travel tip: explore neighborhoods in your own city

astoria main photo

As I mentioned in this post, my friend came to visit one weekend. She’s familiar with New York (went to NYU); however, like all good New Yorkers you get accustomed to your own neighborhood and settings and don’t always venture out to explore other parts of the city. This is especially true of Manhattanites.

On a whim, we decided to break the mold and go explore a neighborhood neither of us had ever visited ~ Astoria, Queens. First impressions, trying to get out there and back on the weekend sucked! Badly! None of the typical trains were running (N, Q, M) so we had to take the 7 and then take a shuttle bus there and back. Not fun!

As this was an on-the-whim exploration, we didn’t have a set itinerary or complete grasp of where to go. After a quick Google search and reading TimeOut New York and Yelp reviews, we were off. We started at the landmark Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. I’m not a beer drinker, but when in Rome….It was cool (literally, it was breezy outside) but that didn’t stop anyone. They had performances by local Astoria artists and folks were out there having a good time eating, dancing, drinking and with no issues or crazy drunkenness ensuing. Astoria did “Stand Up” to shoot final scenes of a documentary. Oh, and the pierorgies were good too!

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After leaving the “garden party”, sans big hats and Chanel suits, we took a walk down the street to see more of the neighborhood and to visit one of the neighborhood’s noted vintage boutiques, Loveday 31. With hip hop sounds filling the quaint space and racks of wonderfully curated and affordable vintage pieces (I found a vintage Christian Dior blouse for only $30 in there!), this is definitely a place to visit if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

Due to MTA’s inefficiency in providing transportation sources, we didn’t have too much time to explore other parts of the neighborhood as we had to get back to get ready for dinner reservations. Overall, in my short stint there, the neighborhood was very quiet and much more residential. Definitely felt like a community, but some parts looked like it could use some love and updating. You can see potential, but the overall vibe just wasn’t my full cup of tea…




sunday surfing: tampa edition

Tampa-Mural-at-NightThe weather has finally warmed up in the northeast so my upcoming trip to Tampa doesn’t hold the same “I need to escape from the polar vortex” feel it held just a couple of weeks ago. However, it’s been awhile since I’ve been on a plane so I’m ready to take off and enjoy the “Sunshine State”. Even if it’s for work.

So, for this week’s links I decided to share a few of my favorite places to visit in Tampa:

  1. First and foremost, COLUMBIA RESTAURANT. No trip to Tampa is complete without having dinner at Florida’s Oldest Restaurant. From flamenco dancing to paella and savory sangria ~ you won’t be disappointed with this place!
  2. YBOR CITY, Tampa’s “Latin Quarter” is pretty much the only hip, cool part of town.
  3. Looking for a cute coffee shop by morning and bar by afternoon and night? Check out THE BRICKS OF YBOR. They have great sandwiches too!
  4. A favorites list isn’t complete without talking about where to shop, now is it? I typically avoid malls, but I haven’t found any cute boutiques in Tampa on previous trips, so the INTERNATIONAL PLAZA will have to do.
  5. If you need a break from the convention area scene ~ take the drive to Tampa’s only “boat up” beach. WHISKEY JOE’S BAREFOOT BAR screams remove all business attire and just relax!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of what Tampa has to offer. But, I have to be honest ~ Tampa isn’t exactly one of my favorite cities to visit.

If there are other places I need to check out that might change my opinion, please sound off in the comments! I’m always open to try something new.

Happy Sunday!


oreo beignets…the dessert that binds

rue 57 oreo beignets  Over the weekend, one of my best friends came up to visit. During one of her previous visits, we were searching for a restaurant she went to with friends ~ she couldn’t remember the name. Therefore, we couldn’t find the restaurant. But what we did find, was a great restaurant with THE BEST dessert.That’s one of the things I love most about New York, finding those random spots that then become “your” spot. And that’s exactly what Rue 57 is for us. It’s our spot, and our oreo beignets. #nomnom

sunday surfing

photo credit: passports & visa

photo credit: passports & visa

This week has been more mentally exhausting than any other in recent memory ~ new boss and lots going on with my family. However, instead of feeling defeated and pessimistic, I feel the distinct opposite. I have to say daily meditation has helped me tackle challenges with a clear and calm mind…

Alright onward and upward, here are a few links I clicked on this week:

  1. You’re next SELFIE could inspire an entire clothing line. (Under Armor)
  2. We all love a numbered list, so here are 10 WAYS TO LIVE AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE. (Be More With Less)
  3. What does your logo’s color say about you? (Fast Company)
  4. Do you find mediocrity hard? Well Phoebe Philo does. READ WHY. (The Guardian)
  5. We’re almost a quarter of the way through 2014, but it’s not too late to learn the most important TRAVEL TRENDS for the year. (Travel + Leisure)

Happy surfing! Hope you learned something new or at least interesting!

weekly photo challenge: street life

all roads lead to alcatraz??

all roads lead to alcatraz??

I’m in a blogging state of mind this week and decided to partake in the Weekly Photo Challenge. When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is walk the streets of the city, get the vibe of the city and see the sites. In San Francisco, there were many streets (a.k.a. hills to walk and many sites and views to see). Not sure if you’d consider Alcatraz a “beautiful” view but it’s definitely a site to see…



my first film festival…and it was of the colombian variety

colombian film festival 2014

I ventured out in the monsoon that was Saturday. The plan? First, drinks and apps. Then, the film festival. I have to say while getting drenched in my brief stints outside, I has second thoughts about venturing to Tribeca and had serious thoughts of Uber or throwing out my hand and jumping in the next taxi heading uptown. But, I’m glad I changed my mind.

As part of my daily routine, I read the “what you should know today” post by The New York Times and learn about some of the cool things happening in the city like The Colombian Film Festival ~ 6 days, 14 fiction films, 20 short films, 4 documentaries and 3 Latin American Blockbusters. It’s a lot to read all through of the summaries and settle on one, so I did some scientific factoring to narrow down the field: what day could I actually make it to the festival? what movies are playing that day? read summaries of said movies. choose 1. I decided on Simone, which was one of the fictional films and explored the idea of sexual freedom. It was in Portuguese, with English subtitles. I had my doubts on being able to follow along after eating and drinking, luckily the film was relatively light on words and more focused on the interaction between characters. I’m no film critic, so I won’t give my 2 cents per se but I will say I like how festivals give you a chance to interact with the director, Juan Zapata in this case.

With one under my belt, l might try out the big leagues next time ~ Tribeca…tiff…hell, maybe even Sundance or Cannes (a girl can dream, can’t she?).

sunday surfing


sunday surfing 3 30 14

photo credit: passports & visa

As Spring is taking it’s sweet ‘ole time to get here, I simply retreat to my thoughts of hopping on a plane or train to head to a much, much warmer climate. With the polar vortex that has over stayed its welcome, I’m really looking forward to an upcoming work trip to Tampa. I mean, at least I know the weather will be warm! So, this week’s links all have a travel theme of sorts. Whether you’re planning Memorial Day weekend getaways or summer vacations, you might just pick up a tip or two. Happy Sunday Surfing!

  1.  Always have a connection when booking a flight? HERE are some tips on the best way to book a connecting flight.
  2. Airbnb is one of the hottest companies in the market right now. Learn more about their grand HOTEL plans.
  3. THIS article will make you think twice, the next time you step foot on a plane.
  4. Are you a nomad? wanderer? explorer? vagabond? If so, here’s the TRUTH about you.
  5. With the ongoing search for answers around the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, THIS article asking if air travel is too safe might seem like a paradox.
  6. And to round out today’s list ~ a bucket list of BEACH vacations.

travel tip: take the train

amtrak - go by train

I read an article and it got me thinking. What’s more classical of a trip than taking a train ride? Not much, unless an airline builds a replica TWA or PanAm plane so those of us who hold the nostalgia of a time far before our time, can relieve that time even if it’s just for one flight.

While Amtrak may have it’s challenges (non-reserved seats, spotty wi-fi, can be a tad expensive) there’s a certain charm traveling by train still holds. I travel between NY and DC frequently and have to say the train is my first choice because for every challenge it has, there is a perk ~ big comfy seats, views of cities and towns whizzing by, and more baggage…less hassle. I mean I can show up 20 minutes before, I don’t have to take off my shoes, pull out my laptop, or deal with possibility of being one of TSA’s “picks of the day”.

Instead of taking that bucket-list, cross-country road trip, how about a cross-country train ride (conjuring up images of Carrie and Samantha from Sex and the City) instead? It might not be the most glamorous, but would definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, for you writers out there Amtrak is trying to up it’s ante and I presume social-media status – they’re offering free rides for writers. Don’t believe me? Read this.

So, what say you? Would you consider taking the train for your next trip?


sunday surfing

This week’s sunday surfing post has a different twist to it. Yesterday, I attended the Barney’s Saturday Series (#BNYUWS) on the UWS. Haven’t heard of it? Learn more about it here; essentially it’s a chance for shoppers to meet, greet and get first-hand tips from the week’s chosen designers.

This week Marissa Webb and Jennifer Fisher were the hosts and not only are they seriously talented designers in women’s ready-to-wear and jewelry (respectively) but seriously cool as well. They were both approachable, fun-loving and super stylish!

Enough of my diatribe, on to the links so you can go learn more about these super women as well:



  • Shop her rocker chic line HERE.
  • I have my eye on this NECKLACE and this CUFF, which Jennifer helped me try on yesterday, how cool is that?
  • Learn about her story and effervescent bad-assness here and here. Sorry, but totally jealous of her Tribeca digs….this is what dreams (at least mine) are made of.