City Haul: Where We Eat and Shop in Austin *and* L.A.
This week, Claire and I are headed west. Our itinerary: Austin, L.A., and Vegas. And though we can’t really comment on the latter—you know, what happens in Vegas…—we did want to share the places we’ll be visiting in destinations #1 and #2. In fact! We told Conde Nast Traveler alllll about our go-tos, and so for the full run-down, you best click on through. —erica
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Journey to Colombia and Greece With Alexandra Koutsomitis
Let’s country-hop, shall we?
Alexandra Koutsomitis is a straight-up Manhattan girl, but her multiculti upbringing—her mom’s Colombian, and her dad’s Greek—has influenced her travels and, in turn, the designs for her killer silk scarf line Alexa Sofia. See what the (um, tri-lingual!) designer picked up during her trips to her parents’ birthplaces. —jinnie lee
“La galleria translates to the market. This is a place in Cali in El Barrio Alameda where I try to go every time I visit Colombia. It is similar to a giant flea market, but it is indoors—and they sell anything you could possibly want! There are all different sections including one for fruits and vegetables, one for meats, and another for flowers—the list goes on. The energy and colors of the market make you want to buy everything. It’s the kind of place that you always want to come back to.”
“This painting is going to be made into a scarf for my next collection, so be on the lookout!”
“Molas are Colombian tapestries that are hand-woven and designed by the Kuna people. They are beautifully intricate with incredible attention to detail and color. Molas are so beautiful and inspirational that I have framed some and have them hanging around my house.”
“I started making clutches and pillows made out of hammock material from Colombia. It is sturdy and durable—it also comes in beautiful, bright colors.”
“This is almost the whole family except for my mother, who is taking the picture. We are sitting in front of the most iconic traditional piece of architecture ever, the Acropolis. It’s one of most inspirational places—from how it was built to the intricacies of the details.”
“The beaches of Greece are so magical that they look like they are out of a dream. They are not like any other beaches you have ever seen. The color is magnificent and is the inspiration for a lot of my artwork. It is so clear that you can see everything that is below you. All those fish and octopi you see swimming around are really incredible. This photo is from a beautiful beach called Myrtos in Kefalonia.”
“I painted this fish piece on loose canvas with oil paints. The inspirations for my fish paintings come from seeing sea creatures outside of restaurants near the water. The colors of all the different fish are what really attracts me to paint them.”
“This is a small part of my collection of evil eyes that I bought in Greece—it is a well-known symbol that keeps evil spirits away. You can find them all over my house.”
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Scope Out Caroline Ventura’s Top 5 Travel Destinations
Start saving your vacation days.
Caroline Ventura, behind the ultra-understated line Brvtvs, is a jewelry whiz, but she’s also a traveler extraordinaire—seriously, her Instagram, bursting with shots of stunning docks and island huts, never fails to make us jelly. So where would she go if she could go anywhere? Explore her favorite locales below. —alisha prakash
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
“The architecture is unbelievably beautiful. All the houses face the street and seem unassuming at first, but those giant wooden doors open into some lush courtyards filled with gardens and fountains. It feels like an old colonial Spanish town, with its cobblestone streets and brightly painted facades.”
Protip: “Go have lunch at El Correo. It’s the best tortilla soup I have ever had. Ever.”
“Last summer, my husband and I drove around Northern Morocco for ten days. It is the one trip that stands out in my mind as my favorite. This is just a regular ol’ water fountain in Fes—with that tile, on a drinking fountain.”
Protip: “If you find yourself in Fes and can manage to find your way around the Medina (you’ll get lost—it’s an insane maze that is next to impossible to navigate, but that’s half the fun), go to the Palais Amani and treat yourself to their hammam (spa!).”
“I fell hard for Rome when I took a family vacation there when I was 11, and it has been a torrid love affair ever since. The ancientness of this city gets me every time. I love it so much that I named my jewelry line after one of the Empire’s most notorious characters.”
