Thursday, September 29, 2011

what it really means to getaway

At the end of August, Leslie emailed me to see if I'd be interested in road tripping to Anna's. "It'd be a good excuse to get out of town before it's officially fall, and the area she lives in looks so beautiful." I, of course, loved the idea, and so we planned last weekend (a few days after it was officially fall, but it worked best for all of us).
On Friday night, Leslie met me at my apartment. First for Thai food and wine, and then to help my family and I move me out of it. The next morning we awoke bright and early in Westchester (5:40am) and with bags packed and Glo bars in tow, we hit the road for coffee, a toothbrush, and Massachusetts.
We arrived about a half an hour before noon with appetites begging for lunch. Naturally, Anna greeted us with fresh kale that needed massaging.
She also whipped up hummus and cooked pasta that would later be dressed in pesto. Leslie got to work on slicing vegetables while I took over preparing our simple kale salad. We enjoyed a lunch fit for healthy food bloggers on her front porch overlooking "the pond." I helped myself to seconds.
Afterwards, we set out on a leisurely walking/hiking tour. We spent two whole hours immersing ourselves into the beautiful wooded bliss. I couldn't have felt farther from Manhattan... in a good way, of course.
It was quite the nature hike too. We spotted mushrooms, a turtle (two photos above) and cranberry fields (directly above) most likely owned by Ocean Spray.
Once back at Anna's lovely lakefront home, we showered and rested for a while before heading out for a brief booze cruise.
And then we drove out to Rye Tavern, a new restaurant in the area that offered classic dishes influenced by the seasons and its vegetable garden.
[Appetizer: caesar, spicy dressing, croutons and shaved parmesan]
[Entrée: grilled local striped bass, lobster-tarragon vinaigrette, corn & rye vegetable succotash and roasted potatoes]
[Dessert: baked chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream, walnuts and chocolate ganache (my vote), whisky peach and brown sugar crisp with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce (Leslie's vote)]
As simple as it sounds, my favorite part of the meal was the baked chocolate chip cookie. It was all I'd hoped it'd be and more. Everything else sounded a bit better than it was and the service was a bit insecure but such is the evolution of a new restaurant. I'd definitely go back.
The next morning we awoke from an incredibly restful sleep to fresh-brewed coffee and numerous breakfast options. We settled on banana oatmeal with cinnamon and flax-almond butter because we felt like being cliché it's what we were craving.
The rest of the day was spent in the adorable town of Plymouth, including a stop by the Mayflower, that famous rock, the historical cemetery, and a unique market:
I don't know if I could ever explain how much better I felt in those brief 48 hours. We had ventured far enough away to feel far away but not too much to make the weekend visit inconvenient. I was calm, relaxed, happy.
Top that off with a shared balsamic-glazed pizza (with spinach and mushrooms on a multigrain crust), and this may just have been one of my most pleasant weekend getaways to date. I cannot thank Anna enough for having us. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

moving on

On February 7th, I joined The Well Daily team. I was excited, hopeful, and so ready to develop my skills further in this new, like-minded company. Throughout the past eight months, I have learned the true meaning of multitasking, versatility, and, yes, work-related stress. I've experienced those challenges unique to start-ups and the kinds of successes that are synonymous in the publishing world. Coworkers evolved into friends.
As of yesterday, I'm once again unemployed. There are just times when... things must change. And I'm okay with that. This is the real world, and I know I have what it takes to find my own happiness and fulfillment in it. For now, I will focus on sleep, wine, yoga, friends, and the many more bright opportunities that await me.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

road trip, round two

As much as I love New York, and I do, sometimes I need a break. A weekend spent in a smaller one (like Jersey City, pictured below) or a suburban town (like the one I grew up in) can revive me enough to return with newfound appreciation and awe.
In just six hours, Leslie and I will already be on our way to visit Anna far, far away from the charmingly bustling streets of Manhattan (or Brooklyn). We will spend our weekend amidst the forest's green--relaxing, sharing, reading, enjoying. There will probably be some drinking as well. It'll seemingly be just what I need, except I will not be headed back to the city to stay afterwards. For the next month, I will be a resident of Westchester suburbia with my parents and younger sister. I will be moving back at October's end, of course, but for now, a break feels right. How ironic that each road trip ends up bringing me home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

