Monday, November 17, 2014

Wood Islands to Point Prim

We started where we'd left off a couple of days before, at Wood Islands.Within a few kilometers of the ferry terminal, there are several pull-offs to undeveloped beaches. I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember which one we visited - Point Stewart, maybe? But it was a beautifully wild beach. I was delighted to discover tiny hermit crabs scurrying along in the shallow water!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cape Bear to Wood Islands

While most of my visit to Prince Edward Island this past summer involved lounging around on beaches, reading, I did manage at least one new drive. At first, the plan was to cover the southeastern coast of the island, from Cape Bear to Point Prim, in a single day. But after a late start, and finding more to see along the way than we'd bargained for, we embraced the slower path and broke the drive into two days instead of one.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons to Take a High School Eurotrip

Alex in Wanderland's recent post about her group tour experience of the Greek islands had me thinking about the group trips I've been on. While church trips and studying abroad qualify as group travel, I've technically only been on one package tour - the summer I graduated from high school, I went on a school trip to Europe. (Thanks, Mom and Dad.) The trip was coordinated by a teacher at my high school and run by EF Tours. We landed in Frankfurt and met up with the rest of our tour group - a dozen kids from another school, plus a smattering of pairs or solo students - and our bilingual guide, Melanie. For the next two and a half weeks, we traveled through Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and England by bus.

People tend to turn this type of tour into a joke. Buses full of young, annoying Americans, descending upon the splendors of Europe and preferring the clubbing and drinking, are a pretty easy target. But honestly, when better to try a tour than when you're in high school? Here are ten reasons I'd encourage any high school student to go on a package trip of Europe (or any foreign country, really) through their school...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Overnight in Saint Andrews by-the-Sea

Saint Andrews by-the-Sea is a cute little town on the coast in New Brunswick. It's known for some of the highest tides in the world, being on the Bay of Fundy, and is a great jumping-off point for visiting the Hopewell Rocks and going whale-watching. We... did neither of those things. My parents and I were in town briefly, having chosen Saint Andrews as a good place to break up our trip to PEI.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Postcards from Polly's Parents: the Middle

New Brunswick

My mom has always been a huge fan of postcards. Her one request on my recent trip to South America was that I send her a few. I don't know if it's the prevalence of e-mail or a lack of touristic infrastructure, but it was difficult to find postcards outside major cities in Brazil and Argentina. I managed to send four, and they all arrived, trickling across the Canadian border between one and two months after my trip was finished.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween in Fort Greene

New York City is known for doing some holidays well (Christmas!) and others not so much. Halloween ranks pretty high on the charts. The fun thing about Halloween in the city is that there are plenty of free events, including one of New York's favorite things - an opportunity to dress up their pets and show them off!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bear-Spotting on Skyline Drive

I've lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for most of my life - over twenty years total. And yet, until this past August (as I was helping my parents pack up to move), I'd never seen a bear in the wild in my home state. Lucky for me, one last trip over to Skyline Drive changed that!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


"None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” 
- Jane Austen, Persuasion.

Dark clouds rolling in from the Atlantic had become an expected sight in my short time in Porto de Galinhas. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, they'd appear on the horizon, steadily growing closer. Tourists lazing about on the sand and vendors hawking piña coladas and sunglasses all kept one eye squinted seaward, calculating just how many minutes of sunshine they could squeeze out before the clouds arrived. As they approached, the beach would quickly empty. Getting caught in the deluge the first afternoon was enough for me - I learned to get to a cafe and wait the weather out there, my hostel just a few steps farther than the time it took from cloud appearance to cloud burst.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Argentina v Brazil

Neighbors and Rivals

What's that you say? Argentina never played Brazil in the 2014 World Cup? Pish. It's all a matter of perspective.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Corcovado, on Brazilian Time

As the cab wove up to a tunnel carved out of a verdant mountain, I struggled to remember how to ask "How long will it take to get there?" in terrible Portuñol. It was already past noon. I had no watch, the clock on the dash gave the wrong time, and I was supposed to be halfway across the city, at Cosme Velho, in time to catch the 12:40 train.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rio's Jardim Botânico

Sometimes even the best laid travel plans go awry. Toward the end of my trip to Brazil, I'll admit that I didn't even have any "best laid plans". When I arrived in Rio, my friend and host Debora seemed to sense this, asked me for a basic outline of what I'd like to do, and took care of the rest. My laziness in planning the end of my trip caught up with me in some ways (for example - tickets for Sugarloaf Mountain were entirely sold out by the time we checked), but in other ways, I really enjoyed letting go and allowing someone else to do all the work for me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Boy From Ipanema

I'd only sacrifice my layout for the man who paid for my graphic design education.

