Friday Five: Travel Link Roundups

Interesting stories from around the world (wide web).

Are you ready for the Underwoods? Roadtrippers has put together a guide to the House of Cards filming locations.

In or around London? I charge you with checking out the new pop-up owl bar…guaranteed to make your office happy hour a hoot. (SORRY, it was too easy) via PSFK

Speaking of the Brits, NPR had a fascinating article about the science behind Britain’s tea-drinking culture.

Planning a jaunt to Europe this summer? Sidestep the crowds with some of these lesser-known hotspots. via Travel and Leisure

And finally, treat yourself to a moment of zen with these crazy-cool-creepy cinemegraphs, as seen on The Bold Italic.


How Studying or Working Abroad Makes You Smarter


Makes sense to me!

Originally posted on TIME:

How does studying or working abroad change you? You return with a photo album full of memories and a suitcase full of souvenirs, sure. But you may also come back from your time in another country with an ability to think more complexly and creatively—and you may be professionally more successful as a result.

These are the conclusions of a growing body of research on the effects of study- and work-abroad experiences. For example: A study led by William Maddux, an associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, found that among students enrolled in an international MBA program, their “multicultural engagement”—the extent to which they adapted to and learned about new cultures—predicted how “integratively complex” their thinking became.

That is, students who adopted an open and adaptive attitude toward foreign cultures became more able to make connections among disparate ideas. The students’ multicultural engagement also predicted the number of job…

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Happy Bellies: A Weekend in Portland (Pt II.)

I already covered a bit of the Portland beer scene (check it out here), so this post is about the second thing making our bellies happy—food!

In terms of food—well, to be frank, we love eating, but we’re not necessarily true foodies. We don’t go out of our way to nosh on the latest trends (case in point—committing the cardinal sin of not ordering a cronut while living in NYC when they first came on the scene). But Portland’s was a rare case where everything that was put in front of me tasted five times better than I expected! Here’s the rundown.


Food Pods/Food carts

I wasn’t initially sure why PDX didn’t call them “food trucks” like the rest of the country…until I realized that they really don’t move. In fact, at a few of the pods (the collective noun for a gathering of food carts—which, really, could be more imaginative. What about a plate of food carts? Or a swallow? I digress) had several abandoned carts that were open for rent. Like food trucks, don’t mistake these for the classic “roach coach”—the meals were well priced, cooked to order, and wholly delicious. We went the adventurous route and picked a pod without knowing the carts inside, lucking out with some savory carnitas tortas from Guero Tacos and Tortas, but hardcore foodies who want the lay of the land before making their choice can download the Cart Compass app.

Blue Star Donuts

Speaking of not going out of our way…though everyone hyped up Voodoo Doughnuts to the Nth degree, waiting in that line just did not seem appetizing. We hopped instead to a lesser-known but out-of-this-world-GOOD Blue Star Donuts. With their Instagram-ready glazes and sweet and savory (blueberry basil!) flavor combos, these already exceeded our breakfast expections—but the fried chicken donut was really icing on the cake (so to speak). Imagine a plain glazed donut topped with what had to be two fried chicken breasts and a smattering of Frank’s Red Hot. Sweet and spicy perfection.


Grain and Gristle

Though a bit apprehensive about a restaurant with the word “gristle” in its name, Grain and Gristle was nothing to shy from. Hip but local, this place had a great selection of beers (many from breweries we’d hit during Zwickelmania) and amazing food. We snacked on the porky croquettes and homemade Slim Jims, then went all-in on the house burger and accompanying onion rings—the perfect ending to a day full of beer.

Loretta Jean’s

Why aren’t pie shops still a thing? One bite of Loretta Jean’s streusel-topped blackberry-raspberry slice and you’ll be wondering the same. Though the shop’s wares might throw you back to the 60’s, the sleek space and hip décor reminds you that yes, this exists in 2015.

Screen Door

We were warned that good Portland brunch spots = a good wait. So it seemed an auspicious sign (er, sorta) when we arrived at Screen Door to find a line that stretched the block. Two crossword puzzles later, the reason for the line revealed itself in the form of biscuits and gravy as “big as a cat’s head”, a tower of fried chicken and waffles, and pecan-crusted bacon. Need I say more?

Happy Bellies: A Weekend in Portland (Pt I.)

It was hard to say what we more excited for as we belted ourselves into our flight to Portland. Was it beer? Was it food? Was it getting out of town for the weekend—being on another flight? Whatever it was, it brought a flush to our cheeks and hammer to our hearts…or maybe it was the fact that we’d nearly missed our flight and had to run all the way from security. Now the hype has cooled and I can look back on the weekend with the sepia tones of sweet nostalgia, identifying just what, exactly, made our PDX weekend so remarkable. Part one? The BEER.

In all honesty, of the three things listed above, beer was the frontrunner in terms of excitability. We’d heard tell of Portland’s legendary beer scene for years, and couldn’t wait to cheers a pint. Lucky for us, Zwickelmania was that weekend!

