Figawi Weekend, Nantucket

When a good friend asked if I wanted to spend Memorial Day weekend in Nantucket, I was thrilled. The small island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts sounded like the perfect retreat for a girls’ weekend.

My family had taken me to Cape Cod for several vacations throughout my childhood, but I had never been to Nantucket. For those of you who have also never been, I encourage you to visit this New England sanctuary.

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The tiny island (only thirteen miles in length and three and a half miles wide) is only accessible by ferry or plane. Vehicles are permitted on the island, but it is encouraged not to bring a vehicle during the Summer season. The town accommodates visitors with public transportation and bike paths that connect to the town center and town-owned beaches. The ferry service from Cape Cod offers two options: the slow ferry (2 hour ride) and the fast ferry (1 hour ride). Our crew chose the slow ferry, but only by default– the fast ferry can be booked in advance and is usually filled far in advance, especially during holiday weekends.

The Memorial Day weekend is special for Nantucket because of the traditional Figawi boat race. The sail boat race takes competitors from Hyannis to Nantucket and back again. The race lasts for the entire weekend and includes party festivities throughout the town. The name of the race originates from the phrase “Where the f*ck our we?,” said in the Boston accent, which was said to be uttered during the first race because of the fog conditions that settle over the Nantucket Sound.

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Our incredible weekend started Friday morning when we departed New York, heading north. The long trek, which included about a four and a half hour drive and the two-hour ferry ride, was well worth it. Our hostess greeted us at the port and we were headed for our accommodations, the “Bunny House.” (It is highly recommended to find a house or apartment to rent on the island if you are staying for more than three nights, as there are very few hotels that tend to be pretty expensive). Luckily, we were hosted by a lovely family friend who let us stay with them. You can find a property for your trip here.

Things to do on the island are abundant, and in our short visit, we certainly didn’t have enough time to experience everything. Since Nantucket is rich in history, there are several museums and galleries that celebrate the island’s past. There are three lighthouses on the island that are endlessly photographed and painted by artists; we visited Sankaty Lighthouse, pictured here. Unfortunately, our long-weekend on the island was mostly cold and rainy, but in warmer, dryer times, the town-owned beaches are free for the public and easily accessible by public transportation.

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Town is the place to be when your not exploring the cultural and natural aspects of Nantucket. Town is also accessible by public transportation and features the original cobblestone streets (heels are not suggested, ladies). Town is where a lot of popular restaurants, shops, and bars are located, and it is busy all day and all night. You can also watch the boats coming in from the race on the docks here. If you want a great gift to take home, look for authentic Nantucket baskets (buyers beware: they are a bit pricey). And for the loved ones at home, don’t forget to check out Aunt Leah’s Fudge, and coming from a Jersey girl, you know it’s good fudge!

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The nightlife was extremely fun, especially because of the large crowds that came out for Figawi weekend. There are several bars in town that are within walking distance, so it was fun to bar hop and meet some of the racers. Make sure to try the Grey Lady beer with a shot of Triple 8 blueberry vodka, a Nantucket tradition. It’s delicious, but beware, it can knock you to the ground!

Both the beer and vodka come from Cisco Brewers. You can visit Cisco on Bartlett Farm Road and sample Cisco Brewers beer, Triple Eight Distilleries liquor, and Nantucket Vineyards wine, all in one place. A great day-trip experience, as they usually have live entertainment and food trucks, you can sample delicious island-made alcohol and relax with friends.

Although we tried several restaurants, I would highly recommend A.K. Diamond’s for dinner. We had a delicious meal with appetizers and wine, and everything was reasonably priced. I would also highly recommend stopping at Downyflake Doughnuts for breakfast. There serve delicious, freshly-made, old-fashion doughnuts that are worth breaking your diet for.

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Overall, our Nantucket trip was phenomenal, and I cannot wait to go back to revisit the places that we saw and to also experience all of the places that we missed. Although Nantucket is a small island, it certainly has a lot to offer and it is welcoming to guests of all ages.

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The Newsies: An un-Cinco de Mayo day on Cinco de Mayo

I will admit, I spend most Cinco de Mayos with a frozen margarita (salt, please!), a huge bowl of guacamole, and lots of tortilla chips. This year my Mexican holiday went a little different. My mom and I took my cousin to NYC to see The Newsies and for a little shopping in our favorite big city.

As a child, I remember watching The Newsies as a Sunday night Disney movie special. Everything about the musical was enthralling: the time period, the catchy songs, and of course, Christian Bale. So when the musical was announced to appear on Broadway, I was ecstatic. This weekend I saw the live version for the second time and it does not disappoint!

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For those of you not familiar with the movie or play, the story is set in the late 1800s when Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst dominated the world of news media. The premise follows the young boys who sell the papers on the streets of New York City (“two for a penny, just as good as any”). When Pulitzer decides that his bottom line isn’t big enough, he raises the price of papers for the newsies, therefore diminishing their meager wages. Instead of accepting this outrageous hike, the newsies strike against the “papes” (newsie slang for newspapers).

With a courageous male lead, Jack Kelly, played by Corey Cott on Sunday, and his willful followers, the show was an uplifting tribute to a time period when young workers had to find a voice against corporate magnates. Jack Kelly found his counterpart with sassy female lead, Katherine, played by Kara Lindsay. The domineering heroine is an arts and leisure journalist trying to break into hard news. When she hears about the newsies’ strike, Katherine wants the exclusive, and soon enough, Jack and Katherine are more than business acquaintances. The plot thickens when Jack finds out the Katherine is actually the daughter of Joseph Pulitzer (spoiler alert!). Through several pitfalls, the newsies finally combat the unforgiving Pulitzer and an appearance is made by Governor Roosevelt, who obviously sides with the newsies.

Overall, the show is a huge success. With poignant singing and phenomenal dance numbers, this show is sure to please audiences of all ages. Like most plays that are adapted from the silver screen, there were a few changes in the plot, but all-in-all, I think the stage version would make Christian Bale proud.

To top off our day, we ate some delicious food at Stout NYC. The turkey burger was quite tasty, and although it wasn’t of traditional Cinco de Mayo decent, it pleased my palette all the same. A highly recommended sports bar/restaurant, especially for anyone visiting MSG in the near future.

Happy May Day/Lei Day!

Happy May Day! And happy Lei Day! The traditional “holiday” that I knew nothing about. Well, I did my research, so here it goes… May Day is a pagan holiday that celebrated the start of summer in pre-Christian times. The most iconic symbol of May Day is the maypole dance. In modern times, May Day celebrations include dancing and spring flowers. The idea of “May Day is Lei Day” came about in 1927 when a poet and author in Honolulu named Don Blanding proposed the idea that Hawaii should celebrate May Day with the Hawaiian tradition of making and presenting visitors with leis. The holiday continues today as tourists can participate in Lei Day festivals that teach lei making, music and dancing.

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I have never been to Hawaii but a visit to the island state has been on my bucket list for years. With today’s discovery and research of Lei Day, I will be planning my trip to revolve around the First of May. Hawaiian culture and history is endlessly fascinating, and so my research will continue until I am able to plan my visit. Like most of my adventures, I am unabashedly obsessed with learning about the locale’s history, culture, and traditions before traveling. I think it’s important to have some background about a region before coming in as a tourist. This allows me to fully appreciate everywhere I travel and makes every trip memorable and significant.

Photo © 2012 Hawaii Tourism Authority

A Trip to Western Massachusetts

View from the top of the mountain

View from the top of the mountain

When my friends recently invited for a weekend up at a cabin in West Stockbridge, MA, I was game. Who could resist a three-day getaway to the beautiful Berkshire mountains? The log cabin was owned by a friend’s parents; a lovely home that was both rustic and comfortable. The quaint town was a mere ten minute drive from the house, boasting family-owned restaurants, a used bookstore, and a three-theater movie theater. What more could a city-girl (who may or may not have had to move home) ask for in an inexpensive trip to New England? But wait, there’s more. This wasn’t just any skip a few states north to stay in a cabin nestled within a small town. No, this was a ski trip!

Okay, I know your bringing that sassy snap, asking, “What’s the big deal about a ski trip?” Well, I will tell you. I have never been skiing in my nearly quarter century of living. Yes, true bunny right here. Now, I will be honest, I was excited to try the sport, but also wholly terrified. Having been a dancer, I should have impeccable balance, grace, poise, and agility. I do not. I haven’t been ice skating in years because it takes me about an hour to make it around a rink once. So the thought of trusting my entire life on two skinny planks and a few pointy poles was terrifying.

