A Weekend in Connecticut

Sometimes you just need a weekend away with a good friend. 

But when your friends are spread out all over the country (and the world) during the summer like mine, it can be hard for our ambitious plans to materialize. 

Luckily, Hayley and I were really proactive in planning a weekend trip together for the summer. Hayley is working in Stamford, Connecticut for the next year, and since she's (relatively) close in proximity to me, we thought we'd make the most of it! 

This past Saturday, I took the bus into New Haven, Connecticut to meet Hayley for a day of wandering, photo-taking, and eating. Because that's what bloggers do of course! My bus from Newton to New Haven only took about 3 hours, and there was no traffic, so me and Hayley's journeys from our respective locations timed out perfectly. Talk about fate.  

Our first stop was for food. Since it was well past lunchtime at that point, we made a beeline for ice cream. So this ended up being an ice cream for lunch kind of situation for me (I'm not complaining, though). Arethusa Farms Dairy shop is somewhat of an icon in its own right. I wouldn't have known about it had I not been to New Haven the summer before, and gotten the inside scoop (ha) from a friend who was working in the area. It's a must-visit for any ice cream lover. 

With black and white tiled floors and a chalkboard that lists of the day's specials, Arethusa is instagrammable in every way. But you might have trouble snapping a photo before you can resists a lick or two. Flavors like chocolate, mint chip, and sweet cream are mainstays on the menu. But seasonal flavors like sour cherry grace the menu every once in a while. With proper waffle cones and gargantuan scoops, this place is as old-school as it gets (and possibly one of the best value for money ice creams I've ever had). 

After snapping a few photos, and having Hayley laugh at me (and kindly offer me tissues) for the mess I made on my white jeans, we wandered around the central green. There was a concert going on later in the day, so the area had a bit of a buzz, despite the city's main population- students- being gone for the summer. 

Speaking of students, we couldn't visit New Haven without fulfilling our Gilmore Girls obsession and visiting Yale. I've been on many an American college campus (I'm getting flashbacks to the days of being a nervy high schooler on campus tours), and Yale definitely stands out to me as being one of the most beautiful. Harvard may have more "prestige," but Yale certainly has the looks. 

Stunning greenery and immaculate gardens make up the majority of Yale's campus. The buildings are so intricately designed that they had me gasping every time I turned a new corner. And the doors. The doors! I think my mom would have had a field day (she's thinking of replacing our front door, you see). We even witnessed the tail end of a wedding, with smiling bridesmaids floating about in long swishy dresses. Everything was so picture perfect that it might as well have been a movie set. Sure beats David Hume Tower on a rainy day in Edinburgh. 

Still, it's definitely not my "vibe" and not the kind of school I could see myself at. I guess I'll just have to stick to taking pictures for now. 

I have to mention that Yale has tons of museums worth checking out. From natural history to world-class art, it really has it all. I visited one of the art museums last time I was in New Haven, but unfortunately Hayley and I didn't have enough time to explore them (we were only able to spend a grand total of 5 hours in New Haven!) 

Our sore feet carried us to Maison Mathis where we sat down for an iced coffee, a lemonade, and a good chat. Can you guess which of us had which drink? 

After a bit of shopping around the area, we set out with good intentions for dinner. And I mean really good intentions, believe me. Unfortunately, getting into New Haven's possibly most famous restaurant on a Saturday night takes a lot of grit (and patience). Having jumped in the line at Frank Pepe before 6 PM, we thought we were golden to get in by- at worst- 6:45. I mean how long could the line- which, arguably didn't look very long- be? But we were wrong, hungry, and in a bit of a rush at that point, so we fast-walked our way back into the center of town for a guilty pleasure. 

Shake Shack. And boy, by that point was I hungry. And while, yes, we were eating at a chain restaurant (but a rather good one at that), I did my best to try something new. I ordered the chik n shack burger for a bit of a change and loved it. Maybe I was just really hungry but the combination of crispy fried chicken, light mayo, briny pickles, and shredded lettuce really hit the spot for me. I feel like Shake Shack is one of those chains that you can get away with, though.

After stuffing our faces (quite literally- we were in a rush after all), we caught the 7:45 train back to Stamford to hang out with Hayley's colleagues. It was a really fun night, and I loved getting to know everyone! Plus, Hayley's digs in Stamford are pretty nice. I even had my own room. 

Our final meal together (sensing a theme here?) was one for the bucket list. The Elm Street Diner in Stamford has the biggest instagram following from a singular restaurant that I have ever seen. And for good reason. They do monstrous milkshake creations, insane pancakes, and some of the best diner food in the North East. 

Even for Sunday brunch, we didn't have to wait that long for a table. The staff was incredibly friendly, as were the other patrons. We sat down next to a group of friends who had been going to the diner since it opened in 1987! They were as excited for us to have our first Elm Street Diner experience as we were to try out the food. 

I wanted something chocolatey but not overwhelming so ordered the pancakes with nutella, bananas, and strawberries. It was the perfect balance of freshness and decadence all atop a stack of fluffy pancakes that were second to none! Hayley went on the waffle route, having her breakfast confection topped with a rainbow of fruit. 

After transferring our breakfasts to to-go containers, we said our goodbyes at the train station. But it won't be long before I'm seeing Hayley again when she comes to visit Boston in just two weeks! I never thought I would have a friend from university living so close by when I'm at home, but I'm really glad that I do! Even if it's just for a year. 

Photo credits for many of these amazing photos go to Hayley from Honestly Russell. In fact, any photos that are actually "good" are hers and the rest are mine! Keep an eye out on her blog for her recap of our weekend in Connecticut soon.  

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