Tagged tourism

Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk, NY opens for its third season

Writte by Nadia Ibanez, Photos courtesy of Joe Termini

As a child of the west coast, I never got to experience summer or sleep-away camp. I remember watching movies or TV shows as a child and wondering why my parents never sent me away to spend weeks on a river or in a forest, sleeping in bug-ridden cabins, and having meals in a chow hall.

Inside the lobby at Ruschmeyer's
Inside the lobby at Ruschmeyer’s

Lucky for me, I can still experience a summer-camp atmosphere as an adult at the likes of Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk, NY. Entering into their third season, the summer cabin-inspired Ruschmeyer’s opened its doors on May 22nd, just in time for Memorial Day.

Ruschmeyers-GuestroomEach guestroom pays homage to summer camps found in the area and come equipped with a hammock in each room, wicker headboards, Moroccan rugs, flat screen TVs, rad lifestyle magazines and local reads, John Masters Organics bathroom amenities, vegan soaps, and Frette linens, among others. (If you’ve ever slept in Frette sheets, you know how vital this amenity truly is.)

If you are staying at Ruschmeyer’s with friends, go for the Lucky 13 suite features a full bedroom, adjoining full bathroom and living room with convertible daybed, and an outdoor charcoal grill.

Ruschmeyers-Montauk-Bikes
Take a ride on one of the Ruschmeyer’s beach cruisers
Play cowboys and Indians, or stargaze from the teepees in the garden at Ruschmeyer's
Play cowboys and Indians, or stargaze from the teepees in the Magic Garden at Ruschmeyer’s

Spanning three acres, the recently-renovated hotel features cabin-inspired guestrooms that encircle the central lawn known as The Magic Garden. There you’ll find ping-pong tables, BBQ grills, and teepees. (How cool is that?!) Need to get some energy out? Rent a bike, go paddleboarding, get your yoga on, or try your luck during Bingo Thursdays. (Seriously, sign me up already.) The hotel also features a rotating series of musicians, theater troupes and artists in residence.

Battle it out on Ruschmeyer's Ping-Pong tables
Battle it out on Ruschmeyer’s Ping-Pong tables

Need to sweat off those extra calories? Starting mid-June, Celebrity Fitness Trainer, Adam Rosante, will offer The People’s Bootcamp every Saturday morning. The 45-minute, high intensity workout is a great way to sweat, get some sun, and check out your fellow hotel goers in short shorts and tank tops. No ellipticals or free weights necessary; this workout only uses your body weight as resistance. Don’t forget to drop by the breakfast nook for a fresh-pressed juice or snack to finish out your morning.

Inside Ruschmeyer's Restaurant and Bar
Inside Ruschmeyer’s Restaurant and Bar

The hotel has just announced that they are teaming up with Matt Kliegman, Carlos Quirarte and Melia Marden of the The Smile in Manhattan to run Ruschmeyer’s on site restaurant with current Executive Chef, Brian Loiacono. The new menu will feature fresh and local seafood and produce, which will perfectly pair with the restaurant’s handcrafted cocktails and  comprehensive, sustainable and organic wine list. Grab a seat at the mid-century modern restaurant or belly up to the breakfast nook for a communal snack to start the day.

Ruschmeyer’s isn’t like your average summer destination hotel. Reggae Sundays is new this season and kicked off with a charity function on May 26th with Beastie Boys’ Mike D and Creative Director, Robert McKinley, to raise funds for Waves for Water and The Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck. Find yourself spending a Monday at Ruschmeyer’s? Starting June 17, guests can enjoy the evening in the Magic Garden with popcorn and a classic Montauk-centric film during Movie Mondays.

Need some comedic relief throughout the summer? A Night of Comedy with Seth Herzog will take place July 3rd, 17th, 31st and August 14th in the Electric Eel, the hotel’s must-see place for dancing and cocktails.

Ruschmeyer’s 19 guestrooms are filling up quickly and just like traditional summer camp for kids, the season closes out at the end of this August — make your reservation ASAP. For more information, check out their website here.

