Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4th of July weekend in Washington DC

It's been awhile, Ariel Viewers and it's great to be back. This past weekend, my husband, Jason and I went to Washington DC for the weekend to celebrate Independence Day. We drove down to our AirBnB in Cleveland Park, which is a town outside of the city center. Cleveland Park is very accessible to the metro to get you where you need to go and AirBnB was way cheaper than any of the hotels around (and you get an entire apartment to yourself). The metro stations are much cleaner than New york, but it is more expensive. In DC, the cost of the ride depends on where you're going unlike NY where you can travel anywhere for a flat rate. Also the purchase of the card itself is $2. Jason and I purchased 2 Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Groupons to explore the city. Buying these Groupons saved us $30 total. We bought 24-hour passes and saw all the things we wanted to see. If you want to explore the museums, I suggest buying a 48-hour pass. We also went to the Smithsonian National Zoo, which is in Cleveland Park. We had a great time seeing all the animals and it's totally free! In addition to the sites, we thoroughly enjoyed the food! We visited: 1. Medium Rare - we went here for brunch and we had amazing steak tips and eggs plus bottomless mimosas, bloody marys, etc. 2. Filomena Ristorante - very good Italian food. We had ravioli and gnocci. The best part of the whole meal was the strawberry cheesecake. Jason and I agreed that it was the best cheesecake we had ever eaten. 3. Das - I visited this Ethiopian restaurant about 10 years ago and it is just as good. We had the vegetable sampler and added beef tibs. Ethiopian bread that is served with the meal is delicious and very spongy. I was very happy to have gone back. 4. Old Ebbitt Grill - The steak and eggs on the brunch menu were amazing. I was not thrilled will the alcoholic beverages that were offered during brunch, but the fresh orange juice was delicious. 5. Georgetown Cupcakes - Be prepared to wait in a line down the block, but it moves pretty quickly. If you don't feel like waiting, order your cupcakes a day ahead of time and pick them up! We also visited a few bars: 1. ENO Winebar - This was pretty expensive so we only stayed for one drink. However, the ambiance was great and so was the service. 2. Jackpot - This bar was a fun time. The bartender is hilarious-quite the entertainer. You get popcorn with your drinks, and the bartender can whip you up anything based on what you like. The prices are fair and the atmosphere and vibe is great. Also I found out that I like beer! Normally I hate it, but the bartender had me try a mead beer, which is a beer made with honey rather than wheat. It was delicious! 3. Rí Rá - A super fun Irish pub that livens up at night. We were there during Derek A Dempsey's set and I must say that I have never seen such a great performance at a bar. He is so talented in all sorts of music styles and he gets the crowd on their feet. I can't wait to see him perform in NY this week! Overall our trip was a fantastic one. I can't wait to go back to Washington DC next year for the Cherry Blossom Festival!

Monday, March 28, 2016

There is a better way

Blood is shed daily from terror attacks. Individuals are sexually brutalized, groups are victims of bombings and mass shootings from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and fear is forever instilled in innocent people. Some say that terrorism is the result of uneducated people. Others say it is the result of mental illness. Although religion may have some outdated messages in its scriptures, the overall message is clear: Peace, do good for others, and be your best self. So how does this message get so misconstrued to the point that murder is the answer? In 2016 alone there have been 3,023 deaths in the US caused by gun violence. This does not include injuries and incidents caused by other means of harm. Therefore, statistically about 755 people are killed by guns each month. These numbers are outrageous. As gun violence and other acts of terror continue to grow, people are becoming more and more racially intolerant. Bad people are not separated into races and religions; they’re separated by morality and immorality. Rather than ostracizing entire groups of people such as Muslims, African Americans, and police officers, remember that there are bad apples in every group of people and it doesn’t make the entire group bad because there are always going to be flaws in every group.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“Let’s join Isis!” said more people than you’d think.

“4th Brooklyn Man Is Charged in Plot to Join ISIS” (The New York Times.) “More Americans volunteering to help Isis” (CNN.) “The World of American Kids Seduced by Isis.” (Rollingstone.) These are the types of headlines that the public is seeing in the news and the draw to join Isis is becoming more common and more disturbing. According to The New York Times as of August 20, 2014, around 85 Americans had chosen to fight in Syria. The State Department estimates that about 12,000 people around the world have traveled to Syria to fight in groups like Isis. What is the appeal for young people to join Isis? As reported by CNN, Isis runs powerful publicity machine, which uses social media to target these young people. 90,000 Tweets are sent out daily, and Facebook and WhatsApp are used to reach their target audience in a language the generation understands. These young people seem to be flocking to Isis for it promises “the good life.” They provide a “utopian political project.” Additionally, Isis promises free housing, utilities and toiletries all while warping young minds into oblivion so much so that these recruits don’t think Isis is doing anything wrong. I love free things. I love Facebook. However, nothing in the world would make me want to join this group regardless of any post I read or offer I received. I don’t know where the world’s head is at, but it is certainly not in reality or using common sense.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's All About Networking

