Vienna, Austria

When I found out that I was going to be heading to Vienna, Austria for the AIDS Life Ball, I have to admit I didn't know what to expect. For some reason Vienna was never really on my list of top cities to see, and the AIDS Life Ball was something I had heard of, but didn't know much about.

After exploring this amazing city, and attending what I can only describe as one of the most spectacular events, I can honestly say I've been blown away.

Vienna is hands down one of the most gorgeous cities I've ever seen. Every where you walk looks like you're about to approach a palace or botanical garden, and there's definitely a reason why it has been voted for countless years as one of the top 5 most livable cities in the world. 

AIDS Life Ball is Europe's largest charity event supporting people with HIV and AIDS, and is an incredible thing to witness first hand. The amount of things to look at, the overflowing energy of love, and the pure fun that you have makes this one of those event you'll remember forever. 

If Vienna isn't on your travel list that needs to change ASAP, and it's that much easier to get to now that Austrian Airlines offers direct flights from both LA and NYC. This airline is one of the best I've ver flown, and regardless if you are sitting in Business or Economy you're sure to have a pleasant and easy flight with great service.

Below you can find my photo journal of Vienna and a list of recommendations that includes places to see, where to stay, and where to eat.

Vienna you are a total 10 in my book! 

Additionally, I have to say a big thank you to Tom from the Vienna Tourism Board who made our time in Vienna amazing, Andreas from Austrian Airlines who made our travel perfection, Nikkie who expanded our minds, and Tiefe Kummernis who was the most epic Drag Queen tour guide ever! 


RECOMMENDATIONS

Where to stay:

I absolutely loved stay at 25 Hours Hotel in the Museum Quarter as we were perfectly located to see and do just about everything!

Things to see:

  1. Belvedere Castle + Gardens
  2. Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum)
  3. Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) 
  4. Hofburg (Imperial Palace)
  5. Naschmarkt and the surrounding area
  6. St. Stephen's Cathederal
  7. Ringstrasse Boulevard

Places to eat:

  1. ON Market - great asian dishes and located right in the Naschmarkt.
  2. Labstelle - delicious and very cool.
  3. Das Loft - amazing service and food, but the view is what really sets this superb restaurant apart from everything else.
  4. J. Hornig Cafe - Barbie the owner is amazing, and this place has some of the best coffee I've ever had!
  5. Vestibul - a total splurge, but a total must if you can get reservations. Opulant and it truly feels like you're going back in time!
  6. Veganista - a vegan or any icecream lovers dream. Innovative flavors, super cute, and beyond affordable. 

Horse heads like these signify that these buildings and areas were once stables.

Posted on June 14, 2017 .
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Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Cherry Blossom Season

Every year in April the blossoming of cherry blossoms, or sakura as they are known in Japanese, become a spectacle across the Northern Hemisphere. In New York, we have our own cherry blossom season at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and for the first time ever I went to witness their incredible bloom.

Hanami is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming cherry blossom, and was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court; however, centuries later this relaxing practice has become one that people from all walks of life enjoy.

In conjunction with Buddhist influence and Japanese culture, cherry blossoms are thought to represent the ephemeral nature of life, and embody the concept of mono no aware or "the pathos of things.". I've always found these gifts from nature to be dazzling, but after learning about their symbolism I feel even more connected to these pink wonders.

If you have the chance I highly recommend going to take part in hanami for yourself, and dozing off underneath these Japanese symbols for clouds.

 

 

Posted on April 24, 2017 .
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One & Only Hayman Island: My 'Treat-Yourself' Weekend

A truly one and only experience.

When I decided to come to Australia I had no set plans except that I was going to fly in and out of Sydney. Everything from there on out was up in the air.

After arriving in Sydney and narrowing down the few specifics of where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to see, I knew everything would just work out from there.

And for the record, it did.

