Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Lancaster PA is surprisingly really good.

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To be honest, going into Lancaster I wasn’t expecting much. Most of my recent trips to the state of PA have been pretty disappointing and I didn’t think this would be any different.

But Lancaster is really nice.

I would add Lancaster to my trip list of surprisingly nice towns, along with, Lake Placid and Niagara Falls.

So why did I decide to go to Lancaster?

Well, first of all, it is a quick drive 2 and 1/2 to 3 hour drive from N.Y.C.  Very manageable with a small child and my son usually sleeps for the first 2-hours in the car anyway.

Secondly, the town is supposed to have a lot of kid activities, which it did. So I figured we can make a quick summer trip out of it.

Our first stop into town was the Lancaster central market, which is located in downtown Lancaster.

What most people don’t realize, is that not every part of Lancaster is Amish. Lancaster is a real city, with a real downtown area.   The farms and “country-life” are located outside of downtown, but surprisingly not very far.

My first impressions of “downtown” Lancaster?

“Not bad. Definitely old, possibly up and coming.”

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I was trying to think of what town it reminded me of. Possibly a smaller, cleaner version of Philadelphia or maybe a much cleaner Allentown.

There are a bunch of old row houses and a decent central area with a some trendy restaurants.

The central market is nice, it has a collection of Amish stores where you can buy locally made products.

central-market

We made a quick stop for a bite to eat before we shipped out to the hotel.

We stayed at the “Eden resort”, which was recommended to me from a good friend.

The hotel was extremely nice, and very good for kids. They have a big indoor and outdoor pool section, along with sprinklers, basketball courts and a playground.

Very, very nice hotel.

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Which takes us to actual Amish country.

Amish country is wild. I was expecting to see maybe one or two Amish people if I was lucky, but was I wrong.

Amish people are all over the place, working, traveling around, etc. While driving around for an hour in our car, we passed at least 40 horse and buggies traveling along side the highway, along with bicycles and scooters.

Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, Amish Horse And Buggy.

The farms are also fascinating. You will pass farms all the time driving through PA or going to upstate NY, but you won’t see a farm being actually worked on with physical labor like you do in Amish country. “Some” of the Amish will use a minimal amount of electricity and machinery while others will use close to nothing. But overall you will see almost everyone outside working on their farms during the day.

Prior to traveling, I though I would see evidence of hard living, quite the contrary. Believe it or not, it looks like a good life. They live on large farms with a great sense of community, they eat the freshest food available, they are all married and they have large families (7 kids on average)

Which takes us to the food. I couldn’t stop eating the entire trip.

The Amish make a ton of baked good, such as moon pies, shoefly pie, sticky buns, cakes and all of the organic meat and vegetables tasted outstanding.

amish

We ate at the good and plenty restaurant, which was outstanding, but I have been told there are much better places.

Outside of Amish country, they have some amusement parks (Dutch wonderland), outlet malls and all types of family activity.

Overall, Amish country is a great vacation and I would definitely like to return during a different season.

May not be an exciting trip for a single male, but a lot of fun for a family trip.

Add this to my surprisingly good vacation list.

-John Andre

Check out my book on amazon.com! Book 3 is coming out soon!

Lift Heavy/Run Fast

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As much as people do not like to admit it, running is a timed event.

One of the best parts of being a runner, in my opinion, is that you can compare your times throughout your lifetime.

For example, if you ran 3 miles in 18 minutes in College and now you can run it in 19, you only are a minute slower.

Time is an absolute, definable, measurement.

When it comes to running a fast 3-miler, there are two different ways that I attempt to increase my times.

A) Run less distance but at a faster pace.  For example; if I want to break 21 minutes (7 minutes per mile) I will run 2-2.5 miles in training at a 6:30-6:45 per mile pace.  Once I can handle the shorter distance at a quicker pace, I will try to “hold on” and complete the last half mile on target.

B) Run longer distances but at a slower pace.  In this example, I will try to run 4-5 miles in my training at a 7-7:15 pace.  The benefit would be that a 3 mile race would feel easy and I would be able to run at a faster pace.

The winner?

It is hard to say.  Using the 2-2.5 miles in my training I have been able to run some fast races, but by running slightly longer, I have almost always run fast.

I have a big 3 mile race coming up in a month, and this season I have started to try plan “B” and run slightly longer in practice.

I figure If I can try to get my 4 mile time down to near 28 minutes (7:00 per mile), I should be able to kill that for 3 miles.

We will see.

Personally, I have found that I can run 2-5 miles pretty fast and still be able to weight train heavy.  When I go over 5 miles is when I start to burn off muscle and look worse.

A combination is also good.

Some days you run shorter and fast, some days you run longer and slow.

