Today in Things That Are Perplexing: I was wandering a grocery store in Brooklyn and came across vegan olive loaf.
Vegan olive loaf.
I mean, is the need there? Of all items that vegans miss after giving up animal products, is olive loaf that high on the list? "Man, I love being vegan but some days I really miss chocolate and cheese...and I'd kill for some proper olive loaf."
Even crazier -- the olives in the vegan loaf weren't olives. THEY WERE PISTACHIOS.
Today I finally start Whole30: 30 days of real food. No sugar, no alcohol, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no processed foods. No snacking. No nutritionally compliant versions of junk food (no coconut flour pancakes!). No weighing myself.
I've wanted to do this for a very long time, but it's been hard to find a 30-day time period when I have no travel scheduled. There is no way I can stick to Whole 30 while traveling, especially while working on a campaign. The time to do it is now, wrapping up just before Thanksgiving.
I love the idea of doing it as a disciplinary exercise. But I also look forward to finding out how good my body can feel when I cut out junk completely, and whether my body is sensitive to certain foods in particular.
I'm also afraid. I'm afraid of messing up. (So that's why I'm posting here -- accountability.) I'm afraid that I'll do everything right and work out extra hard on top of it and still only lose, like, two pounds. But the thing I'm most afraid of is if I learn that my body can't handle dairy, or grains, and eating pizza is going to be hell on my body for the rest of my life! CAN I GIVE YOU UP FOREVER, PIZZA?!?!
If any of you have advice, or recipes you love (especially fish recipes as I'm still trying to be environmentally cautious and not eat too much meat), I would love to hear them!
Today *I* was the weirdo on the subway.
Here's a life tip: don't ride public transportation while reading a book that has a graphic, detailed scene of at-home surgical finger amputation.
I gasped. I jumped. I flapped my arms. I threw my Kindle down and grimaced. And once I let out a mild shriek.
The woman sitting next to me got up and moved to another seat. Yikes.
The book is My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. I hated it. I chose it because it had a lot of buzz; after reading it, I don't think any buzz was warranted. Detached characters, American Gods-style; grossly unrealistic dialogue; and a tale that seems to savor the pain of a girl being sexually abused by her father. When a male author takes on the tall order of writing from the point of view of an abused young girl, he needs to knock it out of the park. That didn't happen.
Today I got yet another email from a woman saying she wanted to be the second woman to go to every country in the world. And once again I had to be the one to tell her, "Nope, you won't be the second."
Earlier this year, Cassie De Pecol claimed to be the first woman to visit every country in the world. She had a strong publicity team behind her and her story went viral. The truth? She did get the Guinness record for being the FASTEST person to visit all sovereign countries as well as the fastest woman, but she is not the first woman to visit every country, not by a mile.
And the media dropped the ball. They didn't verify this story. And by the time the truth came out, it was too late. Some major news outlets updated their stories, but so many people still think that she's the first woman in the world.
Never forget that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Every achievement we make is because of the brave women who strived before us in much more challenging circumstances. I'm grateful to them every day.
Here is a list of the women who DID travel to every country. Social media didn't exist at the time for most of them, but that doesn't mean their achievements are any less valid.
#MeToo. Because obviously. But we shouldn't have to relive our trauma in order to convince men how widespread sexual harassment and assault are.
Here are some things men can do to be better allies. It's too late for you to be shocked anymore.
Earlier this year, the New York Times caused a commotion with the headline "Is New York's Best Pizza in...New Jersey?!"
With a review like that, I HAD to go!
The place is called Razza Pizza Artigianale. The pizza is very thin, crispy and charred. The toppings are lush and innovative. I loved the Panna: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, cream, and arugula.
The best pizza in New York? I wouldn't say QUITE the best, but it's in the top 5 for sure! Maybe even the top 3. Well worth the trip to Jersey City.
Last night I went to Rue La Rue Café, the first Golden Girls cafe in New York, for the ultimate fandom event! Golden Girls trivia!
Rue La Rue is run by Michael La Rue, a close friend of Rue McClanahan. He inherited much of her estate and the cafe is FULL of it -- including the yellow phone from the kitchen! And the prizes for the trivia winners were INSANE -- one of Rue's cancelled checks and a bank statement! A letter Rue wrote to her parents when she was at dance camp in the 50s! A coffee mug that Rue had in her kitchen!
