Viewing entries in
Local Culture

10 Things to Explore in Willemstad, Curaçao

10 Things to Explore in Willemstad, Curaçao

When I visit new places, I rarely spend a lot of time in the main tourist areas. But the Otrobanda, Punda, and Pietermaai districts of Curaçao's capitol were unique and rich with history, art, culture, food, and fun. I am glad I spent time in this area both during the day and at night to discover the atmosphere in both settings.

I got stuck on a floating bridge, found a secret beach, uncovered unique historic landmarks, and posed with lots of street art. Everything I did I could easily experience in one full day of exploring Willemstad!

11 Things To Do In Cape Town, South Africa

11 Things To Do In Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. There is a ton of history and culture to explore and lots of adventures that will give you some epic coastal city views.

In this post, I share 11 highlights or things I experienced in Cape Town and the nearby areas. Perhaps this will inspire you to visit or revisit to see and do some of the things I did!

Exploring Simon's Town, South Africa: Penguins, Art, and History

Exploring Simon's Town, South Africa: Penguins, Art, and History

I am a lover of the sea. Between exploring the Namibian desert and touring the South African bush, I was feeling landlocked! Luckily, Simon's Town is a quiet, coastal neighborhood on the cape peninsula of South Africa. Famous for its views of False Bay, Simon's Town offers the "closest encounter with penguins in the world."

I flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town late in the evening of June 9th. I was coming directly off of a 5-day safari tour, ready for the final 4 days of my trip to Africa.

It was a rainy day my first day in Simon's Town. I was there to SCUBA dive but I had to wait for better conditions. Instead, I made the most of my first day there exploring this little seaside village.

One Night in Johannesburg: Staying Safe

One Night in Johannesburg: Staying Safe

Johannesburg, South Africa is often talked about as a pretty unsafe city for travelers. The most common crimes are petty, such as having valuables stolen from your person or your car. But that's the kind of hassle you don't want when you're having a good time on your trip.

Most places in the world are safer than you assume. But realistically, some places are going to be less safe than others. When the facts point to unsafe conditions where you're traveling, you don't necessarily need to avoid the place entirely. You just need to enact some precautions based on local recommendations.

In this post, I describe one night I spent in Johannesburg and my tips for staying safe. I only had to make small edits to my behavior. I chose to stay in a better neighborhood, I walked around with a friend, and I didn't carry my phone with me at night.

The result was an easy going night of listening to local music with a new friend. No issues. No sweat!

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Live in Pretoria, South Africa [Video]

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Live in Pretoria, South Africa [Video]

On June 2, 2018, I had the privilege of going to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria. My friend Puleng got us front row tickets so I could witness their greatness up close!

If you don’t know Ladysmith Black Mambazo, you’re about to fall in love! A little background on them - Joseph Shabalala formed the Grammy award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the 1960s. The name comes from several aspects of Joseph’s life. “Ladysmith” is the name of his hometown in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. “Black” refers to the oxen, a farm animal he grew up admiring as a young boy. The Zulu word for chopping axe is “Mambazo” which is a metaphor for the group’s strong vocals which cleared the road to their success.

And they’ve been so successful, involving sons and cousins and friends in the group over the years. Their traditional musical style is derived from “isicathamiya.” This music developed among black mine workers who sang to entertain themselves while in poor working conditions away from their families and homes. The group is most famous for their album, Shaka Zulu, which was produced by Paul Simon. Nelson Mandela invited them to Norway when he accepted a Nobel Peace Prize and then they sang at Mandela’s presidential inauguration. Indeed, the concert was titled the Mandela Celebration, to honor his legacy.

In this post, I share video I took from the concert with full songs recorded live, including “Thalaza,” “Lelilungelo Nge,” “Homeless,” and my personal favorite “Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain.” Enjoy!

Visiting My Friend in Pretoria, South Africa

Visiting My Friend in Pretoria, South Africa

I am so grateful and privileged to have friends who live all over the world. This not only grants me the opportunity to stay with these friends and minimize travel costs. I also have a built in buddy, whom I share a true bond and connection to, to spend time with and explore a new place.

