The following is a list of all entries from the travel category.
I don’t know how I came to possess this photo…
but it has possessed me for a long time. This is my great grandmother Grace in Egypt. Doesn’t she look so happy? She lived to see 104.
I want to be so lucky to have such adventures. There’s a laundry list of cities I’d like to visit to add to NYC, Boston, Seattle, Paris, Florence, London, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Nice. I want to smile big all over the world!
When I was in New Orleans…for Mardi Gras…by myself, I thought about getting my fortune told. On that Tuesday evening I elbowed my way through a bustling and beer soaked Bourbon Street to such a voodoo establishment that foretold fates. There was a couple in front of me arranging to have their futures peered into. When I overheard knowing their fate would cost $35, I thought about how I could use that money elsewhere, like in Atlanta for the second half of my weeklong vacation. And so I turned on my heel and made for the exit, voodoo doll eyes following me.
I already knew what that crystal ball would have revealed. You see, I’ve already been to a pyschic. About 7 years ago. She told me that I have a soulmate and not everyone has one, but it wouldn’t be anytime soon that he would make an appearance. (She also said that I would live a long and healthy life, which I took as my carte blanche to begin playing in traffic). She was right. I’m still waiting on that soulmate. In the meantime, I haven’t had a boyfriend in four years and have taken up with a bass player as his tour schedule permits, abusing my credit card in the process. (I think Laurie Nataro in her book I love everybody and other atrocious lies sums up my life: “I’m at the age when I meet girls I went to college with at the mall they’re pushing baby strollers while I’m pushing my credit card limit”.) I resist well-meaning friends’ attempts at set ups, thinking that these friends don’t know me as much as I thought they did. I refuse to throw $100 at Match.com for another 6 month subscription. I further refuse any freebie dating sites. And none of the missed connections on Charlotte’s Craiglist are about me. I check every day.
I have to go back to New Orleans. I have to ask for more information on my soulmate, like the when and where. And this time I’d be willing to spend a fortune learning my fortune.
My friend from high school got married at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio in 2007.
I celebrated my 30th birthday in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012. Bellagio hotel lobby.
I went to Seattle last month where there is an entire glass exhibit of Chihuly’s work.
Charlotte may have my soul, but Seattle has my heart.
I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle. I think my fascination with the Emerald City can be traced back to when I was in middle school and “Frasier” was my favorite TV show. Lots of things went over my head as an unworldly 13 year old, but it was a witty show. Years later, “Grey’s Anatomy” only helped to fuel the havetogotoSeattle fire.
Seattle is a witty city. With rain 9 months out of the year, you have to keep a sense of humor.
(…and lose your clothes when it gets too hot.)
The alcohol helps to keep your wits about you too. Lots of drinking going on in one city with even City Target selling liquor which makes me believe Seattle is lush in more ways than one!
When Seattlites aren’t drinking the heavy stuff, they’re drinking coffee, pots and pots of coffee.
Bauhus was my favorite spot to tuck into with an afternoon latte and blueberry scone because of their book collection.
I gave up coffee a year ago, but I couldn’t very well visit the birthplace of Starbucks without having a cup of joe.
This drink may just bring me back into the caffienated fold:
Biscuit Bitch’s house speciality is a dirty pumpkin: a dirty chai latte (a shot of espresso) with a shot of pumpkin syrup. Sippable Halloween! My only regret is that I didn’t have more of them since I found them on my last day.
What goes better with coffee than doughnuts?
These homemade doughnuts were delightful at Lola. (I understand why Giada DeLaurentis touts them as one of the best things she’s ever eaten. I could have easily eaten two orders.) These pillowy, sugar morsels that look more like beignets than doughnuts are made to order as your server arrives tableside to tumble these sugary orbs onto your plate after they’ve been tossed around in a small white paper sack, like some sort of cinnamon sugar bounce house.
The culinary tour of me putting the EAT in Seattle continued at Pike Place Market’s Place Pigalle where my only seafood meal (oysters and crab cakes) the entire trip came with a side of spectacular Elliot Bay views.
