New York City Travel Diary.

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Finally! I’ve saved the best (and longest!) ‘til last.

It wasn’t until I sifted through the 1000+ photos I took in New York when I truly appreciated this magnificent and mesmerising city. When you’re in the fanciful thick of it all, it’s so easy to get swept up in a place of virtually no rest.

I miss its organised chaos (or just ‘chaos’ in general); how you couldn’t tell that a hurricane ripped through the city only a couple of weeks’ prior; I miss the way the sunset paints itself on the Empire State Building at 4:30pm every afternoon in the Fall; I miss the palpitating rumble of the trains; the subway signs that are either lacking or require an hour of my time to decipher; I miss leaves falling from the trees along Bleecker Street; I miss watching skyscrapers dwarf sunlight in the middle of the day; discovering Bryant Park; falling in love with Brooklyn; getting trampled under the dizzying neon lights of Times Square; rowing past Strawberry Fields in Central Park; and walking down Wooster Street so many times because I love that particular stretch of SoHo an infinite amount of times.

You soon realise that there’s so much more to New York than Brooklyn or Manhattan, and I’m making it my mission to return one day to find out why.

Las Vegas Travel Diary.

1. Surprise! You’re driving a Ferrari today! 2. My husband’s smile was much wider than mine. 3. Passing the gas station that featured in The Hangover. 4.The view of Red Rock Canyon from the 458. 5. My Sesame Street dreams coming to fruition on the Strip. 6. The view of the Bellagio fountains from our upgraded suite at Vdara. 7. Breakfasting at the Aria. 8. The world’s largest H&M store… until the one on 48th & 5th in NYC trumped it this year. 9. Up bright and spritely for our heli tour to the Grand Canyon. 10. Up, up, up into the air. The view from above was so breathtaking I totally forgot about my fear of light planes and helicopters. 11. Hoover Dam. 12. And we’ve landed! 13. Champagne at the foot of the Grand Canyon. When in Nevada… 14. Magnifique. 15. Champagne picnic 1220 metres below the rim.

Vegas was so much fun! Kind of like the ultimate playground for grown-ups; an alternate reality that’s hard to take seriously, even on a Monday morning.

My personal highlights included seeing ‘O’ at the Bellagio (if you only catch one show in Vegas, please make it this one!) and the Grand Canyon helicopter tour (which wasn’t as scary or vertiginous as I had feared!). And the shopping? I hyperventilated on more than one occasion.

If you have money to burn (or even if you don’t – because it’s still fun!), this is where to head: Bellagio Promenade, The Forum Shops (Caesars), Shops at the Palazzo (Venetian), Crystals at City Centre and Fashion Show Mall (the Topshop and Forever 21 stores are mindboggling huge). 

For food, head to Payard and Wynn if you’re into buffets, Koi for Japanese, Burger Bar for, well, burgers and Spice Market for dinner.

Our helicopter tour company was called Papillon and the Red Rock Canyon Tour I surprised my husband with was through World Class Driving. I wholeheartedly recommend them both and, hand on heart, would do it all over again.

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Boston Travel Diary.

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1. The view of downtown Boston from our hotel room. 2. Climbing up the lauded steps to Widener Library – which boasts the largest university library system in the world. 3. Harvard Square. 4. I found this pinboard near the south side of Harvard Yard strangely fascinating. 5. Lobster rolls and clam chowder at Neptune’s Oyster.

Just a few snaps from the two days we spent in Boston last month.

We arrived in Boston over the Thanksgiving weekend and, even then, found it to be so chilled out. I loved tinkering around at Quincy Markets, doing laps around North End (Salem Street is filled to the brim with little boutiques, cafes and gorgeous restaurants), as well as shopping on Newbury Street and getting lost in Boston Public Garden.

One of the highlights of our time there was visiting Harvard University, something I’ve had on my bucket list inspired by the copious times I’ve watched Love Story. The campus sprawls around several blocks in Cambridge so we decided to just explore Harvard Yard.

Culinary-wise, these are my must-eats:

  • Espresso Royale cafe (for their bagels and sandwiches)
  • Quincy Markets
  • Mike’s Pastry for the cannoli (be prepared for crowds & heinous queues!)
  • Pizzeria Regina (there’s also an outlet in Quincy Markets)
  • Neptune Oyster (skip the lobster rolls and go for the oysters and clam chowder instead)
  • Silvertone Bar & Grill (make a beeline for the mac & cheese)
  • Prezza (meatballs!)
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Post-Holiday Packing.

