Bucket List: Paris

One thing that has remained consistent in my life for the past 20 years, truly the only thing, has been my passionate desire to visit Paris. My father encouraged my brother and me to learn French as children (which worked on me but flopped big time with my brother) by reading us bilingual picture books, and ever since, I have been fascinated by French language, history, and culture. And croissants. Who doesn’t love croissants?

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ugh, I know I’m not supposed to like Kanye anymore, but c’mon (image source)

I started taking French in school when I was ten and continued through college. I even took a French film course sophomore year! Jules et Jim, La Femme Nikita—all the classics! I’m pretty sure that my basic existence inspired Childish to rap “I’mma be on these tracks like indie girls on Amélie“. I read (and loved) the book How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. Trust me, though, Francophilia is hardly a sympathetic condition. Revealing that you speak French at a party is like revealing that you have whooping cough—no one wants to be around you after that. So I’ve been quietly biding my time, waiting for my moment to finally hop the pond and visit la Ville Lumière.

But what’s the biggest obstacle to any dream? Money, honey. International travel is expensive af (or at least it has been presented to me that way), and until a few months ago, I was a broke college student working a retail job. I mean, now I’m a broke prospective grad student working a retail job, so, not much better, but we’ve got that wedding nest egg squirreled away and my credit score is on the rise! #tmi

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i’m drooling. i’m swooning. chateau versailles (image via pinterest)

So, why bring this up now? After 20 years of futile dreaming, why put a Paris trip back on the table? Well…my parents. Let me explain. My mother’s husband has family in Germany, so they recently appended a few days onto their trip to visit Paris. That’s correct—a woman who know zero French words and has no interest in coffee, wine, or fattening food has been to Paris. That was a bit of a dagger in the back, but she deserves to travel, right? She works hard! Then, my dad revealed that this year, he wants to turn 50 in Paris. It has also been his lifelong dream to go there (apple, tree), so he’s in the early stages of planning a trip for his birthday. 50 is a big occasion!

Since I’m the tech-savvy one in the fam (which is a sad, sad reality), I’ve started browsing for flights and AirBnbs in order to help him get a realistic picture of the expense of the trip, and what I’ve found has shocked and delighted me. A trip. To Paris! Is totally doable! You can get round-trip flights for under $600 if you don’t mind stopping in Iceland! AirBnbs go for as cheap as $50/night! I haven’t even begun to factor in the cost of meals, nor have I converted Euros to dollars (the exchange rate is super close right now), but still: with each Internet search I become increasingly hopeful about my chances of making my dreams a reality.

Turns out, the touristy stuff that one simply must do is all super affordable!

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are you goddamn kidding me with this beauty? jardin des tuileries, paris, fr (image source)

There are so many more free or inexpensive things to do in Paris, which is super inspiring to the broke among us! The money saved on attractions can go towards food! According to Pinterest, eating vegetarian/vegan should be a breeze there—for all of my Francophilia, classic French cuisine just doesn’t do it for me!

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notre-dame cathedral (image source)

 

So, when are we going, guys? Tomorrow? All I ask is that I see Paris before I die, so let’s pack our freaking bags! That might be the most stressful thing of all—how to dress in the world’s most fashionable city. My wardrobe is not worthy!

À bientôt, mes chèrs!

—DellaBites

8 U.S. Cities I Want to Visit (Part III)

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! These Boston winter months have me itching to travel to somewhere warm. It’s actually the first day of Spring today, but the snow on the ground hasn’t gotten the memo. Almost none of these destinations scream “tropical paradise” but all the same they’re far, far away from the Northeast dwelling I’m so eager to escape. So, let’s explore a few more!

[insert sarcastic use of the word “wanderlust”]

Atlanta, GA

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#1 on the list this time around is Atlanta, GA. I had no idea it was so cool. When you’re raised up North, you’re taught to kind of roll your eyes at the South. Or at least I was. Civil War hangover, maybe? Who knows. In any case, I hadn’t the foggiest that Hotlanta was blowing TF up. John Lewis? Donald Glover? Stuff Mom Never Told You/Unladylike? I have got to go check out the locale that spawned such greatness.

