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San Diego Sites: The Salk Institute For Biological Studies

  San Diego Sites: The Salk Institute For Biological Studies, Modern Architecture in San Diego Coming from New York City to San Diego has been quite the transition. Some days I just miss wandering through the vast city and gazing up at the skyscrapers and seeing the amazing architecture that fills the city. So, when I heard that San Diego had its own little piece of famous architecture, the Salk Institute, I couldn’t wait to go and check it out, plus I went right at sunset, which made the architecture stand out even more.   The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is an architectural dreamboat by Louis Kahn. The building is minimalistic but mesmerizing with its use of cement contrasted with the natural element of water flowing from the front of it, which leads out to the viewpoint, towards the coast. The cement is also complemented with wood throughout the building, which gives an amazing contrast to the stark white, and at the golden hour, when we visited, the bright oranges with the whites and brown wood made for an architectural spectacle.   There’s something enchanting about a building that’s created with few materials and that is a stark contrast to its environment. I used to think cement buildings were ugly, and I do think in certain contexts they are (cough D.C. cough), but since this building is so symmetrical and so steril with flashes of the natural, i.e. the literal stream separating the architecture, visiting this building makes me feel like I’m in a different place than San Diego, and dare I say, even a different country. There’s just... read more

Our Last Night in New York City

  Our Last Night in New York City: Saying goodbye and watching it move on before us   We left New York City in a whirlwind. Jeff was offered a position and we had 4 weeks to sublet our Bushwick loft, buy a car, quit our jobs, pack the house, ship our stuff, and make the trek from 1 coast to the other. I wrote a post earlier this week for my more personal, self-growth, entrepreneurial blog, Declare Happy, if you’re interested in learning more about my addiction to moving. But writing that post got me thinking about our decision to leave New York and made me reminisce about our last few weeks in the amazing city that is New York. Our last night there was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I find myself missing that city more and more and with the lasting memory of our last night, I’m antsy to head back. Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, and our Insignificance We started the evening by strolling through Central Park and watched as park goers tossed the frisbees on the amazing spring day that was our last New York City day. We watched as the trees were in bloom, the spring flowers filling the park, and headed over to the American Museum of Natural History for one last visit until shipping out west. Despite having access to nature here in San Diego, there’s nothing quite like Central Park, that oasis in the chaos of the city. I find myself daydreaming about afternoons spent there and sometimes wish I could teleport my way back, but I’m... read more

San Diego Highlight: The La Jolla Cove

  San Diego Highlight: The La Jolla Cove: Dramatic cliffs, sea lions, and beautiful protected waters Jeff, Pickles (our greyhound), Toulouse (our cat), and I moved from bustling New York City in June and landed here, in sunny San Diego, California after making the trek from 1 coast to the other. Jeff was offered a position at a landscape architecture firm and being the opportunity followers that we are decided to ship out and test beach living. We live in a small beach community, Ocean Beach, here in San Diego, and it’s a LOT different from our Bushwick, Brooklyn place! But today’s post isn’t about sleepy, Ocean Beach, today’s post is about ritzy, bougie La Jolla and their breathtaking cove. When you’re done taking in the beauty of the cove, wander around downtown La Jolla and grab a nice bite for lunch and do a little luxury shopping ;). 1. Breathtaking, dramatic views, not your typical beach scene I’m more of a mountain and city type of gal so I get a little tired of the standard beach scene. Don’t get me wrong, being close to the infiniance of the water and that cool ocean breeze is pretty amazing, but sometimes I feel like all there is to the beach is sand and water…which is why I love La Jolla’s Cove so much. The La Jolla Cove sets the scenes for breathtaking cliff views and a nice, relaxing park to boot. You can just stand at the edge of the cliffs and look out into the horizon of the ocean. Seeing the full power of the ocean is humbling and... read more

