Archives for posts with tag: travel

This post is a combination of two things.

1. All of the photos are from last week’s vacation (instagrams are perfect for vacation photos, don’t you think?).

2. All of the text comprises my “perfect list” of the things I’d recommend to anyone, anytime, to always do. For the most part, the photos have nothing to do with the text. So sorry, but I think it’ll work.

Here’s the thing about Nantucket. It’s expensive and prohibitive. They charge you to park on the mainland side (cheapest parking is at the bus lot). They charge you to ferry over on the slowest boat possible, or they charge you to fly over on the shortest flight known to mankind. Food also must ferry over, so menu prices will make you wince. Many of the shops seem to be full of cashmere and ridiculous gold jewelry. The drabbest bed and breakfast could cost your whole vacation budget.

But here’s the other thing about Nantucket: the entire thing is encircled with beaches. Each one has a new view, or a new type of wave, or a new feeling of pure freedom to encounter. It’s 99% independent businesses owned by quirky humans, most of them there because they adore the place. The breeze seems to be always blowing. The architectural restrictions that mean every single house must have cedar shingles and white trim? It works so well that your eyes relax and notice all the wildflowers for once.

And it can be relished, truly loved, for not too much money.

Best case scenario: someone with a house invites you out. God bless em, this happens every once in awhile. But other best case scenario: stay at the cutest hostel in the world! Take the shuttle out, or bring your bike on the ferry and bike out. Take the bus down from Boston, bring your bike on the ferry, stay here, and save your pennies for the food!

alright, on to the perfect list:

Milky Coffee and the Breakfast Special at the Pharmacy You can do the brunch scene with it twenty minute waits, or you can do this. Particularly when hungover, I prefer this. Sit at the counter if you can, or just call your order to the girls behind the counter. The breakfast special is a genius combination of onion bagel, bacon, tomato, salt and pepper and cream cheese . It arrives in splendor on a paper plate. They mix your cream and sugar into your coffee, and it turns out dessert style.

 Lounging inside and outside the Library An oasis in the heat, the Nantucket Athenaeum is a beautiful free spot: cool inside and full of books! I love to sit for an hour with a few magazines to take a break from the bustle of town. Or bring your own book and sit in their shaded grassy yard.

a walk to the Bake Shop for donuts Just outside town, the Bake Shop competes with Downy Flake for island’s best donut. I love this little bakery for its old school vibe. It’s absolutely full of options and I never know what to order, I just point at a bunch of things and make off with my paper sack of goodies.

Sandwiches in the yard at Something Natural There are 4+ great sandwiches shops on Nantucket but you’ll see stickers for Something Natural on almost every car. The beautiful ambling lawn out front, the addictively fresh Portuguese bread, and the scenic Cliffside Road address surely all contribute to this. Ideal for a quick bike ride outside of town, order one of their enormous sandwiches, pick up a Nantucket Nectar, and lounge in the shade.

 Day Drinking at Cisco Brewery Truth is, everyone will tell you to go here. By 4pm this ramshackle lot can be incredibly crowded and you’ll see the line of parked cars as soon as you turn onto Bartlett Road. But around 2pm on a weekday there’s a good chance you can find a chair in the shade. Sometimes there’s a visiting raw bar selling plates of bluefish dip and crackers. Sometimes there’s a portable pizza oven. Sometimes there’s no food at all, just beer of all sorts, waiting for a tasting.

 Pennsylvania Dutch Cakes and Bacon at Black Eyed Susan’s If you can get there before eight, you’ll barely have to wait for table. If you don’t, don’t get scared by the crowd out front. Just put your name on the list and walk around town for 30 minutes. Every single thing on the menu is delicious, every seat in the house feels like the perfect spot, and the coffee is bottomless. I do not think it gets better than this.

 Pillaging island vintage at the Take-it or Leave-it Everyone is required to take their own trash to the dump and sort the recyclables carefully. Once there (and you can bike there!) you’ll see shack in the corner of the dump’s parking lot. Everyone has a story about their favorite free find here–beautiful editions of old books, the perfect sweater, that grill accessory you needed for the week, a beach toy for your baby, etc. We try to go at least a couple times a week when we’re on island. At the end of the week, we go through our stuff and donate to the pile!

 Hat-gawking at Peter Beaton This place is the classiest. She had striped shirts, signature custom sunglasses and amazing sun hats long before all these jokers showed up. Her window is full of ribbon options, the hats are all so enticing and the little sign guiding you to the shop might be the most charming one in town.

 Picking up wine from the Bookstore in ‘Sconset If you bring your bikes (or rent them) the longest ride out of town is to Sconset, 8.2 miles. Sconset is perfect for pleasant wandering about, every street is lovely and most corners reveal a view. We love to pick out wine from the Bookstore, a wonderfully curated shop that is attached to the restaurant next door (which is byob, so it works perfectly!). You can always take the shuttle back to town (2 bikes fit on the front).

