5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

COMMENTS: 9

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Malgosia Frej of The Fleeting Day guides us on a tour of Edinburgh’s best.

5 Things: Edinburgh
Malgosia Frej of The Fleeting Day

My husband and I moved to Edinburgh eight years ago for university, and we fell in love with its green parks, its sandstone houses, and the castle perched on top of an old volcano in the middle of the city. The Scottish capital has so much more to offer than just tartan, bagpipes, and haggis (a local delicacy). With its curious mix of medieval and classical architecture, rich cafe and restaurant culture, and its proximity to both mountains and the sea, Edinburgh is sure to please and surprise. A bonus: it can be easily explored on foot, so sightseers can take in the views and historic highlights at a strolling pace.

EAT:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

Nonna’s Kitchen, 45 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4AZ, +44 131 466 6767
The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Street, Edinburgh EH6 6LX , +44 131 555 1755

My personal favorite for dinner in Edinburgh is Nonna’s Kitchen — a family-run Italian restaurant with a super fresh daily menu, a good range of local seafood, and an overall homey feel. Another to try is The Kitchin, a Michelin starred gem, whose chef is fanatical about seasonal fare. The lunch menu is very reasonably priced at £28.50 for three courses, and offers a great way to sample Scottish cuisine.

Other favorites include Peter’s Yard for breakfast and Swedish pastries; La Garrique for one of the best wine lists in Scotland; Affogato for Italian gelato; and The Gardener’s Cottage, which grows its own veggies and has the perfect al fresco atmosphere in the summertime. For coffee, try Artisan Roast or Brew Lab.

SHOP:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

Walker Slater, 20 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2HG, +44 131 220 2636
The Red Door Gallery, Victoria Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2JW, +44 131 477 3255
Hannah Zakari, 43 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QB, +44 131 226 5433
Isle of Sky Candle Company, 93 West Bow, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2JP, +44 131 629 2800
Mr Wood’s Fossils, 5 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1JY, +44 131 220 1344

Victoria Street is one of my favorite places for gift shopping in Edinburgh. Walker Slater is the perfect place to get a Scottish Tweed jacket, coat, or woollen scarf. I also love The Red Door Gallery for local art and screen prints, Hannah Zakari for lovely jewelry, and Skye Candles, which are poured on one of the Inner Hebrides (the islands dotted on the West Coast of Scotland).

Whenever we have visitors with children we stop by the Mr Wood’s Fossils – a shop opened in the 80s by a fossil hunter, where you can buy whale bones, malachite stone, or even dinosaur’s poo. It’s invariably a big hit with young explorers!

STAY:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

Airbnb is always a good idea. My favorite neighborhoods are Stockbridge, which has plenty of family-friendly eateries, and Bruntsfield, which is located just by Edinburgh’s biggest park, The Meadows, with numerous cafes, restaurants and a great view of the Edinburgh Castle.

PLAY:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, +44 300 123 6789

I could spend days wandering around the National Museum of Scotland. It was recently refurbished and its collection is absolutely amazing. It has everything, from  history to design, astronomy to art to animals — it makes for a perfect morning out, especially if the weather is typically Scottish (i.e. constant rain). Insider tip: go to the top floor roof terrace for a great view of the castle and Edinburgh skyline.

Other favorites are Calton Hill and Blackford Hill — both offer amazing panorama views of the city, especially at sunset.

PACK:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Edinburgh

Hunter Boots, since they were originally manufactured in Edinburgh, in a factory 100m from where we currently live!  They’ll keep your feet nice and warm as you explore Edinburgh’s cobbled streets.

Thank you so much, Malgosia! (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.)

P.S. All entries in the 5 Things travel series.

