I’m just sayin’.
originally posted on notreallyoxfordwomen!
We packed a lot into our first week. I’m still waiting until it calms down so I can do wild things like sleep or buy a curling iron. Exciting stuff! Here’s just a tiny overview of a few faves from the last week. Loads more to come!
Pubs & Food
Saturday was the quarter finals of the World Cup and (spoiler alert from several days ago) England trounced Sweden! It’s the first time England’s gone so far in the cup in ages, so the city was abuzz with excitement! We had an impossible time finding a pub at which to watch the match—everywhere was stuffed to the gills with people spilling outside and watching through the windows. They’re playing again Wednesday (against Croatia) and we’re camping out at St. Aldate’s nice and early to watch!
The Covered Market is so, so cool. It’s like a tiny version of Farmer’s Market in L.A.
Pro tip about (at least this area of) England: every. bloody. place. has. vegetarian options. It’s absolutely incredible. Even the morning English Breakfast buffet could please a vegan. Just note that it’s soya milk, not soy! Also, figure out what the hell Pimm’s is before you come here.
Still to try: The Wig & Pen, The Eagle & Child, O’Neills, The Bear Inn, The Oxford Retreat, The Trout
You can’t go to England without making a pilgrimage to Boots. It’s like a Sephora-meets-CVS, and it’s the nearest chemist to school. We’ve been getting our groceries at Tesco & Sainsbury’s. I got a tattoo at Oxford Tattoo and it was the best experience I’ve ever had. 10/10 would recommend. And Blackwell’s! What can I possibly say about Blackwell’s that hasn’t already been said. You remember the song “Almost Paradise“? It started playing in my heart when I walked in. It’s 3 floors of wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor books, and I’m moving in there ASAP.
Holywell Cemetary was spooky af. Go at dusk! Here’s a list of graves. The Martyrs’ Memorial should make your list. The Bodleian Libraries are so gorgeous it’s unfair. The Radcliffe Camera is an extreme photo op. And well, everything here is perfect, so just walk around and ogle the buildings!
Cymru for life. These ruined medieval relics are stunning beyond belief. Granted it was about 4,000 degrees Celsius, seeing these living legends was an unmissable experience. Get thee to the land of the dragon!
The Hen & Chickens pub is clearly the local watering hole, and we were so lucky to have stopped in here. We met an Irish ex-pat named Collin and a mysterious vest-wearing Welshman who went by the name of Reality Jones. There is no way to really capture how magical our Wales experience was…suffice it to say that I’m definitely going back, and I’m probably getting a Reality Jones tattoo. P.S. Welsh cheddar and cole slaw sandwich. Iconic.
In my next post, I’ll go off about coffee and food in Oxford (hint: it’s very good).
Only 16 more days! It’s going by way too quickly!
We leave for England in 4 days! I’m so excited and grateful for this opportunity. I’ve never taken a Transatlantic flight (I’ve only left the country five times, to Quebec and Cancun), so this is a major bucket-list item checked off! As I may have mentioned before, Annie and I will be living and studying at Wadham College at Oxford, but we have plenty of excursions planned (including day trips to Paris and Brussels!)
This is a(partial) list of what we’ll be up to on the island:
Travel tattoos at Oxford Tattoo
Hamlet at The Globe
The Bodleian Library
The Roman Baths in Bath
I’m sure we’ll check out at least some of these 15 Things to do in Oxford
See you stateside in August!
It’s been 8 months since my long-weekend trip to Atlanta and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! Atlanta is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s a field guide from a total ATL rookie!
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport & MARTA
The Atlanta airport is a Delta hub, so the running joke is that if the devil himself had to fly back to Hell, he’d connect in Atlanta. The airport is massive, so big that it necessitates a “plane train” to take passengers between terminals. H-J also has the lovely tendency of switching arrival gates, often to different terminals, which can be a bit stressful.
I, of course, was actually flying to Atlanta, though, so I had a great experience navigating the airport. It’s best feature is that, when it spits you out at baggage claim, there’s a MARTA station right there that can get you anywhere in the city!
MARTA is Atlanta’s answer to the T or Metro, but possibly way better. The trains run frequently, are super clean (as public transit goes) and the lines are super simplified so it’s easy for a newbie to navigate the system. The only downsides are that the trains pretty much only converge at Five Points, so that station is, I’m sure, a nightmare, and that you have to tap your Breeze Card on exit as well as entry, just like BART. MARTA reminds me a lot of the Montreal Metro, just way less confusing.
The W Atlanta-Midtown
The W Hotel in Midtown is conveniently located between the Midtown and Arts Center stops on MARTA. I hopped off MARTA at Midtown, grabbed a cup from Dancing Goats, and booked it to the hotel to relieve myself of the two stuffed totes I was schlepping. I knew the W was a nice hotel, but holy smokes was it swanky! Easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, so big ups to my friend, who treated us!
The High Museum
Going to the High Museum was my #1 Atlanta priority and it did not disappoint! Designed by Richard Meier, the iconic AF architect who designed the Getty Center in LA, the High is a bright beautiful building filled with a stunning array of artworks, American, European, and African. I can’t wait to go back—there was an entire wing we didn’t have time to see!
The Margaret Mitchell House was a must-do on my Atlanta list. My best friend (who accompanied me on the trip) and I had a movie-watching club with her dad when we were kids (because we were super cool), and Gone With the Wind was one of the stand-outs. I read the book in high school (so…eleven or twelve years ago….) and similarly adored it. There’s some controversy about the book glamorizing the antebellum period, but, in my extremely optimistic view, it’s a story of a strong woman doing what it takes to survive. Also, Margaret Mitchell was a badass journalist and proto-feminist who died in a car crash, so who doesn’t want to hear about that drama?
