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I hope you won’t mind indulging me in one more set of pictures from Cartagena (yesterday’s set here).  New York City looked so cool and quirky to me on my way home last night.  As much as I enjoy exploring a new place and experiencing another culture, I equally love and appreciate returning home to see my own surroundings with a fresh perspective.  If it’s been awhile since you’ve been anywhere, take at least a day and get out of town!

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IMG_3967 I’m back in New York after a relaxing, sweaty week in Cartagena, Colombia. I most loved the colors of this highly walkable city. We stayed in a sweet guesthouse in Getsemani, a once run down and dangerous neighborhood that is now home to many delicious restaurants, small hostels and hotels and lots of street murals. During the day young kids played soccer in the neighborhood square; at night people sat along its perimeter eating and drinking from food carts.

When we weren’t in Getsemani, we were a short walk away exploring the windy streets of the walled-in colonial old city. It was so hot during the afternoons that we were constantly stopping to eat or drink something. The food was delicious, fresh fruit and juice is available at almost every turn. We ate amazing ceviche, arepas and empanadas from street vendors, drank limonada de coco (coconut limeaid) and, my favorite, fresh strawberry-lychee juice.

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My time at home was awesome. Ohio was greener than ever. There were so many wonderful things about being home. Here are just a few:

Swimming in Lake Erie and learning about the water snakes.

Ate BBQ at Famous Dave’s in Cedar Point.

Had a sunset golf cart ride through Put In Bay.

Made french toast, drank coffee and waiting for the storms to pass in Huron.

Saw a Friday Night Flick in Lakewood park and sat by the water and looked at the super moon.

Had two wonderful family dinners in our back yard and watched the sunsets.

Biked the Towpath on Albert’s birthday.

 

I had the mostly lovely weekend in New Mexico for the bachelorette of my beautiful friend Alison. With all of the planning and logistics I never really thought about the fact that I would be going to New Mexico for the first time. I really loved it. The drive from Denver to Taos was so gorgeous. The mountains and the plains were unreal. Overall, the whole weekend was so great and I recommend Taos to anyone who is interested. Here are some of my favorite parts from the weekend:

Downtown Taos

Downtown Taos

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The Rio Grande

The Rio Grande

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Ojo Caliente Hot Springs

Ojo Caliente Hot Springs

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The Stars

The Stars

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These girls

These girls

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I’m back in NYC after a great trip to Cleveland for Christmas followed by ten days in Thailand with some of my best friends in the world.  I was feeling strangely anxious going into the trip but lemme tell ya, the picturesque Thai beaches put that nonsense to rest in no time!

IMG_2224We spent the first half of the trip on an island called Koh Lanta.  We rented motor bikes and basically spent the days driving around and exploring various beaches along the coast.

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New Year’s Eve fireworks

Watching the first sunset of 2014

Watching the first sunset of 2014

After Koh Lanta, a couple of us headed off to Railay Beach.  Farrell said Railay was her favorite place in Thailand and i completely understand why.  Surrounded by these enormous jutting cliffs, Railay is both stunning and super relaxing.

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Long boats at low tide

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This trip reminded me that I never regret getting out there and seeing the world, despite all the life factors that can play in my mind against doing so.  I was also reminded that there’s no shame in taking a straight-up beach vacation!  There’s nothing I love more than running around mostly barefoot and loosing track of days.

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I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start and that we all have more than a few scenic sunsets by the beach in 2014!

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Over the past two weeks we’ve run installments of the thoughtfully detailed Los Angeles city guide that our sister-in-law, Kelley, created. Today marks her final neighborhood wrap-up. If you missed either of the others, you can check out the guide to L.A.’s Westside here and Downtown here.

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EAST LA including LOS FELIZ, SILVERLAKE, HOLLYWOOD and ECHO PARK

This is the area of LA I call home and, in my opinion, the best place to live. East LA offers a culture of people that are hip, artsy and inviting. There’s always something going on in one of these neighborhoods and celebrity sightings are frequent! While I’ll offer some of the best tourist attractions in my list below, the true vibe of this neighborhood can best be felt by walking around and exploring the numerous shops, restaurants and farmers markets.

to eat

Breakfast: Forage. What can I say about Forage other than its fresh, seasonal fare makes it by far my favorite spot for breakfast/brunch in the city. Each Sunday, Teddy always asks me where I want to go and my answer is always the same, Forage. Their menu changes constantly, but one of my favorite staples is the fig and chevre tartine. Creamy and rich, it’s the perfect balance between breakfast and lunch. And for dessert, they have CRONUTS.

