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

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Vienna might be Europe’s most elegant city, and between Sacher Torte and Strudel, it makes my penchant for sweets go into absolute overdrive. Taking a trip to Vienna is like taking a step back in time to a world where everything is opulent and elegant. Vienna is one of the fab cities where Go with Oh has access to hotels and apartments for your stay. Right now they have a fab contest on Facebook where you can enter to win one of four prizes: a camera, luggage, an ipad or free Go with Oh accomodations. Click here to visit their website and get details on the contest.

 

The five things I want to do in Vienna if I go with Oh are:

 

5. Brush up on my waltzing skills. Vienna is synonymous with the Waltz. While I have taken lessons, have a halfway decent Waltz and have even competed in a local “Dancing with the Stars” style competition, nothing would be better than taking lessons in Vienna. In fact, the dream trip to Vienna would include dance lessons and tickets to one of Vienna’s famous balls. That has to be on every yuppie’s list of things to do before you die! Click here to get the low-down on the best balls in Vienna and ticket purchase information.

 

4. Splurge on a meal at one of Vienna’s chicest restaurants, Orlando di Castello. Freyung 1, Vienna, 1010. The décor in this chic Viennese eatery is so fun and the desserts are so delectable they make the traditional Sacher Torte seem so blah.

 

3. Joy ride on the Ringstrasse. For 7 Euros you can hop on Vienna’s Ringtram and get circle this majestic imperial city. All of the major city attractions are found along the Ringstrasse which literally circles the city center. For 9 Euros you can get a hop-on hop-off ticket and use that as your public transport for the day.

 

2. Take a Trip to Wine Country. A thirty-minute train ride (tram 38) from the city center whisks you away to the worlds only wine country that is part of a major city. The views are beautiful, the setting romantic and you capture a bit of old world Austrian charm. In 1784, Emperor Josef II issued an edict granting wine growers the right to sell their own wines at their own premises and the Heurig (wine-tavern) was born. Stammersdorf, Nussdorf and Sievering are less touristy than Grinzing.

 

1. Travel back in at the Imperial Palace. The Imperial Palace is a huge complex where the Hapsburg dynasty ruled most of Europe during the Golden Age. There are multiple museums and the Spanish Riding School housed in the gargantuan complex, but my favorite is the Sissy Museum. In the words of Phaedra Parks from RHOA, “Everybody knows” that a museum with a dress and jewel collection is a museum worth visiting. Empress Elisabeth’s obsession with vanity is on full display with dresses, exercise machines, jewels and more! Plus, the gift shop is one of my favorites.

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Shortcuts to Fabulous “I want to ‘Go with Oh’ to London”

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Cheerio. I actually studied in London in college. I lived in some dingy little flat in South Kensington and ate at an Indian take-away place every night that was on the way home from my tube stop. I know that doesn’t sound glamorous or fabulous, but it was. I love London…love it and I can’t get enough….

To hit your own travel jackpot, Click on the Go with Oh Badge or here for your own chance to win Samsonite Luggage, a Panosonic Lumix Camera, Holiday Accommodation worth 500 Euros or an 16 GB Ipad 2. All you have to do is like the Facebook page and tell Go with Oh where you would like to go!

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The five things I want to do in London if I go with Oh are:

5. Spend all day in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The last time I went to London, the Fashion exhibit was closed for renovation and my heart was completely broken into tiny little pieces. The museum is free, but I donated 5 pounds when I entered to make up for all of the hours I spent in the museum as a poor college student. Luckily the Fashion collection is back and better than ever and I can’t wait to soak up the couture air of the collection!

4. Practice my Cockney Accent on Portobello Road. Shopping the Portobello Road market is one of the best experiences Europe has to offer. There is only a slight language barrier (wow some of those stall owner’s accents are thick), some fabulous finds, tons of photo opportunities and positively British flavor.

3. Curl my Pinky for Afternoon Tea. There are so many places for tea in London and you could spend a lifetime searching for the best. In fact there are awards given every year by the Tea Guild to the best places for tea. On my list to try: The Goring Hotel (it won a Tea Guild Award for Excellence in 2011, but I really just want to go there to pretend I am Kate Middleton’s American cousin) and the Orangery at Kensington Palace.

