Tag Archives: travel

New York-SoHo/NoLIta

31 May

Honestly, this is my first guide to any city ever written, and I don’t know how to go about it. Should I cover just the highlights? Should I just tell you everything that I did or should I just be an escapist and not write it at all.

While the third is my favorite, I asked some friends and they suggested i break it down into parts. While their idea was to divide it into where to eat, what to do, where to shop-I wanted to do it slightly differently. Mostly because I have spent most of my time in Soho, I wanted to make a guide just for it. The other parts to the NYC guide might be more generic, but here is my guide for you to Soho (and the neighbouring regions including Nolita)-the place I fell in love with and the place that saw me grow more in a month than I had in probably years!

Where to eat

  1. Balthazar  
    My roommate, the queen of Soho, took me here and I will always owe her for that. The place has very strong Godfather vibes making you feel like you walked right into a spot where all the Mafia lords are coming for a meeting (but like minus the goons and with an extra hint of polished glamour). However, even if you put the interior aside-the food itself there is divine. Their service is immaculate and the desserts are beyond delicious. That, and their bathroom entrance is one of the most rad one I have ever seen (so dungeonesque, if that is even a word).
  2. Rubirosa  
    If the Hadids say they love a particular place’s pizza, you have to check it out. And, oh my god, was I glad that we did. I have never had a better pizza in my life, that too an all-veg one. You better believe it guys, it was even tastier than many non-veg ones I have had. Plus the interior is totally groovy. The vibe is very laid back chic but still cosy (made more so that day because of the crazy rain outside) with a bar that made me want to skip sitting at a table altogether!
  3. Dominique Ansel
    Cronuts. Enough said. (p.s. the other baked goods here are spectacular too, so I will say try as many as you can without going into a food coma, but if you have to pick one, pick the cronuts!)

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    Dominique Ansel Cronut

  4. Georgetown Cupcakes
    The shop itself is gorgeous, but what makes it better is the street it is on. The cobblestone pavement, the cute stores around it and the laid back, quiet vibes of the area-you feel like you are walking in some old English town and not in loud, over crowded New York-loved it. Plus, I swear they have the best cupcakes ever. Ever…..Ever!!! (Just wanted to make a point here.) You can stay there and eat or get your cakes ‘to go’. Either ways, it is a must try!

The Instagram-able spots

  1. Cha cha matcha
    If you are a matcha fan, you have to go here. If you are a fan of cute little cafes being a little extra, you have to go here. If you want cute clicks of your coffee for your insta feed, you have to go here.
    In short, you have to go here, period!

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    Cha Cha Matcha

  2. Once upon a Tart
    Some of the most influential bloggers from NYC still turn to this spot for a picture in front of this picturesque bakery/cafe. Case in point, this picture of Blair from Atlantic pacific! If you are looking to up your insta-feed game, do stop here!

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    Once upon a tart

  3. Shuka 
    This is another NYC blogger favorite for their pictures and correctly so, seeing the blue store front of this cafe makes any outfit (and picture) pop!
  4. Sweet Moment Cafe 
    It is not exactly in Soho/Nolita but it is Little Italy which is right next to the two and, if you have a sweet tooth or crave cute colorful pictures, this place is a must see!

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    Sweet Moment 

  5. Greene street
    And other cobblestone streets, that Soho is famous for, provide the perfect character to any picture. The more towards the south of Soho you go, the more of its historic buildings you will find (i.e., get closer to Canal street if you want both the famous cobblestone streets and the historical cast iron buildings in your picture).

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The places worth experiencing

  1. Laduree Soho
    Getting a bit of the Parisian experience in your travels is always a fun idea, but this particular branch is always fully reserved for a reason. The little patio/open-air seating area that they offer in the back is divine. I preferred it at night when all the garden/fairy lights were on and the atmosphere seemed almost magical, almost Parisian but they are generally more frequented for their brunch. Either ways, don’t forget to get some macaroons to-go, because-why not?

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    Laduree Soho (the outdoor seating area)

  2. Little Cupcake bakeshop
    Again an eatery in this category? Odd? No, because I frequented this shop more for its ’70s diner vibe than their food (which was good but not my prime attraction). Like my friend justly said, it reminds one of the diner from Pulp Fiction. MUST EXPERIENCE!
  3. Jack’s wife Frieda
    Ok, last eatery, promise but although their food is ridiculous (read:ridiculously amazing), it is the festive vibes, the welcoming staff, the feeling as if you are in an Italian backyard with your friends, the cute gold pendants, and (most importantly) the adorable sugar packets that all contribute to the absolute, mind-blowing ridiculous-ness of the place. The green shakshuka has mystified me though. Why is it green and what makes it so good?

