Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Surf Goddess Retreat - Part 2

On Monday our day started like every other; yoga, breakfast and surfing. After a morning of hard work we were off to the ultimate field trip. An afternoon of spa treatments at Prana Spa, a tremendously gorgeous place which has an Indian sort of theme. It was impossible not to feel like an exotic princess at this place! It almost felt like being in another country.

We started off in the hot and cold plunge pools in the middle of a gorgeous courtyard. The plunge pools are two small pools that consist of really hot water in one pool and really cold water in the other pool. As one could imagine, there was a whole lot of shrieking and giggling going on. After the pools, we were off to these lush and gorgeous massage rooms, where we were massaged and scrubbed. One of the loveliest things about Balinese massage is that the spas place a bowl of water filled with flowers under the massage table - this way you have something to look at besides the floor or your massage therapists feet. Really a nice touch. In our haze of spa bliss, we managed to get back to the villa for a nice quiet evening.

The following day after the usual fabulous schedule of yoga and surfing, we went off in the great (now) tradition of searching out more spa treatments. Karen introduced us to what is known as the cream bath. (Collective aaahhhh!) So us six girls changed into these toga like dresses and proceeded to the hair washing stations, and yes, got our hair washed. After the hair washing we went on to have our hair and scalps massaged with hair conditioner for the next 45 minutes. I don't know why we don't have this in the USA, it works wonders for humidity crazy hair!

As everyone can gather, going to the spa is a big part of the trip, it's cheap and with the rigors of learning to surf and yogaing, it becomes quite the indispensable luxury.

Us girls did not do much in the way of going out at night as yoga or surfing with a hangover are not a whole lot of fun. However we did go out for sunset cocktails on Wednesday night at the ultra fabulous Ku De Ta. Ku De Ta is a swanky hip bar and restaurant on the beach (could be mistaken for Los Angeles or Miami in fact). So we had a couple of drinks and watched an amazing sunset. An incredible way to end another amazing day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Surf Goddess Retreat - Part 1

A funny thing about Bali. I once, many many years ago developed a fascination for Balinese art and decided I wanted to visit Indonesia. Time went on, years flew past and Bali went out of my head. So one day this summer in New York, I was busy researching my traveling to Asia. I was looking for some sort of yoga retreat and I come across this link for Surf Goddess Retreat in Bali. The retreat consisted of daily yoga and surfing instruction for small groups of women. It sounded luxurious, invigorating and restorative. What a great way to start off traveling in Asia, I thought. So I booked it.

Sunday I checked out of Le Meridien and made my way to Seminyak for the retreat. My God, it was more than I could ever have dreamed. I struggle to put into words what I experienced in the last week and you better believe it is going to take more than one post.

First off I arrived at this gated door and when it opened I saw nothing but an aquamarine pool and a lovely lush garden. From the pool, pipes up a voice and says "Hi! I'm Kim!!". Funny enough, Kim lives in New York too and ended up being my roommate for the week.
Aside from trying to cut off my leg with a miniature saw in the middle of the night, she is a totally fantastic person with a gift for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Kim also has sunglasses bigger than Bono's. See photo

Moving right along and jokes aside, Kim and I met Chelsea, who did the phenomenal job of organizing the this week for us, and chattered away until the other girls arrived. We met Karen, Sheila, Stephanie and Anne - all wonderful women who we would share the next week with. We also met Melinda, who works with Chelsea, and would become our surfing big sister over the next week.

We shared the first of many wonderful home cooked meals together and after dinner, Karen says she is going for a massage and anyone is welcome to come along. Now I'm not one to skip out on a spa treatment, so off we went. A word about Karen, she is a fantastic, vibrant Australian woman whose goal in life is to attempt to overdose on spa treatments! I had secretly decided I wanted to try to get a treatment a day or at least several times a week, I mean at under $20 per massage in Bali, why not? And now I met Karen, my spa guru - could things work out any better??

The next morning we were up for yoga class by the pool with the lovely Susan, who is full of humor and gracious humanity, qualities sometimes lacking in yoga teachers ( I have to be honest and say that my current teachers are just that, so it was nice to feel at home).

After a great yoga class and a fabulous breakfast we were off to Rip Curl Surf School in Blue Ocean Beach, where we began the first of many lessons filled with great instruction and tons of fun. Somehow I personally find it easy to burst out laughing if I catch a wave or I get dumped and fall off, which still happens quite a bit. Suppose its got to do with being with tremendous people and being i a beautiful place.