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A Weekend in Stockholm

COMMENTS: 10

travel  A Weekend in Stockholm

travel  A Weekend in Stockholm

travel  A Weekend in Stockholm

I wish I could say it was I who spent the weekend in Stockholm, but alas no. My friend Carly (who has been helping me put together the Pinterest travel guides) recently spent several weeks in Sweden—including a weekend in Stockholm. As it’s one of the places I’d most like to visit, I asked if she would share some details of her trip…

I jumped at the chance to spend a weekend in Stockholm. I didn’t know what to expect: Stockholm has something of a bad rap for being expensive and, well, expensive. But I hope to encourage you to make a stop there—because Sweden is so much more than the place where IKEA was born, and Stockholm can easily rival, or even outshine, other major European destinations like London, Paris, or Rome.

travel  A Weekend in Stockholm
travel  A Weekend in Stockholm
travel  A Weekend in Stockholm

WHERE TO EAT:

There’s no other adjective for it, Nytorget Urban Deli is cool. Located in the hip Södermalm district, stop by for brunch on the weekends- yes, they do brunch in Stockholm- or come for dinner and drinks in the evening. There is a bar menu and rotating entrees to choose from, in addition to charcuterie plates and appetizers. The scene is a vibrant mixture of young professionals and families and the whole place sits in the middle of an upscale grocery store. Put your name down with the host, order a drink at the bar and go wander the shelves. Maybe you’ll find some Lakrits Syrup (licorice) to take home as a souvenir.

Another great option is Tradition, which offers traditional yet inspired Swedish food for a reasonable price, at two separate locations in the city. We visited the Vasastan restaurant and were impressed with the food which was executed expertly and loved the iconic minimalistic Swedish design.

Nytorget 4 116 40 Stockholm
Österlånggatan 1 (2nd location: Tulegatan 10)

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Where to See Wildflowers this Spring

COMMENTS: 11

travel  Where to See Wildflowers this Spring
travel  Where to See Wildflowers this Spring
travel  Where to See Wildflowers this Spring

Though it may seem premature to talk spring’s wildflowers to people in many parts of the country, I promise they’re coming. They tend to start blooming in the desert regions of southern California and then appear to the east and the north—adding color to fields and hillsides for a fleeting time. And if you want to see them at their peak, it helps to be vigilant—and flexible.

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48 hours in Las Vegas

COMMENTS: 13

travel  48 hours in Las Vegas

travel  48 hours in Las Vegas

Last month, I checked into the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas for my first solo getaway (and visit to the strip) in a long time.

It’s rare that I take trips away from my family, but this was hard to pass up: I’m working with Visa to share some of the perks of booking hotels on the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection website with your Visa Signature Card and they invited me to discover a few of them for myself. I have a Visa Signature Card that I already use all the time, so it was an easy call: Yes. It was a research trip. Hard work, really.

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San Francisco: Watching the Chinese New Year Parade

COMMENTS: 11

travel  San Francisco: Watching the Chinese New Year Parade
travel  San Francisco: Watching the Chinese New Year Parade

This past Sunday, we made our way over the bridge into San Francisco for the Chinese New Year Parade. Celebrating Chinese New Year with firecrackers, confetti, drums, and dragons had been a favorite tradition when we lived in New York, but this was my first time to see San Francisco’s display.

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Las Vegas: Visiting the Neon Boneyard

COMMENTS: 14

travel  Las Vegas: Visiting the Neon Boneyard

travel  Las Vegas: Visiting the Neon Boneyard

travel  Las Vegas: Visiting the Neon Boneyard

travel  Las Vegas: Visiting the Neon Boneyard

I’d always wanted to visit the Neon Boneyard. While Neon has been slowly replaced on the Las Vegas strip, classic signage like those that appeared at the Flamingo, the Sands, the Stardust and everywhere else are still emblems of the city for me.

YESCO, the Young Electric Sign Company—the manufacturer who created many of Vegas’s most iconic neon signs—had at one time started collecting old signage from the 1930s and beyond as hotels were demolished and as LED and LCD screens began replacing neon and incandescent bulb signs. Eventually, the company donated its collection to the Neon Museum (established in 1996), and the Allied Arts Council has been adding to the museum’s collection ever since.

When I was in town last week, I took a cab out to old Las Vegas to visit the museum and take their docent-lead one-hour tour—which begins in the lobby of the old clamshell shaped La Concha Motel.

travel  Las Vegas: Visiting the Neon Boneyard

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Shopping Abroad: On bringing back furniture from Bali

COMMENTS: 16

travel home  Shopping Abroad: On bringing back furniture from Bali

travel home  Shopping Abroad: On bringing back furniture from Bali

travel home  Shopping Abroad: On bringing back furniture from Bali

I sometimes look around our living room, realizing how many things are from the vacation we took just before moving in, and wonder if our lives would look very different had we been in Belgium rather than Bali. Seven of the items in the second photo are from our month in Indonesia.