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  4. McNally Jackson Books
    So growing up one place I always wanted in my hometown was a book store where one could sit for hours and read but one that also offered coffee and snacks as needed. When I found out that God had blessed me with the exact place I had always day dreamed about right around the corner from my apartment I could not have been happier. A huge book store offering literature from all over the world including books on and from Russia, France, India-I was in my kind of paradise. But what added to the charm was the cute seating area/coffee shop in one of its corners complete with window seats and the nicest staff ever along with small seating arrangements all over the two floors of it. It is needless to add, but I went there almost daily. And if you go there even once, you will know why, especially if you believe paperbacks are better than e-books!
  5. Washington square park
    It is not Central Park, but what it lacks in its size it makes up for in its beauty. And because it is less crowded by tourists pouring in from all directions, it is the perfect spot for a quick picnic or to spend your evening with a book. Plus, it lets you see New Yorkers New Yorking (yes, I just turned it into a verb) and giving you a more wholesome experience of the city.
    Note:- It is not exactly part of the Soho/Nolita region but it was close enough for me to be able to walk here oftenn!
  6. Washington Square arch
    It is a part of the Washington Square Park, and not only an architectural landmark frequented by a large number of tourists but also a spot most first timers deem essential for a quick picture at. And once you see it, you will know why. But, word of caution, it can get pretty crowded.

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  7. Little Italy
    Ideally it is not a part of Soho but it is right next to it and Nolita and a walk away from both, so I am putting it here. It is not just the food you go here for, though, but rather for the whole ‘Italian” experience (which, having never been to Italy, I can’t really attest for but it felt Italian enough to me). Grab a friend, a camera and walk through it with your wallet full and your belly empty. You wont regret it! (Also, there is some really amazing wall art in this area!)
  8. Chinatown
    Mentioning this because of its proximity to Soho/Nolita, I honestly cant gush enough about this place. With buildings mirroring old Chinese architecture it simultaneously gives you a glimpse into Chinese cuisine and maybe some of the lifestyle there too, but for me it also reminded me a bit of the ‘bazaars’ from my home country and made me like it more. Again I found some of the most amazing street art in this area.
    My suggestion would be to take a walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy that lets you experience both more thoroughly (plus these are usually very cheap)!

The must stay ats-

  1. The Nomo SoHo hotel
    Although it is gorgeous to look at from outside and the walk inside is almost as good, it is the lobby that I fell in love with.  Buzzing with cliché New York hotel moments the space stays true to the grit of the city via its decor. And the rooms with their over-sized windows and welcoming interior are just what vacation dreams are made of! The NoMo Kitchen (sitting off the lobby and along the walkway entrance) is their cherry on top with food as good as it can get!
  2. Sixty SoHo
    Following a (remarkable) renovation, Sixty SoHo is a visual expression of the neighborhood’s most treasured qualities. It’s chic and vibrant and offers all the little things characteristic of any great stay, particularly on the dining front. Dinner at their Sessanta will leave you speechless, and their Gordon Bar is a perfect place to end a night!

Where to Shop

I would love to give a list but if you are visiting New York and want to shop without the craziness of Times Square (which I can never take) or the long lines of the 5th avenue stores, SoHo is your place. The vibe is fun but not obnoxiously loud, the staff has more time for you, the lines are shorter and the architecture is swoon-worthy. Honestly, even basic stores like Forever 21 look like taken right out of a painting. And every store is there, from Sephora to Chanel to Tiffany’s to high street brands to fancy grocery stores!

My favourite thing to do there was to walk along Broadway (literally as far as I could go) and try new stores every day (covered a lot in a month to be honest). Plus that allowed me to discover the small boutiques that offered the latest trends at prices that made me want to dance. And the streets off of Broadway are filled with even more brands and fun little places to eat. So, give shopping there a try for sure.

Note-Dean and DeLuca is a grocery-shopping-lover’s heaven. The fruits so fresh, the bakery items so good and the flowers always with the best fragrance! Shop there at least once if you can, you will love the experience. It is a little pricey but the food is worth it!

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Travelling tips for the anxiety ridden 

23 Mar

I’m not going to lie. I love traveling but so many times I’ve let my anxiety get the better of me and have ended up cancelling more of my plans than I would like to own up to. 
A perfect example? I’m right now in Orlando, Florida but I postponed this plan for two weeks before letting it be finalised. And then the day before my flight, I tried my very best to wiggle out of the plan. The only reason I didn’t succeed in that is that I practiced the tricks I’ve taught myself, concentrated on the pros in coming down here and hence was able to say yes to the plan and make my way over. 


