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Since I last wrote you, I’ve been to Chicago, Dallas, and Tampa. All were swell times, and I hope that someday I can write about them.

But, I’m going to be in Barcelona for a few weeks, starting pretty much tomorrow. Anyone got any tips or tricks?

Going into this experience almost completely cold turkey. Ah, reminds me of my RTW months, when I hardly didn’t know which country I’d be landing in next. This trip, more than that one even, is a kind of therapy from a long, hard year (which I also hope to tell you about, someday).

It feels good to be alive.

Sometimes, like on online dating profiles, I like to throw in nifty facts about myself without context. One such fact is this: I have attended a post-Super Bowl victory riot, and lost one job as a result.

The true story is that I did go to a Super Bowl victory riot, and I wrote about it in my school’s independent newspaper. Even though my Editor passed it through, and it was syndicated (meaning, it ran in a bunch of other schools’ newspapers too), they decided after the fact that they didn’t like how I portrayed Pittsburgh. So, they let me run one more column and never published me again. Whatever, I have no hard feelings. I grew up to run my own fancytime blog instead.

Anyway, the reason I think about it now and every four years in the years since is because really it was just meant to be a love letter to the Olympics. The Winter Olympics are on now, and frankly I can’t get enough. I’m not even a sports-obsessed person. There’s no place else raw passion and human achievement and failure play out so vividly on the world stage. So in honor of Sochi 2014, I’m throwing a little love to baby Amanda Elsewhere, the Amanda Elsewhere who didn’t even have her passport yet, and her stance on the Olympics vs. the Super Bowl.

People go to New Jersey on purpose?

Frequently referred to as the “armpit of America,” New Jersey is possibly the least-liked state in the Union. It’s not helped by pop culture (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), or its shitty politicians (Chris Christie, those mayors that were selling kidneys on the black market). Here to duke it out over the Garden State are Amanda Patterson of Amanda Elsewhere and Matt Hershberger of A Man Without A Country:

Hi Matt. Maybe we should talk about why we’re here. Last week on Twitter, you took offense to my taking offense that any part of America would be shocked by the idea that Chris Christie actually did know about those bridge lane closures (because, c’mon, fucking duh) and then I said that New Jersey is the worst (which, if you know me, is a pretty established stance <I woke up this way>). But I think it’s pretty established that New Jersey ranks 50 out of 50, dating back to forever and not even Bruce Springsteen can change that true fact.

Hey Amanda! Okay, to be fair, Chris Christie is a douche, and the idea he didn’t know was a bit of a stretch. That said, it’s become incredibly fashionable to shit on New Jersey, and it’s undeserved. I’ve got a theory that as soon as the show How I Met Your Mother does something, it’s passe and needs to end. They did it with the words “epic” and “legendary,” they did it with bro culture, they did it with laugh-track sitcoms, and they did it to New Jersey haters. And seriously, go to a Springsteen concert and tell me it doesn’t fix everything wrong with the world.

If it’s fashionable to hate New Jersey, then it’s fashionable in the way that denim jeans are fashionable. My sympathies to Ted Mosby. I dated a guy who lived (lives) in New Jersey and it was a deal-breaker before the first traffic circle. Did you know they charge you $0 to cross the bridge into New Jersey but charge you $5 to come back into Pennsylvania? I basically had to pay the equivalent of a Starbucks latte for the privilege to be back in Philadelphia. Are you aware of how sad that sentence is? I was so traumatized dating him that when I saw a bum peeing on a Wawa the last time I got back into Philly, I thought, “My people!” You know, try as they might – those bridge toll angels – it doesn’t even stop them from coming here on Friday nights in fleets. Fleets! You can always tell who they are, too, speaking of fashion.

Being in Philadelphia for free is traumatizing, god knows how awful it must be to have to pay to be there. And of course you can tell who they are. They don’t reek of cheesesteak and stale Yuengling. Seriously, though, I’ll give you that there are some crappy spots in Jersey, and that you happen to be quite close to two of the worst: Camden and Trenton. That said, there are crappy spots in every state (I wouldn’t want my native Ohio to be judged by Akron), and Jersey has some awesome spots, too: the Shore is awesome, and Jersey City and Hoboken are a lot of fun. And as for that Jersey Shore stereotype? Yeah, 6 of the 8 of them were from New York. So let’s give credit where it’s due: A lot of things people say suck about New Jersey are equally true of New York, and no one shits on them. Also, not everyone in New Jersey is an Italian gangster or greaseball. Some of them are Irish.

