Literary London Travel Guide

As you all will have recalled (because I expect you to memorize everything I write on this blog goshdarnit! — JK.), I set intentions for each leg of my travels this summer. My intention for England was to explore literature, as I was there to do a creative writing programme at the University of Cambridge. My three days in London allowed me to make the switch from writing to reading (to do a literary refuel if you will) by visiting copious amounts of bookstores and literary monuments…in other words, this is a post about why London is an English major’s heaven.

Daunt Books

Daunt Books is organized by country, which is insanely cool. I love a well-organized bookstore!

Persephone Books

Persephone Books is a publishing company with a storefront that sells books by Twentieth Century women writers. Their storefront also has an adorable section entitled “Books We Wish We Published.” (A feminist literary must!)

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Tea Time

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

After my first trip to the UK, I wrote a post on this blog about just how much I love tea time. This second trip the UK did not disappoint and I fell in love all over again with this specific ritual of rest that happens from 2-5 (and according to this infographic, after as well).

Where to Tea Time in England

Fitzbillies (Cambridge)


Fortnum & Mason (London) 

Tea Time Checklist

  • tea
  • milk / cream
  • clotted cream
  • jam
  • scones or a baked good
  • a good book or good company

 

Cambridge, England Travel Guide


I got to know Cambridge pretty well this summer through doing the University of Cambridge’s two-week-long creative writing intensive. I fell in love with this manageable, yet extremely cosmopolitan city. The historic colleges, enchanting bookstores, expansive shopping centers, and excellent coffee culture drew me in. Here’s my guide if you ever find yourself in this lovely scholarly city.

CamYoga

It’s a yoga blog so I must begin with the yoga. I went to a Jivamukti class at CamYoga my second week there, and the lovely flow hit the spot!

Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty is a British yoga clothing brand and while they have amazing stores in NYC, they preview a lot of their clothing in their British stores, and also have an underground yoga studio where they offer free classes on Mondays.

Heffers Bookstore

I am obsessed with Heffers. They have a whole section of the classics with special beautifully-crafted covers. Sadly, my carry-on couldn’t fit two different gorgeously-covered Pride and Prejudices, but alas, I left with a beautiful copy of Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

Fitzbillies

It took less than 24 hours for me to become a regular at Fitzbillies: a restaurant + bakery + coffee and tea shop that is everything fantastic about Cambridge compressed into a lovely bustling cafe.

Outdoor Market in the Square

In the middle of the most urban area of Cambridge is a lovely outdoor market with incredible (and cheap!) dumplings, more books, jewelry, and crafts.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

This museum has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and Fauvist art. It’s under construction for the next year, but it’s still a must-do.

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Aperitivo

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

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As far as people go, I’m fairly low-maintenance. Scratch that; I would more readily refer to myself as middle-maintenance. But high-maintenance? I’m often too independent to a fault for that. That said, the one thing I get fairly high-maintenance about is being brought drinks. This refers to all sorts of drinks: coffee, tea, wine, beer, seltzer, you name it. I took a 5 Love Languages (Dr. Chapman) quiz about a year ago and one of the five – one I deeply appreciate – is “Acts of Service.”

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

When I am brought a beverage, either in the morning or before dinner time (especially by a lover), I feel overwhelmed with a sense of deep ease. The ritual of coffee tells me that the day is beginning and there’s goodness to come, and the ritual of sitting down with a glass of wine or seltzer with some grapefruit juice squeezed in tells me that the day is over and there’s not much more I have to do except relax. That feeling – especially after a busy day – is a truly amazing one. The fact that it’s before dinner and the only expectation is to sit around and watch the sunset is and feels beautiful. That is aperitivo, the culture of rest we’re exploring today.

This article from HuffPo explains it phenomenally.

Aperitivo originates from the Latin verb aperire which means ‘to open’; the idea being that the drink opens (or stimulates) your appetite.

