Entries Tagged as 'Destinations'

An Ode to IHOP

May 6th 2013


There is something about chain restaurants, like IHOP, that makes me feel a giddy ‘Merica pride; I’m a child again, with too short shorts and a hankering for hash browns; a hungover college student with a penchant for milkshakes and cheese fries on the cheap.

And yes, I know this is just IHOP but unironic irony is my thing, like McFlurrys and amusement parks and trips to the Halloween store in April. Like following Paris Hilton on Twitter for her motivational quotes.

And so I recklessly abandoned my bikini body plan, per usual, and got started. The four different syrups on the table are exciting: Old fashioned, blueberry, strawberry and boysenberry…which one am I going to choose, what am I going to order, why am I so bad at making decisions?

I was craving eggs but obviously wasn’t going to not order pancakes at IHOP. Lucky for me, you don’t have to choose because here in heaven, pancakes come with eggs. So I opted for the double blueberry stack with 2 eggs over easy, hash browns, bacon and the new bananas foster brioche french toast (pictured above).

(Sidenote: Raquel, my server, answers Tropicana when I ask what kind of fresh juice they have soo, don’t come for the beverages. Also, the entire experience is best enjoyed when you ignore the disclaimer on every menu page about healthy diets being 2,000 calories blah blah buzzkillll.)

When the food comes I snap three pictures and pull my hair back, which means you know it’s getting serious. The meal was delicious though the portions are small. (I know, I’m everything that’s wrong with this country.)  Regardless, for a girl who likes good pancakes, this place more than stacks up. And who cares that it’s a chain or totally déclassé! In the wise tweets of Paris Hilton: “Anywhere is paradise; it’s up to you.”

Throwback Thursday: India

February 15th 2013

Happy Throwback Thursday! A friend recently asked me for some India recommendations and I pulled up the below—a meme I had written in mid-December 2011, exactly a month and a half into my India trip. I remember exactly where I was when I typed it: Sitting in bed (snacking on Coca Cola-flavored Mentos) in a guesthouse on a small side street in Udaipur. I had a sparse but charming first floor room painted blue with a window and an electrical outlet next to the bed; the town was full of winding back alleys and a river that separated it into two halves. I had seen so much and still had so much left to see…

How to Make it in India: Everything you Need to Plan, Pack and Prepare

[Here’s an excerpt—yes, the original was actually longer than this—of the email I sent my sister and best friend to get them ready for their upcoming India visit.]

“In terms of packing, I figured you’d both want to know what to bring. Here are my suggestions:

You really do have to dress conservatively almost everywhere here in India, except Goa. That means pants or a long skirt—no shorts. Seriously ladies, no shorts. I wear tank tops when it’s super hot, but I always carry a scarf to cover my shoulders. My basic uniform every day is a pair of colorful loose cotton pants and a white t-shirt.

The north gets chilly at night and the air con trains reach Arctic temperatures. I have an American Apparel zip-up and a North Face fleece that I wear a lot more than I care to admit.

…read the rest here

Q & A: Peru Edition

October 24th 2012


Hope all’s well! So I am heading to Peru to do Machu with a few friends and trying to gather as much info and tips as I can now, as we plan it out. Please pass along anything/everything, I’d really appreciate your thoughts.


A lot of my thoughts after the jump~


You’re going to have the besttt time in Peru!

The cheapest flights are into Lima and I suggest spending 3-4 days there experiencing the fun nightlife and great food.

From Lima, you’ll fly to Cusco, one of my fave spots in South America and the beginning of your journey to Machu Picchu (or as the locals call it, MaPi). I would suggest doing the original Inca Trail…it’s a four day hike through all of the ruins culminating in the final trek. If you want something even more intense, check out the seven day Mountain Lodges of Peru tour.

Speaking of MaPi, make sure you get there early (like 4am early) so you can score a pass as soon as it opens to the higher mountain of Waynapicchu. They only let 400 people up every day and it is so worth it to be one of them.

Also, it’s important to remember that the altitude in Cusco can take a day or two to get used to, so factor that in before heading out.

If you have extra time I suggest taking a trip from Cusco to Puno (about 7 hours by bus) to see Lake Titicaca. It’s stunning. Other hotspots: Mancora for surfing and Huacachina for its famous sandboarding.

