For the past few years, I have attended the International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) in Cannes, on the south of France. It sounds super glamorous (and it is) but it's also a lot of work, work I absolutely love. Press talks, interviews, meetings, events, lunches, dinners - see an example of a day of press talks below! I have gotten sick every time afterwards, because I get about three hours of sleep a night. That said, it's amazing. I covered it for National Geographic - 7 Luxury Travel Trends for 2017 - and it was the most popular piece on the site the day it was published!
I just returned from Egypt, a place I have dreamed about since sixth-grade ancient Egypt class. I am so, so glad I went.
Now is the time to go, especially since the Egyptian pound was devalued two months ago (bad for them, great for us - everything is half off in an already inexpensive country). I felt 150% safe the entire time I was there, in a country of friendly, welcoming people that have deeply felt the crush of tourism since the Arab Spring. Travelers are returning, but not fast enough. I feel overwhelmed in the best way by the world's oldest country, where treasures abound.
I traveled with Abercrombie & Kent, one of my favorite tour operators in the world. They take care of everything, and make it so easy. When I saw the yellow A&K sign at Cairo airport, any nerves I had about the trip disappeared. But, of course, we made the trip what we wanted for us too - going to local restaurants and markets, taking walks, visiting gorgeous hotels, meeting locals, going on felucca rides. And we ALWAYS felt safe. I went to China with A&K (The Wild West of China and Sailing the Yangtze River) a few years ago, on a trip I will never forget - and this one climbs to the top of the list, too.
I will be writing much more - it is hard to come back from such a trip and jump right back into the chaos of daily life, without time to really think about what I saw and experienced. But I had to post a few photos and start to wrap my head around all of it.
I just returned from a couple of days in Munich, after a German National Tourist Board summit. I rediscovered how much I loved this city (it has lately been all about Berlin for me) - it feels like a large village and is especially charming at Christmas.
Clockwise, from top left:
1. The Mandarin Oriental Munich is perfect – best location, fireplace in the cozy little bar where they do afternoon tea, fantastic seafood at Nobu’s Matsuhisa – how many schnitzels before you need a break (for me, it's one)? This is the VIEW from my room.
2. I am completely obsessed with stollen, a traditional Christmas cake originally from Dresden. I thought that it was a brick-like hunk of glorified fruit cake, something best suited for playing catch. No. It’s fantastic – soft, crumbly, sugary, chewy. It lasts about three months (!) – the Christmas markets sell the original 100-year-old+ Dresden recipe version, but also check out the Kreutzkramm bakery in the center.
3. This is the Seehaus in the Englischer Garten, Munich's Central Park – you can grab beer and a wurst outside, or enjoy “real food” inside. It’s wonderful, it’s packed, it’s fun. The park is the perhaps the best city park I’ve been to – pretty little rivers, a hillside temple, a Japanese teahouse, the Chinese Tower, and watching the surfers on the Eisbach. Pro tip: portions of the park are an “urban naked zone.”
4. My amazing guide from Culture Trip Germany suggested Lehel when I asked for a “real” neighborhood to explore near the center.This is where I stumbled upon Patisserie Dukatz, a perfect little bakery where they sell addictive stollenkonfekt – bite-sized stollen (can you tell stollen is a theme here?). Get coffee or breakfast and watch all the locals line up.
Christmas Markets: Skip Marienplatz but don’t miss these - The Residenz, the Middle Ages market on Wittelsbachplatz and the most romantic one surrounding the Chinese Tower in the Englischer Garten.
Chances are if you've been to Switzerland, you have never been to or heard of Melchsee-Frutt, a tiny ski resort 45 minutes from Lucerne. You dream of Gstaad or St. Moritz or Zermatt. But part of the joy of getting to know Switzerland better has been discovering tiny little villages - ones I had no idea existed. For the Swiss, especially those who live in or around Lucerne, Melchsee-Frutt is pretty well-known.
There isn't a lot up here. I think 100 people live here year-round. If you want a buzzing restaurant scene, people decked out in Canada Goose and Prada ski clothes, Chanel storefronts, and glossy magazines breathlessly covering the society of the ski town (hello Aspen - I love you too), this isn't the alpine village for you.
But. BUT. If you want to truly disconnect (but yes, there is free, fast WiFi), finish that book you've been meaning to finish for months, actually talk to your partner (really talk, about life and plans, and solve long-stewing debates), spend time in a wonderful spa, hike in gorgeous Alpine scenery followed by a hot bowl of soup, and feel your shoulders relax for the first time in months, this is the place for you.
We stayed at the WONDERFUL Frutt Lodge, where the food is delicious (including the breakfast buffet), and the rooms are sink-into-your-bed worthy. The main lodge is separated from the family-friendly lodge by an underground tunnel.
Day one was rainy and gross and I still loved it because it meant we didn't really leave Frutt Lodge. We still did a 45-minute walk around the lake in the cold fog. I got a massage, swam in the gorgeous spa pool, read my book at the bar (with Swiss cow bells adorning it), and read some more in the super cozy lobby lounge with a crackling fireplace.
Day two the sun shone brilliantly and we hiked again, past the picture-perfect church, next to the clear, glassy lake, breathing in that crisp, perfect Alpine air.
I love so many places in Switzerland, but this feels like a secret. I can't wait to go back.
- Tip: You need a car to get here. You can drive all the way up to Melchsee-Frutt and park it in the lot (and you won't use it for the rest of your trip as you can't drive in the village) or park it at the base of the mountain and take the gondola up with your luggage.
Anyone else obsessed with Me Before You - first the book, then the movie? #bumblebeetights
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to
live it as fully as possible.”