I promised a reader of mine that I’d evaluate my packing list after I returned from the States. It has been almost a month now that I’ve been home and I’m actually missing getting dressed for the cold! It’s unimaginable that a month ago I was moaning about -3 degrees celsius and today I’m battling 40C Perth summers.

So, above is what I had planned to pack but I ended up going off a slight tangent at the eleventh hour out of sheer anxiety that 1. I didn’t have enough clothes and 2. I couldn’t physically fit them into my suitcase.

To keep this short and sweet, here’s what I learnt:

Best things I packed: Bassike black slouchy jersey pants (I wore two pairs of thermal leggings underneath these), Lover navy wool cocoon coat (practically wore this every single day), T by Alex Wang chunky black cardigan (proved to be indispensable for layering), same with my black fur gilet, black chunky knitted scarf (until I left it behind in an H&M changing room in New York), a long sleeved dress (again, great for layering and wearing out at night) wool gloves and thermals, thermals, thermals.

Things I regret not taking with me: Faux fur coat (on my list but I had to leave it at home because it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase – regretted it majorly because I became so sick of wearing my Lover coat), cream shearling gilet as a layering alternative to my black fur gilet.

Things I should have left at home: So many shoes! I really could have survived with just one pair of ankle boots and my Chanel ballet flats. It was a big mistake to bring my wedge sneakers – they were a great idea until I had to scale the streets of San Francisco. Also, my Acne leather jacket. I thought this would have proven to be a good layering piece but I ended up not wearing it very much as it was hip-length and it didn’t keep my bottom half warm enough. My Witchery leather pants – thought I’d get so much wear out of these but I found that they were too tight to wear any thermal leggings underneath and it was far too cold most days to wear just one layer on the bottom.

Things I’m glad I didn’t pack: High heels and accessories/jewellery (no one would see it anyway, plus it was far too cold to be imaginative with outfits)

* * *

If I could do it all over again (i.e. travelling during a NH winter), these items would be what I’d focus on:

Printed pants and leggings (keeps an outfit from looking dull especially if you’re wearing the same coat day in, day out)

Lots of faux fur – jackets and gilets (as a warm alternative to a coat)

A statement coat (e.g. leopard print or an eye-catching block colour)

A statement skirt (made of a thick jacquard or quilted material that I would obviously wear a couple of pair of thermal tights underneath)

Flat black boots (such as these Report Jude boots)

Ear muffs (I kid you not)

Outfit of the Day.

H&M animal print velvet dress, YSL coral patent BDJ clutch, Christian Louboutin black patent Pigalles.

Date night last night at Rockpool. It’s the last weekend I’ll enjoy before I start my new job on Monday so we heartily drank to that 🙂

Vancouver Travel Diary.

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1. Teetering on the edge of Granville Island. 2. Lunch at Hotel Rosewood Georgia. I’m playing The Album Leaf as I type this 🙂 3. Holding my very first maple leaf. 4. Tony’s Fish & Chips on Granville Island (you’ll have to queue for a table but it will be worth your while!). 5. The view from Granville Island at sunset. 6. Buying a punnet of plump raspberries at the Granville Island markets. 7. Fruit tarts are my middle name. 8. Harbour heaven. 9. Catching the Aquabus from downtown Vancouver to Granville Island. 10. Falling head over heels with this city. 11. Lunch at the Cactus Club. 12. Starters. 13. I’ll never tire of this view. 14. Into the wilderness at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. 15. Looking down from 70 metres above. 16. About to take our first steps along the 140m-long suspension bridge. 17. Walking along the Seawall at last light. Without a shadow of doubt, the highlight of my USA/Canada trip. 

Suffice to say, Vancouver blew me away.

Why are all the places I’d most like to live the furtherest away from Perth?

See you again, YVR. Let’s not leave it for too long ‘til the next time we meet.

San Francisco Travel Diary

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1. The morning after the Presidential Election. 2. Our first American hotdog. 3. Hanging by a thread on the Powell/Hyde cable car. 4. Downtown SF. 4. Queuing up for brunch at Mama’s in Washington Square. 5. And we’re in! 6. One of the best meals of our lives. 7. The French Toast that made the 60 minute queue for a table very much worthwhile. 8. A brief glimpse of Washington Square in the window. 9. Freshly baked sourdough at Boudin Bakery. 10. Clam Chowder at Boudin. 11. How not to eat a sourdough bowl. 12. Falling in love with the San Francisco architecture.

