It has been a hot summer in NYC, so I decided to escape the heat and head to the equator. While this statement would not normally make any sense, it makes perfect sense in Quito, Ecuador. At 9,350ft above sea level, the air is thin and so is the cashmere you'll need on those cool nights.
Ecuador is well-known for many things: GPS coordinates of 0,0,0, the Galapagos Islands, and the Rondador. Of course, it is also becoming known as the rose capital of the world - thanks to its excellent growing conditions and massive rose farms. Quito is full of history and many well-maintained architectural gems that are beautifully lit at night. But perhaps Ecuador's greatest achievements are the amazingly delicious chocolates and the wonderful people who seem genuinely kind and proud of their country. Fortunately Quito is getting ready to open a new major international airport, which should make experiencing all of this so much easier -- although the highway that connects the airport and the city will not be completed in time for the airport opening (this is Latin time after all). But at least you should start to see more direct flight options, which will hopefully make it easier to reach for non-G6 owners.
So jump down south during the next heat wave and pick up some alpaca scarves and all the chocolate you can carry back to keep you happy and ready for Fall.
It's not every day that an entire country organizes to celebrate your birthday with you. But it did happen for me. Iceland pulled out all the banners, bands, and beasts to help me celebrate my birthday on June 17. It was a very generous gift and I'll remember it for many years. Besides, what other country can boast about having 55 active volcanoes, 3 major glaciers, whales that perform right before your eyes, horses that have not changed since the 12th century, and a population of only 320,000 people? Yes, there will be a test on this.
The only real way to see Iceland is to get out there and enjoy it. From snorkeling between the tectonic plates of Eurasia and the Americas to riding ATV's on beautiful black beaches to taking the helicopter to see the breathtaking remote locations before landing on top of one of the glaciers for a little champagne break. Of course you'll also want to get on the Icelandic Horse and make it Tölt. But if you think Iceland is only about the landscapes that are made for movies & television shows like Prometheus & Game of Thrones you'll be pleasantly surprised that the cuisine has moved into the future and is both inventive and delicious. Sure you can find the odd rotting shark, fresh whale, reindeer, or puffin but the real gourmand is tasting all their amazingly fresh fish, beef, and lamb prepared with unique combinations - don't laugh, fish and gelato could be having a moment.
Not sure you need to go? Watch the slide show and get inspired.
And if your birthday is on June 17th they'll through a great party for you too. So get ready it's time to go.
Polo, the sport of kings, has changed a bit since it was first played. It started as a training game for Royal Calvary units in Persia and has become an international sport still enjoyed by Royalty but now has a larger following by people that simply have the title of Mr or Ms.
For the last five years Veuve Clicquot has been hosting the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic charity game in the NY area. New Yorkers and the international jet set put on their summer best and head out to the event for a bit of picnic and polo. It has become such an event it is hard to tell if the game or the crowd is more fun to watch - particularly with Nacho Figueras charming the crowd. Of course with all that Champagne the crowd does put on a good show. Either way it is something to add to your social calendar for next year. Not sure what to wear? The below should provide some inspiration:
Most likely you were told some important advice as a child. "Don't point" and "Don't pick your nose" are two examples that parents and grandparents are often found saying. But in some cases it really is necessary to violate this sage wisdom and just go for it. Yes, I'm putting my fingers to good use and going to point at Belgium. What? You were thinking something else. Don't lie...that's another one of those smart pieces of advice.
But this isn't about you -- it's about Belgium and what a wonderful place it is. A country full of bragging rights with its rich history and fantastic treats such as Belgian fries, beer, chocolates, beer, and of course waffles. And those are not just for breakfast anymore. They're available all the time. Antwerp and Brussels are the major towns but Ghent and Bruges seem to hold bragging rights on charm and medieval architecture. See for yourself:
Now don't you want to go? Well then put that waffle down and start figuring out what dates work for you.
