Category Archives: Hospitality

Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

Standard
Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

Screenshot_20171214-155354

Alaçatı is a unique Mediterranean town on Turkey’s Çeşme Peninsula, on the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its beaches, old stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, vineyards and windmills.

 

Screenshot_20171214-145718

Screenshot_20171214-155702

alacatiizkiz

Alacati made its name in the world of windsurfing and kitesurfing, with its crystal clear water and consistently steady wind for over 150 years now. The Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA) Windsurfing World Cup is held here every year in August.

Screenshot_20171214-161527

Screenshot_20171214-161354

Screenshot_20171214-160539

What stands out the most about Alacati is that it is largely undiscovered outside Turkey, yet, many Turks, including several national celebrities, spend their holidays to escape the more touristy scene in Bodrum.

34bd1e47e97f26a31d2d8cd3f450bc55--alacati-izmir-turkey

Screenshot_20171214-145736

 

maxresdefault

Quiet and sleep a beach town it lays by day, but Alacati buzzes at night!

Screenshot_20171214-155603

Screenshot_20171214-155615

The pictures do all the talking. Definitely something to consider adding to your 2018 travel itinerary!

Screenshot_20171214-145634

 

Screenshot_20171214-161553

Screenshot_20171214-145751

The best time to plan a trip is from the end of April through May or from September through October, when temperatures are still high (reaching over 20C), and prices are at their best value.

Screenshot_20171214-155641

Screenshot_20171214-155537

Screenshot_20171214-160409

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

Advertisements

Pamper yourself this New Years at Katikies Hotel – Santorini!

Standard
Pamper yourself this New Years at Katikies Hotel – Santorini!

It’s the beginning of December and I should totally be blogging about all the holiday markets from NYC to Germany – and I will! It’s actually in the works ha. Since the month has started my mind has been focused on my goals for 2018 – from chapters I am closing to opportunities I am opening – 2018 KB gets her groove back! Also, a possible separate end-of-year evaluation post I may end up doing…or I may not. I don’t know yet! Regardless – I’m working on a lot of projects that I am excited about and I need to get my passport stamped at least 3 times next year!!! I say three, but what am I kidding, my list of destinations is already at 8 and growing……:O

Actually, I need to make a public service announcement – I am looking for bloggers for my magazine. Here is my ad on craigslist (yeah, I know, CL, ew. It’s posted on other “more legit” sites as well, calm down.) If you or someone you know are interested….please contact me asap: https://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/wrg/d/super-star-intern-bloggers/6415645215.html

(Now back to my program…)

ANYWAYS…one of the many destinations I’ve got my eye on, is, umm… Greece! I know, I know, everyone goes to Greece! KB you are fabulous because you do things differently and not the same old boring and your destination list has always been unique, just like you! I know, I know — but there is a reason Greece was rated the top destination to travel to in 2017! So why the heck not! The Greek Islands are always a good idea for a variety of reasons.

screenshot_20171206-214555.png

Santorini not only won Travel & Leisure Magazines “the Best Island in Europe” award for 2017, but its resorts also snagged four of the top five slots in this competitive category. Resort competition on Santorini is fierce, as scores of hotels (even budget options) are built into the island’s volcanic cliffs, affording them panoramic Aegean Sea and island views.

Screenshot_20171207-205415

 

Screenshot_20171207-205751

Screenshot_20171207-205852

So which resort came out on top in 2017, you ask? Katikies Hotel, located in Oia, on Santorini’s northern coast. OHHH EMM GEEE!!! IT IS BREATHHHHTAKINGGGGG!!!!!!!!!

Screenshot_20171207-210526

Screenshot_20171207-210057

 

Screenshot_20171206-214610

Built into cliffs, all rooms have verandahs with sea and sunset views. Aside from the exquisite views and the atmosphere, what really distinguishes this resort from its neighbors is the top-notch service. The English translation of Katikies is ‘home,’ and, true to its name, the staff makes you feel like family.

screenshot_20171206-214703.png

Screenshot_20171206-214123

Screenshot_20171207-210109

Overlooking the Aegean Sea, this luxury hotel featuring caldera-view balconies and bright white minimalistic rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, along with minibars and Nespresso machines. Suites come with separate living areas; some bi-level. Upgraded suites offer whirlpool tubs; some provide balcony hot tubs and private pools. Butler and 24-hour room service is also available.