oh, eating clubs

Hi. (waves shyly). Remember me? Please pardon my absence and the depth of my self-involved introspection. Life's been throwing me quite a few grown-up challenges lately. I've cautiously been working through them. And although all may not completely figured out yet (when is it ever?), I'm return to blogging.

I look for an "escape" quite often--whenever I'm upset, angry, uncomfortable, stressed, bored. A few weeks ago, I was thankfully just bored. I'd had a migraine for nearly the entirety of Friday evening into Saturday, and awoke Sunday feeling like I'd all but wasted my weekend.
A boy and I went out for a late brunch. When I say late, I mean so late that I had slept in yet been awake long enough to be in desperate need of food and caffeine. We stopped for a latté along the way to hold me over on the long seven block walk to Beechwood Cafe and Market.
This adorable country-style, New American-esque restaurant serves typical brunch fare in addition to fantastic Southwestern favorites, like my Santa Fe Breakfast Burrito: fresh salsa, cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and scrambled eggs wrapped in a flour tortilla and spread green salsa. It was delicious and all was right in the world... except for the fact that my biggest accomplishment thus far was eating breakfast. 
So, we brainstormed our options while I also exercised my ability in being indecisively difficult. That is, until he suggested we hop in the car and drive south to a place that he knows well and I've never been. I like him.
Less than an hour later, we arrived at Princeton University.
This boy I was with graduated from his alma mater a few years before I did, and was amazed at the new buildings and ground renovations.
I was just thrilled to be on a college campus again. 
We spent hours wandering through the academic buildings, dorms, sport fields and eating clubs (or in my opinion, glorified ivy-versions of co-ed fraternities).
It was also, conveniently enough for wandering purposes, move in day... so although more crowded than usual, most buildings were open.
Princeton is beautiful, isn't it? The town itself is pretty cute too. After four hours of walking, we happily sat down at The Alchemist & Barrister. We enjoyed multiple beers and fried foods as a means to channeling our former college student statuses.
More specifically: Ithaca Apricot Wheats, Shipyard Brewery Pumpkin Heads, crispy calamari (italian peppers, capers, raisins, honey drizzle), a garden vegetable burger (feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus, tzatziki sauce on a whole-wheat bun) for me, and an italian-style turkey burger (fresh mozzarella cheese, sautéed spinach, roasted red peppers, basil aioli) for him. 

The weekend was anything but a waste.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

the travel bug, part 2

So yes, as you've read (or maybe you haven't yet), I've been bitten. And as I said, there are reasons this wanderlust has turned into a glorious plague rather than a passing adventure.

Traveling isn't just excitement, new cuisines, and pretty places to me. It has been challenging, exhausting, terrifying, and all the while rewarding.
I was petrified to study abroad my junior year of college. I was afraid of traveling "alone" (I was certainly with a group of other college students in my program, but I didn't know them at first) and living with strangers (even if they became my best friends). I doubted my ability to navigate a foreign language out of necessity. I worried my friends, still physically at Syracuse University, would forget about me and move on with their lives.

I left anyway.

The month is Ecuador was just about perfect. My nerves calmed down as soon as we left American soil, and I was on an excitement high from then on; soaking up the vibrant culture, the warmth of my host family, the beauty of the language. I became closer and closer to the other students in my study abroad program. I desperately missed the guy I was seeing at the time but his steadfast persistence eased any doubts I had about "us." When my new friends and I left Ecuador, we were all excited to settle into our Chilean lives. But not before the thrill of our travel seminar through Buenos Aires and Montevideo. I was living the life. Until things went awry at home and all I felt was helpless and far. From there, I began to miss little things, like my mom's grilled cheese and consistent cell phone service... which then led to bouts of homesickness, in between excitements like dreams in the Spanish language and spring break. It was hard. At times, I was sad. But as the semester went on, Santiago de Chile became my home. I revealed it's wonders to my parents in their brief visit, and as I did, I fell in love with it all over again. So much so that when the time came for me to go back to the United States, I was devastated. Such is the nature of studying abroad, I suppose.

