Archive for the 'vacation' Category

Fun!

Wow, what a fun and exciting week it’s been. I’m finally back–exhausted, hungover, sunburned, and still feeling like I’m on a rocking boat, but it was so worth it. I want to be back right now in the hot, gorgeous weather instead of the dreary clouds that I’m used to here in Pittsburgh.

Here are some cruise highlights for you:

We sailed on the Enchantment of the Seas through Royal Caribbean. It was a pretty big boat:

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Full of not-so-big rooms and even smaller bathrooms:

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We played BINGO but unfortunately didn’t win any money. I did however walk away with an awesome BINGO stuffed animal. I guess it was a consolation prize.

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First stop was Key West. I pity the fools still in Boston.

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It was absolutely gorgeous. The weather the entire trip was sunny and hot—just what I like. I determined that I really need to move somewhere warm because I’m just so much happier when I’m not surrounded by clouds and cold.

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We made lots of new friends on the trip.

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I spent lots of time reading out on the deck. It was so peaceful.

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What’s a cruise without drinking? I had a chocolate martini which was absolutely divine. It tasted like a milkshake!

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Next stop: Cozumel. We boarded a speedboat and went about 30 minutes out to a private beach where we biked and snorkeled, layed on the beach, had a Mexican feast, and I got to practice my Spanish with the hottie tour guides. They loved me–I think they were just intrigued by how unbelievably pale I was-I’m not sure if they ever saw someone so white before, haha.

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We also saw Mayan ruins:

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The water was gorgeous:

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The crew was great and they left us fun towel animals in the room:

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The waiters even sang and danced for us:
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It was a great vacation, and while I was sad to come home, it was ok because I had some celebrating to do! Yesterday was my 22nd BIRTHDAY!!! I got back to my house around 7:30 pm and got started on an interesting night. I had a birthday drink with my family. My cousin, who is an under 3-hr marathon running training for an Ironman was in town and wanted to go for a quick run with me. This is where the poor decisions of the night began, but, hey, that’s what birthdays are all about, right? 

After my drunk 20 minute jog sprint, I came home and showered super-fast and hit the bars with my friends. There I spoke the famous last words: “But this long island iced tea doesn’t even taste like alcohol!” and I think we can all guess where the night went from there.

I’m sad my indulgent week is over, but it was definitely fun and I’ll remember *most* of it forever.

European Adventures

I had a lot of fun recapping my Israel trip so I was pretty excited to reminisce about my European adventures as well.

Fall Semester of my Junior year I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain. I was part of a “Business and Society” Program and all my classes were taught in Spanish and I lived with a host family. While I enjoyed my semester abroad for the most part, it just didn’t compare to my amazing summer in Israel. The kids on my program were fun but I didn’t make the same connections as I had with my Israel friends, and I did not like my host family at all. The family consisted of a mom, dad, a 7 year old, and a 17 year old. Unfortunately they weren’t all that friendly and didn’t make a great effort to get to know me. I really think that my not-so-great living experience definitely negatively tainted my semester, but I don’t regret going at all. I had an amazing time traveling and got to visit and experience so many different cultures. It was great!

Ok, this will be long but here we go:

Sevilla:

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Madrid:

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Churros y chocolate. HOLY YUMMMMMMM! 

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Lagos, Portugal:

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Yes, those are shots of absinthe. Let’s just say, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I’d like to keep it that way.

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We had quite an adventure getting back from Portugal. We actually missed the last bus of the day and proceeded to get home by 1) taking a train 2) followed by a bus 3) followed by a ferry 4) followed by another bus. Definitely another time where I felt like I was on the Amazing Race!

Paris: My Favorite City on Earth

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One of my good friends that I made in Israel is French and had an apartment in the Marais district. I stayed with him for a few nights and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was so great seeing Paris with the help of a Parisian. We obviously stopped at a famous Falafel place to relive our Israel trip. First of all, the falafel was amazing and it really brought back memories of the summer since everyone was speaking Hebrew!

Granada:

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My Mom and sister came to visit me! It was one of the highlights of my trip!

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Of of the top 10 funniest moments of my life happened on this trip! We were out to dinner one night and my mom wanted me to order for her since she speaks no Spanish, but it was in a very touristy area and the menu was in English so I told her to just order for herself in English. Well, she must have taken me a little too literally because in the most exaggerated British accent I have ever heard she goes “I’ll have the lammmmmb chops” My sister and I lost it. It was hysterical! We joke about it to this day!

We also ordered some delectable chocolate cake:

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Florence:

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I don’t know if you can tell, but that is Penis shaped pasta! I’m so mature.

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Getting out of Italy was also quite an adventure. Our flight left at like 6 am and instead of paying for another night at a hostel we thought it would be a good idea to just get to the airport when we were done going out for the night and spend the night there. Well, apparently airports in Italy aren’t open 24/7! They kicked us out and we spent a few hours in the freezing cold! As you can tell, we put on every single piece of clothing we brought with us. Oh, and that man is some random Italian who decided to befriend us! He didn’t speak much English but it was fun trying to communicate with him!

Barcelona, my favorite city in Spain:

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Morocco:

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I’m wish I could tell you that these are rubber chickens. They’re not. I ate strictly vegetarian that weekend!

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Looking back at these pictures makes me want to travel again so badly! I had some really great adventures and these pictures don’t even begin to show all the amazing places I saw. 

Now that I’ve been to Europe and the Middle East, I think my next journey should be to South America—anyone want to join me?

Reminiscing

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my summer in Israel back in 2007. It was the best time of my life and I miss it so much. Never before have I felt so genuinely happy, carefree, satisfied with myself, free, [insert any and every positive adjective you can think of]. This trip occurred in the midst of my unhappy college experience and right after a really tough period in my life.

I did something totally uncharacteristic of me and enrolled in a program at the University of Haifa to learn Hebrew. I went not knowing a single person, and I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous. But after my scary adventure of getting myself from the U.S. to Tel Aviv and then somehow finding a way to Haifa, things just fell into place. I made amazing, life-long friends from all over the world. And it was the first time in a long time (and now the last time in a long time) that I hadn’t counted down the days waiting for something to change. I was content and loved every day and every minute, and even wished time would slow down so that I could stay there for longer. I really hope that I can feel like that again!

Anyway, since today is so dreary and grey, I thought I would show you some pictures of happy, sunny, beautiful Israel.

Haifa:

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The Western Wall:

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I had a really emotional experience the first time I came here. It is just so big, and so old and represents so much. Throughout the centuries countless people have died to protect it and everything it symbolizes. I wish I could be more eloquent about it, but basically it just gave me the chills being there. There is a tradition that I took part in: When you go to the wall you write down your wishes, dreams, prayers, and anything you want to tell God. Then you fold up the paper and stick it in the cracks of the wall. It was such a moving experience and I felt such a deep religious connection that I haven’t ever experienced before.

Jordan:

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After my program was over, a friend I made there and I travelled for a week. We felt like we were on the Amazing Race since we were constantly moving and visiting amazing places. One day we went to Petra, Jordan. It was such a bizarre experience crossing the border, and I have to admit I was a little bit scared. We pretty much just walked across, it was crazy.

Petra:
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The ancient city of Petra is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. And with good reason, it was amazing! The buildings are built directly into the mountain. I have no clue how they managed that, it was spectacular! Look at how small the people are in comparison!

Border Crossing:

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So, being blonde and obviously American, I was sort of a target for unwanted attention during my time abroad. My friends all unanimously declared me the winner of ‘Being hit on my the most sketchy guys’ award. When we were leaving Jordan to go back to Israel, the guard asked me if he could take a picture with me. Now, I obviously didn’t want to piss off a border guard and somehow not be allowed out of the country, so I obliged. Well….about 5 seconds after this picture was taken he legit grabbed my ass!! I’m not even kidding! I was shocked, and had no idea how to react. Let’s just say we got out of there fast.

