“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”



mba lesson of the week #13


Every time my family and I land in beautiful, clean Heathrow Airport, we breathe a deep sigh of relief. The accents. The people. The architecture. The greenery. Prince William. Need I say more?

This was probably our tenth or twelfth time visiting London – something that I am soo grateful for – and the allure of it never seems to fade. Just the train ride from the airport to Paddington Station was refreshing.

We historically have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental when in London – we had tried other hotels, but kept going back to what we called our “second home.” this trip, we ended up at the Four Seasons Park Lane, newly renovated and reopened, and it so far exceeded our expectations. It crossed my mind more than once to move right in and never leave the hotel.

Now we were only in London for two nights…so the not leaving the hotel thing wasn’t much of an option. We had to fully take advantage of our time in one of my favorite cities in the world.

We started our time in London at the steakhouse Gaucho, a trendy restaurant known for its Argentine steaks. The food was delicious, with a very high-end, hip, “cool” atmosphere. And for this crocheting, cooking, crafting, happiest-when-color-coding-my-sock-drawer granny in an (almost) twenty-one year-old body, I was not really in my element.

The next morning was much more my style. We had a great breakfast at a cafe near our hotel – we needed to eat up before our long day of antiquing ahead of us! My mom and I had grand visions for our trip to Portobello Road in the famed Notting Hill area. Have any of you seen the movie? I love Hugh Grant!

This was now our third time visiting Portobello Road and it was no less enjoyable. The stalls, the colors, the food, the smells, the goodies. Everything. I was in heaven.

There was even a store full of sewing machines. It was love.

We got some delicious chocolate-filled crepes, which had a little too much chocolate in them, even for such extreme chocolate lovers as my mom and I!

We made our way to our two favorite stores in London, conveniently located in Notting Hill: Cath Kidston and Shabby Chic. Ladies, if you are ever in London, promise me that you will visit Cath Kidston! And if you are ever in Santa Monica, New York City, or London, you would LOVE Shabby Chic.

Here are a few pictures of Cath Kidston. I was snapping pictures left and right, absolutely in love with everything there!

Here are a few pictures from Shabby Chic. It is my favorite decorating style!

More than anything, I just loved walking around the cute little streets of Notting Hill, stopping by cafes for treats as we went about our shopping excursion.

It was amazing girl time. And I feel so lucky to have had this experience.

After meeting up with the boys later in the day, we spent the rest of our time in London shopping as a family and ended our time in London with a yummy sushi dinner at Nobu.

It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip.

Thank you SO much for following along!

London, England

Where to Stay

There are so many amazing hotels in London – it’s hard to go wrong! After this vacation, the Four Seasons Park Lane definitely moved to first place in my rankings. It is an incredible hotel – absolutely immaculate, designed to every last detail, and stunningly decorated. The service is incredible, with some of the nicest concierges we had ever met. Everyone, from the doormen to the waiters, have smiles on their faces. And while we only ate one meal at hotel, our breakfast on the day we were leaving was incredible.

Where to Eat

Again, it’s hard to go wrong in London! We love trying out new cafes in London, but our go-to staples are definitely Knightsbridge Cafe for breakfast (try their hot chocolate – you won’t regret it!) and Nobu for dinner. And the dessert counter at Harrod’s is a must!

What to Do

There are enough things to do and see in London to fill an entire blog post! Hopefully I’ll be able to pull something together soon. 🙂


Now is probably one of the most interesting times to visit Greece, as the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and in a state of intense rioting. Our hotel happened to be across the street from both the Parliament building and Constitution Square where all of the riots were taking place – let’s just say it made for quite an interesting experience!

I’m not sure if you can see from this picture, but there were signs hanging outside of the Parliament building with the CEO of Goldman Sachs and the head of the IMF…and in between the signs was a row of nooses. It was pretty intense. And a little bit scary!

Luckily there was riot control to keep things from getting too rowdy!

After arriving in Athens and having dinner at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant (with views of the Acropolis nonetheless!), we sleepily made our way back to the room…and noticed that the crowds outside the window had more than doubled in size. In our corner room overlooking the riots, we had front row tickets to what looked like a parade of rioters.

The next morning, we were met with an amazing breakfast buffet – and a view of the Parthenon!

…and later a visit to the Parthenon and Acropolis!

It was quite a hike getting to the top of the Parthenon…and with lots of patches of slippery marble (I had a few close calls!)…but the instant we made it to the top, it was worth it. The Parthenon itself is an incredible monument. It was breathtaking. I found it hard to believe that it was built in 432 BCE!

Even more than that, I was in love with the view of Athens. You truly could see every bit of the city, from the ocean to the mountains, and it was in that moment that I fell in love with Greece. While the historical aspect was incredible, I was such a fan of the culture, the people, the food (of course!) and the landscape.

We spent the rest of our time in Athens enjoying the city and the food…including my $1.50 Greek gyro for dinner! I loved my time in Greece, however short it may have been, and can’t wait to plan a trip to go back and visit the islands!

Athens, Greece

Where to Stay

My family stayed at the Grand Hotel Bretagne, located in the center of the city, directly across the street from the Parliament building and Constitution Square. And if that’s not enough of a sight, most of the rooms have views of the Parthenon and Acropolis as well! The rooms, while somewhat small, are incredibly furnished and very luxurious.

What to Do

The Parthenon and Acropolis are a must when you are in Athens. While I always recommend hiring a tour guide so that you can hear more about culture and current events, I did not feel the tour guide at the Parthenon was necessary. If you plan to visit more sites than just the Parthenon, then I would highly recommend a guide. As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, my favorite part about traveling is learning about the culture and getting a feel for the city. For this reason, I was very happy with my time spent walking around Athens – seeing the neighborhoods, the shopping, and the local restaurants. If we had a little more time in Athens, I would have loved to take a day-trip to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion – a temple directly overlooking the water located about 40 miles outside of Athens.

Where to Eat

The hotel’s breakfast buffet is fabulous – and free for all hotel guests! The hotel’s rooftop restaurant is always a wonderful place to dine. In Greece, we felt comfortable enough to eat outside of the hotel, and there are dozens of adorable cafes surrounding the hotel that I would highly recommend exploring. That’s where I found my $1.50 gyro!

Next Stop: London, England!



This trip was filled with so much contrast. We left one of the poorest countries in the world – Nepal – for the wealthiest country in the world. Qatar is known to have the highest GDP per capita in the world, with a GDP growth rate of over 16%. And guess what the unemployment rate is. About half of one percent.

Just like in Nepal, we were under a time crunch in Qatar with only about twenty-four hours there. The second I was in the hotel’s air conditioned car (only a mild 110 degrees outside) with my iced water and cold washcloth, driving along the palm-tree lined roads on the water, I knew I could stay there for much longer than one day!

The cityscape was beautiful, mostly because of the incredible architecture right on the water.

We made it to the hotel, which was more like a beach resort than anything (definitely not what I would’ve expected in Qatar of all places!), and were instantly in heaven. It was paradise. I would’ve been perfectly content to never leave the hotel.

Because we hadn’t eaten the entire day (and barely ate the day before in Nepal…or in India for that matter) we were starving and raced over to the hotel’s lunch buffet. When I saw the menu’s theme for the day, I truly thought I had died and gone to heaven.


Anyone that knows me is aware of my passion for guacamole. Mexican food is my staple. I eat it at least once a week. And living in Southern California, it’s pretty readily available.

But in Doha, Qatar – a mere 89 miles from Bahrain, 119 miles from Saudi Arabia, and 306 miles from Iran – it was a bit of a surprise.

As we saw the three-room Mexican food buffet, I had one of those freak-out moments. And boy, I didn’t know it was possible for a girl my size to consume that much food in just one sitting.

Serving 1: Platter of chips, guacamole, salsa, beans, rice, and homemade tortillas.
Serving 2: Three steak tacos piled high with every topping imaginable.
Serving 3: Taco salad.
Serving 4: Carne asada.
Serving 5: More beans, rice, and tortillas.
I think you get the idea.

