laissez les bon temps rouler

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

Well now that the Super Bowl has been won by Kansas City (GO CHIEFS), we can all move on with our lives, and move onto the next party. This is Mardi Gras of course!

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is February 25 this year.  This is the Carnival celebration that starts after Three Kings Day and ends the day before Ash Wednesday.  For us non-Christians, this day refers to eating rich, fatty foods before Lent fasting begins.  No one throws a party like the Crescent City, and this bonanza of a holiday is the grandest boum of them all.  No one throws a soiree like New Orleans.

Laissez les bon temps rouler…

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j’taime quebéc cité

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Well, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and what could be a more romantic gesture than stealing away to the most European city in the North America?  It’s moody, dark and sexy.  And yes, it’s in Canada.  Quebéc City, the government seat of Québec, Canada, is a jewel upon a hill, its stately skyline looking out over the Saint Lawrence river.  It’s as close to being in a French village as you could possibly get, yet still retains its own Canadian charm.

poutine on the ritz

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clearly canadian: saint john

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I just realized as I am typing this that I went to two places called Saint John last year.  One in the Caribbean and one in Canada.  There’s a lot of places named after St. John the Baptist, a Jewish preacher, who was considered the forerunner to Jesus, as it is believed that he baptized Jesus.  I also did not know that.  You learn something new everyday.  You’ll actually learn a ton when you visit this bayside beauty because this is a city of museums, and I love a city of museums.

Saint John is a city on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, and it is one of the oldest settlements in Canada.  A huge port city, it is also home to one of the foremost natural wonders of the world, reversing falls.  Everyone knows that rivers run to the sea right? Well sometimes they don’t, like in this case, the bay of Fundy waters flow backwards.

Sunday Fundy

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super bowl vice city

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south beach bringing the heat

I had every intention of writing a new blog post on Sunday to post today.  That did not happen as I spent the day devastated over the news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.   Kobe was one of my childhood idols, as a kid who grew up in Southern California, he was everything.  The greatest Laker to have ever played.  An icon who was more magic than Magic even.  Kobe Shaq early 2000s was the most dominating Little Big duo of all time, and I’ve had many great memories watching those games and championships.

We broke down all the games, bought the jerseys, reveled in the parades.  I always imagined Kobe as an elder NBA statesman, ushering in young talent of the league, he had seemed untouchable and invincible.  And the unexpectedness is maybe what hurts most, because he had so much ahead of him.  His daughter and the other victims as well.  It’s senseless, it’s so sad and it hurts.  RIP Kobe.

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Based on Kobe’s philosophy, the Mamba Mentality, he would’ve probably said well, life goes on, let’s get to the next stage.  And that stage happens this weekend in Miami at Super Bowl LIV.  And perhaps that’s what we should do, LIV it up because tomorrow is certainly not guaranteed for any of us.

Welcome to Miami…

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happy lunar new year: year of mouse

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The Lunar New Year celebration is based on the celestial calendar that is used by several Asian nations (namely China, Vietnam, Korea).  Each cycle of roughly 12 months is represented by one of 12 animals in the zodiac: rat, ox/water buffalo, tiger, rabbit (or cat in Vietnam), dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

This year is my year, the year of the rat.  I share this distinction with noted creator William Shakespeare and fearless leader George Washington, you may have heard of them.   Folklore tales abound, but there’s thought that the rat was the first to show up to a council of animals that was called forth by the Jade Emperor (after sabotaging the cat and the ox, those cunning little rats), or that the rat won a competition set forth by this leader (also by screwing over the cat by not informing it of the time of the competition).  Whatever the case, the rat is the first animal of the zodiac and is thought to be very clever and observant (and clearly you should watch your back around them).

If you haven’t already bought your ticket to head to Asia for this celebration, which falls on January 25, this year, then you’re probably a little late.  So how better than to celebrate it stateside by going to Disneyland?  One of the most notable festivals dedicated to this holiday happens to be at the Disney Parks.

It’s a big party this year as Disney has taken the liberty to denote this the year of the mouse (that Mickey loves to appropriate things to his benefit, doesn’t he? But, also see the Mickey x Gucci collab because it’s fire).  They did a great job though, as the California Adventure park in Anaheim and the Epcot China Pavilion at Disney World have a ton of pageantry and specialty merch all set up to welcome the new year.

Chuc mung nam moi!

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a tale of two afc championship cities

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What do Kansas City & Nashville have in common? Well, they are both cities in which I have lived, and they’re also home to the two teams that will face off in the AFC Championship game this weekend.  It’s very exciting (read: EXCITING OMG HOLY S).  I, of course, am rooting for the Chiefs, as I have been to far more Chiefs games than Titans games, but it would soften the blow of defeat if the Titans pulled off the upset.

I’ve written extensively about these two cities, KC here, here and, here and Nashville here and here (try to visit them in alternating years), and seriously, if you haven’t visited them, where have you been?  Both cities top travel lists of great American destinations, so what are you waiting for?

Chiefs x Titans, a battle for the ages, and a battle for my heart.

