Grand Cayman.

November 30th 2017

I can’t say the Cayman Islands are somewhere I was dying to go. I discovered them while searching for a vacation spot that was close (under 4 hours) with tropical weather, a nice hotel and – most importantly – no zika.

Grand Cayman was it. A travel agent friend recommended the new Kimpton Seafire hotel as “a breath of fresh air” on the island, a 5-star option aside from the “tired” Ritz Carlton.

So, we planned a family trip for my mother’s 63rd birthday.

Let me stop for a second to tell you that Georgina, my almost-1-year-old daughter did. not. sleep. the entire 5 days. We’re talking up all night, carrier walks at 1am and watching Octonauts on the iPad at 4am.

And still, it was the perfect vacation. (Shoutout to PopPop who came and got her every morning at 5am!)

The hotel was great. Aside from the tacky carpet in the lobby, it’s lovely, with clean, big rooms situated on a beautiful stretch of beach. Pro tip: Ask for down pillows and they’ll bring them, which according to my mother-in-law is something not even the fanciest of fancy hotels will do.

It’s also incredibly child-friendly, offering cribs, babysitters, a huge kiddie pool that my cranky daughter loved and a camp for kids over 5.

The highlight of the trip – aside from sunny 80 degree days and a warm, calm ocean and stingrays, which I’ll get to later – was the restaurants. I know, I know…it’s not what you’d expect but Oh. MG.

Our favorites:

Blue by Eric Ripert: Fancy and expensive, but a total bargain if you’re comparing it to Ripert’s Le Bernardin (which people do).

Calypso Grill: Recommended by my friend Casey (who lives part-time on the island) this casual, colorful Island-y spot with fresh seafood is “everyone’s favorite.” Ours included. The crab cakes were a win, plus the chicken liver and lamb chops.

Ave: Inside of the Seafire sits this elegant restaurant that drew comparisons to Gotham Bar & Grill back in NYC.

Duke’s Seafood & Rib Shack: This dive-bar slash restaurant did not look like it was going to have good food…but oh, did it ever. Opt for the ribs or jambalaya.

The food at the hotel pool, which can often be a miss, was fresh and delicious. The arugula salad was a sleeper hit.

On the activities front, you cannot NOT charter a boat. Go with Red Sail Sports (ask for Captain Dave and Trish!) and take it to Starfish Cove, the mangrove forest and MOST IMPORTANTLY Stingray City where you must ask to meet Frisbee, the genetically deformed stingray without a stinger who you will snuggle and kiss for 7 years of good luck! Please say hi for me.

I wish I could have taken Frisbee home. And slept more. But those things aside, Grand Cayman is an easy, delightful, family-friendly vacation for even the zika fearless.

PARIS.

October 15th 2017

Everything about Paris is a cliché – the croissants! The Seine! The Eiffel Tower! But that’s what happens when a place is so amazing, so wonderful, so magical that every single person who experiences it loves it as much as you do. All the best things in the world are cliché, non?

ITINERARIES, BY AREA:

Rue Saint Honoré + Tuileries (1st, 2nd Arrt):
Head to the Tuileries with baguettes and a book. After, check out the Gran Palais (there’s a Dior exhibit now that’s supposed to be fabulous) and/or Musee de l’Orangerie for the most epic Monets. Then stroll Honoré, where all the big name stores have flagships: Lanvin (for the best men’s sneakers), YSL, Balenciaga, Louboutin, etc. Check out Collette (to say bye before it closes December 20th). Lunch options include LouLou (at the Gran Palais), Hotel Costes or Le Castiglione (outdoor seating + French Onion Soup).