Bergen, Norway: the Funicular, the Views, and the Beauty of Mt. Floyen

Bergen, Norway: the Funicular, the Views, and the Beauty of Mt. Floyen:  A mystical hike above the city on Mt. Floyen The last international trip Jeff and I took was to Norway. We went about 2 years ago and I still find myself reminiscing about it. Norway is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Oslo was an amazing and vibrant city (check out some of the highlights of the city in yesterday’s post), while Bergen, on the other end of the country was the perfect place to spend with Jeff, exploring the small city, while moving slowly through it, at the pace it deserves, a slow, dedicated pace. Bergen is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I’ve been looking for a comparison ever since visiting, but haven’t yet found one. I don’t think anything can compare to the fjord and mountain landscape.  One of my favorite Bergen afternoons was when we decided to go hiking above the city via the funicular up to Mt. Floyen to escape into nature, into the mythical landscape of Norway.   1. The charm of the funicular   I don’t know how else to describe a funicular other than charming. It’s one of those forms of transportation that feel as if you’re in a cartoon or story. One of my favorite depictions of a funicular ever is in Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel when they go up the mountain. via GIPHY That’s what I feel like the grand feeling of a funicular is. I feel like that depiction of a funicular is exactly how it feels like... read more

Thinking Back…Oslo Highlights

Thinking Back…Oslo Highlights: Frogner Park (Vigeland Sculpture Garden), Grünerløkka, and the Opera House Today’s blog post, I’m reminiscing again about my trip to Oslo, Norway. Norway isn’t just beautiful for the dramatic fjord landscapes, but Oslo’s architecture and art scene is a city for inspiration on its own. Today’s post will be reminiscing about Frogner Park and the Vigeland Sculpture Garden (and my favorite sculpture of all time), the Grunerlokka district, and the beautiful, sleek, modern Oslo Opera House. I’m a sucker for arts and architecture, so full disclosure, there will be a lot of that in this post ;). 1. Frogner Park aka Vigeland Sculpture Park Frogner Park is actually Oslo’s number 1 tourist attraction, which surprised me, but I can definitely see why. Frogner Park is interesting because it’s a huge city park, that is also a major sculpture garden,  the Vigeland Sculpture Garden mixed in as a permanent installation. The sculptures are refreshing and go through parenthood, being an adult, and great battles as well. My favorite statue is “Angry Boy” or in Norwegian Sinnataggen. We visited Norway in March, so the sun set early and we stumbled into park in the afternoon and were there during the “golden hour,” which made for awesome glimpses of the statues with a dramatic backdrop.   2. Grunerlokka aka “Hipster” Oslo So Gunerlokka is an awesome district/neighborhood within Oslo where there’s a ton of street art, installation pieces, awesome cafes and coffee shops, and all the cool modern shops and even cooler thrift shops for some cheap Norwegian buys. Be sure to make a stop at Indigo, a sleek, unique coffee shop... read more

Colorado’s Best Concert Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheater

Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of those places that mesmerizes as much as any concert you might attend there. Just outside of Denver, Red Rocks has housed some of the world’s most famous bands from the Beatles (yes the Beatles) to smaller more indie bands, like  Of Monsters and Men and Vampire Weekend (the show I saw, which happened to be my first red rocks concert!).     I feel embarrassed being a former Colorado native and having only visited Red Rocks once, but I’m sure that it won’t be the last. Every time I visit Colorado I’ll be checking the concert schedule!  Red rocks is an outdoor amphitheater famous for its music and geology. During the day its a park where people come exercise, play around on the stage, and go for hikes.   During the day its the perfect exercise spot, but at night, when there’s a concert, its unforgettable.   The red rocks are lit up, you can see the stars above, and in the distance you can see the Denver lights and skyline. Most bands take advantage of the lighting and rocks and do light shows with their music against the rocks and it makes for an unforgettable show!     A few tips: 1. Get there early if your show is general admission, the front fills up quickly by people camping out all day. 2. Bring a light jacket or a blanket because sometimes it can be chilly! 3. Bring a poncho, it tends to rain and they don’t cancel shows due to rain very often! 4. Wear appropriate shoes because you might have... read more

