Milan in a Day

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't burry thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live.

I originally had no plan to visit Milan this summer. But then after searching forever, I realized that Milan was one of the only cities that had nonstop flights to Santorini, Greece. That being said, I was really amazed by the city, however brief it was! Milan has (obviously) amazing shopping, tons of Italian fashion brands that I’ve never heard of, and practically every brand. I would say that Milan is probably better than NYC for shopping! Not only that the city was beautiful, green, clean, and felt pretty safe. The local Italians were very friendly too, probably because they deal with so many famous models visiting all the time (I saw a male model walking around in front of the cathedral so who knows who you will see when you go)!

When we first arrived we took a taxi to our airbnb, we had a convo with our driver and he asked us how we felt about Trump, lol. We said “it’s not good” and he said that most Americans he had asked felt the same way (but then again people who voted for Trump probably won’t be visiting Milan anyway?). Milan has quite a few famous places to eat and shop, but the main square with the Milan Cathedral is right next to the famous mall or the Galleria Vittirio Emanuele II.

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We went shopping at Inglot and a few other places. We got a treat at Cova. I would recommend for breakfast either Cova or Pave’, for dinner/lunch visit Carlo E Camilla or Tagiura Di Angeloti Rino Snc (they have a beautiful covered courtyard and delicious affordable food) or Da Michele I Condurro for pizza. I wanted to visit LuBar a new place to eat inside of the GAM Museum but we just didn’t have the time. Uber exists in Milan. Milan has a good public transportation system and the city is walkable.  It’s a good idea to have reservations for dinner. Most restaurants are closed on Monday and a lot of places have random hours or days that they are not open. So double check! Another option is to visit the Brera design district and walk around to see.

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Fancy Cova! I loved the cannoli!

On our second trip to Milan (after we returned from Oia, Santorini Greece) the taxi driver couldn’t find our new airbnb! Our new airbnb was in a newly build apt complex not too far from the city. A lady (more like an angel) appeared out of nowhere. She said she’d help us find our airbnb. She was with her daughter and spoke English. She was so kind and helpful! Without her help we would have been stuck outside or had to turn back! She invited us into her apartment and out of the heat. When we finally got in touch with our airbnb host, I forgot my phone in her apt! When I realized I forgot it my friend called the lady and she had been waiting outside the apartment building trying to return it! She was a Godsend for sure! It’s moments like these that make travel so special. To see the humanity and kindness of strangers.

At our next airbnb, there had been a place I wanted to eat and had done research about in America before arriving, but felt it was too far away. It had amazing reviews and a beautiful courtyard. It was called da Kico amazingly the restaurant was walking distance from our airbnb! How things fall in place!

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Beautiful restaurant with buffet menu. Not expensive at all for the quality! It was jam packed with locals and served delicious seafood among other specialties of the region (a lot of octopus which I found surprising in Italian cuisine)!

I hope you enjoyed this mini guide to Milan. I would totally visit again (Milan is only a few hours from Lake Como)! Thanks again!

 

Atlanta: city guide

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I have lived in Atlanta for almost twenty years. I moved from up north, down here with family, and though at first had mixed feelings about my home city, I came to really appreciate it after living in DC for a year (and traveling all over the world). For one thing people are really friendly here (out of all the cities I have visited in America), the weather is great, lots of food options, and (if you have a car) its got culture too. The thing is that there is urban sprawl so you may discover a neat place in a random corner of the city. It’s got a little bit of everything with different (though smaller) unique hoods. Whatever your tastes, background, and style, there’s something for everyone.

Pro-tip*: Atlanta has gotten to have really bad traffic. So if you are out of town here are some suggestions before beginning your travails: You can take the train to the airport and to other parts of Atlanta, but not all sadly. Traffic is low between Mon-Wednesday from 10 am to 2:30pm. Before and after that it gets crazy, but traffic dies down after 8pm again. Try to coordinate your plans during those times. Thursday and Friday people seem to get out early so those days are kinda busy. As for the weekend, Saturday popular areas will get busy by 2:00pm as people go out for lunch. Sunday is usually the best day to do whatever you need to. Start early.

Where to grab coffee: Chattahoochee Coffee Company,  6640 Akers Mill Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30339

They have a few locations, but this location is situated inside of a apartment complex right by the Chattahoochee river. They have great coffee and the views are beautiful, a really unique experience. They are open Mon-Fri to the public and have limited parking. Come early!

Another option I like is Rev Coffee in Smyrna by Cumberland mall. They have ample parking in the back. The only thing though is that it’s a suburban kind of location, so they may be out of the way for some. For those looking for a something closer to the city try Octane. They have a few locations including one by Lenox Square mall, one right by the High museum of art, and one in Grant Park.  If you are a animal lover, like other cities Atlanta has jumped onto the cat cafe bandwagon: Java Cats Cafe and I’m so happy! Must make reservations (can find link on their Instagram).

Where to get a unique cultural experienceBuford Highway. It’s basically a long road with Asian cafes and restaurants. Check out the Buford Highway Farmers market: they have international offerings and fresh Korean food served everyday. If you want bubble tea check out Quickly, hot pot check out Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot or traditional Korean food Cho Dang Tofu House-Korean Restaurant  . I personally love Asian food and this area has it all.

If you want a Euro experience try Chateau Elan , it has a winery, spa, and beautiful grounds at just an hour outside Atlanta. I’ve been many times and they have excellent food.

Atlanta, historically, is known for the civil rights movement, civil war sights, Gone with the Wind‘s author Margaret Mitchell House, and my childhood favorite Etowah Indian Mounds about an hour outside of Atlanta. Many native American cultures are represented in GA.

