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New York Bound – Day 2

7 Jul

Day 2 of our New York trip was the one I was most looking forward to — wine tasting on Eastern Long Island with my friend Ally! Ally and I went to the same high school AND college but didn’t meet until we were placed in the same apartment while studying abroad in Florence, Italy in 2009.  This is us in front of our favorite bridge in the WORLD the Ponte Vecchio:

Ponte Vecchio!

Ponte Vecchio!

 

and a pic of us in Sicily!

Circa 2009

Circa 2009

Well many years have passed since we traveled Europe together but we finally reunited for the first time in nearly three years for wine tasting on LI! Wes and I also stayed with Ally and her fiance, Chris, at their brand new home – we were their first ever guests! So exciting.

Before meeting up with them at their home, I HAD to take Wes to my favorite deli in the world – the one I ate at literally every single day (my dad jokes that we bought the owner his hummer) called se-port. I am so upset that I did not take a single picture of Wes devouring his first se-port sandwich (no he didn’t get a boone – I ordered him an American hero with mac salad because he wanted something cold).  I was so busy chatting with all the se-port guys I totally forgot to snap some pics – they all remembered me even though I’ve been gone for 4 years! So exciting 🙂

So after our se-port run and a quick drive through my old home – we met up with Ally and Chris and their new puppy Brewster! Then we headed out east to Martha Clara vineyard for a few bottles of wine, some snacks and a little world cup action – Brazil was playing that afternoon and Chris is half Brazilian so we had to keep an eye on the score!

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We tried two different white wines and they were both fabulous. I know everyone raves about wine from the Napa Valley – but Long Island can definitely hold their own in the vinosphere (hahaha get it???)

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Martha Clara also had a little farm and corn hole boards set up! Which we ended up never playing because we were so focused on our fresh guacamole and local wine.

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We had plans to stop by two other vineyards but we ended up loving the atmosphere at Martha Clara  so much we decided to forgo the other two and just enjoy the afternoon there! We also wanted to head back to Port Jefferson before the sun set so we could show Wes the water and get ice cream at my favorite ice cream shop called Snow White and The Seven Flavors — which apparently Ally and I are the only ones that know that’s the actual name of the place

2014!

2014!

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After our Port Jeff rendezvous we met up with my brother for some drinks and food and then headed back to Ally and Chris’ to play with little Brewster! He was only 8 weeks old so we had to head back to our little baby – I can’t believe I don’t have any pics of him either! I’m a terrible blogger

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I am already missing my friend so much – but we are trying to make plans for them to come visit Raleigh for Labor day! So i’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to show them all around Raleigh and bring them on the Green Machine Raleigh Brew Tour!

Thanks Ally and Chris for a wonderful Long Island themed night! I love you!!! ❤

Chris and Wes "not posing"

Chris and Wes “not posing”

New York Bound – Day 1

1 Jul

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This past weekend Wes and I took a lovely long weekend to the big apple for 5 fun filled days of family fun, touristy adventures and drinking local wine with old friends… I was extra excited for this trip because Wes had never seen the town I grew up in! So I was stoked to be able to show him my roots and all my old stomping grounds

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We were in NYC last year but didn’t have enough time to make it out to Long Island, so this time I made sure we had enough time to drive out east to show him all around Setauket — we also made time to take a ride out to the Vineyards of the North Fork! Since I love wine, that was one of the adventures I was looking forward to most.

For our first day of vacay – we woke up early in Queens (where my lovely sister & brother in law let us have their apartment all to our selves!) and headed out to downtown Manhattan for some tourist attractions. We took the subway all the way down to the newly opened 9.11 memorial where I finally got to see the Freedom Tower up close, as well as the two pools. The pools were built at the bases of each tower to show where they both stood – and they are beautiful. I haven’t been back to the World Trade Center since I was much younger – the last time I was there it was still full of debris from the attacks so to see it done as a proper memorial was really nice.

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From the World Trade Center we walked through a little park on the river and found the Statue of Liberty! We weren’t interested in climbing it so we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry to SI and back for a divine view of Lady Liberty and to have a little time to sit on the water and enjoy the breeze.

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Taking the ferry was so perfect because it is completely FREE. How crazy is that? I think it must be the ONLY free thing to do in all of Manhattan. And they run every 30 minutes so you know you will never have to wait long to get on one — perfection. I would highly recommend taking a ride, it was one of the highlights of our day

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After all this sight seeing and a quick trip to NikeTown — I made Wes make the trek ALL the way to the Upper East Side for some famous french macarons at Laduree — I also made my friend Ashley trek all around Paris for these cookies when we were there so I wanted to show Wes how gorgeous their displays are. Wes hates macarons but he came with me anyway and pretended to appreciate how amazing they are!

