Category Archives: budapest

My Year in Travel – 2013

This year was a great year of travel for me, hitting some brand new destinations and revisiting some of my old favorites. BUT, for me, the VERY BEST thing about this year in travel are all the wonderful people who I met or was reunited with in various locations around the world. My travels wouldn’t be anything without the people on my journey.

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January saw me in NYC and meeting friends old and new – who knew how important they’d all become in my life over the course of this year. I count my blessings for you.



In January I also skied in Verbier, Switzerland and absolutely loved my time with the legendary Warren Smith. I truly hope to see him again in 2014.


Rounding out January, I went to Copenhagen for the very first time and got to reconnect with a travel friend, Christoffer. I loved the cool capital city of Denmark.

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February saw me catching up with a dear travel buddy, Anita, in Montreal, Canada for the very first time. We had a ball doing all kinds of wintery fun things like staying in an Ice Hotel and going to Igloofest.

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March was my month for Barcelona & Costa Brava, Spain. I was thrilled to meet up with a fellow traveler, Brian, in Barcelona and was lucky enough to see him again in London in November.

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Going to Costa Brava was an incredible experience. I love that area of Spain and really cannot get enough, especially of the coast. But, the people on this trip really made it the very best. I can’t imagine a more fun press trip.

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April found me in back in NYC. I always love my NYC trips because I get to catch up with very special friends like Jeff & Craig – 2 of my favorites!!

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May saw me in my favorite, Miami. I cannot get enough of this city. While I had my usual fun of beach, pool, dinner, drinks and dancing, I particularly enjoyed working with the fantastic luxe swimwear company, Orchid Boutique, during this trip. Talk about a great collection as well as a staff of kindred spirits!

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June was an incredible month chalked full of fun things. Kicking off in Toronto for a conference with so many of my favorite fellow travelers, I actually wonder if we’ll ever be able to beat our #RWTBEX time here. I love you all so much!

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I also got to spend a bit of time with one of my most lovely traveling partners, Mrs. O, Ana. I was able to show her a bit of Americana in the amazing seaside town of Newport, Rhode Island. We had a ball doing Newport the luxe way.

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Wrapping up my June, I had an incredible visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. What a great girls weekend we had there and our host, the Bahia Hotel and Carlos, made my trip 100% amazing. Cannot wait to return.

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July found me back in Euroland – one of Lola’s favorites. Although, this was a “repeat” journey of sorts, I did manage to do a few new things. One of which was going to the Henley Royal Regatta.


Post-UK was a return visit to Prague and Budapest. Two of my favorites that I’ve never visited in the summertime. Absolutely stunning! So was hanging out with friends made on a previous trip. Always nice to share a beer with good people.

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August took me back to Montreal once again and NYC. This trip was extra special because of the time well spent with lifelong friends and a last visit with a friend that would soon depart. Anita, Montreal will always make me think of you fondly. I love you and that city so much.



September took me to two cities I wanted to know better. First was Seattle with my newly found soul mate, Erin. There is nowhere I wouldn’t go with this girl. And we both wanted to celebrate happy moments, like our dear friends, Captain & Clark’s wedding!

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Toward the end of September, Erin and I were reunited again in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I like to think of it as the city of sisterly love! We had a blast discovering different neighborhoods of Philly & laughing with each other all the while.

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October I was lucky enough to be reunited with 2 of my favorite traveling partners again, Ana & Mary Anne along with Mary Anne’s BFF Maxine, for a GLAM LA girls weekend.

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November was a busy fun month with a visit back to the UK for a conference and reconnecting with so many fun friends from around the world. I’m so glad our paths cross from time to time.

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Followed up by a quick jaunt to France and Amsterdam for more girlfriend fun. I wouldn’t choose to travel any other way. Traveling with Ashley, Ana & Mary Anne was the very best.

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And I managed to squeeze in a last minute trip back to NYC with my girlfriends and once again be reunited with some of my favorite people.

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In December I finished off my year of travel back in Miami to celebrate Erin’s birthday. I cannot think of a better place to end my year. It is my happy spot and it was made so much better being there, laughing and enjoying life, with two of my travel besties, Erin & Esther.

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Maybe you see some common themes in my travels. Repeat places, repeat friends, repeated silliness and smiles. Traveling is my lifeline and a huge part of my heart as are all the people I meet along the way. My world is better for all of you. Here’s to many more reunions on the road and good times ahead in 2014! Happy travels…

XO – Lola


Filed under amsterdam, barcelona, budapest, cabo san lucas, copenhagen, costa brava, henley-on-thames, london, los angeles, miami, montreal, new york, newport, philadelphia, prague, seattle, toronto, travel, verbier

Love Actually in Budapest – @FSBudapest Gresham Palace

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Budapest holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. During my first visit, I got stuck in this fantastic city due to the Icelandic volcano eruption that closed the European airspace for several days. It was one of the best trips of my life. I was excited to visit Budapest but really didn’t expect to love it so much. Why do I love it so? Well, to put it simply, it’s a little rough around the edges. It’s not perfect. It’s not trying to be anything but what it is. Budapest is an old city with many stories and rocky past. You can see signs of this everywhere. In the eclectic mix of architecture. In the monuments. In the graffiti. It’s said that Budapest was a leading cultural capital before World War II, up there with Prague and Vienna. Having visited all three of these European capital cities, I can tell you Budapest is still my favorite. The city is changing, evolving and returning to its glorious past. I just hope it doesn’t polish up too much. I think it’s a diamond just as it is.

