Tag Archives: travel blogger

New York-SoHo/NoLIta

31 May

Honestly, this is my first guide to any city ever written, and I don’t know how to go about it. Should I cover just the highlights? Should I just tell you everything that I did or should I just be an escapist and not write it at all.

While the third is my favorite, I asked some friends and they suggested i break it down into parts. While their idea was to divide it into where to eat, what to do, where to shop-I wanted to do it slightly differently. Mostly because I have spent most of my time in Soho, I wanted to make a guide just for it. The other parts to the NYC guide might be more generic, but here is my guide for you to Soho (and the neighbouring regions including Nolita)-the place I fell in love with and the place that saw me grow more in a month than I had in probably years!

Where to eat

  1. Balthazar  
    My roommate, the queen of Soho, took me here and I will always owe her for that. The place has very strong Godfather vibes making you feel like you walked right into a spot where all the Mafia lords are coming for a meeting (but like minus the goons and with an extra hint of polished glamour). However, even if you put the interior aside-the food itself there is divine. Their service is immaculate and the desserts are beyond delicious. That, and their bathroom entrance is one of the most rad one I have ever seen (so dungeonesque, if that is even a word).
  2. Rubirosa  
    If the Hadids say they love a particular place’s pizza, you have to check it out. And, oh my god, was I glad that we did. I have never had a better pizza in my life, that too an all-veg one. You better believe it guys, it was even tastier than many non-veg ones I have had. Plus the interior is totally groovy. The vibe is very laid back chic but still cosy (made more so that day because of the crazy rain outside) with a bar that made me want to skip sitting at a table altogether!
  3. Dominique Ansel
    Cronuts. Enough said. (p.s. the other baked goods here are spectacular too, so I will say try as many as you can without going into a food coma, but if you have to pick one, pick the cronuts!)

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    Dominique Ansel Cronut

  4. Georgetown Cupcakes
    The shop itself is gorgeous, but what makes it better is the street it is on. The cobblestone pavement, the cute stores around it and the laid back, quiet vibes of the area-you feel like you are walking in some old English town and not in loud, over crowded New York-loved it. Plus, I swear they have the best cupcakes ever. Ever…..Ever!!! (Just wanted to make a point here.) You can stay there and eat or get your cakes ‘to go’. Either ways, it is a must try!

The Instagram-able spots

  1. Cha cha matcha
    If you are a matcha fan, you have to go here. If you are a fan of cute little cafes being a little extra, you have to go here. If you want cute clicks of your coffee for your insta feed, you have to go here.
    In short, you have to go here, period!

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    Cha Cha Matcha

  2. Once upon a Tart
    Some of the most influential bloggers from NYC still turn to this spot for a picture in front of this picturesque bakery/cafe. Case in point, this picture of Blair from Atlantic pacific! If you are looking to up your insta-feed game, do stop here!

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    Once upon a tart

  3. Shuka 
    This is another NYC blogger favorite for their pictures and correctly so, seeing the blue store front of this cafe makes any outfit (and picture) pop!
  4. Sweet Moment Cafe 
    It is not exactly in Soho/Nolita but it is Little Italy which is right next to the two and, if you have a sweet tooth or crave cute colorful pictures, this place is a must see!

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    Sweet Moment 

  5. Greene street
    And other cobblestone streets, that Soho is famous for, provide the perfect character to any picture. The more towards the south of Soho you go, the more of its historic buildings you will find (i.e., get closer to Canal street if you want both the famous cobblestone streets and the historical cast iron buildings in your picture).

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The places worth experiencing

  1. Laduree Soho
    Getting a bit of the Parisian experience in your travels is always a fun idea, but this particular branch is always fully reserved for a reason. The little patio/open-air seating area that they offer in the back is divine. I preferred it at night when all the garden/fairy lights were on and the atmosphere seemed almost magical, almost Parisian but they are generally more frequented for their brunch. Either ways, don’t forget to get some macaroons to-go, because-why not?

