Romance in Narragansett, Rhode Island

Friday, August 29, 2014

Let's start the weekend early with chat about a romantic weekend trip to Narragansett, Rhode Island. On June 29th, our family and friends joined J and I in a celebration of our marriage. We had eloped before moving to Vilnius and over a year later we got the chance to celebrate! J and I decided to make a romantic weekend of it and spend the night before and night of staying in a sweet Air BnB apartment in Narragansett. We spent the night before our celebration wandering the Narragansett shoreline and stuffing our face with the yummiest burgers ever.

Narragansett is totally a place we would love to live in the US. It has a beautiful shoreline with several beaches that are in walking distance. It has a small, walkable downtown with a few restaurants, including the exceptional Crazy Burger. Seriously though, Crazy Burger had a great atmosphere and amazing food. Try the mocha cookies (sold with the big chain chai - but if you ask, they will sell them separately) because they are seriously the best cookies I've ever eaten. I just wanted to stuff them all in my face. For more about Crazy Burger check out my review on Minube.

crazy burger in narragansett, rhode island

chai drinks at crazy burger
 fritters at crazy burger

mocha cookies at crazy burger
These are seriously the best cookies ever

wasabi burger at crazy burger

delicious meal at crazy burger

hanging out in narragansett rhode island

the Narragansett shoreline

hanging out by the shore

awesome rock statues in narragansett
Rock statues

rock statues in Narragansett

lobster truck

----From our celebration----

My flowers

Excuse my "its too sunny for no sunglasses" face

Happy weekend! Beginning on Wednesday I'll be talking about our visit in Xi'an.

I'm linking up with Something Winnderful for Social Saturday.

The 798 Art District

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Before our evening flight from Beijing to our next destination, Xi'an, we decided to visit the street art district in Beijing. The 798 Art District is a repurposed military factory district with awesome buildings that have been covered with street art. The contrast between the decommissioned factories and bright street art was amazing, making this a must visit area of Beijing. I'm a huge fan of many forms of art and especially of street art because of the originality, and vibrant in your face designs that many artists create. You can't find this stuff in stores - though I wish you could because my apartment would be plastered with it.

In the 798 Art District there were also several shops selling (expensive and less exciting) art, clothes, and handmade pottery. We picked up a set of two awesome cups from Soul Collection Art.

beautiful glasses from Soul Collection Art in Beijing

In 2002 artists began to rent space in the old factories and have since turned the district into an artists haven. I wish I could have brought my sister (who is an illustrator) along with us. I think she would have wanted to set up a shop!

China street art from the 798 art district in beijing

alleys in the 798 art district decommissioned military buildings in Beijingrepurposed military factories for art
a statue of hands touchinga statue of a kid sitting
street art of a mostly nude yellow man

ghost street art

corner mustache man street art
 bright street art in Beijing, Chinastreet art in the 798 art district in beijing

people in the 798 street art district

angry fish painting

sultan street art in the 798 art district
 music street art

wiggly people in the beijing art district

the beijing art scene

What do you think of street art? What is your favorite piece from this collection of street art? Mine is the last photo of the red yelling man statue.

Check out street art in Barcelona, Uzupis, and Asheville.

I'm linking up with Treat Yo' Self Thursday #37 and #SundayTraveler.

The Great Wall of China

Monday, August 25, 2014

The first thing that comes to mind for anyone visiting China for the first time is the Great Wall of China. I'll skip the history lesson about the Great Wall and instead talk about why you NEED to visit it and how to make the most of your visit. I've been to the Great Wall twice now, and each time is amazing, different, and awe inspiring.

