Cities

Be Outraged and Resist

Trump has been in office for a week and the country is on fire. It started with limiting a woman's right to choose and an effort to start dismantling universal healthcare (see the reinstatement of the global gag rule), setting back climate change efforts and clamping down on science as a whole (see Keystone XL & Dakota Access pipelines and Federal science actions), and attacking immigrants on multiple fronts with a particular emphasis on Muslims (see the border wall and Muslim ban). I have been slow to accept our new reality. I tried to be cautiously optimistic the days before his inauguration, then I tried to avoid the news as my greatest fears were being realized, then I was just sad. Now I am really pissed off and ready to work. Trump and his hateful policies must go. So here is what I am doing and I encourage you to do to. And this isn't where I am stopping, if you have any suggestions of other actions we can take please leave them in the comments below so everyone who sees this post can take part too.

Let's be outraged. Let's resist. Let's take our country back.

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Make Your Voice Heard

Call your representatives, write letters, sign petitions, demonstrate in the streets if you have to! Our representatives are supposed to represent us and so it is our responsibility to make our positions known and continuously apply pressure on them. Use Common Cause's representative locator to find out who your reps are. And if you need a little extra help on what to say, check out this article for some tips about how to talk to your representative when you do call.

Organize

When President Obama told us in his farewell speech to organize I had no idea where to start. Luckily I have some incredible friends who did. We have begun by sharing good information and finding ways to do the above (reach out to our representatives). One friend has offered up her apartment on a weekly basis as a hub to create call scripts, make calls, write letters and keep information sharing. There is also an incredible guide and directory of how and where to get involved called the Indivisible Guide. Start with this and you'll be good.

Share Good Information

This requires staying informed and not propagating "alternative facts." Misinformation/fake news is a dangerous thing as we have already seen with this administration. We need to armor ourselves with the truth and be cynical with the media we consume. Also, good information is power. Articles like  what to do if ICE agents come to your door should be widely shared so that everyone has the knowledge they need. 

Donate

A little can go a very long way if we all chip in. I am personally giving to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood and Justice Democrats(at minimum). I will be cutting out my work lunches, extra coffees, and any other frivolous spending to give all that I can. This is an investment in a country I want to live in and society we can be proud of after all!

Stay Positive

If we stop believing in the power of the people and democracy there is not way we can win. So please take care of yourself and those directly in front of you first. Practice self care and go at your own pace. Do what you need to in order to feel like you (and not a hopeless shell of you), feel strong, and remain hopeful. We could be in for the long haul and everyone of us needs to be able to take some time for ourselves.

"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

-desmond tutu

That is all I have, again please add ideas to this list. I want to know what actions you are taking and how you are taking care of yourself. Now is the time more than ever to spread love, count our blessings and support one another to ensure this time does not become our new normal! 

XO

5 Things You Must Do When In Athens

In 2015 my partner and I spent a weekend in Greece to celebrate the union of 2 very lovely people. We arrived in Athens in the wee hours of the morning the day of their wedding and after much celebration late into the night we awoke the next day to take in as much as we could in 24 hours! These are 5 things you absolutely must do when you visit Athens, Greece.

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Eat

Number 1 (and most important), eat! But don't just eat anywhere, avoid the tourist traps and eat where the locals do. One of our lovely Greek friends guided us to an incredible restaurant near our airbnb. The food was so amazing we didn't manage to take a single picture of it all (probably the truest test of an amazing meal these days)! 

Another lovely restaurant near our airbnb
Another lovely restaurant near our airbnb
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Of our many delicious meals our first and most memorable was a spot (I forgot the name of) located at the corner of Kidantidon and Kallisthenous in a neighborhood just west of Filopappos Hill.

where we had our first meal in Athens
where we had our first meal in Athens

Filopappou Hill

Filopappou Hill, also known as Hill of the Muses, is a massive park with beautiful geologic outcroppings, trails for hiking and ancient ruins. A group of us wedding guests, led by our Greek diaspora friend-turned benevolent tour guide, slowly hiked through the park all the way to the Panatheanic Way. 

The tour group, only in Athens could you get a group of New Yorkers to look at a map
The tour group, only in Athens could you get a group of New Yorkers to look at a map
Views on our ascent
Views on our ascent
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We took in the beautiful scenery that gradually built up our excitement until the Acropolis was finally revealed!

Views of the Acropolis from afar
Views of the Acropolis from afar

Acropolis

Of course the Acropolis... no trip to Athens is complete without visiting the this rightfully significant spot. The site is home to many structures including the Parthenon, an architectural masterpiece. It is a symbol of democracy, citizenship, and western civilization as we have come to know it today.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
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The Temple of Athena Nike and our fearless guide
The Temple of Athena Nike and our fearless guide
Erechtheum
Erechtheum

Truly the Acropolis is an incredible sight to be seen and even more stunning than I had ever imagined. And the views of Athens cannot be beat!

The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
My honey on the lookout
My honey on the lookout
The Greek sun, ancient ruins and beautiful friends
The Greek sun, ancient ruins and beautiful friends

Acropolis Museum

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After seeing the incredible ruins of the Acropolis we went to the beautiful Acropolis Museum for a deeper dive into history and afternoon cocktail. Be sure to schedule enough time here because you can honest spend hours here without realizing it!

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Explore Pláka 

And finally Pláka! Pláka is a historic neighborhood in Athens at the easterly base of the Acropolis. You can spend lots of time wandering the maze like streets imaging yourself in ancient times or just shopping around in the many shops that line the footpaths.

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Stay for dinner and you may be lucky like us and find yourself a rooftop table with romantic views of the Acropolis and a pink sunset!

