Quick over night trip with the bestie to Philadelphia! I don't even recognize the city of Philadelphia anymore. It's come a LONG way from my days there at Temple University. I think I'll visit the city of brotherly love a bit more often.
- Late night dinner at La Base and a walk through the Colosseum area
- Colosseum Tour (Tip: To save money look for one of the tours that cost 27 euros. There will be plenty of vendors outside of the Colosseum that offer tours for much cheaper than the 100 euro official tour. Note, it only cost 25 euros to get inside.
- Ice Bar Rome - Very good drinks and a literally cool place for a brief hangout. Take one of the city promo maps and you'll get 2-for-1 drinks.
- Hop on hop off tour - A great way to see the city and many of it's main attractions. I always prefer to travel above ground so I can get a feel for how the city moves. I like to see where I'm going and grasp the layout.
- Trevi fountain - Hopped off the tour bus and visited Trevi. What a BEAUTY! It's usually packed and hard to grab a solo picture, lots of street vendors and police blowing whistles (you're not supposed to sit on or put your hands into the fountain)
- Spanish Steps - Seems to be a cool hangout spot for tourists and locals. It sits in the middle of one of the city's high-end shopping areas. ANY AND EVERY designer you can think of has a store close to the Spanish Steps. Grab some gelato and just walk around peeking in-and-out each of the luxury stores.
- Giuseppe Zannoti and Acqua di Parma stores - My coworker told me about some of the unique Acqua fragrances you'll find throughout the various parts of Italy. While walking through Piazza di Espagna, I stumbled upon the Acqua di Parma store. AMAZING SCENTS! I grabbed one and so did hubby. We went back the next day to have each of our bottles engraved.
- Shopping and walking - Funny thing, the city is VERY walkable and not as big as you would think. We walked from Piazza di Espagna back towards our Airbnb near the Colosseum after some light shopping.
- Train to Naples - We took Rail Italia to Naples for the second part of our trip. The train is an efficient way to get to and explore other parts of Italy. Book tickets here.
- Ferry to Capri - Booked round trip ferry tickets to Capri from Naples. Book tickets here. Tip: get to the dock early so you can visit the information counter and print tickets. They will more than likely NOT honor electronic tickets.
- Docked in Capri - We took the lift to the top of Capri and walked from there. I'm convinced folks don't have an actual concept of time and distance. We were told one of the beaches was a 20 minute walk. 45 minutes later we FINALLY landed at Marina Piccola.
- Marina Piccola - And what a beautiful scene it was. Worth the walk (in the wrong direction initially). We rented beach chairs at 18 euros a piece. Much better than having to lay out on the rocks without a beach towel. The water was chilly but perfect considering the heat.
- Carthusia Capri - Don't forget to visit Carthusia Capri for some super sweet home fragrances and perfumes. You'll find the flagship store on the walk downhill toward Marina Piccola,
- Dinner at either Al Capri or Paolina Capri
- There are tons of swanky restaurants lining the hills of this beautiful island. Any of them (especially those with a view) would be a good pick. I would suggest either of the two above.
- Almafi coast (Maiori beach, Almafi, Positano) - Our Airbnb host was a retired taxi driver so we lucked up by being able to book a day tour to the Almafi Coast through him. We started near Salerno and ventured back west via the windy road along the coast. Our first stop was Maiori. I would have preferred to spend the day in Maiori. It reminded me so much of South Beach. We finally landed in Positano.
- Chez Black Restaurant - sits right on the beach in Positano. The food is EXCELLENT. Once you're done eating, head over to the beach and purchase a chair for 15 euros. Lay out and enjoy the sun.
- Sorrento - I think I might LOVE Sorrento! If you have the time, take a quick drive through the city. If you have more time, spend the night! Tons of great shopping, restaurants and sites.
- Train to Rome - so much moving and shaking... at this point I was exhausted!
- Fashion townhouse Airbnb - By far my favorite Airbnb throughout the trip. Close to the Spanish Steps, shopping, restaurants, many monuments.
- Shopping Zara - I LOVE this store! What I love even more is that I found some exclusive items that won't be available in the US. SMILES :)
- Shopping and people watching
Either plan an itinerary for the northern cities or the southern cities. We chose to go south after Rome. Naples (Napoli Nah-pol-lee) is definitely a city I could skip in the future. Many refer to Naples as the armpit of Italy and after our few days there, I can see why. We spent most of our time outside of Naples (Capri and the Almafi Coast on two separate days)
Next time I go to Italy...
I'll fly into Rome and spend a day; take the train to Sorrento (spend 2-3 days with a day trip to Maiori); and set sail to Capri to spend 2-3 days. I would like to actually take one of the many 1-day cooking classes. Pretty sure that will be a cool experience. At some point I would LOVE to visit the northern cities in Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence) .