Summer is about to jump into full swing! Are you ready? Before you know it Sally will be selling her seashells by the seashore. Although these days Sally is most likely selling them in a charming little seaside shop in a tony little area known as Seaside Florida. The panhandle of Florida hasn't really been on the jet set radar for the last 100 years with the exception of those living within a five hour radius. But that all started to change with the development of Seaside in Santa Rosa Beach back in 1981. But things really took off in 1988 when it reached international acclaim as the perfect town in the Truman Show. It's still that charmingly perfect little seaside town but instead of actors it is filled with real people living the perfect seaside life. When you are not napping under your umbrella on the beach you'll be trying to figure out when you are going for more of that delicious smoked tuna dip, or at least some good ol' southern BBQ, or perhaps you'll be good and wait for another cup of that delicious gelato. Since they are all just a stone's throw from the pristine beach, you can decide while watching this:
Now that you are ready to go, remember that on Saturdays they have a farmers market. And on May 11-13 there is a nice art fair known as Arts Quest featuring local and international artists. If you can't make it down this weekend perhaps you should go in June and stop by Seaside's chic neighbor Aly's Beach on June 8-9 to see the Digital Graffiti Festival. It's definitely helping place the panhandle of Florida on the international jet-set map. Of course you already knew that...
Ah Paris, the city of lights. Actually, that is a well-earned title because it is absurdly well-lit and every turn seems to showcase some impossibly perfect picture just waiting to be captured by your camera (no matter what device it's attached to). It's no wonder Woody Allen decided to make Midnight in Paris. Even Owen Wilson seems more likeable in Paris. After all this time it is still remarkably romantic with amazing architecture, fantastic food, and the fashion elite always causing a frenzy. And yet with all its history it still feels new and just waiting for you to discover something. In fact the city seems to be undergoing a bit of a resurgence, at least in the design world. From classic fashion houses like Hermes and Louis Vuitton to the revitalization of Moynat and new brands waiting to be snapped up at Colette. And it isn't only fashion that is moving forward.
France and Food are two things that have always been associated with each other and while that is still true today there is a growing trend of moving away from the heavy rich sauces to lighter fresh ingredients. Of course that could simply be the result of allowing more room in your dietary budget for all the marvelous macarons and chocolates that seem to be eating away at the Parisian pocket. No matter how you slice it Paris is still perfectly passionate and worth a visit no matter how many times you've been. What? You don't think so? I'll bet you two macarons this video will change your mind.
Yeah, I thought so. Go ahead - go for a weekend. Or a week. OK fine - let's take the entire summer so we can really soak up the Joie de Vivre!
During the Spring I had the opportunity to go to Madrid and Barcelona. To me these two cities are like sisters, similar yet completely different. Madrid is like the big sister with rules and secrets. Of course she's elegant and charming but reserved in demeanor so she can keep control over her hidden plans. Well, let's be honest -- what capital city doesn't do its best to hide its secrets?
Sure you can flirt with her on your own and learn all about her history. You'll even be able to wine and dine her. But to really get to know her you'll need an introduction and a plan. Not to worry! I've got just the person. They are extremely close friends. Your contact knows Madrid's history, the gossip, and where all her gems are hiding. Here is where the adventure begins:
Barcelona on the other hand is the adorable little sister who is beautiful and brash and wants you to join in on her dramatic escapades. She's the first one to get everyone on the dance floor. Don't worry, she knows how to play with the paparazzi and also to avoid them. After all she learned from her sister and has a few secrets of her own. See for yourself:
Don't blame them or yourself when you fall in love with both of them. It's bound to happen and chances are they will continue to string you along and play with your heart. Don't worry it's just love -- you can handle it. And if you run away (or run back) nobody will blame you.
There are two real reasons that people of all religions are excited for Easter:
1. Ridiculous amounts of candy in just about every store.
2. You can finally pull out those white pants and avoid the "When To Wear White" debate.
Of course it also means you can parade down 5th Avenue in your favorite hat, fascinator, sculpture, or whatever it is you have decided to call that crazy thing that you have all but supper glued to your head. No matter what, you are guaranteed to see something inspiring (or bewildering) in NYC's Easter Parade. It is by far the most free form "parade" in the city and everyone is welcome even the pets (dogs, rabbits, cats, and parrots were all in attendance this year).
