Nikki’s Favorite Things: 2014 Fashion Accessories (Fall/Winter/Spring)

With weight restrictions on checked luggage, it’s hard to travel light and be fashionable.  I used to be the girl with 2 suitcases and a carry-on…for a 7 day trip.  Why?  Because I needed options and apparently thought I’d be doing outfit changes every few hours like Scarlett (of the O’Hara clan).  So young.  So naive.  Now that I am wearing my Big Girl Panties, I’ve learned that all I need is one suitcase and a backpack.

It was hard in the beginning but you learn the critical items you need…and where to find a laundromat.  The last thing you want to deal with while traveling to different countries is a lot of luggage.  Most metro systems in European cities do not have escalators or elevators so you are stuck carrying your suitcase up and down steps.  By the time you finally reach your destination, you are cursing the name Louboutin and wondering why in the world you needed to bring 5 pair of stilettos when you can’t walk in them on cobbled streets.  The struggle is real.

With space limitations, you have to figure out how to make 1 outfit work more than once. How do I accomplish this?  With my favorite fashion accessory…SCARVES!  I like to wear a lot of black because I have put on quite a few pounds it’s fashionable.  Wearing  black also allows you to accessorize with lots of different colors.  While I love to shop for scarves in the cities I visit, I always bring a few with me from home to be safe.

Forget the big chain retail stores and support small businesses.  I love Etsy!  How I got addicted to the app is baffling to me.  All I know is that I browse the online shops at least 3 times a week looking for unique accessories that I won’t see on 10 other women at the airport.  The items I highlight below were all purchased by me with no compensation from the owners.  This is just my opinion and recommendation of fabulous shops that you might want to check out on Etsy.

Right now, my favorite shops are:

DottieQ — She has a collection of amazingly funky knit scarves in a vast array of colors, offers super fast shipping and is a dream to buy from!  I love this rope scarf!!

This rope scarf is everything to me!!!

This rope scarf is everything to me!!!

Bo Peep’s Bonnets – I am in LOVE with the Chunky Knit Cowls I purchased from her.  She is super responsive and offers a great selection of colors.  Can’t wait for my slouchy hat to arrive so I can wear it on my trip to Iceland in January!

This modern take on "Little Red Riding Hood" is fab.u.lous!

This modern take on “Little Red Riding Hood” is fab.u.lous!

Scarf Arts – This store has a huge collection of beautiful silk scarves in lovely solids & prints.  The scarves are super soft and wash really well.  This (and a pink print) are my “go to” scarves year round!  You can dress it up or down.

This scarf is amazing!  I can wear it all seasons and get tons of compliments!

This scarf is amazing! I can wear it all seasons and get tons of compliments!

Zojanka – The designer/craftsman is located in Poland and she has a ton of funky/edgy scarves like the one pictured below.  I love that I can wear the bracelet alone or as part of the scarf!  Multi-purpose and great for travel!!

In LOVE!  This linen scarf comes with a gladiator-style bracelet that gives it a little edge.  I've not seen anyone else with this type of scarf since I've been wearing it.

In LOVE! This linen scarf comes with a gladiator-style bracelet that gives it a little edge. I’ve not seen anyone else with this type of scarf since I’ve worn it.

Verbosity – This shop specializes in upcycled t-shirt scarves.  Originally, I had ordered a custom-made scarf representing my college alma mater, Indiana University.  Then, I saw she had a Star Wars scarf and was like, “I need this in my life immediately.”

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Love this fabulous Star Wars scarf by Verbosity. Rocked it in London during a trip in March 2013. The Force was strong with me that day 🙂

Essentials for Stress Free Travel

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If you have read my blog post on What to Wear When Travelling Abroad, then you know I am a sucker for travel accessories…seriously. Magellan’s? Yep. ExOfficio? I should have stock. Is it all necessary? Nope. But, with the right essentials, your trip can go from stressful to stress free! To help you save a little time & money, I’m going to tell you my favorite travel finds. I have not been paid to endorse any products. With the exception of one item (which was provided to me free of charge to use & review), all products I list below were paid for by me.