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We spent the rest of day 1 eating and drinking until the early hours of the morning with one of my best friends, Julianne – she took us to a beautiful rooftop bar on the lower west side for some drinks and apps, and then to a bar called Prohibition for more drinks and live music!

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I couldn’t have asked for a better first day in New York! The weather, the people, the food, the drinks, everything was just perfect! We really lucked out with the weather, sunny and 75 the whole day.

Day 2 & 3 are coming soon with our Eastern Long Island adventures 🙂

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A Year in Review… Asia, Europe and back to the States

9 Jan
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A truck in Hong Kong

One year ago from today I was packing my bags in Bangkok, Thailand and beginning the long trek back home to Florence, Italy. At this moment in time, I was a little confused about where my life was going. I was no longer sure that I wanted to stay in Europe, but I couldn’t think of another place that I was ready to call home. I decided to take the last few months I had before my sisters April wedding and just sit in Florence and think, feel, reflect. Things people normally do when they need to make a major decision in the course of their lives. Well a year has gone by and what have a accomplished? (So cliche using the passing of a year to reflect on ones life but get over it, its happening). In my life, according to my standards I’d say… a lot. More than I could have ever imagined on that day sitting in my Bangkok hotel room.

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Thai food in Thailand

1. I’ve let go of people in my past that had to be let go of (a tough thing to do in life). I think this is something I’m most proud of, since its a very hard decision to let go of things and people that no longer serve you. Sometimes we use the past as a safety net, not wanting to let go for fear of missing out on something that “might be”. But holding on to the past will only inhibit your future.

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Drinking a watermelon smoothie on the Island of Koh Chang, Thailand

2. I decided that I needed to return to the States. After more than 2 years of constant travel, I finally realized that I had to go home for “a little while”. This has since turned into a long while, being that up until a few months ago I was still convinced that one day I would be returning to my old life in Europe (more about that later).

2. I started my first business with my dad and finally listened to his words of wisdom. Examples of Dad’s words of wisdom:

  • “If you make enough money, you’ll always be able to return to Europe”
  • “If you don’t get a job I will stop paying for your shenanigans”
  • “Listen to what I say, not what I do”
  • “Just listen to me, I am the boss”
  • “You probably don’t need to be eating that second piece of cake”

He’s so wise in so many ways. Especially about the cake.

3. okay, get ready, this is going to sound super corny. Reason number 3: I fell in love. When I never thought I would. Did I just get lucky? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did I have anything to do with making this happen at all or did the universe just slowly guide me to that bar in downtown Raleigh? Maybe my dad was right all along, “listen to me and I will find you a husband”. (and he’s the one that convinced me to move to Raleigh, coincidence?)

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Working the Hong Kong metro

I always believed in the power of love, that love could move mountains, heal illnesses, stop a war if you loved hard enough. But I never thought love in all its power could keep me from Italy. But if you asked me now which I would choose, love or a life in Italy? Well, I’ll let you answer that one.

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Wes and myself on his birthday

This past year has taught me a lot about myself and my life. I’ve learned that I can order vegetarian food in thai, traverse my way through the Hong Kong metro system, that the laws of the Italian visa system don’t apply to you if you don’t want them to, that I can give up on old dreams and begin working on new ones, that I can feel so much love in my life that if I think about it long enough it will bring me to tears. All this and more has happened in just 12 months and I wouldn’t change a single second of it, because it brought me to where I am right now, still not completely sure of where my life will take me, but unafraid of where its leading.

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Ashtanga Yoga with Kino MacGregor

9 Dec

A few weeks ago, My mom and I took a little road trip to Asheville, North Carolina for an Ashtanga Yoga workshop with the one and only Kino MacGregor. For those of you who aren’t into yoga, Kino is a famous yoga teacher who is actually one of the first women granted the title of Ashtanga yoga teacher. She studied for many years with a famous yogi named Guruji and over the last decade has basically become a yoga MASTER. She’s traveled back and forth to Mysore, India learning from the original masters of Ashtanga, how cool is that? So when I found out that she was going to be holding a workshop only a four hour drive from me, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be there. I didn’t want to go alone so I signed my Mama up for the workshop as well.

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We drove up the night before and checked into our hotel right in downtown Asheville (the yoga center was walking distance which was perfect). We were so excited to be on a mini vacation and to have some nice quality time, just the two of us. My mom and I have a tradition of going on a trip together every year in May since our birthdays are 2 weeks apart. The first year we went to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and had a blast. The next year, I was volunteering at an orphanage in Ecuador for a month so we decided to get a little crazy and meet up in Peru. We had the most amazing trip ever exploring Lima and of course the magnificent Machu Picchu!

