Falling in love with New Orleans

New Orleans was not originally on our route but after hearing about how amazing this city is, we decided to change our plans completely and made sure to include it. We spent 2 nights in New Orleans at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. The hotel was perfectly located right next to the famous Bourbon Street. It is an unforgettable boutique hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter. This historic French Quarter Hotel features buildings that date back to the early nineteenth century.

Exploring the city

We had one full day to visit all the sites this city has to offer. One day was definitely not enough but we made sure to see as much as we could. We decided to use the Hop On Hop Off Bus to get around the city but before boarding the bus we joined famous New Orleans Tour Guide, Ernie, on the St Louis Cemetery No. 1 tour. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city’s older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788.

Famous New Orleanians buried in St. Louis No. 1 include Etienne de Boré, wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans; Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights; and Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans. The renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is believed to be interred in the Glapion family crypt. Delphine LaLaurie, the notoriously cruel slave owner, is also believed to lie in rest here. What is more fascinating is that in 2010, actor Nicolas Cage (who is very much alive) purchased a pyramid shaped tomb to be his future final resting place.

It is not the tour company that makes the difference, it is the tour guide. If you want to guarantee quality, you need to know your tour guide. Ernie conducts cemetery, history, voodoo and ghost tours. He is especially passionate about the cemetery and history tours. If you want to hear fantastic and important stories about New Orleans history, then Ernie’s Tours is perfect for you.

Using the Hop On Hop Off Bus, we visited many parts of the city. New Orleans has so much to offer. We spent the afternoon at the French Market which is located in the French Quarter. From the perfect meal to countless market stalls, the French Market has it all. We explored some of the oldest neighborhoods and drove past houses that were so huge, it warranted its own block!

As the sun went down, the night was coming alive. We were so lucky to be staying only a stones throw away from Bourbon Street. We spent the night walking up and down Bourbon Street just taking it all in. The atmosphere was incredible and the sound of music and smell of Cajun cuisine filled the streets. We ended off the night watching an incredible Jazz band and just enjoyed the nightlife in Bourbon Street. I have officially fallen in love with New Orleans! It oozes culture, history and amazing people!

Next stop… Dallas

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Welcome to Nashville, Tennessee – the home of country music

When I think of country music I think of my favourite artists such as Billy Ray Cyrus, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Yes! I think they are awesome! Achy Breaky Heart was my all time favourite childhood song. Visiting Nashville was incredible, everywhere you turned there was something promoting Country Music.


We were staying at Hotel Preston which is a beautiful hotel located downtown. Our room was so spacious. We checked in and immediately went into the city for dinner.


If you love food and cooking shows then the name Maneet Chauhan would be familiar to you. She is a celebrity chef and recently opened the Chauhan Ale and Masala House in Nashville. I’ve been following her journey for a while and knew we had to eat there! Chauhan Ale & Masala House is devoted to creating a unique dining experience in the bustling food scene in Nashville, TN, and to being recognized across the country as an industry leader in Indian cuisine.

I had the Lamb Vindaloo and Jacques had the Lamb Tikka Masala. My meal was accompanied by Dhal and Calabash. The fusion of spices left me completely speechless, her food is mind blowing. Being Indian myself, my standards for Indian food are very high. But Maneet passed all tests and would be the biggest reason for me to visit Nashville again. The vibe in the restaurant was spectacular. 6 projectors lined the walls all projecting stunning Indian pictures. The staff were so helpful and our waiter Xavier was such a gem!

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We headed back to the hotel for some live music and watched as so many of the locals danced the night away. They were so talented and we could not bare to attempt their moves on the dance floor!

Before leaving Nashville we visited the Belle Meade Plantation. All our attractions were complimentary courtesy of the Visitors Center. I love history so visiting the Belle Meade Plantation was an incredible experience. The land known today as Belle Meade, has stood witness to centuries of human history.


The mansion will blow your mind. Just walking around and exploring the rooms and imagining how people lived in the early 1800’s was fascinating. It was also a very emotional experience for me because  of the social circumstances such as slavery that also played a big role in this plantation. Coming back to the mansion; the architecture and furniture is still in its original condition. The rooms all depict a story with its individual designs.


