Friday, December 30, 2011

Shoe Love: Structured sandals

Burak Uyan sandals

I know. I know. It's the middle of winter. But I snuck in a few minutes on the web to browse the Net-a-Porter sale and got all lusty over these. After being in Florida for two weeks I'm fantasizing about wearing a sandal for New Year's. I love the architectural design of these and can imagine wearing them in any season - especially if I can get away with pairing them with black tights for the colder days. What do you think?

Inspired, I decided to wear a sandal with tights and in real life I'm going to wear these for my New Year's festivities, which are surprisingly comfortable. No joke!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Destination: a year of travels

I'm still in shock that it will be 2012 in only a few short days. This year flew by! Not only was it full of exciting travel destinations - Paris, Florida, Seattle, to name a few - but also unforgettable memories, happy and heartbreaking, and a life changing move from New York City to Washington D.C.

I'm also still in shock that it has been a year since I started writing this blog. It is a project I have wanted to start for a few years now without knowing exactly how to begin or what creative direction to take. I've been saving up journals, scrap notes, and snapping pictures for a long time without a specific path in mind. It has been wonderfully challenging to develop stories from my trips and way to fun coming up with wardrobe inspirations. I have enjoyed exploring wine and food with you and I can't wait to dig deeper into art and art history.

Writing has been a journey too. Having an outlet for my passions has only deepened my drive to pursue them with wreakless abandon.

Thank you for your support and encouraging feedback throughout the year. Every time I hangout with friends and family and someone says, "I read your blog!" my heart feels simultaneously joyful and humbled. 

So for this week's destination, I want to take a trip down memory lane. Here's where we went in 2011:

Hudson River Valley, NY {and again here}
Montauk, NY
New York, NY {we explored NYC a lot...}
Gettysburg, PA
Key West, FL
Sanibel Island, FL
Sarasota, FL
Gainesville, FL
Seattle, WA and Mount Rainier
Paris, France
Dublin, Ireland and Glendalough
The Bahamas
Washington D.C. {and here too}

And my road trip honeymoon with Gman to Boston, Nantucket, Bar Harbor, Lake Willoughby, and of course the legendary camping trip.

I'm already planning more excursions this year and can not wait to share them with you. Gman and I are driving up to Savannah for New Year's so after a bit of Shoe Love tomorrow, I'll be taking a short break to check it out and catch up with friends.

Best New Year's wishes to your and yours!

xoxo Jamie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Weekend Recap: Christmas

Hello my dear readers! 

Are you back to work after celebrating the holidays? Are you still on vacation with family or taking time out to catch up with blogs and news online? In my daily life I'm on the computer for at least 10 hours a day so it has been nice for me {especially my eyes} to take a hiatus. I've been very busy catching up with family and friends this last week. I feel so incredibly blessed to have so many people in my life that love and encourage me.

I normally don't like to get too personal on here, but I feel the holiday season always brings such cheer and such despair for everyone and has especially my family this year. This Christmas has been a difficult one. Although it has been one of the best - I have spent a significant amount of quality time with my aunts, cousins, and friends - there has been one person missing. 

My beloved uncle died this year after struggling with alcoholism. It has been the most difficult loss of my life. There were moments I thought my heart would not stop breaking. Moments I thought I couldn't possibly get through the grief. Every time I would talk to my family it seemed to help and worsen my state of mind. I asked myself, why did this happen? How could this have happened? What was he thinking? Was I not enough? Was life not worth it? I cried every day for at least six months. I wished I could just call him and hear his voice. But then, little by little, day by day, I started to feel more balanced. I could take pleasure in things that used to make me happy. I started to feel inspired by my grief to take life by the reigns and do something meaningful with my time. 

Christmas day was difficult. There were jokes he would have laughed at. Food he would have enjoyed eating. And hugs we wouldn't be getting. It was also a very powerful day. We were there together, all burdened with grief, yet we still laughed at the jokes, still ate the food, and still greeted one another with a hug. We were healing because we were going through it together.

I know being with family can be very difficult during the holidays. They are people you might not spend time with were they not related. There might be severed ties or broken hearts. One thing I have learned over the course of this year is that you never know how much anguish and despair people are carrying with them. It is especially important to be gracious with each this time of year and remember that time does heal all wounds.