This meal of creamy lasagna could come with a view of burlesque dancers at the Pink Door at 8pm on weekends.
Lots of hipsters make up the Seattle landscape so there were a lot of vegetarian/vegan joints.
Cafe Flora: fried coconut tofu wraps and rosemary potato pizza under a bed of arugula, all washed down with a refreshing glass of ginger beer
High Line: the meatiest veggie burger I’ve had in my life with a generous helping of fat fries
Veggie Grill: a trio of seitan tacos
Dear Veggie Grill,
Can we please get one of you in Charlotte?
everyone who can only count on one hand the number of veggie restaurants in town
Though we didn’t eat here, it was the stuff of lots of inside jokes. And venue for Ryan Lewis and Macklamore’s latest music video.
Sweet treats like cupcakes and ice cream to undo all of my good veggie deeds:
Pink frosted “dance party” cupcake was a party in my mouth, so buttery and delicious!
Molly Moon’s: Impossible to photograph ice cream! Trust that anything honey lavender and strawberry balsamic is delicious!
Pike Place Market is packed with tourists between 10 and 6 so I like to go early in the morning when the vendors are setting up shop. The early morning sunshine illuminates the flowers, making them that much brighter. I bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers for only $5 and bought a $5 vase from Goodwill to put them in.
I visited 5 thrift stores in 5 days and found some amazing items to remember the trip by, including a Starbucks tumbler and a brand new pair of khakis with the tags still on for $1.29 (dollah makes me hollah!) on their everythingthathasagreentag is $1.29 sale.
Seattle is a great walkable city, surprisingly hilly though so I was accidentally doing cardio on more than one occasion. I deliberately breathed heavily at a yoga class at 8 limbs on a Sunday morning though.
All of my limbs needed a good stretch after spending all day on a plane. It’s located in Capitol Hill, a hipster haven (think NoDa times ten) and I always felt severely uncool walking through. Nothing is as cool as this libray:
The Central Public Library is an architectural marvel unlike any library I have ever seen, and most of my vacations involve visiting libraries. Slats of light shine upon its book-loving visitors. I want to curl up in one of those slats and read my days away.
Smith Tower has beautiful views that rival that of the Space Needle at a fraction of the cost. $7.50 to sail up to the 35th floor of the observation deck (as opposed to $30 for the Needle). Though the views are breathtaking, what really draws a crowd is the The Wishing Chair, a 300 year old chair that attracts all the single ladies.
Single women from all over the world, including yours truly, flock to this chair to send up wishes for marriage. Legend has it that if her wish is sincere, she will be married within a year. Here comes the bride, ya’ll!
Bill Spiedel’s hour long $17 Underground Tour details Seattle’s history, like the prostitution that helped build the city after it was burned down. These purple squares on the sidewalks are actually skylights of underground Seattle.
Experience Music Project. A cool building, the contents less cool. Though I am a huge music fan, I’m not so much into Hendrix or Nirvana which made up half of the exhibit. I was more interested in the women who rock exhibit, which needs to be much bigger in my opinion.
Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit. All I can say is that it is totally worth the $20 admission. Amazing, just amazing! Imagine, an entire museum devoted to what the Bellagio hotel ceiling looks like.
Seattle in July was perfection and I’m so thankful that the nice Seattlites shared their luscious city with us incessant picture-taking, directions-asking tourists. I’ve never been so sad to see a vacation end.
Last meal at Copacabana before I had to catch a plane home.
“Goodnight, Seattle! We love you.”
For my 30th birthday last year, I wanted to include the Thunder from Down Under crew in my week long Las Vegas itinerary. After dining at the Stratosphere one evening, my friends and I followed up the meal with some lively entertainment, lively meaning half-naked. For those individuals living under rocks with access to my blog, Thunder from Down Under is like Australian Chippendales. Great, now I have to explain what a Chippendale is. Chippendales can only be explained as cufflinks and bow ties.
