Posted in Thoughts, Traveling Adventures

Traveling Tuesdays – NYC Edition Part 2

I was bitten by the travel bug a few years ago. The first trip I took? To New York City. Last Tuesday, I posted about my amazing experience at Sleep No More. Today, I’ll highlight the other things I enjoyed while I was there and hopefully, you’ll be able to use some of the information for your future trips to NYC. ūüôā

Central Parkcropped-cropped-2014-09-14-09-53-24.jpg

If you don’t go here on your first visit to NYC, shame on you. This park is beautiful and has a lot to see. On my first visit here, my friends and I aimlessly walked through parts of the park. While we were there, we met a native New Yorker who spent his free time chit chatting with tourists. He liked getting to meet people from all different walks of life. I forget his name, but he was wonderful. He offered to show us where certain things were like the Belvedere Castle,¬†the Alice in Wonderland Statue, among many other things. There are also a bunch of different tours that are available if you want a more structured day at the park.

Our “tour guide”

City Pass

For $116, City Pass offers tourists the opportunity to visit 6 of NYC’s iconic landmarks. It’s cheaper than buying each of the tickets individually and I believe there are other passes that are available so do your research and choose wisely. This pass includes access to the Empire State Buildling, the American museum of Natural History, MOMA, and 6 other options. It also allows you to bypass the regular lines and so you’ll get to your destination a bit quicker. The pass is good for 9 days so you’ll have ample time to use up the pass, unless you’re only in NYC for a few days. In that case, go go go. My friends and I had a blast doing all the touristy things.

On our way up to the Empire State Building
Starry Night by Van Gogh at MOMA

Michelin Star Restaurant – Le Bernardin

If you’re going to NYC, you should make an effort to go to a Michelin Star restaurant. If you’re on a budget, I found that lunches are much cheaper than their dinner counterparts. I went to Le Bernardin (3 star) for lunch and it cost me $87 for a prix fixed menu (3 courses). If you go for dinner, it’s $150 for 4 courses. It was definitely a #treatyoself kind of¬†experience.

Tuna Carpaccio

Go see a musical

My friends and I went to see two while we were in NYC – The Lion King and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The latter was fan freaking tastic. If you have a chance to see it anywhere (I believe it’s touring right now), I’d highly recommend it. If you couldn’t guess, the musical is about love and murder.

“GENTLEMAN‚ÄôS GUIDE tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, an heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by‚ÄĒyou guessed it‚ÄĒeliminating the eight pesky relatives who stand in his way.”

One of the main characters goes on to play several characters and watching him exit stage right and re-enter within a minute was pretty entertaining. If that musical isn’t your cup of tea, go find one that is.¬†There are so many opportunities to see a musical while in NYC. If budget is an issue, go here to read about how to get cheap Broadway tickets. If there’s a will, there’s a way.

Eat everything!

As a foodie, I cannot end this post without recommending a few places to eat in NYC.¬† If you can’t afford a Michelin star restaurant, that’s perfectly fine. There are so many other restaurants that are worthy for a visit. Below are a few of my suggestions.

Totto Ramen is a must for ramen lovers. The broth is not your traditional pork, but rather chicken so it’s a little lighter in taste, but it still has a really well seasoned taste. I would recommend this place to anyone visiting NYC.

¬†The Mermaid Oyster Bar¬†¬†has¬†amazing oysters during their Happy Hour. For $1 per oyster, who can’t get behind that? Make a reservation for their happy hour to avoid being sent away.

Levain Bakery is a must. This one is a bit of a splurge as their cookies are $4 a piece, but if anything, just try one (and ask for one that just came out of the oven – they can often accomodate this request). Their cookies are delicious, not to mention HUGE. It’s worth it. Trust me.

My next suggestion¬†Lady M Cake Boutique¬†is also a bit of a splurge, but if you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on this. Lady M sells crepe cakes. These cakes have layers upon layers of crepes and they give the cake a really unique texture.

The Halal Guys¬†– If you like gyros, this is the place for you. The Halal guys is considered street food. You order from a cart and you eat on the side of the street. It’s kind of freeing in a way.

