Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Travel Marm’s Packing List

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

So you’re going on a trip? Fantastic! Nothing is more exciting than breaking out your suitcase, travel tote or backpack, and those smaller sized ziplock bags! This 100% Pure zippered pouch comes with awesome, organic facial products.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

I have bought the items below multiple times because I haven’t packed them, but now I’m armed and ready to go. So Don’t Leave Home Without:

Ziplock bags. Small size. Somehow they disappear like socks in the dryer. You can never have enough.

Converters. A few to several of the cheap, #3 kind.  You will need them for your phone charger, laptop and/or tablet chargers. And– hair styling tools!

Phone Car Charger. Thanks, Wendy, for reminding me of this! The best way to keep up battery while on the road.

Wine Bottle Opener. Hotels will not supply these. Be sure to put it in checked luggage; you can’t carry them on a flight.

Plastic Water Bottle with a top. This makes me force hydration, and in many countries buying plastic water bottles is $$.

Umbrella. Small.

Light Rain Coat.

Ear Plugs. Get as much sleep as you can. My last hotel in northern Italy was on the village square next to the clanging bells of a  baroque church. At 7 AM.

Nail tools. Being desperate for a nail file or a nail clipper ruins an afternoon, so bring them.

Bandaids. For blisters.

Neo Sporin ointment. For blisters and any other scrape that could become infected.

Tylenol or Ibuprofen. 

Sunscreen.  Even on urban, city trips you will be outside longer than you normally are.

Copies of passport or driver’s license.  Put these in a suitcase and separate from the real documents in case of theft or loss.

International Driver’s License. Make sure you do the easy, quick process to get it or you can’t pick up your rental car outside of the USA.

 

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Midnight Arrival in Mumbai

Mumbai Street

I woke up in Mumbai to a  flat, mid-morning sun that slapped me around;  I had dry mouth and it 10 AM. I wanted to sleep for at least four more hours. And, God where was the coffee?

I looked out of the hotel window onto the Arabian sea, but a haze obscured the ocean. It looked like the California coast, but with a fog of pollution blocking the water.  According to the World Health Organization, Mumbai is the fifth most polluted mega-city in the world. Unregulated emissions from its vehicles, the new construction of tall buildings and skyscrapers, and the occasional burning of trees create a brew of stifling air.

The night before my flight had arrived at the airport at 9:40. I stood in the wrong line at Indian customs, then I found the right line. Next I was waived over to the line for Pakistani nationals (I’m not Pakistani). I was waived back to my original line and waited. After showing my passport I was photographed and fingerprinted several times like everyone entering India.

Finally,  I was picked up by a pre-arranged driver. Too bad that the driver dropped me off at the wrong hotel a Westyn, across Mumbai from my real hotel. It was 11:30 PM; I was across the world from my family and everyone I knew.  So I had the cocktail I really needed at the hotel bar. How bad could it be? I was at a Westyn with killer air conditioning and indoor fountains; I was the only patron at the bar with an enthusiastic bartender.

I called my Mumbai host, a former colleague, who was  in Florida buying bras at Nordstrom’s. “I’m at the Westyn. The driver dropped me off at the wrong hotel. What should I do after I finish my Mumbai martini?” I asked her.

“Get an Uber. Oh, and get a Black Car or you’ll be riding across 20 million people in a rickshaw.”  Good to know. I finished my drink and tapped on Uber, and Black Car.  It was cool and weird that it lit up and worked in Mumbai just as it had in New York about 18 hours before.

On the ride to the correct hotel I stared at Mumbai on the highway, my entree to the Indian streetscape: motorized rickshaws, mini black and yellow taxis, couples and families of three on motorbikes (!). Then there were regular bikes, trucks and chauffeured luxury cars. Lots of technicolor saris and tons of billowing scarves. Shanty dwellings, shops, and clotheslines bordered the highway, lit up and alive with crowds.  And what was that haze obscuring the lights and buildings? Wow, I am really here.