2. Pretend I am Becky Bloomwood from “Confessions of a Shopaholic” at Harvey Nichols. Harvey Nichols has a restaurant and some of the best shopping in London. I think an afternoon perusing designer labels, having mild heart attacks and sticker shock at the prices and dining in the restaurant is an absolute must for any fashionista.

1. Check out some West End theater courtesy of the tkts half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square. A trip to London would not be complete without taking in a show and the experience would not be as rich without purchasing half price tickets from Leicester Square. Part of the fun is showing up and spontaneously choosing a show from the available ticket options.

I hear London Calling and hopefully Go with Oh will be footing the bill…xo

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Shortcut to Fabulous “I want to ‘Go with Oh’ to Barcelona”

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I am one of those oh so lucky gals that has been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in Europe. Between visiting European family, stints studying abroad in college and yearly trips, I consider myself a total Euro-file. Barcelona is my absolute favorite city. It helps that I have family there, but beyond that there is something about the city that makes my heart pitter-patter. Even though I have been to Barcelona, I want to go with Oh and find you some Shortcuts to Fabulous things to do, eat and experience. Click on the Go with Oh Badge or here for your own chance to win Samsonite Luggage, a Panosonic Lumix Camera, Holiday Accommodation worth 500 Euros or an 16 GB Ipad 2. All you have to do is like the Facebook page and tell Go with Oh where you would like to go!

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The five things I want to do in Barcelona are:

5. Check up on the Progress of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. I have been to this icnonic church no less that 20 times. I even have a painting of the blessed thing in my living room (painted by a Catalan artist no less). One of my absolute favorite things to do when I go the BCN is visit the Sagrada Familia and check up on the progress. I always imagine what Gaudi must be thinking about the directions the church has taken and if he is okay with the fact that it is taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to build. It really is beautiful even if you have to wear a hard hat to see it.

4. Find a Fab Boutique in the Born Neighborhood. Bjorn is my absolute favorite shopping area. I love the old world char and narrow alley ways and I am certain there is anew boutique with my name on it…or at least something fun to blog about right in the Born.

3. Eat at my favorite Barcelona Budget restaurant. Les Quinze Nits is located in La Paca Reial and every evening lines spew into the square for this popular and affordable Catalan eatery. This restaurant is a Catalan institution with locals and tourists alike dining side-by-side on delectable ten Euro dishes. The ambiance is perfect and the food yummy, this is the place that keeps me coming back year after year.

2.  Dance the Night Away at my favorite hot spots. I have some favorite spots in Barcelona, but I am always in the hunt for more. One of my favorite spots is a speak easy bar and lounge called the Barcelona Pipa Club. You have to ring a bell to get in but once you step inside you are transported into a world of fabulousness.

1.  Go on a Tapas Crawl. Just the thought of Tapas makes my mouth water….pimientos de padron, gambas al ajillo and jamon Serrano…that is my tapas trilogy. I can’t wait to hop from tapas bar to tapas bar in search of the most mouth watering tapas.

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Shortcut to Fabulous Food Near the Sights in Paris!

DSC_5875I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste a meal while traveling on mediocre food, especially when it is in a place like Paris. When you are sightseeing and doing the tourist thing, it is hard to find a great meal and stay away from the tourist traps, but I have some great sightseeing tips and dining suggestions for the city of light.

