know before you go: Kansas City (MCI)


Oh my beloved, Kansas City.  There are positives about this airport, mainly the convenience of security and parking.  But what it has in ease, it gives up in amenities.  With a new expansion planned for the next few years to likely consolidate the terminals into one main terminal, hopefully it will get better, so that this destination gets the airport it deserves.

It’s slowly getting there because big aviation news, KC is getting their first transtlantic flight!  Icelandair is going to be flying a route from MCI to Reykjavik (KEF), which is hopefully the start of more to come.

This airport has three terminals located about 15 miles from downtown, although currently A is closed.  B houses Delta and Southwest from 20 gates. C has 22 gates serving Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Spirit, Frontier, United.  The food isn’t great here, which is a shame since KC has great food.  There is an Arthur Bryant’s in Terminal C which is probably the lone bright spot.  Pork and Pickle has decent sandwiches and BBQ in Terminal B.

Remember: ✈️ = put me out of my missouri to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = missouri loves company

Convenience to the city: ✈️ (it’s actually pretty far from downtown, but luckily traffic is never that bad)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (can be quick, each area has its own security)

Dining: ✈️✈️  (Usual fare Burger King, Quizno’s, CPK, Starbucks.  Arthur Bryant’s is the only local flavor)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (the stall doors open out, and that’s huge for luggage purposes)

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

Amenities: ✈️  (not much at all)



4 days in Bangkok


Bangkok, Oriental setting, but the city don’t know what the city is getting — Murray Head

Bangkok is an amazing city.  It’s the type of city that will pick you up, turn you upside down and shake you.  It’s crazy, exciting, fun, and always a whirlwind.  It’s very seedy and uncomfortable in parts, and yet the most luxurious high end classy experience in others.  You can’t catch your breath here, there’s always night markets or bars or beach or grand palaces to see.  Some of the world’s most opulent architecture exists smack dab in the middle of this metropolis, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.


As you drive into the city from Suvarnabhumi airport, you’ll see the skyline filled with skyscrapers.  Bangkok is a financial center for Southeast Asia, with a lot of commerce and business, despite mostly being known for having a huge tourism trade.  The Chao Praya is the large river that runs through the city, and there are any resorts and hotels dotted along the banks of this body of water.


The best thing about staying on the shores of the river is that each hotel has a water taxi that will take you to and from town.  They’re the fanciest ferries you’ll ever see.  You’ll pass lots of high rise condominium buildings and yachts, and even a giant reclining Buddha.  He is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike.


The best thing about Thailand’s busy streets is that there are open air markets on every corner, really, everywhere you turn.  Try some exotic fruits! Fresh, juicy, tropical flavors burst in your mouth, it’ll change your life and make you hate supermarkets.


There is an abundance of it, and it’s so fresh and cheap, you could make all your meals fresh fruit and no one would fault you for it.


i’ll rambutan you for it

If you’re fancy, head to the Mandarin Oriental hotel for tea.  This extravagant hotel boasts Lord Jim’s, one of Bangkok’s 4 star dining experiences.


tea at the mandarin oriental

Next door is the fabulously trendy China House, which has sleep, sexy decor and elevated new Asian cuisine.


Close to our hotel, was the Asiatique shopping center, which is a lively entertainment district at night.  Visitors like to catch shows, ride on the big wheel or dine at any of the areas many restaurants on the river.


We had a decent dinner at its al fresco Thai spot, Baan Khanitha.  When in Thailand, you must drink young coconut milk.


There’s lots to see here and it’s pretty family friendly (not so much the case for other locations in Bangkok).  This bloke allowed me to take his picture because there’s no way in hell I would let parasitic fish bite my feet after biting other people’s feet.


On your first full day in the capital city, make your way to Wat Pho, one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, thought to be from King Rama I’s reign.  Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand and there are MANY temples and shrines throughout the country.  This, however, is probably one of the most iconic.