After a $20 photo opp after the show, a dandruffed club promoter was advertising that his club, Cathouse (which has since closed), was the place to be after the show because it meant free drinks for the ladies and an appearance by the Thunder from Down Under crew in about thirty minutes. Me and my six inch heels walked ALL the way to the club inside of the neighboring hotel and after an hour or two of no sign of any Australian broods (because they were probably at home with their wives and kids sitting down to a nice Vegamite dinner) and two watered down cranberry vodkas, I wanted nothing more than to cab it back to our hotel room.
For months, I’ve been wanting to hit up Soul Gastrolounge for their disco brunch with roller-skating drag queen Bethann Phetamine; a cultural event that happens only on the second Sunday of the month. And yesterday when the day finally arrived, I was reminded of the time I went to a Las Vegas club with the promise of hot Aussies. Turns out that brunch with drag queens is a literal drag. I arrive at 12:00 with co-workers only to be told that the wait would be 45 minutes. We waited across the street at Nova’s Bakery with coffee where I made jokes about bread, “…ain’t no challah back girl”. Finally our party of five was seated. I asked our waiter where the drag queen was, like perhaps she was between sets and powdering her nose in her dressing room, and he said that she would not be making it in today because of being ill. A disco brunch sans drag queen is just brunch and I could have done that where I didn’t have to pay $11 for overdone eggs. The French toast my co-worker tried to order was 86′d like the drag queen. I suggested she return to Nova’s and buy some bread for them to make her meal. What kind of restaurant runs out of bread?! More importantly, what kind of self-respecting drag queen doesn’t have an understudy?
The moral of this story, dear kittens, is that you shouldn’t waste shoe tread or an entire Sunday afternoon on something that isn’t guaranteed. If drag queens or hot Australian men aren’t involved, there’s just no reason to get out of bed.
This is what I wanted to see yesterday:
I’m a 30 year old woman. Who travels alone. It all started when I was handed a set of car keys in high school. Before ticketmaster.com, there was me driving 45 minutes to Dayton, Ohio to procure concert tickets to see Harry Connick, Jr.. When I was 21 I spent a sweltering summer in Nice, France and took a train to nearby Florence, Italy for a day. This was years before “Taken” and I’m not sure my mom would have let me go if she had seen the movie. She still has no clue that I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras a few months ago. With reports of two people being shot on Bourbon Street just days before I was to arrive, I knew I couldn’t tell her my destination. She knows about my trips to NYC though. I’ll call her from outside the Today show and urge her to tune in to see me smiling and waving like a fool behind Matt Lauer and Al Roker. I’ve been to NYC so many times in the past two years, I’ve eaten to the core of the Big Apple. In the words of the ubiquitous souvenir t-shirts, I love NYC. I love the energy, the sounds, the food, the limitless possibilities. I love that I made a new friend at a Butterlane cupcake decorating class. She later joined me in Las Vegas to help me celebrate my birthday. I love that I made new friends while standing outside the “On a clear day you can see forever” stage door, waiting for Harry Connick, Jr. to sign our playbills. I love that these new friends were my age and traveled solo to NYC for the weekend. I love that I was not alone in my solo travels.
Recently, a mother was killed while in Turkey where she was traveling alone. Some crticized her for being a bad parent, like she got what she deserved for abandoning her family for a selfish vacation. I applaud her for teaching her children to be independent and to not fear exploration and self- discovery.
It was a horrible thing to have happened but that doesn’t discourage me canceling my solo trips. I would miss too much if I didn’t travel. Traveling alone is the most liberating thing any person could do. It’s a freeing experience to not be attached to anyone’s agenda. Your itinerary is yours alone. You set your own pace and destination. It’s truly the best opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. I don’t think I would have made new friends if I wasn’t traveling alone; the crutch of a companion removed. I’m very much looking forward to who and where the next 30 years takes me.
Some tips for traveling alone:
1) Let someone know where you’re going. It doesn’t have to be broadcasted on Facebook but give a couple of friends/family a heads up.
