Nightmare Flights

Have you ever experienced a flight or airline/airport crew gone wrong? And it went wrong not because of your own doing. Well, a while back on my NOLA post, I mentioned the nightmare of a flight we had on our way to New Orleans. I didn’t elaborate then…so this is my follow up post on what I’ve learned and what I would recommend in the future.

  • For starters, I recommend flying direct to your destination. (Flying back home on a connecting flight is not so bad…after all, I’d rather start a vacation quickly and end it slowly.) There’s nothing worse than starting your trip on the wrong foot. That flight we booked to New Orleans had a connecting flight in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, because the grounds crew or the airline crew didn’t want to shut the airplane door, we waited on the tarmac for more than an hour. Then, the door was finally shut, we pulled back a little, but as unusual as this was…we pulled back to the gate and stayed there for another 45 minutes! At this point, I was already getting anxious and upset simultaneously. I had a feeling we were going to miss our connecting flight and NOT make it to our dinner reservation that evening. Thankfully, our story had a semi sweet ending…We did miss our connecting flight, however, I was able to push back the dinner reservation and  we made it to GW Fins.
  • Check the reviews on flights and airlines. Do their planes typically have mechanical problems? Are they known for always being delayed? What’s their reputation as an airline as a whole? Certain airlines have received a great deal of bad press lately, however, some rightfully so.
  • Choose the lesser of the two evils. How much money do you want to save by booking a connecting flight? Are you using mileage and don’t have much options in choosing which airline to fly with? Is it really a big deal if you miss your dinner reservation? These are things to consider.
  • Lastly, file a complaint. I am one to say that I dislike complainers (especially petty complainers), however, when NONE of the events that transpired were due to your inexperience and/or ignorance on your part AND you paid a fare (pun intended) price, then you ought to speak up. Some airlines are generous in compensating their clients for their mistakes, others are not. You win some, you lose some. But, you can’t win any if you don’t speak a plenty.

How about you? What did you learn from your nightmare flights and what can you recommend to me?

 

Sweet Treats from NYC

Part II of my list of food places to try in New York are sweet treats. Whether it be doughnuts, cookies, or rice pudding…here are my faves:

  • Momofuku Milk Bar. Who thought someone can be so happy with cereal and soft serve? Its like comfort food on another level. And, don’t even get me started on their crack pie…
  • Doughnut Plant. I’ve always been a fan of tres leches and theirs is a must try! A few others to add to your box: Peanut butter and banana cream, vanilla bean, red velvet, crème brûlé, Peanut butter and blackberry jam…heck, just try everything!
  • Rice to Riches. If you grew up with a Filipino mom, you know what chocolate rice is. Rice to Riches is just that… but better! There are other things added to the rice other than chocolate. They have rum raisin, french toast, mascarpone, banana coconut, and the list goes on and on… Sample a few to taste what you like because it is filling and not so cheap. Then reward your belly with some yummy goodness!

I hope you get to try at least one of these three places, and let me know what you think. I have other places I want to try that I have not ticked off…such as, Levain Bakery, Cookie Dō, and others. Always gotta have a reason to come back to NYC.

New York Food List

Prior to the trip, I had this list of food places I wanted to try. I got through most of it…and wanted to share it with you:

  • Russ & Daughter’s – A great New York bagel experience. I had a Plain bagel with Lox and Scallion Cream Cheese. Yum!
  • Julianna’s Pizza – Granted, I was pretty full already from my burger at Shake Shack…I just had to try a slice of their Buffalo Mozzarella pizza. It was delicious!
  • Shake Shack – To be completely honest, I had reservations about this place. I mean, California has some pretty legit burger joints that I’ve already tried…But, disappoint it did not! I truly enjoyed every bite of my Smokeshack burger.
  • Sabbia, formerly Baita, in Eataly’s rooftop. A little overrated for the food, but the experience was wonderful. Beautiful rooftop and great drinks!
  • Katz Deli – one and done! Meaning, one visit for me is sufficient enough…the food was meh! And the lines are crazy! To top that off, you must keep your eyes peeled for a table to be vacated, and once you find one, hope no one else grabs it before you.
  • Smorgasburg – A great place to try a variety of different foods. Eat your heart out…literally!
  • Yuji Ramen- A new take on ramen. Its all seafood base. Unique yet surprisingly good. Also, a tiny hole in the wall place, so be prepared to be in close proximity with strangers.
  • Chelsea’s Market – A wonderful place to people watch, listen to live music, shop, and eat great tacos! Yup, I had tacos and quesadillas at Los Taco’s #1 and boy were they delicious! I had the carne asada taco and the adobada especial…I highly recommend trying them!
  • Pies & Thighs – A good option for some southern food. A nice plate of chicken and waffles to make you feel that nice southern comfort; and don’t forget that smoked pork collards.