Packing Essentials:

La Fresh wipes

La Fresh wipes

  1. La Fresh Travel Wipes – Okay, these little packets are genius! La Fresh wipes can easily fit into your cosmetic bag & your purse while on the road. There are several “collections” but I like the Travel Wipes for Her collection that includes make-up remover wipes, anti-bacterial wipes, nail polish remover pads, hydrating lotion wipes, female hygiene & lens cleaning wipes. I even bought the canine wipes for my dog! You can buy them here.
  2. Packing cubes – I never travel without my packing cubes from Magellan’s. I’ve used the Stow-Away Collection since 2010 and love it! I had tried many different combinations to pack as much into my suitcase and keep clothes wrinkle-free. That is tough. And when the airlines started charging baggage fees, it became necessary to pack smarter. So, as I was browsing through the Magellan’s catalog, I came across these packing cubes and thought I’d give it a try…and it was worth the money. I use these cubes even for overnight trips because it allows me to organize everything in compartments and the Stow-Away Cinch Folders help to prevent wrinkles.
  3. Travel-size Febreeze, Downy Wrinkle-Release, & Lint Brush– I do not travel without these 3 items. Especially if you plan to wear an article of clothing more than once. I like to spray the Febreeze in my shoes and on my coat after each day of travel. While the packing cubes help with wrinkles, it doesn’t prevent them. The Downy Wrinkle-Release is my insurance that I have a way to get rid of wrinkles if I happen to be staying at a hotel that doesn’t have irons/ironing boards (that has happened too many times to mention). A small lint brush is insurance as well. You never know when you will need it. For example, during a trip to London back in 2008, I decided to buy a travel blanket for the flight. It seemed like such a great idea because it was heavier than the standard tissue blankets that they normally give you in coach. I was wearing a black cotton ensemble with a black wool coat. It wasn’t until I landed that I realized I was covered in green fur from the travel blanket (that I had washed thinking it would prevent this type of thing). So, I ended up spending the first evening in London at Tesco’s buying masking tape to remove the fur since I couldn’t find a lint brush. While you may never use it, I figure it is less stressful to have it than to spend your vacation looking for duct tape. You can pick up these items at your local grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart or drug store/pharmacy.
  4. Laundry Bag – I used to put my dirty clothes in the plastic laundry bags provided by the hotels. But, as I started taking trips that had me at multiple hotels in different cities, I felt like the plastic bags weren’t going to keep my suitcase “fresh”. So, I got the Magellan’s Bed Bug Laundry Bag in 2011. I like that it is lined on the inside so it doesn’t matter if you need to pack wet clothes & it contains any odors. This laundry bag folds up small so it doesn’t take up much room in the beginning and I’ve been able to put 2 weeks worth of clothes inside.
  5. Disposable panties & cloths – On a trip to Morocco in 2012, I packed disposable underwear and InstaCloths. It was my first time using either but as we were limited to one medium-sized bag for 10 days, I thought throwing out underwear during the trip would make room for all of my purchases. The disposable underwear worked pretty well. I even hand washed them once and they held together & were dry within a couple of hours. While they are not sexy, they are comfortable in a “granny panty” way. The InstaCloths worked well as a face towel for me and lasted several days (plus they start out the size of a nickel and expand into a full-size wash cloth once you add water). I didn’t use it as a wash cloth but my Mom did and said it didn’t last that long. So, I only recommend it for washing your face & removing make-up.
  6. Adaptors – When travelling out of the country, I always use Brookstone’s 6-Piece Adapter Kit with Snap-On Plugs. It’s a lightweight set of interchangeable adaptors that work for most countries. I’ve not had any issues with this since I started using it in 2010.
  7. Collapsible tote – One of the very best items you can pack on international trips! I got mine from Samsonite back in 2008. It folds up nice & neat and lays flat at the bottom of my suitcase. Then, while I’m travelling and buying souvenirs, I don’t have to worry about fitting it into my suitcase as I can use my tote as a carry on during my flight back.
My pink & green collapsible tote!  A must-have travel item.

My pink & green collapsible tote! A must-have travel item.

