Philly – A Weekend

There was a part of me that assumed I couldn’t travel on my own, and it was that part of me that I wanted to challenge. Travelling with friends is fun – as long as you and the friends are compatible travelling companions, and I’m lucky to have some good friends that are great travel buddies. Still, I wondered what it would be like to set my own pace, to wake up at 11 am and spend three hours wandering a museum or sitting in a park reading a newly purchased book from the local bookstore, simply because I fancied doing so at the time. So, when I was started feeling a deep desire to spend time alone, I took a random weekend trip to Philadelphia.

I had to set goals, I wanted to see two places of interest, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and I wanted to visit at least one local bookstore – if I purchase something, that would be a plus!

After arriving by Amtrak on Friday afternoon, making my way to my Airbnb for the weekend (in the heart of the city!) and finding some cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market, I decided to map out my weekend. The next day I’d try to visit the Liberty Bell and take a walk across town to the museum, then the following day it would be bookstores and shops. Continue reading

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I still don’t like running

halfmarathon

I did it! It happened! I completed a 13.1-mile race, and I got a medal to prove it!

I survived my first 1/2 marathon, but I haven’t been bitten by the running bug. I do have a greater appreciation for those who can do this in half the time it took me to finish (3 hours 26 minutes), and I have come away with a better understanding of my running style. However, running is not the first thing I’d do for fun. I prefer walks – slow ones, where you can marvel about your surroundings, or your walking companion(s).

Now that I am free of pain I might do it again, as long as it’s another fun run and I am not expected to finish the course in less than 3 hours. I will most certainly train better next time.

diagonally

While the run was the focus of the weekend, I have to spend a few lines reflecting on the near-perfection of Diagon Alley.

I loved that it was hidden away, behind an unassuming building. I loved the fire-breathing dragon atop Gringotts! I absolutely enjoyed the new ride. I still love Frozen Butterbeer and Fizzing Whizbees. But most of all, I loved the use of interactive wands to bring a splash of wonder to the park experience. Great job, Universal! Not only do you have more people buying wands, you also added a layer of interactivity to the park. If only there were more sections!

Next stop, Universal Hollywood!

Thoughts from Places: Baltimore

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It’s very hard to visit another city and not compare it to the one I know. I try to, but when I look at the stats I feel admiration towards the city I spend my life in and appreciate what I have here. Baltimore is three times the size of Manhattan but has 1/10th of the population. The city is sprawling with tons of space and large sidewalks. It’s extremely well kept and from the little I’ve seen this past weekend, very family friendly.

I did quite a bit of sightseeing while I was there. Museums had dollar days that weekend and they were packed with families looking for something to do with their children. I visited the Maryland Science Center which had a lot of cool facts for kids – and where I learned to identify male and female blue crabs. Then took a walk to the Walters Art Museum, which is free all year around.

Walters Art Museum was one of my favourites, and I really appreciated the Walters family for donating their extensive collection for the world to see. I also visited the American Visionary Art Museum – and left a message there – which was very strange, but also fascinating. Some of the pieces there were magnificent.

I love a city with access to good museums, whether science, history, art, I love the curation of information displayed visually, and I love that I can always find something new or learn something different even if I’m visiting the same museum multiple times.

The main purpose of the trip was to see the Newsies, the show was excellent – though I thought the Broadway run had better singing, this isn’t to say that the singing wasn’t great.

It was a fun weekend and a great destination, I will definitely be visiting again.

Five Things (9)

These five things are brought to you by the Fall in the Summer.

Sparks Fly on the 4th & Zombies Walk the Streets

I had a pretty surreal 4th of July weekend. Had a wonderful barbecue at a friend’s place (a sort of house warming event), after which we walked to the school nearby to see the fireworks. The next day I spent with a friend, just hanging out, watching World War Z (not bad but, not great) and talking about life, love and other mysteries. Finally rounding off the weekend with new jewelry, a swim in a pool and book club.

I know it seems like a pretty normal thing, but the topic of the weekend was a bit surreal and it got me prepared for the next big adventure …

Road Trips to Small Towns in Massachusetts

I went on a personal retreat with two friends. I know what you’re thinking; how is it a personal retreat when two other people are there? Well, that’s easy, the idea is to get away from the normal and do nothing, either with each other or by yourself. It’s a time to refresh.