A cursory Google search will net you hundreds of incredible activities in and around Atlanta. MLK’s home, the Margaret Mitchell House, the High Museum—the list goes on! (Definitely revealing my dorky-ness with those examples.) And food! Pinterest/Buzzfeed and the like have vouched for the abundance of amazing eats in ATL. And you know me—anywhere I can get a vegan or gluten-free donut is great in my book. I can’t wait to check Atlanta out!

P.S. As a person who lives a stone’s throw from Gillette Stadium, even I was rooting for Atlanta in the Super Bowl this year.

Mobile, AL

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I know, weird choice, right? With all the Jeff Sessions nonsense going on, you think I’d be afraid to go near the Cotton State. The Yellowhammer State? Get an official nickname, Alabama!

However, I guess Mobile is a mini-NOLA in the making! I mean, look at that pretty place in the photo above! I don’t know much much about Mobile, but it seems like they have very cool museums and a thriving arts community. The entertainment district on Dauphin street seems like the place to go for nightlife—give me all of the daiquiris and live music! In terms of wildlife, it’s alligator country! I am deeply, deeply terrified of gators, but for those braver than me, you can visit Alligator Alley and actually interact with the beasties!

And, just like NOLA, where I actually was fortunate enough to travel last year, they celebrate Mardi Grad in Mobile! Pencil me in for a trip on February 13, 2018!!

Telluride, CO

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As promise, Telluride is finally getting a shout-out. I grew up skiing, and I’ve been itching to get back into it. I haven’t skied in over a decade! Revisiting my past love in Colorado, which is basically skier Mecca, would be 2 dope 2 handle. In addition to slopes, it looks like they have a beautiful historic town center, great bakeries and bars, and all around tiny-town adorbs vibes. It’s surrounded by National Forests, and you can stay in literal huts on the mountainsides. Telluride seems like the sweetest getaway spot!

Phoenix, AZ

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One might say that I am a desert enthusiast. There is, in my estimation, no better climate—dry heat during the day, cool at night. Cacti everywhere. Infrequent rain! It is one of the many absurdities of my life that I am not a desert-dweller. I mean, that view above?! It almost makes me want to own hiking boots. Almost.

I have to admit, Phoenix wasn’t really on my radar, but the lovely authors of the blog New Darlings live there, and they make it seem like a slice of paradise. I’m a sucker for any destination that combines great eats & great coffee with gorgeous nature! I’ll buy those aforementioned hiking boots in order to see the astonishing views on Camelback Mountain, just as long as I can get a cortado afterwards, of course. Phoenix, in addition to its regular art museums, also has a Musical Instrument Museum! That’s a sure-fire way to convince my husband to travel there if I ever heard one! Next winter or spring, we have got to plan a trip!

St. Louis, MO

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Did you know that St. Louis has its own signature style of pizza? Move over, Chicago! In all seriousness, St. Louis seems like a really cool, yet totally unassuming city that I truly hope to visit one day. I mean, Jon Hamm is from there!

A good friend of mine went to school in Missouri, and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t visit. There’s so much cool stuff to do there! The iconic Arch, the *free* zoo and art museum, big name productions at The Fabulous Fox, and of course, the number 1 most important thing about any travel destination: food! I hear that they also have sports games there, but you won’t catch me wasting valuable tourist time watching baseball.

Now to frantically research AirBnBs and plan a long weekend there!

Detroit, MI

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this picture, though, am i right?

[insert comment about how I only care about Detroit because of Detroiters here]

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that business out of the way, uh, nope! I mean, having a cool TV show about your city certainly helps (see Atlanta above), but I don’t need Comedy Central to inspire me to sojourn to the birthplace of Motown! There’s the Corktown District (which has/had a bar called Bill Murray?!), breweries like HopCat to sample, Historical Museums to tour, and a giant market district.

Maybe when I finally visit, I can append a few days onto my trip and finally see “The Cleve”—any 30 Rock fans in the house?