Looking Fab & Safe on the Road: I go into detail about what to wear when travelling overseas in the blog post linked above so I won’t cover the same material here. However, I do want to include a few more items that I’ve fallen in love with since I wrote that article.

  1. Jersey fabric – This is the “must have” fabric to wear en-route to your destination. It is wrinkle-free and there are so many stylish outfits made of this fabric that you will look fresh & fabulous even stepping off a plane 10 hours later. I usually shop at White House Black Market, Magellan’s or Travel Smith.
  2. Yoga active wear – If you are looking to travel in comfort, I suggest yoga pants, a cute tank top & cardigan. This is usually my go-to outfit for international flights as I like to be comfortable & it allows me to layer. I usually purchase my favorite items at Athleta & Old Navy.
  3. ExOfficio Sweater Jacket – I absolutely love this waterproof jacket! It is so soft & very warm! I wore it in December while in Europe and felt completely warm & toasty. It packs up very small and converts into a neck roll if you want to bring it on the plane with you. I also love that it’s stylish as well & has a lot of safety pockets where you can store your money, keys & phone without worrying about being pick-pocketed.
  4. Clarks shoes – I must admit…Clarks makes a great shoe that keeps your feet cushioned from the harsh cobblestones you encounter while sightseeing in Europe. You can be on your feet all day in these stylish shoes. A couple of my favorites are the Wave.Cruise Mary Jane shoe that can be worn both casual & dressy; and the Haley Falcon which seems to replace the black Privo that I have worn. I like that it molds to your foot while providing great cushion to your soles.
  5. FreestyleXtreme – This is the only item that I have received for free. A representative from FreestyleXtreme contacted me after reading my article referenced above. She asked if I would review an item from their company (which offers a wide range of clothing & accessories for men and women). I have been trying to find a stylish flip-flop to wear on cobblestones so I thought I’d try the Volcom Black Happy Me shoe. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I’ve worn them for the past couple of weeks and am in love! They are so comfortable & cute! I like that they don’t “flap” against the bottom of my foot making a loud sound as I walk. Also, the cushion is pretty solid since I can walk around in them for hours and not experience foot fatigue. I’m excited to take them to Italy & try them out on the cobblestones!
Volcom Black Be Happy flip-flop from FreestyleXtreme.

Volcom Black Be Happy flip-flop from FreestyleXtreme.

Go-To Gadgets: I like to travel light…which means I rely heavily on my iPad (and more recently my new Macbook Air). The following 3 items make travelling with my electronics simple.

My fabulous Erin Condren iPad Folio along with a delicious mimosa & travel guides!

My fabulous Erin Condren iPad Folio along with a delicious mimosa & travel guides!

  1. iPad Folio – I love products from Erin Condren. You can purchase personalized stationary, life planners, cards & iPad folios. Mine has my name & an inspirational quote on the front with a picture of my dog on the inside. It’s nice to have reminders of home while on the road!
  2. Apple adaptors – I have an iPad 2 and when I decided to stop travelling with a laptop, I needed a way to transfer pictures from my camera & iPhone to my iPad…which is where the Apple iPad Digital Camera Connector Kit comes in. You can plug the adaptor into your iPhone to easily transfer pictures or plug your SD card into the adaptor and load your favorite photos from your camera onto your iPad.
  3. Power Up I use my iPhone a lot while I’m on the road…between taking pictures & responding to emails/texts, the battery doesn’t last long. Getting to a power outlet is not always possible so I started travelling with extra power-up packs. I’ve tested out quite a few items so far and there are 2 that I prefer:  The first one is the 2600 mAh Universal Power Bank Charger that I purchased from Nomorerack on sale. The second is the Portable Travel Charger from Fat Cat Power.  Both work pretty well and charge my phone fully. They don’t take a lot of time to charge & both are small enough to fit in my purse without taking up valuable space.

What are your favorite travel essentials? Is there anything I am missing out on? Let me know!

Photos of the Day: Life’s a Beach

It’s been less than a week and I’m already missing the beach.  Something about water calms me…it’s like an instant shot of happiness 🙂  Maybe I need to get an “ocean waves” app or something…but then I’m nervous that it will make me want to pee all the time.  Hmmm…I guess the next best thing to being there is staring at pictures!!!  As I started looking thru my online photo albums, I realized that I’ve been BEYOND BLESSED to visit so many amazing places!  And I’d like to share a few of them with you.  So, get your pretend swimsuit, a very real cocktail, sunglasses and let’s go!!!