  • Check out the sights near the Palais Royale during the day and enjoy a lovely picnic in the Jardin de Tuileries. Walk to the Monoprix on Rue de L’Opera and check out the prepared food section on the ground floor. They have lovely sandwiches and paninis and their giant macarons are some of my favorites in the city! The basement level of the store has grocery items and snack sized chips. Try the Monoprix brand gout chili chips…yum!
  • The Latin Quarter is a nice 15 minute stroll from Notre Dame Cathedral. Skip the touristy dining near Notre Dame and head to the cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter for some delicious dining options. Here are my Latin Quarter picks: La Jacobine. 59-61 Rue Saint Andre des Arts, 75006 Paris. This Tea House is tucked away down a cobble stone street just off of Rue Saint Andre des Arts. I love the ambiance  and the food is delicious! It is open seven days a week from 11:30 to 23:30. My favorite dishes are the Beef Bourguignon and the La Jacobin Salad that comes with a slice of  perfectly light and fluffy quiche on top! The desserts are on display in the window and change daily. They are too die for!!!! Creperie St. Germain 33 Rue Saint André des Arts, 75006 Paris. Around 7- 10 euros per plate including both sweet and savory crepes, salads and more. Lots of locals and a cool vibe with cave like ambiance.
  • One of the hottest and most delicious and affordable restaurants in Paris is a short ten minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. Les Cocettes Christian Constant. 135 Rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris. Wines starting at 4 euros a glass. You will love the ambiance of this place and that all of the dishes come out in little cast iron pots even the Cesar salad, although the crab salad comes out in a jar sans lid! Chocolate tart (10 Euros) is the most expensive dessert on the menu. Dessert is good but if you are going to scrimp somewhere this is where to do it because it was not over the top “make me gush like a school girl fawning over a boy band member” fabulous like the other dishes here.IMG_0019
  • While Strolling the Marais in Paris’s 4th  Arrondissement hitting up one of the falafel shops is really the must do in Paris! The most famous and the one with the longest line is L’au du Falafel 34, rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris. If you don’t feel like waiting in the long line, may I suggest Chez Marianne. 2 Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais 75004  Paris. Much calmer and gives your choice of yummy cornichon pickels on top.
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Shortcut to Fabulous Shopping in Paris…vintage, consignment and more

IMG_0017For years I have been traveling to Paris with great shopping expectations, only to be disappointed by the homogenization of the European shopping experience. Not only are many of the stores the same as those you can find stateside, but even the small boutiques have overpriced versions of things I could find back home. This last trip to Paris, I was determined to unlock the hidden joys of shopping in Paris. I scoured the city and found exactly the experience I had been searching for!

Vintage: I spend an entire day traipsing through the entire city to find the best vintage shops. I ended up empty handed with a huge blister and stinky feet. Here is my hypothesis with regard to vintage/thrift store shopping. The French buy quality and keep it forever, so what you have left in vintage and thrift shops are items that are old and grungy. Of course, there are probably some diamonds in the rough, but I honestly don’t have the patience. However, if you love to hunt for a treasure and you are not a label snob like me, I recommend the Marais for vintage shopping.

The Marais is in the 4th Arrondissement and is full of boutiques and several vintage shops. Note: The Marais is Paris’s Jewish Quarter and many say that this is the reason that most shops in the Marais are open on Sunday. So when the rest of Paris is shut tight on Sunday, you can get a little shopping done and enjoy a delicious Falafel (L’As du Fallafe) in the Marais.

  • Sarl Alternatives: 18, Rue Roi de Sicile, 75004 Paris. This vintage shop has actual designer merchandise. Items can be pricey, but you may be able to find something good. I saw a huge Fendi Tote bag for 300 Euros.
  • Miss June Boutique: 30, Rue de Sevigne 75004 Paris. This shop has cute vintage inspired clothes.
  • Airnoos Mode & Decoration: 52 Rue du Roi Sicile, 75004 Paris. Another shop with cute vintage inspired tops and sweaters. A little pricey, but they have a sale rack in the middle of the store.
  • La Piscine: 13, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75004 Paris. They have several locations around the city, but this one is conveniently located close to other shops in the Marais.
  • Free P*Star: 8 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris. A Vintage store with racks full of clothes and a basement level full of jackets and coats. I would say this was one of the more promising of vintage shops.
  • Coiffeur Vintage: 32, Rue de Rosiers, 75004 Paris. I wanted to love this store, but I found it a bit claustrophobic for my taste. It was full of young fashionable French teens and college age kids when I went, so be ready for a crowd in this tiny shop.
  • Fripes Star: 1, Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris. A little larger than Free P*Star and Coiffeur Vintage. I still struck out here and thought the clothes were too icky for me, but it is worth a peek.
  • Honorable Mention in the 11 Arrondissement: Come on Eileen, 16 Rue des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris. If you found treasures at the vintage shops in the Marais and want to go for more, Come on Eileen has racks full of vintage and designer clothes. Out of all of the vintage shops, I found the merchandise in this one to be the most interesting. There were a lot of fun dresses and designer wares. I found a few items, but upon closer inspection they had stains or tears, so be careful. Down the street from Come on Eileen is another Vintage shop, Tosca Paris, 1 Rue de Taillandiers, 75011 Paris. They had a few high-end vintage pieces in this small shop.

