AK Monthly Recap: April 2016

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Kate Boating in Central Park

Guys, I’m a bit embarrassed at what I’m about to tell you. For the first time in the six years that I’ve been writing this blog, I went a full month without leaving a single city.

I couldn’t believe it until I went back through my photos and realized it was true. I never left New York this month. And not only that, I only existed within the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I mean, there were reasons. I spent half the month hosting out-of-town friends. That dominated my schedule. And there were events — concerts, my sister’s birthday party…it just wasn’t a month for travel.

But that’s okay. I’ve needed this break, and I’ll be hopping on a plane in just a few days. For now, here’s an overview of my very New York month!

Central Park

Destinations Visited

New York, New York

Favorite Destinations

Um…I really like Harlem. And Brooklyn Heights. And the Village. And Bushwick. And the Lower East Side. And Chelsea….

New York Tulips

Highlights

Hosting friends at my apartment. There were three waves: first Dylan for a week, then Cailin for a few days, then a Brood reunion trip: Lisa and Alexa came from Massachusetts, while Beth came up from Brooklyn. I loved opening my house to my friends, showing them my favorite spots in my neighborhood, and especially working on restoring my couch-crashing karma.

Speaking at NY Trav Fest. I spoke on two topics: Snapchat and privilege. Two very different subjects. It was so nice getting to know so many New Yorkers who work in the travel industry or are just avid travelers. And I loved that the festival was in Brooklyn Heights, one of my favorite and most-frequented neighborhoods, so that everyone could get to see how great it is there.

Anne, Kate, Janicke, Erica, Tess, Dylan and Mike on the Subway

Blogger reunions! If there’s a travel event, my travel blogger friends leap out of the woodwork. I love when we get to spend time together.

Trying the crazy milkshakes at Black Tap. I had been wanting to try these forever, and the experience did not disappoint! The full experience is here.

Falling in love with Central Park. Before this month, I hadn’t spent much time in Central Park — just a few visits on chilly, gray days, as I tended to visit New York in the colder months. But this month, I finally got to experience Central Park on a hot sunny day — and then another. And another. And another. Central Park is nothing short of DIVINE when the weather is beautiful! I especially loved renting a boat.

Alexa, Kate, Beth and Lisa at SNL Experience

Going to Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition. My best friends from home, the Brood, and I have been huge SNL fans since high school, so it was fitting that we checked this out! It’s a well done, comprehensive collection of SNL lore, from costumes to set pieces to information on how they put together the show each week.

At $29 I think it’s overpriced, but if you’re a big SNL fan, go for it! (That Weekend Update photo was $20 extra, but you can also pose on the Wayne’s World couch and at Turd Ferguson’s Celebrity Jeopardy podium and a Black Jeopardy podium for free.)

Checking out tons of new restaurants. I eventually want to write more about New York restaurants that I love, but here are some teasers for now: Totto Ramen in Hell’s Kitchen does a ramen that is FILLED with giant chunks of pork belly. Melba’s in Harlem does outstanding soul food, especially the mac and cheese and collard greens. Lido in Harlem does a nice bottomless mimosa brunch.

Hill Country in Flatiron serves up crazy amounts of Texas-style barbecue (go for all you can eat on Mondays and get the moist brisket). Ivan Ramen on the Lower East Side does some of the best ramen I’ve ever had. Forrest Point in Bushwick is as kooky as the rest of the neighborhood and has nice casual eats and cocktails.

Sarah and Kate at Yacht Rock

YACHT ROCK. My sister Sarah and I went to Yacht Rock, an amazing concert where the band dresses in 70s gear and mustaches and captain’s hats and they play covers of 70s soft rock songs by Hall & Oates, Fleetwood Mac, Toto, Journey, the Bee Gees, and more.

I’ve never been a big concert-goer, but this was RIDICULOUSLY FUN. You haven’t lived until you sung “Rosanna” and “Rich Girl” with thousands of people simultaneously. Check out Yacht Rock here — they tour!