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At Machu Picchu!

Well since then, we haven’t been able to keep up with our little mother daughter tradition – life just gets in the way sometimes, with busy schedules, babies being born, weddings being planned and daughters living across the world in other countries. So finally, after 3 years we finally had another trip to ourselves! So while I was stoked to take a class led by Kino, the part I was most excited about was having my Mama all to myself for 2 days.

Heading to class

Heading to class

Anyway back to the yoga thing. So friday night we had an amazing Italian meal with pasta, red wine, homemade bread and a giant slice of cheesecake (great diet before two days of yoga I know). The next morning we woke up bright and early and walked to the Asheville Yoga Center. Kino came in and we started our first of four classes for the weekend. Since I practiced Ashtanga in Italy – and did my teacher training in the Ashtanga style, I know the deal. It gets sweaty, it gets tough and sometimes you just want to stop and take a nap on your mat for the next hour but you push through and you always feel amazing in the end. Well my mom.. she practices yoga. Like at a gym in North Raleigh. She goes when she feels like it and practices a different sequence every time she goes. So when she found herself in the middle of a 2 hour traditional Ashtanga primary series class she was a little shell shocked, to say the least. I mean I was dying within the first 30 minutes also don’t get me wrong, but I at least knew what to expect. For example, before we even got to our second set of sun salutations a woman passed out twice and had to be escorted out of the room.

Not looking too shabby after 4 hours of Yoga

Not looking too shabby after 4 hours of Yoga

I’ll give it to my mama though she is a warrior! She pulled through and did the entire two hour sequence without hardly any extra rests. This woman is amazing! Even the experienced practitioners at the end were getting tired. It didn’t help that this tiny room was PACKED OUT with yogis. The rule for setting up our mats was no more than 3 fingers apart from each other. With this many bodies in one tiny, closed off room with 2 lousy fans, things got a little hairy. For example, so many people were breathing and moving and sweating that by the time the class was over, everyone was laying in a giant pool of each others sweat. (cute. right?) When leaving the room, people had to tip toe out so they wouldn’t slip and fall on the soaking wood floor. (yummy). Well to say the least we were pretty beat at the end of that sequence. We were also sweaty, hungry and tired. Day one, class one down. 3 more to go? We didn’t know if we could handle it but we had a two hour break so we decided we’d figure our shit out then. We ran back to the hotel and showered instantly. Then scarfed down some noodle soup and spring rolls and headed back to our human sauna maker.

My fortune after our 2 hour class! #irony

My fortune after our 2 hour class! #irony

Well the next 3 classes were a lot more relaxed so we were thanking Kino for that. She talked more about philosophy and the history of Ashtanga and then we broke down a select number of poses and just worked through them over and over. Before we knew it, 2 days and 8 hours of Ashtanga had gone by… I completed my first workshop with Kino MacGregor! Brillant.

Kino doing her thing

Kino doing her thing

All in all, my mom and I had such a wonderful time just being together, and enjoyed the fact that we had each other so we didn’t feel dumb not being able to jump in handstands and balance on our forearms like everyone else in the class seemed to be able to do so effortlessly. At least we can say we tried! Kind of. yeah actually we just watched and even watching them made me too tired.

Martinis and pasta for dinner

Martinis and pasta for dinner

I am thankful that we were able to practice alongside some wonderful and talented yogis and that I had the opportunity to see Kino in the flesh, and know that no, none of her instagram pics are photoshopped.

So thanks Kino for spreading your knowledge with the world, and for allowing us neophytes to step into your classroom. Namaste.

The perfect anecdote to a hard weekend of Yoga

The perfect anecdote to a hard weekend of Yoga

A surprise visit to Toronto, Ontario

24 Oct

This past weekend I was granted the pleasure of surprising one of my friends, Laura Aloise, in Toronto, Ontario (In case you weren’t sure, yes, that’s in Canada). She is currently living there after moving from Florence, Italy where we met!

Little piece of the Toronto skyline

Little piece of the Toronto skyline

Let me do a quick recap of how this all came together. A few weeks ago, Laura’s boyfriend Mikey found me on Facebook and asked me to help him plan a surprise for his beautiful girlfriend. At first, the plan was for him to send Laura down to me in Raleigh so she could have a little getaway, but after some deliberation we decided that it would be nearly impossible to pull that off since she would eventually have to find out where she was going. Example, you can’t just force someone to go through customs at the airport and get on an airplane bound to God knows where with them blindfolded. It just wouldn’t work. So we changed the plan to me flying to Toronto to surprise her! Makes much more sense.