It was the meal of a lifetime.

Then I went into a food coma for a few hours.

After our amazing meal, and some time to recover, we went to some of the main sites in Doha…one of which was the Villagio Mall. An indoor mall built to look like you are in Venice with indoor canals, gondolas, painted ceilings, and an old Italian style design. Sound familiar? It very conveniently rhymes with the Bellagio…but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence!

After a few hours poking around the mall…without buying anything…we made it back to the hotel to take a little nap before dinner. And all five of us ended up passing out for the night. That is what you call a serious food coma.

The next day, we spent our time relaxing at the hotel, swimming in the Arabian Gulf, and grieving about having to leave such a beautiful hotel.

But all good things must come to an end, and I can’t even begin to describe how excited my family was to be on our way to Europe. While we absolutely loved our time in India, Nepal, and Qatar, it was a tad bit relaxing to know that we were going back to more Western countries for the duration of the trip, where at least the language barriers weren’t so extreme!

Doha, Qatar

Where to Stay

Four Seasons Hotel Doha
While it might be a little bit pricey, if you have the opportunity to stay here, the hotel is worth it. The rooms themselves are gorgeous, luxurious, and make you never want to leave the hotel. The service is impeccable – everyone there is so eager to help. The hotel grounds are immaculate, and the location couldn’t be better. With its own private beach, the hotel allows for both the city life and a relaxing, resort feel. We couldn’t have been happier with our stay in Doha.

What to Do

I would recommend, first and foremost, taking some time to enjoy the hotel’s grounds. Take a dip in the Arabian Gulf, go swimming in their beautiful (and empty) pools, and enjoy some delicious food. When you start to feel a bit antsy, I’d recommend taking a taxi to either some of the major museums (The Museum of Islamic Art looked pretty incredible) or to one of the major malls. It was a fun experience to witness the shopping culture in Qatar!

Where to Eat

You can’t go wrong in Doha. We ate our meals at the hotel, and they were incredible, but the restaurants in the malls and throughout town are highly rated, safe, and won’t disappoint!

Next stop: Athens, Greece!


Our arrival in Kathmandu was met with a chaotic, tiny airport in the heart of a little mountain town in the Himalayas. Well, it’s not so little. It’s a big mountain town. But it has a small town feel throughout.

The landscape is absolutely incredible. There is no mountain range that can rival the Himalayas.

The drive through the town was a much greener, wetter version of India. The dirt roads were packed with cars, donkey-driven carts, bikes, families on foot, cows, and stray dogs, directed by police officers with machine guns.

The hotel was a majestic, Nepalese-style fortress built on the edge of the downtown and bordering a more peaceful, quaint area of Kathmandu that was home to Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa, a Tibetan Buddhist temple. We loved that the area had such a large population of Buddhist monks, dressed in traditional maroon and orange Buddhist robes. It was an incredible vibe, and the people were so kind.

This is the Boudhanath Stupa, aka “The Happy Temple.”

I loved all the colors, the flags, and the face on the temple! It was amazing to see hundreds of people, most of them monks, circling the temple in a clockwise direction, which we later found out was a traditional Buddhist prayer ritual.

We took these pictures on top of the temple, which you are actually allowed to climb in order to pray (and have a better view of the city!).

We poked around in all the little stores surrounding the temple, where I bought a bright purple bag with eyes on it, just like the temple! My mom and I were in love with all the bright colors.

We spent the majority of our time in Nepal exploring the safest part of Kathmandu near the temple. After a long day of travel, we finally made it back to our hotel, where we were surprised to experience our first power outages. We had heard that parts of Nepal experience power outages for up to 16 hours a day, but we didn’t expect our hotel to have outages as well! The hotel was prepared with flashlights on every bed…and we quickly learned to place them in the bathroom, as it was not very fun to be in the shower when the lights went out!

It’s not much of a surprise that there are such power outages when you see this picture though!

On our way to the airport the following day, we learned that Nepal is currently experiencing gas shortages as well. Dozens of cars filled the streets, in line at the gas stations waiting for gas to be delivered from India. It was eye opening to see such commodities that I have always taken for granted in such scarcity in Nepal.