And a lot of readers have asked about our experience bringing furniture back from Bali. I hope that means a lot of lucky readers are going to that beautiful island. But I imagine some of this could be helpful for anyone shopping abroad.

Here’s our story…

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Shake Shack Las Vegas

COMMENTS: 15

travel food drink  Shake Shack Las Vegas
travel food drink  Shake Shack Las Vegas
travel food drink  Shake Shack Las Vegas

You might recall that open letter I posted to Shake Shack a while back, pretty-pleasing them to come out west with us? I’m pleased to say that Danny Meyer’s wonderful little hot-dog-cart-turned-burger-joint has finally opened its doors west of the Mississippi—at, fittingly, New York, New York on the Las Vegas Strip. And now that they’ve gone public on the Stock Exchange, I have high hopes that they’ll be in California before too long.

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Toronto

COMMENTS: 8

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Toronto
In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen takes us on a tour of Toronto.

5 Things: Toronto
Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen

Though I’ve done my fair share of traveling to some pretty amazing places, I can’t imagine calling any city other than Toronto home. I was born and raised here, so I can attest to the fact that there is always something interesting going on—we’ve been blessed with a rich history, beautiful multi-culturalism, and all the bells and whistles to boot. Whether you’re looking for authentic Thai food (served in a coconut!) or the fanciest French restaurant you can imagine, we’ve got most every culinary base covered. And with a bustling art culture and world class shopping, you’re left with little to want. (I mean, a better transit system would be nice—#damnyouTTC—but you can’t always have it all.)

EAT:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Toronto
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Toronto
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Toronto
Me & Mine, 1144 College Street, (416) 535-5858
Kitten and the Bear, 1574 Queen Street W, (647) 926-9711
Buca, 604 King Street, (416) 865-1600
Nadège, 780 Queen Street W, (416) 368-2009
Bang Bang Ice Cream, 93 Ossington Avenue, (647) 348-1900
Bake Shoppe, 859 College Street, (416) 916-2253

My new favorite brunch in the city is Me & Mine. It’s slightly off the beaten path, but literally everything on the menu is drool-worthy. Also, Kitten and the Bear is the most adorable little shop in the West End, serving homemade scones and unique jams alongside steaming pots of tea. It’s teeny-tiny, with only two tables, so be sure to get there early!

Other favorites: Buca, a great spot on King Street West, where you’re sure to find fabulous Italian food (I dream about the tiramisu); Nadège, which makes the best almond croissant in the city; Bang Bang for ice cream sandwiches; and Bake Shoppe for classic, all-natural treats. You can’t go wrong!
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New favorite airplane snack

COMMENTS: 9

travel  New favorite airplane snack

I have a new favorite airport purchase:

A snack-pack of red pepper hummus and pretzels, plus hard boiled eggs. It’s just the right combination of salty and crunchy but it’s full of protein. It’s a little like the flavor of a deviled egg, and if I really stretch it can remind me of that one time Aron and I got bumped up to first class and they served us eggs topped with caviar and a little half-lemon covered in fine mesh for squeezing.

I’ve been noticing that most airports are trying to stock some healthier options in deli cases—I’ve seen those little Sabra travel packs of hummus and pretzels (also often sold in snack boxes for purchase in-air) and pre-hard boiled eggs in most domestic terminals I’ve visited lately. But even if you had to stash these in your carry-on at home, they’d make good travel companions as long as you don’t go over your liquid limit with the hummus.

travel  New favorite airplane snack
travel  New favorite airplane snack

With some tonic and lime, I feel like I’m having a very decadent treat. (And Hudson wants the hummus and pretzels, so we all win.)

Do you have a go-to snack on airplanes?

Aron is in Dallas right now for his oral board exams, and on Monday I fly to Las Vegas for a couple of nights, so I’m all ears.

P.S. Tips for flying with babies and toddlers and my carry-on essentials.

Also a few places I’ve contributed recently:
My cinema favorites—a film lover interview for the new production company, N Ø R R film.  
Top travel picks for Dot & Bo and some wanderlust on Salt & Air.