Lucha Libre fights at Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana with Turista Libre

Lucha-Libre-TJ

Written by Nadia Ibanez

As I get older, I’m noticing more and more that it’s hard to find exciting things to do on a Friday night. After working a full workweek at the office and trekking through the traffic to get home, the last thing I really want to do on a Friday night is party hard and stay up past 11:00 p.m. — unless Turista Libre is involved.

I’ve always been a bit reluctant to explore the streets of Tijuana, until Derrik Chinn, the man behind the urban TJ tour group, found me on Instagram and showed off some crazy cool photos from his latest trips south of the border. We spent last Friday night with him on his latest excursion to Auditorio Municipal for a Lucha Libre fight night.

We met with Derrik and the rest of our party pack right outside of the border before crossing by foot. Pass through a couple corridors lined with rifle-armed guards and you’re in the thick of TJ — sentry lines, fresh churros, pharmacies, and all. Derrik lead the group a bit further down the road where a school bus is waiting for us. The Auditorio Municipal is only about 30 minutes away so we drove to a local taco shop for dinner before the fights started.

The ambiance on the bus can be a bit squirrely — depending on who’s signed up for the trip. On this trip, we were jam packed with some spirited ladies from a local roller derby team; our last trip to TJ with Turista Libre was full of a flock of super hipsters. It really doesn’t matter who’s on the trip with you. Tecate is always pouring, Derrik’s famous jello shots are always abundant, and everyone gets real friendly before the evening starts.

Tacos from Los Albaniles in TJ
Tacos from Los Albaniles in TJ

We stopped at a taco shop and filled up on tortas, tacos, seafood and more. You can’t really go wrong with a local taco shop, but ask Derrik for recommendations if you find yourself back in town afterward. Everything was delicious and the servers were friendly. I have a new affinity for tortas and tacos al pastor so I recommend starting there and exploring the menu further.

Especial Torta from Los Albaniles in TJ
Especial Torta from Los Albaniles in TJ

We made our way to the auditorium around 10:00 p.m. just in time for the last few main fights. As a virgin to the sport, I didn’t really know what to expect upon walking in. Derrik got us all ringside seats so we were definitely in the thick of things — spandex pants, sweaty men, and all.

If it’s your first Lucha Libre fight in TJ, you have to be forewarned. These guys aren’t messing around. While the fight may appear to be planned and every move calculated, these guys will straight up jump into the audience and grab the chair you’re sitting on to knock their opponent in the face. So, watch your back — and your butt.

Get a ringside seat and you'll definitely get your own photo op
Get a ringside seat and you’ll definitely get your own photo op

The fights were amazing. We usually had to ask the little kids around us to know who the good guys were and we’d automatically start cheering them on. Beers are always cheap here, and if you’re still hungry, authentic bites and nibbles are plentiful. And you better believe we went on the hunt for the most perfect Lucha Libre mask to wear for the duration of the fights.

Lucha-Libre-Turista-Librew
You simply cannot enjoy the whole experience of a Lucha Libre fight without your own mask You simply cannot enjoy the whole experience of a Lucha Libre fight without your own mask

We spent a couple hours at the fight, took some photos with the luchadores, and headed back to the border later that evening. If you’re looking for an exciting way to spend your Friday nights, you MUST get more information and buy tickets to Turista Libre’s upcoming events. The Lucha Libre fights are frequent, but make sure to check out the rest of the events planned for the month.

For more information, visit www.turistalibre.com.

Lucha Libre Fight Night at Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana with Turista Libre from nadia ibanez on Vimeo.

Diving into Chef Javier Plascencia’s Eight-Course Tasting at Mision 19

Inside Mision 19 in Tijuana
Inside Mision 19 in Tijuana

Written by Nadia Ibanez

Despite spending our entire lives in San Diego County, it’s inevitable that we would run out of things to do and places to see around the neighborhood. Don’t get us wrong, we haven’t hiked every mountain trail nor have we dined at every renowned restaurant around town, but sometimes a short drive south of the border into Mexico is just what we need to appreciate the space around us just a bit more.