Lunch: The Oaks. Located in Franklin Village, the Oaks has awesome sandwiches, salads, cheese and wines. I recommend the couscous salad, a staple of my diet that I pick up at least once a week for lunch. Be sure to look across the street as you exit at the Scientology Celebrity Center, a towering mansion that hosts some of the biggest Scientology celebrities.

Dinner: Hyperion Public. This little restaurant has by far one of the best burgers in the city. With a relaxed atmosphere, you can get some of the best food in LA without all of the pretention that comes with other restaurants in the area.

what doWhat to See:

Griffith Park & Observatory: Located directly behind our apartment, Griffith Park is a huge block of land with plenty of hiking trails that lead straight up to the observatory. You can choose to hike or drive up, but this is a must-see in our neck of the woods.

Sunset Junction: Farrell lives right near this hip little city center. With plenty of shops and restaurants, this area will keep you busy for an hour or two in the afternoon and provide you with a great place to find some unique LA souvenirs.

The Silverlake reservoir: Not something you expect to see in the middle of a neighborhood, the Silverlake reservoir offers a nice waterside retreat in east LA. You can jog or walk around the 2 mile path and enjoy views of the cool architecture and parks nearby.

Hollywood Homes Tour: This is a must-do on at least one of your visits to LA. Though it’s extremely touristy, the Hollywood Homes Tour (and the TMZ tour) takes you to homes of the rich and famous. When we went, we saw Orlando Bloom and Tom Cruise’s homes, just to name a few.

Barnsdall Art Park: Also right down the street from my apartment, Barnsdall Art Park offers a plethora of activities and hikes available to visitors of all ages. On Friday nights in the summer, they also offer a wine tasting from local vendor, Silverlake Wines. Afterward, Vermont and Hillhurst Streets are close by, offering more opportunities to shop.

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Thank you, Kelley!  xo

Last week we ran part one: The Westside of the awesome Los Angeles city guide that our sister-in-law put together.  Today Kelley is taking us downtown!  Enjoy.

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DOWNTOWN

While most cities consider their downtown the hub of their city, this is not so true in Los Angeles. Only recently has downtown LA really started to create a name for itself, and I’m excited to see what more the area will have to offer in the coming years.

to eat

Breakfast:  Handsome Coffee Roasters in the downtown LA arts district offers a wide selection of pastries in addition to their awesome coffee.

Lunch: Head over to Chinatown and pick up some food from one of the delicious street vendors followed by dessert from one of the many candy shops.

Dinner: Church and State. Full disclosure, I haven’t actually been here, but I have heard it’s amazing and maybe if you’re visiting you can take me with you! This restaurant would be great for a fancy night out. However, if you’re looking for something more casual….

Wurstkuche: This is a place I have actually been, and one of my favorites. They also have a location on the Westside, but the downtown spot is great after a late night at the bar. Be sure to get the Houblon Chouffe on tap, it’s one of Teddy’s favorite beers and a must try.

what do

The Arts District: This will be more like an area you walk around after you grab your morning coffee, but it’s definitely not an area to be missed. With an up and coming scene, this area of LA feels more like New York or Brooklyn. Check out some of the intricate street art lining the walls of every building and be sure to stop into Hammer and Spear, in my opinion, one of the coolest stores in Los Angeles.

Chinatown: This is just one of those places you have to see. To my own amazement, I only went to Chinatown for the first time a few months ago when my friend, Ally, came to visit. With its endless junk shops and open air fish markets, it was really a sight to behold.

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art): This is another spot I haven’t gotten to visit yet, but I hear it’s definitely worth your time.

The American Apparel Factory Store: Only open during the summer, the American Apparel factory is located in downtown. When you first arrive, you’ll think you went to the wrong location, but follow the signs up the stairs, past the machines and you will behold endless rows and bins of American Apparel items at prices you can actually afford.

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