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Although our time in Athens was short, it surely was memorable and I look forward to returning to Greece and seeing much more of it's capital city soon!

 

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Nice: A Photo Story

It may be the cool weather or the fact that I can feel the end of 2016 creeping up on us, but I have been nostalgically sifting through old photos lately. During one of my digital strolls down memory lane I stumbled upon my 2013 visit to the beautiful French beach City of Nice

This sweet French Riviera town was not originally part of my itinerary that year. After visiting friends in London I decided to book and impromptu flight and spend a couple of day on the beach before heading to Italy. While my stay was short it was certainly memorable... maybe 2017 is the year to return..!

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Crash Course: Gaudí's Barcelona

Barcelona is by far the most eclectic city I have ever been to. It is magical city where beach chill meets urban metropolis, Catalan and Spanish culture mingle, and entertainment is abundant day and night. I attribute part of the city's whimsy to Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and his imaginative and almost surreal buildings. There are more than ten organically shaped and mosaic-laden Gaudí creations in the city and these are just beauties five I visited.

Casa Batlló + La Pedrera

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Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (also known as Casa Milà) are located on Passeig de Gràcia and have very distinct facades. Casa Batlló was a 1904 remodel of a private home with skeletal terraces and a dragon-esque rooftop. Shortly after Casa Batlló Gaudí took on his last private commission, La Pedrera. This home was constructed on a large corner lot and its design was based on the idea of an uninterrupted curve inside and out. Gaudí looked closely at nature for inspiration in his design and steered away from lines and angles since he felt they were not often observed in nature. The curvature of many of his buildings is what makes them stand out and surprise you when you encounter them.

Parc Güell

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Parc Güell is situated atop Carmel Hill and was a failed endeavor of entrepreneur Eusebio Güell. Güell envisioned a high-end, gated community inspired by English garden city movement. Gaudí designed the community master plan which included gardens, a covered marketplace and footpaths, and a communal square with outlook point. What was meant to be an exclusive community far away from the industrializing city (in the year 1900) is now a public park open for anyone (who is willing to pay a modest entrance fee) to enjoy. Only two of the intended sixty homes were ever built on the estate (one of which Gaudí lived in until his death) but there are various examples of innovative infrastructure that mimics the nature that surrounds it.

La Sagrada Familia

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Sagrada Família is undoubtedly Gaudí's greatest work. It is an incredibly detailed and massive in size basilica that has been under construction since 1882. 134 years! Inspired after a trip to the vatican bookseller and founder of the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph, Josep Maria Rocabella commissioned the church.Gaudí was not the original intended designer but in a serendipitous series of events took on the design a year into construction. After the original architect, Francisco del Villar dropped the project due to creative disagreements with the client's advising architect Joan Martorell the project was offered to Martorell. Martorell declined the offer but recommended Anotoni Gaudí for the job who accepted in 1883 and completely redesigned what was going to be a gothic style church into his masterpiece. 

When Gaudí died in 1926 the basilica was less that a quarter complete and later experienced further construction delays during the Spanish Civil War. The project was resumed in the 1950s but without many of the original models, which were destroyed and damaged during the war. 

On the grounds is the Sagrada Família Schools, and personally my favorite Gaudí structure. The wavy brick building is simple yet completely unique. And as the most "conventional" of all the Gaudí buildings I saw it was the only one I felt I could full take in, but that may just be due to the smaller scale! I also love this building because it was created for the children of construction workers to study while their fathers worked on the church.

Antoni Gaudí immediately conjures the image of Barcelona, and Barcelona wouldn't be the same without the ornate and quirky works of Gaudí. Every single one of his works are worth a long look to get to know the city that houses them.

A Simple Guide to London

So as I have mentioned before I LOVE London. I was recently asked for a few London recommendations and decided to put together a post about it! Here are some of my favorite activities from my last few visits to this lovely city.

Museums

Museums are some of my favorite sights to see in a new city. Not only are they filled with beautiful and interesting things, they usually are housed in some of the most beautiful architecture.

I think a visit to London would be remiss without a trip to the British Museum and Tate Modern. The British Museum has a permanent collection much like The Met in NYC and stunning classical architecture with surprising modern twists like this beautiful atrium.

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Tate Modern is a retrofitted power station reimagined by renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron. Here exhibits are frequently revolving, each more innovative than the next. And there are several places to take in views of the Thames.

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Outdoors

London has lots of lovely parks, two of the loveliest are Hyde Park and St. James Park. But one of the most surprising places to take in the great outdoors in the middle of the city is Regents Canal. I started at Camden Lock Market with a delicious lunch and walked the Regents Canal towpath.

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Sights

Besides the must see sights (read: Big Ben, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Globe Theatre, Tower of London, etc etc..), I highly recommend seeing The Shard. The Shard is the tallest tower in London designed by famed architect Renzo Piano and houses some of the best views of the city. As I mention in my 2 days in London post, I think skipping the tour and indulging in a meal or drink in one of the restaurants located in the top floors is a great way to take in this magnificent building.

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Food

I think there are two meals that cannot be missed when you visit London: 1. a classic English breakfast and 2. fish and chips (or my fave saveloy and chips if you can find it!) London isn't praised for it's cuisine generally, but these two dishes are something I can't get enough of (not pictured below, the baked beans which are perfect with buttered toast!).

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Markets

Finally, my number one favorite way to spend time in London is exploring it's many markets. Below are just a few I recommend, but no matter where you go in the city I am sure you will find one or two!

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For more ideas on what to do in London, check out my previous post where I outline how I spent 2 days in London!

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