Nashville is overall an awesome city and if you’re ever visiting or passing through, please visit the attractions Nashville has to offer.

Next stop….New Orleans

(FYI, today we drove through 4 states, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana)

What did we do in Indianapolis?

We arrived in Indianapolis late Friday night and checked into the Hilton Downtown Hotel. It was conveniently located next to some great places and there was so much to see within walking distance. Our room was incredibly spacious and featured its own lounge and work area. It was such a pity that we didn’t have more time to spend at the hotel or in Indy for that matter.


Before leaving Indianapolis yesterday morning, we visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is the home of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. We got to see some pretty awesome cars and also went onto the track for a tour. It was a surreal experience but can only imagine how incredible it is during track days and racing events.

On our way to Nashville we stopped at the National Corvette Museum. Jacques was in his complete element.

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We also drove past “The most awesome flea market in the world” in Kentucky. The market had almost everything for sale including animals, guns and used clothing. Completely random indeed!


Next stop….Nashville

Visiting Pittsburgh and The Parador Inn

We arrived in Pittsburgh early last night and headed straight to The Parador Inn, where we would be spending the night.

The Parador Inn is located in the charming North Shore area of Pittsburgh which is also in very close vicinity to Millionaires Row. The Parador Inn was once home to the Knights of Columbus.

You immediately feel like royalty once stepping into The Parador Inn. The mansion is spectacular. It’s extra large rooms, double volume ceilings and architecture will leave you stunned. The house is extremely old and having seen only 4 owners, it is still in pristine condition.

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Ed Menzer, the owner, has tastefully decorated each section of the mansion with a unique design. Having fell in love with the concept of the Caribbean on his first trip to Puerto Rico, Ed wanted to bring the concept back to Pittsburgh, Ed wanted The Parador Inn to make visitors feel as if they were in the Caribbean.

Each room is themed uniquely and we spent the night in the African Tulip. Our room was amazing! I loved all the furniture in the mansion and if I had my way I would just move in there…permanently! Or just have all the antiques shipped back to South Africa.

Ty, GM at The Parador Inn, welcomed us and showed us around. He was extremely hospitable and made us feel at home straight away. This morning Ed prepared the most amazing 3 course breakfast. Delicious home made cranberry bread, pineapple parfait and stuffed pancakes awaited us. It was absolutely scrumptious. We appreciated the hands on connection with Ty and Ed so much. It’s these personal connections that stay with you forever, it’s something you will never get from staying at chain hotels.

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Staying at The Parador Inn was an incredible experience. It is certainly unique in each way possible. If you are looking for a beautiful experience enriched with culture, history and comfort then The Parador Inn should be your first choice! Take a look at a Gallery of The Parador Inn pictures here. All pictures courtesy of The Parador Inn.


Pittsburgh is an overall stunning city. Today we visited the Andy Warhol museum before heading back on the road. Because we were guests at The Parador Inn, we were entitled to a 50% discount on the admission tickets. This 7 floor museum showcases some of Andy Warhols’ best work and artifacts from his life. It was incredible to see. He was the king of pop art and extremely talented.


We didn’t have much time to spend in Pittsburgh but we will definitely be back.

Next stop… Indianapolis

Day 3 in New York City before starting our road trip

It was our last day for sight seeing in New York before starting our road trip and we knew we had to make the most of it. Oh man oh man was it an interesting day.

We started off by catching the Subway to Times Square and walking to the Intrepid sea air & space museum. Make no mistake, it is not close so we stopped at the The Cake Boss cafe along the way for some coffee. It was exciting and overrated at the same time. Exciting because it’s Buddy’s shop but overrated because the baked goods are ridiculously overpriced (R100 for a pastry and R50 for a cupcake). For that kind of money I expected a mouth shattering experience but alas it tasted like any old fancy-ish cupcake to me. Maybe I am not the biggest food connoisseur that I thought I was but I really didn’t think it was the best cake ever!