Mimosas on the beach? Yes...please & thank you! (Cancun)

Mimosas on the beach? Yes…please & thank you! (Cancun)

A Hilton Head sunrise...best way to get your day started!

A Hilton Head sunrise…best way to get your day started!

(Santorini) A view of an infinity pool AND the Mediterranean Sea? Heaven!

(Santorini) A view of an infinity pool AND the Mediterranean Sea? Heaven!

The Norwegian fjords! While it was cold enough for Frosty the Snowman when I visited in March, it's absolutely breathtaking during the summer!

The Norwegian fjords! While it was cold enough for Frosty the Snowman when I visited in March, it’s absolutely breathtaking during the summer!

I know this may be a stretch...but I fell in love with this dam in the Scottish Highlands...and this was before I had any Scottish whiskey :) So serene & peaceful!

I know this may be a stretch…but I fell in love with this dam in the Scottish Highlands…and this was before I had any Scottish whiskey 🙂 So serene & peaceful!

The famous Santorini caldera sunset...

The famous Santorini caldera sunset…

The sunset over a lagoon in Cancun

The sunset over a lagoon in Cancun

Beautiful Lake Bled (Slovenia)

Beautiful Lake Bled (Slovenia)

The amazing Amalfi Coast in Positano, Italy!

The amazing Amalfi Coast in Positano, Italy!

The marina in Monte-Carlo

The marina in Monte-Carlo

Waves on rocks in Monte-Carlo

Waves on rocks in Monte-Carlo

Sunset over Chateau de Chillon

Sunset over Chateau de Chillon

Sweet Swiss Alps

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Hands down, one of the most spectacular views on Earth is in the Berner Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. The air is so crisp & clean; the snow is fluffy & white; and drinking hot chocolate while looking at people ski or sledge by is oddly comforting. I’ve uploaded a TON of pictures to share because the region is so breathtaking!

SwissIf you ever get to Switzerland (and really…just go because I promise that it’s worth the money), be sure to take the Top of Europe tour. It is worth every cent. My day started at 6am. Once I was up & dressed, I hit Starbucks and then on to the rail station so I could catch the train from Zug to Lucerne. After purchasing my ticket, I had about 10 minutes to wait for the train and you know some crazy man found me. Out of all the people on the platform, he has to come chat with me. I’m not sure if it’s because I was the only person of color and just stood out or what. But, Swissangelo (that’s what I’m calling him) starts speaking German and I was like, “I don’t comprehend that. Sorry.” and thought he’d go about his business. Nope. He apparently is a multi-lingual crazy. How can you be crazy and speak more than 1 language? Seriously? So, he starts mumbling something about songs. I’m half listening until he steps directly in front of me and into my personal space making me take a couple of steps back. Now that he has my full attention, he repeats his early comment about songs and starts singing something in Italian. If you are keeping count, he’s up to 3 languages. I look around and was like, “oh, that was pretty. thanks!” and try to inch away. But no! He starts with, “I wrote 2 songs I want to perform for you!” I was like, “okay.” I mean, at this point, we are already the star attractions for the morning commuters and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He performs one of his “compositions” and Lord help me…liquor + performing = disaster. Save it for the Grammys. I’m looking around slightly embarrassed once he starts getting on one knee and holding out his hand to serenade me. All I want to do is drink my coffee. But, hey, at this point, I figure that I gotta roll with the crazy. I mean, they find me in every country I visit so I might as well be some sort of Ambassador to Sanity for them. Luckily, before he was able to bring the song home with a glory note, the train arrives and he thanks me for listening to his song. Crazy can be sweet. I should know…I’ve dated enough of them.

So, after my 20 minute train ride to Lucerne, I exit the station and start trying to figure out the directions to the tour meeting point. Which weren’t that difficult. While walking around outside, I keep wishing I had brought my big down coat because it was FREEZING! Little did I know that the weather in Lucerne would seem tropical to what it was in the alps.

