travel

Ready for Some Relaxation (In a Few Days…)

heather and mal

I’m feeling a bit fried, so I’m looking forward to my upcoming weekend at the beach. The other day, I realized that’s probably one of the biggest reasons I love traveling, even if it’s just quick weekend trips: I can’t really unplug and relax unless I’m out of NYC.

I don’t think it’s bad to be wired that way. I actually love having my days full from the moment I wake up until my head hits the pillow at night. In the hours between, I’m generally doing things that make me happy and fulfilled: ballet; running; going to dinner, drinks or brunch with friends or family; writing this blog ;); editing photos from trips–even working, both at my full-time job and on freelance projects. (Hey, gotta make a living somehow!) But those activities (minus work) are also how I relax, even though they’re pretty active. I can’t just zone out in front of the TV. I feel like if I have free time, I should be doing one of the above activities–or mundane to-dos like grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry (the bane of my existence).

But sometimes (like now, after a hectic few weeks that included finishing some projects), I feel the need to really unwind and recharge. I’ve found that the best way to do so is by getting a change of scenery. Just being out of NYC is refreshing. When I’m on lying the beach or hiking or exploring a new city, it’s easy to shed the constraints of daily life. I’m not thinking about getting from place to place on time or adding items to my to-do list. And–probably most importantly–I’m less apt to check my phone every few minutes (when I have service, in the first place). I’m free to enjoy exactly what I’m doing, even if it’s just sitting on the sand and watching the waves.

…and after a few days of that, I’m reenergized and ready to get back to NYC.

What’s your surefire way to relax? Do you need to get out of town, too?

Maryland Bucket List

Ocean City Boardwalk

While I’m on the subject of bucket lists: This weekend, Mal and I were also talking about what we still want to do in Maryland before she and Peter move back to New York. Coming up with an NYC bucket list was hard. But I had an easier time conceiving a short list of things I wanted to do during my last few visits to the eastern shore:

  • Eat a slice of Smith Island cake, Maryland’s official dessert. How could you NOT want to attack a cake with 8 to 15 thin layers?! (I’d actually like to check out Smith Island, too, a tiny speck in the Chesapeake, but I’m not sure we’ll have time. That would have to be a trip in and of itself. And until we do that, I’ll settle for sampling its eponymous cake.)
  • Walk the length of the Ocean City boardwalk. We always go to the quieter beaches north of Ocean City, so I’ve only been there once–and didn’t see much of it. When I read an article a friend had recently written, I was surprised to learn that the OC boardwalk has a historic carousel. I had no idea!
  • Get drinks at Seacrets again.В Maybe one day I’ll grow up and not want to go to ridiculous spring break-esque bars. But until that day comes, I’m happy to sit and drink beer while bobbing in the water on giant, multi-person inflatable floats.
  • Pig out on all-you-can-eat blue crabs and hush puppies at Blue Crab, our favorite joint, every weekend I’m in MD.В Seriously.
  • See the wild ponies at Assateague…if there aren’t too many mosquitoes this time of year!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Travel Prints

The other day, I was going down the Etsy rabbit hole and came across these travel-themed prints from 3 Lambs Illustrations. I love the sentiment of the quotes–I’m definitely of this mindset, these days.

And, of course, I loved this one. (Non-New Yorkers, no worries–there are similar prints for London, Paris and Boston.)

Check out even more prints at 3 Lambs Graphics’ Etsy shop.

Off to the Beach!

fenwick island

I’m headed to Maryland tomorrow for another weekend at myВ summer share sister’s place. (Have to take advantage of her final weeks by the shore!) Our friend, V, is making the trip, too, and we’re thrilled that she’ll be beach bumming and crab eating with us. I’m also happy that the forecast is hot and cloudless–this week was so cold and rainy in NYC. At this point in the year, I fully expect to be wearing light dresses and sipping fruity cocktails, not schlepping around in a raincoat!

Here’s to a sunny and relaxing weekend! And to top it off, a few wanderlust links:

Gorgeous photos of Hawaii’s waves

Yum! Sandwiches from each state

What songs remind you of your travels? (One of mine is Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”–in Spanish)

Pizza at Manco & Manco (formerly Mack & Manco) on the Jersey Shore–brings back memories of my childhood!

How are you spending this weekend?

