It’s that most WONDERFUL time of the year again! Or is it? The Christmas spirit is in the air but you just feel like you want to curl up in a ball and slip into your bed until the new year is here. I totally get it. There is a lot of pressure to have this amazing time with family and friends, not to mention buying gifts, maybe attend a Christmas party or two and then what about the decorations, the perfect dinner. It can stress out even the best of us who handle stress like a charm.
Here are a few of my tips, how I decompress from all the Christmas madness.
Let’s Remember The Reason For The Season And it’s not about the present. It’s about love and celebration. I’m trying to minimize the amount of presents everyone gets. One big present for my brother’s family – a game or a picture of them or blanket, something that they can all use and enjoy. And that’s it! My parents get one gift each, same with the other family members. And if you have a big family, maybe suggest a Secret Santa – everyone draws a name and that’s their person to give a present to. And they don’t even have to be store bought. The best gifts, in my opinion come from the heart and are handmade. And don’t forget that online buying is your friend. A few clicks and DONE.
When It’s Just Too Much, Get Out! Keep up your exercise routine, go for a walk around the neighborhood or if you’re lucky enough to live by nature, go there. Breathe in the fresh air from the sea or the woods. Look around and find the beauty that is everywhere. A hike in the forest or mountains or walk on the beach gets anyone’s mood lightened.
Make A TO DO List It’s good to see what you need to do on paper and when you can do them. These past two weeks I’ve made a daily list. It really helps on managing your time and helps you feel more grounded and not spinning out of control. Add days with the times you are going to do these things.
Be Easy On Yourself You didn’t get Christmas cards out on time? Let it GOOOOOO. I never mind getting a Christmas card from a friend in January, heck sometimes it’s the better time to get it. But if you didn’t get it out at all, guess what – It’s OK! Try to schedule yourself some me time in that TO DO list as well. A massage or facial or pedicure will give you some pampering time to relax. And last but not least, it is okay to say no. Don’t feel like you need to accept every Christmas get together. You don’t even need to accept the family get together. You want a Christmas with just you or just you and your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend – enter significant person here – then that is what you do. Be easy on YOU.
Be One With The Moment When the time is upon you, your friends have gathered or your family is around, take the time to be in that moment. Embrace the happiness and the love that you are surrounded by. Don’t stress about getting to the kitchen to start that turkey or if the house isn’t clean enough or if everyone is happy. Everyone is with you because they love you. Sit down and take it in. Look around and smile, rejoice and remember. Grab a loved one to give them a kiss, give them a hug, say thank you for being there. Time passes so quickly and before you know it, we will be back at our regular day life. So enjoy this moment that is finally here. Look at those lights, sip that eggnog, and feel all that love.
Bring out the stuffed grape leaves, the tzatziki, greek salads with huge chunks of feta cheese then throw in a lot of old buildings and monuments and there you have it – my first trip to Athens, Greece. It is now a proven fact that I can indeed eat those things every single day. Because that’s pretty much all I had during my week in Greece. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. And it was the best food I’ve had in months – I must have been a Greek Goddess in my earlier years because I can’t get enough of everything Greek.
We arrived late in the evening, there was only one flight out of Barcelona to Athens leaving at 6:30 p.m. so we arrived at the airport around 10:30 (3 hour direct flight plus one time difference). The hotel, Grecotel Pallas Athena, had reserved a driver for us at the airport and he whisked us to our boutique hotel, smack dab in the middle of Athens. The location is superb, the eclectic design is super fashionable and I never turn down a free breakfast, which was delicious as well. But as I said, we arrived late, thankfully there were still plenty of options for dinner for us to choose from. We wandered through the streets to the restaurant the front desk dude told us about and enjoyed our first views of Athens. Here are a few sights from that first night:
We found where we needed to get some food in our bellies and guess what we had? Tzatziki!! And a few other things. And there were two singers to help us get into the Greek feeling and welcome us to Athens. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and crashed. A full day was upon us in the morning!