After going through this food list, I want to do an 8 mile hike or longer. Happy Noshing!

4 Nights in NOLA

New Orleans, Louisiana…I have loved you from the start! From the many other places I wanted to visit in the States, New Orleans ranked high on the list. So as not to use up much vacation time, I opted to visit during Thanksgiving Weekend. Thankfully, I was able to find a moderately priced package deal that had airline tickets and hotel for two.

On this blog post, I wanted to share our itinerary and possibly give you some ideas for when you visit NOLA.

We flew in on Tuesday evening after a nightmare of a flight (saving that story for another time…) In time, to catch a dinner reservation at GW Fins. Definitely, had a great experience from start to finish. Food was delectable and service was stellar. Also, our hotel was nearby, so we just walked to and fro. Great way to also catch some action on Bourbon St.

The next day we took the Riverfront Line Streetcar (red one) to the Riverwalk Outlet. The reason for me to even pay this place a visit was to catch sight of the cruise ship and to sit and admire the Mississippi River. There is a Cafè Du Monde there, however, we opted to go to the stand alone 24 hour operation on 800 Decatur St. And yes, I will go there at 12 midnight to indulge in a warm beignet and a cafè au lait. Another noteworthy thing to do is to take the St. Charles Line Streetcar (green one) from Carondelet to the very end of the line. It’ll take you through mansions, the Loyola and Tulane Universities, and Audubon Gardens. On the way back, we hopped off near Magazine St and did some shopping.

On our third day, we did a Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters that we booked through our concierge. A small bus picked us up at our hotel lobby and drove us to Slidell where we began our adventure. We saw alligators, wild boar, raccoons, snakes, owls, egrets, and more. Definitely a great way to experience the Louisiana bayou!

New Orleans is home to Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino so my visit wouldn’t be complete if I did not devote any time to listening to some good live jazz and soulful music on Frenchmen St. And, I can attest to it that Jazz music is so much better live! I might add too, if you’re anything like me, you’d spend more time on Frenchmen St than on Bourbon St. Just sayin…

I’ll be back NOLA…for your poboys, beignets, and live music! This isn’t the last of me.

 

 

 

 

A dog loving place-Santa Barbara, CA

This post is long overdue…regarding that one weekend in Santa Barbara, California.

We truly enjoyed this spontaneous weekend trip because we realized how dog-loving Santa Barbara was. We drove down on a Saturday and spent the remainder of the day at Arroyo Burro Beach. We are keen of that beach…and let me tell you why! First, there’s a section for dogs to be off leash (East of Slough,) and another section for dogs on leash. Second, there’s a self service pet wash station by the parking lot, as you exit. It was so convenient and affordable for us to have a great time with our dog, and bring him back to the hotel not smelling like a wet, filthy rag.

Our hotel, Kimpton Canary Hotel, was extraordinary! Great service through and through. They allow pets, especially one like ours, who weighed in at 120lbs. They made each one of us feel welcome, including Brutus. The hotel also houses a great restaurant, Finch and Fork, to have your special date night at. The hotel also boasts a beautiful rooftop pool that overlooks parts of Santa Barbara. Great area to lounge and have a few drinks.

