Two New Favorite Spots in Geneva

I love going home to Geneva, Switzerland, partly because I feel like the city is the same as when I left it in 1995. I love going to the same places over and over again, and have written about my favorites both in National Geographic and here.

Yet, as I leave after three days in my childhood home, to go back to my adult home of Washington DC (go Nats!), I was thrilled to discover two amazing new places that I look forward to visiting again and again.

La Comtesse Champagne & Cocktail Bar

My sisters and I had an apéro there last night, with Mom. A 6th generation family business run by the lovely Anaïs Leconte, this elegant yet cozy bar is an expansion of the core business, which is making champagne. Highlight: the champagne cocktail list is the longest I have ever seen. I will need to go back many times to try them all! 

Le Decanteur

Nestled in the Quartier des Eaux-Vives, this modern Italian restaurant and wine bar is my new favorite. Amazing pasta, amazing Italian wine list. Luca Ragnelli, the owner and master chef, has been cooking since the age of 13, studied at the Ecole Hoteliere of Geneva, spent time in Parma, and worked at the Noga Hilton (now Kempinski) before opening his restaurant. My favorite factoid? One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is inspired and named after is aunt Tina.

Reminders

This week, I am in Tinos, Greece. Not my first visit, but my first visit during the low season. The magic of this island is as strong as ever…

Fewer people make for stronger connections – those of us here really want to be here. The cooler temperatures make for new experiences – walking through the villages and heading to the Chora (town) more frequently. And the lessons of the island are as insightful as ever.

  • Feeding the island cats feels like the day’s most important project. AKA taking care of others, with no expectation in return, makes me happy.
  • Leaving the book I just devoured (The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda) in the unofficial “sidewalk book exchange” of Isternia village, and seeing it gone the next morning makes my whole day. AKA an act of random kindness for an unknown stranger, makes me happy.
  • Going to the bank (inside the building, not the ATM) feels like an enlightening, welcoming, kind, human connection. AKA taking the time to enjoy every human interaction, even in the form of an “errand,” makes me happy.
  • Slowing down and watching the sunset, grateful for nature and her rhythms, no matter the season, is good for the soul.
  • Finally, as the Greeks say, “eteron ekateron.” AKA “it is neither here nor there.” And/or “it is said of two things that can both apply simultaneously, different from one another, without affecting one another.”

Traveling in beauty

I travel. A lot. I crisscross the country every which way for work and I love it. I often am on four to five flights each week and I often change time zones and climates two to three times each week. And I still get compliments on my skin. Here are my best beauty travel tips.

  • I pack so many beauty products that I always have to check my bag. So if you are adamantly opposed to that, just stop reading right now.
  • I think of skin care like I do about clothes – in terms of changing climates: it’s all about layering. T-shirts + jackets = serums + moisturizers. I add and layer as need be and am equally prepared for Puerto Rico and Seattle weather.
  • Airplane air is drying, so many of those products are aimed at maintaining moisture – oils and heavier moisturizers that I would not necessarily use daily during a week in the office. Our Gentle cream cleanser. Our Kantic+® Intensely nourishing cream. My current favorite facial oil. Lots of serums.
  • Also because airplane air is drying, I always have a travel size of our Kantic® Brightening moisture mask in my purse and I apply some on any flight longer than 2.5 hours. (This also prevents me smelling like airplane all the time, which is a most lovely benefit).
  • Because of my line of work, I get a lot of samples and gifts of beauty products. I use travel as a way to test them. This morning, as part of my multi-step facial routine, I tried a sample of the new Elizabeth Arden vitamin C capsules (received as a gift on the road in Puerto Rico last week). I also take full-size gifts on the road (hence checked suitcase) and leave them in the hotel bathroom if I don’t fall in love with them and imagine that a lovely hotel attendant will find them and fall in love.
  • I have an amazing walk-in shower at home, but no bathtub. So hotel rooms with bathtubs are like a treasure. I pack bath oils (I love any Clarins body oil in my bath), bath salts (Kneipp and Aveda, always lavender, are my favorites), and take baths.
  • These baths are the perfect excuse for a mini facial “at home,” aka Gentle refining scrub and Kantic® Brightening moisture mask. Proper exfoliation is always important, but I feel it is particularly key on the road to keep my skin bright and glowing.
  • Because I am on the road so much, I maintain the same body care routine on the road as I do at home. Firming gel for neck and bust. Optimizing body contour gel. Soothing body lotion. (Are you starting to see the need to check my suitcase…?).
  • Flights are terrible for swelling in the lower extremities. So a leg and foot massage with our Dry skin balm is a must every day I fly.
  • One thing I do not travel with is my hairdryer, and hotel room hair dryers are not always amazing. A DryBar appointment on the road helps me look my best for important meetings.
  • And finally, every morning, a tall glass of water with EmergenC (Super Orange), and a shot (to drink not to inject) of Vitamin B12.

May your travels be safe – and beautiful!

Seven things to love about Puerto Rico

Over the last ten days, I have been in eleven planes, six states, and five hotel rooms. To say I am homesick is an understatement – I cannot wait to be reunited with my home tomorrow.