I need to go back and photograph the cafe properly so I can write a whole post about it. WELL worth a visit!! There's nothing like singing "Thank You For Being A Friend" with 60 Golden Girls superfans!
Back in New York and delighted to be sleeping in my own marshmallow-like bed again....but part of me wishes I could move my marshmallow here.
Miss you, Tybee.
I only had a few hours to hang out in Savannah today -- not nearly enough time for one of my favorite cities! I spent today hitting up my favorite spots (Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room, Back in the Day Bakery for pastries to take home, Collins Quarter for a lavender spiced mocha, The Paris Market to buy something cute and Parisian) and a few new ones (the Owens-Thomas House where LA-FAY-ETTE! once stayed, Coffee Fox for a horchata latte).
If you DO go, though, go for three days. Here's my recommended itinerary.
Today in Savannah I *HAD* to eat at one of my favorite restaurants on the planet: Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room.
Get there early. Wait in line. Monday to Friday lunch only. BUT you will be rewarded with an enormous family-style Southern feast! The fried chicken is fantastic. So is the cheesy potato gratin. I never visit Savannah without stopping here!
DOLPHIN SIGHTING! The waters off the Georgia coast are teeming with dolphins, and today I took a spin with Captain Derek's Dolphin Adventure to see them up close!
Super good value, too. Just $15 for an hourlong cruise!
"Why would anyone buy a vacation home?! That just means you'll keep going to the same place over and over!"
That used to be my way of thinking. It's not anymore.
Visiting destinations multiple times -- whether it's Savannah or Key West or Edinburgh -- floods me with happiness when I return for another visit. The familiarity is exciting; you get to feel like an expert. And everywhere you go, you're surrounded by memories.
Plus, if you have kids -- or nieces and nephews, or might-as-well-be nieces or nephews -- it's great to grow up with them in the same place.
Plus, if you get a place in Tybee, you can name your house Coral House and paint it bright coral. But don't do that, because someone here already has. 😉
What do you think? Are vacation homes or time-shares, places you go to over and over, worth missing trips to new places?
On my summer trip to Finland, I went to the Air Guitar World Championships, sauna'ed through the wilderness, and explored one of the prettiest towns in the country (pictured here). Finland can be WEIRD. But also awesome.
Good morning from Tybee! I'm going kayaking on the creek with Sea Kayak Georgia this morning.
I am always a comical kayaker at best so check out Instagram Stories (adventurouskate) to see how it goes!
Just got to Tybee Island and I already have CRAB FINGERS!
My first stop was the Crab Shack, a popular seafood spot where the sampler plate includes giant crabs, mussels, sausage, shrimp, and crawfish that you twist apart and scarf down. We are definitely in the South!
(Also gashed my finger open with a crab shell but that's neither here nor there.)
So in a moment of hubris on behalf of 45, non-immigrating Turks have been banned from visiting the US. To retaliate, non-immigrating Americans have been banned from visiting Turkey. Here's what you need to know.
If you have a trip to Turkey planned, this is the time to call your travel insurance.
Also -- this does NOT affect transiting Internationally via Ataturk Airport, so if you're flying via Istanbul to, say, the Seychelles, this won't affect you.
Tomorrow I'm off to Tybee Island, Georgia, for the first time ever!
Any suggestions? I have tons of free time so I'm looking for all kinds of tips! (And yes, of course I will be visiting nearby Savannah as it's one of my favorite cities in the world...)
Editing photos tonight. Hope you're ready for some Finland coverage this week!
Here's the first shot I edited -- one of the little red houses in Porvoo, a pastel-hued town outside Helsinki. The most famous shot of Porvoo is the row of little red houses in front of the river. I actually got to stay overnight in one of them!
I spent today at the New York Botanical Garden, where there's currently a Chihuly exhibition. If you're in New York before the 28th, put this on your itinerary, especially if you've never been to the Bronx! This piece is called Red Reeds.
Best followed up with a walk to Arthur Ave, the Bronx's Little Italy, for some bocconcini (little mozzarella balls) at Casa Della Mozzarella!
