travel

Fall Trip, Booked: Chile

I’m so happy. I just purchased a flight to Santiago—I’ll be going to Chile for nine days in October!

This trip was a bit of a whim. The last few months have been a bit crazy, with so much going on. And I’ve just noticed that the year is half over—so I’m overdue to plan a big trip to look forward to.

I’ve wanted to go to Chile since I flew through Santiago on my way to Buenos Aires.В I remember looking out the airport windows, seeing the mountains, and thinking that the landscape looked pretty awesome. Plus, it’s a fascinating country—long and skinny, with so much between its northern and southern points. Accordingly, it has a lengthy coastline. And you know how much I love the beach.

Right now, I’ve yet to plan my itinerary. But I’m considering a few days in Santiago, and then the rest of the time hopping around various coastal towns.

If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

…and in the meantime, it’s time to start brushing up on my espaГ±ol.

(Photo of ValparaisoВ via Pinterest)

Race Recap: Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay

Last month, Evan and I went north to run the Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay. The race was in Biddeford, a small town about halfway between Kennebunkport and Portland.

We had a great four days in the area with Mal, Peter and my mom, who came up to cheer us on. (Photos and recommendations in another post!) The beaches were quiet and pretty, and the small towns had some good food. But the highlight of the weekend was, of course, the race.

Like most half-marathon relays, the 13.1 mile course was split up into two legs: a first leg of 7.25 miles, and a second of 5.85 miles. Evan opted to do the longer half.

Going into it, I wasn’t sure how my time would be. Evan and I didn’t train as much as we could have. As usual, I based my training around my ballet schedule, adding one day at the gym and one outdoor run, each week. Evan did about two days at the gym and one outdoor run, a week. Not bad, but not a ton of mileage. Based on our training runs, I figured Evan would go around 12 minutes per mile, and I’d go around 9:15, putting our total finish time at about 2 hours, 15 minutes.

The race started on Saturday morning, at the University of New England. At 7 a.m., Mal, Peter and my mom dropped us off, and they headed to the relay exchange point, a couple miles away, near the coast.

The weather was perfect for running: overcast and cool, in the 50s—but it was freezing waiting around for an hour!

Finally, at a few minutes to 8, they called runners to the starting line.

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

Evan was in the fourth and final wave; I waited alongside him, on the other side of the corral. We snapped pictured and got excited as the other waves took off, every three minutes.

When they released Evan’s wave, I cheered him on and watched as he ran out of sight. Then I boarded a cheese bus that was transporting us second leg relay runners to the exchange place.

Once we arrived, I met up with my family. I was so glad they were there!

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

I sat in Mal’s car toВ beat the chill—this is one problem I’ve noticed with relay races. The second runner ends up waiting around outside for hours, making it hard to stay warm.

The lead runners started coming in amazingly soon. The second one who arrived was actually a relay runner who tagged his teammate. A few other runners zoomed in, including relayers. Those runners were hardcore! They tagged each other the way they do in the Olympics and other big races, with the second runner starting to run as the first is coming in, so they’re in motion together.

…that was something I had never thought of doing! 😉

Within a half hour, more runners were coming through. After it had been more than an hour since the start, I decided it was time to head into the relay corral to wait for Evan.

I watched other relay runners come in and tag their teammates. Seeing the exchanges was one of my favorite parts of the race. Teams were made up of all sorts of relationships: couples, friends, siblings, parents and their adult kids. Everyone was so excited as they came in and hugged or tagged their partner.

I started to get a little nervous when I realized I was one of the last relayers left. But then, my mom and Mal shouted that they saw Evan in the distance. I was so proud and excited that I couldn’t help but jump up and down and wave. When he reached me, he was all smiles. I gave him a big hug, but he shook me off, saying, “Go! Go!”

The first few miles were my favorite. The road went through a residential area, so I ran by pretty shore houses. The ocean gleamed beyond.

