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Austin, Texas USA

 

Austin is known as the live music capital of America, and it does not disappoint. Every night of the week you can catch an up-and-coming artist in just about every genre. Whether it's an open mic night in a pub, a street party with a pint, or a free concert at an outdoor restaurant, you can find great music all over Austin.  Incredible food is everywhere so my list is by no means exhaustive.  

Here is a starting point for your first visit to Austin. Try something new, explore by foot, & stay up late!


 Wanderlust Yoga 

Wanderlust Yoga 

FOOD

Austin is pretty much all about the food! Seriously, it is so good, you end up planning the next place while eating.  Food trucks are a huge thing in Austin & held to a higher standard than restaurants, so don't be shy, try that smoked brisket taco out of an airstream!  Many top chefs are breaking away from the kitchen to open a food trucks around Austin, upping the food game completely.

Lunch in Austin typically means sitting outside and soaking up the sunshine.  The Shady Grove is top on my list! Most of the seating is outdoors & they have free live music every Thursday night.  Torchy's Tacos has several locations & had the best tacos I have ever had, with deep friend avocado & polbano sauce- top notch! Breakfast proved to be my favorite time of day in Austin, with places like Austin Java, Tacodeli (Organic & local,) Magnolia Cafe, Kerbey Lane Cafe(homestyle cooking,) & Gueros. For granola people, Blenders&Bowls is a great spot for a lighter breakfast. When it comes to brunch in Austin, expect Mexican twists on traditional dishes as well as all the American classics.  For truly Austin experience, try Gospel Brunch at Stubb's BBQ, but book your tickets ahead, as they have a line down the street every day! 

 Shady Grove

Shady Grove

MUSIC

Live music is all over Austin, so it's easy to find something happening every night of the week. Find out what's going on HERE. For a guaranteed great night out, Rainey Street is the way to go.  Part block party-part hipster cocktail party, it's the best place to spend the evening bar hopping & checking out what live music is on offer.  If beer is your thing, Banger's Sausage Hour & Beer Garden boasts the largest tap wall in Austin, with specialty sausages to accompany.  For dancing until the wee hours, Container Bar has great cocktails, outdoor space & DJ's. The Continental Club Gallery is a great night out & Elephant Room is great for Jazz!

 

Coffee 

Coffee in Austin is top shelf  Small batch roasters and top trained baristas are plentiful- even the food trucks are pumping out artisian crema.  I like the chilled vibe of Houndstooth Coffee, the artistry of Caffe Medici & the variety of Austin Java (which has delicious food too!)  If you need to go for a grocery shop, you can visit the original WholeFoods Market & snag a cup of great coffee there!

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YOGA

Yoga is well represented in Austin's.  There is a real zeal for fitness throughout the city. Downtown the 10 mike lake run is packed with runners, bikers & walkers all day.  I tried a quaint, donation-based studio TreeHouseYoga The studio has a lovely view of the treetops & good quality equipment.   With 4-5 classes per day, there is something for everyone on the schedule.  Other popular yoga studios include YogaYoga Austin & Wanderlust which hosts international teachers, workshops & teacher trainings. Smaller studios like the Clearspring Yoga  are peppered around Austin's residential areas. 

STREET ART

Austin's bounty of street art murals have become iconic city landmarks. From the "I love you so much" mural on the side of Jo's Coffee to Rory Skagan's "Greetings from Austin" on south First Street, there is so much to see.  You can easily spend the better part of a day seeing street art.  Check out the Spratx collective for even more, or explore the city by foot! Just make sure you stop for tacos!


Bath, England


We decided to go on a romantic weekend in Bath for our 4th wedding anniversary.  I can’t believe how fast time goes! I have now been living in England for 5+ years and  its beauty continues to amaze me.  It is so peaceful outside of London and some villages feel like you’ve gone back in time.  I love the sleepy pace of English farms and the richness of color in the hillsides.  One of my favourite things is when we throw a bag in the back of the car and hit the road for the weekend.  I’m American, so road trips are part of my DNA.

I love cows and I make Vicki stop whenever we see them in the countryside. This trip was no exception.