Before eating Christmas dinner we toasted to each other, to the meal, to healing relationships, and to the ones not with us. We cried together only for a moment before my sister toasted to Tim Tebow...

PS - If you are also struggling with grief here are a few things that have really helped me so far: reaching out to people I trust and talking to them about it, letting myself cry, being patient with myself, and journalling.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Orla Kiely

Fact: I love weekend bags. Also fact: I've been oogling this one. The playfulness of the cars in so many different colors inspires me to pack up my polka dot bikini, sunglasses, and flip flops and go for a road trip tour of Florida beaches... which I'm sort of doing this week as we travel from family to family up the West coast of Florida. What are you doing for the holidays? Do you travel or does family come visit you? do they stay with you? Can you believe Christmas is only a few days away?!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The High Heeled Traveler's Companion Gift Guide

shave cream, Birds of America, tie, collar stays, scarf, shoes, lather brush, Whiskey book, glasses, weekend bag

I wasn't sure how to start this post, so I'll start by saying - I love men. I've learned a lot from the men in my life which has made me a more well rounded person. My father was good about teaching my sister and I about sports as we grew up, my high school boyfriend taught me about cars, my college boyfriend taught me about music, cigars, whiskey, and men's fashion. Gman has taught me to live in the moment.

In addition to loving men, I love shopping for them. I love their clothes, shoes, accessories and lifestyle accoutrements. My dad is one of my favorite people to shop with. He carefully considers the quality of what he is looking at. He takes pride in his style while having fun with it too.

With Christmas only days away, here is a last minute gift guide for the High Heeled Traveler's companion inspired by the men in my life and Gman's closet {As he said when he reviewed this for me, "hey! that's all my stuff!"}.

A rugged weekend bag will be suitable for all your holiday travels as well as for those romantic weekend get-a-ways. He could use this year round too, which makes it a practical gift, and what man can say no to practicality?

A wool tie and scarf will spruce up his winter wardrobe.

Gman loves his leather converse. They remind him of his glory years without being childish. They are also uber versatile and he wears them almost everyday and on vacations.

Treat your companion to a touch of luxury with this shave brush and cream.

I had these Tiffany's collar stays engraved with Gman's initials one year and he wears them everyday. Women aren't the only ones who appreciate that little blue box, you know.

If the man in your life has always been curious about scotch or whiskey, give him this guide and glasses to get him started.

A classic coffee table book is also nice for the man who takes pride in his home. Audubon's Birds of America is a favorite of ours. One of the original elephant folio (huge size) copies sold at Sotheby's last year for $11.5 million(!).

If you are still at a loss, try a subscription to National Geographic to inspire you both to take your next trip. Tickets to a sports game or concert never go un-appreciated in our house either.

Now get shopping! I've got to go - there's a lounge chair by the pool calling my name...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shoe Love: winter bootie

Walter Steiger booties

I'm always looking for a heel I can wear out to dinner or to a party during the winter. My feet seem to be perpetually freezing in pumps or flats and it's not my first choice to wear goulashes to dinner. These booties would do just fine!

Guess what? I'm traveling this weekend! Surprised? We are off to Florida for the holidays to visit our parents. And then a little Savannah action for New Year's. I'm planning on writing while away, but if you don't hear from me, assume in on a boat drinking Coronas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wardrobe: New York City for The Holidays

Shirt, sweater, scarf, gloves, bag, boots, lipstick, jeans, coat

New York City can get pretty cold in the winter, so bundle up on this trip! I have this Patagonia coat and am totally in love with it. It has two layers that you can separate or combine for different levels of warmth. It's waterproof, windproof, and snowproof. I always feel comfortable when I wear it, even when it's 17 degrees outside!

I am all lusty for that fur scarf too. Mom and Dad, it's on the list!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Destination: Christmas in New York City


There is something magical about New York City during the holiday season. The buildings are decorated with thousands of tiny lights, the sidewalks are lined with Christmas tree vendors, and delicate snow falls on the streets, cars, and people. I like to count the days of Chanukah by checking the windows in all of my neighborhood stores because as the days of Chanukah pass the holiday spirit grows.