We did brunch at Cafe Intermezzo on our last day in ATL, and I have exactly 2 words: savory. crepes. Intermezzo, as the name suggests, has super Italian vibes—there was an Italian movie playing while we were there (I heard it over the speakers in the bathroom, and the female lead sounded exactly like Isabella Rossellini). The food and cappuccinos were to die for, the staff was super nice, and the atmosphere was very European (or so I imagine, as someone who has never left North America).
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
Dancing Goats was located right across from the Midtown MARTA stop, so I popped in on my way in and out of Atlanta. Since I didn’t spend much time here, I don’t have a ton to say, but the cold brew was good, they had bomb green iced tea, and the décor was sparse and right up my alley. More coffee shops need to adopt the minimalist menu trend! I don’t need the calorie count and every flavor under the sun listed. Just tell me lattes are $4 so I can get on with my life!
Revelator Coffee Company
I’m dreaming….of a Revelator cold brew…
Revelator is so nice, I went there twice! Once on the Georgia Tech campus and once at Ponce. They have a super stripped down menu—no frappuccinos up in here! I also heard a rumor that they bought Wired Puppy in Boston, so I’ll catch y’all soon!
TAP: A Gastropub
TAP is so, so good. We went for Sunday brunch and it was (fortunately for us) deserted, so we got to enjoy our mimosas and breakfast quesadillas in peace. Also, we got loaded tater tots, because, let’s face it, when in Rome. Can’t wait to go back and sample the rest of the menu!
South City Kitchen (Midtown)
Brunch goals, elevated. South City Kitchen was arguably the *most* Southern thing we did during our stay. I had grits, y’all.
We went to The Nook on our first night in ATL. It was right around the corner from our hotel, across from Piedmont Park, and it was the perfect low-key location to get the vacay started. I tried the “Atalanta” plum beer by Orpheus Brewing Company and it was amazing. Also, buffalo tater tot nachos. TOTCHOS.
After 2 days of eating nothing but tater tots and cheese, my body was screaming for vegetables, so we decided on Thai for dinner. Midtown is (apparently) super quiet on Sunday nights, so we had a very peaceful meal on the patio of Tamarind Seed, which, unfortunately, is closed now. I will say, the food was excellent! I hope their renovations go smoothly and that they’re able to reopen!
This bar was around the corner from The W, and it ended up being one of the best spots we hit during our stay. We went after our dinner at Tamarind Seed for dessert, drinks, and the Celtics game. The Verde cocktail was the dreamiest–it had Hendricks, lime, cilantro, and chili pepper–and the Vanilla Bavarian dessert was like key lime pie on steroids. Not to mention that the decor was stunning and modern, and the service was outstanding (although I am highly biased towards people who compliment my glasses). We just intended to pop in for a few minutes, but ended up staying because the TV was playing basketball (which I have never watched or cared about), but as a Boston native herself, my friend was really invested in the Celtics winning (which they did spectacularly in the last few seconds)!
P.S. 5Church contacted me on Instagram and asked to repost this shot, so hit them up on Insta and you might see a familiar handle!
This bar was located next to our hotel, so we decided to give it a try Saturday night around 11, to prove to ourselves that we weren’t 80-year-old women. (We are.)
This is a very cool spot, admittedly, but that was kind of the problem. It was packed, loud, and super dark. I think there was actually a wedding after-party happening while we were there. We were fighting to stay awake after our long day, but we gave our version of “going out to da club” a try, and I have to say the drinks were fab. I got a Negroni, because they were referenced on Master of None, and I actually love the borderline gross bitterness of Campari.
The decor at The Establishment was Old West-inspired–lots of burlap, rope, and barrels. Even the glassware was heavy and ornate, a very nice vintage nod. If I ever make it back to ATL, I’ll stop into this bar during the early evening so that I can actually hear my companion’s conversation.
Luckily, as we were finishing our drinks, the bar TVs started playing SNL, so after the cold open, we rushed back to the hotel to bid farewell to Bobby, Vanessa, and Sasheer.
On our first night in Atlanta, at The Nook, we discovered local brewer, Orpheus Brewing, and their incomparable Atalanta Tart Plum Saison. It was so amazing that even I, who never drinks beer, couldn’t help but order one. A quick Google search let us know that the brewery itself was just across the park from where we were staying, so we set out on Sunday to take one of their tours and enjoy samples of all their varietals. (Can you say varietals about beer, or is that just a wine term?)
Unfortunately, after walking all the way across Piedmont Park to get to the brewery, they were closed for a private event, so we didn’t get to do the brewery tour. Super bummed! This is a must-do activity on my next trip down South!
Ponce City Market
I’d venture to call this the Faneuil Hall of Atlanta. It’s an outdoor mall (think lululemon and Madewell) and an indoor food hall with every type of cuisine imaginable. If I were a local, I anticipate that I’d find myself here a lot. I grabbed a Lyft down to Ponce on my last day to kill some time before my flight, and I’m really glad I checked it out. I ended up having a burrito and a margarita (because I’m predictable) while listening to Throwing Shade, a recent podcast obsession. Unfortunately, it was raining and generally crappy out all Monday, so apart from the umbrella I bought, I wasn’t able to do much shopping.
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?
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
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!
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!
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!
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”]
#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.
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!!
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!
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
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!
[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
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!
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!