First things first. Breakfast! Yes, tzatziki was involved. 🙂 Along with fresh fruit, a pastry with spinach, a very hot tea and lots of water. Only then were we ready to venture out to the glorious Acropolis in the sky. And I do mean in the sky! It’s high up on a hill. AND we walked! Very proud of ourselves. It wasn’t too difficult but the day was super hot and I only brought a small bottle of water. From the hotel it was about a 30 minute walk to the entrance. You need to buy tickets (I think they were 20 euro each) and there is a place before you enter to buy drinks – lemonade slushes, coffee, beer but NO water! And I can’t even tell you how many times I heard people ask for water and every single one was incredulous that water wasn’t sold. Even one lady said to the man, “You don’t have water!?”. “No, no water,” he answered. “No water?!”, she asked again. He replied, “Maybe if you ask me twenty times more there will miraculously be water.” Needless to say she left without ordering anything. I smirked and ordered a lemonade and strawberry slushy. But then the joke was on me – nobody can enter the Acropolis grounds with any food or drinks. Ha! But water is allowed …….
So Jess and I tried to down my slurpie as quickly as possible, resulting in about 28 brain freezes.
And we were in! There were TONS of people there. But it’s quite an expansive place so you can move around pretty easily, minus those first steps to get up to the top of the hill but once you’re there people spread out. But don’t think about getting any pictures with only you – well, it’s probably doable but difficult.
I was already impressed. First stop was the Theatre of Dionysus – which funny story. We looked out over the Theatre and Jess said that she thought it looked different. I shrugged my shoulders and said wouldn’t it be cool to see an opera here. I think they must do things there still because there were lights set up and speakers, etc.
We continued on … but it was still bothering Jess. She said again, I remember it differently. How, I asked. Well, it seems very open to fight lions and animals. OMG, I laughed so loud that I think I scared people around us. I said, I think you’re thinking of the Colosseum in Rome. 🙂 Ahhhh, good times. Let it be said Jess is a very smart woman! She’s a lawyer in Los Angeles but we all have our blonde moment from time to time.
It was amazing how old this place was, pottery sherds of the Neolithic period (4000/3500-3000 BC) and of the Early and Middle Bronze Age, show that the hill was inhabited from a very early period. Seriously, walking around where people lived in 4000 BC really blows my mind.
The Acropolis was dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena. It was Pericles in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site’s most important present remains including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. There is a restoration project that has been going on for years so we saw scaffolding, cranes, etc. But with things that old they all need a little help from time to time (don’t we all?).
We spent about two hours touring the grounds and taking lots of pictures, just like everyone else. Here are my favorites.
Alright, enough with the old stuff. We needed a cold brewski to take a break in the day. From the Acropolis we could see a very well preserved temple that looked interesting to check out. So after our beer, stuffed grape leaves and ….tzatziki!!! Sorry, I’ll stop. Maybe. We searched around for the temple. Turns out it’s located in Agora with lots of other ruins, a church and a museum. So, when in Athens, go see the temples.
It was the Temple of Hephaestus that we were seeing. The Doric order temple was dedicated to Hephaestus (naturally), who was the son of Zeus and Hera, and a god of blacksmiths, metallurgy, and craftsmen. This temple has been incredibly well preserved so one can easily see the Doric trademarks. The columns are fluted, or grooved. Above the columns is a thick, horizontal element called the frieze. Doric friezes are decorated with alternating patterns of triglyphs and metopes.
The metopes are blank panels in between the triglyphs. Very often, Doric metopes were carved with reliefs of scenes from Greek mythology, and the Temple of Hephaestus is no exception. The friezes of this temple depict scenes of the twelve labors of Hercules, the battle and fall of Troy, and an unidentified battle scene. It’s possible that the metopes that were not carved were, at one point in time, painted. We do know that some art has been lost from this site; records indicate that bronze statues of Hephaestus and Athena Ergani once stood inside as well.
As I mentioned, this temple is located in the Agora which was a place for the citizens of ancient Athens to meet, bond and deliberate on the issues of the day. The Ancient Agora was a dynamic place, where the great thinkers Sophocles, Socrates, Protagoras, among others, would meet and where ordinary citizens could come and interact with their peers, voice their concerns, agree on solutions and courses of action.
Nowadays, it a peaceful place with shady trees, paths and cats among the ruins. We checked out the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles and the Stoa of Attalos. The stoa was another place to meet but also an ancient version of a mall, it had 42 shop spaces on the two levels. It was destroyed in 267 AD by invading Herulians. Its restoration took place between 1953 – 1956 by the American School of Classical Studies with the financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
I really enjoyed the Agro and check out the restaurant Heliaia close by the ticket entrance to the Agros. Yummy food! (see I didn’t say it) and a great view of the Acropolis while you enjoy your food and drink.
