A Weekend in Montréal: Friends, Food, and Frigid Temps

After two weeks in Pittsburgh, Dave and I decided it was time to take our first road-trip together from Pittsburgh.  With Dave’s extremely busy volleyball schedule on the horizon and my freedom to travel during the week (since I don’t have a job right now), we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to see a new city. We both love to travel, don’t mind driving long distances, and have a great friend who lives in Montréal, which made our destination decision easier. We mapped out our route, which included a pit stop in Rochester both ways (Dave’s Hometown), which put us at about 20 hours in the car.

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Spread out across three and a half days, our weekend getaway to Montréal was one to remember.

Day One: Thursday, April 12th, 2018

3:45PM – To help reduce the total number of hours in the car, I took the P67 bus out to Monroeville to meet Dave by his office. Not only did this lower our time on the road, but also helped me get acclimated with Pittsburgh’s public transportation.

4:45PM – On the road! Next stop: Rochester!

5:00PM – Just kidding! Quick stop at Chick-Fil-A to get some dinner! Chicken nuggets and lemonade were calling my name after a three-day juice cleanse.

9:30PM  After a quick four and a half hours in the car, we finally made it! We unloaded some items we’re keeping at his parents place,  caught up for a little bit with his family, and went to bed so we could be ready for a long day on the road tomorrow.  Goodnight!

Day Two: Friday, April 13th, 2018

8:00AM – Time to hit the road. Next stop: Montréal!

3:20PM – After a gas stop, and an extended wait at the border, we finally made it!

4:00PM – Time for a late lunch at Olive Et Gourmando. Our concierge at the hotel recommended  this cute little cafe for us plus it was on our way to the waterfront. I indulged in the Grilled Cheese and Sautéed Onion Panini, while Dave opted for the healthier green salad with roasted almonds, red onions, house vinaigrette. We also ordered two La Saison du tracteur beers and Dave finished off the meal with an Elixir + Bourbon (green tea, ginger, pomegranate).

4:30PM  Walk around the waterfront, up and down Rue Saint Paul, and around the ‘old city’. We also stopped in the Intercontinental Hotel to see a piece of the Berlin Wall and an ‘infinity pool’.

7:30PM – Quick workout at the hotel. Chest and Tri’s and 20 minutes on the bike to get the blood pumping.

9:00PM – Meet up with Wojtek and Memye and head to dinner. I chose Brasserie 701 based off Yelp reviews and it’s pretty close. Win-Win!

10:30PM – After an amazing dinner, we decide to head out on the town. I indulged in Scallop Risotto with Truffles, Dave got Duck with Mushroom Sauce, Wojtek ordered the Duck with Apricot Sauce, and Memye had the Rosemary and Red Onion Marinated Flank Steak. We bounced around Montréal from: 3 Brasseurs to The ColdRoom, which was a speakeasy with a freezer-like door opening.

Day Three: Saturday, April 14th, 2018

9:30AM – Up and at ’em! Time to take on the day. Dave and I sneak out for a quick breakfast and coffee at La Finca, which is down he street from our hotel.  Dave ordered the Danois Dejeuner (Breakfast Danish) with coffee, and I had a croissant (my fav) and a Chaud Chocolat (Hot Chocolate).

10:30AM – We returned to the hotel, grabbed Memye and Wojtek and headed out for the day.  First on our list: Fairmount Bagels! Apparently bagels are different in Canada and I wanted to try it!

11:15AMFairmount Bagels was a disappointing adventure. The bagel was small, not toasted, and sweet?! It makes me miss my NYC bagel habit (Salt Bagel with cream cheese, anyone?)

12:10PM – Time to head to Mont Royal, which is the name sake for the city of Montréal. It is an extinct volcano with beautiful panoramic views of the entire city and a cross on the top. Unfortunately it was extremely cloudy and FREEZING (about 24 degrees!), but we still had a nice walk to the top.

2:30PM – We headed back to the hotel to drop off the car and grab some lunch! We decided on a cute fondue and creperie about a half mile away from the hotel aptly named, Creperie Chez Suzette. I ate the Crepe Parisienne, Dave had the La Spécial Délice, and Wojtek and Memye ordered the La Charlevoix and French Onion Soup! Dave and I also enjoyed a Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Crepe for dessert – my sweet tooth was more than satisfied! We spent the afternoon giggling (mostly at my poor french skills), eating our hearts out and enjoying each others company.

5:00PM –  The four of us retreated from the harsh conditions outside into the warmth of our hotel room and continued catching up for the next few hours before we said our goodbyes! Trips like this remind us how blessed we are to have friends around the world.