The hotel entrance had a full-on airport-style security setup, and my bag went through an x-ray machine, I walked through a metal detector. Then I was wanded and patted down by a veiled woman in a private women’s section.

I checked in, got up to my room, and was wired. And starving. So I ordered some Indian chapatis, or tortillas, and some undetermined vegetarian spreads.  3 AM. I got myself to bed. Mumbai’s streets were packed with honking vehicles.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Girls’ Get Aways!

Do you sigh and smile like I do when you think of your daughter? Mine  is almost 24. I am 52. We are at a place of mutual adoration, but we hiked some mountains to get here.  I christened her HRH at age 16; she has since moved on to Gracious-Hardworking-Totally Kick Ass. )  HRH’sgirlhood was an easy tomboyhood filled with energy, smiles, athletics, then dance. Middle School Madness was a roller coaster of mini drama-bouts. Then HIgh School was an Ice Age of communication and emotion, kind of like living in North Viet Nam with no internet. College became friendly, and I earned  Acceptable Mom Clearance.

She even told me that she realized I was right and knew everything when she was 19. I waited 19 years for that. 

Transition to Real Life from University Utopia was a bee-yatch, but she snapped into Reality Bites and working full time , and being poor in New -York in a few months. Then we started having Real Conversations, and they just keep coming.  So I want to take her on a Mother Daughter getaway and have her all to myself. Join us?

January, or Dryuary is well over and it is time for a Mother-Daughter Getaway to beat the Winter Blues.  Here are some suggestions from friends and family.

Bikini Boot Camp. Tulum, Mexico. Great name, huh? My friend Amy and her daughter Emma did this the first week in January and loved it. Bikini Boot Camp is an all-inclusive vacation including lodging, food, and regular, scheduled exercise and yoga options. Amy loved getting up first thing and practicing yoga to the sunrise.  The food is all fresh, additive and gluten free and served to you family style.  Get your Mind Body Connection jumpstarted at Bikini Boot Camp.

Canyon Ranch. Tucson, Arizona. This is the gold standard for spa and nutrition stays. I did this a couple of years ago with two girlfriends and I can’t wait to take my 23 year old daughter. There were scads of mother-daughters doing the Canyon Ranch Routine: eating small portions of superior, clean food, taking work out classes, going hiking, going to health seminars, and having spa services.  I learned so much at Canyon Ranch about nutrition, physiology, and of course portion control and cooking.   It is a Dry Resort, but we didn’t miss drinking due to CR’s delightful mocktails. (Well. Yes we did. ) High Points:  hiking in the Tucson mountains, lunch time cooking classes with Chef, nightly massage.  Be sure to call and ask directly about deals and specials and spa allowances; there are always a few doing.

Skiing in Vail, Colorado.  Vail is primo for its snow, skiing variety, and easy transportation. Flights to Denver are plentiful and direct from most places and the drive to Vail is a cinch via rental car or the Colorado Mountain Express.  I met my ski buddy Judy in Vail for a few years because of this. We like to stay at the Vail Cascade, which is reasonably priced for Vail and has a spa and work out facility attached. There are other, even more high end options in Vail or Beaver Creek.

Palm Springs, California.  Get out to the sunny desert in Palm Springs.  Palm Spring has several resorts, and its midcentury houses are a great drive-by diversion.  Did you know you can hike the hills and desert trails in Palm Springs? That would be my pick. The shopping  is also excellent. Tennis, anyone? I stayed at La Quinta, which is the primo tennis and spa weekend resort.  La Quinta has been around for generations and its Spanish colonial adobe architecture and gardens are outstanding.  It is a full blown tennis club offering the best pros, lessons, and clinics. (I am mentally planning a tennis team trip here.) Capital T for Tasteful,  The Riviera is at Starwood property with a full spa, tennis courts, pool, fitness center and awesome, reasonable rooms.