The hotel is also conveniently located near many shops and other restaurants. The hotel lends you their bikes or you can walk. We walked since we had Brutus with us, and there were many places that offered outdoor seating. One such place was Tupelo Junction Cafe. Although the seating outside was limited, the hostess was very friendly and accommodating to let us know when the table would be available. We didn’t have to wait very long.

Overall, Santa Barbara is definitely one of those places that we would love to visit again and again because of their dog-loving ways. Its a place I can see us bringing Brutus to time and time again, without having to worry if he will be accepted because of his size or his breed. Its also one of those places that keep you interested because its not stodgy. Santa Barbara will always have something to offer… for just about anyone.

A Foodie’s Dream Come True…Dallas & Austin, TX

Back in December, my friend Rachel, my husband, and I took a quick trip to Texas. This was the first time for all of us to visit the Lone Star State. We were there specifically for a wedding…but…simultaneously, we ate our way thru Dallas and Austin.

To get a taste of Southern Food we visited Ellen’s Southern Kitchen. The mac and cheese along with their fried okra was the highlight of that place.

Next, to get our liquor and grub on…we visited Meddlesome Moth. Excellent service, superior tasting food, and booze everywhere.

A visit to Texas wouldn’t be complete without having Tex-Mex. That is: Texan influenced Mexican food. For that, our local friends took us to Torchy’s. After having it, I realized I have a special spot for authentic Mexican food.

Now, let me tell you this…Texas, or possibly just Austin…has an infatuation with licking. We visited two very different establishments with “lick” in its name. One of them was Salt Lick BBQ. A visit to Texas also wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have some of their BBQ. Salt Lick has many claims to fame, including a feature on the show Man vs. Food, however, the locals also like their food. We had to go there! And it truly did not disappoint.

The other establishment was called Lick Honest Ice Cream. They have such unique and classic flavors…something to please everyone’s tastebuds.

And now that I think about it though…they had every reason to include “lick” in their names. Its exactly what you would do with your fingers or lips after having anything on their menu.

As you can see…we ate our way (figuratively speaking) thru Dallas and Austin in three days. We definitely went through a cleanse afterwards.

However, if you do visit Dallas or Austin…definitely try one of the places mentioned above. You won’t regret it entirely. Happy Nom Nom!

 

 

Guam Food List

My blog lives…

Sorry I’ve been missing these past few weeks… Juggling things in your life is a real talent. Also, I’ve been running dry on ideas for my blog. But, alas, I was reminded by a girlfriend of mine a list I had made of restaurants I wanted her to try on her last visit to Guam…and I thought…”why don’t I do a blog post on that?” So here it is…

My dear friend Krystal visited Guam in 2008. Before her journey, I recommended a few of my favorite places that would leave an indelible mark. Those places were, and still are, my top picks.

Jamaican Grill. They are known for their Jerk BBQ Chicken and Ribs. Ya Mon, It is some serious food. When you eat BBQ…you always need your rice and they have Jamaican Rice and Red Rice. I come from a family of 7, so we always get their family platters and order 1/2 Jamaican Rice and 1/2 Red Rice. You gotta do both…they are equally as good. For lunch or a quick bite, I always go for their Jerk Burger with curry mayo and fries. A must try!

Shirley’s. A staple on the island. Plus, one of her son’s was my next door neighbor…they were awesome! Shirley’s is famous for her fried rice. So, I always order that with my 1/2 chicken. You will find an array of items to order on their menu and the portions are huge.

Joinus Keyaki-Teppanyaki. The restaurant has had some remodeling done but the food is just as good as I remembered. There has been a price increase, but that is normal for businesses to stay afloat. With that being said, I recommend coming here during lunch for the prices are still reasonable and you get to do some shopping after. Ask for garlic chips with your angus beef and get some syrup (sugar water) for your iced tea and enjoy the teppan show.

Capriciossa. Pasta for days! Gotta try their Seafood Spaghetti (I believe its the s-9…) and their Black Ink Squid Spaghetti. The portions are huge, so you can definitely share among friends and family.