Santa Cruz, CA

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Okay, okay, so I have technically been here before, but I firmly believe that anything you do before the age of ten doesn’t count! Santa Cruz has everything—breathtaking vistas, water sports, farmer’s markets, a cliff walk, a distillery, wine tours! My most deeply-held desire is to move to the West Coast, and Santa Cruz has all the trappings of a perfect place to settle. And it’s less than 2 hours away from San Francisco!

Santa Cruz seems like a perfect, idyllic paradise, and I can’t wait to go back!

Brooklyn, NY

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Chelsea, you live in Boston and you mean to tell me you’ve never been to Brooklyn? It’s an afternoon’s drive. Ease up! I’ve only been to NYC once, and I didn’t leave Manhattan. That’s right, the girl who has managed to visit Tallahassee, FL twice doesn’t know the first thing about any of the five boroughs. The Beastie Boys are appalled by me. Most of my engagement with the Empire State has been upstate (Syracuse & Ithaca).

Perhaps I’m about a decade behind the “Brooklyn is cool” trend. I think the hipster cities have cycled through Austin and Nashville by now, too. However, there’s still a ton of cool shit going on there! You can catch a show at The Bell House (2 Dope Queens tapes there a lot!), eat at restaurants with obnoxiously minimalist names like Egg and Diner, take a brewery tour, etc. Also, it seems to be where everyone who is “NYC-based” actually lives. Despite the borough and its inhabitants being dragged in that Lana Del Rey song, it still seems like a totally aspirational spot where I can get a great cup of coffee or cocktail—my two main objectives when visiting any new city.

***

My goal is to travel to at least ONE of the locations from this list, or parts I & II this year. I managed to make it to NOLA last year, as I mentioned—this year I’m thinking Savannah & Palm Springs? Time will tell. Thanks for indulging my travel fantasies!

8 U.S. Cities I Want to Visit (Part II)

New Orleans, LA

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NOLA is pretty much a no-brainer. I can’t believe it wasn’t first on the original list, tbh. History, music, Cajun food? Sign me up. You can throw your own parade with a police escort in New Orleans! It seems like such a vibrant, colorful city, and by all accounts it shouldn’t be missed. You can even stay in haunted hotels!

I’ve actually missed two opportunities in a row to go there (our cousin’s company hosts a retreat there), due to lack of funds & time. Next year, if they do it again, we’re GOING.

Palm Springs, CA

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image via A Beautiful Mess

Okay, so my father is convinced I’ve been here before but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Fancy hotels? Desert heat? Mid-century architecture? Sinatra? How do I not already live in Palm Springs? Bonus points that it’s only about 45 minutes away from my grandmother’s house. I’ll definitely be swinging through town next time I’m in Southern California…

Louisville, KY

 

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So, in the same week last year I watched a documentary about the Louisville Orchestra AND actually met someone from Louisville! Trust me—you don’t meet a Kentuckian every day in Boston! From all accounts, it is exactly as adorable and cool as I envision it being. Also, nearby bourbon distillery tours? Kentucky Bourbon Ale is one of my favorite beers.

Louisville is about 3 hours away from Nashville, which might make it a little too far a destination for a honeymoon day trip…but we’ll see.

Omaha & Lincoln, NE

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This one’s a twofer, since these cities are only about an hour apart. Omaha has been on my radar for a decade, because it’s famously the home of Saddle Creek Records. You know, as in Conor Oberst? It also gets name-checked in a great Rilo Kiley song, “The Execution of All Things”: let’s go to Omaha to work an exploit the booming music scene.

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Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln makes an appearance on here because my best friend attended a conference there last year and said that it was surprisingly awesome! I’m also a sucker for capital cities—state house tours, anyone?

Boulder & Denver, CO

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Denver, Colorado

So, I guess by now you’ve deduced that The Stand by Stephen King is one of my favorite books. How else would a New Englander have even heard of Boulder?

I included these cities together because they’re about a half an hour apart (sorry, Telluride, you’ll have to be in Part III). Colorado seems like a land from a fairy-tale. I mean, look at that picture. How is that even real? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Rocky Mountains apart from flying over them, but it’s always been a dream to view them in all of their majestic glory. My knowledge of America’s topography is (apparently) so limited that I’m now realizing that the Rockies feature in at least 2 of my other listed cities.