Protip: “One of my favorite memories is from the first time I visited. My parents and I got stuck in a rainstorm and had to take shelter in a teeny little restaurant on the northeast corner of Piazza Navona. It was the first time I tried spaghetti carbonara, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since.”
“There is something about the air up in Maine that is otherworldly. It makes your lungs feel alive. I’ve visited Portland a few times and really love that it feels like a quaint little fishing village but has a bit of a city vibe to it.”
Protip: “My favorite place to go to in Maine is Eventide Oyster Co. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, seeing as it was probably plucked from the ocean that morning. Splitting a dozen oysters and a martini is the best way to start a meal there.”
“Tofino is like the Maine of the West Coast. I can’t think of any other way of describing it than, ‘Shit, this place is bananas.’ You have to take a teeny propeller plane to get to the island, so if you’re afraid of flying, maybe pack some valium because my pilot liked to swoop down along the mountains as we were coming in, which was awesome. Second, bring lots of film (or an extra memory card) because you won’t be able to put your camera down.”
Protip: “Book a room at the Wickaninnish Inn. I was lucky enough to stay here as part of a job I was working on, and this place is incredible. Bathtub in the bedroom—enough said.”
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Get Outta Town: 52 Designer-Fueled Travel Guides That’ll Help You Plan a Great Escape
Harper Poe of Proud Mary will show you the way…
Are you looking for someone to lead you to the best junk barns in Maine or the coolest bars in Buenos Aires? Well, YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. Below, insider-y tips for trips around the world—one for each week of the year, even—alphabetized for your scrolling pleasure. —erica
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Dane Glorious: 9 Places Erica Thinks You’ve Gotta Go in Copenhagen
You guys! I just got back from Copenhagen. Like, on Sunday. My fiancé and I chilled there for a week (before he started a three-week-long econometrics course—yah, whoa—at the university there). The city’s as nice and liveable and design-y and delicious as you’ve heard it is. And while it’s all so FRESH IN MY MIND, I wanted to share the spots I think you should most definitely hit—besides Rundetårn, Tivoli, Christiania, and the other guide-book classics—if you’re in the market for a Scandinavian adventure. —erica
Meyers: Quickly became our who-cares-about-health-on-vacation breakfast spot.
Word is, the hindbærsnitter—described by Bon Appetit as the best raspberry Pop-Tart ever—is where it’s at, but our vote goes to the thing that looks like cinnamon focaccia, which puts Cinnabon to shame. The bakery’s on this cute cobblestoned street Jægersborggade in the city’s Nørrebro neighborhood, where we stayed. And it’s like a two-minute walk to Assistens Kirkegard—the cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard are buried that’s a prime spot for picnicking.
Cocktails! Delicious ones! We went early and sat at the bar and watched the boats on the canal. The Summer and Ale was awesome (gin + cynar + elderflower + lemon + IPA), and there was a drink involving fresh passion fruit that—shhh—was not on the menu.
Yes, I’m ready to move into the Hay shop.
DANG. If Japan’s Muji and France’s Merci had a little Before Sunrise-style encounter in Denmark, you’d get Hay. This 10-year-old design company has a couple of outposts around town, but go to the sun-drenched, two-story one called Hay House, and let me know how many tea towels, office supplies, and little glasses you take home—and how many pieces of furniture you mourn having to leave behind.
No, we didn’t go to Noma—so stop asking. We did, however, throw down for Relæ, which is from one of the vaunted restaurant’s alums (who also cooked at El Bulli, NBD). One bite into a dish of mind-blowingly delicious cooked sunflower seeds, and we knew we’d made the right decision.
Mikkeller has some good labels, huh?
Mikkeller & Friends
This does not feel like a beer bar at all—and that’s a total compliment. It’s open and airy, all pale wood and seafoam. Oh, yah, and there are 40 beers on tap from the super-buzzy brewery and its, you know, friends. While you’re there, you have to go to the attached shop to see all the pretty bottles.
You know what I learned? That Danes really love a suntan, and that they all hop on their bikes and head to this city beach when they have some free time. When we went, there was a farm stand selling watermelon wedges that really hit the spot.