Have a great weekend!

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Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides

COMMENTS: 19

travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides

I’ve been working on something exciting that I’ve been looking forward to sharing! I get a lot of requests for itinerary advice and I’ve been trying to think of the best way to put it all together (I think I’ve been saying there’s a guide to New York City coming for at least 3 years). When I learned Pinterest had a map feature (you can geo-tag your pins), creating Pinterest-based travel guides seemed like the perfect way to make content (like Hither & Thither Travelogues, the 5 Things City Guides, and other posts) more usable on the go.

If you’re in New York near Washington Square Park, for example, you can bring up the New York board to see if there are any other pins nearby that might be relevant for your stay. Or if you’re planning a trip to Italy, you can see which hill towns we visited in Tuscany by zooming out on the map.

travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides

I enlisted the help of Carly Haase (a fellow Davis grad!) to look back through the archives and get these boards launched. So far there are map guides to Paris, New York City, San Francisco and Italy (we decided to feature and city or a country on a case-by-case basis). And while they’re not exhaustive, they are personal—each one features locations that I have been to, usually with my family, and carefully curated suggestions. Each one is an ongoing project.

Follow along on Pinterest: There are going to be new travel guide boards coming out every few weeks, with new pins regularly added, so be sure and follow along on Pinterest to access the guides.
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides
travel  Hither & Thither Pinterest Travel Guides

Let me know what you think!

P.S. More old-school Itineraries, and how I use a map to plan for spontaneity.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Chicago

COMMENTS: 9

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Chicago

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Chicago

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Amanda Jane Jones shows us the sights in Chicago.

5 Things: Chicago Amanda Jane Jones

Graphic designer and art director Amanda Jane Jones lives in Chicago with her husband, Cree, and baby daughter, Jane. When she’s not working—she is one of the co-creators of Kinfolk Magazine and the designer of issues 1-13—Amanda can be found exploring the city she calls home, and documenting the details of her day-to-day on Instagram. She and her family love to explore Chicago’s restaurants and you can usually find them on a bike ride along Lake Michigan (weather permitting), or strolling around their sleepy neighborhood of Hyde Park. Today, she’s sharing some of her favorite places, spaces, and things to do…

EAT:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Chicago

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Chicago

Plein Air Cafe, 5751 South Woodlawn Avenue, (773) 966-7531

Big Star, 1531 North Damen Avenue, (773) 235-4039

Plein Air Cafe is right in our neighborhood and everything on the menu is delicious—we’ve tried it all! During the summers, we walk there for lunch every week. It’s one of our favorite Hyde Park haunts for sure. We also recommend Big Star, whose tacos we love so much, we’ll even drive through Friday night traffic to get them. The atmosphere there can be a bit loud, though, so we usually order takeout and eat it in the comfort of our home.

SHOP:

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Travel to Cuba (& Friday Links)

COMMENTS: 14

travel  Travel to Cuba (& Friday Links)

travel  Travel to Cuba (& Friday Links)

travel  Travel to Cuba (& Friday Links)

travel  Travel to Cuba (& Friday Links)

This week has been very sunny and warm (a bit eerily so for January—sorry, New England), and still I find my mind wandering to tropical places. And news of thawing relations with and shifting rules for travel to Cuba have me reading up on the Caribbean island, specifically. I found myself seeking out some photographs by Jose Villa (best known for his wedding work)—these are from a few years ago, but you can see why they stuck with me.

Have any of you been to Cuba? Purely sun-and-sand vacations are still a no-go, but “purposeful” travel is now a possibility.

In the meantime, here are a few other items of note… 

Would you use a piddle pouch with your kid on the go? Could be handy!

I contributed a tip to Refinery 29 on getting upgraded on flights. (Though, sorry to say, upgrades are very rare these days.)
 
The New Yorker‘s funny response to those 36 questions one should ask to fall in love.

Aron loves Baklava. I just may have to try making this gorgeous Baklava-inspired cake one day.

Farewell, SkyMall. (Sorry, mom.)And welcome back, Keri Russel and The Americans! (And in great PR-timing: did you hear about the Russian spy ring in New York?)

Ikea is going to start offering vegan (meat)balls

Louis CK has a new standout album out, and he’s selling it directly.