Mikey was suppose to pick me up from the airport, bring me to their apartment, then wait in silence until she arrived totally unsuspecting. But when I landed Mikey surprised me with a giant stretch limo and a driver! Very fancy.

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A few hours later Mikey and I were anxiously waiting with glasses of champagne to hear Laura’s footsteps down the hall. Our plan when she opened the door was to jump out and and attack her like female fight club (Bridesmaids anyone?) but we ditched that plan at the last minute for lots of hugs and champagne toasts!

Champagne Toasts!

Champagne Toasts!

When she opened the door and saw me standing there she screamed like a hyena then became utterly confused and said “wait, I don’t understand, how did you get here??” and I responded, “an airplane and a stretch limo brought me!”

Fresh juice at fresh!

Fresh juice at fresh!

 

We spent the remainder of our weekend basically just stuffing our faces. The food in Toronto is utterly divine. Our favorite restaurant is a vegan/vegetarian place called Fresh that we ate at twice in 2 days. Everything is local, organic, vegan and delicious! Our first trip I had the world’s greatest veggie burger and a fresh juice, (Apple, carrot and coconut water) and the second day I had a vegan breakfast made up of a tofu scramble, toast, baked beans and hash browns. Yummmyyy!!

 

 

 

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My second favorite restaurant was an Italian place called Ciao that had amazing Gnocchi! I had it with a fresh tomato sauce instead of the Gorgonzola and I devoured the entire thing in seconds.

After a weekend of lots of eating, drinking, shopping and talking we woke up to Monday morning when I was scheduled to return back to the States. I had such a great weekend with Laura and her wonderful boyfriend Mikey! I can’t believe its been almost a year and a half since she left me in Florence…

 

As for Toronto, its a beautiful city with amazing restaurants. It reminded me a lot of NYC, which also reminded me that I am definitely not a city person. I love visiting them but I am so happy to be back home in Raleigh, with my car and my fried food! hehehe

 

Dundas Sqaure, Toronto

Dundas Sqaure, Toronto

Just in case anyone plans on visiting Toronto soon the addresses of my too fav restaurants are below:

Fresh: 894 QUEEN STREET WEST

Ciao: 133 Yorkville Ave.

Ending note: Canadian money is plastic and un-rippable… how genius is that??

Did you know Canada shares Queen Elizabeth with England?? She loves being on their money!

Did you know Canada shares Queen Elizabeth with England?? She loves being on their money!

Living like an islander in the Turks and Caicos Islands

13 Sep

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Since I get extremely antsy staying in one place for too long, Wes and I booked a weekend trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands for a mini adventure in some new surroundings. This was kind of a last minute trip so we didn’t have too much time to plan our activities out in advance, but luckily for us, on an Island that has the most beautiful turquoise waters I have ever seen, the main attraction is SNORKELING. Since I am not yet Scuba certified, Wes and I decided to skip out on diving all together so we could do everything together and decided to venture out on our hotel bikes to the other side of the Island to Turtle Cove for some snorkeling. I bought a snazzy new snorkel set from a store down the street from our resort since sharing snorkels kind of grosses me out (I am not that into swapping old crusty spit from hundreds of people I’ve never even met, you know what I mean?)

Diving for sand dollars with my new pink snorkel

Diving for sand dollars with my new pink snorkel

I went for the black goggles and a pink snorkel!

Taking a break from our "highly not recommended" bike ride

Taking a break from our “highly not recommended” bike ride

The best part about this day was the bike ride we took from our resort to the famed snorkel spot at Turtle Cove. When we asked our concierge how long it takes to bike there, they assured us that its too far, unsafe, and not recommended in the killer heat. After hearing their comments we decided that they were all lying and went anyway. Well guess what? It was definitely a sweat inducing, dehydrating,sun scorching, quad burning workout in 100 degree weather and it took WAY. TOO. LONG. Oh and did I mention we only brought one dinky bottle of water? We almost DIED.  But we  made it there! and once we jumped into those beautiful waters we were back to our happy selves.

Ready to Snorkel!

Ready to Snorkel!

The worst part about the ending to this story is that we didn’t get to see any cool fish. LET DOWN!

and so I move on to the next day. After our snorkeling/island hopping excursion was cancelled because of weather, we decided to cab it to another famed snorkel spot a 10 min drive from our hotel. This time, as soon as we got in the water we saw amazing things! Baby barracuda, grown barracuda, crabs, sand dollars,  flounder, parrot fish and snazzy little electric blue fishes.

