We love Bermuda! My uncle lives on the Island and we have visited him over the years and have always been blown away by the beauty and splendor of the Island. We hadn’t done much exploring by land (he has a boat so we do lots of snorkeling and diving off shore) until our last trip four years ago, and so it is a real pleasure to be back with a chance to see new spots and stay in a new place on the Island. We were delighted by Hamilton Princess’s invitation to come stay at the updated hotel, and can’t wait to share more of what it’s like here. For now, I will just quickly fill you in on what we have been doing …
Those of you who follow us on social media might know that we had a big family wedding this past weekend in Southampton, NY. It was an absolute dream and pleasure to watch my cousin who is also one of my favorite people marry the love of her life. We spent five days with family and great friends and it was all over too quickly. How lovely then for us to have this trip to look forward to, our own mini family “honeymoon” if you will. I know that we travel often, but it is a real treat to be here just the three of us with nothing on the agenda except for rest and relaxation. Of course I couldn’t resist a quick tour around the Island late yesterday morning as well…
Hamilton Princess couldn’t be more comfortable, and we have been spending lots of time at the beach club as well. It is well set up for families with lots of toys, a playground, a restaurant which delivers right to your beach chair, and hammocks — a first for our little one!
As soon as we arrived the day before last, we headed out for a quick swim and early evening cocktail on the beach, followed by dinner in front of the harbor at the hotel. It was a deeply relaxing way to kick off the next three days, and set the tone for the week.
Yesterday, we toured around the island, checking out every beach imaginable before quickly driving through the old village of St. George before sunset.
Thank you to everybody for the generous recommendations, I look forward to spending even more time here in future so that I can check each one off the list! XX
Will and I have been determined to travel with our son (and hopefully future children) as much as we can but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t intimidating, especially the days leading up to a big trip. Our son has traveled with us a lot, he has gone to the West coast a handful of times, Europe twice and up and down the East coast often. I actually find that the more we do it, the easier it is. The most nervous I have been to travel is when we are entirely out of practice. There was one six week period early (maybe 7 or 8 months old) on where we traveled four times (including one of our West coast trips) and it became quite breezy because it was a set part of our routine. This time before we left for France for our extended stay, we spent more time at home in Charleston than we have in years, and so I was feeling a bit panicked. Regardless, I could easily remember how worth it it all is as last year’s memory was fresh in my mind.
Flying to Europe
A redeye is great if you have a decent sleeper. If you can, do an extra seat. We never did it and we made it through just fine, back of the plane, hopefully not in the middle. I do recommend booking flights on the phone and talking to an emphatic operator. On more than one occasion, booking on the phone on JetBlue (local flights) and Delta has helped us get better seats — either the very front of the plane, which is desirable with a baby for so many reasons, or on a longer flight, in a two seat set rather than a middle row of four, which is far more comfortable. Even if it is miserable, remember that it’s just a blip in time. If there’s a meltdown, so be it. Most people on the flight have either had children and wish to relate to you about one excruciating flight experience or they have noise-canceling headphones and are just thrilled its not them.
I try to remind myself to just relax, go with the flow, bring baby carrier and lots of new toys. Sticker books, a white board, and big legos were our go-to’s this time around. My best friend traveled from San Diego to France to join us this year with her six month old and told me that she asked the hostesses to tell her all the worst things they had seen over a glass of wine — fantastic idea!
I forgo a handbag and just use a diaper bag packed to the brim with new toys, snacks, water bottles, extra pacifiers (because our guy still uses his), diapers, wipes, sanitizer, milk etc. I also dress comfortably, and this time I switched from jeans into something more comfortable on the flight which was life-changing. Growing up, my mother always taught me to dress up for flights, and I try maintain this as best I can while also being realistic. Bring spare clothes for the whole family if possible!
Make yourself at home.
An extended stay is designed to help you create a second way of life, a second home. Put your baby on a schedule, settle into a new routine. It’s not about a hotel mentality, it’s about a home mentality in a totally new place and it is such a pleasure! I really recommend trying to find a rental so that you can get into a rhythm.
