Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Buenos Aires so far...

Hello friends in the US! Of course I couldn't stay away from a computer and Internet as much as I'd hoped to disconnect during this trip... It definitely makes it easier having free wifi in the apartment we're staying in, and since my family is still tired from traveling (hence why I got here two days earlier) I'm sneaking onto Mom's computer to catch up on life.

So Buenos Aires has been amazing so far, spent the first two days exploring on my own/hanging with my brother and his study abroad group. Although his program is really different than mine (his was 14 kids and they all lived with host families, mine was 60 of us and we all lived in the same apartment building) it makes me really miss my study abroad "family" from Verona.

The area we're staying in is called Palermo, which is definitely walkable and for the most part safe to roam around and explore. The first day I just checked out the markets and shops around my hostel and then met little bro and friends for drinks after. The exchange rate definitely works in our favor, and I'm glad I left lots of room in my suitcase to bring back the clothes and jewelry I have bought/still plan on buying :)

Sunday we went to San Telmo, another part of town that has a super cool market/antique shopping area that I'd heard all about from friends and guidebooks alike. First order of business was to snag seats for the Argentina vs. Mexico soccer game (just like tailgating in the US - need to get there a good 4 hours before the game to get seats!) but once we had staked out our territory in the bar, we wandered around the market a bit and did some shopping (pics to come when I'm back in NYC and have access to my camera cord). Considering the game was literally the first soccer game I've watched during the World Cup from start to finish, it was a blast. I'm not a huge soccer fan to begin with, but as I discovered recently after watching about 30 minutes and having a few drinks I will become a fan of any sport (basketball included, which I really didn't think was possible). So for those of you who don't care about the World Cup now that the US is out of it, Argentina won 3-1 and of course insanity ensued in the city. They were lighting off fireworks, everyone was honking horns and hanging out of car windows waving flags. And I thought Athens was crazy after UGA wins a football game...

Mom and Dad got here yesterday so we're all in an apartment on the other side of Palermo. I'd been saving the super-touristy activities for once they arrived, so the next few days will be jam-packed with sightseeing. The highlight on the itinerary so far is the Tango show we're going to tonight, cannot wait! Aaand everyone's starting to wake up, guess I should get off the computer and get started with the day :) xo

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Argentina Here I Come!

So a year into this whole "having a grown up job" thing I'm finally taking a real vacation! I can't even remember the last time I traveled to somewhere I haven't been before... it honestly may be my study abroad program between sophomore and junior years of college! The last big I trip took was to Barcelona with my family two years ago, but I'd already visited Barcelona when I was studying in Italy a few summers prior... so while it was fun to have more time to explore the city (somehow on study abroad we did more sangria drinking and less cultural activities), I cannot wait to go somewhere completely new.

And that brings me to my trip on Friday! I'm meeting my family in Buenos Aires, Argentina where my younger brother is studying for part of the summer. Usually when I take trips I tend to let other people do the planning - whether it's the group of friends I'm traveling with or my parents or if it's a work trip, I usually just go with the flow... This trip is different.

First of all, I'll be alone for the first two days - Mom and Dad arrive on Monday, and baby bro is traveling/in class when I first get there. Since I can only take so many days off work, I figured I should take advantage of the weekend so I can soak up as much of the city as possible. Little bro tells me it's a grid/"just like New York" so I should have no trouble getting around on my own... although I have a feeling the fact that I speak not a single word of Spanish may be a tiny hindrance.

Second of all, I'm now lucky enough to have some fantastic contacts at top travel magazines and web sites (not to mention some very well traveled friends) so I've managed to compile the ultimate to-do list for my visit. I literally have a file with pages of notes, scanned articles and recommendations from some of my favorite editors so I can check everything off as I go!

Not sure how many time I'll get to check in and access the internet, planning to try to disconnect a bit but I'll be back next weekend full of fabulous stories! Until then...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Beach is That Way

Growing up in Florida, I was definitely spoiled having the beach a 5 minute drive away and a sailboat in my backyard. I'll admit I had a bit of separation anxiety leaving the beach in Florida when I moved to Athens, GA and I still whine constantly about the weather and lack of good beaches in NYC (I guess you can't have it all).

