Saturday, January 2, 2016

****I've Moved My Blog!****

Hi! If you're reading this, head on over to my new site here! I've moved because while I started out writing about my adventures in New York City, as I've been traveling more and writing more about these travels, this name just didn't fit anymore. Lately my life has been so much more about travel than NYC and I wanted a name to reflect that.
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My new name is a nod to one of my favorite singers, but also means a lot to me personally - "10 Miles Behind Me, and 10,000 More to Go." This might sound familiar to you, as it's a lyric from James Taylor's, Sweet Baby James. To keep it sweet and simple, I'll officially be going by "10 Miles Behind Me."
The full lyric was my senior yearbook quote. I knew that far better things were waiting for me than I'd experienced in my first 18 years. While the last 12 (WOW) years since high school have been full of wonderful, emotional, challenging, and beautiful experiences, I am still of the mindset that even better things lie ahead for this girl. Maybe 10,000 miles worth of them.
I've also wanted to make some changes to the host and look for a while. I'm not finished, so please bear with me during this transition. There are 5 years of posts to move over, format, edit exes out of, check the links of, etc. It's a work in progress, but so am I, so you are probably used to that.
Along with a change in the blog name, I'm going to try to commit more! What does that mean? Posting more regularly, being more active on Social Media, and putting myself out in the travel world more.
Not only will 2016 be a big year for my blog, it's going to be a huge one for me, personally. I can't get into it all yet, but I am SO EXCITED about the possibilities of this year and beyond.
If you're new, welcome! If you've followed me forever, thank you for your continued support!
You can follow me on the below platforms if interested in learning more:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An Adventure in Sculpture with Picasso

I've had a thing for Picasso since I was a 9-year-old nerd with a red French beret, trying to become an artist and a dolphin trainer at the same time. I try to see as much of Picasso's work as possible, so it's helpful to live in New York City. 

Here, I've seen Picasso Guitars at the MoMAPicasso: Black and White at the Guggenheim, and the Cubism exhibit at the Met earlier this year, focused mostly on Pablo and his bud Georges Braque. This year, I've also been lucky enough to visit the Picasso museum in Barcelona, experience Guernica in Madrid, and visit the Rosengart's extensive Picasso collection in Lucerne, Switzerland. I also made it a point to see the giant Picasso sculpture when I was visiting Chicago this fall. In typing all this up, I'm suddenly wondering if I have a problem. Is this normal?

Last week, I popped into the Museum of Modern Art to experience Picasso Sculpture, an exhibition that opened in September and closes February 7. It's well worth the visit, especially if you live in the city. The exhibit is displayed chronologically and shows Picasso's work from 1902, before he even started exploring Cubism, to 1964, with his sheet metal painted sculptures. 

There are about 140 pieces in the exhibit, but not one of them is much like the next. Even Picasso's six "Glass of Absinthe" sculptures from 1914 vary from each other. There are pieces as small as engraved pebbles and pieces way larger than I am. It always impresses me how Picasso, like so many before him, delivered masterpieces seamlessly in such a wide variety of mediums. Because I'm not an artist, I have trouble imagining that the same skills are needed with a paintbrush as a chisel or with scissors, but I'm okay with this bewilderment. It's probably what I like best about art. 

Below are some of my favorite pieces from the exhibition, including a guitar made of paper and a baboon with a head of Picasso's son's toy car:

It's one thing to look at pictures and appreciate Picasso's work and creativity, but it's a whole other experience to see it in person and walk around it in circles. The below video, {via MoMA} will help, but get over there and see this exhibit yourself before February!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Driving out of the City, Away from the Crowds

"...Let's get out of this town, drive out of the city, away from the crowds..."
- Taylor Swift

New York City in the fall is basically the best. The skies are my absolute favorite shade of blue, the crowds leave the streets and head to the bars for football games, and I get the parks to myself, with my chai tea and Kindle. But it's always worth heading out of the city as well. Earlier this season, Ryan and I got out of town and drove a Zip Car upstate to explore.

