Saying Adeus to the Olympics with Caipirinhas

Caipirinhas on the roof, a slight twist on my traditional rosé on the roof ;-)

Caipirinhas on the roof, a slight twist on my traditional rosé on the roof 

While I haven’t really followed the Olympics over the last two weeks, I’ve loved seeing the spotlight back on Rio de Janeiro and it’s brought back some great memories of my trip there two summers ago. My husband and I headed to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and even got to cheer for France at Maracanã Stadium. Well, I cheered more than he did, of course 😉 

Cheering for France at Maracanã StadiumCheering for France at Maracanã Stadium

In addition to Rio de Janeiro, we also traveled to Belo Horizonte where we cheered on England even though it was already eliminated from the tournament, the Minas Gerais where we witnessed what it’s like to be in a really small town when Brazil wins a game and Foz do Iguaçu on the Argentine border where we saw that it was like to be in Brazil when they lose 7-0 to Germany and get booted out of the tournament they’re hosting). One constant throughout our trip: caipirinhas, the country’s most famous cocktail. After a long day of navigating a country that can be difficult at times, with only rudimentary Portuguese and a French guide du routard to guide you, plus a nervous husband who’s not a great traveler, caipirinhas (yes, plural!) were just what I needed to relax. 

Caipirinha with a view (of the Municipal Park) at Hotel Belo Horizonte Othon Palace

Caipirinha with a view (of the Municipal Park) at Hotel Belo Horizonte Othon Palace

 Rio de Janeiro unnamed-3

Rio 2016 sand castle
One of the souvenirs I brought back from Brazil was a bottle of cachaça so I could indulge in some of the country’s flavours back in Washington, DC. Cachaça is distilled from pure cane juice and taste a bit like rhum agricole. It’s not widely available in the United States, and when it is it costs a lot more than it sure and that’s a shame because Caipirinhas are a ridiculously easy cocktail to make, requiring just 3 ingredients (muddled lime, cachaça and sugar.) Here’s what you need to make the classic version of the cocktail at home:

1-2 limes, cut in quarters (plus an additional slice for garnish)

1-2 tablespoons of white sugar

2 ounces of cachaça (approximately 6 CL)

Start by muddling the limes and the sugar at the bottom of a cocktail glass or in a shaker. You basically want the juice to mix with the sugar before adding the cachaça and further mixing or shaking. If using a shaker, pour the content, including the crushed limes into a short glass filled with crushed ice. If you used a glass directly, just add some crushed iced to it before serving. If you want the drink to be a little less potent, you can also add a splash of perrier lime sparkling water before serving. You can also, as is often done in Brazil, add fresh fruits to the mix like crushed pineapple or passion fruits (though those are even harder to find here it seems than cachaça.) And if you’re hosting a large party and don’t want to bother making individual cocktails, Caipirinhas work really well in a pitcher too, just quadruple the recipe. And if you can’t get your hands on some cachaça swap in some vodka instead and make it a caprioska!

Toasting the Olympics with Caipirinhas

Saúde and obrigada for the memories Brasil

Highlights From My Long-Weekend in Montreal

I first fell in love with Montreal when I was seventeen, so much so that I moved across the Atlantic right after high school to attend its prestigious McGill University. Recently, my college flatmates and I met up back in the city where we had lived together for four years for a quick 3-days mini college reunion slash girls getaway. Here are some highlights from my trip down memory lane back to the city I still love so much. 

WHAT BROUGHT ME TO MONTREAL?

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I went to college there and hadn’t visited in a while (like 8 years a while!) So I was definitely overdue for a visit and when one of my university floormate and flatmate who lives in Calgary suggested we meet up, I jumped at the chance to reconnect with both my friend and the city I called home for 4 years.

Met these two ladies my very first week at McGill when we were floor mates at McConnell Hall's 7th floor

Met these two ladies my very first week at McGill when we were floor mates at McConnell Hall’s 7th floor

HOW I GOT THERE

So, I’ll preface this by mentioning that there are direct flights from Dulles to Elliott Trudeau airport on Air Canada, Porter Airline and other American carriers like American and United. But that would be too easy right? Right. I actually flew to Hartford, Connecticut, where I was picked up by my old McGill roommate and bestie Elena, who currently lives near New Haven. We road-tripped up to Canada through Vermont and while it took longer, it was also super fun and delicious as we made stops at Grafton cheese, Harpoon Brewery, Magic Hat Brewery and the Ben & Jerry’s factory along the way. Totally planning a trip to Vermont for the fall now!!