Since there is so much to experience over the holidays in NYC so I put together a little guide for you. If you ever get the opportunity to be in New York in December, I urge you not to miss the chance.

Christmas in New York City guide:

Drinks at Rolfs: This place is one of my girlfriend’s all time favorites. The entire restaurant is decorated like the inside of a Christmas tree. If this doesn’t get you in the festive spirit, nothing will.

Rockettes {Christmas Spectacular} at Radio City Music Hall: They do the same show every year and some families never miss it. It was a good mix story lines, kick lines, and 3D glasses. Gman and I went because we got free tickets, but if you have small children this is something they will truly enjoy.

Roasted chestnuts from a street vendor: Just eat some.

Chinese food for Christmas Day dinner: Just like the classic movie, A Christmas Story, having Christmas dinner in Chinatown is very popular in NYC. It’s the only bustling place in the city on Christmas Day, reservations are recommended. Try the specialty duck dinner at Peking Duck House. It includes the whole animal, just like the movie.

Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Even if you aren’t religious this is a worthwhile, soul touching experience. But there is a waiting list to attend midnight mass, so start checking in July for instructions.

Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center: I try to avoid crowds at all costs, especially the type of crowd you might imagine was at a Justin Bieber concert, but you have to see it once. It might be bigger than the National tree in D.C. and all of the lights are really impressive.

Holiday shopping in Union Square: Pick up presents for your loved ones from NYC artists and artisans.

Ice Skating in Central Park: Of all the ice skating choices, this is the best one – being in the park feels more romantic. Plus, I feel like I’m being watching in a fish bowl at Rockefeller Center.

Dress up for a throwback cocktail at the Campbell Apartment: This little hide-a-way in Grand Central Station is one of my favorite secret spots. The apartment used to be the private office for John W. Campbell back in the 1920s. It fell into disrepair and then was boarded up. It was rediscovered recently, in the 90s or 2000s so it remains a secluded oasis.

Don’t forget to check out the windows at Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s, Bloomingdales and Saks {and 5th Avenue in general}. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do during the holidays. They are so well designed and really innovative, especially at Barney’s. Last year the windows were Andy Warhol themed.

the Campbell Apartment

our tree!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Recap: I wore a hat and other winter activities

Last week it finally started to feel like winter around here. The air is crisp and the smell of burning fireplaces lingers everywhere we go. Gman and I took advantage of the beautiful weather, however chilly, and finished up our Christmas shopping. Then went to my company's holiday party, which I helped plan. It was a huge success and I couldn't help but celebrate late into the night. Champagne and dancing were involved.

As per usual, we went to the farmer's market on Sunday and again, beautiful weather. I can't get over it! I just want to stand around in the sun with my coat on soaking it in. Later, while listening to Christmas songs, I printed out our holiday cards which we send to all of our friends and family. Each year I design the cards, write the story of our yearly adventures through the perspective of our suitcase, then print them out, mail them, etc. I love reflecting on a year's worth of activity and boiling it down to the most memorable experiences. Do you send out holiday cards? I've heard a lot of amazing things about Pinhole Press.

And the hat you ask? I don't normally consider myself a hat person. I never know what I'm supposed to wear with a hat or if my hair should be clean or dirty or if I take it off indoors. Winter weather is a great excuse to experiment. So I eagerly dusted off my cashmere beret and Gman quickly reminded me that it would not keep me warm if I were lost in the wilderness or if it was 19 degrees outside...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shoe Love: Prada

Prada via Neiman Marcus

This weekend is going to be jam packed with gallery openings, holiday parties, and finishing up Christmas shopping. It also finally got FREEZING cold outside. Hello, winter. So I've been thinking more about boots as a shoe to get me through it all and to keep my toes warm.

These Prada Mardas style ones would do the trick. The texture is reminiscent of slippers one might wear in Palm Beach in the summer but the boot doesn't feel out of place in this 30 degree weather. It makes them playful instead. I would love to wear these with a cape and festive scarf to get through all my errands (and parties!) this weekend!

Exploring wine: Garnacha

Let's start this Friday off right and explore some wine!

