an urban lifestyle + travel blog by liz norment.

Category: TRAVEL

travel talisman

Why Is That Elephant Always There? | The Tale of the Talisman

traveling solo has endless benefits, but when it comes to packing, it becomes way more intense when you can’t rely on borrowing your friend’s toothpaste/toothbrush/undies/entire wardrobe. while i rely on extensive packing lists and reliable essentials, i never leave without my talisman. you know, my talisman. oh you know, those charming little soul keepers that keep you safe and seeking. you do know, don’t you? ah well, keep reading friend. and never, ever leave home without it again.
inevitably, the reason why we travel is to collect experiences, ephemera, … and to leave pieces o our souls upon cobblestone sidewalks and in the warm air surrounding a sunset and in the smeared imperceptibly into the rims of wine glasses. and while a talisman helps to bridge that gap between what is kept and what is left. the keeper of secrets and pieces of our souls, an object that witholds the subtle power of where we’ve been and where we’re going, and with this power, relentlessly fights against evil spirits that may cross our paths, no matter where those paths lead us.
they are objects, yes, and more often than not some non-kitschy souvenir or significant piece of ephemera collected from our travels. a talisman’s power is said to increase with intention. they are often not chosen by us but chosen for us, given to us, or sometimes they choose us. that undeniably spiritual connection is felt as soon as such a tiny little soul keeper is spotted, in a hidden shop in morocco or at a festive holiday stand in venice or sitting beside your sunday sangria in a plaza in madrid. the ones that i’ve held close inevitably have a story behind them, and stories ahead of them. and a raconteur i will always be, i’ve jotted these tales below for you to discover and uncover and reveal, at just the right time, what your talisman will be.
travel talisman
the first was an old coin from morocco, that i kept around my neck as a reminder of the palpable magic and mystery of the country and the week i spent in it. an old coin that i strung around my neck just outside of a tricky little oddities shop in a coastal town along the west coast of the country. it kept me safe, arguably, from a blinding sandstorm while surfing in the eastern side of the atlantic, from the aggressively audible whispers heard among a passerby in the souk, telling me “i could kidnap you right now and one one would know”, from a winding and endless cab ride in what turned out to be an illegal taxi that got pulled over and offered its american passengers to the cops as payment without hesitation, and from a drug deal in the streets of taghazout that went very very very badly. when i left africa, unharmed and enlightened, the coin stayed on me, continuing to ward off evil spirits and keep me safe and searching. when i returned back from the US, it helped keep my wandering spirit alive and alit when it felt dulled, lost, and stagnant. my first talisman.

the next, this charming little italian man that i picked up in the christmas markets in venice. traveling during the holidays always pangs me with a bit of homesickness, and something about this cheery, charming little yarn man reminded me both of the tiny little bear stuffed animals i preferred as a child, and brought me back to receiving gifts on christmas, and also added a little bit of playfulness to my photography. he was my muse.

travel talisman

he came with me on another solo trip through the south of spain, and somehow snuck away from me at a 100-bed 8-floor hostel in sevilla. ok, so maybe i had something to do with it in my rather drunken state… however, i realized he was missing as i hastily packed, threatening to miss my train to granada. pepito!!! i exclaimed. i blurrily remembered having him last in the common area. i ran in and rummaged through the couches, looked under every table when someone asked me what i was looking for. “um, it’s a little italian yarn man. you know… a gondola man? who works on a gondola? …presuming his is also made of yarn??” i didn’t know what i was saying and time was running out. “oh yeah! yeah! he has a hat?” the guy asked me. this, to me, was a dumb question. “he was on the table last night and a girl was playing with him. a girl with brown hair.”  he informed me.
“ah! does she still have him? where is she?”
“yeah she does. um, i think she’s staying on the 4th floor. or maybe the 6th? it’s one of those her name might be elena but i’m not sure.”
holy shit. it was 8am on a sunday at a youth hostel and i had 7 minutes to leave and this is what i had to work with. i sprinted up the stairs. i knocked on every door on the 4th and 6th floors. if someone answered, i gave them my disjointed story. “hi. i’m looking for a girl with brown hair named elena maybe, and she might have this little yarn man that means a lot to me? a little gondola man? answers to “pepito”? currently boatless and probably a little frightened?”
nope. other than a bunch of groggy and crazy looks, i got nothing.
finally as i closed the last door on the 6th floor and began descending down, it opened again. “hi, is this what you’re looking for?” a sleepy-eyed brunette in her hostel-version of pajamas held pepito in her hands. “YES! yes! thank you thank you! you found him!” i ran back up the stairs. “i wanted to keep him…” she said. i had no time for this. “he means a lot to me. you can get one, in venice.” with that i snatched him and ran to grab my pack, a cab, and ultimately a train to granada with my talisman and travel buddy kept close this time.