WHERE WE STAYED

I had wanted to re-live my college days a bit by booking an AirbNb in the McGill ghetto (note: not an actually ghetto… but that is how the neighbourhood around the university is known) like this stunning loft or this cozy 3 bedroom house. But we found a good deal at the Hotel Gouverneur Place Dupuis. The hotel was ok, it’s the location that was a real draw, at the crossroads of the Quartier des Spectacles and the Gay Village and a major metro hub. Getting around the city was a breeze, both on foot and public transportation and there was some interesting people watching as the hotel held auditions for the Québécois version of The Voice while we were there. The view didn’t suck either 😉

Auditioning for Quebec's The VoiceView from the Hotel Gouverneur in Montreal
Montreal's Pink Balls

I loved being so close to the pedestrian stretch of Rue Sainte Catherine (and its famous pink balls!) but if you can splurge, stay at the Ritz Carlton (the grande Dame of Sherbrooke) or the Sofitel, both right by the Musée des beaux-arts in a ritzy Anglophone side of the city. Back on the francophone side, and more budget friendly, I also love the Hotel de l’Institut du Quebec, a teaching hotel and restaurant with just 42 rooms on the edge of the Carré SaintLouis between the Quartier Latin and the Plateau. 

Square Saint Louis, famous for its Victorian style residences facing a quiet park

Square Saint Louis in the Plateau, famous for its Victorian style residences facing a quiet park

BEST THING I ATE

From poutine, to smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz’s and bagels at St Viateur, my Montreal eats are obviously worthy of their own post so I’ll just highlight our decadent diner at Au Pied De Cochon. Everything I put in my mouth that night was outstanding, though the bone marrow topped with caviar was probably my favourite. It was light enough that I could enjoy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a few bites of my friend’s Duck in Can without leaving the restaurant feeling overstuffed, yet luxurious and highly satisfying. 

Bone marrow topped with caviar at Au Pied de Cochon

Bone marrow topped with caviar at Au Pied de Cochon

BEST FREE ACTIVITY

Montreal is said to owe its name to Mont-Royal, the “mountain” that sits just above McGill University, downtown and the plateau. Since the weather was beautiful, we metro-ed over to the Oratoire Saint Joseph du Mont-Royal and from there joined one of the many hiking trails to Le Lac des Castors, a man-made lake that turns into an ice skating rink in the winter. The whole Mont Royal Park, which was designed by the same person responsible for New York’s Central Park, is a breath of fresh air in the city and the views from the chalet simply cannot be beat (and we certainly needed the exercise ahead of our diner at Au pied de Cochon that night 😉 

Montreal skyline

I also loved just walking the city, revisiting old college haunts including campus. Located right in downtown Montreal, McGill University is an English-language school that was founded in 1821 on a royal charter from King George IV. Some of the buildings were built in the Victorian era and you’ll even spot a statue of the British queen in front of the School of Music that bears her name. A lot of it was under renovation while we were there, including the The Roddick Memorial Gates (affectionately known as the Erotic gates because college kids are stupid even when they attend one of the best university in the world), the Three Bares fountain and the bookstore… which was kinda devastating because I really wanted to buy a bunch of new McGill stuff.

McGill 1 McGill 2

As I mentioned, the neighbourhood around the University is known as the McGill Ghetto and there’s a lot of great street art around there and down Saint Denis, thanks in part to a mural festival that take place in the city every year. 

I used to live on this street ad frequent Amelio's now Amelia's all the time. Now it's got a fabulous mural courtesy of French collage and stencil artist, Mathieu Bories, alias Mateo.

I used to live on this street ad frequent Amelio’s now Amelia’s all the time. Now it’s got a fabulous mural courtesy of French collage and stencil artist, Mathieu Bories, alias Mateo.

BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY

Did I say you couldn’t beat the views from the top of Mont Royal? I may have to retract… So, since our hotel had an indoor pool, I actually tucked in a swimsuit in my small weekend bag at the last minute. Best decision ever because BOTA BOTA. What happened is an old college friend of mine suggested we meet up for lunch near the old port and then asked if I had brought a bathing suit to Montreal. I had no idea what kind of lunch I was in for that required me to be practically naked, but hey… I put my bathing suit in my purse and headed to the Vieux Port for a little touristy sight-seeing before lunch. Turns out we never actually ate lunch, though there is a restaurant at Bota Bota. Unless you count rosé as liquid lunch. Then we had lots of “food” 😉 

Bota Bota Spa sur L'eauThe View of Montreal from Bota Bota

Bota Bota in Montreal

 So what is this Bota Bota? It’s a floating spa on a former ferry boat that’s now anchored on the Saint Laurent river, offering stunning views of the city skyline AND 40 different kinds of spa treatments. It was amazing in the summer, and I can imagine that it’s a completely different, yet equally fabulous, experience in the winter! Spread other 5 levels, Bota Bota offers wet and dry saunas, outdoor/indoor cold and hot pools, facial treatment, swings, a restaurant (apparently lol)…. It wasn’t cheap, but it was SO worth it!

MY TIPS IF YOU’RE HEADED TO MONTREAL

Winters get really cold in Quebec and Montrealers really make the most out of their (short) summer. From the pink balls that topped Sainte Catherine in the gay village to festivals every other weekends, there’s SO much to do in June-July-August. Which of course were the three months out of the year that I never got to spend in Montreal while I was a student. You’ll want to check out a calendar of events to either avoid certain happenings or schedule your trip during a festival that’s of interest to you. One of my favourite was always the Festival International de Jazz and Just for Laughs, and we did manage to catch the tail end of that and the accompany Bouffons Montreal street food fest on this trip. 

Weekend Highlights: Flower Crowns, Mucha and Football

Happy Monday! Did you have a good weekend? After keeping a low profile last weekend and throughout most of the week (I’ve had the worst cold!) I made up for lost time and had quite a wonderful 3-day weekend. It all started with rosé and flowers on Friday. 

One of the best part about having friends from different parts of the world is learning about their culture and traditions (oh, and the amazing food too!) On Friday, my friend Bianca showed us how the Finns celebrate summer solstice. Midsommar is one of the most important national holiday in Finland (and it’s a big deal in many other Nordic countries too.) While her rooftop does have a fire pit, we didn’t light any kokko (bonfires) to keep evil spirits away but we did drink some snap and make midsommarkrans,  beautiful DIY flower crowns using string, birch and of course, flowers. Check us out being all crafty!

Making flower crowns for midsommar

Celebrating Finnish midsommar

Almost as good as the snapchat filter isn’t it? ps: speaking of, you can follow more of my day-to-day on snapchat (<– click on the link, or username laetitiabrock).

Saturday, I escaped the city with my friends Olga of MangoTomato and Nicole of Hapatite. We headed to Winchester, a quaint little town tucked away in the Northwest part of Virginia, about an hour and a half away from Washington. 

They love all things apple in WinchesterWinchester, Virginia

Winchester, Virginia

What prompted our mini road trip was an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley though we snuck in some shopping in the city’s Loudoun Street Mall and some good eating at One Block West, a fabulous little restaurant, and Red Fox Creamery! And while we had to rush through them a bit because they were prepping up for a wedding, I *loved* the gardens at the museum, almost more than I loved the collection inside!

Alphone Mucha exhibit

The Chinese Garden at the Shenandoah Valley MuseumGardenThe Chinese garden at the Shennandoah Valley Museum

On the way back, we stopped by Wild Hare Cidery for a quick tasting then found our wine (as well as fabulous views!) at Bluemont Vineyard

Bluemont Vineyard

With France playing its 8th of final game bright and early at 9AM on Sunday, I had pretty much written the day off, at least as far as getting anything done beside watching football was concerned. I was a little worried about my choice of venue for the match… Fado’s is one of the best spot to watch football in the city, but we picked it BEFORE knowing that we would be facing Ireland 😉  Things weren’t looking too good when the boys in green scored within the first few minutes but luckily Griezmann was there to save the day and I’m looking forward to cheering on Les Bleus in the quarter finals next weekend (and then hopefully in France for the semis and finals!).

Allez les bleus

Keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll face Iceland, I’ve loved following their Euro Cup Cinderella story… and I’d rather not face England too. Have you been following either the Copa America or the Euro Cup? You’d almost never know there’s a major international soccer tournament that just wrapped up in the US… I feel like it’s barely gotten any coverage 😦 

We’ll be watching the game at Penn Social on Sunday with a bunch of other expats so don’t hesitate to join us! Is it bad that I’m already looking forward to next weekend? Between the July 4th holiday and all the football, it’s going to be another good one!

