Tag Archives: travel

On Island Time in Aruba

This past winter in New York just didn’t want to quit. As an East Coast native, you’d think I’d be used to our harsh and unpredictable winters by now, but this one just kept zagging on us. One weekend we were lounging in the park, enjoying the sunshine and 70 degree temperatures; the next we were huddled inside, braving our third major snowstorm of the year. Don’t let anyone tell you that climate change isn’t real, kids.

It kind of bums me out that Spring Break ceases to be a thing once you’ve exited the academic world. We could all use a break during the long months between the holidays and the first signs of summer. I try my darndest to get out of town at some point during the winter/early spring. As much as I love the city, a little sunshine is extremely beneficial to my mental health. So when my parents planned a late winter getaway to Aruba, I decided to tag along (with their permission, of course – as an only child I’m a pro third-wheeler, but I know my boundaries).

Beach 1

Most of our time on the island, just 18 miles north of Venezuela, was spent at the beach or pool at our resort. I was very grateful for the time to just chill out and actually read a book for once. I finished John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester and Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star, two very different but equally excellent reads, while enjoying the (surprisingly strong) Caribbean sun. Knowing my parents, of course, we weren’t content to just plop for the whole week. We needed to get out and see some of the island.

Natural Pool 2

We woke up early one morning to take a Jeep ride out Arikok National Park, which makes up a good chunk of the northeast part of the island. Arikok’s terrain and shoreline stand in stark contrast to the sandy beaches of the island’s south side. It’s much more rough around the edges, featuring huge limestone formations, cliffs, and fields of aloe plants. It’s cliche, but it honestly felt like we’d traveled to a completely different island in the 30 minute ride from our resort to the park.

Natural Pool 1

The tour guides drove us out to the Natural Pool, one of Arikok’s top attractions, for a bit of snorkeling. It was kind of amazing to get to swim in this one calm little pond, while the waves of the Caribbean crashed on the rocks around us. We saw some great local fish, and I only hit my head on the rocks once! From there, we got to check out the Natural Bridge, ate some delicious pastechi, and took in the view from the comfort of our Jeep.

 

One of the last stops on the tour was the Alto Vista Chapel, a tiny Catholic chapel in the hills just outside the town of Noord. The chapel stands on the site of the original church built by Venezuelan missionaries in 1750. The original church was abandoned in 1816 after a plague hit the area, but a schoolteacher raised funds to rebuild it in 1952. Though I’m not particularly religious, I was raised Catholic and something about this church resonated with me more than others I’ve visited. Maybe it was the warmth of yellow walls, or the striking statue of the Virgin Mary at the altar, or just the serenity of its location high above the ocean. The place almost demands that you take a moment to sit down and just be still. Whether you feel like praying is totally up to you.

Church 1

Later in our trip, we took a sunset catamaran cruise around the south side of the island. I’ll be real with you, I don’t have much to say about this part of the trip other than a) I love sunsets, b) I love boats, and c) I love taking pictures of myself with sunset lighting on a boat. Also drinks were included. So that’s cool.

Boat Selfie

I had a really lovely time in Aruba and would go back in a minute. This time with more cash for the casino, of course.


I’ve been hesitant to set up any kind of audience support page (a la Patreon) for this blog. For one thing, sometimes I don’t write anything for a year (again, sorry about that). And when it comes down to it, I do this for myself. But hosting costs money and a little support is always helpful. I do work in theatre after all.

So if you like what you see here (and you have the means), consider buying me a coffee! Ko-fi is a tool that allows people to support the content they love by making small contributions (roughly equal to the amount of a cup of coffee) to creators. There is absolutely zero pressure to contribute, but if you do I will love you forever. I really believe in supporting the content you love if you have the means. So help a girl out!

5 Things I’m Looking Forward to This Summer | BEDA Day 27

Summer is nearly upon us, my friends. While I’m more of a spring gal, I still look forward to all the travel and outdoor fun summer brings. Here are five things I’m particularly looking forward to this season.

  1. Vidcon! Vidcon is always a staple of my summer. It’s become this annual pilgrimage where I’m reunited with old friends, surrounded by likeminded people, and have the opportunity to learn new things about the always #changing face of #newmedia. While the conference has grown substantially in the last few years, there’s still something great about spending 3+ days with people who share your passions. I’m incredibly excited to go back for my fourth year.

