The Fisherman's Cave House

During our trip to Santorini, we divided our time between two villages- Oía and Imerovigli. Our first stop was Oía, located at the northern end of the island.

When researching accomodations, I hoped to find a home that was representative of the architecture found in the Cyclades Islands. Airbnb came through with The Fisherman's Cave House.  It was literally the stuff that dreams are made of! As the name implies, our cave house was built into the earth - clinging to a cliff face on the caldera rim to be specific.

The interior was minimal and natural. I loved the stucco walls, the cave shower and giant stone wash basin.

And the views? They were jaw-droppingly beautiful. Seriously, my mouth was agape and I think I hugged our porter. 

From our private terrace, we could gaze directly out at the Mediterranean. We spent most of our time in the jacuzzi, staring down at the turquoise waters of Ammoudi Bay or watching the crowds gather on the Byzantine castle wall for the famed Oía sunset. 

Occasionally you might feel the spray from the sea or hear the tin-like sound of bells from the donkeys wandering up the footpath that connects Oía and Ammoudi Bay. The energy was magic. 

Each morning breakfast was delivered to our terrace. We enjoyed espresso and Greek yogurt with Santorini peaches while feeling the warmth of the sun.

During the day, it was a only short walk into the village or to the footpath that leads down to Ammoudi Bay, yet the house felt very secluded at the tip of the island (and probably due to all the stairs you had to descend to get there)! It was a true luxury to return our accomodation during the hot August afternoons when Oía was bustling with tourists.

By far, the most special feature of the property was the front-row seat to the "best sunset in the world". I am a believer! While the crowds would gather hours in advance to watch the sunset, we would lazily wander inside to take a shower, put on our evening attire and pour a few glasses of Santorini wine. When we were ready, we would step outside to watch the sun dip into the sea from our private perch. It was so romantic and relaxing. 

I am forever grateful to our host Panos for sharing this little slice of heaven with his guests. 

Next stop: Highlights from the village of Oía!

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Hôtel de Glace

As I mentioned in my previous post, we enjoyed taking the scenic drive from Québec to Valcartier to visit the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel).

It blows my mind that each year they design and construct the buildings that make up this beautiful hotel. I imagine it requires quite the team of builders, designers and artisans. Ice isn't an easy medium!  

The ice hotel is open to the public (for a fee) during the day, and a day pass lets you explore both the property and the guest rooms.

There is a big variation in room size and decor. I preferred the sparsely decorated, minimalistic rooms, but my little one obviously loved the rooms with a bit of whimsy, especially a room which resembled Santa's workshop.

The whole family enjoyed exploring the tunnel-like corridors, going down the ice slide and stopping at the on-site sugar shack for maple syrup snow candy. 

There is also a chapel, a nordic spa with hot tubs and a full ice bar.

I recommend going on a sunny day, especially at golden hour. The light shining through the ice blocks is quite beautiful. 

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Québec

We recently took a weekend getaway to Québec City for the second year in a row. It is only a five hour drive from upstate New York but feels like a world away. I imagine it would be wonderful to visit any time of year, but it is truly a winter wonderland with the cobblestone streets covered in snow and the greenery and lights that remain up all season.

We chose to stay at the same hotel as last year - The Hôtel Port-Royal. It is a lovely boutique hotel located in Old Québec (Vieux-Québec) and the location is unbeatable for exploring. They are also family friendly! Our room was spacious and charming, and because of the exchange rate it was also only $76 per night. It was a little hard to leave the comfort of our warm accomodation in the morning, but well worth it for a short stroll over to La Maison Smith for maple lattes, hot chocolate and croissants.

After our petite breakfast, we wandered the streets of the old port including the pedestrian street Quartier Petit Champlain

If you visit Québec in the winter, this street is a must. It looks like a Christmas village complete with music, lights, tiny shops and falling snow.

For views of the Saint Lawrence river, take the stairs or the funiculaire up to the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. It's also a great place to people watch, grab a coffee or enjoy winter merriment during Carnaval de Québec.

We began our afternoon by trekking over to La Grande-Allèe du Vieux-Québec. I really enjoyed this area of the city for its Victorian architecture, lovely row homes, cafes and its proximity to Battlefields Park (a huge, urban park and a great place for winter sports like nordic skiing and snow shoeing). After a short stroll through the neighborhood, we stopped for some poutine at Chez Ashton.

In the evening we took another walk to enjoy the lights and festivities (spiked hot chocolate anyone?) and we ate dinner at a cozy diner that was less than a block from our hotel.

Another highlight of the weekend was taking  a scenic drive out of the city to visit the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel). Henry loved exploring all the corridors, eating maple sugar snow candy and sliding down a huge slide made entirely of ice. 

It was a beautiful mini holiday. Until next time, Québec. 

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2017

Welcome 2017! 

In keeping with the spirit of 2016, I am inspired to continue on a path of minimalism and essentialism. I want to say yes to more of the things I love and eliminate the things I do not love. I want to honor this special time with Henry before he goes on to kindergarten. This means working less and accepting it, as hard as that can be for me at times.  I also want to embrace seasonal living in New York as challenging as it may be during the long winters. I want to continue to travel to places that make my heart explode! I want to keep striving to be the best version of myself-as an individual, mother and career woman.  

🖤

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-xx  

elissa