If you find too many things to eat (there’s no such thing), do what we did. Order one or two things and split it amongst your friends.

So there you have it – some of the things I did in NYC.

If you’ve been to NYC, what did you do? What¬†were some of your favorite things? I want to hear!

Posted in Traveling Adventures

Traveling Tuesdays – Thailand edition Part II

I went to Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand last November. Here are my favorite four things from the trip and some things I learned along the way.

  1. Bangkok street food РOn any given weekday, the streets on which our hotel was on was filled with food vendors selling food for ~20 baht, which is give or take 60 cents in the U.S.  As huge foodies, we were thrilled. Here were some of my meals.

    If you have a sensitive stomach and aren’t willing to try street food, Siam Paragon is a mall that has a lot of delicious meals and is cleaner. We ate a lot of street food and didn’t get sick, but to each their own. We had some of the food there and most of the things we tried were delicious.

  2. Silom Thai Cooking School РMy boyfriend really wanted to take a Thai cooking class and after a lot of research, I settled for this cooking school in Bangkok. This was such an entertaining class and I would strongly recommend to anyone to take one while in Thailand. Our instructor, Oliver, was fluent in English, and educated us on the ingredients at the market that are often used in Thailand. He was funny, charming, and just a wonderful instructor. Here are some of the dishes we made.
  3. Taking the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – I had never taken the train before this so this was something I really wanted to do. I chose to take an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai because¬†why not? I save on a night’s stay AND wake up in a new city all for roughly $25. It was also fun to wake up to a view of the countryside with¬†stray dogs roaming around. When the train was stopped, the kitchen would often throw out food scraps for the dogs and so we’d get to see them eat and play around with one another. If you do end up taking the overnight train and you choose a sleeper with airconditioning, I’d recommend taking a blanket, some earplugs, and a sleeping mask. They do give you a blanket to use, but they blast the airconditioning and it can get quite cold in the evenings. If you are a light sleeper, ear plugs are necessary. They also keep the lights on and even though there’s a curtain that blocks out some of the light, a sleeping mask is recommended.
  4. Elephant Nature Park¬†¬†– This was my absolute favorite part of my trip to Thailand. Here’s a mini lesson on elephant riding. Elephants don’t normally allow humans to ride on their backs. The extra weight puts a huge strain on their back and it hurts them. Trainers will beat and abuse the elephants to train them to allow humans to ride them.¬†The Elephant Nature Park and other elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai don’t do any of that. While you won’t be able to ride an elephant (it’s not the end of the world), you will be able to feed, bathe, and take care of an elephant for part of the day. [The sanctuaries will send out vans to pick you up at your hotel (as long as you’re within a designated region) at 8 am and take you to the park and back.] These sanctuaries take in elephants that have been abused by their owners. We saw elephants that were¬†stabbed in the eye for disobeying their owners. Others had stepped on landmines while working.¬†It was really a heartwarming experience to see them so well taken care of after all that torture and I am so lucky to have been so close to one.

    So there you have it. My favorite four events from the trip.

    If you’ve been to Thailand, what did you do? What were your favorites? If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.¬†Thanks!

If you liked reading my post, please like and comment below.

Posted in Running, Thoughts

Half Marathon Bucket List

I wouldn’t call myself a running addict, but I may be known to sign up for a race or two or 20. The racing atmosphere is great – the support from fans and fellow runners, the route, and of course, that shiny medal waiting for you at the end!

Below is my bucket list¬†of¬†RACES (in no particular order).¬†Some I’ve done and some I’m hoping to do. Hopefully, this will inspire you to make your own bucket list of races too.

Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon
Where: Las Vegas, NV
When: Mid November
Why: You get to RUN THE STRIP at night! What better way to start off your trip in Vegas than by running the strip and celebrating it with a night of debauchery or in my case, eating at all the buffets. ¬†If I wasn’t running the New York Marathon the weekend before, I would have totally signed up for this.