what is a talisman

while pepito occupies a very important spot on my shelf and in my heart, my talisman since 2010 has been a tiny little elephant figurine procured from a street seller in madrid. it was a hungover sunday and i was sharing sangria and stories from the night before with my best friends. a peddler approached us and began his spiel and before we could all answer in a prepared and collective “no, gracias” he had placed an adorable little elephant in front of each of us. “we will each have one,” i said, and no one fought back. 4 euros later, we each had a bit of that city, that experience, and the souls we connected with during that year that would transcend boundaries of time and distance.
what is a talisman
hence, “phanty” is perhaps one of the most well-traveled elephants to ever exist. with thousands of kilometers, all under his thick patterned skin, he now will set off with me to the motherland, our home country together, on another trip. where the solo portion will be highlighted by this little reminder of so many wonderful people, places, and experiences, continuing to ward off evil spirits and to keep mine strong and searching.
tell me about your talisman. share with me a story about the keeper of your wandering soul.
i’m listening.

why we travel… reason #5.


more often than not i find my eyelids settling at half-mast on monday afternoons as i’m faced with nothing more inspiring than a dry to-do list and a my finger mindlessly tapping on open tabs on my computer. it’s in these moments when i allow my mind and my heart to wander back to places that have captivated me, if not for inspiration just to salvage my own sanity. this past monday, as it often does, my heart led me back to the algarve region of portugal, one of the most beautiful and enchanting places i’ve ever visited. my eyes began to consume image after image when i finally landed on a thorough and inspiring conde nast “introduction” to the area. and as i drank down every word and explored every pixel and breathed in my own memories, again and again and again, i came across a fascinating anecdote of a historical conquest that occurred in the area, that has found itself legendized as a common term in portuguese- sebastianismo. a word that was born from a story of exploration, of desire, of hope- lost.


king sebastião embarked on a crusade to battle the moorish kingdom of morocco, hopeful, willing, and determined, and soon after embarking the entire undertaking was a disaster– outnumbered, outsmarted, and out of options, they were defeated and Sebastião himself was lost among the sandy shores; a revered and promising king met his untimely demise in the craggy, unforgiving intercontinental coastline. from that event was born the term sebastianismo, meaning a failed venture or forlorn hope. such a palpable, fragrant term, born from glory and ending in failure and


what gives us, in all it’s 6-syllable complexity, one very tangible reason why we travel. because to have hope in itself is a rare gift. to believe in yourself, to put a dream in motion, to invigorate your senses, to contain within yourself the unshakable belief in a mission, to seek the unknown, to move, to try. and then even if you fail, if you find yourself lost, if you lose that hope that blindly mobilized you to begin with- at least you had such a gift to begin with. because stagnation, and not some easily defined nemesis- stagnation is the enemy.

and that- sebastianismo– in all of its regal peril, is why we travelIMG_0654

three days in cappadocia.

Turkey is a country that constantly juxtaposes the reverent mysticism and progressive modernity. The call to prayer interrupts a wave of commuters during rush hour, women in hijabs walk between tourists holding selfie sticks. The solemn and unwavering countenance of Ataturk presides over a nation still plagued by hypocrisy, chaos, and confusion. because of its turbulent history, volatile location, and relentless drive to hold on to tradition while remaining competitive in a perpetually modernized world, Turkey has been plagued by conflict for much of its history. conflict that has so unfortunately escalated recently. Let that not keep us from going, because conflict and terrorism wins when we close the curtains and hide in our seemingly safeguarded homes. The best defense we have is to break down barriers, to open our minds, to eliminate stereotypes, keep moving.
so when you decide to go to Turkey, spend some time in Anatolia in the city of Cappadocia. be charmed by the people, captivated by the landscape, and completely lost in a land that is so magical it doesn’t seem real. take the balloon photo and then do everything else there is to do there.
and start here my friends: your 3-day guide to Cappadocia.

