We’ve had some amazing travel stories thus far on UrbLife.com from celebrities like Akon and Jay Sean, and from people who jet set as a part of their every day business like Project Explorer’s Jenny Buccos. It’s all inspiring, but we also want to hear from people who thrive in the corporate workplace, taking time out from their 9-to-5’s to vacation.
In the case of Chicago native Jasmine Victor, we’ve found a professional vacationer. Currently residing in Los Angeles after living in New York for over a decade, Victor’s day job as Director of Integrated Marketing for Spike Digital Entertainment can often entail 12-hour (or more) workdays and very little personal time. Because of this, she has plotted out the most fascinating getaways to experience during her often limited vacation time.
“Traveling provides you exposure to new people, cultures, environments,” Jasmine explains. “It takes you out of your “bubble” and allows you to experience life, even if just for a short period, from another perspective. It opens your eyes to dream bigger.”
In this segment of Carry On, Victor gives us a rundown of her Top 7 favorite places so far. Read on for her perspective on world travel…
I was surprised at how modernized the city is…if you’re looking for shopping, Singapore is the place to be, not to mention great traditional food shops and local favorites such as “Chicken Rice.” Every restaurant claims to have the best, and I tasted a couple of good versions during my visit.
One of the highlights of my trip was the Singapore Zoo. It’s one of the best that I’ve ever seen with numerous animals out in the open (a few monkeys were swinging a little too close to my head), and even has a night safari.
Relax. Relate. Release.
San Salvador Island was a great vacation to just sit and do nothing but stare out into the ocean. Definitely on my list of top getaway vacation spots.
This was an experience I’ll never forget, ever. I’m grateful to have experienced it. It allowed me to put my American life into perspective as I saw the dichotomy between the grave poverty and upper class “Bollywood” crowd, literally feet away from each other. To me, it was a shock to see third world living conditions, so close and not on a TV screen.
With that said, Indian culture is amazing, and I was very impressed by the time taken to carry out wedding nuptials – traditionally four days of ceremonies – and the hospitality . The food is amazing, although I did get sick a couple of times. TIP: Pack a small carry-on medicine bag! Thank me later.
I recommend the Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore (23, Airport Road), the hotel I stayed at during my visit. The grounds are beautiful, and the Indian statues and overall hospitality are great. I got the royal treatment.
It took two trips for me to fall in love with Paris. Although I could only speak two words of French (“Please” and “Thank You”), I got around very easy. The hustle and bustle of the city reminded me of New York, in a way, but the culture is rich there and not watered down. I really enjoyed the artsy feel of the St. Germain area, and started most of my mornings reading in front of the iconic Notre Dame cathedral.
Two words of advice to Americans: try a croissant and crepe from France, just so that you have something to compare the U.S. version we normally eat! There is a café at practically every corner in Paris, especially near the Notre Dame.
Check out Les Etoiles (13 rue Princesse) for great crepes in St. Germain area.
Also, a visit to the Louvre is a must. I’m not an art critic, but was amazed at the great pieces of work held within this legendary museum, which is a piece of art in itself.
Besides the great food and rich history, the sound of a brass band live in New Orleans is something you have to experience! I loved the rhythmic sounds of the brass bands, the [unique]accent of the locals, and laid-back atmosphere that resonates throughout the city, specifically the French Quarter.
Although a lot of city still needs rebuilding, it’s worth a trip to see both sides of post-Katrina New Orleans, and to embrace the locals still standing strong for their hometown. I definitely feel at home when I visited New Orleans, thanks to their great southern hospitality.
For some great food in the French Quarter, visit Stanley (547 Saint Ann St.)! Try the fried oysters, and they have a nice brunch menu.
This is a city that I’ve been to many times and I’ve always wanted to extend my trip. Vancouver is a nice balance of nature and city – especially since you can visit the nature preserve (there’s a rope bridge that reminds me of an Indiana Jones scene), go whale watching, and get in some great shopping (vintage and high-end).
I’m a foodie, so there’s a great selection of food choices that range from hole-in-the-wall spots to upscale dining. I plan on purchasing a vacation home here. I recommend that you make some time for the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden (578 Carrall St.) It’s literally like you’ve stepped into 15th century China, as you’re surrounded by gardens and homes authentic to Monk dynasty design. The intricate design work is amazing.
There’s nothing like New York City… and I love it. It truly is a melting pot of cultures and has it’s own swagger. The rich history of each area – Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens, Central Park, Columbus Circle, The Village and more – offers something to learn just by walking and exploring the blocks of each neighborhood. The people are amazing and there is camaraderie during hard times, especially during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’m proud to have called this city my home.
Momofuku Ssam (207 Second Avenue) is necessary stop whenever I’m in the city. Order a couple of Steamed Pork Buns and a couple of the entree plates. Everything is sharable, so you can taste a lot. For dessert, you can check out their homemade soft-serve ice cream in flavors that change regularly. My favorite has been white wine/brie swirl with Ritz cracker/apricot topping. Strange, but delicious. Or go next door to Momofuku Milk Bar to try out their full dessert menu.
Follow Jasmine Victor on Twitter @JasmineVictor to find out where she’ll be next!
Jasmine Victor is Director of Integrated Marketing for Spike Digital Entertainment (part of Spike TV and MTV Networks). In her 10+ years experience in the Publishing, TV and Digital areas of Entertainment, Jasmine has lent her expertise to Nu America Agency, Interview Magazine, MTV Networks and the Oxygen network. Overall, it is her goal to develop creative ideas and translate those ideas across various mediums to inspire and encourage others worldwide.