The verdict is in! I finally tried the two most famous fried chicken dishes in NOLA to determine which is better: Willie Mae or Dooky Chase. Which will it be?!
The last time I was in NOLA was summer 2016. I went to Dooky Chase's with my then-boyfriend from New Zealand. We gobbled down a buffet of Dooky's best, including her famous fried chicken. We loved it. But then we went to the airport later on and a fellow traveler told us Willie Mae's was better. Talk about #regrets!
So, upon arriving in New Orleans for a second time, Willie Mae's had to be on my agenda. I checked into my accommodation and I hopped in an Uber and sped over to the neighborhood of Treme. Now I can tell you which I think is the better dining experience.
I love adventurous eating and local cultural food. Hawaii has opportunities for both. Mainly, there’s a wonderful combination of both native Hawaiian foods and Asian cultural influences on Oahu. The Hawaiian food is reminiscent of some of the Polynesian dishes I had in Niue. And the Asian influences come from the large population of Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Korean people living on Oahu. I start with an in-depth description of some of the traditional Hawaiian cuisine I ate. Then I mostly list all of the other must-try foods and places to eat them.
There once was a traveler named Rikka and all she dreamed about was being in a wonderland filled with pineapples. She wished for pineapple-shaped plush toys, pineapple-landscaped fields, and pineapple-infused and -flavored everything! Then one day on her trip to Hawaii her dream came true.
I found all I had ever hoped for and more at the Dole Plantation on Oahu. Fulfilling yet another long-time fantasy, the Dole Plantation also has the world's largest maze on its property! And so, I devoted this entire post to my citrus-packed maze exploration at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii.
The Florida Keys are not very well known for their food. But I believe food is a great way to get to know the atmosphere and culture of a new place.
So this post will introduce you to Southern Florida by way of everything that went into my stomach (and more!).
At the end of 5 days in New Orleans, I felt like I had gained 100 lbs because of all of the eating we did. I regret nothing!
New Orleans is considered Americas "food city." There is literally something for everyone including some serious cultural eating you cannot get anywhere else. Yes, I'm talking about the Crescent City's famous Cajun and Creole influences.
In this post, I give a short review of all the traditional foods you cannot miss and the best places to order them. You'll also learn about the current BBQ craze and up-and-coming Vietnamese trend. Catch them both before they go out of style!
This is going to be a quick post. I've run out of time to write something more extensive this week because I just returned from my trip to New Orleans and the Florida Keys!
I had an awesome time exploring these two parts of the USA with Jono who has been visiting me from New Zealand this summer. We spent 5 nights in New Orleans and 7 nights in Southern Florida. These places were vastly different from each other and incredible in their own separate ways.
Instead of going into a deep post this week, I've decided to share with you a few of my favorite photos from these two places. I think these photos best capture both locations in their individual glory.
Non-kiwi foodies may look no further than this post for the most comprehensive guide on what to eat while in New Zealand. If you've never been to Aotearoa , the "land of the long white cloud," then you have probably never heard of the majority of the items appearing on this list.
I devoted 10 months of my travel time to living in and eating my way through New Zealand. Inevitably, I ended up sampling almost every food for which New Zealand is famous or infamous.
I still find myself day dreaming about eating some of New Zealand's foods again. This guide describes all of them.
Nashville is well-known for two things: It's music and it's food. I'm starting with the food this week since it's such an important part of every culture I've encountered in my travels.
The striking thing about eating in a new location in my own country is both the similarities and stark differences across state lines. America gets the reputation around the world for being the home of the hamburger and also for doing fried chicken and breakfast (especially pancakes!) very well. Nashville takes all of these American staples (and more) to a whole new level!
The down side to my food experience in Nashville was that I had only one weekend to enjoy it! Four days is simply not enough time to eat at all of the amazing restaurants. The following are the foods I did have time to try. At the end of this post, I'll suggest some of the others I missed!
On my last full day in Bali, I hopped on the back of a motorbike with a local who showed me the highlights of the lower Karangasem Regency. My tour guide was Han, a local who offered to take me around the region. His tour turned out to be the perfect wrap up to my time in Bali.
There really is no experience like the one you can get from a local showing you around. I got a personalized tour of the region with opportunities to learn about Indonesian culture and take in some of the sights on my own terms. Han ended up driving me to 5 separate locations, including a traditional Bali village, two water palaces, a chocolate and soap factory, and a chilled-out, sandy beach. Below, I describe my experiences visiting each of these places, but the real story to share is how wonderfully well-rounded Han had made this tour.
Many travelers visit Ubud in Bali, Indonesia because of its well-known spiritual- and health-conscious atmosphere.
I focused my time on experiencing a handful of these mind-body-spirit activities. This post describes what to expect from these experiences, why I chose to focus on them, and how you can experience each on your own!
From yoga retreats to eco-green cafes, you will not be short of rejuvenating activities during your stay in Ubud.
It's Christmas! And I'm in New York! I'm home spending the holidays with my family in upstate New York. I thought I'd share a few of our family traditions in addition to my own tradition of seeing the holiday sights around The City.
In between upstate shenanigans, I was in New York City a couple of times over the last few weeks. I got to check out Rockefeller Center, view the decorated Macy's windows, and watch people fall on their faces ice skating in Bryant Park (my favorite!). But now I'm home, baking up a cookie storm with Mom and preparing for our family tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve.