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Visiting the Intrepid sea air & space museum

Oh my goodness was this a life altering visit or what? Firstly I have to mention that this was one of the attractions you could visit with the New York Pass and once again you can skip the lines and hit the fast track line. Exploring the ship, the aircraft and the Hubble Exhibit was something I have always wanted to do. These things fascinate us both and we throughly enjoyed it. There was so much to see and experience that you could literally just spend hours there. My highlight was definitely the Space Shuttle Pavilion which showcases the space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for the space shuttle program.

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The aircrafts on board the Intrepid is incredible and will leave you in complete awe. From the Avenger torpedo bomber, a stalwart from Intrepid’s World War II service, to the A-12 Blackbird, the formidable spy plane from the Cold War, the collection reflects some of the greatest achievements in military aviation. If I had more time I would literally detail our entire visit, step by step, it was that exciting!

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As we left the Intrepid it began snowing. Very light snow started falling but it was still snow. I secretly hoped it would increase. My fingers were crossed throughout the rest of the day!

Next stop, The American Museum of Natural History

Our next stop was The American Museum of Natural History which is also included in the New York Pass. But before we got there we created some history for ourselves.

We were catching the Subway to the museum and Jacques made it onto the train just before the doors closed and I missed it. I wasn’t too fussed and I indicated to him that I would catch the next one and meet him there. So, I caught the next one only to discover that the subway line we were waiting for was going in the completely wrong direction. And off course my phone has no signal at this point. So basically after three subway rides and finally getting some signal, we found each other.

So, let’s get back to the museum. Because we only had 2 hours to spend there, we had to race through. There are 4 floors and each floor has about 10 sections of things to see. It really was one of the most greatest things to experience. I enjoyed the fossils and the meteorites the most! The museum is packed with so many artifacts and apparently only 2% of what they own is on display. If you’re a big fan of the movie Night in the Museum, you will fall in love with this place.

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Central Park

Exiting the museum was another highlight of my day. It was snowing! I could uncross my fingers at this stage! We took a long walk through Central Park to get to 5th Avenue. The park was completely covered in snow. It was beyond beautiful and I simply could not contain myself.

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iLove Apple

The next stop was the famous Apple Store. The store is actually underground with a huge glass building with the Apple logo above the ground. We didnt purchase anything (much to my despair) but walked around for ages and just took it all in. Walking into the New York Apple store as an avid Apple fan is like heaven!

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We then caught the Subway back to Parc Hotel where we were staying and physically and mentally prepared for the long journey that awaited us. New York is amazing. I just cannot get enough of it. I felt that way about Thailand a few years ago but this city just provides another kind of high all together. iLove NYC!

What does New York City have to offer?

The last two days in New York City have been so amazing. This city is just full of life, lights and beauty. I have fallen completely in love. Some of the countries I have travelled to before have been “enough” for me. I was satisfied and knew I may not return. But New York has left the opposite effect on me, I have taken a bite out of this apple and I crave so much more!

Let’s start with day one. We met our New York Pass sponsors in Manhattan and collected our cards. Our first stop was Madame Tussauds. The lifelike wax sculptors completely blew my mind. From Kim Kardashian to Albert Einstein (not that you can put them on the same level), Madame Tussauds had it all.

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Second stop on day 2 was the Discovery Avengers exhibit. Marvel’s AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N. The Exhibition (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) is a completely immersive experience that brings visitors into the world of The AVENGERS. Visitors are granted S.H.I.E.L.D. access to the official S.T.A.T.I.O.N. headquarters and taken deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here visitors will have open access to a vast array of intelligence files, classified studies and experiments that explores the history and scientific origins of Marvel’s The Avengers. Visitors will also be given unprecedented access to some of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most highly guarded artifacts such as Captain America’s Birth Pod, the Tesseract Portal Device, Loki’s Scepter, a hermetically sealed Chitauri and more, recovered after the Battle of New York. Need I say anymore?

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Third stop was Rockefeller Center. We did so much here including the Top of the Rock observation deck.

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All of these activities were made possible with the New York Pass. The pass grants you access to over 80 New York attractions and their fast track services allows you skip the long lines and head straight to the VIP line. We were so lucky to be seeing New York through this pass. If you ever visit New York City then you will be doing yourself the biggest favour by getting a New York Pass. It will literally save you thousands of $$$!

