ISLA HOLBOX

A mere eight miles off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, all your questions whether heaven really is a place on earth are answered. Isla Holbox is an island in its truest form: 26 miles long, less than a mile wide, a rare find with nothing but a stretch of beach, a small town and the occasional yogi crossing your path on a bicycle. A car-free (and care-free) sanctuary, Isla Holbox is the perfect place to explore by foot, bike or (yes) golf-cart. Even though it’s often branded as “the next Tulum”, it still holds the magic of a sleepy getaway that lets you truly unplug.

How to Get There:

You have two options here…

  1. You can fly directly from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. This is obviously the more expensive option but it’s quick, so you could make a day trip out of it.
  2. You can follow in my footsteps and hop on the old ADO bus (leaves from the ADO station in Cancun) and enjoy a 3 – 4 hour ‘journey’ to Chiquilá, where you will then catch a ferry across to Holbox. The bus leaves from Cancun 3 x per day and costs $118 peso ($7 USD), they do fill up so make sure to get to the station in good time. There are two ferries that run all day in half hour intervals, it costs $120 peso (also roughly $7USD) and takes 30 minutes to get you from Chiquilá to Holbox. In all honestly I would suggest this option as although it is a long drive, you really get an authentic experience on the bus, driving through multiple small towns, picking up school children and other commuters along the way. By the time you get to Chiquilá you might even be able to say more than just “Hola”.  (Traveler tip: Make sure you pee before you board.)

Where I stayed:

Holbox Dream Resort – This place is basically a tree fort for adults. It’s a down-to-earth beach front property with really good food and beautiful staff. Breakfast is served daily on the beach front and offers both “westernized” options as well as traditional Mexican dishes. The sunrise is insane, so get down to breakfast early, grab a plate and enjoy what is truly a serene moment.

Where to Eat & Drink:

Hot Corner – It could not be more appropriately named being the ‘hottest spot in town” for live music and drinks. It is also located on the corner of the main intersection – go figure.

Taco Queto – This restaurant is basically a bunch of picnic tables under a tarp with a food truck backed into one corner. It’s so fantastic, and so cheap! I paid $45 peso for 3 veggie tacos. What a dream.

Las Panchas – Great fresh fish and Seafood – though this is everywhere on the island.

Basico – The most expensive place to eat in Holbox but it’s still very reasonable. Beautiful dishes and decor.

Naay – A super healthy, fresh, organic salad bar. I couldn’t eat here myself as they had peanut in the kitchen and couldn’t guarantee cross contamination, however its definitely a place to check out if you’re not an allergy kid.

Viva Zapata – Sit in the front on the swings or couches and have some fajitas and beer!

Interesting Fact:

Back in the 18th century, Isla Holbox was famous for providing asylum for fugitive pirates from Spain and Italy. Some used it as a stopover, and some decided to stop pirating and stay – honestly can’t blame them.

 

  

  

    

 

Photos by myself & Jeff Shuh.

NEWPORT HOUSE – FOR THE TRAVELER

I’ve always identified myself as a traveler, craving the local scene over the guided tour. I want to understand a place and experience it as it’s own people do. This is what unites us as humans, seeing how others live and realizing that we are all the same. We eat different food, live in different terrains, speak different languages, but we all put our pants on one leg at a time. It has been a long time opinion of mine that traveling is a cure for misconception and the more ground I cover across this beautiful planet of ours, the more I consider the age old debate of traveler vs tourist.

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Newport House in Playa Del Carmen. If you’ve been to Playa you know how ‘touristy’ it can seem. Tons of people, night clubs, crowded beaches, large resorts. It’s easy to take it at face value but the city has another side, a vibrant soul and Newport House wants to help you find it.

“Live like a local” is their mantra and their specialty is creating “off the beaten track” itineraries so you can discover Playa in your own way. This is what I loved most about our stay – getting the insider info on local cuisine and secluded sites aka things you wont necessarily find on Google.

Newport House is made up of self sufficient apartments with a full kitchen (and laundry), so you can hit up the markets and cook your own dinner with all the local produce you’ll surely over buy. DAC Market, which I’ve included photos of in this post, is a local favourite for fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s about a 10 minute bike ride from Newport House and conveniently NH provides you with the bikes!

Some other things I loved about my experience at Newport House were:

  • The private rooftop, perfect for answering morning emails (they have outlets in the cabanas!) also perfect for watching the sunset over the city.
  • The welcome basket waiting for you in your room, filled fresh organic breakfast essentials – all locally sourced.
  • A list of local restaurants ‘gems’ including vegan/vegetarian options waiting for you in your room.
  • Full access to bikes and longboards to help you explore the city and cruise the beach.

