Archive of ‘travel’ category

Fall in Pictures: NY, CT, MA

Before I finish my procrastination of packing for California (taking off tomorrow, and thanks to JetBlue, for the price of two frozen yogurts!), I thought I’d share with you a few snaps from my travels. I’ve been discovering upstate New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and watching shooting starts (just thinking of it gives me chills) and sunrises with friends on New England beaches. If you want to see more, follow my adventures on Instagram. Au revoir in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Big Sur!

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve

Part of the Appalachian Trail in Goshen, CT

Acting as the Baywatch on a Beach in Scituate, MA

A peaceful sunrise in Scituate

Standing on the balcony wrapped in a blanket, with a cup of tea in my hands

Fall has arrived to Cambridge, MA

Harvard University

Delicious vegan meal at Life Alive

And here’s a little bit of NYC. Just because I live here, just because I can now say I love it without hesitation, just because of all the opportunities it is giving me, and just because Gilt City has featured a few of my photos within the #LoveYourCityMore campaign.

NYC from Brooklyn

The place I call home, Soho

Windy Highline

Sunset over Meatpacking from the Highline. #loveyourcitymore

A cloudy sunrise from Brooklyn Bridge Park after a visit to my favorite Abhaya Yoga

It’s the traveler’s spirit. Always looking for another train, for another plane, for another road, for another open door, for another fresh experience.

One Day in NYC: Photo Diary

My friend Anna snapped a pic of me walking in my neighborhood

SoHo, I love you

Fuerza Bruta performance – very different, at times breathtaking

Antique Garage on Mercer street is a hidden gem

Antique décor, delicious food, good company, and live jazz and sounds of SoHo in the background. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night

No utensils are the same, and the check was brought to us in a cute antique tea box

All photos were edited with Cross Process for iPhone.

Make It Count

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxfZkMm3wcg&w=560&h=315

To me, there is no better way to get inspired than to see new places, meet new people, learn about their cultures, and socialize over local food. This is why I love this video… get inspired!

p.s. I’m back to NYC after a road trip through Arizona, Nevada and CA, and then another trip to SoCal to spend time with my family. Will be posting the best of my documented memories soon!

Go Do: Road Trip!

I’ve been counting down the days until one of my dearest friends from college, Valechka, comes to visit me from Russia! T-minus 3 days, and she is here! I have a list of a hundred things to show, do, and eat with her. Because she spent 3 years of her life in China (where I got to visit!), hopefully my neat place in Nolita, just a few blocks away from Chinatown, will make her feel at home.

Do you know that feeling, when someone special is about to visit from far away, and you just want to show them every beautiful piece of your life? When this life is based in New York, it’s even harder to narrow down the list. Anyway, after 6 days together in New York (which will include my first ever Capoeira Batizado with Motumbaxé Capoeira and a boat ride with our performance, which everyone is welcome to join!), we will embark on a grandiose road trip.

The Map of Our 1,000-Mile Journey

Two girls, one boy (childhood friend Misha is also joining all the way from Moscow), a convertible, and an inexhaustible willingness to explore. Here’s the rough itinerary of this road trip of life.

1. We will start off in Phoenix, AZ and spend a day in rocky Sedona.

2. After spending the night with a hospitable professor in Flagstaff, AZ, we will move onto the Grand Canyon. There, we will hike, walk around the Grand Canyon Village and take everything that the alternative spirit of the place will have to offer.

3. Spending the night in Kingman, AZ, we will make our way to the Hoover Dam.

4. Hoover Dam will lead to Las Vegas, where we will spend the day (Hard Rock Cafe Pool) and night (Nove and Moon, and then Aria Hotel thanks to Jetsetter.com). The next morning, I have somehow planned to wake up early to meet a local relative for breakfast before his meetings.

5. Next, we will start off to California with a soundtrack from Metro Station. Stopping at the ghost town Calico to see the mining town as it was back in 1890s, we will drive to Los Angeles. There, we will spend the night on a boat in Long Beach (thanks Airbnb for alternative accommodations solutions!).

7. We’ll begin the day by hiking to the Hollywood sign and exploring the area. Griffith Observaroty, Beverly Hills, and all the good stuff! Thanks to the hospitality of my friend Erwin, we will spend the night at his place in the Hollywood Hills after having a Japanese dinner with a view at Yamashiro.

And This is Exactly How The Trip is Going to Look Like!

8. We will ride bikes in Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and then watch a Shakespeare play under the stars in Laguna Beach. The night will be spent at a beautiful house in the hills of Laguna (once again thanks to Airbnb).

9. Making our way to Malibu, we will do what a true local would do on a Saturday morning – surf! Then have a meal somewhere on the beach, drive to the neat little Danish town of Solvang and spend the night at the cozy Wine Valley Inn.

10. On the last day of the majestic road trip, we will do our best to explore the Santa Barbara Wine Country to its fullest (any winery recommendations?), to complete the journey with some good local pinot noir.

Can’t wait! Starting off on June 17. If you have done a similar trip or just have suggestions on what to do/see/eat, I’d love to hear them! Thankfully to my friends, who are just as crazy about traveling and eating, I already have a pretty solid list for the road trip. T-minus 10 days!

