ChiTown


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Chicago has always intrigued me. Ever since I was younger and my dad came back from business trips with stories about the clean, modern city in the midwest. So some twenty years later I finally got to travel to this city of skyscrapers.

I honestly had no idea it was such a tall city but after an architectural boat tour it was made clear that this city claims some of the tallest buildings in the world (one of which I went to the top of and literally hung off the edge*). To me the best part about Chicago is that it doesn’t feel big. This must be in part because of the wide streets where light passes through the buildings (almost the opposite to Manhattan’s streets). This city, to me, felt cozy and inviting.


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We were able to explore several neighborhoods during the extended weekend. As one would expect, each had a different flare, architecture and people. You could definitely notice the differences, which is something I love about NYC’s various neighborhoods as well.

Although my concrete jungle has water surrounding it, Chicago’s lake felt so much better than the rivers around Manhattan. First of all, it is clean water and you can literally jump in off the Gold Coast walkway. Second, it transcends into the city center making for lovely boat tours and bridge walks through center city.

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Selfishly, this trip was also a chance to check out another city’s “booze scene.”** With the help of colleagues living in the area and social media suggestions, I was able to curate a nice list of bars and restaurants, most of which we ventured to. The highlights included the swanky high-profile Aviary, the amaro selection at Billy Sundays, tacos at Mercadito and the surprising dive-bar we ended up singing karaoke in on the last night.

Chicago, I will return. There is more on my list to explore…

*formerly the Sears Tower

**I did mention I sell alcohol in NYC..right?

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…always a good idea.

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Oh Paris. You’ve captured my heart one too many times but always at different capacities.

This time, activities included…Wandering the streets without a destination. Checking out some trending coffee shops* (courtesy of Ms. Lost in Cheeseland). Sitting at cafés for hours to people watch with an espresso and a rosé. Eating macaroons. Falling in love with Le Marais. Seeing old friends. Meeting new friends. Not going to any museums. Gazing at my favorite Sacre Coeur from the window of a friend’s apartment (evidence above). Capturing the many images of graffiti on my Instagram. Discovering Le Canal Saint-Martin.

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*Foundation Café and Telescope are two trendy, english-speaking coffee shops brewing up delicious jo.

Wherever you are, Be all there.

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I am learning to be in the present.

People today are connected to those across the world the same as those across the street, and at an instant. Social media has made it beautifully easy to communicate with any and everyone, allowing for fruitful relationships and rekindled connections. But it has also made us distant to what is right in front of us. It seems harder than ever to remain present in today’s technology crazed society.

Be honest. How many times have you been with one other person and both of you are head down on the phone? Maybe you were even talking to one another but you were also liking a friend’s post or chatting with someone far away on Skype, checking work emails or searching the web for a fun café where you could go to together. Whatever multitasking you’re doing, you are most definitely not in the present.

Recently I have noticed this taking its toll on my job. I am in sales in the city of Manhattan where most days it seems the present is already in the past and I am always swimming upstream while looking down…at my phone of course :) Multitasking is a skill that was necessary in obtaining this job, but I find it is harder than ever to focus on one single task. To have an actual conversation.

So last week I tested myself. While talking to a client one afternoon, I closed my phone cover, flipped my watch over so I couldn’t see the time and let myself get lost in conversation with him. Maybe there was an email I was missing, perhaps I was going to have to listen to a voicemail when I left, but I was in the moment and able to really connect with this person, asking questions and listening to the answers (REALLY listening).

My tip: Take a deep breath and appreciate the person you are with at that moment or the task you are doing. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Governor’s Island

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New Yorkers: you only have until the end of the month to head out to Governor’s Island and find out what the hype is all about.

Governor’s Island, located 8 minutes by ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan, has been going through major transformation. The island, which in the past has been everything from a wartime fortress (successful in warding off British attack in 1812), a coast guard headquarter station, and a prison, is now a destination for fun and relaxation.