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Downtown Boulder, CO

Boulder is apparently a “hipster’s paradise,” which to me signals coffee, tattoo parlors, and craft brews. I’m in!

Cleveland, OH

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Okay, in truth, I only want to go here because of that episode of 30 Rock. And because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is there. Apart from those two tiny nuggets of knowledge, I’m clueless about the entire state of Ohio. But, as they (definitely don’t) say, cluelessness is the mother of exploration!

I will say, this post was originally written before the RNC, and now with the open-carry laws and stuff I’m a little wary…

Philadelphia, PA

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I’ve actually been to Pennsylvania three times but never made it to either of the great cities it boasts (Philly & Pittsburgh). I’m something of a history nerd, and Philadelphia is such a historical hub (much like my hometown). I feel like it’s mandatory for every American to the Liberty Bell, or to tour the rooms where the Declaration was drafted.

I’ll pass on the cheesesteak, though.

Walla Walla, WA

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Walla Walla is a city in the southeast corner of Washington. One of the colleges I wanted to apply to is there, and it also made an appearance in one of my fave YA novels from my younger days. I can’t say that there’s any specific reason that I want to go there. It’s just one of those names that sticks in your mind, and I’ve heard that Eastern Washington is stunningly beautiful.

Where else should I roam? There’s so much America to explore!

—DellaBites

Au revoir, les Felicias! Montréal 2016

Bienvenue à Montréal!

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Before you ask: no, we didn’t go to Tim Horton’s. Fun fact, I’ve been to Canada 4 times, and the only Tim Horton’s I’ve ever been to was in upstate NY!

So, full disclosure: we only really hung out downtown (from Sherbrooke to the river). There’s so much more of this amazing city still to explore, but we found some absolute gems!

We stayed at the Gouverneur Hotel at the corner of rue St-Hubert and rue Ste-Catherine E. It’s a prime location—walkable to everything downtown, and right near rue St-Denis, which is a super hip area. Across from the hotel, and visible from our room, is a sweet little park with sculptures, fountains, and an outdoor bar.

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We managed to fit about .0003% of what I had planned into our three short days in MTL, but what we did get to was pretty awesome. The following is our recommendations for places to go and things to see downtown!

Pour les repas et le café:

Jardin Nelson

Jardin Nelson is right in the center of Old Montréal and boy oh boy is it nice. My dad treated us to a gorgeous dinner there our second night in town. It was my second time (the first was for lunch 5 years ago), and I got the same thing, but in my defense: savory crêpes with goat cheese! Can you blame me?! This time, we were seated right beside an amazing live jazz band at twilight. It was pretty magical. We ate and drank way too much, and a very merry time was had. A+

Les 3 Brasseurs

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I love this place. I don’t care that it’s a chain in Ontario & Québec. I’m sure a real Montréaler would roll their eyes so hard at me right now. I’m a sucker for microbreweries, what can I say? Their blanche ale is my faaaave. We didn’t eat there this time, but last time I was in town I had a poutine there that was a borderline religious experience.

Mâche

This place is my dream concept for a restaurant. A super limited menu specializing in…shepherd’s pie & poutine? I guess in French the term for shepherd’s pie is “pâté chinois,” which makes zero sense to me and caused some confusion upon entering. “Chinese pâté?” I wondered, ignorant to the beautiful culinary world awaiting me. I got my whole table to agree to order the vegetarian pâté, and we all split a traditional poutine (and a pitcher of sangria).

Fabergé

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Breakfast poutine. Poutine matinale. Whatever you call it, it’s poutine for breakfast. Fabergé is the most adorable restaurant in the cutest neighborhood (that I’m pissed we didn’t explore more). We stopped by Fabergé on our way back to the States and I treated us to a fabulous brunch. In Canada, even restaurants have cold brew readily available. Great vegetarian options, lovely mimosas. Can’t wait to go back and eat all the brunch.

