Category Archives: United States + Canada

Taking a Bite of the Big Apple

New York and I, we are ready to fall in love! Or rather, I am ready to take a BITE of the Big Apple.

in NYC

Few cities have inspired as many dreamers to pursue their dreams, and even fewer have received as much great writing dedicated to them. New York City is definitely unique in that aspect. Nonetheless, I did not, however, immediately fall head-over-heels for the city. In fact, I had started off not liking the city. 

New York is not a city that will hand anything to you easy, you have to fight and prove that you are worthy of what it has to offer. When I was looking for my apartment, I was literally utilizing all known resources — brokers, craigslist, facebook, websites (read more about apartment-hunting tips HERE). It was crazy. I am so thankful that I have settled in and am ready for new challenges.

E. B. White, renowned American writer and reporter, writes in his 1948 essay “Here is New York,” that there are three New Yorks.

There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something ….Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. 

The natives, the commuters, and the settlers. I am of the last group. Thank you E. B. White, you have inspired me!

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Before making it in New York, you need to find an apartment

There is no place like New York — it promises mystery, beauty, surprises, possibilities, glamour, and endless diversions. Yet, the city is also downright unattractive; it is dirty and smelly and, at times, rude. New York is not a city that will hand you anything easy. American writer, E.B. White, writes in his book Here is New York (1949):

“… the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience — if they did they would live elsewhere.”

I cannot help but chuckle. Indeed, finding an apartment in New York is frustrating and ridiculous, what do you mean the there is a broker fee? 15% of my annual rent? That’s more than one month’s rent!

Web Img / Credit: www.gonetonewyork.com

Web Img / Credit: www.gonetonewyork.com

Being new to the city looking for an apartment is hard and frightening, but it can be done. Here are some tips to getting your started on becoming a true New Yorker!

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Local, Fresh, Delicious — “A Day at the Market”

In the food world, all right-minded eaters are supposed to eat locally, seasonally, and sustainably. The term locavore, which was added to the Oxford American Dictionary in 2007, has become part of mainstream vernacular for food discourse.

What does this mean for the movement? While eating local may not be a sensible option for everyone, you can start building your personal 100-mile food system right here, at your local farmers markets.

VIDEO: “A Day at Farmers Market”

FM 5

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Girls’ Best Friend: teas and cakes

The best way to catch up with a girlfriend or girlfriends is over a cup of tea and cakes. Supposedly the practice of entertaining with “tea and a walk with in the fields,” aka afternoon tea, started in early nineteenth century Britian  by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Afternoon Tea

Prior to the introduction of tea, the English had two main meals — breakfast and dinner (dinner was served around eight o’clock). The Duchess was said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Her solution was a pot of tea and a light snack. Later, she invited her friends to join her. The practice proved to be so popular that the other social hostesses quickly picked up the idea.

Join the fashionable society for your sip of tea. Below, a list of recommendations.

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Just us, luxury cabin and the Appalachian Mountain

Dominated by the rocky terrain of Appalachian Mountain, New Hampshire is appropriately dubbed “the Granite State”. Of course, the nickname refers to both its landscape as well as its inhabitants’ independent spirit — a New Hampshire native general, while fighting the British in 1777, proclaimed “Live free or die.”

The state, which is the second most forested state in the nation, offers breathtaking foliage drives in fall, as well as an array of winter sports in winter. List of popular activities include: skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and ziplining, to name a few. Everything sounds great (pseudo bright voice), minus the fact that I am here in early April, its mud season.

Translation: there is nothing to do.

New England’s early April is an awkward time. With its still-in-the-melting process snow and temperature hovering between 35~50°F (2~8°C), all outdoor activities are out of question. Too little snow, too wet, too cold, too blah blah blah blah.

I had my heart set on ziplining and was devastated (in a lower “d” kind of way) to learn that the attraction is only available in the summer, starting mid-May. (o__o)ll

Despite minor disappointments, I’ve enjoyed my stay in New Hampshire. In fact, I loved it! Thanks to Eagle Mountain House, I got my vacation cabin escape. It was pure bliss!

Jackson, NH

Eagle Mt. House 1

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When it comes to Maine, there’s only lobster (and more lobster)

Top reasons to visit Maine:

  1. Lobster
  2. Lobster Roll

Barnacle BillyBefore the trip even started, I have already compiled my list of Top-Five Lobster Shack. I was most determined to go to  Five Island Lobster Co. because I read that the place — perched on the edge of Sheepscot Bay, with no indoor seating,  is the quintessential lobster shack. As I read through reviews, I started imagining myself, in a cozy sweater, eating a 3lb lobster while overlooking the bay and watching the sun sets. Ah, perfect… that was, until I discovered that Five Island Lobster opens May 11. 

I was CRUSHED. While some may argue that “a lobster is a lobster, they all taste good,” I believe that there are “good lobster” and “just lobster.” In my quest for an authentic Maine-lobster-experience (and a place that is open), I landed in Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit.     Continue reading

Boston spells history and best value Italian

Boston, New England’s largest cosmopolitan city, has much to offer. First, it is rich in history. The 2.5-mile Freedom Trail that snakes through town ensures, most definitely, that you will not leave this city without getting a lesson on the American Revolution. Second, it is exciting. Home to the Boston Red Sox, you, if you are a Red Sox fan, will die for a chance to pay homage to Fenway Park. Supposedly the Red Sox got “cursed” after they traded pitcher Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920s. Nonetheless, the Red Sox exorcised “The Curse” by winning the World Series in 2004, and again in 2007. Third, it is refined. The city’s renowned universities and cultural institutions gain Boston the title of “the Athens of America.”

Gov Center, markets

With so much to do, what should I do? If you, like me, have only one day in Boston, consider devoting the day to Freedom Trail. Start from Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States. Then walk to City Hall and grab lunch at adjoining Faneuil Market, which is the name given to all five buildings in this shopping complex (images, below). Lastly, finish your walk in the North End (aka Little Italy). Here, you can visit the Old North Church of “One if by land, two if by sea” as well as grab great Italian foods.

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Romancing the notion of “On the Road”

Viva la road trip! The advent of automobile paired with highway building and cheap gas prices ($0.60 per gallon!) in the 50s meant greater mobility — one could travel great distance in a car. The drive to go places, to search for the where, what, and why may be best exemplified by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, which captures the essence of the “Beat” sensibility. Despite the fact that Kerouac depicts the Beat generation as “so lonely, so sad, so tired, so quivering, so broken, so beat,” to be “on the road” is largely romanticized — the American landscape appears expansive and beautiful.

Credit: online image, busbank.com

Credit: online image, busbank.com

My idea of a road trip (definitely romanticized) connotes image of open roads and feeling of absolute freedom. That illusion, however, was before I went on my New England road trip in April. The reality is, we were driving a lot. Hence, should you ever be tempted to go on a road trip, be careful who you pick as your travel buddy (-ies).

Route (800.8 mi): Boston, MA → Portland, ME → Jackson, NH → Portland, ME → Cape Cod, MA

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