South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge.

There’s lots to see in the city that never sleeps, but one of my favorite areas is South Street Seaport. Not only does it feel miles away from Mid-Town, but it also seems to take you a step back in … Continue reading

Lunch at The Culinary Institute of America.

Now, that summer has officially arrived, I have more time to do some exploring close to home. Today, after finishing up my classroom at school, I wasted no time and headed upstate to Poughkeepsie, New York. I had an appointment to get fitted for a bridesmaid dress for my cousin’s wedding, but I dragged my Mom along with me, and she suggested that we have lunch at The Culinary Institute of America. Even though she had been there before, I was excited to experience the school for the first time. Immediately, it exceeded my expectations. Just an hour and a half north of New York City, the campus, which is set on the Hudson River, feels a million miles away.

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Fears Faced in the Middle of Nowhere.

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I went hiking on the Hudson River in Upstate New York, and I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t wait for the chance to hike again, and as soon as we realized we had a free Saturday, we jumped at the opportunity.

This time, we headed to Palisades Interstate Park, an area that goes along the border of New York and New Jersey. Here, the trails run along cliffs that drop down to the Hudson River, with views of Manhattan and Weschester, including both the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges.

Enjoying the view pre-hike.

Enjoying the view pre-hike.

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Hiking on the Hudson.

Hiking hasn’t always been an activity I’ve been open to trying, in fact, like golf, I blindly figured that it would be boring and was unwilling to give it a try. However, like all things in 2012, I have decided to push aside preconceived notions about different activities. And through this, I’ve learned that I have been holding myself back by deciding that anything was boring before actually giving it a shot.

Not a fan of hiking or nature trails in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Not a fan of hiking or nature trails in Bar Harbor, Maine.

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The High Line, NYC.

The High Line in Manhattan is one of my favorite parks in the world, and this weekend, I was lucky enough to visit it twice, both times taking people who’ve never been before. This above ground park is built into a historic freight rail line and runs up along the West Side of Manhattan from Gansevoort Street, in the Meatpacking District, up to West 30th Street.

Train Tracks and Plants.

Train Tracks and Plants.

It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon walking along the Hudson River or lounging on the lawn absorbing some vitamin D. Whatever your plans, there’s plenty to do above the city, with several food vendors and much to see, including several pieces of artwork. Plus, it’s always great to get a different perspective on the city, especially if you need a break from the hustle and bustle that much of New York offers.
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Wandering the West Village.

Growing up just outside of New York City, I have been blessed with having the world at my fingertips. My parents, who grew up in the City, would constantly bring us in for events or shows, or just because. In high school, I would make my way into the city with friends for nights out or days exploring. So, it made perfect sense that it is also where I would attend college. Years later, it is still a place that I am deeply in love with.

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Facing My Fears on Ice.

Many years ago, my favorite college professor told my class that great things can only be accomplished once we were able to go outside of our comfort zone into what he called the courage zone. This courage zone was a place where fears were faced and risks were taken. It was a place where true growth could occur.

Even though I was young at the time, I could only imagine myself living a life where I was in the courage zone, not sitting on the sidelines watching life go by. The years after college didn’t pan out as I had expected, and there were many interruptions in my plans to live life the way I had thought I would. But, over the past three years, that attitude from sophomore year of college has come back, and I finally have been able to challenge myself more. Now I can honestly say that I live more of my life in the courage zone than in my comfort zone. And, most of that has been done thanks to travel.

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Jersey Shore: Travel Lessons to be Learned.

Picture from mtv.com

I know, what could one possibly learn from a reality show like Jersey Shore? The answer: not much, really. However, with this season in Florence, Italy, I actually found that it could be quite enlightening for travelers, especially someone who is new to international travel. Which is why, I’ve complied a list with some travel tips that can be learned through watching the first two episodes of this season.
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Leaving Vietnam

I’m sitting in the airport drinking a coffee and waiting to fly back to Bangkok. From there, tomorrow morning, I will catch a plane to Hong Kong and then onto New York.

I don’t know what to say about this country. It has continued to surprise me over the time that I have been here, and while initially intimidating, this country and it’s people have so much to offer. Once you break past the surface, it’s hard not to fall in love with Vietnam.

HCMC Rush Hour

I think back to my first day here. I was completely overwhelmed; we all were. We vowed not to cross the street after seeing the massive amounts of motorbikes.  We were fearful when people would approach us.
I refused to tell anyone I was American. And, we were terrified of being robbed.

After a few days, and some time away from HCMC, we began to realize what a wonderful place this really was. We learned how to cross the road with ease and it became second nature.  We made friends with the locals at bars in Nha Trang at the Sailing Club. We began talking to the people who worked in the shops, discussing everyday things, like jobs and boyfriends. I began telling people that I was American and enjoyed the positive response I received. And, instead of being terrified, we stayed aware of our surroundings and were always cautious with our belongings.

We stopped worrying, and we started to enjoy where we were. We began to appreciate the people and their stories, the quirky way that things worked here, and the scenery and daily occurrences that can’t be described.

To be honest, there are no real words that do this country justice and no pictures that can tell it all. Vietnam is a country that must be seen to be understood, and it is a place that I think everyone needs to take a trip to. It’s truly life changing.

Both pictures were taken by my cousin Michelle.