Puleng, my friend from graduate school, is South African. She was generous enough to show me around her town, which also happens to be the capitol city of South Africa.

I spent two nights with Puleng in which she gave me a specialized, personalized tour. We went to her friend's book reading at African Flavour in Johannesburg. We attended a rare Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert at the South African State Theatre. And we discussed politics and learned about apartheid at the Union Buildings and Freedom Park. Read about these highlights and more in this post!

Willie Mae vs Dooky Chase: The Fried Chicken Verdict! (NOLA)

Willie Mae vs Dooky Chase: The Fried Chicken Verdict! (NOLA)

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.

NOLA Nightlife Deviance: Gay Bars, Burlesque, and Horse Poop!

NOLA Nightlife Deviance: Gay Bars, Burlesque, and Horse Poop!

I love myself a little deviance. I mean, where do you think this blog title came from, really? New Orleans is definitely not in short supply of queer, sexy, nighttime fun! And so I'm going to bring you the sampling I tasted back in November.

I had one night during my work trip to New Orleans to experience the nightlife. The other nights I had to behave. A bender on bourbon street would not have boded well for my conference presentations the next day. So I was very happy to have Saturday night to get a little wild with my bestie, Erin!

Our night included tons of queer, sexy, funny entertainment—and also some horse poop. Allow me to explain.

City Park in New Orleans: Sculptures, Nature, & Lights

City Park in New Orleans: Sculptures, Nature, & Lights

The last time I visited New Orleans was in July. I didn't make it to NOLA's City Park then because July happened to be the worst month of the year to visit NOLA. It was so hot.

November in NOLA was a totally different story. It was not only the perfect weather, the city was also buzzing with the upcoming holiday season. So I saw all the exciting lights being strung and holiday decorations going up everywhere—including in the park.

The comfortable temperature and holiday atmosphere are why visiting NOLA's City Park in November was such a great experience. It was so great I had to write this post all about it! As always, I have lots of photos to share, including beautiful art, nature, and a surprise holiday lights display!

13 To-Do's in Montreal On A Summer Day

13 To-Do's in Montreal On A Summer Day

In August this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Montreal for 2 nights. It was going to be a short stay, but I wanted to make the most of it.

I was traveling with my new partner, Ang. She was presenting at a conference, and I joined for some fun! I have been to Canada before—to Toronto and Bromont. But Montreal is a city I have been wanting to visit since I took French in high school. So this trip was 15+ years in the making! It also marked the first time I had been out of the USA since my round-the-world trip!

Summers in Montreal are full of art, music, and outdoor fun. I experienced everything I describe in this post over 2 days. But you can easily see and do it all in 24 hours.

The Native American Peoples of Arizona

The Native American Peoples of Arizona

I spent July 4th, my last night in the southwest, in Flagstaff, Arizona. That night, I celebrated America's independence with my couchsurf host, Jeremy. Before my flight the next day, I made sure to pay my respects to the indigenous peoples of the region.

Before America became an independent nation, native tribes and cultures were involuntarily eliminated. We often forget this.

So, in this post, I touch on information about Arizona's native peoples. I visited some of the Hopi ancestors' preserved sites near Flagstaff. I also experienced the Diné (Navajo) peoples' modern presence throughout my stay in Arizona.

The Jones Beach Air Show on Long Island, New York

The Jones Beach Air Show on Long Island, New York

The Jones Beach Air Show (aka Bethpage Air Show) is coming up this Memorial Day weekend. On May 27th and 28th, military aircrafts, civilian jet teams, and aerobatic pilots will take to the skies on Long Island's south shore.

I moved an hour east of New York City for a new job last year. Since then, I've been living about 20 minutes away from Jones Beach on Long Island. The Air Show was my first major introduction to my new location. And it was quite the spectacle.

This post marks my 1 year anniversary since landing my first "real" post-graduate job. This post also marks 1 year since living solo for the first time. I've been loving every minute of my new life! So it's about time I take a break from writing about Hawaii to introduce a local highlight.