The song 'The Girl From Ipanema' came out in 1964 and was a worldwide hit by 1965. Wanting to capitalize on the pop culture moment, some professors at the University of Virginia decided to pinpoint the location mentioned in the song. They had several theories, but in the end, a student was able to tell them the answer, having lived in the Rio neighborhood. At least, that's how my dad tells the story...  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Walking From Copacabana to Ipanema


What is there to say about Brazil's most famous beaches? It's hard to find words to describe Rio's natural beauty, especially when you're there in person. While I was in Rio, my friend Debora took me on a walk from Leme through Copacabana and all the way down to Ipanema. Here are a few of the pictures we took that day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Escadaria Selarón

You may be familiar with the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón and not even know it. The colorful staircase that he created in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio has gained worldwide fame, having been featured in commercials, music videos, and an episode of The Amazing Race.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Iguazu vs Iguaçu

I first heard of Iguaçu Falls in middle school, when our teacher popped in a video on butterfly migration. As yellow butterflies fluttered through thundering clouds of mist on the tiny screen, going to this place suddenly became something I needed to do. It wasn't until years later that I discovered a member of my family had already been to the falls - I found a black & white postcard my grandfather had sent to my dad and uncle in the late 50s. This only renewed my desire to visit. When it came time to plan my trip to South America for the World Cup, there were two places I absolutely had to go - Rio and Iguaçu Falls.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Feeling at Home in Buenos Aires

I decided to throw Buenos Aires onto my World Cup itinerary for a few reasons. Both proximity and cost factored in - who knows when I'd be this close again? Also, being able to escape World Cup price-gouging for a full week actually helped my budget. (The charges incurred by changing my itinerary from Porto Alegre to Salvador did not, but I digress...)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Caminito versus San Telmo

I was a bit underwhelmed by two of Buenos Aires' famous places, for completely different reasons.

On Sunday morning, I took the 70 bus down to Caminito. I had my trusty map of the city, following our route so I knew when to get off and where to go from there. A few blocks into my walk, I spotted colorful buildings and a tour bus unloading nearby.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Recoleta Picspam

Recoleta Cemetery is one of the best known in South America, if not the world. Aside from being Eva Peron's final resting place, the cemetery is filled with gorgeous Art Nouveau and Art Deco monuments to people both famous, and long forgotten. Some of the crypts have been neglected and fallen into disrepair, while cats silently roam the grounds. While not as large as I'd imagined, it's easy to get lost wandering the various pathways, especially on a lonely, rainy day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Eating My Way Through B.A.

Despite picking up a stomach bug in Salvador, my Buenos Aires itinerary still managed to center around food. Maybe it was the rainy, winter chill that had me craving calories, or maybe being forced to take it easy for a few days gave me time to sit back and indulge. In any case, I savored each meal, coffee, or sweet treat I could get my hands on in B.A. Here are three experiences that stand out...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Evita's Buenos Aires

"What's new, Buenos Aires? I'm new, I wanna say I'm just a little stuck on you. You'll be on me too."

Walking down Avenida 9 de Julio my first morning in Buenos Aires, it was all I could do to keep from bursting out in song.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pure Footballing Magic

Maybe I wouldn't have slept the night before USA v Belgium anyway, horrible hostel guests or not. Even so, I got up in time to have breakfast and laze around for several hours before the game. By now, I had my game face down pat.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Horrible Hostel Guest

Let's pretend I said stuff.

I lucked out so much in regards to my lodging in Brazil - it really paid to be a single female traveling during the World Cup. The vast majority of the time, my "six bed female dorm," ended up only having two bunks, of which 3 to 1 beds were empty. The exception was Salvador.

My hostel in Salvador was much nicer than any of the others. I was paying more, to be sure, but for the level of luxury plus World Cup pricing, it was still pretty reasonable. I could do an entire write up on its adorable themed dorms, sparkling clean bathrooms, helpful desk staff, glam rooftop pool, and sundecks with amazing views.

The only catch? For the first time, in a four-bed dorm, I had three roommates. Two of whom were great! They had the lower bunks. And then there was my neighbor on the other upper bunk...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Igreja da Ordem Terceira da São Francisco

The church of the Third Order of Saint Francis was one of those serendipitous travel discoveries that you just kind of stumble into. I'd been hoping to catch a bit of Netherlands-Mexico at a restaurant, but by the time I got around to looking for a place with a TV, the few that were available were already packed. So instead I wandered around the semi-deserted streets. The elaborate facade of the church caught my eye. Inside the courtyard, a couple of sleepy dogs blinked at me as I walked toward the entry. The doors were open and entry was 5 Reais (about $2.50). So why not?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pelourinho Picspam