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This return to Budapest was equally wonderful and my love for it remains just as strong. During my last visit I had the pleasure of staying in a hotel that’s a perfect example of what I just described. A stunning building with many stories and rocky past. Although there are no rocky signs now, just the previous glory of this structure, the stories remain. I’m talking about the Gresham Palace that is the Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest. Gresham Palace is acclaimed as one of the finest Art Nouveau buildings in the world and I couldn’t agree more. Not that I’ve seen every Art Nouveau building. It’s just that I wouldn’t necessarily gravitate to this style of architecture until I met this building. For me, there is nothing not to love. In fact, in all its grandeur, are signs of love all around!

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Located on the banks of the Danube on the Pest side, the Gresham Palace is over a century old and a historical landmark. The Hotel opened its doors in 2004 after a $110-million restoration of the property. Given what the structure had gone through, and the painstaking craftsmanship of the original details in mosaics, glass work, ironwork, ceramics, etc. it seems a low price to pay. Originally built as the luxurious foreign head office for the Gresham Life Assurance Company, when the building opened in 1906, it became Budapest’s most prestigious address. The architect, Zsigmond Quittner, was a leading Hungarian architect at the time. Influenced by avant-garde artists in Paris and Vienna, Quittner was given free reign with Gresham Palace. Using vivid colors, themes of nature and the top craftspeople, Quittner created a work of art. The underlying tale is that his design was a tribute to a mystery love in his life. The Art Nouveau building was not only an office but also a residence for British aristocracy, a hot shopping spot with exclusive boutiques, home to a popular coffee house, it even once housed a Cabaret.

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With the siege of Budapest during World War II, Gresham Palace was badly damaged. After the war the building was used for various other purposes but fell into a state of major disrepair. So much so it was almost lost. Thankfully, Hungarians loved this national treasure too and were able to partner with the fabulous Four Seasons to bring it back to its former glory. Of course there is all that one can expect in a Four Seasons property, luxury and modern conveniences, all tied with the elegance this structure holds. To me, it is so much more about the building than anything else. Four Seasons naturally takes pride in the 179 rooms, 17 suites Gresham Palace but so do local Budapest residents. And it is open for all to come in and enjoy. Located at the foot of the Chain Bridge in the heart of the city’s business, art & entertainment district, Gresham Palace is near so many of Budapest’s main sights. Visitors, however, might be inclined to just relax, step back in time and sip on some local Hungarian wine in the lobby lounge and famous peacock walking passage. Voted one of Trip Advisor’s Top 25 Travelers’ Choice Hotels of the World, Four Seasons Gresham Palace’s Gresham Cafe has an internationally recognized restaurant and on the top floor of is the hotel’s luxury spa inspired by Budapest’s ancient bath & spa traditions. All this may make a visit more perfect. For me, nothing is more perfect than the love put into Gresham Palace again and again. I have that same feeling of love for Budapest. It’s a place worth every effort.

A big KöSZ to Four Seasons Gresham Palace Budapest for hosting my stay. I’ve been in love with Budapest since we first met. Staying with you in a palace of love and hearts only makes my love that much deeper. You are perfection and completely ‘Lola Approved’. The views here are mine!


Filed under budapest, hungary, swanky luxe stays, travel

3 Euro Escapes for Less

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England’s capital city is notoriously expensive but you can find ways to spend less. For starters, travel in months other than June through August, when it’s most costly to travel there. Taking the train is an affordable option from most EU locations and if you opt to fly, be sure to try each of London’s 3 airports because one may be cheaper than the others. Once in London, money-saving options range from using the Oyster Card or Travel Card for train discounts and the London Pass for savings on attractions & restaurants. You can also find better deals on accommodation if you opt to stay further away from tourist attractions in areas such as Camden & Hammersmith.



For the lucky inhabitants of the United Kingdom, Paris is one of the more popular destinations. This isn’t just because of the proximity and ease of access from the UK (2 hours by Eurostar train) but also because of the food, wine, culture and architecture. Traveling to Paris in the wintertime is often cheaper as travel companies don’t hike up their prices like during the school holidays. Searching sites like Holiday Discount Centre for deals in Paris is good place to start because, no matter the season – let’s be honest, Paris is always a good idea! Other ways to save while in the City of Light are using the excellent metro system over taxis and planning your museum visits on the first Sunday of the month when they offer free admission.

