Street Scenes of Red Hook, Brooklyn

DfBxdsuGh_tNNqW2VRXIxSr9WzCoE8DJtEOSTEadJd0New York is a wonderful city, teeming with energy and ideas. However, there are times (particularly after a long, bone-chilling winter) that one needs to escape and refresh. With no time for a true getaway, I opted for the next best thing: a visit to my sister’s Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook.

Not easily accessible by subway, Red Hook has remained a true Brooklyn enclave, and with its waterfront views (including the Statue of Liberty), artisanal treats, and home brewed drafts, a visit to this neighborhood always feels like a breath of fresh air.

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Simple Pleasures in the Fishing Town of Chala, Peru

xuD2AXSwJdKvoDLMSL7kFDK763o_zKA6FLIKfzjDa6sOne of my favorite things to happen during a trip is an unexpected stopover. While I used to plan out my trips so aggressively that I had a detailed itinerary for every minute away, I now have a loose idea of where I want to go, and try to just be in the moment. If I like a city more than I expected, I have the time to extend my stay there. If someplace is not living up to its hype, than I have no issues leaving sooner. However, there are those wonderful moments when you discover a place you did not even know existed, and your trip changes its entire course.

That was the story of how I came to visit Chala. During my 2012 trip to Peru, I was at the southern tip of the country, having completed the Inca Trail, and was ready to head back up to Lima. However, after my previous experience with a 20 hour bus ride I knew that I needed to break up the trip. After consulting several bus schedules, and numerous maps I found a tiny village that would give me a 12 hour respite from the stomach churning bus journey. It was Chala.

This tiny fishing village was so small, it is no wonder it escapes the well worn gringo path. The buildings are mostly dilapidated, there are no historic sites to explore, and speaking English is a huge challenge. Yet the quiet of this small town drew me in, and I found myself wandering the beach and admiring the strange patterns drawn by the seaweed washed ashore. The cluster of colorful fishing boats were a beautiful site, looking more decorative than you would imagine from the chief industry of a city. Finally, as I prepared to leave for the bus station on the second leg of my journey North, I watched a sunset so fiery and pure, that it looked as if it had been painted onto the sky.

Indeed, this trip out of necessity had turned into an indelible memory of simple joys.

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Foodie Trip To Thailand’s Koh Samet Island

The beach island of Koh Samet lays just a few hours drive and a short boat trip from the city of Bangkok. For an enjoyable and edible weekend, don’t miss these local Thai treats and get a real taste of the island. From your start in the city to your end at the boat dock, each step of your trip will give you the chance to try a new type of food and flavor. Thailand wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dessert Truck

thai dessert truckBefore you start your drive to Koh Samet, make sure to fill up on Thai snacks for the journey. One delicious treat is Ka-nom Bueang, a rice flour shell with a coconut cream filling and various toppings. Grab a box of these treats to hold you over until you reach the island.

Fish Market

fish marketJust before you head to the harbor to catch your boat to the island of Koh Samet, stop off at one of the local seaside markets. Thanks to its waterfront adjacency, there are plenty of fresh fish just waiting to be fried up in a pan. Grab a bunch and bring them back to your hotel to make instant friends with the restaurant staff.

Boats in Koh Samet

Boats in Koh SametStepping onto the island of Koh Samet, you will instantly be wowed by the colorful fishing boats in the harbor. One of the beauties of Thailand is the color of its fabrics, and buildings, and these boats are no exception. Join the local crew for an early morning fishing trip or just hop aboard for a spin around the island.

Beach Vendor

Beach Vendor-Koh SametKick back on the beaches of Koh Samet and let the dining come to you. With local shopkeepers carrying their wares around, sun seekers can have their pick of Thai delicacies right from the comfort of their beach chair. This Thai vendor was selling roasted hard-boiled eggs that lent a smoky flavor to the yolk.

Stilted Restaurant

stilted restaurant-Koh SametFor a unique dining experience on the island, visit the Ploy Samed restaurant. To access this restaurant, visitors must ring a bell that will summon a boat: the only way of getting aboard. The restaurant is located on stilts over the water, and each table has an open bottom, where you can dangle your feet over the edge. In an ironic twist, diners can watch the fish swim below as they dig into the fresh seafood piled before them.

Break From New York City: Country Living

IMG_7686I spent this past weekend in Long Island’s North Fork and was absolutely charmed by the entire experience. Much more relaxed than the South Fork (the Hamptons), the North Fork felt like the perfect location to relax and recover from the frenzied pace of city living. The beaches were isolated, the streets saw only an occasional cyclist, and the restaurants were (for the most part) wait-free. A two minute ferry ride to Shelter Island was a fun day trip, and the nearby wineries and farms kept us eating and drinking with gusto.

I think I have discovered the key to surviving a summer in New York.

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A Haze of Sun and Sand in New York’s Fire Island

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One of my favorite memories each summer is spending quiet days on the beach in Fire Island. Accessible only by Ferry and with a strict no-car policy, there is no place that forcers busy New Yorkers to slow down more than Fire Island. Bikes are the preferred mode of transportation and the local grocer will make you a custom sandwich to nourish you after a long day in the sun. As the sun sets each night, and the boats lining the dock bob slowly in their beds, you can practically feel the stress melting away.

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Photo of the Day: Summer Lovin’

Drinking coconut water on a beach in Koh Samet, Thailand

As the winter finally ends and the weather is (slowly!) starting to warm up again, I find myself fantasizing about the summer beach days to come. With spring cleaning in full effect, its time to pull out those summer dresses and strappy sandals and get ready for a tropical adventure.

Where will this American girl be spending summer 2012? In Spain, of course!

And I can’t wait to share it all with YOU! From Madrid to Barcelona to Ibiza, I will be sharing the best in food, nightlife, culture, and of course fashion.

Where will you be spending this summer?

Beach Dogs of Koh Samet

While digging through my old Thailand pictures for an upcoming assignment, I stumbled upon a large collection of pictures from my vacation on the Thai island of Koh Samet. As I flipped through the pictures, I started noticing a theme.

Koh Samet is full of beach dogs, from little grey huskies, with piercing blue eyes, to yellow Labradors, patrolling the area. These dogs are all fed and taken cared of by the local community, but during the day they stake out their claim on the beach. No matter where I looked, from the shade under my lounge chair, to buried deep in the sand, these beach dogs were there.

Koh Samet and these dogs have now become synonymous in my mind, and to be honest, you really can’t have the full island experience without these charming canines.

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