There’s more to this land than instagram-worthy hot air balloons. Cappadocia is an otherworldly region in central turkey consisting of multiple small villages situated in a fairy tale-like setting. This, “the land of beautiful horses” got its tranquil, surreal landscape thanks to two volcanoes erupting and covering the rocky terrain with hot magma 60 million years ago. 60 million. Now the volcanoes have hushed and what is left is an arid snowscape of flowing stone, hidden caves, and jarring mountains dotted with charming villages, breathtaking views, and the relentlessly hospitable Anatolian people.


where to stay

Goreme Mansion, in Goreme, Capadoccia.
Almost all options here for accommodations are “cave hotels” which are exactly what they sound like- minus the stalactites and bats. While I can only share my experience at one of these enchanting chateaus, I feel that you really need to look no further. Goreme Mansion is located at the top of the hill in central Goreme. This charming 7-room hotel consists of three floors of open terraces and a rooftop with more than a view.
the hotel is located close to the village’s minaret (as, consequently, everything else in town) gives you a very Arabian wake up call at 542am but rather than abruptly waking you, it paints your dreams in a mystical light. Sleep with the windows open, because I almost guarantee you’ll miss this experience once you’re gone. The hotel provides a complimentary Turkish Breakfast from 730 to 9 every morning, and is all homemade by the “staff” here… which, by the way, isn’t a staff at all. Ali, the owner, grew up in this house and has been continuously updating and adding to the mansion to give guests the perfect taste of his hometown. His face is worn with then inimitable marks of years of laughter, kindness, and humility. Busra, who introduces herself immediately not by her position at the mansion, but insisting- “I am your sister. What’s mine is yours,” is the most hospitable person I’ve ever run into. She takes the time to explain and plan your stay for you, adding in anecdotes and histories of the land and people, making calls on the phone and to friends in the street to arrange activities, rides, and exclusive discounts. She is truly  the magic of this place and defined the Anatolian experience here for me- kindness, humility, generosity, towards all who pass; an infectious generosity that you carry with you long after leaving.
The rooms are spacious, bathrooms are nearly spa-like, and overall feeling of the place is just as they intended- like home. (If home is in,a cave in a magical fairy tale and you are the queen and dine on coffees and olives all day. of course.) oh yeah, and this will put you back only $26 a night.
this is their address, believe it or not
Gaferli Mah., Şükrü efendi Sokak No:1, Nevşehir, Turkey



what to eat

Kebab in clay pots, from Sedef. 
Sure, this is a bit of a novelty- but something yiu must try. Handmade pottery is abundant here due to the readily available clay from the red river, able hands, and arid climate. Meat and spices are placed in ceramics pots and cooked with fire underground, brought to your table, and then broken with a samurai-esque sword to release the most tender and flavorful kebab adventure you’ll experience in turkey. Served with fresh bread, tomato, onion, yogurt,cucumber, and all of it’s other friends, it’s a delicacy not to be missed.
I recommend Sedef, which is located at Bilal Eroglu Cad., in Goreme.
choose-your-own-adventure style turkish breakfast.
choose-your-own-adventure style turkish breakfast.
A real Turkish breakfast, anywhere.
Turkish breakfast is like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. A mixture of breads, cheeses, meats, yogurt, tomato, cucumber, olives, honey, jam, and pretty much anything else they can think of arrives on an array of plates and allows you to combine flavors on your fork to get your day started with a fresh variety of local fare. Don’t be shy either- you’ll need some energy.

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why we travel… reason #16 | hiraeth.


what is home but a familiar pulling at the heart. who is family but people, by nature, to whom we are drawn and thus necessitate their comfort, shelter, grace, and presence. and what is homesickness then but an insatiable desire for an intangible past, a physical nostalgia, an endless and familiar dream.

i’ve recently come across this (by nature) unspeakably charming list of words for which there is no direct translation in english. they are feelings we all have, carried in our heart and experienced often, and there is ultimately nothing lost in translation. I forever find myself entranced in the beauty of languages that necessitated the development of these words.

this one, in particular, hit me.