We try to get on the local time zone right away. We’re zombies after the redeye but the excitement of arriving, and the endless espressos help. If our little one sleeps in the car, we usually arrive mid-morning so try to skip a nap for the rest of the day to get on a regular bedtime. The first year was tough with lots of nightly wake ups, this year was a dream. Both trips were great, so we just did the best we could.
What to pack
As little as possible while still also bringing the essentials that help with the transition: a handful of cuddly toys, a favorite blanket, some familiar books and toys. We find that our son is so fascinated by his new surroundings that he doesn’t need as many toys in the beginning, and then we pick up cheap and cheerful items as needed: a plastic truck, a noodle for the pool, some new books, etc.
In our case, all the toiletries that we use in the U.S. are readily available in the French pharmacies, so we can leave those heavy items at home and pick them up locally. Same goes for diapers, formula, etc, no need to bring them for an extended stay.
I know that we have a laundry machine so don’t need to overpack on clothes, and if he outgrows anything on the trip, we leave it behind (give it away).
Other thoughts, in no particular order:
Don’t forget that you need a baby passport!!
Use the local currency, even when prompted on the card machines.
Rather than renting a hotel, I recommend renting an apartment or house for the extended stay so that you can have a kitchen and get into a routine without worrying
Go early in the summer. Everybody in Europe takes their holiday in August, so go May and June. August is the most expensive and most crowded.
Transition into village life, local life, as quickly as possible by finding out what the heartbeat of the town is, pottery, rug making, etc. and also where the best bakers and artisans are.
Eat where the locals eat (hint: places that are full at lunchtime and evenings.
Buy local buy local buy local!!!! As in America, look for local markets. Cook at home 🙂 Particularly places like France, people don’t do big shopping they go every day to buy fresh bread, vegetables. They buy what is ripe that day and they eat it that night, it’s a very different way of shopping and eating.
Pimsleur programs are a great way to learn the language, just enough to get by at least!
REALX AND ENJOY you extended stay, it’s all a part of life’s rich tapestry. XX
As promised here is our St Tropez guide. We have been spending summers in France (St. Tropez) since I was very little. My earliest memories are of the crowded, hot market, weaving my way through the crowds hand in hand with my older cousin. We still love to visit the market and I find that in May/June when we visit, it’s far less crowded than it is in mid-August. Still, I recommend going early if you can, everything is just a bit easier that way. It is on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7:30-1:30 and is full of lots of delicious food, spices, linens, lavender, soaps, jewelry, clothes, homewares and linens — jackpot! Here is a little glimpse into what it looks like:
Market days also make the village very busy, so if I am going to run errands or spend a day in St. Tropez, I tend to avoid those days if I can. A lot of shops close after lunch, say from 1-4, but they stay open very late which can make for a fun early evening activity. My favorite clothing shops are: Des Petite Hauts, LULU, Baar & Bass,Gas Bijoux, By Marie, Zimmermann, BLABLA & Sunday. There’s also a little shop which says Dupuis 1903 which has great presents (both men & women) and staples for the wardrobe and home.
Inside Baar & Bass (above & below):
Shop window of Dupuis 1903:
Inside Petite Hauts, below:
A great candle shop on one of my favorite quiet streets in the village above and BLABLA’s storefront below:
LULU above which sits close to the Dior house & the new Zimmerman St. Tropez HQ!
Besides that, we spend a lot of time wandering through the flowery cobblestone streets, eating tomato sandwiches from street vendors, and ice cream from Barbarac in the port — a must, and it melts quickly!!! Honestly we eat at the house most of the time so don’t do long dinners in town, but when I was younger we used to go to the Les Caves nightclub — not sure if it’s cool or not anymore but I love a good night of dancing so might be fun regardless!