Just a diving board reaching out toward the water that the Lousiana.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The artwork here’s top-notch (Yves Klein, Henry Moore, Picasso), but it’s the setting that makes is absolutely worth the 45-minute trip outside the city. It’s right on the ocean with these ridiculously manicured lawns—a definition-of-picturesque sort of thing. Bring a lunch and sit on the grass or get in line for the classy-looking buffet, which was mobbed by noon.
(Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk)
Don’t let the big cow presiding over the place confuse you: This is a fish spot. It’s in the meatpacking district—where there are actually still butcher shops, not just bars—and that setting gives it a more chilled-out vibe than it might otherwise have. There are canvas lawn chairs for drinking in the parking lot, and the mussels are really, really killer.
Klassik Moderne Møbelkunst
Just before we headed to this spot, we hit the Designmuseum Danmark, and, IMHO, this shop was way more enlightening on the Danish modernism front. There are tons of impeccable pieces from Hans J. Wegner and Poul Henningsen (superstars in that world), and the catalog the store puts out provides an impressive amount of history and context.
Tips & Tricks
+ Rent a bike. It’s shocking how much easier (slash safer) cycling is in this city than in NYC. Even the locks are simpler. My ride ran about $15/day.
+ Everyplace takes debit cards, but credit cards—that’s another story. It’s technically possible, but it requires a whole conversation each time you go to pay with plastic sans PIN.
+ We didn’t encounter a single person who didn’t speak English, and thank god: How to pronounce anything besides “thank you” in Danish remains a mystery to me.
+ Copenhagen = not cheap. At all. Save yo’ pennies.
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Behind the Road Trip That Inspired Kain Label’s Entire Summer Collection
How seventeen states and one Road Warrior RV led to some totally awesome designs.
Family road trips have the potential to really suck, but Amanda and Melanie Kain, the sister act behind the sleek, comfy clothing line Kain Label, know how to do it right. Check out eight of the truly amazing places the girls stopped on the cross-country adventure that fueled their latest collection. —monica derevjanik
Melanie: “We traveled through Pittsburgh for the Andy Warhol Museum before heading to Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania—a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built between 1936 and 1939, but it feels like a historical and contemporary house. The details and innovations he incorporated into the house show how forward-thinking he was. We loved the natural light and the burnt browns and Cherokee red seen throughout.”
Amanda: “Charleston really makes you feel that you have arrived to the genteel South. We saw dear friends get married, and the walk to the church led us right through Charleston’s gorgeous historic district at dusk. We spent the next day not hurrying anything: brunch at Husk Restaurant, a stop into Billy Reid, and a mosey around Meeting Street. That night we drove out to Folly Beach for an authentic low-country boil at The Crab Shack. We sat outside, ordered strong Long Island Iced Teas, and got seriously messy peeling shrimp and cracking crab claws.”
Melanie: “We toured the historic district during a very wet Southern storm. Luckily, it turned sunny a half hour later, and the dripping gardens started to shine. The Savannah College of Art & Design store cannot be missed—everything inside is made by current and former students. Broughton Street is also great for shopping. We found an amazing oversize photograph at Sylvester & Co. We took a drive to Tybee Island to catch a glimpse of Cockspur Island Lighthouse and Tybee Island Lighthouse.”
Amanda: “We spent a wonderful day at the Georgia Aquarium with our four-year-old niece. Out of all the incredible regional food we sampled, the hands-down best dinner of the trip was at Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South. From the In Jars starter to the decadent Georgia Coffee, it was all damn good.”
Melanie: “We had been to New Orleans before, so this time we went looking for an authentic bayou experience. Our day started with lunch at Bayou Delight, where we sat on the patio a bit nervously next to a sign that read: ‘CAUTION Alligators in Bayou; Please Do Not Feed The Alligators.’ We booked an airboat tour for the afternoon with the most hilariously endearing character named Junior. He mostly does tours in the gator-hunting off-season—and only when he feels like it. We were completely blown away by the wildlife and changing landscape. We didn’t see anyone else on the bayou, which only increased the feeling that we had entered into another, surreal world.”