hiraeth (n.)
a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past

there is simply no explanation as to why i have left pieces of my heart buried deep in so many places. and it isn’t given voluntarily, it is taken. split from me and taken and consumed entirely. in places, it has been buried between sturdy cobblestones and enveloped into the ether of incomprehensible sunsets alike. in people, it has remained in conversations so deep that it’s a wonder only my heart and not my entire physical being was left there in the depths of a significant verbal exchange. and in relationships where perhaps your heart is only a token of the wholeness that you have given.

it’s involuntary and yet entirely accepted, because to give your heart in such unspoken discernment signifies a recognized respect, a visible beacon, a palpable sanctuary, a home, there.

a home there for your heart.

it happens in that first glance of the  tower, likely through thick parisian fog and a blesssing for being so, because if seen any clearer it would shatter you completely. it happens when hearing the call to prayer in istanbul, the surprising harmonization of turet dwellers and worshippers alike. it happens in that last look at prague, and its painful fading into the distance feels as if you held the paintbrush and you alone dimmed each pastel rooftop and shimmering river and glowing streetlamp as it all fades, with permission it seems, into the distance.
it’s hiraeth. for which your heart breaks and then mends and then aches and then seeks.

never settling and always wistfully or painfully seeking.

and then home is something is felt so much deeper. and family are those people who are a constant and impenetrable presence. and love… love is a fucking earthquake.

hiraeth is what we seek and fear from travel. and thus, unquestionably, the reason why we do.

beaujolais nouveau 2016

why we travel… reason #15 | le beaujolais nouveau est arrive!

le beaujolais est arrivé!
the second time i was in paris, i remember how audacious it felt to purchase the flight. i’d already spent time in paris, a few years back, but the city had been pulling at my soul since i left. it jad settled into a part of my heart that i didn’t know was there, much less vacant and seeking. it was filled, immediately, with a first glance of la tour eiffel, lit up and sparkling. with my first ascension up the tight spiral staircase of the arc de triomphe to reveal the city of light, illuminating my face, staring back at it. the first time. my first promenade down the rue de montparnasse, my first glass of wine in a dark and hidden bar in montmarte, my first full day wandering around the palace and gardens of versailles. my understanding, finally, of the inside-out centre pompidou and all the treasure held within it. my first real baguette.
paris had more than charmed me, it had changed me. and so the first trip i planned with my barely-there paycheck upon moving to spain was to a place i had already been. and i was in love of the audacity of it all. after i landed, i navigated my way by bus through a drizzly evening from charles de gaulle and sat with my face glued to the window. paris. i was back in paris.
paris 335 copy
i inevitably missed what i thought was my stop and realized that i was terribly lost. i got a cab to the address i had of a friend of mine from years ago. i knew i had 2 hours before he’d be home, so i wandered down the champs elysees, through the christmas markets, that even 6 weeks early seemed so so timely. i indulged in a rather shitty styrofoam cup of mulled wine. i shamelessly didn’t hold back tears. i was so, so happy. when my pack got a bit too heavy, i wandered into a bar along a side street. it was small, crowded. audaciously devoid of intentional decor and exactly the type of cafe you expect in paris. i loved it. as i tried to awkwardly make room for my travelers backpack, my overstuffed leather tote, my distinctively unchic pea coat, the felt hat that i thought was a good idea and now realized really wasn’t a good idea… i was tried to be as inconspicious as possible when someone gleefully shoved an antique looking juice glass into my hand. i looked up. “le  beaujolais nouveau est arrive!” i looked noticeably dumfounded, confused. he repeated himself, in hesitant english “uhh, the new wine has arrived!” i was more confused. the new wine? didn’t i come here for the old wine? he didn’t bother explaining, just toasted me with intention and motioned for me to drink up. i did, and almost immediately the bartender was there filling my glass over the brim. everyone was dancing and singing, sipping and spilling. no one seemed to notice the spanish flag patch sewn onto my backpack or my obvious lack of any knowledge of french. it was all “congratulations!” and two kisses and wine. wine. wine.
paris 316 copy
i spilled out of the bar and onto the street, late now to meet the friend i was staying with. i hailed a cab. on they way i caught a glimpse of the eiffel tower lighting up, again, and began to cry. paris! my god the beauty of it all.
when i arrived at my friend’s apartment, i asked him what was happening. and he laughed when he told me, “oh of course, the new wine!” the explanation he went into was brief but with enough passion to make me realize that this would be my favorite reason to celebrate for the rest of my life.
during the rest of my stay in paris and consequently as the jubilant weekend wore on, i learned that the legend of “beaujolais day” and was captivated even more. the story, as i heard it, is as follows.
 IMG_2299 copy
In a land where wine is held so sacred and for good reason- Chablis, Champagne, Bourdeaux to name a few, Beaujolais was virtually unrecognized and not nearly revered. so the winemakers of the region set off to charm and fool everyone in the frenchest of ways, by letting their reputation recede them… provided they successfully outran it. one bold winemaker picked and fermented his grapes. aging it for exactly one week, he raced into Paris and announced that the parisians would be drinking that year’s vintage Beaujolais before anyone else in the world. And it would be up to their discerning taste and opinions that would mark that wine’s character and reputation. He risked a non-existent reputation and the hope that the Parisians wouldn’t ever want to appear foolish or not en-vogue. and the people of paris embraced it, they beheld it, they drank it. The next year, more winemakers decided to join, racing against each other on the third thursday of November to declare their Beaujolais Nouveau the first of that year. And from that vintage on they continued to do so, and the people of paris began to embrace it and revere it more and more, in spite of themselves. And so they made it a holiday, a jubilant weekend-long celebration, a commemoration of a bold marketing ploy and when something so unfrench became something oh-so-French.
And this is why we travel. For the wonder and bewilderment of that initial arrival, for discovering such a beautiful tradition in a foreign land to embrace, forever, as your own, and for that irrepressible feeling and adventurous spirit that is forever us. because you and I and le Beaujolais nouveau have all arrived.



