travelog

washington, d.c.! (part two)

by otessa ghadar, a filmmaker and indie production company owner who made a show called orange juice in bishop’s garden about pre-internet era teenagers in ’90s D.C.

best venues: still love the black cat… also worth mentioning are: comet ping pong. the pinch. quarry house perhaps? went to some cool house shows this summer at wasted dreams & the dollhouse.

best record stores: not many left (sad face!) but red onion is solid and smash and crooked beat still have some picks.

best vintage / thrift stores: love love the value village discount duo, by college park MD & silver spring. otherwise, the georgia avenue thrift has some good picks (especially if you’re looking for housewares).

cheap eats: old city falafel on columbia road! their fixings bar is just dreamy & super veg-friendly. pho 14 is yummy and the takorean foodtruck is pretty clutch too.

mid-range eats: the uruguayan sandwich shop (it’s kitty-corner from 14th street and in a gas station — but don’t let that filling station dissuade you).

not so cheap eats: sticky rice is delicious & probably my favorite. upstairs/downstairs: mintwood & perry’s — same building, different restaurants. what they do have in common is that they are both absolutely not affordable, but if some cashmoney happens to be burning a hole in your pocket, it’s well worth the spend there. honorable mention: el tamarindo’s chicken mole.

vegetarian-friendly eats: ditto on the old city falafel. sticky rice has some great veg. dangerously delicious pies has yummy veggie quiches. fojol bros foodtruck has a pumpkin stew. and umm…do cupcakes count as a meal? because baked & wired’s are just so delicious and very filling. try the “unicorns & rainbows.”

best neighborhood: I’m biased because I grew up in adams morgan, so my heart will always very much be tied to the neighborhood. but truth be told, nowadays adams morgan is virtually unrecognizable from when I grew up there, as a ’90s teen. in a breakfast at tiffany’s kind of way, walking up and down newark street (in cleveland park) always turns my frowns upside down. it’s just so beautiful & peaceful there — walking through is like a retreat. from a livability stand-point, columbia heights has a lot going for it. bloomingdale has charm too. this is actually quite tough, because I have a pollyanna tendency with my city: generally finding something of merit in most neighborhoods.

cheap haircut: eek. I do this myself. usually with some blunt scissors and over the kitchen sink. it’s very cheap. but I also wouldn’t recommend it. 🙂

best drinking holes: I adore the drinks at room 11 (the gin/lavender honey/chamomile one is my favorite — full stop). hmm…also the drink menu at taan is quite dreamy. the red derby is a gem because you can drink cheap beers and play connect 4 at the same time, which is aspirational. I’ll also give the raven a nod, because it’s very comfortable, affordable and low-key.

best coffee or tea houses: my favorite spot might just be firehook (in cleveland park) because they have an actual vineyard outdoor seating area in the back. it isn’t advertised either, so it doesn’t overcrowd. to have a canopy of interwoven grape vines overhead, with dappled leafy light, and a small fountain with birds– it’s like a sanctuary in the city. runners up for tea, I frequent teaism (gen ma cha!) & dolcezza (orchid oolong). although if you’re feeling like a grand dame, having afternoon tea at the willard is the most elegant experience—bar none. tufted chairs, beaux arts opulence… the last time that I had something to really celebrate, I went there with my mom.

best radio station / web station: I’m awfully partial to WBAR (college radio-and-web station out of NYC…where I was actually a DJ for several years). I’ll also give a shout-out to howard U’s radio station which can play some great deep cuts. especially dig their sunday night soul.

cool cinemas: e street! also, west end in georgetown.

best used bookstores: kultura’s is great. second story is a legend. idle time offers a really a pleasant browsing/shopping experience too. oh, but, the cleveland park library does an epic seasonal book-sloughing that is not to be missed. an entire whole foods bag (yes, this is now a unit of measurement) can be filled with as many books as possible for $3.

best place to see art: hillyer art space is pretty great. and I love its neighbor, the philips too. the fridge is also well worth the visit. but let’s just discuss and appreciate for a moment how all of the smithsonian museums are free to the public. d.c. makes me spoiled with all its free museums.