  2. A Return to LA – I’m planning on spending a few days in LA ahead of Vidcon to catch up with friends and eat a ton of In-N-Out. I have a bit of a fraught relationship with the City of Angels, but I always enjoy my visits. I know I’ll be spending at least some of my 36 hours in town listening to Kanye in my rental car and drinking iced coffee from Intelligentsia, so it’ll be just like the summer of 2013.

  3. Central Park Hangs – Central Park is a bit of a trek for me in the winter, but I’m so looking forward to spending plenty of weekend afternoons there this summer. I bought a picnic blanket last year and used it all of two times, so I’m determined to get more use out of it in the coming months. I also have a ton of reading to catch up on. Maybe I’ll actually finish The Catcher in the Rye this year (don’t judge).

  4. Shakespeare in the Park – This is the year, guys. One of these weekends, I’m going to wake up super early, bring my aforementioned picnic blanket to the park, and camp out outside the Delacorte for free tickets to one of the Public’s productions. I’m particularly excited about the all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew running in May and June. Donna Lynne Champlin is in it. What more do I need?

  5. Governor’s Ball – So I did that thing a few months ago where I bought a pass without asking any of my friends if they planned on attending. As such, I’m facing the prospect of going to (what used to be) the New York version of Coachella by myself. The lineup is way too good for me to pass up, though. Between The Killers, Haim, Chvrches, and Death Cab for Cutie, I’m pretty much in musical heaven. Now to find someone to tag along…

What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know in the comments!

An Afternoon at Chanticleer | BEDA Day 26

Chanticleer 2

I went home for about 24 hours this weekend, which has become a common occurrence over the last year or so. I was in town for my mom’s choir concert and had a lovely few hours hanging out with my folks, snuggling with my dog, and sleeping in my own bed. The weather was absolutely stunning on Sunday, so we decided to take a ride to Chanticleer, a world-renowned garden right in my hometown.

Chanticleer 3

The flowers of Chanticleer were out in full bloom and we enjoyed a nice walk around the grounds. The Chanticleer Foundation has added a bunch of improvements – including new bathrooms and walkways down the hill from the house – since I last visited, which make the garden even more visitor-friendly. With these new paths we were able to explore areas of the garden we’d never seen before, like a pond full of giant carp.

Chanticleer 4

There’s a little shed down the hill from the main house that is just darling. It must have been used as a playhouse for the original owner’s children, as it’s decorated with these amazing murals right out of a children’s book. Somehow I was able to fit through the door without any problems, which shows you just how tiny I am. I should really stop acting surprised when I get carded at bars.

Chanticleer 1

Overall, it was a lovely – albeit allergy-ridden – afternoon. I managed to get all these photos on my iPhone, as I left my DSLR at home. I did some quick edits in my favorite photo editing app, Afterlight, and I’m really happy with how they turned out. Every time I visit Chanticleer, I can’t believe it’s always been right in my backyard. I can’t wait to visit again.

Chanticleer 5

Friday Link Round-Up | BEDA Day 22

Happy Friday (and Earth Day), y’all! We’re nearing the home stretch of BEDA and boy, am I tired. This could also just be burn out from waking up early every day this week (who am I?), but I’m dragging this morning. I’m looking forward to a weekend of shows (including American Psycho), a quick jaunt back home, and some time to get my life back together. I’ll also be blasting “Purple Rain” all weekend in honor of his purpleness, Prince, who left us too soon yesterday.

In case you’re looking for some weekend reads, check out some of these gems of the interwebs:

“How Prince Taught Me About Sexuality” by Nichole Perkins – Buzzfeed

“I’m a Traveler on a Budget – Not a Budget Traveler” by Rosie Spinks – The Billfold

“How Every NYC TV Character Would Vote in the New York State Primary” – Vulture

“10 Hotel Lobbies to Work From in LA, San Francisco, NYC and Chicago” by Amber Gibson – The Points Guy

“In Its First Season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Greatest Legacy Is (Finally) Bringing the Asian Bro to Television” by Jada Yuan – Vulture

A Culinary Tour of DC and Arlington | BEDA Day 21

DC Food-4

Last weekend, I joined some of my favorite ladies in the world for a weekend of adventures in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. We were there to celebrate Leslie’s birthday and finally hang out like real adults, outside of a conference setting. It was an amazing three days filled with great talks, near-perfect weather, and lots of food. Seriously, by some happy accident most of the weekend revolved around eating and drinking.

