The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is March 15th-April 16th this year. The blossoms are at their peak this week and absolutely beautiful. The Blossom Kite Festival is this Saturday, April 1st. I went yesterday with my Mom and it was stunning.
My trip to LA over President’s Day weekend was a ton of fun. The only downside: the weather! The weekend we were there, LA had a “monster storm” and it rained like crazy two out of the five days we were visiting. Figures. They’ve had a drought for four years but the weekend we visit, it’s a deluge.
We spent a couple days in Pasadena with my Aunt and Uncle then moved onto LA. While in Pasadena, we ate at wonderful restaurants and visited the Norton Simon Museum. The museum was incredible and had a mix of old Masters and modern art. I found a new artist that I like: Sam Francis. I’d never heard of him but I LOVED the “Basel Mural 2”. I wish I could recreate it.
On Saturday, we met up with more family but on the Angotti side. We spent the day with them at the LA Natural History Museum and then checked out their neighborhood in Hollywood. It was cute! California has an interesting mix of housing styles and I enjoyed gawking. Always a real estate agent.
We stayed at Santa Monica pier at the Shore Hotel for the rest of our visit. A few of my DC friends have absconded to LA and live in Venice Beach. Santa Monica was the perfect location between Hollywood and Venice. Saturday and Sunday we spent hanging out in Santa Monica and Venice. Saturday evening we ate at Michael’s (which was seriously amazing) and Sunday we had brunch at Scopa. Venice was adorable and I loved all the shops on Abbot Kinney Rd.
Although we managed to pack a lot of visiting and wandering while we were there, there’s still neighborhoods that I want to explore. Next visit!
I’m off to LA tomorrow and I’m looking forward to sunshine and nice temperatures. At least 2 of the 4 days will be nice. Even though LA has been having a drought for the last 4 years, apparently this year they’re getting record rainfall. While I’m pumped for LA, I’ve been feeling a lot of *#%^ due to the weather forecast. Le sigh.
I’m spending a couple days in Pasadena and then a couple of days in LA proper. More on my adventures next week. Have a happy President’s Day weekend!
Marbella was everything I imagined: picturesque, sunny, and unbelievably fun. Spain has always been a special place for me and after an extended hiatus, I was ecstatic to be back.
My husband and I arrived a day earlier than the rest of the crew and spent the night at fancy hotel called the Puente Romano. It was uber luxurious and the people watching was fantastic. Everyone was super glam, decked out in the latest fashions and I could immediately see why Marbella is considered a playground for pretty people. We had a seaside lunch, drank a bottle of rosé, got massages and relaxed. Our flight to Spain was a total shit show (#deltasucks) and we needed pampering.
That evening, we went to Casco Antiguo or Old Town Marbella for dinner. It was charming. We wandered down cobblestone streets, poked around in a few shops and then had dinner at Restaurante Marbella Patio. It was the first of many fine meals.
The next day, we were off to the house my friend rented. It was 15 minutes east of Puente Romano in an area called Marbesa. It’s a neighborhood full of grand houses and twisty streets. The beach was a five minute walk from the house and it was gorgeous.
There were eight of us for most of the week and it was an international group. A couple of people were from London, there were a few Americans, and one is currently living in Toronto. The house was big, the beds were comfy and the pool was dynamite but the house had a few problems. The hot water heater broke on Sunday and the rest of the week there was no hot water. The wifi was intermittent and nobody could figure out how to work the TV’s because the instructions were in Russian. It wasn’t ideal but it certainly didn’t ruin our fun.
On Monday, we went to Cómpeta for the Noche del Vino. This is an annual event that pays tribute to the town’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de Asuncion. Traditionally, it’s supposed to be a day of celebration before the harvest begins. It’s an hour and a half away from Marbella in the mountains. Our group was on Spanish time the entire trip: stay up to at least 2-3am every night, get up by 11am, start moving by 1-2pm. By the time we arrived, we had missed the traditional events like the grape stomping. Instead, we got DJ’s and loads of drunk people singing and dancing. It was hilarious and definitely not what we were expecting. After side stepping the drunken masses, we spent the remaining time exploring the tiny town.
The rest of our visit was spent relaxing in and around Marbesa and Marbella. Part of the group was ambitious and took day trips to Granada and Sevilla. For us, that was too much time in the car and not enough time relaxing. We rented loungers under umbrellas and spent afternoons on the beach. We ate at the local chiringuito, a casual, beach side restaurant. We had an epic night out till 6am. We spent an afternoon at Nikki Beach, drinking, dancing and watching a bunch of douche bags fellows spray a case of Tattinger in the pool. We spent an evening in Puerto Banús and oogled the yachts. We drank tons of Spanish wine, ate loads of jamón and laughed a lot. It was an ideal vacation.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” St. Augustine
After a crazy week (my new listing had 9 offers. 9!), I’m off to Marbella, Spain. My friend that lives in London has rented a house so she can experience a “typical British holiday”. It’s a short walk to the beach and the house has a pool (see below). It looks amazing. When she initially told me her plans, I immediately invited myself. I mean..Marbella! Come on! How can you miss that sort of adventure? Details when I return.
