36 hours in Detroit

IMG_5874.jpgMotown.  Motor City.  Hitsville USA.  Hockeytown.  The D.  Detroit Rock City.

If a city has that many nicknames, than there must be personality traits to match. Detroit sometimes gets a bad rep, but it’s a historically rich city with a lot of culture and pride.  It is a true, All-American City, in its industrial roots, perseverance, endurance and melting pot status.  I was only able to spend a weekend here, and honestly it wasn’t enough time to see everything I wanted to see (namely the Red Wings, Henry Ford Museum, Shatila bakery, Motown Museum, Meg White, and Ann Arbor).  More of a reason to go back one day…

detroit, you really got a hold on me*

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know before you go: Las Vegas (LAS)


McCarran International Airport (LAS) serving Las Vegas, Nevada is one of my favorite airports to fly through.  There’s a lot to do here on a layover like gamble!  I’m not sure I’ve ever flown internationally from here, but I would say I average 6-8 domestic connections per year.  It’s a huge hub to and from the west coast with 110 gates.

First of all, it’s fairly close to the strip (less than 5 miles), and it’s cool to see Las Vegas boulevard from an aerial view as you start your descent.  This part always makes me very excited.  However, because Las Vegas is hella hot, both takeoffs and landings can be very turbulent.  This part makes me hesitant.  That’s Las Vegas in a nutshell.

The worst thing about flying into Vegas is that inevitably, one of your flight attendants will call it “Lost Wages.”  This is the worst joke, it needs to be retired.  Please.

The confusing thing is that it is split into Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.   There is no Terminal 2.  Not sure if David Copperfield made it disappear or what, but it’s not there.  Terminal 1 (concourses A-D) has a lot of domestic, but not all.  Terminal 3 (also D along with E) has international and some domestic.

I love people watching here.  There’s no other airport where the arrivals and departures are so bipolar.  When people get here, they’re ready to party, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.  And then when they leave…well they look more like Conor McGregor after 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather.

The security lines are always a bit hairy, and you’ll watch the TSA video featuring celebrity impersonators/Vegas entertainers like a hundred times, but once you’re in, there’s chimes and flashing lights and all sorts of commotion from the slot machines!

They have good fast food options, it’s easy to get from one concourse to the other (although from the Southwest C gates takes half your life).   You have to take a tram from the gates to baggage, but it’s quick.  The baggage claim area is huge.  Their rideshare waiting area can be tricky to get to (have to cross the street into a parking structure whose elevator levels have the weirdest designations)–random mezzanine level, huh?). But overall, if you had to have a layover here, it wouldn’t be a complete loss (unless you do get tempted by the shiny machines with the flashing lights).

Remember: ✈️ = lost wages to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = viva, las vegas!

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (good signs, it’s a long walk)

Convenience of security lines: ✈️✈️ (get there early)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (mostly fast food, great hours, and there’s Coffee Bean and Starbucks)

Bathrooms:✈️✈️ (always crowded, need more)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available, not enough charging stations in the gate areas, but have designated areas that are always packed)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Gaming facilities.  People watching can occupy you for hours.  Only a few lounges (AmEx and United), some Xpress Spas, weird B list mall stores, no luxury purveyors because I think they want you to spend the money in their casinos instead)



24 hours in Minneapolis


In honor of the Minnesota State Fair, here’s a quick guide for the 1/2 of the Twin Cities. Recently on my way back from the east coast, I decided to take an extended layover to visit one of my friends in Minneapolis.  I’d never seen this city in the summer, only when the snow drifts were higher than my head, and I’d always heard about how beautiful the city of a thousand lakes was when the weather was more amenable.

After landing at MSP, I could see why people might say that.  The skies are terrifically blue with lush greenery everywhere and the people are all outside on their bikes, running in the streets.  Minneapolis is known as a cultural blender of a city, and it’s great to see city dwellers of all types enjoying their city.  Love is all around, no need to waste it…

you’re gonna make it after all…

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know before you go: Taipei (TPE)


The Taipei Taoyuan Airport (TPE) is one of the most popular layover spots to and from the US to any destination in Asia (serves as a hub for China and Eva Air).  It is so popular, they’re planning on adding a whole new terminal in the next few years to increase the population traveling through by about 45 million/year (that’s like 80 million total)!

I have been through this airport several times to and from Asia, and it never disappoints (even when you’ve missed your flight due to delays and have an unexpected extra night here before being re-routed through another unplanned destination before going home, oh and by the way, they’ve lost your luggage–luckily, there are loungers that are pretty comfortable to sleep in).  There’s a gym where you can shower for free, arcade games, playground areas, a library, and massage areas to pass your time.  And everything is super clean here.

