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Stephanie-Johnson,-Mykonos,

Nothing like a trip to the Greek islands to jump-start your summer.  I’d never been so when a friend asked me to celebrate her 40th birthday on the island of Mykonos, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  After a quick overnight stop in Santorini (read about it here), my friend Marlien and I headed straight for party central:  Mykonos.  And what a party it was.  Think swimming in the sea to the thump of the DJ on the sand, never ending magnums of Domain Ott Rosé, Greek salads for every meal, dancing on your table post dinner, and nonstop fun.  In fact, such fun that four members of team birthday were sent to the hospital in the first 24 hours with injuries that included a broken foot and tooth.  Ah, the good life.

STAY

Santa Marina – my fellow revelers and I camped at this beachfront Starwood property.  Our room was simple (and small) with a balcony boasting views of the sea.  It’s a hike up a hill to the rooms, so be sure to pack a bag for the day.  Great beach with paddle-boards and kayaks for rent and a seaside restaurant.

Stephanie-Johnson,-Marlien-

EAT

We hopped a ten minute boat ride from our hotel to Kalua on Paraga Beach for a 2pm lunch.  We had a festive meal (for 80) with delicious salads, fried calamari and whole fish.  The rosé flowed liked water.  Our meal rolled into three hours of afternoon table dancing and l joined the DJ to spin some tunes.  Such fun that our hostess proclaimed herself to have had a ‘life realization’ that she is a ‘day’ party person.  I’m right with you girl!

At night we watched the sunset from the most incredible vantage from the deck at Capri in Little Venice.  Canvas deck chairs lined the wall facing the sea and the water would sometimes lap over the wall getting our feet wet.  Sublime.

Dinner followed at Caprice a few steps away with views of the sea so close you catch the spray on your face.  A gorgeous Mediterranean meal under those famous windmills and surrounded by the sea.  We got the party started when my friend Marlien dared me to dance on the table after dessert (read about that and more on Marlien’s blog, Le Catch).  Why not?  An hour later the entire restaurant was prancing from table top to table top shaking whatever they got.  Memories in the making.   Supreme fun.

Stephanie-Johnson,-Flat-Pou

LISTEN

Daft Punk’s Get Lucky was the anthem for the weekend and let’s face it, also for the summer of 2013.

DO

Do NOT wear heels unless you’ve got a pair of flats in your clutch.  This island is so rocky and steep that flat sandals are the only way to go.

DO rent a car or a scooter or a four wheel ATV if you are sober enough to operate one.  The island only has 30 taxis and we found ourselves stranded on more than one occasion.

Thank you to sweet Annie for including me in your birthday bash and introducing me to this beautiful island and to the most incredible new friends.  I look forward to sharing more good times!

What would a Greek getaway be without a little Athens (mis)adventure?  Read about it in my upcoming post, Destination Greece:  Part Three!

Stephanie-Johnson,-Mykonos,

DESTINATION:  AUSTIN

by guest blogger Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, founder of BFFL Co.  Elizabeth is an MD, a runner, a mother of 4 athletes and an Austin, TX lover.

The city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” and pretty much every aspect of this blue city in a sea of red stays true to that motto.  Austin is a town filled with great music, delicious food, unusual shops and a very friendly, active people.

LISTEN

Let’s start with the music.  You can’t take three steps in Austin without encountering a jazz club or street musician.  When walking in the downtown area or along South Congress, it’s impossible not to enjoy the lively outdoor sounds and the absolute eccentricity of it all.  There are over 200 live music venues in Austin!  Some of my favorite places to catch a listen are Cactus Café near UT and Momo’s along 6th Street.

SHOP

Not only can you hear great music along South Congress, but the food and shopping can’t be beat.  Who can make a trip to Texas without buying a pair of cowboy boots?  The selection at Allen’s Boots is mind blowing.

By George boasts haute couture in a down home state.  A few doors down, do not pass by Uncommon Objects, where the cornucopia ranges from teapots to trophies to kitsch beyond your wildest dreams.  I love the diversity of stores, many featuring weird and clever signage.

A visit to UT and the campus store is definitely a must, as the golden brown paraphernalia and a longhorn sweatshirt or hat is a requirement for the ride home.

STAY

For this trip, I chose the clean and ideally-located Radisson, due to the 14 teenage swimmers I was chaperoning for a swim meet at UT!  On past trips, I have stayed at some pretty amazing hotels.  For tennis and golf, try Barton Creek.  This classy resort even has an indoor track for really hot summer days when you need exercise.  The rolling hills surrounding the property are perfect for those craving some outdoor recreation and you may even catch a glimpse of Austin resident Lance Armstrong on his bike!

The Hotel San Jose and the Austin Motel are perfect hideaways for different budgets.  When downtown, stop by the Driskill.  This beautiful Romanesque style building is the oldest hotel in downtown, and is conveniently located near my favorite food truck and jazz clubs!

The boutique hotels along South Congress are perfectly situated for the shopping along that street and for access to Lady Bird Lake for a run along the trails.  No need to drag along a water bottle, as Run Tex and other sporty stores support free water stops for you and your four legged friends.  So thoughtful.  When in season, you can experience the Bat Bridge at Congress as well:  at sunset thousands of bats swarm under the bridges, keeping the mosquito population at bay and spooking out the visitors.

EAT

No trip to Austin would be complete without a visit to Whole Foods on North Lamar.  This enormous gastronomic extravaganza dwarfs any of the offerings I’m used to in the cramped and congested East Coast I call home.  From organic foods to Italian gelato to a buffet of every possible type of food:  Indian, German, Italian, Greek, sandwiches, a carving station, and seafood.  Everything looks and feels a little healthier in Austin.

The food trucks, however, are my favorites.  Fried pickles at Mr. P’s Electric Cock, The Short Bus for Sandwiches, Turf N’ Surf, and Kebabolicious were inexpensive delicious eats.  Because Austin is such an outdoor oriented, active lifestyle city, take a guilt-free trip to County Line or Ironworks for BBQ, knowing you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work it off!

For more about Elizabeth and her partnership with Stephanie to create the BFFL (Best Friends for Life) bag, click here.

 

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