why we travel… reason #14 | Granada, Spain


no hay en la vida nada como la pena

de ser ciego en granada

this phrase, discovered engraved upon a stone wall in granada, spain by happenstance, yet has stayed with me since the moment i discovered it. it reminded me of the simple staggering power of words and of views.
there is nothing in life
like the pain
of being blind


in granada.

i noticed it when i’d first arrived in granada. it was hotter i swear than i’d ever felt outside, even being from the south. the wheel on my suitcase, packed with a year’s worth of my belongings, had just broken off on the cobblestone streets. i’d dragged 40lbs of cumbersome luggage up granada’s many spanish steps to my hostel… just to learn that they had to given my room away. because i’d missed my check-in time. because i’d missed my train from sevilla. they’d tried to call, of course, but my phone had been stolen the night before.
and so there i was in my predicament. i couldn’t help it, i started crying. they booked me another hostel across town. completely defeated, i kicked my suitcase back down the steps. when i finally greeted it at the bottom of the steps,i found this phrase, engraved into a pillar on the wall. no hay nada en la vida como la pena de ser ciego en granada. and in my “misery” i paused. i breathed in. my lip stopped quivering. i noticed as the sun was setting, my eyes were drawn up the mountain just before me. and standing proudly in front of me the alhambra, illuminated. a site i’d been waiting to see my entire life. and the impact of it hit me all at the same time. and i cried, this time, not out of frustration, but out of pure gratitude. that i was in granada, and indeed, that i was not blind, in sight nor to any of the staggering significance that had brought me to this very moment. broken suitcases and overbooked hostels be damned. i was alive. and i was in granada.
there are so many scenes that have moved me to tears by their intense beauty. so many experiences that have made me uncertain if i’m even able to take them in. i’ve witnessed moments that have made me clutch my chest lest my heart jump right out because of the stunning humanity that exists all over the world. i’ve been reminded in those moments that no matter how difficult the path may seem at the time. I’ve learned that no matter how low the trough of the wave is, the crest will be so so high that you won’t even be able to see the bottom. significance hits you this way and sweeps you up, just at the right moment, and just in time. always. all you have to do is seek it.
so this is why we travel. to understand that there is nothing in life more painful than to remain stagnant in a world so beautiful, than to be deaf to “i love you” “te quiero” “je t’aime” in so many languages, to be numb to the tastes and flavors and traditions of so many rich cultures.
and to be blind
in granada.
tell me, then, what beautiful scene has left so so happy to have your sense of sight, and adventure, and the propensity to appreciate them both.

this moment captured by the talented @puma4487



Ride Your City | Red Hook, Brooklyn.