I have loved resting into the aperitivo ritual while in Tuscany. At 7:45pm every evening, we all pour ourselves a drink – alcoholic or non-alcoholic (it REALLY doesn’t matter!), sit around the sunset and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a daily ritual for slowing down nested into another ritual (dinner), which I so appreciate.

So pour yourself a drink, or demand that your partner does as an act of service. Lean back in a chair. And rest.

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Riposo

Series DescriptionThis new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 1.34.26 PM.png

 

 

 

A riposo, like a siesta, is Italy’s midday nap. I witnessed how it affects society yesterday while in Pienza, a lovely medieval Tuscan town. When we arrived at 2pm, most clothing stores had signs that said they were closed until 3:30. They were closed because, like in many areas around the world – especially regions that get very hot in the middle of the day (yesterday it was over 100 degrees by that time), businesses shut down so that the body can carry out its natural rhythm of sleeping through the hottest parts of the day.

riposo is usually taken after lunch as a way of digesting what for many is the main meal of the day. Waking up from a riposo feels luxurious and rejuvenating. It also just makes sense in my body and it allows for the day to be and feel expansive – almos to feel as if there are two days in one. So what are you waiting for? (You certainly don’t have to be in Italia to take one.) Eat a delicious and nourishing lunch. Find a place to lie down. Close your eyes. Rest.

10 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

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DISCLAIMER: I, of all people, know how hard yoga retreats are to afford and how even mention of them can trigger the big green monster inside. That said, yoga retreats come in many shapes, forms, and locations and, like everything, I do believe that there really is something for everyone (post forthcoming on how to plan to attend or to create a retreat that works for your lifestyle, budget, and time off). Here are some reasons why yoga retreats can be so beneficial in the frenetic lifestyle we’re faced with today.

  1. Connect with like-mindedful people. A yoga retreat is an opportunity to be unself-consciously yoga-obsessed. In regular life, I surround myself with people who aren’t as obsessed with yoga as I am and who most definitely don’t believe in concepts like the chakras or Ayurveda. This retreat is like heaven because I get to get my yoga nerd talk out of my system so that, quite frankly, I don’t have to resent my friends for not wanting to listen to my yoga babble.
  2. Restore the body. I am taking a big breath in as I write this one. There is pure freaking magic in practicing yoga twice a day. Breathing that deeply for increasing chunks of time only does a body good. That, combined with the large amounts of physical rest a retreat provides time and space for (i.e. relaxing by the pool, sitting for long meals, eating nourishing food, etc.), restores the body to its fullest potential.
  3. Rejuvenate the mind through active pursuit of hobbies and passions. My one big tip for yoga retreats: bring books! Read a lot. Take a lot of photographs and work on your photography skills. Bring a journal! Write. Bring a sketchbook! Sketch. Pursue the hobbies and passions that make you, you and allow for you to be your best self and live your best life (because that’s also what retreats are for).
  4. Heal the heart. There are multiple people on the retreat I’m currently on who are dealing with the devastating effects of breakups. One of the reasons I am on this retreat is because I am coping with my boyf moving away (i.e. to another continent) for a year. The openness and rawness that yogis bring to a retreat allow for healing. That, and the fact that a lot of emotional healing is physical as well, means that retreats that fuse together the powers of mind and body can do wonders in facilitating the healing process.
  5. Travel to a new place. Retreats are held everywhere – from upstate New York to Cuba (my dream is to lead a retreat there!) to Italy to Virginia, there’s really a retreat for exploring most new places. Traveling on a yoga retreat means bringing wellness in to focus the travel experience.
  6. Ease major life transitions. I am currently going through a few fairly major life transitions (mainly concerning job and relationship). They are very overwhlelming to deal with when confronted with the frenetic nature of the day-to-day. Using a yoga retreat to pause, reflect and offer gratitude allows for spaciousness during the compression brought on by transitions.
  7. Experience cultures and rituals of rest. This is my biggest takeaway of all the places I’ve traveled to. In Latin America and Spain, we have siestas. In the United Kingdom, we have teatime. In Italy, we have reposito and apertivos. Find the specific rituals of rest and make them part of your personal retreat routine.
  8. Take advantage of time off in a structured way.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am confronted with an entirely unplanned day, I stand there in shock of having nothing to do and oh, my goodness, what am I going to do with all of this time?! A retreat is a truly beautiful way to build in activities so that you can just be along for the ride.
  9. Try something new. Along with being along for the ride, yoga retreats are an amazing time to try something new, be it a handstand, a different style of yoga altogether, or even slacklining, take advantage of your companions’ talents and learn from them!
  10. Reflect; catch up with your life. As mentioned previously, it’s really hard to reflect on life when living the mundane of it simultaneously. Going on retreat allows one to keep living life, but to also take the break from typical routine necessary to reflect on all the rest that happens when living a full life.