-John

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

I am officially about 2 months into my 2018 running season and I am finally starting to feel pretty good.

It takes a couple of weeks of going outside before I realize how much I missed running.

The first couple times out are rough, but once you get into a groove, I start to really enjoy my training.

If you want to get fast with running, you just need to run hard.

That means pushing it in your training and also competing often.

For myself, that means either going to a track and timing myself or signing up for many races.

This year, my first official big race is on May 17th.  Since I have about a month until the race, I figured it would be a good idea for me to sign up for a practice race in April.

At least I can see what type of shape I am really in.

To get fast in running, you need to run hard and compete.

All of that practice and slow running is a waste of time if you aren’t getting faster.

Right now, I think I can run 3 miles in close to 21 minutes.  That is a pretty decent time for April, but the only way for me to find out, is to run a race or time myself.

Maybe this weekend.

-John

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

Today I finally made it outside for a lunch-time run instead of using the tread mile.  This winter hasn’t been very cold in NYC, except for one week, but it has been really long.  We have actually had a decent amount of snow into April

Unfortunately with the horrible weather, I have been using the treadmile a lot more instead of going outside.

I have a big race coming up in the middle of May and I am trying to get my 5k time down.  Right now I believe I can run 3 miles in about 21:30ish.

It feels like its been a while since I had a fast run.  Running is a lot of work and I realize that for me to get faster, I really need to get outside more.  The treadmile helps, but it’s not the same as training outside.

Just like everything else in life, there really aren’t any shortcuts.  If you want to get strong, fast or cut, you need to put in the work.

If you want to become a doctor, expect to be in College for at least 10 years.

If you want to become a lawyer, expect several years of law school after College.

It also helps to have years of experience when it comes to training.

Today as I was out running, I started to reflect on my running career and I realized that I have been running off and on now for almost 25 years.

That is a long time.

Last week when I was on vacation, I unfortunately lost my G.P.S running watch somewhere in Georgia.  Luckily, I always keep an old running watch around, so today I used one of watches that I had saved from College.

It’s a very basic watch, obviously made before GPS was created, but it still works.

And to be honest, I felt better without the stupid GPS.

I went for a nice run by just using the basic time.  I knew when I reached 14 minutes that I was probably near 2-miles and when I was passed 21 minutes I estimated that I had probably passed 3-miles.

It almost felt liberating that I didn’t know my running pace for every second and I can just go at my own pace.

If you think about it, I set almost all of my running personal bests before GPS watches were invented.  The only way I was able to officially time myself was on a track or during a race.

Sometimes I would even measure out a 3-mile course with my car and then memorize it.

But part of being successful in running, earning money or your career; is that you need a long-term pattern of consistently.

I saw a guy eating a slice of Pizza today on my commute home and I have to admit, I was really jealous.

It’s not that I will never eat pizza, but definitely not on a random ride home from work. And I started thinking about how long I have been dieting.

This year will be my 9th straight year of bodybuilding.  That means for 9 years in a row I have been lifting weights, running, fasting and building a 6-pack every summer.

That has to help at me some point.  That is 9 years straight of being on a strict diet.

I am going to turn 39 this year and I can already see that I look a lot younger than my peers.  It wasn’t as clear when I was 25, but now at nearly 39, it is a big difference.

Making an effort matters.

Its the same with saving money.  I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagine, but, I did save money for the least several years consistently.

Small efforts help.

If you are either training harder than your competition, studying harder or saving more money than everyone around you, long-term, it will really start to add up.

The key is to never quit and keep pushing yourself.

-John

Book 3 coming this summer!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

Savannah in one word? Historic beauty.

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Is that two words? Either way, Savannah is a beautiful city and if you are a history buff like I am, it is a great place to visit.

I love the city planning that was involved in creating Savannah.  Savannah is divided up into numerous “squares”, that each have some historical reference.

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The city also has a large centrally located park, named “Forsyth Park”, that is constantly filled with people.

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What I also love so much about Savannah, is that is it so walkable.

Whether you walk around the riverfront area or around some of the “squares”, there is just so much to see.

The weather is also great, although I heard it is really hot in summer, but you also have Tybee Beach only 30 minutes away.

The food is also outstanding and the city has an open container law (although I am not sure if that is city-wide or just in the tourist area’s)

This was the 2nd time I have been to Savannah, and several years ago it seemed to have more of a crime element.

Now? It seemed like it cleaned up a lot more.  Maybe something to do with the high real estate prices? I am not sure, but outside of 2 or 3 vagrants in some of the parks, I didn’t really seen any problems at all.

Overall, Savannah is a beautiful city and deserves a good 3-day weekend trip.

What are the negatives?