Snorkel smooches

Snorkel smooches

They have a portion of the reef blocked off with rope and buoys as to protect the coral. We decided we were brave enough to swim all the way out and around the blocked off portion (we saw a child doing it and figured it must be easy) but about 2.5 minutes into our trek we swam into this nice mama barracuda! This made us realize we couldn’t possibly swim any further without lunch and some tropical rum filled drinks. So we turned around, toweled off and enjoyed an afternoon in the sun.

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The scaweeee barracuda

After our snorkel adventure we went back to the hotel to watch the sunset over a couple of red stripes and relax under the warm Island sun.

The next night we met a nice couple from Canada who convinced us to sneak into Club Med with them with fake wrist bands to get free drinks. We got about 10 free drinks until the bouncer figured out our scheme, snatched our drinks out of our hands and kicked us all out. Note to those trying to sneak into club med: don’t ask the bouncer where the bathroom is when you are wearing a fake wristband and holding their free drinks!

More posts on what to eat and where to stay in Turks soon to come! Until then be sure to follow me on twitter @SaraLoch

xoxo Sara

3 Reasons Why I am Over Oktoberfest

13 Oct

I obviously LOVE to travel. Any chance I get I am researching new places to visit, moving obligations around in my busy schedule to squeeze out an extra few days of travel time in between priorities. But sometimes, I just want to be home. and then there are always those weekend trips that make you so happy to be back home in your own, warm bed, happy to have left for the weekend but even happier to be back home. After taking dozens of trips and mini-vaca’s I have found that one of my favorite parts of my adventure is finding myself back in my own bed, content in knowing that I have finally found the perfect city to call home.

This leads me to the topic of Munich’s famed Oktoberfest. Oh boy do I love this festival: Beer, chocolate covered fruit, rides, food, potatoes, hundreds of drunk Germans singing in German. Everything about it really is just fantastic. But after my 3rd trip to Oktoberfest, while I was unable to sleep, shivering in my tent in the freezing cold, listening to dozens of drunk Australians carrying on about God knows what, I realized… wow, I am so over this. It took a lot of self restraint to not pack up my bag, wake up my friend and book it to the nearest 5-star hotel (My friend, Vanessa, would of course have been delighted to run to more luxurious accommodations, neither of us are really cut out for the camping thing). So here are the three reasons why I will not be returning to the land of beer anytime soon:

Spaten!

1. While I ADORE Germany, I’ve already visited 4 times. Enough is enough! Been there, done that. This also goes for Oktoberfest, once you’ve seen it, its not that special anymore. I can drink overpriced beers and eat shitty over priced German food anywhere I want (yankee stadium comes to mind here).

I guess €10 is actually a pretty good deal in this case..

2. I’ve realized that I’m just too old for this shit. Camping? Cold? Dirty, shared showers? SPIDERS? Thanks, but NO. When I camped out in Munich three years ago I had the time of my life. The dirty sleeping bags, critter infested tents and loud, drunk Aussies didn’t bother me one bit, but at the slightly more mature age of 23 I’ve realized that if I am going to take valuable time off school and work I want to enjoy myself. and maybe get a massage.. a massage by a hot European therapist, not a gross German spider. There was actually one point in our trip where I went to grab my shoe from the outside of our tent and flipped a shit when I saw a spider taking a nap in it, I threw the shoe and starting screaming (obviously), I then made my way deeper into our tent to be closer to Vanessa when another spider dropped from the ceiling right in front of our faces… this time we BOTH started screeching like maniacs. When we exited the tent our tent neighbors were standing outside staring at us with blank faces (I’m pretty sure they think we’re nuts). Oh and least I forget to mention… I had to sleep with my pashmina wrapped around my head and face because I was so afraid that my sleeping bag might actually come into contact with my skin and I would develop some crazy German form of scabies and DIE.

Gahhh!!!!

3. I am now deathly ill. So, four short days after returning home from this wonderful weekend getaway, I have fallen ill. Runny nose, migraines, clogged ears the whole nine yards. and who is to blame for this horribleness? Yup, you guessed it. Fucking Oktoberfest. Well, more accurately the CAMPING at Oktoberfest. Why I thought I was cut out for camping is lost on me, but rest assured that my next trip will be done the right way… warm beds, hot showers and critter-less accommodations.

Chocolate covered fruit makes me happy

This doesn’t.

So in conclusion, while Oktoberfest is one of the greatest festivals on earth, and I did have another amazing time celebrating German beer with my amazing friend, 3 trips there might be considered “overkill”. Now i’m off to eat my feel good soup and drink my wonderfully steamy mint tea…

Ciao!