Part 2: USA – Making my way along the East Coast

Last week I went over some day and weekend trips that I went on, around a little bit of Europe, after my completion of the Berlin Marathon. The purpose was to show my number 1 spectator, my dad from Massachusetts, a little bit of the surrounding areas that are near to where I live in France. You can read it here.

After he stayed with us for a couple weeks, we (me, Julien, and my dad) all flew to the USA in early October. This would be mine and Julien’s first vacation of the year together since snowboarding in the winter. We had a few reasons to make a 3 week trip…first: I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, second: we wanted to hit up a few spots Julien had never been to before, and third: if you’re going to fly somewhere that takes at least a half day to get to and throw in some jet lag, you should make it worth your while.

So here is a continuation from last weeks blog, part 2: USA.

Danbury, CT

Wedding number 1 of my trip back home included an old roommate and one of my best friends from Northeastern University, Jocelyn and her groom Ryan. The wedding was held at The Candlewood Inn in Connecticut. It was a blast and I wish them much love and happiness in the future!

Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal

Bride’s Wedding Party

Bride’s Wedding Party

Julien and Me

Julien and Me

Northeastern Girls

Northeastern Girls

Jocelyn and Me

Jocelyn and Me


New York, New York

Being so close to NYC, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch a few days in the city that never sleeps and visit my college friend, Liz. We kept the days packed by venturing out to Queens for a street art run tour with my instagram friend Marnie, who has the blog RunStreet, visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, brunching with an old high school friend, and then the best part of the trip, taking a helicopter tour over the Hudson, Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Awesome trip with awesome people and Liz just finished her second NYC Marathon yesterday while battling an injury, this girl is a champ!

Fearless Liz and I

Fearless Liz and I

Survivors Stairs at 9/11 Museum

Survivors Stairs at 9/11 Museum

NYC

NYC

Street Art Run

Street Art Run

Queens

Queens

Welling Court Mural Project

Welling Court Mural Project

Liz, Me and Julien in a Helicopter

Liz, Me and Julien in a Helicopter

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Helicopter Tour of NYC

Helicopter Tour of NYC

Co-Pilots

Co-Pilots

Philadelphia, PA

Wedding number 2 was held just outside Philadelphia. We were able to take a short day trip to grab food at the Reading Terminal Market and see Liberty Bell and the Rocky Steps. The wedding was for my niece Kailee and her husband Chris. It was held at Normandy Farms and gave me a chance to see a lot of my family in one place. Those lovebirds are having the time of their lives in Disney World now.

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Co-Pilots

Philly Cheesesteak

Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal

My great-niece Zoey

My great-niece Zoey

Bridal Party

Bridal Party

Kailee and Chris

Kailee and Chris

Family

Family



Washington, D.C.

From Philly, we continued driving south through Delaware and Maryland on our way to D.C. Another Instagram friend @clairerunsthere, graciously offered her apartment and took us on a fun run tour around the capital for us to catch a glimpse of the national monuments. 

Gravelly Point Park

Gravelly Point Park

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

That little place is the White House

That little place is the White House

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln



Miami, FL

From D.C. we took an early morning flight to Miami. Here we finally were able to catch up on a few days of R&R.

South Beach

South Beach

Southern Point

Southern Point

Beach Run

Beach Run

Enjoying the Florida Sun

Enjoying the Florida Sun

Happy Hour and Cuban Cigars

Happy Hour and Cuban Cigars

Don’t want to go home

Don’t want to go home



Boston, MA

After a few days of fun in the sun, we finally flew back to spend our last weekend in Boston for a dinner with friends, Halloween and to attend a New England Patriots game. With a win, it was a great way to close out our trip. 

Miming it up

Miming it up

French Mimes and Cruella Deville

French Mimes and Cruella Deville

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Dinner with Greg and Liza

Dinner with Greg and Liza

Patriots Tailgating

Patriots Tailgating

Katie and I fit to do splits

Katie and I fit to do splits

Ray, Katie, me and Julien

Ray, Katie, me and Julien

Stacie made it too!

Stacie made it too!

Pats win!

Pats Win!

Til the next time!

Til the next time!

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Work Hard, Play Hard

Hello All! I’m back!