Screenshot_20171207-210149

Screenshot_20171207-210131

Screenshot_20171206-214733

There are 3 restaurants including upscale dining and a champagne bar. Amenities include 3 infinity pools, a gym and a chic spa offering beauty and massage treatments. Can I be real with you right now – the pools are my selling point. I mean look at them!! Add that plus that amazing Greek sunset!! That’s enough to recharge me to throw myself back into the rat race of the concrete jungle for a few months until I plan a new vacation all over again!

Screenshot_20171207-210926

Screenshot_20171207-210546

Screenshot_20171207-210440

Screenshot_20171207-210039

Okay so I lied in the title when I told you to go for New Years. I checked availability from February, March, April…booked, booked, booked. No availability until May! So just FYI – this hotel is high in demand! So plan ahead! You won’t be disappointed!

Screenshot_20171207-210355

Screenshot_20171207-210627

Screenshot_20171206-214211

Screenshot_20171206-214157

 

~Karen Bahri

 

The Coolest Accomodations near the Northern Lights

Standard
The Coolest Accomodations near the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are definitely something one must experience in life. What an incredible experience to witness with your own eyes! To get the best of it, you would want to stay at an equally incredible hotel, but of course! Nature’s most spectacular light show, the Aurora Borealis, can be viewed in a range of purpose-built spaces, from glass igloos to luxury suites. Some fun ways to experience the Northern Lights, if you can take on the cold, are snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling as well as a dog sled tour. If you are not so adventurous though, and hate the cold, here’s a list of places you really wouldn’t have to leave the comfort of to experience the Northern Lights. I broke it down to Finland, Iceland and a bonus track from Sweden, because otherwise we would be here forever!

 

FINNISH LAPLAND

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel

Screenshot_20171114-125731

Screenshot_20171114-125552

Screenshot_20171114-135743

Located on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Lapland, this resort has individual Arctic TreeHouse suites. They are housed in exclusive Scandinavian wooden design, which combines local tradition and Lappish heritage. With one side comprised of a panoramic window you get spectacular views over the treetops! The units rest on short stilts and overlook a shallow valley, with a clear view of the Northern Lights.

https://santaparkarcticworld.com/arctic-treehouse-hotel

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Screenshot_20171115-092315

Screenshot_20171115-092219

Screenshot_20171115-092254

This igloo village contains igloos made of glass, which have been designed so that windows don’t frost over or steam up. During the coldest part of the season, the accommodation range extends to traditional snow igloos, providing the option of a more authentic Lapland experience! Also, this hotel has ski-to-door access and ski equipment, bike rental and car rental are available as well as lots of other activities!

http://www.kakslauttanen.fi 

Levin Iglut

Screenshot_20171115-103743

Screenshot_20171115-103733

Screenshot_20171115-103148

This Lapland hotel also offers glass igloos from which to observe the Arctic skies in comfort. It also offers a part-subterranean Northern Lights House – complete with large windows enabling you to watch the lights play. Guests can also choose to enjoy the kaleidoscope above from the house’s private terrace, where a hot tub provides comfort from the cold winter evenings.

ICELAND

5 Million Star Hotel

When I give my five million dollar advice to people, I often say not to live life in a bubble – but this time, I’m telling you to please live life in a bubble!!

Screenshot_20171116-102532
About 1.5 to 2 hours east of Reykjavik by car, the 5 Million Star Hotel offers five individual bubble rooms to watch as the Northern Lights dance over the night sky! Each bubble—named Una, Asta, Thorunn, Valdis, and Maria—is kept inflated by a slight over-pressure from a noiseless ventilation system that also prevents humidity. They also include heating elements with a thermostat so the bubble stays warm all winter. That’s key, given the remote location of all the bubbles and the fact average daily temperatures dip to 28 degrees Fahrenheit in January. The bubbles are totally transparent, but privacy is maintained by ensuring that no other rooms ever overlook a guest’s space – also to maintain privacy, the company does not provide the exact address of the pods until after they have been booked and secured with a down payment. What an out of this world experience to be resting in your bubble as the Northern lights shine directly above you! INSANEEE!!!!

