Friday, April 20, 2012

Columbine High School

Today marks the 13 year anniversary of the tragedy that took place at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO. My memories of that day are still quite vivid - coming home from college to find my mom and brother watching CNN’s breaking news about a school shooting. Being a student at the time, the story really resonated with me and I remained glued to the TV to soak up as much information as I could get. If this could happen in a safe suburb, this could happen anywhere.

If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you know that Dan and I like to visit historic locations. That includes both places where fun and memorable things happened as well as somber sites where unfortunate events took place. Even though it might seem morbid to some, when we realized how close Columbine High School was to where we were staying in Colorado, we decided to take a quick drive there. To remain respectful, I took one quick picture from inside the car and we went on our merry way. Had we gotten out, we would have seen the beautiful memorial that commemorates those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cobblestone Streets

This past weekend saw some really great weather in NYC and Dan and I took full advantage. On Sunday, we headed into Manhattan, something we rarely do on weekends. To us, Manhattan = work so we usually stay FAR away when we don’t HAVE to be here. But the weather was just TOO nice not to visit one of my recent favorite areas, the uber trendy Meatpacking District.

Our first stop was the High Line. A quick history: It all started back in 1847, when the City of New York authorized street-level railroad tracks right here on Manhattan’s industrial West Side. Years of accidents between freight trains and street level traffic resulted in the West Side Improvement Project, a makeover that lifted tracks thirty feet into the air, allowing trains to roll directly into nearby factories and warehouses. Starting in 1934, trains travelled the High Line for almost 50 years, free to come and go without causing street-level traffic or safety hazards. Drops in railroad traffic led to the High Line’s closing in 1980, leaving the historic structure under threat of demolition. For years, community activists and High Line supporters fought together to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park, finally gaining the City’s support in 2002. Construction on the park began in 2006, lasting all the way until this summer. The project has left the High Line transformed, with its history still preserved.

Next, we stopped for a breather in the lobby of The Standard hotel. We haven’t gotten around to staying here yet, but I would love to! (Keep reading for a special offer!) In addition to having two restaurants, The Standard Grille & Biergarten, the Standard also has a lobby bar (The Living Room) and a rooftop bar. The views of the Hudson are supposed to be incredible, so this place is on my must-visit for the summer.

Afterwards, we walked mindlessly around the area. There is just something about walking around on cobblestone streets that I really enjoy! While I window-shopped at high-end boutiques such as Tory Burch, Trina Turk and my favorite, Christian Louboutin, Dan may or may not have run into former New York Knick, Larry Johnson. We’re still not 100% sure if it was him or not, but we like to believe that it was.

No trip to the area would be complete without a stop to one of my favorite blocks in all of Manhattan - West 13th right off of Greenwich Street. There is a wall on the corner that always has some really artistic graffiti. Unfortunately, the wall is pretty bare now, but has had some really fun designs in the last few times I have stopped by.

My friends over at Visa wanted me to share a great offer to my readers for a stay at the above mentioned, Standard Hotel. From now until May 31, 2012, Visa Signature® cardholders can enjoy 20% off when they book through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. This offer is subject to availability. For offer details, please visit: - take advantage of this if you can!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Favorites: Double Dose of Culture

Being a native New Yorker, I have taken advantage of the endless array of culture at my fingertips. I’ve been to countless Broadway productions and most of the big museums in the city. However, despite going to college just steps away from both, two places I had never been to were the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall. I’m happy to report that within the last week, I have had the pleasure of attending shows at both!

Last Thursday night, Dan and I saw a production of Macbeth at the Met. Since I am obsessed with the show Sleep No More, we both figured seeing the story unfold in more of a linear fashion could help fill some of the gaps we both have on what actually happens. Taking advantage of a Travelzoo deal, I purchased discount tickets for orchestra seats that included a coupon for a free glass of champagne. Score! The opera itself did not disappoint. The voices coming off the stage were amazing and while minimal, the sets were impressive as well. I was a bit worried that we were so far back, but the way the seats are positioned, and how the stage slopes upward, seeing was not a problem. Much to the relief of Dan, who conveniently left our binoculars sitting on his desk! Having the subtitles in the seat back was extremely helpful for us to follow what was actually being said. All in all, the opera was a really enjoyable experience that I would certainly go back to.