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

Some runners were taking photos along the way (!!) but I’m not coordinated enough to snap pictures while running. Plus, my competitive nature wanted me to clock in with my best possible time.

Because I was on fresh legs, I steadily passed other runners. (And felt kind of bad about it, since they were running the full 13.1 miles!) In a way, it became like a game that helped me get through the run—target someone to gradually pass, then target someone else once I had.

The Maine Coast Half Marathon is a race that’s mostly run on roads that are still open to traffic. (As was the Saint Michaels race we ran in Maryland three years ago.) Initially, I was worried about this—running a race is trying enough, and I didn’t want to think about getting hit by a car while doing so. But the race organizers and Biddeford law enforcement did a great job. They directed traffic around the runners, and held it up, when necessary. And for most of the race, there were very few cars on the road.

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

I felt great for most of my run—strong and upbeat as I ran along the coastal road, then made my way back inland, among houses and trees.

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

As usual, I started getting antsy towards the end. The last half-mile or so is always the toughest for me, when I just want the race to be over.

The course ended in a clever way. The final stretch went back into the University of New England campus, then through a small underpass that led right to the spectators near the finish line.

It was there where I saw Mal, Peter, Evan and my mom cheering me on. Clearly, I was thrilled to see them!

Maine Coast Half Marathon Bosom Buddy Relay | nycexpeditionist.com

The finish line was right beyond. OurВ final time was 2:07:08—much faster than I had expected! Evan ended up running about 10:20 a mile, and I ran an average pace of 8:53.

Shipyard Brewing Co. sponsored the race, so there was free beer at the end, as well as pizza from the Portland Pie Co.В But we didn’t stick around the festivities for too long. I was looking forward to celebrating my finish with a few crustaceous meals elsewhere!

A Birthday Weekend in the Hudson Valley

A few weekends ago, Evan and I escaped NYC to celebrate his birthday.

He asked that I plan the whole trip and make it a surprise—which made it both easier and harder for me!

I decided that since we weren’t taking time off from work, I wanted to keep travel time to under two hours. And I know that Evan loves being in the country, so I focused on places with a farm-like vibe.

I spent weeks down the trip research rabbit hole as I decided for, then against numerous places: a farm b&b that my parents recommendedbut seemed too much like other trips Evan and I had taken. A North Fork b&b on a vineyard—that ended up being booked the weekend we wanted to go away. A Woodstock b&b that I reserved, then cancelled when we changed our trip weekend. A number of awesomelooking places that I loved, but seemed more my style than his.

After weeks of searching, I finally stumbled upon an Airbnb listing that immediately said: “Evan!!!”

It was for a small, Ulster County cottage on what was once a farm. It looked bright and airy with plank wood floors and doors. And it was less than two hours from the city.

I booked it right away.

Evan and I drove up on a Friday after work. The cottage’s owner, Reinhold, met us upon our arrival.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYC Expeditionist

It turns out that he and his wife Lisette, an architect, fashioned the cottage out of a chicken coop.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

The couple splits their time between there and NYC.

I could certainly see why—we loved being there.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

The setting was so quiet and peaceful.

We loved the two barns that sit on the property.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Evan made friends with Batman, Lisette and Reinhold’s cat.

It turns out that he also splits his time between the city and country!

Batman, Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

The location couldn’t have been better. The cottage is in Stone Ridge, a small town that’s near other cute, small towns, like Kingston, New Paltz, Accord, High Falls and Rosendale.

In each town, we met other NYC expats, or people who share their time between there and the city.

I have to say: I now want to be one of them!

Some highlights:

Evan and I had dinner at Boitson’s on Friday night. A Williamsburg expat runs the hopping restaurant/bar, and it’s one of the few places that served dinner after 10. We were happy with this as our first meal of the trip—we especially liked the cocktails, deviled eggs and bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese.

The next morning, we drove to the Village Tea Room, in New Paltz. Like many restaurants in the area, they source most ingredients locally.

