Always Impressed with Columbus’ Airport

airport

As I was sitting in LaGuardia airport waiting to catch my flight to Columbus, Ohio, I couldn’t help but realize how desperately in need it was of a renovation. Run-down interior, outdated facilities…it’s one of the worst airports I’ve visited in a long time. But the worst part? The lack of public power outlets! As I was desperately searching for a spot to charge my almost-dead iPhone, I felt sorry for my poor fellow travelers who had nowhere to charge their phones and tablets. The horror!

outletsThe frustration caused by my dead iPhone debacle made me realize how great my home city of Columbus’ airport really is. It’s night and day compared to New York’s outdated airport. What really stuck out in my mind was the vast availability of electrical outlets. According to their website, the airport offer more than 2,000 built in power outlets and USB ports. Each gate basically offers one per chair! And did I mentioned FREE wifi? Yes, free. It’s something that we take for granted these days, but Jeni'sconsidering that large airports like MIA still do not offer free access, it’s pretty great that CMH does.

The goodness doesn’t stop there. When you’re looking for a place to kill some time before a flight, there’s a Wolfgang Puck outpost with good food (and even better bloody marys!). A Jeni’s vending machine was also recently added, which may take the cake for the coolest vending machine of all time. Who doesn’t want ice cream on the go?

I’ve spent a lot of time in many, many airports, and this one always keeps its spot around the top of the list. Port Columbus International Airport, you have yet to disappoint.

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Checking in at Miami’s Viceroy Hotel

The entrance

The entrance

When I was called to Miami for work and heard we’d be staying at the Viceroy, I was super excited. It was my first time at this hotel, and I’d heard good things. Since I’m usually in Miami for pleasure over work, I often stay in South Beach. I was excited to see a different area of the city, and this Brickell location was the perfect place to do it.

I arrived in the late morning and was unexpectedly greeted by the Easter Island moai that line the entrance. Once inside, I fell in love with the modern lobby and it’s funky accessories. Abstract sculptures, ornate furniture and bright colors keep your attention. The chandeliers are to die for. I want one in my foyer.

I ventured up to my room after check-in. The modern, elegantly decorated room was exactly my style. Did the interior designer know I was coming? There was colorful artwork on the wall, tufted furniture and a beautiful lattice room divider. The marble bathrooms and an in-room espresso machine were a nice touch. (By the way, why can’t all hotel rooms have espresso machines?). The beautiful view of the Miami skyline (especially at night!) was not too shabby either.

Since I was in town for work, I was bummed that I didn’t have time to check out the pool or spa. I was told the spa was designed by Phillipe Stark, which would explain why it looked so amazing. The breakfast at 15th & Vine was tasty and satisfying, with pretty quick service.

Overall, I have no complaints about the Viceroy. This hotel attracted a sophisticated crowd of what looked like both business travelers and tourists, which I take as a good sign. I’ll be trying to make it back again soon, although this time for leisure!

The lobby

The lobby

My room

My room

viceroy pool

The rooftop Fifty Miami Ultra Lounge

Back to New York

Up on the 86th floor

As a former New Yorker, I’m always excited to get back to my old stomping ground. The energy, the action, the lights…I can’t get enough. I always feel at home in new york, even though I now live 500 miles away from Manhattan. When my husband was called to a business trip, I decided to tag along for a long weekend. When I met him on a Friday afternoon, we had a lot to do in the short weekend ahead of us.

The last time my husband was in New York was over 20 years ago, so I had to show him some of the tourist must-dos. The first thing on our agenda was a trip to the Empire State building. Even though I had been there many, many times before, the view always makes it worth going again.

View from the top

 

After checking out the view from the top, we headed downtown to my old neighborhood, the West Village. Seeing the old street brought back so many memories. Many of the stores and restaurants on the block had changed, but it still felt the same. Around the corner from my old place was the entrance to Washington Square Park. The arch remains one of my favorite New York landmarks.

my old block

washington square park

ottoAfter the park, we stopped into Otto, a pizza restaurant right around the corner from my old apartment. This Mario Batali – owned spot may be past it’s heyday (I once witnessed a Sex and the city episode being filmed here), but it’s still an old standby for a good glass of wine and pizza. I just love the lively atmosphere, and the train departures board is a cool touch. I started with a blood orange bellini, then ordered the pane frattau – a thin crust pizza topped with an egg. Yes, an egg! It was delish, and right on par with Manhattan’s other great pizza spots.

