Yalikavak, I love you.

I spent two months in Turkey last summer. I might have more to say about it later, but I just want to share some pictures I took of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: Bodrum (Yalikavak), Turkey.

It is all white-washed houses, bright pink and purple begonvil flowers growing. The Aegean Sea contrasts against the rocky terrain surrounding it. It feels small. It feels unreal. Here’s my proof that it is.

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Red Eye to Istanbul

I flew into Istanbul on a Sunday morning. The flight was nice in the way that I find all red-eyes nice. The opposite is also true.

I couldn’t see the ground below from my window seat, only wing. I watched the peach-colored horizon, a yellow haze above and purple below, deepen to a rosy glow in a matter of minutes. I love red-eyes for this. I love chasing the sunset across the sky. Not letting it happen to me–fall on me in Eastern Standard Time. I find some kind of liberation in it, though I recognize its futility.

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When everything was black outside of my window, I ate the surprisingly good in-flight meal and  chased an ambien with a mini-bottle of dry white Turkish wine. Sleep eventually came (after a very uneasy trip to the water closet) but only in fractured bits. I am not a great sleeper in general which makes me exceptionally bad at sleeping upright in an airplane seat. Hence, my red eye ambivalence.

After however long, four hours maybe, the woman next to me tapped me awake. I immediately wished she hadn’t, but accepted the meal being handed to me from the flight attendant. I picked at the tray of fruit, cheeses, eggs, and vegetables and drank a cup of tea that warmed me up to the idea of being awake.

I opened my window blind to the same view of sky and wing, only now it was bright and blue and there were clouds below us in the distance. I put on a favorite album of mine, In the Aeroplane over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, because I was in airplane, and we probably weren’t over the sea anymore, but we had been, so it felt appropriate. It’s an album that always feels good, and it felt exceptionally good then. I looked out the small, dirt-speckled window at the sky unfolding. There was about an hour before we touched down in Istanbul.

I remember the excitement–feeling refreshed in the way that red-eyes always make me feel refreshed, even despite the lack of rest. At this point, I have two months ahead of me in an unfamiliar, foreign, fascinating place. I thought about this without trepidation. I thought about how it felt right to be on this plane, right to be going, and about how long it’s been since I felt thatin the right place. It feels strange in the best way. The words, “how strange it is to be anything at all” flowed through my headphones and into my ears. Indeed. How strange. And how lucky.

Breaking for Spring

Here in South Carolina, it’s officially feeling like spring. There’s the sheer yellow pollen coating everything, little bumblebees buzzing around, and the air is warm–most days. That’s the definition of spring in my state. The thing about South Carolina springs, though, is that they are mind-warpingly fleeting. It will go from balmy and warm to sticky-hot in just a couple weeks. You have to break for Spring, because believe me, it goes by fast.

Over my spring break, I mostly hung out with my best friend, Jessica, in my hometown. And this is the best thing. But probably not the most interesting.

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Parking garage views in Asheville, NC

Asheville, North Carolina, is a little hippie haven up in the Blue Ridge, and I took my first trip there over break. It’s a NC version of Portland and it is absolutely lovely. My dad and I took the 2 hour drive from Charlotte on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.

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The first thing we did after parking in a garage was walk to a little park in the center of downtown and find a cafe to eat lunch. We decided on Isa’s Bistro, a beautifully decorated, slightly up-scale restaurant. We started off with a gorgeous charcuterie and cheese plate, which included a selection of artisinal meats and cheese, cranberry mustarda, and local honey. Cheese will forever have my heart, but I had a pretty serious affair with the local honey. So. good. 10/10 would recommend.

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Isa’s Bistro
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Cheese plate aka my personal heaven

For my entree, I had an herb roasted chicken chopped cobb salad. It had crispy shallots, egg, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, and buttermilk dressing. My dad had some kind of burger that was a special that day. It tasted nothing like a burger, which was weird. In a  delicious way. Both of us left very full and very satisfied with Isa’s Bistro.

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My entree
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My father refusing to let me take a good picture before digging into his entree

We spent the rest of the afternoon just wandering through the streets of Asheville. We went to Grove Arcade, which is just as interesting as it is pretty inside. We went to a couple antique shops and a bookstore/champagne bar there.