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the maine event: portland

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Happy New Year!  I did not get to post last week because I was out of the country and I definitely locked myself out of the account because of deleting cookies and not trusting public wifi (travel tip: you shouldn’t).  But I’m back and ready to go!  I’m not a big resolutions person (other than drink more water which never happens, coffee is just so much better), but my goals always involve wanting to travel to new places.  I have a few places and experiences on the horizon for 2020, and hopefully you do, too!

And at least I’m one state closer to reaching my 50 states visited now that I’ve been to beautiful Maine.  I was able to road trip from Boston and enjoy a crisp, autumn day with the wind whipping my hair, pretending that I was in a moody novel from the 1800s.

maine line some lobsters with me…

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Happy Holidays!

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Xmas cheer at DFW

‘Tis the season, hope your holiday travels are going off without a hitch (although by the looks of the weather patterns across the US, eesh probably not).  By now, the holiday travel season is in full swing — I’ve already survived two trips to airports in the past few days, mainly by helping myself to many Diet Cokes from the airport lounges.

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the least wonderful travel time of the year at LAX

It’s always a test of patience this time of year, but lines and delays keep you humble and it’s not the airline worker’s fault.  Remember to Airborne, always use sanitizer and that the headrests and tray tables are not typically cleaned well during the turnaround.

This year was the year of the Cs, commencing with Cuba and the Caribbean:

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havana ooh na na

coupled with a Canadian autumn…

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and culminating in another trip to the Caribbean.

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virgin islands national park might be the low-key frontrunner for beautiful parks

Somehow I also fit in quick trips to Las Vegas, KC, Nashville and Indianapolis.

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I added Maine to my states visited list (3 left!)…

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he’s my lobster

and finally broke my Disney moratorium, traveling to a galaxy, far, far away.

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And the best was that I got to see so many friends when they came through my town! I wish I had traveled more this year (I traveled plenty, but I’m greedy), but I do have “a job,” and someone has to “pay the bills.”  Good thing I’ve already planned out a couple of trips already so it should be a full 2020 (will be full of P’s, both literally and hopefully figuratively).

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season, and a happy New Year!

 

 

 

know before you go: Chinggis Khaan (ULN)

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You read that right.  Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia, has an airport named after one of the most famous pillagers of all time, their native son, Chinggis (Genghis) Khaan.  I mean, pretty cool name for an airport, and was so named in 2005 to celebrate the 800th (!) anniversary of Mongolia being an independent state.  Currently, there are around 3 million people in the country, with ~1.5 million of them in Ulaanbaatar.  Many Mongolians are still nomadic, traveling around the country in their gers (yurts), but I have to imagine that most that are on the grid use this airport for travel.

I can’t take sole credit for this one, this is courtesy of my parents, as I have not yet made it to the ends of the Earth..one day.  Apple does not fall far from the tree.

This is a small airport, serving mostly domestic flights throughout the country (Aero Mongolia, Hunnu Airlines), however there of course, are many flights from Asian countries such as South Korea and China, as well as European cities like Moscow and Berlin.  Mongolia has only really been open to foreign tourism for the past few years, so its airport system is still developing.  It’s a little bittersweet because this old airport is being replaced with a new more international friendly airport in the next few months.

There is one terminal with two levels.  Arrivals level one, departures second floor.  It’s located about 11 miles from the city center, and you can access easiest by car/taxi.

Remember ✈️ khan it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ hun-ny I’m home

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (bus, taxi — there can be dense traffic around the airport)

Security/immigration:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (typically not too bad as there aren’t usually tons of flights coming and going at the same time)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (just one small building)

Dining: ✈️✈️ (cafe, noodle shop, just enough to get by)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (a lot of bathrooms for departure level, only 2 for arrivals, I guess they assume you’re go when you get to where you’re going)

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

Amenities: ✈️ (one first class lounge, duty free shop/convenience store)

know before you go: kansai (kix)

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The best thing about this airport may be its code: KIX.  Like the wholly underrated cereal.

Kansai is the airport that serves Osaka, Japan and is located on its own artificial island in the bay of Osaka.  It is made up of Terminals 1 (main) and 2 (domestic low cost carriers), which are not connected, but have shuttle service between them.   Kansai is designated as the longest airport terminal in the world at 1.1 miles in length.  This is why there’s a people mover.

As this airport is in the middle of the water, railways connect it to the mainland, and a ferry service can transfer you to Kobe airport.  That does however make it a potential target for tsunamis, such as Jebi 2018 which halted operations for several days.

Remember ✈️ kant-sai  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ pumped up kix

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (bus, car, etc.  there’s an efficient railway, duh it’s japan, but it is on an island, so…you have to plan ahead for travel time.  There’s a high speed ferry to KOBE airport as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (terminal one has a people mover)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (What are you even doing if you’re not loading up on musubis for your trip?  Have curry, udon, even okonomiyaki before you board.  And yes, there’s Starbucks, McDonald’s and Burger King if you must)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (japanese toilets are the best)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, business oriented so plenty of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (japanese airports have the best shopping.  Aside from luxury brands like Rolex, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, you have japanese craft markets, dollar stores like Daiso and even a Pokemon store.  There’s Korean, JAL, ANA, Royal Orchid lounges, business centers, and an airport hotel as well.)