Category Archives: Travel

Shortcut to Fabulous Fashion Exhibits All Over the World

fashionista fashion exhibit

Today, one of my favorite websites, Fashionista.com published a slideshow featuring over 40 fashion exhibits all over the world including several in my two playgrounds, Miami and New York and several in London and Paris that might have me hopping on a British Airways flight and hopping across the pond. You can check out the article here. Happy traveling!!! Oh and of course if you are planning a trip to any of these places, get all the info you need on where to stay, eat, shop and relax right here on Shortcuts to Fabulous. Just type in your destination in the Search tab and find Shortcuts to Fabulous living in your next vacation spot!

  • Share/Bookmark

Shortcut to Fabulous New York City Insider Showroom Shopping Tour

scarves

I get to do some really fab stuff with the work I do…and I had one such experience when Karen Parker O’Brian, owner of Style Room Shopping Tour Experiences invited me to check out her NYC shopping tour. I grew up around the fashion biz because my pops owns a clothing company in NYC. Because of this, it takes a lot to impress me and of course I hate paying retail. Well, Karen delivers in a big way with her Style Room shopping tours. She is a former showroom owner herself, so she has tons of contacts and creates custom tours depending on the season, group, etc.

Karen gives you a meeting point and a time and when you arrive, you are greeted with a little goody bag of trail mix and Karen, photographed below, dawning a fab smile and legs that seem to go on forever…I was standing on a step, wearing super high wedges and still look like a shrimp next to her.

What I love about her tours is that she creates an experience. Each showroom has something special to offer beyond the clothes and accessories themselves. Some offer up cupcakes and champagne, some you get to meet the designer, some you get insider access and all of them you get a deeper understanding of how the fashion business works and how much WORK it is to put out a clothing line. For me, it had the added bonus of reminiscing to my childhood days in my dad’s showroom/store at 1189 Broadway…rubber band fights with my brother in the stockroom, playing with the conveyor belt from the stockroom to the storefront, and playing in the oodles and oodles of clothes.  Fond memories…my Dad is really something special when it comes to business and he built and amazing business from the ground up…I digress, but can you tell I am a proud daughter :)

I highly recommend that you take a Style Room shopping tour the next time you are in NYC. You will love the deals, bond with fellow shopaholics and have a day filled with fun and an unforgettable experience.

*Note: I was given a complimentary tour, but the opinions here are my own.

 

 

  • Share/Bookmark

Shortcut to Fabulous Places to Stay, Eat, Shop and Relax in Istanbul

istanbul featured image

After my visit to Istanbul, it became one of my favorite cities in the world and I am just dying to go back. Fabulous food, friendly people, a little bit of chaos and interesting shopping with unique items. The sights, smells, sounds, views and tastes of Istanbul will keep me coming back. Whenever, I go on a trip I spend my time finding you the best spots so you can maximize the fabulous moments of your vacation.

 

Stay

Seven Hills Hotel- The location and view from the rooftop deck are what make this hotel special. It is a little pricey compared to my usual no frills hotel choices in Europe, but when you think that it is located across from the Four Seasons Hotel (also a fab option if you want to splurge). Rooms  at the Seven Hills Hotel start at around 185 Euros for a double.

Hotel Uyan- The location of this charming historic hotel built in 1928 can’t be beat. It is located in the heart of Sultanahmet, just 50 metres from world-famous St. Sophia, Basilica Cistern & Blue Mosque  and 100 meters from Topkapi Palace & Marmara Sea. Double Rooms start at 75 Euros. A total steal in this the prime location.

Hotel Perula- This hotel is also located within walking distance of all of the major sites in the Sultanahmet neighborhood. It is tucked off on a side street and has the added bonus of a Turkish bath located right inside the hotel. Rates start at 70 Euros per night. Another great hotel deal in a fab location.

Eat

Darüzziyafe. The courtyard dining in this restaurant is the perfect spot for some tranquil and relaxing al fresco dining. The restaurant is located almost directly across the main entrance of the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent. You may want to stop in before a trip to the mosque and make a reservation. The meatballs are delish. Sifahane Sokak 6.