In terms of hotels…I was on a budget so I did hostels but I recommend them regardless because you’ll meet so many people. Loki is the best hostel chain in Peru and there’s locations in Lima, Cusco and Mancora.

Now, for some specifics! Click click for my food/drink/sightsee reccos for Lima and Cusco.

A Vietnam Itinerary (Or Three)

September 15th 2012

Hi Taryn,

How are you?  Hope all is well and you are still enjoying your travels!

Had a question for you – do you have any Vietnam recommendations from your trip to S. East Asia?  My husband and I are supposed to go to Morocco in two weeks for our fifth anniversary and are thinking of canceling with all of the protests going on in the Middle East and N. Africa.  We are thinking of going to Vietnam instead and trying to plan a trip quickly.  We would have 9 days there.

If you have anything you can send would so appreciate it!



My thoughts, advice and itinerary(ies) after the jump~


Splish Splash

July 24th 2012

I took a bath here today.

It’s not a museum, technically, or a mosque or even a fancy hotel. It’s a Turkish bath house or the Turkish bath house, found in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

There is not a lot of English happening at Cagaloglu Hamami, and so it takes me a while to sort out all of the requirements: towel/locker room/sandals and to select my services—the basic steam and scrub, sans massage. When I finally get it together, I’m led down a corridor to the most gorgeous steam room & spa I have ever seen, and I spent over five years as a beauty editor “researching” top steam rooms & spas.

It reminded me of the mausoleum interior of the Taj Mahal: It’s big—cavernous—and made entirely of off-white marble with a giant altar in the middle. The perimeter is lined with small bath basins and intricate faucets. The dome ceiling is dotted with star-like portals, open to the air. The rest is all pillars and panels and arched doorways.

An assortment of bodies in various states of undress luxuriate in the surroundings. The older local women are nude, a few shy tourists wear bikinis, some draw the line at just topless. And while I’m not a boob girl (I think they’re just fat deposits which my sister always tells me is “suchh an anorexic thing to say”),  every time I find myself naked in a bathhouse (which is more often than you’d think), I’m fascinated by the assortment of shapes and sizes and colors.

So I’m marveling at this impressive architectural work of genius, and at boobs in general, and sweating my ass off because it is really really hot in here. And then after about 15-20 minute of aggressive perspiration, over comes Melda. With a brusque greeting she grabs my cloth, lays it on a slab of marble, pushes me down and douses me with a bowl of warm water. We’ve barely said hello.

Then she straps on a loofah mitt.

[I try very hard to ignore the fact that said mitt has not been washed from the last person I saw her scrubbing. I am also interjecting here to tell you that if you read this prior to going you may want to BYO.]

She scrubs hard and fast, stopping only to show me the gnarly pieces of black dead skin that have been shedding and congealing all over my body.

[Why are they black? Will this make me look less tan? Can you get a skin infection from a dirty loofah?]

After the thorough exfoliation she brings me to a small side washing room where she rinses my body—and its sheddings—off with water and then sits on a bench, instructing me to sit in front of her.

I’m confused by her gestures…I awkwardly sit next to her, then stand up, then think maybe the bath might be over until I realize that she wants me to sit in between her legs. On the floor.

What happened next? Imagine the best shampooer at your favorite salon..now imagine them sitting over you in the bath with the world’s sudsiest cleanser. My hair, my ears, my scalp..everything is being rubbed and lathered until I’m suddenly being rinsed with large bowls of water dumped fast and furiously over my head. Shampoo drips into my eyes and I can barely catch my breath before the next deluge.

[Isn’t this the torture technique behind Chinese Waterboarding? Note to self: Google it]

With the last soap sud spiraling down the drain, Melda got up with her signature briskness, said goodbye and I was cleaner than I have ever been in my life. For serious.

My skin is also tan (tanner than prior to the exfoliation so if someone could explain that to me?) and glowing. It doesn’t feel dry or raw, which happens when I go nuts with a scrub and loofah in the shower sometimes. A lot of times.

And besides for the slight spelling mistake, I couldn’t more wholeheartedly endorse Cagaloglu’s slogan: “We Make You Fell [sic] Reborn.”

PS, the cost of the entire experience was something like 80 Turkish Lira, which is roughly $40.

PPS, that picture up top is courtesy of Google as cameras are strictly not allowed inside the bath house. Otherwise there’d be boob pics here, obviously.

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