Village Tea Room, New Paltz | NYCExpeditionist.com

We enjoyed their corn pudding and the madeleines we took on the road.

On the way back, we passed through Stone Ridge, and a big barn with a yard full of antiques caught our eye. We stopped to browse. It turned out to be Field and Barn, an antiques expo, that had even more gorgeous, rustic finds inside.

Field and Barn, High Falls | NYCExpeditionist.com

We also went into Fred, a boutique with beautiful new and vintage furnishings. While Evan and I didn’t realize it, we were shopping alongside Daniel Craig and Rachael Weisz, who made a purchase.

In an effort to train for our upcoming road race, Evan and I attempted to run in Minnewaska State Park. Let’s just say, it did not go well. Ice and snow covered so much of the trails that we really couldn’t run.

The lake was pretty, though!

Minnewaska State Park | NYCExpeditionist.com

Minnewaska State Park | NYCExpeditionist.com

Afterwards, we had awesome lunch of bratwurst, sauerbraten and beer at Gunk Haus

…and later on, a fabulous dinner at A Tavola, an Italian restaurant in New Paltz. That was our favorite meal of the trip. Our upstairs table was quiet and romantic and we loved everything we ordered: pappardelle bolognese, and an outstanding fish special in a tomato lobster sauce. (At one point, Evan turned to me and said it was the best fish he’d ever eaten. I wholeheartedly agreed!)

The next day, we went to the spa at Mohonk Mountain House. We’d both had so much going on, lately, that I thought we could use some pampering.

The hotel, itself, is insane—we drove nearly two miles down its “driveway” before reaching it. The building is ultra-dramatic—it doesn’t seem like such an old world, castle-looking place would exist there.

The spa, however, was perfectly low-key and tranquil. Evan and I got a much-needed couples massage—that was among the best I’ve had—and relaxed in the whirlpool before heading back to the city.

Airport Codes, Decoded

This is too cool: Airportcod.es,В a site dedicated to the backstories of airports’ three-letter abbreviations.

Airport Codes

I’ve always loved searching for flights and discovering my final destination’s airport code. Some are self-explanatory: LHR, MIA.

Others have made me think, whaaaaaaaaa??—likeВ MSY for New Orleans, EZE for Buenos Aires. (Click the images below, if you’re curious!)

MSY

EZE

I’m glad that I now have an easy place to go to demystify them. Airportcod.es currently hasВ 369 airports from 91 countries, and the sites’ designers/developers, Lynn Fisher and Nick Crohn are adding more each day.

Spring Running Weekend, Booked! Maine Coast Half Marathon Relay

lobster buoys

Apologies for the radio silence!

The past few months have been pretty crazy. I’ve had some good things going on—work has been busy, and I’ve been doing lots of ballet, including my first pointe variation performance! But I’ve also been dealing with some not-so-fun personal life stuff, as well.

I think it’s telling that we’re now deep into the long slog (my least favorite time of year), and I haven’t even put up my annual post about getting through it!

In all seriousness, though, over the past few weeks, I decided I’ve been in need of some carrot-planting: planning some fun things to look forward to, to ride out the remainder of this long slog/rough patch.

The very first carrot planted: signingВ up for a spring road race.

I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant. I really haven’t gone running since my last race, the Long Branch Half Marathon Relay, two years ago (!!). And that was such a special race. My pace was a personal best, and Mal and I hit the goal we set for ourselves. And we finished ninth out of all the female teams! Accomplishing that, with my sister, was seriously one of the best moments of my life.

But I realized that that’s not a reason to never run again! I’ve felt like Evan and I have needed to shake up our routine. Plus, I wanted a carrot that would take me right into spring. And, of course, I wanted an excuse to get away.

