Monthly Archives: July 2011

Coolin’ Off in the Joule Pool (Dallas, TX)

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Last July, Marc gifted me with a trip to Dallas, Texas for my birthday.

We stayed at the Joule, located in the heart of Dallas. Formerly the Dallas National Bank Building, the building was constructed in 1927 and it’s one of the last remaining examples of gothic revival high-rise buildings in the city. Its location is ideal since it’s within walking distance of restaurants and nightlife.

The Joule is contemporary and perfect for any traveler who likes modern and chic style. Our room was small and boxy with next to no view at all. The bathroom was super tiny, but we absolutely loved the glass shower and sleek sink. I instantly ranked our bed a 10. The comforter was plush, the pillows met my high standards, and the linens were soft and fresh. We also enjoyed using the Bose Wave iPod dock that was conveniently placed on our nightstand.

The Joule immediately became a fine masterpiece once I saw the 10th floor pool. It extends over the edge of the building and features a glass wall that provides an excellent view of the street below. The pool area features a full bar and lounge chairs wrap around the pool. It was impossible to get a chair, but we were okay with that given the 107-degree temperature that day. We were quite content standing in the pool beneath the refreshing misters. Ladies: forget about your hair looking perfect.

Once we left the pool to go out for the night, we were impressed with the complimentary Cadillac Escalade that took us to my brother’s place in Dallas. The driver was fantastic and provided us with historical facts on the city, as well as information on where we should go out. He seemed like a true expert on the area, not just a driver. Kudos to him.

That night, we all headed over to West Village, which is located in the heart of affluent uptown. It’s an evolving dining and shopping district, an ideal location for urban dwellers. We ate at Mi Cocina and it was delicious! When you dine there, make sure you go on an empty stomach because the portions are huge. After dinner, we made a quick stop at Lemon Bar (also located in West Village) since we noticed they had a hookah patio. The hookah was okay, pretty much what we have come to expect of hookah bars. Finally, we journeyed back to the Joule to celebrate my birthday at PM Nightlife Lounge. Marc loved it! I loved it, too, because my brother and Marc kept taking turns buying me drinks!

A stay at the Joule wouldn’t be complete without dining at Charlie Palmer. We ate there for dinner one night. Regrettably, since the trip was over a year ago, I don’t recall what I ordered. I just remember that it was remarkable. In fact, I’m pretty sure I refused to let Marc have a bite (I don’t share good food).

All right, time for me to brag about a celebrity sighting when we were at the Galleria. A group of us were in Bebe shopping so I could find something fun to wear out in Dallas. Since my brother obviously wasn’t desperately trying to find an outfit in Bebe, he found a star instead. Quick hint: these boots are made for walking

YES! JESSICA SIMPSON! The jerk (my brother I love so dearly) didn’t tell me because I’d “overreact.” Luckily for me, he told Marc and, being the sweet man he is, came over to me and whispered the secret in my ear. I looked up and literally lost my breath. After a minute or so of constant staring, Marc shook me and said, “You can’t keep staring!” Oh yes, yes, I can. I didn’t approach her and I didn’t stalk her for the rest of the day, but I did watch her the entire time she shopped in Bebe!  I utterly enjoyed seeing her in person. Oh, and for the record, this was at the time she was being criticized by all the tabloids for being “fat”… Girl was not fat at all. She was likely a size 2.

Not a bad birthday present. I still owe Marc for this one!

~ Lyndsi

 

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Infamous Red Penguins @ 21c Museum Hotel

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Located in Louisville, Kentucky, 21c Museum Hotel is a 90-room property that has an industrial-style feel with exposed brick and contains a $10 million collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and video installations all by living artists. Sounded like a perfect place for us to stay, so Marc booked the hotel.

Upon our late arrival, we were greeted by a four-foot tall red penguin. This was only one of many in the fleet of red penguins at the hotel. Some could be seen outside hanging on the ledges of the hotel, while others surprised us in the hallways.


Behind the check-in desk, there were sculptures of nude children. This had high shock value. At first glance, I felt so uncomfortable that I had to look away. Once I got over the initial shock, I decided to take in all the hotel had to offer even if it meant looking at the sculptures of the young nude children.

The images and objects at this hotel challenged me to see things differently and I now have a greater appreciation for art. This hotel has a cultural soul and provides downtown Louisville with an artsy vibe. Even if you don’t choose to stay at 21c, you should definitely visit so you can take a tour of the museum. The art will really challenge your mind.