We had an unbelievable dining experience recently when we traveled into Tijuana for a dinner at Misión 19. With Javier Plascencia at the helm, Misión 19 is perched on the second floor of a sleek and modern office building, which is the only LEED gold-certified building in TJ. Located in the city’s business district, we walked up a few stairs and through a perfectly designed lobby. The sexy and inviting restaurant offers views of the city below and resembled an upscale dining environment similar to what you would find in downtown LA, San Francisco, or New York.

Let’s keep in mind that the restaurant is only about a five-minute drive from the border. But, you definitely feel like you’re in a different country.

The menu can be a bit overwhelming, especially since everything is in Spanish,  but with enough explanation from our server and some research ahead of time, we opted to go for the eight-course chef’s tasting menu. (If you aren’t in for a wild adventure of a meal, you can also opt for a steak, seafood, or pasta dish.)

Yes, I know an eight-course meal sounds like overkill. Some “tasting menus” at fancy foodie joints around town literally send out a single bite or two for each course. But don’t be fooled, the chef’s tasting menu at Misión 19 will leave you full to the brim and ready to schedule your next visit.

Cocktails-Mision-19

The first course of our eight-course chef's tasting
The first course of our eight-course chef’s tasting

After a round of unique and native cocktails including lots of tropical fruits, tequila, and chili peppers, we started our first course, which was definitely one of my favorites. Served in a metal and glass glass, diced Baja scallops were layered with avocado, crema, onion, cucumber, and macerated tortilla chips. Seriously, I would drive back into TJ just for another bite of this course.

Grilled octopus from Mision 19
Grilled octopus from Mision 19

The second course was grilled octopus on top of a crunchy crouton in two delicious sauces. It’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t cook the hell out of this creature, but our piece was savory, tender, and perfectly cooked.

Cochinillo and crepes
Cochinillo and crepes

Our third course was cochinillo, or suckling pig, over a house-made crêpe and a variety of salsas. Even though the crêpe was delicious, I might have by-passed the course, had I know what we were eating. (This is another reason why you may want invite a native Spanish speaker to dinner.) Next up was a mushroom risotto with frijoles and a shaving of Mexican truffle, which was extremely earthy and filling. The portion was huge so if you’re trying to save room for the following courses, you may want to take it easy.

Mushroom risotto
Mushroom risotto
Seared tuna with a cauliflower mash
Seared tuna with a cauliflower mash

For the fifth course, we had seared tuna steak with a cauliflower mash and a crunchy chicharron on top. The sixth course was beef tongue with bone marrow purée in a tomatillo and cilantro sauce. By this time during the meal, our entire group was getting extremely full so remember to pace yourself if you’re going for Chef Javier’s full tasting menu.

Beef tongue and bone marrow at Mision 19
Beef tongue and bone marrow at Mision 19

The meal ended with a plate of local, aged cheeses paired with native honey, hibiscus and passion fruit. Dessert was a dollop of coffee ice cream, brownie, brûléed banana and yogurt served in a stone bowl.

Cheese-Plate-Mision-19

The perfect way to end a meal at Mision 19: housemade chocolate ice cream and a brownie
The perfect way to end a meal at Mision 19: housemade chocolate ice cream and a brownie

These photos and short descriptions don’t do this meal any justice. (And you better believe we’re saving up to invest in a professional camera to properly notate our culinary adventures.) But if you find yourself in the area or even in San Diego looking for an exciting dining experience, Mision 19 should be on the top of your list.

The eight courses and a couple of rounds of cocktails came out to about $100 USD and was worth every penny. Had you experienced the same meal progression in San Diego, LA, or any other metropolitan area for that matter, you would have probably spent double or triple the amount. The tasting menu is constantly changing by season, so make sure you visit often throughout the year.

You definitely wouldn’t expect this kind of meal in TJ, but dining at Misión 19 shows us that this controversial town can mold into a spectacular culinary destination with the likes of Chef Javier. For more information, visit http://mision19.com/.

Beauty and Blizzards: Ringing in the New Year in the Midwest

by Andrea Verdin

There are few things that I enjoy more than the holidays… and this year was no exception. I love any opportunity to ring in the new year in style, and when I got the opportunity to visit the Midwest for New Years Day, I ran with it.

