Hello Hong Kong

Where to begin? Last month I spent time on an island which has been a reoccurring character in my thoughts for the past 2 years: Hong Kong.  

One of the first observations which struck me and had intrigued me were the colors Hong Kongers have chosen for their landscape. So much pink and colorful pastels! 

My days were full and of course I only scratched the surface. What I wanted most was to just walk around this pastel vertical city beside the jungle. On an island. I had never seen anything like it with my own eyeballs. Some days I stuffed myself with dim sum, and others with “modern Chinese” dishes which rank on the list of best I’ve ever eaten. I loved every day and can’t wait until I return. 

Eat/Drink/See/Do lists forthcoming. For now here’s a first glimpse:

Ice Castle: Opening Weekend

A “bomb cyclone” (how is that even a real weather term?) couldn’t keep us away from visiting Ice Castle’s only east coast location. So long as you didn’t remove your fingers from its glove or mitten, it was still enjoyable in the 0˙ weather of Lincoln, NH. 

The sculpted structure was pretty remarkable. And the recent snowfall added a picturesque layer of what looked like frosting. 

ice slides! ice thrones! an ice maze! Elsa & Olaf! non stop photo ops.

We arrived during daylight in late afternoon to see the Ice Castle in all its glory. Soon after the sun drifted away, behind the White Mountains and the ice sculptures began to glow. How cool to see these giant ice walls lit up in bright colors. 

As we piled back into the car and finally removed excess layers of outerwear, we were glad we made the trek. For about the price of a movie ticket it’s a fun outing. We were able to see all it had to offer without needing to stay long enough to get frostbite. 

It does feel like nowadays any feast for the eyes has been reduced to just a series of photo-ops. Vaguely reminiscent of the Museum of Ice Cream and The Color Factory. Maybe it’s always been that way– so long as the technology existed parents have always taken photos of their kids. Only now with the rush of selfie sticks it’s become tiresome to observe? I guess, what is life but a series of photo-ops, amiright?? Coming at you with all the deep thoughts, guys. Stay warm!

Outer Banks of North Carolina

I write this from a snow-covered freezing tundra (or so it feels). What I would give to be transported to the month of June, on a warm beach in the South! 

I spent a short week vacationing on the Outer Banks. For a few days our lives consisted of no more than homemade sandwiches & potato chips on sandy beach towels. Afternoon trips to the local ice cream shop. Spiral staircases inside light houses. Board games. Laughing until you’re crying. Cold beer cans blanketed in condensation. Running through sand dune mazes. Reading in a beach chair, which inevitably leads to napping in a beach chair. 

Forget Zoloft, give all of us trudging through seasonal depression a dose of the last week in June.

File the Outer Banks and barrier islands of North Carolina under “Places to Visit Before the Rising Sea Levels Bury Them”.

On our last day we finally changed out of our swimsuits and drove up to Corolla. If you haven’t ridden in an H1 Hummer on a wide Carolina beach, which everyone agrees is a 2 lane highway, you’re missing out! There are homes in Corolla and nearby neighborhoods where the beach is the only route of access. Who knew? 

Similar to the paths amongst the grasses in the sand dunes which we’d walk through to reach the beach, larger paths make up the streets here. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it. It was just like any other suburban development, except for the slight difference that none of the streets were paved. They were all wide trails in the sand. Wide enough for your neighbors lifted SUV, and trailing boat to drive through. Hell, we even saw a 4x4 pizza delivery truck.

And wild horses! (which sounds nicer than the also accurate “feral horses”.) The protected population here on the Outer Banks are descendants of domesticated horses Spanish expeditions brought over in the 1500’s, and left behind… or survived shipwrecks– where’s that animated movie, Disney? Here’s a wikipedia link, should you be itching for a rabbit hole to go down. 

Ciao Ciao

In one week’s time I’ll put on my old lady compression socks, fill a bag with my weight in camera gear, and step on a plane bound for Italy. In the name of… nostalgia, I suppose… I want to finally share some of my favorite photos from the last time I was in Italy back in February. I traveled with EF Tours on a whirlwind trip of all the hits (Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Assisi & Pompeii). 

This time around I’ll be shooting on the island of Capri, and then exploring Bari, Monopoli & who knows where else. I’ll take any well loved recommendations you have to share!

Snapshots from Portland, Oregon

This past weekend the state of Oregon charmed my pants off. I only spent one day in Portland and a day in Hood River, but these pants are definitely not coming back on any time soon (probably because the weather is so damn hot now).

Here are snapshots I took while wandering around Portland, and below are my recommendations to a fellow visitor (not that you asked).

If time allows and weather permits, I try to visit a garden or arboretum while in another part of the world. And if there were ever a garden to see– it is Portland’s International Rose Test Garden. Hoooolyyy shit. (I mean, you kind of don’t need to because there is a glorious rose bush blooming on every single corner of this city in the summer, but still.)

Any place with 550+ varieties of roses is a sight to behold, and this one doesn’t disappoint. My favorite piece of trivia about the test garden is that during WWI it served as a safe haven for all the hybrid rose breeds that had be cultivated in Europe. Rose growers sent grafts & bushes from all over to Portland for safe keeping. Isn’t that beautiful? And today Portland is the only city in all of North America that can grant awards to roses internationally. 

How much does it cost to enter this floral dreamland you ask? $0. Admission is free! (and they have a souvenir flattened penny machine– what!)

Eat & Drink:

Pine State Biscuits - Yes the line will probably be wrapped around the corner when you arrive and YES it’s worth the wait. Here is where I ate the best biscuit I’ve ever eaten (sorry grandma). I mean, I don’t want to build your expectations up too much. It’s okay… pretty good. Get there early before the homemade pop-tarts sell out.

Expatriate (& Beast) - If you’re one to roll your eyes at the term “mixologist” please come here and be floored by the brilliant bartenders. Their cocktails are so damn good, and worth the pricetag. And if you’re able to work into your schedule a reservation across the street at Beast, please also do that.

Hat Yai - No this is not your typical Americanized Thai food take out. Yes it is ludicrously delicious. Fried Chicken! Curries! Meat skewers! You don’t need any more information– just go eat here!

Honorable mentions - Tasty N Sons, Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen, Olympia Provisions, (and the hometown heroes:) Salt & Straw, Blue Star Donuts

Have your mind blown @ The International Rose Test Garden - Need I say more? Of course a visit here is ideally made in the spring or summer. The Portland Japanese Garden is next door, and plenty of other things in Washington Park, too.

Buy more books than can fit in your suitcase @ Powell’s City of Books - This is easily on every to do list you read about Portland, and with good reason! All those hard to find books on your list that are never available on Amazon… look here.

Decide you need to remodel your home @ Schoolhouse Electric - You probably ought to go for a hike & enjoy the beautiful outdoors that Portland and the surrounding area has to offer. But if weather doesn’t permit, or you’re not the outdoorsy type (why did you come to the PNW??) take a walk around SHE’s showroom. I’m not saying it’s as beautiful as Mother Nature herself, but goooooood looooord!

Get cozy @ Multnomah Whiskey Library - Maybe this one belongs more in the “to drink” category, but this place doesn’t feel like your average whiskey bar. It’s more of an event which requires participation. (Kind of like how Seven Grand in DTLA used to feel years ago before the college bros discovered it.)

Bye Portland! I love you. I hope it’s not another three years before I see you again.

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