The Maine Coast Marathon’s Bosom Buddy Relay seemed like the perfect fit. It’s in early May, which will mean ideal running weather–not too hot, not too cold. Since it’s another relay, I can prep for the raceВ without disrupting my ballet schedule—and Evan and I can train as a team. Part of the run is by the beach—and you know how much I love the beach. Shipyard Brewery Co. is one of the sponsors—and it’s in Maine! Hello?! Beer and lobster to celebrate afterwards!

So we’ve started training, a bit. Some runs at the gym, an outdoor run this weekend, now that NYC isn’t covered in ice. (Evan had the brilliant idea to run from my place to Sylvia’s, 4.5 miles away in Harlem. Nothing like the promise of mac and cheese to get you motivated!)

Seven weeks to go!

(Image via Pinterest)

Stunning National Park Photos

I stumbled across this Tumblr the other day, and I’m admittedly a bit obsessedВ with it. Run by the U.S. Department of the Interior, “America’s Great Outdoors” is just what it claims to be—gorgeous photos (and.gif"http://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm">Haleakala National Park…

Haleakala National Park

Yosemite‘s El Capitan…

El CapitanJoshua Tree National ParkВ (I’ve been wanting to do a Palm Springs/Joshua Tree trip for a few years now)…

Joshua TreeВ …Alaska’sВ Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park

…and the Grand Canyon—love how it looks when filled with clouds! (When I was there, it was breathtaking, but boy, I would have liked to have seen that!)

Grand Canyon

Conjures up some stateside wanderlust, huh?

(Images via America’s Great Outdoors)

A Long Weekend in New Orleans

I try to take an end-of-year trip each time I find myself with a few unused vacation days in November or December.

In 2013,В I put my last two days towards a trip to London. At the end of 2014, Evan and I spent a long weekend in New Orleans, right before the holidays.

I had high hopes for a Christmassy trip, with warm, humid weather in the low 70s. Unfortunately, it was chilly, rainy and cloudy for our entire trip.

Still, we had a great time—it’s hard not to, in NOLA! The city is unlike anywhere else: gorgeous architecture, a European vibe, great music and lots and lots of amazing food!

Evan and I flew in on Thursday night. We checked into our B and B, the Green House Inn, on Magazine Street…

Green House Inn, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

Green House Inn, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

…and settled into our room.

Green House Inn, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

We were starving, but since it was after 10 p.m., most restaurants were closed. So we headed right to Bourbon Street. Our first stop was Killer Poboys, a little shop run out of the divey Erin Rose Bar. We both inhaled shrimp poboys (which were prepared banh mi style, with shredded carrots, cilantro and Sriracha aioli) and Abitas.

Killer Poboys, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Afterwards, we poured the rest of my beer into a to-go cup, and walked down Bourbon Street. (Another reason I love NOLA—it’s kind of nice to walk down the street with your drink!) We ducked into a few bars, and Evan got one of those infamous hand grenade drinks.

Of course, we couldn’t leave the French Quarter without getting beignets. We topped off our night with a few, plus cafe au laits, at Cafe Du Monde.

Cafe DuMonde, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Beignets | nycexpeditionist.com The next morning was chilly and gloomy. We walked down Magazine Street to Mother’s, a NOLA institution that opened in 1938. The restaurant is super-casual, and known for its ham.

Mothers, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

You walk in, grab a menu, and wait on line to give your order at the counter. Afterwards, you take your number, find a table and wait for someone to bring you your food.

We were lucky—since it was a rainy weekday, there was only a short line. But on weekends, itВ can span all the way out the door and down the block.

Evan and I shared a crawfish etouffee omelet, a biscuit and a side of Mother’s famous ham. That omelet was one of the best things we ate on the trip. The etouffee was rich and went perfectly with the eggs.

By the time we finished eating, a steady, chilly rain was falling.

Mothers, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

Wandering through the neighborhoods to check out the architecture wasn’t an option. So we decided to ride the streetcar through the Garden District and scope out the grand homes adorned for Christmas.