I knew that I’d be with the throngs of people traveling home again after spending Christmas with their families, so I packed light. One of the best things that you can do before jumping on a plane is grabbing an overnight bag and throwing as much as you can in there. If you forget something, you can purchase whatever you forgot when you land.

enjoying the snow for the first time
enjoying the snow for the first time

Once arriving, snowfall was everywhere. Being from California, I’m used to visiting snow for a few hours. People live in it – my hosts found it hilarious that I would stop, lift my hands in the air and let the snow fall.

If you’re traveling in the snow, be prepared to have a few days’ worth of downtime. The snow will definitely halt any plans whenever it so chooses. I learned to play quite a few boardgames during the downtime that the heavy snowfall caused.

Chicago!
Chicago!

Once we were in the clear, we headed off to Chicago. The town is definitely all it’s cracked up to be. Between the beautiful skyline, the glorious amount of shopping and the historical and artistic aspects of the city, you need more than a week to see it all.

Our first stop was the Art Institute of Chicago. Located in the heart of downtown, this beautiful museum had breathtaking art that I never thought I would ever see in real life. Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Rembrandt were just a few of the artists whose work can be seen at the museum. There was also an impressive coat of arms wing that any historian will enjoy.

The Cloud Gate, otherwise known as The Bean

Right outside is the famous Cloud Gate, also known as ‘The Bean.’ Be sure to grab a photo with your reflection transformed in the liquid surface.

Of course, you can’t go to Chicago without a proper serving of deep dish pizza. With that in mind, we scoured the city until we found Giordano’s. You can order a pie with as many or as little toppings as you would like, and watch as the pizza makers fling the dough back and forth after kneading it. If you have a small appetite, be prepared to only eat a slice or two.

If you have some time to kill, try to grab a booth close to the kitchen so you can watch these masters fling dough like no one’s business. It will be well worth the wait; it’s nearly a dinner and a show.

Giordano’s offers some of the best pizza you will ever have

Finally, see the Willis Tower, which is still referred to as the Sears Tower. Standing at 1,450 feet and 110 stories high, Willis Tower is the tallest building in the western hemisphere. It overtakes the Chicago skyline, and those without fear of heights can climb to the top.

You can climb to the Ledge, which allows you to enter a small ledge made of three layers of half-inch thick glass and laminated into a single unit. It’s a breathtaking view that is more than likely going to leave your heart pounding.

Enjoy the view from the Ledge

Look Inside the Virgin America Airport Lounge at LAX

Step inside the Virgin America Loft at LAX

Written by Nadia Ibanez, Photos courtesy of Virgin America

We are a sucker for a luxurious executive, member’s only lounge. Whether it’s in the penthouse of a fab hotel, or tucked away from the chaos at the airport, we love sneaking away to get some work done using complimentary Wi-Fi, while nibbling on treats and sipping on cocktails.

Take a seat inside the Loft at LAX

We just found out that our favorite airline, Virgin America, has opened its first official Airport Lounge at LAX. The new loft offers an area to unwind before you board in a space similar to the modern design aesthetic you’ll find within the aircraft. Patrons can opt for a day pass for $40 and take advantage of complimentary cocktails at the mood-lit bar, or nosh on snacks and small plates like assorted sushi, fruit and cheese plates, or Otsu Soba noodles. Fancy, right?

Great views of the runway inside the Loft

Need to send a few emails out before you board? Get online in the lounge or just enjoy the people watching inside the space and on the runway outside.

Inside the Clubhouse at JFK

Traveling through, SFO, JFK, or IAD (Washington DC)? Drop by the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses for a peek into luxury traveling for a mere $40-$75 ticket. (P.S. The Brasserie at the Clubhouse at JFK looks unbelievable.)

The Brasserie at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK

The Virgin America Airport Lounge at LAX is open from 6:00 am to 11:30 pm daily and is open to any Virgin America or Virgin America airline partner traveler. For more information, visit http://virginamerica.com/vx/lax-loft.