So for all my fellow travelers, if you’re heading to the east coast of Mexico and in search of an authentic experience Newport House has you covered!

CALIFORNIA DREAMING – LA TRAVEL GUIDE

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When the East Coast settles into winter temperatures, there’s really only two ways to deal with it. Go into full-on hibernation mode, or pack a bag and make a run for it. If you’re following me on Social Media, you know by now that I chose the latter – and hopped on a plane to LAX (cue that Miley song). 

The last and only time I visited LA was brief, so I was super happy to finally spend some quality time in the City of Angels – both for work and fun. I was determined to explore as many parts of the city as possible, and if I thought my social schedule’s survival was depending on transport in NY, Los Angeles was a whole other story. Getting around in Cali without a car is close to impossible – so Uber will be your best wingman.

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Depending on your tolerance for heat (and crowds), LA is always a good idea.

March – May: Spring. Long sleeves morning and night, but most afternoons will be warm enough for the beach.

June – August: Summer is peak season, it’s hot and busy, but for good reason.

September – November: Similar temperatures to Spring, incredible sunsets.

December – Feb: “Winter” Hardly though. No parka needed.the-rue-collective-california-uber-7

cali-travel-tip (this is how you schedule rides with Uber)

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Malibu Farm 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy

Pizzana 3510 Sunset Boulevard

Republique 624 South La Brea

SUGARFISH (Sushi) multiple locations

Mixed Company 3903 W Sunset Blvd.

PYT (Vegetarian) 400 S. Main Street

Botanica 1620 Silver Lake Blvd

Pink Taco 88 Sunset Blvd.

Cafe Birdie 5631 N. Figueroa Street

Leona 123 Washington Boulevard

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Beverly Hills Sixty Hotel (pictured above)

The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Line Hotel

The Hollywood Roosevelt

ACE Hotel DTLA

Malibu Beach Inn

Nobu Ryokan

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*This post is sponsored by Uber, but all opinions are my own.

MALIBU BEACH INN

laurie-ferraro-malibu-beach-inn-1Recently I had the pleasure of spending four days at the Malibu Beach Inn located on the charming shores of Carbon Beach, California. For me, being near the Ocean is a cure-all. I touched down from NYC, tired, overworked, annoyed that my flight was 11 and a half minutes late… but then my feet hit the sand. I felt the water on my toes and took my first breath of fresh air in what felt like weeks. Suddenly I was happy.

This is the power of the ocean and when you pair it with the right resort experience you find your own little paradise. Welcome to the Malibu Beach Inn.

I knew I liked this place as soon as I walked into my room. I stepped onto the balcony and felt like I was hovering above the ocean *cue Titanic music*. It was late, so I propped the sliding door wide open, crawled into my king size bed and fell asleep listen to the waves.

10 hours later I arose from my sea air induced coma and was greeted by a soft pink sunrise, crystal blue waters and one simple thought…

I am definitely not in Kansas anymore.

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THE RESORT

With just 47 rooms, MBI has a cozy beach-house vibe with a luxury service feel. The staff were like friends and their attention to detail was exceptional. Anything I needed help with was attended to – Paddle boarding lessons, special dietary needs, finding my flip flops.

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THE FOOD

Food can make or break a holiday. I want good food, and lots of it. Everything I ate at MBI I wanted more of. The menu is seasonal, locally sourced and constantly being refreshed with new creations – seafood, avocado, house made granola, vibrant salads, crispy veggies – all of my favourite things.

I’ll also take a second to mention the signature cocktail ‘Playa Access’. Tequila, Cucumber and Love. It spoke to my soul.

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THE BEACH

MBI is one of the only West Coast hotels who own their beach and can serve a full menu seaside. So, if you’re like me and prefer to eat your lunch from a horizontal position, while sipping Sav Blanc, MBI has you covered. White sand, perfect view of the Malibu Pier, dotted with Italian sun loungers. What a way to spend the day.

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WHEN TO VISIT

June – August

Summer is peak season, the busiest time for obvious reasons.

September – November (when I visited)

The crowds have dispersed but being in Southern California the weather is still mint.

December – March

Offers the best rates of the year while you cozy up fireside with your favourite glass bottle of vino.

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Malibu Beach Inn has mastered the art of the escape. So, if you’re looking to rest mind and body but reignite your soul, let me pass you a Playa Access and steer you on over to this West coast wonder.