Our first stop in Louisville was the Muhammad Ali Museum. We visited on a Saturday morning and shared the museum with only one other couple. I genuinely enjoyed visiting the museum, although I have never been a huge Muhammad Ali fan. It was flooded with historical facts and featured Muhammad Ali’s amazing, yet troublesome, journey to fame. The museum is rich with history and one every tourist should visit. I felt enlightened once I left the museum and admitted to Marc that I didn’t know how much Muhammad Ali struggled on his way to fame.

Our next stop was the Louisville Slugger Museum. This was more my knack. I played softball for a good 15 years and have been an avid San Francisco Giants fan since the day I was born. As we walked toward the museum, I was instantly amazed by the height of the giant baseball bat leaning against a tall brick wall on West Main Street. After I took a few pictures with the massive bat, we toured the facility and learned about the process of making bats. My favorite part was when I saw nine SF Giants baseball bats mounted to the wall beneath a sign “2010 World Series Champions- San Francisco Giants.” Yes, I’m proud of my Giants. I also thought about walking out with Buster Posey’s bat, but decided that wouldn’t be the most brilliant idea I’ve had in my lifetime. I snapped a picture, though!The tour was very informative and I recommend visiting the museum even if you’re not a baseball fan. I’d visit just to smell the saw-dust, but I’m probably alone on that one.

A trip to Louisville wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Churchill Downs. Upon arrival, I noticed it must have been race day and I looked at Marc and said, “Oh no, we’re leaving. There’s a race and I’m not in a dress and I don’t have a hat.” He laughed and assured me all was going to be okay. We decided to go to the Kentucky Derby Museum since I had a lot of learning to do. The tickets for the tour were inexpensive and our tour guide gave us a wonderful narrated tour. We got an up-close look at the horses and I absolutely admired their strength and beauty.

Marc and I were pleasantly surprised when our tour guide told us we were about to watch a live race. I’m sure this wasn’t a big deal to Marc since this was just a small claims race and he has actually been to the Kentucky Derby. It was a big deal for me, however, since it was my first horse race. Let’s just say I can’t wait to attend the Kentucky Derby in the coming years.

Once the race finished, I had to make a trip to the gift shop to get a Churchill Downs Christmas ornament. I love collecting little ornaments of special places Marc and I have visited. It doesn’t make for the most beautiful tree, but our ornaments give our tree character and meaning. I also bought my mom Kentucky Bourbon Balls and her only complaint was that I didn’t bring home enough!

Exhausted from all the museums, we were ready to head back to our hotel and get our two free shots of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Bourbon is a bit much for me, so I only took a few sips. Marc sipped on his like a true Kentuckian and polished it off before we headed to Proof for dinner. The atmosphere was very artsy with playful animal heads mounted to the walls. My pan-seared King Salmon was absolutely delicious, as was the Dark Chocolate Terrine I ordered for dessert.

The waiter didn’t disappoint and made wonderful suggestions. Proof’s finishing touch was a plate of hot pink cotton candy that was served to us with the check. Marc poked fun at it earlier in the evening, saying, “What is that lady eating? Cotton candy? Who orders cotton candy at a place like this?” Needless to say, we devoured the cotton candy when it landed on our table. Touche.

That evening, we ventured downtown Louisville to have a little out-of-town fun. Fourth Street Live is the main area downtown loaded with chain bars and restaurants. It instantly reminded us of the Epicentre in Charlotte, but really didn’t compare to it at all. We ventured into Angel’s Rock Bar and were welcomed by scantily-clad women. We entered and, to my surprise, the bar wasn’t even half full. My drink was absolutely awful and a complete waste of money. I tossed it in the trash after taking a few sips. The music was incredibly loud so we decided to leave within 15 minutes of entering the bar. So much for the $20 cover charge.


We ventured out to go to another bar, but after looking around, we decided this place wasn’t worth losing a few hours of sleep. I’ve never seen so many bachelorette parties taking place in one area. If I were a bachelorette from the greater Louisville area, Fourth Street Live is the last place I’d want to go. I will not return to Fourth Street Live unless they do something new with it. Next time we’ll hit up the Urban Bourbon Trail!

On the way back to Charlotte, we went out of our way so I could see the beautiful horse farms. The rolling bluegrass hills were absolutely breathe-taking and they were probably my favorite part of Kentucky. The farms were grand and the fields were vast. Marc also drove me by CastlePost, a fabulous hotel that was meant to be a man’s castle, but he ran out of money and couldn’t finish building it. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a perfect trip.

