I mean … G is barely even in this photo, but you get the gist — Colorado is amazing in the summer, and summer is right around the corner! I mean, it’s pretty amazing all of the time, but the summer is a great time to check out the mountains, lakes, hikes, breweries … and everything in between.
To help you out if you happen to be in the hood, here are a few of our fave hangouts when the weather gets warmer:
Happy new week, friends! I just returned from a wonderful press trip to Massanutten Resort in Virginia, which is about a 20 minute drive from where I went to college at James Madison. This trip was so much fun, not only because the resort itself is full of any and every activity you could ever want (more on that later), but also because I got to meet up with my dearest girlie bestie for it, and we were able to take a pit stop at JMU on the way to Massanutten, as well. Top on our list of places to hit for our quick college reunion were our old Mexican food fave, El Charro, as well as ice cream at Kline’s and a quick walk by the quad to visit the James Madison statue and the offices of our old college paper, The Breeze. Lisa and I could not stop talking about how our love for journalism began in those tiny Breeze offices … as well as our love for each other 😉
So two Saturdays ago was our last full day in Kyoto before heading back to the states. Chris’ parents had gone back to Tokyo the night before to catch their super early flight on Saturday morning, and we had the whole day stretched ahead of us to finish up some final things we really wanted to see and do.
Then … that all got sidetracked for a couple of hours while we spent some time on the phone with American Airlines trying to figure out what to do about the fact that Chris had left his green card back in Denver. This is such an important topic for those of you with green cards, that Chris has said he’ll write his own little post on it and share here, which means I won’t go into a ton of detail on this post, other than to say … don’t do it!
Anyway, after (sort of) sorting that out, we headed out into beautiful Kyoto for our first stop — the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. I had been dying to do this ever since I started researching Kyoto about a month before our trip, and I’m so, so glad we made it there, because the experience really is incredible. Luckily for us we happened upon a bike shop on our way from the subway to the grove, though, because without the bike rental, I think it would have been pretty difficult for my preggers legs to do all the walking we would have done that day. So — that’s just something to keep in mind for anyone who maybe isn’t so into walking miles and miles. Even if you don’t mind the walking, though, renting a bike is a great (and super fun) way to take in the grove! It does get pretty busy, though, so there were times when maneuvering a bike through the crowds was tough. Still, overall, I’d say we were super happy to have had the bikes. Plus, riding bikes or taking bike tours on our trips (or even where we live) has become something of a traditional with us. We’ve done it in New York and Denver, Munich, Iceland, Berlin, New Orleans, London and now in Japan. It’s high on our list of recommendations for things to do when traveling.
Anyway, here’s a bit of what you’ll see at the Bamboo Groves. We spent a good two or three hours here, with a trip into the beautiful garden and temple area that’s right around the grove and a quick stop for a picnic lunch (meaning pastries!) that we had brought, as well.
After the bamboo, we got back on the subway and headed back to the Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) that we had missed the day before with Chris’ parents. This place is gorgeous and serene, with its manicured rock gardens, temples, streams and foliage. There’s also a tiny hill you can walk up and get a pretty nice view of the city skyline.
It doesn’t take very long to see the whole park (if you don’t want it to, or you could spend an hour or so meandering around, it’s perfect like that), and afterwards there is a gorgeous little 1.7 mile walk called the Philosopher’s Walk nearby that I would suggest doing as well. The end of the walk will bring you pretty much right out to a bus stop that can bring you right back to the center of town.
^^^ The Silver Pavilion inside Ginkaku-ji
^^^ An artist making the most of Philosopher’s Walk
And that was pretty much our Saturday, friends. Dinner was out at a noodle restaurant, and then it was back to the hotel to attempt to pack up for our bullet train back to Tokyo to catch our flight back to the U.S. the next day.
Japan, you were everything I imagined you would be, and also so much more. Thanks for showing us such an amazing time. We hope to make it back here again to do even more!