Now the next recommendation is something I try to take everyone from out of a town: a 24/7 Korean sauna/spa Jeju Sauna this would be a great option for travelers as it is a cultural plus spa experience for every gender. They have a mixed area and then a private area for the sexes. Just be prepared to see naked people on whichever side you enter. But when you get out to the main area you’re supposed to wear the pjs they provide for you (ladies the pjs are a tshirt and shorts, so if your legs arn’t waxed I would recommend wearing leggings under the shorts, when going into the mixed area). They also have Korean food to eat (not included in the admission price) but it’s pretty cheap. I believe the cafeteria closes at 2 am but double check if you’re coming in late and need food.

Where to get dessert: This is a place that does not compare nor exist in other cities! A European cafe with delicious dessert selection including, cheesecakes, cake, pies, tarts, and sometimes tres leches, not only that they have delicious drinks, and are open late with reasonable parking: Cafe Intermezzo . Their food is ok, but much prefer their dessert. If you are looking for ice cream try: Yogurtland they have the best fro yo flavors; this a brand originally from California.

Where to eat: I suggested some authentic Asian places above. I would generally avoid places where tourists go because the lines are crazy. Here are some great suggestions: For burgers Bocado get the herb fries they are worth it (and supposedly the place serves halal), a famous spot is The Varsity, and we got a Shake Shack too. Pizza: For Italian style I like Antico Pizza (though usually busy), Fellini’s, and the reliable Mellow Mushroom. For southern food try JCT Kitchen, Empire State South (pricey), and The Southern Gentleman, all are super fancy and the last one is located in a luxury shopping area. Cheap sushi? Try: Ru Sans. Another southern tradition among the fancy/cultured set is High tea or afternoon tea. I have yet to try that out here.

Where to Play or go out: Top golf, great for groups. Crescent Avenue has a bunch of clubs, as does Buckhead area. There’s some places on Edgewood, but if it’s early, the weather is freezing, or there is no major celebratory event (like Cinco de Mayo), it’s usually empty at night. Ponce City Market has a rooftop golf area. Run/walk see the Beltline, it’s basically a long road that cuts through different areas but on google its called Eastside Beltline Trail. Count on southerners to give their own name to everything. The website I provided gives more things to do along that route.

Where to shopBridge Boutique a small shop with different brands. It’s very small, but I’ve gotten some unique pieces. Besides Lenox Mall which is a favorite (it’s like one of the best malls I’ve been to in America, for one it’s not too big, and it has a range of stores), luxury brands are in Phipps Plaza and The Shops Buck Head Atlanta, there’s also a Nordstrom Rack not too far from Lenox Square mall. For ethnic clothing (like Pakistani), there aren’t a lot to choose from as there would be in Chicago or online. Imitation jewelry would be Kendra Scott (pricey), Tootsies for gowns/party wear (pricey, but great sales). I haven’t really checked out second hand shopping in Atlanta as Atlanta usually has great deals throughout the year. For cheapest brands of shopping try Cumberland Mall or t.j. max and/or marshalls.

There are many areas of Atlanta with their own reliable staples for food, fun, and entertainment. The main thing that Atlantans like to do is spend time with close ones either at home or on their porch sipping tea or lemonade, I guess that’s why so many people are moving here, besides the weather of course. I hope you enjoy my suggestions. Thanks for reading!

T.

Ramadan 2014: how to stay productive

Ramadan 2014 is slated to begin sometime next week, and with the heat of summer that means long days of fasting with no food or drink from dawn to dusk. How to stay productive without feeling dehydrated, sluggish, and generally lethargic? It all starts with the morning meal before dawn.

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The month of Ramadan is good time to start good or break bad eating/drinking/personal habits. For instance, one Ramadan I gave up caffeine entirely for the month and it felt great! As such I suggest having little to no caffeine for the morning meal. Why? Because caffeine is a diuretic (meaning it will make you pee) and thus will counter effect the hydration process. I would also avoid surgery or sweet breakfast items as well as very salty foods or heavy meals with meat. Salt too will dehydrate you while raising your blood pressure, while sugar packed pastries and donuts will digest quickly and make you hungry again (resulting in a crash later)! So what should you eat for breakfast to keep you full, hydrated and energized for most of the day at least? Here’s a sample breakfast menu that works:

Oatmeal cooked with soy milk or milk, dashed with honey, nuts, fruit

Greek yogurt with granola, berries, and nuts

Eggs (any style you like) with whole wheat bread

Protein bars (I prefer Luna bars: http://www.lunabar.com/products/luna-protein)

Pure Orange juice and/or Coconut water

2-3 glasses of water

For people who have actually met me I can eat like three meals during the morning meal before my fast. I suggested these items for your morning meal in particular because they almost all have some fluid intake and/or protein. Oatmeal gives you energy for hours, and juice and/or electrolyte enhanced water (like Smart Water http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/glaceau-smartwater) keeps you hydrated for hours. Chugging glasses of tap water will just make you pee all morning and by afternoon you’re thirsty and drowsy. Drink water after eating all your food (there is a hadeeth about this mentioned somewhere as well) and after having juice, then drink as much water as you can. If you have a full feeling (I hate the full feeling!) don’t lay down or rest for at least 2 hours. That’s another thing I must repeat: after eating your morning meal Do Not go to sleep! You will get indigestion and feel ‘clogged’ for hours totally ruining any chances of productivity. Instead, read, pray, hang out with the family, get some work done. If you must catch a wink, put pillows up behind you and rest in a sitting position. This can make a world of difference.

As someone who has been fasting every year since she was a kid, I hope these measures can help make your Ramadan or anyone who fasts (during Lent for instance) a more pleasant and therapeutic experience, because Ramadan isn’t about starving or stuffing your face (when it’s permissible to eat) its about being grateful for what we do have and learning to overcome our bodily desires. Peace!