As a child of nature, one thing I knew I had to do during my first trip to Australia was to go and swim at the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t know exactly where that was, how I was going to get there, and where I was going to stay, but after talking to a few friends and doing some research I found an incredible getaway that took care of all my questions.

One & Only Hayman Island Resort came up when asking one of my travel savvy friends where would be the best place to stay to visit the Great Barrier Reef. I had never heard of this gorgeous resort, but once I saw a few of pictures I knew I had to have a “treat-yourself” pre birthday weekend at this piece of paradise.

If I’m being honest, I very rarely treat myself to luxurious experiences because growing up my family struggled financially. Yes, I travel quite often, but I tend to do everything on a budget. However, as I head into my final year in my 20’s, I knew that this was something I had to do for myself, especially being that I was going to be able to fulfill one of my top bucket list items.

So I did.

A quick train ride from The Gold Coast to Brisbane, a flight from Brisbane to Hamilton Island, and BAM, I landed at the beginning of my One & Only experience. I knew that I had set something very special up for myself, but I had no idea how truly special One & Only would turn out to be.

As soon as I got off the plane I was greeted by one of the incredible staff members from One & Only Hayman Island Resort. Sarah helped collect my bags, and brought me to the yacht, yes yacht, that would take me the hour long ride from Hamilton Island to Hayman Island. I, along with the four couples aboard, was treated to champagne, snacks, and an interesting conversation with a younger couple from The Sunshine Coast celebrating their 4 year anniversary while riding this beautiful boat. 

As we approached the island, a team of One & Only staff members waved us in, and greeted each of us personally before being taken on a private tour of the truly incredible resort. 

Think the jungle meets island luxury, and that is where I found myself in awe.

After being escorted to my beyond gorgeous suite, I started my “treat-yourself” weekend with a delicious sashimi lunch at the resorts main pool, and then was off to a Swedish Deep-Tissue Massage that was insane. My masseuse, Dheeraj Shrestha from Nepal, and who has 10 years’ experience had the hands of an angel, and after being on a number of flights healed my achy body. I left feeling beyond relaxed, and decided to go for a sunset swim in one of the resorts salt watered pools.

A feeling of peace just kind of followed me from here on out while at One & Only Hayman Island.

My first day was concluded with a delicious dinner at the resorts Italian restaurant, Amici. A glass or two of Rose, lobster pasta, and the fish of the day left me feeling perfectly satisfied as I made my way back to my suite to quickly fall into one of the best sleeps I have ever had.

Waking up on day two to the sound of Cockatoos was truly magical. My alarm on my phone usually plays a gentle jungle bird symphony, so to wake up to the real life version was beyond special. 

Once I dragged myself out of bed, I had a beautiful breakfast at Pacific, and a casual paddle board session that left me reflecting on how truly grateful I was for what I’ve made my life to be. After watching giant Trevally Fish feed at the resort's Marina, I escaped to Blue Pearl Island by speedboat to snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef. 

I could try to explain how unbelievable this experience was, but words and pictures could never do justice to how magnificent seeing the Great Barrier Reef with your own two eyes truly is. It’s an experience of a lifetime, and I will forever forget the colors, patterns, and amazing creatures that roam around this natural wonder of the world.

A hike to the top of Whitsunday’s lookout point, and a session of meditation on the beach, left me feeling beyond grateful for the days exploration. 

As if things could get more eventful, I was treated to an indulging Chef’s Table experience that happens only once a week at the resort. This dinner, which I had the pleasure of experiencing with 13 other resort guests was a decadent immersion into fine dinning. This by far was one of my favorite activities during my stay at One & Only. I left this dinner having made new friends from around the world, and engaging my senses on multiple levels. 

The night concluded with some of us heading over to Aquazure for a night cap, which lead to some incredible conversation amongst this highly diverse group of people.

Before I knew it my third and final day had come. I wrapped up my stay with one final breakfast accompanied by two of the hotels amazing senior staff, who gave me some great insight into island living and things to do in Melbourne. An hour long ride back to Hamilton Island on the resort’s luxury yacht perfectly wrapped up one of the best weekends of my life, and just like that I was off to Melbourne.

