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Maldives

Our last trip of 2016 was to the Maldives. Last year was one full of excursions, We traveled to Cameroon, Paris, Bali, Hawaii, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Lake Tahoe, Atlanta, Napa, San Francisco, Dubai, and I must say Read more

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Travel

Maldives

Posted on by Gigi in Travel Comments Off on Maldives

Our last trip of 2016 was to the Maldives. Last year was one full of excursions, We traveled to Cameroon, Paris, Bali, Hawaii, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Lake Tahoe, Atlanta, Napa, San Francisco, Dubai, and I must say beyond a doubt the Maldives was truly the highlight. I had never experienced anything quite like it and I have been a few places.

 

Mr. & Mrs. S

It was not a trip we had really planned, it was a spontaneous last minute decision that came about when our good friends invited us to join them, and instead of listening to  all the reasons we should not go, we went! Prior to our trip, I must admit I did not even know where the Maldives was located. I knew that is was a chain of islands but that is all I knew.

seaplanes take you to the various islands

Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation positioned in the Indian Ocean. There is no counterpart in the entire world in terms of its unique geography and topography. Turquoise blue waters, pearlescent sand beaches, and decadent overwater villas are just a few of the attractions that attract travelers from all over the world.

The path to to our over water villa

Welcome message when we arrived

Mr. S chilling on the side of our private pool

Our home for the week was Per Aquum Niyama a stunning resort that was a true paradise. My pictures don’t begin to showcase the beauty of this place, I was so in the moment I used my phone most of the the time, I just wanted to be present and take it all in…It was a place where we really relaxed and just enjoyed our time together with no distractions.

Here is a video though, so check it out, and be blown away as I was…

In additional to this resort being breath taking, it is the staff that really made our stay special. Everyone was so accommodating, always going beyond the call of duty to make us happy. After the first day everyone knew our name, and at breakfast my artisan latte was ready with a special message each day. Our mode of transportation around the island were cute bikes with little wooden nameplates.

 

 

my bike-

love bike riding

Mr & Mrs S

Anything you thought about, you could do here. Some of the highlights, I went scuba diving for the first time ever. What an experience. Of course I was nervous, but I did it and it was incredible. We also went snorkeling as well, colorful sea life was everywhere you looked.

of course I had to bring my gear…

Mr. S

turtle

our guide

my friend in her pink snorkeling mask…

Of course the food was delicious and they accommodated our veggie diet with no problem. Most of the time I felt as if I was on my own private island. Of course other guests were there, but most of the time it was just us…

the beach

The view

just beautiful-

This post  could go on and on…between the New Year’s Eve party which was world class, private movie on the beach with champagne and popcorn with our friends, gourmet dinners, private boat ride to another island, the spa, scuba lessons, and our butler that was there to accommodate whatever we thought about, this was truly a dream vacation- I defiantly want to go back again.

US

 

Us

The Maldives should defiantly be on your bucket list. Although we went at the last moment, it is probably a destination that you should plan for and save for. I don’t think there is a “bad” time to go, like any tropical area they get their share of rain, we had rain the day before New Year’s Eve, but other than that the weather was perfect. The flight is long, we flew LA to Dubai, Dubai to Male and then a seaplane to the island. So it is a 24 hour journey to get there, but well worth it.

I felt like a kid again…

my “young” husband

gigi

My last Latte

What places are on your bucket list? What is your favorite travel destination?

XOXO,

Gigi


Recalibrate- Post Bali

Posted on by Gigi in Travel Comments Off on Recalibrate- Post Bali
gigi

gigi

While I love traveling, coming back home and getting back to “the routine” can be difficult. We were in Bali for 10 days. Our trip was a dream! For 20 plus years I had been wanting to go there and finally the time came, just Reggie and I- sans the kids.

Funny thing is that this trip started off as a underwater photography workshop that I was going to attend with an accomplished underwater photographer that I admire, Jenna Martin, unfortunately Jenna is pregnant and had to cancel the trip, and we decided to go anyway.

Our days were filled with sunshine and sandy beaches, delectable delights and lots of exploring, sprinkled with a little shopping. Here are a few of my favorite pics from our trip.

Amandari

Amandari- This is the resort we stayed at in Ubud- All the rooms are villas and some of them have private pools- This is the main pool and I just loved the reflections.

visiting the temples

visiting the temples- everyone had to wear a sarong to enter the temples- Bali is a small island and 98% Hindu, there are 1000’s of temples and we visited quite a few.