The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man.
Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish.
Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.
– Iris Murdoch

time: 35-45 min
distance: 15 miles, round trip
comfort: 8! no huge inclines, and most is right along the river.
beauty: on a scale of canarsie to dumbo, this route and destination is an 8
points of interest: 10 noted, endless to discover 🙂
i have been guilty of spreading the rumor that redhook derived it’s name from the bloody industrial hooks where the mafia used to hang victims before plunging their lifeless bodies into the river. so what? so i heard that somewhere and i kind of liked the way it sounded and the looks on peoples faces when i told them. besides, the more weenies we can convince not to visit red hook, or anywhere else in brooklyn for that matter, the better. #weeniefreeisfinebyme
as it turns out, anticlimactically enough, it was named Red Hook not colored by bloodied corpses, but because of an abundance of minerals in the soil. reddish ones. and apparently neighboring bay ridge was formerly Yellow Hook for the color of it’s soil, which had a very evident yellow tint somehow. the neighborhood rebranded itself after an outbreak of yellow fever in the 1840s which i would argue it kind of invited in…
however, let’s not get bogged down in nomenclature folks. red hook is one of my favorite bloody neighborhoods in brooklyn and is more than worthy of being honored with the first in my semi-monthly series of ride your city.
pioneer works, photo by @puma4487
this path will take you passed east river state park, the brooklyn navy yard, through dumbo and brooklyn bridge park, and past the floating soccer fields and public grilling/picnic area. and i fyou can resist all of that, you will make it to the lovely van brunt st, the main artery of red hook and the destination for thie #rideyourcity adventure.
wherever you start in brooklyn, head east to kent ave and bike along the river. however, you should really start in greenpoint. at my house. with me, and my schwinn, and a full bota of wine. (this link will help you navigate!)
you’ll have “arrived” in red hook when you enter van brunt street, the canal st of redhook, that actually bears more than a few similarities with new orleans. your stops and (i’ll try to keep them) brief descriptions are below, plus use this (slightly buggy) interactive map i’ve made!!. visit these sites in any order, choose your own adventure, and have an awesome fucking time. use hashtag #rideyourcityredhook
i’m still learning to use this map widget… so for now, just zoom way way in. it’s all there i promise!!


pioneer works
charming exhibit and artist workspace in an old iron factory, this massive rustic space features rotating exhibits, inspiring discussions, and edgy performances, plus weekly events and farmers markets in the back garden.
159 pioneer st


brooklyn crab

built to replicate the iconic crab houses in maryland, this place has endless decks, bushels of crabs, buckets of beer, and relentless sunsets every single night. except instead of having the chesapeake bay or historic baltimore (euphemism!) as a backdrop, you get that magical and proud point where the east river meets the hudson and lady liberty reminds you that this city (and country!) is so fucking dope. oh and there is putt putt. yep.
24 reed st

brooklyn ice house
quite simply the greatest dive bar in brooklyn and i do not hand out that title lightly. board games that have been hanigng around being played since the 80s, and bartenders that… well, pretty much appear to have been doing the same. and neither has lost its charm.
318 van brunt st
fort defiance
amazing cocktails and perfectly curated small plates in an aggressively non-pretentious environment. they take pride in their deviled eggs, and i take pride in anyone who takes pride in their deviled eggs.
365 van brunt st.
the lobster pound

if you haven’t had enough shellfish, this no-frills lobster joint offers the best and most affordable lobster dinner in town. huge bonus if you’re a sports (especially patriots) fan- they project games on a big screen in the back and game days are respectfully energetic but non-douchey.
284 van brunt st.

widow jane distillery + cacao prieto

cacao factory + whiskey distillery? plus coordinated tastings of each? yep. whiskey made in the style of traditional tennessee bourbon. nibs on nibs of cacao. gogao!
214 Conover St.