London, Paris, or Rome Off Season.  Cheerio! Bonjour! Bongiorno! Get some Culture, and great food and drink, and shopping in a world city. The best deals going are from British Airways. They offer packages of air fare and hotels; remember to pick a hotel that provides a complimentary breakfast. And see if there is also free afternoon tea or evening wine or aperitif.  We went to London on a BA package years ago; it was perfect. I’m happy to see they are offering the same packages now because I’m dying to take HRH to Paris.

Puerto Rico, Isla de Vieques.  Calling all Beach Babes! And East Coast Girls– the travel is just as easy as going to Cancun. The W Resort and Spa is calling your name: margaritas or mojitos served to you on the beach and a massage later. For you  Boutique Hotel Ladies the Hacienda Tamarindo offers just 17 rooms with a killer breakfast and all manner of spa services.

Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is not an international trip, BTW. There are now flights into Santa Fe, but flying into Albuquerque, New Mexico and driving 50 minutes to Santa Fe remains an option.  Santa Fe feels like a different country with an architecture and cuisine dominated by Spanish Colonial and Native American cultures.  The town center boasts adobe building from the 1600’s.  The food scene is unspeakably good: Inn of the Anasazi, Cafe Pasquale, and more.  Santa Fe has the best concentration of fine arts in a spectacular mountain setting. Museums: the Georgia O’Keefe, the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art, the Folk Art Museum and more. Performing Arts: The Santa Fe Opera in the summer, music, dance, and more. The visual art scene of its world famous galleries has been around for decades. And, the Japanese spa 10,000 Waves offers spa services in traditional, Japanese style.

 

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

New Orleans for Empty Nesters

Need a mid-winter lift? Get thee to New Orleans, or NOLA, for divine food and drink, amazing architecture, and an escape into French America.  New Orleans’ old world vibe,  spectacular food, music, lush Adoubon park,  and opulent historic houses in the Garden District really transport you from daily American living to its European, old world ambient.    Laissez les bon temps rouler! Let the good times roll!

Transportation:  Uber,  taxi, and the St. Charles Street Car that goes from the French Quarter to Uptown  Accommodations: New Orleans Hotels

Lunch: We went immediately to Brennan’s in the French Quarter. Recently restored, Brennan’s is an old school New Orleans standby specializing in a long, languorous brunch with bloody mary’s, mimosas, or champagne. The dessert Bananas Foster was invented at Brennan’s.  Between the three of us we had an omelet, shrimp creole salad, and coq au vin, or backed chicken in wine sauce.

Walk Around the French Quarter:  There was jazz on the street! The quarter always has jazz bands busking on corners. See old French and Creole-style buildings with wrought iron on narrow, paver-set streets. It is just fun to walk around and window shop in antique stores, vintage jewelry stores, galleries and all types and grades of restaurants and bars.

Uber to Mardi Gras World:  See where Mardi Gras is made! Mardi Gras World creates the floats for Mardi Gras as well as for other parades around the world. It is like a huge scale Santa’s Toy Shop in their studio-warehouses and there is a self-guided tour. Stroll outside to the docks and see the barge and tugboats of New Orleans.

Cocktail at your hotel or in an outdoor French Quarter bar.

Dinner at Commander’s Palace. You eat big and fancy here; all stops are pulled out. The gumbo appetizer and the warm dessert souffle is not to be missed.

Day 2. Breakfast at your hotel.  Magazine Street and Uptown. :   Take the St. Charles Ave. streetcar from Canal St. and get off at First or Second St.m about a 15-minute trip. Walk through the famed Garden District neighborhood toward Magazine St. There are Garden District tours available of the historic houses and gardens.  When you get to Magazine Street, turn right, then walk the stretch between Washington and Napoleon, which is full of restaurants, shops, and bars.  Have an espresso and walk all the way up to big, beautiful Audubon Park .  You can take a bus, the  #11 Magazine Street or a cab back to the French Quarter for some coffee with chicory and beignets at Cafe du Monde,  or to your hotel.