There are 7 of us on the tour and everybody happens to be in Switzerland on business so we had something in common. We leave Lucerne and take a van to Interlaken (population 5500). Being in Switzerland was a great change of pace after China. Whereas you had 15 million people residing in 1 city, the population for the entire country of Switzerland is around 350K! Another fun fact I learned is that they elect a new president EVERY YEAR! However, this is more for figurehead duties. Apparently, Switzerland is made of up “states” called “cantons” which can have their own language. The government has ministers from all cantons and the presidency rotates between these ministers on a yearly basis based upon a vote.

We ride up to Lauterbrunnen to take the cog-wheel train up to Jungfrau.

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You can see that they elevation continues to go higher and higher.

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We pass the beautiful town of Wengen!

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A couple of the ladies on the tour with me!

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Ski lifts & skiers & trails.

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Breathtaking beauty!

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This is the first time I’ve seen a conveyor belt for skiers! In addition to ski lifts (in the second pic below), they have this conveyor belt (which is partially covered with snow) that brings skiers up the trail in the 2nd pic.

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Then I had the chance to go to the Ice Palace!

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On the way back, we stop in Gimmelwald.

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All in all, this has to be on of the best adventures of my life! Totally fell in love with Berner Oberland would like to spend a long weekend in Wengen trying to learn to ski. While looking out over the snow-capped alps, all I could think of was that I am truly blessed to be able to have the opportunity to see so much of this beautiful world we live in.

Swiss Miss: The Olympic Museum & Lovely Lausanne (Switzerland)

While visiting Geneva, I decided to take a quick trip to Lausanne (which is 40 minutes from Geneva, 30 minutes from Chillon).  Lausanne is MUCH better than Geneva so my advice is to skip Geneva and spend your time visiting Lausanne, Montreux and Chillon.

Lake Geneva is in the southwest corner of Switzerland and separates the country from France.  This area is known as the Swiss Riviera and the predominant language is French.  Lausanne calls itself the “Olympic Capital” (it has been the home to the International Olympic Committee since 1915).  This colorful city was first founded on the lakefront by the Romans (and really, what city didn’t they discover???).  Once Rome fell, the original Lausanners fled to the hills to escape the barbarians and established what is today referred to as “vieille ville” (old town).  Lausanne has 2 parts:  1) the lakefront Ouchy (which has restaurants & the Olympic Museum) and 2) old town which has an Old World charm and other museums (i.e. Collection de l’Art Brut).  These two areas are connected by the Metro funicular (source Rick Steves’ “Switzerland”).

Lausanne is absolutely beautiful and very serene.  You can walk along Lake Geneva during the breathtaking sunset.

  

Or, stop to view the flower displays as you stroll the main boulevard.

   

We arrive in Lausanne and take a taxi to the Olympic Museum (which is AWESOME!).  This museum is interesting to both Olympic enthusiasts and those of us who like to watch the games every 2 years.  As you enter the museum, you will pass by the Olympic store which has shirts, posters, etc. from previous games (and the future London 2012 games).  After you pay the entrance fee, you are given a ticket which you will need to insert into the turnstiles to enter each exhibit.

They have several small theaters which recount the history of the Olympics.  In 1894, Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee and restarted the games after a 1,500 year lapse.  Barron de Coubertin was a teacher who was born into a French aristocratic family.  He was really into physical fitness and channelled that passion into restarting the games.  During the film, you hear him ask the nations that will take part in the games to respect each other.  Now, I do have to give Mr. de Coubertin the side-eye because he felt that the inclusion of women would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect.”  Whatever, Pierre.  Women eventually were allowed to compete in the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris. 

The ground floor traces the history of the Olympics from its start in Greece through about a century’s worth of ceremonial olympic torches.

 

Upstairs has medals and information/highlights from each Olympics.

Muhammad Ali’s shoe from his gold medal win in boxing at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

Wilma Rudolph’s track shoe that she wore to win three Olympic titles (the 100 m, 200 m and the 4 x 100 m relay) at the same 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome as Muhammad Ali.