Las Rocas, Granacha, 2008, $9.99
My rating for this bottle? I would drink the whole thing.

I never heard of this grape before but we decided to try it for two reasons 1) this blog series and 2) it was on sale for $9.99 at Whole Foods.

Granacha is traditionally grown in Spain and areas with hot, dry conditions, like those in other Mediterranean countries, Australia, California and Washington. It is also traditionally used to blend with other grapes as it has high levels of sugar and alcohol without being too tannic. Reading about it started to turn me off because it seemed like it couldn't stand up on its own as a varietal grape but we openned the bottle and tried a sip.

We were immediately struck by the flavor of  cherries and other berry-type fruits, but then the kicker, something I hadn't really tasted in wine before, black pepper. Yes, that's right, black pepper. It lingered slightly while the fruity flavors moved on. Gman and I both really enjoyed drinking this spicy wine and tried with pastas, sandwiches, and even chocolate (Oreos...).

As soon as we finished it we ran back to Whole Foods to grab at least 4 more bottles... for hostess gifts, you know?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I Wore: Dublin {and Glendalough}

This is what I wore in Dublin, and one of Gman's favorite pictures of me {"in my element" as he likes to say}. It's pretty typical of my travel and cold weather attire. I wore those mocs until the bottoms fell out. And now they are in line to be taken to the cobbler so I can wear them again. Same case with that bag. I wore it every single day for almost 4 years and the handle finally gave out a few months ago. What can I say, I'm a creature of habit. If I like something I really stick with it.

In this picture, I'm reading an Irish fashion magazine. I like to try and pick up a local magazine on each of my travels. Its like a snapshot of a places' priorities and style. I like to gawk at the fashion and laugh about the local gossip. Sometimes you will see the same topics covered in American news and it's fun to compare the journalistic styles and opinions. Later when I'm home, I keep the magazines {which double as side tables} and look through them from time to time to remind me of my travels.

PS - I'm wearing a soccer {futbol/football} scarf around my neck. There was a big match that day, had to fit in and root for the home team!

Wardrobe: Dublin and Glendalough

necklace, jeans, jacket, umbrella, wellies, top, bag

While Gman and I were in Ireland it was cold and rainy. We went in March and got the impression from the people we talked to that this type of weather was pretty normal for most of the year. Dressing for the rain, especially when living out of a tiny suitcase, can be challenging. But it's important because having wet feet and trying to tour a city is no fun {blisters and whining abound!}.

I recommend a leather jacket and some wellies to stay warm and dry. As you know, I love my Hunters but I was recently introduced to this company, Joules, through numerous blogs. I love the feminine details on their rain boots, like these flowers. Wellies would have been perfect for our trek out to Glendalough too - that peet moss is muddy and would ruin most shoes {I wore some like this}.

Dublin is a casual city so this look could easily go from running around all day to listening to live music at a pub in the evening. Generally speaking, I like to add bits of ladylike elements to my rainy day look - the rain makes me feel flustered and frumpy. Well, except for the one rainy night in Paris...

What about you, how do you dress for the rain? Do you find it frustrating or exciting when your travel destination is rainy?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Destination: Glendalough, Ireland

This week I wanted to journey back to Ireland after getting distracted by out-of-town guests, going to The Bahamas and Thanksgiving.
While Gman and I were in Dublin we decided to take a day trip out to the countryside. The receptionist/concierge at our hotel, TheKingfisher Restaurant and Townhouse (Gman’s parents go to Dublin often and always stay here, it’s really lovely), recommended we take the Over The Top tour of Wicklow and Glendalough. It picked us up in the wee hours of the morning and took us out and back in the same day. As we left the city center of Dublin and drove into the suburbs there was a subtle transition into the working class neighborhoods. The architecture didn’t change, nor did the density of people. The homes kept their simple, clean lines and were packed in right next to each other, only now they had tiny gardens.

People were going about their everyday errands, grocery shopping, filling up at the gas station, waiting in traffic, tiding up the lawn, and gossiping on street corners. But what changed was the air. It was harsher, colder, and wetter. Low lying fog swept in and slithered across the peat moss as we drove further into the countryside.  Deep rolling mountains had only patches of dense forest. I imaged all the battles fought on those grounds. Our tour guide was good at telling us about significant events while also letting us quietly look out the windows and take it all in. Gman and I agreed that this was the Ireland of our imaginations.
Before arriving to the main attraction we drove up to a few vistas to snap some pictures. We saw herds of sheep scaling the steep slopes on the side of the road and little towns nestled in valleys. We stopped in one of those towns to grab a quick bowl of Guinness Stew. The restaurant we stopped in was not just for tourists; many people were there on their lunch break. I thought they would have been slightly impatient with our presence, as I’m always in a hurry for lunch, but they were kind and even pointed out the best desserts without eye rolls or long sighs.

Over time, Glendalough has absorbed a lot of Ireland’s history; from its founding as a monastery in the Middle Ages by St. Kevin, through times of religious and political strife, and nearly becoming obsolete. Since the 19th century it has been partly restored and is a destination for domestic and international tourists alike, including historians and outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby lakes provide great hiking and water activities for all ages and abilities. It was raining while we were there so we didn’t venture too far from the bus. The ruins were impressive and haunting. I felt as if all the events of the past soaked into the ground and lingered in the air. We were forced to participate in hokey tourist rituals, such as rubbing a good luck stone, which despite my annoyance towards them, were actually fun.
Just as we jumped back into the van it started pouring rain and I napped (I’m a sucker for car rides). Back in Dublin, freshly intoxicated with the nostalgia of a past we never experienced, we ended the day in some pub, drinking some local brew, pretending that we lived there. Someday, maybe, someday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

High Heeled Traveler's Holiday Gift Guide

Pendleton bag, ipad, leopard flats, globe, scarf, cutting board, bangle, The Art Book, blouse, cork screw

I spent the weekend shopping for Christmas presents - for myself and others. I have this horrible habit of buying one thing for a friend and one thing for myself. By actually taking the time to shop I discover so many little treasures - it's so hard to resist! Shopping for the holidays is one of my favorite traditions. I love picking out gifts for my loved ones and I love making a list of things I need, want, or dream about. And as much as I information gather throughout the year I don't compile a list of desirable goodies until Thanksgiving.

This year we are traveling for much of December (surprise!) so I've got my eye on a few items that would make my holiday voyage more pleasurable as well as gift ideas for the home and for all those holiday parties. So here are my top gift pics for the High Heeled Traveler (mom and dad I hope you're reading).

We'll start with my fantasy presents...

A frequent traveler is always in need of a weekend bag. I love the stolen-from-the-boys plaid on this Pendleton one.

If you are in a super generous mood this holiday season, an ipad is great for filling with magazines, books, and browsing blogs online, plus, you can download your favorite travel apps, games, manage your itinerary, and take pictures all with one lightweight tablet. Hooray for lighter luggage (or room for more shoes?)!

I've had my eye on these leopard ballet flats for a while now. As much as I like to wear heels for everything, flats are great for quickly navigating the airport, a new city, or driving an unfamiliar rental car (does anyone else I know like to drive barefoot?).

I know, I know. A globe seems like such a typical gift for a traveler. How passe. BUT I don't have one and I would love to decorate our apartment with antique maps and globes. I always thought it would be fun to have a map/globe with pins marking where you've been and where you want to go.

Gifts for the traveling hostess...

It sounds crazy but I carry a bottle opener when I travel (in my checked luggage) (... who am I kidding, I have one in my purse now too). You never know when you might partake in an impromptu picnic and I've been a helpful guest at many a party.

I found these fabulous state shaped cutting boards on Etsy by A.Heirloom. Most are priced under $45 and would be a more thoughtful gift than a bottle of wine.

A cozy scarf or brightly colored bangle will certainly keep you warm and stylish at any destination. And a silk blouse is a must. You can wear it in any city, countryside, in any temperature, day or night.

Last but not least, The Art Book. Gman bought this for me for our first Christmas and I have found it to be quite handy ever since. It lists artists and art movements alphabetically for quick and easy reference. I like to refresh my memory before heading out to an art museum or gallery. It also looks nice on the coffee table and guests often check it out at parties.

