travel

So Ready for Delmarvacation 2.0!

Speaking of favorite vacation spots—this pretty much sums up what I’ll be doing for the next few days:

delmarvacation

I’m going back to Delmarva for another long weekend. (The Delaware + Maryland + Virginia peninsula = Delmarva, according to the locals! Peter has dubbed trips down there “Delmarvacations,” and since this is our second of the year, we’re about to embark on Delmarvacation 2.0.)

We rented another house in Bethany BeachВ north Ocean City, this time, but with a much smaller group—just Mal, Peter, his brother Paul, and me. I’m looking forward to everything in the photo above: boardwalks, blue crabs, beer and especially long days at the beach! And maybe a few drinks at Seacrets

Enjoy your last summer weekend!

Old School Jersey Shore

I may be a die-hard New Yorker, but I’m always going to have a soft spot for the Jersey Shore.

When I was a kid, there was nowhere else I wanted to be, especially during the summer. Every year, I looked forward to vacations on quaint Long Beach Island and the lively Ocean City boardwalk. Occasionally, we’d hit up other towns, like Wildwood (with its funky tram car) and Atlantic City (which was way sleazier than it is now). In college, I spent a few days in pretty Lavalette (thanks, Karen!)—and a requisite night out in seedier Seaside. (Of course!)

This year alone, I celebrated my 30th bday in Atlantic City (somehow, I neglected to blog about that) and ran a great race in Long Branch.

Given my history with the region, it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed seeing images from “Asbury Park and the Jersey Shore, c. 1979,” a photography exhibition by Joe Maloney. The photos were taken a few years before I started going to the shore every summer, and they capture the gritty yet idyllic vibe of the time and place.

“View from Empress Hotel, Asbury Park, New Jersey,” 1980

“Boardwalk, Asbury Park, New Jersey,” 1980.

“Asbury Park, New Jersey,” 1979.

What summer destination has a special place in your heart?

(Photos by Joe Maloney via The New Yorker)

So What Happened to Patagonia?

perito moreno

For the past month, I was fixated on going to Patagonia. Whether they wanted to or not, anyone I spoke to during that time had to suffer through hearing heard my plan:

LAN was having a fall fare sale, so I was going to fly into Santiago and spend one day exploring the city. Then, I’d fly to Punta Arenas in time to meet up with a group that would be hiking the Torres del Paine “W” Trek for five days; there, I’d see the picturesque Valle France, the massive Grey Glacier and the iconic, granite towers that give the park its name. (And since I was planning to go in October, the park’s shoulder season, the tour was 30% off.) After that, I’d fly back to Santiago and spend three days bumming around the coastal towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Then, I’d take a red eye back to NYC and show up for work that morning.

Pretty sweet, right? So what made me change my mind?

The night before the LAN fare sale ended, I mapped out my trip: how much it would cost me, how much time I’d have at each place. Even with the discounted airfare, trek and staying at inexpensive hotels and hostels, the trip would cost about $3,000—more than what I was hoping to spend. But that wasn’t the dealbreaker. It came down to how I really wanted to experience Patagonia.

In an ideal world, I’d spend a month…or two…or three…traveling Chile from top to bottom.В Unless I quit my job (insanely unlikely, at this point), that’s not happening. So next best case scenario would be having a little over two weeks to explore southern Chile and Argentina—not just Torres del Paine, but also El Calafate,В Los Glaciares National ParkВ and the Perito Moreno glacier;В Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego; the lake district to the north, and more.

I may not have enough vacation time for that next year, or even the year after, but I think it’s worth waiting for.

In the meantime, I will be more than consoled with my time in Buenos Aires and the many other shorter, but just as amazing trips I plan to take in the near future.

(In case you’re wondering, I actually chose BA solely because it was another option on that LAN fare sale. I figured going to Santiago would remind me of what I wasn’t able to do this time around, but a BA trip wouldn’t have any of that baggage! And now that it’s booked, I can’t wait to go.)

(Perito Moreno photo byВ Jordi Oller MaciaВ via 500px’s Pinterest)

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)

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!

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)