There’s no time like now because this place is always crowded.  You will be elbow to elbow with people from all over the world, and it can be very congested at the most popular sites, so try to get there as early as possible.

You’ll pass more markets.  Don’t worry, the mangosteens and longans will still be there when you’re done.


Make your way to the reclining Buddha.  This symbolizes Buddha’s entry into nirvana and the end of reincarnation, and is therefore a popular image in Buddhism.  This particular gold-plated statue is 46 meters long, and 15 meters high.  He’s gorgeous.


maxin’ and relaxin’

Thai architecture is some of the most striking in the world.  I can’t get enough of it, I’ve spent hours looking at pictures of their tiered stupas and temples.


praise the roof

So intricate, so extraordinary.  The thought and planning that goes into every mosaic or decorative element.  It’s incredible.


Phra Ubosot is the term to designate a main hall used for Buddhist rituals.  There’s a gold Buddha that sits below a tiered umbrella, which is supposed to represent Thailand.


Wat Pho is known as the birthplace of Thai massage, an ancient practice of wellness, now popularized and practiced all over the world.  Based on pressure points, it’s like acupuncture but with direct touch.  You’re going to have to get a massage while in Thailand–literally like $10 for an hour on some of the beach towns.  It’s the best.


Another must see (there’s a lot of them) are the cloisters of Phra Rabiang.  These halls are where you can find hundreds of Buddhas all from varying time periods and regions all brought to the temple, restored and covered in gold leaf by King Rama.


On your way back to the hotel, you’ll pass many sites including the UN complex and the Royal Palace, Dusit.  Recently, Thailand’s beloved and long serving King Bhumibol passed away, so the country continues its mourning as his son is set to ascend to the throne.


The next day, visit the Grand Palace.  They’re not overstating with this name. It is a huge complex of over 2 million square feet, where the Kings of Siam held court since the 1782 until 1925, when absolute monarchy started its decline into abolishment.


Garudas are hybrid bird man creatures that represent a hybrid of Hinduism and Buddhism.  The Prius of mythical creatures, if you will.  Their brut force and violence are used in a positive way as stewards of guardianship around the country.


stupefying stupa

Again, the detail!  These patterns were all hand lain tile and glass!


Gilded thai architecture is something to behold once in your life.  Astounding.


The palace grounds also boast lovely frescoes depicting scenes from history and Thai folklore.


The hallways are filled with these images which have been immaculately restored.


Wat Phra Kaew is the temple of the Emerald Buddha.  The Buddha is wonderful, but the building its housed in, its Phra Ubosot, is something else.


Depending on the different seasons, the Emerald Buddha has different outfits.  Here he is debuting his Summer finery.


Garudas and their sworn enemy, the snake Naga adorn the exterior of the ubosot.


I just can’t.  It’s incredible craftsmanship.  I can barely tie my shoes.


I couldn’t get enough of this and could literally take pictures for days.  One of the most beautiful manmade places in the world for sure.  THE DETAIL THOUGH.

When you’re all splendored out, shock your senses in another way by fighting through throngs of people at Pratunam Market.  This is one of the cheapest places you can buy clothing and textiles.  This is where you go to buy the ubiquitous elephant pants and Chang beer t-shirts that every young tourist wears (including me, sorry not sorry, it’s hot as hell in Thailand).


Spend the afternoon exploring a different kind of manmade wonder, a shopping mall. Bangkok has a ton of gargantuan shopping centers I’ve seen.  There’s so many of them, and they’re all crowded somehow.  One of the best is Central World, conveniently located a few large city blocks from the market.


Central World has a large open air market in front of it selling stalls after stalls of glorious food.  Pad Thai, while I know is very basic and American of me, is one of my favorite dishes of all time.  I ate my weight in it while in Thailand because they have many street vendors and restaurants that serve it up like the woman below.


