Archive for Beach

Road Trip: Savannah and Charleston

Posted in Art, Life with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2015 by lisadiakova

I started this entry in Charlotte, NC, after I left Charleston, SC, and now I’m finishing it in Asheville. It’s kinda hard to write on the road. When I depart a place, I usually drive in silence meditating on my experiences, and when I arrive somewhere new, my anxious little heart wants to see and taste everything.

A friend of mine was kind enough to let me crash on her couch for a night in Savannah, GA, while she studied for med school exams. We chatted a little about our travels, and I had some playtime with my ol’ buddy Xander the cat. He’s the only cat I’ve ever loved.

Savannah is one of my favorite retreats. It has a small town European feel, with ornate design features on the homes, flowers blooming everywhere, elegant park squares, and a riverfront with pretty views. I love it so much I almost prefer not to share it, but I’ll make an effort to be a good human being. 🙂 So, here are some pictures of Savannah:

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The funny thing is that Savannah and Charleston seem to have this weird rivalry. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that Savannah is dirty in comparison to Charleston, which is often described as Savannah’s rich older sister. So, I’d been curious about Charleston for a while and finally took the time to visit.

My first afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina, I arrived with a massive appetite. Someone told me to head to King Street, so I walked a bit looking for a place to fill my gut. The bars and restaurants were still a bit empty. I checked out two places with decent menus but for some reason decided to keep walking. I came upon a little gray sign that read: Smoke BBQ. The restaurant front was small and had a menu posted on the window. As I approached, a young man with a long beard stepped outside for a cigarette break. “I’ll buy you a shot if you come in,” he said. I laughed. He introduced himself as Russell and briefly told me about their great selection of food, which included a 16-hour smoked pastrami. That sold me.

He treated me to a Honey Whiskey concoction that they make in-house. I am not a Whiskey drinker, but it was really tasty. He explained that it was their response to Fireball, which has become quite popular, but according to him, has terrible ingredients. I ordered the Pastrami Reuben with a side of Grits and Hash. The meal was superb. I tried a few more drinks, shared some laughs with the locals, and had to decline a drunken, albeit, very cute, marriage proposal with a college ring so large it slipped right over my wedding band.

The following morning, I had a late breakfast at Sunrise Bistro Xpress, which I whole-heartedly recommend. The food is fresh. The staff is attentive. Just don’t order a cappuccino, ‘cause it’s on the menu, but let’s just say it’s not quite a cappuccino, more of a foamed latte. I’m pretty low maintenance most of the time, but NOT when it comes to espresso. I can thank my friend Rachel for that. She ruined me for life. Kisses.

While driving around downtown Charleston, I couldn’t help falling in love with the architecture, cobblestone streets, vine-covered walls, antebellum mansions. I visited Waterfront Park, where children were having a fabulous time pressing their faces as close as possible to the fountain spouts so water would splash in massive spurts all around them. I caught one boy hiding under the waterfall of the lower level of the fountain. I followed my visit to the park with a little gallery-hopping, there were so many good galleries to see so I wandered. On the verge of committing suicide by way of heat exhaustion, I stopped in at Bakehouse for a Frozen Mint Lemonade.

Savannah and Charleston are two very different cities. While I can see the similarities, downtown Savannah feels quaint, its main attractions are the parks and riverfront. You can basically walk the whole place in a day. Charleston is large and more urban. Everything feels a bit bigger, more spaced out. However, I just had a conversation with a nice guy in Asheville about this and he says he always thought Savannah felt so large, and he used to live in Charleston. Lol, the debate continues. As far as cleanliness goes, I’ve spent most of my life in New York and Miami, I’ve seen and smelled some ungodly things… So, I guess I am not the right person to ask.

On my way out of Charleston, I visited Folly Beach, where I did some light reading and dipped my toes in the ocean. A few surfers were trying to ride the short waves. Families were getting settled in. Children were freely splashing in the water with that kind of freedom only children have. The water felt so nice I couldn’t resist. That first jump into the ocean is always a baptism, a submersion into something so much greater than myself, something I could never, would never think to try to control. How often does that happen? Nirvana.

Pastrami Reuben at Smoke BBQ

Pastrami Reuben at Smoke BBQ



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Art by Cynthia Tollesfrud


Art by Nathan Durfee

Art by Joshua Flint

Art by Joshua Flint

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Road Trip: Vietnamese Sandwiches and St. Augustine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by lisadiakova

“I think life is better when people can just laugh, instead of getting caught up in I could’ve been this or I could’ve been that.” is what Dick casually said over my shoulder while he added sugar and milk to his coffee. He was flirting with all the pretty women in the shop. “When you get to be my age, you learn all the tricks.” he said to a stranger, as he winked at me.

