Jan 28, 2016

Endless sun

Though temperatures in NY have been a bit mild these past few days, I can't help but think back to the perfect 82 degree weather I experienced in Los Cabos recently. I'm not one to enjoy tanning or beach time per se, but I fell in love with the light and shadows this place offered. It was a truly dreamy escape from real life.

The perfect one-piece swimsuit (and more) // Celine Trotteur bag (in orange) // Easy go-to sandals // Nili Lotan dress/cover-up (similar) // Mykita 'Alice' sunglasses // Hermes silk scarf (beautiful secondhand options here)

Photographed at JW Marriott Los Cabos.

Jan 25, 2016

Barcelona with Journy

I was quite lucky to kick off my 2016 travels with a 72-hour jaunt in Barcelona. I had never been to Spain before and now after this little taste, I'm more than ready to explore more. I mean, how could I not want to spend more time in a place where I can get a glass of cava for 1.25 euro? And walk into any old shop off the street and have the best ham sandwich of my life (for 1.80 euro!)? Or find a coffee shop serving my favorite coffee producer's beans on kalita wave (and, you guessed it, charging way under typical prices for it)? I could talk your ear off about the seafood and the wine and the ham, but I'll let you feast on some photos instead.

First, though, let's talk about Journy, the service that brought me to Barcelona and gave me the recommendations and bookings I knew I could trust. Journy offers custom travel planning for modern travelers, sourcing recommendations from chefs, sommeliers, editors, in-the-know locals and other experts, while taking in account your interests and preferences. Though I love traveling, I barely have time to pack before a trip let alone do the proper research for it, and if I do have the time, I don't want to spend it knee-deep in research (ok, I'm lazy, all right?), so this kind of service is a godsend for me. If you're planning a trip and curious about the service, for a limited time, use code 'ALICEGAO' for 25% off. Oh, and don't miss the Journy stories page, where you can find a little Q+A with me and more featured recommendations from other Journyists.

Jan 18, 2016

The last drop

Yikes, it's been a while. I'm on a crazy back-to-back-to-back travel schedule right now and have neglected this blog a bit. I was thinking about adding a simple series on products I've loved and finished, particularly in the beauty/skincare realm. (Yes, this is completely inspired by the same series on Into the Gloss.) I've had to really tighten up my routine so that only the most necessary products come with me on my travels, since we all know this shit can take up precious luggage space. Below is one of my absolute musts.

So here we are; things finished #1 – First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser. I recently eked out the last drop of this day one in Barcelona and thought I was screwed for the rest of the trip (luckily I had some face wash samples that were able to tide me over). I've been using First Aid Beauty products for a while now and love how gentle they are. I don't have to be so careful not to get the product in my eyes, since it is so gentle. I also like that it's fragrance-free and can remove my makeup without leaving residue. It's also friendly on the wallet; I keep the 5oz in my home medicine cabinet and bring the 2oz for travels.

Jan 6, 2016

Checking in: Seoul

I think I sound like a broken record when I bemoan how my time in "x" city was too short, but I really felt that in Seoul. I went in with zero expectations (besides expecting to eat some damn good soondubu – which I did) but was quite blown away by the museums, food, design, how cheap everything was, and how modern everything felt.

I started my trip at the Grand Hyatt, which was located fairly centrally to many of the things I wanted to do. For instance, you can walk to the Leeum Museum from there, though the walk back is up a gnarly hill. The views are beautiful and the light in the restaurant is insane in the morning.

For the second half of my stay, I moved over to the Park Hyatt which is located in the Gangnam financial district of Seoul. There's something terribly luxurious about a bathroom that's bigger than your NYC studio. After checking in to a handful of hotels this year, I've come to realize I really do appreciate an unnecessarily large bathroom and shower that lets me spread out shamelessly. Though the location was a little less convenient, taxis were incredibly cheap (being stuck in traffic and going way across town for an hour would still only cost $17 USD or so) so it wasn't a problem.

(How beautiful is this staircase? I came across so many well-designed staircases during my short stay; no detail was spared!)

For me, it's fun to check out different neighborhoods so I don't mind the hassle of moving hotels mid-way through a stay, though it does cut into exploring time. There are still so many museums I want to visit and I didn't even scratch the surface with other visual attractions. I'm so looking forward to getting back there (especially as I've been completely ruined with Korean food and can't even think about having it in NY right now!).

*Lingered Upon received a press discount at the aforementioned Hyatt properties.