Earlier this week, the president of my company called me into his office to give me his tickets to a performance of St. Luke’s Orchestra at Carnegie Hall that he could not attend. I’ll admit that I had preconceived notions when it came to the opera, but I had no idea what to expect of Carnegie Hall. Walking through the doors for the first time was a little intimidating, but when I saw the understated elegance of the interior, I was quickly put at ease. The usher showed us to our seats - second row, on the floor and I was again blown away. We were SO close to the performers. The acoustics in Carnegie Hall are like none I have ever experienced and the talent on that stage was immeasurable. Hearing the music of Mozart performed live was fantastic and I am so thankful that I was gifted these tickets!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 10 Scenic Drives - USA

If you're an avid reader of my blog, you already know that Dan and I love taking road trips.  When Lonely Planet tweeted a link to the top 10 road trips in the US, I bookmarked it knowing that I would want to share it with my readers.  Well, here she is!

1. Hana Hwy (Hwy 360), Maui, Hawaii: 38 miles from Pauwela to Hana
The most spectacular coastal drive in all Hawaii, the Hana Hwy winds its way deep into jungle valleys and back out above a rugged coastline. Not for the faint of heart, the road is a real cliff-hugger, with 54 one-lane bridges, roadside waterfalls and head-spinning views. Gas up, pack a lunch and bring your swimsuit!

2. Turquoise Trail (Hwy 14), New Mexico: 45 miles from Albuquerque to Santa Fe
The Turquoise Trail has been a major trade route since at least 2000 BC. Today it’s the scenic back road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, lined with quirky communities. Sights along the way include Tinkertown (an animated miniature village) and gorgeous desert scenery.

3. Columbia River Hwy (Hwy 30), Oregon: 74 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles
Finished in 1915, this gorgeous winding highway was the first paved road in the Northwest and America’s first scenic highway. It was also part of the Oregon Trail and the last leg of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. There are gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower displays in summer and awe-inspiring views all year round. Hikers have plenty of trailheads to choose from, and cyclists can cruise two stretches of the old highway renovated for non-vehicle use.

4. Pig Trail Byway (Hwy 23), Arkansas: 80 miles from Ozark to Eureka Springs
Just north of the town of Ozark (no, you are not yet in the Ozark Mountains), this spectacular drive is lined with wild echinacea and lilies, and climbs through Ozark National Forest and into the mountains. This is an excellent way to reach the friendly town of Eureka Springs.

5. Hwy 12, Utah: 107 miles from Torrey to Bryce Canyon National Park
Locals call this ‘color country’ for the eye-popping hues that saturate this Southwest landscape. This most scenic of roads passes through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, ending at the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.

6. Overseas Highway (Hwy 1), Florida: 160 miles from Miami to Key West
Locals call this ‘color country’ for the eye-popping hues that saturate this Southwest landscape. This most scenic of roads passes through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, ending at the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.

7. Delmarva Peninsula (Hwys 50 and 13): 210 miles from Annapolis, Maryland, to Virginia Beach, Virginia
These unbroken miles of bird-dotted wetlands and serene waterscapes are hours from one of America’s busiest urban corridors. Virginia’s Eastern Shore is full of dock towns where watermen live off the Chesapeake Bay, and has the feel of a remote, maritime escape. The flat topography is made for bicycling.

8. Route 66 (initial section): 300 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to St Louis, Missouri
America’s ‘Mother Road’ kicks off in Chicago on Adams St just west of Michigan Ave, but in Illinois, much of the old road exists only in scattered sections paralleling the interstate. Still, there are many roadside attractions and oddball stops to be taken, plus pie shops and drive-ins for eateries.

9. Pacific Coast Hwy (Hwy 1), California: 332 miles from San Francisco to Santa Barbara
No trip to California is complete without a jaunt along the almost surreally scenic Hwy 1, one of the US’s most iconic roads. Slipping out of the City by the Bay, the narrow road ribbons above the ocean, overlooking beaches cast like pearls on one side, and soaring redwood trees on the other. Slow down - this region wants to be savored, not gulped.

10. Blue Ridge Parkway: 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
The southwestern tip of Virginia is the most rugged part of the state. Turn onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and you’ll immediately plunge into dark strands of dogwood and fir, fast streams and white waterfalls. Wildflowers bloom in spring and fall colors are spectacular.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Missouri Recs Needed!

Holy crappers...we leave for Missouri in exactly 3 weeks and my clipboard of fun is looking quite empty.  So this is the post where I turn it over to my faithful readers.  We're stopping in St. Louis and Kansas City.  Where should we visit/eat/drink/gamble/avoid?  Any fun things to see on the cross-state drive?  Hoping that my pleas are heard our there in the blogosphere!