As the days went on we pushed our sore muscles through yoga classes and surfing lessons and invariably ended our days with either a massage or reflexology. Not a bad life huh?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Paradise - Le Meridien Bali

I have found paradise and it's in Bali.

I woke up on Thursday morning, after countless hours of flying and general traveling, to the sound of birds and frogs and geckos and the smells of frangipani and incense floating through the air. Le Meridien is where I started my journey in Bali. Le Meridien is quite the posh golf resort, which I was able to organize for free due to lots and lots of hotel points from years of travel for work. Quite the bonus.

Anyway, I began a busy schedule of lounging on my balcony, lounging at the pool, lounging over breakfast, well you get the over all picture. The view from my room was quite spectacular and I woke up every morning hearing the waves crashing on the shore. For my surfer friends, the swells looked quite perfect but there was a lot of rock and any attempts at surfing would have resulted in a mangled body instead.

So I decided to discover the spa instead. Over the course of the next four days I was scrubbed with salt and spices, wrapped in seaweed (which was something like being a giant sushi roll), I was bathed in cinnamon, cloves, lemongrass and ginger and was massaged within an inch of my life. Talk about taking the edge off of any travel stress! My brain pretty much dissolved into something akin to oatmeal.

One of the best things I discovered was the "bale". Which is a traditional Balinese structure in which anything from sleeping to cooking is done. Most traditional Balinese homes essentially consist of a compound with various bales. At Le Meridien, the bale is for lounging or getting a massage. Heaven on earth, truly.

I watched some traditional musicians and dancers and at one point took part in one of the Balinese dances, not as easy as it looks and no I don't have any pictures and I hope none of the other hotel guests do either.
After spending lots of time doing nothing at all, Sunday I was off to my surfing and yoga retreat. I will tell you all about it in the next post as I have to hurry back to the villa from the internet cafe for reflexology and massage. Ha ha ha what a life!
Note - thanks very much to everyone who has been reading and sending comments and heartfelt emails. Hope you all enjoy reading about my journey as much as I enjoy telling you all about it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Getting to Bali

Monday morning on about 2 hours sleep, I departed Miami at 7 am for Atlanta. I then flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles, where I had a 5 hour layover and lunch with some friends. At 5pm LA time, I got on board my EVA Airways flight to Taipei. EVA has this "upgraded" economy class where you get a business class seat and economy service for about $200 more than you pay for a coach trip, let me tell you for a 14 hour flight it was well worth it. Sitting in coach for more than 8 hours is really no fun at all.

So after all that flying, watching movies, sleeping and reading (this is the benefit of serious long haul flights - you have time to do tons of things, I found it very handy on business trips and I was not subjected to deciding "do I sleep or do I work?") I finally arrived in Taipei. I had a 10 hour layover so I booked into the transit hotel. Call me chicken but I'm not about to camp out in an airport I have never been when traveling alone. Anyway, so Taipei airport is like a serious luxury shopping mall. You have Prada stores, Hermes stores, more duty free perfume stores than you can count, liquor stores where you get a lounge chair and a free taste, relaxation rooms with massage chair loungers, free internet and I could go on and on and on. Incidentally, you can also get on an airplane and fly all over the world.

A very surreal place, especially at 10pm where the stores are still open but there are virtually no passengers around. Except for me, of course, looking like a corny American with a backpack, jeans, sneakers, hoodie and my ipod. (God I feel so weird looking like that. I have been traveling since I was in the womb due to having parents in the airline industry, so I have always been used to traveling looking somewhat put together. Very strange.)

I finally went back to my hotel and got some sleep as the next morning I had another 4.5 hours to fly to Bali.

The next morning, I got up, got my Starbucks (no tacky American comments, please!) and headed to my gate. Once again, I had the super economy class. For my friends in the airline industry, the seats were in the nose of a B747 (which is the best airplane ever made as far as I am concerned), and the service was on par, if not better to the premium classes on a number of other international carriers I have flown. EVA was really a pleasure to fly. We flew over the Philippines and Borneo and finally made it to Bali.

To get through immigration was 1.5 hours, no joke. Somewhat like arriving in Johannesburg in the morning when ALL the other flights arrive, the place was jammed and the lines were not moving. My hotel was supposed to send a taxi or something but apparently we had a communication breakdown and I ended up bargaining with a pseudo taxi driver to get me to my hotel.