San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon РCompleted 06.04.2014 and 06.05.2016
Where: San Diego, CA
When: Early June
Why: As a San Diego Native, it is my birthright to tell everyone to run this race. It’s organized by the Rock N Roll Series and they do a damn good job of putting on a good show.¬†The race has bands stationed at almost every mile and there is a ton of neighborhood support. There are cheer teams stationed throughout the course to keep you motivated. My favorite group would definitely have to be the cheer drag queens that are stationed in the Hillcrest neighborhood. There are neighbors that will wake up early to give you shots of tequila and whiskey and neighbors that are willing to hose you down with water so you can cool off. If that isn’t support, I don’t know what is. This is a favorite race of mine in San Diego – so much so that I’ve signed up for it for a 3rd time since I first ran it 2 years ago.

*Side note:¬†The Health and Fitness Expo where your packet pick up is is huge and you can literally spend a few hours in there looking at all the neat stuff they’re trying to sell you or give away.

New York Marathon
Where: New York City, NY
When: Early November
Why: Technically not a half marathon, but this is definitely one of those must dos. There is a lottery for this race. That’s how popular this is. Last year alone, 49,500 people crossed the finish line. That’s an insane amount of marathoners congregated in just one city. You get to explore the city by running through the 5 boroughs. The organizers even put together training programs (for a fee) that are specifically detailed to your lifestyle and help you cross that finish line.

Note: I’m crossing this one off this year and I’m extremely excited. It’ll be my first marathon! Eeek!

Nike Women’s Half Marathon – Completed 10.19.2014
Where: San Francisco, CA
When: Mid October
Why: In lieu of a medal that you can only really wear once in your life without looking like a weirdo, you get a Tiffany’s necklace and get your picture taken with firefighters dressed in tuxedos. Also, you get to run with thousands of other women. Can you say girl power? The race isn’t exclusive to women so if you’re a smart guy, you’d sign up for this too.

Note: This race has been discontinued by Nike and they have not yet announced a replacement race in the U.S. They do have a NikeWomen Victory Tour this year¬†if you’re able to travel out of the country to race.

Credit Union’s Cherryblossom 10 Mile Run
Where: Washington D.C
When: Early April
Why: Again, not a half marathon, but you get to run through cherryblossom trees and if you love cherryblossoms, this is the race for you. This race usually coincides with the peak bloom of the cherryblossoms in D.C. so if you’re lucky, you get to frolick through D.C. with cherryblososms here and there for 10 miles. This race is also a lottery so sign up for notifications early and keep a lookout for that email.

Beat the Blerch Half Marathon
Where: Seattle, WA and Las Vegas, NV
Why: Did someone say cake? The race was inspired by this comic¬†that Matthew Inman (aka the Oatmeal) wrote and staying true to the comic, there are cakes at every aid station and Blerches (in fat suits) chasing you throughout the course. I may have to pass on the cakes during the race, but you can bet that I will inhaling some cake post-race. You can’t catch me Blerch.

Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon
Where: Orlando, FL
When:  Early November
Why:¬†If you’ve ever run a Disney race, you’ll know that Disney does races well. Each race starts off with fireworks, which are magical and get you all pumped up. ¬†Then you get to run through parts of the parks (and neighboring areas) while Disney characters and staff cheer you on. Minnie and Daisy even wear their workout clothes to cheer you on.

It is or was unique from the other Disney races in that it starts in the evening (~10 pm) and you finish in Epcot where you wine and dine your little hearts out.¬†Unfortunately the 2016 race is being held in the morning with the wine and dine portion still held in the evening.¬†Maybe it’s just me, but I like to celebrate immediately after I finish the race. Hopefully, the 2017 or 2018 race will revert to an evening start time and then it’ll be my time to sign¬†up.

Disney’s TinkerBell Half Marathon¬†– Completed 05.10.2015
Where: Anaheim, CA
When: May (typically during mother’s day weekend)
Why: I’m a fan of Disney and more importantly, I’m a fan of Tinkerbell. She has so much sass and I love that. So why not run a Tinkerbell themed Disney race? The first part of course runs through Disneyland and California Adventures and then takes you out through the neighborhoods and finally has you return to a Disney parking lot. Anticlimatic? Nope. The magic is still there cause Disney knows how to get it done. This race is usually held during Mother’s Day weekend and I saw a LOT of mothers and daughters run it together last year. It’s definitely a bonding experience.

