The Luvaville Blog
The Luvaville.com Blog is ALL about travel and lifestyle for urban parents. Here, we wish to share with you some of our travel experiences as well as tips and various recommendations on fashion, great design, trendy and practical products that go along with life as parents.
We are extremely happy to welcome Vanessa to our fantastic team. Vanessa is the lovely mother of sweet baby girl Sarah and lives in Manhattan together with her husband. Vanessa is an English language teacher, freelance writer and fitness instructor and a spare time food blogger about destinations in the Hamptons, just a short jaunt away from the city: www.eastendtaste.com. As an avid traveler, she is always looking for family friendly places to visit, especially places that are nontraditional and off of the beaten path. Next destinations for the little family of three: London, Aberdeen in Scotland, Stockholm, Berlin and Vienna. Traveling is an important part of their lives and they are looking forward to journeying around the world together as a family.
We have asked Vanessa a few questions about her life in NY and about her favorite spots.
1. What do you like best about living in Manhattan (New York) with your child?
You will always find something new to do each day. After going to school and working in the city and now having my daughter, I continue to find new and unique places to see and things to do. Not only in each borough but in each neighborhood from the West Village to Central Park West, you feel as if you are in a different city altogether. The opportunities for discovery are endless.
2. What is a typical day in Manhattan like with your family?
During our days off, we love to spend as much time outside as possible while escaping the city crowds. We have breakfast and lunch at home then grab a snack near the park and venture to a museum or park. There are dozens of museums throughout the city, and we like to visit at least one museum a week. I show my daughter the paintings and sculptures and explain them to her. We stay for just an hour. When she gets a little older, we will do even more traveling together.
3. What is your favourite area in the city and why?
Greenwich Village and the West Village. There are so many great shops and so much history close together. You could spend hours walking the streets and browsing through the shops. Plus the indoor mall and urban food court, Chelsea Market, is wonderful to visit on those rainy days or during the summer heat.
4. Where do you like to go for lunch or dinner?
For lunch, I love Hale & Hearty soups or Pret a Manger which are found throughout the city or Vive la Crepe and Crepeaway both near Union square. For a snack, I love Alice's Tea cup for their vegan peanut butter scones and the City Bakery during the winter months for their dark hot chocolate.
5. What kind of public transport do you use getting around in the city with your family?
Exclusively the subway otherwise we like to walk as much as possible. We also take the aerial tramway to Roosevelt Island across the East River. There are always wonderful photo opportunities during the short trip.
6. Your favourite shops for your self and for your child/children?
My favorite shops for myself are Zabar's grocery store on the Upper West Side and La Maison du Macaron in Chelsea. I love purchasing my favorite syrups, shortbread biscuits and cheeses at Zabar's and the macaron shop has the best salted caramel and lemon macarons. For my daughter, I love to shop for her at Kendall's closet on the Upper East Side that sells imported European brands and Florence Fancy also on the UES.
7. The best play ground in the city?
There are so many great play grounds that it really depends where you are near. Close to me is the East 72nd Street Playground with a pyramid-shaped slide and stairs, a net climber, tire swings and a wooden tree house. Another great play ground is the Ancient Playground close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is inspired by their Egyptian Wing which sparks a lot of imagination for the little ones.
8. If you have a little diaper incident where do you go?
The student centre at NYU, my alma mater. The bathrooms there are very clean and spacious. If I am near midtown or Central Park, I stop in either a Hilton, Double Tree, the Plaza Hotel or the Marriott Marquis if I am in Times Square. These are your best bet for cleanliness, in addition to the opportunity to stop and sit in their respective lounges for feedings and or breaks.
9. Your child's favourite cultural activity?
My daughter, Sarah, is just five months old. Since I read two books to her every day, I would love to take her to the New York Public Library where her grandfather worked. She will also love visiting the Children's Museum of Manhattan, Hudson River Park's Pier 25 and the New York Historical Society. My favorite annual autumn event is the NYC Chocolate Show in the Chelsea neighbourhood.
10. Your own favourite cultural activity?
Strolling through the West Village and visiting the "mom and pop" specialty shops such as Bonnie Slotnick's cookbook shop, Meyers of Keswick British grocery store, The Bathroom beauty and perfume shop and McNulty's Tea & Coffee. I love looking at the historic buildings and tenements in the area. I also enjoy attending the NGO briefings at the United Nations, where I used to visit regularly while I was a university student.
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Our friends over at Babyccino Kids has made a gorgeous and practical travel kit for children in collaboration with the French brand Lalé. This little travel kits is specially designed for children with the ambition of making travelling fun and more comfortable. The sets are perfect to bring on planes, trains and bu car or even for a trip to the beach. The travel kit include an eye mask, a neck cushion, a blanket with multiple usage and a little doudou. We love it and it's right in the Luvaville.com spirit and I know two little girls who would need and love their own set when travelling. You can find them on the Lalé webshop.