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Grove Arcade

After seeing a few of the sights (Basilica of St. Lawrence and Urban Dharma Buddhist temple were my favorites) we headed back to the car and called it a day (after stopping by a local record store to pick up my favorite band’s new album, Strangers To Ourselves by Modest Mouse–it’s amazing but I digress).

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Basilica of Saint Lawrence

After the Asheville trip I spent most of my break enjoying the company of my dog (and the rest of my family too, of course) and pretending that I had no responsibilities. So nice. But no trip home is complete without spending some time in the heart of the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Saturday before I left to return to school, Jessica and I spent the day shopping for clothes and records and hanging out in the district North Davidson, better known as NoDa. NoDa is (arguably) the coolest place in Charlotte; it’s lined with eccentric boutiques, restaurants and bars, tattoo shops, and art galleries. It’s visually vibrant–they’re big on the street art there–but it also feels vibrant. There’s a really cool energy there, and on this warm, beautiful day you could especially feel it. Jessica and I stopped in at Cabo Fish Taco for lunch and it was both of our first time there. The atmosphere is really cool and the food was nothing short of amazing. They start you off with a ridiculously fresh tomato and corn salsa, and Jessica and I both had the blackened mahi mahi tacos with baja rice. There’s only a few of these restaurants around, so if you find yourself anywhere near one, do yourself a favor and stop in.

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Photo of blackened mahi mahi fish tacos courtesy of Jessica

So that pretty much sums up my spring break. It ended, but luckily the lovely weather is sticking around for a bit longer.

I’d love to hear what y’all are doing to celebrate the season. If you’re anywhere near me, I’m sure it will involve lots of Zyrtec. Happy spring!

Uptown in the Queen City

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From South Tryon green space

I’ve lived in a Charlotte suburb since I was four years old. Despite this, I didn’t really get to know the city until I was much older. Sometimes being so close to a place causes it to lose its novelty, even when there’s still so much you’ve yet to experience there. However, I’ve found plenty of things to love about Charlotte recently. In this post, I want to focus on my favorite street located right in the heart of Uptown: South Tryon.  Whether you’re rediscovering the city you’ve written off or exploring it for the first time, you’ll want to check out this street.

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Charlotte skyline from park behind Latta Arcade

If you’re an art lover, like I am, then South Tryon Street is where you want to be. Spend part of your day wandering through the expansive Mint Museum Uptown. Their website boasts, “the oldest art museum in North Carolina, and the art museum with one of the largest collections in the Southeast, The Mint Museum offers its visitors inspiring and transformative experiences through art from around the world via innovative collections, ground-breaking exhibitions, riveting educational programs, and profound scholarship.” Just next door is the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. While it’s by no means the NYC MoMA, it is absolutely worth a visit, especially if you’re a lover of contemporary art like me.

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Bechtler MoMA: South Tryon St
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Inside Mint Museum Uptown

Across the street, there’s a parking garage and a lovely little green space perfect for spending an afternoon. Grab a late lunch at the upscale, farm fresh restaurant Ratcliffe on the Green. Walking north on South Tryon, past the green and museums, you’ll come across the small french bakery Amelie’s. Try some of their loose leaf tea and a pastry. Not far from there is the indoor atrium Latta Arcade, which is full of cool little shops and has a pretty outdoor section lined with multinational restaurants and outdoor seating.

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Bonus tip: have lunch with a view at the Terrace on South Tryon Square! Pictured here is the business park from ground level.

South Tryon Street is one of my favorite streets in Uptown Charlotte. With tons to do, see, and eat, you can wander the streets for hours and keep discovering new things. If you’re visiting Charlotte for the first time, or rediscovering it again, don’t miss exploring South Tryon Street.

Photo Tour of the NYC MoMA

The first time I visited the NYC MoMA I was completely lost in it; I spent hours walking around totally in shock of how a single place could hold so much beauty. Four years later, this past summer, I went back and discovered that nothing has changed. The MoMA is a magical place, an emotional experience, a gallery that reminds you of the beauty and creativity around you in the world. No one leaves uninspired. This is my favorite place in New York City as I saw it in May 2014…

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Jackson Pollock
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Pablo Picasso
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Claude Monet
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo
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View from inside the MoMA
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John Baldessari
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View from inside the MoMA
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Vincent Van Gogh
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From the photography collection
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Jackson Mac Low

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Wandering Washington

 The Pacific Northwest is my favorite part of the country. Just flying into Seattle-Tacoma airport reminded me why.

