Back in the Boardwalk Empire

July 5, 2014

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I thought I would put together a little travel guide to this city on “the shore” that still has a lot of charm if you know what to do and where to eat. Atlantic City, New Jersey, doesn’t have to be all casinos and performers in spandex suits (unless you want it to be, ha.) Extra thanks goes to all my relatives who contributed their favorite places! ocean-city-carousel
I was in Atlantic City this past month to meet up with my family and one of my best friends, Amber. I only had a week off so it worked out having the city be our meeting point. (Atlantic City is a 45-minute drive from Philadelphia and about 2 hours from New York City).

I stayed in my grandmother’s quaint old (and unairconditioned) house, where she has lived for 64 years. Unfortunately, she was sick in the hospital, but it was great to be there for her, and to return to a place where I have such lovely memories. Both of my parents are from Atlantic City, so growing up we always made the 10- to 12-hour drive from North Carolina at least once a year. It’s a city by the sea that will always feel like home to me.

Here’s a quick guide to some Atlantic City classics:
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Brunch:
Shelley’s Cafe (Ventnor) – I recommend the chocolate chip pancakes ;)
Hannah G’s (Ventnor)
Gilchrist’s Restaurant (Margate) – Best hotcakes around!
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Lunch:
The Irish Pub (Atlantic City) – A meal for about $3. Need I say more? It’s also a hotel. I like its tagline: “Irish soul. American attitude.”
White House Subs (Atlantic City) – Amazing Italian subs in a 1950s diner setting.
Tony’s Baltimore Grill (Atlantic City– Go here for the pizza.
Manco & Manco Pizza (Ocean City) – Because you need more pizza.
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Dinner:
The Crab Trap (Somer’s Point) – I recommend the crab cakes, like the name suggests.
Smitty’s Clam Bar (Somer’s Point) – excellent seafood in an authentic setting
Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern (Atlantic City) – my favorite Italian restaurant of all time that has been open since 1935. Each dining area has a different sports theme with old photos showcasing the local greats. We might have gone here three nights in a row… haha. Hey, it’s also within walking distance of the outlet shopping ;)
Luciano Lamberti’s Sunset Marina & Restaurant (Margate) – a picturesque spot for a casual dinner. We had a great time celebrating my mom’s birthday here. mom-michael
Snacks & drinks:
James’s/Fralinger’s Salt water taffies (Atlantic City & Ocean City) – This makes a really nice gift to bring back for friends/colleagues. Salt water taffies originated in Atlantic City in the 1880s, and these are the best.
Johnson’s Popcorn (Ocean City) – a famous icon on the Ocean City boardwalk that is made fresh in front of you.
Maynard’s Cafe (Margate) – Go here to drink with the locals.
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What to do:
Tour Lucy the Elephant (a six-story-high elephant that was built in 1881 that was once a library)
Go see the horse races
Bike the boardwalk (You can rent bikes here, but remember there are special hours, depending on the season, for biking fun.)
Chill on the beach (Make sure you have cash to buy a “beach badge” on the beach as most beaches aren’t free in N.J.)
Explore Ocean City (check out a movie at the old Strand theatre, where my dad saw Jaws when it first came out, and then did his Atlantic City Beach Patrol swim test in the ocean the next day, ha. Oh the horror.)
Go shopping at the outlets (these stores have some of the best prices around. Make sure to get a coupon booklet from the main office there and turn in your receipts for extra bonus offers.)
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The salty ocean air and lack of humidity was a welcome respite from Hong Kong. As was being able to have proper Italian food :)

Have you ever been to Atlantic City?

☁ -kristin

1,600 pandas invade Hong Kong

July 1, 2014

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Papier-mache pandas, created by French artist Grangeon, are seen displayed in front of the Tian Tan Buddha at Hong Kong's Lantau

Have you heard about the panda flashmobs that have been happening around Hong Kong these past two weeks? (They’ve shown up at iconic Hong Kong locations like the airport, Big Buddha and Victoria Park). Diarmuid and I went to check them out on Saturday at the art venue PMQ in Central, where they will be until July 17. They’ve landed here as part of a world tour by a French artist and the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness that there are only 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild.
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pandas-pandas The pandas are made of paper machet by the artist, Paulo Grangeon, and each one is unique. You can even apply to adopt one through a lottery system here. Diarmuid and I are applying as our little Hong Kong apartment definitely is missing a baby panda. Don’t you think? ha ;) pandas-everywhere

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^^Me, my 1,600 pandas and one little photobomber.

Hope everyone is having a lovely week!

☁ -kristin

How to beat jet lag, a travel foe

June 28, 2014

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Hi… we’re back! Apologies for our absence. I was off traveling to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to visit family and decided to take a small break from blogging. I would offer you TastyKakes and salt water taffies as condolences if this weren’t the internet. ;)

I’m feeling rejuvenated now that I’ve conquered one of the most annoying side effects of worldwide travel: jet lag.

The truth is that our stone-age bodies were never built to travel countries, let alone continents, in a single day. And so jet lag is really your body saying, “What just happened?”

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A fact that is often noted in my office is that it can take up to a day for your body to adjust to each time zone crossed. It’s a 12-hour difference from Hong Kong to New York, and so technically it can take six to nine days to get back on schedule. It usually takes me about five days to begin to feel normal again, but it’s worse when you’re traveling from west to east.

Here’s some tips on how to lessen the effects of this foe:

Leave home well-rested Pack two days ahead of time to make sure you get a full night’s sleep before you leave. (I’m still working on this one, ha).

Adapt to your new time zone Change your watch once you get on the plane. (No watching Alien at what is now 3 a.m., sorry.) Once you arrive at your destination, stay awake until an early bedtime so that you don’t wake up in the middle of the night, ready for breakfast.

Have sleep aids ready Use melatonin or a sleeping pill if it’s OK with your doctor. (My best experience with jet lag was when I had a prescription sleeping pill. I just took half of it, which was potent enough to make me pass out and not feel drowsy afterwards.)

Be kind to your body Drink lots of water, have an eye mask and ear plugs and move around when on the plane to prevent dehydration and swelling, which will make sleeping uncomfortable. (I always choose an aisle seat when flying internationally and try to avoid caffeine).

On my next flight, I’m going to try out ordering a no-salt meal. I read recently that because our taste buds work less effectively at high altitudes, airlines put extra spices and salt into our food to try to make it taste somewhat good. Salt, in turn, leads to swelling, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel or look particularly great with huge ankles. What tips would you recommend when flying? Have you figured out a good remedy to jet lag?

☁ -kristin

p.s. And in case you missed it, here’s my top ten must-haves when traveling by air.