There’s so much food here that I almost forgot about shopping.  That’s how amazing it is. There’s something else you should try while in Thailand.  It may be the most polarizing thing in the world, with people either declaring war on it or greedily hoarding it away.  It’s the durian.  This spiky fruit is like no other, literally there is no other food that tastes like it.  It smells like hell, but it is buttery and smooth and delicious.  I’m of the unpopular opinion, but I enjoy it in small doses, like when tripping through Asia.  It is not allowed in any hotels, so don’t try to take a souvenir with you.  They’ll ban you, for real.  Worth a try though, seriously.


Tonight head to the infamous Patpong red light district of Bangkok.  It’s something worth seeing.  I’m not going to lie, some of the things I saw there grossed me out.  And it’s not like I was heading to the hidden fetish clubs or anything, but more than anything it made me feel fortunate to not have to be in certain situations in life.  There’s a lot of characters around, many that probably know better, but many that probably traveled to this part of the world for this purpose.  This is not an area recommended for kids.


It’s always struck me that Bangkok has such a lurid underbelly because traditionally, Thai people are very pious.  I guess sometimes you have to do what you have to do to survive and that’s led to somewhat of an evolution in culture.  But, as it most places in Thailand, there’s thriving night markets around the area, and there are lots of bars and pool halls that aren’t as depraved as others.

After finishing our trip throughout southeast asia, which you’ll read about someday I’m sure, we returned to Bangkok for another full day–always recommended because there’s always more to see.


Ride the skytrain to Siam Station, one of the most popular stops to get to all the malls. Siam Square not only has all of the huge shopping complexes, but also has street vendors everywhere.  On your walk from the station to Siam Center, grab some street foot.  It smells too good, will power not strong enough.


Siam Center is a huge plaza.  There’s a huge Muay Thai boxing ring in the middle of it, for some added entertainment benefit.


There’s pedestrian bridges that link the big centers, and MBK is a more understated center, but they have an international food court, and that in itself is notable.


Now, Thailand is famous for its gorgeous floating markets.  These tourist attractions hail back to the days when water commerce was a necessity of life–not so much now with your Amazons and your drones and what have you.  But these visually aesthetic markets draw in a lot of people and rightfully so.  The most famous is Damnoen Saduak which is about a 100 km journey from Bangkok and from what people tell me, it’s super touristy and expensive and crowded.  That was too far for me this time, and maybe one day I’ll see it, but there are lots of local markets in Bangkok that are more easily accessible.


Taling Chan is a floating market that’s more like floating kitchens, but the perfume of seafood grilling makes it worth visiting.


Save your appetite though because you’re heading to Or Tor Kor market, where fried delicacies can be seen to the horizon.


More pad thai!


There’s fruit too, but whatever.  Fried food!


Speaking of fried foods, just down the road is Chatuchak Market.  This maybe rivals the flea markets in Paris as my favorite outdoor market.  There’s an unending abyss of stalls selling antiques, ceramics, clothes, home goods, art, fabric, animals, food, books, you name it.  It’s like the best flea market swap meet in the world.


Chatuchak is open on the weekends and has 8,000 stalls.  The clock tower in the center of the market was built to commemorate King Bhumibol’s 60th birthday in 1987.  Use it as a meeting place because you can very easily fall down the rabbit hole of shopping and get lost.


Get a foot massage at any one of the parlors located in the market.  Your feet are going to hurt after walking around for a few hours here.  Before heading back on the skytrain, grab a McDonald’s parfait with pandan sticky rice and mango.  Love foreign McDs treats.


Siam Paragon is probably one of the nicest malls I’ve ever seen.  And I’m a bit of a mall connoisseur.  There are top brands and luxuries from all over the world.  There’s a Garrett Popcorn and Fauchon and Laduree for pete’s sake.  We can’t get a Garrett Popcorn in Los Angeles, but they’ve got one in Bangkok.


There’s also a spendy international food court, with meat on a stick, which is a great way to end this trip and any trip, really.


