As Elie Wiesel once said, “There is divine beauty in learning.”
Nastia Liukin GymnastEscape with an Olympian
Nastia Liukin isn’t just a gymnastics guru. She’s also a world traveler. The 24-year-old New York University student earned five Olympic medals and nine world medals before retiring in 2012. Even though she’s no longer competing, she remains very active – and she continues to jetset around the globe. In an exclusive interview, the former Female Athlete of the Year talks to Galavante about her favorite NYC restaurants, travel destinations, and must-have carry-on items.
Galavante: Favorite travel destination for work?
Nastia Liukin: One of my favorites was Australia. It was for my first World Championships in 2005. The people were so warm and welcoming, and the country itself is beautiful. Another favorite has to be Beijing. Achieving my biggest dream of winning the Olympics there left me with very special memories, but unfortunately I never got to visit the Great Wall, so it's on my bucket list to go back.
Galavante: Top travel destinations for fun?
Nastia Liukin: My favorite vacation was Paris. There's just something about that city that’s so amazing. Besides it being romantic, I love the history, beautiful architecture, and, of course, the shopping is amazing.
Galavante: Active getaways?
Nastia Liukin: I love to go hiking. San Francisco and Colorado are great for hiking. San Franciso is so beautiful and most of the time cloudy, so you don't always have a great view, but when you finally reach your destination, you feel like you're walking on clouds. Colorado is equally beautiful with the mountains. Both Vail and Keystone are great. Runyon Canyon in L.A. is always fun too.
Galavante: What’s the best meal you've had in the entire world?
Nastia Liukin: That's a tough one. Having been able to travel all over the world, I've had some pretty incredible meals. One of my favorites in Dallas, my hometown, has to be at The Mansion. Another favorite is in Moscow, at Sky Lounge. The view is out of this world. It's on the very top floor of this huge building and you have a 360-degree view of Moscow. Another great one in Moscow is Pushkin.
Galavante: What are your favorite restaurants in NYC?
Nastia Liukin: L'Artusi. ABC Kitchen. Mercer Kitchen. My favorite brunch spot is MudSpot in the East Village.
Galavante: You just bought a place in Colorado. What do you love about the area?
Nastia Liukin: Growing up, we used to spend every Christmas skiing in Keystone. When I started getting more serious about my gymnastics career, we stopped going skiing to not risk getting injured. I have such fond family memories in Colorado, so I've always wanted to buy my own place. I'm so excited to spend my first Christmas in Keystone this year!
Galavante: Were there other places where you considered purchasing a place?
Nastia Liukin: I had my mind pretty set on Keystone. I also have a place in Florida, so now I'm able to enjoy a weekend on the beach or in the mountains. But now that I live in New York City, I try to spend my free weekends flying back to Dallas to visit my parents and friends back home.
Galavante: If you could live anywhere outside the U.S., where would it be and why?
Nastia Liukin: I would love to live in Paris or somewhere in Italy. I love the European culture so much. I think maybe that's why I like living in New York City. I love being able to walk everywhere – to the best shopping and restaurants. I'm also dying to go to Santorini, Greece.
Galavante: What is a must-have for your carry-on?
Nastia Liukin: iPhone and headphones, a good magazine or book, and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
Galavante: Where does your next trip take you?
Nastia Liukin: I just flew from New York City to Dallas for Thanksgiving, and I have another trip to Dallas the following weekend for work. Then Christmas in Keystone. My next international trip will be to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics!