Wanderlust Wednesday: Napa, California

The Carneros Inn
The Carneros Inn

This is the adorable cottage my husband and I stayed in at The Carneros Inn in Napa for our anniversary nearly three years ago. The entire place is this charming and picturesque. And, as luck would have it, we’re going back in just a few weeks! Work is taking KP to Napa (poor guy, right?), and the stars have aligned so I get to tag along for a change. Counting the days…

Wanderlust Wednesday: Boston, Massachusetts

Patriot’s Day/Marathon Monday in Boston

Marathon Monday 2008 Boston, Massachusetts
Marathon Monday 2008
Boston, Massachusetts
Photo credit: dr. huxtable

I lived in Boston for three years, from 2006 – 2009. Prior to living there, I didn’t know of Patriot’s Day, which is this coming Monday, April 21st. Maybe I did — maybe I learned about it in elementary school social studies or something? If I did, I don’t remember. Anyway, I became very familiar with Patriot’s Day, which is also the day the Boston Marathon is run every year. So Patriot’s Day is also known as Marathon Monday in Boston.

Some friends always had the day off work on Patriot’s Day, a holiday in Massachusetts, and those of us who didn’t usually took the day off. To me, Patriot’s Day meant beautiful spring weather and the Red Sox game, followed by drinks at the bars near the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. In other words, a fun, booze-filled day with good friends.

Me & KP Marathon Monday Red Sox game, 2009
Me & KP
Marathon Monday Red Sox game, 2009

I have so many good memories of Marathon Monday from my Boston days. But last year, obviously things went much differently. It’s one of those days that I’ll never forget where I was when I heard about the bombing — just like I remember where I was when the Challenger exploded, or on September 11th. I was sitting at my desk at work and got a news alert email. Initially, though it resonated with me, it didn’t seem like it was anything major. But the stories and details quickly emerged and it was clear that it was an incredibly major, terrible catastrophe. And I immediately thought about what I’d be doing if I still lived in Boston, who I’d be with, and started texting those friends. For various reasons, none of my Boston friends partook in Marathon Monday festivities last year — one was pregnant, one was traveling and so on. I remember thinking, thank God, and breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Boston is a tough town. When I moved there, I found it hard to make friends; I can count on one hand the number of friends I made — and still have — who were born and raised in Boston. Born and bred Bostonians stick together. And while, to an outsider like me, Boston felt like a tough city, it’s also a city of strength. So it was no surprise that the “Boston Strong” slogan organically came to be in the aftermath of the bombing. And I have no doubt that the strength of the city and its people will show on Monday, the first marathon since the bombing.

Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with Boston. It was hard for me to find my footing initially, and I suppose you could say I got mixed up with the wrong crowd for a bit. Gosh, that makes it sound like I was hanging with Tatiana from The Heat, which wasn’t the case. And those winters… well, I guess they just prepared me for the polar vortex. On the flip side, while I don’t have a ton of friends from Boston, the ones that I do have are genuine and very special to me. And I met my husband in Boston and we have lots of good memories there together. When I stopped and thought about it, there are actually a lot of things I miss about Boston. I give you my top ten.

Ten Things I Love About Boston:

  1. The accent! You either love it or hate it. I love it. Say it with me: pahk the cah in Hahvad Yahd.
  2. Southie was my home in Boston. The grit, the old school Southie folks, the bars, the silly milk crates to “save” your shoveled parking spot are all things I hold near and dear to my heart.
  3. The Playwright was my old stomping ground in Southie. It’s the epitome of a Southie bar as far as I’m concerned — crowded, loud and the Sam of the season in everyone’s glasses (and spilled all over the floor). It’s the kind of place where the waitress runs out the door after you, chasing you down the sidewalk if you genuinely forget to tip her (true story).
  4. Fenway Park turned me into a baseball fan. Growing up outside of St. Louis, I guess I’m supposed to be a Cardinals fan like the rest of my family. But I never cared much about baseball when I lived there. As a kid, I didn’t go to ball games that often, and when I did, the little fat girl in me was more interested in the nachos and ice-cream. It wasn’t until I moved to Boston and experienced Fenway Park that I developed any interest in baseball. Red Sox Nation sucked me in.
  5. The South End is one of my favorite Boston neighborhoods. It’s charming, picturesque Boston at its best. Think tree-lined, cobblestone streets; brownstones; wine and cheese shops; community gardens; restaurants galore…
  6. The Back Bay is another adorable Boston neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and great shopping — everything from unique boutiques to high-end fashion.
  7. The food scene in Boston is pretty fabulous. Now, I’m biased to Chicago, but Boston is #2 on my list. I could never pick a single favorite restaurant in Boston, although I will say that I love pretty much everything that Barbara Lynch has created, especially The Butcher Shop and its neighbor across the street, B & G Oysters.
  8. The Cape is the best Boston getaway, and not just during the obvious summertime months. It’s gorgeous in the autumn, too, with all the leaves changing color. But yes, the Cape is at its best in the summer when you can bask in the sun all day long, then refuel with a big, fat lobster roll and a Sam Summer.
  9. The Westin Boston Waterfront is clearly the wild card on this list. I’ve never even stayed there. But it holds a special place in my heart because it’s where my husband and I had our first unofficial date (ironically, we had a couple of unofficial first dates…) at this awful New Year’s Eve party in 2008.
  10. Patriot’s Day/Marathon Monday was, like I said, always such a fun day when I lived in Boston. It’s unfortunate that it’s been marred, but on Monday, the runners will run again and the strength of the city will no doubt prevail.

Wanderlust Wednesday: Nice, France

Nice, France
Nice, France

It’s spring break season, which means flying any place warm and beachy will cost a small fortune at the moment. Still, I can’t help but reminisce of hot, sun-drenched days and my toes in the sand, or rocks, as the case may be. Heck no, I never went to Nice on spring break (more like Negril, Jamaica or South Padre Island, Texas!), but Nice is what comes to mind when I think of my favorite beach experiences.

Wanderlust Wednesday: St. Thomas USVI

Playing co-pilot
St. Thomas to San Juan, August 2010

Yep, that’s me in the co-pilot seat. It’s still frigid in Chicago, and I continue to long for warm, sunny days — like the ones we enjoyed in St. Thomas on our honeymoon.

I had no idea that I’d be sitting next to the pilot on the puddle-jumper on the first leg of our trip home, though. When the pilot pulled out his laminated dry erase takeoff checklist (true story) I got a little rattled. Obviously all went well, though!

Wanderlust Wednesday: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago lakefront 2010
Chicago lakefront

This winter in Chicago has been miserable. Brutal. Frustrating. (I could think of another F word, too.) You get the point. I know we’re not alone, and I feel equally badly for… pretty much the rest of the country, too.

At times like these, I need to frequently remind myself of the best time of year in our fine city — summertime! Just four months and two days to go… but who’s counting.