Despite the hardships of daily life in Kathmandu, I truly saw hope in the eyes of the people. It was inspiring, and so beautiful.

The funniest part about our stay in Nepal happened in the airport as we were leaving. We turned around while standing in the customs line and saw a family that not only lives in the teeny little area that my family lives, but used to live on our street, a mere two houses away! Here we were, in Kathmandu International Airport, talking with our old neighbors. It is such a small world.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Where to Stay

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
The Hyatt Regency Kathmandu is an incredible Nepalese-style hotel located just five-minutes away from the Boudhanath Stupa. In a city that has had security issues in the past, including robberies from hotel rooms while the occupants were sleeping, the Hyatt is definitely the safest place to be in Kathmandu. The combination of security guards roaming the property and the hotel’s location 10 kilometers away from the city center made my family feel safe and secure both at the hotel and in the surrounding area. The rooms were clean, though not as luxurious as the Imperial Hotel in Delhi, and the service was excellent.

What to Do

As my family’s stay in Nepal was less than twenty-four hours, we had to prioritize what we wanted to see. Most of all, we wanted to get a feel for the city and see the culture. We were very happy with our walk from the hotel to the Boudhanath Stupa, where we were able to see what everyday life was like in Kathmandu. The Stupa was an incredible experience, especially after joining in with the crowd of Buddhist monks that were circling the temple.

We did not have time to take the Buddha Air flight around Mount Everest, but our old neighbors did and shared their experience with us while waiting in customs. It all comes down to luck when scheduling these flights, for some days the visibility may be great and you will be able to see Everest, while others you are not so lucky. On our neighbor’s flight, the sky was overcast and stormy, which made it difficult to see any mountains, including Everest.

Where to Eat

I recommend eating all of your meals at the hotel.  I stuck to carbs just to be safe!

Next Stop: Doha, Qatar!


india: part two

There are no words to describe our second day in India.

When my family came to India, we knew we wanted to see the Taj Mahal. The plan for the day was have a peaceful, relaxing drive for four hours to Agra, visit the Taj Mahal, and sleep on the four hour drive back to the hotel.

It was not very peaceful or relaxing to say the least. Everywhere I looked were petticabs that were built for three people, but filled with families of ten, children hanging out of the sides and back windows nearly falling out onto the dangerous highway. There were people riding camels. Elephants. Donkey-driven and bicycle-driven carts riding down the freeway with enormous agricultural trucks barreling down the road. Families of five riding on a single motorcycle.

These were a few of the safest guys on the freeway:

No hands!

The villages on the drive to Agra can’t be explained in words or photographs.

We finally made it to the Taj Mahal. As you’d expect, it was absolutely gorgeous, and such an incredible landmark reflecting an important part of India’s history. It reflects a beautiful love story of an emperor of India and one of his wives.

This group of tourists from rural India was so excited to see a blonde woman (my mom) at the Taj Mahal that they actually hired a professional photographer to take pictures with us!

Isn’t it beautiful?

Agra, India

How to Visit

I would highly recommend staying in Delhi and enduring the four-hour drive to Agra. While the drive is long, it gives you the opportunity to see so much more of India, and it was definitely the most meaningful portion of our time spent in India.

With that in mind, I would highly suggest making travel arrangements with the hotel for both a driver and a tour guide. The tour guide can spend the duration of the drive sharing his or her experiences in India – the culture, lifestyle, and day to day life. We loved learning about our guide’s struggles with arranged marriages, her goal to start a fashion line, and her experience at the university in India.

The tour guide will also be able to lead you through the Taj Mahal and help in purchasing tickets, the process of which can be very overwhelming!

Where to Eat

As a way to break up the long drive, I recommend stopping at the Oberoi Amarvilas, located 650 yards away from the Taj Mahal, for lunch before heading back to Delhi. The food was delicious, the air conditioning felt like heaven, and the view of the Taj Mahal didn’t hurt either!

Next Stop: Kathmandu, Nepal!


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