I can honestly say that my final weekend of 28 was perfect, and that this was all because of One & Only Hayman Island.

I’ve always said it isn’t so much what you see, but who you meet along the way that makes travel so interesting, and my stay at One & Only solidified this thought for me. The resort sprinkled an indescribable magic with its welcoming and relaxing vibe that allowed me to interact with some truly inspiring and beautiful souls.

I met a gorgeous newlywed Indian couple, whose “small” wedding of 600 people in Bali sounded beyond incredible, and we made a promise to see each other again. I received an open invitation to dinner whenever I’m back in Sydney by a CEO and his stylish wife, who were beyond welcoming. I connected with a younger couple, who moved out of the city to a more rural part of Australia to breathe a little easier, and give their two adorable boys a better life. I met two of the most beautiful, friendly, and successful people I’ve ever met, who just happened to be this incredible couple. I got to dine, explore, and hike with a woman, who made my stay all the more amazing, and reminded me that I’ve got this weird sixth sense for understanding people.

Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better “treat-yourself” weekend, and I will forever remember all the adventures I went on, the people I met, and my overall stay at this piece of paradise.

28 you were truly great!

Posted on March 27, 2017 .
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My One Night Stand In London

When one of your best friends tells you she is getting married, you make sure you’re at that wedding, even if you have to miss your fight to Germany, and book an additional flight from London to Dusseldorf.

Let me explain...

I had booked a round-trip ticket to Germany almost a year in advance with my amazing friend Emily, a week later, one of my best friends, Irina, told me she was getting married the same day that I was supposed to land in Berlin.

As luck would have it, and because I believe that the universe is always listening, my layover happened to be in London, which is where she was getting married, just two hours before the actual ceremony was taking place.

Let’s just say getting ready for this adventure was kind of stressful. Add to the fact that I had a crying baby directly behind me on my international flight, and I wasn’t sure the universe was still on my side. However, I said to myself, “Stay positive, it’s going to work out,” and bam, all my doubts were put to rest, literally, as I was able to blackout-sleep the entire flight.

If you will it, the universe is always on your side!

After navigating the London Tube in a not-so-effortless way, I made it to my Airbnb with only an hour before the wedding ceremony was set to take place. I quickly showered, threw on my suit, and sped off to watch this amazing human get married.

…And just like that Irina was married. I had a mini 10-year reunion with my college besties, and I even got a few extra hours with the original King to my Artisan, Bianca.

London, you were a fantastic one-night stand, but I’m enchanted, so let’s get together soon for more than 24 hours. 

See you soon, Germany I’m coming for you!

Posted on October 4, 2016 .
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Fire Island Pines: The Magic of Summer

The boys, the beach, and the blue skies.

If you've never heard of Fire Island then you must get on it.

It's a magical island that requires a train, bus and ferry ride to get to from NYC, but it's beyond worth the trek. Yes, you just want to get there, but there's something exciting about being en route with all your fellow NYers looking to escape the summer heat, and find a slice of paradise just 2 hours away. 

The island itself has a few different spots for all walks of life to find what they're looking for, but if you're looking for a more LGBT type of getaway then Cherry Grove or The Pines are where you'll want to be.

To be honest I wasn't the biggest fan of Fire Island Pines as I had only been for the fourth of July the past three years, which is quite a lively and fun experience, but not the most relaxing time to be out on the island. However, after finding myself in The Pines this summer for two off holiday weekends, I truly understand why many men and women speak so fondly of this beach community. 

There are no roads, no cars, and everyone is in a bathing suit basically 24/7. It's a place where you can truly let your hair down, and just be authentically yourself without any judgements. It's a place where strangers become friends, love creeps up on you, and the stars put on a show all night.

Simply put, it's a slice of sandy heaven here on earth.

Posted on September 13, 2016 .
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