4 feet 2 mouths

walking and eating our way around the world

Archive for the tag “Beginnings”

New Year, New York (by Carmen)

I heart NY from the Lower East Side

I heart NY from the Lower East Side

We have some catching up to do, but where to start? Our summer in LA? Our quick trip to Portland? Those will come. But for now I’m going to fast forward to today, New Year’s Eve.

For me New Year’s eve is a time of renewal and reflection. Looking back over the past year, Nathan and I took on a lot of “new” – new countries, foods, people, scenery, cultures…even a new marital status! I will forever be grateful for these experiences because I was able to learn more about the world and myself. But this year it was time to set down roots somewhere. While deciding where wasn’t an easy choice we finally did make a decision this past fall – New York!

New York is aptly named as it’s an endless stream of new. New shops and cafes are constantly opening. Little hole in the wall restaurants to expose you to new cultures and cuisines. Snow blanketing the streets and trees every so often making it feel like a new white city, a blank slate on which you can write your own story. It’s our kind of town.

So this is a quick post to say that yes, new posts will be coming ;) We’ve got a lot of exploring to do on the East Coast and, of course, right here in New York.

New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York

– Alicia Keys

A bright and shiny New York

A bright and shiny New York

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What Now? (by Nathan & Carmen)

Returning to San Francicso

Nathan’s favorite restaurant: Sol Food in San Rafael

When we initially thought of traveling for six months to a year the idea was more of a dream than a reality.  Traveling internationally becomes an addiction, some call it the travel bug, but our need to travel became a living necessity after our first trips to Europe.  The symptoms are rather subtle at first: excitement to review photos, enthusiasm when returning to our jobs and enjoyment to fall back into the routine of ordinary life.  Fast forward a couple months and the restlessness initiates the ideas of another big trip start forming.  We typically settle the anxiety through a scattering of weekend trips and hiking adventures.  Eventually the urge to travel becomes so intense that we busy ourselves planning the destinations of our next multi-week exploration.

Carmen on Barcelona steps (2006)

Returning to California meant some big choices.  While there were seemingly endless possibilities of what to do next, for us, it really came down to two.  Option 1 is to settle down somewhere and start job hunting.  “Somewhere” is still to be determined which is both scary and exciting.  Option 2 is to keep going and take the full year off to travel, explore, meet new people, hike, and eat delicious foods.  After much thought, financial analysis and discussion, we decided there was really only one responsible choice.  We simply had to find out what was behind door number 2.

Carmen enjoying a rosé and a perfect lunch at Prune in NYC (2011)

New York street art and bicycle (2011)

So we finally committed to a full year off.  Woo hoo!  Then the challenge was to figure out what the rest of the year includes.  First we made a fantasy list of all the places we would ever like to go if money and time were no object (i.e. the fun part). Next we cut down that list to what we could realistically do (i.e. the less fun part). Now we are in the midst of doing all the planning required to make the dream come true.  The rough itinerary for the rest of the year is as follows:

  • Summer 2012 :: USA
  • September – October 2012 :: Europe
  • November 2012 :: India
  • December 2012 :: Southeast Asia
  • January 2013 :: China

The blog continues! And we will be sharing and documenting the details right here for everyone to enjoy.  Here is a teaser of the things to come:

Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park (2010)

In 2010 we hiked embarked on a week-long expedition into the canyons of Southern Utah.  We discovered majestic scenery and seemingly painted landscapes.  Our enjoyment of the canyons of Cafayate and the beautiful rocks of our Salar de Uyuni adventure enticed us to go and see one thing – The Grand Canyon.  There will be more hikes, more food and more red canyons.

New York density (2011)

Chicago highrises (2011)

Our United States tour will continue from vertical cliffs to vertigo skyscrapers as we explore New York City and Chicago with friends and family.  From there we trade in the tallest buildings for the tallest rows of corn, Nebraska here we come!

Hiking with Manish in Muir Woods (2010)

Having a laugh outside Bouchon Bakery

We return for the best of California summer where we will be posting about the best spots in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  You can expect hiking and all of our favorite restaurants.

Gaudí’s Casa Batlló (2006)

The real excursion happens in September.  With our passports in hand, clothes freshly laundered we will be climbing aboard another jet plane for another five months of adventure.  First stop Spain.  There are just some activities that would never happen unless we took a year off to travel.  Thus, let’s put a our four feet to the test as we will be walking 500 miles across northern Spain on the Santiago de Compostela trail.

Nathan on the Thames (2010)

London’s historic architecture (2006)

Spain is not the only European place we want to see.  We’ll tie in our favorite city, London, France, Germany and some great wine excursions along the way.

Indian lunch while in Singapore (2009)

But nothing will be as bustling and exciting as what we expect to find in our next country.  We are both excited and almost giddy to begin our exploration of India.  We can’t wait to experience the intense flavors, markets and crowds that are unlike anything we have ever seen.

Thai cooking by 4FEET2MOUTHS (2011)

Our love of Thai food and our love of our Thai friend brings us to this beautiful country.  From boat-side street food to dancing octopus we will be trying to stay cool while eating chilies in Thailand.  Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will conclude our exploration of the Indochinese peninsula.

