Urban

A day in Vancouver

A Saturday in vancouver

[trip style = luxury + urban + spa + food & wine + active]

Eat, exercise, repeat. This is Vancouver. Steeped in nature with a cosmo flair befitting its Pacific Rim location, Vancouver is a city where Louboutins and hiking boots are equally welcome. For a well-rounded view of the Glass City I've included activities for both shoe types to your mountain-meets-metropolitan itinerary. Happy trails...

When I was asked to write about how to do a Saturday in my home city for Luxury Retreats Magazine, I went in this direction: The local's way, because that's the best way to taste a town's flavors, mais oui?

A Saturday in Vancouver {reader's digest version}
9am: Take your first bite du jour at Temper Pastry {just outside the city center} for a dose of coffee and croissants to fuel your urban adventure. Thankfully the rest of the day involves exercise, so order a few Charlie Bites—the shop's cult-following, lightly sweetened, cinnamon pull-aparts—and sit for a bit in the marble-clad and brioche-scented space. 

10:30am: Bike the Stanley Park Seawall. As part of the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path, the seawall showcases the ocean city’s assets up close, taking cyclists and pedestrians on a tour around town past the park's 1,000 acres, beaches, seaside restaurants, marinas, and gourmet markets.

2pm: Laze the afternoon away at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Willow Stream Spa. At once contemporary and cool, the 8,500-square foot, glass-enclosed space goes beyond Canada-inspired treatments of the Maple-sugar scrub variety, offering a woodsy West Coast aesthetic, the crown jewel of which is the outdoor terrace with views over the waterfront, private Jacuzzis, an infrared sauna, and meditation pods.

7pm: Dinner at L’Abattoir (where you'll find me sitting at the bar in the photo gallery), Gastown's poshest address for dinner, blending an industrial-French physique with sexy cocktails and Euro-coastal dishes that look as though they are intended for a photoshoot.

[photo via @luxuryretreats]

 

Video: Roaming Rome VIP-Style

How to roam rome like a VIP

[trip style = urban]

When more than 30 million people visit Rome per year—aka, the entire population of Canadayou don't mess around with tourist attractions in the Eternal City. 

Knowing this, for math and sanity reasons, I focused on two travel- and time-saving tricks when I worked in partnership with Expedia Local Expert to tour Italy's capital this summer. The result rendered a VIP experience ranging from trip style = luxe line-skipping to a trip style = foodie pasta soirée {all for the price of a few pints of gelato}.

Beyond the two essential tips I gleaned from sightseeing in the heat of high season {con't below}, don't miss this VIDEO Mr. Trip Styler shot of me roaming Rome!

Pre-book activities
From this point forward, I will always pre-book activities. In the past, I thought you could only get special access to sights in the "Wonders of the World" category if you booked a pre-packaged tour, or knew a guy who knows a gal, or spent the equivalent of a yacht on travel. I didn't think you could access a Rolodex of quality tours or jump-the-line activities for the cost of a few gelatos. Until Rome. Until I skipped three-hour lines. Until I figured out that my doctoral-candidate guide could paint a picture so vivid it was like I was a fly on the wall in Rome's gladiator days. Until I made pasta in an alfresco kitchen five storeys above the city. 

Trip Styler Tip: Whether you're traveling to Rome or another major coordinate, save the headache of standing in line and pre-book your sightseeing activities {including your airport transfer} before you travel.
 
Focus on Skip the line | VIP | Small group tours
If and when you pre-book tourseven from your hotel room the night beforefocus on descriptors such as VIP, skip the line, or small group, which will separate you from the masses, save time and instantly upgrade your experience. 

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Links to the specific tours I reference in the video above. 

Open-air bus tour {$12 usd} 
Why: As a first-impression means of connecting the ancient city's historical dots.

Walks of Italy VIP Caesar’s Palace and Colosseum tour {$87 usd}
Why: Who wouldn't want a tour from a doctoral candidate whose main focus is Ancient Rome?

Walks of Italy Small-Group Pasta-Making Class {$71 usd}
Why: Learn the art of al dente from a rooftop overlooking Rome {with prosecco!}. This was such a highlight, expect more deets in the coming weeks. 

Skip-the-Line St. Peter’s Basilica tour with Hotel Pickup {$36 usd}
Why: Skip the three-hour line and learn about Italy's largest church from Vatican-approved guide.