Screenshot_20171116-102831

screenshot_20171116-102550.png

Screenshot_20171116-102905

https://www.buubble.com/

ION Luxury Adventure

Screenshot_20171115-121625

Screenshot_20171115-121450

Screenshot_20171115-120938

An abandoned inn turned boutique, eco-friendly hotel in Iceland, the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel’s concrete and glass facade rises from the Icelandic landscape like a set piece in a science fiction fantasy! This amazingness is where modern design meets Iceland’s incomparable natural landscape. The hotel provides a peaceful and remote escape with stunning architecture, access to spectacular natural sights like glaciers, volcanoes, and lakes as well as amazing views of the Northern Lights.

http://ioniceland.is/

Hotel Ranga

Screenshot_20171115-122451

Screenshot_20171115-122633

Screenshot_20171115-122620

This hotel is in a geographical region that has very favorable conditions for viewing the Northern Lights. Built log-cabin style, the traditional design of this countryside hotel (two hours from Reykjavik) offers cozy and intimate interiors. Guests are met in reception by the sight of a polar bear statue towering more than 10ft-high! Upstairs, a balcony wraps around the hotel’s bar, at night providing a backdrop of twinkling stars and, if you’re lucky, the green shimmer of the Northern Lights.

https://www.hotelranga.is/

Northern Lights Inn

Screenshot_20171115-123036

Screenshot_20171115-122724

Screenshot_20171115-123007

Visitors to the Northern Lights Inn are provided with detailed aurora forecasts and enjoy impressive views from the panoramic windows of the hotel’s restaurant. The inn is just a short walk from the hot-springs of the island’s famous Blue Lagoon. If you’re lucky, you can bathe in the waters of the spring and watch as solar winds trail ribbons of green light through the thermosphere!

http://www.nli.is/welcome

SWEDEN

Icehotel

Screenshot_20171115-135306

Screenshot_20171115-135347

Screenshot_20171115-135319

Screenshot_20171115-135412

Screenshot_20171115-135542

Screenshot_20171115-135614

I am pretty sure I posted about this a while ago if you follow my Instagram (karenskaleidoscope – followwww). Icehotel is a world famous hotel and an art exhibition made entirely of ice and snow. Annually constructed, The Icehotel offers the ultimate cool accommodation! Guests can nap wrapped in thermal sleeping bags atop beds of reindeer skins, as the temperature inside hovers between -5C and -8C. There are more traditional rooms and chalets for the less adventurous. The hotel offers overnight excursions in search of the Northern Lights, and guests can choose between a snowmobile or their very own howling dog sled team! The Icehotel is famous for creating incredible sculptures of art out of the ice! Definitely something you HAVE to check out!!

https://www.icehotel.com/

This is just a small list of accommodations to consider so you can lie back, open your eyes and get lost in the intricacies of the zodiac and if possible, the kaleidoscope of the Northern Lights! The Northern Lights should be on anyone’s bucket-list who enjoy exploring the phenomenal mystery of mother nature!

-Karen Bahri

18 of the World’s Strangest town names

Standard
18 of the World’s Strangest town names

Whenever I travel to England, my flight typically goes over Ireland (I’m the type to always have the map on to see where I am traveling over) and I always notice this one town name that makes me laugh – Kilkenny, Ireland. LOL! What a name! I recently met someone from Ireland and asked him if he’s ever been to Kilkenny. He told me it’s actually a very beautiful place! I couldn’t agree more.

Screenshot_20171001-122915

Screenshot_20171001-122849

Here is a list of more odd city/town names around the world:

1. Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll and Butte, Scotland

Screenshot_20171001-213537

2. Moron, Mongolia

Fine. it’s actually “Mörön”

3. Silly, Belgium

The name of this town derives from its stream called the Sille (French) or Zulle (Dutch) and has no relation to the English world (But tell that to an American!)

4. Hot Coffee, Mississippi

Screenshot_20171001-214551

5. Egg, Austria

6. Eek, Alaska

7. Gogogogo, Madagascar

8. Disappointment Islands, French Polynesia

Screenshot_20171001-215050

Sparsely populated group of coral islands which are arid, and not especially conductive to human habitation.

9. Drama, Greece

Screenshot_20171001-215313

Screenshot_20171001-215339

Dramatically stunning!

10. Monster, Netherlands

11. Christmas Pie, Surrey, England

12. Come By Chance, Canada

13. Chicken, Alaska

Chicken, Alaska is a community founded on gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska.

