Peruvian Grooving 2017

Machu Picchu may have been a tourist destination since the 80’s (or earlier) once it was noted as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it seems as though everyone and their mother has been traveling to South America recently.  Really though – my own mom and dad took the trek this past summer to this New7Wonder of the World and I have four other friends who visited in the 12 months!  Meghan and I were lucky enough to plan this trip at the beginning of the year and despite accepting a new job and moving to California, we were still able to make the trek.  Of course, when you sign up and pay for the flights/trek, it really becomes a non-negotiable, even with a new job.

We both agreed that an active vacation would do us both good as we live our work lives behind a desk.   We also agreed to minimize our time in museums as our study abroad experiences had us in and out of museums galore.  After some perusing online, we decided to sign up for the REI Inca Trail Trek, a nine day adventure covering the Sacred Valley and four days of hiking the 27 mile Inca Trail until arriving at the “Lost City of the Incas”.  Sure, it was a bit pricier than some plans online but it was absolutely worth it.  Not only that but did you know if you sign up to be a lifetime member (only $20), you get a sick discount on adventures, special offers, an annual dividend, and have access to in-store garage sales!  Ultimately the best $20 I’ve ever spent.

** This is going to be a very long post but I hope it can help future trekkers down the line, entertain current readers, and remind me in a few years what we actually did. **

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A Trip to Paris ~ Marathon Edition

First my heart goes out to Paris.  What a terrible thing to happen, especially in one of the most public places in the city.  I can only be entirely thankful that we were no longer in Paris when the shooting occurred.  Yes, Paris.  A trip that had been in the making since May ’16 when about 50+ people from November Project NYC signed up for the Paris Marathon.  This was truly a sign of our culture – say yes to practically anything combined with a fear of FOMO.  In the end only about half of those who signed up actually made the trek.

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Nashville ~ The City of Music & Murals

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Another trip in the books and what an adventure to the south it was!  I had actually visited Tennessee once before {girl’s trip to Graceland and the Peabody w/ my grandma, mom, and sister} but that was all the way across the state in  Memphis.  Nashville had been on my “to-do” list for some time and since Lindsay was dying to escape the cold for her birthday, off to “Nash-Vegas” we went for a good time.

We flew out Thursday and it was possibly the worst flight I’ve ever had.  I had a drunk passenger who wanted to have a life chat and then get touchy feely.  In retrospect I really should have said something to the flight attendant rather than suffer the two hours of firmly telling him to stop and keep to himself.  Mostly I was worried they would turn the plane around and just wanted to get to Nashville.  I know this might be more on the personal side for the blog but I want to remind women that they need to speak up, especially if they feel uncomfortable.

We finally arrived to our Airbnb around midnight and it was off to bed.  Our home base was named the Cleveland Cottage and was quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen.  As a matter of fact, when I saw it, I was inspired to look into design classes and set the seed for my own organization side project.

I think the entire recent southern charm/Pinterest/hipster movement was encompassed in that cottage.  We had a loft, a record player with plenty of country and hits from the prime record days, a range of books for display and reading pleasure, and a faux fireplace that would turn off and on with the swipe of your hand.  If you are looking for a place to stay, DEFINITELY check this place out!  Oh, it’s also a mile or so from one of the tastiest Mexican restaurants called Mas Tacos.  What more reason do you need?

We had a slow start to day 1, allowing ourselves to sleep in (jokes on me there…my body won’t sleep in), attempting an ab workout, getting ready, and transporting ourselves (via  Uber) to breakfast at Biscuit Love located in the Gulch.  Even though it was a Friday, there was already a line to get into breakfast.  As Lindsay waited in line, Annelise and I grabbed some coffee across the street from Kellebrew.  HANDS DOWN BEST VANILLA ICED LATTE! The reason?  Who knows but I have a feeling it comes from that homemade syrups.  I also snapped a photo of the delicious looking cinnamon rolls but restrained from purchasing since it’s a no-sweets zone for me right now.

Luckily for us, the line moved quickly and we soon were eyeing all of the wonderful southern soul food options.  Rumor is the bonuts (biscuit donuts) are a hot commodity but again, Annelise and I were out of sweets commission this weekend.  Guess I’ll have to go back!  Each of us ended up with some form of biscuit – fried chicken for Lindsay, gravy for Annelise and grits + eggs/bacon for me.  All in all the biscuits were alright – not the best I’ve had but certainly not the worst. Tip: The grits are where it’s at.