Spring Hiking In Fort Collins, Colorado

So, as you might be able to tell, I’m not a great blogger. I am a very large slacker when it comes to keeping my blog up to date and that’s not good! I keep repeating to myself…balance. I have been very busy on the other hand. If you follow us on Twitter you might’ve seen that we went to D.C. recently to scope out housing and for my open house for my new grad program. We didn’t do much in the way of touristy things, but we did some exploring, but don’t worry over the next 3 years we’ll become bonafide experts on all of D.C. and NOVA…I promise. I’ve been in the midst of chaos regarding a Kenya archaeological dig and so keep your fingers crossed that all the loose ends become tightened so that I can go (and keep your fingers crossed for cheaper airfare to miraculously appear!). If you didn’t know this about me, I also study paleoanthropology and hope to get my PhD once I’m done with my MFA. So if I get to go and begin doing research in the fall in D.C. you can follow Alex’s Archaeological Adventures (working title) segment of this site (or new site?) I haven’t decided. In other news, I’ve been bumming around outside since winter is officially over (despite May snowstorms!) and we’ve been up to a lot of hiking here in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins is located at the base of the foothills so hiking is very accessible. One of my favorite spots to hike is Bobcat Ridge in Fort Collins. Nobody is ever there (although it... read more

Montmartre Paris

When I first got into Paris, I was a little disappointed. It could’ve been the jetlag (I didn’t sleep for the entire 12 hour flight), it could’ve been the stress trying to figure out the Charles De Gaulle Airport (that has been ranked the worst airport in the world, a number of times), or it could’ve been all the pouring, cold rain, but when I got there I thought, this isn’t Paris, this is a big cement city. Where are all the artists? Where were the boulangeries? Where were the markets? Where was the Eiffel Tower?! But, after I was well rested and made my way into the city the next day, I was beginning to fall in love. I lived in the 14th district, a, in my opinion, a plainer, maybe “realer” district of Paris, but I fell in love with Paris over a period of time, (about 3 weeks). If you’re looking for that romantic, rose colored buildings, the scenes from the movies, the artsy Paris, then make sure to visit Montmartre! It’s located up North in the 18th district and is home to the famous Moulin Rouge, the Sacre Cour, and lots of art history.   Once home to Picasso, Dali, and the rest of the gang, Montmartre gives you the Paris feel. Stroll the streets where Owen Wilson strolled in Midnight in Paris, or crack crème brulee where Amelie did at the Les Deux Moulins, lift your skirts at the Moulin Rouge, or sit back, relax and sip some cherry brandy at La Lapin Agile, a local, real cabaret experience. Be sure to stroll the... read more

Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon, just outside of Keflavik Airport, in Iceland, sits in rugged Icelandic lava formations surrounded by beautiful black rocks and mountain scenery. When Alex and I went in early December, the average temperature was around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so we were a little hesitant to go to a pool in the middle of winter… But to our very happy discovery, the geothermal heated water in the lagoon is heated to around 98-102 degrees Fahrenheit all the time! We decided to go to the Blue Lagoon the last day of our stay in Iceland as it’s en route to the Keflavik Airport and makes a very nice relaxing end of the vacation experience. All the bus companies in the surrounding area of Reykjavik and the airport make logistics to the Blue Lagoon very easy and stress free. They even stored our luggage on the bus while we enjoyed the morning at the Blue Lagoon and were on the bus when we left for the airport. (They also store your luggage at the Blue Lagoon if you need to do that)   Once we walked through the enchanting walkway with rugged volcanic rocks, paid our entrance fee, and changed into our swimming attire, we were in the Blue Lagoon. And yes the water is actually blue! And we went just before the place opened so we basically had the entire place to ourselves for the first couple hours. Nothing beat the hot water in the middle of a cold winter. It was very relaxing with the minerals in the water healing our skin, soothing our muscles, and looking across the Icelandic... read more

