Postcards from Mexico

A couple of weeks ago, we traveled to Mexico for a long weekend to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. We spent the weekend in San Patricio, and admittedly, we did absolutely no research before leaving! … no, wait, we *tried* to do some research the night before we left, but found very little information.

It wasn’t until we returned that I realized that the problem was because I was searching for “San Patricio travel guide”, but the area is also known as Melaque. If only I would have searched Melaque, I would have found a few more results, but still the info is a bit slim. So, with this , I thought I would give some details about our vacation in the hopes that it helps others traveling to the area.

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Why Mexico? We had a few restrictions when picking a location, and Mexico was the one spot that fit the bill!

  • travel time and ease of travel : We wanted to do something special for this big birthday, but because of work schedules, time was limited and it was essential to go somewhere that didn’t require too much travel for anyone in our party (we were meeting up with Calder’s dad, his sister & her family, and his brother). Fortunately, everyone was able to book a direct flights from their respective cities to Puerto Vallarta, and from there it was about a 3.5 hour drive to San Patricio.
  • time zone change : since we were traveling with kids, not having a big time-change meant that everyone would (hopefully) sleep easier on this quick trip. In my opinion, if you’re taking off more time for a trip, then spending a day or two adjusting to time zones isn’t a big deal, but if you only have four days, then it can really put a kink in the vacation.
  • somewhere Calder’s dad would like : It was his birthday after all :-). His top choices were Hawaii, France, and Mexico, and immediately we realized that we didn’t have enough time to make the longer Hawaii and France trips.
  • expense : It’s always nice when traveling with a lot of people to pick a location where money wasn’t an issue for anyone. Then everyone can just focus on the fun! If that’s a concern for you, then traveling to this area of Mexico is a great option!

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Rainy Season?

We settled on San Patricio because Calder’s dad had been there about 10 years ago and enjoyed it. It’s a really small town right on the beach. The area is a vacation destination for Mexicans and is very popular with older Canadians and Americans who like to spend their winters somewhere warm. As a result, the area has a well defined off season which also corresponds to the area’s rainy season, which is June – October.

Traveling during the “rainy season” may deter some travelers, but it’s never bothered me. In addition to this trip, I’ve also traveled to India and Costa Rica during their rainy seasons, and in every case, I didn’t regret it and did not feel inconvenienced. On this trip, the only rain we experienced was while driving from the airport to the beach, then there was not a drop while we were in San Patricio! On my other trips, there was often one rain storm during the day, but it never lasted long and was often a good moment to be inside napping, researching our next outing, or reading.

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Accommodations

We stayed at Hotel Vista Hermosa. It was a great hotel right on the beach with a swimming pool {a key requirement for this family!}. We reserved three two-bedroom suites, and they each came with their own kitchen. Once we arrived, we realized that we definitely could have reserved smaller rooms. The suites each had 5 beds (two in one bedroom and three in another)! They were definitely designed for larger families in mind. The kitchens were detached from the main suite – they were right across the “hall” (open-air walkway) from each other. The kitchen area contained a full kitchen and all of the utensils and dishes you would need for cooking meals at home. It’s so nice having that option when traveling with kids!

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We made our reservations by calling the hotel directly. It’s helpful if you know some Spanish, because their English is a bit rusty (but so is our Spanish!). After making reservations, they sent us confirmation emails and we used email for more communication. We paid $55/night/suite. The hotel has gated off-street parking, which we used the first two nights, but our sense of the area is that it seemed really safe and our rental car didn’t stick out, so we then parked on the street for the last two nights.

We were all really happy with the place where we stayed, but if you’re going to the area, know that there are other hotels and it looks like there are a lot of personal condo and apartment rentals available through Airbnb and HomeAway.

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Food and Drinks

Having the kitchen in our suite, we bought breakfast supplies on the first morning and ate breakfast in our room every day, but ate out for lunches and dinners.