After breakfast Annelise headed back to the Airbnb since she had to work 😦  Lindsay and I took our time walking towards Vanderbilt and soaking in the sunshine.  I’m 99% sure Lindsay saw Hunter Hayes coming off of Music Mile but can’t confirm since I had my head in the clouds.  We also ended up in Centennial Park where the only authentic replica of the Parthenon is located.

From the grounds of Vanderbilt to the Frothy Monkey for a quick latte (seriously best turmeric latte to date) and then a walk down 12th Ave to Draper James.  If you haven’t heard of Draper James, it’s a lifestyle brand created by Reese Witherspoon and talk about Southern style and charm.  It also happened to be located near some of the murals Lindsay had on list!  Unfortunately Lindsay was in a boot so we couldn’t walk too much but I would recommend creating your own walking tour in Nashville to see all of the sights and sites!

After a short stop and rest at the Airbnb, it was time for a NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN! For those of you who know me, I don’t usually go out and when I do, it’s once in a blue moon.  But in Nashville, you suck it up and dance!  We started the night at Acme Feed + Seed where there was live country music on the first floor and a packed house.  Dinner was in order and after getting our respective BBQ platters, we headed to the roof to sit.  Guess what?  I had another stupid drunk guy encounter.  This time, one guy from a bachelor party decided to walk over and start eating our fries.  No pickup line, no flirting, no questions.  We were not impressed and those sweet potato fries were the best part of the meal! Yep, the ribs and brisket were a bit of a disappointment so my recommendation would be to go for sides.

BBQ: ACME Feed & Seed ~ Martin’s ~ Monell’s (Germantown w/ family style food)  ~ Rippy’s ~ Edley’s (bonus: it’s near Jeni’s ice cream!) ~ Hattie B’s (hot chicken and considered by a lot of critics to be the best fried chicken in the country)

We stayed around for some staged music and live music and then walked down the strip to HonkeyTonk Central.  This hot spot has three different floors with bars and bands on every floor!  If we had played a betting game (dare I say drinking game) with every bachelor and bachelorette parties that we passed, we would either be rich (or very very sick).

BARS/SOCIAL SCENE: Patterson House (speakeasy style w/ great drinks) ~ Winner’s, Loser’s ~ Rebar ~ Tootsie’s ~ Paradise Park ~ Tin Roof ~ Honkeytonk Central ~ Crazy Town ~ ACME

By the time we got around to Tootsie’s (one of the most popular and well-known) it was almost midnight and we were ready to call it a night. Not to mention the length of the line outside the popular honky-tonk had us a little deterred.  So while we didn’t actually go into Tootsie’s, the picture counts, right?  One of our uber drivers told us that some people spend upwards of 4+ hours in that joint so maybe it is worth taking another trip down south one day.

Day 2 also started off to a slow start and despite the late night, I woke up too early and so I set out for a run.  It was refreshing to get out and stretch my legs and (attempt to) work off the late night garlic rolls.  We headed out to brunch around 10:45 and soon found ourselves faced with a very long line at Pancake Pantry.  My hanger was starting to emerge and so we walked to Fido and waited for about 20 or so minutes for food. Fun fact – EVERYONE brunches.

Post brunch, we walked and shopped – I spent more than I needed to – and we took a trip down to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.  This is a definite must do when in Nashville because it provides you with a full perspective of country music from start to finish and hey, it’s Nashville, the city of music!  Also, I would hope that you actually like country music if you are in Nashville…otherwise that’s a you problem. 😉

After a couple of hours of wandering through the museum, we adventured off to another part of town to walk and shop (something new and different…mostly window shopping this time).  We picked up another cup of coffee and then called it an afternoon around 4:30.  All of us needed a nap or chill session before one last night in Nashville.  Around 6 we met up with a couple of my friends who happen to be in town!!  One is an old family friend (Mia) and another is a friend’s sister (Lauren) from home.  Turned out they became great friends while working at Vanderbilt last year and all because I was a mutual connection on Facebook!

We met up at Mas Tacos, a quasi hole in the wall restaurant that was absolutely DELISH!  One can never go wrong with Mexican food – that is for darn sure.  I ordered elote (Mexian street corn), horchata, plantains, and a pulled pork taco.  Other solid recs include the chicken tortilla soup and chicken carne tacos.  Heads up – it’s cash only but have no fear, there is an ATM!

After partying ways with Mia and Lauren, we watched UNC beat Duke at a local sports bar and then headed home to pack.  It was in bed by 10 making it a successful night and a fabulous trip!

