TRAVEL

Theme 42: Pennsylvania. A weekend in Gettysburg

 Review on oldest inn in America - The Historic Fairfield Inn in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

There has been exciting changes in our lives. Ben and I are now proud owners of a beautiful white fluffy samoyed that we named Enzo (full name is Enzo Sir Lancelot of Pine, because let’s face it, I would never be satisfied with just one name!). We chose to get our samoyed from the breeder White Magic Samoyeds, and going to Pennsylvania to pick up our puppy was a main reason of our road trip adventure.

 Red door Fairfield Inn in Gettysburg
 My samoyed puppy

I have never been in Pennsylvania before, but there were quite a few places I was dying to explore. One of them was Fallingwater House designed by world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The house named “best all-time work of American architecture” was a little bit far from our final PA destination, so we opted to focus on exploring the city of Gettysburg and the nearby areas. 

 Pennsylvania antique store
 Pennsylvania

If you follow me on Instagram or regularly read my blog, you might know that I am a big history buff, and as Gettysburg town played a significant role during the American Civil War, it has a great deal of historical monuments, wartime relics and is soaked with hair-raising ghost tales. Gettysburg also has this wonderful small-town charm, beautiful old Victorian style houses and one of the oldest inns in the whole America - The Historic Fairfileld Inn.

The Fairfield Inn that was built in 1757 was originally the Mansion House of Squire Miller, an original founder of town. The Inn is irresistibly charming and preserves all the flavors and details of the Revolutionary and Civil War eras. The Inn offers a few beautiful elegant and cozy rooms, but unfortunately, the Fairfield Inn was bully booked for the weekend we visited. I do recommend you to stay at the Inn (and I will certainly go back to do so!) as it is a unique and very romantic experience, and so much more intriguing than some little basic hotel room at a generic giant hotel chain.

Even though, Ben and I couldn’t stay at the Inn, we still wanted to explore it. Luckily the Inn has excellent dining options. We were lucky, and on the day of our visit there was a limited period dinner theatre experience, and I was obviously excited about it! 

 Dinner Theatre with Professor Kerrigan

The Inn was even more wonderful and detail-rich than I imagined, and as we arrived early, we had some great conversation with the host of the dinner theatre, Professor Kerrigan, who performs Civil War era magic, tells dramatic ghost stories, and is frankly, hilarious and fascinating at the same time!

The show was lovely, and truly gave us a little feeling of being immersed in another time. Food was beyond excellent! Don’t expect expensive fancy gourmet dishes as the Inn offers authentic, filling, delicious meals, that give you a taste of home. It is the kind of food your grandmother lovingly prepares specially for you when you visit, or what you imagine people eating on Christmas or big weddings in the 19th century. I had one of the most tasty soups I EVER had - a traditional Ham & Bean soup from the original recipe that was used to feed the Confederate Army in 1863! Then we tried Ribs and famous Chicken & Biscuits, that is prepared using the old recipe  passed through generations of innkeepers for centuries. But the absolute highlight of the my period dining experience was a freshly baked berry pie that I am craving every day since.

 Dinner theatre with Professor Kerrigan
 Fairfield Inn dining options

It was such a pleasant and warm visit, and now I really want to go back during Christmas time as they put out a beautiful Christmas tree and all the fireplaces are inviting you to warm yourself next to the crackling fire. How wonderful does it sound?

Discovering and sharing precious and under-the-radar places in America really gives me pleasure, and I can’t wait to explore more charming towns, rich with history and hospitality of their habitants. 

 

 Fsirfield Inn 1757
 Fairfield Inn building
 Fairfield Inn Decor 1757

Theme 8: California Diary. Loews Hollywood Hotel Review

"There's something in the air in Hollywood"
 Blogger Ulia Ali review on Los Angeles Hollywood hotel

As every self-respecting blogger who is trying hard to fit in, every April I attend Coachella festival with Ben, who from a highly ranked financial consultant transforms into my full time photographer during our trips. The festival is actually our favorite excuse to stay in Los Angeles and explore the city more (aka looking for the most instagrammable places). One of the hotels we stayed at during our annual 'Californication', was Loews Hollywood Hotel.

