Tag Archives: Travel

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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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

And…. She’s Back

28 Aug

Helloooo again! It’s definitely been a long time since my last post, but let me tell you this, my life has been just hurled upside down then right side up again multiple times in the last few months since my return to the wonderful United States of America. Since I last spoke to you almost a year ago, I have traveled a bit more, moved to Raleigh, then moved to Cary, started working on a new business with my amazing little Dad and so much more!

My time back in the States has truly been an exciting whirlwind of life, love, family and friends. I wanted to write some great posts about the last few trips I have taken that unfortunately didn’t yet make it to the blog. These trips include, canyon jumping in Interlaken, Switzerland, eating amazing food in Hong Kong, working the public transportation system in Thailand and swimming in the most beautiful waters in the world in Turks and Caicos. I also may have a little local fun post coming up that will include write ups about the life of a local in Raleigh, NC (this reminds me of my typical life of a wannabe Italian post I wrote a few months back).

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This is me in a teeny tiny boat in Bangkok, Thailand

I am so excited to jump back into my blogging adventure, and I hope ya’ll stay tuned to see whats been happening over here in the life of little old me (don’t I sound like a southerner already??)

But in the mean time, be sure to follow me on https://twitter.com/SaraLoch to see some of my daily musings and rants… Ta ta for now!

A Typical Day in the Life of a (wannabe?) Florentine

28 Apr

After two miserable weeks of rain in Florence, spring has finally arrived! I don’t know if 85 and sunny counts as spring but since the calendar says its still April i’m sticking to it. Florence in the rain isn’t too exciting since most of the fun things are outside (no, I don’t consider spending 5 hours in the Uffizi looking at a million paintings titled “Madonna e Bambino” fun) but below are photos of things I do consider fun and maybe even necessary for human survival on planet Earth…

7:55am: Waking up to a view of the arno and a palm tree.. this qualifies as priceless

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9am: Starting the day off with a cappuccino ensures that more great things are yet to come, coffees from the Gucci Museum tend to be on the pricey side but whats more Italian than Gucci?

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9:30am: Riding your bike to work or school is pretty typical in these parts but since I am not cool enough (or brave enough) to ride a bike in Florence I just stick to walking (so 2011 of me)

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This view however, is worth the slower pace…

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12pm: Attending class at Florence University of the Arts. Yes that is a glass of wine next to my notebook and yes my notes do consist of detailed directions on the correct way to open up a bottle of wine

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2pm: Lunch time! Eating the best pizza (Gusta Pizza!) ever made that also happens to be shaped like a heart… amazing? Yes. Yes it is.

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3pm: The best gelato place ever ( La Carraia) happens to be very close to Gusta Pizza which means I get to calmly eat (aka devour) a post-lunch snack

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3:07pm: This is when I usually meet up with friends who look like this…

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To do things that look like this… (the only way to tan in Florence since the only patch of grass available belongs to a very thrifty pigeon)

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5pm: Since the activities of the day leave me quite exhausted I may decide to take a mid-day nap but if I am feeling chipper I will boost my energy level with another coffee…Image

at a trendy cafe with friends.. (pictured below is Brac Cafe, pictured above is a cappuccino from there but please note that I would never drink a cappuccino past 12pm because it is frowned upon by Italians and I don’t want to disappoint them since I am desperately trying to gain access into their exclusive club)

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6pm: At this time I will walk home to make dinner and devote some time to homework (when I say homework I mean check Facebook obsessively for 2 hours), pictured below is me walking home through the infamous Piazza della Signoria

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7:35pm: During dinner I will usually drink wine from a Tuscan vineyard like this one…

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7:43pm: One can never drink a glass of wine without munching on some locally crafted cheese so I may decide to run downstairs to pick one up from a variety like this…

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12am: This is my normal bedtime after catching up on all my trashy reality TV shows from the States (think Million Dollar Decorators, Its a Brad Brad World, the entire Real Housewives series). The photo below is the desk in my room which also doubles as a TV stand (my TV being my computer of course.. Italians don’t appreciate the science of flat screens and DVR)

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Buonanotte amici! (Goodnight friends!)