14. Gofuku, Japan

15. Crapstone, UK

Screenshot_20171001-220115

16. China, Japan

Not to be confused with China, China 😛

17. Butthole Road, Doncaster, England

Screenshot_20171001-220050

Do you know anyone from there?!

and finally…

18. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales

Yes. A small village in Wales calls itself by a name with more letters than residents…

 

~Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

Sultan Cave Suites – Cappadocia, Turkey

Standard
Sultan Cave Suites – Cappadocia, Turkey

Set on a hill with breathtaking views, experience Cappadocia cave living in modern-day luxury!

Screenshot_20170924-221042

Screenshot_20170924-170052

Screenshot_20170924-170201

Screenshot_20170924-223528

Terraced above the village of Goreme, this exotic hotel offers the modern traveler a unique cave hotel experience. Relax & enjoy breathtaking views from the many stone terraces. The most picturesque experience is taken place in the early morning at sunrise, where one can bask at the sight of hot air balloons adoring the sky! You may also enjoy the panoramic view overlooking the village and surrounding valleys, mountains and the Erciyes volcano in the background. Heavenly!

Screenshot_20170924-170113

Screenshot_20170924-170142

Screenshot_20170924-215906

Screenshot_20170924-215924

Aside from the view, the hotel itself is a visual delight with each room, corner and terrace charmingly decorated with simple artifacts showing the unique history of the area.  Built over the ancient cave dwellings used for centuries by locals, all the original cave walls have been preserved and integrated harmoniously into the room designs.

Screenshot_20170924-215946

Screenshot_20170924-220002

Screenshot_20170924-220024

Screenshot_20170924-220050

Screenshot_20170924-220209

In addition to preserving local architecture, Mehmet Dasdeler (of Sultan Cave Suites) opened the Cappadocia Cultural Center in the hotel. The three gallery rooms showcase antiques from across the ages. The Cultural Center also supports local and international artists by offering classical concerts, local traditional music concerts and art exhibits by local and international artists.

Screenshot_20170924-220610

Screenshot_20170924-220925

Screenshot_20170924-220714

Screenshot_20170924-220647

Screenshot_20170924-221107

I highly recommend staying here if you are looking for a non-traditional, adventurous accommodation!

Screenshot_20170924-220734

Screenshot_20170924-221020

Screenshot_20170924-223723

Screenshot_20170924-223751

Location: 50180 Göreme Belediyesi/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

-Karen Bahri

The Prettiest Pools in the world!

Standard
The Prettiest Pools in the world!

Check out a small fraction of the most beautiful pools in the world!

 

AMIRANDES GRECOTEL EXCLUSIVE RESORT, GREECE

This Olympic-sized seawater pool is ideal for lazing in the Mediterranean sunshine!

Screenshot_20170830-204937

Screenshot_20170830-162427

HUVAFEN FUSHI, MALDIVES

With over-water dining and studded with glowing lights, this infinity pool creates the ultimate romantic atmosphere.

Screenshot_20170830-205805

Screenshot_20170830-205702

JADE MOUNTAIN RESORT, SAINT LUCIA

Jade Mountain has four infinity pools which were carefully designed as pieces of art to accent the theme of the resort. Each pool is unique in color as well as shape; ranging in sizes and accurately named based on their categories: GALAXY, SUN, MOON & STAR.

Screenshot_20170830-210513

Screenshot_20170830-162751

MARDAN PALACE, TURKEY

This 5 acre pool with a gondola is Turkish royalty at it’s finest.  It was actually voted “the largest swimming pool in Europe” by the World Tourism Awards.

Screenshot_20170830-211218

Screenshot_20170830-162851

SAN ALFONSO DEL MAR, CHILE

This, my friends, is THE WORLD’S LARGEST MAN-MADE SWIMMING POOL! Set along the coastline, it is larger than 20 olympic-sized pools and holds 66 MILLION gallons of water!

Screenshot_20170830-162935

Screenshot_20170830-212324

ALILA VILLAS, BALI

Elegant villas. Private Pools. Ocean View. Bali. MORE THAN ENOUGH SAID!