Le Arc de Triomphe, Paris

The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) in Paris is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. As it sits at the top of the Champs Elysees and at the intersection of multiple roads, it dominates the surrounding landscape as a focal point of the area. The lank mark was built for Napoleon’s army, the Grande Armee in the early 1800s as an honorary gesture from Napoleon.  It is the world’s largest triumphal arch and is engraved with battle victories as well as past generals that served in the French Army. The design of the columns depicts sculptural reliefs from France’s history and is designed in a late 18th-century Romantic Neoclassicism style. If you can’t make it to the Eiffel tower, or don’t want to wait in the lines, this is a close second and it’s less expensive and less crowded. To get there, DON’T try and walk past the millions of lanes of traffic with cars rushing around in a circle. There is a tunnel underneath that leads you there on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle. You can access this tunnel from the Wagram exit of the Metro. There are great views on the top down the Champs Elysees and around the entire city of Paris. When I went, I went at night during the Christmas season which was great because the entire Champs Elysees was lit up with all of the Christmas lights and all of the Christmas vendors and such. You also have a great view of the Eiffel Tower and at night, it is lit up which makes... read more

A Paris Best, The Angelina Tea Room

[mappress mapid=”2″] Address: 226 rue de Rivoli – Paris Transport: Metro 1 Tuileries Stop Website: Phone: +33 (0) Hours:  Monday-Friday from 7.30 am till 7pm Saturday and Sunday from 8.30 am till 7pm One of my favorite memories of Paris, especially during the winter months, was stopping by the world famous Angelina Tea House. Located on Rue de Rivoli, Angelina sits at the center of Paris’ fashion district and has a history rooted in fashion. Famous for their Mont Blanc and their decadent hot chocolate, you can enjoy yourself in a luxury setting, where Madame Chanel herself once sat working on her designs. Don’t feel intimidated, although it’s rooted in luxury, the servers are all very kind and welcoming. Be prepared to wait in line however, Angelina is world famous because it’s popular! Just get to the teahouse early, don’t wait until they are near closing because sometimes they can’t seat you. But, don’t fear. If you get to Angelina close to closing, just go to the “to go” section of the teahouse. They sell their hot chocolate by the cup to go as well as my favorite, and their world famous Mont Blanc to go! But, try your best to get a seat to look around and sit where the world famous have sat including, Madame Chanel, Proust, and many visiting fashion icons. Make sure you order one of their world famous Mont Blancs, it is a dessert with a meringue base, a chestnut cream vermicelli, and their house made whipped cream, (I heard a rumor from my Parisian friend that the Mont Blanc is so decadent because they make it with crème... read more

Top 5 Things To Do in Iceland in the Winter

5 Best Things to do in Iceland in the Winter 1. Go on a glacier hike! Yes, it’s how it sounds, you can go hiking on a glacier, and it’s really awesome. When I did it, this past December, I went with the Icelandic Mountain Guides and we hiked on a blue glacier. They equip you with crampons (little spikes that attach to your boots for traction- they’re great) which make walking on ice a breeze. The views from the glaciers are incredible and if you’re familiar with the HBO series, Game of Thrones, part of it was filmed in the mountains and glaciers of Iceland. 2. Go on the Golden Circle Tour. This tour hits a lot of the famous landmarks and natural spots of Iceland. There are many options to take this tour whether you go on the large tour buses, mini buses, or private tours. I personally took the Iceland Horizon Golden Circle Tour with David, which I highly recommend as it was a smaller group and David was very friendly and knowledgeable. This tour was great, you see geysers, amazing waterfalls including Gullfoss, as well as Thingvellir National Park where the Vikings held their Parliament meetings. 3. Swim in the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon, located in a lava field, is a geothermal heated lagoon that is mineral rich with silica and sulphur and is indeed BLUE! It’s basically a giant mineral rich, blue watered, hot tub. The Blue Lagoon is located close to the airport and about 40 minutes from Reykjavik which makes it a nice location to hit right when you enter Iceland... read more

Ang’s Florence Tips!

