travel


I miss the days when the world was flat, she said. That wasn’t really true, he replied, people just made that up to scare us into believing we’d fall into the ocean if we left our own little corners. You’re wrong, she told him, I know it used to be flat. But now people have to worry so much about falling into love that it’s better if we think we live in a safe circle.

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if you’re female, and you have any aspirations of ever running a race that allows you to showcase your love of all things girlie while simultaneously achieving a great physical accomplishment, i advise you to seriously consider signing up for this one:

trust me on this. it’s an absolutely incredible, once-in-a-lifetime (or however many times you decide to run it in a lifetime) experience. i’ve never seen so many people run like girls.

and the best thing is, we all did it on purpose.

photo: runDisney
photographer: Preston Mack

by “we all,” i mean about 20,000 of us (5% whom were males!) Disney-crazed lunatics who signed up for a 5:30 start time for the sheer girlieness of running Disney’s Princess Half Marathon on February 26. i was more nervous about waking up at 3:30am and being able to function like a normal girl (let alone a PRINCESS!) than i was about running 13.1 miles, but as was the case in my last race, God put his little angels on my shoulders and made sure that everything went better than i could have ever expected.

i can’t lie — i was realllly excited to finally be running this race.

i’d recommend running this even if you’ve never run a half marathon before, or doubt that you can. it’s an ideal first half for a girl to choose. the energy and enthusiasm is incredibly infectious, as women of all ages, athletic abilities, & backgrounds flock from all around the country/world to run like princesses through Cinderella’s Castle (yes, that’s part of the route!). it was such a FUN race, my cheeks were sore from grinning so much.

as you’d expect from a Disney event, the race was extremely well-organized. i mean, do they ever do anything poorly? as if the energy and enthusiasm of 20,000 women wasn’t contagious enough to keep us all peppy throughout 2 hours of running, they set up entertainment for us at every mile by having various Disney characters staged to cheer us on and serve as photo opps. some were hilarious, like the barrage of Disney men (Eric, Aladdin, etc.) who posed with the runners as the song “Whatta Man” by Salt n Peppa blared in the background. (you can bet that photo line was looooong.)

if i run it again, i think i’d forgo running for a time goal and instead bring my camera to take advantage of every character photo opp i could. what a cool collage this race would lend itself toward!

sadly, i dropped the ball on procuring a costume and failed to dress up as a princess (although they ask you your favorite princess and print it on your bib! any guesses as to who is mine??), so that’s a goal for next year. i was surrounded by thousands of women in costumes — wings, tutus, glitter, tiaras, you name it — and i felt sadly unfestive.

next year, i will princess it up. anyone with me?

ever feel like this?

‘cuz i do.

every day.

When I was a senior in college, my favorite band of all times played a show nearby. I’d seen the Counting Crows live before, but this show was magical for me and has remained with me ever since as one of those indelible moments of sheer beauty that seem so very perfect, you couldn’t have painted it into your life if you’d even been able to imagine it.

I hold fast to my assertion that Adam Duritz may very well be the most incredible lyricist/poet of our generation. Don’t believe me? Just read through his lyrics. It’s like Beauty, harnessed from thin air and molded into syllables and characters we just might stand a chance at attempting to comprehend. The man is crazygenius.

They ended the show with their then-new song “Holiday in Spain,” on a dark stage pinpointed with candles and lights, and the whole moment was so surreal and transcendent for me that I found myself moved, quite literally, to tears. (Yes, I was “that girl,” crying at the concert. We all have those emo moments, don’t we? Let me believe we do. Thx.)

All this, then, to segue into my most recent Wanderlusting adventure: a holiday in Spain, perhaps inexplicably forshadowed by my obsession with this song. I can’t say I’d ever held Spain high on my list of “must-sees” until I went to Paris last year, and everyone kept telling me I had to see Barcelona. Couple that with the line “Or we could simply pack our bags and catch a plane to Barcelona, ‘cuz this city’s a drag,” and I got the hint:

Spain was calling me. So I went.

 

It was a little over a month ago now, this whim of a trip, and I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to write about it. Sometimes the most delicious adventures are the most difficult to put into words, because you’re doomed from the beginning in your futile attempts to convey the magic you experienced with mere dotted  “eyes” and crossed “tees.” You can try, but you can never fully explain to someone what you felt like when you fell into that other life and lost yourself completely.

 In Barcelona, I discovered that Gaudi built me a little nook in Parc Guell. How thoughtful!

Everything was amazing: the weather, the culture, the architecture, the food, the people — I loved it all. I’d been forewarned that I might fall in love with Barcelona, but I actually ended up enjoying my time in Madrid even more so. (Posts about each city to follow.)

So it was Paris in 2010 and Spain in 2011…I think I need to continue this European-trip-a-year thing in 2012! Italy or Greece, anyone?

hi loves!

i know, i know…i’m sooooo behind, and have a lot of catching up to do on here! i have lots to fill you in on — like my international traveling and my fabulous adventures in Spain and fun NY silliness lately, but for now, i’ll just leave you with this very talented photographer’s fun site to check out — and i promise to post about my goings-on really soon.

one of the highlights of my recent trip to Spain was meeting new friends in Madrid, one of whom is a great photographer who so kindly flattered me with a feature on his photoblog. please visit his site and enjoy his photos!

