Saturday, January 20, 2018

Best of 2017

The first thing most people will tell you about the year 2017 is that it was a tough year. Politically, our nation was divided, and the outlook for our future remains wary. Over the past twelve months, our global population suffered from multiple natural disasters–from wildfires in California, hurricanes in the Caribbean and US, mudslides and earthquakes and more.

But 2017 had it's growth moments too. It was the year of women–telling their stories, being heard and then believed, witnessing actual repercussions for men, breaking glass ceilings.

Where did I go in 2017?
January: Tahoe for New Years, Las Vegas for CES,
and a Aspen ski trip.
February: Miami with Kathryn.
March: Austin for SXSW.
April: Coachella for work, Mexico City for
the first time.
May: Austin for Hunter's graduation,
Vancouver for a conference.
June: A weekend in Tahoe.
July: Mexico City, again.
August: Tulum and Yosemite with Megan.
September: Two weeks in Barcelona,
Morocco and Portugal.
October: New York for #CreateGood,
and a Tahoe weekend.
November: Less than 24 hours in Vegas.
December: A surprise trip to Texas
and Utah for Christmas.


Best of 2016            Best of 2015            Best of 2014            Best of 2013           
Best of 2012            Best of 2011            Best of 2010           

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*More to come.*

Sunday, September 24, 2017

European Jet Lag

It's the morning after my return from a two-week trip to Europe, and I'm a little jet-lagged and wary of the work inbox that's awaiting me in two hours. My body doesn't understand what time it is, but rather than attempting to gain more sleep, it's time to process through my recent trip.

I'm excited to have made it home with five pieces of luggage, to be reunited with my needy plant collection. I have attempted to unpack some of the past two weeks last night, and now my bedroom/living room floor is covered with seven Moroccan rugs of various shapes and colors.

So what happened? Over the past 14 days, I moved from Barcelona to Morocco, through the desert and onto Lisbon before finally returning to Spain. I nearly missed all of my flights, all for different reasons, and I slowly accumulated more and more luggage as time went on. I rode in a car through Morocco for over 24 hours from Marrakech to Ouarzazate, from Puarzazate to Merzouga, and from Merzouga to Fes, and repeatedly hung my head out the window to watch this unique desert landscape stream by. I rode a camel for the first time up a wave of sand, and attempted to board down the same golden dune in Erg Chebi.

I fell in love with Moroccan cuisine. Now: Give me anything in a tangine, along with a cup of mint tea with sugar, please. We dined in riad gardens and on top of terraces with pet turtles, and we concluded our final night in Fes with a traditional Moroccan meal inside a family home. We sat in community and shared a dish of chicken and vegetable couscous, and then a large plate of lamb. Phrases of Spanish, Moroccan Arabic, French and some English all flew about the room as we attempted to overcome several language barriers. Still, laughter is easily communicated in most every language, as is hospitality and gratitude.

We surprisingly made it out of Morocco after jumping over a couple of barriers–canceled flights, multiple carry-ons, and an early-morning flight change. We arrived in Portugal and dragged said luggage for blocks and blocks, truly testing our strength and love for our Moroccan purchases. We found Lisbon to resemble San Francisco as we hiked hills, drank mojitos atop a parking garage while gazing at a near-familiar red bay bridge, and we found the local foodie spots. We made meals of wine and cheese, much cheaper than in the states, and we longed for more time in the country.

After a short stint, it was time to return to Barcelona. With more favorable weather, clear skies and no sudden showers, we adopted a more local approach to the city. Our hotel was comparable to the Ace Hotel of Palm Springs, but we mostly stayed out in the streets and hydrated with sangria. I turned 26 with ceviche for the bourgeois, a table full of tapas, drinks at Barcelona's oldest bar and a night/early morning of dancing with two close friends. I fell in love with Barcelona on this return visit, and should have stayed.

It will take me many months to come back and write about the joys and wonders and hardships of this trip. As a whole, it was a step out of my comfort zone, a trip of growth and self-reflection, and even had a dose of culture shock. I am tired, but also so full from this experience.

