Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New Englands Best Spots...Nostalgia

As most of you likely know, I am originally from New England.  New Hampshire to be exact.  I am sure this conjures up images of forest, the ocean, winding back country roads, mountains shrouded in greenery, and more of the like in all of your minds.  That is exactly what makes up New Hampshire.  You hit the nail on the head.  And for me growing up, that was part of the problem.

So naturally, throughout my teens and into my mid-twenties, I could not have left New Hampshire fast enough.  To me, it signaled boredom.  Stillness.  New Hampshire seemed flat, uninteresting, a dead end to me in terms of where I thought I wanted to go.  So I moved to Boston as soon as I finished college, all but racing my way to the European-esque, charming, historic, hoppin city of Beantown.

I could not get there fast enough.  And thankfully Boston ended up being all I had imagined it would be.  Happening, scenic and inviting, home to a number of its own interesting distinct sub-sections of the city (much like NYC).  Back Bay (glam, swanky/cutting edge bars and bumping nightlife), the South End (up and coming, trendy), the North End (European, charming), Beacon Hill (stately, old money), Harvard Square (hipster, red-bricked prestige), the list goes.  I would be disheartened to meet someone who could possibly find themselves bored in a city like Boston.  Boston is where its at.

And then, as most of you also know, I took off from Boston for life across the pond (after having lived there for six years to be exact).  I was in search of a new adventure.  The timing of my life events as of late having seemingly aligned to invite such a jump.  I began this new chapter of my life overseas in Prague (Sept, 2013) to be exact and then, packing my four suitcases into the back of a car, moved to Germany a few months later.  My swift move from Prague to Germany, the result of an impulsive romantic idealization which like most of them, turned out to be largely disillusionment.  However, this move was life changing, monumental for me regardless, and very much meant to be.

The life I have created, the experiences I have had over the past nearly three years, the close friendships I have built, the adventures I have gone on, the qualities within myself that I have both strengthened as well as discovered, all of this has been astoundingly worthwhile and extraordinary for me.

With all of that said, of course I experience nostalgia for where I am from.  And often.  Even more shockingly, much of this nostalgia (especially within the last half year or so) has been directed just as often at New Hampshire as it is towards Boston.  What for years totally turned me off and repelled me from New Hampshire living has come to be something of a draw and enticement.  I find myself missing the glittering blanket of snow that gets dumped across the region every winter.  I long to see the explosion of fiery fall foliage that occurs each autumn when the leaves catch flame (sure, one can see something similar elsewhere, but nowhere else is it as eye-catching and colorful).  The images of the ocean, the glassy surface of the numerous lakes sprinkled throughout the state, hiking in the mountains, all entices.  Those lone, forever-stretching, winding back country roads, instead of seeming boring, invite the idea of long, peaceful drives.  Autumn country fairs seem quaint, communal and charming to me, instead of smelly, cramped and boring like they used to seem. 

No, I am not moving to New Hampshire just yet ;-) I still have adventure stirring around in my heart, edging me towards more excitement.  But who knows what the future holds...lets wait and see.

Without further ago though, I decided to write a round-up of my own favorite spots in New England, those that are particularly nostalgic and are especially powerful draws for me:

Mt. Kearsarge, in Sunapee, New Hampshire
I hiked this mountain numerous times as a child with my family.  Its a short and sweet one, just a half an hour to the top or so.  The views at the peak are sweeping, really breathtaking.  Its a really easy hike and makes for a naturesque and peaceful weekend afternoon activity.  Especially in the fall when the trees are alight with foliage.  And it leaves more then enough time to grab dinner at a cute little New England diner on the drive home.

North Conway, New Hampshire/White Lake State Park
I went camping here a handful of times with my family growing up, as well as with my ex, and I LOVED it every time.  The town is serene, laid back and inviting.  A charming little lakeside town surrounded by mountains.  My favorite part about camping here?  Lying waterside for the afternoon.  The views are spectacular.

White Lake State Park

White Lake State Park

Concord, New Hampshire

(Especially White Park and Main Street). 

Ah yes.  Where I grew up!  I spent the first 16 years of my life in this town. 