U Street Mural 2

After checking into our AirBnB in Arlington, we made our way down to U Street to check out the scene. The U Street Corridor has been experiencing something of a renaissance in the last few decades, and is now home to lots of cool shops, bars, and clubs. While wandering the neighborhood, we found this gorgeous mural and had to do a bit of a photoshoot.

U Street Mural 1

If you find a mural in a city alley and don’t take an OOTD photo, where you really ever there?

u street mural 3

The lovely Allyson

The Saloon DC 1

At the suggestion of Amanda, we stopped into The Saloon, a no-frills bar and restaurant on the main drag. The Saloon is all about social interaction – you won’t find any TVs here and cell phones are highly discouraged. Their beer selection is top notch, though. I fell in love with a fruity wheat beer called Ruby Red that I will probably never be able to find again. I guess it’s better to have loved and lost, than to not have tasted Ruby Red at all.

The Saloon DC 1DC Metro

Remember when I said this was our first time hanging out outside of a conference? Well, we managed to find one anyway. After a breakfast of beignets at Bayou Bakery, we took the Metro down to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to check out the USA Science & Engineering Festival. While the exhibitors geared their booths more towards kids, it was cool too see all the innovation coming out of the participating organizations. Seeing so many kids, particularly girls, get excited about STEM and STEAM work was particularly heart-warming.

ragtime arlington bloody mary bar

We all managed to sleep in on Sunday and met up for brunch at Ragtime, a casual spot with Cajun flair. Ragtime is particularly well known for their Sunday brunch menu, featuring waffle and Bloody Mary bars, live music, and plenty of other goodies. As a Leslie Knope-in-training, I went straight for the waffle bar, piling on all the fruit and syrup my heart desired. Between that and several cups of coffee, I was highly content.
ragtime arlington live music ragtime arlington bar

All in all, it was a really great weekend. We may have laid pretty low, but it was so nice to have a few days to recharge and catch up with great friends that I don’t get to see that often. Sometimes just having a few beers in someone’s apartment is better than seeing everything a city has to offer. Plus, look at the sunset from our AirBnB. Why would I want to miss that?

arlington sunset

DC, thanks for a great few days. I’ll be back before you know it.

Three Cheap Things to Do in Philadelphia | BEDA Day 20

Philadelphia is kind of the middle child of the mid-Atlantic region. Quite literally. Philly is located in the middle of two of the most influential and populous cities in the country, New York City and Washington, DC. We’re sometimes overlooked when bands schedule their nationwide tours and we’ve only been featured in a handful of travel shows. Did you all forget where the Declaration of Independence was signed? Sheesh!

Philadelphia is so much more than a historic site or a stop between New York and DC. It’s a cultural hotspot with tons of museums, theaters, and music venues, and has a great energy for a young traveler to latch onto. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Philadelphia that won’t break the bank.

 

Philadelphia is home to a treasure trove of art museums and galleries. The most famous of these (thank you, Rocky) is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PMA houses a huge variety of art, from ancient works to more contemporary pieces. Admission to the museum includes access to the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Rodin’s work outside of Paris, and the Perelman Building. Three museums for the price of one isn’t a bad deal in my book. If you’re on a budget, the PMA offers Pay-What-You-Wish admission on Wednesday nights after 5 PM and every first Sunday of the month.

On the quirkier side of Philly’s art scene are the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. Created by Isaiah Zagar, the Magic Gardens are a series of outdoor mosaic murals made out of tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors and other recycled objects that cover a half block of South Street. For a small fee you can stay in the gardens for as long as you want, exploring their quirks and taking in Zagar’s art. PMG also hosts events throughout the year that showcase Philadelphia’s local talent. After you finish up at the Magic Gardens, continue down South Street and check out the funky boutiques, bars, and venues located there.