Postcard from Los Angeles: All the Street Art

You don’t need to head to the Getty or the Broad to see some fabulous art in Los Angeles. Just looking around you, you can’t help but notice a ton of great murals adorning the urban landscape throughout the city. Here are a few cool pieces that I stumbled upon during my recent stay in Los Angeles. 

Spotted: Space Invader in Los Angeles

I grew up in the Marais, so I have razor sharp eyes when it comes to spotting a Space invader piece. This particular one can be seen near the Black Cat in Silver Lake. Also in Silverlake, these colourful staircases. 52 staircases lace the hillsides of Silver Lake, dating back to a time when most residents didn’t have cars. Two of them, #StairTempo and the Micheltorena Stairs, received a boost of bright colours by local artist Corrine Carrey.  

Piano Keyboard staircase in Silverlake

Colorful staircase in Silver Lake

Elliott Smith Mural in Silver Lake

This image appeared on the cover of his Elliott Smith’s 2000 album, “Figure 8,” the last album he would release before his apparent suicide in his Echo Park home. Since then, the “Elliott Smith” wall outside of Solutions electronics on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake . 

It’s hard to miss the Guelaguetza restaurante in K-Town. I mean, check out these bright orange walls and the awesome murals that also adorn it.

Mural on the facade of facade of La Guelaguetza restaurant in KTown

Lapiztola mural on the facade of facade of La Guelaguetza in KtownLa Guelaguetza restaurant in KTown

orange 3

orange 5

The restaurant itself has been around for over 20 years and in March 2013, its owners invited Colectivo LaPiztola, a pair of Oaxacan artists, to paint a mural, which features a young girl and boy in traditional Oaxacan clothes, and depicts a guelaguetza – the girl is offering corn to the boy, who is holding a chicken. Colette Miller later added some of her famous Global Wings Project wings, and I was very sad that I didn’t have anyone to take my picture with them when I was there 😦

There’s quite a few Shepard Fairey murals in Los Angeles, but one of the most striking is Peace Tree, this 10-story mural gracing the facade of the Line Hotel, also in Los Angeles’s Koreatown.

Peace Tree mural at the Line Hotel by Shepard Fairey

The Line Hotel is a vibrant new(ish) hotel on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, in the heart of Koreatown. In addition to the Shepard Fairey mural, it has some pretty cool art inside as well as a hidden D*Face mural called “Look Into My Eyes” on the exterior.  I *loved* spotting that one! 

D*Face Mural at the Line Hotel in Los Angeles

Sticking with pretty famous street artist, I had read about an Einstein mural by Kobra, on the wall outside Mr. Brainwash’s studio. When I got there, I found a Muhammad Ali tribute mural by Mr. Brainwash there instead, which was cool too… 

Mohamed Ali Mural outside of Mr Brainwash's studio

For a sight of a Kobra mural, I headed to 1220 N. Highland Avenue instead, where the Brazilian artist covered an entire side of the LGBT Youth Center and Annex with a 4,300 square-foot mural featuring the eyes of different Nobel Laureates and champions of peace.

Eduardo Kobramural on the Los Angeles LGBT Center

And for the last two pieces of Los Angeles street art that caught my eyes: the Love L.A. Skyline mural, located right across from the entrance of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Loca L.A. Wall

And the largest stretch of the original Berlin Wall in the world outside of Berlin.
Wende’s Wall Project which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall Ten segments from the Berlin Wall are currently displayed at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard as part of the Wende’s Wall Project which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2009. As part of the project, the Wende Museum commissioned four artists to paint on five of these wall segments, including French-born, Berlin-based artist Thierry Noir (I mentioned him already in my post on the 25th anniversary of the reunification party at the German Embassy), L.A.-based muralist and street artists Kent Twitchell,  Farrah Karapetian and Marie Astrid González. 

There you have it! Please note that this is in no way an exclusive list. I was only in Los Angeles for 4 quick days and there’s a LOT of street art pieces I didn’t even get to. I’m also in no way suggesting that you skip the Getty or the Broad. As a matter of fact, I even have some tips for you if you want to visit The Broad, which you totally should! 

So You Wanna Visit the Broad Museum?