To read the thrilling conclusion, follow this link over to Matt’s blog…

 

This post is a response to “Don’t date a girl who travels.”

If you are like me (and by “like me,” I mean on the internet last week), you saw the “Don’t date a girl who travels” link pop up and be shared enthusiastically. While it may be true that I am unimpressed  with (or rather, indifferent to) your expensive watch, the rest of it is a jumble of unforgiving, amateur generalizations. The troubling thing about “Don’t date a girl who travels” is that it says “Don’t date A Girl Who Travels. Because A Girl Who Travels  is generally better (more socially engaged, independent, creative, interesting, etc.) than you (if you don’t like to travel) and you should actually really want to date her (if you do like to travel). ” But people who travel aren’t better than people who don’t. The travel community itself is rife with one-upping culture. “Don’t date a girl who travels” is just another example of this.

If you really must know, please just don’t date A Girl Who Travels if the idea of interacting with people, cultures, and foods different from your own truly offends you. Please don’t date A Girl Who Travels if you can’t roll with the punches, or if changes in “The Plans” disrupt your ability to retain your cool. Don’t date A Girl Who Travels if you cannot at least pretend to have a good time, for her sake, when she tries to share her love of travel with you. It will actually be heartbreaking for her when you can’t hide your blatant disdain for brass bands in New Orleans, or when you exclaim “Thank God!” when your plane lands back in your home city. It’s not that A Girl Who Travels cannot truly enjoy her time collecting experiences in her hometown (that includes holding a steady job and/or going out to dinner and to the movies between travels, by the way). It’s also not a requisite that you must love every place you to which you travel. A Girl Who Travels knows that a love for travel is not necessarily a love for place, for A Girl Who Travels know you can travel to the same place twice and come away with two completely different stories. But please, don’t date A Girl Who Travels if you can’t see the magic in the story that you together create, because it will cut her to the core, and every attempt to be rational and not take your blindness to her passion personally will fail. Creating stories is her truest happiness.

My guess is that these real reasons for not dating A Girl Who Travels won’t go viral. Don’t don’t date A Girl Who Travels because some thoughtlessly written and shared article claims A Girl Who Travels doesn’t need you and will be bored with you. That girl sounds like kind of a psychopath. Trust me when I say A Girl Who Travels wants you to go with her. Nobody needs to be with another person, but life sure is more fun when you get to share experiences with people you love.

Here’s a piece of dating advice: Date a girl whose face you want to kiss. If she happens to be A Girl Who Travels, congratulations. You’ll probably have a few cool adventures together. If you happen to be a Dude Who is Ambivalent About Travel (but are otherwise kind and compassionate), never fear. Let her leave without you from time to time, because she’ll get to come home to you. And travel or no travel, isn’t that what this whole dumb dating thing is all about?

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beer glasses india bag p135778_2

Hey guys! I have a $75 gift code for NOVICA to give to a reader! In conjunction with National Geographic, NOVICA hosts an online fair trade marketplace that showcases thousands (literally thousands!) of hand-crafted gifts from around the world, offering artisans a free platform to develop their businesses and connect to savvy consumers like you and me (who may very well prefer a shopping jaunt to Nepal than to a chain store in the mall, but alas).

Seriously, how cool are those beer glasses? The products above are all offered on NOVICA’s website (and are my picks for under $75!). It is the perfect place to shop for gifts for your gal or fella who loves to travel, and to make it even easier, you can shop by personality (or by hobby, wink wink).

To enter, leave a comment (tell me your favorite place in the world!) and share this post by 11:59pm, 1 February. Be sure input your email address when you comment; I will contact the winner via email. One-time-use promo code must be used by 5 February, and does not include shipping costs (although you may purchase a lower value item and apply the code toward shipping). Please contact me with any questions.

Comments are now closed. Congratulations to Christina for winning the giveaway. Thanks to all who participated.