A re-post of this perfect mini-guide for Valencia where me and my family (husband, daughter 2, 5 year and me - very pregnant) went a few year's back. We spent 8 days in this lovely city. We found Valencia to be really beautiful and romantic and very childfriendly. Valencia is beautiful and perfect to visit during spring or fall since the temperature hasn't reach that high yet. It's is a good alternative to Barcelona, smaller, but still rich in culture, activities, great food & shopping.
Where to stay? We stayed at two hotels during our stay:
Palau del Mar: This aristocratic nineteenth century building is located in the heart of Valencia, near both the shopping district and historic area. This fabulous centrally situated hotel is housed in a refurbished palace and offers guests the best of contemporary Valencia: the historic city centre and the modern heart of the city. Romantic architecture, including an impressive hall and a marble staircase, has been reinterpreted in modern terms for the complete enjoyment of beautifully serene spaces. The staff is very kind and helpful, the restaurant servs delicious food and the indoor swimmingpool (which is very small), is perfect for young children.
Hotel Las Arenas Valencia: The majestic Las Arenas Balneario Resort is a beachfront hotel in Valencia. Overlooking azure oceans and walking distance from the city centre, Las Arenas Spa offers great accomodations as well as all the needs a modern family might have: children's pool, children's club/playground, high chairs, baby cots, restaurants etc. The beachfront location is amazing!
What to do? Kids can really enjoy them selves in Valencia, as there are several options and activities designed specifically for them.
The Zoo: The Bioparc is the new zoo of Valencia, located in the Cabecera Park. Valencia Bioparc is in a 200,000 m2 section of the extensive Turia Gardens and is a new kind of zoo. The Biopark is created employing the concept of zoo-immersion which means immersing the visitor completely in wild habitats. The zoo offers you the unique opportunity to watch many of the animals roaming freely just like on an African Safari. Most of the animals are set in their natural habitat, log cabins with thatched roofs give it an authentic feel and the really dangerous animals are well cared for and can be seen behind glass in well made pens. We loved it!
Aquarium: Valencia Aquarium is housed in L'Oceanografic, the largest marine park in Europe and it's the largest aquarium in Europe! This stunning building was designed by Felix Candela and is reminiscent of the amazing work of Barcelona's Antoni Gaudí. Valencia Aquarium at the Oceanografic can be found in the stunning City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciencies) which also contains a planetarium, science museum, botanical garden and opera house. The oceans and species of the sea are well represented in this truly spectacular area in the center of Valencia.
The park Turia Gardens: The gardens stretch the length of Valencia like a lovely green ribbon ending not far from the beach and port of Valencia. For a few minutes you can escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a very shady and green Valencian city park. The lovely park is a 7 kilometer promenade of flowers, parks, ponds, fountains, sports facilities and playgrounds - Amongst others the impressive Gulliver Playground where kids can climb and slide on top of the giant Gulliver. Playing on the top of Gulliver, the kids naturally look like the small citizens of Lilliputs. Not suitable small kids, though! A stroll in the Turia Gardens is one of the top things to do in Valencia because you can easily reach other parts of Valencia.
Valencia beaches: The white sandy beaches are edged with palm trees and are perfect for children to build sandcastles on. Take a dip in the sparkling Mediterranean sea and when it gets too hot and you need some shade, there are plenty of pretty thatched parasols to sit under. You will find many beach-side activities such as small playgrounds, special lanes and the promenade which is ideal for rollerblading or riding bicycles.
Where to shop? Valencia has alot to offer, fashion wise. Both for kids & adults. The kids of Valencia are well equipped and their are many shops dedicated the little ones. Our favorites are:
Nanos: Nanos is a traditional Spanish childrenswear luxury label. The name Nanos, which means little ones in Spanish, caters classic pieces with an edge: colours are bold and styles fashion-savvy with on trend cuts and embellishments. Thanks to Nanos classic luxury clothing for children goes beyond pastels, beige and pale pink, to fully embrace colours and festive patterns. All with the distinctive style and the utmost refinement you expect from a luxury label. The beautiful shop has a little corner where the kids can play while the parents are shopping.
Yo Solito: Yo Solito is this very cool and personal shop where you will find all the best from Spanish and International brands such as Bonton, Babe & Tess, Imps&elfs, Zef, Normandie and much more. The decor is black and white and very stylish. Definately worth a visit.
Imaginarium: The Spanish chain that sells great & high quality toys Imaginarium is also to be found in Valencia. There are several branches in Valencia, so check out the website to find an adresse.
