Friday, December 30, 2011

Sun setting on another year...

As we bring 2011 to a close and the office is mighty quiet, my mind begins to wander as I envision what's in store for the year to come. My co-hort in travel obsession, Mrs. G-chat-a-lot friend of years read my last post and says, "So HELLO, where are you going to travel to in 2012!?" My answer, "I don't know." EEK!

I was spoiled in 2011. I mean, let's be honest, how many people (who don't travel for work) get to visit 2 continents and 4 countries in one year? Not many. And that's not including all the fun domestic travel I did too. 

So for 2012, here's what is on the books so far: 
  • We are for sure planning a trip back here (see below) in March. 
  • A January "kids" trip to San Francisco & Healdsburg in January (including dinner here, lunch here, beers here, and staying here.)
  • A weekend in DC with Ms. gchat-a-lot. Cooking at home, museums, maybe some photography, & walks around town.
  • Ski Trip...hopefully. Compared to my return to NYC after last year's Christmas, this year I returned to mid-40's and rain instead of snowmageddon. It's not looking good...I might have to fly somewhere drastic to fill my need for snowboard speed (nerdy chills, shh.)
  • Summer Trip to Maine. My last trip to Maine was during Thanksgiving in college. I was naive to all the amazing places to visit and seriously missed out on some fun in Portland, Freeport, etc.
So far that's all that is on my agenda, but knowing me, the gaps will somehow get filled. And I'll be sure to capture it in photos and write up some fun anecdotes for those of you interested enough to follow along!

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year to Everyone. May 2012 bring us all a LOT of luck, prosperity, happiness, and love.

xoxox JEG.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Forward

About this same time last year I was catching up on my blog posts (history repeating itself proven true once again), and I started looking towards my 2012 plans. I won't call them goals as that's opening an old can of worms. Growing up, there was an inevitable "goals" chat with my dad. We'd be sitting at a restaurant at some point close to the end of the year and he'd pull out a pen from his shirt pocket while simultaneously flipping over the paper place mat. My brother Mike and I would invariably groan and plead to postpone the dreaded exercise. Dad would ask us to list our goals for the next year in the following categories ('all on one hand', he says): 1. Spiritual Life 2. Family Life 3. Career (Professional Life) 4. Physical Fitness & 5. Relaxation & Hobbies. As an adult, I now appreciate the exercise (shh, don't tell Dad!); however, as a 9 year old, I really wasn't thinking so long term. My next sleepover was paramount on my list.

Fast forward many years (and a huge brother-sister coup where we refused to do our goals forever more), I now create lists for myself of things I'd like to accomplish. They deviate from the structure my dad has us follow, but his underlying motivation is there nonetheless. For purposes of this blog, I created two lists for the year of Places to Visit in 2011 and Things to do around NYC. Let's review how I fared with each of these while I contemplate what's on the books for 2012.

Top Places to 2011
Miami - Fantastic bachelorette party weekend in April. It was mid-Lent and I took my well-earned dispensation of bread and booze here!
Snowboard - somewhere! - In March, I shot to Denver to visit my brother and got in almost a whole day of riding. It was glorious, but I hope for many more days in 2012.
Basel, Lyon, Interlaken, Zurich & the Unterengadin - This became Berlin, Basel, Burgundy (& Lyon), Lake Annecy, Murten & Zurich. STELLAR trip!
Manchester, VT - Most fun wedding ever!!!!!
Berlin - See above or read here.
Peru - Lima, Cuzco & Machu Picchu. Beyond words.

Lake Annecy, France
Where I excelled at the Travel goals, I failed on the Around the Town To Do’s. The boy saved me with an invitation to do trapeze school back in June, which was amazing. I kind of was a natural, to be honest. And just last week the boy and I attended a classical holiday concert at Carnegie Hall. It wasn’t quite the tour, but at least I got INSIDE the building finally! And we didn't do a Twilight Boat Cruise, but we did a beer tasting one...that almost counts.

Around Town To Do's....
NYC Police Museum
Ellis Island
Carnegie Hall Tour
Murder at the Met
Rock Climbing in Brooklyn
Trapeze School - YES!
Radio City Music Hall Tour
Picnic & Cloisters Visit
Lincoln Center Tour
Twilight Boat Cruise

I guess as lists (i.e. goals) go, you can't always get to all of them...or then what would you aspire to for the next year! So here's to 2012 and all the new things there are to explore, experience, enjoy, and envisage for life.

