Saturday, October 29, 2016

Greece Part II: Athens

On my last afternoon in Mykonos, I decided to fly to Athens and spend a day and a half there. You can't go all the way to Greece and not see Athens! Athens is the capital of Greece, and is so beautiful, retaining the oldest history and monuments affiliated with Greece. 

 I stayed at New Hotel, located right in the center of Athens. New Hotel is owned by award winning YES! Hotels and Restaurants. New Hotel Athens offers an entirely new approach to young interior design, energetic hospitality, and outstanding customer service. The location is very convienent- you can walk to all of the tourist attractions from the hotel. 

Views of Mount Lycabettus from New Taste's outdoor terrace. 

Besides it's location, the best thing about New Hotel Athens, is the roof top restaurant, New Taste, and it's amazing views! Upon arrival, I ate dinner on the stunning rooftop that overlooks Mount Lycabettus, and the Acropolis on the opposite side. New Taste exalts delicious Mediterranian cuisine.

Views of the Acropolis from New Taste's outdoor terrace.
The chic décor inside New Taste.
On my first and only full day in Athens, I woke up early to see all of the sites I had planned on visiting. You can take cabs in Athens, but that can get very expensive. I suggest wearing comfortable sneakers and walk from monument to monument like I did. I have never walked so much in my life, but It was all worth it! I felt like a true Athenian at the end of the day. It also happened to be a rare 90 degree day in October the day I was there. 

Walking towards the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Behind me, you can see the Arch of Hadrian, which greets you before you reach the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Fun Fact: The Arch of Hadrian was contracted in Athens in 131 B.C. in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

The Arch of Hadrian. 

Here, I am standing in front of what is left of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The Acropolis can be seen in the distance.  

The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was built in Olympia, the site where the first Ancient Greek Olympic Games were held in honor of Zeus. Founded in the 8th century B.C., Olympia is an ancient site in Greece (See photo above) where the first original Olympic Games were hosted. It's extensive ruins included athletic training areas, a stadium and temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus. 

Standing in the hot sun in front of The Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

Construction of The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was complete around 456 B.C. Fun Fact: There was once a statue of Zeus inside the temple that raised to 43 feet in height. It took 12 years to complete the statue and place it inside the temple. 

I can now say that I have visited one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The seated statue of Zeus that once sat inside the temple, was made by sculptor Phidias around 435 B.C. The God Zeus was sitting on a elaborate cedar wood throne, ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold, and precious stones. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was lost and destroyed (by fire) during the 5th century AD with no copy ever being found. 

After visiting the Temple of Zeus, I walked one mile in the hot sun to the Panathenaic Stadium. The Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first ever modern day Olympics on April 6th, 1896. One of the main attractions of Athens, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. 

It was so surreal standing where the actual winners of the Olympic Games once stood.

Fun Fact: The last Olympic Games held in Athens were in August 2004.

After hiking to the very top, I wanted to capture the moment with a picture. 

View from the very top. There is a museum underneath the stadium with all of the torches from every Olympic Game. Even the most recent one from Rio, Brazil is featured there. 

I spent about an hour at the Panathenaic Stadium admiring it, taking pictures, and even sitting down to rest for a short break. I wanted to soak in the moment before leaving such a historic attraction. I headed back towards the hotel (In the general area of the Acropolis), and ate an authentic Greek lunch. There are many restaurants and souvenir shops located on the main street that is pedestrian friendly.  

The BEST pita bread I have ever eaten in my life. The Greek pita bread is served with a delicious hummus.

At around 3PM, I had finished lunch and bought a ton of souvenirs. The final destination on my list was the Acropolis of Athens. The Acropolis literally means "City built on a hill", and is the greatest and finest sanctuary of ancient Athens, dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena. It dominates the center of the modern city from the rocky hill, known as the Acropolis. The Acropolis of Athens is the most significant site in all of Greece, rich with history and full of physical reminders of the greatness of the Greek empire.

On the hike up to the Acropolis, you can see views of all of Athens, as well as the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus.

Views of Athens while hiking up to the Acropolis. 

Fun Fact: The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus was built at the time when 'drama' or 'theatre' was first being created. It's thought that the first drama was presented by Thespis in about 530 B.C. (which is where we get the word 'Thespian').

