CHIC PLACES: A WEEKEND IN PALM SPRINGS

I've really been extending my summer... after a whirlwind trip to Greece for my honeymoon and now a little weekend getaway in Palm Springs, the warmer temps having been ruling my content this September. As much as I love summer, I couldn't be more excited for Fall and all the fun that comes along with it. But before we get too deep into sweaters, I needed just one last adventure in the sun. The HOT desert sun. 

I went to Palm Springs for a good friend's bachelorette weekend, which was amazing. I've been a few times before and even created a little travel guide awhile back so let this recap serve as a small update. I was particularly excited about this trip because I didn't plan it, which was actually kind of a nice break and part of the reason I didn't curate much content this time. I also wanted to keep the focus on my friend and us girls having a good time, but I did share more from the weekend on my instagram stories. 

We stayed in a house, which was a perfect plan for a party of 13 ladies. In a place like Palm Springs where everything centers around the pool, it was certainly the best decision, especially with temperatures averaging around 100 degrees each day. We spent a whole day relaxing and lounging in the sun with great cocktails, Wexler's bagels and massages. Yes, I have already thanked our hostess quite a few times for the perfect planning. As expected she is a wonderful travel agent you can reach out to here


SHOP THE POST
{earrings from Zara, skirt is old, shoes sold out - similar ones linked above}


Our first dinner was at the house, prepared by a lovely couple who created a wonderful Mediterranean inspired spread and the most delicious entrees. It was a perfect first meal before a long pool day and considering the high heat that didn't stop at night. As delicious as the first dinner was, my favorite meal of the trip was at Birba, an Italian spot in downtown Palm Springs. I honestly can't even describe my love for the bread, it was some of the best I have ever had. Both the pane casereccio (ciabatta bread) and the birba pizza (prosciutto) were so good I can still taste the excitement just thinking about them. I don't even eat prosciutto and attempted to take the pieces off but either way was still so obsessed, dying for more when we left.

We had our last brunch at Chi Chi at the Avalon Hotel and Bungalows. I actually stayed here a few summers ago and had really a great time. It's super cute and less expensive than the Parker, with a similar vibe. The food is also consistently good here, I had the avocado toast but stole a few nibbles from my friend who had the potato pancakes and lox, which was also delicious but a bit too savory for my morning taste buds. 


Overall it was a short but memorable weekend. I loved that we got to celebrate our girl, while also relaxing and getting to know each other better. For anyone planning a bachelorette or vacation with a group of friends I highly recommend prioritizing some meaningful downtime by a pool, beach, house, etc. It's hard to get a bunch of people everywhere so enjoy the time together and be prepared to maybe cancel a plan here and there. Some of the best moments I've had with friends on vacation were just by the pool or in my pajamas, connecting with both new and old friends. Those are always the ones worth scheduling. 


-MGN

CHIC PLACES: THE MAGICAL STREETS OF SYROS, GREECE {PART 1}


Syros, the Nice of Greece... Perhaps even better since I didn't think Nice, France was that great to be honest. But with a glistening coastline, pastel shaded architecture and a vibrant and fresh energy, Syros stood out from the majority of the sleepy islands we visited on our sail through the Greek Isles. The capitol city in Syros, Ermoupoli, also serves as the capitol of the Cyclades region, where most of the islands we visited lie. We hadn't originally planned on coming here but given our change in plans due to weather conditions our captain recommended it. And I am so glad we came here because it actually ended up being our favorite from the trip. 


We arrived pretty early in the day as our sail from Mykonos was only a few hours long, unlike the majority of our distances between islands. And pulling up to this dreamy coastline and docking right in front of a million Easter colored chairs set the perfect tone (color and mood) for a wonderful afternoon. 


After I tied my side of the rope we immediately got dressed and ready for a lazy day of exploring a place I hadn't had a chance to fully vet ahead of time. And I suppose it was a blessing in disguise as this whole trip proved to be yet another life lesson in letting go of control and just letting things happen. 