Pack up at the hotel and get ready to catch a late afternoon or evening flight, or stay another night and eat at Galatoire’s in the Quarter and head up to a bar on Magazine Street.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Stockholm

See the Instant Itinerary in this post!  See the Stockholm Day 1 Longform article for details and impressions.

My One and Only and I walked Stockholm for four days, and we loved every clean, beautiful, ordered thing about it. Here is our Day 1 itinerary.

Arrival: We took the Arlanda Express train into Stockholm and checked into our sleek, Swedish hotel, the Nobis in Normalm. It was 7 AM. The breakfast buffet was stocked with the Euro-usual: fruit, muesli, yogurt, bread, ham, salami, cheese, and oh . . . . smoked reindeer, and some lingonberry jam.

Site 1: Gamla Stan. 2 hours. We strode the 15 minutes over a canal to Gamla Stan, the old city. It houses the current royal palace, Kungliga Slottet, and museums, churches, squares, shops, restaurants, bars, and schools. We saw the changing of the Royal Guard, 

Kungliga Slottet is the type of opulent palace seen all over Europe. It even had its own Hall of Mirrors and the collection of precious stone medals was impressive. 

Gamla Stan’s mustard, russet, and pine colored buildings and the cobblestones make it fun to walk around. The restaurants are overtly touristy, and there are many nordic curio shops.

Break:  Espresso HouseWhile traveling, we all need a second place to rest, get coffee and snacks, use free wifi, study maps, and pore over the travel books we didn’t read before the trip. The Espresso House is the second place in Stockholm. There are everywhere, they have free wifi, and the coffee is superior. And Espresso House serves warm, crunchy-gooey paninis; there are plenty of chocolate opportunities as well.

Tour 1: 2.5 hours The best way to see the big scale of Stockholm and the full panorama of its Baltic setting is to see it by boat. I had bought our tickets for the Stockholm Bridges and Canals tour online from viator.com, a tour-clearing house site. But there was no need to do so. Several boat tour ticket booths lined the two main tourist harbors.

The tour pulled us out of the main harbor and took us around a loop toward Lake Mälaren, adjacent to the harbor. We went under several old city canal bridges and then went through a canal lock near trendy Sodermalm that evened up the waterway for the boat to enter Lake Malaren. We saw parts of Stockholm we could have never seen if we had stayed on foot. 

Cocktail Hour. Grand Hotel Stockholm. We beat jetlag! How divine that glass of rosé was at the outdoor bar next to the old hotel. 

Dinner:  Sushi at MBK Restaurant. Walking distance through the outdoor mall in Normalm.

DAY 2: VASA MUSEUM, SODERMALM, FANCY DINNER

“So the Vasa ship isn’t a Viking ship!” I said too loudly at breakfast. Nobody looked at me; they don’t do that in Sweden. You just get ignored, which is better anyway.

The Vasa warship was a war vessel commissioned in 1628 by King Gustavus Adolfus to strike fear into the Polish navy stationed across the Baltic. Too bad it sank almost immediately after its premature launch in Swedish Baltic waters.

Walk 1: After loading up on breakfast and pots of coffee, we walked a couple of miles along the Strandvagen boulevard next to the bay to Djurgården island which houses the Vasa Museum. Bike lanes, pedestrian lanes, and car lanes lined up in parallel on Strandvagen with sturdy, identical lines of poplar trees dating from the late 1700’s. Not a car or a person out of place, Swedish style. 

Site 1: Vasa Museum. The museum shrouds the Vasa ship like a grand wedding-tent, soaring five stories with masts like a spider web of wood. No machines, industrial factories, or robots were used on the Vasa. Just droves of shipbuilders in an outdoor foundry and lumber yard on Djurgården island.

