Volunteering in Oaxaca for Fundacion En Via

I had the great fortune to volunteer as a photographer for Fundación En Vía while I was in Oaxaca. En Vía provides interest-free microloans to women entrepreneurs in the villages surrounding Oaxaca. It’s extremely important that these loans are interest-free since the going interest rate for a microloan in Mexico is 50-200% (I know, ridiculous!). In addition to the loans, En Vía sponsors business classes as well as English classes in the villages so that eventually the women in the villages can become independent. My job there was to photograph the purchases made by each woman with their new loans. It was a really amazing opportunity to visit the villages surrounding Oaxaca as well as see the many different business that these women started. Every woman was amazingly welcoming and I basically was given delicious snacks every day I was photographing. Below are some of my favorite photos from my time there. If you have some time to spare, I recommend volunteering with En Via. By doing so, you meet the wonderful people who work at En Via as well as get the chance to explore the surrounding villages. If you only have a short time in Oaxaca thought, definitely take one of En Vía’s tours if you’re interested in learning more/supporting their work or to get off the beaten track in Oaxaca.

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Do-It-Yourself Excursions in Oaxaca

I didn’t have a lot of time to visit tourist attractions in Oaxaca so I didn’t want to waste the time on tours going to things I didn’t want to see. I found it to be super simple to get to Hierve El Agua and to Monte Alban so if you’re interested in going to those places without a tour, I’ve written this post for you.

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Two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico: What I Ate

Mostly tacos. I had the good fortune to volunteer as a short-term photographer for Fundacion En Via (more about this later) this fall, which meant two weeks in the town of Oaxaca. Oaxaca is well-known for its food and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Here were my favorite places to go during those two weeks. Note that for every restaurant on here (with the exception of Casa Oaxaca), you can get a full meal for less than $5. Map of listed restaurants at the bottom of the post. Continue reading “Two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico: What I Ate”

Rotterdam Here I Come!

I’ll be living abroad for the first time ever and so will be changing the focus of this blog a bit. I’m currently finding it difficult to find blogs about food and yoga and general life in Rotterdam (probably because I can’t yet speak Dutch) so I decided to write my own. If you know of any good Rotterdam blogs, please let me know! In the meantime, I will be jotting down my thoughts and finds (food-related and otherwise) as I discover Rotterdam. I’ll, of course, still continue documenting the good things I find on my trips abroad.

Climbing Rest Days in Red Rocks

When I go on climbing trips, I want to climb all day every day but it’s important to rest as well. Luckily, during our recent trip to Red Rocks, we found a few non-Strip things (recognize the value of it but it’s just not my scene) to fill our rest days:

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Let’s Explore NY: Eating my way through Flushing

I love the food of my people and there is no better place to get it than in Flushing, NY. Here’s a run-down of my favorite places in Flushing to get my eats on (spoiler alert, there are a lot of carbs involved). Also, you probably want to do this with a few people so you can share the food. Also, I’m pretty sure only Kung Fu has a website so you can’t really plan your meal. Be adventurous! I promise it will pay off.

  1. Kung Fu Xiao-long Bao – thin bao skin, tasty soup, and perfectly flavored meat all add up to make the perfect xiaolong bao. Their other dishes are pretty good too; I personally like the beef in scallion pancake and the turnip puffs.
  2. Yeh’s Bakery – this place has been in existence for decades. They churn out delicious sponge cakes, moon cakes, and butter cookies. If it’s your birthday, I recommend getting one of their whipped cream pies.
  3. Tianjin Dumpling House – this little stand is located inside the Golden Shopping Mall. Pick your own dumpling flavors or get pre-stuffed ones from the wall. I love the pork with chives or lamb with green squash (aka zucchini). Whatever you do, don’t forget the sauce.
  4. Express Tea Cafe – walk like 10 feet from Tianjin to get to Express Tea Cafe where they sell bubble tea but really excel at making jian bings, which are like chinese savory crepes. Get the classic, which comes with wonton crisps, lettuce, and sauce. Sounds basic but the combination is delicious.
  5. Xi’an Famous Foods – you could go to the stand in Golden but there is a far nicer outpost about a block down Main Street toward the library. Something with noodles and lamb is always the right choice here.
  6. New Flushing Bakery – get the Portuguese egg tarts. They are amazing; crispy crust and creamy custard. The regular egg tarts are also pretty good if they run out of Portuguese ones.
  7. New Mei Hwa – they specialize in meat over rice. This is a typical Taiwanese lunch. I always get the pork chop over rice, which comes with a pork chop and rice (obvs) as well as some type of green vegetable (it changes) and pickled greens (so good!). You can splurge and get the Taiwanese Railroad Bento, which for a $7.50 gets you some Taiwanese sausage and an egg.
  8. Li’s Lanzhou Hand-Stretched Noodles – beef noodle soup is king here. The broth is rich and the noodles are perfectly chewy. Also, it’s $6.50.
  9. Imperial Palace – go here if you want a traditional sit down dinner amongst many Chinese families. Peking pork chop and crab over sticky rice are my go-tos.