The reality is that avoiding stress inducing stimuli (like traveling in this case) is easier for me than not but, over the last couple of years, I’ve learned some tricks that not only help me overcome said anxiety but that actually help my happiness and excitement for the trips shine through.
Today I want to share these tips with you in the hopes that maybe someone out there will benefit from them.

1. Make sure your packing is done on time

Before med school, when anxiety wasn’t my most constant companion, I would always be the one to pack last minute (usually on the day of my travels). But med school had me reconsidering my ways till I worked out a better, less stressful routine for myself. Now, I start with making a rough plan of “what to pack” a week (or more) before. And I begin the packing itself at least four days in advance. My aim is to have everything packed and zipped a day before my day of travel except for any essentials I need to use on that day. Those go in to my carry on.
This routine has saved me on two ends. One, I don’t end up forgetting to pack any key items. Two, I don’t have the additional stress of packing on the day of my flight, which usually itself is stressful enough. 

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2. Make lists



This is one trick I learned from my eldest brother, who makes lists for everything while travelling. And now so do I and I honestly can not explain how much easier travel has been for me since I started doing this. The three minimum lists I now make are one for each of my two bags and one for the documents that I need to be travelling with. Over time though I have even perfected the details of the said lists, especially the ones for either of my bags, because when I divide them into sub-headings like my “tech gear”, “bath essentials” and “cross body bags”-I rarely forget anything which is as much helpful as the act of making the lists itself. It calms me, leaving me reassured that I am not missing out on anything. Plus, if I need to go buy anything I am aware of that well in in time.  

3. Reach the airport ahead of time.



I know it sounds basic and boring at the same time, and it’s also something my sister loves teasing me over, but since I began doing this, flying has become less daunting for me, especially when I’m travelling alone. It keeps me off the edge and makes the long security checks less anxiety ridden for me. Once I am all checked in and sitting in the waiting lounge, the last dreads of my stress wash away and I can finally let the excitement take over me. 
Try it. Next time you are flying out reach the airport a half hour before you usually would. See how much it helps. 

4. Keep hydrated.



My way of avoiding airport and plane restrooms used to be as basic as ever-avoid drinking anything. Especially water. Can I just stop here and ask this-why didn’t anyone tell me to do otherwise? 
Dehydration never helps anyone. Ever. And not just my skin but my anxiety levels would suffer because of it. Dehydration means that your whole body is worked up and famished at the same time, your cooling system is off, your blood thicker and your blood pressure is on the higher end! As your body adjusts to all the changes, your heart rate quickens amd the sensation of light headedness increases adding to the sensation of an axiety attack. For a patient with anxiety, that sensation in itself is bad enough. So keep hydrated, it will keep you calm and your stress and anxiety controlled. Small trick but massive advantages. 

5. Avoid late in the night flights.



Nothing puts anyone more on edge than lack of sleep. And having your whole cycle disturbed will have you more worked up throughout your flight than is pleasant! My advice is to avoid late night flights, catch up on your sleep before flying out no matter how small the flight is and get a good healthy (not necassirily hearty) meal before your travels. A fresh, energised you will mean a lower stress level and a more fun flight! 
6.  Take that travel pillow.

Sleeping in flight was never easy for me. Hence the previous trick was always very important for me personally. However, I have over the time found small ways to help me get a nap or two on the flight. One of them has been to travel with a small crossbody or a fanny pack. When I have my important documents close to me and safe, I feel more able to relax. Add to that a neck pillow, an eye mask and a warm jacket and I can actually get a minute or two of shut eye. 
Note:- For longer flights I avoid taking anything except my hand bag on the plane with me; that is, if I can, I check in all my bags (for luggage). Try that on your next flight. That ease of having no bags to worry about will calm you like nothing else. 

7. Avoid coffee

I know, shocker! A caffeine junkee asking you to avoid coffee, bizarre! But I have good reason to do that. In fact make that two. One, coffee makes your kidneys over work, causing you to lose water faster, leading to easier dehydration, which will add to both your anxiety and number of bathroom visits. Without good use. Secondly, coffee itself is going to add to your anxiety, making the flight more “jittery” than memorable. 
 And, if none of those reasons are motivating enough for you, how about this one-the water they use to brew coffee in planes comes from the tap-and the water for that comes from storage tanks that are cleaned barely once a year. Testing on said water has repeatedly proven it to be unhealthy and even unsafe. So, if hygiene and health are a concern of yours, avoid that coffee/tea. 

