90 minutes from NYC - faster than you can say Hamptons - is this little 20-mile paradise, Bermuda. I bet you know someone who went on their honeymoon there 35 years ago - or you're pretty sure that the Bermuda Triangle is where your misplaced car keys, lip balm, and hair ties go. What I really loved is that it's not just a vacation destination like a few Caribbean islands I have visited. People live here, raising their kids and starting companies. Certain families go back hundreds of years. There is a palpable sense of rootedness but also a sexy new awakening. I will update my guide in the next few weeks with all my favorite finds. I can't wait to get back to Bermuda.
I've done a wrap-up on this blog for the past five years. When I look back at these ridiculous, challenging, beautiful adventures - traveling all over the world, a marriage, a divorce, a new love, a new job - I feel endlessly grateful and honestly, tired. Travel is my passion, my life, my work, my beloved job and industry but I really want to slow down a bit.
I want to sit and read the New York Times every Sunday. I want to meet friends for dinner in Manhattan and return gratefully to Brooklyn. I want to walk in Central Park and Prospect Park on beautiful days. I want to feel grateful for every minute I am on the Brooklyn Promenade because I can't believe I live so close - this is my dream neighborhood in NYC. I want to explore New York like I used to when I first moved here - with that giddy sense of new-ness - through Chinatown, Little Italy, the Upper West Side, all over Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. I want to make plans for the future - I've been such a stunned deer-in-the-headlights the past couple of years - either moving at warp speed to avoid feeling hurt, or waiting for someone else to make decisions. The future I had planned for since I was 20 disappeared when Andy and I split up and I'm still finding my way out.
I know I will still travel. I would be lost without it. I will still travel more than most people I know. But I want a little more serenity, a little less airport madness, and more time to figure out what I want as I get older. I'll turn 35 this year and while sometimes it feels like I've been flitting around the world carelessly while all my friends have been having babies and saving for retirement - I am so grateful for this life (except for the Twilight Zone presidential election, which continues to be worse than we all thought). Can I do all of this and maintain minimum status on an airline? That is the goal.
By the way - if you know anyone cool in Brooklyn, let me know. It's one of my resolutions this year to meet more interesting, creative, funny, kind people that live in Brooklyn and to build my community here more. If you say it loud, it is more likely to happen. So there you go!
Wishing you a beautiful 2017.
And in (mostly) chronological order - 2016 at a glance.
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.