Some of my favorite pics from the Agros area.
After the Acropolis and Agros we were a bit pooped. We walked back to the hotel to shower and relax before dinner. I did a little research for dinner – I like to eat at nice restaurants and stay in nice hotels so I always do a bit of delving into the internet for the best places. And this time it also still had to be within walking distance. On our way to the restaurant we turned down this street and there was one cute restaurant or bar after another. And then there was the place I had chosen – Bandiera at Taki 19, Athens. They don’t have a website but the food and house wine was one of the best places we ate in Greece. We had the hot pepper and cheese dip, tzatziki 🙂 and a greek salad. YUM YUM YUM.
Now I’m googling good greek restaurants in Mallorca. Must have more greek food! After the fabulous dinner we stopped by A is for Athens and had a glass of wine at their rooftop bar. Nice place!
And there you have it folks – Athens, Greece. We had an early wake up call to catch our ferry to MYKONOS! Check the blog soon for my time in Mykonos and Santorini.
And our word for the week in Greek was thank you – Efcharistó!!!! xo -k
Long live the land of tequila, tacos and sombreros!
Mexico will always have a special place in my heart because of my grandparents. They had two trailer homes. One in Wisconsin and one in Texas and they would spend the summers in Wisconsin and the winters in Texas. Not a bad idea I always thought. Their home in Texas was in Brownsville, which is smack dab on the Mexico – US border. Many times we visited them we would go to Mexico. We would park and walk over a bridge to Matamoros, Mexico, the bridge was of course over the Rio Grande which separates the countries. There were always adorable, laughing and VERY tan children below on the bank yelling at us to throw money. I believe sometimes my grandpa would give me some coins to throw down to them. My grandpa knew where to go and we’d usually stop for lunch at one of his favorite haunts, where huevos rancheros, enchiladas and tacos were always part of our orders. And this was TRUE mexican food. No Taco Bell here, no siree. Much better than Chi-Chi’s, Taco Bueno, “insert mexican restaurant here”. I do miss my BoBo’s Cantina though – do you hear me Stillwater folks?! And then we’d wander around the marketplace. I bought too many maracas to count but my parents scored a fancy marble chessboard with marble chess pieces that has been well loved.
So I was really looking forward to the beautiful and sweet Amy marrying the talented chef Kary in ….. MEXICO! Flying into Cancun from Miami was a breeze (no pun intended). I ordered a Dos Equis from the steward and settled in my window seat glued to the scene below.
I booked Cancun Cheap Transfers to pick me up from the airport to take me to the hotel. They had already sent me a message they would be waiting for me by the Margaritaville stand just exiting the airport. And they were! I booked a private van so there were no other stops to get to the hotel as quickly as possible. It was $55 for a one-way private trip. And they were great! I used them on the way back too and the driver even carried my bags into the airport and helped me check in. I can highly recommend!
Hotel Occidental Xcaret Riviera Maya was where we all stayed. Upon arrival I was offered an ice cold beer while waiting to check in. It’s a very big resort and after check in someone walked me to my room where I had chocolate covered strawberries and a stocked mini bar waiting for me. The luggage guy arrived quickly so I could get settled in. I gulped down all of those strawberries in a matter of minutes and popped open a cold beer while unpacking and sending “where are you” messages to all my friends that were already there. One thing, you must pay for Wi-Fi. The price was about $45 for four days if I remember correctly, it is not included with the room.
Soon I met the fabulous Bess in the lobby and we grabbed a margarita before finding the others. The resort is all-inclusive so grabbing a drink or two or three is easy and you don’t need to worry about keeping track of how much you’ve spent! Or even how much you drink! 😉 We met most of the gang at the seafood restaurant – there are eleven restaurants to choose from and I enjoyed the Paco’s Tacos the best (pizza AND tacos), because you really can’t go wrong with either of those. But there is also a huge buffet restaurant with so many options of salads, fruit, breads, pasta, main courses, desserts …. more more more. And there you can wear what you want because some restaurants have a dress code. And breakfast every morning for me was the buffet by the lagoon. My morning view was this. Gorgeous, right?!
