New York City!

It’s Monday and we’re all back to the real world! For me in particular, since this is my blog and it’s a bit of a shock having spent the past few days in New York City, aka my favorite place in the world!

After a whirlwind week of working, my friend Lauren and I hopped on the bus to visit our friends Bobby and Ruben. The bus ride was a little long, especially as the anticipation built, but we got through with a lot of chatting.

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Once we arrived late Thursday night, we had dinner at a Mexican place where lots of chips and salsa were had, as well as a grilled chicken and pepper dish that was pretty okay. It was time for bed as Lauren and I had a busy Friday planned.

On the definite agenda on Friday afternoon was the NBC tour, so we headed towards Times Square and had brunch at a diner. I selected the single pancake, scrambled eggs, and bacon, which hit the spot! I’m not used to waiting so long to eat in the morning, so I was hungry! The weather was beautiful and perfect for walking around, though Lauren and I might have been the only ones wearing shorts. On our travels, we noticed two very long lines, which I thought might be for those elusive eateries that Buzzfeed always posts, but one was for what we concluded was a Hamilton meet-and-greet (understandable) and the other was for Chik-fil-a ( a rousing, huh!?).

After we took in the scene, we found ourselves at 30 Rock! We found where we were supposed to meet for the tour and then we had an adventurous debacle trying to locate a restroom, and then a restroom that was actually open. We did make it back in plenty of time, but almost missed the tour anyways because we were browsing the store. Whoops! The tour was fun and informational, plus just plain cool getting to sit in the audience of SNL (sans actual show), but it wasn’t all that overwhelming. It didn’t help that Lauren and I were bunched in with a bunch of teenagers on a class trip.

Back into the sunshine and away from the teens, we made our way over to the Highline which we walked on our way to meet Bobby.Though it was a little congested, it’s such a nice walk with spectacular views. Here would be a great time to insert a pic of the view, but we were busy taking in the scene. Once we stepped off near Chelsea Market, it was time for some refreshments.

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The final leg of our afternoon took us to Union Square, where we hopped back on the subway to get ready for dinner that night. Lauren and I were excited to try Tao!

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The food was excellent, especially the sweet and sour cauliflower! We also shared chicken and pad thai dishes, finishing off with a giant mousse-filled fortune cookie. Post-dinner, we decided to take advantage of the still-warm and beautiful evening weather and hit up a rooftop bar. I can already predict this will be my favorite thing to do in the summer, even though I don’t think every place I go to will offer views of the Statue of Liberty.

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Once we arrived and got our drinks- boozy popsicles in wine!- it started to rain! There was a cover and heat lamps above us, but they only lasted so long until we were the only ones left and had to leave.

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Lauren and I racked up a ton of steps, especially on Friday- almost 30,000, and then a lot on Saturday too!

On Saturday, we started our morning off right with a workout! I’m now a big fan of hitting up gyms for one-day passes when I travel! For my workout, I spent a half hour working through a strength training circuit before hopping on the treadmill for a run. Since losing the last ten pounds, I’ve definitely gotten faster and was able to stay at a strong, but comfortable pace, except that I was battling a bit of a bellyache. I finished my hour up with a core workout before getting ready for brunch.

This pretty much sums up brunch.

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Bottomless mimosas! For my actual meal, I chose eggs benedict with spinach with a side salad. Delicious! A little tipsy and a lot full, we made our way over to Central Park to sit in the sun and just relax. The best!

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That is the face of a happy girl! I mean, look at this view from lying on my back:

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Once the sun started to go down, so did the temperature, so we knew it was time to head back. For dinner, I had part of an amazing cauliflower (vegetable of the weekend!) crumble and spaghetti in a lemon cream sauce. For after-dinner drinks, we had trouble finding a spot that stuck, but we finally did find one (my poor, sore feet!) and enjoyed a nightcap before heading back to bed.

Sunday sadly was our final day and we kicked things off with brunch. I had trouble deciding, but the waiter recommended the hot dog (kind of an odd choice for brunch, sure) and it didn’t disappoint. By the time we got back to the apartment, Lauren and I decided to pack up and head out to stay in the general area of our bus. Even though we weren’t hungry at that time, we knew we would be once we were on the bus, so we trekked over to Whole Foods with our luggage and got some snacks.I enjoyed a roasted chicken sandwich and a cookie! The journey home was even longer than the one there, and even though I love and miss New York, I was happy to be home.

For one, after a weekend of indulgences, I always love getting back into my food and exercise routine as it’s so motivating to feel healthy again! Another, I always feel so inspired by the city and ready to work hard, so I know I’ve got a lot of exciting things to do over the next few months- and choices to make!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, wherever you are and whatever you did! Happy Monday!

Part Five: I Think I Look Really Cool in a Backwards Hat

I love love love the sun and yesterday I spent the day at the beach, including starting my morning off with some Yoga by the water. It was harder than I imagined and I almost fell over a bunch of times, but I’m glad I went. A good rainstorm once in awhile can have the same effect, which has been especially beneficial to my garden today. When I first started typing this up, I was sipping on a cup of coffee and listening to the rain and all feels well. I had to run off to work so I am now finishing several hours later and getting ready to head out for a kickboxing class.

Now onto part five. These recaps are flying by as fast as the trip itself!

Our fifth day was a touristy one. We bought tickets to the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour that I’ve done in a few places, as well as a few times in LA, including New York, London, and Oxford. It’s a great way to see cities, to get around, and to distinguish what you want to do more of and what you’re fine with just passing by.

It was about 95 and the sun was blaring, but thanks to no humidity and the cool breeze, we had no trouble sitting on the top deck. This time, we knew to slather on the sunblock and I wore my new hat to protect my scalp.

