French Island Life in Corsica

Cap Corse | Like Fresh Laundry

Lots of updates to share — we’re back from a trip to Corsica, Italy and Istanbul. One for the books. So first up, Corsica! I’d chanced upon images of Corsica a few times online. It had stunning beaches and the bluest water I have ever seen (so it seemed in the photos, anyway) and that’s all it really took for me to start wanting to plan a trip there. Badly.

So I convinced Chris we should go, although he didn’t need much convincing. Having now returned from the island, I can confirm the beaches are ridiculously blue and just as they appear in the pictures.

Erbalunga, Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

Some background — Corsica is an island off the coast of France, and a popular vacation spot for French families. But since we visited after “summer break” was over it was just us, locals, and a few French senior citizens, for the most part. Calm waters on all fronts. I’d describe Corsica as nonstop gorgeous beaches (that’s saying a lot but I don’t think it’s hyperbole here) and wild, unspoiled beauty.

Erbalunga, Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

Corsica is fiercely nationalistic and some Italians who visit frequently told us it has the reputation for opposing (okay, bombing) property on the island purchased by outsiders. And while the lore is probably overblown, it has contributed to preserving the natural beauty of the territory. The land is still relatively undeveloped and untouched by tourism. The whole place is cliffs after charming towns after cliffs.

The photos above were taken in Bastia, the northern tip of the island, right after we flew in and got settled at our hotel.

Cap Corse | Like Fresh Laundry

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Cap Corse | Like Fresh Laundry

More vistas and more vistas!

Island cows on Barcaggio Beach, Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

I was worried I had under packed but this was absolutely not the case in Corsica. The coast is one beach after another, so it was just swimsuits and cover ups the whole time. And on another note, check out these island cows. They just chill on the beach because why not?

Barn in Saint-Florent, Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

Bonifacio, Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

Directly above is Bonifacio, a town perched on top of sheer cliffs.

Floating, Petit Sperone beach in Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

And here is Plage du Petit Speron, one of the most celebrated beaches on the island, and one of our favorites, too. You walk for about 10 minutes, head down the steps cut into the cliffs and it opens up to a small, paradise-like cove.

Palombaggia Beach, Corsica | Like Fresh Laundry

Another favorite beach, and one of our fondest memories from the entire stay, was Palombaggia. It’s a spot everyone raves about so we were worried it would be crowded, but actually the opposite was the case! We arrived just before sunset and had the place to ourselves. The water was so still and stayed relatively shallow a ways out so we alternated between wading into the distance and taking tons of pictures when the sky turned to spectacular cotton candy colors.

Brand-New Getaway: The Gates Hotel, Key West

Key West The Gates Hotel lobby 2

Considering how much I love fresh seafood and coladas and anything tropical, it’s kind of surprising I’d never made my way to Key West before recently. Somehow the Florida Keys had almost completely escaped our radar (save for the Key Largo shout out in the Beach Boys song) until the brand-new The Gates Hotel invited us to come check it out.

To get there, we flew into Miami and drove down, down, down the beautiful scenic highway connecting the archipelago. The very last island is Key West. Honestly, the Beach Boys were on to something. Between the beach, cocktails by the pool, jet skiing, snorkeling, ocean views, wild roosters (camera-shy but everywhere!) and scrumptious Cuban food, Key West is right up there with the Caribbean in terms of quintessential vacation spots. And really, that makes a lot of sense considering Key West is even closer to Cuba than it is to Miami.

As a backdrop to the days’ activities, The Gates was a great home base. On the one hand, the atmosphere is part party — the cabana bar “Rum Row” sits next to the pool and on some nights, you’ll hear live entertainment while taking a dip. On the other hand, the hotel’s airy, organic vibe makes it super relaxing, too.

Here are a few shots from the hotel and some highlights from the rest of the trip, plus a mini “best of Key West” guide below:

Key West The Gates Hotel pool

Key West The Gates Hotel bed

Key West Danger cruise

The Gates Hotel artwork by Jorge de la Torriente of De La Gallery

Key West bikes

Key West The Gates Hotel succulents

Key West snorkeling

The Gates Hotel artwork by Jorge de la Torriente of De La Gallery

Key West sailboats

Key West home entrance

Key West sailboat sunset

Should you find yourself in the area, here were our most noteworthy Key West restos and happenings:

