Christmas Shopping and Afternoon Tea in London

On my last day of my trip on London I knew there only a few things I really wanted to do: see some Christmas decorations and have an afternoon tea.

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A Sunday in Richmond

Since I had been to London a few times before, this trip was really about seeing new parts of the city that were not the typical tourist attractions. My friend took me to Richmond, a cute little town in Southwest London. I loved seeing how the town was decorated for the holidays and what people typically would be doing on a Sunday away from all the hustle and bustle of the tourists.

We walked through the town and headed towards Richmond Park. The park is the largest of London’s Royal Park and is a deer park!

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Australian Brunch in London

After years of admiring ornately decorated department store windows and towering Christmas trees in New York City during the holiday season, I wanted to experience how another city celebrated the most wonderful time of the year. My travels took me to London to visit a friend that lives in South London, next to the Clapham Common.

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The Clapham Common is a large 220 acres triangular park with ponds and lots of walking paths. One of the best parts of London parks that I learned on this trip is that they are all dog friendly!

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Mike’s Pastry in Boston

One of my favorite parts of Boston is the North End. It has the distinction of being the city’s oldest residential community, where people have continuously inhabited since it was settled in the 1630s. Though small, only 0.36 square miles (0.93 km2), the neighborhood has nearly one hundred establishments and a variety of tourist attractions. It is known for its fine Italian restaurants.

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I’ve been to several different Italian restaurants in the neighborhood and I’ve enjoyed everyone one of them. The only thing I like more than good Italian food are great Italian desserts. My sister and I had dinner in the North End during my most recent visit and when I suggested ordering dessert at the restaurant, she balked at me. I thought maybe she was full from the heaping plate of pasta but actually, she really wanted to show me Mike’s Pastry. After living in New York and visiting Little Italy a few too many times, I’ve become jaded about these type of places. The ones you hear so much about but then they never really live up to the hype.

We walked in and there was no real sort of organization. People just wandered up to the counter after they reviewed the countless types of cannolis and walked away with a little box wrapped in string. When it was our turn to wade through the crowd, I saw an espresso cannoli calling my name. We paid and left with our own little box to be eaten back in bed at the hotel.

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I apologize for the hideous photo quality because the picture does not do this dessert justice. First of all, the cannoli was huge, it was bigger than my hand. But I managed to eat the entire thing and still wanted more! It was delicious. A perfect end to an evening in the North End.

Brunch at City Table and Sightseeing

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My sister is now in her final year at Boston University so I have visited her in Boston several times. One of the places she always takes me and the rest of the family to is City Table, and this visit was no different. The restaurant is located in Back Bay which is a great area to explore. It’s close to Newbury street, a great street for shopping, as well as other Boston attractions, including the Public Library.

The restaurant is attached to the Lenox Hotel, making it very easy to find. Inside is pretty swanky but the menu is very eclectic with various breakfast and lunch options. When we come with the whole family, Dad always gets a sandwich and my sister and I always get the eggs. This time, I opted for tea as well and that was delicious! Perfect for a chilly fall day.  

After brunch we had some time to kill so we wandered around the area and went into the Boston Public Library. I’ve walked by the outside many times and admired it but had never been inside. Inside is even more breathtaking than I imagined! The city of Boston has such a unique identity from many cities in the United States because it is one of the few with such a rich and long history. 

This location of the Boston Public Library was completed in 1895. In 1986, the National Park Service designated the McKim Building a National Historic Landmark citing it as “the first outstanding example of Renaissance Beaux-Arts Classicism in America.” Within the McKim Building are fine murals series, fine collections of rare books and manuscripts, maps, and prints, and splendid gallery space for displaying the numerous treasures assembled over the past 160 years. 

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 The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel is across from Trinity Church and the Public Library. The hotel cost $5.5 million dollars to build and opened in 1912. The Copley Plaza Hotel has been host to many famous people. Every U.S. President since William Howard Taft, and royalty from Greece, Thailand, Abyssinia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Belgium, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have visited the hotel. Celebrities including John Lennon, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Dorothy Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and Luciano Pavarotti have also been guests. But I think one of the best parts about the hotel is Carly Copley, Canine Ambassador. Carly, a black Labrador formerly trained as a guide dog, warmly greets guests upon arrival to the hotel. She is also available for scheduled walks and runs with guests. 

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Trinity Church, directly across from the Boston Public Library was completed in 1877. Trinity Church is the only church in the United States and the only building in Boston that has been honored as one of the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States” by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1885, architects voted Trinity Church as the most important building in the U.S.; Trinity Church is the only building from the original 1885 list still included in the AIA’s current top ten list. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 30, 1970.

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The Old South Church on Boylston Street was completed in 1873. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970 for its architectural significance as one of the finest High Victorian Gothic churches in New England.

Mohonk Mountain House

After living in New York for 5 years, I still struggle with the concept of a “weekend trip” from the city. Without a car, I get a sense of anxiety from planning a trip for a weekend and feeling stranded. There are many places outside of the city in Upstate New York, Connecticut and New Jersey that are beautiful and easy to get to, but being there with just your legs to get around sometimes stresses me out.

When my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to go somewhere for Memorial Day weekend to get out of the city and actually see some nature, he did a lot of research and found Mohonk Mountain House. It was perfect for us because after a short cab ride from the Metro North train station, you did not need a car the entire weekend. Everything including restaurants, the spa, and hiking trails were all on the property.

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All My Exes Live in Texas – A visit to Dallas

Before I visited Dallas in April and May of 2016, I didn’t really understand just how big the city it is. The first thing to understand about visiting Dallas and understanding the magnitude of it is the “Metroplex” which is fancy term to describe the combination of Dallas-Fort Worth area.

During my past two visits, I have spent most of my time in the Uptown area and had a chance to visit Downtown and the Bishops Arts district. If you are interested in learning more about the other neighborhoods of Dallas before I have a chance to visit and report back, visit http://neighborhoods.dmagazine.com/dallas/central-dallas/.

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Bordeaux, France

This most recent trip to Europe coincided with my 26th birthday so my expat friend living in London left it up to me to choose where we should spend the days leading up to it. I knew I wanted to be in France and I had always wanted to see the countryside of France so after much deliberation, we settled on Bordeaux. It doesn’t hurt that Bordeaux is the world’s major wine industry capital.

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