The basketball signed by the U.S. “Dream Team” led by Michael Jordan at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

And, Shannon Miller’s leotard from her gold medal win for balance beam at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Charming Château de Chillon (Switzerland)

The majestically beautiful Château de Chillon (Chillon Castle) is located on the shore of Lake Léman (Lake Geneva) in the commune of Veytaux, at the eastern end of the lake, 3 km from Montreux, Switzerland. The castle consists of 100 independent buildings that were gradually connected to become the building as it stands now (source Wikipedia).  The cities along Lake Geneva make up the fabulous French Swiss Riviera!  I took the train from Geneva to Montreux.  Then, hopped on a bus to Chillon.

Incredibly, Château de Chillon is very well-preserved.  Unlike many other castles in Europe, it has never been damaged or destroyed.  Per the website, the history of the castle was influenced by three major periods:

  • The Savoy period (12th century to 1536)
    The oldest written document mentioning the castle dates from 1150; it says that the House of Savoy already controlled the route along the shores of Lake Geneva.
  • The Bernese period (1536-1798)
    The Swiss, more precisely the Bernese, conquered the Pays de Vaud and occupied Chillon in 1536. The castle retained its role as a fortress, arsenal and prison for over 260 ans.
  • The Vaudois period (1798 to the present)
    The Bernese left Chillon in 1798 at the time of the Vaudois Revolution. The castle became the property of the Canton of Vaud when it was founded in 1803. The restoration of the historical monument began at the end of the 19th Century and continues to this day.

All in all, the castle has been used in a variety of ways:  as an armory, warehouse, prison, hospital and tourist attraction.  As you enter the grounds, you feel like you have gone back in time.  The people who work at the castle all wear period-era clothes so as you tour the castle, you feel as if you have stepped into life in the 1500’s.

Chillon Castle is surrounded by a natural moat so you cross a bridge to get to it.

 

Then, as your walk down the path, you come upon the castle and beautiful Lake Geneva.

  

As you enter the castle, you walk into the main courtyard (there are 3 courtyards in total).  This is where the main action took place.

      

I picked up an audio guide then started the tour.  First thing I see is a model of what the original castle looked like.

Then, I tour the “Underground” which is spectacular!  It held the wine and prison.  It’s most well-known for the imprisonment of Bonivard, made famous by Lord Byron, who made him the hero of his poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”.

   

Next stop was the great halls which had beautiful windows with seats to look out over the courtyards or Lake Geneva.

Chambre bernoise

A comfortable bedroom, with rather subdued decoration, a large four-poster bed, heating, private toilet and even running water!

  

A quick note about the potty above.  First, you see that 2 people can go at the same time…with no barrier between them.  Reminds me of Ephesus where there were 10 potties like this.  I can’t imagine talking to Mary while doing #2.  Shoot, I don’t even like doing that when there is someone in the bathroom with stalls!  Second, if you look down into the lid, you will see that it empties straight into the lake.  So, um…I’m not thinking a lot of people went skinny-dipping.

Views of Lake Geneva from the castle.

  

Torture Chamber.  While I was there, I was able to view the Temporary exhibition: “Witch-hunting in the Pays de Vaud, from the 15th to the 17th centuries”.

The Pays de Vaud was the site of major witch-hunts between the 15th and the 17th centuries. During this period, there were more than 2000 death sentences!

On a larger scale, Switzerland within the current borders if the time holds not only the record for the longest-lasting repression of witchcraft but also for the largest number of people persecuted for this crime, in relation to the population. In almost three centuries, 5,000 people were accused and 3,500 of them were put to death, mainly by fire, with 60 – 70% being women.

Chillon Castle was an important detention centre for people suspected of witchcraft, either when awaiting trail or carrying out their sentence. During the term of the Bernese bailiff, Nicolas de Watteville, from 1595 to 1601, some forty-odd people were executed at Chillon, La Tour-de-Peilz and Vevey. And 27 more in 1613! Their Excellencies of Bern noted “…with regret and sadness the extent to which the negation of God and submission to the evil spirit was growing among our subjects in the Romand (French-speaking) country.” (source Chateau de Chillon website).

Finally, some photos I took while walking around the castle.