Foxy & Winston

paper, textile goods, and housewares shop from british designer that is guaranteed to have on hand the next perfect gift you need. walk in, be nearly disorientingly charmed.
392 van brunt st.



surprisingly savory sweets in a charming little nook of a bakeshop. try: everything.
359 van brunt

paddle high-fives are still cool in red hook.
red hook boaters
free kayaking at this alcove at the base of the east river with relentless views of manhattan, brooklyn, and the lady.
the pier at coffey and van brunt streets


hometown bar-b-que

meats so tender they’ll make even the toughest new yorker fall apart. this is the best carolina style barbecue i’ve had north of the mason dixon line, and it just feels good to be in this place. go. eat.
454 van brunt st.


red hook winery  

a winery on the pier in the east river looking out onto our shining metropolis and everything beyond. tours, tastings, events, sunsets – all of these things are available to you here. go, my friends. and partake.
175 Van Dyke St


but that day is NOT today, red hook. do you hear me?!
see you out there, homies.


my views on travel tattoos.

when we travel, we leave so much behind, wherever we go- a sense of fear and doubt, indiscernible footprints, pieces of our soul. and less poetically, we leave behind hard-earned cash, some dignity (#whathappensinibiza) and likely more than a few “necessities” we realize immediately that our backpacks and bodies can do without.
so much is given and taken, from our bodies and into our souls. and hence the desire is strong to somehow embed a bit of that experience on your skin, forever.
a traveler i once met on a plane who become a fast and forever friend of mine, shared with me early in what would become so many wine-infused conversations that people get tattoos for one of three reasons.
– those that you want people to see and ask about everyday. this should be a story you love to tell, a description that is rarely far from your lips, words that to you sound sweeter than any others. this may be the only thing anyone comes to know about you, and it may be the first thing of so many deeper things that more than scratch the surface. tattoo those things in places that are rarely covered, subtle but noticeable. and then share openly and honestly, and often.
– the tattoos that people are only privileged to see, discover, and ask about when they’re gotten close to you. something intimate to share with someone you trust, and even then, you reserve the right to divulge it’s meaning. these should be hidden to most people, yet to be discovered. a private secret, shared with steadfast reverence.
– the tattoos that you tell the meaning to no one. they represent a private battle, an intimate moment, a reminder of how and why you keep going. these should be somewhere that you see everyday, but few others will notice. it greets you in the mirror first thing in the morning and flashes in your mind before you sleep at night. it’s your silent vow, your constant reminder something so present in your mind but it is yours, alone.
we're all quite MAD here.
we’re all quite MAD here.
i realized that these reasons are also so parallel to why we travel. sometimes we are seeking adventure; to stay in hostels, to meet and to share and to document every moment of our experiences for others to learn and gain from.
some trips are personal journeys, the meanings to which we will tell, but only to deserving and kindred spirits. met on an abandoned trail or silently observing the sunrise. those we know will share a connection with forever, if only physically for a few significant moments.
and some trips are taken because we need to heal, to reset, to remember who we are and why we are here, why we move at all. and what may look like a vacation to outsiders or an easily interpreted symbol, to us it is the last step we feel we were able to take. we need to simply walk to a coastline or to a rooftop and let our regrets go with the tides and into the winds and inhale. and close our eyes and remember that moment as only ours.
so think of your travel tattoo on these terms.
this is a memory, this is a moment, this is a feeling, a journey, an experience, a truth. an eternal stamp on your passport as well as a personal call to action. do not forget, ever, the reason you got it. hold on to it, encompass it and be guided by it.
be moved by it and moved because of it.
if found, return to...
if found, please return to…
one of mine, of course, was part of a word i wanted to say everyday. barcelona. i never wanted a day to go by without those beautiful sounds rolling off my tongue- and to tell people, with a subtle intensity, that it was where i became the person i will be forever. it was the first place i ever traveled abroad, the first time i ever experienced being completely alone, it was my first time living in a city. it made me realize everything that i wanted in my life, and that there was so much more to discover.
sometimes i get caught photographing my wrist against other coordinates.
sometimes i get caught photographing my wrist against other coordinates.
the other is relentlessly dimensional.
for a powerful quote from a relentless lyricist,
if love is not madness, it is not love.
that we should all be driven mad by our love, by our passion. that a passive connection has never and will never be for me. for that is not love.
and the iconic words from our beat pioneer and avid wanderer

the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

this description that fits so well everyone who inspires me.

and of course… it stands for my favorite destination on my boarding passes. MAD. a city and a transition in my life. it was me quitting my job and leaving my life in new york i’d worked so hard to create for a completely unknown future. it was me simply knowing i needed to seek more. that i needed to leave to find what i wanted, to remind myself who i was. it was me ignoring so many people who told me it was a dumb idea, who asked me ‘what are you running from’ or who tried to convince me that all of my ‘problems’ would still be here when i returned. they, of course, had no idea why i seemed to be running, be it towards or from. and this tattoo, here, on my ring finger, stands for that madness and passion that i am always, insatiably, seeking.
(also there’s this futbol team that i fucking love.)
tell me about your tattoo, be it for travels or otherwise. send me a picture, and tell me what it means to you. i want to know and i’d love to have your permission to share.
seek on, dear travelers. for you are what makes this world so insatiably discoverable.