LocaVore

LocaVore– This was a passion fruit based drink that I had a Locavore, a restaurant in Ubud that I was lucky enough to secure a reservation prior to arriving- everything they serve is from local farmers- our lunch was beautiful and delicious.

Our villa in Ubud

Our villa in Ubud- The resort is designed like a traditional Bali village in the middle of the jungle-There are about 40 rooms all gorgeous.

Reggie Bond-

Reggie “Bond”- On the way to Bali we had a day layover in Dubai, so of course we took advantage and went into the city for dinner at Atmosphere which is in the tallest building in the world-Burj Khalifa.

beach at Nusa Dua

beach at Nusa Dua- southern part of Bali-

I am looking forward to a weekend at home taking time to recalibrate and move forward on numerous projects and lists that I created on my 24 hour flight. It is amazing how being away from all normal distractions can really clear your mind. Bali is a magical place and the Balinese people are so happy and content with a very simple life, it was humbling and a reminder of what is really important at the end of the day…

Have a wonderful weekend- I will be “working” but I really looove doing what I do- so it really isn’t work.

Xoxo,

Gigi

 


Vegas Weekend

Posted on by Gigi in Travel 2 Comments
Gigi January 2016

Gigi January 2016

We spent the weekend in Las Vegas, with a few friends celebrating the January birthdays of our husbands. I have a love hate relationship with Vegas, I don’t gamble- (afraid I may be one of those who would become addicted) and at times it is just to over the top. The focus of this trip was the J Lo show at Planet Hollywood, which opened a couple nights ago, none of us had ever seen her in concert.

J Lo

J Lo

The weekend started Friday, rushing to the airport- we both worked that morning and barely made the flight. This was the one time I should have worn my slip on shoes instead of high heeled boots, but my friend told me to bring my “sexy game” on- it’s Vegas! At 56, it is not as easy to do that, it takes lots of thought and planning…what can I get away with and not look ridiculous or look as if I’m trying to hard.

my glitter boots I got in Italy

my glitter boots I got in Italy

my date night outfit-

my date night outfit-

my Princess shoe...rena caovilla

my Princess shoe…rena caovilla-one of those outlet finds that I knew would come in handy-

We checked into the Mandarin Oriental, a gorgeous property with no casino. Our room was spacious, well appointed and the bathroom was like a little spa retreat.

spa bath

spa bath

welcome tea service-

welcome tea service-

We had dinner at Twist- I was so happy that they had nice vegan options, and were so willing to accommodate our requests.

yummy salad

yummy salad

birthdays are month long celebrations...

birthdays are month long celebrations…

I had never seen J Lo in concert, but I must say she did not disappoint. She was full of energy!

The evening ended at a roulette table observing my girlfriend magically grow a hundred dollars into quite a few.

moi in the casino

moi in the casino

the posse-

the posse-

The rest of the weekend was low key, sleeping in late- something we both needed, an indulgent breakfast, a little window shopping, and spending time just doing nothing, something we rarely do…

blueberry pancakes

blueberry pancakes

crossed the bridge to mecca

crossed the bridge to mecca

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Hope you had a good weekend as well. Happy Monday!

Xoxo,

Gigi


Weekend Getaway

Posted on by Gigi in Travel Comments Off on Weekend Getaway

What are you doing this weekend? We are going to Las Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend away with Reggie.

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas

Tonight we will be having dinner at Twist and then going to J Lo’s show at Planet Hollywood Resort.

The rest of the weekend we have no agenda and I’m looking forward to that. The Mandarin Oriental will be our abode for the weekend. We are not gamblers, but there is plenty of stuff to keep us busy on the strip.

A few meanderings on the web-

Why do I want this? Even more than I want this?

So many places to go so little time…

I love short stories

I love this product.

This shoe is so so comfortable …even though it is not my typical style- but I like these.

Take time to do a little exploring this weekend…

Xoxo,

Gigi

Mr. & Mrs.

Mr. & Mrs.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gigi’s Travel Tips

Posted on by Gigi in Travel Comments Off on Gigi’s Travel Tips
gigi skiing

gigi skiing

Yesterday I returned from a whirlwind trip to Atlanta, to attend the PPA Imaging photography conference and then I went to Mammoth on a girls ski trip. Sufficed to say, I love to travel, but sometimes traveling can be stressful, especially getting through the airport process. Here are a few of my tips for making your travel experience effortless.