Note that all Disney races are not cheap so choose sparingly if you’re on a budget.

So there you have it – my 8 bucket list races. Without a doubt, I will be adding more as time goes on.

Posted in Race Reports, Running

Beach Cities Challenge #1 – Long Beach Half Marathon Race Report

As the crazy half marathoner that I am or at least becoming, I, of course, would sign up for a whole new set of races after completing San Diego’s Triple Crown Challenge. It must be that addicting runner’s high, right?

Anyway, I’m afraid to travel for races out of my time zone so for the time being, I am running up and down the coast of California. Next stop? Orange County for the Beach Cities Challenge. This challenge consists of three races – Surf City Half/Full marathon in February, OC Half/Full in May, and the Long Beach Half/Full in October. Luckily for me, these races don’t have to be done in the same calendar year and the Long Beach Half marathon was only two months after my AFC Half. It’s fate, really.

Training went well with a few bumps along the way. Southern California has been having crazy weather the past few months and trying to do long runs on the weekend when it wasn’t blistering hot or raining was definitely a challenge. My longest run since the AFC Half, you ask? Yeah, that’d be about 5 miles. I am a bit ashamed, but hey, it happens. Your schedule gets too busy or you make excuses, and then in the blink of an eye, it’s half marathon time.

The race itself, was beautiful. If you don’t live on a coast, this is a really¬†good race to run if you want a great view of the beach/bay. The course has many turns at the beginning of the race, but at each turn, you get really beautiful views of the city/parks/bay. Then,¬†around mile 6.5, you loop back to the start/finish line, which is actually a bit of a tease. You’re so close, yet in actuality, not really. For another 3 miles, you run along the bay and face the sun. This was my least favorite part since the sun is just bearing down on your face, but it was only for three miles. At mile 9.5, you do a U turn and race back to the finish line. You run through the city and it’s just a nice ending view.

All in all, it was a good race. They were organized and they gave half marathoners the option to start at 6 am instead of 7:30 am. I would have definitely melted had they not. To finish off this post, here are a few of my expressions after finishing the race.

Happy, delirious, and in a little bit of pain, but worth it!
Happy, delirious, and in a little bit of pain, but worth it!
Posted in Traveling Adventures

Portland Happenings (Day 3 and 4)

Day 3:

The Reggie
The Reggie

If you thought our second day was full of food, you haven’t seen anything yet. Started off our third day making our trek east of the Willamette River and set our sights on Pine State Biscuits.¬†The Reggie Deluxe is what they’re known for, but we opted for the eggless version of it, which was the Reggie. It’s¬†basically fried chicken and bacon in between a biscuit with gravy drenched over it. This place is amazingly good. I would definitely go back if I was in Portland again. They have two types of gravy – one that is sausage based and the other, which is mushroom based. We got the sausage based gravy and was instantly won over. The biscuits and that fried chicken was so good. You could just feel your arteries clogging up. Luckily, we did a lot of walking afterwards to check around their local shops. There were a LOT of consignment shops or what I like to call them, a hoarder’s paradise. Walking through these shops made me realize that I really am not a fan of clutter. After some

All the Thai food from my 3rd day in Portland
All the Thai food from my 3rd day in Portland

time walking around exploring comic book shops, pet stores, and consignment shops, we ended up at Nong’s Khao Man Gai for Thai food. They have several food stands around Portland in addition to the restaurant we went to. Fun fact: I believe, the owner was on the Food Network’s Chopped, and used to work for Pok Pok, another Thai restaurant in Portland. If you’re looking for basic¬†home cooked food, this is the place for you. We ordered the pork and rice dish and got this really simplistic dish, which I liked. The dish was light and not overpowering, which made it a nice break from all the heavy foods that we had eaten the past few days. We were in and out of there pretty quickly and on our way to getting lost.

