Travel

Michelob ULTRA Live ULTRA Kickoff in NYC!

As many of you may know, I'm officially a Michelob ULTRA ambassador! I'm so excited because I truly value a balanced lifestyle when it comes to staying fit and having fun, and the Michelob ULTRA brand perfectly embodies that. As an ambassador, I'll be partnering with them to bring fun fitness events, happy hours, and workout challenges to you! To start, check out this summer's Live ULTRA Series - exclusive fitness events throughout the country with food, music, and beer! And stay tuned because I will be leading one of the future events! 

As for the rest of this blog post - I want to recap last week's Live ULTRA kickoff event in New York City! 

I flew in late Wednesday night and got a warm Michelob welcome with a 6-pack of beer and a schedule of the next day's events. Unfortunately, I had to do some work in the morning, so I couldn't attend SoulCycle with everyone. But I DID take advantage of a weekday morning in New York, woke up early, and got a cup of cappuccino at La Colombe to start off my day.

I worked until it was time to for lunch with the rest of the ambassadors. We had some amazing food at Maman Tribeca, which is a super cute place I've been wanting to try! 

We had chicken caesar salad, quinoa salad, roasted zucchini, ricotta, and kale quiche, and avocado toast. And for dessert: homemade oreos, nutella beignet, and fresh fruit skewers! It was so great meeting all of the other ambassadors for the first time and also seeing Jera again, who I had the pleasure of meeting when I last visited NYC in December!

After lunch, we went our separate ways until it was time for the kickoff event! In a few hours, we walked over to Spring Studios for some fitness and happy hour.

Mellie led the rooftop yoga workout while there was a plyometric circuit going on downstairs. It was super chilly on the rooftop, but a great workout is always worth it!

Afterward, we were all served Michelob ULTRA and light bites! It was a beautiful and fun day!

And of course, I couldn't be happier to share these moments with my Dallas fitness partner Mai Lyn!

Until next time, beautiful NYC...

Italy 2017

In our almost six years of dating, Brian and I have never taken an overseas together, just the two of us. It was one of the best vacations I've had in a longggg time! We spent 9 days total in Italy, staying in Milan and making day trips to other cities. I've decided to organize the post by city and write about the highlights of each one!

Milan

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It's true you don't need more than a few days in Milan, which is why we took day trips to other cities. I really enjoyed coming back to Milan at the end of the day because I loved the posh city feel, and they also have great restaurants that stay open late! And there are always gorgeous buildings on every corner. It was a dream to photograph.

Sights

Duomo di Milano

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The Milan Cathedral is SO impressive and definitely a must-see. It's a sight to behold from any angle. I was captivated every time I saw a glimpse of it from an alleyway or a building across the street. It's also where you get this magnificent terrace view, which made it feel like I just climbed a staircase to heaven. Or take the elevator, if you're lazy.

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Cimitero Monumentale di Milano

I wish I had better photos of this place, but I was too in awe after we stumbled upon it on our way to find a park (we never made it to the park). I never thought I'd say a cemetery is a must-see, but it truly is. All the tombs here are so extravagant and impressive. It's like walking into a palace garden for the dead. 

Bosco Verticale

These two residential towers are known as the vertical forest. As you can imagine, all the greenery helps keep the air clean! There are over 900 trees, or 10,000 square meters of forest, on the buildings. It's such an amazing structure to see when passing by in a bus, and even more amazing approaching it up close!

Pirelli HangarBicocca

This contemporary art museum freaked me the f out, but it was so awesome. There was a live performance by artist Laure Prouvost, who had a solo exhibition called Grand Dad's Visitor Center. It was freaky and full of boobs. But in addition to that, the permanent installation, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, was incredible. The sheer size of the paintings and towers made you want to tip-toe everywhere.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

This outdoor mall is amazing to walk through! It's got a Prada across from a Prada... how much more mall can it get.

Food

I wish I had aesthetic photos for all the good food we ate, but I was too busy devouring everything. Instead, I'll describe a few of our favorite restaurants we ate at!

Piz - They only serve 3 types of pizzas (margherita, bianca, and marinara). Brian and I split the margherita and bianca. I recommend the bianca because it was one of the BEST pizzas I had while in Italy. It was a 30 minute wait, but they give you free prosecco and samplers while you wait. They also give you lots of free shots after you pay... great way to start our trip!

da Oscar - Great old-fashioned Italian food. We lucked out by walking in early (7:30pm, right when they open for dinner) because normally you have to make a reservation. You sit at a communal table with all the other guests when you eat, so don't be afraid to bump elbows with strangers! I also did not know Oscar was known for being a fascist until I saw all the Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin decor... but that didn't stop me from enjoying the food. And apparently Oscar is super friendly to everyone.

Pavé - I don't like pastries or sweets but that's probably because they're way too sweet and overpowering in the US... When I ate them here, it was HEAVEN. Super fresh, light, and everything made in-house. They also had healthy meals (salad bowls and salmon sandwiches), which I really appreciated after all the pizza and pasta. It's a great place for breakfast, lunch, dessert, and coffee! 

oTTo - We stopped here in the morning for a light breakfast because we didn't know that "brunch" wasn't until 12:30pm. But the decor is to die for!! They're also a cocktail bar.

