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.

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!

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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A Weekend In Brussels

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetTraveling to Europe during the holidays is always a magical experience. Between winter markets, dustings of snow down historical alleyways, and all sorts of seasonal culinary specialities, there really are endless excuses for journeying across the pond in December. A city that I have managed to get to know quite well over the years, thanks to a program in university, is Brussels. And fortunately, schedules finally aligned with my mother and I, that we were able to travel around the holiday season together. I was so excited to show her my old stomping grounds, including watering holes like Delirium Cafe and Madame Moustache, a small but amazing sandwich shop that I still don’t know the name of where I ate literally three times a week, and the architectural beauties of the city from the Galerie St. Royal, Grand Place, and several churches – one that was even host to a royal wedding.

The thing about a quick trip to Europe is that you need to stay centrally. While this might be a splurge up front, it saves you tons of time, allowing you to see more during your brief journey. We were lucky to be able to snag ourselves a room at the Hotel Amigo – a Rocco Forte property, right next to Grand Place. We didn’t know when we booked, but the hotel ended up being home to many dignitaries during a meeting at the EU Parliament. We obviously became quickly aware upon our arrival as we were greeted by the Politie along with the bellman, but this didn’t disrupt our stay in the least. A few other celebrity sightings ensued during our stay, further solidifying we made the right decision when booking for our quick trip. Because everyone deserves a little luxury every now and then, amiright?!

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetOur plans for the weekend were as follows: drop our bags in our room and explore Brussels ’til we dropped on Day 1, book a train for a quick day trip to Paris on Day 2, do a half day in Brugge on Day 3, and sleep like babies on the plane home the following morning. Aggressive, I know, but when you can only take so much time off, you work to pack everything in. My mom says it’s a ‘marathon and a sprint’ all at the same time. She got used to this pace of travel on our last trip to Scotland, so when I invited her, I swear she knew what she was getting into.

After dropping our bags in our gorgeous suite, and doing a quick refresh, we were ready to hit the cobblestone streets running. We started by grabbing a quick lunch at Au Vieux Saint Martin. This is truly a local spot, and a hell of a place for me to brush up on my French. The waitress was patient with me, and thankfully we didn’t get too many weird looks from neighboring tables. After some tasty nourishment, we took by foot around the whole city. One of the great things about Brussels is that it is quite easy to see by walking. There are a few things like the Atomium that are a little more out of the way, but a lot of the heavy hitting sites are all in one place.

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The Brussels Museum in Grand Place.
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Galerie St. Royal looking extra glittery during the holidays.

If you just have a day or two in Brussels, I would recommend seeing:

  • Grand Place – The light show during the holiday is super entertaining, and all of the building could be stared at for hours!
  • Cathedral of of St. Michael and St. Gudula – Belgium’s national church, and a site for royal weddings and funerals.
  • Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon – Also, take a lunch or dinner in the neighborhood, there are so many tasty places to go like: Lola, San Sablon, COCO Donuts, and and Chez Richard.
  • The antique shops in Sablon – There’s all sorts of fabulous jewelry, a few historical maps if you can find them, and bronze decor items – amongst many other things.
  • The Atomium – You will have to take a car out of the city center, but it really is a cool museum, and a great spot to see if the weather isn’t so agreeable.
  • Cinquantenaire – Another great park for lunch, but only really when the weather is warmer.
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center – If you’re looking for a more modern take on Belgium, this center is quite famous and really interesting for any art buffs.
  • Galerie St. Royal – For tasty treats away from the elements and window shopping.
  • Christmas Markets – If you are there during the holiday season, grab a cup of hot wine and explore local vendors for stocking stuffers.

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Our blessed lady of Sablon in all her glory.
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Inside the Cathedral of of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
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Grand Place just casually taking my breath away.
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Mom at the Christmas market with a hot wine – customary for all attendees.

After many hours of exploring, we headed to Delirium Cafe (a must-see if you are in Brussels, and where I spent many nights as a university student living in Brussels) for a couple of beers, and ended up eating at a bit of a touristy spot around the corner for a quick dinner before heading back to the Hotel Amigo. We had a massive day ahead of us, so thankfully we made it to bed somewhat early. Have spots on your list that I didn’t list that are a must-see in Brussels? Comment below, so I can add them to my list for my next visit to the European Capital.

What to Pack for Winter in Europe

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In less than two weeks, I will be heading to Brussels and Paris for a quick weekend getaway with my mom (yay!). As it gets closer to the holidays in Europe, I think the cities become so magical and it always worth a trip! Skipping the summer months for a winter weekend in Europe isn’t only cheaper, but you get to see a little more of that local flair. However, I know the promise of colder weather might initially deter you from booking that flight, but I wanted to share a few of my tips for dressing warm – and fashionably – in the winter which will make sight seeing enjoyable, and you’ll still be camera ready!

Practical(ish) shoes. 
Yes, when walking around Europe, you can typically expect some cobblestones, so stilettos are out, but that doesn’t mean you take heels off the table all together. The Jeremy Campbell booties I added above are a perfect example of a boot that you can rock in the winter time on European side streets. I actually have these myself and they’re super comfy and sturdy. A great pair of sneakers, with a hint of embellishment is also a good option. Gucci is having a total moment right now with their sneakers; I think they’re a super fun splurge. But, if you’re looking for something a little friendlier on your wallet, a pair of white chucks or Stan Smith’s should do the trick.