Masada:

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We got up early one morning to climb Mt. Masada. This is not an easy hike, especially in the midst of summer in a desert! Even though we left before sunrise it was excruciatingly hot, but so worth it when we got to see the sun rise.

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Ein Gedi:

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I’m not sure how to flip this picture! But here we are in literally an oasis in the middle of a desert. You know how when you do relaxation exercises and you are supposed to think of a relaxing, peaceful place; this is what I think of!

Steelers Yarmulke : 

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Yep, we’re everywhere : )

Sunset over Jerusalem:

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Going though all those pictures just makes me want to go back even more! 

I hope you enjoyed them, if you want I can do a recap of my European adventures sometime too!

See you later : )

Best Dad Ever

I seriously have the best Dad in the world! He got up at 3 this morning to drive 11 hours to come visit me for the weekend. He’s only going to be here for a short time, so the drive is almost as long as the time he’s going to spend in Boston. I’m so thankful that he’s here—he’s my best friend and we have so much fun together!

I got up early to do some homework and pack. The hotel we’re staying in is so nice compared to my teeny tiny room at school. I love it and never want to leave! I started my day as usual with a big bowl of cereal. Then I was very productive and went to the gym for a great workout and headed into work for a few hours. 

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The original plan was to go out for linner (lunch/dinner) at around 3 when my dad got here so I was going to switch my lunch and snack and had a Kashi Chocolate Turtle Roll bar to hold me over. This was my first time trying the bar and I’m not sure if I would get it again. I really liked the flavor and the different textures but it was SO HARD to eat! Seriously, I thought I was going to pull a tooth trying to bite this thing! I’m glad I was alone while I was eating it because I sure looked ridiculous gnawing away at this thing!

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We found out that the restaurant we wanted to go to didn’t open until 5:30 so we wandered around before and stumbled upon a little pub The Thirsty Scholar. We really just wanted to get out of the cold, but ended up finding a great little place! Once inside we found out that it was actually featured on the Food Network in one of Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels. There was a big beer selection and the food looked really good too. I decided to have a Pomegranate Martini which was great and I was definitely a little buzzed afterward! These things could be really dangerous though because they were delicious and didn’t even taste like alcohol! I wish it was a little closer to campus because it was a fun little place and so cheap! My martini was only $4.50!!! In Boston this is incredible—a drink like this would normally cost $10-12!

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After our drinks it was time to head over to EVOO for dinner. This restaurant was delicious! It was a very small, intimate, chic place with exceptional service and very innovative, creative dishes. We were starving by the time we sat down and gladly devoured the homemade bread and breadsticks with olive oil with balsamic and cheese to dip. The breadsticks were so crispy and flavorful with lots of different herbs and spices. So good!

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As an appetizer we split the 3 spring rolls with 2 dipping sauces. I’m not sure exactly what was in each spring roll but my favorite was a smoked salmon one. The peanut dipping sauce was really good too!

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For our main dishes my dad chose the Duck, Duck, Goose: Duck Confit, Seared Hudson Valley Duck Foie Gras, Slices of Goose Breast, Lentils, Little Green Beans, Verrill Farm’s Wilted Greens and Sherry – Ginger Sauce

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Of course I had a bite and it was excellent! Everything was very tender and flavorful, the duck literally fell off the bone. The seasonings were perfect too, and my dad didn’t let any of the amazing sauce go to waste–he sopped it all up with the great bread.

For my meal I chose the Sake Kasu Marinated Baked Gloucester Cod Fillet: with Tempura Fried Potato Maki, Apple – Seaweed Salad, Parsnip – Miso Vinaigrette and Crushed Wasabi Peas.