Sunday in New Orleans was a great day, because we actually hopped on a bike tour with Buzz Nola that took us into some really gorgeous parts of the city that we hadn’t seen yet. We stopped at P.J’s for coffee first (because we saw locals drinking this, so we figured, why not?!), and then met up with our tour, which covered:
The French Quarter: Where we learned about the city’s founding in 1718, the architecture, Jackson Square and the history of the French Market.
Esplanade Ave.: A historic oak-lined boulevard where the Creole elite live.
Faubourg Treme: A centuries old neighborhood, home to artists, musicians and history makers.
Louis Armstrong Park & Congo Square: The heart of New Orleans’ jazz tradition (and where the jazz festival was being held that we stopped by the day before).
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: One of the many above ground cemeteries in New Orleans, where we learned about the tradition of interment and New Orleans’ funeral traditions.
The Lower Garden District: Where the original city of Lafayette, LA begins. Americans were the first to begin building their homes here when the they weren’t welcome in the areas where the French were already living.
The Mansions of the Garden District: Gorgeous homes abound in this area, and many architectural trends influenced the whole neighborhood.
Here’s some of what we saw …
^^ This is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which has a really interesting history that you can read on their site. We came back here later Sunday night to grab some drinks.
^^ Look at this beautiful mansion in the Garden District part of our tour. We saw Sandra Bullock’s house, the house where Eli and Peyton Manning grew up, John Goodman’s house, and a whole bunch of others.
^^ Lafayette’s Cemetery. It’s a somber experience to be taking a tour through a cemetery, but just look at these gorgeous structures. It’s really a nice way to be remembered.
^^ This sign was pretty much across the street from our hotel, and it made me laugh when I first saw it, so I figured I should take a pic 😉
^^ Sazeracs at Dominica in the Roosevelt hotel for happy hour before heading out on the town.
^^ Hurricane’s at Lafitte’s on Sunday night before catching an Uber to dinner.
^^ This. A very scary creepy statue of Jesus that projects onto a church in the French Quarter at night.
^^ Dinner Sunday night was at Baccanal Wine, which is totally off the beaten path, and totally worth it! The first part of the store is a wine and cheese shop, then you can go and sit in the backyard under the twinkle lights, listen to live jazz and order drinks and food from the little window over there to the left. It has a really laid back, low-key, homey type of feel — exactly what we were hoping for on our last night.
Monday was our last day in New Orleans, and we were lucky that we had most of the day to hang out. We went back to Cafe Du Monde for breakfast, and this time we actually sat in the cafe, which was a lot of fun.
Then we walked over to Canal St. and caught the Streetcar back to the Garden District, where we would be having lunch at Commander’s Palace.
So remember the other day when I said the Streetcars were cute, except for when you want to ride them? Well the truth is they’re pretty unreliable in terms of timing (ours showed up about 10 minutes late and took about 20 minutes longer than we thought to get us to our destination). If you aren’t strapped for time, though, it’s a pretty fun (and cheap) way to ride around the city at least once.
^^ Us, totally badass after a delicious lunch at Commander’s Palace. My mushroom risotto was some of the best I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
And that, my friends, was that! New Orleans in four days in a nutshell! It was fun and funky and splendid and wonderful — and I’d highly recommend it for history buffs, music lovers, those who enjoy fine food and/or drink, and party revelers alike.
Bis bald, friends! I’ll leave you with this – one last video of the amazing orchestra due we fell in love with and who we lucky got to see twice before we left. P.S. I do realize this is the same song as I posted before, just a longer version. I thought we taped them both nights, but unfortunately we didn’t. Oh well — it’s still a damn good show.
Denver. Ah, Denver. Our third and final stop on our short little tour of Colorado.
You see, we’ve heard lots of amazing things about this city. We have a handful of friends and family members who live here, and they just seem to love, love, love, love, love it.
Like … really, they love it a lot.
So we had high expectations, to say the least.
We started our tour of Denver with a quick drive around the city to familiarize ourselves with it. We drove through Cheeseman Park (so cute!), and stopped off in the Capitol Hill area to take in a few of the more touristy aspects …
^^ Cheesy tourist photos — they’re kind of a must … am I right?!
