If you’ve read my post about Travel Plans and Dreams for 2015, you’ll know that I’m on a mission to complete the ‘Take 12 Trips Challenge’ this year, with the goal of exploring at least one new place, near or far, each month. Along with the challenge, I’ve decided to start a monthly round-up of suitcase stories: what’s been happening on (and off) the blog for the past few weeks. So without further ado, welcome to July on Stories My Suitcase Could Tell…
The Gypsy Circle launch party at Chelsea’s Hotel Americano. Gypsy Circle is a new social travel network, an app that allows you to ‘arrive connected’ in a new destination, seeing which friends (and friends of friends) are going to be in that city or far-flung country at the same time as you. The launch took place at the very chic Hotel Americano, where food, drink, and good conversation flowed freely – it’s always fun to chat to fellow travel addicts!
Celebrating the 4th of July in Pennsylvania. To celebrate Independence Day (a rather ironic celebration for a British expat in America), my husband and I headed for central Pennsylvania to spend time with family. Although we were rained out of an evening at the drive-in, we made up for it with plenty of food, some thrift store shopping in Lancaster, and a brisk walk along Yellow Breeches Creek. In other words, it was a lovely relaxing weekend in great company!
A long weekend in the Windy City (aka Chicago). I love spending time in Chicago, because I get to explore a lovely city and catch up with friends and family at the same time. While most of our mini holiday was spent eating (more on that in an upcoming blog post!), we also biked along the shore of Lake Michigan and admired some beautiful (and some very weird) art at Chicago’s Art Institute.
Playing tourist in NYC with my brother. I hadn’t seen my wee brother since my wedding at the start of this year, when the weather was so unbearably cold that sightseeing – or even going outside – was almost impossible. His visit this month coincided with the thermometer reaching upwards of 30 degrees Celsius, so we’ve been making the most of the sunshine, and our time together, by fitting in as much outdoor fun as possible. Cue walks in Central Park and across the Brooklyn Bridge, sunset viewings from the Top of the Rock, and a day of childlike adventure at Coney Island.
What Does Off the Beaten Path Really Mean? Legal Nomads. Jodi Ettenberg has been travelling the world in search of food for seven years now, but in this post she looks at how connections and unexpected experiences can happen closer to home too, often when we least expect it – in this case, in a cramped subway car in New York City. It’s a wee bit of encouragement to be open to new experiences, whether we’re close to home or further afield.
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain. The Paris Wife is one of those rare books that you forget are books, one of those books that make you feel as if you are living alongside the characters – that at times make you feel as if you are the characters. Told from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, the novel covers their early years of marriage and life in Paris during the roaring Twenties, where they mingled with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. It’s a beautiful book, one that transported me not just to Paris, but to a different era altogether.
A review of Americanah, Mel Had Tea. People are probably fed up of hearing me rave about the merits of this novel, but it really is worth all the praise. My friend and fellow writer Mel (who I met at the WITS Summit in Boston earlier this year) recently read Chimamanda’s novel as part of her effort to read a book a week this year, and I loved her take on it. “You should just read this book. If you are alive, you’ll benefit from it. Read it.” I couldn’t have put it better myself!
EATING AND DRINKING
Squid ink fettuccine and stuffed zucchini flowers, from the home kitchen of a local Chicago chef. Almost our entire time in Chicago was focused on eating. However, the standout meal of our stay wasn’t from a restaurant (although those were delicious), but from the kitchen of our hosts. Made with fresh ingredients from the Logan Square farmer’s market and enjoyed alfresco on the apartment balcony, it was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a long time. Who knew flowers stuffed with cheese and sardines could be so tasty?
Cult hot dogs at Crif Dogs in New York’s East Village. Crif Dogs, a pokey hole-in-the-wall style restaurant – and I use that term loosely – is something of a New York City institution. After taking in the spectacular sights of the city from the Top of the Rock, we made our way to St Mark’s Place for a feast of strangely topped hot dogs and tater tots. My choices? A chili dog (a hot dog topped with mustard, onions, and a secret chilli sauce), and a Tsuanmi, a hot dog wrapped in bacon and slathered in teriyaki sauce, spring onions, and pineapple. Delicious.
Half a suitcase of proper British chocolate. The arrival of my brother from Scotland also meant the arrival of half a suitcase of Cadbury’s chocolate (plus home baking from one of my best friends). Without a doubt, this is the way to a British expat’s heart! I may have been tempted to devour it all at once, but knowing the lack of readily available Dairy Milks, I’m (so far) doing a good job of rationing the chocolatey goodness.
So there you have it: July on Stories My Suitcase Could Tell! What have you been up to this month?