Our first intended destination was a classic hot dog stand an old friend told me about years ago. According to Apple Maps, this was on the way to the second destination, but when we got "there," we were in a neighborhood. This is why you don't use Apple Maps. Turns out the eatery was on the opposite side of the Hudson than where we wanted to be for the rest of the day, so it was a good thing we were not brought there. We contemplated eating McNuggets because we were so hungry and wanted to get back on the road quickly, but we found Savannah's Southern House and "settled" on chicken & waffles and buffalo chicken sliders. It was a much better choice for the rest of the day.

We switched to Google Maps and typed in Walkway over the Hudson, a mile-long bridge across the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie. The walkway, an old railroad bridge, opened in 1888, making it the longest bridge in the world at that time. During World War II, the bridge was crossed by troops who were heading overseas, and at times throughout history, the bridge carried up to 3,500 train cars a day. I'd been wanting to visit for a number of years, since I first heard about it. I almost got a chance to walk across on my trip last year hosted by Dutchess County Tourism but it was ridiculously cold that day, so the schedule changed. I was glad to have waited for a beautiful day instead.

Instead of taking us to the walkway itself, Google Maps decided to take us to the river underneath the bridge. This is why you don't use Google Maps. Granted, it wasn't *completely* wrong, like Apple Maps had been, but we didn't have our jetpacks with us and we couldn't see another way to get up from where we were. It wasn't too far to drive to the correct place where the walkway actually starts and park.

Walkway over the Hudson sure was beautiful. The colors in the trees were just starting to change and you could see for miles, which is something I appreciate greatly when I'm not in the city. Unless you're on top of the Empire State Building or the like, you can only see ahead a few avenues or so due to the skyscrapers. It was windy and chilly on the day we chose to go, but the view and the company was magnificent and there were TONS of puppies to lust over.

After about an hour of walking around above the Hudson, we got back in the car and searched for an apple orchard. Apple picking is *the* fall activity for the social media generation. I'd never gone, and given the fact that I only eat two apples a year, it was fine, but Ryan and I had this crazy craving to make apple pies that week. My dad's apple pie recipe is world-famous family-famous. I was willing to eat more than two apples this year in exchange for the experience.

We ended up at Wilklow Orchards where we ate apple cider doughnuts and talked to goats before heading out to the apple trees to make our selections. Although we'd visited a little late into the season, there were plenty of perfect apples to choose from. We picked about 1,000 different varieties to make our pies taste amazing - including Macintosh, Winesap, Golden Delicious, and Gala. We also may or may not have eaten a few small guys while out in the orchards which may or may not have been the best apples I've ever tasted.

The only thing that's bad about taking a car out of the city is that at some point, you have to come back and you inevitably sit in a ridiculous amount of traffic, which delays your pie making and you have to set an alarm for 3 am to get the pies out of the oven so your apartment doesn't burn down. But oh my, that pie.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Too Much Light in the City that Never Sleeps

The options for nightlife in New York City are practically endless, but they can get repetitive. A $9 Bud Light here, a late night order of cheese fries there, and sometimes you can't identify one weekend from the next. If you want a unique night out, give New York Neo-Futurists a shot.

New York Neo-Futurists perform Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (TMLMTBGB) on Friday and Saturday nights. The concept of the show is 30 plays in 60 minutes - you can do the math. The theater group performs an extremely diverse variety of short-form plays. It moves quickly, and for a good reason - if the timer buzzes and the performers have not gone through all 30 plays, the night sadly ends anyway.

Before Ryan and I went to the show one night last month, I looked up the Yelp reviews and found that people either love it (4 or 5 stars) or hate it (1 star). What I took from this scattering of ratings, being a former AP Statistics student, is that the show is intelligent, and some people just aren't going to get it and might want to stick to those Bud Light nights.

TMLMTBGB is at the Kraine Theatre, underneath KGB bar, in the East Village. If you do not obtain tickets in advance, you can get into the show for free during the month of your birthday (awesome!) and if it's not your birthday month, a die is rolled and you pay $13 plus whatever the die roll is (still awesome). When you go through the curtain, you're handed a "Hello, my name is" nametag to wear for the evening. My name was "Ladder Hands" and Ryan was "Gym." We sat in the second row of the small theatre to make sure we were close but not the first row of defense in case of unsolicited audience participation. The cast was pinning the numbers 1-30 on a clothesline on top of the stage to represent the different plays in our program. When the show began, we were encouraged to yell out the number of what play we wanted to see. For some reason, Ryan's choices kept getting chosen over mine.

I found the show incredibly engaging and creative, though as would be expected, some plays were better than others. There were a few that I didn't appreciate, but as a whole, color me impressed. As some of the plays return for future shows, I won't give away too much, but I will call out a few plays that stood out for me.

14. Pro bono Therapy: In which a member of the Neo-Futurists laid down on a box in a faux psychiatrist situation and admitted something they would normally not want to admit in front of an audience of strangers. The psychiatrist player reacted, and then a random audience member was pulled on stage and also had to admit to something, and the psychiatrist reacted again. During that skit, I determined that if I'd been pulled up on stage, I would have had to admit that my pants were unbuttoned because they were fresh out of the dryer and too tight.

27. Moo Doy Layster May Frek Dage Nye Pamperbast Croy: In which performers sit on stage speaking absolute gibberish while the audience is handed a translation guide. Turns out they are discussing how sad it is how someday, no one will be reading books anymore, and discuss particular classics and how important they are while always including the caveat "which I have never read," showing that we may already be approaching the demise of written literature.

7. YOU can be the star of your very own MANIPULATED VIDEO (for Planned Parenthood): Where an audience member was brought on stage and interviewed about his job and life. The performer on stage with the audience member tried to get him to say certain words that could be incriminating. The video was uploaded later that week and is available here, if interested (sorry, Chad).

The show also featured a watermelon, the voice of the "rat" in Kraine Theatre, the performers imitating bison in Yellowstone, and much, much, more. Our show unfortunately ended with a handful of plays still undone. I'd definitely like to return to the show, perhaps during my birthday month of April, though it would also be fun to roll the die and take a chance on the ticket price.

Further proof that the show was worth seeing was that as soon as the show started, I was able to forget that 10 minutes before leaving I had accidentally spilled an entire candle's hot wax all over my floor, wall, books, and one of my most prized possessions, my banjo. I had a small meltdown (pun intended) and was very mad at myself. Don't worry, Dad, I've since cleaned the banjo and it's sparkling clean again. The wall still could use some work. Too much candle light makes the wax go everywhere.


Thank you, New York Neo-Futurists for the tickets. Opinions are always my own.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bern without da Bears

What do you do in a town when the main reason you went in the first place isn't there? Kater and I experienced this dilemma when we went to Bern in the middle of our week in Switzerland. From our standpoint, the most exciting part about Bern was going to be seeing the bears that live in the middle of town. The bear has been the symbol of Bern for over 800 years and bears have been kept in town as a tourist attraction since 1857, with improving living conditions over the ages. But alas, when Kater and I were out our one night in Bern, we learned that the bears were not being housed in their normal area due to construction. This might have ruined our day in Bern, but we found plenty more to make this city worth the visit.

As I wrote about in Rösti la Vista, Baby, our dinner at La Mazot was cheese and potatoes of the absolute best kind. After dinner, we started the evening off at Turnhalle, a huge beer hall with a great outdoor space, but were finding it difficult to strike up conversations with anyone. Talking to strangers is typically easy for us, especially when we are together. One of the best things about traveling (and being out in general) is getting to know locals and other travelers and we almost gave up, but decided to try an Irish pub that we'd seen in our research. If you can't meet people at an Irish pub, then *you're* the problem.

Sure enough, at Mr. Pickwicks, we met a fun group of locals by bonding over the avoidance of another individual - "Talking to that man was like talking to a Neanderthal," per one of our new friends. They made us feel better about not Turnhalle because they told us most people in Bern have lived there their whole lives and typically aren't into making new friends. Even though this group had known each other since kindergarten, they took us under their wing and we traveled with them to two other bars, one where I found Super Bock, one of my favorite beers from Portugal, and a bar called Cowboys, where we experienced Swiss rap music for the first time. We also wandered around town while the locals showed us the Federal Building and played giant chess in a plaza, before heading back to our hotel, pretty late into the next morning.