After hanging around on our own for a while, we met up Thursday evening with my brother-in-law’s sister and her fiancee. (Did ya catch that?) Anyway, Rachel and Steve have lived in Denver for a bunch of years now, and they are two of those people I mentioned before who just love, love love it there 😉
They took us to the Vine Street Pub & Brewery for dinner, which was super chill and relaxed. We went outside with beers from the bar and watched people playing Cornhole while we waited for our table … it was that relaxed.
And that was about it for Thursday, since we didn’t get into Denver until around 1 anyway. Friday, however, we had quite the touristy day. We woke up early so that we could head out to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which was simply stunning.
^^ We were shocked at how much exercising went on here!
Seriously, people everywhere running up and down the stairs,
jumping the rocks, running every single row … fascinating!
I guess if you have to work out, you can’t have a
better backdrop then at Red Rocks, right?
Red Rocks was about an hour outside of Denver, and we spent a couple hours there just taking it all in. So by the time we made it back into the city, we were starving!
Thank God for Mexican food when you’re starving … am I right?! And Rio Grande in the LoDo section did not disappoint.
We sat outside under umbrellas in the 70-degree weather (hello, summer!), eating our burritos and drinking our margaritas. [A word to the wise: Watch it on the margaritas here. A single drink contains 3.5 shots of tequila! That’s why they have a three drink maximum on the margs, particularly. We should know, we asked ;)]
After lunch I headed across the street to buy an outrageously expensive tee from Patagonia (I was desperate! I hadn’t read the weather beforehand and was wearing two long-sleeved shirts … and I was sweltering!), and then we caught the free 16th Street MallRide shuttle over to Commons Park, where we hopped on bikes from the Denver Bike Share program and rode over the South Platte River to the section of Denver known as The Highlands.
And oh my goodness did we love it here, my friends! And it wasn’t just because of Little Man Ice Cream (although that did help a lot ….)
This whole area had a very relaxed, young, happening atmosphere. It was very cool, to say the least.
So after scarfing down some ice cream (don’t ask me how I did that after eating a ton of Mexican for lunch … I have a superhuman stomach, this is for certain), we hopped back on our bikes and rode as fast as possible back to the LoDo section to meet up with Chris’s old boss for drinks at Freshcraft before heading off to the Washington Park section of Denver to meet up with our cousin and her husband and baby.
Sheesh we really crammed a lot into one full day, didn’t we!?
Anyway, Courtney and Charlie’s place was adorable, and they were so lovely to get a babysitter for the evening so that they could come back out with us for dinner at the Ale House and a couple of brewskies afterwards at Denver Beer Co. (Which, by the way, might have been my favorite brewery of all the ones we visited. It was late when we arrived — in fact we stayed until closing at midnight — but the big garage doors that make up the front of the place were thrown open from the warmer weather earlier in the day, and everyone was hanging out on picnic tables with their dogs. Very fun.)
And that, as they say, was that, my friends. It was a lot to do in one day, but I’m really glad that we got to fit in as much as we did on Friday. I wasn’t convinced that we had seen everything Denver had to offer on Thursday (I mean that’s a stupid thing to even write, because of course we didn’t. It’s impossible to see everything any city has to offer in one day), but Friday gave me a better look at the Denver that I had heard so much about.
And that I really, truly, look forward to going back to.
I’m baaackkkk! So Day 2 of our Icelandic Adventure really was quite the day my friends. It was the day that Chris and I got to take part in something that a very limited number of people will ever get to see. Like, ever.
I’ll give you a hint.
^^ Oh my!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We started the morning and early afternoon off by renting bikes from this very Harley-looking dude on a very dilapidated street with lots of graffiti that was only a few blocks from our hotel and only one street over from one of the main downtown streets.
And it may have been freezing that day (and in some parts treacherously icy!), my friends, but the views were still absolutely glorious. We rode around the entire rim of the city from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., just taking it all in …
^^ One of the natural thermal beaches that you’ll find all around Iceland. Pretty amazing.
