NOLA for our Mini Honeymoon

We drove down to New Orleans Friday to get away for a weekend. We stayed at an Airbnb located northeast of the French Quarter, which was perfect because it was a quick walk to Bourbon Street. We arrived around 3 PM. We settled in, then headed over to the French Quarter. We ate 2 dozen oysters at Felix’s, which were divine! I got oysters Bienville and Laura got char grilled oysters, her favorite.

Later that evening, we walked over to GW Fins as it looked like a great restaurant to try. We sat at the bar as we usually do and met a really friendly couple Jeff and Tori. Laura ordered the Neyers Chardonnay (2021), which was really tasty.

They adopted us and bought a couple rounds in celebration of our wedding. We ordered the swordfish, lobster ravioli and the BBQ shrimp, which were all delicious. Jeff and Tori insisted on taking us to see a funk band called Flow Tribe at Tipitina’s. We took a Lyft with swerving Irvin who was a hoot! There was a lot of dancing in the car.  Had a drink at the venue then the couple disappeared. We got home at 2 AM. 

Sat morning we woke up at 8:30 or so and walked to get beignets at Café Beignet. Delicious, though they were not as puffy as they usually are. Maybe we got a bad batch. We also split a boudin omelet, which was so good, especially after a night of drinking.

We walked over to the Museum of Death, which was interesting, though morose and underwhelming. We drove over to three thrift stores, all of which didn’t have anything Laura wanted. Lunch at Lola’s. We ordered the crawfish queso and BBQ shrimp. They were very rich and filling.

Tori made us a reservation at Saint John’s for 7:30 Sat. night. We weren’t very hungry because our late lunch was so rich. Laura ordered a glass of the Maison Albert Bichot (2021), which was really light and smooth. As for the food, we got oysters 3 ways, an oyster salad, and split a cup of their gumbo. We’d love to go back when we’re really hungry to try their tasting menu! We went to the Peacock Room which was an interesting bar in the bottom of a hotel. Their drinks were pretty good. I stuck to bourbon/rye based drinks. We walked around a bit and ended up getting back home around 2AM again.

Sunday morning we walked 10 mins to a breakfast place called French Toast in the quarter. We shared a chicken biscuit, super fluffy french toast, and a delectable ham, mushroom, and gruyere crepe. We got on the road around 11:30 AM and got home around 5. We skipped lunch because breakfast was so filling. It was so nice to be able to get away for a weekend where the weather was so much warmer than Memphis!

Saved Google Map of our food, bar, and other options.

Asheville, NC

Elek and I settled in our very clean and modern looking AirBnB around 6:15 PM ET. Then we started watching Vegas Vacation while we relaxed, which was hilarious. We walked to dinner around the block at the White Duck. I got the Korean Beef and bang bang shrimp tacos and Elek got the Lamb Gyro, black bean and cheese, and steak and cheese taco.
The lamb gyro and the Korean beef were wonderful! The bean taco was a little carb heavy. Bang bang shrimp was pretty good as well as the steak and cheese taco. We walked around the downtown area a bit and went to Sunshine Sammies for desert. They had great ice cream!

For brunch we went to Tupelo Honey and both had the (deconstructed) fried chicken biscuit with gravy. The chicken was seasoned wonderfully! I have to admit my biscuits are better though! We both tried an in house soda – I tried the blueberry and Elek had the lavender limeade fizz. They were both surprisingly tasty. They brought out 2 biscuits with blueberry compote and house made honey, hence the name of the restaurant, on the house.

Our next stop was the Retrocade which was a few miles away in West Asheville. It’s two floors of retro video games, fighting games, and pinball games. It was pretty fun – all you can play for $10 per person. They also serve beer and food there. We thought the Mast General Store might be interesting but it was just about as you would expect from a general store and similar to Cracker Barrel. Next, we walked by the Soda Fountain at Woolworth’s, but it was closed at the time. Would love to have been able to go by to get a sandwich and a malted milkshake – maybe next time!

For our food tour, Kelly was our guide. She was very knowledgeable about the history of the area as well as the restaurants. We got a taste of vegetable curry at blue dream curry house, 2 french restaurants – Isa’s french bistro and Bouchon, Aux bar, Polanco – a mexican restaurant and had a margarita and an enchilada. We ended at Asheville Chocolate and had a delicious salted chocolate caramel and then finished with mint chocolate chip and dark, rich chocolate gelato. The dark chocolate gelato was the best I’ve ever had!

Next morning we went to a donut place called the Underground Cafe where they had extremely large donuts which were very tasty. We both got a different kind and milk. Elek had a wonderful idea to pick up breakfast since we were planning on leaving before anything would be open the next morning. So, we went by Button & Co. Bagels to grab two everything bagels and scallion cream cheese for the next morning. 

The Broad Chocolate Factory Tour was really informative. We got to sample a multitude of chocolates including nibs. We learned about the whole process of creating chocolate from cacao is more complicated than I thought! I’d love to go back to experience more of the night life.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Day 1: We walked down the block to the square to browse around in the Supermax. There was a guy watching anime while checking out dressed in sweatpants and crocs, an interesting character indeed. Next, we walked down by cruise ships and took photo in front of I love PR sign. We ate dinner at the top of hotel Milano at a restaurant called Punto de Vista. There was a wonderful breeze and bright moonlight. You could see the cruise ship docked next to the boardwalk. The mofongo with pork was delicious. Also got fried sampler. Everything was very…fried. We slept poorly because of light in hallway that came in through a window and due to cars driving over metal plate right outside our window. Thank god we brought the white noise machine.

Day 2: We had to get to plaza colon by 7 am! The bus made several stops before heading to Fajardo – no food or coffee allowed on the bus! Once we got to the harbor we got coffee and guava/cheese quesito that was surprisingly good for being from a deli. We picked up our flippers and a snorkel then boarded catamaran. Chris was an amusing bartender. Huge waves slapped the catamaran as we made our way out to sea. At first the crew teased us by playing reggae for 2 seconds (whihch we very much enjoyed), then played horribly corny music. Our first stop was a “deserted” island with crystal clear and extremely salty water. We were so buoyant! Started drinking captain’s specials/other drinks with Don Q, the natives’ preferred rum choice. Amazingly, the crew served us a delicious and healthy lunch which included Pan de agua. A similar sized boat anchored next to us with folks dancing – Puerto Rican style. What a hoot!

Our next stop was near a coral reef where we snorkeled. We were able to see a multitude of fish as well as the coral reef itself. It was so neat! We noticed we were parked next to boat called “Spread Eagle 11.” On the bus home, Laura listened to sleep meditation and napped as the AC went out on bus. It was very uncomfortable! We showered after we got back and went to Ajo de Pais, which had a great, authentic atmosphere. We ate pinchos de mahimahi, seafood paella, and some conch “dumplings” – arepas de coco. Everything was delicious and the mojitos were refreshing. Great rum punch too! I figured out how to turn out lights I hallway and block light so we slept much better.

Day 3: Grabbed excellent coffee and quesitos (1 de quest y 1 de guayba) from Mallorca. Soooooooo good!!!!!! We walked a few blocks to meet folks from food tour at 9:45. Carmen and Ricardo were our knowledgeable guides for the Flavors of San Juan food tour. We saw a couple from the booze cruise – Asian guy, Tiny Puerto Rican – by way of Chicago – girl. Also lesbian couple from Las Vegas and 2 girls from China, one with braces. First stop – coffee shop called Cuatro sombras with excellent coffee. They served us a small sandwich on croissant with guava butter, Black Forest ham and provolone. Second stop: senor paleta where we tasted passion fruit popsicles. Third stop: cafe el punto which was the art place we saw the night before. We tasted ceviche with pineapple and sriracha and alcapurrias with hot sauce called pique. They say there are as many versions of pique on the island as there are people!

Fourth stop – We made our own mofongo with a mortar and pestle and had pollo criollo and mojitos. Fifth stop – Chocobar Cortes. They served us hot chocolate with square of chocolate and cheddar – definitely an interesting combination – and churros with no cinnamon. We learned about storybooks distributed with chocolate in 40s and 50s, which was one of the only sources of written material since the islanders were so poor during that time. We also learned why some of the cobblestones are blue – they were the original ones from ship ballasts and have oxidized over time. There’s a picture above that shows the difference between those and the new ones. The older ones have held up better long term than the newer ones. Additionally we learned that the wall which was 60 feet high was created with multiple layers of sand and stone so cannon balls could not fully penetrate the wall.

