Author: Heather

I love travel, ballet, cats and my hometown of NYC.

Fall Trip, Booked: Buenos Aires

buenos aires

I am so excited to have a fall trip to look forward to: At the end of October, I’ll be going to Buenos Aires!

Like last year’s Guatemala adventure, this is another solo jaunt. But unlike last year, I only have one week off from work. I’ll be squeezing in as much as I can, without exhausting myself!

I can already tell that’s going to be tough. Thanks to fellow bloggers, my wish list of Buenos Aires activities keeps growing. So far, I’m hoping to:

  • wander around various neighborhoods and parks:В This itinerary has some appealing suggestions!
  • take a cooking class: Maybe thisВ empanada-making one?
  • eat at a puerta cerrada, a “closed-door” supper club
  • go tango dancing! (Of course!)
  • take a ballet class:В This is something I’d like to do in every city I visit, though it’s not always feasible—ballet studios with daily, open classes for adults don’t exist everywhere in the world. (I couldn’t find one in either city I visited in Guatemala, nor in La Paz, Bolivia.) But it looks like I won’t have too much trouble finding a studio in BA.
  • take a day-trip to Colonia, Uruguay. Just so I can say I’ve been to Uruguay, as well. It’s only an hour away by hydrofoil. (Montevideo isn’t all that far, either, but I know I won’t have time to go there.)
  • see the Iguazu Falls.В I need some nature while I’m on vacation! I can’t just go from one major city to another without a little green respite.

In the meantime, I’ll be brushing up on my Spanish and taking a few beginner tango classes, here in NYC.

If you have any recommendations about what I should see or do in Buenos Aires, please let me know—I’d love your suggestions! Especially if you know a good place for tango. 😉

(Photo by Taylor Moore via 500px.com’s Pinterest)

Voice Tunnel

This looks super-cool.

voice tunnel

“Voice Tunnel” is the signature art installation at this year’s Summer Streets. (Three Saturdays when nearly seven miles of NYC streets are closed to cars, and open to pedestrians and bikers.)

Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer lined the Park Avenue Tunnel,В which runs from 33rd to 42nd Street, with 300 theatrical spotlights and 150 speakers. Pedestrians who pass through can speak into an intercom that records and loops their voices—and affects the brightness of the lights. The result will be constantly changing light and sound patterns.

I appreciate how understated the installation seems—how it utilizes the space but doesn’t completely take it over. Because for me, one of the coolest parts of experiencing it would just be walking through the tunnel.

Turns out, that was one of Lozano-Hemmer’s goals. As he puts it, in the video below:

I wanted to do something that would not be a big intervention because the tunnel, itself, is quite pretty—the beautiful sort of rock shapes, the metal cladding. You feel special just walking into it.

Will definitely have to check it out.

(Photo by Julie Hau via Summer Streets’ Facebook page; video by NYC DOT via Transportation Nation’s Tumblr. Summer Streets are August 3, 10 and 17.)

Let the Journey Unfold

Does traveling just fuel your wanderlust?

It does for me. On one hand, there’s no place like home, and I’m usually okay with coming back to NYC. But on the flip side, there’s nothing like traveling. And spending time in places that are very different from NYC reminds me that there’s so much more to experience. It’s a big world out there.

This weekend, I had a fabulous time at the shore. The house we rented was much newer and nicer than it appeared online (and in this promo video!), and we had amazing beach weather almost every day. Plus, we grilled most of our meals and went out for the long-awaited blue crab dinner—two luxuries that are pretty rare in the city! It was so hard to leave—I wanted a few more days (or weeks) there.

So when I got back to NYC, all I could think about was planning more trips. (The best way to stave off post-vacation blues!) As I was browsing various travel Tumblrs today, both stoking and soothing the wanderlust, I stumbled upon this image. Its words rang especially true:

maptia manifesto

(Image via Maptia; found via National Geographic Traveler’s Tumblr)

Off to a Beach House Weekend

beach

After spending practically every other summer weekend on the beach, for the two years Mal and Peter lived inВ Maryland, I kind of got used to that luxury! Instead of associating summer with steamy, NYC heat (which I do love), I found it synonymous with long days laying out in the sun and cooling off in the waves. (Which I love even more!)

So when Mal and PeterВ moved back to New YorkВ last year, I vowed to find a summer share so we could keep spending weekends on the beach.