I hope this is helpful to you for your holiday shopping! I know my cart is already full...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Shoe Love: Tis the Season

Well I don't know about you, but I can't believe it's already December 2nd! This week was super long - full of hard work, evening commitments and decorating our apartment for the holidays. One of my personal traditions I look forward to each year is putting on my makeup in the morning by the glowing light of our Christmas tree. Gman likes to drink eggnog and make his present wish list. Do you have a little personal tradition?

I bought these Zara pumps about a month ago and am looking forward to wearing them with all my holiday dresses to parties and happy hours (and maybe just to run errends with a holiday sweater?). They remind me of the YSL Tribute Sandal, but for only $60 (score!).

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wardrobe: What I Wore

As soon as I heard "wedding cruise to the Bahamas" I knew I wanted to wear a silky Caftan dress. Nothing says "Caribbean vacation/wedding" like a dolman sleeve and loose waist (except a cocktail with an umbrella in it). I found this one on sale at the end of the summer and paired it with the creamy clutch I carried around at my own wedding and some of my old go-to open toe pumps. The colors of this dress blended with the ocean too!

For a moment, I considered wearing a belt with this dress but a belt didn't work with the free-spirited vibe of our trip. Plus, that cake starring at me in the background told me to leave the belt at home.

Wardrobe: Caribbean Cruise

dress, top, bottoms, sunglasses, sandals, bag, bracelet
A cover-up that doubles as a day dress and multi-functional sandals were perfect for relaxing at the pool and touring the city. Don't be afraid to have fun with your wardrobe for this trip, a cruise is the time to sass it up!

My over sized straw bag was perfect for throwing in a towel and sunscreen or picking up some souvenirs. I didn't realize it at the time, but apparently The Bahamas are known for their straw goodies and some of the vendors interrogated me about my bag. One complimented me on the quality and asked who made it, assuming his competition was to blame. It was made in Morocco.

PS - I wore this cover-up and this dress for dinner. I don't normally buy Victoria's Secret because no matter what it is you can bet a push-up bra is built in. However, my sister swears by their swim suits so I gave it a go. I was happy with my purchases and found the quality of the swim suit to be much nicer than their bras and panties.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Destination: Cruise to the Bahamas

Is there a bell ringing? Is it an alarm? Am I dreaming? Am I still drunk? Who’s in bed with me? I realized I was awake when the bells stopped and a man’s voice came over the speakers. He said slowly, in a saddened tone, "Ladies and gentlemen this is your captain speaking. The worst possible scenario has happened." What could it be? Later we shared our speculations over Bloody Mary’s at the pool. “Is it the zombie apocalypse?” “Is the ship sinking?” “Pirates?!” “We’re out of booze?!” No. No. He continued, “Due to over 8 foot ocean swells and over 30 miles per hour winds, our trip to Cococay will be postponed indefinitely and we will instead go straight to Nassau where we will stay until 4:30pm tomorrow as scheduled.” So the worst possible scenario is that we go to another Caribbean island in the same day? We have to lay at the pool all day nursing hangovers in the sun? Tragic.

I arrived in Miami Thursday night and headed to the bride's mother's house where some of my girlfriends and roommates from college were having a sleepover the night before our best friend’s wedding – which happened to be on a cruise to the Bahamas.

Thursday night started as a giggle fest then slowly devolved into a snoring competition {between the men, of course}. We got little sleep but the adrenalin of being together and going to Natalie’s wedding veiled our exhaustion on Friday morning.

As we got through security, checked-in and found the wedding spot, more and more of my friends started gathering. People I haven’t seen in years were piling in. This was going to be an epic weekend, I thought, as I toasted to myself while Natalie and her beloved exchanged vows. Their ceremony was simple, elegant, and touching. But in the background, the cheeky, Vegas vibe of our tiny cruise ship lingered. It was waiting for the right moment to break free and start a weekend of sun bathing and debauchery.

Its moment came when the ship’s photographer wanted a group shot of everyone attending the wedding. He happened to be “British” {sounded like Australian} and slipped when attempting to stand on a platform to snap the picture. He embarrassingly said, “The boat must be moving,” as he tried to regain his footing. Then someone shouted, “This boat’s a bangin’ mate,” in the worst possible accent that was neither British nor Australian. The poor man was horrified but every single person, family and friend, was laughing uncontrollably. Yes, epic indeed.