  1. A day before- check on your flight, print or download your boarding pass, hotel reservation, car rental or transportation and have your passport/ID handy.
  2. Make and use a packing list, I have a few that I created that really help so that I don’t forget anything. I have a photography gear list, gadget list, ski trip list, warm weather vacation list etc. that I print out prior to packing.
  3. Keep your toiletries bag packed and ready.
  4. Have a nice travel outfit that is comfortable and looks nice, I like to dress in layers-
  5. Invest in a good carry on tote that can carry your electronics, snacks, magazines, scarf, etc. pack it the day before with all your plane essentials.
    LV Tote

    LV Tote

    gucci tote

    gucci tote

    madwell tote

    madwell tote

  6. Download movies, videos, etc. on your phone or iPad .
  7. Headphones
  8. Backup Charger
  9. Bring magazines- I find cross country flights are a perfect time to get caught up.
  10. A large scarf is a must- I use mine like a small blanket- I’m glad I did not throw away all those pashminas that were so popular a few years ago. A travel pillow if you like that sort of thing-  the few times I brought one of those, there was no place to put it, and I always loose them anyway.
  11. Bring snacks/lite lunch- airport food is almost non-existent. I like to bring a couple pieces of fruit, protein bar, and tea bags.
  12. Skip 6, 7, 10 and 11 if you are flying business or first class.
  13. If you are not flying Business or first class- upgrade your flight so you can board early- I have to have my gear with me and I cannot have my bag taken due to all the overhead space being full.
    work

    work

  14. Perfume sample of your favorite scent.
  15. anti-bacterial wipes
  16. TSA Pre-check- I’m not officially signed up for this but 90% of the time this is printed on my boarding pass- really makes a difference if you a running late.
  17. Cute shoe that is easy to remove if you are not TSA Pre-check
  18. Socks or little slippers for long plane rides.
  19. Oh, and get to the airport- and allow plenty of time for the process…
  20. And lastly-be nice to the flight attendants and your fellow passengers .
    Photographer Gigi

    Photographer Gigi

    What are some of your travel tips? Do you have any trips planned for 2016? I have a few planned, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Bali, Chicago and maybe Kauai or some other tropical destination.

    XOXO Gigi


Confirmation – Guaranteed Late check-In Really? Traveling while Black.

Posted on by Gigi in American Life, Travel 4 Comments

Last week my son and I traveled east to visit colleges, seems like only yesterday I was enrolling him in pre-school.

Reggie

Reggie

I’m much more relaxed this time around, than I was with my daughter, the possibilities are varied and that makes the process interesting – the unpredictability of it all.

Reggie and a classmate at Vassar College

Reggie and a classmate at Vassar College

When I graduated back in the dark ages, I applied to two schools, Long Beach State and University of California at Riverside, I did the applications myself, filled out the financial aid forms, signed up for the SAT, which I only took once and I don’t know if they had prep courses back then, but I was not in one of them.

Both my kids have this fixation with the east coast, so our journey started in Syracuse, seeing 2 schools a day, finishing in Rhode Island.  My trip was planned down to the minute, hotels, car rentals, restaurants etc., not that I’m a paranoid person, but I am aware of my “being” in  strange remote areas. I drove during the day and checked into our hotels before dark, something about those little backroads that was a little unsettling.

So this particular day we were driving from Clinton, NY to Saratoga Springs  about a 2 hour drive, I was incredibly tired, this college process, with the interviews, and tours can take a toll on you. We finally arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Saratoga Springs, and I am greeted at the front desk, I do the typical routine present ID, credit card and my hotel confirmation number, only to be told that the hotel is completely SOLD OUT. Now remember I have been driving all day, I have to be at another school first thing in the morning, this is not what I wanted to hear.

All I got was an apology, a couple of gift cards and a reservation at another place in the town, but for some reason, something just did not “feel” right. I took my complimentary water and got in the car, when I saw a man getting out of a car with luggage, I watched as he entered the hotel, followed by yet another man also carrying luggage, I get out of my car and go back in the hotel and I observed both men getting rooms.

photo-31

“Do you need something?” the clerk says. She comes toward me, as if she does not want me to see the men getting their keys from her co-worker.

Before I knew it this is what came out of my mouth. “Did you not give me a room because I’m African-American? “What is going on here…” You said you were SOLD OUT!” I said shaking my head and taking pics with my phone.