The next day, as Kater and I jokingly planned out my future life being married to one of the gentlemen we met the night before, we walked around town trying to determine what Bern was all about without the bears. The majority of the buildings in the areas we saw were the same shade of greystone. I appreciated the consistency and comradery. Another thing I liked about Bern was that it was basically a car-free city. Almost every street felt like a pedestrian plaza, and plazas are the best part about walking around European cities. Bern is proud to have been the home of Albert Einstein back in the day, and there is a museum in Einstein's former home, where the Theory of Relativity came to thought.

Something else Bern is definitely all about is fountains. Along with more modern fountains, there are 11 from the 16th century, and we tried to find them all. According to my buddy, Rick, the fountains were commissioned by the city to brighten up the town, show off wealth, and as a way to remember local events. I'm a little concerned about this last reason, because some of the fountains are super creepy, for example, this one where an ogre is clearly eating children. I'm hoping this fountain is not a representation of something that happened back in the day:

Thankfully, not all of the fountains are creepy, and some of them are even fun, like this much more modern fountain in front of Parliment. Kater and I watched while 26 spouts in the ground surprised kids and dogs alike, time and time again - but better water than a child-eating ogre.

Bern is also about the Aare river, which I found absolutely gorgeous, mostly because of the color. The current of the river is so swift that locals often hike up the river, jump in, and float back down to the city - as long as you're quick enough to grab a pole on your way back to help you get out. If you miss the poles, who knows what happens to you. We preferred to enjoy the river from above than engulfed in it.

While I would have liked to see the bears, I'm glad we stayed in Bern to experience those cheesy potatoes and a local night out, even if we weren't quite local enough to float down that river.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Spare Pair for the Air

I started to wear glasses in second grade and wore them until I was in high school, when I was finally able to put contacts in my eyes without passing out from the fear of it. Today, I use my glasses a lot more while traveling than I do when I'm not. In case I fall asleep unexpectedly from a day of aggressive sightseeing, I take my contacts out earlier than normal when I'm away. I also wear my glasses on overnight flights so that I don't arrive in a destination with dry eyes and a headache.

I don't have the best track record with glasses, breaking them in soccer games as a kid when the ball would inevitably hit me straight in the face, or in January, when I dropped a brand-new pair of glasses behind the dresser in the hotel room in Charleston. I have also had bad luck with sunglasses over the last few months while traveling - leaving a pair in a bathroom in Switzerland, losing a pair in Philly, and breaking a pair while kayaking on the East River.

RIP $5 Sunglasses from Hong Kong
I was recently contacted by Firmoo, asking me to try their "global optical online store" and thought it would be a great opportunity to get myself a pair of glasses I could travel with, without risking my "good" pair that I get each year from insurance. The site has prescription and non-prescription glasses as well as a variety of sunglasses, with most frames in the $20-$40 range. I picked a hipster-like pair in black, which now appears as only available in purple and tortoise. I typed in my prescription as last received from my optometrist in April. What I didn't know was my PD, Pupillary Distance, or the distance between my pupils in millimeters. Firmoo recommended having a friend measure the distance with a ruler. Ryan determined, while at a bar, me with a ruler against the bridge of my nose, that my PD was 56. If you don't have a Ryan, you can measure it yourself in a mirror, but I highly recommend getting a Ryan.

My favorite feature on Firmoo was that I could upload my photo and see what the frames would look like on my face. Since you can't return prescription lenses after they're created, this is a very important feature for an online glasses store. My custom-ordered glasses came out to a total of $40, including shipping.

I received the glasses about two weeks after ordering and was tickled that they came in a glasses case printed with maps on the outside. It's as if Firmoo knew. The glasses I received work great, which means that Ryan did a good job on measuring my PD, but also that Firmoo did a good job making my lenses to the right specifications. The frames I chose are extremely light and don't appear to be as sturdy as my other glasses, but for a spare pair, they'll do just fine. Plus, this means my luggage won't exceed the weight limit. 


Thank you, Firmoo, for sending me a pair of glasses for this review. This link will show you Firmoo's daily new arrivals, and this link will show you all frames that are on sale. Opinions are always my own.
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