Consignment: Okay, so I don’t exactly have the most stellar endorsement for vintage shops in Paris. However, I found my fashion mecca in one of the ritziest neighborhoods in Paris, the 16 Arrondissement. After my rather disappointing day of vintage shopping, I moved on to the next used clothing category on my list…consignment. JACKPOT!!!! I am not sure why consignment seems to be so much better than vintage shops in Paris, but I think it is because consignment seems to cater to wealthy Parisian women who would not be caught dead in last seasons’s Prada. So, you can find high end designer merchandise in excellent condition, including things with the tags still on them at nicely discounted prices. If you want to find a special deisgner piece to remember your trip to Paris, I recommend the consignment route or Depot Vente.

If you love designer merchandise, then I highly recommend that you budget at least half a day at this next 16 arrondissement shop.

  • Reciproque- Rue de La Pompe, 75016 Paris. This is the self proclaimed largest consignment shop in Paris. The store literally consists of multiple boutiques covering an entire city block. My heart stopped when I found this place and I almost peed my pants about three times. First, when I found two silk Chanel blouses for under 150 Euros (one was 110). Second, when I realized they had an entire shop full of designer handbags. Third, when I actually entered the handbag shop…we are talking racks and racks and racks of buttery leather, Dior, Prada and of course Chanel….sigh! There was a camel colored medium sized Prada satchel in pristine condition for 300 Euros. On a side note, the basement of the handbag shop has coats and scarves.
  • Here is a rundown of the different shops. The best thing about the shop in my opinion is the way it is organized….by designer. We all have designers that we love or that fit better and it is nice to just be able to make a beeline for your favorites. The handbags are also organized this way. Chanel handbags are in a glass case in the handbag shop and YSL was in a nook in the front of the handbag shop when I went. In the main clothing store, the main floor had blouses, light jackets, slacks, skirts and dresses and the basement had shoes, coats and I believe some evening-wear.
  • 97 Rue de La Pompe: Menswear.
  • 93,95 and 101 all have Women’s clothing and accessories.

Flea Market Finds: This trip to Paris, I braved the flea markets for the first time. I armed myself with my most comfortable shoes, a diet coke and dragged my poor mom to the flea market at St. Ouen on Saturday morning. I forced my mom out the door sans lipstick at 8:30 fearing we would miss all of the good stuff because it was so late. All of the guide books said to get there by 9 am. Well, the guidebooks are wrong! Most of the stalls don’t start opening until 10 am, so catch a few more zzz’s and eat breakfast in the city before heading out to St. Ouen. St. Ouen is in a bit of a sketchy neighborhood in Paris, so wear a money belt if you have one and withdraw cash from an ATM in Paris proper before you leave so you don’t have to try and find one there. Once you arrive and exit the metro station, follow the touristy looking crowd under the highway overpass. You will see traditional American flea market stalls selling junk…pass that stuff and head straight for Rue de Rossiers (you will end up there if you keep going straight past the junky merchandise on your left).


Also, make sure you have a return metro ticket before you leave because the metro station can be a bit scary with young French thugs presumably running some type of metro ticket scam. They will accost you when you enter and offer to sell you a metro ticket which will not work. The metro ticket machine was not working when I went so we had to queue up to buy our tickets and fend off the thuggies and their ticket hawking, gawking and what I could tell even with my rudimentary French were some rather dirty and inappropriate comments related to what they would “do” to me if they had the chance. If you have your return metro ticket ready, you can bypass the thugs, insert ticket and be on your merry way back to the city.


What surprised me the most about the Flea Market, besides the fact that I did not have to wake up at the crack of dawn (which made me HEART Paris even more) is the set up. It is not the typical “flea market” set up we have in the States or even on Portobello Road in London. There is not an outdoor market with makeshift stalls. Instead, the flea market consists of multiple indoor markets where vendors rent permanent space. They only open Saturday and Sunday, which I find so strange since they have permanent space. Think of it like a bunch of storage units with electricity where the shop keeper merchandises their goods like a boutique. This is the place to go if you are looking for vintage accessories like purses or jewelry. Most of the vendors are selling antique furniture, but I searched the whole market and found all of the good shops carrying vintage fashion pieces!

