Archive | travel

Weekend Getaway to NYC! — Part II

IMG_9214 Hi again! Hope you had a great 4th of July… a while ago. ;)

In Part I of this post, I shared a bit about why and how Elliott and I went to New York. Here is the second half for all of you who love exploring and eating your way through new places!

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-3 After our morning in Lower Manhattan, Elliott and I took the subway to Brooklyn. I’d never been to Brooklyn, if you can believe it! We got off the subway at Park Slope and basically just started walking, meandering down tree-lined streets of Brooklyn brownstones, exploring the Brooklyn Public Library, dipping into The Community Bookstore to read and pet the cat, and resting for awhile in the grass of Prospect Park:

IMG_9217 We also wandered into Norman & Jules toy shop, which was basically the home of all the best and most beautiful toys in the WORLD, and a type of merchandise with which I am kind of obsessed.

It was there that I saw the Jess Brown doll for the first time. How much do you think she costs? Elliott guessed $65.

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-1 This is how much she costs.

IMG_9230 We were hemming and hawing about trying to see a Broadway show that night, so we got back on the subway and tried to get discounted tickets at the TKTS booth in Brooklyn. But they closed one minute before we arrived! Oh well. We opted to enjoy a leisurely dinner under the Brooklyn Bridge instead.

IMG_9239 FYI, Luke’s Lobster right under the bridge is amazing.

IMG_9244 So is sunset from Brooklyn Bridge Park. I had heard about it all my life and finally got to experience it myself!

IMG_9249 We finished up dinner with a pizza from Juliana’s since Taza says it’s their favorite, and I custom ordered ours with anchovies, hot salami, and capers to be like our favorite pizza in Sicily. Delicioso!

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-4 And then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, which was busy and iconic and absolutely wonderful. Especially with this guy: IMG_9335 After we walked off the bridge, we took the subway back to our hotel and collapsed with aching feet. Buuuut it was 8pm in Manhattan on a Saturday night and… YOLO, right?

So we looked up bars within walking distance and found this new one that tons of Yelpers loved, and we decided to give it a try:

IMG_9272 Elliott snagged us two precious seats at the bar, and I wiggled out of the masses of loud, fast-talking, perfectly coiffed Manhattan yuppies (or were they yuccies?) to gratefully sit down and take in the show. The whole place felt beautiful, dark, and gleaming, with waiters in leather aprons wielding brass bar tools, hands a blur over the glittering bottles and sparkling ice. Whatever they were making was mostly a mystery to us (and cost $16 per drink!), but we acted as nonchalant as possible as we ordered and then just had fun.

All I can say is that the whole experience was so worth getting out of bed for. becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-5 The next day, Elliott and I drove to Providence, RI, for the wedding of a friend of his from Boston. The wedding included a traditional Jewish ceremony, which was a first for Elliott and me. I think our favorite part was when Elliott helped to hold up the bride’s chair for the dancing, which is another thing I’ve only seen in movies (unfortunately!).

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-2 We didn’t know anyone but the groom, though, and so we mostly just had fun dancing and eating and exploring the gorgeous property on the water. Not a bad way to end a romantic East Coast getaway, right?

IMG_9299 I flew home the next day to two very happy little kiddos and their wonderful aunt, who had taken very good care of them in my absence. I think they barely missed me! A sign of secure kids and a very good babysitter.

Thank you again, dear husband! Feel free to surprise me again anytime. :)

Our little taste of New England got me so excited for another family reunion in Newport, RI, later this summer. Have you spent time in New England? Which is your favorite little coastal town?

22 :: in husband, marriage, travel

Weekend Getaway to NYC! — Part I

IMG_9152 A few weeks ago, Elliott found out he could go to a two-week training course for veterinarians on Long Island, which is something he’s wanted to do for a very long time. I told him I was coming with him, both kids in tow, and was going to spend every day that I could trucking into the city with my little ones and exploring to our hearts’ content.

He didn’t think that was such a great idea. Crushed!

… because he had a better plan — a much better plan. He bought a plane ticket for his sister Jess to come out and babysit our kids… and then he bought me a plane ticket to come visit him in NYC for the weekend — just the two of us!

IMG_9154 I had the best time on that 4.5-hour flight sitting all by myself and researching what to do in NYC. We’d already decided to stay in Chelsea (south of Times Square and the Upper West Side and Central Park) because I wanted to focus as much as possible on Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. I had barely seen this part of NYC, and I know it is rich with restaurants, shops, outdoor spaces, and urban development.

I printed off Taza’s NYC Guide and a couple of posts from Cup of Jo, got an excellent guidebook from the library, and mapped out our plan for the weekend!

IMG_9361 I arrived at JFK on a Friday afternoon, but Elliott wouldn’t be able to meet me at our hotel in Chelsea until around 11pm. I took the train into the city, finished up some work in our hotel room, and then hit the streets. First stop: Doughnut Plant. Not a bad place to be on National Donut Day!

IMG_9168 I spent the whole afternoon walking from Chelsea all the way down to Soho, stopping to eat and shop along the way.

IMG_9163 As it was getting dark, I slipped into McNally Jackson Books, found the novel I left in my hotel room, and settled down to read for a little while. (This is a great book, by the way!)

IMG_9165 A few minutes later my dear friend and college roommate Sarah found me, and we went around the corner to the delicious bistro called Fanelli’s Cafe. Such a wonderful meal with an old friend! She’s been living in NYC since we graduated from UVA, and I was planning to join her there… until Elliott came along. ;) I still hope we can join her there to live one day instead of just an overnight visit!

After dinner, Elliott arrived in the city, and I was so glad to see that guy. Adventuring alone was fine, but it’s so much more cozy to share it with your best friend.

IMG_9368 The next morning we got up early, eager to make the most of our day in the city. We discovered our hotel is in “the flower district,” which is really just one block of wholesale flower shops. I watched in wonder as dads, daughters, and dogs joined florists and wedding planners in buying flowers that cool Saturday morning.

 

 

IMG_9172 Afterwards we searched unsuccessfully for coffee (New Yorkers do not wake up until after 10am on Saturday mornings, apparently) and then walked up to the High Line. I’d never seen it before and loved that fresh, quiet walk above the cars and crowds. At 9am on a Saturday, everything was so peaceful.

becca-garber-new-york-city-nyc-2 Tipsy Parson for brunch! So delicious. We were given a tiny little marble-top table by a big window, and our heavenly breakfast tasted even better when flooded with light from the little garden outside. Lots of fun people-watching, too.

IMG_9181 Chelsea Market… so dark and beautiful even at noon on a Saturday.

IMG_9182 We popped off the High Line in Greenwich Village and made our way to Bleecker Street, where we discovered this gorgeous old market…

IMG_9376 … and Magnolia Bakery…

IMG_9375 … and this friendly bookstore

IMG_9195 … and Murray’s Cheese!…

IMG_9204 IMG_9205 … and finally Purl Soho, mecca of meccas for the yarn and fabric enthusiast, and a necessary pilgrimage for me on every trip to New York City.

IMG_9352 becca-garber-new-york-city-nyc-1 IMG_9209 Doesn’t all that color make your heart so happy?

I have so many more pictures, so I’ll save the rest for (hopefully) tomorrow. Have you been to any of these wonderful places? What’s your favorite little corner of NYC?

11 :: in husband, marriage, pretty places, travel

Here’s to Romantic Getaways to Wine Country and Mountains!

Image-1-2

Falkner Winery

Pretty much every time Elliott and I try to leave the house, plans change at the last minute and we forget some critical piece of attire and nothing is quite as we expected… and usually we end up having a pretty good time anyway. I’m guessing most of you can relate on some level, being human and all. ;)

This past weekend is the perfect example. Elliott had been invited to speak to veterinary students at UC-Davis, and his parents were in town, and so we were planning a getaway to Davis (cool college town) and Napa (wine!) for just the two of us.

But then UC-Davis postponed the event, and we were left with a four-day weekend and nothing to do.

In true Garber style, we made no new plans until the day of, and then decided… let’s stay closer to San Diego but go away anyway!

So Elliott booked us a room for the night, we put our kids down for naps, packed our bags, hugged Elliott’s parents, and set off for wine country.

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-3

Ponte Vineyard (left) and South Coast (right)

An hour later, we drove into one of Southern California’s wine regions, located just outside Temecula, CA. The vineyards were clustered together, some within walking distance of each other, so we got to visit seven (!) while we were there. I was writing an article about them for eCoronado, so it made sense to visit as many as we could, even if we didn’t drink wine at all of them.

IMG_7579

The tasting room at Ponte Vineyard.