We went shopping after the food tour at Spicy Carribee and various stores to purchase souvenirs. We ate the the gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles at an Italian restaurant for dinner called L’Osteria Decanter – delicious! To finish off the night we walked to the bar La Factoria which was where Despacito was filmed and is also listed as one of the best bars in the world! The interesting thing about this bar was that it was a bar within a bar 4 deep – all with a different twist and opening later and later as you go deeper.

Day 4: Got pastelitos for breakfast and it rained most of the day. We got lunch at Cafe El Punto where we got the stuffed avocado (with ceviche) which was light and refreshing! We explored Santurce which was unfortunately dead at the time. While we were there we went into one art gallery and then called it quits. When we got back to Old Town, we got completely soaked walking back to the AirBnB – so much so I had to blow dry my shoes.

After it stopped raining we went for a walk to the north and then east where we saw a beautiful expanse of green space prior to a fort. People offered to take a video and pictures from a drone of us for a price. We declined. We continued south until we found a hole in the wall rum tasting bar called Casa Melaza which had THE best pina colada we have ever tasted! It’s definitely worth the trip there! Later for dinner we went out to Cayo Caribe to get the fish tacos. On the way back we got gelato with chocolate drizzle – yum!

Day 5: The weather cleared and we took a long walk to pigeon park where pigeons live like kings and queens in their own little cubby-holes. We wanted to see the little chapel but it didn’t open while we were there. There was a group of very annoying people with whistles. Why someone would give these people whistles is beyond me. After this walk we headed to the airport and sadly ate some food in the airport prior to our flight. I’m glad we managed to avoid civil unrest and hurricanes! It was a great trip!

New York! New York!


So this past Christmas, Elek’s main present from me was a trip to New York. I already ran it by him, but to add to the fun of Christmas morning, I put #1 of 10 clues of a scavenger hunt in his stocking. He really enjoyed the activity as it took him from the freezer to his basketball to bike helmet to the back of the bathroom mirror. Well we just got back from our trip and we certainly made it worthwhile! I made a Google map with most everything we were going to do or try to do which you should be able to view here.  Elek really had no sense of New York other than movie stars and TV Shows. I think he really got a better understanding of the Big Apple in general. 



We flew in Tues. June 5th very early. We took the 6 AM direct flight from Memphis. Immediately we went to my friend Jenny’s to drop off our luggage. Our first order of business was to stroll through Central Park. We did for a bit on the north end and then ended up eating lunch at Sal & Carmine’s Pizza apparently established over 60 years ago. Their cash register reflected this fact. Next, we stopped by the Seinfeld diner where they always met to get coffee. Elek was very excited to have his picture made outside of it. We made a brief stop back at Jenny’s apartment and we knew it was time to get real so after a short rest Elek and I headed into midtown Manhattan.

One of Elek’s requests was to go to M&M World where he got his name printed on a cup full of M&Ms as we waited! I had no idea that was even an option. Our next stop was Madame Tussaud’s wax museum which was as creepy as it was fascinating! Some of the figures looked very life like while others not so much. This stop was so worth it! We scooted through Times Square during the day on our way to the Grand Central Terminal. I don’t recall if I have ever been there but I remember Grand Central Terminal from some flash mob videos I’ve seen. Another couple of things we stumbled across were Nintendo NY and the LEGO store both of which Elek had a good time seeing. In the LEGO store there was a large dragon whose body was part way out of the ceiling and wall which must have taken a team a huge amount of time to assemble! Lastly in this area we had to wander by Rockefeller Center with NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall. 

I did some research with the help of Jenny for places to eat and the one we settled on Tues. evening was Kottu House, which is a Sri Lankan place that was just delicious! We got the classic chicken and deviled beef. Both were very flavorful, however, the beef was Elek’s favorite. The mild was spicy enough for us! For dessert we walked around the corner to an ice cream sandwich bar called Melt. They were so rich! On the way back to the apartment Elek saw a game of soccer and asked if he could play with multiple adults whose first language was not English and he had a blast! I’m so proud of him for asking to play! Needless to say Tues. was one heck of a full day!


We started off with breakfast at Absolute Bagels which was fresh, light and delicious! Then we headed on to midtown Manhattan to knock a few more things off our list including the Empire State Building up to the 86th floor. The view was amazing! Elek really got a kick out of it. I especially remember as a kid reading about it and how tall it was. It was a treat to go all the way up there and read about how quickly they built it! Next, we dropped by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on the way to Green Acre Park which is a little pocket park that had a waterfall in it. It was really amazing that such a place could exist within New York City! From here we headed to eat lunch at Antico Noe, an authentic panini place and got the 2 and 24. Lastly for this part of the day we took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The view was great and it was nice not to have to walk for a while. We headed back to Jenny’s to have our daily rest. 