Needless to say, the weekend we had chosen this past February was the same weekend that Nemo had chosen to make a presence along the East Coast. Yes, thank you winter storm named after one of my favorite Pixar animated Disney films. I was saved from one day of skiing of the originally planned three-day affair. Day two, not so lucky. Now, I’m being slightly dramatic here, I will admit. I was psyched to see if I could pull this off, gracefully and in one piece, but the story is only beginning, my friends. We drove about forty-five minutes to Catamount Ski Resort, located on the state boundaries between Massachusetts and New York. The deal was an eight-hour lift ticket and for this newby, all the equipment, including a helmet (thank god!). Three of the six people were avid skiers, as in had been flying down mountains since they were three. The fourth person had been a time or two. And then there were two: my former roommate and me. She had chosen snowboarding, therefore we parted ways. I went up the ski lift with her fiance, a dear friend of mine. Perhaps I trusted him a little too much that first lift up. The lift itself was fun. I liked being high up, seeing around me the miles of freshly fallen white snow. That was beautiful. Getting off the lift, a little scary. I grabbed onto my friend and held on tight (not highly recommended, as you should be able to get off the ski lift yourself).

Then came the mountain. And I mean mountain. As in top of the mountain, not bunny hill. Mistakingly, my friend did not realize that the lift had a drop-off half-way up the mountain that was for the bunny hill. First time on skis, and I was faced with a huge mountain and three-year-olds whizzing by me. Damned kids.

I will save you the agony of re-creating a play-by-play of my trip down the mountain that first time. In summation, lots of falling, not a lot of pizza, a close encounter with the mountains edge, a near run-in with a light pole, and a walk down half the mountain. I ended up in the ski lodge a few hours later (yes hours– good thing we got the eight-hour lift ticket because it took me two hours to make it down the mountain once!) I stayed in the lodge for four hours, eating, drinking cocoa, mingling with my friends as they would take breaks throughout the day. Yes, that $100 was worth a day at the mountain, suffering through those initial bruises and wondering why on earth someone in her mid-twenties would try to learn how to ski.

By now, the sun had gone down and the bright lights lining the trails had come on. ‘Tis the season of night skiing. My friends had come in for another break, chatting wistfully about the great conditions following Nemo’s stint. I was trying to stay involved, but clearly I was the loser who hid away in the lodge while everyone else was busy having fun on the mountain. We had about two hours left on the lift tickets. For me, it was now or never. Was I going to go down in the history of this weekend as the coward who sat in the lodge after one run, or was I going to give it another try and prove that I could make it down the damned mountain?

The lift took me up, and this time my friend and I got off at the bunny hill. Better late than never. He went over the basics again and we began our decent. This time, it seemed easier. Did I still fall? Yes. But here I was doing french fries and pizza. Why were they so hard the first time? I was turning and stopping. Slowly, but still making it down this slope. By the time I made it down, I was ready to go again! Hallelujah! I was not a loser, I was just a slow learner. I made it down twice before I was completely exhausted and our lift ticket expired. It was a proud moment for me to go back to the lodge and enjoy a celebratory hot cocoa instead of consolatory one.

Now it’s a few weeks later. Those initial bruises are still lingering all over my legs, battle scars of my trip to Western Massachusetts. I no longer fear the mountain, but I can’t say that I will skiing again any time soon. Eventually, I’ll go back and give it another whirl. I would like to make it down at least once in my lifetime without ever falling. But maybe that will just be a goal for next season. For now, I’m looking forward to warmer weather.

Sassy is My Favorite Adjective

This sassy beast lives in Rome.  He offered me a rose and I couldn't resist.

This sassy beast lives in Rome. He offered me a rose and I couldn’t resist.

When describing things, whether that be clothes or a place or even a friend, I love to use the word sassy.  If you follow this blog, or just read one post, you might read the word sassy several times.  Already in this post, I’ve said sassy quite a few times.  I guess there are other words I can use in its place, like saucy, cheeky, bold, or brassy, but nothing quite has the same effect as sassy.

In real life, I’m usually described as shy, quiet, and perhaps even boring.  Maybe that’s just because some people don’t know me very well.  Yes, it takes me a long time to warm up to people and to show my true colors.  And yes, I can be very serious when it comes to work and public interactions.  But deep down, my personality is vivacious and colorful.  I am passionate and loud.  I like to explore new places and take risks.  I love to sing and dance and laugh.  And sometimes I find that the best way to show my true self is through my writing.  What I put down on paper is raw and truthful, and yes, sassy.

This blog is not only an opportunity to showcase my love for finding new places and for wearing great fashion, but it is also a space where my sassy side can come out.  And while there might be judgment here, I really don’t care.  If someone doesn’t like what I have to say, they don’t have to continue reading.  But if you’re smart, have a sense of humor, and are looking for a sassy post about cool places and hot clothes, then we will be great friends.