When it comes to Easter people often think of bunnies, eggs, flowers, and little chicks, but this year the biggest trend - Butterflies...tons of them. Of course the hats ranged from a very small basket of eggs to enormous arrangements that guarantees the wearer lots of attention and probably a few pain pills by the end of the day.
No matter what your style or preference it is nice to see that Mother Nature continues to inspire all of us. Here are some of my favorites parade goers from this year:
As you can see it was another great year. Did you have a favorite? I hope you'll be inspired to join in next year!
February is my favorite time to visit Palm Beach. Perfect weather, great seafood, and the sunshine caressing your SPF'd skin. The stereotype of Palm Beach is the moneyed matriarchs meandering around in madras while marinating in martinis (not easily said after a martini) and while that is occasionally on display in Palm Beach there is more to the tony town.
During my recent visit I had the pleasure of seeing where some of that money goes...charity. You remember that wonderful thing that people do to help others and not simply because it lands you in the society pages. One that should get your attention is Quantum House. This organization helps families whose children are receiving medical treatment in Palm Beach. The place feels more like a boutique hotel so families can relax and recharge. It is a wonderful program that you'll want to make a donation to as soon as you finish that martini. What? All your money is tied up in cash? Well don't worry they will gladly accept your time (Kenny G stops by to sing to kids and well-known chefs stop by to make dinner). However, if you're too busy jet setting around to donate your time at least have someone on your team figure out how to untie some of that cash you've been wondering what to do with lately. You'll hardly notice it's gone but the families that are benefiting from your renewed generosity will be eternally grateful.
After my visit to Quantum House I managed to get in a little shopping on Worth Avenue, eat in a few of the little restaurants that are as classic as the dayFlagler last stepped foot in them, and then stop by the interesting "Cocktail Culture" exhibit at the Norton. After all that I was ready for the main event of the season - W.E.F. The Winter Equestrian Festival draws the international horse set out to Wellington to compete over twelve weeks. A regular Who's Who of the equine world all out to show off their talent. And it is more than horses running around with chic riders. Retailers from Hermes to the always charming couple at E. Vogle have been attending the show for years. Although the vendor that seems to be on the top of many exhibitors' list is Josey's thanks to the helmet cleaning service. After a long day of showing, that helmet is going to smell and Josey's can fix it. It's enough to make you want to have the farm polish up your Hermes saddle and get back into riding full time. Or maybe you are trying to make your life simpler and get back to basics. If so you could still do the horse thing but go out to one of the state parks where you'll see wild deer, all kinds of bird life, and the occasional 15ft alligator. Just remember this is NOT where you pick out the leather for your new boots. So many options to choose. While you are trying to decide, sit back and enjoy the show along with the last of your martini:
Sometimes one finds oneself at the end of the week with no plans and looking for something to do...but this isn't one of those stories. This is the story about ending up in Santiago for the weekend with more to do than I was expecting. Santiago is a relatively small city that is growing rather rapidly lately. Don't worry -- there is still plenty of history for your new PhD thesis. But there are also plenty of great places to eat, shop, and explore. Oh...and they happen to have some great wine in Chile that you'll want to add to your growing wine collection.
Santiago is also right by the Andes Mountains and since I'm not really a big hiker I thought it would be more fun to explore the mountains on horse back. So I called Rose to see if she'd be willing to show me the Andes....and show me she did! This was truly an amazing experience. We rode for a few hours and then pulled over to a good rock to have a lovely lunch with the most amazing views. There is nothing around but mountains, wild flowers, horses, glaciers, and serenity. There are some places that are so enchanting you cannot believe your eyes...this is one of them. I think once we crossed the pink river with its cool glacier water I was convinced that the world was going to be just fine as long as places like this exist. By the end of the ride you can almost picture yourself sitting on the veranda of your hacienda opening another bottle of beautiful Chilean wine and then wrapping yourself in your alpaca wool blanket that was made by the Aymara women from Arica as you sit by the fire and watch the sunset. Yeah...that sounds like you, doesn't it? Let me know when your hacienda is available, as I want to go back. Until then enjoy this inspirational clip: