Two weekends ago I vacated to Boston/Cape Cod to enjoy the last bit of summer near one of my favorite landscapes – the beach. I was able to spend a few hours in Boston and Cambridge before I headed to Plymouth, MA/the Cape. In Cambridge I indulged in some local cuisine at the trendy restaurant Area Four (bacon and clam pizza, YUM!) with my ex-roommate who I miss so much, stared at the Frank Gehry designed buildings on the campus of M.I.T., and took entirely too many pictures of downtown Boston. Speaking of too many pictures, this trip will be split among two…maybe three post because I explored SO much during my time in Plymouth and Cape Cod. I hope you enjoy the pictures of Boston and Cambridge after the jump!
I just happened to be flipping through one of my favorite magazines and I decided I’d like to pay homage to it on this Travel Tuesday. I’m always shocked by the number of people who are unfamiliar with Garden & Gun because I think it is the only publication that covers all aspects of Southern culture from food, music, and travel to sporting life, fashion and the arts. While magazines like Southern Living and Country Living focus on the South as well, Garden & Gun differentiates itself by turning its attention to the lesser known artisans, chefs, and community leaders that are really making a difference in the South.
As I’ve noted in past posts, one of the reasons I started this blog was because I consider myself to be a Southern woman and I’d like to help shine a light on all of the great things about this region of America. More importantly, as a black woman, it’s very important to me to highlight all of the progressions made down South. That said, in an attempt to be as transparent as possible, I will document personal experiences where it seems the South has not progressed as much as I’d like to think. In my life thus far, the Southeastern United States has provided me with nothing but the kindest people I’ve ever met, delicious food, endless culture and a history that is far too interesting to be left up to interpretation by someone else. I want you to experience the South for yourself!
Here’s where Garden & Gun can help. I consider myself to be a bit of a Southern culture connoisseur yet I have learned so much from this publication. Beyond delicious recipes from iconic restaurants and legendary hole-in-the-wall joints, Garden & Gun has turned me on to Southern women redefining the term Southern Belle, where to get my gun engraved, and how to take a road trip. Additionally, I think G&G features some of the best photography in the biz. Check out a few of my favorite covers below as well as some great articles.
The Southern Agenda: Oct/Nov 2012 – great events and happenings down South this fall!
All images from www.gardenandgun.com
The above statements are completely unrelated other than the fact that they were highs and lows of my day on Wednesday. Let’s start with the low. As you can see I haven’t written since last Friday and that is due to the fact that my laptop has decided to pick a fight with me that I fear I am losing. Luckily the damage seems to only be physical, meaning that I can still fully use the laptop to write but the screen is almost off its hinges so I have issues closing it and therefore cannot travel with it. BUMMER. Any way, after taking my laptop to two different laptop doctors, the verdict was the same i.e. I may as well buy a new one instead of paying to get it repaired and be without it for 2-3 weeks. So lame.
Anyway, that small issue has prevented me from writing probably more out of mental exhaustion than physically being unable to write. That said, I did not completely abandon my travel peeps! I was so fortunate on Wednesday to participate in a luxury travel tweet up with luxury travel experts Erina Pidnar (@MissSmartFlyer), Stacy Smalls (@EliteTravelGal) and Tiffany Dowd (@luxetiffany). These ladies know their luxury travel and happen to have awesome connections with big wigs in the luxury travel industry who were happy to participate. The event went like this, Stacy tweeted out an amazing link that I had never used before called Tweetchat which is a service that allows you to type in the hashtag (or topic) that will be used in your chat and view all tweets in real-time that use the same hashtag. It’s an easy way to view what everyone in the chat is saying as well as read all questions posted by the chat moderators. When you want to tweet something in response to what is going on in the chat, the service automatically includes the chat’s hashtag onto your tweet. Could not be easier!
In this chat we discussed everything from what we love the most about fall travel, our favorite travel products this fall, and favorite fall destinations. I learned so much! It was also great to connect with other travel enthusiasts and I was able to gain a lot of new followers and find new people to follow on twitter. Even better, the three ladies made 4.7 million impressions during their first #traveluxe chat. That is FANTASTIC. Make sure to get involved for their next chat to be held on October 17th at 4:30 pm EST. The topic hasn’t been released yet but the hashtag will be #traveluxe and it is sure to be super fun!