It really is amazing how far technology has come. Both of us had been using google maps to get around using that nifty little bus function during the whole trip, but unfortunately in the middle of our third day, my phone decided to lose my GPS location and take me in the wrong direction while on low battery. Luckily, my boyfriend’s phone was able to take us in the correct direction and we were on a bus back to our airbnb spot. And as the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” Once we were on the bus and cruising back, we realized that we had missed our stop and was on the other side of the city. We were dropped off on the side of the road in some country side like area and just laughed at our little bump in the road. 15 minutes later, we were back on the bus, and on our way back.

That evening, we went back out, this time with a fully charged phone, to another Thai restaurant that was highly recommended called Pok Pok. I’m so glad we made the trek across the river. We ate at the bar and I’d recommend this if you’re in a party of two. We talked to the bartender and he was extremely friendly and gave us great recommendations on their food.¬†We ordered the Kai Yaang (charcoal roasted hen with lemongrass), ¬†Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, and the Muu Paa Kham Waan (Boar collar meat served with chilled mustard greens). First off, Thai food is really flavorful. Second, most Thai dishes are spicy. Now, if you can’t handle either, you really shouldn’t be eating most of the things here. My favorite dish was definitely the Muu Paa Kham Waan. It was pretty darn spicy, but so good at the same time. I mean, they serve it with chilled mustard greens. That’s how spicy it is. You need that iced veggie to calm your taste buds down. Their fish sauce wings came in a very close second. It’s their most well known dish and there’s definitely an explosion of spices in your mouth when eating this. I’d definitely recommend it.

Day 4:

Tanner Springs Park
Tanner Springs Park

Last day of our trip was pretty chill. We walked around a few parks, most notably Tanner Springs park. One of the walls there is made of train tracks and was kind of cool. We slowly made our way east and toward the airport. We dropped by Kal√©¬†for Japanese curry. If you’re into Japanese curry, I’d highly recommend this place. The owner was delightful. He informed us that they specialize in curry and therefore, do not have a variety of other dishes. We ordered the Kal√© rice with chicken and the kal√© rice with beef. It’s a order at the register, pick up your food there, and bus your own table type of deal and for $8 curry, I can’t really complain. As a side note, after eating lunch, we passed by a full block of food trucks selling their tasty goods. I was really sad we were full from eating or else I would have bought some food here too. We also dropped by Cacao drink chocolate. If you’re a chocolate fanatic, this is the place for you. Like the name

Our flight of sipping chocolates
Our flight of sipping chocolates

says, you drink chocolate here. We shared a flight of 2 oz sipping chocolates. The cinnamon infused chocolate was definitely my favorite. We also tried salt and straw vanilla ice cream with craque (pronounced crack). Although, it should have been spelled that way. They’re candied cacao nibs and are crazily¬†addicting. Sadly, afterwards, we made our way back to the airport.

TLDR? – Highlights of my last two days:

Pine State Biscuits is a must try for all the foodies and even the non-foodies. Who knows? You might even convert.

Pok Pok¬†Try the fish sauce wings! They’re yummy.

Food pods¬† Find some around Portland and eat to your heart’s content or until your wallet is empty.

Parks¬†Visit some! Being from an area that’s in a drought, I found Portland to be super green and beautiful.

All in all, this was a great trip. It had food, games, getting lost, and a great vibe to it. I look forward to my next trip!

Posted in Traveling Adventures

Portland Happenings (Day 1 and 2)

Day 1

We arrived in Portland around 5 pm. Our airbnb contact person wasn’t able to meet us until 9 pm so we decided to head

Tasty n Alder - Foie gras, hush puppies, and fries
Tasty n Alder – Foie gras, hush puppies, and fries

downtown and grab a bite to eat. First stop was Tasty and Alder. This place is busy. We were quoted a 1 hour wait time around dinner time, but luckily, a spot opened up while we were still there and we were seated pretty quickly. My friend mentioned that they served foie gras and bone marrow, so obviously, I had to try one of the two. We opted for the foie gras, hush puppies, and fries. The foie gras came with a pineapple jam, which was a nice touch. I’ve had foie gras on two other occassions and wasn’t used to the bitterness of this particular foie gras. Luckily, the pineapple jam was able to compliment the foie gras well and the dish was a hit. Hush puppies were amazingly moist and I could just feel my arteries clog up as I ate it with the mayonaise like sauce they included. Next up was dessert at Ruby Jewel. We ordered the Raspberry truffle ice cream and was blown away. Those chunks of truffle in the ice cream were delicious. Last stop before we headed to our airbnb spot was Powell’s Books. This bookstore is so big you need a map to locate whatever book your heart desires. We spent a good hour or so just perusing the books they had. Afterwards, we headed our airbnb spot to get our keys and back out we went to explore some more. The Alphabet district¬†is this cool neighborhood with a lot of restaurants and shops on one of the streets. We stopped by Escape from New York Pizza¬†for a slice of pizza to curb our late night cravings and called it a night.

Day 2

Southpark Seafood - a few of their $5 happy hour items
Southpark Seafood – a few of their $5 happy hour items

We started our morning off with Blue Star Donuts, which is supposedly better than Voodoo donuts. I’m not a fan of overly sweet donuts and so the blueberry bourbon basil donut that I had was perfect for my morning. I couldn’t really taste the basil nor the bourbon, but there was plenty of blueberry flavor to go around. After getting my fill, we headed over to Tom McCall Waterfront park to see some dragonboat races. The park has this wonderful view of the Williamette River and we just walked along it for awhile until we hit the Portland Saturday Market, which is actually a misnomer because it’s open both Saturdays and Sundays. This market was probably one of the highlights of my trip. My friend describes this place as an IRL Etsy because all the vendors craft their products. We came across a lot of jewelry makers, a catnip vendor, a puzzle maker, and even spoonman, a vendor that takes silverware and turns it into something else like a ring or chimes. Afterwards,¬†to escape the heat, we hit up Ground Kontrol, which is a blast from the past type of arcade. I’m such a nerd at heart and I loved this place. We played Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-man, Raiden, The Simpsons, and the Original Super Marios brothers just to name a few. After 5 pm, this place serves alcohol so it just seems like a good time all around. $5 and an hour

The Simpsons at Ground Kontrol
The Simpsons at Ground Kontrol

later, we were all gamed out and headed out to Southpark Seafood for their 3 Р6 pm happy hour. They have these $5 items that are simply delicious. We ordered a brick oven pepperoni pizza, which was pretty large for a happy hour item, oysters (3),

Chicken Pot Pie floater!
Chicken Pot Pie floater!

and a smoked steelhead board, which also came with some crackers and some type of pickled vegetable. I really can’t pick a favorite out of the three things we ordered because they were all really good in my book. I’d definitely recommend this place for anyone visiting. Afterwards, we just walked around a bit. Walked by a few parks, got pooped on by a bird, and decided it¬†was time to head back and wash up. After some RnR, we decided to head back out and get some dinner. I know, surprise surprise. We’re eating again. Decided on staying close to our airbnb and chose to eat at Pacific Pie Company. ¬†(The public transportation system in Portland stops running around 11 pm on a Sunday and we didn’t want to risk having to ubering or lyfting it back.) Apparently, this is the place to eat at if you want to try Australian meat pies. They have both savory and sweet pies here. I chose to get the chicken pie floater. It’s a chicken pot pie that comes afloat split pea soup. If that’s not a hearty meal, I don’t know what is.

TLDR? –¬†Highlights of my first two days:¬†

Powell’s City of Books is crazy huge and a must see if you love bookstores.

Portland Saturday Market is open both Saturdays and Sundays and is a must visit gem. Check out their $35 for $50 gift certificate on yelp!

Ground Kontrol is an 8 bit classic arcade for those who love gaming and re-visiting their childhood.

Southpark Seafood has a great happy hour and I’d definitely recommend if you’re into seafood.

I will update with my last two days soon!