Two days ago I hit the road, excited to leave Miami behind for a bit and let myself wander through the country. I made a brief stop in Orlando to grab a #1 at Banh mi Nha Trang, a little hole in the wall that came highly recommended from a trusted source. 😉 I arrived two minutes after closing time, crossing my fingers that I could still grab a bite to go. To my surprise, the adorable owner invited me to take a seat and enjoy my meal. “How many?” she asked. Clever woman. “I’ll take two.” I replied. The sandwiches were delicious, and she smiled wide when I told her I raced from Miami to try them.

I continued my journey onto St. Augustine, Florida, a place I’ve passed many times but never visited. It’s always interesting to see the irony that surrounds historical sights—the tourist traps, gift shops, the nonchalance of the locals. Best of all, I enjoy the stripping of romance that we so often attribute to history, as if it were all freshly-pressed period costumes and reunited lovers. I had a chance to tour the Castillo de San Marcos, the resilient sea-side fortress that crowns St. Augustine. The dress I was wearing was light and fresh, but in the hot Florida sun I was sweating buckets. As I sauntered in and out of dusty, stone rooms, I thought about the soldiers bearing the weight of their uniforms, the Indians who were held as prisoners there, the population seeking refuge during times of war. All the bodies. Hunger, Gunpowder.

At 6 am, that morning, I drove to the coast and dipped my feet in the cold Atlantic, while I watched a tangerine sun glow on the ocean waves. I’d been thinking about it since the night before, which was detrimental to my sleep, but well worth it when I finally arrived. Breakfast was pretty good at Café Eleven, where I sketched a little, while sipping Iced Tea.

The shops and restaurants in St. Augustine were charming, but after spending $9 on a small packet of truffle salt at The Spice and Tea Exchange, I forbade myself from entering any others.

I ended my visit by taking a tour of The St. Augustine Distillery, where I had a chance to sample their Gin and Tonic and Moscow Mule. Both were delicious. Everyone at the Distillery was cheery and kind. The place itself was laced with the sweet smell of bourbon aging in Kentucky barrels that were beautifully crafted and displayed. It was like something out of a dream.

St. Augustine Beach

Lisa Diakova Feet

St. Augustine Beach 3

Scramble at Cafe Eleven

Scramble at Cafe Eleven

Lisa Diakova Road Trip Sketch 1

Lisa Diakova Road Trip Sketch 2

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos 2

Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder

Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder at Catch 27

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery 2

Banh mi Nha Trang in Orlando

Owner and I

Steak and Eggs

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by lisadiakova

The Steak and Eggs I’m having for brunch are so good I almost want to take a picture. I want to idolize this meal and put it on display to convey the experience. But nothing I can say or show you will make you understand the significance of this particular thing within the context of my reality today. I can help you imagine the breezes swaying in from the ocean a block away. I can describe the tourists in their airy clothing, with their huge beach bags, and adorable children. I can tell you about the bodies… all these beautiful nearly naked bodies glistening in the warm Miami sun. I want you to be here. To taste this. But you are not, and therefore the experience is my own. You can’t have it.

Lately, I’ve been disturbed by how many people I’ve encountered who are unhappy with their lives. Judging from the outside it seems like such an easy fix – to change, to make decisions that lead to new experiences. But when you’re in it, living it, the fear, if left untended, can consume every part of you, until you become something unrecognizable – a soft-spirited pile of mush that melts when put under pressure. It takes courage to be your truest self. It takes sacrifice, sometimes the kind of sacrifice that makes you want to scratch your eyes out. You can’t please everyone you encounter on your way, especially the nice ones, the ones who love you. It takes honesty. A person must face the animal inside if that creature is to evolve, to create, to succeed.

Honesty is such a difficult thing. People hold on to these ideas of themselves. They take pictures to portray the life they choose to share. No one sees the mold growing in the gaps, the crying babies, the dishes in the sink, the headaches, the talks of money… the bottom of the well. Most people don’t really want to see themselves. They don’t look inward long enough to realize the ugliness of it all, the beauty, the despair, the overwhelming love, the emptiness, the blessings… the juxtaposition of all the light and every bit of dark.

It frightens me that we seem to get further from enlightenment. We sacrifice our experiences to market an idea of ourselves. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with sharing the best image of yourself. The danger is in how much time we dedicate to this act of selling. If we lose ownership of our own experiences, we surrender our understanding of them, our perception of the world.

All this preamble, to accurately express what a wonderful weekend I’ve had on the beach, alone with my thoughts… how grateful I am for the life that I have, but above all, just how intensely I’ve enjoyed this meal. A picture just wouldn’t do it justice.

Lisa Diakova_Nascondino_Thirst Close-Up