Luckily for me, I am ending my trip in one of my favorite places, Puerto Rico. I am as travel weary as I am enchanted by this beautiful place.

If you have not been, here are some reasons to visit PR:

1. The people. Kind, welcoming, friendly, open.
2. The food. Caribbean, Cuban, and of course Puerto Rican. Have the traditional Mofongo, a local specialty of mashed plantains with herbs and pork.
3. The weather, sunny and summery with an occasional warm rain shower.
4. The beaches. There are so many to choose from, whether in Isla Verde close to the airport or on neighboring island Culebra (Flamenco Beach is a favorite).
5. The sunset in Rincon, on the West part of the island. Breathtaking.
6. The mountains. Lush and green and gorgeous.
7. Old San Juan, with its beautiful architecture, forts, and citadels.

I can’t wait to get home tomorrow, and I can’t wait to come back to PR!

Vacay…

Vacation. Vacay. Vacances. A magical word.

In three days, I will be on vacation. Every year, I take the last week of June and the first week of July off and head to a tiny island in Greece with limited wifi, more churches than people, and good Raki. There, I rest and prepare myself for the second half of the calendar year. I read. I think. I sleep. I swim. I watch the sunset. Sometimes I watch the sunrise. I eat Greek salads. I drink rosé. I nap. I do nothing. I work (some).

In 2017, Americans gave up 212 million days off in 2017 ($62.2 billion in lost benefits). This year, 39 million Americans won’t take a summer vacation. I get it, taking time off is not really how I am wired. I have learned, however, that vacation is necessary. It is part of health care, part of self-care. It is not an indulgence, but something that makes me better at my job (CNBC and USA Today). 

Pre-vacation benefits:

“Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?” (Zig Ziglar)

  • Knowing I am about to be on vacation is a great motivator – almost like I am giving myself an ultimatum. This week I completed two projects that I have been procrastinating on (one of them for 3 months) because I didn’t want to have them weigh on me during my time off.
  • Knowing I am about to be on summer vacation also has positive self-care consequences – I have been eating better (because bikini…) and got my second pedicure of the year because of my upcoming trip.

Vacation benefits:

“A proper vacation does three things. It takes you away from the stresses and demands of your daily life; it gives your body time to heal and rejuvenate, and it invigorates your mind by returning you to your normal rhythm.” (Sage Wilcox)

  • Sleeping. Being constantly sleep deprived, I have a rule to sleep 10 hours minimum every night while on vacation.
  • Daydreaming. I actually let my mind wander, I create space and time in my brain for new thinking, new ideas, more creativity.
  • Exercising. I swim every day in the clear, cold, salty sea, which is good for my body and my soul.
  • Being. I try to disconnect and to not be constantly attached to my devices. This year, I will try harder.

The post-vacation benefits are real. If you don’t believe me, trust the experts: “We know that when people can rest, relax, recharge, there’s a ripple effect of benefits in terms of productivity, creativity, and collaboration when they return to work.” (Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glass Door), and studies show that vacation has proven benefits, including alleviating burnout and making employees more resilient and better able to cope with stress upon their return.

I will come back from Greece refreshed, reenergized, remotivated, more creative, and more productive, ready and excited for the rest of 2019.

Georgetown, How I Love Thee…

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Carol Joynt’s Q&A Café. She interviewed Nancy Taylor Bubes, during a fabulous lunch at the Georgetown Club. (Read more about the interview here). There is hardly anything more Georgetown than that, and it reminded me how much I love this neighborhood I live in…

The sights

  • The amazing architecture, the row houses, the hidden gardens (and swimming pools), the cobblestones. Every time I walk down the street, I discover something new, beautiful, and captivating.  (Go on the House Tour and Garden Tour to discover some of these secrets…)
  • The Potomac, with its boat houses and rowers.
  • The trees, which change their dress with the seasons, and also look magnificent.

The tastes

  • Thunder: the best burger in Georgetown, and heaven if you like beer. Also, Bernard and Josh are possibly the most entertaining bartenders you will come across…
  • Peacock Café: the best fries in Georgetown, and my personal favorite lunch spot.
  • Bourbon Steak: the best Manhattan (other than the one my husband makes), and fascinating people watching if you want to see (foreign) Government-looking types in suits.

The smells

  • Georgetown Tobacco. Every time I walk by there, I am reminded of when my Dad used to smoke the pipe, and then Blue Gitanes… (shhhh, don’t tell him I told you).  
  • I even love the ginkgo trees around Olive street… stinky in the fall, yet so Georgetown.  

The sounds

  • The birds of Spring. They start chirping at 4:10 am, like an orchestra of happiness for things to come.
  • The sound of tennis balls hitting racquets on the courts of Montrose Park. There is nothing quite so civilized.

The feels

  • The community feel of the neighborhood, where people still say “good morning” and nod and smile to each other when walking down the street.
  • The international feel of the neighborhood, enhanced by the embassies nearby and the international Georgetown students.