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    Laduree Soho (the outdoor seating area)

  2. Little Cupcake bakeshop
    Again an eatery in this category? Odd? No, because I frequented this shop more for its ’70s diner vibe than their food (which was good but not my prime attraction). Like my friend justly said, it reminds one of the diner from Pulp Fiction. MUST EXPERIENCE!
  3. Jack’s wife Frieda
    Ok, last eatery, promise but although their food is ridiculous (read:ridiculously amazing), it is the festive vibes, the welcoming staff, the feeling as if you are in an Italian backyard with your friends, the cute gold pendants, and (most importantly) the adorable sugar packets that all contribute to the absolute, mind-blowing ridiculous-ness of the place. The green shakshuka has mystified me though. Why is it green and what makes it so good?

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  4. McNally Jackson Books
    So growing up one place I always wanted in my hometown was a book store where one could sit for hours and read but one that also offered coffee and snacks as needed. When I found out that God had blessed me with the exact place I had always day dreamed about right around the corner from my apartment I could not have been happier. A huge book store offering literature from all over the world including books on and from Russia, France, India-I was in my kind of paradise. But what added to the charm was the cute seating area/coffee shop in one of its corners complete with window seats and the nicest staff ever along with small seating arrangements all over the two floors of it. It is needless to add, but I went there almost daily. And if you go there even once, you will know why, especially if you believe paperbacks are better than e-books!
  5. Washington square park
    It is not Central Park, but what it lacks in its size it makes up for in its beauty. And because it is less crowded by tourists pouring in from all directions, it is the perfect spot for a quick picnic or to spend your evening with a book. Plus, it lets you see New Yorkers New Yorking (yes, I just turned it into a verb) and giving you a more wholesome experience of the city.
    Note:- It is not exactly part of the Soho/Nolita region but it was close enough for me to be able to walk here oftenn!
  6. Washington Square arch
    It is a part of the Washington Square Park, and not only an architectural landmark frequented by a large number of tourists but also a spot most first timers deem essential for a quick picture at. And once you see it, you will know why. But, word of caution, it can get pretty crowded.

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  7. Little Italy
    Ideally it is not a part of Soho but it is right next to it and Nolita and a walk away from both, so I am putting it here. It is not just the food you go here for, though, but rather for the whole ‘Italian” experience (which, having never been to Italy, I can’t really attest for but it felt Italian enough to me). Grab a friend, a camera and walk through it with your wallet full and your belly empty. You wont regret it! (Also, there is some really amazing wall art in this area!)
  8. Chinatown
    Mentioning this because of its proximity to Soho/Nolita, I honestly cant gush enough about this place. With buildings mirroring old Chinese architecture it simultaneously gives you a glimpse into Chinese cuisine and maybe some of the lifestyle there too, but for me it also reminded me a bit of the ‘bazaars’ from my home country and made me like it more. Again I found some of the most amazing street art in this area.
    My suggestion would be to take a walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy that lets you experience both more thoroughly (plus these are usually very cheap)!

The must stay ats-

  1. The Nomo SoHo hotel
    Although it is gorgeous to look at from outside and the walk inside is almost as good, it is the lobby that I fell in love with.  Buzzing with cliché New York hotel moments the space stays true to the grit of the city via its decor. And the rooms with their over-sized windows and welcoming interior are just what vacation dreams are made of! The NoMo Kitchen (sitting off the lobby and along the walkway entrance) is their cherry on top with food as good as it can get!
  2. Sixty SoHo
    Following a (remarkable) renovation, Sixty SoHo is a visual expression of the neighborhood’s most treasured qualities. It’s chic and vibrant and offers all the little things characteristic of any great stay, particularly on the dining front. Dinner at their Sessanta will leave you speechless, and their Gordon Bar is a perfect place to end a night!