*Please forgive any typos and grammatically errors.

Friday, September 1, 2017

City Guide: Tulum

How do I explain Tulum?

Amazing food. Conversational cabbies. White sand beaches. Plenty of opportunity for adventure.
A place I'll be returning to soon.

It's not your typical Mexico beach resort town. It's not Cancun or Playa del Carmen or Cozumel or Cabo San Lucas. It's touristy, for sure, but I would consider it the Aspen of the Yucatan. A little exclusive, a bit pricey for Mexico, a curated experience. Expect to run into other millennials or hip ad-exec types from New York or San Francisco, or vacationers from various parts of Europe. You're not sticking to your resort. Instead, you're hopping from beach club to beach club, driving out to cenotes for a cool, mid-afternoon dip, and taking dinner in the jungle.

I met up with some of my favorites folks from Texas and we stayed in the neighborhood of Aldea Zama, about midway between the town of Tulum and the beach resort road. The Airbnb was a part of a beautiful apartment complex with a saltwater pool, and each unit had an outdoor shower and private plunge pool.

Each night, we dined out at some of the must-visits of Tulum: Hartwood, Arca, Posada Margherita and Gitano. Each morning, we started with yoga and smoothie bowls, or avocado toast and pool time, or an early beach club arrival to stake out prime lounging chairs. Afternoon activities varied from cenote hopping to a spa visit to bebidas at a new beach club.

Scroll for photos, and keep scrolling for Tulum recommendations.

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Where to eat:

  • Delcielo Tulum – local coffee and breakfast spot in town
  • Hartwood – it's amazing, lives up to all expectations, fresh ingredient dinner, if you eat at one place in Tulum, this is it.
  • Arca Tulum – great jungle spot, perfect dinner for two, definitely order dessert
  • Taqueria La Eufemia – tacos on the beach, can hang for awhile
  • Gitano – mezcal bar and restaurant, we ordered one of each appetizer and recommend this plan of attack, turns into a dance party on Thursday night so get ready to stay out late
  • Raw Love – the best smoothie bowls to get every morning, especially after ocean-view yoga. get rid of the bad toxins from all those beach club drinks and have a juice shot and smoothie bowl each day
  • Matcha Mama – super into matcha? if yes, then you have to stop by for drinks and the swings
  • Kin-Toh – modern mayan + mexican fusion, the restaurant is in a treehouse so major highlight, recommend for drinks and sunset-watching, dinner is a bit pricey
  • Nômade Tulum – we didn't get to eat here but it's a hotel with floor-seating
  • Casa Jaguar – we didn't eat here also, but it's supposed to be great and turns into a party on Friday and Tuesday nights
  • Posada Margherita – sometimes you're craving Italian food when in Mexico... handmade pasta you'll love
  • Chamico's – a local spot at Bahia Soliman, get a HUGE plate of fresh ceviche, chill in some hammocks

Where to beach:

  • Papaya Playa Beach Club
  • La Zebra
  • Coco Tulum – the bar has swings, are you convinced yet?
  • Hotel Be Tulum – probably the best beach in Tulum
  • Ahau Tulum – favorite place to do yoga, home of Raw Love

Where to venture:

  • Ruins at Coba
  • Ruins at Tulum
  • Dos Ojos Cenote
  • Sian Ka'an
  • Parque Xel-Ha

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

City Guide: Mexico City

Before I had even gone on my first trip to Mexico City, I had a second trip booked. After two years of telling everyone that I want to eventually live in CD.MX., I had a good list of people who wanted to explore the city with me. The first trip in March was an exploratory visit with no real schedule or guidelines. Mostly just aimless wandering in the neighborhoods of Polanco, La Condesa y La Roma.

For this second trip, sweet couple Kaity and David, and I opted out of traditional American 4th of July celebrations and instead took an overnight flight to the city of my heart. With a tentative 5-day plan, we arrived jet lagged, but bright-eyed, excited to put our rusty Spanish language skills to the test and ready for some street food.