We ended Wed. with dinner and a show at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. We ordered a burger with all the fixings, Manhattan with gran marnier (for me not Elek!), waffles, and a chocolate shake. The singing here was awesome! Like me at his age, Elek did not want to be the center of attention and was glad we weren’t celebrating his birthday at the time! After dinner we explored Times Square at night which I’ll always remember being amazed at how bright the screens are when it’s dark outside! It looks like daytime! 


That brings us to our last full day, Thursday. We started our day at the Hungarian Pastry Shop. We ordered 2 pain au chocolate and a flaky apple thing all of which was very rich and sweet. We headed back to Manhattan where we heard a mariachi band on the subway to Wall Street, a quintessential New York experience. We walked to and saw the 911 memorial which was just incredible and moving. So many people’s names were carved into it. On the way to lunch we walked by and saw St. Peter’s Church as well as City Hall. We ended up at Prince Street Pizza where we ordered  Neapolitan and cheese pizza. Honestly and people may hate me for saying this, but Aldo’s was better than all of the pizza I had in New York! 

After this we went back to the apartment for our daily nap. I looked up and read a lot of reviews of a ramen noodle bar called Ippudo, which apparently always has a line! We decided to go early and check it out. Amazingly we got in without a wait at 5:45 and ordered the Philly special (steak buns) and Akumadu Modern, a ramen bowl both of which were really tasty. We saved room for dessert at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar where we ordered a S’more Concoction and a chocolate martini. The chocolate here was insane as it was in everything! We definitely have to take a break from sweets after this experience. 


It’s our last day in New York and our flight is later in the evening so we decided to head to Central Park. We ended up walking about half the length of it and stumbled across the Natural History museum which was very interesting. We saw the ocean exhibit as well as the exhibit for early evolution which was fascinating! I could spend a whole day in that museum. For lunch was made the hike to Zabar’s deli where Elek oddly got a California roll and I got a ham and cheese sandwich. It was pretty tasty and it was clear this was a go to spot for all ages. 


I have to say we REALLY REALLY lucked out with not having to wait in line the entire trip! The only exception was Ellen’s Stardust Diner but that line wasn’t bad. At this point in the trip we went back to the apartment to rest up and get ready to head to the airport. I mapped everything out using the app City Mapper. We walked to the metro and got on a train and off 2 stops later. We walked to a bus stop and waited about 15-20 minutes for a bus headed to the airport and it was PACKED. We squeezed onto the bus and proceeded to stand, cramped for about an hour and a half to get to the airport! I’m so glad we left with so much time to spare as we needed it! We left the apartment at 3 PM for a 7:49 PM flight and we got to the airport a little past 5. It was one of the most miserable rides I’ve ever been on. While it was a wonderful trip I’m very glad to be back home now. I truly hope it gave Elek some perspective for what New York is like. He said he never would live there and I would have to agree as I like my underdog city of Memphis, TN just fine!

Trip to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Doug and I came with some meals ready to eat, snacks, and a fifth of rum I bought in Charlotte, NC at the duty free shop in the airport. 
Here are some of the many pictures we took:
Tuesday Feb 13th we walked around Turtle Cove to get more familiar with the area. 