Located in the heart of Hollywood - literally just next to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Dolby Theater that is best known as Oscars location since 2002, Loews Hollywood Hotel is a dreamy and tasteful choice of accommodation for every traveler that wants to be close to the La La Land world.

The Hills! The Hollywood sign! The Theaters! Do I even need to say more?!

 Loews Hollywood Blogger Review

Waking up to the world famous Hollywood sign is definitely a very cliche thing that HAS TO BE on your bucket list, and Loews Hollywood can make that dream come true! Apart from having the A-list view, the hotel room we had was beautiful, spacious and comfortable, and had a bunch of informative magazines and books that helped to plan our city walks.

As Ben and I used to live in hotels full time, we have an eye for details and pay a very close attention to how a hotel's staff treats their guests. We were very impressed by how clean and equipped was the room, and how INCREDIBLY friendly and respectful every member of the Loews Hollywood family was. It is mind blowing how many luxury hotels nowadays have problems with their staff. W Hotel in Dubai was a great hotel, but had the worst valet service ever; St. Regis Kauai staff couldn't remember our names after two weeks of us staying there and were not attentive at all. We not only had zero issues with Loews Hollywood Hotel, but we actually had one of the best valet experiences in the last few years. It might seem like a small detail, but small things do really matter!

 Loews Hollywood pool review and rating

There are a lot of great amenities at the hotel, including a well-equipped gym, but me and my friend Vivien, who joined Ben and I on this trip, fell in love with the pool and hanged out there more than we initially planned. The view at the pool area make me geek out to this day as it a little bit reminds me of Ancient Assyrian wall reliefs. And any historical reference and a unique photo spot ranks high in my book.

I honestly think it is one of the most Instagrammable and just photogenic in general, pools in Los Angeles!

 Loews Hollywood 4 star hotel review

If you are hungry, Loews Hollywood offers a great variety of dining options, including a lovely American restaurant Preston's and a fun, filled with beautiful people, H2 Kitchen & Bar. It is not a secret that the breakfast buffet is one of my favorite parts of the staying at hotels (oh c'mon, we all can appreciate a variety of pastries and 10 types of cheeses on a plate to choose from!), and Loews Hollywood has an excellent one. I am getting hungry now by just thinking of that freshly made omelette and a bowl of fruits, soaked in honey :)

 Loews Hollywood

Another thing to mention and that is, I am sure, important for many of you, is the pricing point. For the service, location and the comfort you can't beat Loews Hollywood prices (less than $300 a night). The hotel is modern, chic and upbeat, but is family friendly and offers a calm retreat to the adventurers in the middle of the Hollywood's delicious madness!

 Ulia Ali - review of Los Angeles hotels

 Yandy swimsuits review

Swimsuit from: Yandy


Theme 39. Arabian Adventure. Four Seasons Dubai, Sea Fu review

 Ulia Ali - travel and fashion blogger, fiction writer. Review on Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah. Sea Fu restaurant.

Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach - Jet Set Oasis

Dubai has made a name for itself catering to the luxury-minded jet set crowd over the years, so it was only a matter of time before the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels group installed their beach-side desert offering: Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach (FS for short because #carpaltunnel).

For those of you who have not had the privilege of gracing the threshold of a Four Seasons, let me be the first to tell you that you are in for a treat should the opportunity arise to visit one of their 109 (and counting) properties worldwide.

 Gorgeous Four Seasons
 Four Seasons Dubai beach

Like many of their locations, the FS exudes opulence from the moment you approach the grounds. A sweeping paver stone driveway lined with trees lifts you up and away from the bustle of Jumeirah St. Through gaps in the greenery as your drive deeper, you will begin to notice the neutrally colored, Arabian influenced lines of the main building. Terraced construction incorporating terra-cotta and neutral tones is the perfect complement to the landscape, causing one to forget that a city of steel and glass is only 15 minutes away. If you look closely at the buildings, you may notice nods to the Arabian culture in the form of Horseshoe Arches and large, ornate doors standing between you and marble lined lobby of the FS.

 Four Seasons Dubai Review

As one would expect from a Four Seasons, the lobby is the crown jewel. Every Four Seasons seeks to make the entry way to each of their hotels a statement. Dubai is no exception. With an attention to detail second to none, the FS unabashedly flaunts the line between palace and hotel. Gold trim, deep brown hues, neutral tones, complex light fixtures comprised of baubles and more flowers than Versailles in spring, the FS transports you.