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It was unbelievable! The fish was cooked absolutely perfectly and I loved the sauce. The tempura potato was great too, it was so creamy, comforting, and satisfying. The salad and crushed wasabi peas gave the dish the perfect combination of flavors and textures by provided a little bit of crunch and spice. So good!

We came back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit before breaking out the desserts that we bought earlier. We split an almond biscotti and chocolate brownie. Both were so good! I love desserts : )

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Today was a great day and tomorrow is going to be even better—we have some really fun stuff planned that I can’t wait to tell you about! See you tomorrow!

DC Deliciousness- Day 3

Today was our last day in DC and I was definitely sad to leave. I absolutely loved the city and could really see myself living there when I graduate. There is just so much to do and see, and I just love the atmosphere! 

I woke up this morning still pretty stuffed from my midnight cake-eating extravaganza from the night before so I definitely didn’t need a pre-workout snack. I hit the gym, came back, showered, and packed up to leave : (

Breakfast

We took the easy way out and just had breakfast at the hotel this morning. I started with a big bowl of fresh fruit (yummmm!) 

And ordered an egg white omelet with “all the veggies you have.” It was really good and way filling. We ate breakfast around 9:30 and weren’t able to sit down for lunch until 3:30! Now, I was definitely hungry by the time we could eat but I wasn’t starving all morning by any means. I guess we were just too busy having fun to realize how late it got!

Lunch

When we finally had time to eat we needed to find somewhere, and fast! Luckily I spotted a Corner Bakery Cafe right on the corner so we went in. I loved it! I wish we had one of these around me, I could easily see it becoming a staple in my diet.

I ordered the Harvest Salad with roasted chicken, crisp green apples, toasted walnut and currants tossed with mixed greens, balsamic vinaigrette and harvest crisps. This was so good. I loved the combinations of flavors and textures. The salty, sweet, and tart, the crispy, crunchy, and chewy. It was so good. The crips were amazing too. They were similar in texture to Melba Toast but really, really flavorful. Maybe it’s because I was really hungry when I ate this (which always makes things taste better!) but I would say it was one of the best salads I’ve had in quite a while!

Dinner?

Due to our late lunch we didn’t have to stop for dinner on the way home. I really wasn’t hungry for a meal so I just popped up some kettle corn and grabbed a nectarine. Also, while blogging I’ve snacked on some yogurt and cereal but couldn’t take a picture because my camera was busy uploading! 

Whew.

So in conclusion: DC has great food : )

Now I am exhausted after a busy but very fun weekend. I have some serious blog-reading to catch up on but that might have to wait until tomorrow, I just can’t wait to collapse in my bed!

Goodnight!

Sarah Does DC-Day 2

Saturday was even busier than Friday! We were go-go-go from about 7am until 12:30 that night! It was worth it though because the weather was perfect and we had a blast sightseeing, museum-ing, and of course: eating!

Pre-workout Snack

I got up bright and early and had 1/2 of this Kashi bar before I hit the hotel gym. It was really nice, plenty of brand new equipment, each with individual tvs! This was the first time in months I’ve run on a treadmill and it actually was sort of a nice change from outside. I liked being able to play with the speed and incline. It’s funny looking back to when I first started running and would struggle to keep it at 5.5 and now I’m rocking 7.0 with an incline!

Breakfast

Even though we were up early and ready to start our day, it seems like the rest of DC was not…We had a pretty hard time finding a breakfast restaurant that was appealing to us. We played it safe and just got Au Bon Pain. I had some oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon (and a few chocolate chips!!) and split some ripe cantaloupe with my mom. I have to say I was seriously disappointed with this oatmeal, it just doesn’t come anywhere close to completing with my beloved oats that I make myself!

Lunch

In between museums we stopped and grabbed a quick lunch downtown. It was nothing special: a very mediocre tuna salad and some watermelon. I needed fuel to get me through the day and this did the job.