2) Trust your gut. A woman’s intuition is the best traveling accessory. If you find yourself in a part of town that just doesn’t feel right, you should probably get out of there fast.
3) People walking their dogs are locals and more often than not are happy to give directions or field questions for the best lunch spot.
4) Never forget your cell phone charger in your hotel room.
5) Have fun, be bold, do things you would never do if you were at home. Let loose and have fun!
“The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page”.
After Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I went to Atlanta to reunite with some friends from college. I flew from Charlotte to New Orleans, but I took the Megabus to get from New Orleans to Atlanta because double decker discount buses are cheap. Like $60 cheap. Not having any prior experience and knowing no one who has traveled that way before, I was pleasantly surprised that the Megabus didn’t turn out to be a mega bust. I really can’t say enough good things about my new favorite mode of transportation. They boast free Wi-fi, but it’s something to be desired since I had little to no service on my iPad. So passengers are left to entertain themselves with their phones. I’d suggest packing a book/Kindle to read. And snacks, A LOT OF SNACKS. The Megabus has a schedule to keep so there aren’t any stops (save for 15 minutes at a rest area in who knows where Georgia where I raided the vending machine.) For tiny bladdered folks like me that means holding it for hours on end, or peeing in the tiny bathroom at 70 mph. (What’s the Megabus equivalent to the Mile High Club?).
My friend was late picking me up so I waited across the street from the bus stop at a hotel bar where I warmed up with an outrageous $6 bottle of Miller Lite. Always making friends while traveling, I got to chatting with a married couple. They asked where I was from. I told them about what brought me to Atlanta. They have a timeshare in New Orleans. They also shared with me the story of how they met 35 years ago. At a bar. She tripped over his huge feet and busted her chin. He was quick to give aid and ask if she was okay. She followed up with “Honey, if the rest of you is as big as your feet, I think I’m in love!”. Isn’t that just precious? I’ve always wanted my meet cute to involve a sexual innuendo.
I bid my new friends goodbye and was finally reunited with my old friend. She asked if I was hungry. I don’t usually eat dinner at 9 pm, but then again I don’t usually eat a bag of chex mix for lunch so to dinner it was. I requested Flip Burger because of krispy kreme milkshakes on their dessert menu. (Flip Burger, if you are reading this, please come to Charlotte…and bring H&M with you). We shared a platter of fries, onion rings, sweet potato tater tots and Brussells sprouts, in addition to scarfing down burgers and shakes.
On Thursday, my friend had to work at one of the eight Atlanta Whole Foods all day so I set out to visit with my college roommate and her 9 month old baby girl. I got to hear all about her 24 hour labor and what the hell a nipple shield is. It was nice to visit and catch up since seeing her 3 years ago when I came down to see Ray LaMontange at the Fox Theatre the day after moving into my house.
After catching up, I made my way in Atlanta traffic to the fanciest mall in the world. I thought South Park Mall was fancy, but Phipps Plaza takes the cake. It was the fanciest mall I have ever set an underdressed foot in. There’s a piano in the foyer. There are SO many stores that I have never heard of before. There’s no food court so I had to make one outside of Nordstrom’s ebar to chow down on french fries and kalamata olive dip from the Nordstrom Bistro Cafe. It was Valentine’s Day after all so why not spend it with something that you love?
Once my friend got off of work, we trekked to Clermont Lounge. She claims it to be an Atlanta staple. It’s hard to describe what the Clermont Lounge is exactly. It’s a dive bar that Atlanta hipsters flock to. After paying $8 in cover, you enter a dingy smokey bar with a small stage with a live band playing to your left. And strippers to your right. But not just any strippers. Overweight, tattooed, cellulite-ridden, past their prime strippers. It would seem as if Clermont Lounge is where strippers go to retire.
No visit to a strip club would be complete without a visit to a diner. The Magestic Diner for cheesy hashbrows. One of the servers there was in New Orleans for 48 hours of Mardi Gras too.