A few months later, I studied abroad in Strasbourg, France. Besides the daily challenge of yet another few months of foreign language acquisition, it was easy. I was living in a smaller city, I practically had family nearby, I knew the drill, and the program itself was a lot more experienced (1 semester of history versus 40 years). The four months flew by, and once again, I didn't feel ready to leave this European city that I referred to as yet another home. I was, however, looking forward to spending quality time with family, friends, and that guy I spoke about that had since become my boyfriend. 

It was beyond amazing to see everyone again. What wasn't amazing was the reverse culture shock, nor living in my parents' house for the summer while feeling more grown up and independent than I'd ever been. And if that weren't enough, that same reverse culture shock joined me for another round when I returned to that colleges campus I had so longed for just one year before. Dare I say that dealing with such things was the hardest part. I can't describe how it feels to have had the most fulfilling 340 days of your life only to find that everything at home is pretty much the same as it was. In some ways, it's unnerving. In some cases, it's impossible to reconnect with people you spent your time missing from halfway across the world. Sad but true. And on the bright side, I grew immensely from it.

I feel as though every choice since then has been made in conjunction with how it will influence my next global galavant. Sure, I've performed somewhat of the basic routine--graduating from college, getting my heart broken, searching for a job, adjusting to the real world--but I also went to Montreal, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Boston, Providence, Baltimore, D.C., dozens of other U.S. cities on my solo cross-country road trip. Then I left again for a month in Costa Rica and Panama

I'm not dense enough to believe that I haven't been lucky to have had the opportunity to travel as I have, yet I'm also aware that this isn't the typical post graduate life for most of my peers for a reason. Although there are some that actually just can't live this way, most simply choose not to do so. They have other passions that drive them and keep them secure.

And in some ways, I envy them. Because for as much as I want to soak up the whole wide world, I too am trying to restlessly figure out my place in it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the travel bug, part 1

I just finished reading an article in this month's Condé Nast Traveler, When the Rich Go Wild. The title is both annoying and endearing, but the content itself, wonderful. It was about wealthy environmentalists and the gorgeous places they're preserving all over the world.
It made me want to go somewhere.
I'm not the only one with an interest in "travel". Many people claim to have it, but few have the same version as I. There are those who consider travel to mean vacation. It could involve a beach or slopes but it always equates relaxation. Then there are others who translate travel to an itinerary. They research and plan, research and plan, and spend a few days in a foreign country experiencing that which has already become somewhat expected. And then there's me
There's a reason they call it "the travel bug." This effervescent desire to visit a new place, revel in it's culture, food, architecture, energy, as often as humanly possible, never does seem to go away. I have got a so-bad-it's-good case of wanderlust.
With that said, I can be satisfied with staying in one place. I usually am. I like establishing my favorite café, getting into an active routine, having the ability to consistently spend time with people I care about. I really do! Until, I don't. Sometimes this restlessness can be answered with a mere weekend getaway. Other times, I need something more. Like, you know, now.
I've been told that "I'm good at travel." Although I can't say I know exactly what that means :) I'll admit I'm flattered, especially because I absolutely love doing it. I didn't always though. I couldn't have. Looking back, there were a few turning points...

P.S. If you didn't know it already, and you probably didn't, Jersey City is delicious. I learned this because of a certain boy, ahem, and the lovely meal we had above. For phenomenal seafood (most notably oysters), amazing service, and a fantastic beer and wine selection, please go to the Light Horse Tavern.