Pelourinho is ridiculously picturesque. Its pastel colors and colonial buildings serve as a backdrop for various parties, including the World Cup. However, people in the historical center seemed more preoccupied with preparations for the festival of St. John than the football on tv. While I missed the festivities by a couple of days, I did get to enjoy the decorations! Naturally, in such a gorgeous place, I took loads of pictures. Here's a sampling...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fitas do Bonfim, Acarajé, and Capoeira

Salvador de Bahia is Brazil's third-largest city, is one of the oldest cities in the Americas (it was Brazil's capital in colonial days), and is home to the world's largest carnival. Naturally, it's a place with amazing culture and history, especially in regards to Brazil's African heritage. In the historical center, Pelourinho, the beliefs, food, and music that make this city unique can be found in abundance.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rio Vermelho and Farol da Barra

After rainy Recife, I had expected to have to pull out my coat and travel to the southern city of Porto Alegre. Thanks to the USMNT making it through to the knock-out rounds, I rebooked my flight to follow them to sunny Salvador instead. Despite the extra cost it took to change my plane tickets, I was really excited to be heading to Salvador, a place on Brazil's tourism trail that I'd heard so many good things about. Even before landing, views of dramatic sand dunes and the azure ocean out the plane windows seemed to welcome me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Rain Game

The morning of the USA v Germany match, I laid in bed at the Olinda hostel for a good hour before getting up, hoping the torrential rain outside would stop. (Spoiler alert - it didn't.) Finally I got up, got dressed, and wandered over to breakfast. The dining room was packed, so I headed to the lobby to see if I could find a place to sit. Instead, I found a group of Americans getting ready to brave the elements. I decided to scarf down my pineapple and tag along.

An Olinda Picspam

I have to admit, Olinda isn't anywhere near the top of my list of "Favorite Places in Brazil". I'd made plans to stay in the historic neighborhood the night before USA v Germany, as it was much closer to the stadium than Porto de Galinhas. While this was an excellent decision, given the deluge that flooded roads and prevented people from making it to the game, I had difficulty really getting into the beautiful town.

Porto de Galinhas

When I started searching for lodging in Recife, everything was already booked or out of my price range. I had two options - stay in Olinda, a beautiful and historic neighborhood to the north of the city, or stay about 45 miles south, in the beach town of Porto de Galinhas. I went with Porto de Galinhas and its air conditioned hostel, and am so glad I did. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rumble in the Jungle

This is a story about how I'm psychic. Or more accurately, how soccer often follows the most ridiculous patterns possible, and sometimes, when it involves my team, I can be good at recognizing said patterns.  I mean really - once Germany (the team that cut short our most successful run in recent memory with a handball) and Ghana (our World Cup nemesis) had been selected for Group G, what other group could we possibly end up in?

(Read bottom to top for twitter.)

Into the Amazon

I'd done a lot of research on this very important part of my trip - a tour into the Amazon rainforest. Another blogger's detailed post convinced me to go with Iguana Turismo (as well as their reasonable price). Most Amazon tours have similar activities, so I think what really makes your experience is the quality of the lodge, your guide, and the group you end up with. Iguana does a pretty good job with the first two, and I really lucked out with the third.

Party in Manaus

Stepping through the arrivals gate in Manaus, I immediately got the sense that people were happy to see us. Manaus had been the most heavily criticized host city in the run-up to the World Cup, for its distance from the rest of the host cities, for the hot and humid climate, and for the ridiculousness of building an enormous stadium in a town without a first-division team. Even at the airport, it seemed like Manaus knew it had something to prove to the rest of the world, to show that it deserved to host these games.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

That Time I Was on Ghanaian TV

The morning after I arrived in Natal, I was sitting downstairs, peacefully charging my tablet when the whirlwind touched down. Four or five guys entered the lobby, with noise and serious cameras. Bleary-eyed and jet-lagged, most of us already sitting in the lobby just stared, uncertain of what was going on. The guys introduced themselves as a TV crew from Ghana, there to cover the game. Before we really knew what was happening, they rounded up the Americans and interviewed each of us regarding USA's chances in the game the following day. They got three of us to sit on the couch and chant 'I Believe That We Will Win' while holding my USA scarf.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



Of all the place I visited on my month-long World Cup tour de futebol, I feel Natal got short shrift. Most of that wasn't the city's fault. Okay - a bit of it was. When I landed, it was raining. Like, the mayor declared a state-of-emergency raining. Landslides and flooded-taxi raining. I always start out trips to new places with a bit of trepidation, and the mix of a late landing, the weather, and a brand new country where I did not speak the language colluded, and ended with me paying US $50 for a taxi. The only other place I've ever paid so much was in L.A., under similar circumstances.


It's always fun when there's a feature on the plane you're flying on in the in-flight magazine!