Although I don't think I'll ever get used to an hour train ride and paying to go on the public beach, yesterday I discovered that good beaches aren't as impossible to get to as I thought.

Not bad for a day trip! Now that we've ventured to Long Beach, we have the rest of the summer to discover new beach spots...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Limelight... a month ago

Whoops. Usually I'm better about posting about new NYC discoveries, but this one is way overdue. After reading this New York Mag article, I was intrigued to go check out the new Limelight Marketplace that opened a few months ago. I can't decide if I was more excited to check out the fun shops and restaurants or walk around imagining what this place may have been like when it was a crazy 80s club, but it was fun to do a combination of both.

From the outside, the Limelight still looks like an old church. In fact, from the inside certain parts still resemble a church - I love that they kept the stained glass and arching ceiling structures.

While we didn't buy anything, it definitely was a fun place to wander around and explore for an afternoon - and close to home on 20th and 6th! In addition to the shops, there's a cute little market, Cupcake Stop (our favorite), a gelato shop and more. AND there will be a Grimaldi's/maybe already is - it was supposed to open in May when the whole mall opened but apparently has been delayed to who knows when. It wasn't open when we visited, but I'm excited to go back and check it out. Since I still have yet to eat at the Grimaldi's in Brooklyn (boo for epic lines and not enough time), I'm pretty excited to try the place - despite what everyone says about the best part being walking over the bridge to get there. I've already done the walking over the bridge part, now I just want to try the pizza :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Super Swarm

Of course I haven't had time to post since I've been back from LA... back to NY, back to hectic reality. Can't really complain though, I like keeping busy and have had lots of fun stuff going on since I got back.

Had a perfect NY weekend after having withdrawals from my city and my friends. Fun nights out on Friday and Saturday. Highlights of the weekend night outings was definitely the intense 80s bar crawl we found ourselves a part of. Never again will I NOT dress up for a theme party. Who knew you could possibly feel so out of place in a black dress?

Saturday was suuuper relaxing. The first day I haven't really had to be "on" in quite awhile so it was nice to enjoy an Ess A Bagel and chill for a bit. Sunday was my favorite kind of NYC day, which was spent brunching and basically wandering around. We discovered a new brunch fave, The Park (I'd only been there for an event at night - had no idea it was open for brunch), walked the High Line, and eventually made our way to the Big Apple BBQ.

For the second year in a row, I went to Big Apple BBQ and didn't actually eat BBQ... I don't know how to alter my plans for next year so I can actually get there at a good time with no lines, but I've now tried Saturday and Sunday and both are insane! I guess it's just an example of how any good thing that you get excited about in this city just comes with insane lines. That includes everything from BBQ festivals to a trip to Trader Joes (am I the only one excited by shopping there?)... it's just one of those things you get used to in the city. At least now there's an upside to the crazy lines....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Disconnect to Reconnect

There have been tons of stories and studies about how dependent our generation is on technology. There was Gen X, Gen Y, now Gen V – “Generation Virtual.” I like to think I’m not that dependent on technology, of course I need it to do my job but I can also enjoy some quiet time away from my laptop and my iPhone.

I guess I didn’t realize how attached I am to my email until the flight attendant on my JetBlue flight just informed me that there is no WiFi on board. I’m embarrassed to say I literally gasped and just stared at her blankly. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled the last few times I’ve flown, but over the last few months I have yet to be on a flight without WiFi and assumed that all flights are equipped with it now – especially a five hour flight from LA to NY!

Sometimes I take advantage of in-flight WiFi, sometimes I don’t, but there’s a certain level of security knowing its there if I want it. Today would definitely be one of those days that I’d like to use it and get some work done (not to mention I told my boss I’d be online as soon as wheels were up… whoops). And yes, I’m typing this into a word doc and will have to copy and pasted it to post later but I thought I’d go ahead and write it while I can.

So I take it back. I’m not someone who can be away from technology for extended periods of time. I know it’s good to take a break from it every now and then to “detox” but I think I’d much prefer that on a choice basis, not because someone took my precious WiFi away from me.

