Sunday, June 28, 2015

I Just Made You Say "Underwear"

I'm obsessed with podcasts. I listened to Serial way before it was cool to, so hold, please, while I brush my shoulders off. Recently when listening to the podcast of Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week (and more), I became intrigued by one of his sponsors, ExOfficio. ExOfficio is a company that specializes in travel clothing that works harder than most people do. Their lines include clothing that is bug-resistant, has SPF built into it, and that will refuse to wrinkle after sitting in a suitcase or backpack for weeks.

This particular ad on Tim Ferriss had been for ExOfficio's travel underwear and I decided to give it a shot myself. I've never washed clothes while traveling, choosing instead to pack more than I need and tossing things out along the way. But since I was going to be on the train almost every day of my week-long Switzerland trip, I thought I'd do better with a smaller bag. I packed a pair of ExOfficio underwear to save space, in place of a few extra pairs of my normal 'wear.

{via}

I tried out the Women's Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief in Daiquiri (above left). There are several other styles of underwear as well, including a Hipkini (above middle), Lacy Thong (above right), and Low-Rise Bikini.

Each time I wore them, I washed my ExOfficio underwear with my regular shower soap (Olive Oil Smoothie from Little Egg Harbor Soap). I laid the pair flat on a towel and rolled the towel up to remove excess water, as instructed per the tag. ExOfficio underwear is so quick-drying that I could have worn the pair again after just a few hours of washing it - and some of the time, I did just this. Not only is the underwear quick-drying, but it's also odor-resistant, breathable, didn't show lines, and didn't ride up at all.

On our hotel balcony in Interlaken, Switzerland

The only downside of the Bikini Brief was that it was a tad higher in the back than I normally like. It would have been peeking out of my skinny jeans so it's not the best night-out option. It would, however, be perfect for days filled with hiking, camping, road trips, sightseeing, and running.

My pair of ExOfficio underwear was so much more comfortable than everything else I brought with me on this trip, that even though I'd worn the pair a few times already, I chose to wear them on the long flight home from Zurich. I'm certainly interested in getting more ExOfficio underwear, although I will try a lower cut style next time. I'd also love to try out other ExOfficio products, specifically their tanks, hoodies, and convertible dresses.

xo

Thank you, ExOfficio for the pair of Bikini Briefs to try. This pair retails for $22. Opinions are always my own.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

An Art Nerd in Spain

Avid readers of this blog may know that I am somewhat of an art nerd. It all started in the '90s when I would go to "Art Goes to School" with my dad while he talked about different paintings to my sister's classes. It got really bad when I started to wear a red French beret everywhere I went (for visual proof of this, check out this post). While I know some people avoid museums like the plague when they travel, seeing my favorite artists' work is often a big draw for me when traveling. If you feel the same way about art, here are some of the best spots in Madrid and Barcelona to get your fix. And if you don't feel the same way about art, hopefully this post can inspire you to try it out anyway.

El Prado, Madrid



The best painting in the entire Prado (and this is one of the best collections of art in Europe) is Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, painted in 1656. If you don't recognize the name, I'm sure you recognize the painting. Although this painting is surrounded by other works of the court painter Velázquez, it's difficult to look away from this one to take in the others. 

Standing nine feet tall but with all the action happening in the lower half of the painting, there's a lot going on. Princess Margaret is flanked by her entourage of maids (Meninas) and a disinterested dog, while Velázquez himself is painting Margaret's parents, King Philip IV and Queen Mariana, as reflected in the small mirror in the back. Then there's a random dude leaving or entering the room, seemingly just to demonstrate perspective.

Museu Picasso, Barcelona

My sister revealed to me that when she and my dad were talking about what to do in Barcelona, my dad said "Well, you know Erin's going to make us go to the Picasso Museum." And make them I did. I've been a Picasso fan since that red beret looked good on me and I've gone to many Picasso-focused exhibits, like Picasso Guitars at the MoMA, Picasso: Black and White at the Guggenheim, and most recently, the Cubism exhibit at the Met. 

The museum predominantly features the Picasso that we don't normally see elsewhere - his early stuff. Pencil drawings from childhood, paintings that won him scholarships as a teen, and his work in art school. The museum is set out chronologically so you can really get a feel for his personal growth over the years. 

My favorite part of the Picasso Museum is the room with his forty or so interpretations of Las Meninas - yes, that's right - the painting I was *just* talking about. I could imagine people walking in and not really knowing Velázquez's version and not getting it, but for our family, who had just seen and obsessed over Las Meninas in El Prado, it was an incredible experience to see each iteration that Picasso did over a five-month study.

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Els Quatre Gats, Barcelona

When Picasso lived and worked in Barcelona, he often hung out at an adorable bohemian Paris-inspired cafe Els Quatre Gats (Catalan for The Four Cats). He painted the cover of their menu and had some of his first one-man exhibits in this spot. Go and do your best Picasso impression while pretending to paint the menu yourself.