The Marais… (4th Arrt):
Aka the “Soho” of Paris. It’s crowded with narrow sidewalks and lots of tourists, along with cool shopping and art. Two of my favorite museums are there (the Pompidou which currently has an amazing Hockney exhibit AND the Picasso museum, where I would highly recommend a private tour). All the boutiques are there – Eres, Carven, Isabel, Iro and Manoush. To eat I usually opt for something quick and easy like La Cerise Sur la Pizza for yummy Italian-style pies or Instagram-fave L’As du Falafel.
…and Upper Marais or “Haute Marais” (3 Arrt)
If you walk long enough through the Marais you’ll end up in the Upper Marais. It’s a little more gritty but that’s what I like about it. Visit the Almine Rech art gallery (there’s a cool Chloe Wise exhibit up now which, fun fact, apparently sold out so quickly that Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t even get his hands on a painting). There’s also the Daniel Templon gallery with George Segal sculptures on display.

Left Bank (6th, 7th Arrt):
J’adore the Left Bank. Walk Rue de Seine for gorgeous, high-end galleries packed with Jeanneret chairs and Royère sofas. Stroll on Saint Germaine, have a coffee outside at Cafe de Flore. Find Deyrolle, go to the second floor, you’re welcome. Other favorite streets: Rue Jacob, Quai Voltaire, Rue de l’Universite. Lunch at Ralph’s for the scene or Rue de Comptoir for the food. Have another coffee at Bar Du Marche, which sits on the ultimate corner for people watching. Walk around the Luxembourg Gardens. Find stores like Pom d’Api and the Bonpoint outlet and buy gifts for all the babies in your life.

The Bastille (11th Arrt):
This is our new favorite neighborhood. Super cool and young, the “Williamsburg” or maybe now more like the “Greenpoint” of Paris. Start at the Isabel Marant on Rue Charonne (it’s huge!), and walk that whole area for under-the-radar boutiques. My husband and I always wonder where the French people eat in Paris so we asked my favorite sales lady at Isabel Marant. She sent us to Petit Keller a cute Japanese lunch spot with checkered table cloths and rice bowl concoctions of the day topped with seafood or pork (if they have the pork, get it) and an amazing adzuki bean dip.

The Canals (The 10th Arrt)
You can easily walk from the 11th (above) to the 10th, which is way less charming but kind of fascinating. Simply find the start of Boulevard Beaumarchais and follow it up (along the way there’s cute stores: BonTon, Souer, Edition M.R. for men, Maison Kitsune and a delicious coffee shop: Neighbours). The real reason for going to the 10th, though, is Du Pain et des Idees and their famous pastries – the pistachio paste “escargot” is a personal favorite.

Les Puces Flea Market (20th Arrt):
If you love furniture, vintage clothes and cool experiences, go here. It’s open Saturdays, Sundays and part of Mondays (I like going on Sunday, though, when the rest of Paris shuts down). Marché Paul Bert Serpette is the high-end part of the market where you’ll find the LaVerne, Paul Evans, etc. We bought a mint green dining table here. There’s also Marche Dauphin. Highlights for me include scouring for old Hermes ashtrays and vintage fur hats. Ma Cocotte is the spot for lunch.

FOOD:

Verjus. My favorite meal in Paris. You have to go with the flow – there’s one set menu and that’s it, so it’s not for picky people (though my husband is THE pickiest and he loved it).
Cobéa. Michelin star. Choose from a 4, 6 or 8 course set dinner. The food is elevated, thoughtful and absolutely delicious though I wouldn’t necessarily go for “vibe”.
Bistrot Paul Bert. Very popular, very classic, very good.
Chez Georges. (on Rue de Mail). It’s at the top of everyone’s Paris list for good reason. The portions are huge, the atmosphere is cool and Julia Child was a big fan.
La Belle Epoque. A “fashion” scene – with food (the burger!) that’s very good, too.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. I hesitate to put this on my list because it’s touristy…and there’s even one in Manhattan. BUT the original concept is French and it is straight-up good steak frites. There’s a secret recipe special sauce that sets them apart (rumored to have some type of liver component but don’t tell my husband that). There are also delicious fries, and fry refills. Line up early – it gets pretty packed.
Le Chateaubriand. I had read about this place everywhere – here, here and here. I was really persistent trying to get a reservation and at 5PM on Saturday our concierge got us in last minute. And…it was just…OK. The vibe was legit. Minimal. So French. The food wasn’t my favorite, but I would say for a place that changes its menu every day my miss could mean your hit.
Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos. Michelin Star. It’s open on Sunday so go then and do not leave without getting the black truffle macaroni dish.
L’atelier du Joel Robuchon. Sure it’s touristy but the one on St. Germain holds a special place in my heart. It’s just really beautiful food served at a really beautiful bar (and I love me a good bar meal).
La Fontaine de Mars. Another “fashion” spot that our interior designer recommended. Go for their traditional cassoulet.
Le Comptoir du Relais. Line up outside for as long as you must to get a table at this fabulously cool bistro. The menu’s only in French but if you like meat then you can’t go wrong with the daube de joue de boeuf coquillettes et carrottes. Stewed meat pasta with carrots. You’re welcome.
Les Deux Abeilles. My mother-in-law introduced me to this gem – a veritable French “ladies who lunch” spot with gourmet salads and the most delicious tomato tart you’ll ever have.