One truly strange night out. Last Sunday, I went out for what was supposed to be a cup of coffee and a walk in the park…a few hours later I was in a club that was bumping by 8:00 PM and Ja Rule was there (yes, as in the soundtrack to my high school years Ja Rule) and he was taking selfies with everyone! Now I’m wishing I asked him for one.

Oyster Shard at Live Bait

Challenges

Choking on a giant shard of oyster shell. Far and away the worst moment of the month. I was at Live Bait in Flatiron with Dylan and Tess and we ordered dollar oysters. Well, I got a huge shard — nearly a centimeter long — trapped in my throat. I sat in horror, not knowing whether to attempt to swallow it or bring it back up.

I gagged it up. (That’s it in the photo above with my hand for scale.) Then I realized with horror that these oysters were FULL of shards. As a native New Englander, let me tell you that shard-filled oysters are not normal, safe, or okay by any stretch. I also informed two different bartenders and the two actual oyster shuckers and everyone seemed indifferent to it. “Oh. Okay.” Any decent place would at least offer to take them off your bill or bring you a round of drinks…not that it would have mattered. I am done with that place for good, $3 happy hour beers be damned.

For that reason, if you value your health and/or esophagus, I urge you to avoid the oysters at Live Bait. Head to Brooklyn Heights and get dollar oysters at Chez Moi or Colonie instead. They know what they’re doing and their cocktails are fabulous.

And then there was the night I cried my eyes out while listening to Prince. Not even the night he died — days later, when they revealed his painkiller addiction. I was just so angry. Dammit, Prince. You were supposed to be the one who had his shit together, and now the world has been denied so much incredible music because of it.

Living Room

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Introducing My New Apartment! — Thanks for all the kind comments and helpful design ideas!

Other Posts

When the Photography Gods Don’t Smile Upon You — Sometimes you have no choice but to work with the worst photography conditions, like I did in San Juan.

In Oakland, a Different Narrative — Not only is Oakland so different from San Francisco, it has a vibe unlike any other American city I’ve visited.

Black Tap and the Craziest Milkshakes in New York City — OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

Central Park

News and Announcements

New York magazine named me one of the top 101 people to follow on Snapchat! Normally I tend to ignore lists that big…except this is one crammed with celebrities. Also on this list? Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rihanna. DJ Khaled. All of the Kardashians. And they put me on that list. WHAT IS GOING ON?!

You can follow me on Snapchat at adventurouskate! I’m either out and about doing interesting things…or at home making jokes.

Also, this month I decided to finally book my dream trip. I mentioned on Facebook that New Zealand has always been my ultimate dream trip, and fares were currently cheap for November and December — the ideal time to visit, and I had no plans for then yet. Should I book it?

Well, you guys responded with a resounding yes. But it was this comment from a reader named Sophia that put me over the top:

“While I travelled prior to finding your blog, it was your blog that inspired me to actively prioritize travel and pursue my dream destination(s). Last summer, I finally realized a long-held dream of visiting Ireland. Now, I’m telling you to do the same! Go for this trip 😀.”

THANK YOU, Sophia. You’re right. I always tell people to go to the destination that moves them — why shouldn’t I do it myself?

I booked the ticket — just $790 round-trip from San Francisco on Qantas! (I’ll keep an eye on flight sales or use miles to get myself from NYC to SFO.)

I’ll be traveling in New Zealand this November and December. Booking so far in advance means that I’ll be able to save up and give this trip the attention it deserves. I want to see as much as possible and I want to rent a car for most if not all of the trip.

After last summer’s Barcelona experience, I want to avoid hostel dorms if possible, which will require saving up a lot more money. I’ve also received kind offers from three dear friends to crash with them in Wanaka, Wellington, and Christchurch. If I play my cards right, I can make it all the way from Cape Reinga (the far north) to Stewart Island (the far south).

So, I guess this means I have to finally watch Lord of the Rings, right? (I know, I know, I’m the last person on Earth to see them.)

Bergen Norway

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

Norway always does great on Instagram. This is a shot of the Bryggen, the old wooden wharf, in the city of Bergen. Bergen is one of the rainiest cities in Europe and I still feel so fortunate to have seen blue sky during my visit in 2014.