 

Rumelihisari Iskele Restaurant. The fish is the highlight at the gorgeous eatery with a spectacular and romantic view. This is the perfect spot for a romantic candlelit dinner for two.Rumeli Hisarı Mh., 34470.

Sultanahmet Köftecisi. This cheap eats location is an Istanbul institution, serving locals and tourists famous for its kofte (meatballs). Divan Yolu 12.

Joke Circus. The young and hip of Istanbul frequent this supper club….or so I was told be the concierge at the W Hotel in Istanbul. Demokrasi Park.

 

 

 

Shop

Constantine Art and Jewelry. I made friends with the shop owner Emrit and after a long conversation I learned exactly why I loved this shop above all others. He strives to have unique items that are good quality that you can’t find anywhere else in Istanbul. His jewelry pieces are exquisite. I got a fab hand painted bracelet made of coconut shell that is one of my most complimented jewelry pieces. This store is down the street from the Four Seasons and Seven Hills Hotel. There are a ton of really nice shops in this area and some have stuff that you can get in the Grand Bazaar for less, but many of the  shops have well curated pieces. Tevkithane SK No: 16/1, 34122 Sultanhmet.

Rings at Constantine

Homespaluxe. I stocked up on gifts for friends,family and of course moi at this fabulous boutique carrying hand-made soaps and hammam supplies. The American shop owner curated the goods in this shop well and everything is locally made. This is the place to go to gear up for your Turkish bath experience. They sell Pestamals (Turkish towels), the kese (silk exfoliating glove that will leave your skin as soft as a baby’s bum) and other really cutely packaged items. Galipdede Cad. No 61 Tûnel- Beyoglu. This shop is tucked away toward the end of the pedestrian and trolley lined Istiklal street. This street if full of modern shops and is a really beautiful stroll. Rick Steves has a self-guided walking tour through this neighborhood in his Istanbul Guidebook.

Haci Bekir. My favorite Turkish Delight Spot…and believe me…I tried them all. It is the oldest company in Turkey, esablished in 1777. I love the packaging and the Apple and Pistachio Turkish delight had me seriously considering an all Turkish Delight diet. There are spots all over the city, but I would visit the one at 129 Istikal Cad in the Beyoglu neighborhood when you are checking out HomeSpaLuxe above.

Tulu- The beautiful antiques, textiles and pillows in this store had me swooning and wishing I had packed a few spacebags! binbirdirek mah. ülςler sk. no. 7/A Sultanahmet 34440

Midnight Express. Küçük Bebek Cd.Fun jackets, dresses and accessories fill this Turkish designer boutique that has now become a chain of boutiques.

Suzanne Simon. This shop features made-to-order caftans, which will translate to the perfect beach coverup or Tory Burch inspired tunic back home. Faik Paşa Yokuşu no.1
Çukurcuma.

 

 

 Grand Bazaar. Words cannot prepare you for the dizzying experience you will have shopping in the Grand Bazaar. If you are a true shopaholic, leave at least half a day for this labrynth of shopping merriment. There are lots of guidebooks attempting to help you navigate through the maze that is the grand bazaar, but I recommend just spending the day wandering through with your money securely tucked away in your money belt or bra for those of you who are boobalicious. If you are too Type A to go without a plan, then enter at the Nuuosmaniye Gate and print this map. Here are my Grand Bazaar Highlights: 85 Nurosmanyie Cad has Antiques and Jewelry. 71 Verzirhan Cad has pretty handicrafts. Cashmere House (no bargaining here) Takkeciler Sok. La Moda Bags (past the cistrn and diagonal to the Cashmere House). Halicer Fad. Dervis (soaps). Afghan Shop 12 Kapahςarςι. (Run by an Afghani Expat with gorgeous affordable costume jewelry starting at around 40 Lira) Koς Gems & Sterlin Silver 6 Kapalι Çarsi (Fun and Unique Jewelry). Ottantic 46 Kapaliςarsi Perdahςilar (Gorgeous hand embroidered bags).