On a remote island like Niue, getting to know the locals is as easy as stepping outside your guesthouse door. A cultural exchange with a local was bound to happen—we just had no idea when or how. We met the Tongia family from nearby Tonga on our 3rd day in Niue. Palemia, a shuttle driver for Matavai resort, gave us a ride home from dinner.
He then offered Jono a chance at free diving with a local spear-fisherman. As a thanks, we offered to help him and his wife, Louna, with their farm work. We ended up planting potatoes through the middle of the night and enjoying other wonderful cultural exchanges with this delightful little Tongan family who live and work in Niue.
Warning! This post will definitely contain images and video of dead, cooked animal and the eating of said dead animal. So if that bothers you, exit now. I suppose I needed to state this warning at the start of some of my other posts, like the time I ate raw pigs blood in Thailand or the other time I tried Minke Whale in Iceland. I like to eat adventurously while I travel because I like to learn about a culture through its food.
Eating kangaroo in Australia happens to be as normal as eating venison is where I'm from in upstate New York. Kangaroos overpopulate Australian lands causing hundreds of car accidents a year just like white-tailed deer in the USA. I never ate venison back home, but this trip isn't about doing what I normally do. It's about deviating the norm.
The Ninety Mile Beach is one of the most unusual highways I’ve ever driven. At low tide it becomes a legitimate highway. It’s an alternative to state highway 1 and often a scenic route for tour buses.
But the 90 mile beach can be as dangerous as it is beautiful.
The tide can catch tourists off their guard resulting in their vehicles stuck in the sand and an unexpected overnight stay in the dunes behind the beach. Luckily, my kiwi friend, Jono, and I had deliberately worked an overnight stay into our Ninety Mile Beach plans. With plenty of fish to catch from the beach and another food source under our feet in the sand, we had all we needed to survive several days on one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and remote beaches.
Planning ahead has worked very little on my trip. Going with the flow, allowing each moment to take me in new directions has always proved to lead to the best experiences. So when Carolina told me she was going to have to fly into Christchurch instead of Queenstown, I simply shrugged my shoulders and said, “See you there!”
This change in plans took me and Birgit on another route deviation. We were at the perfect junction to turn inland from the West Coast and cross the center of the South Island back over to Christchurch. We ended up traveling along New Zealand’s Great Alpine Highway. This area of the Canterbury region was so spectacular and filled with adventures, it was worth retracing the route with Carolina a week later. From pie-eating and caving to camping and hiking, these are the highlights from my Great Alpine Highway drive.
Thinking about flying into Auckland near the top of New Zealand’s North Island? Only have a short amount of time to spend traveling New Zealand? Maybe you’re flying out of Wellington or from somewhere on the South Island and need to plan out your itinerary to get you there from Auckland. You deserve to see awesome things no matter how much or how little time you have!
Luckily, my best friend and I did all of the following (and more!) on a road trip from Auckland to Wellington in just 10 days. It’s perfect for someone looking to get a good taste of New Zealand on a time budget. Included are some tourist favorites as well as some spots requiring a bit of deviation.
We were desperate for a shower, food, and a bed. Two days of hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit meant it was time to take it easy for a few days around the North Island of New Zealand. The hour was late, but we managed to find the last restaurant open in the National Park town and sneak into a backpackers for a shower before setting up camp for another night. The next day we would check into a hostel and wash 2 days of sweaty hiking clothes in the adorable town of Turangi.
Then we’d be on our way to the West coast for a short stay before driving North toward the Corromandel, a peninsula with beautiful beaches and native bush off the north shore. Harald the German, Marek the Czech guy and I relaxed a lot, discovered the Forgotten World Highway, and made smores at our camp near Mt. Taranaki.
Some of the best experiences I have had while traveling have been the result of connecting with local people. New Zealand has been no different. Samart, whom I had met and stayed with in Chiang Mai, Thailand, connected me to Jonathan, a factory worker who fishes and free dives on the East coast of the North Island in his spare time. I had been in communication with him since I arrived in New Zealand.
Four days into Harald and I’s camping adventure, Jonathan invited us to stay with him for a night. He took us for a unique evening fishing experience, I got to try my hand at free diving in Hawke’s Bay, and then we enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch before continuing on our journey back inland.
When I visit a country, I like to open myself up to the culture through its food. If the food is served at a place locals frequent rather than a tourist trap or if the food is ordered for me by a local, I know I’m getting an authentic experience.
In past posts about my eating experiences in Portland, Iceland and Germany, I was able to name what I ate or at least describe what I ate fairly easily. The numerous, unfamiliar ingredients used in Thai cooking, the complexity of the Thai names for dishes, and the poor English translations usually meant I had no idea what I was eating half the time.
When I decided to go to Pai, I only meant to spend up to 3 days there—but I ended up spending 7 nights! The main reason I ended up staying so long was Jimmy. Jimmy is a 25 year old, Rastafarian Thai man from the southern islands. I met him on the night of the Festival of Lights in Chiang Mai and randomly bumped into him in Pai on my first night there.
Jimmy took me all over Pai on his motorbike and introduced me to his friends at Sunset bar. They all became like family to me. I had a great time with them…well, except when I tried a little snack they were eating one evening!