Have you been on a yoga retreat? Do you have any tips n tricks on how to do it up right? I’d love to hear them! 

Where in the World

 

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I am writing this at an old wooden table, sitting on an old wooden chair, with the above lush landscape directly in front of me. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to cut it. Breathtaking might.

I recently realized that in the midst of the working two jobs, test-taking and friends-visiting madness of July, I haven’t made it super public that I’m spending this whole month of August out of the U.S. of A doing the things that nourish my spirit: yoga, writing, and exploring new places. So I’m using this post partly to brag about being in Italy right now facing the picturesque view and also to articulate just what it is that I am doing during a full August off, and why.

The best way to explain this is also my favorite way to plan for a yoga class: through themes. Each leg of this five-week trip has a different theme. I’m sharing them below.

Italy: Pleasure

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photo via cocceto.com

I am currently in Tuscany on a yoga retreat with the talented Francesca Bove and a dozen-plus lovely yogis. It’s only day two and so far, I went on a run / walk through the hills surrounding the villa we’re staying at, dined on a breakfast of fresh-cut prosciutto, eggs and muesli, took an hour-and-a-half-long yoga class, and sat by the pool to read and nap. The theme of this trip is pleasure because too often pleasure gets misused in the work-hard, play-hard culture New York City immerses itself in. Pleasure, in a relaxed way, means (for this trip) not only drinking a glass of wine with dinner, but going on a wine tour. It means eating slowly to taste the most subtle flavors of artisan olive oil…and attending a tasting at the vineyard it’s made at. It means practicing yoga with an abundant view of the Italian countryside, and it means putting sunglasses on during savasana and letting the sensuous sensory experiences Italy is so known for marinate so that there can be space to take it all in.

England: Literary

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photo via britishtours.com

Right after this retreat, I’m going to England to take two continuing education creative writing courses at the University of Cambridge. This year, when I took Teaching of Writing as part of my graduate program, I had a lot of feelings surrounding wanting to make sure that I am a teacher-writer / writer-teacher, and not only a teacher of writing (I’m studying to be a middle school English teacher). In other words, I want my practice as an educator and as a writer to disrupt the narrative of “those who can’t do teach” and change it to “those who can do teach.” I also have an extraordinarily hard time writing in New York City, and I’m sitting on quite a few works in progress. I would say that I need to carve out the time, except for the fact that with my working-grad school schedule, the time just simply doesn’t exist, and I’m starting to think that small geographic changes to encourage creativity can be a good thing. We can do it all…just not all at once, after all. But back to my plans for the trip! While I am spending the weekdays intensively writing and attending plenary lectures, I’ll spend the first weekend in Oxford doing a tour of the medieval literature that was born there and hopefully getting enough free time to go to the Bodleian Library for the Jane Austen exhibit! That second weekend, I’ll be in London (yay!) and plan on going to the British Library, as well as both Daunt and Persephone Books!