For more travel shots, follow me on Instagram at adventurouskate!

Black Tap Milkshakes

What I Read This Month

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney — This is one of the hottest novels of the moment, and it was my book club’s pick for the month. It tells the story of four distant New York siblings who are eagerly awaiting their inheritance — only to have the money nearly disappear just before their payout is due.

This book is incredibly readable; I couldn’t put it down. I loved how it told the stories of lots of different characters, and I especially loved reading a story where New York City was a character. I feel like the ending wasn’t resolved as well as it could have been, but that’s forgivable — endings are hard and so few authors get them right.

If you’re looking for a book with a similar premise, taking place in the South and with a far more satisfying ending, I highly recommend A Perfectly Good Family by my favorite author, Lionel Shriver.

What I Watched This Month

Parks and Recreation. I had watched Parks and Rec on and off during its run, but starting in February, I decided to marathon the whole series on Netflix. I finished it this month and honestly, I think Parks and Rec is one of the best TV comedies of all time.

It just grows. Not only does it have a fantastic and perfect cast, I think it’s the best TV comedy at creating a fictional universe. There are so many kooky peripheral characters in Pawnee who keep showing up again and again — it’s basically like The Simpsons or Family Guy, only with real people, which is impressive. (My all-time favorite: Jean-Ralphio. God, I love that man.)

So if you’re looking for something new to binge on Netflix, I can’t recommend Parks and Rec enough!

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 2! One of my favorite comedies of the now (I own a Pinot Noir mug with Titus on it), and it sure didn’t disappoint in its sophomore season.

What I Listened To This Month

Prince. Over and over. He was so protective of his music, so I can’t embed anything on Spotify for you. Go buy his albums. It’s what he would have wanted.

If you’re looking for a great overview, I recommend The Hits/The B-Sides, which gives you more than 50 of his songs, both his biggest hits and lesser-known songs. Some of my all-time faves: “Little Red Corvette,” “Pope,” “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” and “Sexy Motherfucker” (obvious reasons on the latter). Also, fun fact: “When Doves Cry” was the #1 song in America when I was born.

Prince only streams on Tidal (haha, people are still trying to make Tidal happen) but you can buy his early and compilation albums on iTunes. For his later albums, you have to order them in the form of CDs (yes, I’m serious).

But besides Prince, I discovered some new music, including Kendrick Lamar’s new untitled unmastered album. I particularly love “untitled 06” (it features Cee-Lo, who I would listen to if he were singing the phone book) and “untitled 08.”

Savannah

Coming Up in May 2016

I’m going back to Savannah, Georgia! Savannah is one of my favorite cities in America and I could not be more delighted to be returning. It’s a short trip, but packed with a lot of activities. I especially can’t wait to take better photos and explore Savannah’s fabulous food scene.

Will you be in Savannah? Come meet me! I will be sampling cocktails at Jen’s & Friends in the Historic District on Friday, May 5 starting at around 8:30 PM or so. If you’re in town, please drop by — I’d love to meet you!

Any plans for May? Share away!

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54 thoughts on “AK Monthly Recap: April 2016”

  1. We chartered a boat last week one day in the Caribbean for my sister’s wedding party, and one guy — *that* guy — requested Pussy Control from the D.J. and proceeded to dance to it with MY MOTHER. It was awful and incredible at the same time. And a decent tribute, I think.

    1. HAHAHA. That’s even better than at my friend’s wedding, when our mutual friend’s parents, who are evangelical Christians, slow-danced to Turn Down for What. 😀

  2. Have you though about road tripping around New Zealand? I’ve seen several people rent camper vans to see every nook and cranny of the island and it looks amazing! It would combine and reduce sleeping and transportation costs.

  3. It’s awesome you’re going to New Zealand!! Can’t wait to watch your Snapchat stories from there! I started following you last summer when you where travelling Europe. Congratulations on your new life in NYC and although I’m enjoying your snaps from the city, I admit I kind of miss your more adventurous travels :p If you miss Europe too, you can follow me on Snapchat @moandthen. I’m travelling full-time and currently on a three month trip in Balkans which might bring you back good memories (Albania is on the list!).