Chamorro Village. Every Wednesday night there is a Night Market. There are food vendors, clothing vendors, souvenir vendors, and more. It gets really crowded and busy, so for some they prefer to go on other days during normal business hours. You can ride the trolley or drive to Chamorro Village. If you do go, get a fiesta plate. Usually this will be red rice, BBQ meat (chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, etc.,) chicken kelaguen, and potato salad. Also, get shrimp patties, takoyaki, and pickled papaya or mango. My mouth is salivating as I type…

McKraut’s. I reminisce when this place used to be a small shack in Malojloj with a slogan “Not Healthy but Tasty.” How it has grown! It is now a full-fledged restaurant and bar. This place is legendary for their brats from when they were a small shack, but now their menu has expanded.  I ordered Jägerschnitzel on my last visit, which was breaded pork served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage vegetables. It was good. The only downside to this place is the slow service. But what can you expect? It is, after all, island time.

My new favorites on island:

Pika’s Café. Open only for breakfast and lunch or brunch. However, come early because the place has a tendency to fill up quickly. Tinaktak Burger, Loco Moco, Korean BBQ on Rice…are items you can NEVER go wrong with. It kept me coming back for more. I didn’t appreciate their penne pasta…but that’s why I go to Capri for pasta.

Niji at the Hyatt. A place to visit for all you can eat tempura and green tea tiramisu. Need I say more?

I hope I made some helpful suggestions and, if you are visiting, enjoy your time in Guam!

Pocket Wifi

Pocket Wifi has got to be one of those things that you would consider a life-saver.

Previously, I did a blog post on apps that require data and how you could use those apps without being afraid of coming home to a ridiculously expensive cell phone bill.

Interestingly, a country that is known for its cutting-edge technology, wasn’t so wifi friendly. Especially when it came to free wifi at places of businesses. We rented a pocket wifi device at the airport, and this helped us traverse through unknown territory.

A few things you need to remember when renting a pocket wifi:

  • Have a credit card. Although, your debit card has a Visa logo, it doesn’t work as a credit card. The company we rented our pocket wifi’s from required this.
  • There is a mobile wifi router rental agreement that you have to sign, so plan to take a few minutes at the rental booth. We had to run to our train station because we didn’t realize how long the process would be. I would at least plan for 30 minutes – 1 hour. Especially when traveling with a group.
  • Keep your passport handy for they will need it to identify you.
  • Don’t lose anything. They give you a small bag that will house the charger and the pocket wifi.
  • Don’t forget to return at the same kiosk (we rented ours in the arrival terminal of the airport.) My brothers remembered to return their’s since they took the train back to the airport the same way we arrived, however, my husband and I decided to take the limousine bus back to the airport which drops you off directly at the departure terminal. Because of that, we completely forgot to return our pocket wifi until we were near our gate, and had to mail it back. They charge a fee to your card, for not returning it on the date you said you would, but upon receiving the pocket wifi they refunded the fee.

A few things to remember when using the pocket wifi:

  • Don’t upload videos using the pocket wifi because you will drain, not only the battery, but also the ability to keep your speed connection at 4G. I made this mistake and had to deal with 3G for the entire trip..which isn’t so bad, but when you’ve gotten so used to 4G…there’s no going back.
  • If you have a long day planned, keep the charger with you and have a standby battery pack. Unfortunately, with constant use, it goes for eight hours but very hardly anything longer than that. We almost didn’t have a way to find our way back to our hotel at 11:30pm. Thank goodness for taxi cabs.

I hope our experiences with the pocket wifi will help you on your next journey. Happy Travels!

