Friday, October 23, 2015

Why I Travel

About four years ago, I went to this surf / yoga camp. At the time it was called Dreamcatcher House and after the recommendation of an avid surfer (a family friend) and some trusted Trip Advisor reviews, I decided this place was worth checking out. There was one main house with a newly built guest house which we filled up for a week of much anticipated surfing lessons.

Now, that place has evolved into a village and is a beautifully curated brand boasting a furniture line as well. With a Millennial-packed Instagram following, it isn't quite as easy to book a getaway to this jungle paradise.

The beauty of this place, and probably more so in the early years, was that it was a gathering of like-minded people somewhere off the grid in Nicaragua, Costa Rica's cheaper younger brother. A mix of entrepreneurs, surfers, spiritual dreamers & doers, it attracted the kind of person who can "vacation" without electricity, forgo their reflection in the mirror and ignore the confines of a set "schedule." It appealed to the individual who without question, will pile on the back of a pickup truck for dinner, not asking where to but more so enjoying the ride there.

It's the closest thing I've experienced to as summer camp for adults without all the organized activities. And even though that week, I only surfed (ok, attempted to) for one day, what I did gain from it was a really great friend and a real reminder of why I travel. It's the people you meet along the way. Her energy, contagious. Her authenticity, enviable. Her passion for helping people, admirable.

I reconnected with Bailey before and after her 9-month project in India. Should I have visited her in India? Regretfully, yes. Instead, we brunched in Brooklyn, walked around Central Park and visited the Guggenheim. I wished her well as she heads home to start a new chapter back home in Toronto. What's next for us? Who knows? Maybe a trip to Canada or to revisit Nicaragua. Or somewhere entirely new. That's the beauty of making friends in new places.

Stay bitten ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wanderlust Wednesday: Portugal

I know, I haven't posted since beginning of July. Maybe I needed a break from spending too much time in front of the computer. Or maybe, I opted to spend more time at the beach with a really great guy. Well, I realize it's been a while and in the spirit of Wanderlust Wednesday, I figure I'd give you a place we can both Google or daydream about. 

I was told at the end of the July by my friend Aaron "Your next TBB adventure MUST be to Portugal to stay at the Onyria de Marinha Resort. It's the Andaz Maui of Europe!!! It's absolutely spectacular!!"

I made a quick mental note of that and kept it top of mind. From August on, whether I was at a dinner party or chatting up some local surfers, Portugal was a constant topic of conversation. To bump Portugal to the top of my starry-eyed wishlist, my friend and well-seasoned traveler, Michelle texted me these photos from her recent stopover from a work trip in Amsterdam. Might be time to revisit that "work hard, travel harder" motto...

Stay bitten ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Run to (in) Cuba!

About a month ago, I went to Cuba. When I returned to the US (with working wifi) the trip took over my Instagram feed. But even more so, past reliving the trip thru photos, this one has really resonated with me. I'm in the constant mindset that there's so much of the world to see that I often opt for the new instead of revisiting a destination. 

But for me, Cuba is different
It's the pulse of Havana that permeates long after that mojito is finished.
And with that, I'm going back in November (12-16th to be exact).
And I want you to come with me! 

Join me in vibrant Havana for the Cuba Marathon, Half-Marathon or 10k. You can be a spectator if running isn't your thing. Regardless, this grants you legal entry to Cuba with all the logistics taken care of, thanks to the amazing people behind Cultural Contrast Cuba.

Use the promo code: RUNNER1 for $100 discount off the trip

Spots are limited.
Registration is due by July 31st.  
It is first-come, first-served and will sell out quickly, faster than I run that's for sure. 

Interested? Email me at
All trip details can be found on Cultural Contrast Cuba - click here.
Feel free to share this with friends and family who might be interested in joining us!

Stay bitten ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I would think that's Spanish for "Welcome, have a mojito." Then again, my Spanish isn't so good. The mojitos on the other hand, well, that's something to write home about. 

