#AdventureswithKaren: Episode 4

The past few weeks have been full of breathtaking sights, great bites, and other travel delights. So where have my adventures taken me since we last checked in? 

Philadelphia, PN:
A must-see in Philadelphia is the Schuylkill River Trail. When completed, it is set to stretch over 130 miles along the river. I ran only a few miles along the path but got a taste of how refreshing and beautiful it is. Patrons have the option of renting kayaks and other water sports equipment, and on occasion there are community led yoga classes on the grass. 

A must-taste in Philly is Vedge. This vegetable based restaurant is exactly what I look for in a vegetarian or vegan restaurant; it makes tasty dishes using fresh ingredients and creates innovative flavor combinations. Many vegan restaurants default to recreating existing foods like reuben sandwiches or burgers, and they generally fail to do anything exciting with vegetables. 

Vedge on the other hand, does the opposite. This was my second time being there, and Joe, the friendly host, even remembered me! He made sure to take care of me and Tamina on our visit, providing us with extra plates of appetizers and desserts. Thanks for taking care of us Joe, we'll of course be back to visit again! 


Amazing desserts
Boston, MA:
The last time I was in Boston, I hardly saw the city. This time around I made sure to make my way around town:
Harvard University
Harvard's picturesque campus

An afternoon pick me up at Crema Cafe
I took a stroll through Harvard University as well as Harvard Business School. I was astounded by both campus' pristine beauty. I applied to HBS' Two Plus Two Program when I was a junior at UCLA, and it was interesting to see where I would've ended up if I had gotten accepted into the program.

Boston Commons is a beautiful park, albeit too small for a hearty run. I ventured a little outside of the immediate area and found a river path along Charles River, which is worth the extra half mile if you're looking to do a long run.
Boston Commons

Reunited with one of my best friends from UCLA

Montreal, QC:
The last time I visited Montreal was with the Yeezus Tour during the winter time, and it was much too cold to explore the outdoors. Thankfully, it was a solid 80 degrees and sunny when I was there.

I took a train to Mile End, a neighborhood full of funky vintage stores and trendy coffee shops. The day I was roaming around was also the day of the USA vs. Netherlands soccer match. I plopped into Cafe Olimpico and ordered an iced coffee, which was so small I thought it was a sample cup. But alas, it wasn't. Although small the coffee was tasty, and it was the perfect refreshment to quell my stress as I sat in the packed cafe watching the game with 50 other patrons. It was a memorable experience, grieving with strangers over the US team's utter lack of offensive talent:

Beautiful art in Mile End
I also tried out two new vegan cafes that were astonishingly close to the other vegan restaurant, Crudessence, that I had tried the last time I was in Montreal. La Panthere and Aux Vivres had similar offerings of sandwiches and salads. While La Panthere had heartier portions, Aux Vivres had more variety and a wider selection of take-out items:
La Panthere and Crudessence on Mackay St. 

Pita pocket with veggie pate from La Panthere

Quebec, QC:
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the city of Quebec because it seemed much too touristy for my tastes. However, the more I walked around the more I realized the city's charm. Vieux Quebec, or "Old Quebec", is a historic area in Quebec that is great for shopping and dining. But what really makes Vieux Quebec so magical is the architecture:






And whether you're looking to take a short stroll or to go on a long run, the Plains of Abraham will surely satisfy your outdoor leisure activity needs. The park was also where most of the Festival d'ete de Quebec was held. Unlike other festivals like FYF or Coachella in which several stages are set up in one open space or field, this festival had 10 stages spread out all over a small area in the city. The 11 day festival also featured an interesting eclectic lineup of acts from unknown indie rock bands to uber famous pop artists. I was really excited I was in town when Local Natives was performing, and even got to watch their set with a few friends from the VIP section:


Dancing in the rain with Nick, Kevin, and Giannini at Local Natives' set at Festival d'ete de Quebec
With the cardboard versions of Tegan and Sara

Having some fun at the festival photo booth
Ottawa, ON:
From Quebec we traveled East to Ottawa. I only had a few hours in the morning to run around the city but managed to find a beautiful path along the Ottawa River. The views were incredible:

Parliament

Panoramic view from the viewpoint



Toronto, ON:
I was really excited to have a few days in Toronto, and made sure to revisit familiar spots like Kensington Market and Superfood Eateries:
University of Toronto


Bunner's, a gluten free and vegan bakery

Urban Herbivore


A salad from Urban Herbivore
Another area that I found quite charming was Queen St. West in Trinity Bellwoods. A few stops on the southbound train and a 20 minute walk past the stretch of generic retail shops is an area with a bit more character. I took at pit stop at R Squared for a refreshing coconut almond coffee, and bought a few locally produced kombuchas from This is a Feast. For dinner, I got a delicious meal from Live Organic Foods
I took advantage of a new student discount at 889 Yoga Studios and took three different classes. The classes weren't exceptional, but barely acceptable because the studio was conveniently located around the block from where I was staying. Yoga pal Sloan took from iAm Yoga and had a great experience, so perhaps I'll give that studio a try the next time I'm in Toronto.

Chicago, IL:
When I was in Chicago a few weeks ago I stumbled upon the food festival, Taste of Chicago, while walking around in Grant Park. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Janelle Monae and Gary Clark Jr. were performing that evening. I grabbed a glass of red vino, met up with a few friends, and spent the evening jamming to some amazing live music:


Stephanie, Ian, and I at Taste of Chicago

I also took a few yoga classes while I was in Chicago at Village Yoga. The classes were very intimate with at most 5 students per session, and like the classes in Toronto just barely tolerable. The more I explore yoga around the country the more I realize the strength of the yoga culture in LA. Alas, there is only one Joan Hyman or Vytas in the world, and they only exist in LA! 


San Antonio, TX:
Where to begin about San Antonio? There is ironically so much to say about a town that offers so little to do. My first endeavor was to find a good yoga studio. I think after the two disappointing studios I was on a mission to find a good practice. Montana and I tried an hour long flow class at Southtown Yoga Loft, but I again left unsatisfied.

From there we walked about 45 minutes in the 90 degree weather (which was QUITE the accomplishment) to Green Vegetarian Cuisine. The food was fine, but had a distinct flavor of being a chain vegan restaurant like Native Foods or Veggie Grill.

On the walk back into town we couldn't help but notice how empty the streets were. The city itself looked like a scene out of an old western movie: a plethora of abandoned buildings set in a backdrop of monochromatic brown-ish dust.

I insisted on visiting The Alamo, and after about 10 minutes of strolling the historic site we were ready to leave. At least we got a fun picture in:
Houston, TX:
Still fueled with determination to find a good yoga class, Sloan and I jogged to YogaOne on Travis St. to take the $5 community class. I've taken classes taught by amateur teachers before, but this class was by far the absolute worst yoga class I have ever taken in my 5 years of practice. There was no flow and absolutely no logic in the order of her asanas. I understand she was a teacher in training, but there was no excuse for her utter lack of expertise in the practice. The silver lining of it all was the delicious juice bar located inside of the studio, from which I purchased a maple cashew coffee drink. It was delicious!

Later that evening I took a jog along the Buffalo Bayou, and strolled through the Inspiration Green Park. I met up with a friends at The Dirt Bar, which is a great little rock and roll bar at which to gather and a have a few drinks.
A great spot to grab a cup of coffee and do some reading is Ben's Beans. I met up with San Diego friends Kevin and Dea there for a little pick me up:


Check back again soon for more recaps and adventure highlights!