Finland: Design

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photo via finland.fi

I’ll be spending my last 10 days of this trip in Finland with my boyf who’s moving there for the academic year. He’s moving there to study wood architecture and I’m traveling there so that we can experience Finnish culture together before his courses begin. Finland has a magnificent history and practice of design in both broad and specific ways. Finnish society seems to set itself up for success using infrastructural and architectural design. During this trip, I want to attend some art festivals going on and explore the amazing architecture throughout. I want to focus on something that I really do believe is the backbone of how society functions: design. I want to be able to carry that knowledge with me into all that I do because it can only help when we see the world through a variety of lenses including though not limited to pleasure, literature, and design.

Travelogue: Weekend in Chicago

Last weekend, I went to Chicago and had an unadulterated blast. We did so much in so little time and caught up on sleep. What I love so deeply about traveling is the way time seems to slow down and speed up and take on a life of its own all at once. That weird stretching and tightening of time was the making of a phenomenal mini-vacation. Here’s what we did:

Art Institute

I’ve been to Chicago before and knew that this time, I needed to go to the Art Institute. The spaciousness and quality of the museum represents what Chicago is all about: all the goodness cities have to offer without the cluttered feeling they often give off.

Bad Apple Brewery

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image via Pinterest

This place had an overall awesome vibe with an insanely lovely waitstaff. It made me really realize I wasn’t in New York anymore. The burger I had, too, was extremely satisfying (it was topped with fig puree and goat cheese!).

SoulCycle

The Hip Hop Saturday class we took at the Southport location (which is in such a cool part of town!) was absolutely phenomenal. Kirsten opened class with my fave track from the new Kendrick Lamar album, and it was at that moment that I knew I was in for a kickass ride.

Amazon Bookstore

I didn’t know that these existed before coming across this one! I love going to bookstores as a core way of exploring a new city, and this concept store (basically, it’s Amazon prime, but with physical books) was not a disappointment in the least! They also had a Stumptown Coffee Roasters inside (score!).

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Confession: I’m not a huge ice cream person, but the #basic in me is a major lover of frozen yogurt. Jeni’s, which is known to have the best ice cream in the midwest, has their own way of making froyo: with buttermilk! In case you can’t tell by the joy on my face, it was absolutely delish.

Violet Hour

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We went for before-dinner drinks at the chicest cocktail bar I have ever been to in my entire life: Violet Hour. I went there during my first trip to Chicago, and it was classy AF.

Big Star

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Image via Groupon

Right across the street from Violet Hour is Big Star, where we went for delicious tacos and an avocado-pumpkin seed salad that had me smacking my lips. It was an overall joy-filled time!

Intelligentsia

En route to the airport, we had to stop at Intelligentsia because a major way to know a city is through its coffee (in my humble opinion). When I walked in, I had a sudden desire to be a freelancer there.

Where’s your next weekend vacay? Care to share the fun places you go? 

What to Pack for a Weekend Getaway

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As I believe I’ve been making clear on the blog, 2017 is a year of major travel for me, for so many reasons. There’s something special that can happen in your mid-twenties, I’m learning. Me, and many of my friends, have this lingering feeling that we are untethered for what may be the last time for a long time. Untethered to other people, a specific geographic location, future plans, a long-term job, the list goes on. We have this burning desire to make the most of this time that we are not permanently accountable to others, and many of us are choosing to use that time to see the world.

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While I’m still at my day job, I am doing a lot of weekend trips. Recently, I’ve been to Pennsylvania, Mexico, and this weekend to Chicago. I usually leave from work and have to pack accordingly. I have a tendency to over-pack (whoops!), which creates a lot of unnecessary wardrobe confusion once I arrive. Hence this post where I hope to aggregate good packing list resources, as well as my own personal – but customizable – weekend getaway packing list.