As many of you may know, I landed a job with the New York Times and I couldn't be happier. My title is the Confidential Administrative Assistant and I will be fielding news stories and interviews in addition to being the personal assistant to the senior editor. I have applied to well over 300 jobs and I wholeheartedly believe that submitting applications online does close to nothing; it is all about NETWORKING. If you're out alone at the bar or grabbing dinner, talk to the person next to you. I ended up meeting a woman who works for Morgan Stanley, a well-known finance company, and she said she'd pass my resume along. I also have connections at Google and Nickelodeon because my parents met people who work there. I even got my New York Times job because I had an acquaintance on the inside. From there I worked my butt off and 5 interviews later I was hired! There are also plenty of networking events, especially in the major cities, that you can search for on Google. My advice is to perfect your resume and tailor it to each position you apply to as well as tailor you cover letter. Lastly, make personal business cards so the people you meet can add you to their contacts and remember you later. So quit busting your hump on hundred of tedious applications and get out and network!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Turkish Delight

I know I haven’t been very active on my blog lately, but I have good reasons! My head has been scrambled since being back from Europe due to my amazing boyfriend moving to New York in 27 days, our job and internship search, and our apartment search. On top of that, the weather has been horrible in New York compared to Europe, but I do not miss the Veneto pollution-I thought New York was bad, but you have no idea. In any event, I can finally sit down and share my Turkish adventures. Istanbul is a fantastic city full of life, prayer over the loud speaker 5 times a day, delicious and affordable food, and amazingly beautiful (and cheap! 1 Lira is worth $0.40 at the moment) shopping. Mom and I stayed at the Tria Hotel, which was not a good hotel, but was in a great location. Surprisingly, Best Western is a great option in Turkey and conveniently located in the hotspots of Istanbul. Here are notes I took of some places we visited: •The restaurant Mostra is known for their fish, but I had delicious lamb and salad. The sauvignon blanc and mezze plate were also delectable. •The restaurant Lezzet-I Sark was very tasty. We did not like the lamb, but the chicken was delicious. What was astonishingly good was the Kunefe, which is a sweet cheese pastry (it sounds strange, but you must try it). •Many will recommend the Grand Bazaar, but it is highly overpriced for items you can find at local Mom-and-Pop shops where they’re willing to give you a deal like Çakus Rugs. •The Arasta Bazaar was nice and more willing to cut a deal, but still not as good as the side shops. •The Spice Market was my favorite market. They had the best quality spices and teas, souvenirs, and will vacuum seal everything to take back home with you. I highly recommend the Spice Market. •The Blue Mosque was pretty cool. Enter through the side tourist entrance and see the great architecture from the inside. Be sure to have your legs and arms covered and women must cover their head. •Mom really wanted to see the Pera Palas Hotel where Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie was set. We had wine and tea and enjoyed the nice atmosphere after such a tough commute finding the place. If you want to visit the hotel, take the Tramvay (aka tram) to Taksim and then walk around aimlessly asking people where the hotel location is-Good luck. •Mom and I never reached the Asian side of Turkey (but we did see it from afar). If you want to go to the Asian side, you must cross the Bosphorus Bridge. If you ask someone how to get to Asia, they pronounce it Ah-see-uh. I was wondering why no one knew what Asia was…Oops! •Last, but certainly not least, you MUST visit Çakus Rugs (Kurban Çakus) at Mimar Mehmet Aga Cad. No: 5 34122 Sultanahmet. These are one of the side shops that I was talking about. This is your one stop shop for Turkish jewelry, clothes, beautiful lamps, ceramics, and rugs. The men who own the stop are the sweetest, friendliest salesmen you will ever meet and they have the best prices in town. Definitely visit this shop if you plan to shop. If you can’t find the shop, here is their number: +90 212 638 56 68. Mom and I also went on a dinner cruise with entertainment and the unlimited drink package; it was well worth the money. The food was okay, but the entertainment was very enjoyable, the views from the boat were gorgeous, and Mom and I certainly drank our moneys worth. I was also recruited (or pushed on stage by my mother) to compete in the belly dance competition. Let’s just say I won a gold medal. Moreover, EVERYONE should get a Turkish bath. It is the utmost form of pampering you'll ever receive. They exfoliate, moisturize, and massage your entire body. They also give delicious fruit tea and Turkish delights and the whole experience takes place inside a palace-like Mosque; I called it a water palace. They separate the men and women to 2 different sides of the building so you can be naked and free as a bird. Overall my trip to Turkey was a delight and a great last trip with my mom. I definitely recommend everyone visit Turkey. Travel and enjoy ☺