The Best Part: We then strolled to the anthropology displays. Swedish forensic anthropologists have taken the bones and teeth of the drowning victims, and they have re-constructed detailed personal histories and even human-sized models of them. Ship workers and servants sustained injuries like broken bones and missing fingers and toes during their hard, short lives. Their brittle, often missing teeth revealed diets poor in nutrients. The anthropologists listed their illnesses and injuries, and they gave them authentic names like Lars, Gunnar, and Greet.

Lunch: Guess where we went to lunch? You’re right: Espresso House! After leaving the Vasa museum we walked down the Strandvagen along the bay toward the hotel. As usual, the tomato and mozzarella panini and cappuccino hit the spot.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Scandinavian End of Summer

 

Scandinavia End of Summer

Does anybody else wait to read travel books until they are on the trip? Buying the DK travel guides before a trip is just as exciting as arrival there. My new DK Sweden book took up residence in my car and traveled everywhere with me – to the grocery store, meetings, the dog groomers, and the hardware store.  At stop-lights I pored over its Stockholm street maps and meticulously labeled illustrations of Viking ships. 

But it all didn’t add up into a city I could readily conceptualize. I have to be in the place and walk the streets, see the signs, the parks, buildings, and palaces for it to make sense.

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Santa Fe Hotels- Two

 

We stayed in Santa Fe a couple of times this summer and I’ll begin with our latest trip– a business gathering at Las Posadas de Santa Fe.

Las Posadas de Santa Fe

The physical property and location of Las Posadas de Santa Fe just can’t be any better. Las Posadas is a rambling extension of rooms and casitas that is historic; I grew up staying here every Christmas in the ’70s and ’80s when it was unabashedly shabby chic. Las Posadas displays a quality art collection in the lobby and the public, indoor settings and this is unique in Santa Fe where so much mediocre to bad art is now pervasive. I do love that there is a special line for “Curator” on the room phones. The landscaping is gorgeous and just a few blocks from the plaza adds an A Plus for Convenience Factor. But, see below for some truth and relevant details for a stay there. See stylemarm.com for more Santa Fe travel information & for other destinations too.

The Room Report

This is where Las Posadas just doesn’t hit the mark. My husband and I were initially put into a downstairs room under boisterous, noisy guests; we later saw them with their two large dogs. We asked to move and we were graciously accommodated so we switched to an upstairs room.

Room High Fives
1. The king sized bed was superb. The bedding and the pillows were excellent.
2. Many large sized bath towels were provided; they were of the best, heavy, cotton variety.
3. Two high quality terry-cloth bathrobes were provided.
4. The flat screen TV was the most up to date and functioned perfectly.

Room Low Fives
1. Our first room had no chest of drawers to put clothes; be sure to ask for one.

2. Our second room had only one sink in the bathroom.

Service High Fives
1. We were graciously accommodated about our request to change rooms.
2. The Valets and their services are the best thing about Las Posadas; tip them beyond well.

Service Low Fives
1. The Room Service manner and delivery on phone orders was among the worst I have experienced. Coffee can’t be delivered until 6:45 AM; a big deal for those of us headed to business meetings or outdoor excursions. And, one morning at 6:50 AM I asked for coffee and I was told to “just use the mugs that are in your room.” Well, I never! A surprisingly long exchange about the provision of coffee cups ensued.

2. Housekeeping is just not where it needs to be and they are woefully understaffed. The beautiful courtyards were blighted by bags of soiled laundry and used room service trays. What a shame. And, our room wasn’t touched or made up until the late afternoon for 2 days; not very appealing for siesta time.

Spa

1. The check-in person was excellent; definitely meeting the expectations of a luxury spa.
2. The massages were excellent.
3. The dressing area in the Ladies’ Lounge was very nice.
4. The steam room was in need of tile freshening and more steam in general.
5. The disposable combs were really for infants’ hair; not even usable.
6. The blow dryers were adequate; important.