After our ride we were both eager for some coffee to warm us up, and I really wanted a tasty treat. (You know me!) So we stopped by C is for Cookie Cafe in the downtown area for some coffee and the most delicious (and expensive at $8 for one slice!) warm apple pie and whipped cream.
Here is where I need to make note of something that totally and 100% intrigued me. When you are in a new place, one of the most amazing things is to note the cultural differences. What’s considered totally normal and average in one place could be considered inconsiderate or rude in another. So when we first approached the cafe, I noticed that about three or four strollers were parked outside next to the big windows surrounding the place. So they don’t bring strollers inside places, I thought. Interesting.
It didn’t end there, though. As it turns out, it seemed to me that, at least in this one particular instance that I saw, babies who were asleep when their parents arrived were left outside. In the carriages. All bundled up and sleeping soundly away. One mother inside had a baby monitor at the table with her, but I didn’t really think twice about it … until I later realized that the reason was because her baby was asleep outside in her stroller!
My first thought was about the cold, but in the days since I’ve seen this and have mentioned it to people, the first thought that springs to most people’s minds is the fact that crime must not be a big issue here. That’s promising, I guess? As blown away by this realization as I was when I first understood it, it’s as I said — what’s considered commonplace in one country can be completely baffling in another.
So much to learn about this world.
Anyway, moving on. After the coffee we decided to kick it up a notch to beer. Chris used his Happy Hour app and discovered a happy hour happening at Mar, a fancy little restaurant near the water with maps on the wall showing you all the different countries from which they draw inspiration for their cuisine.
We didn’t do cuisine though — we just did drinks 😉 And we chatted up the bartender to no end about the ins and outs of going out on a weekend with the Icelanders. She suggested good bars for us to visit (one of which was prikid, which I have so much to say about!), and confirmed to me that yes, things do indeed tend to get a bit crazy on weekends in Iceland and yes, drunken shenanigans most definitely would ensue.
At least I was prepared.
After Mar we headed towards the water to climb up a hut made out of hay which is used to dry fish and take pictures of the water.
Weird sentence — but that’s exactly what we did.
^^ Silly husband. I think those aren’t for riding.
^^ See. A hut of straw that you climb up.
^^ See. Dried fish guts inside the hut.
^^ Top of the hut.
Walking home from our hut adventure we stopped by The Kebab House for dinner (see review here), which was decent but not all that memorable. Chris got the fish and chips (said he’s had better) and I got a veggie pita, which was pretty okay. Wouldn’t be the first on my list of dining recommendations for Iceland, let’s just say. Although there was a group of rowdy men drinking beer at the table behind us for a while when we first arrived, and at one point they broke out into Icelandic song. So that part I really enjoyed!
So that night, friends. That night. It was the night of all nights. It was the night of our Northern Lights Tour, as well as the night we went out into the town.
There’s so much to say about both of these amazing things, and I’ve already written so much for today — I’m making an executive editorial decision to cut our Day 2 in half. Yup. Just decided.
Tune in tomorrow, my friends, for an update on our Northern Lights Tour and our adventure with the crazy Icelandic party animals!
I guess in that case the first photo I shared with you was a tease. Oh well, what can you do! Bis bald!
P.S. I’m noticing in my dashboard that I’m getting some readers from Iceland on both this and yesterday’s posts — Hi Iceland! So happy to have you!
Well it’s that time of year again — the one where everyone takes a couple minutes to take stock of how the past 12 months have gone? This year has been a particularly important one for myself and Chris. It was our first year of married life. It was a year spent celebrating our marriage around the world with family and friends. It was a year that we made some pretty big decisions about our future (not yet shared here!), and one that had a lot of amazing traveling in it …
So I may have mentioned this before (meaning I definitely have), but summer isn’t exactly my favorite month. The heat. The humidity. The inability to do anything at all with my hair. Blech. It’s just all too much.
So this year, I set a goal to attempt to have as much fun with summer as possible, and I think we’ve done a pretty great job at that. Here’s a little of what we’ve done:
We’ve made it our mission to try out new bars and restaurants that have been on the ‘must hit up list’ for a long time now, and we’re doing a pretty good job of it. (Like here, and here.)