Where to Shop

I would love to give a list but if you are visiting New York and want to shop without the craziness of Times Square (which I can never take) or the long lines of the 5th avenue stores, SoHo is your place. The vibe is fun but not obnoxiously loud, the staff has more time for you, the lines are shorter and the architecture is swoon-worthy. Honestly, even basic stores like Forever 21 look like taken right out of a painting. And every store is there, from Sephora to Chanel to Tiffany’s to high street brands to fancy grocery stores!

My favourite thing to do there was to walk along Broadway (literally as far as I could go) and try new stores every day (covered a lot in a month to be honest). Plus that allowed me to discover the small boutiques that offered the latest trends at prices that made me want to dance. And the streets off of Broadway are filled with even more brands and fun little places to eat. So, give shopping there a try for sure.

Note-Dean and DeLuca is a grocery-shopping-lover’s heaven. The fruits so fresh, the bakery items so good and the flowers always with the best fragrance! Shop there at least once if you can, you will love the experience. It is a little pricey but the food is worth it!

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Travelling tips for the anxiety ridden 

23 Mar

I’m not going to lie. I love traveling but so many times I’ve let my anxiety get the better of me and have ended up cancelling more of my plans than I would like to own up to. 
A perfect example? I’m right now in Orlando, Florida but I postponed this plan for two weeks before letting it be finalised. And then the day before my flight, I tried my very best to wiggle out of the plan. The only reason I didn’t succeed in that is that I practiced the tricks I’ve taught myself, concentrated on the pros in coming down here and hence was able to say yes to the plan and make my way over. 


The reality is that avoiding stress inducing stimuli (like traveling in this case) is easier for me than not but, over the last couple of years, I’ve learned some tricks that not only help me overcome said anxiety but that actually help my happiness and excitement for the trips shine through.
Today I want to share these tips with you in the hopes that maybe someone out there will benefit from them.

1. Make sure your packing is done on time

Before med school, when anxiety wasn’t my most constant companion, I would always be the one to pack last minute (usually on the day of my travels). But med school had me reconsidering my ways till I worked out a better, less stressful routine for myself. Now, I start with making a rough plan of “what to pack” a week (or more) before. And I begin the packing itself at least four days in advance. My aim is to have everything packed and zipped a day before my day of travel except for any essentials I need to use on that day. Those go in to my carry on.
This routine has saved me on two ends. One, I don’t end up forgetting to pack any key items. Two, I don’t have the additional stress of packing on the day of my flight, which usually itself is stressful enough. 

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2. Make lists



This is one trick I learned from my eldest brother, who makes lists for everything while travelling. And now so do I and I honestly can not explain how much easier travel has been for me since I started doing this. The three minimum lists I now make are one for each of my two bags and one for the documents that I need to be travelling with. Over time though I have even perfected the details of the said lists, especially the ones for either of my bags, because when I divide them into sub-headings like my “tech gear”, “bath essentials” and “cross body bags”-I rarely forget anything which is as much helpful as the act of making the lists itself. It calms me, leaving me reassured that I am not missing out on anything. Plus, if I need to go buy anything I am aware of that well in in time.  

3. Reach the airport ahead of time.



I know it sounds basic and boring at the same time, and it’s also something my sister loves teasing me over, but since I began doing this, flying has become less daunting for me, especially when I’m travelling alone. It keeps me off the edge and makes the long security checks less anxiety ridden for me. Once I am all checked in and sitting in the waiting lounge, the last dreads of my stress wash away and I can finally let the excitement take over me. 
Try it. Next time you are flying out reach the airport a half hour before you usually would. See how much it helps. 