Today, I dedicated 3 hours of my life to visiting Los Angeles’ latest contemporary art space, The Broad (note: it’s pronounced brode not brawd… ) Opened in September 2015, the brand new museum has already become one of the city’s most instagrammed venue, thanks to some amazing (and very photogenic) art from the private collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, as well as a stunning building designed by world-renowned architectural firm Diller Scofido + Renfro. When I said I dedicated 3 hours to the museum, I should specify that only one of those was spent inside. The other two I spent lining up outside in the standby line. I learned a few things visiting The Broad, so here are a few tips for you:

BOOK ADVANCE TICKETS IF YOU CAN

Entry into The Broad is free BUT you need advance tickets. The website doesn’t really tell you when those will be available, so your best bet if you’re looking to go on a specific date is to sign up for their newsletter to be notified when spots will be released. Right now, you can also purchase tickets to the special exhibit Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life. They’ll set you back $12 but also include general admission to the museum.  

Cindy Sherman exhibit at The Broad in Los Angeles

If that’s not an option, you can do as I did and wait in the standby line. The museum opens at 11AM on weekdays, and 10AM on weekends. You can follow The Broad Standby Line on twitter to get updates on what the wait time will be like. On a weekday in June, I got in line 2 hours ahead of opening time and was the third person there. Within 20 minutes, the line wrapped around the building, so get there early, especially on Saturdays and Sundays when it’s more crowded. By 11:15AM, just 15 minutes after the museum opened I got to go in. Woohoo! Here’s my tip if you’re going to go the early morning route like I did: grab coffee and food before you get in the line. G & B Coffee at Grand Central Market is just a few steps away (153 steps along the Angel Flights tracks to be exact) and their delightful almond-macadamia milk latte is bound to make waiting a little less painful. 

 

BOOK THE INFINITY MIRROR ROOM IMMEDIATELY UPON GETTING IN

One of the highlights of The Broad, and one of its most instagrammed spot, is Yayoi Kusama‘s “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.” The small, shimmering, mirror-lined, experimental space will dazzle you with its seemingly infinite number of LED lights. It’s quite trippy, so it’s probably a good thing you’re only allowed 45 seconds in there – just the right amount of time to snap that perfect #infinityroom selfie!

Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama at the Broad in Los Angeles

To book your spot for this experience, rush to the left of the escalator in the lobby as soon as you get into the museum and enter your name and cell phone number into an iPad that’s provided for that purpose.

How to get into the Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad

Once that’s done, get back to the lobby, soak up its cavernous look and head up the escalator to the third floor gallery, which houses most of the museum’s collections. You’ll receive a text message in approximately 45 minutes to an hour letting you know when your time in the room is up. Head back downstairs (don’t miss taking a glimpse at the museum’s central vault on the way!) and wait in line (again) until it’s your turn to spend 45 seconds in the infinity mirrored room.

How to get into The Broad's Infinity Mirrored RoomHow to get into The Broad's Infinity Mirrored Room

You can go in on your own, or with a friend/significant other if you prefer but they won’t let more than 2 or 3 people in at the time.

BRING A GOOD CAMERA

Photography is allowed and encouraged at The Broad so bring your good camera and go all out. While not as striking as its Frank Gehry designed neighbour, the museum is still a work of art in its own right. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, best known for the High Line in Manhattan, designed the 120,000-square-foot museum with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in mind and contrasted its smooth silver curves with a solid white block. Its honeycomb facade, known as the veil, softens the structure and makes for stunning pictures if you’re lucky enough to be there on a sunny day (I wasn’t… darn California June fog!)

The Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles

Inside, there are numerous fun photo opps, like the previously mentioned Infinity Mirrored Room but also a couple of pieces by Jeff Koons (always picture-worthy!), El Anatsui’s 2010 Red Block which makes for a cool backdrop to any selfie or Robert Therrien’s “Under the Table.” Here’s a couple of shots I took in the gallery. 

Keith Haring's Red Room at The BroadTulips by Jeff Koons at The BroadDouble America 2 by Glenn Ligon

One last tip about the art: the museum staff, known as visitor services associates, is numerous (seriously, there’s a small army of them here to help you) and SUPER knowledgeable.  WhileThe Broad has a pretty neat app that you can download ahead of your visit, I found chatting with the VSAs a lot more interesting!

