Friday, July 18, 2014

'Amaze' pretty much sums up our trip to the US.  Chicago, The Hamptons, NYC, Cleveland, Laguna Beach ... as you do!

We packed a lot in and have memories to last a lifetime!

We started out in Chicago, celebrating the Festival of Doug - our dear friend was having a special birthday and it would have been rude not to celebrate it!  And celebrate we did!  Three days of activities - including hanging with his wife - my bestie - Mary.  Hot Mamas we were - !

Doug and Mary took their festival on the road while we high-tailed it to the Hamptons and explored the area for a few days.  It was stunning - we were there just before July 4 so we witnessed foffing on a major scale - think meticulous hedge pruning, catering preparation and party planning!

We stayed at the most divine B and B which I wanted to retire to.  The bed was one of those types that you absolutely sink into it and struggle to get out - which is a big call for a hard core insomniac such as myself!  The home-made iced teas and lemonades were out of the world, as was the travel pack they gave us for our drive up to NYC - Hampton's hospitality at its best.

NYC was ok.

{No-one ever said - jokes.}

We heart NYC, big-time - what a city. We walked the streets of Manhattan from dawn to dusk, exploring every nook and cranny we could.  I had a list of gf-friendly eateries to try - and try them we did.  We ate so many delicious dishes.  Monty and my favourite was gf stalwart Risotteria.  OMG - we swooned to gf food heaven and loved it so much that we returned the next day for another lunch!  Their gf breadsticks were beyond heaven!

It's s shame it's a mere 20 hour flight to enjoy the pleasure!  Look at how good this menu is.  

We also loved the Butcher's Daughter.  I remember reading about it on one of my favourite NYC food blogs - The Yellow Table.  Anna lives next door - the lucky duck - and we were wandering by when we were in Nolita, so we popped on in.

OMG - yum!  Everything about TBK was beyond. The food, service, staff and decor - all memorable.  If they could open up around the corner in Woollahra my life would be complete!  I have been stalking them on Instagram, pleading that they take me seriously.  So far, no TBA but I feel it in my bones that they are scouting for a location!

Top of the list for all of us was a visit to The Strand - NYC's largest bookstore. We had high expectations and it delivered on all levels, and then some.  I think we probably ended up visiting 5 or 6 times as we could not get enough of the place.

Needless to say an extra travel bag was purchased and we returned to Sydney laden with literary treasures!

If it weren't for the fact next on our travel list was a visit to gorgeous friends who had moved from Sydney to Cleveland, Ohio two years ago we would still be in NYC!  It was the only thing dragging us to the airport as we had more adventuring we needed to do, including visiting Brooklyn, which we didn't quite manage.

While at the Greens we drove up to visit an Amish village, which was a complete and utter contrast to where we had been for the previous week or so!  You sure don't see horse drawn carriages, quilts for as far as the eye can see and such conservative attire in The Hamptons or NYC.  Chicago?  No.  Not there either!

Sara and I bought bonnets - and I am still threatening Monty I'll waltz into one of his school functions wearing my one - she is a corker and I look extra special in it.  I'm sure he'll dig it out and toss it one day soon!  

Spending time with Sara and talking the day away was a tonic.  We miss one another dreadfully and Skype is a poor cousin to the real deal. We explored the city together, sipped may cups of tea, went to yoga and sipped more tea!  

It makes such a difference to see where they now live and to have a visual snapshot of their new city.  You need a visual context to truly understand friends' lives when they move away.

Leaving them was hard, so thanks be to B that he added in one last travel diversion in the name of Laguna Beach in Orange County for a few days r and r before the long flight home.

The contrast between the urban vibe of NYC (where nearly everyone's accessory seemed to be a small cute dog) to Laguna Beach (where no-one hurries, everyone was in beach attire and the accessory of the moment was a yoga mat) did not escape us!

We lazed by the hotel pool, swam, read from the massive pile of Strand books, and I went to yoga. Perfect!

Looking back, we packed a huge amount in during our time away and had such a great time together as the tight three - everytime I look back over the photos I smile at the memories.  It had been a few tough years leading up to going away - too many funerals and not a lot to laugh about.  We all desperately needed to get away, re-charge and find new inspiration and this trip ticked all those boxes.

Coming home was a treat too. I'm not one to ever think the grass is greener anywhere.  Life is what you make of it - so appreciating what you have and where you I've is as equally important as travelling and adventuring overseas.  

No surprises that those hounds of ours know how to give a rousing welcome! They couldn't decide who to lick to death the most so gave all three of us a jolly good going over.  Sooki kept running around in circles in excitement, while Woody tried to play it cool, but then broke into joyous barking and lickety licking again! 

They had a gorgeous time down in the country staying with the elderly couple who sometimes look after them. True to form, Sooki milked it for all her worth and would only eat if sitting on Ray's lap while being hand fed!  She is the limit.

I can tell you with my hand on my heart she has NEVER been fed that way by us. Man she knows how to milk it when she thinks she's onto some special treatment.  She was born a flirt and has worked tirelessly at perfecting her art.   That all came to a crashing halt when she was offered her first meal back at the ranch!  She tried to slouch away from her bowl but Woody gave her a nudge and a growl, clearly giving her his stern, big brother routine.  "The party is over stupid - it's back to boot camp so make the most of it - eat up or she'll take it away and then we'll see who is cute?!!"

I wonder if she has managed to send a smoke signal to Ray and book in a return visit ASAP?!!!!

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