Think of the purveyors of the vintage clotting stalls at St. Ouen as French Rachel Zoes. They have exquisite taste and went bananas for the selection of items in the store. Keep this in mind when discussing an item, asking for a price and negotiating. I have found it is far better to bargain saying that you love the piece but can only pay x amount rather than saying it is not worth the price they are charging. In short ask yourself how you would behave if Rachel Zoe were selling the contents of her closet…you would have respect for her, her taste and the value she places on the items. I saw “Ugly American Syndrome” (UAS) in all its glory at St. Ouen. An American women in her forties saw a designer purse, picked it up (without asking) and asked the Rachel Zoesque shop keeper for the price. When the shopkeeper gave the price, the American rolled her eyes, clucked her teeth and threw the item back on the display case. I was horrified, but not more so than the French shopkeeper who rushed over to the item like a it was a bird with a broken wing. Here are some etiquette tips for St. Ouen so that you can avoid UAS:

  • Most shopkeepers speak English. However, when you enter greet them with bonjour (smile not necessary). Before you ask questions in English, ask parlez vous anglais?
  • Ask before you touch.
  • Bargaining is okay, but never do so by disparaging the item.
  • If you love an item, but don’t love the price. Ask for a card and then ask them if you may call them later if you want to purchase. Call them on Monday with your best offer as they are more likely to give a discount if they had a slow weekend in terms of sales.

Here is a rundown of the best of the best of St. Ouen vintage shops by Market.

Marche Vernaison 99 Rue de Rosiers

  • David Roy. Allee 1 (Aisle 1), Stand 3. 99 Rue de Rosiers, 93400 St. Ouen. This is the largest and in my opinion, best of all of the St. Ouen Vintage fashion stalls. They have lots of Chanel handbags and accessories along with Chanel suits. They also have some beautiful if not pricey one-of-a-kind jewelry items. I fell in love with a beautiful Chanel bag. The asking price was 1200 Euros. Sadly I did not adopt her.
  • Le Grenier d/Amatxi. Alee 4 (Aisle 4), Stand 74. This shop had a few more recent designer pieces…more recent spells more affordable. I spotted a cute Chanel bracelet for 250 Euros.
  • Christine L. Alle 5 (Aisle 5), Stand 84. 99 Rue de Rosiers, 93400 St. Ouen. This shop had a great selection of Chanel bags and jewelry. Everything was very pricey.

Marche Serpette 110 Rue de Rosiers

  • Clara Larde. Alle 1 (Aisle 1), Stand 28. 110 Rue de Rosiers, 93400 St. Ouen. Beautiful pieces here. Lots of true vintage finds at this shop.
  • Patricia Attwood. Alle 2 (Aisle 3), Stand 7. 110 Rue de Rosiers, 93400 St. Ouen. Loads of scarves and some Chanel jewelry.
  • Le Monde du Voyage. Alle 3 (Aisle 3), Stand 15. 110 Rue de Rosiers, 93400 St. Ouen. This shop seems to specialize in high-end luggage pieces. They have a large selection of Louis Vuitton and Hermes. When I was there, they had a huge selection of scarves and a glass case full of fun designer jewelry, including a beautiful thick silver Chanel cuff for 450 Euros. That cuff was probably the best designer buy I saw at the market.

Marche Dauphine 132/140 Rue de Rosiers

  • Lucetter Pistre and Nadine Gasso. Stand 78.79.65. More vintage, but this time more space!
  • Catherine Pearce. Stand 120. This shop has affordable costume jewelry…necklaces at 30 Euros. I went home with a few of these necklaces and have been wearing them like crazy!
  • Librairie AMK. Stand 187. First Floor (really the second for North Americans). So this shop has no vintage fashion…at least not that you can wear. However, it does have fun vintage fashion posters and old ad posters which are easy to roll up and pack in your luggage and then have framed with you get home for the perfect piece of artwork and a reminder of your trip to Paris! The shopkeeper is the absolute loveliest women who speaks English and will translate any posters that you buy. I highly recommend this shop for an affordable souvenir. The vintage reproduction posters start at 8 Euros.

For fabulous tips on vintage and thrift shopping visit my friend, Ginger’s blog, Electric Blogarella. She dissects the vintage shopping experience like no one else! Click here to check it out.


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