Congrats on a great idea Tiffany, Stacy and Erina! I cannot wait until the next chat!
Check out a screen shot below of what Tweetchat looks like. It’s seriously so great and convenient. Have a great weekend!
Friday! I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to see you! Ha, kidding…we all know it was last week at this time. Anyway, I wanted to start out this Friday by sharing some love. I come across so many wonderful blogs by incredibly talented ladies (sorry guys! I’ll do a search for specific guy blogs soon) that I figured it was time to call them out. Most of the blogs that call to me are obviously travel blogs but the list below spans the range from travel to fashion to food. I think the main thing all of these blogs have in common is that there are some seriously smart, hilarious and genuine women behind them. I don’t know most of the women who run these blogs but I just want them to know that I’m a fan!
For your reference, these blogs are also listed in my blog roll on the right of your screen:
A Cup of Jo – Popular lifestyle writer Joanna Goddard maintains this blog that is simply about her lovely life in New York with her husband and son and the things she finds interesting…and I love it. Perhaps we are soul sisters. I’ve been entertained by posts about bathroom redecoration, fall clothes, her toddler son’s first soccer practice and most recently nutella-stuffed sea salt cookies. Delicious.
Hotel Belle – Hands down one of my favorite travel blogs. Hotel Belle Annie Fitzsimmons documents her personal travels as well as includes posts to her travel stories from Forbes, CNN, T + L and basically any other travel pub you’ve read before. Her posts are always informative and fun mixed with some sweet pictures.
Lost in Cheeseland – Paris is admittedly the one European city that I am borderline obsessed with yet so damn ashamed to admit it. I hate the fact that I am a typical 26-year-old girl with an uber romantic obsession with Paris but Lindsey’s awesomely named blog shows me that maybe Paris truly is as romantic as I’ve conceptualized in my head. She fell in love with a Parisian and moved to Paris for Christ’s sake! All slight sarcasm aside, Lindsey’s blog is great because it shows the REAL Paris. She also has a great feature every Friday called Franco File Friday’s where she spotlights other expats in France. Each of their experiences are very different but equally interesting.
Lyndsights – This. Girl. Is. Hilarious. I’ve been reading her blog for a few years now and to be honest some of her posts have gotten me through some tough and lonely nights when I first moved to NYC by making me crack up laughing at my laptop screen. Lyndsay writes about whatever she wants and you can tell she has fun doing it. She loves her life so much it inspires me to appreciate and love mine every day as well.
Nicole is the New Black – Ever since I discovered Nicole’s blog I’ve become obsessed with the idea of leaving it all behind and becoming an expat. Don’t worry, I still plan on seeing all 50 states 🙂 Nicole talks about the highs and lows of being an African-American woman in a foreign country and I so appreciate how real she is about everything. To quote journalist Dream Hampton, Nicole’s blog has shown me “that there are no borders to where a life can be built.”
So Delushious – Supermodel Chrissy Teigen’s tagline for this food blog is “personal random ramblings from a girl who loves bacon and can’t be fat”. Um. Subscribe. This girl is just awesome. In addition to being gorgeous and John Legend’s other (better?) half, she can cook her ass off. We’re talking freaking complicated dishes that turn out absolutely beautiful. My favorite part about this blog is that the recipe postings always include curse words of some sort, or some level of crudeness mixed with food porn images. She rocks.
Style Jaunt – Travel and fashion, you don’t have to give me much to keep me happy. All of Katarina’s posts are short and sweet but she does a great job of highlighting a wealth of topics that relate to traveling in style. The best beauty products, accessories, and outfits mixed with the coolest hotels and destinations make for the perfect travel blog for ladies.
Travel Junkie Julia – Spoiler alert! I love Julia Dimon. In addition to being a great friend, Julia is the ultimate adventure traveler. Nothing stops this girl from trying something or somewhere new and as a slightly timid traveler, her curiosity is something I will always respect. Also, I love that she flat-out talks about how addictive travel is! Most journalists try to over-intellectualize travel when in reality, it’s just FUN. I mean hey, if you’re going to be a junkie over something, I can’t think of a – better addiction to have than travel.
Wayfare – I won’t go into huge detail regarding Wayfare’s blog since I’ve already professed my love of this publication in a dedicated post (that may or may not have used the word “obsession”) but the blog portion of this magazine includes very cool stories that aren’t included in the magazine. Check it!
The other day I was reading my August/September issue of National Geographic Traveler, one of my favorite travel publications, and I came across an ad for Hilton Garden Inn that was publicizing a contest they are currently running called “Life’s Ultimate To-Do List”. Now, I know we all have to-do lists filled with daily mundane tasks, but have you ever sat down to think about what is your travel to-do list? I found it interesting that this ad started out posing the question: “Did you know that most Americans have a special destination they dream of visiting? They want to see the world and are ready to cross a location off their list this year. So what’s on your bucket list?”*Most people consider a travel to-do list to be a “bucket list” but my fear with that term is that people will put off their travel goals until they are literally about to kick the bucket! What’s wrong with taking advantage of our youth and crossing some of these destinations of our to-do list now? Don’t tell me youth is truly wasted on the young! People make up so many excuses that prevent them from traveling – lack of time, lack of money, etc. but the truth is, we put our energy towards our priorities so if you want to make travel a priority in your life, you’ll do it. I also feel that many Americans place international destinations on their ultimate to-do list without even considering creating a travel to-do list of domestic destinations. This country has so many different and interesting cultures, people and landscapes worth discovering! No passport required.
I’ve put together a snapshot of my American ultimate to-do list. Some destinations/experiences are in states I’ve never visited while other states deserve a second, third and fourth visit.
Shayla’s Ultimate To Do List – Americana version
- Visit the Lorraine Motel in Memphis – now a museum
- Wear a giant hat to the Kentucky Derby
- Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
- Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
- Drive for a significant period of time on Route 66
- Ben & Jerry’s factory, Vermont (um. duh.)
- Camping in Big Sky Montana
- Nike campus in Oregon
- Jet ski in Lake Michigan
- Dog sledding in Alaska
- Embark on a cross-country road trip across the Northern half of America – New York to San Fran
- Spend a few nights at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC
- Go on a food crawl in Charleston, SC/Lowcountry SC and across Louisiana
- Yosemite National Park
- Hot air balloon ride or helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon!
What do you think of this small part of my list? What places and experiences are on yours? Leave me a note below!
*Quote taken from Hilton Garden Inn. This is not a sponsored post.
Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. I spent my weekend spiffing up this here blog (I hope you like the changes!), catching up on old episodes of Revenge a.k.a. the best show on television, practicing yoga, and watching football. All in all I’d say the relaxation factor was at a high.
In NYC we had a few storms over the weekend, helping to kick-start the fall season. The temperatures have dropped a bit and I even saw a few leaves changing. As you know, I’ve had leaf peeping on my brain since mid-August so I decided that for today’s Monday memory I’d revisit one of the best leaf peeping destinations I’ve ever been to – Cooperstown, NY. A couple of years ago I had the wonderful fortune of acting as a public relations representative for the destination of Cooperstown, NY. I tell you that to say that I am a bit biased when it comes to this destination but previous work relationship aside, I truly feel that this town is one of the best in America. I’m not a baseball fan at all which is why prior to working for the agency that represented Cooperstown, I had never heard of it. To be honest with you, I didn’t think I’d find anything interesting about the town that is the home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Baseball has never been my favorite pastime (I find it rather boring) but all it took was one four-hour drive to Coops for me to fall head over heels in love.
Cooperstown is so much more than the Baseball Hall of Fame. For starters it has such an interesting history with its ties to author James Fenimore Cooper as well as a strong Native American history. Additionally, much of the town surrounds Lake Otsego, also known as “Glimmerglass Lake” in Cooper’s famed novel The Last of the Mohicans, providing a gorgeous backdrop (and a pretty sweet way to view the foliage by boat!). Although the Baseball Hall of Fame is a splendid way to spend a day in Cooperstown, the town also offers a world-class art museum in the Fenimore Art Museum (one of their most interesting exhibits this fall is called On the Home Front: New York in the Civil War), as well as a fully operating 19th century village by way of The Farmers’ Museum. Cooperstown has a haunted history making it the perfect destination for Halloween visits. The Farmers’ Museum hosts a super creepy Things That Go Bump in the Night tour and Candlelight Ghost Tours are available by private companies.
In addition to beautiful fall foliage for leaf peeping, Cooperstown and the surrounding area is home to classic fall activities such as apple picking, pumpkin picking, and beer tasting. My absolute favorite orchard is Middlefield Orchard, located in Middlefield, NY, about a 15 to 20 minute drive from Cooperstown. The gorgeous orchard spans for acres of you-pick apples, raspberries, pumpkins and squash. Owners Willy and Joan also sell a varieties of homemade specialty jams in flavors such as Pear Lime and Strawberry Rhubarb. A trip to Ommegang Brewery is a must for craft beer lovers of the world. I’ve met people at Ommegang who made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown just to visit the famous Belgian brewery. The brewery offers tours on the hour and recently added a new cafe so you can kick back and enjoy a beer flight over a bowl of mussels and frites.
I could honestly talk about Cooperstown all day but the point of this blog is that I want you to see for yourself! As a representative of the destination I was able to stay at the pièce de résistance of Cooperstown, the Otesaga Resort Hotel. From the front portico supported by massive 30-foot columns to the row of rocking chairs on the back veranda offering sweeping views of Lake Otsego, the 103-year-old Grand Dame resort instantly transports its guests to a time of classic elegance. The resort is all-Americana with little touches such as coffee and fresh cookies everyday at 4pm and jackets require for men for dinner in the Main Dining Room. As accommodations at the resort include a dining package, rates can be a bit steep starting at $345 per night, including dinner and breakfast. The Cooper Inn is an excellent alternative bed & breakfast style lodging option just down the road with rates starting at $115 per night. Guests at The Cooper Inn can enjoy recreational activities at the Otesaga including golf, tennis and swimming. Mixed pictures of two separate fall trips to Cooperstown are below! Where are you headed to leaf peep this fall? Let me know below!
Oh my goodness this has been the longest, short week ever! I feel like everything in the world happened this week. Let’s list it out shall we? There was Beyonce’s birthday (yes, I celebrated this), Andy Roddick‘s retirement, the start of football season, the Democratic National Convention (can we all just agree that Michelle, Bill, and Barack’s speeches were all events on their own?), the start of New York Fashion Week, and the MTV Video Music Awards! I’m sure I’m forgetting something but I’m just too tired to think about it. This week has exhausted me! Anyway, if you’ve got some time to read, laugh and shop online this weekend, here are a few of my favorite links from this past week. Let me warn you in advance that they are Beyonce and Jay Z heavy…I just love them.
Well these need to happen.
I die. Can’t handle the cuteness
Held hostage by pirates, now back at sea. Setting sail on a new journey. Literally.
Have a lovely weekend…
Ohhhh fall. I love you so much because you bring me so many of my favorite things. Colorful leaves, crisp weather, riding boots, lush clothing in rich colors, and FOOTBALL!! The 2012-2013 football season kicked off this past Wednesday with arguably America’s most polarizing team, the Dallas Cowboys taking on – and defeating – the New York Giants. I could not be happier that football season is upon us. Nothing brings me greater joy than knowing that I can now structure my Sundays (and on occasion Monday nights) around watching my favorite sport for hours on end.
Football has been one of my favorite sports since I was old enough to watch it with my Dad and scream (usually repeating whatever he said) at the television. I still remember being around four or five years old and watching football with my Dad and asking “what does 3rd and 6 mean?” and listening intently as he patiently explained the rules to a game I’d never play but learn to love so much. My love of football has grown to the point where although I will forever be a Redskins fan, I can thoroughly enjoy watching a game regardless of who is playing. At the age of 13, I had my first experience of crying over a football game due to a broken heart after Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans lost in Superbowl XXXIV and can still hear screams of “NOOOOOOOO” throughout our house as Kevin Tyson fell one yard short of the goal line. I later cried tears of joy when the New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl shortly after their city was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and when my favorite player, famed Redskins cornerback Darrell Green was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Football has always been a sport that just stirs something deep inside of me. I can’t quite put my finger on what about it resonates with me so much. Perhaps because the sport itself is so uniquely American (no other country really plays it or gives it a cultural significance the way Americans do), or maybe just the team aspect…the fact that these men spend their entire lives training for one game, one moment (the Super Bowl). Also, when it comes to actually attending games, it’s such a spectacle! There are teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders where going to a game on Sunday is literally an event that some people check off their bucket lists. The whole experience is just so much deeper than the sport itself. Secretly, one of my dreams is to attend a game in every single NFL stadium. How AWESOME of a road trip would that be? Think of all the states I’d hit!
I’m a ride ’til I die Redskins fan and I’ll admit that we do have a love/hate relationship, but who’s your team? Who do you think will take the ‘ship this year? Leave me a comment below!
Tumbleweed Tuesday. That is how Montauk residents refer to today, also known as the day that their hometown becomes significantly less inhabited by visitors. That’s fine, I get it. As a transplant New Yorker, I now consider this city my home and I have to deal with tourists 365 days of the year. I live in one of the most popular shopping neighborhoods in Manhattan so this is no exaggeration. I understand that tourists can get in the way, prevent you from doing your daily activities with speed, and overall just be a pain in the ass BUT would I want them to stop coming? Seeing that in 2011, New York City set a tourism record with over 50 million visitors (and their dollars), I’d have to say no…keep on coming. I say all this to make a point about Montauk that can be summarized in one statement – gorgeous setting, rude and ungrateful locals.
Now, as a Montauk local, it’s one thing to secretly welcome “Tumbleweed Tuesday” but it’s completely another to have signs posted around town to remind visitors that all you want is for them to leave. Mind you, when you boil it down, this is a small fishing town that completely relies on the summer season to boost their economy. I think it’s safe to say that no one would care at all about Montauk if it weren’t for the clean beaches, awesome seafood shacks, great surf in Ditch Plains and wonderful natural surroundings that are so easily enjoyed in warm weather. The only thing missing was friendly people! I repeatedly saw rudeness and impatience from employees in stores and restaurants and personally experienced unfathomable rudeness from a local who opened their car door and literally almost knocked me off my bike and into the street and then yelled at me, deciding that the incident was entirely my fault. The argument ended with him telling me to “go back where I came from” and to be honest with you, in a town that isn’t very diverse, it was difficult for me to interpret what that comment really meant…but I guess I’ll give the idiot the benefit of the doubt.
I say all this to say that Montauk…you really are a beautiful place. I spent time running, hiking, biking, and swimming and could not have enjoyed myself more regarding all of the activities your town has to offer. I did meet some people who were genuinely friendly, and I enjoyed dinners at cute seafood shacks and iced coffees from my new favorite named coffee shop “Coffee Tauk” (tauk like Montauk, get it?). I think that Montauk has a very interesting history, especially indicated by my time at the Montauk Point Lighthouse where I learned not only about the Native American history of the area, but also that the well-known slave ship, Amistad docked in Montauk after the slaves overtook control of the ship from their captors. I also spent time reading about the fishing history of the tip of the island and paid my respect to fisherman lost at sea.
Overall, I’d give this trip a 7 out of 10. I was able to partake in all of the activities that I wanted to do, but I also felt like I could have done them anywhere…or at least in any beach town along the eastern seaboard. More importantly, I firmly believe that in travel, the people you meet are really what make an experience in a destination. Unfortunately, because of this belief, I don’t feel the need to ever visit Montauk again. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but not only was I not expecting unfriendly people but around about 5pm the bars in downtown Montauk turn into packed fist-pumping sloppiness. There were more than a few moments where I thought I had been accidentally placed in the Jersey Shore! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Everyone vacations differently and a giant party is what a lot of people like, but for me it’s not my cup of tea. I think my problem was that I was expecting to feel transported from a lot of my everyday, but the bottom line is perhaps I was just a New Yorker among other rude New Yorkers. Oh well! Pictures of my adventures in Montauk are below. Have you been to Montauk before? What did you think? Would love to see your comments below.