~ Lyndsi

 

Austin, TX on the Horizon

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As any traveler will tell you, having trips in the pipeline is fun. Lyndsi and I will be traveling to Austin, TX for a wedding in late September. We’ll be staying in downtown Austin at the W the first night, then some villas farther out of the city for the rest of the wedding festivities. Yes, the W is ostentatious, but when you’re traveling for leisure (well, a wedding), who cares?! I enjoy hotels that are wild and have a cool vibe.

Looking forward to a trip to Austin, our first time, though Lyndsi lived in the Dallas area and we’ve visited the Big D. The music and nightlife scene has quite a reputation in Austin. We’d love to go to SXSW one year! I feel like that’s the intersection of geeks and music, nice! Stayed tuned for our full report on Austin, and more travel reports from recent trips will be coming.

~ Marc

White Out in South Beach

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Unbeknownst to me, this trip was about to change my traveling preferences forever. Prior to our trip to South Beach, I could never fathom why anyone would spend hundreds of dollars for a place to rest. I used to promise myself that no matter how much wealth I accumulated, I would NEVER abuse my money like that. I swore I’d always stay in simple, mainstream hotels. You know, the Marriott, Holiday Inn, etc. Not anymore. 

The plane ride to Miami really set the “ritzy” tone of our trip. We met an older, wise, and seemingly wealthy Chilean artist across from us. He started small talk and then Marc and I really pushed the conversation forward. We typically dislike small talk with strangers, but when we travel, we LOVE to engage others in conversation. Fellow travelers always seem to enlighten us.

Anyway, this Chilean fellow must have thought we were pretty awesome. He ended up buying us two drinks each. He was a real charming old man until he told me (in reference to Marc), “He’s a keeper. Don’t let him go.” Woah, what? Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’t he have told Marc not to let ME go? Yes, I’m still bitter at him, but he was right, Marc is a keeper.

We said farewell to our Chilean (sort of) friend and hailed a cab (not a limo, we’re not that yuppy) to the Delano Hotel. This was my first introduction to luxury hotels. OH MY GOSH. Standing in the lobby almost seemed surreal. I felt a bit like a princess.

The hotel lobby was exquisite. It featured lush, oversized furniture and the decor was quite unlike anything I had ever seen. The elevator had neon lights and the walls were mirrors (probably for all the self-absorbed people who routinely visit the Delano). When we stepped out onto our floor, we were greeted by another mirror that displayed the time and temperature. Pretty cool.

We opened the door into our room and I felt like I was entering my first all-white party. The only splash of color in our room was a green apple. The bathroom was tiny with nearly no counter space, but the rest of the room made up for it. The bed was plush and the furniture was sleek and modern.

The next day, feeling a bit like a wealthy celebrity, I strolled out of the Delano on a mission to find some Tom Ford sunglasses. I like to say the moment I purchased my Tom Fords is when I entered into yuppyhood. They go everywhere with me and when I forget them, I miss them like crazy. I believe in splurging on items I really want and I don’t regret that purchase a bit.

Once I was looking glamorous in my new shades, we made our way straight to the beautiful pool lined with palm trees. Within minutes,the humidity was about to kill me. Luckily for me, there was a sweet pool boy who came to my rescue with frozen grapes. Sounds boring, but they were absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. If you ever stay at the Delano, you absolutely have to sweat by the pool just so you can get a taste of these little things. Although, if you’re a complete conservative, I strongly suggest you forgo the pool. You won’t appreciate the many topless European women. On that note, leave the kids at home. Oh, and if you’re dating Tiger Woods, leave him at home, too.

The frozen grapes were the only freebies at the Delano. Want beach chairs? Around $50 a day. Four drinks and an appetizer served to you on the beach? Incredibly expensive. I won’t mention the exact amount because my mother may be reading this and I’d hate for her to go into cardiac arrest (you’re welcome, Mom). Oh by the way, we didn’t even get a buzz. Smuggle your own drinks onto the beach.

All criticisms aside, the Delano sparked my desire to never stay in another monotonous hotel. I absolutely loved it (minus all the additional charges) and would stay there again if I didn’t have the rule to never stay the same place twice. Next time we go to South Beach, we’ll stay at Fontainebleau because Regis stays there.

~ Lyndsi

 

Travel Case to Die For

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How fabulous is The Asprey Londoner Travel Case below? I instantly fell in love with this travel case when I was browsing online for a new suitcase. It’s $3,100. That’s only $3,000 more than I want to spend, no big deal. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the words “luxury suitcases” in my google search.

LOVE IT.