Restaurants

1. The renowned Staab House served a superb dinner for our groups private dinner. Service, wine, and food were all Five Star.

2. The casual restaurant seemed to be in disarray the late morning I went for a cappuccino. Both the hostess and the server seemed flustered. The outdoor setting was beautiful and the red and white seat cushions added a nice zip.

I would go back to Las Posadas, and I’d like to given my personal history there, but I would absolutely ask some pointed questions about service. My hope is that these kinks are ironed out soon.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Ba-Dah- Beads! Terrific Turquoise

 

Don’t you love turquoise? I’m gaga about turquoise everything; the study in our house is even painted turquoise. It’s just a stone, accessory,and a  color that I never get tired of. I started collecting turquoise jewelry on family road trips through New Mexico and Colorado during my childhood and I’ve never stopped.  But, I’ve gotten in to creating my own turquoise jewelry lately.

Bead Stores

I could spend too-many-to-count consecutive days in a bead store, gazing at the beads and colors while imaging designs for necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The bead stores tend to have really great, low prices on both natural turquoise and synthetic turquoise. By that I mean a range of about $15.00 for a string of smallish beads to $200.00 for beads the size of eggs.

I went to Gloriana’s Fine Crafts, (55 West Marcy Street) the established decades old bead store near the plaza, during this trip to Santa Fe.

Create Your Own Necklace

  1. Here is what you do:
  2. Ask about the types of turquoise beads at the store and to see all of them.
  3. Choose what you fall in love with; then check out the price.
  4. Check out any pendants and other interesting beads
  5. Look at filler beads in silver or a gold color to put in between your turquoise beads unless you want a more rustic look
  6. Select a clasp
  7. Set up the entire necklace on a flat surface to see it
  8. Measure exactly how low you want the necklace to fall
  9. Ask about the price for the store to string the necklace for you. $20.00 -$30.00 is reasonable.
Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Summer Days in SoHo

 

I went to New York to visit my summer-interning daughter last week in mid-July. Since she and droves of summer interns live downtown, my sister-in-law from Dallas and I chose the Trump Soho. It was pretty close to her at the NYU dorms, and the rate was decent- below $400.00. **This is New York currency, which is two-three-four times as much as something normally priced. Take a deep breath and move on.

The Trump Soho is hip-fancy, clean, safe, and it has a great fitness center that offers free apples and water bottles. On the corner of Spring and Varick streets, cabs and Uber cars are easy to come by. I was annoyed to have to pay $14.95 per 24 hours for WiFi, but this is New York. If you book directly with the Trump Soho you get free WiFi.  Live and learn.

Thursday Afternoon and Night

Thursday night we went to a big Moms-in-New York-Visiting-Their-Interns party at Birreria, the rooftop bar and restaurant on top of Eataly, the biggest compendium of Italian food, coffees, and kitchen stuff I had ever seen. The view was wonderful on a breezy, clear night. The food and wine were adequate. The interns smiled with their young  skin and perfect teeth, but they still looked tired. A couple of them slumped back to the office.

Friday

On Friday my daughter was at work at a European Leather Goods brand/firm that Shall Not Be Named (Think Devil Wears Prada all of the way)- my sister-in-law and I went back to our roots- Madison Avenue uptown for boutique shopping. My sister in law swooped up a couple of  50% off cashmere capes Manrico Cashmere at 922 Madison.I scored a couple of dresses and some shooties (booties with peep toes) for 40% off of the sale price at Rebecca Taylor at 980 Madison and 8th street.

We celebrated our success with lunch at the Mark in the similarly named hotel on 77th street; sparkling rosé and all. My intern couldn’t make it; she was held a Friday hostage to stiletto-stomping magazine assistant-editors and an archaic French (oopsie!) cataloguing system for samples. She came uptown to meet us, but then we went back downtown. She and I went to Le Pain Cotidienne near her dorm for coffee and something chocolate. Dinner reservations were for 9:00 pm.