San Francisco gave us our first glimpse into beautiful cast iron architecture and a taste of impossible inclines and cable cars.

We came, we saw, and we got lost (many, many times).

Here are my SF food, shopping and sightseeing recommendations as well as a few tips and tricks at the bottom:

EATING
  • Boudin Bakery – try the Clam Chowder (Fishermans Wharf)
  • Turtle Tower – try the Pho (631 Larkin St)
  • Saigon Sandwich – Banh mi (Larkin St)
  • Ferry Building – visit the Markets
  • Tartine Bakery – Brunch (600 Guerrero Street,San Francisco)
  • Pizzeria Delphina
  • The Sentinel – try the Corned Beef Sandwich (New Montgomery Street, San Francisco)
  • Mama’s – Breakfast or Lunch (1701 Stockton Street (10min walk from Fishermans Wharf) **best meal I had in San Fran!** there is always a queue though so best to go on weekdays in between breakfast and lunch. I waited about an hour for a table but it was so worth it!
  • Slanted Door – Nouveau Vietnamese (in the Ferry Building markets)
  • Nob Hill Grill – American diner food (near Union Square)
  • Katana-ya – Japanese/Ramen. The ramen is so good here, really similiar to Nao in Perth (located on 430 Geary Street, Union Square)
  • Colibri Mexican Bistro (a few doors up from Katana-ya, on Geary St) – really good Mexican food, kind of like La Cholita/El Publico/Mamsita style. 
SIGHTSEEING
  • Japantown
  • Chinatown
  • Fisherman’s Wharf – very touristy but worth a brief visit
  • Pier 39 – go see the Sea Lions
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Alcatraz – try and book the night tour (it’s really popular so book online first, two months out)
  • Full House ‘house’ (if you’re a fan) – 1709 Broderick St (btwn Pine & Bush St.)
  • Sausalito – a really beautiful and relaxing seaside town.
  • Painted Ladies/Alamo Square
  • California Academy of Sciences – Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Dr.
  • Lombard Street – one of the crookedest and steepest streets in the world
  • Segway tour of San Fran – book ahead online
  • Bike tour of San Fran – you can book on the day I think.
SHOPPING
  • Union Square – e.g. Forever 21, Sephora, Saks, Macy’s, H&M, Uniqlo, Zara
  • O’Farrel St (parallel to Geary) – Barneys
  • Maiden Lane (off Geary & Stockton) – Chanel, Diptyque
  • Post Street – Niketown
  • Westfield shopping centre (opposite Forever 21) – Zara, Kate Spade
A few tips:
  • I found staying in Union Square a really, really good location! Close to all the shops, public transport with nice restaurants nearby. We stayed at Hotel Adagio on Geary Street but I wouldn’t recommend it as it wasn’t worth what we paid! Next time we might try St Regis Hotel or Hotel Diva. The Westin in Union Sq is excellent too if you’re wanting somewhere a lot more luxe!
  • There is a subway system (called the BART) with a train that goes from the SF airport to Union Square. It takes about half an hour one-way. If you’re staying in Union Square you can catch this train, otherwise I would take a taxi from the airport straight to the hotel.
  • To get from Union Square to Fishermans Wharf, hop onto the Cable Cars (you can’t miss them – they’re really loud!). They depart from outside Forever 21 and Sephora and you can buy tickets on board. It’s a really awesome ride!
  • Pack flat shoes or sneakers as the streets in SF are really hilly and steep! I found traversing them even in wedge sneakers a nightmare.

Here are some companies through which you can book your Alcatraz/Segway/Bike Tours:

Outfit of the Day.

The only thing on my agenda yesterday was to seek out some froyo. My husb and I have been stifling cravings ever since our last night in New York when we went to Pinkberry for dinner.

As soon as we finished having lunch with my family, we made a beeline for Tutti Frutti in Leederville, as it’s just around the corner from my parent’s house.

In the spirit of it being the second weekend into summer, I ordered Red Velvet flavoured froyo, topped with watermelon, lychee, mango, and chopped almonds.