9:30PM – After a mini nap (errr.. 2 hour nap), Dave and I headed back out to dinner at the nearby Monsieur Resto+Bar which was a 30 second walk from the hotel (and another Yelp find)! The atmosphere was incredible – jazz music in the background, cool lighting, and lively! I saw scallops on the menu and I had to order them again, this time with an asparagus risotto. Dave ate the butternut squash gnocchi and said it was amazing!  We retreated back to the hotel after a cozy dinner and I fell asleep to the Trailblazers-Pelican game.

Day Four: Sunday, April 15th, 2018

9:00AM – After two unanswered alarms on my phone, we finally got up and hit the road. We decided to stop in Rochester on the way back to break up our drive and aimed to get there around 3PM.

3:20PM – Safe on deck in Rochester! We were making great time, but unfortunately got stuck behind two snowplows that were going about 30 MPH for about an hour and experienced some terrible weather. Major Bummer, but we made it safely!

5:45PM –  After a great lunch/early dinner, we were back on the road to Pittsburgh. I was at the wheel for the majority of this leg, until we got hit with a torrential downpour closer to the city and Dave took over for me.

10:30PM – Home Sweet Home! Trust me when I say, nothing feels better than crawling into bed after a long weekend away.

While we didn’t have the time to do Notre Dame or the Olympic Stadium or eat Poutine, it was still a wonderful weekend. I am definitely glad to be back in the ‘burgh, and in my routine of working out and eating healthy. Here’s to our next adventure, whether that is near or far! Au Revoir!

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Major Life Update: I Moved to Pittsburgh

Major Life Update: I moved to the Steel City this weekend!

As you can imagine, it was an incredibly tough choice to leave FOX after three years full-time (plus a year of interning at FOX Sports), and even tougher decision to leave my second home of seven years. I moved to New York as a wide-eyed SoCal teenager (wow!), and am leaving completely transformed and ready to take on the world.

In the end, it was time for my next challenge and Pittsburgh seemed like the perfect place for me to continue my personal and professional development.  The ‘Burgh is obviously a HUGE sports town (which I LOVE), its food scene is buzzing, and my incredibly supportive boyfriend lives here.  What more could I ask for? (Editors Note: I also happen to live across from a Target and a Whole Foods – I don’t think I can ask for anything else)

Though I will miss the hustle and bustle of New York, late night $1 pizzas, early morning bagels, and pure craziness of the greatest city on Earth, I am ready for my next opportunity and adventure in Pittsburgh.

Signing off for the last time as Meg in Manhattan! Here’s to Patten in Pittsburgh.

 

The Importance of Embracing Nerves

A photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger with his arms outstretched and the word CONQUER overlaid his body, is pasted to a composition notebook outlining my marathon training plan. On the back is an image of me racing in the NYC 10K on a rainy Saturday last October – a tired smile plastered across my face.  Taped to the inside cover is a table listing out my scheduled mileage, cross-training days, and recovery sessions – a bible of sorts. I have carried around this journal with me everywhere the past 17 weeks and written out the details to every run, workout, and physical therapy appointments to date.  It is a constant physical reminder of a race I’ve had my eyes set on for quite some time now – the Marine Corps Marathon.

I began my training in Mid-June, as I wrapped up my 9+1 qualification for the 2017 NYC Marathon. My runs started off short and fast and over the past couple months evolved into longer, slower runs throughout Hoboken. On some of the hotter days, I thought to myself training would never end and I couldn’t wait for October. But then today, I woke up and as I scrolled through my Facebook feed I came across this post from the Marine Corps Marathon Facebook page and began to casually freak out.

How are we already down to NINE DAYS before the Marine Corps Marathon? I feel like it was only yesterday when I was struggling to complete my six-mile “long run” in the blazing heat and humidity. Even though I’ve been diligently training and focused on my goal of completing CRUSHING this marathon over the course of the last six months, I could not feel more anxious (and tapering isn’t helping).

I will, however, be the first to admit that the nerves I am feeling are ~good nerves~ they’re proof that running this race is important to me. I know deep down that the only reason I’m nervous is because I’ve never done this before – it’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.

I just need to embrace the butterflies and get them flying into formation on Sunday morning.

 

So I’m Running A Marathon

I haven’t always loved running. To be completely frank, I used to dread the thought of a running, but I think it’d be safe to say that I’ve fallen in love with lacing up my running shoes and escaping for an hour (or two).  Last March, I ran my first half marathon with my Mom and became instantly hooked to races. Not only do I love running races because I’m side by side (commiserating) with thousands of other runners, but because the electricity of the crowds really gets me going. My roommates, however, will say my favorite part is the medal at the end – I guess I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the bling at the end, too. Since that first half, I’ve run two more half marathons and four other smaller races.