Now, our engagement on this particular adventure was at one of the FS’s dining venues known as Sea Fu. The FS mantra is about experiencing sensory environments. So, if you can accept that the lobby overwhelms, Sea Fu relaxes, much to the same degree.

 Sea Fu Dubai, UAE
 Free People dress in Dubai
 Sea Fu menu, Dubai

Set in a quasi-outdoor, beachside setting, Sea Fu serves an Asian-inspired menu amongst pillars of wood and beneath umbrellas and billowing fabric. I highly recommend sitting outside as the breeze in winter or early spring is still pleasant. However, should the sun be too harsh, the interior of Sea-Fu is a perfect alternative and a welcome respite from the sun. There is something about an ocean breeze and eating lunch on a terrace that is just…pleasing.

The staff at Sea Fu was, for lack of a better term, phenomenal. From the moment we approached the host stand to announce our arrival, we were treated with near-perfect deference (I say near-perfect because I have a penchant for restaurants that maintain a dress code that includes white gloves for their staff, but that is a story for another time). The truly standout quality however, ignoring the smiles, friendliness and attention of the staff was something that I believe every restaurant should take to heart and do: responsive and thoughtful guidance on the menu.

 Best sushi in Dubai
 Sea Fu Dubai, Four Seasons review by travel blogger Ulia Ali Pillmore
 Four Season's Sea Fu review by Ulia Ali Pillmore.
sea-fu-review

This may sound like a simple task, but the vast majority of restaurants do not ensure that their staff knows the menu.

When I patronize a restaurant I like to ask the waiter or waitress to pick items from the menu that they believe will constitute a meal representative of the quality and diversity of the restaurant. Few get this right. More often than not, the selections are representative, but not of what is good, but what is popular, or what they think I will like based on their judgement. For those of you who know me personally, you will know that I drink and I know things. But you will also know that I eat. I love good food.

Sea Fu understood this. Our waitress selected dishes that complemented one another, were varied enough in their execution to not leave us bored and diverse in flavor to the point that we had to throw in the proverbial towel for lack of capacity. It was beautifully executed and showcased what I love best in a restaurant: mastery of a variety of techniques. 

In the words of Paul Prudhomme: “You don't need a silver fork to eat good food.”. Fine by me, the FS (and Dubai) happens to prefer gold anyway.

Until next time,

- BAP

 Free People dress in Dubai
 Desert in Dubai. Sea Fu at Four Seasons review.
 Lotus Flower Sea Fu
 Sea Fu review
 Impressive deserts of the world
 Dubai food - Sea Fu Four Seasons review

P.S. For the curious among you, here is what we had for lunch:

Small Plates: Edamame, Spicy Chicken

Sushi: Yuzu Tempura Roll

Raw Bar: Hokkaido Scallops

Main: Seared Black Cod

Dessert: Mochi Selection, Lotus Flower

 Four Seasons Dubai

SHOP MY LOOk:

My Dress - Free People (it comes in 4 colors and it is my favorite dress EVER!)

Bag - Louis Vuitton (It was a Christmas gift from my hubby)

Jewelry - Sequin Jewelry (My favorite Jewelry company! Everything is so gorgeous)


Theme 31: Coachella 2017. Outfits, parties and celebrities sightseeing.

 Coachella Outfits 2017 of Ulia Ali. Fashion and lifestyle blogger.

If you have never been to Coachella, I suggest you to add it to your bucket list! I have been to a few festivals in the UK and the Unites States before, and almost always been very lucky to have premium tickets, and a group of fun friends with me, however NOTHING came even close to Coachella.

I won't lie, Coachella IS EXPENSIVE even if you get general admission tickets and stay in your own tent. But if you like comfort, want to see concerts and your favorite celebrities in their natural habitat, I suggest you splurge on more expensive tickets and fancy hotels. Luckily, Ben with the help of the great SPG Moments team organized a very well-planned, luxurious and pleasant festival trip as a part for our 1-year anniversary.

 Hospitality Tent Coachella 2017
 Polaroids from Coachella Festival
 Couple at Coachella
 Amex Platinum House at Palm Springs. Le Parker Hotel.

After spending a couple of days in Los Angeles (I will show you some beautiful pictures we took there in the next post!), we drove to Palm Springs, where we had the most awesome 'Coachella Pad' I could dream of: a beautiful suite at Le Parker Meridien Hotel. Moreover, SPG Moments were able to get us Artist & Guest Coachella wristbands that rarely go on sale for the general public and are quite hard to get. Those tickets grant you access to almost every area on the Coachella grounds, including the Artists area (where all the celebrities hang out), and most importantly you get access to the front row at EVERY concert. 

What amazed me is how well the whole festival was organized and perfectly orchestrated! I can't even imagine how much work it takes organizers to pull off an event on such a grand scale EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

 Coachella 2017. Beautiful Sky

We didn't spend much time in the general admission area as it was way too overwhelming and busy for us, but I was happy with every little detail in the more exclusive areas. A plethora of delicious food choices in the VIP area, clean bathrooms, the most stunning men and women in exotic or just very stylish outfits around me, enjoying themselves, positivity and love spread all over; it was just like finding a little paradise on Earth. Maybe I was lucky, but I didn’t see any drunk or high people, or crazy behavior (well, almost none :)), and the Festival felt like just this one big, happy place with amazing music.

 Coachella outfit-ulia-ali
 Coachella Festival Look. Custom denim shirt.

A lot of people are interested in what celebrities I saw at Coachella and if it’s true that they are all around you. I can tell you, it is true and you will definitely be around some sort of celebrity, whether it’s a favorite blogger of yours, Victoria's Secret model or Kendall Jenner, even if you stay in the General Admission area. 

I was skeptical about seeing anyone the first day, but when I was scanning my ticket to enter Coachella, my wrist band (which is your ticket) took a minute to scan, and I felt bad for the guy behind me who seemed to be impatient to get in. It ended up being A$AP Rocky and his crew. After that it was just a blur of different famous people like Drake walking by, the Jenner sisters sipping on their cocktails, Michelle Rodrigues talking loudly to her friends, and being quite unrecognisable in her huge shades, Katy Perry who is surprisingly very tiny, but amazingly gorgeous. I don't really follow celebrity culture, so I was talking/asking this beautiful blonde with a pixie haircut about a cart (the Coachella grounds are so huge, you can actually wait for a cart to take you), and was wondering why she has such a huge entourage, and then realised that it was Katy. It was quite a funny moment :)

Another person we were excited to chat with was Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross from Suits). I didn't take any pictures with anyone because I believe it is more fun to actually take time to chat with people you admire seeing on screen and get to know their real personalities. They are all just humans (maybe more talented and good looking, but definitely just humans) and want to enjoy themselves. Ask yourself if you would really like to be asked to pose for a picture by strangers every time you go out? 

So by all means go to Coachella and stare at famous people as long as you want, but don't go there hoping to take selfies with Kardashians.

 I will take my own selfie, thank you! :)

I will take my own selfie, thank you! :)

Coachella is famous for its amazing concerts and a variety of widely-loved artists. This year there were more than 250 artists with Lady Gaga, Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar as headliners, however Ben and I were most excited about Hans Zimmer! He is one of of my favorite composers of all time, and being in the first row, right in front of the stage and listening to him and a wonderful orchestra of talented musicians play his music from Inception, The Lion King, Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean was so magical, I even teared up at the end. Pharell Williams also made a surprise appearance at Hans Zimmer's concert, which I was pretty stoked about.

 First row at Hans Zimmer!

First row at Hans Zimmer!

By the way, if you are an influencer or just a very friendly person, chances are you won't just be hanging out at Coachella during the festival weekends. Coachella is almost like a major Fashion Week, with tons of pool parties, big brands' collection launches and promo-events. Without even planning anything ahead, I ended up being invited to tons of exciting events and parties, including big Amex Platinum House event and Popsugar party. So make sure you bring a LOT of outfits. I had to change probably five times a day (sometimes in a car!), and by the end of day 3 I was so exhausted I almost got sick :)

 Ulia Ali
 Le Parker Meridien
 Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs.
 Hot Meshki silver dress. Transparent sparkling silver dress.