 Waiting in the endless line at the Juice Bar  The wall is covered with painted signs listing the choices (fresh watermelon juice! homemade fudge! fresh orange juice and vanilla shake!) the fan blows fresh waffle hot air in your face and, come nightfall, the line is around the block. I take that as a certain sign that it’s the spot to be.

 Chips and Burgers at Surfside Beach To me this place is ideal Nantucket: affordable, friendly, simple, and classy. I love seeing the kids run up from the beach with their dollars in hand, lining up for slush puppies, burgers, bags of Ruffle potato chips, or frozen candy bars. Watch out for the seagulls here! They are dive bombers with a keen eye for an unwatched burger. Bonus: surfside beach is the easiest beach to bike to and it has the cleanest bathrooms and showers. You can drive, bike, or take the shuttle.

 Bluefish Dip from East Coast Seafood Just before you turn down the road to Cisco Brewery, you’ll see a sign for 167 Seafood. This is my favorite spot to buy seafood–I love the way the shop carries just the right things for seafood buyers, I love how fresh everything is, and I love their bluefish dip. A container of that is the perfect snack for any Nantucket adventure.

 Spending Money at Provisions, Straight Wharf Bar, and Straight Wharf  Everything this trio of businesses does, they do perfectly. Between the three they’ve got you covered for a morning brunch, a boozy drink and bar snack, or an expensive deluxe dinner.

I just noticed this could also be called “a guide to shade on Nantucket.”  ha!

We went to bed so early! What is it about being away from your living room, with its built-in suggestion of tasks and chores, and away from your laptop, that makes it so easy to go to bed?! The sun poured through our windows beginning at 5am and I didn’t mind since we’d gone to bed at 10pm.

We had lobster rolls on our first evening. I like a place that toasts the roll, assumes chips are included, and sells it to you for $11. Unheard of in Boston. Thurston’s also served potato salad with fresh dill, bits of red onion, and corn. And a corn and crab chowder that was almost entirely piles of shredded crab. We shared a pitcher of a breezy drinkable beer called Thurston’s Lobster Ale, of unknown origin.

We tried peaches on the grill. Flesh side down, they ended up tasting faintly smokey but wonderfully warm and mushy. We ate them with vanilla ice cream mixed with grape nuts. Apparently this is a standard flavor in Maine. Strangely delicious. “Like a perfectly soggy bowl of cereal,” Joe said. I wouldn’t agree with that since I don’t like soggy cereal, but it does describe the texture.

We went for exactly one hike to the top of one mountain. At the top there was a puddle full of silky mud that Lux fairly slithered into. She ended up coated in mud and had to be hiked back down half naked.

A soup kitchen was raising funds by serving dozens of popovers, four different kinds of jams, and coffee in small tea cups. Obviously we had to attend. Then we wandered out to the rocky shores to hunt for rocks to give our stone-carving friend (we didn’t find any good ones).

I started reading My Family and Other Animals because it was on the shelves of the cottage where we were staying. It’s a memoir of a family that moved to an island in Greece in the 1930s, written by the youngest brother. I love it.

Lux has an empty jar of almond flavoring in her mouth. The perfect size for sore gums to chew on.

Link’s for travel in Southwest Harbor & Bar Harbor: seriously spectacular ice cream at Mt. Desert Ice Creampiled on lobster rolls at Thurston’s, a soup kitchen that also sells meals at Common Good Soup Kitchen, buy clams, mussels, and eggs only from Rat’s and always from Rat’s.

We’re driving up to Maine tonight. We’ll leave around 7pm and play loud music until Lux decides she’s sick of this hipster scene and falls asleep. In this photo from Maine last summer, Joe’s wearing his t-shirt from Saturdays NYC that he has probably worn every week for the last year. We need a new one, and I love them all.

I hope we can:

pick up some raw milk (for mozzarella/yogurt making)

sit on a porch and play in a yard, two very foreign concepts around here these days

have a tasting flight at Mt. Desert ice cream (strawberry fig balsamic sorbet! girls scouts gone wild!)

see sunrise on acadia mountain in the morning

and garage sale in the afternoon

buy a pile of mussels for dinner and do nothing except set them on the grill, put the lid on, and then pull them off one by one as the open.

I hope you have some summery things planned for yourself. Finally buying a carton of strawberries, perhaps? Treating yourself to a jarful of lemonade? Borrowing the Sunday comics from your neighbor’s newspaper? Stopping to talk to all the dogs? (this is Lux’s plan for sure)

Today I have a brief guide to Nantucket on Show + Tell. The 5 spots I recommend are my most favorite things on island, especially the dump with its Take It or Leave It shack. Show + Tell is a blog run by graphic designer and Columbus OH resident Allison Lehman. Everything there is lovely to look at, but I particularly enjoyed her recent tips on blogging series.