“NO, NO , NO, you’re making me feel so baaaaad- I’m so sorry I lied.” she says. “I have to give the corporate guests the rooms first. That is what we are told to do.” she says nervously watching as I continue to take pictures.

Now I’m feeling disgusted and sick to my stomach, I’m not sure if it was a racist thing or what considering the 3 men checking in were all white, so I go from sad to mad and I tell her I’m not leaving. So she then says, “I’m going to call my manager and see what she can do…”

Moments later she comes back. “We have a one bedroom suite we can give you.” she says. “And free dinner, drinks, breakfast and anything else you want.”

I take my key and go to the room and ask myself “why?”.

Why does everything have to be so difficult? I just wanted to check into my room like all the other guests. I’m paying the same $200 plus dollars, I’m not in a set aside hotel room program. Maybe it was not “race”, but I’m willing to bet if I were a blond mom traveling with her son, I would not have been turned away. I would have been upgraded to that one bedroom suite, no questions asked…

Happy Tuesday,

Xoxo,

Gigi

Gigi

Gigi

 

 


I left my Heart…(san francisco travel diary)

Posted on by Gigi in Travel Comments Off on I left my Heart…(san francisco travel diary)

After spending the summer of my 10th year in San Francisco with my great aunt Sally and uncle Henry, I fell in love with the bay area. The steep hills, crisp sea air, cable cars, shopping, dining, and the international feel of this charming little city, stole my heart.

cable car

cable car

Last weekend we celebrated my in-laws 90th birthday. We stayed in San Francisco at Hotel Palomar and had a blast, didn’t even feel the 6.0 earthquake. My mother was traveling with us and even she liked the hotel, and she is not easy to please. This was my second time staying here and I will definitely be coming back. Short list of why I liked Hotel Palomar: the animal print robes coffee tea service and wine tasting in the lobby-complimentary the funky restaurant “Dirty Habit” free wifi interesting room decor i-pod player yoga mat right in the middle of the shopping district underground parking not to expensive-

Hotel Palomar

Hotel Palomar

The lobby

The lobby

We also had 2 fabulous meals…I’m paying for it now between Kauai and San Francisco I am on my “training” diet, but it was worth it! We had a really delicious lunch at A16 an Italian spot that was fab. Everything was so fresh and they were very accommodating with taking the meat out of certain dishes, which is always nice.Sunday we had dinner at Dosa, really good modern indian food–I had a watermelon salad that was incredible.

Dosa

Dosa

We shopped for school stuff for Reggie, and walked all over downtown, stopping off in the park to catch some music.

Here are some pics from the weekend- enjoy! Xoxo, Gigi

The cutest 90 year-old couple I know...

The cutest 90 year-old couple I know…

My mom and sister-n-law Paula

My mom and sister-n-law Paula

Gigi and sister-n-laws

Gigi and sister-n-laws

Amani & Reggie

Amani & Reggie

The cousins

The cousins

10635949_10204403392943373_806217517539283424_n

bay bridge

bay bridge

Gigi & Hubby

Gigi & Hubby

Amani & Daddy

Amani & Daddy

Mr. and Mrs.RS

Mr. and Mrs.RS


Kauai

Posted on by Gigi in Travel 2 Comments
Kauai

Kauai

As much as I love packing my bags and catching a flight somewhere, I am always just as happy to come back home. We spent a week on the beautiful island of Kauai. 25 years ago we were married on this island and we have been coming back ever since then, always discovering something new.

Island fruit

Island fruit

Gigi & Hubby

Gigi & Hubby

While there I could not help but to fantasize about living on a island…What would I do, where would we go on Saturday nights, would I have a favorite tea spot? We met so many people that shared their stories of how they left the mainland and  never looked back. It was nice to be in a place where the pace is so laid back and there are none of the usual interruptions.

Common Ground

Common Ground

We drove all over the island, showed Amani and Reggie the spot where we got married, discovered a few new restaurants and visited some of our favorites.

Chapel where we got married

Chapel where we got married

 

Here’s a peak at some of the highlights of our week.

STAY

Westin Princeville- A couple years ago we got sucked into buying a timeshare here, the units a large 1 and 2 bedrooms, nicely appointed, with full kitchens, which was nice for preparing some of our meals, especially breakfast. The resort is set high on a cliff, so the closest beach is about a mile away at the St. Regis. Westin guests have excess to the beach there, and can also order stuff and charge it to your room. My kids are already trying to figure out when they can come without us…and of course bring their friends.