8. Pack healthy snacks

Just as dehydration does, low sugar levels and low energy levels can add to your anxiety. But if you keep snacking on the high carb, high fat content foods that airplanes companies are happy to provide you with, you will end up feeling more bloated and less sated by the end of the day. They will only cause your sugar levels to sky rocket soon after the meal but then they’ll plummet. That is, your anxiety will go up soon after, again. My adivce is to pack with you food items with a low glycemic index (that is the ones that will let you stay sated for longer) which include most fruits (especially berries), oatmeal based snacks, sweet potatoes, bran and wheat or barley based snacks. It will allow you the ease to nibble whenever you are hungry as well as the ability to say no to the horrible food airlines are famous for. 

9. Eat healthy pre flight

I’m usually too worked up on the day of my flight to be able to eat much, but I know low sugar during the long airport lines is not going to help me. So my compromise is to always eat something healthy and fulfilling before I leave the house, even if it’s not a proper meal. It allows me to navigate myself throughout with high energy levels and low stress levels.

10. Take screenshots 

Of everything-from your tickets to boarding pass to the address of where you will be staying to important phone numbers. You never know when your internet will bail on you. And knowing you’ve back up will keep you calm no matter what. 


11. Take charge 

Always, always, always keep a fully charged battery pack with you for your mobile along with at least two charging cables and the corresponding plugs. Nothing causes havoc on your anxiety levels like a mobile with a low battery. Or realising you forgot your charging cable behind, mid run to your connecting flight. 

12. Be prepared 

Know that no matter how much planning you put into the details of your trip, somethings are just not in your control. Like flight delays. So go in with the “I’m ready for changes in my plan” mindset and keep reminding yourself that extra stress will not change the status quo.
So, there they are. My twelve main tricks to keep my travel anxiety in control. Most of it goes down when I’m travelling with someone, therefore I’ll say these are much more important for those of us who travel alone. 
What tricks do you use to keep your anxiety in check? Let me know in the comments below, maybe you know something that might help us all! 
Also, if you’ve been to, or are from, Orlando, Florida, any local recommendations for fun things to do here (other than the theme parks) would be highly appreciated.
Much love,
Gull

How to perfect your airport look

27 Jun

Airport style has intrigued me since well before the age of Instagram and Snapchat, kids. (God, that makes me feel ancient!)

The main reason? I always wondered how all those celebrities looked so good even after having been stuck so long in an aircraft where the air will end up getting as stuffy and stale as in a semi-functional refrigerator. How did their clothes never look crumpled? How were their hair always so perfect?

Over the time, via a lot of hit and trial, I’ve found answers to some of my questions and in doing that, have improved my own personal “airport” style. 

Here is the first lesson that I have learned though-your “look” needs to have a perfect balance of chic, comfy and laid back. Something that looks great when you are boarding but also allows you to relax once you are on that plane!


Finding that perfect balance was the hard part but over the last few years I’ve found a go-to look for travelling and even though I still don’t manage to look as fresh as Victoria Beckham when I get off my flight, I can achieve blogger status in my post flight looks and for me that’s good enough. 

Here are my tips for getting your perfect airport look. 

Don’t wear light colours. 

No matter the length of your flight, even when you are super careful you will end up getting off the plane to find specks of stains of things you probably didn’t even touch. Even if you are super lucky and avoid that, every crinkle gets magnified in light colours and your clothes look like they have never been ironed. And have never been washed (from the overall stale air)!

Wear sweats or tights/leggings. 

Your legs, and your body needs to be able to have breathing space. Tight clothing doesn’t only cut down on that but also keeps you restricted and feeling uncomfortable. Plus, it definitely doesn’t help in your circulation to the lower limbs which is always a major concern for me on longer flights where I know my venous return is already getting compromised from the decreased activity and my posture (ok, too much medical jargon coming in). So for long flights I stick to comfy leggings or sweats!

However, for shorter flights stretchy jeans or cropped boyfriend jeans are my go to. They might not give me the space in long flights but they are “roomy” enough for shorter/domestic ones. 

Later, Layer, Layer 

For me, this has been so helpful. Because I either feel too hot or too cold while travelling. No in between. So, my go to is a loose tee with a light weight sweater , which I can remove or wear as the need be. And a jacket to layer. Stylish yet practical. 

Moreover, carrying a jacket thus has too many advantages-it warms me up when I am feeling too cold. Plus, I usually carry my heaviest jacket thus to cut down on my luggage weight. And, as my jacket collection is one of my favourite things in my wardrobe, any jacket that I fear wouldn’t be able to travel well in the luggage, I board with it. 