Fortunately we found a quint little spot for coffee fairly quickly, and sat for an unlimited amount of time, as one does here in Europe, to start our big day. 




Arthur got his frappé fix and fortunately my espresso came with a little cookie, just the right amount of sugar before a day full of walking and more eating and drinking. Which is precisely what we did. 





SHOP THE POST





We spent a good amount of time walking around, exploring the city, which despite being at the capitol and fairly large in comparison to other cities we visited, still felt very quaint and cozy. There were plenty of small streets tucked away with lots of shops, cafés and restaurants. Of course when I saw the words King of Pasta, I couldn't help but bud my head in and see what was up. We decided to get a little carbonara in us as fuel to find yet another spot to sit for lunch. 


It's safe to say the King of Pasta was rightfully named and we continued on our little pre-lunch stroll, one magical alleyway after another. 




After scoping out many different alleyways we finally came across one that really caught our eye and found a perfect place to sit for lunch. There weren't many establishments open to choose from as everyone seemed to be on siesta but this charming taverna positioned right under batches of bougainvillea had some locals sitting dining in, so we figured it had to have some merit on that alone. 







Everything we had was great, nothing too special but the mandatory greek salad Arthur ordered and saganaki were a perfect follow up to our pre-lunch pasta find. We also ordered the chicken syros, which was basically chicken drenched in tomato and that was alright but nothing I remember too fondly. In terms of atmosphere, however, the place was perfect. It had all the things we were looking for in Greece; a charming setting, with few tourists and a wide reaching menu selection. It was also very well priced and in a great location, surrounded by plenty of other similar tavernas to choose from. 



After our long lunch we continued to make our way through the charming city streets until we found another perfect spot to sit again for yet another unlimited amount of time. I ordered a sugar free daiquiri that took a bit of explaining to the bartender who couldn't quite understand my request to basically blend ice, rum and lime until after a few attempts. But the result was quite delicious and probably took the same amount of effort as getting a waiter to bring me a vodka soda in a wine glass with as many garnishes as possible. Some investment on the front end but well worth the avoidance of sticky, liquid sugar in middle of the day.



And then of course, more exploring through the city. We walked up towards more of the residential areas so we could see some of the homes people live in and get a better view of the city. And all the slow climbs up were well worth it for this beautiful pink and bougainvillea drenched home we passed by. 




Eventually we decided it was time to head back to the port and take a small nap before dinner that evening. On our way back we stumbled upon Prekas Delicatessen, which had a wonderful array of fresh meats and cheeses, a huge wine selection and tons of small gourmet food goods. I of course got a sample of the San Michali cheese, which is the one most unique to Syros island. We grabbed some pink champagne and Arthur found a few meats he liked and shared our finds with the captain later that evening before dinner.




That night we headed back to the same little alleyway we found lunch in earlier, this time with our captain, and sat outside at another recommended restaurant we has seen earlier called Maritsa's Arhontariki. In addition to delicious Greek salad Arthur ordered, which had a soft cheese, which I now believe is the key to a fabulous Greek salad, I surprisingly ordered my SECOND pasta for the day. And it was delicious, as expected. Later I heard about a fabulous restaurant called Mazi, but we unfortunately had only one night here.





After dinner we continued to stroll the charming streets again, this time at night. The city was even more bright and alive as everyone loves to come back alive post siesta nap apparently. We found a nice little bar and sat outside with a drink, only to quickly bail on our vodka sodas for a gelato scoop across the street, an evening ritual that I am still attempting to break despite the fact that I have been back in Los Angeles since Labor Day. Please. Send. Help.



-MGN

SEPTEMBER INSPIRATION


Back to life, back to reality... Well it's September and I am beyond excited to jump back into a routine at home, ready to fully engage in my annual attempt to find Fall in Los Angeles. As much as I love summer, this one was A LOT, to say the least. If you haven't been paying attention I have done it all this summer: planned a wedding, moved into an unfinished condo, turned 30, got married, left the country for two weeks, welcomed my in-laws to their new home in Los Angeles; I could continue but I don't want to complain because it's all great stuff...