Featured Image by Chun Yip So

Let’s Explore NY: A day in Beacon

Take the Metro-North to Beacon and find yourself in hipster paradise. But really, hipsters are pretty good at stuff so don’t let that put you off. (Metro North has a getaway package that includes admission to Dia:Beacon, find it here)

I imagine you didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn so by the time you get to Beacon, it will probably be time for lunch. Get lunch at Harry’s Hot Sandwiches. The sandwiches here are so good. SO GOOD. The pulled pork and the Cubano are my faves.

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24 Hours in Santa Barbara

I was hanging out in UCSB for a bit and had a day to spend in Santa Barbara. The city is developing super quickly and offers quite a few things beyond its beautiful beaches. Here’s a rundown of my day there.

Breakfast at Handlebar Coffee: I don’t drink coffee but I do love a good croissant. The almond croissant here is flaky and delicious. (Also, my friends tell me that the coffee here is the best in Santa Barbara).

Morning Yoga at Power of Your Om: this cute studio is right on State St. They have classes throughout the day for all levels. The teachers are great; be prepared to sweat.
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The Dingle Peninsula in Summer

The Dingle peninsula was one of my favorite places during our trip to Ireland. There is wonderful music and great food and also SURFING. Click through for my favorite experiences on the Dingle peninsula.

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My top tips for getting to Skellig Michael

So you want to get to Skellig Michael do you? You’ve chosen a difficult path but here are some tips to helping you get there.

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Ireland’s National Parks in pictures

We went on a whirlwind road trip around Ireland and I’ll detail some of the cool stuff we found along the way. This post, however, is dedicated to Ireland’s national park system. Every park had extremely well maintained trails going through beautiful landscapes. Here’s a tour through the ones we visited (mostly in pictures):

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24 Hours in NOLA (again!)

So I had to go back to NOLA again but we only had 24 hours this time. Here’s what you should do there if you only have 1 day to play.

Get lunch at Turkey and the Wolf. The food here is so awesome and creative. The space is strange and fun too. You can get a rubber bouncy ball for a quarter. Their lamb neck roti sandwich with yogurt and dill is the perfect combination of flavors. The deep fried chicken pot pie was also extremely delicious; the crust was extra crispy. Finish off the meal with one of their ice creams (I’m partial to the vanilla with key lime pie crunchies.) Beware that the ice cream is ginormous.

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A whirlwind trip to Tikal

We had one goal in coming to Tikal: see some coatis. I know. It’s weird. I guess we were interested in the ruins as well. You can go here or here or here to find useful information on Tikal. I just have these 3 useful tips to add for visiting Tikal.

      • Get your transportation from Fernando Rodas. He is amazingly friendly and can tell you lots about the history of the region and has very reasonable rates.
      • Get to the park by 6am. There will be very few people and it will not yet be unbearably hot. This is best done by staying in one of the lodges in the vicinity of the ruins. We liked Tikal Inn for the pool that you can lounge in during the extremely hot and humid late morning/early afternoon hours. If you are on a budget, there are also campgrounds near the park. You will need a flashlight to enter the park at this hour. Most of the time it is misty in Tikal so rushing to get to Temple 4 with all of the other tour groups will get you a view of fog rather than sunrise. Save it for a bit later and instead go to one of the side temples and have it all to yourself (might I suggest Temple 6 to see monkeys in the morning).
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This is what Tikal looks like with only 1 person
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chilling by the pool at Tikal Inn
    • Bring a raincoat. It rains all of the time. Tikal is in the rainforest. You should probably also wear mosquito repellent.

Also, you will see coatis. Many of them!

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coatis everywhere!

Relaxing at Lake Atitlan

After our 3 day trek, we decided to relax at Lake Atitlan for a few days. Best choice ever! The lake is beautiful and calming and there are lots of little villages to visit if you get tired of just lazing about. Here’s some of things that we loved at the lake:

We loved staying at Casa del Mundo. It’s set into the mountain near the town of Jaibalito and is extremely peaceful. There are kayaks to rent (go in the morning, the wind on the lake is no joke) and terraces with places to jump into the lake and swim. The food is also delicious; it’s just generally a lovely place to sit and read and relax. Continue reading “Relaxing at Lake Atitlan”

Quetzaltrekkers: Xela to Atitlan

Quetzaltrekkers is a fantastic organization and this was an amazing trek. The guides are all volunteers and they donate all of their proceeds to a local school. They were also super friendly; they arranged our transportation from Guatemala and also accommodated us when our shuttle was late to the pre-trip meeting. Everything (camping gear, food, housing) is included in the trek price of 750 quetzales. Over the 3 days we ate delicious food, saw beautiful landscapes, and met many wonderful people. Also, there’s a sauna and smoothies and some of the best trail mix ever! If you have time and are reasonably fit, do not hesitate. Just go! Words can’t demonstrate how beautiful everything on the hike was so I’ll try to do it with pictures.

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first views of the countryside after the slightly strenuous first portion of the hike

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24 hours in Antigua

After our strenuous hike, we basically wanted to do nothing so we spent the day leisurely wandering around Antigua. Here’s our itinerary for a chill day in Antigua.