Yoga Retreats: Let’s Discuss!

Ksenia at Koh Yao Noi © whereisksenia

Happy Monday! I’ve been getting more and more emails and comments about Island Yoga – a  yoga retreat on the beautiful Koh Yao Noi island, Thailand, that I reviewed here earlier. Just wanted to let you know that I would love to share my experience with anyone who wishes – so please feel free to comment below or email me if you have any questions! I would also love to hear from those of you who have been to other retreats and can recommend good ones.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin

 

Begin Anywhere

I’m relaxing at my desk: Candle lit, I’m sipping on some chilled coconut water. After 5 hours of dance/martial art in two days, I can’t think of anything better to do on this Monday evening.

Ballet, Samba and Capoeira are completely different types of classes: they all bring a great dose of satisfaction (and muscle pain), but in a very different way. I’m in my mid-twenties, and having seen people of ALL ages in my class yesterday made me realize that I’m not that old. It’s not too late. As the card on my newly mounted board says, “Begin Anywhere.”

With live piano music accompanying the class, ballet was very meditative. Hopefully my meditation will help me to point those toes like a real ballerina.

Samba was fun, as always. It makes me want to run away to Brazil, wear feathers, and do samba, samba, samba!

My first capoeira class was challenging, exhausting and out of this world in a good way – it makes you feel the kind of strength in your body that no dance does. I mean, when a muscular Brazilian guy tells you to kick or to work your abs, how do you say no to him?

My Version of SoHo

Dance aside, I’ve been exploring my new area and falling in love with it more deeply with every step. Realizing that two of my favorite brunch places – Cafe Gitane (the best avocado toast in the world) and Tartinery (ridiculously good tartines with fresh prosciutto and ricotta) – are just a few blocks away from me makes it even better. I’ve also found a book store/coffee shop spot that I’ll try out as my new Borders, and a rice pudding shop called Rice to the Riches – overpriced, but worth a visit or two.

Anyhow, food spots of SoHo and Nolita deserve a separate blog post, but for now I have a QUESTION. Does anyone know if there’s an app that allows you to note local places that you want to go to? A lot of time I pass by a restaurant, its dim lights and beautiful atmosphere enchant me, and by the time I’m picking a spot for dinner, the location has completely escaped my mind. Solution, anyone?

Thailand Island Yoga: Retreat Review

On a boat trip © Ksenia N.

Anytime I go on a trip, I leave my expectations behind. I go with an open heart, and I come back filled with the joy of new adventures, new people and revelations.

In “Thailand: My Eat, Pray, Love Trip” post, I outlined the itinerary of my spontaneous trip, planned in between writing master’s thesis and packing my San Francisco studio for the big move to New York. I had already booked my carefully coordinated flights – all in all, six. My mind was busy with everyday errands, so much that I didn’t even realize that my dream of experiencing a beautiful island yoga retreat was about to come true. My reasons for choosing a retreat over a party-filled weekend, say, in Mexico or Miami were simple: finishing school and beginning a new, busier phase of my life, and searching for a way to release stress accumulated in the months of writing thesis and figuring out which people I want to have in my life and which I don’t. Classic yoga retreat material.

One windy December day in San Francisco, I presented my thesis – a business plan for a high-end discount online store with one of a kind virtual styling services (only to find out a few months later that discount industry leader Gilt Groupe implemented  one of the concepts I used for my plan, something that hadn’t existed on the market before). 24 hours later, having left behind all my cares and worries, I was sitting on a plane on my way to Tokyo, then to Bangkok, then to Phuket. My Bangkok food adventures with Linda of My Hungry Monster deserve a separate post, so I will start with the “Pray” part of my amazing trip.

At Phuket airport, crowds of pale tourists were arriving and crowds of hungover tourists departing from the most popular party destination in Thailand. I took a taxi straight to Bang Rong Pier, where I hopped on a wooden tail-boat operated by a young fisherman with an iPod in his pocket and a look of deep, but somehow warm longing. The boat was red, the wind was refreshing, the view unbelievable: restless blue sky, tiny green islands and harbors filled with gracious white yachts. In that moment, I realized: THIS IS IT.

Boat trip to Koh Yao Noi © Ksenia N.

Review: Island Yoga (Koh Yao Noi, Thailand)

I found out about Koh Yao Noi Island Yoga retreat online (Thailand Yoga Retreats). It’s based on Koh Yao Noi, a small island that has only 5,000 inhabitants and was named one of Thailand’s last unspoilt islands by The Guardian. Koh Yao Noi is located in Phang Nga province, next to slightly more touristy Koh Yao Yai, with significantly larger and more heavily populated Phuket and Krabi on the either sides of Koh Yao brothers.