The alarm sounded too early on Friday when I had to make it to the bus bound for home. All in all, a spectacular week!
One week ago on the Charlotte airport shuttle bus, one woman asked another her destination.
“For Mardi Gras?”
“I’ll get there one day.”
Ladies and gentlemen, today is my one day! I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, so what better time to visit than at Mardi Gras. New Orleans is my new favorite city. The music, the friendly people, the food (oh, the food), the architecture, the indomitable spirit. I imagine New Orleans to be the resulting love child if New York City, Charleston and Las Vegas had a threesome.
After checking into my hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, I set out to explore a soggy Big Easy.
It literally rained on the Monday night parades so they rolled out an hour earlier than scheduled. Harry Connick Jr’s krewe Orpheus was celebrating a 20 year anniversary and invited a few friends to help celebrate.
Harry invited Nick Cannon, Gary Sinise, and former Law and Order SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay and some famous skateboarding bulldog to join in the festivities. After the parade, the fun continued at Orpheuscapade. If yours truly had $150 to spend on a ticket to a concert featuring Gary Sinise and his Lieutenant Dan Band and Harry Connick Jr she would have.
New Orleans is a city of love. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. You’re not a stranger for long here. I watched the Orpheus Krewe roll by with some new friends, an engaged couple who is planning to give beads as wedding favors to guests at their March wedding.
They found out I was a first timer and therefore made it their personal mission to load me down with beads and throws. By the end of the night, I could could barely turn my head!
Tuesday morning I treated myself to a massage (a luxurious rub down I haven’t had in about 3 years) at Loews Spa. It was much needed after being loaded down with beacoup de beads the night before.
A post-massage treat at famed Cafe du Monde for beignets. I overheard a woman at the table next to me ask of the server what he recommended. Cafe du Monde does beignets and coffee and nothing else. Cafe du Monde, where you are what you eat. I was nearly covered in the white stuff by the time I left.
A stroll to Jackson Square next door. A beautiful cathedral wrapped in a blanket of fog.
The interior of Channing Tatum’s bar/restaurant, Saints and Sinners, looked a lot like the now defunct Las Vegas Luxor CatHouse dance club. (Last weekend during the Super Bowl, fans could hang out with Mr.Tatum at his place for the low price of $1,000.) With drink in hand, I gazed down from the balcony upon all the drunk tourists stumbling along Bourbon Street.
On a side note, I only saw one pair of boobs the entire time I was there. And one young woman dropping her pants to pee in an alleyway. And a guy wearing assless chaps in a walking parade. And plenty of men in body suits leaving little to the imagination. I had to get toothpaste at the Walgreens and overheard one girl say to another that she was late for work because she had to buy body glitter. I can’t wait to one day tell my boss that I was late to work because I had to stop to buy body glitter.
By Wednesday morning, Bourbon Street was being washed of its sins with the street cleaning crew in full force. I stocked up on souvenirs to remember my first trip to New Orleans before making my way to my next adventure.
I read a lot of books, and there are some titles that I’m not exactly proud of. Like the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy that swept the nation and spread faster than a whore’s legs. It’s these titles that I would be ashamed to be found with in my posession should I meet my untimely death, like in a fiery plane crash. What will friends and family think of me if they knew that the last book I read in my entire bibliophiled existence was one so horribly written? I send up a silent prayer before boarding the plane that would take me to New York City in May with 50 Shades Darker in hand. I send up another silent prayer before boarding the plane that would take me to Las Vegas in June with 50 Shades Freed in hand.
You would think that I would atone for my literary sins by picking up a copy of something along the lines of War and Peace or Gone with the Wind (two tomes that I have started but not yet finished, thinking that’s what my retirement is meant for) but no, I contiune to play fast and loose with my book selection. I won’t share what’s in my queue from the library, but I will share that I am currently in the middle of Bond Girl. But it’s not what you think, I swear.
Returning home from NYC, I now have to scour this website to make sure that I wasn’t caught unaware reading something I’d die of embarrassment.