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Venice

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On our second day in Italy, we did a day trip to Venice! And honestly, that's all you need there. It's really small and everything closes early, but I got so many good photos out of it! After touring around, we only had a quick lunch break before our gondola ride. The only restaurant I had been recommended was closed on Sundays (Dal Moro's Fresh Pasta to Go)! Overall not my favorite city, but it was beautiful.

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Cinque Terre

 Manarola

Manarola

We almost didn't put Cinque Terre on our list, but after planning out Milan, we found that we had a full empty day... so we booked our train tickets to Cinque Terre! Our first stop was Manarola. We had originally planned to hike south to Riomaggiore, but the trail was closed due to falling rocks. Instead, we bought one-way tickets north to Vernazza and then to Monterosso for a few bucks each. It's so cheap to get around to the different coastal towns here, and it doesn't take more than a few minutes each way! Definitely hit up more than one of the towns if you're in the area!

Manarola

As I mentioned before, I booked our train tickets straight to Manarola since that's where the iconic Cinque Terre photos are taken. It did NOT disappoint! We ate at Aristide right after we arrived. It's a great seafood restaurant that you reach right when you walk out of the tunnels from the train. The mussels were SO fresh!

Then we walked around the streets, drank some espressos, and ate gelato by the seaside until it was time for our next train.

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Vernazza

Vernazza was super cool! There's a small tunnel leading to the rocky beach, and it felt like we were in a storybook. I loved the views looking back at the cliffside!

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This color palette though...

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Monterosso

Our original tickets back to Milan departed from Monterosso, so we ended our Cinque Terre tour here. We ate an early dinner by the sea and just watched people on the beach until it was time to go back. It was beautiful!!

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Lake Como

Lake Como was another day trip that Brian planned out for us. It was an amazing day! We ate reallly great pizza at Beretta (they cut it up for you!), climbed 2.5km to a lighthouse, and sailed across the lake!

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Swiss Alps

You can't visit Europe without going to another country, right? We opted for a tour, which took us through the quaint Italian town of Tirano right before the border. There were so many mountainside vineyards! We climbed up a little bit for a view of the city.

Then it was off to Switzerland on the Bernina Express! It was a scenic ride the whole way, and I think I was standing most of the time to soak it all in. Afterward, we grabbed coffee in St. Moritz with a view of the mountains.

Everything was so beautiful, and it was a much needed vacation!! I feel so refreshed and inspired!

San Francisco 2017

This past weekend, I went to San Francisco to meet up with Nanette and Joanne! I met Nanette in college when I visited SF for a convention (we're in the same sorority) and Joanne through Instagram! I'm so happy I got to spend quality time with 2 women I respect and admire, and I also got to meet up with old/new friends and my cousin too! Here's a recap of the weekend:

China Live Opening Party

As soon as I flew in, I met up with Nanette for the China Live opening party. We feasted on dumplings, wontons, gua bao, beef noodle soup, and more! At first, I was freaking out about being in sweatpants and a hoodie, but it was so crowded no one even looked twice. I also got to check in my luggage, so many thanks to China Live for hosting such an accommodating and awesome opening party! 

Pier 2620 Hotel

Hold on, I need to talk about my hotel in Fisherman's Wharf. The corner of the room had PERFECT DECOR and was one of the main reasons I booked it. Room inspo! I actually booked Pier 2620 through a collaboration with HotelTonight, an app that is perfect for last-minute hotel bookings (up to a week in advance) at a great price. In retrospect, the location probably wasn't ideal for me since it was so far north of where I explored all weekend, but it's great if you're wanting to be in Fisherman's Wharf. 

PS - Use the code KARLAO to get $25 off your first $135+ HotelTonight booking! 

Napa Valley

The next morning, Joanne drove us to Napa Valley for wine tasting and sightseeing. I'm so glad I went with a pro! We went to VGS Chateau Potelle for food & wine pairing, stopped by Long Meadow Ranch for a little bit more wine and food at Farmstead, got dessert at Bouchon and Kollar Chocolates, and then ended with more wine at Ma(i)sonry. Overall, a fun day of bonding with my girls! 

 There was someone sleeping on the left side of the table... check out my photo cropping skills though.

There was someone sleeping on the left side of the table... check out my photo cropping skills though.

Exploring SF

The next day, I spent all morning with Nanette before heading to Joanne's Passion X Purpose event. We started at Cafe Réveille for some amazing coffee and food, then walked to SFMOMA, got lunch, and then finally arrived at Sweetgreen to reunite with Joanne.

What everyone has been going to the SFMOMA for: Cloud Cities.

The Passion X Purpose: Bay Area Boss Moms talk was so inspiring! I loved listening to strong women talk about their views on health and motherhood. Below are Katie Hintz-Zambrano of Mother Mag, Shahidah Zareef of Boss Mom Nation, and Joanne Encarnacion of GOFITJO. Makes me wonder if I should put something together for women and passion projects in Dallas. Hmmm... 

Later that night, I met up with my college friend Andrew who was in town for a GDC 2017! Then I went home to pass out like an old lady because the next morning was coffee with Jeffrey, Anson, Jimmy, (and I also got to meet Eza and Cam)! Then straight to lunch with my cousin Brandon and his girlfriend Robin before taking off. My heart is full!

 In love with Eza's style!

In love with Eza's style!

PS - I also came home to great news: I got a promotion at work and am now a Senior Developer! Proud to be representing women in technology, and I can't imagine a better end to my birthday month.