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One of my favorite cheap Euro escapes is Budapest. I hope this great city always remains less expensive but, alas, I have a feeling things are going to change. For now, you can get to Budapest rather cheaply within Europe and stay at a nice place for not a lot of money. Obviously, the farther away from the Danube the less expensive. Excellent dining out in Budapest can also be inexpensive. For instance, eating in the Jewish Quarter cost me $12 for a BIG meal and wine – amazing right?! Using Budapest’s mass transit will also save you money and consider getting a Budapest Card to save on public transport and attractions.

I could go on but you get the idea. Traveling to Europe or within it doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you do your homework and time your trip correctly with the shoulder or low seasons. So, go on, get going!



Filed under budapest, london, paris, travel

favorite travel spots – food for thought

dear fellow traveler – THANK YOU!

as i rushed from my late-arriving airplane from Barcelona to Zürich on Tuesday, i met a fellow traveler who was attempting to make the same ridiculously tight connection back to Boston. it was easy for him to discover we were in the same predicament when i started freaking out on the plane upon arrival in Switzerland. YES! i was one of ‘those people’ who jumped up before we even got to the gate and barraged the flight attendant with “will i make this connection?” “will they hold the plane?” she was all, “no big deal, you spaz!” WHATEVER. if my plane-mate and i hadn’t sprinted from the farthest terminal of A to E through the Zürich airport, i’m quite sure we wouldn’t have made our flight.

in any case, our race against each other on who’d get to the boarding gate first bonded us to an extent. then, when we arrived and as they were full on boarding the plane (no time for a bathroom break or to buy any coveted Swiss chocolates for us) we were then each individually given the ole “you’ve been pre-selected for extra screening”. READ you and your bags will now be molested. at least they had to deal with my sweaty self from my marathon sprint. HA – serves them right! this little incident made us laugh as the two of us, while we might be troublemakers, are far from sketchy looking terrorists.

so, after our half-day return flight from Europe to Boston, now the joke was whether our bags made the tight connection. my plane-mate, Adam, got his bag immediately – lucky bastard. but he kindly waited to see if i’d have the same luck. as we waited we chatted a bit and he asked me “what’s your favorite travel spots you’ve visited to so far?” SUCH A GREAT YET TOUGH QUESTION!!! i really appreciate him asking me this. it got me thinking and made me discover something new about myself. well, sort of.

i said to him that is difficult to answer and it depends on the type of travel experience you’re looking for. i know you all recognize i am a self-professed POSHAHOLIC. so my go-to answer is typically “heaven on earth is St. Barts.” it’s like the perfect place in my mind. AND while i do adore it and dream about it all the time, the question made me realize it’s not my favorite place anymore.

my favorite travel spots are the places that i know the least about and have no expectation of. like Budapest, Curacao and Cambodia to name a few. it’s NO SECRET that i love to travel. but i realized through answering Adam’s simple question that what makes me love a place is being pleasantly surprised in the unknown. the adventure of taking it all in and discovering it from my perspective.

i had already decided after my Cambodia trip that i need to travel at least once a year to somewhere i’ve never been. it’s good for learning and pushing myself and, let’s face it, i don’t have a lifetime of travel ahead so i gotta take advantage of the years i do have to discover all the wonderful places in the world that will touch me. BUT i didn’t recognize is HOW important this is to me. HOW i actually might love it more than the incredibly perfect and posh St. Barts. MY FAVORITE PLACE is quite possibly a place i haven’t been!

the takeaway?

1) this princess might not be so prissy after all since some of my favorite places are quite rough around the edges

2) it has to be top priority to seek this kind of travel out to keep me growing

3) i hope that Adam reads my blog as promised & comments because i’d like to say thank you for asking such a simple yet thought-provoking question

4) and THANKS for waiting with me until i FINALLY got my enormous bag off the luggage belt – phew

XO – lola


Filed under budapest, cambodia, curacao, travel

April 2010 ashback/flashback…Budapest, Hungary

chain bridge on the Buda side of the Danube (first bridge to connect Buda & Pest)

what happens when you are one of the last flights into Europe during a major volcano eruption and get “ashed in” Budapest for an unexpected longer period of time? a lot of adventure, tomfoolery & fun!!!

Budapest is a fascinating city that still seems very authentic.  a mix of Roman, Madyar & Turkish – among other things – Budapest is like their famous goulash…a lot going on, never the same & wonderfully delicious.

i stayed at Sofitel Hotel on Pest side of the Danube where the staff could not have been more hospitable or helpful during my extended stay.

things you should do:

  • be in search of the best goulash, of course!
  • take home some wonderful (& cheap) euro scarves & PAPRIKA – amazing Hungarian spice…delicious on almost everything!
  • take a boat cruise down the danube for a different perspective of Budapest

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Filed under budapest, travel