  • Hogfish Bar & Grill: Laid-back, Tikki-type setting that serves the fresh, lightly fried hogfish tacos of your dreams. The key lime pie is also delish.
  • Danger Charters: Fantastic boating, kayaking and snorkeling and not actually dangerous, just the way I like it. A more mom-and-pop option with a young, hip but knowledgeable crew who we have to thank for our barracuda, eel and rare bird and crab sightings.
  • Frita’s Cuban Burgers: A little gem right off the touristy Duval Street with customizable arepas and fresh fruit slushees. We sampled the mango. The arepas are made of corn, so good for any gluten-free friends.
  • Cayo Mexican Cantina: Food truck with the freshest seafood (the shrimp was so yummy!) and ample portions.
  • Grinnell Street: The cutest tree-lined street with the works, as far as residential neighborhoods go — impressive old homes with white picket fences and lush foliage. The only (understandable) drawback is sharing the street with train tours.
  • El Siboney Restaurant: Generous portions of yummy Cuban food, recommended by locals! The setting is unpretentious and family-style. It was busy when we went but we were still seated within 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Fury Jet Ski Tour: Cruising out on the open sea all the way until you can spot Cuba…this was already a blast but admittedly even better because a fellow rider was a bad mamma jamma older grandmother who was such a speed demon she rode first behind the instructor.

**This post is sponsored by The Gates Hotel. Thanks for supporting our supporters.**

Amsterdam Tour in 6 Photos

Amsterdam houses

I’m finally getting around to posting photos from our trip back in November! This was among my favorite shots. Amsterdam does black houses so well. It makes the city look very chic.

Amsterdam canal

You can’t see from the photo, but the cars are sitting right up against the canal. A lot of times there wasn’t even a railing separating the two. Walking by, I freaked myself out picturing what it would be like to parallel park along one of those streets.

Amsterdam canal

Canal side dining.

Broek In Waterland sheep

We rented a scooter and rode down to Broek In Waterland, just north of Amsterdam. It’s like a little wonderland full of water (obviously), livestock, and luxurious cottages!

The scooter made the experience more memorable, although way more cold. But we’re softies since Northern California weather is like this.

Broek In Waterland

For anyone who lives in the Bay Area, Broek In Waterland was kind of like the Marin of the Netherlands — clean, upscale and exceptionally pretty.

Broek In Waterland sheep

Animals everywhere! They were cleverly contained by the waterways. Although the cows were not, and they hogged the road earlier.

Not pictured in this round up: great food, coffee, beer and shopping. A favorite boutique was Sukha. It has a cozy, natural vibe, plus a treehouse when you first walk in.

Dreamy Bavarian Countryside

Bavarian countryside

After leaving Vienna and spending a few days in Munich, we drove west through Bavaria. It was complete sensory overload for me. We saw dogs and horses playing together in a field of flowers. And women in dirndls! I kind of kept it together at first and then this girl rode by on a PONY and I freaked out. It’s the most storybook setting I’ve seen. Of course I ‘grammed the whole thing.

Bavaria horses

Horses greeting us. Hello.

girl riding a pony Bavaria

 Said girl trotting by on a pony.

Bavaria view from above

The view from above, including the childhood home of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Neuschwanstein Castle

When Ludwig grew up, he had this castle built. It’s Disney’s inspiration for the Magic Kingdom.

Neuschwanstein castle towers

We hiked up to the top!

Neuschwanstein castle Bavaria

 Neuschwanstein Castle overlooking the city.

Black Forest

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 Joie Kamari JacketClare Vivier Messenger Bag, Line sweater (similar), Helmut Lang Asymmetrical Wrap SkirtRay-Ban Clubmaster sunglassesJoie Torres Sandals

Before I left for vacation, I knew I needed a new pair of sandals. My one criteria — I wanted them to feel Grecian. Isn’t that all you need in a perfect summer sandal?? Never mind that my trip is to Germany.

Anyway, I found them. And although they take about 5 minutes to put on (to Chris’s dismay every time I say I’m ready to head out and just need to put my shoes on), it’s totally worth it. They’re lace-up and delicate and wrap around the ankles. That totally fits the bill in my book!

Me and Chris and my sandals have been very happy together wandering through Bavaria and the Black Forest. (More pics to come — it’s unreal here.)

Footwear-wise, there were many other worthy competitors, too. I’m going to try not to buy any more but I won’t make myself any promises. They’re in the “shop the post” section below.

Vienna Layers

D.Ra sweater vertical

Smiling horizontal

Vienna D.Ra vertical

Vienna

D.Ra sweater, Gap boyfriend jeans, Loeffler Randall sandals, Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglassesClare Vivier Messenger Bag

I only brought one bag with me to Europe but it has most definitely been the right choice. If I were to do a “what’s in my bag” post it would be the the purse equivalent of a clown car. Yesterday I packed my wallet, sunglasses, a sweater, long-sleeve tee for Chris, dried kiwi snacks (mmm, can’t forget those), cell, charger and umbrella. And you know what? We used them all!

