• That Time I Studied Abroad,  The Great European Adventure

    Churros con Chocolate

    One thing that is better in Europe than in the United States is hot chocolate. Hands. Down. This is not to say you can’t find delicious hot chocolate in the U.S., but the standard hot chocolate in this country is a far cry from the standard hot chocolate in countries like Spain and France. I particularly love ordering hot chocolate in Spain when it comes with a healthy serving of churros (fried dough) for dipping. And by “healthy” I mean “large,” just to clarify. Hot chocolate in Spain is mostly melted dark chocolate with a little milk and sugar mixed into it. Sometimes it’s so thick you need to drink…

  • Close to Home

    Wild Raspberry

    E and I are at his parents’ house in New Hampshire for Thanksgiving, and while it’s not too cold yet, there are a few inches of snow on the ground already. One of my favorite things to do when we visit E’s family is to wander the garden and interact with the plants whether I’m touching, smelling, tasting, or photographing them. I took this photo of a raspberry bush at their old house (which is about 15 minutes down the road from the new one), and recently made it my computer background. Every time E sees it he comments on how delicious the raspberry looks. The landscape is a little…

  • The Great European Adventure

    Da Vinci and Me

    I’m currently working in an exhibit about Leonardo Da Vinci, and while the focus is mostly on his inventions, there’s also a large section on the Mona Lisa and an interesting video about The Last Supper. I could have seen The Last Supper in person when I was in Milan in 2012 but… I didn’t. There are a limited number of tickets to view the mural each day and you usually have to get one as part of a larger tour package and I wasn’t organized or motivated enough to make it happen. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have much interest in Renaissance art and I ended up in…

  • Uncategorized

    Otavalo From Above

    Otavalo is home to the largest artisanal craft market in South America. The Otavaleños (people from Otavalo), especially the indigenous Kichwa community, are known for their textile work and the market is made up of stall after stall of clothing, bags, blankets, hats, belts, jewelry, and artwork of all kinds. This central plaza is always packed with vendors, but on Saturdays the market spills over into the nearby streets taking up as much as a third of the town. The crafts mostly appeal to tourists while the nearby animal market caters to locals. When I visited, there were still plenty of tourists (such as myself) around taking photos of the…

  • That Time I Studied Abroad

    Park Güell, Barcelona

    When I studied abroad in Barcelona in 2010, I visited Park Güell several times. It had nice gardens and walking paths, many examples of the architect Antoni Gaudí’s signature whimsy, a stunning view of the rest of the city stretching out towards the sea below you, and it was free. By the time I took E to Barcelona in 2015 to show him all my favorite places in my favorite city, Park Güell cost 7 euros and had ugly stanchions to keep people out. It’s not an exorbitant fee, and it’s still worth visiting despite the crowds, but it feels a little less magical than it used to.

  • Feeeeelings

    Literally Escaping Into a Fantasy World

    The day after the election, E and I walked to work, and for most of the two miles we talked about D&D. When we saw our coworkers later, E joked that we were coping by “literally escaping into a fantasy world.” I have since made this joke to countless other friends and acquaintances so apologies if you’ve heard it from me already. Here’s the thing though: D&D is a great coping mechanism, and I highly recommend it. E and I have a game we’ve been playing every few weeks for several months with my brother and his partner, RJ. They live in Vancouver so we play via skype, and it’s…

  • Wandering India

    People Watching in Rishikesh

    I think Rishikesh was my favorite stop during my three week trip to India in 2013. The city existed on both sides of the Ganges River, and was connected most notably by this pedestrian suspension bridge. And when I say pedestrian bridge, what I really mean is pedestrian/bicycle/motorcycle/monkey/cow bridge. The crush of people in India was always impressive, and this bridge was a microcosm. One day I was drinking tea at a cafe overlooking the bridge and watched as a bull began to charge across. It had been ambling along agreeably and I’m not sure what startled it, but suddenly it was knocking people down and sending others running. A…

  • Close to Home

    Old Friends / Bookends

    Some old friends came to visit me in Boston this past weekend. We may only be in our mid-20s, but we’ve known each other since high school — I’ve known two of the women in this group for more than 15 years. And I’m pretty sure that meets the minimum requirements for old friends. We grew up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island and we were brought together by honors classes, but we’ve stayed in touch because of Suncook Lake in New Hampshire. There are six of us who have gotten together on this lake most summers since we graduated from high school. There’s no internet at the cabin there and…

  • The Great European Adventure

    The Rooftops of Paris

    When I think of Paris, I picture these gray-blue rooftops and their red-orange chimneys. Of course, I also picture the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and a whole host of other prominent landmarks. These places are so iconic, such a part of our cultural consciousness, I could picture them before I’d ever visited Paris. I remember my mother and I were so surprised to see Parisians walking the streets of their city wearing berets and carrying baguettes that we started to keep a tally. The behavior seemed too obviously, stereotypically French to be real, and yet there it was. Conversely, no one had ever told me about…

  • Uncategorized

    So Much Moss

    When I visited my brother and his partner last Fall, I’d never been to a temperate rainforest before. They live in Vancouver, which is a city known for its proximity to wonderful hiking and skiing, but neither of them are hikers, nor skiers. In fact, they’re pretty indoorsy people. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, just north of the city, is a nice compromise when you’re looking for natural beauty accessible by public transit. We had skipped this particular attraction the previous year when our mother was with us because she has a fear of falling. The suspension bridge for which the park is named is 450 feet long and strong enough…