My time in Brazil was opened and closed quite nicely by an airplane - a very specific one. Before the tournament, I'd read that famous twin graffiti artists Os Gêmeos had been commissioned to paint the plane on which Brazil's national team would travel. Even so, it came as a total surprise when, boarding my first domestic flight (São Paulo to Natal), that exact plane was sitting at the gate! A lot of passengers were snapping pictures and commenting on the fact that we'd be flying the national team's plane - I was worried that GOL was going to weigh and gate-check my luggage, and hurried on. I figured I'd snap a picture when we arrived in Natal.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Times Square USMNT Fan Fest

The closest I'll ever get.

One of the nicest things about living in New York City is that things happen here, and it generally only takes a short subway ride to get to said happenings. For example, I checked twitter as I was getting ready to go shopping on Friday and discovered that Marriott was holding a send-off for the USMNT* in Times Square, one of my least favorite places on earth.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Top Ten at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I love the Met. Having grown up visiting the excellent National Gallery in DC, it pains me to say this, but the Met is the best art museum in the country. While it may not be free like the National Gallery, don't let the signs fool you - entry to the Met is "pay what you wish". While at art school, I went often enough to justify only paying a dollar or two each time, knowing they'd get the full admission fee from me before the year was through. These days, I visit about three to four times a year, including leading one of my art classes on a field trip each spring. My back-to-back visits on Sunday and Monday brought some changes - the iconic metal buttons have been replaced by stickers :( and the Costume Institute has reopened :) - but also reminded me of a few of the reasons I love this place so much. Please pardon me while I dust off my art history minor to bring you a list of my top ten things to see at the Met.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Gift of Travel

Even though it's Mother's Day, this post is dedicated to both of my parents.

For Mom and Dad, travel has always been a priority. My parents instilled its value in me and my brother, by taking us places when we were young and by continuing to support our journeys now that we're grown.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


The overalls make another appearance.

After the chic beauty of Cape Town and the natural splendor of the rest of the country, Johannesburg was harder to get into. It's very much a city city.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Kruger Park and Blyde River Canyon

Heading away from the coast toward the northeast corner of South Africa, we started on our two longest travel days of the trip.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cape Town

Okay, so it's not a #throwbackthursday, but over spring break I managed to convert some photos of old trips the easiest way possible - by taking pictures of the prints with a digital camera. Apologies for the quality and let's start in 1998, when I went to South Africa with my church youth group.

Friday, April 25, 2014

National Park Week

In honor of National Park Week (Apr. 19-27), here's my Parks Passport.

I picked it up the summer after I visited the Grand Canyon and Zion (of course). While it's fun to stamp my passport at each new park I visit, it's also frustrating, as I inevitably forget to bring it along about half the time! It is a great reminder of exactly when you visited each park, as the cancellation stamps have dates on them and are color-coded by region.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My World Cup Journey

This afternoon, I booked the final flight and accommodations for my upcoming trip to Brazil and Argentina. I've been saving and planning for this trip since the last World Cup ended, in July of 2010. It's hard to believe it's only months away. I've also submitted a guest post on packing for the World Cup over at Her Packing List - watch for it! Writing my bio for the piece had me reminiscing about the journey it's taken to get here, a journey that's (not to sound dramatic, but...) lasted literally half my life.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Nordic Top Ten Wishlist

Majestic Norway 

As a traveler, the Nordic region has never really been a place that calls to me. My brother visited Finland and Sweden on a "sports ambassador" trip the summer before he entered high school, and brought me back a pretty awesome hat, but I never felt a "pining for the fjords" myself.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Three Items to Change Your Look

There's really no right way to pack. But there's certainly a right way to pack for you. I learned pretty quickly that I like to pack relatively light - mainly because it's a pain to have to check bags and then wonder if they'll arrive the same day you do. At the same time, I'll read packing lists that include 4 shirts for a month long trip and say to myself, "Nope."

Here's one idea that I've been playing with. It would work best for a week-long trip - I'm not a fan of doing laundry when I'm on vacation - but could be stretched longer if needed. You start with the basics...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stranded, in a Mustang, in a Blizzard

Leaving Forks, I headed south along Route 101 toward the Hoh Rainforest. The turn-off to the visitor's center led me up 15 miles of winding road. It would have been slow-going in good conditions. With snow still piled up on either side of the road, it was a 40 minute crawl. The trees, usually emerald with moss, were iced with a thick layer of white.

Friday, January 3, 2014

How to Invoke a Sparkly Vampire Curse


I do fandom hardcore. From 2000 to 2007, I spent several hours daily reading, writing, and drawing things related to Harry Potter.  As sad as it may sound, it was a really amazing time in my life. I made so many great friends, friendships that have lasted beyond the end of the series. And to make it even better, the books generally went the way my friends and I had hoped.