Screenshot_20170830-212918

Screenshot_20170830-163048

AQUARIA GRANDE RESIDENTIAL TOWER, MUMBAI, INDIA

O-M-G!! Imagine walking out to your balcony for a SWIM!!! Can I live here PLEASSSEEE???? INSANE!!! This is definitely my personal favorite! ❤  #floatingbalconypools #incredibleindia

Screenshot_20170830-203545

Screenshot_20170830-213058

THE LIBRARY, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND

Don’t get scared, it’s not a blood bath! The hue from the reflective walls and tiles create a blood red glow!

Screenshot_20170830-213552

Screenshot_20170830-213536

 

CHEDI SWIMMING POOL, MUSCAT, OMAN

Arabic chic at it’s finest!

Screenshot_20170830-213720

Screenshot_20170830-214255

FRIEDVOLLES LUXUS VILLA RESORT, LAUCALA ISLAND, FIJI

Luxury villas with your very own private plunge pool in an exotic atmosphere!

Screenshot_20170830-204411

Screenshot_20170830-214710

THE NATURAL SWIMMING POOL, SANTORINI, GREECE

Screenshot_20170830-215057

Screenshot_20170830-215347

Karen Bahri

 

BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

Standard
BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

An island paradise of natural exclusivity

Screenshot_20170824-210934

Screenshot_20170824-210343

Screenshot_20170824-210013

Welcome to Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara – an paradise sanctuary which respects local culture by offering an alcohol-free environment with world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence.

Screenshot_20170824-210153

Screenshot_20170824-210305

Screenshot_20170824-210532

Twenty minutes from the heart of Qatar’s vibrant capital, a luxury catamaran ferry crosses crystal clear water to reach a breathtaking island that feels a world away, while a private helicopter pad offers an exclusive arrival with a bird’s eye coastal view. Now, you are in paradise!

Screenshot_20170824-210423

Screenshot_20170824-210441

Screenshot_20170824-211033

The elegant 5-star accommodation is decorated with Arabic design and features a view of the Arabian Sea.  There are 141 rooms, suites, pool villas and over water villas setting the mood for romance and unforgettable holidays. One can take a dip into the private 800 meter beach or the 100 meter long lagoon pool. There’s even a surf pool! There are actually quite a wide range of water sports to enjoy. Leisure and entertainment also spoil you for choice, from bowling, golf and beach games by day, to VIP cinema at night.

Screenshot_20170824-210624

Screenshot_20170824-210648

Screenshot_20170824-210732

A golf course and a tennis court are available near the property. To keep the younger guests entertained, Cool Mint Children’s Club and Peppermint Teens’ Club have a wide range of toys and interactive games. The resort also boasts 9 dining options including a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves delectable fresh seafood and meat dishes in a trattoria setting. Al Nahham serves aromatic Arabic-Mediterranean cuisine with panoramic view over Doha skyline! Exotic mocktails and shisha are served by the pool bar.

Screenshot_20170824-210504

Screenshot_20170824-210834

Screenshot_20170824-210805

Each day at Anantara comes with an invitation to do it all or absolutely nothing at all. If you opt for the latter, experience how health and beauty go hand in hand with expert care, from delightful journeys in over water spa suites to holistic lifestyle programs at the dedicated wellness centre.

Screenshot_20170824-210902

Screenshot_20170824-210914

Screenshot_20170824-211001

This property is one of the top-rated locations in Doha! Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area. With world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence, at the Banana Island resort one can escape into true Arabian luxury!

Screenshot_20170824-210624

Screenshot_20170824-211121

Screenshot_20170824-210805

~Karen Bahri 

 

 

 

Three undiscovered Caribbean islands to discover now!

Standard
Three undiscovered Caribbean islands to discover now!

Screenshot_20170818-112911

Aruba, Jamaica and The Dominican Republic are a few amazing islands commonly thought about as one tries to figure out which island to explore when planning an escape to the Caribbean. The choice is limitless and you may become confused trying to figure out where to go. I have provided for you three islands under the radar that are less touristy and offer experiences that will appeal to those looking for seclusion, adventure or both; which means you will get the ultimate Caribbean vibe!

The old Caribbean; safe, friendly and charming with exquisite natural beauty both above and below her waterline.

Montserrat

Screenshot_20170818-110027

Montserrat is one of a handful of Caribbean islands still relatively untouched by mass tourism. Known as the “Emerald Isle,” Montserrat has a rich Irish heritage and is the only country outside Ireland that recognizes St. Patrick’s Day as an official holiday. Visitors even get a shamrock stamp in their passports.