As part of my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions, I made it my goal to qualify for the 2017 NYC Marathon via the 9+1 program. This program is a great way for NYRR Members to qualify for the race because it not only promotes the smaller NYRR races (9 races), but also encourages people to give back to the running community by volunteering (+1). With this goal in my mind, I knew that 2016 was all about getting into optimum marathon shape and staying injury-free. I had no intentions of running a marathon this year, but when one of my closest childhood friends texts me asking if I wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon, I had to say “YES”.

Part of the reason I immediately said “YES” to running this marathon was due in part to the fact both my parents ran the Marine Corps Marathon 15 years ago. My parents started training for the 2001 MCM with a group of their close friend and eight year-old Meg would bike alongside them on their long runs, haul water, and cheer them from the sidewalk. This really sparked an insatiable passion for the sport at an early age. It would be an understatement to say that I’m so excited to make a “return” to the MCM and run in my parents footsteps. 

2016 is all about pushing my limits and running the Marine Corps Marathon is the perfect challenge.  Here’s to running my first 26.2, crushing my goals, and many ooh-rahs along the way.

Tompkins Square Dog Parade 2015

The Tompkins Square Dog Parade is easily one of my favorite things about living in New York City and one of my favorite days of the year. I’m a dog lover, so this shouldn’t even come as a surprise to most of you. This year, instead of venturing around the block from my old apartment (located on TSP), Phebe, Maddi, and I trekked to the East Village after an amazing brunch in Hoboken.

Clearly, the English Bulldog named Wallace, was one of my favorites, and thus most photographed pup, however, I did throughly enjoy snuggling with some of the Australian Shepard dogs. What can I say? I have a soft spot for dogs in the collie family.

You can see all the photos here on my blog, filed away under Snapshots.

Wallace

Wallace

Labor Day Weekend in Rochester

I like to travel. I also like to do things at the spur of the moment, which is why at 9PM on Friday night, a mere 36 hours after moving into my new apartment in Hoboken, I booked a flight to Rochester to spend Labor Day Weekend with Dave.

I barely slept that night, in part due to my sheer excitement, and partly because I had to be up at 3AM to catch the 6AM flight up to Western New York. I got to Rochester, a little after 8AM and was beyond excited to see Dave. After a short ride to his house, I took a quick cat nap before we decided to go hiking up by the Finger Lakes. I am not as familiar with this part of New York, so I was absolutely stunned by the beautiful scenery as we made our way to Watkins Glen. These lakes were all so beautiful, and there was so much GREEN everywhere. It was quite a stark contrast to summers in San Diego and the city!  After an hour or so in the car, we made it to Watkins Glen State Park, where we hiked and walked around. I had never been to a gorge before, and it was like anything else I had ever seen. The rock was so intricately carved by the water over time, it was beautiful – I don’t know else how to describe it.

Following our beautiful hike through Watkins Glen, we went wine tasting at one of Dave’s mom’s favorite wineries, Fox Run. We tried a few wines, and came back with a box of bottles, some cheese curds, and smiles plastered across our faces. That was my first time officially wine tasting and I had so much fun learning about what I did and didn’t like. Turns out, my taste buds liked the cheapest and one of the sweeter wines available, which I was a big fan of.

On Sunday, we had a relaxing morning and then ended up going out boating on Dave’s friend, Q’s boat. It was the first time I had ever been on one of the Great Lakes and the water was so crystal clear. Our first stop in the boat was Irondequoit Bay (I still cannot pronounce it) and we climbed to the top of these sand dunes that overlooked the whole bay – it was absolutely stunning. That night,  I had my first real “Buffalo Wing” experience with the Evan’s family. Two things I learned, 1) There are lots of different wings flavors (I liked the sweeter wings) and 2) I still need to practice “Eating” them to the bone, as I leave too much meat on them.  The wings were so good and definitely reminded me of the impending football season – can’t wait to have real Buffalo wings again.

On Monday, Q, Dave, Caden and I hopped in a car and headed back to the city. I was able to score some pretty sweet Yankees tickets through work to surprise Q’s son, Caden. He was lucky enough to not only score a baseball after the third inning, but also A-Rod’s batting glove. All in all, it was easily my favorite labor day with some of my favorite people.

A huge thank you goes out to the Evan’s family for letting me stay with them on such short notice. I had a fantastic weekend up in Rochester and am so glad I was able to spend some quality time up in Dave’s hometown.

Summer Daze

I always dreamed of having a perfect summer in New York. What I forgot to factor in, was the fact that I work 40+ hours a week and didn’t make enough money to do the things I truly want: travel and eat lots of food. Fortunately for me, I’m surrounded by some pretty amazing people who helped make my first summer in New York pretty great.