With some 30 acres of parks, bike paths and even a hammock grove (seriously the best things ever!), the island is a popular weekend destination. When I went for the first time last weekend I was blown away by the amount of activities available. When first walking off the ferry, many people flocked to the beach inspired bar area where there is apparently an outdoor concert area. Events and concerts are scheduled here throughout the summer and last weekend was no exception as I overheard a Sublime cover band while in line for my ferry back to Manhattan.

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Bikes seem to be the preferred mode of transportation on the island. Many visitors rented tandems and surrey cycles directly off the island while others brought their bikes on the ferry with them from Manhattan and Brooklyn (no extra charge from the $2 round trip fare). The island is larger than I expected so a bike will definitely be included on my future excursions.

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A short walk from the ferry will put you directly in front of a castle. Castle Williams to be exact. This fortress was where I spent my time…I know, I know. I’m such a nerd. I signed up for a free tour (available every hour) which takes you through the four levels and up onto the roof for an awesome view (the first picture in this post is from the roof).

Castle Williams was built in the 1800s to protect Manhattan from invasions by the British. The invasion never happened, and maybe it was due to the threat posed by this sandstone structure which had 13 casements that could each hold 26 cannons. That’s pretty intense and not something I would want to sail past as the British (not to mention this was only one fort out of the defense system in place around Manhattan.)

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After this cultural enlightenment, I wandered toward the hammocks and plopped myself down for over an hour of reading and snoozing. Seriously, I need to speak to the person involved in deciding to put hammocks on Governor’s Island. It is pure genius.

If you’re in the New York area between May and September, I suggest packing a picnic (or some cash for the food trucks) and buy a ferry ticket for an afternoon on Governor’s Island.

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Filling My Soul With That Which Was Missing

IMG_7449It’s been over two weeks since I was on VACATION!!!!

It really feels like only yesterday. I miss it so much. The first week back was extremely difficult to even get into the swing of life here in New York City. Post vacation depression. Does that happen to you too? Sometimes I even have it when I leave my friends after spending a weekend together in DC or something similar.

IMG_4512In any case, the details of my trip are missing from this blog. I began my adventure in Burgundy (my home away from home) for about five days.  I snuggled with the kids, ate and drank on the terrace for hours, drove through the quaint wine town of Beaune and the surrounding vineyards and even stopped for coffee at my favorite café in Dijon. It was a brilliant mix of activities that filled my heart with what I was missing for the past  four years since living there.

I even had the opportunity to visit the vineyards of one of the wine makers that I now represent in New York City. Emmanuel Giboulot makes very distinct natural wine and it was exciting for me to see each specific parcel. Emmanuel was just getting back from vacation when we met in his cellar on the outskirts of Beaune. After tasting some new vintages and seeing the new label design (which I am so excited about), we took his truck up into the vineyards. This perspective, actually seeing each parcel, is helpful as I share his wines with sommeliers domestically. I can now see where the wine I am selling has come from and the actual terroir and agricultural characteristics. As much as I love drinking wine, being within the rows of hanging grapes is what I love even more. It invigorates me, especially in France while speaking French :)

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After the Côte d’Or I took the train north to Paris. I’ll recap next.

Smorgas Saturday

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This summer New Yorkers from all boroughs have been flocking to Brooklyn on the weekends for a food lovers heaven. Smorgasburg is a food flea market offering some of the most innovative and delicious treats. From flavored horseradish (‘Dish) and truffle honey samples to jumbo ice-cream sandwiches and ramen burgers; this place has a little bit of everything.

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The gates open at 11am and my recommendation is to arrive as early as humanly possible. We arrived at noon and were able to make a loop of the area with ample space to meander between vendors and no lines to wait in. By our second loop (about 12:45pm) the space was already getting tight and not even my hunger could justify the length of the lines at some of the top spots.
After committing to a few items (ice-cream, fancy lemonade, tacos and pizza), we took ourselves to the lawn and relaxed in front of the city view.

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When we had enough of the warm sun, we jumped in a cab and went down to DUMBO (the area where Smorgasburg is held on Sundays FYI) for a quick afternoon cocktail at Atrium.

A top-notch Saturday afternoon if I do say so myself.

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Little trivia for you: DUMBO means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass. Did you know that?