Screenshot_20170818-110100

Screenshot_20170818-105952

Volcano tourism is the island’s most unique draw. Lookout spots including Jack Point Hill and Montserrat Volcano Observatory offer views of the eruption’s brute impact. The Exclusion Zone, which is the southern part of the island where eerie remains of the former capital city of Plymouth lie buried under a lunarscape of volcanic ash, looks like a modern-day Pompeii. One may become drawn by the slow rhythm, the friendly locals, the fabulous hiking and birdwatching, and the blessedly tranquil ambience.

Saba

Screenshot_20170818-110451

The mountainous island of Saba delivers a remote escape known for ecotourism, including hikes, climbs and spectacular dives.

Screenshot_20170818-110431

Screenshot_20170818-110408

The smallest island (five square miles) in the Netherlands Antilles, Saba is primarily a dormant volcano covered in rain forest. A single road (aptly named “The Road”) takes visitors to quaint cottage filled villages, where you can purchase the traditional Saba lace. Saba is ringed by coral reef, it rises sharply from the sea, with the aptly named Mount Scenery — the highest point in the Netherlands — as its misty peak.

Statia/St. Eustatius

Screenshot_20170818-111243

The quietest corner of the Dutch Caribbean, St. Eustatius, or “Statia”, is known as the Caribbean’s hidden treasure. Today, Statia’s few visitors are intrepid scuba divers, and hikers exploring its rugged, volcanic terrain.

Screenshot_20170818-111618

Screenshot_20170818-111747

Divers may discover dazzling reefs, gorgeous marine life, rusting wrecks, anchors and cannons are a few examples of what mysteries one may uncover under the sea!

Hiking is also popular on the island. Visitors can take a half-day hike to the 2,000 foot Quill National Park, a classically shaped volcano with a forest-filled crater. Orchids, fruit trees and ferns thrive in this unique environment.

A serene, old-Caribbean pace is highly felt as the sleepy island has a population of around 4,000 inhabitants!

 

-Karen Bahri

 

.

My Favorite dessert spots in New York!

Standard
My Favorite dessert spots in New York!

In an effort to be more healthy, let’s talk about what’s so unhealthy that most people love – SUGAR. I have decided to try cutting out sugar from my diet. I like sweets, but I definitely can say my sweet tooth is not crazy; and I definitely know how to control myself. If I crave sweet, I either will allow myself to have whatever sweet I am craving – because I usually know I will be satisfied after a small portion. Sometimes though, I am mean to myself and say no!

I’m not sure how deleting sugar from my diet will make me feel or how it will change me or if I even will want to or whatever, but people usually save eventually you get to a point where you don’t want sweets anymore. I am hoping this becomes my result because diabetes seems to run in my family all of the sudden (meaning all of the sudden all these older relatives of mine are telling me they have it out of like nowhere and it’s like one after another!) and I see what they go through and it’s a life I want to avoid.

Screenshot_20170813-044645

Anyways, I’m ready to experiment! This week I am going to go strict and consciously try to avoid all or as much as possible sugar I can, and then see how I feel. From there I will see if I can continue on like that (obviously with a cheat day here and there – I’m human after all!) or at least I hope I can still continue on with as much reduced sugar as possible especially during weekdays.

With that in mind, I thought let me get one last weekend of really bad sweet binging out of the way! It’s funny though because like I said, I don’t have a crazy sweet tooth, so I was almost not going to get the 1st item on my list below! But I did it for the blog 😛

Here is my list of “the best of” sweets edition in NYC!

BEST COOKIE: City Cakes

20170812_161612_001

I’m sooooo sorry all you Levain Bakery lovers. No, no & no. Levain is sooo yesterday!! Who wants to go allllll the way to the Upper West Side to stand on line for an hour for a cookie that will go hard if you leave it for the next day?

Screenshot_20170813-011020

Screenshot_20170813-011035

20170812_211249

City Cakes cookie are thick and soft! Sooo perfect and if you save some for the next day or two  (they are so freakin big, they usually take me 3 days to finish!) they still stay chewy and delicious! The bakery is so cute too! Saturday I bought the peanut butter and a chocolate chip. The peanut butter was good, but very peanut buttery. I thought there would be more chocolate in it, since it has m&m’s inside. I have tried the red velvet, peanut butter and I think the Nutella stuffed, which are all good, but their chocolate chip is my absolute favorite! Their classic chocolate chip is THE BEST IN THE CITY HANDS DOWN!

