Travel: A Hidden Gem

Watkins Glen State Park is a hidden gem of nature I had never heard of before, until recently. Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as hidden as I hear it is actually one of the most famous New York State Parks and the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, yet somehow this amazing oasis of unparalleled beauty had managed to stay out of my radar my whole life.

It first came to my attention (barely!) a few months ago when I pinned a photo of one of its gorgeous cascades to my Travel board on Pinterest. However, even though the beauty portrayed in the photo captured me and it surprised me to read in the caption this was actually located in New York, I didn’t pay any further attention to it. I simply pinned it as yet another place on my travel bucket list that I’d like to visit “someday”.

Little did I know at the time, that for once “someday” wasn’t a vague word to describe a time in the very distant future, and that I would actually be visiting such wonder of the world before the year’s end. It wasn’t even that I planned to visit Watkins Glen State Park this soon, as I didn’t even remember ever pinning a photo of it, let alone its existence, but through various circumstances I found myself visiting the Finger Lakes area a few weeks ago and ended up exactly there in an almost spur-of-the-moment excursion.

I call this park a hidden a gem not only because I went my whole life unaware of it, but also because I’m extremely surprised that its popularity is sort of mild. Sure, there were other visitors exploring the park and hiking its trails while we were there, and I’m sure they get a good flow of tourists all throughout the summer, but its beauty is so incredibly magnificent it should be renowned around the world! It should be a household name, right up there with the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. It may not be as impressive in size, but its beauty will blow your mind.

I have traveled and explored many places in my lifetime, and I can honestly say this place astounded me. I didn’t even explore the whole park, but just the 1.3 miles of the Gorge Trail going over and under tens of waterfalls was enough to fall in love. Even a few weeks later, I still find myself looking at the photos I took of them, again and again. I just can’t get over it. And I’m pretty sure you won’t get over it either if you ever visit the wonderland that is Watkins Glen State Park.

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Travel: NY Photo Diary

I got back from NY a couple of weeks ago but I’m still very much in a New York state of mind, so today I bring you my photo diary from this last trip to one of the most exhilarating cities in the world.
For the first time ever, I ventured out of Manhattan into the increasingly popular Brooklyn, and I am very pleased I did. It’s funny how just crossing one bridge can feel like entering a completely different world, despite their similar old time charm. I only got to roam thru a bit of Prospect Heights and its beautiful Prospect Park, which you can almost consider the Central Park of Brooklyn, before heading straight for some famous Brooklyn pizza right under the Brooklyn bridge and then taking a ferry back to the city. All I can say is, I’ll be back Brooklyn, I’ll be back.
As for Manhattan, I got to finally see the 9/11 Memorial since on all my trips over the last few years, it had always been under construction. It is beautiful and touching as it should be. I also got to see another Broadway classic that has been on my list for a while, Mamma Mia! and I loved it, which I knew I would because I love the movie version just as much. Still, I gotta say Wicked continues to my favorite among the several musicals I’ve been lucky to see.
Another first on this trip was visiting Central Park during dusk. I’ve been there many times before but never when the light is fading and the park is significantly less busy. You get a completely different feel for it without all the hustle and bustle going on. I gotta say I did miss the street entertainers and artists one can usually find on The Mall walk during the day, and I wasn’t very happy to see some rats starting to come out to look for their dinner.
Anyway, after not being able to visit the Top of the Rock on my previous 2 trips because it was so overcast, I decided to make up for it by hanging out there for a while…that while turned into 3 lovely hours of admiring the city from all angles, enjoying a beautiful NY sunset, and getting delighted by all the twinkling city lights. It felt so good to stop for longer than a New York minute to take it all in. Whenever I’m in New York, I’m always rushing trying to make sure I get to see as much as possible, so slowing down was nice for a change. Note to self, remember to do that more often on my future trips.
Oh, New York, New York, how I miss you already! I guess for now I’ll have to settle for looking at these pictures and going over all the memories in my head (and my heart!) time and time again.

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Food: Avocado Corn Salad

Today I’m making a little parenthesis from my Europe travel stories, to bring you a recipe I made yesterday that turned out pretty good, both looking and tasting. It was a cold avocado corn salad that is pretty much the epitome of summer foods: cool, fresh and yummy.
As it’s been often the case lately when it comes to my cooking, I got the recipe from Pinterest, but slightly modified it to suit me and the ingredients I had at hand. I had actually been wanting to make this salad for a quite while, but for whatever reason whenever I craved it I didn’t happen to have all the ingredients available, and kept putting it off. However yesterday, things finally aligned and I had just about all the ingredients to make it happen. Let me tell you, I wish I had made it earlier! It was just perfect.
In fact, it looked and tasted good enough to share on Instagram, which I did and that’s what prompted this foodie post. A couple friends commented on there that they would like the recipe, that I might add it’s ridiculously easy to make, so here it’s my take on the Avocado Corn Salad (to check out the original version, click here):

1 cup cooked corn, fresh or frozen
1 avocado, cut into cubes
1/2 cup yellow sweet onion, diced
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 of a cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!
Makes 2 servings.

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