[Restaurants I haven’t been to yet but on my list: Septime, Clamato, Pottoka, Frenchie, David Toutain, Yam’tcha]

HOTELS:
Relais Christine is the chicest, most luxurious hotel you’ll find on the left bank, though it’s pricey and the level of service doesn’t compare to the right bank (subpar housekeeping + concierge). Because it’s an old mansion, some rooms have wacky configurations so the exact one you choose is important. The Garden Suite is so worth it. Hotel D’Aubusson is my more affordable go-to on the left bank. It’s cute and charming with tiny rooms but an unbeatable location. On the right bank, I think the Ritz is magical and George V is a classic (though neither comes cheap).

Sri Lanka.

August 24th 2017

My sister and I spent a month together traveling India in 2013 and have been trying to recreate that trip ever since (minus a few of her belly issues). Sri Lanka looked similar. On the map it looked like India’s adorable little sister. They had curry. There were cool temples and hikes and ELEPHANTS. Flights were cheap.

So off we went…24 hours of flying (+layover in Doha) and here’s what we did while there:

DAY 1: Colombo to Galle. Land at Bandaranaike International Airport at 3am, drive directly to Galle. There was no traffic and it still took us 2 hours longer than everyone said it would. This is the theme of Sri Lanka. Nothing is close. Everything is way, way farther than you’re told it is. Check in to Niyagama House (rated #1 hotel in Galle on TripAdvisor). We loved it though its distance from town while nice (it was removed in this lush green forest, super peaceful) was also unfortunate (because I think we missed out on really getting to know the town). We had breakfast at Galle Fort Hotel, checked out the actual Galle Fort (meh), explored the town. Highlights included massages at Galle Fort Spa (AMAZING) and lunch at AmanGalla (try to sneak in and see the pool). Take a tuk-tuk and explore outer Galle area (fruit and veggie markets, fisherman villages).

DAY 2: Galle. Wake up early (jetlaggg), meditate on Niyagama House roof as the sun rises, take the 3 mile walk around the Niyagama House property and then do aerial yoga with the proprietress (part of the reason we booked the hotel was that the food was supposed to be great – and it was – and the owner is a yoga instructor who specializes in aerial).

Visit Unawatuna Beach (everyone said it was a GORGEOUS beach – we walked back and forth trying to find the gorgeous beach, thought we were at the wrong place, but we weren’t soo…not that gorgeous FYI). We got massages at The Sanctuary Spa (not the best of our 5 ayurveda massages but great vibe – services are done in cool little tree houses with the beach breeze blowing in) then checked out the pagoda + Buddha, drank coconuts, etc. The whole area has a backpacker-y vibe without the energy or the actual backpackers. Another theme of Sri Lanka is that no one is there. It all feels very deserted.

For dinner, take a cooking class at Lucky Fort or Niyagama (we did it at Niyagama, it was yum.)