BEST ICE CREAM: Davey’s Ice Cream

Screenshot_20170813-010929

This funky ice cream parlor is right in the heart of the east village. They have really funky flavors as well, such as ‘Strong Coffee’, ‘Speculoos Chocolate Chip’ and ‘Mexican Vanilla’, which of course they let you sample, on their regular menu, but they also have seasonal/monthly flavors which are really creative and funky like ‘Black Sesame’, ‘Red Velvet Oreo’ which I tried and it was amazing, ‘Matcha’, ‘Peppermint Chip’, once they had a ‘Star Wars’ flavor, everything!

Screenshot_20170813-011202

The thing is, Davey’s Ice Cream is made on-site from raw ingredients, and you really can taste the difference! Each batch requires a four-day-long production schedule. They also sell birch house coffee, cakes, milkshakes, sundaes, home made marsh mellows (huggeee marsh mellows!) pies, cookies, ice cream sandwiches, like everything!! They have everything!! Ohh, and artisan style cones decorated with cereal and cookies! See! Everything! And all this everything that they offer is homemade and delicious! My go-to is the cookies and cream with the salted caramel sauce – omg! It’s like crack lol.

BEST (CHEESE)CAKE: Martha’s Country Bakery

Screenshot_20170813-011312

Sorry Manhattanites, you gotta come to Queens for this slice of heaven! Martha’s Bakery is located in Astoria as well as Forest Hills, Bayside and they also have a location or two in Williamburg, which is in Brooklyn. THE best cakes & desserts. It has a European touch and they have a full coffee bar. They sell cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies, tarts, macaroon, gelato and cake cake cake cake cake – a variety of sorts of cakes and cheesecakes, you name it! Have you ever heard of a blue velvet cake??? They got it!

Screenshot_20170813-043353

Screenshot_20170813-043216

Screenshot_20170813-043421

Screenshot_20170813-043147

Screenshot_20170813-043452

My favorite is the apple crumb cheesecake. The bottom half is filled with apple pie filling, the middle with creamy, amazing cheesecake, and it’s topped off with cinammony crumble. I’m so glad the location in my neighborhood is on the complete other side, making it difficult for me to run on over whenever I crave that cheesecake! I must add the desserts are so pretty and the space has a very Euro vibe. It’s also very cozy and clean.

If coming out to the boroughs is such a thang for you, the best alternative in Manhattan I would say is Juniors for cheesecake. There IS another place located in Soho called Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, but I have not been there yet. It’s on my list though!

BEST DOUGHNUTS: Dough

Screenshot_20170813-011120

Yum! These are so delicious! I have tried the cafe au lait and one I really love – mocha almond crunch. The doughnuts here are big and fluffy. They have cake doughnuts and regular with loads of flavors.

Screenshot_20170813-015738

The hibiscus flavor seems to be really popular. I don’t know how I feel about that and I’m not sure if I’m willing to risk it unless they were giving out free samples. Maybe I’m missing out? Maybe one day I’ll decide to try it. Maybe that day I’ll be angry I wasted $5 on a doughnut that was weird.

BEST POPSICLE: La Newyorkina

20170630_172611

Wepaaa!! This place is soooo cute!!! As a non-Latina, the first time I walked in here I was so overwhelmed and confused. So I came back with a Latina and had her translate 😛 They have Mexican ice cream flavors, popsicles, frozen yogurts, ect.  We both got the mango chili palettes (Mango ice pops).

20170630_171843

20170630_171918

20170630_171857

20170630_172725

20170630_172648

They have these tubs of chili randomly left around that you can sprinkle on your ice pop. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. I am tempted to type that sentence again, but I think you get the picture 🙂

BEST HOT CHOCOLATE: Jacques Torres

Screenshot_20170813-015413

Back in January I was at City Bakery and tried their hot chocolate, although it was similar, it got cold quick and lost its je ne said quoi. So Jacque Torres, to me, is still the best.