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UNION STATION HOTEL, NASHVILLE

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Remember the first time you read Harry Potter? I was 10, which means I’ve been in the market for a castle and a ride on the Hogwarts Express for 19 years now…

Last week, at the Union Station Hotel was the closest I’ve come.

This boutique hotel in the heart of Nashville was originally a railroad terminal opened in 1900. It’s a perfect example of late-Victorian Romanesque Revival architecture, which means… it’s basically a castle!!

What I loved about it (aside from being castellated):

  1. The rooms are large with extra tall ceilings and decent sized bathrooms.
  2. The lobby is breath taking and has a nice little bar you can perch yourself at while you enjoy the ambiance (or pretend your at Hogwarts).
  3. It’s a stones throw from the Broadway strip, as well as the Music Hall of Fame and The Gulch, which is a great area for restaurants.
  4. The staff were genuinely nice people and very accommodating. We were given detailed directions and restaurant recommendations complete with a hand drawn map.
  5. The french fries that we had delivered to our room after a jaunt on the Broadway strip were divine.

One thing to note is that the train lines below the hotel are still in use, which certainly adds to the charm and atmosphere of the old station, but it is something to consider if you’re a light sleeper.

So, if you’re looking for a unique hotel experience close to the action, Union Station Hotel will take you back in time and leave you feeling enchanted.

Though I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts…

union-station-hotel-nashville-exteriorImage via www.cntraveler.com

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NASHVILLE TENNESSEE

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Nashville, Tennessee, accurately nicknamed Music City is waiting to swoon your inner cowboy, feed your southern appetite and take you on a tour of it’s smoky, beer infused live music scene.   

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when-to-gowhen-to-goThe warm weather brings the live music scene to life and when it starts to cool off, the changing colours and country side bring all the Fall feels.

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(this is how you splitfare with Uber)

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The Flipside: Retro style diner, world famous for it’s chicken, but as I’m currently a veggo I had the soup and inhaled the tatter tots. Omg they were good.   

Cafe Roze: Trendy all day cafe with healthy dishes, good coffee and cocktails.

Henley: Definitely not your standard menu. Chic and modern with a great cocktail menu. Get the Flake and drink the Mezcal Cocktail. 

Mas Tacos: Trendy street food style Mexican, to feed your taco coma. 

Biscuit Love: Wildly popular and famous for its biscuits. You will wait in line, but it’s worth it. Leave your diet outside.

Salt & Vine: Super chic, not-so-little wine bar with flavour-filled small plates. 

Marsh HouseI almost drank the butter sauce from the bottom of my shrimp dish.

Vegan Options:

House of Veggies & Vegan: Some of the best Vegan pizza I’ve ever had. They deliver, for a post Nash Vegas bedtime snack.

Sunshine Cafe: Vegan wraps, salads and bowls. I had the buffalo ‘chicken’ wrap and I’m still thinking about it. 

 

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Urban Cowboy Public House: Rustic-chic backyard bar with a large patio. In the cooler months they have a fire on the patio.  

The Patterson House: Fancy cocktails. Featured in GQ.

3 Crow Bar: Good and divey. Just my tune.

Santa’s Pub: K, I LOVE this place. It’s a serious dive bar with karaoke in a double-wide trailer. Hilarious. Get ready to smell like smoke. Also, it’s cash only.

Tootsie’s: Famous Broadway country bar with 3 floors. I never wanted to leave. 

ACME Feed & SeedAlan Jackson’s bar on Broadway, multiple levels with a sushi floor and rooftop. 

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Urban Cowboy Im obsessed with this place. It’s a rustic-chic B&B. Exactly what I thought of when I first pictured Nashville!

Union Station Hotel This is the original train station converted into a hotel. The building is really cool and it’s super close to downtown, but depending on how many Whiskey’s you sank before bed the trains are a little loud. 

Thompson Nashville I’m always a fan of Thompson Hotels. This one is done up in a rustic theme, has a wicked rooftop and Marsh House is downstairs.

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*This post is sponsored by Uber, but all opinions are my own.

BEACH HOPPING IN ITALY

the-rue-collective-italy-primark-2Last week Char and I touched down in Italy and spent a few days wandering some of the Northern coastal towns – Portofino, Santa Margherita and down through Cinque Terre. Between our carb loading and gelato tastings we took to beach hopping and soaking up those Italian rays.

When shopping for travel swimwear the two things I want are comfort and versatility. I end up living in my bikinis so I need them to work with my outfits too. This gingham bikini set is from Primark. I grabbed it along with some extra black bottoms and a plain white top so I can swap the pieces around for different looks – this goes a long way when traveling for extended periods of time.

Time for a siesta.
Ciao!

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