Dinner

We had another fabulous dinner on Saturday. We ate at Zaytinya, a mediterranean “mezze” restaurant. This is basically just the Mediterranean version of tapas. I loved it because we were able to order lots of little things so we could try tons of great food instead of just committing to 1 dish. This is a great restaurant to go to with a group of friends because everyone can pick a few things that sound really good to them and then everyone shares.

The restaurant itself was really cool and refreshing. The decor was simple and very mediterranean–lots of blues and whites. It really reminded me of some of the beach restaurants I ate at in Haifa last summer.

To start they brought out warm pita bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping. The bread was so light and fluffy and puffy! And warm out of the oven, it was amazing.

My mom and I split:

Hummus

Grilled baby octopus, marinated onions, capers and yellow split pea puree:

Roasted Cauliflower with sultans, caper leaves and pine nut puree:

Mushrooms sautéed with dates and toasted almonds:

Turkish braised lamb shank with an eggplant-kefalograviera puree:

Everything was even better than it looks/sounds. My favorites were the mushrooms followed closely by the octopus, but really everything was to die for.

Dessert

We were out late seeing the play Shear Madness, which was HILARIOUS and when we finally got back to the hotel around 11:30 we were in desperate need of some dessert. We headed to a little place around the corner and “split” fresh berries and 5 layer chocolate cake. Now when I say “split” I really mean my mom had 2 bites and I devoured the rest. This was by far the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten in my life. I am really picky about my chocolate cake—often it’s just too dry for me. This was so moist and fudgy and perfect. Words can’t even describe how good this was. 

DC Tastes Fabulous-Day 1

Hello again blogging world! I’ve missed you : )

Wow. This weekend was incredible. We were only in DC for a short time but we sure made the most of it. We stayed extremely busy, saw lots of sights, ate tons of great food, and did an insane amount of walking. It was great. I have tons of pictures so I’ll try to keep this brief and let the photos do the talking!

Breakfast

Simple and filling to get me through the 4.5 hour drive: Yogurt, red pear, flax, fiber one. 

Lunch

For lunch on Friday we ate in Georgetown at Bangkok Joe’s. This was a great Thai restaurant full of American influences. The menu was so interesting with a whole page of dumplings. Everything looked so good! I definitely want to go back sometime and try the sweet potato and butternut squash potsticker, it sounded delicious!

The restaurant was very cool and contemporary and the drink menu was just as interesting as the food menu. There was a ginger martini that I was dying to try but we had a very full and busy day ahead of us and we all know by now how strongly alcohol affects me so I sadly stuck with water.

For lunch my mom and I split the Summer Rolls:

And Seafood Salad. This was so light, fresh, and filling. It was called the “Yum Seafood Salad” and I definitely think it stood up to its name : )

Snack

After tons and tons of walking, we definitely needed a pick-me-up! I got a recommendation to try out Tangy-Sweet Yogurt so of course we scouted it out. I was dumb though and never wrote down the exact address so we basically accosted some poor man on the street when we saw him with his yogurt and he pointed us in the right direction.

I got the original with mango, kiwi, blackberries, and an accidental blueberry that somehow found its way in! It was so good—tangy yet sweet. It was a nice, healthy change from my usual DQ Blizzards!

Dinner

We went to Zola for dinner and it was beyond amazing. The ambiance of the restaurant was just so cool! It was stylish and chic. Zola is located right next to the Spy Museum which is equally as cool!

Crispy bread:

Butter Lettuce Salad with roasted Marcona almonds, oranges, ancient gouda, sherry syrup:

Blood Orange Glazed Black Cod with crisped fennel pollen spaetzle, gold beet, orange and shaved fennel salad. This was absolutely incredible. I seriously would have licked the plate if I wasn’t in such a fancy restaurant!

And for dessert we split the Chocolate Bomb: Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Ice Cream and raspberry glaze. Heaven.


Email Me

Email me any questions, comments, concerns, or if you just want to chat! ourkitchenadventures@gmail.com
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