Otto's pane frattau

Otto’s pane frattau

We headed out just as the snow started to fall. Not wanting to walk around in the wintery cold, we ventured uptown for an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art. Check out my post on our trip to MOMA here. We finished out the weekend with some shopping in Soho, a trip to Central Park (so pretty in the Winter!), and a visit to Cafe Gitane with friends. It was a great weekend trip, and it’s always good to go back.

An afternoon at MOMA

I could spend a whole day in the Museum of Modern Art. When I stopped by on a recent trip to New York, I unfortunately was on a tight schedule. I arrived on a crowded Saturday afternoon. I was fairly certain that many were visiting for the same reason I was – to escape the blizzard outside. Since I only had about two hours to spare, I headed straight to the fourth and fifth floors. These floors house the cream of the crop in my opinion. From Picasso to Warhol to Kahlo, here are my ten MOMA must-sees.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon | Picasso

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon | Picasso

Water Lillies | Monet

Water Lillies | Monet

Flag | Jasper Johns

Flag | Jasper Johns

Gold Marilyn Monroe | Andy Warhol

Gold Marilyn Monroe | Andy Warhol

Three Musicians | Picasso

Three Musicians | Picasso

Starry Night | van Gogh

Starry Night | van Gogh

One: Number 31, 1950 | Jackson Pollock

One: Number 31, 1950 | Jackson Pollock

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow | Mondrian

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow | Mondrian

Fulang-Chang and I | Frida Kahlo

Fulang-Chang and I | Frida Kahlo

Girl with Ball | Lichtenstein

Girl with Ball | Lichtenstein

I’m in Love with Cafe Gitane

gitane1While in New York for the weekend, one of the things I was most looking forward to was a night out with my friends. When Saturday night rolled around, we had to pick a place for dinner. I left the decision making up to the NYC inhabitants who are familiar with the hottest places. They decided on Cafe Gitane, a small restaurant tucked away in the West Village. After a long walk from the subway, we arrived for dinner around 8  p.m. The nondescript exterior of the Jane hotel opened up to a charming part Moroccan, part Parisian cafe full of  paper lamps, tapestries and colorful tiles. We sat down in the cushy sofas and took in the scenery. The place had a good vibe, and while full of models and hipsters, it was surprisingly casual and not pretentious.

martini

watermelon mimosa

We started with some drinks; a melon mimosa for me and their Lillith cocktail for my friend. The fresh watermelon juice in the mimosa was super refreshing and so good. The mix of gin, lemon juice and champagne in the Lillith was smooth and tasty, and I’ve decided that I’ll be adding lemon juice to all my champagne going forward. After the avocado toast appetizer (a must-try!), I took my friend’s advice and ordered the signature dish, the Moroccan couscous. It was huge! Definitely big enough to feed two people. I was pleasantly surprised with the mix of pine nuts, potatoes and raisins. The rest of the table opted for the spicy meatballs in tomato sauce (complete with a boiled egg), the heart of palm salad and the steak frites – all of which looked delicious! The service may have been a little slow, but the affordability of the meal made up for it.

Cafe Gitane may be my new favorite place in New York. I’ve heard their brunch is amazing too, so I’ll be returning to check that out during my next visit.

brie

brie

couscous

couscous

Searching for Manhattan’s Best Pizza

You’ve probably heard of “forkgate” in the last few weeks, the stir created when New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio was spotted devouring a slice with a fork and knife. While it may be custom in many cultures to eat pizza with silverware, any New Yorker will tell you that slices should be eaten folded over with your hands. And thus, there lies the controversy.

Well all this talk of pizza in the news made me hungry. So while in New York, I decided to go on a little mission. I enlisted my husband (thankfully he loves pizza), and we went on a quest to find Manhattan’s tastiest pizza. Here’s where our journey took us.