What is Zwickelmania? Their website describes them thusly: “The annual one-day event in Oregon when breweries open their doors to the casual and hardcore beer fans, lands on Feb. 14 this year — Valentine’s Day — from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 110 breweries, both big and small, are participating with meet-the-brewer events and beer samples.”

Toss me a life-jacket, because I am ON BOARD. The Zwickelmania map listed a total of 44 breweries to check out. It was completely insane to attempt to see all of them between 11 and 4, so we did a little strategy and came up with four that sounded good: Base Camp, Coalition, The Mash Tun, and Stormbreaker. (An added bonus was hitting up Breakside Brewing the night before on our way home from the airport.)

Base Camp Brewing Co.

Base Camp had a really imaginative set-up for their event: instead of your standard tour of the brewery and tasting separate at the bar, they set up a faux-trail through their brewing tanks. On different points along the way, we steadfast hikers were rewarded with a beer to taste and an explanation of the sights to be found from our particular “vista.” From a branding standpoint, it was really well-executed. From a drinking standpoint, their Saison was killer.

Coalition Brewing Co.

The Coalition Zwickelmania setup was basically a big backyard party—complete with a fence of kegs. There was cornhole, picnic tables, stereo music and an outdoor bar. We couldn’t be sure if it was the unseasonal sunshine or the citrusy wheat beer, but it certainly felt like summer.

The Mash Tun Brewpub

The Mash Tun was incredibly laid back. Posters inside advertised a Wednesday Cribbage night and bar trivia, and their daily happy hour was a $3.50 pint of any of their incredible beers. Try the tater tots. And the fried zuccini. Ok, try everything (especially their Kitchen Sink!)

StormBreaker Brewing

StormBreaker Brewing was the most epic in name (an old Native American nickname for Mount Hood can apparently be translated into Storm Breaker) and Zwickelmania special—patrons at the bar could get a 20 oz pour for a measly $4. An outdoor tent and fire pit kept everyone warm, but the piece de resistance were the hop-shaped lights hanging over the main bar.

Breakside Brewery

Breakside was our first stop on Portland’s beer trail—we hit it up a mere 20 minutes after landing from San Francisco. As such, it wasn’t an official Zwickelmania stop, but it did provide an excellent first glimpse into the unique specialties of the PDX Beer Scene. Case in point—the salted caramel stout that was as filling as dinner and as sweet as dessert.

But beer wasn’t the only thing filling our bellies—check back for Part II (FOOD) later this week!

Lighter Than Air: Balloon Adventures

So this is a post that’s been lingering in the drafts folder for a few weeks now—life catches up with you sometimes and you wind up much busier than anticipated. (I think you’ll see why when we get to the bottom ;) )
It’s a bitterly cold December morning in Napa, California. The sky is still dark as we check out of our hotel, then haul ourselves into a waiting van, stopping twice to pick up others from their hotels. I close my eyes—I think for a second—but when I wake orange smears the far horizon and the world seems a little lighter. And then I see that we’ve stopped, and I see why.

Just above the neighboring vines, a colored dome rears up, looming in the pale sky like a colorful sun. Then another, then another, then another…

Ballooning is a surreal experience. You feel so light and dreamy. We asked our pilot what kind of license you needed to fly a balloon and he replied, “It’s called a lighter-than-air license.” While other balloons soared up and up, we moved forward at the same height, as though we were on some invisible track. The landscape unfolded beneath like a child laying out toys—tiny cars placed with care on tiny silver roads, neat squares of bright pools, the sloping roofs of houses and barns nestled in between rows of plantings.

It was incredibly quiet, just the sound of the creaking basket and the occasional bright whoosh of the blast valve.  Time was lazy, the hour ride seemed to last the whole morning. At one point, I heard my boyfriend ask the pilot how much time we had left in the ride. And then, in my most surreal moment of all, I saw him turn, and drop to one knee.

And OF COURSE, I said yes!!
David booked our unforgettable ride was through Napa Valley Balloons, which offers both private and group balloon outings. Rides are followed up with a delicious champagne brunch at Domaine Chandon.

Urban Hikes: San Francisco’s Top Date Hikes

IMG_0345David and I have been living in the city for almost five months now, and after five straight days of the hustle-and-bustle daily grind, we start to crave a break from the concrete jungle and (plethora) of city smells. While San Francisco is famous for it’s hilly sidewalk, it’s also got ample green spaces to set your feet down on some real dirt. We’ll start with a list we found of SF’s best hiking spots (for dates), and as we set forth to trek them all, I’ll recount our adventures and share some photos! Stay tuned!

  • Mount Davidson, Sherwood Forest
  • Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks
  • Philosopher’s Way in McLaren Park, Visitacion Valley
  • Presidio Promenade, The Presidio
  • Lands End, Lands End
  • Fort Funston, Lakeshore
  • Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill, Golden Gate Park
  • Batteries to Bluffs, The Presidio
  • Bernal Hill, Bernal Heights
  • Golden Gate Heights Park, Inner Sunset