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I didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was nervous the bus would lurch and I would drop my phone, but I can walk you through the tour. We started in Hollywood, once again bypassing other tourists stopping to take pictures of the stars every few seconds until we could get onto the bus. The ride took us to Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Ave, Beverly Hills, and The Grove, where we got off for lunch.

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We walked around the Farmer’s Market then all the stores at The Grove while we waited to get a little hungrier and decide what we wanted to eat. It was a sandwich kind of day, so I went with a ham and cheese with lettuce, tomato, and mustard on a croissant. It was quite tasty and after finishing with a scoop of sweetness from an ice cream shoppe, we headed out to meet our bus.

The entire ride of this particular section was two hours long, so we stayed on, taking in the views and the clear, picture-perfect day until we made it to Beverly Hills again. Here, we hopped off and hopped onto another bus that would take us through Santa Monica, Brentwood, and Westwood.

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There is no live tour guide, but you can opt to listen to a pre-recorded taping that offers quite a lot of information. It’s particularly nice to take tours like this in big cities where walking everywhere is not particularly easy because you can see a lot more than you would otherwise. It was amazing to stop in front of the beach again and take in the view, though it made me want to run down and dive into the water.

Once we made it to Westwood, we jumped off in order to make a stop at a place called Diddy Riese where they sell delicious cookies and ice cream on the cheap. I mentioned that we indulged our sweet teeth quite a lot on this trip and didn’t hesitate to navigate our way to the store. It was so good!

We didn’t have much time to explore the area though it seemed like a nice, fun college town reminiscent of Boston because we had to catch the last bus to Beverly Hills! As we pulled into Beverly Hills and were stopped at a traffic light, Molly spotted Kerry Washington. Neither of us watch Scandal but she’s recognizable enough for us to brag about it and get street cred for the sighting. Just as we were about to wave, she turned around, but it’s probably for the best not to look like crazed tourists.

Back in Beverly Hills and waiting to get onto our bus back to Hollywood, we spotted a helicopter flying above us, which led us to think something crazy cool was happening, but nothing ever came to fruition.

It was cool to be driving through the area as it darkened until I got hit in the eye by a tree branch and I decided to wear my sunglasses for protection. It was actually funnier than it sounds though it could have done some damage.

Deciding to get a bite to eat for dinner before heading back to our hotel, Molly and I stopped into Mel’s Drive-In for a little Breakfast for Dinner. I chose French toast and Molly had pancakes that were pretty good.

Another fun day was had!

To end, I would just like to pay tribute to Robin Williams who passed away a year ago today. I remember exactly where I was when I found out, on vacation with my family in New Hampshire, and that sadness and shock lingers.

Forgive people their humanness, you never know the pain that is in their hearts, even when their smile is so bright.

Spooky Adventures

Adrenaline pumping, heart thumping, screams emitting from your throat without you being able to control it, there’s something about feeling, watching, and experiencing the danger without physically participating in it.

Scary movies, right? They sound all fun and amazing when you’re watching them.Then you try to go to bed that night and end up sleeping on your parents’ bedroom floor like you did when you were five and thought there was a monster in the closet.

The Conjuring was terrifying, ok. And for the record, it took an ounce of stupendous bravery to be able to get myself out of the protective cocoon of my bed and run in there.

My college roommate, Stephanie and I have an affinity for ghost stories. The first Paranormal Activity remains my favorite of the bunch because it was new and refreshing to that genre. I am not fond of gruesome slasher flicks or anything that spews blood, guts, and other yucky things. Ghosts are in some ways more terrifying, while I just find those other varieties to be disgusting and unnecessary. The point of a thriller is the anticipation, not the violence.

Over the years, Stephanie and I have consumed many paranormal films, the good, the bad, and the very ugly. Some of them have little thrills, but the best ones get you screaming- the end of Paranormal Activity 4!! We also enjoy going on walking ghost tours of cities to learn more about the history, see a different side of things, and be scared, hopefully, witless for a bit.

We’ve been to Salem every October for at least the past four years because Halloween is fun and exciting and there’s nothing quite like Salem during this time. The ghost tours are always fun because the tour guides and other people get really into the mood, especially with the history of Salem.

So far, we did the Boston Ghosts and Gravestones last night, which was a fun part-trolley, part-walking tour around some Boston cemeteries. Fun fact: did you know the Common is one of the largest unmarked burial grounds in the United States? Ack! We’ve done Salem tours a few times. Last year, we drove to Providence and did a fun walking tour there. The best of the best was the one we did in London, which was centered around Jack the Ripper. That one didn’t have much to do with ghosts, but it was downright spooky. Another time, we went on a tour in Dublin and one of our other friends was pretty sure she saw a ghost. I won’t name her in case it makes her feel uncomfortable.

Going on these tours, I’m not sure what I expect or how I feel about the whole thing, other than that it is fun, exciting, and intriguing. It can be silly at times, especially when you are wide awake later that night with the covers pulled over your head and refusing to get up even though you have to pee, or when you scream at anything that jumps out at you, i.e. your cat.

It’s all speculative, unless someone sees something, and then you’re kind of jealous that you didn’t experience it, but also relieved because then you’d be afraid to be haunted the rest of your life.

I mean, I could handle a ghost of Casper’s caliber, but don’t for a second think I have the stamina or the courage to deal with anything that is nasty. My sassiness can only get me so far.

Since Fall has begun and Halloween season is upon us (the grocery and convenience stores started marketing for this two months ago), indulge yourself beyond just chocolate and sugar (though tis the season!), and throw on a scary movie, go on a tour, read a book, or not, but never feel bad about sleeping with the lights on.

Happy Fall!