For the record, our favorite was Ponte Vineyard, pictured above. The facility includes an outdoor restaurant, beautiful tasting room, and a inn (rated by TripAdvisor as the 13th best hotel in America!), and the property is surrounded by picturesque vineyards. King Family Vineyards in Crozet, VA, will forever be my favorite vineyard of all time, but Ponte might be second.

Other favorites included Falkner Winery (for the view and wines), Callaway Winery (for the restaurant and wines), and South Coast Winery Resort & Spa (for the grounds and picnic foods).

IMG_7652

I promise Elliott is wearing pants!

Later that afternoon we checked into our “hotel” for the night, an AirBnB rental. We were renting an RV! I haven’t stayed in an RV since I was about eight years old, so this was totally fun. The RV is parked beside the owner’s ranch house, future fruit orchard, and large petting zoo with an alpaca, dwarf goat, three miniature horses, and about 100 chickens. The owner also runs her own chocolate business, and I might have been very excited about the chocolates she left in our fridge. We were very happy.

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-4 The next afternoon we decided to extend our stay (thank you, grandparents!) and head up to the sleepy mountain town of Idyllwild. Don’t you just love that name? Idyllwild… stay awhile…

IMG_7653 Once again, our accommodations were simple, rustic, and suited us perfectly. Also this is one of my favorite things in the world: watching my husband build us a fire!

IMG_7577 In the morning we discovered the most amazing cafe: Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, enhanced by the young proprietor sporting flannel and a big beard, and his wife making all their baked goods from scratch in the back. We bought breakfast, lunch, and afternoon coffees there!

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-2 Elliott was eager to go on a hike before heading home, but we had packed for wine-tasting, not serious hiking. (Can you say “last-minute planners”?!) In the end, we opted for the easiest local trail (Deer Springs) and hiked a total of 6.5 miles in the quiet, piney forest.

Elliott took this photo at the mid-point of our hike after we ate our Idyllwild Bake Shop sandwiches. This kind of tired is the best kind of tired!

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-1 The two days away were so refreshing to both of us. We spent a lot of time in quiet togetherness, not necessarily talking or not talking, but just abiding. Savoring peaceful unity in our time alone together.

And a big thank you again to Elliott’s amazing parents! We could never have relaxed or stayed away so long without knowing our kids were in such capable hands. We returned to them much better parents than when we left!

34 :: in hiking, husband, marriage, pretty places, travel

Confessions of a Third Culture Kid + A Book Giveaway

Update on 11.4.2014: The winner of the book giveaway, according to Random.org, is #10: Karen. Congratulations, Karen! I’ll email you to get your address. Thank you for all your wonderful, insightful, and beautiful comments, everyone!

——–

becca-garber-guest-post-egypt

On the L: With my siblings and dad at the pyramids circa 1996. I’m the one with the unfortunate bangs on the far left.
On the R: Back at the pyramids with Elliott and Lena (!) in 2010.

A recent Monday morning. Six women sat around a table, plates filled with food, ready to talk.

“Let’s get to know each other a little better by sharing about the cities we’ve lived in,” my new core group leader suggested, shifting the baby in her arms as she surveyed our small group. “Might but a fun way to tell our life stories. I’ll start…”

In my seat next to her, I tensed inwardly. I felt my otherness, my weirdness, slipping back over me. I had dressed like the others, talked like the others; I fit in, they thought. I looked the part. I looked like a nice, average American girl, just like everyone else in the group.

But that’s just part of my story. It’s only the last eight years of my life story, actually. The eight years that involve living in America, going to an American school, marrying a semi-American boy, and having two cute and semi-American children.

The 19 years before the last eight were what had me sweating.

I didn’t grow up in the States. I was born in Egypt and lived in Australia, Singapore, Pakistan, Singapore again, India, and Brazil all before I started college. It was a different life, a life studded with foods and holidays and cultures and languages that I can taste on my tongue, see in my memory, and long for without warning.

As I waited for my turn to share my life story last week, I remembered a book I was reading at home called Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging. The author, blogger Marilyn Gardner, is a friend of mine, and recently I had agreed to read and review her book. However, I had no idea how relevant the book would be to me. Marilyn also grew up overseas; she spent her childhood in Pakistan and her adulthood between Egypt, Pakistan, and the States. (Sound like someone you know?!)

becca-garber-auc-graduation-egypt

With my dad when he graduated from the American University of Cairo in 1987.