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Dad & Marie at Fabergé

Eggspectation

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Okay, so, Eggspectation is another chain—with locations in Virginia and Maryland for no reason?—but it has a special place in my heart because we ate there on my high school trip to Montréal. I’ve had breakfast there once each time I’ve traveled to MTL, half out of nostalgia, half because they have delicious food.

What you’re ordering: Eggs Florentine and an almond milk cappuccino

Resto Végo

If I lived in Montréal, this would be my every day lunch spot. Possibly the best food we had on the trip, and we only stopped into Petit Végo for lunch. I had a tandoori tofu sandwich and Fig got a naan pizza with pesto & goat cheese (which I recreated when we got home—soooo good). Vegetarian/vegan restaurants are my happy place. They also have smoothies and coffee, so it’s really one-stop shopping.

Café 1880

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Café 1880 is probably my favorite little spot in Montréal. The aesthetic alone! Almond milk lattés glacés by baristas who actually know what the hell they’re doing (can you tell I worked in coffee-land for way too freaking long?) Oh, and bonus points? They serve carry-out food from a local vegan restaurant. I bought a glass reusable cup so that I can feel like I’m having Café 1880 every day (and zero waste!)

Pour acheter de la musique:

Atom Heart Musique Alternative

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Atom Heart *has* my heart. Much like Aquarius Records in San Francisco, it’s a curated niche store that feels no obligation to carry 27 copies of the new TSwift (no shade, Tay). “Alternative” is kind of a garbage phrase that means nothing, but there’s really no other way to describe the eclectic mix of stuff they carry. The new Marissa Nadler record (which is so good, you guys) was on display, and To Pimp a Butterfly was in the staff recommendations. Fig got quite a few discs there, including a Turkish Experimental Compilation, because Turkish rock musicians from the 1970s rule our lives.

Beatnick Music

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Used record lovers look no further! Fig & I can be snobby when it comes to buying music new vs. used, but Beatnick had a great selection. We actually lost out on the last copy of a Serge Gainsbourg box set while we were there and we’re still not emotionally over it. They play incredible music in-store, and overall the shop tends to favor the ’60s, which is 10000% fine with me!

Pour voir d’art:

Musée d’art contemporain

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Admission: we never made it to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. We physically arrived there, but the line to enter was several city blocks long, and neither of us was particularly keen to stand out in the hot sun. I mean, it was free museum day, what did we expect? Luckily, we had the foresight to get to the contemporary art museum much earlier and have our minds blown by exhibits by Edmund Alleyn, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, and Ryoji Ikeda.

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Pour écouter de la musique:

Métropolis

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Métropolis is a Lupo’s/House of Blues-esque music venue on rue Ste-Catherine E. We were lucky enough to be there when…drumroll please…COURTNEY BARNETT was there! We of course got tickets, because we’re not completely insane! My fave Aussie babe melted our freaking faces off with non-stop rock. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

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Until next time, MTL.

Au revoir, Montréal.

 

8 U.S. Cities I Want to Visit (Part I)

As much as I hate the word wanderlust, I have to admit I’ve been feeling it lately. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m leaving for Montréal tomorrow, or that I have a honeymoon to plan, but I’ve been pining to get the hell out of Massachusetts. I thought I’d share a few of the destinations I’ve been wanderlusting over…

Nashville, TN

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image via Visit Music City
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Jack White’s Third Man Records, image via @elsielarson

Apparently Nashville is blowing up right now! I had always thought of Nashville as the Grand Ole Opry place where country music (which I used to hate) was born, so I never had much interest in visiting. I even had a boyfriend in high school who was from Nashville, and still, it didn’t resonate. However, the power of suggestion is, well, powerful, and every musician/blogger/fashion designer/etc that I admire seems to be relocating to this city!

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FLWR SHOP, image via @flwrshop

My Instagram feed is basically all Nashville, all day. My mother actually texted me that she’s going there this weekend—so jealous!

Austin, TX

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This one should be fairly obvious. Austin seems like the place to be. A hipster oasis amid the vast swaths of Texan land. I never had much interest in Texas growing up (are you sensing a theme?) but it seems like it’s really getting cool. One of our favorite bands, Hot Club of Cowtown, calls Austin home, but warns not to go during SXSW…

Austin & Nashville are currently duking it out for Team Fig Honeymoon Destination.

