weekend trips

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?

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?

Off to the O.C.!*

Ocean City

*Ocean City, that is. I’m en route to my summer shareВ Mal and Peter’s and looking forward to a long weekend at the beach! The weather forecast isВ finallyВ warm and sunny, so I’m hoping to spend all three days lounging on the sand and listening to the surf. I’m feeling a bit beach-deprived (especially since the weather in NYC has been so gloomy, lately), so I’m really looking forward to this!

How are you spending the holiday weekend?

A Running Weekend in Saint Michaels, Maryland

Last weekend, the fam and I met Mal and Peter in Saint Michaels, Maryland, to participate in the town’s first annual running festival,В featuring a half-marathon, 10K and 5K. We had a great time! Not only did we have perfect weather, but our races went well, too.

The 10K–my race–was first. The course wound through Saint Michael’s cute downtown, opened onto a road flanked by fields, then looped back through residential side streets and a small park. My favorite part was running through a little covered bridge close to the finish line.В Coming from the city, I thought the scenery was gorgeous. (Mal and Peter–now accustomed to seeing farmland everyday–later said they found the course a little monotonous.)

It had been six years since I ran a road race. Before, I never thought about strategy–I just went off and hoped to sustain an even pace. I always felt like I was going to die toward the end, though. This time, I aimed for a negative split. I ran my first mile at a steady jog. As a competitive person, I’ll admit that it was tough to see tons of people blow by me. But I just reminded myself that I’d be passing them later–and that turned out to be true. I stepped up my pace in the second mile and really increased my speed in the final miles. I was especially glad I took it slow in the beginning because the course, while “flat and fast,” was also hot–there was almost no shade and the temperature was in the 70s by the end of the race.

I felt great when I finished–so good, in fact, that I wondered whether I should have pushed myself more.

My time was 57:28, which equals about 9:16 a mile. That’s well behind my best 10K time of 53:31, but I was still happy with my results–not bad, considering I only restarted running 2 months ago! And now that I have a new base time, my goal is to keep running to chip away at it and try to beat my personal record.

Mal and Peter’s race–the half-marathon–started around the time I finished. So we hung around the finish line to watch the runners come in. I’m always wowed at how fast other people are. The top finisher clocked in at 1 hour, 12 minutes–not much longer than it took me to run less than half the distance.

Mal and Peter came in a little after the 2 hour mark. (They ran together the whole time–so cute!)

We rented a cottage for the weekend, which turned out to be way better than staying at a hotel. I felt more relaxed staying in an actual house and being able to make our own dinner and breakfast before the race. Plus, the aptly named River House, which I found via VRBO, was charming and in a gorgeous location. It had an expansive green yard complete with Adirondack chairs…

…sunny sitting areas…

…airy bedrooms…

…amazing views…

…and, best of all, a long wooden dock perfect for sunbathing and sipping drinks–which I promptly did the minute we got back.

The town of Saint Michaels is equally as charming. Boutiques, restaurants, mom and pop shops, a winery and brewery line the quaint main street. We had a great post-race meal atВ Ava’s,В a local pizzeria and wine bar. Their pies were fantastic–light and crispy with fresh toppings. (I hate to admit it, but they topped the pies I’d eaten a few days earlier atВ Forcella, a newish downtown NYC pizza place.) The previous day, we also had tasty sandwiches at the Big PickleВ and great cookies and doughnuts from Sweetie Bakery.

For our celebratory post-race dinner, we headed to the Crab Claw. To get there, we walked through part of the harbor, passing stately waterfront B&Bs along the way.

The Crab Claw is right over the water and has the perfect ambience for a summer meal. The tables are close to the edge of the pier and there are no ropes or guardrails. We joked about falling in–and then a little kid did, while we were eating! His mother and another patron fished him out. According to our waitress, it happens all the time–and the staffers usually have to jump in and rescue them!

Our waitress told us that due to the weather, the blue crabs they had that weekend weren’t the best. So we opted for snow crab. I was initially disappointed–until the snow crabs came out. They were fantastic and cooked perfectly–a great way to close a super-fun weekend.

Have you taken any running trips/vacations? I’d love to hear where–I’m already looking forward to planning another!

So Thrilled

salar de uyuni

I am beyond happy. I just found out that my two favorite people are officially moving back to New York in a few weeks!

I definitely enjoyed/reaped the benefits of Mal and Peter’s time in Maryland: having beach weekends at my “summer share,” grilling, eating lots of blue crabs. And as much as I’ll miss that, I’m elated that they’ll only be a short Metro-North ride away, as opposed to a torturous six-hour Greyhound trip.

Now that summer officially starts this weekend (summer Fridays = the beginning of the season, in my book), I’m planning to make as many weekend trips to their place as I can, before it’s time to help them pack and haul everything up north. And as for next year? I suppose we’ll have to find an actual summer share closer to NYC.

Yesterday I also found out that one of my best friends is moving to London in September. And while I’m sad about that, I’m also looking forward to meeting up with her in different European cities for weekend jaunts and vacations. New opportunities to travel are always the biggest silver linings to loved ones leaving town!

(Photo: Mal and me at the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia)

Off to Run!

St. Michaels Photos

I’m heading to Maryland this weekend, but I’m not going to my sister’s place, as usual. Instead, we’re meeting in Saint Michaels, a historic town on the Chesapeake. We rented a lake house, but won’t be chillaxin’ the whole time. Mal and Peter are running a half-marathonВ (so excited to cheer them on!). And I’m running a 10K.

I went through a 5-year running phase during my early to mid-20s. I ran a half-marathon, two 10Ks and a few shorter road races. But a couple years ago, I decided to restart ballet and couldn’t balance both activities. So I gave up running and didn’t miss it at all. Until recently. Mal and Peter’s half-marathon training motivated me to jog twice a week on non-ballet days. And I’ve been enjoying it way more than I remembered.

Some of the best runs I’ve had were during my recent weekend trips. I loved running along Chicago’s Lake Trail

В …and by the canal houses in my sister’s Maryland neighborhood…

Ocean Pines, Maryland

…and when I was in Boston, I was so happy to complete one of my all-time favorite runs: the loop from Harvard to MIT–especially the run over the Mass Ave. bridge. (That was the one nostalgic thing I managed to do that weekend–and good, too, to work off the calories I consumed!)

I’d originally planned to run a 5K this weekend. But I felt so good during those long runs that I signed up for the 10K.

The other day, I found my time for the last 10K I ran in–back in 2005. I finished in 53:31. I have no idea how I’ll do tomorrow, but I don’t think I’m going to be as fast. Overall, I feel like I’m in better shape now, but I’ve only been running for two months. The bulk of my exercise is ballet, which really is my first love. So I’m going to be proud of whatever time I get–though of course I’m hoping to come close to that old number!

Got any last-minute running advice for me? I’d love to hear your tips!

(Top photo via TripAdvisor)

A Weekend of Good Eats in Boston

Two weekends ago, Reen, Karen and I escaped to Boston for a girls’ weekend. In the years since we graduated college, we’d made separate whirlwind trips back to catch up with friends. But the last time the three of us had been there together was eight years ago–and we felt we were overdue for a return trip.

Originally, we planned to have a ridiculous nostalgia fest. We came up with a long list of places to hit up to relive our college days: Cactus ClubВ (um, it was going to be Cinco de Mayo, after all), Whiskey’s, People’s Republik, Mike’s Pastry,В Anna’s Taqueria. We even considered going to Allston bars like Common GroundВ before deciding that would be too sad and embarrassing, nostalgia weekend or not!

But once we got to Boston, we scrapped those plans. The city had changed so much in our time away. Instead of drinking like college kids and going to our old faithful places, we decided to experience Boston in a more “age-appropriate” way–especially now that we’re no longer dirt poor, like when we lived there, as Reen said. (Though in my case, I’d say I’ve barely moved up one step from “dirt poor.”)

We basically ate and drank our way through the weekend. Some highlights–and lots of food pics:

Dinner at Stella: One thing hasn’t changed about Boston: the lack of late-night dining options. By the time we checked into our hotel on Friday, it was 11 p.m., past the hour most restaurants stop serving. (Our concierge actually told us IHOP was our only option.) We wanted a relaxing, sit-down meal, so we headed to Stella, in the South End–and were so pleased with our choice. The restaurant is stylish with a chill vibe and the crowd mostly 30-somethings. Plus, Stella has a great (i.e. girly) cocktail menu and fantastic food. We loved the short rib flatbread pizza and orecchiette with sausage.

Brunch at theВ South End Buttery:В When I lived in Boston, there weren’t many brunch options. There seem to be quite a few now, and Reen made a great choice for Saturday. We had Bloody Marys and amazing eggs Benedict with shaved ham on homemade biscuits. The dish was so good that I wish I knew a place in NYC that made a variation on par with it.

Dinner and Drinks atВ Island Creek Oyster Bar:В I love the decor here. The mix of weathered wooden planks with ultra-modern lighting fixtures really makes the space feel like a fancy seafood shack transplanted into a city. The cocktails were great (I’m planning to make/drink my own version of the Bergamot Buck all summer) and the oysters and lobster roll were among the best I’ve had.

Mint julep–because it was also Derby day.

Margaritas at Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar: We met up with our Cambridge pal Doug for Cinco de Mayo drinks. Loved the margaritas–especially the Diablo and Naughty Pineapple–but not the long line we waited on to get into the place. We had a great time once we got inside, though!

SoWa Open Market:В Apparently, this farmers/design/vintage market has been around since 2003 but I didn’t recall hearing of it before. It was totally cool and reminded me of Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. We browsed the artisans’ wares and had great sandwiches and tacos from the BBQ Smith food truck before hitting the road back to NYC.

Did I miss anything? What other places should I check out on my next trip up? (Boston peeps, I’m hoping to return sometime this year!)