The bottom line, I am so happy it is September! I absolutely love this time of year when we go back to work, back to school, back to the comfort that lies in the routine of structure and sameness. The excitement and anticipation of change juxtaposed against the comfort of the holidays. Last month involved so much doing and I would like this month to really be about restoring. Restoring my energy, relationships, creativity. I am looking forward to a bit of relaxing, blogging about everything, eating carbs again, and my annual re-watch of Gilmore Girls to get into the Fall spirit.

This month I will hopefully get to sharing my wedding; it was honestly the best day yet and I can't wait to re-live the day on Gisele Chic. I am beyond excited to head to Palm Springs for a bachelorette party weekend by the pool and spend some quality time with friends celebrating our bride-to-be. I also can't wait to get back into a movie theater by myself to see The Goldfinch (once I finish reading it) and The Downton Abbey movie coming out this month!! But at the very top of my list is just getting back to the grind, quite literally I want to be coffee in hand, and get to work in a cozy sweater with the air-conditioner on and my inspiration running endlessly. Blogging, working, creating are the things that continuously drive me and I am excited to get back to just that. Hope you are all feeling a bit refreshed from summer, ready for the excitement of whatever's next. 


Shop the Post



-MGN

CHIC PLACES: AN AFTERNOON IN SANTORINI, GREECE


We had about five real hours in Santorini, the volcanic island remnant from what was originally a big island of Thira, now the absolute center of tourism in Greece. Since the ocean floor is so deep our captain was unable to anchor at sea, and the port was too full for us to dock, so we took a ferry for a super quick day trip from Milos, a nearby, amazing island. 

As originally planned our first stop on my mini agenda was this charming and beautiful restaurant called Botargo, inside a 19th century restored mansion, perched at the very top of Pyrgos. I had somehow stumbled upon this lovely establishment in my extensive research, which appears "off the beaten path" when you consider how Santorini has become synonymous with Oia, the scenic city sea-scape and most densely populated tourist destination we visited the entire trip. 

In deep contrast to Oia, Pygros was a small little town on the top of a hill, straight up from the port in Thira our ferry docked at. The former mansion turned uber chic restaurant took its place at the very top of the tiny town, with roads too small for cars, creating a bit of a climb for us.



And a climb, it was. 

I wouldn't say it was too bad but then again we were fairly used to the winding steps and narrow streets common for each historic city center, as the majority of the greek islands built their main cities at the very tip top, far away from potential intruders. 

But the restaurant had some hopeful signs posted, reassuring us we would find bliss in a fanciful cocktail and aesthetically pleasing lunch very shortly. 


And aesthetically pleasing it was. 

Despite the scenic view on the terrace, we opted for a cooler seat inside, which for me was much nicer given how much I loved the clean white interior. I would describe the decor as a minimalist take on shabby chic. And it's just what I imagine someone would want after a climb in the sun; a cool, crisp white linen respite with candles and beautiful chandeliers as the only real statement decor. 




But perhaps the most exciting detail, or at least the one that essentially brought me here given the endless amount of restaurant options in Oia, is the original ceiling fresco above the bar. 





I mean how stunning is this? Perfectly accented with a dainty chandelier, I want this somehow recreated in my home immediately. Of course my first mission after a pausing from my manic attempt at a full fledged knock-off Architectural Digest photoshoot was browsing the cocktail menu and getting myself and Arthur liquored up before he could annul our marriage due to unreconcilable restaurant induced behavioral differences.

I immediately saw my beloved French 75 among many other fanciful options and the rest was history.


I was so eager to get some champs in me that I forgot my usual French 75 cocktail modifications: limited simple syrup, served over ice in a wine glass. But we can't win them all!

The lunch menu was limited but perfect for my goals this vacation, which was to get as many pretty, caloric worthy carbohydrates in my mouth in stark contrast to Arthur's goal of eating as many Greek salads as possible. Which is like what any tourist would think is #culture but like I can get that anywhere in the States and also make it myself so whatever, fortunately, it's unlikely he will read this. 





Both the gnocchi and risotto were to die for. The bread was perfect, they homemake it and also have a special salt and olive oil to go with. And I will give them credit for the less than basic greek salad that was delicious and would be very hard for me to find in the States let alone make myself. 

When Arthur ordered a second drink I decided to play my favorite game, asking the waiter to surprise me with his best looking drink. I think I figured that such a beautiful bar would translate into the most beautiful cocktail but I wasn't too impressed with the result.

And for someone as picky as myself I really should have known better, but points for trying! 


After our lovely lunch we immediately hopped in a taxi to get to Oia, the main city tourists flock to in Santorini.

I was only there for a couple of hours so I really can't recommend much of anything and to be quite honest, we didn't have the best experience. It was hot, crowded and felt so touristy. It's a miracle I got any clear photos of the place as so many people flooded the narrow roads overrun by unimpressive shops and equally unimpressive dining options.

There were so many people taking pictures I considered ending my hobby as a lifestyle blogger in a moment of frustration before realizing I just needed to go to less overrated places. 




Aside from exploring the pretty pastel streets and wondering into some shops I hadn't really make any other strong plans as we weren't going to have time for the dinner reservation I  originally made. And since Arthur was so concerned about getting all the way back to the port on-time, he was a less than adventurous travel companion. 

So I tried to make the most of it and explore the picture perfect landscape, however, eventually I just gave up and sat us in a super touristy restaurant with a view (not vetted ahead of time) and ordered a cocktail.


Arthur was happy to sit with his vodka soda and try the shrimp saganaki we kept seeing on menus. I'm not the biggest shrimp fan but was excited about my childhood favorite, however, this dish was served with mostly tomato sauce, barely sprinkled with cheese. Not sure if this is how it's typically done or just at this unremarkable establishment, but I wasn't a big fan, especially after my small bite ended with a tomato stain on my adorable white ruffle top. 


After that we stumbled around some shops but I just couldn't get over how touristy and unoriginal everything felt. I honestly think if I had planned a bit better and spent a whole day and evening there I would have had a better experience but all in all Santorini isn't high on my list for a return visit. It's beautiful but unfortunately just too overrun with tourists, something we became unaccustomed to visiting so many small islands. 


So in anticipation of a long and traffic filled taxi ride back to the ferry port on the opposite end of the island, we left Oia very early. And of course, we ended up hitting absolutely no traffic, arriving to the port several hours ahead of our schedule departure time, which then got delayed an hour. Just. LOVELY.


Shop the Post


Of course these are the things bound to happen to anyone traveling to multiple places in short amounts of time and in keeping with the theme of the trip we just did our best to make the most of it. 

Somehow this extended time at the port allowed Arthur to break out of his funk and live his best life. I swear there's nothing this man loves more than cheap menus and an ocean view because he was more than excited to order a sketchy vodka brand with his soda and chicken gyros platter at place that couldn't understand my request to see what type of tequila they served. 

However, after port café hopping (yes it's a thing and yes we did it despite being on one of the most cosmopolitan islands in Greece) I eventually found a lovely little slice of baklava that not only did not disappoint, but I am 99% sure the waitress had it made for me as it came out steaming hot and delicious! 


It was a great way to end a long day before boarding the ferry right as the sun set. For a small second I felt a bit sad we weren't sitting at an overpriced ocean adjacent restaurant in Oia as originally planned but I quickly remembered that we had chose an adventurous honeymoon over a cookie cutter one. 

And if it's any indication of what our marriage will be like then I suppose I was exactly where I should be. 

-MGN