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The Rockefeller centre is also home to NBC studios. This means all our favourite talk shows take place here. We were incredibly lucky to get tickets to Late Night with Seth Meyers and was part of the live studio audience. The guest stars at the show was Rosario Dawson, Eugenio Derbez and Sturgill Simpson. It was surreal! I still cannot believe that it happened. Make sure you watch the full episode here.

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We did so much in-between as well. In a nutshell
– shopped at H & M
– visited Nintendo World
– had dinner at Bubba Gump
– walked around Times Square

New York is buzzing with Christmas spirit and Festive Cheer. Everyone is so friendly and they really know how to take customer service to another level. The remainder of the evening was spent outside the big tree watching the music show at Saks Fifth Avenue. The beauty of this city is visible everywhere; in its architecture, the food, the people and in the air.

Stayed tuned for more details on Day 2 in the Big Apple.

The Parc Hotel – first impressions do last

We arrived at The Parc Hotel and was immediately taken aback. This newly renovated hotel is easily spotted whilst driving down College Point, it’s grey architectural design is very hard to miss.

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We checked in rather early and had to wait for our room. We did not mind at all because of how conveniently located The Parc Hotel is. There are tons of shops and restaurants located nearby. So don’t be afraid of checking in early if you have no choice. Just leave your bags with reception and head down 1 block to the Sky View Centre.

Getting back to the hotel. The Parc Hotel has an incredibly friendly and helpful team at reception. Immediately upon checking in, we were given a map of Flushing and Manhattan. We were told how to use the Subway and were given some great New York Travel books.

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Staying at The Parc Hotel

Our room is amazing! The design is so crisp, fresh and clean. We are in love with it! The bathroom is modern and features a shower and a tub which we love! The bed is extremely comfortable and feels as soft as clouds (assuming clouds are indeed soft and fluffy). We were so excited about the room and it’s’ view that we immediately had to Face Time our family in South Africa to show them how awesome this hotel is.

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The rooms have an incredible view of Flushing. It also features an iPhone docking station and a Nespresso Machine. How amazing is that?

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parc hotel flushing review new york

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Overall, our experience has been amazing. We definitely recommend visiting The Parc Hotel during your next visit to New York. It’s extremely good value for money and the main tourist attractions are only a subway ride away. Besides, Flushing has so much to offer as well.

The time has now come to rest as our jet lag has officially caught up with us! We are looking forward to breakfast at Parc Hotel tomorrow, we hear it’s Asian Inspired… nom nom!

Till tomorrow

Welcome to New York – Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of

We arrived in New York this morning at 7:30am. To my surprise the airport security was no hassle at all, actually one of the friendliest custom officials I have encountered in a while. Once we cleared passport control, we had a small waiting time for our luggage as the luggage door was frozen shut! Go figure! Nevertheless our luggage arrived and we cleared customs.

Getting out of the airport

We are staying at the beautiful Parc Hotel in Flushing. We had two options to leave the airport 1) use Uber or 2) take a cab. We decided to go with the cab and we were not disappointed. It cost us $35 (including a tip) to get to our hotel. The area is definitely very interesting. It is not Times Square but it’s incredibly enriched with culture. We had to wait a while for our room to be ready so we went exploring.

First stop was Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. 6 donuts = $3.99 and 2 large coffees = $4.50, not bad at all! The rest of the morning was spent wandering through the aisles of Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond and Marshalls. I literally could not contain myself and I swear I was having heart palpitations.

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Everything is on sale and everything is cheap. Wait! Did I mention that everything is stunning?! I could not get over the selection of items for sale. The thing that blew my mind the most was the baby clothes. It’s no secret I want kids soon, so not knowing what sex my kid would be was incredibly disappointing. I swear I could have bought every baby goodie in Target! But, alas, I held back and spoilt Jacques a little. We picked up two graphic Star Wars t shirts for $20! Bargain! Talking about Star Wars, check out these amazing Christmas Tree Decor.