[pinit] Florence is beautiful. We’d never been before but having been to Venice last year and Rome before that, we had an idea of what to expect. We flew into Pisa airport which is relatively small but there weren’t many crowds and clearing customs was pretty quick. Having seen how the Italians drive, we decided that taking a bus was preferable and there are frequent buses leaving from outside the airport direct to the city centre. The main company is Terravision and the journey takes around 70 minutes at a cost of €6 single or €10 return. Florence isn’t huge so walking with our cases from the bus station to our hotel near the river took about 15 minutes. We were located in the heart of the city, close to the bridges and main squares. The weather was hot – above average for the first week in September (around 92°/ 33C) which made walking around in the main part of the day a little tiring – but a good excuse to sit with a cool drink in a café on the edge of a piazza and watch the world go by. As we were only there for 5 days we decided that a trip on the sightseeing bus would be a good idea, so we could find out where the best places to visit would be and save our legs for walking around on the other days (make sure you take some flat walking shoes – the roads are cobbled or rough in most places and you’ll soon have sore feet otherwise). When you’re walking around and exploring, be... read more

Top 5 Things to Do in Amsterdam

[pinit] Amsterdam is a wonderful city with really cool canals, super tall and skinny buildings, and yes filled with many coffee shops. There’s many things to do besides go to the red light district and go to a coffee shop too. So here are the Top 5 things to do in Amsterdam. 1. Take a canal tour Amsterdam is said to be the Venice of the north and that holds true with its beautiful canals surrounding the city and there isn’t a better way to enjoy them than taking a canal tour. The canals were dedicated a UNESCO monument in 2010 and the while on a boat in the canals you can take in the beautiful architecture surrounding the canals. There’s many choices for boat tours from hop on, hop off, to dinner boats. Whatever it is you fancy, you will have a great time.   2. Go to the Ann Frank Museum World War II was a very difficult time for the Netherlands and the Anne Frank House (Prinsengracht 267 (1016 GV)  PO Box 730, 1000 AS Amsterdam, Netherlands) is a museum to showcase Anne Frank and her family’s life during the war and their struggles. You get to see her secret annex where Ann and her family hid for years where she wrote her famous diary. The line outside is worth the wait. 3. Go to a coffee shop A lot of people go to Amsterdam to smoke marijuana without getting a ticket or arrested for it. It’s one of the very few places in the world where you can do this and there are many coffee shops... read more

Les Deux Moulins: A Cinematic Cafe In Paris

  Les Deux Moulins 15 Rue Lepic 75018 Paris, France If you love the film Amelie, then you need to add Les Deux Moulins to your itinerary. Located within Montmarte on 15 Rue Lepic 75018 Paris, it was charming, but I’d only suggest it for the avid Amelie fan. It is a very touristy cafe, I mean mostly english is spoken, and the waiters can be a tad bit  unfriendly. But what you need to keep in mind is that this is the location where Amelie was filmed and where she worked in the film. It felt a little less romantic simply becasue it turned into (an expensive) tourist trap. But it still had its charm with the garden gnome in the back and Amelie posters hidden around the corners of the resturant. We sat down for a traditional french lunch.  I ordered Salad au chevre chaud (which means a salad with large croutons with melted goat cheese on top!) which was great then I had the famous Amelie’s creme brulee, (if you remember in the film one of the things she loved to do was to crack the creme brulee) avec un cafe creme. The creme brulee was the BEST creme brulee I’ve ever had in my entire life. All of our meal was served on a placemat of Amelie images (which after a lot of delicate work, managed to take home as a souvenir! but dont’ worry if you’re a spiller, they have plenty, just ask your server for another. If they roll their eyes don’t take it personal). The restaurant itself was a little disenchanting because of the  Americans... read more