Packing light hasn’t been an option. So far when we’ve left the hotel, we haven’t come back until night. Tired but happy.

Tomorrow, on the other hand, I’m looking forward to just sleeping in for awhile. Of course I always want to soak up as much I can on vacations, but there’s also no substitute for plain R&R. Hope your Memorial Day travels (or staycations) treated you well.

Summer Palace

Clover Canyon Painted Metal Dress | Like Fresh Laundry

Clover Canyon Painted Metal Dress detail

Clover Canyon Painted Metal Dress 2

Joie Torres Sandals

Schloss Schoenbrunn Palace

Clover Canyon Painted Metal Dress, Joie Torres SandalsRay-Ban Clubmaster sunglassesClare Vivier Messenger Bag

This dress has saved me so far in Vienna! I brought way too many warm clothes and not enough for 80-something degree weather. I’ll be putting it to good use while I’m here.

These shots were taken in front of the Schloss Schoenbrunn (Summer Palace), one of the must-see attractions. The gardens were incredible but I’ll admit one of my personal highlights was the apple strudel (apfelstrudel) demonstration, which happens every hour on the hour. So touristy but SO yummy! Time will tell whether I attempt to re-create the magic at home, but either way I came home with the recipe (psst, right this way).

More photos of the city to come, but in the meantime have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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Road Trip Diaries (Part 2)

grand canyon

After a glorious stay at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, we were back on the road. First up, the crown glory of the trip — the Grand Canyon. I visited years ago with family and it was beyond worth another visit. Completely as breathtaking as I remember. 1 grand canyon krystal heather

Shenanigans.

2 arrived at the grand canyon

 We got a little loopy. I blame the elevation.

3 grand canyon silhouette landscape sunset

We made our way over to the sunset at Kipling Point, after enjoying a few drinks at El Tovar.

After the Grand Canyon, we were off to Vegas. We spent a whopping total of 12 hours there, which was kind of perfect. And after a few hours of gambling, against all odds (literally), I only lost $30 bucks. We came, we consumed, we survived. Vegas success, I’d say.

And trip success as well. Lots more pics from Krystal, Heather and Alicia.

Photos by Krystal and me

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Road Trip Diaries (Part 1)

madonna inn spring fever room

Rooooad trip!! Last week I hit the pavement alongside my girls Krystal, Heather and Alicia. It felt amazing to wander from city to city, spend hours catching up with great company and just enjoy the ride.

Stop 1 on the trip was the Madonna Inn. Picture an adult dollhouse where every room has a theme. Freaky and magical! Visiting was kind of a dream of Heather’s, and it was as kitschy and glorious as we had hoped. Above is a taste of the Spring Flowers room (not pictured: floral sinks). Oh, and Krystal captured some great shots of the pink-and-stained-glass EXPLOSION that is their lobby.

After a few glasses of wine and a solid night of sleep in the floral palace (in that order), we packed it up and set back out. Next stop: the Grand Canyon. Here are a few pics from back on the road.

Everlane white silk shirt

Sporting my new favorite silk shirt thanks to Everlane.

road trip landscape

The view for miles.

road trip

My partners in crime.

road trip

Photos by Krystal and me

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Bali: Our Most Memorable Moments

ayana-resort-jimbaran-bali

Our honeymoon officially began when we arrived late-night at the Ayana resort in Jimbaran. They greeted us with leis and a bouquet. We weren’t ready for the paradise-like scenery.

ocean beach jimbaran bali

Chris at Ocean Beach, an insanely peaceful infinity pool perched on top of a cliff.

gunung kawi bali

Gunung Kawi felt like something straight out of Indiana Jones.

ku de ta bali

His and hers drinks at beachside club Ku De Ta.

tanah lot bali

We could walk right up to the Tanah Lot temple at low tide.

ayana resort bali jimbaran

The view from the hotel. After three days in Jimbaran, we spent the next four in Ubud.

banana fritters bali

Delish — one of our many orders of banana fritters.

monkey forest bali

Little guy from the Sacred Monkey Forest. Cute, right? Yeah. But don’t mess with him. If a monkey wants to fight you, you’re toast. The entire forest has his back. Plus they’re sacred.

downtown ubud bali

Charming alley in downtown Ubud.

lake bratan floating temple

Lake Bratan — just as beautiful as the guidebooks made it look.

pandawas villas ubud bali

Overlooking a rice paddy — our view every day during breakfast.