4. Keep hydrated.



My way of avoiding airport and plane restrooms used to be as basic as ever-avoid drinking anything. Especially water. Can I just stop here and ask this-why didn’t anyone tell me to do otherwise? 
Dehydration never helps anyone. Ever. And not just my skin but my anxiety levels would suffer because of it. Dehydration means that your whole body is worked up and famished at the same time, your cooling system is off, your blood thicker and your blood pressure is on the higher end! As your body adjusts to all the changes, your heart rate quickens amd the sensation of light headedness increases adding to the sensation of an axiety attack. For a patient with anxiety, that sensation in itself is bad enough. So keep hydrated, it will keep you calm and your stress and anxiety controlled. Small trick but massive advantages. 

5. Avoid late in the night flights.



Nothing puts anyone more on edge than lack of sleep. And having your whole cycle disturbed will have you more worked up throughout your flight than is pleasant! My advice is to avoid late night flights, catch up on your sleep before flying out no matter how small the flight is and get a good healthy (not necassirily hearty) meal before your travels. A fresh, energised you will mean a lower stress level and a more fun flight! 
6.  Take that travel pillow.

Sleeping in flight was never easy for me. Hence the previous trick was always very important for me personally. However, I have over the time found small ways to help me get a nap or two on the flight. One of them has been to travel with a small crossbody or a fanny pack. When I have my important documents close to me and safe, I feel more able to relax. Add to that a neck pillow, an eye mask and a warm jacket and I can actually get a minute or two of shut eye. 
Note:- For longer flights I avoid taking anything except my hand bag on the plane with me; that is, if I can, I check in all my bags (for luggage). Try that on your next flight. That ease of having no bags to worry about will calm you like nothing else. 

7. Avoid coffee

I know, shocker! A caffeine junkee asking you to avoid coffee, bizarre! But I have good reason to do that. In fact make that two. One, coffee makes your kidneys over work, causing you to lose water faster, leading to easier dehydration, which will add to both your anxiety and number of bathroom visits. Without good use. Secondly, coffee itself is going to add to your anxiety, making the flight more “jittery” than memorable. 
 And, if none of those reasons are motivating enough for you, how about this one-the water they use to brew coffee in planes comes from the tap-and the water for that comes from storage tanks that are cleaned barely once a year. Testing on said water has repeatedly proven it to be unhealthy and even unsafe. So, if hygiene and health are a concern of yours, avoid that coffee/tea. 

8. Pack healthy snacks

Just as dehydration does, low sugar levels and low energy levels can add to your anxiety. But if you keep snacking on the high carb, high fat content foods that airplanes companies are happy to provide you with, you will end up feeling more bloated and less sated by the end of the day. They will only cause your sugar levels to sky rocket soon after the meal but then they’ll plummet. That is, your anxiety will go up soon after, again. My adivce is to pack with you food items with a low glycemic index (that is the ones that will let you stay sated for longer) which include most fruits (especially berries), oatmeal based snacks, sweet potatoes, bran and wheat or barley based snacks. It will allow you the ease to nibble whenever you are hungry as well as the ability to say no to the horrible food airlines are famous for. 

9. Eat healthy pre flight

I’m usually too worked up on the day of my flight to be able to eat much, but I know low sugar during the long airport lines is not going to help me. So my compromise is to always eat something healthy and fulfilling before I leave the house, even if it’s not a proper meal. It allows me to navigate myself throughout with high energy levels and low stress levels.

10. Take screenshots 

Of everything-from your tickets to boarding pass to the address of where you will be staying to important phone numbers. You never know when your internet will bail on you. And knowing you’ve back up will keep you calm no matter what. 


11. Take charge 

Always, always, always keep a fully charged battery pack with you for your mobile along with at least two charging cables and the corresponding plugs. Nothing causes havoc on your anxiety levels like a mobile with a low battery. Or realising you forgot your charging cable behind, mid run to your connecting flight. 

