Travel

A Weekend in Clearwater Beach, Florida

I’m very fortunate I get to travel as often as I do. I hold the state of Florida very close to my heart. So when Philip (my beau) asked me to accompany him to a weekend trip to the sunshine state, naturally I said yes. Fun fact: I used to live in Lakeland, Florida in the first grade. My family and I only lived there for the duration of one year. My dad’s side of the family lives there so every summer I would go down and stay with them. They always spoiled my sister and I so it was extra fun spending my childhood summers with them.

Fast forward to present day: I need you all to understand the spontaneity of this trip. Phil really just asked me on a Monday if I’d be up to go to Florida on Thursday and I said yes with no hesitation. Who in their right mind turns down a random vacation?! Not this girl. Only missed two days of class.. Don’t tell my professors.

We arrived at Newark airport at 7 a.m. for our 9 a.m. flight. Everything was smooth sailing from that point or should I say smooth flying? Ba dum chhh. The whole weekend it was sunny in the low 90s. No complaints from me. Our first day there I was introduced to Philip’s family that lives outside of Tampa. They were super sweet.

The next two days were spent being beech bums. The water was a little colder than what I’m used to for a Florida beach but still how could I complain? Sidebar, SPF 30 doesn’t really do anyone justice in the F.L. sun. Phil and I explored the bar scene of Clearwater Beach and hopped around to places like Crabby’s and Shepard’s. After a few more spots we got tired of being around other people so we grabbed our drinks, blankets, camera, and took it to the beach. Trust me the beach is way cooler at night when there are no people around but I wouldn’t advise you to get in the water.

On our second to last day we spent the day at weeki wachee springs canoeing. I sat in the middle so I didn’t have to participate in any rowing (lucky me). This was my second time there, the first time around I kayaked by myself. I enjoyed this time in particular because I saw manatees! IN REAL LIFE. They’re huge and beautiful like cows of the ocean. We actually saw about five in total (lucky us). I definitely advise you to take a trip there! The water is the perfect temperature that gives you a refreshed feeling afterwards.

It was a weekend for the books or blog in my case. I’m going to stop with the corny jokes I promise. Seriously, Florida continues to amaze me with all it’s beauty and I can’t wait to be back. Here are some photos from our trip:

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Travel

Last Night at the Met

When you have someone that agrees to go to the Metropolitan Opera with you I advise that you keep them! Two nights ago I got all dolled up or in other words I put on the nicest dress I own with a good pair of heels and made my way to Lincoln Center with my handsome date.

Going to the opera is definitely an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. My experience was a rather funny one and here’s why:

First and foremost I have to give a general warning to everyone reading. WARNING: Do not and I repeat DO NOT drink a full bottle of water and then a glass of rosé before the performance. To my demise I did both these things and not even ten minutes into the program my bladder was fighting against me. Ladies and gentlemen keep in mind this was my first opera so I was unaware of all the rules you need to abide by. I get up from my seat and leave my coat, wallet, and phone with my date. Trust me if I could have held it in I would have but my bladder plays zero games. Upon exiting the house the usher asks me if I was leaving. I told her I was only going to the restroom and I would be right back. She then tells me she doesn’t know when the next break is for her to let me back in. This puzzled me a little but my urge to pee was too strong so I said it was fine and made my way to the restroom. Once the deed was done I made my way back to the door I exited from and realized there were no handles on it. No way back in. I thought to myself ‘Okay the next break has to be in ten minutes or so’, wrong. I soon found out the intermission was not for another 40 minutes. Not only did I not have a phone to contact Philip (my date) and tell him what had happened but I didn’t even have money to buy a drink!

I feel like things of this nature happen so often in my life that at this point all I do is laugh. I was locked out for the whole 40 minutes and decided to watch the program from the Orchestra floor. On this floor there was a room designated for people like me who were late or locked out too. When intermission finally rolled around I traveled back upstairs and saw a distressed Philip waiting for me. I explained what happened to me and we both laughed it off. After intermission was over we watched the second act of Rigoletto and then left during the next intermission for our dinner reservations. All things considered, it was a fun experience the entire cast was very talented and I feel lucky to have been apart of it. The opera is definitely a good excuse to dress up fancy.

Here are some pictures I took, the Metropolitan Opera House is nothing short of exquisite.

 

Food, Travel

A Weekend in Pittsburgh

As we know, I enjoy travelling to see my loved ones. This time it wasn’t all the way across the country (sorry Less).  This time I went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see my best friend Meghan who attends the University of Pittsburgh.