A quick girls trip to Dallas for an Erykah Badu concert provided MAJOR inspiration and a personal push in the right direction. Click the links below for our geotags and visited sites. Also check out this beautiful infographic on 6 reasons everyone is moving to Dallas.
- Galleria Dallas - GREAT shopping! Found a pair of Sam Edelman flips (I love his designs! He gets me lol) and a pair of MK heels on sale. Also purchased a 2018 planner, some Rose gummies, and a cute stemless wine glass for the turn-up lol
- Happiest Hour - After a quick (hot) run to Target and Walmart for some much needed items, we headed over to this SUPER cute happy hour spot. Apparently it's the place to be Thursday-Saturday night. The outdoor sandlot area and the rooftop were beautiful and a great way for us to be introduced to downtown Dallas. Try the Guinness braised short rib entree!
- STIRR - Day two started with brunch in Deep Ellum at Stirr, where we dropped off a bunch of items for Hurricane Harvey families. Once again the views were lovely from the rooftop and the area (Deep Ellum) is apparently one of the top places in Dallas for millennial/young professionals to hang out. We ran into a few VERY PROUD Florida and Michigan fans (they played the next day) so I'm guessing that's also the place folks go to hang out during games.
- Massage Envy - Got a custom massage at Massage Envy in the Uptown area. BOMB! I fell asleep and drooled on the table.
- Uptown Dallas Shopping - After my massage we walked around the Uptown Dallas shops and ended up stopping at Taco Diner for some mango margaritas. YUM
- CrushCraft Thai Street Eats - Grabbed some quick Thai before the concert, called an uber and headed out to Texas Horse Park.
- 1st Annual Dallas Riverfront Jazz Festival
Next, on to the Riverfront jazz festival at Texas Horse Park (which really was a horse park - like I think they have Rodeos here). We were only there for Erykah Badu who headlined the Friday night acts. GREAT JOB ERYKAH! My first time seeing her live and she's everything I thought she would be (even just as late to get on the stage as I thought she would be). I didn't realize just HOW MANY hits Erykah has. Look out for my mixtape monday Badu playlist coming soon.
- Yolk - Day three started with a lovely brunch at Yolk. Try the red velvet french toast. Oh Em Gee!
- Avant Garden Dallas - I found this lovely flower shop on instagram – it's located within the shops at Highland Park Village. Check out some of their beautiful arrangements and stop by to pick your own bouquet from the stems available in the showroom. Once you're done there, take a walk around and peek in some of the high-end shops. Too rich for my blood, but still a good time nonetheless.
Back to Baltimore!
A SURPRISE ANNIVERSARY TRIP FROM DARLING HUBBY!
Want to cut through all the blah blah blah and just get a rundown of my geotags and spots visited? Click the links below:
If you don't know by now, I'm talkin bout Chi-town
My recent trip to Chicago for Ragan Communications's internal communications professional development.
Where should I start?
Ok let's start here...
I found Ragan Communications through a simple google search and stumbled upon a course that was perfectly fitting for some of the internal communications obstacles we're experiencing within my agency. I had to FIGHT (insert appropriate Colored Purple quote here) and do some MAJOR convincing to get my company to pay for the workshop. Anywayz... purchased the course, next booked my Spirit airlines flight (low grumble), then finally got around to booking my hotel (after toiling back and forth looking at options on the Hotel Tonight app) and making sure to pack my ONE personal item (so I wouldn't incur any additional charges).
Finally on my way! Actually it wasn't that simple. Spirit airlines delayed my flight for 3 hours and I ended up arriving in Chicago at 11:30pm Wednesday night. Spirit gave us all a $50 credit. Meh, thanks I guess!
I attempted to check into my hotel only to find Working Advantage secured a stay for 1 night instead of 3. I'm tired and irritable so I whip out my confirmation for 3 nights (completely paid), and eagerly (with minor attitude) await my room key and an upgrade. Because clearly after this inconvenience I deserve a few extra perks.
Despite the inconvenience, the Swissotel is one of my favorite hotels to stay in while traveling to Chicago. Not because it's super fancy or because it's a 5-star hotel, but because it's clean, centrally located, and I get awesome rest. I mean I LOVE a hot shower and some nice, crisp, clean white bedding on a king sized bed. Also, upon check in I was asked if I wanted to forgo house keeping in exchange for $10 toward food and drink for each of my 3 nights staying at the Swissotel. HELL YEA! So, next time you're in Chicago try the Swissotel (tell them I sent you lol).
Well rested and ready for a day worth of teaching and learning, I set out from my hotel room at 7:30am to attend the first morning session on engaging employees through mobile. Let's backtrack. The two-day workshop was held in a lecture hall at The Gleacher Center on the University of Chicago's campus. The campus fit perfectly within the city's backdrop of skyscrapers and architecturally pleasing edifices. A really nice looking building, very close the the Chicago Tribune offices and NBC Chicago.
Now back to the professional development details.