There are so many different and fun things to do at the resort and around the resort. At the resort itself are many swimming pools, a beach lagoon, a private adults only area with ocean access, many ruins around the grounds that you can even go into and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to mention this but ANIMALS!!!! Iguanas are EVERYWHERE but there are monkeys (!!!!) which most people saw every morning on their balconies but my area didn’t have monkeys – because I was told there are snakes (!) there and monkeys don’t like snakes (well, me neither). I also saw this weird small pig animal, a deer(!), a huge ass scorpion, birds and of course fish fish fish. I apologize for all the exclamation marks but animals y’all!
And part of the resort is their Eco-archeological Xcaret Park. I didn’t do this because it was a bit expensive but everyone who had kids did go and enjoyed it. There is a lazy river (which I heard is not that lazy), swim with the dolphins, cultural attractions and more. Besides the park, people went to Cozumel, went snorkeling with whale sharks (they are huge!) and a day trip to visit Tulum. Of course, you can always just be really lazy and relax with a rum runner on the beach.
Then it was wedding day!!! Yippee!!! It was pretty chill to start with and we hung out around the lagoon. Some of us got up early to save the big beach lounge beds and some lounge chairs down by the water. We soaked up the sun and worked on the song list and had a Rum Runner or two and then it was time for the nuptials. It was perfect, between the ocean and one of the bigger ruins on the grounds. The ceremony was simple and beautiful – that must make it simply beautiful. Then off for an hour reception to have a snack, a cocktail, take some photos, sign the wedding book and watch the bride seriously think about shoving a handful of cake in her husband’s mouth. A very lovely evening with many people I have known for most of my life and getting to see and meet their children. A time never to be forgotten with many lovely and funny memories made. Let the tears commence!
There was even a full moon that night.
Congratulations you love birds! So happy for you. xxoo -k
I’ve been doing some major road trippin’ in the USA – visiting friends in Oklahoma, meeting up with my parents for a road trip to Wisconsin where I hung out in Madison, attended a wedding in upstate Wisconsin and then another wedding where my Mom grew up, small town Manawa, WI, then hit Grand Rapids, MI. And naturally, hung out with LOTS of relatives. Ahhhh, it was all good. It’s actually amazing how things can change so much in so little time – in both good and bad ways.
Let’s start with Oklahoma, shall we? Flew into green (!!!) and blazing hot Oklahoma via Will Rogers Airport in OKC.
The lovely Amy W picked me up and we were off to Stillwater – home of Pistol Pete, Oklahoma State University and where I have a zillion fantastical memories of growing up. We were getting the gang together. These are my OK girls that I’ve known since I moved to Stillwater at the age of 10. We’ve been through a lot – roomies, yelling at strangers, proms, drinking, smoking, car accidents, marriages, divorces, singing at the top of our lungs, dancing, deaths, sickness, skylab fallouts, the tumbleweed, the strip, babies, time capsules, cars, coloring hair red black grey blonde pretty much any color and I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. These girls and I understand each other so well that it only takes a look to get a meaning across and we have so many stories that nobody will ever know about but us. It’s true love, y’all. And I got tears in my eyes posting this picture below. XXOOOOOO
The weekend was filled with HEAT, drinks, laughter, QUESO!, lots of tears and just a bonding again that we really needed. It was emotionally exhausting but this time together was so important for us all. We celebrated a life, we celebrated an engagement, we celebrated us. It was another Loo meet-up for the books.
Where to hit in Stillwater? Well, it had been a good while since I was last there and Stillwater has grown a lot. Of course, there is always Eskimo Joe’s for burgers and beer, Mexico Joe’s for well, mexican. Don’t forget to hit the strip for Coney Island (now I’m craving about 10 of their hotdogs) and the strip has fun bars and shops to check out too. Walk around the beautiful campus of Oklahoma State (wave at my awesome Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house across from Theta Pond) and if you’re there during school time try to catch a football or basketball game.
Next up, road trip with Mom and Dad. I do a lot of these with my parents and I cherish each one immensely, no matter how minute. They drove into OKC from Phoenix and I stayed one more night with Amy, I needed my Amy time!!
