An Amish Weekend in Lancaster, PA

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Lancaster County is about 3 hours drive from New York City, with glorious farmland, Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbord and Amish themed tours, it is truly a wonderful weekend getaway from your busy city life. I first visited Lancaster in the summer of 2013, and have been coming back at least once a year ever since.

Arrive Thursday Night

If you leave the city around 5pm or 6pm, you can manage to get in Lancaster before 9pm. I would recommend staying in the East Lancaster area, such as Bird-In-Hand, Paradise or Ronks etc. Those locations are very close to the Amish settlement, and have supermarkets and restaurants nearby. There are lots of hotels along the Lincoln Highway East, or if you like Bed & Breakfast, many of them are along the Old Philadelphia Pike.

Friday with Old Order Amish

Friday is for Amish, but first stop by Lancaster Central Market to get breakfast. Lancaster Central Market is the oldest farmers market in the country (according to its website) and opens Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It has the standard farmer’s market stuff: fresh fruit, produce, coffee and tea. There are also Amish crafts, cookies, cakes and pies sold. It also surprised me with its gluten-free bread and cookies.

Now onto the Amish adventure. Amish Farm and House is a must stop for its informative bus tours. The tour takes you through the photographic Amish farmland and makes stops at Amish craft shops and roadside stands to try their homemade lemonade, ice cream and hand rolled pretzel.

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Another must-do is the “Visit In Person (VIP)” tour offered by Amish Experience at Plain and Fancy Farm. Buy tickets online and enjoy a very personal visit to Amish businesses and family. We visited an Amish dairy farm and a soap shop, and saw the process of milking cows and making soaps. And the best part is our last stop at an Amish home, we got to sit in the living room of an Amish family and talk to them. One of the daughters of the family is a school teacher for Amish kids, so we actually looked at their textbooks used in school. It’s very informative and very personal. There is also an Amish Experience Theater at Plain & Fancy Farm where you can see a screening of “Jacob’s Choice”  about a young Amish boy’s struggle in choosing the Amish church, or leaving behind family and community for the “English” world.

Whether you choose to go on a buggy ride or drive through the back road on your own, a must stop is the Countryside Road Stand for its soft pretzels. They are made fresh, you can watch the Amish ladies make them right in front of you.  They are hot, buttery and so yummy. They also have homemade ice cream and root beer.

Saturday in Hershey

On Saturday you can either extend your Amish adventures or do something different and visit the Hershey Park. Hershey Park is about an hour away from Lancaster, with an amusement park and a water park, you can spend all day there. At night after the entire day of rides, dine at Khana Indian Bistro for some tandoori chicken or fish curry, the food is great and it opens late.

Sunday in Strasburg

0002924_0002924-R1-E013Lancaster is like a lot of other small towns that has quiet Sundays, because a lot of restaurants and shops choose to close on Sundays, but there are still some fun things to do. Climb aboard on the trains at Strasburg Rail Road and enjoy a 45-minute, round-trip ride through the scenic Amish countryside to Paradise, PA and back. Marvel at more than 1,000 acres of farm fields as they pass by your window. Reserve tickets online for first class cars, or just walk up to the ticketing booth for coach class.

Rest of Sunday is a good time for shopping. There is Park City Center Mall and several outlet malls in the area and since PA has no sales tax on clothes and shoes, buy as much as you can carry ;)

Where To Stay

I usually book a hotel on Priceline.com because I interned at Priceline.com and loved it. I don’t work there anymore because I can only work full time for an employer that sponsor H1B visa, but I still love to use Priceline.com every time I travel. Sometime I also like to stay in other people’s homes through Airbnb.

What Else To Do

Visit Hayloft Candles for candles of all occasions and see how candles are made. There is also a petting zoo free of admission.

If you are interested in religious shows and experiences, one time my host recommended me to Sight & Sound Theater. I’m not religious so I didn’t go, but I see the good reviews on Yelp and other travel websites.

For gifts and souvenirs, check out Kitchen Kettle Village for Amish dolls, pickles, foods and crafts.

For outdoors, make a stop at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.

Where To Workout

I usually do at least one Bikram yoga when I travel. In Lancaster, that’s Bikram Yoga Lancaster. For gyms, I’ve only been to Formular Fitness and Aerobics, and it’s a decent gym.

Where To Eat

For lunch and dinner, definitely try the Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbord, there are Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant, Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant, and Miller’s SmorgasbordLititz Family Cupboard Restaurant & Buffet also serves breakfast buffet worth trying. Some restaurants in the area don’t open on Sundays, so you need to either call ahead or check Yelp to confirm the hours.

For fresh produce and treats, you should check out Miller’s Natural Foods and Kauffman’s Fruit Farm.


This category “Take Friday Off” is inspired by WSJ’s “Take Monday Off” on it’s Life section. So far my weekend getaways are restricted to places within the US because I can only renew my visa in my home country (China) and I have to do it once a year, so if I make a trip to some other country, I’ll have to go back to China, renew my visa before entering the US again. It’s really challenging because all I want to do is to spend money and have fun, and not being able to renew my visa in the US gave me a lot of trouble since I work at WSJ on breaking news, I can’t afford to break the “Breaking News” just to spend 3 days in Cozumel.