Screenshot_20170813-015108

Screenshot_20170813-015548

Screenshot_20170813-015455

Honestly, I am not a hot chocolate fan. I was introduced to JT in 2010 when I was working down in Tribeca and a coworker was raving about it so much. It was a block or two down from our office, so one day she took me and I had never tried hot chocolate like this before! It’s literally thick, melted chocolate! You can choose regular, or ‘Wicked’. I prefer the regular. They have handmade, artisan chocolates, which make perfect gifts! There several locations throughout the city and Mr. Torres has even recently opened a museum!

BEST LATTE: Coffeecake Corner

Screenshot_20170813-011804

Only Because they have a peanut butter mocha and although it’s pretty small inside, the few times I came here I could always find a seat! I usually don’t drink latte’s either. If I get a latte it’s usually some type of soy mocha and I usually end up throwing it out after a few sips.

Screenshot_20170813-021008

Screenshot_20170813-040457

Screenshot_20170813-020946

This though, is definitely a treat! As far as coffee goes, I am not sure. I cannot find my absolute favorite when it comes to actual coffee. I do enjoy illy coffee but a lot of coffee shops are just decent. I hate to admit it but lately my go-to has been cart coffee on weekday mornings. I actually enjoy it more than any other independent coffee shop or you know, Starbucks.

Screenshot_20170813-044757

These are my top favorite desserts and my top favorite places FOR those desserts in the city. Sorry I gotta say sayonara to them for now! I do believe in cheating here and there, with control, but my goal is to make those cheat cravings become less often than before. But if you are not watching your sugar (something I am not encouraging but you are an adult!) or you do come to New York on holiday (holidays = excuse to cheat on your diet!), definitely try out these places! I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

-Karen Bahri

 

Italy’s most Underrated destinations

Standard
Italy’s most Underrated destinations

20170730_210557

Ahhh Italy!!! Italy is such an amazing and beautiful country where there are sooo many famous cities/towns you have to check out. It’s like you have to take a couple months off so you can see everything! All the major cities – Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, oh my god!! Italy just doesn’t stop!!

Screenshot_20170730-204108

Screenshot_20170730-204050

Screenshot_20170730-204137

I’m about to make your Italian itinerary a bit more complicated (insert evil smile emoji) Forget the major cities…okay maybe not, but try for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to explore REAL Italy?! Outside the major tourist destinations? Wouldn’t it be cool to get lost and see what Italy is REALLY like? Of course it would!! Just brush up on some Italiano and follow my list of destinations in Italy that are a little less “well known” but you get away from the crowds and actually see Italy for what it REALLY is!

MODENA

The ancient town of Modena boasts to have the best restaurant in ALL OF EUROPE (Osteria Francescana) as well as it is the hub of Italian auto making.

Screenshot_20170730-203358

Screenshot_20170730-203420

Screenshot_20170730-203503

RAVELLO

Amalfi Coast – be damned! The cliffside town of Ravello also offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea!

Screenshot_20170730-203238

Screenshot_20170730-203217

Screenshot_20170730-203159

 

SIRACUSA

Settlements in this Sicilian archeological wonderland date back as far as 734 BC! Siracusa was once the largest city in the ancient world! It is best known for its Ancient Greek ruins as well as amazing food.

Screenshot_20170730-202625

Screenshot_20170730-202849

Screenshot_20170730-203025

 

PARMA

Home of …you guessed it! Parmesan Cheese! Parma is a foodie’s paradise as it is the first Italian city to win the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy award! It is also home of one of the oldest universities in the world – Parma University.

Screenshot_20170730-202310

Screenshot_20170730-202152

Screenshot_20170730-202405

 

MATERA

This ancient city is carved into a canyon believe it or not! It is one of the oldest still-inhabited places on earth and extremely exotic to visit!

Screenshot_20170730-201710

Screenshot_20170730-201846

Screenshot_20170730-201938

 

TRIESTE

Visiting Trieste is like pretending like you are actually in Slovenia, but actually you are not! This place is filled with Viennese coffee houses and Slavic restaurants. Uncommon for Italy, Trieste is kind of a melting pot of Italian, Latin, German, Jewish and Slavic people.

Screenshot_20170730-201242

Screenshot_20170730-201210

Screenshot_20170730-201335

So now which one or ones of these places do you think you want to include on your bucket list next time you are in Italy?? Let me know! 🙂

 

-Karen Bahri