Posted in Traveling Adventures

Happy, hot, and humid, oh my – my trip to Houston, Texas

Last month, I found myself traversing through the land of Texas Рmore specifically Houston, Texas. Here is the breakdown of my trip.

1 apartment.

2 couches

3 air mattresses

4 days

14 people

1 giant van

= One interesting adventure

The Weather

Texas, or at least Houston and San Antonio, from what I could see, are far from being in a drought. We were there four days and it intermittently rained all four days. It was a nice relief to actually experience rain and since it was hot, we could all still walk around in shorts and a tank top. What was not a relief was the humidity. I’m sure my skin was well moisturized those four days, but I am just not a humidity kind of girl.

The Food 

(From left to right) BBs shrimp po boy sandwich, Lambic from The Ginger Man, Won Ton Noodle soup Beef Noodle soup, dumplings (bottom right) from San Dong Noodle House, Cloud 10 Creamery, and Torchy's tacos plus queso dip
(From left to right) BBs shrimp po boy sandwich, Lambic from The Ginger Man, Won Ton Noodle soup Beef Noodle soup, dumplings (bottom right) from San Dong Noodle House, Cloud 10 Creamery, and Torchy’s tacos plus queso dip

BBQ anyone? First day we got there, we had to try some Texas BBQ. A few friends of mine had suggested places and I was in a hurry to try them all. Unfortunately, we were part of a group of 14 people and had only one van so trying to accommodate everyone was a bit interesting. We did end up getting our fill of BBQ at Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ, The County Line, and Luling City Market. Rudy’s was definitely the best for short ribs. Albiet, I could be biased as that was the first place we hit after we got off the plane and were starving, but I swear, those ribs were good. Luling City Market to me felt like a hit or miss. We ordered brisket twice and the first batch was deliciously moist and the second batch was rather dry. I would not recommend going to The County Line (San Antonio). Their food was just dry all around and we tried a lot of their food (Chicken, sausage, ribs). The one thing I would go back there for was their ice cream shakes. That bluebell ice cream, fear of listeria aside, was amazingly rich and creamy. Other places we tried? ¬†Bakkhus Taverna Greek Restaurant and Bar, Kolache Factory, BB’s, The Ginger Man, San Dong Noodle House,¬†Cloud 10 Creamery, Torchy’s Tacos¬†(Fried chicken taco and queso dip…yummm), La Paletera¬†(Ice cream on a hot day is really one of the simple pleasures in life), and Niko Niko’s Greek and American Cafe. What can I say? I love to eat.

The Entertainment

Now, onto the entertainment in Houston. I can’t just eat and sit there. Like Taylor Swift says, I gotta shake it off. On our first

Kemah Boardwalk and Rudy's Country Store and BBQ
Kemah Boardwalk and Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ

day there, we went to the Kemah Boardwalk, which is essentially your average amusement park. It has games, a ferris wheel, and food. There’s even a western jail cell to take pictures in if you want. On our second day, we made a day trip to San Antonio to visit the River Walk, which is aptly named because it is literally a walk along the river. It’s tourist central as the Alamo is a few minutes walk away. The area is very calming and there are a lot of shops and eateries along the river. On day three, we were back in Houston to see the sights. We went to visit the Williams Waterwall, which is this big giant wall with water flowing from the top of it. I know, it doesn’t sound that great, but it’s really better to see in person. It’s a very breathtaking landmark and also a very touristy thing to visit. Hermann Park was another place we visited, that was also very calming. The Miller Outdoor Theater is there and if you’re in town when there’s a play, I’d recommend dropping by. They sometimes have free plays. Rice University was probably one of the prettier places we visited. Their architecture and art installations are very beautiful. Last, but not least, how can you not visit a city and not see it’s skyline? From the Chase tower – Sky Lobby, we were able to see the Houston skyline.

James Turrel's Skyscape at Rice University
James Turrel’s Skyscape at Rice University
Williams Waterwall! I'm so tiny!
Williams Waterwall! I’m so tiny!

All in all, I had fun traveling through Houston and San Antonio. The people I traveled with, all 13 of them, were great company and if I could do it again, maybe in another less humid city and with more than one giant van, I totally would.