Monday, February 2, 2015

My first visit to Ireland and the Irish Family Initiation

I had a fantastic time in Ireland and I am thankful to have been able to immerse myself in the culture through my boyfriend, Jason's amazing family. I was also very lucky to be able to experience delicious Irish home cooking every single night and eat a full Irish breakfast (thanks Stephanie and Paddy!) Jason took me to the leprechaun museum, which is great to hear stories about leprechauns, and to take photos sitting in giant furniture. We also went to the Guinness Storehouse despite my strong dislike for beer. It is a fascinating museum of the history of Guinness and at the top is a bar where we tried a free Guinness with the purchase of our museum ticket (and I can still say that I do not like beer, YUCK). Then we went to Newgrange, which is a beautiful sight to see and I think one of my favorite parts of my 9-day trip. The landscape and scenery is beautiful and for a city girl, it is nice to get a change of scenery. There are symbolic markings on the rocks that no one knows the meaning of that are near the cave entrance. The tour guide was very passionate about the site and showed us what it was like with no light and how it would be like to live there. Newgrange reminded me a lot of Stonehenge so if you like Stonehenge, you will definitely like this. I had a great time being a tourist and visiting all the tourist sites, but the main reason for my Ireland trip was to meet Jason's whole family at his brother, Robbie's wedding. The reception was at Ballymagarvey, which looked like a quaint castle. There was food, lots of drinking, and Jason and I danced as if we were on "Dancing with the Stars," or at least that is what we thought. I had the best time meeting all of Jason's family and bringing in the New Year with a kiss from Jason. I also got to experience the nightlife scene at the Palace in a cute town close to Jason called Navan. Jason and I drank, mingled, and danced all night long. I did not realize how much Jason and I love dancing until now. I loved Jason's family; I felt very at home and if I were close to a city, I would move to Ireland in a heartbeat. Ireland is friendly, clean, and obviously, I love it because Jason and his awesome family are there. Who knows, I may be living out there sooner than I think depending on how things go. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Florence, Italy with Jason

Jason and I took the train, TrenItalia down to Florence. Mom has booked us a fast train ticket but we had gotten on the slow train by mistake bringing us in an hour later. On top of that, we were charged 50€ extra for being on the wrong train. Jason and I were pissed, but things were fantastic when we reached Florence. My friend, Lorena lived in Florence for 1 semester and is also Italian so she was able to recommend delicious places: Lunch/Dinner at Gusta Osteria (Via de Michelozzi 12/R). 2. Dessert at Gelateria dei Neri (Via dei Neri,9) near the Duomo. They have great gelato and cannolis. 3. Lunch at All' Antico Vinaio (Via dei Neri, 65R). The best sandwich shop I've ever been to. 4. Dinner at Academia (Piazza San Marco) recommended by my friend, Kieran. All of these eats are very affordable on a shoestring budget, authentic, and delicious. If you're looking for nightlife, look for the Lochness Lounge along Via di Benci. There's a great hookah place next door and many bars surrounding that street. Jason and I had plenty of wine, got a hookah to share, talking and acted silly while getting lost in the streets of Florence. It was a memorable night for sure. Jason and I also visited the Duomo. We had clearly purchased tickets online and printed them as the ticket said to do, but the bar code was too small to scan and the people working there could care less about 2 English speakers. Be sure you have a large bar code to scan or be savvy like me and bring it up on your smartphone and enlarge it (I know, genius). We looked around the museum, which I didn't think was that impressive, but maybe because Jason and I were still angry about the whole ticket situation. We then walked ALL THE WAY up the bell tower and got amazing pictures of the views of Florence. I definitely recommend touring the Duomo. I must also mention Hotel Casci. The staff was so friendly, the hotel was clean, and the room was reasonably priced for its amazing location (right next to the Duomo, nightlife and all the restaurants I mentioned). I would definitely recommend Hotel Casci to have an amazing Florence experience without breaking the bank. Unfortunately after such an amazing trip we hit problems again. We had to switch trains in Padova to get back to Vicenza. We pulled into Padova late, but had about 3 minutes to spare to catch the next train. The door was open and we were about to get on when the conductor put out his hand blocking us from getting on and the doors shut. TrenItalia has HORRIBLE customer service and treats their American (or maybe all foreign) customers like dirt. It's too bad TrenItalia is the only train choice. All I can say is be on time and ask the conductor if you're on the right train before getting on. Despite the horrible customer service at the Duomo museum and with TrenItalia, it was a wonderfully romantic and perfect trip to Florence. Thanks for booking it, Mom!