PS - In case you want more specifics on each tour, see my latest article for the Expedia Viewfinder Travel Blog.

[photos via @tripstyler, video in partnership with Expedia Local Expert]

Italy: Baby Styler Edition

Baby Styler Italy

[trip style = luxury + urban + beach + food + wine]

As we boarded the plane for our three-week immersion into Italy, I wasn't sure whether the trip would be BANANAS or breathtaking with Baby Styler in tow. Was it crazy to take a tyke to Italy? Feeling adventurous, I'd been told by multiple Italophiles how much Italians love babies, so I thought we'd give it a go. 

Turns out, Italy with Baby Styler was one of the best trips we've ever taken, and not just because he tried his first pizzaby a Michelin-star chef no less! 

Don't get me wrong, there were moments of mayhem, like the time we had to call housekeeping at our chi-chi Relais & Chateaux hotel when a leaky diaper "situation" ensued on top of the comforter, or when... actually, I'll spare you the details. All in all, I came to the conclusion that if Italy is on your travel list, don't avoid it when you have kids; sprint there as fast as you can.  

Because we're ultra-respectful of other hotel- and restaurant-goers with our wee one, and refuse to sacrifice style when we jet-set, we stay and eat well at the kind of places with white tablecloths. Sometimes that's a problem in North America; in Italy, it's the opposite.

If you walk into an "it" restaurant or hotel in Italy, the staff and other diners welcome you with open arms {some even offer to pick up your child while you eat}. At first, we were taken aback by this outward affection and social grace, but after observing the cultural love for children, we eventually said to ourselves "when in Rome" and for a few minutes ate our pasta while Baby Styler danced beside us in the arms of his new BFF. 

Here are some of our favorite moments with our "bello bambino".

[photos by @tripstyler]

Postcards from Portland

[trip style = urban + beach & sun + food & wine + weekend getaway]

Portland is one of our most requested cities for Trip Styler-approved recommendations. As I tend to visit the City of Roses between the fall and spring, I decided to venture down for a summer getaway in the Pacific Northwest. Known for its award-winning restaurant scene, easygoing lifestyle and friendly locals, Portland offers a guaranteed good time. Besides the usual brunches, happy hours, bike rides and tax-free shopping, I set my sights on two spots I'd been meaning to visit: Sauvie Island and the Multnomah Whiskey Library. Together they make the perfect Portland day. We all know about après-ski and the nineteenth hole—let's make après-beach part of our social practice!

Things to know: Hotel rooms and Airbnbs are pricey and hard to come by during the summer, so plan ahead, stay outside town or snag a last-minute room on Hotel Tonight. I booked the Ace in late April for a July stay, and the rate was twice what I've paid during the winter.

Hot dogs or legs?! We chased the sun to  Sauvie Island  {pronounced  saw -vee or  soh -vee}, about 30 minutes north of the city, on a 37°C day. The most popular beaches, Collins and Walton, face the Columbia River. The northern end of Collins beach is clothing optional. Beware of sand so hot it will burn your feet ... etc. ;-)

Hot dogs or legs?! We chased the sun to Sauvie Island {pronounced saw-vee or soh-vee}, about 30 minutes north of the city, on a 37°C day. The most popular beaches, Collins and Walton, face the Columbia River. The northern end of Collins beach is clothing optional. Beware of sand so hot it will burn your feet ... etc. ;-)

Pack a picnic basket and stop for berries at one of the many farm markets and pumpkin patches on the island. Looking for a hike? There are a several 2-3-mile trails on the island. Can't get enough? Plan your trip around one of several long table dinners over the summer or stay in this modern farm  cottage .

Pack a picnic basket and stop for berries at one of the many farm markets and pumpkin patches on the island. Looking for a hike? There are a several 2-3-mile trails on the island. Can't get enough? Plan your trip around one of several long table dinners over the summer or stay in this modern farm cottage.

Things to know: Purchase a daily parking permit {$7 usd} on the east side of the island from the Reeder Beach RV Country Store or just north of the bridge from the Cracker Barrel Store to park in all beach and wildlife areas.

"I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." I couldn't help but quote Ron Burgundy while sitting in a tufted leather couch in the  Multnomah Whiskey Library . As I watched bar-backs climb rolling ladders like Belle in  Beauty and the Beast  to access one of the 1,500 bottles of liquor, including 900 whiskeys, I marveled at the attention to detail and spectacle of the place.

