Travel Diaries

From Reyjavik to the Sacred Valley

By Kristen Gray

This month, our globetrotters explored Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands, snagged VIP seats at Paris Fashion Week and got married in Iceland.

Vows among the glaciers

“Everywhere you go, you think this is the greatest thing I have ever seen—that is, until you see the next thing, which is just as breathtaking,” society photographer Drew Altizer says of Iceland, where he married Camille Hayes in an intimate destination wedding on August 18. It’s a “place where we have memories together. Everyone took a ferry from the capital, Reykjavik, to a chapel on Videy Island for our ceremony. Reykjavik is the only city of real size, and although it has its charm with restaurants and culture, I prefer to stay only a few days in order to get to the country at large. … For a non-commercial exploration, visit Hálendid, an interior national park where you will find volcanoes, black sand expansions, waterfalls, hot springs, salt columns and glaciers.” In Reykjavik, the newlyweds stayed at Hotel Borg, their favorite. Altizer’s culinary recs: the Apotek Restaurant and the Gallery Restaurant at Hotel Holt.

An insider does Paris Fashion Week right

“The Givenchy, Vivienne Westwood and Moncler shows were my favorite this year,” says glam gal-about-town Sonya Molodetskaya, who launched her label, Major Obsessions, last year. She’s attended the biannual event for five years, and joined pal Farah Makras to observe the Spring and Summer 2018 collections in late September and early October. “I stay at the Hôtel Costes, which I love because it is a mecca during Fashion Week. I always run into someone famous in between shows—on the elevator or in the courtyard. … I attended five to six shows a day, and had a driver, so I would change into my next outfit in the car.” She adds: “I like to stay a few days after the madness to decompress and explore.” Molodetskaya recommends L’Avenue restaurant for lunch and Japanese restaurant Kong for dinner.

Eat, work, marathon

Author and entrepreneur Layne Gray recently traveled to northern Italy on business. “Crema is a little-known village about an hour east of Milan,” she says. “It’s basically The Pillars of the Earth in real life. Everyone, from young to very old, rode around on bikes replete with wicker baskets for farmer’s market shopping. The best part was that they all had huge smiles on their faces.” While in the region, she stayed at the Palazzo Righini, home of the Antiche Volte restaurant. Then Gray traveled to France, meeting up with friends Rosemary Baker and Scott Gordon (pictured) for the Marathon du Médoc in Bordeaux, where she stayed at the four-star Mercure Bordeaux Chateau Chartrons Hotel. “There were 22 wine stations along the route and they even had an oyster bar,” she recalls. “At the start, a rock band was lifted above the crowd, complete with Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats dangling from wires.” Hopping over to the Savoie region, Gray savored the cuisine in the Hôtel Ombremont’s La Bateau Ivre at Le Bourget-du-Lac.

‘A zoo with no fences’

“Seeing Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands has always been bucket list goals for my husband, Patrick, and me,” says Dr. Carolyn Chang. “So this year, we finally decided to do it for his birthday. After literally ‘planes, trains, and automobiles,’ we finally arrived at Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city in the Andes Mountains. It had been raining all morning. But it was as if someone above parted the clouds for us and let the sun shine through, and we saw the city in all of its amazing splendor below us.” En route, the couple visited ruins in the Sacred Valley, and spent some time in Cuzco. “We loved the hotel there: the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas. The food and service were great, the rooms were beautiful and well-maintained, and I had one of the best massages I have ever had,” she adds. After Machu Picchu, they made their way to the Galápagos Islands from Quito, Ecuador, where they boarded the Silver Galapagos for an expedition cruise. “The Galápagos are home to countless endemic species of wildlife, so we knew that we would never see there what we would see anywhere else,” she says.

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