 

SPEND AN HOUR IN THE MUSEUM THEN EXPLORE DOWNTOWN

The Broad is a perfect starting point to visiting downtown Los Angeles, especially if you’ve paid good money to park in a garage. It’s right next to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall (tip: check out the peekaboo view from the Lichtenstein room on the third floor) and a quick walk to Grand Park (I love that park and its pink chairs!) or Grand Central Market. If you do The Broad in the morning, that’s the perfect spot to grab lunch afterwards!

Peekaboo windows into the Walt Disney Concert Hall from The Broad

Lichtenstein Room at The Broad

Have you visited The Broad yet? If yes, do you have any additional tips you’d like to share? 

Weekend Highlights: Work, Work, Work (and a Little Disney Fun!)

Greetings from California! I’m actually here for a work conference and working pretty much non-stop throughout the weekend. Since the conference is at the Disneyland Hotel, I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of fun (and Disney magic) though. Like during our staff work dinner Friday… 

After a long day of stuffing conference bags and making sure everything was set up, we all had dinner together at Wine Country Trattoria. The food itself was not highly memorable… I love Disney but fine cuisine isn’t their forte. What was great about the dinner was that the restaurant is located inside California Adventure Park, one of the two themed parks at the Disneyland Resort complex, and we had an opportunity to spend one quick hour inside the park between the end of dinner and closing time. I took full advantage of it, riding California Screaming and the Tower of Terror with some colleagues and reconnecting with an old friend.  

IMG_1990Mickey's Fun Wheel in Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort

Otherwise, it’s pretty much just work, work, work. When I do manage to get out of conference rooms, I can soak up the California sun for a few minutes.

California dreaming

I really wish we had palm trees in DC! 

Outside of the conference, I’ve been spending the bulk of my (free) time at Downtown Disney, an outdoor dining and shopping center similar to Disney Village at Disneyland Paris. It’s open pretty late, so it’s been my go-to spot to escape work for a few minutes and immerse myself in Disney vibes, even for just a few minutes. Best way to do that? Eat all the things Mickey shaped, like this cute chocolate dipped rice krispy treat! 

Mickey Rice Krispy Treats at Downtown Disney

My conference ends on Wednesday and I’m staying in California through next Sunday, so I’ll definitely have more fun things to report in my next weekend update! Until then, have a great week!

Weekend Highlights: Road Tripping in Pennsylvania and a Brewery Wedding

It’s wedding season! How many do you have lined up for the summer? Over the weekend, we headed to Berwick, Pennsylvania, to see our good friend David tie the knot at a local brewery. This being me and Berwick being in the middle of nowhere, I broke the trip up and squeezed in a little (rainy) keystone state sightseeing… 

Pennsylvania State Sign

We left the day before the wedding and spent a night at the Candlelight Inn in Ronks, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. It rained the entire ride up but cleared up just enough by the time we got to Lancaster Central Market for a late lunch. Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continuously operated farmers’ market in the country. It’s smaller than Reading Central Market in Philadelphia but it’s in the heart of Amish country and offers a mix of produce stalls, bakeries and other more recent addition like Saife’s Middle Eastern Food and Narai Exotic Thai Cuisine. Lancaster’s German roots have made it a center for pretzel bakeries (the country’s first commercial bakery was established in Lititz in 1861) so I opted for a traditional, salted hand rolled soft pretzel. Best pretzel I ever had!

Soft hand rolled pretzel in Lancaster, PA

There’s a number of coffee shops inside the market, including Lancaster County Coffee Rosters, but we headed next door for an elf-sized latte at Rabbit and Dragonfly, a cute bookstore and cafe inspired by the works of Lewis and Tolkien

Tolkiens Themed Coffee Shop in Lancaster PA

If it had kept raining, we could have staying for a game or chess or something, but the rain miraculously cleared away so we took advantage of that instead. Since it was a Friday, we stopped by the Green Dragon Farmers Market & Auction in Ephrata. Otherwise, we just drove around on smaller roads, passing through miles of rolling farmland, covered bridges and the occasional Amish horse-drawn buggy. 

Horse drawn buggy in Amish Country

Our last stop before hitting the road to Harrisburg was Dutch Haven. It’s impossible to miss on Route 30 and I had to try a little shoo-fly pie 😉

Dutch Haven on Route 30

In Pennsylvania’s capital, we caught the 11AM guided tour of the state capitol, which is absolutely stunning. Theodore Roosevelt called it the “most handsome building I ever saw” and I can totally see why. Its grand staircase was modeled after that of the Palais Garnier, the Paris opera house, and its dome ceiling was inspired by paintings at the Vatican, so it’s all pretty ornate! We didn’t have much time to linger and explore the rest of the city. The area around the capitol seemed pretty dead on a Saturday anyway and we had a wedding a two hour drive away to get to!