"I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." I couldn't help but quote Ron Burgundy while sitting in a tufted leather couch in the Multnomah Whiskey Library. As I watched bar-backs climb rolling ladders like Belle in Beauty and the Beast to access one of the 1,500 bottles of liquor, including 900 whiskeys, I marveled at the attention to detail and spectacle of the place.

One of the most unique features of the bar is the personal touch. Your cocktails are mixed and your whiskey is poured right in front of you by a bartender who wheels over a bar cart. I started with a 12-year-old Ezra B single-barrel bourbon that my bartender selected for me after I told her what I liked and my price point, followed by a delicious cocktail. Their most popular cocktail is the Old Fashioned, which my friend called the best she's ever had. Two drinks and a few hours later, we pulled ourselves off the leather couch and into the warm evening, passing dozens of people waiting to get inside.

One of the most unique features of the bar is the personal touch. Your cocktails are mixed and your whiskey is poured right in front of you by a bartender who wheels over a bar cart. I started with a 12-year-old Ezra B single-barrel bourbon that my bartender selected for me after I told her what I liked and my price point, followed by a delicious cocktail. Their most popular cocktail is the Old Fashioned, which my friend called the best she's ever had. Two drinks and a few hours later, we pulled ourselves off the leather couch and into the warm evening, passing dozens of people waiting to get inside.

Things to know: Anticipate a long wait for this popular, seated bar. Put in your name and wait in the new Green Room bar below the Library as you sip on a low-proof cocktail designed to open your palate while you wait to be seated upstairs.

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

Related
Oregon Travel Diary :: Feasting on Portland
That Travel Meal :: Pok Pok Som Thai Basil Gin Rickey
Pant-Stretching Portland
Fashion Friday :: Falling for Portland

[images via @heatherlovesit & dana avila photography]

Roam+Board :: Our Rome Appartamento

RomeAirbnb

[trip style = urban]

When we first arrived in Rome we had one goal: Adjust. Adjust to the time zone and adapt to the heat {the kind where you can't sit outside until 9pm unless you have an entourage with an "Evian spritzer" and "fan attendant"}. With Baby Styler in tow, we decided to ease into Italy and rent an apartment via Airbnb, in case his jet lag went "south" at 3am, or on the off-chance we'd need a washer/dryer while traveling with an infant :)

Our only requirement: The flat had to be cool and collected.

What
Enter this designer-styled, two-bed, two-bath apartment in a 1950s building sporting hand-painted teal tiles and a succulent-adorned entrance. Inside the mid-century retreat, graphic walls and iconic furniture such as a Bertoia Chair and Arco Light lend a mod-yet-approachable Roma vibe.  

Bonus: Our super-host even arranged a baby crib, highchair and organic baby food for Baby Styler {plus vino for us}.

Where
In a residential, embassy-stacked district one hour by car transfer from Rome's International Airport {FCO} and three stops from Piazza del Popolo by train.

When
Available year-round.

Who/Why
You're looking for a sense of space and local taste.        

Cost
Rates hover around $170/night in high season and $118/night in low season. 

Photos

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Master bath

Master bath

Second bedroom

Second bedroom

Dining area

Dining area

Learning the art of the iconic Moka Express {read: Jet lag miracle worker}, created in Italy in 1933. Eighty-five years later the same design is still sold. 

Learning the art of the iconic Moka Express {read: Jet lag miracle worker}, created in Italy in 1933. Eighty-five years later the same design is still sold. 

Breakfast. We stopped by the local grocery store {a 15-min walk away} to pick up some espresso and this Roman staple: a spongy lemon and cocoa cake with so much girth that two pieces kept me full for five hours.

Breakfast. We stopped by the local grocery store {a 15-min walk away} to pick up some espresso and this Roman staple: a spongy lemon and cocoa cake with so much girth that two pieces kept me full for five hours.

Patio. Trip Styler Tip: Rome has mosquitoes, so if you're going to use this little oasis, put on some repellent or cover your limbs. 

Patio. Trip Styler Tip: Rome has mosquitoes, so if you're going to use this little oasis, put on some repellent or cover your limbs. 

Related
Ciao! :: Roma with Expedia 
Ciao! 

[photos by @tripstyler]