I packed some back-up foods in case we were in a situation where there was nothing appropriate for the boys to eat. In our bag was turkey jerky (a new favorite of Alex’s), Cliff bars, applesauce and fruit smoothie packs. Fortunately finding food for the boys was never an issue, but those portable snacks are still handy for the car and plane rides.

We drank only bottled water – we like to buy it in big 5-liter jugs and just refill smaller bottles for walking around. Unfortunately, I held back and didn’t drink any of the agua frescas or horchatas because I was worried about water and ice contamination. The boys would order fresh coconut water at dinner every night and loved the novelty of drinking it straight from the coconuts!

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There are a couple of little grocers in the center of town where we picked up eggs (you tell them how many you want and pay by weight!), tortillas, avocados, grapefruits, milk, and cereal. For coffee, we mixed instant NESCAFEs in our room (somehow instant coffee tastes good when you’re on vacation on the beach!).

While there were plenty of restaurants to choose from, it was clear that a few were closed for the off season. For example, I walked past this cafe and it was still closed, but it looks like it’d be a great place for a morning cuppa. You can see restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor, but again, we didn’t read any of those until we got back, and I would say it was a good thing. Some of the places that are more highly reviewed seemed like they cater to tourists looking for American food. When we went out, we wanted either local seafood dishes (we saw the fisherman in the bay every morning!) or Mexican food. The town is small enough that it’s easy to walk around and find a place to eat.

For lunches we would walk into town and eat at one of the smaller places. There’s a little alley in the center of town that is only for foot traffic and has dozens of small eateries. They are mostly one-room places where the store-front is a small bar with seats (below Calder and Alex are eating on the kitchen side of one of these bars).  We liked the one below so much that we went back a second time.

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For dinner, we would walk along the beach and eat at one of the larger restaurants there. Many of them served a variety of seafood, but some are those that cater to tourists looking for burgers and Caesar salads, so it’s worth reading the menus before you commit (we decided to walk out of one after being seated – oops). The awesome thing about eating on the beach is that the boys could play in the sand while we sat at the tables and talked!

The only problem we experienced with eating out was the restaurant hours. The places in town that served lunch then closed by dinner time. And many of the ones that served dinner had kitchens that closed at 7pm! We’re assuming these are seasonal hours (at least for the larger restaurants serving dinner), but it’s something to be aware of.

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To-Do

We were going on this short trip to relax with family and enjoy the beach and pool, and that’s exactly what we did! There are many shops that sell beach toys, floats, life vests, etc. Rather than pack these bulky items, we just bought a selection of toys while we were there (it was a lot of fun for Alex to be in charge of what we selected!). All items were relatively cheap, so we were happy to leave the beach toys on the beach and the floats at the hotel pool for someone else when our vacation was over. We did end up bringing the life vest home because it fit Alex so well and it seems like we can always use an extra when we have friends visiting.

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mexico29If you’re looking for more to do, I can’t really help, but it does seem like there are some nice day-trip options in the area. The Colima volcano is not too far away!

Etc.

  • Driving : I’m sure many people would be put off by the long car ride from the airport to San Patricio. I know that we weren’t sure what to expect. BUT I’m here to tell you that it’s a piece of cake (almost – more on the pit-falls and pot-holes tomorrow!). You are on one road the whole way (rt. 200), and that road leaves directly from the airport in Puerto Vallarta so it’s impossible to get lost AND for most the way, the road is really nice quality. It starts with some twists and turns in the mountains, but then opens up to a wide, straight road.
  • Language : Perhaps this is a seasonal thing, but it seemed that a basic understanding of Spanish would be helpful. None of us are proficient (I learned my Spanish on Sesame Street, only sort of kidding), but traveling with the group helped because when someone didn’t know a word, another person did.
  • Beach : The waves on our section of the beach were particularly rough and not kid-friendly, but they were a lot of fun for bigger kids and adults. Since we had the pool nearby, this wasn’t a problem. The boys would go back and forth between the sand and the pool (showering off in between, obvs). I’ve read that the waves are more mild farther along the beach, but we didn’t check it out. The middle of the day was so hot on the beach, and we noticed that not many people would be out, but it was more crowded in the mornings and evenings, so after a day or so, that’s the beach schedule we adopted too.