    Cheers!

    Mo

  4. Gotta love Parks and Rec! That’s definitely one of my faves, too, and of course Jean Ralphio is just the absolute greatest. I also love Craig Middlebrooks once he gets introduced in the later seasons.

    Good for you for taking some well-deserved time in one spot! I find I often need breaks where I can recharge and appreciate the neighborhood in Minneapolis that I’ve chosen. Not to mention NYC has so much exploration to offer right outside your door! You’ve done a great job of bringing us along for that. I’m so glad you’ve found a neighborhood that you really love, too. Makes it easy to want to get a lot out of it!

    Excited to hear about the NZ trip! That’s a huge one on my list as well. Highly anticipating those posts! 🙂

  5. Hi Kate! Which book club are you a part of (is it a private thing or part of a bookstore,etc.?) I’ve been trying the hardest to find one in NYC!

  6. First of all, that Yacht Rock thing sounds amazing!!!! I love the 70s!!!!

    Second, choking on anything is my nightmare, but an oyster shard. EFF NO. Yikes.

    Third, I didn’t see Lord of the Rings until a year or two ago, so don’t feel bad. (My husband is a huge fan) They are gorgeous movies and it will definitely get you pumped for the NZ landscape!

    Fourth, it still feels so weird writing “husband”! EEP!!:D

    Fifth, I would love to come to NY and have coffee or a drink with you. Maybe this summer we’ll be in the area! xx

  7. So happy to read you’re finally heading to New Zealand!

    My boyfriend and I went there for five months this past year and it was incredible! We have been writing about it on our blog ever since! (The blog you inspired us to start!).

    We recommend renting a campervan while you’re there its the best way to save money while travelling around. If you get a self contained one you can pull over on the side of the road almost anywhere and camp! Otherwise there’s cheap or free campgrounds everywhere. Its a truly unique experience!

    Can’t wait to read about it!

  8. Re: LOTR, not even close. I worked for NLC (the company that produced and distributed the films) and lived in NZ for 16 months and never (and still haven’t) seen the films. I also have never bungee’d off anything, so it’s a miracle they let me leave the country! Don’t worry too much about LOTR, it’s really easy to avoid anything to do with them, if you want (though it’s just as easy to fall into any tourist trap re: them as well) I never felt left out for not having seen them.

    Have a good time!

  9. Very curious to read about the financial aspect of visiting Savannah. A couple of years ago – back when I was doing annual US pilgrimages to maintain my greencard – I considered 8 days (in April) split between Savannah and Charlotte, and all remotely cute and central accommodation was RIDICULOUSLY expensive. Like, more so than London! I was a bit incredulous and couldnt figure out why… and went to Ft Lauderdale instead.

  10. Jen’s & Friends is so great! Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is my favorite book and when I finally got to Savannah, it did not disappoint. It became my favorite U.S. city. If you have the opportunity to eat at the Olde Pink House, it was pricey, but so worth it. Also, do remember that you never get “drunk” in Savannah, you only get “overserved.” Enjoy your trip! Can’t wait to see pictures 🙂

  11. Holly Mathews-Medeiros

    so I don’t know if you know but I saw Adventurous Kate advice on booking a cheap flight to Guerneville, CA it is on page 248 of the May 2016 issue of Cosmo. Thought you might like to know it was so cool seeing your name in Cosmo 🙂

    holly

  12. hey Kate – great decision about heading to NZ! I lived there 8 years and worked in the tourism industry that whole time. Super happy to help w/any tips you might need.

    I have a travel blog and have written a few posts (Auckland, Queenstown and Mount Maunganui) I lived in both Auckland and the Mount, and worked for Tourism NZ so I went all over.