DAY 3: Galle to Tangelle. We stayed at Buckingham Place (it had amazing reviews…it was bad. Cold, dark and the food was gross and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere). We then took a 3 hour ride to Tangelle Beach (which was supposed to be much shorter). Honestly you could kind of skip it but it was VERY deserted when we were there (sidenote: I literally have no idea where all the other people are in Sri Lanka?!) and a cloudy day. The reason to go? The AmanWella is there. We had lunch and hung on their pretty stretch of beach. By ourselves. You could also go at night to see the turtles hatch in Rekawa but we passed when we read it was “like watching paint dry”.

DAY 4: Tangelle to Udawalawe National Park to Ella. This was a long day and it wasn’t even our longest drive. We woke up at 4:30am to take the two hour drive to Udawalawe National Park. Literally just typing Udawalawe gives me butterflies! The elephant safari here was the HIGHLIGHT of our trip/my life. 600+ elephants roam free (the only place there’s more is in Africa) and they’re everywhere. We watched them bathe, saw soo many babies and they all came within two feet from our 4-wheeler. If you can find our guide Nandu he is an angel. He is doing his part to conserve the park – he picked up litter everywhere and was so respectful of the elephants. He knew each and every one of them. (“She is like you, madam,” he said when we came across a 32 year old female).

The safari was supposed to be 3 hours but we were so obsessed we did two back to back safaris so we basically spent the whole day in the park until my sister had had enough and made us leave. I would have slept there. I would actually still be living there probably. The first safari was awesome because it was dawn so lots of animals but also more crowded with vehicles. The second safari was really quiet; we watched the elephants bathe and saw jackals devouring a baby buffalo. We also got to go further into the park to areas that people don’t usually see.

Afterwards we drove straight to Ella. About 4 hours. We thought it would be shorter. We stayed at the Mountain Heavens hotel. We really wanted to stay at 98 Acres but we booked nothing ahead of time and it was sold out. So I guess that’s where everyone is in Sri Lanka?

DAY 5: Ella. In the morning we realize that we really like Mountain Heavens (don’t get it confused with mount heaven aka mount hell). The hotel was nice – small and cute and the view is insane. Nicest view we saw in Ella. We loved Ella! Have cake at Little Folly and hang out with the owner. Take one of his walks. Go see the train – it’s so cute like a little toy. Get massages at Suwamadura but only if you’re ok with super creepy massages. It is a full (full!) body massage so nothing is off limits. Or maybe me and my sister just got molested? We also got a free extra hour that we didn’t pay for.

Dinner was a buffet at Zion View. You have to preorder it (and leave a deposit) earlier in the day. It was good – very clean, lively and great view.

DAY 6: Ella to Central Province. Spend the morning at 98 Acres – have lunch, use the facilities, etc. I had researched and researched and found this hotel called Taylor’s Hill that I decided we HAD to go to.

It was going to be perfect to break up the 6 hour drive to Kandy except it was literally terrible. It took us 6 hours just to get to central province (instead of 3) because we cheaped out and hired a non-English speaking driver who got very lost and was so weird – made us friend him on Facebook and told us our laughs or lives were beautiful and then didn’t understand another word we said including “please stop for a picture” and “how far away are we?” and “STOP THE VEHICLE”.

It would have been cool to stop in Nuwara Eliya on the way (we didn’t because of above driver mishap). It’s an interesting town that they call “little England” but not really worth a night because why be in England when you’re in Sri Lanka? FYI it’s also freezing in this one little specific area, like 20 degrees colder than the rest of the country – we could feel it just through the windows.

Taylor Hills was pretty. Doing it over, we probably would have just stayed another night in Ella, though, and gotten more massages. Or taken the train somewhere?

But we woke up had a leisurely morning at Taylor’s hill (it’s an old English tea plantation farmers home). It’s sort of a standard bed and breakfast like you’d find anywhere in England or New England. We visited the James Taylor tea plantation. Meh.