Для моих русскоязычных читателей:


Коачелла - один из самых популярных музыкальных фестивалей в мире. Фестиваль проходит в апреле в два трехдневных этапа (пятница-воскресенье) с разницей в неделю. На Коачелле очень много грандиозных сцен и различных тентов,  что означает что на территории фестиваля в одно и то же время идет несколько концертов и шоу! На одном Weekend'e выступает более 250 очень популярных и знаменитых музыкантов. То есть пока вы смотрите как отжигает Lady Gaga, на другой сцене играет какой-нибудь потрясающий модный DJ,  а в отдалении еще читает реп Drake. Не буду врать,  иногда мы с мужем разрывались не зная на какой именно концерт сходить,  но у нас похожий вкус, так что проблем не возникло.

Коачелла занимает огромную территорию в более 40 гектар, так что переходить от сцены к сцене занимает немалое количество времени, но к счастью если вы обладатель браслета-билета для артистов или VIP зоны,  то вас могут катать по территории специальные гольф-карты с водителями. 

Кстати о билетах, на Коачеллу не так-то легко попасть! Билеты раскупают в считанные часы после релиза (обычно за более чем полугода до фестиваля),  и многим приходится находить перекупщиков или находить какие-то контакты в музыкальной сфере.

Фестиваль для многих из стран СНГ звучит как какой-то дешевый концерт с морем алкоголя,  ночевкой в сыром тенте и прочими "прелестями". На самом деле обычные билеты и место для вашей собственной палатки на специально приспособленной территории фестиваля далеко не дешевые.  Cамый дешевый билет стоит $400 + если хотите поставить свою собственную палатку,  придется платить $60 за то что занимаете место. Прибавьте к этому транспорт (Коачелла находится в часу езды от Palm Springs и почти 3 часа от Лос-Анджелеса), питание и прочее и вы получите довольно внушительную сумму. 

Билеты-браслеты, кстати, значительно отличаются друг от друга. На каждый weekend Коачелла разные по значимости билеты имеют разный цвет. Всего около 4 разновидностей браслетов (к моему сведению): обычные (самые дешевые и есть доступ только к общим зонам), VIP билеты (есть доступ к VIP зонам с большим количеством вкусной еды,  магазинчиков, более свободные бары, рестораны,  больше туалетов + в этой зоне чаще всего тусуются блоггеры и захаживают знаменитости.  Вся VIP зона очень приятная и люди тут все как на подбор красивые,  аккуратные и не ведут себя как сумасшедшие. Здесь более так скажем чинно и благородно чем в Общей Зоне).

Так же есть билеты-браслеты для Звезд и их Гостей и они дают доступ практически ко всему что есть на всей территории Coachella, и вдобавок к VIP зоне с такими билетами можно пройти к зоне где отдыхают знаменитости, их друзья и родственники, приватным садам и озеру, на берегу, которого можно заметить целующихся звездных парочек. Такие билеты обычно практически не продаются, и их можно получить только если ты звезда,  знаешь кого-то важного в музыкальной индустрии или/и готов заплатить за один билет более $3000. Нам с Беном повезло, потому что он приобрел именно такой вот билет через SPG Moments, так как он давно уже член  SPG. С такими билетами у вас просто 0 шансов уйти НЕ УВИДЕВ какую-нибудь звезду первой величины.  Так и мне удалось поболтать с Кэти Перри, которую я в первые секунды разговора даже и не узнала, увидеть сестер Дженнерс попивающих коктейли, толкаться в очереди с ну очень маленькой,  но очень громкой Мишель Родригес, и завести разговор c Патриком Адамсом (Майк Росс из сериала SUITS). Больше всего меня порадовало то,  что с этими билетами можно пройти в огороженную зону прямо перед сценой, и практически каждый концерт мы стояли в первых рядах,  а на Hans Zimmer'a мы пришли пораньше и вообще стояли первые прям перед сценой. 

Так же есть билеты для организаторов фестиваля и людей следящих за тем,  чтобы фестиваль работал как часы. 