Charleston, SC is one of my favorite places in the United States. Since my best friend moved down there in 2008, I have tried to fly down whenever I can. It is an easy two-hour flight from Philadelphia and DC, and I can usually find great deals on US Air. (Fingers crossed that these great deals don’t disappear after the merge!)

It’s hard not to be seduced by the cobblestones and sea air. Charleston is a city of nooks and gardens, and the Spanish moss that drapes over it all seems to just invite you to slow down. Enjoy yourself. When you’re in the South, there’s no need to rush to the next destination. Take advantage of its famous hospitality.

This was my first wintertime Charleston visit, and while the temperatures were … what are the words I’m looking for? … not as bad as up north (polar vortex, have you no mercy?!), it was still too cold to take advantage of all of the outdoor activities – kayaking, beaching, house-gawking etc. – that I usually love about visiting. There were really only two things left to do: drink, and eat.

Mercifully, the culture of food down South is divine. It is rich; it is fresh; it is refined; it is delightfully infused with all ingredients designed to keep you slightly plump but heartily satisfied. Home-style cooking? Yes. Soul food? Second helpings, please.

Best place to follow-up a night of heavy, New Year’s Eve style drinking: Lost Dog Cafe

that cappuccino!

Three girls. Four breakfasts. That’s what brunch at Lost Dog Cafe looks like. Because believe me, you WILL read the menu and be all Sophie’s Choice between the Eggs Benedict piled on top of a fried green tomato (I REPEAT: A FRIED GREEN TOMATO), Canadian bacon, and an English muffin and the Sweet Potato Pancakes (because, Sweet Potato Pancakes!). So, what you will do, is each order a savory breakfast and share the pancakes between the four of you for second breakfast dessert. The side of fruit makes it okay.

Best place to discover what holistic soul food means, or to try your luck at bumping into Bill MurrayAlluette’s Cafe

Dat bread!

Alluette’s is a tiny, unassuming space in a strip of retail stores off the beaten path, but still near, historic downtown Charleston. It is, apparently, a favorite of local resident Bill Murray, and they’ve named the black bean burger after him. It is the best place to go if you are curious how collared greens go inside of a sandwich, and if you want to actually see from where your food comes (hint: it will come from the garden out back. You’ll see the chef walk outside and bring back the tomato that goes inside of your sandwich). The food is vegetarian-centric, farm fresh, and so flavorful your tongue will demand seconds. This is maybe something I said during my visit: “I don’t want to eat it because then it will be gone. But I want to eat it.”

Best place to stop for a drink, because, that’s cool!: Market Pavilion Hotel

nitro!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, will tell you the best place to get a drink in Charleston is on the roof of the Market Pavilion Hotel. They’ll be all like “the views!” and “the glamour!” And so maybe you’ll go up there, but maybe it will be winter, and pretty freaking cold. And you’ll get a gin-based cocktail with cucumber wedges floating in it and it will be unspeakably fresh and delicious. But, because it’s winter, and frankly kind of shitty out, the fog will prevent you from seeing those views! And then it will kind of start to sputter and rain, so you’re a little bit like fuck this. So you go downstairs to the lobby bar, a place so blah-ly named Grill 225, and the lady bartender will be like, “Do you want to try our signature Nitrotini?” And you will ask if it’s cool, and she’ll say “It’s pretty cool.” So then, you will be served a cocktail with a warning label on it. The label says: WARNING. Wait for the liquid nitrogen to evaporate. If you don’t, this drink may cause SEVERE and PERMANENT internal damage. It looks pretty. And you drink it. And not only is it cool, it’s dangerously cool. (Sorry).

Best place to get the wool pulled over your eyes (Bonus: it’s like the tapas of Southern food!): Hominy Grill

something of everything

soup is top 5 thing about winter

Hominy Grill is famous for their Big Nasty (name soon to be changed!): a sinful looking thing with fried chicken and a biscuit at its core, drizzled in cheddar cheese and sausage gravy. It will be tempting to order this, but then, there is the Vegetable Plate option, a gift to menu-debaters everywhere. From the many options of vegetable sides, you can choose 3-5 and make your own meal. Not really sure how mac and cheese and corn bread counts as a vegetable, though. Ah, no matter, I’ll take it!

Also, pretty sure this is a lie:

ORLY?