That didn’t happen.

I got caught up with life (the new job, etc.). And before I knew it, summer was here. I had missed the summer share market by months.

As a consolation, I decided that the next best thing would be to rent a beach house for a weekend—and fill it with a lot of our friends. Luckily, our friends were game. The hardest part was finding an affordable rental!

The market is insane—especially if you start looking for a July rental in June. I spent a good two weeksВ speaking with realtors andВ scouring rental listings for every beach town in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. (I’m not exaggerating! The places I looked at included Fire Island; Montauk; the Hamptons; Long Branch; Ocean Grove; Asbury Park; Lavalette; Long Beach Island; Avalon; Cape May; Ocean City, NJ and MD; Rehoboth Beach; Dewey Beach; Lewes Beach; Bethany Beach…and more.)

In the process, I learned:

  • No one rents for just the weekend in high season.В Unless you want to pay a ridiculous amount of money—as in, $3,000 for two nights for a house that sleeps eight.
  • Prices are crazy.В Everywhere I looked, most low-end rentals (small homes that slept six to eight people) generally started around $3,000, though most were at least $5,000—or more. Much more.
  • Most rentals are Saturday through Saturday.В I don’t understand that—because you don’t get a full weekend! One realtor I spoke to told me it’s because it’s hard to find people willing to clean the homes on Sundays. Um, ok.
  • Contrary to what I’d assumed, Sandy-affected areas were not offering steeply discounted rates.В In fact, a Long Beach Island relator told me that most owners aren’t lowering prices because they’re hoping to recoup some of their losses.
  • My new goal in life is to buy a beach house an hour away from the city.В Because it’s probably much more doable than buying an apartment in Manhattan. And it would be a great investment because I could always rent it out. And I’d never have to deal with the crazy rental market again.

I eventually found one home that was (miraculously) a Sunday to Sunday rental, available the dates we wanted to go. The price was low enough—shocking low, actually—that we were willing to sign a week’s lease, even though we’ll only be using it for four nights. (Hopefully, it’ll be in pretty good condition!) And it’s in Bethany Beach, Delaware—a town I loved visiting the past few summers, and home to our favorite blue crab restaurant.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to a few days on the beach surrounded by good friends.

Hooray for summer!

MTA Tattoos

As a non-driver and native New Yorker, I have a soft spot for the MTA and the NYCВ subwayВ system—even though I’m often frustrated when I can’t get a seat in the morning. (I’m the fourth stop on the A train!)

Nevertheless, I’m loving Tattly’s new line of MTA temporary tattoos. I especially appreciate how it includes the diamond shaped icons for the 6 and 7 trains!

mta set

Love this example of A/C/E pride…

a c e

and this double display of NYC pride!

bagel

(Photos via Tattly; found via Swissmiss)

Stay Cool

Children escape the heat of the East Side by using fire hydrant as a shower bath

It is crazy hot, here in NYC, but of course, I’m loving every sticky minute of it!В I’m still forgoing fans or an AC in my apartment, but I’ve been indulging in lots of ice showers—my indoor version of what those kids are doing in the photo above.

Maybe because it’s so old school, but I love that cooling off via fire hydrant is an NYC tradition.В (This photo was taken in 1943.) Today, local fire departments even distribute free “spray caps” for hydrants, to save water and create makeshift sprinklers for anyone looking for heat relief.

Stay cool (and safe)!

(Photo by Roger Smith via the Library of Congress)

Landfillharmonic

I don’t know too much about Paraguay, beyond the fact that I want to visit it. The country is less of a mainstream tourist destination than its neighbors, Brazil and Argentina—which makes it all the more appealing to me. And after learning about the “Los Reciclados” orchestra,” I want to go there even more.

Just outside of Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital, is Cateura, a slum built upon a garbage dump. To give its young residents a hopeful alternative to the poverty and strife around them, local music teacher Favio Chavez started a youth orchestra—where every instrument is handmade from trash from the landfill.

Cellos are crafted from oil drums, flutes from water pipes. But what’s most astounding is how good these instruments sound. Check out the video below to see how Chavez and “Cola,” a trash picker, create the instruments, and hear the kids play—it’s truly amazing!

(Landfillharmonic, a documentary about the orchestra, is scheduled to be released next year)