Our first stop in Havana is where every trip to Cuba should begin or end - in the bar of Hotel Nacional. From afar, it looked as though we left Miami for The Breakers in Palm Beach. Iconic, legendary and a World Heritage Site in its' own right, Hotel Nacional is the Cuban sister of this stately Floridian resort. Upon entry into the hotel, I felt like I was stepping back in time. Maybe it was the tiles below me that revealed the year it opened, 1930. 

Call it touristy, I don't care because if it worked for the likes of Hemingway, Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Mickey Mantle, then it most certainly will please me. The courtyard, as seen in Javier Bardem's breakout film Before Night Falls, warrants a lazy afternoon or a long coffee date. Our tour group made our way through the courtyard straight to the hotel bar where we learned that a refreshing welcome cocktail would be a standard Cuban greeting going forward. Hola y muchos gracias! 

Stay bitten ;)


Last night you either rewatched the Game of Thrones finale, caught the Stanley Cup Final or spotted this travel bug hop off the bus in Havana on PBS' News Hour. All week long, at 7pm, PBS will be highlighting Cuba today, the Biennial, our visit to an organic farm on our incredible culinary trip with Cultural Contrast Cuba, featuring Chef Jamie DeRosa of Instagram-worthy Miami's Tongue & Cheek (and coming soon, Izzy's Fish & Oyster Bar). For me, I was lucky enough to catch the PBS special (albeit on a laptop) with the guys who run Cultural Contrast Cuba at Juliette, a Parisian restaurant in Williamsburg. If only we had the 30+ others in our group, we might have closed down the restaurant just as we did in the paladares in Havana.

Like what you saw? (Minus the close-up of me drinking champagne). Register for one of Cultural Contrast Cuba's upcoming trips, found here, and you will receive a $100 discount if you mention the PBS coverage before July 31, 2015. Use the promo code "PBS" in the additional notes field on their online registration form.

Stay tuned, stay bitten ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Apples to Apples

It all dates back to Eve, taking a bite out of the apple after she was told many of times not to. As American citizens, we have more freedoms and liberties than the rest of our neighbors. This is the land where opportunities are more often than not good and plenty. We have become accustomed to hearing yes, rather than no. Forbidden? Rarely ever.

I'm the girl with a map hanging in my apt, with pins of where I've been, my favorite destinations, upcoming trips and ones that show places where I'd one day love to go. Cuba was one spot on the map that remained out of the question. I could not leave the Big Apple to take a bite out of a Cuban one. It was always top of mind, tempting me otherwise and like most things off limits, it only enhanced my curiosity from afar.

A little more than four months after the ban had been lifted, I was no longer tempted by the fruit of another. It was only fitting that I would sign up for a Culinary focused trip (via Cultural Contrast Cuba) to get a true taste of Cuba (and not get in trouble for it).

On May 20th, we arrived in Cuba, to an airport that felt very much like many of Caribbean airports, like everyone was on island time and the air conditioning must have been broken. Weird coincidence but Cuba gained its official independence from the US on that day in 1902, as the Republic of Cuba. And here we were, a group of 30+ Americans, looking out on foreign territory from above on that very same day, 113 years later

The window seat always excites me. When I'm not spooned up against it, with my head back, mouth open, snoring for whomever wants to take that embarrassing photo of me, I've got my face pressed looking to the world below. The change in topography from the flickering skyline to the plots of farmland, I'm continuously intrigued by the land beneath the clouds.

To finally (and legally) land in Cuba, well, that's one small step for me, one giant leap for America.

Stay bitten ;)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Travel Tip Tuesday: BYOP

If you get the chance to travel with either of your parents, don't hesitate, just go. If it's to Cuba on a culinary trip during the Havanna Biennial with my mom, GO.

Stay bitten ;)

The Road Less Traveled

In my eyes, my parents are pioneers. They ventured down the one pothole-clad road in Costa Rica decades before it became the highly frequented "Costa Rica." What was meant to be a cross-country vacation felt more like a jerky bull-ride for us passengers in the backseat, a stick-shift video game for my father and well, a car-sick ridden adventure for the whole family. Before the hipsters made their winter weekend getaways to Tulum, my parents took us there. They were always mapping out our next trip, forgoing the traditional in place of uncharted territory.