12. Be prepared 

Know that no matter how much planning you put into the details of your trip, somethings are just not in your control. Like flight delays. So go in with the “I’m ready for changes in my plan” mindset and keep reminding yourself that extra stress will not change the status quo.
So, there they are. My twelve main tricks to keep my travel anxiety in control. Most of it goes down when I’m travelling with someone, therefore I’ll say these are much more important for those of us who travel alone. 
What tricks do you use to keep your anxiety in check? Let me know in the comments below, maybe you know something that might help us all! 
Also, if you’ve been to, or are from, Orlando, Florida, any local recommendations for fun things to do here (other than the theme parks) would be highly appreciated.
Much love,
Gull

Twenty-something lessons learned

21 Aug

As I turn a year older this week, I sit back and reflect on the year that has gone by. And as I do so, I can’t help but notice all the lessons life has taught me in it. And although some of them were more bitter than not to live through, they were nonetheless important experiences for me to face, to learn from.

Today, I want to share some of those lessons with you, in the hopes that maybe they will aid someone out there in some way. After all, its best to learn from others’ mistakes than to go making your own, right?

  1. Sometimes you will trust the wrong people. It will hurt but you have to realize that it was not your fault and you will have to forgive yourself for it.
  2. Words can hurt more than you realize, so be careful with them.
  3. No one is irreplaceable, except your mother! If someone leaves your side, it is only to make space for another person. So stop fretting over the ones who walk away!
  4. On that note, remember this-hold your family close to yourself but your mother even closer. She is God’s greatest gift to you!
  5. Stop thinking about what others think of you and stop trying to see yourself from their eyes. Don’t re-type that text. Don’t reread what you sent! Learn to see yourself from your own eyes, learn to love what you see. Celebrate every part of yourself!
  6. Believe in miracles. That girl with the three rounds of failed pregnancies will call you from the hospital nursery post the birth of her twins. Your friend will get to marry the man she always loved. The class fellow who seemed to fail at everything will finally meet up with you and brag about all that they have achieved.
  7. Absolute honesty can at times hurt more than you can imagine. Don’t learn to lie, but do learn to identify the exact point where you need to, well, shut up.
  8. Love freely, but expect none in return. If you do, that is recipe for disaster. If you don’t, you shed half of your troubles.
  9. Buy those Stan Smiths. They never go out of style!
  10. Use the words that broke you the most as your biggest strength. Let them drive you to be your best self!
  11. Humility is the sexiest attribute to possess. That and intelligence.
  12. Opening about your insecurities isn’t easy, but if you talk to the right people about them you will be fine. If you choose the wrong person, don’t worry. The right ones will come along soon enough and help erase any harm done.
  13. Don’t pick up that call your instinct tells you not to. F**k your heart. Trust your mind in this one,
  14. Put your strengths in a box, block out everything else and focus on just them. Everything will then fall in place.
  15. Also, block every form of hater and hatred from your life. Don’t be mean, but just don’t give space to negativity in your life.
  16. Being young means you will make mistakes no matter how careful you are, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy life a bit.
  17. You can’t control every situation, it is just not humanly possible. So if things don’t go according to plan, don’t beat yourself down on it. Instead let yourself go with the flow for once!
  18. It is okay to have dreams different from your peers, you don’t have to want what others around you want.
  19. If your career is your number one priority, not only is that perfectly fine, but anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If they love you, they will support you no matter what, that is how simple the equation is. No ‘raised to the powers’, no variables in this one!
  20. Some people will hurt you no matter how much you love them and some will love you no matter how much hurt them. Cut out the former kind from your life, and start valuing the later group. Those are the ones that will be sitting proudly in the front row, cheering you on for every single one of your accomplishments, because they will be part of the reason you got on the stage in the first place!
  21. Your mom was right about there being a specific way to fold your laundry and to do the dishes and to dry the dishes. She was also spot on in her ways to identify and avoid fuc*boys. In fact, she was right about almost everything. You are old enough now to admit that.
  22. But maybe not old enough yet to admit how much like her you have become!
  23. Don’t let yourself be walked over by anyone, no matter how important they are to you or how much you love them. No one should have that kind of power over you, period. 

 

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