Honolulu Women's March: Aloha for All

Honolulu Women's March: Aloha for All

A few weeks ago, I visited the island of Oahu in Hawaii while a transition of power took place back on the mainland. Former President Obama gave way to the Trump administration. On the day that followed, over 2.5 million people marched for women's rights, human rights, and more across the world.

I marched with Hawaii.

In the middle of my vacation, I drove to Hawaii's state capitol to join over 8,000 others marching. The woman who created the original Facebook invite calling for a march after the election back in November is from Hawaii. So I felt being present at this particular march, the birthplace of the idea, was extra special.

Below, I share photos and video from the march and the rally afterwards which included messages unique to Hawaii and its culture. I also share my perspective as a world traveler participating in this worldwide protest that united cities and even some political opponents.

What Food is Typical to the Florida Keys (Southern Florida)?

What Food is Typical to the Florida Keys (Southern Florida)?

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!).

Ghost Tour in New Orleans: Murders, Hauntings, and Swamp Monsters

Ghost Tour in New Orleans: Murders, Hauntings, and Swamp Monsters

Last week, I shared stories from a cemetery tour of New Orleans about its burial processes, dead bodies, tombs, and vandalism. In this post, I share more unsettling stories from a ghost tour I took through the French Quarter.

When I was little, I loved to read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark illustrated with those horrific drawings by Stephen Gammell. Today, I love to watch thriller movies, dress up for Halloween, and learn every story I can about the supernatural, even though I don't actually believe a word of it.

If you enjoy this stuff, too, then you'll love this post even more than the last! I include lots of in-depth stories and lore about murders, hauntings, suicides, and monsters, so you'll get your fill of everything from real-life horrors to silly (but eerie) myths.

Cemetery Tour in New Orleans: The City of the Dead

Cemetery Tour in New Orleans: The City of the Dead

The summer is officially over, the leaves are starting to fall, and all my favorite kitschy Halloween stuff is showing up in stores. This is, hands down, my favorite time of year to be in the United States.

In New Orleans this past summer, I went on a free cemetery tour and a free ghost tour where I learned historical and present day tales of the dead and other spooky happenings. What I learned easily qualifies New Orleans as one of the creepiest cities in the country!

With October only a few days away, I am excited to finally share the chilling history of New Orleans in two installments. In this post, I share what I learned from my tour of the city's oldest cemetery.

10 Must Do's in New York City for First-Time Visitors

10 Must Do's in New York City for First-Time Visitors

I'm taking a break this week from my New Orleans posts to share a bit about my home city!

While Jono was visiting me for 5 weeks this past summer, I took him on a tour of New York City. Although we did not get to do everything we wanted to, what we did do represents a really good outline of "must-do's" for first-time visitors to the Big Apple.

Lists like these have been done before. But what mine includes is a lot of insider tips you won't get elsewhere.

I discuss some of the most typical experiences you should try to have while in New York with tidbits on the best way to do it. These are experiences only a life-long New Yorker comes to know how to navigate—but now you'll know it, too!

7 Symbols of New Orleans

7 Symbols of New Orleans

It's been almost 2 months since I visited New Orleans and I can still feel it. That city had such a lasting impression on me, it's as if the symbolic elements of the city left a permanent imprint on my mind.

When I think of New Orleans, there are several iconic features that stand out to me.

If I had to paint a picture representing the Big Easy for you, it would not be complete without the following.

12 Foods You Must Try in New Orleans

12 Foods You Must Try in New Orleans

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!

5 Neighborhoods of New Orleans: View From the Streets

5 Neighborhoods of New Orleans: View From the Streets

This is an introduction to New Orleans from the perspective I saw it: From the streets!

Aptly named the Big Easy, I comfortably explored the majority of downtown New Orleans by foot and street car last month. Jono and I were staying in an Airbnb that put us right at the cross section of several different neighborhoods within walking distance of the famous and lively French Quarter district.

Historic black culture, hurricane damage, enormous mansions, blaring brass instruments, drunken tourists and beignets—each of these characteristics define at least one of five neighborhoods in New Orleans.