~ Lyndsi

asprey.com

Bucket List: 30 Places Before 30

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Thirty places we’d like to travel as a couple by 30:

1. Germany — Oktoberfest definitely tops the reasons why we want to visit Germany. Millions of visitors, beer heaven, and delicious german food. Plus, I have strong German roots so I have a deep desire to learn more about my heritage.

2. Hawaii  What American doesn’t want to go to Hawaii? We’d love to take a scenic helicopter tour and swim with dolphins. (Lyndsi went March 2012 but we won’t cross it off yet)

3. New York, NY – We want to see it all! Perhaps visit on New Year’s to be in on all the craziness. Though Marc may not be feeling the huge crowds.

4. Lake Tahoe, CA – One of my absolute favorite places in America. We want to stay in an awesome cabin. Or perhaps we’d settle for this tree house.

5. Las Vegas, NV – I’ve been there, but I was too young to get the whole Vegas experience. Bring it on.

6. Louisville, KY – We visited as a couple in June 2011, but I’m dying to go back to watch the Kentucky Derby. We’ll have to make that happen. (May 2012)

7. Atlanta, GA – So I can watch a SF Giants game at Turner Field. I’ve been a SF Giants fan all my life and want to watch them play in Atlanta. We both want to check out Atlanta, so a baseball game will give us an excuse to take a quick road trip. Seeing the Coca-Cola museum would also make the list.

8. Grand Canyon, AZ – I’ve been here, but I’m dying to return to walk on the skywalk since it wasn’t built when I went. Marc’s never been.

9. Whistler, BC, Canada – I’m a pretty avid snowboarder. That’s all you need to know. With all the gear we’ll be packing, I’m thinking that I should find a car rental so we don’t need to worry about space.

10. Aspen, CO – This town has it all. I’d pull out my snowboard on this trip, too.

11. Washington, DC – We’ve both been here, but not as a couple. We’d love to return one spring to see the beautiful cherry blossoms.

12. Outer Banks, NC – We’ve both wanted to visit the Outer Banks since we’ve lived in North Carolina. Hopefully this trip will happen sooner rather than later. (April 2012)

13. Lake Powell, AZ – This is my dream vacation. We’d love to get a group of 10-20 awesome friends to rent a houseboat and jet skis with us. It’d be the ultimate trip with friends. The lake has nearly 2,000 miles of coastline and it would be pretty much like boating in the Grand Canyon. The houseboat to the right would be a sweet option.

14. Chicago, IL – To experience the magnificent mile.

15. Napa Valley, CA – I’m a bit of a wino. This trip is an absolute must. (A bit? – Marc)

16. Bald Head Island, NC – We heard this is where all the yuppies vacation. We want in on that.

17. Boston, MA — To learn how to pahk the cah.

18. Austin, TX – It’s the live music capital of the world. Enough said. (October 2011)

19. Australia – Not sure we’ll make this one happen before we’re 30, but we’d love to!

20. Cape Cod, MA – No reason, we just want to check it out.

21. Alexandria & Mount Vernon, VA – Supposedly a great weekend getaway for couples.

22. Nantucket, MA – I read some girly novel based in Nantucket and now I want to visit.

23. Cape May, NJ — New Jersey is not all about waste management and the Sopranos.

24. Cumberland Island, GA – We want to experience the pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches, and wide marshes.

25. Atlantic City, NJ — The East Coast Vegas.

26. Alaska – I’m intrigued by all the wildlife. My ideal way to see Alaska would be via an Alaskan cruise.

27. Park City, UT – This would most likely be another snowboarding trip for me.

28. Yellowstone –  We want to experience Old Faithful and the hundreds of other geysers and hot springs. We also want to see all the wildlife and do all the fun outdoor activities.

29. Destin, FL – Just another beach we’d love to visit.

30. Panama City Beach, FL – Party like we’re in college.

What makes your list, did we miss anything?

~ Lyndsi

Let’s Go to Switzerland

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Little Switzerland, NC, that is. Right off the Blue Ridge Parkway (which deserves its own post) is this quaint, European-feeling town. How many places in the Carolinas can you go and feel like you’re in Europe? There is a cozy lodge and inn, in service since 1910, at this mountain resort nestled on the top of a mountain. All of the architecture is modeled after Switzerland.

And did I mention the entertaining twisty roads leading to it?

There is an open-air restaurant and bar overlooking the very scenic mountains here. We enjoyed lunch and eavesdropping on a family reunion being held there. Would we stay the night? Probably not. The rooms look very dated and tired, but the views, drive, and location for lunch makes it worthwhile. There is a pool, hot tub, tennis courts, and some shopping in the area. It is a nice day escape, or stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

~ Marc