It took us two days to get to Madison, WI. (You can check out my post about Madison, WI HERE) Where I enjoyed the peculiar items at the road side gas stations (pickled bologna anyone?) plus the sites along the way. I got to see the St. Louis Arch! And yes, my parents are one of those rare souls who still own a road atlas. I love looking through it. 🙂
We stopped one night in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln – Springfield, Illinois. And had a delicious dinner at the Chesapeake Seafood House. They serve yummy seafood, steaks and a raw bar in a mansion from the 1800s.
Off to the small town of Manawa, WI, where some of my aunts, uncles and cousins live. My Uncle David lives on the farm where my mom grew up, it hasn’t changed too much but more wildlife have returned lately. YAY!! I love to hear that. We saw these two bald eagles fighting over a catch of something (hopefully not a cat which my aunt said an eagle caught last year). And I was gonna go for a run but heard there was a bear prowling around so I decided to nix that. Wisconsin is such a pretty state, with lakes, sprawling farms and dark forests as far as the eye can see. I feel back at home whenever I’m there. Oh, and of course I needed to try out the tractor. Yep, lil me drove that.
Now we go to North Wisconsin to Eagle River. I’d never been to Eagle River before, it was niiiiice. It’s a chain of 28 lakes, the largest freshwater chain in the world! Yo. ANOTHER aunt and uncle of mine (my mom has 5 siblings) just bought a lake house on Cranberry Lake and it was lovely to just chill there and be one with nature. Plus my gorgeous cousin got married there and the wedding and reception was beautiful and so much fun. Whenever I get together with my cousins we revert back to age five and just find each other hilarious. Beautiful spot for a wedding, no?
After the wedding I tried to relax and enjoy the peacefulness. Okay, so you do have boaters driving by but their house was set a bit back so it was quite calm. Of course we had to ride in their pontoon boat around the Lakes and one of the near neighbors owns the house that was used for the horror movie Damien II: The Omen. I was taking pictures of the boat ride and my picture of that house was UPSIDE DOWN. Freaky. Check it out. So. Weird.
Isn’t that FREAKY?!?! I swear I didn’t flip it. And all my other pics that I took within minutes even seconds of that one are normal.
And somehow the stars aligned because I got to meet up with Jeannie in Grand Rapids, MI. – another American city that I’d never been to before. We stayed in the downtown area in two different hotels because one we needed to expense (the cheaper one) and one for fun. The JW Marriot was the one for fun. It’s on the river, has beautiful views, the room was clean and spacious and the steam rooms are free and lovely. The other was CityFlatsHotel and it was smack dab in the center. We could walk around to many bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a bit funkier with a big room but not as many nice amenities as the JW Marriot. I enjoyed them both.
My restaurant recommendations for Grand Rapids – Sunday night it was late and the only place near the hotel and open was the SpeakEZ Lounge. We walked there (bravely, I would say), the outside was a bit sketchy but we opened the doors to lots of people, a jazz band and a place in the back for us to sit. The food was good and I love a live band. HopCat is your typical American bar. They have TONS of beers and ciders on tap – Squishy cider was my fav (Squishy is a semi-sweet Fruit Cider fermented with Michigan apples, tart cherries, and English Cider yeast). For a breakfast/brunch place I can highly recommend Anna’s House. With an already extensive menu they have many gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options. The waffles with strawberries and the breakfast sandwich were soooo delicious and we got to-go cups for our coffees when we left. Two huge thumbs up. Jeannie even went back the next day before she flew back to NYC!
And for a bit more classy experience, try Reserve Wine & Bar. We ordered a brand old fashioned to start (it was the cocktail theme for my time in the states if you hadn’t noticed and they are the BEST in Wisconsin) and then we each ordered a flight of wine. Later we decided to share a charcuterie board of cheese and meat – really yummy. A bit on the pricey side but I feel it was worth the money. Also there is a fun bathroom downstairs with a big mirror for fun selfies. If you ask really nicely I can send a video of a head growing out of my shoulder. Ahhh, yes, my time with Jeannie is always a blast and always too short, 36 hours was not enough with her. But I will take any amount I can get. I love that girl to the ends of the earth.
And that was it. Trip was over (insert major sad face). A lot of brandy old-fashioned sweets consumed, time with relatives, friends were had and enjoyed and I flew back home to Mallorca. I hope you enjoyed the post with lots of good recommendations. Maybe they aren’t always in the fanciest of locations but sometimes one must venture away from the busy lights and hustle bustle of those.
