A Ticket to the Top

24,901 miles of adventure, food, and love. All starting in NYC.

Let’s Flamingle

IMG_9963One of my best friend’s got married. Before the wedding came the bachelorette party. Big shout out to the bride’s sister and MOH for helping plan this. I took care of the important details and she made sure there was an ample amount of fun. She also kept me company in the hotel gym!

After going back and forth way too many times, we decided on Washington, D.C. because it has everything- vineyards, bars, strippers, and its only a 4 hour drive from NYC. We left NYC on Friday night, equipped with empanadas for dinner and some killer Spotify playlists for dessert. Do you know how many songs can be about cock without having to change the lyrics? This was our form of entertainment.

The bride works in the hotel industry and hooked us up with a 1 bedroom suite in the Navy Yard location. PRO TIP** Our hotel was 3 blocks from Nats Stadium. Because there was no game that weekend, we had tons of metered parking which you can pay via the parkmobile app. We had plenty of room to get ready to the vineyard and to welcome our Friday nigh guest, “Officer Dirty Dean.”

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Our tailgate setup. Who’s ready to flamingle?!?

Saturday morning was a big day at the races. We loaded up the car to tailgate the Virginia Gold Cup. The weather wasn’t great, but that did not stop us from having fun! The MOH kicked off her shoes, and the bride entered into the hat competition. We also had several types of grilled cheese and giant inflatable flamingo because DUH- We had to FLAMINGLE for the last MINGLE. The horse themed continued at Due South where I won a Derby prize (it was also the day of the Kentucky Derby.)

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Looking good for Derby Day in our matching sunglasses, a must for any bachelorette party!

Saturday night was an array of bar hopping and trying to distract bouncers from an expired ID with cleavage- How does a 25 year old have an expired ID for a bachelorette party? We ended Sunday with a bang, or shall I be more specific- with $200 in singles. This was the highlight of the trip! A male burlesque brunch where we were the center of attention because of our stack of money. C’mon ladies- don’t be shy- shove that dollar bill where it belongs!

#BrunchBall

 

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tailgate by A Ticket to the Top

 

Once upon I had this theory, and I pondered it, childish and cheery, over planning a day I so adore-While I realized, readily recapping, suddenly there was an overlapping. Some sort of cosmic overlapping, overlapping of my calendar. “Yaaaaas” I muttered “an overlapping of my calendar.” This April day and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I recall, the bash celebrating brunch and baseball. And in their hands with alcohol, Kelly and Dionne arrived early at my door. Eagerly I wished for bubbly- several bottles arrived luckily,and really not so subtly, subtly I was given a whiskey pour. For the rare and radiant Allie and Kristin managed all pickle back pours. The party makers for evermore.

The morning’s harrowing, hellish hangover cleared and when Stephanie and Lauren finally appeared,It thrilled me-filled me with an intoxication of happiness I never felt before;So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating”Hey girl. hey” as my greeting to Theresa and Sandra at the door. And to Andrea, Mark and Hamilton, I administered my greeting as they walked through the door;-They were all here and nothing more

Back to the party flowing, the mountain of beer bottles steadily growing,
soon I heard the doorbell buzzing somewhat louder than before. “Surely,” said I, “Surely, I must know who that is”Surveyed the room and did an analysis, looking at the people I adore. Let my heart be still a moment for the people I adore. ‘Twas Sally and Marika at the door.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer
“Peeps” said I, “friends, truly your forgiveness I implore; but the fact is I’ve been packing, and so many jokes cracking,And the time I’ve been tracking, tracking when we need to pass through the door The time has come to get out the door- To citi field and nothing more.

Opening the car trunk, I flung in the cooler, and others waited in calling an uber,  Anthony dove in to the driver seat and put the pedal to the floor; the invitation stated that 5pm started the party and it was 7 minutes to being tardy and Erica and Jim were at the stadium ready for foolhardy-a #drinkingshorts encore. An annual gathering of friends, Baseball, beer, and bocce ball asking for an encore. Need or Wanting nothing more.

Much I marvelled in the magical merrymaking and watched those partaking as onto their heads a precocious bottle of prosecco outpour.  And from Ariel’s cup sprang a straw with a unicorn, Frank eating cracker jack popcorn, Whilst Morgan sported an unusual Met’s uniform. The sun setting sent some to the car indoor, which eventually found the majority at the bar indoor. Continuing the party evermore.

Upon waking at the next day’s dawn, to my iPhone I was immediately drawn. Sporting a tattoo press on, cotton mouth and throat that’s soar. And my head was reeling and a new hangover was dealing but I distinctly remember this feeling- feeling of happiness but not sure what for. And I looked at the faces and photos from the day and knew what for.