My driver complained endlessly about the traffic, which according to him was bad because everyone was coming over from Java for the Ramadan holiday, and they just CAN'T drive. Interesting, wherever in the world you go I think locals complain about others coming to their cities and messing up the traffic. It was quite a drive, there are hundreds of mopeds or scooters on the road. You see whole families on them and the little kids are quite amazing. Very cute in their tiny helmets and sitting between their parents legs. I can't imagine too many American kids behaving this well. We drove past rice paddies and little towns on 2 lane winding roads. I finally got to my hotel after sunset so I did not really get to take in that much. Suffice it to say that what I did see left me suitably impressed.... but more about that in the next post!

Monday, October 15, 2007


It's 1am and after the last 6 days in Miami, I'm as ready to go as I'm going to be for the next 2 months in Asia.

To rewind a bit (since I have been called a slacker for not updating the blog....) Tuesday I had my first attempt at surfing in South Beach with my friend Rob, who is thankfully an infinitely patient man. Yeah, it was pretty bad - Rob was very kind to blame the conditions but it is clear I have years of practice to do. So after hours of being in the sun and paddling my heart out, we met Kiki (one of my best friends and Rob's wife) for dinner - we had a craving for pulled pork, so off we went for bbq (braai for you in SA) again.

Thursday morning I was up and off to the beach again, this time I was supposed to have another surfing lesson but it fell through. So I said to myself, "What the hell, I'm just gonna rent a board and go for it." Thanks to Victor (my quasi brother in law), I was sent to see the guys at South Beach Dive and Surf Center. So I walk in and ask to rent a board, no problem but had I checked the conditions? Toby and Anthony check the conditions and tell me it's really not worth it, pretty cool right? I end up hanging out at this shop for 2 hours, cracking up, hearing crazy stories about half pipes in back yards and bands playing on roofs, getting advice on where to go in Thailand and just having a good time all around. I even "sponsored" the day's surf report. Kiki & Rob were able to record it for me and once I figure out how to post it I will - it's really funny.

Friday I did lots of running around but quite frankly I can't remember what I did except for having dinner with my sister, Carmen, and Victor. We went to an AMAZING Indian restaurant in Coconut Grove, and Carmen did indeed have the best dish of all of us - I think she was quite lucky that we did not fight her for all her butter chicken.

Saturday the frantic shopping "for the trip" and laundry phase commenced. Thankfully I had decided to have a barbecue at my family's home for my closest friends and among them was my friend Kiki, who had agreed to help me pack. This woman helped me pack my car 7 and a half years ago when I moved to Washington DC. Imagine if you will, all my possessions are strewn all over the driveway and I'm crying telling her "I'm never going to fit all this stuff!" Anyone who knows Kiki, knows she has a special gift when it comes to organizing. My stuff got packed and I even had a clear view through the back window of the car! So Kiki and Rob showed up early and we approached my room, which literally looked like a tornado struck. Kiki, being the trouper she is says "Oh man, this is awesome! This is gonna be fun!" And she meant it too (however she did later confess she did have her misgivings about getting everything to fit in 1 rolling duffel bag and a carry on backpack).

Anyway, we finally did have the bbq and have a few well deserved beers.

Today, Sunday the final packing commenced, once again with the expert assistance of Kiki and after several hours of sorting through clothes, toiletries and any possible medication/first aid need we managed to get it done (well, Kiki did - I think I was a little shell shocked and did better with just taking instructions).

I'm off to Atlanta at 7am Monday morning, on to Los Angeles, then to Taipei and I finally get to Bali on Wednesday afternoon. So, in otherwords, don't expect any postings too soon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Savannah, SC to Miami, FL

Monday morning I packed my bags, packed my car and headed towards Tybee Island off the coast of Savannah. Tybee Island is a barrier island which was originally inhabited by the Euchee Native American tribe. The Sea Islands, which Tybee is a part of, were eventually inhabited by the Spanish, by pirates and later the English.

Anyway, the reason for my visit was not to go for any sort of history lesson but rather to go kayaking. When I asked the bartenders at the Shrimp Factory in Savannah what would be nice to do, not too touristy and not too swamped with people, they suggested I go kayaking on Tybee Island.