DAY 7: Central Province to Kandy. Stay at Theva house. Pre Order the 17 spice curry dinner. Watch the sunset in Kandy it’s absurdly beautiful. Whatever you do, don’t get pink eye and go to the public hospital on a Sunday, like I did.

DAY 8: Kandy. Visit the temple of the tooth (we went on Sri Lankan Independence Day so it was insanely crowded but apparently it’s always crowded which is part of the experience), visit a tea factory (or don’t because it’s not that exciting), visit the large walking Buddha (we liked this!) and the royal botanic gardens which is the Central Park of Kandy. Very pretty – bring a book! Have dinner again at theva house bc the special rice and curry was so good.

DAY 9. Kandy to Colombo. Usually I hate when people tell you to skip the place where the airport is (i.e. I’ve spent time in Guatemala City, Bangkok and a million other places that people have told me to skip) but really, you can totally skip Colombo.

The Perfect Summer Weekend in Maine

August 2nd 2017

My best friend Mike and I share a love for Georgia O’Keefe, Americana and the great open road. After an ayahuasca-filled adventure through New Mexico last year, we opted for a more tame all-you-can-eat tour of Maine this summer. Also, I’m pregnant.

DAY 1:

Mike rents us a car…all the way in Jersey City. (Note to self: No longer put Mike in charge of renting cars). The adventure begins. We download In the Garden of Beasts on audible and onto I-95 we go.

The drive is long. How do you make it feel less long? Stop at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. It’s a little out of the way – plus there’s an offensively long wait at peak hours – but tell me if you still care once you’re devouring White Clam pizza and a Margharita pie topped with roasted red peppers. Pro tip: Order 18″ and pack the leftovers to eat when you check into your hotel room in Kennebunkport at midnight (or was that just pregnant me?).

Speaking of hotels, I’ve never been so happy to see one as I was with The Kennebunkport Inn. It’s a little big inn – with more rooms than you’d think, right in the center of town.

DAY 2:

It’s time to no longer think in terms of traditional meals: There is no breakfast, lunch or dinner. There is only lobster.

On that note, we wake up and make our way to The Clam Shack when they open at 11. The order: Lobster rolls + Clam Chowder. Fun fact: It’s just called Clam Chowder here because it’s New England and there’s only one New England Clam Chowder. Duh.

Aside from The CandyMan, where I stock up on weird flavors of taffy like Root Beer Float and Key Lime Pie, the most exciting thing to do in Kennebunkport is to visit Walker’s Point, George H.W. Bush’s compound.

Following the map, Mike and I drove right up to his front gate before we were stopped by security and told to drive further along the road to a place where senior citizens were gathered admiring the 41st POTUS’ summer home.

Next up: Goose Rocks Beach. Stop for oysters/lobster cocktail (and a real cocktail) at The Tides Beach Club. Bonus: Eating there gives you parking access (otherwise it’s permit only near Goose Rocks Beach) and you can use their beach chairs, towels, etc.

Make the 2 hour drive to Camden.

We stayed at Lord Camden Inn (Mike found it…mental note to no longer put Mike in charge of hotels either though he would probably argue that it was fine). (Also, it is to be pronounced only with an English accent. “The Lowd Kem-Den Inn”.)

Doing it all over again, I’d stay in Lincolnville at The Lincolnville Motel instead of Camden; we drove to it the following day so I could check it out (I had read good things) and it was adorable. No frills (at all) but chic and clean and campy (sort of like Ruschmeyers in Montauk).

At this point, you may be worried that all of this lobster could lead to scurvy. Fear not – head to Long Grain for amazing Thai food. You will be very thankful for their steamed local kale and tofu which doesn’t sound delicious but it is.

Dessert is ice cream at Camden Cove.

DAY 3:

Drive to Portland.

The best thing you will do on this drive is to stop at Red Eat’s in Wiscasset. So cute, so yummy. Apparently on summer weekends the bridge traffic is terrible and everyone gets out of their cars to have lobster rolls while they wait to cross. If the line is too long (or if you just want to stock up on snacks for the car) check out Treats for cheeses, sandwiches and soups.