     

Overall, I thought Château de Chillon was fascinating and beautiful.  It’s a great tour idea for kids!  If you are ever in the Swiss Riviera region, check it out.  Try to go in the late afternoon so you can see the sunset at the castle.  Absolutely amazing!

What to Wear When Travelling Abroad

Coco1One of the most popular questions asked when getting ready for a trip overseas is “What should I wear?”  I always suggest researching what the locals are wearing (with a few exceptions notated below).  Not solely for aesthetic reasons, but also for safety.  Most pickpockets target tourists.  Looking like you belong goes a long way.  Here are a few suggestions to help you look like a local on your travels abroad.

1.       Dress for the Country/Culture.  Each country has its own style.  Some countries are more lax (the U.S., England, Ireland, Scotland) while others take their fashion seriously (France & Italy).  With the exceptions that I have noted below, you can usually get away with a nice pair of jeans/black pants/skirt and plain shirts/sweaters.  Don’t wear anything outrageous or loud (leave the catsuit at home).

  • Middle East/Egypt/Morocco (& other Islamic countries) = First and foremost, you want to respect the culture of the country you are visiting.  Which means no Daisy Dukes while visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo (and, yes, I have seen it).  Make sure you dress conservatively (covering most of your skin).  Yeah, it may be hot, but you can find breathable and dry-wick fabrics pretty easily.  Trust me; you do not want to stand out in a conservative country.  Women from western countries are viewed as being “loose”, which can invite sexual harassment from the local male population.  By keeping your goodies covered up, you take the attention off of you (and your valuables).  In Morocco, most women (and quite a few men) wear djellabas (a hooded robe).  These can be either heavy or light weight in fabric (according to season).  I didn’t wear one when I was there, but it is definitely an option which will reduce the amount of stares you get.  I tend to buy breathable tunics from Old Navy (most are 3/4 length sleeves), long flowing skirts, loose capris and convertible cargo pants.
  • France/Italy = These 2 fabulous countries are homes to the most famous fashion houses around.  This means they take their fashion seriously.  While the Italians are a bit more accepting, the French will turn their nose up if you walk past them wearing any of the items listed below in #3.
  • You can never go wrong with basic black.  It’s easy to coordinate and you can interchange with stylish accessories (like a scarf or costume jewelry).
  • The French love black, navy and brown.  I suggest using those as your base colors.  You will notice that most of the French will pair up their dark wardrobe with a colorful scarf.  Don’t have one?  Buy one when you get there…it’s a souvenir & fashion accessory all in one.
  • The Italians love color and you can get away with a lot more.  Most of all, it is attitude.
  • Quick everyday tip = Get your clothes tailored.  I noticed that many people look better in clothes that are altered to fit their shape.  I picked this tip up while visiting Paris.  Everybody there looks like a million bucks (or euros) and it really is because their clothes fit impeccably.
  • Spain = The Spanish love color & flowing maxi dresses/skirts.  I also noticed some ladies wearing cowboy boots with shorts but we will pretend like I didn’t see that because I don’t think that’s a good look personally (I like to call that seasonal dyslexia).
  • England/Ireland/Scotland/Holland/Czech Republic/Switzerland/Scandinavia = Pretty much anything goes.  I can’t say that I have seen a huge difference in what they wear vs. the U.S. (with the exception of the “don’ts” listed below).  A popular look during the summer of 2011 was shorts with tights & Chuck Taylors (*shudders*).  Don’t emulate that.  Hopefully that was a 1 season only look.LBD

2.      Dress for the Season.  Be sure to check the weather before you go.  Weather Underground is a good resource.  I have typically found that you will need to dress in layers no matter when you travel abroad.  A light jacket, colorful scarves, stylish cardigans/sweater coats are a must for spring, summer & fall.  Going in the winter?  Bring along a warm coat, some snazzy boots & a cute hat/scarf/glove combo.   I had left my puffer coat at home during a winter trip to Milan…only to realize that everybody (and I do mean everybody) was wearing one.  First and foremost, you want to be warm.  Don’t take an unlined peacoat when visiting Finland in the dead of winter.  Your health trumps fashion.  Plus, you will stand out as not knowing how to dress properly for cold weather 🙂  ExOfficio is now offering a snazzy sweater jacket that doubles as a travel pillow when folded.  This jacket is so cozy & warm!  I recently wore it during a winter trip and fell in love with it.  The jacket packs very easily, is super soft AND rain-resistant as well as keeping you warm & toasty.  This is now my go-to jacket both here and abroad!