Relax

I tried three Hammams in Istanbul and there is one that stands out in my mind as the premier experience. That is the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamι. I wrote about the Hamam experience here. Why I loved this Hamamm over all others? It was completely luxurious and by far the most beautiful. It is the most expensive, but you get what you pay for. It is located near the Hotels recommended above, the Blue Mosque and most other major tourist sites at Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Bab 1 Humayun Cad: No 1 34122 Sultanahmet

 

 

  • Share/Bookmark

Shortcut to Fabulous Tips and Tricks for Packing

  • Share/Bookmark

Shortcut to Fabulous Fun Ways to Photograph Yourself at Places

Text Here

 

  • Share/Bookmark

Shortcut to Fabulous Turkish Bath Experience in Istanbul

Hamam-Rejuvenation-Turkish-Baths-Sultanahmet-Istanbul-Turkey-4

How can a visit to Turkey be complete without a visit to one of the infamous Turkish bath houses? There are numerous bath houses across the city and various guidebooks that narrow down the field to about four or five, including the Cağaloğlu Hamamı featured in the book, “1000 places to see before you die.”

 

I suggest going either early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the big crowds.  The most famous bath houses are very used to dealing with tourists so they have all the absolute essentials included.

 

On my trip to Istanbul I visited two bath houses, Çemberlitaş Hamamı and the newly opened and über luxurious Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam, which I highly recommend.

Here I give you the low-down based on my experience in Çemberlitaş Hamamı

Here is how it works. You enter the bathhouse and the reception is immediately to your left. You choose your treatment package from the list posted on the wall and pay. They only accept cash, so come with Lira in-hand. You are given a small box with your scrubby and a yellow token. Then you are pointed toward the women’s section of the bathhouse. Once you enter the women’s lounge, the room will have e center indoor courtyard and will be surrounded by changing rooms upstairs overlooking the courtyard and a lounging area. This is where you will come after your treatment is finished and cool down. There is a small bar where you can purchase a cool water or soda.

 

When you enter this area, a woman will likely escort you to a changing room and show you a locker. She will give you a small box, a pestamal and tell you in broken English to change and put your belongings in the locker. The small box contains a black panty that you change into. The panty is brand new, but if you have germ issues, you can bring a black bikini bottom so that you blend in a bit more. You may also want to bring a pair of rubber flip-flops, although this bathhouse does provide them in the changing rooms. I am just not sure how often, if they are ever cleaned.

 

Here is the part where you have a choice. Do as the Turks do and forgo the bikini top and let your girls fly free or metaphorically say screw the Romans and cover up. I would recommend that you submit to the experience and forgo the bikini top. We all have the same parts, they just come in different shapes and sizes and when you see the therapists flaunting their happy tummies freely in their skimpy bikinis you will realize that this is a relaxed environment where all your rolls and cellulite will be celebrated…or at least go unnoticed.

 

Since this is a bathhouse catering to tourists, there are private curtained changing rooms in the locker area. So, you change into your black bikini bottom, take off your jewelry, wrap the pestamal around you, put your items into the locker, lock it up and take the key, box with your scrubby and yellow token with you.

 

Most of the time, one of the attendants will escort you into the bath chamber and to a marble basin filling with flowing warm water. Sit down by the basin and take one of the metal dishes, fill it with warm water and begin pouring your body with the water. If the temperature of the water in the basin is too hot, you can adjust it by controlling the volume of water coming from the spigot above the basin. This is cool water, so increasing the flow will make the water in the basin cooler. Continue dipping your metal bowl in the water and dousing your body with the water. The more you do this, the more your skin softens and the more effective your scrub will be. Try and use this time to relax and submit fully to the experience. If you go during the day, the scene will be even more beautiful because rays of light will illuminate the room from the small round skylights above. The effect on the bath chamber is magical.