    Anyway, here’s my blog FYI 🙂 https://travelsbysteph.wordpress.com

  13. Hey Kate,

    Can’t say how happy I am to hear you have decided to come and see NZ! (or as I like to call it “the bubble” as it is so separate to the rest of the world.) I work for an adventure backpackers travel agency so if you need a hand booking your car/campervan or want to do any of the awesome adrenalin activities that we are known for then give me a shout!

  14. May is a great month for travel. I’m going to be heading back to Toronto for a few days and then on to Nashville for the first time. Thankfully, the Canadian dollar seems to be recovering a little bit. My last week in New York just about did me in once the credit card bill arrived. NYC is worth it.

  15. Kate, if you want good oysters, happy hour and regular price, my recommendation: The Mermaid Inn: they have various locations in the city: UWS, West & East Village and they also have $1/oyster happy hour sans the shards. Happy hour starts at 5pm and feast away!

  16. Hey Kate,

    Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy your own city, right?

    I’ve gotten into the habit of having a month between trips now. I might go a little out of the city (they’re a bit smaller here in England) but not much. It’s actually quite a relaxing process to see my friends, do a few of the usual things and work from my iMac for a while. The itchy feet come back, but it’s nice to be grounded for a little while. I’d like to think that it makes you appreciate being away more too.

    James

  17. Hello! I’ve been a long time lurker (first time commenter) and I have to say this post resonated with me, the same way Sophia’s comment resonated with you. My partner and I are starting the process of selling our home and packing up our life before heading to NZ (from Australia) to explore. We’re aiming to be gone and well and truly travelling by the end of this year, hopefully if we make it in time we might have a chance of meeting you! You’re an honest inspiration and I have a feeling that at that point in our trip we might need it!!

  18. Hi Kate,
    I just want to say that I really admire you and in fact you are one of the reasons why I started my own travel blog. Keep it up

  19. Hi Kate,

    I realize that you probably have so much to do in Savannah, but since you are so close I thought I would suggest something. Very near to Savannah is Hunting Island. It is phenomenal–low-key, wildlife, lighthouse, mostly untouched. If you get the chance, you should go. Maybe in the future you can add this to your list.
    http://www.msbtravels.com/hunting-island-paradise-in-south-carolina/
    I know you’ve been all over the world, but this is one of SC’s little gems. I hope you go there one day if you’ve not already done so before.

  20. It’s probably pretty bad that the thing that jumped out of me most about this post is you haven’t watched Lord of the Rings!! Ahhh- can you please snapchat everything when you are watching them ? 😛 And the only acceptable way to watch them is to binge watch them all in one day. I’m just a tad bit obsessed.

    But actually sometimes it’s great to settle down and not go anywhere. I’ve been doing it to a lesser extent this month in Italy. While I’m not sticking to the same city, I have confined myself to the same country. It’s nice to not have to worry about flights or going longer than a couple of hours from home on the train!

  21. The only thing you should be embarrassed about is that you STILL HAVEN’T VISITED TAIWAN YET. GET YOUR BUTT OVER HERE.

    OK, that passive aggressiveness aside…

    Don’t be embarrassed about not leaving a city! I’ve done the same thing here in Taipei. Sometimes you just need a base to settle in, sprout roots, and explore your surroundings. It looks like Harlem is doing you the world of good. Now you stay there until I can next visit NYC again….2018, perhaps? Oh, take trips in the meantime though. I want to read more!

    1. I NEED TO VISIT YOU. So bad.

      Also — Vivacious from RuPaul’s Drag Race lives either on my street or two streets away. 😛 She performs in one of my locals!

  22. Hi Kate,

    I found your website a few weeks ago while searching for some info about Serbia, I believe. I am headed for the Balkans in a few days and your posts about the region were very helpful. I live in New York too, and I admire your dedication to wait for hours in the Black Tap line!

  23. Hey Kate! I think it’s great that you chose to stay in New York for the month and do some exploring within your new city. Personally, I always love taking the time to discover new things in my own hometown.

    Savannah looks like such a beautiful city! I hope you have a great time there as well.

  24. You might not have gone anywhere this month- but that was still an extremely interesting month! I love the tulip photo. That oyster shard is yet another reason I am going to keep not eating those!

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