I’d never been to Harlem until Dana had decided to bunk there during an improv festival in New York City. We were volunteering there, and my shift was at 7:00am. I decided to stay the night with her because waking up and taking the train at 6:30am is a lot easier than waking up at 5:00am to catch a train from Long Island at 6:00am that would probably get me there late anyway.
Harlem is a place where people say you’ll get stabbed for looking at the sidewalk too long. This is white-person speak for “multi-ethnic.” At first I was hesitant to head beyond Columbia University, but then I thought to myself “Honestly, this is New York City, not a slum. There are lights and people everywhere. If I keep my wits about me, I should be fine.”
And it was true – everything was fine. I found Dana’s guesthouse right near the subway, and I was pleasantly surprised – it was an old, turn-of-the-century Brownstone divided into several rooms. Her own lodging had a little kitchenette and a bathroom, and luxurious furnishings, including a settee and a chandelier. I wanted to stay for longer just so that I could take advantage of the spiral staircase, whose stained-class skylight was something to look up to.
In Puerto Vallarta, the horizon goes as far as the eye can see. From ziplining in the Sierra Madre mountains, to jet skiing on the beach, there is always something further to look out at. That’s also the way it felt to vacation in Mexico – always something more to discover, always somewhere new to go, someone new to talk to.
I’m not really one for passive, relaxing vacations. Trips where I’m involved in a lot of things, up from morning until midnight, with itineraries and arrangements made in advance – that’s how I like to travel. Squeeze in as much as I can because who knows when I’ll be back? But vacationing in Puerto Vallarta was different. It felt nice to kick back and lie on the beach with as much alcohol as I wanted. I loved swimming in our private plunge pool and admiring the Mexican landscape. I felt like I was in another world…
Our resort included excursions as well. We took advantage of the sunset cruise out of the harbor. It was a nice, intimate group and the sailing was so much fun. We drank margaritas at sunset and posed for photos. The Bay of Banderas is absolutely stunning and we felt like we were the only boat in the ocean that day. I will never forget that sunset – thank god it didn’t rain!
The icebergs that drift on the shores of Iceland’s black beaches look like diamonds shimmering in the sun. They float downstream into the ocean from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on Iceland’s southeastern coast. You’ll find large chunks and small pebble-sized bits that will melt at the touch of your hand.
I’ve never been further west than California. Although I had fun while I was there, I don’t think I’d want to live there. Maybe for the weather, yes, but I’m an East Coast gal. There’s so much to see in Cali, but I want to see everything in between first.
Iceland is a country in Northern Europe.
After watching a Travel Channel show about Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, the chilly country became a place on my bucket list. When I saw how close it was to the United States (a mere four and a half hours from New York City), I jumped on the chance to visit during a long weekend. Going to Iceland was a last-minute, crazy purchase trip involving my best friend Lindsey, but it was totally worth it. I love the country so much in fact, that I am always trying to figure out how I can get back there…
Iceland is unique in so many ways. The geography makes you feel like you’re in outer space. The people are warm and friendly, despite the below-freezing temperatures. If you like seafood, you’ll be in foodie heaven, and if you are looking for some unique design pieces, Icelandic craftsmen and women will break your bank account.
Reykjavik is the country’s capital, but venturing outside of the city is what travelers need to do. Tours to famous places are available, but I recommend renting a car. Lindsey and I had so much freedom to stop and go as we pleased, and take our time, get into misadventures (like stumbling upon an autumn sheep-roundup!) and it made chasing the Northern Lights a LOT easier.
So what can I recommend about Iceland from only having been there five days? Eat lobster soup. Drink Brennivín, especially if you are around on the weekend for the rúntur (crazy drinking street parties). Shop at farms where Icelandic grannies will knit you a pair of mittens using wool from their own sheep. Drive out to the east and hike on a glacier, or swim in the iceberg pools. Take a dip in a hot spring and slather your face with Icelandic mineral mud. Sit in a freezing cold car with your best friend and try to take photos of the Northern Lights. Go, and just be.