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Austin, image cred

Portland, OR

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image via Travel Portland

I can’t believe I’ve never been to Portland. Two of my cousins live there! I’ve been to California countless times but never north of the Bay Area. I guess that’s not totally unreasonable, seeing as SF to Portland is a stupid long drive (10 hours!)

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Portland, image cred

Portlandia notwithstanding, it just seems like an amazing place to visit. I mean, Voodoo Doughnuts, hello! Everyone I know who has been there can’t wait to go back. Beyond that, I can’t help but picture Oregon as a massive, gorgeous forest, so I bet there are tons of hiking opportunities and general nature-viewing.

I also just learned, via their tourism site, that Portland has tax-free shopping?

Olympia & Seattle, WA

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Seattle, image via Trip Advisor
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Olympia, image cred

Technically, with Olympia and Seattle, this is 9 cities, but I’d see them both on the same trip so…8 vacations?

Anyone who’s known me for a long time knows that my grunge phase extended FAR beyond the nineties. I was reading Kurt Cobain murder-conspiracy books in, like, 2005. Nirvana’s Nevermind came out right after I was born, so I was basically raised on the stuff, good (Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden) and bad (Bush, an objectively terrible band). As I got older, enter Hole and Sleater-Kinney. I’ve basically been primed to visit the Pacific Northwest since birth. I also worked at Starbucks for quite a while, in case I wasn’t enough of a walking cliché.

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Pike Place Market, image 

I could probably never live in Seattle, because rain makes me want to bore holes in my skull, but I’ve always dreamed of visiting!

Boise, ID

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Downtown Boise, image cred

Okay, so hear me out, because this is kind of a weird one. A regular customer at my old coffee shop used to live in Boise, and she couldn’t have been more effusive in her praise of it! Apparently it’s a hidden gem of the Northwest! I mean, look at that vista—mountains, fall colors?? Also, Built to Spill is from Boise, so it must be cool.

Charleston, SC

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image via A Beautiful Mess

Charleston was the original honeymoon choice of my sister-and-brother-in-law (they ended up going to Disney). Right after they shared their idea to visit, my fave bloggers Elsie & Emma took a trip there and shared a travel guide on their site! Seems like such an amazing place to spend a weekend!

Savannah, GA

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Take it easy with the pretty, Savannah. image credit

My best friend just took a trip to Savannah (she lives in Tallahassee) and she RAVED about it. So much so that we’re planning a trip here next spring! I’m sure I’ll have tons to share about it then. I can’t wait to go spend a weekend inside a Southern Gothic novel!

Chicago, IL

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Yet another iconic city I’ve never been to! Honestly, the show Shameless has made me feel a little on edge about it, but not experiencing Chicago culture because of a Showtime series would be the definition of judging a book by its cover. I’ve heard that Chicago is a great city for art, and I may or may not be obsessed with art museums…

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John Hancock building, Boston

The moral of the story is, despite the fact that I live minutes away from one of the greatest and most historic cities in the Western hemisphere, Boston, I’ve become too complacent in my New England existence. I’ve really lost perspective. For instance, I live in the suburbs of Boston—conservatism baffles me! When people talk about evangelical Christianity, they may as well be talking about another galaxy! I mean, Donald Trump has a shot at ruling the free world, guys. As much as these things might vex (or terrify) me, there are 49 other states full of hundred of millions of people living completely different lives than mine.

Not everyone is privileged enough to live in affluent communities surrounding a city famous for its colleges and universities. The U.S. is so big (perhaps TOO big)—how can we really feel nationalism when you can drive 6 hours in any direction and feel like you’re in a different country? Before I die, I want to extensively visit every region, if not every state (sorry, North Dakota), in the U.S.

Where should I visit next? Send coffee shop recommendations!

—DellaBites

Part II coming soon!

Doughnut Obsession: Blackbird Doughnuts 

I finally tried Blackbird Doughnuts today, and there are no words. NO WORDS.