Interestingly this is supposedly their peak time and there aren’t very many people here. The most recent hurricane scared some people off, but in general this area isn’t very populated even during peak. Their resorts are much smaller than other more popular areas. 
Feb. 15th we went to find the plantation (but didn’t because Google maps was wrong and people kept pointing us all over the place) but we happened across the only brewery in the country (Turk’s Head Brewery) so we took a tour and sampled the beer. That’s pretty funny since I found this video by Caicos Girl prior to traveling to Provo! It was pretty good and my favorites were the “London Fog” porter and the “Gon-Ta-Nort” amber ale. I also bought some of their white rum for $16. In the grocery a fifth of rum is about $40 which is 4 times as much as in the U.S. typically. 
That night we went to the local fish fry which is every Thurs night. It was a lot of fun with live music and tons of booths set up with food, drinks, and trinkets. It rained on us a little bit. I got red snapper tacos which were really good. Later we got in the hot tub which is always fun. 😀
Friday we walked about 7 miles going to the Cheshire Plantation and back which is about the only historical thing to do on this island. It was underwhelming. We ate lunch again at Shark Bites and I got the blackened red snapper sandwich which was really good. I believe I’ve taken a nap every day. Friday evening we took a “jitney” from our place to the Saltmills Plaza, which had all kinds of expensive shops that we’re not really interested in. It turns out as you move from west to east on the north side of the island everything becomes more expensive and there are more all inclusive resorts.
Sat. we booked a half day snorkeling adventure for Sun. morning. We went to the beach a couple times and swam. We ate lunch at the Naughty Gull which was pretty good but smaller than I hoped. It’s just a coffee shop with breakfast and sandwiches for lunch.
Things we learned about the islands:
It’s very safe, though not very pedestrian friendly (for walking long distances). 
People are nice, say hi and ask questions!
While the primary language is English, people also speak creole and some have Haitian or Jamaican accents. 
The money here is the USD $ and most places take major credit cards. 
Jitneys are the way to travel.
From west to east gets more expensive.
Everything is really expensive here due to the large import tax of between 25 and 45%!
Bring your own alcohol (limit 1 litre per person in customs)!
Bring your own non perishable food as you can.
Pack your own sunscreen and a collapsible cooler!
Bugs aren’t too bad because it’s usually so windy on the beach, however, you may want to bring a bottle of bug spray. 
Definitely check out the fish fry!

Asia Trip – Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai


Day 1 – Got in at midnight, got a driver to take us to the hotel which was very tall and has a great view of the city! Went to bed at 1:30 AM and slept all the way through the night until my alarm at 8 AM. 

Day 2 – Had breakfast in the hotel (Cafe Swiss) which was delicious! They had a huge selection of traditional american, Indian, and Chinese foods. I had several dumplings and vegetable korma. They both were very tasty. They also had fresh juice so I got carrot juice.

Around 10 AM, we walked across the bay to the Gardens by the Bay. We paid for the tram and went to both the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Both were really beautiful and unique. Next, we walked to Chinatown and ate the Hainanese chicken and rice and bok choy at Tian Tian in a food market. It was delicious with the spicy sauce and soy sauces. Sheetal and Janet both got a whole coconut for the juice and Kelli (my manager) and I got frozen mango drinks.

We walked back to the hotel to regroup. Margo and I went for a swim in the hotel’s pool. It gets dark here relatively early (around 6 PM). We met in the lobby to go to dinner and the “Sky Bar” at the Sands.

Day 3 – I went to the Arts and Science museum which had some altered reality exhibits, though it was mostly for younger children. We went to a restaurant with all kinds of odd Asian foods for lunch called Xiang Special. It was actually pretty good. It turns out also that there are a TON of malls here in Singapore. When I asked what they do for fun here, it was either night life or go shopping at the malls. It is very safe here and very clean as the punishments are really strict. Chewing gum is against the law as well.

We went to meet our colleagues in Singapore from FedEx and TNT, the company we acquired. We also visited a couple of customers as well.


Kong Kong

This is where work pretty much takes all of my time. Hong Kong was relatively small in area so they built their buildings up very high. I did have some time when we first got to Hong Kong to go to Sam’s Tailor to get a charcoal grey, custom, woolen cashmere suit made along with two shirts. I don’t have a picture in the suit yet. We also were able to go to the ladies’ market where they sold everything you can think of from belts to purses to figurines, fans, and wigs. Another interesting thing about the city was that all of their scaffolding was made of bamboo. It really makes since because it grows so fast and is so renewable.

During the weekend prior to going to our last stop, Shanghai, we took a tour and rode a cable car up a couple of mountains to see the giant Buddha and monastery. We also visited what used to be an old fishing village. They have since converted the fishing boats to boats to give tours in. They also mentioned they have over-fished the area for quite some time. The waterfront was beautiful, especially at night.

We had more meetings with different colleagues from FedEx and TNT as well as with customers.



The waterfront in Shanghai was also beautiful at night. Shanghai was different than Hong Kong in that they had plenty of land so it was kind of like a concrete jungle with vast expanses of buildings. It took forever to get anywhere. They have a population of about 24 million.

We visited an old temple and the old market in the old part of the city which was much nicer than the rest of it in my opinion. Another cool thing was the Oriental Pearl tower in Shanghai.


The pictures are here