A New York 24 Hours

I travel for work A LOT. The production company I produce for has an office in Manhattan so I’m in and out of NYC pretty regularly. However, I’m always working so it’s all work and no play. However when I scored an amazing flight deal to Iceland out of NYC I took advantage of being able to work from Manhattan and decided to treat myself to a mini pre-vacation in the Big Apple.

How I got there: 

Flying in to Newark the most economical way to get to Manhattan is the Newark Airport Shuttle. You can book one way or round trip for just $30, a taxi or Uber depending on the time of day could cost double or triple that.

Where I stayed:

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I LOVE this little hotel. For it’s location it was very reasonably priced. I cashed in some of my hotels.com  rewards and managed to snag a room for less then $100 a night. If you’re looking for an amazing park avenue suite, bell boy and in room jacuzzi. This is NOT the hotel for you. The rooms are super tiny, but very clean and modern. I loved that each bunk bed had it’s own little TV. It was exactly what I need to rest after a busy day in the city. Plus there’s an amazing Mexican bar/restaurant downstairs.

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After checking in the hotel I headed down stairs to Salvation Taco . Which is a cool cantina attached to the hotel. I had TWO spicy margaritas and some delicious tacos before tipsy strolling to the subway to get to my broadway shot at 8pm.

By the way, being tipsy in Time Square is AMAZING. However being tipsy at the start of your favorite broadway musical is a recipe for an unnecessary amount of tears during the opening number.

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I’ve been singing the Waitress soundtrack non-stop for the past six months. So when I had a free night in NYC I had to go and  get front row seats. The perk of seeing a show solo is that tickets are so much cheaper. Instead of getting my front row isle seats for double the cost, one ticket was only $175 (instead of two for $250). Another bonus of “Treat-yo-self” to broadway solo is you can do whatever the F*!k you want. I got there early, had a drink at the bar and bought myself a key lime pie. It was magical. I laughed, cried and hummed along. PLUS Jason Mraz was headlining that night! Which was an unexpected surprise.


The next morning I joined the hoards of commuters on the subway and begrudgingly went to work. After a few ours of office work (AKA chatting with my best co-worker friend) I decided to head out to the city to shoot some “B-roll” footage (AKA explore).

Of all the time I’ve spent in the city I’ve never been to Ellis island or the Statue of Liberty! So that was the days mission.

First stop Battery Park. I HATE HATE HATE talking to ticketing agents. So I’d did the millennial introvert route, bought my ferry tickets online. Roughly $30 for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

I happened to get there just as a ferry was boarding so I had no wait. The cruise over to the Statue of Liberty was very nice, even in November we had great weather. The Statue of Liberty was much more impressive from a far. Visiting the island itself was underwhelming. I was more excited to visit Ellis Island.

I’ve always loved “coming to America” books and movies. So I was super interested in visiting Ellis Island and its museum. There’s so much to see at Ellis Island you probably could spend a whole day there. But I only had a hour to kill so I sped through each exhibit. The Island has so much history, historical impact and culture attached to it that the stories are never ending. I loved hearing and seeing how immigrants passed through customs and the trials they faced.

After speeding through I grabbed a hotdog and re-boarded the ferry back to Manhattan.

In total my round trip took about 3 hours, but I really feel like I saw everything. Plus I got my Instagram’s and that’s what matters most right?

Fearing I’d miss my bus back to Newark I basically sprinted back to my office to collect my suitcase and get to the bus stop. As predicted the Newark Airport Express was exactly on time and I made it by an inch. I squeezed in my bus seat next to a very loud Indian couple and settled in for the 45 min ride back to Newark Airport. Next stop, Iceland!

 

 

 

Cancun goes hard

If you’ve been following my blog then you know I LOVE TO DRINK. After all alcohol is universal, so I always make a point to sample local spirits everywhere I go. Cancun is a party city. The club and bar options are endless.

For our first night in Cancun we started it off at the loudest, silliest, wildest restaurant I’ve ever been Carlos and Charlies. The atmosphere was great. But maybe if the staff spent less time dancing and telling jokes are food would’ve come faster? Or maybe they delay the food so you’ll buy more drinks and shots? The food was so so but the drinks were excellent. I had a mile high margarita and a variety of shots bought by our table.

 

Feeling nice and warmed up we walked just across the street to the famous Mandala Disco. Our group decided to be VIP. So we paid a flat fee and had open bottle service and boy did we take advantage of that! We free poured our own screwdrivers, rum and cokes and what ever else we could get our hands on. The bottles were literally flowing. We danced and danced. Every now and then they would have free shots on the stage. So of course we bummed rushed to get those as well. Towards the end of the night when things were getting a little blurry they had a stripping contest. That was an eye full. But hey, it’s Cancun! I actually don’t remember how we got home that night, but somehow we managed. But not before everyone accidentally drank the mexican tap water….