Camping Survival Guide (for the Women)

So, as you know, we spent our Memorial Day weekend camping in Truckee, California. While planning it months before, we thought that it would be a great weekend to go camping. Since it’s in late May, we figured it would be Not too hot and Not too cold. Boy, were we wrong! It rained the entire weekend. We did have glimpses of the sun, and for one whole afternoon we were blessed with sunshine. However, hours later we had a torrential downpour. And at night, we were cold. Not bone-chilling cold but still pretty cold. Upon returning home, I did appreciate having a few items with me that helped make camping life easy. Here they are:

  • Travel John. It’s basically a disposable urinal. You cup it below you and you pee into it. Immediately the liquid turns into gel, so nothing spills out. It claims to be re-usable…meaning you can use it more than one pee session, but I didn’t do that because I was worried my liquids would be too much and overflow. I rather not risk it. A pack came with six disposable urinals, so I had more than enough for three nights. The Travel John saved me from having to walk out in the rain to relieve myself in the port-a-potty. (The Travel John site.)
  • Wipes. Bath Wipes, Hand Wipes, Face Wipes, and Flushable Wipes. They all came in handy and useful in keeping us clean. This was a must, considering we had no showers in our campground.
  • HeadLamp. When the sun sets and darkness starts to loom around you, the headlamp was an awesome option for providing light. Its hands free so you can cook, wash dishes, and do anything else freely with your two hands.
  • Self-inflating sleeping pads. Easy to set up and provides cushion for your back and insulation from the cold.
  • Sleeping Bags. Keeps you warm in the cold.
  • Tarp. Provides shade from sun and shelter from the rain. It can also be used underneath your tent so that the bottom doesn’t get soaked from the rain. Very multipurpose.
  • Layers. Bring layers and a change of clothes. This helps you feel warmer and cleaner.
  • FaceWash, Acne meds, and Moisturizer with SPF. I broke out on Day 2 of camping. Skincare is still important.
  • Rain Gear. I had my snowboarding jacket which kept me warm and dry. I wish I had packed rain boots because I brought my Uggs wannabe shoes that kept me warm but they weren’t waterproof.
  • First Aid Kit. A must especially if children are there.
  • Carabiners. They are so useful for camping..to hang your lantern, to let your dog run freely, and other useful things.
  • And hopefully your man brings the rest: Tent, Lantern, Camp Stove, Cooler, Lighter Fluid plus Lighter, Fire Starter, Cooking Supplies, Clean Up Supplies, Plates, Cups, Cutlery, Food, and Bug Spray.

We only camp once or twice a year, but it is a fun activity if you do it with the right group and with the right weather. Happy Camping!

Travel Apps Part 2: Traversing Around Town

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Alas, here is part two of the travel apps series. Today, I will be sharing with you what apps I’ve used in the past to get around a certain city. Granted, most of these apps require data, so I will be sharing how to access data while traveling abroad, on another blog post. So, let’s get started!

Google Maps (requires data). I loved using this app in our recent travel to Tokyo. We commuted mostly by train and it tells you what line to get on and if there are any transfers. Most of the time, it also gives you the platform number, to help you while you are transferring between two different train lines. Another nice feature is knowing how much to pay. It tells you exactly the cost of getting to your destination.

I have CityMapper (requires data) too, which is a lot like Google Maps, but I didn’t use it as much during this past trip. But, you can definitely download and see which you like better. You might actually like both.

All Subway (no data required). This app helps you look at the Subway Route Maps in the city you are visiting. It has ALOT of cities… but I’m pretty sure not all. It has Manila, Melbourne, Milan, Miami, Copenhagen, Bangkok, etc. So, if your city is on there, it’s a good download before you leave.

Yelp (requires data). Yelp has been around for a long time in the United States, and is recently going Global. I used it a bit in Italy back in 2012, but didn’t find a lot of reviews in certain places. This year, I used it in Tokyo and found a few gems that were recommended by Yelp reviewers! I love to use Yelp to find highly recommended cafe, restaurants, and breweries. It saves me from having to go through a horrible experience!

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please note though, that these apps are not foolproof. You still may get lost, get off a wrong stop, or have a bad experience at a restaurant. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. However, these apps may help lessen the painful ordeal of a highly stressful situation. A few other tips I can suggest, if you are staying at a hotel, gather suggestions from the front desk staff or concierge (no data required). Ask them:

  • Is this the right route to take to get from point A to point B?
  • What is a good sushi place (pasta place, cafe, etc.) nearby?
  • What are some activities to do around town?

Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or for help. Asking for help is half the battle. 😉

Happy Travel Friends!