Most importantly, slip into the jacket when you get off your flight, and it will hide any imperfections in the rest of your look. (That’s why so many celebrities get off their flights with those cute but well covering jackets.) You will look put together no matter what the state of the rest of you is!

Keep socks 

They will keep your feet warm on the flight. But most importantly, when you walk through the security checks, slip them on and avoid having to walk completely barefoot through the line (and on that carpet)!

Keep your carry on light. 

I used to have so much in my hands I wouldn’t have the time, energy or enough free hands to focus on myself. So, now I keep it all minimal. An easy to manoeuvre carry on and a hand bag. That’s it. I keep the jacket on till I’m in the plane and then remove it or not depending on the temperature.

The girl who looks like she just walked out of the spa, not a flight? That’s one of her secrets. And I say that from personal experience!

Tie your hair. 

I used to think everyone boards the flight with their hair perfect, stays so through out and gets off thus too. I was so wrong. All I have learned is that the easiest way to keep my hair looking presentable is two tiered. Keep them in a loose bun through out (which, as a person with long hair, makes my life easier). And then brush them out and use a little dry shampoo right before landing. Because that is the only way you will look like you’ve showered in your life. Ever. 

Keep an extra pair of shoes 

And that’s the secret to all the heels you see in the “airport looks” done by your favourites. Smart girls always have an extra pair of heels on them that they pull on for boarding the flight and leaving it. Other than that, comfortable flats are all you will see them in. Always. 

Change out of those clothes 

Here is my favourite tip. It might make you feel a little extra, but, keep an extra tee in your carry on and change before landing. Especially if you know someone important is going to greet you at the airport and it has been a long flight. 

Your clothes aren’t the only factors that make up part of your airport looks, general hygiene and how fresh you look are equally important parts of the equation, so here are some tips on them!

Right after take off

Wash your face with a cleanser you prefer (get a travel-sized pack) and ensure that there is zero make-up on your face. Follow that up with a good moisturiser and an under-eye mask. 

In the flight 

Keep yourself well hydrated and avoid coffee and (if you drink) then keep their number minimum too. Drink loads of water, keep moisturising yourself and ask (nicely) for a hot towel or two to keep your hands and face completely clean. Keep breath mints with you and keep using that travel-sized perfume you brought along!  

Right before you land.

Wash your face . Brush your teeth and, if you can, floss. After refreshing yourself, use a little under eye concealer to instantly refresh your eyes. Swipe some mascara and a bit of eye liner. And you will look so much more presentable that even you will be surprised by the change! 
Cheers,

Gull

Friday Five 

24 Jun

Happy Friday everyone! This week went by in the blink of an eye and the realisation has left me with mixed emotions. Although I’m excited for what the future holds but I was having so much fun enjoying my vacations that their end is making me sad too!

However, bittersweet or not, I came across a lot many fun things this week which I’m too excited to share with you. Picking my top five was the hardest ever this time around but here they are, just for you!

1. These feminine lace-ups with the cutest details are available at the craziest (read:-ridiculously cheap) price! They are on sale though, so hurry up and get them while stocks last! (P.S. Express has an ‘up to 70% off’ sale going on so do check the whole sale out!)

 

2. This gorgeous H&M one-off-shoulder crop top that is on sale! And on trend too- we covered them in our June Style report in detail. (H&M has an ‘up to 60% off’ flash sale for today so hurry on over before you miss it!)

 

 

Kendra Scott earrings 

3. I’m in love with these Kendra Scott earrings! Honestly, they are cute but crazy, (just like my soul)! Get them here if they speak to you too!

 

 

 

J. Crew skirt

 
4. This ruffled skirt that I’ve seen on all of the best (and my favourite) fashion bloggers finally went on sale. And I couldn’t be happier!

 

Stella Sneakers

 


5. We all know white sneakers are here to stay, then why not add a little heel to them while staying comfortable and stylish? These sneakers by Stella do all that and more, giving any outfit an instant dose of edge. Get yours here!

 

Love,
Gull!

Weekend city guide-Miami edition

22 Jun

Happy Thursday everyone!

I am calling this guide a ‘mini’ one because I have only ever stayed there for two-three days max! The reason is simple, that’s the max amount of time I can spend doing ‘nothing’.

Don’t get me wrong, the endless ice-creams, the cutesy restaurants and cafes and the party scene there is pretty cool, and I love the quintessentially South Florida scene there, but as a tan person genetically, that is the max amount of sun bathing you will ever catch me doing. Ever. And when in Miami, you can not avoid the sun nor the beach-not enough, not at all!