Although, I can member nothing more.
#BrunchBall

No Sleep Till Cartagena

I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to wait on someone else’s schedule to do the things I want to do. When I found reasonably priced tickets to Cartagena, Colombia, I knew I had to go. Because of work deadlines, I had a short window where I could book my trip. I asked a few friends if they’d like to join, but unfortunately none of their schedules fit with mine. I was off to Colombia on my own.


Most of my friends and family members had the same reaction “What do you mean you’re going to Colombia alone? Aren’t you scared? What about the drug cartels?”

I assured them I would be fine. Reminded them I have a working knowledge of Spanish and fear is relative. I live in the most famous city in the world- Everyday I get to say “I am in New York City,” and I am certain there are people who would be terrified of that same phrase.

So on a plane I went on Sunday morning, but first I had to get through Saturday night. A dear friend of mine is on the committee for an annual ball benefitting sudden cardiac arrest. This year I attended and I had a blast. The most amazing swing band with a packed dance floor. Not to mention open bar. I didn’t get home until 5:30 AM, which left me about a half hour to shower and head to the airport. I desperately tried to stay awake at the gate and as luck would have it, couldn’t sleep on the plane. Oh, I should also mention about 4 weeks prior to this I twisted my knee, so for this event and my trip, I was in a knee brace.


My first day in Colombia was a wash. I spent it napping and watching the American Superbowl. Watching football in Spanish,  I kept yelling “Ah, No! Que Paso?! was he safe?”

I spent 3 days/2 nights on Isla Baru at the most charming bed and breakfast. I had my own little paradise where I sipped the best mojito in my hammock, cuddled with the dogs, and went to sleep to the sound of waves crashing. One of the days I took a cab to Playa Blanca to see the gorgeous turquoise waters. I put my Spanish skills to good use as I chatted with some of the locals and defended myself against scammers. This gringa won’t be taken advantage of! The water was so calm that even with a knee injury (and the warning of my physical therapist) I went into the ocean. Perhaps the best meals were the one provided by my hotel. The fish was so spectacularly tender it tasted more like fish. One night the power went out on the entire so dinner, which is a group dinner among all people staying in the house, moved to the beach. A beachfront dinner with a bonfire under the stars!!! People pay hundreds of dollars for this at fancy carribean resorts.

Told you the views are great 😉

In Cartagena I stayed within the walled city. It reminded me of “Love in the Time of Cholera” hearing the horses walk along the cobble stoned streets. I arrived to the city a bit before dusk. For dinner I insisted on ceviche. I went to a restaurant the hotel recommended. Early in the morning I knew the ceviche was not agreeing with me. I happily settled for some toast and fruit for breakfast. There’s something about the butter in South America- I can eat pan y montaquilla every day!

Being a New Yorker, I thought I could walk the 20 minutes to the markets. Boy, was I wrong. I decided to make a short detour of about 10-15 minutes, and this was the death of me. Yeah, I’m a New Yorker and summers in the city are grueling, but nothing is like the Colombian sun. I was sweating profusely when I arrived to the market. I went from stall to stall looking for bottled water. The heat, upset stomach, and low calorie breakfast was a trifecta for heat exhaustion. Once I found water, I sat atop the fortress wall, slowly sipping it. No use- I caught a cab back to my hotel, I needed to sleep. When I woke I bought a can on coke from my hotel. REJOICE COKE! I don’t know if it was the bubbles, sugar, or caffeine, but it brought me back to life, and just in time to get covered in volcanic mud!


One thing I noticed about Cartagena is that you have to begin your exploring around 3PM. I went during the windy season and that’s the time the wind begins to kick in. The city almost comes to life after 3PM. When I returned from the volcano, feeling much better, I grabbed a few arepas from the street and settled in for a walk around town. The next morning I grabbed a few souvenirs, a coconut water or two, and said goodbye to Cartagena.

I came back tan and with another country crossed off my bucket list.

Let’s call this my Italian birthright 

I was alerted of an airfare sale through Meridiana airlines from NYC to Naples, Italy. My mom retired the week prior and she always said she would travel the world once she retired. If there’s one thing I love more than champagne and red lipstick, it’s making sure people travel the world. I told dad about the deal while finding a friend who would like to travel with me. To my surprise, the parents offered to buy my ticket and join them.

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The plan: I work Wednesday and meet them at the airport. I’ll travel to Sorrento with them for a few days. Come Monday, I’ll return to the US and they’ll continue traveling Italy for another 2 weeks.

No family trip is free of drama but that’s for another post.

Our itinerary:

Day 1- arrive in Naples and pick up car. Head to our hotel (which was an authentic monastery complete with nuns) and explore some of Sorrento

Day 2- get a tour of Pompeii in the morning. Continue exploring Sorrento at night.

Day 3-Island of Capri complete with private tour guide and boat ride. (Yours truly puked on the boat)

Day 4-Positano and driving the Amalfi highway.(Did not plan to take the mountainous way back but it was lovely)

Day 5- drive back to Naples to get on separate flights. (Forgot to note “pick up sandwich for flight because airline food is gross”)

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Enjoying fresh figs in Capri

Overall, it was southern Italy. I was scared of the driving, considered a local, and drunk. Oh man, that house wine is amazing. I’m not sure about traveling with my parents again. They are pretty cool and all about looking at unique and off the beaten path restaurant via TripAdvisor. However, no men hit on me because, as one would guess, I was with my parents. But then again, they did pay for some amazing meals and views. Free trip to Italy V. Smooching on Italian boys. It’s a constant battle within.

Ciao for now

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Only one I gave a good smooch to in Italy

On the Flip Side

Everything has another side we tend to overlook most of the time. When things don’t go the way they are planned, I try to find that other side. I hope to find comfort in the reason or silver lining of the situation.

This February I had planned a short trip to Iceland. My tickets were a steal at $250 round trip. Small catch-my flight was out of Boston. I booked a reward ticket with Delta to Boston. Everything was set. I had my morning at the blue lagoon, my snorkeling tour booked, and the cafes I would visit. The morning of my departure, I get a cancellation email from the airline. Boston airport is closed due to a snow storm. Ironic- My flight to Iceland cancelled due to ice!

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Totally nailed the “Elsa in an ice castle” thing!

This was a Monday morning. I quickly text my boss about my cancelled trip and would be in a little later than usual, emailed the blue lagoon and snorkeling tour to cancel my reservation, and finally, called the airline to refund my flight. As any good travel knows, the E.U. has a very transparent flyer bill of rights. The airline offered to put me on a flight for the next day, but I requested the refund instead. Looking back, I could have inquired about them purchasing another ticket for a different airline out of NYC, but I was feeling under the weather. The day before I went to a first med to be diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. This cancelled flight was a blessing in disguise. I like to think that had I gone to Iceland, my infection would have progressed to something worse like pneumonia.

As I sat in my windowless cube at work, my colleagues asked why I was there. They knew how excited I was to see the Northern Lights, having timed my trip for one of the best days of the year. I also needed this trip. I broke things off with a guy the week before. I needed to find a rebound-I needed a new adventure to love.

I remembered seeing a website for an ice castle. Every year, in various locations throughout the USA, ice castles are built. I informed my boss I would be taking off Friday to see the ice castle in Lincoln, New Hampshire (a 6 hour drive.)

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Pause: Lincoln, New Hampshire. What is in Lincoln, NH?!

I would be spending the night at a Westin outside Boston. “Single girl killed while visiting ice castle in Lincoln, NH” did not sound like a nice headline. I explored the hotel website after booking. It was promoting a nearby ski mountain. I always wanted to learn how to snowboard so I booked a snowboard lesson. My good friend came to the rescue and loaned me  snowboard pants and a jacket.

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First time on a board and terrified. 

It turned out to a be an amazing long weekend. I appreciated the time alone to sort through my feelings, listened to all of season 1 Serial podcast, and most importantly, BECAME OBSESSED WITH SNOWBOARDING!

Ready for silver lining?

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Laughing at my silver lining

My trip was cancelled-I took a snowboard lesson-I went out on several dates with 2 separate men (better than a rebound hookup) who I only met because I was snowboarding.

Now, that’s real optimism.

 

Boobs, Butts & Feathers

I survived my first Caribbean carnival, and this is the tale.

I spent an extended weekend in Toronto for the annual Caribana Carnival. Normally I am not a fan of dancing in the streets while men try to grind on me, but I was told I get to wear a costume with lots of feathers. I was sold.

I left NYC on a Thursday night- landing in Toronto around midnight. My friend booked a really nice apartment for us to stay in. We were a group of 5- 2 beds, 2 baths, balcony, and view of the CN Tower.

The weekend was filled with lots of Tim Hortons, Uber XL’s and clubs, but the highlight was Caribana.

The ladies woke up early on Saturday morning to do hair and makeup, while the guys slept a little later. As we prepared for battle with curling irons and mascara, their “prep” work consisted of a t-shirt.

A quick guide to carnival:

Carnival consists of several bands. Each band has a theme. Within each band are sections. The sections have unique costumes which reflect the band’s theme. During the parade, the sections cross the stage to be judged. The next day, the winning band is usually announced. On the parade route there are food/drink trucks and music trucks. The music tucks are so you can dance the day away and the food/drink trucks are so you can keep the dancing going. With the exception if Caribana, carnivals serve alcohol on their trucks. Our truck had a lunch for us and mixers for our drinks- we stored Rum in waters bottles which the boys carried in their sacks. Shout out to the people on the drink trucks who were very attentive in keeping everyone hydrated!

I like to sum up my carnival experience as “Boobs, Butts & Feathers.” From an anthropological perspective, I am so grateful to have experienced something different than what I grew up with. However, Carnival is very tiring and features lots of drinking, something I usually don’t do. Would I do it again? Possibly in another city. Did I enjoy every minute of it? Absolutely!

 

Feeling (un)Lucky

Vegas, the city of luck or despair. Some get really lucky while here and others leave broke and in debt. No, my few days in Vegas didn’t leave me desolate, but it was ridden with a bout of food poison.

First, I did not travel to Vegas for the parties or gambling. I was there to check out a potential job and spend some time with my buddy Pete. When Pete picked me up from the airport at 9AM his time, I had already puked twice on the airplane. I thought it was a combination of sleep deprivation and a stuffy plane. Nope! For the next 12 hours I was passed out on Pete’s couch only getting up to run to the bathroom. I expected to puke in Vegas, but not on the way TO Vegas.
Once the puking subsided, I was able to enjoy the next few days, which included a visit to the Hoover Dam, the Pinball Hall of Fame, a speakeasy, and a walk through the Wynn casino, where I gambled on the slot machine in hopes of winning enough money to buy a pair of shoes.

I’ll definitely need to head back to Vegas but do it the way most people know-the party/puke combination.

Klowny Con

The conversation began at work. The topic: Zombies. The idea came from a facebook search. The event: Zombie Clown Bar Crawl.

Creepy clowns have been terrorizing the world. For our protection, we went with Mimes. Creepy but not scary enough to be mistaken as legit terrors.

Tailgating through poetry 

The outlook could not have been more brilliant for the crew that day:

The weather stood at a cool 82, perfect for the adult children to play,

And then when Morgan came through with a gin bucket, and Stephanie did the same,

Smiles fell upon the tailgaters at this classic baseball game.

A straggling few awoke early for an hour long train ride,

Clung to the hope of day drinking with baseball on the side.

They thought “I don’t follow baseball nor care about either team,”

Except for one Miss Amy, dressed in Royals theme.


As the morning progressed, a larger crowd did yield

Both Erica and Moises preceded Jim’s arrival to the field.

And the former were proclaimed Yankees fans, while the latter was a sight,

For dressed from head to toe ‘Twas orange, blue and white.


The thing observed, which seemed self evident,

Surveyed while Shoshana and Allie partook in lawn merriment,

The number 2 highlight of the day was bocce ball;

The number 1 was seeing Frank all out sprawl!

But the game did eventually start, to the wonderment of all,

And from the parking lot to the stadium, the group aimlessly crawled;

And once their seats were taken by this wonderful, jovial herd,

Up on the big scoreboard it read “top of the third.”

There was an ease in Mike’s heart as he ate from Keith’s grill.

There was a pride in the stands during a home run thrill.

And when it was learned bars closed as the 7th inning started,

No stranger in the crowd questioned why Anthony departed.

There was no joy in Mudville when Casey, might Casey, struck out,But he didn’t have friends like mine, and that’s without a doubt.

Peace, love, and tailgates.

My Return to Stockholm

 

One of my earliest posts was my 11 day journey to Stockholm to visit a very close friend. This summer, I returned to Stockholm for a much shorter trip. I arrive Thursday morning. The Arlanda express left me a few blocks away from my hotel, The Sheraton Stockholm. Having learned from my last trip, I knew to skip the kiosk line in the airport to buy my ticket and bought it on the platform (pending you have a chip and pin card, not a chip and signature).

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Me and Mt. Anders

My tallest friend also lives in Stockholm. I made it a priority to see him. It really is great having friends in cities where I am a stranger. They know all the best places. We grabbed a coffee and chatted, or the Swedish term “Fika.” Our chit-chat was cut short because I was meeting my other friend for a rooftop tour! This was very cool and highly recommended for a different Swedish experience.

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I blinked on purpose #lies

I am not one for walking or bike tours. Who am I kidding? I love historical tours, but I don’t want to put in the effort to move. In this case, the tour was done atop of the parliament building. We were strapped in and walked a predetermined path while our guide pointed out famous areas and historical buildings.
The remainder of my trip was spent doing non-touristy things. I did a lot of biking champagne drinking. My friends even taught me how to sabre a champagne bottle. Having dinner with my friend and her family, at their home, surrounded by love, was the best moment of the trip. Now the funniest moment, however, was when we went to “Bersa and Bulle.”

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Wine in hand with my game face on

My Swedish friend began to describe the game of “Bulle” She said “You throw one ball then you have to get your ball closest to it.” “Bocce” I said. “No, it’s different. It’s Bulle,” No, it was the Swedish version of Bocce, a game I, as an Italian American, grew up playing. I was the overall winner, with a little help from my Sangria.
Sadly, my journey came to an end that Sunday. Such a short trip, but a very full filling and magical journey as they all seem to be.