Beach at the St. Regis

Beach at the St. Regis

EAT

Common Ground- farm to table menu, lots of salads, smoothies, wraps – very good. I was in awe of there garden.

Kauai Grill- at the St. Regis- expensive, but beautiful sunset- worth going for drinks just for the view.

Bar Acuda- one of our favorites-tapas style, interesting combinations.

Bar Acuda

Bar Acuda

Postcards Cafe-homey comfort food-everyone was so friendly and nice.

Josselin’s Tapas-sangria cart (I’m gonna copy) tapas were okay, not much selections for vegans.

Tortilla Republic- Mexican food, that was pretty good for the islands.

Mermaids Cafe-little beach place where you order from a window and sit at picnic tables- really good thai tea made with coconut milk and nice veggie wraps.

Mermaid Cafe

Mermaid Cafe

Java Kai-nice coffee, tea and fresh juice spot.

Rainbow Living Foods- fresh salads and really good smoothies

PLAY

Na’Pali Coast – did 4 miles of the 11 mile hike-most people do the 11 miles and camp and return the next day. One of the highlights of our trip.

Biking along the beach.

island biking

island biking

Paddle Boarding

Art Walk in Wamea

Driving around the island stopping at different beaches

Kauai

Kauai

Relax, Chil-laxing and mo’ relaxing

Kauai

Kauai

SHOP

 Picked up a few Christmas ornaments (I collect them from my travels), and a cute sundress. Everything is so expensive here.

As soon as we got  back from Kauai, 8 hours later we were on another flight to San Francisco to celebrate my in-laws 90th birthdays, more on that later on this week.

As I finish this post, I will be taking my son back to school, he will be starting his senior year. I’m excited for him and what this year will reveal for him, his life journey is just beginning.

Happy Monday

Xoxo,

GIGI

Gigi in Kauai

Gigi in Kauai


KAUAI

Posted on by Gigi in Travel 3 Comments
Kauai

Kauai

We are going to KAUAI! Our first trip there was in 1988 and we fell in love with the island. Amani and Reggie will be going as well, I am cherishing these family vacations, and happy that they still want to travel with us. I’m looking forward to having no agenda.

I will be in touch from Aloha land.

XOXO,

GIGI

50's Gigi

50’s Gigi


POST BIRTHDAY-AND NO MORE REDEYE FLIGHTS IF YOU ARE OVER 50

Posted on by Gigi in Aging, My Life, Travel 1 Comment
CHARLOTTE

CHARLOTTE

The FB likes have subsided, texts are few and I have heard from all my besties via phone and even had 2 serenade me. I am officially headed toward the next milestone birthday, seems like only yesterday I was celebrating my 40th.

Gigi @ 40

Gigi @ 40

My actual birthday was business as usual, driving a 100 plus miles, taking my son to his various appointments and then home to complete the arduous packing chore. I’m going to the Jack & Jill National Convention in Charlotte, I’m typically a light packer but as I stare at this agenda with all the suggested attire, I know this is going to be complicated. I will also be the official photographer for our region, which means packing my gear as well, with no “honey do” to help me.

By the time I’m done packing everything, my lower back starts to ache at the thought of dragging, and lifting all these bags. My travel buddy Marie graciously picked me up, I don’t think I could have driven another place.  Finally settled on my “redeye” flight seat 33 d, I’m surrounded by a 2 year-old convention, and I realized I forgot my hat…suggested attire for one of the luncheons. The flight was overbooked, not an empty seat, and I was happy all the babies all fell asleep.

This will probably be my last J&J convention, my son will be graduating out next year, I am looking forward to documenting the week, of course I will post my favorites here.

BTW on another note, if you must take a “redeye” not recommended if you are over 50…heheheh to hard. Here are a few tips.

1. Drink as much water-even more than you normally drink.

2. No alcohol! I repeat No Alcohol.

3. Slather your face with your favorite supa dupa “night” cream. Don’t be concerned about what you look like, this is a “redeye”.

4. Dress confortable and warm–those pashiminas you may have stockpiled from the past are perfect for this.

5. Try to sleep…

a little tea to wake me up

a little tea to wake me up

J & J flowers at registration

J & J flowers at registration

Happy Tuesday,

XOXO,

Gigi


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