Notre Dame Paris

[mappress mapid=”1″] Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris Transport: Metro 4 RER B, C Website: Phone: +33 (0)1 42 34 56 10 Price: audioguide €5 Hours: 8am-6:45pm Mon-Fri, 8am-7:15 Sat-Sun The famous Notre Dame de Paris may be the most recognized icon in Paris besides the Eiffel Tower. Since its construction in 1163 the Notre Dame is one of the few remaining cathedrals in France. Where is it located? Well you really can’t miss it as it’s on the Île de la Cité, the island between the rive gauche (left bank) and the rive drought (right bank). It is one of France’s finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The Metro stop to get to Notre Dame is the St Michel Notre-Dame stop on the RER B, C or the Metro line 4. Once you walk to the Notre Dame cathedral, you will most likely be awed at the size of the cathedral and want to take many pictures. I’d recommend walking around the entire cathedral so you can get a good sense of the incredible architecture of the cathedral and all of the components to it. Depending on the day and time you go, I’d also recommend getting in line to go inside the cathedral if you’re short on time. The inside of the cathedral is really cool with all of the ribbed vaults and beautiful stain glass and amazing organs. You can take photos inside without a flash. You can also climb the North tower of Notre Dame to the top which is to the right as you walk in the main doorway and... read more

Greece Spotlight: Delphi

[pinit] Delphi is the second most visited archaeological site in Greece after the Acropolis and is rightfully so! Once known as the center of the Earth and home to prophets, kings, and scholars, Delphi is a mystical place, not to be missed! The myth says that Zeus sent down two eagles to find the center of the world, and both met, here, at Delphi. If you’ve ever read Socrates or Geek mythology, or even seen movies based in Greece (erm 300?), then you know that Delphi  is where the Delphic Oracle lived and professed. Situated at the base of Mount Parnassus and above the Pleistos Valley, the location gives a dramatic backdrop to any photo you may take of the sites. You do have to pay a small fee to see the Temple of Apollo, but it is very worth it. The little hike to the top leads to an amphitheater and the stadium, which are very worth checking out! Stand up top for awhile with the mountain breeze and views of all the sites and valley below for some relaxation and meditation. A few things to keep in mind: Depending on when you visit the Delphi museum can have short hours. Plan on the museum closing at around 4 just to be safe. But if you find that the museum is closing and so is the archaeological sites, then definitely pick the archaeological sites! Buy water at one of the local stores where the bus drops you off before heading to the sites, with the altitude, the heat can be intense and the altitude can contribute to dehydration. But don’t worry the hike will be suitable for all levels... read more

7 Things You can Do In Lieu of Oktoberfest

[pinit] Yes, the drinking, the prosting, the dancing, the singing can get tiring, especially if you might’ve overdone it the night before. Oktoberfest is tricky, most people I’ve talked to were happy they experienced it, but would never go back. But, Oktoberfest is much more than drinking, it’s a celebration centered upon tradition. So, take a break, give your body a rest, and enjoy yourself, like the Germans do! Check out all the amusement park rides! Shocker is a popular haunted house ride and in celebration of Oktoberfest’s 200th year, they’ve added 7 new rooms to terrify you including haunted bathrooms, exorcisms, and more scary sights!         2. Visit the Marienplatz inside of Munich, it will most likely be quiet, has great shopping, great views, and of course as cheesy and lame as it is, you must see the glockenspiel at 11 am. Its really old, give it a break. Be sure to visit Englischer Garten! This is a local secret! But this secret was one of the highlights of my Oktoberfest! Its quiet, its local, and its HUGE. There is a Japanese garden, an English style garden, yes nude sunbathers, and a spot for surfing. Yes, surfing. Be sure to wander around for awhile its great to people watch! Be sure to climb the Alter Peter (Church of St. Peter) it is 306 steps to climb to the top of the tower, but the view is worth it! See the top of Munich! Go to the Hofbräuhaus , its overcrowded, its filled with tourists, but its famous and people know it.  Honestly, I’ve been there I’ve had dinner there and it was alright, but the majority... read more

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