why we travel… reason #13.

lunch in taipei.

every morning in taipei started with the same understood priority, the same frenzied mentality, the same shameless need- get pork buns. of course this task was quickly followed on our mental itinerary by “check out hidden taiwanese morning market” and “visit taipei memorial hall” or “hike up to breathtaking view of skyline at elephant park” and “stroll around xinyi district”  “share bottle of wine to get the nerve to check out taipei 101.” but first, always, the pork buns.

and somehow, during the first few hours of this particular afternoon, the pork buns had eluded us and we found ourselves ravenous and panicked, searching around the university neighborhood of taipei, an area presumably ripe both with fresh knowledge and cheap street food, trying to find the buns. we knew what to look for- a constantly billowing steam cloud, incessant flow of people, sticky array of communal sauce bottles. smiling, grease-shimmered mouths.
buns, contemplating in taiwan.
buns, contemplating in taipei.
and while we knew we must be getting close, against our will, something else to tempted us away from our noble mission. we passed a crowded restaurant of communal tables all centered around one big smorgasbord of dishes. we stepped in to get a closer look and what we saw from the street nearly multiplied before our eyes- a buffet of foreign delicacies, an array of dishes in nearly every color of the rainbow, a beautiful smattering of what we only assumed to be edible based on the context clues- hungry people, stacked plates, used chopsticks and inviting tables, yet hardly anything in front of us was identifiable. and so armed each with our own set of tongs and a temporarily empty plate, we began to paint our canvases and satiate our curiosity with one of nearly everything. we divided and conquered- a purple and black rice sushi roll, an array of what must be mushrooms in shapes that i didn’t know mushrooms could be, wrinkly dumplings filled with surprises, a lilac rice krispie treat ball, slimy purple jello bean pie, a flauta-like yum-yum, small elephant ears with boysenberries… and general tso’s chicken? they have that here?

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why we travel… reason #12.

to witness sunsets on foreign lands.
familiar light bathing an unfamiliar landscape, a humble reminder of the vastness of the universe, of the purity of our existence, of the complex miracle that is life.
the close of a sunday in el parque del buen retiro, madrid, spain.
sunset is the universal changing of the guard, when sun gives way to moon. a silent vow, a vigilant promise, as if only for our watchful eyes. one rising, one setting, and us crossing the threshold. It’s a rebirth, it’s a recharging, it’s a reminder. as day fades into night and the need for acceptance and forgiveness is forgotten.  and all that’s remains is the knowledge of existence, pure and honest and hopeful.
sunset palawan
over the horizon line on palawan island in the philippines.
witnessing the sunset for the first time in madrid was the only way i was able to conceptualize the reality of my new life- that i had moved away, had quit my job, was living in a country across the ocean from everything i knew and everything i thought i wanted and now i was there. i remember laying on my back in a park on the west side of the city and feeling the grass under my body and the warmth of the sun waning slightly and for the first time understanding not only the magnitude of my decision, but finally embracing how i wanted to be and feel and live, from that moment on, indefinitely. something about that familiar reminder connected me, grounded me, and elevated me.
sunset is a universal reminder that no matter how far we travel, how foreign the culture, how unfamiliar the landscape, how disorienting the perspective,at dusk we are blanketed in a sweet and settling confidence that existence is perhaps the only comfort we need. in any land or any home or any state of mind. and with that confidence we can and must go forth.
creating bold silhouettes in nice, france.
to travel is to seek adventure, to be definedly uncomfortable. to reject the familiarities and conveniences of life and to go forth into the unknown. and we are left with afeeling that our path is uncertain but well-trodden, that time is fleeting but will be relentlessly filled. with new people and ideas, with the life we breathe into a place and in turn, that breathes new life into us.

dusk just before the call to prayer, cappadocia, turkey.
for sunsets, and all of the impenetrable familiarity they provide.
that, is why we travel.

on the coast in the algarve, portugal.