Last you heard from me I ran the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. It’s now November. I took October off from the blog, and for good reason, as I was resting, recovering, and then partying along the east coast of the USA.  

After Berlin my father, who came to watch me run, stayed with us in France for a couple weeks. So a few trips were made around Europe until we all flew back to the US the second week of October.

In this period of time (5 weeks), I’ve visited 11 specific cities/towns, 10 states, 5 countries, and 1 district. Amazing! I can’t imagine covering all of it with you, nor do I want to bore you, but I’ll do my best to make a brief recap for ya. 

This week will be Part 1: pre-USA.

Colmar, France 

Quaint town on the eastern side of France, close to Strasbourg. Known for alsascien architecture, cuisine, and the seasonal Christmas Markets.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise

Alsacien Food

Alsacien Food

Colmar, France

Colmar, France

 

Nancy, France 

I’ve visited Nancy, which is 45 Minutes south of Metz, before on my own (click here to read about it). However, I liked it enough to bring my dad down to see it for a day.

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

Porte Stanislas

Porte Stanislas

Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation

Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation

 

Verdun, France 

Known for it’s WWI battle, the small village holds several memorials for the French Military.

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Duoaumont Ossuary

Duoaumont Ossuary

Le Fort de Duoaumont

Le Fort de Duoaumont


Luxembourg 

A small country that boasts beautiful countryside and plenty of historical value throughout.

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

Château de Vianden

Château de Vianden

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Inside Beaufort Castle

Inside Beaufort Castle

 

London, England 

A place I’ve been to several times, but my dad has not. We decided to cross the channel for a weekend.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

The Mall

The Mall

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

 

I’ll continue Part 2: USA next week where we trekked along the east coast for 3 weeks!

Throwback to Japan

Facebook is great at remembering dates that happened, “On This Day”. Eight years ago this month, I made my way to Tokyo while a friend worked abroad there. Memories made, some remembered vaguely, and the experience of a lifetime ensued next. 

After 20 hours of flying leaving Boston on a Friday at 10:30am, I arrived to Tokyo on Saturday at 5:20pm with a 13 hour time difference. Meeting up with my friend Katie, we made it to our hotel in the Shinagawa ward of Tokyo after an hour train ride from the airport to the city. Having dinner and several Kirins, we ended up meeting an Australian couple at the hotel bar who was in town for breeding horses. I end up doing a couple of tourist attractions with the couple later in the week as well. 

The next day we made our way over to the ward of Asakusa with open air markets and several shrines. Japan has two primary religions: Shinto and Buddhism, which co-exist and are complementary to each other. Here we could participate in a few rituals such as wafting smoke to inhale from burning incense, collecting water from a fountain with a cup but then drinking it from your hand to then spit back out, paying to write prayers on piece of paper to attach to an outside post to the shrine, or participating in yoga like prayer while tossing coins into a tin collection. We also experienced a customary lunch that day which required your shoes to be taken off and sitting crossed legged on pillows as you cooked your meats and vegetables in a hot broth being boiled on your table. 

Asakusa with Katie

Asakusa with Katie

Buddhist ritual

Buddhist Ritual

Park in Asakusa

Park in Asakusa

That evening we took the subway to Shibuya, with an equivalency comparable to NYC Times Square. An immediate difference, however, is the cleanliness of the city and the politeness and friendliness of the natives to foreigners. The area hosts thousands upon thousands of people shopping, eating, and walking about. Great entertainment if you enjoy people watching. While having dinner that evening at a restaurant called 603, we felt our first earthquake and learned the experience was somewhat common and experienced several more throughout the week. This happened to be a year and half before the terrible earthquake and tsunami hit Japan 2011.
Shibuya

Shibuya

“Franklin”

Famous Shibuya Crossing

Famous Shibuya Crossing

The next day I ventured solo, south of Tokyo by train, to Kamakura. I ventured to Engaku-ji Temple which houses monks and an 8 foot bell at the top of a hill which requires you to take several flights stairs to access. I made my way around the small city center to do a bit of shopping and to tour the Great Buddha, otherwise known as Diabutsu, within the Buddhist temple of Kōtoku-in. It is a bronze statue that stands 37 feet tall. It was massively impressive. Making my way back to the train I visited Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, one of the most important Shinto shrines in Kamakura and where one of my favorite photos of Sake Barrels was taken.