Unfortunately, I walked us past the streetcar stop a few times. I hadn’t realized that not all stops are obvious—like at Saint Charles and Poydras, if there’s no streetcar coming, regular cars drive right in that lane! After we found the stop, we waited nearly a half hour for a streetcar to arrive. By the time it did, we were soaked.

Still, we tried to take in as much as we could, through the wet, foggy windows.

Garden district home, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

We rode the car to the end of the Saint Charles line, and back. At that point, we were hungry for lunch. We opted for Peche, the latest restaurant from renowned NOLA chef Donald Link. True to its name, it specialized in seafood.

It was the perfect meal for a soaked, chilled couple. Everything we ate was fabulous and fresh—Gulf oysters, gumbo, catfish and greens in chili broth, shrimp over pasta in an Asian-style bolognese.

Oysters at Peche, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com And chocolate banana cream pie! I would go back to NOLA just for a slice of that.

Afterwards, we walked back to the Green House Inn. We were tired and cold from being in the rain all day. Luckily, the inn had a (clothing-optional!) pool and hot tub in the backyard, surrounded by plants.

Green House Inn, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

Green House Inn, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

That night, we weren’t too hungry because we’d been eating all day. But we felt we couldn’t miss out on a NOLA dinner. We cabbed it to Jacques Imo’s. I loved the place, from the moment we walked in. The main dining room felt like you were at a friend’s house. Strings of Christmas lights hung from the walls and the table cloths had funky patterns. The overall vibe was warm and cozy.

I wish I could go back and re-eat everything we had that night—when I wasn’t drained and slightly stuffed. Because it was all outstanding. We started with a piece of cornbread, followed by their house salad—a bed of baby spinach with one fried oyster on top. I have to say, it was the best fried oyster I’ve ever eaten.

For our entrees, I had shrimp etouffee—which was completely different from the etouffee we had that morning. It was lighter in a tomato-based sauce. Evan had stuffed catfish. Somehow, we finished everything.

Jacques Imo's, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

The next day, we left the city to go swamp kayaking. The rain had stopped, though it was still cloudy and chilly. We booked a trip through New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours, and drove 40 minutes to Pearl River.

Driving to Pearl River | nycexpeditionist.com We met our kayaking group at a rest stop off the highway. Talk about swamp country! The rest stop looked exactly how you’d imagine one in the Louisiana boonies. Our group leader, who had grown up right on that swamp, helped load us into kayaks. Evan and I shared one, he in the back, me in the front.

Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Since it was December, the swamp was mostly bare and grey. It had a quiet beauty, though.

Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

We paddled among cypresses and tupelos.

Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

Occasionally, we came across abandoned boats and river shacks.

Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Swamp kayaking, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Unfortunately, we didn’t see any alligators.

Except in sausage form.

After kayaking back to the rest stop, our guide told us that the gas station there actually serves great alligator sausages. We had to try one—and she was right! It was delicious.

Later that evening,В we went to Bacchanal, a place two of my co-workers had visited on separate trips and raved about. It’s located on a corner in the Bywater, an area I find romantic and mysterious. I was hoping to walk around and check out the architecture, but that didn’t happen this trip. Still, I was glad we spent the evening there. Because Bacchanal is truly a special place. It’s a wine and cheese shop in the front, where you can sample wines and buy a glass. You can also pick out cheeses that they’ll plate for you. You then enjoy both, plus other food from their kitchen, and live music, in the backyard. Cheese plate at Bacchanal, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com On the night we were there, a band was playing NOLA-style Christmas music. (And you know how much I love Christmas.) A drummer, tuba player and violinist played jazzy, melancholy takes on the classics.

Bacchanal, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com Evan and I lingered for a while, just enjoying the sounds, food and overall atmosphere. I’d been wanting to experience a bit of Christmas in New Orleans, and I found it at Bacchanal.

We left when the band was winding down, but headed right to Cafe Du Monde. We couldn’t leave NOLA without another round of beignets.В 

Cafe Du Monde, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com

Cafe Du Monde, NOLA | nycexpeditionist.com