Artichoke Basille'sArtichoke Basille’s

It was easy to decide where we’d first stop – Artichoke Basille’s. This East Village shop has always been a must-visit in my mind. You can’t go wrong with the namesake artichoke slice, and the crab pizza (yes, crab) is also amazing. Even better late night after a few beers at a local bar.

johnsJohn’s Pizzeria

Don’t be fooled by the nondescript interior and tattered booths of John’s Pizzeria. I’ve been to this Bleeker Street sit-down restaurant many times, and it has yet to disappoint. The coal oven is what makes this pizza so good, and my husband claimed that it had the perfect thin crust. It’s always busy so be prepared to wait, and they only take cash!

Two Boots

The third stop on our pizza tour was Two Boots. This place gets points in my book for unique ingredients and creative names for their pies like Mr. Pink, Bayou Beast and Cleopatra Jones. We stopped for a quick bite at the Grand Central location, but there are outlets all over the city. My favorite is the Larry Tate – a white pizza topped with spinach and tomatoes.

lombardis-pizza-new-york-ny-pepperoni-sausage-pizza-610x407Lombardi’s

Lombardi’s claims to be the oldest pizza place in New York. While that’s debatable, it is a fact that this place is a NYC institution. This is classic New York pizza. The best parts? The fresh mozzarella and the crispy crust. We ordered the pepperoni and sausage, and it was a meaty slice of heaven. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Lombardi’s, and while it may not top my list, it’s definitely delicious.

5 days. 4 pizza spots. Countless slices consumed. And our favorite? It was a tough decision, but Artichoke Basille’s was the winner in our minds. This was hard, but someone had to do it, right?

Tea Time!

Tea Time!One quintessential English experience that we simply had to have when in London was afternoon tea. I may not be the biggest tea fan, but when in Rome, right? (Or in this case, London).

After researching the best spots for afternoon tea, I complied a list of my top choices – the Thames Foyer at the Savoy, Palm Court at the Langham and the Goring. (Let’s be honest, the last one was picked mostly because it’s where Kate Middleton stayed the night before the royal wedding). They were all so fabulous. Cue the images of us enjoying our tea in facsinators and morning coats. Then I saw the price. 50 pounds per person was a little more than we wanted to spend on our first tea experience.

teaLuckily our hotel, the London Marriott Park Lane, had a wonderful tea service of its own. When we stumbled across a 2 for 1 promotion on a discount tea website, we booked it without hesitation. We arrived at 140 Park Lane Restaurant and were seated next to a window with a view overlooking a rain-soaked Hyde Park. Our server took our tea order; peppermint for me and earl gray for my husband. And then they brought out the goodies. Oh my. There were tea sandwiches, scones, pastries and more. It was heaven. I also discovered one of my new favorite things – clotted cream. It may sound unappealing, but a scone with clotted cream and jam may be one of the best things on earth. I was so obsessed. So much so that I ordered some off of Amazon when I got home. Seriously.

An hour later, content from our tea, finger sandwiches and desserts, we headed back outside into the rainy London afternoon.

pastries

tea

Tea Time!

Where I Stayed in Paris: Marriott Champs-Elysees

When our one year anniversary rolled around, my husband and I had little doubt where we wanted to spend it. There was no better place in my mind to celebrate than one of the most romantic cities in the world. But when the time came to choose a hotel, we were overwhelmed with options. Modern luxury hotel or small boutique location? What arrondissement would be best?

marriot2

Jay Z may talk about staying at “Le Meurice for like 6 days,” and while that wasn’t necessarily in our budget, we did have a fabulous time at the Marriott Champs-Elysees. We chose it after a recommendation from a friend, who actually saw Marriott Chairman Bill Marriott when there. Hey, if it’s good enough for him, it’ll work for me. You can see the Arch de Triumph once you step out of the hotel, and the numerous trains within walking distance make for a great central point to explore the city. The area is pretty touristy (obviously since it’s on the Champs-Elysses), but it wasn’t unbearable. The marble bathrooms (complete with l’occitane goodies!) were the epitome of luxury, and the staff’s complimentary anniversary bottle of champagne was a wonderful touch. Overall we had a wonderful stay, and I’d stay again during my next trip to Paris.

Marriott Lobby