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I know it’s not very specific, but that’s our 411 on San Patricio, Mexico. In summary, it was a beautiful little town on the western coast that wasn’t overcrowded with tourists in September and was a relatively affordable weekend vacation. I hope you’ll visit!

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Visit Arches National Park & Moab, Utah

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It’s Wednesday, you’re half way through the week that means you deserve to procrastinate by looking at pretty pictures of Moab, Utah. I’ve only visited Moab once, but I have not stopped thinking about it since. People are shocked by my profound love of Utah, but if you’ve never been, you need to stop yappin’ and start packing. After all, a few of the most scenic national parks are located there.

The following photos were taken at Arches National Park. Standing in the midst of such vibrant colossal rock formations was surely grounding. Upon entering the park, I read the history of Arches then spent the next several days trying to imagine the landscape as it changed throughout the ages. I believe connecting with the landscape and witnessing earth’s transformation is a powerful conservation tool for current and future generations. Getting to know and appreciate the natural beauty in the world will surely encourage you and others to be an active participant in securing these spaces for future generations. If you haven’t visited Arches yet, call a few buddies or load the family into the car and experience history, geology and immense beauty this year.  Continue reading

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Living The Tao of Pooh

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”

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Hi friends!  A couple weeks ago, I took a quick trip to Philadelphia to help my childhood friend move into her first home.  As I’m waiting at the airport, I thought of another amazing friend and sent him a quick text, ‘hey, pick me up on your motorcycle!’ I totally expected the text to be the start of another conversation instead of an actual accepted invitation. A few hours later, I’m waiting at the PHL terminal and a shiny blue motorcycle pulls up. I’m handed a helmet, I swing my leg over the seat and we’re off, speeding down I-95 towards the city of Brotherly Love.

After an iced chai and a funny catch-up chat, we headed to his house in my old neighborhood, Fishtown. I sat down and looked over his prints from a recent trip to the UAE, Oman and Turkey. While I could have looked at them for hours, the photo editor in me flipped through them insanely fast only allowing a fraction of the photos to leave an imprint in my mind. I can still imagine them today. I’m excited to see how he uses my favorites, but also the images that I may have passed by too quickly. Photos are magical in that the way in which you use them can completely alter the image and message. Saleem has an uncanny ability to work with his photographs in this manner.

While I was shuffling through the images, I kept thinking of my childhood friend, Steph, the one I was supposed to be helping move in. I was torn in opposite directions, stay and hang out with Saleem who so kindly picked me up from the airport or rush off to Steph’s since she was expecting me. I hated the creeping feeling of guilt so after a quick pitbull play session and a few minutes of chill time in the backyard I said my goodbyes to Saleem.

saleem-ahmed-turkey-1 Continue reading

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Postcards from the Rockies

If you’d like to see more of our outdoor adventures, here’s a post from another car-camping trip with the boys, and here are a few of the hikes we’ve documented.

This past weekend we went on a short one-night camping trip near Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and had such a great time. We didn’t do any major planning or packing, just a couple of hours Saturday morning, and then we started driving during nap time, and by the afternoon we found a campsite (more on that below), then we woke up Sunday and took off for a hiking destination that was in the direction of home, and we made it back to our house by late afternoon. It was a short but sweet trip that left everyone happy and tired.

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One thing that still overwhelms me since moving to Boulder is how crowded hiking and camping areas are in this area. I understand that it’s the confluence of living near a large urban area (with a high percentage of people that like to get outside) and living near some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (I may be biased), but wow – there seem to be crowds at every campground, on every hiking trail, and on every road. I’ll get used to it eventually. The problem is that it makes it hard for non-planners like us to go for an adventure on a whim.

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Yoga Teacher Training Packing List

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Namaste. Ready for your yoga retreat? Freaking out because you’re so excited and don’t know what to pack? Sweet. I gotcha covered. You basically need nothing except a great attitude, but I’ll round out the list with a few other essentials.

Ever since posting about my experience at Rishikul Yogshala’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in Nepal, I received emails from prospective students asking, ‘WTF do I pack?!’ and the answer is so simple. You don’t need much.  Imagine what you take to a yoga studio each time you go to practice. Imagine all the things you leave at home. Now pack accordingly.

Yoga Teacher Training / Retreat Packing List:

  • Yoga mat
  • Drink bottle
  • Hand towel
  • Full sized towel / yoga towel if you use one
  • Light blanket or sarong (this is really more of a travel in general must, but it’s very useful if your retreat is going to incorporate Yoga nidra or if you get cold during savasana.)
  • A few yoga outfits – whatever that means to you.
  • Slip on shoes – flip flops or something similar since you’ll be slipping in and out of your shoes each time you enter the studio.
  • A notebook and pen
  • A light read or an ipod with some calming tunes. Sometimes you’ll need to fall asleep (teacher training starts early!), but you’ll still feel energized from all the asana so bring a tool that drifts you off to dreamland.
  • A snack to quell hunger at inconvenient times. I usually take raw pine nuts, almonds or walnuts or a box of these fig bars.

Things To Leave At Home:

  • Expectations
  • Extra Work (including your blog, sorry!)
  • Social Media & Your Love of Wifi

That rounds out the essentials. Here’s the complete Yoga Teacher Training Packing List that I used specifically for the Rishikul Yogshala 200hr YTT in Pokhara, Nepal.

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If you are contemplating a yoga teacher training, I highly recommend Rishikul Yogshala.

 

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Postcards from the Eastern Shore

For the past few summers, the boys and I have spent a big chunk of August, crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay, jumping waves at Assateague Island National Seashore, and visiting with our east coast family. If you’re interested, here are photos from our 2014 (one & two) and 2015 trips.

It’s so amazing and special to me to be able to share the beaches that I grew up going to with Alex and Luc. I love expanding their horizons and teaching them about the sea, marsh, and island life that’s so different from the mountains of Colorado. And, most importantly, I’m so happy that we’re able to give my family such a long stretch of time to visit with the boys. We like to stay until we’ve worn out our welcome and Baba’s ready for us to “get the heck out of here”. But don’t worry, while we may have worn out our welcome this year, we’ll be back next summer to do it all over again!

Today I wanted to share a few photos from our trip so that you can get a feel for the area. I’m hoping to follow up this post with a more detailed list of places to visit and things to do in the area.

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Travel To New Orleans – A Day In Bywater

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One day in Bywater, you say? Great! Grab your camera and your purse (or pack) and let’s go…

First stop in at Satsuma for fresh juice, coffee and a bite to eat. Each morning I ordered a shot of celery and lime juice with lots of cayenne. After you’re fueled up, sift through the antiques, oddities and treasures in the shops on the same block.

Mosey around the neighborhood snapping photographs and marveling at the restored shotgun houses, murals and community gardens.

When hunger and heat strike, stop at the neighborhood bar, Mimi’s in the Marigny, for some tapas and cold brews. Always, always, always order the ‘Trust Me’ tapas. There’s a pool table and upstairs lounge as well if you’re looking to hang out for awhile.

After lunch, relax near the water in the lovely gardens of Crescent Park. I recommend entering the park at the Mandeville Crossing entrance at Marigny and N Peters Street and walking east until you see the rusty rainbow foot bridge.

For dinner you can keep it quick at Pizza Delicious or you can treat yourself at The Franklin. If you don’t make it to The Franklin for dinner though, you must stop in for cocktails. Try the Pompila or the G.N.T. Peel.

That’s that my friends. Hopefully you have enough energy to go listen to some live music after a full day of Bywater bliss.