"Many small people who in small places do many small things that can alter the face of the World." - East Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hidden charms of Hudson, NY

While reading one of the many blogs I follow this summer, I came across a link for the very charming Hudson Merchant House in Hudson, NY. We'd been talking about doing a weekend getaway upstate during the Fall so I shared the link with the boy and minutes later we were booked! Neither of us had ever been there before nor had really even heard of this town along the Hudson River. As I had a few months to prepare, I began researching the town and planning our escape. Everything I read made me excited for the upcoming adventure.
Design & Antique stores line Warren Street
Over the past few decades Hudson has experienced a renaissance of sorts, evolving from a somewhat rundown riverside town just north of the ultra chic Rhinebeck (Chelsea Clinton's wedding site) to a trendy, yet still bohemian, village. Where Rhinebeck exudes the allure of the West Village, Hudson proffers SoHo style galleries, antique stores, and restaurants.

From everything I'd read, it appeared that Hudson was quite manageable on foot so we opted for the less stressful Amtrak train from Penn Station to Hudson, avoiding the traffic crush of a Friday night. We jumped aboard, grabbed ourselves a happy hour beer and settled in for the lovely sunset ride along the Hudson River. Upon arrival, we walked two blocks to our cozy bed and breakfast where one of our hosts, Roy, was waiting for us at the door with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and his darling black lab circling excitedly at his heels. What service!

Charming facade typical of many Hudson Homes
Mike and his partner, Roy, quickly acquainted us with the house and it's amenities. Breakfast was served in the morning at a communal table shared by the guests - and without getting too far ahead, it was scrumptious! Mike is a fabulous cook! Our room, The Newport Room, was perfectly appointed with a patio overlooking the backyard. After washing up, we decided to head up Warren Street (for all intents and purposes THE main drag of Hudson) and settled on the perfect venue for dinner, American Glory BBQ. The glory wasn't in the food, but it certainly was in the atmosphere with a charming bartender, easily assessed basic menu, and good cocktails. Perfect for the early Friday night we needed.


We awoke Saturday morning snuggled in our comfy bed to forecasts of snow and the smell of a home cooked meal wafting up the staircase. Following our delectable breakfast, we set out to take advantage of the day. A slight chill in the overcast sky, we ventured first to the park overlooking the river snapping a few photos and exerting our inner children on the swings! Invigorated, we spent the day exploring the town with several highlight stops. One was our brief reprieve at The Spotty Dog Books & Ale where we savored craft brews and browsed their literary selection. Another was our late lunch at Cafe Le Perche, a recently opened French Bistro & Bakery on Warren Street. While savoring our squash soup and spicy Syrah, the first snow of the season descended on the town of Hudson. It was magically romantic.

Onslaught of the first snow.

Exhausted from our explorations (and another long NYC week), we decided to relax in the Newport Room before heading to our highly anticipated dinner at Swoon Kitchen Bar. With the snow quietly accumulating outside our B&B, we enjoyed some late afternoon movies and a quick nap (we're getting old, you know...) Dinner, relative to our meals at the Hudson Merchant House,  La Perche, and our Sunday lunch at Ca'Mea was wildly disappointing given the reviews I'd read here and here, but you can't always win. The company was blissful nonetheless.

The aftermath.

Snow blanketed the town and glimmered in the sun as we awoke Sunday morning. Such a treat! We walked about town kicking around the snow and enjoying the smell of freshly fallen snowflakes and winter fall (this was October still.). Always the competitive one, I'd brought with me my pack of UNO cards suggesting we cap off the trip with some friendly rivalry. We sidled up to a comfy corner at Le Gamin Country with some escargots and two Sancerres and, well, I obviously creamed him. What a great way to finish a fantastic weekend!!!! The boy is still trying to win back his pride....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

10 Days til Christmas!!!!!!

A week from today I'm going home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To this beautiful place!!!!!!!!!!!!! To see my mutti and putti!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And get some much needed Vitamin D (I could audition for True Blood at this point) and to see great friends, meet a very cute little tot, and to RELAX on the couch looking at the fabulous ocean out the window of my parents house. (Can you tell I'm excited? The overuse of exclamation points could not be avoided.)

Oh yeah, and we get to whip out our wicked cool elf hats again. This year we've added a hat for a new guest who will be joining us. We'll see if he behaves or if he goes home with a lump of coal in his pocket. The Dad will be the judge....

Happy Holidays everyone! Get in the spirit with some good old Holiday Music! (Currently rocking this at my desk...) Maybe this year we'll get "stuck" in San Diego again....