 

Once we got settled and put our stuff in our B&B, we headed out for a cheeky pint at our favourite pub, The Huntsman

Hers & Hers @ The Huntsman

It's a good idea to visit the Roman Baths first thing too as it gets crowded quickly.   The Thermal Spa is incredible, with a rooftop pool and indulgent packages perfect for a weekend getaway.  

Bath Abbey is absolutely stunning, and offers music events weekly. If you know me, you know I love doors.  This one was a bit to heavy to bring home.  I think it's pretty much my favorite door ever...

We wandered around the Parade Gardens in the afternoon which overlooks the river Avon and I loved this statue of a beautiful Angel.

FOOD

For the vegetarians out there, Chai Walla is top notch! They don't have a website, but they don't need it.  Food is fresh and delicious.  I have to say, my favorite little place is actually Acorn which is tiny, but classy, and sources all of its ingredients from local artisans.  

 

MUSIC

There are lots of places in Bath to see live music.  The folk music at The Huntsman is incredible, with seemingly random people joining round a table and pulling out a fiddle to create exceptional jam sessions.   There is an annual Folk Festival every August, live music every Sunday at The Bath Brew House, and Wednesday night Jazz at The Pump House.  For the full list of places to suit your fancy, check here for more listings. 

 

YOGA

Ashtanga Yoga Bath has daily Mysore classes, pre-book courses &  a few workshops.

The Bath Iyengar Yoga Centre has 2 location and offers several classes per day.   

Yoga Bodhi offers a wide variety of classes including Anusara, Ashtanga, Ballet fusion & Vinyasa Flow.

 

 

 


Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada


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Edinburgh, Scotland


Edinburgh is full of life.  Well, I did visit during an England vs. Scotland rugby match, but I like to think kilts are worn like that by everyone year-round.  The town was buzzing with things to do, from shopping on Queen's Street to hiking atop Arthur's Seat.  We did these things, but for me, wandering around town with no plan or destination is where the real magic happens.  Whenever we get lost, we strike up a conversation with a local about the area. We ask advice and we take it.  There is nothing better than seeing the best live music in town alongside a townie who has been looking forward to it all week! 

 Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle 

 ET phone home

ET phone home

We stayed at the best little Air BnB right across from the entrance to Holyrood Park.  This location was great because we could easily walk to Aurthur's Seat, downtown & local grocery stores.  It's a university town, so public busses were frequent and reliable.  This spot is also next to the Commonwealth Swimming Pool

FOOD

VEGETARIAN: Earthy is a fantastic grocery store and has all things you want from an organic, local health food store.  It has a grocery store location in Newington, which includes a cafe, as well as a separate restaurant location on the other side of town.

COFFEE

I really liked the coffee at Castello in New Town

YOGA

Meadowlark Yoga

LIVE MUSIC

Whistle Binkies

 

Things I have learned about the Scottish

  • They have no problem with projection.

  • Kilts are worn on Hogmanay & match days.

  • Don't ask man in a kilt if he's a real scotsman.

  • Old town is always the best part of a town

  • Always bring a scarf to Scotland.

  • Edinburgh is full of American students 


Ojai, California


Ojai California is my nest.  It was the place I went from child to adult, timid middle-schooler to outgoing highschooler, hesitant explorer to fearless adventurer.  There is a magic about Ojai that is difficult to describe, but i say it's like a giant hug.   It's a nest, a nurturing place of growth & creativity with inspiration everywhere you look.  The food is incredible, schools are top notch, & people intelligent & quirky.  The valley is peppered with world-renowned outdoor musical festivals, professional year round theater, & art tours. Ojai is perched in a beautiful valley, cradled by orange groves & avocado trees with the steady gaze of the  Topa Topa mountain range in the distance.

As most teenagers do,  I focused on getting 'out.' I wanted to travel, explore, see what was out there.  Yet after 10 years of living away, my perspective is one of deep appriciation and happiness on my annual visits home.   I love the fact that there were so many laid back, informed hippies, hopeful about the direction of the world & encouraging of all of my dreams.  It is happy nostalgia.