best local bands, artists, writers, designers: the indie surf revival band beach week. emma fisher at the fridge… morgan hungerford west.

parks and green spaces: c&o canal! spanish steps! the potomac overlook is also so key and you feel hidden away, but up high like you’re some powerful hawk in an eyrie. the rope swing on the potomac… (every year the cops tear it down and every year the kids put it right back up. it’s now in a slightly new location. but you can still swing into the river. not for the faint of heart, but perhaps a right of passage when young.)  peirce mill barn…marks an ideal swimming spot in rock creek when the weather heats up.

unmissable highlights: h street corridor. food trucks. smithsonian & other museums (like the textile museum). let’s do some pairings by neighborhood: c&o canal + baked & wired cupcakes. national cathedral + bishop’s garden of course. eastern market + fridge. kennedy center + watergate. ¶ a personal fave is the maine avenue fish market. and the awakening sculpture. I also love what I call the “secret clubhouse abandoned building” by the dancing crab. also, dc brau does free tours. franciscan monastery has beautiful gardens. the “spite house” in alexandria, virginia. toward the bizarre end, the DEA showcases property seized from drug busts — think fancy bling, bongs and more. stranger still, they’ve built simulated “head shops” & “crack dens” — as a cultural study, the curatorial propaganda is just as worthy of examination as the things in the glass cases are. oh, and I recommend catching the DC roller girls. they’ll make you a derby fan. (watch otessa’s videos on the exorcist steps and the c&o canal here)

fairbanks, alaska!

by anne kristoff, a photographer, writer and artist (and formerly a music publicist for missy elliott and ac/dc!) whose work has appeared in travel + leisure, bust and budget travel, among others. she sells photographic prints on etsy: poof NY and anne kristoff: capture + release.

best venues: the marlin, the pub, college coffeehouse, the blue loon.

best record stores: vinyl albums hidden at the secondhand stores around town. local music: college coffeehouse.

best vintage / thriftstores: some folks would say the transfer site. also, search at value village and definitely chartreuse (sheri does a great job of curating the collection there)

cheap eats: sam’s sourdough café, miguel’s.

not so cheap eats: turtle club, lavelle’s.

vegetarian-friendly eats: thai house, pita place.

best neighborhood: taiga woodlands.

cheap haircut: fort wainwright PX barber shop (men), elements day spa (women).

best drinking holes: the mecca, the big I, the howling dog.

best coffee or tea houses: college coffeehouse.

best radio station / web station: KSUA and KUAC.

cool cinemas: the blue loon.

best used bookstores: gulliver’s and forget me not.

best place to see art: well street, alaska house.

best local bands: young fangs, phineas gage, thought trade. artists adam ottavi, briana reagan, mark leon, mark fejes. writers gary black. designers sue sprinkle.

parks and green spaces: the triangle (new greenspace downtown), ester park, granite tors.

unmissable highlights: UAF museum of the north, biking along farmer’s loop, paddling down the chena river, breathing in 40 below zero air, fireworks on new year’s eve, rainbows at 3am in the summer.

 

berlin, germany

by yoshi nakamoto, drummer for the aislers set, eux autres and still flyin’. his hometown is san francisco. in 2009, while on tour with eux autres he met laura in berlin and fell in love. in 2011, he moved to germany to live with her. they have two cats, felt and billie holiday. yoshi works as a video producer for a language learning publisher.

best venues there are lots and lots of venues throughout this city and lots and lots of touring bands that come visit. we’re blessed here. two of the best shows (electrelane and black dice) that I’ve seen in berlin were at festsaal-kreuzberg. I loved the venue marie antoinette the night that je suis animal played, je suis animal is absolute magic, I love them. I always look forward to seeing shows at rotor salon, o tannenbaum and schokoladen. ¶ earlier this year I saw the magnetic fields and amor de días play in a beautiful church, passionskirche. If you have the chance to catch a band there, make sure you do, there’s a beautiful mood inside. ¶ if you’re around on a wednesday night, spend an evening checking out the free jazz nights at b-flat and zosch, in the mitte district. from 8 – 10, la foot creole play new orleans style jazz in the very nostalgic-like cellar of zosch. after you’re done with that gig, walk a short few blocks to b-flat for their weekly jam session, which is great for fans of be-bop and on till late.