Now what to do for the next 4 hours and 30 minutes to JFK? Good think for that marathon of Real Housewives of New York…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"We draw our neighborhoods around us like a comforting blanket"

Oddly enough after my two posts about NYC vs. LA, I just read a great article in LA Mag (I can't find my love, NY Mag, here anywhere!) about growing up in LA and loving everything about it. One of the things that struck me as true (which applies to New York also) was how the author really saw the sprawling city as many little neighborhoods, and she just embraced her neighborhood as a comfort zone.

Although NYC (and by NYC I typically mean Manhattan, not the 5 boroughs. is that PC?) is much more compact than Los Angeles, it's true that you have to find your neighborhood and niche within any city, no matter how overwhelming the overall city may be.

When people tell me they could "never live in New York," most of the time I really think it's because when they picture New York, they picture Times Square, Broadway, bright lights, etc. And let's be honest... who wants to live in Times Square? I basically did for a summer, it's not fun, and I spent as much time as possible far away from my apartment exploring other parts of the city.

The real way to live in New York is to find your niche and get comfortable in that area. You find your bagel shop, your laundromat, your CVS, etc. and it feels like home. No matter where I move in the city, Gramercy will always feel like home since it's the first place I really settled down - any lease over a year in Manhattan is settling down right?

Side note: Gramercy may literally be home for awhile because I refuse to move out of the neighborhood until I can get into this park. Can anyone with a key help a girl out??

Friday, June 4, 2010

Middle of the Year Resolutions?

I thought traveling for work would be the busiest I've ever been, but somehow I have more downtime on this trip than I'd expected. I guess it makes sense because my friends are all back in New York, so once my work is done for the day I'm not tempted to run off to happy hour, dinner, shopping, the movies, etc. I have to say, it's kind of nice to catch up on my Netflix queue (new obsession) and apparently it makes me much better at keeping my blog updated.

With this newfound free time, I've been reading back through some old posts and reflecting - I'm still in my nostalgic omg-I've-lived-in-NYC-for-a-year phase. Going back to the beginning, I came across some old stuff at the beginning of 2009. Crazy how I had no idea where I would be now and it's all fallen into place!

The best thing I found had to be my "2009 New Years Resolutions" ... while I can't do a look where I am a year later post since I was anti-blog at the start of 2010, I'm taking this free time to look back anyway. Who says you can't have June Resolutions?

Jess's 2009 Resolutions:
  • Find a way to balance school, 2 jobs, an internship and a social life. I kind of lacked on the last part last semester, so it's a good thing my jobs are my social life. Okay so this one is now irrelevant... but I guess I survived?
  • Put enough money in my savings account before I graduate to at least cover my first month's rent in NYC. Check more or less... although at this point I don't think I realized "first month's rent" = first month's rent, last month's rent, several month security deposit, and brokers fee... thanks Mom and Dad.
  • Become more knowledgeable about the Internet & social media. Not sure I can check this off. You can always learn more... ongoing life goal?
  • Work on my blog's exposure and getting more readers. Eh, not crossing this off. I think I keep this guy updated more for me than anything, it's like a journal. Readers/comments are just added fun.
  • Graduate. CHECK! *pat on the back*
  • Find an apartment I like/can afford in NYC. The first requirement should be easy, we'll see about the second one... Check! It's definitely a starter apartment, but I love it and am staying for at least another year.
  • Make a true effort to keep in touch with friends after graduation/moving. My best friends from home have an email chain (which they like to make fun of my blog on, so maybe this post will make it into said email chain) that does wonders for keeping us all in touch. Not checking this off though because I can always get better.
  • Start an entry-level job or internship (ideally shortly after graduation). Check! *another pat on the back*
  • Finish cleaning out my room at my parents' house. And accept that I really now have to start calling it "my parents' house" instead of "my house". Big fail. Mom had to do this and redecorate. Whoops...
  • Clean out/re-paint my townhouse in Athens. Another fail... again, thanks Mom :)
So I didn't do so bad! Checked off all the big life goals for 2009. Now I just need to come up with plans for 2010 (now that we're 5 months into it). More to come...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

NYC vs. LA part 2

Elle and Wendy, you completely made my day with your comments! It's really fun to get perspective, especially from two girls who have spent a decent amount of time living in both NYC and LA - definitely makes you think.

