le Mystique, Hertog Jan, and Belgian Pigeon House. If you’re looking for chocolate, I recommend checking out: The Chocolate Line (I don’t care how touristy it is – it’s amazing!), BbyB, and Dumon. Have a must see spot in Bruges? Leave me a comment for my next trip back ;).

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