Philadelphia’s theatre scene has grown exponentially in the last few years, and the city has become a hub for world-class theatre. You can find listings of all of the shows currently running in Philadelphia on theatrephiladelphia.org. Many theatre companies offer student rush tickets or discounts for patrons in their 20s. If you’re visiting Philly in September, make sure to catch some of the shows at the FringeArts Festival. FringeArts features cutting edge performances from up-and-coming companies and is one of the best places to scope out new talent.

As you can tell, the City of Brotherly Love has a lot to offer a young traveler. It’s a necessary stop on any trip to the East Coast and a must for lovers of the visual and performing arts. For more information on Philadelphia travel, check out visitphilly.com.

Photo Credit: Michael Righi. 

Outfit: Spring is for Polka Dots | BEDA Day 18

modcloth outfit-2

Dress: Modcloth* | Belt: Modcloth (old) | Jacket: LOFT | Shoes: Aerosoles*

Folks, spring is here at last. I’ve worn dresses without tights for the last two days and I haven’t frozen to death. This is a true accomplishment. I’m really enjoying this brief moment of actually being comfortable outside. I have just a few weeks before I start sweating for 4 months, and I plan on taking full advantage of them.

These shots were taken on the balcony of the AirBnB I stayed in this weekend in Washington, DC. I love a good balcony, I love some exposed brick, and I LOVE this outfit. This dress is super fun and comfy and I plan on wearing it all the time this summer. This jacket is also a wonderful replacement for my beloved Topshop denim jacket that recently sprouted a hole in the elbow. We’re going to be inseparable until it gets too hot to warrant a jacket again.

modcloth outfit

This dress is one of my favorite new finds from Modcloth. If you haven’t shopped Modcloth’s huge array of vintage-inspired threads yet, you can now get 20% off your first order of $100. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Check out their amazing selection of spring styles here*.

How to Survive Convention Season | BEDA Day 17

Summer is an exciting time to be a nerd. We have more time to catch up on the movies, video games, and books we’ve been neglecting all year. Summer also brings something many nerds like myself look forward to all year long: Convention Season.

San Diego Comic Con, GeekyCon, Vidcon, Anime Expo, PAX Prime, Dragon*Con…a nerd can rack up some serious frequent flier miles in the short summer months. Attending lots of conventions in a short period of time is awesome, but how do you avoid feeling totally burnt out by Labor Day? As a (somewhat) seasoned con attendee I’m here to share some of my tips and tricks for avoiding TCSE – Total Con Season Exhaustion.

First off, pace yourself. Try not to attend two conventions back-to-back if you can avoid it. Give yourself at least two weeks between conventions to recover and ready yourself for the next round. At each con, don’t run from one panel to the next. Take plenty of breaks just to sit down and get away from the crowds for a few minutes. Go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee or go take a power nap in your hotel room. If you schedule your breaks well you won’t miss anything important.

On a similar note, SLEEP. Sure, you want to party in your friend’s hotel room all night, but you probably won’t have any fun at the con if you’re a zombie the next day (unless you’re cosplaying as that chick from iZombie). No amount of coffee can measure up to a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep in a bed. Your back and your brain will thank you for it.

Pack accordingly! You will probably be on your feet for most of the day at any given convention, so comfy shoes and clothes are necessary. If you’re cosplaying, keep an extra pair of shoes in your bag in case your platforms give out on you or your ankles need a break. Also, bring plenty of snacks that will hold up well in your bag. This will save you money (food on the floor can get pricey) and will keep you from trying to eat the person in front of you in line Walking Dead-style.

Know where you’re going. Read up on the host city ahead of time and find out where the nearby hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants, police stations, etc. are located. If you don’t have a car, figure out how you’re going to get to and from the convention before you even get on the plane. Program the number of a local cab company and the convention center’s security department into your phone. You never know what’s going to happen while you’re away, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

Finally, set a budget for the whole summer and for each specific convention. Between registration, hotels, flights, and all the awesome stuff sold on the floor, cons can get pretty pricey. Figure out how much money you plan on spending ahead of time and keep track of how much you spend when you’re there. This way you’ll get what you want out of the convention without having to hitchhike home.

What are some convention season tips you’ve picked up over the years? Let me know in the comments. Have a safe and fun convention season, and I’ll see you this year at Vidcon!