The nice people at Sea Kayak Georgia organize 3 hour kayaking tours through the salt marshes and it looked like fun. Now, I am by no means any sort of outdoorsy athlete, actually I'm not any sort of athlete at ALL. The only time I have ever been kayaking was this summer with a friend, in a 2 person inflatable kayak, in a lake. Good luck to me! So I made it to Tybee, buckled on my lifevest, learned the basics about paddling and climbed into my single person yellow kayak. And no I don't have any pictures.

Our guides, Steve and Sharon, took our group of 12 through the marshes and over to Little Tybee Island. We saw lots of birds but really best of all were the dolphins that were playing about 10 yards from my kayak, they were so close that I could actually see their little ribs! Unfortunately I left my camera in the car for fear of dropping it in the water.

After 3 hours of paddling in the sun, I went to go check out the lighthouse, have some lunch and go for a swim in the ocean. At this point it was time to get on my way again and head for Miami.

So after a long drive down a dark and scary I95, I made it to my family's home at 1:30am. Door to door, my car and I drove 1,488 miles safely and speeding ticket free! On to the next part of this adventure!

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Today was a day I needed to get some sleep. I finally rolled out of my hotel, spurred by hunger, at about 12:30. I strolled along Bay Street and came to Vic's on the River. A good restaurant in a beautiful historic building. I had a lunch of a great Sauvignon Blanc, a salad, some serious biscuits and a pulled pork sandwich. Seriously, I'm in the South - how could I NOT have pulled pork??? After all those calories it was time to walk a little, however I needed caffeine first. I ended up randomly at the Olympia Cafe on River Street. I asked the guy for a coffee and if I could smoke outside (a vice I am working on). He asked me if I was from NY, to which I responded "How could you tell."

Sidebar - for those who know me, I don't think I sound like a New Yorker, in NY I have been asked if I am Canadian and when on the phone with South Africans, I have been asked if I am South African. A little weird but whatever it's all good.

Anyway, so the Greek proceeds to tell me he never smoked because he played soccer but it never bothered him. What bothers him are all the chemicals in everything and nuclear testing - I have to agree, I think he has a point. Then the Greek tells me "Go. Sit. Relax. Have baklava on the house." Normally I am not a fan of baklava but if you are ever in Savannah you have to try the one here - food of the Gods.

I sat outside drinking my coffee, eating (again) my baklava, smoking my cigarette and watching everyone walk by. It is both Octoberfest and Pirate Week so there were some interesting sights. Eventually I move on and hear this guy playing African drums, turns out he's from NY, plays in Central Park and does a lot of work with kids. Very cool guy and it was a lot of fun to watch him and this 6 year old musical prodigy go to work. You can check out Lenny on his website

So I walk along with full intention to keep walking and I run across this saxophone player. The saxophone makes me think of the guys that play on the corners or in the subway stations in NYC, in a way nothing evokes the beauty of NYC like the sound that resonates from a sax. Hakim is originally from Memphis and is now based in Nashville. A very cool guy and by his own description, an old cat. He asked me what he could play for me. I asked for some blues, something soulful. Hakim delivered, he played a song called "The World is in an Uproar". I was hooked, so I sat in the sun with Hakim for a while, being his sole audience, talking about life and art and listening to him play. It was like everything slowed down when he played, people strolled and smiled and boats just glided past on the river. I got to request one more song before leaving, being in Georgia, I had to go for "Georgia On My Mind".

So I did not do much of the tourist thing here, I did not see any museums, do any trolley rides, see the house from "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" but I had a great day, saw some beautiful things, listened to amazing music and met great people, that's all that really matters anyway, right?

Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA

I arrived at the Phoebe Pember House in Charleston, a B&B I booked for the night, where I was greeted by the lovely Tanya who was an absolute star. After showing me my room, Tanya invited me to join her for a glass of wine. We ended up sitting in a lovely sitting room in the house and chatted about life, my trip, children and all sorts of things. What great welcome to a great place. Tanya told me that Phoebe Pember was a maverick and a woman who really marched to her own drum. I found this B&B by accident and really could not get over the fact that it was so the right place for me. I mean they even had yoga classes on site! I also met the inspiring Carolyn Rivers, who founded the Sophia Institute, which is onsite and a very noble and special place. Check out the Phoebe Pember House and the Sophia Institute at their respective websites, and

After my chat with Tanya I went to Fleet Landing for dinner and had my first ever fried green tomatoes. Quite good actually.