Если вы блоггер или просто очень активная и дружелюбная личность, то не думайте,  что вот так вот концертами и отделаетесь :) Фестиваль Коачелла - это ужа почти как Неделя Моды в Париже или в Нью-Йорке с модными брендами устраивающими пресс-релизы, громкие пляжные вечеринки со своим списком именитых звезд и всякие показы новых коллекций за пределами Фестиваля, чаще в Palm Springs. В конце weekend'a Коачелла я просто валилась с ног и чуть не заболела! Это потрясающий опыт и очень благотворно влияет на работу если вы digital influencer, но ужасно изматывает.

Кстати,  если вы все же решились накопить денег и поехать на этот потрясающий фестиваль, бронируйте отель заранее! Отели обычно во время проведения фестиваля просто упомрачительно дорогие,  а если вы хотите остаться в хорошем отеле в  Palm Springs,  то приготовьтесь к небольшому разрыву сердца от увиденной цены :D Для экономии советую посмотреть на сьемные квартиры на AirBnb.

Не стесняйтесь задавать вопросы! Я с удовольствием отвечу. 
 

If you want to see more of our Coachella adventures, subscribe to my new YOUTUBE channel!

I have already uploaded 2 Coachella videos, and part 3 is coming out soon, so make sure you don't miss it! 


Week 30: Utah. The Most Romantic Restaurant in the United States!

 The Most romantic restaurant in The United States. Beautiful fairy La Caille.

When Ben and I were in Utah, he took me on a surprise date. I didn't know where exactly we were driving, but from the moment I saw the gates of La Caille, I knew I would inevitably fall in love with the place. The grounds of La Caille are like a magical fairytale land with stunning scenery a la Narnia in Winter or SnowWhite's little castle in summer.

We drove through the beautiful snow-covered forest towards the French-inspired Chateau, passing a frozen lake with a lonely, graceful swan white as winter, greeting us like a wild guardian. Have you ever seen a single, wild swan on a frozen lake? It is more magnificent that you can ever imagine, and reminded me of the Swan Princess fairytale (yes, yes, I love fables!).

 La Caille Restaurant
 Beauty and the Best USA restaurant
 La Caille
 La Caille Restaurant. Fairy Tale Castle

But the surprises didn't end there. After we parked and started walking to the main building, we saw peacocks - brightly coloured, proud and magnificent sitting on the snow dusted branches of trees, or strolling around, almost guiding us to La Caille's entrance. I was already imagining myself as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, secretly wondering if all these wonderful creatures were under some sort of spell. A few seconds later I noticed an abundance of fluffy bunnies and hares jumping around. Squealing with great delight like a 5-year old, I was finally dragged by my already freezing husband inside the little 18th-century Chateau. He knew I could spend hours just chasing bunnies and petting exotic birds, and we would probably never get to the actual dining experience if he let me do that :)

The decor of the castle is no less than a feast for your eyes, especially if you like opulent French style and a Marie Antoinette vibe. The story of this hidden treasure of Utah, is also fascinating,and deserves its own TV series: steamy affairs, multi-million dollar legal battles, and a murder-suicide of the owners, husband and wife, who fulfilled a pact to end their lives together on Christmas night a decade ago.

Such a tragic Shakespearean love story only adds to the mystique of La Caille, the most magical restaurant in the United States, that will put you under its spell the moment you set your foot on its grounds.


Need I mention that food at the restaurant is FANTASTIC?! From the most delicious cocktails to mouthwatering French dishes, and original desserts, La Caille will amaze even the most sophisticated gourmand. La Caille also has beautiful gardens, a huge greenhouse, and an amazing vineyard you should definitely check out.

Ladies, if you are looking for the perfect wedding destination, I seriously recommend you look into La Caille.

You won't regret it! To be honest, I cannot wait to visit La Caille in Summer, and bring more people to this little piece of a fairytale land in our mundane world.

 The most beautiful restaurant in the world! La Caille
 Photo of Ulia Ali
french-restaurant-utah
 Monkey Lamp in French Restaurant
 Gorgeous door
 La Caille Restaurant
 La Caille sculptures
 The most beautiful restaurant in the world
 La Caille
 La Caille fire
 The most romantic restaurant in the United States.
 La Caille restaurant
 La Caille bathroom
 La Caille gates
 Gorgeous romantic fairytale castle open to public. Restaurant.