I'm a 37-year old Seattle girl who was bitten by the travel bug on my first tour of Europe in 2004. This personal blog follows my attempts to visit as many countries as I can, as often as my budget will allow. Since starting this blog in 2007, I've also worked as a freelance copywriter for an online travel publication. This only served to add even more must-see locations to my already extended list.
Follow me as I try to balance "real life" with exploring the world, all while trying to conquer a wickedly ironic case of homesickness.


The Big Apple

I get it now. That mysterious love of New York so many people have while simultaneously unable to put that love into words. I get it in that way that you have to let New York introduce herself to you. Enough time to get past the initial shock of her pace. And I now see why so many people love New York, because New York got into my blood. Big time.

My first impression was a major culture shock. Cars screeching and honking, people pushing and yelling, people literally everywhere. I was simultaneously dazzled and terrified. The energy had me electrified and a little bit overwhelmed. But by the time I wheeled my suitcase back to the train station five days later, I didn't want to go. I'd found my spot amidst the chaos, and I liked it. I was thriving not only on the energy, but also the quieter personality of the surrounding neighborhoods, the peace of the park, the passion of the arts, the glamour of the architecture, the deliciousness of the food, the glitz of Park Avenue...everything.

New York is difficult to describe. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn't. Some of it is brash, some of it isn't. Juxtapositions are everywhere. Farmer's markets and parks amidst skyscrapers. Art museums adjacent to construction sites. Shiny modern buildings next to elegant historic brownstones. Classically trained pianists playing on the sidewalk next to angry traffic. Tiny, unassuming restaurants serving some of the best food I've ever had.

Within four short days, I munched cannoli while walking through a street fair in Little Italy, swallowed back tears inside Paul's Chapel across from Ground Zero, watched a thunderstorm from a restaurant overlooking Times Square, witnessed the whole world pass by from the main concourse of Grand Central Station, listened to exceptionally good street performers on the steps of the Met and a bench in Washington Square Park, watched New Yorkers dance in Central Park, stood underneath the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge and on top of 30 Rock, shopped at Bloomingdales and Serendipity 3, eaten hot dogs at Grays Papaya and pizza at Lombardi's, looked Lady Liberty squarely in the eye, sang along with showtunes on 42nd Avenue, crossed the street in front of the Empire State Building, prayed in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, strolled dreamily through the posh lobbies of The Plaza and The Waldorf-Astoria, and the list goes on.

The only way to describe New York is New York. I've never been in any other city like it, and I think that is what makes it so fabulous; it's just New York. Sometimes you hate it, sometimes you love it. But the truth remains that you'll never find its qualities anywhere else. And if it gets under your skin, there is no other place that will scratch that itch.

From a traveler's perspective, there are a few things that caught me off guard. After countless anecdotes, I had mentally prepared myself for a dirty, nasty, dangerous city filled with danger around every corner. Warnings of muggings, rats, and disease, plus traveling during what has been called the worst bedbug infestation on record....to say I was trepidacious would be putting it lightly.

It was all for naught, however. No bedbugs. The city and subways were cleaner than many others I've experienced. No encounters with crime at all. Never saw a single rat. And every single person we engaged in New York was more than kind; perhaps even nicer than any other city I've visited so far, London included.

Speaking of London, it is still my true love; I don't think any city will be able to take it's place for me. But in addition to that flat in London and that house on Sydney Harbour, I'd also love a brownstone on the upper East Side, thankssomuch. This urban wanderer has added NYC to her top three favourite cities in the world. I will return, probably on a regular basis.


I think I'm in love!

London is still the ultimate love of my life,
but I've fallen for NYC just as much as everyone thought I would.

Full review to follow soon!

Review: Washington DC

It's true; the East Coast is different than the West Coast. I'm finally getting all the jokes and comparisons. And our first stop on our independent tour of the East Coast was our capital, Washington DC. Having already visited Paris, the similarity in city planning was obvious. The architecture is stellar. The history is palpable. Washington DC was clearly planned to be a formidable representation of American democracy.

I found myself simultaneously proud and ashamed of my country while wandering the halls of her capital city. While you can't help but admire what our nation's forefathers intended and fought to establish, their efforts also make the current corruption more angering. On one hand, the city represents a government for the people, by the people. On the other hand, the abuse of money and power is just as obvious. I left DC feeling even more torn about my country as I did before I arrived.

From a travel perspective, the word I would use to describe DC is potential. The city was planned and that fact is evident. It's beautiful and rich in architecture and history; there is so much to celebrate. However, instead of coming across as a celebration, the city feels more like an obligation. Everyone is SO serious, wearing only business suits, walking briskly like drones. In every other worldwide city I've ever visited, everyone is dressed uniquely, reading different things, listening to different music, having conversations about everything. Every conversation we overheard in DC, every ad we saw, every single thing had something to do with politics or finance. It was almost like the city MUST be about nothing but government; no other personality allowed. Even the Metro stations are bland and dark and blah. The neighbourhoods have occasional refreshing flair, but after four days, I found that I was psychologically exhausted from having to be so somber all the time.

My biggest beef with DC, however, is the Metro. Or more accurately, the lack thereof. When it was there, it was great. The local station near our hotel worked well, and I can see how the system services the commuters efficiently. But the lack of usable stations in and around the tourist core makes for some serious traveler frustration. I've never walked so much in my entire life with a valid unlimited Metrocard in my pocket.

DC is eye-opening; I think every American should visit once to gain perspective and appreciation of our young country. Overall, I did enjoy myself while I was there. But I'm comfortable checking the city off my travel list. I'm just not interested in money and politics enough to sustain a return trip.
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