Two weekends ago, my husband and I went back to London. One of our friends recently took a job there and is living the expat life in Shoreditch. While I enjoyed our first experience in London last year, this visit was a hundred times more fun. For us, our best adventures are when we pretend we’re locals. It helped that our friend was the consummate hostess and guided us to activities she knew we’d love.
My favorite part of this trip was Saturday. We strolled through several neighborhoods and went to two different markets. Our first stop was Netil Market in South Hackney. This is a small market but it had boa buns (huge London trend at the moment) which my husband immediately devoured.
Next, we wandered down to Broadway Market. It’s much larger than Netil Market and has loads of vendors. There were bakery’s, cheese shops, jamón ibérico (yum!), flower shops, and clothing stands. It was amazing! I wanted to buy a million things but restrained myself. Barely.
East London is also has amazing street art. It’s everywhere and it’s really good. This was my favorite piece near Broadway Market.
Next we strolled down the canal. We saw a bunch of house boats, more street art/graffiti and lots of ducks. While it was a little overcast and rainy, it was “warm” by London standards. (Around 55 and people were in shorts. Meanwhile, I had on a hat and scarf. Brr!). After about thirty minutes, we ended up in Islington and stopped at a pub for some chips. (first photo).
Then we went back to my friend’s flat, had cheese, jamón ibérico, and a glass of wine before we got ready for cocktails at Nightjar. London life sure is fun!
After finally getting back to the US, my husband and I were stuck in Miami for four days. I know..my life is full of hardship. While DC was being buried in snow, I was strolling around Miami enjoying more sand and sun.
I used the Hotel Tonight app to book us at The Standard. I loved the pool and the spa but the room was tiny and loud. Most of the time, you’re in Miami for sun and fun so tiny and loud doesn’t matter. Since we were stuck, it didn’t go over as well. Would I stay there again? Yes. Would my husband? Absolutely not.
The last day we were in Miami, it was 75 and sunny and we spent the day at The Standard pool. When we arrived, it was 50. 50 equals freezing in Miami and it definitely wasn’t beach or pool weather. On Monday, we spent the day exploring Miami’s Design District. We saw a lot of great street art and explored the Design District’s high end clothing and furniture shops.
Miami’s food scene continues to evolve and we had a lot of good meals. We had kick ass Cuban food at Las Olas. It’s a dive but there’s always a line of locals. The pulled pork and plantains were amazing and it was my favorite meal of our visit. We also ate at the Market at Edition,Milos, Sardinia Enoteca, Salumeria 104, and Yardbird. Not one of these meals was bad and I highly recommend any of these places.
Overall, Miami wasn’t a bad place to get stuck for a couple of days. However, I was happy to get back to DC. Snow aside, it’s always nice to come home.
Last week, my husband and I spent a few days in Harbour Island, Bahamas. It’s absolutely stunning. What we didn’t anticipate was the impact of #snowzilla on the weather. While we were far, far away, the #snowzilla weather system wreaked havoc on the entire east coast. Instead of 75 and sunny, we got 68, windy and rainy. It was a bummer. We enjoyed a few mornings at the beach (in every layer we had in our suitcase) but it wasn’t exactly as I envisioned. I know..pity party for me, right? Boo hoooooo.
While the weather was disappointing, overall we had a ball. Harbour Island is picturesque. It’s tiny island off the coast of Eleuthera. The only way to reach it is by water taxi. Everyone drives golf carts and it takes about 15 minutes to get from one side of the island to the other. It’s full of colorful homes and pink sand beaches. The food is amazing. Every meal we had was delicious and we enjoyed many cocktails.
By the end of our trip, I was stir crazy. Unless the weather is good, there’s not a ton to do. We were there 3 full days and I was ready to get off the island. My take away: Harbour Island is the perfect weekend get away but I don’t know if I could spend a week there.
The weather was also freaking me out. Our flight back to DC was cancelled and suddenly, it looked like we were going to be stuck in Harbour Island for longer than anticipated. No bueno. After a fight with our airline, I arranged for us to get back to Miami. More on that tomorrow!
Where to Stay: The Dunmore, Rock House We stayed at the Rock House. We stayed in the Rock House, Negril many years ago and loved it. Rock House, Harbor Island was also fantastic. It’s not beach front which I didn’t realize. (dur) If you want beach front, stay at The Dunmore. It’s gorgeous too!
Last weekend, my husband and I went to Charleston, SC to visit my brother. He lives at Folly Beach which is a little beach town about 20 minutes outside of downtown Charleston. I love weekends in CHS because it’s the best of what I enjoy the most: beach and city.
Where we ate
Xiao boa biscuit. Asian soul food. It was our second visit and it didn’t disappoint.
The Grocery Farm to table with an emphasis on house made charcuterie and pickled vegetables. Our first visit and we enjoyed it immensely.
Where we drank
The Belmont A cocktail bar/lounge that’s got an old world feel.