I definitely needed to get away, to relax, to journal, to think. I did all of that and more! Coming back was hard, but at least I was at peace.

shanella retreat

Big Screens in Little Parks 

One of my favourite things to do during the Summer is to see a movie in Bryant Park. Every Monday, the park is packed with New Yorkers and visitors as they wait, on blankets or chairs, for the sun to set. At sunset the movie begins. This month I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it was a fun time, even though it rained, even though the sounds was off, even though we were VERY FAR BACK! It’s just fun to share the time with friends.

shanella in the park

A Ferry Ride to the Island

I finally went to Governor’s Island again! After about three years! A few things have changed, but overall it’s just as I remembered it.

It was a fun day, hanging with friends as they came and went. Being on a Ferry for 30 minutes before they finally decided to move and then seeing my life flash before me as the ferry decided to dock in the same spot as another Ferry. It was quite the adventure!

They still have the bikes, so it was fun to ride around the island and see a closer view of the Statue of Liberty. They also have a new food court pavilion with Waffles and Dinges! I’m looking forward to visiting the island again, this time in 1920s garb for the Jazz Age Lawn Party!

shanella on gov island

The Great Tomato Report

I am really excited for my garden. This month I planted some peas and bought a mint plant, but the most exciting part is the number of tomatoes that keep growing! I’ve also got a lot of basil and quite frankly I don’t know what to do with them – other than smell their awesome scent.

Did I mention that I also have lavender?

Seeing my little garden makes me very happy. I did a lot of work to get it going, so much so that I was in pain for a week after digging up the ground and getting rid of old stumps! I’m so glad that tomatoes are so easy to grow! Basil too! I really cannot wait for the peas to grow, then I can make a veggie dish, using the fruit of my labour. (heh heh)

shanella garden tomatoes

 

~*~

A Floridian Adventure

Florida Adventure

I was looking through some very old photos and came across some from Florida, including this one from Universal.

I really love universal, I love the sets! One can definitely spend an entire day imagining on set. This was taken in a hip Brooklyn neighbourhood, where we spent the night sitting on the stoop, singing oldies while A played on a busted guitar that he found in an empty lot a few blocks away. B and C loved dancing about the sidewalk while D sang with the voice of an angel. We stayed like this until old Mrs. E peeked out her window and told us to find our way home – in not so nice terms.

Universal also have some fun rides, my fave there was the Mummy ride which, for some reason, is just ridiculously funny. Let’s not forget that Universal is also the home of Hogsmead! The Harry Potter park was still under construction during this trip, but I did return a year later to experience the wonder.

Wedding Weekend Wonders

This past weekend I went upstate with some friends – the Catskills to be exact – to celebrate the wedding of Ben and Meghan. I’ve known Ben since I started making friends at New Life and Meghan, I met more or less through Ben, for the last two years, so I was very happy to be a celebrant in their union.

The wedding took place at Full Moon Resort, a place that seemed to specialize in weddings, so we spent the entire weekend there! We arrived close to 8pm due to traffic and got busy eating barbeque in the tent – I’m going to pause here and say, I’ve never had ribs that melted off the bone and into my mouth like I did that night, either I had the best ribs and pulled pork in my life, or I was really hungry; I’m leaning towards the former. After a delicious dinner we went to the event space across the road for some Open Mic night fun!

Open Mic is such a “Ben&Meghan” thing, Ben on his guitar and Meghan with her poetry, both very talented, both very good. Friends and family performed for the two, but the best part was probably the closing act – the guys with the ribbons stole the show. Afterwards, we had some s’mores around a bonfire and Meghan burnt a lot of to-dos and planning notes … all under the light of the moon.

Continue reading

Paris, London, Prague

I was recently away on vacation, and today (a week after returning) I’ve finally processed and uploaded all of my photos. I took over a thousand photos, but I won’t post all of that online, who wants to go through a thousand photos!? So, I thought I’d post just a few to highlight the trip.

Mr. Asphodel de Canter is my Pygmy Puff companion. He travels with me everywhere – he’s almost one year old! The first thing we did when we landed in Paris was go to the hotel.

The view from our room was spectacular, one of our walls was practically an entire window, looking out onto the canal.  Continue reading