What you need to know

  • There are multiple sections of the wall
  • Some sections are VERY crowded and some are unrestored and rarely visited
  • Occasionally some of the open sections of the wall are closed for restoration, so be sure to check online before planning a trip to that sections.
  • Popular sections of the Great Wall are
    • Badaling - very crowded, most popular
    • Juyongguan - easy to visit in a short about of time
    • Mutianyu - crowded but not terrible, great scenery
    • Simatai - temporarily closed
    • Jinshaling - not crowded, partially unrestored
  • For more information about getting to different sections of the Great Wall visit this website.
  • It is very hot in Beijing in the summer, so if you will be hiking be sure to bring water and sunscreen.
  • There are some vendors on the wall so if you've run out of water they've got you covered.
  • Pick up your trash - this should go without saying - but leave the wall clean for everyone.

Where we went

I have a friend from graduate school who has lived in Beijing for many years and each time I'm in Beijing we've gone to the Great Wall together. This time D went above and beyond for us (it is J's first time in China after all) and asked around with his local friends for pointers on which section of the wall to see. D totally out did himself with choosing the Jinshaling section and with setting us up with a driver. Thanks D! 

The Jinshaling section of the Great Wall is about a two hour drive outside of Beijing. To get to Jinshaling we hired a driver (the cost about 600 RMB - 100$- was shared between four people) to bring us back and forth from the wall to Beijing.  At the entrance to this section of the Great Wall you pay 68 RMB. As you can see from my photos below, this section of the Great Wall is not very crowded. We also really lucked out, as the smog levels in Beijing were very low during our trip. Seeing blue skies is not typical.

Tips for hiring a driver: I've hired drivers A LOT in China. You can often get a reasonably priced ride that is WAY more comfortable than a local bus. If you hire a driver it is best to see if they can drop you off at one entrance of the wall and pick you up at another so you don't need to retrace your steps. Also, be sure to exchange phone numbers with the driver so you can call when you are nearing your agreed meeting point. Also, always agree to a price before hiring a driver and never pay a driver until you safely reach your final destination. Generally, this understood and the driver should not ask you for money other than what was agreed upon. If you don't speak Chinese it is best to ask a local friend or your hotel concierge to help you negotiate.

a map to the Jinshaling Great Wall

the Great Wall of China
 The Jinshaling Great Wall of ChinaThe Great Wall of China with clear skies

Clear skies and mountains

a defense window in the great wall

The Jinshaling Great Wall of China

defense buildings of the Great Wall of China

unrestored sections of the Great Wall
 unrestored sections of the Jinshaling Great Wall of China

The Great Wall

Have you visited the Great Wall of China? Do you want to visit it?

I'm linking up with Katie from Something Winnderful for her Social Saturday Linkup.

Ivoryton Village, Connecticut

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'll be posting about China again on Monday and Wednesday, but I thought today I would share an outing to Ivoryton, Connecticut. Ivoryton is a very small village that is part of the town of Essex. It was a booming town during the Industrial Revolution as it was built around an ivory factory. The ivory factory, which made ivory piano keys has been closed since 1989.

Around southeastern Connecticut, Ivoryton is known for its playhouse that was built in 1911. Ivoryton became the first self-supporting theater in the US and because of this drew famous actors such as Norma Terris and Katherine Hepburn. The Ivoryton Playhouse is now has shows year round. I've never seen a show at Ivoryton Playhouse but my parents have and they really enjoyed the theater. 

I visited Ivoryton with my sister in June as a part of my re-visit to Essex, Connecticut. Though I enjoyed my visit to Essex, I thought Ivoryton Village had little to offer other than the Ivoryton Playhouse and a cute shop called Gather. The Main Street was about two blocks long and many of the buildings beyond those two blocks were run-down and rather creepy. If you decide to visit this area I'd suggest spending your day in Essex followed by an evening play at Ivoryton Playhouse.

Ivoryton, Connecitcut

The Ivoryton Playhouse
The Ivoryton Playhouse

a small art gallery in Ivoryton

mountain laurels - the Connecticut state flower
Mountain Laurels - the Connecticut State Flower

a red bench in Ivoryton

The Ivoryton Library

The shop, Gather, in Ivoryton, Connecticut
A cute shop on the Ivoryton Main Street

Would you ever visit Ivoryton?

I'm linking up with the Local Adventurer's Link-Up with Esther and Jacob.