I went to Chernobyl in May. The nuclear disaster site is safe to visit today, and the surrounding ghost towns are among the most moving places I've ever visited. Here's what it's like.
So often, it seems like all the travel bloggers are blogging about the SAME DAMN STUFF...and it gets boring as hell. Which is why I get excited when I see something different and original.
Presenting: The Best Butts of the Louvre! This post by Travels of Adam made me laugh. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Last night, Paris darkened the Eiffel Tower in honor of Las Vegas attack victims, just as Vegas's Eiffel Tower once went dark in honor of the Paris attack victims.
I've seen this before. I remember when the Red Sox honored New York after 9/11 and when the Yankees played Sweet Caroline to honor Boston after the marathon attack.
I also remember when a friend in San Bernardino checked on me after the Boston attack and I checked on her after the San Bernardino attack...
How sad that this is our definition of normalcy -- living with terror. I also remember being struck by how efficient Boston hospitals were in the hours after the marathon attack; this was a catastrophe for which they had prepared.
Not every attack I mentioned here was committed with firearms, but that doesn't diminish our country's desperate need for gun control.
This month was both happy and crazy! From Minsk to Helsinki to New York, here are the best and worst things that happened to me this month.
My heart breaks for the victims of the Las Vegas massacre and their loved ones.
And my heart breaks for the future victims as well. This keeps happening and will continue happening for as long as the NRA continues to fund politicians. That is a true American tragedy and at this point, I don't know how we can escape it.
Good morning from Harlem! I'm on a food tour with Taste Harlem Food & Cultural Tours today. Red Rooster is already one of my favorite restaurants in New York, and today I learned their chicken and waffles are the best I've ever had!!
It's September, which means it's time to start planning holiday travel! Have you thought about visiting Germany's Christmas markets? Here's my guide on how to plan a smart trip.
Yikes, the euro isn't as valuable to Americans as it was last year.
I'm writing a new German Christmas Markets post for tomorrow (yep, some of you have been asking and yep, it's coming!), so I'm copying and pasting the Essential Info box from last year's post and figured I should update the prices. Well, last December, 300 euros was equal to 311 dollars. Today, 300 euros is equal to 353 dollars. Eek!
I guess that's good news for Europeans coming to the States!
I recently gave an interview about my experience studying abroad in Florence 13 years ago (TIME FLIES!). If you're considering studying abroad or know someone who is, there is some good advice at the bottom too!
How do you decorate your home with your souvenirs? Girl Tweets World featured several travel bloggers' homes, including mine, and how we use our souvenirs to decorate.
Do you have pics of your souvenirs as decor? Share them in the comments!
Congrats to my buds Mike and Anne of HoneyTrek on publishing their first book, Ultimate Journeys for Two, with National Geographic! I just got my first glance at the book and it's full of travel inspiration even if you're not part of a couple.
Can't wait to go through it and discover some new destinations for my next trip!
Earlier this month I visited Russia without a visa on the MOBY SPL ferry from Helsinki. Am I glad I did? HELL YEAH! Would I do it again? HELL NO!
There is so little comprehensive information about this journey online, so I wrote a hardcore guide. I hope it helps you determine if the trip is for you!
I just finished a book SO good, I'm not waiting for the monthly recap -- I'm telling you now.
The book is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It's a multi-generational saga about a Korean family living in Japan throughout the 20th century. I always knew there was friction between the Japanese and Koreans, but I had no idea how terribly Koreans have been treated in Japan.
This novel is sweeping. It's cinematic. You can't put it down. I hugged the book when I finished it. It's been a day and I still miss the characters terribly.
It's also a finalist for the National Book Award. I hope it wins. (And my OTHER favorite book of the year, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, is nominated in the young adult category.)
Put this one on your list -- it's incredible.
Puerto Rico is not getting a fraction of the airtime it deserves. To call the current situation a crisis would not be sufficient.
The island has lost power and might not get it back for months. Most phone coverage is gone. And a dam may be destroyed, leading to massive flooding.
MONTHS WITHOUT ELECTRICITY. Let that sink in.
I know we all have natural disaster fatigue, but we can't forget about the people in Puerto Rico right now.
