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I am currently typing this post from the beachside paradise that I am still blessed to be visiting. I know I have taken quite the hiatus from the blog as a result of this vacation, but I’m hoping that all will be forgiven as more travel time simply equates to more material to share on the blog! For those seeking some live correspondence from my travels and the hilarious debauchery that ensues, check out the Instagram account: @okafexhiu!

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Today is a very special day because it is mine and Bae’s anniversary. To celebrate the momentous occasion, I have decided to share with you the very first trip we took together. I find this to be a fitting tribute as travel is such a large component of our relationship and lifestyle–something we have come to define as the “HO Lifestyle” as it comprises both of our first initials and alludes to a very different meaning to anyone who isn’t privy its origins.

Our first trip together was quite a while before Bae officially became “Bae”. We were both living in Monaco at the time and had attended a Winter Ball with all of our friends. Naturally, the ball was followed by a long night of partying at Jimmy’z and further after-parties at the Living Room. We awoke incredibly hungover at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon the next day and went to Brasserie for some much needed food. While eating what was to be our one meal of the day we figured indulging in Happy Hour wouldn’t be the worst idea. Well into the hour of happiness and just past the point of logic, we came up with a grand plan. We hadn’t spoken to our friends since the night before, but this was normal as both of us tend to go off the grid (aka enter a sleep coma) after such epic party nights, so the best way to come back into existence would be with a 4 am snapchat of us randomly in Milan. Hilarious, right? RIGHT?! I suppose this is the point where I should inform you that within our immediate friend group the two of us are known to be the most impulsive and sensational, so the act was fitting with our character roles (hello, only-child problems).

After stopping for a quick Nutella covered waffle at the Christmas Market (obviously), we drove to my apartment so I could pick up some essentials (read: a bottle of whiskey, a pair of heels, and a going out dress) and made our way to Milan. We arrived about 3 hours later (11 PM) and checked into the first Hilton we found. While I changed into more appropriate clothing, Bae searched the bottle of whiskey for some solace as we had never gone back to his apartment and he was wearing a pair of sweatpants. “But they’re Dior…I think I can get away with them if you walk in first”  A few hours of drinking later and several awkward glances from the concierge, we finally made our way to a bar/club called Cookies. Surprisingly, Bae’s prediction about being allowed entrace was correct but he remained the creepy guy in sweatpants for the remainder of the night…and trip. We stayed at the club until the wee hours of the morning and then went to the Duomo where the above snapchat photo was taken and disseminated to all of our friends. The next day we did some shopping and relished in receiving a plethora of “WTF” responses from our friends. Moral of the story: always keep a pair of club appropriate clothing in the car and never doubt your post-happy hour instinct.

Happy Anniversary Boo! I’ve traveled the world with you and look forward to sharing new destinations, experiences, achievements, and stages of life with you. May the HO-Lifestyle forever be as lavish and impulsive as its inception.

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One of the biggest perks of living on the Côte d’Azur was the proximity to breathtaking locations. Last year we found ourselves lucky enough to experience one of the worst winters in the area since the mid-1900’s (still a far cry from the savage winters I survived living in New England); so when the warm weather finally returned everyone was fiending for some sunshine and languid beach lounging with a bottle (okay, several) of rosè. However, Bae and I happen to be incredibly vain creatures so daily gym sessions could not be forgone! Although, amendments to our daily practices could be made and there were numerous occasions when we would get in the car and start driving to the country club when suddenly and impetuous decision to visit a seaside village would be made.

On one such occasion we found ourselves at the adorable village on a cliff called Èze. We spent the day exploring the gardens and stunning views of the riviera. Thankfully the area has tons of steep climbs so our workout clothes weren’t an entire embarrassment. We spent a few hours exploring and snacking at an adorable cafe near the gardens. The day wouldn’t have been complete without sneaking onto the grounds of the famed Chèvre d’Or Hotel (Relais & Châteaux can do no wrong) and romantically defiling a plant with our initials. A perfect mini-outing in the French Riviera.

And anyone wondering if we ever made it to the gym after: the answer is always yes!

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This Amsterdam post has been sitting in my drafts for a good two weeks now–waiting to be finalized with text and witty commentary. The reason that I have been a bit hesitant with this post is because it was an uncharacteristically tame trip to Amsterdam. But it was my first trip to Amsterdam, so I suppose the perusal of major attractions requires some responsibility.

Bae and I decided to take a quick 36 hour trip to Amsterdam last summer. We were staying in Berlin at the time, so the quick trip was very simple to execute. We only had a short amount of time so we tried to get as much done without completely inundating ourselves and ruining the trip. As we had left Berlin very early the first thing we did was eat lunch and take a nap. This may sound like wasted time, but you already know how much I need adequate sleep to keep me from acting like a petulant child. After we just walked along the came upon a canal cruise sponsored by Möet, this was an obvious choice and we thoroughly enjoyed being able to take in all of the sites while being seated comfortably and drinking merrily. For dinner, I was excited to try some local cuisine but after asking around discovered that this was basically just steak and potatoes–which was totally fine, as these make up my primary food groups. We decided to try a lesser known restaurant called RED that is known for their delicious surf and turf menu and were definitely glad we did. As someone who tries to abstain from decision making, you can never go wrong with filet mignon AND lobster.