  • SoulCycle Uniform or Yoga Outfit. I have one complete outfit made entirely of SoulCycle apparel. I call it my SoulCycle uniform (branded sports bra, tank top, leggings, socks, and headband) because I only wear it to SoulCycle and nowhere else. This saves a lot of time when I’m looking for exercise clothes. If you’re going the yoga route, I suggest that you bring one pair of leggings and one top with a built-in sports bra.
  • Going-Out Outfit. What is an outfit (only one!) that you can wear from dinner to drinks?
  • Flats. Make sure that they are easy to walk in!
  • Boots. Again, make sure that they are easy to walk in (and relatively waterproof in case it rains).
  • Daytime Outfit. Jeans, a shirt, and sweater are perfect for this (i.e. the layering effect).
  • Pajamas. I suggest light ones (a t-shirt and shorts).
  • 3 Underwear. The necessities.
  • 3 Pairs Socks. The necessities.
  • Bra(s). One white and one black is usually a good rule of thumb.
  • Packed Toiletry Case. I personally love this sprinkly Kate Spade one.
  • Jacket. Suggestion: Wear it on the plane!
  • Small Purse. Something that can hold a wallet, keys, and cell phone, but no more (oh, and don’t forget to pack those things either).
  • Kindle. Make sure it’s charged and connected to WiFi before you go so that all your reads can download properly!
  • One Pair of Earrings. Make the colors fairly neutral (I like hoops for this!) so that they can go with a variety of outfits.
  • Sunglasses. You never know and one of the worst feelings is being without sunglasses when everyone else is squint-free.
  • Headphones. Seriously, these are a travel game-changer…especially if they’re noise-canceling!
  • Backpack for Main Carry-On. I love this one from State Bags.
  • Journal. Documenting is so important when on the road!
  • Pens. Pack only two or three to be a minimalist.
  • Planner. love, love, love my Lily Pulitzer planner when it comes to traveling because it has an entire gorgeous section for “Escape Plans,” as they call them. These pages, as you can see above, have spots for packing lists, itineraries, and activities / excursions. Those pages are where this blog post idea originated!
  • Cell Phone. I’ve been using the Netflix Download feature a lot to pre-load my phone with some TV and movies pre-travel.
  • Chargers. I can use the same one for my Kindle and Beats headphones, and I pack a mini iPhone charger.
  • Deodorant. Shove it in there!
  • Small Fragrance. I got a pack of mini fragrances from Anthropologie a while ago and they’re a game changer; I can just grab one and go!
  • Tea or Beverage Mix. I love Bengal Spice Celestial Seasonings teas and Nibmor hot cocoa mixes.
  • Snacks. My go-to’s are Rx and Lara bars and pre-portioned bags of almonds.

Here are some of my favorite blog posts on weekend packing lists:

Travelogue: My Week in Indiana

2017 is and will continue to be a year of travel for me! You can expect plenty more posts like these, inspired by both domestic and international travel, and can see them all in sequence by using the hashtag #travelogue2017. While this blog began as a yoga blog and you can be sure – like any daily practice – I will feature a yoga studio or two per city, I am deeply grateful for a yoga practice that seems to fit into my life naturally without dominating all my travel. There are only a few cities in the world that boast yoga as a main attraction (i.e. Portland and San Francisco). So, sit back, relax, and get ready for some well-rounded travel writing!

Oh, Indiana! The hoosier state! On a long walk to Upland Brewery with my boyf who recently moved back to his hometown of Bloomington, we talked about the people we became friends with in college, and the geographic diversity that attending a small liberal arts school in the middle of Connecticut miraculously gave us. While I grew up in Manhattan, I can count on one hand the number of New Yorkers I befriended in college. Instead, I have friends all over the country (some all over the world!) and that has opened up a myriad of opportunities for travel. That, and being in a long-distance relashe, make getting on a plane a monthly occurrence!

Without further ado, here’s what we did, and what I recommend to do, in the hoosier state!