And to my outfit, I’m wearing an H&M chambray button-down, ASOS navy jacquard trumpet skirt (not shown), Alexander Wang Marion tucked under my arm and Prada sunglasses. 

I love summer 🙂

Outfit of the Day.

Our final night in New York, before finishing our holiday with two days in Boston.

We went out to grab dinner in Soho only to find everything shut as it was Thanksgiving. We somehow ended up at Pinkberry, where I happily settled on mango froyo with strawberries, kiwi fruit and almond chips for dinner 🙂

I wore: Feathered coat from Century 21, Dotti knitted striped sweater (with a Uniqlo thermal underneath), T by Alexander Wang chunky cardigan for layering purposes, Bassike lo slung jersey pants, H&M wool fedora, Zara skull slippers.

It became unbearably cold by the end of our trip, with temperatures dipping to 0 degrees celsius in NYC and -3C in Boston. If there was only one consolation about going home, it would be coming back to gloriously warm, summery weather. I’ve been heartsick over Pinkberry ever since I returned, though!

Outfit of the Day.

H&M blouse, fur gilet, Witchery leather leggings, Uniqlo navy merino wool cardigan underneath my navy Lover coat, Chanel ballet flats, Alexander Wang Emile, knitted beanie from Miss Shop. I also threw on a chunky scarf and wore wool gloves.

We spent the day with my husband’s best friend who now lives and works in Vancouver. We had lunch downtown at Cactus Club and then he kindly took us to the Capilano Suspension Bridge where we also did a treetop walk. We capped off the day by driving through East Hastings 😉

Outfit of the Day.

On the home stretch now with my OOTDs 🙂

On my second day in Vancouver, I wore (underneath a burly coat of course):

Uniqlo black long sleeved thermal top, fur gilet (I think I went with the one on the left in the end), H&M dalmatian print pants, YSL clutch, Chanel ballet flats, Alexander Wang Emile.

I miss Vancouver like crazy.

Bellagio.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably would have seen this already.

My jaw dropped to the floor as soon as I walked into the lavish bathrooms at the Bellagio. All crazily ornate and sumptuously gilded, much like Vegas itself. We had just finished watching ‘O’ and were dawdling our way back to our hotel.

I’m wearing: Karen Walker dress, Zara necklace, MK rose gold watch, YSL Chyc clutch, Chanel ballet flats (not shown).

Outfit of the Day.

I think this was our first night in San Francisco.

I wore: H&M blouse (which became my most worn item on holiday), Bassike pants, Chloe boots, YSL patent clutch.

We marked our first night in America by having dinner at Nob Hill Diner, which was around the corner from our hotel near Union Square. After scaling an enormous incline (as is the case everywhere you go in SF) we rewarded ourselves with burgers and curly fries 🙂

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Outfit of the Day.

H&M top, H&M necklace, Dotti trousers, Zara velvet embroidered skull slippers.

Don’t worry, I put another five layers on me before I ventured outside.

I bought these Zara shoes in Vegas and I ended up wearing them almost every day after that. They are ridiculously comfortable (even more so than the Chanel ballet flats I packed). I christened them at the Grand Canyon, which was jaw-dropping in itself, but that probably goes without saying.

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Outfit of the Day.

And here is our teeny weeny hotel room in New York. As you can see, the bathroom basin is practically next to the bed.

I’m wearing (to dinner, I think): H&M peplum top and necklace, NARS Red Square velvet matte lip crayon, Essie Red Nouveau manicure.

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Outfit of the Day.

I absolutely love this coat but my husband put a dampener on the situation when he continuously told me throughout the day that I looked like Big Bird.

I’m wearing: Coat from Century 21, H&M botanical blouse (thermal underneath), Uniqlo navy merino wool cardigan, Uniqlo striped leggings.

Note to self: do not ride the NYC subway whilst wearing this jacket.

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Clocking In.

Lover dress (with a thermal layered underneath), faux fur gilet layered over T by Alexander Wang chunky cardigan, Alexander Wang Emile, two pairs of leggings.

The one and only thing on my husband’s holiday shopping list was this clock from a store called BDDW. As luck would have it, the store was situated next door to our hotel so we promptly called in on our first day in New York. I absolutely adored the clock. Unfortunately, though, that’s where our luck ended because when we enquired about the price, we were told it would be a cool $3xxx.

We told them we’d think about it.

In the red.