After dinner we began our usual mini bar crawl along the canals. The weather was still warm enough that we could enjoy our drinks outside and it was a particularly beautiful night. We broke up the night with romantic strolls through the Red Light District. I have to say that I found the whole experience to be completely underwhelming. I feel like I’ve seen more nudity and outrageous behavior on European and Australian beaches than in Amsterdam. Or perhaps it was all those spring breaks in Mexico… I wanted to up the ante so we bought tickets to the “Moulin Rouge Live (and Interactive) Sex Show”. There was some comedy involved, but I mainly entertained myself by trying to volunteer Bae to participate (he was not enthused). When it came down to the actual sex show it was kind of just depressing. Regardless, if you go to Amsterdam you have to go to at least one so I suggest you do.

The next day was our pre-established shopping day. As per the guidance of one of my girlfriends, we had breakfast at Bagels and Beans and it was AMAZINGGGGGG. Absolutely a must. We were quite fortuitous because this trip aligned perfectly with the major sale seasons and I believe we bought three pairs of shoes and a new suitcase (to fit the shoes). For lunch we chose this adorable Mexican restaurant overlooking the canals called Rose’s Cantina. Apparently all the dutch culture really evoked a craving for Mexican… The day was perfect and we actually ended up playing cards on the balcony of the restaurant for far too long. We ended the trip by trekking all of our luggage to the I AMSTERDAM sign, snapping a quick photo and ubering it to the airport.

Although the trip was a success, there were several things that I still want to do on the next trip: Visit the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum. Eat at Vinkeles, De Kas, and Ciel Bleu. Spend far too much time loitering in coffee shops. Check out the club scene. Visit the tulip fields and windmills as they were out of season when we went 😦

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Although I now live in Manhattan, I spent the majority of my adolescence growing up in Upstate New York. I use this term loosely, as the small town I grew up in is actually located below the “Mid-State Line” and only about two hours north of the city–but to anyone not from the area the generalization of Upstate New York is the only way to get the point across. I have come to realize that the majority of people I explain this to actually have no idea that New York State is comprised of anything other than Manhattan, but the state is massive and brimming with amazing natural beauty like lakes, waterfalls, and gentle wildlife. I only bring this up because I have the pleasure of spending my Easter holidays with my family in heart of the Catskill Mountains. Its only a short trip from my apartment, but I’ll take any excuse to travel that I can. Is anyone taking a special, envy-inducing trip for the holiday?

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The finale of the Grand Roman Adventure consisted of seeing the Colosseum (obviously) and more importantly, eating. While I normally like to check out local recommendations made by random people I meet along my travels, I do like to indulge in at least one, or five, exemplary meals. Normally, I will do my research beforehand and my go to website for this is Elite Traveler’s breakdown of the chicest restaurants around the world, broken down by city, and all normally boasting at least one Michelin Star. The choice on this particular trip was simple as the restaurant is located in one of the best hotels in the city. As we have a tendency to gravitate towards hotels with killer views and overindulgent ambiance, basically anything owned by the Relaix & Chateux group, Bae and I had considered staying at the Palazzo Manfredi for the duration of this trip. However, since the hotel is perfectly situated to overlook the Colosseum and the Imperial Forum it is tragically far from just about anything else of interest. So we decided against staying at the hotel but chose to dine at AROMA, a Michelin Star ranked restaurant located on the top floor of the Palazzo Manfredi.

The restaurant was exquisite in every way and truly deserving of a place on my list of favorite restaurants around the world. The views were stunning and we were able to get a reservation that befell the time of sunset, when the Colosseum would be illuminated by a breathtakingly gold sky. True to form and having learned absolutely nothing from his debilitating hangover, Bae dove head first into a leather bound wine menu about the size of an encyclopedia. Unfortunately, Chef Giuseppe di Lorio  has changed the menu a bit since our visit so I am unsure of what the initial plate consisted of–though obviously, lobster was a focal point. The main course was the “Entrecôte of Argentinian Kobe Beef and ‘Chianina’ beef filet with wine jus and ‘Ratte’ potatoes”. The dish was definitely one of the best entrecôtes I have experienced and perfectly cooked to my medium-rare (but mostly rare) preference, something I’ve discovered is a rarity when traveling abroad. The entire experience was perfection, to say the least, and an ideal end to my first Roman Holiday!

In case you missed it:

Roman Holiday: May 2014 Part II

Roman Holiday: May 2014 Part I