The actual price of 17 famous TV-family homes.

And finally, we are firmly in 3-1/2-year-old territory (which I mean to write about in one of those Hudson updates one day soon), and this book series was recommended to me. (And, coincidentally, to a friend by a second source.) It’s wonderful—and I feel like understanding what’s developmentally appropriate is already helping me to be more… patient. I think I may need to order one for every year.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. More Caribbean Inspiration in the Travelogues. 

[All images by Jose Villa]
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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco

COMMENTS: 12

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco

travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Garrick Ramirez of Weekend del Sol guides us through North Beach, San Francisco.

5 Things: North Beach, San Francisco
Garrick Ramirez of Weekend del Sol

I love my North Beach neighborhood for its European feel and atmospheric patina. Like most older cities, it encourages aimless strolling and sight-seeing—tree-lined streets sport historic, human-scale buildings with ornate facades and vintage neon signage. Cafes and bars spill out onto the sidewalks fostering a vibrant street life. In the 50s, North Beach was a refuge for the finger-snapping generation of Beats and bohemians. Today, a new crop of eateries, cocktail bars, third-wave coffee shops, and hip boutiques keeps the village vibe humming.

EAT:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to North Beach, San Francisco

Tosca Cafe, 242 Columbus Avenue, (415) 986-9651

It’s tough to single out a favorite restaurant in food-obsessed San Francisco, but Tosca makes it easier with great food, expert cocktails, and ambience for days. Romantic, century-old interiors glow with flickering amber-hued chandeliers, red votives, and a vintage jukebox warbling old jazz and opera 45s.

Start with a pitch-perfect Negroni or a Polo Cup cocktail, which is a bright fragrant mix of gin, elderflower, cucumber, mint and basil. For dinner, I always order a shareable meal of guanciale-spiked Bucatini (Bon Appétit likes it, too), a better-than-it-should-be vegetable side, and two “secret” off-menu items: spicy meatballs and a thick, salt-crusted slab of aromatic rosemary focaccia. After dinner, sip a famous House “Cappuccino” made with local Dandelion chocolate.

A kid-conscious note: Tosca welcomes children, but the vibe doesn’t exactly speak to crayons rolling off the table all night. Instead, treat your little ones to Tacolicious where a kids’ menu doubles as a cut-out food truck with tips on how to run your own successful truck (apparently, Twitter accounts and tattoos help). Or get in line at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, where kids shape raw dough, parents nurse craft beer, and everyone enjoys one of the better pizzas in the city.

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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

COMMENTS: 16

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME
In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain of Map & Menu take us on a tour of scenic Portland, Maine.

5 Things: Portland, Maine
Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain of Map & Menu

There are so many things about Portland that drew us to this city six years ago. The ocean, the historic downtown, the people, the food (oh, the food!), and just the simpler pace of life in Maine’s largest city were enough to make us fall in love. (“Large,” of course, is a relative term—the population of Portland proper is only 66,000, a far cry from Boston just two hours south of us.) Still, there’s so much that this small town has to offer just about everyone, from natural beauty to tasty cuisine—and just about everything in between.

EAT:
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME
travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Portland, ME

People plan entire vacations to Portland around their meals, and limiting our selections to just a handful is nearly impossible. But if you’re only here for a short time, here are some of our favorite stops:

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Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

COMMENTS: 43

travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither! travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither! travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither! travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

travel style new york food drink family design california  Happy Six Years, Hither & Thither!

Funny thing. I wished Hither & Thither a happy sixth birthday last year, but I got ahead of myself somehow—a few years back, in fact! Someone finally corrected me. This year marks six years. The first post was a picture-less entry written by Aron, on January 19, 2009.

What I didn’t get wrong is that every year on here is worth celebrating. And it never ceases to surprise me—even as its demands ebb and flow—how much of a role Hither & Thither plays in my life now. I’m so grateful for all of the readers whom it engages—those who have come along since the start (when Aron and I were writing it together in New York) and those who just recently started reading. For me, it’s so rewarding to have such a supportive space in which to grow as a writer and a photographer, and to build a career of my own vision. But of course it’s often the conversations, the friendships made, the back & forth, that’s best of all.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. With a trademark lack of brevity, I’ve compiled a look back at this year’s highlights. I so enjoyed looking back through some of my favorite posts again; I hope you will enjoy this, too:

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5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

COMMENTS: 5

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

My husband Aron was given a ride in a glider—a motor-less flight—out of Williams, California, for his birthday… two years ago. He finally went up last fall, and I asked him if he’d write about it. 

