California Here We Come

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By the time this post goes live, I’ll be in California. I’ll be in LA for three sun-soaked days saying hello to some of my dearest friends (Christina, I’m looking at you). After LA, Mike and I will drive north to Ojai for a day strolling through the town and camping in a state park – I haven’t been to Ojai since in years but I have the fondest memories of visiting the town with my whole family when I was little. From Ojai, we head to wine country for a family wedding. This too promises to be full of sun and smiles. And then, the most exciting part of the whole trip — 3 days in Big Sur.

Despite taking many road trips (and even a dedicated west coast road trip), Mike and I have never been to Big Sur. We’re already planning breakfast at Big Sur Bakery, afternoons at Pfeiffer Beach, and sunsets at McWay Falls! The final leg of our trip will be two nights in the Bay Area. It’s going to be 10 magical days of Joni Mitchell, California produce, stunning views, walks along the beach, and long chats in our rental car. I can hardly wait….

Chelsey

Austin, TX

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In May, Michael and I found a short moment between his graduation and my work to fly down to Austin for some much needed r & r. The trip wasn’t nearly long enough and Texas floods meant we didn’t get to go out on the boat quite as often as I would have liked. But, we managed to have a truly delightful trip made up of slow mornings, long walks with my dad’s new puppy, Texas BBQ, and even an adventure to Johnson City for homemade peach ice cream and a tour through one of the vineyards.

 Enjoying the handmade peach ice cream they sell on the roadside every spring and summer in Johnson City. 

Enjoying the handmade peach ice cream they sell on the roadside every spring and summer in Johnson City. 

                                                                                  So much beautiful produce! 

                                                                                 So much beautiful produce! 

  Brought my  Marias ' to the farm. 

Brought my Marias ‘ to the farm. 

 Lazy mornings and some pretty perfect light. 

Lazy mornings and some pretty perfect light. 

 A dog walk complete with a dreamy sunset and the scent of white oleanders. 

A dog walk complete with a dreamy sunset and the scent of white oleanders. 

Mexico Magic

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Last week, I hopped on a plane for a few short but beautiful days in Mexico. Once again, I was visiting my dear, dear god-sister in Mexico City. But this time around, we ventured out into the countryside for a weekend in ‘the real Mexico’,

We visited the small town of Tepoztlan, a couple hours drive south of Mexico City. The entire town sits in the cradle of towering mountains. The cobblestoned streets are lined with brightly-colored houses, vigilantly guarded by scrappy dogs. Every which way you turn, you’re greeted with the power and beauty of nature. It is strangely relaxing to be so consistently reminded of your size in the grand scale of things. 

The first morning, we hiked up the Tepozteco Mountain to see El Tepoztecoa, a small temple dedicated to the Aztec god Tepoztecatl. The hike isn’t too long (about 45 minutes) and just strenuous enough to make the view (see above) feel really worth it. 

Later in the afternoon, we took a stroll through the market place. The markets here are everything you could ever want them to be. Brimming and bustling. A hive of activity. Young girls lined up in a row, kneading out dough for their tortillas. Weathered women butchering chickens with a chef’s familiarity. Old ladies seated on crates shelling beans and selling cactus. Young children racing through narrow aisles ferrying fruits and vegetables between market stalls. It was loud and hot and filled with the smell of sautéing mushrooms and zucchini flowers. 

Mostly, I spent the weekend drinking Mezcal, strolling through flower-lined streets, and eating handmade tortillas. It felt so good to truly be on vacation. I travel a lot and a lot of the travel I do is in big cities. I love visiting them; soaking up the culture, enjoying the incredible food, walking the streets for hours on end. But sometimes, these trips can leave me exhausted and ready for a vacation from my vacation! It was so delicious to take a weekend and move slow, enjoying the beauty around me and the people I love. 

Here’s to more magic in Mexico!

Chelsey

P.S. A few suggestions in case you ever visit:

Lunch here. The most amazing view + authentic Mexican food.

Visit the markets and bring plenty of cash – there’s great food and incredible ingredients but there’s also an entire market dedicated to clothes, crystals, hammocks, hand-weaved baskets, and more. If only my suitcase had been bigger!

Hike Tepozteco Mountain early in the morning before it gets too hot. The temple site doesn’t open until 9:00am but it will take a good 45 minutes to get up there. 8:30am is a good start time. 

Get spiritual. Tepoztlan is a bit of a spiritual hotspot and there’s some seriously healing energy believed to be present. Indulge in a little healing whether it’s going for a massage, picking up a new crystal, or getting your tarot read. 

 

Roma

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What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Rome? It was just pure magic. Myself, Michael and our two good friends had just two days in the city and we walked the shoes right off our feet. A few suggestions in case you find yourself in Italy’s capital any time in the near future.

 A walking tour. We started our trip this way and it was a great choice. It meant we got a whistle-stop tour of most of the monuments (so we knew what we wanted to go back to later) and some incredible facts about the city and it’s history. I’ve also found that a walking tour at the beginning of a trip is an easy way to get familiar with the layout of a city. Plus, it’s free!

Cacio e Pepe. Because, when in Rome… This great spot is walking distance from the center of the city (so many places I found were a good 20 minute cab ride) and we were pretty much surrounded by locals when we were eating there. And yes, it was delicious! (Rome is a reservations city, call ahead).

The Pantheon. It’s in incredible condition, it’s a crazy amalgamation of Greek, Roman and Christian art and architecture, it’s stunning, it’s free, and a lot of people can go in at the same time so there are rarely lines. It was breathtaking. 

Monti. Is a hip, cool area of the city where many a young twenty-something can be found. We stayed in this area and it was great. Not too touristy and walking distance to everything. Plus, there are some great spots to eat and drink (La Casetta is a gorgeous little cafe covered in vines, Fatamorgana has some damn fine gelato, Mikiway is a concept store filled with stylish clothes, cool decor and charmng knick knacks). 

The Forum, The Coliseum, Piazza Navona, The Spanish Steps…there’s just too much and it’s all so good! I highly recommend downloading historical podcasts for when you’re strolling through the monuments. It’s a cool way to put your whole experience in context.

There’s about one million things I didn’t get to see that I wish I had seen, but that’s for another trip… 

xx

Chelsey

 

 

 

 

P is for pARIS

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It all started in the nadir of winter when we were hosting the Girl Gift Gather Book Club. The book we were reading, The Artist’s Way, asked us to write a letter from our 80-year-old self to our current self. Among the suggestions that I relax, have more compassion, and use eye cream (my imaginary 80-year-old self is trés wise), there was a recommendation that I travel alone.

As you may know, I’m big into travel. But, travelling solo never seemed like an option. Like many young women, I was fed a myth that it was dangerous, risky and asking for trouble. When an opportunity came about for me to spend three days by myself in Paris, during my birthday no less, my 80-year-old self challenged this way of thinking. Of course I can travel alone. I live in New York City. I can handle anything! Certainly the charming streets of The City of Lights.

So, on the eve of July 29th I boarded a plane to Charles De Gaulle and the adventure began. I arrived in Paris the morning of my birthday bleary eyed and buzzing with excitement. I got to my charming studio apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, showered and immediately took myself to lunch around the corner at Café de Flore. Over a glass of rosé and those delicious potato chips they serve, I basked in the Paris sunlight and watched the people go by (I even spotted Sofia Coppola).

My days were filled with wanderings and wonderings. During my strolls through Jardins des Tuileries and the Marais, I noticed how much easier it is to marvel at a city when you don’t have a companion to distract you with chatter and conversation. Free of anyone else’s agenda, I took my sweet time planning my days, changing my plans and pursuing each and every one of my whims. One day, I ate only a croissant, a chocolate eclair and a Berthillon ice cream before dinner. It was marvelous!

My blue journal became my companion as I sipped cappuccino at Boot Cafe and aperitif at Cafe Charlot. Even now, when I read through my rambling notes and descriptions of the beautiful Parisian couples surrounding me at Chez Julien, I am filled with a joy unknown to me before this trip.

I am an amenable person. I’m constantly trying to find a balance between what I want and what others want. But travelling alone freed me of my constant negotiations. Without anyone to consider or please, I could prioritize myself in a way that is particularly challenging for me during my day to day. In some ways this trip was a crash course in getting to know myself. And one of the most valuable things I learned is how much I enjoy my own company. The journey culminated in taking myself out to a nice dinner at Clamato (it was ridiculously amazing). I sat at the bar, left my phone, my book and even my journal in my bag and enjoyed an hour and half long meal–alone. No distractions. Just me. It was one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.