Here I am in the port which is always full of fun boats to look at, I love it when giant wooden sailboats come in! MORE TRAVEL TIPS COMING! XXX
I just realized how much I have been talking about romance these days!! Chalk it up to putting our feet up for a bit in France and letting some of our daily stresses form home melt away. It’s also really hard not to feel that dreamy, relaxed loving way when you sink into such a beautiful, serene environment. And for me, spending less time on my phone is such a delicious way to reconnect with the people right in front of me! But I do promise that I will get on to other topics soon enough – right after this lovely romantic dinner.
This was one of our final evenings, and one of our rare few just us. After we settled our son to sleep, we lit the candles per usual and had a lovely sunset dinner on my grandmother’s terrace. I’m sure it’s not hard to see why this is one of my favorite places in the world.
These etched candle shades are one of my favorite things of hers and are so lovely and romantic, I let them be at the center of our table so that we can enjoy them. On this particular evening, I used simple woven placemats and one of our new plate sets from the Jas des Roberts. A simple linen napkin, fresh market peonies and etched glasses completed the easy set up.
I love that last moment of glowing daylight, after which the candles really start to twinkle – its the most romantic dinner moment of all. There is no light outside so we have to light up the wall and other tables around — I think it was over one of these dinners when I was so swept up that I suggested to Will that we live by candlelight after dark for a year. He quickly dismissed that idea!
One of the best suggestions for a romantic night is keeping the food so simple. In this case, we had a flaky spinach pie from the patisserie and a salad with lentils followed by ice cream and berries — hard to beat! XX
Back in April Will and I flew to Pensacola on assignment with Garden & Gun magazine. Since moving to Charleston it has been a goal of mine to work with Garden & Gun, so of course we leapt at the opportunity to go with them on this learning and photography adventure.
Pensacola, famous for its white sand beaches and crystal clear ocean, wants to share the story of its thriving arts community, and the magazine sent a content creation crew to explore and find out more about it.
What we discovered was an absolutely charming little city; a clean picturesque, walkable downtown, historic architecture, excellent restaurants and no end of friendly welcoming people genuinely excited to share the story of this historic place.
The arts pack a real punch for a town with a modest population, featuring a ballet, orchestra, theater and an art museum. The university is actively involved in the revival, buying and repurposing the land and buildings that have been abandoned by industry, and turning them into cultural and learning exhibits that benefit locals and tourists alike.
The Saenger Theatre is the beating heart of the arts — sold out for Symphony and Ballet events in advance. We were lucky enough to meet with Peter Rubardt, the lovely Symphony Director who, over 21 years, has seen the transformation in the city first hand. He has played an integral role in growing the reputation of the symphony by attracting world class musicians to perform to sell out crowds.
We kicked off culinary tour with dinner at Union Public House, a fun bistro pub with excellent cocktails and a large menu that focuses on local ingredients. Other culinary highlights of the trip included Restaurant Iron, and the food trucks that have moved in to serve the growing downtown population. We finished our trip with a visit to Fish House that sits directly on the water with lovely views. It’s a very fun place where locals and tourists come together.
No trip to Pensacola is complete without a trip to the lighthouse. We climbed the steps to look out for the Tall Ships arriving for the festival that day. As Will scoured the horizon I clung to the edges of the building limpet-like before descending backwards both hands on the rail!
We stayed at Lee House, close to everything and perfectly situated for sunny morning strolls in the historic district — porch living at its finest!
Thank you to Garden & Gun for having us, and to Vacation Artfully for sponsoring this post.
We landed back in France in the early hours of yesterday morning, and it feels like a completely different place – summer has (belatedly) arrived! Everything is now dry and the temperatures at night are balmy. What better way to celebrate the change in seasons than with a picnic at sunset on the edge of the property.
For the best evening views you have to climb out onto a fire-road that follows a ridge past our temporary home. The sun sets beyond a mountain range in the far distance. Yesterday was one of the longest days of the year so we had plenty of time to soak up some golden light and a enjoy a glass of something cold.
We loved our time in England, particularly that spent with family and friends, but the cheese and bread simply do not stand up well by comparison. A very fresh baguette and some brie that responded to the warmth by beginning to ooze, were the perfect paring as we spent some time alone looking forward to the last section of our wonderful adventure.