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“Country music is the people’s music. It just speaks about real life and about truth and it tells things how they really are.” – Faith Hill

Year 3 In New York City

Another post that’s better late than never.  The past year was spent traveling, running, and exploring all of New York – sounds a lot like year #1 and #2, right?  To be honest, there wasn’t too much change.  I continued to work for an awesome company, expanded my friendships within November Project, and squeezed as much out of my free time as possible.  As I mentioned on the 31st, I learned a little bit more about myself, appreciated my body thanks to the I Run This Body movement, and learned when to let go.  This last bit was tough in the sense of FOMO and friendships, but I realized (through many discussions and Elite Daily articles) that we can’t do it all and there comes a time in our lives that makes us realize what and who is important.

But here’s a look at what made my third year in New York City so wonderful and memorable.

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Travel Check : Portland, Maine

Almost three months have passed since my trip to Portland, Maine and while I still can picture the delicious food we ate (yep and yep) and beautiful views we had (Instagram again for the win), most of the details are slowly slipping away.  To be honest, I think I’m drafting this simply so I can it to my travel list.

My friend Lauren is much better at the details and will probably have a must-see and do post published in no time, even though it took us 3 months to do so. (I’m pretty sure I had drafted an email to myself with all the bucket list restaurants and then the draft disappeared…maybe it was meant to be)

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Last October, a few friends and I decided to take a trip up to Portland, Maine to explore the outdoors and eat our hearts out.  Lindsay and I are on a “need-to-do” east coast bucket list and Portland just so happened to be one of our destinations!  Sadly we didn’t make it to Acadia National Park, so I guess that’ll have to be another trip down the road.  For now, enjoy the Top Things to Eat & See in Portland, Maine!

Explorations

  • Back Cove Running Loop (sunrise photo above): A 3.6mi loop perfect for a morning stroll or jog.  Since this trip was a week before the New York Marathon, I had about 8-10 miles scheduled and wanted to build up an appetite before our day of eats.  Lauren and I rambled around Portland, around this quasi-inlet, and back through a small farmer’s market.  Our friend Abby located a local spin studio to sweat it out, which was also an excellent find.
    • As mentioned above, we didn’t get a chance to explore the Acadia National Park and subsequently missed out on all the excellent hiking Maine has to offer.  Of course, we did walk our fair share along the streets and local shops, so we’ll call this trip a Portland-dense adventure.

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  • HOLY DONUT – A VERY popular donut shop that is centered around the Maine Potato.  Open daily 8 am and features top-notch fried confections, making millions per year! {Maine Potato, Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato, Vegan, etc}

As you can see, we went for the full sampling selection and yes, using the bottom right picture for scale, the donut is THAT BIG.

  • Silly’s – Eclectic hole-in-the-wall place that is very vegetarian-friendly and excellent for brunch carbo-loading.  The prices are prime and the portions are even better!  Highly recommend the Berry Me In It + Eganator for a sweet and salty combination.
  • The Standard Baking Co – Breads and goods make from scratch.  There should be no other way.
  • Blake Orchard Juicery – When you are in the need of a detox from brews and baked goods.

I highly recommend taking a picnic or picking up a top-notch lobster roll {Bite Into Maine}, walking/running along the water, or just sitting and staring out into the distance.  Maybe live a little and do all of the above.

  • Where there’s a brewery (or two…or three…or four), there’s a way.  We visited three different breweries for tours and tastings and had a blast!  I’m not usually the one to booze throughout the day let alone the weekend but it was fun to uber around and sample some local (and not to mention popular) hops.

Last but not least, the Maine feature – lobster rolls or as Lauren likes to say LOBSTAH.  Here at Eventide you can find one of the top lobster rolls in town (and on Eater’s 38 Essential American Restaurants).  This place is usually packed, especially on the weekends so expect to wait.  Always smart if you decide to go at 3pm like we did or are willing to stick around or even go for a walk.  They take down your cell # and give you a text when a spot is about to open up.

Do note that these rolls are different from Long Island lobster because they are served chilled and chunky.  I personally would stick to something out of NYC but that’s just my city snobbery.

With that, another travel recap in the books.  Anything you think we missed in Maine?

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

Happy Centennial to the National Parks Service!

Hip hip hooray because it’s the National Parks Service BIRTHDAY!  Whether you realize it or not, national parks come in all shapes and sizes and today is the day that this grand organization turns a whooping 100 years old.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to spend time in the great outdoors from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite and even Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach, all of which I greatly miss while living back east.

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