Where to eat? People in Valencia seems to be very childfriendly. Kids are more than welcome at most restaurants and even though there are no specific children's menu, they are always ready to prepare a special meal for your kids; a smaller portion, not too spicy etc. Also you will find high chairs in every restaurant (at least all the restaurants we visited had high chairs).
Baby Deli: Baby Deli is a fantastic concept store and café offering gorgeous and organic products: food, toys, baby care etc and a café with great lunch and everything parents and kids need for having a nice time in beautiful surroundings! Baby Deli also offers different activities for children like cooking classes amongst other things. The perfect place where toddlers can play while parents enjoy a cup of coffee.
Cacao Sampaka: Cacao Sampaka makes delicious chocolate using only authenthic cocoa. In the shop you will also find a little cafeteria where you can enjoy a typical hot chocolate, mousses, pastries and cakes, chocolate granita, chocolate deserts etc. Delicious!
Valencia is truly beautfiul and you can easily get around the city with a stroller. The Metro has lifts and you will find bicycle paths all over the city. You can rent bicycles in the Turia Gardens and in the City of Arts & Sciences. You can also rent bikes here and here.
The fabulous Danish Webshop Lillefigaro.dk has started their famous sale. Hurry up if you want to find treassures from Danish and International Designers such as: Soft Gallery, Poppy Rose, Bobo Choses, Mini Rodini and many cool brands for mothers as well.
A new season calls for new fresh colours - not only in our wardrobe but also in our home. Mini Rodini recently launched their beautiful new Home Collection which is fun, fantastic and colourful exactly like the Mini Rodini clothes. Mini Rodini Home is a 100 % organic and non-toxic interior collection consisting of blankets and bed-linen for both baby cribs and junior size.
A few weeks ago, my husband took the girls skiing in France for the first time. I joined them for a long weekend and it was fun to see how easy they learn at that age compared to me ;).
My husband's family have an apartment in this very cute and calm village in the French Alpes called La Clusaz, it's perfectly situated only one hours drive from Geneva. La Clusaz turned out to be a very good spot for kids with many dfferent activities, snow playground, skiing school with many classes according to age and skiing level, ice wring and carrousel rides. Well, the town do promote themselves as being the "paradise for children" and yes it was actually true for once! Here a mini mini guide for la Clusaz with children. Anyway, this trip gave us lots of sun and smiles on the faces and great family fun activities and can be recommended for sure.
Where to stay
We have tried the Beaulieu hotel one time in summer and it was ideal for families, they have family rooms - with two rooms together and even rooms for the kids with bunk beds. Located in a peaceful place with a parking and at a few steps from shops, the access to the swimming pool of the hotel Carlina next door is offered. You will enjoy the local mountain furniture of the rooms and their family-style warmth.
Where to eat
Perfectly situated on the slopes and accessable as well by the road the restaurant and snack bar/ café La Ferme which is also a hotel is a good stop for a quick lunch and a nice meal with a view.
An other excellent restaurant is La Caleche, situated right behind the village church. It's very family friendly with children's menus, changing facilities in the restroom and open from lunch to late night so you don't need to worry about eating too late with the kids. You need to book your table, since this restaurant is famous for it's traditional cheese fondue and raclettes.
One of my favorite brands for adults the Danish Ganni has launched a cool sweartshirt with a printed statement "Good Luck" for children, supporting the Children's cancer Foundation Børne Cancer Fonden. The sweartshirt come in 2 sizes 3-4 years and 5-6 years and you can find it on Ganni's webshop if you wouls like to support the good cause as well as dressing your kids in style.
Turning 3 is a big deal and my little baby girl Stella just celebrated her 3 years birthday, I can't believe it! It actually means that she is no longer my little baby and hasn't been for some time, but since it's the youngest and last child I have to admit, I sometimes miss the little baby! When that being said, I love following and watching her develop herself becoming a little independant girl.
The famous French lifestyle and clothing brand Bonton just opened their first flagship store in Tokyo, in the same spirit as their other shops. On the list for at trip to Tokyo with the family is should be. 2700 sq shop and librairy café under one roof, the perfect spot for shopping and snack time.
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo – JAPON
All images from the Bonton blog
Yet another reason why, Japan is on the top of my travel list. Look at this amazing art instalation/ playground made of net. The knitted Wonder Space created by Toshiko Horiuchi.
The pavilion is located at the Hakone Open-Air Museum, a unique open musem located in one of the mist visited tourist spots in Japan. The idea is that children learn to explore, handle and play with works of art, rather than just looking at them, which should bring kids closer to art and inspire their creativity. In Japan, apparently many museums and art schools allow children to experience art hands-on, up close and in a personal way. This instalation is incredible and I know a few kids who would go crazy.
Woods of Net / Tezuka Architects / TIS & PARTNERS, photo by Abel Erazo
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