La Reina Sofía, Madrid

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The piece people come to La Reina Sofía to see is Picasso's Guernica. Just as I had an emotional experience seeing Michelangelo's David, when I saw Guernica, my mind kinda freaked out. I'd been wanting to see this mural since I started learning Spanish in middle school. When we were planning our trip, I did extensive research to prepare myself so that when I saw it in person, I would know exactly what to look for in every inch of it. 

This ginormous masterpiece is Picasso's reaction to the Germans "practice" bombing the Spanish town of Guernica in 1937 for three straight hours, all with Franco's permission (and maybe even at his request). Just weeks after the horrendous bombing, which destroyed the town and killed - by some accounts - 1600 civilians, Picasso presented his painting at an exposition in Paris. Guernica became an effective piece of anti-war propaganda. It's truly heartwrenching.

Gaudí's Barcelona: Park Güell & La Sagrada Familia

On a much lighter note, architect Antoni Gaudí's Park Güell is a must-see in Barcelona. Originally envisioned as a housing community for Barcelona's elite, this park remains one of the city's most visited tourist destinations. The park is so whimsical and colorful that it feels as if you are in a Dr. Seuss book although it was started in 1900. It's hard to imagine the 1900s being so modern. Two gingerbread houses straight from the fairy tale greet you upon entrance. There is a hall of 100 columns where a market would be and a central square with curved benches that are good for your back and a view of Barcelona that's good for your eyes. Much of the park is covered in mosaics, many from broken plates and bottles. Park Güell is a great place to spend a few hours in Barcelona as every corner you turn is completely different than the corner before. It's meant for exploring.

{via my sister, Katie!}


{via my sister, Katie!}
There are several other Gaudí buildings in Barcelona (La Pedrera, Palau Güell, Casa Batlló) but the other must-see Gaudí work in the city is La Sagrada Familia church. It doesn't matter what religion you are or how religious you consider yourself - go for the design. This church has been under construction since 1883 and is anticipated to be finished in the 2020s. Think about that for a second - generations of work have been put into this church, generations of visitors have come to see it in all its different phases. The 56 columns in the church imitate trees in a rainforest, there are cubist-like stained glass windows everywhere, and the outdoor walls look like the most intricate drip-castle you've ever made on the beach. Just like in Park Guell, everywhere you turn is completely unique and something you've never seen before anywhere. Explore away.

{via my sister, Katie!}



If you go to Madrid or Barcelona and don't see any of these works, I won't be mad, but I will be extremely disappointed. As Picasso is known to have said:

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

xo

Bonus Tip: Many of the museums mentioned are best enjoyed by buying tickets in advance for scheduled times. If you don't mind some of your visit being structured, a little planning can reduce time waiting in lines significantly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Bucket List | A Lobster Tale

New Yorkers spend half their lives waiting for the summer. We bundle up so tightly and uncomfortably that only our eyes are showing, just to strip down again on the hot subway, and bundle ourselves back up to complete our commutes, walking against winds that won't even let us move forward. The heat in the buildings we live in is uncontrollable, loud, and so high we have to sleep with the windows open when it's snowing. Each time it snows, we are stuck sludging through seven-inch puddles for the next two weeks. Then, when it's finally nice out, it feels like a second - it flies right on by. Too much on my summer to-do lists goes undone each year. But I'm not letting that happen this time around.



A few weekends ago, The World Wanderer and I got together for a day of gabbing and giggles. The weather was going to be gorgeous, so we went to North River Lobster Company on 41st and the west side. North River was on my Summer Bucket List from last year but I hadn't been able to cross it off. If you're in the city on a sweltering day, the best way to spend it is to hop on a boat. In my early years in the city, I went to the Frying Pan all the time. Last year, I discovered Grand Banks, which is perfect for after work, especially if you are downtown for your 9-5. But North River Lobster Company has a little something extra that those boats don't have - it takes you out on the water.



North River was a splurge for us, but one Erin and I decided we deserved. We both ordered $21.95 lobster rolls and a mason-jar cocktail for $14. There are cheaper food and drink options, but when you're on a lobster boat, you get lobster. Erin's "Life Saver" cocktail (Skyy Peach Vodka, Triple Sec, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, & Grenadine) was better than my "Spiked Ice Tea" (Skyy Blood Orange Vodka, Skyy Citrus Vodka, & Sour Mix), but we switched to beer after the first round. If I make it there again this summer I'll be sure to try the North River Lobster Company Blonde Ale which I hadn't noticed before. For our last round, we tried the Rosé sangria which was light and unique although they'd run out of fruit for the day.



Every few hours, the boat goes out for a 45-minute sail. Erin and I were having such a great time catching up that we were out on the water twice. Eventually, we needed to drink more beer, eat a soft pretzel, garlic toast bites, and funfetti cookies, and pet a dog, so we headed off to start our evening. But not before taking a photo together. "Green shirt," I said, to a man in a green shirt, "I feel like you are a photographer." He actually was one, or at least claimed to be. He took a picture for us, but when we walked downstairs and looked at it, we wanted a better one. I started to put my arm out to take a selfie and Erin said, "are you good at selfies?" "Am I good at selfies?! Ha!" I said, as my camera dropped the six feet down to the concrete floor of the boat. It shattered slowly in front of our eyes.

But we got that selfie.



xo
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