Engaku-ji Temple

Engaku-ji Temple

Komyogi Temple Bell

Komyogi Temple Bell

Diabutsu

Diabutsu

Kōtoku-in Temple

Kōtoku-in Temple

Giant Buddha

Giant Buddha

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū

Sake Barrels

Sake Barrels

The weather in August is hot, humid, and some days full of rain. This day happened to be one of them, as were most of the days of my trip.

The next morning we were awoken to our 16th floor hotel room shaking at 5:02am. We were experiencing our 2nd earthquake. Unsure of what to do for the 30 seconds that seemed forever, I vaguely remember hoping into the tub. Unsure of our rational back then, it seemed like the most logical solution. By the way, Japan’s technology seemed to be quite ahead of Americans, that even the toilets and showers light up, heat up, and self clean. But I digress. Eventually the shaking stopped but we were pretty rattled ourselves so decided it was a good time to head over to the famous Tsujiki Fish Market in Shimbashi district.

Tsujiki is the largest fish market in the world. We probably saw every type of fish imaginable, along with whole Tunas that was claimed to be the most expensive in the world. The workers were quite disgruntled with having to work around the tourists and it being already close to 100 degrees by 6am, I can understand why they would be annoyed. 

Tsujiki Fish Market

Tsujiki Fish Market

Tsujiki Fish Market

Tsujiki Fish Market

Making our way back after an incredibly hot and humid trip, I showered up again and then took a bus tour from the hotel to Mt. Fuji and the town of Hakone. After a 2 1/2 hour bus ride, we made our way to the 5th station (out of 12) and also the highest point cars can drive up to Mt. Fuji. We were given some time to explore, shop, and walk around. I hiked a bit of a trail but unfortunate you could not see the peak due to the clouds. 

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji

Hiking up Mt. Fuji

Hiking up Mt. Fuji

Hikers at the 5th station

Hikers at the 5th Station

View from 5th Station

View from 5th Station

Views from Mt. Fuji

Views from Mt. Fuji

2,305m up from sea level at 5th Station

2,305m from sea level at 5th Station

We then continued to drive on to Hakone, which houses sulfur hot springs and Lake Ashi. Upon arrival, we took a cable car up to the hot springs. Unfortunately, The cloudy weather stuck with us and made it difficult to see anything. However, you could certainly smell the sulfur. Here you could participate in a ritual where one is supposed to eat a boiled egg from the sulfur water that turns the egg black, claiming to add 7 years to your life.

We drove our way back down to the Lake, where we got on a large Pirate looking ship and took a cruise. Our tour ended with taking the Bullet train back to Tokyo. The ride was incredibly fast, lasting 30 minutes. I was also on the tour with the Australian couple we met earlier in the week, in which I found out the husband, Kerry O’Brien, had participated in the ’68 & ’72 Olympics for the Steeplechase. The world is so interesting!

Kerry O'Brien, Australian Olympic Athlete. Photo from: Racing Past

Kerry O’Brien (2), Australian Olympic Athlete. Photo from: Racing Past

That evening we had dinner with them, a couple of their associates, and I ended up going to a traditional Japanese Karaoke Bar late night. However, word of advice, don’t leave your friends overnight, in a foreign city, without a working cell phone.

The next morning I toured parts of Tokyo. When I got off the subway a Japanese University student named Takashi, wanting to practice his English, offered to help show me around. We went to the Imperial Gardens where the emperor lives. We went to Ginza, which reminds me of 5th Avenue or Newbury Street. We then made our way over to Roppongi and viewed the Tokyo Tower. 

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

After several days of jet lag, I finally slept through the night and got an early morning start the next day to visit Harajuku and Ueno. Harajuku is famous with the Japanese youths for shopping including American/British style clothing and some girls that dress up like baby dolls. A colorful area for sure. After, I made my way to Ueno park and visited the zoo and Tokyo National Museum of Western Art.

Harajuku

Harajuku

Harajuku

Harajuku

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

The city is vibrant with culture and history but also modern with advanced technology. I’m lucky and happy to have made it to that side of the world. 