  • Not 100% kid friendly.  There is the park and some horse ride tours, but overall, there isn’t really much for kids to do.  They would be better off at the beach during the day.
  • Although it’s a large city, it doesn’t feel much like a “real” city.  Meaning, it feels like the main industry is tourism. It would be a good place to retire, but not sure if I could build a career there.

But besides those two negatives, and they are small negatives, Savannah is still a very nice city.

Beautiful architecture, great food and nightlife, warm weather and a close drive to the beaches.

Overall rating, “A-“

Hilton Head is nice, really nice.

gilron head

I always seems to have a good time in South Carolina; whether it’s in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Charleston or others.

When I was planning my Hilton Head trip, I told my wife to think of it as a potential retirement spot.

Although I am not a big golfer, I would definitely prefer to retire somewhere South of NYC, where the weather is better and the taxes are lower.

Although, I really enjoyed Hilton Head and I would highly recommend it, I don’t believe I can retire there.

Reason?

It’s too “resorty”.  I believe almost 70% of Hilton Head is owned by private communities, but don’t get me wrong, Hilton Head is beautiful.

Pros: Warm weather but not as unbearable as Southern Florida.  Very clean and manicured with outstanding golf and tennis courts. Appears to have very good health care options with an active senior population, along with many young families.

Cons: Expensive for South Carolina.  Mostly private resorts with annoying security guards.  Reminded me of Boca Raton.

Overall, Hilton Head is a beautiful city and an excellent place for a family vacation.  Although I wouldn’t retire there personally, I could see how it would make sense for many people.

High recommended: We stayed at the Sonesta that was very nice and I would also recommend Harbour Town. They have a downtown area that has many restaurants, a light house and one of the nicest kids parks I have ever seen.

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My son had a blast.

Hilton Head deserves a “B+”

-John

I must apologize.  Although my blog is called “workout and travel”, all I have been talking about recently is working out.

But now that my son is almost a year old, I am slowly starting to get back into traveling.

Last week, we took a family trip down to Raleigh, Hilton Head S.C. and Savannah GA.

What place was my biggest disappointment?

RALEIGH

North Carolina in general is a hot topic now in NYC.  Not only are many companies relocating down South but many people are also starting to retire outside of NY in greater numbers.

It can make sense, especially if you are living in the tax-hell area’s of long island, westchester and NJ.

You can most likely purchase the same size house for 100-300k cheaper and you will also see your property taxes cut at least in half.

The weather is also slightly warmer, but not much.  So what is the downside?

It’s North Carolina.

Raleigh is pretty terrible.   To be fair, I didn’t visit the wealthy suburbs like Cary and I also didn’t drive around the College campus’s at Duke or NC State.

But Raleigh itself is pretty bad.

It’s a difficult area to describe, but I think my wife said it best “it looks like a run down New Jersey”

The outskirts going into the city looked ugly and the city itself was a complete ghost town on a Saturday.

And you can’t blame that on the weather.

It’s warmer than Boston, Hoboken and Montreal.  All which would be crowded on a Saturday afternoon, especially with March madness basketball going on.

I was also surprised to see some serious blight.   Almost 2 or 3 blocks from the main action on Fayetteville Street, there is some serious poverty.

We also drove around to some of the “corporate” areas and they also reminded me of a worse version of Arlington, VA or Jersey City, NJ.

If you are going to move down South, why stop at North Carolina?

I would take almost every major city in Florida over Raleigh, including Savannah Georgia, Charleston South Carolina and even Washington, DC.

I would like to give it another shot and check out the campuses and possibly Durham, but overall, I was not very impressed.

2 hours+ to the beach, not so great weather, not alot of action.

One of my least favorite cities so far.

Official rating “D”

-John

 

Well, it’s official.  Summer is over, I am done cutting up and I am on vacation this week.  I was supposed to be in Hilton Head, SC but due to the Hurricane, I am doing 3 days in Cape May, NJ before heading to upstate NY.

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I have to admit, it does feel good to finally be able to eat.  After 4 months of hard dieting, I have let myself go these last couple days.

Although I went running outside on Saturday and Monday, I probably came close to doubling my average caloric intake.

One thing that I have noticed about working out and especially bodybuilding, is that you can lose your cuts immediately.

Don’t kid yourself, I could probably put on 5 lbs of body weight over a bad weekend.

And where do you think that body weight is going to hide? Most likely your stomach.

Now, if you have been working out and dieting consistently for weeks, you can get right back on track in 3 or 4 days, but a bad weekend can really hurt you.

DON’T TAKE OFF.

My rule of thumb is that I will allow myself to eat crap for a wedding or birthday party, but besides that, I try to stay on point forever.