Pennsylvania State Capitol

Pennsylvania State Capitol

Pennsylvania State CapitolThe ceremony and reception were lovely, if casual, at Berwick Brewing Company. I’d been to a winery wedding before but never a brewery one. Have you? It was super fun meeting the bride and groom’s families, reconnecting with old colleagues and making new friends. One of my favourite element of the wedding: the couple eschewed the traditional wedding cake (and many other typical wedding elements you come to expect at an American wedding) for a bunch of pies. I like pies (and also didn’t have a wedding cake at my wedding… ) And I loved trying the different brews too! Check out the groom’s beer-themed wedding details! I loved that too!

Berwick Brewery Wedding Details

On our way back, to break up the return drive a bit, we stopped at Gettysburg National Military Park. It’s actually only a two hours away from Washington, DC via Frederick so I don’t know why we’d never been. We did the self guided auto tour, which took us about an hour and a half. If we had a packed a little differently, I would have loved to hike one of the trails near the battlefields. I guess that gives us a reason to come back right?

Gettysburg National Military Park

Sachs Covered Bridge Near Gettysburg

How was your weekend? Did you have to deal with as much rain as we did? 

Postcard from Chicago: Treats in the Streets

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone by Jim Bachor in Chicago

During my latest trip to Chicago, I stumbled upon this really awesome piece of street art. And by stumbled, I mean I had researched the artist in advance, figured out it was the most accessible piece I could get to given where I was staying and my tight work schedule and ubered there 😉 Artist Jim Bachor has been filling the city’s many potholes with whimsical mosaics since 2013. In a nod to Belgian surrealist painter Magritte, one of his pieces states “this is not a pothole” in black and white tiles. I loved his most recent series, “Treats in the Streets,” because it combined two things I love: street art and food! The treats in this instance are classic frozen treats mosaic, like the soft serve ice cream cone I spotted, that fill potholes in Chicago and Jyväskylä, Finland. One of his previous series focused on flowers and he also has one that features classic fashion prints like Burberry and Louis Vuitton. How fun! 

Jim Bachor fils Chicago potholes with cool mosaics

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone by Jim Bachor at 1451-1453 West Grand Avenue in Chicago

It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and the colours were quite faded so I almost missed it when I walked by. I also almost got run over while trying to photograph it, so my tips if you’re going to try and spot some of Jim’s art is a) check out his website for a handy map of where each of the pieces are located b) look carefully as the pieces are smaller than you might think they would be and most importantly c) be safe… you don’t want to get caught ‘gramming by a car 😉 

ps: wondering how to say pothole in French? I mean, you never know when you might need that word right? Anyhoo, don’t believe google translate that would have you think it’s trou de pot. Technically, that’s a correct (and very literal) translation. Yes pot is a pot (though that’s more something you’d plant flowers in) and yes hole is trou… but the correct word is nid-de-poule or hen’s nest. Because hens love to nest in holes… of course! It’s cute right? 

I’m in a Marseille State of Mind

I’ve had Marseille on my mind lately. Part of it has been following along my friend Tammy’s adventures in house swapping and remote working from Marseille (you can read all about it on her blog Florida Girl in DC.) It’s definitely made me look at my mom’s hometown completely differently! And the other part, of course, is that Marseille seems to be everywhere lately. First, there was the recent release of the movie Marseille in France. And now, there’s the countdown to the much anticipated (at least by me) release of Netflix’s first French-language original series Marseille. The trailer looks SO GOOD!! 

The show’s 8 episodes (52 minutes each) will drop worldwide on May 5 (binge party anyone?) and focus on a political succession story between Gerard Depardieu’s character, the mayor of Marseille and his heir and eventual challenger. It’s been marketed as a tale of power, corruption and redemption and already dubbed a French House of Cards, though the trailer made me think more of the series Boss than anything else. I’m under NO illusions that it will be anything as successful as House of Cards I’m still super excited to watch it, especially because my husband is kinda looking forward to it too, and any time I can get him to watch anything in french, let alone be excited about it is definitely a victory in my books!! Plus, I can’t wait to see how Marseille fares as a backdrop! 

ps: curious about Marseille? Check out my trip recap post right here.