In her book, Marilyn writes with poignant understanding about third culture kids: children who spent most of their childhoods outside their passport country. Her observations and anecdotes flooded me with memories, sometimes bringing me to tears, sometimes leaving me running to Elliott, saying, “Listen to this! I have felt this way and it’s so true!”

Here’s one of my favorite quotes (which perfectly captured how I felt that Monday as I prepared — again — to share my “third culture kid” childhood):

As a child raised between worlds… I was neither of one world nor the other; I occupied a culture between…. In this other world called the United States, the blue passport bearing my picture and various stamps told me, told the world, that I belonged. That I was a citizen. But I never felt like I belonged in this other world. At any given time I was less or more comfortable, but I always felt like a bit of a fake. I didn’t know how to buy clothes. I didn’t know how to dress for winter. I didn’t know the idioms, the slang that was so important at that age. I had no clue about pop culture. I was trying to fake it, trying to fit, but at heart an imposter.

I got it. I knew how the author felt. Especially in college, fresh from a childhood overseas, I struggled daily just to fit in. I worked so hard. What did the other students wear? What did they do in their free time? Where did they live? What did I need to do to fit in? I transformed my wardrobe, made friends, joined organizations, moved out of my far-away dorm into the center of student life. Packed my life full just to fit in, to lose my otherness, to stop feeling so awkward, so left out. So lonely.

I just wanted to belong.

becca-garber-first-smile-egypt

My first smile on a bus in Cairo. I have a  feeling I will look exactly like this when I am 92 years old, plus wrinkles and including chub.

I’ve spent the last few years synthesizing my childhood and my future, trying to blend them into a cohesive whole. Elliott — my multifaceted, amazing husband and best friend — has enabled me to do this. To embrace our American-ness and combine it with a life overseas.

Marilyn’s book, though, brought back wave upon wave of memories. I remembered afresh the delight of living in another culture, of assimilating new and old, of learning to navigate a foreign land with ease and awareness. I remembered how my heart sings as I stride through international terminals, as I hand over my passport, as I find my seat on a plane, as I feel the dip and the lift as the plane climbs into the air. I remembered the deep pain of leaving a country behind forever, of re-entering the States, of reverse culture shock, and of feeling achingly far from home. Marilyn’s words, memories, and stories brought it all back.

Some passages in her book felt like I could have written them myself:

The day my passport expired and I realized there was no upcoming reason to renew it, I felt as if I had been robbed of my identity.

My passport was my grown-up teddy bear. [When it expired], I made up my mind that no matter what, I would not let my passport expire again. While I knew that my identity was far more than a document that had expired, the symbol represented too much of my life — people I loved, places I had been and pivotal events that shaped who I had become — to let go.

I am an invisible immigrant….. I can adapt a chocolate chip cookie recipe to taste good without brown sugar or chocolate chips. I can decode idioms in Arabic or Urdu. I am completely comfortable in crowded bazaars or navigating any major airport in the world. I can make an orange-cranberry salad without the cranberries…. And I understand the importance of identifying friends with commissary privileges and make sure they are invited to dinner so that next time I see them there will be cranberries for my orange-cranberry salad.

(All throughout my childhood I loved being friends with kids who had commissary privileges and could buy cranberry sauce and Blue Bunny ice cream and chocolate chips. And then in Italy I became the friend with commissary privileges… and it was glorious.)

Third culture kid envy… It is what I feel when my feet are trapped on the ground for too long while I watch others travel. It is what I feel when I hear others, sometimes worthy and sometimes not, talk about Pakistan or Egypt, my beloved places. It is what I taste when I hear that someone is going on a long trip, leaving from the international terminal just minutes from my house. It reaches crisis stage when I find out someone is moving overseas. And I so long and need to overcome this syndrome, but there are times when I think that it is impossible.

(Yes, it’s true. I’m not proud, but such envy has consumed me, especially since we moved back to the States this summer.)

What happens when the third culture kid becomes an adult and settles in their passport country? For a time everything seems backwards and contrary. Few of us had the dreams of owning our own homes, or becoming “successful” as defined by middle-class America. Our parents had lived counter-culture and had passed that on to us. Nothing really prepared us for a life in suburbs or small towns of the Western hemisphere.

Perhaps our unspoken fear is that if we learn to sing songs of joy in this new place, this new land, then we will forget the old, we will lose our identity, all that we know, all that is familiar. As one person put it: “I wanted to preserve my identity, to hold dear the soil in which my roots are settled, to Never Forget Who I Am. After all — my identity has come at such a high cost.