I still have an entire week of vacation left and its going to be tough, but I am going to try to slow down.  I don’t need to pig out for 9 days straight.  Although I am probably going to be eating at restaurants, I am going to start ordering more fish and cut the desert to a minimum.

Most importantly, I going to include some workouts on my vacation.  I’m not going to go as crazy as I do during my regular week, but I will at least run or lift light weights in the hotel gym every other day.

So in conclusion, bodybuilding is a lifetime sport.  If you think you can skip the gym or cheat on your diet for over several days, your physique will suffer.

You can lie to yourself, but your body knows the truth and will look accordingly.

-John

Check out my 2 books on amazon.com or support me on patreon!

Lift Heavy/Fun Fast on Amazon.com!

 

 

I know that my blog is called “Workout and Travel”, but all that I have been writing about recently is working out.

In my defense; it’s freezing cold out in NYC and my wife is 5 months pregnant.

We can do some traveling of course, but to be honest, we have started making the slow transition to becoming parents and we don’t plan on traveling much until after child-birth.  We are also in the process of moving to larger apartment and purchasing a new car soon.

Getting ready for a child is a lot of work and we don’t plan on going anywhere major next year until the summer.

My life was very different before I got married.  Before I got married I was traveling almost once a month and I was starting to visit Europe on a regular basis.  To my surprise, some of the places that I visited were actually very “kid friendly”.

Here is my list of vacations that are surprisingly appropriate for children:

  1. Kentucky Derby:  I told my wife I want to take our future kids to the Kentucky Derby and dress them up.  The infield isn’t great for kids, but the grandstand is fine.  Kids like watching the horses.
  2. Oktoberfest, Germany:  I actually have no idea what I am talking about because I have never been, but two of my friends swear to me that it is surprisingly kid-friendly.
  3. Mardi Gras: People think that I am crazy when I say this, but if you stay away from Bourbon Street, the Mardi Gras parades are actually really cool.  I plan on taking my kids there eventually.

Places that are not kid friendly:

  1. St Patrick’s Day Everywhere.  Dublin, Philadelphia, NYC, Boston. etc. I would not recommend bringing your children to any of them.  Too crowded, too much drinking and too much fighting.
  2. Key West, Florida: One of my favorite cities, but not much going on for kids.
  3. Preakness Stakes: Preakness is more of a drinking party than the Kentucky Derby.  I don’t believe I would take them there.
  4. Las Vegas:  Leave the kids at home for this one.

Any suggestions?

As I stated in Part #1 of my vacation/honeymoon, the first stop in our vacation was in Lake George, NY before driving up to Montreal, Canada.

montreal

Now to be fair: I have been to Montreal before.

The first time I was in Montreal was over 10 years ago for a bachelor party and now for my 2nd time, I went with my pregnant wife.  Obviously it was two completely different trips!

When I judge big cities like Montreal, I try to decide if I could live there full-time or not.  Its a different comparison to a vacation spot like Aruba or Cancun.

Overall, I like Montreal.  Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did 10 years ago, it is still a great city and I could definitely live there.

Some of the things I “Like” about Montreal:

  • Large City
  • Different distinct neighborhoods: Hipster, American (Crescent Street), Mostly French area’s, Old-town, etc.
  • Good city for outdoor activities: Mont Royal, etc.
  • Many diverse restaurants
  • Many nightclubs and bars
  • Very clean
  • Relatively safe

Montreal is a real city (unlike Vegas) and is very livable.   The only issue I have with living in Montreal is that you have to enjoy the “French/Quebec” culture.

I personally don’t mind it.  My wife couldn’t STAND it.

My wife HATED Montreal.

Coming from NYC, the restaurant scene can be slightly annoying.  On multiple occasions I either had to wait a long time to sit even though there are open tables or when you finally get a seat, it is difficult to find a waiter.

Coming from New York City, the difference in service was noticeable.

It’s also hard to find simple food.   Street food seemed to be non-existent and just trying to find a simple bottle of water becomes a hassle.

The good news is that almost everyone spoke fluent English (slightly less in Quebec city) and the American Dollar is super strong right now.

I stayed at the W hotel downtown, which was close to “Old Town”.

I would recommend visiting the following:

  • Old town: Touristy but interesting
  • St Laurent Street: Long section of bars/restaurants
  • Crecent street: Bars/restaurants
  • St Catherine: Bars and shopping
  • Mont Royal: Really nice park, can’t miss it
  • Poutine at La Banquise

Overall, Montreal is a really nice city.  There is plenty of activity to keep you busy and I’ve been told that even in the freezing cold winter, Montreal still holds a lot of winter festivals/activities.

I would add Montreal to my top 10 cities in North America/Canada, but I’m not sure if It would crack my top 10.

What does everyone else think of Montreal?

My review of Quebec City coming soon!

-John