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After checking into our cute Airbnb in La Roma, we hit up Lardo for some necessary fuel. Thus begins my daily breakfast diet of huevos rancheros. Sometimes I share with Kaity or David...

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With breakfast out of the way, we hit the ground running. Almost literally. Kaity and I tried to match David's long stride through the park and to Chapultepec Castle.

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Also located in Bosque de Chapultepec, Latin American's largest park, is Museo Nacional de Antropología, the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. Here you can learn about the various indigenous groups that have lived in Mexico over time, from the Olmecs to the Mayans to the Aztecs. Even if you aren't a fan of museums, this is one of the BEST.

After a full day exploring, we returned to the Airbnb to freshen up before our big dinner at Pujol. There are too many things to say about this experience.

First off, you need to watch Chef's Table if you haven't yet had a chance. Prioritize it. It's possibly the best show on Netflix for its cinematography, its storytelling and its depiction of food.

And about the meal... Pujol offers a sent menu of six courses for a great value, and almost each of the courses offers you four different options to choose from. The Benacs and I made the most of our night by ordering three dishes each course and rotating plates throughout the evening.

So what did we eat? Delicious street snacks housed in a smoking gourd. Appetizers included sea bass bathed in cacahuatzintle juice with celery, chayote squash with sea asparagus, topped with maguey worm salt, and octopus in habanero ink with ayocote and veracruzana sauce. For the third course, we split softshell crab tacos topped with meyer lemon, some flavorful wild mushroom soup with beans and Mexican tarragon, and a charred eggplant tamal.

Fourth course included a delicious cut of lamb with mint mole, lime and baby potatoes, along with melt-in-your-mouth pork chop with red chichilo and butternut squash, and for the third dish, a fresh-caught grilled fish with hoja santa chickpea. This was followed up with a fifth course of mole madre and mole nuevo. It is a plate with a new mole nestled within a flavor-packed 1000-day old mole. I don't really have words for this...

We finished the dish with a trio of desserts, some homemade churros, and chupitos of fine mezcal. The dinner took several hours, moving at a pace that allowed for rich conversation with two of my favorites, serious food appreciation because three year old mole, obviously, and an appropriate welcome to Mexico City.

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The next day, we went out to visit the neighborhood of San Angel. We stumbled upon brunch at a beautiful monastery-turned-hotel, and were hard pressed to leave this place. As fate would have it though, we ran into some fellow Texans and made plans to meet up later in our trip. We spent the afternoon wandering from San Angel to Coyoacan, taking photos of brightly colored walls and sampling delicious street food.

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On our third day, David organized a trip to Teotihuacan. Departing around sunrise, we drove out of the city and toward an archaeological landmark. Don't let anyone tell you Teotihuacan is not worth visiting because compared to Tikal and Tulum and other ruins, you get to scramble up and down pyramids, you get to understand the scope of this ancient civilization, and you get to touch everything. We spent the morning climbing the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the Temple of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon.

On our return to CD.MX. we made plans for churros. With single-minded determination, we found Churrería El Moro, an Instagram-perfect spot with its blue and white tile, multi-sized churro options and several dipping sauces, and your choice of several hot chocolate drinks. Churros make people happy. People need more churros in life.


Planning for CD.MX.

Where to eat:


  • Panaderia Rosetta
  • Lardo
  • Eno


  • El Moro Churrería
  • Hueset
  • Yuban
  • Lalo!


  • Pujol
  • Quintonil
  • Blanco Colima
  • Rosetta
  • Contramar


  • Limantour
  • El Palenquito

Where to venture:

  • Museo Nacional de Antropología
  • Chapultepec Park
  • Luis Barragán Museum
  • Frida Kahlo’s House
  • San Angel Inn
  • Teotihuacan Pyramids
  • Walk around Coyoacan
  • Xochimilco
  • Lucho Libre