 

One of the therapists will come and take your chip from you and that is her signal to you that she will be the one that is working on you. You can either continue to sit at the marble basin or take your pestamal and lie on heated marble bathing stone waiting for your turn.

 

Once the therapist is ready for you, she will motion for you to come over. She will take your pestamal and lay it on the heated marble stone. Then she will tell you or motion for you to either lie on your back or stomach. She will take the scrubby box and open it and begin the exfoliation process. Once she has scrubbed you down, she will take a big cloth and with some swirls and flowing hand motions create a magical world of suds on your body and wash you down with the soapy suds. You will get a quick rub down/massage and then she will direct you back to a marble basin where you will be rinsed off.

 

If you have chosen other treatments, you will be escorted to treatment rooms for those. However, if you picked the most basic package, which I recommend, you can go into a little room with two mini pools of super hot water and hot water. Pick a pool and hang out here for a while before you exit the bath chamber into a room filled with towels, benches and a shower. Grab a towel and dry off, take a shower if you feel the need and then go back to the cooling room and have something cool to drink. If you planned ahead and brought some magazines with you, can relax while you read a trashy magazine.

 

When you are ready, you change back into street clothes, use the hairdryers provided to dry your hair and are off on your merry little way.

 

Here are some things to bring for extra credit and a more enriching experience:

  • A change of clean clothes or at the very least a fresh set of undergarments
  • flip flops
  • Turkish lira to pay for your treatment and some change for a cool beverage
  • Some make up essentials for quick reapplication
  • It is best to leave expensive jewelry at the hotel
  • Black Bikini bottom
  • Some trashy magazines to read and relax after
  • Share/Bookmark

Shortcut to Fabulous “I want to Go with Oh to Rome”

IMG_1602

Rome is one of the loveliest utterly chaotic cities in the world. Obviously, there are ancient Roman ruins to see, the center of the Catholic universe and lots of gelato, but the Rome I love is the Rome you miss if you spend all your time on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. When I go with Oh to Rome I will uncover even more off-the-beaten path things to do, see, eat and shop! You can Go with Oh too and with some extra dolce vita by entering to win one of their fab prizes: luggage, an ipad, a camera or 500 Euro of Go with Oh accomodation. Click here to get the skinny on this fab contest and enter to win.

 

The Five things I will do in Rome when I go with Oh are:

5. Watch my 70 Euro Italian leather handbag be crafted right in front of my eyes at Il Gancio. It is located on Via del Seminario 82-83. Their smaller bags are suprising affordable and they actually make bags in the shop. They have some really cute cross body bags that are fabulous quality, great for travel and totally on-trend.

4. Find a great spot to have drinks with a view. There is nothing better than a glass of bubbly and a great view…well except for perhaps designer shoes or handbags 70% off. I digress. I want to find the best place to have a glass of prosecco. Click here to find a list of Rome rooftop cafes and bars.

3. Create my own Pizza Crawl. Who needs a pub crawl when you could create a pizza crawl. If I Go with Oh I will scour the city and create a self-guided pizza crawl for all of you lovely readers.

2. Stroll the Streets and Soak in the real Rome. Many say the best museum in Rome is Rome itself and I couldn’t agree more. Getting lost in the streets is where you make the best discoveries…find the best shops, discover sumptuous gelato and uncover a quiet piazza.

1. Practice saying “Mama Mia in my Pizzeria” in one of Rome’s cooking classes. Italian food is undoubtedly the most universally appealing foods in the US. Even if you can’t cook a five course meal or know how to saute something, you  know how to make some pasta. Well, what could be cooler than saying you learned to cook Italian food in Rome. Who knows where that could lead…perhaps a cooking show on the food network…I mean Giada De Laurentiis is pretty and all….and she cooks great…and she is actually a chef…but after I take my Roman cooking class she is going to have to really step it up a notch if she wants to compete with me! Or maybe, I can just pretend I am as gorgeous, thin and smooth as Giada and film some funny bits in the cooking class to share with you ;) Click here for a Roman cooking class.

  • Share/Bookmark