The rest of the village is adoooorable. Antique stores + home decor stores (Birch, Moulinette, Rock Paper Scissors) that are sophisticated and chic.

Get to Portland, finally, and have dinner at cool, casual Terlingua. It’s down south BBQ meets South America. There’s delicious tortilla soup and BBQ specials on the blackboard (we had the brisket, highly recommend).

Stay at The Press Hotel. It was OK – perfect enough. Good location. It would have been better if there were rooms with double beds – instead Mike ended up on an air mattress that deflated in the middle of the night. Eep.

DAY 4:

It’s a busy day of Portland activities (aka eating).

Start with breakfast at Dutch’s – an order-at-the-counter, seat-yourself, cafeteria-styled restaurant that reminds me of my childhood in Puerto Rico (complete with linoleum floors, faded booths and vintage travel posters) but home to an extensive, yummy menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches.

Check out the Portland Museum of Art, skip Higgins Beach (it’s eh).

If you’re jonesing for some beach head to Crescent State Beach – it’s a state park but we found it to be really quiet with soft soft sand and calm water. Highly recommend picking up provisions from the nearby Cheese Iron (i.e. meats, cheeses, crackers, sweets, etc..) and having a picnic.

Stay for a bit and then continue on to Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Headlight lighthouse at golden hour. If the Bite into ME food truck is still open, it’s worth the scurvy.

Leave just before the sun goes down so you can catch a proper sunset up the road at Kettle Cove State Park. It’s the most beautiful, magical sunset in Maine, hands down. Bring a blanket and curl up to watch the show OR find out how to rent a paddle board nearby (there were people on them and I was very jealous).

Nearby (for before or after or both, no judgment) is Kettle Cove Creamery. It’s everything I ever wanted in an ice cream stand. Flavors like blueberry pie, salty chocolate malt and sea kelp (yes, it’s good) PLUS they had fresh soft serve, too.

Dinner: Central Provisions (James Beard finalist etc. etc.) on Mule Street. Also wanted to try Eventide but alas, too many restaurants not enough time.

DAY 5:

DONUT leave Maine before you do two things:

Grab yourself a sicilian slice snack from Slab and wait on whatever line there is at The Holy Donut bc seriously, holyyyy donuts (ps, they’re made of potatoes so they’re a little thicker and chewier than regular donuts and they have lots of gluten free options).

Drive home, diet for the rest of the summer.

OTHER STUFF:

Things I wanted to do but didn’t: wild blueberry picking, Acadia National Park (too far), go visit some of the little islands outside of Camden (we tried to do this last minute and got stuck on a very long ferry line and then found out there wasn’t a return ferry until the following day…not meant to be)

Articles that I found helpful: Eater’s “17 Essential Maine Lobster Rolls”

Things recommended to me that I wasn’t able to do:
Edge comb: Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm – near boothbay / Maine Botanical Gardens – small shack with their oysters that you purchase and then they have picnic tables and all the tools to shuck. So fun. Can bring your own beverages and just chill/shuck your own.
Portland: Lucky Catch boat tour. Very cool. Got to learn about lobstering then purchase a lobster off the boat for $6-7 depending on size. They’ll either cook it for you at the restaurant next door (Portland Lobster Company) or if you have a place to cook it yourself you take it with you.

Roadtripping New Mexico

May 18th 2017

NEW MEXICO ROADTRIP

When: May 2015
With: Mike, my best guy friend
For: 5 days
Budget: $$

Night 1: Albuquerque. “Welcome to the land of enchantment,” said the guy at the Avis counter, handing over the keys to a white Mustang. “We locals call it the land of entrapment — once people come they never leave.” It’s midnight and my best friend Mike and I just landed at Albuquerque International Sunport, which we very much cannot wait to leave.

We drove our newly rented ‘stang directly to Frontier Restaurant, a no-frills diner, which came highly recommended via a Twitter crowdsource. The vibe was not fabulous but the food was (think: enchiladas, burritos, green-chile stew, etc.).