 

The State Flower of California is the poppy.  This beautiful sculpture fountain is right in the heart of Ojai in a stretch of the main street called the 'Arcade' 

No trip to Ojai is complete without a trip to Meditation Mount.  This place has a special place in many people's hearts 

 Libbey Park

Libbey Park

 The Arcade 

The Arcade 

Where to EAT

Ojai has some incredible restaurants, offering everything from fine dining to burrito huts and tons of gems in between.  Mexican food is a staple throughout California, and Ojai is no exception.  Two of my favorite places to grab authentic Mexican grub are La Fuente for the best tamales ever and Jim & Rob's Fresh Grill (3 locations,) for killer breakfast buriittos, salads & all the usual dishes.  

For casual lunch or dinner Exotic Thai is my favorite for great vegetarian dishes on the east end of town.  Boccalis is local icon, with its rich history in growing its own ingredients and offering some of the best Italian food. It is perfect for the whole family with its relaxed indoor-outdoor atmosphere.  

For incredible dining, there's Azu, offering incredible as well as a relaxed, local atmosphere.  Another fancy dining spot, also downtown, is Suzanne's Cuisine, offering refined dishes for lunch and dinner.  Finally, The Ranch House is the most romantic, in my opinion, perfect for a warm alfresco summer night for those interested in organic,  locally sourced delicacies. 

Coffee

The best has to be Ojai Coffee Roasting Co. It is a place I worked for many years and treasured as my second home in high school. The shop is in the heart of town, on Ojai avenue, situated opposite the arcade.  

 Walking towards  pizza ...

Walking towards pizza...

Yoga

Sacred Spaces has a long established presence in the valley

iyengar yoga 


Santa Fe, New Mexico


Santa Fe, New Mexico is a visceral wonder.  The colors are vibrant, the weatherthe food 

YOGA

There are several great studios to choose from in Santa Fe.  I taught a workshop at the lovely Santa Fe Community Yoga Center The bustling studio Yoga Source has two locations and a full schedule of classes, including yin, pranayama, & vinyasa.  

And of course, a beautiful door.


Sun Valley, Idaho


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FOOD

The food in Sun Valley is fantastic.  As a vegetarian, I am always looking for the healthiest places in town.  There is an incredible grocery store in Ketchum, Atkinsons, which has a wide variety of healthy food, organic, local produce & specialty items.  We stayed at the lodge in a condo, so we cooked breakfast every morning and loved all the local fresh ingredients.

ITALIAN: Smoky Mountain Pizza is great family spot. Kids can get involved by making their own pizzas! There are lots of choices on the menu for those who want something other than pizza.

MEXICAN: Despo's is amazingly good Mexican food- just make sure you come hungry!  This 25-year family run spot is super welcoming.  Portion sizes are generous and the dishes are affordable.

VEGAN: Glow Live Food Cafe is the perfect spot for vegans & vegetarians visiting Sun Valley wishing to eat 100% ORGANIC & local! 

BRUNCH: Cristina's is incredible! Fresh baked bread to die for along with the best egg dishes you've ever had! Italian chef Christina's person touch is felt throughout. Make a reservation.

DINNER: The Grill at Knob Hill has a stunning garden for a summer al-fresco meal.  Dishes are refined yet familiar and dress is smart yet relaxed. 

COFFEE 

We had delicious coffee at Iconoclast the local bookstore in Ketchum.  There is a wonderful, laid-back vibe at Iconoclast and I found it was a great place to sit and browse or get some work done in a relaxed, warm environment.  

Lizzy's Fresh Coffee is by far the tastiest coffee I had in Ketchum! She roasts her own beans on site and her passion for great coffee shines through to the cup!

 

YOGA

I went to class at Gather Yoga Studio a few mornings during my visit.  It's a sweet, intimate studio, offering a nice range of classes.  There is also a free sunrise class at the base of Bald Mountain for those on a tight budget called Yoga on the Mountain. There are also daily classes offered at the Lodge & at the nearby Zenergy.

Live Music

A number of venues offer live music through the week.  We saw a great band at Whiskey Jacques.  Apart from local pub bands, Year-round concerts take place in the Sun Valley Pavilion.  

 

Amsterdam/Uttrecht

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FOOD

Pluk was by far my the best little place for a healthy, fresh lunch.  They have adorable homewares for sale, fresh pastries and lovely sandwiches.  Also they have a couple of locations, each with unique character. 

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