best record stores try bis aufs messer for new hits and platten pedro for old hits. there are a ton of record dealers at the massive sunday flea market at mauerpark.

best vintage/thriftstores KDW, housed in an old GDR supermarket that still looks like it’s straight out of the 1970s, complete with counters and deli signage intact. this place is crammed with furniture, books, records and relics. ¶ there are fantastic flea markets spread out in the city every sunday like; mauer park, arkonaplatz, hallentrödelmarkt treptow and boxhagner.

cheap eats the picadillo burrito, homemade chips and guacamole at ta’ cabron. the daily special at hamy. the ramen and gyoza at cocolo. the pizza at zia maria or il casolare. the pho and spring rolls at monsieur vuong. currywurst at curry 36. the gemüse kebap at mustafas (icons of berlin street food, mustafa and curry 36 are on the same block of mehringdamm, you can’t miss them because there are lines all day long. I’d recommend hitting up both and sharing). the falafel or schwarma plates at babel or maroush. gözleme at knofi. the jiaozi (vegetarian or pork) at wok show.

not so cheap eats when you come visit me, I’ll take you to schwarzwaldstuben on the first night and you’ll likely want to return on your last night in the city. this is my favorite place to eat in berlin, the food never fails and the mood is rather relaxed. I usually always ordert the schnitzel and the rothaus beer on tap. there are great vegetarian options here—the spätzle or the maultaschen. the place isn’t too expensive and you can easily get out of here having spent a little under 20 euros. ¶ the food hall on the sixth floor of the department store kadawe is food porn. a mesmerizing medley of food and drinks from all over the world. there are over 30 gourmet counters spread out on the floor where you can have a seat and treat yourself to whatever your heart desires. the fish bar is first-rate.

vegetarian-friendly eats viasko, straight up vegan and straight up delicious in a british pub-like atmosphere. yellow sunshine has a tasty vegan currywurst in addition to veggie/vegan burgers. I’ve never been to cookies cream but I’d like to—it’s on my date-night list.

best ice cream sicilian pistachio at vanille-marille.

best neighborhood prenzlauer berg. I live on the street schönhauser allee and I love that I can walk out my front door and be in one of the hearts of the city. it’s the best neighborhood for walks. the kids these days gravitate toward kreuzberg and neukölln, which is where many of the bars and venues are.

cheap haircut hoshi mitte. it’s not necessarily cheap, but if you happen to have difficult hair (i.e japanese hair), the all-japanese staff know how to navigate it and fashion it into something chic.

best drinking holes das gift in neukoln. co-owned by barry burns of mogwai and featuring a great selection of scottish whiskies and ale. I’d definitely recommend ordering a few pints of the zirndorfer landbier, a franconian beer that’s near impossible to find on tap in berlin. das gift has the best jukebox in germany—you can select from playlists curated by david cross, mike joyce/smiths, bob nastanovich/pavement, deerhoof and many of your other favorite artists. ¶ when it’s not winter, I go to prater garden in prenzlauer berg as much as I can. my local drinking hole is the oldest biergarten in berlin. a lovely place to drink especially when the sun is out or at night under the strings of lightbulbs. they serve sausages, pretzels, roasted almonds and many other biergarten-y food. perfect for birthday parties (unless your birthday is in the winter!). ¶ drinking on the street, in parks, in the subways, while walking your cat on a leash is totally OK. even the cops are drinking beers on their beat. you don’t ever have to be without a beer in your hand.

best coffee or tea houses bonanza.

best radio station we’re lucky to have NPR berlin on the dial. I heard both tally ho! and tender trap on radio eins late last monday night. flux FM is a very good friend of the indie.