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Mexico City isn’t scary, it’s amazing

When planning for my trip to Mexico I was met with much concern from friends and family. Mainly because I was not going straight to the touristy beaches of Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. I started my trip in Mexico city. As a woman traveling alone (I met up with a group later) I was warned to stay vigilant, cary pepper spray, don’t stray from the beaten path, ect. Honestly I was nervous about Mexico City. Recently the news has been flooded with horror stories about kidnappings and murders in Mexico. So entering the city I was certainly on guard.

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Mexico city view from my hotel

But from the moment I touched down in MEX I felt nothing but compassion and kindness from the citizens I encountered. I quickly found that residents of Mexico city want to erase the stigma surrounding their historical, cultural and vibrant home. I felt safe walking around. I easily navigated the well kept streets and was helped by several friendly people. I also noticed there was a large police presence. Knowing around every block I could find a blue light or standing police officer eased my nerves.

Before traveling to Mexico I made friends with two others from my tour. We made plans to meet up for dinner. The three of us wandered through the city center and found an amazing Mexican Seafood restaurant called Chuchito Perez Roma. After struggling a bit with the language barriers we managed to order Mojitos, beers and lots of tacos! I sampled duck, chorizo and steak tacos. The food was so fresh and colorful. The waiters were hilarious and very patient with our terrible Spanish.

After dinner we explored the city a little more before heading to the rooftop of our hotel for a night cap.

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Where did I stay?

Best Western Royal Zona

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Where did I eat?

Chuchito Perez Roma

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Drinking around the World

No matter how different every city in the world may be, in each city you can find yourself at home with the comfort of a cool drink and the company of an old friend or some new.

Most cultures have their own traditional alcoholic beverages. When traveling I think sampling local spirits can connect you to the new city.

I enjoy sipping wine in a cafe, tubing with a beer in hand, body shots and posh cock tails. Drinking can be both relaxing or energizing. I become more open to meeting new people, trying new things and communicating. Through my travels a single glass of wine has led to philosophical revelations, beers at a pub led to a new flame and mixers at a club led to leading a street dance party. Drinking has certainly influenced and shaped many of my most cherished memories.

Drinking responsibly has led to a majority of positive experiences. So I have decided to compile a list of my favorite beverages from cities around the world.

Richmond, Virginia USA: Angry Balls

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Angry Balls is my choice drink for camping, tail gates and country line dancing. This is my #MERICA drink. I don’t like beer so my go to pub drink is Hard Apple Cider. The Angry Balls cocktail is a combination of Angry Orchid Cider and Fireball Whiskey. It is spicy, full of flavor and is sure to heat your night up.

Orlando, Florida USA: John Daly

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The best way to cool off in the shade of a Florida palm tree is sipping a traditional Arnold Palmer. An Arnold Palmer is a nonalcoholic mix of Sweet Tea and Lemonade. When you add a splash of vodka the drink becomes a John Daly! This cool and refreshing drink is a deep South staple. Best served in a mason jar.

Waikiki, Hawaii USA: Sex on the Beach

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It was hard to choose just one drink when thinking about Hawaii. Runners up included Bahama Mama, Pina Colada and Blue Hawaiian. All go to staples for tropical vacations. But the ultimate partner for surf and sand is the Sex on the Beach. A mix of vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, and cranberry juice. The bright colors are reminiscent of sunsets over Mauna Kea.

Bangkok, Thailand: Singapore Sling

I was first introduced to the Singapore Sling on the flight from Singapore to Thailand. After traveling for nearly 36 hours I desperately needed some liquid energy so I ordered this pretty pink concoction. I was hooked. I tried Singapore Slings at each bar I went to throughout Thailand. The best one? From a place called Hippie Bar in downtown Bangkok.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Fish Bowl

Big Fish Bowl

Big Fish Bowl

Nothing says fun like a large literal fish bowl full of unknown spirits, blue syrup and cherries! The Fish Bowl style drink is meant to be shared with friends. In my experience you don’t need to purchase your own. Just wander around the bar with your own straw and people will offer you a sample of theirs! Several fish bowls, insane heat and loud music led to me starting a massive dance party on the main bar street in Phnom Penh!

Fish Bowl Induced Street Dance Party

Fish Bowl Induced Street Dance Party

Capri, Italy: Limoncello

Limoncello is a lemon liqueur from Southern Italy. It is bitter, sour and an acquired taste. I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of sucking on Lemonhead sour candies as a kid. The liqueur is severed typically as a shot between and after meals. I had a blast on my tour of Southern Italy because most people in my group didn’t like the flavor, so after each meal they gave me theirs! Shots, Shots, Shots!