Koh Yao Noi is a perfect getaway in itself: besides beautiful flora and fresh food, small island is known for its friendly people who smile to every passer-by. A big part of the hospitality industry on Koh Yao Noi is run by local families, which makes the whole experience more personalized. And so it is at the Island Yoga base camp: run by the kind and sarcastic Mr. Bey and his family, it hosts yogis from all over world in the most hospitable way. You can choose your accommodation according to your likes and budget: for a raw experience that includes no hot water but offers all the basics, go for Budget Bungalow. If you’d rather warm showers and your own fridge in a renovated room, pick Deluxe Bungalow. If you can’t live without an AC, Deluxe Bungalow option is for you.

Deluxe Bungalow at Koh Yao Noi Island Yoga © Ksenia N.

If you’re looking for a truly luxe experience, look no further and go to The Paradise. The chic resort offers yoga classes taught by the same teachers as the retreat reviewed here, only in a more luxurious setting.

The Paradise Koh Yao Noi © Ksenia N.

I was blissfully happy in my budget bungalow, despite an occasional centipede crawling in my shower. I started my day by waking up to the sunset, doing a walking meditation to the beach, and then beginning the group asana practice. After morning yoga we had breakfast that consisted of delicious tropical fruits, porridge, toasts and eggs, and then used our free time to discover the island – usually by motorbikes, and sometimes by kayaks or local taxis. When I say “we”, I am talking about a group of very international, interesting and shining people that I met on the retreat: specifically a guy named Bong from Scotland and ladies Romy and Merle – from Australia and Netherlands. Although I expected a very solitary experience, it turned out to be very social and fun, but in a more mindful and peaceful way than your usual vacation with friends.

Yoga Studio at Island Yoga Koh Yao Noi © Ksenia N.

Our traditional place to eat lunch was Suntisook – a restaurant (and bungalows for those interested in other accommodation options) managed by young and extremely enjoyable Mr.E (they now have a Facebook page). I had never been keen on Thai curries or any spicy food, for that matter, until I had eaten at this small family-run restaurant. Massaman Curry, Coconut Shrimp, Pad Thai or anything made-to-order is mind-blowingly delicious at Suntisook. I have to admit that even though no austerity accompanied my yoga sessions, I still had the feeling of lightness in my body the whole time in Thailand. The secret is in fresh, local food and healthy portions (not your usual American size).

Island beauty during boat trip organized by Mr.E from Suntisook © Ksenia N.

Let’s get back to the yoga classes: they took place twice a day and were taught by Kristie and Tammy – two young and inspiring yoginis from US and Canada. Every other evening we did something special: one time we learned and practiced EFT (emotional freedom technique); the other time we practiced a one-hour heart meditation. One hour in lotus position without moving is not a joke! Yet according to yoga wisdom, when you let go of resistance, you discover the strength in yourself that you never thought you have. That’s what happened to me, when I did an unsupported headstand the next morning – for the first time.

SUMMARY: If you’re looking for a true getaway that includes yoga, meditations, like-minded people, beautiful sea and delicious and fresh Thai food – Koh Yao Noi Island Yoga retreat is for you. I would hurry up before the island gets overcrowded with tourists and loses its authenticity, along with (still) very low prices on everything compared to the more well-known islands. Read on to see Koh Yao Noi Island Retreat pricing…

(more…)

Thailand: My “Eat, Pray, Love” Trip

Some people need cigarettes, some need their job, some can only be happy when they’re in a relationship. All I need is to travel. Here is a breakdown of my spontaneously planned trip to Thailand, which unintentionally imitates the journey described in one of my favorite books of the year: “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

EAT

My first two days will be spent in Bangkok. Despite friends’ advice to stay away from the big city, I want to see this eclectic Asian megapolis. Especially because one my most inspiring and adventurous friends, Linda, has just moved to Bangkok from Los Angeles. Linda is a 100% foodie. She takes even more pictures of food than I do (impressive!), goes to all major food events and writes a blog about her foodie experiences called My Hungry Monster. A few weeks ago Linda invited me to have lunch with her in Thailand. Little did she know that I would actually come all the way to Bangkok and claim my Pad Thai.

Thai Food. Photo Courtesy of Mekhong Thai

PRAY

During the last two years, I have really been getting into yoga. It’s not just about perfecting the Warrior III pose: it’s a philosophy and way of thinking that has been teaching me how to live in the moment. I have been dreaming of going to a yoga retreat, but finding a good one in close proximity of US is not an easy task when you’re on a student budget. Long story short: flying from San Francisco to to Phuket and taking a ferry to a secluded island for a 4-day yoga retreat is cheaper than any kind of yoga vacation in the Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii. It didn’t take me more than one day to make the decision. The bungalow and four days filled with yoga and meditations on an island called Koh Yai Noi are booked.

Koh Yao Noi Island

LOVE

Ok, this is the part of my trip does not go according to the book. The last three days of my journey are going to take place in Phuket’s largest tourist area – Patong Beach. With a rooftop swimming pool and a 10-minute walk from the white sand beach, the only other thing I will need for complete bliss will be a cold young coconut in my hands. As for love… the only love that I am planning to share while there is with the elephants, which I hear are treated very poorly during the tourist safaris. Besides visiting the major Buddhist temples, I am planning to go to Phi Phi – the island where “The Beach” was filmed.

Aspery Hotel in Phuket

Land of delicious food, sun and massages, here I come!

1 2