 

I’ll be sharing a Paris travel guide and some more thoughts on traveling alone on the blog in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Chelsey 

The Open Road

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Tomorrow, I will be on a plane from NYC to Austin. I’m leaving for a long weekend to spend five days driving a friend’s 26 foot UHaul halfway across the country with Michael. Some people think this is a truly insane way to spend my time. But, I cannot wait. Michael and I drove across the country a couple of years back and it was an exhausting and exhilarating experience. We also road-tripped from Portland to LA one Summer, stopping in the Redwoods to camp and stare in awe at the mind blowing beauty. Driving in a car together is sort of a favorite past time for us. We listen to whole albums. I read him long-form articles from the The New York Times and New York Magazine. We play books on tape and podcasts. We visit strange and beautiful parts of the US. And we talk. We talk about anything and everything and we have nothing but time and the open road ahead of us. 

This time around, I’m joining Michael halfway through the journey (he left from DC on Monday). Together, the two of us will start in Austin, TX and make our way to Los Angeles, Ca. But first, we’ll visit my dad and swim in Lake Travis, sleep in a Safari Tent in Marfa, TX, stay with family friends in Phoeniz, AZ and eat In N Out on the West Coast. Here’s to the open road!

Chelsey

On the cape

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When Michael was a kid, he went camping on Cape Cod every summer. The long peninsula made up of fifteen towns is home to many of his childhood memories. He took me for a visit last August and I immediately fell in love with the ponds, bike trails and seafood shacks. So this summer, we knew we had to schedule a visit. We packed our car with tents and sleeping bags and headed out to Nickerson State Park.

Our weekend was made up of long bike rides along the rail trail, afternoons at the beach and evenings in the clear, cool ponds. We saw Jurassic World at the Drive-In movie theater and ate soft-serve with sprinkles every day. In the evenings, we threw corn on the camp fire and roasted marshmallows as we read aloud to one and other from Catcher In The Rye. This trip, we even managed to visit the Cape Cod Lavender Farm which is about the dreamiest place ever. We’re planning on making our camping trip a summer tradition! I’m still getting my bearings out there but hopefully next Summer I’ll have a guide for you. For now, just a few pictures of our weekend on the Cape…

Chelsey 

Explore: Mexico City

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I found myself in awe of Mexico City’s bright colors, cosmopolitan vibe and rich culture. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite things to see, eat and do in this city! 

We started our mornings with cappuccino and croissants at Panaderia Rosetta. It’s a charming little (read tiny) spot with flowers painted on the wall and a bustling bakery in the background. It’s tucked away on a tree lined street in La Roma where trendy, young types linger outside with puppies and pastry.

For me, the best spot in the city is a toss up between the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Mercado Jamaica. Frida’s museum is actually inside her childhood home, La Casa Azul. It is a world of color and history, story and creativity. Her light-filled studio, dotted with paint splatters and hanging mirrors feels deeply inspiring. 

The Mercado Jamaica is one of Mexico City’s largest markets. There’s food (an amazing array of produce and sweet candies) and even toys and furniture, but what we came for were the flowers. Upon entering the covered market, you are enveloped in the most beautiful perfume of tuberoses, lilies and eucalyptus. Tea roses are packed neatly into bundles. Gladiola’s lay on top of one and other in color-coded coordination. Daffodils and iris’ and tulips fight for your eyes’ attention. It’s sort of the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen. 

The San Angel Inn is a former Carmelite Monastary located across the street from the Diego Rivera Studio Museum. This historic building has been turned into a fancy restaurant with a stunning courtyard. Skip the stuffy meal in favor of one (or two) of their world-famous margaritas. 

One of my favorite experiences in Mexico City was the Mexican lunch. This starts as early as 2:30 and as late as 4pm. You eat slowly, starting with appetizers and finishing with aperitifs and traditional coffee cocktails. For our first lunch, we ventured into the stunning Rosetta. A sky light hangs above the small center room as ferns and vines creep up the wall. The food is magnificent. I’m still dreaming about the bread (it comes from the restaurant’s bakery, Panderia Rosetta, mentioned above). We sat down at 2:30pm and left at 7:30pm feeling triumphant, deliciously full and just a little tipsy. 

A few tips and things to keep in mind:

Uber is your best friend in this city. Many phone companies allow for unlimited data and texting in Mexico and Canada and if you’re lucky enough to have that situation, you’re best picking up Ubers everywhere you go. It’s safer than most taxis and far cheaper. (My 45 minute drive from the airport cost me $7). 

The National Museum of Anthropology is amazing — I didn’t get to go but everyone I know raves about it.

The Pryamids are well worth a visit. It is a lofty trip though — a solid hour/hour and a half outside of the city but very interesting and there are lots of tour guides available to educate you on the history of the area.

It’s a HUGE city. I did so much and saw so much and I barely scratched the surface. Make sure you take your time, enjoy yourself and sip lots of Mezcal!

Chelsey

xx