All in all, I think I’d have to say that it’s been a busy, fun summer. I cannot complain. With the weather slowly changing into Fall (hurrah!), Chris and I decided to do one more summer-ey thing before we hit the new season head on. So we woke up early, caught the express train down to Bowling Green and hopped on the (free) ferry over to Governors Island.
Governors Island is, in my opinion, a hidden treasure. I’ve only been over there twice now, but it’s so much fun, relatively easy to get to, and has such a laid-back, welcoming vibe, I always wonder why we don’t go more. My purpose for heading there today was to check out the Fete Paradiso, a traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s over on Sept. 29.
While there we ended up renting bikes and riding all over the island (if there is a possibility to rent bikes somewhere, my husband will find it), stopping for some seafood and beer at Little Eva’s Beer Garden, and then grabbing a Mr. Softee (my first this summer!), before taking the ferry back into the city.
Here’s a bit of what we saw:
And that’s it my friends — our trip to Governors Island in a nutshell. Next weekend we’re off on Chris’ Super Secret Birthday Trip. Can’t wait to share those details here! Then in three weeks we’ll be heading over to Australia for our wedding celebration with Chris’ family and for our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef.
Chris and I had booked a couple of bicycles through Travelzoo back around Memorial Day weekend, and only just this weekend got the chance to use them. So we picked up some coffees, took the 2.5-mile walk through the park to Broadway Bicycle and cashed in our vouchers.
The park was bumpin’ on Saturday! Despite the heat and humidity, people were out in spades. They were running, walking, biking, roller blading, playing instruments and singing. Here’s a bit of what we saw:
^^ Who knew there was a 6 1/2 Ave?!
^^ I seriously forgot how many hills there are in Central Park. I had to take a break about 3/4 of the way through.
After our 13-mile ride (for Chris…mine was about 12 miles since I cut off the hills at the end), we headed over to Luke’s Bar & Grill on 3rd Ave. to load up on their super scrumptious Maine Lobster rolls.
Bis bald, friends! Hope your Saturday was as lovely as ours was!
As the holiday weekend fast approaches (which I will gladly take after having JURY DUTY this upcoming week!), I’m getting excited for the plans Chris and I are making. On Friday night we’ll be heading to the Mets game (complete with a fireworks show!) with friends.
Oh. My. Goodness. What a whirlwind! So Chris and I just said farewell to his parents who, luckily, we’ll be seeing again for our wedding celebration in Australia in just five months. This apartment always feels so sad and lonely when they leave.
While they were here we took a trip to London, Chris ran the marathon and we headed upstate for a little Magnanini Winery wedding celebration with my mom’s side of the family.
It was a fast and furious two weeks, to say the least!
And that’s why I’m a tad late on my London posting. Of course it’s nowhere near faded from memory yet, but I do like to get my thoughts down on the blog as soon as possible, so I don’t leave any details out.
So about that, it was late last Thursday when we left for our little journey ….
Well, here we are friends. We’ve arrived, at last, at our fourth and final destination of our little European adventure from a few weeks ago–Rome.
Now, you know my love of Rome. The ancient architecture. The amazing artists. The un-replicatable (is that a word?) food. It’s all just amazing. But you know something that’s kind of even more amazing than all that? Sharing a place that you really love with someone you love.
Awwwww–aren’t I so sweet? No but really, guys–I was beyond excited to visit Rome with Chris and to see if he would fall as in love with it as I did.
So part deux of our European adventure story starts off in Munich, where we stayed at the Citadines, which are more small apartments than hotel rooms (meaning we had a little kitchen and a living room, but no one to clean the place up when we left for the day.)
The location was perfect for Oktoberfest–it was just a short walk to the grounds where the tents are. It’s not the best location if you’re in Munich mostly for the city center, though, like to visit Marienplatz or stroll through town. (For that type of trip, I’d highly recommend the hotels I stayed in during this trip to Munich a few years ago.)
Lucky for us, we were there for Oktoberfest, and our adventure began that Sunday night …