As a child driving to San Francisco, I would often see gliders along the way and imagined someday that I would fly in one—listening only to the sound of the wind as I flew over the ground. But when I was given a ride as a birthday gift, I was nervous. I have a family, we were about to have a baby, and there’s no thrill in unnecessary risk right now. But I did some research, and learned that soaring is regarded as being just as safe as most other adventure sports; I shouldn’t let anxiety guide me. With my right brain doing the talking, I booked a date and, having done so, felt surprisingly more relaxed.

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

I was committed and that was probably a good thing: it was a little bit crazy to see the gliders along the “runway” at the glide center. They look so unsubstantial. More so when you see that the glider is simply towed behind a propeller plane via an ordinary looking rope attached to hook, before its release a few thousand feet in the air. I expected something more high-tech: a steel cable wrapped in a bionic coating or something.  I couldn’t decide if it was refreshingly simple, or nerve-wrackingly so. I tried not to think about it too much, and before I knew it our glider was lifting off the ground. In an instant, my nerves were calmed.

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

The next thrill happened when we released the the rope at 5000 feet. The plane banked left, we banked right, and were on our own. It turns out that “nothing but the sound of wind” is actually quite loud; but it was amazing to bank and turn in such a small plane. After slowly banking left and right, I told the pilot that I was ready for some more aggressive maneuvers. My favorites were stalling after a climb and then entering a steep dive—steep enough that I floated up off my seat, as did all of the dirt on the floor, and my camera on my lap. It reminded me of those free falls you do on drop rollercoasters, only the pulling up lasted much longer!

At around 2000 feet, we tried to come close to a vulture—but he buzzed off. Apparently eagles and hawks—having no natural predators, will let you get quite close, and sometimes will even try to attack the glider for coming into their air space!

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

It was an amazing thing to get to do, and I would happily do it again. But it also felt pretty great returning to my family who were waiting on the ground.

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

travel  5000 feet in the air: Views from a Glider

They had been burning rice fields nearby on the day Aron went up, so visibility was less than it can be, but the folks at Williams Soaring Center said that on clear days you can see Mount Shasta in the distance. Has anyone else been up in a glider? My stomach did a little flip just driving up, but I can imagine some amazing landscapes one could enjoy from this perspective. Thank you, Aron! 

P.S. My own (mild) phobia

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5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

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travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Anna Burns of Dear Friend shows us what’s not to be missed in Boston.

5 Things: Boston
Anna Burns of Dear Friend

It’s no secret that Boston is my favorite city. I moved here just after graduating college—almost 10 years ago to be exact—and I haven’t looked back since.

Just two hours from Portland, Maine, and even less to parts of the Cape and Rhode Island, you could easily find yourself enjoying a day trip to the beach in the summer or hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the fall.

The city of Boston is known for being the walking city—most areas are completely accessible by foot or by train, and if you’re in a pinch, there’s always an Uber around, too. We’ve got great history, the best seafood, and, without a doubt, charm and beauty at every corner (if you know where to look).

EAT:
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston
travel  5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Boston

Neptune Oyster, 63 Salem Street, (617) 742-3474

When in Boston, eating seafood is a must. And oysters? The best! Try Neptune Oyster on Salem Street in the North End for the coziest, most delicious dinner this side of the Charles River. With only a handful of tables and a bar that’s always packed, the wait for this place can certainly be significant—but it’s worth it! Put your name in, walk around Hanover Street, get yourself a cannoli (Modern Pastry is my personal favorite), or a drink at Bricco or Lucca. Then come back to Neptune when a seat opens up (they’ll call you on your cell to let you know). Once inside, enjoy the warm light and a glass of wine, then decide which dishes strike your fancy. I highly recommend the buttermilk johnnycake and the hot Maine lobster roll. Everything is just so good—you will absolutely love this place.

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