*This post was inspired by a single film photo taken on my first evening in Bywater at the corner of Mimi’s in the Marigny. Take a seat on the balcony for sunset and watch Flora Gallery & Coffee Shop light up during the golden hour.

 

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Asheville in 24 Hours

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Oh Asheville! How I love you. Whenever I tell folks that I live in North Carolina, they immediately say, “Asheville?!” with a glimmer in their eyes. Nope. I don’t live in this super cool, artsy, mountain town with the most breweries per capita. I made a mistake. I’ve visited a couple times and later this summer it looks like I’ll spend at least a month working there! I’m thrilled to spend more time in Asheville and to expand this little guide, but until then, enjoy 24 hours in Asheville.

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Sights & Activities

  • Brewery Tour – no need to organize an official one, just start somewhere and wander around town until you hit a few more. So.Many.Breweries. Uber and pedicabs are popular in Asheville, so if you don’t feel like drunk walking, you can call a cab.
  • Mosey Around Town – Asheville is small enough that it’s a very walkable city. Even walking down Broadway will keep you busy for the better part of an afternoon. Haywood Road in West Asheville is also a great street to explore. Plenty of thrifting, small artsy shops, bookstores, a comic book shop, and West Village Market & Deli, a fabulous independently owned grocery store with a juice bar.
  • River Arts District – an amazing artsy side of Asheville. Meander through dozens of studios, watch artists at work, scoop up some special presents and finish it all off with a cold beer at Wedge.
  • Go on an outdoor adventure or drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are thousands of options here, so whatever floats your boat!

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Breakfast & Coffee

  • Coffee only – Chocolate Gems is an extrodinary chocolate and gelato shop that also serves great coffee. If you need a break while you’re in Asheville, this is the perfect place to recharge.
  • Coffee and a quick breakfast – Clingman Café has a large variety of breakfast options, salads, sandwiches and sweets. Grab a patio seat and watch the world go by before exploring the River Arts District.
  • Full Breakfast or Brunch – Over Easy Café locally sourced and unbelievably delicious. Just go. Go now.

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Lunch or Dinner

  • Farm Burger serves delcious, juicy burgers and local beers. Play bocci inside while you wait for your meal and make friends before it’s time for brew round two.
  • Bywater is so low-key from the outside, but walk through the fence and behold the beauty of beer and the French Broad River. Tie up your tube and float for hours, grill lunch and pet puppies, Bywater is your new home.
  • West Village Market and Deli has a bunch of delicious daily premade eats and their juice bar and attendants is on point. I urge you to check it out for a cheaper lunch option.

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Drinks & Breweries

  • Asheville Brewing has great beer and delicious eats. I’m not a fan of their branding so it took me way too long to visit, but now that I did, I will certainly be back. Awesome outdoor space, games and a projection screen help this place come alive at night.
  • Wicked Weed Brewing is a feast for the eyes and tummy. Sit outside or downstairs and admire the architecture and design of Wicked Weed while you conquer a sampler or two.
  • Top of the Monk is an experience. Set in prohibition times, Top of the Monk serves handcrafted cocktails and they’re sooooo f!cking good.

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Wilson’s Riverfront RV Park – If you’re staying the night, I highly recommend camping nearby or in the mountains outside of the city. Wilson’s has simple, yet excellent facilities for tent campers. It’s situated right next to the French Broad River and a paved walking path. There are also dozens and dozens of great looking airbnbs in the area. Bon Paul & Sharky’s Hostel seems really interesting and inviting too, but I have yet to stay there.

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Chapel Hill & Carrboro in 24 Hours

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Wake up! It’s time to explore! The Chapel Hill & Carrboro area has had a solid hold on my heart since I moved here a few years ago. It’s a quaint little college town full of independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, and artists’ studios. As you wander around town, you’ll find a large selection of local and thoughtfully curated items both on menus and on store shelves. If you wander a little outside of town, there’s plenty of farms and nature to explore. It’s a safe little city full of southern charm and close to pretty much any activity or cuisine you could think of.