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I went to Washington State to visit my best friend, Lindsay. Lindsay and I met in first grade, and over the years she’s come to feel more like a sister than a friend. She moved across the country two years ago to go to college, and I only see her every several months. After taking the bus from SeaTac to Bellingham, I saw her waiting at the bus stop, got off with a big, stupid smile on my face, and ran to hug her. On the walk to her house, it was warm in the best way (not like sticky Carolina heat) and it felt like no time had passed at all.

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After getting settled, we headed to Lindsay’s favorite place, Larrabee State Park. We flew up long, winding roads with Lindsay’s boyfriend, Nick, driving and Lindsay’s roommate, her boyfriend and I squished in the back seat. We laid our heads back over the top of the head rests so all we could see were the tops of the trees and sky. Once we got there, we walked down a trail and over some rocks to get to the edge of the water, the Bay of Bellingham. It’s beautiful, clean, and wild. It was warm and the sky was clear.

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Lindsay being hella casualimage

A couple of days later, Nick, Lindsay, and I cross the border into Canada to visit Vancouver. My friend Kate from Ireland, who I met in Biarritz back in 2011, was there working for the summer and it’s a pretty short drive. Or rather, it should be a short drive. We didn’t bring a gps… go figure. But! We got there eventually. We went downtown and it was a great time. The next morning we headed back to Bellingham with massive hangovers and a couple belongings lost in battle. The only pictures I have seem to be fitting for the shit show that was our trip:

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Love Kate! Such a sweet, fun girl.
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Next stop on the Bellingham tour was a state park called Whatcom Falls. Again, it felt wild and unadulterated and gorgeous in the same way that so much of the Pacific Northwest does.

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My trip ended with my summer not far behind it. I couldn’t have asked a better way to end a great season of travel than with my favorite person in my favorite place. And now it’s back to just daydreaming of far away places for me.

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A Perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon

It was a sunny, 70 degree day in the middle of May on my perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon. Well, almost perfect – the thought of it being my last day in the city occasionally crept in and made me feel nostalgic for every passing second. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Portland.

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My day began at 10 am with cups of English breakfast tea and brunch at the Veritable Quandry. I had the blackened catfish with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and ate every single bite in minutes flat. The meal was well worth the slightly heavy price tag on it. The VQ is known for their signature bloody mary with beet infused vodka. It is a perfect morning pick-me-up and complement to brunch.

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After brunch, I strolled along the Tom C. McCall waterfront park, right on the Willamette river, toward the famous Portland Saturday Market. The vast market is filled with local artisan vendors, delicious smelling food carts, and street performers.

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When I was done wandering through every corner of the market, I headed to the Portland Art Museum, the 7th oldest museum in the United States. The expansive gallery showcases art from ancient times to modern day, from Asia to the Northwest U.S. Their impressive contemporary and modern art collection is what I spent most of my time exploring.

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After I’d had my fill of art, I decided to visit Washington Park. The park holds two gardens: Rose and Japanese. The roses had yet to bloom, but the Japanese Garden was spectacular. It is considered to be the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.

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By this point, it was 6 pm and I was more than ready for dinner. I had heard good things about the restaurant The Observatory and made my way to the Montavilla neighborhood to try it out. Dinner started off with the unbelievably delicious cheese platter, which comes with a variety of cheeses, bread, roasted garlic, house cured bacon, fresh fruit, and red wine caramel. For my entree, I chose the grilled salmon with sundried tomato pesto. I was also able to try the cioppino with clams, mussels, oysters, and halibut, and it was fantastic. This restaurant is casual but cool, with a tattooed staff and chic interior design, and serves truly exceptional food.

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I’d say I had a perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon. This city quickly became my favorite one in the states, and I know I will be spending many more Saturdays here in the future.

Have you ever had a perfect Saturday in Portland? What are you’re favorite things to do in the city? Leave a comment and let me know!