travel

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Eating Through Seattle

SeattleBefore heading to Alt Summit, which I’ll write about a little bit later, I spent the weekend in Seattle with Chad. One of our most favorite ways to while away some time in a new city is to simply walk and eat, both as much as possible. Seattle was perfectly set up to do just that. I didn’t pitch a food round up story to any other site before heading out, because I was only there a couple days and I figured it’d be too much work to scout places, take photos, and write a decent round up for just a couple days. Turns out, it came naturally and a lot easier than I thought.

Witness Seattle Brunch

Brunch at Witness, Seattle

Our super sweet AirBnB was basically right around the corner from Broadway in Capitol Hill. Witness was a five minute walk away, and just what we needed after a full day of travel and an early wake up time due to the time difference. Southern-inspired brunch to warm our bones and acclimate us to the drizzly Seattle chill.

Because brunch after a long flight and little sleep just isn’t enough, we hit Top Pot Donuts in Capitol Hill for our second brunch, or the dessert to first brunch, and more coffee. Four words: maple old fashioned donut. That is all.

Top Pot Donuts Seattle

Maple Glazed Old Fashioned Donut from Top Pot Donuts, Seattle

After a long drizzly afternoon of wandering around and staring at the skyline via the Space Needle and finally getting to see the Moorea Seal shop in person(!!), dinner from Villa Escondida — the highest rated restaurant in Seattle on Yelp — was both enormous and delicious. It’s a sweet little hole in the wall that’s a little hard to find, but it offers real-deal, amazing Mexican food.

Cafe Pettirosso Seattle

Cafe Pettirosso’s Squash Stuffed French Toast, Seattle

One of the coolest things about traveling and the internet is that I can meet up with online friends in person! I was psyched to spend the morning with the super rad Erin Anacker, first for coffee at Vivace on Broadway, and then for brunch and a super long conversation at Cafe Pettirosso. A++, would eat squash-stuffed French toast again.

EMP Seattle

The EMP Museum, Seattle

We spent the rest of the day at the EMP Museum, until I felt like I could no longer absorb any more information about music or pop culture, then hit Bait Shop for supper before once again crashing our East-Coast weary bones into our AirBnB for the night.

Chad headed in to the Seattle office of his company on Monday morning while I spent the day bopping in and out of coffee shops and wandering around Pike Place Market. Its innards reminded me a little bit of a cobbled together Reading Terminal Market. Throughout the course of the day, I had amazing soft serve frozen yogurt from Shy Giant and a ham and gruyere croissant and a lavender shortbread from Three Sisters Bakery before wandering into Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Now, I get really excited about ginger beer, so I was psyched to see an entire fresh made ginger beer bar, featuring really creative flavors and a rad cocktail menu. I got a Montana Mule, but started fantasizing about returning with Chad in the evening for a hot toddy.

Sadly, we didn’t make it back to Rachel’s before closing time. Happily, we found Zig Zag to satisfy my hot toddy craving. It felt like stepping into a 1920s speakeasy. Even though it’s not actually a speakeasy, it’s still kind of hard to find. It’s tucked away on the side of a hill not visible from the street. The bar was dark, but cozy, and our bartender was so fun to watch. It was the perfect spot to end my time in Seattle before heading out to Salt Lake for Alt Summit the next day.

Rumba Steps, Seattle

Rumba Steps, Seattle

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And Heaven Will Smell Like the Airport

I know that airports are fairly disgusting. Overpriced food shipped in from God-knows-where, stale dry air, dirty bathrooms and SO MANY PEOPLE, most of whom are kind of stressed out. It doesn’t sound awesome.

Yet for some reason, I love them. There’s something about them that makes me feel incredibly privileged and luxurious and a little important. When I was a kid, I think I had some notion that people who traveled, especially in airplanes, were fancy. And I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, I was right about that.

And I just like hanging out in them. Two hours to read magazines or write or have a really fun chat with my travel buddies? Yes, please! I like the forced waiting of airports. You don’t feel guilty because you’re reading a magazine instead of cleaning the house or working on a freelance project. You’re in an airport! Get a smoothie and chill out.

I hope I never stop getting excited about airports.

This week I’ll be spending lots of time in them! Philly to Seattle to Salt Lake via Phoenix. I’m flying to Seattle with Chad and spending the weekend with him there in a super cute AirBnB spot before heading solo to SLC for my round two of Alt Summit.

I’ve never been to Seattle before, so if any of you have must-not-miss recommendations, I’d love to hear them! And if you’re headed to Alt Summit, be sure to say hi!

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Barcelona: Past & Present Dispatches

Barcelona, SpainIn 2007, I spent six months in Spain, and only 36 hours of that in Barcelona. Those 36 hours turned out to be incredibly eventful — long enough to stand outside the Sagrada Familia and wish we could afford the small entrance fee, long enough to get tricked into eating 15 euro frozen-dinner tourist paella, long enough for me to break down and eat the first macaroni and cheese I had in six months at a Hard Rock Cafe, long enough for Chad to lose his debit card and me to get panicky and furious when he wouldn’t let me dig through his bag to help look for it, and long enough for it to become clear why he didn’t want me digging through said bag. Thirty-six hours in Barcelona was long enough to see the most heinously touristy few miles I’ve ever experienced (hi and bye, Las Ramblas), and long enough for 20-year-old Chad to propose to 20-year-old me. It was long enough for me to realize that I had just paid for my engagement dinner of Hard Rock Cafe macaroni and cheese with my mother’s credit card that I was only to use in emergencies.