One place they never agreed upon was Cuba. My father, the devout Republican, would always so "No, Linda, the government does not want us going" while my mother, the bohemian-spirited Demorcrat, would suggest alternative entry points "Toronto? Grand Cayman? Mexico?"
In January of 2015, the US Government lifted the ban allowing Americans legal entry into Cuba. No, this does not mean the floodgates have opened, making way for cruise ships of tourists clad with fanny packs. Not yet. To enter Cuba, you still need to have a reason - twelve to be exact. And an organized trip provides easiest access for that.

With Cuba on the cover of just about every publication (from GQ to Travel and Leisure), it quickly became an exercised topic of conversation. Over dinner, it inevitably came up. My mom, knowing my father was still reluctant, looked hopeful to me as a travel companion, knowing that I say yes more often than no. She suggested Cuba in December, you know, when netflix season picks up in New York.

Of the many things I learned in the past year, the underlying answer is that the time is now. To do the things you love, to go to the places you've always dreamed of, to be with the people who you hold so close. Not December, not next year, but today. Mom, we must go now. I don't know where life will take me within the upcoming months but tomorrow, let's plan for Cuba.

Stay bitten ;)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Brooklyn to Brookline

Of the many reasons to travel, food is so very high on my list because it brings people together in the best of ways. My campfriend Jess and his wife relocated from Brooklyn to Boston and have been putting their kitchen to good use. When they invited me up to Boston, with the chance that our other campfriend, Jenna (the head chef of Chilmark Tavern in Martha's Vineyard) would be in his kitchen, I took a cue from this month's issue of Bon Appetit magazine and showed up. On the cover, it reads "Will Fly For Food." For me, it would be a taxi, a bus ride and an amtrak. Planes, trains and automobiles, whatever the mode of transport, save me a seat at the dinner table.

Travelbugbites has been very much about the bites. Food for me has been a way to get a true taste of a city. It connects people. It forces us to try new things, whether we like it or not. And it helps bring us back to a place we once were, whether it's a summer in New Hampshire or a trip to Italy.

This past weekend in Boston, shishito peppers were on display on the Himalayan salt block. Holy shishito, this dinner was how I wish I spent every Sunday night - in the company of old friends, sharing travel stories, laughing about summer camp during our most awkward of years over some really great wine and even better food. 

The menu: to start, soup with farmer cheese. Followed by a salad derived from the Jerusalem cookbook, arugula, artichoke, lemon, herbs, smashed radish, feta and roasted hazelnuts. The meat, salt roasted pork chops with Persian cucumber, blistered shishito peppers, charred red onions, lime and mint. Porkoloni, roasted cabbage, comte, chicken stock, black pepper and lemon. Oh and for dessert, Snacko Backo brownies, ice cream and babka that I schlepped from Breads Bakery in New York.

It is gatherings like these that make me love revisiting old childhood friendships. And with the hope to have more get-togethers, here's to dinner on the Vineyard this summer.

Stay bitten ;)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Flower Child

Coachella was nowhere to be found on my agenda. I've heard the term "Nochella" been thrown around and I'm hoping it is what I think it is. Call me old fashioned by I prefer my music festivals to center around, you know, music.

Instead, I packed my overnight bag for Washington, D.C. While a good chunk of the country headed to Palm Springs, another swarm met up in our Nation's Capital to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. It is hands down the most beautiful time of year to be there. And for that reason it is very crowded. My advice is to take a cue from professional photographers and get to the Jefferson Memorial before sunrise, to get a good shot without the tourists equipped with selfie sticks.

Kids can be a big pick-me-up when you're sad about the loss of a friend. They see the joy in the everyday and make you laugh at the smallest of things. We had our own festival, of baking cookies, listening to country music (Emma's favorite), attempting to a force a Coachella-inspired flower crown on a resistant but smiley one year old. A visit with my best friend from college held much more value than the cost of a cheap bus ticket.

Stay bitten ;)