Shanghai nightscape (2009)

Pan-fried Soup Dumplings at Yang’s in Shanghai (2009)

Asia would not be complete without seeing more of the wonders of China.  Carmen and I fell in love with the authentic and varied cuisines during a vacation in 2009.  From then on we have been obsessed with Sichuan cuisine.  We are looking forward to hardcore negotiating at the markets, mouth numbing delights from street side vendors and, of course, much hand waving and pointing.

Hong Kong density (2009)

Dim sum craziness in Hong Kong (2009)

We could not forget Hong Kong!  This city packs a punch with more fifty story buildings than anywhere else, delicious food and a perfect blend of East and West.

The Great wall of China (2009)

How about that for a year of travel?  We will explore four continents, over sixteen countries, all the while creating profound memories.  As much as possible we are going to try to meet up with friends along the way.  We will walk, we will eat and 4FEET2MOUTHS travels on – see you on the road!

Forbidden city cauldron handle (2009)

Southern Migration (by Nathan)

The Andes between Santiago and Buenos Aires

Finally this day has come- the day where my feet leave the ground in California and touch down on the other side of the world.  Today I am in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It has been a migratory event in some sense, a need down through my core to get out of town and see the world. Not just the travel itch, but a gnawing at my inner being to grab a hold of some culture and consume it, devour it until I was satisfied.  This must be what birds feel too, a calling and a deep need to fly south, a need to voraciously flap their wings for weeks straight to be there to consume the ripest fruit.  This year the world would not ripen without me being there to eat it. 

I was quite lucky that Carmen felt this too.  No wings, but this year you will find us walking and eating our way around the world. Not physically walking around the world, but our 4 feet and 2 mouths will travel to destinations that our inner being wants us to explore.

Berkeley was an amazing place to live.  There were so many aspects to Berkeley that touched my core values in architecture, food and the outdoors. The Bay Area allowed me to design amazing buildings, hike in beautiful mountains and enjoy farm-to-table meals everyday and all year.  But…in many ways the lacking public transit and small ethnic neighborhoods were not enough.  There are only so many times that a Bart ride to the Mission or Chinatown would satisfy my desires to travel.  And there were those times that while eating dim sum at Dol Ho where I experienced the crazy cart-driven yelling that I enjoyed so much in Hong Kong.  If I liked it so much then why not go back to Hong Kong?

And friends! I have some truly amazing friends in the Bay Area.  I have friends that like me, think a perfect day is a farmer’s market, shared bottle of wine and a Cheeseboard pizza. I have friends that time and time again feed me, educate me, entertain me (sometimes a little to much), and even nurse me back to health.  I drool thinking of our dinner parties– potlucks to an unprecedented gourmet level.  I will miss all of these friends and they know that they are always welcome to visit and stay with us at our home.  That is, when we finally get a home somewhere.

That’s right, we are homeless.  Carmen and I gave up 70% of our stuff and moved out of Berkeley.  It is a crazy feeling purging everything you own to the last morsels of what you think is important.  The sentiment is the worst for me- both getting rid of things that emotionally tug at me and the things that I think have some actual value.  The end result: I sold a few things on Craigslist, gave away a lot of stuff and trashed quite a bit too.  No turning back now, I’m glad I did it.  I’m still impressed that I fit all that 30% in my little Nissan truck.

BA Architecture

Stepping onto the Buenos Aires streets created such a fantastic sensation throughout my body.  It was as if my soul was tingling- reminding me that this is happening, this is really happening.  No job, no apartment, no bills, just Carmen and I, a camera and our backpacks and four months to explore South America.  The rest of the year we’re traveling too. Where should we go?

A new chapter (by Carmen)


Two roads diverge in a wood, as Frost wrote.  In my life, the traveled road is on the right.  This is the one where I’m supposed to find a good job and save up for a house and get settled in. On the left is the less traveled road.  It’s hazy; I can’t tell exactly where it goes.

The majority of my adult life has taken place in the San Francisco Bay Area – from college to my first long-term job to grad school.  It has all been a somewhat logical path to follow.  But now the future holds a big question mark.     ?      Should I search out fellowships, look for jobs, just travel?  Where? For how long?

What I do know is that I booked tickets to spend four months(!) in South America.  This trip is kick starting this new chapter in life.  With it, I want to start a new project – this blog.  For me, the blog will be a centered way to document my travels, food, thoughts, adventures and just life in general.  Actually, it’s not just mine.  It’s Nathan’s adventures, too.  He’ll be giving his own posts with his point of view on things.  That way, all our friends, family and travel enthusiasts can come to one site to get the latest update on us.

Over the next few months we will be posting about our experiences in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia and Peru.  Our travel style generally involves us walking around until our feet hurt in search of awesomely delicious food and drink, hence the name of this blog.  Expect to see some parrilla in Buenos Aires, capirinhas in Rio, saltado in Lima, wine tasting in Mendoza, and more.  We will also throw a bit of history, culture and architecture into the mix.  Ooh I’m getting excited!

The previous post was about feeling grateful for the life I’ve led so far.  This post is about embracing the future and all the uncertainty that comes with it.  It may be somewhat cliche but Frost’s poem makes me feel ready to take on the world.  Let’s go.

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