I walked back to the hotel through SoHo. The evening light was perfect for staring at stuff that I hadn’t seen yet and for photos.  I especially loved the Vesuvio Park with its raquet ball courts and its small swimming pool filled with horse-playing kids.  And there was a healthy pink rose garden too.  A couple sat on a bench flirting, and an elderly lady sat with her black labrador retriever on the other bench. This was a break in the action and a place of peace for these New Yorkers. I wondered what the rest of the night held for them.

Friday night we went to dinner at Nobu 57 at 40 West 57th street.; my sister in law is a sushi-ologist. She knows all about the sushi universe so I just let her order. The cocktails were out of this world- mine was a spicy margarita heavy on the tequila- thank you very much, or mil gracias. The other two got Vodka-somethings that they liked.  The sushi, which involved a major variety of flat slices of fish to the familiar sushi rolls was outstanding.  Should have been; Nobu is not shy about charging for it.

Next was the SoHo Grand bar.  Wow was that fun! A DJ mixed R and B for the middle-aged, but there was still a young vibe appealing to Interns. We had a vodka cocktail and people watched. A couple in their early 80’s sat next to us drinking, having desert, and debating. I want to be Them someday.

Saturday

On Saturday I got up with the sun, got some coffee across the street at Starbuck’s, and then went on a short, but instructive SoHo run. I love going for a jog while I’m traveling. I get to know where I am, and I get a much better feel for the place. I ran uptown on Spring Street  until the Bouwery, then I turned left to get to Prince Street. The Elizabeth Green Park had some arresting, interesting statuary behind its chain link fence. A bright yellow bus painted a la Keith Haring made the dirty street happy. I headed straight back down Prince to the hotel.

Great Things About SoHo
  • The trees evenly distributed on the sidewalks
  • The old buildings with fire escapes zig zagging down their walls
  • The variety of brick and painted buildings
  • Bakeries
  • Italian Restaurants with outdoor seating
  • French restaurants with outdoor seating
  • One of a kind stores and boutiques
  • Shop keepers leaning outside the front door of the one of a kind stores and boutiques
Challenging Things About SoHo
  • It’s small
  • Street and sidewalk grime and filth
  • A few imbalanced peeps meandering the sidewalks
  • Every shop a major retail brand store

What was SoHo like before it became an outdoor, urban mall of brand-name stores? Each street has them stacked door to door- Rag and Bone to Phillip Lim to Georgetown Cupcake to Ivanka on Mercer Street. And Patagonia to Room and Board on Wooster Street. People must have lived there before jeans and leather did. Where did they go?

That day we lingered at lunch at the gorgeous and girly BG’s at Bergdorf’s (more fizzy rosé) so we didn’t get to the SoHo stores. Well, I walked in to Agent Provocateur and was profoundly disappointed with the wares. Not an exciting, lacy ensemble in the black-walled place. Harumph.

Saturday night was Theatre Night so I had to get a Starbuck’s oatmeal cookie and green tea lemonade before we set out for the Great White Way. We saw the divine Kinky Boots, which I could probably see ten times and never get tired of. It had everything: a great story, show stopping numbers, a superb ensemble, and incredible costumes. But don’t go if you’re not down with acceptance and overcoming Victorian sexual taboos. Or if you have pretty firm gender-specific clothing beliefs Kinky Boots is probably not your thing.

We ate dinner so unbelievably late at the chic DBistro a couple of blocks from the theatre and ghastly Times Square. (Why are there mosh pits of people in Times Square?  Who would want to go there?) The wait staff was nodding off in to their trays, but the food was excellent. My intern’s Plus One met us for dinner. They left us after dinner to meet up with their crowd. Must have been midnight! Who doesn’t want to be in Night Repair cream with a mouth guard on in a clean, turned down bed?  Well, not the Interns; they’d rather be standing around intern-thronged bars doing shots.