Hachikō, the loyal dog and a couple of other Huskies

Hachikō, the loyal Akita dog and a couple of other Huskies

The Algarve, Portugal

Last week I had an amazing opportunity to spend time and vacation in the Algarve (the southern-most region of Portugal). 

I had no expectations of Portugal but I left craving much more of this beautiful country. 

A group of friends decided to rent a home 25 minutes inland between the cities of Faro and Tavira, based on the recommendation of one who happened to grow up in this region. We were led onto a narrow dirt road for about 3km uphill with, at times, cliff-like views. With some thinking this was a cruel joke and we were just being taken off the beaten path to end up as human kebab in some restaurant, we arrived to a lovely home with no surrounding neighbors, properly manicured land, a huge in-ground pool with the most breathtaking views. I was blown away and had to pinch myself that I was lucky enough to experience this for a week.


We arrived on a Saturday, rounded up a few groceries and had ourselves a bbq that evening. That evening I learned about the Portugeuse sparkling rosé called Mateus. At a little under 3€ a bottle, we seemed to have found our deliciously, affordable cordial for the week. 


With the weather between 74-90F/23-32C, we were able to have some R&R under the sun for the majority of the week. A few days were spent lounging by the pool, a few days of running on the trail paths behind the house, and a couple more out and exploring the cities that surrounded us. 


The first adventure was to Faro, where my friend Suzy attended university. It’s a lively city with a mix of high rises, old town heritage, bars and shopping, next to a beautiful coastline. 


The next adventure was to Tavira. A charming city, Tavira provided us with souvenir shops, lunch with my first time trying octopus, a boat ride to the Ilha of Tavira where Costa Beach resides along with campers in the natural terrain and small outdoor restaurants. I thought, “I could live here forever”.


I can’t forget my roots, as we were there during the 4th of July, and my understanding international friends allowed me to have an American day with patriot music, USA themed attire, and burgers for dinner. 


We were also in town for the semi-final match of the EuroCup 2016 between Portugal vs Wales. Faro hosts a large tv for large groups to gather to watch the game with street food vendors and beer tents. Such a cool atmosphere especially since Portugal went on to win. However, my alliance remains with Les Bleus. (But who am I kidding, it’s not like American Football or my passion for the New England Patriots).

In conclusion, this economically friendly, beautiful, country with Mediterranean climate and so much to see and do, should be on anyone’s bucket list.

Switzerland

If you missed me last week it was because I spent an amazing week in Switzerland. 

I’m a avid snowboarder and after my first experience in the Swiss Alps last year, I knew I had to go back. 

We were able to stay at a chalet in Laax. You take a 10 min walk to the first trail that will bring you to the base. At that point you take a 50 person cable car. At the conclusion you can get off and start skiing or take another cable car to one of the higher peaks. In total this trip from door to peak takes about 35 minutes. The views are breathtaking and luckily for us we had 3 gorgeous Spring Days.

   
    
   
On Wednesday we decided to take a day trip because the conditions were quite foggy. It was suggested to visit southern Switzerland to the city of Lugano, near the Italian border. The drive is about 2 hours but not for the faint of heart. The first hour of driving out of the Alps is highways made up of long tunnels, lots of turns and descents and stunning cliff-like views. It’s amazing what man, engineering and architecture can do within natural terrain. 

 photo cred: www.studentflights.com.au

Once we arrived in Lugano, the weather was clear skys. It’s a beautiful city with a big lake with palm trees and gorgeous mountain views. It reminded me of late 70’s-early 80’s Hollywood.  This part of Switzerland speaks Italian. (Fun fact: there are 4 languages spoken by Swiss folks, German, French, Italian and Romansh). With it being a weekday and week before Easter and being somewhat off-season, the place was a ghost town. We had a great Italian pasta lunch, walked around, took a 40 min tour bus and enjoyed some gelato before heading back to Laax. 
   
    
 
We contemplated another ski day on Thursday but opted for a short but hilly run instead – At this point the marathon is 13 days out. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon drinking beers on the patio and taking in some Vitamin D, which I lacked plenty of this winter. 

   

Friday we cleaned up and closed up shop and headed to our friends flat in Zurich to spend Easter. We continued to be lucky with the weather to be touristy in the clean, artsy, exceptionally well kept city.