coco3

3.       DO NOT WEAR…

  • Baseball caps!  If you want to protect your head & face from the harsh sun, opt for a stylish wide-brimmed hat (during the summer) or cloche/fedora (during the winter). Baseball caps scream tourist. Don’t bring your favorite sporting team to France unless you are actually on the team, k?
  • Baseball/Football Jerseys, High School/College T-shirts, etc.  Do I really even to explain why wearing a baseball or football jersey is a no-no? Again, you don’t want to stand out as a tourist for pickpockets. T-shirts are fine if they are plain or have a cool graphic. Bottom line, you want to look nice…not like you are getting ready to workout. If you just don’t think you can survive without wearing sporting apparel, buy a soccer/rugby jersey. You can fit in and it will be a conversation starter.
  • Fanny-packs!  Seriously…just no.  It’s not cute.  Tell your mother to leave it at home with the rest of the 80’s attire.  I don’t even know how this item became popular.  Never carry your money and valuables in a waist contraption that is easily seen.  You are begging a pickpocket to take a knife, cut the strap and steal it from you.  Use a money belt instead.  It’s similar to your beloved fanny-pack; it just goes under your shirt/waist of your pants instead so it will not be seen.  This protects your valuables from curious onlookers.
  • Expensive jewelry/bags!  A pickpocket will tackle you to steal your Rolex or Louis Vuitton.  Leave your valuables at home.
  • White sneakers???  I have actually seen quite a few locals wearing sneakers (though not usually white) around London & Paris.  My preference is to bring a pair of running shoes (as I like to workout during my trips abroad…even running races like the Paris-Versailles 10K) as well as a comfortable & stylish walking shoe (i.e. Hush Puppies, Mephisto, Clarks) that can transition into an evening shoe. I highly recommend walking shoes that have a rubber sole to minimize the impact of walking on cobblestones.  I love the Hush Puppies Sonnet flat which you can buy at Macy’s for almost half of what it retails for at other locations as well as the Makena Ballerina shoe.  Bottom line is to wear a shoe that you will be comfortable walking in for hours at a time.

Emma

4.       Must Haves.

  • Light jacket/cardigan/wrap = If you plan to wear tanks or sleeveless tops during the summer, be sure to bring something to cover your shoulders when visiting a place of worship.  You will not be allowed to enter with shoulders (and sometimes legs) exposed.  I bought Magellan’s Sun Protection Wrap for my recent trip to Morocco and fell in love.  So soft and it provides the necessary protection (both arms and head) when you enter places of worship.  I even wear it around at home.
  • Secure purse/money belt = I have been using a PacSafe purse (stylish & secure) to carry around my valuables, guidebook, umbrella & bottled water for a couple of years now and it is awesome.  Highly recommend!  The shoulder straps are reinforced with steel so it cannot be cut and the zippers lock into place.  It will take a pickpocket a few minutes to figure out how to gain access to your valuables.
  • Comfortable walking shoes = As I stated above, cobblestones can be harsh on your feet.  A stylish rubber-soled shoe will save your tootsies!
  • Dark colored pants & skirt = Use these as your base pieces.  Dark colors camouflage stains & are great to pair with funky accessories.

MM

5.     Handy resources.  Here are a few websites that focus on travel-related items:  While ExOfficio & Magellans offer stylish options, you can certainly find great travel clothing from cheaper stores (i.e. Old Navy, Target, etc.).

While these tips may not prevent you from being identified as a tourist, it will keep your bag lighter and you safer.  Hope it helps!  Safe travels.  Do you have any travel fashion tips?  If so, please comment as I’m always looking for a fresh perspective!

Also check out my posts on Nikki’s Favorite Things: Fashion Accessories and Essentials for Stress-Free Travel.