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The selection of food was fascinating and so tempting. The selection of things to munch on would make your jaw drop and stomach grumble with greediness. If you are planning on giving up sugar, please do it after coming to USA.

 

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5 hours in USA and I am already certain that I will be coming back…many many times. Each time with higher credit card limit!

Meet the team behind Albuquerque’s Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria

Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria is Albuquerque’s first and only certifiably authentic, hand-crafted, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria is owned and operated by Gabriel and Kimberly Amador. It’s a family restaurant that is certifiably, authentic Neapolitan — the only hand-made, hand-stretched, Neapolitan pizzeria in the state.

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About Amore

“The idea was born of a chance meeting in 1999, between a Navy girl from Kansas and a guy from Seattle at a party on Pinetamare Beach in Naples, Italy,” Gabriel explains.  “As we fell in love, married, and started our family, Kimberly and I realized the romance and passion of Naples had to play a part in our dream of building something together as a family.” Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria is a combination of many things we love: a hand-made, healthier style of pizza, Naples, family and our pride in all things local.”

The Amadors are trained, certified and mentored by Roberto Caporuscio, Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani President. APN certification is the highest certification for pizza chefs in Italy, and is only obtained in Naples, Italy or New York City. Gabriel and Kimberly traveled to NYC to work and train with the star chef at both of his establishments:Keste Pizza & Vino, and Don Antonio by Starita, respectively rated number 1 and 2 best NYC pizzerias by Zagats.

The Team

Gabriel Amador Gabriel Amador, A guy from Seattle.APN certified. Pizza chef. Daily operations. Kimberly AmadorKimberly Amador, A Navy girl from Kansas.APN certified. Pizza chef. Supplies.

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Some of the things to do in Flagstaff

We decided to visit Flagstaff during this road trip because of its close proximity to the Grand Canyon. The only item on our Flagstaff itinerary was the Canyon and the surrounding park. After such great discussions with the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau, I was introduced to so much more! These are just of the attractions we will be visiting during our stay in Flagstaff.

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Explore Historic Downtown

Explore historic downtown Flagstaff, which offers unique shopping opportunities, restaurants, art galleries, Native American culture, jewelry, one-of-a-kind gifts and more – perfect for those looking for the spirit of Flagstaff.

Museum of Northern Arizona Tour – Open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Museum of Northern Arizona is one of the great regional museums of our world. It is Flagstaff’s premier museum to learn about Native cultures, tribal lifeways, natural sciences and arts from the Colorado Plateau region. See over 5 million artifacts in the museum’s anthropology, biology, fine art and geology collections. www.musnaz.org

Lowell Observatory  – This could be an evening/after dark activity

Near downtown Flagstaff, Lowell Observatory welcomes visitors of all ages to explore the modern visitor center, hands-on exhibits, and scenic campus. Tours and programs are offered throughout the year. The planet Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory in 1930. Lowell’s century-old Clark telescope is housed in a historic wooden dome, where night-sky viewing is offered much of the year. www.lowell.edu

Museum Club in Flagstaff also known as “The Zoo” – This could be a late evening activity, since the bands usually start around 9 p.m.

The Museum Club, a Route 66 icon in Flagstaff, Arizona, began its life as the boyhood dream of taxidermist Dean Eldredge in 1931. Dean began his taxidermy business in 1918. In the early 1930s Eldredge saw an opportunity when he purchased a piece of federal land, three miles east of Flagstaff on Route 66. Soon, he hired unemployed lumberjacks to cut trees, haul them to his property and built what he touted as “the biggest log cabin in Arizona.”  It was a showplace for his lifetime collection of stuffed animals, six-legged sheep, Winchester rifles, Indian artifacts, two-headed calves, and more than 30,000 other items. Operating as a museum, taxidermist shop, and a trading post, scores of Route 66 travelers stopped in to visit Dean and his collection during the five years that he operated the museum. Before long, locals dubbed the museum “The Zoo,” a name that has stuck with the building to this day. Today it operates as a bar/nightclub and it is host to some of the best live entertainment in all of Arizona.  www.themuseumclub.com