Albuquerque at night is creepy and no place more so than the motel I had booked, Sandia Peak Inn. I was going for cute and kitschy (it had really good Trip Advisor reviews!) but it was slightly terrifying (albeit clean).

Day 1: Albuquerque to Galisteo. Early morning we made our way to the “Turquoise Trail” aka scenic Highway 14 (take this instead of dreary I-25); met Lorraine, a friend of a friend’s shaman. Did I mention that we were in New Mexico on a pilgrimage to take ayahuasca?

*more to come on this experience soon*

Day 2: Galisteo to Taos. Post ayahuasca, we blast New Mexico’s best radio station, 104.1 (highly recommend) and continue towards Taos with a stop at Ten Thousand Waves. The spa has multiple pools, baths, spa treatments and even a meditation room. Everything was lovely (except for the Yuzu bath salts I bought at the gift shop, which gave me a rash).

From there, drove on to Taos. Observed beautiful scenery like the Rio Grande, fields of wildflowers and many a Sonic Drive-In (tator tots, por favor).

Have dinner at El Meze where all the chairs on the patio face the mountains movie theatre-style for serious sunset watching (order Tamales de Cardenas, you’re welcome).

A word on our hotel: We planned to continue our spiritual journey at a rental home in the Earthship Biotecture buuuuut we do not actually sleep there because it is hand to g-d, the scariest place I’ve ever been. It’s in the middle of nowhere (the houses are miles apart from one another) and entirely self-sustainable which is code for noisy and creepy af. Once it got dark, we hightailed it out of there so fast that Mike left without his wallet and I refused to go back with him to get it.

We drove straight to Hacienda del Sol Inn, a super cute B&B and while it’s hard to be objective when comparing to the dread of the Earthship, this place was adorable.

Note: In the light of day a visit to the Earthship Biotecture (and its visitor’s center) is worth it for some cool photo opportunities…and to learn about sustainable living.

Day 3: Taos. Spent the day at Taos Pueblo. You can tour parts of the Native American reservation/UNESCO World Heritage Site, eat lunch at the family-run restaurants (find the blue corn tortilla soup with ground turkey at the eatery across from the San Geronimo Chapel), and buy handicrafts from the local artisans. I came home with a lifetime supply of sage. Find Robert Mirabal’s shop, I love him.

We drove that late afternoon to Santa Fe and checked in to El Farolito, another cute B&B. Bonus points for the authentic adobe architecture and 1850s vintage-style New Mexican beds.

Day 4: Santa Fe. Quickly checked out the Loretto Chapel, which is famous for its “miraculous staircase” then explored (and shopped) the main plaza for turquoise jewelry and desert landscape art. Loved The Chile Shop for awesome New Mexico cookbooks and specialty condiments. Tried Frito pie (per Anthony Bourdain’s kinda sorta recommendation) at the back of the Five and Dime General Store and obsessed over Georgia O’Keeffe at her namesake museum. [Didn’t make it to Meow Wolf but wish I had].

Cafe Pasqual’s is the dinner reservation to get in town followed by Vanessie’s Lounge, a piano bar.

Day 5: Santa Fe to Albuquerque to Home. Spent the morning at Santa Fe’s “Museum Hill,” which consists of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens, and my personal obsession, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. I took so long in there that Mike left for coffee and a snack (he highly recommends the Museum Hill Cafe) and came back to find me still wandering the contemporary exhibits, transfixed by everything from modern Native American art (David Bradley is brilliant) to reproductions of trading posts and teepees. Make sure to exit through the gift shop; it’s filled with Native American jewelry, clothing, and an extensive bookstore where I bought The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living and Short.

Our final stop was Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. We buy “Indian tacos” from the vendors at the base and hike to the top where we take a million photos of the fascinating rock formations. Quick Rorschach test: what do they look like to you?

Fly home in love with New Mexico – new favorite place in the US!

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