White Park especially has deep meaning for me.  I went to this park at least once a week for years and years while growing up.  Sometimes more often.  The stories I can conjure from my childhood that took place in this park are limitless.  Hunting for frogs with my dad and brother in the pond (catching a frog = standard, bronze level.  Bull frog = advanced, silver, meaning you are a seasoned frog hunter.  And finally, a turtle = champion level, nearly impossible, platinum.  If you could nab a turtle, you were God.  And yes, of course, we always put them back in the pond afterwards).  Truth or dare played in the shadows with groups of friends on Saturday night.  Playing Hide and Go Seek on the playground.  Feeding the ducks in the pond.  Attempting to float a raft across the pond to retrieve a duck egg in the skewed illogical illusion of hoping to raise this said duck ourselves.  Skipping school and hiding in the park (shhhh, don't tell any of my current students that ;-)). 
As I said, the list goes on.

And Main Street. I used to hang out here ALL the time.  This is the main stretch through the center of town.  Charming, red bricked, lined with restaurants, little boutique shops, bookstores and the like.  Main Street is part of my childhood.

See photos below....

White Park

White Park

White Park playground

White park.  I remember this bridge like it was yesterday.  I used to love sitting on it.

The State House.

Downtown, Main Street.  I took all of the following photos of downtown/Main Street area....see below.

This used to be a pizza place called Foodies.  I worked here in high school!!

Main Street

Main Street

Main Street

Main Street

Boston, Massachusetts. 
I lived here for six years before moving to Europe.  Boston is one of my favorite cities in the world.  Boston has SO many mouthwatering and diverse restaurants, so many fun things to do, so many interesting activities to check out.  Enough said.
(I took all of these photos.  Besides the ones I am in ;-p)

Plymouth, Massachusetts. 
I ventured here once on a weekend with an ex of mine.  We wanted to check out the Mayflower and had heard it was a charming little day trip.  We really enjoyed it.  Cozy, picturesque, seaside cute and lovely.  We came home tanner, with a box of cupcakes, a camera with a plethora of new photos added, and with full stomachs of delectable seafood.

Definitely worth stopping by Cupcake Charlies while in town.  Super yummy.

As well as having lunch at the Lobster Hut.  Tasty seafood here!  And a nice little spot to sit outside and smell the ocean air as you eat.

Plum Island/Newburyport, Massachusetts. 
I have gone here many times over the past 8 years or so.  My Mom, sister and myself came here for a number of my birthdays, this being the chosen spot for celebration.  I always loved that.  Presents wrapped in colorful paper, snacks packed into Tupperware, and even an entire cake was lugged here on these days of celebration.  I also came here with others to lounge seaside and soak in the sun on this surprisingly small little beach.  I LOVE the local restaurant, Michael's Harborside.  They have awesome fish tacos and strawberry shortcake.

Michael's Harborside

La Carreta restaurant, New Hampshire
One of my very favorite Mexican food restaurants for literally over a decade.  La Carreta and I go WAY back.  So many memories here.  They have literally the best bean and cheese nachos ever.

Keene, New Hampshire.  Where I went to university!!!! 
Gosh, I have so many memories here obviously.  So much nostalgia is tucked into this little town for me.  I could write a small book on it. 

And the Pumpkin Festival that took place here every OctoberKeene was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most carved and lit pumpkins in one spot.  This was SO much fun, absolutely amazing.

Sunapee Lake Region in New Hampshire
Gorgeous.  Such an inviting place to visit.  Time slows to a halt here.  This is also where one of my favorite bands, Aerosmith wrote one of my favorite songs, Dream On.

Gunstock and Pats Peak ski mountains in New Hampshire
I learned to ski on Pats Peak, beginning when I was just 8 years old!!  And I have gone to Gunstock many times over the years, both with my mom and sister, as well as with friends.  I love it.



Pats Peak

Pats Peak

Newport, Rhode Island. 
Ultra swanky, white sand beaches, New England charm, picturesque, gorgeous. 

Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 
Another one of my favorites.  Ultra New England.  Red brick, storybook charming streets, cute little mom-and-pop restaurants, little hole-in-the-wall bars, and charming little shops.  A one-hour drive away from where I grew up.  This is where the ocean is.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.  
(This is in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  The same area as just above).  As the years have gone by, sadly Hampton Beach has gone downhill, growing seedier and slightly trashy.  But when I was a child, it was the ultimate place to go, symbolizing teenage freedom, rebellion, and family vacation, all rolled into one.  I know, a funny combination. 
The main strip is filled with arcades, pizza joints, down to earth restaurants, concert halls, etc.  The beach stretches on endlessly.  Come summer, its always packed.         

There you have it.  A compilation of the spots I spent throughout my childhood, as well as just the places that have secured favorite spots in my heart over the years.  If you visit New England area,I highly recommend any of them.

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