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens, which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.

Standing in front of the Erechtheion Temple. Dress by Rachel Pally.

The Parthenon is a former temple, on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered to be their patron. Construction began in 447 B.C., when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power.

Standing in front of the Parthenon. 

The Acropolis also has a museum nearby, that unfortunately, I did not have enough time to see. If you stop to take photos, the hike up to the Acropolis takes about 35-45 minutes. This also depends on how many people are there that day. It can get very crowded, but luckily I went right before sunset (right before they closed), and got amazing pictures. I don't know when I will be back in Athens, but I am so blessed to have had such a memorable and enlightening trip! Thank you so much New Hotel Athens for hosting me.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Greece Part I: Mykonos

After visiting Italy for five and a half days, (It was hard to leave!), it was time for Greece. I absolutely love everything about Greece, especially the geography and the history. Greece is basically Italy's neighbor. My first destination was Mykonos. You have to stop in Athens before flying to Greece's smaller islands. My flight from Rome to Athens was only an hour and a half, and the flight to Mykonos from Athens was a quick 25 minutes. 

 I had an unforgettable stay at one of the best resorts on the island of Mykonos, Bill & Coo Coast. Bill & Coo Coast is only a few months old, and is the sister hotel to Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge. Both five star hotels are apart of The Leading Hotels of the World. Located a few miles apart, both Bill & Coo Coast, and Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge exhibit and offer an ultra luxurious feel.  

  Bill & Coo Coast is beach front with a private beach that feels like it's your very own. The view from my suite's balcony was unbelievable, with sunny blue skies and an even bluer Aegean Sea.

A delicious breakfast of Greek pancakes, bacon, pastries, fruit, and orange juice. 

 Bill & Coo Coast is ultra modern, and secluded. You really do get full privacy at this resort. They offer a beautiful seaside, tranquil pool, Meditarranian-inspired cuisine, and it's breathtaking location has it's own beach, and is a quick ten minute drive away from Mykonos Town. 

Rosé X Chanel X The most beautiful view.

Sunglasses Chanel, Bikini Maaji. 

Private pool views from the "Bill & Coo Coast" Suite.

Opening my bottle of rosé. Cover up by Pily Q, Sandals by Sugar. 

One piece by Rachel Roy X Melissa Odabash.

I spent most of my trip exploring Mykonos TownMykonos Town is one of the coolest towns I've ever seen. The buildings and cobblestone streets are all painted white. The town is right on the water, and the further you go into the town, it becomes almost like a maze. A fun maze with tons of shops and diverse restaurants. I absolutely loved Mykonos Town and it's a must see when visiting the island of Mykonos. 

Sitting at one of the many cute outdoor restaurants in Mykonos Town. 

All white in Mykonos Town. Sunglasses by Porsche Design, Dress by Lulu's.

I visited Mykonos during is it's off-season, in the beginning of October. Mykonos is known as a party town with a vibrant nightlife scene during the Summertime (May - August). If you don't like big crowds, and lots of traffic like me, I recommend visiting in September through November, or March through April, when it is less crowded and there is less humidity. Another great thing about Mykonos is that it rarely rains. 

On my first night, I had dinner at Nobu Matsuhisa, which is the Nobu of Mykonos. Matsuhisa is located in the Belvedere Hotel. This restaurant is very cute, but small. I am sure it gets packed during their busy season. I am lucky to have experienced it when it wasn't too crowded. The food is amazing, just like every other Nobu location.  


Top by Fashion Nova, Skirt by Majorelle. 

Little Venice, Mykonos, is a small town on the water made of old historic houses. When sailors first inhabited the island from Athens, they started building houses on the water, in what is now called Little Venice. Today, the houses have been turned into chic bars and restaurants and have become a popular tourist attraction. Little Venice is very romantic, and definitely worth dining at. 

Soaking up the sun in Little Venice. 

Lunch and wine by the sea. 

The birds nearby were eyeing this plate of pasta while I was taking my picture.

A very friendly local in Mykonos Town. 

I bought these bright lime green Converse sneakers in Mykonos Town. I love the pop of color against the white town. 

Picture perfect views in every corner of the island. 