This past Monday, when my turn came to share my life story, I chose to start it in a new way. I chose not to blush, smooth over my strangeness, downplay the different childhood that I’d had. I chose to own it, to share it, to explain it and hold it out and offer it without reservation.

Take me or leave me, here I am.

“I’m a third culture kid,” I said. “I spent most of my life overseas until I started college, and I got back overseas as soon as I could after that. Living overseas is a huge part of my identity, and I want to live as much of my life outside of the U.S. as I can. My story starts in Egypt when my dad was in graduate school…”

May it not be too long (oh please, Lord, don’t let it be too long) before I’m standing in the international terminal of another airport, passport in hand, ready to fly away into the Great, Beautiful World once again.

——–

image via

Would you like to win a copy of Marilyn’s beautiful book? For the third culture kids who read this blog (I know there are many of you!) or for the parents out there who long to raise kids overseas, this book is for you! Marilyn has an autographed copy just waiting to send to you.

Entering to win is easy. Just leave a comment in this post and tell me why you’d like to read this book!

Giveaway closes next Monday, November 3. Happy reading!

P.S. If you haven’t seen this crazy-but-true list yet, it’s guaranteed to put a few smiles and eye rolls on your third culture kid-lovin’ face.

70 :: in Army, book reviews, giveaway, home sweet home, memories, thoughts, travel

Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure

becca-garber-update-from-states-5
Hi again! When you read this, we’ll be on a plane to Virginia with our kids. I’m looking forward to some time at “home” in Virginia as well as a trip to Charlottesville to see some friends from our college days. Friends, if you’re in C’ville, let me know! We’d love to see you!

And now, for those who are interested, here are a few more updates since we moved from Sicily to the States. After Rhode Island, we flew down to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to spent a few days with Elliott’s family. His mom found a wonderful house on the water that fit all of us, and we had a great time doing basically nothing. Which suited us all perfectly.

IMG_0016_2

That gigantic intertube made the best place for floating and reading during the kids’ nap time!

becca-garber-update-from-states-6
On the left: one morning Elliott’s brother Jonathan set up a “coffee cupping,” or coffee tasting. We did our best to tell the difference between the four kinds of coffee, but I was pretty hopeless. I’ve never been very good at picking out the distinct flavors and aromas of wine either, so I guess that was par for the course!

becca-garber-update-from-states-7
After the Eastern Shore, we flew (again! so much flying with little kids! ack!) to Vail, Colorado, to spent about six days with my family. We all attended the annual conference for the organization my dad works for, and that was so much fun because a lot of the attendees and speakers were some of our dear family friends. In between and after the conference, we explored Vail, which is simply gorgeous in the summertime.

becca-garber-update-from-states-8
The faux Swiss chalet look is the architectural theme in Vail, and it can be a little disconcerting. But then the F L O W E R S make up for everything!

becca-garber-update-from-states-9
On the right, my first Starbucks since we got back to the States! Java chip frappuccino… and a brotherly photo bomber.

becca-garber-update-from-states-10
Colorado’s columbines on the left, and a crazy daddy doing tricks in trees on the right.

photo 4

Yesterday we all went on a bike ride as a family, with Gil and Lena in a little trailer attached to Elliott’s bike. We had so much fun on the way, stopped to admire gorgeous houses and playgrounds, and finished with gigantic ice creams in downtown Vail. The lovely lady next to Eric is his girlfriend, Charlotte.

photo 5
A friendly stranger took this photo for us right before it started raining and hailing! We found shelter until the stormed seemed to pass, and then we all headed home as fast as we could go. We had six miles to go, though, and it started raining, thundering, and lightning as we were speeding home. We all were drenched and freezing — but totally exhilarated, of course — when we finally stumbled through the door and into hot showers!

Then, since we clearly couldn’t get enough of dangerous biking, my siblings, Charlotte, Elliott, and I rented mountain bikes today:

photo(98)

It was awesome! We took the ski lift up to the top of the mountain (2,000 feet up) and then rode the bikes down narrow trails through the woods and across ski runs. I’ve never mountain biked before, but this was an amazing introduction. I felt like an athlete, which is a nice feeling, and something I should probably work on more regularly… #runningstartsinCA #hereshopinganyway

And that’s it, folks! Thanks for hanging with me this far. What have you all been up to this summer? Is the summertime winding down or just getting started?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
8 :: in travel

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes