beach

Summer Snapshots

How is it the last week of August?!

Hard to believe summer is already coming to an end. As always, it feels way too soon.

But what a summer it’s been! While I wouldn’t say it was relaxing and stress-free, it was definitely eventful and, overall, pretty amazing. Despite some major bumps.

Here’s a look:

I spent every possible minute outdoors, from a double header weekend Mets game in early June (they won both games!)…

CitiField | nycexpeditionist.com

CitiField | nycexpeditionist.com

…to many weekends at Mal and Peter’s.

Ping | nycexpeditionist.com

We were helping them pack up to move to a new apartment. I didn’t mind lending a hand to do that, because it meant grilling…

Grilling | nycexpeditionist.com

Grilling | nycexpeditionist.com

…and relaxing on their deck afterwards.

Hudson River | nycexpeditionist.com

And then, the beach!

Rockaway Beach | nycexpeditionist.com

Despite the two-hour ride each way to the Rockaways, I managed to go and meet up with friends every single weekend, for more than a month.

Rockaway Beach | nycexpeditionist.com

Sure, Rockaway isn’t the prettiest or cleanest of NYC-area beaches. But the people-watching is incredible, as is just escaping the city! And seriously, nothing beats Tacoway Beach and Rippers after hours of laying out.

Rockaway Taco | nycexpeditionist.com

I’m so glad I got in tons of beach time. Because a few weeks ago, this happened.

Foot in boot | nycexpeditionist.com

It started in July, during a routine ballet class. I was wearing a pair of pointe shoes that was almost dead, but I could barely get my right foot up and over the shoe. It felt like I was wearing an ill-fitting new shoe with an extra-hard shank, and not a very well broken-in pair from my favorite maker! I kept the shoes on for barre and noticed that I was having a hard time supporting myself on my right foot. I thought all that was weird, but chalked it up to dead shoes and a bad ballet day. (The lies we tell ourselves!!)

The next few classes were the same. I realized, that in addition to not being able to support myself en pointe on my right foot, I was also having trouble just pointing it. Plus, my whole ankle just felt off—weak and unable to move the way it usually did.

I stopped wearing pointe shoes and went down to two classes a week, hoping that more time off would help whatever was going on with my ankle. I increasingly believed I had Achilles tendinitis. But the weird thing was that when I wasn’t dancing, my foot and ankle felt 100% normal.

Finally, in early August, I was in yet another class, struggling to point my right foot and feeling like I could barely land my jumps. (I actually continued doing all the jump combinations in every class. Probably not the smartest move.) When I got home, I noticed that my foot and ankle were swollen.

That led me to go to urgent care the following day, and then to a podiatrist they referred me to, the next day. His diagnosis was not at all what I expected. It turns out that I have an extra bone in my ankle that I either broke or impinged from all the pointe work. That’s led the tendons around it to become inflamed from the constant rubbing against it.

The official name for this is os trigonum syndrome. Apparently, it’s fairly common among ballet dancers. By some miracle, the podiatrist I was referred to has worked with a lot of dancers and has been a primary podiatrist to several dance companies in the city. He knew almost immediately what the problem was.

So I’m in boot for several weeks!

Luckily, it didn’t get in the way of one of my biggest and most elaborate plans: An all-out party for Mal and Peter, who are expecting their first child next month! (I’m going to be an aunt!!!!!)

I decided that I wanted to throw a celebration that all their/our loved ones could attend—not just women. We booked the clubhouse at their new apartment complex and I spent several weeks planning and prepping. Thank god for my parents, who wholeheartedly went along for the ride and never once questioned if I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

I never thought of myself as craftsy, but this was the most DIY thing I’ve ever done.

My mom and I made all the props and background for a photo booth. (If you’re every interested in setting up your own, I highly recommend this tutorial and purchasing this lighting kit.)

We cooked and prepped almost all the food for the baby buffet—an array of bite-sized finger food for 40 people, spanning three tables.

On the menu: mini empanadas, mini mac and cheese cups, chicken sandwich sliders, spinach balls, guac and mango salsa chip cups, meatballs, deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, shrimp cocktail, cucumber salad, caprese salad, mini cupcakes (two types: chocolate and lemon), mini chocolate dipped macaroons, chocolate dipped strawberries. Whew! (Thank you to my mom, E, Marianna, Olga, Mal and Peter for their help and contributions!)

macaroons | nycexpeditionist.com

My one regret was not getting a photo of the full baby buffet table. That’s what happens when you’re having too much fun while mingling and trying to be a good host. (And, um, quaffing lots of white wine.)

Luckily, we got tons of great photo booth shots!

Photo booth | nyexpeditionist.com

Photo booth | nyexpeditionist.com

And I was thrilled that so many loved ones showed up to celebrate my two favorite people.

HMP | nycexpeditionist.com

Somewhere during the summer, I also found out that my landlord was selling my beloved apartment and that I needed to move. After months of searching for something affordable, I finally found the perfect place…the apartment right upstairs from me. I will hopefully be moving into a carbon copy of my existing apartment in early October.

Another miracle. Somehow, things are working out.

And I have one more exciting summer plan.

Tomorrow, I’m flying to London (boot and all) to spend a few days with Shirin. And then, we’re off to Morocco!

So much craziness, but so much good stuff. Hope your summer was every bit as wild and wonderful, as well!

A Free Library on the Beach

You know how much I love the beach.

And you know how much I love shelves that facilitate free book-sharing.

So it’s no surprise that I love this: beach-library-albena books-libraryThe Beach Library is located in front of Hotel Kaliakra in Albena, Bulgaria, a resort area on the Black Sea. It has more than 6,000 books in 15 languages. German architect Herman Kompernas designed it so visitors could easily share and enjoy books while on vacation. A nice touch: the shelves are weather-proof.

Now that’s my kind of beach. Can I go there, now?

(Image via Goodreads)

Hello, Summer!

Sunny Isles, Fla. | nycexpeditionist.com

Oh, yes. It’s here, again—my favorite weekend when the best time of year officially begins.

Hello, summer!

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, in the past several months. Life has been a bit crazy in all areas: work, ballet, personal. Though I haven’t shared details here, it’s actually been a very trying time with lots of ups and downs.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t usher in my favorite season—because I’ve so been looking forward to every bit of it: long, hot days; weekends at the beach; quick shore getaways; bbqs; summer Fridays (!!!); a likely vacation at the end of August. Plus, some very exciting ballet and family stuff going on.

Will keep you posted on all that. But in the meantime, here’s to sunny days!

(Photo of Sunny Isles, Fla. via Mallory Eng Burger)

Loredo and the Caves of Monte Castillo

On our fourth day in Spain, we left the Bilbao area and headed west to Asturias. We’d heard great things about that part of the country: that it was one of Spain’s greenest regions, with gorgeous landscapes and few people. Plus, some of the prettiest northern Spain images we’d come across on Pinterest were of Asturias. How could we not swing through there?

We were headed for the Picos de Europa, the dramatic mountain range that spans across Asturias, Cantabria and Castile-León. But to break up the drive, we decided to stop at a few places along the way.

Ever since we spent a few hours near the coast, at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, I was craving a little more beach time.

Even if it were just an hour or two.

That’s how we ended up stopping in Loredo, a small coastal town. It’s known as a surfing and resort area, though it looked like it had seen better days. Perhaps because it wasn’t high summer, but we didn’t feel vibrant energy in the town. Much of it looked like it could use a little sprucing up.

We stopped for lunch at El Pescador, a seafood restaurant near the water.

El Pescador, Loredo, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

We sat outside and ordered the local beer, which was definitely the best brew of the trip…

Raquera | nycexpeditionist.com

P and M, El Pescador | nycexpeditionist.com

…and had huge platters of grilled fish. The food was a bit pricey, but everything was fresh and well-cooked.

Afterwards, we walked to the beach.

M & P, Loredo Beach, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Since the day was overcast and cool, there was no one out sunbathing.

Loredo, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Still, we couldn’t resist kicking off our shoes and dipping our toes in the water.

Loredo, Cantabria, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Our next stop was the Monte Castillo caves, in Puente Viesgo. We’d only heard of them that morning, while looking at our guidebook, and were intrigued. They’re a UNESCO World Heritage site, discovered in 1903, where you can see ancient cave paintings. Two of the four caves are open to the public.

We arrived at the El Castillo cave late in the afternoon, in time for the final tour of the day.

Cuevas del Monte del Castillo, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

I’ll admit—I was a bit skeptical while we were waiting for it to begin. We were waiting in what could best be described as the “cave lobby”—an area with informational signs—from where we could see another group standing inside the actual cave, listening to a guide speak. Was this the whole cave tour?

El Castillo Cave, Cantabria, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

Once ours started, we soon realized that you go through a doorway that leads much deeper into the cave. Our guide, who relayed the information in both English and Spanish (though in much more detail in Spanish) walked us past intricate stalactites, and pointed out hand prints and animal paintings on the walls. (We weren’t permitted to take photos inside the cave.)

After reemerging from the cave, we departed Puente Viesgo…

Puente Viesgo, Cantabria, Spain | nycexpeditionist.com

…and headed on to the Picos.

Clark Little’s Incredible Wave Photography

It hasn’t felt quite like summer, over the past few weeks. The weather has been cool, cloudy and rainy–more like early spring or fall. I’m hoping that the last few weeks of summer will heat up, so I can cram in as much beach time as possible.

But even if it stays this way, I can beach vicariously through Clark Little‘s amazing wave photos.

Little is a surfer-turned-photog who lives and mainly shoots on Oahu’s North Shore. He captures shorebreaks by jumping right in and getting under the waves. (I think it takes a surfer to have that much fearlessness and confidence in the ocean!) His resulting shots are pretty incredible:

North Shore, Oahu | Clark Little

North Shore, Oahu | Clark Little

By Clark Little

By Clark Little

Little has a new book out, the aptly title Shorebreak. It’s one that I’d love to have around my apartment year-round—especially during the chilly winter months when I’m dreaming of the beach!

(Images by Clark Little; I first learned of Little through my friend Tania, and of his new book via NPR)

My Favorite Quiet Beaches

On Saturday, I went to Rockaway to get my beach time for the week. As much as I love being by the ocean, I’ll admit that I was feeling a little weary of crowds.

Most NYC-area beaches—Rockaway, Jones, Robert Moses, Long Beach, Coney Island—are pretty packed on the weekends. And for good reason! Everyone wants to get away, even if only for a few hours.

I do love seeing so many people escaping the city and enjoying the sand and surf. But the overall experience isn’t all that relaxing. You’re surrounded by others—and their conversations and music—at all times. While there, it’s hard to feel calm and peaceful when you can barely hear the waves over all the din.

I’ve been lucky to travel to beaches that have been both beautiful and deserted. This weekend, I was thinking about them and wishing I could transport myself back to:

Water Cay, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Last year, Mal, Peter, and two friends and I rented a house on Eleuthera. We stayed in a sparsely populated part of the island, and our house was set on a gorgeous, private beach:

Cotton Bay, Eleuthera

Each day we got to enjoy the soft sand and blue waters without seeing a soul.

Our rental also gave us access to the owner’s boat and a captain who could take us out. Of course, we had to take advantage of that! Our captain, Sidney, took us to Water Cay, a tiny island off Eleuthera’s Caribbean coast. It was absolutely deserted, with calm, clear water and fine white sand.

Water Cay, Eleuthera

It was easily one of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen in my life.

 

Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

Mal and I went to Big Corn Island in August 2009. The island, and its sister, Little Corn, are located about 40-miles off the coast of Nicaragua, in the Caribbean. They’re known for being remote and relatively undiscovered by tourists. At the time, that certainly proved true.

We flew to the island on a tiny prop plane, and as we descended, I could barely spot any signs of life. Big Corn looked deserted. And once we got out of the plane, we saw that it basically was.

To be honest, I felt a bit uneasy at just how isolated the island felt. There had been a spate of armed robberies against travelers on the islands, right before we arrived. The first night, our hotel was a ghost town—just two or three other rooms were occupied. And the phones and internet were down. The sun set at 6 p.m. and plunged the island into pitch darkness.

But during the daytime, I was able to forget my misgivings a little, thanks to this amazing beach we had to ourselves:

Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

In case you’re wondering, I felt much safer on Big Corn, as the days passed. A small documentary film crew arrived at our hotel from the mainland, as did a few more Nicaraguan travelers. Mal and I had a great time chatting with them—it was just enough people to make the hotel feel less like a horror-movie-waiting-to-happen, but not nearly enough to make the place feel crowded. And the island was just so wild and beautiful, it was impossible not to feel affection for it.

 

Long Beach Island, NJ

New Jersey?! Yes, that’s correct! We rented a house on LBI in early June, before summer season really started—which meant that every day, the beaches looked like this:

setting up on the beach

Sure, LBI doesn’t have fine white sand and crystal-clear water. But it was still a nice, deserted beach that we had all to ourselves for days. I’m so nostalgic for that!

What’s your favorite quiet beach?