Visitors flock to Chapel Hill to watch UNC basketball games, partake in the enormous Halloween parade, view the best fireworks display in the Triangle, but mainly to help their kids settle into college, checking up on them frequently during the weekends as there’s always a little wait for brunch.

If you’re popping through Chapel Hill with no plans in mind, I suggest a little bit of nature, some window shopping, maybe a campus stroll and a bunch of people watching. Sandwich these activities with delicious eats and treats and 24 hours in Chapel Hill will pass in a flash. If you want a local activity, check out the calendar, it’s always filled with neat activities. Chapel Hill is packed with deliciousness, but here are my absolute favorites for one day in Chapel Hill ::

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Sights & Activities

  • Honeysuckle Tea House is my absolute favorite place in Chapel Hill. It’s a little bit of a drive into the country, but you will thank yourself over and over once you arrive. It’s an oasis, it seems like something straight out of Ubud, Bali. While the beverages are on point, Honeysuckle Tea House is still working on its menu, so eat before you come that way you’ll have energy to hang out in the gardens and around the grounds for a couple hours while you sip kombucha, tea, coffee, or one of their creative smoothies.
  • Look around! Take a walk down Franklin street. Start in the center of town (MLK + Franklin) and head west eventually veer right on Weaver Street, wander through the Carr Mill mall or better yet, stop at Weaver Street Co-op for lunch or a cold drink and enjoy it on the lawn.
  • Coker Arboretum has nothing on the Duke Gardens, but we’re talking Chapel Hill not Durham today. Coker is small, but lovely and it’s free! The North Carolina Botanical Gardens is also great, but Coker is right downtown so it’s more easily accessible.
  • Ackland Art Museum is worth a visit. If it is after hours, stop in at the store, which is unlike any museum store. A perfect mix of high-end and affordable gifts for anyone in your life. I wander through Ackland quite often just to feel inspired.
  • Go for a hike! There are dozens of local green spaces to get your hike on. My favorites? The Battle Branch Trail is perfect for the entire family. It’s scenic and pretty easy, a perfect early morning strolling spot. This trail actually leads to campus if you want to check out UNC. The Bolin Creek Trail is more of a path that winds through residential neighborhoods, but it’s extremely accessible, so if you need to stretch your legs, check it out. The Haw River Trail near 15-501 (more info), which is conveniently near Allen & Son’s gives visitors a good idea of North Carolina’s climate and forests. If it has recently rained, I’d skip this one.

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Breakfast & Coffee

  • Coffee only – Cafe Driade is an absolute gem. Tucked away outside of town on East Franklin street, this a cafe that locals know and love.  Order your favorite brew and pick out a snack from the counter then head outside. There’s seating sprinkled around the side of Cafe Driade, but take a look around the back.  Wander down into the woods for a meditative way to wake up in Chapel Hill or stop in the art gallery that shares Driade’s parking lot.  If you wander by Cafe Driade in the afternoon, try my favorite treat the espresso affogato.
  • Coffee and a quick breakfast – Looking Glass Cafe is my favorite coffee shop in Carrboro.  The atmosphere inside and out is inviting; perfect for conversation with friends or a full on study session.  Without fail, I order an iced americano with a jalapeno bagel although they serve up plenty of great quick yet filling breakfast and lunch options.
  • Full Breakfast or Brunch – Elmo’s Diner is always my top pick for a sit down breakfast.  The menu is enormous and each plate has character and flavor.  I’m constantly grappling with all the options until ordering and I’m always satisfied and stuffed when I leave.  If you’re eating when the rest of Chapel Hill is, there’s usually a wait, but Elmo’s is located in Carr Mill Mall so you’ll have plenty of little shops to visit while you wait. My favorite in the plaza is Townsend and Bertram, an independently owned outdoors store with the kindest, most helpful employees.