After looking through most of my photos, I can tell you I spent a significant amount of time at sporting events, running around Manhattan, apartment searching, and trying new restaurants.

Here’s some photos that perfectly capture my first summer in the Big Apple.

My First Visit to the Jersey Shore

I had never been to the Jersey Shore prior to this weekend. I had also never been to a beach volleyball tournament, despite living in beach volleyball mecca in Southern California. Both these facts, made for quite an eye-opening experience for me.  My biggest worries that the beach was going to be exactly how it was portrayed on the MTV hit show, Jersey Shore. I can now report, that the part of the Jersey Shore that was represented on television is a sliver of the actual “Jersey Shore”. Though the actual beach itself and the fact you had to PAY (yes you read that correctly) surprised this California girl, I was excited to be sitting in the sand to watch Dave play.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my nice camera to Seaside Heights and couldn’t get any action shots, but I am happy to report, that Dave, and his partner Kris, made it to the finals. It was a very long day in the sun and sand, and I now have so much more respect for these beach athletes, as they are not only playing a physically demanding game, but they are also battling the elements (sun, wind, and very hot sand).

My goal for next year is to get in good enough shape so I can try one of these beach tournaments in the future. I love how challenging the sport seems and the fact that it’s on a beach.  My first (and maybe most important) challenge… being able to walk in the sand without tripping.

Grass Volleyball Tournament Round Two

A few weeks after MayFest, Dave and I got back in the car and headed to Horsham, PA for his second grass volleyball tournament of the season. This tournament was a lot of fun for me because I knew a few more people this go-around and was able to take lots of snapshots of the guys in action. Though it rained (well, poured, by my California standards), I once again had a great time watching Dave, and his partner, Kris, dominate on the courts.

Graduation (Round 2)

If you’re reading this and a bit confused as to why you’re reading yet another graduation post, let me explain. While, yes, I did technically graduate and finish all my classes in December, there was NO way I was going to pass up the opportunity to graduate from YANKEE STADIUM in May (yes you read that correctly, THE Yankee Stadium). But I digress…

In between my last trip to NYC for Dave’s NCAA Championship and graduation I secured a job at my dream company, FOX Networks, as Distribution Assistant. Luckily for me, I already had a flight booked to NYC for Graduation, so I just canceled my return flight to San Diego and began securing my apartment, and finalizing my graduation plans.

The weeks leading up to graduation were a complete whirlwind. I began my first day back in NY by saying goodbye to a close friend, Etan, at the airport as soon as I landed. The following night was an award ceremony, followed by Dave’s first summer volleyball tournament, and before I knew it, my parents were in town to celebrate graduation 2.0.

NYU is pretty big (about 50,000 students), so each school breaks up and does their own graduation ceremony prior to the big Yankee Stadium Commencement. Luckily for me (and my parents), I went to a somewhat small school and program ( less than 100 graduates and less than 8 girls in my program) which meant a pretty quick ceremony. Unfortunately my graduation fell on the same night as the Ranger’s playoffs game but we couldn’t score tickets to go. Some might find it ironic that a few of my sports management friends ditched the end of graduation and headed to the Garden – talk about truly studying what you love!

We had a day between graduating as a school and NYU’s commencement in the Bronx so I took my mom to Hoboken for the day and then later grad alley on campus. I love being able to show her a new part of the city every time she comes – that’s one of the best parts of New York – it’s somewhat limitless.

It was the perfect day for a baseball game graduation – the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, and excitement in the air. A sea of students in purple robes flooded the gates into Yankee Stadium.  Truth be told, I have never seen Yankee stadium filled with so many non-sports fans in my life. No joke.  After venturing around the 100’s section, I found some sports management friends, then later my teammates and made my way to the 3rd baseline, where I would sit the rest of the ceremony. Though the ceremony was a bit longer than I wished, it was a pretty cool experience to graduate from my favorite ballpark. How many sports fans can say that they graduated from Yankee Stadium? Not many.

After commencement, we made it back to midtown for a lunch at an Irish Pub and a celebratory beer (Hey, I’m Irish!). I then showed my parents my new work HQ (News Corp), where we ran into my former intern boss, Chris Bellitti. He was a huge part of my post-graduation job success and it seemed only fitting to run into him just hours after officially “graduating”.

Graduation 2.0 was a huge success but I couldn’t have done it without the help of a few friends. A huge thank you goes out to my incredibly supportive parents and sister – thanks for putting up with me all these years. Thank you to all my friends, my teammates, and roommates for putting up with me the past four years – I could not have done it without you all!