Actually, there’s one thing that would be even better…more durian 😉


know before you go: Toronto (YYZ)


Toronto Pearson International (YYZ) is the main airport for the largest city in Canada, Toronto.  Spacious, clean lines, easy to navigate, it gives a great first impression when you’re landing here for the first time, especially because there’s a prominent Tim Hortons on the arrivals level!

There are two terminals, 1 and 3.  Terminal 1 has 58 gates in a whopping 6 million square feet space.  That’s right, 6 million.  Great white north indeed.  This is one of the biggest buildings in the world and also nbd, but Moshe Safdie’s architecture firm had a hand in designing it.  Air Canada (hub), Emirates, and Star Alliance (including United, which was me) operate out of this terminal.

Terminal 3 operates Skyteam and Oneworld alliance flights along with Etihad and WestJet out of 48 gates.

When you’re traveling to the US, there’s separate gates/customs screening which makes the process very streamlined.  Although, I couldn’t get like three kiosks to work before finding one that functioned correctly.

Remember: ✈️ = started from the bottom ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = and now we’re here

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️ (22.5 km from downtown Toronto –traffic can be a bear; there’s also train from the airport to Union Station downtown $CAD12)

Rental Car area: ✈️✈️ (conveniently located in the parking structure across from the terminals, however when returning the car, it’s hard to tell which terminal your airline is located in because there are no signs. I fortunately guessed Terminal 1 correctly.  Moral of the story, check ahead of time to determine from which terminal you’re flying)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (there’s a super fast people mover in terminal 1, Link train connects the two terminals)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (not too crowded, flows easily)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Good variety of chains, Tim Hortons, and local chefs backed eateries.  I spent my last few loonies at Hearth by Lynn Crawford, not sure $CAD20+ for a burger was that well spent but it was decent for a well-done burger)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (very clean and spacious)

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

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (Many lounges.  Nice selection of luxury purveyors: Bally, Burberry, Gucci, Mont Blanc, Ferragamo, Longchamp, Tumi. Hudson’s Bay department store, 7-elevens, nail salons, Sheraton Hotel connected to terminal 3)

Mount Rushmore


Happy Presidents’ Day! How better than to celebrate with some founding fathers: an oldie but goodie, 36 hours in Rapid City, South Dakota.

One of the first items I ever put on my bucket list when I was a kid was Mount Rushmore.  Growing up, it was ultimate symbol of our country, even more so than the individual monuments in Washington DC.  Even now to me as an adult, after seeing it in person, it still very stirring, very American, a grand memorial to our stalwart forefathers.  It’s certainly worth seeing once in your life, it’s beautiful country out there, with wide open spaces and plains as far as one can see.

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wanderlust, the best Valentine’s lust of all

Hopefully love is in the air (or the sea or the train) or wherever you may be this St. Valentine’s.  And if not, well then you can always continue your wanderlust for travel and adventure, the best kind of lust in my opinion.

V-Day is right smack dab in the middle of the week this year, but it’s never too early to start planning a long, romantic weekend getaway for next year…maybe choose one of these sweet spots:

New Orleans. This magical city is teeming with dark mystery and romance.  How better to cuddle up on a winter’s night than to snuggle arm in arm along the gas lantern-lit cobblestone alleys whilst boozing it up and eating the most decadent food?  And extra points for it being Mardi Gras this time of year, so there’s a ton of stuff for singletons, too.


Bali.  This is a top honeymoon destination for a reason.  Secluded and sexy, there’s lush landscapes and privacy abound.  Everyone loves an island rendezvous.


New York.  If only to meet your love at the top of the Empire State Building.  Watch for traffic before you cross the street though.  (Please tell me at least someone understands this reference, the original movie, not Sleepless in Seattle–also a classic rom com).


Tokyo/Kyoto.  Lovers in Japan, indeed.  The best way to get to really know someone is to explore a foreign country with them, specifically a place where you can’t read or speak the language.  If you can get through it unscathed, then you should probably hold on to this person forever.