The following morning I was treated to coffee on the veranda and then took a Kundalini yoga class with the wonderful Sheri Cohen at the Sophia Institute. It was a different style of yoga than what I normally practice but a great experience.
I had a lovely breakfast in the garden and set out to see a bit of Charleston. After walking around for a while and taking pictures of some lovely things I decided to make my way to Savannah.

I got on the infamous I17 once again and worked my way down to Savannah. I kept on driving past these little country roads and the curiosity really started to get the better of me, so at SC Highway 15, decided to hang a left and drove about 20 miles to the end of the road to Bennetts Point. I drove through Lowcountry, it was absolutely hauntingly beautiful. I passed two plantations, various trailers, a number of churches and finally I made it to the end of the road. At the end was a fishing shop, a boat ramp, a fishing boat, a dog and not much else. I went into the shop to buy something to drink and had a nice chat with the lady working there, who said to me, as long as I don't act like a yankee I am welcome! Apparently yankees are bossy and always in a rush, that does kind of sound like the average New Yorker to me! It's been an interesting lesson in slowing down so far....

So after this I turned around, drove back to I17 and made the rest of my way to Savannah.

Wrightsville Beach, NC to Charleston, SC

Friday I drove from Wrightsville Beach, NC to Charleston, SC - another 178 miles on my trip.

I signed up for a surf lesson with the people at Surf Camp and met Brendon, my instructor, at 7:45am. Check their website out WB Surf Camp.
The lesson was great, I learned about rip currents and a better way to "pop up". While I love my teachers in Long Beach, NY, my main teacher runs the lessons a little like surf military camp, lots of "paddle like you mean it!!!" gets yelled in the ocean. It's cool anyway and kind of funny. One of the things I really liked about my lesson with Brendon was his easy going nature and encouragement. It was actually really funny, before we got into the water he tells me "I'm gonna yell at you in the water a bit, because otherwise you won't hear me, but I'm not really yelling. Ok?" Very charming, as I am used to trying my instructors patience and getting yelled at quite a bit.

It was a great way to start the day, being outside, in the ocean, catching some waves, learning new things, chilling and talking (also nice when your surf instructor is a nice guy and a hot one to boot!).

So after checking out, I hung out in a cool internet cafe and eventually moved on and got some lunch.

Wrightsville Beach seems like a cool and relaxed beach town where people are friendly and ride around on their bikes and seem to have a laid back approach to living. However it was time to move on and head to Charleston.

I drove along the Atlantic coast line on I17 South.

I17 was a weird stretch of road. There were lots of pawn shops, fireworks shops, strip clubs and trailer parks along the way. I drove through Myrtle Beach, which was apparently holding a bike week and I don't mean bicycles. I was literally surrounded by a pack of bikers at one point, they were in front of me, next to me and behind me.

I don't think I have ever seen so many Harleys and handlebar mustaches at one time. Here is a picture but it really does not do the situation justice. Personally I do not understand the appeal of Myrtle Beach, maybe it's nice along the ocean but I17 was riddled with neon and weird stores. Not my thing at all.

I kept driving on I17, I drove through beautiful desolate parts of "Lowcountry", which essentially runs from parts of North Carolina to parts of Georgia, where the land is actually below sea level. I passed a number of big plantations and felt that the whole area has a spooky vibe to it.

Finally I made it to the outskirts of Charleston and crossed the Cooper River Bridge. I have a bit of a fascination with bridges, I find them to be both engineering and artistic masterpieces. The Cooper River Bridge is no exception, it is the longest cable stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It is seriously gorgeous and left me truly astounded. You can read more about it here

Friday, October 5, 2007

Brooklyn, NY to Wrightsville Beach, NC

Well I drove 618 miles yesterday. I left home at 7:30 in the morning and some will attest to the fact that I am not a morning person. At all. I do enjoy my sleep quite a bit.

I drove across the Verazzano Bridge, through Staten Island, all the way through New Jersey with the truckers running the Northeast corridor, across the Delaware Memorial Bridge, across Key Bridge (which is my favorite way to circumvent Baltimore - I do not like the harbor tunnel). The sun finally peeked through the clouds in Baltimore. I waved at the National Monuments as I bypassed Washington DC, and drove all the way to Ashland, Virginia.