So here is a Miami guide for anyone looking to do a small romantic getaway or a fun girls weekend there. (P.S., it is absolutely on my list for my bachelorette weekend though, like, duh.)

Where to stay

del

Delano-a view captured by their own photographer

 

Delano

 

It might be one of the priciest places to stay at in Miami, but the experience will be worth the splurge! Since it is Miami, the scene outside is the real deal-its infinity edge pool and bungalows with rainfall showers are what draw many a tourist here and the Agua Spa is like the sweet cherry on top of this deal. The suites themselves are nothing short of incredible featuring a tranquil white-on-white design scheme that will calm you to your core! My advice-stay here for one night at least! You will not regret the memories you will make!

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The Standard (source: their website)


The Standard

If you are not looking to go overboard with your hotel expenditure (read:if you want to avoid bankruptcy), or if you plan to stay for more than a couple of nights, this one is a great choice! The Standard Hotel and Spa thinks of itself more as a spa with a few guestrooms rather than the other way round and has the perfect environment to help you unwind while you vacation. In between the outdoor soaking tubs, the 90-degree hammam, the cedar sauna and the on-site juice cafe-you will be addicted!

sanctuary

The Sanctuary (taken by their photographer)


Sanctuary South Beach

This is the ideal place to book if you are on a budget and yet still want to feel like you are staying at one of the best spots in the city. Their pool specifically makes you feel like you got more than what you paid for and not only are their rooms spacious and comfy but the beach and several shopping options are close by! The trick though is to book a month or more in advance for which they offer multiple too-good-to-be-true packages.

Where to Eat

versailles.jpg

Versailles


Versailles 

This place is one of the most iconic spots of Miami, called by some even ‘the most famous Cuban restaurant in the world’, and you definitely cant leave Miami before going here

Yardbird

 

 

If you are into Southern food and that too in a farm-to-table kind of a set-up, this is a must go for you! However, it was their brunch that stole my heart. (Available for weekends only, but too good!)

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27 Resturaunt

 

27 Restaurant

The interior has a colorful, beachy vibe (complete with picnic tables, bright shelving and catchy wallpaper). The menu is a mix of Caribbean, South American and Middle Eastern cuisines, and the food is divine!

 

ms cheez

Ms. Cheezious


Ms. Cheezious

 

This place on Biscayne Boulevard is one of a kind for one special reason-it is dedicated to cheese. From mac and cheese to grilled cheese, they serve it all but with quirky twists and at amazing prices. Two words-must go!

Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop

Started by an actual firefighter, they offer some of the best pies in the city-and the serving size of their slices is easily good enough for two! Economical and delicious-what more could one want?

The Local house

One of the best spots for brunch in the city! Their caramelized banana pancakes with creme fraiche are amazing! Also a must try is their crab cake benedict.

 

Where to get Caffeinated 

Las Olas Cafe 

For me, leaving Miami without trying some Cuban flavor was a huge no so my trip to Las Olas Cafe was a must! And was I glad that we went there. Getting served fantastic cups of coffee in a laid-back setting is in itself worth the extra walk in the May heat but the first sip of my café con leche y azúcar made all the extra effort more than worth it!

panther

Panther Coffee

Panther Coffee 

The reason Panther Coffee Miami Beach is a favorite with both locals and tourists is that it has kind of a Starbucks vibe but with much much better coffees. Plus, while their indoor space is great for work and meetings the outdoor seating in the breezeway is great for a fun, relaxed hangout!

Cafe Demetrio

It is a quaint European style coffeehouse that has some of the best artisanal brews in the city! Housed in a 1920s building with a garden-like terrace, it also offers live music-an over all combination that gives it an old world charm and makes it perfect for an afternoon retreat! Tip-try their Cafe Leo!

Bachour

Bachour Bakery + Bistro

Bachour Bakery + Bistro

Not exactly a cafe, but their coffee was amazing. However, what made this place an instant favorite for me were their macarons and their pastries! After all, who doesn’t love freshly baked goodies with their morning coffee?

Entertainment

Other than sunbathing on the beaches, that is. 

Rent a bike and explore

Two reasons why I suggest this-one, because this is a much better option than renting a car and trying to get around because parking in Miami, especially close to the beaches, is far from fun-we spent fifty minutes looking for a spot to park and then ended up having to pay extra to a valet to park for us. Secondly, Miami is like one flat biking town, and there is not a more fun and easy way to get from one place to another. Plus there are so many cute hidden spots that you can only stumble upon if you are biking!

Shop at 

The Mall at Lincoln road
It is a pedestrian only strip of boutiques and designer shops that is a must go for anyone looking for a good shopping experience!

Boho Hunter
This place will make you feel like you came to the beach unprepared, but will kindly offer all that you forgot you needed to bring! From wrap headbands for lounging by the pool to cute woven totes to ruffled skirts, they offer everything you will need to buy and then some! (They have an online store too which is ridiculously good!)

Books and books and Taschen (the later is on Lincoln rd.)
These shops are must visits for book lovers, especially if you forgot to bring a book for your day at the beach!

Must See

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Art Deco District


The Art Deco district-
The colorful buildings here are world famous, and there reason is pretty obvious for the colors and ‘art’ in them will leave you inspired! It’s an especially good spot for architecture buffs!
Tip:– Head to the Art Deco Welcome Center to get a guided/self-guided tour of the district!

Wynwood Arts District
Home to plenty of art galleries, shops, bars and some really amazing street art, this area is perfect for spending a relaxed afternoon in Miami.

Little Havana-
You can’t visit Miami without a trip to the city’s famous Cuban neighborhood. Packed with cigar shops, galleries, fantastic Cuban food and Cuban coffee spots, it is an experience in itself!

Little havana

A piece of Little Havana

 

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Vicayza

Vizcaya Museum and Garden- It is a national historic landmark and once you see it for yourself you will know what the hype is about! The property reminds you of an Italian villa and is a perfect spot for walking around, taking in some beautiful views and escaping the city’s hustle and bustle!

Must do

Kayak at Oleta River State Park
If you want to experience part of the natural beauty in the area, this park is a good way for that! For a non-sport-loving person like me (no shame, girl) it was an amazing spot for picnicking but locals suggested that the real way to see the park’s beauty was via kayaking! So do give it a try!

Jet-Ski-
How can you not when you are so close to such beautiful waters? There are multiple rental companies to use for this ‘must-do’, though
American WaterSports is usually the safest option. (Full disclosure-I might know how to swim, but huge water bodies scare me so I didn’t even go close to any of the jet skis!)

Enjoy the sunset from the South Point Park-
It is honestly the best spot to catch the sunset, both picturesque (think walkways, benches, green spaces) and relaxing!

Visit Key West
If you have an extra day on your hands, spend it in Key West. The beaches are less crowded and the views even prettier! Plus its famous coral reefs are ideal for activities like snorkeling and diving!

 

For your sweet tooth

bianco

Bianco Gelato


Bianco Gelato

For the absolute best gelato, you have to head here! Not only because of the taste but also because the owners are very quality conscious. Plus, they have so many options that it will leave you astounded-including even dairy-free ones!

 

Azucar-

Acuzar

 

Azucar ice cream

If you are amongst those who prefer their ice-creams to any gelato, this place should be on your list. Not only are their flavors incredible but they also make fresh ice-cream daily! It is located in Little Havana so try it out while you are touring the place!

Ella

This pop-up cafe is made for sugar lovers, or at least their buttermilk pancakes will make you feel so! A perfect spot for breakfast or for a grab-and-go sweet treat!

 

I hope next time you plan a visit to Miami, this guide will prove helpful to you! 

Lots of Love,
Gull.

Ten things I learned in New York

17 Jun

I love love love New York. 

Honestly speaking I am absolutely addicted to the city. The pace, the energy, the constant inspiration from every direction that can at times push your mind into overdrive, but usually keeps making you do your best-it is honestly a city where you feel like no dream of yours is out of your reach.

However, more than that, the city is always going to have a special place in my heart for it saw me stumble through a long month as I made my way around it on my own- adventuring, learning, falling and picking myself back up. At the end of that month though I felt like I could relate with Alicia when she crooned the iconic lyrics. The streets did “make me feel brand new” in a way that I can’t explain, and I felt more inspired there than I had ever before.

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Today I am going to share with you some of the lessons that I learned during that month, hoping that some of you will be able to make good use of all that I stumbled upon during my (mis)adventures in New York!

  1. Don’t shy away from asking for help. A smile and a kind “hello” opened up so  many wonderful conversations for me and is one of the main reasons I was able to see a side of NY I had never been able to when I visited it for those four/five days, going to only the mainstream ‘touristy’ spots. A quick question for some advice led me to see/eat at/experience the spots the New York-ers preferred (the ones that weren’t madly crowded by tourists) and I love NY all the more because of those experiences!