First stop: Coffee! We walked to Fernando’s Kaffee where I got an iced tea and my boyfriend got what he later determined to be the best coffee in Guatemala. They have a peaceful courtyard to sip your brew and also lots of cool things for sale. I bought a coin purse made from an old truck tire that cost about $5.

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Hiking up Acatenango Volcano in photos

Antigua is a great base for exploring volcanoes and ruins. We went for a overnight hike with Ox Expeditions up Acatenango (with an optional extension to Fuego) and it was an amazing experience. While it’s not cheap ($89/person including lunch, dinner, and breakfast and camping gear), I felt taken care of and the porters and guides were really friendly. Note that the hike is strenuous and you may get altitude sickness so it’s important to go with a knowledgeable guide.  Continue reading “Hiking up Acatenango Volcano in photos”

A food-filled weekend in New Orleans

We flew into New Orleans with basically the goal of consuming our weight in food over the weekend. Here’s a rundown of all the food we ate during our time there (with some excursions to break up the gluttony).

1. Killer Po’ Boys – I got a glazed pork belly po boy and my friend got a seared gulf shrimp po boy. We both agreed that hers was the better one of the two. My pork belly was a bit dry but the bread was good so not a bad start to our food adventure. They also had this rad California reaper raspberry jelly that was great on toast.

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pork belly po’boy at Killer Po’Boys

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Found: a Caribbean island in Rhode Island

It was 100,000 degrees this weekend (okay, three zeros need to be removed) so we decided to try and cool off by heading to the beach. I like to live the fantasy that I’m on a deserted island so we searched for the emptiest beach I could find near us and it turned out to be Mansion Beach on Block Island. So armed a picnic lunch that could feed about 10 people (even though it was just the two of us), we set off on our great adventure to this little island. A photo tour of our day after the jump!

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Let’s Explore NY: Theater for a New Audience

Let’s catch some awesome theater at the off-off-Broadway Theater for a New Audience and eat some tasty Mediterranean at Miriam. You can take pretty much any train here (literally, the 2,3,4,5,N,Q,R,B,D,G, and LIRR all stop nearby).

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Lunching in Palm Desert

While being young and wild and free in the California desert, we stumbled upon 3 very tasty lunches. Be sure to stop by these places, next time you’re out spa-ing or hiking or Coachella-ing.

1. Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe. This place has  amazing brunch. They are famous for their short ribs eggs benedict; the meat is soft and the muffin is buttery. Their blackberry french toast is also pretty great; it’s filled with vanilla custard and comes with lots of fresh blackberries.

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Short Rib Eggs Benedict at Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe

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Eating my way through the OC

I was again left to my own devices for most of the OC but this time I had a car. Though I did try to go for a walk and again people looked at me like I was insane. Anyway, the OC actually has some really tasty food. Read on to find out what I found to eat in 24 hours in the OC.

The breakfast of champions can be had at Sidecar Doughnuts. Seriously the donuts here are really awesome. I couldn’t pick just one to eat so I got four (huckleberry, meyer lemon, almond crunch, and cinnamon). Lest you think I’m a total glutton; I only ate a quarter of each and saved the rest for my hard at work friends.

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Doughnuts and Tea from Sidecar

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Walking(!) around LA

I got into LAX at 10am and was left to my own devices while my friends were at work. I decided to go to Downtown LA in the hopes that it was somewhat walkable. It was very walkable and I got to see a lot of cool stuff and ate some really delicious food while I was there.

To get from LAX to downtown, there’s a superconvenient flyaway bus that costs $9 and drops off at Union Station; it stops at every terminal so just look for the bus sign when walking out. I was headed to the OC on Amtrak later in the evening so I conveniently left my luggage at the Amtrak luggage check for $4 per piece. It’s for ticketed passagers only but you can buy a ticket for $8 so it’s still a pretty good deal if you decide not to use the ticket.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting into the Reading Rooms at the Library of Congress

The guides at the Library of Congress don’t advertise this but it’s quite easy to get access to the cool books and walk around (quietly!) in the main reading room.

Step 1: Be really into books.

Step 2: Fill out this pre-registration form. You can fill this out up to 2 weeks before you go. If you’re already in the Library of Congress don’t worry, you can fill this form out when you get your library card.

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A walking tour of the smaller museums in DC

When I was a kid, we went on multiple field trips to learn about our nation’s capital. We visited the Capitol, the Smithsonian, the White House, and all of the presidential memorials. I remember being so tired out at the end of the day, I immediately plopped into bed. On this trip, I was determined to wander around some smaller places and try to find some quiet amidst the National Mall madness.

First Stop: Library of Congress I love libraries so this was a must-see for me. The Great Hall in the Jefferson Building has beautiful and intricate carvings. Note that the silver metal in the Hall is actually aluminum since aluminum was more precious than gold when it was built. If you stay tuned for a later post, I’ll teach you how to get into the various reading rooms…

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The entrance of the Library of Congress Jefferson Building

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