Besides eating and drinking in downtown CHS, we spent quality time in Folly. We walked on the beach everyday. We took a golf cart ride to the washout to check out the waves (my brother and his girlfriend are both surfers). We attended Follypalooza on Saturday which was highly entertaining.
Per usual, our visit to Folly and CHS was a blast. I can’t wait to return. Now back to reality.
Our weekend in Philly was fantastic. On Friday afternoon, we took the train up. It was lovely. I’m a big fan of not driving especially since I was able to enjoy double vodka and soda on the train. It’d been one of those days and that’s the joy in taking the train: you can drink! (priorities, people. priorities) The BYOB restaurant we went to on Friday night, Kanella, was excellent too.
My favorite part of the trip is what we did on Saturday and for me, this is a perfect day in Philly. We started the day by walking to La Columbe coffee, the best coffee shop in Philly. Then we went to Reading Terminal and went nuts. I was with a group of friends that were also attending the wedding and they had never been to Reading Terminal. The excitement level was insane. Half made a beeline for the Dinic’s counter for their famous pork sandwiches. I wanted a classic breakfast and headed to the Dutch Eating Place, an Amish breakfast counter. The key is to get it to go and then eat at one of the communal tables in the market. Otherwise you’ll wait forever for a seat at the counter. It was delicious.
Once we conquered Reading Terminal, we went on a walking tour of Philly. My cousins took us on a spin through Macy’s to show us the Spring flower show. It was so pretty and the Macy’s building is majestic. Then we headed to Egan Day, an incredible jewelry store. I wanted multiple items but settled for a pair of earrings. Next we went to a funky eye glass shop called EYEsite. If you want original eyewear, this is the place to visit. I found a pair of frames that I loved but I just got new glasses. sigh. Our last stop was the high end shop Joan Shepp. This store is for the serious fashionistas. It had many designers that you don’t see everyday: Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten and Marni to name a few. After I wandered around Joan Shepp, I was done and ready for a nap.
This weekend I’m going to a wedding in Philly. We’re staying at the Sofitel in the City Center. I already know I’m making a pilgrimage to Reading Terminal Market. I’m also visiting with cousins and I can’t wait. They’re taking us to Kanella, their favorite BYOB restaurant, on Friday night. While part of me feels guilty for going out of town again, the other part of me is thrilled. It can’t be all work and no play or else I’m an unhappy girl.
I got back from London late monday night and I’m still exhausted. Jet lag is not fun. London and Manchester, on the other hand, were a ton of fun.
It was a quick trip. My husband and I spent 3 days in London and 1 day in Manchester. On our first day, we were exhausted. I never sleep on overnight flights and this one was no different. I arrived in London starving and sleepy but I was determined to push through. We checked into our hotel, the Arch in Marylebone. Our room was available within thirty minutes even though it was 9am which was lovely. The Arch is a wonderful, boutique hotel. It was close to a Tube station, Hyde Park was across the street and the bed was super comfy. I would definitely stay there again. Once we showered and ate breakfast, we decided to head to Borough Market, a huge food market in Southwark. Since I’m a food geek, this was heaven. We wandered the stalls, bought some tea and I lamented I wasn’t hungry (poor planning on my part!) My husband couldn’t resist a chorizo sandwich from the Brandisa stand. Afterwards, we walked along the Thames, checked out the Globe Theatre and went to the Tate Modern.
On Saturday, we headed to Notting Hill and it was charming. The homes were fabulous and I gawked like the tourist I am. We also went Portabello Market and poked around the antique stores. Afterwards, we stopped for lunch at Granger & Co. While lunch was fantastic, the wait was not and we were done. The weather turned chilly and the thought of walking anywhere else held no appeal. We hopped a taxi and went to the Wallace Collection, which is a national museum in a historic town house. It was unbelievable and I’m still thinking about the green flocked wallpaper in one of the rooms.
On Sunday, we took the train to Manchester for the main event of the trip: watching a Manchester United game at Old Trafford. My husband is an ardent Manchester United fan and going to a game in Manchester has been on his bucket list forever. He had a big birthday this year and I wanted to give him something unforgettable. So I did! Not only was the game a good one, Manchester United won 3-0 against Tottenham. If you follow English league, you know this was big stuff and he was thrilled. While we didn’t do much in Manchester, it was really cute and I enjoyed seeing another part of England.
Although I only mentioned our lunch stops, we also had fantastic dinners at Wild Honey, Trishna and Oshisama while in London. The food was excellent in all three.
Overall, London and Manchester was an experience I won’t forget. I can’t wait till we go back!
Jen Angotti is the creator of Concrete Jungle DC, a blog about real estate in DC, ideas on how to decorate and design your abode plus a variety of topics she loves: new restaurants and bars, DC happenings, food, and travel. Jen is a licensed realtor in DC and VA.
Rise Bakery, located at 2409 18th St, NW in Adams Morgan, is a gluten-free bakery. This is monumental news in my gluten free world. A couple of months ago, my husband popped by there and grabbed a few things: a bag of bagels, a loaf of bread, a banana nut muffin and a cinnamon roll. They were delicious and I was so exited. Good gluten free bread and pastries are hard to find. I had an appointment today in Adams […]