The rest of the night was spent re-establishing those bonds from the good ol’ days and meeting new friends. Our dinner table {best table ever!} consisted of two set of male college roommates, Brandy {my roomie/wife on the cruise} and me, along with two of the guys' girlfriends. The two guys who had girlfriends were roommates in college, and both ended up proposing on the same day! We then considered this the Love Boat and demanded a double wedding cruise on 12/12/12, as this one was on 11/11/11.

Once we arrived in Nassau, after we were suddenly woken up Saturday to the captain’s call, which was after drinking Bahama Mamas into the wee hours of the morning, we decided to go ashore to do a bit of exploring before cocktail hour.

Brandy and I, along with Kate {college roomie} and her beau explored the Straw Market and got a cheap(ish) beer at a dive-y bar. My impression of Nassau left me with a sad image of poverty, the remnants of colonialism, and a desperate people that were catering to tourists who wanted this “oasis” to be something it wasn’t. Everything seemed dirty and staged. Conches supposedly freshly harvested from the sea were for sale. Straw bags with Dora the Explorer or Little Mermaid motifs were abundantly available. I’m sure those were traditional designs… Only a few blocks past the touristy section were rows of boarded up homes with only a few people wandering the desolate streets.

On the other side of the main bridge was the utopian monstrosity Atlantis. On Sunday, I separated from most of the group and spent way too much money to visit for the day just to explore it. The hotel is admittedly impressive. Every detail was considered to create a magical world of the re-discovered lost city of Atlantis. There was even an aquarium incorporated into the building as well as a casino, luxury shopping, a dolphin encounter, rides, pools for children, adults, and everything in between. The beach was pristinely manicured but sadly unavailable to us during our visit due to the 8 foot swells. As the sky turned cloudy, I felt stupid for going to this fake feel-good resort.

Usually when I travel it’s for the destination. I want to see what a new city has to offer. I want to see how people live, or what they like to eat. I want to try on a new lifestyle or find a slower pace for a few days. But this destination was sad and the people inaccessible. The cruise itself had mediocre food catered to the tasteless masses, the staff was generally rude, and our room was impossibly small {even for this city girl!}.

I realized in a moment of quiet, sitting on a shady pool chair, listening to the faint sounds of a DJ playing Pit Bull, that this trip was absolutely not about the destination. It wasn’t about the cruise or Nassau, or even the elusive Cococay. It was about who I was with. The destination was the romantic nuptials of our dearest friends. The destination was a re-union of friendships with people who make my stomach and cheeks hurt from laughing. It was about being with people who know my soul without me having to explain myself.

I remember being on the dance floor; happy again to be with the larger group. I didn’t recognize the song, but it asked me to shake my booty so I complied. We started with Bahama Mamas at the private cocktail hour, then wine and champagne at dinner, where we ordered one of everything on the menu. More mixed drinks were consumed at the piano bar, where I vaguely remember Brandy sauntering over to sit in my lap while everyone sung along to the piano versions of our staple college drinking songs. I spilled my drink. No matter, I kept dancing, laughing, and carrying on. Someone jumped into the pool and we toasted over Lemon Drop shots to the health and happiness of Natalie and Dan.

This post is dedicated to you, my friends. Thank you for the famously good times. I love you and miss you already! Cheers!

photo courtesy of Brandy

photo courtesy of Brandy

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend Recap: Thanksgiving

This weekend was nice and long - two days off for the Thanksgiving holiday. My parents and sister came to town (as they often do) so that I can host and cook for them. I managed to spend 5 hours cooking up a storm and doing it all dairy-free. Dinner started with butternut squash soup, followed by the traditional meal: turkey, cranberry sauce with orange zest and a touch of Grand Marnier, brussel sprouts with bacon and apples, corn bread, and sausage brioche dressing. We barely saved room for apple pie and vanilla ice cream!

Friday and Sunday we explored the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and the Air and Space Museum. I'll share those with you in the following posts.

Did you enjoy your time off? Did you spend it with family and friends? Did you travel or stay home?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...