Boatel

I have a bad track record with boats. I actually love being on the water and usually find myself on a boat at least once a vacation. But (you guessed it) I’m also prone to seasickness. I’ve had an episode (or near episode) in almost every country I’ve visited. And it’s not just limited to sailing. I even got seasick while snorkeling in Nicaragua–which I didn’t think was possible!

Despite that, I’m still tempted to visit the Boatel. Now in its second summer, the Boatel is a floating art and sound installation in Far Rockaway. A group of artists souped up 16 boats, each with a playful theme:

a boat that sings, a patchwork treehouse, a Victorian-era naturalist’s laboratory, a hillbilly kama sutra honeymoon suite.

And, true to its name, you can spend a night in the vessel of your choice–rates start at just $55. (Not bad for an NYC hotel, isolated as it is!) You just bring your swimsuit, food and booze and spend an evening swimming, grilling and watching planes take off and land at JFK before hunkering down for a cozy night in your boat.

That sounds like a perfect summer evening, to me. For the experience alone, I think I might be able to deal with the seasickness!

Would you stay at the Boatel?

(Photos via the Boatel)

End-of-Summer Trip, Booked: Guatemala

I’m so excited. This weekend, I booked my end-of-summer trip: I’m going to study Spanish in Guatemala! I’ll spend one week in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second-largest city, living with a family and taking classes at Proyecto LingГјГ­stico Quetzalteco de EspaГ±ol. Then, I’ll be up in the mountains for another week, at their second campus, the aptly named La Escuela de la Montana, on what used to be a coffee plantation. (I would love to spend a month or longer there, but I do have a full-time job–I was lucky enough to get two consecutive weeks off!)

I’ve wanted to take a Spanish immersion trip for years. In fact, one of Mal’s friends recommended to me the school I’ll be attending…two years ago. I’ve studied Spanish a little on my own and with a tutor (i.e., my friend Glenn), and taken a few lessons on trips to Central and South America. But my proficiency–or lack of–is still abysmal. I can only semi-understand people if they speak extremely slowly. And then I can barely respond–and when I do, it’s in the present or future tenses. I actually think it’s pretty sad that I’m almost 30 years old and can only hold a conversation in one language.

Two summers ago, Mal went on a month-long trip to Bolivia to work in children’s hospitals and learn medical Spanish. Her proficiency was way better when she returned. I’m not expecting to become proficient or even conversant after my two weeks in Guatemala. But I would like to come back with a better grasp on the language–and then continue to build upon that at home and on future vacations.

This will also be my first solo trip in years–my last one was Hong Kong, six years ago. Due to Mal changing jobs and moving back to NYC, she’s unable to take vacation time off. (We’re postponing Slovenia and Croatia, our original end-of-summer trip, for next year.) And most of my other friends had booked their vacations ages ago. (Confession: I did consider crashing a friend’s three-week trip to Ecuador.) I was initially a tad nervous about traveling on my own again, but mostly I’m just very excited. Over the past few months, I’ve been shaking things up. I’ve started working on several personal projects and supplementing my already-enjoyable daily routine of ballet and hobbying with activities that I’m rediscovering–like running that 10K and just running, in general, andВ taking myself out to dinner afterwardsВ (thereby eating up all the calories I worked off). Embarking a solo trip seems like the next logical step.

I am sad that Mal won’t be coming with me, though–and I’m trying not to feel too bad about that. A few years ago, we decided to visit all of Central America together. So far, we’ve taken week-long trips to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It’s going to be strange going to Guatemala alone, but I likely won’t have enough time to do much traveling. So I’m hoping we can return together and really explore the country.

…and by that time, hopefully I won’t have to rely on her to do all the talking for us!

Have you taken an immersion trip? Or traveled in Guatemala? I’d love to hear your experiences!

(Image via Wikipedia)

Wanderlust Links

No traveling for me, this weekend. I’ll be here in NYC celebrating a best friend’s birthday (happy 3-0, Duh!) and hanging with Mal and Peter who are coming up to house hunt.

I’ll also be spending some time on a few travel projects. Some are work-related, but I’m most excited about a trip I’m planning for the end of summer. I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust and I’m hoping my plan will come into fruition. But until then, I’ll tide myself over with these inspiring travel links from around the web:

A Dutch city with no roads, just canals

whitehaven beachAmazing places for a swim (I’ve been to the one above!)

Quirky, arty hotels

Communal biking–and beer drinking!

The lowest point in North America

Paradise lost atВ Lake AtitlГЎn

Dance inspired by different cities around the world

How are you spending your weekend?