Sheesh. When I tell you people are out here making it 'do what it do baby' (Ray Charles reference for all those who are unfamiliar), I mean JUST that. Some of these companies are seriously leveraging technology in the most amazingly innovative ways to engage staff. What I love most about these sessions are the brainstorming opportunities and exchange of ideas that take place. I've seen and heard some of the most effective, engaging, innovative procedures and practices being implemented by agencies ranging from the Social Security Administration to Hulu. There's nothing (and I mean nothing) new under the sun. Any complexities or obstacles an organization may face around engaging staff, some other company has come up with a system and ways to combat/reconcile/remedy said issues. We learned how organizations are implementing apps, mobile messaging and Thursday "Wind Down" sessions among may other briliant ideas to engage and communicate regularly with staff. For more information about this specific course, click here. For more information about other Ragan Communications courses, click here.
Workshops went from 7:30am to 5pm on Thursday. Toward the end things and ideas started running together. I wasn't quite prepared for an all day intensive lecture format but it was still a great day nonetheless. After sessions the first day, I treated myself to dinner at The Hampton Social. Now if you know me, you know I LOVE brussel sprouts. So whenever there's an opportunity to order some brussels, I do just that. I ended up ordering the sprouts and a crabcake, wrapped up dinner then headed back to the hotel. Shower. Phone calls. Bed. Day one complete.
Day two was only a half day, yet just as informative and satisfying. I left the workshop a little early to tend to some other business. After that, I set out on a walking tour of Chicago. My first stop was Dylan's Candy Bar (see pictures above). I purchased the 18-pack chocolate squares and the cute little candy tool box. Super cute and almost gone (we've been eating the runts candy all day). Next stop, the #blackatwork display at Havas Impact (Havas Chicago). A super unique exhibit displaying some of the common issues African Americans face working in corporate America. After those two stops I headed back to my hotel to recharge my phone and change my shoes. 2:30pm hits and I'm back out of the door. First stop, Millennium Park and the Great Bean. I snap a few photos then get the bright idea to visit the SkyDeck. I start thinking to myself, "can I walk from here to the Sears Tower (walk to cut down on uber costs), take the tower tour, then head over to Sunda Chicago for dinner?" Go for it Brandi! I take off toward the Sears tower only stopping to snap a few pictures of The Paper Source store (a designer's dream), and some beautiful architecture that caught my eye.
The Sears Tower was super cool! Great graphics and displays (another graphic designer dream). Really nice learning about the history of what's now known as the Willis Tower. Raced through the rest of the tour, then ubered over to Sunda for dinner. Here's another major key, when you're in Chicago make sure to stop by Sunda for one of the tastiest new-Asian meals you could possibly imagine.
Dinner at Sunda followed by a hot shower and Dateline NBC was the perfect way to end my trip. I was up by 5:30am Saturday and on a flight back to Baltimore by 6:00am. What a great time!
I didn't do as much networking as I would've hoped. Networking is ALWAYS so difficult for me. But I did leave my freelance card behind at a few places. Yay me!
A few tips...
- Make sure to make reservations at both The Hampton Social and Sunda. You may get there and they won't have availability for hours.
- Carve out at least 3 hours of time for the SkyDeck tour. My visit was a bit rushed because of dinner reservations at 5pm.
- Spirit Airline is a trap. Only use it if you have to. lol And FYI the Herschel Company makes the perfect bag that fits within the "1 personal item" requirement.
- Make sure you're wearing shoes with good support and something that will keep your feet warm. Toes need love too! :)
- Try the crispy brussel sprouts at Sunda and the spare ribs.
- Try Uber carpool to save money. Most times there won't be anyone else in the car.
- Oh and don't run out of foundation on a business trip (see photos above)! Then you have to walk around bare-faced (with the straight-face).
And to top it all off, I entered my business card for a $100 Amex gift card raffle.... AND I WON! Thanks Chicago. I'll be back.
Houston you were yummy and colorful. I needed a break from my dreary day-to-day routine. So I decided to take an inspiration trip to Houston. It rained (what a bummer) but we had a great time. Got to visit the #biscuitpaintwall which I blogged about over a year ago (it's so nice to cross destinations off your list).
We stayed at the Royal Sonesta, only after losing our accommodations at the Houston Marriott West Loop (what a bummer). Shout out to Hotel tonight! If you're not familiar, get familiar. Literally a life saver.
Ate at the Breakfast Klub (a popular brunch spot in Houston) two days in a row. The first day I met a young lady that told us about the SWAC Championship Game at NRG Stadium between Alcorn and Grambling. So we decided to go and fake cheer for whichever team had the loudest fans.
Went for manicures and pedicures at the BEAUTIFUL Milk & Honey Spa. Must go back!
Ate a glorious seafood dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. Yum yum Chilean sea bass topped with crabmeat au gratin.
Houston you were wonderful! I look forward to my next trip.
Party and relaxation in the desert!