But, hey. When in Charleston…

A note about my endorsements: I’m not (yet) cool enough to be paid to tour places and eat the food for free. Not being cool enough to be paid for my endorsements means I have more time to pretend I’m a spy. And pay for all my drinks. So, you know all my opinions are the real deal, just in case this post being filed in “Amanda Seal of Approval” didn’t convince you already. PS if anyone wants to pay me to eat your food, contact me.

It’s been a while since I graduated college, but it hasn’t been a while since the new assistants at my company have graduated college. So, I guess I forgot about the two camps of young American travelers. Or, at least, it’s been a long while since I thought about them.

Let me set the scene: Work. Cubicles. The two weekdays after Christmas.

The players: Almost no one. Because everyone takes off the week of Christmas to laze about in their pajamas except: 1. Me, who uses all of her vacation days to travel and not laze about in my pajamas and 2. The two New Hires, who haven’t accumulated enough vacation days to spend the week of Christmas lazing about in their pajamas.

It’s not so bad. It’s quiet, and, as it turns out, it’s good bonding time. I learn that my new assistant, has a two-year (!) savings plan for a trip to Antarctica. I am intrigued, and find myself standing at her desk, doing what all people who’ve had love affairs with travel do, that is: talking about travel.  We are joined by another group’s new assistant and soon the two newbs are engaged in a back-and-forth about castles, having both (recently) studied abroad in Europe. I’m lost for most of it, and find myself asking somewhere in the middle of Bavaria and Edinburgh: What the hell is a castle even? Is it a house? Is it a fort? Palaces I understand. Castles I do not. I mention I do want to see a castle, I think, but my travels in Europe have been somewhat limited.

Eventually we start talking about where we’d love to go next. My Antarctica-dreaming colleague mentions Bolivia, to which the other replies “I don’t know about South America. That is much too scary for me.”

It reminded me of that post on Stuff White People Like about the two kinds of people who travel. Because I instantly reverted back to the Traveler I was, the person whose formative first experiences out in the world were below the equator. I’d be lying if I said that traveling through South America, Africa, and Asia didn’t once make me feel superior to those devout to their travels through Europe. This was definitely the case upon my immediate return from my study abroad experience. I remember the year I got back to school, I gave a kid a ride across Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving break, and during the drive he said that Europe was superior to all places because it was responsible for all of civilization. I made him listen to my Bollywood musical CD the remainder of the way.

I’ve since traveled to Europe, and of course I think it’s swell. And, I like to think I’ve mellowed out of my Traveler’s superiority complex. But maybe I haven’t. Because, what I wanted to say to my new (and young) coworker was this:

Don’t be scared of South America. Go to South America. In South America, there are cities just as grand as they are in Europe. Go to those cities. And also go to the parts that scare you. The gritty parts. South America will push you to the edge of what you thought you could handle, what you thought you could do. Maybe you’ll go to Carnival in Salvador; maybe you’ll dance your ass off and get too drunk. Maybe you’ll need to pee in public; maybe you’ll throw up. Maybe while you’re making your way through massive, colorful, buoyant crowds you will feel children’s hands go into the pockets of your jeans; they are searching for money that you have smartly tucked into the bottom of your shoes or inside of your bra. Maybe someone with a gun will follow you on a cobblestoned street past fluttering Bonfim bracelets tied to gates, but maybe a woman will stop you on the street and tell you to be more careful. Maybe you will realize the world is scary but the world takes care of you. The next day maybe you’ll get lost taking a bus to a beach town and maybe the people on the bus will make fun of you for trying to communicate in Spanish instead of Portuguese. Maybe those people will tell you that you have glittering eyes and then point you in the right direction because you were going the wrong direction. Maybe you’ll go to a beach and see every beauty ideal you grew up with defied by big bulging Brazilian women in teeny tiny bikinis. Maybe for the first time in your life you’ll feel comfortable in a bathing suit without a cover-up. Maybe this will liberate you and cause you to question your own culture for the first time. Question who you are. Accept yourself. For the first time. After that, maybe there will be more dancing. Better dancing. Because you are alive.

Maybe, in this quiet office in your new life, the week of Christmas, almost seven years later, you can still feel the beating of those Carnival drums in the depths of the cavity of your chest, (the beating of your heart).

Or maybe you could stick with Europe. I hear they have castles.

motion movement

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