However, it can be confusing to navigate for not having technically that many gates (~ 40).   First of all, it is located about 30 minutes from Taipei, so plan accordingly, as traffic can be a bear.  Once you get there, it’s pretty big for only having two terminals.  Terminal 1 has concourse A (north) and B (south).  Terminal 2 is split into concourse C (south) and D (north).  It’s a little counterintuitive.  Terminals are connected by a SkyTrain (although not the easiest to get to); concourses are connected by the main halls (immigration, passport check, etc). Lounges are on the 4th floor, the departures happen from the 3rd floor, while the arrivals are herded to the 2nd floor from the same gates.  There’s a lot of up down, down up happening in this airport. Fortunately, there are a lot of signs in both Mandarin and English, which helps a lot.

Terminal 1: Emirates, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cathay, etc (flights to most Asian countries)

Terminal 2: Delta, United, Eva, China, China Southern, China Eastern, Singapore, Japan, KLM (flights to non-Asian countries)

Once in your concourse, it gets easier.  There are a lot of restroom facilities, breast feeding rooms, cultural displays, and restaurants–mostly fast casual.

The food choices are mostly Taiwanese/Asian inspired except for standard Starbucks, McDonalds and Subway.  I had an above average Taiwanese beef noodle soup in the Terminal 2 food court.  The shopping has a lot of local Taiwanese souvenirs, teas, aboriginal gifts, but not so much in terms of luxury boutiques (for some reason I only remember Van Cleef & Arpels and Bvlgari).

The best thing about this airport are the themed gates.  Namely one…the Hello Kitty gate.  Eva Air features a Hello Kitty flight, so one of their gates is decked out in all her glory.  IMG_0602.jpg

Remember: ✈️ = goodbye, kitty to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = hello, kitty

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ leaving Taipei (the luggage carts are free), but immigration line on arrival was ✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (not bad for Asian food, not the best for variety)

Bathrooms:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (very clean facilities and a plus for availability of free shower)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (gym, arcade, cultural exhibits, Hello Kitty, airline lounges, places to sleep, however I expect more variety from duty free shopping)

3 days in Nashville


Of the places I’ve lived, I’d say Nashville was the most fun (and I grew up minutes from Disneyland).  I LOVED living in Music City and go back whenever I can.  It seems everyone else in the US has this idea, as tourism and people moving to Nashville is at an all time high.  So much so that they are undertaken a huge project to increase the size of BNA to accommodate more flights (including a new nonstop from London–watch out, Nashville, Harry Styles is coming for you).

It’s no wonder why…this is a world class destination.  There’s no way you can fit it in 3 days, but I sure as hell try when I visit.  I usually return for a concert, Bonnaroo/CMA fest, sporting event, special occasion–whatever the reason for your trip, just know that you will leave Nashville less rested, a few pounds heavier, but your soul will be more fulfilled than when you arrived.

Pack your antacids and settle in kids, this is gonna be a long one, but it should have you..

Chillin like a Nashvillain…

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Eclipse travel edition: 36 hours in Boise

IMG_2127.jpgOh boy, oh Boise.  Since many people (read: members of my family who are reading this) will be flocking to Boise this week for the total eclipse of the heart of the sun, I thought a Boise guide would be apropos.

When you think of Boise, you may think of potatoes or Boise State University, but this capital city is really trendy, with new restaurants and revitalization of its downtown core.  They don’t call it the Portland Jr. for nothing (although I think it stands on its own quite nicely).  The proximity to world class skiing doesn’t hurt either.   I was pleasantly surprised visiting Boise, it’s serene and wide open.  I’m a person who appreciates space, and “sleeper” destinations that aren’t yet overrun by tourists.

Turn around, bright eyes…or you may miss all there is to see!

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3 days in New Orleans


there is a house in new orleans, they call the rising sun

New Orleans has a certain je ne sais quoi about it.  It’s dark, seedy, mysterious, and a little bit dangerous.  And that’s the appeal, like someone you know you shouldn’t be attracted to, because with them, you might will make questionable choices.  In short, New Orleans is most relationships in your twenties, with the notable exception that you actually should keep going back.

The Crescent City has done an incredible job rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, demonstrating the irrepressible spirit of its people.  There is so much pride in the preservation of their city, their traditions, their culture and as a visitor it is so easy to be seduced by the magic that envelopes you when you arrive.

I recently had the chance to spend three days there, but that’s never enough.  The air is just different, there’s some mystical voodoo that grabs a hold of your soul and doesn’t let go.  The Big Easy, she stays with you, long after you’ve left her.  For she knows, it’s just a matter of time until the next rendezvous.