   

  

Finally we made our way back to Metz (3:30 hour drive from Zurich – I love Europe) and back to real life. But not for long…2 days until I go to Paris and grab my dad and sister at the airport and meet up with my childhood friend, Dorothy. And if my latest left piriformis/hamstring  injury that started on Monday (I think from sitting in a car too long, irritating my sciatic nerve 😡) allows me, I’ll be running the Paris Marathon on Sunday April 3rd. Wish me healing luck!!

  

A West Virginian Wedding

The Bride

The mother of the bride and my sister

Bridal Party

Working the dance floor

So I’ve been traveling for the past 2.5 weeks. My trip started domestically in Beckley, West Virginia for my niece’s wedding on August 8th. The yellow and blue themed wedding (Go Mountaineers!) was a blast and I got to hang out with my family for a few days before heading to the South of France for vacation and then onto Luxembourg for some tourism, food, and interviews. More on the international travel in the next blog post!

Flying to Beckley from Boston is not an easy task. You must take a commercial flight to Charlotte, NC then a small company called VIA Air will transport you to the one runway airport in the small town that has about 5 employees (TSA agent, ticket agent, flight attendant, pilot, and baggage carrier). Honestly.

My dad had driven down so he was able to pick up me and my sister’s longtime friend, who had also flown in from Boston with me. We stayed at a reasonable Courtyard a few miles down the road and started the evening out with a few beers at my niece’s favorite town bar called Sir Walter’s Tavern. A cute, lounge below a theater with good craft beers and cheap liquor drinks. Affordable and fun and her friendship with the bartender allowed us to have control of the music.

The next day was the rehearsal and dinner with family and bridal party. Don’t worry, I got a quick workout in at the hotel with Beachbody on Demand (Get your free 30 Day trial here). Luckily, my groomsman was taller than me (good for pics) but kind enough to slow down his steps so I could keep up down the aisle. Now, there were 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen in a small church that had stairs at the podium. We actually had to practice 2 placements during the rehearsal, which meant my fear of high heels and these stairs were soon to meet. I being the stronger and more able bodied human, defeated the stairs without falling. Twice. This improved my confidence to master heels on stairs for the real thing to come the next day. Dinner was at a lovely small Italian restaurant that I can’t remember the name but had good enough red wine to help me fall asleep easily for a 5am wake up call to get hair done the next day.

Morning of the wedding required 8 women to get up-do’s, mimosas and delicious pastries to hold us over until the reception. The photographer came to do some getting ready shots and the bride, maid of honor and mother of the bride were off to the church. The rest of us were on our own. Never to fear, dad was near!

The wedding ceremony was short and sweet with the beautiful Ellie Goulding song “How Long Will I Love You” to bring the bride and father of the bride down the aisle to bring a happy, tearful moment to watch. The groom was dapper and had only eyes on his princess bride. It was a proud moment to be a part of. Then…the unity candle not lighting brought about some comedic relief to break the happy tears. My niece being on TV as a meteorologist, quick to react to improv, took one of the combining candles and blew it out, leaving a single candle to continue to burn to symbolize their love. And then there was the ring “the circle”, it’s a circle because it is not a triangle. A kiss, more pictures, a hungry and thirsty bridal party, and we were off to the Tamarack to party.

A buffet Italian styled dinner, a keg, some nips in purses and free soft drinks from the bar, a 90’s themed DJ and rocking afterparty back at Sir Walter’s until midnight concluded the happy day.

The new married couple were off to a Caribbean Cruise the next morning at 6am and the rest of us had a day to relax and recover. A college friend of the bride brought my dad and I on a hiking tour of the New River Gorge Bridge with a majestic view of the Gorge. A good 4 mile hike to sweat out some of the partying that had occurred the past few days. Then Pies and Pints for Traveler Grapefruit Shandy and Siracha Pizza concluded my domestic vacay. I’m truly feeling the effects of 2.5 weeks of diet and nutrition change from not having daily ShakeO, eating not-so-well and disruption of my regular fitness routine, which was still muddled on my next trip internationally but with less restrictions of having to do something every single day, I was able to modify back to a healthier routine. Next Blog!

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