Bloomington

Laughing Planet + Soma

Our first stop my first day in Bloomington was a familiar one. Laughing Planet is one of those quirky chains (two words that can tend to feel like oxymorons) that exist in both Bloomington, Indiana and Portland, Oregon. Their burrito bowls are innovative yet somehow simple and delish. They can also, if desired, provide a welcome break from all the (ethical and sustainable) meat eating that B-town has to offer. One of the great things about Laughing Planet is that it’s housed right above Soma – this lovely and adorable coffee shop that I so wish was in my college town.

Busman’s Holiday

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On Thursday, we went to see a local band perform. The band is composed of two brothers and some other musicians that chime in for various other songs. Both bros have great voices, though one is the lead vocalist and the other drums on a suitcase! It didn’t take long to realize that most people in the crowd knew them personally. I quickly downloaded their music on Spotify and couldn’t recommend it more!

Upland Brewery

Portland and Bloomington have more in common than Laughing Planet. Something I’ve missed from my time away from the East Coast is brew culture. Breweries have a whole ethos to them that is hard to replicate. They are relaxed, easygoing, and have prioritize quality with all that they serve. We went to Upland my second night there, and then I made us return three days later because I loved the vibe so much. The beer, too, is above par (oh, and all of their meat is locally and sustainably sourced – environment for the win!).

Know Yoga Know Peace

I went to a $5 class (those are offered once per day) at this studio tucked into a street in downtown Bloomington. I’m a sucker for the integration of yoga philosophy into the asana practice without being too over the top and I’d say that this beautiful dimly-lit studio accomplishes that. It was a welcOMe break from the more fast-paced vinyasa flow that my New Yorker self has become accustomed to, and left me feeling like I had breathed deeply which at the end of the day is the marker of a meaningful practice.

Hopscotch

The one coffee shop besides Soma that I passed through was Hopscotch (a walk away from Know Yoga Know Peace). This Café had a way more hipster-y vibe. I got a turmeric latte with espresso and was able to sit outside with a copy of the New York Times, which was lovely. Inside was a hub of laptops, working students and professionals.

Indianapolis

Milk Tooth

Usually, I tend to not feel like a foodie. Going to Milk Tooth, however, and the sheer enthusiasm I felt before, during, and after that meal, definitely made me cross over into foodie territory. We may or may not have planned this whole trip to Indianapolis to be able to go to this acclaimed restaurant on a weekday so that there wouldn’t be a weekend brunch rush. If we did…it was totally worth it. The layout of this restaurant was kind of tent-ish (there were no walls facing the outside seating area), allowing for tons of natural light to pour in on that sunny day. The silverware and napkins on each table was stored in Café Dumonde tins (way to my heart!).I ordered a blueberry buckwheat scone, chickpea frisée salad, and root vegetable latke. N ordered an escargot tartine and carrot cake waffle. We feasted!

Record Store

With full bellies and doggie bags, we walked along Mass Avenue to check out Indy. We came across a fantastic record store (that also had a cafe inside!). We perused and N even managed to find a few $3 ones to buy and play on his legit unreal custom-made speakers that we used for more than one dance party of two.

Columbus

Miller House Architectural Tour

We also took a day trip to Columbus, Indiana. Full disclosure of my New Yorker self here: I didn’t know Columbus, Indiana was a place. I am learning that the point of travel is to broaden horizons and to de-center the places we know to be home. This can only happen when bubbles get popped. It is a shame I didn’t know about Columbus, Indiana beforehand because dang, is it awesome! We went on an architectural tour of the Miller House, which is owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. From the website:

In 2000, the Miller House became the first National Historic Landmark to receive its designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still living and while still occupied by its original owners. The house showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers: Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley.

What I particularly loved about the house was the conversation pit and Finnish suite-style minimalist bedroom – common area design. I was fascinated from start to finish and could not recommend this tour more as a way to gain context for so many architectural designs we take for granted today.

Anyways, that’s the story of this New Yorker’s time in the Midwest. So grateful for this trip, and all the discoveries along the way!