Amanda: “Marfa is a total badass mix of abstract, modern art set against the unrelenting Texas prairie landscape—you can feel the landscape getting more intense the longer you stay. We first fueled up for the day with breakfast burritos at Marfa Burrito, which is two Mexican ladies cooking in their home. Then it was off to see Donald Judd’s collection and the public museum he founded, The Chinati Foundation. The best way to see it is with Ralph as your guide. His passion is a slow burn, but he will keep your energy steady for the whole day. Later, we bought vintage Bolivian blankets at the gift shop at El Cosmico, where you can stay in teepees or airstream trailers.”
Melanie: “The Land of Enchantment, indeed. Santa Fe is simply a happy place. The air in the city is already extremely fresh; driving up into the hills is a complete high. On our first morning, we stopped to buy chiles and dried lavender bunches at the farmers’ market and visited the French linen store Bon Marche at the Railyard. We spent the afternoon getting hot-stone massages and body scrubs at Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese spa high up in the mountains above the city. Then it was off to Shiprock, which we learned about from Fathom, to check out the exquisite Native American-inspired jewelry, textiles, and vintage Chieftain blankets.”
Mesa Verde National Park and Monument Valley
Amanda: “The drive from Santa Fe to Los Angeles had the most natural beauty of the entire trip. The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado has over 5,000 ancient Pueblo ruins that date back to 600 A.D. With park rangers, you climb down from the flat mesa top into the canyons to see the ruins. Monument Valley is Navajo Nation land. We stayed on the Utah side and traveled into the Arizona Valley with a Navajo guide. We spent the day in an open-top jeep to view the mesas and buttes, some of which stand 1,000 feet. Our guide’s personal history really made the day. At the end of the tour, he showed us his family’s hogan, which is the Navajo’s sacred home. It seemed like an appropriate last stop before making for home ourselves.”
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The Giveaway: Your Last Chance to Win $250 Worth of Travel-Ready Skincare c/o Fathom!
Do you like to get out of town? Do you know Fathom? If not, get it together: It’s just our very favorite resource for vacation, well, everything. And if you sign up for their newsletter today, you might just win a boatload of Earth Tu Face beauty goodness that’ll keep your skin all fresh and dewy after a run-in with airplane A/C. —erica
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The Insider: Crystal Meers
You thought you were a good traveler, with your airplane-A/C-ready socks and impressive collection of passport stamps? Well, Crystal Meers is about to put you to shame. Granted, it’s her job to: She’s the creative director of Fathom, an ah-mazing site that chronicles stories about and advice for exactly the sort of places you want to visit. Oh, and after you get over your trip envy, click here to enter our Fathom giveaway for a chance to scoop up $250 worth of skincare goodness ready to hit the road. —monica derevjanik
Q: Why is Fathom the best ever? How’d you even get your start on the team?
A: It’s all the dreamy travel inspiration you want and all the practical info you need to make it happen. I was lucky enough to work with the founders Pavia and Jeralyn over at DailyCandy where we covered the U.S. from coast to coast and was so excited for the chance to work with them again and cover the whole wide world.
Q: What’s the first trip you remember taking?
A: My very first travel memory is driving cross-country from San Francisco to New York with my parents when I was four. I remember pulling over in Texas and snapping twigs of cotton from the fields.
Q: Any great souvenirs we should know about?
A: My towels from Atelier Moro in Marrakech high on the list. They are one layer of cushy Turkish terrycloth that’s been backed with thick, red-and-aqua striped cotton and trimmed with yellow pompoms. Somehow, they don’t look tacky. I spotted them poolside at Riad El Fenn—a place I’d love to go back to.
Q: What’s the one thing you never, ever leave home without?
A: My passport—even if I’m just going away for an overnight in Ojai or a long weekend in Portland. Stashing it in my bag makes me feel ready for adventure.