I decided to stop in Ashland on a whim for lunch. I was not really interested in eating at the rest stops along I95, that's fine for the bathroom and refilling coffee and gas but that's it. Ashland is just north of Richmond, Virginia and it is where Randolph Macon College is located. It is a cute little town, with railroad tracks that run right through it. I had yummy lunch at the Iron Horse, where a very nice waitress told me the the ice cream place across the tracks was really good but keeps weird hours. I decided to take my chances, turns out they were open. (Nicki Ouch - this is for you) I had "deertracks" flavor which was vanilla with chocolate chip and peanut butter cups. It was better than Coldstone.

What was funny to me is that the further South I got, the slower everything got. The driving on I95, the service at the Starbucks.... that is until I reached I40 - which is the SCARIEST highway (with the exception of one around Orlando where my sister and I got lost once) I have ever driven on. By the time I hit I40, which takes you east off I95 toward the Outer Banks, it was dark already.

The speed limit is 70mph, which nobody drives, and there are NO LIGHTS on the 4 lane highway. At this point I had been driving for a long time and was really tired and over caffeinated, not an ideal combination. So nothing but pick up trucks passing me at what felt like 135mph and I probably got flipped off by a number of Southerners - good thing I don't have NY plates or I might have been shot for being a slow driving yankee. Once again, my playlist saved me and on came some music to pump me up and help me drive at least 75mph for the last 50 miles. Fait Accompli by Curve, if you are tired is a good choice, take it from me.

Finally made it to my hotel a block from the beach at 9:30 at night. It was a long day - but a good one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Playlists - Road trip

Ok so I'm writing again.....

Part of preparation for a road trip (NYC to Wrightsville Beach, NC to Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA to Miami, FL) is making a playlist. I am a little crazy about my music and slightly obsessed with my ipod (which is one of the best inventions EVER as far as I am concerned). I have little doubt that my ipod was a key factor in me surviving so many business trips over the last few years. Screaming kids, chatty seat mates, flight delays - thankfully my ipod was able to grant me some reprieve from the insanity that is airports and airplanes.

So if anyone is interested, here is a selection of what will be playing in my car from NY to Miami, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Moving - Supergrass
Jardin d'Eden - MC Solaar
Let Me Blow Ya Mind - Eve
Take It Off - The Donnas
Break You Off - The Roots
Wasting Time - Jack Johnson
Kiss - Prince
Monkey Gone to Heaven - Pixies
Live With Me - The Rolling Stones
Let's Take A Trip Together - Morphine
It's Ok, But Just This Once! - Gym Class Heroes
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Ms. Jackson - OutKast
Badfish - Sublime
Galang - MIA
Free - Donavan Frankenreiter & Jack Johnson
Feel Me Flow - Naughty By Nature
Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Alive - Pearl Jam
Show Me A Little Shame - Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Hard To Handle - The Black Crowes
Town To Town - G. Love And Special Sauce
Mercy Mercy Me - Marvin Gaye
American Girl - Tom Petty

Monday, October 1, 2007

Brunch - Cafe Cortadito

Well I'm going a bit nuts trying to prepare for this trip, so I decided to take a break and write about Sunday. To start it was one of those picture perfect NY days, sunny, blue skies and not too hot and not too cold. My dear friend Silvia and I met for brunch at this great Cuban restaurant on the Lower East Side called Cafe Cortadito. I'm not one to eat Cuban food too often but the name of this place was intriguing, as I have found it nearly impossible to explain what a "cortadito" is when I am trying to order one in NY. For those who don't know, it's espresso with milk, but until you have had it at the window in a Cuban restaurant in Miami, you won't really understand. It's like diluted jet fuel.

Anyway, I walked into this gorgeous little place on an unassuming street and was truly transported. The music was old school cuban and the decor was warm and welcoming. So I had a guanabana juice (don't know what fruit this is in English, suffice it to say it was yummy), a cafe con leche, vaca frita and some of the best plantains I have ever had . Vaca Frita is shredded beef, prepared with lots of garlic and onions and lime (I think - I'm not quite sure how to translate mojo but it is a sauce that meat is sometimes cooked with). It was a great place, see their review in NY Mag. Oh and I did get the cortadito too...

After all this eating some serious walking around was called for. So we strolled for hours through Soho. I made a few last minute purchases, like sneakers, as the ones I have are over 5 years old, much to the disgust of certain friends. Then I was dragged into a boutique to buy a ridiculously expensive and sexy dress that "packs well for traveling" at the insistance of Silvia, as woman can not live in yoga pants alone. As long as I don't have to wear high heels, all will be well.