Barcelona, Spain

This time was much different. We had more than 36 hours, and though our time there was nothing short of spectacular, it was a lot less life-altering. There was less time bickering about lost debit cards and a lot more time spent getting lost in El Born. There was less time wishing we could afford to go into the Sagrada Familia and much more time spent being blown away by its interior.

Sagrada Familia — Barcelona, Spain

Never before in my life have I experienced architecture spiritually. Walking through the Sagrada Familia somehow feels like walking through a sacred forest. They literally had to kick us out at closing time.

Sagrada Familia — Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia — Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia — Barcelona, Spain

There’s something so magical and natural about the cathedral. It’s highly stylized, yet somehow organic.

La Barceloneta — Barcelona, SpainWe also had time to briefly hit up La Barceloneta and walk towards the Olympic Village. We tried to approximate the spot where Chad proposed, but it was hard to tell. I suspect it may have been along this stretch of beach or a little beyond.

The city itself is full of art and curious nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered. It feels like everyone’s an artist, eager to share their work. Like these two, who hang out by the line to the Picasso museum.

Barcelona, Spain

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Salamanca: The Mini Guide

salamancacathedralThere are so many reasons to love Salamanca. It’s just so beautiful that you can totally just show up without a plan and get lost wandering the crooked cobblestone streets through sandstone passageways and be completely content. But if you’re looking for more specific highlights, I’m sharing a few of my favorite haunts, sprinkled with a few shots from the trip.

Salamanca, Spain Plaza MayorLa Malhablada — The rest of the places on this list are my favorites dating back 7 years, but this art space specializing in microtheater has only been open since the end of May. We stuck around a few extra days, in part because we wanted to see it when the owner got back from vacation. There are several floors of smallish performance and exhibit rooms, with a homey bar with basic snacks on the top floor and a balcony overlooking Calle Melendez. If I lived in Salamanca, I’d be hanging out here multiple times a week.

Enmarte — Tourists don’t know about this spot. I found it out from asking the hippest Spanish teacher I had the semester I lived in Salamanca. I wanted to find a good vintage hookup, and she suggested this place. It’s got lots of vintage, but also small independent brands that aren’t widely distributed. I still have some vintage clothing I plucked out of the 2 euro shopping cart in the corner seven years ago. This time, I picked up a couple Skunkfunk pieces that were on sale.

Croissantería Paris — Nothing here has changed. If you’re in Spain and want to feel like you’re in France, you seriously can’t miss this. Get a “blanca y negra,” a doublewide croissant filled with chocolate on one side and vanilla on the other. Ask them to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it perfectly gooey and delicious.

Salamanca, Spain CathedralIeronimus — Ieronimus is a tower tour of the cathedral of Salamanca. Touristy, yes, but the multiple cathedral yield the best views of the city from every angle. It’s also an amazing workout if you run up the stairs like we did right before they had to close.

Huerta de Calisto y Melibea — This is a really beautiful walled garden in the old part of Salamanca. The garden is named after the Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, more commonly known as La Celestina, which is a really big deal in the medieval Spanish literature world. If you’ve read anything about the play, you’ll understand why the name makes sense. There are wishing wells, and it’s built high on the edge of the old part of the city. It’s one of my favorite spots to sit and chat or wander around through the rose bushes and ivy. Chad snapped one of my favorite portraits here seven years ago; we tried to recreate it this time and got close.

Salamanca, SpainDelicatessen y Cafe — We found ourselves here so many times this week. Right on Calle Melendez, it’s super close to Pension Salamanca, where I’ve stayed numerous times, so it was really convenient. They do great Spanish interpretations of American breakfasts (breakfast as we know it does not exist in Spain — getting a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast is a victory), have excellent chocolate con churros (from what I remember; we didn’t have any this time!), a full bar, and a solid menu del dia.

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What I Learned in Spain

Salamanca, SpainWe’ve been back from Spain for a couple weeks now, but I immediately dove into a barrage of freelance work and trying to put the (not-so) new place together, which left little time to reflect and craft a story worth telling. Still, I wanted to share some snippets of our trip. I’ll follow up with a fuller guide to Salamanca in a few days, but for now, this is what I’ve learned.

Salamanca, Spain

  • I like to introduce Chad to new places. Often when I’m in a new situation, I let him take the lead until I get my bearings. This time, I really enjoyed pulling him along and reintroducing him to different vocabulary words, my favorite nooks in Salamanca, and funny Spanish idiosyncrasies. Perhaps I should lead the way more often.
  • I love my Swedish Hasbeens, but wood sole shoes do not play nicely with cobblestone.
  • My favorite drink at my favorite dive bar is still delicious and still embarrassing (Agua de Valencia — vodka, champagne, and orange Fanta. Remember, I was 20 when I studied there. It’s better than it sounds, I swear), though the clientele is no longer 18 year olds. It feels like the same people who went there 7 years ago are still hanging out there. They’re just older now. The vibe is still plenty grimy.
  • I need to figure out how to eat more Spanish tortilla & ham croquettes on a regular basis.
  • I can still speak Spanish well. My accent had gotten worse, but it came back by the end of the week and I was very comfortable conversing with anyone.
  • My favorite vacations include lots of walking and eating.
  • Spanish trains are awesome, but when you can afford it, it’s sometimes nicer to fly. It maximizes exploring and relaxation time.
  • While inconvenient, a missed flight is not the end of the world. Everything will be ok.
  • Salamanca still feels like home 7 years later. The same man with the same scruffy dog still plays the same beautiful violin in the same plazas every day. The crooked, nonsensical streets are still imprinted on my heart. The things I loved about it then are the things I love about it even more now.

Salamanca, Spain