Madison was famously described by a candidate for governor in 1978 as “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” He meant it as a dig, but many Madisonians embraced it, then and now. And for the record, it’s now 77 sq. miles.
Being born in Madison, WI and having lived there for the first ten years of my life, it holds a place in my heart that I will never let go. I think back fondly on that first house my parents built in DeForest, a suburb just outside of Madison. My brother and I making our first friends, running down to the lake behind us to throw bread at the ducks who always seemed to hang out on our yard and my mom letting me run up to my friend’s house for the very first time on my own. I can still picture the house, it was dark brown and split level, a pretty cool house that my parents designed. We drove by it when we passed through Madison last week, it’s now a beige color and I remembered it being a bit different but still put a smile on my face to see it again.
After DeForest we moved into a duplex in Madison. We drove by this too and I have even fonder memories of this house, but maybe not the scary basement – I still have nightmares sometimes of this basement. Fonder memories possibly because I was older and could remember more but maybe just because those first years of your life are quite meaningful.
I’m still in contact with a few of my friends from then – Jackie was my bestie in those years, Kathy lived the next block over and Joyce would visit from New York during the summer and sometimes at Christmas to her grandparents house behind ours. I would walk to John Muir School with my brother, slowly picking up our gang of friends along the way. After school we would walk over to the small store run by the chinese man where I would buy grape Hubba Bubba gum or those huge, chewy SweeTarts. I can still smell that gum when I think of it.
My gang of girlfriends ruled the neighborhood. We had our secret hideouts in the forest close to my house where I had my first kiss with Jason Cook. Oh those sweet innocent years in the 1970s. No cell phones, no Instagram, no need to make a duck face. In the summers we ran around from after breakfast til before dinner, we never wore bike helmets, we made gross concoctions of mustard, mayo, bugs and more to dare each other to eat and we still made it out alive.
The duplex is where my love of musicals began. I remember my parents taking me to my very first movie – Grease and I was in love. Not necessarily with Mr. Travolta but just the beauty of movies with singing and dancing. And the joy of music evolved from there – Billy Joel was my first record, then Xanadu, J. Geils Band, The Muppet Movie soundtrack – it wasn’t until my later years that I got into the big hits from the 70s – Joni Mitchell, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac.
My parents both graduated from UW – Madison so we drove around the huge campus while my parents told stories about their days. The campus has changed a lot since they were there and I loved all the stories. There was a terrible snowstorm and the streets were too icy and full of snow for any vehicles; Mom had to walk all the way from campus to our duplex – it took maaaaany hours and by the time she got home she was practically frozen. Another story – There is a statue of Abraham Lincoln that has watched over campus atop Bascom Hill for over a hundred years. Dad said the story goes that Abe would stand up whenever a virgin would walk by, and he hasn’t stood since 1953. Haha Dad.
We parked the car and walked down State Street. A pedestrian street lined with shops and bars. And sadly this time we walked down it there were a lot of beggars. It was a bit depressing to see. It was really warm that day and I stupidly wore jeans for some reason so we rushed through it a bit but I can see where it would be a lot of fun during the night. Definitely go get a brat at State Street Brats!
At the end of State Street is the Wisconsin State Capitol which houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. It is a beautiful building both inside and out. And it was air conditioned! ahhhhhhh
The UW – Madison campus is so beautiful and next time I would like to explore it even more. Both my mom and I were craving a Garibaldi sandwich and a brandy old-fashioned sweet from Paisan’s so we headed there, enjoyed our food and drink and looked out over the serene view of Lake Monona. If you want a cool spot for dinner which also serves the Garibaldi go to Porta Bella just off State St. It’s funky, cool, old vibe, the small rooms and wooden booths make it perfect.
I have three, no wait, FOUR, fantastic recommendations for you. I went to London the other weekend (no, not for the wedding, my invite must have been lost by the Spanish Post) and thoroughly enjoyed my hotel, found a great restaurant and a free product from the hotel which I recently ordered a larger bottle of their fabulous pillow spray.
Let’s start with the airline since I needed one of those to get to London in the first place. This was my first experience with Easy Jet and I was happily surprised at how smooth the transaction was with everything. I thought I had paid for my small suitcase to be carry-on but when I got to the gate she put a tag on it for me to check it when I boarded. In the end the plane wasn’t that busy so I was able to just keep it with me. With the return I did check it in London Gatwick and it was a super easy, do-it-yourself process. Plus the flight was pretty inexpensive and the flight attendants were some of the nicest I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Thanks Easy Jet! I will be a return customer.