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Sobre Running

El otro día, he leído un articulo en Runner’s World México sobre ser una corredora lenta, y me siento lo mismo: no me da vergüenza para ser una corredora nueva y lenta.

Conocí a correr un poco tarde en la vida.

Primero, permítanme comenzar con mi historia de running: NO HE CORRIDO NUNCA EN MI VIDA. El único ejercicio cardiovascular en mi rutina era correr al cruzar la calle en mis chanclas mientras coches vienen. Otras personas también dicen que no han corrido nunca, pero la mayoría de ellos, al menos, se han tomado las clases de educación física en escuela secundaria. En contrario en China donde yo crecí, no corremos en la clase de educación física, clases de educación física era una vez a la semana, y con frecuencia se pasó por otras clases más importantes, como la literatura china o matemática. En serio que nunca he corrido en total 24 años de mi vida antes de decidir cambiar mi vida como una resolución para el año nuevo al principio de 2015.

Empecé a correr una vez por la semana en el gimnasio en mayo de 2015, y durante varios messes progresé a 3 o 4 veces por la semana en el Prospect Park. El mes pasado, me matriculé un medio maratón en diciembre. Tengo un plan de entrenamiento solo para completar el medio maratón, no deseo que vaya a hacer más rápido. Para mí, completar un medio maratón ya es una victoria.

Podría leer el articulo en la página web http://www.runners.mx/article/que-tiene-de-malo-ser-una-corredora-lenta

(I really don’t speak much Spanish, that’s why I’m still learning, taking Spanish classes twice a week at Instituto Cervantes. This post is not intended to serve as running resource or Spanish example, and I’m sure I’ve made tons of grammar and word choice mistakes in it. If you are also a novice runner or trying to learn Spanish, just work hard and have fun!)

ClassPass is truly “Unlimited”

UPDATE

Jess from ClassPass has contacted me and made my account unlimited, and I was able to book my 31st class in my current billing cycle!

It is because ClassPass automatically sets a 30 class limit when we joined, but if we reach out to them, they can always increase it.

Original Post:

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I tried to register a class the other day and ClassPass didn’t let me, instead, it showed me this:

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“You have already reserved 30 classes, the maximum number allowed for you ClassPass each cycle”.

I wish that instead of saying “unlimited”, ClassPass could just tell me it’s 30 classes per billing cycle.

Machines are racists!

I just found out that machines are the most racists — on Friday night I bought a novel in Spanish on Amazon, then ever since, I started receiving marketing emails from Amazon in Spanish and a lot of them, suggests: “if you like El Alquimista, you might also want to check out books about GED preparation!”

Someone should change those recommendation engine metrics, because not everyone who reads in Spanish is a high school drop out!

If You Want Unlimited Fitness Classes, Try ClassPass!

This is probably the best gym membership I’ve ever signed up: for $99 a month, I can try different classes at gyms and boutique fitness studios all over NYC (up to 3 classes at the same studio per month).

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A Day At Barre

 

I signed up ClassPass at the beginning of January 2015, and so far I’ve had barre, cycling, Pilates, strength training, aerial yoga and more! A single class at Pure Barre (my favorite) or Physique 57 costs more than $30, so if I can take more than 3 classes per month, I’m already making the most of my membership. So far I’ve taken 15 classes and I feel great of breaking a sweat more than 4 times a week.

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ClassPass is also a great platform for sampling classes. You can try something you never had before. I tried cycling (don’t like it), kettlebell (love it!) and strength training (it was such a challenge!), and at the same time I can try some of my favorite workouts at more studios. If you love fitness classes and would love to try many studios, make ClassPass your routine :)

My Own North Korea Experience

The Movie “The Interview” reminded me of my own trip to North Korea several years ago.

The day we went to the DMZ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Demilitarized_Zone) I wore a T-shirt with Garfield on it. We had a tour inside one of the conference rooms on the border, and then our translator started asking me about my T-shirt. He pointed to Garfield and asked me what is that, and I told him the cat on my T-shirt named Garfield, from a comic book, he hates Monday and loves lasagna and donuts. Then he asked if Garfield is Chinese, I said, no he’s American but the comics were translated into Chinese a long time ago, I grew up with them, and in short, I love Garfield. He then asked if other Chinese kids also like Garfield, I said I can’t speak for every Chinese kid, but my friends also love Garfield. In the end, he told me he was so surprised that China had became so “Americanized”, where even the children had started reading negatively influential American comics (like Garfield hates Monday and loves food, that’s not good for a society). And I was really sad because now I knew kids grew up in NK didn’t even know about Garfield, they are missing so much fun in their childhood :(

Some of the pictures I took in North Korea: https://shengkaidehua.com/2011/09/19/north-korea/