Q: What’s the one place everyone needs to see?
A: There are a lot of must-sees on my list—Big Sur, Tokyo, Sea Ranch, Montauk, Paris—but I highly recommend breakfast on the patio at Verana in Yelapa, overlooking Banderas Bay. During the winter, the humpback whales hang out down there to have their babies. It’s worth waking up on the early side to watch them mess around just off the coast.
Q: Any trip you’ve taken that felt, well, underwhelming?
A: I’m saying bon voyage to cruise ships. I spent two nights on a luxury liner. Billy Joel cover band aside, I just don’t get it. May revisit this idea when I’m 90.
Q: Ok, so: Which hotel has the best beauty products?
A: Bathroom amenities are the way to my heart. It’s hard to beat Gramercy Park with Davines, Le Labo, and Mario Badescu, but Park Hyatt Tokyo is up there for its lovely Aesop collection and thoughtful extras like stretchy cotton headbands. For a while I had an excessive number of tiny Hermès soap cases I had pinched from the Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires floating around. As for homemade specialties, the lavender pumice soap from The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu will scrub any long day away.
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Globetrotting Essentials for Dudes, From the La Matera Brothers
Here’s a packing list. Now plan a trip.
Since founding La Matera— Brook and Alex Stroud’s range of belts spawned by a trip to Argentina—the brothers have found plenty of excuses to exercise their passports. These are the four things—aside from the ones the guys make, course—that Brook never leaves home without. —mattie kahn
Clockwise from top left:
Patagonia R1 Fleece
“This pullover is the most comfortable fleece I have ever owned. Lightweight and versatile, it’s the perfect pullover to layer with in the winter or wear on a cool night in the summer.”
“I first heard about this Richmond-based shirt maker while I was a senior at University of Richmond. Ledbury’s button-downs fit better than your run-of-the-mill oxford. Plus, the Italian two-fold cotton poplin they use is cool and comfortable—and it doesn’t wrinkle easily.”
Blundstone #500 Boots
“I bought these boots five years ago while traveling in Australia, and I’ve have been wearing them all the time since. Their slip-on design makes them very comfortable. They’re incredibly durable and equally suited for active use and for dinner.”
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The 7 Things the Wax + Cruz Designer Absolutely Can’t Travel Without
In other words: How to pack like a G.D. pro.
After nearly a decade of styling shoots all over the world (we’re talking glorious destinations like Peru, Morocco, and Iceland), Lauren A. Wood of the killer hat line Wax + Cruz has gotten the art of packing down to a science. Check out the items she will never, ever, ever leave behind right here. —monica derevjanik
Make Up For Ever lipstick in Moulin Rouge: “I can wear anything and put on red lipstick, and I instantly feel more feminine and ready for a night out. I paint this matte color on with a brush so it lasts extra long—and so I can stay in the lines.”
Audio-Technica headphones: “Music always adds some magic to long plane rides, cramped buses and vans, or nights alone in the hotel room. These are comfy for long periods of time, and they sound amazing. And they’re great for blocking out sound, too.”
Alexander Wang blazer: “I always bring a thin, light, wool black blazer wherever I go. This one is perfect because doesn’t wrinkle after being crunched up in bag.”
Spectrum Essentials coconut oil: “This is my favorite beauty product. It’s good for scrapes and scars, for dry hands and feet, as a hair mask, or mixed with makeup. It smells nice, too. You can have that beachy feeling in the dead of winter.”
Leatherman Juice XE6: “My dad’s a die-hard outdoorsman and had two daughters, but that didn’t stop him from giving us Swiss Army knives and sleeping bags for our birthdays. I really like this Leatherman because it has a corkscrew, a bottle opener, a file, a saw, scissors, everything. Thanks, Dad!”
Bright, lightweight scarf: “I can’t live without a scarf. I wear it around my neck, on my head, as a sarong—and use it to change under at the beach. I like the dupattas and sarongs from Matta NY, and Nomadic Thread Society has some really beautiful pieces as well.”