Travelling from Bayonne to Pittsburgh is usually about a five and a half hour car ride.  Meghan’s mom and I hit some traffic along the way so it took us seven hours to get there. This was not my first rodeo. Believe it or not I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve gone to PITT to see Meghan. Usually I take the Megabus and it’s somewhere between an eight to ten hour bus ride.

I’m not sure whimg_4781at it is but there’s something about the atmosphere that makes me all the more appreciative to be in Pittsburgh when I am. The first time I was there I said something along the lines of “Oh my God that’s the bridge from The Perks of Being a Wallflower!” That’s when I knew I was going to love Pitt.  We arrived at 10 p.m. and there was no time to waste! Meghan told me to get ready because we were going out. For those of you who do not know, Pittsburgh is a college town. You see nothing but students when walking along Forbes Avenue.

That night we went to three bars: Garage Door Saloon (G Door), Hemingway’s Café (Hems), and Peter’s Pub (Peter’s). G Door is right down the block from Meghan. So naturally we stopped there first. This bar is fun if you want to shoot some pool. I hate pickles, but I had my first pickle shot there. Next up is Hem’s this bar is great because they put gummy worms in the drinks and there’s always a big crowd. img_4821Finally, Peter’s is perfectly split between a chill atmosphere on the first floor and a dance floor on the second. The next time I go to Pitt Meghan’s going to take me to bars in Shadyside and South Side.

I know what you’re thinking.. “Bri you went all the way to Pittsburgh and all you did was drink?!” Well the answer is no! Aside from drinking we went to three notable restaurants, Social House Seven, The Yard, and Naturoll. If you know me you’d know that I’m all about Asian food. So I was delig
hted when we went to Social House Seven, a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant.  We ordered spicy edamame (my one true love), a series of rolls, and ginger pear egg rolls for dessert. Definitely try the Poke Aloha roll if you go. Switching over to a more American-style restaurant is The Yard. They are known for their gourmet grilled cheeses, burgers, and craft beers. I ordered the Mac Attack, which is mac and cheese with bacon bits on two fat Texas toast slices. It comes with a little tomato soup and I got Parmesan fries on the side. Let’s just say I was drooling from the first bite all the way to the last. Lastly, we went to Naturoll. I’ve heard so many good things about rolled ice cream so I had to see what all the hype was about. I ordered the s’mores which is chocolate ice cream, graham crackers, and toasted marshmallow. It was chocolate heaven and you can see from the picture how nice the presentation was (totally Instagram worthy!).

All in all I had a great weekend filled with food, laughs, and love. See you soon PITT !

Travel

8 Hour Layover

I planned a trip to visit my dear cousin, Celeste,  in Washington state. When booking my flight I realized I made a major mistake. I booked a flight that was not flying directly to my destination. Instead it had two stops. The first stop was Chicago, Illinois for five hours and the next stop was Phoenix, Arizona for another 3 hours and then I would reach my final destination. Most people would see two stops and freak out. My first thought was to consider myself lucky because I’d never been to either of the places listed. Of course I’m going to make the best out of a crappy situation!

Fast forward to when I arrived at Chicago O’hare Airport. It was a relatively quick flight from Newark, New Jersey to Chicago. Overall I was in good spirits. Then the thought crept up in my mind again… Five hours to go… F i v e H o u r s… This is when anxiety snuck up on me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in the airport for that long. Sure, I love people img_4023watching but not for five hours straight.

I went over to the directory and saw that there was an earlier flight out to Phoenix. This flight was scheduled to depart 40 minutes then and a good five hours earlier than. To be frank, I figured Phoenix was a safer (and warmer) place to travel alone. I walked to the assistance counter and asked the woman wearing a welcoming smile if there was any possible chance I could be on the next flight to Arizona. To my joy I was able to get a seat on the flight (a window seat at that !!). A quick 3 hours later and I was looking out my window to pink desert sand.

Of course I don’t know anyone in Arizona  so getting picked up from the airport was out of the question. Nor did I have the slightest idea what I was going to do for the next 8 hours but I seeing the mountains from my plane was enough for me. Fortunate for myself, I was equipped with an iPhone and Siri gave some great suggestions. map

I decided to go to Desert Botanical Garden. It was ten minute drive from the airport. Naturally, I took an Uber. Special shout out to my driver Larry, he was very friendly and offered all his knowledge on the background of Phoenix. The garden itself was absolutely beautiful. You can see from the figure on the right how far it expands. I spent hours there admiring all the cacti and everything else they eye could see. If you ever find yourself in Phoenix definitely check this place out!

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