Dokmateo’s Photos

before arriving in San Fran, Jess & i had identified some “must-see” sites that we would be dragging the other one to, like-it-or-not. between her foodie obsession and my hippie fascination, we figured this city had a lot to offer us.
 
of course, there were a bunch of spots that we both wanted to hit, like these pretty little Painted Ladies:

"Um, excuse me, which one is the Tanners'?"

we both grew up diehard Full House fans (ummm who didn’t?), and we were singing the theme song since we got to the airport. and by the airport, i mean JFK, before even leaving NY. we wanted to visit the park across the street to confirm the rumors that it is not, in fact, the same park that they feature during the theme song each episode. (we agreed it looked like a different park.)

i feel like my whole childhood just came full circle in that magical moment of seeing the house where Uncle Jesse and his coveted hair slept.

Have mercy!

so, on a little less wholesome note…

one of the places i insisted upon seeing was the Haight & Ashbury corner, because my hippie-loving self couldn’t leave San Fran without scoping out the spot where all the crazies nestled. i mean, this was the iconic center of the hippie movement in the 1960s! if i was ever going to catch myself a smelly dreaded boyfriend with no ambition but a fervent appreciation for poetry and traveling, this would surely be the spot.

do i look like a hippie? no? i didn't wash my hair, i swear.

of course there’s an ice cream shop there now. there would be.

we didn’t see anything too out-of-the-ordinary on Haight St. (nothing like the 3 dead people, the contact high we got walking across the lawn, or the request for acid that we encountered all within 5 minutes of being in Dolores Park in the Mission District the previous day), so i was a little disappointed, but it was a cool neighborhood all the same — even if we were afraid to touch anything until we got to the Whole Foods at the end of the street.

we then traipsed through the Golden Gate Park and relaxed on a sunny bench to have lunch. the park is right at the end of Haight St., and was absolutely beautiful.

we saw some choreographed roller skaters and watched an impromptu band of filthy human beings playing terrible music while engaging in some sort of spasmodic dancing, which sadly made us feel much better about ourselves, and then we went back to Whole Foods to check out the boys in the fish department because Jess swore she saw a cute one in there somewhere.

just another lovely day in hippie-ville.

i may be a city girl, but i like the peaceful serenity of a rustic country life every now and then. annnnd, i like good wine.

Roman God of wine & the grape harvest

needless to say, wine country called to me like the ocean calls a pirate. Jess and i woke up early on the day we’d decided to drive up to Napa & Sonoma from San Francisco, eager to spend a day touring the wineries and taking in the beautiful landscape. we knew this was going to be a definite highlight of the trip.

map me out a wine tour, will you?

we got there around 10:30 am (thankfully, most of the wineries open at 10), and the first one we hit was Schug Carneros Estate Winery in Sonoma. we hadn’t heard of this one, but we had to start somewhere, so we pulled in.

Schug Winery in Sonoma

it was the smallest one we went to, but a nice, understated place to begin, and the staff was extremely friendly. it was also very well priced: we did a 5 wine tasting for $5. i really liked their Savignon Blanc and ended up buying a bottle.

it was also a beautiful view, stretching out over wine country on a crystal clear morning in late August. we couldn’t have hand-picked a better day.

view from Schug Winery

 from here, we drove into the heart of Sonoma to  Sonoma Plaza (or Sonoma Square),  which we’d been told was an absolutely lovely little center offering shopping, wine tastings, bakeries, eateries, and the like.

we fell in love with it…because really, what’s not to love?

right around the corner from center square was the next winery we haunted — and it was a gooood one. so good, that we returned to it again later on that evening, after visiting two more wineries in Napa.

we were so glad we stumbled upon Sebastiani, and we got realllly excited about the “Crushpad” sign for a hot second, hoping we’d be squishing our bare toes in grapes. that never happened, but regardless, this winery was a big hit. if you’re ever in Sonoma, go here, and take advantage of the free tour, too. it’s pretty dang sweet.

the tasting room is set in an incredible castle-esque structure with stunning arched cathedral ceilings and a rich stone and wooden interior, with a long stretch of bar gracing one whole wall. we were captivated from the moment we walked in, when Jess immediately spotted a wooden table she wanted and i asked the pourer, “so what’s a girl gotta do to get a job around here?”

"This is the table I want!"

 

"Look, an 'S' for Shawna! Okay, so it's probably for Sebastiani, but whatever...I need a picture."

we partook in their Regular Tasting option, which allowed us to try seven (amazing) wines for $10. (okay, well, eight actually, because the guy had a particular favorite that wasn’t on the tasting list that he wanted us to try…it’s nice being a girl!). i kid you not when i say we liked every single wine, and we both ended up buying a bottle of the Red Zinfandel. it was delicious (and still sitting in my apartment awaiting a good excuse or special occasion for the drinking!).

fortuitiously, we finished our tasting just as a tour was about to begin: they offer (free) historic tours every day, three times a day. the tour lasted about a half hour and walked us through the history of the winery, the importance of a wine maker’s calendar, and concluded with a view of one of the distilling rooms with the vats and vats of wine. i think the tour guide thought i was joking when i asked if we got to stomp on grapes.

 and as our good luck would have it, we happened to be there on the last Friday of the month, which meant party night at Sebastiani and “food truck” night. every final Friday the winery remains open til 9pm, and a variety of food trucks set up in their parking lot and people come to enjoy wine and outdoor eating in their lovely courtyard. after a full day of traipsing to four different wineries (the final two are coming in my next post!), we returned to Sebastiani to find a picture-perfect lawn party in full-swing, complete with a fabulous band and a beautiful sunset. clearly, we hit Sonoma on the right day.
 
and no, i didn’t pick up an application.
yet.
 

Clearly, I belong here.

 

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