On my last day, I spent the afternoon poolside at Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge. I enjoyed a delicious lunch, a glass of rosé, and the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life. The sun is red like a ruby, and is breathtaking to watch as it slowly drops behind the hills. It's the type of sunset that is so stunning, everyone stops to watch it.

The infinity pool at Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge is iconic. As gorgeous as it looks in photos, I know it's hard to believe, but it looks even better in person. You can sit poolside and enjoy a wonderful cuisine and drinks. Then, enjoy the best sunset you have ever seen. 

Bikini by Luli Fama.

The stunning pool at Bill & Coo Suites at sea views for miles. 

I had such a wonderful time in Mykonos! Thank you again to Bill & Coo for having me. I cannot wait to come back again next year! 

Capturing the beautiful sunset. Dress by Planet Blue.  
My last sunset in Mykonos!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Italy Part II: Rome

I have always dreamed of going to Rome, the Eternal City. Rome was the second stop on my birthday trip. There is so much history in Rome, and history was the only subject that I really cared about in school. I have always been so fascinated with Ancient Rome, so being in Rome was a dream come true. Roma is definitely one of my top 3 favorite places in the world!  

I took a very short one hour flight from Milan to Rome. The drive into Rome is absolutely magical. The cab driver was pointing out landmarks, such as Palazzo Venezia, and the infamous balcony where Mussolini gave speeches during World War II. He also mentioned that all of the buildings in Central Rome were at least 200 years old. Most people don't realize how enormous Rome is. I only stayed three and a half days, and I still didn't see everything there is to see. 

 I absolutely loved my hotel, Boscolo Exedra Roma, an Autograph Collection Hotel. Boscolo Exedra Roma is a luxurious five star hotel, that exceeded my expectations. The sumptuous hotel is beyond elegant, flaunting original art and sculptures more than 200 years old on it's 18th Century exterior. The pictures above and below are views from each side of my balcony. I felt like I was in a movie standing on my balcony looking outside. Just like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.  

Views from my balcony. 

It was late afternoon when I arrived at my hotel. Naturally, I was hungry, and I wanted authentic Italian food. Boscolo Exedra Roma's main restaurant Tazio Restaurant and Bar, has amazing genuine Italian cuisine with the perfect balance between tradition and innovation. The weather was perfect, (not too hot), so I ate on the outdoor terrace that overlooks the gorgeous Fountain of the Naiads. I ordered one the best caesar salad's I've ever had in my entire life, a penne arrabiatta, and a red Merlot. I could seriously eat pasta and drink a glass (or two) of wine in Italy every day for the rest of my life and be happy. 

The Fountain of the Naiads sits right in front of the Boscolo Exedra Roma. Built in 1880, the fountain sits at the Piazza della Repubblica. 

The BEST tomato bread I have ever eaten at Tazio Restaurant and Bar.

After eating a delicious meal at my hotel, I wanted to explore the streets nearby. One of the things I love about Rome, is that there is a gelato store on every other corner. Similar to Starbucks in the U.S. The gelato in Rome is unbelievable. I will never eat gelato in the states ever again, because it will never taste or satisfy me like the authentic gelato in Italy. The gelato is life-changing!  

A fresh fruit cart near my hotel. 

Every alley and street is so photogenic. 

Dress by Guess, cuff by Kendra Scott, sunglasses by Porsche Design.

The Palazzo delle Esposizioni is a neoclassical exhibition hall, cultural center and museum on Via Nazionale, just a few blocks from my hotel. 

On my first full day, I woke up early and went to the first place I think everyone should see at least once in their lifetime - the Colosseum. The Colosseum was built in just ten years between 70-80 AD by over 60,000 slaves, and is the largest amphitheater ever built. It is estimated that the Colosseum could hold up to 50,000 - 80,000 spectors. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests, and public entertainment such as animal hunts, executions, mythological dramas, and even mock sea battles.

The Colosseum remains an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. I am obsessed with the history of the Roman Empire, so being here was a huge and satisfying check off my bucket list. I even wore my Stuart Wetizman gladiator sandals because I wanted to be able to say that I wore gladiator sandals on the same marble ground that real gladiators walked on before they were killed, or killed their opponents. 

Dress by RahiCali, shoes by Stuart Weitzman. 

Sunglasses by Dior, necklace by Shashi, bracelets by Gorjana.