 Sunday

Sunday was departure day. I didn’t sleep much because I had too much tonic with my vodka and I stayed up reading too long. I was out of the hotel by 9:30, at La Guardia by 10:00 on a slow, Sunday morning. Aloha Soho.

Useful Links

Uber. Don’t leave home without this transportation App. Cabs are tough to come by in the late afternoon and UberX cars can be the same cost. Download it for free on to your smart phone, load a credit card onto it and you’re set.

SoHo Map. Soho Map.

More SoHo Hotels:  The SoHo GrandThe Mercer, The Thompson, The Crosby,

 

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Santa Fe Day 3- Nambe Lake

Nambe Lake Trail Photo Album The High Desert

Santa Fe is in the desert. Santa Fe is in the mountains. Santa Fe = High Desert. People have a tough time getting the geological zone—- High Desert. They hear desert and it all goes to Sahara-sand dunes and  the Arizona saguaro cactus. The High Desert is a grassy, mountainous terrain with some cactus varieties, conifer trees and wild flowers that is above 2,000 elevation. Santa Fe’s elevation is about 7,000 feet.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a high desert town that lies directly beneath the significant Sangre de Cristo mountains. The Santa Fe Ski area is roughly 16 miles from the Plaza, at the end of an ascending, winding road. Several hiking trails lie between town and the ski area.

We looked at our new 50 Hike in Northern New Mexico book by Kai Hushchke and we were in an alpine mood so we chose a ski basin trail, The Nambe Lake trail. It was labeled as strenuous. 4 hours. After the fact it was an ass-kicker and clocked in at 3 hours, 47 minutes.

Nambe Lake

We drove on Hyde Park Road to the Santa F Ski Basin to get to the trail head, marked as The Winsor Trail. There were plenty of people on the trails and most brought their well-behaved former rescue dogs. We started out on the Winsor Trail, but after several minutes we looked at our book’s trail map and realized that we were headed in the wrong direction. So, we headed back and re-oriented ourselves to take the Ravens Ridge Trail junction.

The Nambe Lake trail builds in to a steep vertical over 5.6 miles. The upward grade is constant after the Ravens Ridge Trail junction so were felt winded at our brisk pace. Both T and I believe in the quicker-pace -gets-you-there quicker-so-you-can-turn-around-and- head-back approach.  To the tail-gate.  There were a couple of switch backs, and then we hiked along a vigorous creek until we got to the small alpine lake. There were a few patches of sliding rocks, but nothing too hectic. The trail became a 40 degree incline; this was work. Upon sight of the lake the trail mercifully flattened out. Big breathe exhale.

Nambe Lake lies in a cradle of rocks at the foot of Deception Peak, elevation 12,280. It is only 1.5 miles from the ski area, but I’ve never seen it while skiing Santa Fe.

We perched on a large rock beside the lake to gulp water and nosh on Lara Bars. Hikers and dogs skirted the lake and a few dogs swam in it. Being near the top of a mountain at the high alpine level feels like being part of the blue, western sky. Everything below on the trail and in the wide vistas is part of “down there.”

Clouds started to float together, so we headed back down the trail. Always leave a high alpine area by 2 pm. The afternoon thunder showers move in predictably at 3 pm every day and they bring dangerous lightening with them. Going down was much easier, but . . . sigher . . .rougher on the knees and ankles. T and I usually discuss eating options on a return-hike and the conversation was all about hearty New Mexican food. Green chile. Green chile chicken enchiladas. Carne adovada. Chile rellenos. And cold Mexican beer.

We were out of our hiking boots and into our flip flops quicker than the afternoon’s lightening. We agreed on La Choza for dinner.

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Useful Links

Sangre de Cristo mountains

Santa Fe Ski Area

Nambe Lake Trail- Trails.com

La Choza- New Mexican Food Restaurant