Summer Concert Series (Fête de la Musique)

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Fête de la musique was something I never knew existed before living in France. People made a big deal of the annual first day of summer music celebration in Dijon. There were concerts set up around the city and promotion weeks in advance. Because of this I assumed it was a French thing, but in fact it is celebrated worldwide.

This past year I celebrated in a French spirit.  As part of Central Park’s SummerStage festival, the French Embassy sponsored two popular French singers to perform for a packed crowd of Francophiles and native Frenchmen alike.

The afternoon began with Émilie Simon and ended with the eccentric M. I honestly had never heard either of them, but was able to convince my equally as French obsessed sister to join me on this musical journey.

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Walking up to the grounds and hearing all of the French-speaking was enough to make me pleased with our decision to attend. Of course the music was good too, if VERY French in style (if you are American and have lived in France or have listened to French pop I think you get what I’m saying). All in all, I loved every minute.M wears extreme costumes, sings with an alluring falsetto and knows how to rock it out on guitar all night long. Apparently the band was cut from the sound system at some point in the night but he continued to play with an enthusiastic crowd singing along (we left before this but my French colleague was there and reported back).

It was so fun to do something a bit different and support music!

Sleepy Head

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I am in a rut that is leaving me exhausted. I just can’t seem to get out of bed in the mornings. Whether I am trying to squeeze in a workout, finish emails, plan for my work day or just give myself a few extra minutes to read or relax before the day begins, I always choose to hit the snooze and crawl back in bed.

I’ve tried to put the alarm on the other side of the room. I still just get up and then back in bed.

I’ve tried keeping my shades open throughout the night to ensure the sunshine will wake me. This sometimes works in getting me up, but not out of bed. I tend to lay there basking in the sunshine instead ;)

Most recently I decided to sleep in my workout clothes so that I would wake up ready to jump out the door and hit the trail. This failed. Even a compressing sports bra has failed in getting me out of bed people! It’s that bad.

And this horrible routine of mine is beginning to take its toll on my energy and enthusiasm levels. I know full well that exercise in the morning is the best way to put on a happy face and feel energized. I know that giving myself  a few extra minutes in the morning to plan my day and eat right will help decrease my stress levels throughout the work day. But it seems I ignore everything I know and continue to curl up in bed morning after morning.

I’m not sure what it will take to get myself on a quality morning routine…maybe living near the beach? Probably not but I’ll use that excuse to move to one.

Summer Concert Series (Celebrate Brooklyn!)

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Back in mid June the roomie and I went on another outdoor concert adventure, this time to Brooklyn. The concert was one of some 30 performances in Prospect Park throughout the summer, most of which are free. Starting in the late 70’s, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of the longest New York City free outdoor performing arts festivals.

On the docket for us was The National, a band I had never seen live before. It was pretty special to see them in Brooklyn since they live in that area surrounding the park.

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Unfortunately, this was a weekday concert and I was pretty exhausted from a long day at work in the humid weather. We soldiered on, however and it was totally worth it. With only two of us it was easy to wiggle our way through the crowd and into a nice spot up close. As the sun set strings of lights dimly lit the concert area creating a perfect New York summer scene.

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travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

I’m going on vacation to France and couldn’t be more pumped. I might not exactly have the funds for a trip across the Atlantic, but I stand firm behind the title of this post. That’s what credit cards are for anyways, right?

I am the absolute worst at planning, so I haven’t really done that yet, but at least the flight is booked. The trip began as a focus on Normandy, the area of France that I’ve yet to visit. Then it shifted to a beach trip to Saint Tropez and now I am not even sure I’ll go beyond visiting my Burgundy home and Paris (duh).  Honestly I am not upset if it turns into a trip of visiting old friends and returning to my favorite spots, but I hope to at least do a bit of exploring and find some new gems.

For one I now have a few more wine connections and plan to visit the domaines if possible. I’ll keep you all posted if that happens. I have also been connected to some under the radar wine bars and restaurants in Paris, and I am very excited to review them.

Until my trip at the end of the month I’ll be counting down the days by drinking Burgundy and day dreaming of being surrounded by the French language 24/7.

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