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492 Tremont St Boston, MA

Just kidding, there are always words! Blackbird is an artisanal doughnut shop on Tremont St. that bakes on site and has an ever-rotating menu of flavors. While they have plenty of “normal” flavors (chocolate frosted, vanilla glaze, etc.) they also don’t skimp on the creativity! I had an Everything Bagel Doughnut. That’s right—a freaking savory doughnut. It was even sliced down the middle with cream cheese frosting on it. Onion and garlic on a doughnut doesn’t sound good, but BOY was it!

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I chose the Everything Bagel and the Lemon-Poppy. Michael’s sweet tooth won out and he got Triple Chocolate Cake and Strawberry-Honey. Blackbird also serves a cold brew that’s really smooth, so I filled up my mason jar (zero-waste, y’all!)

In conclusion, run—don’t walk!—to Blackbird and get yo’self some damn doughnuts. Bonus points: there’s actual street parking there! I know! In the city of Boston!

Are there any other kickass shops in Boston that I should know about?!

—DellaBites

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Praise.

Tallahassee: A Love Story

Last week I had the immense pleasure of visiting the capital city of Florida, Tallahassee! I know what you’re probably thinking (unless you’re from Florida): “Florida? Northern Florida? Like, if you’re going to vacation on Spring Break, at least hit up Miami or something.”

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Old Tallahassee State House (click through for photo cred)

I get it. Tallahassee isn’t exactly a typical vacation destination. The airport is so tiny, you can’t even get a direct flight there. However, my childhood best friend just got a job at a college there, so to Tallahassee I went. I mean, free lodging and the best homies, hello.

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Turns out, I judged Florida too soon and too harshly. Tallahassee is a freaking oasis. I had both the best (glitter) manicure and the best cold brew of my entire life there. At The Lucky Goat, they call it “Cold Gold” and BELIEVE me, I’d swap my engagement ring for an IV drip of the stuff.

So, since I’m newly obsessed with this city, I thought I’d share a guide to the best eats, dranks, and activities in the game—plus a killer beach recommendation!

Draaaaanks:

Proof Brewing Co.

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Mango. Wit. I could end the description there and you’d get why this place rules. Located in the Railroad Square art park, Proof is an indoor/outdoor beer garden & brewery (they don’t serve food, but they do sell their beer in growlers to go!) It has classy/minimalist warehouse vibes and an astroturfed patio with cornhole and bocce! Also–cute bartenders. I’d be a bad reporter if I failed to mention this important detail. If I lived in Tallahassee, I’d be a regular for sure. And if you go? Get a flight. Trust me, you’re going to want to try as many of their beers as possible.

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Must try: Mango Wit, Creatures in the Dark Porter, La La Land IPA

Warhorse & Gaines Street Pies

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Pizza. Whiskey. The end. Two establishments sharing one building, and my heart. I had my first ever mint julep here, and some of the dopest pizza in the game. We, um, spent a liiiiittle more time on the Warhorse side (which was playing 90’s alt-rock/my spirit music) which has a sparse warehouse-y vibe with a graffiti-esque logo. I tried to convince Sarah that there was a connection between the space (warehouse) and the name (Warhorse) but I was brutally rebuffed by her superior intellect. I was trying way too hard for a pun.

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Must try: The Foxy Cleopatra. It’s a hummus pizza, you guys. And Templeton Rye, neat.

Catalina Café

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Catalina has a special place in my heart. Not only because it’s named after a California island and has major surf-shop vibes, but because it was there that I was introduced to my favorite drink of all time: mazagran. The coffee drink originated in Algeria has many variations, but the one they serve is the Portuguese version: lemonade & cold brew. That’s it. It is liquid magic. It somehow tastes like lemon iced tea and chocolate at the same time. Catalina (the Garages on Gaines location, that is) is another indoor/outdoor establishment (damn Floridians and their stupid good weather in WINTER).

Must try: Mazagran!

The Lucky Goat

 

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image via google

 

I mentioned this gem of a café/roastery above, and let me tell you, it is worth the shout-out. We only got to go here once, since it’s separated from the area that we predominantly spent time in, but its killer coffee and super sweet barista really left an impression on me! I bought a pound of their freshly-roasted coffee which I can’t wait to brew up for the bae.