Laissez les bon temps rouler…

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know before you go: Honolulu (HNL)

A consensus amongst us when we started talking about creating this blog was that there was a lack of information about airports during layovers.  Navigating clunky, confusing, disorganized airport websites isn’t really easy to do on a phone…with limited battery power and spotty service/wifi.

Whether you’re running for your life to make that next flight or have an eternity to kill, we all need the basic 411 to help us get where we’re going.

Our rating system is subjective, but is simple:  One ✈️ = hope your layover is short or this is your final destination because there’s nothing here for you to 5 ✈️ = might as well unpack your bags because this is better than where you live currently.


Recently, I had the pleasure of having a several hour lei-over (see what I did there?) on my way to Kona, HI in what has to be one of the world’s most scenic airports: the Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport (HNL).

There are three terminals connected via outdoor walkways (could there BE a better way for Hawaii to display its temperate climate?):

Terminal 1: commuter; Terminal 2: Interisland; Terminal 3: main

The confusing thing about this airport is that they designate letters for the terminals despite also numbering them.  Terminal 3 is M for main, and Terminal 2 is Z for who knows why.  Most flights from the mainland, including mine on Hawaiian Airlines (the best domestic carrier IMO), arrive in Terminal 3.  Many of the building are really 1970s in architectural style, so you feel like you traveled into the Brady Bunch episode where Bobby finds that evil tiki idol (I think I’m aging myself here).

It’s actually a smaller airport, for being one of the most travelled in the US.  Very easy to walk from one end of the main concourse to the other.  As this is an older airport, there are not as many built in charging areas.  If you’re someone like me who is a little (read: a lot) paranoid about using third party public charging stations (rather than airport controlled), you may be in trouble.  There are random outlets throughout the gate areas, but you’ll be sitting on the floor.  There could also be more bathrooms and better signage for international travelers.


Also, for a large international layover destination, dining options are limited.  It’s mostly fast food options: Starbucks, Pinkberry, Burger King, chinese, sushi, CPK.  There is a Honolulu Cookie Company store, which I appreciate because pineapple shaped shortbreads are the world’s cutest and tastiest souvenirs.

All of this really doesn’t matter though, because the airport plays on the beauty of its locale by being half outside.  You disembark after hours of flying and the tropical humidity offers a big Aloha with a plumeria scented hug.  HNL is basic, no frills, but what are you doing sitting around an airport anyway when you could be on Waikiki throwing up a shaka on a surfboard while drinking a Mai Tai and eating a malasada?  That being said, if you have a lei-over (oops, I did it again), you’re just going to have to wait a little while longer before finding your true hau’oli.  Aloha!

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️

Convenience of security lines: ✈️✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️  (wifi not available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (cultural gardens, airline lounges, luxury duty free shopping options)


oh hi, view of diamond head from the runway, fancy meeting you here


36 hours in Cleveland


There are very few pleasures in my life akin to traveling to a new destination to see one of my favorite bands perform. This pastime has allowed me to explore cities all over the US and immerse myself amongst locals, which is truly what I love.  Wanderlust sigh.

Recently, I traveled for the first time to Lebron James’ town Cleveland, Ohio to see U2 perform on the Joshua Tree Tour.  This was my second time traveling to see U2, the only band whose music soars better in stadiums than in smaller venues, and as always it was resplendent.  I have climbed highest mountains, I have run through the fields, only to be with them (sic).  Who better to spend a Cleveland summer night with, than ~70,000 locals?  It was a beautiful day…sorry not sorry.

Even though I only had a limited amount of time, I still managed to pack in a ton of sites and eats while discovering that there is so much more to see.  Believeland delivered like Lebron on an alley-oop from Kevin Love.  Guess I’ll just have to come back when NBA season starts up again because…

Cleveland rocks.

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3 Days in Kansas City


Kansas City is underrated.  You will hear me say this over and over again, but it’s true.  There is literally something there for everyone, for all budgets and tastes.  It has Midwestern values combined with a sophisticated art and dining scene comparable to any of its urban counterparts, but psst…it’s more affordable.  I used to tell people back in California that KC is a sleeper city (I’ve heard the term flyover country more times than I care for), but the secret’s out.  KC is having a real moment right now.  After the MLB All Star game in 2012 and the Royals winning the World Series in 2015, people have started to take notice of this city as a travel destination.

I lived in the heart of America for eleven years, so when I visit, I try to hit all of my favorite spots in 2-3 days.  This is a tall order because there’s so much to eat do! Of course, this itinerary assumes that you’re not coming for a specific concert or sporting event.  I could write a thousand posts about that (and maybe I will), but for now here’s my way to spend 3 days in Kansas City, MO (with a cameo from Kansas City, KS, too).

Click those red heels like Dorothy, because there’s no place like home…

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