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Lunch or Dinner

  • Al’s Burger Shack serves up fresh, local, sustainable southern grub.  The burgers come in three sizes so you can snack according to your stomach size. These are some of the best burgers I’ve ever had, add a local beer, sit outside and enjoy the action on Franklin Street.
  • Mediterranean Deli will please everyone who eats there.  The selection of wraps, deli salads, and mediterranean desserts will almost overwhelm you.  It’s cheap, quick and ridiculously filling.
  • Allen & Son’s is the place to go if you want authentic Carolina barbecue. There are two locations, both equally out of the way, but they are a destination in themselves. If I’m picnicing, I’ll order a pound of pulled pork, coleslaw, and a dozen hushpuppies then I’ll grab a bag of rolls and some beer and head to a serene spot.  There’s seating at Allen and Son’s, but I find it a bit too southern, country, authentic for my taste (think musty hunting cabin) so I usually grab a table outside or take it to go.
  • Venable describes itself as a rotisserie bistro serving elevated southern comfort food.  Each meal incorporates southern elements, but the portion sizes keep the food coma at bay.  The cocktails are amazing and worth every penny, but the beer list is lengthy too if that’s more your speed.
  • Food Trucks! There’s a bunch roaming all over town. Spot one yourself or ask someone on the street, they’ll be able to direct you to one of the truck’s regular parking spots.

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Drinks & Bar Bites

  • Beer Study is theeee place to go for a brew. SO many options, various sizes for tasting or chugging, outside seating, an old school nintendo and TV inside. Beer Study is where it’s at.
  • Top Of The Hill is my favorite people watching perch. The bar and distillery sit in the center of town at the corner of Franklin and MLK. Try and find seating outside and you’ll find yourself sipping on TOPO’s unique cocktails, brewtails, and delicious draft beers for hours.
  • The Cellar is a dive bar, but those are my favorite kinds if I want a cheap mixed drink or a good beer.  You won’t find crowds of college kids, but rather pool sharks and smoke-smelling middle aged men.  There’s also a nice little patio out back for your cig-smoking friends.
  • Linda’s Bar & Grill is the perfect stop to start or end the evening.  The bar food is on point and the drinks and top notch.  I love the crew at Linda’s. The owner, Chris Carini, is a Penn State graduate, a dude who knows his cars and bars, so chat him up if you wish. When I go to Linda’s I feel immediately comfortable and well taken care of no matter how crowded it gets.

 

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A Weekend in Fishtown, Philadelphia

 

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Fishtown is a small neighborhood northeast of center city.  When I first moved into Fishtown in 2008, it was considered an up-and-coming neighborhood.  During my visit this past weekend, I would say Fishtown has arrived. Walking down the main drag, I spotted dozens of new shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants.  I could not believe the hoards of young people walking around enjoying the sunshine in what was once a semi-desolate, working class neighborhood. There were only a handful of bars and pizza shops, one good cafe, and a single thrift store. I loved the neighborhood because it was removed from the hustle and bustle of center city, sheltered from the crime stats of Kensington, and small enough that I ran into friends on a weekly basis.  It felt like my little neighborhood and while I sensed a bit of pushback from the families that lived in Fishtown their whole lives, I still felt welcome and secure.

Fast forward eight years and the whole landscape of Fishtown has shifted.  It’s clear that short-term yearly rentals are more common in the community. You can see new housing popping up everywhere to accommodate students and hoards of younger crowds that are flocking to Fishtown to settle.  With the crowds comes the coffee shops, restaurants, yoga studios, community spaces and art galleries.  No longer are there abandoned lots waiting to be bought, instead there is a taco stand or a vegan ice cream shop filling the once vacant space.  Spending 24-48 hours in Fishtown would have been in enough in 2008, but now you’d need a week to really see and taste all it has to offer.  Instead of overwhelming you with every bit of goodness, I’ll let you in on my favorite gems, and you can explore the rest as you see fit.

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