Wonder at the Renwick

For all the time I spend mentally planning trips around the world, I don’t do nearly enough exploring in my own city (which is by all accounts a wonderful place to explore—it topped Lonely Planet’s list of must-visit destinations in 2015). Lately, I’ve tried to change that and become more of a tourist in my own (adopted) town. After all, I’ve only lived here a year and a half—I still have that newcomer sense of wonder when I take the time to consciously appreciate my surroundings.

But for those Washingtonians (or visitors) who might be a bit more jaded about #ThisTown, the newly-reopened Renwick Gallery is making a strong effort to revive a sense of wonder in everyone.  Continue reading “Wonder at the Renwick”

Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle

With DC currently getting wrecked by the Snowpocalypse/Snowzilla/Chersnowbyl disaster, and my right arm less-than-functional after I slipped spectacularly on some ice earlier this week, it feels like the right time to recap my quick trip to Iceland.

I didn’t really mean to go to Iceland. After cobbling together the cheapest possible flights—one of the very first WOW Air flights from BWI to Reykjavik, then EasyJet to Luton—I ended up with a day’s stopover there. A quick pit stop en route to the UK.

But ever since, I’ve been telling everyone who asks (and too many who don’t) that they need to visit this spectacular country. And I keep seeing BWI-KEF flights for less than $300 and getting impulsive ideas. What I saw in one day was breathtaking. Continue reading “Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle”

Test Driving Megabus Gold

Experiences with Megabus in the States did not make me eager to try its European counterpart. It’s at best cramped and at worst unbelievably unreliable (or, you know, deadly—it’s hard to forget one unfortunate encounter between a bus and a bridge near my hometown).

But as I struggled to fit a day in Edinburgh into my most recent trip to the UK, I knew I was going to have to travel back to London overnight to make it work. My options were the cheapest possible ticket on a Caledonian Sleeper train (too expensive), a seat on a regular overnight Megabus (too uncomfortable)… or a bunk on the relatively new Megabus Gold service. Continue reading “Test Driving Megabus Gold”

12 Hours in Edinburgh

I’ve been desperate to visit Scotland for years, and I was determined to finally get there on my most recent trip to the UK. But with just a few days overseas and my trip to Highclere inflexible, I found myself with only one day to spend there. I’ve done quick city breaks in the past (a day in San Francisco here, a day in Amsterdam there), but trying to see Edinburgh in just 12 hours was probably my most ambitious to date.

Here’s what I managed to fit in. Continue reading “12 Hours in Edinburgh”

Christmas at Downton Abbey

As my long-suffering Twitter followers are very well aware, I’ve been full of feelings about ITV’s soapy costume drama masterpiece Downton Abbey for, uh, a few years now. I think my social media #brand has basically been narrowed to obnoxious Downton content, so this fall, to do some field work with the series finale imminent, I made it my mission to visit Highclere Castle—real-life Downton Abbey—on one of their few winter opening days.

After some failed attempts when I actually lived in England, I managed to snap up a ticket for the December 6 opening, which was how I found myself booking my second transatlantic voyage of 2015. That drew not-so-thinly-veiled judgment from coworkers, friends, and a UKBA agent, but you know what? Worth it. Continue reading “Christmas at Downton Abbey”

30 Hours in San Francisco

After abandoning this blog for nearly two years(!), an adventure-filled 2015 (and, with any luck, a similarly exciting 2016 ahead) made me think I should get back to documenting what I get up to in a medium other than the series of postcards I end up mailing back to my apartment in DC.

One of this year’s excursions? A whirlwind 30ish hours in San Francisco, capping off my busiest month at work with a decidedly un-leisurely city break. Continue reading “30 Hours in San Francisco”

Travel Nostalgia in the Kitchen: Sticky Toffee Pudding

There are a lot of foods I missed when I was in the UK. Cheez-Its were nowhere to be found, Reese’s Puffs cost £10 a box at the local candy shop, and of course I missed the coffee and chocolates from my favorite local shops in Oswego. But now that I’ve been back for nearly 7 months, I think I’d gladly trade all that for my favorite British foods — Cadbury dairy milk bars, Ribena, prawn cocktail crisps, quality tea, and of course sticky toffee pudding.

Sticky toffee pudding is not, in the American sense, pudding. It’s not custard-y and it doesn’t come from one of those little Jell-O mixes. If it was, I wouldn’t miss it a bit, because that shit is gross. Thing is, in the UK, just like biscuit doesn’t mean something savory that you serve with chicken, pudding doesn’t mean what you think it means either. Sticky toffee pudding is like a super-moist sponge cake and it is delicious. It’s also kind of ubiquitous there — I first tried it at the Stanmer Tea Rooms, and when I was too lazy to hike over the hill to get some there, I’d pick up a package of it at the Co-op and stick it in the microwave for dinner. #responsibleadult Continue reading “Travel Nostalgia in the Kitchen: Sticky Toffee Pudding”

25 Minutes in Brooklyn

My best defense against people who accuse me of being a huge hipster d-bag is the fact that I’ve spent all of maybe four of the 187,564 hours I’ve been alive (yes, I did just look that up specifically for this purpose) in Brooklyn. I’m a plebe who just likes wandering around the Met and tracking down Wafels & Dinges and stuff when I go into the city. But last Friday I was feeling at least sort of adventurous and ventured to Brooklyn for a few minutes by way of the Brooklyn Bridge. This sounds super corny until you find out that although I’m a lifelong resident of New York State and a three-year temporary occupant of the tri-state area, that was my first time crossing that bridge.

Maybe it’s still super corny.

Who am I kidding, it was totally corny, but it also lived up to the massive hype, and it got one more thing on my senior year bucket list accomplished. Continue reading “25 Minutes in Brooklyn”

The World’s #2 City: Budapest

Despite CNN’s tendency these days to use its Facebook page mostly to share stories of extreme weight loss, I’ve yet to unlike them, and today that decision paid off when they linked me to a story about Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the world’s top 25 cities. To my great surprise, my personal favorites like Budapest, Krakow, and Prague prevailed over typical tourist choices like Paris. Let me tell you, that list was doing it right.

Reading the list reminded me that I still(!) haven’t posted anything about that 10-day Central/Eastern European odyssey I embarked on back in May, so today seemed like as good a day as ever to finally write my love letter to Budapest. Continue reading “The World’s #2 City: Budapest”

Eurotrip

Yeah, yeah, I’ve let the blogging fall by the wayside again. But this time I’ve got a decent excuse, at least for 10 days of my absence — I was busy seeing Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Vienna! I guess the rest of the silence can just be chalked up to laziness (or, if you want to be more charitable, to being consumed by travel prep before I left and travel-weariness in the days after I got back to the UK).

Of all the cities I visited, Budapest has to be my favorite. Even though it was a bit chilly and drizzly for some of the time I was there, the city was breathtaking. But I enjoyed my time in all four places, so in the next couple of weeks I’ll post about some of my favorite things, like where I went running in Berlin, what served as my birthday cake in Vienna, and the high points of my visit to Budapest. For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos: Continue reading “Eurotrip”