Layers, layers, layers
Investing in a body suit so you can ensure that your midriff will stay warm between picking up your luggage at the airport and sitting down at a cozy cafe is a must. Do double duty by layering a pair of winter tights underneath a pair of destroyed denim or a knee-length skirt and you’ll be good to go. Some tights you can get now are actually lined with fleece, so if you’re known to be super chilly, or are going to be spending the majority of your day outside, I would pack a pair to layer under denim or a long skirt for sure!

Colorful Knits
Come winter, expressing yourself through color gets a little trick, so I always like to mix it up with a colorful sweater. Pops of orange, red, purple, and baby blue are a great way to brighten up your wardrobe, while you stick to more of the classics in the rest of your look. I definitely recommend packing turtlenecks when you can, that way you can save space in your suitcase because you don’t need to pack a scarf. You can also have fun with color with a knit hat as well. Don’t be afraid to bust out one with a fun pom pom, so your friends can keep track of you around busier parts of the city.

A Second Coat
I always wear my biggest and fluffiest coat on the plane because packing it is a nightmare, but I highly recommend packing a second coat, especially if you plan to take lots of pictures outside, go out on the town, and think the weather might fluctuate a lot in temperature. A fab bomber is always a good go-to, and again, so many brands are experimenting with color, so you can stand out amongst a sea of black and tan.

A Couple Statement Pieces
When traveling, we have a tendency to pack sensibly, especially for trips to areas where it’s cold weather! But, I challenge you on your next trip to pack a few items that really stand out. A perfect dress for a surprise date, unexpected outing (you know, with the Queen or something), or even just for afternoon tea can work wonders. I can’t tell you how many times having a dress handy has saved my ass, especially when traveling abroad. I also always recommend one or two key pieces of statement jewelry. One eye-catching ring or set of earrings can really pull a look together without too much effort. The most obvious statement piece to pack is a great bag. I always say a bag is your best investment piece, so if you’ve got it flaunt it. However! Do not have this bag be one of your two carry-ons. Having to shove your bag under the seat or in the overhead bin on long flights is just asking for trouble – especially if it is an investment piece. Do yourself a solid and pack your day-to-day bag in a duster to pull out in prime condition once you get to your destination.

These five tips are sure to get you off to a good start on packing for a trip to Europe in winter. If you have questions or other suggestions that I may not have mentioned, be sure to leave them in the comments!

Georgia On My Mind…

It’s been a few months since I was down south, but as the weather gets colder in Boston, I can’t help but daydream about my trip down to the Ritz Carlton, Lake Oconee resort in August. In desperate need of a good girls weekend this past summer, my friend Abby and I hopped a quick flight down to Atlanta for a #lakelife getaway. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of spending any time down south, I highly recommend it. The food, the people, the nature… it doesn’t get much better. I have friends who actually describe this property as one of their favorite places on Earth, and I can see why.

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Abby and I had the pleasure of staying in one of the cottages on the property. These cottages are perfect for a group of your girlfriends or even a family vacation. As expected these cottages are still very much full service — golf carts will chauffeur you to dinner reservations, room service will deliver anything you need at the drop of a hat, and extra special touches like milk & cookies don’t go unnoticed. Hammocks are scattered throughout the property for that cabin in the woods experience. They’re perfect for laying out with a good book and a cup of tea in the morning, or getting a little reprieve from the sun, but still getting to enjoy some fresh air.

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One of the most enjoyable parts of the property is their lake-side amenities. The infinity pool is massive and is a perfect spot to commune with friends over a mid-afternoon cocktail (or three). I know what you’re thinking… why hang out in a pool with a lake right there?! Truth be told, the idea of making contact with a fish creeps me out a bit. And the fish only have so many places to go in a lake, compared to the ocean. You know?! Don’t judge! Besides, the infinity pool is so big it could practically be a lake. I swear!

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After you’ve done your fair share of sunbathing, choose from a plethora of dining options on the property to get your fill of tasty southern cooking. My favorite restaurant was Georgia’s. They have classics like peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, smoked meats, and fried green tomatoes. There is no chance you will leave hungry!

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Outside of the property, you can do some exploring in historic Madison. Our driver humored us and weaved down old streets, so we could see some of the oldest homes in the town. Downtown is super quaint and has a couple great restaurants worth checking out as well. If you drive through, Madison might look familiar. Countless movies and TV shows have been filmed here, like The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The Accountant, and the 2011 Footloose remake.

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If you prefer to stay on property, they have a gazillion activities, including a massive golf course. If golf is your game, there’s no chance you cant get in a few holes while you’re here. Sadly for me, I tend to embarrass myself even at the driving range, so I’ll stick to walking the course like it’s my runway. Other activities include wake boarding, kayaking, tennis, and countless more.

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Now that I am this close to booking a ticket back to Georgia, I can safely say this was one of my most memorable weekends this past summer. If you need a luxurious getaway with your significant other, friends, or family, I can’t recommend the Ritz, Lake Oconee enough. If you have any questions about the property, feel free to shoot me an email or send me a DM on Instagram. Happy to answer!