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    The (at times creepy) subway

  2. The Subway wasn’t difficult to figure out. At all. It took me a day to get the correct feel of it, and a week to learn the names of all the pertinent stops and even to learn the difference between SoHo, NoLIta etc. Besides, google maps was honestly a life saver for me when all else failed. BUT. Don’t rely on those around you in the subways to guide you correctly. I realized within a couple of days that most of them were either new to the city or tourists and more often than not gave me incorrect advice.
  3. Some of the best places to eat at are in Brooklyn. The place is full of hidden gems including some of the best bakeries (with some of the best bagels) ever! (More on that in an upcoming post.)
  4. Do not leave your house without your ID. Honestly, never ever take the risk!

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    SoHo

  5. The best place to shop in New York is SoHo. Some of the best bakeries and cutest/most hip cafes are in NoLIta and SoHo. Also, you can find some of the best photo-ops in SoHo! My advice, in short, is that even if you are there for only a couple of days, have one meal in SoHo at least. (I will be covering the best spots for that in an upcoming post!)
  6. West Village has the most laid back vibes and is infinitely chic at the same time with some of the cutest bookstores and shopsAlso, because the architecture here is beyond amazing and the tourist flow little, it is an ideal place to get your pictures taken (without getting in the way of others or vice versa)! However, somehow I found the people here most reluctant in making eye contact or being up for a quick chat-or was that just me?
  7. Broadway bites (Greeley Square – Broadway, between 32nd and 33rd Street) might not be a year round thing but if you are there in June/July or in fall, they are a must go! The stalls there offer everything and anything from the funkiest of ice-creams to pasta to the most delicious baked goodies. (Do not go there without cash though!)

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    Le Biblioquet, Upper East Side

  8. If you want to feel glamorous, eat out at a restaurant in Upper East side or shop their. Both experiences for me have been unforgettable.

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    Times Square

  9. Although Times Square is definitely overrated, (I mean the amount of people there give anxiety to my claustrophobia prone self), if you can, stay there late into the night, for a better, more memorable experience. The crowd thins out closer to midnight and the place is far less noisy and much more fun!

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    Central Park

  10. Put aside at least a day for Central Park. It is not a place to stop at between your morning coffee and lunch-if you want to find out why so many people fall in love with it you have to experience it-on foot, preferably. Start at one end, or even midway if you feel like you have little time and do try to cover as much area as you can (going up or down). So many people and websites will point you to the ‘tourist favored’ spots, but honestly every few steps you will come across a view to make you stop and stare-and that is what makes you fall in love with it.

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    Central Park

Bonus tip-try to rent a boat on the Lake in Central park and row your way around it. You will get to see the famous NY skyline from a completely different (and infinitely gorgeous) perspective!

Xo,
Gull 

Friday Five

17 Jun

Happy Friday everyone! Thank God the weekend is here-was said not by me because tbh I have been making such good use of my month off from med-school (i.e. I have been sleeping so much) that all my days have melted into one another and my Mondays have been as good as my Fridays!

Sorry, I get to feel this way only for three weeks once a year, hence I had to enjoy this/brag about it. However, I have also got five fab things for you today that I am sure you will love and will hopefully make you equally happy!

  1. The most gorgeous Rebecca Minkoff wrap around watch. 
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    Rebecca Minkoff wrap around wrist watch

    Honestly, I was obsessed with it the minute I saw it! It is classy, with a twist and as it doubles as great arm candy it is perfect for travelling when you need accessories but also don’t have a lot of space for too many of them!

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    The “Go Naked” Urban decay perfume oil

  2. The new Urban decay perfume oil.
    Not only does it smell divine but it comes in a travel friendly bottle that fits in your purse, is easy to use and has the cutest packaging. It is limited edition though, so hurry and buy it while stocks last!

    jewelry

    Rings from Fervor Montreal

  3. Everything from Fervor Montreal.
    Especially their Chloe collection which is delicate and colorful at the same time.  And their statement rings! Each piece is so versatile, that it can go with almost anything-a quality I always look for when packing for over-seas trips because I want jewelry that can go with more than just one of my looks!
  4. This Furla travel bag which is everything!
    The best part is that it is on sale!! And I feel this bag (or one similar to it) is a must for every fashion-lover out there! It has length adjustable straps and can act as a backpack as well as a hand bag! (I love such flexible pieces!)
  5. This lash primer that has changed my life.
    Honestly, I always thought that lash primers were the most useless make-up item ever. Till I used this one and my perspective (and life) will now never be the same. One swipe of it on my lashes followed by my mascara and it feels like I am wearing the most natural-looking fake lashes. Does that make sense? I hope it does because I mean it-everywhere you go people will be commenting on your ‘brand new lashes’!

XO,
Gull.

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