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Cape Town.  Overwhelming views from the top of Table Mountain and V&A Waterfront will fill your heart.  The city offers couples everything they could want, luxurious digs, celebrated wineries, horseback riding/outdoor activities, and popular open air cinemas (especially crowded on Valentine’s).

Paris.  The City of Love may be cliche, but it is that way for a reason.  It’s a city of creatives and dreamers and there’s inspiration on every block.  Everything from the food and wine, the music, the scenery and the history is seductive.  If you’re not in love, you’ll definitely feel it here.


And of course, probably the most romantic city, or rather, country is Italy.  Venice, Florence, Rome, Tuscany?  There could be nothing more charming, nothing that sets ones heart afire like an Italian escape.

And you may ask, why no pictures?  Well that’s because I’m headed back to Italy in about a week so there will be pictures to come.  Ciao bellas, that’s amore!

3 days in Capetown and Durban


South Africa is an incredible destination.  Sitting at the tip of the African continent, this country has it all in terms of terrain and landscapes.  Miles and miles of beautiful coast rivaled by the mountains and rock formations of its hinterlands.  There’s the savanna to the serengeti, plans to grassy lowlands.  There’s also, of course, a very complicated, but rich history.

From the coastal beauty of Cape Town to the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg, there is so much to see in this gorgeous country.  I’d be remiss not to mention the shanty towns that provides a stark reminder of the impoverished conditions for many people there.

Having hosted the World Cup several years ago, South Africa has been on the world stage before and hopefully will thrive from the attention, in the form of economic and touristic opportunity.   In my opinion. South Africa should be visited via tour, as there is so much to see in a finite amount of time, that you’ll want to be organized and have people who know where they’re going, as it is still a developing nation.

Out of Africa…

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know before you go: Copenhagen (CPN)


I believe that the airport is a window to a city’s soul.  Copenhagen Kastrup (CPN) matches up with its city quite well.  It’s got all sorts of expensive things in a clean, sleek design that’s easily navigable.  Honestly, it looks like a mall when you get deep into the concourse.

It is the largest airport in the Nordic region, serving as a huge hub for Northern European travel.  There are only two terminals, 2 and 3 that encompass ~ 108 gates.  It’s 5 miles away from the city center, and it’s so easy to get there by train (platform 2 if you want to go towards the city, take any gray train).  Security is very efficient and fast, and there’s a focus on self-check in which went a lot more easily than I thought it would.

The food choices are varied and feature a lot of Copenhagen favorites and chains: Joe & the Juice, Lagkagehuset, 7-11, Starbucks, Aamaan’s Smorrebords, Caviar House (!), McDonalds, Burger King.  The shopping is incredible: Hermes, Gucci, Georg Jensen, Paul Smith, Bang & Olufsen, Royal Copenhagen, Peter Beier Chocolates, Mulberry, and Burberry to name a few. And of course, since you’re in Denmark, there’s a Lego store.


Remember: ✈️ = something rotten in Denmark to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = everything is awesome!

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (5 miles to city center, so easy by trains that run very frequently to and from airport)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it’s very large, but they provide you free carts for your carry on luggage–HUGE)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (there’s a lot of self-check in kiosks to make check in go super fast; security lines are long but go quickly)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there are 3 lagkagehuset bakeries, multple 7-11s and joe & the juices, many hygge eateries)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (decently clean)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available, could have more charging areas)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (some of the best shopping both local and luxury, did I mention there’s lagekagehuset bakeries, hotel, a replica of the Little Mermaid, airline lounges, very hygge place)

3 days in Vancouver


I’ve been fortunate to travel to Vancouver, BC multiples times in my life for work; it’s one of my favorite destinations because of it’s ease and modern sensibilities.  And the food!

Sitting on the water, it’s an ideal metropolis that offers everything you could want. Spending a few days here will give you a great sampling of all this city has to offer, and it’ll make you want to come back again and again.  And you totally should…

They’re not canuckin’ around here.

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