I can’t remember what we were doing that night but it obviously required some bright lippie.

I’m wearing: Zara striped Marinière, Zara necklace, Dotti leopard trousers.

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Brooklyn Flea.

Here I am at Brooklyn Flea, which ended up being one of the highlights of my trip. I’ll be posting much more about this in my upcoming NYC diary!

I’m wearing: H&M dalmatian print trousers, Lover Greta navy wool coat, Zara shoes, Alexander Wang bag, Ray Ban Wayfarers, and a plethora of thermals underneath.

Wooster Street.

This is picture-perfect Wooster Street in Soho, which quickly became one of my most favourite parts of NYC. 

Broadway.

I’m slowly (or more to the point, painfully!) going through photos of my trip.

I took a few photos of various outfits that I wore during the three weeks I was away so I’ll be posting them tonight.

This particular photo was taken just before I had my hair cut. It was about 10am in Soho and the quietest I’ve ever seen New York City.

I’m wearing: H&M metallic tweed jacket, MMM x H&M bodysuit, Dotti leopard print trousers, Chanel ballet flats, Alexander Wang bag.

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Bubblegum.

In between turning the house upside down tonight looking for the remote to our air con, I’ve also given some thought to my outfit for work tomorrow. I only have a half day in the office tomorrow, as I’m attending a Christmas party at Nova FM.

So far I’ve decided to wear a Topshop skirt (the pink ‘Scuba Peplum’ one) and I think I might draw some inspiration from Jason Wu’s Spring 2012 collection to put the rest of my outfit together. I especially love how fresh and invigorating white looks against a very saccharine Barbie pink. And I really love the makeup – I’ll be pulling out the Morange for this one, I think.

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Beauty on the go.

Here are a few of my hair products that are currently in high rotation.

They’re actually all pint-sized and great to travel with. I use the Dust-it (perfect for texturising my bangs whilst it grows out) and Brilliantine the most; reserving Spray de Mode and Shine On for when I’m going out at night. I really don’t know what I’d do without dry shampoo (other than the fact that I’d probably have to wash my hair more often – which I try to avoid). Upon the recommendation of a girlfriend, I picked up a bottle of Oscar Blandi from Sephora on my recent travels.

Serendipity.

I accidentally discovered one of my best beauty discoveries on my holiday, and it came straight out of my toiletries bag.

I packed my tube of Embryolisse, simply because it was the only moisturiser I own that’s travel-friendly. I purchased it about two years ago and have only used it half a dozen times, if that. I found the cream a bit too rich and greasy for my sensitive skin and so, like many other ‘cult’ beauty products, it has been collecting dust in my bathroom cupboard ever since.

When I ran out of cleanser a week into my trip (and after making an unsuccessful trip to Nordstrom in Vegas to stock up on my usual Mario Badescu wash) I thought I’d try to the Embryolisse as a cleanser by mixing a little water in it.

It ended up being one of the best, if not the best, cleansers I’ve ever used. It was potent enough to remove my makeup without me having to pull and tug with a cloth, but it was really gentle and left my skin feeling baby soft.

Unfortunately I ran out of the cream before my trip ended, so as soon as I got home I stocked up on four tubes of it from eBay. I’d love to know if any of you use Embryolisse, and where you purchase them from? Unfortunately regular trips to Paris to stock up on French skincare are a mere pipedream for me at the moment!

Trumpet.

Sportsgirl Lolita silk sleeveless blouse, ASOS skirt, Christian Louboutin Pigalles.

I’ve been going on a skirt frenzy in the space of a week or two.

This trumpet hem skirt from ASOS has got to be my favourite by far. I had initially purchased it to wear to work timing it for the start of summer but the exaggerated hem is a bit much for the office, even in my books. My other skirt purchases are thankfully more work-appropriate but still fun to wear, nonetheless.

Today was spent having brunch with my brother and sister and our other halves and then swinging past the Nespresso boutique to taste test the limited edition flavoured pods. Because we were overseas, we missed out on what has seemed to be the most popular flavour – Coconut. We decided to settle for two sleeves each of Hazelnut and Macadamia, which piqued my husband’s interest the most.

Tonight we’re going to my husb’s work Christmas function. I came down with another migraine this afternoon so I’m going to try and sleep it off before we head out.

Hope all my southern hemisphere readers enjoyed the first day of summer!