Oh man. I hate that this went viral.
Some bloggers pitched a comped meal in exchange for coverage; the owner/chef posted it on Twitter. And I don't agree with anyone in this scenario, but there are a few things I want to point out:
--This is only part of the pitch, not the whole thing. We could have learned more had we seen the entire pitch. At minimum, it looks like these bloggers were specific about what they wanted comped and what they would provide in return.
--Killarney, Ireland, is hosting the next TBEX, so I'm sure MANY businesses throughout Ireland are getting tons of requests from bloggers attending the conference. This is one reason why I steer clear of host venues in the months following travel blogging conferences. Everyone is going to be writing about Ireland in the next few months.
--Comps ARE valuable when they're with the right blogger. We don't know anything about who these bloggers are or what kind of audience they have. But are they effective? Hell yes. I'd argue that restaurant recommendations are far more valuable in evergreen blog content than on social media. I get messages from readers ALL THE TIME that say, "I went to Koh Lanta and ate at Red Snapper!" or "I went to Collins Quarter in Savannah and got the lavender spiced mocha and it was as delicious as you said it was!"
This particular exchange is not representative of all bloggers, what they pitch, how they work, and what they have to offer. But I hate that this is going to cast all bloggers in the same light.
I wish the chef had responded with a quick, "Thanks but no thanks," and left it at that. Now I feel like we have to do more work proving our value, as we do each and every day.
I'm not a skier, so I never thought Vail was for someone like me -- then I went during the summer and realized that this town is absolutely gorgeous year-round. Here's what makes Vail so great in the summer -- including hiking with llamas!
Eh. What studies like these don't take into account is that for high-strung East Coasters like myself, it's stressful as hell to go somewhere laid-back like Seattle or Sydney and NEED TO GET SOMETHING DONE and have everyone be like, "No worries, mate," and then NOTHING HAPPENS. It's making my palms sweat just thinking about it!
Give me a stressful city any day! I freak out when I go anywhere too chilled out!
The subtle differences between French girls and American girls, explained!
For those of you who live in two different cultures, do you feel like you behave differently in each setting?
One trip I haven't written enough about is my trip to Colombia last summer. Expect more on the way in the next month or so! Have you been to Colombia?
Earlier this year I read American War by Omar El-Akkad, a speculative novel about the Second American Civil War, taking place in the late 21st century.
One detail that struck me the most was that the capital had been moved to Columbus, Ohio. The reason? Storms had made Washington unlivable.
Looking at the wild hurricane season we've had this month, it's a reminder that climate change is an absolute emergency and one that cannot be ignored. The Paris Climate Agreement is a vital step, but we need to make sacrifices on an individual basis as well.
Turning off the lights when you leave a room is one thing -- but it doesn't make nearly as big an impact as switching to a plant-based diet, giving up your car, living in an apartment as opposed to a house, or especially choosing not to have biological children. As someone who flies a lot, admittedly for both work and pleasure, I'm looking into ways I can make a better impact on the environment.
The most effective change I can make right now? Eating less meat. I'm reducing little by little, and hopefully eating a LOT less meat a few months down the line. If everyone reduced their meat intake (not even giving it up completely!), it would make a major impact on the planet.
Are you making any changes in your life?
Wow. Ryanair, you've REALLY messed up this time.
40-50 flights PER DAY are going to be cancelled over SIX WEEKS. Due to an error on their part. What idiots.
This is the company that always gets into the news for saying things like, "Maybe we'll start charging a pound to use the bathroom!" or "Maybe we'll do standing-room only seats!" and dominates a news cycle, lapping up the negative publicity, then never doing anything about it. They're basically the Ann Coulter of airlines.
This is next level, though.
They have announced the list of canceled flights. See whether yours is on it here.
Congrats to my bud Oneika the Traveller on her first Travel Channel episode! The series is called Big City, Little Budget and her first episode is about midtown Manhattan on a budget!
It's September, which means it's time to start thinking about winter travel! Where do you want to go this year?
I'm thinking of doing some Caribbean island-hopping, maybe a two-week trip to Trinidad to Barbados. And I'd love to visit Brazil -- perhaps it's finally time! Beyond that, is be open to some (short!) snowy getaways this year.