Must try: Cold Gold

Madison Social

 

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image via google

 

Now, this is the cool kid bar. Like, DJ with a MacBook, hot bartender cool kid bar. We stayed here waaaaaay too long my first night in town, but had some amazing drinks and Rihanna dance parties on the way. I had a drink called a Biergarita here, so clearly it’s a pretty legit establishment. The food seemed amazing too! Can’t wait to go back and try it!

Must try: The West Bank. It’s Sauvignon Blanc and St. Germain. Trust.

Foooooods:

Nefetari’s

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How do I even begin to describe Nefetari’s? I guess it’s like if you put a bunch of drunk vegans inside one of the pyramids of Giza? The décor is definitely Egyptian/Eastern inspired, but the food is, shall we say, eclectic? You can get jerk chicken, burritos, curry, samosas, and vegan mac n cheese in the same place. Heaven on Earth. I had a Hula-peño margarita (jalapeño & pineapple) and curry pasta primavera with tofu. My mouth was pretty confused, but also delighted. Nefetari’s definitely wins for best omni/veggie options.

Must try: The house-made ginger juice stuff. It’s liquid crack. And samosas.

Maple Street Biscuit Company

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We had hungover breakfast here on Saturday, and it did NOT disappoint. Vegetarian mushroom gravy, biscuits, and an overeasy eggs (the vegetarian Ralphie, FYI). And sweet potato fries, let’s get real. They also have Maple Tap, which is one of the most heavenly coffees I’ve ever tasted (and BOTTOMLESS REFILLS, Y’ALL!) Instead of taking our names for our order, they asked us to name a favorite band. We said Belle & Sebastian, because high school. Some of the others shouted out were The Roots and Lake Street Dive. Clearly, we were there with other kindreds.

Grain & The Fermentation Lounge

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The Fermentation Lounge is a local Tally craft beer bar with an adjoining restaurant called Grain on All Saints St. We didn’t actually hang at the Fermentation Lounge, but we ate at Grain and had one of the Lounge’s amazing beers. Great eats, great drinks—an all-around win!

Must try: Beer cheese fondue and the red wine beer. I don’t remember the name of it, but trust me, it was a revelation.

Tacospeak

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Tacospeak was walkable from my friend’s apartment. I would gain a million pounds! I ordered 2 “Hipsters” and I kid you not, there is FRIED CHEESE inside of there! If you live in or near Tally and you don’t go to Tacospeak regularly, you have failed me and I disown you. The end.

Fun Stuff

Nail Bar (Tallahassee)

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Nail Bar is not false advertising. There was booze there! We were way too hungover to take advantage of the complimentary mimosas, but what a way to spend an afternoon waiting for your rental car to become available! I got fucking glitter nails. Not a glitter polish. The nail tech poured actual glitter on my nails. It was extreme. I’m never taking it off. All gold everything. Best manicure experience of my LIFE.

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Must try: A glitter manicure. Best $40 I have ever spent.

Sunshine:

St. George Island

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This beach makes Massachusetts beaches look like pond scum. I mean, they are pretty garbage but until you hit the Gulf Coast, you don’t really know, you know?

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Houses line the shoreline, and they are the orange sherbet houses of my DREAMS. Sarah and I briefly considered not going back to Tally and just working coffee shop jobs on SGI. White sands forever.

Must try: Grouper from the Blue Parrot (a beachside restaurant). Disclaimer: I think fish is vile and don’t understand why people eat it, but if you’re into that sort of thing, this is a local fave that is served in tacos!! Also, FYI the Blue Parrot has a live cam of the beach! Daydreamers beware!

Other awesome things about Tally: La Croix is readily available everywhere, you can buy beer at the grocery store, and the Uber drivers are all amazing and mostly dads.

So, Floridians, did I miss anything? I’m obsessed with your city and can’t wait to go back!

–DellaBites

**All photos taken on my iPhone 6 and edited with A Color Story unless otherwise noted.