Okay, what do you want to hear about next? How about the hotel. I met Jeannie at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. There wasn’t a single thing I can complain about. The staff was delightful, the hotel was modern and hip, the room was spacious and clean. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of bustling East London, just next to the Liverpool Tube Station. We used the Central and Circle Line for getting around and getting back but it also connects with the Hammersmith and the Metropolitan. Perfect for traveling cheap!
The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a free (non-alcoholic) daily stocked minibar and we were welcomed with a lovely bottle of Prosecco in the room when we checked in. And in the room they also had a free sample of REN & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a soothing natural perfume, blending floral notes of lavender with deeply restful Frankincense, to relax both the body and mind. I loved it so much I just bought two larger bottles for my bedtime routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby.
You also have free access to the Health Club, where we really enjoyed the steam room. And the free apples for after you have sweated everything out. The last night we were a bit tired and decided to try their sushi restaurant. Try the saki sampler!
But the best thing and maybe it’s just me but the hotel serves complimentary (that means FREE to me) wine and canapes (one night it was small sushi rolls and the other some bread with paté) from 6 – 9 pm. It was lovely to come back from a long day of sightseeing and relax in the lounge area with a snack and a glass of wine. Or two. 🙂 FOR FREE Y’ALL.
And now what I know you’ve been waiting for – FOOD. The restaurant. It was fabulous. If you love Indian food you must go. Dishoom in Shoreditch (they also have a few more locations around London) was where I had the best Indian food of my life. It’s a big restaurant and they only take reservations for parties more than 6. So arrive a little early, put your name on the list and head over to the bar for a tipple or two while you wait for your table. I highly recommend the whiskey sour.
Jeannie doesn’t eat foods with gluten and they had a large variety of items that she could eat. So feel free to eat your heart out. We shared the Crunchy Pomelo salad (with fresh kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint and coriander) and the okra fries (not gluten-free but Jeannie had a few). I haven’t had okra since my Oklahoma days! For the main dish I had the lamb Sheekh Kabab and Jeannie had the Chicken Tikki. It did not disappoint. They are also open for breakfast and the menu and teas look totes amazeballs. Just go already.
And I actually have one more rec for you. The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you do go to the Dishoom Shoreditch locatation and you feel like going out and dancing a bit, stop by Momento Lounge bar for some drinks and good tunes from the live DJ.
And there you have it. Great times are made even greater with a good hotel, good food and good experiences.
But nothing compares to GREAT FRIENDS. And when you have this kind of happiness and fun together, it doesn’t really matter where you stay or what you eat.
It’s TAILGATING time y’all! Time to gather up your friends, some brewskis, slap some dogs or burgers on a grill and enjoy. I like tailgating better than going to the actual game. There is something special about hanging out with friendly peeps on a beautiful fall day to enjoy some good ole’ American football. Speaking of which GO OSU COWBOYS!
I rounded up some things you definitely need for a perfect tailgate get-together.
HOORAY SPORTS DO THE THING WIN THE POINTS – For those who don’t really follow sports but like hanging out, this shirt’s for you! Buy here with lots of different products available.
This cooler is Amazing. Capital A. It has a Blender! Plus outdoor speakers, a USB charger, bottle openers and a lot more. Buy here.
Sir Kensington’s is one cool company. All of their products are not only delicious but MUCH healthier. Their ketchup has 50% less sugar and NO high fructose corn syrup. Awesome. This one is my favorite – Sir Kensington’s Spicy Ketchup features chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and hint of coriander. Put this on your hotdog and hamburger NOW. Buy here for all their products
You can’t go wrong with Velveeta and Rotel Queso. If you’re feeling really crazy throw in some chorizo with it! Available at most grocery stores.
A portable, fold-up grill is exactly what you need for your next tailgate. Buy here
This Killer Hogs BBQ RUB has won championships. Get it now. Buy here
A flannel stadium blanket for sitting on those cold benches is needed for those colder autumn days. Buy here
The chef needs a beer and a cool apron. I like this one – SAVE WATER DRINK BEER. Buy here
It is a MUST to have your football team’s banner flying around your tailgate. Buy here with lots of teams available.