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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.

guide

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.

guide

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.

In keeping with our sister theme, we wanted to introduce you to our new sister-in-law, Kelley!  She has put together a three-part city guide to Los Angeles and it is fantastic.  Without further adieu, here is Kelley:

guide

Since moving to Los Angeles over a year ago, we have had a steady stream of visitors looking to escape the cold weather or just spend some time on the west coast. I love having people come visit, because it gives me a chance to show off our city and all the things that make it such an amazing place to live. One of my favorite aspects of this city is that each neighborhood is like a city unto itself. There’s so much to see and each day you can have a different experience, just depending on where you are in the city.

So, I decided to put together a city guide for you, highlighting a few of my favorite places in Los Angeles and offering you a chance to see some of the great places different neighborhood have to offer. This by no means is an exhaustive list, but it’s definitely a start.

THE WESTSIDE

We’ll start by working our way west to east, or as best I can. The Westside encompasses neighborhoods such as Santa Monica, Venice, Brentwood and the Pacific Palisades and is traditionally what someone pictures when they think of Los Angeles. The beach is obviously the main attraction, but the Westside also has some amazing restaurants and lots of culture as well.

to eat

Breakfast: Café Gratitude

This is one of Farrell’s favorite spots in LA, and for good reason. As someone who drinks a smoothie for breakfast nearly every morning, Café Gratitude’s smoothies cannot be beat. I suggest ordering the “I am Strong” smoothie, but if you need to have your morning coffee, the “I am Luscious” provides the caffeine pick-me-up you’ll need to keep you energized.

Lunch: Holy Guacamole Tacos

This is one of my favorite taco spots in the city and I nearly always take guests here when they come to visit. I first ate here when I was a tourist in LA and Teddy and I made sure to hunt it down as soon as we moved (we ate here the day after we settled into our apartment). The fried fish tacos are perfectly fresh and crunchy. Though there’s not much seating, you can usually squeeze into a spot across the street at the coffee shop and eat your tacos in peace.

Dinner: Sunny Spot

The Sunny Spot offers an open to close happy hour that cannot be beat. May I suggest ordering the yucca fries and the heirloom tomato salad. However, if you’re looking for something a little larger, the half jerk chicken is the way to go.

Drinks: The Bar at Hotel Erwin

Sweeping views of the city and ocean provide the perfect setting for a sunset cocktail after a long day.

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The Westside is teaming with activities for tourists and locals alike. Some landmarks, like Venice beach, are famous, some not as much. Below is a list of my favorite activities.

The Getty Center: Admission to this incredible museum is free (though parking is exorbitant). While the museum itself does have some incredible artwork, it’s more about the views and the tram ride up the side of the mountain.

The Santa Monica Pier: If you’re not too scared of Farris wheels, be sure to hop on this one. The views are truly incredible.

The Brentwood Country Mart: This quaint little shopping area is one of my favorites. Be sure to check out Sweet Rose Creamery for some of the best ice cream in the city.

The Venice Canals: You can rent a bike from someone on the beach and ride through the streets made famous by so many movies.

Playa del Rey Beach: This is my go –to beach in Los Angeles. Away from all the congestion of Venice and Santa Monica, Play del Rey offers a quite sanctuary next to Marina del Rey where you can watch the sail boats come in and out of the bay. The whole town feels like another city and reminds me of one of my favorite vacation spots, Anna Maria, FL.

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Image via here

Guys, I got turned onto this addictive game GeoGuessr and I had to tell you about it. Basically it randomly selects Google Earth images from around the world and let’s you scroll around and guess the location. Here are a few teasers (answers at the bottom).

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What do you think?  Nailed them?

From top to bottom: Sweeden, Thailand, Bulgaria, Japan, Canada, Ukraine

Play a round on your own here.

Around this time last year, I was in Peru with my family and on the beginning of our trip around the world. Sometimes it feels like the trip was all a dream – that it never happened to me. But then, I receive a Facebook message from someone I met in India or see a friend I met in Bali. It is in those moments that I am reminded how my world has changed and gotten so much smaller.

New Zealand

New Zealand

Thailand

Thailand

Turkey

Turkey

Serbia

Serbia

Italy

Italy

bday2

Australia

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