I guess what it comes down to is that there's no real perfect city for everyone, there's just somewhere that is perfect for you, and that place may change day to day. Like I said in my last post, Sarasota was perfect for me up through high school, Athens was perfect for the next four years, and New York has my heart for now. You can analyze pros and cons, but everywhere has its advantages and disadvantages - and so does every situation. The one thing I really really can't stand about New York is the winter, but there truly is something charming about walking through snow flurries and getting excited about the holiday decorations throughout the city. Yes, people are mean in New York but it makes you stronger... you know what they say, live in New York but leave before it makes you hard; live in California but leave before it makes you get too soft. Maybe that's how I'll decide I need to leave New York... right when I'm on the verge of becoming a terrible person. Kidding :)

Most of my pros and cons were just me trying to be silly. No matter how many things I can pick apart to love or hate about New York, it's right for me at this point on my life and who knows how much longer. Aaaaaand on that note, it's only appropriate to end this with a genius quote from Sex and the City (that I think Elle, you introduced me to actually)...

"If you can only have one great love, the city just may be mine. And I can't have nobody talking shit about my boyfriend."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NYC vs. LA

Being a certain age (20s-30s) and working in certain industries (PR being one of them), it's easy to forget that any cities exist outside of New York and Los Angeles. While I'm clearly obsessed with life in New York (see my post from a few days ago... or pretty much any of them since I've moved to the city), I always wonder what it might be like to live in LA at least for a little while. I'm sure it'll happen at some point... the weather is clearly way more my scene (fortunately for you, dear readers, this blog stopped existing in the winter or you would have heard lots of whining from this girl), I could still do my job there, and it would be a new adventure which I'm always up for...

So when I do have the opportunity to visit LA, I always spend the majority of time thinking about what it would be like to live there and picking up on the subtle... and not so subtle... differences between the two cities. Here are some pros/cons I observed on my last trip:
  • Nobody walks in LA. Well at least not as much as they do in New York.. I'm quite enjoying life sans car, so I'm not sure how I would adjust to driving/sitting in traffic again. We'll call this a con.
  • Strangers talk to you in LA. I've found myself in situations on my last few trips where strangers just strike up a conversation about whatever they can think of. It always catches me off guard and then I remind myself that only in New York are people too mean or self absorbed to realize that there are other people on the street they're walking on. Let's go with pro.
  • Bars close really early in LA. Not that I'm a huge party girl or anything, but I'm always up for a late dinner and night out on the town. Apparently this is not something people do in LA since last call is at 12:45 a.m. That would take some getting used to/strategic planning, con.
  • People care what your zodiac sign is in LA. Okay, I'm a Cancer... aside from the fact that I was born in early July, I have no idea what that says about my personality. Apparently people in LA do know and judge you for it. Creepy, con.
  • Cost of living is lower in LA (or anywhere). As much as I love throwing my life savings away on rent every month, I wouldn't mind living somewhere a little bit cheaper. PRO!
  • Cabs don't take credit cards in LA. Well, most of them don't. I don't believe in cash, this would be a problem for me. Con until I learn to start going to ATMs more frequently.
  • There are real beaches and palm trees in LA. I miss nothing more about Florida than the palm trees. Humidity I'm okay without, but growing up with palm trees was the best and I definitely haven't seen any since I moved to New York. I don't even think they exist in the Hamptons. Pro.
  • Before I get too carried away with my list, I think my parents would disown me if I didn't mention how much farther away LA is from home than NYC. Pretty sure they're just getting used to the fact that I'm no longer a drive away, and really can't just go home on a whim. CON (happy Mom and Dad?)
From my limited knowledge I acquired over the last few days, it appears that the cons still outweigh the pros.. although I'm sure I could continue the list endlessly :)

The real reason I'm not moving to LA any time soon is because I want to feel like I've really done New York before I leave. As much as I loved growing up in Sarasota, I was so ready to escape by the time I graduated high school I was almost running for the Florida/Georgia border. College was an amazing four years and I loved Athens while I was there, but by the end of it I knew it was time to grow up and move on. I may stay in New York for the rest of my life, or I may just wake up one day and decide I'm done. Who knows... but for now I have many more streets to wander down, museums to lose myself in, and of course restaurants to eat in before I'm anywhere near done with the city.