cool cinemas hackesche höfe kino. you can see your woody allen and your lars von trier here. if you want your hollywood blockbuster, hit the cinestar sony center. if you happen to be in berlin in february, don’t miss the berlinale film festival when the city becomes the film capital of the world for ten snowy days. I make sure to catch a film at the beautiful friedrichstadt-palast, which usually is home to musicals but opens it’s curtains for film during the festival. the berlinale jury president for 2013 is wong kar wai! that man is magnificent!

best used bookstores another country. a secondhand bookstore where you can borrow any of their books for 1,50 euros.

best place to see art my first choice is always the martin-gropius bau, I’ve seen really, really wonderful exhibits by ai weiwei and olafur eliasson. there is usually a great photo exhibit up at the C/O berlin. you can have a very hands-on experience at the DDR museum. it’s small but smart at the bauhaus museum.

best local bands stereo total, of course. I found out about an awesome berlin band, make out!, on my friend chantal’s excellent berlin gig guide the craze. sadly, I found out about make out! just as they were playing their last show. I saw hamburg’s the honeyheads here back in may and I fell for them hard. and since I’m bringing up hamburg, I must give a shout out to trip the light fantastic and to andreas dorau, who is the könig of german pop!

parks and green spaces berlin is green. parks are everywhere and are the most popular destination when the weather is nice. germans love parks … ice cream, hand-clapping to songs and barbeques. my favorites parks to visit are treptower park in treptow, viktoriapark in kreuzberg, schoßpark in pankow, tiergarten, humboldthain park in wedding. the little park that surrounds the wasserturm prenzlauer berg is a nice spot to read a book.

unmissable highlights berlin is a big city and a very bike-friendly city; and cycling through the city is the best and funnest way to see it. renting a bike is easy and cheap. I’d suggest heading over to templehof—the former international airport that has been turned into a public park—and speeding down the runway. bike through tiergarten, stop at the schleusenkrug biergarten and have a glass of my favorite german beer, andechser. head over to treptower park and visit the grand soviet war memorial, prepared to be impressed. cycle out to my favorite swimming hole, krumme lanke in the grunewald forest. In any direction thay you pedal, you’ll run into (not literally, I hope!) something pretty cool to see. berlin is a special place, I feel so fortunate to live here, I hope you visit soon.

photographs courtesy of yoshi nakamoto!

 

 

honey-kennedy-gail-ohara-london-8-jessica-from-the-would-be-goods

notting hill/bayswater, london (part two)

by jessica griffin, the leader of fantastic london pop group the would-be-goods, mum to an oxford student, foodie and psychology enthusiast, among many other things. she has lived in the neighborhood for 23 years! chickfactor can attest to the super-greatness of al waha as mentioned below…

best venues: the tabernacle, powis square.

best record stores: rough trade, 130 talbot road.

best thriftstore: fara, 10 elgin crescent.

cheap eats: books for cooks (great cookery book shop with test kitchen and café at the back), 4 blenheim crescent. taqueria, 139 westbourne grove. royal china (daytime only, for dim sum). tawana (authentic, friendly thai), 3 westbourne grove.

not so cheap eats: al waha (best lebanese in london), 75 westbourne grove. hereford road, 3 hereford road.

vegetarian-friendly eats: ottolenghi, 63 ledbury road; al waha (see above).

best drinking holes: cock and bottle (splendid traditional pub), 17 artesian road.

best coffee or tea houses: during the summer and early autumn, the temporary pavilion next to the serpentine gallery, kensington gardens. a different architect or artist designs the pavilion each year.

cool cinemas: gate picturehouse, 87 notting hill gate.

best used bookstores: notting hill books, 32 palace gardens terrace.

best local bands, artists, writers, designers: simon fisher turner (film music composer and erstwhile king of luxembourg).

parks and green spaces: kensington gardens, bayswater road (or kensington gore).

unmissable highlights: artisan du chocolat (best chocolates — and hot chocolate — in london, or maybe anywhere), 81 westbourne grove. leighton house museum, 12 holland park road, kensington.

photo of jessica by gail o’hara.