I like that Allie limits her guides to 5-6 things because it makes for easy reading. However, I know many of you are in Boston and probably going to visit this summer, therefore I hope to have a longer guide for you next week. Writing this one for Allie reminded me of all things I truly love on that island.

The shops were just waking up, some of them sparely stocked but eagerly open anyway. We stayed with our old roommates, made big dinners and said things like, “the ol’ crew back again!”

We went to the public driving range, bought six baskets at $5 each and sliced away at every last ball.

We sprawled on the beach and let Lux pick up all the bits of crab shell she could find.

I made my first batch of mint lemonade with black tea. Nice in the afternoon. Even better with bourbon in the evening. (five tea bags, one canister frozen lemonade, one bunch mint)

Lux tried my pancakes. She tried my chocolate doughnut. She chewed a marshmallow. A first-sugar-on-the-first-birthday baby she will not be.

We scampered around the grocery store buying ears of corn, loads of fresh dill for potato salad, slabs of salmon for the grill, and extra paper towels.

When Lux napped, we lit a pile of charcoal and had s’mores as an afternoon snack. Joe believes in six squares of Hersheys on each, I grew up with three so six seemed insanely decadent. What about you?

Last year’s Daffodil Festival on Nantucket, and a recap of our last summer there

We spent a long weekend in Philadelphia, meeting up with Joe’s family and several good old friends who have settled there. With just three days, we had lots we wanted to do, eat, and see! Here are my favorite apps that helped make a fantastic weekend:

LevelUp. We all know the future is paying with your phone and leaving that silly wallet behind (except we would still carry our purses because we love them so much, obviously). If you too want card-free transactions, imagine having a baby in your arms and a diaper bag on your shoulder: Suddenly you want it 100x more, right? I love that LevelUp is a pay-with-your phone option at most of my favorite spots in Boston, and it is Philly too. Because they give you credit for your first visit to most places, my afternoon macchiato at the lovely cafe down the street from my hotel was free!

LevelUp is in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philly, San Diego, Seattle, and lots more cities! It’s a free app, but if you sign up with my code 65582, we both get a $5 credit. bing.

Best Parking. Is there a more confusing nightmare than parking garage signage? I think not. Especially if you’re a deal hunter, a street full of  garages all offering different rates is terrifying! I used Best Parking (which is in loads of cities) to sneak out the best overnight rate near our hotel. It’s intuitively designed (it’s owned by a twenty-three year old!), and can use either your address or your location to help you find parking.

Yelp-the Bookmark List. Don’t worry, I too have thoughts about how much therapy most Yelp users need. Especially when they use a restaurant review as a place to complain about their waiter. But! Yelp on your browser and on your phone make it easy to “bookmark” places you want to go. Then you can pull up the app and see where those places are on a map, and hunt them down.

This is super helpful if you’re chatting with someone and they’re like, “oh try this spot! and check in there! and make sure you have oysters over there!” and the names are flying past you and you’re just nodding along, wishing your dictation secretary was around. And, not to be a complete nerd here, but the user experience on Yelp is way better than Google maps. For one thing, it searches businesses more quickly and more accurately. For another, the labels on the map are movable, so they don’t obscure whatever you’re trying to look at (hint hint Google Maps!).

Venmo. Joe and I took advantage of the grandparents in the city and went out to all sorts of fun drinks spots with friends. But then the bill shows up at the end, and turns out everyone ordered different things: a salad here, a water there, three cocktails over here (who could have ordereed those??). Venmo makes it easy to let one person pay the bill and everyone else pay you back on the spot. Because we know those promises of “oh, I’ll get the next one!” never really work out.

What about you? Any apps you’re loving on the go these days?

Happy Monday! Happy May!

Over the weekend Joe and I went out to Nantucket for the Daffodil Festival, a yearly festival that celebrates the flowerly beginnings of spring on the island.

It was cloudy the whole day, so I played around with Instagram filters for my photos with the result that they each look like they were taken in a different era. Oops.

The festival is about old cars getting spruced up with yellow, parading across the island and finishing in an everyone-is-invited picnic. You don’t have to pay to participate and no one is selling anything. You just show up, hopefully wearing a little yellow and having packed a delicious lunch. and a nice blanket to nap on. and maybe some champagne to share with your neighbors.

I loved this little car logo. I would no doubt care more about cars if they all had logos like this.

Each year we get a little better at packing our picnic. This year we had quinoa tabbouleth, midwestern pasta salad (with pepperoni slices and mozzarella chunks), breaded chicken, cheesy mashed potatoes, olive bread with cheddar cheese, and almond cake.  I’m posting the almond cake recipe later this week because it is so wonderful to have in your life.

Finally, my favorite detail from the weekend:

seeing this blanket that our friend Dave (in the photo above, right) handknit over the winter.

Isn’t it beautiful?

ps: My photos from last year’s (sunny!) Daffodil Festival.

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