Venice, Italy: Bellini

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Probably one of my favorite drinks from my travels is the Peach Bellini. First of all it combines two of my favorite things Prosecco sparkling wine and peach (purée or nectar). Try sipping a Bellini as you float through Venice on a romantic gondola.

Dublin, Ireland: Pear Cider

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When in Ireland I tried Guinness, of course. But I don’t like beer so for most of my trip I stuck to Hard Cider. I tried Pear Cider for the first time in Dublin and got hooked. There’s nothing like a few pints of cider in a dark Irish pub.

London, England: Apple Cider

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Drinking Cider at a graveyard pub

Throughout England I sampled local Hard Ciders whenever possible. It’s interesting to see the variations in color, crispness, and overall taste.

Paris, France: Rosé wine

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Wine tasting

Complex to produce and steeped in tradition Rosé wine is a must have in Paris. Not to sweet and not to dry Rosé wine is perfect to sip in a sunny cafe or take on a garden picnic. I’ve never been able to replicate the Rosé I found in Paris.

Denver, Colorado USA: Moscow Mule

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I first heard about the Moscow Mule from Cosmopolitan Magazine. They suggested that every refined lady should have “Go-To” drink. Something that you can order at a bar and show how refined and classy you are. So I decided my drink of choice would be the Moscow Mule. It’s made from Vodka, Ginger Beer and Lime Juice. Cold, spicy and strong this drink sure stands out in a crowd. The best I’ve had? Came from a restaurant in Denver called The Yard House.

A History of My Libations:

Conclusion: 

You can travel the world and you’ll never sample all, but at least you’ve tasted life. 

LUANG PRABANG TO VANG VIENG

This morning we boarded a coach and headed to Vang Vieng, Laos.

Along the way we stopped for lunch at this amazing restaurant on top of the mountain. The restaurant had spectacular views and pretty good food too!

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Vang Vieng is a stunning riverside town surrounded by mountains, farms and winding rivers. Its a quiet and simple town that is a backpackers heaven.

Where did I stay?

The Elephant Crossing Hotel

Accommodations: Excellent. My favorite place so far. A charming boutique hotel ran by a family and locals. Stunning views and an great restaurant.

Location: Walking distance to everything.

View from our hotel

View from our hotel

A Night to Remember

Tonight my entire group went to locally recommended Kangaroo Sunset Bar. We had dinner and then got the party started! The bar played old school dance music and served heavy-handed cheap drinks! Everyone was buying shots for everyone. We danced on tables, did the macarena, drank more shots, took over the bar and played beer pong. It was a blast. Even a sudden down pour didn’t stop our party.

This is our bar not yours…Chiang Rai

Up early in the morning to head by bus to Chiang Rai “the old city” Thailand.

Where did I stay?

Wangcome Hotel

Accommodations: Very fancy hotel where I didn’t get much sleep because…well alcohol.

Our tour made a surprise pit stop at the Wat Rong Khun (White Temple). This stunning and unique temple is made to represent ascending from hell to heaven. It is truly a spectacle. The architecture, details and figurines all make you feel like you’re in a cartoon or fairy tale. Truly a must see in Northern Thailand.

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Once we reached Chiang Rai we headed further into the mountains to visit the Akah and Yao Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. While the tour was very informative and interesting I did not enjoy being there. I felt like it was a zoo for humans. Everything seemed very staged and forced. I am glad the tribes can support themselves by selling and showing off to tourists but the dances and the souvenirs didn’t really seem authentic to me. I did however enjoy the hike through the jungle to get to the tribes. I loved seeing the countryside with all the water buffalo, chickens and fauna.

Cost:

  • $25
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10518710_10152725623270813_3099025716573680133_n After visiting the Hill Tribes we ventured into the night markets to sample local cuisine. I ordered a Hot Pot. Basically a create your own soup. They bring broth to your table in a clay pot with a heated stone underneath. You add what you want from a plate of selections and you have your own feast. It was very good and very hot! I also sampled some other local delicacies like crickets and worms!

Later we rushed back to the hotel to change for our themed party! The nights theme was “Shit Shirt”. I took a crappy Jack Daniels shirt bought in the market, tore it up and used red sharpey to make it look blood. Other people had tacky shirts, crappy shirts and just plain bad shirts. It was all in good fun. I don’t think many pictures were taken because there was a lot of drinking…but here’s one:

1901123_10152735719115813_606833988707091884_nWe had the tiny TINY bar all to ourselves so I was able to play DJ! We rocked out all night, had lots of cocktails and had a blast. I woke up in the morning not knowing what happened to that Jack Daniels shirt…