Friday Link Round-Up | BEDA Day 15

Hello, friends! I’m currently on my way down to Washington, DC for a weekend of adventures with some of my favorite lady friends. I haven’t been down to the capital in a few years and I’m super excited to visit during (at least the tail end of) Cherry Blossom season. It should be a fun few days and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photos and thoughts to share with you next week.

For now, here are some of my favorite things I’ve read on the interwebs this week.

“I’m With Her…I Guess” – Above the Law RedLine

“The Products That Were Actually Worth It In My ‘Parisian Glow’ Skincare Challenge” – The Financial Diet 

“Why Hamilton Matters” – BuzzFeed

“Hot or Not: How to Sell ‘Sex With Strangers'” – The New York Times

“Is Travel Just Modern-Day Imperialism?” – Backpackers Guide to the Galaxy

Five Great Places to Eat in New York’s Theatre District | BEDA Day 9

I see a lot of theatre, and as such, spend a lot of time in New York’s Theatre District. The West 40s are littered with restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to the millions of theatre-goers passing through the area each year. And I’ve been to…a lot of them.

Almost any type of cuisine you can think of is available just minutes from Times Square, and the amount of choices can be pretty overwhelming. It’s easy to just say “screw it” and end up at an overpriced chain restaurant right across the street from your theatre. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with convenience – I used to frequent happy hour at Jekyll & Hyde before it closed (RIP, old friend) – but there are some great places just a few blocks away from the main drag. The next time you’re in town for a show, check out some of these spots for a bite.

For Pre-Matinee Brunch: Pigalle 

This cute French bistro at 48th Street & 8th Avenue is popular with both tourists and the theatre community, and for good reason. Pigalle’s brunch menu features classic French dishes like croque monsieur and breakfast staples like challah french toast. I recently came here before a matinee of School of Rock and enjoyed a light, fluffy waffle and way too much coffee. I also enjoyed pretending I was in Smash for an hour, as the infamous NBC musical drama shot several scenes here. For the record, I’m Team Ivy.

For When Your Parents Are in Town: Esca

This restaurant, a joint venture from Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lydia Bastianich, and David Pasternack, has become a family favorite in recent months. Esca specializes in Southern Italian seafood, particularly of the raw variety. Their crudo, or raw fish, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. If you’re not feeling too adventurous, Esca also offers plenty of classic pasta dishes. They also have plenty of options for the gluten-free crowd. Naturally, this place is a little pricey, so it’s definitely a  good place to bring your folks for dinner if they’re feeling generous.

For a Cold Winter’s Night: Obao

I am kind of obsessed with this Thai and Vietnamese spot in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Plenty of New York eateries have trendy interiors, but can’t quite deliver on the culinary aspect. Obao’s trendy ambiance is almost as spectacular as it’s menu of noodles, barbecue, and cocktails. Their Pho Bo is guaranteed to warm you up after a day of standing in the rain trying to get Hamilton tickets. Best of all, everything is really reasonably priced. Their lunch special (appetizer and entree for $9) is one of the best deals in the city, at least in my mind.

For Post-Show Cocktails: Bea

There must be something about the corner of 43rd Street & 9th Avenue, seeing as two spots on my list are located there. Bea, unlike Esca, is a little more casual and known for their menu of creative cocktails and bar bites. It’s not quite as rowdy as some of the other bars in the area, which makes it great for post-show discussions over a “Tottenville Tea” or “Lavender Monk.” Their flatbreads are also fantastic if you’re feeling a bit peckish after four hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

For Something Sweet: Schmackary’s

Schmackary’s, home to some of the best cookies in New York, quickly became a big part of my theatre-going routine after I moved here last year. After a show, if it’s not completely freezing out, you’ll usually find me waiting in line here for a Classic Chocolate Chip cookie and a decaf tea. Schmackary’s cookies are always fresh and never overly-sweet. Their cookies come in a huge range of flavors (including gluten and nut-free options), so you’ll definitely find something to tempt your tastebuds.

Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more equipped to handle the culinary jungle that is the Theatre District and Hell’s Kitchen. New Yorkers, let me know your favorite places to eat in the area. I’m always looking for new places to check out!